Gavin, my strong sense is that this goes way beyond the mere tug of what I called the “tyranny of the news peg,” beyond “whiplash journalism,” and beyond “availability entrepreneurship” (Cass Sunstein’s view of folks exploiting some event that happens to fit an agenda, in this case cool temps). My hypothesis (not sure if testable) is that he’s catering to a fairly old, quite conservative viewership and shaping coverage to suit. Perhaps I’m wrong. Would love to discuss with Dobbs. But the moment we start picking and choosing voices and “facts” — to suit a particular argument or audience — we’re no longer letting reality rule our coverage.
Without scientific literacy any recipient of the intended message of this show is at the mercy of their own ideology. I am left to wonder who and what were the behind the scenes forces that engendered this pile of hooey to the airwaves…
Here’s the science journo credentials of Ines Ferré, according to CNN:
Correspondent for CNN en Español based in New York since September 2004.
Before that “Ferré covered important local events as a reporter for Telemundo, channel 47, in New Jersey,” and as a radio reporter “interviewed many guest experts of various backgrounds, political leaders and celebrities from the world of entertainment.”
College degreee: communications.
[Response: As I stated above, Ferré is a general assignment reporter who does not have a science journalism background. That makes this understandable, but also underlines the problems in not having beat reporters focus on these issues. – gavin]
Comment by Joe Rojas-Burke — 14 Jan 2009 @ 5:57 PM
I was interviewed by CNN reporter Innes Ferre regarding an
absurd post in Daily Tech titled “Sea ice ends of at same level as 1979″
What the graph shows is that the global sea ice area for early January 2009 is on the long term average (zero anomaly). The author tries to read some relevance into the fact that the anomaly at the end of 1979 is also about zero. Given that there are many periods throughout the time series with a zero anomaly for the global total, it is puzzling why the end of 1979 was singled out. Presumably the point is to somehow cast doubt on global warming. However, if so, the author could have instead made an equally silly case for global cooling by contrasting the near zero anomaly of early January 2009 with the strong negative anomalies characterizing the later part of 2008.
The key point is that looking at the global total area is not relevant. All climate models tell us that it is the Arctic sea ice cover that declines first, and that Antarctic ice extent falls only later, and may even (as observed) temporarily increase in response to changing patterns of atmospheric circulation. In other words, events are unfolding pretty much as expected. Finally, the statement that there was “substantial recovery” this year in the Arctic is simply rubbish. Ice extent at the end of the melt season in the Arctic was second lowest on record and ice extent is still (as of early January) well below normal.
Simply put, this article is a masterpiece of cherry picking, misinterpretation and misrepresentation.
I explained this all to Innes. They still ran a piece on it.
Comment by Mark C. Serreze — 14 Jan 2009 @ 5:59 PM
This looks like a member of the editorial team has been got at by the right-wing lobby groups that feature in this piece. The members of these groups spend a lot of time courting editors. Similar efforts have been made in the UK, and I know that some BBC news editors have been got at in the past. Fortunately the intervention of science correspondents has prevented the knobbling of editorial staff from translating into misleading news reports.
In the UK, this sort of item would be subject to the broadcasting regulatory code, designed to ensure that broadcasters respect the right of the audience not to be presented with misleading and inaccurate information. I guess nothing similar exists in the US. But is there any formal mechanism for challenging the content of such a programme?
However, I fear that this is a further nail in the coffin of CNN’s coverage of science issues. Much more of this, and it will have sunk to the level of Fox News.
I think Lou Dobbs is trying to compete with Bill O’Relly on Fox News. I’m not very informed on that type of business, but I’ll take a stab in the dark and say that their contracts are probably very similar. A shock reporter if you will.
It’s a shame I didn’t save the email I sent the program a few weeks back. I’m not an Oscar Wilds or Charles Dickens but managed to make it drip with sarcasm nevertheless.
Each year about 450 cubic kilometers of ice is melted from the poles. This cools our planet by about
100 terrawatts. Without this cooling the surface temperature of earth would have risen to _____deg.C?
“Solar irradiance has a non-negligible effect on global temperature [see, e.g., Reference 7, which empirically estimates a somewhat larger solar cycle effect than that estimated by others who have teased a solar effect out of data with different methods]. Given our expectation of the next El Nino beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.”
This astounds me, but to be honest I am no longer surprised. It is no wonder there is such a confusion of “debate” outside the scientific community. As someone who writes for a student newspaper, putting this sort of propaganda and intellectual bankruptcy in front of viewers/readers is unimaginable to me. Judging from Mark Serreze’s post, it doesn’t seem like there’s much people can do about it.
We should be concerned everyone, so please hear me out but let me know if I’m over reacting here.
This could be the start of a dangerous pause in our ongoing success with media sectors. I’m sure most us have begrudgingly noticed a crack in the amour in respects to our maintaining the edge in the media coverage. This colder than normal winter unfortunately is making people lose focus of the image of importance that we are working so hard instill in the minds of the general public. Consider us lucky in one respect as they generally have not noticed that a lot of our media is concerning the effects of climate change as opposed to the causes. And with 2008 being the coldest year this century, any future extended cold trend over a 10 or 20 year period say, must be deflected with how climate change can cause “climate instability” with a further focus of CO2 being man made and certainly a pollutant. I always try to tell people who doubt climate change that if they thought of an earth without humans, you could then easily see how we are having a definite effect on our environment.
CNN does its best, but its best is not good enough. While reporter Anderson Cooper goes around the world in corporate jets to report on OUR PERILOUS EARTH, he goes on Jon Stewart’s COMEDY CENTRAL DAILY SHOW to act like a jerk interviewing dogs in a mock election debate skit, and lowers himself to even saying “Get that B——- off the stage!” at one point in the tasteless skit. This kind of VIP me me me journalism, and lowering himself to such crapola, takes away from whatever seriousness he once had. He does not care about the Earth. He only cares about his silver highlights. It’s sad what CNN has become. All I can say is this:
It’s pretty frustrating to see this sort of reactionary journalism.
Somewhat related to the yearly recap above from GISS, I was thinking about analyzing some numbers for simple illustrative purposes. I wanted to examine the yearly temperature anomaly when there would be very similar forcing from things like irradiance, ENSO and volcanic forcing. If those contributions were the same say in 1975 for example as they are now, would it be too simplistic to analyze the anomaly difference and then use the difference in atmospheric carbon dioxide ppmv and climate sensitivity to show somebody that these claims of impending cooling trends are nonsense?
If so, does anyone know where could I find archived data for things like TSI and ENSO? Or am I (4th year animal science student) in over my head?
[Response: See the Climate Data Links on the sidebar. Most of this is easily available. – gavin]
Danny Bloom says: “CNN does its best, but its best is not good enough.”
Bull Puckey! CNN isn’t even trying to get it right. This is utterly pathetic. The only ones stupider than the talking heads are the ones still listening to them. I turn on my TV for one half-hour a week to watch “The Big Bang Theory”–the only decent thing I’ve seen on the tube in 20 years. The Romans had their bread and circuses. America seems to be trying to see if it can do without the bread.
#12 – I’m not going to lie to you, there is heavy spin going on with both sides of this debate. There is a lot of big players involved on both sides and a lot of stuff coming out of peoples mouths isn’t science, it’s propaganda.
Does man have an impact on the environment? Yes, you cannot touch something unless you change it.
How big of an impact is mankind having on the climate?………… That isn’t known.
How much will the climate change? That isn’t known.
Now there is other areas I will defend. Ecosystems are being impacted by mankind and some of them dangerously so. For example take the firefly (It’s called the lightning bug here), the population of that bug has dropped 90 or so percent in recent years (that’s globally btw). Researches think that it may be due to light pollution. I’m personally leaning more towards a possible change in lights or perhaps air pollution as I live in a low populated area and the decline is still extreme. There is simply no reasonable account for it to explain it properly. In any regard, one could only speculate about how many other species that will be displaced because of their decline. Like if you went into a cave and killed every single bat, just about the entire ecosystem in that cave would collapse as a result. It’s almost amazing how things can be linked. It’s a chaos problem honestly. Anyway, when resources start depleting and populations rise, the consequences can be read in history.
Is this info correct? If so, it seems to imply some natural cooling could be starting.
[Response: Read the article (can’t see the image on your link though). The natural cooling they are talking is about is scheduled to happen…… any millennia now. (actually, not for another 30,000 years). Not really something to be too concerned about. – gavin]
Re #7 Richard Pauli – what fraction are skeptics?
I’ve been working on this a lot lately, and I’ve posted some annotated lists on my website (see link above). I’ve gathered around 1600 names, and I’ve annotated over 1100 of these to date. I note the cite counts of their top 4 most cited works, per Google Scholar, and link to their homepage and photo. It looks like ‘skeptics’ with some publication record make up around 4% of the names I’ve been able to collect so far. I have not gone through all of the names put forward by Inhofe/Morano, though I did add the few dozen that one blogger picked out as actual climatologists.
I’m still weighing how to annotate for ‘skeptic’ status: some are very definite, but I’m uneasy about having a black-and-white “he’s a skeptic, he’s not” division. Up to now I’ve just tagged those who signed some prominent petitions or open letters, fellows of those “think tanks” that have been the most vocal arguing against the IPCC, or similar. In lieu of listing some as “skeptic” I’m thinking of indicating think-tank affiliations and open-letter signatories.
and I think it highlights the problem really well; what Dobbs and his backers are trying to do here (and Fox News has been doing all along) is move the reality of global warming out of the “sphere of consensus” into the “sphere of legitimate debate”, and then host such a debate in a way that pushes the vast majority of real scientists like Gavin off into the fringes of the “sphere of deviance”, so they can be more roundly ignored in future.
Obviously this effort (surely at least indirectly fostered by entrenched fossil fuel interests) has been far too successful to this point; we have to know what we’re fighting here at least as a first step. How to win the war? I really can’t say – obviously the vast populace opposed to much of the Bush administration narrative of the past 8 years only finally succeeded through the recent election, and it’s hard to tell how much solid ground we have there even now…
And with 2008 being the coldest year this century, any future extended cold trend over a 10 or 20 year period say, must be deflected with how climate change can cause “climate instability” with a further focus of CO2 being man made and certainly a pollutant.
That’s weird, I would have thought that should such an unlikely event as a “20 cold trend” (added onto the last 10 years) happen, one might have cause to re-think AGW.
I’m surprised that Dobbs didn’t include Senator Inhofe. The Republicans lost the election, so now it looks like their are trying a new tactic in their efforts to destroy the environmental sciences. Not that their anti-science is a new thing, but, like the rest of the Fundamentalist, they simply won’t accept any other world view which challenges their beliefs.
I notice that Lou Dobbs has a web page which offers an e-mail link. Perhaps folks might express their opinions directly to Mr. Dobbs, as I did…
Follow the money: It probably leads to the coal industry, but it could lead to the oil industry. Did the coal industry buy CNN or Fox? It is necessary to attack the source of the money rather than the propaganda. Just attacking the propaganda leaves the money source intact and more willing than ever to buy more propaganda. I doubt that merely discrediting CNN or Fox will do any good. They can buy a lot more propaganda than scientists can tell the truth. “Money talks.” The coal industry is too big at $100 Billion/year. I suggest a new tactic:
1. Investigate the money trail and publish the money trail.
2. Tell everybody another truth about coal: Coal contains uranium, thorium, lead, etc. in such large amounts that we are being poisoned by a lot more than just mercury and sulfur.
3. Tell everybody that crude oil contains benzene, one of the strongest carcinogens known.
The purpose of the improved tactic is to put coal out of business and oil into jeopardy. Once coal is out of business, there will be a lot less opposition to the truth and people will be able to hear RealClimate.
I noticed that NBC was the only network that I saw the coal ash spill on. Does that have anything to do with the fact that Microsoft bought NBC and Bill Gates can’t be bought by the coal or oil companies? Not even NBC said that coal contains uranium.
The emotional responses elicited by you folks are telling. For years, we have been told that solar cycles and sunspots are irrelevant, that the striking correlation between solar cycle length and global temperature anomalies was a fabrication. It’s not a fabrication. It’s not hard to do it yourself, by applying an 11.5y running mean to solar data and it correlates way better than CO2. I did it. It works. Now, I completely agree with you folks here at RealClimate that this is probably because solar effects and oceanic effects produce the short-term variability on an overall trend that may well be due to greenhouse gases, but a few years ago, many pro-AGW types were spouting about that solar cycles had nothing to do with anything. Think back – were you one of them?
I am increasingly convinced that solar activity is more important than vocal, mainstream ecoscientists have led themselves to believe. Cooling has been occurring for over seven years. Of course, we are repeatedly reminded of the normal climatic variability, that this is just a blip on the 100y trend (as if we aren’t capably ourselves of understanding this possibility), and that we are still above average, compared to the past 100 years. Of course, we are told, urban heat island effects are fully accounted for, terrible weather station sites can be ignored because the effect can apparently go either way and wash out in the end, and the removal of rural stations is just not important – just a concoction of people who are frustrated because they can’t get published. Some of these things are probably true, but hearing all of these aguments over and over starts to make me wonder if you folks have just invented a new religion. Is it politically correct to question the status quo? How do you treat people who openly question you. How likely are young, skeptical, untenured faculty to show their anti-AGW opinions?
Who are you proponents? A few, honest climate modellers (perhaps there are a few amongst you beginning to worry about how your careers are going to look a few decades from now), and then lots of environmental scientists, geographers, activists, politicians and the gullible populace. Physicists are the ones who really understand how this evil molecule CO2 warms the climate. We all have the selective absorption plots etched in our minds, we all know how it absorbs longwave radiation emitted from the earth (and emits some itself in all directions), and we all know how fast it has been increasing in concentration. But we don’t really, really understand (with a few exceptions) exactly how the molecule does this. A few of the top climate scientists get it, but the field with the most AGW-skeptics is PHYSICS. Most of the physicists I know either believe that the effect has been overestimated, or that it is insignificant.
Sometimes, these honest skeptics speak out (brave souls), but are tossed aside by the mainstream for not having publications ‘in the field.’ Look in the mirror and tell me that you would give an honest, even-handed critical review to an anti-AGW paper. Oh, you’ll tell yourself that you would, but face it. They are forced into energy and astrophysics journals, and are then criticized for not being in the mainstream, or even for being in an anti-AGW environment (which is probably true in the case of the energy and resource literature, but where else are they going to go).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually do think greenhouse gases must cause some warming. I mean, they affect the net radiation balance, so how couldn’t they. But, the effect seems to be small enough that it is only 0.17 degrees above average with an extra 105 ppm. We all know that CO2 concentrations were much higher in the past, and that temperatures varied from cooler than today to seven degrees warmer than today with these concentrations. How on earth could it, thus, be the main factor? Secondly, climate models are complex and we get a lot wrong. The end products (eg. temperature) are really only individual components of models. If I mention this, people treat me like I’m the next Tim Ball or Lou Dobbs. Why? If it is because there is a simple explanation and I should know better, then just tell me. Don’t treat me like some kind of heathen.
Even on the internet, inconvenient data are hidden. Go to the NSIDC, where lots of beautiful graphs are available for both the Arctic and Antarctic. When you get to the site, look for the Arctic data. Now look for the Antarctic data. Which was easier? Look how Mark Serreze explains the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice situation. While I agree that the CNN article was a ‘masterpiece of cherry-picking,’ and it wouldn’t surprise me if increased snowfall and snowmelt might somehow lead to an increase in Antarctic sea ice (more cold freshwater?), then why don’t you folks explain this in the media, instead of focusing on the Arctic and on the tiny portions of Antartica where it looks like the end of ice as we know it is nigh? It’s not like the media doesn’t like reporting on climate change for crying out loud. It’s all we ever hear. With respect to this interhemispheric difference, this type of masterful cherry-picking (to use your words) makes those of us who don’t actually have lower IQ’s than you folks suspicious. No wonder there are skeptics. The emotional responses are partisan, biased, irrational and unhelpful. Even the intelligent can be delusional.
We are in the midst of a cooling period, albeit a very short one so far, that is in phase with the beginning of what may become a relatively inactive period for the sun. The solar wind is declining, the earth’s atmosphere is shrinking and there are fewer sunspots and it is getting colder. In the 1990’s how many models predicted this? I recall them well. The trend was just upward. Period. How well are solar effects included in the models? Perhaps it was thought that the solar effects were not important because the solar constant doesn’t change much (1364-1370 W/m2), but the correlation with climate does suggest that there is some amplifying mechanism that we should be looking for. The data scream at us that it is important, but we refuse to see it. It just might be as important as greenhouse gases. The CO2 effect may be overestimated (radiative forcing is not exactly what you would call a precise science, n’est-ce pas?). If climate scientists don’t open their minds a bit and listen to some of the criticism instead of applying emotional, knee-jerk reactions to any thoughtful criticism, and if you don’t stop treating the non-believers like right-wing, Exxon-funded blasphemous trash, then you are going to look very silly if you turn out to be wrong and you are going to ruin environmental earth science funding for decades in the process.
Greisch: Oh, come on… have you watched CNN lately (what a terrible excuse for a news channel – it’s amazing what Americans will put up with). It is the freaking Obama channel (which is a good thing, as he seems to have a good attitude and I think he will do good things). If they were paid off by big oil and coal, they would be behaving quite differently. Lou and Innes are allowed to say what they say because CNN loves the big simplified story. Fit for mass consumption in a dumbed down world. (Is it ironic that my CAPTCHA code is “reporter proves”? I guess, technically, no, but it is a funny coincidence).
2) They get revenue from subscribers, and from advertisers, to whom they pitch “well-educated and affluent people” … which does seem contradicted by Lou Dobbs’ general style (populist outrage on any topic), but that’s what they claim.
3) Companies advertise on Dobbs’ show on CNN, and at his website.
4) Suppose someone with a website (not RC) collected names and contact addresses of companies that advertise with Dobbs (show or website).
People might write such companies explaining that CNN is perfectly free to show whatever they want, but if companies are going to advertise on a show that can be so profoundly and purposefully anti-science … they might want to think twice about it. Some might write stronger words.
#11: “Judging from Mark Serreze’s post, it doesn’t seem like there’s much people can do about it.”
Oh yeah there is, and the key is Bob Ward’s post #6: “In the UK, this sort of item would be subject to the broadcasting regulatory code, designed to ensure that broadcasters respect the right of the audience not to be presented with misleading and inaccurate information. I guess nothing similar exists in the US.”
Exactly the problem. NO accountability, whatsoever, for bulls**t journalism here. The only standard in part of the media is whether a “story” will generate readers/viewers (= fame, and indirectly, $$$). Journalists and media owners in this part know this. When they’re held responsible for disinformation, they’ll change course, and not until. (This does not, of course, apply to the many who do have a conscience and want to be accurate for accuracy’s sake.)
We need something similar to personal libel and slander laws, but for disinformation in the media. That’ll change their thought processes.
[Response: I appreciate the sentiment, but frankly this is a dead end approach. The answer to bad information is better information. – gavin]
It occurs to me that all this cold-weather talk concerning the U.S. could be usefully countered by discussion of temperature anomalies in the Arctic. After all, if the unusually cold weather is due to an unusual amount of cold air from the Arctic, there must be an exchange of air going on, that carries air from more temperate regions into the Arctic. So there should be unusually warm weather up there.
Is there any discussion or presentation of this anywhere?
On a separate point: I think Lou Dobbs has always expressed a pro-business perspective, so the direction of this tilt is not a surprise.
The good news is that Obama’s science team is strongly behind the mainstream science of anthropogenic global warming. I think there should be an effort made to engage them in the public-relations issues. In particular, Steve Chu, as Secretary of Energy, should be asked to take a strong and vocal position: He should certainly be clear on the technological options, and he’s probably well-informed on the climate science. And it’s pretty hard to dismiss a recent Nobel laureate in Physics as a dingbat, even on a Fox or CNN “news” program.
If he takes this role seriously, Chu could be for the AGW issue what C. Everett Koop was for smoking. It would be really great if half of the published stories about AGW were NOT about fringe-science views, but maybe only 10%.
On the CNN story – as I don’t watch cable TV I missed the program… poor me!
That Dobbs show, as described, is perfectly understandable without resorting to conspiracy theories. In order to attract viewers (which are needed to sell advertisement) programs have to offer something new, extreme, or just weird. All Dobbs is doing is searching for controversy in the hopes that it will help his ratings. Media do this all the time.
What differentiates scientific research from the popular media is (or ought to be) that the scientific community enforces a standard of honesty, accuracy, and transparency on itself.
CNN is notorious for its un-researched reports (cf. the recent case of the pseudo-CPR from Gaza.)
Does this mean the scientific endeavor will be destroyed by media malfeasance? NO. Ever since Galileo the scientific process in western civilization has outlasted not just “media” of different types but whole governance systems and nations.
As an outsider, it seems obvious to me…the science dept of CNN was disbanded with the specific intention of getting this sort of stuff onto the news.
It looks clearly to me like the money moguls are trying to up the pressure on Obama to delay proper action on reducing emissions. After all, why disband a science group and then continue to report on science. It was staged!
Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 15 Jan 2009 @ 5:42 AM
The USA right has always tried to protect its intersts through the media. In the USA the right is far too well organised and savvy about the ways and means of making anything unpleasant in its eyes a bad thing. They have always done it and climate change is no different. This time though they are up against a reality that is scientific and hence a lot more difficult to dilute especially as the arguments go around the world and are not just at home.
The deniesphere has recently had a bit of a rejuvination with the recentl cold weather selectively reported on and the Suns sunpot crisis (cycle of minimum activity) getting the old deniers excited again and again and again as the media and broadcasters seek to exacerbate the debate over and over again to fill the 24 hour slots.
The USA must rememeber though, it is no longer and right wing contry predominently but a liberal one. Just watch the daily show and the colbert report or contact them and get them to do some great funny footage on this debate as their is nothing like laughter to convince the liberal masses. If the USA liberals are anothing like the UK ones then what they want is a fair dedate before any decisions are taken. This is how the BBC works and they tried for years to put it that way before even they realised that when it comes to emprical science you have to listen to the evidence and not argue about it from either way. Science has its own means of obtaining its own truth and real climate is one of these places that tell it.
Anyway, if anyone had not noticed its the liberals turn to rule in the USA and CNN and others hopefully will not matter in this term especially when the next el nino hopefully sens the thermometer rising to dampen the skeptics again.
Lets hope Obama somehow manages to get the USA world leaders in renewable energy.
Luckily I don’t get CNN here. No cable, and Australian public TV is very good. It only partially makes up for the newspapers (I stopped buying The Australian when I realised they were on an anti-science jihad).
The real problem is wilful inability to accept simple facts. I’ve had arguments with people who apparently understand the difference between climate and weather, then say something that clearly shows they don’t.
I’m not sure how you address that. Supplying facts and logical argument for sure doesn’t. You have to wonder about people who are being deliberately dishonest; do they really think they can move to another planet? But people who are unable to follow a simple logical argument and maintain the truth of a fact from one end of a sentence to another make me wonder whether intelligent life has evolved elsewhere in the universe, because it hasn’t here. For lighter relief, how about this senator from the great state of Queensland, who objects to being called a climate change “denier” because it sounds like “holocaust denier”, then goes on to call environmentalists Nazis? Talk about the inability to maintain a consistent argument from one end of a sentence to another.
(Disclosure: I am running as a Greens candidate in the next Qld state election.)
I just sent a not-so-short letter to Lou Dobbs incorporating some of the points made by Gavin, and a couple others, and requesting a more factually accurate story be done.
Couple of additional points I included:
This potential bias [urban heat island] (and several others, such as time of observation bias and instrument change biases) have long been known, and have been adjusted for by Tom Karl and others using standard and well accepted statistical methods.
Third, Wissner-Gross, responding to your question on carbon emissions (and what “130 year survey” were you referring to exactly?), states that technological advances will lead to a smaller carbon footprint. This hopeful statement is, unfortunately, entirely without evidence, viz: (1) carbon dioxide emission rates continue to accelerate, and (2) a per capita emissions decline due to technology is irrelevant unless it substantially exceeds the per-capita global population rise, which also shows no sign of abating.
Fehr also states that “…it’s really arrogant to think that man controls the climate. 90 percent of the climate is water vapor which we have no impact over…”. These are senseless statements, viz: (1) scientists deal in evidence, not opinions about what is “arrogant” or not relative to human activities, and (2) the water vapor statement is simply non-sensical, and indicates to anyone who knows anything about the topic that he does not know the subject. (The climate is 90% water vapor–WHAT?)
Bill B., “unlikely event,” indeed! But why “added on” to the warmest ten year period in the composite record? Oh, wait, I’m not very good at cherry-picking; that would be 1998-2007, wouldn’t it? Guess I should have said “warmest twelve-year period in the composite record.”
my goodness it is infuriating when people try to paint climate change as being a left or right wing issue. anyone with half a brain can quite clearly see it is neither, it’s a scientific issue.
though i guess that doesn’t make for good current affairs programs does it?
i’m interested by the tack taken by several people in the interview above, of supporting renewable energy and conservation generally, but maintaining that somehow CO2 has nothing to do with the climate.
i got into a debate recently with some family members (ahh, christmas) about this. i tried to be polite and gentle in the face of their gob-smacking ignorance and extraordinary arrogance (i mostly succeeded). they were saying that they buy their electricity from renewable sources and have water tanks etc and thinks humans should pollute less, but that they “don’t believe in climate change” (and yes, i pointed out that it isn’t something you believe, either the evidence is there and/or the theory makes sense, or it doesn’t).
they were unable to answer me when i asked if they think that CO2 is a pollutant.
so they behave in a very ‘green’ way that is probably friendlier to the climate than most, but seemingly don’t know why they do it.
all i can think is that seemingly it is becoming so socially unacceptable to be covetous of the earth’s resources that they’re changing what they do if not what they think (which probably matters more anyway).
and so they should. because none of us has the right to damage the lives of our children and grandchildren, or anyone else’s. that would be truly arrogant.
Lulo wrote: “If climate scientists don’t open their minds a bit and listen to some of the criticism instead of applying emotional, knee-jerk reactions to any thoughtful criticism, and if you don’t stop treating the non-believers like right-wing, Exxon-funded blasphemous trash, then you are going to look very silly if you turn out to be wrong and you are going to ruin environmental earth science funding for decades in the process.”
It appears you may not understand how science is conducted through the scientific method. Which includes rigorous debate through peer-reviewed journals and scientific conference. That is where the true scientific criticism occurs.
BTW, I have a physics and a graduate meteorology degree. I understnad the physics involved. It is quite basic actually. So don’t go there with the “skeptic physicists” crap.
Re #47, This is the crux of it all. The public want the debate for everything is debated these days. However science is not debated by normal people but within the scientific forum and that excludes ordinary people. Unfortunately though AGW requires a plan of serious action and intent that most of the public do not know where the conclusion has come from and hence the media have whiped it up on both sides of the political divide. Leaving the scientific documentaries and attempts at discusing it aside the media and folks have moved it into the economic and political realm of what shall we do, if anything at all.
The science is mixed up in part with the arguments about what to do about it. The UK this morning has announced a third runway at the world busiest Airport, Heathrow, London. The arguments run from aviation will be cutting emissions by using new types of Aircraft and joining up flights to reduce emissions etc to the UK needs this third runway in order to be a greater part of the global economy. Flying on generates 2% of our 2% of global emissions and stuff like it. Its an inpenetrable mess and the media debate the issue from many angles, environmental, economic and political.
The bottom line is that although the UK Government talks the talk on AGW and has promised emissions limits apparantly in line with the EU framework it does appear to demonstrate that politics and economics comes first and AGW and the science a fair way behind.
Progress and prosperity are the order of the modern world due to this some very intelligent people had better come out with some seriously deployable new technologies that emit little carbon but provide as much energy and more than fossil fuels presently do.
Its almost impossible at the present time to see this occuring within the slated time lines of 2050 for a 80% cut. But that is just my opinion. It might well be possible or we could go the geoengineering route.
Roll on Denmark 2009 and see if Obama has the stomach to get start the global mitigation required for th world relies on the USA for the big ideals and Kyoto has failed thus far.
Can someone explain in a bit more detail why I shouldn’t be concerned with correlation between satellite measurements and ground stations. As a non-expert this caught my eye:
“Yes, I do. In fact, if you look at the satellite data, which is the most reliable data, the best coverage of the globe, 2008 was the 14th coldest in 30 years. That doesn’t jive with the tenth warmest in 159 years in the Hadley data set or 113 or 114 years in the NOAA data set.”
My understanding was there was good correlation between ground/satellite – is this simply wrong? Satellite’s really didn’t say this was the 14th warmest in 30 years. And Hadley / NOAA really didn’t say 10th warmest in 100+ years?
[Response: The satellites and surface records measure different things and have different responses to El Nino events and the like. Thus while the series are highly correlated, they are different enough (even assuming no systematic errors) that rankings among very similar years are not identical. As I said a few posts back, complex data can be described in many different ways – all of which can be strictly true – but that give very different impressions. – gavin]
Something doesn’t connect for me. Perhaps this ‘difference’ is all within the noise level?
But why “added on” to the warmest ten year period in the composite record? Oh, wait, I’m not very good at cherry-picking;
Nothing so nefarious as that, I figured that the last ten years plus the imagined “20 year cold trend” would get me to 30 years (the widely agreed upon period of time for trends in climate to be meaningful).
Neal J. King: “Steve Chu, as Secretary of Energy, should be asked to take a strong and vocal position: He should certainly be clear on the technological options, and he’s probably well-informed on the climate science.”
Based on what I had read about Steven Chu, I thought his nomination was a very promising step. However, at his confirmation hearing this week, he stated that he supports the construction of more conventional coal-fired power plants, without carbon capture and sequestration technology. (Of course, coal-fired power plants with CCS cannot be built because the technology does not exist and is unlikely to exist for decades, if ever.)
This was worse than disappointing — as was Chu’s stated support for “acclerating” massive taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power. It suggests that despite the rhetoric coming from Obama and Chu about the urgency of reducing CO2 emissions, they will in fact pursue a pretty much “business as usual” energy policy that puts the profits of politically powerful industries (coal and nuclear) ahead of actual energy and climate concerns.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Jan 2009 @ 12:07 PM
It is astounding how Alan Neale (40) can get so much about the media, political bents, and most of the other stuff so bass ackwards. Are you actually watching and objectively assessing media? Liberals want an open fair and balanced discussion? Kinda like Jim Bouldin wants skeptics subject to slander and libel laws? Or others, including Hansen, want them imprisoned? You must be joking.
[Response: You are misrepresenting both Bouldin’s and Hansen’s positions. Please don’t do that. The issue is not skepticism – this is a worthwhile and indeed essential part of science. It is deliberate misinformation. Now I don’t particularly agree with either Jim on this, but a) everyone is already subject to slander and libel laws, and b) Hansen was talking about the CEOs (analogous to the tobacco executives) who fund disinformation in support of their personal financial interest. Making up positions that neither Jim holds so you can get all outraged about it is not particularly interesting. – gavin]
#48 – Do you honestly expect the “ordinary” people to accept all claims by the scientific community as if it were a divine message? Just because someone isn’t a formal scientist does not mean that they cannot contribute to science or be critical of it. Micheal Faraday is a great example of a “ordinary” person who changed the world of physics. It’s unlikely he will ever be considered among the greats of science, mostly due to him not being considered a formal elite, but his contributions changed the world forever.
Science is not an argument, it’s not a debate, it’s not a meeting between world leading scientist who make claims, it’s simply evidence. I don’t give a hoot if Albert Einstein rises from the grave and declares mankind and it’s responsibility for global warming. Unless Albert can produce incontrovertible evidence, then it would be Albert’s opinion not science.
There is a ton of variables at play when it comes to climate. The sun, orbits, nature (including mankind), ocean currents, water vapor, seismic events, and everything else under the sun. If mankind had never entered the industrial age, would we still have a climate change? What evidence do you have to suggest one way or another, what mathematical proofs? At the present time there is more questions then available evidence. Until that changes, this topic is very debatable about what the implications are of mankind’s activities.
[Response: Just declaring that you need to be convinced by evidence is not evidence that the evidence doesn’t actually exist. Start with the IPCC report. – gavin]
This discussion reads like a POLITICAL blog and NOT a Scientific one…. What a shame….I came here to read dicussions regarding the Science of Global Warming and all I see here is name calling and political bickering in the guise of science….again…what a shame…!
I saw a reference to that Pravda article on another website and gave it the smackdown using info from
Real Climate (thanks guys! You are making a difference)…not that its poor quality wasn’t obvious even without it [Note to Pravda: If you’re going to claim that the Co2 levels of 325,000 years ago were higher than today’s, don’t link to the ice-core data which proves you are lying :)].
From the comments on James Hansen’s Blog and on the 2008 Temperature Summation report on the GISSTemp page, it appears the GHG warming trend has been reduced to ~0.15C per decade from the previous estimates of over 0.2C per decade.
“Greenhouse gases: Annual growth rate of climate forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) slowed from a peak close to 0.05 W/m2 per year around 1980-85 to about 0.035 W/m2 in recent years due to slowdown of CH4 and CFC growth rates [ref. 6]. Resumed methane growth, if it continued in 2008 as in 2007, adds about 0.005 W/m2. From climate models and empirical analyses, this GHG forcing trend translates into a mean warming rate of ~0.15°C per decade.”
Perhaps you’d like to comment gavin.
[Response: The estimate of 0.2 deg C/decade from IPCC is for the next two to three decades. This is obviously distinct from rate up until now. If the scenarios that were used in AR4 are out of date (because of the differences in CH4, CFCs, CO2 or aerosols – and the numbers aren’t all in yet, the expected trend right now might change in the new AR5 runs we will be starting shortly. Up til then, I’m content to stick with the AR4 expectations (which for a 10 year trend centered on 1 Jan 2008 is 0.19 deg C/dec (though +/- 0.3 degC/dec, 2 sigma). – gavin]
JB, I would suggest you look around a bit at some of the postings before you reach a conclusion. Start with the “Start Here” button in the upper right hand corner.
The thing you must realize is that many of us will be hearing from friends and relatives about the crap CNN has been running. For me, since I don’t watch TV, this is a useful post, as now I have some idea and will be prepared to dispel some the the misinformation Dobbs et al. presented.
There is no evidence because if there WERE evidence, then I would be convinced. But since I’m not convinced, there is no evidence.
Oh and gavin, your reply to #34 is incorrect. Fox (I think) got away with misinformation by arguing that they didn’t have to tell the truth! They got away with saying that and got off the charges!!!
It doesn’t work very well to have a broadcasting standards like we have here in the UK since there is still a LOT of disinformation. However, we DID get that load of cod about the Great Global Warming Swindle nixed. The papers didn’t bruit about it much, but there’s not going to be a repeat performance.
A broadcasting standard exists in the UK and doesn’t in the US.
I don’t see how this is a dead end. It DOES work and it shouldn’t be impossible. How many people will bother with a station that goes against such a statute? “I don’t want to be forced to tell the truth!!!” isn’t going to go down well in public.
JB, #55. So don’t read this thread. Read one of the other ones. Or if none of them are scientific enough for you, subscribe to Nature.
lulo (29) — You managed to get it all wrong. I suggest starting with the “Start Here” link at the top of the page.
Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Jan 2009 @ 2:21 PM
Re #53, the liberal media want it debated, it is how they want it. The right wing guys just want to flood their world with a load of lies essentially and hence roll out the usual load of garbage and the usual deniers who spout the same stuff over and over. I know the media and read all of the UK newspapers everyday online. RC got it bang on with the Daily Telegraph and the little hitler version the Daily Mail is not worth mentioning an it rants on in a meaningless way. The other media in the UK including the Independent and the Guardian have at times over sold the AGW message and thats intolerable too but relative to the DT they have been far more balanced.
Re #54, You make it sound as if the scientists do not know that. You only know it because the scientists knew it first. Your ranting to be fair an demonstrating a typical arrogant sentiment. The fact that you mention the word DIVINE makes me thing, oh here we go. This person is just taking the it aint hapenning angle because it does not fit in with his world view. Shame really as there is plenty of evidence and not a jolt of it from God.
Gavin answered well. I never said anything about libel towards skeptics. My comment was in reference to deliberate misinformation of well established data or concepts, and/or misrepresentation of the breadth and strength of scientific evidence by the media.
#54 (EL): “If mankind had never entered the industrial age, would we still have a climate change? What evidence do you have to suggest one way or another, what mathematical proofs?”
Your question is important and gets at the heart of why climate models are so vitally important. To the degree that they can accurately describe the essential physics of the climate system, they are able to provide probabilistic answers to exactly that type of question (and others), via model experiments, in which various forcings and model parameters are systematically varied to see the outcome. Without them we are indeed left with the hodgepodge of possible causes you list, and no systematic way to evaluate them. This is typically the case with any system that is not amenable to manipulative experimentation, of which there are many.
you misunderstand… the political arena is distorting the science and so at some point us scientists, especially climatologists (but all scientifically literate and responsible persons) must respond back. We must illuminate the disinformation with real information ccoming from data, but we must also respond to baselss allegations about a so called “debate,” over whether there is global warming and if human activities influence it.
“Solar irradiance has a non-negligible effect on global temperature [see, e.g., Reference 7, which empirically estimates a somewhat larger solar cycle effect than that estimated by others who have teased a solar effect out of data with different methods]. Given our expectation of the next El Nino beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.”
Is Jim Hansen a climate scientist? I thought he was a physicist. Someone please clarify, thank you!
The issue about the Arctic icecap melt is one of physics of phase shift. The cold \weather\ is from all the melted ice. A lot of energy is required to convert ice to water; It is the physics of that shift which consumes energy.
Then the global warming increases after there is little to no melt. This may take a while, during which there is cool \weather\, but the aftereffect is no buffering from ice, just seasonal wide variations, and true warmer weather.
Maybe not so much you Gavin (however, have you actually used the term Cold Wave?) But, jeeze, just look at the previous 2 posts 65 and 66. Just do a basic search on your site to come up with plenty more examples. Cold periods are almost always referred to as weather (or cold snaps) and periods of heat are “heat waves”.
If nothings else, as this is your site, why not push for consistency in nomenclature?
Mark (59) A broadcasting standard exists in the UK and doesn’t in the US.
I don’t see how this is a dead end. It DOES work and it shouldn’t be impossible. How many people will bother with a station that goes against such a statute? “I don’t want to be forced to tell the truth!!!” isn’t going to go down well in public.
The difference between the US and the UK is our founding fathers thought it necessary to include Freedom of the Press in our constitution to protect the fee exchange of ideas. The obvious problem with a statute that requires the media to tell the truth is you then need an arbiter of what the truth is, and the problem with that is who gets to choose who is the arbiter.
[Response: Hmm.. I’ll have a look when I get a chance, but given that he is using Monckton as a source of some of his graphics, I think D’Aleo’s position as cherry-picker in chief is likely to be unassailable. – gavin]
Keith # 64,most climatologists are physicists, meteorologists, and/or mathematicians/chemists. Many have several degrees in different disciplines. There are specialty classes one can take, post graduate and post PHD training in the workplace and through internships as well, but a climate scientist is not one who has degrees in “climate science,” per se.
For example my graduate degrees are in Biology and Chemistry, (with an emphasis on physical and organic chemistry,) but I have an undergraduate degree in physics and I have taken many courses in Geology, Earth Science, Meteorology, Oceanography etc…However, the basic tenents of weather and climate obey the laws of physics and can be mathematically modelled with great accuracy. It takes more than just one scientific discipline to model climate, peer into the distant past or paleoclimate, and understand where it may be headed.
Gavin (53), Bouldin clearly would like to ease the proof of libel or slander so Dobbs and the like can be silenced easier, which is not exactly supporting open discourse as Alan professed. Secondly, there is little evident doubt that a bunch of AGW supporters would be quite happy with the skeptics in jail which again hardly supports discourse, per Alan. I did very slightly exaggerate Hansen’s position (which I thought justified trying to overcome Alan’s preposterous claims), but, given his situation, even a slight exaggeration could become a gross injustice, so I’ll retract him as an example.
Gavin, an aside, I recollect vaguely reading somewhere that one reason early climate modeling was doable was that very large ‘grid’ scales worked, because of the realization that temperature change occurred as fronts passed, oaver rather large areas. It’s a loose end I can’t nail down, but just to the point that actually understanding the difference and how these frontal systems behave does matter.
Just one more specific source on rate of change:
“… A cold front … normally lies within a sharp surface trough. Cold fronts can move up to twice as fast and produce sharper changes in weather than warm fronts. Since cold air is denser than warm air, it rapidly replaces the warm air preceding the boundary ….” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_front
John Lopresti: Oh my goodness, not this again. The argument that more melting in the Antarctic (ie., more cold fresh water to freeze up easily) would carry a lot more weight if temperatures had increased in the Antarctic. There is not only more ice than normal in the Antarctic, but the region has experienced slight cooling, not warming. The latest December 2008 climate maps (admittedly subject to terrible map projection errors that make the poles look way too important) give you an example of what I mean: http://climate.uah.edu/dec2008.htm
If you can explain to me how this weather is causing more melt, I’m listening.
Ray Ladbury: I acknowledge these policy positions and must say that, as an active member of two of these societies, I was frustrated when these positions were adopted, even though I tend to agree on the fundamental basis for the theory.
Dan: Fine, play the Ph.D. & pubs card. Okay, I will too. I also have the aforementioned (though I didn’t feel the need to bring it up until you did) and fully understand the peer-review process. It has been a few years since I have worked on the climate models, however, so you have me there. As for the science being simple, I don’t know… are you referring to the physics of selective absorption (which could be taught in grade school), or are you referring to things like radiative transfer, earth-atmosphere mass and energy exchange and the nitty gritty of the interactions between the algorithms involved in mesoscale climate modelling? If you are referring to the former types of physics as ‘actually really simple,’ then hats off to you. I find it challenging (and I could name a number of global climate change missionaries who don’t have a clue about any of this). I guess you fall into my category of honest pro-AGW climatologists who understand the physics. Further to this, I personally know several ‘skeptic’ physicists. They don’t dare speak to the climatologists, though I hear that this is not the case at other universities: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2009/01/12/22506/
Alan (61), well, if you’re talking of just the media, which is not at all clear in your first post, then I would agree that they do relish an open debate; or any kind of debate for that matter; as does the conservative media.
Mike: No. No arbiter is needed. Honesty is the best policy. Let the press be wildly free, with reasonable articles and extremist articles on both sides of any issue. Give people some credit to be able to sort through the facts.
If Big Server server continues to allow allow electrons from mercury and sulfur to contaminate the internet’s vital bodily fluids, epidemic web autism may reduce RC to sounding like , well,Fox TV.
it’s a wonder Singer and Avery haven’t gotten around to blaming the arctic trend on auroral warming by heavy metal ions in the solar wind. But then, it’s two months till the next Heartland potlatch, so stay tuned telluric currents fans–they’re still out there .
Great Post! I agree, the lack of civility and condescending attitude to those who disagree with the gospel that humans cause 100% of the last few decades of weather patterns, is sad. In looking at, plotted temp data, from GISS, NOAA, UAH, RSS and CRU, there seems to be some discrepancies as to the temp trends. In my opinion, the best source seems to be UAH and RSS, in that there is less “tampering” of the information. While some may dismiss, ICEBERG and others, they do raise some inconvenient items, primarily as to the validity of a number of weather station’s data, and the “enhancement” that goes on.
The three primary items that bothers me about the GISS data is:
1-Diffenrce in the raw data vs. the modified of enhanced (seems always to go up)
2-The warmest parts of the globe seem to have the least weather stations (i.e. Northern Eurasia and Siberia)
3-The local environment of the weather stations (near A/C units, blacktop parking areas/tarmacs, tops of trailers)
The other point is that many dismiss critics of CO2 warming as in the pocket of “big oil and coal”. But are not many of the supporters being financed by government and foundation (including those who have a interest in carbon credits) grants? Perhaps a more interesting item to look at would be the migrations of people over time to climate of weather conditions:
Migration of Goths, Vandals etc. out of Scandinavia and upper Baltic area ~500 B.C. doe to cold weather
Romans growing grapes in Britain ~50 A.D. (warm weather)
Great migration of Goths & others (Huns) into the Roman empire due to cold weather 4th/5th century (A.D.)
Colonization Greenland/Newfoundland 10th/11th century due to warmer weather
Medieval Cold period 15th/18th century
These situations seem to be in 900-1000 year periods.
As for my being “qualified”, my grad and post-grad work included some of the best Heat Transfer professors and authorities in the world. I have been involved in math modeling for over 40 years, starting with the X-15. This included analog, hybrid and multiple digital and parallel systems. Also responsible for evaluation and testing of horizon scanners in the near to far infrared spectrum. A significant portion of this work was in design, modeling and evaluating thermal systems (radiation, convective including viscous flow, and conduction) in 3D. That means models had to be verified in the real world, and you had to “sign off” on your deigns.
One final note, was back when the Army was about to launch the first satellite on a Redstone missile. At one of the science club meetings on campus, the world’s foremost authority in Heat Transfer quipped “Now we see how constant the solar constant is”.
J. Bob – of course there are descrepancies in temperature trends from Giss, Noa, Uah, Rss etc etc, they all use slightly different data and methods. So, strike one.
I don’t know a huge amount about this, but on the topic of stations being on the wrong surface etc etc, but I recall reading that someone at Watts place had compared temperature results from stations that they said were “good”, with those that were “bad”. Oddly enough they were almost identical.
