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  1. Well done! (but past tense is “misled”.)

    [Response: Actually both versions are acceptable, but I changed it above for clarity. - gavin]

    Comment by Brian Brademeyer — 28 Feb 2009 @ 3:51 PM

  2. Well…eh. I take the point, but it’s not as though Manzi is fountain of good ideas on this issue. That is, it’s not really enough to assume that if conservatives stop lying about science that they’ll actually play some form of constructive, oppositional policy role. Sorry to sound dour, but the fact is that this is a culture war issue, and moving reactionaries like Will away from their misstatements on the basic research won’t really alter the dialogue in any meaningful way. Of course, the pushback toward Will is absolutely critical, because it marginalizes his voice (or allows him to marginalize himself). But let’s not pretend that there’s some universe in which he actually reforms himself into an honest broker.

    [Response: I said it was a naively optimistic moment. But there are conservative voices who are calling for more constructive engagement on the issues - though they seem to be noticeable by their absence this week. Of course, it is much easier to be reflexively contrarian. But if the Economist can make the transition, so can others. - gavin]

    Comment by Jimbo — 28 Feb 2009 @ 4:07 PM

  3. I am afraid that there are many on the right (and not a few on the left) that have given up any belief in objective reality. For instance, I rather doubt Dick Cheney and reality have even exchanged holiday greetings in decades. What strikes me is how little faith the captains of Industry seem to have in capitalism to resolve difficult issues like climate change. Gavin, your allusion to The Economist is highly relevant. The Economist is one of my favorite news sources. I don’t always agree with them, but they are firmly in the reality-based community–both scientifically and economically. In that sense, they represent a conservative tradition that rags like the WSJ and the Financial Post seem to have abandoned utterly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2009 @ 4:42 PM

  4. Big picture – isn’t it correct that the global ice extent as of 12/31/2008 is near to the global ice extent as of 12/31/1979? Given that some scientists were predicting an ice free North pole in 2008, I think the thrust of the article correctly points out that maybe the global ice level isn’t all that different than it was in 1979.

    [Response: The 'big picture' is that Arctic ice is on a very clear downward trend, particularly in summer and no amount of cherry picking of individual days, subtle jumping from Arctic to global as if I wouldn't notice, and restatements of exactly the same incorrect 'factoid' as Will, go any distance towards refuting that. - gavin]

    Comment by RickA — 28 Feb 2009 @ 5:27 PM

  5. I happy to say that, through the auspices of Media Matters, I was one of many people who lambsted George Will (whose Intelligence I’ve always admired; which I pointed out, as you catch more files with Honey….) and The Washington Post; and that I suggested the Post forward the RealClimate website directly to George Wills Favorites File; while ‘stroking’ the old “I hate to see such a SMART Fellow, make such STUPID Comments, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc. etc.”!!!
    Though you may be too busy to need much more on your plate, Gavin, et al, I suugest that you – and anyone who reads this comment – subscribe to Media Matters; they always have something pertinent to say or to ask US to do; with this matter being a case in point!

    Comment by James Staples — 28 Feb 2009 @ 5:33 PM

  6. I’m gonna have to re-examine some of George’s many baseball opines in light of this…especially anything involving numbers.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 28 Feb 2009 @ 6:56 PM

  7. I’m gonna have to re-examine some of George’s many baseball opines in light of this…especially anything involving numbers.

    Hmmm … wanna bet he was a steroids denialist back in the McGuire/Sosa home run fiesta days?

    Comment by dhogaza — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:06 PM

  8. Big picture – isn’t it correct that the global ice extent as of 12/31/2008 is near to the global ice extent as of 12/31/1979? Given that some scientists were predicting an ice free North pole in 2008,

    Scientists quibble over estimates of when the Arctic Ocean will be ice free IN SUMMER.

    12/31 might be summer in Antarctica, but not in the Arctic Ocean…

    Comment by dhogaza — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:08 PM

  9. Political hacks are like computers, you have to punch facts into them.

    Despite all these psudeo-skeptical hacks there has been a massive world-wide political shift that has occured over the last decade or so, much of it recently. People like Will, Bolt, Ball, Devine, etc, are losing ground faster than Saddam’s army. The general public may not remeber all the in’s and out’s of the debate but they do remeber when someone has lied to them.

    Politicians who dissmiss AGW out of hand are now an endagered species. So much so that here in Oz the conservative opposition is now in a bidding war with the government to “do something” about AGW. They are pushing biochar as an alternative solution to a (watered down) ETS, they haven’t yet admitted that for biochar to be a commercial success carbon needs to have a price but acknowlement of the problem as a bipartisan issue is the first step on the road to recovery.

    Never has a Nobel peace prize been more unexpected or deserved than in the case of the IPCC. In particular Mr Mann’s cleverly named hockey stick while only a small part of the science has played a signifigant role in the aformentioned political shift. The dogged determination of realclimate to inform and encourage intellectually honest debate serves as a model of what opinion columns might look like in an alternate universe where politicians and the press work with science rather than against it.

    Captcha word for this post, “outrage” :o

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:15 PM

  10. I don’t know Gavin, I read both of Will’s column and the ombudsman’s. While Will may have made a mistake he did more or less explain how it happened. And considering most journalists wouldn’t know that data like this often get released as preliminary and then a final number that may be different, it’s not surprising he didn’t go back and double check.
    [edit]

    Comment by Andy — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:17 PM

  11. “What strikes me is how little faith the captains of Industry seem to have in capitalism to resolve difficult issues like climate change.”

    Hi Ray Ladbury,

    I am interested in this statement, could you please give some examples and give a bit more explanation. It’s not an attack or anything of the sort. I am trying to write a book about this at the moment. Thank you. Will (Ireland)

    Comment by Will Denayer — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:23 PM

  12. Will won!

    My neighbor can still take a print-out of Will’s original column out of his pocket and say, “See! The Washington Post says we still have as much ice as we had in 1979. Global warming is a HOAX!” My neighbor has the “facts” that he wants with a Washington Post stamp of approval.

    Did anyone other than the WaPo pay Will to write that column? My inference is that only a big payoff could make someone so oblivious to reality. (My neighbor works in the auto industry.)

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:41 PM

  13. I have read a tremendous amount of opinions on all of these type of sites, and I have yet to have one person explain the changes in the earths climate (not Weather) when there was no humans much less industrialized nations as we have now. It seems such a simple question, but all I ever hear or read is some lame avoidance of a real answer. Please enlighten me. No ridicule please just good answer.

    Comment by Mitch — 28 Feb 2009 @ 7:56 PM

  14. Mitch writes:
    > I have read a tremendous amount of opinions ….

    There’s your problem.

    Try the science.

    “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”

    – attributed to Hippocrates, though nobody’s sure who said it first.

    I’d suggest:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/04/a_teenager_doesnt_believe_global_warming.php#comment-838858

    Start Here link at the top of every RealClimate page

    History, at the first link under Science, right sidebar, every RC page

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2009 @ 8:17 PM

  15. Mitch (13) — The linked article might be what you want.

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

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Feb 2009 @ 8:54 PM

  16. Mitch said: “Please enlighten me. No ridicule please just good answer.”

    While the contributors to RealClimate no doubt can be a source of enlightenment with regards to climate (which I absorb and appreciate), I’m wondering if that will be sufficient?

    In other words, what are you (Mitch) really wanting? Ultimately we all have to accept that scientific endeavors exist because we don’t know the final and complete answers to all questions; that is why more research is conducted and science as a human undertaking is not finished.

    An inference is often used in various denier arguments, that if science doesn’t have an answer to all the questions relating to a particular subject, then any answer that science does have to any specific question is somehow suspect.

    The problem with accepting such inference (and with promoting it) is that the knowledge that is gathered is diminished in value too much.

    There are so many websites on climatology that I could spend all day for the rest of my life reading up on the subject! Mitch – please go read about paleoclimatology and form some specific, pointy questions, then bring those questions to people who can answer them (as on this website.) Then we can all benefit from directed inquiry and enlightened answers.

    Comment by SamWeiss — 28 Feb 2009 @ 9:49 PM

  17. Mitch, where have you been looking? Much of the variability has to do with changes in Earth’s orbit, precession and orientation, collectively as Milankovitch Cycles. Other periods of change had to do with episodes of volcanism. We actually understand quite a bit about changes in the paleoclimate.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PETM

    Do you have questions about a specific epoch?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2009 @ 9:51 PM

  18. Will Denayer, I am referring to the Editorial page of the Wall Street Urinal as well as that of Canada’s Financial Post, where denialism still reign. It seems to me that those crowing most loudly about the superiority of capitalism are the very ones shrinking away from dealing with the reality of climate change.

    In fairness, John Mashey has admonished me that not all capitalists are such shrinking violets–that there are plenty of folks in Silicon Valley committed to facing the problem of climate change head on. Perhaps so. But I do not see them holding editors and politicians to account. The cowardice of the WSJ is all the more glaring when compared to the steadfast realism of The Economist.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2009 @ 9:59 PM

  19. Mitch (comment #13)

    I don’t know which particular climate changes you are interested in, but I suggest you pick up a copy of a good climate textbook such as The Earth System by Lee R. Kump, James F. Kasting, and Robert G. Crane. When you’ve read the textbook and read the postings on this web page about paleoclimate, ice ages and the like, then let’s have this discussion again.

    Sorry to be a bit sarcastic but you are not offering a serious question. We do have hypothesis and theories of why climate has changed in the past. Suggesting otherwise in the absence of any thoughtful investigation on your part is simply dragging red herrings around

    Comment by Tom — 28 Feb 2009 @ 10:36 PM

  20. dhogaza:

    12/31 might be summer in Antarctica, but not in the Arctic Ocean…

    Good point. The downward trend in ice area over 30 years is much greater in the Arctic summer than in the Arctic winter. So it’s not surprising that there are occasions when ice area in the Arctic winter is greater than it was exactly 30 years earlier. This is a good opportunity for misleading cherry picking.

    Comment by Chris O\\\\\\\'Neill — 28 Feb 2009 @ 10:38 PM

  21. Something for George Will to ponder tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow:

    Graduation speech for NTU Class of 2099

    Good morning, NTU Class of 2099, I can’t be here in person to address you, since I passed into oblivion long ago. But as a member of the graduating class of 1971 at my own beloved alma mater in Boston, I wanted to leave you with a brief message — from the past to the future — about global warming and climate change as it impacts Taiwan and the rest of the world as well. As the class of 2099, you are about to enter the 22nd century in a few more months, and you will bring with you not only your university experience here at NTU, but also your career expectations and personal anxieties as citizens living on a planet in the midst of a climate crisis. I’m sure you’ve heard this term a lot in the past four years — “climate crisis” — but you should know that in my days as a student in America, we never used the phrase. Back then, we had not even heard of the term yet!

    Instead, we were focused on terms such as Cold War, nuclear winter, war on poverty, racism, the oil shock, the Middle East situation, and later on, towards of our “three score and ten” on Earth, newer terms such as 9-11, terrorism and global warming.

    I’m not around now, but I hope you can read my message online somewhere or perhaps view it on a digital recording in your college library. May all your dreams come true, and then some! Long live Taiwan!

    Members of the Class of 2099, you are living in a very crucial time in the history of humankind. Your world stands at the threshold of a period of human history when very important decisions will have to be made about the use of fossil fuels and the “consume!-slash!-burn!” lifestyle that you have come to expect here in Taiwan.

    I wonder: Do the names James Lovelock or Al Gore still ring a bell in your generation now, or have new faces and names replaced them? Is the DVD of that documentary from 2006, “An Inconvenient Truth,” still in circulation at NTU? And what about Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary entitled “The 11th Hour”? Have you ever heard of the DVD, or has it been all but forgotten in your day and age?

    Class of 2099, I want to leave you with seven words: “We must tighten the noose around coal.”

    Dr. Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University in the U.S. wrote those words in 1989, more than 100 years ago, and they were prophetic. Has your world tightened the noose around coal and other fossil fuels? Has your world started to tackle the vexing problems of overpopulation, climate change and the creation of a sustainable economy? Is global warming something that will shape your future, or are the denialists out there still complaining that it is a hoax?

    Whatever your own personal views are about global warming, pro or con, you should know this: There is not much time left. I hope your generation here in Taiwan finds a way to stop the burning of fossil fuels and also finds ways to mitigate the impact of climate change on your future world. I just said that “there is not much time left.” Maybe I should have said “time is running out.” Or maybe I should have said: “Time has run out.”

    Class of 2099, go out and help create your world. Good luck and God bless!

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 28 Feb 2009 @ 10:57 PM

  22. It seems to me that a very important word is missing from Mr. Will’s flawed column, from the numerous comments in the various “spheres” on the internet and from this very page.

    That word is thickness.

    We know the the areal extent of sea ice is an important measure of the degree of cold in the Arctic Ocean/sea ice subsystem of Earth’s climate but is it not true that even if areal extent was to increase the amount of ice could still be much decreased?

    In fact it is because the most accurate measure of the warming trend of the Arctic Ocean/sea ice subsystem is the ice volume and (area) x (thickness) = volume.

    Ice extent (i.e. area) may be the most important variable when discussing albedo or other variables but it seems to me that volume (i.e. thickness) is a better measure of the long term trend.

    Comment by Seve Horstmeyer — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:01 PM

  23. Mitch (#13): Changes in the earth’s climate happen for a variety of reasons. For example, the ice age – interglacial cycles that we have been locked in for the past few million years seem to be triggered by subtle changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun and in its axis of rotation (the Milankovitch cycles) that then cause ice sheets to slowly build up (or melt away)…which changes the albedo (reflectance) of the earth amplifying this effect. The changes also cause the release of or absorption of greenhouse gases from the oceans that leads to further amplifications of the change.

    There are of course other causes for other changes that have occurred, including suspected asteroid impacts, changes in volcanism over the eons which can lead to the buildup or reduction of greenhouse gases over long time scales, etc.

    Some people seem to think this provides evidence against humans being the cause of the current climate change, which is a bit like arguing that a particular building where matches and gasoline were found could not have burned down due to arson because we know that fires can start naturally due to lightning strikes and other such things. In fact, these past climate changes allow us to learn how sensitive the earth’s climate system is to the known radiative forcing that we are producing by increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

    [It is helps us to understand what natural forces are currently at work that could be causing changes...But note that some natural forces like the ones that I talked about above work over much longer timescales than the century timescale over which we are making significant changes in greenhouse gas levels. For example, the global temperature change when we recovered from the last ice age averaged only about 0.1 C per century (and descent into an ice age tended to be even slower)...whereas we are now looking at changes greater than that happening in one decade. There were some much more rapid temperature changes found in ice core records but these seem to be shifts in climate that were likely not associated with very large global temperature changes, although some dramatic local ones.]

    Hope that provides at least a brief answer to your question.

    Comment by Joel Shore — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:05 PM

  24. Yes – I see that Artic ice is down from 1979 (however, it seems to me that it is trending above 2005, 2006 and 2007). However, George Will was talking about global ice – not artic ice. The point is that the sky is not falling!

    [Response: Actually it is. - gavin]

    Comment by RickA — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:17 PM

  25. Mitch, the basic mechanisms governing the earths climate are well established and easily discovered through a basic google or wikipedia search. I’m not a research scientist but I have a B.S. in Geological Engineering. These natural mechanisms include eccentricities in the earths orbit around the sun and about the earths own axis, variation in solar radiation, the earths natural carbon cycle, changes in oceanic currents and the position of the earths continents through geological time, and probably several other factors that I’m unfamiliar with. These natural mechanisms during the most recent Pleistocene and Holocene epochs have conspired to create the “Ice Age” that the earth has been in (and still is) for over a million years (?) now. Samples of gas trapped in ice cores taken from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have enabled scientists to determine that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has fluctuated between approximately 180 ppm (glacial advance and colder climate in the higher latitudes) and 280 ppm (glacial retreat and warmer climate in the higher latitudes), over the past 400,000 or more years. The rise of industrial civilization and the associated burning of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic influence has driven the level of CO2 upwards to 385 ppm today, and climbing by a few ppm each year. This can only result in major changes to the earth’s climate, oceanic circulation patterns, etc. A possible glimpse of our future would be the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (wikipedia the PETM), when a massive release of methane clathrates or other factors caused the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to rise to 1000ppm or more over a relatively brief period of time (in geological terms). This resulted in a significant extinction event that is well documented in the fossil record and took thousands of years for the earth to recover from. That is why scientists are deeply concerned that we are “rolling the dice” with the earth’s climate, food supply, oceanic circulation patterns, etc., as we enter a climate that humanity has never experienced before.

    If that is your honest question, that is my honest answer.

    Comment by Dean — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:22 PM

  26. Mitch,
    As an interested layperson myself who has spent over 2 years trying to decipher the science, I think Milankovitch cycles are your answer, though they don’t completely explain past climate changes. The Earth’s rotation and position change in cycles in various ways over long time scales. This changes how much solar radiation the northern hemisphere receives. Since there is more land mass in the north than in the south, the amount of energy absorbed by the Earth changes. This triggers things like ice ages and melts. When you combine all the positive feedbacks of albedo, greenhouse gases and temperatures, you get the wide swings into and out of ice ages. There are also other hypotheses like solar output variations, but apparently the data do not support their contribution to current warming. There is also the hypothesis that as the Earth passes through different arms of the Milky Way it receives different amounts of cosmic rays which affect cloud formation and hence reflectivity, but this seems to be largely hypothetical and mostly discredited here. Is this all correct?

    Comment by Mark Cunnington — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:38 PM

  27. Gavin,

    RickA in #4 says that the Global (not Northern or Southern) Ice extent is near that of 1979 … is he correct? I trust he isn’t … what data can we use to disprove him?

    BTW: Great blog…..

    [Response: The data being referenced is that from Cryosphere today. 'Global ice' does have a long term decline, but because of the out of phase seasons in each hemisphere, and the large interannual variability - particularly in the south, it isn't a reliable guide to what is going on with the climate. Today it is 1 million sq km less than normal, but next month, or next season it might be quite different. - gavin]

    Comment by George Ray — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:40 PM

  28. #13… Mitch.. I won’t ridicule you, but you have to uncross your arms and read a little.

    I was reading this just before I came across your comment.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anoxic_event

    You might like Wikipedia, it has some good linking, and excellent footnoting.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:49 PM

  29. Mitch.
    Google…Climate Change…Wiki…read.

    Comment by Tom G — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:53 PM

  30. February 29th 2009, a good vintage date.

    Comment by Bob Sell — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:54 PM

  31. Re: #11

    Will, perhaps Ray is referring to the fact that some conservatives like to claim that climate scientists are motivated by a desired to promote social-ism. In so doing, they seem to assume that the only possible solutions to AGW are social-ist ones.

    Comment by Richard Palm — 28 Feb 2009 @ 11:56 PM

  32. Re: 13

    Mitch, when there were no humans, all climate changes were due to natural causes. How is your question relevant to the issue of whether humans are causing climate change IN ADDITION to the natural changes?

    Comment by Richard Palm — 1 Mar 2009 @ 12:04 AM

  33. “The scientific method in journalism
    Feb 29th, 2009, Washington post”

    29th???

    [Response: Yes. It didn't happen. - gavin]

    Comment by Shelama — 1 Mar 2009 @ 12:32 AM

  34. #13 Mitch,

    You must not do any real studying if you’ve never heard about the evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere through biosphere changes and oxygenation, plate tectonics/silicate weathering, milankovitch cycles, solar activity and volcanic eruptions, among other things. Depends on the time period and the timescale, and it’s rather standard reading material in paleoclimate or atmospheric science texts. If you feel other people are being dismissive, it’s probably because they know you can just pick up a book or do standard google searches.

    #4 RickA

    You’re being misled. The claims that “Arctic sea ice are at 1979 levels” are based on images such as this one. Mark Serreze of NSIDC does a good job of explaining why your interpreation is incorrect in this RC comment (for example). It’s not a tough comment to follow, and it has to do with the fact that you’re not doing any trend analysis whatsoever; rather, you’re cherry-picking a handful of data points to make an erroneous claim. I could make any outlandish claim I wanted to if I picked the right data points in a time series (i.e., the ones that suited whatever argument I was making), and there are many data points on the zero anomaly trend line. This is precisely the tactic used in “global warming stopped in 1998″ talking points. I could equally pick other data points and make much more alarming statements, but that’s not how statistical analysis works.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 1 Mar 2009 @ 2:02 AM

  35. Alan of Oz: [9]:
    The reason conservative politicians have to come up with their own ETS in Australia, is that freedom of speech for them on this subject is non-existent, and they would have to commit political suicide if they wanted to express even the slightest doubt or query.
    This has happened, because the Australian population has been conditioned and propagandised into believing that there are no alternative scientific views on the subject—and that Al Gore,[ whose lifestyle produces more emissions than that of almost all of the ordinary mortals he preaches and lectures to ], had to be obeyed when he came to warn Australians that they had a duty to vote Labor in order to save the planet. The many Gore mistakes , as detailed by a British court, are indulged and excused by the consensus side [ all attention to truth flying out the window], because his message is theirs—the consensus one, while this George Will’s mistakes are immediately pounced on , ridiculed and demonised.
    Yet it’s Gore , with his AGW-generated wealth, and worldwide adulation, who has a huge personal vested interest in the world continuing to believe , [and being vilified if they question ], the AGW consensus.
    Australia is in science and freedom of speech shutdown on this issue— the kids have been brainwashed—–most voters don’t dare question lest they be seen as backward , destructive planet vandals——and the media regularly dare conservative politicians to question—all of us knowing exactly what the result for them would be if they did.
    With the Left wing politicians , Left wing media and Left wing scientists in unholy alliance , it’s democracy and science that are the endangered species in Oz.

    [Response: It's the paranoia that'll destroy ya... - gavin]

    Comment by truth — 1 Mar 2009 @ 2:54 AM

  36. Is it a leap year, or is the Washington Post working in the future?

    [Response: No. It is an imaginary date for an imaginary piece... - gavin]

    Comment by Phillip Bratby — 1 Mar 2009 @ 4:17 AM

  37. Re: 21
    The vexing problem of overpopulation. Without wishing to go into this topic as such, I would like to point out that the Ehrlichs and others blew their credibility when they projected mass famines and, for example, called Bangladesh a basket case. Linking projections of the impact of global warming to such projection failures, and that over a much shorted timescale, does not help.

    Comment by Dermot — 1 Mar 2009 @ 5:42 AM

  38. There are two measures of sea ice – ice area and ice extent.

    And there is a question of the timeline that George Will was referring to (was it the year-end December 1979 vs December 2008 or some other time period.)

    This is important because the December versus January versus February 15th amounts could show something different.

    The global sea ice extent numbers are very close for the December 1979 versus December 2008 period.

    Although you really can’t check this assertion since the data is not really available anywhere – the Cryosphere has some charts of sea ice area but where are the numbers – where are the sea ice extent numbers.

    Comment by John Lang — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:32 AM

  39. Further to Mark’s post #26, in the past, the cycle went from warm to cold and back again.

    We are now warm.

    And if it’s part of the old natural cycle, we should, if anything, be getting colder.

    We’re getting warmer.

    This does not fit the cycle.

    Shouldn’t this suggest that the old cycle and its cause isn’t happening this time? Or is there a hidden “warm-warmer” blip everyone including you have missed in the past record???

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:45 AM

  40. Mitch, #13. Can I ask, is it IMPOSSIBLE that human actions are the cause of this change?

    If not, then why don’t you consider it to be true?

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:47 AM

  41. James, #5. I suspect that if Will’s actions are genuine they are motivated by two things:

    1) He’s smart. He knows it and people say he is.
    2) He started with “I don’t think it’s possible that we could do this” and then instead of saying “well, am I wrong?” he went (because he’s smart) “there must be proof that this is a hoax”.

    I think Patrick Moore is having the same problem. He started not with “is the scientific community saying this right?” but with personal disbelief. And for Patrick, he has a really good source for an alternative: astronomy shows that the sun is getting hotter.

    And, for Patrick, this explains everything. And, instead of being skeptical about his own assumptions, because he’s smart and knows it, he just accepts what he found because it confirms what he thinks.

    I’m certain he hasn’t done any calculations to find out if the sun alone is good enough for the changes seen. But he doesn’t think he needs to. He’s smart, he doesn’t think it’s us and he has a fact that could explain an alternative. Why check?

    Some of course will just be doing the same for idealogical reasons, such as most of the libertarian think-tanks. For them, government will have to force companies to do something and ANYTHING a government does is wrong. So the best way to stop government doing anything about it you should show how they shouldn’t do anything.

    Others hate “green issues” and don’t want ecology to ruin their lives.

    Others hate businesses being told what to do and don’t want to change because whatever a business does is right and if they didn’t they’d lose customers. “The Invisible Hand” will fix all.

    Others have an unshakable belief in God. And He wouldn’t let this happen to His Chosen People.

    Others have an unshakable belief in God and think that the Rapture is about to start. We’re already practically in hell with kids not showing proper respect, girls dressing up like tarts, godless scientists being listened to…

    And so on.

    These people have one thing in common. They don’t think AGW could *possibly* exist and this is entirely natural. And so they look for a reason why this is so. And find it. And, since they couldn’t confirm or deny, they just accept that fact without any skepticism (and this is why “climate skeptic” isn’t right) and because it tells them what they already “know”, they don’t need to look any further, don’t need to know any more. Don’t WANT to know.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:58 AM

  42. truth, #35, so the “truth” you’re looking for is one that shows that this AGW stuff is all wrong and anyone gainsaying it is silenced.

