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  1. MAsher on Daily Tech is the sole reason I stopped using that site. It’s depressing how many of the readers there hold that him [edit] in high esteem. The IT world seems to be a bastion of denialists these days. Just check The Register for more clueless anti-science.

    Comment by Matt — 31 Dec 2008 @ 8:00 AM

  2. I came to your site via Climatedebatedaily.com, which named you as the most authoritative pro AGW site. I have learned quite a lot and am gradually managing to get to grips with the central issues. I have a PhD in Mathematics and my professional interests are in probability and statistics and I can understand much of the material. What I found surprising and disturbing is how the subject of global warming resembles a religious war. I am used to listening to spoilt young girls with artfully matted dreadlocks giving me physics lessons on the BBC news, but I wasn’t prepared for the, what only can be described as, childish behaviour of educated scientists (perhaps you are all just programmers!). Use of words such as “denialist”, “contrarian”, “denialosphere” does your cause no good. Neither does adopting a smart-alec superior attitude. Trying to discredit your opponents by bringing their religious beliefs and attitudes towards smoking sets alarm bells ringing in the minds of the curious layman. The majority of those who visit your site probably do so in a genuine quest for information, and resent being treated as if they had inadvertently wandered into a mosque carrying a bottle of beer. If your confidence in the science behind your version of events is so strong, why not stop at a calm, clear explanation?

    [Response: Hmm... One reason is that much of the confusion that exists is engendered on purpose. While many of our posts do just explain issues that have come up, we are constantly asked to respond to pieces of deliberate disinformation. It does no-one any favours to pretend that these are just innocent mis-interpretations. There is some sense in which newcomers might feel they have dropped into a long-running soap opera, which is why we have the 'Start here' button with plenty of links to the necessary background. However, we do think about the balance between explanation and reaction, and we will be thinking about that constantly in the new year. - gavin]

    Comment by Jon — 31 Dec 2008 @ 8:28 AM

  3. great post.

    Comment by paulm — 31 Dec 2008 @ 8:51 AM

  4. I second comment #2 by Jon. Regarding the post, what is the history of the RealClimate web site?

    Elery

    [Response: All posts are still online. See here, or these interviews. - gavin]

    Comment by Elery Fudge — 31 Dec 2008 @ 8:59 AM

  5. Well Jon for some it is a religous war, but not on the part of the learned gents here. They’re simply shooting back at the Kookaburras cackling from the trees.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:08 AM

  6. #2:

    What words do you want people to use for those who deny the evidence of human effects on climate? If “denialist” or “contrarian” are too strong for you, you should see the names thrown at Hansen, IPCC authors, Gore, etc. There is an element of the public that is genuinely curious but ignorant, and an altogether different element that has a definite agenda against the scientific results coming forth. The former will do their best to listen and learn, the latter will just discount what is said and look for other breaches in the wall where they can launch another attach. They’re not interested in learning anything. You have to know the difference. How would you treat people who don’t show any interest in learning anything?

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:22 AM

  7. “Most disappointing presentation of climate science by someone you expect to be knowledgeable on the topic based on their credentials”

    Roy Spencer, for his recent book.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:33 AM

  8. RE #4 Gavin

    I appreciate the links. Thank you.

    Elery

    Comment by Elery Fudge — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:51 AM

  9. Congrats for another stellar year providing insight into the issue of climate change and global warming. I have appreciated having RC here to help me understand the ins and outs of the climate wars, sorting through the mistakes, misinformation and the outright BS to find the facts.

    Happy New Year and looking forward to another informative year from all of you.

    Comment by Sue — 31 Dec 2008 @ 10:05 AM

  10. Re #2, Real climate is targeted and trolled to some degree I am sure by people who are attempting to use some quote made here by the team and even take it out of context. Realclimate are not superior but when you know the most on a subject and get a lot of posts asking unsuitable questions or making strong statements which you know are unlikely to be right and true you have a right to reply. Now email and posting have little emotion and hence your assumptions are a little unfair.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:00 AM

  11. Use of words such as “denialist”, “contrarian”, “denialosphere” does your cause no good…

    We hear this so many times, Jon, that it’s clearly an “argument” people are picking up from one (or many) of the denialist sites. Would you care to tell us where *you* got this “talking point” from?

    Comment by dhogaza — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:16 AM

  12. Thanks for the link to the story on Johnson at the EPA, I enjoyed the story. Well, if you call experiencing terror at the information contained in the story enjoying it.

    Comment by Lewis — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:28 AM

  13. Re: The Australian and the WSJ, and is WSJ changing

    The Australian definitely wins, but they differ fundamentally: the WSJ is only competing via the OpEd section, whereas The Australian uses the various news sections as well. I’ve often seen good, straightforward climate-related reporting in the WSJ alongside awful OpEd.

    One WSJ reporter told me the OpEd gang were evil, neocon dinosaurs… and that was the printable part.

    At least in recent years, I can’t recall seeing an actual story in the WSJ to rival the badness of stories in The Australian, although on OpEds they are competitive.

    re: 2 jon
    IMHO, those who run RC are patient beyond my comprehension…
    but maybe there should be a stronger warning label that a newcomer *really* should read Start Here first, before reading a single article.

    Comment by John Mashey — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:50 AM

  14. Jon, there’s a short list — Contributors — in the right sidebar. _Those_ are RC’s climate scientists. Get to know them.

    The rest — names and pseudonyms — are readers. Some may be scientists. Google Scholar helps when someone claims specific expertise. Occasionally guest scientists will do longer posts or add comments that are much appreciated. I wish that happened more. Keeping the level of dreck down is the best hope of encouraging those sorts of comments.

    Many of us aren’t scientists — we’re readers here to learn how to learn. Sometimes we worry at a question and figure something out (always hoping someone with actual expertise comments eventually).

    We regular readers do often retype the answers to the basic repeated questions, or, better, point to where they are, or help people figure out how to search for themselves to get good information.

    “Start Here” button. First link under Science in right sidebar.
    When someone hasn’t noticed those, many of us point to them.

    People make a real effort to stay relevant. It’s fuzzy; this is deeply involved with how we live, like public health Hot-button topics exist; for example when I see someone declaiming about sound science, or smoking, I’ll suggest the papers here as relevant
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22sound+science%22

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Dec 2008 @ 12:12 PM

  15. Jon (2) — You could well want to follow

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/

    linked on the side bar under Other Opinions as “Open Mind”.

    Also, I agree that the RealClimate contributors are very patient gentlemen; anyone who seriously disagrees with the science certainly deserves a label of “denialist”.

    [reCAPTCHA agrees, entoning "Services correct".]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Dec 2008 @ 1:13 PM

  16. Keep up the good work — I look forward to following your posts in 2009.

    If Jon (#2) is sincere and rational, he’ll understand the occasional usage of snark by RC and others in response to the fervent mis-/dis-information agents. It’s understandable to be turned off by this at first (I was) … but a few days of reading posts should do the trick. Or, he’s not sincere and concern trolling.

    Comment by BrianR — 31 Dec 2008 @ 1:33 PM

  17. Gavin,

    my wish, for the 2009 Realclimate, is to get more technical posts (I know, it eats your time) and less “political”, like this one.

    thanks

    Comment by pascal — 31 Dec 2008 @ 1:35 PM

  18. “Most consistently wrong media outlet:
    The Australian”….What is it about my country that it seems to harbour deniers all out of proportion to the size of its population. I suppose we can be grateful that Australia’s population is not the size of the US otherwise we might find ourselves with deniers coming out of our ears….

    Comment by Jeremy C — 31 Dec 2008 @ 2:00 PM

  19. > concern trolling
    > snark

    Yup. There are always remarks it’d be wiser to just completely ignore, but those crafted by experts are always soooooo tempting….
    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/Munchcard3.jpg

    “Level 10 Net Troll: He has no special powers, and he’s really mad about it.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Dec 2008 @ 2:10 PM

  20. dhogaza (11), you have, inadvertently to be sure, provided corroborating evidence for Jon’s point (2).

    To be smart-alec right back: We hear consensus so many times, dhogaza, that it’s clearly an “argument” people are picking up from one (or many) of the AGW agenda sites. Would you care to tell us where *you* got this “talking point” from?

    Comment by Rod B — 31 Dec 2008 @ 2:22 PM

  21. Clever move, Rod, “AGW agenda sites” –> “let’s you and him fight”
    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/cardsample.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Dec 2008 @ 2:51 PM

  22. thank you all very much for this wonderful source of information and occasional laughs. i refer many people to your site, and use a lot of your analyses in the inevitable arguments i get into online.

    i feel for our Australian friend above, and am similarly embarrassed to belong to same country as ‘the telegraph’. in our defense we do also have the guardian and the independent (combined readership probably about the same as the telergaph) which both produce some sterling cutting edge climate reporting.

    roll on 2009, and some proper grown up politicians making world saving (u.k. joke!) policy.

    Happy New year everyone!

    Comment by gerda — 31 Dec 2008 @ 3:01 PM

  23. (Note: WARNING, ‘Adult’ Content to follow)
    I just checked out the “Frosty The Coalman” Video, and I can’t think of a more apropriate way to ‘review’ it than by pointing out that the ‘next’ YouTube Video that that Site had queued up for our viewing pleasure was entitled “Jizz In My Pants”!!!
    It must be the latest effort from R. Kelley – or something!
    Oh, by the way; Bang Up Good Job All Around, Real Climate People!
    Don’t let em get you down – or send Global temperatures Up any higher than their own blockheaded foolishness (See, Jon, it’ NOT just these Guys who think like that!) necessitates.
    And, Happy New Year To All!

    Comment by James Staples — 31 Dec 2008 @ 4:28 PM

  24. Thanks Gavin et al. for keeping one of the best climate resources on the internet. Tonight I will toast you and all the climate scientists and bloggers fighting against the incredible amount of disinformation out there.

    Happy New Year!

    Comment by Stuart — 31 Dec 2008 @ 4:32 PM

  25. We hear consensus so many times, dhogaza, that it’s clearly an “argument” people are picking up from one (or many) of the AGW agenda sites. Would you care to tell us where *you* got this “talking point” from?

    Sure, Rob, Naomi Oreske’s paper, among other places. We actually have evidence on our side. What do you have? The Intelligent Designer?

    Comment by dhogaza — 31 Dec 2008 @ 4:43 PM

  26. Jim #6: “What words do you want people to use for those who deny the evidence of human effects on climate?”

    Simply don’t use word to characterize people (you don’t know anyway)! It’s about facts. Everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion (unless there is rock-hard evidence), but not to his/her facts.

    [Response: And then you have people who repeatedly ignore said facts in favour of imagined 'factoids'. While quoting Moynihan is apropos, finding a useful collective noun for persistent offenders is a necessary shorthand. Happy to hear any suggestions. - gavin]

    Comment by cogito — 31 Dec 2008 @ 4:51 PM

  27. dhogaza: “We actually have evidence on our side.” Who is we? Science, mankind, a grouping of people? How do I know if I belong to the “we” group or not, do I have to sign a paper?

    Comment by cogito — 31 Dec 2008 @ 4:54 PM

  28. Re #5
    This comment demeans Kookaburras, those fine Australian birds who are merely having a quiet chuckle about our continual stupidity.

    Wishes to all for a cool new year (shame about the forecasts) and thanks to the RealClimate team for their efforts

    Comment by Al Breingan — 31 Dec 2008 @ 5:13 PM

  29. Rod B., You know better than that. Scientific consensus is the set of facts, theories and techniques that the vast majority agree are essential in order to understand a field of science. The “voting” occurs by publications and citations. Those who reject the consensus are unproductive. Those who embrace “crazy ideas” have a higher probability of being wrong. The sweet spot where you actually increase understanding is the consensus.
    It is hardly unique to climate science. Particle Physics has its standard model. Geophysics (last I studied it) had its Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM) for understanding seismic propagation. And so on. Don’t be thick. Consensus is an essential part of science–ALL SCIENCE.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 Dec 2008 @ 6:14 PM

  30. #18 Jeremy C

    What is it about my country that it seems to harbour deniers all out of proportion to the size of its population.

    You did know that Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter?

    Coincidence … ?

    WSJ is now also in the Murdoch stable. Rupert Murdoch himself has come around to the position that climate change is a real problem. For once, it would be a good thing if the all-powerful newspaper proprietor called in his editors and told them to stop writing BS. As far as I can tell, The Australian fires reporters and columnists for fact checking. They stopped publishing my letters (from a high hit rate to zero) when I started pointing out factual errors. I stopped buying the paper, and now read it online.

    On the “name calling” thing, I recently told a very reputable scientist (in biology) that I was running for the Greens next Queensland state election, and got fed this line about what a pity it was that everyone was so rude to that nice Bob Carter, calling him “religious” etc. etc. I suspect he hasn’t read what Bob Carter says about climate scientists. Every accusation thrown at climate scientists by the inactivist side is true of them, only more so. For example: climate scientists are accused (falsely) of trying to model the entire climate as the CO2 greenhouse effect, yet it’s somehow OK if their side claims that the entire climate is controlled by the sun (except when they claim it’s all cosmic rays).

    Rather than get stuck on who is calling whom what, I suggest putting your head in a bucket of cold water, then reading the science. The mainstream is attempting to come up with predictive models, which, while imperfect, are accurate enough to use as a basis for policy. The other side is coming up with curve fits to historical data, which is a poor approach to explaining anything. Even if you cannot start from a physical model and have to use a purely statistical approach, you need to train your model on one data set and validate it against another. I’m still looking for the plausible hypothesis that overturns the mainstream, supported by a reasonable standard of modelling.

    This kind of faux debate is not new. We had it around health risks of smoking and the HIV doesn’t cause AIDS movement. The media loves a debate even if there is no substance to it; the angrier the participants, the better — and what better way to stoke up a debate than to give space to a position that has virtually no support?

    I had a lengthy argument on my blog with one of the regulars on The Australian‘s letters comment blog. I eventually realised that he was not open to logic despite being pretty well informed (correcting some of my errors, which I always appreciate) because he rejected the notion that a theory had to have predictive power to be useful.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:12 PM

  31. #29 Ray Ladbury: this attack on the notion of consensus also came from the tobacco never killed anyone and HIV doesn’t cause AIDS bunch. We actually know there’s a causal connection between tobacco and climate inactivism, as ably researched by George Monbiot. I tracked down some of his original sources. Interesting reading. A name that pops up a lot is Steven Milloy. Try doing a google search on ‘Steven Milloy HIV AIDS’. You’ll see he is onto that one too. A professional science denier. His motivation is clearly political: as a (US-type) libertarian, anything that requires government intervention has to be wrong. Pro-industry apparently is good but not essential.

    To me that looks like a religion. But don’t take my word for it. The evidence is out in the open.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 31 Dec 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  32. Ray, I know what you are driving at but you must consider the role of ‘crazies’(Not you Rod B but me)!!! They are at least interesting if not productive!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions#Coherence

    “In any community of scientists, Kuhn states, there are some individuals who are bolder than most. These scientists, judging that a crisis exists, embark on what Thomas Kuhn calls revolutionary science, exploring alternatives to long-held, obvious-seeming assumptions. Occasionally this generates a rival to the established framework of thought. The new candidate paradigm will appear to be accompanied by numerous anomalies, partly because it is still so new and incomplete. The majority of the scientific community will oppose any conceptual change, and, Kuhn emphasizes, so they should. In order to fulfill its potential, a scientific community needs to contain both individuals who are bold and individuals who are conservative. There are many examples in the history of science in which confidence in the established frame of thought was eventually vindicated. Whether the anomalies of a candidate for a new paradigm will be resolvable is almost impossible to predict. Those scientists who possess an exceptional ability to recognize a theory’s potential will be the first whose preference is likely to shift in favour of the challenging paradigm. There typically follows a period in which there are adherents of both paradigms. In time, if the challenging paradigm is solidified and unified, it will replace the old paradigm, and a paradigm shift will have occurred.”

    I appreciate Kuhn has his critics, but this general thrust is still thought to hold, it is more an observation anyway. Read carefully it provides support for no side in the AGW debate but just make an actor in that drama aware that there are often two sides and this is how science sometimes behaves. Rejecting consensus is unproductive? Imagine the breakthroughs and discoveries made by those rejecting it in history, without which we would still believe in wind gods to explain weather!

    Having said that, I agree that consensus is an essential part of science, but it is more useful within a paradigm of science than at it’s boundaries, and at its boundaries is where science also occurs. Are we at the boundaries of a paradigm? I don’t know, but worth considering.

    Comment by Nick C — 31 Dec 2008 @ 10:04 PM

  33. It always kind of amazes me when people object to the label “denialist” for people who are so deeply in denial. I’ve always thought it was better than some of the alternatives–nutjob? ignorant foodtube?
    This site is not about debate, but about education and outreach. The site confines itself to the science and scientific debate takes place between the pages of peer-reviewed journals and in the hallways of scientific conferences. I mean, I hate to break it to the denialist crowd, but you aren’t doing science here. You are just providing entertainment.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 Dec 2008 @ 10:07 PM

  34. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to write to you all to ring in the new year. I’ve come up with what follows:

    2009 is the year.

    We are going to win the climate change battle.

    I have no doubt in my mind, nor any doubt in my heart. We are going to win. In fact, we already have won.

    The trick is to keep doing exactly what you are doing. We are on the right track. You are part of the road to success.

    If you disagree, please give me a call and I’ll convince you that you’re wrong.

    If you passionately agree, tell everyone you know.

    Call me if you want to.

    Lots of love,
    Anna K

    Anna Keenan
    Youth Climate Advocate
    anna.c.keenan@gmail.com
    anna.keenan@youthclimatecoalition.org

    The Australian Youth Climate Coalition unites over 20 diverse youth organisations to build a generation-wide movement to solve climate change. Our alliance combines our forces, leveraging our collective power to create change for a clean, efficient, just and renewable energy future. We inspire, educate, empower and mobilise young Australians to take action on climate change. We coordinate, communicate and network with each other, and run shared projects and campaigns. http://www.aycc.org.au

    Comment by Anna Keenan — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:12 PM

  35. Ray Ladbury: It always kind of amazes me when people object to the label “denialist”…

    Spoken like a true credulist.

    Comment by Greg Simpson — 31 Dec 2008 @ 11:43 PM

  36. RealClimate: Thanks for a couple of laughs. I liked the Sarah Palin one most.

    2 Jon: What is amazing about RealClimate is that the denialists have failed to get the RealClimate people angry. There are so many of them whose only occupation is to find buttons to push and chains to pull. I mean psychological buttons and chains. They act like people with negative IQs. It is impossible to explain anything to that kind of person, no matter how hard you try. They have certainly given RealClimate far more than sufficient reason for any level of anger. It is really tough to do, but you just have to ignore the button pushers and chain pullers.

    On religion: [edit - OT]

    Another problem is that the fossil fuel industry intentionally corrupts the information on Google, and Google takes money from them for the privilege of corrupting the information found by googling.:

    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 http://www.RealClimate.org uses or the IPCC.

    George W. Bush messed up as many government web sites as he could get away with, but your chances are still clearly better than going to the richest propagandist .com or .org.
    Better yet: Get a degree in science so that you can figure it out for yourself.

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

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 1 Jan 2009 @ 12:46 AM

  37. I’ve read the posts on this site (and many others) for a least a couple years now. My impression in the past was that you folks were pretty dispassionate (in a good way) about your scientific work and the information you posted on this site. But that seems to have changed and this post is a good example of that change. These days, I read here more and more attempts to pursuade (or vent frustration?) by ad hominem attacks and ridicule. It seems to me that the authors on this site have adopted the means they bitterly accuse the “denialists” of using.

    Too bad. I think comment #2 (from Jon) got it exactly right. For what it’s worth, I think the authors represented by this site would gain credibility by lowering the level of vitriol that has been gradually on the increase.

    Comment by DVG — 1 Jan 2009 @ 2:10 AM

  38. 37 posts later, and ‘Jon’ has disappeared, his work done.

    Here’s a brief resumé of how to write a climate denialist post:

    “I have a PhD in (pick vaguely related subject). The way you act just pulls you down to the level of the opposition.”

    Sit back and waste lots of time for other folk.

    It is a typical tactic, not that Jon ever learned it….

    Comment by douglas clark — 1 Jan 2009 @ 5:47 AM

  39. Well, the basic issue is the gap between public knowledge and scientific knowledge, which is promoted by the denialist effort. Much of that effort has been financed by vested interests, who may very well believe that their products are harmless. This is where the word “denialism” stems from – as in, “We have a problem and we are in denial about it.”

    So, why the irritation on the part of some scientists? Lessee… for example, we have this article archived at the Fraser Institue from 1999 on the exaggerated predictions of climate models in Arctic regions, by Baliunas & Soon:

    http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/books/g_warming/solar.html

    “One demanding test of the validity of the computer simulations of the climate of the earth is based on temperature records from the Arctic… When tested against the Arctic temperature record, therefore, the computer forecasts are seen to exaggerate the projected warming by a large amount.”

    So, you would expect such claims to be retracted or reconsidered in the light of current events… but no. Instead, we get Sarah Palin in Alaska using scientific studies written by the same people…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/30/uselections2008.sarahpalin1

    Here is the excerpt:

    The paper, entitled Polar Bears of Western Hudson Bay and Climate Change[2007], has been criticised for relying on old research and ignoring evidence that Arctic sea-ice is melting at a quickening pace. Walt Meier, a world authority on sea ice, based at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, said: “The paper doesn’t measure up scientifically.”

    One co-author of the paper, Willie Soon, completed the study with funding from ExxonMobil — which has oil operations in Alaska’s North Slope — as well as from the American Petroleum Institute. Soon was a former senior scientist with the George C Marshall Institute, which acts as an incubator for climate-change scepticism. The institute has received $715,000 in funding from ExxonMobil since 1998.

    In May, ExxonMobil announced that it was no longer funding Marshall and other groups linked with contrarian views. It said this was to avoid “distraction from the need to provide energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and stressed that the company did not “control the research itself”.

    Another co-author of the document was Sallie Baliunas. In 2003 she and Soon were criticised when it was revealed that a joint paper had been partially funded by the American Petroleum Institute. Thirteen scientists whom they cited issued a rebuttal and several editors of the journal Climate Research resigned because of the “flawed peer review”. A third co-author of the polar bear study, David Legates, a professor at Delaware University, is also associated with the Marshall Institute.

    Failing to take basic facts into account while claiming to be a scientific expert and providing information to government policymakers and leading media outlets, – you can see how that can be a bit annoying, can’t you? Annoying, indeed.