Or in other words, nobody has yet shown that it is really making much of a difference.
As for migrations, they are irrelevant. We also have more vineyards growing further north in England than at any other time in history, and some people are predicting them by loch Ness by the end of the century.
If you do have all that knowledge and experience, I look forwards to you actually applying it. Have you read very much about climatology?
“Hmm.. I’ll have a look when I get a chance, but given that he is using Monckton as a source of some of his graphics, I think D’Aleo’s position as cherry-picker in chief is likely to be unassailable. – gavin”
It would be interesting indeed to see a reasoned and detailed response to the points that D’Aleo makes in his response to your comments regarding the CNN interview. To this lay person, he appears to make some compelling points. This is an opportunity for you and RC to demonstrate your objective scientific capabilities.
Alternatively, if these issues have already been adequately addressed, perhaps you can point us to appropriate commentary/sources.
Also, I cannot help but observe that, for whatever reason, the snide tone you adopt in the quote above serves only to diminish you and your cause. We lay folk are looking for professionally done and competent science.
[Response: Then why are you paying attention to D’Aleo and Monckton? Scientific credibility is a hard won and fragile thing – and those two have none. Regardless, I will read over his post and see what is worth responding to. In the meantime, read this and this for background. – gavin]
To refer to “playing the PhD and pubs card” seriously trivializes the scientific method. That has what has worked for science for centuries. Always has, always will. And yes I was referring to radiative transfer. But if you want to keep it simple, try conservation of energy.
As those physicists if they have any other theory that can come close to explaining the warming trend of the past 30+ years. Better yet, have them publish it. We will wait.
– from http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/01/new-steve-chu-c.html, on coal: “But Democrat Byron Dorgan of coal-rich North Dakota reminded Chu that he controls the appropriations subcommittee that determines the Department of Energy budget and that the two of them would be working together for the foreseeable future. “So be nice,” he told Chu. He then pressed Chu to give context to his “nightmare” quote. Chu’s response: “If we use coal the way we’re using it today, then it is a pretty bad dream.” Chu emphasized that the key is making coal plants able to pump their carbon emissions into the ground.”
– On nuclear: “He would continue controversial programs to study the reprocessing of nuclear waste but at a much slower pace than the Bush Administration had tried.”
Also, recall that Chu has to get through the approval process. A little bit of fancy footwork is de rigeur.
This doesn’t surprise me; especially the ‘Pravda, of all places’ bit.
You see, I did a little ‘study’, in 2002, of the content and accuracy of The ‘Post-Patriot Act Era’ U.S. T.V. News. After viewing an ‘average’ CNN and Fox News Hourly News Program, I then compaired their content and accuracy to The BBC, DW, TV 2 (France), and – of course – Tass; and – much to my astounded ‘Ashamed American’ amazement – when using these reputable European News Sources as a kind of ‘Thermometer’, Tass was MORE ACCURATE and provided GREATER DETAIL in their reporting of ‘Important to Intelligent Politcally Active Americans’ Itemes like Afghanistan, Iraq, The (then) Impending Global Economic Meltdown, etc..
I LIKE Glasnost (sp)!!!! We could use a little more of that HERE, in The U.S.!!!
These  (in The White House, etcx.; THOUGH NOT FOR MUCH LONGER) have had me feeling like the proverbial ‘Rat on the Sinking Ship’ for decades now!!!
Stop The Planet, I wanna GET OFF!!!
J. Bob said: “I agree, the lack of civility and condescending attitude to those who disagree with the gospel that humans cause 100% of the last few decades of weather patterns, is sad.”
Straw-man arguments are especially poor and obviously so. I have never seen here, nor in any leading scientific publication or even letters, the claim that “humans cause 100% of the last few decades of weather patterns”. Ever. However, as evidenced by your post, I do see many of the denying populace project that belief onto the scientific community.
Your graduate and post-grad work is irrelevant here. You are just not being honest.
Those global data sets are contaminated by the fact that two-thirds of the globe’s stations dropped out in 1990.
While I know, that this drop does not significantly affect the temperature trend, I was unable to find the reason for this drop. What happened? Were stations actually shut down, was just their electronic reporting canceled, did funding drop, …? Just curious.
[Response: No. There was a big effort in the early nineties to collate existing met data and put them in a form suitable for climate studies – this brought a lot of new data into the analyses. The idea was that the network subsequent to this collation was more than sufficient to produce climate data (i.e. regional monthly and annual data summations). Much of the effort in collation now is for the really long term data (pre-1900 and earlier), much of which still needs to be digitised and homogenised. Given that the correlation between the data analyses over the last twenty years is close to 0.999, there is no obvious need to expand the network we have now (though there are some regional efforts that would be worthwhile in Africa or South America). Remember that for the hemispheric mean temperature estimate you need only about 50 or 60 well-placed stations. There are many more than that. – gavin]
“… if you do get a crust that will bear, and know any brooklet that runs down a hillside, be sure to go and take a look at him, especially if your crust is due, as it commonly is, to a cold snap following eagerly on a thaw. You will never find him so cheerful….”
Hank (73): I appreciate your response. Yes, I’m aware of the difference. My point being that “heat waves” have, of late, been considered as evidence of global warming. How often have you seen this quoted in the press and in academic materials (especially the “heat waves” of 2003, 2006), yet this rather long period of cold (going beyond a “cold snap”) is never considered to be more than, as you put it, cold fronts (weather).
The important distinction I make is that “heat waves” get treated as evidence of climate change, and “Cold Waves” (a rapid fall in temperature with a 24 hour period requiring increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and social activities); are treated as anomalous’weather’ occurrences.
And yes, I was a little snarky in my original post to gavin, my apologies.
CNN is a business, like any network. There’s a sizable market for global warming denial, magnified by the U.S. political shift. They are likely to get higher ratings by promoting this stuff as opposed to boring objective science.
There’s probably a variety of sources for vehement denial of the huge body of evidence on the issue. Ultimately, it comes down critical thinking – something I think should specifically be taught in classrooms. What I find is that most of the so-called climate “skeptics” are ironically not the least bit critical of the material they digest and repeat.
I hate the media. I absolutely hate them. They’re much worse than that movie NETWORK. GRRRR!!!!! I only got cable 18 months ago, happy at last to see EWTN (which proved a disaster, with their evil anti-environmentalism-Exxon-funded stance) and CNN, ostensibly to get the news. What a sad joke. What a waste of my money. Except now my husband is hooked on the plethora of westerns he can see :(
The media, if they wanted, could report it like this:
READ ALL ABOUT IT, 2008 IS THE 9TH WARMEST YEAR SINCE WE FIRST STARTED MEASURING WEATHER IN 1880!
It is now official, the ten warmest years since measurements began 129 years ago have been within the past 12 years. We’d better act now to mitigate this sucker before it’s too late. All persons of the world can report to their civil defense units to find out how to turn off lights not in use and many other helpful measures.
lulo claims that the UAH data over the Antarctic indicates cooling. But, probably lulo doesn’t know that the UAH TLT if flawed over the Antarctic, as I demonstrated some 5 years ago in a GRL paper (doi:10.1029/2003GL017938). Christy and Spencer still present data over the Antarctic, but RSS cuts off their data at 70S. Worse, the UAH TLT includes data poleward of 82.5S (the last actual data points), by interpolating over the pole. The MSU/AMSU data is contaminated by surface effects over the Antarctic due to the high elevations, which is the reason RSS excludes this area, as well as other areas with high elevations.
J. Bob, you may be educated, but do you really understand? The claim that climate change did in the Vikings in Greenland ignores the fact that there is no conclusive proof that climate change was the cause. About the same time that the Eastern Greenland colony vanished, Iceland was hit with the Black Death, which killed about half the population. After that, there was lots of free farmland available in Iceland, which the Greenlanders might have taken advantage, assuming that they weren’t also wiped out by the Plague. And, you ignore the impacts of volcanoes, such as Kuwae in 1453, which would likely have been much worse than the effects of Tambora in 1815, which caused the “Year Without Summer” in New England and Northern Europe. Besides, Europe is not the world.
As for your education and work experience, since you understand so much, tell us how Spencer and Christy derived their TLT algorithm and how has it been validated…
It’s going to take more than turning off lights. Turning off lights got me the first 25% reduction in electric consumption. The other 50% took things like, buying a modern fridge, not having a giant huge computer sitting idle all the time (I now have three of them sitting idle most of the time, plus two laptops) and turning off those stupid vampire loads.
Don’t have the current bill just yet, but in spite of using my space heater more (cold bathroom), electric blanket (cold feet), adding two more TVes and a new DVD player, DVR and two extra cable boxes, an electric motorcycle (lots of fun!) and other modern wonders, it’s looking like I’ve cut another 12 1/2% on top of the 75% I already cut. I checked the meter this morning and I’d used 205KWH in the past 25 days or so. And that doesn’t include what I made on the roof and sold back to the grid.
Maybe “BUY MORE EFFICIENT STUFF! IMPROVE YOUR STANDARD OF LIVING! CUT YOUR ELECTRIC BILL TO SHREDS!”. Much more positive than “GLOOM! GLOOM! GLOOM!”
where is your evidence of anything you are saying? Where is the incontrovertible physics, validated data, clear math that disproves or calls into the question the trends? I would like to see this physics that greatly disputes all the physics not only displayed here at RC, NASA and AOS, but in countless labs and universities around the world.
While we are on this subject, what about all the chemistry that makes these greenhouse gases exhibit their properties in the first place? Is all that flawed data, for over 150 years of observations and experiments?
Do not confuse coal with nuclear. Read “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007. This book is easy enough for everybody to read. I suggest you read it. Coal is the problem. Nuclear is the answer. Nuclear is now the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most full time source of electricity. Of the full time sources, it also has the largest potential supply. Nuclear fuel is recyclable. Nuclear power is THE answer to global warming because it produces LESS CO2 per kilowatt hour than ANY other source of energy.
J bob who is saying that humans are 100% responsible for all the changing weather patterns over the last few decades? No serious scientist is saying this, nor are the majority of bloggers here, if any at all. Weather and climate are first of all, not the same thing. Also, no one (who is qualified) disputes that there is natural variability or areas of prediction exist that need improvement. What is clear is the net global warming trend driven by the physical properties of greenhouse gases emitted by humans.
I was going to do a post on D’Aleo’s response to Gavin’s writeup, but after reading through it I decided it was hardly worth it.
The full extent of the work is to show that a UHI effect exists and that it is a significant cause of the “observed” warming. There is no reputable work that can attribute half of the warming since 1990 or any other period to the UHI effect, as he thinks. This effect is absent in the oceans, rural areas, and polar areas. It ignores sea level rise, substantial glacier loss, and various “fingerprints” of greenhouse warming.
D’Aleo insists the PDO, AMO, ENSO etc all correlate with global warming better than CO2…this may often be true if those diagnostics are essentially a correlation of themself. None of these things can cause a decadal-scale, global-scale warming trend that has been observed…either by definition or by its physical properties.
I remember seeing on Dobbs show a few years ago – he had on two IPCC-related scientists (maybe somebody from this site?). He started with this: ‘On my show, global warming is happening and we are causing it. That’s not for debate. I want to hear what we should do about it’.
These scientists were taken by surprise. They were used to countering global cooling. No skeptics or deniers were included. So as Gavin pointed out, this is not normal for Dobbs. Let’s hope it’s temporary.
[Response: Yes–this was myself, Gavin, and Alan Robock of Rutgers University. Lou came into the ‘green room’ just before we were set to go on and said something to the effect of ‘Gentlemen: I don’t even want to discuss the science. that’s settled. I want to talk about solutions’. Of course, the science is what we had come to discuss. Fortunately, Alan was well prepared to discuss ‘solutions’, and he primarily took the stage. Its disappointing that Lou has regressed to the ‘he said/she said’ approach of discussing the science. thought we’d moved past that a couple years ago. -mike ]
#62 – Jim – Thank you for a moderate response. While I agree that models are essential, some of the claims that people are making don’t have strong evidence to support them. Now there is some aspects of global warming or man made induced climate change that I will defend. Ecosystems are one good example and another could be the destruction of soil in various parts of the world. Both of these can effect climate to one degree or another. There is solid evidence supporting this. You map them both together and you start drawing a small picture. There is a few other things that can be added to this list and picture. However, some are trying to draw this picture faster then what the evidence allows. People are not looking at the problem coolly and dispassionately. One side sees cash signs and red ink, the other side sees the end of mankind. This is clouding the judgment on both sides of this issue. There is so much disinformation coming out of both sides it’s hard to find the actual ground.
Models are something like ciphers in cryptography. I don’t know how familiar you are with the field, but back when 128 bit keys were first being deployed, mathematicians were jumping all over themselves explaining how it would take all the computers in the world longer then the universe has been in existence to break a key. They were correct only if there is no better way to factor numbers. Of course we are now on 2048 and 4096 bit keys because so many attacks against the ciphers have been successful. The point is, models are subject to change unless proven to be true. Just a educational note, there is only one cipher in existence (“that I’m aware of”) that has a mathematical proof behind it showing it to be secure and that is the one time pad cipher. There is also no mathematical proof showing if public key cryptography is possible. IE: The existence of one way functions. It’s kind of unsettling if you think about it, if their not possible then it could lead to an end to certain aspects of communication.
“Physics professor William Happer GS ’64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.
“This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.””
And I thought: where have I seen that name before? Then, I read on:
“Happer is chair of the board of directors at the George C. Marshall Institute”
jcbmack: I agree with the theory that greenhouse gases cause warming by absorbing terrestrial radiation – life as we know it on Earth could not exist without it. I’m more concerned with the politicization of the issue. However, I also think there is very basic evidence staring us in the face that indicates that it may be a relatively small part of the story. Not only do the data suggest that the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2, but there are many additional anthropogenic impacts on climate, not the least of which is landscape change. I also question surface temperature data quality, and feel that much will be revealed by the current minor cooling trend, as we pore over the data during the next decade or so.
There is a focus on the negative when it comes to the impact on CO2, and any questioning is treated with contempt, ridicule and outrage. I feel that many important advances are being made in climate modelling thanks to funding that has been secured by all the attention, but the greenhouse gas aspect is something that we have known about it since the late 1800’s. Attention could be given elsewhere (for one, there are bigger environmental problems in the world – heck, we’ve caused the 6th great mass extinction with our land-use and pollution).
I guess this whole greenhouse gas problem just doesn’t excite me as much as the rest of you here and I get irritated by all the hype when I perceive there to be so many uncertainties and so much focus on the negative. I mean, think about it. CO2 concentrations, which improve plant growth in most species, as well as increasing water and nitrogen-use efficiency under a given climate, have increased from 280 to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries, and temperature has barely budged. I think the last month was 0.17 C above the 1979-2000 average and microscopically below average in the southern hemisphere. With the same climate, I would pick the higher CO2 concentration. Having done some modelling myself, I also have the same skepticism about the modelling process that most of you have also likely grown to appreciate. We all know that one can obtain a perfect model output by tweaking all the wrong parameters and variables (but eventually get rude surprises – how many models predicted our current cooling trend – okay, I know… it’s mainly La Nina… I digress).
All the talk about ‘certainty,’ in addition to the policy statements and attention to the most vocal doomsday scientists is what really irks me. Maybe I’m just jealous of my colleagues getting soundbytes every day for all the climate change crap I understand as they do (but don’t fully accept), yet continuously am forced to regurgitate to my students. As a left-leaning, tree-hugging, vegetarian atheist who walks to work to limit my pollution footprint (not too concerned about the carbon, as you can see), and as someone who devoted my entire academic career to the environmental sciences because of my love of nature, maybe I’m frustrated by my complete inability to accept that we have a good grasp on climate modelling and the impact of greenhouse gases. It doesn’t look good on me (if I ever express a lack of enthusiasm for the cause, I am shunned by my peers), but I guess I myself am the dreaded ‘AGW-climate skeptic.’ Maybe one day I’ll stop being anonymous about it.
Mike #70. Free exchange of ideas but they aren’t exchanging ideas. They’re leaving out the FACT they are lying.
As I said, Fox News won by saying they didn’t have to tell the truth.
So why bother with Fox NEWS at all? If it doesn’t have to be truth, how can it be news?
If Freedom Of Speech allows you to lie, why are there Libel laws in the US? They are extensively used there. How about profanity laws (Eric Idle being fined for swearing, for example)? Heck, how about yelling “Fire!” in a theatre? That’s pure speech and you are lying, but apparently FOS beats lying out cold.
Re #100, You have a remarkably optimisitic outlook and that is a good thing, however the UK is scheduling 600 additional flights per day come 2020 when the third runway is added to Heathrow Airport, this is the real issue, the one of prosperity and progress and economic conditions right for it. Couple that with all of the additional electronic equipment that resides in homes over the past 20 years including mobile phones, ipods, docking stations, DAB radios, flat TV’s, laptops, PDA’s and PC’s and it all comes down to a lot of additional electricity being used.
We are going to need a big change of lifestyle but I am doubtful that will happen as you are doign because you are a rare person, one who cares about doing somerthing about it. Since James Hansen testified in 1988 to congress nothing has been done as yet.
Lets hope that the world can get it together or create the conditions so that individuals can as you have. Still its a big ask as most people ar not even aware of the problem or do not believe there is one.
Boris asks: “Don’t the warming oceans shoot down all of these UHI arguments?”
Ah, but Boris, you’re neglecting the lost city of Atlantis and all the other oceanic urban development the tin-hat crowd believes in. You must be part of that scientific conspiracy we’ve all heard about.
Iulo gives a long rant about how awful climate scientists are, repeating almost every denier cliche out there. I’ll just excerpt a tiny bit:
I am increasingly convinced that solar activity is more important than vocal, mainstream ecoscientists have led themselves to believe.
I regressed temperature anomalies on ln CO2 and TSI for the period 1880-2007 (128 years). TSI was statistically insignificant and ln CO2 accounted for 76% of the variance. Explain to me how that makes solar activity “more important.”
Cooling has been occurring for over seven years.
No, it has not. Take out the hyphens and post these URLs into your browser:
All this stuff about Medieval warmth reminds me, I found a site dedicated to the proposition that there is a politically correct conspiracy to suppress the undeniable fact that it was warmer in medieval times. To prove how thoroughly this fact was suppressed they produce a whole lot of papers (some suppression job: all those papers got published somehow). Sure enough the results they quote all show warming sometimes up to 2°C. The trouble is the dates don’t line up. The warm periods are anything from 500 years ago to over 1,000 years ago, and most have a sharp peak. All that these things demonstrate collectively, with no deeper analysis, is that if you have a long-term temperature record of any one place, it could have an unusually hot or unusually cold spell at some point. Whether there’s any global phenomenon is not demonstrated at all by their data.
J Bob: It’s true that some climate scientists get annoyed with repeated attacks on their reputation, and repetitions of obvious falsehoods. Who wouldn’t? It’s unfortunate when this happens but there’s a limit to human endurance when you are constantly under attack. I suggest you read the writings on some of the anti-climate science side for raw unprovoked ad hominem attacks. I’ve seen labels like warmaholics (is this even a word?), junk science, religion – and the assertion that their side were “rationalists” as opposed to “alarmists”. And this is in stuff that’s meant to be carefully crafted material aimed at informing the public, not off the cuff remarks on a blog, where there is a little more excuse for being loose with language. I challenge you to find this sort of language in a scientific paper or an article written for a mass circulation newspaper or magazine by a climate scientist. It’s dead easy to find this stuff in newspapers like The Australian and papers published by the likes of Bob Carter.
Not only do the data suggest that the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2
I regressed temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2007 (N = 128) on ln CO2 and TSI. CO2 accounted for 76% of the variance and TSI was insignificant. How does that square with “the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2?” Greater measured HOW?
CO2 concentrations, which improve plant growth in most species, as well as increasing water and nitrogen-use efficiency under a given climate, have increased from 280 to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries, and temperature has barely budged. I think the last month was 0.17 C above the 1979-2000 average and microscopically below average in the southern hemisphere.
You have claimed to be a scientist. Would any scientist in the real world claim that you could analyze a trend by drawing a line from the starting point of a graph of points to the end point? Didn’t you take ANY data analysis courses? What are you doing citing one month of data as if it were representative when you have over 1,500 months worth of data to work with? Do you understand what I mean above when I say I “regressed” one time series on two others?
If you’re a scientist, kindly say what science you have a degree in, and where and when you got that degree. Because I don’t believe you.
hmm, interesting theories: that climate change might be caused by the sun, volcanoes, the orbit of our precious planet etc and not the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as emitted as a consequence of human activity.
i think the best way to test these compelling hypotheses, or any hypothesis, is to remove as many variables as possible.
we can’t make the sun dimmer or cooler, we can’t change our planet’s orbit and we can’t stop volcanoes erupting, so we can’t control those variables. the only one we can really control is emission of greenhouse gases. we’ve already added them and seen a rise in temperature, so to disprove that our emission of greenhouse gases is to blame for the rise and to what extent, we need to remove them as a variable and test the result.
a quick note to all of you out there who think that the culture of science is a bit tough: if it was easy bad ideas would hang around, no progress would be made. and anyway, this is nothing compared to the world of architecture! but in this debate the stakes are MUCH higher.
The public discussion of climate change certainly suffers of a dual meaning of the word “climate”.
In the olden days, “climate” was mostly a statistical description of prevailing weather conditions relevant to a locality or a small region. To get information on it, “climate stations” were installed and climatological departments within meteorological institutions performed the statistical computations. The main customers were farmers who needed to decide upon critical business parameters (as ably described above i.e. by Aaron Lewis). In practice, “climatology” was a smaller (and less appreciated) branch than forecasting meteorology, with minimal budgets and the lowest cost metering.
Of some importance is also that in the U.S. the “climate stations” are managed at the state level (not the federal level), resulting in a quite variable performance as has been documented. Technical standards vary, as do the network structures. In other countries I know of, climatological stations are managed centrally, as the lowest priority in the observation networks. This results in a more uniform performance. Everywhere synoptic stations (3 hour observation cycle) and aviation weather stations (30 minute cycle) were prioritized as their performance (accuracy) was crucial for the operational weather forecasting routines. They also received the bulk of investment and maintenance attention. These stations also contribute quite substantially to the climate files and in the third world countries remain the back-bone of climatology.
The urban heat island (UHI) effect has been known for 40 years now. It has been studied using at least two techniques: comparisons against rural stations and comparisons between high and low wind situations. High winds result in low local heating effect. Corrections are applied based on these results.
In the same olden times, global climate research (as understood today) was one somewhat obscure field of geophysics, like geodesy, tectonics, geomagnetism, etc. It was a rather academic endeavour, an effort to understand the atmosphere (+ biosphere and oceans) in terms of physical laws and processes. This has grown enormously in importance and visibility over the past 20 years.
Today there is a permanent confusion between the two different aspects. Great many meteorologists (and the general public) still consider “climate” in the statistical sense only. The approaches have a relationship, of course. Validation of the physical models is ultimately to be found in the statistics. Impatient people al too often expect statistics for 2008 to validate (even to equal) projections for 2080. Unfortunately the final numbers will be too late for meaningful action.
There is regrettably little attention (outside of a narrow measurement community) on the contributions of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), its century-old standardization process of measurements and current efforts to provide representative global data. A good starting point is: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/index_en.html
If you look at the economics of nuclear energy then what strikes me is the large gap between estimated cost and true cost for building a nuclear plant.
The page mentions a few studies that usually project a building cost of $1500 / kW. For example:
A 2005 OECD comparative study showed that [….] Nuclear overnight construction costs ranged from US$ 1000/kW in Czech Republic to $2500/kW in Japan, and averaged $1500/kW.
But on the same page I find the following:
In March 2008 Progress Energy announced that its two new Westinghouse AP1000 units on a greenfield site in Florida would cost it about $14 billion, including land, plant components, cooling towers, financing costs, licence application, regulatory fees, initial fuel for two units, owner’s costs, insurance and taxes, escalation and contingencies.
These units are rated at 1150 MW, so that results in $6000 / kW, four times as much. This gap between projections and reality is confirmed by E.ON
Capital costs are the biggest factor, and when you redo the calculations based on true costs, nuclear suddenly isn’t all that cheap anymore.
When such a big gap exists between the estimated and true building costs, then I suspect an equal gap is present for the cost of operation, uranium enrichment, waste processing, decomissioning.
I haven’t read the Gwyneth Cravens book, but I have a general rule that when a book has ‘truth’ in the title, then that is probably for making up for the lack of it in its contents.
I only trust the costs expressed in tangible fixed-price contracts.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 16 Jan 2009 @ 8:12 AM
Some people on this blog are going off about the difference between climate and weather, as if others are a bunch of idiots. So what is the difference in scientific terms and is there scientific consensus on this?
Of course, laymen, like me, are perfectly entitled to rely on a reputable English dictionary. My good book says climate is:
“noun 1 the general weather conditions prevailing in an area over a long period.” (Note that “area” and “long” are not quantified and, therefore, subject to the perceptions of the user.)
“2 a prevailing trend or public attitude.” (How appropriate!)
The WUWT site has a recent post which discusses the effects, particularly wrt to the 30 year trend, of Pinatubo (1991) and El Chichon (1982). I was wondering if it’s possible to model the trend (or temp record) with the the volcanic effects removed. I know that NASA claims to have successfully modelled the Pinatubo cooling, so presumably this would be relatively straightforward.
Any model would need to include the effects of the very intense El Nino in 1982/83 and the moderate El Ninos in 1991/92 and 1993.
Rod B2: ~30 years and yes, there are reasons for picking that length of time, principally that observation and modeling has shown that the random variability inherent to weather averages out over such a period. I suppose you get your nuclear physics from the NY Times.
I get a lot of feedback from our audience whenever a media story skeptical of climate change succeeds in confusing or pleasing a large number of people. So far, it seems that the CNN Lou Dobbs piece has not had a significant impact, as I have gotten no feedback on this. However, the Daily Tech story noting that “global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago” generated six or so responses. Perhaps the Internet is more successful as a medium for skeptical stories gaining traction than TV? Anyway, I wrote a blog post yesterday to try to set the record straight. This analogy I used seemed to have been one my audience liked:
“Cleverly quoting irrelevant facts about global wintertime sea ice data to hide the summertime loss of arctic sea ice is a tremendous disservice. It’s like hiding the potential impact of a major hurricane in a one-week forecast by saying, ‘the average peak wind speed for the next seven days will be 17 mph”, and neglecting to mention that the wind will be calm six of those days, but 120 mph on the other day.'”
I found the physicist Iulo’s contribution (#29) helpful. I’m a relative newcomer to this subject and am trying to build up a picture of what’s going on. I’d bet that Iulo, like myself, just wants to get at the truth. Neither of us is in the pay of Exxon. You may not like his saying that physicists are the people who understand this, but (I am not a physicist) I find this plausible. I first became interested in the politicisation of science through the debate on passive smoking and I see many parallels in the comments here. I admire you for publishing all comments – critical or supportive. This is the only way forward although might be tempted to indulge in a bit of censorship. Not so doing is where you do differentiate yourselves from the anti-tobacco propaganda organisations and I hope you continue in the same way.
I ran across this post on another message board but don’t know how to refute it. Can anyone help?
“I am now an expert of sorts in coring processes, and I would characterize the current use of ice cores as an appropriate measure of past CO2 levels as flawed. Principally, the two arguments I would outline are:
1) the measurements do not reflect the transport of CO2 into and out of the ice cores. Do not give me this crap about ice not being permeable — it just isn’t true. It also doesn’t account for any freeze-thaw cycles or sub-surface water flow. Basically, the history associated with the ice core is not correctly reflected in the calculations. Correct history would require in-depth modeling of thermal and flow conditions — not something that the “climate scientists” are in any way trained to do correctly (I’ve learned this first-hand was well). That thermal/flow model should have multiple sources of independent data to feed into it as well, in order to properly “history-match” the ice core in question. I doubt that a history matched would be “unique” anyway — so basically the true solution to the historical CO2 levels based on even well-modeled data would likely not be the right solution.
2) the process of coring and extracting cores seriously calls into question the results, particularly for accurately determining a GAS concentration in a sample. My strong suspicion is that historical values are underestimated (and increasingly so with increasing depth) because they do not account for pressure differences during the coring/extraction process. Basically — by the time you get it to the surface, or even when you dislodge it from the ice sheet, you’ve likely lost a bunch of gas by expansion and pressure drop.”
Thanks for any possible assistance.
[Response: Nonsense I’m afraid. CO2, CH4, and CFC and N2O gas concentrations from ice cores have been replicated against ice cores in vastly different accumulation environments (temperatures/snow depths), against the instrumental record, with cores from Greenland and Antarctica. There is no depth affect visible in the results, and there has been plenty of modelling of the important processes (firnification, gas age/ice age differences etc). Vague doubts based on no information do not stack up against the actual science. – gavin]
Have you noticed that any pack of people who get together because they’re all opposed to science can happily entertain more than one mutually incompatible explanation for observed facts? Not just more than one total; more than one per person, quite often.
That’s the bot pattern: throw any excuse into the attempts to explain science as a distraction. They don’t care about making sense, they don’t care about any one explanation being right — what they’re doing is increasing the noise level in any conversation they find going on where someone is at risk of being educated to the point of deciding there’s really something to be concerned about.
118 – This is all fine and well but here is the problem. The evidence around this is very sketchy and some people are contemplating doing extreme measures based on very weak science. I’ve heard reports on ideas such as engineering the atmosphere. There was a guy the other day on the news with a patent on a method to pump h20 into the atmosphere in large quantities. While his idea may or may not be even doable, the problem is scientist are also playing with this notion. There is one company having a contest for who can solve global warming, IE: atmosphere engineering.
They are creating solutions to problems that they don’t fully understand and it’s very dangerous. They have no clue where the equilibriums are or anything else for that matter. There is so much about this planet that science has absolutely no data on and yet they claim they know exactly what is going on with climate. They are so sure of themselves that they are tripping over each other to play with technology that can have severe consequences.
Much of their claims are all centered around ice core data. These experiments aren’t as sound as they are making them out to be. There is all kinds of bacteria that lives in these areas that scientist know next to nothing about. This alone opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to interpreting data from these locations. Instead of trying to do a whole lot of research into what the effects of their existence is for the ice core data, they instead simply attack the reports with ideas that are contrary to many observations.
Barton Paul Levenson (the writer?): My guess would have been that TSI would not work, as mentioned in an earlier post on this same thread. It varies by less than 0.5%. This is why, when we refer to extraterrestrial radiation, we use the term ‘solar constant.’ However, there are others who seem to disagree with you. Perhaps, you could take a look and see if you agree with their methodology. http://www.fel.duke.edu/~scafetta/pdf/opinion0308.pdf
I didn’t intend to suggest that the climate record is meaningful from one month of the record. I was just taking a bit of writer’s license to point out the fact that, at the moment, we have the panacaea of higher CO2 concentrations (photosynthesis, water and nitrogen-use efficiency) without much apparent warming. Maybe it’s La Nina… maybe it’s the sun. But I have only seen one climate paper in which these ideas are taken into account to predict temporary cooling and it wasn’t written until this spell had already begun.
I’m just trying to stir things up and see if I can push a warmist climate scientist or two to look into the solar issue – there is some mechanism causing reasonably tight correlation between a myriad of solar effects and temperature at all time scales (less so from 1980-1998 perhaps due to greenhouse warming or repeated El Ninos or both) despite its lack of variability. I think we should be looking for this mechanism instead of pretending the trend doesn’t exist. I’m skeptical that Svensmark has figured out the mechanism, but look at the correlations. There is something to this and we should be putting some resources to trying to figure it out. At least someone is trying. Of course, most climate scientists write him off. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/117980230/PDFSTART
Personally, I like Roger Pielke’s approach. He doesn’t deny the radiative forcing and climate change research, but acknowledges that models have failed in many ways and that there is much more to learn. No model predicted the current cooling temperatures before they occurred. http://www.climatesci.org/publications/pdf/R-334.pdf
[Response: That is not correct. Current temperatures are within the ensemble of model runs, and over short periods, models often show coolings. Conflation of the expected long term trend with a single realisation of the weather is an all-too-common error. – gavin]
Jeff Masters: Point taken. Thin, winter sea ice builds each year to almost the extent that it used to, but we have lost a lot of the permanent pack. This explains why Arctic sea ice deviations from normal are greater in the winter than in the summer. However, reporting on Arctic conditions all the time, with nary a mention of the fact that Antarctic concentrations are on the increase (so that global sea ice has barely budged downward) is also misleading. I mentioned this before, but go to the NSIDC and take a look at how much more easily accessible and emphasized the Arctic data are than those for the Antarctic. I think many of us subconsciously apply spin to our public dissemination of information, and it goes both ways. http://www.nsidc.org/
Eventually, you’ll find the Antarctic graphs and I’ll bet that a few of you would be very surprised.
[Response: People talk about the Arctic more because more is happening. It’s not really much of a surprise. Trends in Antarctica – with the exception of the Peninsula and near the WAIS are much less significant. – gavin]
[Response: Stay tuned here for much more on the subject of Antarctic temperature trends next week. – mike]
Edward Greisch wrote: “Nuclear is now the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most full time source of electricity.”
In fact, nuclear is none of those things.
Edward Greisch wrote: “Nuclear power is THE answer to global warming …”
Nuclear power is not an answer to global warming at all, for the simple reason that nuclear power plants cannot be built quickly enough to have any impact on CO2 emissions from electricity generation within the time frame that those reductions are needed.
Fortunately, there is no need for nuclear power. The USA has vast commercially exploitable wind and solar energy resources that are sufficient to produce several times the electricity that the entire country uses, with today’s mainstream wind and solar technology that is being deployed right now, today, all over the world. Multiple studies have found that a diversified portfolio of renewable energy sources, including onshore and offshore wind, concentrating solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, geothermal and biomass, can produce reliable 24×7 baseload power. And they can do this faster and cheaper than nuclear, with none of the very real risks or toxic pollution of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2009 @ 11:30 AM
I meant “greater in the summer than in the winter.” Brain hiccup. :)
The Scafetta piece lulo links to above is from Physics Today’s Opinion section. Anyone who’s followed Robert Grumbine’s blog or Tamino’s blog will find this assertion very much an opinion:
“… … since 2002 the temperature data present a global cooling, not a warming! This cooling seems to have been induced by decreased solar activity …”
There’s a response to that in the current issue.
Regrettably paywalled; available with AIP $20 membership.
Solar variability does not explain late-20th-century warming
Philip B. Duffy, Benjamin D. Santer, and Tom M. L. Wigley
January 2009, page 48
“… The hypothesis of Nicola Scafetta and Bruce West (see their Opinion piece, PHYSICS TODAY, March 2008, page 50), that most of the observed global warming trend since 1950 is due to variations in total solar irradiance (TSI), is at odds with observations and theory. …
… In summary, the hypothesis of Scafetta and West—that solar variability is the dominant climate influence during the late 20th century—is a nonsolution to a nonproblem. There is no problem because the history of global temperatures during the 20th century is adequately explained by known phenomena: greenhouse gases, volcanic eruptions, aerosols, and, yes, to a small degree, solar variability. That conventional explanation is simple, self-consistent, and relies on well-established physics. The Scafetta and West hypothesis is a nonsolution because it is inconsistent with a range of observations and invokes new and unproven physics….”
Perhaps one of the authors will put a PDF copy on a website so people can read it — you’d need to read the piece and check the references for each statement to evaluate it; you know how to do that.
PS, for those who do have access, the Letters column of responses to the Scafetta and West opinion piece is extensive. It includes a response to the responses from Scafetta, of which this is the most interesting statement:
“the latest studies have shown the limitation of the tree-ring temperature reconstructions and that, on the contrary, climate varied substantially in preindustrial times.2,4″
Um. His references for this claim about “latest studies” are:
# 2. M. E. Mann, R. S. Bradley, M. K. Hughes, Nature 392, 779 (1998) [INSPEC]; Geo. Res. Lett. 26, 759 (1999) [INSPEC].
# 4. C. Loehle, Energy Environ. 18, 1049 (2007).
Perhaps there is a lesson here? Most climate Scientists failed to correct the thousands of overblown “heat waves and hurricanes!” stories and naively alarming tone and half truths in the film “An Inconvenient Truth”. The scientific truth is far more nuanced and less alarmist than journalists were suggesting.
They were not corrected then, and are now (wrongly) suspicious of the mostly irrefutable evidence that GW is here to stay. We reap skepticism when we sow alarmism.
Joe Hunkins wrote: “… scientific truth is far more nuanced and less alarmist than journalists were suggesting …”
Wrong. In fact, the scientific truth is far more stark and alarming than most mainstream journalists have acknowledged, partly because most mainstream journalists — e.g. Mr. Dobbs — have been too busy bending over backwards to give “fair and balanced” coverage to the pseudoscience promulgated by denialist cranks and frauds.
Joe Hunkins wrote: “… We reap skepticism when we sow alarmism …”
Anyone who is not alarmed by the scientific facts about anthropogenic global warming is ill-informed about the science. And scientists who fail to communicate the alarming reality of anthropogenic global warming are doing the public a great disservice.
#107 (EL): I agree that some people are not looking at the topic coolly and dispassionately, but on the other hand there are many (many more I would say) who are doing so, and further, that the impassioned rhetoric, far and away, comes mostly from non-scientists. (This is not to say that impassioned rhetoric is necessarily wrong, given the importance of the issue, but it’s not how most scientists discuss the topic, nor to say that there are not non-scientists who are indeed looking at the issue dispassionately–there are many).
You state: “The point is, models are subject to change unless proven to be true”. Models are subject to change because they are always approximations of the system, and since empirical knowledge of the system they model is usually increasing, models change so as to provide the best synthetic and theoretic explanation of the multitude of existing observations of it. In a highly complex system, it does not help to think of a model as being “true” or not, without first having stated what aspects of reality you are attempting to describe/explain/integrate with the model (thus George Box’s famous statement, “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful”). I find that there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the intent and usefulness of models in climatology and ecology, and we need to do a better job explaining this. On the flip side, the non-scientist needs to understand that there are a whole slew of methods and approaches that scientists use for reasons that may not be immediately obvious.
The only way to discern the good from the less good is the slow process of self-education. Fortunately there is a LOT of good info out there for those who really want to do so, but it still requires a lot of work.
[Response: Those counters are a significant undercount of the readership (by more than an order of magnitude) and don’t count syndicated traffic et al. However, any sensible suggestions to increase our spread would be welcome. – gavin]
Secular Animist #132
Even Hansen believes you have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed.
“One of Hansen’s more amusing statements in his letter to Prof. Holdren is his expression of frustration with “the minority of vehement anti-nuclear ‘environmentalists'” who oppose even his “clean” nuclear power proposals. “It seems to me that it is time to get fed-up with those people who think they can impose their will on everybody, and all the consequences that might imply for the planet,” Hansen tells Holdren”
RE #139 & “Most climate Scientists failed to correct the thousands of overblown ‘heat waves and hurricanes!’ stories”
Nooo, scientists corrected these stories right and left…from their perspective of avoiding false positives. They clearly pointed out time & again that you cannot attribute single events, such as Hurricane Katrina, to GW, as GW is at the statistical aggregate level (no more than you can prove the die is loaded just because you got a 6 on one throw).
However, as laypersons concerned with life and limb on planet earth, we should be taking the opposite position & be in true debate with scientists. That is, we should be striving to avoid the false negative of ignoring a problem when it is actually happening, and pose this challenge: can anyone prove at .05 that GW did NOT contribute to Hurricane Katrina — and if not then we should continue to mitigate & reduce our GHGs down 75% or more until and unless it can be proved GW didn’t enhance Katrina, tho since GW is contributing to so many other horrendous problems, we just shouldn’t stop mitigating no matter what scientists say re they can’t prove GW enhanced a particular event.
Or, we should be thinking, well, if GW didn’t contribute to Katrina, wonder what are the hurricanes will be like once GW really kicks in?
You’d think these would be the approaches of sensible, prudent people. So….are people crazy or something?
[Response: That is not correct. Current temperatures are within the ensemble of model runs, and over short periods, models often show coolings. Conflation of the expected long term trend with a single realisation of the weather is an all-too-common error. – gavin]”
Are you saying that no model could predict the cooling trend (presumably because they do not have such specificity of result), that any result within a range of probability for all models is “predicted”, or that a specific model did predict the cooling trend?
[Response: The original claim implies that the current temperatures are out of line with all models. This is incorrect. For the period highlighted in the link (which, by the way does not make that claim about the models), 2003 to 2007, the range of model trends in SAT in the AR4 archive is [-0.40,0.95] deg C/decade – indicating clearly that short term trends are not useful for climate model evaluation. – gavin]
william wrote: “Even Hansen believes you have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed.”
Hansen is an expert on climate science. He is not an expert on energy technology issues. I believe that his support for nuclear power as an effective way reduce CO2 emissions within the very short time frame that Hansen himself has set forth is misinformed. The same is true of James Lovelock, who has expressed similar support for nuclear power: I believe that Lovelock has a profound appreciation of the interconnected, interdependent nature of the Earth’s biosphere as a living system, and thus a better appreciation of the potentially devastating synergistic effects of global warming than many other scientist do. But Lovelock, like Hansen, is misinformed about energy technologies and his support for nuclear power is naive and misguided.
For expertise on energy I am more inclined to look to someone like Amory Lovins than Hansen or Lovelock.
The notion that we “have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed” is, with all due respect, nonsense. The alternatives have already been “developed”. Solar and wind energy are the fastest and second fastest growing sources of energy in the world. Solar and wind are ready to meet our energy needs now, and nuclear power is not. The time from planning through construction to power-on for concentrating solar thermal power stations and wind farms is around two years. For nuclear power plants it is five to ten years at least. So the reality is more like “we have to build solar and wind power generation to supply US power needs while the nuclear power plants are being built.”
But there is no need to even build those nuclear power plants, because within the ten years it will take to build them and bring them online, we can be producing all the electricity we need from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. By the time even a single new nuclear power plant comes online in the USA, the rapid advance of wind and solar will make it obsolete and unprofitable. And that’s exactly why private capital won’t touch nuclear power, and is instead pouring into the new energy technologies of the 21st century, wind and solar.
Lou Dobbs has to be aware that Singer, Avery, and the like are think-tank promoters who use the media to mislead the public. He is not ignorant. He knows that these clowns are not scientists pursuing an understanding of the natural world. They have a long history of being categorically and consistently wrong on the facts.
Dobbs certainly knows the distinction between a right-wing think tank, and a credible scientific institution. Lou Dobbs is reading a script that intends to mislead the public, for what purpose I can only wonder. But I just can’t believe that he is unaware that these people are charlatans, and not actual climate scientists. Their reputation for making up nonsense in pursuit of a political agenda is well established at this point. They have no credibility. Surely Dobbs is aware of that by now.
storeman, producing alarming scientific results is not “alarmism,” it is honesty when that is what the data show. And please do not respond with cherry-picked data from the past few years.
We are on a slow moving train headed up-temperature. Various things may cause us to walk up or down that train, increasing or decreasing the temperature for a time. But the relentless up-temperature movement of the train will impose itself, no matter what we may prefer to believe. Please try to understand the science, rather than seeking to justify an ideological position.
JCH: How could you not know that? Most estimates, including IPCC, suggest about two feet SLR over the next century, a foot or so more than we saw in the last century but easily manageable. A fairly new study linked below helps to dispel some of the “20 meter rise” nonsense we’ve seen suggested in AIT and here at RealClimate in the comment stream.
The idea of having a discussion about the reversal of global warming based on a cold snap in the mid west of the US is yet another reminder that denialists not only can’t distinguish between climate and weather, but are seemingly unaware that the northern and southern hemispheres have complementary seasons, and while it may be freezing in Chicago, parts of Australia have, for the last month, been experiencing a succession of temperatures over 40c, in the case of Perth, in record numbers. Perhaps Mr Dobbs could come downunder and have a program consisting only of climate change experts to discuss how high global warming can push temperatures.
Re #150: SecularAnimist says “Hansen is an expert on climate science. He is not an expert on energy technology issues. I believe that his support for nuclear power…”
You know, if people would just stop believing things, and start thinking instead, we’d all be better off :-) For myself, if I had to rely on the opinions of others, I’d prefer the opinion of someone, like Dr. Hansen, with no particular stake other than results, to that of someone who has a career investment in a particular position. But I’d still prefer to see the facts each uses, and the reasoning process they apply to those facts, and think about them for myself.
Allow me to have an attempt to reword this in a different way. There is two causes of concern when it comes to the current models that are used to project climate change. The first cause of concern has to do with lack of data. Measurements that deal with these models have only been done in recent times. Yellowstone Park, one of the worlds largest seismic active locations, has only been measured for annual CO2 output for a decade ago or so. There is many seismic active locations that have not been measured. We aren’t sure if we have located them all.
In a nutshell, these models cannot answer the industrial age question for the reason stated above. Without proper measurements of all CO2 outputs on this planet and all other factors as well, it’s a bit much to say that mankind is the main reason for changes or how drastic the changes are going to be.
It’s like taking the atomic model and just guessing at half the inputs and declaring the results as science.
The 2nd concern is that some of the evidence has problems. It may not be popular but the ice core data has issues with it that have not been properly researched. There is bacteria in large populations in these locations.