    Probably with black helos overhead…

    That’s not truth you’re looking for. It’s confirmation of what you already KNOW to be true.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 8:04 AM

  43. ATTN: Alan of Oz at #9
    Why don’t you hop on the Ghan, go to Alice Springs, and ask all the old folks (i.e., white settlers and elders of the native tribes who are >60 years of age) if they have experienced any climate cnange in their lifetimes. That is to say, have they experienced a pronounced change in the pattern of weather that has persisted for 30 or more years. Alice Springs is in the middle of the continent as is still classified as rural so it an ideal site to collect such info.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 1 Mar 2009 @ 8:27 AM

  44. My concern is the quickly developing irrationality within the Climat Science community and consequent clutching at possible methods of Bio-engineering : In this weeks New Scientist (issue no: 2697,p 29, Gaia Vince?!) ‘Climatologists tend to fall into two camps: there are the cautious ones who say we need to cut emissions and won’t even think about high global temperatures; and there are the ones who tell us to run for the hills because we’re all doomed’ and that sulphur aerosols are being reconsidered by the British Government again as a sun shield. A couple of months ago (quote details are sitting in a box!) Scientific American (which would now appear to be readable under the influence of President Elect Obama!) reported that the World Health Org. estimates an annual death toll of 50,000 due to the inevitable sulphuric precipitation. In military terms shock is far preferable to panic: and it certainly looks like quite a lot of panicking!: (shock tends to shut people up so they don’t make a nuisance of themselves.)

    Is it really in the public interest to cause a civilian state of moral panic, whilst real and effective solutions to the problem are actively sought?

    Comment by Schmert — 1 Mar 2009 @ 8:31 AM

  45. People, people, people! Please stop with the responses to Mitch — his comment was obviously a ploy to get good people to waste good time, and he has succeeded admirably and made his paycheck for the day.

    recaptcha: HELPLESS

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 1 Mar 2009 @ 9:00 AM

  46. Thanks for all the comments. I will do some research using the info given and get back to some of your posts. And no I dont think its impossible for humans to be a part of these changes just not to the degree that some ascribe to.

    Comment by mitch — 1 Mar 2009 @ 9:29 AM

  47. Truth, what exactly are these “alternative scientific views?” Being a scientist and saying “It ain’t so” is not a scientific view. It’s an opinion expressed by a scientist.

    “Alternative scientific views” must take the evidence into account and be able to explain the observed direction, magnitude, and pattern of trends (or potentially be able to do so as more data becomes available) at least as well as the prevailing hypothesis to be considered true alternative explanations. Blaming things on the sun or volcanoes, or pointing toward natural events in the past doesn’t make the grade.

    Also, could you tell us what percentage of Al Gore’s wealth is “AGW-generated” and give us a timeline of when he started accumulating that wealth vs. when he became an environmental advocate?

    Comment by Mike G — 1 Mar 2009 @ 9:35 AM

  48. The ironically named “truth” says “Yet it’s Gore , with his AGW-generated wealth, and worldwide adulation, who has a huge personal vested interest in the world continuing to believe , [and being vilified if they question ], the AGW consensus.”

    Uh, Dude, all I can say is: Please. Get help. Now. Once you find a medication that works for you, maybe come back and try to learn some of the science. Then you might understand why there is a consensus–’cause that’s where all the evidence is.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2009 @ 10:01 AM

  49. #41, sadly for you Mark, Patrick knows and the rest of the world knows, who bothered to look, that he sun has been on a cooling trend for well over 50 years. So Patrick never thought so and you little spiel falls over. Solar flux is good for 0.1C. The rest happens on the planet itself. There’s more input than output, energy budget imbalance, so it’s getting warm-er, not on a straight line… as weather is changing with it and continuing to go through it’s fast and slow motions.

    Comment by Sekerob — 1 Mar 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  50. RE #35

    What on god’s green earth makes you think that drivel will even be read in full by a rational human? The fact of the matter is that the current leader of the opposition is battling some stiff opposition from his own back benchers who apparently did not hear the message from the Australian people at the last election.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 1 Mar 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  51. Let’s see…

    It is now Feb 29, 2009.

    George Will has published a “mea-culpa” retraction.

    And I’m shoveling through 6-foot-deep snowdrifts in front of my condo here in San Diego.

    Comment by caerbannog — 1 Mar 2009 @ 10:55 AM

  52. Skerob, why that tone?

    As a star goes through its main sequence, it generally (there are variations, such as the recent end of an exciting period of high sunspot activity that meant we had NO VISIBLE SUNSPOTS for some time, which is unusual) gets warmer.

    Patrick Moore believes this is enough.

    I don’t.

    But Patrick isn’t lying, he’s just going “Well, I don’t think it IS us” and then knowing that the Sun’s output gets higher (and HAS gone higher, else how could your statistic of 0.1C increase be the result of a cooling sun???) he’s found his reason.

    “Of course that isn’t enough, but there’s probably some feedback that increases it…” And the problem is solved.

    As far as Patrick is concerned.

    And, since he thinks it is covered, he doesn’t LOOK for any papers that say otherwise: there’s no need. Any pointed out can be countered by pointing to a Blog. Etc.

    Although why YOU seem so steamed up about it escapes me.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  53. mitch, #45 why? Why do you think human actions result in LESS change? You can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to show that the CO2 produced over the last 100 years by human activity is more than sufficient for the increase of CO2 from 280 to 380ppm.

    There is no model in looking at how hot the world got when CO2 was at 380ppm, you can look at the record.

    And the change is sufficient to explain the vast majority of the change seen so far.

    So why do you think that it is less of an impact? You’ll need at least two things:

    1) A theory of why the effect of “whatever else” is higher than expected
    2) A theory of why the human actions are having less of an effect than simple correlation to past changes would suggest

    and, really, a third one:

    A theory of why #1 and #2 both match up to pretty much make it look like human causes are as big an effect as measurement would suggest.

    Mind you, it’s rather like those New Earthers who say that finding bones that far down doesn’t prove anything because it just *happens* to *look* like it’s millions of years old, when it’s really only a few thousand years old.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  54. Tenney, #44. No worries. If that was his aim, he missed.

    I’m NOT a good person.

    Bwahahahahaha!

    Comment by Mark — 1 Mar 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  55. Re: Mitch

    ***I have read a tremendous amount of opinions on all of these type of sites, and I have yet to have one person explain the changes in the earths climate… all I ever hear or read is some lame avoidance of a real answer. Please enlighten me. No ridicule please just good answer.***

    This is much to close to a script seen from various denialists who enter a site pretending to be open to investigation, but are just anti-ACC plants. One guy on a site I frequent about energy used this ploy and soon transmogrified into the full blown anti-ACC monster. Actually, more than one. It’s the same technique used by conservative plants to sway “liberals” in the past… and probably present.

    The fellow mentioned above keeps harping on how there is going to be a massive change in perception about ACC toward the anti- side, coming this summer. Then, Lo and Behold, we get this report on climate lobbyists showing it is 8:1 for anti-ACC! And that these numbers have swelled recently.

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/climate_change/articles/entry/1180/

    Anyone actually think these things are not coordinated? The same talking points? The same methods? The same phrasings? We are up against it, ladies and gents, and need to take much stronger action against lies and disinformation.

    Cheers

    recaptcha: trinos crossed
    me: better watchya back

    Comment by ccpo — 1 Mar 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  56. Mike G encourages ‘truth’ by asking for exposition of more details about those beliefs. This only gets more affirmations of the same beliefs. You want more of the same stuff? Think about what you want.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2009 @ 12:30 PM

  57. Will’s use of mid-winter ice extent as some kind of bellwether is at the core of the problem. Why, of course, the extent of ice in the middle of winter would be almost the same year to year. Global temps have only risen .9C and it obviously still gets cold enough in the Arctic in winter to freeze water. Will’s point is an idiot’s point.

    Will repeatedly pointed out that he took the gist of his point from a headline. He avoided the gist of the issue — one has to assume — purposefully since the substance of the issue was covered in the text of the article and, though he’s been called to account for it, he hasn’t budged. He made the point he wanted to make. A clearer case of cherry-picking and quote-mining would be hard to find.

    Comment by duBois — 1 Mar 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  58. truth Says (1 March 2009 at 2:54 AM):

    “With the Left wing politicians , Left wing media and Left wing scientists in unholy alliance…”

    “Left wing scientists”? I’ve worked with a good many scientists over the last couple of decades, count a number among my friends, and indeed (if computer science is allowed) could be considered to be one myself. I’ve never found scientists to be particularly left-wing: most in fact seem inclined towards a moderate libertarianism. (I like to think this is an inevitable hallmark of intelligence :-)) If nothing else, here I am, as firmly anti-leftist as a rational person can be, yet just as firmly in the “AGW is real science, and we need to do something serious about it” camp.

    So where did the denialists find their “unholy alliance” meme? I’ll avoid a long digression into off-topic politics, and just ask you to consider the term “unholy alliance” in conjunction with the Republican Party’s embrace of the religious right.

    Comment by James — 1 Mar 2009 @ 2:36 PM

  59. Tenney Naumer (45) — On the contrary, I found many of the replies to be of interest.

    mitch (46) — I recommend you read W.F. Ruddiman’s “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” to discover just how long and thoroughly humans have been affecting the climate.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Mar 2009 @ 3:01 PM

  60. Gavin–

    When you write “Maybe RealClimate has succeeded in its original aim of increasing the wider awareness of the scientific context?” I think you’re underestimating some of the readership, especially as many of the errors in this particular writing could be seen by someone with scientific training but not necessarily any background in climate. Many people are much less receptive to nonsense than you might think, and most people don’t like being lied to. The only audience stuff like this convinces are those who are already convinced.

    That said though, RC has done a terrific job over the years of taking scientific understanding in climate and making it accessible to the general reader. Certainly, it has enforced the basic principles of climate change topics, as well as discussing the fallacies behind standard objections to the mainstream science.

    If anyone were to read just RealClimate they would already be far more informed than most non-experts out there, and be in a good position to give authoritative-quality responses to general questions and criticisms.

    I’m sure comments like this exist somewhere that I’m not aware of but RC should be thanked for this effort (or thanked again), and please keep up the good work.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 1 Mar 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  61. G. Will falls prey to weak analysis, relying on popular anti-AGW lobbyist mantra, not looking at the real meat, doing a play by play of a slow hockey game blindfolded. At issue, is ice volume, in the Arctic its the disappearance of multi-year ice, ably seen everywhere, by the very nature of the ice-scape, now flattened with first year ice on occasions ridged by open water periods. Also making spring ice break-up earlier, freeze up later. Up in the sky, the sun disk expands, sunsets tend
    to come earlier at a different location than before. If Will does not retract, he should not be considered as a serious news analyst, just as the appearance of one.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 1 Mar 2009 @ 3:29 PM

  62. Many people around here won’t read RealClimate because they think RC is politically biased.

    The Chanhassen Villager in MN is advertising an upcoming book forum by Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling and NOAA NWS offices continue their silence on happening trends in hydrology and climate, and severe weather.

    http://www.chanvillager.com/news/schools/climate-change-open-discussion-minnetonka-101#comment-1778

    Comment by Pat N — 1 Mar 2009 @ 3:36 PM

  63. very good article. i hope Will read it. multiple times…

    Comment by sod — 1 Mar 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  64. Ray (3) – you say that many on the right have given up on the idea of objective reality. Unfortunately, people on the right think the same thing about people on the left. The problem is that the face of the left is not the scientific community (who in my experience hold a wide range of religous and political views) but university arts faculties. I recently had the misfortune to have some contact with the education department at a major Sydney (Aus) university. The majority of the readings in the courses they teach explicity or implicitly deny the existence of objective reality. The dominant philosophical viewpoint is that everything is in the eye of the beholder and everything is relative. Notions of “truth” are openly scoffed at. They are believers in global warming, and general human induced environmental catastrophe, but only because it is fashionable – they are utterly ignorant of pretty much every advance in science, philosophy and economics in the past 200 years. Miranda Devine (right wing columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald who regularly writes nonsense about climate science) has a background in education, which probably explains why she thinks anyone on the left is a lunatic.
    From what I have read of US universities, it seems the same incoherent (absolutely everything is relative, there is no such thing as truth, moral truth is a childish fantasy, and yet somehow people who disagree with me are evil and wrong…) philosophical position is widely held by arts departments there. This is what many people on the right think they are fighting against, so it is hardly surprising that they do not feel any need to look beyond surface (or blog headline) when it comes to writing a critique of the environmental catastrophe message they see coming from the left.

    Comment by David — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:03 PM

  65. 4 RickA says, “Given that some scientists were predicting an ice free North pole in 2008″

    What was predicted was that it was possible for the single point 90N to be ice-free. “possible” does NOT mean “will”, nor was the speculation linked to the entire basin. You also fall into the trap of using ancient technology. It used to be nearly impossible to determine ice volume, but now it is reasonably estimated. The volume of ice in all seasons is plummeting. You can take solace in the fact that a thin sheen of ice will form each winter for many more decades, but it is a rather pointless point. Put some nice thick ice cubes in a glass of water, then wait. Once 95% of the ice has melted, you will still be able to claim that the ice extent in the glass is nearly identical. So what? You’re arguing for the sake of attempting to win an argument, but nature doesn’t care about twisting words and using irrelevant factoids. The amount (volume) of ice in the Arctic Ocean is plummeting. Period.

    Comment by RichardC — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:10 PM

  66. I see that Wills has now dragged up the fact “that from early January until the middle of this month, a defective performance by satellite monitors that measure sea ice caused an underestimation of the extent of Arctic sea ice”.

    I thought he was an expert on Murphy’s Law. Of course the satellite fails just when good data is needed to counter a stupid Op-ed comment!

    It’s just a pity that something didn’t interfere to prevent the New York Yimes apologising after they had reported a hole in the sea ice at the North Pole. But then that’s Sod’s Law.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:14 PM

  67. “The problem is that the face of the left is not the scientific community (who in my experience hold a wide range of religous and political views) but university arts faculties.” – David

    Says who? Why not left political parties, publications and pressure groups, trades unions, and the millions who vote left? None of these are dominated by the absurd postmodernist relativism you rightly deplore. Moreover the evidence for AGW does not come from any segment of the left, but from climate scientists; pretending otherwise is a deeply dishonest strategy on the part of denialists.

    It is a plain fact that AGW-denialism is predominantly, although not exclusively (see e.g. Alexander Cockburn), the preserve of the right, and the reason is quite clear: effective action to mitigate AGW will have to be collective and international; and will involve imposing curbs on business (even if market mechanisms like carbon trading are used, they can only work if backed by penalties for unlicensed emissions).

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:49 PM

  68. Ditto on Chris’ excellent comments above (60), especially regarding the importance of RC. And many thanks to Pat Neuman for fighting the fight at the local level in Minnetonka, where a “cpa by day and concerned citizen by night” is teaching “global cooling theory” at the local community college. Great example of what all of us can do to combat the disinformation being spread by the misinformed.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 1 Mar 2009 @ 6:50 PM

  69. To my mind, the single most important point in the Will kerfuffle is this: Climate science is complex and George has no idea how to interpret any given piece of information. His latching on ot this particular datum and decrying “see, no problem!” is akin to his trying to interpret an electrocardiogram. If you’re the patient, I’m pretty sure you don’t care what George will thinks about it.

    But what’s more, George Will would never dream of trying to interpret an electrocardiogram. Yet he will, without hesitation, weigh in on a piece of science substantially more complex. He did the same thing a couple of weeks ago, trying to contradict Paul Krugman of all people — a nobelaureate, no less — about the root causes of the Great Depression.

    It’s not just that George Will doesn’t have anywhere close to the knowledge base or training to understand this data — he seems to have no clear understanding of how much he doesn’t know.

    Comment by robert davies — 1 Mar 2009 @ 7:13 PM

  70. David #64, I’m afraid I don’t put a lot of stock in campus politics–which, as has been pointed out many times, are so nasty precisely because the stakes are so small. I am equally critical of anti-science, whether the source of George Will or Paul Feyerabend. I just wish there were rational elements on the right willing to accept the science and meet us in the center.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2009 @ 7:30 PM

  71. Nick, I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. I was just trying to say that it seems to me that many on the right see absurd postmodern relativism as the face and intellectual grounding of the left. Thus they respond not by trying to engage in argument by e.g. actually learning something about sea ice (postmodern relativism pretty much denies the possibility of argument in any case) but by portraying the left as merely jumping on an environmental disaster bandwagon.

    Assuming of course that they are honest in their criticism and not merely seeking to misinform, as some undoubtedly are.

    Also, perhaps you underestimate the influence of university education departments – For instance, the science curriculum in NSW (Australia) has been rewritten in recent years with significant influence from such people. Since they believe that science is boring and only sociology is interesting (yes, I have seen this opinion explicitly expressed in “academic” writing) they have managed to remove much of the science and replace it with “students will explore the impact of — on human society”. The consequence is that students coming to university science courses lacking basic scientific knowledge. So they can give an airy-fairy description of “cool” things like super conductivity and MRI machines but cannot calculate the current in a circuit with two resistors.

    Comment by David — 1 Mar 2009 @ 7:49 PM

  72. “Lower Increases In Global Temperatures Could Lead To Greater Impacts Than Previously Thought, Study Finds”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221425.htm

    About the study recently appearing in PNAS.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Mar 2009 @ 8:23 PM

  73. George Will’s Column
    Feb 29th, 2048, Washington Post

    Although global warming alarmists were lamenting recreational sailing in the Arctic this summer (they’re such pessimists), sea ice extent has now increased in astronomical proportions from its October low of 1 square meter by a factor of 100 billion. I checked with my Omnibudsman this morning and we agree that the growth of sea ice during this period is unprecedented on a percentage basis and that these alarmists are utterly discredited!

    Comment by The Wonderer — 1 Mar 2009 @ 11:28 PM

  74. David wrote in 64:

    From what I have read of US universities, it seems the same incoherent (absolutely everything is relative, there is no such thing as truth, moral truth is a childish fantasy, and yet somehow people who disagree with me are evil and wrong…) philosophical position is widely held by arts departments there. This is what many people on the right think they are fighting against, so it is hardly surprising that they do not feel any need to look beyond surface (or blog headline) when it comes to writing a critique of the environmental catastrophe message they see coming from the left.

    Basically what you are describing is deconstructionism, and it was a real force in many art and especially english departments in the United States. I even made its way into architecture, and I even remember running into some bizarre theory portraying Newtonian physics as phallocentric due to it speaking in terms of “force” instead of “persuasion” and that sort of thing. But mostly it was in the English and sociology departments.

    It has been waning for quite some time now, since the 1980s I believe, but there are still a few pockets. My wife ran into a strong pocket of it at a university in the south west back in the 1990s. They didn’t want to read the primary texts but instead only read the secondary ones — which made sense I suppose if you thought that texts have no meaning that exists independently of the act of interpretation — where the act of interpretation that they were generally interested in was to be found in various oppressed minority “readings.”

    As my wife is actually interested in the literature of earlier decades and centuries it drove her a somewhat buggy. But as I have said, it has been waning for quite some time. Yet one shouldn’t be at all surprised though if it is still prominant in some places.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:48 AM

  75. Quote #43 – “Why don’t you hop on the Ghan, go to Alice Springs, and ask all the old folks (i.e., white settlers and elders of the native tribes who are >60 years of age) if they have experienced any climate cnange in their lifetimes. That is to say, have they experienced a pronounced change in the pattern of weather that has persisted for 30 or more years. Alice Springs is in the middle of the continent as is still classified as rural so it an ideal site to collect such info.”

    Thank you Harold for your kind offer of a free trip on the Ghan, I would be delighted to speak to the edlders around Alice Springs and hear all about the falling fertility of the celestial waterbag first hand. As for settlers (of all colours) many of them have special equipment on their property for accurately measuring these things, the two main pieces of equipment they use are called thermometers and rain gauges. When collated together and mapped as in the links they do indeed show a remarkable trend centered around the Alice.

    PS: Would it be cheeky of me to ask for an extra ticket for my younger brother who lives in Darwin, as a zoologist he has a lot of experience with gaining access to tribal lands and is well respected by many elders right across the top end.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 2 Mar 2009 @ 1:51 AM

  76. Dang, have we all been chasing a red herring?

    Coincidental that the news is all about Will, at exactly the same time there was big science news about polar research?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090225073215.htm
    Ice Declining Faster Than Expected In Both Arctic And Antarctic Glaciers
    ScienceDaily (Feb. 26, 2009) — Multidisciplinary research from the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 provides new evidence of the widespread effects of global warming in the polar regions. Snow and ice are declining in both polar regions….

    http://www.ipy.org/index.php?/ipy/detail/state_of_polar_research_doc_pr/

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_839_en.html

    —–excerpt——
    IPY has provided a critical boost to polar research during a time in which the global environment is changing faster than ever in human history. It now appears clear that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass contributing to sea level rise. Warming in the Antarctic is much more widespread than it was thought prior to the IPY, and it now appears that the rate of ice loss from Greenland is increasing.

    Researchers also found that in the Arctic, during the summers of 2007 and 2008, the minimum extent of year-round sea ice decreased to its lowest level since satellite records began 30 years ago. IPY expeditions recorded an unprecedented rate of sea-ice drift in the Arctic as well. Due to global warming, the types and extent of vegetation in the Arctic shifted, affecting grazing animals and hunting.

    Other evidence for global warming comes from IPY research vessels that have confirmed above-global-average warming in the Southern Ocean. A freshening of the bottom water near Antarctica is consistent with increased ice melt from Antarctica and could affect ocean circulation. Global warming is thus affecting Antarctica in ways not previously identified.

    IPY research has also identified large pools of carbon stored as methane in permafrost. Thawing permafrost threatens to destabilize the stored methane -a greenhouse gas- and send it into the atmosphere. Indeed, IPY researchers along the Siberian coast observed substantial emissions of methane from ocean sediments.

    In the area of biodiversity, surveys of the Southern Ocean have uncovered a remarkably rich, colourful and complex range of life. Some species appear to be migrating poleward in response to global warming. Other IPY studies reveal interesting evolutionary trends such as many present-day deep-sea octopuses having originated from common ancestor species that still survive in the Southern Ocean.
    ——end excerpt——–

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 2:18 AM

  77. Ray Ladbury, I agree the Economist is fair and balanced. It is one of my favorite news sources as well.I think it is a shame that a sense of objectivity is being lost to the sometimes abstract, often unfounded political and economic theories. Logical positivism gives way to an Ayn Rand Objectivism that is anything but, while congress argues over trivial matters and goes to war with itself over serious matters while the actual facts of such matters like AGW go largely unchecked. Rational self interest has gone too far. Perhaps Adam Smith and the Obama mission for change do indeed apply more to affecting policy change in order to help the environment as a whole and slow down the warming trend in particular.

    Gavin well said and yes wishful thinking it may be, perhaps some people on both sides of the aisle can admit to their mistakes and help the greater people at large while still satisfying certain constituent and supporter obligations.

    Comment by jcbmack — 2 Mar 2009 @ 3:54 AM

  78. My inference is that only a big payoff could make someone so oblivious to reality. (My neighbor works in the auto industry.)

    Wouldn’t biodiesel or hydrogen powered cars be a massive boost for the auto industry? Maybe you should remind your neighbor that his financial interests are on the opposite side to what he thinks.

    Comment by Stuart — 2 Mar 2009 @ 4:39 AM

  79. Mark writes:

    astronomy shows that the sun is getting hotter.

    No, it doesn’t.

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

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Mar 2009 @ 4:39 AM

  80. Re #71. the Aussiues are only interested in sport mainly and probably sports science too so long as it involved drinking or roaring around beauty spots in 4×4 vehicles. When I go to Australia it just reminds me of some parts of the USA in many regards.

    The right have a tendency to lie a lot, whoi knows about the left buyt mainly in the main right and left are moderate but the media likes the extreme views on everything as it stimulates opinions. Ask most moderate rights and lefts about a certain subject matter and they will mainly agree but when it comes on what to do about it and perhaps the causes of it they might disagree but lets face it you can’t argue with the science scientifically that is but you can argue about the consequences and what to about it.

    The consequences of climate change are not seen as a big deal, as it is going to take human lifetimes before things are bad. People die every day and how else do you earn a living in our modern world unless you are using fossil fuels and taking a well earned vacation to as that uses a lot more fossil fuels (statistically and not individually). The left it could be said is a little too militant about what to do about it and the right a little too dismissive about the changes required simply becauase the left knows the significance of our of fossil fuels uage and the right the significance of doing something about it, the costs and disruption and loss of competetive advantage etc.

    Some people who have studied climate change and energy infrastructure and sources find the entire thing somewhat perplexing and intractable to some degree and this probably best explains why since 1988 and James Hansen congressional testimony the world has actually increased its fossil fuels usage. This is easy to understand. The technology is well understood, resources are available to develop it and it is cheap energy in economic terms, which is how capatalism works (simple works best). It is only recently (2000) that the peak estimations of fossil fuel reserves have been seen to be overstated. This is where our problems lie in the mid term (2030) because the official doctrine is that oil for example is discoverd in amounts to what is being used each year which smacks of convenicence due to the fact that economically these companies and the car industry etc need to state this. If Governments knew a different reality they would potenitally attempt to develop technologies that move away from this conclusion. The same goes for coal and gas.

    The EIA/IEA, and other world bodies are projecting vast reserves of coal but several recent reports and David Rutledge of Priceton University call this into question stating that by looking into the records of countries that have good records for coal mining and usage state that there is probably only 60% of estimated reserves available. The good coal is used and the more carbon and less energy producing other stuff is left too. Gas reserves are being used at a similar rate and oil reserves are worringly low. Where the truth lies, who knows but the IEA have recently changed its tone a little on this matter and seems to be cautioning on the peaksists side to some degree which is a little troubling for if they are right we will be seeing a 21st century problems rear their head that will eliminate AGW as a major problem limiting atmosphereic CO2 levels by humans to around 450 ppmv rather than the 500-600 ppmv of doom. However time is not available for us to combat peak fossil fuels for it is with cheap fuel that we construct an alternative energy edifice and if peak is real, fuel is not cheap and it can only get more expensive and rarer as countries who are exporters of fossil fuel will not export any more.

    So for all concerned regardless of the AGW science, it is for the peaking of fossil fuels that demands our alternative energy attention. The far right probably see peak fossil fuels as a a joke too, alarmist and not the orthodox position, funny that as climate change is the orthodox scientific position but alarmist too. What does that ay about it all, well it says keep the far right and far left from power for ever and lets take a rational line to everything. Do not let lobbying and politics to become as influenced by money as it appears to be both here in Europe and in the USA for humans seem easily swayed by it and its influence on political policy.