    Comment by ike solem — 1 Jan 2009 @ 6:15 AM

  40. RodB, #20. So what should be used for the names that turn up here, ask questions like “Someone said that X is true and I can’t find any reason it isn’t. Can you help me?” and then, after the original message is forgotten, start attacking those who are explaining why X is either irrelevant or wrong.

    What about those like you who say “Well, it could be something else we don’t know about”. So, it could be exactly what we know. You never consider it though, do you.

    What SHOULD be the response?

    When someone’s argument is all about denying the knowledge (“It could be something else, I dunno what, just something”) what other word than “denialist” should be used? Skeptic certainly isn’t, since they’d be all skeptical about what this “other unknown” is right off the bat.

    How about those who use poor statistics and draw a single line between two dates and call it proof of global warming is over when I could pick another two dates and call it proof of global warming? When “skeptics” called the early work to task for not being long enough to make a trend, why did they not turn even more skeptical (and in cases even brought it up themselves) when a shorter and less pronounced (cherry picked) trend is shown to show warming is over? That’s not skepticism. That’s the refutation of warming. Denial of it.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jan 2009 @ 7:42 AM

  41. cogito, you don’t live up to your handle.

    In what way did your post #27 answer dagohza’s question? “We are the world. We are the people” didn’t have a requirement to sign up to be “we” in the lyrics.

    Your attempt to disregard an uncomfortable truth by false epistemology is shallow and transparent.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jan 2009 @ 7:46 AM

  42. Greg 35. You seemed to have leaped into a conclusion with both feet firmly in your gob.

    A credulist would be believing the denialists AND the AGW group and unable to pass on a new idea themselves.

    Rather like one of the blokes Paul Whitehouse plays in a sketch where he agrees with everyone when they make a statement.

    Ray is sometimes wrong (*In MY opinion*, reality may have a different view) but credulous is not one of his evinced properties.

    Now, do you have ANYTHING to say [edit]?

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jan 2009 @ 7:51 AM

  43. After long last, I have solved the problems with my planetary temperature calculator. The careful playing with the back button needed to make it work on Firefox and Chrome was a pain in the butt for all concerned. I have now replaced the old javascript-based page with one that includes a java applet. It seems to work on all the browsers I’ve tried it on — IE, Firefox, Chrome. Please let me know of any bugs.

    The URL is

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/PTC.html

    And can also be accessed through my climatology page:

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/Climatology.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Jan 2009 @ 7:57 AM

  44. DVG #37. The reason for your perception is that you see it as an attack on you. You WANT the denialists to be right. Think on that and I’ll go off on something a little more generally available to others.

    One reason why there is this greater dressing down of the mouth-breathers is because the mouth-breathers are losing and the only way they know to counter it is not to find facts or cogent arguments but to repeat the same mantra over and over again hoping, like Goebbels, The Big Lie will be believed and they will be praised.

    But what else can you do when the sixth time some barnpot has said “It’s the SUN!!!!” and you’ve explained where they are wrong five times, what else will you expect other than some paraphrasing of either

    polite: stop it
    impolite: shut up you idiot

    ?

    But you may not see the five attempts to explain just the end point. And that can only be because you’re selection bias is kicking in. Ask why you ignored five messages and picked out one that shows less understanding? Either you don’t want to think of the respondents as being nice people or you want the food-tube to be right.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jan 2009 @ 7:57 AM

  45. Greg Simpson–Actually, I don’t consider it an insult to be accused of believing the overwhelming evidence. If you guys ever produced any credible evidence, I’d consider that, too. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
    Greg, personally, I think it is rather sad that people like you are so deluded that you actually think you are taking part in scientific debate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Jan 2009 @ 8:09 AM

  46. DVG: #37

    I agree with Gavin’s response to Jon (#2). I’ve been posting comments and replies on USAToday.com’s articles on global warming for nearly two years now. What I’ve found is almost certainly a campaign on the part of many posters to deny the science, for whatever reason, and to confuse anyone who wanders there. It’s for that reason, plus my own desire to show off my knowledge of the science, that I continue to counter their trumped up arguments with the facts. It doesn’t work. They just keep coming back with the same old false arguments, many times under different user names. Very frustrating.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 1 Jan 2009 @ 9:45 AM

  47. But Jon was confusing the commenters with the scientists.
    You’re suggesting the commenters here are too mean and nasty to the …
    well, look up who’s who, and also look up concern trolling.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 9:59 AM

  48. Your award of runner-up in the Most Consistently Wrong Media Outlet to the UK Daily Telegraph is an understandable error. The Daily Telegraph is a strong supporter of the consensus on climate change. It is the Sunday Telegraph (owned by the same people, but editorially independent) which pursues a sceptic line. The confusion comes from the fact they share a website – but those who write the sceptic articles are not employed by the Daily Telegraph. Most sceptics would agree that the Daily Telegraph is consistently wrong, for example it recently printed an article claiming that a 0.21C increase is equal to an increase of 32.8F.

    Comment by Patrick Hadley — 1 Jan 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  49. #1 wrote: “The IT world seems to be a bastion of denialists these days. Just check The Register for more clueless anti-science.”

    That’s because most of them haven’t been trained in the physical sciences like chemistry or biology. They have no concept that the real world is based on equilibriums and probabilities, CS types only understand binary on/off.

    I.E. For them it either works, or it doesn’t work.

    That root of our problem is that our higher education system is producing legions of these science illiterates. CS types often think they’re superior because of their minor personal successes programming a computer. Overconfidence, arrogance, and complete ignorance all in the same package.

    Comment by TimK — 1 Jan 2009 @ 10:09 AM

  50. Nick C., I agree that Kuhn’s analysis is important, but how common are scientific revolutions in the physical sciences? There was the displacement of classical dynamics with relativity and quantum mechanics. However, even here, the correspondence principle was central in developing the new schemes. Moreover, the revolution was made necessary by vast improvements in measurement that made it possible to investigate utterly new fields (e.g. electrodynamics and atom/particle dynamics). Maybe, you could include contintental drift, but again, it was the new understanding of the fluid properties of the mantle that provided a mechanism for Wegener’s phenomenological ideas. There is the Big Bang in cosmology, but that’s a science that’s really still quite young.
    Having a theory that posits a mechanism is a crucial step in science. It really is the difference between a science like modern biology, informed as it is by evolution and our understanding of DNA, and medicine, which is mainly epidemiological and so more easily overturned. One can argue that the need for a dynamical theory was behind the move from clasical to relativistic/quantum paradigms.
    In climate science, we have a well tested theory based on well understood and validated physical mechanisms. Our understanding is not 100% of course, but new developments would be extremely unlikely to overturn what we do know well–e.g. the greenhouse forcing of CO2. (For one thing, as a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas, CO2 produces a signature that would be hard to mimic.) So, I would contend that development of climate science is likely to be more incremental and orderly. If revolutionary, new ideas come along, they will be greeted with skepticism, but this is entirely appropriate until they prove their worth by extending our explanatory power. To paraphrase Franklin–if it have explanatory power, none dare call it foolish.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Jan 2009 @ 10:15 AM

  51. Hey, the S. Fred for Climatology Incoherence is a Rabett Run Award. Also the Tim Ball for Resume Stretching

    Please remit Eli’s copyleft fee posthaste, but allow a say on denialist. The Rabett Run team is probably not the first, but we did think long and hard about what to call the lalalalala I can’t hear you crowd, and denialist fit the best (note we don’t use denier which has other sad associations).

    One has to admit that the denialist crowd is split, there are pro and amateur divisions. You have to take the Electric Cooling Aid Denialist Test to get into the amateur division and ride on the Majic Bus. That’s where a Pro says something so silly that your 2 year old niece knows it’s nonsense. The accepted Amateur tho, knows that he (it almost always is a he, although there are very talented ladies) runs to defend the indefensible, defining stupidity down. The pros are a cabal of public relation providing megaphones for those who have enough science to create confusing argument. A combination of “the voice of authority” with the “source of all knowledge”.

    What makes this “work” is that the Earth is compex, and every question about how it works has a simple but wrong answer. The complex correct answer takes longer to find and explain. Thanks to the efforts of Real Climate and others, the truth is beginning to penetrate, not only at policy making levels but also in general.

    It is important to speak up about the correct science. Since the science is complex, this also means providing the audience the tools it needs to understand the answer. While throwing flowers at Real Climate and others (see Rabbet Run blogroll) let me also throw some at the regular commentators in a lot of important places, Hank Robert, Ray Ladbury, Steve Bloom, John Mashey and more than a few others, who provide a needed bridge to the readers and much more. Over the course of years, they have self-educated to the point that they are experts. We need to move out more into the dens of denialism (you know where they are, saddle up). True the style required there is different and each of us has a place we will not go, but there are opportunities).

    Finally there is a real urgency of NOW. To have any meaningful effect on the future, the world must start acting to limit greenhouse gas emissions this year lest our grandchildren be overtaken by our stupidity and stubborness.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 1 Jan 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  52. Re #49, lol, its so true, the arrogance of personalties in IT is so true a bit of a shocker to be fair. I never actually thought that it was a phenomenon of computer science per se but of science per se but now I know its an IT thing. Maybe a lot of IT guys are ignorant of physics, chemistry and biology but a lot are not.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 1 Jan 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  53. The warming in the Arctic has not been adequately explained relative to the lack of warming in the Antarctic.
    A massive undersea volcano erupting in 1999 would certainly add a lot of heat to the Arctic ocean. Now I realize that there has been no credibly scientific studies on this, but ridiculing the possibility seems unwarranted.

    [Response: Actually, there is no 'lack of warming' for Antarctica on the whole, over the last half century. Stay tuned for more on that. -mike]

    [Response: Do the math. It's a notion worthy of ridicule. - gavin]

    Comment by Cardin Drake — 1 Jan 2009 @ 12:02 PM

  54. First, thank you Real Climate, for being there.

    re 32.

    Observation: When one actually reads the complete section you pulled the quote from, it isn’t quite as supportive of your argument as you would make it out to be.

    That said, I’ve seen various versions of the argument you are promoting, usually citing Copernicus and Einstein, or Big Bang or Plate Tectonics as examples of where ‘consensus’ fails. But I think these examples, when offered, confuse consensus with orthodoxy. Quite bluntly, to suggest the consensus for AGW is part of some entrenched orthodoxy is absurd. Intuitively, when I consider where the science of climatology was 50 years ago in comparison to where it is today, what I find amazing is that the people with expertise in the field have such a strong consensus regarding what is happening to the climate. And yet, they do.

    Perhaps one of the obvious problems with the argument against consensus is underscored in post 30, when Phillip Machanick remarked: “I’m still looking for the plausible hypothesis that overturns the mainstream, supported by a reasonable standard of modelling.”

    I think this is a real problem facing the awarding of credibility to the anti-AGW crowd – unlike Copernicus and Einstein, Big Bang Theory or Plate Tectonics, they really don’t have a consistent counter-hypothesis to AGW theory or any original ideas that hold up under scrutiny. It has also been observed that many Denialist arguments run afoul of one another. (And we’re not even touching on the high degree of support many of the leadings lights in the Denialist camp seem to receive from interests for whom addressing AGW would be counter-productive.)

    Here’s another observation, one that sometimes keeps me awake at night as I think about my child’s future: AGW is a parallel problem to sustainability. Frankly, the planet is overpopulated. Its peoples are gradually seeking to attain a lifestyle comparable to that enjoyed by the Industrial nations of the planet – in particular the United States – and doing so at the expense of established natural systems they take for granted. To attain this sort of lifestyle for 6 billion-plus people requires resources that simply do not exist, and the consumption of what resources we do have are contributing to degradation of the biosphere to an extent that will be irreparable – and probably already are. Even if we ignored AGW, the actions we need to address the problems facing us would invariably address contributing factors to AGW. But the thing the really seems increasingly evident is that not only is AGW a parallel issue to sustainability, it seems it can also be a catalyst, accelerating the degradation of natural systems we depend upon to maintain our global civilization.

    So I find it stunning that reasonably intelligent people not only cannot acknowledge the human species faces some staggering challenges to survival, but many are actively engaged in every effort to delay addressing these problems. We simply cannot go on with business as usual, yet we’re seeing roadblocks to constructive action thrown up at every turn by interests with agendas that have everything to do with short-term profit at the expense of long-term solutions.

    In light of this, I can’t help think the anti-AGW crowd is getting off easy when people reference them as Denialists. I can think of a number of stronger descriptions for what these people are engaged in doing.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 1 Jan 2009 @ 12:16 PM

  55. Re #53, The planet might be overpopulated but that is due to fossil fuel usage and its energy density and energy return on its investment required. In 1860 the population was around 1 billion globally. The subsequent use of this energy and its easy extraction made a population explosion a no brainer.

    In 1860 Oil yielded a return of 100:1 in terms of energy return and today we are down to around 14:1 on a global basis. The biggest issue facing humanity is probably not presently AGW but its energy future for as we begin to hit energy limits of perhaps 10:1 and lower the world population is not likely to remain as it is.

    If we look into hydrogen, electricity, and heat requirements in all of its forms and needs I doubt we can meet the cost of replacing oil, gas and coal with the CO2 free replacements let along with scientific obstacles that are in the way.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 1 Jan 2009 @ 12:56 PM

  56. Re Cardin Drake @53, a perfect example of the willingness to grasp at more and more far-fetched hypothetical straws rather than trying to come to grips with actual observed reality and known science. Denial is indeed a very powerful force.

    Captcha: tangled be

    Comment by Jim Eager — 1 Jan 2009 @ 1:34 PM

  57. > a number of stronger descriptions

    On off days, I’m inclined to favor the notion they’re actually a fifth column, covert scary dogmatic alien invaders, seeding the biosphere with the chemicals they need to sustain life on Earth at their preferred temperature after they displace us.

    You know the punch line for “To Serve Man” I trust?

    I think the recipe starts: First, warm the planet, by adding …..

    Seriously, think what we’d do if we had proof that some outside enemy was doing intentionally and with forethought what we’re doing to the climate.

    ________________
    “parts downfall”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 2:07 PM

  58. > scary dogmatic aliens
    Compendium:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScaryDogmaticAliens

    __________
    “write up”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 2:09 PM

  59. Barton, your calculator is brilliant. You’ve really done a service for the world.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 1 Jan 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  60. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the effect of clouds on climate change is uncertain while well over half the surface of the planet is covered with clouds.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 1 Jan 2009 @ 3:14 PM

  61. > said it before
    IPCC cites many sources for this same observation. What’s new?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 3:34 PM

  62. > undersea volcano melting Arctic 1999
    Another “almost a litmus test” item. Google for fans of the idea.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 3:42 PM

  63. > clouds, what’s new
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008GL036108.shtml
    hat tip to Anna at http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jan 2009 @ 4:23 PM

  64. I cannot express how sad it is to see “record increases in CO2 emissions” listed among the year’s “least unexpected observations”.

    Shall we just expect continuing increases in CO2 emissions year after year after year until irreversible global catastrophe is upon us?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Jan 2009 @ 4:26 PM

  65. Jon wrote: “Use of words such as ‘denialist’, ‘contrarian’, ‘denialosphere’ does your cause no good.”

    Agreed. We need more use of words like “fraud” and “crank” and “liar”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Jan 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  66. Jon (#2) and other accusers (Elery Fudge #4, DVG #37) of ad hominem attack: this is a minor aspect of what you’ll find on RealClimate.

    Short summary for the impatient: RC gets it wrong some times; the other side makes it a habit.

    Try checking out Bob Carter’s publications and you’ll find frequent use of emotive attacking terminology like “alarmist”, “myth”, “failure of the free press to inform the public about the true facts”, his side of the debate are “climate rationalists” implying the other side are irrational — and this is supposed to be an academic paper, not a blog. I’ll stick with one paper for examples. If you want more, go to his site.

    All of this is thin camouflage for the fact that he is loose with the facts, for example, saying that 1000ppm CO2 can’t be harmful because levels were higher in the early Cenozoic (so were temperatures, and the PETM global warming event caused a major extinction, but never mind).

    He also misleads by sleight of hand, claiming climate modellers prefer to call their work “projection” rather than “prediction”. My understanding is that this preference is because one of the inputs, CO2, is not a matter of science but of economics and politics — not because modellers have no confidence in their models.

    He attacks the concept of “consensus” which does not attack the validity of the science in the “consensus”, which is also clearly and ad hominem style of argument (who is saying it, not what they are saying).

    After sneering at GCM models for containing aspects that are inexact (and hence “curve fits”), he proceeds to argue that alternative models that are entirely curve fits are better!

    Then there’s this: “Fitting short-term trend lines through temperature or proxy temperature data with no regard to underlying climate cycles is meaningless, but this is widely ignored in the climate change literature.” He doesn’t cite a reference. If this is widely practised, he should be able to cite a few. All major climate studies I’ve seen attempt to allow for known variations in solar forcing, for example.

    He accuses the IPCC of ignoring the “presence in their datasets of clear El Nino and volcanic eruption signals of non-greenhouse origin”. No they do not. Comparing the spatial distribution of temperature change that the greenhouse effect causes with that of natural events like El Niño and volcanoes (for example) is included in model evaluation (get Chapter 9 Understanding and Attributing Climate Change from the WG1 report and see for yourself).

    Carter does everything these drive-by accusers try to pin on RC and more. At least here there is some appreciation of the value of getting the facts straight.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 1 Jan 2009 @ 8:16 PM

  67. BPL,
    Your calculator does not work on my iMac Intel Core 2 Duo.
    Browsers; iCab, Safari and Firefox. Didn’t try Opera and Sunrise.
    All software up to date. Java applets have always worked fine.
    http://www.broadbandreports.com/stest Sun Java plugin based speed test works fine.

    Comment by ChuckG — 1 Jan 2009 @ 8:17 PM

  68. RE: 46,

    A peruse of any major newspaper site with a story on global warming reveals this trend. The comment threads are the last bastion of the deniers.

    RE 28,

    Al, only “some” humans are stupid.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 1 Jan 2009 @ 8:44 PM

  69. 43 Barton Paul Levenson: Please be aware that I am still using Mac OS 9.1 and either ie5.1 or iCab 3.0.5. I paid $10 for this computer and that is my budget limit. I cannot upgrade this machine further.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 1 Jan 2009 @ 10:17 PM

  70. RC encourages:
    - critical thinking
    - citation of credible sources to back opinions
    - avoidance of leaping to sweeping conclusions from minimal anecdotal data

    and people often assess posters by their skills in such areas.

    matt (#1)
    “The IT world seems to be a bastion of denialists these days. Just check The Register for more clueless anti-science.”

    TimK (#49)
    “CS types only understand binary on/off…
    …CS types often think they’re superior because of their minor personal successes programming a computer. Overconfidence, arrogance, and complete ignorance all in the same package.”

    Alan Neale (#52)
    “its so true, the arrogance of personalties in IT is so true a bit of a shocker to be fair. I never actually thought that it was a phenomenon of computer science per se but of science per se but now I know its an IT thing. Maybe a lot of IT guys are ignorant of physics, chemistry and biology but a lot are not.”

    Between these posts, we’ve learned that:
    - IT is a bastion of denialism …because of TheRegister.
    Situation Publishing appears to be an 11-person company with a turnover of Coal News?

    - That CS & IT “types” are arrogant & ignorant, with no qualifiers like “some” or “a small sample”.

    I’m interested in the extent to which backgrounds influence what people believe about science.

    TimK and Alan Neale: can you point at some credible academic, peer-reviewed studies (likely by social scientists) that actually provide data to back up your claims about IT/CS people, especially in comparison with (for example) economists, business, or finance people? Do the former have noticeably worse natural science backgrounds than the latter? Are they more arrogant? Cites? If not, is there some reason why CS/IT should be attacked? As a group, have they done more damage lately than some of these others?

    I’m quite sure there are CS or IT people who are arrogant/ignorant; it would be astonishing if there weren’t. Likewise, it would be equally astonishing if there weren’t AGW deniers (like David Evans, although he’s an EE turned software guy). And, I know there are CS/IT people whose natural science background isn’t strong. Is there a big difference between IT/CS people and the general population?
    ===
    This is a slightly different question, but as a quick test for serious AGW denialism,
    there are about 130 “experts” in the Heartland list. Each person has enough of a description to get some idea of their background, and at least most of the people there actually probably want to be on that list, which makes it better than some. Is Computer Science well-represented on that list? How about compared to other disciplines?
    Anybody want to name the CS/IT people there?

    In RC a while ago, I wrote a more serious analysis on this sort of topic, although that one was occasioned by comments about engineers.

    So, was there any published substance behind these remarks? If so, I would *love* to see it …but if not…. well, let’s say I have my reservations about sweeping generalizations, and while I haven’t done a scientific study either, I’ve known & met a few CS/IT folks :-)

    Comment by John Mashey — 2 Jan 2009 @ 12:06 AM

  71. Re #53: “A massive undersea volcano erupting in 1999 would certainly add a lot of heat to the Arctic ocean. Now I realize that there has been no credibly scientific studies on this, but ridiculing the possibility seems unwarranted.”

    Even a fairly modest undersea volcano ought to register on seismographs around the world. (And hydrophones, I would think.) One large enough to warm the entire Arctic ocean ought to have knocked every seismograph on the planet off scale.

    Humm… A little back-of-the-envelope here. Lava temperature runs ~750-1200C, so figure 1000C temperature difference between it and seawater. Assume specific heat of water is the same as that of rock (though in fact it’s larger, and heat of fusion larger still), so 1 Km^3 of molten lava raises the temperature of 1000 Km^3 of seawater by 1 degree C. The volume of the Arctic Ocean is what, about 15 million Km^3? So unless I’ve dropped a decimal point somewhere, you’d need a volcano that errupted around 15,000 Km^3 of molten lava to do the trick. That’s a decent-sized mountain range – does ridicule seem a bit more warranted now?

    Comment by James — 2 Jan 2009 @ 12:33 AM

  72. simon #60. So it’s uncertain. So why is it only going to cool the planet? A cloudy night is warmer than a clear one, so you cannot be certain of that, can you: it could be that any changes in cloud will accelerate the change not retard it.

    Did you forget that? If not, why the heck did you bring it up? The price of oil over the next 8 years is uncertain. Doesn’t mean we can’t usefully use a prediction to see where it’s going, does it.

    If you’re going to continue to bring that up, bring up how it could be making things worse.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:37 AM

  73. Thank you, Jim. I don’t know how much of a service to the world it is; I was just trying to illustrate a quick-and-dirty method for estimating planet temperatures. :D

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:37 AM

  74. Yikes, Chuck, sorry to hear that. I’ll look at it again.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:40 AM

  75. Clark, I just brought up Firefox and the page worked properly. I don’t know what the problem with your system (or my applet) is. I hope it’s not that Macs can’t use this stuff. All I can say is that it works in Firefox on my Dell desktop running XP Pro. Also in Chrome. I’ll check Safari next.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:43 AM

  76. Oops. No I won’t. Safari only runs on Macs.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:44 AM

  77. Happy new year to Gavin, RC and the foot soldiers.

    Thank you for all your hard work, which is really appreciated by this lurker.