“The microbiota may facilitate redox reactions and chemical weathering at the glacier bed (30), and their existence has potentially important implications for the global carbon cycle on glacial-interglacial timescales”
Here is the main thing that I’m trying to get across. Scientist need to be following the scientific process as close as the grammar police is following Galvin. (they got tired of pulling me over) Very important decisions will have to be made off of the results. A solution to mankind’s problems must be found and must be right. If for example, bacteria is found to be interfering with the results of the ice core data, it would set the entire topic back a long way. Even if this bug was not doing much harm and could be statistically factored into the data, the change would have consequences because of creditability.
Now there is other consequences with this subject. People are rushing to implement new technologies that may have major consequences of their own. Take wind power as a fine example. Everyone one is saying that we need to switch over to that, but what are the consequences going to be? You’re taking additional energy out of the wind and using it to power something. You do this on a large enough scale, it’s going to have some kind of effect. Nuclear technology has a host of well known problems. Solar panels are suspect to atmospheric conditions, though there has been recent advances that look promising. IE: the retina research. I’m not even going to go into atmosphere engineering. Honestly the best long term solution may involve space, a method to directly harvest the sun without all the problems of atmospheric conditions. But even then you would be suspect to solar activity and military, not to mention all the other threats in space… and the getting the power back to earth would be interesting in it’s own right. But if implemented, you would have a power source that is going to last longer then the earth and without direct implications on the environment.
In any regard, it’s likely that our depleting resources will kill us long before c02 will have the chance. I personally don’t think we’ll make it to that 10 billion number. It’s a modern day outlook of the 1300’s but with nuclear giants.
Gavlin – A forum would probably be a nice addition to the blog and would probably bring in more traffic. It would allow various discussions to take place.
Joeduck, I think you’re the very last blogguy who is _still_ repeating that Associated Press writer’s mistaken “20 feet by 2100″ story — and attributing it to climate scientists. Have you no sh … never mind.
Lulo, I am intimately familiar with Scafetta and West and their attempts to turn noise into a climate signal. Their arguments have been dissected into tiny pieces on this site. I am also intimately familiar with the story of how it was published as an opinion piece (precisely so it could circumvent scrutiny by any real climate scientists–or physicists for that matter).
For a physicist, you don’t really seem to understand the physics of climate very well. You also do not seem to be very familiar with the views of the physics community on climate change. What makes me most suspicious is that you seem to adopt the memes of the denialists without subjecting them to any sorts of statistical tests. And then there is your willingness to latch onto any cause other than CO2 even if there is no credible mechanism. If you are a physicist, what is your specialty?
EL, You are so confused. First, we know that CO2 is largely anthropogenic not just because it is increasing, but because the isotopic signature shows it came from a fossil (ie. once living) source. Second, if the ice core data were as seriously flawed as you say, then 1)it would give garbage and not strong correlations and 2)it would not correlate across hemispheres, thousands of miles, etc.
I commend to you the words of Mr. Twain: “It’s not what we don’t know that hurts us. It’s what we think we know that just ain’t so.” You need to unlearn what you think you know and go immediately to the “Start Here” button in the upper right side of the page.
Scientists are very well aware of the kinds of elementary concerns you are raising, and many others. In fact, they spend a large chunk of their time considering various faults, drawbacks, limitations etc., of their methods and data. The science is very much more mature than you appear to think it is, which is not to say that it is without fault or error.
I would encourage you to read some of the information on models, modeling methods, and model evaluation/validation at this site and at the IPCC WG1 site. You will find that it is very unlikely that you have found some fault that has not already been thoroughly gone over by many others, from many angles. There are many minds working on these issues, most of them quite good.
Dobbs has a history, which is hardly rare in journalism. Determine a cause which can advance his career, and push it relentlessly. He has been doing that with his populist anti-globalization programs for years. Perhaps climate change skepticism is his way of evening things out (anti-globalization is considered to support the left in the US). But, at least if he has responded to criticism by inviting some real scientists on sounds hopeful. Switching the subject was not a good start however. Perhaps some careful shaming of journalist for poor methodology, which gives equal weight to cranks and experts is a way to make progress. I am awe of Gavin’s (and the other RC contributors) tireless efforts.
US media used to have a fairness standard. And major media were cautious to not risk their license renewals by testing the limits. One of the more insideous things about how the right wing in the US has been working, is its ability to push eye-glazingly boring sounding legislation, which has the unstated goal of skewing the political landscape. The fairness doctrine was but one victim of this effort. Susan Jacoby, in her book “The rise of American Anti-intellectualism” states an opinion that forty years ago, in addition to having the fairness doctrine, mainstream journalists made good faith efforts to tell things fairly. That standard has been lost, in favor of ratings boosting story telling, and he-said she-said journalism.
[Response:Walter Lippman wrote on similar themes nearly a century ago in “Liberty and the News”. His writings on this are as relevant today as they were back then. -mike]
Why do so many posters use such derogatory language when referring to those who are less than convinced of the science underlying the hypothesis (it is nowhere near a theory yet)of AGW? In all of the above posts there is no mention of the urban heat island effect, nor of the effect of rural station drop out nor of the effect the GISS data manipulation has on surface temperature. Why is that?
[Response: Because each of these ‘issues’ are non-issues, simply brought up to make people like you think there is something wrong. The UHI effect is real enough, but it is corrected for – and in any case cannot effect ocean temperatures, retreating glaciers or phenological changes (all of which confirm significant warming). The station drop out ‘effect’ is just fake, and if you don’t like GISS, then use another analysis – it doesn’t matter. – gavin]
Only posting (or perhaps only publishing) views that support the concept of AGW isn’t really very scientific. And certainly condoning (by publishing) so many ad hominem attacks on those who do not ardently support the new religion reflects very poorly on the ethics of this site. A pity that all points of view cannot be discussed in a civilised manner. Why is there a disconnect between increasing CO2 levels and falling (or failing to rise if you prefer) global temperature? What hard evidence (not from GCMs) is there that human production of CO2 ihas caused increase in the global temperature? The evidence from the \deniers\ does seem a lot more based in observable facts than does that from the alarmists.
[Response: Noting that Tyndall observed the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the 19th Century does not make one an alarmist. Nor does acknowleding that predictions made in the 1960s (for GHG driven warming in the troposphere, cooling in the stratosphere), or subsequently have mostly all come to pass. – gavin]
“the isotopic signature shows it came from a fossil (ie. once living) source”
OK, I buy that there is an isotopic signature of man made CO2, but I was unaware of a peer reviewed study indicating what % of CO2 currently in the atmosphere is man made vs. natural. Please provide a link. Is there a website were this number is actually tracked? If not why does this keep getting mentioned here?
[Response: 27% (105/385). – gavin]
“The original claim implies that the current temperatures are out of line with all models. This is incorrect.”
It’s just great that whatever happens to temperature, you can spin it this way. Where can I see the actual temperature predictions each year for each model, so I can see for myself which one predicted the recent cooling trend? If you had ten thousand models and one of them got this year right then the models in total are good?
[Response: I never said this proved the models were good. Short term trends are just not a very good test of anything. – gavin]
Lastly, please point out to me where there has been shown a statistically significant correlation between C02 level and temperature over the entire GISS record. How about over the entire Satelite record? It seems to me that if CO2 really is the most important factor in surface temperature this would be easy to show. If you can’t show this, I think you guys should spend some time looking for other drivers of climate like the sun.
[Response: It will be more convincing for you to do this yourself. Go to http://woodfortrees.org and pull up the relevant timeseries. – gavin]
Please don’t point me to the IPCC report for this.
[Response: ??? Regardless, you should probably read the IPCC report. Especially the FAQ (linked from the ‘Start here’ page. – gavin]
#29 ulo Says:
” For years, we have been told that solar cycles and sunspots are irrelevant…”
My college dropout understanding of climate science isn’t all that great, but isn’t the modulation of solar input to earth by cyclic variations in the earth’s orbital parameters the basis of Milankovitch cycles & periodic ice ages? Hasn’t the absence of sunspots and cold climate conditions during the Maunder Minimum been known for a while?
“I am increasingly convinced that solar activity is more important than vocal, mainstream ecoscientists have led themselves to believe.”
Way back in 1997, other scientists were convinced by their analysis of the data otherwise – “From examining the data records I conclude: Changes in solar irradiance explain perhaps one-quarter of the increase in temperature during the last century. The changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration resulting from human consumption of fossil fuels cause most of both the temperature increase and the changes in the seasonal cycle.”
Dependence of global temperatures on atmospheric CO2 and solar irradiance
David J. Thomson, Proceedings of the National Academies of Science http://www.pnas.org/content/94/16/8370.full
“… climate models are complex and we get a lot wrong.” There is a difference between wrong, e.g. “CO2 absorption is already saturated so more CO2 won’t make any difference”, and inaccurate, e.g. “We show that the actual cloud feedback is smaller than what previous methods suggest and that a significant part of the cloud response and the large spread between previous model estimates of cloud feedback is due to the semi-direct forcing.” Arguing that quantification errors, simplifying assumptions, or that different models predicting different amounts of warming means that the GCM’s are “wrong” is disingenuous denialism.
“Even on the internet, inconvenient data are hidden. Go to the NSIDC, where lots of beautiful graphs are available for both the Arctic and Antarctic. When you get to the site, look for the Arctic data. Now look for the Antarctic data. Which was easier?” http://nsidc.org>data>easy-to-use Data Products>Sea Ice Index>Product Website
3 clicks and I got a page with northern and southern hemisphere trends shown side by side; maybe I just got lucky, but I didn’t poke around ’til I found this route – just went directly there, selecting what seemed to be obvious links. http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/
“The solar wind is declining, the earth’s atmosphere is shrinking and there are fewer sunspots and it is getting colder. In the 1990’s how many models predicted this?” Like I said earlier, I’m no climatologist, but I don’t think sunspots & solar wind fall under the definition of “Global”, as in “global climate models”. Is Anybody doing Atmospheric Oceanic Extraterrestrial Coupled Circulation Models? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_climate_model
Re #132. Secular Animist, as is his wont, continues to campaign against the expansion of nuclear power. I am unsure as to his expertise and suspect that it might be equivalent to my own (not a lot).
I would ask him to have a quick look at David Mackay’s book, “Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air” (freely downloadable from the internet). The author concludes, as does Secular Animist himself, that the United States could become self sufficient in sustainable energy (provided it doubled its energy efficiency) without recourse to the nuclear option. However, the same is not true for Europe as a whole (and the UK in particular). Over here, therefore, we have the choice of increasing our nuclear power production or importing sustainable energy (CSP-produced electricity, probably from North Africa). The first option appears to be much cheaper and to offer a greater degree of energy security. I do not believe that Mackay would agree that nuclear power plants cannot be built in time to prevent dangerous global warming. I think, however, that he might agree that plants of existing designs are not sustainable and that IGRs or LFTRs are much more so.
As a total layman, I am minded to take more notice of Hansen and Mackay than Lovins and Secular Animist but would be very interested in other opinions and, indeed, in Secular Animist’s own responses to Mackay’s treatment of the subject.
CCS is another issue which appears to produce visceral adverse responses. Clearly, energy from coal is not sustainable in the long term and one could therefore argue that investment in CO2 capture could distract investment away from renewables. However, one could also argue that, should the capture technolgy be cheap and imminently available, coal could buy time for the development of longer term solutions. In this regard, I have recently read that CO2 can be captured by adsorption on to activated charcoal at a fraction of the cost of alternative methods and without the need for prior cleanup of flue gases. This appears to give credence to Eprida’s approach of advocating the use of a combination of biochar, ammonia and flue gases simultaneously to procuce a valuable nitrogen fertiliser, a method of sequestering carbon and soil improvement. Does anyone who is more informed have any comments to make?
You may have noticed some of my postings over the past months. Many asking questions in relation to methane and climate modelling. Occasionally you have responded in a rather non-committal way.
I have just found your piece “Methane: A Scientific Journey from Obscurity to Climate Super-Stardom” (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/methane/), which clearly states the position I now understand after many, many hours of googling, emails, phone calls and attendances at meetings and seminars.
Had I read your piece earlier, I could have been been better informed when asking questions of government ministers, members of parliament, government department officials, members of the UK Climate Change Committee, climate scientists, journalists (especially at the BBC) etc. Through hard work and significant personal expense I do get to talk to or email these people.
I have been drawn into following some of the details of climate science because of policy issues concerned with mitigation. Carbon footprints are an example, I am part of the group that started http://greenrationbook.org.uk because we felt that there was widespread ignorance on this topic. In addition, http://renewalcities.org explores ways we might live in a climate friendly way. But what’s the point of this effort if climate change isn’t that bad?
Why didn’t you simply put in one of your replies “Look at the piece I wrote here…”? OK. Gripe over.
But the real questions is “Is your piece a good summary of the current situation?”. In raising the possibility that methane emissions could swamp the OH sinks, it seems at odds with what eminent climate scientists have told me recently “just another feedback” and “most methane is gone after 10 years” (…so it’s not that important).
Only posting (or perhaps only publishing) views that support the concept of AGW…
That is accusing RC of censorship. Did you by any chance take the time to read through the posts in this thread and others, and notice how many there are that are critical of AGW?
those who do not ardently support the new religion
Accusing serious scientists of merely being sort of priests of a new religion is very derogatory.
Normally your post would go unnoticed by me, if it weren’t for your opening sentence:
Why do so many posters use such derogatory language
Look up “hypocrisy”, it applies to you.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 17 Jan 2009 @ 9:55 AM
Ian Lee wrote: “. . .condoning (by publishing) so many ad hominem attacks on those who do not ardently support the new religion reflects very poorly on the ethics of this site. A pity that all points of view cannot be discussed in a civilised manner.”
I concur that a civilized debate is desirable, Ian, and try–not always successfully–to conduct my posting accordingly. I would suggest, however, that dismissing a scientific point of view as “religion”, which you yourself do in this post, is rather lacking in courtesy too.
I can testify that courtesy can get awfully difficult when those whom you debate are so prone to use words like “scam,” “fraud,” “garbage,” “fool,” and “money machine,” all of which I have encountered from the opposition within the last couple of days. Particularly so when climate change–over some timescale, and it doesn’t reassure me any that we don’t yet know just what timescale–is a survival issue.
It also doesn’t help when your opponent exhibits a “zero learning curve.” Yesterday, for instance, I found myself in the position of trying to explain to one poor fellow (politely!) how to read a Roy Spencer cherry-picked graph. As far as I can tell, he never did get it, which of course did nothing to decrease his dogmatism. I didn’t insult him, and eschewed the easy ‘gotcha’, trusting that the exchange would speak for itself–but you can bet I felt seriously exasperated.
“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”–but I’m really hoping not in this case. Despite our horrors and follies, I rather like humanity.
So, I hope you will extend this push for civilized debate to both sides, and don’t overlook the fact that characterizing the life work of thousands of researchers as “fraud”–ie., deliberate and culpable deception–is not the most polite thing to do! Nor is dismissing the peer-reviewed evidence as “religion.”
Worse, if you are wrong–and if “skeptics” are going to demand that we consider that we are wrong, then skeptics should return the favor–then dismissing that evidence is dangerous.
Kevin, I suspect you may have been misled as to what the IPCC reports are. (I have heard many untrue things repeated about the reports and the IPCC itself on the web.) The best way to be sure in your own mind whether or not you have an accurate idea of the reports would be to read them. The Summary Report is the easiest going, but you should also look at the individual chapters, and particularly the bibliographies, where you can see where the report ideas come from. Here’s a direct link to Chapter 9:
Note that there are ten pages of biliobraphy–you asked for links to papers, and the IPCC reports are the best “one-stop shopping” sources to find the citations. The problem is that usually people just want *one* link, or *one* paper to prove or disprove the science. Too bad it doesn’t usually work that way. If you are like me, you won’t wade through all that research. But if you are like me, you will reach a more accurate idea of what, and who, is involved in the AGW science.
Kevin B. Look at the links provided by B. P. Levenson in post #113.
Like it or not, the greenhouse nature of CO2 is an established fact. It’s a big factor in Earth being a habitable planet rather than a snowball. The only way around this is 1)to come up with a model of climate that explains things as well as the current model without a contribution of CO2; or 2)to show why CO2 should stop being a greenhouse gas magically at 280 ppmv.
Here is an example of what I would consider pretty good reporting on global warming. The Hartford Courant has done a good job of reporting the scientific basis for our understanding of global warming, and used to maintain a web page devoted to current articles on global warming science. That page is no longer maintained, but the article below and related articles provide links to reliable web sites on climate science.
Despite The Cold, The Heat’s Still On
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER
The Hartford Courant
January 17, 2009
So what ever happened to global warming? The question might pop up as we try to insulate ourselves from this week’s chill.
The short answer is, it’s January at 42 degrees latitude. Arctic temperatures — in the teens with a wind chill down to zero to 5 below — will be around at least through tonight, the National Weather Service says.
The longer answer: Weather is not the same as climate. The short-term fluctuations of temperature and precipitation we’re used to in New England are just part of a long-term picture of averages and means. Weather: An early frost kills off the last of your tomatoes.
Climate: Since 1990, the Connecticut shoreline has shifted from Plant Hardiness Zone 6 to the warmer Zone 7.
Climate is driven by many fluctuations, ranging from decades-long shifts in ocean currents to changes in the Earth’s orbit over hundreds of thousands of years (hence, the ice ages). But within the typical climate shifts of our own era, all of our fossil-fuel burning seems to be having an impact.
And while it’s cold right now, 2008 ranked worldwide as the eighth warmest year on record, tied with 2001, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s based on land and ocean surface temperatures going back to 1880.
Half the globe has warmed at least one-half of one degree Fahrenheit in the past 30 years, and a quarter of the planet has warmed at least a full degree, the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville reported last month.
That doesn’t seem like much. But signs of spring come earlier; snow cover is shrinking. Sea levels are inching up from the expansion of warmer water and melting glaciers and ice caps.
Still feeling cold? At least you’re not in Minnesota, where the temperature this week dropped to 37 below zero.
There is two causes of concern when it comes to the current models that are used to project climate change. The first cause of concern has to do with lack of data. Measurements that deal with these models have only been done in recent times. Yellowstone Park, one of the worlds largest seismic active locations, has only been measured for annual CO2 output for a decade ago or so. There is many seismic active locations that have not been measured. We aren’t sure if we have located them all.
In a nutshell, these models cannot answer the industrial age question for the reason stated above. Without proper measurements of all CO2 outputs on this planet and all other factors as well, it’s a bit much to say that mankind is the main reason for changes or how drastic the changes are going to be.
EL, carbon dioxide is what’s called a “well-mixed gas.” The readings aren’t going to be off by more than a few ppmv anywhere in the world unless you’re standing on the brink of an active volcano or in a Pepsi factory. And the models don’t depend on statistical or climate data, aside from conditions in each grid square at the start. They’re physical models.
Thomas (162) raises some good points at one level, but is either self-contradictory or defines terms to his own benefit. Speaks strongly in favor of the old Fairness Doctrine just after criticizing broadcasters for doing just that, ala Dobbs — unless “fairness” is defined as providing news that he (or some arbiter) deems fair, one-sided or not. The fairness doctrine does NOT mean that commentators viewed as cranks or doofuses by some are not allowed on the air. It simply required broadcasters to provide equal time to both sides; and that was deemed to be predominately political topics, not just any subject that had some contention. In fact having contention was not required.
Non- scientist here. Most of this is well over my head, but I saw something that I really didn’t understand. Hansen said about a warm 2009 and 2010 because of an El Nino. I thought we were in a La Nina. When did it change over?
Katz, you are probably remembering something posted as an excerpt earlier in this thread. Try your browser’s Find command on this page, search for Hansen, to see the earlier post, it has a link to the actual Hansen page (which is commendable).
You should look at the actual Hansen paper it will become clearer. The excerpt posted, I think — or something you read somewhere, for sure — has led you to misunderstand what Hansen wrote.
This happens a lot on climate blogs. Always look at the actual original source.
Don’t trust some guy on a blog to tell you what the scientist wrote.
To find some sort of common ground, it would take long-long time. Look at the case on danger of cigarette on human health, it takes not only years, but decades. Climate change is much more subtle, because it is relatively non-visible and has its own fluctuation. Thus, it is important for scientists and concerned citizen to get involved and be more active in communicating with people.
For the coverage of this kind from CNN or any other news media, we could send commentary or complaints. Think about 10 years ago if this happened, what could we do? and now?
In an essay published in January 27th. 2005, Bob May, President of the Royal Society, warned that a well funded campaign would soon be launched in the UK to discredit the whole idea that humans could affect global warming. That this forecast was correct, was soon confirmed by the campaigns in the Daily Mail, the Telegraphs ,
Channel 4 TV, the web and the discussion groups
Conjecture: such campaigns are targeted to countries whose governments announce that they might intend to do something about reducing CO2 emissions.
Conclusion: That the propaganda in the US will be stepped up. If that is right RC will have lots more work to do.
You might want to be a little more precise, although I understand what you meant.
CO2 certainly is a well-mixed gas, and isn’t off by much in most of the world, but there are actually higher concentrations in large metropolitan areas, like Los Angeles, and it actually matters.
SeeStanford Professor Mark Jacobson’s testimony to Congress last year.
“that a medium-sized city’s downtown area can have an average of
420-440 ppmv and a peak of over 500 ppmv carbon dioxide.”
In an already-polluted area, the effect is to icnrease the low-level ozone.
Hence, in some places, some of the time, CO2 actually *is* a local pollutant as well as being a well-mixed GHG.
We haven’t, yet–but Nino/Nina are part of an “oscillation” (the shorthand is ENSO, for “El Nino Southern Oscillation”), and we are currently more or less neutral, so an El Nino would be expected within the time frame referenced.
Katz (184) — La Nina left by mid-summer, if I remember rightly. Neutral right now.
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Jan 2009 @ 2:22 PM
Re #172: “…if we stopped giving useless and pithy statements to others, we would have more time to think and learn.”
Possibly, but since I’ve tried data & reason in the past (as have others, some much better than my attempts) without notable success… If at first I don’t suceed, I try something else :-)
“Actually, Dr Hansen has a lot in the Nuclear stake.”
What, exactly, other than the obvious desire to reduce CO2 output? I’d be interested to know specifics.
“You should be asking a Zulu Witchdoctor about nuclear power if you want to get a REAL independent opinion.”
Sure, if you can find me a Zulu witch doctor who also has say a BS in physics, and has done some study of the matter. Or maybe I’d ask someone who has done nuclear engineering, or electrical power systems. But why should I accept the opinion of someone who starts from the premise “nuclear is bad” (or good), and works hard at proving his premise?
RE 174 “But what’s the point of this effort if climate change isn’t that bad?”
1.) We do not have an unlimited quantity of fossil fuels. Regardless of its “adverse” environmental affect, other means of acquiring energy must be sought in order to meet the growing global energy demand.
2.) A dependence on fossil fuels requires a continued reliance on foreign oil, which is predominately harbored by hostile, middle eastern nations. Iran has been suffering immensely economically as Chinese, American and European nations see declining demand due in part by increased environmental awareness. The less power tyrants have the better–President Ahmadinejad’s popularity within his own nation has been declining faster than the price of crude oil.
3.) Prices of fossil fuels, namely crude oil and petroleum are subject to market speculation, with prices spiking and troughing at the whims of unknown speculators, helping to drive inflationary or deflationary concerns.
Any way one looks at it, regardless of whether or not one is convinced of AGW plausibility, a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be extremely beneficial, and perhaps very soon, a global imperative.
I hope to see the day that the U.S. will be able satisfy its energy needs primarily though an aggregation of renewable forms of energy. Nuclear, bio, wind and solar should all play a fundamental role in making this a viable and feasible reality.
Sorry Gavin, but you did not actually answer any of my actual questions. I asked for a link to a website or a peer reviewed study where the % of man made CO2 in the current atmosphere is shown. 27% is not an answer to that question. I also asked for somewhere that I can see the model predictions in advance for myself. Your reply was “I never said this proved the models were good”. This is not what I asked. I am not questioning the models, I would just like some place to verify what you are saying as fact. Same goes for the 27% comment. Lastly, all these links are just to home pages of massive websites. #113 included. You can’t provide me a link to where a statistically significant correleation has been shown between GISS temperature and CO2 levels over the entire record? To me that would be some serious evidence for what is claimed here. Hard to imagine that would be hard to find, unless it has never been shown to exist. If is has not been shown to exist, than all this CO2 talk looks like a bunch of handwaving to me. I am not questioning CO2 is a green house gas, just that if it is a primary driver of temperature there should be a significant correlation between the two.
[Response: Your idea of what is being done is fundamentally flawed. The attribution of current climate change is not based on a simplistic correlation. Having said that, CO2 changes are correlated with temperature – but on it’s own that is not proof. If you want the background on attribution read Chapter 9 of AR4. – gavin]
Has there ever been a non-obvious prediction made on CC that was backed up by experimental verification? This is how science works right? If sea levels have been rising for 5000 years saying they will continue to do so, is obvious. It proves nothing. Had you guys came out several years ago, and publicly stated “our best climate model shows a short term cooling trend at the start of this century, that will reverse around 2009/2010 and get back to the .2C/deacade warming trend”, you would have my attention, and I would start to believe the models may be able to predict 20/50/100 years out. What I see here is that any thing that happens was predicted by a model, or the average of the models, or is within the error bars of the model. So I am stuck having to take all of this on “Faith”, and that is not science to me. Please convince me with science.
A wild conjecture?
That the CO2 emitters are stepping up their campaign because of new policies being discussed in the US. I think that the same sort of thing was anticipated in the UK by the Royal Society in about the beginning of 2005.
If you’ve read Hansen’s original by now, you understand he wasn’t saying we are in an El Nino, but that one is expected by sometime in 2009 or 2010 — as several people pointed out, it’s an oscillation, and Hansen wrote about the probability of continuing in the current condition or seeing a change to the other condition. You got that, I trust, so you know what he was saying.
Current status from the link above fits with what Hansen wrote.
I’m not spelling out the current answer here — because it’d be wrong later on when someone came and read it. Instead they should look it up to find out, at the time they want to know, what’s happening.
[Something went wrong with previous post; sorry this is the proper version]
In an essay published in January 27th.2005 the President of the Royal Society warned that a well funded campaign would soon be launched in the UK to discredit the whole idea that humans could affect global warming. This was soon confirmed by campaigns in the Mail, Telegraphs, Channel 4 TV’s Swindle programme, the web and discussion groups.
Perhaps these campaigns are directed to countries whose governments threaten to do something about reducing CO2 emissions? If that is right you may be seeing the start of more propaganda in the US.RC may have lots more work coming its way
Hank: [arrghhhh!] 20 foot SLR claims have *nothing* to do with using straw man arguments as you suggest above. 20 foot Sea Level Rise continues to be a mainstay of the AGW alarmist line as you well know. Ever bother to read an AIT transcript?
It is very clear that *most* of the people reading here at RC are “very worried” about SLR in this century. Like criticisms of Kyoto is it absurd to suggest that is a straw man argument when millions and millions of people continue to believe 20 foot SLR is something to worry about and a Kyoto approach is the solution. I’m glad you agree it is foolish to worry about catastrophic SLR, but unfortunately that makes you an exception.
Joe Hunkins (200) — Unfortunately the web is chock-a-block with misinformation.
There have been three recent studies (mentioned on reliable web sites) which all seem to indicate about 80 cm to 1 m sea level rise by century’s end. One of these papers is the subject of a previous thread here on RealClimate.
That said, somewhere I picked up that the Dutch, english and California engineers are all using about 1.3–1.5 m by century’s end to make plans for inproved dikes and the like; engineering conservatism.
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Jan 2009 @ 5:18 PM
Anne van der Bom #176 accuses me of hypocrisy for using the term “new religion” in a post in which I am lamenting the use of derogatory comments in discussions on climate change. She is, of course, entirely correct and I apologise unreservedly for using the term. That said however, there does seem almost an element of faith in comments such as “the science is in” or the “science is settled” in relationship to anthropogenic global warming particularly as the IPCC reports use the term “very likely” when referring to AGW. Similarly comments from those such as James Hansen suggesting imprisoning the CEOs of fossil fuel companies are hardly those of the average “serious scientist”. Many deniers” are also “serious scientists”. I am a biochemist/molecular biologist not a climate scientist and recognise my own limitations in discussions on global warming. I do however know enough about science to appreciate points of view from both sides and as I said in my previous comment, the data from the deniers are more persuasive than those who categorically state, without definitive evidence that humans are responsible for global warming.
Re Joe Duck @200, Yes, as a matter of fact, I have read a transcript of AIT. VP Gore states quite clearly that if the Greenland ice sheet should melt, or if the West Antarctic ice sheet should melt, or if half of both should melt, we’d see around 20 feet of sea level rise. How is that in any way not factual? His only failing was not framing that melt with a timescale, but then that timescale is very much in question today. Never the less, I’ve seen no shortage of climate change hecklers willing to attribute a range of time scales to Gore in AIT, despite the verifiable fact that he did not mention any timescale.
And several posters here wonder why those who boldly and repeatedly demonstrate their willingness to bend and invent the “truth” and even outright lie are met with dismissive derision. Gee, I can’t imagine why.
Captcha observes: re- hammer, as in over and over and over
No, Joeduck, I know what Hansen wrote there, I checked my recollection now, looking at that New Scientist article. The several possible worst cases, attributed to several sources, don’t match the depth and time numbers you wrote, that you claim that someone here made.
The number you used is — exactly — the mistaken number that the Associated Press distributed and subsequently corrected, too late; it was widely reprinted and not well retracted. It was a typo.
You’re quoting it as fact and now you’re seemingly misattributing it to Hansen.
Look at the numbers you wrote above. Set them side by side with the several possible scenarios and the past experience Hansen describes, and you’d see the differences for yourself. Nothing Hansen wrote matches what you claim. Seriously, don’t just point to something and say it supports your numbers. Look at ‘em.
Kevin B., think of it this way. The insurance company can predict how many will die; but not who.
Analogously, ensembles of model runs can give us a very good idea of future trends, but not predict exact “turning points” due to natural variability. (And of course, external forcings can differ from what was expected–for instance, large volcanic eruptions such as Pinotubo are not currently predictable, and affect climate quite significantly.)
OCEANS RISING FAST, NEW STUDIES FIND
Melting ice could raise levels up to 3 feet by 2100, scientists say
David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Friday, March 24, 2006
This story has been corrected since it appeared in print editions.
E-mail David Perlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
They don’t tell you that was the correction they made — and I know it because I exchanged several emails with David Perlman while he persuaded their editors to change, first the headline, then slowly over several days to also change the repetitions of the mistake in the text of the article, which they finally did.
You can look it up. Lots of places where you can still read the error, a few of which will cite the Associated Press.
Joe Hunkins wrote: “It is very clear that *most* of the people reading here at RC are ‘very worried’ about SLR in this century.”
Personally, I am more worried about drought. Even in the worst-case scenarios, it will likely take decades for sea level rise to make the heavily populated coastal regions of the world uninhabitable. That’s an enormous challenge, but at least it’s conceivable that we can adapt.
However, intense, widespread, prolonged drought could begin suddenly, in any given year — maybe this year — and last indefinitely. We are already observing what appear to be trends towards increasing, long-term aridity in parts of the world.
Imagine continent-wide megadroughts wiping out harvests in the world’s most productive agricultural regions for a decade. And combine that with the loss of glacier-fed fresh water supplies for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And combine that with the collapse of most or all oceanic fisheries, due to overfishing and pollution (including anthropogenic acidification). Imagine a global famine that kills hundreds of millions of people within a few years.
To me that’s a scarier prospect than gradual sea-level rise over the course of a century.
Maya (208) — The decision makers working on the planning for improving dikes and the like are very unlikely to still be active by 2100 CE. However, if the 1.3–1.5 m estimate is proving to be too small by, say 2060 CE, there is still time for weathy countries to make appropriate adjustments.
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Jan 2009 @ 6:28 PM
There are still many questions to be answered about what proportion of climate change is due to mankinds’ activities and what isn’t.
CO2 levels have risen due to our activities, what effect this will ultimately have is, shall we say “Hotly” debated?
The GHG effect is a logarythmic scale and without various, often unspecific & unquantified (Unquantifiable?) ” Forcings” we’re not going to have a boiling planet within a century.
There’s no real argument about the need to move away from fossil fuels, simply on the grounds of diminishng supply and having Vladimir Putin’s hand upon the on/off valve of Europe’s major gas supply, isn’t reassuring.
For those who argue that wind power can fulfill or needs, sorry, but you’re full of wind.
A letter printed in my local, UK, paper made me do a quick calculation.
The writer bemoaned the looks of a coal-fired power station he’d passed and compared it to the beauty of a group of wind turbines near his holiday home.
I knew which power station he’d cited, output 2,000MW.
I didn’t know which Welsh windfarm he’d seen, but a big one at Cefn Groes, produces, no, sorry, doesn’t produce but has an “Installed Capacity” of 58MW from its 39 turbines.
I believe that the optimum windspeed for turbines is 33mph. In the UK, average upland windspeed is 22mph, lowland a mere 11mph.
So to replace this 2,000MW station, we’ll need 1,345, 2017 or 4,034 turbines, depending on what windspeed is factored in.
I wonder what area of ground is needed to erect 4,000 turbines on?
We don’t have hundreds of thousands of square miles of empty desert in the UK to hide similar numbers of turbines in.
We’ll also need back-up for when the wind doesn’t blow.
I suggest this rules out wind power as a viable substantial replacement for fossil-fuel powered electrical generation.
I doubt if the UK is going to ever get much power from photo-electric cells and storing that overnight could be a major issue too. At least the wind does still blow at night.
And how much Gallium will be needed to produce enough photo-voltaic cells?
So, solar power is not a viable, large scale replacement either.
Tidal power is interesting, but I’m unaware of any functional tidal powered generator, worldwide, let alone UK.
Also, the effect upon wildlife would be highly adverse, if we were to build a tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary, as an example.
Until commercial nuclear fussion becomes possible, that leads us with nuclear fission.
Now, that really stirs the greens up, they cry about Chernobyl & TMI.
Chernobyl has killed hundreds of people for certain, maybe thousands. Not a patch on deaths in coal mining over the centuries.
TMI killed nobody.
We’re not likely to build a 1960’s tech Russian nuclear reactor or to turn off safety features so an experiment can be carried out.
So, nuclear fission it is.
One other question, is if the developing nations, be they India & China, or should Africa manage to shake off its tyrants and start to industrialise in a major way, won’t curtail their emmisions, should we go back to a dawn to dusk existance, shivering in winter & half starving, limited to our immediate neighbourhood, when it’ll have precious little effect on global CO2 output?
Also, “Dangerous” global warming.
What dangers are we talking about at to whom?
Ah, for the record — this belongs in the earlier Sea Level Rise thread, which is closed:
Here’s a press clip archive that caught the SF Chron mid-correction, I’d guess it was captured online a day or two after the print run; this clip shows the headline as corrected, but is still showing the error one place in the text of the article:
“Oceans Rising Fast, New Studies Find— Melting ice could raise levels up to 3 feet by 2100, scientists say
San Francisco Chronicle (March 24, 2006) circ. 391,681
Times Argus (Montpelier, Vermont) (March 25, 2006) circ. 12,014
Glaciers and ice sheets on opposite ends of the Earth are melting faster than previously thought and could cause sea levels around the world to rise as much as 13 to 20 feet by the end of the century, scientists are reporting today. . . . The teams, which Overpeck led together with Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., analyzed climate and polar ice records from 130,000 years ago. . . . ”
Facts are tricky things, and as the Chron example shows, sources will say “errors were corrected” without specifying what the error was, let alone who made it or who corrected it or when. Ya gotta look.
Anne van der Bom #174 quite rightly accuses me of hypocrisy for using the term new religion in a post lamenting the use of derogatory terms in discussions on climate change. I unreservedly apologise. That said I would suggest to Anne van der Bom that statements such as “the science is settled” and “the science is in” seem more articles of faith than of science particularly as the IPCC uses the term “very likely” in relation to human caused global warming. I would also note that there are many “serious scientists” in the r4anks of the “deniers”. I’m a biochemist/molecular biologist not a climate scientist and I am aware of my limitations in discussions on climate change. However, scientifically speaking, the data from the “deniers” seem more credible than those from the alarmists. Although there is some correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature (although not in recent years) correlation is not causality and there is, as far as I am aware, no conclusive evidence that human produced CO2 is causing increased global temperatures.
Adam Gallon says, “The GHG effect is a logarythmic scale and without various, often unspecific & unquantified (Unquantifiable?) ” Forcings” we’re not going to have a boiling planet within a century.”
You know, Adam, somehow I think I’d trust your assessment a bit more if you could spell the word “logarithm”. But alas the rest of your reasoning is as confused as your spelling. You’re at the right site to learn this stuff. Take advantage of it.
Well, Ian (215), what evidence, conclusive or otherwise, are you aware of that suggests that CO2 stops absorbing and emitting infrared light when it’s atmospheric concentration reaches well below 286 ppm? Because that is what you would have to have to make the case that rising levels of human-produced CO2 are not causing higher global temperatures.
In addition, by going to the ‘Start Here” button at the top of the page on this site, by starting there you can find reliable inofrmation about climate, including the fact that extra carbon dioxide warms the planet.
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Jan 2009 @ 8:37 PM
Ian Lee claims “such as “the science is settled” and “the science is in” seem more articles of faith than of science particularly as the IPCC uses the term “very likely” in relation to human caused global warming.”
Do you feel similarly about the Universal Law of Gravitation?
How about conservation of Energy?
You do realize that very likely equates to 95% confident, and you do understand that 95% confident doesn’t equate to 5% uncertain, right?
Then Ian chimes in: “However, scientifically speaking, the data from the “deniers” seem more credible than those from the alarmists.”
Do tell, Ian, where is this data from the deniers? What peer-reviewed journal is it published in? Uh, you do know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, don’t you?
David (211) – Right you are, of course, but the dikes and so forth that are being planned now should still be in use in 2100. I was thinking about some poor urban planner, 80 or so years from now, contemplating the dike that is about to get swamped, going “But why didn’t they make it just a couple feet higher??”
“there is, as far as I am aware, no conclusive evidence that human produced CO2 is causing increased global temperatures.”
There is an enormous amount of evidence, a vast weight of it. Where to even start? I’m at a loss to even know where to begin to address a statement like that. What, pray tell, would you consider “conclusive evidence”? What is this credible data from the deniers? I have yet to find ANY argument from the deniers camp that cannot be debunked. If you could please give some specifics, we can give specifics in return. Thanks.
Maya #224 says “There is an enormous amount of evidence, a vast weight of it. Where to even start? I’m at a loss to even know where to begin to address a statement like that. What, pray tell, would you consider “conclusive evidence”?” Well Maya, this is a bit of a non-response as none of this plethora of evidence is provided. Surely it would be the work of only an instant to retrieve some evidence that categorically proves the point and would silence those such as myself who are continually seeking this evidence. Although it wouldn’t be conclusive evidence one way or another it would be instructive to discover why, in this decade, CO2 concentrations have continued to increase but global temperature has not. If CO2 has such a significant role one would expect the correlation to be maintained. That it is not suggests the role of CO2 in global warming may be less than is suggested.
With regard to “credible evidence fro deniers”, the following extract from a recent article in Pravda (Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age January 11 2009) provides data that are persuasive for the “deniers” viewpoint. “Elements of the astronomical theory of Ice Age causation were first presented by the French mathematician Joseph Adhemar in 1842, it was developed further by the English prodigy Joseph Croll in 1875, and the theory was established in its present form by the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovich in the 1920s and 30s. In 1976 the prestigious journal “Science” published a landmark paper by John Imbrie, James Hays, and Nicholas Shackleton entitled “Variations in the Earth’s orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages,” which described the correlation which the trio of scientist/authors had found between the climate data obtained from ocean sediment cores and the patterns of the astronomical Milankovich cycles. Since the late 1970s, the Milankovich theory has remained the predominant theory to account for Ice Age causation among climate scientists, and hence the Milankovich theory is always described in textbooks of climatology and in encyclopaedia articles about the Ice Ages”.
[Response: That’s extremely amusing. You think this contradicts mainstream climate science? – gavin]
Ray Ladbury #221 says “You do realize that very likely equates to 95% confident, and you do understand that 95% confident doesn’t equate to 5% uncertain, right?” A touch patronising perhaps? I was unaware that”very likely” had a probability value of 95%. Can you advise what experiments were performed to show this? If the IPCC mean 95% probability when they say “very likely” why not write 95% probability to make it quite clear. And yes Ray Ladbury I am aware that 5% uncertainty means a 1:20 probability that the results were due to chance alone. Ray Ladbury then goes on to say, in typical alarmist ad hominem fashion, “Uh, you do know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, don’t you?”. Yes Ray Ladbury I do indeed but knowing that and knowing global warming is due primarily to human action are very different entities. Aren’t they? And see my response above to Maya re peer reviewed material. Last time I looked “Science” and “Nature” were vying for top spot for scientific journals. And this “peer reviewed” mantra is a bit overdone as the allegiances of the “peer-reviewers” is entirely unknown. The editors of most journals have a panel of scientists to whom they refer submitted papers and it is improbable that articles from alarmists are reviewed entirely by scientists who are sceptics. If they were (and of course vice-versa) then peer reviewed might indicate a much more stringent approach.
[Response: Where’s the beef? Where are tha hundreds of serious papers that have been inappropriately rejected? Instead, we have dozens of papers whose elementary errors should have meant that they were never published (Chilangar anyone?). Peer review is a just a first cut, and getting past that is not much of a challenge. – gavin]
Brief excerpts/paraphrases below I typed while listening; all errors mine. Notes are presented merely to encourage you to listen. Don’t argue with them, they’re likely wrong and certainly fragments. Go to the real video if you want to think about it.
at 38 min:
The unintended consequences of the biological methods are really scary …. and we don’t know what will happen. We already have … a problematic enough situation in the ocean. …. let’s not do the Google Terraforming … that’s for another time and all it does is leach energy away from the decarbonization project ….
Not “affluence” but “appetite” because you can live a very affluent life with very little expense and very low carbon. …. hyperconsumption, …. perpetually trying to keep up ….
Questions that come out of sociobiology — what are we as social creatures, and what would make us happy?… You can find aechulian hand axes for half a million years … and yet the brain was growing like a balloon blowing up ….. this is what we did:
(Screenshot) The Paleolithic Life
… Spending the day outdoors
walking and running
looking at fire
seeing by moonlight
cooking and eating
talking and listening
singing and music
dancing and sex
finding a mate …
Terry Bisson says what people really want to do … is sit in the dark together and look at flickering in front of them ….[maybe that’s what movies are, you don’t care what you’re watching ….]
The things that we do in ordinary life, our primate brains are freaked out by them.
Beauty+terror equals the sublime (Edmund Burke) …
A lightning storm, drink something and goo down into the cave with the shaman …
Those were supposed to be the exception to the rule, but in the technological sublime our ordinary life is in the sublime all the time and the daily activities that made us human … you pay money to go off on vacation and do these things that feel good … because that’s what made us this way.
“Enough is as good as a feast” — English proverb (before printing)
The hyperconsumption … the 25 percent of natural resource consumption for 5 percent of the population has not made us happy.
Going back to these activities as often as possible, … many of them are free…
Appropriate Technology, a phrase out of the Seventies that has almost goine away, because we are so inappropriate …. as primates with a certain set of biological habits that we have.
How do we get forward to a sustainable civilization … permaculture, permutation and culture
Thoreau — one day at a time, every day … not in the heroic mode of John Muir.
Thoreau is perfect for that … a full natural life
Q: Do you really think there is any hope?
A: Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. … We don’t have the luxury of being pessimistic. … it’s not the good question. What you want to say is “how much can we save?” and that becomes a relative thing.
Q: Corporations don’t fear climate change
A: They should … this goes back to the economic question…. if you put the real cost on carbon it’s fifty dollars a ton … thirty-five dollars a barrel … beyond what’s charged. …. predatory dumping. Who are they predating? … our grandchildren. That’s what we’re doing systemically…. If you have a carbon tax … some corporations will say … we can finally figure out what things cost … corporations can participate
Q: I’m a physicist …
A: Where does technology and society reach hard points and contradictory moments? … It fits into the class of windows of opportunity … that come and then they go. … we’ve got about fifty years in which we might be able to go to Mars …
a sustainable balance with Earth’s natural biological infrastructure … a sufficiency, then at that point it’s going to be a stable population … the natural replacement rate of about 2.2 for human beings is achieved in all prosperous countries…. then you could build, you could get out into the solar system … we might have some recovery work, some carrying capacity work to do. … What people fear I think is the general systems crash …. we simply aren’t that stupid and … are mostly democratic, and once 51 percent of the population agrees we are to do these things they will get done.
Is this just an imaginary relationship to a real situation, and the real situation is that we’re screwed? Or …
Q: … do you see any steps toward a different economics happening anywhere?…
A: … cooperatives … not taking away the surplus value …. Open source … shouldn’t just be about computer code … all expertise could be open source … the commons … there were working commons where everybody used the commons…. the government is the virtual reproduction of the commons, … all of us gathering together a whole bunch of capital and saying we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that …. open source is somewhat mysterious but … it might be taken as an economic model…. Enough is as good as a feast, even better than a feast because a feast makes you sick …. then you go into a gift economy …. This is not profit-loss thinking, this is non-capitalist thinking …. still has a commons that is embattled by privatization …. you can make a profit and still not feel good, but giving almost always feels good. What they need is narratization … it also needs theory.