    Comment by pete best — 2 Mar 2009 @ 4:51 AM

  81. “Assuming of course that they [right-wing AGW denialists] are honest in their criticism and not merely seeking to misinform, as some undoubtedly are.” – David

    I don’t think that’s a defensible assumption. Anyone who bothers to enquire will discover that the vast majority of relevant scientific experts consider AGW a real and urgent problem; and that – for example – the national scientific associations of the G8 plus China, India and Brazil, effectively all the relevant scientific bodies of the US itself (I believe the Association of Petroleum Geologists is still fence-sitting), and the editors of Science and Nature agree. In other words, AGW denialists are either outright liars, wilfully ignorant, or believe, without evidence, that the scientific community consists almost entirely of liars and fools. I would not describe any of these possibilities as compatible with being “honest in their criticism”. The assertion that it’s all a left-wing plot is simply a political strategy, intended to distract attention from the reality of scientific consensus.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:24 AM

  82. David, when you say:

    “The dominant philosophical viewpoint is that everything is in the eye of the beholder and everything is relative. Notions of “truth” are openly scoffed at. They are believers in global warming, and general human induced environmental catastrophe, but only because it is fashionable”

    This doesn’t make it wrong.

    People can believe that the earth is round because it is a perfect shape: finite yet unbounded.

    That this is not the reason why the earth is round is irrelevant to the fact that the earth is round.

    And please, tell us how AGW is fashionable. Any blog that talks about it gets lots of accusations of idiocy, corruption or bias. This happens to anti-AGW too, but you didn’t say that was fashionable, did you.

    I think this “fashshionable” meme is just a way for some people to explain why some are accepting the AGW evidence without knowing the science. The reason for that is that the meme of “AGW is a hoax” already has several very obvious reasons (which I’ve posted above some of the major ones) for people to accept the “proofs” that AGW doesn’t exist without knowing the science.

    The anti-AGW right get their ideals from self interest and can’t see that anyone else would do it except for self interest or spite.

    They’ve tried the “you’ll make us live in caves!!!!” “spite” reason and this is so patently ridiculous that this hasn’t gotten much traction. Still does the rounds, mind. So now it may be that they are trying “well, it’s fashionable, the sheep”. I mean, there can’t be any BAD self interest reason for AGW proposition that isn’t going to be considered GOOD (“I want my children to live in the same climate I did” or “I want a cleaner world” or “Why have deaths on my concience when we can avoid it” etc).

    So “it’s fashionable” is the only self interest left.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:43 AM

  83. Here are the actual sea ice numbers from the NSIDC.

    The global sea ice Area has increased by 1.17 million km^2 or 7.1% from December 1979 to December 2008 (16.58M to 17.75M).

    And the global sea ice Extent has increased by 0.78 million km^2 or 3.3% from 1979 to 2008 (23.95M to 24.73M).

    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/pub/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Dec/N_12_area.txt

    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/pub/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Dec/S_12_area.txt

    I think we should all agree the facts are more important than preconceptions.

    This is year-end December figures, the summer melt season numbers would be different but nobody seems to have access to those figures either.

    The Northern Hemisphere is up for area but down for extent.

    [Response: What is it about this figure that is unclear to you? (or this one?) - gavin]

    Comment by John Lang — 2 Mar 2009 @ 7:30 AM

  84. If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Will’s original piece used the phrase “sea ice levels,” which confused me at the time, because while I thought he meant area of coverage (which is better described by “extent,” the word you chose), “level” seemed to suggest that the thickness of the ice was at issue (or maybe the total volume).

    To what degree are these data (thickness, area, volume) different in what they tell us, and how are they similar? Is this a pointless question?

    [Response: Not pointless, but not completely straightforward either. As sea ice extent has decreased in the summer, this has led to a relative increase in first year ice during the winter (i.e. ice that formed since the last summer). Historically, there was a great deal of ice that was 'multi-year' - i.e. that had survived one or more summers and was consequently thicker. Much of this multi-year ice has now disappeared, and the ice thickness (as far as we can tell) has decreased significantly across the basin. The problem is that thickness is not easy to measure basin-wide and so such pronouncements rely on a lot of in situ observations. - gavin]

    Comment by jhm — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:09 AM

  85. Gavin’s “naive optimism” is charming, but I think he has spent too much time around scientists and not enough around propagandists if he expects George Will or The Washington Post to issue anything resembling a substantive correction of Will’s so-called “errors”.

    George Will was not “mislead” and did not make any “errors” in his recent column. On the contrary, George Will is a deliberate liar who is knowingly seeking to deceive his readers.

    As Gavin notes, The Washington Post has published two previous columns by George Will on anthropogenic global warming — in which Will made some of the same false claims (e.g. the nonexistent 1970s “scientific consensus” for “global cooling” and an imminent ice age) that he recycled nearly verbatim in this column. Those claims were thoroughly and widely debunked at the time, so both George Will and Fred Hiatt, head of the Post’s editorial page, were aware that they were false. They reprinted them anyway.

    Fred Hiatt’s response to criticisms of George Will’s deliberately deceptive column, in an interview with Columbia Journalism Review, is to assert that it is “healthy” for one of the Post’s columnists to “challenge” the “consensus”.

    My question for Mr. Hiatt is, why does he think it is “healthy” for a second-rate sports writer and partisan Republican propagandist with absolutely no scientific credentials whatsoever to “challenge” the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientific community with deliberate lies and distortions?

    The answer is that it is “healthy” for the Post’s bottom line at a time when newspapers everywhere are struggling to stay in business.

    Now that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are no longer around to run the Executive Branch as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil, and now that the Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress are moving to take action — however inadequate — to reduce CO2 emissions, the fossil fuel corporations will kick their campaign of disinformation into overdrive, in order to undermine public support for any such action.

    As the effects of AGW become ever more extreme, frightening and undeniable, and as momentum towards action builds, climate change denialist propaganda will become more aggressive and pervasive, not less so. This can already be seen everywhere the issue is discussed online, with innumerable commenters posting their scripted, programmed, “Climate Science According To Rush Limbaugh” talking points. And as is well documented, the fossil fuel corporations do not balk at spending tens of millions of dollars (small change from their tens of billions of dollars in annual profits) to fund such efforts.

    Clearly, Mr. Hiatt has determined that it is in the best business interests of The Washington Post for its editorial page to join the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal as an aggressive purveyor of the fossil fuel corporations’ campaign of deliberate deceit on the subject of anthropogenic global warming.

    Neither Fred Hiatt nor George Will are going to acknowledge or correct Will’s “errors” because they were not “errors”, they were deliberate malicious lies, and they both know it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:48 AM

  86. Harping on about John Langs’ month end December figures, extent only tells so to speak the outer circle of ice and the square km within. It says nothing at all how much actual ice is enclosed in that circle.

    Well, tell you what here is the NCDC August 1979-2008 data based ratio of Area-Extent. 2008 showed just under 62% was actually covered in Ice. So if you here Extent Greater than last year or the year before, true ice surface and thickness are not represented in any meaningful way.

    Year August
    1979 75,46%
    1980 75,00%
    1981 70,87%
    1982 73,97%
    1983 72,61%
    1984 73,44%
    1985 76,41%
    1986 76,28%
    1987 73,60%
    1988 71,52%
    1989 73,11%
    1990 76,69%
    1991 73,65%
    1992 72,01%
    1993 68,04%
    1994 71,09%
    1995 73,65%
    1996 72,95%
    1997 73,15%
    1998 65,69%
    1999 67,48%
    2000 69,63%
    2001 69,34%
    2002 69,53%
    2003 69,34%
    2004 71,45%
    2005 70,63%
    2006 69,79%
    2007 63,81%
    2008 61,86%

    Comment by Sekerob — 2 Mar 2009 @ 9:39 AM

  87. To go with my previous post (used erroneously a smaller than sign)

    A Record poor state for 2008

    Tells me something about the quality of the ice. Does it you? Ice volume was in 2008 still thought to have been record low. Somewhere a report said the mean loss of thickness was 16-26 centimeters, of top of head and in places 45 centimeters. Equating that back to volume to area, finger in the air 4,000 cubic km lost… just like that. Quite a bit more than off the surface of Greenland in a short time.

    Comment by Sekerob — 2 Mar 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  88. BPL, 79, depends on your timescale.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/17/Solar_Forcing_GISS_model.gif

    And on long periods:

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

    (check Evolutionary tracks and stellar evolution links)

    Unfortunately the links I used to give to people about how the sun is evolving are all now hidden behind 20+pages of “Global warming …. ” pieces. Finding the astronomy primers from the 80′s is damn near impossible now.

    So you’ll have to make do with the wiki link to an old (pre-anti-AGW) report on astrophysical measurements.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Mar 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  89. BPL #79.

    Just read the bit you linked to.

    Look at the graph.

    Even over that, you see it increasing.

    A big change most recently is the end of a very energetic solar cycle 23 and this solar cycle (24) will not be as energetic. So this recent change in sunspot activity would indicate that there would be a reduction in the heating over what would have happened without the removal of cycle23.

    Which is what we’ve seen. It’s still getting warmer, but not quite as fast as before.

    When I get home, I’ll pick up my astronomy books and give you chapter and verse.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Mar 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  90. “The global sea ice Area has increased by 1.17 million km^2 or 7.1% from December 1979 to December 2008 (16.58M to 17.75M).”

    John Lang: you might want to actually read the disclaimer at the bottom of the dataset you are using: there is a 0.9 million km^2 discontinuity in 1987.

    Comment by Marcus — 2 Mar 2009 @ 10:26 AM

  91. Gavin, What John Lang ment in his statement is that the 2008 numbers are not availible. The first graph you try and throw in his face does not include those numbers either. I have no idea where you got the second graph or what it is suppose to prove as to his statement.

    [Response: It is to show context. Anyone who thinks nothing is going on in the Arctic is delusional. - gavin]

    Sekerob, How did they come up with these persents? I would assume it is another math matical model that is only as good as the numbers entered. Who entered the numbers and what was their specialty? Did anyone actually measure the ice mass/density in 1979? in 2008? NO!!
    Once again we are not using scientific data to argue a question. We are using mathmatical models.

    [edit - OT]

    Comment by Coakely — 2 Mar 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  92. Some adventurers with core drills are currently trekking toward the North Pole measuring actual ice thickness. Actual ‘ground truth’ measurement transect in detail.

    This ought to provide confirmation, for the Navies that operate under the ice, so they will be able to talk about what they know but can’t tell the public from submarine operations.

    On thin ice: Mar 2, 2009 … A team of British explorers has begun an arduous three-month trek to the North Pole to measure the thickness of floating sea ice.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article…/On-ice-Arctic-explorers-trek-North-Pole-measure-effect-global-warming.html
    and

    http://www.canada.com/Technology/British+explorers+measure+Arctic+North+Pole/1282904/story.html
    “… They will haul sleds loaded such equipment as an ice drill and a new, briefcase-sized radar designed to measure the thickness of sea ice, as well as communications equipment that will allow them to transmit information and images directly from the ice. The sleds will also act as boats that will allow the team to swim between ice floes while still carrying their equipment, Hadow added.

    The radar will take measurements of the ice every 10 centimetres along the survey route and store them in an onboard computer. At the end of each day, the data will be transmitted by satellite uplink to the survey’s headquarters in London.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  93. “Will, perhaps Ray is referring to the fact that some conservatives like to claim that climate scientists are motivated by a desired to promote social-ism. In so doing, they seem to assume that the only possible solutions to AGW are social-ist ones.”

    I am sure that some conservatives play this game – everything which can confuse and frighten people is fine with them – but on the other hand, and this is something I really believe, we are not going to be able to deal with climate change while leaving the power structures out of the picture and without making changes to political institutions. I’m not talking about social-ism, but about regulation in many domains – which would be good for almost all of us, except for the very rich. I know that many of you think that this has nothing to do with finding solutions to the problems we face, but in my opinion this is an essential point. Thanks for the input, Will Denayer

    Comment by Will Denayer — 2 Mar 2009 @ 11:19 AM

  94. Market-oriented ideologies could add precious alternatives to the environmental debate. There are some very interesting success stories down this path, like rearrangement of property rights in a way that conserves the resource in a much more efficient way than direct regulation. Unfortunately, many of them just can´t seem to leave the denial phase.

    That´s a pity. Like Gavin´s text says, this just keeps them out of the policy-making process.

    Comment by Alexandre — 2 Mar 2009 @ 11:22 AM

  95. response to Gavin response. John Lang never staed there was nothing going on in the arctic. I believe he was making the point that in the last several years the climate is getting colder and that using sea ice as a barometer as to how the climate is going make not be a good measure. If you use a measure to prove something scientifically and that measure changes to no longer prove your point of view you can’t just throw it out if it then starts disproving your point.

    [Response: perhaps you would care to find anyone who had used a single months global ice extent compared to a single month's extent 30 years ago to 'prove something scientifically' prior to the cherry-picking on the Daily Tech site? This isn't a case of a well known index or measure suddenly turning around. It is simply not a good index - precisely because it turns around so often. This week it shows 1 million sq km less than 30 years ago. Does that change your mind? why not? If your answer is that it is unreliable and noisy, then you prove my point. - gavin]

    Comment by Coakely — 2 Mar 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  96. Question. If the south poll ice cap is growing at a faster rate than the north pole is shrinking, (not saying it is still shrinking and it may be growing again) then does that mean that the over all temperature of the world is getting colder.
    It seems a lot of of folks only look at the northern hemisphere.
    If you look at satalite photos of both poles this past January (summer in the south and winter in the north) THere is obviously much more ice sheet world wide than in 1979 which I think was John Lang’s point.

    [Response: None of these statements are true. - gavin]

    Comment by Coakely — 2 Mar 2009 @ 11:54 AM

  97. I think the “left-wing insane postmodernist/deconstructionst” is mostly a straw man. If people in the right wing believe in that caricature, that’s the fault of the right wing pundits and their followers who continue to rant about this being, who in my experience A)existed mostly in English departments, as someone mentioned above, dealing largely in literary criticism, and B) were usually a lot less crazy than people make them out to be. I’m sure there have been exceptions–there are whackos to be found in just about every domain of life. But in general, postmodernism, relativism, deconstructionist thought, these have all been useful in questioning some dubious assumptions of the past, and have rarely made anyone quite as much of a useless ass as David seems to think it has done to entire university faculties.

    Comment by kevin — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:00 PM

  98. Will Denayer wrote: “… we are not going to be able to deal with climate change while leaving the power structures out of the picture and without making changes to political institutions …”

    If true, that is very discouraging, because we have perhaps five years within which to stop the growth of CO2 emissions and then begin a rapid reduction in emissions, if we are to have any hope of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming.

    And if a prerequisite of accomplishing that is “leaving the power structures out of the picture” and making major “changes to political institutions” then I don’t think we’re going to make it.

    Fortunately, I don’t think that’s a prerequisite. Among our “major power structures”, both corporate and political, there are those who both (1) recognize the urgency of the problem and (2) recognize that the problem is also an opportunity. Huge amounts of private investment capital, for example, are pouring in to wind and solar technology; and there are politicians within our existing institutions who see that the urgent need to deal with global warming is also an opportunity to strengthen our economy and improve our national security.

    Certainly, dealing with climate change will lead to shifts in both economic and political power: not least, a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel sector to other energy technologies. I don’t know who the economic “winners” in green energy will be, but they will most likely be corporations not unlike other corporations (though they will probably resemble Intel or General Electric more than ExxonMobil, since they will be in the business of selling technology for harvesting free energy, rather than the business of selling fuel).

    My own view is that the source of our problems is even deeper than our economic and political institutions: it is in our delusion that the human species is somehow separate from, somehow above, the rest of the Earth’s biosphere; the dualistic notion that the living world consists of human beings and “resources” for our consumption. Until we realize that the Earth’s web of life is an indivisible, organic whole within which we are one thread interwoven with all the others, we will continue to struggle with all manner of “environmental” problems of our own making — problems that arise from our delusion that “humans” and our “environment” are separate things.

    Fortunately, I don’t think that attaining that realization at a species-wide level is a prerequisite for dealing with the global warming problem.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:05 PM

  99. #65 – RichardC
    Sure the trend in the Artic for ice extent is down over the last 30 years. Lets even agree that ice volume in the artic is trending down over the last 30 years (although I haven’t seen any volume data).

    So what? From what I can see, this has happened many times before – even in the last couple hundred years, probably even in the 1920′s or 1930′s.

    [Response: What data are you looking at here? I know of no such sea ice data set that would demonstrate this. - gavin]

    The ice extent in the Atic goes up for a period of time, then the ice extent goes down for a period of time – over and over.

    Why should I assume – right now – that the long term trend line will keep going down for the next couple hundred years?

    I think I would like to see it going down for a lot longer than 30 years before I start to panic.

    If CO2 was at 1000 ppm in the past (and it was) – how did it ever get down to 280 ppm in the 1880′s? How did we ever get back on the south side of the tipping point? Because the Earth did – and it did it with some natural feedback mechanism that we apparently don’t understand very well yet.

    I would feel a lot better about taking immeadiate extremely expensive action if I had a couple hundred years worth of climate data (artic ice data for example) – rather than the paltry amount of data we are currently looking at.

    Is man affecting the climate – of course we are.

    How much – that I don’t know and I don’t think anybody else does either.

    I don’t think we have enough data to base policy on yet. I say we check back in 2050 and see if the concensus has changed yet – or 2100.

    [Response: Ostrich. Head. Sand. - gavin]

    Comment by RickA — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:31 PM

  100. Mark, I think I’m intuiting the same thing you express well here; lately in interactions with skeptics/deniers, I’ve been stressing the self-interest angles–maintenance of our civilization, well-being of descendants. I also find the word “responsibility” coming out a lot, which goes to other values perhaps held by those respondents. Additionally, I’m hearing a lot of folks say, “I don’t care if GW is true, because we need to get off oil/coal anyway for other good reasons.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:31 PM

  101. Added ref. to Hansen Testimony (to my comment at Chanhassen Villager, 62)

    “We have a planet in peril.”…

    Testimony by Dr. James Hansen to House Ways & Means Committee on Carbon Tax & 100% Dividend vs. Tax & Trade, Feb. 26, 2009, at:

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

    Comment by Pat N — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  102. BPL, I know this is nit-picky (sorry), but, while appreciating your reference I do not comprehend how they measured insolation to 3 decimal places (7 significant digits) back in 1610, e.g.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Mar 2009 @ 12:57 PM

  103. Speaking of politics and science, there’s some possibility the Triana (now “DISCOVR”) spacecraft may after all reach L1 orbit. Although the craft would be repurposed as yet another solar wind/plasma observatory (endlessly fascinating, that plasma…), Triana still has the Earth-observing bits attached.

    Any comment from RC about the value of the experiments originally envisioned for Triana? It was coincidentally shelved when Cheney/Bush arrived on scene, so I’m wondering if they were worried about encountering uncomfortable facts not comporting with the romantic fantasy world they inhabit.

    More here:

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0903/01dscovr/

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 2 Mar 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  104. #99 – Gavin’s in-line question:

    [Response: What data are you looking at here? I know of no such sea ice data set that would demonstrate this. - gavin]

    You are making my point.

    We don’t have very high quality data for the Arctic much before 1978.

    We have lower quality data which make this point.

    Jones et al data set shows the temperature in the arctic higher in the 1930′s than currently.

    The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment p. 52 talks about the temperature in the Arctic over the last millennium and seems to support several rises and falling trends in the Arctic over that time period.

    Roald Amundsen completed the first sailing of the Northwest passage in 1903-1906 – so I assume it was pretty warm in the arctic then (I admit this one is implied).

    The point is that the temperature has been higher in the Arctic in the past – more than once even – so what is different about today than those other times?

    [Response: Thank you. You clearly demonstrate that you have no data that shows that sea ice was equally low in the 1930's. The little data there is (from ship reports mainly) indicate that this was not actually the case. If you wanted to use an example where the prevailing data did suggest less ice then than now, you'd have to go back to the Early Holocene (say 8 to 6,000 years ago). There are beach deposits and large faunal remains in what are now frozen inlets across the Archipelago and northern Greenland. However, why that happened than is easier to understand - the orbit of the Earth at that time meant that summertime solar irradiance in the Northern Hemisphere was larger than it is now and summer temperatures were higher as a result. This is not therefore the cause of today's changes, but the example does serve to indicate that sea ice is indeed sensitive to the radiative balance. It is thus not surprising that sea ice is retreating when we have our own radiative perturbation underway. - gavin]

    Comment by RickA — 2 Mar 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  105. Good article at spaceflight now. Key bits:
    —excerpt follows—-

    Valero acknowledges the satellite’s “innovative” observation method, but he contends DSCOVR’s mission was rooted in science geared toward climate change research.

    DSCOVR’s Earth-pointing telescope and radiometers, still bolted to the spacecraft today, are designed to check the planet’s thermostat by gauging solar radiation reaching the planet.

    The radiation balance would tell scientists whether Earth is warming or cooling based on the difference in energy that is absorbed and released each year, Valero said.

    Scientists already know the planet has a radiation imbalance a few times greater than the greenhouse effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Valero said a deep space Earth observatory would give scientists a new way of studying the planet by facilitating continuous imagery. Other Earth observation satellites fly in low-altitude orbits and collect global data on a timescale of days.

    “I am not watching, say, San Francisco, then 10 hours later, New York, and then Denver,” Valero said. “I’m looking at the whole thing now.”

    The new paradigm demonstrated by DSCOVR would be more reliable because using low Earth orbit satellites is like “looking at the forest tree by tree,” Valero said.

    NASA decided to suspend work on Triana in 2001, months after former President Bush took office following his defeat of Gore in the 2000 election. …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  106. #91 coakely,

    no one came up with these percentages, I did, by taking e.g. the ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/ Arctic annual data for Area and Extent and expressing that in the table above. All but the winter months, the ratios are steep, much the same, if not steeper than the seasonal sea ice extent chart the Gavin linked to and shown on the front page of Cryosphere Today. Their chart is largely the same as the one I did with the NOAA data, but using the meteorological seasons rather than the calendaric e.g. DJF instead of JFM.

    oh and watch out if you want to test. Some folk forget to consider the polar hole ;>)

    As for the usual more data more data, lets wait, fortunately governments with their heads screwed on correctly wont wait for that, and most in the “haves” world seem to wise up rapidly.

    Comment by Sekerob — 2 Mar 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  107. 22 Steve said, “That word is thickness”

    Absolutely. Nobody would ever measure the ice in the local hockey lake by extent. EVERYONE knows that ice health is primarily measured in thickness. There’s another important term as well, “salinity”, which is measured primarily by age of the ice. Everyone also knows that salty ice is easier to melt, so the *FACT* that the ice is younger *GUARANTEES* that it is weaker. The deniers’ argument boils down to, “There is 1cm of ice nearly from shore to shore on the lake, so let’s shove all our children out to play hockey.” I find it hard to believe that anyone could miss the obvious logic, so I don’t agree that George Will is both intelligent and moral. It is immoral to write a high profile article about ice without a 6th-grade grasp of ice mechanics. I’d say George is Willfully ignorant, and that’s immoral and rather stupid too. Oh, and deniers, the *ONLY* reason “extent” was *EVER* used is because it’s the easiest number to measure accurately. Extent is reasonably useful *ONLY* at the end of summer. In the winter, there’s some variation at the edges, but the whole Arctic Ocean is covered in ice, so it’s not a helpful measurement at all. This will change *ONLY* when extent in winter starts dropping significantly. Give it a few more years.

    Comment by RichardC — 2 Mar 2009 @ 2:23 PM

  108. RickA: Look at: http://nsidc.org/sotc/sea_ice.html
    It has sea ice estimations going back to 1953 (one third of the way down the page). It refers to a reconstruction going back to the early 1900s, but alas does not provide a pointer.

    From what I’ve read, it seems that the Amundsen expedition took several _years_ to complete, and went through channels that would not be considered commercially navigable. That’s possibly a big difference with the Northwest Passage opening in 2007 which (as I understand) was (visually, anyway) pretty much a straight shot through…

    Comment by Marcus — 2 Mar 2009 @ 2:45 PM

  109. I value this site a lot, because you people have taught me many things on climate change, I enjoy reading the discussions and I am completely convinced that climate change is a very serious problem.
    However, sometimes you people shock me. It is probably because I am European. Earlier today, I wrote a post using social-ism and the text got blocked. I do not get this at all. We’re all supposed to be adults here and thinking people as well – most of us being scientists – why should it be forbidden to use certain words? I do not want to plead in favor of social-ism, but that is not the point. The point is censorship. Besides, social-ism is not that bad; it did a lot of good in the world also. I guess we just see these things differently.

    [Response: It is not a political judgment, it is a pharmaceutical one. - gavin]

    Comment by Will Denayer — 2 Mar 2009 @ 3:08 PM

  110. Re: #108:

    Correct, Marcus, as I recall from elementary school “social studies,” Amundsen used a specially ice-strengthened hull to survive two winters in doing the Northwest Passage. Not what you’d call commercially viable, or straightforward for that matter.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Mar 2009 @ 3:17 PM

  111. #85 SecularAnimist
    It can also be argued that it would be healthy for those employed in the “climate change community” to maintain and promote a concensus in order to continue to receive funding and insure their employment. Any climatologist that strays from the concensus would certainly find it impossible to be funded and would not be published in peer reviewed Journals.

    I don’t understand why this discussion has so little middle ground. One side is populated by liars, kooks or is bought by the energy industry, and the other side is motivated only by the pure desire to share the truth that has been revealed to them by proxy studies and GCM’s.

    It’s great to have strongly held opinions it’s another thing to denigrate those that disagree with you. Can we focus more on the science and less on the name calling?
    Thanks
    William

    [Response: So accusing all climatologists for being in it for the money isn't name calling? (And please note, the way to further funding is too continually claim uncertainty, not to conclude that the big picture is well understood). Practice what you preach. - gavin]

    Comment by William — 2 Mar 2009 @ 3:19 PM

  112. In post #81, Nick Gotts wrote: “In other words, AGW denialists are either outright liars, wilfully ignorant, or believe, without evidence, that the scientific community consists almost entirely of liars and fools.”

    First of all, I heartily endorse this site and its owners. Gavin — you do good work.