    Comment by Abi — 2 Jan 2009 @ 6:55 AM

  78. I hope you allow me to vent my thoughts on the whole Denialist-namecalling issue.

    I think Mr Eli said it very well that there are pros and amateurs in the anti-AGW camp. There are few pros and many, many amateurs. In fact everybody who hasn’t done any research on climate science is most probably an anti-AGW amateur. I see this around me with the people I know (me being the only one spending a few hours every day on RC, Tamino, Rabett Run, Climate Progress, but also WUWT and the anti-AGW articles from Climate Debate Daily): they think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Which of course is the aim of the anti-AGW pros. IMO the effect Al Gore generated with AIT is wearing off for the simple fact that people are conservative and don’t want to change their habits.

    Now, what I’m trying to get at: in the PR war that is fought out in the blogospehere – which in my view does have an effect on reporting in the MSM – it’s all about convincing the amateurs, the masses. I believe the term Denialist, though accurate as many people are in the phase of denial, is too aggressive because it automatically puts anti-AGW pros and amateurs in the same camp and makes the pros more or less invisible.

    I thought about this for a long time and I think a term like Misinformed is much more appropriate for the anti-AGW amateurs. They are in denial, but the reason this denial is so persistent is that they are systematically misinformed. Because misinformation comes first I believe Misinformed is a much better and friendlier term. Added to this you can call the anti-AGW pros MisinformANTS, and thus make a distinction between the two.

    This allows you to use the rebutting style I like best when reading comments here on RC or Tamino, employed endlessly by Hank Roberts who almost never loses his patience (like for instance Ray Ladbury or Tamino -very understandably and rightly! – do): ‘It seems you are misinformed, but this is understandable as there is a lot of misinformation about. You would do well to go here and read this and that. Research it thoroughly so you can get an idea if the Earth is warming (we believe it is, and most in the anti-AGW camp do too), if it’s due to human activities (we believe it is, and quite a few in the anti-AGW camp admit this) and how serious the consequences will be and what to do about them (we believe this is what the deabte really should be about).’

    I think from a strategical point of view this friendly patronizing works best and a switch from Denialist to the dual Misinformed and Misinformant would be much more productive in getting the Doubt-factor to work for you and not against you. This is more important than people think.

    At the same time when ever I post comments on a site like WUWT (which is not very often) I like to stress the fact that I view myself as alarmed rather than alarmist and try to distance myself from those groups that try to cash in financially or politically on AGW. These are things I have to put emphasis on just like the fact that I lack the intelligence and knowledge to go into lengthy debates about the science. I ‘believe’ AGW is happening because I find the articles and comments on pro-AGW sites more credible and convincing than on anti-AGW sites.

    Hmmm, I’m writing way more than I intended (and more for myself than for others I see now) so let me stress again that I am convinced that it would be a smart thing to switch from Denialist to Misinformed/ant.

    Comment by Neven — 2 Jan 2009 @ 7:17 AM

  79. Sarah Palin? Really, I mean come on.

    “So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent.”

    A ‘conservative’ who does not outright deny the existence of global warming; that’s pretty progressive in my book and hardly clueless.

    “there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts.”

    And, for one to allow that man made causes are part of the problem as well, that’s practically unheard of. How do these statements make her the most clueless US politician?? The only other conservative I know of on record with anywhere near that honesty is Newt Gingrich.

    I hardly think she deserves your snarky award. [edit]

    [Response: Umm.. John McCain? (remember, he was the Republican candidate for president). This is not a conservative/liberal issue (despite what you might read elsewhere). The radiative impact of CO2 doesn't depend on who you vote for. - gavin]

    Comment by chupa — 2 Jan 2009 @ 8:07 AM

  80. Re 55 : Alan, I think you meant 54. You wrote: “The planet might be overpopulated but that is due to fossil fuel usage and its energy density and energy return on its investment required. In 1860 the population was around 1 billion globally. The subsequent use of this energy and its easy extraction made a population explosion a no brainer.”

    I think you fail to make your case. Aside from the sweeping nature of your remarks, population rate data suggests we’d be overpopulated regardless of energy density and return based on the readily available evidence of historical population growth. Put another way, correlation is not necessarily causation.

    Your figure of 1 billion in 1860 is late by half a century, according to the 2004 U.N. report on world population; the 1 billion figure was reached in the early 1800s, around 1804.

    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/sixbillion/sixbilpart1.pdf

    According to the same report, population rate of growth has dropped from 2% per year in the 1960s to 1.3% per year now (1.6% in less developed regions). The greatest increase in population was in the late 1980s (86 million per year ). World birthrates are such that the most recent increase of a billion people took place in the shortest span of time – 12 years. (Estimates suggest said rates are slowing, in keeping with the declining rate of growth; the report estimates it will take 14 years to add the next billion, 15 the next, then 28 the next – but said rates are slowing in developed regions at a greater rate than in underdeveloped regions.) The report also notes that “Of the 78 million people currently added to the world each year, 95 per cent live in the less developed regions” and “Eighty per cent of the world currently reside in the less developed regions. At the beginning of the century, 70 per cent did so. By 2050, the share of the world population living in the currently less developed regions will have risen to 90 per cent.”

    Based on the report and on history, I could anecdotally suggest that the actual formula seems rather obvious: the poorer and less educated the population, the likely higher rate of reproduction. Couples in developed countries have reduced average birthrates by 50% since 1950. China was approaching a billion people long before their own industrial (energy) ‘revolution’ that created their technological push of the past two decades, and its leaders, having done the math, so to speak, put measures in place to control population well before that time. Likewise India’s population growth preceded their industrial and technological growth. It’s the same throughout the undeveloped world. If anything, the evidence suggests that as energy use increases in efficiency and with it the concurrent growth in industry and technology alongside the availability of resources, populations tend to decline proportionally in industrialized/developed countries. Populations in those countries live longer lives, yes, but that does not translate into population growth. Note that while the portion of the world’s population 60 and older is 1 in 10, the portion is 1 in 5 in the developed countries, which, in concert with the declining birthrate of 50% in developed countries, underscores this understanding.

    Also, while the use of energy and the byproducts of technological innovation have allowed us to keep up with population growth in terms of providing sustenance to the world’s population, the returns in this area are declining in proportion to population increase. The decline of China’s agricultural production and grain reserves in the past few years and that country’s decision to purchase grain on the world market – at the expense of other, poorer countries’ ability to purchase from the same, finite stock – highlights this problem. (Yet another reason the biofuel solution seems absurd – the world needs to eat and we’re worried about fueling our cars.)

    “If we look into hydrogen, electricity, and heat requirements in all of its forms and needs I doubt we can meet the cost of replacing oil, gas and coal with the CO2 free replacements let along with scientific obstacles that are in the way.”

    If it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 2 Jan 2009 @ 10:42 AM

  81. Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    2 January 2009 at 5:44
    Oops. No I won’t. Safari only runs on Macs.

    The latest version 3.2 also runs on PCs, your Java applet doesn’t run on my Mac though. I don’t have problems with Java normally.

    http://www.apple.com/downloads/

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 2 Jan 2009 @ 11:41 AM

  82. [I'm re-posting this after running afoul of reCaptcha-vs-Preview-button-itis.]

    Re #79, Chupa: You’re giving Sarah Palin way too much leeway; see e.g.: Palin, McCain disagree on Causes of Global Warming. She uses waffle words to try to play both sides; the core contradiction is her suggestion that we can “do something” about the problem without deciding on why we think it is happening – if we don’t know whether CO2 is the problem, just what “action” can we take? Only adaptation? Anyway, this is meltwater under the bridge-to-nowhere now, I guess…

    Anyway, thanks indeed to the dedicated volunteers here at RC and to everyone offering constructive contributions. I’d like to second Ray’s comment at #29:

    Rod B., You know better than that. Scientific consensus is the set of facts, theories and techniques that the vast majority agree are essential in order to understand a field of science. The “voting” occurs by publications and citations. Those who reject the consensus are unproductive. Those who embrace “crazy ideas” have a higher probability of being wrong. The sweet spot where you actually increase understanding is the consensus.
    It is hardly unique to climate science. Particle Physics has its standard model. Geophysics (last I studied it) had its Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM) for understanding seismic propagation. And so on. Don’t be thick. Consensus is an essential part of science–ALL SCIENCE.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 December 2008 @ 6:14 PM

    I’d like to invite everyone to take a look at a site I’ve been working on, ‘faces of climate science’, with the full list of authors of IPCC AR4 wg1, annotated with a link to their academic homepage, some citation stats on their top-cited papers, a link to a Google Scholar query for their works (and a separate page with their photos, just for the heck of it.) I’ve also got a page listing all the journals I’ve found that cover climate science, with links to their online editions (some are subscriber-only, but many have at least some free public access).

    I also have a much longer list of some 1300+ climate scientists (including wg1) built up manually (but still far from complete.) In that list I’ve started adding in some of the most prominent “skeptics” to put their academic standing in context. The few well-published names like Baliunas, Pielke Sr., Michaels, et al. are scattered through the middle of the pack. Judge for yourself if they represent a significant fraction of the field. (I may have to think about some way to tag or highlight their names for visual reference.) Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

    This took me quite some time just to do a full coverage of AR4 wg1, and I have a lot of names left to do in the longer list. As for the heavily padded and quotemined list of purported challengers in lists such as the Inhofe 400 (now claiming 650 but with many duplicates), I can’t promise to treat those lists exhaustively, but some random sampling may be in order to illustrate how far those lists fall short on published work, current research and teaching in relevant fields.

    Best wishes to all for a happy New Year.

    Comment by Jim Prall — 2 Jan 2009 @ 12:15 PM

  83. Yeah, Ray, but accusing one of reciting “talking points” is a cheap shot; asserting they are simply wrong is not. It was the cheap shot ad homs that Jon was referring to, which dhogaza inadvertantly substantianted.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Jan 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  84. Ray (33) although the pro “denialist” deny and rationalize it, denialism is an unadulterated ad hom pigeon-holing folks who disagree with you into the holocaust supporter camp. But if you keep using it long and loud enough it will eventually stick — maybe even get in a dictionary (beyond Wiki).

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Jan 2009 @ 1:56 PM

  85. DVG (37), I’m in your camp, but to be fair, the site’s official moderators are not as often guilty of this charge and show a goodly amount of professionalism.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Jan 2009 @ 2:09 PM

  86. Mark #72 As I understand it (not very well I admit) water vapour reinforces CO2 feedback, while water in other forms (droplets, ice-crystals etc) provides negative feedback.

    [Response: Not true. Clouds can provide positive or negative feedback depending on their properties and height. - gavin]

    It seems to me that we need to be a lot surer of what assumptions should be input to GCMs so as to properly represent the effect of the vast volume of clouds which girdle the planet. (It only needs one fly in the ointment to scupper a theory).

    Comment by simon abingdon — 2 Jan 2009 @ 2:30 PM

  87. What’s the best response to the Soros funding claim? I searched on “Soros” in the RC Wiki but didn’t find anything.

    [Response: It's just not true. But how would you like me to prove that? By showing the non-existent non-cheques he didn't send us, or the non-existent bank statement showing his non-existent non-payments? Please see the disclaimer that we published years ago. It is still valid. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Palm — 2 Jan 2009 @ 2:46 PM

  88. RE: #80

    “If it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?”

    Why do poor people have to live with less than they have now when many others can reduce their consumption slightly and still have much more than they really need? I would be happy to live with 10% of what Bill Gates has/uses or even Al Gore.

    Comment by PatH — 2 Jan 2009 @ 2:54 PM

  89. A bit of hope for the Australian(s)? This one, from their National Affairs editor, is not all that stupid:
    “Sceptics skip the long view”: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24866329-7583,00.html

    Comment by Ark — 2 Jan 2009 @ 3:07 PM

  90. Dear Sarah Palin: Is there anybody who would blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate?

    Comment by Ark — 2 Jan 2009 @ 3:42 PM

  91. Re 82. Sounds like a great project Jim. However, I’m not sure I’d put Roger Pileke Sr in with the nutty sceptics like Baliunas. He clearly accepts the AGW issue, just believes that regionally other anthropogenic forcings are important too.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

    Comment by san quintin — 2 Jan 2009 @ 3:43 PM

  92. “Clouds can provide positive or negative feedback depending on their properties and height. – gavin”

    Since the properties and heights of clouds are continually changing and their worldwide effects are necessarily substantial, how are they to be convincingly modelled?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 2 Jan 2009 @ 3:46 PM

  93. I am extremely happy about January 20th myself and have enjoyed immensely the sound of conservatives whining, moaning and complaining because the pro-pollution administration is leaving office and being replaced by a science-and-reality based administration which will actually do something about this problem.

    Since the Republican party has become a minority I think it safe to bypass the denialists as irrelevant. No argument would ever cause a creationist to believe in evolution, nor would any argument ever serve to cause a conservative to believe in Global Warming.

    Best to bypass such people and begin working on the substantial changes in lifestyle which will be necessary in order to reduce pollution and consumerism and over-reliance upon debt.

    http://www.flickr.com/dmathew1

    Comment by David Mathews — 2 Jan 2009 @ 4:13 PM

  94. > how are they convincingly to be modelled?

    Is that the unquantifiable “convincingly” — only you can assess?

    Or perhaps journal articles will suffice. If so you can look them up and see, e.g. (Google Scholar ‘recent’ for climate model clouds, as an example)

    American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2008, abstract

    Title: Sulfate aerosol nucleation, primary emissions, and cloud radiative forcing in the aerosol- climate model ECHAM5-HAM.
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008AGUFM.A41E0155K

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jan 2009 @ 4:54 PM

  95. Simon:
    Flora and fauna
    - don’t read thermometers
    - could care less about NASA GISS or Hadley
    - don’t care whether or not there’s some badly-sited surface station in 2% of the Earth
    - don’t care how well clouds are modeled

    But there is *vast* evidence from around the world, summarized in IPCC WG II Chapter 1 that flora and fauna are moving poleward (or uphill). At least some of them are far away from human habitation [hence, no Urban Heat Island effects need apply.]

    In particular, weeds and insects are relative “mobile”, and many are primarily deterred by coldspells. Of course, temperature is not the only factor, but for many it’s very important. AGW theory says that one expects nights and winters to warm faster than days and summers, which sounds good at first, unless it means you get West Nile because the wrong mosquitoes survive better. Since ~2001, Canada has started to get West Nile cases.

    Among the most visible, out of many hundreds of examples:

    - bark beetles are expected to kill ~every lodgepole pine in Colorado, and they’re currently chewing their way through British Columbia, which is mostly very sparsely populated humans. Coldspells kill the beetles, but those are lessening of late.

    - Kudzu’s Northward expansion. Here’s a study from University of Toronto researchers.
    They say:
    “The northward movement of minimum winter temperatures predicts kudzu range expansion, Kudzu could survive in Canada in less than 20 years”
    Kudzu is also especially responsive to CO2…

    Canadians might like to have more maple sugar business, as the New England sugar maples slowly depart, but they’re correctly not keen about kudzu…

    So, why are many flora & fauna moving without listening to statistical dancing on pinheads and waiting for perfect models of clouds?

    Comment by John Mashey — 2 Jan 2009 @ 5:51 PM

  96. Is there anybody who would blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate?

    Yeah, it must be admitted that Palin’s fracture is rather englished :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 Jan 2009 @ 6:09 PM

  97. John Mashey (95) — Well put. Kindly come do that on

    http://global-warming.accuweather.com/

    now and again.

    Thanks.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 6:43 PM

  98. This review of the political discussion around climate change is fun, but how about a review of advances made in the science?

    Things like advances in the models, improvements to our understanding of the paleohistory, did we get a better handle on cloud physics, were there any breakthrough in atmospheric physics theories etc.?

    There are many hundreds of scientists beavering away at this. What did they discover and learn in 2008?

    Comment by Craig Allen — 2 Jan 2009 @ 7:24 PM

  99. Natural and artificial iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,599213,00.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 8:18 PM

  100. Re #80, the wests population is not growing and I then presume that the immigration is necessary in order to keep our lower end of the economy functioning. Our western populations are aging I believe and come 2050 the global population will max out at around 9 billion I believe and fall back to present levels come 2100. Prosperity, education or contraception makes the global population smaller but old people consume a lot of resources for little return maybe. Our oil, gas and possibly coal will all have reached points of economic return before then except maybe coal. My main point is that our present western populations rely on being as large as they are on fossil fuels. Sanitation, transportation, medical science – hospitals, ambulances etc, the military – our wars, our food infrastructure – farming and fertilisers, products – plastics etc. It is not going to be a very effective energy decet is it ?

    China and India are probably good examples of local country based good food production but we can sustain our populations by the same ideas and ways of living. I just get the feeling that all bets are off on that one as our politics and economics rely on prosperity and heavy energy use models. Hopefully it can but less will be hard to deal with. After all for 20 years now we have been notified our AGW, but as yet no commitment to reduce and become more efficient in our energy use.

    Can planes fly on something else, can cars, can houses and building be heated and we all can go to work as per usual. Doubtful.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 2 Jan 2009 @ 8:29 PM

  101. Clovis comet evidence:

    “Six North American Sites Hold 12,900-year-old Nanodiamond-rich Soil”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090101172136.htm

    IMO, this is quite strong evidence. The issue for climate is that this impact from an extraterrestrial body could well have been the trigger which set off Younger Dryas.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Jan 2009 @ 8:31 PM

  102. re 100: “Re #80, the wests population is not growing and I then presume that the immigration is necessary in order to keep our lower end of the economy functioning.”

    And your point is…?

    Alan: “Our western populations are aging I believe and come 2050 the global population will max out at around 9 billion I believe and fall back to present levels come 2100.”

    You should actually read the report I linked, instead of telling me what you believe sans substantial support for your claims. Population is projected to increase through the end of the century, not decline, though there will be a leveling off, not decline, barring nuclear war, a super-plague or other massive natural or AGW-induced disaster. And you actually should check out the history of population decline. You’ll find that as a species, we tend to rebound strongly whenever our numbers are reduced.

    And there are too many people, Alan.

    Alan: “My main point is that our present western populations rely on being as large as they are on fossil fuels.”

    To be polite, you are ignoring reality, then. This isn’t about just “western” populations. ALL populations utilize the planet’s resources, and you have yet to answer the key question I asked in relation to this problem.

    Alan: “Sanitation, transportation, medical science – hospitals, ambulances etc, the military – our wars, our food infrastructure – farming and fertilisers, products – plastics etc. It is not going to be a very effective energy decet is it ?”

    Were you intending to say “deficit” or “decent”?

    Peak oil is a short-term inevitability, if it is not already here. Clean coal is a fiction. Water resources are being depleted. Agriculture is fairly topped out; any increases in yield are likely to be incremental. Pollution is adversely affecting the biosphere on a global basis. AGW is happening, and it will supremely ruin our day as a species unless it is adequately addressed. Resources are finite and insufficient, with a growing world population clamoring for their use. Nothing you are saying actually addresses this reality, let alone addresses what I’ve said.

    What is your point?

    Alan: “China and India are probably good examples of local country based good food production but we can sustain our populations by the same ideas and ways of living.”

    Say what? China’s food production industry is a disaster. It is draining its aquifers. It’s civil engineering projects have caused more problems than they’ve solved. The Yellow River no longer reaches the sea. India, dependant as it is upon failing monsoons, is in equally serious trouble. Also, both countries depend, in growing part, upon melt-water from the Himalayas, andthat source is disappearing. Meanwhile, in the U.S., we are draining the Oglala aquifer at un-replenishable levels. The Western states have been in a drought for over a decade, and California is facing the prospect of the third year in a row where the Sierra snow pack will be below average. Do you even understand what you think you are trying to argue here?

    Alan: “After all for 20 years now we have been notified our AGW, but as yet no commitment to reduce and become more efficient in our energy use.”

    Actually, alt energy use HAS become more efficient. The real problem, at least in the U.S., is the administration and GOP congress has done all it can to promote traditional energy production (Gas, oil, etc.) at the expense of alt energy. And whether or not your statement is credible, how does this change the fact that we are in serious trouble? Are you trying to suggest we should just kiss it all good-bye?

    Alan: “Can planes fly on something else, can cars, can houses and building be heated and we all can go to work as per usual. Doubtful.”

    Planes can be replaced by other forms of transportation; many of the needs for planes, such as business-related travel, can be eliminated. Re heating: ever hear of passive solar? Wind and solar panels can also help. Insulation also helps, no? Same with transportation – we need to commit to alternative forms. On a macro-level, the way we plan urban communities, the way we source things, the manner in which we live, are going to have to change…or we’re going to have to come to grips with the very real possibility we’re going to do ourselves in. This kind of change won’t happen overnight, and we’re at a minimum eight years behind, thanks in large part to the outgoing administration. But you’d be surprised, I think, at how fast things can change, if we dedicated ourselves to the task.

    Again, I will ask: if it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?

    Side note to Real Climate: Small complaint. Your two word anti-spamming measure is often incomprehensible. For this latest post I had to close and reopen my browser four times until something came up I could fully read.

    [Response: Just ask for a new reCAPTCHA - top little button on the right with two circling arrows. - gavin]

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 2 Jan 2009 @ 10:05 PM

  103. Off-topic question for gavin,

    I’ve been looking through the ModelE simulations pages and I’m having difficulty with the Forcings versus Temperature response formula. Generally, it is estimated there is a 0.75C impact per 1 watt/m^2. The GISS Model E total forcing to 2003 is +1.92 w/m^2 yet the surface temperature impact is only +0.65C or so.

    What is the explanation for the differential?

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/NetF.txt

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/work/modelEt/time_series/work/tmp.4_E3Af8aeM20_12_1880_2003_1951_1980-L3AaeoM20D/global.gif

    [Response: the ocean-related thermal lag. It takes time to catch up with the forcings... - gavin]

    Comment by John Lang — 2 Jan 2009 @ 10:34 PM

  104. David Matthews (93), nothing like the tyranny of the majority to make a mob’s day…

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Jan 2009 @ 12:20 AM

  105. “Most clueless US politician taking about climate change (with the exception of Senator Inhofe who’d always win).”

    That Sarah Palin – there she goes again, “taking” the “l” out of “talking”.

    Typos aside, it’s hard to argue with that choice.