More people like Krugman … Stiglitz …
Why when I Google post-capitalism … why don’t I get five fat textbooks that are being taught ….? There are always alternatives …. Margaret Thatcher said there are no alternatives … she also said there is no society ….
… Capitalism has bought up the next 30 years in the forms of con-tracts, d-e-bts, mort-ga-ges, and supposedly those are …. the idea that the future is already bought … is a powerful notion that people want you to believe …. new and better economic models I hope will come out … you can’t get out of climate change without better economic models.
The strong cooling trend since 1998, the switch in the long term (30-40 years) cooling trend of the Pacific, the lack of strength in cycle 24, the dimished strenth of the solar winds, (23% in fact), we are in for a bumpy ride to colder temps.
jcbmack #218 I’m uncertain why you ask about chaperones and transesterification of spliceosomes etc. perhaps because I said I was a biochemist/molecular biologist. Rather than answer each term you mention (I could get the information off the net quite easily couldn’t I?) it is more evidential that I am what I say I am to point you to the most recent paper I had published in a peer reviewed journal. It is at http://tinyurl.com/7g3eww. You will note I am corresponding author.
Jim Eager #219 says”Well, Ian (215), what evidence, conclusive or otherwise, are you aware of that suggests that CO2 stops absorbing and emitting infrared light when it’s atmospheric concentration reaches well below 286 ppm? Because that is what you would have to have to make the case that rising levels of human-produced CO2 are not causing higher global temperatures”
“For those unswervingly committed to the Carbon Hypothesis, the explanation for the above findings is obvious. Carbon dioxide is causing the observed temperature rise. Its concentration is increasing reasonably uniformly over time. Hence, any other parameter that increases reasonably uniformly with time will coincidentally also give a good fit with the observed temperature rise. However, this argument is two-edged. If global temperatures are being driven to rise roughly uniformly by some other factor, any factor that increases steadily with time will also correlate with the rising temperature. Carbon dioxide concentration is one such factor. Hence, statistically any correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and temperature may be purely coincidence.
We can conclude that, from statistics alone, there is no reason to believe that the correlation between global warming and increased carbon dioxide concentrations is other than coincidence. It follows that this coincidence cannot form part of the science supporting the Carbon Hypothesis”.
In the absence of the scenario you describe, Professor Johns does at least provide some data that addresses the significance of the correlation between CO2 concentration and global temperature. Oh by the way, why 286ppm? There is comment that the pre-=industrial CO2 concentration (which is what I assume you are referring to) was 335 ppm (Jaworowski http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/ and references therein). Jaworowski also goes on to say “Improper manipulation of data, and arbitrary rejection of readings that do not fit the pre-conceived idea on man-made global warming is common in many glaciological studies of greenhouse gases. In peer reviewed publications I exposed this misuse of science [3, 9]” and
“the basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false. Therefore IPCC projections should not be used for national and global economic planning.
[Response: Garbage all over again. Jaworowski was simply wrong. – gavin]
So the last 100 years: CO2 from 290 to 385 ppm,
Temperature increase? Yes, minimal!
Droughts, hurricanes? Nothing unusual!
Sea level rise? Minimal, and easy to manage!
Then, according to RC, the forecast for the next
100 years with CO2 at (perhaps) 500 ppm?
Unequivocal, undeniable, unarguable apocalypse!
Sorry, that’s religion!
[Response: No, it’s garbage. If you are going to criticise us, at least do it with a reference to something someone here has actually said. Making up stuff to point fingers at is extremely juvenile. – gavin]
Comment by Fred Jorgensen — 18 Jan 2009 @ 12:39 AM
David B Benson #220 in my comment #215 I wrote “Although there is some correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature (although not in recent years) correlation is not causality and there is, as far as I am aware, no conclusive evidence that human produced CO2 is causing increased global temperatures”
You then kindly point me to an article in Scientific American that states
“It’s still difficult to confidently trace any given phenomenon directly to greenhouse gas emissions from our cars, factories and power plants. The computer models used by climate scientists lack resolution and certainty.”
As you obviously realised, this is exactly the point I was making. Thank you for reinforcing it. Your assistance is much appreciated
16 January 2009 at 11:22 AM
Jeff Masters: Point taken. Thin, winter sea ice builds each year to almost the extent that it used to, but we have lost a lot of the permanent pack. This explains why Arctic sea ice deviations from normal are greater in the winter than in the summer.
You appear to have that backwards!
However, reporting on Arctic conditions all the time, with nary a mention of the fact that Antarctic concentrations are on the increase (so that global sea ice has barely budged downward) is also misleading.
What’s misleading is your statement! Antarctic sea ice extent is not increasing, also global sea ice area anomaly has been significantly below -2 Mm^2 three times since 1979, all within the last 18 months.
I mentioned this before, but go to the NSIDC and take a look at how much more easily accessible and emphasized the Arctic data are than those for the Antarctic. I think many of us subconsciously apply spin to our public dissemination of information, and it goes both ways. http://www.nsidc.org/
Eventually, you’ll find the Antarctic graphs and I’ll bet that a few of you would be very surprised.
From reading this RC comment list and others it’s clear that Denialism is taking a new tactic – accepting global warming, but fighting the association of CO2 with any of that warming.
That’s a delay tactic.
After inevitable and serious warming to come, the next tactic will be diversionary. The denialist argument will be to accept that CO2 may be one cause but certainly not the main cause (water vapor, methane etc.) And that it is not the main cause and it is not possible to know exactly what percentage of the cause can be assigned to CO2 – with absolute certainty of course. The denialist goal here is to prevent any reduction carbon combustion.
Then with higher CO2 levels and warming the obstructionist tactic will be to accept a CO2 cause, but stridently reject a CO2 cure – at that time saying things are so bad that curtailing CO2 emissions would do very little to actually reduce advanced warming. A nice plausible argument.
This all fulfills the denialist’s implicit goal: to protect the commerce of carbon fuel. Especially coal – right now the most pressured – so now start seeing the ghost of the Joe Camel ad campaign http://action.thisisreality.org/content/joecamel
Gavin, I think you are astoundingly tolerant. You are far too nice, too accommodating, to what you choose to see as honest scientific skepticism. Where others might see this as see denialist/obstructionist zealotry.
Re sea level rise – OK that Bangladesh may still be here by 2100 – thats a ‘rate’ thing. But if we accept that we are unlikely to have less than 385ppm CO2 for the next millenia and we are therefore going to get the warming that is in the pipeline to stabalise surface temperatures, then what is to stop the ice that exists today continuing to melt until it is all gone? It might take a while, but as a prognoses for civilisation, it will all go, wont it?
As Hansen has indicated:- “…no stable coastline for longer than humans can conceive.”
That said I would suggest to Anne van der Bom that statements such as “the science is settled” and “the science is in” seem more articles of faith than of science particularly as the IPCC uses the term “very likely” in relation to human caused global warming.
When the IPCC uses the term “very likely” they mean to express a certainty of more than 90%. Because the assessment reports are targeted for a broad audience, they decided to replace mathematical certainties with expressions that make the reports more readable by ordinary humans.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 5:24 AM
I think you misunderstood EL. It’s worse than you think. I think (s)he is questioning the fact that the rise in CO2 levels is caused by the burning of fossil fuels and instead might be attributed to volcano’s.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 5:35 AM
#219 Jim Eager:
Well, Ian (215), what evidence, conclusive or otherwise, are you aware of that suggests that CO2 stops absorbing and emitting infrared light when it’s atmospheric concentration reaches well below 286 ppm?
I suppos you meant: “reaches well above 286 ppm”
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 5:41 AM
Despite the alleged problems of setting up substantial amounts of wind power, Denmark seems to be getting 16% of its electricity from wind. How did they do that if it’s impractical?
And as for the sun — solar thermal plants store excess heat from the day in molten salts and use it to keep the turbines running at night. Some STC plants achieve nearly 24/7 operation.
With a wide-area grid, solar and wind can provide very reliable power. Add in geothermal and biomass and you’re all set. Nuclear not necessary.
Although there is some correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature (although not in recent years) correlation is not causality and there is, as far as I am aware, no conclusive evidence that human produced CO2 is causing increased global temperatures.
1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).
ps to reply to #193, Hansen is in a country that has a lot of money available to be taken by building complex nuclear stations, part of a superpower who says who can make nuclear fuel and who can’t.
He’s part of that country. I would say that gives him a bias on the view.
Find a kallahari bushman then. They aren’t going to need nuclear power and they aren’t going to be able to profit from its use.
THAT is a neutral POV.
Someone with a degree in nuclear physics doesn’t have a neutral point of view either (and is most definitely a wrong choice if you don’t believe AGW because “the scientists just want to get their grant money”).
It is strange that you DEMAND a neutral POV but only neutral when you consider it neutral. A REALLY neutral POV is not wanted because it doesn’t tell you what you want to hear.
Geoff Bacon boasts:
“Had I read your piece earlier, I could have been been better informed when asking questions of government ministers, members of parliament, government department officials, members of the UK Climate Change Committee, climate scientists, journalists (especially at the BBC) etc. Through hard work and significant personal expense I do get to talk to or email these people.”
Had you put the hard work and significant personal expense to EDUCATE YOURSELF first, then you would not seem so foolish.
Quite often the problem with queries on RC is that the person asking the question doesn’t even know what they are asking, leaving the answering person trying to figure out what the question was and answer it.
And complaining that someone didn’t point you to a link ON THE SAME PIGGING SITE in a reply when with very little personal expense or effort, you could have, oh, I dunno, READ UP ON THEM yourself it seems your hard work is just spent on getting to hobnob with “important people”. Actual education is very much a tertiary issue.
“1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).
Which of the above do you dispute?”
None of them. But which one conclusively shows human produced CO2 increases global temperature? Read the (peer reviewed) paper by Lowell Stott et al (Science 318 (5849)pp 435-438) who claim temperature increases precede increases in CO2 by about 1000 years. Which part of that paper do you dispute? There is no reason to assume that the points you make show CO2 increases temperature. Equally they could be taken to show temperature increases CO2 as Stott claims. There is a considerable difference between correlation and causality. Incidentally, as I mention in #233 the article in Scientific American has a similar position to mine. Perhaps you should send your points to Scientific American also.
Gavin -I don’t have any beef about peer review. I mentioned it in response to a (rather snide) comment from Ray Ladbury # 221 who said “Do tell, Ian, where is this data from the deniers? What peer-reviewed journal is it published in? Uh, you do know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, don’t you?” Essentially I have the same view as do you about peer review and was trying (unsuccessfully it seems) to make that point
jcbMack says #234 “I have serious doubts Ian is a biochemist or molecular biologist let alone him showing solid evidence from the so called “denialist scientific argument.”
Why should you disbelieve me? I’m not in the habit of telling lies and certainly not lies that could easily be disproved. You could have a look at http://www.biomedexperts.com/Profile.bme/790160/Ian_R_Lee and from there have a look at the papers listed. Of course you might say “well how do I know that is you”. If so you could contact Sharyn Pope my PhD student or Dr Fiona Baxter my previous PhD student or Dr John Gustafson with whom I collaborated and see what they say. If, when you’ve read the web page, you’re satisfied I really am a biochemist and a molecular biologist it would be nice to hear from you. The papers with Pope and Baxter are in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biochemistry (2001 and 2005 Google will bring them up for you) Note the journal is not given in the web page I’m referring you to.
There are are apparently some people who are of the opinion that the earth is cooling – that we are currently experiencing global cooling.
Some even think the NASA website contains clear proof of global cooling.
So BPL. they clearly should be able to tell you which items in your list are in dispute:
1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).
Renewables are not quite as problematic as you seem to think.
You seem to fall in the ‘divide and conquer’ trap by analysing and dismissing each option separately. Renewables can and will be successful, but there are things you need to realise:
1. Diversification: wind + solar PV + solar thermal (with molten salt storage) + tidal + wave + biomass + geothermal
2. Think big. Think Europe. The connections between grids in Europe must be reinforced to allow more cross border energy transport. Over large areas the fluctuations in wind are much smaller. This has already been studied. See the ETSO European Wind Integration Study
3. Hydropower. Norway has lots of it. Denmark already has a link with Norway, between the Netherlands and Norway one was completed recently and one is planned between Britain and Norway. The existing Norwegian hydropower can be used to compensate for the fluctuations in wind power (and other renewables).
4. Offshore wind. It doesn’t cost land. The ever growing size of wind turbines will make offshore wind cheaper.
5. Switching to renewables is not like building a bridge. If we only get to 50% or 70%, then that is 50% or 70% won. A bridge that spans only 70% is as good a no bridge at all. So who cares if wind can’t provide 100%, that doesn’t rule out wind as a usable source of power.
Follow the realtime energy generation in Spain for some time and see how nicely it blends in with their CCGT and hydropower. As I write this, wind is providing 28% of Spanish electricity, which is a lot. Strong winds today apparently. Thanks to all that wind, they only need 4.8 GW of the total 22 GW of CCGT. 1.6 GW is used to pump water, which they will be able to use for tomorrow’s peak consumption. Usually, when the wind is strong, they throttle back on CCGT, thus saving a lot of gas.
Your remarks about a “dawn to dusk existance, shivering in winter & half starving, limited to our immediate neighbourhood”, that is just unfounded alarmism.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 12:09 PM
I have to ask – am I the only one not seeing a cartoon at the end of the post?
Comment by Regular Reader — 18 Jan 2009 @ 12:14 PM
A) Wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are viable technologies for averting AGW.
B) Wind, solar and renewables are not viable as total solutions with current technology, so nuclear with all of its potential problems must contribute significantly to the solution.
C) Nuclear is inherently so dangerous that wind, solar and other renewables are the only viable alternatives, even if living standards must be significantly reduced.
I don’t think that any reasonable person can outright reject the theory of AGW, because the basic underlying science is pretty straight forward. What is not so straightforward and what is not “settled” in my mind is what are the secondary “feedback” effects of increased CO2. And as a computer programmer working on computer models for the last 20 years, I am quite well versed with the limitations of using computer models to predict the future.
What bothers me is the recent hoopla that has been well covered in most media that AGW is happening faster and with more serious consequences than what the computer models predict. If anything, the current data is ambivilant or contradictory to this particular assertion. Whether the current cooling trend or lack of warming is noise or something else may be above my pay grade, but it certainly does not indicate that AGW is accelerating faster than the models predict, and seems somewhat disingenious or desperate on the part of those putting forward these assertions.
Both sides of this debate cherry pick the data that supports their positions and ignore or downplay data that contradicts their positions. While this is qite normal human behavior, it makes it much more difficult for those people like myself who are simply wading through all of this information learning and deciding for ourselves what is the truth. But I would rather have the opportunity to examine all of the data to decide for myself, regardless of how difficult that is, as opposed to having the “truth” served to me on a silver platter by some government entity that has already decided for me.
PS, Dr. Pielke, you don’t allow comments at your site; I hope you’ll correct your misattribution _of_ the error there, point to the original poster’s mistaken claim about you, and note that Gavin corrected it.
Gavin could have been fiercer in your defense, I suppose. But people do that kind of thing all the time, claiming some eminent scientist supports their wacko notions hoping nobody reads them — most of us here do check claimed sources, and know “lulo” as quite unreliable.
Making several posts so I can figure out what the spam filter is complaining about.
first part —
“Well Maya, this is a bit of a non-response as none of this plethora of evidence is provided.”
Oh come on! It isn’t a non-response at all to ask you to be a bit more specific. This is like having a conversation with my seven-year-old when he asks me something like “Why does weather happen?” “Well, honey, do you mean the clouds? The seasons? When it rains?”
Since you probably aren’t seven years old, asking us to do your research for you is lazy. You’re right in the middle of one of the most informative websites available – go read it. The IPCC report is a good compilation of research – go read it. The books linked to on this site are excellent resources – go read them. Go to any of the papers or books written by the scientists who contribute to this site and read them. Find Hansen’s papers and read them.
Everything except the actual books are available online, and if you don’t want to buy the books you can ask the reference desk at your local library to obtain them for you, if they don’t already have them.
Temperatures are still rising, even this century. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/12/2008-temperature-summaries-and-spin/
If you don’t understand that CO2 and temperatures aren’t going to exactly match every single year, or that 8 or 10 years is too short a span to base a climate trend upon, then concentrate some of your reading on the statistical end of the science, with particular attention paid to “cherry-picking” and “graph-cooking”.
I have no idea why you think Milankovich is an issue.
I’ll ask my original question in a slightly different way: If you could please provide a specific instance of a credible denialist argument, I (or someone) will be happy to provide a specific reference for refutation. Alrighty?
Barton Paul Levenson Said (#241): “Despite the alleged problems of setting up substantial amounts of wind power, Denmark seems to be getting 16% of its electricity from wind. How did they do that if it’s impractical?”
The usual claim is that Denmark gets most/all of its energy from wind. But whether it’s 16% or 100%, what you don’t consider is that Denmark is not electrically isolated. It’s part (and a small one) of the European power grid. When the wind’s not blowing hard enough along the Danish coast, Denmark imports electricity from elswhere, while if more is generated than used, it can be exported. Averaged over long period, you can say that Denmark gets X% of its electricity from wind, but it only works because of all the German coal plants, Swiss hydrolectric dams, and French nuclear plants that support the system.
“And as for the sun — solar thermal plants store excess heat from the day in molten salts and use it to keep the turbines running at night. Some STC plants achieve nearly 24/7 operation.”
And how much land would need to be ravaged to build enough of these plants to supply an appreciable fraction of electric consumption? Far more than is strip-mined for coal.
“Nuclear not necessary”
No, nuclear is desirable, since it can produce baseload power more effectively, and with less environmental impact, than those other sources. And most importantly (at least from my point of view) nuclear plants can be sited close to the major consumers of power, so that any negative effects will be felt primarily by those who enjoy the benefits.
I clicked on the link and the file is not found. Also I was asking about those terms to see how you answer, but as a molecular biologists and biochemist myself I know there are nuances and discoveries that cannot be faked or found anywhere online. How you answered my questions would give or take away credibility from you. Guess how credible you are now?
Also you have made grave errors in your explanations and defenses of the cause for doubt of AGW. Back to the drawing board, Ian.
Ian Lee (233) — Which item in Barton Paul Levenson”s comment #242 do yu disagree with?
You see quite fixated on certain items of misinformation. You could learn about climatology. I recommend beginning with W.F. Ruddiman’s “plows, Plagues and Petroleum” and then going on to read David Archer’s “The Long Thaw”.
Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Jan 2009 @ 1:53 PM
Correlation does not mean causation is a very basic aspect of statistics and epidemiology, but you are twisting the meaning Ian. Try looking at more sophisticated statistics and learn trend analysis,and while you are at it learn the difference between climate and weather. Tamino has some great links on his site, one I also have on mine, called Mathworld. I also recommend you buy an elementary statistics book at Payhalf or Amazon. Or go to your local public library. The Earth is a vast system, we are not discussing a parasite that causes a specific disease, but the attribution is very highly correlated with a high degree of confidence and many observations support the calculated warming and satellite data, though they may measure different things, show the melting of ice and changing distribution trends.
jcbmack, the URL Ian posted above has a problem common with this blog software — the trailing period is not part of the URL, but often gets incorporated in error. You’ll never find a valid URL ending in punctuation other than a forward slash; always remove it if you see it.
This works: http://tinyurl.com/7g3eww
Unfortunately the link I gave in #231 didn’t work so my credibility is zilch. Click the link I give in #247. I just tried it and got there with no problem. I used to teach about heat shcck proteins (chaperones) and their role in protein folding and transport of proteins across the ER and through the Golgi apparatus. And if you go back far enough you’ll find stuff on the use of monoclonal antibodies and in vitro effects of steroids on protein synthesis studies in JCEM. Have a look at the paper on 5-alpha reductase using site directed mutagenesis or the Y2H stuff, they should give you at least some indication that I am what I claim. As for the grave errors etc I did say I wasn’t a climate scientist so perhaps you could tell me what these grave errors are.
Can you explain why Stott’s paper in Science claiming CO2 increases follow temperature rather than vice versa, is incorrect? This seems a crucial difference from the popular belief that temperature follows CO2. This link should (I hope) take you to a precis of Stott’s work. http://college.usc.edu/news/september_2007/stott.html
Finally whatever jcbmack may think I am a university academic with an interest in finding out the facts about climate change. I have an open mind and am very happy to have it proven that AGW is true. I didn’t post on this site to have a stoush ordid I expect to get slagged off as a liar and a buffoon and I find it very disappointing that this has occurred.
James 258. Certainly wind on its own presents problems for a national supply. The ideal renewable system entails a mix of wind and solar supported by strategically-located sets of tidal generators (matching the tidal offsets) with hydro (or even pumped storage) acting as the ‘battery’ to store energy (by not draining the lakes through the turbines) for those dark still cold nights. If that was the basis we were to move forwards with, then the macro-scale energy infrastructure development and upkeep could (for a change) be done with some measure of logic, instead of suffering from the diverging demands of commercial and national interests as it is now.
There will need to be much more attention paid to on-site energy storage at the domestic and small commercial user level to ease transfer loads on the grids, but if nations imposed a tax-account to each energy user where the carbon tax could only be spent by that private and commercial tax-payer on approved and proven renewable energy systems, then it would all rapidly sort itself out.
The bulk of the world’s nuclear waste is in storage while we figure out what to do with it. That is not a ‘solution’ – its not mitigating or avoiding the effect – its just delaying the day when we must do something about it. Its the gorilla in the room of every nuclear power plant proposal.
And then ponder the impact of fossil fuel use in uranium mining, extraction, the construction of the power plants, the decommissioning and disposal of the plants and the comparatively short life of such plants (about half that of a coal-fired plant) and you will begin to appreciate that nuclear power has a huge carbon footprint – its not ‘green’ power at all.
Roger and Gavin: I am afraid that this is all a misunderstanding. The words quoted by Gavin were my own. Gavin’s response was informative, but may have inadvertently created the impression that I had quoted Dr. Pielke. I simply provided a link to a paper that purported that there is much left to be understood, which happens to be in line with my own, much less technically-informed, opinion. I apologize if my sloppy url linkage led to any misconception of what is written in Dr. Pielke Sr’s short opinion piece. The closest he comes to stating anything of the sort is “the absence of heating of the magnitude reported by Hansen and his collaborators and the 2007 IPCC report should raise issues with respect to our level of understanding of the climate system, since the global climate model projections used by the IPCC predict more or less monotonic accumulation of heat in the Earth’s system.” This is a distinct statement from my own, and I should have gone further to ensure that this statement would not be misconstrued as Dr. Pielke’s. I trust that a review of my post will show that this was not my intention, yet I understand how it might have been misinterpreted that way. Please accept my apology
“And then ponder the impact of fossil fuel use in uranium mining, extraction, the construction of the power plants, the decommissioning and disposal of the plants and the comparatively short life of such plants (about half that of a coal-fired plant) and you will begin to appreciate that nuclear power has a huge carbon footprint – its not ‘green’ power at all.”
Now, show me Life-Cycle-Analyses for solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels. I’ll bet they show that the solution is worse than the cure, carbon-footprint-wise.
But whether it’s 16% or 100%, what you don’t consider is that Denmark is not electrically isolated. It’s part (and a small one) of the European power grid. When the wind’s not blowing hard enough along the Danish coast, Denmark imports electricity from elswhere, while if more is generated than used, it can be exported. Averaged over long period, you can say that Denmark gets X% of its electricity from wind, but it only works because of all the German coal plants, Swiss hydrolectric dams, and French nuclear plants that support the system.
Please explain to me why wind should be able to provide a small country like Denmark in isolation? What is the logic of that criterium?
Here is a thought experiment for you: if the EU would decide tomorrow to unite in a single country, would wind then suddenly become viable, because its electricity stayed within the borders of the USE (United States of Europe)?
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 4:46 PM
Reminder — the comment numbers CHANGE, especially in the early days after they are made. Refer to the timestamp to identify them permanently, that does not ever change.
Why? with the blog software comments may be held up for review. Some may be so simple there’s no hesitation posting them; others may be complicated enough that some thought is required by the Contributors before one of them approves it. That avoids the problem of stuff appearing that’s so stupid it has to be reviewed and deleted later, which causes the same kind of numbering problem with the opposite sign.
Eventually, once reviewed, each post will appear as timestamped on submission. But some appear sooner than others, so what you see today as say 200 may be 202 tomorrow, if a couple of other comments bumped into visibility.
How? Use /View/Source — search for the timestamp. Copy out the chunk of html, and paste it in as your reference, if you want it to show up as a clickable timestamp, or just copy and paste the timestamp or say whose posting at what time you’re mentioning.
Otherwise the livelier the thread gets, the more mentions people make by number, the less accurate people’s number references will become. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s how the tool works.
Re #270. Jae, it might be smart to do some reading before you start betting (but then again you might get more tired). Solar cells for instance earn back the energy that was invested in producing them in a year or two (better if you put them in a really sunny place). All of their remaining lifetime they produce net clean energy. Wind turbines much the same. Biofuels: depends, pretty good for all biofuels made from waste streams of course.
Jae, how can they be worse carbon-wise? Other materials-wise maybe, but carbon?
You need to extract then transport then refine (can’t do it on-site because people might nick refined uranium for a dirty bomb). CO2 is released by curing concrete and a 100 ton concrete slab is a 100 ton slab no matter how you make it.
JB, 264, if you’re adamantly against uranium, why would you go to those links?
A self-defeating post.
RodB 262, What did you drag a political party from? Global Warming is no political party. Climate scientist is no political party.
Now if you’re going to say there’s a lot of political power behind AGW, there’s even more behind the “think of the children” and KP especially. On occasion it even beats out terrorism for the #1 spot for raison d’etre.
WRT my comment #269, a closer look shows that it was not Gavin who posted my statement in quotes before Dr. Pielke’s paper’s URL link. It was another contributor (John L), who also does not appear to have intended to attribute the comment to Dr. Pielke. I am so embarrassed by this blogospheric debacle that I’m going to go climb into a cave and hibernate. Some of you may be pleased by this. Thanks, Gavin, for all of your informative commentary of late. :)
Most research shows the energy payback time of a wind turbine is extremely short, around 6 months. For solar cells this is around 4 years.
I’ll bet they show that the solution is worse than the cure, carbon-footprint-wise.
Regarding wind & solar: You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 5:16 PM
when you use inaccurate papers and make claims based upon little to no evidence that is what you can expect. Your grave errors were already pointed out, if you had a chance to read the analysis of Jaworowski. It is clear too you are unaware that the awareness of the Milankovitch cycles does NOTHING to change the reality of global warming largely due to CO2 increases. I have my doubts as to your sincerity when you refuse to learn the basics of climate science. If you are in fact as qualified in these other fields, then why do you abandon the scientific method when discussing climate science? This is why I had my doubts. Very few chemists or biologists deny global warming due to humankind’s activities. Most take the time to get the basics down first before asking questions and making criticisms, why have you refused to do this? It is clear from your posts you have not looked at: start here, the IPCC report and the RC Wiki.
Those lucky few using Firefox, they can select the timestamp in the page and then use ‘View selection source’. Then searching for the time stamp is not necessary, the source view will only show the time stamp HTML. After that it’s: Ctrl-A (select all) Ctrl-C (copy to clipboard) Ctrl-W (close source window).
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 18 Jan 2009 @ 5:30 PM
after reading Stott’s work I can tell you it is a little vague and far more evidence is needed to validate it. He may have a point that CO2 alone did not end the ice age, however, without more direct reference to his data collection and methods along with others work verifying the results this is just a hypothesis. The article takes liberties on what the findings might suggest, but does not strongly evidence it. Going back to your correlation does not equal causation, this study is not even well correlated, or at least I see no correlation methods utilized.Do you have his original work along with several others published in the journals? If in fact the lower depths of the ocean warmed before a rise in CO2 how does this change what most of the data indicates about CO2 as a driver of temperature increases?
Thanks Kevin #272. I think robust discussion is the essence of scientific arguments but I think being called a liar is something else. As Shakespeare put it ‘he who steals my good name steals all’ and jcbmck certainly did that withj as far as I can see no reason to say “I seriously doubt Ian os a biochemist or a molecular biologist. Not only that but I doubt if he/she will have the courtesy to comment after checking my credentials. I have had a look at my posts and in none of them do I take a personal swipe at anyone. As for the rest, I hope I don’t in future make snide comments such as “learn the difference between climate and weather’ and purchase a stats book and “Uh you do know CO2 is a greenhouse gas” etc. I think too many on this site are smugly full of their self importance and self righteous belief that their views on climate change are the only possible valid interpretation of the data. In December of last year in excess of 650 scientists presented a report to the US Senate that cast some doubt on the current mainstream understanding of AGW. Are all these scientists liars and buffoons or just deluded fools who need to be shown the folly of their dissenting ways?
[Response: I strongly suggest you check into your various claims before you make them. The ‘650 scientists who presented a report to the US Senate’? Go look it up – it is a list of misquotes and misrepresentions of many scientists, combined with a scatter-shot collection of people who have nothing to do with climate, all collated from newspapers (and mis-counted) by somone on Senator Inhofe’s staff. It has no official standing whatsoever, and people who’ve been embarrassed to be on it have been unable to get off it. There are certainly some liars and buffoons among them (as in any large collection of people). If you do not want to be counted among their number, do some reading and thinking before engaging. You cannot take your sources (whatever they may be) at face value. If you are not lying, then someone is lying to you – and don’t you think you owe it to yourself to see? – gavin]
Most research shows the energy payback time of a wind turbine is extremely short, around 6 months. For solar cells this is around 4 years.
That’s all true, but one should be equally quick to rebut the disinformation about nuclear energy not being even lower in carbon emissions. It is enormously lower in unprevented fossil fuel revenues, so other fossil fuel revenue cancellers must be suspected of being tokens.
Lets get something straight here folks.
Temps are cooling and have been for 8,000 years. IT would appear from the temp graphs that I have been able to find, that we were at least 1.5 to 2.0C warmer 8000 years ago than we are now. There was a very rapid rise in temps at the beginning of the Halocene period which seemed to peak 7-8000 years ago. Since that time we have had a slow drop in average temps with cyclical varaiations within said drop.
That is climate…..the data based on 20-30 years is weather. Kinda like the ice in the Arctic. What we are seeing there is weather being people seem to be stuck since 1979, ignoring evidence that the NW passage has been ice free numerous times prior to 1979. In 1944 it was ice free, but we didn’t have satalites then, only ships like the St Roch.
Sig (289) — There is certainly evidence which shows that in some regions in was about 1–2 K warmer 8000 years BP than ‘at present’. But ‘at present’ is defined to be 1950 CE and BP stands for ‘before present’. In the intervening 59 years many parts of the world have warmed most rapidly and considerably; I believe there is evidence from the Pacific Warm Pool showing it is now warmer there there at any time in the past several hundreds of thousand of years.
The ‘very rapid’ warming leading up to the so-called Holocene Climatic Optimum whipped along at around 0.1 K per century; we have now caused an increase of around 0.8 K per century recently. What is that? Ultra fast?
Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Jan 2009 @ 7:06 PM
My apologies for raising the issue of the carbon content of nuclear power. I’m sorry because it’s the wrong thing to be focussing on.
If proponents of nuclear power ignore the issue of dealing with the consequences of nuclear power (the radioactive waste etc) then they must accept that they are suffering from the same myopia as those who don’t think we (those living today) should deal with both the cause and the consequences of sea level rise, global warming or peak oil. Most of us will be dead before these three horrors are visiting us in full force, but there are many who feel we have a duty of care to the future earth and to our children to leave it a better place, and so we are encouraging everybody to look ahead and make plans today to avoid as far as we can the worst outcomes.
A nuclear power plant that did somehow fulfil its promoter’s environmentally-benign vision would definitely be a useful quick fix for some of today’s energy concerns, but it has within the intrinsic and inescapable issue of what are our children going to do for the next 10,000 years with the thousands of tonnes of waste from the up to 8000 nuclear power plants?
Either we care about our children’s legacy or we don’t. Many of us do. Intensely.
Hah okay they I ask you this: How many solar panels and wind turbines will we have been constructed within the U.S. in order to attain 20-30% energy capacity? Millions, over an area that is IMMENSE (anyone wish to quantify?). These units will eventually be placed ALL OVER the U.S. even along perhaps the entire eastern and western coastlines. How do you intend on getting to and from these locations to repair and install these units? Furthermore, because these units will be more exposed to nature’s elements, they will require constant attention and will be more inclined to deteriorate faster in the less hospitable conditions. Until transportation is running strictly on renewables/electric, wind and solar will be significantly flawed in the former regard. Whereas with nuclear energy, all repair and maintenance issues will remain in-house, requiring no transportation to ensure the plant is working sufficiently. This would also be significantly less time-consuming and thus more economical.
Now, I am not at all saying that wind and solar technologies are not excellent prospects; they are. However, if people wish to examine and compare how “green” a technology is due to its carbon footprint one cannot start and stop at the building/manufacturing/preparation process when weighing it against nuclear. The fact of the matter is, no one or two forms of renewable energy will be the answer. Employing the available technologies collectively will yield the best results in the long run, as some are good where others lack and vice versa. A development of all the known technologies will furthermore allow us to adapt more accordingly if one or several of the renewable forms of energy prove less suitable/viable due to some currently unknown/”negligible” variable(s).
even if this is you in these publications how is it you are not using proper references, the scientific methods which you would use in all branches of science and you are using so few references. In general if one looks at both sides of an argument or the evidence from two sides, one must consider both ends with compelling evidence. You have not done this. Where is the validated data, the high degrees of evidence?
Re 62, and Gavin’s response—— both of them in response to 54:
Neither of you actually answered the  question directly.
The IPCC answer appears to be that the fact that the models are unable to produce the global temperature changes seen , without anthropogenic forcing—– is in itself, strong evidence for AGW.
But that assumes that the models are 100% correct—and that the global temperature change measurement methodologies are unflawed and unassailable.
The IPCC claims their conclusion is ‘robust to variations in model formulations’, and uncertainties in forcings.
It’s hard to see how they could be certain about that, when the uncertainties they admit to, involve such important components of climate.
It’s to be expected that there would be warming now, is it not—even if the Industrial Revolution had not occurred—since we’re in an interglacial period still?
The total ice extent would not be expected to remain static in an interglacial, would it?
So many of the AGW proponents seem to be desperate to dump the coal industry, and want nothing to do with developing clean coal technology.
It seems almost certain , if Steven Chu is confirmed as Energy Secretary, that the shift will be towards nuclear power for base load power —-everything we hear about him attests to his enthusiasm for that—at least until renewables are ready to go, some time down the track.
With America and Europe building up their nuclear industries, it seems impossible to believe that every country around the world would not follow—especially as AGW proponents already give praise to countries [ like Germany and France] that are hugely assisted in their Kyoto compliance by their nuclear industries.
Nuclear capabilities in every country around the world, large or small, stable or unstable, [both seismically and politically ], seems like a recipe for a whole lot worse than a warming climate.
That eventuality will change the world forever, with no going back—wall to wall nuclear powers , some of them at each other’s throats—-many of them murderous dictatorships, some of them suicidal.
OK, all. I screwed up and conflated cost and carbon-footprint. It’s the cost that is the problem with wind and solar, not the carbon footprint. But I guess in this era, nobody cares about that. “The government will cover that.” LOL.
I have read research that indicated solar forcing at approx .5C per century in the early Halocene period. It had an error bar of plus or minus .3C.
I have not read about a current warm pool that has exceeded prior ocean temps, so I can’t comment on that.
I do know that since the switch in the Pacific, that overall ocean temps have fallen from 1996-1998 levels.
Data from ARGO seems to verify this trend.
The short term trend in global temps is down since 1998. That is weather, the criterion will be if it continues on this path to become climate.
There is some question, it would appear, as to co2 whether it is a driver or a follower of temps. Ice core data from Greenland seems to verify both sides of the arguement depending on the time frames in reference.
There are a lot of forces that have culminated at the same time to bring global temps down, and they seem to be doing it quit rapidly.
As a farmer I have a keen interest in the trend in temps, and also the sun cycles, as the cycles correlate with reduced ag production. We are very similiar to 1913 in this sun cycle, and 1913 was not a good year for production.
The rise in temps since 1850 could be a blurp in climate. I do know that the science is not there to say with certainty that they are or aren’t. Climate year 2009 looks to be starting on a very cold foot, that I do know for sure.
My apologies to all concerned if I seemed to mis-attribute a quote, a link, and Gavin’s response. I was not sure what html codes were accepted in postings and was sloppy. I should have used better punctuation or elliptical comments to make clear who was who within the blockquote.
#258 James Says: “And how much land would need to be ravaged to build enough of these plants to supply an appreciable fraction of electric consumption? Far more than is strip-mined for coal.”
According to (1), 12.5 million hectares were strip mined in the US as of 1971; 41% of that acreage, 5.125 million hectares, was devoted to coal.
According to (2) solar thermal yields 1 million kwh per annum; therefore, if the total area stripmined for coal were converted to solar thermal generation, it would yield 5.125e12 kwh per year.
according to (3), the total annual electrical production of all fossil fuel (coal,oil, nat gas) is 2.8825e12 kwh, or only 56% of the power that could be generated from solar thermal on an area the size of that stripmined for coal through 1971.
jcbmack#294 Yes it is me although trying to convince you that I am what I say I am seems inordinately difficult. At least I’m posting without any pseudonym nor with only a partial name and I’m providing further information to substantiate the things I claim. Incidentally, on questions of biochem and molbiol what’s your view on the role of filamin A as an endocrine effector? How about microarrays what’s that all about? What is the significance of intron splicing sites? as to the other questions you ask, to put up a post with the amount of discussion and detail you’d provide in an introduction to or a discussion of a paper is not all that feasible due to space limitations. Sure I probably don’t pick the right papers nor quote extensively from a range of references and I’ve been on a rapid learning curve on this site. But I do have doubts about AGW however much I am assured it’s the only possible explanation for the increase in global temperature. Now there’s a point, I thought the anomalies were based on the period 1961-1990 but recent comments suggest it is now 1951-1981. If indeed there has been a change in the reference period why is that? And is the average temperature for 1951-1980 the same or higher or lower than that for 1961-1990? More significantly my doubts about AGW were initiated by irritation from comments such “as the science is in” by high profile individuals in Australia. James Hansen calling for imprisonment of CEOs of fossil fuel companies also detracts from the main stream view of AGW. I’ve been re-reading the paper by Koutsoyiannis et al May 2008 in which he compares the predictions of GCMs with actuality at 8 locations. I read this when it came out and as it states the predictive value of the GCMs is not really very good at all this further deepened ny doubts of the mainstream view on AGW. Other references are quoted that (not unexpectedly) support his view but to give them here is perhaps unnecessary. There’s a lot data that suggest AGW is not the only or even the most probable explanation and the cooling (or at least failing to rise) of global temperature for 8-10 years is not entirely conducive to unqualified acceptance of AGW either . One final point I mentioned the 650+ scientists submitting a report to the US Senate but was advised by Gavin that the information I had was dodgy to say the least. It does seem odd that all the AGW stuff is deemed kosher and all the sceptic stuff is wrong.
[Response: It’s not ‘odd’ – it’s what happens when you have massive disiniformation campaigns pushed by lobbyists and ‘think’-tanks arrayed against basic science. For instance, why do you think that the baseline for temperature anomalies is the least bit significant? Does it it affect the trend? or the rise over the 20th Century? Did someone tell you it was important? Who? and more importantly why? As for Koutsoyiannis, see here. Finally, a piece of advice – if you actually want information and engagement don’t load up your comments with a stream of consciousness ragbag of vague points of disagreement. Take one thing at a time and concentrate on that specific issue until it is resolved. – gavin]
#298. Jae, sorry to spoil your day again, but wind power is already cheaper than fossil power in many places around the world, and in many more when you account for the huge subsidies that fossil fuels get in a variety of ways. Solar power is getting close in the sunniest regions, and its price is coming down at a tremendous speed. Solar modules this year are 20-30% cheaper than last year, after some years that the huge cost reductions in the production chain did not reach the market. That was because production could hardly keep up with global demand growth which has averaged 40-50% over the past decade.
… My apologies for raising the issue of the carbon content of nuclear power. I’m sorry because it’s the wrong thing to be focussing on.
If your assertion that the “carbon content” is not extremely low had been true, this would have been quite a reasonable thing to focus on. Your mole got whacked, but your failure to apologize for its falsehood suggests you will pop it forth again at some later date, in some other discussion.
If proponents of nuclear power ignore the issue of dealing with the consequences of nuclear power (the radioactive waste etc) then they must accept that they are suffering from … myopia … what are our children going to do for the next 10,000 years with the thousands of tonnes of waste from the up to 8000 nuclear power plants?
The waste’s special attribute is not its mass in tonnes but its radioactivity, which I find can usefully be measured in watts, and on that basis compared with the radioactivity naturally in the Earth’s continental crust: ~1500 picowatts per litre, ~200 megawatts per metre of depth times the continents’ total surface area.
If our descendants, over those ten millennia, were going to accumulate much more than 200 MW of artificial radioactivity, they might still avoid being irradiated by it by burying it a metre deep. (Prospectors in aircraft did once survey North America for surface uranium, but the stuff had to be within ~20 cm of the surface, and the aircraft within a few hundred metres of it, for its rays to get through both rock and air.)
Without resorting to deeper burial than 1 m, they could gain a stronger assurance by limiting the buildup to much less than 200 MW; then they’d know that even if wind removed the top metre of land from all the burial sites, the rays from artificial radioisotopes, although no longer blocked, would be a small addition to the rays from those parts of the Earth that formerly were buried between a metre and ~1.2 metres deep, and now are also exposed. The burial scheme could fail safely, or as engineers say, it would be failsafe. Maybe they don’t say that any more. Casuists often pretended that it meant something else so as to refute a claim that had not been made.
The natural up-from-the-ground dose is very unevenly distributed. People show no preference for regions where it is relatively low, so they would have no reason to mind if those low spots were radiologically filled-in somewhat with artificial radioactivity. They’d still be cooler than naturally hot regions such as Colorado, and as above said, people show no rad-fear in deciding whether to go to Colorado.
Burial much deeper than 1 m is obviously possible, and is in fact being planned. This means the amount that can prudently be accumulated, because it would be unable to materially increase the Earth’s radioactivity even if got loose, is much more than 200 MW.
So how many megawatts of persistent radioactivity can accumulate if millions of megawatts of fission power* is operated for many centuries? Enough that candid nuclear nuclear proponents must mention it? Of course not.
It is, and will be, little enough that those of us not in the business can quite prudently ignore it.
In the interests of brevity, and the aforementioned problems with post numbers, I’ll combine responses to several points in one post.
Anne van der Bom Says (18 January 2009 at 4:46 PM):
“Please explain to me why wind should be able to provide a small country like Denmark in isolation? What is the logic of that criterium?”
That’s my point. A favorite claim of the “renewable power can do it all and we don’t need anything else” folks is that Denmark gets some large percentage of its electricity from wind, the imputation being that if Denmark can do it, so can the rest of the world. As you say, and as I keep trying to point out, Denmark isn’t electrically isolated, so the imputation is false. Denmark’s wind generation works only because it is a small fraction of the non-wind generation of the European grid.
Nigel Williams Says (18 January 2009 at 3:42 PM)
“The ideal renewable system entails a mix of wind and solar supported by strategically-located sets of tidal generators (matching the tidal offsets) with hydro (or even pumped storage) acting as the ‘battery’ to store energy (by not draining the lakes through the turbines) for those dark still cold nights.”
Yes, that would work if you could build sufficient tidal/hydro/pumped storage (or high speed flywheels, pressurized air in caverns, &c) to match the wind/solar. But existing hydro is (IIRC) about 7% of US generation, and has operating constraints (like assuring stream flows for fish & farmers) that limit how much intermittent generation it can support. All the storage schemes cost money to build & operate (a cost which increases as the percentage of intermittent generation increases) and most have significant storage losses.
As for tidal… Given that there are only a few small plants in operation, I would want to know a lot more about long-term environmental effects before starting major construction.
Nigel Williams Says (18 January 2009 at 3:57 PM):
“The bulk of the world’s nuclear waste is in storage while we figure out what to do with it.”
We know what to do with it: reprocess it into new fuel. Advanced reactors can “burn” most of this waste: what’s left can be buried in suitable geological formations. Oklo has demonstrated that such storage is safe for something over a billion years.
“And then ponder the impact of fossil fuel use in uranium mining, extraction, the construction of the power plants…”
Even with present technology, this is of the same order as for the construction of any other type of power plant. Further, there is no inherent reason why any part of the stream has to produce CO2. Much mining equipment is electrical now, railroads could easily be electrified, site construction equipment could be electrical…
“…the decommissioning and disposal of the plants and the comparatively short life of such plants…”
Which is an artifact. With proper design & occasional refurbishment, there is no reason that the basic plant structure shouldn’t last for centuries. Properly mixed concrete lasts: if you care to visit Europe, you can find examples of Roman concrete construction in use today.
truth Says (18 January 2009 at 8:49 PM):
“That eventuality will change the world forever, with no going back—wall to wall nuclear powers , some of them at each other’s throats—-many of them murderous dictatorships, some of them suicidal.”