    That being said, I challenge the statement above. SOME AGW denialists, such as Rush Limbaugh for instance, clearly qualify. But last weekend I met with three of my colleagues (we are all ASA members) and the AGW issues were explored. One is clearly a denialist; he is a professional geophysicist and bases his skepticism on some rather extensive analyses of temperature data. The other two are “agnostic” on AGW — or maybe skeptics, but do not claim any climate expertise. One of them asked a particular question on this site a week or so back and thought the answer given was kind of a brushoff, but he will probably try again.

    If my geophysicist friend agrees, I will at some time in the future share his findings here, asking how they ought to be considered.

    But none of my three friends can be said to fit — not in the slightest degree, the description Gotts made.

    John (Burgy) Burgeson
    http://www.burgy.50megs.com

    Comment by John Burgeson — 2 Mar 2009 @ 4:33 PM

  113. Further on left vs right politics (sorry, but it seems inescapable), it appears that the left is just more sophisticated in hiding its anti-anti-AGW agenda. For instance, I ran across this, on the NY Times op-ed page http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/02/opinion/02krugman.html?ref=opinion Yes, according to a prominent liberal economic theorist, our current economic problems are rooted in the fact that we just weren’t consuming enough. So the solution, apparently, is to crank up those coal-fired power plants and start making more stuff to fill whatever space is left in our garages, and to enable the rest of the world to follow our example.

    Comment by James — 2 Mar 2009 @ 4:34 PM

  114. Nick (82), For many (most ?) people (including many newspaper commentators) the scientific world is a closed book. If they look around on the web to try and educate themselves, they see that for every argument there is a counter argument and a conspiracy amongst scientific organisations seems just as plausible as a conspiracy run by Exxon.
    Consider Mitch (13) on this thread. Maybe he is just trolling, but equally he could be genuinely interested. He doesn’t know any physics, and doesn’t know where to look to learn. He reads a dozen blogs written by people who are opinionated but ignorant, and concludes that very little is really known about climate. Even if he reads the links provided here, without a scientific background he will find it very difficult to grasp the content.

    Have you ever tried teaching basic chemistry or physics to someone with no scientific background ? For most people terms like heat, light, mass, density, pressure, temperature etc have some vague meaning only very loosely connected with the scientific definition. For these people, even carefully written explanations on a good site like realclimate get internally translated into something like “blah blah blah global warming is real blah blah blah trust us”.

    Could people please refrain from pointing out to me that the science is real ? I know. I am just trying here to explain what global warming looks like to many, many people outside the scientific world.

    Finally, pharm-a-ceutical spa-m often uses the term soc-ialism ?

    [Response: So-cialis-m is found to be very stimulating. - gavin]

    Comment by David — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:17 PM

  115. William, it gets extremely frustrating and perhaps maddening to have to make the same responses to the same uninformed nonsense day in and day out. Eventually a sharp, snide, sometimes seemingly abusive response is all there is left to say.

    Comment by GaryB — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:36 PM

  116. James, I have no idea how you got that from Krugman’s article but I didn’t see him suggesting we consume more, in fact I didn’t see him suggest anything.

    Comment by GaryB — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:51 PM

  117. Science works, on a fundamental level, by some scientist proposing a hypothesis and then devising an experiment to verify that hypothesis. Then the results go through a peer review process where other scientists try to poke holes in the hypothesis. If the hypothesis can stand up to repeated attack from all different kinds of scientists for a long time, it can then be called a theory. However, at any time, some scientist could come along and present evidence which shows that the theory is invalid, or more likely, simply off base a little bit and in need of revision, or not as wide in scope as previously thought (for example, classical Newtonian physics, which has been shown, long after it was first developed, to be only a very small subset of what is actually going on.)

    To this end, skepticism is essential for science to work — it’s actually HOW it works! It keeps everyone honest.

    The problem is that the political AGW denialists who know nothing about science hijack this process and take any critical discussion around the science or data surrounding AGW to be a source of weakness in which to drive a wedge, then expose it to the masses who don’t understand the science, and try to destroy the process.

    It’s gotten to the point, IMHO, that due to the political backlash against the implications of global warming, this normal process of scientific study can’t really function as it should.

    Comment by Mark Cunnington — 2 Mar 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  118. #112: Your geophysicist friend has done private analysis that seriously leads him to believe he’s got the jump on everybody else? And he has not published this? Not to fall back on name-calling, but that smacks of alchemy.

    If it ain’t published, it ain’t science, not in the sense that we’ve used the past several hundred years, anyway.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 2 Mar 2009 @ 6:16 PM

  119. William wrote: “One side is populated by liars, kooks or is bought by the energy industry, and the other side is motivated only by the pure desire to share the truth that has been revealed to them by proxy studies and GCM’s.”

    Actually, I think that is a pretty accurate description of the situation. I would make a few slight tweaks to it. The global warming denialists do include both industry-funded liars, as well as genuine cranks or “kooks”. They also include some who are politically motivated (e.g. those who start frothing and ranting at the very mention of Al Gore and who imagine that climate science is somehow a “liberal” agenda).

    I don’t know whether George Will is directly paid to lie by fossil fuel corporations, as are the denizens of various ExxonMobil funded propaganda mills masquerading as “conservative” think tanks, but his writings indicate that he is generally in favor of whatever wealthy, powerful corporations want. And he is definitely both a crank and a partisan political propagandist.

    And importantly, I would add that the denialists include much greater numbers of people who have been duped by the paid liars and the cranks and the political operatives. There is hope for many of these folks, except perhaps for the hardcore ditto-heads, if they can stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and start listening to scientists. In this respect RealClimate is especially valuable.

    And on the side of science, I think that climate scientists are motivated by a desire to learn and to make known the truth — to a point that has sometimes muffled their voices in the public discussion of AGW, where it has seemed that they hesitate to speak out about what they are quite certain is actually happening, unless and until they can state every result with 99 percent confidence to the tenth decimal point. If anything, the scientific community has put its devotion to truth ahead of alerting the public to the urgency of the the problem and the gravity of the danger.

    But I think that increasingly, climate scientists are also motivated by an entirely justified fear of what they see happening to the planet, and the planetary catastrophe that they see coming down on us fast; as well as by an equally justified concern that their message has not been getting through to those who are in a position to do something about it.

    When James Hansen is willing to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against coal-fired power plants, something has definitely changed — and not a moment too soon.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Mar 2009 @ 6:16 PM

  120. Gavin (111), you misread William (IMO, though I might be wrong…). He was not overtly accusing climatologists of those bad deeds but using a foil to play off and exemplify SecularAnimist’s black and white thinking — them 100% bad and evil; us 100% pristine and altruistic.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Mar 2009 @ 6:24 PM

  121. I have read Mr. Will for decades. I am afraid he shares some of the more repulsive traits of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. He reflects the thinking of a class of oligarchs whose every word and action is aimed toward perpetuating their own wealth and power, and destroying all that might, conceivably, threaten their privilege. They would passionately deny such a charge, claim they act for the benefit of all mankind, rather than their own. In practice, of course, they are convinced that the benefit of all mankind is best served by advancing their own ends.

    Mr. Will and some of his fellow travellers provide a valuable window into the minds of a rapacious class of powerful thieves. That is why I read his columns.

    That said, Mr. Will is not an unintelligent man, with some command of the English language, as is evident in his careful constructions in the article, skirting the edges of untruth, and most economical with the truth as well.

    His misstatements are calculated. His errors are intentional. He has done this before. And he will again.

    Oh, yes, and he has a few passably interesting opinions on baseball.

    Comment by sidd — 2 Mar 2009 @ 6:30 PM

  122. > One of them asked a particular question on this site
    > a week or so back and thought the answer given was
    > kind of a brushoff …

    You might help him a bit. If he asked a really general question of the kind often posted by complete novices who didn’t read the links at Start Here, he likely got pointed to Start Here and to Weart’s link.

    That’d be more likely if he didn’t give any indication of understanding the science generally.

    Speaking only for myself, please do remind him a that often those quickest at jumping on new people’s questions are “Some Guy On A Blog”-grade commenters (like me). And we should do better.

    The climate scientists sponsoring the site are listed on the right hand sidebar. A little reading and searching, then asking a question that says “I read this and that, and I don’t understand something….” can get a more thoughtful answer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 6:52 PM

  123. Alan of Oz: [50]
    Thanks for your ‘calm’ and ‘tolerant’ critique.
    I notice you are completely unable to refute.
    The attitudes and situation I described are all on the public record—including the Gore interviews.
    In this case, it’s you who are in denial.
    And, by the way, have you seen any of those back bench politicians exercising their freedom of speech by putting themselves and their unfashionable views before the public for the Australian media to crucify?

    Comment by truth — 2 Mar 2009 @ 7:33 PM

  124. RE 121 Sidd

    “Oh, yes, and he [Will] has a few passably interesting opinions on baseball.

    Here is comedian Dana Carvey’s take on George Will and baseball:

    http://pushingrope.blogspot.com/2008/10/george-will-baseball-parody.html

    Also, check out the George Will baseball quiz below the video window on that page.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 2 Mar 2009 @ 7:43 PM

  125. GaryB Says (2 March 2009 at 5:51 PM)

    “James, I have no idea how you got that from Krugman’s article but I didn’t see him suggesting we consume more, in fact I didn’t see him suggest anything.”

    Not even that the current economic problems were rooted in a “glut” of savings? And since the opposite of saving is spending on consumer goods, and all that spending creates more jobs, which creates more demand…

    Oddly enough, I remember (vaguely enough not to recall the author) an old science fiction story on this theme: the poor had to spend their lives living in mansions & working their butts off to use up an open-ended supply of consumer goods; the rich got to live in small cottages in the country and wear old clothes. Might be by Issac Asimov, since I recall that the hero saved the day by getting the household robots to do his consuming for him…

    Comment by James — 2 Mar 2009 @ 7:55 PM

  126. James, here ya go:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=science+fiction+robots+consumption+wearing+out
    finds several references to the story. One is:
    http://variety-sf.blogspot.com/2008/06/frederik-pohl-midas-plague-novella.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:12 PM

  127. James,

    First (and more importantly), I’m pretty sure the story you’re thinking of is in Midas World by Frederik Pohl, one of the great social commentators in the world of sci fi.

    Second, saying the savings glut is responsible for our economic woes is a little simplistic. In fact, the economic problems are more a cause of too LITTLE savings on the part of most consumers (in the US and some other developed nations) and too MUCH dependence on credit by, well, everyone in the developed world. At the same time, there were huge pools of money looking for somewhere to be invested, and there was only so much economically productive investment to be made. So, lots of that money was invested in financial instruments that inflated asset values and bank-rolled consumers whose incomes couldn’t support their consumption. It was a classic house of cards.

    Cheers,

    Martin

    Comment by Martin — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:41 PM

  128. James (125) — Frederik Pohl:

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

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:45 PM

  129. Not even that the current economic problems were rooted in a “glut” of savings? And since the opposite of saving is spending on consumer goods, and all that spending creates more jobs, which creates more demand…

    You didn’t understand his point. Actually, first of all, he’s recapping a point made by Barnanke, not claiming it as his own.

    Rather than paraphrase, here’s a snippet:

    But after the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 (which seemed like a big deal at the time but looks trivial compared with what’s happening now), these countries began protecting themselves by amassing huge war chests of foreign assets, in effect exporting capital to the rest of the world.

    The result was a world awash in cheap money, looking for somewhere to go.

    And much of it ended up in the US, a lot of money looking for somewhere to go, leading to lowered standards when evaluating whether or not to lend to individual “somewheres”.

    He’s talking about large scale tides of capital, not you or I saving or consuming, and regardless saving rather than spending just moves the money elsewhere, resulting in some other institution needing to figure out where to invest.

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 Mar 2009 @ 8:45 PM

  130. Hi,
    I’ve spent many years (25+) working with and developing complicated simulations of the space environment and spacecraft. During that time I’ve become all too familiar with how difficult it can be to develop accurate models that work under a reasonable set of varying inputs. Consequently, I have been very surprised at the level of certitude expressed by the pro-AGW crowd – I can’t imagine how no doubt very smart people can reasonably expect the climate models to be anywhere close to accurate.

    Lately I’ve spent many hours trying to understand the Global Warming/Climate Change debate (and I use that term loosely) and the models. I haven’t been able to find much useful info (and I read the GISS model description – not much meat there). I’m hoping someone here can point me to useful descriptions (models, algorithms) for a few things:
    1) How do you model varying solar flux (F10, Ap)? I have the impression it may be treated as a constant (??) but am having trouble digesting that.

    [Response: F10, Ap are solar proxies - they have no impact on climate. The irradiance (which is correlated to those proxies) varies and impacts the amount of energy coming in at the top of the atmosphere. - gavin]

    2) What about the energy balance? How are the thermodynamics modelled?

    [Response: Not sure what you mean. There are equations for energy in the model with inputs, outputs and various fluxes, phase changes etc. They are written to be energy conservative. - gavin]

    3) Albedo model. Radiation and impact of ice/snow, cloud cover, etc.

    [Response: The surface albedo is a complicated function of surface type, zenith angle, snow cover, type of snow, wind speed (for ocean albedo) etc. It varies as a function of wavelength etc. But again, I don't really know what you are asking. - gavin]

    4) General descriptions of the models would be helpful.

    [Response: Try 'A Climate Modelling Primer' by Henderson-Sellers. Or one of the earlier GCM papers (Hansen et al 1983) which is a pretty good description of the model at that time. - gavin]

    Thanks for the help. I have really searched quite a bit and found next to nothing (I have found interesting stuff about Milankovitch cycles though)

    Jeff

    P.S. I’m an informed skeptic on AGW. I’m very pro-environemtn and have been for decades. I think it is clear that humans are having a huge impact on the planet. Probably all the CO2 is a bad thing. But for anyone to think we understand how this is going to play out strikes me as big time hubris.

    Comment by Jeff — 3 Mar 2009 @ 12:26 AM

  131. Martin Says (2 March 2009 at 8:41 PM):

    “Second, saying the savings glut is responsible for our economic woes is a little simplistic…”

    Well, I thought so too, but that did (and still does) seem to be the thrust of that column, and several others of his that I’ve seen in recent weeks. Though I’ll be the first to admit that economics at this level confuses the heck out of me, it does seem that he’s describing a healthy economy that looks a lot like a snake eating its own tail: people have to get credit in order to buy consumer goods which will create jobs so more people can qualify for better credit so they can buy more…

    The point, of course, being that this end of liberal economics wraps right back through some higher dimension to the right-wing denialist who says we can’t possibly even try to do anything about AGW ’cause it’d affect his sacred lifestyle.

    Anyway, this seems to have drifted far enough from the topic.

    Comment by James — 3 Mar 2009 @ 2:54 AM

  132. David (114),

    You wrote:
    “For many (most ?) people (including many newspaper commentators) the scientific world is a closed book. If they look around on the web to try and educate themselves, they see that for every argument there is a counter argument and a conspiracy amongst scientific organisations seems just as plausible as a conspiracy run by Exxon.”

    That is the reason that I compiled an (incomplete) list of clues for the layperson to make sense out of the (media) debate on climate change (or other complex scientific topics): http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/who-to-believe/

    E.g. no scientific background is needed to see that there is a vast difference in likelihood of the two conspiracies you mention to be true. But admittedly, a person’s worldview (to what extent are science or corporations trusted) can greatly influence their perception of this likelihood. A certain degree of rationality is still needed to apply these clues correctly.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 3 Mar 2009 @ 3:41 AM

  133. Rodb #120. Argument by the excluded middle.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Mar 2009 @ 3:47 AM

  134. re:#55 (mine), #9, all responses to Mitch, et al:

    I said in my previous response there was a concerted effort, organized and intentional, to create massive disinformation currently and into this year over ACC. I have found the central source for this, and – Surprise! – it appears to be Inhofe’s office. From The Wonk Room via Climate Change: the Next Generation:
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/02/17/marc-morano-jokers/

    “Marc Morano, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)’s environmental communications director, sits at the center of the right-wing global warming denier propaganda machine — of fifty-two people. Conservative columnist Fred Barnes recently refused to tell TPM Muckraker who’s informed him “the case for global warming” is falling apart, but all signs point to Marc Morano. Morano’s “entire job,” Gristmill’s David Roberts explains, “is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts” to the right-wing echo chamber. The Wonk Room has acquired Morano’s email list, and we can now reveal the pack of climate skeptics, conservative bloggers, and corporate hacks who feed the misinformation machine.”

    #35, et al.: First, I’d like to suggest that Gavin, et al., take the KISS it principle deadly serious. Explanations need to be accessible to the general public. Humbly, here’s my take, from a post I should have put on my blog back in September/October, but haven’t yet:

    “Not nearly as well-covered is the issue of ice mass. 2008 appears to have had the lowest ice mass on record due to thinning of the ice. This is important because it deals with the Arctic sea ice’s ability to rebuild during winters.

    Ice **mass** is the number that tells you how much ice there actually is, but extent gets all the action.

    Extent is very important because it is the key to calculating albedo. That is, how much solar energy is being absorbed by the water. More ice area causes more energy to be reflected out to space and less absorbed by the water. BUT total ice mass is also vital. The point is obvious: the thicker the ice is, the less likely it is to melt in the summer.

    Not well known is that much of the melt observed this summer came from the bottom and sides of the ice as a direct result of warmer water. In fact, a certain amount of the melt occurred while air temperatures were below freezing **because** the water was so warm.

    I assume the fascination with ice extent obviously has to do with the dramatic images. It’s hard to make ice thickness interesting, while ice extent makes an easy, and striking, visual for ice melt. The changes are so obvious. But leaving the public uninformed on all aspects of the issue leaves them vulnerable to anti-Anthropological Climate Change nonsense.

    It is easy to twist the reality when important elements are ignored. Anthropologically-forced Climate Change denialists point to the slight rebound from 2007 to 2008 and scream that it can’t be due to GHGs because the ice is now coming back! Set aside the unscientific absurdity for a moment and let the numbers do the talking: while extent in 2008 was slightly higher than 2007 (just as 2006 was higher than 2005), it appears the total ice mass was the lowest recorded yet. http://nsidc.org/news/press/20081002_seaice_pressrelease.html

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 3 Mar 2009 @ 5:10 AM

  135. OFF TOPIC but necessary post.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2009/mar/03/sea-levels-rising

    Good psot from Stefan showing that Bjorn Lomborg is not telling us any scientific truths about AGW (well we knew that already).

    Comment by pete best — 3 Mar 2009 @ 5:38 AM

  136. James:[59]
    How desperate so many of you on the consensus side are —desperate to firmly slot anyone who disagrees with you into the ‘religious right’, intelligent design, Far Right extremist , Exxon mole, or whatever pigeonhole—anywhere where they can then be sneered at and vilified..
    I’m not in any of those categories —I’m speaking only for me and my family—- but no doubt some other label would be found
    Even people who just ask that all the ramifications of precipitate actions [previously-failed Emissions Trading Schemes ---geo-engineering musings etc] be rationally discussed —- are fair game—such a crime to discuss these important issues.
    I’m accused of paranoia for describing the existing , [ on the record there for anyone to see ]situation that this world of post-normal science and policy has produced in my country, Australia.
    It’s become popular on this blog to use the word ‘meme’ to try to discredit anyone who has a dissenting view—as you use it here to dismiss me .
    The word more closely describes what’s happening on the consensus side, not the dissenters—as does the paranoia label.
    This blog is full of AGW consensus conspiracy theorists who see Exxon, Chaney or Rush Limbaugh lurking behind every dissenting view.
    But they need to look to the situation that post-normal science , [as advocated by Mike Hulme] , has created, where many people wonder how we’ll ever know whether truth has , as Hulme wished for, been traded for influence.
    More than 90% of Australians said , when polled, that they were in favour of a unilateral Emissions Trading Scheme—but when asked if they actually knew what an ETS was, the same numbers said they hadn’t a clue—they just believed in it—believing in it having become more important than whether or not it’s true.
    That ‘consensus’-induced mindset, which is replicated around the world [interviews with ‘believers’ attest to that in the US and Europe] fits better with the labels ‘meme’ and paranoia.

    Comment by truth — 3 Mar 2009 @ 8:18 AM

  137. Jeff #130, I think that part of the problem you may be having is that you don’t understand how climate models work. Yes, there are many complicated inputs, feedbacks, etc., but at the root it is very simple. Start with a system in thermal equilibrium and in which energy may only escape via radiation. Make a change that decreases decreases the energy escaping (e.g. raising ghg levels). Voila. The system has to heat up. I would suggest studying the physics a bit before delving into the guts of the models. After all, the models are merely a tool for elucidating the physics, and the physics is quite clear.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Mar 2009 @ 8:33 AM

  138. kevin (97)

    I’ve concluded that much of the right’s vehement accusations of “left bias” in scientists (and experts of any discipline) can only be explained by the knowledge that they themselves have of their own misconstruing evidence. Since they themselves try to cobble together the most plausible (at least to their target audience) arguments to support a predetermined position, ignoring contradictory evidence, they assume that those who ‘oppose’ them are doing the same.

    Now this seems so unlikely it took me a while to think I could believe it. It requires one to imagine people who do not believe in people whose motive is finding the truth, but only in finding arguments for their political biases. Nevertheless, I’ve been unable to come up with a better explanation for some of the anti climate change, or anti natural selection, or any other of the various anti-isms. I call them anti-isms (I’m not sure if this has been used before, so I don’t intend to import any previous connotation), but this is to be separate from whether the bias if for or against a thing—or even whether the mainstream idea it is ‘against’ is true or false—but that the arguments an anti-ism makes are not in the pursuit of truth, but of sheer opposition. Like the Monty Python skit.

    [Response: I too have come to pretty much the same conclusion. To these people it is inconceivable that everything they do is not with some specific political objective - therefore no-one else's actions can be for any other motive. It's a curious phenomena. - gavin]

    Comment by jhm — 3 Mar 2009 @ 9:32 AM

  139. James@113,
    Krugman ends his article:
    “So that’s how we got into this mess. And we’re still looking for the way out.”

    Your claim that he is recommending increased consumption powered by coal simply has no warrant whatever. As GaryB says, he’s not, in that article, making any suggestions as to a way out, just noting that one is still being sought.

    A suggestion that I have a hunch he might agree with, however, is that a good chunk of those excess savings should be invested in renewable energy infrastructure and lower-emission transport systems – or even, if you must, nuclear power. both for the rich countries such as the USA and western Europe; and for those that have been building coal-fired power plants as fast as possible recenrtly, such as China and India. A “glut of savings” can be dealt with by investing more, rather than consuming more.

    Hmm. Captcha says “STUMP $100-million”. I think it’s rather outdated though – that should surely be $100-billion” if not “$100-trillion”!

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 3 Mar 2009 @ 9:51 AM

  140. Re 136′s paranoic contention

    “How desperate so many of you on the consensus side are —desperate to firmly slot anyone who disagrees with you into the ‘religious right’, intelligent design, Far Right extremist , Exxon mole, or whatever pigeonhole—anywhere where they can then be sneered at and vilified..”

    Well, yes, if you have enough pigeon-holes, you can classify EVERYONE in at least one of them.

    This does not mean you are being pigeon-holed for nefarious purposes. It’s a consequence of using pigeon-holing to classify broad sections of people.

    Meanwhile, this:

    “This blog is full of AGW consensus conspiracy theorists who see Exxon, Chaney or Rush Limbaugh lurking behind every dissenting view.”

    is pigeonholing all the consensus people of being conspiracy theorists and all seeing Exxon et al lurking behind… and so on.

    Seems to be a common problem with you.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Mar 2009 @ 10:38 AM

  141. #136, Mr T, There is no doubt about AGW, just some doubt about how fast and fierce its happening. I don’t think Mr Will for instance
    is working for EXXON or the CATO institute, I believe he is catering to his crowd, willing to be re-assured by ignorance. There are a lot of people not attached to any vested interest, who shut down their minds, in favor of someone else thinking for them, who rather discuss other things than the entire planetary climate systems changing. These people are set in their ways, many have enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at the expense of their environment. They do not care, and love to hear anyone saying that AGW is a mass scientific delusion propped up by politics, a forum, where lying is acceptable.

    I can assure you, that those who believe in these like minded
    in ignorance spokespersons are in the same boat as those who chose to think for themselves. AGW is a done deal, whether you believe in it or not. The only thing we can do, is try to mitigate its
    impact. Happily, I am amazed by the younger generation taking charge
    on this subject, while the older one wallows in incertitude, worried about the faltering economy still driven by pollution.

    It is time to invest in energy renewables big time, a massive make work project, leaving to our younger generations the gift of a cleaner world driven by a greener economy. Its all about this; shall we stay the same old same old? Stuck in a rut since 1909? Or advance to counter the negative impacts unleashed by our growth with a positive approach?

    This is why Mr Will and all, are said to be conservative (pro pollution), they see AGW as a political battle not a scientific one. I don’t see see most deniers as moles, just simply as being wrong with respect to the science freely offered to them, all they have to do is reason it through.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 3 Mar 2009 @ 10:42 AM

  142. ‘truth’ writes
    > I’m speaking only for me and my family
    But you’re using the catch-phrases, jargon, and common misspellings found on the PR sites you claim people unfairly think you read.

    Where are you getting this stuff? Why do you consider your sources trustworthy?

    Tell us something you read under Start Here (top of page) and the History (first link under Science in the right hand sidebar) — tell us something you understand from reading the science.

    While you’re simply writing stuff — even if it’s all purely your own work, and you never ever read any of it at the PR blogs where they use the language you’re using, even if that’s _all_coincidental_ — you still aren’t talking about the science.

    Try the science. It can’t hurt you. It may help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2009 @ 11:09 AM

  143. #111 Gavin
    Thanks for your response but that’s not my accusation. I used those two examples to illustrate the extremes of commentary on this topic here and elsewhere. My comments are respectful to others and proceed from an honest desire to learn and have a discussion about the science. Thanks again for your reply and I do and will continue to practice what I preach!
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by William — 3 Mar 2009 @ 11:22 AM

  144. Re #134 Indeed the idea of ice extent and thickness says it all for it is about energy. Why would the oceans suddenly start to absorb energy (heat and light/UV I am presuming) unless something was causing it to happen. Something that was not there before (the graphs that Gavin posted as a reply to one of the replies in this thread)? The amount of energy required to have caused the amount of summer sea ice loss must be down to GHG theory and of course Albedo changes due to the thinning of the ice and the pools of water that form on thinner newly formed ice.