    [Response: Whoops. fixed. - gavin]

    Comment by Deep Climate — 3 Jan 2009 @ 3:14 AM

  106. I think the most significant result of 2008 is that “Green” seems to have finally caught on, and with a vengeance. Two years ago when I first started talking-up compact fluorescent bulbs most of the people I spoke to didn’t want to be bothered with the initial expense. Now they line grocery stores everywhere, with giant displays of all sorts of products.

    The oil crunch of this past summer seems to have finally changed car buying behavior with many of the SUV and gas guzzling vehicles finally falling from grace. Although the economy can be blamed some for the collapse in oil prices, significant oil demand seems to have been destroyed, which is a good thing for economic viability long term, as well as reducing CO2 output and protecting the environment. The Chevy Volt is continuing product development, even with gasoline at multi-year lows.

    T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan was announced in July 2008 and represents a major advance in renewable energy. With advances in wind and solar power, as well as the storage technologies needed to make those power sources more reliable, we can make a serious dent in our oil addiction.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 3 Jan 2009 @ 3:21 AM

  107. re 104 but the scientists ARE the minority, the majority are the fence-sitters who are being targeted by the anti-AGW side such as Texaco and Phillip Morris (if science is wrong about global warming, maybe they’re wrong about the effects of smoking).

    And what about the majority who don’t believe that mass murderers are nice people, really? What about the majority who think paedophillia is a bad thing? Should we start considering these people as right in what they do just because they are not supported by the majority?

    Your comment is worthless.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 6:30 AM

  108. PatH 88, who says the poor need less than they have now? China can double their CO2 production (if, as you seem to be implying that CO2 production is necessarily bound to “having less” which is an asinine assumption you have not proven) and still be hugely behind the US production IN TOTAL. Not per-head, in total.

    All that needs to be done is the US to drop half their production of CO2.

    But then you will bleat on about how China needs to do more, wouldn’t you. If there’s someone else out there who thinks like that, please converse with Pat until you both agree on what should be done and THEN come back with the consensus opinion.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 6:37 AM

  109. Simon 86. So, are you willing to concede that your understanding of clouds is incomplete?

    You’ve been silent since then…

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 6:39 AM

  110. RodB 84/83, nope, it isn’t an ad-hominem pigeonholing if it’s true. I could call someone a foul-mouthed SOB and, if they ARE foul mouthed, this is not an ad hominem attack, merely truth.

    And surely labelling such people “skeptics” is likewise an ad-hominem attack, since you’re pigeonholing yourself and others under that banner. After all, you seem to assume that pigeonholing is necessarily an ad hominem issue and that IS a pigeonholing.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 6:43 AM

  111. simon abingdon writes:

    Since the properties and heights of clouds are continually changing and their worldwide effects are necessarily substantial, how are they to be convincingly modelled?

    Roughly following Kiehl and Trenberth 1997, my latest RCM uses three levels of clouds, high (ice), middle (water) and low (water), at levels 5, 11 and 17 of a 20-layer atmosphere equally divided by mass. Sky coverage is 20%, 9%, and 49%, respectively, giving a global average of 62% by random overlap. Mass paths are 0.009, 0.020 and 0.036 kilograms per square meter. I used the absorption coefficients from the Hadley Centre GCM — 65 square meters per kilogram for the ice clouds and 130 for the liquid water clouds, assumed to be uniform from 4 microns up. I had to make the cloud albedos quite low to match the Earth’s overall albedo.

    For an alternative scheme, see Manabe and Strickler 1964 and Manabe and Wetherall 1967.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Jan 2009 @ 8:10 AM

  112. Off topic, butsince this is a review… Is the statement from the CO2 post in ’07 regarding Gore’s CO2/Temp graph still accurate? We ARE seeing 9 degrees above normal in the Arctic…

    “simply extrapolating this correlation forward in time puts the Antarctic temperature in the near future somewhere upwards of 10 degrees Celsius warmer than present — rather at the extreme end of the vast majority of projections”

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 3 Jan 2009 @ 9:03 AM

  113. Re #102: my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century. Some of your
    arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy
    provision and population in the 21st century.

    China and India population is growing even though China is limited to a single
    offspring (will that ruin their genetic diversity at some point) and India is not
    but many of them live in quite bad conditions and hence large families are still
    quite common and so is the death rate of its young.

    Here is my point, the world is adopting the capitalist model of growth and
    prosperity. Capitalism adopts strange ways for dealing with energy and sees it as no
    more than a commodity to be bought and sold in supply and demand terms for as little
    as the market allows. Oil is precious, as is Gas and unfortunately coal. Before they
    were discovered only whale oil was used for lamps and possibly coal was burned and
    wood. Hence 1750 onwards saw an solid growth in global population.

    So when oil peaks and energy descent begins, I doubt hydrogen will be ready to fill
    in the gap, nor biofuels or algae biofuels etc. At possibly a 6% drop per year the
    world will be hit hard but at present at $45 a barrel we cannot even afford the
    projects that bring new fields and sources of oil online, at $147 it was looking
    good but it may have caused some of the recent USA housing mortgage crash that
    resulted in the recession.

    Are you arguing that oil is not a precious commodity and that business people will
    stop flying and holiday makers, that shipping will not stop too and western society
    will somehow be ok when it cannot afford to drive and our agricultural machinery.
    Governments etc will need to bring in emergency legislation and worst of oil, gas
    and coal will probably be converted and a lot of land too.

    The west does not live without its energy needs, when it has to it will ruin us. Our
    adaptation plans are non existent and peak oil could be up us from either limited
    flow rates, exhausted fields and the end of easy oil.

    Not of this is good news for climate change.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 3 Jan 2009 @ 10:47 AM

  114. Mark #109 “are you willing to concede that your understanding of clouds is incomplete”. I´ve already done so, but my own understanding of clouds is neither here nor there. It’s the scientific community’s incomplete understanding of clouds that is the point.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 3 Jan 2009 @ 11:25 AM

  115. Like some of the examples in your 2008 Year in Review (“All global warming has been erased”), I see numerous op-eds, letters, etc. in a variety of media outlets that do now accurately represent the science. Here are two fairly recent examples:

    Inconvenient thoughts on global warming;
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/35928324.html

    Dear Mr. Liberal:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/34609399.html

    I am greatly concerned that in the popular press I rarely see informed, reasoned responses to the issues raised by climate skeptics. I believe that an educated public is extremely important to create the political space needed for our legislators to take action, but that the information available often does a great disservice to this cause.

    I’m wondering if a coalition of climate scientists functioning as a type of educational rapid-response team wouldn’t be a workable idea? When climate skeptic op-eds appear, a group e-mail could go out, and hopefully in most instances a scientist whose expertise matches the op-ed could respond with a letter or op-ed to that media source. If there was a large enough pool of scientists the time commitment wouldn’t need to be that great.

    Better yet would be a proactive stance that saw climate scientists, and perhaps science writers, send numerous columns and letters to newspapers and magazines throughout the country explaining how the climate has warmed and cooled in past and why it is different now, what a climate forcing is, that no scientific consensus existed in the 70’s on global cooling, etc. Very fundamental issues are not understood by a large number of U.S. citizens.

    Comment by Terry Hansen — 3 Jan 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  116. Simon Abingdon, You seem to be of the club that believes fallacy that unless we understand everything, we understand nothing. Yes, clouds are an uncertainty. However, most of the evidence suggests that the net feedback is small and slightly positive.
    Moreover, modeling changable forcings does not represent a huge problem. In criminology, you follow the money; in physics, you follow the energy. It’s the net energy change that matters, not the contribution at any instant.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Jan 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  117. Simon 114, but you ARE stating that there’s something wrong with your understanding. And, since you said, and I quote:

    “As I understand it (not very well I admit) water vapour reinforces CO2 feedback, while water in other forms (droplets, ice-crystals etc) provides negative feedback.”

    that you are incorrect that clouds can only cool (provide negative feedback) IS a very pertinent thing to admit.

    Your inability to recognise that clouds can produce positive feedback makes your post #60 irrelevant. You must now retract your statement because it doesn’t say anything about AGW being wrong as your post of 60 implies.

    You are just as well off saying that since we can’t predict the price of tomatoes next week we cannot trust climate models.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 1:39 PM

  118. re 113, how can two parents producing one child each produce an increasing population?

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 1:39 PM

  119. Mark (110), how about if they were not, in fact, birthed by a German Shepherd??

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Jan 2009 @ 2:30 PM

  120. John Mashey # 70 wrote: “TimK and Alan Neale: can you point at some credible academic, peer-reviewed studies (likely by social scientists) that actually provide data to back up your claims about IT/CS people, especially in comparison with (for example) economists, business, or finance people?”

    There is another way for something to become accepted in the world of science. In the field performance and/or dominance in the market place of ideas.

    I.E. An invention or a series of inventions that are so radically superior to previous methods, that it quickly displaces ALL of them, dominates from that point on.

    If invention/techniques dramtically improves the efficiency of core industry and significantly accelerates the course of human history, (for better or worse), that person becomes a Nexus point.

    I accomplished it by adopting techniques used in other science fields, to radically improve modern operating systems/pace of Micro electronics development.

    Such cross breading between the fields of science rarely occurs in today’s IT world.

    Comment by TimK — 3 Jan 2009 @ 2:35 PM

  121. Re 113

    Alan: Re #102: “my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century.”

    To be polite, from my perspective it remains unclear what your point is. This current post is almost a non-sequitur in relation to what we’ve already discussed

    Alan: “Some of your arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy provision and population in the 21st century.”

    Really? In what way are they contradictory?

    Alan: ‘China and India population is growing even though China is limited to a single
    offspring (will that ruin their genetic diversity at some point) and India is not
    but many of them live in quite bad conditions and hence large families are still
    quite common and so is the death rate of its young.”

    What does this have to do with what’s already been said? China’s Population is projected to level off in the next 40 years (current growth rate .58 percent), while India’s (1.46 percent) is expected to surpass China in that time. Further, I’ve already discussed China, how their example is a problem for your contention re energy use and its byproduct – industrialization – equates to population growth, and how their one child policy predates their emergence as an industrial giant, causing further problems for you. Ditto India.

    Alan: “Oil is precious, as is Gas and unfortunately coal. Before they
    were discovered only whale oil was used for lamps and possibly coal was burned and
    wood. Hence 1750 onwards saw an solid growth in global population.”

    Again, I think you need to rethink this. The population of the planet was growing steadily long before oil use – the data is easy to find and rather obvious. There was no significant rise with the advent of oil, at least in terms of oil use being causation, only correlation. China is a perfect example of this understanding, a country that saw a large segment of its population growth without any real benefit of the cheap energy boom. You should peruse the U.N. report on World Population Prospects (2006) where you will find further evidence that population growth has no consistent correlation with the benefits of energy use as you characterized it in your first reply to me. The more plausible reason for population growth are simple numbers – more people, more breeding pairs. Again, the U.N. report seems to confirm this, as the countries with the highest fertility rates and projected birthrates are traditionally poor countries. (See intro pages 9 through 19) Once we hit 1.5 Billion, things tended to really accelerate. If anything, you’d have a better time arguing that the advent of cheap, available energy in developed countries contributed to the increase of lifespans and a reduction of infant mortality, which contribute to the ‘problem’ of overpopulation. And there is no denying a trickle-down effect in the shape of improved medicines and better food transport world-wide caused undeveloped countries to benefit as well, albeit in limited fashion.

    But we’d still be overpopulated with two billion less people on this planet due to higher infant mortality and lower life-expectancy, because populations would still grow and we’d still be facing issues related to sustainability.

    Again, nothing you are saying addresses my observation that the higher the degree of education and access to the benefits of living in a developed country, the lower the birthrate, the corollary being higher birthrates and population numbers having more to do with poverty and lack of access to resources and lifestyles common in developed countries, a proposition supported by the data I provided you.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 3 Jan 2009 @ 2:42 PM

  122. Simon:

    Do you yet have any thoughts on my #95? Specifically, will the bark beetles, mosquitoes, and kudzu stop moving poleward until cloud models are better?

    Comment by John Mashey — 3 Jan 2009 @ 3:07 PM

  123. re 118, How is China increasing its population if they are all reduced to single child. Maybe somethng to do with multiple generations being alive at the same time, the mortality rate being very low and people living longer. There is a lag in the population levelling and falling I believe. The dynamics change over time as the population ages out.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 3 Jan 2009 @ 3:09 PM

  124. Mark #117 “Your inability to recognise that clouds can produce positive feedback makes your post #60 irrelevant. You must now retract your statement because it doesn’t say anything about AGW being wrong as your post of 60 implies”

    In #60 I said “the effect of clouds on climate change is uncertain while well over half the surface of the planet is covered with clouds”. The statement is true.

    [Response: But devoid of implication, (and your other statement was just wrong). - gavin]

    Comment by simon abingdon — 3 Jan 2009 @ 4:18 PM

  125. Just one more vote for The Register for most consistently wrong media outlet. Their sceptical, point-and-laugh-at-the-fail attitude works really well when they stick to matters relating to computers. Shame, as since the two journalists most responsible (Lewis Page and Andrew Orlowski) started down that cul-de-sac El Reg’s credibility has been badly damaged.

    Comment by A. Simmons — 3 Jan 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  126. In re Alan @ 102:

    Re #102: my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century. Some of your
    arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy
    provision and population in the 21st century.

    This is a pretty common meme for people who are opposed to building out renewable / carbon-free energy sources. Renewable energy isn’t expensive, in an absolute sense, it is more expensive in a marginal cost sense. Making “green” decisions can save money and provide the same, or greater, standard of living.

    I used to turn up the temperature in my fridge to cut my electric bill. Now, with a far more energy efficient fridge, I keep it as cold as I want and still save money. Dittos for energy efficient lighting — now I leave the kitchen light on overnight for my stupid cat.

    It’s just a matter of making the right decisions. I’ve cut my electric consumption about 75% over the past two years, and am working on cutting it an additional 50% in the next year. I’ve not done that by cutting back my standard of living. It’s all been making better choices and unrelentingly looking for the next kilowatt hour to reduce.

    I’m watching a program right now — this woman talks about paying $120 a month for heating, versus $300 — where the house has geothermal HVAC. That’s reality today.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 3 Jan 2009 @ 5:16 PM

  127. Simon Abingdon, I am not sure that you fully appreciate the implications of uncertainty in the climate. First, feedbacks generally depend on temperature more than they would on things like CO2 concentration. If there is significant negative feedback from clouds, that would imply the current temperature range to be relatively stable. Unfortunately, the paleoclimate is replete with examples where temperatures went MUCH higher. Taken together, the evidence all points to a CO2 sensitivity of about 3 degrees C per doubling. If you dispute some of that evidence–e.g. paleoclimate–you loosen the constraint much more on the high end than on the low end. This significantly increases the risk posed by cimate change.
    The uncertainties are not your friend here. They do not provide a rationale for inaction. Quite the contrary. Since the empirical evidence and basic physics are sufficient to demonstrate the reality of climate change, greater uncertainty only increases the urgency to do address it quickly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Jan 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  128. Mark asks:

    > how can two parents producing one child each produce
    > an increasing population?

    Parents at what age, Mark? This should be obvious. Think about it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2009 @ 6:39 PM

  129. Hank, they only have one child. Does it matter their age?

    It doesn’t matter if the generation gap is small because in poorer countries the generation gap is about as small as biology allows.

    Think yourself

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 7:01 PM

  130. Re: 123, extended lifespan only increases in proportion to the extension. Are the chinese going to become immoral?

    Additionally, most of the increases in average age are in reduced infant mortality. Not too effective when you drop just one sprog.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jan 2009 @ 7:08 PM

  131. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2009/01/suggestion-20-seek-ways-to-end-culture.html

    “… Let me lay it on the line. We have one priority, above all others, because solving it will unleash our native aptitude at fixing every other problem. …

    That priority is to put a stop to the treason that is called “culture war” and get us back to talking to one another again, as grownups.
    … Insisting that both we and our neighbors cut out the sick habit of outrageous indignation, an addiction that makes fools of us and strawmen of our opponents.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2009 @ 7:58 PM

  132. > two parents producing one child each

    Ah, Mark means per each _couple_, not per each parent, which is the usual ideal, “replacement” numbers.

    I don’t recall how long the “one-child policy” supposedly would take to reduce China’s population; so much else is going on that I doubt anyone can foresee the outcome over the longer period.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(06)27222-7
    Determinants of High Sex Ratio among Newborns: A Cohort Study from Rural Anhui Province, China

    “… In the original cohort, the sex ratio at birth was 152 males to 100 females and in the supplemented cohort 159 males to 100 females, being similar to the sex ratios in the census data of the same townships. The risk of death for girls was almost three times that for boys during the first 24 hours of life….”

    Extrapolation boggles.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jan 2009 @ 8:58 PM

  133. #95 #122 John, that populations of flora and fauna migrate is an evolutionary commonplace. That some such migrations should be observed as progressing polewards as we emerge from the LIA is hardly remarkable. The importance of understanding the properties of clouds is that it would add a very substantial layer to our knowledge of the putative link between CO2 and global warming.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 7:09 AM

  134. #111 Barton, no doubt your model is an admirable piece of work. I’m surprised though that it does not include Cb clouds which often extend throughout the troposphere from sea level to the tropopause, nor the effect of cyclones or other weather patterns for example. What fresh insights do you expect your model to confer? Predictions of the worldwide incidence of thunderstorms and the electrical energies they generate, perhaps?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 7:20 AM

  135. Hank 132, however, you need as many people not dying this year that would have otherwise as being born that year to maintain static populations. An aging static population.

    Take a very simple model.

    People are born, live 70 years and die. Flat population curve. They have one child per couple (note: what’s the difference between two parents and a couple? Are there not two parents in a couple? Are you assuming rampant polygamism which is not sustainable since you only have so many women, you know and girl children tend to get discarded so as to have a boy to carry on the name) and this child happens between 15 and 25.

    1/2 x 1/7 of the population is added each 10 years. But 1/7 the population dies over that time. So half of the people who were to die because they passed 70 must continue to live. So now people die at 75. JUST TO MAINTAIN.

    10 years later, another 1/14th are born but 10/75th are dying. So they must now die after their 80th just to maintain.

    See where this is going? Immortal Chinese?

    And this is just to maintain.

    What about infertile couples?

    Etc.

    Any growth in population from longer life is linear AT BEST and only lasts until the population is at a level that biology lets happen. Less than a generation and you’re all out. Even the worst countries for young deaths will go from 55 years average age on death to 80 years, same as the first world.

    Rounding error.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Jan 2009 @ 7:21 AM

  136. Oh, and on the “younger parents”, since it takes four grandparents to produce one grandchild, you would need to halve the age of parenthood for two generations to have that as a significant effect and after that it stops.

    GP had kids at 50 (menopausal maximum near enough).
    Parents had kids at 25.
    GC can’t have kids at 12.5.

    And, as I said, poorer countries tend to have younger parents anyway. Heck, poorer families in the rich countries have younger parents too.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Jan 2009 @ 7:26 AM

  137. Mark, Keep in mind that population increases exponentially, but that there is a delay in the time dependence for the offspring to come to reproductive maturity. Moreover, there has been a tendency toward later parenthood in China. Moreover, lifespan in China and India have increased significantly. We are just starting to see China’s growth rate decline. It is projected that India will overtake China as the most populous nation by 2025.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jan 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  138. Ray #116 “clouds … the net feedback is small and slightly positive.”
    Not sure I understand “slightly”: could mean “occasionally positive, mostly negative”. Please clarify if you would.
    Ray #127 “If there is significant negative feedback from clouds, that would imply the current temperature range to be relatively stable. Unfortunately, the paleoclimate is replete with examples where temperatures went MUCH higher” What does “relatively stable” mean? Current temperatures don’t seem to be unstable, just gently warming at most. (And I can’t see how the paleoclimate evidence you refer to has any relevance to a theory which says AGW is happening now).

    Ray, I defer to your scientific knowledge, but I should like to remind you that science is about making predictions which are verifiable (or falsifiable) through real-life observation. In my opinion, the discipline of climatology has so far signally failed in this crucial respect.

    [Response: Really? So accurate predictions of the impact of Pinatubo made before they happened using climate models doesn't count (Hansen et al, 1992) ? Or the projections made in Hansen et al 1988? or predictions that the stratosphere would cool from the 1960s? or that relative humidity should be roughly constant subsequently validated by multiple observations? etc... Perhaps you might care to address why these aren't real predictions? - gavin]

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 10:27 AM

  139. Simon Abingdon, Gee for a phenomenon that wasn’t even global and only lasted a couple hundred years even in the Northern Hemisphere, you denialists sure get a lot of mileage out of the Little Ice Age. Given that the main causes of the LIA seem to have been slight decreases in solar activity and significant increases in volcanic activity, why do you suppose the recovery was so long. Do you realize what this portends for “warming in the pipeline” due to CO2 and therefore for climate sensitivity? Have you really thought this through?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jan 2009 @ 10:31 AM

  140. Re 121 and 126, Lots of people find population an issue in regard to AGW and resources of the fossil fuel kind. However your posts seems to be stating that global population is already too high and that it has relatively little to do with GHG emissions ?

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption

    The USA with a population of 300 million consumes around 20.5 million barrels per day and China around 7 million and hence population seems irrelevent, it must be something else that causes its use. The history of oil, prosperity, cultural norms and its price. It is the same for coal and gas for electricity and heating too I would state.

    Therefore in regard to AGW 2 ppmv per annum of CO2 emissions needs tackling and if the political and economic will exists then it can be achieved whilst maintaining our cultural norms of each country and even meeting future needs can be achieved.

    I doubt this personally at the present time due to the present lack of global political and economic will. Historically speaking the western countries have a bigger responsibility to cutting emissions and the rising countries less so but there present needs are greater energy growth wise. The west needs drastic cuts, 5% per annum starting asap and large scale renewable energy projects and alternative transport and heating methods are not as cost effective without CO2 taxation as fossil fuels are.

    Whatever alternatives arise around the world the strategy does as yet not exist and mistakes are already being made, namely biosfuels and the lack of coherent strategy for 4th generation nuclear power, CCS for coal, and the lack of efficiency projects.

    Its all a pipe dream at the moment even though the solutions might exist if the R&D goes ahead and find them.

    If either you two can tell me of the solutions you reckon will cut CO2 globally by 80% by 2050 then let me know.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 4 Jan 2009 @ 11:17 AM

  141. #138 Gavin “Perhaps you might care to address why these aren’t real predictions?”
    “predictions of the impact of Pinatubo made before they happened using climate models doesn’t count (Hansen et al, 1992)”
    Pinatubo erupted in June 1991.
    “the projections made in Hansen et al 1988?”
    Dr Hansen defined three scenarios and retrospectively chose the one
    closest to what actually happened.
    “relative humidity should be roughly constant subsequently validated by multiple observations”
    The link given is to a single paper authored by three collaborators from the same university.