North Korea, Iran, Pakistan… And much of the development funded by oil dollars.
Off topic – Jim Hansen has stated that model runs suggest a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth is possible if we burn all the coal (and definitely if we burn all the tar sands and tar shale, too).
“If we burn all of the coal [on the planet], there is a good chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse effect,” he said. That runaway greenhouse effect could become unstoppable, eventually boiling the oceans and destroying all life on earth in what Hansen called the “Venus Syndrome,” after the conditions that exist on the planet next-closest to the sun.
Several people posting here are hinting at some conspiracy to silence those who oppose dealing with climate change (Rod B #74, lulo #109). There’s far more evidence of the opposite. The anti-science crew get copious media time often for repeating the same discredited talking points. I am running into a problem with putting together a science advisory board for my Greens election campaign: people with government or even academic jobs are reluctant to have their names associate with a pro-environment campaign for fear of damage to their career prospects. To me this is McCarthyism: the people you talk to in your spare time should not figure in your work situation.
If anyone here is interested in giving honest (i.e., not aimed to satisfy a prejudice) expert opinion to an Australian state campaign, let me know (you can find me via the link on my name). Anonymity will be preserved if necessary.
Don’t you think it’s worth consideration that a sceptic might have nothing whatsoever to do with the coal industry or any other industry—especially the cigarette companies—-but might just want freedom of speech and scientific inquiry to prevail—- might just want a hearing for those who propose alternative scientific explanations for what is happening instead of seeing them consigned to pariah status and professional blacklisting?
Do such people have no rights of communication on this matter at all, without being labelled and pilloried—even though they too will face the impacts of the solutions the AGW proponents approve of?
If a person would rather see a large research effort into clean coal technology, [whether it’s conversion or sequestration ], than see every country in the world encouraged and given the go ahead to build nuclear power industries, thereby increasing exponentially the dangers of nuclear accidents or conflict—-does that make that person some sort of planet vandal in your view?
People seem to be having an issue with the idea of renewable technology being able to replace/mitigate the fossil fuel and nuclear ageof the recent past. This essentially means that the present industry of energy provision and the entrenched minds of the statis quo have argued successfully on the political scence via lobbyists and funding of politicians. Several scientists have also added to the debate with articles and facts about energy and in what context and lifestyle we wish to use it.
If we take the UK for example, it is known that each person in the UK on average uses 125 KW energy per day. If we take the UK as an isolated country that must use renewables to power itself then it gets the environmentalists wound up when people want to create the severn barrage to supply hydro power at the expense (in their eyes) of the flora and fauna of the area. The same goes for onshore wind warms which get peoples all upset especially if they are to be found on beautiful hills that spoil the view and then there is the noise and all of the arguing about their efficiency etc. It just goes on.
The UK has 10,000 tonnes of nuclear waste that needs dealing with but a lot of it is low grade waste, contaminated coffee grounds, suits and the like but it is said by environmental groups that its deadly and will contaminate the world with is terrible radiation. The measure of dealing with it is political in nature via a lot of scare mongering it seesm to me anyway. Lets try what James Hansen says and get IFR reactors working that work by gobbling the existing waste as a energy source. Its a technology that was a little but of a major advance but was politically decimated in the clinton era but the science and engineering still exists.
No single country can live as it presently does, but energy efficiency is not going down well presently for a lot of people (probably nearly all). Its like the PC (personal computer) argument which relates to their being 1 billion of them now and 2 billion come 2014 or so the forecasting goes. Crickey, IT already makes up for 2% of total energy usage (same as all Aircraft) and its going to go to 6%. We can make them all more efficient but its still a lot of energy usage.
The problem is a big one but as yet, no solution just more consumption.
EL @129 i tend to agree with you that if we don’t understand something we shouldn’t mess with it. of course ‘understanding’ is a continuum, not an absolute.
and using this logic, we should stop pumping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, because we don’t know exactly what it is going to do to our planet and by extension, us. we should also not try to engineer the atmosphere, but the only way we’re going to avoid doing this is to stop adding greenhouse gas to it in the first place.
unless of course you happen to have a nice big cache of spare habitable planets lying around? because if you do, then we can surely keep increasing the level of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere with abandon and simply move onto the next habitable planet. easy.
so, can you tell me where these other habitable planets are? because i’d sure like to have a few spares given the rate we’re ruining this one.
a simple rule that applies equally well to office relationships as to pollution and climate change is this: don’t defecate where you eat.
also, that paper you linked to mostly talks about bacteria in snow, in the upper 200mm of the surface of Antarctica. when it does talk about bacteria in ice cores it says that they “were reported to be metabolically active when warmed to 3 degrees”. this is also a quote from another paper which notes that “the presence of liquid water would be required for cellular metabolism”.
so, unless you’re suggesting that there is actually liquid water in deep ice cores, then the organisms aren’t producing or consuming anything, they’re frozen.
also, it is only relevant above Lake Vostok, a lake that exists under glacial ice in Antarctica. to quote another paper quoted in your linked paper “The ice above the lake has been cored to 3623 m, stopping ~120 m above the surface of the lake. The upper 3310 m is glacial ice that represents an environmental record covering four complete ice age climate cycles. Ice between 3310 and 3539 m is transitional between glacial and accretion ice; ice below 3539 m represents refrozen lake water accreted to the bottom of the glacial ice.”
none of which negates the use of ice cores in the study of ancient climates.
How many solar panels and wind turbines will we have been constructed within the U.S. in order to attain 20-30% energy capacity? Millions, over an area that is IMMENSE (anyone wish to quantify?).
Nevada solar one is 1.6 km2 and estimated to produce 134 GWh per year. US consumption is around 4 PWh per year. Total area required: 47761 km2. That is about a fifth the area of Nevada. For 100%. I’ll leave the judgement to you whether that qualifies as IMMENSE. Comparison: according to NASA, the total built-up area in the United States is 112.000 km2
How do you intend on getting to and from these locations to repair and install these units?
Wind turbines tend to be placed in groups, so-called ‘windfarms’ So when building the windfarm, you simply build the road to get there, if one isn’t there already.
Until transportation is running strictly on renewables/electric, wind and solar will be significantly flawed in the former regard.
Modern wind turbines require two inspection visits per year. This is simply a visit by a mechanic in a van. Suppose he’s living 50 km from the turbine and can inspect 1 turbine per day. That means 200 car-km per turbine per year. An average van emits around 200 g/km, so that comes in at a whopping 40 kg CO2 for ~10 million kWh. Or 4 mg per kWh. Add in a few repairs per year, with big parts having to be hauled in by truck, and the figure rises perhaps to 50 mg/kWh. Significantly flawed? I wouldn’t think so.
JB, Although I think you can do these easy calculations yourself, I was happy to do them for you.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 19 Jan 2009 @ 7:30 AM
1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).
Which of the above do you dispute?
None of them. But which one conclusively shows human produced CO2 increases global temperature?
Jesus, can’t you read? What do you think “CO2 is a greenhouse gas,” “there’s more of it,” and “it’s coming from us” mean if not that “human produced CO2 increases global temperature?”
Read the (peer reviewed) paper by Lowell Stott et al (Science 318 (5849)pp 435-438) who claim temperature increases precede increases in CO2 by about 1000 years. Which part of that paper do you dispute?
None, but it’s completely irrelevant, as the points I make above show. Temperature leads CO2 in a natural deglaciation. The solubility of CO2 in seawater lessens with warmth and the CO2 bubbles out of the ocean. That is NOT what’s happening now. We know (point 3 above, if you’d only read it) that the new fossil fuel is coming from burning fossil fuels, not from the ocean. And temperature is not now leading CO2, it’s the other way around.
There is no reason to assume that the points you make show CO2 increases temperature.
They only show that if you A) read them, and B) understand them, and C) are capable of making simple logical inferences.
I would not suggest trying to get any info about science from TV. It’s sad what passes for journalism on TV. Especially climate science because it is so controversial in many people’s eyes, and journalists love controversy — it sells. In addition, these journalists frequently mix news with editorial commentary, and then they’re not qualified to comment, so the result is often jibberish.
I think the best way to get the info is from books written by credible authors. Then the trick is to judge the credibility of the author, not always easy for a lay person This site is pretty good too.
Truth, you seem to conflate “skeptics” and advocacy for clean coal.
I myself am skeptical about “clean coal,” but it is possible to advocate the same without any AGW skepticism–for instance, those who are convinced that complete sequestration of the CO2 is feasible may also feel that doing so is vital.
IMO, the “planet vandals” are those who, through ignorance, emotional reactivity, greed or malice, impede rational debate and deny the science of AGW.
Seems I cut off my post (307). To be brief, Hansen’s recent recommendations that runaway greenhouse warming is a possibility on earth if we burn all the coal is at odds with a realclimate post that that wouldn’t happen (r
[Response: You need to use html for a less than symbol & l t ; – gavin]
OK, all. I screwed up and conflated cost and carbon-footprint. It’s the cost that is the problem with wind and solar, not the carbon footprint. But I guess in this era, nobody cares about that. “The government will cover that.” LOL.
jae, windmills cost considerably less than nukes for the same amount of power generated, and windmill electricity is already competitive, right now, with fossil fuel electricity. Recent plans for some nuclear plants have priced out at $7 billion for a 1 GW plants, which, in the industry, is a level known as “really, really, really high.”
Phillip Machanick [ 308]:
You must be joking. The record needs to be set straight on this.
The situation in Australia is exactly the opposite to your description
It’s those on your side of this issue who get all the favourable airplay in Australia.
It’s the AGW proponents who are able to give their opinions freely , and are treated with great deference—eg Tim Flannery, David Karoly, Ian Lowe, Graham Pearman, Clive Hamilton, Robyn Williams, John Quiggan, Don Henry, to name just a few who are all on your side, and all frequently put the AGW view in the knowledge that they will be given complete credibility—–and for heavens sake, the Minister, Peter Garrett and his party are in power because of your Federal Greens party’s preferences—and because Al Gore and Bono told the Australian people the other side [ the conservatives] were environmentally unacceptable—-so the government is therefore well and truly in your camp—and you have all the leverage.
The Labor party takes every chance it can get, enthusiastically assisted by the Australian media, to accuse members of the Opposition [ conservatives] of being closet sceptics—and any conservative politician who gives even a hint of a doubt about AGW is sneered at and ridiculed—you did a bit of that yourself in  re Barnaby, but an Opposition politician doesn’t have to go over the top as Barnaby sometimes does, to get the smears and jeers—just a wrong word or a question is all it takes.
In Australia, the majority of people bought the AGW view, and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth lock stock and barrel—-and a huge majority are in favour of the Emissions Trading Scheme—-even though, when polled, > 90% said they didn’t have a clue what it actually entailed.
JB (293), you write:
“How many solar panels and wind turbines will we have been constructed within the U.S. in order to attain 20-30% energy capacity? Millions, over an area that is IMMENSE (anyone wish to quantify?). ”
Marc Jacobson did. He compared several energy sources for transport needs on a variety of criteria (climate change, land use, air pollution, etc). He finds that wind energy has the smallest footprint, both in terms of climate change and land use, followed by solar. They can be used as energy source in either electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars, where the former has a better efficiency.
Very informative: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/revsolglobwarmairpol.htm
Short term trends in global temps are down.
Ref Barton 9:21
The question I have is this:
Looking at Hadcrut data, the temp, short term has changed to a down trend. The winter in the Northern Hemisphere has been quit brutal.
I recognize that this is all weather and not climate.
With the solar cycle off to a very slow start, the switching in the long term Pacific Ocean to a cooling trend, would one expect this cool trend to continue?
OK, all. I screwed up and conflated cost and carbon-footprint.
That left me thinking you’d actually learn from your mistakes. How foolish. Your next post will probably read something like:
“OK, all. I screwed up and conflated bird killings.”
Do us all a favour and check you preconceptions before posting them.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 19 Jan 2009 @ 10:59 AM
Ian (231), it was just a simple typo that should have read 386 ppm, the current level of atmospheric CO2. And your misunderstanding of the physics of the greenhouse mechanism and your gullibility in believing purveyors of pseudo-science is breathtaking for someone claiming to be a scientist.
And Anne (240), no, I meant well below, since the greenhouse properties of CO2 would have to cease operating well below 386 ppm for the assertion that fossil fuel-source CO2 has not been the major cause of the last 30 years of observed warming to be true.
Captcha observes: OCEAN firm, which is what Earth’s oceans would be if CO2 were not present in the atmosphere. Very firm indeed.
194 – That is a fair argument, but can also be made on many traded resources. The real issue with fossil fuels is infrastructure or lack thereof. We don’t have an infrastructure or technology in place to make any kind of switch over from fossil fuels.
If the large USA based motor companies such as GM and Ford were to make electric cars, we couldn’t support the needed electricity. The pricing of electricity would skyrocket due to increased demand. This would make the cost of heating homes too high for some people as 33% of Americans’ make under 15-20k a year. Companies would also seek to do business elsewhere due to higher cost of operating. Not to mention that you are going to end up burning more coal and likely pollute more from such a change.
The technology and infrastructure to stop the use of fossil fuel simply isn’t there. Any advances you make in America is only going to be countered by increased demand from technology and increased c02 emissions in other developing nations. In a nutshell, I believe that we are looking to upwards to a century before the world has switched over from fossil fuels. C02 emissions are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
161 Jim – There is a big difference between theory and hypothesis. There is more of the latter then the former. I don’t know how I can explain it any other way to get that across. The simulations can only be as solid as the understanding and some of that is still in it’s infancy. I’ll give you another question just as important as the first one, to perhaps better illustrate this:
How much C02 is needed in the atmosphere to keep mankind prosperous?
It’s a slippery slope any way you want to look at it. The question brings us back to the point, science is calling for changes thats not fully understood.
Gavin – I know you want a forum man. Just think of all the things you could select as your aviator. =P
Bart, 321: What you guys have to try to understand is that you STILL have to have the traditional power plants for peak power backup. For when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining (often when it is the coldest and much power is needed). And WRT windmills, what are you enviros going to do about all the dead birds that you worked so hard to save from humanity?
Truth, Australia looks to be the first industrialized nation to be seriously affected by AGW. It’s no wonder people there accept it as a reality, especially people who live in the Murray-Darling basin.
Ian (247), an increase in atmospheric CO2, regardless of source–human or natural, will raise temperature. This is simply not disputable. It was demonstrated in laboratory experiment as early as 1859 and can be demonstrated today in any high school science lab.
You’ve fallen for the “CO2 lags temperature” meme by assuming that it “proves” that CO2 can not be a climate forcing.
If you are a trained scientist then it should be easy for you to see the logical fallacy of that meme: CO2 can act as both a climate feedbackand as a climate forcing, depending on the circumstances.
What the lag of CO2 during a deglaciation in the ice cores demonstrates is that CO2 was not the initial forcing, but rather an amplifying feedback to the initial forcing, namely rising insolation caused by the Milankovic cycles. So were rising methane levels and falling albedo. As CO2 rose it then added still more warming, amplifying the initial change in insolation. This is easy to demonstrate by calculating the change in insolation, which can be shown not to be enough alone to completely end a glacial staid.
But today there is no change in solar insolation, and no consequent solar warming of the ocean or other natural source of enough CO2 to cause the observed increase. But there is a man-made source more than large enough to account for the increase, and it has left a distinctive carbon isotope signature in the atmosphere. This time fossil carbon-based CO2 is being emitted directly into the atmosphere at a rate that outstrips the ability of natural carbon sinks to absorb it. As a result, it’s concentration has risen by nearly 38% and continues to rise.
Bypassing the natural feedback stage means that this time CO2 is acting as a direct forcing, something that rarely happens naturally, although it has happened in the deep past. See Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), or Permian–Triassic Extinction Event, for example.
Rather than read pseudoscince I suggest that you bring yourself up to speed with the real history of climate science and the physics of the greenhouse-effect. Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming is an excellent starting point and is available for free here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html
Sig (289), in 1944 the St. Roch was unable to transit through the McClure Strait to the Beaufort sea due to pack ice. RCMP Corporal Henry Larsen instead had to travel down the narrow channel between Banks Island and Victoria Island to reach the southern route through the Amundsen Gulf. In 2007, and again in 2008, the McClure Strait was open.
“Can you explain why Stott’s paper in Science claiming CO2 increases follow temperature rather than vice versa, is incorrect? This seems a crucial difference from the popular belief that temperature follows CO2. This link should (I hope) take you to a precis of Stott’s work. http://college.usc.edu/news/september_2007/stott.html”
Ah, much better, Ian, thank you. I do much better with specifics.
First of all, let me draw your attention to this quote:
“However, the study does not question the fact that CO2 plays a key role in climate.
‘I don’t want anyone to leave thinking that this is evidence that CO2 doesn’t affect climate,’ Stott cautioned. ‘It does, but the important point is that CO2 is not the beginning and end of climate change.’”
I take that last part to mean that CO2 isn’t the only factor in climate change, and that’s quite true, it isn’t. We know that already – there are a number of greenhouse gases, feedbacks both positive and negative, and external forcings. It probably IS a popular belief that temperature follows CO2 – that’s a simplification, and much easier for a layman to get his or her head around. And, it isn’t untrue – just incomplete.
Stott’s paper – and I hope it’s ok to summarize this way – points out that when the Antarctic started to warm about 19,000 years ago, the melting ice created a feedback, much the same way we’re seeing in the Arctic in recent times. The melting ice exposed more seawater, which absorbs more energy, which accelerated the warming and melting.
Another quote: “In addition, the authors’ model showed how changed ocean conditions may have been responsible for the release of CO2 from the ocean into the atmosphere, which like the albedo feedbacks, also accelerated the warming.” The emphasis is mine.
Now I don’t know exactly how the change in the oceans released CO2, but oceans can sequester it, so I will assume they can release it as well. You’re the marine biologist, so you’ll no doubt understand that part better than I will.
The crucial point here is that Stott isn’t saying that rising CO2 doesn’t cause rising temperatures, only that in this case, something else started the rising temperature first, and then CO2 got into the mix and accelerated the warming. Indeed, to accept what he’s saying in its entirety (and I see no reason not to) you have to also accept that CO2 does indeed cause a rise in temperature.
Not everyone who is anti-science works for an oil or coal company, in fact most don’t.
A catalog of reasons for being anti-science in this subejct is here.
But, if you think you’re not anti-science, you might try reading how to learn.
Apologies if this is too off topic but these giant response threads make ‘conversation/argument’ very difficult. The method of replying to someone eg RE:#279 said……makes it ridiuclously cumbersome.
Are there any plans to move the forum style to cascade response so people can reply to each others sub-thread?
Moderator, please remove this comment if inappropriate, but I would very much appreciate a reply my e-mail off list as I feel a new forum stlye would make it very much easier to have logical argument. even make it more accessable and readable to people looking in for the first time.
Oil companies hire excellent scientists, and that is a big reason why they are starting to change their tune. I have a recent ExxonMobil newsletter in which they champion how much CO2 mitigation they can attribute to their recent battery (could facilitate the transition to electric cars) and tire (lighter tires and more reliable pressure retention) inventions. The CEO of ExxonMobil recently endorsed carbon taxation as the best means of mitigating CO2. Both inventions look very promising.
Jim Eager – thank you, you’re helping out with the CO2 explanation. :) I think Ian really does want to learn, but got some bad information to begin with.
Hey, I used to be a skeptic myself, long years ago, and decided that I couldn’t form an opinion on the matter until I knew both sides of the story. So, I started reading. At first, because of other things the media has messed up in reporting, I figured that global warming was just another fashionable disaster, like cholesterol in eggs or the latest diet craze.
Indeed, the “it’s all blown out of proportion” line did seem to be plausible. After all, we’re a very resourceful species, so we oughta be able to find solutions, right? And I kept reading. And reading. And there was lots of science to back up the global warming theories. The other camp seemed to come up with some good arguments, but when you look at them closely, they have holes. When all the arguments and counter-arguments are played out, they always come down on the side of the climate change science.
I didn’t want to believe it. It just seemed too horrible, you know? The more I read, the more horrified I became. Terrified. Maybe I’m weird this way, but I don’t find it all that outlandish to think about the consequences 100 years or 200 years or 500 years from now. I won’t live to see the worst of it, but my grandchildren and their grandchildren will.
So anyone I can convince … is worth it. For every person we educate instead of ridicule, is a grain of sand on the side of sanity instead of disaster. It’s worth the effort.
So come, Ian, sit with us and learn. I’ll be patient. Ask your questions and I will answer, or I’ll find someone who will.
Er, so far, no, no clear difference. The same pseudonym shows up often, e.g. one at CA, one at Deltoid, and several others, all seeming to state exactly the same political point of view, lots of spin. Are you different?
Sig (299) — You ought to give your reference, because I believe you misunderstood the point. The global temperature change from LGM to HCO was about 5–6 K and mostly occurred over 5000–6000 years; about 0.1 K per century.
As a farmer, you should be quite concerned about the effects of AGW. And by the way, AGW is about as well established as anything in all of science.
Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Jan 2009 @ 2:12 PM
Barton Paul Levenson Says (19 January 2009 at 9:20 AM):
“jae, windmills cost considerably less than nukes for the same amount of power generated, and windmill electricity is already competitive, right now, with fossil fuel electricity.”
Perhaps true (I’ve never studied the cost of windmill construction), but you’re neglecting the additional cost of the storage infrastructure that would need to be built in order to provide 24/7/365 reliablity. You’re also doing a bit of cherry-picking by taking the highest estimate you can find for the cost of one nuclear plant. It seems reasonable to assume that if a number of plants were to be built to a standard design, the per-unit cost would decrease. France does this: what did the newest French reactor cost?
I’d also suggest looking beyond the cost of individual pieces, and think about how to build a CO2-free power system. You might come to the conclusion that including some more-expensive parts reduces the total cost, and gets the system in place sooner.
Jae (343), I note that your reference, a news report dating from 2005, discusses one of the early wind farms that used open grid structural steel towers with relatively short but rapidly turning blades, rather than the current designs that use enclosed pylons and longer, slower blades. One reason that open grid steel towers resulted in a serious number of bird kills is that their open grid structure made excellent nest sites and inviting perch sites for raptors, the short whirling blades, not so much. Fortunately that type of structure is no longer used for new construction. Care to cite something a bit more relevant to the impact of current and future wind farms on avian species?
Oh, and as for your belief that carbon taxes would result in “screwing up capitalism”, they would simply internalize the heretofore external, and thus not accounted for cost of dumping the effluent from burning fossil fuels into the atmospheric commons, thereby screwing up the atmosphere and climate. Carbon taxes would place those costs squarely on those doing the burning, and financially encourage a reduction in their burning. Bad for fossil fuel producers, perhaps, good for just about everyone else. But at least you clearly demonstrated that your objections are based on political and ideological grounds and not on science.
James wrote in #262: “And how much land would need to be ravaged to build enough of these [concentrating solar thermal power with thermal storage] plants to supply an appreciable fraction of electric consumption? Far more than is strip-mined for coal.”
A study by Ausra, a solar energy company based in California, indicates that over 90 percent of fossil fuel–generated electricity in the United States and the majority of U.S. oil usage for transportation could be eliminated using solar thermal power plants — and for less than it would cost to continue importing oil. The land requirement for the CSP plants would be roughly 15,000 square miles (38,850 square kilometers, the equivalent of 15 percent of the land area of Nevada). While this may sound like a large tract, CSP plants use less land per equivalent electrical output than large hydroelectric dams when flooded land is included, or than coal plants when factoring in land used for coal mining. Another study, published in Scientific American in January 2008, proposes using CSP and PV plants to produce 69 percent of U.S. electricity and 35 percent of total U.S. energy, including transportation, by 2050.
James wrote in #262: “No, nuclear is desirable, since it can produce baseload power more effectively, and with less environmental impact, than those other sources.”
Wrong again. I refer you to a recent study by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, who conducted “the first quantitative, scientific evaluation of the proposed, major, energy-related solutions by assessing not only their potential for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles, but also their impacts on global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability.” Jacobson examined the benefits and impacts of solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage technology, and concluded:
In summary, the use of wind, CSP, geothermal, tidal, solar, wave, and hydroelectric to provide electricity … result in the most benefit and least impact among the options considered. Coal-CCS and nuclear provide less benefit with greater negative impacts … Because sufficient clean natural resources (e.g., wind, sunlight, hot water, ocean energy, gravitational energy) exists to power all energy for the world, the results here suggest that the diversion of attention to the less efficient or non-efficient options represents an opportunity cost that delays solutions to climate and air pollution health problems.
With regard to the question of baseload power and the intermittency of wind and solar, Jacobson found:
The intermittency of wind, solar, and wave power can be reduced in several ways: (1) interconnecting geographically-disperse intermittent sources through the transmission system, (2) combining different intermittent sources (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, and wave) to smooth out loads, using hydro to provide peaking and load balancing, (3) using smart meters to provide electric power to electric vehicles at optimal times, (4) storing wind energy in hydrogen, batteries, pumped hydroelectric power, compressed air, or a thermal storage medium, and (5) forecasting weather to improve grid planning.
Wind power … can be groomed to become a steady, dependable source of electricity and delivered at a lower cost than at present [by] connecting wind farms throughout a given geographic area with transmission lines, thus combining the electric outputs of the farms into one powerful energy source … interconnecting wind farms with a transmission grid reduces the power swings caused by wind variability and makes a significant portion of it just as consistent a power source as a coal power plant … if interconnected wind is used on a large scale, a third or more of its energy can be used for reliable electric power, and the remaining intermittent portion can be used for transportation, allowing wind to solve energy, climate and air pollution problems simultaneously.
The USA has vast commercially-exploitable solar and wind energy resources that are sufficient to produce several times as much electricity as the entire country uses. Indeed, a study by the Institute For Local Self-Reliance found that “at least half of the fifty states could meet all their internal energy needs from renewable energy generated inside their borders, and the vast majority could meet a significant percentage … At least twenty-one could satisfy 100 percent of their electricity needs from in-state renewable energy. At least seventeen could satisfy 50 percent of their gasoline demand with domestic biofuels. If electricity becomes a major transportation fuel, twenty-seven states could meet their entire demand for automobile fuel with renewable biofuel. This report’s estimates may be considered very conservative, since it does not consider non-rooftop solar or offshore wind.”
So even without including two major sources of energy — concentrating solar thermal power plants and offshore wind, either of which could alone generate most of the electricity used in the USA — the ILSR study find that most US states can be energy self-sufficient from renewables alone.
The simple facts are that there is no need to build more nuclear power plants, because we can more than meet our needs by harvesting abundant, ubiquitous, limitless, FREE wind and solar energy; and that expanding nuclear electricity generation is not a particularly effective way to address global warming, and to the extent that it imposes “opportunity costs” by diverting resources and investment from better solutions, it actually detracts from that effort. Thus there is no need to deal with the very real hazards and harms of nuclear power.
EL wrote: “We don’t have an infrastructure or technology in place to make any kind of switch over from fossil fuels.”
At one time, we didn’t have a fossil fuel infrastructure either. But we built one. At one time we didn’t have an Internet either. But we built it.
When people like myself advocate building a renewable energy infrastructure — e.g. wind turbine farms, concentrating solar thermal power plants, distributed photovoltaics, centralized and distributed energy storage, all interconnected by a smart grid — do you think that we don’t know that this infrastructure doesn’t already exist? What exactly is your point?
If you are suggesting that we lack the technology or the ability to create such an infrastructure quickly enough to reduce CO2 emissions as much and as rapidly as we need to do, you are just wrong. Present-day wind and solar technology can do the job, and the investment required is manageable and will to a large extent pay for itself over time by permanently eliminating the cost of fuel. And some of that investment is needed anyway — we need serious investments and upgrades to the nation’s electrical grid just to handle existing supply and demand efficiently and robustly, let alone to incorporate new generating capacity whether it is wind, solar, nuclear or whatever.
EL wrote: “If the large USA based motor companies such as GM and Ford were to make electric cars, we couldn’t support the needed electricity.”
Multiple studies have found that statement to be wrong. For example, a 2006 study by the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that “if all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles … ‘off-peak’ electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country’s 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.”
Do you ever do any research into these questions before commenting? Or do you prefer to shoot from the hip with ill-informed, baseless opinions and hope that no one will notice?
Steve Reynolds (351) — Even highly conservative IPCC put it higher than that. Notice I said “about” and also note that Newton’s Laws have been superseded for some time now.
Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Jan 2009 @ 4:36 PM
Philip M. (308), I don’t think it is a conspiracy theory: it’s all right out there in plain view. If you check through RC, e.g., you’ll find plenty of AGWers stating that silencing skeptics is a very good thing; and virtually none going the other way (though I have no knowledge of what might be said on other blogs.) For my part I was referring to the blogosphere, not the media – which does not want to silence anyone. I find your description of the Aussie political environment surprising. Why is it that way?
[Response: Again, show me one post or inline comment by any of the principles here that support such a notion. Arguing is fine, but don’t make stuff up. – gavin]
Alan (311), 125KW per person for residential use sounds way out of whack. I assume you mean KWhr, which is still out of whack. Or are you dividing the total electric energy generation for anya use by the population figure?
can someone who thinks that bird deaths are a great reason to remove wind turbins please tell me how they would approach the knowledge that skyscrapers in Austin cause far more deaths.
Would you level the city to save the little burdies?
Well, you’re forgetting, perhaps, that early installations like Altamont Pass were killing raptors, which are much less numerous than most species killed by buildings in cities. You’re also perhaps misunderstanding that conservationists worried about raptor kills have not been anti-wind power, though wind power interests have traditionally tried to stick that label to them, as well as trivialize their concerns as you have in your post.
Conservationists have successfully applied pressure, in part through the courts, to force impacts on birds to be part of the siting process, and for monitoring to be part of site operations plans.
Nothing wrong with that. The end result is that we’ve all learned that derrick-style pylons are a no-no, that larger turbines kill fewer birds, that typically minor changes to siting plans can lead to fewer birds being killed, etc.
Any particular reason to oppose such things that you can think of?
Barton Paul Levenson #318 posts
“No, it is not. If you actually do the matrix math that explains the Milankovic cycles, you find that we passed the peak of the interglacial 6,000 years ago and should now be COOLING.”
Perhaps we are (see above article)
Jim Galasyn # 330. The major problem with the Murray-Darling is not climate change but rapacious farmers in Queensland and New South Wales being granted and taking unsustainable amounts of water for irrigation of crops such as cotton
Chuckle. EL may just be a high school kid desperate for homework help, you know, using the old reliable method that’s so much easier than research:
“The way to get good information on Usenet is to post what you know, and await correction.”
Time will tell.
A study by Ausra, a solar energy company based in California, indicates that over 90 percent of fossil fuel–generated electricity in the United States and the majority of U.S. oil usage for transportation could be eliminated using solar thermal power plants — and for less than it would cost to continue importing oil. The land requirement for the CSP plants would be roughly 15,000 square miles (38,850 square kilometers, the equivalent of 15 percent of the land area of Nevada).”
Yes. Thank you for finding that figure: it’s in line with others I’ve seen, and my own back-of-the-envelope calculations. So you’re talking here about the complete & permanent environmental destruction of 15,000 square miles (60% of the land area of West Virginia, for comparison) of land as preferrable to the (largely imagined) dangers of nuclear power.
We discuss accounting for the external costs of fossil fuel plants, so where are the external costs of this?
“While this may sound like a large tract, CSP plants use less land per equivalent electrical output than large hydroelectric dams when flooded land is included, or than coal plants when factoring in land used for coal mining.”
The flooded land behind a hydroelectric dam becomes a lake – a different ecosystem, but still an ecosystem. Land that’s been strip-mined can be reclaimed when the mining’s done, and in time come to support forest or grassland. The land that you build your concentrating solar thermal plants on will be dead, and will stay dead for as long as those plants block the sunlight.
“The simple facts are that there is no need to build more nuclear power plants, because we can more than meet our needs by harvesting abundant, ubiquitous, limitless, FREE wind and solar energy…”
Well, that’s just plain wrong, and IMHO a classic example of the hyperbole I’ve come to expect from the “renewables can do everything” camp. Is solar energy limitless? No, it’s strictly limited: about 1 KW/m^2 in orbit, minus atmospheric losses, day/night cycles, base collector efficiency (which gets reduced by e.g. dust collecting on solar panels – see “Mars Rover”), and so on. Is it free? Again, no: I doubt you’ll find PV panels for much less than $3/watt: http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/solar_panels.htm If that’s free, I can with equal logic argue that nuclear power’s free, because all you have to do is dig up the uranium :-)
“James, 348, you’re forgetting the inefficiencies of baseload where the load doesn’t match requirements and there is too much electricity production.
Do you cool your steam turbine down, losing all that stored energy?”
Mark, steam turbines don’t work the way you seem to think. There’s no appreciable storage of energy in steam, whether it’s in a reactor or coal-fired plant. There’s a time lag in changing power output (I’ll refer you to the appropriate kind of engineer for details), but there’s not a great change in efficiency. You can, within limits, throttle the power level to meet demand.
Of course that’s the simple first-order explanation. In real life, every power plant has efficiency & response curves, and there are other factors such as the amount of power that any particular line can handle. Part of what system control operators do is to balance the outputs of all the different generators in the system, so as to produce the cheapest power while staying within system operating constraints. Those constraints, BTW, are by no means as simple as you might imagine. There’s a lot of engineering, and some fairly complex computer software (some of which I used to support) that goes into making the light come on when you flip a switch.
“If you are suggesting that we lack the technology or the ability to create such an infrastructure quickly enough to reduce CO2 emissions as much and as rapidly as we need to do, you are just wrong. “
That is exactly what I’m suggesting. I’ll be more then happy to be proved wrong, but I don’t think I will.
“Multiple studies have found that statement to be wrong “ (power grid)
Multiple people who make the power grids work say their nearing their limit.
“The report was based on information from 50 utilities, power generators and other electric system participants. It quotes Kenneth W. Farmer, executive director of the Beauregard Electric Cooperative, of DeRidder, La., saying, “It appears that greenhouse gas issues and electric utility reliability are on a collision course.” “
Those reports you link do some seasonal cherry picking. It’s also a contradiction with reports that the nations power grid is nearing its limit. I think it’s well to remember that our nations power grid was mostly built in the 60’s and 70’s and is in need of a major upgrade.
Turns out polarization of reflected light from smooth surfaces is part of the problem. And it’s one reason birds and insects are confused not just by glass but by smooth pavement.
This may suggest one good way to get birds away from airports — if they look like open water from a distance to birds, no wonder we have problems!
A surface treatment that changes this is likely doable, maybe even could be painted or abraded on at large scale. And it’s certainly a good thing to consider before rolling out large areas of solar panels!
The Department of Energy projects that US electricity sales will rise between 18 percent (with low growth) to 39 percent (with high growth) from 2006 to 2030, even with current efficiency efforts. Much of the growth will come from the commercial sector. Residential use will also grow, as the population shifts to warmer regions needing air-conditioning.
The DOE anticipates the need for 263 gigawatts of new generating capacity by 2030 to meet rising demand and offset the loss of existing generation through retirement; 263 gigawatts equal about a quarter of what America generates now.
Today’s transmission grid can’t meet tomorrow’s needs. Obviously, we must build more capacity.
The U.S. electrical grid—the system that carries electricity from producers to consumers—is in dire straits. Electricity generation and consumption have steadily risen, placing an increased burden on a transmission system that was not designed to carry such a large load. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers,
Ian Lee, you’ll be more likely to retain whatever science cred you have left if you quit citing sources such as Pravda and the (anti-science) Australian as “proof” that the work of hard-working climate sciences and thousands of published papers are wrong.
Bob Carter is a known dishonest climate science denialist, who among other things has lied about his credentials in an effort to puff his credibility.
You show no sign whatsoever of having explored climate science. It’s apparent that your “education” has come from science denialists.
Is this how you recommend people learn about biochemistry? Read Rev. Moon’s Washington Times rather than the scientific literature, perhaps?
Ian says, “The major problem with the Murray-Darling is not climate change but rapacious farmers in Queensland and New South Wales being granted and taking unsustainable amounts of water for irrigation of crops such as cotton.”
The Australian government begs to differ:
THE head of the Federal Government’s Murray-Darling Basin management agency says the crisis in the nation’s key river system has the “fingerprints all over it” of climate change, further isolating Brendan Nelson.
Murray-Darling Basin Commission chief executive Wendy Craik said scientific evidence showed that climate change was playing out in the drought gripping the lower basin.
Boston Globe, January 14, 2009
Ahead of the hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, Steven Groves from the Heritage Foundation … wrote that the U.S. government should not agree to being bound by international treaties, such as on global warming…. While the Heritage Foundation does not disclose its corporate funders, ExxonMobil voluntary disclosed in its most recent report that it donated $40,000 to the think tank in 2007.
Gavin (358), I dunno; if I searched long and hard I might find one or two statements from the principals. But I know and agree that it is not likely. But there is a whole pile of AGWers posting on RC that are not principals — that’s whom I was referring.
Anne Van Der Bom:
“Modern wind turbines require two inspection visits per year. This is simply a visit by a mechanic in a van. Suppose he’s living 50 km from the turbine and can inspect 1 turbine per day. That means 200 car-km per turbine per year. An average van emits around 200 g/km, so that comes in at a whopping 40 kg CO2 for ~10 million kWh. Or 4 mg per kWh. Add in a few repairs per year, with big parts having to be hauled in by truck, and the figure rises perhaps to 50 mg/kWh. Significantly flawed? I wouldn’t think so.”
I would first like to start off by thanking you for the quick arithmetic you provided. Although, by posting that information, I assume you did not sense my sarcasm. What you computed was plausible however, what I wanted was a hypothetical estimate of the carbon emissions emitted in order to maintain the functionality of all existing turbines within the U.S. subsequent to the completion of all conceivable wind projects that are needed to attain 20-30% energy capacity–something that requires esoteric knowledge and tedious computations. Because of our inability to pry into our major politician’s brains, much of this would be purely hypothetical, not because we do not know the quantity of turbines needed for such a feat, but rather instead the majority of their locations and orientations remain largely unknown at this juncture. Aside from this, I did have one rebuttal with your methodology: you omitted one crucial bit of information–each wind turbine is positioned 1000 ft or ~305m apart from one another. Hence, every 5 turbines ~ 1 mile. Most large scale wind farms contain about 350 turbines. Therefore, the combined distance alone, from the first to the last turbine would be 70 miles or ~113km. This does not even consider the distance to get to the wind farm itself.
This of course is just ONE wind farm. Within the next decade, pending the disposition of MR. President Obama, we may very well see 10 or more such farms being erected, while many more are constructed along the coastlines. There will be much more CO2 emitted due to transportation alone than your arithmetic suggests.
“…it?s one reason birds and insects are confused not just by glass… it?s certainly a good thing to consider before rolling out large areas of solar panels!”
Ah, yes. Another factor to degrade the efficiency of solar power. Especially if you site them in Nevada. You might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of migratory birds passing through in the spring & fall. See for instance http://www.fws.gov/stillwater/stillwater.html
Ian Lee, have you searched for news stories about the area of science you specialize in? How accurate have they been? Has there been any economic or political reason for anyone to do PR work in your area of expertise?
I am not using a pseudonym. My email and the name I use here is a shortened version of my first and last name. I will give a hint, my first name was recently the most popular name given to males in the US. Mack is my last name. You can find my contributions on Alzforum.org as well. Regarding the Biology questions, we have already moved past this. Those topics are not difficult, what I am questioning is your lack of searching for credible data, multiple data sets, and how you are ignoring the majority of peer reviewed papers in climate science. I am not famous nor am I claiming papers either. I am saying that if this author is you,and it very well could be, how is it you are so thorough in your methods of acquiring knowledge there and are lacking in looking at real data in climate science? There is a learning curve, yes but you are neglecting real data and you are certainly cherry picking, something we would our students not to do. Then again other than throwing around some terminology on molecular biology and claimed a paper, you have not convinced me that you have the background you say you do exactly, but this is irrelevant to the current thread or our discussion Ian. I could just pose a problem or two from biochemistry since that would remove all doubt, problems you cannot find online, but this is not conducive to the learning you are seeking on climate science.
Simply: read the IPCC report, and all the publications you can find online from the moderators here at RC, look at the charts and data from NASA GISS, NOAA, Princeton AOS, and while you are at it, read the RC wiki, start here and so forth. My doubts of your background specifically are focused on the chemistry; the chemistry, real chemistry eloquently explains a lot about AGW processes in addition to the pure physics. Did you take Physical Chemistry or just biochemistry? At any rate, read and learn before posing questions that are already better answered in other RC threads and publications of the highest caliber.
For further information and my full name if you cannot guess it still Ian, visit my blog, climateoverdrive.org, though RC is the best blog on climate science because these moderators are climate scientists.Still I offer my own threads and many links which answer all your questions and there you can see my own background unabridged if you would like where it is more appropriate, not wasting space in this blog where climate science should the primary focus:)I look forward to your reply in my blog:)
This may suggest one good way to get birds away from airports — if they look like open water from a distance to birds, no wonder we have problems!
Actually, they look like large grassy areas full of food. They look the same to coyotes (PDX – my home airport – has surrounded the perimeter with supposedly coyote-proof fence but the coyotes dug deeper more than once). PDX problems grow in winter, as a lot of birds migrate into the PNW. Particularly problematic are the large number of juvenile raptors, particularly red-tails, that move in to hunt. Think about it … predators are controlled, all those little vole-ly and other luscious mammal things become numerous. The red-tails are trapped and relocated, though quite frequently they find their way back after a few day. Last I heard (about five years ago) there were four resident pairs allowed to stay year-rounds – they’re territorial, chase off the wintering kids, and stay away from the runways.
Bird species attracted to open water aren’t the problem. Well, in florida, where there’s water everywhere, you’ll see egrets in large numbers hanging out at miami international … but they’re not being fooled by the pavement :)
The canada geese that struct the US Airways flight wasn’t an airport strike, they were flying in “V” formation at 3200 feet miles from the airport …
I can’t debate the man’s research with you, dhog, just pointing to it.
Curious how sure you are that the runways look like grassy areas full of food to birds, pointer welcome if there’s a source. Can coyotes see polarized light? Makes sense that animals that do orient to it are puzzled by the perpendicular surfaces on buildings downtown, whatever it resembles. I suppose photography with polarizing filters is one way to compare surfaces, natural and artificial. Lots of reflection from grasses too, plus color cues. But we digress
James, anything that _reduces_ how much is reflected from solar panels is likely to _increase_ the efficiency, not hurt it, I think. Yes, I know the flyway maps.
“The total area involved worldwide in open pit mining is difficult to determine. In the US only, the disturbed area in 1965 was 12,500,00 hectares (U.S. Dept of the Interior, 1971);” Dov Nir, Man, a Geomorphological Agent, ISBN 9789027714015
it’s also the source for 41% being coal (followed by “sand & gravel” at 26%)
If the very heavy container of steam (the engine with the turbines in it) is at room temp, it will cool the steam by its interception of that energy to heat itself rather than by expansion. Thereby reducing the energy that is usefully extracted.
If this continues, the container is then warm and less energy is taken before it can to mechanical work.
These are big, heavy things.
What is the total heat capacity of such a behemoth?
(note also, this is more detailed than your question about losses from windfarm energy sequestration that prompted me to ask this one that you then responded to).
Re #359, the figures were given by a reference by BP in thier reference in 2004 at 120 KWH per day per person. The website is http://www.withouthotair.com and he is a physics guy at Cambridge University who has released at book (in 2008 Europe and 2009 USA on the subject matter of energy in the UK). It is also available online for free and is a compulsive read.
Rod B (358): things are the way they are because Australia and particularly Queensland has a residual tendency towards a police state culture. I know recognize this for what it is, is having lived through something similar but more extreme in South Africa. The snarky comments sometimes seen here are nothing compared with threats to careers that I have heard cited as reasons not to get into Green politics — or even advising Green politicians — here. It’s the new McCarthyism.
If you want comments going the “other way” try looking up what Bob Carter says. He cannot comment on the science without heavily larding his commentary with ad hominem attack. His supporters are “rationalists”; the other side is “alarmist”. And that’s when he’s trying to be polite. Also try looking up Andrew Bolt. He seems to attract just about everyone who has something obnoxious to say about science.
Then mosey back over here, and marvel at the calmly polite attitude you find here by comparison.
James! You seem to think that we are talking about total replacement of carbon-energy with renewable sources; we’re not. We are talking about supplying some energy for critical uses to cover our very exposed rear ends when the fossil-fuel / carbon emission wheel falls right off. At that point we will be grateful for every electron volt we can get – however irregular. And if that generation system is not powered ‘renewably’ it wont be powered at all. Nuclear is not renewable – not the build, the extraction or the disposal or disestablishment. Even I it can be made right it just won’t fly in time.
And windmill BIRD KILLS for goodness sake!! More likely we will have eaten them (or they us) before that becomes an issue.
Maybe you could take a pause and think about what our world is going to be like under the triple blows of peak oil (with no viable global replacement) climate change (with no return below 385ppm for centuries) and sea levels moving inexorably to +80 metres over the next millennia.
We need the energy we have burned over the last two centuries to build our future homes and food production areas above the eventual high water mark and to adapt agriculture and civilisation to the impending ravages of climate change. But ooops! We’ve spent that energy on the Great Experiment called the Industrial Revolution, and we have no viable fix to make good the shortfall.
