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  1. Global temperature deviations from the 1950-2008 average suggests that the earth’s temperature is steadily increasing. Since 1966 the increase has been approximately 0.6 egrees C, indicating a rate of about 0.20 C per decade. The rate of increase appears to be higher now. This site is updated each day.

    Comment by Wendell Tangborn — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:20 AM

  2. Thanks for this post Rasmus.

    Skeptics seem to point to the Antarctic and say, “there is little or no warming there” to dispute the importance of the dramatic changes in the Arctic.

    Leaving aside the collapse of the Larsen-B ice shelf and other ice shelves in Antarctica, is it too simplistic to expect that dramatic changes should be anticipated first in the Arctic because it is sea covered by a few meters of sea ice and therefore more susceptible to change, in comparison to Antarctica (which is obviously land covered by glacial ice up to several kilometers thick in places)?

    In short, why are more rapid changes being observed in the Arctic in comparison to Antarctica?

    Are there similar gaps in the temperature record for Antarctica as in the Arctic?

    Comment by Chris McGrath — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:36 AM

  3. See:

    That says it all. Coal stocks are finally being affected by what you do. For $100 Billion/year, somebody is bound to take a dim view of RealClimate.


    Comment by Edward Greisch — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:36 AM

  4. The observation that temperatures have not been rising since 1998 is generally raised as a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comment. Its not seriously presented as proof that AGW is not real. Its more to teasingly counter the continual selective use of data to ‘prove’ that AGW is certain. Hansen had only about 10 years of a rising trend when he first (most publicly) declared AGW is a big threat.

    As HADCRU3v is the most prominent data set of the IPCC, surely this has more weight, given how often we are reminded IPCC represents the ‘scientific concensus’.

    By the way, why does your top graph show HADCRU3v stopping in 2005? Why not include 2007 data, now that we are in Nov 2008, which would show a drop back to 0.4 degC? In contrast, MBH99 managed to include 1998 instrumental data.

    You talk about “confusion”. This only arises from the absence of scientific certainty. Many are saying the science is certain and settled. But it doesn’t take much to demonstrate it is not. Raising the example of non-rising temperutures is only an example of this. We also see IPCC presented as the beacon of truth, but when its data are not extreme enough, we are told (by you here) thta ‘there are other data’. As I say, the non-rising temperature does not prove that AGW is not real, but rather demonstrates that the case is not settled.

    Comment by PHE — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:13 AM

  5. Rasmus, great and thorough posting! The attention to details is much appreciated with extensive citations. You do echo several points I have been saying both in glogs like these and to people I personally know mis interpreting the models, data and even the lack of direct data for some attribution, yet the agreements among several sources consistent with modeling and observations of AGW and its effects are remarkable. This post also answers alot o questions the denialists so vehemently post and it is consistent with the process of science, not allowing bias and agendas to intefere with a fair and balanced analysis.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:41 AM

  6. I even must concede to the premise and accuracy of these particular wikipedia entries.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:44 AM

  7. A big hello to all the experts at RealClimate.I am an amateur climate guy,Mark J. Fiore,(not the famous political cartoonist), who has read each and every press release and news summary of all studies and news on global warming since 1987.I graduated Harvard, 1982, and Boston College Law, 1987. I sometimes post to RealClimate, as an amateur.It took me one full hour to understand this post, and some of the graphs were not easy for me.
    My question today to all of you is this: I understand that we must shoot for 350 ppm as a target,BUT my research indicates that co2 ppm could increase to the upper 500 to low 600 ppm within the next 200 years. My most recent post a few weeks ago noted that the methal hydrates at the bottom of the oceans and the peat mosses in Siberia and Canada have begun their thaw. Are we not and should we not, from a moral standpoint, be concerned about the two hundred year time scale? Native Americans speak of the duty to the seventh generation. Stuart Brand, of the long now foundation, speaks to the same issue.
    Let’s be honest. Even a well informed amateur such as myself knows that 350 ppm is completely unrealistic, although completely necessary, to halt the worst effects of global warming. My research, (which amounts to amassing thousands of stories, websites, reports, and international meeing and treaty summaries, along with a close following of all international bodies concerned with global warming, into a huge, huge, disorganized, bookmark list,) indicates, that, for the worst effects of global warming to be SOMEWHAT diminished, we would need to get under 300 ppm.
    How in the heck is society going to ever get to under 350 ppm? We are at 387 and counting. The pipleine alone in existence will force us above the high 400’s.China is increasing the burning of coal. The oceans’ acidification indicates CLEARLY that the oceans job as a carbon sink has had it. The oceans will not absorb nearly as much co2 as in the past. The Amazon, and all forests, are under continued,relentless assault. As the glaciers retreat, faster and faster than models ever predicted, even from the past three years, the albedo effect is lost. More ground turns from white reflective snow to black, heat absorbant dirt.The same effect occurs as sea ice is lost.The corals blanch,and, as I stated last year on this site, the shutdown of the north Atlantic current will occur, since the salinity level studies I spoke of last year, off Greenland, continue to show that the upwelling mechanisms driving the North Atlanic current are in severe jeapordy, because the change in salinity levels effects the driver of the current, the upwelling and downwelling of different salinity levels off Greenland. How many feedback loops do we need to see in the news before we realize that an unstoppable, runaway, warming event is taking place? Most people worth their salt,(pun intended), know that the 6th Epoch, the Anthropocene, has indeed been ushered in by mankind.Climate changes that before occurred in scales of hundreds of thousands of years are now taking place within decades.The sheer evidence of many, many, unstoppable feedback mechanisms is enormous.
    My original question stands. How does society, as it stands now, not understand that they have locked into the system already a rise to the high 500’s ppm, and, in my humble opinion, the low 600’s are NOT out of the question.To me this is just as much of a tragedy if it takes place 250 years from now as it is if it takes only 100 years.In the end, the seventh generation is screwed by a huge loss of fresh water, a huge increase in temperature, an ocean that no longer produces even one tenth of its total protein and carboydrate output as it did in the 1800’s.An atmosphere clouded by super storms of sand from the large increase in desertification, the extra soot in the air from the burning forests, and the crop losses from soil degradation.
    Sorry for the ramble, but the evidence is compelling that things are much, much, much worse than even the best experts fear.Perhaps the reading I did a few years ago about the Earth getting a fever to cleanse it of an infection is coming back to mind. As you all recall, the books talked about man as an infectious disease, or cancer, and, that nature will eventually select against a species that destroys the climate stability that enables it to survive.As I recall, the analogy was similar to the human body getting a fever to destroy an infectious agent.
    The climate tips naturally, and has, many, many, times, due to the ice ages, and temperature variations. Yet, those were caused by natural events. We are changing the climate in exactly the same way one would if one were deliberatly trying to eliminate and cause to go extinct most biological diversity on the planet. In fact, if one’s goal were to eliminate most of the current biodiversity on the planet, the strategy would look EXACTLY LIKE THE NEWS SINCE 1987.
    350 ppm? The planet will be lucky to stabilize under 550 ppm. Get with the program, humans.The battle will be won of lost on your planet within the next 15 years.
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If worldwide manmade co2 emissions do not fall 80% below 1990 levels, RIGHT NOW, NOT BY 2050, THEN THERE IS NO CHANCE IN HELL OF STABILIZING ANYWHERE CLOSE TO 350 PPM.
    Thanks for reading.
    Mark J.Fiore

    Comment by Mark J. Fiore — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:47 AM

  8. Mind the gap, indeed! Great post. Just wanted to let you know that I have filed a class action lawsuit on global warming in the International Criminal Court in the Hague, against all current leaders on all nations on Earth, in behalf of all future generations not born yet, forever and ever, as long as this human species shall last…… and for US$1 billion in damages, to be donated if case is accepted and won to groups fighting global warming now! See the news here:

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:13 AM

  9. Thanks for the post.

    The problem of GCM’s representing the evolution in the Arctic rises the question, if the faster than expected decline might have at least hemispheric consequences that are not captured by the models.
    The stronger than average warming in the Arctic leads to a decrease of the temperature gradient between the tropics and the pole. This in turn is probably a major reason for the projected northward shift of the polar front (and storm tracks) and the northward extension of the Hadley cell (and thus the Subtropics). The latter is probably responsible e.g. for the (robust) projection of summer drying of the Mediterranean (and other subtropic regions).

    The question is, if a faster than expected warming of the Arctic could speed up and strengthen these developments. Moreover, the faster Arctic warming might produce low pole-tropic temperature gradients that do not show up in climate models. And we therefore have no hint what they might lead to.

    I don’t know if it would be possible to force a climate model with the observed sea ice extent evolution (and an extrapolation) to get some information what this might produce.

    Comment by Urs Neu — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:36 AM

  10. [edit]

    In all of your temperature graphs 1998 is far from the hotest year in history. But it actually was, at least accordong to HadCRUT and alll other temperature data than GISS. It may be the hottest (or a tie) even according to the GISS data.

    Comment by Magnus — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:39 AM

  11. Thanks for the added analysis. I did not work through all the detail, but it seems clear from the graphs that the global mean temp of the last 10 years has not been falling. PAY ATTENTION MEDIA

    Anyway, it is an error to take such a short period on the graph as any indication.

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:26 AM

  12. Where can I get some info on the CO2e values for the last 1000 years and for the SRES scenarios. I am after data that i can graph.

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:28 AM

  13. So – correct me if I’m misunderstanding – but in a nutshell the problem is that the CRU dataset just doesn’t cover the areas where most warming is occurring?

    Comment by Neuroskeptic — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:27 AM

  14. Climate scientists in the form of the IPCC has not failed to convince those who need to be influenced. Barack Obama is convinced, the EU is convinced, so is China and India (the asian haze needs dealing with first though no doubt) and even Australia now need to act to reduce emissions.

    Ok so the world has as yet failed to act globally as yet but it is next years post Kyoto meeting that will assist in the realigning of the global economy and how their power their operations.

    Real climate maybe failing to convince that CA website which is full of skeptics but on the whole this website has been scientific at all times and hence faithful to the data, the models and the climate science.

    RC has not only confounded the skeptics but also the people pro climate people who are fortelling destruction which is also unlikely to happen.

    Comment by pete best — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:31 AM

  15. thank you rasmus for being so candid about Gillett et al.

    Would it be possible to complete the figures above with corresponding data including Antarctica, please?

    I was also under the impression that the reduction in sea ice can be also explained in terms of changed wind patterns. What is your take into that?

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:35 AM

  16. That global temperatures have not been rising this century is not I think disputed.

    That this is not inconsistent with an overall global warming trend is (on statistical grounds) not I think disputed. (It is not inconsistent with an overall cooling trend either).

    So why does any reasonable person think that the FACTS actually provide CONFIRMATION for a theory of AGW?

    Whatever the physics says, we ignore FACTS at our peril.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:05 AM

  17. Great graphics, especially the rotating globe.

    I don’t know how much time it took to create this but it would be very informative to try different time periods and see if there are different cycles.

    For example, the 1945 versus 1975 globe would show a completely opposite view.

    Comment by John Lang — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:40 AM

  18. 15, Maurizio, there has been changes in dominant winds, but my take on the greater ice melt is a flat out warmer atmosphere (causing these winds to change) which shows itself as a brighter twilight during the long night, especially when there is a cooling on the surface. The brighter light is captured and travels at the interface just below the inversion peak (upper Air temperature Maxima). This warm air layer gets its heat reflected downwards during cloudy periods, especially during long night extensive cloudy periods, as a result, Arctic ocean ice doesn’t thicken so much during darkness and leaves it up to summer sunlight (if there is some) to finish off what is left of it. Complementary
    information to the Arctic warming analysis would be using DWT’s of the few left Upper Air stations in the Circumpolar zone and crunch up temperature trends of the entire atmosphere, when variances from year to year are very small, but are mostly for the warmer.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:50 AM

  19. PHE writes:

    The observation that temperatures have not been rising since 1998 is generally raised as a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comment. Its not seriously presented as proof that AGW is not real. Its more to teasingly counter the continual selective use of data to ‘prove’ that AGW is certain. Hansen had only about 10 years of a rising trend when he first (most publicly) declared AGW is a big threat.

    Actually, annual temperature figures go back to about 1880. There hasn’t been any “selective use of data to ‘prove’ that AGW is certain.” The selective use of data has all been on the denier side, when they claim that “global warming stopped in 1998!” Don’t tell me it’s meant tongue-in-cheek, not when so many internet morons defend it to the death. Try telling Tilo Reber or “cohenite” that it’s meant tongue-in-cheek. Deniers generally do not understand and don’t want to understand that ten years means nothing to climate. The World Meteorological Organization defines climate as mean regional or global weather over a period of 30 years or more. They didn’t pick that number out of a hat.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:02 AM

  20. Ricki:

    Try here:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:06 AM

  21. I’ve reading the entire report from UNEP on Atmospheric Brown Clouds and that would go a long way to answering the question about the current relative ‘cooling trend’. If is was not for the sulphuric and micro carbon (soot) laden atmosphere over almost every major city the world’s temp would now be 2.75C hotter than at present. The sulphur in the lower atmosphere below 15kms is reflecting sunlight back into space but the black soot also a component in the ABC’s is heating when bombarded with solar radiation and warming the atmosphere up to 15kms dramatically affecting cloud formation and monsoon/drought cycles.
    The jist of this is that we must NOT suddenly switch off carbon/sulphur producing industries over the planet but instead we must first dramatically reduce CO2 emissions from every conceivable source, then gradually tackle coal/fossil fuel sources to smoothly remove the soot from the air to prevent a sudden leap in average global temps which if it is indeed 2.75C as the UNEP predicts will permanently destroy the climates ability to regulate itself and lead to catastrophic changes on the land and sea.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:19 AM

  22. Re 10:

    Magnus, look again at the graph. The Hadcrut data in the graph is labelled UAE-CRU. You’ll see that 1998 is indeed shown as the highest temp for that dataset, just as you stated it to be. (Look for the blue squares.) The GISS data shown also clearly agrees with your (correct) description (though the pink triangle is partially obscured by the “CRU” blue square.) If, like me, you have trouble seeing the details of the graphic, you can click on it to access a PDF version which will allow you to enlarge it.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:25 AM

  23. from 17..What that report tells me is that we are already on borrowed time and we have been thrown a very ironic life line with respect to ABC’s which we must grasp with both hands.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:25 AM

  24. Good post, important to see why GISS and CRU temperatures are different. Just wondering, why aren’t the satellite-based temperature datasets not included? Would be another independent data source.

    Comment by Guido — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:40 AM

  25. Nice graphics. Does HadCrut have any plans to fill in the Arctic. As is the record is certainly flawed. Wendell-what data set is updated daily that you refer to? Mark Fiore astute post anything short of 450 ppm seems unrealistic to me.

    Comment by mauri pelto — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:06 AM

  26. Neuroskeptic – There are little to no actual data (i.e., temperature measurements)from most of the Artic. The difference between the HadCrut and GISS treatment of this problem is that HadCrut does not use those grid cells to calculate the global temperature anomaly while GISS interpolates/extrapolates from the few stations around the artic to infill temperature estimates for the grid cells where no “real” data is available. Both methods are valid approaches to treating areas without actual measurements and both have advantages and disadvantages. I think Rasmus points out that model simulations where the available temp data is plugged into the models (i.e., the re-analysis) provide support for a warming Artic and GISS’s interpolation/extrapolation method. However, he wisely cautions that the model simulations are just that and cannot, by themselves, be considered as evidence of a specific temperature trend.

    It is good that there is a concerted effort to obtain more actual data from the Artic region.

    [Response: There is a comprehensive arctic buoy program that can be used to give temperature data. This is an ongoing analysis to generate gridded data but it isn’t available in real time like the station data. – gavin]

    Comment by Bob North — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:26 AM

  27. Note that we’ve got a paper soon to come out in “The Cryosphere” (and we’ll have a poster at AGU) looking at recent “Arctic Amplification” that you discuss (the stronger rise in surface air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean compared to lower latitudes). We make use of data from both the NCEP/NCAR and JRA-25 reanalyses. JRA-25 a product of the Japan Meteorological Agency. It’s a pretty impressive signal, and is clearly associated with loss of the sea ice cover. You see the signal in autumn, as this is when the ocean is losing the heat it gained (in summer) back to the atmosphere. Very little happening in summer itself (as expected) as the melting ice surface and heat sensible heat gain in the mixed layer limit the surface air temperature change.

    [Response: Thanks for the heads up on this Mark. Looking forward to dropping by your poster at AGU. -mike]

    Comment by Mark C. Serreze — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:30 AM


    Is all this related to the strange Arctic sea ice response to latent fusion of sea temperatures which is causing the sea ice to form very oddly on the graphs?

    It seems that the oceans have absorbed much heat over the summer but have relased it into the atmosphere which has caused the ocean to freeze quickly and oddly even though the atmosphere is warmer than usual.

    Comment by pete best — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:50 AM

  29. Urs (9), a question: Why does lesser tropic-polar gradient shift the fronts and cells? It’s not obvious why that would happen (but then I have limited knowledge here…)

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Nov 2008 @ 11:10 AM

  30. Can someone point to a technical paper where I can learn more about the GISS methodology of arctic treatment.

    Also, if the 1930-40 arctic warming was AO-induced, what kind of expected temperature variations would be seen in the coastal areas verus the center of the GIS? Most the older data seems to be mostly southern, all coastal so it seems tough to say with high confidence what that area was doing at the time.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 18 Nov 2008 @ 11:32 AM

  31. RE 16: Simon wrote:

    “So why does any reasonable person think that the FACTS actually provide CONFIRMATION for a theory of AGW?”

    Because your mental map of the factual terrain is flawed by the “cherry-picking” fallacy. That is, you are comparing the 2000’s to 1998 and saying, “not warmer.” However, if you compare the mean global temp for the 2000’s so far to the mean for the 90’s you are definitely going to have to say, “warmer.” (This is not the optimum way to assess trends either, but for a simple illustrative comparison is probably not too bad.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:27 PM

  32. Just curious, why was the data from UAH and RSS not included in this discussion? If one plots the records from GISS, HADCru, RSS and UAH; GISS is the outlier, and three of the four primary global temperature measuring systems show a decrease over the most recent six years and a downward trend over the past decade; not that this establishes a significant trend yet. I have personally checked 24 of the USHCN stations in the western U.S. and after seeing the gross quality control problems with the current ground-based measurements, have far greater confidence in the RSS and UAH data.

    Comment by Don Healy — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:30 PM

  33. #19 Barton Paul Levenson

    I don’t think anyone can say with certain what the “average global temperature” was back in 1880. There were no temperature readings for huge portions of the globe. If you cannot say with certainty what the 1880 temperature was then how can you say with certainty that 2008 is warmer in comparison? At best, studies seem to indicate it might be .5C. Based on recent conversations, there does not seem to be much confidence in what gets reported as overall global october temperatures given the lack of QA on incoming data. Call me a denier if that suits you, but belief in warming does not make it so.

    Comment by Mary — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:31 PM

  34. PHE says “As I say, the non-rising temperature does not prove that AGW is not real, but rather demonstrates that the case is not settled.”

    Well, actually what it demonstrates is that those making the argument are either ignorant or disingenuous. Climate is noisy. It takes at least 30 years for a signal–even a strong one–to emerge from the noise with very high confidence. If you don’t know this, you’ve no business making pronouncements on climate. If you do know this and make pronouncements anyway, you’ve no credibility.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:27 PM

  35. Kevin McKinney #31
    The words “warmer” and “warming” have different meanings. Trends change.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:36 PM

  36. Chris McGrath (2) — Here is my amateur standing take on it. The circumpolar vortex around Antartica (at about 60 degrees south latitude) is much more pronounced than for the Arctic. This tends to meteorologically isolate most of the Antarctic, excepting only the Antarctic Pennisula, which is warming very fast. For reasons I do not fully understand, with global warming the circumpolar vortex has moved somewhat further south, exposing the Antarctic Pennisula.

    I think that somehow the ozone hole is involved. In any case there are ample resources on the internet for you to more fully understand this physics; there is at least one thread about the Antarctic here on RealClimate.

    [reCAPTCHA reminds us “Gas Managers”.]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:10 PM

  37. How does fit with this discussion?

    And previous ones.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:14 PM

  38. Ray #32 “Climate is noisy. It takes at least 30 years for a signal–even a strong one–to emerge from the noise with very high confidence.”

    Climate is for ever changing as is the rate of change of that change. So after patiently observing for “at least 30 years” in what is it that you then expect to be able to express an opinion with “very high confidence”?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:34 PM

  39. Pete Best writes:
    > It seems that the oceans have absorbed much heat
    > over the summer but have relased it into the
    > atmosphere which has caused the ocean to freeze
    > quickly and oddly

    Pete, I think you’re paraphrasing from the page you point to:
    where they write:

    “Higher-than-average air temperatures …. the Arctic has shown a pattern of strong low-level atmospheric warming over the Arctic Ocean in autumn because of heat loss from the ocean back to the atmosphere…. As larger expanses of open water are left at the end of each melt season, the ocean will continue to hand off heat to the atmosphere.”

    So they are saying to expect something new I think.

    Re “anything short of 450 ppm seems unrealistic” — that’s unrealistic!

    You’re not looking at the most urgent problem we know.;318/5857/1737

    That’s simple physical chemistry, not quantum radiation physics. There’s no argument there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:34 PM

  40. How about graphing changes in dew point and not just temperatures? It seems to me, the heating effect might be offset a bit with more humidity but that would still raise DPs. I don’t see much discussion of that here or elsewhere (it’s in keeping with the practice of newspapers, TV weatherfolk and such to target temperature and be vague about humidity! I am tired of that BTW.)

    Comment by Neil B — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:49 PM

  41. Simon Abingdon, actually, trends do not change–at least they don’t change as rapidly as the noise. That’s the point. And trends in climate emerge from noise on timescales of 30 years or so. Might I suggest the Weather Channel would be more suited to your interests and attention span.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:54 PM

  42. Rasmus asks, why you have “failed to convince”. From my own experience, the most unconvincing evidence for accelerating warming is this graph:

    Eyeballing that, it begs the question, when will the warming resume its 0,2C per decade trajectory? That’s anybody’s guess, and some results will be seen in our lifetimes. And this question should be kept separate from discussions of energy and conservation, which are important issues for mankind an sich.

    Comment by Matti Virtanen — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:07 PM

  43. Ray #40 “trends do not change–at least they don’t change as rapidly as the noise.”

    Thank you Ray, I had not until now been aware that this was axiomatic in climate science. (I am surprised however that noise is not generally well-behaved on timescales of 30 years). Please be so kind as to point me to some confirmatory citations.

    As far your suggestion is concerned, do remember that the ad hominem is now generally proscribed in rational debate, whatever the subject.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:30 PM

  44. Ray #40 “trends in climate emerge from noise on timescales of 30 years or so”

    Come on Ray, this has to mean that supposing there had been an unexpected trend happening during the last twenty years, we wouldn’t expect to detect it for another ten.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:41 PM

  45. rasmus,

    In the figure captioned: ‘The 2007 mean temperature anomaly wrt to 1961-90: (upper left) HadCRUT 3V, (upper right) GISTEMP…’,

    there appears to be a fairly large discrepancy between the two data sets in the Arctic areas where both have data (especially NE of Greenland and north of eastern Europe). Is there any explanation for this?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:53 PM

  46. Hank Roberts why don’t you explain the simple physical chemistry to us regarding this matter?

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:13 PM

  47. Re #7 A very nice and concise rant about the inevitable. Agreed: the next few years are so crucial that every day seems interesting as it begins to dawn on more people the extent of the problem and necessary reactions.

    I am furious that marketing and PR campaigns have for decades been suppressing the growing anxiety of this problem.

    Now I sometimes feel that human decimation is inevitable, and the only unknown is whether SOME of our species will be able to survive.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:20 PM

  48. Dear Richard Pauli.(#47) Thanks for the feedback on my comment #7. I am always honored to be able to post to Realclimate among such intelligent experts.I also am furious that Hansen’s work and the work of many other scientists and govt. agencies were redacted and changed, and stopped from being published by the Bush administration, and the head of the EPA.They cost us much lost time(20 years or so) in the fight against global warming because they skewed public opinion away from the severity of the issue, and cast doubt on the facts supporting global warming. See all the reports from Union of Concerned Scientists, a group based out my home college town of Cambridge MA.
    Let me add one more thing. ENN(Environmental News Network) and ENS(Environmental News Service)both just posted today a new study on water shortages projected for the year 2080. The report indicates that over 3 billion people(up 50% from former estimates) will, by that year,have no access to any water.I have read projections that within 700 years humans could face a total loss of 90% of the species total. Although that would be a great human tragedy, my thinking is that the planet wil then have a “restored carrying capacity” so to speak, to renew and restore over future millenia SOME of the biological diverity we will lose over the next 100 years.
    Again, thanks to the folks at RealClimate for letting me post, since I am not an actual scientist.Tim Ferris, a popular astronomy and astrophysics author that I’ve read extensivly, and like a lot personally, once said to me at a Commonwealth club meeting, here in San Francisco, a few years ago, that maybe species extinction and loss of human life is part of the natural cycle of the planet cleansing itself.At the time, (although he is still one of my favorite cosmology and astronomy authors), I felt the comment was arrogant, and off base.Now I’m not so sure.
    Mark J. Fiore

    Comment by Mark J. Fiore — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:33 PM

  49. > ocean pH

    You can look it up.
    Using the search box at the top of the page finds much, including
    2 July 2005
    The Acid Ocean – the Other Problem with CO2 Emission

    Using Scholar (check for how often an article is cited; follow citations forward in time for more):

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:59 PM

  50. > ocean pH

    Specific details on carbonate chemistry are downloadable as a PDF file; use the link on this page:

    David Archer’s publications page is here:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:10 PM

  51. For some reason I was expecting this article to tie in some way to the London Underground. “Mind the gap!” :P

    Comment by Ian Adams — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:24 PM

  52. Gee, Matti, and why did you pick 1998 as your starting point. Could it be that you were cherrypicking the biggest El Nino in recent memory?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:27 PM

  53. Simon Abingdon,

    Re 30 years for climate:

    “The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) requires the calculation of averages for consecutive periods of 30 years, with the latest covering the 1961-1990 period. However, many WMO members, including the UK, update their averages at the completion of each decade. Thirty years was chosen as a period long enough to eliminate year-to-year variations.”–Met Office website

    There’s also the IPCC and lots of others–it is a generally accepted period for long-term climatic trends to emerge with confidence from noise. Of course, you can observe “trends,” on shorter timescales, it’s just that they will not emerge as statistically significant.

    Also, look up ad hominem:

    My suggestion was motivated by the fact that this is a site about CLIMATE SCIENCE, and you’ve exhibited no interest in either climate or science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:34 PM

  54. RE #8, Hi Danny. I’ll be giving a presentation on “food rights and climate change” at my university’s International Week tomorrow. You’ve got a case! More later….

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:39 PM

  55. Hank Roberts, I do not need to look it up; I was referring to physical chemistry; the why and quantitative analysis of things; what you are referring to is not Pchem. I took and teach Pchem, I understand PH and ocean chemistry; I was inquiring about the five postulates of quantum mechanics and so forth that must be known the first day of class. Pchem assists in virtually everything, but carbonate chemistry is not Pchem, atleast not in the way you mean or are referencing.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:42 PM

  56. > rapid climate change

    It’s real, it’s studied, you’ll recognize the names on the site.

    This does not help those who want to claim warming has stopped. The changes discussed are rearrangements of the climate system under past natural conditions — unlike the present rapid change due to adding CO2.

    ReCaptcha’s words provided for this posting are:

    for Alistair

    The oracle is becoming positively sentimental.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:02 PM

  57. Re: #53

    Yes 30 years probably is a reasonable minimum time to ensure the trend is not affected by short-term variations, but it doesn’t guarantee that longer term variation isn’t present. For example there is pretty good evidence that there was a climate shift in the pacific just about – 30 years ago! Now I’ve heard some argue that this would simply cause a short term warming then a plateau – but, even if true, this would still create a trend. Do a LSQ fit on the data {0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1} and it will produce a rising trend even though the last 3 values are the same. For that reason it’s still worth looking at more recent short term trends.

    Alaska is probably most vulnerable to changes in the Pacific. These are the temperature records from Fairbanks, Nome and Anchorage respectively.

    It’s possible to detect what is virtually a step function around the late 1970s in the data. Then from ~1980 onwards – very little change. Is this CO2 warming? Calculate the linear trend since 1975, say, and you’re sure to find a strong warming trend but I’m not sure it accurately reflects what’s really happening.

    Comment by John Finn — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:20 PM

  58. John Finn, the “step function” is actually coincident with the imposition of pollution controls in industrialized countries that significantly reduced aerosols. This is well known.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:41 PM

  59. Excellent article and I must admit I do love the graphics as well.

    But I find it kind of amusing “delving for a strong signal” from “measurements” when the the signal from the biosphere could not be clearer.

    “Ah yup thar used to be jest shrubs along that crick where the 20′ trees are..;-) THAT’s a strong signal in my view when it’s pretty much enveloping the entire mid northern biosphere – land and water.

    The measurements can certainly quantify the scale and speed of change as an over all average but surely the biological response is undeniable….and dramatic.

    Seems to me we moved away from the observation of actual change in the biosphere to debating numbers that fundamentally only are support for the observations of actual change in the biota.

    I’m sort of throwing this out for the benefit of those indicating the “case is not closed for warming”…..I do observe it IS a reality for those plants, critters and even ocean dwellers directly impacted.

    Our satellites and stations only quantify what the biota respond to so robustly.
    That’s the clear signal right across the northern hemisphere.

    Comment by MacDoc — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:53 PM

  60. Ref 20, 12
    Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    Try here:

    Already been there, but it does not give CO2equivalent. Is there this data?

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:19 PM

  61. #35–So, is the difference between “warmer” and “warming” one of your FACTS, Simon?

    If so, the bearing this startling FACT has on temperature trends is not very clear. Does a “decadal mean” imply “warming” if one decade is “warmer” than the preceeding one?

    And your admonition that “trends change” is almost as gnomic as Captcha can be. Just what are you trying to say?

    (This time, Captcha says, “Signora paper.”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:35 PM

  62. And yet John, the warming trend seems to be even larger than modeled and predicted in the past; also the warming has been looked at and calculated even prior to the last 30 year span with amazing accuracy. It is the proxy data from 10,000 years ago and so forth that is more subject to conservative views or even skepticism. Indeed more empirical data is needed in the Artic, however, most of what is seen reveals a warming trend in addition to what the sattelites show and the models indicate. Granted technology and data collection in the last 30 years is far more advanced than previously, but then again, the data for: 1998, 2005 and 2007 is well intact. Still, the models need more tweaking, the math is solid as are most of the physics considerations, however, dynamic equilibrium changes can throw off models in either direction: underestimating or overestimation, so, more data collection to be sure; the more recent short term trends are important to be sure, especially in light of certain errors that were made and to find out the extent of cooling, essentially in the ‘here and now,’ but I suspect that warming trends will be found, on the rise when more data is compiled and input. Precipitation effects that may cool parts of the Artic are short term as are aerosol trends that contribute. The pitfall may be analyzing too short term and getting a false impression from very isolated trends, this remains to be seen.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:36 PM

  63. The reconciling of localized cooling trends, especially in cold regions, with overall warming trends; here is a challenge to explain to the majority of people, how the attributions are done, in a way that they can have a glimpse of the trends.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:44 PM

  64. > Alaska
    Don’t you see the same pattern at more than those three stations? It might be important not to assume they indicate a change in the Pacific Ocean without checking the rest of the world.

    I recall one correlation around “the late 1970s in the data” — the final effective date for changes under the Clean Air Act, in 1977. Sulfate dropped very fast thereafter. This was before China and India ramped up coal use obviously.

    “… the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, … , coincidentally, began the start of global temperature increase.”
    reCaptcha: attend Roman

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:53 PM

  65. Here may be one of the reasons for the large number of deniers:

    Reference: “Google and the myth of universal knowledge” by Jean-Noel Jeanneney 2007 The original is in French.

    When you do a Google search, you get “sponsored” links on the right side and “non-sponsored” links on the left. The “NON-SPONSORED” links on Google ARE LISTED IN THE ORDER OF THE HIGHEST BIDDER to lowest bidder. Companies pay dollars to Google to get web sites other than their own that lie in favor of the paying company to be at the top of the “non-sponsored” list. Google search results in your getting nothing but corporate propaganda. Since the coal industry has a $100 Billion per year income at stake, they can and must share a lot of money with Google.