    This energy requirement must be very large and cannot have just materialised out of thin air. For those that deny AGW/GHG theory must be able to demonstrate where the heat energy has come from and I doubt sincerely that undersea volcanoes or increased sun output can explain it as the science from other disciplines (geology and astronomy) would have demonstrated otherwise but they do not so they ?

    So the whole idea of the denialside is purely economic and political and has no science attached to it ?

    Comment by pete best — 3 Mar 2009 @ 11:39 AM

  145. jhm wrote: “I’ve concluded that much of the right’s vehement accusations of ‘left bias’ in scientists (and experts of any discipline) can only be explained by the knowledge that they themselves have of their own misconstruing evidence. Since they themselves try to cobble together the most plausible (at least to their target audience) arguments to support a predetermined position, ignoring contradictory evidence, they assume that those who ‘oppose’ them are doing the same.”

    I think it is much simpler than that. It is important to understand the top-down structure of the so-called “conservative” movement in the USA. It is starkly divided between the propagandists on the one hand (e.g. Rush Limbaugh) and the grassroots “conservatives” (e.g. Rush Limbaugh’s self-proclaimed “ditto-heads”) on the other, whom the propagandists are paid to systematically deceive and mislead.

    The fact that a completely non-ideological issue like the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming has become a central issue for the so-called “conservatives” demonstrates that the movement is actually not ideological at all — it is at most pseudo-ideological. It was created, funded and developed over decades by wealthy corporate interests for the purpose of deceiving gullible people into voting for politicians who will advance the agenda of those corporate interests. It has no real ideology and no real principles, other than the rapacious greed of those who created it and use it to deceive and manipulate ill-informed and gullible people.

    The fossil fuel corporations are certainly among the wealthiest and most powerful of the corporate interests behind the so-called “conservative” movement, and in this instance they have mobilized their bought-and-paid-for networks of “conservative” propagandists to preach to their “ditto-head” followers that “global warming” is a “liberal” hoax.

    The propagandists who read that script on the radio or type it up in their newspaper columns don’t actually believe this, but it’s not their job to believe or disbelieve. It’s their job to disseminate the propaganda messages that are given to them by their owners. They say this stuff because it has been focus-group-tested and proved effective on their audience, who have for decades been hammered with propaganda that they are the poor pitiful victims of “powerful liberal elites”. The “global warming = liberal hoax” script builds on that conditioning.

    On the other hand, the targets of this propaganda — the rank-and-file, grassroots, so-called “conservative” ditto-heads — do believe it, but not as a result of any thinking process such as you describe. They “believe” it simply because they have been systematically conditioned and programmed to believe whatever Rush Limbaugh or George Will tells them.

    When you scratch the surface of any denialist who posts comments here, that’s what you will find: ultimately, the reason they don’t “believe” in global warming, the reason they believe it is a vast conspiracy by “leftist” scientists, is simply because that’s what they have been told to believe, and the core value of the so-called “conservative” movement is to slavishly believe (and repeat) whatever the corporate-funded “conservative” propagandists tell them to believe.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 Mar 2009 @ 11:47 AM

  146. Ray #137
    Your response sounds simple However, I’ve just learned that GCM’s are not capable of modeling actual average global temperatures. By actual temperature I don’t mean the “anomalies”, I’m referring to the full average surface temp. Based on the GISS database, global temps over the last 100 years or so were about 14-14.5C. All but twow GCM’s forecast temperature over the last 100 years to be between 12-14.5C. see link at:
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/fact-6a-model-simulations-dont-match-average-surface-temperature-of-the-earth/
    If GCM’s cannot accurately describe actual current temperatures how can they accurately describe future climate?
    Thanks
    William

    [Response: The GISTEMP data does not compute the average annual global mean temperature. In fact, it's not clear that is even possible to do so. They use 14 deg C as a convention, but as explained ably here, the actual value is highly uncertain. It is therefore not widely used as a tuning target, and so models end up with a range. - gavin]

    Comment by William — 3 Mar 2009 @ 11:54 AM

  147. Jeff writes:
    “P.S. I’m an informed skeptic on AGW. I’m very pro-environemtn and have been for decades. I think it is clear that humans are having a huge impact on the planet. Probably all the CO2 is a bad thing. But for anyone to think we understand how this is going to play out strikes me as big time hubris.”

    First, that is why all studies and projections include error estimates. The best we can do is to base action on what seems, in balance, likely on the basis of what we know.

    Second, if you assume that modern climate studies are so uncertain that nothing can be concluded from them, the last thing you should be in favor of is making large changes to the radiative nature of the atmosphere. That is what we are doing, and unless we change something, the imbalance will grow at an accelerating pace. Of course we may be lucky and doubling atmospheric CO_2 concentration may have only minor consequences. But what reason do we have to believe such is the case. It is not enough to be skeptical about the results of action. You need to be even more skeptical about the results of inaction.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 3 Mar 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  148. Re: #52 and #41

    There is some degeneracy. Over here Sir Patrick Moore is an enthusiastic populariser of astronomy with maverick right wing views. In North America Patrick Moore is a lobbyist who has campaigned in favour of CFC’s and CO2. Which one?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 3 Mar 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  149. I often come to these posts looking for responses to show my climate change doubting friends and relatives. I’d love to show them the responses but most of the articles can’t help themselves from using labels like “left” = good, “conservative” = bad, or including generally snarky responses. Those types of labels shut down the arguement before it even begins. I think we’d all have a lot more credibility as scientists if we stuck to the facts and left the labelling and value judgements aside. Pointing out Will’s scientific errors makes sense. The rest is noise.

    Comment by Kathy — 3 Mar 2009 @ 1:43 PM

  150. William — Note the spin, you got spun.

    You link to wossname’s site where she refers to a single specific number (not useful, not used, not news, not a problem for the models). You interpret (or she spins it) as though a revalation, news, proof of a problem, a new copypast point you can use

    Then you exaggerate _that_.

    You come here and write, as though it were a general fact, your newly acquired belief that models can’t calculate “current temperatures” — plural, general.

    You got spun. Watch for it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2009 @ 1:51 PM

  151. WRT to Secular Animist’s above post, I think it is fair to say that a lot of “denialist” posters are at least partially motivated by anti-elitism, either economic, intellectual, or both. Denouncing one of these guys for his ignorance (regardless of how egregious) will just harden his position all the more. And though it may satisfy, it won’t actually sting him that badly. Ignorance is an extremely negative value for the scientific community; not so much for other communities, who may rank other virtues–say, industry, or responsibility–much higher in the scheme of things.

    (Which I guess is why I’ve been arguing the irresponsibility of emissions BAU lately.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Mar 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  152. I can’t believe the mainstream media are STILL up to dirty reporting/editorials on global warming. They’ve been worse than rotten for 20 years. The only way the WASHINGTON POST can redeem itself for this outrageous George Will column is to write a front page article on James Hansen’s recent Bjerknes lecture (with the large color picture of Faust and the Devil from page 24).

    People have a right to know and the media have an obligation, a sacred duty, to tell about very serious threats to all life on planet earth. Failure and the ostrich-head-in-the-sand approach are not options. WaPo editors, please read the following.

    See (esp. page 24): http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf

    ReCaptcha: drops 01-11 (I think this has something to do with sea ice extent)

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Mar 2009 @ 4:04 PM

  153. @Kevin McKinney et al

    If you look on Dave Neiwert’s Orcinus blog, he has a whole discussion of why fascism in particular appeals to the anti-elitist crowd.

    This is relevant because many of those same people – god knows, I have spoken to them often enough — are genuinely frightened and disturbed by the idea that there’s a bunch of stuff that could affect their livelihoods that they don’t understand.

    It’s a kind of defense mechanism, I think. It doesn’t mean that experts are always right. but it does stem from a feeling of powerlessness. Even though those same scientists are the ones who provide many of the gadgets and goodies people take for granted.

    Couple all that with demonizing “the other” — you can see where this goes.

    Captcha: Mille Super

    Comment by Jesse — 3 Mar 2009 @ 4:21 PM

  154. Geoff 148, the UK one.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Mar 2009 @ 4:50 PM

  155. “If you look on Dave Neiwert’s Orcinus blog, he has a whole discussion of why fascism in particular appeals to the anti-elitist crowd.”
    This in an interesting site (which I did not know)and, unfortunately, it is relevant for what we are dealing with. It’s all very simple – and very stupid too, but that’s how it is – some people feel betrayed by political institutions (in some cases, they have a point); they lose their jobs or get less income – so they blame the immigrants (which is very dumb); there is a war going on which cannot be won, and so on, there are so many problems and then – I’ve heard that many times already – ‘there is this now’ – it all becomes too much and they fell prey to the professional liars. But that is the world we live in: a minority is going to believe in white supremacy, in creationism and it won’t believe anything about climate change and this is very scary.

    Comment by Will Denayer — 3 Mar 2009 @ 4:57 PM

  156. Jeff (130) — Here are two books describing “if this goes on” scenarios:

    “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas,
    “Hell and High Water” by Joseph Romm,

    and a description of a very bad event in the distant past, one which we might cause to be repeated:

    “Under a Green sky” by Peter D. Ward

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Mar 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  157. re 145, it may be simpler than that for most:

    A comfortable lie is preferable to a painful truth.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Mar 2009 @ 5:08 PM

  158. Gavin :
    Some confusion may arise from there being two ‘Jim Manzi’s’ both computer scientists , both of whom have written on climate policy , and other matters, for National Review as well as one whom you cite, having authored the piece in The Nation to which you refer.

    [Response: Hmm... actually, I was referring to the one that wrote the National Review cover story June 2007 - discussed here. I'll correct the post. Thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 3 Mar 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  159. Re: 138

    I ran into that same “curious phenomena” nine years ago when NWS supervisors claimed a NOAA press release (February, 2000) on global warming was politically motivated, as was NOAA’s director at that time Dr. James Baker. They figured I was too, so that ordered me not to talk about global warming, not even as a private citizen at the Mall of America!

    Comment by Pat N — 3 Mar 2009 @ 7:23 PM

  160. gavin (138): “To these people it is inconceivable that everything they do is not with some specific political objective – therefore no-one else’s actions can be for any other motive.”

    So do ‘these people’ only exist on the denial side of the argument, or might they include some on the alarmist side?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 3 Mar 2009 @ 7:47 PM


  161. nd a description of a very bad event in the distant past, one which we might cause to be repeated:

    “Under a Green sky” by Peter D. Ward

    Low concentrations of carbon monoxide (a few parts per thousand) can kill you quickly, but you can’t smell it.

    Hydrogen cyanide is quite toxic at low concentrations, but many people can’t smell it.

    Hydrogen sulfide, in contrast, is incredibly evil smelling, even at concentrations far below dangerous levels.

    If you ever wondered why hydrogen sulfide smells so much worse than other toxic gases, Peter Ward has a plausible explanation.

    Comment by caerbannog — 3 Mar 2009 @ 7:58 PM

  162. David [64]:
    I agree with you about the cultural and moral relativism that pervades Australian universities—especially in the faculties of education, arts, sociology and nursing—but also in the war between social and substantive law advocates , that almost closed down the law faculty in one of our major universities.
    This relativism has been a triumph for the Left, and a tragedy for education , and the general well-being of the Western democracies.
    How can any of us be surprised that high school and university students [ in Australia anyway], are turning away in droves from the absolutism of maths as a choice for study?
    The relativism mindset encourages the examination of issues and subjects, not for their substance, but for the image and influence to be gained by taking a certain position on them.
    The preconceived objective for the children of relativism is to come out of any examination of the climate change issue with the great ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of being seen as a ‘saviour of the planet’—-not to get to the truth of the situation.
    The consensus scientists would gain enormous respect from those who criticise them now, [ scientists or non-scientists] if it could be seen that they showed some respect to other scientists from all the many fields that are involved in climate science—– if they changed from ‘attack and smear’ mode to ‘listen and refute or adjust’.
    When AGW consensus scientists bristle at the slightest dissension or correction from other scientists, and when one of their most prominent colleagues, Mike Hulme of the Tyndall Centre first spoke out reasonably against the ‘discourse of catastrophe’ [ from climate scientists and politicians], as a ‘political and rhetorical device’ in 2006, then told the world in 2007 , that climate scientists must ‘trade truth for influence’—that scientists who ‘want to remain listened to, to bear influence on policy’, must ‘recognise the social limits of their truth-seeking, and reveal fully the values and beliefs they bring to their scientific activity’—-then there will be mistrust—how could it be otherwise?
    I disagree very strongly with the extreme condescension of your last paragraph.
    Conservatives know [ not ‘think’ ]what they’re fighting against—-and they’re much more inclined to look ‘beyond surface’ than the consensus side.

    Comment by truth — 3 Mar 2009 @ 8:51 PM

  163. RE #111 & “One side is populated by liars, kooks or is bought by the energy industry, and the other side is motivated only by the pure desire to share the truth that has been revealed to them by proxy studies and GCM’s.”

    There is a third side, the laypersons concerned about life on planet earth side. We’re motivated by love of our children and other creatures. We’re on the far side of the scientists, whom we respect, while understanding they must strive to avoid false positives (re untrue claims) to maintain their reputations. We care squat about our reputations and strive to avoid false negatives — we don’t need much proof of a problem with the magnitude of climate change & its dangerous effects before rushing out to solve it, even in the face of tremendous ridicule.

    We started reducing our greenhouse gases by 1990 or earlier, well before scientific studies started reaching .05 significance (95% confidence) in 1995. Many of us have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 1/4 to 3/4 cost-effectively, and are saving money without lowering living standards. We believe others (the ones who have made the U.S. emissions increase by 20% since 1990) are very bad actors, or just terribly uninformed, or preoccupied with various types of nonsense.

    So there is this third side quite different from the denialists and the scientists, and we’re just waiting for the media to start telling our story & not stay caught somewhere between scientists needing 90 to 95% confidence before claiming there’s a problem and denialists needing 99 to 101% certainty, as if there are only 2 sides to the story.

    We’re way out in sensible field, far from the right and left fields, wondering where the rest of humanity (if you can call it that) is.

    And there’s a fourth side, but its proponents aren’t born yet — the thoughts and views of the vast majority of climate change victims over the next hundreds to possibly many thousands of years. Someone ought to write a column on their behalf and displace George Will’s columns. It’s quite embarrassing for our generation that they (the future climate change victims) might be reading his columns some day.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Mar 2009 @ 10:41 PM

  164. > a fourth side …. Someone ought to write a column on their behalf …

    Here:

    Climate Threat to the Planet: Implications for Energy Policy and Intergenerational Justice (2.4 MB PDF). Bjerknes Lecture given Dec. 17, 2008, at the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. Slides also available as PowerPoint (23.3 MB)

    Here:

    http://www.ecoequity.org/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Mar 2009 @ 12:14 AM

  165. Quick notes on responses to my post (#130) – First thanks.

    Second, I am surprised at the response to my post that “F10, Ap are solar proxies – they have no impact on climate.”. Hmmmm. We need to have a beer. You can’t really mean that solar flux has no impact on climate right? I’d suggest that the Sun is pretty much the primary contributor to climate/weather on the planet earth. I’m sure you know better than I that if we decreased or increased solar flux by say 1%/year for the next 10 years we would see huge climate changes unlike anything in human history. I’d suggest that you guys think that since this is highly unlikely we should act like the sun is constant and therefore doesn’t affect climate. I think this is what is meant by solar flux has no impact on climate. I can’t quite agree here and think the Maunder minimum would be exhibit #1.

    [Response: Read my response again. Solar irradiance does change and does affect climate. The specific indices you mentioned F10 and Ap are not irradiance measures, they are simply correlated to it. Thus they have no direct impact on climate. -gavin]

    Third, Ray #137 says “Start with a system in thermal equilibrium and in which energy may only escape via radiation.”. Thermodynamics was always my favorite subject in school (especially statistical thermo which isn’t much applicable here). I don’t think we have a system that is in equilibrium. If we did there wouldn’t be global warming or cooling right? My point is that I would like to see how you guys model the energy input (solar flux, and maybe some energy from radioactive decay in the earth’s core) and the energy output (radiation – which is why I asked about albedo). We have a system in pseudo-equilibrium I suppose.

    Anyway, nuff said. I’ll just say that I’d bet the farm that in 100 years people look back and think “I can’t believe they thought they had it all figured out”. I understand that you have to make the best assumptions you can make and go with the result – it’s the only way to move forward. I just can’t believe folks don’t add a LOT more caveats and that a significant group of scientists believe they KNOW how the climate is going to change going forward. Much of what we think we know isn’t quite right. I’d say our knowledge of climate modelling is on par with our economic modelling. I humbly suggest y’all are locked in your paradigm and would do well to try and get out of the box a bit.

    I do appreciate the forum and enjoy reading it.

    Thanks,
    Jeff

    Comment by Jeff — 4 Mar 2009 @ 1:01 AM

  166. Jeff:

    P.S. I’m an informed skeptic on AGW. I’m very pro-environemtn and have been for decades. I think it is clear that humans are having a huge impact on the planet. Probably all the CO2 is a bad thing. But for anyone to think we understand how this is going to play out strikes me as big time hubris.

    Anyone who thinks that not understanding this means we can keep changing the atmosphere with impunity strikes me as big time hubris too. It is like saying what we don’t know can’t hurt us.

    Comment by Chris O\'Neill — 4 Mar 2009 @ 1:05 AM

  167. > Mike Hulme

    That’s a reference to this cautionary piece, which is hardly news.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/mar/14/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

    Woo. Maybe this would explain where he was going when he wrote that?

    Adaptation to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values and Governance
    S Dessai, M Hulme, R Lempert, R Pielke Jr. – 2009 – Cambridge University Press Cambridge

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Mar 2009 @ 1:34 AM

  168. re 160, nope, they don’t all exist on the denialist side. Some exist in the pro-war eagles, some exist in the patriotic yes-man, etc. They exist all over.

    But most of the *denialists* are of that ilk.

    “We don’t know if we can affect the climate, so let’s pump out CO2″ is not a reasonable skeptical position. If we knew we COULDN’T, then we could consider pumping out CO2 without worrying.

    But for some reason, denialists demand we prove we CAN affect the atmosphere and climate, not prove that we can’t.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Mar 2009 @ 3:57 AM

  169. Mark,

    Thank you for the kind offer to teach me astronomy, but I’ve written papers on stellar astrophysics and know all about the fact that stars evolve across the main sequence, thank you very much.

    There has been no significant change in sunlight for 50 years. That is the relevant time scale to talk about global warming. The fact that the sun was 28% less bright 4.5 billion years ago is hardly relevant.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Mar 2009 @ 6:37 AM

  170. Rod,

    Lean’s reconstruction is the output from a computer model based on such things as sunspot observations. You don’t have to take the three decimal places seriously. She just put the raw printout data down in the table.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Mar 2009 @ 6:50 AM

  171. Will — The spam filter blocks the word “social-ism” because it contains the drug name “cia-lis,” and ads for the latter constitute a fair proportion of spam emailings from drug company web robots.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Mar 2009 @ 6:53 AM

  172. So, “ironically named truth,” what color is the sky on your planet. Good lord, man. You’re blaming relativism for students turning away from math? And you keep claiming there are all these “scientists” out there who dissent from the consensus theory of climate. So where have they published? I really can’t find much, and what little there is (Spencer, M&M, S&W) does nothing to illuminate our understanding of climate, and so is rightly ignored by serious researchers. Dude, you don’t have the first idea what science is.

    Oracle of ReCAPTCHA: over-dramatized Hello

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:23 AM

  173. Re: #59

    Dear David,

    Let me just point out that as soon as “Mitch” came in with his “innocent” question, half of the discussion moved away from the original topic of this most excellent post by Gavin.

    I think that was the whole point.

    In future, such obvious scammers could be directed to Naomi Oreskes video (“The American Denial of Global Warming”), wherein she explains the history and science behind CO2 and the greenhouse effect, and then goes into the history of the fossil-fuel, bought-and-paid-for, denialist industry:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

    Real students will come back with good questions, but the “Mitches” of this world will disappear.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:32 AM

  174. Steve Reynolds, It would be foolish not to acknowledge the presence of ideologues on both sides. Some in both the consensus and denialist camp are naive. Lefties who rejoice that climate change will be the end of capitalism are ignoring the fact that it ain’t gonna be to great for the “workers paradises” either. I also think that there are many who are concerned about climate change who grossly underestimate the difficulty of developing a sustainable economy and many denialists who are motivated because they perceive that very difficulty. The fallacy of the latter is that nothing trumps physical reality.
    The folks Gavin is referring to are folks for whom physical reality is irrelevant, and who are motivated solely by power, politics and advantage. The alarmed (not alarmist) camp has not attracted these cynical individuals because 1)the evidence is all on their side; 2)the consensus science still has no advocates who truly wield power; 3)entrenched fossil fuel interests (and cigarette makers…) pay cynics much better and so are more attractive to those for whom reality is 100% spinnable.

    It will be interesting to see, once climate change really starts wreaking havoc whether these rats will jump ship and how science will handle that. Personally, I think they’ll be satisfied with buying up all the high ground before the coasts flood.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:38 AM

  175. Re #166, Hank, its a good article but it just smacks of relativism to me. We know there are many variables in climate change, from fossil fuel emissions, through land use changes which then influence albedo etc but when we talk science surely we must refer back to the more empirical of them all physics and its language math along with some chemistry. Understood by the few but reported by the many in ways that are simple to understand we are just drowning in articles and opinions that scientists best avoid for they know the observed facts and truths of their subject matter and this site is the best one to visit to inform us.

    The findings of the recent Antartica report from a esteemed member of this site has been called into question due to interpolation of some of the data which some people called made up) but which is statistically and scientifically valid within the confines of method used due to it being peer reviewed and accepted which as RC has told us many time is the first hurdle of becomming accepted scientific orthodoxy. Where does it stand now I wonder ? Is it being accepted by all climate scientists, you would think so from the medias resposne to it but that is of no impact in the scientific world. Is the IPCC that by incorporating it into its reports them that make it scientific truth or does it have to make it into a scientific book.

    This is the one aspect of science that always eludes me, what is the accepted orthodoxy, is it in the halls of academia, in the minds of the proponents or in a book somewhere updated yearly to reflect the sum of all human knowledge on the subject?

    ClimatAudi and WattsUpWithThat argue about everything that seems to be AGW significant but I guess as they rant on the web it is not science unless they produce a peer to peer paper and have it accepted for publication. Until this time Antartica has warmed !?

    =================
    As an example of nonsense speak this is an extract from a comment placed at the UK newspaper Guardian website today.
    ———————————
    Headline: Study Shows Antarctic is Warming as Predicted:

    Fact; The study shows that the Eastern Antarctic was warming between 1956 and 2007. There were satellite readings and Automatic Weather Station readings for 1980 to 2007, there was no reliable data before 1980 because of the small number of weather stations and the vastness of the continent, so Steig the lead author “interpolated” the data from 1956 to 1980, that is “made up the data” and came up with a warming trend.

    Kevin Trenberth, an IPCC modeler and supporter of AGW said, “Im sceptical, you cannot get data where none exists.”

    The whole field is riddled with sloppy data handling and storage, the refusal to share data and methodology with others they see might not take the outcome on face value and dodgy mathematics.
    ————————————

    Can anyone actually refute it, probably yes but by him printing it is there damage done.

    Comment by pete best — 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:48 AM

  176. @ 162 by “truth”:
    Please see my #97, jhm’s #138 with inline, etc. I believe your charge of unreasonable levels of moral relativism, especially as a way to characterize “the left” generally, is a straw man. I challenge you to provide evidence supporting your accusation.

    Comment by kevin — 4 Mar 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  177. Ray: “The folks Gavin is referring to are folks for whom physical reality is irrelevant, and who are motivated solely by power, politics and advantage. The alarmed (not alarmist) camp has not attracted these cynical individuals…”

    That has got to be the most naive statement I’ve seen you make. Belief in that statement is exceeding dangerous to the sincere ‘alarmed camp’.

    I fear the following worst case political scenario that would allow climate change to do the most damage:

    These cynical individuals (whom you don’t believe exist) get sufficient power to completely corrupt the mitigation process (see Hansen’s discussion of cap&trade). Once this is recognized (after trillions of dollars have been looted and almost no effect on emissions), the mitigation process will be so discredited that the public will stop listening to the sincerely alarmed and refuse to do anything about mitigation until it really is too late.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 4 Mar 2009 @ 10:10 AM

  178. Steve, You will note that I did not say that there is no danger to the reality-based community from such individuals–merely that it hasn’t attracted them in large numbers yet because they haven’t been able to figure out how to make it pay for them. I am fully cognizant that these guys could quite happily switch sides when the tide turned and climate change started wreaking havoc. I would contend, however, that the best way to guard against this is to start making intelligent policies (e.g. cap and trade) before the situation becomes dire and to remain vigilant. The scenario you outlined has not occurred in other cap and trade markets. Why do you think this situation is so different?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2009 @ 10:18 AM

  179. I concur with Ray 178, and would like to remind Steve 177 that a rough parallel of what he’s describing is already happening in the other direction–people staking out a position opposed to reality for political/ideological reasons are being discredited by the unfolding of reality, and thereby losing a place at the table not only for themselves but also for other, more reality-oriented political conservatives. In my opinion, the people who, in good faith and conscience, are worried that politically liberal attempts to address the problem will do harm than good–those are the people who should be most vocal in opposing the denialist propagandists.

    Comment by kevin — 4 Mar 2009 @ 12:00 PM

  180. BPL, #169.

    Annoying, isn’t it? :-P

    “The fact that the sun was 28% less bright 4.5 billion years ago is hardly relevant.”

    However, it is NOT irrelevant to those who start off with the idea “AGW can’t be right” and look for a reason why this could (note: COULD) be false.