    [Response: You are beyond reach. Please think a little before posting. - gavin]

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 11:52 AM

  142. #139 Ray You appear to be referring to my #133 posted in response to John Mashey. In which case delete “as we emerge from the LIA”.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  143. @141:

    “The link given is to a single paper authored by three collaborators from the same university”

    …Wow. That’s a really good counter-argument right out of the WUWT playbook. And I thought you had something important to say about the results of the study re: falsification about predictions…

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 4 Jan 2009 @ 12:47 PM

  144. #141 I unreservedly apologise for and withdraw the statement about Dr Hansen made in this post.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  145. Simon, the problem is you haven’t read the basic information, so you keep asking more complicated questions. You can’t learn from the answers you get because you don’t understand basic information.

    – Papers are written before their publication date; read the cites.
    – People lie about Hansen’s work; you’ve fallen for one of the old, old lies, still circulating; you can look that up.
    – Observations means sources of data: not the authors who wrote a paper but the references they cite.

    It’s a problem kind of like this illustrates:
    http://abstrusegoose.com/strips/computer_programming_101.JPG

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jan 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  146. I tried. I failed. Thank you Gavin, Ray, Hank, Barton and all you well-informed people for indulging my presumption. I wish you well.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Jan 2009 @ 1:50 PM

  147. Further Re 113

    “Are you arguing that oil is not a precious commodity and that business people will stop flying and holiday makers, that shipping will not stop too and western society will somehow be ok when it cannot afford to drive and our agricultural machinery.”

    Straw man. You are the one injecting the ‘precious commodity’ claptrap into the conversation; it is not a term I used or inferred. More important, the characterization is immaterial. What I am arguing is that 1) oil, natural gas, etc. are FINITE commodities and 2) their byproducts (pollution, GHGs) have reached a point where changing the way we produce energy is either inevitable, or we’re going to see a real mess on our hands. (Some would argue we already have a real mess on our hands, even if we miraculously stopped using oil and its byproducts overnight, and I can’t say I can disagree with them.)

    I’m not suggesting flying stops, only that the means by which we fly does. (Think Dirigibles, for example – the technology is much improved over 80 years ago.) All that is required is a little imagination and quite a bit of adaptation – and we are nothing if not an adaptive species. Put another way, one of the key components to adapting to the future is the understanding that the pace of life must change. The real problem with the reluctance to eliminate jet air travel (aside from short-term economic considerations) is related to time, not the ability to transport people and things. I occasionally travel for business purposes, and in every case such travel could have been either eliminated in favor of teleconferencing (which my company is doing with increasing frequency), or I could have taken longer to get there and still get the job done. We live in a wireless world; we can work and travel at the same time thanks to mobile devices.

    As for holiday travel, I refer you again to the question I have asked twice and you have studiously failed to answer: if it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?

    What amazes me is how much people seem to think things should remain static when the very example of what they’ve witnessed in their lives show things are constantly changing. Fact is we may see a new social shift back to the way things were before cheap travel, when nuclear families tended to live in geographically close proximity. Maybe not. But things are going to change, like it or not, whether we do nothing, or get on with the hard work of adapting to the future.

    Finally, your fixation on “western” society ignores the fact that in terms of practicality, the West’s claim on the World’s resources is specious, at best, particularly given the emergence of the Pacific Rim industrial countries, China in particular, India and even Brazil as developing industrial countries. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, and they can afford to pay for it. So what do we do? Go to war over resources – an option that guarantees no winners, or recognize we have to change the way we do things.

    If the former, game over. So will we be rational and work to save ourselves?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Jan 2009 @ 2:28 PM

  148. e 145–

    LOL!

    Nobody said epistemology is easy. . . but starting at the beginning is helpful. (As Julie Andrews has been known to point out.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Jan 2009 @ 2:33 PM

  149. Re 140 –

    Alan: Re 121 and 126, Lots of people find population an issue in regard to AGW and resources of the fossil fuel kind.

    This is imprecise. Overpopulation is a total resource problem – not just energy, but water, food, pollution, biodiversity etc. AGW is a byproduct of growing populations and concurrent use of fossil fuels – a pollutant.

    Alan: “However your posts seems to be stating that global population is already too high and that it has relatively little to do with GHG emissions?”

    Really? Wherever do you get that from?

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption

    Alan: “The USA with a population of 300 million consumes around 20.5 million barrels per day and China around 7 million and hence population seems irrelevent, it must be something else that causes its use. The history of oil, prosperity, cultural norms and its price. It is the same for coal and gas for electricity and heating too I would state.”

    Your argument is a non-sequitur – and does nothing to support your contention in Post 55, which is what we’ve been discussing – at least from my end. In truth, it’s growing increasingly difficult to ascertain where you think you’re going with this – your responses are taking on the quality of moving targets – lots of pronouncements, incomplete data, very little substance.

    For example, you left out the part where China becomes the largest emitter of GHGs by 2009.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/business/worldbusiness/07pollute.html?ex=1320555600&en=bc1f15d749d2b1d0&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    And population is FAR from irrelevant, (just not relevant to your original response to me) given as well over 1/3rd of the world’s population is currently working overtime to attain a standard of living comparable to the West’s. China’s energy growth is moving along at a maddening pace – projections of economic growth for that country through 2030 are 6.5% – the highest in the world, as detailed in EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2008, Chpt. 1:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/world.html

    Other reports suggest 7% to 8%. The full report is here:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html

    Oh, and the history of commerce predates the discovery of oil by several millennia – you might want to look that up.

    Alan: “I doubt this personally at the present time due to the present lack of global political and economic will.”

    You are wandering afield

    Again, aside from regurgitating something I said earlier, if not in so many words, why is this relevant, outside of a discussion of the inability of political entities acting in the self-interest of their populations (and/or their own hold on power)? This does nothing to support your original contention, which is what we’re supposedly discussing re post 55. “The planet might be overpopulated but that is due to fossil fuel usage and its energy density and energy return on its investment required.” In fact, you’re not directly responding to anything that is said to you. Why is that?

    Alan: “Historically speaking the western countries have a bigger responsibility to cutting emissions and the rising countries less so but there present needs are greater energy growth wise.”

    The ‘rising’ countries’ ‘needs’ are driven by the global economy: the West’s desire for cheap goods and those countries providing the cheap goods desire – in large part – to create a lifestyle comparable to what the West has enjoyed over the past half-century. One interesting byproduct of this is China’s recognition that it is too dependent upon the West – particularly the U.S. – to sustain its economic growth and has been looking in the past couple of years to develop markets outside of the West in Asia, Africa and South America to reduce that dependency. The current economic downturn is likely to heighten their resolve in this regard.

    Alan: “Whatever alternatives arise around the world the strategy does as yet not exist and mistakes are already being made, namely biosfuels and the lack of coherent strategy for 4th generation nuclear power, CCS for coal, and the lack of efficiency projects.
    Its all a pipe dream at the moment even though the solutions might exist if the R&D goes ahead and find them.”

    So what are you trying to say? Just give up and conduct business as usual?

    Alan: “If either you two can tell me of the solutions you reckon will cut CO2 globally by 80% by 2050 then let me know.”

    Question begging – and it remains the wrong question. Alan, if you’ve been paying attention, there is a wealth of solutions out there. Europe, Japan and China understand this – they’ve been developing alt energy solutions for years now and are in many ways far ahead of the curve of the U.S., whose outgoing administration has worked against the development of alt energy. Energy security is a national security issue, and the development of a viable and robust alt energy industry and infrastructure are realistic and necessary to the United States’ ability to maintain economic security. Put another way, we can either develop the industry now, or pay others for it down the road.

    Your question echoes the fallacy you engaged earlier and I responded to in #121 re not being ‘ready’. Imagine a world where President Kennedy’s advisors convinced him we didn’t have a solution in place when he proposed we would put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade? Ditto the Manhatten Project and just about every technological challenge we’ve faced, particularly challenges intertwined with crisis. If anything, the real problem we face is underscored by what you seem to be inferring – it’s too hard, or we don’t need to address things right now. One consistent behavior in humans is that while we tend to be good at responding to threats after they’ve become impossible to ignore, we have a poor track record when it comes to responding to threats before they manifest themselves. And the problem this presents in relation to AGW and GHGs is the likelihood is strong that once their influence on our climate becomes undeniably evident, it will be to late to respond.

    The point is, in the real world, we don’t have a choice. We don’t have the luxury of giving up before we started because it’s just too hard, there are too many obstacles or other such nonsense. But it seems clear from your postings that your answer to my question, asked more than once and never directly answered, is you don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to sacrifice for the future.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Jan 2009 @ 2:49 PM

  150. Re #149, it is not me who does not want to be inconvenienced but everyone else pretty much. Is the world consuming less, does the IEA or EIA tell us that we need less energy in th future, err no, we need 50% more I believe. From 14 TW now to around 20 TW come 2030. Oil needs to grow to 100-120 mbpd, gas and coal to increase to.

    it is as James Hansen states, we have 0.8-1.0C now another 0.4C in the thermal lag of oceans and another 0.5C in the presnt emitting infrastructure. Are China and Inida not building coal fired power, are not 70 million vehicles of petrol and diesel not built every year and is gas usage via LNG means falling? No, it is not as yet happenning and the plans that you are looking into are obviously a little cuckoo by all accounts.

    Population is too high but not an issue with regard to energy as everyone besides the USA (the one we need to) has the solutions but is not implementing them as yet because ?

    More input on your part required. Population is required, to me you just sound like a optimistic. I agree that I have wandered a little but the GHG emissions are rising, not falling globally and hence our struggle to agree a big deal is getting more ominous but as yet we are not nearer.

    once again what is the solution please ? what is affordable ? what is technological feasible. From what i have read over the past two years little is implemented but much is talked about.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 4 Jan 2009 @ 3:22 PM

  151. Ray, 137, however, that exponential rate really does require more than one child per couple. It is only really exponential when it’s more than 2 children per parent. Anything less than that and the exponent is limited by other activities such as “increasing age before death” and “having kids younger”.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Jan 2009 @ 5:31 PM

  152. re 150

    Okay, look, you are really all over the place, and I’m not interested in discussion or debate with someone who continually shifts the goalposts re the conversation. The more you post, the less comprehensible you become. You’ve done nothing to actually address rebuttals to your original contention re the relationship between population growth and energy growth, instead flying off on increasingly odd tangents. Put another way, you are wasting my time, so sans anything on your part actually related to what we were discussing, and given your unwillingness to coherently address specific responses to you, I see no point in continuing what is, in essence, a fruitless exercise.

    Have a better day…

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Jan 2009 @ 6:31 PM

  153. Oh, one final remark re 150 – Alan, I am anything but an optimist re the outlook for us in terms of sustainability.

    If you were actually paying attention to what i have been commenting on and about, you might have caught on to that little detail. My pessimism was, after all, the underlying theme of the first post you responded to, and much of what I had to say thereafter…

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Jan 2009 @ 6:40 PM

  154. Mark, actually no. The rate is a product of the cohort having children and the fertility rate. Even when the latter drops below 1, the former can still keep the rate from declining for awhile. True, it may not be exponentially increasing, but it will still increase for awhile.
    The other thing to consider is that when population actually starts to decrease, you have big problems to contend with there–not just aging population, but deflation… In the Middle Ages, declining population was one of the things that led to serfdom in Europe.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jan 2009 @ 6:50 PM

  155. I wanna play too re “Jon”.
    dilbert 10/27/06

    Comment by Doug Mackie — 4 Jan 2009 @ 9:18 PM

  156. In re 140:

    There are several factors to consider, regarding the link you provided:

    1). There is no room for growth in demand because supply is going to do nothing but go down from now until forever. If countries try to increase production anyway, the oil fields will be damaged and long term production will suffer. They are damned if they do, and they are damned if they do anyway.

    2). Fossil fuels are cheaper at the margins at the present time, and that’s all. There are many sources of energy which are not that much more expensive which are available for building out right now. The good news is that these technologies are getting cheaper and more plentiful while fossil fuels are getting more expensive and more scarce.

    3). I’ve personally cut my consumption from the grid by some obscene amount, and that includes after buying an electric motorcycle and charging it on a regular basis. When I buy an electric car next year, if my grid consumption goes up, I know how to make more — the value of electricity for transportation is far in excess of the cost of making it using renewable resources. The corollary is that anyone who buys a gasoline-only powered vehicle today is an idiot.

    All of this is available now.

    (reCaptcha sez: “dined recovery”. Walk around the block?)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 Jan 2009 @ 2:30 AM

  157. Ray 154. For how long? Take a look at my extra-simple example in post #135 and the one in #136.

    Unless the people were dying off ding-dong in adult and middle age, there’s no change. Kids dying is the major reason for low average ages in the developing world and if you only allowed one child, this doesn’t affect population growth figures by being completely eradicated. People of an age older than the usual first-child production age are a short term addition to the population and past a certain age, there’s no more headroom for growth.

    2 parents producing one child is going to produce a linear increase in population AT BEST and only for the very short term. Worse, where only one child is allowed, girl children are killed off or aborted so that the family name goes on (the reason why girl children mortality is so high is killing off unneeded girls). But the population replacement is based on the female population. Which is worse in most of the indian and chinese cultures that you state are growing.

    They may be increasing population but if they are then they are increasing the life of their people MASSIVELY to make a difference from the extra-low population replacement.

    For people who normally make a good point, you’re failing here. Especially Hank’s pithy (and wrong) “at what age” quip. developing worlds already have a low age for first pregnancy. The body can’t drop a sprog much earlier in the face of merely better nutrition.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jan 2009 @ 3:43 AM

  158. Re #152 and #153. My apologies for being all over the place and less then a good arguer and dicusser with you on this occassion. I have just read your original post again and looked at mine. I thought there was a deep connection regarding population, the increase in it since the active use of fossil fuels and the onset of the industrial revolution as it has increased yields of crops via automation and the making of inorganic fertilisers, provided large scale warming of homes and our abilty to build them more quickly and more of them, large scale sanitation which has reduced infant mortality and medical science which has increased longevity (2.5 years for every decade that passes as I have read) and other factors too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

    The population of Europe and North America does seem to have grown significantly since the times I mentioned (1850 for 1.2 billion) and our useage of oil, gas and coal is reflected in the population growth. Now that China and India want to grow with us as you have stated and I agree with but there is not the fossil fuels to fuel them to western levels of prosperity still economically and politically could spell trouble for the climate.

    Sorry for the optimistic accusation. I believe that we agree in the main and it has kept me awake to. I must have posted something inherently repugnant, sorry.

    My apologies.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 5 Jan 2009 @ 5:29 AM

  159. simon abingdon writes:

    #111 Barton, no doubt your model is an admirable piece of work. I’m surprised though that it does not include Cb clouds which often extend throughout the troposphere from sea level to the tropopause, nor the effect of cyclones or other weather patterns for example. What fresh insights do you expect your model to confer? Predictions of the worldwide incidence of thunderstorms and the electrical energies they generate, perhaps?

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. My model is simply and solely to predict the mean global annual surface temperature of an entire planet. I wasn’t even trying to predict regional weather.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Jan 2009 @ 7:31 AM

  160. Mark, you (in reply to the earlier mention of China’s one-child policy, which I’d missed) wrote about a couple having one child “each” (meaning one child per each couple). The same words often refer to 1:1 replacement (one child for each parent). The confusion continued from that point.

    There’s no way from the outside we can tell what China’s policy is going to end up accomplishing; it was a desperate attempt. Lots of excess soldiers or lots of undocumented women, or both, is my guess.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jan 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  161. Mark, I agree that increased longevity gives rise to a short-term bump in population, but we’re still in the short term. Keep in mind that the “one-child” policy coincides with increased use of antibiotics, improved nutrition…, all of which decrease the mortality side of the equation. That China’s population increase is slowing is beyond doubt, or India would not be about to overtake them as the most populous country. That China’s population will take a long time to start decreasing is also beyond doubt, and a lot can happen policy-wise in that interim.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Jan 2009 @ 10:51 AM

  162. FurryCatHerder, there is no way you can say with any certainty that fossil fuel supply will never increase from today. It’s more likely than not. None-the-less I would agree that the possibility of that needs to be considered in any future energy planning.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Jan 2009 @ 11:13 AM

  163. Rod,

    It’s far more likely that supply will decline, and likely decline very rapidly due to economic issues, than that it will increase.

    There are a lot of unconventional sources — oil sands, shale, coal to liquids, etc. — that can be used for decades (and perhaps, centuries) to come, but the price is going to continue to climb, all the while renewables continue to fall in price. We’re going to reach a point, real soon now, where fossil fuels are more expensive at the margins, and when that happens demand will be destroyed very rapidly.

    That’s the equation — rising fossil fuel supply costs against falling renewable energy costs — that is going to drive supply in the near term. The past year proved that demand is much more elastic than in prior years. Unless oil prices climb dramatically, capital for further exploration and production is going to dry up.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 Jan 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  164. Ray, 161, I suppose the issue is that what you see as “a long time” I don’t see as such.

    Hank, 160. Fair enough. No worries. Ta.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jan 2009 @ 1:55 PM

  165. PS to 164. (I should wait to see if another thought turns up before posting, maybe), I would suggest that if your proposal of how the increase is happening in #161 is correct, the increase in population is purely from better health care. Single child has naff all to do with it. Increases (and I would posit they are slight) are *despite* that law, not because of it (as was the intimation of it in #113: “China and India population is growing even though China is limited to a single offspring (will that ruin their genetic diversity at some point”.

    Since the increase is because of better healthcare, why bring in the irrelevant (to an *increase*) single offspring?

    Conflation that adds words to at best no effect (at worst, confusion or even attribution) is bad.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jan 2009 @ 2:02 PM

  166. Alan Neale @100 asks: “Can planes fly on something else, can cars, can houses and building be heated and we all can go to work as per usual.”

    Yes, planes are already flying on bio-oils, cars can already run on bio-oils, electricity and hydrogen, houses and buildings are already being heated–and cooled–by ground-source geothermal heat pumps and deep-water cooling loops, and millions of people already go to work on electrically powered public transit.

    Any other relevant questions?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 5 Jan 2009 @ 4:51 PM

  167. Jim, just one quick mitigation of what sounds like a rose-colored assessment (I fear I might have mixed or otherwise messed up my metaphor here… Sorry.). There are major technical hurdles for bio-fuels to handle the current airplane fleet, not the least of which they work poorly at cold altitudes. I wouldn’t totally discard your assessment out, though.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Jan 2009 @ 6:14 PM

  168. Most irrelevant math problem invoked by a maybe mathematically competent would-be “skeptic”:

    Ross McKitrick bringing up the lack of an existence proof for solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation given very general boundary conditions in his “Letter to a policymaker“.

    Comment by Ben Kalafut — 5 Jan 2009 @ 6:40 PM

  169. Rod,

    There are already bio-fuels that are flight rated as well as sources of bio-generated crude oils that can be refined into the various grades of jet and ICE fuels.

    Really — the hard problems have been solved. It’s now just a matter of economies of scale and people deciding that the added expense is worth the long term security between now and economies of scale playing out.

    Several PV manufacturers have passed the 1GW per year point and each GW of PV production is 4 or 5 GWH of installed power, minimum. For two axis tracker systems insolation goes up dramatically. It’s going to be really neat when “covered parking” becomes the norm because the “covering” is an energy producing feature of the car park. There are some other patent-pending things myself and colleagues have been working on that will work to dramatically stabilize the electric grid — which is has been a big complaint from the utilities about wind and solar.

    My “standard of living” has dramatically improved in my household since I started taking an axe to my electric bill. I now have wide screen flat panel TVes in the major rooms of my house, I put my old (2 channel) stereo back in service, along with the CD changer and a DVD player. More nice gadgets, less electric consumption. The electric motorcycle has cut my gasoline from about 3 fillups a month to about 1 a month (ignoring roadtrips).

    Tell me again what these problems are, because I’m not seeing them.

    (reCaptcha sez: “Lending tumultu-” Credit market meltdown?)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 Jan 2009 @ 8:16 PM

  170. Re ““Can planes fly on something else”

    Yes indeed. The electric airplane takes off: http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/08/the-company-cla.html

    Beyond that, you might think a bit about whether airplanes are necessarily the best possible solution for all transport needs. A modern airliner may be able to fly say Los Angeles to San Francisco in an hour, but when the passengers spend an hour getting to & from the airport, two hours in security & boarding, another hour taxiing & holding for traffic, and another hour trying to find their baggage… Well, other alternatives start looking a lot more attractive. That increasing fuel costs increases the price of a ticket only makes the alternatives more attractive still.

    Comment by James — 5 Jan 2009 @ 10:12 PM

  171. Re 167: Furry addressed that concern, Rod, but frankly I don’t see mass air travel as vitally necessary to the preservation of civilization anyway. By choice I have not flown anywhere since 1995 and it has caused me no hardship at all, and I can live perfectly well without the exotic food items that are air freighted daily to my local super market.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 5 Jan 2009 @ 11:06 PM

  172. “Most clueless US politician talking about climate change”
    “Most worn out contrarian cliche: The “Gore Effect””

    Climate science is now influencing government policy in order to influence climate. Whether you like it or not, this is no longer just a debate about science, it’s a debate about philosophy.

    Humans evolved because of past extinction events. Something else suffered. Nature is cruel.

    People argue that because recent warming is due to human activity, it will have dire, unintended consequences. But what if a similar (but natural) catastrophe threatened the existence of all multi -cellular organisms, and we had the technology to minimise its impact? We would be interfering with nature, an unintended consequence, denying species evolution.

    Past civilisations have collapsed because of climate change. Nature is no less cruel today. In spite of climate science, policies regarding climate will inherently be based on belief. After all, isn’t the future is unknown?

    Comment by isotopious — 6 Jan 2009 @ 12:56 AM

  173. Re #166 and #170,

    Come off it – on biofuels, it was one engine for a little flight. Biofuels are environmental trouble and that has been well written about since countries have committed to it in its present limited energy form at the expense of food and limited CO2 emissions mitigation relative to oil.

    The electric plane written about at wired. Hmmmm, lets not take that too seriously as yet.

    I am sure that the car has a future on something else but when it comes ot road freight etc its quite doubtful until major breakthroughs are made.

    Take hydrogen, it is currently made from natural gas and coal by a steam reformation process and that presently limits it. So lets use electrolysis shall we but the energy return is limited at present and hence going oil replacement is not presently a possibility. Hence hydrogen is a decade away for one of many still severe issues with it including eliminating platinum in the fuel cell.