    Page 32: 62% of internet users questioned make no distinction whatever between advertising and other information, and only 18% proved capable of telling which data were paid for by companies for their promotion and which were not.”
    “92% of users of search engines have full confidence in the results of their search, and 71% (users for less than five years) consider that information from this source [Google] is never biased in any way.”

    Suggestion: Use only Google Advanced or Google Scholar. On Google Advanced, specify either the .gov domain or the .edu domain. Otherwise, use only web sites that RealClimate uses.

    There should be a law requiring Google to disclose the above and the donors and the dollars for each “non-sponsored” link.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 19 Nov 2008 @ 1:27 AM

  66. Ray #41 “trends do not change–at least they don’t change as rapidly as the noise” You baffled me by suggesting that changes in “the noise” would somehow outrun changes in the trend. Perhaps you just meant that underlying trends are masked by the noise.

    Nice irony in the last two paragraphs of your #53.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 19 Nov 2008 @ 3:13 AM

  67. The data set (NCEP 1999-2000 warming) shows something very interesting.
    Next to the the warming of the artic ocean (red) is a island of cooling (blue).
    Looks like Northern Baffin Island. There’s also a string of spots along the artic circle.
    Like the Alaska/Yukon coast and 2 spots along the coast of Northern Siberia.

    Either the data is wrong, or the general circulation models must show this.
    There is something going on with the climate that is producing intense local cooling
    right next to all the warming.

    Wish I could explain this better!
    If somebody wishes, I’ll try.

    Comment by Andrw — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:23 AM

  68. Edward, non-sponsored links are listed by the highest bidder ? Really ? I just tried “Climate science” – the top link is real climate. I wonder what the realclimate budget is for paying off Google.

    [Response: Just to be clear – we don’t pay Google anything. – gavin]

    Comment by David — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:28 AM

  69. Ray #52, the thing about picking 1998 as a comparison for subsequent temperatures is that 1998 (and 1990s) was bandied about quite a bit as the warmest year (and decade) for centuries, to drive home the reality of global warming. As a media message this was rarely accompanied by caveats about annual/decadal trends, or explanations that the next decade might warm less impressively and still be consistent with AGW.

    It seems to me that these kinds of statements to some extent prepared the ground for present denialist gloating. Is there any practically useful lesson in this for communicating the science?

    Comment by CM — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:30 AM

  70. Re: #58

    John Finn, the “step function” is actually coincident with the imposition of pollution controls in industrialized countries that significantly reduced aerosols. This is well known.

    I’ll tell you what is “well known”, Ray. It’s the fact that any effect aerosols may have on climate is very specific to the region of their source. In other words the industrialised nations should have experienced the greatest warming due to any reduction in aerosols. They didn’t. Aerosols are very short-lived in the atmosphere (10 days max) so there is little chance of dispersal. The largest warming trend since ~1975 is found in the extreme northerly latitudes i.e. the Arctic regions where there is virtually no industrialisation. The reduction in aerosols had very little effect on climate warming.

    Those in the know, and I include contributors to this site, are by and large of the opinion that the impact of aerosols is complicated.

    But think about it, Ray. Think about the geography of Alaska. Which factor is most likely to effect it’s climate – reductions in aerosols in the USA and Western Europe or a significant warming of the Pacific ocean at exactly the right time (See PDO index).

    [Response: Aerosols are complicated – but your simplistic statement that the aerosol effect is specific to their source is not true. Impacts of aerosols spread much further than that (at least hemispheric) and can also have odd effects in the Arctic. You can look at the results of model simulations with aerosol only forcing on the GISS website. – gavin]

    Comment by John Finn — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:35 AM

  71. Rod (29), you are right, it is not obvious. The atmospheric circulation system has a strong chaotic component, but nevertheless shows some distinct patterns due to external forcing. The most important forcings are the uneven latitudinal distribution of incoming radiation and the rotation of the earth (coriolis force). The former drives a circulation to equalize the latitudinal temperature gradient. The latter inhibits a straight-lined north-south circulation system (note: a different rotation speed of the Earth would produce different circulation systems). The strenght of the coriolis force (or rotation speed respectively) leads to a more or less clear partition of the warm air mass at low latitudes and the cold air mass at high latitudes, where the polar front marks the separating zone (the strong westerly winds within the polar front are due to the strong temperature and pressure gradients). Neither the existance of such a pattern nor the response to changing gradients are self-evident, because the system is too complex. However, taking the picture of a cold and a warm air mass, separated by kind of a flexible wall, it seems plausible that if the cold air mass warms, it will take less room and contract. This is not the only thing that can be imagined to happen physically, but it’s what is observed in reality and in models. Each summer, when the gradient is low and polar air masses warm, the polar front moves poleward. And this is also what climate models project for a stronger warming on the long-term. Thus, it seems very likely that this pattern is what we have to expect in case of a decreasing pole-equator gradient. Does this help?

    Comment by Urs Neu — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:58 AM

  72. Mary writes:

    I don’t think anyone can say with certain what the “average global temperature” was back in 1880. There were no temperature readings for huge portions of the globe.

    Which portions of the globe weren’t covered? In 1880, the sun never set on the British Empire, the American frontier was on the verge of being closed, and Latin America, Africa, and Asia all had their temperature stations. I’m sure the coverage wasn’t as comprehensive as now, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have enough to find a fairly reliable mean.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Nov 2008 @ 5:51 AM

  73. I’ve been watching the monthly NOAA temperature maps here:

    They seem an authoritative statement of rising temperatures, particularly in the Arctic.

    The material here seems to cast doubt on the simple way I’ve been reading them. Can I ask again, “How do they relate to this discussion?”

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 19 Nov 2008 @ 6:36 AM

  74. Here’s a purely subjective opinion on erratic time series; don’t trust any extrapolation of recent values. Because petrol prices have just gone down people aren’t rushing out to buy V8s. While the Australian winter and spring have been decidedly cool the preceding autumn was exceedingly warm. Recall that Adelaide had 13 straight days of 37.8C (100F) or higher in March 2008. I kind of expect another heat wave this southern summer. Thus I’d describe recent annual temperature patterns as neither up nor down but distinctly weird.

    Comment by Johnno — 19 Nov 2008 @ 7:53 AM

  75. The main reason for “the large number of deniers” is the fossil fuel lobby’s public relations budget over the past 30 years. Just as with tobacco and cancer, the industry has spent millions funding dishonest “scientific think tanks” to muddy the water by any means available – whether it be pressuring NASA to not launch their Triana/DSCOVR satellite, pressuring the DOE to only fund fossil fuel research, pressuring the press to give positive spin to any fossil fuel related story, lobbying members of Congress (such as John Dingell) to prevent any real reduction in fossil fuel use – that’s what hundreds of millions of dollars a year buys you. It’s hardly due to Google’s search ranking system.

    Oceanic temperature trends show that the oceans have been warming for decades now. See Levitus et al 2000, Warming of the world ocean”:

    We quantify the interannual-to-decadal variability of the heat content (mean temperature) of the world ocean from the surface through 3000-meter depth for the period 1948 to 1998. The heat content of the world ocean increased by ~2 × 1023 joules between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s, representing a volume mean warming of 0.06°C. This corresponds to a warming rate of 0.3 watt per meter squared (per unit area of Earth’s surface).

    In the 1990s alone, the energy imbalance in ocean heat storage and top-of-atmosphere radiative budget were similar, ~1.5 W/m^2. Of course, with direct continuous measurements from Triana’s Lagrange position, there wouldn’t be any question. That’s the real reason that politicians in the pay of the fossil fuel lobby intervened and made sure that Triana wasn’t launched.

    Take this quote by “Mary”, in the comments above: “If you cannot say with certainty what the 1880 temperature was then how can you say with certainty that 2008 is warmer in comparison?”

    That’s an example of why the fossil fuel lobby has an ongoing effort to NOT collect data – so that they can continue to make the very same argument. Thus, NASA spends billions on an international space station of very questionable usefulness that seems mostly intended to serve some kind of promotional role for the space program, as does the “return to the moon” agenda – and yet they can’t come up with $100 million to launch a satellite that was already built?

    It’s political interference in science by fossil fuel interests who don’t want to see the data. It’s been covered extensively, even if the print press in the U.S. will barely touch it, and the main theme is the recruitment of scientists who are willing to repeat the talking points, or who even believe them:

    However, such efforts are less and less believable, as more predictions made by climate models come true – for example, the water vapor increase predicted by models has now been measured in detail:
    “Water vapor confirmed as major player in climate.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Nov 2008 @ 8:47 AM

  76. Simon Abingdon, Perhaps you would care to show me where I am wrong in my characterization of you–that is where you have expressed any interest in learning about or understanding climate science. All I’ve seen you do is make reference to very short time series (

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Nov 2008 @ 8:47 AM

  77. Kevin #61 You question the difference between “warmer” and “warming” and describe as gnomic the phrase “trends change”. We’re worlds apart.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 19 Nov 2008 @ 9:57 AM

  78. Ray, would the imposition of aerosol (sulfur stuff) controls make a precipitous change and almost immediately spread itself around the globe? I recall there being a concern (don’t know if it was realized or not) if stopping sulfur emissions in one state would have much of an imminent effect a on states a couple of states removed, let alone interior Alaska.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:12 AM

  79. MacDoc (59) seriously puts forth arguments that I throw out cynically and derisively. One of us has to be wrong. I contend the 20 trees replacing the shrubs along the crick (or any other local phenomena) is no indication of global warming, let alone anything near a proof.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:20 AM

  80. Re Andrw @67; “There’s also a string of spots along the artic circle. Like the Alaska/Yukon coast and 2 spots along the coast of Northern Siberia.”

    On the coastal cool spots, there has been much discussion recently of increased freshwater river flow into the Arctic basin due to rapid spring melt of deeper snow packs. (Due to increased precipitation, due to overall milder winter temps, i.e. another feedback.)

    Comment by Jim Eager — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:23 AM

  81. The deniers will probably jump on this – “Water Vapor Confirmed As Major Player In Climate Change,” from ScienceDaily; saw it at:

    And we know how they’ll interpret it (even though it says the study’s empirical evidence basically confirms the models, and nothing new).

    But I just thought of an argument I never used against the “water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas” crew. And that would be:

    Yes it certainly is, and that’s extremely troubling — the amount of water the forcing gases, like CO2, cause to be taken out of the soil, plants, food crops, lakes, and oceans, and flung up into the air, while the earth reels into disaster from that lack of very needed water.

    Water is life, but if it’s taken away from life down here on earth, we’re in dire straights. Then add the increased storms & winds to a dessicated earth, brush, and forests — and you’ve got, well, what’s happening in Calif & elsewhere, perpetual wildfires.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:50 AM

  82. Most people don’t understand search engine result presentation
    nor how the various search engines differ in what they do and don’t sell. (Most people don’t use Firefox, AdBlock, NoScript, RefControl, etc.; I’m always astonished by what most people accept.)

    One study from Pew is referenced here:

    “84% of online American adults have used search engines….
    Most [62%]… unaware of the distinction between paid and unpaid results: … . Among the 38% … who are aware …, some 47% … say they can always tell which …[So] one in six internet searchers can consistently distinguish between paid and unpaid search results.”
    Updates for that website:

    Similar numbers here, albeit buried in an article that is fairly uncritical: “Consumers Union, 60 percent of Internet users interviewed did not know that search sites take fees to list some Web sites more prominently than others …”
    “fiscal Lieut” says ReCaptcha. Well as long as ReCaptcha doesn’t start presenting advertising words …. uh, oh …..

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2008 @ 11:12 AM

  83. I had wanted to ask one question at a time but here’s the one that really worries me. Are there ANY global climate models (GCMs) that incorporate the methane feedbacks. These are being reported:

    Methane bubbles climate trouble (

    Arctic ‘methane chimneys’ raise fears of runaway climate change (

    Hundreds of methane ‘plumes’ discovered (

    I have been told these are missing from the “Earth Systems Models” (GCMs) from the Hadley Centre. Weren’t these an important part of IPCC AR4?

    How much should we worry?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 19 Nov 2008 @ 11:40 AM

  84. PS, I agree something on search tools is worth having in a FAQ.

    I’ve never liked the results from the dedicated search link at the top of the RC page, either internal or custom Google option, compared to writing my own careful searches in ordinary Google or, preferably, Scholar, then searching within those results.

    (Gavin, if a ‘search within results’ choice could be added within the site search, and if site searches could ignore the sidebar text on the “page” in favor of only the specific topic’s thread, that’d help; dunno if Google’s custom search has any support for improvement.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2008 @ 12:04 PM

  85. Re 52. Two reasons for posting that graph: It shows the temp anomaly for the past ten years (most people use the decimal system). And secondly, it is not my work, but from Nasa GISS, which is one authority on these issues. And yes, it shows no significant warming.

    Comment by Matti Virtanen — 19 Nov 2008 @ 1:05 PM

  86. I know it is a small thing but is there any reason your globe is rotating in the wrong direction?

    Thanks for a very informative site and article.

    Comment by Mike Tabony — 19 Nov 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  87. ooh pretty graphics!
    i’m not just being girly, it makes it easier to get other, non scientist folk interested in your site ;-)

    Comment by gerda — 19 Nov 2008 @ 2:23 PM

  88. Edward, non-sponsored links are listed by the highest bidder ? Really ? I just tried “Climate science” – the top link is real climate. I wonder what the realclimate budget is for paying off Google.

    [Response: Just to be clear – we don’t pay Google anything. – gavin]

    So, who does pay then?

    [Response: For what? Our google ranking is because a lot of people link to us. That’s how it works. – gavin]

    Comment by Magnus — 19 Nov 2008 @ 2:44 PM

  89. Regarding the water vapour study linked to by Lynn in #81

    The same researchers published a study a few years ago which said there was much less water vapour response than expected.

    Obviously, we need to nail this down better.

    [Response: The studies are of two different things. The new one is the overall water vapour feedback (which is the real practical issue), while the first was for a specific layer in the upper troposphere where they found that wate vapour was increasing in any case (just not enough to keep relative humidity constant). Both papers show positive water vapour feedbacks.- gavin]

    Comment by John Lang — 19 Nov 2008 @ 2:52 PM

  90. Ray #76 “All I’ve seen you do is make reference to very short time series” “show me where I am wrong in my characterization of you”

    Paucity of evidence perhaps?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 19 Nov 2008 @ 2:56 PM

  91. John Finn, look at the patterns of acid rain to disprove the notion that aerosol effects are “very specific to the region of their source” — you’re thinking of open burning or primitive plants with low stack velocities (like those in China and India when they industrialized). The Clean Air Act 1977 compliance led to much taller stacks and higher stack velocities so the output went far higher and was spread wider.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2008 @ 3:29 PM

  92. #77–Simon, I’m not questioning the difference between “warming” and “warmer.” Everybody knows that!

    But what do you mean by it in your response, and what do you mean by “trends change?” There was nowhere near enough context to tell.

    You asked why some people think that the FACTS (as you put it) support AGW. I gave what I fondly imagined to be a helpful reply, to which you brought up this weirdness about “-ing” vs. “-est.”

    Now you say we are worlds apart. I must say, I’m rather inclined to agree. But if you would care to explain your point further, I would be interested.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Nov 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  93. Re #80

    Jim; I can appreciate that there is a lot more fresh
    water flowing into the arctic ocean. But as far as
    I know, that does not explain how there could be the
    large region of cooling temperatures in the arctic.

    That the NCEP dataset shows this cooling, suggest to me
    that either the data is wrong, or that there is an
    aspect of the climate response that a good GCM should
    be able to discern.

    The cooling appears most pronounced near the north end
    of Baffin Island and extends towards the Alaska coast.
    There are also a few cooling locations near siberia, but
    these could be flukes.

    What I suspect is happening is that the polar jet stream
    is growing stronger and is pushing the coldest air from the
    geographic north pole southward towards Canada.

    Would hope that most CGMs are detecting that. If not, then
    either they need serious help or the data set is in error.

    Comment by Andrew — 19 Nov 2008 @ 3:43 PM

  94. You folks will definitely want to check this out. Note Russian grammar habit in the abstract. I pulled it from sci.physics etc. and don’t have a direct link yet:

    Energy Sources, Part A, 30:1-9, 2008

    Cooling of Atmosphere Due to CO2 Emission

    1Rudolf W. Gunnerman Energy and Environment Laboratory, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

    2Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

    Address correspondence to George Chilingar, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, USA Branch, 101 S. Windsor Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90004.
    E-mail: gchiling at usc dot edu


    The writers investigated the effect of CO2 emission on the temperature of atmosphere. Computations based on the adiabatic theory of greenhouse effect show that increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere results in cooling rather than warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    [Response: These guys are hilarious. Check out their model of the greenhouse effect which doesn’t take radiation into account. Citation of this (or of any of their other papers) is prima facie evidence that someone is talking out of their a*. – gavin]

    Comment by Neil B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  95. Re #87: Did you compare the numbers in the two studies? I very much doubt that there’s a conflict.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 19 Nov 2008 @ 4:32 PM

  96. Gavin,

    . Citation of this (or of any of their other papers) is prima facie evidence that someone is talking out of their a*. – gavin]

    Wow! Why not the advice, as so often happens here to publish some peer reviewed science that rebuts their arguments?

    [Response: Not every argument can be taken seriously. Chilingar and Khilyuk are on a par with claiming the moon is made of green cheese. Where’s the peer reviewed rebuttal of that? – gavin]

    Comment by Dave Andrews — 19 Nov 2008 @ 5:46 PM

  97. In regard to the rotating globe graphic, how were the two five year periods picked to generate it?

    If we look at this graphic,

    It seems that the “warm” time period is a particularly strong upswing in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation which some suspect exaggerates the effects of human induced warming.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 19 Nov 2008 @ 5:48 PM

  98. RE #4, PHE: “The observation that temperatures have not been rising since 1998 is generally raised as a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comment. Its not seriously presented as proof that AGW is not real. Its more to teasingly counter the continual selective use of data to ‘prove’ that AGW is certain. Hansen had only about 10 years of a rising trend when he first (most publicly) declared AGW is a big threat.”

    Decent people don’t do ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comments about a possible false positive (AGW is not happening, tho scientists say it is), when the harms from a false negative (saying AGW is not happening & failling to mitigate it when in fact it is happening) are so very grave, and when a false positive would only hurt scientific reputations, but actually help our pocketbooks and the economy greatly thru energy/resource conservation/efficiency (& solve a host of other real problems as well). Hansen did right. I only wish people had been on this problem well before the late 80s. We would have done very well to continue Amory Lovins’s soft energy path (see & ) from the 70s on when we had our 1st oil shortage shock. Then by 1990 most houses would have had solar panels and geothermal, and we would have been driving electric cars powered by alt energy….

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Nov 2008 @ 6:08 PM

  99. There was a series of similar articles Chilingar published in Environmental Geology a few years ago. Someone else published a comment in Env. Geol. that if the journal kept publishing his papers on this topic, it would become bring down the journal’s reputation. It was an amusing exchange.

    Comment by Bill Asher — 19 Nov 2008 @ 6:18 PM

  100. Re the abstract quoted in # 94
    “Computations based on the adiabatic theory of greenhouse effect show that increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere results in cooling rather than warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

    If so, then Venus ought to be a ball of ice!

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 19 Nov 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  101. Re Andrew @93: “Jim; I can appreciate that there is a lot more fresh water flowing into the arctic ocean. But as far as I know, that does not explain how there could be the large region of cooling temperatures in the arctic.”

    Not saying it does, just that there could be a link. I can think of one: fresher sea water near Arctic river mouths will freeze earlier, thus cutting off evaporation in local areas, and also changing albedo locally, both would lead to more cooling locally, no?

    Captcha is getting specific: 79.45 points

    Comment by Jim Eager — 19 Nov 2008 @ 7:19 PM

  102. Re #93: “Did you compare the numbers in the two studies? I very much doubt that there’s a conflict.
    Comment by Steve Bloom”

    I would like to able to compare the data in the studies but one needs a subscription to the AGU. Google searching produced one chart from the study which only indicated an average 1.0 w/m2 impact (versus 2.0). Does anyone have link to a public copy of the study or the data?

    Comment by John Lang — 19 Nov 2008 @ 8:20 PM

  103. That was Werner Aeschbach-Hertig who now has his own blog, Reality Check. Eli blogged on the Aeschbach-Hertig vs Chillingar.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 19 Nov 2008 @ 8:59 PM

  104. >Both papers show positive water vapour feedbacks.- gavin]

    Do these measured feedbacks agree quantitatively with your models?

    The factor of two they quote seems too small to even reach 2.5C climate sensitivity without other major effects.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Nov 2008 @ 9:07 PM

  105. Hank (91), the acid rain problem in Central-Eastern Europe came from high stacks to get the stuff out of the source city, and destruction was wide spread, but not by very much — barely into the neighboring country.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:07 PM

  106. Ike (75), the big bad oil companies direct NASA, direct DOE, own Congress (the same folks, including Dingell, who publicly pillory oil CEOs, before they try to stick ’em up every time gas prices hiccup higher), pretty much own the press, and can turn scientists into charlatans with the wave a some bucks. Is that right?? Boy! You credit them with way more competence than I would. And did I hear you right? — they also corrupted the 1880 sea merchants into taking bad temp readings??

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:37 PM

  107. RE 72. Interesting. You can see the coverage here

    Now, whether this amount of coverage is enough to find a “reliable” mean, that is another question. And it poses the question “reliable for what?”

    You’ll note of course a heavy reliance on coastal areas for land temps.

    With the grey areas representing areas of no coverage.

    Comment by steven mosher — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:39 PM

  108. > destruction was wide spread, but not by very much

    Yep; I wasn’t saying it was a _good_ idea. Nor did Eastern Europe adopt either the tall stack-high velocity or the late 1970s sulfate scrubber. I’m just saying those three Alaska stations are cherries.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2008 @ 12:15 AM

  109. What about SSTs ?
    It seems, according to the site of the NOAA ( that weekly SST have stayed stable and even have slightly decreased since 1998.
    SSTs are probably the most reliable indicator of températures evolution. Can you comment ?

    Comment by Pierre Allemand — 20 Nov 2008 @ 4:12 AM

  110. Gavin and CO.

    Your article deals with the issue if the global warming has stopped.
    Or “Has temperatures stopped rising?”

    Your firs graph:
    1) It contain data that is – as you know – wrongly showing 2005 as warmer than 1998, which is wrong.
    There is no excuse for not correcting this when the whole issue is exactly the temperatures of the very last years.
    Question, please answer honestly: Why have you not showed a true temperature curve?
    This is “real climate”, not?

    [Response: It depends on which data source you look at. If you look at HadCRUT 3v then 1998 is warmest because of the strong El Nino. These data are for real. -rasmus]

    2) You know of course that GISS/NOAA graphs lately has a much higher temperature-rising-trend that the sattelite data.
    If you want to present “Real climate” why is there no mention of the sattelite data what so ever?

    [Response:Have a look at our old posts (here , here & here) . Please do your home work before you accuse RealClimate for not discussing sattellite data. -rasmus]

    Then antother graph of yours, the temperatures of the arctic.
    Do you want to show people the real temperatures of the arctic?
    If so, why do you print a graph with lattitudes down to 60 degrees N??
    60 degress, well thats like Stockholm, and many other big scandinavian towns, All Finland, and near Sct Petersburg..

    [Response: The Arctic is often defined as being north of 60degN.]

    You know as well as i that if you take range like 90N – 70N or 90N – 66N or even 90N – 64N will show much less warming compaired to the 1940´ies, dont you?

    [Response: Not true – see the ACIA report (Fig 2.6 in Chapter 2). Please do your home work before making claims. -rasmus]

    These are the only graphs i took a look at. A dare not see the rest.

    [Response: Yes – the graphs can be quite scary. -rasmus]

    K.R. Frank lansner

    Comment by Frank Lansner — 20 Nov 2008 @ 5:21 AM

  111. Here is the true simple facts:

    If you go back to jan 2001 with GISS data, you will get a flat trend curve.
    If you go back to feb 1997 with RSS data, you will get a flat trend curve.
    In average you then have 9 years and 9 months of flat trend.

    As you know, Hansen needed less than 10 years trend after the 1978 low temperature point to claim catastrophical warming trend.

    But now when trend is stopping, 10 years is not enough?

    How many more yeats should go by with no temperature raise before you accept that temperatures are nor raising?

    And its not just ten years. Oh no, its ten LAST years, and there is nothing substantial what so ever to claim that a temperature raise is arouns the corner. On the contrary, AMSU daily says Down for now, Sun is sleeping and PDO is wild in cold mode.

    NOAA is even predicting a mild La Nina into at least mid 2009..

    [Response: (i) Have a look at the following YouTube animation. A decade is too short for trend analysis in the presence of decadal internal variations. The important thing is what the future developments will look like. (ii) Have a second look at the graphics: GISSTEMP & NCEP re-analysis. -rasmus]

    Comment by Frank Lansner — 20 Nov 2008 @ 5:34 AM

  112. Re: speculation as to why there are a large number of climate change deniers.
    I think you are being a little patronising. Two years ago I had little interest in global warming, as it then was. I had been looking into “passive smoking”, following the announcement of the English smoking ban and discovered the junk statistics and propaganda used to justify it. I teach statistics and probability so I was amazed by my own naivety. I then decided, in an idle moment, to see if I could find a climate change “denier” (what an offensive term) who wasn’t regarded as a crank. I’d heard of Lindzen so I looked him up in wpedia, where much was made of his views on smoking and passive smoking, which seemed like an attempt to discredit him. The usual row went on on the discussion page. Here is a quote:

    “There’s a common pattern of global warming skeptics having also denied or played down the risks of smoking, for example Steven Milloy, Fred Singer, Frederick Seitz, Alexis de Tocqueville Institute and so on. Obviously, as you say, this tends to discredit their views in general, suggesting either poor judgement or conflicts of interest. The general point is more relevant to global warming controversy, so I’ll add it there. JQ 06:40, 18 April 2007 (UTC)”

    Well this was enough for me. Judge a man by his friends and enemies. I started looking into the subject became a man-made global warming sceptic. Why did you change its name? It didn’t work for Windscale. I am not a denier and I don’t care what happens to the planet. I now just take an interest in the subject out of intellectual curiosity. I know it is not your fault, but your supporters do your cause no favours.

    Comment by Jonathan Bagley — 20 Nov 2008 @ 7:27 AM

  113. Edward (#65), that’s simply ridiculous.

    The entire value proposition of Google is that you can’t “game” the system. There’s no way to purchase a high ranking. And there’s a constant battle to ensure only “honest” references add to the priority of a site.

    Comment by MrPete — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:00 AM

  114. #92 Kevin The “underlying trend” does not exist. It is an artificial concept: a construct used by statisticians in a futile attempt to predict the future when their knowledge of the relative importance and consequent interplay of all the actual forces causing change is insufficient. Hence the continuing arguments over when an imagined “trend” becomes significant.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:05 AM

  115. #79 Rod B Says:
    19 November 2008 at 10:20 AM

    MacDoc (59) seriously puts forth arguments that I throw out cynically and derisively. One of us has to be wrong. I contend the 20 trees replacing the shrubs along the crick (or any other local phenomena) is no indication of global warming, let alone anything near a proof.


    The crick bit was seriously tongue in cheek but when the phenomena covers the entire northern hemisphere it is NOT local at all.

    Biota have well established ranges of warmth requirements. When you have a massive migration towards regions previously too cold for species that’s a superb analogue signal with very little noise given the breadth of the signal.

    If anything gathering a group of ubiquitous species that have strictly defined temperature requirements to use as monitors anywhere would seem most sensible practice.
    This takes away the criticism that there are too few monitoring stations.

    Derive a metric from biota change – we’ve certainly enough data both migration north and also vertical for temperature tolerance.
    Then the sampling frequency issue is gone.

    Would it give us month by month readings? – no – would it establish trend direction?…..undeniably, and that’s my point.
    There is no need to “convince” in situ biologicals that it’s getting warmer –
    They just move north or up as the warmth allows.

    It’s for the benefit of one mistakenly skeptical species. ;-)

    Biota changes are simply a broad based clear analogue signal that “Yes Victoria it IS getting warmer.”

    Leave it then to the science wonks to measure how fast and what the drivers are. The plants and animals and ocean species changes are purely the observable test on a broad scale.
    They tell us a direction of change – not the cause.

    If there are new trees around one crick it’s local, if there are new trees on 1,000,000 cricks across a continent – it’s climate change.

    Comment by MacDoc — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:05 AM

  116. Hank,

    I know there’s a lot of concern about pH, and don’t want to discount that. However, it pays to be skeptical about attribution-piling-on.

    Example: there’s a lot of assumptions being made about the impact of pH on coral reefs. A powerful alternative explanation is quickly gaining traction. Are you aware of the recent and growing body of research showing that coral reef impact has not been due to pH but rather to sunscreen?!! Amazingly, it takes only a tiny amount of sunscreen in the water to cause a tremendous amount of damage.

    This is an area of some interest to me, and even more to my wife (she studied at Hopkins, one of the leaders in marine research…)

    Comment by MrPete — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:15 AM

  117. Hi all – I’ve been following your conversation and think the bottom line is that changes in global temperatures are happening and in order to make an impact, we need to influence decision-makers.

    On the 11th December 2008, European political leaders will decide what their response to global warming is going to be. Last year, they agreed to a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to keep the earth’s temperature below 2 degrees. Now, with the downturn in the economy, they are promising only 20%.

    As a result, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund through the coordination of the Climate Action Network (CAN) formed the campaign Time to Lead (which I am currently working on). Time to Lead is a movement that urges European citizens and organisations to act by contacting local government leaders and issuing support of the 30 percent reduction in Europe’s own carbon emissions by 2020. Citizens act by joining the ‘call to action’ at The site also offers interesting statistics on this argument. Have a look and pass it on.

    Comment by Anna Loftin — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:28 AM

  118. Mr. Bagley (#109),

    No need to read all these words to decide if AGW is occurring. Ask a local farmer, gardener, or even bird-watcher if they noticed warmer or cooler temperatures in their outdoor activities over the past decade or two. (Here in Virginia, USA, winters are almost non-existent compared to a mere 25 years ago and the old-timers talk about real cold when a horse and loaded wagon could cross the James River on the ice, when blocks of river ice were cut to be used in underground icehouses before electric refrigeration.) Ask around your neighborhood and don’t forget to observe nature for yourself.

    Consider that every gallon of petroleum product burned adds roughly 20 pounds of fossilized carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and we humans burn over 3 billion gallons a day. Every kilowatt-hour of coal-generated electricity adds almost 2 pounds of fossilized carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

    I hate AGW as much as the next guy as it demands from me “an inconvenient responsibility”, a responsibility to the future of my species, my biosphere, my planet. This responsibility has changed my life. Significantly reducing your fossilized carbon footprint is not an easy task and, in my opinion, that is the main reason there are so many who choose not to believe.

    Comment by Mike Tabony — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:36 AM

  119. A short answer to the sophmoric “hasn’t risen for ten years” would be to enumerate all of the past periods when the same statement might be made.

    Comment by William H. Calvin — 20 Nov 2008 @ 8:38 AM

  120. Re:83 Geoff Beacon. I also do not believe the methane issue is factored into the principal climate models used by the IPCC. Methane is 20x more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 is. The length of time methane is in the atmosphere is only a small fraction of what CO2 is. However there are billions of tonnes of the stuff tied up a methane hydrates under the arctic ocean and now begining to be released as the ocean floor warms. The same is true for the tundra of siberia, scandinavia, canada and alaska. I dont know if methane contributes directly to ocean acidification- I dont think it does. Water vapour is the prime mover of climate. An imbalance of CO2 and CH4 and N2O (nitrous oxide) changes the hydrologic cycle. We should indeed be very concerned about methane. Even a 1-2C increase in the arctic floor raises the temp above 0C and massive amounts of CH4 are then released.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:16 AM

  121. Jonathan Bagley, Lindzen ceased to be a scientist for me when he claimed that there was a common warming mechanism throughout the solar system–implying a solar mechanism. The thing is, in the outer solar system, the Sun doesn’t even provide the majority of the energy budget of the gas giant planets! Lindzen is too intelligent not to know this, so I can only assume that when he brings up points like this in front of a lay audience, he is intentionally trying to mislead them.