    Hence waaay back at the start Sir Patrick Moore (OBE ?) the *astronomer* who doesn’t believe AGW could be correct and is really quite smart looks at what he DOES know “the sun is colder in the past” and marries it to “it is warming up” and rather than say “well, does that actually *explain* the warming” (which would be the correct *skeptic* thing to do and prove that this change is not enough by far), says “well, looks like that will explain it. Climatologists: you’re wrong”.

    NOTE2: There is a difference between *astrophysics* and *astronomy* mostly in what you do with it. One reason why the *astronomer* Sir Patrick Moore didn’t check to see if the solar output increase is enough.

    *I* know it isn’t enough (though I’m still not certain how much of a lag you would see if the sun alone changed: my maths isn’t good enough). *He* doesn’t because he doesn’t see the need to look.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Mar 2009 @ 12:05 PM

  181. Jeff says:

    “Thermodynamics was always my favorite subject in school (especially statistical thermo which isn’t much applicable here). I don’t think we have a system that is in equilibrium. If we did there wouldn’t be global warming or cooling right?”

    But you can use “quasi-equilibrium” where instead of saying “start all over again” you say “well, assume that it isn’t *too* far out of equilibrium and then take away the equilibrium position and see what the difference we have between that and reality makes”.

    Rather like instead of calculating how much pressure is on your ears by a sound wave by going all the way back to “first you have the air pressure of the atmosphere you’re standing in”, you get a useful answer by going “Well, there’s an overpressure of 100pa” and working based on what 100Pa does to your eardrum.

    Likewise, 235W equilibrium. 5W disequilibrium. Instead of going all the way back and doing the full reworking, just see what happens with the 5W change and add that change to the equilibrium state.

    It’s pretty accurate and widely used.

    If you like thermodynamics, you must only have liked it to pick an argument with.

    a) it’s quite boring, really
    b) you have it so very wrong

    Comment by Mark — 4 Mar 2009 @ 12:17 PM

  182. Thanks, Hank (#164), I have been promoting the Hansen’s lecture, but didn’t know about EcoEquity.org . My idea, tho, was that the mainstream media, like the WaPo, should displace George Will’s columns with a column dedicated to this “fourth side,” the future victims of climate change (as least for the motive that it might redeem their terribly damaged image in the eyes of future gens). Who wants to go down thru all of history (as long as it lasts) as the climate denialist Hilter or Hilter aide? (Okay, I used the “Hitler” trope. Shame on me.)

    RE #175, Pete, I assume you’re refering to Hansen’s lecture on the Venus syndrome by your “Is it being accepted by all climate scientists.” Not yet, of course. Hansen has always been on the cutting edge, and not afraid to speak out when new studies point to something that threatens humankind — even at the expense of being ridiculed and job-threated, and vigorous attempts made to silence him. He is one of the great heroes of the world today and for future generations (unlike George Will and the WaPo who will go down in infamy). And his cutting edge science has proven to be pretty accurate decades later. He is not afraid to call wolf when he sees the wolf shadow and hears the crescendoing howls. The IPCC is an exceedingly conservative document, that not only requires studies that are peer-reviewed (which itself is so arduous, the problem would have had to have already done its damage before reviewers accept the manuscript’s prognosis), but also a much higher level of scientific concensus (like requiring 2000 doctors to pronounce a body dead before they accept the body as dead). Excuse my hyperbole.

    As mentioned many times before, we layperson concerned with life on planet earth should be trying to avoid false negatives — of allowing GW to kill us all off, while we stoke the fires of our deaths — and leave the .05 false-positive avoidance to scientists to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt what we already knew years and decades ago.

    RE Mark #180 & “‘The fact that the sun was 28% less bright 4.5 billion years ago is hardly relevant.’” However, it is NOT irrelevant to those who start off with the idea ‘AGW can’t be right’ and look for a reason why this could (note: COULD) be false.”

    Well, this tiny fact (that the sun is slowly slowly increasing in irradiance) is relevant to Hansen’s Venus syndrome study (see pg. 24 of http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf ): “There may have been times in the Earth’s history when CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm without causing a runaway greenhouse effect. But the solar irradiance was less at that time.”

    As I’ve been saying many times. We can’t turn down the sun, but we can turn off lights not in use (and 1000s of other measures small and big). We live in a more precarious world now that there is more solar irradiance, but it would be quite foolhardy to push our climate into runaway warming a billion years before its time, when the sun goes supernova.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 4 Mar 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  183. 169 Barton said, “There has been no significant change in sunlight for 50 years. That is the relevant time scale to talk about global warming”

    Not true, twice. The relevant period is at least 100 years, and the sun has brightened (1900s avg ~45 sunspots, 2000s avg ~70 sunspots). Also, the sun has dimmed over the last 50 years (1950s avg ~82) (numbers from Wiki graph so not precise)

    I suppose you could quibble about the definition of “significant,” but solar differences are thought to be substantially responsible for the climate change of the first half of the last century.

    [Response: Not really. There are a multitude of things going on in the early part of the century including both increases in GHGs, solar, changes in aerosols, volcanic, land use etc. - no one of which is dominant in the way GHGs are in more recent decades. Combine that with large amounts of internal weather noise relative to the potentially forced signal and you end up with very uncertain attributions. - gavin]

    Comment by RichardC — 4 Mar 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  184. Gavin, your response to Richard is only relevant to the last paragraph where he jumps STRAIGHT from “The sun got warmer” to “This explains global warming”.

    The REALLY DUMB thing about it too, which you don’t mention is that the change in solar flux doesn’t undo what the CO2 being released does. So his denialist “theory” is only half of one at best: he’s left out the undoing of the other known issues causing warming. Such as CO2, methane and so on.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Mar 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  185. Lynne, 182, you’re making an argument that wasn’t made.

    Shock.

    Really, on this site? Unprecedented…

    I’ll just have to assume you wanted to add a coda to the statement you made.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Mar 2009 @ 4:12 PM

  186. Lynn Vincentnathan #182: …we can turn off lights not in use (and 1000s of other measures small and big).

    It seems to me scientifically diagnosing GW is only the first step. The next questions seem to be ‘What should we do”‘, ‘Can we do something?’, ‘Will we do something?’, ‘Should we do something?’.

    I know these questions have been commented on here and elsewhere, but does anyone here have the grasp on the state of economical, ethical, cultural, historical, biological etc sciences that would relate to GW to know if we can answer this next stage of questions? How much attention (scientifically) is given to studies that show if people’s efforts small and big would make a difference?

    Comment by Michael — 4 Mar 2009 @ 5:44 PM

  187. Ray: “I would contend, however, that the best way to guard against this is to start making intelligent policies (e.g. cap and trade) before the situation becomes dire and to remain vigilant. The scenario you outlined has not occurred in other cap and trade markets.”

    Cap and trade may work reasonably well for pollutants like SO2 with few sources that are relatively easily and drastically reduced (so there is not much long term incentive to corrupt the process). I submit that the CO2 cap and trade system in Europe has been at least a small disaster. Costs are high and emission reductions almost nothing.

    I have to agree with James Hansen: “A ‘cap’ increases the price of energy, as a tax does. It is wrong and disingenuous to try to hide the fact that Cap is a tax.
    Other characteristics of the “cap” approach: (1) unpredictable price volatility, (2) it makes millionaires on Wall Street and other trading floors at public expense, (3) it is an invitation to blackmail by utilities that threaten “blackout coming” to gain increased emission permits, (4) it has overhead costs and complexities, inviting lobbyists and delaying implementation.”

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 4 Mar 2009 @ 5:58 PM

  188. So Will is pointing to one terrible error, characterizing it as minor or trivial, and ignoring the fact that his entire column has many other errors.

    George Will: “Every time we are mislead by amateur bloggers, we lose another chance to influence policy.”

    So why is Will getting his science from amateur bloggers, rather than the scientific community? That seems to be what global warming denial is all about – influencing policy with unreliable sources.

    George Will: “This may have been useful as a delaying tactic in the past, but now that there is clear leadership in the White House, this serves only to marginalize conservatives even further.”

    I’d like to agree with that, but propaganda from what is supposed to be a respected news oulet, whether true or not, will affect public opinion. Public opinion is what influences policy. Will knows this.

    Comment by MarkB — 4 Mar 2009 @ 6:32 PM

  189. I’m waiting for Jeffs response to Gavins answer (in Jeff 165) about solar flux.

    I got the impression that Jeff was trying to catch someone out but failed significantly.

    Jeff could at least say he was mistaken and stood corrected.

    Comment by Paul — 4 Mar 2009 @ 6:34 PM

  190. ‘What George Will should have written, part 186′

    “They said ‘ice age’ or ‘global warming,’” Will remembers. “The difference is just wind.”

    Whoops! Not ‘Will’ but ‘Williams’. Oh dear.

    Comment by Vinny Burgoo — 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:28 PM

  191. 184 Mark said, “Gavin, your response to Richard is only relevant to the last paragraph where he jumps STRAIGHT from “The sun got warmer” to “This explains global warming”.”

    Huh? Sorry if I gave that impression. I was alluding to the study which estimated something like ~”up to 35%” of warming of the first half of the 20th century to solar output. Does anyone here know of a larger single forcing for the period? I didn’t bother looking up the exact percentage nor the citation since it is well-known to the regs on this site. To clarify, a substantial amount of the warming 1900-1950 was solar forced, while subsequent warming was in spite of a cooling sun.

    [Response: You were clear the first time. But my point stands, given the uncertainties in the forcings (particularly the aerosol changes and solar), the multitude of the changes, the uncertainties in temperature changes that increase as you go further back, and the relative size of the small expected changes compared to internal variability, attribution over a period like 1900-1950 is difficult and fraught with uncertainty. Thus strong statements such as you make above are not supportable. I'd go as far as solar being a likely contributor, but that would be about it. - gavin]

    Comment by RichardC — 4 Mar 2009 @ 9:56 PM

  192. BPL (170), fair enough.

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Mar 2009 @ 10:16 PM

  193. Here’s my insight after listening for a while. Many of the skeptics see scientists jumping all over statements that don’t fit with ACW and assume that that’s how scientific publications work—that contrary evidence cannot be published and that scientists are working to support some preconceived view. In fact, a scientist is always looking for weaknesses in an existing consensus and would jump at the chance to publish something contrary to what other scientists believe and even contrary to his or her own expectations. Science is really the opposite of debating, where you win by scoring points. Scientists win by providing new evidence or new types of evidence. We do research that tests hypotheses, not research designed to support hypotheses. I guess that these points are either too subtle or completely misunderstood by most of the public and especially by deniers. They just don’t understand the process by which a “consensus” was reached in the scientific literature. As a scientist, I would be very happy to show how important understandings in my field are wrong. However, modern science has advanced to the point that it becomes very unlikely that what we can show to be wrong or incomplete is a really major “theory.”

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 5 Mar 2009 @ 1:22 AM

  194. Richard 191, well, be clearer in your communication.

    “but solar differences are thought to be substantially responsible for the climate change of the first half of the last century.”

    if it had been:

    but solar differences are thought to contribute to at least some of the climate change for the first half of the last century.

    This would not have required Gavin’s response (which I thought was somewhat OTT since you had to read between the lines of your post and take into account your posting history to get to something that really required a response).

    The important thing about solar influence are two things:

    1) It has had an effect on climate
    2) No, it’s not enough to explain the differences

    anti-AGW think that #1 is not considered at all (and this is why I felt I had to chide gavin’s response since that seemed to dismiss solar as a possibility for any result when it really should have emphasised point 2).

    And Sir Patrick Moore hasn’t bothered to check #2, which most anti-AGW people haven’t bothered to check or even read up on the IPCC report if they aren’t PhD’s. The few who have worked out that the sun isn’t enough but deny any A in AGW have come up with “theories” (in the ID/creationist sense of the word, rather than the scientific one) to try and amplify the effect. E.g. solar lensing, cloud particulate enhancement, etc. to make it add up. Yet even these ignore that their theory must pan out in the measurements AND explain why CO2 produced in the gigatons a year range isn’t having an effect.

    So at best a half theory.

    Anti-AGW is focussed on proving AGW wrong. And therefore only concentrates on working out what else could cause it. Explaining away why CO2 isn’t having an effect isn’t considered.

    AGW theory is focussed on finding out what IS happening. So the complaints and possibilities the anti- side make up are investigated. E.g. the Hockey Stick complaint. Worked on and tested and answered by more rigour in the hockey stick proofs. Or Solar activity. It’ IS included. But as a PART of the system that causes the change in the climate. Not (as with the anti AGW side) the ONLY cause, so we can keep burning fossil fuels.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Mar 2009 @ 3:52 AM

  195. BPL 170, you may have the billenial (just made that word up, like it?) scale in your noggin, but do you have what the astronomers notice about the sun in there?

    The sunspot cycles.

    Don’t just assume that because you know a lot you know it all. The fact that you mentioned stellar evolution (which I used in the post) but didn’t mention the sunspot cycle (which I ALSO used in the post) which has just recently ended one of the more energetic cycles and starting up a new one, but a cycle of sunspots that isn’t going to be as prevalent, shows that at least in your response in 170 that your blinkers are hiding some of the situation that is real from you.

    Go read up on the sunspot cycle.

    Now crank back your knowledge, if you only knew that the temperatures went up and are just now going up less quickly in the last decade, would you (if you weren’t interested in finding out you’re wrong) not consider this to be enough “proof” that AGW is wrong, and that the Sun is responsible?

    Now, if you were interested or capable or had to include sunspot activity in your GCM, you’d find out that this wasn’t enough by far to explain, but the anti-AGW don’t have to run their own GCM. They aren’t interested in finding out they are wrong (and this is why I’ve posted as I’ve done: the AGW side shouldn’t be uninterested in finding out they’re wrong. The climatologists aren’t. Don’t you be) and most aren’t capable of working it out.

    And maybe, by understanding WHY someone thinks the sun could cause it all, you can explain what effects the sun IS doing and then explain why they are not thinking far enough.

    Like the “Volcanoes produce each year more CO2 than humans have over the entire industrial revolution”. A meme picked up that annoyed the heck out of me. I mean, you just have to look at independent figures to work out that’s wrong. But where did it come from?

    It came from someone saying that global extinctions in the past (Permian or Triassic for example) was caused by global volcanic activity spewing out CO2. Maybe mentioned as a warning of how CO2 is bad (despite being “plant food”, though I still have to put nitrogen fertiliser on my plants for some reason). But picked up as how insignificant our actions are and used to “prove” that there is no AGW.

    But understanding that this was the mass extinction and NOT today’s volcanoes that quote is on about (which the denialist doesn’t know), you can show them WHY they are right, but not usefully so. And if enough of them hear this, the meme will die off.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Mar 2009 @ 4:07 AM

  196. It is better to stir up a question without deciding it, than to decide it without stirring it up. It is better to debate a question without deciding it than to decide it without debating it.

    Paul Joubert

    [Response: Joseph. And he probably only said it once. - gavin]

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 5 Mar 2009 @ 4:47 AM

  197. Stuart, #196, problem is when you stir up a question and then use the question to procrastinate.

    What is really weird is when you get someone who’s trying to appear neutral. They then come out with something like:

    Neither side have convinced me and both sides have shown up badly in their biases and poor reasoning (Captain Subtext says: “See how I’m bot partisan? I’m calling BOTH sides down!”). Therefore until BOTH sides get their act together, we shouldn’t do anything.

    But the reason why I doubt Captain Subtext is that “do nothing” is what the anti-AGW side want. They WANT nothing done.

    So “to punish both sides” by doing what one side wants is either wooly (if not positively hairy) thinking or proof that this is someone *pretending* to be non-partisan.

    So question all you like, but don’t use the question to stop you doing something that, currently, looks like the best thing to do.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Mar 2009 @ 7:09 AM

  198. Regarding analysis and inaction:

    When one is in a survival-threatening situation, one does not usefully ask, “Will anything work?” One asks, “Which available course of action promises to work best?”

    Then one goes for it, however small the chances for success.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Mar 2009 @ 8:18 AM

  199. Steve Reynolds, On the other hand, a cap and trade approach is probably the most efficient mechanism for allowing market forces to prevail. Only the cap is imposed, and that can be subjected to independent review by experts. On the other hand, we of course know that taxes are always administered fairly and never subject to any abuse by profiteers. Bwaaahaahahh! Sorry, couldn’t even type that without laughing.
    A cap and trade system can certainly be implemented badly. So can a taxation regime. The weakness of the former is that the commodity is unfamiliar and at least initially, difficult to value. This argues for stronger regulation of the market to begin with. Eventually, however, the cap and trade scheme ought to be more efficient and able to respond to a rapidly changing situation. While taxation offers “stability,” that stability doesn’t exist in the real world. Could it be that I believe in markets more than you do?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Mar 2009 @ 9:30 AM

  200. Ray, would you expect, whether they could or not, cap and trade to be implemented and administered fairly and reasonably, like taxes are not? If so, what leads you to believe that?

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Mar 2009 @ 11:43 AM

  201. Yes, Bill (#193), “We do research that tests hypotheses, not research designed to support hypotheses.”

    And the hypothesis the scientists are testing is the null hypothesis — e.g., that our current climate is caused by natural factors (not greenhouse gases). And only when they get tons of evidence that do not support their null hypothesis, then they reject it, and accept the alternative hypothesis.

    In other words, they try darned hard every way they can to see if the evidence fits the null hypothesis (that the climate is caused by all the natural, regular forces, and not by GHGs), and only when the evidence can no longer support this null hypothesis, after years of trying to show that it does, do they then reject it, and in doing so, accept the alternative hypothesis — that GHGs are contributing to global warming.

    In other cases, such as cancer clusters in neighborhoods where there is a known carcinogen in the water, people get really upset that science cannot say that their cancers are caused by the bad water (usually because the numbers are too low to achieve statisical significance, and stats end up at the .15 sig level (15% chance the null hypothesis is correct), so they can’t reject the null; but that also means there is an 85% chance the null is incorrect, so the people wonder, “what’s wrong with science, there are carcinogens in the well water and my kid died.”

    And knowing the physics behind the natural greenhouse effect (which we should have learned in high school), and learning about the increases in GHGs in the atmosphere, we should have been upset in the late 80s and early 90s when we got those terrifically hot years that the scientists were unable to say (because of the rigorously high level of confidence they require) that the warming was caused by the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. We should have (as some of us did) push on to solve this problem despite the fact that science had not yet established it at the .05 sig level (5% or less chance the null hypothesis is correct….which wasn’t reached in a sci study until 1995). We should have been marching on Washington demanding action.

    As people should push on to get those carcinogens out of their water, even if their cancer cluster cannot be definitively proven to be connected to them.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Mar 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  202. Please note that the cap-and-trade mechanism put in place by the first Bush administration to control sulfate emissions and hence acid rain has worked very well. I live in Pennsylvania; the deciduous forests are coming back.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Mar 2009 @ 12:57 PM

  203. Mark, I replied to your somewhat patronizing #195 but my reply never showed up; perhaps it fell afoul of board rules and regulations. Let me just say that I am perfectly well aware of the sunspot cycle, and the sunspot cycle doesn’t correlate to temperature anomalies when I run them against ln CO2 and sunspot number in a multiple linear regression. That’s why I didn’t mention sunspot cycles. As far as I can tell, they don’t affect a damn thing.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Mar 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  204. RE #186 & my solutions which usually focus on what the consumer can do re energy/resource efficiency/conservation & alt energy (which BTW also help solve many other problems, including economic problems), here is a an important counterpoint to that:

    PRODUCTION-SIDE ENVIRONMENTALISM. It shows how the producers have a bigger role in reducing GHGs and other environmental harms, than consumers, and how they’ve been increasing production (and harm), while “meaningful” consumption has remained flat.

    See: http://www.greens.org/s-r/47/47-02.html

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Mar 2009 @ 1:04 PM

  205. 194 Mark said, “Richard 191, well, be clearer in your communication”

    Yep, my original post was unclear and technically incorrect (I said “substantially” instead of “a substantial amount of”). That’s why I had nothing to say about Gavin’s response. The only study I’ve heard of says up to 35% (or so) solar forcing for 1900-1950. Since 1958 the sun has dimmed, so there’s no evidence to support the denier core hypothesis.

    Comment by RichardC — 5 Mar 2009 @ 1:57 PM

  206. Lynn Vincentnathan, I would like to encourage people around me to adapt ‘energy/resource efficiency/conservation & alt energy’ strategies in order to solve GW, but what data do I have to back up my argument? What is the status of the science of GW solutions? At this point are we just beginning to delve into the answers to the GW problem, or have we looked into this extensively and determined that lifestyle changes in the western world is the best course of action?

    Comment by Michael — 5 Mar 2009 @ 1:58 PM

  207. Mr. Levenson writes on the %th of March 2009, at 12:57

    “I live in Pennsylvania; the deciduous forests are coming back.”

    Could this be due to shift in climate zones rather than mitigation of acid rain ?

    Comment by sidd — 5 Mar 2009 @ 2:25 PM

  208. Michael, there’s a guy named “michel” who’s been asking this same question in several threads lately over at Tamino’s blog “Open Mind” — you might want to look up that conversation, to avoid a lot of retyping in this topic. The ‘Start Here’ button at top also is good.

    While we might hope George Will should have written an answer to your question, it seems unlikely.
    Short answer: insulate, conserve, read.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Mar 2009 @ 3:26 PM

  209. sidd, given that the forests were adapted to the previous climate regime, and that mortality was widely ascribed to acid rain, I doubt it.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Mar 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  210. It is better to debate a question without deciding it than to decide it without debating it. – Stuart Harmon

    Well, that rather depends on the question. If wou’re standing in the path of an express train coming straight towards you and evidently unable to stop, it’s probably best to decide which way to jump without debating it, no?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 5 Mar 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  211. RE #206, Michael, you want evidence — I was tracking our electric bill for a couple of yrs after (and before) we got our SunFrost frig in 1991 (the bills also had the average daily temp, so we could match up like temp months), and the electric bill took a nose dive right after getting the frig. We bought it thinking it would use 1/10 the energy of our old frig, but it was actually 1/12 the energy. As an additional bonus we found much less veggie spoilage, another savings. I calculated the frig had paid for itself ($2600) in such savings within 16 years & has gone on to save between $100-200 every year. And that was just one measure.

    There is my $6 low-flow showerhead. I measured the difference with a bucket and stopwatch — it cut hot water for showers in half. Estimating from our water costs & gas bill to heat the water, I figured conservatively we save about $100 per year on that.

    We have already been living within one to two miles of work since the 1970s oil crunch, and have been driving less than 4000 miles per year. That has saved us lots of money in fuel & car repairs & time, and intangibles such as less frustration with no traffic problems; less exposure to noxious fumes in the car.

    I could go on and on with the 50+ other measures, but that might require a whole article or book.

    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON NOT TO MITIGATE GLOBAL WARMING, since most measures also save money without lowering living standards, and they mitigate many many other problems from health issues, other enviro problems, wars for oil, you name it. It’s a win-win-win-win-win strategy, and why people persist in a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose BAU strategy is totally mind-boggling, evil incarnate.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Mar 2009 @ 4:28 PM

  212. Hank, Michel is arguing the finer details of GW strategies. My question has to do with the state of the overall science. Let me try again: there has been a lot of time, cash, and energy spent on climate studies over the last couple of decades, but how much time, cash, and energy has been spent on studying climate fixes?

    Comment by Michael — 5 Mar 2009 @ 4:37 PM

  213. Michael, this may help. It’s a thread here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/
    Several of those entries include links that will lead you to chat-room type discussion forums where people go into detail on the specific subjects involved.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Mar 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  214. Michael, for a simple summary on possible fixes, see this one paper:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/40/15258.full
    As recommended here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/03/06/how-much-warming-in-the-pipeline-part-ii-abcs/
    If you’re looking for economic studies, pricing, etc., Google Scholar for those words +climate gets aplenty.

    For asking questions, it would help if you’d say what

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Mar 2009 @ 7:05 PM

  215. Lynn Vincentnathan, I’m not asking if it (energy/resource efficiency/conservation & alt energy) is a good idea, I’m asking if it is a GW solution.

    Comment by Michael — 5 Mar 2009 @ 7:38 PM

  216. Michael, Climate risk mitigation is like any other risk mitigation. That is, you define risk as the product of the probability of a threat being realized and the consequences if it were realized. The basic rules are that you are justified in spending up to the amount at risk to mitigate the risk. Strategies ror risk mitigation either try to decrease the probability of the threat (threat avoidance) or decrease its consequences (amelioration). Threat avoidance for climate change comes down to limiting the CO2 we put into the air. Strategies like injecting sulfate aerosols don’t really count here, because they do nothing to address the long-term threat–stop injecting sulfated and the warming returns within a couple of years. Carbon capture from the atmosphere would also count. Amelioration strategies would depend on the threat being addressed, but would include sea walls to mitigate sea-level rise, etc. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a handle on all the risks yet. It seems that wherever we look we find new ones. That is why serious folks like Hansen and Lovelock advocate only threat avoidance.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Mar 2009 @ 8:23 PM

  217. If you think George Will is “fact challenged”, check out Lorne Gunter of the Canadian daily newspaper the National Post. His latest diatribe on “global cooling” gets four or five facts completely wrong – and that’s just in the first paragraph. It’s been three days already, but there are no corrections from the National Post yet.

    http://deepclimate.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/lorne-gunter-on-global-cooling-part-1/

    Comment by Deep Climate — 5 Mar 2009 @ 8:24 PM

  218. Well, #215, Michael, I’ve been studying this issue for 20 years, and wrote my thesis on Environmental Victimology. I’ve spent time searching for ways to mitigate global warming by reducing GHGs, planting trees, etc.

    But, you have a point. If I’m one in a very small percent of people reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (which includes reducing consumption of products, which have a GHG component), and the vast majority of others around the world are increasing their GHG emissions (as evidenced by ever increasing emissions), and the goverments are doing little to restructure it so as to encourage GHG reductions (they could end all subsidies and tax-breaks for fossil fuel tomorrow, if they had a heart), then it probably won’t do a whole lot of good. That’s very sad.

    Especially when you consider that at some point probably soon even if we humans totally halt our net GHG emissions (or bring them down to, say, 10% of what they are now), the initial warming we have caused will release vast quantities of methane and carbon from melting permafrost and ocean hydrates (which is already starting to happen), causing more warming & more melting & more CH4 release, causing more warming, and so on perhaps to oblivion for all life on earth.