    It was even suggested that hydrogen makes current cars more efficient but not after you have made it.

    Back to the decades away drawing board at present for all transport.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 6 Jan 2009 @ 7:00 AM

  174. Isotopious, Your post is analogous to a defendant justifying a driveby shooting by saying that violence was necessary to win World War II. The difference is that it is us who have our finger on the trigger of a mass extinction event, and we, or at least our civilization, could be one of the casualties. Thanks, but I’ll cast my vote for sustainable human civilization.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:18 AM

  175. Alan Neale, Transport is indeed one of the most daunting unresolved issues for future sustainability. It is not, however, insoluble, and there is considerable low-hanging fruit to be had in improving energy efficiency of our current transport system. By all means, let’s keep folks working at the drawing board for the advances we’ll need in coming decades, but let’s not be blinded by that challenge to what we can do right now.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:21 AM

  176. Ray wrote

    I’m with you, Ray. Humans have always “tampered with nature” in order to serve our own ends. The challenge–an increasingly complex one, as our collective capabilities increase–is to do so in ways that don’t become self-defeating.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:35 AM

  177. Re #175, yer we can all drive 60 MPG cars for around a decade now. That explains the USA’s 22 MPG average then and Europes 32 MPG and who knows for China, India and Russia etc. So lets have a dose of reality shall we and not a trip down fantasy road. Until oil goes to $200 a barrel permanently people probably unless taxed to do so and rewarded by going economical it does not look like it is hapenning.

    I wait with baited breath but longing for humanity in its capatalist frenzy to go green is a lot of nonsense and does Ford, GM and Chrysler make good cars in the USA economy wise. no they are rubbish relative to European ones. Lazily made with huge heavy crap engines.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:11 AM

  178. 177:

    Alan: Re #175, yer we can all drive 60 MPG cars for around a decade now. That explains the USA’s 22 MPG average then and Europes 32 MPG and who knows for China, India and Russia etc.

    Not to nitpick, but this is an example of why discussions with you go nowhere. This is an incredibly random and incomplete observation. You do nothing to actually explain how these essentially unrelated statements are connected in even a cursory fashion. Sagan references this as the rhetorical fallacy of the excluded middle, but even in this case it is unclear you even understand what it is you are saying in any meaningful fashion.

    Alan: “Until oil goes to $200 a barrel permanently people probably unless taxed to do so and rewarded by going economical it does not look like it is hapenning.”

    Yet people are driving less. The reduction in oil prices has not resulted in an increase in driving. Why? Economic downturn, for one thing. Once economies start emerging from this mess, odds are very strong oil prices will once again resume its upward march. Again, as I observed earlier, you are viewing the world from a static perspective and ignoring anything being said to you that underscores the fallacies of the positions it appears you are supporting.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:31 AM

  179. First, grateful thanks to Gavin and colleagues for all their work in 2008, here and elsewhere. It is greatly appreciated by many – don’t let the bastards denialists grind you down!

    On biofuels, I have been extremely sceptical, but recently came across this site: http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html – which hdoes not look obviously kooky to me. Anyone with appropriate technical know-how able and willing to comment on it?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  180. Alan, I fail to see where I have engaged in fantasy at all. I have merely pointed out that there is low-hanging fruit–a statement that your diatribe on gas mileage only serves to confirm.
    If human beings are, as you seem to believe, unreasoning sheep, then indeed we deserve the extinction toward which we are headed. I don’t believe this, and I do believe that the combination of education and a rational policy that rewards responsible behavior can change behavior.
    Moreover, I would contend that reminding people that there are actions we can take now that will buy time in the future is a very realistic strategy–much moreso than yours of equating difficulty with impossibility.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 10:10 AM

  181. Re #178, Dear JS, that is your opinion although a well educated one by all accounts the way you are addressing me. Lets forget the recession (it will be over and BAU will resume), Humanity is driving more overall because there are more vehicles year on year. This is one of the reasons why global oil consumption is growing by 2% per year and even a recession will not dent that by much. If we leave driving to the masses regardless of AGW education then until the alternatives and economically cheaper modes of personal transport appear (lets forget the motorbike shall we) oil will rule until it is too expensive for anything except necessary travel. Then where is the alternative but obviously I am spouting a fallacy here, one that cannot be an educated opinion from your perspective. Oil will not spiral upwards in price anytime before a suitable alternative is available eh? Be nice but I doubt it.

    Re #180, Physics is a bit nasty when it comes to energy, hence why we tap into millions of years of the free stuff rather than the every day stuff from the Sun and the earths core. The energy density of oil, gas and coal is very good, so good in fact that when oil was first tapped it was around 100:1 ratio but that has now dropped globally to around 14:1 and hence its getting more expensive to bring new field online and different forms of it (tar sands). Coal and gas are still not approaching peak as yet and hence it will be a while before their price potentially spirals upwards. For me this is the only way that people will learn and drive less but what about freight. Thundering trucks and workers vans are a necessity and not a luxury, if oil spirals upwards consider our economy in a crisis before a suitable replacement is developed. Even if Hydrogen or electric vehicles are available en masse it wil take 50 years before we all drive them and the infrastrcture is as large as oil presently is. Oops, too late.

    I heard that education on alcohol should make people drink less but it does not work (well not in the UK) and hence its unlikely to work in other fields maybe either. I also recently read that the price of oil coming down due to the stock markets impression of the recession is getting some people to purchase SUV’s again. No suprise there then.

    Economics rule people hearts and heads and not AGW or science.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 6 Jan 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  182. FurryCatHerder, biomass fuel for planes is doable, but it is far from easy. According to New Scientist, the biomass growing area for 2007 fuel requires from (equivalent to) all of Ireland to almost all of western Europe, depending on the biomass source. I agree there is good evidence that biomass-sourced fuel can be made to work at cold high altitudes. Though I’ll let ladies go first and you can take the first transatlantic flight with it and hope the effort to keep it from gelling works. ;-)

    I was referring to the physical discovery and/or development to increase the oil supply, which I think is more likely than not. Your point that the supply might stagnate if the economics deriving from alternative fuels is such that the demand for oil will decrease and hence the producers won’t feel justified in investing oodles of money to get that new supply (whew!) has merit.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Jan 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  183. Alan Neale says, “Economics rule people hearts and heads and not AGW or science.”

    Alan, Actually, there is plenty of evidence that sensible policy combined with education can make a difference. Drunk driving is a lot less common now in the US than it was 30 years ago. People are less likely to just pour oil down a drain than before, and there is even anecdotal evidence that a Prius is a better “chick magnet” than a Porche. Doctors do wash their hands now before surgery–something they did not do 150 years ago.

    Again, you seem to equate difficult with impossible. This might make you feel better about your own inaction, but I don’t think it is particularly honorable. We have choices. We can try to make things better, or we can watch things get worse. History tends to favor those who tried to improve things. Even when they fail, their effort is more honorable than the inaction of a thousand cynics thinking they are wise in their complacency.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 12:50 PM

  184. Jim E., (171), that is just too pat to be a viable solution. In effect it is answering the charge that mitigation will materially affect our standards of living by saying simply that we don’t need our current standard. There are folks who, of course, would vehemently disagree that they don’t need to fly anyway. Or on the other hand you could make the same superficially logical case that we don’t really need trains, busses, cars, or trucks either; there’s nothing they do that a good horse(s) and wagon can’t do.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Jan 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  185. RodB 184 you haven’t said why mitigation would materially affect our standards of living *adversely*.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Jan 2009 @ 1:23 PM

  186. Re #173: “…but when it comes ot road freight etc its quite doubtful until major breakthroughs are made.”

    I think part of the problem is that you’re looking at the problem far too narrowly. You seem to assume that the current practice of large amounts of goods being shipped on diesel-powered trucks as the only possible way to do things, when it’s instead the a consequence of past economic & political decisions such as cheap oil, the interstate highway system, railroad featherbedding, etc. This tunnel vision limits you to seeing the only possible alternative as finding some non-CO2 power source for those trucks.

    If instead you take a broader view, and think about changing the background, then the optimal transport solution changes. Raise the cost of truck transport, and rail looks like a better alternative. Electrify the railroads (many European railways are electric now, so no new technology needed), and you decouple the cost of freight from the price of oil. Then build nuclear/solar/wind plants to power those electric railroads, and you’ve eliminated a good chunk of the CO2 emissions from transport.

    Comment by James — 6 Jan 2009 @ 1:33 PM

  187. Re 184, Rod, Nope, air transport is not the same as trains, busses, cars and trucks at all. Heavier-than-air flight is totally dependent on energy-dense hydrocarbon fuels. It simply does not have the viable alternatives that land and sea surface transport does. To be sure, there certainly are large numbers of people who would vehemently disagree that they don’t need to fly anyway, but that does not mean that they actually need to fly. The vast number of flights are not made for compelling need, but rather out of desire and for convenience. I seriously doubt that the number of people who actually have a compelling need to fly would be a problem in terms of fossil fuel use.

    This notion that adapting to mitigation must adversely affect our standards of living is a hollow protest, given that European living standards are not materially noticeably lower than North American living standards, despite considerably lower European per-capita CO2 emissions. And even if adapting to mitigation (or to climate change itself) should adversely affect our standards of living it is not clear that would mean hardship or deprivation, given our place at the top of the consumption heap.

    Captcha remembers: Order existed

    Comment by Jim Eager — 6 Jan 2009 @ 1:53 PM

  188. Re #183. maybe but oil demand is not falling and hence as yet the 300 million people of the USA and the 450 million of the EU 27 aint on board just yet. As for my own inaction, hmmm, hard to know what to say to that really but no one else is as yet. Give people the cost effective options (not yet though) and they might make a change. The Prius is no such think as you say. Its only there because the yanks don’t drive dielels.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 6 Jan 2009 @ 3:11 PM

  189. #174
    “The difference is that it is us who have our finger on the trigger of a mass extinction event, and we, or at least our civilization, could be one of the casualties.”

    Unscientific dogmatic belief.

    Comment by isotopious — 6 Jan 2009 @ 5:42 PM

  190. isotopious opines, but why just opine when you can look this stuff up?

    Surely you’d like to check what you believe rather than just proclaiming your belief that it’s not real.

    Sure, Ray could have done that for you, but would you believe some guy on a blog? Why not check for yourself and figure out if it’s really happening?

    You know how to Google, right? You’ll find, e.g., this:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2005.04.022

    Don’t forget to click the “related articles” link — always check whether you’ve found an outlier or a mainstream idea. NO Wisdom button, that’s up to you.

    When you see something like this, it’s a second clue:

    5,344 Articles Related To
    Fifty millennia of catastrophic extinctions after human contact
    Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 20, Issue 7, July 2005, Pages 395-401

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jan 2009 @ 7:28 PM

  191. Isotopius, the evidence supports it–though we cannot, as some (dogmatically) demand, “prove” it.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Jan 2009 @ 7:34 PM

  192. Golly Ned, Isotopious, is that what passes for argument on your planet? Dismissing an argument with three whole words? And how would you have me substantiate the risk posed by climate change when you obviously haven’t taken even the most cursory glance at the science?
    That’s OK. By all means, continue to be an ignorant food tube.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:18 PM

  193. #174 Ray

    The mass extinction event you speak of probably started a couple of thousand years ago and may only partly involve humans.

    At any rate, the human contribution to it probably began with our development of agriculture and only lastly is culminating with the green house gases we are pumping into the atmosphere.

    Would you like to return to hunting and gathering?

    Comment by Jim Cross — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:23 PM

  194. Gavin wrote: 138 “[Response: Really? So accurate predictions of the impact of Pinatubo made before they happened using climate models doesn’t count (Hansen et al, 1992)?”

    Gavin, aren’t you selling mainstream science short?

    In 1896, Svante Arrehnius’s calculations (AMBIO used the word “model” in its February 1997 edition) projected global warming spacial, diurnal and and seasonal trends which have been remarkedly accurate.

    His equations (and direct words) projected with increased atmopsheric carbon dioxide:

    1. More surface warming in the Artic than mid-latitudes.
    2. More surface warming at night than day.
    3. More surface warming in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere.
    4. More surface warming at night than during the day.

    Thanks,

    Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science
    Series 5, Volume 41, April 1896, pages 237-276.

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/1/18/Arrhenius.pdf

    http://www.fao.org/agris/search/display.do?f=./1997/v2310/SE9710611.xml;SE9710611

    http://www.gcrio.org/gccd/gcc-digest/1997/d97mar3.htm

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:24 PM

  195. #190

    Fifty millennia of catastrophic extinctions after human contact
    Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 20, Issue 7, July 2005, Pages 395-401

    “…trace to a variety of human impacts, including rapid overharvesting, biological invasions, habitat transformation and disease.”

    And the rape of the natural world continues today…all important issues, what’s your point? A human-induced greenhouse will be the final finale? Or not, and we keep raping the world.

    Comment by isotopious — 6 Jan 2009 @ 8:46 PM

  196. #195 Troll Alert.

    ReCAPTCHA agrees: tenth Biatch

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:02 PM

  197. Jim Cross says, “At any rate, the human contribution to it probably began with our development of agriculture and only lastly is culminating with the green house gases we are pumping into the atmosphere.

    Would you like to return to hunting and gathering?”

    I suspect that will be the only option for our progeny due to the apologists for complacency. Geez, you and Isotopious wanna go get a room, or something?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:05 PM

  198. #192

    Ray, this is my most cursory glance at the science. Orbital cycles interact with the ocean and greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide has an important role in climate feedbacks. Its a component. It amplifies the warming. In other words, the value of CO2 is in its interaction with orbital cycles, deep ocean, and water vapour; over a 5000 year period. The power of CO2 is in its relationship with the other components. Not on its own.

    Comment by isotopious — 6 Jan 2009 @ 9:11 PM

  199. isotopious: “The power of CO2 is in its relationship with the other components. Not on its own.”

    False dichotomy. Just the result you’d expect from a “most cursory glance at the science”.

    iso, why don’t you stop cluttering up this otherwise useful site until you’ve had a really good, long, hard look at the science?

    Comment by Garry S-J — 6 Jan 2009 @ 10:10 PM

  200. As if the atmosphere *cares* whether humans or orbital forcings put it there? *Not* well thought out. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Jan 2009 @ 11:37 PM

  201. Isotopious, Oh Dear! That’s so vague that it could mean a broad variety of things–none of them correct, unfortunately. You know, Pauli had a term for statements like that. One time he was refereeing a paper and said, “This is terrible. It’s so bad it’s not even wrong!”
    See, something that’s wrong can be corrected, while something that’s vaguely worded and ill conceived cannot. So, let’s try to see which specific denialist memes you are peddling.
    1)Is it your serious contention that CO2 does not provide a forcing or that increasing CO2 will not increase that forcing?
    2)Is it your contention that the CO2 is a result of the warming, and not the cause of it?
    3)What the hell does orbital forcing have to do with the current warming epoch?
    4)Do you understand the importance of the well mixed nature and long lifetime of CO2 in the climate system?
    5)You ascribe a role to the deep oceans. Are you contending that the energy for the current warming is coming from there? If not, what do the deep oceans have to do with current warming.

    This will at least allow us to pinpoint where you are wrong. The decision to learn or not is up to you. Until you do, though, you are covered by a troll alert.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jan 2009 @ 6:03 AM

  202. Rod B @ 182:

    I was referring to the physical discovery and/or development to increase the oil supply, which I think is more likely than not. Your point that the supply might stagnate if the economics deriving from alternative fuels is such that the demand for oil will decrease and hence the producers won’t feel justified in investing oodles of money to get that new supply (whew!) has merit.

    There have been too fewer discoveries to support the belief that there are going to be new discoveries that will increase the supply. The Canadian tar sands are very substantial, but they don’t free-flow oil the way the Saudi fields (for example) did. Russia peaked, there’s good evidence Saudi has peaked. Kuwait admitted they over-estimated, as did Royal Dutch Shell.

    What evidence makes you believe more is going to be found, and in sufficient quantity to continue supply growth?

    (reCaptcha sez: “Irvington counting” and so is Hubbert)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 7 Jan 2009 @ 10:28 AM

  203. Re isotopious @199, Yes, CO2 feed-back amplifies the orbital cycle-initiated warming, we all know that.

    So what, exactly, do you suppose would be the result of adding more CO2 directly to the atmosphere in the absence of an orbital cycle forcing?

    The atmosphere doesn’t care where the extra CO2 comes from or how it gets their, it just warms in response to there being more of it.

    It’s not that hard to understand. Really.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 7 Jan 2009 @ 11:21 AM

  204. re: Biofuels.
    Continental Airlines flight powered by biofuels
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090107/ap_on_bi_ge/continental_biofuel

    Comment by Dan — 7 Jan 2009 @ 7:59 PM

  205. re. Dan, #204, I think we need to start producing biofuels in a sustainable way before getting excited about increasing their use. Most of the biofuels produced in the US comes from corn, which both grossly distorts world grain prices for food; and uses so much fertilizer that their use produces almost as much GHG as it saves. Biofuels in Europe come mainly from oil palms, which is leading to mass deforestation and destruction of endangered species’ habitats in places like Indonesia. Some people have post links here to information about allegedly sustainable biofuel sources but they are not being used on a large scale yet, it is controversial whether they really are sustainable, and promoting the increased use of biofuels before the existing production has at least started to move to sustainable methods is putting the cart before the horse IMO.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 7 Jan 2009 @ 8:20 PM

  206. #201

    Is there evidence that shows a difference in the rate of warming, comparing the start of a 5000 year warming phase to any time after the first 800 years, using the Vostok data.

    In other words, once there is an increase in CO2, released from the ocean, does the rate of warming increase, compared to the intial rate of warming, during the first 800yrs?

    Comment by isotopious — 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:40 AM

  207. re: 205. Oh yes, I agree. The article notes that the general manager of renewable energy and chemicals at UOP said one of the big obstacles facing the industry is finding enough affordable feedstock to produce the large quantities of biofuel needed. She predicts “biofuel could amount to 3 percent to 5 percent of the fuel used by big airlines by 2012.” By 2020, the level could grow to as much as 20 percent, she said. I recently read (may have been at enn.com) of alternative biofuel sources other than corn. Supposedly that would lessen the impact on grain prices for food.

    Comment by Dan — 8 Jan 2009 @ 8:19 AM

  208. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/
    “….The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data….”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/
    “Thus it is not logical to argue that, because CO2 does not cause the first thousand years or so of warming, nor the first thousand years of cooling, it cannot have caused part of the many thousands of years of warming in between.”

    Jeff Severinghaus
    Professor of Geosciences
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    University of California, San Diego.

    isotopious:
    These statements are incorrect, CO2 must have contributed to warming during the first 800 years (at lowest value atmosphere has around 180 p.p.m.v.).

    But by how much? (re: #206)

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jan 2009 @ 5:44 AM

  209. Re #204, that is all very well and good and I read the article over at sciam.com. However the number game is what always trips up Biofuels from crops or algae at the present time. Yields of crops may increase and cullulosic or genetically engineered bugs might be used to assist in the breakdown of this planty material and increase the algaes ability to produce oils. This however is not going to happen in a time frame compatiable with the needs of AGW. It might happen along the lines of peak oil needs, as oil becomes more expensive blend it with biofuels to offset the economic issues of oil depletion.

    Put simply and within a time frame suitable for mitigating AGW and our love of transport Biofuels will not be the solution. It may be part of it but flying alone uses 240 million gallons of fuel a day and biofuels will take a long time to supplement that level of usage and it is increasing. It maybe possible to make planes more effcient in the future but once again that would just mean cheaper prices and more flights.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=air-algae-us-biofuel-flight-on-weeds-and-pond-scum

    it is a good article and worth reading to people interested in replacing fossil fuels but the issues are of such a large scale especially considering the world is using 85 Mbpd of oil and each barrels contains 42 US gallons. In order for Biofuels to approach that level of transport ability would require a significant efficiency program of transport and a significant breakthrough so as to not put pressure on the price of food.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 9 Jan 2009 @ 7:02 AM

  210. #208, isotopius

    Why are these statements incorrect?

    If CO2 level doesn’t go up during the first 800 years, how can it contribute to the warming?

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 9 Jan 2009 @ 8:08 AM

  211. Isotopious: Warming implies change. CO2 is always a greenhouse. It always keeps the troposphere warmer than it would be if it were not there. However, it cannot contribute to WARMING (that is, increasing temperature) until its concentration starts to rise, nor to cooling temperature until it starts to fall. Current best estimates are that CO2 contributes about 7 degrees of the 33 degrees of greenhouse warming that keep Earth from being a snowball.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2009 @ 8:12 AM

  212. With regard to 205 and 207:

    The US and Europe aren’t the only–or even the best–places to look at in order to assess the state of the art and future possibilities of biofuels; the Brazilian experience with ethanol is much deeper historically. Here is a story to start with. Read to the end to get some of the “downside” information.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Jan 2009 @ 10:35 AM

  213. It is just astonishingly simplistic to say that last years food riots (food shortages and high food prices) were caused by biofuels. When compared with the negative effects of droughts and floods on last years food production, I think that biofuels were a relatively small contributor to the problems. Add to droughts and floods the difficulties some poorer countries have in procuring adequate fertilizer and other agriculture chemicals, and you will have your culprit pretty much nailed down.

    Without the presence of biofuels in the global market, fossil-fuel prices might be even higher, and that would present its own set of problems for food production.

    This years wheat forecast is for a bumper crop. Food prices are likely to be lower as grain is likely to be abundant. Australian production, much of which is exported, is the rub. Net importers of food feel the Australian results immediately.

    Comment by JCH — 9 Jan 2009 @ 11:14 AM

  214. Alan (209), interesting reference. I was hoping for a substantiation of the large land area required for producing jet biofuel — most of the equivalent of western Europe for Jatropha, e.g. (less for algae) for the current 240 million gallons. Can you validate this?

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jan 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  215. Ray Ladbury,9,1,8:12AM

    “Current best estimates are that CO2 contributes about 7 degrees of the 33 degrees of greenhouse warming that keep Earth from being a snowball.”

    Hi, Ray,

    I’ve noticed this “best estimate contribution” in several of your posts, and I recall a past response by Gavin indicating a similar 20% contribution to CO2. I’m aware of a range from “CO2: Feedback or Forcing?”, on this site, but I haven’t noticed a reference for the narrower estimate. I’m hesitant to repeat the 20% without a reference or rationale, so if you can provide one,I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

    [Response: 20% of the current GHE what you get if you do a sensible allocation of the overlaps between water vapour/clouds and CO2. The '7 deg C' is the equivalent no-feedback allocation - it is not how much it would cool if you removed all CO2 (that would be much greater, but somewhat uncertain). - gavin]

    Comment by HF — 9 Jan 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  216. Isotopious –

    In a natural deglaciation, warming precedes CO2 rise by about 800 years on average. The CO2 then amplifies the warming. Direct calculations (I’ll run through them if you like) show that the slight changes to Earth’s surface sunlight distribution caused by the Milankovic cycles that govern ice ages are not enough to produce the observed temperature changes — you need CO2 as an amplifier.