    I hope your students canget their money back.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:27 AM

  122. Hank, well enough. Whether the Alaska stations are cherries or not is a valid debate. But that’s a (proper) retraction from the professed argument (implied by you — at least what I inferred, and explicitly stated by Ray) that the low Alaskan temperatures were a direct result of the sulfate pollution/aerosols from CONUS, and mostly eastern CONUS.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:34 AM

  123. Re:83 read that article in the guardian. Why it has not yet been used in climate models is because there is not enough consistant data to make an accurate calculation. The permafrost lid may well be perforating as a result of CC but not uniformly or it could be an increase of land slides on the ocean bed or volcanic activity etc. Some CH4 as small gas bubbles which are absorbed again by seawater or used by micro-organisms on the way up..only the visable gas bubbles make it to the surface and because of the vast areas involved and the harsh climate in those locales getting reliable data is difficult. All the IPCC can do is hypothesize and say OK..if this relative amount or that amount is released over a predetermined time frame what climate forcing will that produce. Then it’s up to the researchers on the ground to go out and collect as much data as possible to slot into their equations. Not easy!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:38 AM

  124. Jonathan (111), Junk science, made-up statistics, and ad hominems are perfectly acceptable by some (not all by any means) in the pursuit of what is deemed a good cause, especially second hand smoke, and also a bit of AGW.

    You’re likely to catch hell.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:53 AM

  125. > Judge a man by his friends and enemies

    Judge a corporation by its lawyers, and an industry by its lobbyists and PR firms. You fell for a PR program, J. Bagley.

    I’ll bet you know the phrase “sound science” — have you ever wondered where it came from? Look it up. Here, this will help:

    Constructing “Sound Science” and “Good Epidemiology”: Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations Firms – ► [HTML]
    EK Ong, SA Glantz – American Journal of Public Health, 2001 – Am Public Health Assoc …
    Cited by 120

    Turning Science Into Junk: The Tobacco Industry and Passive Smoking – ► [HTML]
    JM Samet, TA Burke – American Journal of Public Health, 2001 – Am Public Health Assoc
    … The goal of “sound science” seems an admirable one; it should not, however, be used to dismiss available but uncertain evidence in order to delay action. …
    Cited by 33

    Attacks on Science: The Risks to Evidence-Based Policy – ► [HTML]
    L Rosenstock, LJ Lee – American Journal of Public Health, 2002 – Am Public Health Assoc
    … TACTICS USED TO UNDERMINE SOUND SCIENCE. … Economic Manipulation. First and foremost, vested interests may use money to inhibit or stall sound science. …
    Cited by 68

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2008 @ 10:23 AM

  126. #111 (Jonathan Bagley):

    “Well this was enough for me. Judge a man by his friends and enemies.”
    Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to judge him by the substance of his arguments?

    “I started looking into the subject became a man-made global warming sceptic.”
    Well, I do hope you continue looking, as there are mountains of evidence in favor of the AGW hypothesis.

    “Why did you change its name? It didn’t work for Windscale.”

    Huh? Who is the “you” in your statement? RealClimate? I know of no reason to suspect this site of any great responsibility for shifting terminology.

    “I am not a denier and I don’t care what happens to the planet. I now just take an interest in the subject out of intellectual curiosity.”

    You are boggling my mind here. How can you not care what happens to the planet, and why would you think that that is somehow persuasive? Do you not plan to live on this planet?

    “I know it is not your fault, but your supporters do your cause no favours.”

    I regret it if you are offended by the comments of some AGW proponents, but there are lots of over-the-top comments on the other side, so I don’t think this factor should determine your opinion of the reality of AGW. (Just this morning on another site, for instance, one denialist accused James Hansen of lying repeatedly. This, based on an newspaper opinion piece which said no such thing–biased and one-sided though the piece was. Offensive and unfair, but as you point out, it’s not the responsibility of everyone who disagrees with me on the subject–say, you, or RC resident skeptic Rod B!)

    My perception is that by and large, denialist sites–and I use the term intentionally to denote those who systematically refuse to consider evidence for AGW; sorry if it offends you, but to me it is accurate and differentiates from the merely skeptical–denialist sites in general are quite rife with illogical or even paranoid arguments; with the ad hominem argumentation they object to so strenuously when used against them; with unsupported assertions; with an unbecoming eagerness to seize at flimsy ideas (Svensmark comes to mind) as if proven while rejecting ideas long since proven quite robust by the scientific process of ongoing criticism and validation; and with a generally low quality of discourse. Of course there are exceptions–people who put forward arguments that have at least some substance and who challenge one’s understanding of the science. The latter do us all a favor; the former, not so much.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Nov 2008 @ 11:02 AM

  127. I don’t care what happens to the planet.

    They why are you posting here?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 20 Nov 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  128. Jonathan Bagley (111),

    A single post by a non-professional is enough for you, and you choose to post about it rather than the data and statistics (your area) presented in the topic…

    Also, who is “you?” in “Why did you change its name?” The IPCC has been such since its formation in the late 1980’s and I suspect that the term “climate change” predated that. The reason for the change should be obvious; it more accurately reflects the scope of the issue. Perhaps it should once again be changed to “environment change” to more accurately encompass the issues of ocean acidification…? Naw, that would likely be “enough” for someone else.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 20 Nov 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  129. 111 Jonathan Bagley

    if you are a statistician you might find this site interesting;

    Comment by gerda — 20 Nov 2008 @ 12:45 PM

  130. Why would anyone try and argue that the near surface tropospheric anomaly trend has stopped rising? It obviously hasn’t.

    Comment by William Jones — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  131. gerda (127) — Second your recommendation.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:14 PM

  132. I thought this link would assist the debate regarding Arctic temperatures.

    No sea ice in 1922? Flora and Fauna changing?

    Interestingly the lack of sea ice and warmer temperatures were perceived to be a good thing.

    Please draw you own conclusions one of the few good things about statistics is they cannot disprove factual evidence.

    Finally it is about time that all the name calling stopped? Alarmists Denialist etc whats that got to do with proper scientific debate.

    [Response: What does cut and pasting anecdotes from old newspapers have to do with scientific debate either? Look at the sea ice for 2007 or pretty much any recent year and see where the summer ice line was compared to the exceptional 1922 summer. It might have been exceptional then, but it would be a cold year compared to any of the last decade. – gavin]

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:21 PM

  133. Rasmus,

    On your response to Frank Lansner

    [Not true – see the ACIA report (Fig 2.6 in Chapter 2)]

    Didn´t you mean Fig. 2.7?

    Comment by Alexandre — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  134. Re:118 Thank you Lawrence. I wish I could get an “official” reaction to this danger. I’m getting responses like “We can’t estimate it properly so we’ll ignore it.” That’s not good enough.

    Btw isn’t 70x CO2 more realistic for methane? 20x is the impact measured over 100 years. I doubt we have that long.

    I’ve just noticed your other post (#121). I did read the Guardian article and much more. I’ve a quote from last year “The CH4 (and CO2) permafrost feedback isn’t included in current
    EarthSystemModels and it is potentially large but no-one really knows.”

    Have we time to wait for definitive research. Or will the Earth beat the researchers to it?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:46 PM

  135. Re #102 (John Lang): Both papers are available on Andrew Dessler’s site. Note also Gavin’s reply to your #89.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 20 Nov 2008 @ 3:02 PM

  136. I suspect Mr. Bagley was doing instant messaging, maybe about other things, or about RC, and typed a reply into the response by mistake. Stuff happens.

    Statistics — any publications? Writing up a problem with the tobacco epidemiology will find ample opportunity to publish, as you can see if you look.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2008 @ 4:08 PM

  137. Which portions of the globe weren’t covered? In 1880, the sun never set on the British Empire, the American frontier was on the verge of being closed, and Latin America, Africa, and Asia all had their temperature stations. I’m sure the coverage wasn’t as comprehensive as now, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have enough to find a fairly reliable mean.”

    There are major data coverage and integrity issues with the global and US databases. I’m talking now, not just the 1880’s either.

    Comment by tom — 20 Nov 2008 @ 4:28 PM

  138. The reason there are so many \deniers\ is that the science is a lot more ambiguous than the \alarmists\ will concede. It is not difficult to come to the conclusion that the AGW believers are the \deniers\ when they fail to acknowledge the many issues which are not consistent with the IPCC beliefs. The lack of the hot spot, the considerable disparity of the 4 main global temperature measurements, the ardent denial of any solar impact on global temperature, etc. are vehemently dismissed as relevant issues by the AGW believers. Any reasonable scientist understands this is hogwash and until the AGW proponents calm down and legitimately address these issues, the \denialists\ are quite likely to increase in number.

    [Response: Frankly, I have no idea what you are reading. IPCC is almost by definition the mainstream position – tell me in which section you find that the ambiguities are not discussed, or that there is a failure to acknowledge uncertainties. On the contrary, the report is chock full of such things. But instead of reading what is actually being siad (as opposed to some imagined paraphrase gleaned from god knows where), you come back with a bunch of straightforward rubbish: the ‘hot spot’ is seen in many of the analyses of the radiosonde data (and why aren’t you acknowledging the ambiguity in those data eh?), the 4 temperature sets are just not that different; I have written half a dozen papers on the solar impact on climate (odd for a ‘denier’) – and so, yes, your statements are dismissed as hogwash, because they are. Why not try actually focusing on the real uncertainties instead of made up ones? – gavin ]

    Comment by Michael Mullendore — 20 Nov 2008 @ 4:59 PM

  139. Post 132

    Please come of it Gavin, your response is disingenous. We are told that Arctic Sea Ice extent is the lowest since records began, without the proviso that the satellite record is 30 years old. As to cutting and pasting I gave a link to a record which provided evidence of a reduction of sea ice in 1922 and a commentary regarding a warm period in the arctic. The article was in the Monthly Weather Review and posted by the American Consul at Bergen.

    The observer interviewed in the article was a sea captain who had sailed in the area for fifty years and commented that he had observed a period of warming. So it was not just one year of warming?

    Maybe I am an old fashioned guy but I thought observation was a part of science. Just as measuring the width of tree rings is observation.

    Anyway Take care.

    [Response: But you don’t seem to realise that previous observations are in fact built in to the statements about sea ice. Old ice charts from the Danes, UK, Norway etc. go into the HadISST product for instance. The ice was more extensive in the past, and in fact there are plenty of old observations of extensive land fast ice back in the 18th Century that simply doesn’t exist any more. That is not being disengenuous. What is disengenuous is quoting a 1922 report without putting it context to imply that nothing is different now – you could not be more wrong. – gavin]

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 20 Nov 2008 @ 5:08 PM

  140. One interesting thing to note is that GISS and satellite-measured lower tropospheric temperatures have seen a rather large divergence this year. Since 1999, GISS has been between .008C and .055C warmer than UAH, with most years around .045C to .050C (when you put them both on the same baseline). So far in 2008, however, GISS is running .142C warmer than UAH…and since March, that number is +.199C.

    While it is understood that surface data and satellite data do not measure the same exact thing, it is kind of strange that there is a much larger differnce this year compared to recent years. Any ideas about what could be causing the larger divergence this year?

    [Response: The satellite records clearly have more sensitivity to ENSO than the surface (look at 1998), therefore it’s unsurprising that they would cool more associated with the La Nina earlier this year. – gavin]

    Comment by Jared — 20 Nov 2008 @ 6:11 PM

  141. Re:230
    “On the 11th December 2008, European political leaders will decide what their response to global warming is going to be.”

    On the 21st of January,the U.S. will be able to join the other western leaders to help mitiagate change, and reverse the shameful record of obstruction, censorship,delay,lip service, and other odious ways of being counter-productive,by the present administration, in regard to energy,environmental, and climate change policy.

    In the main post Rasmus states:”Furthermore the,the present
    GCM’s have problems reproducing the Arctic sea-ice characteristics, …………. and fail to capture the outgoing decrease in Arctic sea-ice area.
    Anyone looking at time lapse photos of the sea ice,in this area,over the past few decades, can’t fail to recognize that it is dramatically shrinking,-not to mention the appearance of the fabled Northwest passage ,recently, as a reality, at least for parts of the year.Including this phenomenon in the models,while desirable,is in some ways extraneous, since one can almost predict the disappearance of Arctic sea ice in the not too distant future.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 20 Nov 2008 @ 10:47 PM

  142. I don’t suppose RealClimate has a carbon cycle expert who might want to weigh in on the potential overstating of the recent Australian soil carbon results? Sadly, neither of the two institutions through which I can get journal articles has a Nature Geoscience subscription, so I’ll have to wait until I can swing by the Library of Congress to actually dig into the details. But what I can gather from the internet is that they discovered that soils release significantly less carbon into the atmosphere than had been previously expected due to stable “black carbon” forms of char from old fires. Of course, the implication that I would take from this result is one of a few possibilities: first, given that the soil system has to be approximately in balance, then the soils must either be taking up less carbon than expected, or there must be another soil respiration mechanism. Second, the result is not actually applicable outside Australia. Third, the result is just wrong (remember the big “live plants generate methane” result that seems to have disappeared into the ether from a few years back?).

    But the authors seem to be pushing the “global warming predictions are overestimated” angle instead, which just seems weird. I know that AR4 models average about 60 ppm increase out to 2100 from land carbon cycle feedbacks, presumably in part due to increased soil respiration from higher temperatures. But I can’t imagine that the black carbon stability would reduce this feedback by more than half, and 30 ppm, while a nice benefit, is still small peanuts compared to 700+ ppm BAU scenarios. Any thoughts?

    Comment by Marcus — 20 Nov 2008 @ 10:52 PM

  143. Do we know why, from 1900 to 1940, there was a strong warming ? As for the latest respite in global warming, this is not surprising because of La Nina (and associated Indian Ocean cooling)or decadal variability. The IPCC should not have filtered the data, these took out of the picture the swing in temperature due to El Nino and La Nina. I guess they did not want to confuse the policy makers. Cheers

    [Response: The difference between the 1900-1940 warming to the present warming was that the former mainly involved the high northern latitudes whereas the latter has been more uniform accross all latitudes. -rasmus]

    Comment by Mathieu Rouault — 20 Nov 2008 @ 11:57 PM

  144. Re gavin’s response to 138 and 139. gavin, your response and belittling of the commentators says it all. Your faith has completely overtaken your scientific judgement. Your attitude only serves to demonstrate to those who have retained their scientific judgement that your arguments are weak.

    [Response: Actually it isn’t. It’s just a sign that my patience is finite for people who repeat half digested talking points without doing any thinking and then accusing me of being rigid. There is nothing wrong with talking about real uncertainty (aerosol microphysics and the indirect effect, tropical convection, the impacts of ocean eddies) and I’d be happy to. But this continued elevation of nonsense over thought is tiresome. – gavin]

    Comment by PHE — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:00 AM

  145. [Response: The satellite records clearly have more sensitivity to ENSO than the surface (look at 1998), therefore it’s unsurprising that they would cool more associated with the La Nina earlier this year. – gavin]

    Hello. I’m wondering why, if the above is correct, would the divergence between GISS and UAH increase towards the middle of the year as La Nina conditions returned to neutral? Is there a delayed reaction to ENSO in satellite readings that doesn’t apply to land station data?

    Comment by Vince — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:23 AM

  146. Re:134 Geoff Beacon. I wouldn’t say they are ignoring the methane issue (nearly all environmental groups I have read articles from understand the potential consequences of methane) but because the data out there is so sketchy and the mechanics of the interactions are still not that well understood re: CH4 vs CO2/N20 O2 CFC’s etc at different layers of the troposphere etc, different temps. Oh yeah! Small methane bubbles on the way up from the ocean floor join also with O2 molecules and form CO2..(presumably releasing hydrogen in the process) so yes methane does contribute to ocean acidification after all. I sincerely hope with the turmoil of the Global financial crisis that funding of important climate and environmental research is not reduced or thought be be less important that propping up the likes of GM, Ford or Crysler who after all are partly responsible for this dire predicament we all find our selves in. (I drive a Honda Civic for the record!)
    At a time when climate science funding should be greatly increased globally the GFC could not have happened at a worse time.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 21 Nov 2008 @ 3:58 AM

  147. 139 Stuart Harmon says

    “The observer interviewed in the article was a sea captain who had sailed in the area for fifty years and commented that he had observed a period of warming. So it was not just one year of warming?

    Maybe I am an old fashioned guy but I thought observation was a part of science. Just as measuring the width of tree rings is observation.”

    The Arctic ice is just ONE indicator out of many and there are massive amounts of data, observations of fauna arrival, nesting, plant blossoming going back far earlier, some more than a century or even multiple centuries all of which support accelerating warming.

    Treeline changes and tundra lines moving are broadbased so if you accept the need for observation, as I do – then the ice aspect is just MORE support for the trend and those trend lines in many cases are decades and in a few, centuries long.

    Long trendlines across diverse species and diverse locations – robust signal. Our satellites only now give dramatic images to what the biota have been responding to.

    Now certainly some long cycle decadal plus cycles may be in play for the oceans but the trend line across environments and species is far too consistent to in anyway deny that it IS warming and has been for a long while – consistent with GHG changes.

    In my view the nitpicking about manmade sensor readings and coverages too often ignores the broad based signal already provided by temperature sensitive species.

    Plants are far slower but more consistent responder than said fisherman’s recollections.

    Again this is aimed at those that deny the warming trend exists at all.

    Quantifying the trend rate over time and assigning cause….different gordian knot.

    Comment by MacDoc — 21 Nov 2008 @ 6:01 AM

  148. But this is about the Northern hemisphere is it not? Don’t we need to address this question of global trends with reference to global data and analysis?

    Even those nifty spinning globes fail to show a large chunk of the southern hemisphere.

    Comment by Paul — 21 Nov 2008 @ 8:13 AM

  149. Re: #25

    Dear Dr. Pelto,

    Your site has a photo (2nd from top on far right column) with this legend:

    “Lyman Glacier taken from same location in 1988 and 2008.”

    but the photos seem not to have been taken from the same location.

    Dr. Pelto, if you believe that Mark Fiore is correct, what should we be doing?

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 21 Nov 2008 @ 8:44 AM

  150. Well … I’ve said for a number of years now that we’ll learn how much influence the sunspot cycle has on climate when Solar Cycle 24 gets underway.

    Perhaps instead of saying “10 years isn’t long enough” the pro-AGW crowd will start to recognize that the giant ball of fire has an influence? If SC24 continues as it is now, the next 11 years (or more — mild cycles last longer)) will see a steady decline in global average temperature and an increase in skepticism. In addition to the present handed us by the Asian Brown Cloud, we’re also being handed a present in the form of SC24. We need to act very aggressively to reduce CO2 emissions.

    In response to a comment up-thread about reducing CO2 levels — it can be done. Just make the right choice every time you can.

    (reCaptcha says — “motorman shoes”. I wear boots when I ride my electric motorcycle — shoes wear out to easily ;) ) (Oh, yeah, I bought an electric motorcycle — a Vectrix — to help cut my gasoline consumption.)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 21 Nov 2008 @ 9:37 AM

  151. Great article. Something has to be done in order to stop the growing CO2 emission. Im hoping that the COP15 in Copenhagen next year will have a global deal on CO2 reduction.
    to read about how the danes is trying to put a stop to the big co2-emissions visit:

    Comment by Kristian Olesen — 21 Nov 2008 @ 9:46 AM

  152. rasmus (response to 143)

    The 1900-1940 warming looks global but not as pronounced as the modern warming trend. On the other hand the 1940-70 “flatline” is mostly NH restricted due to aerosols being predominant in the NH at the time. The majority of warming comes over the last few decades– as far as I’m aware the earlier warming involved increased solar, some lack of volcanoes, probably a “dirtier” arctic. GHG’s are responsible for today’s warming.

    #144 PHE

    I would agree that pre-satellite observations of sea ice extent have more uncertainty and are a worthy discussion. Fig 2.6 that rasmus referenced shows temperature, not ice extent (there should be a correlation, but it’s not direct evidence). Notably, as far as we can tell, the earlier warming caused increased melting, the following cooling allowed some regrowth, the later warming is causing more melting, and the future (without change from business as usual) is expected to cause very much larger warming than that achieved so far, and so to cause a lot more melting. Even right now all the best indications suggest warmer arctic temperatures now and less ice in modern times but with enough uncertanty since data is poor back in the early century in that region.

    Comment 138 by Michael on the other hand is hardly worthy of much “thought.” It was regurgetated nonsense.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 21 Nov 2008 @ 9:49 AM

  153. Re 146. Thanks again Lawrence, it’s nice to have someone, who knows a bit about the subject, to talk to. But I’m interested in some loud cautionary noises, which might encourage governments to have more robust contingency plans for slowing climate change. Who better to do make the noise than RealClimateScientists. That is unless the scary scenarios have no chance of coming about. I’d be delighted to be told they are just fantasy.

    Contingency plans.

    1. Hair shirts: Stop nearly all flying, buying wine in bottles, most driving, eating meat (beef and lamb particularly), stay colder in the winter, ration power…

    2. Financial incentives: Pay for carbon abatement (e.g. pay to keep forests and farm biochar instead of sheep and cattle). Reward power companies for cutting our energy consumption not increasing it. Subsidise building materials that incorporate carbon and tax those that don’t.

    3. Efficiency improvements etc. These might allow us to keep some semblance of our current lifestyles (c.f. Amery Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute). These include cars that weigh a fraction of today’s cars, renewable electricity, light-bulbs that give out light but not much (wasteful) heat.

    4. Geo-engineering. SO2 in the upper atmosphere, iron salts seeding the sea, cloud-making barges and, of course, biochar.


    … even under current UK plans. The UK government is emulating King Canute and legislating for an 80% cut in UK GHG emissions. That puts us on about 2 tonnes CO2e per year each. Let’s set aside one quarter (500kg) for each of: travel, food, household and government. So you have 500kg CO2e for travel.

    You can’t fly much. UK to NY and back is over 2000kg CO2e. So what if you spend your ration on your car? You create about 125 gm CO2e per kilometre (some CO2e added for exploration, drilling, refining and shipping your fuel). Your ration seems to be 4000 kilometres per year. In the UK, I think an average car does about 20,000.

    And the worse news is that building the car will probably have taken more than 5 years of your transport ration.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 21 Nov 2008 @ 10:49 AM

  154. Re #144 (PHE)

    I think Gavin and the rest of the contributors to RC do a very good job dealing with contrarian information. They exhibit lots of patience dealing with it.

    Its very easy to get sucked into a noisy and time consuming argument. I’ve done it myself here on RC. Firm responses like Gavin etal’s address the questions for the larger audience while keeping a higher quality of discussion going.

    The end result is RC is a great resource for science that is sorely missing on the internet.

    ReCaptcha “On denistry” I had a root canal done yesterday!

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 21 Nov 2008 @ 11:10 AM

  155. Lawrence (141) I gather Jan 21 is the date because then Obama can [edit] pressure agencies. [edit]

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Nov 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  156. #140 Gavin-

    In response to “the satellites showing more sensitivity to ENSO”. I don’t think that is an adequate explanation, if you look at the other strong La Ninas in the satellite era: 1989, 1999, and 2000. GISS always had less than a .055C divergence in each of those years. So what is different about the La Nina of 2008 has caused GISS to show a much larger divergence?

    [Response: That might be worth analysing. Each La Niña/El Niño event has a different structure, and you could look and see whether there is something systematically different last time out. Let me know if you see something…. – gavin]

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 12:32 PM

  157. #152 Chris Colose

    I really don’t think there is any real certainty now about aerosols being the primary cause of cooling from 1945-75. That theory was first established before the discovery of ocean cycles like the PDO. As most of us are probably aware, the PDO went into it’s negative cycle around 1945 and then flipped to its positive cycle around 1975. The Pacific being a rather large ocean, this had a very noticable effect on NH climate during this period.

    Seeing as how the 1925-45 warming also came during a +PDO phase, I think it would be rather narrow-minded to dismiss oceanic cycles as a significant part of global climate trends seen over the past 100 years…including the cooling period from 1945-75, and the warming from the late 1970s until recently.

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 12:57 PM

  158. #118 Mike Tabony
    I did not have old-timers I could talk to but I think your anecdotal evidence on warming is a bit exagerated. I did a quick check using Google and it was pretty easy to find pictures of a Frozen James River in Virginia. One from 2004 and the other 2007. See the links below. I’m not sure many of your old-timers are still attempting to walk their horses across the river but the river still seems to be freezing in the winter.

    Comment by will — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:00 PM

  159. Furry Cat Herder, what makes you think that the sun isn’t included in the models?

    El hams as al raisa (I think, “the place where the sun shines not”)?

    See, the problem with the gap is that the denialists don’t want to look at the graph as posted because it doesn’t show what they want to see. So they pick the last 8 years and say, since it is not going up as fast as it was in the previous years to 98, it is going down. And since it’s going down, there’s no AGW.

    Showing them the graph as you do doesn’t change that because they will just ask to see the last 8 years and prove themselves right.

    PS FCH: I take it the sun produces massive amounts of tachyons since the reduction you feel is the result of the quiet period started after warming really took off and if the sunspots cause cooling, then the “it’s cooling” happened years before the new cycle started. So whichever way sunspots are supposed to act, it has to be acting after the effect.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:21 PM

  160. Gavin (responding to #138) you forget several things:

    1) He never said he read anything. He didn’t so he can make things up.

    2) He doesn’t know the difference between “not modelling solar effect” and “modelling solar effect isn’t enough” so how do you expect him to know the difference between “here are the uncertainties” and “there are no uncertainties”?

    3) He’s not a scientist, so he’s figuring on what he wants scientists to think. Trying to get him to read what scientists think breaches requirement #1.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:27 PM

  161. Mark, can you be certain he’s not a scientist? Looking in Google Scholar, someone with that name has done science (not in climatology).
    He could be a scientist. Beliefs outside one’s expertise do occur.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:53 PM

  162. Jared (156)

    I have yet to hear any adequate reasons why PDO should influence global mean temperatures on decadal timescales. The fact aerosols were rising over this time period (this shows up with known industrialization, ice cores have a record of higher activity, etc); Also, the cooling was hemisphericaly confined which suggests aerosols played at least a good part in it. Natural factors likely played some role–the best fit from Meehl et al 2004’s model comes from natural+anthropogenic factors. But overall the “cooling” was mostly a “flatline” and not very interesting (at least to me!)

    Comment by Chris Colose — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:54 PM

  163. PS, Mark, I highly recommend looking up the study described here; some approaches consistenly will not work in presenting information:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 1:56 PM

  164. Gavin-

    Yes, that is true, each ENSO event has a unique progression. I did notice that the one other year that had a large divergence between GISS and the satellites was 1998 – which of course was the exceptionally strong El Nino event you referenced before. The 2007-08 La Nina was not nearly as exceptional of an ENSO event.

    Really, the closest comparison to this year would be 1989 – though that one was a bit stronger and peaked a bit earlier, the SSTA progression has been quite similar to 2008. The 1989 La Nina was strong until Feb/March (same as 2008), weakened rapidly to negative neutral by May/June (same as 2008), and then maintained neutral status through the fall (same as 2008).

    However, in 1989, GISS and UAH/RSS agreed much better. And 2000 isn’t a bad ENSO fit to this year either through the early fall…there was also much better agreement that year compared to 2008. So I guess I am still at a loss to understand the major divergence this year.

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:02 PM

  165. Here’s a highly recommended quote from the BBC Have Your Say section about the cold snap:

    “We can’t possibly have a cold winter – scientists tell us the earth is getting warmer. Apparently there has been so much snow in the Alps they have opened the season two weeks early – but I’m sure the white stuff must all be a figment of the imagination.

    harry portsmouth ”

    The same people who say “you can’t tell it’s global warming just because this year (1998) is the warmest on record” say “This winter is cold! SEE! There’s no such thing as Global Warming!!!!!”.

    The Register does the same sort of guff too. And ban comments that don’t fit their needs for denial or give enough to be misquoted.

    Which is nice.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:41 PM

  166. I’d like to suggest that post number 7 by Mark Fiore be a topic all it’s own on the Realclimate site.

    There are a couple of encouraging signs in the world. Waxman hopefully winning a chairmanship over Dingell, Obama, etc.

    But I personally believe that the people who make decisions in this world are going to think they have other priorities than climate change.

    Even if this isn’t correct, it is what is going to happen. Let’s say that China (or US, doesn’t matter really) curtails growth by using less energy (which means burning less coal). My guess is whoever did it is going to be removed from power, unless it is a full blown North Korea kind of situation.

    The world currently has an economic crisis which pretty much is hitting everyone right now. When you are hungry or tired of being poor, or just facing a decline in living standards you are very likely to disregard an “abstract” (ie the effects won’t hit me in the next couple of years. I have problems NOW.) notion like climate change.

    Basically I believe nothing will be done. I am also someone who believes in the peak oil argument. I think that as we deplete energy resources like petroleum and natural gas we are going to burn more coal (lower quality, more carbon dioxide produced per energy unit produced) in it’s place, as well as burning more coal due to population increase, and more due to desperately poor people who just want the good life too.

    I guess it is … I don’t know what. But what are the consequences, and how quickly will they show up if nothing is done?

    I keep toying with the idea of Cleveland and Detroit. Land is very cheap there now. With the world warming, and the American southwest drying, these places have a lot of attractive features.

    I mean what would the climate of Cleveland be like (rainfall, temperature, winters, etc.) with 600 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere?

    Someplace like Vietnam? Or a dry Med style climate? African Savannah? Will I be watching the Great Lakes recede? What?

    Give me something I can use. Pick the US as a region to describe, tell me the American Southwest is a dry deathtrap with temperatures highs of 130 F in the Summertime. Tell me whether S. Dakota is a desert. What is the Pacific Northwest going to be like? I’ll take care of worrying about the REFKAP’s (Refugees formerly known as Californians)

    Basically I think this site is beating a dead horse. Nothing is going to be done. The only real hope is renewables being able to carry a much bigger part of the load, or nuclear really being viable (there is an awful lot to argue about on this one. But as currently implemented (ie Fuel Cycle, reactor designs) it isn’t going to save the world. And the renewables have an awful long way to go to provide the kind of energy the world is going to demand.

    Throw us cynics a bone. Maybe it is the kind of thinking that got us into this situation, but if you can’t eat it or screw it, it just isn’t useful.

    Comment by Cynic — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:41 PM

  167. #156

    As most of us are probably aware, the PDO went into it’s negative cycle around 1945 and then flipped to its positive cycle around 1975. The Pacific being a rather large ocean, this had a very noticable effect on NH climate during this period.

    Seeing as how the 1925-45 warming also came during a +PDO phase, I think it would be rather narrow-minded to dismiss oceanic cycles as a significant part of global climate trends seen over the past 100 years…including the cooling period from 1945-75, and the warming from the late 1970s until recently.

    [recaptcha: UNSOUND it’s]

    Comment by thingsbreak — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:49 PM

  168. Based on this study in Nature 2004
    “one needs to go back over 8,000 years in order to find a time when the Sun was, on average, as active as in the last 60 years”. Given that we have experienced a lull in sun activity and temperatures are beginning to cool, are we certain that we are going to be warming in the next 20-30 years?

    Comment by will — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:59 PM

  169. Industrially generated CO2 should logically start reducing as the financial crisis moves from the banks to the industrial sector. For example as the car market and other high energy consuming markets contract a noticeable effect shold be visible on global CO2 concentration. Since CO2 mixes rapidly it would seem reasonable to expect some effects to be come apparent in 2009 (if the recession gradually becomes a depression).

    If the global energy consuming industries continue to contract and there is no corresponding reduction in CO2 this may indicate that the CO2 increase is not necessarily purely due to industrial output.

    Comment by Richard — 21 Nov 2008 @ 3:05 PM

  170. Will, you’re pointing to Sciencedaily on Solanki.
    Type the name into the Search box at the top of the page for discussion since that 2004 article came out. It’s well covered here long ago.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  171. Richard, nobody has ever suggested that CO2 increase is necessarily purely due to industrial output. Too many adjectives.

    You need to remove the annual cycle to clearly see, for example, the wiggle as the USSR fell apart starting around 1989:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 3:32 PM

  172. Hnk, #161. I could maybe (maybe) take him as a scientist if he’d even bothered to read anything to do with the science of climatology (even if it was only the summary report of the IPCC) before writing that message of inanity.