In post # 173, I asked for opinions that I hoped would be more expert than mine on matters pertaining to nuclear energy and CCS coal. I appreciated that my post was somewhat OT but was, nevertheless, stimulated by other, similar OT posts. I was disappointed to receive no responses, particularly from Secular Animist whom I was primarily addressing. Since he’s popped up again, it occurred to me that he might have been away and missed my post. Should such be the case, perhaps he would be kind enough to refer back to #173 and comment? The gist of my concern was that the all renewable response to decarbonisation that Secular Animist advocates for the USA, while theoretically achievable, is almost certainly not possible for Europe without renewable energy imports.
The reference I provided also addresses the question of intermittency of power production. It can be dealt with by combining many power producing (and consuming) units in smart grids (no easy task, but it’s not impossible, see eg “Supplying baseload power and and reducing transmission requirements by interconnecting wind farms” (http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/). Jacobson suggests hydropower as an excellent load balancer. The issue of birds being affected by windturbines was already addressed by Anne vd Bom (326).
It tells the story of renewables against usage and paints the picture of the future if we all want to continue living the energy lives we do. Looks like we need all available sources of non fossil fuels if this is the case including nuclear. We could always ditch the energy lifestyle or change it in some way, efficiency gains and the like as well as using stuff less. The issue is though that whilst fossil fuels make making things cost effective its unlikely to stop.
EL, I’m somewhat confused by your logic. Your linked stories say that renewables–well, *some* renewables, specifically large wind and solar farms–are problematic because the grid is outdated and nearing the point of systematic failure. But then you tell us that the DOE projects increased future demand *regardless* of the sources–something like 30%, in fact.
So it seems to me that either way, the grid needs expensive fixing.
And it seems from your stories that a major portion of the problem is political & legal–that the grid really is not set up to be nationally effective. I’d opine that political will can coalesce rapidly in the face of clear need.
What’s wrong with the electric grid? – The Industrial Physicist
Aug 14, 2003 … A guide to the mixture of physics, engineering, economics, and politics that attempts to keep the power flowing. Separating electric power …
Curious how sure you are that the runways look like grassy areas full of food to birds, pointer welcome if there’s a source
You need to fly more :)
It’s the grassy areas full of food that surround runways that look like grassy areas full of food. Most birds on airports never wander across the runway. Those that do are just foraging and wander into the path of planes, which move a lot more quickly than anything they’re used to and which are actually very quiet if they’re approaching you.
Ever notice how birds seem to do quite well with the streets in the city?
Now there are interesting and bizarre instances of flocks of tired migrating birds landing on streets where it’s been thought the mirage effect probably fooled them into thinking it was water. Those involving loons are particularly bizarre because they can’t take off from land …
I do not understand what point you are making. I think I showed that CO2 emissions for maintenance of a wind turbine is negligable. Whether that is 1 turbine or 10.000, the impact is the same (in relative terms): mg’s of CO2 per kWh.
Aside from this, I did have one rebuttal with your methodology: you omitted one crucial bit of information–each wind turbine is positioned 1000 ft or ~305m apart from one another. Hence, every 5 turbines ~ 1 mile. Most large scale wind farms contain about 350 turbines. Therefore, the combined distance alone, from the first to the last turbine would be 70 miles or ~113km. This does not even consider the distance to get to the wind farm itself.
You might want to check your rebuttal. The 113 km is for servicing 350 turbines, not 1, so adds about 300 m per turbine.
Even if the mechanic has to drive 50 + 113 km per turbine, then the CO2 emissions are still expressed in mg per kWh.
I really don’t see your problem. Give it up, there is none. Maintenance of wind turbines causes negligable CO2 emissions.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 20 Jan 2009 @ 10:52 AM
392 – There is no contradiction in logic. The DOE isn’t implying that the power grid has the capacity to meet that demand, to the contrary. That projection shows how much energy people will want from the system, not what the system can support. Which is the entire problem, we are already at the limits and demand is expected to increase by 30%. The power grid doesn’t have the ability to meet that demand.
Understand you cannot go over the limit on a power grid. The whole thing will shut down with a cascading effect if you do.
Political and legalities are a part of the problem. But the largest problem is its obsolete. Some of the older parts of the grid are a half century old. It was never designed to do all the things that we are expecting it to be able to do.
The whole power grid infrastructure is going to need to be redesigned and upgraded. That’s going to be an expensive and time consuming task.
Alan (386, et al), well, I didn’t do a scientific calculation; it just seems that if the figure is for residential use and the average residence has 3 persons, that’s 15,000 watts burning in the residence 24 hours per day. In the Texas hill country (PECo-op) the average is 2,200 watts burning 24 hours per day: 15KW seems screwy and way out of line — formal study or not. If the production counted is all electricity that would mean — to match my residential average — roughly 85% of all electricity is for commercial/business/manufacturing. Still sounds way high, but maybe possible?
Be careful with professor MacKay. His book was covered on ‘The Register’ some time ago, so I am already familiar with his line of reasoning.
What he does is making all forms of energy equal, trying to sell the message that we need 1700 kWh of electricity to replace each barrel of oil. Complete bunkum of course, but nonetheless, his message seems to be very popular in certain circles (like the site I mentioned above).
Let me highlight just one of his tricks. If I remember correctly, one of his claims was we need to cover the whole of Wales in wind turbines to power half our cars. How did he arrive at that figure?
1. Assume a moderately affluent Brit.
2. Assume a number of km’s per day
3. Assume an average fuel consumption
4. Multiply everything and convert to Joules
5. Multiply by 60 million Brits (baby’s driving cars??????).
6. Divide by 3.6 million, and that’s the number of kWh’s Britain needs to power its cars.
The first error is that the number of vehicle miles resulting from his assumption is ~3x higher than in reality. And by making gasoline and electricity equal, he suggests an electric car consumes than ~4 times the energy it actually does. The result: he overestimates the electricity required to power all cars in Britain by a factor of 13!
The book does contain some useful information, but stay critical, and certainly don’t take his word for it.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 20 Jan 2009 @ 11:43 AM
Harmen, I LOVE that video. I’ve actually seen it before, and it made complete sense to me. Thanks for reminding me about it. :)
Changing subjects to pseudonyms … Maya is my real name. It’s unusual enough that being confused with another poster is unlikely, but I don’t particularly want to use my last name because of a crazy-stalker-ex-husband. I’ve made a habit of never giving any more personal information online than necessary, while still being honest.
“James! You seem to think that we are talking about total replacement of carbon-energy with renewable sources; we’re not.”
Who are you including in “we”? You may not be: SecularAnimist and others are.
“Nuclear is not renewable – not the build, the extraction or the disposal or disestablishment. Even I it can be made right it just won’t fly in time.”
I don’t quite follow your logic here. How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant, using the French model? And why, given available construction workers & equipment (and with current economic conditions, there should be a goodly amount) should it take longer to construct many plants than one?
The same logic holds in reverse for wind & solar, but I think sometimes people fail to see it. Because one wind turbine, or solar cells on one roof, are relatively small, quick & inexpensive, they overlook the cost of scaling up. For example, if you read back quite a few posts, you’ll find one claiming that the (high) $7 billion estimated cost of a nuclear plant is too expensive. That plant will put out 1 GWatt 24/7, with (on recent experience) better than 90% reliability. With solar cells at $3/Watt, how much will it cost to build a solar array to generate the same amount of power? (And I’ll give you free storage for nights :-)) How long will it take to build enough solar panels or windmills to replace an appreciable fraction of coal-fired generation?
“And windmill BIRD KILLS for goodness sake!!”
Did I mention anything about that?
“Maybe you could take a pause and think about what our world is going to be like under the triple blows…”
I have. Maybe you should too.
“Renewable is our only hope!”
That’s where I think you’re wrong. Renewables should be a big piece of the solution. Nuclear is another big piece. We need both.
I’ll ask you to do two things. First, look at the current status of the so-called “Dead Zone” around Chernobyl. It’s become a wildlife refuge, and by some reports is one of the ecologically healthier places in Europe. Now try to imagine what it’d be like if it was completely cut off from sunlight.
1. Who will fund nuclear energy? The banks haven’t put out the money for it since 3 mile Island blew out a $1 billion plant. Bad investment. Now the banks won’t fund anything.
2. How much energy is put out (EROI) compared to what is put in? Some people think there’s not much left after nuclear waste disposal.
3. Nuclear waste disposal? Hasn’t happened yet. Only place to put it is Yucca mountain in Nevada, and that won’t be ready for another 10 years and won’t happen while Reid of Nevada is Senate Majority Chairman.
You must have been alerted by now to Steve McIntyre’s latest on your performance on the Lou Dobbs program. The essence of SM’s exposition is:
“Contrary to Gavin’s assertion, there is no evidence that CRU or NOAA correct their records for urban heat island effects. They make a very slight allowance in their ‘uncertainty’ for UHI relying ultimately on an estimate made in Jones et al 1990, ”
By itself, the description by Brohan et al (2006) of Hadcrut3 appears to support SM’s findings. Any comment?
[Response: I made no specific comment about the CRU or NOAA UHI adjustments – either on Dobbs’ show or in the post above. I suggest reading the documentation for those products for such information (here for instance). GISTEMP takes its trend only from rural stations, and there is plenty of evidence that there is no substantial UHI effect in any of the large scale indices (Parker, 2004; 2006; ocean changes, glacier retreat etc). -gavin]
“Hansen: Obama has only four years to save the world”
405 – That is exactly the sort of thing that I’ve been bitching about. A 4 year timeline?! bah, he doesn’t deserve to be defended. The science isn’t there to do that, but of course everyone will point me back to their models and say read IPCC blah blah blah your just not convinced by evidence. I mean you might as well go ask a Louisiana mystic to make a prediction. You can almost hear her raspy voice saying: “You’re gonna die!”
[Response: You have misunderstood what Hansen is saying. He is *not* saying the world will end in 4 years, but that if action is not started on reducing emissions by the end Obama’s first term we will very likely have missed the opportunity to get the planet off the trajectory we are on. – gavin]
One of the side conversations I’m most interested in on this thread is the discussion of mitigation solutions. Renewables vs nuclear? How much do we cut and how fast? Carbon sequestration? I’d like to see an RC post or two on mitigation. Do they have a position or is it generally beyond the scope of their work? climateprogress.org covers solutions in fairly good detail.
I really wish the public would move beyond the anti-science trash that pervades the blogosphere and occasionally makes its way to media sources like CNN. The contrarian crows always likes to say that science is never settled. True, honest scientific debate is never over, but there’s nothing scientific or honest about the sort of persistent random misinformation described in this post.
For the most part, I’ve observed that those calling themselves climate “skeptics” aren’t the least bit skeptical of any and all claims made that question global warming science, no matter how obviously false they are. Seems ironic.
Federal standards for utility transformers determine outcomes for decades. Take the Dep’t of Energy regulation. DOE was petitioned by the utility companies to mandate longterm energy efficiency as the criterion for replacing outdated transformers, rather than considering only immediate short term price.
The new Administration can change this — and much else like it. Simple change. Forty years of cost and carbon savings and avoided extra costs.
This is the low-hanging fruit, the no-regrets changes that only improve conditions, but that require the kind of agreement among people that is called government. Government is — can be– the new commons, not the enemy.
As a follow up to gavin’s inline response, there is a relatively recent paper (a year old) in GRL coming to a similar conclusion on the extremely narrow time window on CO2 emissions required for near present-day climate stabilization.
“James, you’re not using facts. Try looking this up.”
I’m not using facts? OK, but you’re not using logic. I suggest trying an experiment (even as a thought experiment). Take a solar cell, place it in the sunlight, and measure the power output. Then slap some white paint (as substitute for guano, if you don’t have some handy), and measure again. Are you seriously suggesting the output power will increase?
But that’s with PV: how about solar thermal? Commonest design is to have mirror troughs concentrating reflected light on a collector tube. So again, imagine painting those mirrors white…
I think where your error is coming from is in conflating surface reflectivity & transmissivity. If you can reduce the reflectivity of a solar panel coating without reducing the transmissivity, you’ll increase efficiency. But guano reduces the transmissivity quite a bit, as does e.g. dust. Here’s a practical example: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/spotlight/20080420_Spirit.html
Conflating? Heck, I’d never even heard of transmississivity. transmissivity. Sounds like something Mark Twain would have said about steamboats. But perhaps I’m dating myself.
I see your point, there were more possible physical effects than I’d mentioned, you were able to find a way to read the words to misunderstand what I was trying to say; point to you. Thanks for the new word, I’ll treasure it and try to use it only for good.
I trust you agree that making solar cells, glass, and such reflect less light is an interesting idea considering the new biology about birds using it for navigation.
20 January 2009 at 12:20 AM
This may suggest one good way to get birds away from airports — if they look like open water from a distance to birds, no wonder we have problems!
Actually, they look like large grassy areas full of food. They look the same to coyotes (PDX – my home airport – has surrounded the perimeter with supposedly coyote-proof fence but the coyotes dug deeper more than once). PDX problems grow in winter, as a lot of birds migrate into the PNW. Particularly problematic are the large number of juvenile raptors, particularly red-tails, that move in to hunt. Think about it … predators are controlled, all those little vole-ly and other luscious mammal things become numerous. The red-tails are trapped and relocated, though quite frequently they find their way back after a few day. Last I heard (about five years ago) there were four resident pairs allowed to stay year-rounds – they’re territorial, chase off the wintering kids, and stay away from the runways.
Bird species attracted to open water aren’t the problem. Well, in florida, where there’s water everywhere, you’ll see egrets in large numbers hanging out at miami international … but they’re not being fooled by the pavement
The canada geese that struct the US Airways flight wasn’t an airport strike, they were flying in “V” formation at 3200 feet miles from the airport …
The canada geese are scary, I’ve encountered them at ~2000′ while flying a Cessna closing at over 100 mph, if they can bring down a Airbus imagine what they do to a Cessna.
And now for some spin and inflammatory language from the other side – http://www.ecoearth.info/newsdesk/
“Rogue German Ship Fertilizing Southern Ocean in Dangerous Climate Geo-Engineering Experiment”
“…a desperate attempt to put off hard climate change policies by using technology to further create a human dominated “Frankensphere”
“…defies agreements against dumping of wastes in the sea.”
(18 German & 30 Indian scientists are “rogues”? fertilizer=”waste”? fertilizing 300 km2 of the 20.327 Million km2 Southern Ocean is “dangerous”?)
The “rogue ship” is the RV Polarstern, a German research ship from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. From the Wegener Institute website –
“LOHAFEX: An Indo-German iron fertilization experiment – What are the effects on the ecology and carbon uptake potential of the Southern Ocean?”
“The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has asked the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association to hold the iron fertilisation experiment LOHAFEX until an independent, international third party produces a scientific evaluation of the potential environmental impact of the project. The Alfred Wegener Institute will only start the fertilisation if this evaluation does not produce any objections.”
I think that ocean fertilization probably won’t work as well as some have suggested, and potentially has bad side effects. But I don’t think burying our heads in the sand and NOT doing the science is a wise course of action. It also was a Bad Idea for the Wegener Institute and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), India, to rely on their internal evaluation of possible environmental impacts instead of an independent risk assessment before starting the expedition.
Science 30 November 2007:
Vol. 318. no. 5855, pp. 1368 – 1370
Should Oceanographers Pump Iron?
Companies and countries are planning a series of controversial experiments to help determine if seeding the ocean with iron can mitigate global warming. (The article is behind a paywall; the one e-letter, from Dr. Seitz, is publicly readable here and interesting)
Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Ocean Iron Fertilization
E. Kintisch’s article, “Should oceanographers pump iron?” (News Focus, 30 November 2007, p. 1368) reminds us that controversy surrounds ocean fertilization as a means of offsetting atmospheric carbon dioxide. Biologists are skeptical, because despite the late John Martin’s famous assertion, “Give me a half tanker of iron and I’ll give you an ice age” (1), many offshore areas sequester little carbon because their waters are perennially deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus as well.
But Martin’s wish for a series of massive experiments may have been realized anyway—before he was born. During the decades before oil became the dominant marine transportation fuel, burning coal to raise steam at sea spewed literally megatons a year of iron, nitrogen, and phosphorous into nutrient-deficient surface waters. ….
More at the link above
And the info is there; this was easy to turn up, I’m sure there’s better:
“… From 1914 to 1950 world shipping shifted from coal to oil using
percentages reported in Fletcher (1997). Coal used for shipping purposes was taken to be 80,000 metric tones in 1915 (Fletcher 1997). Values for intermediate years were found by scaling scaled with shipping tonnage, assuming a 50% improvement in efficiency from 1915 to 1940….”
Fletcher, M.E. (1997) “From coal to oil in British shipping” in Williams, David M. (ed.) The World of shipping (Aldershot, Hants, England; Brookfield, VT: Ashgate)
El, 409. Take a racing car analogy. If you don’t start braking long enough before the corner you will be unable to brake hard enough to slow down to a speed able to maintain the grip needed to turn the corner. You haven’t reached the corner yet, but if you haven’t started braking as hard as possible by now, you are inevitably going to crash or at best fail to make the corner.
At some point this becomes an inevitable, unavoidable result of your lack of foresight.
Ask any F1 driver.
And THEY don’t have a pony in the AGW camp, do they.
James, 401. Scaling up of windmill and solar is linear. Scaling up nuclear isn’t. The waste product from coal burning is radioactive but spread so far and wide by the very process that makes it available that there is little increase over background.
However, nuclear is increasing the density of the radiactivity by the very process that makes it usable (refinement of uranium).
Therefore nuclear doesn’t scale linearly. The problem of clearing up becomes bigger the more plants you have.
And you can’t put a nuke power in any old place, the places you can put one of those is VERY limited (for both NIMBY, safety and national security reasons).
Microgeneration may help but that’s not being done for political reasons (teh terrists may get a nucler weepon!!!) but that is a scaling of the power generation and location availability, not the waste processing problems.
And without breeders that can produce weapons-grade material (Iran nearly got invaded for daring to try fast breeder nuclear power “Why do they need it? They have plenty of oil? Must be TERRISM!!!” forgetting the reserves in the US yet the nuclear power they produce), uranium doesn’t have a very long life at current rates of use, never mind increasing it.
And uranium is not renewable.
Fusion is still years away.
So if you go all nuclear, you have maybe a few decades to make your money to decommission and make a profit for your shareholders. And then you STILL have to get wind/solar/etc power by then unless you’ve got commercial grade fusion power working by then.
Re#399. Anne van der Bom appears to scoff at some of David McKay’s conclusions pertaining to the amount of energy/person that could be realistically supplied by wind in the UK. I admit that, by slicing and dicing his information relating to energy expenditure and production and by creating what he, himself, describes as a “cartoon Britain”, he may have misled Anne. For example, she could just as well have picked on the fact that the average Briton doesn’t take a long haul flight every year as a reason to pour scorn. However, the underlying message is that, in the UK, we use 125kWh of energy (not all electrical)/person/day, discounting a further 50kWh/person/day’s worth of imported food and stuff. With energy efficiency measures, he caculates that we might hope to reduce from 125 to 69. He suggests that onshore wind could provide 16% of the first and 29% of the second amount in the unlikely event that we were prepared to cover 10% of our land area in turbines. He further calculates that if we covered a third of our shallow offshore waters in 44000, 3MW turbines, we could produce a further 13% or 23% respectively. He neither advocates that we should go for this (maximum) level of wind nor that we should dismiss wind altogether. He is merely inviting the lay reader to appreciate the scale of the issue, something that many anti-nuclear advocates appear unwilling to do. (In fairness to McKay, he deals with nuclear energy in the same way as he approaches other energy solutions, being neither for nor against, but considering only scale and sustainability.) He does, however, conclude that ,to go carbon free, we’ll either have to import renewable electricity, probably from North Africa via mainland Europe (what with I don’t know – we seem to be running out of anything to trade with) or expand our nuclear capability because indigenous renewables will not be sufficient for our needs, let alone wants.
Anyone care to comment on salps (in terms of sequestration/salvation)? Seems that a single swarm can sequester 4000 tonnes of C/night by munching its way through phytoplankton. Should such be the case, 6000 swarms, with no time off for good behaviour, could take out all anthropogenic emissions. Can we be saved by jelly blobs?
Douglas, it appears lots of people have: http://www.google.com/search?q=“climate+change”+salps
The booms in tunicates may be a consequence of rapid change at the bottom of the food chain, so understanding should precede optimism.
They aren’t as tasty as our current food choices, I hear.
Have you read Le Quere’s topic earlier here, and looked at the work she and others are publishing? Knowledge of what’s out there, let alone models about how the populations may change, is still very sketchy.
Was there a study that linked cooler temperatures after WW2 to the amount of ships that were sunk during the war? There had to have been several million tons of iron added to the oceans in a very short period of time. Thats way more that “a tanker” and that extra iron could explain why increases in CO2 are only now ramping up temperature.
[Response: No way. There is a big difference between active iron (that is utilisable by phytoplankton etc.) and plain old iron. I would estimate that a sunken ship is pretty close to 100% inactive biologically. – gavin]
Douglas Wise (424), never heard of it but sounds curiously interesting. Does the eaten carbon stay sequestered when the salps die? How much salps would be necessary to have some impact? Would there still be surface water available for ships?? How much plankton to feed them?
“I see your point, there were more possible physical effects than I’d mentioned, you were able to find a way to read the words to misunderstand what I was trying to say; point to you.”
No, not point to me, because it seems that I still don’t understand what you were trying to say. What I understood you as saying was that covering parts of a solar collector with opaque material would improve its efficiency, while to me it seems obvious beyond any need for discussion that if part of the sunlight is blocked before it gets to the collector, the power generated is decreased.
If you intended something else, then I missed it, so I lose a point on reading comprehension. If you’d care to explain further, please do. Until then, the point I was trying to make is that any solar collector exists in an environment. In the 15% of Nevada that some people want to cover with them, that includes things like bird droppings, dust (quite like the dust that collects on the solar panels of Mars rovers), frost & snow in season, etc. All of those are going to decrease power output and increase maintenance costs, and don’t seem to be factored in to the cost calculations of their enthusiasts.
Interesting survey of 3,146 US geo-scientists posted at CNN. 82% agreed that humans were a significant cause of global warming. The breakdown was also intersting showing 97% of climatologists supporting the statement, but only 64% of meterologists. What’s up with that? Are there really 12x the number of skeptics amongst meterologists?
Not so surprising, Petroleum Geologists were at the bottom of the list at 47% support.
I accept that artificial attempts to increase the population density of salps will probably depend upon increasing their phytoplankton feed source (either with iron or by causing nutrient rich water to upwell as suggested by Atmocean and Lovelock. In passing, I wonder whether even deeper water may be limiting in iron). Polyculture is complicated to be sure. It would probably not be a good thing to stimulate phytoplankton blooms unless one could be assured that the organisms were likely to be consumed before they died of old age and created anoxic surface conditions. However, given the voracious appetites and impressive reproductive rates of salps, one might hope that it would be possible, given the right circumstances, to engineer a situation in which phytoplankton were devoured before they could do surface damage. Those circumstances would clearly have to be researched. If the faeces and corpses of salps really do sink rapidly as claimed, it would also be necessary to see what the fate of their contained carbon was on the ocean floor. Will it be sequestered long term or munched up by other microorganisms and re-released? If it is re-released, will it stay in deep water for long enough to buy time for us to clean up our act? I accept that krill and salp densities are inversely related but this may be due to ocean conditions (? increasing acidity) rather than through direct competition. Therefore, this seems no reason not to seek potential help from salps (after appropriate research). Superficially, their potential seems too large to ignore. I was hoping to learn that appropriate investigations had been initiated.
“James, 401. Scaling up of windmill and solar is linear. Scaling up nuclear isn’t.”
I don’t see how you reach this conclusion. A power grid must be able to supply power 24/7/365. Wind & solar are inherently intermittent: they generate power only when the wind blows and the sun shines. If you have say 1% of the total grid generation as wind & solar, their intermittency is compensated by the other generation in the system – the reactor gets throttled back or the spillway at the hydro plant is opened a bit – and so the cost of the solar/wind generation is simply the cost of building it.
If the fraction of intermittent generation increases, you need to build facilities to store power and release it when needed. That increases the cost of the system, so that the cost of e.g. 100% solar generation is significantly more than 100 times 1% solar.
As to the rest of your comment, most of it gets into politics to an extent that I think would not be acceptable here. I’ll just point out that there are no panaceas: everything has its problems. We’re in the position where we need to deal with the CO2 problem. We shouldn’t reject nuclear as part of a solution because of ill-grounded fears. In particular, we shouldn’t accept the “oh, but terrorists will steal fuel and turn it into weapons” argument, because – as you yourself point out – they’re doing it anyway.
Remember the Midwife Toad?
A new report states: “We investigated molecules that attach to DNA and regulate various gene activities. These DNA modifications are called epigenetic factors”
See link below. Maybe it is possible to pass on acquired traits? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090118200632.htm
re: 430. I don’t find the percent difference between meteorologists (I am one) and climatologists too surprising, just disappointing. Meteorologists generally are concerned with weather (on the order of hours, days, weeks); climatologists are concerned with climate (years, decades, centuries). It is a difference of time-scales and understanding the primary influences within those time-scales. What is unfortunate is those meteorologists who make erroneous, misguided, or disingenuous statements about climate but who have little climate understanding beyond their meteorological training or background.
Sunken ships may have iron more active than you think!
“Back in 1991, a 100-foot-long ship sank in Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near Hawaii. Now, 17 years later, scientists studying the area say the coral reef is under attack by an organism called Rhodactis howesii. It is a corallimorph, a relative to anemones and corals that clears out competitors with it stinging tentacles. Rhodactis is an invasive species to the Palmyra Atoll, and it doubled its presence between 2006 and 2007, pushing out the diverse mix of corals that is native there.
The research team, led by Thierry Work of the U.S. Geological Survey, says the corallimorph’s drive to take over might be fueled by its love for the iron leaching from the sunken ship. Like most marine organisms, Rhodactis needs iron to grow, as does the algae with which it has symbiotic associations. Finding so many of these corallimorphs near the high-iron areas, the researchers write, means that it might be better adapted to take advantage of the extra iron than the native corals are.
Off-topic, but over seven million vists to RealClimate.
Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Jan 2009 @ 2:46 PM
No, James, I guess you did misunderstand, if you read that as suggesting putting _opaque_ covers on solar panels and windows. Not a useful idea; defeating the purpose of the tool isn’t helpful. Reducing external costs as we discover them would be.
Many kinds of antireflective coatings are used now. They don’t block the light; they reduce reflection.
But these are windows and solar panels. QED.
With the news that it’s the polarization of the reflected light that confuses flying animals — it’d be wise to at fixing that problem. But not by painting over the windows, eh?
ROV INVESTIGATIONS OF THE DKM U-166 SHIPWRECK SITE TO
DOCUMENT THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE WRECK SITE
FINAL PERFORMANCE REPORT
NOAA AWARD NO. NA03OAR4600103
“… , to document the wreck site of the DKM U-166 in 5,000 feet of water in the Mississippi Canyon Area of the Gulf of Mexico. At the time, the project was the
deepest archaeological investigation ever conducted in the Gulf of Mexico…. , to produce a detailed archaeological map of the wreck of DKM U-166, place microbiological experiments, and obtains samples of the microbiological communities present at the site. … 16.5 acres of seafloor was surveyed … we have a better understanding of … the microorganisms that now thrive on the wreck, and the events that destroyed the DKM U-166. This report describes the fieldwork that was undertaken and discusses the results of the analysis of both the archaeological and microbiological findings ….”
Just one of many, I know the deep water archeologists have done a lot of study of how and how fast the metals used in ships are transformed biologically.
Aside, I wonder how much meteroic iron is falling and washing into the oceans, compared to human activity.
[Response: Tiny. The biggest natural source by far is iron carried in mineral dust. – gavin]
James 432 that’s because you misread (surprise). The siting isn’t scalable: you can’t find a place to put 10000 nuclear power stations because of safety etc as I said. And the processing of the spend fuel etc isn’t scalable because of similar problems and keeping waste too close to other radioactive sources.
But there’s no waste and many more places you can put windmills. Or photovoltaics. Etc.
Jim Eager @ 331 writes – “an increase in atmospheric CO2, regardless of source–human or natural, will raise temperature. This is simply not disputable. It was demonstrated in laboratory experiment as early as 1859 and can be demonstrated today in any high school science lab”.
I’m interested in knowing more about these lab experiments. Are we able to demonstrate precisely how much a given parcel of air will warm in response to varying CO2 concentrations?
“… There were two recognized natural sources of iron out there, atmospheric dust and upwelling from below. Where we’ve looked in the North Pacific, we’re seeing a new and important third source, the continental margins. The rules for the role of iron in the ocean carbon cycle need to be revised….
… published their studies in 2006, concluding that the iron had indeed come from the continental margins of the Aleutian Islands, 900 kilometers to the northwest of the site where the midwinter plankton bloom had been found. Iron particles and soluble iron had been carried there along a layer of denser water roughly 100 to 150 meters deep (the pycnocline), and the iron had been stirred up by storms that made it available to near-surface plankton in the dead of winter.”
Per Hansen’s letter to Obama, Forth Generation Nukes are the only way to supply the power to replace the Coal Plants that will no longer be built. See below:
“In our opinion, 4th GNPii deserves your strong support, because it has the potential to
help solve past problems with nuclear power: nuclear waste, the need to mine for nuclear
fuel, and release of radioactive materialiii. Potential proliferation of nuclear material will
always demand vigilance, but that will be true in any case, and our safety is best secured if
the United States is involved in the technologies and helps define standards.
Existing nuclear reactors use less than 1% of the energy in uranium, leaving more than
99% in long-lived nuclear waste. 4th GNP can “burn” that waste, leaving a small volume of
waste with a half-life of decades rather than thousands of years. Thus 4th GNP could help
solve the nuclear waste problem, which must be dealt with in any case. Because of this, a
portion of the $25B that has been collected from utilities to deal with nuclear waste justifiably
could be used to develop 4th generation reactors.”
Dan, 433, the problem is that weather depends, for example, on getting the speed of advance of a low pressure system right within 5% (or your three day forcast for where the system will be will be over 4 hours wrong).
So *accuracy* of the emergent features has a big role to play in weather.
But if you average 100 similar low pressure systems because you’re adding the total change over 10 years (the appearance of the system occurs about once a month), you can be 50% wrong and see, overall, the same difference in model as in reality, because as long as the physical process is right, the errors will be random about the mean and cancel out (binomial counting statistics).
If you got the speed of a system 50% off, you’d have no forcasting ability at all!
Work back up that site’s layers to get the whole class and see the references.
You can of course find much more available about this. Start Here button at the top of the page; first link under Science in the right sidebar.
Remember CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere; the effect occurs between the ground at your feet and the heat sink of space, and the physics of the effect as you go from ground to outer space changes with the changes in altitude/air pressure. You can find all that.
You’d have to do that desktop experiment for a variety of conditions, appropriate gas mixtures for each level of the atmosphere, to get an idea of what’s going on between you and the top of the sky.
William, you’re bringing up a misapprehension that was already clarified in the original topic — you confuse methylation (or surgery!) with Lamarck’s speculation that heredity might be subject to modification due to _exertion_. You can find that in the original thread.
Planes have always been susceptible to birds. Commercial airline jet engines are only tested to withstand only one bird. I called my pilot friend and took a look on PPRUNE and the pilot handled the situation exactly as he should have. Sometimes all you can do is crash the right way, sometimes it is just nose up or nose down, For more expert commentary check out professional pilot rumor network or PPRUNE where my personal friend Pugilistic Animus, who has an ATPL and is a professor of aeronautics can further explicate on this matter as an expert; also Old Smokey and John Tullamarine are top notch experts who can answer all questions on these bird matters. Also see DP Davies, Handling The Big Jets for discussion on the bird issues.
“James 432 that’s because you misread (surprise). The siting isn’t scalable: you can’t find a place to put 10000 nuclear power stations because of safety etc as I said.”
Why would we need to place 10,000 nuclear power plants? Currently about 20% of US power generation is supplied by about 100 nuclear plants. To replace the ~50% that is generated by coal would require about 250 additional reactors. As for the locations, I think it’s only fair – and efficient – to place them as close as possible to the people who’ll be using the majority of the power.
“And the processing of the spend fuel etc isn’t scalable because of similar problems and keeping waste too close to other radioactive sources.”
I think perhaps you ought to cite some source for that claim. It certainly doesn’t square with what I know of the science & technology involved, though I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m not an expert.
re 449. That was a figure pulled from the wherevers.
There are a limited number of places you can put a nuclear power station. You have to consider safety (why isn’t there a nuke station in the middle of Manhattan? Because of the risk), feasibility (why isn’t there a nuke station in the middle of Manhattan? Because the foundations are already in trouble). Security issues too (why isn’t there a nuke station in the middle of Manhatan? Because securing access to the station in the middle of such a densely populated area is very much more difficult).
How many places process nuclear waste? In the EU, that’s the UK. France don’t do it, though they produce a lot more waste than the UK.
Now, you’ve asked for explanations and whys, where are yours. You so far have come with proclamations about what you think will make wind or solar power unsuitable but naff all reasoning for it. Just “It will be bad, mkay?”.
Dan, 444, if your forcast says “Rain coming over the west areas in the morning” and then it turns up in the afternoon, that, from the MOTS (man on the street) view is inaccurate.
It’s why people say “You can’t even get the weather right!!!”. They don’t see “rain DID happen, like forecast), they see “there wasn’t rain in the morning like you said”.
And IIRC, “skill” is more about how much more accurate you are with a model over just guessing “like yesterday”. Which is why skill goes down in settled weather (high pressure ridge for the UK sitting off the coast for a month) than in chaotic weather.
If it really IS the same as yesterday for a month, that month’s skill is zero, even though you’ve been 100% accurate (near enough). You didn’t gain anything from running the model.
Yet, when the weather changes daily, “like yesterday” is right 0% of the time.
A model that is right 10% of the time is 10% more accurate and infinitely more skillful (10/0%).
Dan, that is why I used accuracy too. It was advisedly picked. If your system is out and it is travelling at 10 kts rather than 8kts, the 1 day forecast has the system about 200 miles further on. When that day turns up, the system is 240 miles further on. Or about 4 hours travel. A forcast for the midday now occurs at home-time.
And that is a result not of skill but of accuracy.
Others here have shown that the life time energy output of nuclear struggles to get much past even – the energy inputs for extraction, construction, disestablishment and disposal practically balancing the plant’s output over its life.
Others here have shown that a mix of renewable energy sources can provide a healthy proportion of energy for even the USofA – the most energy hungry nation in the known universe.
Others here have shown that wind and solar move into positive energy balance after just a few years, and after that they are indeed ‘free’ and clean.
So we don’t really need to put nuclear into the mix with its insoluble difficulties, do we? We have better solutions that we can build today that don’t entail any significant on-going risk at all. So let’s use them eh? The main thing is that we start now and get it done soon.
And of course we have to change to match it. We have to reduce our energy consumption at the personal and corporate scale. We have to accept that just maybe we should adopt a speed limit on roads that is safe for simple light-weight but highly efficient electric cars, and let the fossil-fuelled monsters boil up by the roadside if they must. Change in ways we cannot comprehend. Accept that the legitimate pursuit of happiness is not synonymous with rampant consumption. We have to all be part of the solution – to get in behind or at least to get out of the way.
In varying degrees many of us live in fear of climate and resource wars, we fear for the safety of our children, the issues that confront us are fully comprehensible only by the omniscient, and we feel sadness at our own impotence, and anger at our incompetence for having bought our families to this moment in the history of our world.
The Dali Lama once said:
If you wish to experience peace – provide peace for another. If you wish to know that you are safe, cause others to know that they are safe. If you want to understand seemingly incomprehensible things, help another better understand. If you wish to heal your sadness or anger, seek to heal the sadness or anger of another…
That’s not a bad place to start. And I think that’s what we are – each in our own way – trying to do in this discussion.
As for the MOTS, he may not like it but it is a matter of education. The MOTS may think the forecast is wrong but he would be wrong because he does not know or understand how forecasts are made or evaluated from a scientific perspective. Here in the US, I am constantly having to explain to people what a “30 percent chance of rain” really means. And that “rain” in this case means measurable rain (0.01 inches or greater). Many people welcome proper explanations just as do I about topics I know little about (or just enough to be dangerous!). Unfortunately, there are also many people who stubbornly refuse to be educated about the subject. Which gets back to global warming denialists as well.
As for forecast accuracy, there is no question that forecasting in the lower latitudes is generally much more accurate than in the mid and higher latitudes simply because the daily meteorological variation in the lower latitudes is much less. And indeed, those lower latitude areas tend to require somewhat less forecast skill (tropical systems and mountainous areas excepted of course). In fact, climatology and persistence forecasts are hard to beat in lower latitude locations. But enough about weather analysis for now.
“Others here have shown that the life time energy output of nuclear struggles to get much past even…”
Only by using some rather… um, “creative”, shall we say? figuring, along the lines of the AGW denialists who try to e.g. blame increased CO2 on volcanic activity.
“Others here have shown that a mix of renewable energy sources can provide a healthy proportion of energy for even the USofA…”
And I’m one of them :-) You seem to persist in missing my points, which are first, that a “healthy proportion” is not enough – we need to replace (including “negawatts”) ALL fossil fueled generation, and second, that some ways of implementing renewables, such as covering over large areas of land with solar thermal generation, aren’t healthy.
“Others here have shown that wind and solar move into positive energy balance after just a few years, and after that they are indeed ‘free’ and clean.”
Again, that depends. Covering existing roofs with solar panels is clean; covering large areas of formerly open land is not.
“So we don’t really need to put nuclear into the mix with its insoluble difficulties, do we?”
Your problem, perhaps, is that you’ve got this fixed idea of “insoluble difficulties”, which in the real world are in fact quite easily solved, and less difficult to handle than the problems posed by equal amounts of wind & solar generation.
“And of course we have to change to match it. We have to reduce our energy consumption at the personal and corporate scale. We have to accept that just maybe we should adopt a speed limit on roads that is safe for simple light-weight but highly efficient electric cars…”
I’d go part of the way with that, but say that instead of speed limits we just need more lightweight cars. I think my Honda Insight, at about 1850 lbs, is oversized & overweight, and would really like to have the same drivetrain in a Lotus Europa chassis…
“We have to all be part of the solution – to get in behind or at least to get out of the way.”
Something else I agree with. But why, then, are you so adamantly standing in the way of part of the solution?
“Skill” in terms of measuring the efficacy of a weather simulation is how much better than “Today will be the same as yesterday” you got.
“And indeed, those lower latitude areas tend to require somewhat less forecast skill”
May be cart-before-horse here. You can’t GET good skill on the lower lattitudes because they are stable. Hence, you have fewer chances to do better than “Today will be the same as yesterday”.
This is why skill is such a bad word to use here. There is a very specific meaning to the word in weather prediction measuring. And it doesn’t mean “How clever were you”, it was “How much better than dumb persistence were you”.
The Met Office lost one of its targets because the summer was long and persistent. Therefore the “skill” metric that the target was based on could not be realised: too many days WERE the same as the day before. And unless your model gets it wrong, it will not say anything different.
J. Bob, you may be educated, but do you really understand? The claim that climate change did in the Vikings in Greenland ignores the fact that there is no conclusive proof that climate change was the cause. About the same time that the Eastern Greenland colony vanished, Iceland was hit with the Black Death, which killed about half the population. After that, there was lots of free farmland available in Iceland, which the Greenlanders might have taken advantage, assuming that they weren’t also wiped out by the Plague. And, you ignore the impacts of volcanoes, such as Kuwae in 1453, which would likely have been much worse than the effects of Tambora in 1815, which caused the “Year Without Summer” in New England and Northern Europe. Besides, Europe is not the world.
Is the fact that viking remains are still being dug out of the permafrost enough proof of the past being warmer than today, but that is only local, 
This is getting into semantics. No, I am not getting skill wrong. Per post 444, I wrote that skill is in reference to simply using local climatology or persistence. Specifically, a skill score is the percentage improvement of a forecast with respect to a reference forecast (climatology or persistence). Accuracy is the average closeness between a forecast and observed values.
If I used the word “Barratry” with regards to a ship, that is the rebellion against the captain by officers. If I use the word with regards to a solicitor, that is the abuse of legal process by baseless filing of a lawsuit.
Your post on 458 is the first time I’ve seen you explain the term and then not misuse it (“And indeed, those lower latitude areas tend to require somewhat less forecast skill”), or, if accurate, use the nominal everyday term of “skill” as in “how clever must you be to do it”.
Joepublic, it isn’t necessary to show climate did for the Vikings. All that is needed to be shown is that they died because the term “Greenland” was a misnomer and doesn’t mean that it was a lush area suitable for farming and sustained development.
I.e. if the weather was terrible, they would die. It would then mean that the “Greenland” is not proof that there was a warmer period.
RE 450 : France does reprocess its nuclear waste, and that of Japan also, by the way (at La Hague, near Cherbourg).
Comment by Francois Marchand — 23 Jan 2009 @ 2:41 AM
Your response to #167:
“The station drop out ‘effect’ is just fake, and if you don’t like GISS, then use another analysis – it doesn’t matter. – gavin]”
Is it? Virtually every rural weather station in Western Australia (without a major airport and therefore a large town) has no data in GISS beyond 1992. The dropout includes Australian Climate Reference Network stations administered by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (e.g. Wandering, Bridgetown and Cunderdin).
[Response: The records that are in the GHCN are put there by the regional bureaus. You need to ask ABM why they pick the stations they do to release the CLIMAT record (see Petersen and Vose, 1997 for details). However, if there was such a jump in the large scale indices in 1990, you should be able to see GISTEMP shift in comparison the RSS record for instance. You don’t. The figure used in the D’Aleo piece seems to be an average simply of each individual station (without taking anomalies or adjusting for areas). Thus changing the number of stations shifts the mean temperature of the average station (depending on whether you drop out a tropical station or polar stations for instance). This has absolutely nothing to do with estimating the global mean anomaly. Thus it is fake. – gavin]
Comment by Richard Steckis — 23 Jan 2009 @ 3:08 AM
No. Mark, sorry to disappoint you but I have not misused the term. When you have a graduate degree in the field, over 25 years experience and use the concept everyday, let’s talk. I explained the term only because it was becoming clear you did not have a handle on it. I assumed you did. I was wrong on that so I realized you needed a clearer definition. Otherwise, I suggest waiting until you have a better overall understanding.
For some reason, my last several sentences got cut off when I pasted them:
Once again, a skill score is the percentage improvement of a forecast with respect to a reference forecast (climatology or persistence). In lower latitudes, a lower skill score will *not* adversely affect the forecast nearly as much as higher latitudes simply because climatology and persistence are often excellent “forecasts” in those low latitude regions. Thus my sentence (“And indeed, those lower latitude areas tend to require somewhat less forecast skill”) was spot on. And those are my last words on the subject. There’s plenty more you can read elsewhere.
To follow up. Of the 21 Australian Reference Climate Stations in Western Australia. 8 (or 38%) have incomplete data in GISS (dropout usually 1992). Of particular interest is that the station at Cape Grim (Tasmania) is not even in GISTEMP. Cape Grim is not only a climate reference station it is also one of the international air quality stations in the NOAA air quality network. Go figure.
Comment by Richard Steckis — 23 Jan 2009 @ 7:21 AM
Dan, if that is all true, then you are missing out words *you* know are meant and therefore are blind to their lack.
And leaving those words out are like leaving “solicitor” or “ship” out of a discussion that mentions barratry.
Your statement about the lower latitudes requiring less skill is incorrect by your known meaning of the word “skill”. It is impossible to HAVE high skill by your known meaning of the word “skill”. It isn’t that it is not necessary, it is that it is not available.
Although thinking about it, if you’re missing “to get the same accuracy” then you are now getting it right. You can, for these areas, get 85% correct forcast without needing a model that shows skill, whereas in the temperate latitudes, you need a lot of “skill” to make 85% forecasts correct.
Then again, that shows what I said at the start: you are seeing words there you didn’t put because you are so immersed in it you can’t see the wood, you only see “tree”.
william wrote in #442: “Forth Generation Nukes are the only way to supply the power to replace the Coal Plants that will no longer be built.”
That is very clearly not the case, since wind turbines are already replacing more coal-fired power plants “that will no longer be built” than are new nuclear power plants (of any generation).
According to WorldWatch Institute, the 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines installed worldwide in 2006 will generate as much clean electricity annually as 23 average-sized US coal-fired power plants — that’s 23 coal-fired power plants that need not be built. And approximately 20,000 megawatts of new wind turbines were installed in 2007, 31 percent more than in 2006 — that’s even more coal-fired power plants that need not be built because they’ve been pre-emptively “replaced” by wind turbines.
WorldWatch also notes that “over the past 15 years, the costs of wind-generated electricity have dropped by 50 percent, while efficiency, reliability, and power ratings have all experienced significant improvements … wind power remains competitive with new natural gas plants and will become increasingly competitive with coal as more countries put a price on carbon.”
Meanwhile, WorldWatch reports that in 2007, “global installed capacity of nuclear power grew by less than 2,000 megawatts … The new nuclear capacity is equivalent to just one tenth of the new wind power installed globally in 2007.”