    When warming increases CO2, it’s because warmer water holds less CO2 in solution and the gas is bubbling out of the ocean. That is not what is happening now. The oceans are presently a net sink for CO2, giving off about 90 gigatons of carbon a year and taking in 92.

    The present increase in CO2 is coming about mainly from burning fossil fuels. This can be shown from an analysis of isotope ratios (e.g. CO2 from fossil fuels is deficient in carbon-14 because 14C only has a halflife of about 5500 years and fossil fuels date from ~300 million years ago).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jan 2009 @ 1:32 PM

  217. Barton (@216), but as has been pointed out before, the 14C level was altered by atmospheric nuclear testing, no? Which is why it’s the 13C:12C ratio that is used to demonstrate that the CO2 increase is of fossil fuel origin.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Jan 2009 @ 3:23 PM

  218. Re Gavin in-line @215, wouldn’t the negative change be far greater if all CO2 were removed since there would be almost no independent greenhouse warming to allow significant water vapour to remain in the atmosphere?

    [Response: Yes. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Jan 2009 @ 3:27 PM

  219. Happy New Year 2u2 realclimate. Great website.

    btw #53 volcanic eruptions wrt the arctic.
    [Response: Do the math. .. - gavin]

    That was one of my things-to-do last year but not proud me wouldn’t mind a suggested approach to the maths.

    [edit]

    [Response: Find the heat released by the biggest volcanic eruption that anyone has measured. Then spread it out over the Arctic and over depth (or any more restricted domain) and calculate the resulting temperature increase. Then do the same but for ice melt. You will find yourself orders of magnitude out. - gavin]

    Comment by Mike Donald — 9 Jan 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  220. Re #214, I looked up the yields of biofuels presently (first generation) and what might happen with second generation and potentila yields of algae at around 10,000 gallons per acre on wikipedia. Present corn yields are poor with regard to what lands needs to be used. Sugar cane is better but sugar cane needs certain conditions to thrive. Other grasses and genetic engineering capability might increase yields further but as to what yields per acre is required all boills down to what requirements humans have. No strategy so long as oil exists in reasonable amounts.

    There is always the hydrogen future as well but electrolysis to make it requires lots of renewable sources of and efficient conversion techniques and technologies which also do as yet not exist.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 9 Jan 2009 @ 3:37 PM

  221. #211

    “…However, it cannot contribute to WARMING (that is, increasing temperature) until its concentration starts to rise…”

    Ray, I would have thought CO2 contribution to WARMING, would be dependent on solar insolation.

    The amount released from the ocean would certainly sustain the feedback mechanism…..

    You imply the feedback mechanism must include CO2 ocean release inorder to work at all. I’m not sure about that, after all there is 180 p.p.m.v. ready to begin warming earth (just because it’s there doesn’t mean it must contribute, remember it’s dependent on the radiation).

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jan 2009 @ 5:23 PM

  222. That 180 ppm has always added warming because there always has been solar insolation so the surface has always radiated. More insolation meant more radiation and more CO2, which meant even more warming.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Jan 2009 @ 5:53 PM

  223. > would have thought

    This is the useful thing about science if you do it, it gets you past what you would have thought, to considering actual numbers.

    Take a slow trickle of water into a bucket, with a small hole in the bottom of the bucket, so the water level stays with the bucket about half full.

    Which makes more difference — doubling the amount of the trickle coming in, or doubling the size of the hole in the bucket?

    How much change in the brightness of the sun would make the same change as a doubling of CO2?

    Does thinking get you an answer? If not, try Dr. Weart’s book, first link under Science, right hand side of the page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2009 @ 5:58 PM

  224. Don’t be deliberately obtuse.

    CO2 cannot contribute to warming unless it’s concentration rises.

    If it remains constant, there is no contribution to warming from CO2.

    What other things are doing so is irrelevant to the section you quoted.

    What 180ppmv are you talking about? It isn’t waiting. Inanimate molecules can’t wait.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jan 2009 @ 6:01 PM

  225. Mark, iso is just saying that if you’re sleeping out under a light blanket on a cool cloudy night, then the clouds blow away and you’re under clear night sky, you’ll feel colder, but if you stay there til sunrise, you’ll feel warmer — all under the same blanket.

    But iso fails to understand that equilibrium is at the top of the atmosphere, not down here on the ground — confusing weather with climate, basically.

    Yes, doubling CO2 or putting on another blanket warms you up.
    So would doubling the brightness of the sun — but not by the same amount — at the top of the atmosphere — which is what iso is misunderstanding, I think.

    This is one of those exchanges that easily become, er, abstruse:
    http://abstrusegoose.com/strips/computer_programming_101.JPG

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2009 @ 6:58 PM

  226. Re 221 et seq, once again people are talking past each other by using “warming” in slightly different ways–or so it seems to me.

    isotopius says that CO2 contributes to warming either before or after CO2 levels change, which is correct assuming that he means that the CO2 is always contributing to the greenhouse “warming” preventing snowball Earth, and which is normal to the system even at equilibrium (we could call this “static warming,” if we need a name for it.)

    mark says it doesn’t, which is correct assuming that he means “warming” in the sense of a temperature trend (we could call this “dynamic warming.”)

    This would be an example of why some prefer numbers to language. The latter requires such care in its use!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Jan 2009 @ 7:03 PM

  227. Isotopious says, “Ray, I would have thought CO2 contribution to WARMING, would be dependent on solar insolation.”

    And you’d be wrong. It depends on the amount of CO2 and the temperature of Earth. It doesn’t matter where the energy to sustain that temperature comes from–solar, greenhouse, Martian laser, beams–all the same to blackbody (or greybody) radiators. CO2 does contribute ENERGY, not WARMING, which implies a change in temperature.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2009 @ 7:46 PM

  228. #222

    “That 180 ppm has always added warming because there always has been solar insolation so the surface has always radiated. More insolation meant more radiation and more CO2, which meant even more warming.”

    #224

    “If it remains constant, there is no contribution to warming from
    CO2.”

    Why is there little difference between the rate of warming, before and after CO2 release from ocean (# 206)?

    Looking at this data……..

    Petit, J. R. et al. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core,
    Antarctica. Nature 399, 429–436 (1999).

    There is a very rapid rise in temperature during the first 800 years of deglaciation. The feedback mechanism is at work. CO2 is a component.

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jan 2009 @ 7:49 PM

  229. William, I know of no problem with the energy balance of the core–be it inner or outer. The combination of radioactive decay and latent heat as the outer core crystallizes onto the solid inner core is sufficient as an energy source in most of the models I know of–e.g. Glatzmaier et al.

    Do you have a reference?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2009 @ 7:59 PM

  230. #227

    “And you’d be wrong. It depends on the amount of CO2 and the temperature of Earth.”

    I stand corrected, however, you state CO2 contribution is dependent on “temperature of earth”.

    #221

    “….However, it cannot contribute to WARMING (that is, increasing temperature) until its concentration starts to rise, nor to cooling temperature until it starts to fall….”

    Indirectly it can contribute to warming without change in concentration, due to temperature change of earth.

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jan 2009 @ 8:40 PM

  231. “There is a very rapid rise in temperature during the first 800 years of deglaciation. The feedback mechanism is at work. CO2 is a component.”

    You’re circling back. That was established almost 30 posts ago.

    And as for apparent disconnect between me @222 and Mark @224, see Kevin @266.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Jan 2009 @ 8:46 PM

  232. Isotopious says “Indirectly it can contribute to warming without change in concentration, due to temperature change of earth.”

    Uh, sorry. You lost me. Unless you mean that if Earth radiates more, CO2 will trap more, etc.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2009 @ 10:34 PM

  233. Atmospheric CO2 starts to rise after 800 years of rapid warming, does this mean any further increases in temperature are only possible with extra CO2? No.

    The point in time when CO2 starts to rise does not automatically mean more CO2 is required before further warming can take place.

    It would appear plausible that the rate of warming should increase once more CO2 is released into the atmosphere, but looking at the vostok data, there is no obvious “boost”.

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jan 2009 @ 11:24 PM

  234. 230 you’re still being deliberately obtuse.

    The earth warms up when CO2 rises and NOTHING ELSE CHANGES. If CO2 falls and nothing else changes, the earth cools.

    And please explain how you know the inanimate CO2 is “waiting” like when you wait for the doctor to see you. Or is there a reason you won’t answer that question?

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:53 AM

  235. iso, you’re copypasting stuff well worked over; it’s from the ignorance list.

    Look up forcing/feedback; look up the sometime/not time lag and accuracy of ice core numbers.

    You can find the basics explained here — try the Start Here link and the first link under science in the sidebar.

    When you just copypaste old fragments (and without citation) people can’t help you read your sources.

    This leads to red herrings and recreational typing.

    That’s attention, if you like attention, but not from those best able to help you learn from real science sources.

    Try looking things up and saying where you’re getting your opinions.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  236. To Real Climate,

    Sorry for all my other time wasting posts.

    Question:
    When there is an increase in CO2, released from the ocean, does the rate of warming increase, compared to the initial rate of warming, during the first 800yrs?

    Comment by isotopious — 10 Jan 2009 @ 4:52 PM

  237. Isotopious, it depends on whether all the other factors remain the same. If the orbit changes so there’s less insolation, you might just have temperatures stabilize. If everything stays the same, you’d expect an increase.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jan 2009 @ 5:21 PM

  238. I’m not qualified to answer that question, but I will hazard that the proxi record may or may not have the resolution to show it if the change is small or gradual enough, which it would be as CO2 slowly accumulated and overcame the thermal inertia of the oceans, especially if that ramp up overlapped a slowing rate of change in the orbital forcing. It would also overlap with rising water vapour and methane, and lowering albedo. Could each one’s effect on the temperature record be sorted out?

    I’m sure I’ll soon be set straight it that is wrong.

    Captcha identifies part of the problem: ad Motorists

    Comment by Jim Eager — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:06 PM

  239. > Question …

    Not a good enough question. Are you talking about some specific event? If so which one? A look at the paleo archive might help but you need to know the limits of accuracy of the data, you may be asking for more precision than is available.

    If you’re asking a hypothetical, you’d need a scratch planet to experiment on. Without that, you need more information. Examples:
    How could you test this? How do you propose you get excess CO2 out of the ocean? Something else changes? Remember there’s a natural cycle as your base level, and you say there’s already some initial rate of warming — what’s causing that, how much is it, and does it have anything to do with more CO2 “from” the ocean? And what “from” do you mean — a change in solubility of the gas? Or is the photosynthetic plankton using less CO2? Or is the plankton dying off and releasing some CO2?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  240. 236. What?
    Best I can make out of your post is the question when CO2 is released from the ocean does the warming increase.

    Yes. It does.

    Rate of warming isn’t part of it. So I dropped that. And the 800 years is irrelevant since we haven’t had significant anthropological change 800 years ago.

    If you’re talking about the past record where CO2 lagged because its release was a feedback mechanism then take a look at the past record and plot the rate of increase yourself to answer the question.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:13 PM

  241. PS, have you read this?
    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/co2-lags-not-leads.php

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:17 PM

  242. Rearding the comments on my 224 post, I see Iso talking about warming as warming rate (as he does later on, so I dropped it) And and atmosphere in equilibrium has no warming rate. If you then change solely CO2, there will be more warming. That is the warming CO2 causes. But that can cause a CO2 effusion and increase CO2 (which is a feedback), increase water vapor (which is a feedback) and increase cloud cover (which is positive and negative feedback) and so on, which are all increases due to that feedback.

    Ta.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jan 2009 @ 6:18 PM

  243. In re #220:

    No strategy so long as oil exists in reasonable amounts.

    There is always the hydrogen future as well but electrolysis to make it requires lots of renewable sources of and efficient conversion techniques and technologies which also do as yet not exist.

    Biofuels won’t be produced until there is demand — why produce something that no one needs to buy? That’s why production is low at present — marginal cost still favors oil.

    It used to be that OPEC destroyed biofuels’ potential by increasing supply to drive down price. That made biofuels more expensive relatively and capital was taken away from further development. Now that they can’t arbitrarily increase supply to destroy development of biofuels, they are stuck reducing supply to siphon off capital. That’s a losing proposition as it will produce a supply of capital on biofuels development, at which point OPEC is going to be forced to compete for price and that’s a losing proposition as production costs rise.

    (Bad HTML caused the above post to drop my response — please delete that post.)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 10 Jan 2009 @ 8:14 PM

  244. http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/65/3/279
    In hot water: zooplankton and climate change

    found via:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1112418
    Science 8 July 2005:
    Vol. 309. no. 5732, pp. 284 – 287
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1112418
    Penetration of Human-Induced Warming into the World’s Oceans

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2009 @ 8:53 PM

  245. #237

    Thanks for the response.

    #239

    Yes, your right, it may well be a silly question.
    I’m talking about the 800 year lag, any inter-glacial from the past 650+ kyrs would do.

    #241

    Yes I had a look, the rapid nature of the initial 800 years of warming is unlikely due to albedo. The ice lag is even greater than CO2!

    I’m aware scientists have demonstrated the effect of infrared and CO2.
    Using the laws of physics to determine CO2 contribution makes perfect scientific sense.

    But wouldn’t it be great if we could determine cause and effect from the vostok data.

    Comment by isotopious — 10 Jan 2009 @ 10:47 PM

  246. #234
    “And please explain how you know the inanimate CO2 is “waiting” like when you wait for the doctor to see you. Or is there a reason you won’t answer that question?”

    Re #221
    When I said “.. after all there is 180 p.p.m.v. ready to begin warming earth ..”

    Ray answers your question #237

    That’s how the inanimate CO2 is “waiting”. Temperature change.

    This is why I disagree with these statements by Jeff Severinghaus

    “All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming”

    This statement should be re written (isotopious opines):

    “All that the lag shows is that the addition CO2 released from the ocean (after first 800 years of deglaciation) did not participate in the first 800 years of warming. However, the initial CO2 concentration (about 180 p.p.m.v) present at the begin of deglaciation, is integral to temperature rise during the first 800 years.”

    My version doesn’t make the assumption that CO2 can’t contribute until after 800 years. When insolation changes via orbital forces then the molecules work harder (rather than just sitting around being lazy).

    [Response: This is completely wrong. If CO2 doesn't change, it can't add to a changing temperature. No cause, no effect. - gavin]

    Comment by isotopious — 11 Jan 2009 @ 12:37 AM

  247. Re #243, you are obviosuly not educated enough on the subject of oil. The IEA has for a long time stated that th worlds need for it will grow by 50% come 2030, from 80 mpbd to 120 mpbd but that is a pipe dream according to a lot of learned oil guys and according to some oil companies who have stated that 90-100 mpbd is all that will happen. Due to OPEC’s hidden reserves not being known with an accuracy after 1980 their alleged reserves are a political tool to be able to pump as much as they need to and not an actual statement of real reserves. Tar sands are a joke as they require a lot of gas to become crude.

    Therefore in BAU terms your statement is safe for around 10 years for we consume 300 billion barrels every decade and growth is 2% per annum so its peak time and if it is peak time then oils price is going to rocket and potentially wreck large parts of the economies of the world. You will need an alternative, it simply is not an option to not have one, biofuels or hydrogen, neither of which presently can do much.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 11 Jan 2009 @ 8:46 AM

  248. re 245

    iso: “I’m aware scientists have demonstrated the effect of infrared and CO2.
    Using the laws of physics to determine CO2 contribution makes perfect scientific sense.”

    Wow…

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 11 Jan 2009 @ 8:55 AM

  249. iso: > the molecules work harder

    Perhaps, iso, you’re trying to restate the notion of ‘saturation’ (if so read Dr. Weart’s book; see Callendar). If you haven’t got the math to accomplish making that mistake (by doing that calculation the way it was done before Callendar corrected it), you may want to rely on Weart.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2009 @ 10:44 AM

  250. A perspective view from 2008, suitable for the year in review:

    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0901/newrings_cassini_big.jpg

    (In this picture, you are on the faint blue dot just above the left side of the brighter rings.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2009 @ 10:48 AM

  251. Totally off topic, but here’s one for Hank

    http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5489134.ece

    Apparently 2 google searches produces the same CO2 as boiling a kettle.

    Comment by John Finn — 11 Jan 2009 @ 1:22 PM

  252. How how could pirates…? Oh, I see, increased methand emissions:

    When pirates fall overboard above the continental shelf, they sink to the bottom and their peglegs poke a hole in it, releasing methane cthadrates(sp?).

    (Well, that, and parrot flatulence.)

    SR

    Comment by SergeiRostov — 11 Jan 2009 @ 1:51 PM

  253. SergeiRostov, Aaarrrrghhh, Matey!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2009 @ 3:47 PM

  254. Has anyone noted that Mauna Loa observations actually showed a (seasonally adjusted) downward movement at the end of 2008? After a peak in Sept/Oct, the CO2 concentration went down by 1.3 ppm to 385.0 ppm. As far as I can see that never happened before, and it reduces the 2008 increase to only 0.2 ppm.
    I would expect mitigation of the rising trend by lower economic activity, but not this (although it’s a very short period). It would be an extremely desirable pause in which to take the right drastical political steps towards sustainable reduction of emissions.
    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt

    Comment by Ark — 11 Jan 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  255. In re 247 –

    Uh, I’m not sure where the post you respond to says anything that disagrees with the state of oil exploration and production. “Demand” can increase all it wants, but if “supply” isn’t available (which you seem to agree with — it’s hard to tell), the imbalance is going to translate into either replacement sources or a change in pricing to reduce demand.

    You seem to be taking issue with my statements about biofuels production? You attacked me for knowing nothing about the oil industry (no one expects peak production greater than 85 million barrels per day (mbpd) — so I think you’re the one who knows nothing), but then went on to say something about biofuels and hydrogen not being there? Adam Smith’s invisible hand insures that neither biofuels nor hydrogen will be produced in large quantities until the demand is present as both are marginally more expensive than oil at the moment. I’m guessing that if OPEC actually sticks to the 2 mbpd reduction target that we’ll find out. I’m not waiting, I still have plans for an electric car either this year or next.

    When it comes to renewables, one of the greatest problems is that the US government (and IEA by extension) doesn’t really know how much is produced. TXU Energy, who provides me with electricity, hasn’t a clue how much I make, other than having a clue that it’s “a lot” because I don’t use so much of theirs anymore. As this article shows, each prediction about installed production seems to mysterious be on the very low side of wrong. I finished producing my 3rd megawatt hour (I should update my LJ, I suppose) earlier this month and that’s not accounted for anywhere — IEA doesn’t know TXU Energy doesn’t know, no one knows except me. And that’s the rub — each time there is a flurry of renewable energy development, more and more of the energy production falls outside the domain of “what is known”, and renewable energy installations continue to rise each year.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 11 Jan 2009 @ 5:17 PM

  256. [Response: This is completely wrong. If CO2 doesn’t change, it can’t add to a changing temperature. No cause, no effect. - gavin]

    I stand corrected.

    However, what components of the climate play a part in the first 800 years of warming?

    *Increase in insolation

    *Carbon dioxide(No?), methane

    *Water vapour

    Most of the warming comes from water vapour feedback, I argue that even though the carbon dioxide concentration hasn’t changed, you wouldn’t get the warming if it wasn’t there at 180 p.p.m.v

    It contributes indirectly via water vapour. Take the 180 p.p.m.v away and you change the threshold. No feedback.

    Comment by isotopious — 11 Jan 2009 @ 5:41 PM

  257. SR, pirates are the prophets of the One True God: FSM

    as any fule kno

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jan 2009 @ 6:10 PM

  258. Mark, Ramen, Brother!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2009 @ 8:52 PM

  259. I doubt that hydrogen and electricity based cars in relation to AGW (the time factor you see) are viable alternatives in our world of what is needed. The present recession will limit the growth of oil for economic reasons of course but recessions are limited things and it will not take long before that 2 mbps cut is gobbled back up by the growing global economy and more besides. The Oil industry have discovered 45,000 fields and the big ones are the ones that have been in use for 50 years leaving slim pickings and a lot of expense to bring the remainging 1.2 trillion barrels online, 30 years worth if it even exists!

    Tar sands make up 200 billion barrels and that a joke, OPEC has being economical with their reserves due to commit to their pumping quotas and no one even knows if they are right in their alleged reserves and if they are not then its a problem.

    Hydrogen was a decade away a decade ago but also, its still a decade away technologically and by the laws of physics and not by the stupid invisible hand of Adam Smith. Pump all the reaearch money you want into this technology but as natural gas and coal are used as the main ingredients at the moment to make hydrogen you can see that electrolysis and the cost of hydrogen engines is presently prohibitively expensive requiring platinum in the fuel cell which cost a lot of money and featuring a whole load of other technical obstacles not least is producing it from renewables energy alongside all of the other electricity we need to do all ther other stuff fossil fuels presently do. When the technology is cracked and if it is Adam Smith style then its time to deplay and that a 50 year cycle to. Its the same issue for electric cars. Anyone know how to make tyres without using oil either, massive hurdles born of a energy source not created by man, just found ad therein lies the difference.

    if you have managed to tap a stream or some other renewable source for youself then great but it aint even in the same ball part of the needs of a nation such as the USA or China or a continent such as Europe. I am sure we can all downsize, rightsize etc on oil eventually when its price rockets post recession but the sheer scale and size of the problem is the daunting issue along with the laws of phyics at the moment.

    Hope you produce 100 MW and feed a few townes, T Boone pickens is trying it and I am sure all the motor companies are too but as yet no breakthroughs, only wind and potentially solar and CSP at the present time whcih require a lot of expense and new grand plans whci at present do not exist either. Roll on Denmark later this year when the new president of the USA and the rest of the world can finally commit to comitting themselves to something big.

    James Hansen reckons that it all down to eliminating coal by 2030 and maybe we can do that if we deplay turbines, CSP, other renewables and replace the existing grid with smart one. Then we crack the oil problem and need the same amount of electricity again to power our cars, hell knows about the trucks and freight as yet, not answer there and as for flying – biofuels eventually could do the job but lets not presend we do not have large looming problems and just reckond that its a peice of cake for as yet it aint is it ?