    If you don’t even bother with basic reading behind the subject before telling people what they’re doing wrong, you ain’t no scientist. You may have a BSc, but you ain’t a scientist.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 4:18 PM

  173. #167 Thingsbreak

    I’m not saying that the PDO is wholly responsible for longterm temperature trends, not at all. Just that it is a major influence on decadal trends. Those who argue that the 1945-75 cool/flat-line period was due to aerosols are really not looking at all of the evidence available.

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 4:25 PM

  174. #162 Chris

    Right, the “flat-lining” global temperatures were due to a slightly cooling NH and a basically flat SH during the 1945-75 period. But if you think about the PDO, that makes perfect sense: Pacific Decadal Ocscillation. The PDO phases occur in the North Pacific, and therefore mainly effect the northern hemisphere.

    The correlation of NH temp trends with the PDO (and to a lesser extent the AMO in the Atlantic) is simply too great to ignore.

    [Response: Actually, just the opposite–its too small to be meaningful (by design, in fact). The formal definition of the PDO involves subtracting off the global mean SST from the North Pacific SST field and defining the index as the residual pattern. The AMO is typically defined by taking the leading non-ENSO EOF of the North Atlantic SST field, subtracting the warming trend, and defining the index as the residual (though this is slightly different from the original definition of the AMO by Tom Delworth and myself). More recent work by Knight et al (which I was also involved in) finds that the maximum peak-to-peak projection of the AMO onto global or Northern Hemisphere mean SST is only a tiny fraction (on the order of 0.1C) of the 20th century global mean warming trend. In short, these indices define the residual, ostensibly oscillatory regional temperature signals after the long-term, large-scale global warming signal has been subtracted off! The AMO and PDO are defined precisely so that they are largely orthogonal to global warming, and it is simply invalid to view them as contributors to it. Its unfortunate that these basic aspects of how the AMO and PDO are actually defined are so often misunderstood or, worse, intentionally misrepresented by climate change contrarians (in their effort to make a disingenuous case for global warming being due to ‘natural oscillations’ in the climate system). -mike]

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 4:30 PM

  175. [Response: But you don’t seem to realise that previous observations are in fact built in to the statements about sea ice. Old ice charts from the Danes, UK, Norway etc. go into the HadISST product for instance. The ice was more extensive in the past, and in fact there are plenty of old observations of extensive land fast ice back in the 18th Century that simply doesn’t exist any more. That is not being disengenuous. What is disengenuous is quoting a 1922 report without putting it context to imply that nothing is different now – you could not be more wrong. – gavin]

    Dear Gavin

    It is not a quetion of whether I am wrong or you are right the simple fact is that the empirical evidence does not support the hypothesis that man made CO2 emissions will cause dangerous levels of global warming.

    Ice core data shows that temperature rises precede increases in CO2 in the atmosphere. But of course on a BBC web site you said this was due to the earth wobbling.

    I am afraid that you have lost the argument and one of the reasons for this is because you are wedded to a belief system.

    [Response: The irony of your response, I have no doubt, is completely lost on you, but hopefully is apparent to all other readers. – gavin]

    The climate always changes the temperature rise in the last century was not unusual.

    Take care

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 21 Nov 2008 @ 4:54 PM

  176. “Ice core data shows that temperature rises precede increases in CO2 in the atmosphere. But of course on a BBC web site you said this was due to the earth wobbling.”

    OK, Stu.

    Where’s the 600 year old increase in temperatures to take us to 50% more CO2 as per ice core record. Not the recent ones, 600 years ago, it would have raised X degrees C by 100 years ago, what X does the ice core data give?

    You should know because you seem to think yourself an expert.

    Now, when you’ve done that, please let us know how the isotopic signature changed 33% of the carbon out in our atmosphere.

    Now, when you’ve done that, please let us know where the 17trillion kilos of carbon each year we put out goes.

    I am afraid you may have lost the argument, one of the reasons being you’re wedded to a belief system.

    The climate changes of the past are insufficient to the changes of the future. We have a mechanism that explains the discrepancies but that involves fossil fuel combustion on a gigantic world-wide scale. And the only mechanism is human activity.

    Take care your brain doesn’t freeze up.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 5:33 PM

  177. Mike,

    The AMO and PDO are defined precisely so that they are largely orthogonal to global warming, and it is simply invalid to view them as contributors to it.

    What exactly do you mean by “defined”? Is that how the PDO and AMO are used in the GCMs?

    [Response: In control simulations with GCMs such as used in Delworth and Mann (2000) and Knight et al (2005) which I linked above, there is no need to separate the internal multidecadal variability from the forced long-term trend, because there is no change in radiative forcing, and thus no forced (including anthropogenic) large-scale trend to contaminate the estimate of internal multidecadal variability. No such luck in the real world, where both are present. In that case, one needs to use some technique for separating the multidecadal variability from the long-term trend. In many papers, this is simply done by subtracting off a linear trend and defining the residual as e.g. the “AMO”. I don’t particularly like that approach, because the radiatively forced temperature trend is extremely unlikely to be linear in time [this is an issue we discussed in Mann and Emanuel (2006)]. I prefer frequency-domain signal detection techniques such as the “MTM-SVD” technique (for obvious reasons) which was employed by both Delworth and Mann (2000) and Knight et al (2005). -mike]

    Surely you must recognise that they at least have some effect on temperatures on a regional basis and that this therefore in turn affects global temperature as measured by GISS etc?

    [Response: As I mentioned earlier, we actually looked at the global temperature projection of the internal “AMO” signal present in control simulations of the GFDL (Delworth and Mann, 2000) and UK HadCM3 (Knight et al, 2005) coupled models. The peak-to-peak impact of the AMO on global mean temperature is in both cases a very small fraction of a degree C (at most, about 0.1C), and dwarfed by e.g. the 20th anthropogenic warming signal. -mike]

    Comment by Dave Andrews — 21 Nov 2008 @ 6:05 PM

  178. 175 Stuart. “I am afraid that you have lost the argument and one of the reasons for this is because you are wedded to a belief system.”

    Well, I guess I too will throw in some cryptic statements.

    By definition, Gavin falls a little short of “being wedded to a belief system.” Gavin does and is currently doing lots of peer-reviewed papers and so can be called a “mainstream scientist.”

    Therefore, he is a skeptic.

    According to Wiki,: “In a more restricted sense, scientist refers to individuals who use the scientific method.[1]”

    Also Wiki goes on to state that “scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many hypotheses together in a coherent structure.”

    Hmmm, sounds pretty straight forward to me. In other words, Gavin and other mainstream scientists’s data has been openly tested over time and found to be so strong (and has not fallen apart under fierce experimental attacks) that Gavin is saying things like global warming and its current causes (are more or less facts) such that other mainstream scientists don’t challenge what he says.

    This means, sir, that I highly question whether your comments meet these same stringent requirements. Ie., Gavin cannot be wedded to a belief system if this system is open to being tested and changed. He is a skeptic (willing to test any conclusion)or he cannot be called a mainstream scientist.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 21 Nov 2008 @ 6:34 PM

  179. “Basically I think this site is beating a dead horse. Nothing is going to be done.”

    You may be right, but not having this site, not voicing the arguments and facts, not agitating with the policymakers and politicians … isn’t going to accomplish anything. So, we (everyone who talks about AGW, posts about it, researches it, writes letters about it, convinces a neighbor, anything) have to keep trying. The apathetic alternative is not acceptable, imho.

    It’s hard to be optimistic.

    Comment by Maya — 21 Nov 2008 @ 6:38 PM

  180. Gavin-

    Sure, the PDO numbers are adjusted for SST changes. However, there is no disputing their cyclical nature, and their subsequent relationship to ENSO…which has a very substantiated effect on global temperatures. Therefore, to say that the PDO and AMO have very little effect on global temperatures when there is ample evidence that oceanic thermocline cycles do indeed effect climate, is just not true.

    Again, I have failed to see evidence of a better and more consistent explanation for 20th century decadal climate variation. Again, I am not saying the PDO or AMO are responsible for global warming trends. Simply that these natural cycles influence climate trends over decadal time frames.

    [Response: I think you meant ‘Mike’? See my responses to comment #177 above by Dave Andrews. -mike]

    Comment by Jared — 21 Nov 2008 @ 6:51 PM

  181. Re #155
    “Lawrence (141) I gather Jan 21 is the date because then Obama can [edit] pressure agencies. [edit]”

    Right on Rod. That’s the date(when the new administration takes office) that as far as I’m concerned, our long national and global nightmare will end in regard to the U.S. energy and climate change policy.
    Even the standard bearer from Bush’s own party, John McCain, said that as far as climate change is concerned,Bush is “missing in action”.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 21 Nov 2008 @ 7:47 PM

  182. Pertains to the topic:

    Public Radio International, today:

    (Take out the space after the slashes, trying to work around a failure to post this)


    download link: http://

    Denial near and far (9:45)
    November 21, 2008
    About one in five Americans still doubt that the Earth is warming. Is this healthy skepticism or denial? The World’s Jason Margolis reports on cultural denial around the globe.

    Key point: don’t use the label ‘denialist’ — it’s used and emphasized by skeptics who want to position themselves as victims. It is not useful for someone unconvinced to that word. Emphasize this. Don’t use that word. Speak to the science, not to saying things about people who you consider wrong. That would include not getting sucked into namecalling and labeling even when “they did it first” eh?

    Excellent nine minute audio about how people find this subject very hard.

    Related to the link I posted earlier, a story summarizing research about what people do and don’t hear, recall and believe, this one:

    Stay with the science, is the message. Repetition convinces people no matter the source, and they don’t remember which sources they trust.

    Repeating bogus claims _even_to_refute_them_ makes people remember them better. It’s counterproductive.

    Teach people how to learn facts, so they can convince themselves about the science.

    It ain’t easy. But we have the Fermi Paradox to motivate us.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 8:28 PM

  183. re my 155: Shoot! I know what was edited was off topic and off focus, but it was the good stuff! :-P

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Nov 2008 @ 12:00 AM

  184. Re #182, only one in five, cool, [edit – no partisan politics]

    Maybe Barack Obama will manage to use his significance in th worlds standing to deliver a beautifully crafted energy strategy for the world where producing CO2 becomes expensive and hence helps deliver the grand plan for sustainable energy source provision and efficiency gains (especially seeing as how the US car companies are in trouble financially) that we need.

    I still doubt that the world will reduce emissions with out the historic polluters the west paying for the costs of this new technology for the world which is unlikely.

    Comment by pete best — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:22 AM

  185. Hank, I’m afraid I don’t agree that calling those in denial about climate change denialists is counterproductive. It accurately reflects their views. The confidently come into public debate and assert the opposite of what all the peer-reviewed research says–even in forums like this, where people are quite familiar with the peer-reviewed research. This can only be explained by 4 hypotheses: 1)They are ignorant of the research and still confident of their fixed ideas. In this case, would ignoramuses be less pejorative? 2)They assert the opposite of the research hoping to convince the uneducated among the public. I think denialist is less pejorative and more charitable than “liar,” don’t you? 3)They are aware of the research, but deny its existence or correctness. What else can you call someone like this but a denialist. 4)They are familiar with the research and do not understand it, but still confidently assert that those whose job it is to understand it are wrong? I agree that denialist does not capture these attitudes 100% accurately, but it’s a whole helluva lot more polite than more accurate labels.

    On the whole, denialist comes closest to labeling the entire looney fringe that rejects good science. No matter what label we came up with, they would claim persecution, and I refuse to drag skepticism through the mud by applying the term to these people.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:45 AM

  186. “Teach people how to learn facts, so they can convince themselves about the science.”

    Hank, there’s your problem right there.

    The denialists DO NOT WANT AGW to be true. The fence-sitters don’t see a need to find out and since there are two sides arguing, there’s “no consensus” on the deal “so wait until they sort it out”.

    When their homes are permanently flooded, THEN they’ll educate themselves but then it’s too late.

    It’s a war here and you don’t win wars by educating the neutral powers.

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:46 AM

  187. Re:186 Mark. Dont be frustrated over what the little minnows in the fish pond say. Most govs of the world know that they have to take the information in relation to CC from the most reliable informed sources eg. the members of the IPCC to name but the best. Now that very soon you wont be burdoned and paralysed by a president with his head firmly in the sand bucket, this crucial message will be taken all over america and the world in unison and the denialists pathetic voices will be silenced once and for all. Then and only then can ALL our respective energies be channeled into fighting this epic battle.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  188. Re #171 sorry you found the adjectives so offensive

    “Richard, nobody has ever suggested that CO2 increase is necessarily purely due to industrial output. ”

    Does that mean you disagree with AGW? So Are there posts in this blog telling people that they should keep their gas guzzlers because the CO2 increase isn’t due to industrial output?

    If the collapse of the soviet union made a wiggle, a worldwide crisis might have a more significant effect? (the average energy consumption of a russian is not really comparable to the average energy consumption of an american).

    In any case if the financial crisis has no impact then maybe people switching their lights off won’t have much effect either?

    re #172 PhD + 10 years post doctoral research in turbulence simulation

    Comment by Richard — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:55 AM

  189. 153: Geoff Beacon. “Who better to do make the noise than RealClimateScientists. That is unless the scary scenarios have no chance of coming about. I’d be delighted to be told they are just fantasy.”
    These scary scenarios will happen just as the sun makes it’s celestial appearence every morning and sooner than predicted. You make your bed – you sleep in it! That’s why govs must think of ways that are win-win. To capture CO2, cut emissions by 90% and benefit the economy. It’s obvious than when your budget is cut by 2/3 like most world economies are that you need different ways rather than throwing copius billions of dollars into infrastructure to mitigate CO2(nobody can currently afford it.) Agressive carbon tax must employed and legislation must be incorporated that those companies do not pass on 1c of their carbon penalties to the consumer. Sure many precarious companies will go to the wall..but that’s the stance we have to take. What I do know is that if everyone doesn’t make a 100% effort NOW and keep that effort up for many decades to come there is no sustainable future for our planet and I cant make it clearer than that.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 22 Nov 2008 @ 10:04 AM

  190. Re:#175 Stuart says:
    “The climate always changes the temperature rise in the last century was not unusual.”

    And people are always getting sick. This doesn’t mean we should give up on treating illness.

    Why does the climate change?(everyone agrees that climate isn’t static). It’s due to forcings from various sources
    e.g., solar flux, orbital changes, value of albedo(reflectivity) and chemical composition of the atmosphere.
    Since the dawn of the industrial age, gases such as carbon dioxide, that allow high energy sunlight in and trap
    low infra-red energy reflected by the surface, have increased. CO2 is about 40 percent higher at about 385 ppmv,than
    it was 250 years ago, due to the burning of fossil fuels by man (and woman). This is the primary forcing driving climate
    change today. I know this is all basic, but it bears repeating.

    There’s a close correlation between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and Earth’s average temperature. Sometime
    one lags and the other leads, and vice versa. In the geologic past, temperature rises have occurred before atmospheric
    increases of CO2,but that’s not the case in the present.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 22 Nov 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  191. Richard@188,
    Land use change is a big contributor to rising CO2 levels: when forest is cut down or grassland is ploughed up, or peat is cut or dries out, CO2 is released. I don’t have exact figures to hand, but these factors account for a significant percentage of recent increases. They are likely to persist even in an economic downturn.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 11:44 AM

  192. Mark, did you read the survey result at the PRI page and listen to the audio program? If it were a war it would be won, with those numbers convinced. The remaining 20 percent are a problem — but not because they’re an enemy. Read some of David Brin on the need for science education and on politics, please, after you listen to the PRI piece and read the studies discussed in the news article.

    The point is — there’s good science about climate, and there’s good science about how people do and don’t learn and change beliefs.

    I’m urging you to attend to the science about the latter. It’s not easy, it’s not intuitive, it’s not like playing war. It’s not been done anywhere before now except, very slowly, with teaching evolution — where the right approach has been followed.

    Read the science about how people change what they believe. Look at where it’s worked.

    “… not necessarily purely due to industrial output” and your followup 188 “Does that mean you disagree with AGW” is talking point stuff.

    Are you trying for irony? Or asking for debate on those terms?

    Try asking a science question! One of the real scientists here may have answered it — if so I may be able to help you find it.

    If you’ve read the Start Here and sidebar links already, you’ll ask one they haven’t answered — and that’s a very good way to start — they’ll tell you it’s a good question and delve into it and we’ll all learn a bit more.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 12:07 PM

  193. Has there been a year to year measurement of the total heat content of both the ocean and the atmosphere? If the atmospheric variation is due to ocean circulation variability then presumably the sum of the two would have less variability. However, I would guess that the ocean heat content measurement is not accurate enough on a year to year basis to remove this variability, but it sure would be nice to help explain in a simple manner the atmospheric variability.

    Comment by Anthony Leonard — 22 Nov 2008 @ 12:27 PM

  194. No, Richard (#187), that doesn’t mean AGW is wrong. It means that not all CO2 is due to human activity.

    By denying AGW are you saying that we are doing NOTHING to the earth to change it???

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 12:53 PM


    Richard, this may help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  196. of which Lawrence is evidently wildly in favor of…

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Nov 2008 @ 2:06 PM

  197. It is human nature… who wants to admit that our own efforts, our amazing technology, our ingenuity has led to a warming phenomenon can lead to catastrophe if we do not make major changes, spend an enormous amount of money and so forth. Then those outside of science or at least climatology say: you do not have an exact charney sensitivity value, so what are you getting concerned or “alarmed, “about?” Then there is the issue of various physicists, chemists and so forth who have little understanding of weather and/or climate and want it all neatly quantified or else it does not exist. Industry runs this capitalistic society, from free trade, free market, to government support from special interest groups. The funny thing is we still have time to make drastic changes and make long standing improvements.

    For those of us who understand the science know that we have areas of great uncertainty and have a responsibility to explain the issues and bring clarity to these matters, but as we have seen in the news media, in the colleges and in this blog, this is a daunting task to say the least. I have serious problems with carbon cap and trade, it may not work out too well, especially since with enough money people can go over emission standards and with enough money and power, there is plenty of scandal and corruption on the horizon.

    Comment by jcbmack — 22 Nov 2008 @ 2:22 PM

  198. LC,

    What I do know is that if everyone doesn’t make a 100% effort NOW and keep that effort up for many decades to come there is no sustainable future for our planet and I cant make it clearer than that.

    And exactly how do you ‘KNOW’ that Laurence?

    Comment by Dave Andrews — 22 Nov 2008 @ 2:47 PM

  199. “It’s a war here and you don’t win wars by educating the neutral powers.” Actually, I think this is called diplomacy and has won a lot of wars over the centuries! :)

    I think Hank makes some really good points. In particular, I think that the idea of repeating the truth, not the bogus arguments–is excellent. (In the forum I “patrol”, I always emphasize the *known* science (easy, since the #1 denialist meme at the moment in those fora seems to be “there’s no empirical evidence for AGW,” which is a perfect intro to “Well, actually the IPCC bibliography runs to thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, etc.”)

    Obviously, I don’t think the “denialist” label is necessarily bad–like Ray, I believe it to be accurate (largely.) But it needs to be applied sparingly and carefully, most preferably in the third, as opposed to second, person.

    I don’t think there is a downside to using it carefully, because those to whom it does apply are, by definition, not susceptible to education in any reasonable timeframe. However, one ought to be very careful *not* to apply it to skeptics, as they are the folks you most would like to persuade, and “you don’t catch flies with vinegar.” For the folks who are not yet convinced one way or another, I think that the “denialist” tag may help them to see what is going on–that in fact, a good number of the anti-reality bloggers are just flatly unwilling to consider the evidence.

    As to how the struggle is going, I note that there are lots of “denialist” voices ready to jump in at any point, but that the “AGW consensus” voices get a lot more recommendations.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Nov 2008 @ 3:05 PM

  200. Hank #182 “we have the Fermi Paradox to motivate us”. Fermi’s “where are they?” was a clincher. AGW is not quite there –
    Ray #185 Also 5) The Sun and H2O. More research needed.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 22 Nov 2008 @ 3:06 PM

  201. 189. Lawrence. Thanks. It’s good to find someone able to say it as they see it.

    Are there any others?

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 22 Nov 2008 @ 4:03 PM

  202. Kevin, diplomacy doesn’t stop wars.

    It’s strange but once it requires a lot of dead before one side starts thinking “Hey, maybe we ought to talk”. They don’t think of doing the talking before.

    Can anyone think of a time when diplomacy stopped a war? The only ones that come close were just grandstanding attempts and were unlikely to turn into real war (except *maybe* by proxy, cf Afghanistan vs USSR).

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  203. simon abingdon #200:

    Didn’t you forget some:
    6) Cosmic rays
    7) Natural variability
    8 ) Urban heat island
    9) The oceans
    10) Medieval Warm Period
    11) CO2 lags temperature
    12) Little Ice Age
    13) Saturated absorption bands
    14) Cooling since 1998
    15) Eco-left conspiracy

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 22 Nov 2008 @ 5:56 PM

  204. Sidetrack, Mark.
    Wrong metaphor; look at teaching evolution or epidemiology or public health — the people describing that as war are claiming they’re victims of persecution. Don’t feed.

    Simon, Fermi’s question has corollaries:
    — “How long will we be viable?”
    — “What could possibly go wrong?”

    David Brin’s good on this topic, with frequent recommendations at Picking just two that say something about teaching science and how people learn:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:51 PM

  205. P.S., Brin also notes work relevant to the Fermi Paradox, just in this past week. Still no joy.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:55 PM

  206. Anne van der Bom (203), (perhaps you are being facetious, if so you left out “hockey stick”) none the less 5-15 all fall under 1-4, and have been discussed here repeatedly.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 22 Nov 2008 @ 8:10 PM

  207. The averaging of the grid boxes and identifying anomalies, spatial averaging, time averaging and the utilization of both larger and smaller boxes has led to many methods to reducing sampling, bias, and large number related errors. Several issues do remain which are mentioned straightforward in the HADCRUT3 literature and the potential discrepancies over the deviation in temp C, from the actual monthly, decade, and century temperature changes recorded are also well discussed. The utilization of statistics, the standard deviation, (sigma and so forth) are all to put a play on the word: standard. The cross analysis of the temperature data from the oceans and land leave some questions unanswered, but again the further applications of error analysis and averaging smooths out figures enough to get a reading that one can be confident indicates a global warming trend. The improvements in sensitivity to nuances is incredible, but again over time these nuances play less of an integral role than one might think and chaotic weather patterns (or other global events) not only must be considered in relationship to sharp deviations or discrepancies, but global climate system coupling and potential climate change and actual warming must be understood as having a cyclic relationship with ongoing changes in weather patterns and feed backs resulting from not just the green house gases, but from the affects of such greenhouse gases after a positive and feedback; the magnitude is still not clearly shown nor is the reason for the positive feedback being a net factor, but it quite cleat that it is. Still, as models are modified, paramaterized, and made more sensitive with existing technology and utilization of data and statistical techniques, there should be a more compelling presentation of immense accuracy for the skeptical mathematicians, meteorologists, etc… (and hopefully the trickle down for the lay people)

    Comment by jcbmack — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  208. Bullocks

    Comment by jcbmack — 22 Nov 2008 @ 10:20 PM

  209. I watched a CNN special, financed by Shell, I believe, featuring “seawater rivers”, which would both pump CO2 out of the atmosphere, and take care of the rising level of the oceans. The proponent seems to be an American. I thought it a bit odd; any clues?

    Comment by Francois Marchand — 23 Nov 2008 @ 3:52 AM

  210. Mark (#186),
    There is no war and there are no fence sitters, there are tax payers. A lot of countries acting right now and spending a lot of money into climate simulation and related research as well as new technologies.
    I guess all the people in our countries pay their taxes and are entitled to voice their opinion. Therefore I think they are also entitled to be treated with respect.
    Best regards
    Guenter Hess

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:35 AM

  211. (re 117, belatedly). Ms Anna Loftin has been writing that the European leaders reneged on their commitment to lower emissions of CO2 by 30%, down to 20% only, by 2020. Where did she ever get that figure of 30? As far as I know, continental Europe is -give or take haolf a percentage point- more or less on track regarding its goals, so what is she driving at? Any other country in the world she has in mind, which would be doing better?

    Comment by Francois Marchand — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:44 AM

  212. Hank, how about we use “Stop persecuting us”? We’ve got a lot more proof that we’re being picked on.

    PS you’re wrong that not calling them denialists will stop them bleating about how they’re being jobbed.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Nov 2008 @ 5:47 AM

  213. Simon Abingdon,
    The Sun–I think we understand that pretty well. If it shines brighter, we get warmer. It’s output has been remarkably stable, and more to the point is measurable.

    Water vapor–We also understand that better. It’s a greenhouse gas with a short residence time in the atmosphere.

    Neither explains a long-term rising trend of rising temperatures. I would suggest that the fact that you didn’t include clouds and aerosols is a pretty good indication that you don’t know what you are talking about. That is where most of the uncertainty resides.

    I also find it interesting that you utterly ignore the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and propose no mechanism by which it ceases to act as one once its concentration rises above 280 ppmv.

    Might I suggest that rather than trying to justify your own skepticism, your time could be better spent learning the science that is already known about climate. Your criticisms might then at least be relevant and informed.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Nov 2008 @ 7:55 AM

  214. Mark, (#202) diplomacy has stopped a lot of wars, though as you point out, generally a lot of people have to die first–indicative is the prevalence of the words “treaty of—” and “status quo ante bellum” in modern European history. I dare say diplomacy has stopped a goodly number of wars before they got started–possibly the last India-Pakistan crisis was a example, though of course there is an inherent “attribution problem” as to why they didn’t actually go to war.

    But as Hank’s post indicates, we can quibble about war and diplomacy all we want, but we are quibbling about a metaphor; we are not literally at war regarding climate change. The question remains open as to whether this is a metaphor that will serve us well. It certainly captures the urgency and vital significance of the issue, but are we likely to prevail through sheer force or sheer resolve? Or do we need primarily to persuade? If that is the case, then obviously we need to keep our eyes on what is persuasive–and that may not be the crushing argument or the devastating putdown.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Nov 2008 @ 7:59 AM

  215. Hank #205 “Still no joy” Perhaps 10^22 stars just isn’t enough for evolution to come up with an encore. Needs far more than a chain of twenty-two 1 in 10 chances, no? (Sorry OT)

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Nov 2008 @ 7:59 AM

  216. What the denyalists are saying I believe is that they want 100% proof that humans are the main reason for Climate change. The problem here is that we will never have 100% proof. There is no definative proof that smoking causes cancer either and that’s because mammalian biochemistry is so terribly complex with countless cascading chains and sequences and complex interactions with internal chemicals and external ones and then there’s the dna which tells each gene how much of a certian type of amino acid to produce and when. However you would be seriously ignorant if you did not find striking correlations between what we are doing to our bodies and the onset of cancer. It’s like the more we know the less we actually know. Climate science is the same I would guess. The interactions at play are endless, they spiral off into smaller and smaller subsets ad-infinitum. Laypeople have to be content when the members of the IPCC say CC is 90% caused by anthopogenic means..that’s as good as we are going to get!..ok..maybe in another 5 years it’ll be “we are 92% sure..”. You will never ever get 100%. Dave Andrews says in 198..”well Lawrence how do you know that?” Dave..90% is good enough for me to take action. I don’t need our boat to be completely undewater before you say “man the bilge pumps”. I just read an article on the impact of nitrates from cities and car engines being deposited in arctic snow turning to N20 again when the spring thaw begins and contributing 1/3 to the N20 in the arctic atmosphere thus forcing decay of the ozone hole. Gavin would be the first to say there is a hell of a lot we dont understand yet. That’s why adequate funding is so critical at this time. We know it’s happening..what we dont have a good handle on yet is the time frame we have.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Nov 2008 @ 9:17 AM

  217. If you compare CRU, NOAA and satellite estimates from 1979 they are marked by periods with little or no increase (79 to 82, 87 to 91 and 02 to 06), periods with falls (83 to 83, 91 to 93 and 05 to 08) and periods with increases (85 to 87, 94 to 99 and 00 to 02). Overall there has been an increase of around 0.3 C. Unfortunately in the debate on climate change too many people read too much into short term changes in temperature. So the only sensible reply to the question “Has global warming stopped?” is one Mao Tse Tung gave when asked “What are the consequences of the French Revolution?” – “It is too early to tell.”

    Comment by Julius St Swithin — 23 Nov 2008 @ 10:40 AM

  218. It’s amazing how many giants there are to stand on. A bit excerpted from this is relevant to the topic:

    Criticism in a Mass Society
    by W H Auden

    Published in 1941 in a book of essays titled The Intent of the Critic, ed D A Stauffer, Princeton University Press.

    Found somewhere on the Web. You know how.


    … It will not take us long to discover that in a modern society, whatever its political form, the great majority prefer opinion to knowledge, and passively allow the former to be imposed upon them by a centralized few—I need only mention as in example the influence of the Sunday book supplements of the newspapers upon our public libraries.

    If we are concerned, as I think we should be, at this trend, we shall accomplish nothing by cries of lamentation or superior sneers; we cannot hope to effect any reform unless we can discover, firstly, what it is in the structure of our society that makes for this state of affairs, secondly; how far the molding of the opinions of the few by the many is inevitable, and then what steps it is possible to take within the inevitable to minimize its dangers and take advantage of its possibilities.

    … the only check on authoritarian control by the few, whether in matters of esthetic taste or political choice, is the knowledge of the many. We cannot of course all be experts in everything; we are always governed, and I hope willingly, by those whom we believe to be expert; but our society has already reached a point in its development where the expert can be recognized only by an educated judgment. The standard demanded of the man in the street (and outside our own special field, we are all men in the street) rises with every generation.

    This cannot be emphasized too strongly. …

    … Our differences, and they are vital, are as to the essential nature of that unity and the form which it should take. The cohesion of a society is secured by a mixture of three factors, community of actions, community of faith and beliefs, and coercion by those who possess the means of exercising it. In a differentiated society like our own, the first factor has in large measure disappeared. If we are agreed that the third should be as small an influence as possible, we must examine the second very carefully.

    I have used two words, faith and belief, to describe two different forms of assent: assent to presuppositions which cannot be immediately proved true or false, as, for example, science presupposes that the world of nature exists; and assent to propositions that can be experimentally tested, e.g., the proposition that water boils at one hundred degrees centigrade. In proportion as a society is closed and traditional it tends to regard all propositions as presuppositions and so to discourage initiative and research because it fears the destruction of its fundamental assumptions.

    … False beliefs in fact lead to bad poetry, and bad poetry leads to a falsification of belief. …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2008 @ 11:16 AM

  219. Simon Abingdon, Again off topic, but relevant to the type of misunderstanding one often sees in scientific matters. To say that a mere 22 one in ten chances would preclude development of life ignores many things. Chief among them:
    1)Genetics is changing continually with billions of copies of what are nominally the same instructions.
    2)The events in question are not independent, so multiplication of probabilities is not appropriate.
    3)Evolution is shaped by the environment, which is brutally efficient.

    I suspect that the answer to Fermi’s paradox is that any intelligent lifeforms simply haven’t seen anthing promising enough from our edge of the galazy to justify the investment needed to come and say “howdy”. People seem to forget that there’s a cosmological speed limit that will limit interstellar tourism pretty severly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Nov 2008 @ 11:42 AM

  220. #210, Guenter, By all means, the tax payers are entitled to their opinion and to respect of that opinion. They are not, however, entitled to their own set of facts independent of physical reality. If people seek to influence policy, they must first acknowledge the science. If not, they leave empty their seat at the negotiating table where we decide what to do about the threat we face from climate change

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Nov 2008 @ 11:51 AM

  221. I read Dessler’s water vapour paper linked above.

    The data shows there was a 1.5% (percentage points) decline in relative humidity in the lower troposphere and a 1.5% increase in relative humidity in the upper troposhere (no real change in the middle.)

    I’m not sure that supports the contention that relative humidity remains broadly constant with changes in temperature (or warming in particular).

    There is obviously much more water vapour in the lower troposphere than the upper troposphere given the decrease in pressure.

    This would signal a decline in the overall level of relative humidity as the temperatures declined in the study period (which itself might indicate the feedback effect is larger than predicted but it at least indicates that it is not stable across the weighted average of the troposphere).