    That is very very sad. But, I think I’ll continue doing my part best I can, and hope other out there will have the heart to do their share.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Mar 2009 @ 9:41 PM

  219. George Will is a little out of sync with his buddies in the oil business. Oil companies are already rubbing their hands in anticipation of more offshore oil deposits becoming accessible due to Arctic melting. Even nations are starting to argue and stake Arctic claims and counter claims.

    One can imagine a day when George will pen an article on the ice-free Arctic being the US’s manifest destiny.

    Perhaps he’ll look back on this contrarian column and ponder the error of his ways…

    Nah!

    Comment by Peter Backes — 5 Mar 2009 @ 11:00 PM

  220. #211 Bravo Lynn! Hope Lomborg reads this site. Economists calculations are suspect anyways! Why would we listen to their not so lucid renewable energy cost estimates? The same conservative financial guru gang created an economic downturn they are barely sorry about. Your small utility investment model can be replicated world wide. Journalists faired just as badly as economists in leading every one into mismanagement on the grandest scale, so its not surprising
    miss-information is rampant. Better preach without words by what you do, than to be lectured
    by dumb media savvy economists.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Mar 2009 @ 11:12 PM

  221. Let’s see now … “ideologically-based fantasies of those I critique” … “pressing need for an informed conservative discussion of the issues of climate change”. So it’s OK if it’s ideological, as long as it’s his ideology?

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:54 AM

  222. “Even if all CO2 were removed from the earth atmosphere, global climate would not become any cooler,” says solar physicist Vladimir Bashkirtsev.

    “Deforestation of the mountain`s foothills is the most likely culprit (for the loss of Kilimanjaro glaciers-BD) because without forests there is too much evaporation of humidity into outer space.”
    Nicholas Pepin, Britain`s Portsmouth University.

    With reported statements from scientists like these, its no wonder George Will is, um, “confused”.

    “Anyway, nuff said. I’ll just say that I’d bet the farm that in 100 years people look back and think “I can’t believe they thought they had it all figured out”. I understand that you have to make the best assumptions you can make and go with the result – it’s the only way to move forward. I just can’t believe folks don’t add a LOT more caveats and that a significant group of scientists believe they KNOW how the climate is going to change going forward.”Jeff 4 March 2009 at 1:01 AM .

    I think you’re confusing INACCURATE and WRONG. Just because there are uncertainties in how soon(10 years?, 50 years?) the arctic will be mostly ice free (90%? 50%?) in the summer, or how long it will take(years, decades, centuries, millennia) for sea levels to rise catastrophically(cm, feet, meters?), or when & where AGW will decrease food production so much that large numbers(1e6?, 1e7?, 1e8?) of people starve to death, doesn’t mean that we don’t KNOW that the climate is warming because we have added about 100ppm fossil C+O2 to the atmosphere already, and the more we add the warmer it will get. I’ll take your bet, and raise the wager; I’ll bet the lives of future generations (some fraction to be determined) that the survivors will look back and ask instead “How could they have been so greedy and arrogant?”. Since I don’t have any descendants, other peoples children and grandchildren will have to pay the bet. I won’t be around to collect, but there are a bunch of people living in less temperate climes who will be moving someplace else when their part of the world is no longer inhabitable, to collect for me; they will be bringing tropical diseases and social unrest (at a minimum) with them.

    Don’t like my terms? Sorry, the bet’s already been laid.

    Think my hippie liberal left wing perspective is exaggerated? A 2003 Pentagon study states
    “With over 400 million people living in drier, subtropical, often over-populated and economically poor regions today, climate change and its follow-on effects pose a severe risk to political, economic, and social stability. In less prosperous regions, where countries lack the resources and capabilities required to adapt quickly to more severe conditions, the problem is very likely to be exacerbated. For some countries, climate change could become such a challenge that mass emigration results as the desperate peoples seek better lives in regions such as the United States that have the resources to adaptation.”
    “Rather than decades or even centuries of gradual warming, recent evidence suggests the possibility that a more dire climate scenario may actually be unfolding.”
    and “…the implications for national security outlined in this report are only hypothetical. The actual impacts would vary greatly depending on the nuances of the weather conditions, the adaptability of humanity, and decisions by policy makers. Violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor. The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs for security threats.”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Mar 2009 @ 1:13 AM

  223. Re # 211
    Lyn, you end of comment passage:

    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON NOT TO MITIGATE GLOBAL WARMING, since most measures also save money without lowering living standards, and they mitigate many many other problems from health issues, other enviro problems, wars for oil, you name it. It’s a win-win-win-win-win strategy, and why people persist in a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose BAU strategy is totally mind-boggling, evil incarnate.
    ——————————————————————

    Probably because a lot of people whos opinion matters (unfortunately) have to wrestele with politics and economics of the situation and realise that even with incentives a vast block of people (voters) would not do anything anyway even if it was free because they do not read at all, are not bothered at all, see no evidence of climate change etc and always confuse weather and climate even when they do think about it which is not often. Lets gets this into perspective, the USA now has a new green president and it needs to be green (renewable) technology all the way through this century and Obama has a plan.

    Lots of money for a large scale upgrading of the US electricity grid and then once done get the vast solar and wind projects that the USA has access to off of the ground and get them millions og hybrid and electric vehicles rolling on US roads. However does this guarantee success in the climate fight I wonder. Well if the USA stops using gasoline are manages to cut its usage by say 50% then will Saudi Arabia be happy about that, will it leave it in the ground or try to sell it to someone else, someone else I would suggest.

    Plenty of pitfalls to come even if individually we can make a difference in our own way. The west that North America (350 million) and Europe (400 million) and some other places such as Australia/NZ (30 million) are responsible for the lions share of CO2 emissions but China and possibly India have growing economies and economically the west is somewhat reliant on them now. We do it first (or do we) and they follow but is that the plan and can we arrange it and will it work.

    Efficieny gains are the easy low hanging fruit, as you said, better freezing and refrigeration, loft and wall insulation, in the USA its easy to halve fuel consumption etc. Any evidence of it as yet though, its all such a slow business. Fortunately so it the changing climate.

    Comment by pete best — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:56 AM

  224. Re #218, Lyn, from this posting:

    Especially when you consider that at some point probably soon even if we humans totally halt our net GHG emissions (or bring them down to, say, 10% of what they are now), the initial warming we have caused will release vast quantities of methane and carbon from melting permafrost and ocean hydrates (which is already starting to happen), causing more warming & more melting & more CH4 release, causing more warming, and so on perhaps to oblivion for all life on earth.

    ——————————————————————-

    Is it proven and is it a scientifc fact that here come the methane?! It seems a little over the top especially the term oblivion for it has hapenned before has metane relase and as part fo the 5 previous great extinctions and hey the planet is as beautiful and life still thrives (give it a few million or tens of millions of years).

    The AGW non scientific language is getting fruity and somewhat overstated all over the web but lets leave it out here at RC which is the only realisitic science site run by scientists themselves.

    Some girl/woman/lady here in the UK threw custard our Lord Mandleson today as he attended a energy conference or redcuing CO2 emisions. We have a long way to go but the Obama administration is a good start relative to the previous one anyway, its going to take a long time to reduce our emissions globally so lets stop getting frustrated shall we. LEts keep it truely scientific.

    Comment by pete best — 6 Mar 2009 @ 6:35 AM

  225. BPL #203 then why did you not mention sunspot cycles, if you know about them, I mentioned them and you mentioned other things I had said?

    Be condescending on your own time, kid.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Mar 2009 @ 7:11 AM

  226. Hi Pete (#224). RE:

    Is it proven and is it a scientifc fact that here come the methane?! It seems a little over the top especially the term oblivion for it has hapenned before has metane relase and as part fo the 5 previous great extinctions and hey the planet is as beautiful and life still thrives (give it a few million or tens of millions of years).

    I’m hoping this is just a nightmare from which I’ll awaken….but it’s on its way to being proven. I got it from Hansen’s cutting-edge American Geophysical Union lecture this past Dec. See: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf Here are some things he says on page 24:

    There may have been times in the Earth’s history when CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm without causing a runaway greenhouse effect. But the solar irradiance was less at that time.

    ….

    In my opinion, if we burn all the coal, there is a good chance that we will initiate the runaway greenhouse effect. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale (a.k.a. oil shale) [which, as we know, are in development now], I think it is a dead certainty.

    [And on page 23] Given the solar constant that we have today, how large a forcing must be maintained to cause runaway global warming? Our model blows up before the oceans boil, but it suggests that perhaps runaway conditions could occur with added forcing as small as 10-20 W/m2.

    I really don’t want to wait until this is proven scientifically at the .05 level of sig. In fact, I’d like to withhold the evidence & end this scientific experiment on earth by having us all drastically reduce our GHGs.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Mar 2009 @ 9:55 AM

  227. Pete, stop being rhetorical, please.
    “Is it proven and is it a scientifc fact that here come the methane?!”
    That kind of nonsense belongs in the politics blogs.

    Nobody has proven a fact about the future, in science.
    What’s known from the past is expected to happen again.
    Look it up, dagnabbit, don’t play word games.
    Leave that for Will and his ilk.
    Learn something.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Mar 2009 @ 10:29 AM

  228. Here, Pete:
    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/correlation.png

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Mar 2009 @ 10:33 AM

  229. Re #226, Hi Lynn,

    That 10-20 W/m2 argument seems odd to me when the present CO2 forcing is 1.7 W/m2. In addition we are only at 387 ppmv of CO2 which is why everyone drones on about BAU scenarios to take us to 550 ppmv (if that is even posible). Even though the work is Hansen and he is renowned no one else has spoken about this work and hence we cannot see it as scientific truth but I do not see what 10-20 W/M2 of a corcing can come from unless for some reason methane is around 10x Co2 and hence we get around 10×1.7=17w/m2 of forcing with some know of un known scenario.

    This is the issue you see, we can all speak of doom, doom, doom but there are several problems around this:

    1/ the amount of fossil fuels economically viable to burn
    2/ the total forcing of Co2 at whatever atmospheric load
    3/ the uncertainty of -ve forcings (aersoles, etc)
    4/ Land use changes
    5/ the overall forcings

    The science is clear, 3C for 2x CO2 (fast feedbacks). I kknow that RC and Hansen has commented on slow feedbacks taking 100+ years to double sensitivity but is that a real reality I wonder ?

    Comment by pete best — 6 Mar 2009 @ 11:04 AM

  230. I wonder if the idea of a “solution” to AGW is apt. There are nearly 7 billion of us now and the idea that we’re all going to go back, short of gun point, to pre-Industrial Revolution energy usage is probably (~99%) a non-starter. Even 1950′s usage, in this country, would seem absolutely Spartan. We must mitigate things the best we can and hope for the best. Equilibrium might come well shy of some disastrous rise in temps.

    It’s a thought.

    Comment by duBois — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:18 PM

  231. hope for the best

    Next time I need to solve a life threatening scientific problem, I’ll be sure to apply the tested and true scientific method of ‘hoping for the best’.

    I hear prayer works exceptionally well too.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elfiritz — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:23 PM

  232. Mitch (#13), you obviously hit a nerve with your question. Whether you are a “plant” (Tenney #45) or not, I’d like a shot at clarifying and crystallizing the myriad responses you’ve received. What you need to review is the empirical research that has application to climate change. Not anecdotal, not computer modeling not selected sets of data used for statistical purposes, but honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned empirical studies!! An empirical study, if nothing else, can be verified by other scientists. Let me illustrate by using time since the last glacial ice age.

    There are good empirical studies that indicate the Earth has been warming for at least 12,000 years (with some fluctuations).

    [Response: Not really. NH has cooled over that period for instance (particularly in the summer), and the global temperature change is somewhat uncertain since it isn't completely clear how much warming there has been in the tropics. These changes are due principally to orbital forcings and small greenhouse gas changes. - gavin]

    There are good empirical studies that indicate the Earth’s glacial ice has been waning for at least 12,000 years (with some fluctuations).

    There are good empirical studies that indicate the Earth’s sea level has been increasing for at least 12,000 years (with some fluctuations).

    There are good empirical studies that indicate the Earth’s CO2 has been increasing for at least 12,000 years (with some fluctuations).

    [Response: By about 20ppm over 8000 years. Compare that to 100ppm increase in 150 years more recently. - gavin]

    There are NO empirical studies that indicate that humans have caused these changes.
    And that’s why climate change is still a controversial topic. If there were verifiable evidence of us “unnatural” (Richard #32) beings were the cause, the controversy would end. Models (IPCC), consensus (Ladbury #48), opinions (Dean #25 has a common emotional response), anecdotes (e.g.,Polar bears), and manipulated statistics (e.g.,hockey stick) are NOT empirical studies. Notice I said “controversy” and not debate. I, and many of my colleagues would love to see such debates. I’ve heard GREAT arguments for each side that are buoyed up by good empirical data/studies, e.g., CO2 preceding or following a global temperature rise. But there are none that are conclusive on the anthropogenic origins. The IPCC has delivered four reports…all have proven inaccurate in their predictions (Joel #23 is similar – Why are temps going down while CO2 continues to rise?). To circumvent arguments of their (IPCC) inaccuracies, the last report indicates we won’t see verification in our lifetimes. The empirical climate forecasts by solar scientists have proven to be much more accurate (Mark #47 ??) than the IPCC models.

    The controversy should become a reasoned debate by responsible scientists that do not have an agenda to sell. Politicians, like Gore, and activist scientists are trying to push their OPINIONS on the public in the same manner President Obama has sold his bailouts and stimulus packages: through fear and rejecting debate, i.e., “We must act NOW or it will be too late.”

    Don’t let the ad hominem attacks and dismissive attitudes dissuade your pursuit of truth. Science is just that: the PURSUIT of truth. The truth of why/how climate change takes place still remains in the theoretical arena and is far from decided.

    [Response: Your point is logically flawed. There will always be climate changes in the past that will remain un-explained - usually because there is simply not enough data to form a good hypothesis. (Though the changes you highlighted above are actually quite well explained by orbital factors as it happens). However, just like the existence of unsolved murder cases doesn't preclude conviction in a specific case today, non-attribution of past climate changes does not preclude attribution of the current changes. - gavin]

    Comment by Rockman — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:26 PM

  233. re: 202. Furthermore, the loudly pronounced staggering costs to the economy that was brayed repeatedly by industry in the late 1980s re: the cap and trade plan to reduce SO2 emissions in the US never came to pass. It became a very effective EPA program while the economy boomed in the 1990s during the Clinton administration.

    Comment by Dan — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  234. Re #227, Hank, come off it will you. Its simply that people seem to be stating that its the end of the planet (which it can’t be just the end of a lot of us), all humanity will die out (thats a maybe or not likely is it?), the clathrathes will kill us all but no one knows that do they? In actual fact no one even knows if there is enough econmically viable fossil fuels in the ground to be allow a climate change impact that some people even here are spouting about.

    As it stands so far its 3C at 550 ppmv which we are 80 years from achieving with BAU. There is not As oil provides 40% of our current energy requirements and the IEA world energy outllok report 2008 states 2020 for peak and we rely on oil for so much of everything that the climate change phenomenon is going to become a second rate player to this problem. Gas will peak soon after and who knows with coal but as we rely on oil to extract gas and coal its unlikely that we will ever reach 550 so lets think of something else to stir up the climate change hornets nest shall we!

    Its gonna happen sooner of course this disaster. The forcings might be stronger than the IPCC project of course, slower longer terms feedbacks will double climate sensitivity to 6C for 550 ppmv and all sorts of additional disasters will come.

    I have no issue with the charney limit science of 3C for 550 ppmv but the 6C limit is not in the IPCC report of 2007 and the scenarios for fossil fuel reserves are potentially overstated. So the climate scince is conservative and the fossil fuel reserves are alarmist.

    Comment by pete best — 6 Mar 2009 @ 12:44 PM

  235. Hank Roberts replied to pete:

    Pete, stop being rhetorical, please.
    “Is it proven and is it a scientifc fact that here come the methane?!”
    That kind of nonsense belongs in the politics blogs.

    pete’s use of language is sometimes unclear to me, so I’m not entirely sure exactly what he meant.

    However, if at some point we actually observe and measure methane emissions from thawing permafrost, undersea clathrates and other such sources, that are of such magnitude as to cause really catastrophic warming, and the observed methane emissions would be irreversible and unstoppable even given the current levels of warming, then we could indeed say it was “proven” and a “scientific fact” that “here come the methane”.

    If that’s the scenario that pete is talking about, it’s not “nonsense” or “political” to ask the question.

    As to the answer — whether or not such emissions have in fact been observed already — I don’t know the answer. I believe there has recently been an observed spike in atmospheric methane increases after methane had leveled off for a while, and that there is at present some uncertainty as to the source of the additional methane and whether the increase will continue.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Mar 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  236. Re #233. Look I understand that carbon sinks can falter and even become sources along with increasing new sources such as increasing wildfires etc, that emissions are presently increasing globally but to somehow project that we are on a road to huge temp rises is unscientific to some degree as the IPCC state nothing of the kind and if such a future was possible then 5 years between IPCC reports is too long and we need a new one now with no political input, only science.

    I read around James Hansens late 2008 report but as yet it is accepted science. I know that RC did an article on the charney limit possibly being 6C for 550 Co2 levels but as yet thats not IPCCC speak is it?

    Comment by pete best — 6 Mar 2009 @ 1:13 PM

  237. I think I’ve read about local arctic studies that show methane bubbling up at a much higher rate than the past.

    Re CH4 & CO2, Pete, CH4 is 23 times more potent than CO2, but only lasts in the atmosphere about 10 years (before it degrades to CO2 and other stuff (could someone tell me what that other stuff is?)). So the really dangerous scenario has to do with not only CH4, but also the speed with which we warming the planet, as David Archer has pointed out in an earlier post. But Hansen also speaks of the speed and says that it doesn’t get enough time for weathering to take GHGs out of the atmosphere…..as in earlier warming bouts that were much slower.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Mar 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  238. Lynn Vincentnathan, I can’t persuade people to take actions to solve GW until I have evidence these actions have a chance of producing results. It does me no good to say I am on the side of science – and then go on to suggest something totally unscientific like reduce your GHG’s because ‘I feel its the best thing to do’, or ‘we have to start somewhere’, or even ‘here are a few studies that say this may work’. I need something more tangible than that, and I am sure it’s out there.

    I am not the type of person who is able to survey the field, summarize the understanding, and make a judgment about the state of science of the possible solutions or make an analysis of the positives and negatives of each course of action. That is why I am posing the question here.

    Comment by Michael — 6 Mar 2009 @ 1:44 PM

  239. You are quite right in your response, Gavin (#232). However, the “attribution” you are advocating is for us to surrender our freedom to the government, in the form of either taxes or regulation.

    [Response: Oh, please. CO2 molecules don't give a rat's a** for your political views. - gavin]

    My logic isn’t flawed…just the opposite. It is illogical to call for political policy changes based on such flawed models.

    I, and a significant number of other scientists, do not think the inaccurate models of the IPCC warrant such an intrusion by the government at this point. After all, the IPCC is an arm of a government bureaucracy that would benefit greatly from the regulation. (I won’t even go into the fact that the result would simply be to move credits around from country to country and have little effect on reducing atmospheric CO2.) It’s well documented that once a bureaucracy is implemented, it is never rescinded, even if its goal is not being achieved.

    With the current global cooling trend (predicted by solar scientists), why would you not advocate a “cooling off” period on this topic, too, and let the open debates begin?? People are jaded with the crisis mentality that they are bombarded with by the media on every front. Let the scientific process work. It is premature to declare “I know the answer.”

    [Response: Hmmm... so climate change is the only issue in the world where perfect knowledge is the prerequisite for any action? Funny that. (PS. the 'scientific process' has been working for a century or more on this issue). - gavin]

    Comment by Rockman — 6 Mar 2009 @ 2:51 PM

  240. re:231

    I was referring to the political and social probabilities in #230. Personally, I’d prefer a return to 1920s energy usage and the adoption of clean, renewable energy to do it with. I’m just not particularly sanguine about the possibility.

    re:239

    Somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 trillion has evaporated in the past year following a regime of non-regulation of the financial services industry. Mitigation costs for AGW are smaller by more than an order of magnitude.

    Mote, Beam. Beam, Mote. You two need to talk.

    Comment by duBois — 6 Mar 2009 @ 3:37 PM

  241. RE #238, Michael, that’s why I pretty much spend my time here lamabasting the conservative nature of false-positive avoiding science. If we, say, wait until Hansen’s latest hypothesis re runaway warming is proven correct at the .00000 level of significance (in other words, after it has already happened), then, well, the science will be pretty much a moot point.

    You know, you might better spend your time and effort trying to convince people to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, since occasionally a person actually survives the jump. Then at least we’ll have some survivors, and you would not be in this business of convincing people to go full speed ahead with runaway warming, after which we won’t have any survivors. Just an idea.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Mar 2009 @ 3:52 PM

  242. Re: #239

    “However, the “attribution” you are advocating is for us to surrender our freedom to the government, in the form of either taxes or regulation.”

    This is what I believe is a key reason for global warming denial. Many focus on the fact that fossil fuel industries are funding various organizations that seek to spread misinformation and confuse the public. But I think a greater factor is personal philosophical biases. Much of the public has a strong ideological bent against any solution that involves government action. There is a strong fear, based largely on emotion and ideology, that mitigating actions will infringe on individual freedom (the government will take away your SUV). This motivates many to want to ignore a large body of evidence on a related scientific topic.

    From #232:

    “And that’s why climate change is still a controversial topic. If there were verifiable evidence of us “unnatural” (Richard #32) beings were the cause, the controversy would end.”

    The manufactured “controversy” is mainly political. It would end if there existed a very simple negligible-impact solution to global warming that didn’t involve lowering carbon emissions. There would be no incentive for Senator Inhofe and others misinform, no need for various ideological organizations to create dubious petitions, no need for fossil fuel industries to attempt to confuse the public, no need for governmental conspiracy theories, and no need for the various rantings seen on various amateur blogs. The science would remain the same. The so-called “controversy” would evaporate.

    Comment by MarkB — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  243. Ray (199): “…a cap and trade approach is probably the most efficient mechanism for allowing market forces to prevail. Only the cap is imposed, and that can be subjected to independent review by experts.”

    If everything is honest, and if the carbon permits are auctioned, I see little difference between cap&trade and a carbon tax. Really the only difference is that without specific changes, the cost of carbon stays constant with a tax, but may change radically and unpredictably with economic conditions (as the European CO2 cap has demonstrated). Most businesses don’t operate efficiently with unpredictable and radical changes in their costs. Also, since the environmental effects of CO2 are largely independent of economic conditions, it seems a constant carbon cost would be preferred.

    Of course if the carbon permits are not auctioned, but instead mostly given to the politically favored (as seems likely), then they are very ineffective at reducing emissions, but very effective at attracting bribes.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:34 PM

  244. pete best

    As it stands so far its 3C at 550 ppmv which we are 80 years from achieving with BAU.

    550 ppmv – 386 ppmv = 64 ppmv. Even at 1 ppmv / year, it’s 64 years to 550. But over the last 10 years, CO2 has risen 1.878 ppmv / year. (1999 – 2008 average) That’s only 34 years to 550 ppmv.
    But business as usual is not necessarily a linear rise. The average rise for 1961 – 1970 was 0.9 ppmv/yr. In the 1970s it was 1.3 ppmv/yr. In the 1980s and 1990s, 1.5 ppmv/yr. With China, India, and the US all eager to increase per-capita power usages, with India and much of the rest of the world still increasing in population, a linear rise for a BAU future can’t be taken seriously unless coal reserves are dramatically lower than recent estimates suggest (see below). An exponential rise is much more likely. With that in mind – pre-industrial was CO2 was 275 ppmv. So 1.878 is 1.7% of the difference between current CO2 levels and pre-industrial CO2 levels. An exponential rise of 1.7% per year brings us to 550 ppmv in only 21 years. Since recent reports suggest peak coal may come before 2030, perhaps the 34 year estimate is better. But in no case is 80 years a reasonable estimate for time-to-550 ppmv.

    I have no issue with the charney limit science of 3C for 550 ppmv but the 6C limit is not in the IPCC report of 2007 and the scenarios for fossil fuel reserves are potentially overstated.

    64 ppmv is roughly 136 GtC. Assuming 40% of emissions are absorbed by the biosphere, that’s 227 GtC emissions. Recent estimates of hard coal reserves exceed 400 GtC. I agree those estimates are likely overstated – perhaps even by the necessary 76% or more (227 * 1.76 = 400 ) – but hard coal is not the only source of CO2 emissions. There are other sources – softer coals, tar sands, oil, gas, concrete manufacture, land use changes, etc. Note concrete manufacture and deforestation need not depend on fossil fuel reserves. Plenty to bring us to 550 ppmv, unfortunately.

    Comment by llewelly — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:39 PM

  245. I, and a significant number of other scientists, doubt that Rockman is a scientist.

    Comment by Caveman — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:42 PM

  246. pete best (229) — The Charney sensitivity of about 3 K for 2xCO2 is best thought of as having two components, fast (60%) and slow (40%). The fast effect is realized with just a few years. The slow effect takes many centuries to reach near-equilibrium.

    As I understand it, Hansen et al. projected an ‘earth sensitivity’ of 6 K based on eventual albedo changes due to very substantial melt in Antarctica.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Mar 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  247. RE #239 & “advocating … for us to surrender our freedom to the government, in the form of either taxes or regulation”

    No, I’m advocating a complete and immediate cessation of all tax breaks and subsidies to oil and coal industries, incl military help in the form of wars (which means we withdraw from Iraq later on today & save big $$$).

    The only tax I might impose would be, say, $1 on each gallon of gasoline & something comparable on coal, but then ALL of the proceeds from that to be immediately returned to the pockets of the American people, divvied up equally. Let the people decide for themselves whether or not to become energy efficient/conservative or buy a home closer to work, etc. Not one penny of this tax would be kept in the coffers of that fascist gov of ours.

    Perhaps even no money for roads either, and all roads to be returned immediately to the people, divvied up equally. Then each family could keep a little toll booth in front of their section of the road and maintain it at their own expense with the money they collect. Or, we could all just stay at home.