    Comment by Alan Neale — 12 Jan 2009 @ 4:52 AM

  260. Ark. I think a simpler explanation is an error in the presentation of the data.
    The graph does not have a data point for Dec and checking the data file shows a duplication of the Nov figure. I think you’ll find a new Dec figure soon. The detrended plot and the 2008 result will then look more normal.

    Comment by Kevin Johnstone — 12 Jan 2009 @ 6:07 AM

  261. iso, you ask “what components of the climate play a part in the first 800 years of warming?”, giving several possible answers. Since I love multiple choice, I will say that the generally agreed answer appears to be A), insolation, adding that the change in insolation is attributed to periodic orbital changes (Milankovitch cycles.) I think that is an FAQ around here somewhere.

    (Captcha reminds us that soon enough we will be listening to our local high school marching band practice once again: “summer sousa.”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2009 @ 9:45 AM

  262. #251, Alan Neale,

    only wind and potentially solar and CSP at the present time whcih require a lot of expense and new grand plans whci at present do not exist either

    Not in my opinion. When the automobile was invented, do you think they had a ‘grand plan’ ready for highways and parking garages, etc.? No, it was just a matter of getting started and then gradually expanding, adapting the infrastructure along the way.

    The same is true for renewables, it is a matter of getting started and solving the problems and improving the technology along the way. Some things of course must be planned in advance, but requiring a ‘grand plan’ reminds me of the communist 5-year plans, which were usually monumental failures.

    Then we crack the oil problem and need the same amount of electricity again to power our cars, hell knows about the trucks and freight as yet

    How do you define ‘the same amount of electricity’? Joule for Joule? An electric car is much more efficient, achieving around 6 km/kWh, or 600 kJ/km. An average (smallish) car does 7 l/100 km, which is ~2.5 MJ/km or four times as much. By switching to electric, we can therefore slash the road transport energy consumption by 75%.

    Energy consumption for freight in the UK is a third of all road transport energy use. I think it will not be much different from the rest of the world, so it’s not as big a problem as it may seem.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 12 Jan 2009 @ 9:46 AM

  263. Re #262, Every underestimates the energy density of oil I guess. A gallon of oil is 43 KW/H of energy. Sure we can make everything lighter (what replace 850 million vehicles in the world at present, well yer) and more efficient and batteries don’t weigh anything do they or litter the planet as they are easily recyled and dealt with.

    That was beauty of oi, gas and coal, there was enough of it and it was energy dense enough to allow the world to grow but when you are there its a different story as to what replaces it and allows continued economic growth for ever and ever, amen eh. There is some very good stuff out there but it aint here yet, sure efficiency gains for future buildings and transport might be able to be adjusted as you are saying but is is scientific/engineering reality or just a missions statement of someone who does not really know?

    Its all in relation to AGW and probably peak oil. Our need is to replace coal and risk using up all of the oil and gas slower by making it last longer by introducing hybrid technologies to make it more efficient. If we leap that obstacle and eliminate coal usage by using large scale renewables energy projects and efficiency gains then cool. However its 2009 and as yet it seems to be non existant as oil, gas and coal usage are only presently going down a little due to the current recession and that itself is probably hurting alternatives as well from getting a foothold in the economy. When the recession recedes so the fossil fuel commitments will grow again.

    Hence the need for a plan in my book. Hence hopefully Copanhagen at the end of 2009 to determine the new Kyoto and hopefully the USA taking part in full and weening them over to and off of the CO2 emitting stuff by 2050. LEts hope we have the time to do it, it seems like a close thing though.

    Germany has made some good progres towards electricity from solar and wind and maybe its a good working example of what everyone can achieve, lets hope so but Germany is still planning on building new coal fired power plants without CCS as yet.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 12 Jan 2009 @ 10:10 AM

  264. iso writes
    “I argue … you wouldn’t get the warming if it wasn’t there …”

    Uh, yeah, because the water would have frozen out too; you’d have a dry atmosphere, nitrogen and oxygen and argon, eh?

    “Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18°C) instead of its present 57°F (14°C). … http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2009 @ 10:42 AM

  265. #263, Alan Neale,

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

    I am not underestimating the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels.

    I am talking about real world data. Real electric cars. Real gas cars. It’s unavoidable math.

    Besides, everybody knows that an internal combustion engine in a car is, on average, 20% efficient. Electric motors are around 80-90%.

    I stick to my point: electric transport will use 1/4 of the electricity (in Joules) as we are currently using on gas (in Joules).

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 12 Jan 2009 @ 10:51 AM

  266. Re #265, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#Present_and_future

    Certainly better than ICE vehicles but there are issues with over all delivery considerations of electricity and other limitations such as the size of the vehicle. On the whole though a good thing but 24% efficiency overall is only 4% better than ICE unfortinately. Thanks for the inofrmation though. It all does sound very promising but some issues seem to be in the grid system. Roll out the renewables though and it might be a ICE replacement at some point in time.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 12 Jan 2009 @ 11:21 AM

  267. Ark (254), Read this disclaimer at
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

    “The last year of data are still preliminary, pending recalibrations of reference gases and other quality control checks.”

    And if you click on this link:

    “globally averaged CO2 concentration at the surface.”
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/index.html#global

    The Annual Mean Growth Rate shows 1.82 for 2008.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 12 Jan 2009 @ 2:45 PM

  268. #266, Alan Neale,

    I was supposing the electricity would come from renewable sources. Only that way an electric car really makes sense.

    The 20% efficiency excludes losses of refining, something that will progressively worsen with increasing use of tar sands.

    Biofuels is no different. It’s more efficient to burn the biomass directly in a power plant than to refine it into something that is fit for a modern ICE.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 12 Jan 2009 @ 2:47 PM

  269. Re #268, However the new Honda hybrid electric/petrol motor car achieves a 64 MPG is driven to the letter. Not exactly amazing for a well thought our car that is built to delievr the green agenda. European Diesels driven correctly can achieve 50 to 70 and we are talking about an Audi A3 or VW golf bluemotion. All slightly disapointing considering you went on about that 80% efficient engine relative to the 20% efficiency of the ICE :(

    I still shudder at where exactly we get our replaced electricity from (coal and gas based) and then add enough to repalce oil to. It all seems slightly out of reach to me. Still I presume that the efficiency of this electric car will come from direct electric cars and not hybrid types. It all sounds like we need something in the region of 125 MPG eventually otherwise the planet will be covered in Wind Turbines, no ?

    Comment by Alan Neale — 12 Jan 2009 @ 4:10 PM

  270. #238

    “Could each one’s effect on the temperature record be sorted out?”

    Since CO2 cannot contribute to a changing temperature unless its concentration changes, I thought it maybe plausible to compare the rate of warming, before and after changes in CO2 levels, using ice core data.

    There is no significant difference in the rate.

    Why?

    *Is it because CO2 is already contributing? (Tried that arguement).

    *There is no change in rate because rate is limited by……..

    *Something changes……..insolation?

    *Overlapping forces (#238), or there is a delay?

    *Water vapour is responsible for most of the warming?

    There must be a scientific explaination. If CO2 is so critical to the temperature of earth, you’d expect an increase in the rate.

    Comment by isotopious — 12 Jan 2009 @ 5:24 PM

  271. Alan @ 269:

    I still shudder at where exactly we get our replaced electricity from (coal and gas based) and then add enough to repalce oil to. It all seems slightly out of reach to me. Still I presume that the efficiency of this electric car will come from direct electric cars and not hybrid types. It all sounds like we need something in the region of 125 MPG eventually otherwise the planet will be covered in Wind Turbines, no ?

    Feel free to shudder all you want. I get a lot of my electricity from my roof. Pretty soon I’ll walk to the garage and get on my electric motorcycle that also gets a lot of its electricity from my roof.

    Really. Putting your head in the sand will not keep people from shifting off of liquid fuels. It will get sand in your eyes and that’s about it.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 12 Jan 2009 @ 6:24 PM

  272. re 270.

    CO2 has already contributed to retaining warmth. Your statement is begging several others and you have worded it badly.

    Water vapour has already contributed to retaining warmth and its contribution is higher than the CO2 concentrations. However, unlike CO2, we have rain, so it only stays up there if the temperature allows it. It cannot contribute to a forcing. If you pump trillions of tons of water in the air, it will rain out. If you pump trillions of tons of CO2 in the air, it doesn’t (unless you’re on Ganymede, maybe).

    “If CO2 is so critical to the temperature of earth, you’d expect an increase in the rate.”

    Rate of what? Why would we expect to see it bigger? Bigger than what? Why would it increase?

    If I push a block of metal in a zero-friction assembly, it will speed up until I stop. It will CONTINUE speeding while I push with constant force. The rate of change doesn’t increase just because I’ve been pushing for half an hour rather than 4 minutes.

    your questions go unanswered because your questions make no sense.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jan 2009 @ 6:29 PM

  273. re 269. However, that Honda has to carry two engines and bigger batteries than the diesel.

    And it isn’t an electric car. It’s a hybrid.

    Apart from that, it would have answered Anne’s point…

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jan 2009 @ 6:32 PM

  274. #272

    “Rate of what? Why would we expect to see it bigger? Bigger than what? Why would it increase?”

    The rate of warming.

    Gavin, is it because of the clouds? The rate of warming is limited by clouds?

    recaptcha agrees: remedy here

    Comment by isotopious — 12 Jan 2009 @ 7:00 PM

  275. iso, read the pointers given to you above. There’s not enough precision in ice cores to see whether what you’re assuming is true. You wish there were. But you can’t ask your questions based on what you wish were true and expect answers that make sense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2009 @ 7:39 PM

  276. Isotopious, You are looking on this as if changes are occurring one at a time. That’s not what is happening. First you have a change in insolation due to a change in Earth’s orbit. This raises the temperature to the point where you eventually get outgassing of CO2 from the oceans, permafrost, etc. However, all the while insolation is changing as well, along with albedo, etc. What CO2 does is extend and intensify the warming. No responsible climate scientist has ever said CO2 was all there was to climate–it just happens to be how we’re warming Earth at present.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Jan 2009 @ 8:55 PM

  277. #276

    Couldn’t agree more, Ray. Very complicated.

    Anyway, thanks for your time.

    Comment by isotopious — 12 Jan 2009 @ 10:02 PM

  278. re 274. the rate of increase in warming would be due to an increase in the level of forcing.

    If CO2 output isn’t increasing then the rate of increase won’t increase (given everything else is static).

    So why do you think the rate of warming should increase? The temperature is increasing but not the rate of temperature increase. At least not to an extent that can be ascertained. Just like pushing a car will make it go faster and, in zero friction, continue to do so but the *acceleration* isn’t increasing. And it never will unless you increase the force.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Jan 2009 @ 3:52 AM

  279. Re #271, thats a slightly emotive response in my book and you may live in a part of the world where solar can supply you all year round but a lot do not I am sure. I too have switched to the new light bulbs but its not made a big difference to my electricity bill as yet (if it ever will) although it may have to my consumption.

    And as for electric motorcylces, dream on. In actual fact that statement says it all for the masses and just adds to the despair. Families of 5+ are not going to be using bikes to get around and hence like James Hansen says, its all of the oil and probably all of the gas we just have to tackle the coal.

    I was hoping that you had some radical energy ideas and knowledge but alas, you have some individually good incentives and practice but nothing for the masses.

    Many obtacles prevent energy efficiency and new technologies from taking off. Energy leaky houses that require a lot of incentives to patch up and will can potentially cause other issues. Solar thermal and solar water which for millions of homes are presently prohibitively expensive and every time fossil fuel bills rise governments do not seem to do anything constructive but talk to the fossil fuel companies rather than help pay for the alternatives. As for transport, we aint going to see A en masse movemtn of electric vehicles anytime soon but I hope you are right and the USA moves ot hybrids, 20 MPG to 60 MPG would be a very good thing, is it likely though ?

    Sorry about giving you ther wrong impression but I thought it was a reality energy conversation and not a optimists charter for an individual.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 13 Jan 2009 @ 4:32 AM

  280. Re #273, I said it was a hybrid but she sounded like it was 80% efficient over 20% and hence 4 times the MPG. Its nothing like that is it overall but we may be talking from two seperate continents where in the USA hybrids might be sounding like a machine made in heaven whereas in Europe it sounds like its a good vehicle but 60 -70 MPG already exists in diesel form.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 13 Jan 2009 @ 4:35 AM

  281. @ 279:

    Alan,

    I don’t have a family of 5+. I have no reason to have an electric SUV. However, if I needed an electric SUV, or a larger electric car, I know how to get one.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 13 Jan 2009 @ 9:16 AM

  282. Re #281, cool, and powered from your solar syaten no doubt to. Phew, that AGW solved then.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 13 Jan 2009 @ 10:34 AM

  283. Re #279, http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4251491.html

    Compressed air cars too. Little engine and a lot of power from a compressed air tank from using some electricity. 1000 mile range.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 13 Jan 2009 @ 10:41 AM

  284. in Europe it sounds like its a good vehicle but 60 -70 MPG already exists in diesel form.

    Remember, diesel’s about 20% more dense than gasoline to your 60-70 MPG TDI diesel is equivalent to a gasoline car getting 48-56 MPG in terms of carbon emissions (only).

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Jan 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  285. I have a great idea, let’s all fuss over little gains from individual choices in rapidly depreciated automobiles, instead of taking the big basic easy steps toward conservation. What’s that about, if not confusion, uncertainty, and delay?

    Example, still in play — standard electric utility transformers, regulated by Dept. of Energy to a cheap inefficient standard:

    ——excerpt——–

    Eight US utility companies call for tougher transformer efficiency standards 2006-11-02 08:30.
    Department of Energy proposal considered too weak

    … Distribution transformers in the USA currently conform to the energy efficiency standard NEMA TP-1. This is a voluntary industry standard, set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

    Last August, the federal Department of Energy (DOE) released a proposal for an efficiency standard for distribution transformers that goes further than the NEMA standard. According to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, the DOE is authorized to establish energy conservation standards for various consumer products and industrial equipment.

    Surprisingly enough, eight utility companies have stated that the DOE proposal does not go far enough. These companies argue that the DOE proposal does not set the minimum efficiency standard at the estimated minimum life cycle cost (which is calculated by the DOE itself). They want a tougher standard that would at least minimize the life cycle cost of the equipment.
    A benefit for the whole economy

    The eight utility companies side with several energy efficiency groups and consumer advocates. They argue that more efficient distribution transformers would benefit the US economy as a whole. Over a period of 28 years (the mean life expectancy of a distribution transformer), the tougher standard would save 459 billion kWh, or 50% more than the DOE proposal. That means a net savings of $11.1 billion, or $1.7 billion more than the DOE proposal…..

    -end excerpt-from: http://www.leonardo-energy.org/drupal/node/1039

    “… More than 40 million distribution transformers located on utility poles and cement pads across the United States serve the crucial function of reducing electricity voltage to the levels needed to power homes and businesses. In August, DOE proposed a weak standard that falls substantially short of the levels the agency’s own study shows would maximize economic savings….”

    http://www.ase.org/content/news/detail/3405

    “In 2007, the Attorney General also filed a petition PDF logo [PDF 7.77 mb / 61 pg] in the Ninth Circuit challenging DOE’s failure to adopt a stringent efficiency standard for electricity distribution transformers. Distribution transformers, mounted on utility poles or small concrete pads, reduce the power of electric current from the high voltages used in transmission lines to the lower voltages suitable for use by residential and commercial utility customers. More efficient distribution transformers significantly reduce the amount of electricity that is lost in the transformation process, and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with power generation. The Attorney General filed its opening brief PDF logo [PDF 2.95 mb / 82 pg] in the case on June 26, 2008.

    http://www.ag.ca.gov/globalwarming/energyefficiency.php

    Get this? It’s one agency. One regulation. One line of text.
    Utilities and states have had to file lawsuits trying to require the best off-the-shelf efficient technology to maximize economic return on the investment — the DOE mandated cheaper, less efficient standards.

    One line of text. One agency regulation. One rule — affecting more efficiency savings than all the little stuff getting so much attention. Where did you ever hear about this?

    And we’re fussing about who drives what kind of stupid car?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  286. When I switched to CFLs, my electric bill dropped 15 percent immediately. Furthermore, I now have the option of paying an additional 1-2 percent to purchase green energy through my power company. Which is being heavily promoted by the power company as well so it is not simply an “individualistic” thing.

    Comment by Dan — 13 Jan 2009 @ 11:09 AM

  287. Re #286, 284. I hope that the public understands the difference on car technologies in realtion to the climate. Diesel is a bit dirty it has to be said on its particulate emissions and the stuff on wiki about electric cars demonstarte that the future is this way or oompressed air maybe. Its good to see that the options are coming and so are the cars. Lets hope we have the clean electricity sources to power all these electric vehicles. SHould not a big issues in the USA, nor in Europe for that matter.

    Fills me with a good vibe.

    Comment by Alan Neale — 13 Jan 2009 @ 11:28 AM

  288. Yes, diesel has been quite dirty. However, in the past couple of years new diesel fuel and new diesel engines are much cleaner with regard to particulate emissions.

    Comment by Dan — 13 Jan 2009 @ 12:36 PM

  289. Alan Neale, I have seen families of 5 riding together on a single bicycle in Africa. However, perhaps the wierdest things I saw were the funerals:
    1)The taxi funeral–complete with casket sticking out of the back-seat window.
    2)The bicycle funeral–two guys riding in synchrony with a casket attached to the luggage racks on the back of the bikes with bungie cords!

    Amazing what people will come up with when they have no limited options.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Jan 2009 @ 1:13 PM

  290. Re list in original post, ‘methane from plants’ –

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7827106.stm

    “… a UK-based team now reports that under normal conditions, plants just convey methane from the soil to the air without actually producing it.

    Writing in a Royal Society journal, they suggest identifying sources of methane is key for climate control. …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2009 @ 8:14 PM

  291. Wondering what your thoughts are on this posting:
    http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2008/08/hathaway-and-ipcc-both-simply-ignore.html
    “With one exception. By refusing to even consider the possibility of an extended solar lull, Hathaway himself can avoid having to address the impact that such a lull would have on global temperature. If he did address that question, he would obviously have to note that the last really long such lull seems to have caused the Little Ice Age, which would place him on the side of the “deniers” in the debate about human-caused global warming. If low solar activity caused the Little Ice Age, then the “grand maximum” levels of solar activity during the 20th century would be the cause of 20th century warming, and the hoax of human-caused warming would be exposed.

    Looking at the science alone, however, Hathaway cannot be lumped with the IPCC. Most importantly, there actually is a solid body of evidence behind his predictive scheme. Past solar cycles HAVE tended to follow a particular pattern, where the shape of the up-phase predicts the shape of the down-phase.

    In contrast, there is no evidence whatsoever for the theory of human-caused global warming. In theory, additional CO2 should have SOME heat trapping effect, but there is no sign of it in the geological record. What warming effect CO2 has is evidently too small to measure, and this is just what we would expect.

    CO2 mostly traps the same wavelengths of infrared that the vastly more abundant water vapor, leaving very little heat trapping work for marginal increases in CO2 to perform. Thus theory itself says that the marginal effect of CO2 on temperature should be minuscule.”

    [Response: Error Theory indeed. The future behaviour of the sun has nothing to do with attribution of past events and is completely orthogonal to the physics of greenhouse effects. -gavin]

    Comment by Doc Sief — 13 Jan 2009 @ 10:57 PM

  292. Re #291:

    The linked blog is good for a chuckle. Scroll down beyond the “recommended” links to the usual places (WUWT, Heartland, etc.) and you’ll find a link to “the Real Frauds at RealClimate”.

    The author’s bio is especially amusing. In summary: “I was gonna get a PhD in Economics but I never did, and then I was about to write a book but I didn’t, and uhh, 9/11 conspiracies, and did I mention that I used to edit a campus newspaper?”

    Comment by spilgard — 14 Jan 2009 @ 10:01 AM

  293. “Doc”, what happens if you increase the density of a medium wherein a particle is moving by random collision from the centre to the edge?

    It takes longer to get out.

    Now, since input is in joules per SECOND, and the reradiation is in joules per SECOND, what do you think will happen when the joule takes longer to get out?

    Here’s a hint: the joules per SECOND goes down.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Jan 2009 @ 1:42 PM

  294. Perhaps the sceptical side of the argument could be permitted to nominate some candidates for the most outstanding elephant in the room, ignored in the original text.

    The obvious candidates are the UAH records, with the lower troposphere decadal trend at 0.13 degrees, and the mid troposphere at 0.04 degrees C, results which are simply not compatible with the high atmosphere AGW absorption theory. However, Gavin blames corruption from the cooling trend in the stratosphere for the mid troposphere result.

    The Hansen forecasts are worth nominating (diverging B line temperature forecasts and actual C line temperatures), but if you choose your start point carefully (the immediate post El-Nino point) the temperature trend is still upwards.

    The bias inherent in the ground station temperature measurements reported by Anthony Watts is a very strong candidate. I particularly recommend “ How not to measure temperature, part 79, NOAA USHCN COOP weather station #298107”.

    In my opinion, though, the nod has to go to the HADAT radio-sonde records from the Hadley centre, plotted with the corresponding CO2 record at “Global Warming at a Glance”. It is difficult to see any AGW effect in the plots, at all altitudes. The temperatures fall from the previous peak in the forties to the late seventies, in contrast to the rise in CO2 over the same period. There is a sharp step increase at the end of 1977, and a flat trend thereafter until the El Nino peak in 1998/99, another step from 1999 to 2001, followed by a decline back towards the seventies levels.

    The individual data records for the troposhere levels are well worth looking at. They confirm that the temperature trends from 1958 to September 2008 fall with altitude across the troposphere, from 0.16 degrees per decade at the lowest level to 0.13 at the top. Importantly, the trends from 1979, lower and upper, are very close to the UAH Northern hemisphere lower and mid troposphere trends, and most of the Radio-Sonde sites are in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Comment by Fred Staples — 14 Jan 2009 @ 4:06 PM

  295. For John Finn, who reported 11 January 2009 @ 1:22 PM:

    > Apparently 2 google searches produces the same CO2 …

    Nope: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=526108

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2009 @ 10:57 PM

  296. On the Fred Staples stuff, it’s the same old stuff. People get tired of helping Fred try to cite sources, because it’s never easy to come up with actual science to match what he claims, and he reposts the claims everywhere. This is how folks get the last word — by repetition without alteration despite attempts at education. I’m tired of chasing the stuff down.

    Someone want to write some software to find it all and collect it in one place?
    Then we could look for a pony.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  297. So, Fred, do tell, where is that massive discrepancy:
    http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j237/hausfath/Picture9.png

    Amazing how it goes away when you normalize everything to the same base period. Kudos to Zeke Hausfather for the plot.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Jan 2009 @ 12:42 PM

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