    [Response: Actually it pretty much does. As temperature increases, the saturation specific humidity goes up by 7% per deg C. If Relative humidity is roughly the same (within a percent or two), then the actual water vapour is still increasing at pretty close to 7% per deg C – giving a significant water vapour feedback. You can see the kinds of predicted changes in RH (on the order of a percent or two) in the GISS model results (available here). – gavin]

    Comment by John Lang — 23 Nov 2008 @ 12:08 PM

  222. Ray #213 “you didn’t include clouds” (H2O?) “The Sun–I think we understand that pretty well” (pretty?)

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  223. Ray #218 Well how about these for starters?
    (1) a nearly circular orbit stable for billions of years,
    (2) an abundance of (liquid) water,
    (3) significant land masses amid the oceans,
    (4) an appropriate tilt to the planet’s axis,
    (5) benign influences of nearby bodies (moon and Jupiter),
    (6) gravity sufficient to contain an atmosphere,
    (7) an ecology enabling this atmosphere to be breathable,
    (8) the fortuitous extinction of the dinosaurs,
    (9) appearance of the opposable thumb,
    (10) the development of bipedalism,
    (11) availability of materials for toolmaking,
    (12) a physiology enabling the evolution of language

    Comment by simon abingdon — 23 Nov 2008 @ 3:05 PM

  224. Simon, That is what I mean. Your reference to “H20” and “The Sun” is vague–not at all the way one would talk if he had a good understanding of the science. Why not at least learn what you are opposing?

    ReCaptcha says: knowing of

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:32 PM

  225. Ray: “…suspect that the answer to Fermi’s paradox is that any intelligent lifeforms simply haven’t seen anthing promising enough from our edge of the galazy to justify the investment needed to come and say “howdy”.

    Depending on the density of civilizations, it may also involve someone enforcing non-interference in a ‘nature preserve’.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 23 Nov 2008 @ 6:23 PM

  226. “…So why have we failed to convince ;-) ?…”

    For a start comparing 2 clunker data sets to prove warming is still possibly happening isn’t very persuasive. More objective temperature datasets are derived from the satellite MSU sources.

    MSU data have “holes at poles” but the empirical surface data north/south of 82.5 is pretty slim also. Outside of these zones the MSU datasets have much better coverage of the globe for recent climate history.

    Comment by Brian Klappstein — 23 Nov 2008 @ 6:54 PM

  227. Ray #223 I added to your somewhat overconfident (“can only be explained by 4 hypotheses”) list of reasons why people might not accept AGW (#185) the comment “the Sun and H2O. More research needed” (#200).

    Your lukewarm assertion (#213) “The Sun–I think we understand that pretty well” and your admission (also #213) that “clouds [H2O] and aerosols … is where most of the uncertainty resides” are really quite shocking given the momentous importance of AGW theory.

    Here are three questions:

    (1) Is solar magnetic flux variability and its consequent effects on cosmic ray shielding well understood?
    (2) Is the involvement of cosmic rays in cloud production well understood?
    (3) Are the feedback mechanisms of clouds well understood?

    By “well understood” I mean understood to a level where earth-shaking policy decisions could be made with confidence. “Pretty well” obviously falls short of this criterion as would all admissions of uncertainty.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 24 Nov 2008 @ 4:37 AM

  228. Brian, #225.

    Isn’t it you who are using two clunker datasets to prove warming is no longer happening?

    90 stations got recorded incorrectly.

    Why do they make correction fluid?

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:06 AM

  229. simon #222. What about

    a worm that lives inside a childs eye, eating the eye and making the child blind
    mlaria protection giving people sickle cell anaemia
    human physiology changes for speech mean we can’t breathe while drinking
    playground in amongst the sewers

    If there’s a reason, it’s not from a benign source. Or even that competent a one.

    Or there’s no source and things just happen.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:10 AM

  230. FurryCatHerder writes:

    Perhaps instead of saying “10 years isn’t long enough” the pro-AGW crowd will start to recognize that the giant ball of fire has an influence?

    They never said it didn’t. What they said, correctly, was that since solar output has shown no trend for the past 50 years, it can’t have caused the sharp upturn in global warming of the last 30. Period.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:21 AM

  231. simon abington writes:

    Hank #205 “Still no joy” Perhaps 10^22 stars just isn’t enough for evolution to come up with an encore. Needs far more than a chain of twenty-two 1 in 10 chances, no? (Sorry OT)

    The combinatorial argument against abiogenesis does not stand up to analysis. See (remove the hyphen before copying and pasting into your browser’s address window):

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:38 AM

  232. simon abington writes:

    Ray #218 Well how about these for starters?
    (1) a nearly circular orbit stable for billions of years,

    In the Solar system, no planet has eccentricity exceeding about 0.25, and most are well under. And they’ve all been about where they have been for the past 4.5 billion years, Velikovsky notwithstanding. A lot of exosolar planets have high eccentricity, but this may be an observation bias since we’re just starting to detect them (first reliable exoplanet detection was in 1992).

    (2) an abundance of (liquid) water,

    Any planet with the right size and temperatures should have plenty of liquid water. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and oxygen isn’t far behind.

    (3) significant land masses amid the oceans,

    A planet would have to be extremely large to be entirely ocean. Earth is about 70.8% ocean, Mars has about 36% if you count both polar caps. I’ve seen one estimate that early Mars had about 15% ocean coverage.

    (4) an appropriate tilt to the planet’s axis,

    According to Dole (1964, 88), axial inclination of up to 54 degrees is compatible with habitability.

    (5) benign influences of nearby bodies (moon and Jupiter),

    We probably do need the Moon to stabilize our axial tilt. Ditto Jupiter for diverting outer-system comets. I’d guess about 1-10% of otherwise suitable planets have the right setup.

    (6) gravity sufficient to contain an atmosphere,

    True for Venus, Earth and Mars. The thin atmosphere of Mars is probably due to early impact ablation.

    (7) an ecology enabling this atmosphere to be breathable,

    Any old enough planet with liquid water and organic chemicals should.

    (8) the fortuitous extinction of the dinosaurs,

    Why is this a requirement? If the big impactor hadn’t hit, perhaps there would now be intelligent dinosaurs on the planet, probably descended from the coelurosaurs or other bipeds.

    (9) appearance of the opposable thumb,

    True, this was very useful. It has shown up a few times, e.g. in primates and raccoons. Cephalopods make do with tentacles.

    (10) the development of bipedalism,

    Yes, useful to free the hands. Again, no reason to think it wouldn’t arise. Allosaurs, coelurosaurs, primates, birds, and occasional bipeds like bears, raccoons and meerkats.

    (11) availability of materials for toolmaking,

    Unlikely to be a problem. Stone is going to be pretty much universal on a terrestrial planet, and probably metal as well. And any planet with an ecology will probably have an equivalent of wood.

    (12) a physiology enabling the evolution of language

    A good point. As far as we know only humans have developed language per se (I am not impressed with ape language experiments). Is a nonverbal intelligence possible? There used to be a theory that Neanderthal man was nonverbal, due to an apparent lack of Broca’s and Wernicke’s area in skull casts, but I think someone may have disproved it. Does anybody know?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:01 AM

  233. Brian Klappstein writes:

    For a start comparing 2 clunker data sets to prove warming is still possibly happening isn’t very persuasive.

    Global warming is shown by land surface temperature station readings, sea surface temperature readings, balloon radiosonde temp. readings, satellite temp. readings, borehole temp. readings, melting glaciers, sea level rise, treelines moving toward poles, mammal, bird and insect migration toward poles, increase in spread of tropical diseases, increasing atmospheric water burden, etc., etc., etc. It’s happening. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:04 AM

  234. Simon Abingdon, Re: your 3 questions.

    (1) Is solar magnetic flux variability and its consequent effects on cosmic ray shielding well understood?
    Again, you must define what you mean by “well understood”. We understand it quite well wrt the solar cycle. We also know that GCR flux hasn’t changed much in the 50 years we’ve been measuring it. So, yes, we understand it well enough to know that’s not behind the current warming epoch.
    (2) Is the involvement of cosmic rays in cloud production well understood?
    We understand it well enough to see that since GCR fluxes aren’t changing, it’s not a driver of current climate change.
    (3) Are the feedback mechanisms of clouds well understood?
    I said that clouds remain a big uncertainty for climate models. However, they can provide both positive and negative forcing.

    What you left out is that we understand very well how CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas. We understand the major feedbacks and we know that we need a sensitivity around 3 degrees per doubling for our models of climate to work. If that is wrong, then everything we know about climate is wrong, and the success of the models does not support that conclusion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:57 AM

  235. Re 232–Barton, thanks for a concise list of some of the corroborating observations; I’ll only add that these are documented in in peer-reviewed published work, and are thus not merely anecdotal. One of the frustrating constants is the tendency of some to disregard this information, apparently because it is “inconvenient.”

    Re 231–since the whole “Fermi paradox” discussion is a bit OT, I’ll only add a personal opinion that the view of (sophisticated) cognition being exclusively language-dependent is being seriously undercut by neurological research, which reveals that cognition draws upon a much larger suite of underlying perceptual and reality-modelling/processing capabilities. (Of course, language does still remain a tool of great significance.) No specific cites to support that, I’m afraid!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:18 AM

  236. BPL. And how about these, all from recent newspaper headlines:
    – increase in kidney stone occurence due to warmer climate
    – Dormice forced to take bird food because of climage change
    – Lemming populations ravaged by climate change
    – Climate change keeps swans in Siberia
    – Salt levels in the oceans
    – Common seal population in sharp decline due to CC
    – Black widows in UK
    – Butterflies fight losing battled against CC
    – Whales lose blubber due to CC
    – CC hits minorities hardest

    Comment by PHE — 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:20 AM

  237. Barton: about the lack of speech of Neanderthals. I think Jared Diamond covers that subject on The Third Chimpanzee. If I remember right, he claims that Neanderthals had the limited speech we probably had some 35.000 years ago: just simple words, no complex syntax. It was not enough to trigger the steady development of technology we had from then on.

    (I know, this is drifting away from the topic…)

    Comment by Alexandre — 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:46 AM

  238. Barton: about the lack of speech of Neanderthals. I think Jared Diamond covers that subject on The Third Chimpanzee. If I remember right, he claims that Neanderthals had the same ability of speech we had some 35,000 years ago: just simple words, no complex syntax. It was not enough to trigger the steady development of technology we had from then on.

    (I know, this is drifting away from the topic…)

    Comment by Alexandre — 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:52 AM

  239. Regarding “natural cycles”, let’s remember that ENSO, the PDO, and the AMO are nothing at all like other natural cycles – such as the daily tidal cycle, or the monthly orbit of the Moon around the Earth.

    A natural cycle implies predictability, and this is where ENSO diverges. Let’s look at the 20th century ENSO index:

    For an example of more predictable cyclical behavior, see the solar neutron output/sunspot cycle, 1950-2002: That cycle is very clear, but has a negligible effect on climate, and in any case – the solar output has been flat, hasn’t it?

    In the case of ENSO, there is no simple cyclical trend, though the index wobbles between positive (El Nino) and negative (La Nina) conditions. Keep in mind that no climate model has ever come close to reproducing this “clear cyclical trend”, either. The AMO and PDO are not nearly as well understood – there is little if any mechanistic explanation for the PDO or the AMO, unlike the case with ENSO (where it is still controversial). The PDO and AMO were detected using time series analysis as well, which makes the a priori assumption that cyclical behavior is there in the data, waiting to be discovered.

    [Response: Not quite true. We do indeed understand ENSO better, but models do in fact produce internal modes that are quite ‘PDO’ and ‘AMO’ like, and their are a multitude of mechanisms that have been imputed to explain them. The dynamics underlying the AMO in the GFDL model simulations are explored in some detail in Delworth and Mann (2000) linked above. -mike]

    That’s an important point. Climate models don’t reproduce the 20th century warming trend if anthropogenic increases in CO2 are not included. Those increases are due to burning fossil fuels, mostly, as measured by radioactive dating experiments – fossil fuel has no 14C, unlike biomass. However, no climate model reproduces the details of the best-understood climatic oscillation – El Nino. This indicates there is a good deal of randomness to this oscillation – hardly a clear cycle.

    Second, we need to remember that most of the warming from CO2 so far has gone into the oceans, not the atmosphere. The heat capacity of water is far greater than that of air, so the oceans don’t warm nearly as much – but the heat is still there.

    A large El Nino represents a surface ocean-to-atmosphere heat transfer, which is why 1998 surface temperatures were high (and that’s why the fossil fuel industry PR folks like to start all their climate trends in 1998). Still, this is just a redistribution of energy – if it was the only factor, you would see net cooling of the oceans.

    Thus, if we take Jared’s claim that the atmosphere is warming because of AMO and PDO and ENSO related heat transfers from the ocean, we should see an equivalent ocean cooling (1) and we should also see no energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere (2), meaning that the Earth is shedding as much energy as it is absorbing. Neither of these is true.

    [Response: This is true to first order, but there are 2nd order impacts that can actually change the TOA radiation budget. For example, changes in type and extent of cloud. This is seen w/ ENSO. Harder to say if its seen w/ these putative lower frequency internal modes, since they are not well sampled over the satellite interval. -mike]

    In fact, there is a clear measured energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere, though Triana/DSCVR would make that measurement more accurate. There is also a steady trend of ocean warming, as well as a steady trend of melting ice. Melting ice doesn’t change the temperature, but it does represent energy storage by the Earth, and it accounts for some portion of that top-of-the-atmosphere imbalance. Therefore, there is no way that ENSO or AMO or PDO or MJO type oscillations can be responsible for the observed warming.

    Also, remember that the water vapor increase is an amplification of the warming brought on by CO2 and methane and N2O. I don’t see how that helps any denialist arguments, re #81.

    As far as why fossil fuel producers are funding huge efforts to prevent action on global warming, that should be obvious – loss of market share. A 95% reduction in fossil fuel use is not going to make them very happy, is it?

    There are plenty of viable replacements for fossil fuels, some safer than others, but there is no technological problem that is preventing the widespread adoption of renewables. The problem is one of emerging and disruptive technology.

    For example, in 1980 there were no cell phones or cell phone networks – and now there are. There was no pre-existing mobile communication technology to compete with. However, fossil fuel use has increased quite a bit since 1980, even though solar and wind were well developed in the 1970s. We don’t all have electric cars and solar panels on our roofs, but we all have cell phones. Electric cars and solar panels are disruptive technologies, while cell phones are emerging technologies, which is the difference.

    Maybe RodB has some other explanation for the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon’s funding of denialist climate groups and tobacco institute scientists, or the $100 million contract delivered to Edelman PR services to “clean up oil’s image?”? Then there is the Edison Electric Institute, so named because “American Coal Insitute” doesn’t sound so good. The coal-fired utilities and the petroleum industry have armies of PR flacks, lobbyists, politicians, government employees and internet bloggers – all working to keep the status quo intact. It’s called market share – they’re worried about losing 95% of it – and that includes everyone from Chevron to Peabody Coal to Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:49 AM

  240. Ray #233 Ray, I posed three questions: thank you for responding. Your answers included the following, and I quote:

    1) “We understand it quite well”
    2) “We understand it well enough”
    3) “clouds remain a big uncertainty for climate models”

    Clouds cover half the surface of the planet.

    Whither AGW theory?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:45 PM

  241. “…It’s happening. Deal with it….”

    (Comment by Barton Paul Levenson)

    Or maybe not. We appear to be looking at a state change in the PDO based on the when the last one occurred plus the current “cool spell”. Also the lack of heat content increase in the ocean depths since 2003 also point to a possible state change in a major climate driver. If so we’re about to find out what influence the cool phase of the PDO has relative to GHG forcing.

    In any case my point was that MSU data are a better place to look for possible changes in the warming rate in the last 30 years, compared to the surface data set (at least the land part). Hopefully we can agree on that point.

    Regards, BRK

    Comment by Brian Klappstein — 24 Nov 2008 @ 1:35 PM

  242. #231 Barton Thank you for your unnecessarily considered response to my would-be aliens’ shopping list! I put it together basically because of Hank’s throwaway reference to the Fermi paradox in #182. But delighted that you agreed with even a few of my “evolutionary requirements”. I think the problem with discussions like this is that however much we try, we can’t get rid of the idea of intelligence being somehow the “crowning glory” of evolution, rather than just another run-of-the-mill survival trick like the elephant’s trunk. So, while I’m not holding my breath I’ll say “keep looking, and good luck”.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 24 Nov 2008 @ 1:38 PM

  243. For a lively tour of the “can’t be” opinions ites google: “La Nina of 2008” +GISS +divergence
    Nobody’s published that I can find.

    Gavin, you wrote earlier that you’d be happy to talk about the uncertainties.

    May I suggest a _far_more_moderated_ topic and plead that you do, conversing but firmly held to the subject?

    There’s a lot I’d love to learn about the areas you could teach about.

    You could create a parallel thread for failed postings for that particular topic — if you prefer not to just discard them.

    PS — I realize you are already over-busy. I’m thinking a slow topic with responses by scientists. It’d be a chance many people don’t have to understand how argument, even ‘hard argument,’ gets done.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  244. Barton Paul Levenson wrote: “As far as we know only humans have developed language per se (I am not impressed with ape language experiments).”

    Note that “ape language experiments” in which gorillas and chimpanzees have been taught to communicate using American Sign Language, and experiments in which African Grey Parrots (e.g. Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s Alex) have been taught to communicate in spoken English, address the ability of non-human animals to acquire and use human languages. They do not address the ability of non-human animals to develop their own languages. There is ample evidence that a number of non-human species, including dolphins, whales, various primates and birds, communicate with each other in their own complex languages, which humans have so far, for the most part, been unable to understand.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Nov 2008 @ 1:56 PM

  245. Jonathan 112: Terminology was changed by the Bush administration, on advice from Mr. Luntz, a consultant on communications.

    Based on his target audience testing, “climate warming” is perceived (felt) as more threatening than “climate change”, so the latter should be used.

    Such testing of words and phrases on selected audiences is commonplace in the political arena. A speechmaker’s usual tool of trade.

    Besides, it provides a far stronger base for the “climate has always been changing” theme we see every day.

    Here is Mr. Luntz himself (as well as Dr. Singer, by the way):

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 24 Nov 2008 @ 2:15 PM

  246. BPL #231

    There used to be a theory that Neanderthal man was nonverbal, due to an apparent lack of Broca’s and Wernicke’s area in skull casts, but I think someone may have disproved it. Does anybody know?

    The Neanderthal buried their dead, which appears to indicate the power of reflection and foresight. Of course this power could be non-verbal, but language would make it a power of a community rather than of individuals — much more useful.

    No, I don’t know ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 24 Nov 2008 @ 2:32 PM

  247. re #240

    Clouds do not cover half the planet, so point one against you. If you’re so badly off already, what chance you have anything useful to add?

    Now clouds can increase insulation and thereby increase temperatures. They can reduce insolation and thereby reduce temperatures.

    This tends to cancel out the differences.

    Then again, the clouds by themselves will be unable to change the climate outcome enough to matter in any case, unless there’s a gigantic change in the world (e.g. supervolcanoes erupting, nuclear holocaust or ELE impact).

    So, whither your point?

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 6:21 PM

  248. Ike: “A natural cycle implies predictability, and this is where ENSO diverges. Let’s look at the 20th century ENSO index:

    Nope, fallen at the first hurdle again.

    A natural cycle implies a natural production.

    Predictability? No. Unless you’re thinking about the foxes/rabbits that you did in school in your teens.

    If you want a real one, here’s two for you to investigate:

    1) Cicada eruptions.
    2) Locust swarming.

    Both vary around a nominal period (13-year for the case of one species of Cicada) but the external influences can and will change this if they happen to make a year too bad for eruption/swarm or make an early year much better for it.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 6:26 PM

  249. #241

    Can you please explain to me how you can get oceans cycles like PDO being responsible for temperature record and yet have the oceans continuing to warm? If oceans cooled then you could call heat exchange but they arent.

    “In any case my point was that MSU data are a better place to look for possible changes in the warming rate in the last 30 years, compared to the surface data set (at least the land part). Hopefully we can agree on that point.”

    You believe that analysis and interpretation of MSU data is easily than surface records? Perhaps you should look at Tamino’s analysis of differences between RSS and UAH. In any case, we are still warming.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:40 PM

  250. > cloud cover … percent

    Cite please? This may help:

    (Yes, it’s a news article; yes, they did misspell “Cretaceous” — but note the cloud cover number in it. Just saying, check for what’s possible.)

    > Cicada … locust

    Context helps in these discussions.

    “This is climatology. Argument is down the hall.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:48 PM

  251. Re I85 On denialism. A quote from a half page article in my (today’s) daily paper “…much ‘global warming’ has been ‘assisted’ by downright fraud and alarmist claims…There are scores of papers in peer-reviewed journals challenging the hypothesis that anthropegenic actions, and in particular the burning of fossil fuels, are causing dangerous levels of global warming.”

    You do get sick of reading such trash. This isn’t skepticism, its outright,falsifying,denialism.

    The author is arguing against an emissions trading scheme for New Zealand, and is keen to point out that carbon credit trading was invented by Enron. Right! It must be bad then- QED!

    Comment by Paul Harris — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:31 PM

  252. Simon Abingdon, #240. Gee, you seem to have completely forgotten my point #4–that we understand extremely well the way greenhouse gasses like CO2 warm the planet. The fact that there is no evidence of qualitative change in that mechanism when the concentration goes above 280 ppmv–that’s where anthropogenic causation becomes an inescapable consequence. Don’t like the conclusion. Fine. Come up with a climate model that explains things at least as well as the consensus view has CO2 magically stop behaving like a greenhouse gas at 280 ppmv. Simple, huh. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:01 PM

  253. Re cloud coverage:

    Stephen Warren
    Department of Atmospheric Sciences
    University of Washington

    “Surface weather observations from stations on land and ships in the ocean are used to obtain the global distribution, at 5° x5° latitude-longitude resolution, of total cloud cover and the average amounts of the different cloud types: cumulus, cumulonimbus, stratus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus, altostratus, altocumulus, cirrus, cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and fog. Diurnal and seasonal variations are derived, as well as interannual variations and multi-year trends. …

    The average cloud cover for 1982-1991 is found to be 54% for northern hemisphere land, 53% for southern hemisphere land, 66% for northern hemisphere ocean, and 70% for southern hemisphere ocean, giving a global average of 64%. The global average for daytime is 64.6% and for nighttime, 63.3%.

    The 1982-1991 data have not yet been analyzed for cloud types. …”

    Comment by Jim Eager — 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:26 PM

  254. Rasmus:

    The funny thing, however, is that the last decade of the Arctic CRUTEM 3v temperatures are closer to the corresponding estimates from NCEP re-analysis than the more complete HadCRUT 3v data.

    Indeed. In particular, look at the CRUTEM 3v grid box containing Svalbard, which has been discussed here before. There aren’t all that many fixed surface thermometers in this part of the world. The only active GISS station in this block is Svalbard Luft (the airport met station).

    My own (granted rather crude) analysis of the Luft record puts it at +4.0°C for Oct’07-Sep’08 vs 1960-90 (a trend-based estimate – the station only opened in 1977). The CRUTEM 3v plot for the same interval has it between +2.5 and +3°C; fair enough. And the NCEP re-analysis has it hotter, nearer my number. But HADCRUT 3v puts it at just +1.0 to +1.5°C; a long, long way from +4°C.

    So what gives? Is the Luft thermometer really just in a localised hot spot, correctly smoothed out with the maritime data in the HADCRUT? That seems pretty unlikely to be valid (particularly in all seasons). This is a relatively exposed coastal station in a windy part of the world. Sure, it’s just one data point, but my inclination is begin to have just a hint of doubt about the HADCRUT near-polar analysis – in the opposite direction to what the denyosphere might like!

    Maybe that is Rasmus’s (cautiously understated) point?

    [Incidentally, the pdf click-through link on the first comparison figure above is incorrect.]

    Comment by GlenFergus — 25 Nov 2008 @ 12:14 AM

  255. In world news — get ready for ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2008 @ 12:43 AM

  256. P chem, Ray, it is all explained by P chem, the effects of gases. The data collected from NASA, NOAA, Princeton AOS, Harvard, and others, explains very well how the CO2 contributes in lieu of environmental dynamics.

    Comment by jcbmack — 25 Nov 2008 @ 1:19 AM

  257. Indicators of global warming

    You note that low Arctic sea-ice extent are independent indicators of global warming.

    Following that big-picture chart – kinda reminds me of my late mum’s final days. That desperate desire that she (mother earth) will somehow return to normal, the bursts of already-broken-hope with each temporary turn for the better, all tempered by the gut-wrenching certainty that in fact she never will get well again, and the end will be very sad indeed.

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 25 Nov 2008 @ 5:09 AM

  258. Hank, #250. Yup. The piccy there looks like a lot less than 50% of the planet is covered.

    As to the cicada and locusts, watch some David Attenborough or other nature program.

    Comment by Mark — 25 Nov 2008 @ 5:43 AM

  259. #250–

    Interesting article, Hank, thanks. “Argument is down the hall.”–I presume none of us came here to be insulted, then? ;-)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 7:47 AM

  260. While all you up there continue to waste your time arguing with sceptics, I’ll concentrate my time with bringing you what’s actually happening. Case in point..University of Chicago researchers have concluded a 8 year study with 24518 data collection points ar various layers of the ocean in the temperate latitudes where most of the world’s fish stocks reside. Conclusion ocean acidification is increasing 10 times faster than previously thought (Not 10 years…..’10 TIMES’). Studies were also done on the affect of invertebrates in those latitudes….a marked decrease in large mollusks (mussels and barnacles)but an increase in number in those regions of the small shelled species and non-calciferous algae. In an earlier post I mentioned that I wasn’t sure which would die first, now it seems that because of the surface area / biomass ratio it favours the small crustations over the large ..less body mass per area of calciferous coverage…that’s actually a good thing (good for the food chain/web), not so good for your fettuccini mariana.
    What’s your take on this research?

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 25 Nov 2008 @ 9:11 AM

  261. Re 257

    Or, we could look at global sea ice extent which doesn’t display near as clear an indicator with 2008 on the plus side.

    The problem of looking at the Arctic sea ice is that is affected by more than AGW.

    Which leads back to my problem with the rotating globe. The big red spot is probably at least in part explained by something other than AGW. And what’s more, the rest of the globe looks to be pretty much a wash as to whether warming or cooling is occurring.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 25 Nov 2008 @ 10:17 AM

  262. Mark #247 You’re forgiven.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 25 Nov 2008 @ 10:38 AM

  263. Mark writes:

    Clouds do not cover half the planet, so point one against you. If you’re so badly off already, what chance you have anything useful to add?

    Actually, he’s about right on that. Estimates of mean global cloud cover range from 47.2% (Hart 1978) to 69.5% (Jin and Rossow 1994), and most early estimates clustered around 50%. I can send you a table if you’re interested.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Nov 2008 @ 10:55 AM

  264. Re: @261 (Jim Cross)

    You may have “looked” at global sea ice extent, but clearly you haven’t analyzed it. Then downward trend in global extent is just as clear as that in northern-hemisphere extent; not just statistically significant, but undeniably so. Unless of course you’re a denialist.

    Comment by tamino — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:02 AM

  265. re 262–Witty, Simon, but have you considered yet the knowledge around the well-established properties of CO2, as Ray pointed you to? Because the IPCC AR4 SPM assesses these factors as follows:

    -The combined radiative forcing due to increases in
    carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is +2.30
    [+2.07 to +2.53] W m–2, and its rate of increase
    during the industrial era is very likely to have been
    unprecedented in more than 10,000 years. The carbon dioxide radiative
    forcing increased by 20% from 1995 to 2005, the
    largest change for any decade in at least the last 200

    -Anthropogenic contributions to aerosols (primarily
    sulphate, organic carbon, black carbon, nitrate and
    dust) together produce a cooling effect, with a total
    direct radiative forcing of –0.5 [–0.9 to –0.1] W m–2
    and an indirect cloud albedo forcing of –0.7 [–1.8 to
    –0.3] W m–2. These forcings are now better understood
    than at the time of the TAR due to improved in situ,
    satellite and ground-based measurements and more
    comprehensive modelling, but remain the dominant
    uncertainty in radiative forcing. Aerosols also influence
    cloud lifetime and precipitation.

    So, “whither AGW?” Probably toward increasingly robust quantification of these latter effects. But that won’t result in a startling change of the big picture painted in AR4. Can you see that big picture?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:23 AM

  266. Mark, listen to Barton and learn from Tamino.
    “Looking” doesn’t serve. You have to check.

    That’s just as important for enthusiasts supporting action as for those saying there’s no need for action.

    It’s also a good habit because it serves as one precaution against people who pretend to be “on a side” they oppose and make claims they can’t support as a tactic.

    It’s not about you, it’s about the habit of checking every day before asserting what we learned or thought.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:48 AM

  267. Tamino – I am confused. Are you saying that the downward trend in global sea ice extent is undeniably statistically significant or that it is not statistically significant but undeniable nonetheless. Your wording is confusing.

    Comment by Bob North — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:57 AM

  268. Gap “with whom?” is today’s question:

    The NCDC updated their temp data sets.

    New and old for 2007/8 by month
    yyyy mm oldano newano
    2007 1 0.4671 0.8442
    2007 2 0.4762 0.5968
    2007 3 0.4108 0.6055
    2007 4 0.4114 0.6857
    2007 5 0.3701 0.5016
    2007 6 0.4343 0.4884
    2007 7 0.3945 0.4631
    2007 8 0.3487 0.467
    2007 9 0.3801 0.525
    2007 10 0.3411 0.4966
    2007 11 0.2532 0.4558
    2007 12 0.2519 0.4211
    2008 1 0.2481 0.1959
    2008 2 0.2929 0.3695
    2008 3 0.3100 0.7179
    2008 4 0.3273 0.4296
    2008 5 0.3555 0.4402
    2008 6 0.3944 0.4829
    2008 7 0.4261 0.5066
    2008 8 0.4268 0.4658
    2008 9 0.4205 0.4438
    2008 10 0.4522 0.6307

    The only front page note found there is:

    Downloaded Tuesday, 25-Nov-2008 11:44:01 EST

    Certainly from being separated by ~0.1C over HadCRUT3v, back in 1979, they’re now practically on top of them. Are they now in bed with each other?

    I’m wondering who feeds who with data and what these near 0.4C adjustments are in some months. Certainly screwed up my plots… did they maybe change baseline? The file did not change name and still refers to 1900-2000.

    Comment by Sekerob — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:59 AM

  269. I probably shouldn’t speak for Tamino, but “not just statistically significant, but undeniably so,” seems intended to say that the trend is emphatically statistically significant.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  270. I made a switch in the title columns of my previous post (once the public gets to see it). The last 2 should be newano(maly) oldano(maly)

    Comment by Sekerob — 25 Nov 2008 @ 1:04 PM

  271. What is the concensus correct number for the amount of sea ice, global temperature, sea level and CO2 in the atomosphere? By correct I mean what should the values be if mankind was not in the process of destroying the planet?

    Comment by john — 25 Nov 2008 @ 1:06 PM

  272. Re: #267 (Bob North)

    The downward trend in global sea ice extent is undeniably statistically significant.

    Comment by tamino — 25 Nov 2008 @ 1:42 PM

  273. Lawrence, can you cite the U. Chicago study you refer to, on ocean pH? or point to a secondary source with more info? When and where published?

    > University of Chicago researchers have concluded
    > a 8 year study with 24518 data collection points

    I didn’t turn it up with quick searches.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2008 @ 2:13 PM

  274. john (271) — Without anthropogenic influences, CO2 in the atmosphere would be less than 260 ppm and the global temperature colder than during LIA. This follows directly from orbital forcing and the paleoclimate records of the ice ages.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Nov 2008 @ 2:58 PM

  275. #264 Tamino

    I’ll take your word for it that the downtrend is statistically significant, but the real question is what does it mean? Since this is global data, it includes Arctic sea ice which is subject to variability not caused by AGW.

    My main point is that Arctic sea ice may be a leading indicator of climate change but it is not necessarily a useful proxy for AGW.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 25 Nov 2008 @ 3:10 PM

  276. #274 David
    Please provide the values for what the Co2 level would be this year without anthropogenic influences as well as the temperature and sea ice extent and sea level.
    Also, as I understand your comment, without the increases in co2, the earth would be experiencing another little ice age at this time? Is that correct?

    Comment by john — 25 Nov 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  277. Hank – The study was in this month’s PNAS. I could only read the abstract.