With all due respect to my fellow commenters, nuclear proponents are beating a dead horse — a costly, dangerous and toxic dead horse. Wind and solar are where the world’s energy economy is headed, not nuclear.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Jan 2009 @ 12:09 PM
A heartfelt plea:
The nuke/anti/nuke/anti/… tangents popping in at RC happen on and off, sputtering, with little effect but distraction from attempts to focus on the topic’s subject..
If I said superman had 4 years to save the world then what impression would you have? It’s not that I disagree with the urgency of his statements but how it was expressed. This is exactly what I was referring to, when I was speaking of people getting passionate about the topic. To give you an example of how this is going to be understood by the average person; go ask your grandmother what that topic means to her. In general, people are going to relate this to ideas like Mayan 2012 predictions. His expressions are based more on passion then science.
I believe it would be very wise of this man if he was more careful in his choice of wording. His message would have been more effective, if he had worded it as you did in your response to me. Perhaps he should consider allowing some other scientist, perhaps yourself, to proof read his statements. While I may be sounding like a pot calling the kettle black, I know first hand how bad writing effects interpretation of meaning. People really need to stick with the science closely on this topic and stop venturing off of it. While his wording may have been unintentional, he needs to look at everything coolly and dispassionately and express it in the same fashion.
Anyway lets move on:
I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that we can curb global emissions within a decade or two. I think Obama may be able to slow the increase in C02 emissions in the US but to reduce them I think is unlikely.
The first problem is due to projected increased demand on the us power system. This projection is expected to be as high as 30%. So we have to account for that increased consumption of power with our ideas of reducing carbon output. This leads to major problems with utilities to come up with this power in a non-co2 producing fashion.
While on the surface this problem may seem easy to solve, its not. First the power grids are not designed to accept sources such as wind and solar technology. So in order to make use of that technology, you would need to redesigned the power grid. There is also an issue with the economics of wind and solar power. It would be very expensive to produce enough electricity with these technologies to meet the projected demand. So that brings us to the devil, nuclear technology.
Nuclear technology is the only method that is ready to solve this problem. However nuclear technology has it’s own major problems and some of them are worse then the C02 problem. The first problem is what do you do with massive amounts of waste coming from thousands of nuclear plants. Demand on the power grid grows about 2% a year in the US, so this technology is going to produce 2% more waste every year. I would also like to point out that nuclear fuel isn’t an infinite resource. So you’re going to have the same old conflicts, just in new areas. The last problem is how would you deploy it globally? It has many military applications and would likely be abused. If you don’t deploy it then developing nations are going to continue to burn fossil fuels.
The next problem is global in nature. For every coal plant that we shutdown in the US, China or another developing country will be launching one. We do not have the political capacity to make China stop using c02 based technology. China is the banker of the USA and can do anything that it likes. (Which worries me to no end, I don’t think Americans realize the danger of bankers. But that is another topic for another topic for another day.) So the only way that we are able to get the rest of the world to change over from Co2 based technologies, is to do it with a good example. We need to develop a technology that works better then the current one. I fear that we are going to rush this and make it look bad to the rest of the world. This would kill America politically and economically, not to mention a continuation of C02 emissions.
Re EL’s post on renewables, I think it is a mistake to assume that developing economies need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the use of renewables. China in particular has made great strides in this regard–even if some, like the “Olympic generation capacity,” may have been over-hyped to a degree.
For example, here is a (now year-old) story on Chinese turbine manufacture:
“China’s top economic planning body has unveiled an ambitious target to expand the country’s wind power generating capacity to 100,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020, according to reports on Tuesday.
The plan from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is five times the previous target, the report in Shanghai Daily said. Global wind power currently stands at 94 gigawatts (94,000MW).
“The NDRC has just recently completed an internal meeting to discuss the possibility of increasing wind power capacity to 100,000MW,” Shi Pengfei, vice president of Chinese Wind Energy Association, was quoted as saying. “It’s not 20,000MW or 30,000MW as previously targeted.”
“China hopes to have 15% of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources by 2020. Most of this is expected to come from hydropower and wind.”
“I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that we can curb global emissions within a decade or two. I think Obama may be able to slow the increase in C02 emissions in the US but to reduce them I think is unlikely. …” – EL
The numbers aren’t in, yet, but it’s getting pretty obvious global emissions have been cut in a fairly significant way since last July.
476 – That’s because we are in the modern version of the great depression. Any lower C02 emissions during this period is only a temporary effect and will resume once the economy picks back up.
475 – The doe is projecting around 128 Gigawatts by 2030 from wind power. They also project an additional 22 gigawatts from solar panel technology by 2030. So add this together and be optimistic and say 150 gigawatts by 2030. The demand for electricity is expected to increase 235 gigawatts by 2030.
These projections are optimistic that we are going to solve our problems with transmission in the grid.
EL, OK, we have what you think. Do you have any actual facts to support it? How about some anecdotes? On the side of what is possible, last year, the town of Juneau, AK was cut off from its usual supply of cheap hydroelectric power. Suddenly, power was expensive, and people responded by cutting their consumption by 30-35%–on a dime, no preparation, no technological breakthroughs. It is pointless to argue about how we will meet demand for power until we know how much power we really need to supply, and we will not know that until we pick some of the plentiful low-hanging fruit. We don’t know until we see what sorts of energy-saving technologies will be available for us to use–and to sell to developing countries, as well. EL, I don’t expect you to get all the way to “Yes we can,” in a week, but could you try to get as far as “Maybe we should try…”
478 – You can look at the various projections at the department of energy web site. The link in post 477 shows the projected coal usage by various countries around the world up to 2030. You can also look through various projections and forecasts on their web site.
It’s not politically possible in most places to force people to make drastic cuts in consumption. For example, the Chinese government has been nervous over the economic fallout. If their GDP drops below a certain rate of grow then they may be looking at a revolt. In terms of energy, you have to understand that if that consumption got cut, so would the jobs that consume it. For a solution to be viable, it needs to be able to handle consumption and be globally available.
I’m not suggesting that nothing should be done about this problem. However, I do think that we are going to need to define the problem in more detail, before we can set out to solve it. One thing I don’t want to see us do is trade one bad technology for another.
All you need is the edge, the worst and most imminent result.
That’s ocean pH change.
There are many examples where a scientist or group of scientists came across a new result, and people figured out a likely consequence that could be a problem, and hauled it into the laboratory and started looking into it — and meanwhile back in the barn, some other consequence grew much faster and wasn’t noticed til much later.
CO2 rate of change is one of those. We have upwards of a century of attention paid to what it changes in the atmosphere and climate, and a few years of attention paid to what it changes in water.
It’s one of those “duh, I wonder if this was so stupid it’ll do us in, thought it was a good idea at the time” situations.
Germ theory. Antibiotic resistance. Fisheries. Market hunting. Heavy metals. Chemicals that are hormone mimics. Phonics. Chlorofluorocarbons. All sorts of areas that could have been done well if understood before they were either rolled out or replaced by “something better” that turned out to be worse.
For CO2, it’s ocean pH that is changing the fastest and is already closest to values affecting the base of the food chain where most primary productivity (turning light into life) occurs.
“… to-day we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time—perhaps for a long time.”
Or if you don’t like “delicate machine” try “angry beast” for analogy.
Er, on the other hand, when I see Contributors’ names turn up in broad recent Scholar searches on a climate topic as I just did, I go to the right hand sidebar, look at their publications. http://www.ozean-klima.de/
Thermohaline circulation fact sheet
Okay, yeah, add that.
I wonder if a combination of slow or rearranged thermohaline circulation and pH change leads us into Peter Ward’s thesis. Burp.
truth (#323): It’s true that a lot of the people you name get a lot of respect. However it’s not true that the government is bending over backwards to implement mitigation measures. On the contrary, at both state and federal levels, Australia is spending a lot more on pro-fossil-fuel infrastructure than green technology. The Labor party paid lip service to this stuff to get elected but the patience of the green movement is running out. Many people I speak to consider both of the major parties to be equally bad. They talk green to get elected, then renege once in power. I’ve been assembling a science advisory board for my campaign (Qld state election) and several people have told me they are willing to give advice as long as their names are not made public.
I’m curious as to where the people you name “frequently put the AGW view”. I don’t see them all that often on TV and definitely not in the Murdoch press, which gives undue coverage to non-experts who clearly do not know what they are talking about (I don’t just mean I disagree with them; they write things that are obviously incorrect, like we are heading for an ice age, and do absurd curve fits to bolster their lack of evidence). This stuff has been cited here recently: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/the_war_on_science/
This morning, CNN ran an interesting video segment on the thinning of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and its tenuous connection to the main ice sheet. After the video, the host turned to CNN meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, and said something like, “But, you’re not convinced, are you?” No, he is not, and he suggested that global warming may well be part of a natural cycle of warming and cooling, noting that there is a growing ice shelf in the Arctic (I’m pretty sure he said “shelf” and not “sheet”). Is it possible he is forgetting that this is winter in the northern hemisphere and so, naturally, there is more sea ice in the Arctic? Or did he somehow miss the news that the summer extent of the ice cover has been shrinking? Or is it me who is confused?
[Response: If he said either “shelf” or “sheet” he is demonstrated his ignorance. You’re not confused. Wolf obviously is. I don’t mean to be disparaging, but what does a meteorologist know about ice shelf dynamics?–eric]
[Response: Well, many meteorologists (or other members of the public) can (and do) keep informed on this issue if they like – the ACIA report was a great intro into Arctic changes for instance. It’s not because he’s a meteorologist that he’s mistaken. – gavin]
EL–Funny how you put no faith in the scenarios and trends shown by climate models (based on physics) and yet accept mere projections of existing trends on energy use as gospel. Selective credulity? I agree that if we were still in the era of cheap, consequence-free fossil fuel energy, those trends might stand a chance. We ain’t there.
Let’s be clear. Reality has changed. There will be winners and losers as a result of those change. I’d guess, however, that the winners are much more likely to be those who create the new reality (e.g. energy infrastructure, sustainable economy) than those who arrive late to the party.
You are accepting projections as if they were natural law–as if human beings had no volition and could make no choices for change.
In the above story, they make a claim that global warming contributed 7% of the power of Katrina. The problem is that there isn’t enough information collected to make these kind of claims. You would have to have information from seismic, orbital, sunspots, ocean circulation, and everything else (a long list) to even have the ability to make such a claim. Not just some snapshot of information either, but a decent sized period of it, and lots of computer power to process it. The truth is, many vultures are more then happy to swoop down on people who are afraid for profit and politics.
There is a whole lot of reasons that I believe that emissions are dangerously difficult to stop. The first one of course is the projections as you mentioned. The next is the projections from people who are in the solar and wind industry. One of the largest reasons however is observations of people in general.
You’ll notice that global warming is at the very bottom of the list of worries. This means that we are going to have to navigate our way out of this mess with pure innovation. We need to develop a technology that is BETTER and CHEAPER then our current technology for us to have any success. That is just the reality of this situation.
EL wrote: “We need to develop a technology that is BETTER and CHEAPER then our current technology for us to have any success.”
We already have such technologies: wind turbines, photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal. They are better: they enable us to harvest free, abundant, ubiquitous wind and solar energy forever, and end forever our reliance on costly, scarce, toxic fuels of any kind. And when ALL the costs of fossil fuels are taken into account, they are cheaper too. In some instances they are already cheaper than fossil fuels, even when the costs of carbon are “externalized” as they mostly are at present. And with economies of scale, and new technologies like thin-film photovoltaics, the cost of wind and solar energy is steadily declining.
The estimates from the US DOE and the IEA of the growth potential for wind and solar are laughably low:
… experts from the Energy Watch group, say the International Energy Agency (IEA) publishes misleading data on renewables, and that it has consistently underestimated the amount of electricity generated by wind power in its advice to governments. They say the IEA shows “ignorance and contempt” towards wind energy, while promoting oil, coal and nuclear as “irreplaceable” technologies.
In a report to be published today, the Energy Watch experts say wind-power capacity has rocketed since the early 90s and that if current trends continue, wind and solar power-generation combined are on track to match conventional generation by 2025.
Today’s report compares past predictions about the growth of wind power, made by the IEA and others, with the capacity of wind turbines actually installed.
It says: “By comparing historic forecasts on wind power with reality, we find that all official forecasts were much too low.”
In 1998, the IEA predicted that global wind electricity generation would total 47.4GW by 2020. This figure was reached in December 2004, the report says. In 2002, the IEA revised its estimate to 104GW wind by 2020 – a capacity that had been exceeded by last summer.
In 2007, net additions of wind power across the world were more than four-fold the average IEA estimate from its 1995-2004 predictions, the report says. “The IEA numbers were neither empirically nor theoretically based,” it says.
And whereas the US DOE has estimated that wind energy could supply 20 percent of US electricity by 2030, the American Wind Energy Association points out that the potential is much greater:
Installed wind energy generating capacity is now over 20,000 MW. The installed wind power fleet is expected to generate an estimated 48 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind energy in 2008, just over 1% of U.S. electricity supply, powering the equivalent of over 4.5 million homes.
By contrast, the total amount of electricity that could potentially be generated from wind in the United States has been estimated at 10,777 billion kWh annually — more than twice the electricity generated in the U.S. today.
A recent cover story in Scientific American outlined a plan for producing most of the USA’s electricity from concentrating solar thermal power plants by mid-century. And of course Al Gore’s group has set forth a detailed plan for generating 100 percent of US electricity from carbon-free sources within ten years.
SecularAnimist (492), if Energy Watch (an unbiased group I assume) is correct, wind and solar energy production would have to jump by 6-7 times current production in the next 20+ years (I’ll give them an extra five) while production from coal, gas, nuclear and hydro would have to decrease by around 30%. While they accuse the IEA of being deliberately misleading with their forecasts, is Earth Watch willing to bet the farm on their’s? There is not a chance in Hades. (Unless I am misreading what they forecast which was solar and wind production would equal all other production — 50-50 — in 2025.)
> a claim that global warming contributed 7% of the power of Katrina
1) reading a _newspaper_article_ and
2) saying “there isn’t enough information collected to make these kind of claims.”
With you so far. The newspaper reporter should have … oh, wait …
Then you say you’d need
3) “information from seismic, orbital, sunspots, ocean circulation, and everything else (a long list) to even have the ability to make such a claim.”
Uh, this is a newspaper article. You need a citation to a reliable source to be credible with me, and presumably you — don’t you think?
So what did the newspaper article say, first?
— Headline: “…Boost Katrina’s Fury?” (Headline writer responsible)
— Subhead: “Experts: Rise in Temperature Added More Water to Storm’s Surge” (Well, that’s attributed to the experts — storm surge)
Story: “… in the early 1970s it would have had less moisture to fuel its powerful storm system, and less rain. That would have meant less water to pummel an outdated system of levees ….”
Okay, so — where did you get “power” as you claim someone said?
Then they refer to Trenberth, “Our estimate is that rainfall from Katrina was about 7 percent enhanced by global warming,” so there’s the 7 percent.
And then the article says:
“Trenberth’s research is augmented by the work of a number of other scientists who are finding evidence that the greenhouse effect … is boosting the power of great storms to an alarming degree. Kerry Emanuel,… believes major storms have increased in intensity and duration by a whopping 50 percent just since the 1970s.
Other research that reaches similar conclusions will be published shortly.”
But they don’t say who is going to publish more soon. Hard to check.
EL, that’s a letter (GRL publishes letters). At least point to the paragraph with the actual numbers in it. What does “About half of the extra” mean, out of context? If you just want scary lines of text, you can find them. No argument. If you want understanding, read more.
You disputed “7 percent of the power” saying that couldn’t be based on (something or other).
So — look at least at the whole letter _about_ the research:
“… global warming explained about 0.45 degrees Celsius [0.81 degrees Fahrenheit] of this rise. Aftereffects from the 2004-2005 El Niño accounted for about 0.2 degrees Celsius [0.4 degrees Fahrenheit]. The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), a 60-to-80-year natural cycle in sea surface temperature, explained less than 0.1 degrees Celsius [0.2 degrees Fahrenheit]…. The remainder is due to year-to-year variability in temperatures.
… looked beyond the Atlantic to temperature patterns throughout Earth’s tropical and midlatitude waters. He subtracted the global trend from the irregular Atlantic temperatures–in effect, separating global warming from the Atlantic natural cycle. …
That’s much more from the fake-quoted “7 percent of the power” eh?
And this text is still from the press release. You can find the science. I did not do it for you, I just suggested where to start.
Look for the science, don’t just carp about newspaper stories.
Re #493: Is the IEA unbiased I wonder ? If they have continuously underestimated winf power then it is only fair for someone to point it out regardless of you insinuating that they are somehow biased and hence incorrect ?
The issues revert around base load needs and peak load requirements. Thats one of the reasons why gas is used, for peak load and reduction in Co2 emissions relative to coal. Nuclear and coal provide base load and hydro and gas for peak load. I am sure though that Solar thermal and wind can supply a lot of the base load and peak load requirements can be managed more efectively via smart grids.
Ar you prepared to give anything else a chance except fossil fuels ?
EL, All it would take to elevate climate change significantly would be a repeat of the 2005 hurricane season–whether or not warming contributed to it. Public opinion is pretty fickle. Policy cannot be. We will not innovate ourselves out of this mess, because we don’t have time to do so. Conservation will be essential in order to buy that time.
Apropos the wind power discussion, I had a chance to chat with some folks this past week who have 4 1.2MW wind turbines on their land out in West Texas.
Wind is approaching the point of being an epidemic. It’s much cheaper than solar and there’s enough news coverage, positive and negative, that it’s hard to imagine anyone with a windy location hasn’t given it some thought. I’m getting ready to ask for permission to erect a turbine to see if the ridge I live on has viable power. I don’t need the electricity, but it would be interesting to see if the prevailing southerly breezes here can produce significant amounts of power.
EL, your cite as I read it says that the IEA projections are based on “business as usual” scenarios, not build potential, and that that is the explanation for their consistent underprediction of wind capacity. It’s nice to know they aren’t biassed, but you still can’t use their figures to try to set upper bounds on future wind power development–at least, not with any credibility.
It seems likely that the trend will accelerate, given the probability of a more supportive legislative environment in the US. (Perhaps it’s worth noting that the IEA, too, calls for more incentives for renewables in the same item you cite.)
497 – The IEA estimations are based on current policy. It gives you an idea of where we are now. If you look at IEA projections then you see that we are going to have to do more in order to change this situation. In fact they have made several reports calling on more to be done.
The real difference here is that if you go by the reports of the energy watch group, then there isn’t anything more that government needs to do. Governments don’t need to worry because it’s going to take care of itself with current policy. Truth is, those projections are very optimistic that hope for advanced accelerations that simply aren’t going to happen under current policy.
The IEA underestimations can be accounted for by change of policy. The governments have been doing more to try to implement it. As a result the market grew faster then projected, which would not have happened if left alone. It’s not about giving other things a chance, it’s about political pressure.
496 – Hank, you don’t think that scientist should be accountable for what they say to the press? So those scientist for example, that say that global warming is a natural event, shouldn’t be held accountable for that claim?
It seems to me that the magnitude of the temperature difference between an urban heat island and its environs is proportional to the number of humans in it. Thus, as the populations of urban areas grow the rate of their temperature rise should increase faster than the rate of increase in rural areas.
Furthermore, the per capita energy consumption in urban areas is growing as we humans become more prosperous. This too should increase the rate of temperature rise in the UHI relative to its environs.
How can we rectify these observations with a claim that shutting down large numbers of mostly rural stations will not affect the apparent rate of temperature rise?
[Response: By a) not using the urban stations, and b) checking whether the rural stations are consistent, and c) checking to see whether the effective coverage is the same (and it pretty much is). – gavin]
Comment by snorbert zangox — 26 Jan 2009 @ 1:17 PM
Alan (497), I wasn’t commenting on the worth or folly of the idea itself but on the amount of time that Earth Watch thinks 7-8 times the turbines as today can built, installed, and connected, while simultaneously evidently decommissioning ~1/3 of the current coal and gas fired electric plants. I happen to think building wind generators is a good thing but doubt the extent or time that some predict and profess.
Your response you wrote, “a) not using the urban stations”. Does this mean that you have removed all of the urban stations from the surface temperature record?
Then you wrote, “b) checking whether the rural stations are consistent”. Consistent with what; each other or with the nearby urban stations? I think that if the urban stations were consistent with the former rural stations in 1990, that changes in the UHIE may have made that no longer true.
I do not see how ensuring the effective coverage is the same ensures that the UHIE does not affect the data going forward from 1990. If you have an area once represented by a rural station and begin using an urban station to represent the same area, will a waxing UHIE not affect the rate of temperature rise in that area?
Is there some place on line that I can get access to the procedures by which IPCC corrects for UHIE?
[Response: Trends from urban stations are not used in the GISTEMP analysis – the description, source code and papers are all available at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp . If there are a number of rural stations in a region, the regional trend is defined as the average of those rural stations. If you have a couple less stations in any particular period, it doesn’t necessarily impact the regional trend as long as there are still other rural stations in the neighbourhood. (and note that IPCC reports and assesses published work, it does not do any analysis itself). There are other ways you could do these analyses – making specific corrections for the UHI effect for instance, or by doing something more sophisticated with station-to-station comparisons – but you should look up the literature for this. – gavin]
Comment by snorbert zangox — 26 Jan 2009 @ 2:49 PM
Re #503, I doubt it too but what alternatives are there when everyone wants to leave it to the subsidized free market and there to be no grand plan of energy replacement. However that the name of the capatalist game, with its lobbying, politics, lack of scientific knowledge amongst the ones that really matter and indeed less amongst the ones that do not.
Alan (505), I find nothing wrong — nay it’s highly desirable — in relying on subsidized (or properly regulated) free market forces to do the job. The only people that will build, install, connect, and operate wind turbines (or solar arrays) are the industrialists (capitalists, if you wish) who know how to build, install, connect, and operate wind turbines. Maybe you’d rather have Rep Waxman and Sen. Boxer strap on their tool belt and do it; LOL. I do agree that the government ought to effect a national plan for electric generation; the free market industrialists are too rationalized and fractionalized to come up with a coordinated national framework.
Wind farms can go up incredibly fast if the decision is made. The Peetz and Cedar Creek wind farms near the CO-NE border, with over 500 turbines–one of the bigger operations, almost 4% of total US capacity–went up in not much more than a year. This stuff can happen very fast. You drive across the midwest and great plains and you’ll see small sets of windmills popping up all over the place. These so-called hindrances are make-believe stall tactics.
If collecting a bunch of people together in urban areas causes local increases in temperature, wouldn’t there HAVE to be local decreases in temperature somewhere else(rural cool islands) for there not to be anthropogenic global warming?
What Urban Heat Islands are responsible for the loss of glacier mass worldwide, the breakup of Jones, Larsen A, Muller, Wordie, Larsen B, and Wilkins ice shelves, the record loss of summer ice cover in the Arctic, the freshening of the deepwater southward flow of the thermohaline circulation/MOC through the Denmark Strait and the Faroe–Shetland channel, or the release of methane from the East Siberian Shelf?
Re #507/507, lol, I just think that putting in the original (greenfield) infrastructure was peicemeal at first and has only been somehwat coordinated. The next one will not have as much energy to play with or it will need to travel greater distances if you want a moritorium on coal and gas fired power stations in favour of something else overall. I doubt we can just grow it all organically. Its easy at the moment, we still have lots of coal and gas power stations living out there lifetimes but to not build any more in favour of CSP and wind of whatever scale is not as easy or as reliable as yet.
I have read of many ideas but as yet no strategic plan. But hey lets leave it solely to the capatalist venture this time around as well. They will probably roll out a load more coal and gas fired power plants and moan about CSP and winds shortcomings. Thats another 0.5C then.
Jimmy Carter had his limitations, and the Iran hostage situation was a glaring one. But it’s far from a complete characterization of his abilities.
Reagan was able to use threats to intimidate the Iranians into releasing the hostages — something Carter was unable to do. But Carter was able to broker a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt — something Reagan was not only unable to do, he was unable even to conceive.
Frankly, I’m vastly more impressed with Carter’s accomplishment than with Reagan’s.
Alan (513), I didn’t say “leave it solely to the capatalist venture this time around as well” I said others need to make a comprehensive plan and provide the necessary though limited regulation and control.
Rod B., # 515, absolutely agreed. Tamino # 514, I think Reagan had his faults, but I respect his foreign policies more than Carter, but Carter was more of a peace maker and sincerely sought greater enforcement of human rights, which was superior to Reagan. Still at that time we needed a president willing to bomb a country in lieu of the cold war and places like Beirut. Carter was a good person, but he ignored the unrest in the middle east and the strong resistance to westernization and democratization.
Then again I am a Clinton and Obama fan and I despise how Bush junior tried and failed to be like Reagan. Carter like Ford was, is a nice man who I respect because of his strong moral character.
Hank Roberts # 517, who is looking at isolated points in history? I agree that various communities can build homes, energy efficient ones,that Carter was a good carpenter etc… I was merely pointing out that as far as strong resolve, including energy efficiency I have my doubts Carter could get the deals closed. He was a smart and nice man,but lacking in resolve to get some of the more harsh, but necessary things done. With all the political and corporate opposition to going green for real, Carter is not the personality you want building energy homes on a grand scale, I do not think he would get it done.
A plea — I see business consultants telling large companies that “CO2 lasts about 100 years” — which is a blip in a corporate lifetime, as corporations are immortal. They could — if that were true– just wait and the problem goes away by itself.
I think this is akin to the credit default problem, as Mark Chu-Carroll of Google pointed out, the risks for each individual transaction were treated as independent — but they weren’t independent, each failure increased the risk of other deals and all fall down.
CO2 problems aren’t going to go away. The consultants tell the corporations what they want to hear.
Nature, Dr. Archer, Dr. Caldeira and others point out the numbers. How do you contend with the spin on this?
It seems subtle but it’s important to get the numbers right that are going to be used as an assumption in business plans, and businesses do plan long term. Longer than the human life span, in making assumptions (like sea level, like lifetime of physical construction).
David B Benson :
Those Top10 instances you mention include some that are hotly disputed as to their being attributable to AGW.
Darfur’s problem has been attributed to land clearing—some Pacific Islands problems to either tectonic causes or locals’ use of explosives undermining the atolls—the cause and seriousness of coral bleaching is disputed—and the senior scientist at the Netherlands global climate research group at KNMI, has stated that ‘There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rise’.
[Response: People state all sorts of things. The data however say something different – historical sea level rise was around 1-2 mm/yr (from tide gauges), and over the satellite period it’s more like 3 mm/yr. Now the numbers might not be completely conformal, but there is some evidence of accelerating SLR. – gavin]
One of the greatest and untapped sources of power is conservation. One way to force conservation is to simply not build those plants based on their threat to our national security and the environment. As prices rise, people will learn to conserve. At the same time, as prices rise, the ROI for wind and solar will improve and supply will rebalance.
Re #523; There is plenty of potential in renewable energy but some issues do still remain. Not least the political and economic ones. Lobbying is an issue but the new US administration seem keen to deploy renewables and thats great.
Obama can change the US energy landscape, its just affording it and the time it take to commit any single country to a energy change as big as is required. I doubt we will be able to avoid 400 ppmv but maybe 450 we can. 30 years to 450 so its possible to scrap coal and usher in electric travel too. Heating homes needs looking at though. I doubt it could be electric, thats asking a lot.
27 January 2009 at 8:20 AM
Re: #511 (jcbmack)
Jimmy Carter had his limitations, and the Iran hostage situation was a glaring one. But it’s far from a complete characterization of his abilities.
The failure of the Iran hostage situation was hardly Carter’s, he asked his military if they could effect a rescue, they said yes, he gave the go ahead. Unfortunately they then went and made a total dog’s breakfast of the operation!
Phil, a minor clarification. The military proper certainly fell way short, but the ultimate responsibility for a military operation falls on the top commander, in this case Carter himself. And since the thinking is that breaking the military axiom “Unity of Command” was at great fault, Carter, as an Academy grad and old navy man, surely knew better — if not from the Academy certainly from Adm. Rickover.
Phil, a minor clarification. The military proper certainly fell way short, but the ultimate responsibility for a military operation falls on the top commander, in this case Carter himself
Yet when presidents assert themselves directly into military planning, the right screams bloody murder.
The President is the commander in chief, but he is not an operational officer any more than are the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
And delegation of authority is another principle of command without which the military could not operate. No ship would make it through a storm if the commander had to go up the chain of command to get authority to put the ship perpendicular to large seas.
phil # 525. Carter ignored the unrest and the early beginnings of the Iranian rebellion against the Shah. it was most certainly Carter’s fault. One of my early 10 page papers was on Iran and Carter’s debacle. At any rate, this is hardly the place to get fully into this subject matter; suffice to say Carter was a well meaning person who was many times a successful peacemaker, but Iran was a huge blemish on his record on the whole in addition to the hostage situation. He actually was opposed to people going in to save the hostages to his credit.
CNN has long been known for fabricating news and exaggerating the circumstances behind world events not limited to science. Just look at the twin tower conspiracy theories coming from CNN in addition to relaxed discussion regarding the science behind global warming research.
Well far away from any Urban heat Island, in the darkness of the Arctic long night, clear skies
are warmer, the Arctic ocean ice thinner. Every time some reporter, scientist or lobbyist,
flaunts AGW does not exist, every single time, they are wrong, misguiding, at the very best
understudying crucial areas of our world. It does not say much good about them, it means
their opinion, at least on this issue, is tragically false. So, as some would say, what other opinions
or crackpot statements do they make?
Reminds me the days when I was listening to Radio Moscow, CCCP days, their stores were full of fresh fruits, bananas mangos and more, a paradise for Soviet people. Like Soviet Radio, far right ideologues are flaunting a Certainty, there is no AGW, with personal conviction, carrying a political stance (just like the old Polit bureau), with relish on purpose carelessly transmitting extremely poorly researched science opinion based on catering to converts in Misinformation (moon landing faked, has a huge crowd of believers based on TV propaganda applied the same way). From Soviet days, it seems, the polit bureau morphed to lobbyists dishing out fake news, hoping to sustain a political base, 12 to 20% strong. totally founded on ignorance. When I hear them, from my ground, warming Arctic lands so far away, propagating nonsense, not fitting Murrow’s and Cronkite’s strength in forging freedom through solid information, eventually helping getting rid of bad old Soviet ways, I wonder if Radio Moscow staff emigrated to Rupport Murdoch’s office? :)
I suppose it is to be expected that, during a relatively cold winter in both western Europe and the USA, the climate change deniers will make the most of their opportunity.
Their argument that global warming stopped in 1998 or 2000, or whenever, is getting somewhat tiresome. The deniers usually follow up with some anecdotal story of a city experiencing its coldest ever winter.
It’s interesting to take a look at the world land temperature record which shows decadal rises for the past 40 years of around 0.3 deg C and no sign of any levelling off.
These guys need to be reminded that land temperatures are the ones felt by most of the world’s population and, due to the thermal inertia of the oceans, are a good indicator of what will follow there too.
I didn’t say “don’t let them have any”. I said reduce supply to increase price and allow conservation to occur according to time-proven free-market behaviors.
The current pricing of electricity in most regions where I know the pricing policies is counter to conservation efforts. For example, if I use 200KWH / month, I pay about $0.165 / KWH, but my neighbors, who often come close to 2000KWH / month, pay significantly less.
For conservation to be achieved (and fairness to the working class), the price per KWH should rise with consumption. I’ve used 250KWH over the past 6 weeks — I suspect my per KWH rate to be $0.17 or more whenever TXU Electric gets around to billing me. That’s the exact opposite of what should happen in order to stimulate conservation.
Free market behaviors are not such good influencing forces nor necessarily a good thing for conservation right now in this deep recession we find ourselves in Furry. I know what you are saying and can appreciate it, but right now looking through the Forbes energy issue, the recent pages of The Economist, NY Times, Wall Street Journal and watching the news on this good bank versus bad bank,TARP, and the nearing of one trillion dollars towards bailout and stimulus packages, it is safe to say now is not the time to rely upon the free markets and supply-demand for any prices to rise at this time with little government funding for alternatives is not helpful.Now if electricity became cheaper that is not going to promote conservation, but it would take the pressure off the wallets of millions of people who are the working or middle class. Here in California we are witnessing the worst drought in decades, soon we will have a water warning and will be forced to conserve.Certainly climate is changing, but how do we deal with it realistically and somewhat economically, there is a real challenge there that the science cannot answer.
Rod, all the work to conserve and improve efficiency and avoid waste is going to be wasted if the few who control the most can continue to take more for themselves. Big bonuses paid with taxpayer bailout money, eh?
Nobody’s saying that getting politics and sanity into the same room is going to be easy. Lots of cultures self-destruct in revolution; look up Tom Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’ for the hopes the USA started with to avoid the apparently inevitable accretion of money and power to stupid people over several generations.
He made the strongest, and least selfish, argument there is for making the best possible education freely available to every citizen — because it is the way to rearrange wealth and power according to actual ability, for the good of the nation. We’ve never come close:
“… a permanent family interest is created, whose constant objects are dominion and revenue…. it is impossible to control Nature in her distribution of mental powers. She gives them as she pleases. Whatever is the rule by which she, apparently to us, scatters them among mankind, that rule remains a secret to man. It would be as ridiculous to attempt to fix the hereditaryship of human beauty, as of wisdom. Whatever wisdom constituently is, it is like a seedless plant; it may be reared when it appears, but it cannot be voluntarily produced. There is always a sufficiency somewhere in the general mass of society for all purposes; but with respect to the parts of society, it is continually changing its place. It rises in one to-day, in another to-morrow, and has most probably visited in rotation every family of the earth, and again withdrawn.
As this is in the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance. …. It appears as if the tide of mental faculties flowed as far as it could in certain channels, and then forsook its course, and arose in others. How irrational then is the hereditary system, which establishes channels of power, in company with which wisdom refuses to flow! By continuing this absurdity, man is perpetually in contradiction with himself; he accepts, for a king, or a chief magistrate, or a legislator, a person whom he would not elect for a constable.
It appears to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.”
agreed that progress must continue to be made in conservation efforts and the usage of alternative energy sources. I wish this could be more of a bipartisan issue, but as it was noted last night in the meeting in Switzerland broadcasted on MSNBC, bipartisanship is not a reality in politics overall. I think if the G20 and more governments get involved in renewed energy alternative infrastructure at the ground and mid levels in this global economy, well, we have a better chance at creating jobs and boosting the value of the dollar, while saving the environment. It is naive to think, however, that we can produce on a wide scale green alternatives at a cheaper rate than current electric and gas sources is very naive. With record profits, many energy companies can undersell the competition and not worry about temporary loss of profits to maintain the status quo. Not only is this true, but many of the same companies are investing in new green energy infrastructure and others that appear green, but are not. The government and other new green companies do not have the ability at this time to make green technology the widespread norm at this time. Even as gas and oil prices rise, they are very cheap by comparison to alternative fuels and my electric bill is dirt cheap! I do believe we can do it over the next 2 decades or so, really transition into a green country and perhaps by and large green global economy, but it will not be fully realized under this presidency,this is impossible in lieu of economics and politics.
Many economists and large corporate owners claim that boring is good, not taking huge risks and having increased transparency, well, it would be difficult to maintain such a business philosophy if large scale green technologies were implemented over the next 3-5 years. I am not saying we should not implement more green technologies or that Obama’s efforts are not admirable, but if you do the math and accounting on this one in light of all the people who can not even keep their homes or jobs, well, you see how it is really up to the mega rich to step up to the plate and donate-invest tens of billions more into alternative technologies and energy sources used thereof. Pickens could not get it done, he was too ambitious without enough investment capital. The government alone cannot do it.
Re #538, Hank Roberts:
I take note of your Paine quote, “There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave.”
It looks like the needed “something that excites” is currently insufficient. The closest thing I see to real national action is conversion of cars to use electricity. It looks like this is getting its momentum more from a desire to reduce use of foreign oil than it is to reduce CO2 emissions. Most conversion plans seem to include very little effort to reduce use of energy by the cars, while simply shifting the source from oil to coal, via electrification. Deception is then used to give the impression that there is something “green” in such conversions.
So it appears that Paine’s thought, that democracy could dispense with government by deceit, is not being born out by our present actions.
Re #539 jcbmack:
Lack of progress due to lack of investment is a sign that there are not serious investment possibilities on the table. I complain that it is overwhelmingly difficult to get new possibilities on the table. Axiomatic to significant innovation is that unfamiliar machines must come into existence. It is clearly difficult to cause the necessary “something that excites” where there is inate resistance to the unfamiliar.
So it is indeed naive to think things will change significantly.
Getting into the fray from the engineering perspective more than scientific, I think I discovered a couple of things that could make a very large difference. The first is a high efficiency, strange looking car, based on old aerodynamic principles, and a fairly simple new mechanical apparatus. Because this machine would use a very small but well optimized heat engine for propulsion via electricity, this same machine could serve as an electrical cogeneration system operating in proximity to an individual single family household. Such a cogeneration system could produce electricity competitive in price with coal plants since the heat (60% – 67%) would be used rather than thrown away.
I have been surprised that scientists do not seem to see these possibilities as exciting. Hence, the ideas could possibility go to “their graves”, and never get to a serious level of consideration.
More can be seen by clicking my name.
(Is this self promotion? Not likely.)
Mostly correct Jim, but not the cogeneration unless you want a low voltage tap or a plug constantly connected to the car, which is impossible. In many cases a low voltage line is like 5,000 volts. Every car would have to be tapped into power lines, this is not feasible. Not good engineering. The aerodynamics was worked out a long time ago despite how theoretical or computerized we get, we have to do those tests in a wind tunnel. 1945 we had supersonic travel worked out mathematically. Car aerodynamics is nearly as old. Recall the X15 tests in the 1960’s?
Also do not forget about the first law of thermodynamics, walk me through how the motor generator is going to run to the battery, etc… How would we turn the motor? Try again. A steam engine perhaps? We should just go back to steam.
Ok Jim I looked at all the pages on your site. Essentially you are marketing an ugly vehicle that is not very feasible, I was thinking in different terms of cogeneration, but we have hybdrid vehicles that can match these performance stats now. I thought you were proposing a fule free electric vehicle.
jcbmack, thanks for looking. I cheerfully agree that Miastrada is an ugly vehicle which demonstrates my point, “Axiomatic to significant innovation is that unfamiliar machines must come into existence.” I might add that beauty in cars has been set in our minds by the offerings of the auto industry for 100 years.
The Miastrada shape is very close to the 1933 test model shape which was thoroughly measured in the NAC now NASA wind tunnel. Other tests had been done since the early 1906 Fuhrman configuration. Yeh, it is old. Then Morelli 1983 provided data that showed that this form could be operated fairly close to the ground without significant drag increase.
The wheel system I mentioned is precisely what is needed to get the right height above the road, but a minor camber was added as suggested by that 1983 Morelli paper.
Feasibility is subject to discussion of course, but this elevated airship has about a fifth the air drag as the Prius. The engine required for moving this along at 80 mph is a lot smaller than that in the Prius, so it is of a size that would be compatible with household needs for heat.
The engine would be no cost since it would be in the car. For cogeneration, heat would need to be piped into a furnace heat exchanger, which is fairly inexpensive. Other heat uses are possible.
We are talking about standard household voltages and power service line voltages which can be interfaced with similarly to the way solar panel outputs are interfaced.
No, I was not proposing a fuel free vehicle; my goal is to just use a lot less fuel. I think this is how the CO2 problem can be solved.
On one more note, vehicles are not the main CO2 emitters, anyways, but I will bite, I am curious how you thought this out.I did call an engineer friend and reviewed my own engineering textbooks, this seems like too much inefficient work both to the data I see and the problems engineers have with this concept directly.
Getting heat into households is a plumbing problem at the first level. Simply pipe engine coolant into radiators in the house. Exhaust gases can be also piped into hot water heating devices. Heat can also be used to run refrigerators and air conditioners through the absorption chiller process (see Servel gas refrigerators for example– now Electolux and others do this).
See http://xprizecars.com/2008/09/miastrada.php#more for specs as far as they go. Please realize this is not a marketable product. It is a development project and a plan. I am proceeding to build a demonstration vehicle, but it is truly an early stage project.
I would like it to be an “open system” as much as possible and would welcome comments and suggestions, and would be pleased if others wanted to try their ideas using this as a starting point. I might get some royalties down the line somewhere, but I have low expectations and this should not hold anyone back.
Vehicles put out about a fourth or a third or so of the man made CO2 in the USA, and about two thirds of that is from personal transportation vehicles. Power plants do somewhat more and household heating is a fairly big CO2 source. Putting these three into a system seems like a place to start to solve the problem.
Efficiency is vital to the whole thing. I was particularly struck by the 38% efficiency that was measured for the Prius gasoline engine by Argonne. That has largely gone un-noticed. This compares to about 35% for production small diesel engines, but these have some trouble with NOx and await good catalytic converteres. But the Prius engines show what could be done. This compares with about 33% efficiency for coal electric power plants and 30% to 50% for natural gas plants. Ideally we might use natural gas to run Prius style, though much smaller, engines. These would switch over to propane, CNG, or gasoline for road use.
But the engine efficiency for cogeneration operation can go to nearly 100% where the heat is fully utilized. This is in contrast to the heat engines of large power plants that throw away vast amounts of heat, and so are stuck with their basic energy conversion efficiency.
Maybe several kinds of engineers need to get together on this to see the possibilities. Many if not most electrical engineers opted out of the power conversion courses in recent years, so they need to go back to their freshman physics books.
So how did this come about? As a frustrated commuter, I have been working on this all my life. But in recent years I particularly looked at the advantages of bicycles and motorcycles as far as the amount of space they took up on the road and in parking lots. Then the overwhelming fact is that very few cars on the road actually have more than one person in them. So something is wrong. Then I was infuriated with empty car pool lanes, yet vast public money was still being spent on them. I had been a carpool dropout long before, having found myself and my co-workers unwilling to give up flexibility and independence of individual car commuting. I clearly see the value in distributed living sites, distributed work sites, and fast travel between these, when it is wanted. But the bicycle has its obvious lacks of comfort and motorcycles do as well. Both are hideously dangerous. Mangled people are an unacceptable cost.
But “narrow” seemed to have a lot of importance. And why not use tandem seating. It has worked for motorcycles. A lot of thought, a couple soap box derby model iterations, and driveway coasting tests led to a wheel system that was, in the end, surprisingly stable, and it proved to be somewhat like power steering as well. It may have come partly from self steering mechanisms that have been devised over the years for sail boats. Anyway, the combined steering and stabilizing process turned into an idea that seems promising for a variety of applications. The next step was to work out the aerodynamics.
Half wide means half the frontal area so there was something good for starters. Motorcycles get this advantage. I got my 45 year old fluid dynamics textbook out and gradually realized there was even more, a lot more, to be gained by good aerodynamic design. An advantage of the steering and stabilizing wheel system along with the geometric effects of a narrow vehicle with tandem seating made it possible to realize the nearly ideal aerodynamic performance of the body of revolution, specifically the airship. It all got a lot more serious when I found the 1933 test data, (Freeman 1933) that was the USS Akron scale model results done at Moffet Field.
I have tried to look back at the development of the automobile. I think some of the progress came about because I ignored a hundred years of automobile tradition. More can be said but this is getting too long.
Jim Bullis, I admire your innovative spirit and resolve, and if you can indeed fulfill your promises, I do indeed hope you get filthy rich off the ideas. That said, there are practical issues–the bullet shape of the car is not ideal for hauling a junior soccer team around, for instance. It would be interesting to know if a vehicle like this would be street legal. How would it respond to a side collision, for instance? On the one hand, you’ll want to keep the vehicle light for efficiency’s sake, but on the other hand, stability would favor more mass down low and a broad wheelbase.
The concept of using waste heat is interesting, but is it practical unless you’ve got a lot of passengers who are fond of hot drinks? After all, one of the biggest problems with small engines is getting rid of the heat. Anyway, best of luck to you. BTW, it sorto of reminds me of the old Messerschmidt car our neighbors had–not the most practical vehicle, but kind of cool in a geeky sort of way.
Note that the green bars for buildings represent heat from natural gas. If that natural gas was first used to generate electricity (a high temperature use)and then be used for building heat (a low temperature use), a significant part of the electricity part of the CO2 would be cut out. This would reflect on the separate right side of the chart. And that could be a significant impact on CO2 from coal.
But the CO2 from transportation is the biggest thing to address as this Figure 8 also points out.
“• Even though the mix of investments in new power plants relies less on coal than in recent AEOs, coal remains the dominant fuel for electricity generation because of continued reliance on existing
coal-fired plants and the addition of some new ones in the absence of an explicit policy to reduce GHG emissions (Figure 7).”
For the junior soccer team you still need the Dymaxion by Buckminster Fuller, said to have been capable of 37 mpg. It supposedly held 11 people. It attempted to utilize airship characteristics, but the large body near the ground just does not quite get there. Seriously, I think we could accommodate 2 or three kids in the back for the basic size now, but I really have not fully addressed family use.
I had originally intended for the car to be even narrower than the current configuration, but I widened it somewhat and used the space for substantial side structure, safety being one of the things I hope to do a lot better than the car companies have done. Notice that there are no side doors and that entry is via a ramp that lowers at the rear and beneath the car, like some of the Boeing 727 aircraft of the past. So the side structure should be substantially better than conventional cars. In my demonstration model I am using steel tubing in tetrahedral shapes to get about the best strength structure possible. Also, the wheel trains, though low, still act as a barrier to threats from the side, and these are full of lead acid batteries, or something similarly heavy.