    PNAS article

    A summary can be found here – Science Daily

    Unfortunately, neither provide much information

    Comment by Bob North — 25 Nov 2008 @ 3:45 PM

  278. Mark wrote (25 November 2008 at 5:43 AM)

    > Hank, #250. Yup. The piccy there looks like a lot
    > less than 50% of the planet is covered.

    Mark, I suggested you read the _numbers_ in the article.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2008 @ 3:45 PM

  279. Thanks Bob.

    “… Our results indicate that pH decline is proceeding at a more rapid rate than previously predicted in some areas, and that this decline has ecological consequences for near shore benthic ecosystems.”

    Not surprising; CO2 dissolves in some areas (temperature, waves, wind) so there will be swirls of water with more CO2 and lower pH near the surface where they will impact organisms there, before the process of mixing evens out the amount even within the upper ocean, let alone throughout.

    Note the “supporting information” file is available:

    The usual helpful links at the article page are worthwhile for anyone who wants to follow this into the future as more work is done:

    # Alert me when this article is cited
    # Alert me if a correction is posted
    # Similar articles in this journal

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Nov 2008 @ 4:11 PM

  280. Ike,

    ENSO is almost as predictable as the solar cycle. When solar activity drops the ENSO also drops. As solar activity approaches
    minimum and GCRs have increased the cloud cover over western Pacific to cool the ocean sufficiently, the tradewinds weakens and the warm pool begins it’s journey accross the pacific. Soon there is enough water vapor produced and the thermostat, the clouds, kick in again and the ocean cools despite the rising solar activity. After that the ENSO remains mainly positive until solar activity drops again.
    Because of this thermostat effect the tropics will never warm much, variating around the level set by the climate shift around 1977, and we will not see the ‘real’ temperature variation over a solar cycle because there will usually be one strong El-Nino around solar minimum. The thermostat also kicks in as result of volcano cooling and those are a bit harder to predict.

    Comment by lgl — 25 Nov 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  281. john (276) — Nobody can state precisely what the CO2 concentration would be, but yes, the globe would be experiencing something rather cooler than the little ice age. The expert here is W.F. Ruddiman; visit his web site and read his (easily accessible) papers. At least one offers more details than I can provide. He has done a guest thread here on RealClimate and has a popular book, “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” that you may well find of interest.

    Sea ice? Dunno, but I would suppse that sea ice extent would be growing, not shrinking.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Nov 2008 @ 4:57 PM

  282. #280–

    The fact that the lower graph is mirror-reversed (left-right) doesn’t inspire much confidence, nor make it very easy to read.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 5:21 PM

  283. #282
    It’s mirrored (up-down) because GCR is the key, not TSI, and that is the ‘right’ way when comparing to temperature.

    Comment by lgl — 25 Nov 2008 @ 5:41 PM

  284. #280-more

    …And what are the downward-sloping lines on the top graph? Apparently not regression lines, because the ENSO indicies for 1975-1987 and 1986-1997 would surely regress to an uptrend!

    Comment by GlenFergus — 25 Nov 2008 @ 6:19 PM

  285. I heard James Hansen at the UK Environment Agency conference on Monday. He was, of course, very impressive and gave a quick but convincing tour of ancient climate history. He pointed out the gap between the science of climate change and what the political establishment knew.

    I asked the question on recent methane emissions. If I remember correctly, he referred to them as “another feedback”, which suggested to me he felt they were important but not THAT important.

    But I’m still concerned that the danger of methane feedbacks may be underestimated by “mainstream” science. George Mombiot was forthright on this yesterday:

    I did ask very relevant people about government briefings on this topic … still no sign of any.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 26 Nov 2008 @ 4:35 AM

  286. re 280: “As solar activity approaches minimum and GCRs have increased the cloud cover”

    Why has the GCR increased without being spotted? Why would GCR’s increase when solar activity approaches minimum and how much extra cloud cover would an undetectable increase in GCR create? Heck, how much cloud cover would GCR’s create per increased flux?

    Comment by Mark — 26 Nov 2008 @ 4:43 AM

  287. Hansen is talking in front of the HoC Environmental Audit Committee right now:

    Comment by Khebab — 26 Nov 2008 @ 9:40 AM

  288. You really want to encourage repetition of that GRC stuff yet again?
    And ask for it repeated where it’s off topic here?

    Why ask for those claims to be retyped again, when you can read the same claims — and the criticism — by looking them up? They have been repeated many times before. What’s lacking is the evidence. But you don’t get evidence by challenging people posting their faith.

    Consider what it is you want to encourage, and whether this is the way to do it.

    Maybe it is. But think about what you’re trying to accomplish.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2008 @ 10:00 AM

  289. I’m afraid I agree with Hank. The GCR issue has been positively fileted. There is zero evidence that GCR fluxes are increasing (modula the solar cycle, of course)–so there’s no cause. Add to that the fact that there’s really no mechanism that could turn this into the observed temperature increase, and it’s a measure of the desperation of denialists that this one still clings to life in their arsenal of stupidity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2008 @ 10:22 AM

  290. Thanks Khebab,

    Just missed him but I’m trying to make the “Watch this again” button work. But good link.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 26 Nov 2008 @ 12:20 PM

  291. Comments abound on the PRI program; this lists several and some public presentations.
    I don’t always agree with this stuff, but it’s important to keep track of:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2008 @ 7:48 PM

  292. A Scientific American article speaks directly to the question raised in this thread — why people look at pictures like the recent temperature chart and believe they can detect a pattern in them that isn’t detectable statistically.


    … The problem is that we are very poor at estimating such probabilities, so the cost of believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind is relatively low compared with the opposite. Thus, there would have been a beneficial selection for believing that most patterns are real.

    Through a series of complex formulas that include additional stimuli (wind in the trees) and prior events (past experience with predators and wind), the authors conclude that “the inability of individuals—human or otherwise—to assign causal probabilities to all sets of events that occur around them will often force them to lump causal associations with non-causal ones. From here, the evolutionary rationale for superstition is clear: natural selection will favour strategies that make many incorrect causal associations in order to establish those that are essential for survival and reproduction.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2008 @ 8:29 PM

  293. re 166 Cynic Where to live? Climatology predictions about good future locales are too dependent on political choices to give a useful range of outcomes. Buy a sailboat with a (bio)diesel auxiliary; you can join me fishing the Northwest passage in the summertime, wintering in the balmy North Carolina sounds, and sailing the Maine coast in November for the fall colors. &;>) Or going wherever & whenever adaptation to the weather drives us.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 26 Nov 2008 @ 9:36 PM

  294. Gavin et al, Hank, and Ray.
    Thanksgiving in the U.S. is a special opportunity to express our gratitude to those who positively affect our lives. Thank you Gavin and the other Real Climate scientists, for performing the inquiry to expand the understanding of climate science, and for the sacraficial commitment of time and attention which allows you to provide us with Real Climate. Thank you Hank Roberts, for tirelessly showing those of us less informed how to navigate the information the scientists generate, so we can evaluate claims for ourselves. And not least, thank you Ray Ladbury, for not suffering fools. Know that your efforts are appreciated.

    [Response: Thanks. It’s good to hear this every once in a while. – gavin]

    Comment by Rich Creager — 27 Nov 2008 @ 11:36 AM

  295. I’ll second the thanks to Gavin and the gang for their tremendous efforts maintaining RealClimate. As a blogger myself, I know how much work is involved, and it’s a lot. You guys have the best climate blog on the net; 2nd place isn’t even close.

    And I’ll also second the thanks to Ray, for not suffering fools.

    Comment by tamino — 27 Nov 2008 @ 11:53 AM

  296. Ditto 294 and 295.

    Comment by Garry S-J — 27 Nov 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  297. I too offer thanks. And heartily endorse everything said in both #295 and #296.

    Comment by ChuckG — 27 Nov 2008 @ 6:56 PM

  298. Ray (219), “…any intelligent lifeforms simply haven’t seen anything promising enough…” is why they haven’t shown themselves??? I would think that we look rather tasty! :-P

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Nov 2008 @ 7:02 PM

  299. Richard and Tamino, Thanks. I have learned a lot from this site and over at Open Mind. It is gratifying to know that I can in some way support the worthwhile efforts of such sites. Keep it up.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Nov 2008 @ 10:57 PM

  300. I think we also owe a debt of gratitude to Hank Roberts, who shows us again and again that it *is* possible to find sources, and that it’s worthwhile to do so.

    Comment by tamino — 28 Nov 2008 @ 12:03 AM

  301. Just a nit, but why is the rotating globe going backwards?

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 28 Nov 2008 @ 1:18 AM

  302. To Gavin and the rest, a big Thank You. Finding RC was like entering a haven of sanity. It cannot be easy to keep it up. It is clear that this is mostly Gavin’s baby, and it must take a lot of time. And the way research funding is structured, I don’t think he will be getting much material reward for this, either personally or in terms of research opportunities or achievement. Yet, this is a societal necessity. Know that it is appreciated.

    As to what RC has given and is giving me, the semi-anonymous commenter calling himself Lazar — apparently a true science amateur — expressed it best on Tamino’s blog:

    Climate is the most breathtakingly beautiful thing that I have seen and studied. I can’t believe people choose politics over science. What poor taste.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 28 Nov 2008 @ 2:46 AM

  303. I heartily agree with Rich and Tamino regarding the importance and dedication of the Real Climate team. It is truly appreciated.

    I’ve been following this issue for more than two decades. I used to drive my wife crazy with each issue of Science News Digest, pointing out yet another news clip on a whole host of subjects indicating that global warming was real and worse than many of us anticipated.

    But in terms of understanding the science behind climate change, I have learned more in the past two years of reading Real Climate than in the two previous decades. Thanks so much.

    And yes, the information provided by Hank, Ray, Tamino, and other contributors also is greatly valued. And the humor often included makes this a fun site to visit.

    But what does Captcha mean this evening with “careless Chrystie?”

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 28 Nov 2008 @ 3:32 AM

  304. Rod — so many functional biochemicals are possible that the chance aliens could eat us is next to zero. Their biochemistry will almost certainly be nothing like ours. The alien who eats a human deserves everything he gets, which will probably be, at least, analphylactic shock and a long hospital stay.

    All — I have put up the beginnings of a small database on gas properties on my web site (remove the hyphen):

    So far there are only 19 gases, the ones most often found in planetary atmospheres, and molecular weight and specific heat capacity are listed. I was tired of having to page through Google for half an hour just to locate one figure.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 28 Nov 2008 @ 6:36 AM

  305. Re: Geoff Beacon. Wish I had heard Jim Hansen speak, he doesn’t come to Australia that often unfortunately. Geoff any forcing is positive feedback and there are many of those loops at work now working against climate homeostasis and the more from equilibrium climate becomes more additional +ve loops just join the fray. It’s like one guy wire on a suspension bridge that breaks and that causes additional instability which stresses the remaining ropes futher until very quicky (exponentially) there is a chain reaction and the bridge is destroyed. Climate homeostasis has a quite wide stress margin built into it’s design but once we go over those tipping points(it’s like a few more of those ropes breaking)..the fragile climate may teeter there for a while ocillating wildly until there is a natural forcing event eg. a solar maximum, volcanic activity etc to push it over the edge (the point of no return)- result…end of life. The methane issue could well push homeostasis well beyond the point of no return as I see it. When the oceans begin to slow the rate of CO2 uptake at saturation point that will futher push atmospheric CO2 even higher, simultaneously the massive amounts of additional CO2 and methane and nitrous oxide etc released from the decay and oxidisation of oceanic living creatures who cannot survive in a low ph environment will future ram the nail in the coffin.
    So if Jim Hansen sounds a bit worried..he has a right to be..we all have!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 28 Nov 2008 @ 9:43 AM

  306. BPL (304), well, that’s a relief. ;-) BTW, units on your gas table would be a little helpful.

    As a member of the loyal opposition (kinda) I, too, second the appreciation for, from my limited exposure, what looks like the best climate blog. While not perfect (what is??), it maintains an excellent focus on the science and greatly minimizes the screeding (is that a word? It should be!) and hyperbole. Mostly because of the herculean efforts of the moderators and the extensive postings of the first string contributors.

    Comment by Rod B — 28 Nov 2008 @ 10:16 AM

  307. ‘Why have we failed to convince?’
    I hardly know where to start. The rotating globes are very impressive, (although as pointed out above, they might be more impressive if they rotated the right way) but the same cannot be said of the content.
    The argument is not based on one data set as you claim. If you look at the four commonly used data sets (GISS HADCRU UAH RSS) since 1998 then three of the trends are negative. If you look from 1999 or 2000 then they are positive but if you start from 2001 or 2002 they are all negative.
    Most of those who say ‘global warming stopped in 1998’ do so tongue-in-cheek, perhaps to wind up you guys, but most reasonably objective people looking at for example would think that there does appear to be a leveling off.
    And you won’t convince any skeptics by picking on one data set that doesn’t give the result you want, trying to find fault with it, feeding it into to one of your computer models for ‘re-analysis’ and magically creating a hot spot, and then plotting the results in a way to highlight the Arctic and hide most of the S Hemisphere.

    Comment by PaulM — 28 Nov 2008 @ 11:28 AM

  308. Thanks, to all the real scientists. You all are the candles in the dark.

    Thanks especially to those scientists and mathematicians who blog on your own sites in ways that help understand climate. I started listing names and found I couldn’t find an end to naming you all. I’ll try to thank you at your own sites, more often.

    Thank you, teachers. Thank you, librarians. Thank you, all the people who keep citations current, pointers correct, and search tools honest about what they show us. Thank you reference librarians, for the tools for self-education freely offered and well supported.

    Thank you Gavin and Mike and each of the other Contributors here, and the scientists you’ve invited who have participated. You have made something new in science education with this site.

    Thanks to everyone who has asked good questions.

    Thanks to those trying to go beyond the science without losing the facts, who are coming up with ideas about what to do next.

    And thank you to the dark and the silent stars, in every direction, as far as we know, for the contrast with what we have.

    Thank you, home planet.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Nov 2008 @ 12:13 PM

  309. Re: #307 (PaulM)

    Most of those who say “global warming stopped in 1998” do so tongue-in-cheek…

    No, they don’t. Either they actually believe it, or they’re trying to prey on the statistical ignorance of the general population.

    but most reasonably objective people looking at for example would think that there does appear to be a leveling off…

    Most reasonably objective people looking at their surroundings would think the earth is flat. And that it’s not rotating, rather it’s the sky that spins around us. We have a way to overcome such falsehoods; it’s called science.

    Comment by tamino — 28 Nov 2008 @ 2:47 PM

  310. Re 308 Hank Roberts and 309 tamino.
    Yes Hank, “thanks to all REAL scientists”. As a working scientist, I can say, this is what counts.
    tamino: “it’s called science”. While I don’t agree with your arguments, I agree 100% with your sentiment: science rather than emotion or faith must rule.

    Comment by PHE — 28 Nov 2008 @ 5:45 PM

  311. PHE, #310. Science must RULE when it comes to ascertaining what the world is doing. That’s its job.

    It doesn’t rule when it comes to deciding what people should do about it. But what it does mean is that if you ignore the science and decide to act against it, you are definitely 100% at fault for the results of those actions. And when the result could be the end of civilisation (note I said “civilisation” not “mankind”, we now depend on technology for our supremacy and that technology now depends on our cities, factories and power structures to happen. Things that a climate catastrophe “business as usual” scenario would destroy).

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 6:34 AM

  312. PaulM, 307. When it was before 2000, the data showed a positive trend over 50 years, 30 of those pretty obviously and consistently.

    Yet, at the time, people like you demanded that this wasn’t any proof of global warming because the statistical errors were higher than the increases and we MUST therefore wait for more data before deciding. When the statistical errors were smaller, you said “but 0 is still [just] within the range of answers. We MUST STILL wait”. Now, when the graph is going up less and there’s a short segment where it goes down (8 years, remember 2005 is warmest year, so it isn’t 11 years) but the statistical errors are bigger than the drop you posit, this is no longer a problem and you already know the answer. It’s cooling.

    Additionally, despite continuing to demand more proofs, more complex models and more explanations about what has been left out or assumed invalid in the AGW models, you do not have any model yourself that explains why it is going down. You don’t even know when it will stop going down, how much it will fall, whether the “it’s a cycle” means you will find it going up again, etc. Nothing. No model, no explanation of where this cooling comes from, nothing. But that’s OK because you KNOW it’s cooling.

    Please, give us why it is cooling, give us the errors (not just the test, because over 1900-2008 it is still warmer overall, so you can’t just give “the slope is negative” because we can point out the slope is positive). Give us the model you run to show this. Give us all the information you demanded in 1990 for the proof of AGW that proves that the world is cooling.

    Do as you demanded of others.


    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 6:44 AM

  313. Further to 304. Humans cannot eat grass. It is absolutely delicious to bacteria, though. Cows use them to digest grass.

    Now imagine an alien intelligent cow. It can eat grass but on their planet, grass walks about and has two arms, legs, a head etc. So they try to eat us.

    They are still a cow.

    Will it work?


    Only a genetic defect allows westerners to digest milk after about 18 months. Normal humans could breastfeed but stop being able to drink it after a certain age.

    Being able to chew and swallow doesn’t mean you will be able to digest, just that the organism being chewed isn’t going to survive the process.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 6:50 AM

  314. When discussing ways of reducing C02 emissions frequent reference is given to the use of “renewable energy resources”

    What exactly do people mean by this? If this means planting more trees and increasing forestation I’m all for it. If they are talking about giant windmills in all the planet’s beauty spots to line rich business people’s pockets and politicians tax coffers I am not. The manufacture of these giant steel edifices releases large quantities of C02, their transport generates still more.

    Natural renewable energy sources I’m all for. Those which simply make the problem worse I am not.

    Comment by suicidal_syd — 29 Nov 2008 @ 11:45 AM

  315. and why do we need the proof or otherwise of global warming.

    it seems pretty clear there is an upward trend. it seems equally clear that the vast majority of temperature change is not influenced by man. That is not to say that we should be unconcerned about the relatively small proportion which is.

    put simply we are extracting carbon from the atmosphere and redistributing it to the atmosphere. irrespective of climate this is not a good situation for future generations. the carbon deposits (coal, gas and oil) are finite and the deforestation of the earth has prevented large amounts of this carbon being recycled back into future carbon deposits. Trees and vegetation are the best recyclers and the lack of interest I see from politicians and governments in reforestation suggests to me that they themselves don’t believe their own propoganda.

    Comment by suicidal_syd — 29 Nov 2008 @ 11:54 AM

  316. sorry to correct my previous post:-

    and why do we need the proof or otherwise of global warming.

    it seems pretty clear there is an upward trend. it seems equally clear that the vast majority of temperature change is not influenced by man. That is not to say that we should be unconcerned about the relatively small proportion which is.

    put simply we are extracting carbon from the earth and redistributing it to the atmosphere. irrespective of climate this is not a good situation for future generations. the carbon deposits (coal, gas and oil) are finite and the deforestation of the earth has prevented large amounts of this carbon being recycled back into future carbon deposits. Trees and vegetation are the best recyclers and the lack of interest I see from politicians and governments in reforestation suggests to me that they themselves don’t believe their own propoganda.

    Comment by suicidal_syd — 29 Nov 2008 @ 11:55 AM

  317. I think that a lot of “Why have we failed to convince?” is the constant mantra of “Oh, we’ll have such hardships getting to an 80% reduction in CO2!” There are people out there working on solving the problems with the lifestyle issues (I’m working with a group of co-workers on solving power grid issues) and guess what — dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions can be had while maintaining, or even improving, quality-of-life. Once we get people over the “Oh, we’ll have such hardships!” lie, I think we’ll start to see real movement in CO2 reductions.

    There can still be questions about AGW, and I think that big ball of fire in the sky has a greater impact than many here believe, but reducing fossil fuel usage has a real potential for IMPROVING lifestyle. Distributed power generation can bring reliable power to developing nations, where today they have unreliable centralized power generation. Distributed power generation can even help in developed nations where grid imbalances create power sags, brownouts and rolling blackouts.

    I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and we’re both “green power” fanatics. When I think about how much power consumption I’ve reduced — about 80% now from 2 years ago — and the benefits from some of my CO2 reducing behaviors (not fighting with a gasoline lawnmower for the past 2 years) I count my lifestyle as “improving”. And I’ve done that with a very large reduction in CO2 emissions.

    We’re standing at the threshold of major improvements in technology that can achieve real reductions in CO2 emissions and if AGW proponents would just cut it out with the gloom and doom, acceptance of the same goals — reduction in CO2 emissions — would be more acceptable to the skeptical masses.

    (ReCaptcha says “Marie You”. No, I’m Julie. You must have the wrong person …)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:04 PM

  318. Mark, do you have a cite for “genetic defect” anywhere? I suspect you’re misunderstanding how coevolution works. Groups of people who keep cows or goats show prolonged lactose tolerance, it’s natural selection in action.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:20 PM

  319. Re suicidal_syd @314: “If they are talking about giant windmills in all the planet’s beauty spots to line rich business people’s pockets and politicians tax coffers I am not. The manufacture of these giant steel edifices releases large quantities of C02, their transport generates still more.”

    For now and until manufacturing and transport are no longer dependent on fossil fuels. But that’s the catch: right now and in the immediate future manufacture, transport and installation of non-fossil energy sources, from windmill farms to solar thermal plants to solar voltaic panels, will require the emission of fossil fuel generated CO2. No way around it, like it or not. Yet to not manufacture, transport and install a non-fossil fuel energy infrastructure would truly be suicidal.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:47 PM

  320. Hank, try googling with a few different options.

    genetic drink milk:

    Africa milk drinking:

    shouldn’t drink milk

    The back story is a problem nestle has with giving “charitable aid” in the form of baby powder which

    a) requires water which is very unsafe to drink in most of Africa
    b) isn’t right for kids (too old to digest milk)
    c) ensures that nestle write off profits against tax whilst giving “aid” as positive spin PR and also locking a market in

    Why is it you’re so lazy Hank?

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 3:47 PM

  321. PS Hank think about it. Milk is ALL a child that will only have two sets of teeth so cannot have them at birth (better fitting teeth means you can eat better but you can’t replace them so you can’t grow more teeth because they have nowhere to grow, so you need one set of teeth when you’re old to fit you for early life and throw them out and grow a second set that have more teeth to fit your adult jaw).

    But older children after weaning can have something other than mild because, like, they have teeth, man.

    So if you can share milk between older kids and the new young your later children will more likely die, reducing the possibility of replacement births. Not a good thing genetically speaking. The only other way is to have WAAAAY longer between births so that one set of children are gone before you have more. OK for short lived animals that don’t take long to breed but disasterous for the extended time needed to create an independant human. Add the extra probems of getting a brain pan big enough to hold a brain out of the woman’s birth canal (making childbirth exceptionally painful as well as dangerous for humans compared to other animals) and the greater likelihood of death in childbirth of an older woman and you have a species that won’t survive.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 3:53 PM

  322. FCH: “There can still be questions about AGW, and I think that big ball of fire in the sky has a greater impact than many here believe”

    Nope. Without that hot burny thing the earth would be at about 3K.

    Are you saying that thinking the sun responsible for over 250K of heating is belittling it?

    However you seem to be belittling the effect of GHG. Without them the earth would be at about 250K and the entire earth merely a ball of ice. Something like 30K of heating is by the natural nature of GHG. And we’ve added 50% of one of the biggest ones. Do you think that change could not result in even a measly 10% change in the heating the earth would experience at this time without our intervention? That’s 3K. And that’s about the difference between a glacial and warm interglacial. Problem is we’re in a warm period. We shouldn’t be getting ***warmer***.

    So why do you belittle the effect of GHG on the earth’s temperature? The scientists definitely don’t belittle the effect of the sun’s warming: if they did the calculations being even 10% wrong would have the earth a sweltering hotpot or ball of ice if they were, yet you seem to be unable to accept the same level of change in GHG effects…

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 4:02 PM

  323. Mark, I’m no defender of modern marketing in general nor of Nestle’s tactics.

    I’m saying what you dismiss so easily merits a cite if you have one, and if not, some study.

    We are barely changed from the environment that shaped human evolution for tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of years. What you call a “defect” just exists.

    Study how it has changed in populations and you can learn something.

    Study it to understand why it exists and you can remedy some of its side effects in this new environment.

    Call it a “defect” and you label the person carrying it, and that’s ill considered.

    Evolution isn’t directed. “Defect” is your opinion — and a pigeonhole. Few genetic traits are simple, once examined.

    A trait that has increased in a population merely says people with that — among many other traits — had more grandchildren. It says nothing else. Coevolution isn’t some fuzzy Gaia-loves-ya idea.

    Cows and people — coevolved.
    People and the species involved in malarian transmission — coevolved.

    Evolution doesn’t optimize — or make mistakes.

    People who could digest lactose longer had more grandchildren than those around them in their area at the time the trait became widespread.

    People with sickle cell disease living in the malaria belt had more grandchildren than those around them in their area at the time the trait became widespread.

    Pick anything called a “defect” and look into the population distribution and trend over time, and you’ll have a PhD subject.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 5:23 PM

  324. re 323, I gave links, Hank. The background was where I found out about the unnatural tolerance of milk westerners have.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 5:53 PM

  325. Mark,

    I’m not sure what this has to do with climate, but why is the ability of a segment of humanity to drink milk a “genetic defect” and an “unnatural tolerance of milk.”

    Even the link you did post says, “this is probably the single most advantageous gene trait in humans in the last 30,000 years.”

    This is evolution in action. And your point is?

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 29 Nov 2008 @ 8:58 PM

  326. Oooookayyyy, Mark. I agree with the criticism of marketing milk to people who can’t digest it, certainly.

    The words you’re using — “defect” and “unnatural” — are heavily loaded from politics.

    Look at the population distribution of variations in the enzyme that confers alcohol tolerance. Selection pressure again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 9:03 PM

  327. “More complex interactions occur if the fitness of a heterozygote is outside the range specified by two homozygotes. Where one allele is fitter than another in the population, and the fitness of the heterozygote falls between the fitnesses of the homozygotes, selection is directional and will lead to fixation of the fittest allele. If the heterozygote is fitter than either homozygote (overdominance), the heterozygote will be selected and both alleles will be maintained in a balanced polymorphism. An example is overdominant selection for the normal (Hba) and sickle-cell (Hbs) alleles of B-globin. These are polymorphic in some African countries because, while Hbs is deleterious in the homozygous state,it confers malarial resistance in Hba/Hbs heterozygotes, a genotype which is thus fitter than Hba homozygotes.” (Advaced Molecular Biology bpp. 212-212, quote verbatim)

    Mark and Hank you are both right, the sickle cell trait may be beneficial in lieu of selective pressures, but is is driven by mutations and the homozygous state is not beneficial and here in the US where many African Americans and some people from other races (well, in biology we do not consider race to be different, just genetic adaptations to the terrain and environment; e.g. weather, climate, sun exposure etc…) who are not likely to be exposed to malaria (though it was last time I checked it was in a positive incline of incidence and very minor prevalence on a slight concave up trend) it can be a great burden and it does not look as if punctuated equilibrium will solve this problem either.

    Codon 6 of the B-globin chain from GAG to GTG (replacing glutamic acid with valine) generates hemoglobin S with increased intermolecular adhesion in its deoxygenated state. HBS thus crystallizes at low oxygen tension, causing the formation of inflexible, sickle shaped erythrocytes that block capillary beds and damage internal organs.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:12 AM

  328. Lactose intolerance is solvable with minor genetic engineering, but that is for a different post.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:15 AM

  329. meant to say pp. 212-213. Most genetic mutations fall on short tandem repeats known as introns, which are “junk DNA,” some are within an exon coding region and can be harmful, sometimes beneficial or both depending upon the external selective pressures, and the rate of change and degree of such pressures.

    Global climate change is not identical, but perhaps to some degree is analogous. If we have some time to prepare, the combination of lowering all the discussed emissions, utilizing current technology to implement alternative energy sources, and engineering new twists on said technology to both continue lowering emissions and adapting to global climate changes as well, we may be able to guide our response sets to outside, artificial selective pressures in conjunction with natural ones; natural, internal variability and external forcings/feedbacks. Humans have developed such efficient frontal lobes due to selective pressures and they serve us well if we continue to work as a team and not a group think or as completely independent of the whole.

    Evolution is random like weather, sensitive to minor perturbations, but adaptive through adaptive emergent properties, and difficult to understand in totality, but well understood in pieces and in short periods of time, sequentially linked, sometimes haphazardly to form a somewhat cohesive story.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 3:43 AM

  330. Molecular medicine and molecular biochemistry provide the what and how these changes, especially deleterious ones may be treated, cured, suppressed, or understood in context with other gene regulatory mechanisms and transcription and translation coupled systems within the actual cellular environment. Cancer is not a good thing, most would agree, but some genes that code protective proteins against Alzheimer’s Disease increase likelihood of developing cancer, potentially rapidly metastisizing life threatening cell types; reducing gene regulating proteins may reduce cancer risk, but increase AD risk, stem cells are a promising therapeutic modality in a wide variety of disorders. yet misapplication of stem cell treatment will cause cancer, whereas proper application can ablate cancerous cells.


    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 3:53 AM

  331. Uncertainties do not mean that something is false. Keep in mind the Pauli exclusion principle and the like:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 3:57 AM

  332. syd writes:

    If they are talking about giant windmills in all the planet’s beauty spots to line rich business people’s pockets and politicians tax coffers I am not.

    Neither is anybody else.

    The manufacture of these giant steel edifices releases large quantities of C02, their transport generates still more.

    They produce orders of magnitude less CO2 than the equivalent fossil-fuel burning power plants.

    I’ve been fascinated by how, as the global warming debate went on, the deniers all suddenly began to attack windmills. If there were ever clearer evidence that they are devoted to using fossil fuels and nothing else, I can’t imagine what it would be. It’s also a good indication of how closely the corporate world controls right-wing propaganda in this country.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Nov 2008 @ 5:53 AM

  333. Hank 326. I call it a defect because being able to digest milk beyond weaninis not helpful to the survivability of the species. We have domesticated animals to enable us to use these animals’ milk production rather than their meat (which is a one-time resource except for bleeding the animal, which used to be done in times of trouble). However by us using up the milk that would go to the children of these animals we were risking the next generation of animal to replace them by drinking what they need to grow.

    This makes milk a useful resource in good times but in bad times we’re better off eating the animals that are youngest and oldest and thinning out the herd.

    And most of the world has people who do not and cannot drink milk. E.g. to the Indic people who do not drink milk (~1.5 Bn) we westerners smell of sour milk because we drink hard to digest cow milk and the waste products are expressed in our sweat. Note too that cow milk is one of the less digestible forms of milk for humans, we use them instead of goat (one of the best) because it’s easier to get a lot of milk from one cow than from several goats.

    PS why the hissy fit over “defect”? I have astigmatism but should this not be referred to as a visual defect because it’s demeaning or some other PC BS???

    Comment by Mark — 30 Nov 2008 @ 6:06 AM

  334. Jim 325 the point is that even humans can’t eat the products of other animals on our very own planet. The chances of an alien biology making a meal of the human protein system is very remote indeed.

    That would be my point.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Nov 2008 @ 6:08 AM

  335. But older children after weaning can have something other than milk because, like, they have teeth, man.

    Like, hard cheese, man, aged hard cheese, which contains very little lactose. Of course, it’s made from milk …

    Comment by dhogaza — 30 Nov 2008 @ 7:56 AM

  336. Mark,

    That’s twice now you’ve attacked my posts for no good reason and managed to get it wrong both times.

    My position on AGW is I don’t care which side is right, because whichever side is right, if we don’t get off the fossil fuel addiction we’re in big trouble.

    Let’s say AGW is a hoax. A big, fat hoax. Well, that doesn’t change the validity of ending our dependence on fossil fuels. And let’s say it isn’t a hoax — we still need to end our dependence on fossil fuels.

    I do have an opinion about AGW, and it includes why people aren’t accepting it as a theory. Part of my opinion is that very few proponents of AGW paint a rosy picture of a CO2 emissions free future. I think that a world in which we aren’t dependent on fossil fuels is one in which power is abundant, cheap, and readily available wherever we want it — and the facts are on my side on this one.

    Another part is that I do remember when “The Coming Ice Age” was a big problem, and instead of acknowledging that, a large number of AGW proponents try to brush that under the rug.

    And finally, if anyone tries to imply that the Big Ball of Fire in the sky is going to influence the near term climate, the response is “Oh, we’ve already done Galactic Cosmic Rays”. So, I just sit around and count spotless days (11 in a row most recently) and wait for the climate to do what it always does whenever the sunspot count is this low. Then, when SC25 rolls around, and the sun does (or doesn’t) return to normal, and the skeptics have used the current cycle to bolster their claims, I’ll be able to say “I told you so”. Then, perhaps, the “Oh, we’ve already done Galactic Cosmic Rays” crowd will understand that things aren’t so simple as steadily increasing CO2 levels.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 30 Nov 2008 @ 12:20 PM

  337. Mark, why do you think evolutionary traits are conserved?
    Where does “not helpful to the survivability of the species” fit in your understanding of genetics?
    What do you think drives evolution?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2008 @ 12:45 PM

  338. “Another part is that I do remember when “The Coming Ice Age” was a big problem, and instead of acknowledging that, a large number of AGW proponents try to brush that under the rug.”

    That has been discussed on this site, and it is quite clear that there was no scientific consensus whatever on “The Coming Ice Age.” Rather, the furor was largely a media creation. Here is an excerpt from a paper on the topic:

    “An enduring popular myth suggests that in the
    1970s the climate science community was
    predicting “global cooling” and an “imminent” ice
    age, an observation frequently used by those who
    would undermine what climate scientists say today
    about the prospect of global warming.
    A review of the literature suggests that, to the
    contrary, greenhouse warming even then
    dominated scientists’ thinking about the most
    important forces shaping Earth’s climate on
    human time scales.”

    The link:

    So, if that is one of your main concerns about the reality of AGW, perhaps you will reconsider. AGW proponents can’t acknowledge something that is not actually true.

    [Response: See also the relevant page on the wiki. – gavin]

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 30 Nov 2008 @ 12:54 PM

  339. Tamino #295 “thanks to Ray, for not suffering fools”

    This fool would still like an answer to the following: [edit]

    Ray #234 “clouds remain a big uncertainty for climate models. However, they can provide both positive and negative forcing” and
    Ray #252 “we understand extremely well the way greenhouse gasses [sic] like CO2 warm the planet”
    So here we go –
    Assumptions from considerations of physics:
    Unless CO2 could enlist water vapour to amplify its forcing it would simply be an unremarkable trace gas in the atmosphere, but –
    CO2 + water (vapour) = +ve feedback implying warming
    CO2 + water (liquid) = -ve feedback implying cooling
    Clouds cover half the surface of the planet. (Recent citations this thread).
    The volume of clouds in the atmosphere is therefore vast, so its properties contribute to the resultant climate very considerably.
    Clouds comprise water droplets and water vapour at the phase transition interface in chaotic combination, involving imponderable exchanges of heat energy.
    Do such considerations affect the current orthodoxy regarding the role of CO2 in establishing climate characteristics?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 30 Nov 2008 @ 1:31 PM

  340. Evolutionary traits that are favorable in light of environmental pressures which are selective. We are definitely discussing one of my specific areas of expertise so I hate to see people get evolution wrong or oversimplify it. Of course we also know that there are many milk products with little to no lactose and milk alternatives like soy milk and so forth. If I am big strong and can run 20 miles per hour after a bison and that is the environment I am in, well, it is favorable, but if the bison dies out, and smaller more clever people move into my niche and have the ability to fool and manipulate me and my skills for their purpose, I either need to adapt based upon abilities I already have or if my biology limits my intelligence too much, then either my progeny must evolve in the face of new environmental pressures or my line may die out or be simply enslaved.

    Bacteria and other microorganisms adapt to various medications over time which favors their survival, but not ours, however, our own further actions in science, technology and medicine assists us in overcoming many (but not all) resistance mechanisms. We may have evolved from viruses and our mitochondria comes from bacteria (as do plant chloroplasts) and in this case symbiosis in addition to natural selection is involved in evolutionary processes. Now, back to the poor bacteria we destroy with antibiotics, well, antibiotic abuse is the number one form of drug abuse in the world, and yet antibiotics, a mistake,, serendipitous, are considered by most the greatest advancement of human kind; before penicillin people were dying in droves from streptococcus pyogenes and other infections. Evolution is not linear, sometimes certain brain regions become smaller, while others become larger, but in homosapiens, it comes down to the relative brain size to the body size, the frontal lobe and hippocampus connections and overall mass in these two regions especially.

    Evolution is usually a slow gradual process, but Gould was onto something when he proposed punctuated equilibrium, (since his death there have been more discovered transition fossils) and I suggest you guys read all of his “doorstop,” books. I also recommend to you physicist bloggers who have not done so or who are rusty, take biophysics for physicists and other scientist, non biologists.

    Also get a good book on drifts and shifts and niches and population genetics. And to understand the energetics and the statistical aspects for real take physical chemistry.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 1:50 PM

  341. Simon #339, the past trends, the averages, the weighting of the data, better delineation of noise versus signal and using the laws of physics as a foundation while at least modeling clouds is a big step in the right direction.

    Also clouds and their affects on insulation and insolation etc, vary so, the percent of clouds or number,or vastness of clouds in and of themselves do not answer any questions, however, they do raise questions in the current “orthodoxy,” in your vernacular, but that at least we know what some of the questions are, we can design methods to ascertain answers, or at least partial answers which raise still more questions. The models do not consider the full range of feedbacks from water, (in a nutshell) and cloud formation and their exact properties…this is an ongoing area of improvement, and unfortunately the chief area of contention from denialists and contrarians alike.

    Now, clouds do not make heat exchange imponderable, especially in long term trends of climate analysis, the averages due to what we already know about dynamic equilibrium outcomes and what we observe in the feedbacks going back even greater then 30 years.

    Clouds do provide cover to approximately 50% of the Earth, this is true, and this fact raised several questions and then various lines of questioning. Bottom line questions to think about are: what affects do these clouds have on the heat budget as a whole, how do these cloud types and altitudes change in response to weather, climate, GHG’s short term and long term, what do we not know about cloud micro physics and what do we need to know, and how can we better delineate and model cloud dynamics in real time to ascertain better predictive quality.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  342. #339

    There’s an old political technique of making an accusation in a question. “Have you quit cheating on your income tax” is an example. “Do such considerations affect the current orthodoxy regarding the role of CO2 in establishing climate characteristics?” is another. Such is rather unlikely to generate productive response.

    The temperature response to a given change in CO2 is the product of the radiative forcing and the sensitivity of the climate system. The “forcing” of CO2 is well known but the sensitivity less so. There is no question that cloud feedbacks are uncertain and that modeling them is hard — I don’t think that anyone has ever seriously claimed otherwise.

    However, the best evidence we have suggests that cloud feedbacks are positive rather than negative, and if it’s negative it can’t be really big. Paleoclimatic and modeling constraints put a 2x CO2 response at 2 to 4.5 C which is still a large range (clouds have a lot to do with that) but it is very unlikely that clouds can produce such a change to force the response outside of that range. If anything, there is more of a chance of a large positive feedback than a large negative feedback.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  343. not to sound broken up and ‘incoherent,’ but Simon the dynamics between CO2 and H2O are extremely critical to global climate trends.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:06 PM

  344. #339 My penultimate sentence should have read “Clouds comprise (water) ice-crystals, droplets and vapour at the relevant phase transition interfaces in chaotic combination, involving imponderable exchanges of heat energy.”

    Comment by simon abingdon — 30 Nov 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  345. #342 Chris Colose “there is more of a chance of a large positive feedback than a large negative feedback” We don´t need a “large negative feedback” to avoid global warming, so there being more chance (like 1 in a million perhaps) of a “large positive feedback” is neither here nor there.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 30 Nov 2008 @ 3:01 PM

  346. Evolution takes us to Lynn Margulis, who takes us to Gaia, which takes us to James Lovelock, who, voila, brings us back to climate change.

    Comment by Rich Creager — 30 Nov 2008 @ 3:33 PM

  347. #339: Simon, you wrote:

    “Assumptions from considerations of physics:
    Unless CO2 could enlist water vapour to amplify its forcing it would simply be an unremarkable trace gas in the atmosphere, but -”

    From AR4 SPM:

    “The combined radiative forcing due to increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is +2.30 [+2.07 to +2.53] W m–2.” [Mostly due to the CO2.]

    Would you consider that “remarkable?” I certainly wouldn’t call it insignificant.

    (Captcha: “bit FORGOT”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 30 Nov 2008 @ 4:12 PM

  348. Re #339
    simon abingdon Says:
    30 November 2008 at 1:31 PM
    Tamino #295 “thanks to Ray, for not suffering fools”

    This fool would still like an answer to the following: [edit]

    Assumptions from considerations of physics:
    Unless CO2 could enlist water vapour to amplify its forcing it would simply be an unremarkable trace gas in the atmosphere, but –

    But for the CO2 in the atmosphere there would be substantially no water vapor in the atmosphere and it would be a damn sight colder! You need a permanent gas not a condensible vapor.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Nov 2008 @ 4:19 PM

  349. Simon, the idea that the contribution of CO2 is insignificant in the absence of feedbacks is just flat wrong. CO2 is the second largest contributor to the greenhouse effect–without which Earth is a lifeless snowball. Moreover, the same feedbacks apply, regardless of the forcing. That is, Earth doesn’t care where the extra watts come from.
    As to clouds, yes, they are uncertain. However, paleoclimate, the response of climate to transient forcings, etc. place constraints, and a significant negative forcing is unlikely. What you are doing is playing the “God of the Gaps” game–trying to hold on to your rationalizations by overemphasizing the uncertainties. Fact: The climate is warming quite rapidly. Fact: The overwhelming body of evidence indicates that it is due to CO2 and that the increase in CO2 is due to human activity. Fact: There is absolutely zero evidence that contraindicates the above.

    If you look at constraints on CO2 sensitivity–3 degrees is by far the most likely level, but the chances of it being higher than 4.5 degrees are more than those of it being below 2 degrees. If you want to talk uncertainties, fine. They aren’t on your side, though.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 Nov 2008 @ 4:20 PM

  350. Re #333

    I call it a defect because being able to digest milk beyond weaninis not helpful to the survivability of the species. We have domesticated animals to enable us to use these animals’ milk production rather than their meat (which is a one-time resource except for bleeding the animal, which used to be done in times of trouble).

    That would normally be termed an ‘adaptation’! Also you appear to not understand some of the practices of dairy farming. African pastoralists as well as drinking milk drink blood e.g. Maasai.

    “The Maasai are also famous for drinking a mixture of cattle blood and milk during ceremonial rites. An arrow is shot at close range to punture the jugular vein of the cow. The blood is drawn into a skin gourd and later mixed with milk to be drunk by the gathering. The animal is not left to bleed but is carefully tended to, till it fully heals.”

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Nov 2008 @ 4:56 PM

  351. The Maasai also practice genital mutilations as well.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 8:10 PM

  352. Weather and climate conditions affect evolutionary patterns as well, and Rich #346, absolutely right! Someone here knows the some of the recent great minds in the studies of evolution. Margulis= endo- symbiotic theory… my personal favorite writer on the subject. Gould is good and related to this discussion as well.

    Ernst Meyer wrote an intro to Margulis’s book.

    Comment by jcbmack — 30 Nov 2008 @ 8:43 PM

  353. Re Phil. Felton @348: “But for the CO2 in the atmosphere there would be substantially no water vapor in the atmosphere and it would be a damn sight colder! You need a permanent gas not a condensible vapor.”

    Excellent point, and one that will serve me well in future discussions. Thank you.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Nov 2008 @ 10:25 PM

  354. 350 if you were reading you’d see that I’d already mentioned about blood. And that goat milk is more digestible.

    But you’d rather piss about wouldn’t you.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 AM

  355. #345. How is that? A negative impact could be the reduction of the whole by 0.0000001%. Sum infinite series and you get about 0.0000002%. That’s the infinite series. Taking an infinite time to get there.

    So how does a negative feedback only have to be tiny to reverse global warming? The answer should be particularly interesting since you seem to know that the same change but as a positive feedback has a limiting effect.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:07 AM

  356. #336. FCH I’ve had good reason. That you can’t see it doesn’t change it.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:09 AM

  357. jcbmack writes:

    Evolution is random like weather, sensitive to minor perturbations, but adaptive through adaptive emergent properties, and difficult to understand in totality, but well understood in pieces and in short periods of time,

    In general I agree with what you’re saying here, but I question the use of the word “random.” Mutation is random, changes in surrounding climate, and the process of natural selection, are anything but random. Biologists debating creationists coined the phrase “natural selection is the antithesis of chance.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Dec 2008 @ 7:14 AM

  358. Furry writes:

    Another part is that I do remember when “The Coming Ice Age” was a big problem, and instead of acknowledging that, a large number of AGW proponents try to brush that under the rug.

    “Scientists in the 1970s said global cooling was coming!” is an urban legend. There was NEVER a consensus behind “global cooling” the way there was behind global warming. Check here:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Dec 2008 @ 7:28 AM

  359. Re @ 358:


    Then why do people remember it? It’s really annoying to be told that everyone who remembers it was suffering from a mass-delusion.

    And every time I’m told “Oh, we already did GCRs”, I wonder if they’ve looked at this chart.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:01 AM

  360. #359–Furry, there *was* a media hooha about it; that is what people remember. (Newsweek was the biggest pusher of the scare, I believe.) However, as BPL said (and I had said earlier, in my #338), there was not a scientific consensus on the putative cooling. Most scientists then expected warming, not cooling, and the NAS officially reported that there was insufficient evidence to make a prediction. Do take the time to check out the references that BPL or I cited (not to mention the Wiki that Gavin mentions in his inline response to #338.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:21 AM

  361. #359–Solar spots: I’ve just looked at your chart and have little idea why it is supposed to persuade me of anything, other than a much lower number of sunspots this cycle compared with last.

    Though you really don’t make it clear, context suggests that you think that the spots affect atmospheric GCR intensity, which affects temperature, presumably via the mediation of cloud formation. However, those latter steps of the process are so far not well-supported in the research, which means that the sunspot data by itself has little persuasive value–to me, anyway.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:47 AM

  362. Further to my #361:

    I could even use the data you supply to argue it the other way–that is, the two minima you compare seem quite different, yet both ’96-’97 and ’07-’08 are pretty hot periods globally, with 2007 for instance just a few hundredths of a degree warmer than ’97 in HadCRUT. Shouldn’t they be much different if there really were a strong correlation between sunspots and global temps? (By the way, there is a long history of unsuccessful attempts to correlate these two–see Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming.”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:50 AM

  363. #349 Ray, thank you again for responding to me. I can’t confute you. Science is always informed by facts and I have to accept the facts that you confidently assert. But as DR said, as well as the facts we know we know and the facts we know we don’t know (uncertainties in cloud behaviour for instance) there remain the facts we don’t know we don’t know (Mother Nature having enabled evolution to keep going for billions of years and no tipping points having extinguished the biosphere during that time). Because?

    I grew up in the steam age and as a boy was thunderstruck by the implication of E=mc^2: a limitless abundance of energy for next to nothing and an end to needing to dig dirty coal out of the ground. It didn’t happen; people stopped it. Now there’s a sudden panic and a mad headlong rush to stop using the very energy sources that enabled our modern way of life to happen. (No jetting around the world for our grandchildren then).

    I remember Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey) in the B-movie “The day the Earth caught fire”(1961) saying “They’ve altered the tilt of the Earth!”

    Can we alter the tilt of the Earth? Surely no.

    Can we alter the Climate? Yeah, sure. Just all keep/stop burning fossil fuels for warmer/cooler.

    Such hubris.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:55 AM

  364. What we cannot alter, Simon, is the laws of physics–and they clearly indicate that adding CO2 changes the climate. What constitutes hubris is not contemplating how the actions of 6-9 billion people change the environment, but rather in assuming that our actions have no consequences.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Dec 2008 @ 11:27 AM

  365. Furry Cat Herder, Might I suggest that the reason people remember the “Coming Ice Age” meme is:
    1)It got air play on the cover of Newsweek (or Newsweak as I call it) because spectacular claims sold magazines
    2)Anti-science types love to trot it out and say, “See, science was wrong.”

    However, I would also point out that
    1)Newsweek is not a refereed science journal
    2)The reason some scientists were concerned about cooling was aerosols from fossil fuel production, and these same scientists assumed a CO2 sensitivity that was too low. Rather than throwing anthropogenic causation into question, this whole incident supports the consensus view of climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Dec 2008 @ 11:34 AM

  366. “Can we alter the Climate? Yeah, sure. Just all keep/stop burning fossil fuels for warmer/cooler.

    Such hubris.”

    Simon, years ago I drove a school bus; one of the teenage boys thought it would be amusing to snap his cigarette lighter next to a girl’s ear. Unfortunately, she was wearing a flammable hairspray and the resulting fright was considerably more than either had bargained on. (Though luckily no serious damage was done.)

    The boy, simply by virtue of his age, probably was guilty of hubris–if “guilty” is the word we want to use for a common concomitant of a developmental stage. Simultaneously, he seriously underestimated the negative potential of his actions.

    So, is an adolescent humanity to assess our concern with AGW as hubris, or as a realistic attempt to assess the gravity of our ongoing actions? Surely the difference is whether or not we “do our sums”–that is, whether or not we think realistically and clearly, with reference to the best information we can unearth–or develop.

    With reference to the current climate situation, it is not problematic or controversial–much less “hubris”–to think that humanity has already altered the CO2 content of the atmosphere. (As an example, I just read the Singer et al “NIPCC report,” linked on this site, and though they question much about AGW, they don’t question this.) The question, then, is whether it is realistic to think that this well-documented change can affect planetary climate. I would suggest that to uncritically reply “no” would be irresponsible–a good deal more irresponsible than the young man on my bus all those years ago, in fact.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Dec 2008 @ 11:49 AM

  367. It’s not hubris, it’s physics.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2008 @ 12:51 PM

  368. Informative read:

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:05 PM

  369. Data analyses and model simulations have indicated that as the planet is warming, the chance for extreme events increases. Karl et al. [1995] examined precipitation records over the 20th century and showed that the high-frequency (up to interannual) variability has increased. Subsequently, Tsonis [1996] showed that the low-frequency variability has also increased. These variability trends indicate that the frequency of extremes (more drought events and more heavy precipitation events) has increased whereas the mean has remained approximately the same. Such a tendency is observed with other variables and is consistent with model projections of a warmer planet. A tendency for increased extremes is often translated as increased randomness, simply because the fluctuations increase. Strictly speaking, however, this is incorrect. An increase in the extremes affects the probability distribution of a random variable, but the variable is still random and thus is equally unpredictable. This is in agreement with the Chaitin-Kolmogorov-Solomonoff complexity definition of randomness. According to this definition, the degree of randomness of a given sequence is determined by the length of the computer program written to reproduce it. If the program involves as many steps as the length of the sequence, then the sequence is called maximally random. Random sequences generated from probability distributions are all equally maximally random because their values appear with no particular order or repetition, regardless of the form of the distribution. As such, to describe such sequences one must write a program that involves as many steps as the length of the sequence. It follows that changes in the degree of randomness cannot be assessed by changes in the probability distribution. Changes in the degree of randomness can only be probed by changes in the dynamical properties of a system with complex behavior. If the dynamics change, the system may become more (less) complex, which will imply that a longer (shorter) program will be needed to describe it.


    Severe climate changes during the last ice-age could have been caused by random chaotic variations on Earth and not governed by external periodic influences from the Sun. This has been shown in new calculations by a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University.

    Several large international projects have succeeded in drilling ice-cores from the top of the Greenland inland ice through the more than 3 km thick ice sheet. The ice is a frozen archive of the climate of the past, which has been dated back all the way to the previous interglacial Eem-period more than 120.000 years ago. The ice archive shows that the climate has experienced very severe changes during the glacial period. During the glacial period there were 26 abrupt temperature increases of about 7-10 degrees. These glacial warm periods are named Dansgaard-Oeschger events after the two scientists first observing them.

    Using mathematical models of the climate shifts he calculated the probability of the periodicity. He focused on the time intervals between the climate shifts. How regular are they really? As a baton, periodically beating, how far from the beating are the climate shifts? If the distances are perfectly periodic 100% is obtained. It turned out that the climate shifts hit the beats of the baton by 70%.

    NATURAL SELECTION—Differential survival and reproduction among members of a population or species in nature, due to variation in the possession of adaptive genetic traits. Natural selection, the major driving force of evolution, is a process leading to greater adaptation of organisms to their environment.

    Process by which some genes and gene combinations in a population of a species are reproduced more than others when the population is exposed to an environmental change or stress. process described by Darwin’s theory of evolution that favors certain genotypes and disfavors others. This process is entirely guided by the interaction of an organism with its environment. See also adaptation.
    University of Copenhagen. March 2007

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 6:03 PM

  370. Then let us not forget that although entropy (heat loss) escapes the earth system, some is trapped in increasing random motions which influences both, short interval and chaotic weather, and longer term climate and as well as other biological factors, like evolution and carrying capacity.

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 6:06 PM

  371. And finally read: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA. E-mail: drind – at-

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 6:10 PM

  372. I dunno. “ENSO a ‘safety valve’ against a runaway climate system” — that’s one I hadn’t heard before.

    But the rest of the abstract sounds like something that was being discussed over at Tamino’s just recently:

    “Here we show how observed and model data lend support to this theory. The analysis shows that temperature increases (decreases) tend to lead El Niño (La Niña). Coherency in the correlation peaks at a significant level at approximately three years (roughly the period of the ENSO “oscillation,”) and three months. The latter peak gives a possible interpretation for an El Niño trigger in that it approximates a basin-crossing time for a Kelvin wave. The analyses from SOI, Nino 3 index and GCM’s are all comparable.”

    That’s from:
    Global Temperature Fluctuations Regulate El Nino Frequency
    Authors: Tsonis, A. A.; Elsner, J. B.; Hunt, A. G.; Jagger, T. H.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2008 @ 7:06 PM

  373. For sure ENSO will help stabilize the climate system to some extent,the Earth has many response systems which keep it in balance, if it did not cooling or warming would have been devastating in our time already. As far as excact correlations in that article from harvard I would treat that with a thorough statistical analysis, but the qualitative data is well supported.

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:11 PM

  374. Of course people anthropomorphize climate and evolution which may be useful but lends false ideas to lay persons or people without much understanding of evolution, especially.

    The system does not really ;respond,’in a conscious way and random external forces will affect gene drifts and shifts and some mutations will be beneficial, others located on short tandem repeats (introns, proven by the way)will be neutral and others will be harmful, just like random, chaotic weather can affect habitats and alleles passed down to progeny which should be beneficial to the host, but it is not driven by any organized force outside the environment, not to say one cannot have faith, but it cannot be scientifically proven or disproven.

    Comment by jcbmack — 1 Dec 2008 @ 9:15 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2008 @ 11:08 PM

  376. Re #359 FurryCatHerder Says:
    1 December 2008 at 9:01 AM


    Then why do people remember it? It’s really annoying to be told that everyone who remembers it was suffering from a mass-delusion.

    Articles in newspapers referring to forthcoming Ice ages are not the same
    thing as scientific predictions.
    In the preface to his book on ‘Climatic History and the Future’ H.H. Lamb
    “Recent research……has rendered more specific the expectation that the
    beginnings of the next glaciation will be upon our descendants within 3000
    to 7000 years. It is to be noted here that there is no necessary contradiction
    between forecast expectations of (a) some renewed (or continuation of) slight
    cooling of world climate for a few decades to come, e.g., from volcanic or
    solar activity variations; (b) an abrupt warming due to the effect of increasing
    carbon dioxide, lasting some centuries until fossil fuels are exhausted and a
    while thereafter; and this followed in turn by (c) a glaciation lasting (like
    the previous ones) for many thousands of years.”
    This was written in the early 80s, at which time Prof. Lamb was Director Emeritus of the
    Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
    This represents the scientific view of the time, those garbled versions that appeared
    in the press of the time don’t change that but they are what is remembered,
    similar misrepresentation goes on to day and is a very unreliable way to
    find out what the scientific view is on any subject.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 1 Dec 2008 @ 11:11 PM

  377. FCH, A lot of people remember the death of Diana. I don’t remember there being any science papers in journals telling us of it.

    Just because you have heard of something doesn’t mean it was in science journals you know.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 AM

  378. simon abingdon, apparently thinking he’s making a very telling point, writes:

    Can we alter the tilt of the Earth? Surely no.

    Can we alter the Climate? Yeah, sure. Just all keep/stop burning fossil fuels for warmer/cooler.

    Such hubris.

    Hubris doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it. I don’t care whether AGW theory is humble or arrogant, progressive or reactionary, bold or conservative. I care whether it’s true or false. So should anyone in their right mind.

    The mere fact that you find it hard to believe proves exactly nothing. Does the evidence support it or not? Until you’ve determined that, comments about hubris are premature at best.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Dec 2008 @ 6:38 AM

  379. Re @ 376 —

    Phil, the “Global Cooling” scare didn’t start in the early 1980’s. It was in full swing no later than 1972.

    I’m not agnostic (cynical is more accurate) on the subject of AGW because I don’t understand the science. I’m agnostic because it really just doesn’t matter, the way I see the near term playing out.

    My beliefs are simple — SC24 and SC25 will give us a 20 or so year reprieve. One of the papers I was told to read up-thread agrees with that — a prolonged solar minimum will have the same effective as removing two decades of CO2 emissions. However, a 20 or so year of failing to move off fossil fuels will have the result of economic catastrophe. If we make it past SC24 and 25 without reducing CO2 emissions, when AGW takes over again in 20 years, we’re royally screwed on two fronts — AGW returning with a vengeance and serious shortages in fuel stocks to make the technological changes without dramatic reductions in lifestyle.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 2 Dec 2008 @ 8:56 AM

  380. Furry, All I can say is that you have a whole lot more faith in the science we don’t understand (climate effects of grand solar minima) than in well understood science (CO2 as a greenhouse gas). Moreover, I think you are failing to take into account that while Oil is running out, we have more than enough coal, oil shale, tar sands, etc. to continue to cook our goose. In order to come to the RIGHT solution as we develop a new energy infrastructure, we need to acknowledge the reality of the effect of fossil fuels on climate. No one is asking you to “believe,” merely to acknowledge the evidence.
    I am not as convinced as you that Mr. Sun is going to give us a break, and even if it does, I suspect people it will simply postpone human action to the point where we have no good options left. If you care at all about the future environment, now is the time to act.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Dec 2008 @ 10:07 AM

  381. ARGH.

    I hate spam filters AND Capcha.


    I have a lot of faith in economics — if those alternatives could provide energy at present costs, someone would be doing it large scale. They don’t. So, I think concerns about oil shale and tar sands are overdone.

    As for acting, I’m carbon negative and getting more so every month. I’m “acting” plenty.

    To me, AGW — assuming economic ruin and destruction by refusing to get off carbon-based fuels — is a done deal. But as I’ve said before, I think we’d have to bankrupt the planet to keep at the present rate of carbon-based fuels consumption. I’d rather focus my message on the financial ruin that will happen in people’s lifetimes, than the environmental ruin that will happen in their grandchildren’s lifetime.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 2 Dec 2008 @ 1:23 PM

  382. Interesting recent reads on both climate change on those on the economics:
    I should note that the economists are still fighting this one out, I know this because of my subsciption to the Economist, Harper’s, NY Times, watching PBS and my talks with an economist professor of mine, and other sources.

    Interesting recent reads on both climate change on those on the economics:

    Oh and also, long term fossil fuel reductions and the investments in alternative energy sources will be very economically rewarding, I know this because I calculated it myself… I will post this up later this month.

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Dec 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  383. “AGW theory” according to who, tom? Arrhenius?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2008 @ 3:41 PM

  384. Tom proxy data can be very shaky, but in recent times, the last few hundred years the accuracy is very reliable, (even a thousand or more can reveal reasonable approximations, but we do not know the exact sensitivity) with the last few decades from multi ensembles being the most reliable. I cut and pasted one article and left the links for the others:

    Abstracts of presentations at the RESMoNA meeting in Oslo 14th-15th May 2003

    1. Multi-model ensembles of climate scenarios: an overview,
    by R.E. Benestad, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway.
    Comparisons of climatic trends from GCMs and historical station series show that one
    GCM integration cannot give a reliable reproduction of the past climatic change on
    time scales of several decades (Benestad 2001, 2002, 2003). A multi-model ensemble
    consisting of GCM integrations following the ICC IS92a scenarios (including
    sulphate forcing), however, described an evolution that tends to span the past
    observed temperatures. In order to carry out the evaluation against the observations,
    the GCM results have been downscaled empirically, using common EOFs as a
    reference frame. The common EOF method extracts identical spatial pattern in the
    model results and the observations, and utilizes time series of weights describing their
    evolution in time. Thus, the common EOFs also involve a type of model evaluation.
    Empirical downscaling is fast an inexpensive, and therefore suitable for comparing
    long time series derived from many GCMs. Although the downscaling is done for
    individual stations, the results from several stations can be combined through spatial
    interpolation to produce spatial maps. The spatial interpolation can be further
    elaborated by taking into account geographical parameters such as distance from the
    coast, altitude, latitude and longitude if the values are sensitive to these parameters.
    The residuals from a multiple regression are used as input for spatial interpolation
    schemes such as Kriging. The mapping of the downscaled results can be done for
    multi-model ensemble mean temperature trends as well as probabilities of exceeding
    certain threshold values. Although all downscaled temperature trends project a future
    warming, scenarios for precipitation are more ambiguous. So far, the precipitation
    scenarios have only been derived from SLP-fields, and do not take into account
    increases in humidity. Different GCMs yield trends ranging from drier to wetter
    future for a given location.
    R.E. Benestad (2001), The cause of warming over Norway in the ECHAM4/OPYC3
    GHG integration, Int. J. Clim. 15 March Vol 21 371-387.
    R.E. Benestad (2002), Empirically downscaled multi-model ensemble temperature
    and precipitation scenarios for Norway, Journal of Climate Vol 51, No. 21, 3008-
    R.E. Benestad (2003) What can present climate models tell us about climate change?
    Climatic Change in press.
    2. Investigations of differences in the scenarioes from MPI
    and the Hadley centre for Norwegian regions
    Viel Ødegaard and Jan Erik Haugen, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo,
    Dynamical downscaling of the climate simulations from the MPI ECHAM4 model
    and the Hadley Centre AM3 run on a subarea covering Northern Europe and the
    North Atlantic shows differences both in the simulations of present climate and future
    climate. The results of the downscaling are analyzed on a monthly basis for five
    regions in the Norwegian land area with the scope of presenting a common analysis of
    the data. The regions are defined on the basis of model climate, which shows large
    variation over Norway, from inland to coast and from north to south.
    The simulations of future climate from the two runs are valid for different time
    periods. In order to compare the results it has been suggested to scale in time with the
    global temperature tendency as a scaling factor. The tendencies of temperature are
    positive in all regions and all months, but highest in the winter and in the most
    northern regions. The tendencies in wind force and precipitation rate are close to zero
    and negative in some regions and some months. It was chosen to use the local
    monthly temperature tendency as a scaling factor for the temperature from the runs
    forced with the Hadley Centre data, while precipitation rate and wind force are kept
    Negative tendencies in wind force and precipitation rate are seen in the Hadley runs in
    August and September in the southern coastal region and in January in the northern
    coastal region. This is due to different mslp-patterns in the simulations in the two
    scenarios in the autumn. The density of monthly means is not a normal distribution,
    neither from the separate datasets nor from the combined dataset. The present and the
    future climate are therefore presented in terms of median and quantiles. For all
    regions an increase in temperature is predicted, and the inter quantile range is larger in
    the winter. The latter is also the case for precipitation and 10m wind speed.
    3. Snow Cover Changes Over Northern Eurasia