Street legal is something that will have to be worked out and it will no doubt take time. I am hoping to hand it off to someone else since that process is not something I look forward to handling.
I put a lot of mass down low; note the wheel trains that hold the batteries in line with the wheels. The wheel trains look like pontoons to some observers. Stability for cross wind forces is handled this way, and part of the elevation allows the cross wind force to be similar to that on a cylinder, which is a big advantage at high wind speeds.
Getting the waste heat out on the road would be minimized due to electric operation for much of the mileage. When the electricity runs out on a long trip, the engine would be cooled like in a conventional car, except it makes a difference that it is only 16 hp due to the very low drag forces.
Yes rolling resistance due to weight is probably not going to be a lot better than the Prius. I am trying to keep the weight down and .0065 rolling resistance coefficient for the tires looks entirely possible.
But the waste heat I am really talking about is the heat generated when parked next to a house where the heat is produced while running the engine and generating electricity. This heat is piped into the house, mostly at night, where heat is to be used for heating and air conditioning, and such. Hence the generation of electricity has a system efficiency of theoretically approaching 100%. First the car batteries would be charged, then the electricity produced would go to household use, and then sold back to the utility grid. Power sold back to the grid could be at a price competitive with the cost of power from coal.
However, the most important stability which is that needed to handle radial acceleration forces in a turn is provided by the widening wheel base which happens automatically as a part of the turning action. Stabilization and turning functions are locked together since they are the same mechanism. Hence the middle wheels which act like the rear wheels of a fork lift truck.
I concluded from my looks at the Messerschmitt and the Isetta etc. that these nearly ideal cars lacked something that people simply are not willing to give up, which is a sense of safety, real or perceived. I put it, “People do not want to ride puny.” So the elevated enclosure puts the motorist’s height of eye about even with the SUV driver’s eye.
There is no doubt that the Miastrada will be about the most geeky thing ever seen, at least until they become familiar.
I do think your Miastrada concept may have overlooked a couple of pretty important points. First, consider the use of waste heat from the cogenerating engine for home heat. Why, when with a comparatively small investment in solar collectors and insulation (probably comparable to replumbing the house system to connect to the car), most houses in most of the country could get most, if not all, of their heating needs from the sun?
Second, the cogenerating efficiency. You quote the Prius engine efficiency at 38%. That is at the low end of the range for fossil-fuel generating plants – some gas turbine generation can approach 60% efficiency: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_plant On top of that, a significant fraction of generation is from non-fossil fuel sources (in the US, about 20% nuclear, 7% hydro, and a bit from wind, solar, geothermal, etc), so the net efficiency of the system is higher. Plus you’d have the cost of some sort of storage or backup if the car’s not home. Suppose you spend a month driving to Florida for a winter vacation – what happens to the house while you and your car/heating system are gone?
thank you for responding in such detail, it is refreshing and well received. I still think you have your work ahead of you, but I am not one to say don’t give it a try. I am still concerned about the thermal efficiency versus heat loss and how to make such an application more viable, but strange ideas sometimes do turn the world on its head in a favorable fashion. I am glad you have done some research and put some thought into this. Practical usage is still years away, you must realize that even if they become marketable sooner, which I dare say is enough of a challenge in itself, but please keep us posted as to your progress and any newer specs or ideas.
It sounds like you understand the concept quite well and do indeed make points that have to be thought out carefully. But you do recognize that the basic electric power generating machine would be a part of the car, and as such, would not be a cost burden to the electric power operation. Electrical interfacing equipment would be.
Certainly the role of solar collectors needs to be considered, and in some cases it looks like they could be nice complements for warm sunny day operation. However, I think we see costs differently. My efforts at putting solar panels on my roof have not turned up very promising results, and I was looking at numbers in the $20 to $40 thousand range. The last contact I made the estimator declined to even come out and look since I had trees that he thought would cut down power a couple hours in the am and pm. As far as insulation goes, most people still end up with furnaces and fairly substantial heating bills, even with new construction under strict building codes. Absorption chiller type air conditioners and refrigerators are also possible, but any system needs to be sensibly designed. When there was no need for heat, the system would appropriately not operate, since then the central power plants would be superior in efficiency.
Plumbing and heating involves mostly rather old and well known methodology, and pipes and heat exchangers are things that cost might be more in the hundreds of dollars. Still there would be installation costs which have to be considered. I think it would work out ok for many places.
For rough comparisons, the 16 hp car engine could produce 12 kW of power on a fairly continuous basis. It would take quite a lot of solar panel area to come close to that, and the fact that sunshine is not required at all makes the car cogeneration concept appealing, or so it seems to me. Curiously, you would not want much more than a 12kW output if this was going happening on a widespread basis, since the power grid could be overwhelmed. That is why the 16 hp car is important since it fits in to the system.
Our utility, PGE, offers rebates for cogeneration systems that are “appropriately sized.” I am sure they were not thinking of the concept I am talking about.
I have a careful analysis of actual fossil fuel power generation efficiencies at http://www.miastrada.com/analyses where the conclusion for 2005 actuals for the USA for a year were that coal plants were 33% efficient and natural gas plants were 40% efficient. Then there is a 7% distribution loss for the grid. Combined cycle natural gas plants are said to be theoretically capable of 60% but that seems rare in actual practice. More to the point however, is the fact that coal is the fuel that most needs to be displaced, and as long as it is so cheap, and that appears to be the case, that is the fuel that will be used for load increases and it is the fuel that will be not used where loads decrease. I contend that net efficiency is not relevant, since the ideal sources you mention will operate full tilt regardless of load variations.
I did not envision disposing with existing household heating systems; neither would electric service be canceled.
I appreciate your thoughts and thanks again to our hosts.
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (1 February 2009 at 8:33 PM):
“However, I think we see costs differently. My efforts at putting solar panels on my roof have not turned up very promising results, and I was looking at numbers in the $20 to $40 thousand range. The last contact I made the estimator declined to even come out and look since I had trees that he thought would cut down power a couple hours in the am and pm.”
I think in that price range you must be looking at photovoltaics, which are not at all the same as solar heating. That’s much more efficient, and much cheaper, especially if you’re into DIY. They’re quite durable: my neighbor has had a solar system since the first “energy crisis” back in the ’70s.
As for insulation, all I can say is that it’s worked for me. I use no air conditioning in the summer, and virtually all of my winter heating comes from passive solar and a small wood stove.
“For rough comparisons, the 16 hp car engine could produce 12 kW of power…”
I think you may need to rethink that, too. I drive a Honda Insight, which is one of the lightest & most aerodynamic cars around. It takes (by my rough computations) about 17 hp to move it on a flat road at 60 mph. As it happens, I live in the Sierra Nevada, where flat roads are scarce, and it takes all of the 60-some hp the engine will produce to move it uphill at reasonable speed. That’s something that’s not going to be much affected by improvements in aerodynamics or rolling friction, it’s simply the energy needed to lift a mass against gravity.
“More to the point however, is the fact that coal is the fuel that most needs to be displaced…”
I don’t quite see how displacing coal with another fossil fuel is going to offer much improvement. I think there’d be much more room for improvement going the opposite way: PHEVs (with charging from PV panels on your roof or a covered parking lot, if possible) that use only limited quantities of liquid fuel for long trips or winter heat. Then work on removing coal generation from the grid, which should be easier because there are relatively few targets.
I understand your point about solar heating. That can and should reduce the opportunities for the distributed cogeneration. If all reasonable effort at reducing the need for heat is not first taken, then my argument for the efficiency of cogeneration makes no sense.
However the chart I refer to above by link tells us the amount of heat delivered to buildings. The most CO2 reduction we can hope for from insulation and solar heating is a fraction of the green bar. It is the remainder that leaves us something to work with as far as the electric cogeneration is concerned, and that fortunately has an efficiency multiplier of 2 or 3 that folds back as a reduction of coal usage for electric generation. Actually, there is an increase in natural gas to account for the double use of that fuel, that is, the first high temperature usage being for electricity generation which means there is a fraction of energy removed from the available heat energy for heating.
I am assuming as a ground rule that cars will be designed correctly, meaning that electric apparatus would be configured to provide the extra horsepower to get up the hill and the energy entailed in this would be given back when you went back down. Here is where electric systems are very useful since they do not necessitate calling on the heat engine, along with its ineffeciency and then dumping the energy through braking processes. Toyota seems to do this quite well with the Prius. And of course there are efficiency losses (maybe 10% to 20% each way). But these are nothing like the efficiency losses in heat engines (maybe 75% loss for the Insight engine) and the 100% loss in braking.
I hope to keep the Miastrada design light weight but probably it will not be much lighter than the Insight. However, the Insight aerodynamics is plagued with the ground effect and all the traditional car aerodynamic losses. Try as they might they have not broken with automobile industry tradition. I think their drag coefficient is about .26. Based on a .05 measured drag coefficient for the airship body and additions for the wheel trains the Miastrada Cd looks to be about .07. The Insight frontal area, again they are stuck with the idea that a car has to have double wide seating however cramped, is about 60% greater than the Miastrada with tandem seating and roomy driver compartment. So the Miastrada concept CdA is about a sixth that of the Insight.
Displacing coal with natural gas cuts the CO2 emitted by about a half. Again, look at the linked chart, Fig8, page 12 and you will see the gain dwarfs anything conceivable that could be done with insulation. I am quick to point out that this is meaningless in the face of fuel cost for natural gas being about five times that for coal. This is the motivation for the efficiency multiplier of two to three that cogeneration could provide. If we do this much then a fuel tax on coal of a reasonable amount could be politically feasible.
Assuming the PHEV actually gets charged from PV panels, nothing could be better. However, I remain pessimistic about the cost feasibility of PV panels added to the cost of PHEV batteries. I think we know that most PHEVs will end up getting charged from coal generated electricity. Again look at the linked Fig.8 and good luck trying to believe otherwise.
Imagine trying to get a coal fuel tax passed when Americans are driving around in plugged in Yukons loaded with batteries.
Do you have any idea how many BTU’s of energy are required just to heat a small room? It just is not practical. I called the master plumber and master electrician:)the engineering on this would cost more than just placing solar panels as well. Again if you can make it work, and somewhat marketable let me know, I will invest inn your company.
Heating air in a room is just the constant pressure specific heat for air times the temperature increment times the mass. Most of the heat would go into heating solid stuff such as the walls. It looks like my 2000 sq ft house, built when natural gas was almost free but upgraded where feasible, uses 20 MMBTU (200 therms) a month, 90% of which is for heat and 10% for water heating. This is in Sunnyvale California where it might or might not freeze a few days in the winter. Colder climates would be even better opportunities for cogeneration.
Note that making cogeneration nearly 100% efficient as an electric generating system just requires that all the heat is needed and used. So the need numbers just have to be greater than the supply since existing heat systems could still be used as supplementary heat. So for rough numbers, for my roughly 2000 sq ft house I use about 200 therms or 20 MMBTU (20 x 10^6)BTU in the winter and about 20 therms or 2 MMBTU in the summer (water heater). This means about .7 MMBTU and .07 MMBTU respectively per day, and if we pretend they run 7 hours a day it comes out .1 MMBTU/hr and .01 MMBTU/hr. 2570 BTU/hr is 1.0 hp (I checked.) Putting it in the most useful way, I use 40 hp of heat in the winter and 4 hp of heat in the summer.
So a heat engine at 40% conversion efficiency would put out the other 60% as waste heat. So a 26 hp engine would produce the 40 hp of heat rate that I need. For the postulated 7 hours of operation per day, we have 26 hp available for (1)car battery charging, (2) household electric power, and (3) for sale to the utility at !!!rates that might come close to competing with coal fuel cost.!!! I am assuming natural gas at about $6 per MMBTU.
Note that this system puts out two to three times as much electricity per unit of natural gas allocated to electricity production as the big central power plants. There is nothing magic; we just stop wasting heat energy by this system.
In the summer, it would need to run at 2.6 hp or of course, it could run at 26 hp a tenth of the time.
(Note that if the car engine was 20% efficient, as most are, then a 10 hp engine would put out the 40 hp of heat that I need in the winter. The implication of this last statement is that a car engine of 100 hp would put out way more than I could use, and would thus be described as inappropriately sized. Even the Prius is a little overpowered to work this way.)
So operation in the summer when only 4 hp of heat is needed for 7 hours, my proposed 16 hp car engine would put out 24 hp of heat. So its operating time would have to be cut down to a sixth of full time. Here we get to about an hour of operation a day. That is ok since it would come out to about the right amount of electricity generating time needed to charge the car batteries. The house and the grid would need to go on their own as far as electric power goes.
Doesn’t it sound like this system kind of works out to be practical in a lot of places?
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (3 February 2009 at 4:37 PM):
“Doesn’t it sound like this system kind of works out to be practical in a lot of places?”
Well… no. At least not if you consider other alternatives, and are thinking of Sunnyvale as one of the places where it’d be practical. In most of the Bay Area, you should be able to obtain essentially all of your heat & hot water from solar. If such systems were mass produced, as your car would be, it’d be far cheaper to install one than to buy a new car and modify your house to accept the cogen system, and your costs would be limited to occasional maintenance.
shows the heating trend over the last 50 years and the last 150 years. It is compelling and convincing. Word arguments can swirl around and around, while a graphic that properly displays information can end all debate (well, at least ending debate from those who have functioning and fair minds).
Re James #562
We see the costs differently. It is fundamental to the cogeneration system that the cost of the car is zero. This is expected since it would be the car you would buy when you needed to replace your old car. As it looks right now the car can be quite inexpensive, though this always depends on the trimmings added. I am expecting to use lead acid batteries for starters, and these are very cheap. This is very different for most of the planned electric systems for cars.
Nearly every house in the SF bay area has natural gas service and it is used not too differently from what I described. Of course it is possible to build a house that uses very little heat at night, but current building codes still leave quite a lot of heating load to the furnace. Beating these building codes requires considerable money. It is even more costly to try to retrofit houses. And even in Sunnyvale the sun does not shine at night, so there are some storage challenges. And it also depends on what is demanded in the way of comfort. But even if you are down to the cost of running a water heater, there is a use for some engine discarded heat. It just will not run for a long time, and in that case the electric power generated would just go to making the car run the next day. At least this would keep the car from being a load for coal to fill.
For an idea of the cost of plumbing, think of the little radiator in your car heating system. Something a little bigger than this would be in the plenum of your existing forced air furnace. This is just an example.
In general I think of the house not being replaced but the car will be.
Re jcbmack #563
The first task is to get the car working, and yes, it has to work on a low horsepower engine if the cogeneration concept is to work out. James noted that for level travel, even his Insight could get along on about 17hp. Uphill takes more but the batteries provide that additional load for uphill time, with expectation of getting much of it back. For the Miastrada car, the flat, steady 80mph operation only needs 12 hp. 16 hp is planned to give some reserve.
We have to not think of conventional cars here, which require a lot more power just to push air. Perhaps it is hard to believe that there can be such a difference; here we have to go back to the narrow car concept which enables the airship and why that airship is elevated.
I think the biggest question is whether the strange looking narrow car will sell.
It is clear that this is not going to be a fast moving project; as such, it probably will not be a candidate for investment for some time to come. I am only trying now to get some exposure for the ideas since the “getting used to it” factor is maybe the biggest problem.
With such low hp the vehicle loses marketability. With such a low top speed and uncertainties about the battery it loses any shareholder or private investor confidence. In physics, chemistry and engineering applications it is those batteries that require so much work and ultimately testing, this assumption on return of so much power on a steep hill is premature. The EV applications are more technologically feasible promising more hp and torque while not being overcomplicated by a cogeneration, heating system for homes. The appearance of the vehicle is the least of your problems from both engineering and marketing standpoints, but formidable ones as you and James concede. You need more hp for marketing purposes, Americans want some power, as do most other countries and you have so many ideas that are not doable or reasonably priced; the main faults are in the engineering problems that are NOT currently solved nor can be in the near for- seeable future.I admire your passion and commitment, but home heating is pretty cheap and there are other alternative options appearing that are more feasible: wind, solar, cleaner burning gas etc… We need to save the environment and fight global warming, but it does not seem very viable to buy 3 vehicles to carry a family and keep one hooked up to a house while they are away to keep it warm.
Look folks, with all this talk of good bank, bad bank, TARP, executive salary caps and free market fiasco’s, we need to rely upon green technologies well established, well applicable in engineering & technology, and somewhat accepted by the people as real livable alternatives. On the bright side in environmental science and climate research we now have good people qualified and skilled put in place with some real authority in their areas of specialty; on the dark side the credibility on other fronts of this administration is under attack and this can and WILL affect funding to all sectors including those that deal with conservation, green technologies, climate research, weatherization of homes and new jobs in green sectors. We do have old techniques that can be applied with newer technologies: concrete & steel production, (green)high power DC lines that now are more efficient than AC, proper usage of well placed wind mills, better, more efficient and smaller solar voltaic cells,etc… EV’s are 100% viable from an engineering standpoint, despite what anyone might claim, (Shaw and others) but we need to get the cost down. Hybrids are pretty damned good, and we can produce electricity cleaner,and those light bulbs do make a difference. This car of yours may be able to be modified, but the cogenertaion the way you outline it is not going to happen…ever. Still keep working at it, you may get to an answer just the same.
I did not mean to suggest a low top speed. 100 mph and more should be expected. Batteries and electric motors are sized for 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds.
I use 80 mph as a basic speed for horsepower calculations. It works out that only 12 hp is needed for that speed. That is a good thing. Getting around fast is the number one requirement. Getting this done efficiently means low horsepower needs. The engine just needs to exceed that.
The battery need here is unlike that which most are talking about for electric cars. These folks need a lot of battery capacity since they do very little about their vehicle’s need for energy.
Putting out 12 hp for one hour gets you 80 miles. For that range you need 12 hphr or 9kWhr from the batteries. Lead-acid battery technology was quite well settled a hundred years ago, but with some advances the deep discharge batteries from Costco are rated such that they should put out 50 amps for one hour. (25 amps for 150 minutes is the actual specification.) Two banks of 8 batteries gets you 96 times 2 in voltage, so we should get more than the needed 9 kWhr. These two banks of batteries fit in the wheel trains, in compartments between the wheels.
This of course does nothing at all similar to what we typically expect of cars, except for speed, comfort, safety, and convenience. And I even add that people get a little ego support from riding in a commanding position in the elevated vehicle so as to look down on many other cars.
Back to heating the house: The car is not required to do that. But much of the time, such as from 6pm to midnight, cars are typically near their respective households. Then the need to burn fuel in the house would be reduced to the degree that the car heat could fill the need. When the car is away from home, the situation reverts to the house getting its heat entirely from burning natural gas in the conventional way.
I like your point about “green technologies, well applicable” but think that there are some myths out there about a lot of these.
Some things that sound good, I am just not so sure about, but would be glad to be convinced.
A few examples:
Wind: Although it was on a smaller scale relative to now, the wind farms of the 1970s were largely fakes, designed more to suck money out of subsidies than to really produce energy. Even still, they should be working to at least show the path to something better. But half a dozen times a year I drive over Altamont Pass in California, which might be the best place on earth for wind energy, and nearly every time most of these are idle. Why was the promise of these not fulfilled. Another data point Ontario province power generation schedule which shows wind farms producing energy, but at less than half their capacity at best. (See http://reports.ieso.ca/public/GenOutputCapability/PUB_GenOutputCapability This is a remarkable site for its forthright honesty unlike anything I can find for California. Anytime anyone makes assertions about power generation, it is a good place to check. Sure, Ontario is not California, but it is not all that different in the mix of sources either.) So I checked and today, they only came up to about a third of capacity and then fell back to about a sixth.
On the subject of the Ontario Power production, they have a few industrial cogeneration sites that run on natural gas, and these are the ones that run steadily. My guess is that it is practical for them to do so.
(2) Concentrated solar: Seems like a great idea, but there is something amiss in the reality. Maybe the Sterling engines are not really practical? A huge investment in the 1990s was shut down as not economically viable.
(3) Solar heating: These work great for our neighborhood swimming pool in the summer, but all those that used to be on roof tops are in disrepair or gone. Even this simple stuff has to be kept up. So no, it is not cost free.
(4) PV solar: I have tried to keep up with this technology for many years, and a few months ago I was encouraged by the Cadmium Teluride panel technology. Even though this seems to be a cost breakthrough it takes more area to make it produce enough. The upshot was that the company licensed for this refused to come out and give me an estimate on the basis that there were a couple trees that would cut down morning and evening sun exposure. The general conclusion that $20 to $40 thousand is the installed cost of a meaningful system still seems valid.
The story goes on, but my general conclusion is that the “green technologies” are not so well established as we are led to believe by those promoting them.
It seems that the basic equipment of most if not all of these is really quite capital intensive.
Although it is not absolutely proven, I think the cogeneration concept has a very low capital requirement, relatively speaking.
Whether or not the cogeneration concept is viable, I think the high efficiency car could well be. In fact, for those who think a car can be powered by solar PV power, they would have a much more viable situation on their hands if the car only needed 9 kWhr to go 80 miles fast. A 2kW peak panel system should get the job done on most days. Even that will cost $10 to $20 thousand but at least we are getting closer to feasibility.
( THE CAPTCHA words say “be humble”. I say, the heck with that.)
there is always risk involved in any business, investment, marketing venture. This is especially true when it comes to newer technologies where the sharks come out to make a fast buck without actual sincere concern for the actual basis for such an improvement or whether it ultimately works or not. Think of tax write offs, bankruptcy protection and a temporary increase in jobs. In the case of wind mills, yes they were off to a slow start and even now many people get too ambitious with them and want to turn a billion dollars into 10-15 billion dollars without proper independent oversight, engineering and placement issues carefully thought through, and time constraints largely ignored. Wind mills can be very efficient and in some cases are used correctly and efficiently. Mainly, what stops wind mills is voters and too much spending where it is not necessary. The technology is very sound nowadays. An EV can absolutely hit 100 plus mph and go 300 plus miles on a charge, but car companies do not want this neither does the oil industry, though the opportunities are beginning to appear as there is a greater sense of urgency and marketing trends meet with the Obama image and symbology. Hybrids are not what EV’s could have been, but they are getting real efficient and are more viable. Home heating is still dirt cheap even when paying a little more for alternative heating sources. Electricity is plentiful. I think cogeneration will get very expensive based upon the money needed to invest just to make cogeneration efficient enough and marketable. The technology has come a long way, I suggest you grab some of those engineering books and manuals available. Britannica also offers many interesting insights into heat transfer, batteries, hybrids, solar panels, material chemistry and physics.
Also Infinite Energy is an interesting publication you may want to check out.
Cogeneration is actually your biggest challenge, let me know about your ideas based on science, math and engineering on how to solve those issues.
Now on that note I am busy with work and research so I wish you good luck. I recommend Britannica and not wikipedia because wikipedia is an open format encyclopedia which stresses the wrong areas on a given subject even when it is not inaccurate. I also suggest you get your hands on engineering journals and take a loo at how you are going to get that plumbing and electrical work to work in synergy smoothly.
Britannica stresses the right areas of focus and gives enough details to get started and then reference specialty textbooks and applicable journals. Again good luck! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or drop a comment on my blog climateoverdrive.org
At the industrial level, cogeneration is common practice. If you have the main machinery present for other reasons, at least for first order analysis, the system is free. None of the sustainable electric producing methods have that advantage. The system I suggest is a simple scaled version of industrial systems.
I rely a lot on experimental data to give me confidence that a car can be as efficient as I say. For example is the drag data for the airship. Perhaps the definitive measurements on that airship are reported in http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930091505_1993091505.pdf. This 1933 report by Freeman needs to be read with a realization that they formulated the drag force equation based on a different definition of drag coefficient than is now standards in fluid dynamics. That is, instead of frontal area, they use volume to the 2/3 power. Consequently the measured Cd of .02 is more like .05 in current literature.
You can read this report either by searching at the NASA reports server or using the link.
“Putting out 12 hp for one hour gets you 80 miles.”
On level ground. Suppose you need to climb from sea level to 8500 ft in those 80 miles? (Not an unrealistic example: at one time I was doing it once every couple of weeks.)
“But half a dozen times a year I drive over Altamont Pass in California, which might be the best place on earth for wind energy, and nearly every time most of these are idle.”
What time of day? That drive also took me over Altamont, often enough to know that while the winds are fairly light in the morning & early afternoon, they really pick up after dark.
“At the industrial level, cogeneration is common practice. If you have the main machinery present for other reasons, at least for first order analysis, the system is free.”
Your system, though, is almost the opposite of standard industrial cogeneration. Rather than having the equipment (or more usually, the heat source) present, so that you get useful energy out of what would otherwise be wasted, you’re driving in a fairly expensive piece of equipment that uses a resource at less than best efficiency. It’d be more efficient to use a purpose-built home heating system (which you’d need anyway, for times the car’s away), than to waste part of the energy content of the heating fuel in driving an electric generator.
James (576), a curious aside: Does that mean the wind turbines at Altamont Pass generate most of their power when it is least needed and don’t generate much when it is needed? Or is there some mechanisms that allow better efficiency there?
However the answer to your question appears to be “no” (wikipedia):
An advantage of this particular site is that under hot inland (California Central Valley) conditions a thermal low is developed that brings in cool coastal marine air through this pass, driving the turbines at a time of maximum need. Unfortunately this is not always reliable and with an inland high pressure condition the entire region can be both hot and windless. At this time additional power is provided by natural gas powered gas turbine peaker plants. Future development of solar power stations may provide a complementary source of renewable energy, because summertime heat events often feature abundant sunshine to compensate for the low winds.
Rod B: I can’t do more than guess at how the wind patterns at Altamont match up with demand. I have only the experience of driving I580/205 every week or two for a couple of years. Mornings and early afternoons (when I tried to do the eastbound) there was seldom much wind; late evening up to midnight, when I’d usually be headed westbound, I’d usually be pushing into a substantial headwind, and if there was enough moon I could see the turbines whirring away.
But in any case, the power generated at Altamont is only a fraction of demand, so it would be used whenever generated.
That is a great question, though most people do not actually make such a climb. My weight budget is 2400 lb. So lifting that 8500 ft requires 20.4 x 10^6 ftlb and doing that in an hour makes it very easy to calculate since it makes the units into ftlb/hr. Divide by 3600 to get into ftlb/sec and use the definition that 1 hp = 550 ftlb/sec. Answer: 10.3 hp. That puts us at 22 hp needed for constant speed operation at 80 mph. With a 16 hp engine and batteries half charged you could get to that 8500 ft peak with no problem. If you went down hill to Lake Tahoe level you would get back some charge; isn’t Lake Tahoe 5000 ft? Anyway, these numbers seem quite encouraging. Of course they are rough calculations, but there seems to be enough margin in the story to make things work.
Your Honda Insight has to work harder since it faces four times the air drag, and this forces you to work the engine a lot harder to keep speed at 80 mph. (Fd = Cd x A x .0012 x V^2) Force is in lb, Area, A, is in ft^2 and V, velocity, is in ft/sec.)
Also re Rod B and dhogaza,
Yes the wind goes up significantly at late afternoon and evening hours. Maybe it is still going an hour after dark, but judging from the wind on SF bay, its all over before long.
Yes they have learned some things about siting for wind farms. Everyone knew that Altamont pass had wind so not much needed to be learned. A more general idea of wind potential can be seen for the example Ontario Canada at
This data is ground truth, unlike anything I can find for California. Ontario had a very ambitious wind program over the last ten years so it can be thought of as fairly up to date information, at least for that region.
OK, let’s look at that calculation a different way. It’s not a constant climb, but sections of different grades (even the occasional downhill). The maximum grade you’re likely to see on a major highway is 7% (though I’ve biked up grades of 18% or more in Europe – and been passed by grey-haired Swiss couples carrying their weekly shopping :-() Just lifting a 2400 lb car up that grade at 60 mph takes an input power of 14,764 ft-lb/sec, or 26.9 hp, over & above what it takes to drive on the level. So unless my math’s off, you’d need about 40 hp for acceptable performance.
That’s also assuming you’ve got an electric drive, so no issues with the car being geared properly, so as to get into the max power range at the desired speed. That’s one area where I admit the Insight suffers: it really needs an extra gear or two for mountain driving.
I do agree with your point about the downhills. Though Tahoe is at about 6228 ft (lake level varies a few feet, depending on season and precipitation), I live around 5000. It irritates me no end to have to burn gas to climb the hills, then waste all that energy in braking on the downhill side.
While I have to admire your moxy, you appear to have ignored a significant amount of motor vehicle engineering.
One area where you seem most at risk of running into a brick wall has to do with both motor size and the choice of battery technologies. Yes, lead-acid is very cheap — I own about half a ton of them and I didn’t go greatly into debt. But that half ton of flooded lead-acid batteries is much heavier than the comparable weight of any reasonable modern technology.
Now for a bit of math. A 16 HP DC motor takes no less than 12KW to operate. 12KWH of lead-acid is about 600 pounds (computed for GC2 class flooded lead-acid traction batteries). Care to do the math to turn the acceleration of that mass (do not quibble that pounds are force!) into power? That’s where the problem is going to be — the power required to ACCELERATE a mass is huge compared to highly aerodynamic bodies moving against wind resistance. Hint: the integral of power with respect to time is equal to the mass times velocity (someone check my ancient math skills — it’s 1AM and I’m not going to drink coffee to improve my math skills).
You’re fighting against yourself — lower the drag to reduce engine size, and you lose acceleration due to reduced engine size. Assuming a 1,000 pound car with zero rolling and wind resistance, a 1HP engine CAN accelerate it to freeway speeds. Eventually. 1,000 pounds at 88 ft/s (60MPH) is 88,000 ft-lb / s, or 160 seconds at 1HP (550 lb-ft / s). My motorcycle has a 27HP DC motor and is about 700 pounds with vehicle and rider and it greatly reduces battery power going from a standing start to 60MPH on the freeway — and that’s just 27HP to move what would be the mass of a 12KWH battery pack, which was sized based on a 16HP motor operating for one hour. Getting that same 1,000 pound car to 88,000 ft-lb / s in 15 seconds is 11HP, assuming 100% efficiency and both zero rolling and wind resistance. Starting to see the problem?
Proper electric vehicle design takes more than looking at power to overcome drag on a level road at a constant speed. You have to consider all modes of operation on all foreseeable terrains.
(As a side note, I’ve read hundreds of patents and applications and yours looks to be self-filed. Care to share a little bit about how you filed?)
Exactly my point, the car will not work. And all that engineering and math can be found in Britannica to show why. As can introductory engineering courses:)Dhogaza thanks for your much needed post…been very busy lately.
I am not sure but I think you unnecessarily complicated the problem with the grade question. The only thing that counts is how fast you gain altitude, that altitude gain being 8500/5280 miles. So you are only going up 1.7 miles. If you do it in an hour that is only 1.7 mph. The 60 mph speed is not applicable; for example it could be 600 mph and you could go down to Bakersfield on the way to that 8500 peak, and the vertical rate of motion would still be 1.7 mph. Problems have to be easy for someone my age.
Acceleration is indeed the biggest load on the motors. I use 4 dc motors that are rated for about 18 hp each continuous. But these can be operated at a much higher horsepower for 8 seconds which is the time requirement for getting from zero to 60 mph. Things get a little hot if you use the motors to brake back to zero, and repeat this over and over without a break. But your conventional car brakes will have a little trouble with this kind of usage as well.
I have not sorted out the diffences in the way we calculate things, but you are getting numbers that seem similar to mine. But your point is well taken that the load is significant. This really shows how electric motors can really be used to advantage as does the point Steve made about climbing loads. Where they are used like this as load levelers in conjunction with an internal combustion engine that is highly optimized for a fixed load, the system can be very efficient. (This is not my idea; Toyota worked this out quite effectively with the Prius.)
I have a fair amount of practice in self-filing patents. Hopefully they are not too clumsy. This one was a real struggle with the first examiner, and the process made it probably better but it seemed to come out unnecessarily awkward. Anyway, I found the book by Pressman, “Patent It Yourself”, to be very useful.
I should say that while I am working out the design for the demonstration car using lead acid batteries, there is no constraint that would restrict the car to this very heavy type. Things can only get better as better batteries come along. But I do not think that batteries that cost upwards of $10,000 are viable as part of a practical system. The other reason for choosing to work with a $1000 set of batteries is that we are only talking about a concept demonstration at this time. I think this is how things have to be to get something really new started.
“I am not sure but I think you unnecessarily complicated the problem with the grade question. The only thing that counts is how fast you gain altitude…”
One of us (though I don’t rule out both) is obviously missing something. While you need the same amount of energy to raise a mass a given distance, the power required depends – by definition – on the time taken. Isn’t it obvious that the power needed to maintain speed on a grade increases with the steepness of the grade? If you stretch out an 8500 ft climb over a thousand miles, you won’t even notice it – it’d be about like driving from Omaha to Denver. Now try to do it in one mile…
The point I was trying to make is about driving on a real highway. That particular route’s one I know well, and the climb makes it a pretty good test case for whether a car’s drivable in reasonable conditions. Maybe I wasn’t being explicit enough when I just said that it climbs about 8500 ft in 80 miles, because the climb isn’t a smooth grade. There are some fairly steep parts, some less so, and even several substantial downhill sections. To be drivable (to my taste, anyway), a car has to be able to maintain speed on the steepest parts, which is going to require a certain power output.
I think the point of the discussion is that what you’ve described is not a workable vehicle. For one thing, while having 4 18HP motors is a much better way of making sure the vehicle moves right along, you’re starting to complicate a system which must have “gets me home” as a failure path. I know what $1,000 will buy in batteries — $1,000 is about 10KWH in reasonable quality traction batteries and that’s not enough to move all that far down the road. I hope you didn’t buy $1,000 of SLI batteries — they are cheaper than deep cycle and traction batteries, but the plates will warp the first time you try getting any kind of power for any length of time out of them.
This ignores other factors like sprung versus unsprung weight, system complexity, safety, jack-knifing, and so on. Not sure why something having a body like your design above an F-1 type suspension wouldn’t be better. Sure, you win big with low Cd on the body, but the size and complexity of what’s below looks like it can’t be all that practical on anything other than a pristine road. Three points define a plane, and you look to have about 6 wheels or so.
The proof is in the pudding, so I’ll wait to see what it looks like when your done.
Those who think that weight reduction is where most progress can be made are starting with the assumption that the basic car form is an absolute requirement. I make a huge break with that rule so that all the assumptions have to be reconsidered. A well known expert named Amory Lovins touts a “Hypercar” concept. He thinks this is the ultimate car. And he thinks that weight reduction is the path to great progress. He is wrong in his emphasis. If you look at his Hypercar you will see that he is still stuck on the wide, flat bottomed, four wheel vehicle as a basic starting point. He is unable to rise above the idea that people have to sit side by side in a car. On this basis, weight reduction is the only thing left.
My approach is to start with a thin car where tandem seating is the starting point. Then the breakthrough was the combination of steering and stabilization that made the dynamic operation work for this thin arrangement. I originally expected this would cut air drag force in half, assuming reasonable aerodynamic provisions. However, I was surprised to find that a whole separate breakthrough was possible using an elevated airship configuration. Everything about cars has to be reconsidered.
The stabilizing and steering system is accomplished with an articulated vehicle which flexes about two axes. The six wheels stay on the ground due to this flexible arrangement.
Actually the weight budget I am working to is 2400 lb and actual results could go over. For freeway travel, assuming it is moving ok, aerodynamic drag force is far more important than rolling resistance. Of these resistance forces, only rolling resistance has anything to do with weight. And this is mostly due to tires which are usually about have a rolling resistance coefficient of about .01. There are a few that do a lot better, one production tire is .0065 according to reports that seem reliable. Drag force due to rolling resistance is that rolling resistance coefficient times the weight. It does not matter much how many tires you have since the whole weight of the vehicle times the rolling resistance coefficient gives the overall rolling resistance drag force.
I made a mistake in saying “I am not sure.” and
Come on all of you. Dust off those freshman physics books. All you need to read is the F=ma chapter. Well, while you have them out take a look a the chapter on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Britanica is fine but a lot harder to drag around like I dragged my Sears and Zemansky text through all my work history.
I like the MIT physics text by Sears which was popular for a couple generations around my time. All you need to remember about the Second Law is the Carnot efficiency equation which he says is a “corollary” to that Second Law. However, he discusses practical implications to heat engines in general. I picked up a couple more recent freshman physics texts and was a little concerned at how badly this subject was handled. No wonder most people think central power plants are a good way to make electricity–and think I am nuts for talking about changing this to a distributed cogeneration system.
“No wonder most people think central power plants are a good way to make electricity–and think I am nuts for talking about changing this to a distributed cogeneration system.”
I think you may be missing the point there. It’s not the distributed part that’s the problem, but the cogeneration part. Distributed generation is fine if it’s a bunch of PV panels on roofs, wind turbines in back yards, dairy farms generating power from cow gas, or anything that doesn’t emit more fossil CO2. But you’re inventing a system that uses fossil fuels to produce domestic power at much lower efficiency than at central generating stations, and in the process locking in even more fossil fuel burning. What’s needed is to move every system possible away from that.
On the question of wide, flat-bottomed cars vs your “dirigible” design, being low to the ground is a big factor in making cars more fun to drive, which in turn gets people to buy them.
Did you ever ask yourself why is it fun to drive low to the ground?
Even the market shows otherwise. Look at 100 years of automotive history and you will see that low cars do not usually make it in a large way. My conclusion is that when all the talk is over, people really do not like to ride puny. In fact, I think it may turn out that riding tall wins.
Is there anything really more silly than using cow gas? How much power do you really think you can get from a few cows? As you drive past Harris Ranch, you might see enough cows to make a little energy; have fun collecting it. It would cost something to get me to do it. I lived some, not much, of my life on a farm
I can not comprehend why you think central power plants are all that efficient, except perhaps that electric power companies tell us they are. Their designers are faced with the same problem of making too much NOx when they get the temperature too high that internal combustion engine designers face. And there is no use made of the discharged heat at all. And I can not see why you do not see the advantage of a 16 hp engine, free because it is in the car you would, could, should have anyway, hooked to household heat using devices. The electrical generation efficiency in the cogeneration is 100% as long as all the heat discharged from that engine is used in place of heat that would have been made by burning natural gas. The key: no energy is wasted.
But you correctly point out how people think. Auto fashion and misleading information about power plants is the basis of our technical decisions. I am trying to say that now is the time to try to rethink some of our assumptions.
Freshman physics will not solve these problems either I am afraid. The electric motor is the most powerful engine period, this much is true. Actually freshman physics explains why these vehicles will not work. What I wonder, Jim is can you extrapolate from both the freshman physics textbooks and more advanced ones why these vehicles are feasible? What are the working equations, units, laws, and theories involved? How can one reconcile the physics with engineering problems? Between PPRUNE and work-wife I have been busy as of late, but I am curious what you mean these textbooks delineate answers to many problems you are faced with and questions we have asked.
**All this makes it difficult for many to recall that in the 1970s “a major cooling of the planet” was “widely considered inevitable” because it was “well established” that the Northern Hemisphere’s climate “has been getting cooler since about 1950” (The New York Times, May 21, 1975).
Although some disputed that the “cooling trend” could result in “a return to another ice age” (The Times, Sept. 14, 1975), others expected “a full-blown 10,000-year ice age” involving “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation” (Science News, March 1, 1975, and Science magazine, Dec. 10, 1976). The “continued rapid cooling of the Earth” (Global Ecology, 1971) meant that “a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery” (International Wildlife, July 1975). Because of “ominous signs” that “the Earth’s climate seems to be cooling down,” meteorologists were “almost unanimous” that “the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century,” perhaps triggering catastrophic famines (Newsweek cover story, “The Cooling World,” April 28, 1975).
Armadillos were fleeing south from Nebraska, heat-seeking snails were retreating from central European forests, the North Atlantic was “cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool,” glaciers had “begun to advance” and “growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter” (Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 27, 1974).
Speaking of experts, in 1980 Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford scientist and environmental Cassandra who predicted calamitous food shortages by 1990, accepted a bet with economist Julian Simon. When Ehrlich predicted the imminent exhaustion of many non-renewable natural resources, Simon challenged him: Pick a “basket” of any five such commodities, and I will wager that in a decade the price of the basket will decline, indicating decreased scarcity. Ehrlich picked five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — that he predicted would become more expensive. Not only did the price of the basket decline, the price of all five declined.
An expert Ehrlich consulted in picking the five was John Holdren, who today is President Obama’s science adviser. Credentialed intellectuals illustrate Montaigne’s axiom: “Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know.”**
He goes on to point out that “environment” has taken back seat to economy in voter’s minds. He ends with:
**Besides, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare.**
Information is needed for letter writers, bloggers, and anyone else interested in replying to the misrepresentations in this material.
I linked my 9 months out-of-date website that I NEED to get back to. Kansas legislature is considering the building of another power plant again, possibly stripping the Governor’s office ruling that considers carbon dioxide a pollutant and denies a power plant permit.
The Kansas legislature largely holds beliefs similar to the Will presentation, and takes seriously the misinformation and misrepresentations from the media. They will use this misinformation in their policy decision making. There are many in the legislature who are more careful in their study — I do not mean to berate Kansas legislators as a class. Rather I fear that they are victims of the politics and media system we have.
Your site has a wealth of useful information, and my previous post is a request for help as it can be given, not a statement that you all are not doing a wonderful job. Thanks so much.
Sorry to be slow to respond. Yes, Britanica will take this into several areas that are needed beyond basic physics. I was mostly thinking about definitions of work, power, etc, and the fact that energy needed to increase elevation can be considered separately from the energy needed to travel horizontally.
Before focusing on technical relationships per se, maybe it would be more interesting to relate this to the concept a bit more.
Originally it was intended to find a way to make a narrow vehicle which led to a combined steering and stabilizing system in an articulated vehicle. There are many variations possible based on the resulting wheel system which was the starting point for the present Miastrada configuration. The basic concept that motivated the steering and stabilizing system was driven by my perceived need to make more cars fit on roads and in parking spaces. By making the car half wide, it seemed that there would be a gain in fuel efficiency. The fundamental physics relationship between velocity and radial acceleration gives the performance requirements for the stabilizing system that would make this work.
A second part of the development was to fit this with an aerodynamic body. That turned out to be a huge benefit that was much more than initially expected.
The same kind of thinking that led to SWATH ship (Small Waterplane Area, Twin Hull) configurations led to my enthusiasm for the elevated airship that is now the baseline Miastrada concept. The struts that allowed the hulls of the SWATH ships to interact with the water in a way that circumvented the Kelvin wave problem that limits performance of displacement hull of typical surface ships was kind of turned upside down to allow the airship to function aerodynamically as if it was functioning in free flow conditions. The basic character of the SWATH ship pays off by eliminating the well known “hull speed” that sets a practical limit to ship speed.
A variation of the SWATH ship can be seen at Wikipedia by searching on “Sea Shadow”, though that version has other features that are given more emphasis. Other SWATH ships have been in existence that are more simple demonstrations of the hulls under water but connected by struts to the above water parts of the ship.
It has been suggested that a hovercraft concept could also avoid the hull speed limitation on the water, but for road operation that concept seems inferior to a wheel system where wheels cause relatively low drag resistance, if done right. The hovercraft requires significant energy to keep the air cushion effect going, whether the vehicle is moving or not; and it works best if the base surface is quite smooth.
Miastrada is now configured based on the USS Akron airship as scale model tested in 1933 (Freeman 1933 NACA reports) as the ZRS-4. The remarkably low air drag is so very different from the usual bluff body that is the standard car, it has to be implemented in a useful form. Instead of struts as in the SWATH waterships, Miastrada uses posts and stays, more like arrangements that make sailboat masts and stays very effective in handling special kinds of forces. Such post and stay construction appears to quite adequately maintain free flow aerodynamic conditions, which are critical. I particularly base my confidence in this on the work of Morelli, 1983 where it is adapted in particular to the elevated airship instead of the form he used.
I proved you right, this is not in basic physics texts.
If you link to the current patent page at http://www.miastrada.com you will see the recently published patent application that shows the wheel system in more detail. However, while the original vehicle patent disclosed vehicle variations that could be interesting in off road applications the real payoff of the high efficiency airship based body comes at highway speeds that would probably not be so relevant for off road use.
There is often a reaction to the “design” which seems to refer to appearance aspects of the design. Yes, that is a barrier to widespread acceptance. Without a strong motivation from high fuel prices, it will be hard to overcome this barrier. Hence, the time might not yet be right. There may be some design work that could help make the visual appeal better, but it has to take a far back seat to technological function design. I have no interest in such efforts which I worry might wrongly shift the emphasis from performance to fashion appeal.
Because the vehicle I show looks very different, a common reaction is that it will entail “a hefty development price” I do not see this as being so hefty, but at the same time, I have to acknowledge that Miastrada is still in the experimental category, and may evolve somewhat before it gets finalized. That is ok, and maybe the timing will work out such that high priced gasoline will return when the car is ready.
Yes, furry, there is work to be done to prove “the pudding.”
Best regards and thanks for the questions.
But again I assert that solutions to global warming such as this could lead to much progress.