    Raino Heino, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
    The snow extent over Northern Eurasia influences the air temperature through the
    positive albedo feedback, which has been demonstrated by many diagnostic and
    modeling studies. According to the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on
    Climate Change satellite data show that there are very likely to have been decreases of
    about 10% in the extent of snow cover since the late 1960s.
    An INTAS-funded research project has been initiated to study the possible trends in
    snow cover during the last century over Northern Eurasia and the relation between
    snow cover variability and variations in atmospheric circulation patterns. A qualitychecked
    database of snow-related parameters is being established covering the
    northern part of the Eurasian continent for further use by the scientific community.
    4. Natural climate variability of the Arctic atmosphere, the
    impact of Greenland and PBL stability changes
    K. Dethloff *, A. Rinke *, W. Dorn *, D. Handorf *, J. H. Christensen **
    * AWI Potsdam, ** DMI Copenhagen
    Unforced and forced long-term model integrations from 500 to 1000 years with global
    coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea-ice models have been analysed in order to find out
    whether the different models are able to simulate the North Atlantic Oscillation
    (NAO) similar to the real atmosphere. A regional atmospheric model have been
    applied for simulations of the Arctic climate. The regional dimension of Arctic winter
    climate changes in consequence of regime changes of the North Atlantic Oscillation
    have been analysed. The regional model has been forced with boundary data of
    positive and negative NAO phases from NCEP data and from a ECHAM4 control
    simulation as well as from a time dependent greenhouse gas and aerosol scenario
    simulation. Global changes of the atmospheric composition and natural circulation
    changes are in competition to each other in determining the Arctic surface climate.
    In sensitivity experiments the influence of removed orography of Greenland on the
    Arctic flow patterns and cyclone tracks during winter have been determined using a
    global coupled model and a dynamical downscaling with the regional atmospheric
    model HIRHAM. In simulations with the orography of Greenland removed, the
    Icelandic low became deeper and shifted north-eastwards compared to the control
    simulation. The strength of the Siberian high decreased and the storm tracks, usually
    entering the central Arctic shifted towards Eurasia. One major storm track stretching
    from the south along the western coast of Greenland into the Baffin Bay disappeared
    and a tendency to stronger zonality occurred in the simulations with removed
    Greenland orography.
    The influence of additional vertical layers in the planetary boundary layer below 1000
    meters on the Arctic climate has been investigated. A decoupling of the surface
    climate from that of the free troposphere occurs connected with changes in the
    surface climate and the vertical stability.
    By Ralf Döscher and H.E.Markus Meier
    SMHI/Rossby Centre, SE-60176 Norrköping, Sweden
    Six regional coupled 30 year time slice simulations with the Rossby Centre
    Atmosphere Ocean model for a European domain have been carried out: two control
    runs based on the HadAm3 (HC) and ECHAM4/OPYC (MPI) GCM’s, followed by
    two A2 scenarios (2071-2100) and two B2 scenarios. Sea surface salinity (SSS) of
    the HC control run matches observations, but is much too low for the MPI control
    case (1.2 psu). This is related to an overestimation of freshwater supply caused by a
    positive precipitation anomaly over Northern Europe, indicating a deficiency of the
    MPI cases. The Runoff is even more increased for the scenarios. The vertical structure
    shows frequent renewal even at the bottom for HC control and scenarios whereas the
    MPI based runs all show a catastrophic freshening due to strong freshwater supply,
    efficiently blocking deep water renewal. Even after 30 years of integration, no
    equilibrium for the deep salinity is reached. The extra runoff in the MPI cases is
    related to a northward shift of cyclone activity. The SST and sea ice extent of the
    Baltic Sea is well reproduced in both control runs (1961-1990). The scenarios show a
    warming of 1.9 – 3.8 K. Sea ice extent is distinctly reduced in the scenarios.
    6. PRUDENCE Simulations of European Climate Change
    Ole Bøssing Christensen
    Climate Res.Div./Danish Climate Center
    Danish Meteorological Institute
    The EU project PRUDENCE aims at investigating sources of uncertainty in
    climate projections through an exploration of various combinations of global
    and regional models and of emission scenario and resolution. We now have
    results for 6 different regional models run with identical boundary
    conditions for two 30-year periods covering a control period 1961-90 and a
    scenario period 2071-2100 according to the SRES scenario A2 as simulated
    with global models from the Hadley Centre.
    Seasonal mean temperature and precipitation from these models will be compared
    and validated here. Generally, several model biases are shared among the
    models. The largest inter-model spread occurs in summer; this is expected, as
    the model physics plays a larger role in this season.
    7. An ensemble CMIP2 runs with the Bergen Climate Model
    by Sigbjørn Grønås, Geophysical Department, University in Bergen & Asgeir
    Sorteberg, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway.
    An ensemble CMIP2 integrations – runs for 80 years with CO2 increasing 1 % per
    year; doubling of CO2 is obtained after 70 year; the results from the last 20 years are
    compared with a control run – is presently being run with the Bergen Climate Model
    (BCM). So far four members are completed, and the preliminary results from these
    will be given. The resolution of the atmospheric part is T63, linear grid, which means
    that linear terms and topography are resolved in T63, while non-linear terms and
    “physics” are computed in T42. The ocean grid has a similar resolution, but it is
    somewhat focused towards the tropics.
    As normal for such runs, the initial states are taken from a control run, which in our
    case has been for 300 years with the same resolution (constant CO2 and constant solar
    forcing). In this run the meridional overturning circulation in the North-Atlantic
    varied on a multidecadal timescale. The strategy for picking initial states has been to
    select states in different phases of these variations. Further, the comparison of the
    results from the last 20 years of the 80 years integrations has been against results for
    the same period – after the initial state – in the control run.
    Results for temperature and precipitation over Europe are presented. The “normal”
    decrease in precipitation in south and increase in precipitation in north is evident.
    However, there are significant differences between the different runs. In particular, it
    is interesting to note that one case shows precipitation patterns over Scandinavia that
    are similar to those in a future scenario from the Hadley Centre used by RegClim for
    dynamical downscaling, while other cases are more in accordance with the scenario
    from MPI also used by RegClim. This indicates that both the downscaled scenarios in
    RegClim might be interpreted as equal members of an ensemble of possible future
    climate states.
    All four members show an increased NAO-index for double CO2 conditions. The
    change is both a result from a deeper Icelandic Low and small displacements of the
    low towards northeast. The overturning circulation in the Atlantic is decreasing in all
    runs, but only slightly (about 2 Sv). More runs will be made, and the results will be
    analysed according to the starting phase in the overturning circulation. for those who like differential equations and can handle a 1,000 year span or so based study.

    Also keep in mind that as the grid amounts and sizes are manipulated different aspects of data will better resolved while others will be more difficult to measure, hence why larger grid box diagrams, larger and smaller boxes, randomization, and the consdieration of other source data are all very important. (informative, but also entertaining, good overview)

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Dec 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  385. “To me, AGW — assuming economic ruin and destruction by refusing to get off carbon-based fuels — is a done deal. But as I’ve said before, I think we’d have to bankrupt the planet to keep at the present rate of carbon-based fuels consumption. I’d rather focus my message on the financial ruin that will happen in people’s lifetimes, than the environmental ruin that will happen in their grandchildren’s lifetime.”

    So (should not begin or end a sentence with a preposition, oh well) you are someone who prioritizes the here and now more than the future… some might call you a prioritarian from the point of the view the present is almost certainly poorer (and thus more important) than the future economy, (provided it does not completely bubble and burst)some economists are utilitarians and consider the present and future consequences equally important.

    Our children and grandchildren are certainly a consideration and this blind faith in economists when two experts cannot even agree on the value of Rossevelt’s arbitrary changing of the value of the US dollar to increase the value of gold during the 1930’s. (1933 on)

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Dec 2008 @ 4:22 PM

  386. FCH, can you say more about your “economic message?” I’d love to have more info on fossil fuel costs, why you are so sure that alternate energy will be such an economic success, etc.

    I hope I don’t sound skeptical. I find the warnings of economic doom and gloom one hears from the (predominantly AGW-contrarian) naysayers rather overblown and unbalanced; yet I have to admit that I really am not very well-informed either way.

    (Captcha has one of those vaguely portentious comments: “coal Corbin.”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Dec 2008 @ 5:16 PM

  387. Indeed, Corbin, KY, is a railroad hub in the middle of Kentucky’s coal producing region.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Dec 2008 @ 9:02 PM

  388. I also want to add that it is expensive in the short term to provide these alternative energy sources. I know the issues with the windmill placements for example and that as the dollar value goes down, and oil is cheap we face real economic strains upon the transition. Mid term the value of currency will begin to be on the incline and the loss to profit ratio will begin to stabilize as will investor confidence and green market share if you will indulge the term, however, these actions must be ever so carefully carried out and exercised with extreme caution. Long term returns will be tremendous, and the planet would greatly benefit, but not in a linear fashion, (lag phase, build up of ghg and certain variables)and the science would keep analyzing so the mathematicians and engineers can create the needed tools for improvement and more sophisticated models.

    It is not a cheap thing, saving this planet, but I believe it is worth it and I know economically possible. We have to cap free trade, watch the free markets and tighten our belts, but this does not mean the loss of millions of jobs if carried out carefully, the plan to do this effectively does exist, and it is in gradations not all at once.

    The contrarians are not wrong about economic issues, and some green people are too enthusiastic about spending money, but there are ways of we do not allow greed (ode to engles and Marx, ironically) and commerce cloud or judgement…we all have to eat, I get paid very well to teach, the business man is rich who is a CEO or high end executive in an oil company, but when you discuss all life and the fate of the planet, here are issues we must face realistically and with great courage.

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Dec 2008 @ 9:33 PM

  389. Kevin #386

    Read the economist and watch the PBS and NBC specials regarding the costs, I also left a few sites for further reading… know you were asking FCH, but I figured I would add to the conversation.

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Dec 2008 @ 9:44 PM

  390. #389–

    Appreciated, jcb!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Dec 2008 @ 10:08 PM

  391. To jcbmack and Kevin —

    I like the term “prioritarian”. Yes, I prioritize near term because the state of the economy between now and twenty years from now will determine the state of the economy from twenty years until whenever.

    Why do I have faith in economics when economists can’t agree with each other? Because the free market works and that business people are basically greedy. Because if coal to liquids was profitable at the present price of oil, we’d be seeing someone open a coal to liquids plant and making a profit based on the difference. We don’t, QED, it isn’t.

    But I also have faith in the economics because I see a lot of obstructive behavior happening in the field of renewable energy. If renewables were just a crack-pot, no-threat-to-big-energy situation, my electric company wouldn’t be doing their best to get free electricity from me — 3MWH is a lot of electricity and they want it from me and I ain’t giving it away. Fortunately, the cutting edge of the state of renewable energy is learning how to tell the utilities to drop dead the same as early cell phone users dumped their land lines. There are a lot of creative behaviors going on in the area of demand-response and the utilities will have to start playing ball.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 3 Dec 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  392. FCH, I have faith in markets to allocate resources if prices reflect the full cost of goods and services. I do not have full faith in markets to ensure that all costs are passed on to the consumer. Otherwise, I don’t think I could buy durian more cheaply than locally grown apples. Markets have traditionally done a poor job at reflecting costs like environmental damage. I suspect they will do an even poorer job when that damage affects the next generation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:56 PM

  393. E.g. The Market didn’t correct Enron.

    It didn’t correct the dot-com era.

    It didn’t correct the housing crisis.

    Oracle says: others BLAMED

    Comment by Mark — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:11 PM

  394. Adam Smith was not a fool, but his free market theories went too far.

    Comment by jcbmack — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:56 PM

  395. Ray,

    There’s a major difference now with renewables — fossil fuels are a dwindling resource with escalating costs, renewable energy is an evolving technology with declining costs. If any kind of CO2 reduction scheme is embraced in the States, fossil fuel based energy costs are only going to go up, and renewable energy costs are only going to go down.

    For areas with commercial quality wind — Class III or better — wind is just dirt cheap. Solar is becoming competitive, with advances coming all the time. The only way these sources won’t be adopted is if the utilities are allowed to interfere.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:58 PM

  396. Wind needs to be carefully implemented, otherwise the “planning,””transport,” and widespread implementation will be far too expensive. I was reading today’s Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and the amount of money GM,Chrysler, and Ford are asking for while flying to the senate meeting in private jets is astounding. Also, the utility and oil companies are and will interfere with progress that hurts their bottom line; economics has a place to be sure, but just old fashioned greed hinders progress…still, there are hard working people who support families and citizens who do cannot afford any upgrades or changes, the building of the wind infrastructure is already past a billion dollars and has not brought the efficiency we need to even talk of transitions, and with the 7-10 billion dollars car makers are requesting in addition to 20-75 billion for the current production lines to be maintained (and to stop the big three from filing chapter 11) and the regular gas powered vehicles to continue in the mainstay, it is not likely the government will have the money (or credit?) to seriously fund and thus impact wind and voltaic cell energy sources.

    I see that Pickens has run into trouble and right now oil is dirt cheap (let us see how long that lasts) but now that we are officially in recession (two consecutive quarters down) and the oil and gas companies boast record profits and the oil, natural gas, and coal resources will all last longer than 25 years by most projections (coal about a hundred years give or take a decade?) and they can afford to so drastically lower their prices, we have yet to see these alternative energy sources become economically, politically and culturally viable.

    Comment by jcbmack — 3 Dec 2008 @ 9:59 PM

  397. ind needs to be carefully implemented, otherwise the “planning,””transport,” and widespread implementation will be far too expensive. I was reading today’s Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and the amount of money GM,Chrysler, and Ford are asking for while flying to the senate meeting in private jets is astounding. Also, the utility and oil companies are and will interfere with progress that hurts their bottom line; economics has a place to be sure, but just old fashioned greed hinders progress…still, there are hard working people who support families and citizens who do cannot afford any upgrades or changes, the building of the wind infrastructure is already past a billion dollars and has not brought the efficiency we need to even talk of transitions, and with the 7-10 billion dollars car makers are requesting in addition to 20-75 billion for the current production lines to be maintained (and to stop the big three from filing chapter 11) and the regular gas powered vehicles to continue in the mainstay, it is not likely the government will have the money (or credit?) to seriously fund and thus impact wind and voltaic cell energy sources.

    I see that mr. Boone, has run into trouble and right now oil is dirt cheap (let us see how long that lasts) but now that we are officially in recession (two consecutive quarters down) and the oil and gas companies boast record profits and the oil, natural gas, and coal resources will all last longer than 25 years by most projections (coal about a hundred years give or take a decade?) and they can afford to so drastically lower their prices, we have yet to see these alternative energy sources become economically, politically and culturally viable.

    The stocks are down considerably in most “alternative,” sourcing and supply companies, businesses are hurting, and the the government is torn between several economic paradigms, as Afghanistan becomes a primary target again, but Pakista and Africa are harboring both terrorists and pirates, along with natural resources that industry is still in love with.

    Comment by jcbmack — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:04 PM

  398. The market did, can and will make those corrections. However, nobody claims that some market corrections don’t come with pain (sometimes a lot of it; every now and then, lethal). Sometimes a litttle judicious help to the market will alleviate some of the pain.

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:16 PM

  399. Help for the market may be needed but this deviates from unrestrained free market ideology and unregulated exports certainly hurt us, matter of fact the lowered value of the US dollar encouraged more exports and less imports, especially when dealing with China, but the amount of government money needed makes this free market experiment, in light of natural disasters as well seriously flawed, so of course in some ways beneficial.

    Comment by jcbmack — 4 Dec 2008 @ 12:12 AM

  400. JCBMack,

    The problem T. Boone Pickens is encountering has to do with transmission congestion and environmentalist AND anti-environmentalist opposition to the construction of new transmission capacity between West Texas and the markets in the eastern half of the state.

    The amount of capacity Pickens wants to add is greater than any of the existing 345KV transmission lines, and certainly more (d’oh) than the amount of spare transmission capacity in those lines. Right now (as in at this exact moment in time) 6% of Texas electricity is produced by known wind capacity. Pickens’ plan would increase that to 20%, as I understand his plan.

    The City of Austin (where I live) electric utility is currently over-subscribed for their “green” power program. Their plan is building out solar capacity and they are actively promoting it. Green Mountain, which is a wind power producer here in Texas, has had supply limitations against robust demand.

    That’s the present reality — it’s not speculation or long-winded diatribes about credit or wars in distant lands.

    Funny story — I’m involved in litigation at the moment and one question I had to answer was my average monthly electric bill on a financial statement. When I filled out the form my lawyer’s legal assistant called because she thought I’d made a mistake — my electric bill couldn’t possibly be as low as I wrote. Well, it is and I didn’t go broke or need a government bailout to get there.

    (Captcha sez: “Forum touch-down”.)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 4 Dec 2008 @ 8:02 AM

  401. FCH, Yes, I am aware of the cost curves. However, in my day job, I also encounter the tendency to go with the “lowest bidder”. Right now, we are at a crossroads wrt energy. We need to find alternatives to the resources that are in decline (e.g. petroleum and to a lesser extent natural gas). This will involve a huge expenditure on new infrastructure, and that infrastructure will tie us to whatever solution we choose. On paper in the near term, coal may well be the lowest bidder. There are also entrenched interests who have a lot to gain from increased reliance on coal. Less so, renewables, since they are more conducive to distributed, small-scale generation. On a global scale, we have greatly increased energy demand from developing countries. In general, even relatively simple renewables technology is difficult to implement in some of these places (and yes, I do know this from first hand experience. I built solar thermosiphon water heaters in West Africa.). If we adopt renewables, we can help ease the developing world into a renewable future as well (and profit from it). If we go with coal, so will they. We need to ensure that the “bid” includes all the costs, and not just those on the short horizon. Our decision will be binding for at least 50 years.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 8:54 AM

  402. FCH is a combination of domestic and foreign trade issues in addition to resistance from the current industries, though you make a point in remarking on Picken’s ambitious plans, that is only a small aspect of the national issues which span globally.

    Comment by jcbmack — 4 Dec 2008 @ 5:33 PM

  403. Emails I just received regarding economic issues:

    Dear Reader,

    This week we look at the disastrous impact of the credit crisis on savings. They shrivelled as a result of asset-price falls, and fear means people are taking their money out of equities and corporate bonds and putting it in cash and government bonds. That is bad for both business, which will find it harder to raise capital, and individuals, who will reap lower returns over the long run. And in our Asia edition, our cover story examines the king’s role in the current chaos in Thailand.

    Here are some other pieces from this week’s issue you might also be interested in. You can click straight through to each one and read it online at using the links below.

    John Micklethwait
    Editor in Chief

    Subscribe now

    See the Reality behind “clean coal.”

    Dear Jacob,

    It’s everywhere — advertising from companies claiming that coal is clean. The stark reality is that there is literally no such thing as clean coal electricity in the United States today — not one American home today is powered by a coal-burning plant that captures and stores its carbon pollution. And coal plants are responsible for a full third of America’s carbon dioxide pollution — the chief cause of global warming.

    As Barack Obama and Congress begin to chart a new course on energy, we feel it’s crucial to help shatter the false illusion the coal industry is promoting. Let’s be clear: until U.S. coal power plants capture and store their carbon dioxide emissions, they cannot be considered “clean.” And right now, none of them do. So today, in partnership with several prominent environmental organizations, the Alliance for Climate Protection is launching a major campaign we’re calling, quite simply, Reality.

    To see the great ad the Reality Coalition is launching today and to help out, just go to:

    Comment by jcbmack — 4 Dec 2008 @ 6:16 PM

  404. Dear All

    The question of the noise content of the temperature record is an interesting one.

    One man’s noise could be anothers signal.

    Actually not. Noise is noise.

    There will be noise in the record if only from the errors in its determination.

    There will be noise in the climate itself but how much is a matter of opinion but also a matter of attribution.

    A decent theory will allow signals to be identified and a proportion of the variance attributed to a particular temperature function or effect.

    The most obvious and the one for which there is both good evidence and a strong theory is the WM-GHG signal.

    Now this can be calculated, modelled, or otherwise estimated and a signal can be subtracted from the record and the remaining variance decreases. Is this residue just noise. Probably not.

    We may not be able predict the future course of ENSO but we can put a measure to it. The measures are based on regional data and given a suitable model we can identify a corresponding signal in the global temperature record. Provided we can convince ourselves that the current ENSO Indices are independent from our existing signals or in this case just the WM-GHG signal we can remove this signal from the record. Obviously the confidence with which we can do this is dependent on the quality of the model we use to turn and ENSO Index into a global temperature signal but progress can be made.

    The inability to predict the exact course of ENSO is not an issue in attempts to remove the variance that can be attributed to it from the temperature record.

    A similar case can be made for volcanoes, we have an index, (the tau values), so given our best model we can identify a signal in the temperature record and remove it. The case for volcanoes is quite clear unless one believes that there is a causal link in either direction between volcanoes and WM-GHG concentrations or the ENSO.

    Repeat for a solar index of your choice and the original record is much cleaner e.g. has a lot less variance.

    What you are left with may or may not be noise. It is a matter of opinion. Those that believe that there are real decadal and multi-decadal signals would say that further attributions could be made.

    Certainly deriving a global signal from a PDO index or simply fitting a ~60year sinusoidal oscillation to the data would remove a worthwhile proportion of the remaining variance. The snag is that a PDO index may not be separable from the other signals that have already been subtracted. In fact given that it requires data from a significant proportion of the earth surface it might be a surprise if it was independent of the other signals. That said, its removal is very tempting and I suspect that many people are beavering away trying establish whether it is an independent effect or not.

    If one does remove all of the above signals the temperature record is not particularly noisy. Maybe around +/- .1C (instantaneous) or less if you are looking at RMS values. Also it may not be very persistent, (not very red in colour). If all the above is the case then small unattributed variations lasting a decade or only a few years would be of interest.

    Now I think that it is quite plausible that the temperature record is having a bit of a lazy period. If it has then that is of interest. If the next decade is not around .2C warmer than the current decade, that will be of interest. If there is a continuing ~60year cycle it might even be quite likely.

    Now here is an important point. ENSO is cyclic and if it is independent of WM-GHG concentrations it makes no net contribution to the general rise in temperatures, the same is true any multi-decadal oscillations. The clue is that it is an oscillation not a trend. Providing volcanoes continue to erupt in much the same way that they have, they will have a net effect but will not effect the long term trend.

    Something that would alter our estimation of the long term trend is of we have incorrectly attribute some proportion of the temperature variation to the long term trend. If we experience a decade without increasing temperatures that will not make the long term trend go away but it might require some reconsideration of the slope of the long term trend.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:25 AM

  405. Ray,

    I’m well aware of limitations to deploying new technologies, and particularly of the problems of deploying such technologies in parts of Africa.

    In the case of electricity, a functioning electric grid requires a functioning electric grid — see the problem of black starting an electric system. This is a major advantage of distributed generation — all that’s required is a frequency source and distributed generators will synchronize to it. This is the opposite of the scheme used in the States where base load generation relies on Physics and frequency regulation generators — which are usually far less efficient — to maintaining stable voltage and frequency. Moving from centralized to distributed generation can provide savings that aren’t possible with large base load generators and gigawatt transmission schemes.

    So, in the case of remote or undeveloped parts of the world, distributed generation is the only practical approach to reliable power. One colleague of mine lives in the Caribbean, where much of the power is from diesel generators. They have both unreliable and expensive power.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:26 AM

  406. Re: #404 (Alexander Harvey)

    You might be interested in this post.

    Comment by tamino — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:29 AM

  407. tamino,

    Yes, I am interested in your discussion in that post.

    For what it is worth, I have used similar data but included the Lean insolation data. I may be more bullish than you are but I am aware of the dangers of multiple regression but it does represent a reasonability test, in my opinion.

    In my case I did use a simplified model, a two level ocean, ~30 metres of WML above a diffusive ocean .000013 m^2/sec (I think I have remembered the correct number of noughts). Which happens to give respectable values for ocean heat anomalies for last few decades when forced by ocean temperatures. I did not use a time lag as, I suspect the model earth I used did this for me (additional lags/leads did not improve the fit).

    The big question was “Can PDO data be regarded as a legitimate forcing”? I do not know but it was very tempting but there is a big risk that it is an alias for the temperature record.

    [Response: The answer is actually quite simple: No. The “PDO” cannot possibly be defined as a ‘forcing’ of climate. It is a diagnostic of the climate itself, and likely includes both internal and forced contributions to its variability. – mike]

    One think that I wished to get across but may have failed is that whatever happens in the next decade would only give different emphasis to the different vectors. It will not make the long term trend go away.

    I say this because I think that there is a real risk that temperatures will diverge from the long term trend in the next ten years. Not from noise but from cyclic trends. The key is the cyclic bit. If there is a long term cycle it will make the next ten or so years below trend but then catch up in the next thirty or so years.

    My only argument with others is that would not be due to noise but to a signal that is not yet fully understood and whose variance is yet to be fully attributed.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 5 Dec 2008 @ 1:44 PM

    Climate Change From Poland To The Poles

    Audio for this story will be available at approx. 6:00 p.m. ET

    Talk of the Nation, December 5, 2008 · Representative from nearly 200 countries are gathered in Poland for the U.N. conference on climate change. Elliot Diringer, of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, shares the latest from the meeting. Also: researchers see new changes at the poles — from slippery ice sheets to mysterious gasses.


    Elliot Diringer, vice president for international strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Arlington, Va.

    Robin Bell, director, ADVANCE Program at the Earth Institute, PGI senior research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.

    Torben Christensen, professor, GeoBiosphere Science Centre, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  409. tamino and all,

    By the way, I refered to a model with a diffusive ocean; there is a reasonably simply method (can be performed in Excel) for estimating the heat uptake of a diffusive ocean given monthly surface temperatures for periods that do not invalidate a semi-infinite approximation (less than 500 years or so). If this is unknown to any of you (it was to me) I can provide it.

    It is not without criticism (insolation heats the ocean at depth and is not a surface forcing but IR forcing does).

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:16 PM

  410. mike,

    Thank you for your response.

    I would like to request a little clarification just in case I have used the wrong terminology.

    Given my doubts I said that there is a big risk that it is an alias but you say,

    “It is a diagnostic of the climate itself, and likely includes both internal and forced contributions to its variability”,

    so I only wish to make sure I have this right.

    Upto your first comma that is my stated concern, and I accept that, but your “internal … contribution”, may just hint at a genuine oscillation that is a global signal independent of the long term trend.

    Please do not get me wrong. I am niether a “total” fool nor am I an apologist for anyone who denies the long term trend. But if their is an “internal” oscillation that is independent of the long term trend then it may have a signal in the global temperature record that needs to be understood and some a correct attribution of some part of the records variance needs to be made.

    Have I simply used the word forcing when I should perhaps have said contributing factor, or are you saying the this oscillation has no likelyhood of have nothing more than an apparent cyclic nature.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 5 Dec 2008 @ 3:14 PM

  411. Alexander Harvey (410) — There is a small regular oscillation with a period of 3.6 years which shows up in El Nino indicies, temperatures and even the Keeling curve of atmospheric carbon dioxide. I suspect this is due to the North Pacific being a resonate basin of Rossby waves; the details are worked out in some of the comments at this link:

    I find this of interest since it is, other than annual variations, AFAIK almost the only thing about ‘climate’ which is so regular. (The others are longer period variations in Atlantic SST at much lower amplitude).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Dec 2008 @ 5:10 PM

  412. Alexander, problem with using “contributing factor” is that TIME is a contributing factor.

    “contributing factor” is far too vague to ask a question that can be answered and therefore should not be use in a skeptical argument, since a skeptic WANTS answers. A denialist would happily use it, but we don’t want to be grouped among them, do we.

    So please be accurate and specific.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Dec 2008 @ 9:43 AM

  413. Dear Mark,

    I shall do my best, and thank you for responding.

    Analysis of the temperature record can be attempted in a way that tries to attribute the variance to signals as opposed to noise. Starting with that which we are most sure of and working down, we have WM-GHGs, Insolation, ENSO, and volcanoes. One can have some confidence that each of these is reasonably well understood in the way that it should affect the temperature record.

    One can do what one can to attribute variance to each of these and having done so the residual noise and unattributed variance contains a candidate signal (~0.2C peak-peak) with a period of ~60 years (with two completed cycles) that has roughly the same phase as the PDO.

    The question is whether this candidate signal represents a signal that can be extrapolated (will produce another cycle) or not? Is it causal (perhaps owing to a resonance) or coincidental?

    If it can be extrapolated it currently sits close to its maximum negative gradient which would be sufficient to produce a period of about 15 years during which there might be stable or declining global temperatures. Followed by around 30 years with temperatures increasing at around 0.35C/decade. All other things (like volcanoes) being equal.

    If the 60 year cycle persists then we may have a long hard wait for the long yerm trend to once again become dominant.

    Now if this cycle is repeating then everyone can be very relaxed about the long term temperature trend even if global temperatures dip definitively. It is just a cycle.

    It could, of course, be just noise and other signals that have conspired to produce a ~60 year cycle.

    Now if there is strong evidence that would take the PDO or a global temerature signal with a period of around 60 years back a few more cycles it would add strength to the proposition that it will repeat again.

    At this moment we have a bit of luck that could end any day, if we have not had a major volcanic erruption for about 15 years. Hopefully this will continue as it simplifies things enormously.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 7 Dec 2008 @ 5:21 PM

  414. Dear David B.Benson,

    Thank you for the link.

    For the benfit of all I should like to quote a full paragraph as it is pertinent to my #413:

    “A few comments about forecasting are in order. In order to extrapolate patterns into the future (as I have done) reliably, one must establish that the patterns truly indicate not only what the data have done, but the physical process underlying the time evolution. This doesn’t mean we have to understand, or explain, the physical mechanism at work, but it does mean we must establish the statistical significance, and persistence, of the pattern beyond doubt. In fact, extrapolating patterns which represent faithfully what the data did but not what they will do, is one of the most common pitfalls of prediction.”

    I will add an additional comment:

    In certain circumstances, ENSO and volcanoes are examples, even though we lack the wit to be able to predict the future course of such events; provided we are reasonably sure that they affect the global temperature record we can attribute some of the records variance to them and so clean up the record.

    Thanks again and Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 7 Dec 2008 @ 6:44 PM

  415. The simplest and clearest answer to 413 is you look at the changes and see if there are comensurate changes in some other feature that could cause it.

    So, NOA oscillates at whatever. Climate changes at the same oscillation. Attributed.

    After all the known natural oscillations are taken into account, we’re left with something left over.

    It isn’t Milankivich cycles because that is going down and the temps are going up.

    It isn’t the Sun because that isn’t changing fast enough (oscillation period too low from the Sun).

    However, we have been accellerating our production of CO2.

    So there is a correlation.

    Now you need to check causation. That’s what the climate MODELS do: see whether it can be adequately explained by CO2 changes or whether there is yet another product that needs to be caught too.

    And so far, along with all the other knowns, CO2 fits and causes more than 2/3 of the temperature increase.

    That is, just like NAO/PDO, an attribution. If you’re going to query CO2 attribution you’ll need to explain what’s doing it instead, what’s countering CO2’s effect and then attribute properly with the same methods as CO2 has been attributed. THEN open that up to full scientific investigation, just like CO2 is.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Dec 2008 @ 3:52 AM

  416. Dear Mark,

    Just briefly,

    You wrote: “If you’re going to query CO2 attribution you’ll need to explain what’s doing it instead,…”

    I have not queried the effect of CO2 (the most significant of the WM-GHGs), they have been first each time I have listed the well known and well understood effects and they have indeed the largest effect. I think you misunderstand me almost completely. Even if I write it all out again with more detail I fear you may continue to do the same. That said, if you wish it, I will do what I can. For now if you haven’t done so I suggest you read all the posts on this thread under my name. I will be surprised if you do not find how guarded I am about a 60 year signal.

    If you are hunting a contrary squirrel, you are barking up the wrong tree.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 8 Dec 2008 @ 12:53 PM

  417. Why has the scientific community failed to convince so many people? Because those people (at least the ones that I argue with) believe science to be a tool of government and therefore untrustworthy. It doesn’t matter how convincing the science is to these people. They are (pretty successfully) muddying the waters.

    To counter this line of argument, I have found real life examples of the practical effects of climate change to be a more effective approach. Evidence of melting glaciers and of Spanish wine-makers having to relocate their vineyards because it is getting too warm in their current location seem to be harder for the science haters to refute (though I always seem to get the “but not all glaciers are in retreat” counter-argument). But the vineyards example usually results in the end of the argument, at least with the folks that I argue with.

    A few more examples of current practical effects of warming on businesses might convince some of these business-can-do-no-wrong types. But the Spanish vineyards is all I can find in this vein. Is anyone keeping a list of current effects of warming on businesses?

    Comment by Dave G — 23 Dec 2008 @ 6:17 AM

  418. > warming on business
    Have a look at some of the results from this search:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Dec 2008 @ 11:01 AM

  419. > a candidate signal (~0.2C peak-peak) with a period of ~60 years
    > (with two completed cycles) that has roughly the same phase
    > as the PDO.

    Published? Where?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Dec 2008 @ 11:05 AM

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