    I think we’re onto a great idea here.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Mar 2009 @ 5:13 PM

  248. 203 Barton said, “That’s why I didn’t mention sunspot cycles. As far as I can tell, they don’t affect a damn thing.”

    Then explain the temperature rise in the first half of the 20th century. Explain why solar output tracks sunspot cycles quite well. Though it isn’t as large as CO2, solar output is quite significant. Explain why changes in solar output don’t change things on Earth. Like changes in CO2, we’re talking awfully basic physics. Remember, all of the feedbacks that make CO2 more significant ALSO make solar output more significant. Changes in solar output (aka sunspot cycles) helped temps go up in 1900-1957, and it helped temps go down recently.

    Comment by RichardC — 6 Mar 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  249. > if everything is honest

    Ahem. Don’t count on that when budgeting.

    All budget figures assume many people only pay all their taxes when nominated for public office, or otherwise checked — and very few are checked. That’s a lot of taxes evaded per year:

    “The most recent IRS estimate puts the individual tax gap* at $245 billion per year. This study seeks to develop and review performance measures for the seven most important IRS programs aimed at reducing the tax gap.”

    http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/13590790910925000

    * The difference between the tax that taxpayers should pay and
    what they actually pay on a timely basis”
    http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/pub/irs-utl/tax_gap_facts-figures.pdf

    This doesn’t include business taxes, just individuals.

    245 billion dollars per year is a rather large number. Adding a new layer of complexity with cap’n'trade seems likely to provide more opportunities. Budgets have to be about how people actually behave.
    This is part of the reality.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Mar 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  250. All this talk of waiting….

    We are talking about enormous damage to our world, including the massive loss of bio-diversity. We simply cannot allow people like Rockman to divert us from reacting to this challenge.

    The problem realy is a psychological one, how do we change our attitude to consumption (use of energy). Is there anyone who could provide a paper on this on RC?

    The reality is that if we don’t get our act toghether, we will be struggling to grow enough food to feed the 9 billion or so that are expected by 2050.

    Usually, humans respond to to change that stares them in the face, damage from cyclones or earthquakes, for example. Even after this, memory fades and we go back to the old ways. In this case, we have to act now, before the impact is truly felt. This is the psychological barrier we need to overcome. People like Rockman represent this barrier, “it hasn’t happened yet so we don’t think it will”.

    Can we have a thread on this please?

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 6 Mar 2009 @ 6:18 PM

  251. 550 ppmv – 386 ppmv = 64 ppmv

    Llewelly might want to reconsider this equality … :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Mar 2009 @ 6:54 PM

  252. Here, also, is what GW ought to have written about.

    “China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Threaten to Double”:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,611818,00.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Mar 2009 @ 7:04 PM

  253. Commenter Rockman exemplifies the AGW denialist who reasons as follows:

    1. Some of the solutions proposed to address anthropogenic global warming offend my political ideology.

    2. Therefore, anthropogenic global warming cannot be real.

    If there is any other content to his comment (currently #239), I don’t see it.

    Gavin’s inline response reminds me of a Jefferson Airplane song:

    Say it plainly, the human name
    Doesn’t mean sh*t to a tree.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Mar 2009 @ 7:13 PM

  254. George Will might also have written about this:

    Arctic Summer Ice Could Vanish by 2013: Expert
    by David Ljunggren
    Reuters
    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Excerpt:

    The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region’s sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday.

    Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover “appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models”, which call for an ice free summer in 2013.

    The year “2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we’ve been wrong — each year we’re finding that it’s a little bit faster than expected,” he told Reuters.

    [...]

    Vincent told Reuters last September that it was clear some of the damage would be permanent and that the warming in the Arctic was a sign of what the rest of the world could expect. He struck a similarly gloomy note in his presentation.

    “Some of this is unstoppable. We’re in a train of events at the moment where there are changes taking place that we are unable to reverse, the loss of these ice shelves, for example,” he said.

    “But what we can do is slow down this process and we have to slow down this process because we need to buy more time. We simply don’t have the technologies as a civilization to deal with this level of instability that is ahead of us.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Mar 2009 @ 7:18 PM

  255. “How much warming in the pipeline? Part II – it’s as tricky as ABC”:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/03/06/how-much-warming-in-the-pipeline-part-ii-abcs/

    offers seriously high estimates recently published in PNAS.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Mar 2009 @ 7:28 PM

  256. SecularAnimist: Arctic Summer Ice Could Vanish by 2013…

    I’ll bet $500 that it does not, proceeds to go to the winner’s choice of charity.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 6 Mar 2009 @ 8:35 PM

  257. dhogaza Says:

    550 ppmv – 386 ppmv = 64 ppmv

    Llewelly might want to reconsider this equality … :)

    Oops. Thank you dhogaza. That invalidates my post. Thank you.

    Comment by llewelly — 6 Mar 2009 @ 8:58 PM

  258. Rockman #232 and #239 provides an excellent opportunity to distinguish between homo scientificus and homo trollus, which sometimes tries to impersonate homo scientificus to lure its prey, homo gullibilus. Note that Rockman alludes to “studies” but provides no actual references. Note he refers to himself as a “scientist”, but never specifies his expertise.
    Despite the attempts of homo trollus to mimic homo scientificus, it is easy to distinguish between the two. A quick perusal of the various professional societies for homo scientificus reveals that not one has a call that dissents from the consensus position: that humans are behind the current warming epoch.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Mar 2009 @ 9:56 PM

  259. Rockman Says (6 March 2009 at 2:51 PM):

    “However, the “attribution” you are advocating is for us to surrender our freedom to the government, in the form of either taxes or regulation.”

    Err… Which freedom is it that we’re surrendering, exactly? I spent a couple of hours today collecting the paperwork for my US income tax, pay sales tax every time I buy something, get a sizeable property tax bill every year. So if instead of a certain percentage of my income going to the IRS every year, there’s a buck or so on every gallon of gas, and a few cents on each KWh of electricity I use, how does that further restrict my freedom?

    With a carbon tax, I wouldn’t have waste hours keeping records & filling out forms, and if I was so inclined, I could join my off-the-grid friends, and not pay the carbon tax at all, which would arguably increase my freedom – and decrease my cost of living.

    Comment by James — 7 Mar 2009 @ 12:11 AM

  260. Mark writes:

    BPL #203 then why did you not mention sunspot cycles, if you know about them, I mentioned them and you mentioned other things I had said?

    Which part of “sunspot cycles have no discernible effect” did you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 3:37 AM

  261. Rockman writes:

    There are NO empirical studies that indicate that humans have caused these changes.

    Just because you’re not familiar with the evidence doesn’t mean there’s no evidence. CO2 has increased by over 100 ppm in 150 years and we know it’s coming primarily from fossil fuels because of its radioisotope signature, and because we know how much fossil fuels have been burned since the Industrial Revolution and roughly how much has gone into sinks and how much has stayed in the atmosphere. BTW, the radioisotope signature of fossil-fuel CO2 was first detected in ambi-ent air by Hans Suess in 1955.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 3:42 AM

  262. Rockman writes:

    I, and a significant number of other scientists,

    Oh, you’re a scientist? What field? What degree, from where, when? Where do you work?

    It’s well documented that once a bureaucracy is implemented, it is never rescinded, even if its goal is not being achieved.

    So we’re still dealing with the World War II-era Office of Price Administration? Oh, wait… the OPA doesn’t exist any more. How about the Freedmen’s Bureaus? Oh, wait, those don’t exist any more either…

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 3:46 AM

  263. Richard C writes:

    Then explain the temperature rise in the first half of the 20th century.

    Rising carbon dioxide.

    Explain why solar output tracks sunspot cycles quite well.

    Because the sun is brighter when there are more sunspots. You’d think the darker sunspots would darken the sun, but apparently the faculae surrounding the sunspots are brighter than the sunspots themselves are dim.

    Though it isn’t as large as CO2, solar output is quite significant.

    Yes, especially over the very long run.

    Explain why changes in solar output don’t change things on Earth.

    They do, if they’re large enough.

    Like changes in CO2, we’re talking awfully basic physics. Remember, all of the feedbacks that make CO2 more significant ALSO make solar output more significant.

    No kidding.

    Changes in solar output (aka sunspot cycles) helped temps go up in 1900-1957, and it helped temps go down recently.

    Not according to the statistical analysis I’ve done myself. Want the numbers?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 3:53 AM

  264. #254 Secular, Well how about that? I met both the journalist and Professor… Solid people.
    I don’t think that all the ice will disappear, not all of it, but very large chunks gone by a certain September 20, progressively larger each year, with variances imposed by La-nina (more ice) and El-Nino much less. The only way all the ice pack will completely may go is by synergistic combination of several factors
    all timed correctly. 1- Severe ice dumping in Fram Strait during winter, 2- A warm winter, 3- a Near permanent Cyclone centered over Spitzbergen, 4- A cloudy long night 5- A cloud free summer season 6- a near permanent high pressure North of Alaska 7- El-Nino from October to March.. If all 7 (I am missing a few??) happen, sure no ice at end of summer. So unless the temperatures warm up substantially more, its a question of odds. Currently we have #1-2-4, no
    extinction of ice for summer of 09. I rather see very little ice North of The Canadian Archipelago on a yearly basis, for several Septembers to come, unless something offsets the current warming trend caused by Greenhouse gases. It is a tragic picture, even if its not as dramatic as no ice at all.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 4:46 AM

  265. Re #255 Oh well we are not committed to 2.4C of warming but this must mean that the uncertainty of climate sensitivity if getting more certain and its going the wrong way (higher that is). So in effect I thought we were due around 1.4C of warming (0.8C already and 0.6C in the pipeline) for our 385 Ppmv of CO2 but now it is 1C more than that due to renewed refining of the cooling agents or pollution laws removing more of them from the atmosphere.

    Is this inline with James Hansens recent doubling of climate sensitivity from 3C to 6C for a pre industrial doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. I am presuming that a lot of these cooling effects come from burning coal and dung now referred to the atmospheric brown cloud and not the asian brown cloud. It almost sounds like clean coal technology would increase warming in the short term but decrease it in the long.

    Has the IPCC been too conservative in its estimation or is it realistic to play the sensitivity down as it gives humanity hope?

    Comment by pete best — 7 Mar 2009 @ 5:40 AM

  266. re #231.

    That’s what doctors do all the time. They do their best, but with any life-threatening problem, there’s a risk that something goes wrong.

    Even the patients know it.

    They hope for the best and go ahead, because although an appendix operation has a chance of killing the patient, not having the operation WILL kill the patient.

    And do you have ANY theory as to why cutting back CO2 won’t reduce the problem compared to if we didn’t?

    Comment by Mark — 7 Mar 2009 @ 8:44 AM

  267. Steve Reynolds said, “Most businesses don’t operate efficiently with unpredictable and radical changes in their costs. Also, since the environmental effects of CO2 are largely independent of economic conditions, it seems a constant carbon cost would be preferred.”

    Businesses deal with fluctuations and uncertainties all the time. Hell, there are even businesses devoted to helping other businesses deal with these uncertainties. What is more, my experience with taxation is that businesses are more likely to acoid the cost via creative accounting than true invention. We need much more of the latter than the former.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Mar 2009 @ 8:52 AM

  268. Re #255 “How much warming in the pipeline? Part II – it’s as tricky as ABC”:
    http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kkeller/Urban_Keller_grl_08_submitted.pdf
    http://www.climatesci.org/publications/pdf/R-334.pdf

    Comment by Adam Gallon — 7 Mar 2009 @ 8:58 AM

  269. The George Will column was a shock to me, but I am no longer shocked by the flat-out rejection of AGW by Will because I’ve now read the same thing in the columns of several other conservative commentators. Obviously the attitude-of-the-day has been sent out to simply stonewall global warming in the conservative hack-mill-ocracy. The current Republican political stance is to stonewall change of any sort, in the hope that the public will react against “big government” in two years. Probably a futile enterprise, but if it keeps carbon cap-and-trade at bay for four or eight more years, then it’s a “victory.”

    Comment by markr — 7 Mar 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  270. Re #268, yeah I remember reading that Pielke “opinion” piece and thinking, how can a reputable scentist (Sr. was at some point, and his publication record speaks for him) could lend his name to this. Considered for half a second writing a rebuttal myself — even an amateur like me could see how wrong it was. But there’s just too much nonsense in the world to fight it all. I see also Gavin getting worn down.

    Physics Today have been playing this game lately, allowing bad science to masquerade as “opinion”. Sad.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Mar 2009 @ 10:17 AM

  271. Re: #239

    Rockman,

    You and Mitch are two sides of the same coin — wait, that would be one of the infamous pieces of silver, wouldn’t it?

    Recaptcha: $3,500 Warfield

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 7 Mar 2009 @ 12:03 PM

  272. Rockman #239: “It’s well documented that once a bureaucracy is implemented, it is never rescinded”

    Very true, with the exception of: Administrative Conference of the United States, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Atomic Energy Commission’s Historical Advisory Committee, Board of Economic Warfare, Bureau of Entomology, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, Bureau of Prohibition, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Civil Service Retirement System, Committee on Public Information, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Defense Homes Corporation, Defense Production Administration, Economic Cooperation Administration, Federal Alcohol Administration, Federal Bureau of Narcotics (United States), Federal Civil Defense Administration, Federal Civil Defense Authority, Federal Housing Finance Board, Federal Power Commission, Federal Radio Commission, Federal Security Agency, Foreign Economic Administration, Four-Minute Men, General Land Office, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Industrial Commission, Interagency GPS Executive Board, Interstate Commerce Commission, List of lifesaving stations in Michigan, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, National Bureau of Education, National Production Authority, National Recovery Administration, National Security Resources Board, National Teachers Corps, Office of Censorship, Office of Civil Defense, Office of Civilian Defense, Office of Defense Mobilization, Office of Economic Opportunity, Office of Economic Stabilization, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Office of Price Administration, Office of Strategic Influence, Office of Technology Assessment, Office of Territorial Affairs, Office of the United States Nuclear Waste Negotiator, Office of War Mobilization, Public Land Commission, Public Works Administration, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Register of the Treasury, Resettlement Administration, Statistical Reporting Service, Steamboat Inspection Service, Training Within Industry, United States Atomic Energy Commission, United States Bureau of Mines, United States Civil Service Commission, United States Customs Service, United States Federal Maritime Board, United States Grazing Service, United States Information Agency, United States Life-Saving Service, United States Maritime Commission, United States Metric Board, United States Office of War Information, United States Revenue Cutter Service, United States Sanitary Commmission, United States Shipping Board, United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation, Vermilion Point, War Bureau of Consultants, War Division, War Finance Corporation, War Industries Board, War Manpower Commission, War Production Board, War Research Service, War Shipping Administration, Works Progress Administration

    Comment by Chris — 7 Mar 2009 @ 12:36 PM

  273. Yeah, Rockman must trust someone who tells him what’s true.

    He doesn’t look things up, and his source doesn’t show him sources.

    Someone like George Will, not someone like a reference librarian.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Mar 2009 @ 2:38 PM

  274. Chris (272) — LOL!

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Mar 2009 @ 5:46 PM

  275. #268: have you read the caveats? Ultimately,a plea for more and better quality observations.Who wouldn’t agree?

    Comment by Nick — 8 Mar 2009 @ 2:45 AM

  276. re: 263. BPL, you’re currently arguing a point that isn’t being made.

    RC isn’t saying “The rising temperatures at the beginning of the 20thC are due SOLELY to Solar changes”.

    When you say

    ” Explain why changes in solar output don’t change things on Earth.

    They do, if they’re large enough.”

    You’re somewhat wrong. Even if they are small changes, they will change things on Earth. Just to a very small amount.

    WE do not need to say “Solar forcing isn’t happening”. WE do not need people saying “Solar forcing isn’t significant”. WE do not need people saying “There is no change in solar output”.

    What WE need are people who will say something like “Yes, the sun does have an effect, but it isn’t enough by FAR to explain the changes. I mean, getting up too early has an effect on your long term health. Just not enough to worry about it if it happens on occasion”.

    What you’re in danger of doing BPL is proving that AGW pundits have IGNORED the sun and say that ONLY CO2 is important.

    Which is WRONG. But each of your words can be left in their places and read as-is and if your temperament is such that you want to believe that AGW is populated by people with religious fervor for CO2 being bad, then can see it there in the black-and-white.

    We went over how denialists seem to have a problem with multiple causes. They complain of the AGW side of ignoring multiple causes but they themselves say “The sun is doing it” and ignoring that the sun is only doing some of it.

    And now you come along and go “Nope, the Sun has NOTHING to do with it!!!”. Which may be correct when you consider the correct realm you’re thinking about (e.g. recently the sun hasn’t gotten warmer and the changes in the Sun are so small they are washed out by the inherent variability) but you ARE NOT SAYING IT. So those who think the Pro-AGW are all frothing maniacs will read your words and see a frothing maniac on the Pro-AGW side. They won’t look for any non-frothing maniac and will not see a frothing Anti-AGW maniac and so you’re helping them entrench their ideals rather than helping them get educated.

    Stop doing that.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Mar 2009 @ 7:19 AM

  277. Mark, I think you are missing something in your criticism of Barton’s efforts. Barton is not claiming solar forcing isn’t significant–just that it isn’t the cause of recent warming. This is important, because the denialists posit a number of unfounded solar causes–from the naive “it’s the sun” crowd to the sophisticated numerology of Scafetta and West. It is important to point out that there simply is no physics there–and Barton’s effort along with the recent Physics Today rebuttal do just that. We haven’t won this war yet. We still need to counter the anti-science tripe being dished out by the denialists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Mar 2009 @ 8:41 AM

  278. Ray: “Businesses deal with fluctuations and uncertainties all the time. Hell, there are even businesses devoted to helping other businesses deal with these uncertainties.”

    That is true, but my point is these uncertainties cause a loss of efficiency. Otherwise, why would a business pay to have ‘professionals’ help them deal with it?

    Carbon trading would be a boon to those uncertainty professionals, which is why they are pushing so hard for it.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 8 Mar 2009 @ 10:06 AM

  279. Steve Reynolds wrote in 278:

    Carbon trading would be a boon to those uncertainty professionals, which is why they are pushing so hard for it.

    “Uncertainty professionals”? Are you speaking of insurance companies?

    Globally, the number of weather-related events, the variability of total losses, and the economic impacts and demographic drivers are all on the rise. Insured and total property losses ($45 billion and $107 billion in 2004, respectively) are rising faster than premiums, population, or economic growth both globally and in the U.S. (Figure 1). Globally, inflation adjusted economic losses from catastrophic events rose by 8-fold between the 1960s and 1990s and insured losses by 17-fold. The insured share of total economic losses from weather related catastrophes is also rising, from a negligible fraction in 1950s to 25 percent in the past decade. The ratio has climbed more quickly in the US, with more than 40 percent of total disaster losses insured in the 1990s.

    Inflation-corrected weather-related losses in the U.S. property-casualty sector have risen from a few billion dollars per year in the 1970s to $15 billion per year in past decade, punctuated by three peaks of over $25 billion/year and a record high in 2004 that included $30 billion in hurricane losses alone. Important for insurance, unpredictability has increased as well. Weather-related economic (insured plus uninsured) losses from the subset of events with over $1 billion in insured losses totaled $486 billion, of which $172 billion were insured (inflation-corrected to 2004 dollars) (Figure 2). The annual average rate of loss rose from $3 billion per year in the decade 1950-1959 to $30 billion per year in the most recent decade (Figure 3). Averaged over the past 55 years, weather-related events have been responsible for 93 percent of all catastrophe events, 83 percent of the economic damages of natural disasters, and 87 percent of the insured losses.

    Availability and Affordability of Insurance Under Climate Change
    A Growing Challenge for the U.S. (2005)
    Evan Mills, Ph.D. • Richard J. Roth, Jr. • Eugene Lecomte
    http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/Ceres%20–%20Insurance%20&%20Climate%20Change%202005.pdf

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 Mar 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  280. 263 Barton writes, “RichardC said,
    ‘Changes in solar output (aka sunspot cycles) helped temps go up in 1900-1957, and it helped temps go down recently.’

    Not according to the statistical analysis I’ve done myself.”

    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:-UDFKnQYGEQJ:www.climatechange.gov.au/science/hottopics/pubs/topic6.pdf+first+half+of+20th+century+warming+solar&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
    “Changes in solar radiation during the early 1900s explain much of the global warming that occurred at that time.”

    http://www.solarstorms.org/GlobalWarming.html

    Note that solar forcing was the single most important factor in pre-1900-1950 warming. Your analysis is simply wrong.

    Comment by RichardC — 8 Mar 2009 @ 12:35 PM

  281. The solar question has been pretty well settled – see:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/solar.htm#eddy

    “However, rough limits could now be set on the extent of the Sun’s influence. Average sunspot activity did not increase after 1980, and on the whole, solar activity during the half-century since 1950 looked little different from the half-century before. The continuing satellite measurements of the solar constant found it cycling within narrow limits, scarcely one part in a thousand. As for cosmic rays, they had been measured since the 1950s and likewise showed no long-term trend. Yet the global temperature rise that had resumed in the 1970s was accelerating at a record-breaking pace.”

    As far as George Will’s piece, it was probably just an effort to move the discussion away from “what to do about global warming” and back to “is global warming really happening.” That corresponds with the Heartland Institute’s lastest climate denialist conference, aimed at getting their message out, for example:

    Don Easterbrook, professor of geology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, who will present new data showing “the most recent global warming that began in 1977 is over, and the Earth has entered a new phase of global cooling.”

    The Heartland Institute says that “all of the event’s expenses will be covered by admission fees and individual and foundation donors to Heartland. No corporate dollars or sponsorships earmarked for the event were solicited or accepted.”

    However, the board of directors of the Heartland Institue are simply running an industry lobbying organization – one that targets the public and the press, rather than Congress. Their CEO and chairman have interesting views:

    Herbert J. Walberg, Chairman (and distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Tower – quote: “Instead of yet one more effort to fix federal education programs, the best course would be to terminate them altogether. They clearly have cost huge amounts of money, accomplished little, and undoubtedly reduced American educational productivity.”)

    Joseph L. Bast, President and CEO The Heartland Institute (co-author of “Eco-Sanity–A Common Sense Guide to Environmentalism” which argues that global warming is not a problem.)

    Note that this is an organization which buys up children’s addresses and sends them fossil fuel lobby PR on global warming:

    Calgary Herald, 2008

    “The mailout, sent in February, included results from international surveys of climate scientists conducted in 1996 and 2003 along with a 10-minute DVD called Unstoppable Solar Cycles, The Real Story of Greenland…

    …The brochure and DVD said that scientists were “deeply divided” about “the notion that climate change is mostly the result of human activities.” It also suggested that the sun was the main factor behind recent warming recorded on the planet.

    Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? The heartland directors also include past directors of oil companies and auto companies like GM. That is the same GM whose director was recently quoted on global warming:

    DETROIT, Feb 2008 (Reuters) – General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has defended remarks he made dismissing global warming as a “total crock of s—,” saying his views had no bearing on GM’s commitment to build environmentally friendly vehicles.

    This is the side of the George Will story that goes largely unreported, in that George Will is just the spokesperson for ideologically blinded free-market fundamentalists at places like the Heartland Institute – people who can’t even acknowledge the obvious, that there is no “free market” in energy, oil, nuclear reactors and the like. Given the reality of recent economic events brought on largely by regulatory failures under the fundamentalist model, why would anyone still bother to listen to their talking points? They’ve grown ever more ridiculous – George Will said this (as interpreted by the Heartland Institute) in 2008, for example:

    George Will, in an October Newsweek column commenting on Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, wrote that if nations impose the reductions in energy use that Al Gore and the folks at RealClimate call for, they will cause “more preventable death and suffering than was caused in the last century by Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot combined.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 8 Mar 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  282. 277 Ray said, ” Barton is not claiming solar forcing isn’t significant–just that it isn’t the cause of recent warming.”

    I disagree. I’M the one saying that. Barton is saying, per 260, “Which part of “sunspot cycles have no discernible effect” did you not understand?”

    Comment by RichardC — 8 Mar 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  283. RichardC (282) — As I understand it, one calculates that from trough to peak of an average sunspot cycle the surface temperature goes up by about 0.05–0.07 K.

    Which is not discernible because of internal climate variablity.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Mar 2009 @ 1:51 PM

  284. #282, RichardC, whatever you inferred from what Barton said, sunspots as visible part of change in the solar cycle have a discernible effect… one of insignificance within the 0.1% fluctuation between solar minimum and maximum. That’s what I’ve derived from all I’ve read.

    Comment by Sekerob — 8 Mar 2009 @ 1:55 PM

  285. Ike Solem wrote: “… George Will is just the spokesperson for ideologically blinded free-market fundamentalists at places like the Heartland Institute …”

    Such people are not actually ideological. I call them pseudo-ideological. They use the rhetoric of ideological, so-called “free market” fundamentalism, but their use of such rhetoric is just as dishonest as their denial of anthropogenic global warming. In fact, they are bought-and-paid-for shills for particular corporations (e.g. ExxonMobil) and particular industries (e.g. fossil fuels). They are paid to propagandize on behalf of their clients.

    Note how their pseudo-ideological rhetoric sneakily equates “fossil fuel corporations” with “capitalism”, as though the private enterprise, for-profit manufacturers of wind turbines, photovoltaics, concentrating solar thermal power plants, smart grid components, and electric cars — and the venture capitalists who are pouring money into such companies — are all Red Commies.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Mar 2009 @ 2:48 PM

  286. On second thought, it might just be possible to design a special filter tuned to the presumed pseudoperiodic characteristics of sunspot cycles over the last 128 years. Then applying that to GISSTEMP ought to pick up something.

    The problem is that whatever is found cannot be attributed to just the solar cycle, as various ocean oscillations would surely also contribute some power. Don’t know how to remove that effect.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Mar 2009 @ 3:04 PM

  287. RichardC wrote in 280:

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/science/hottopics/pubs/topic6.pdf

    “Changes in solar radiation during the early 1900s explain much of the global warming that occurred at that time.”

    http://www.solarstorms.org/GlobalWarming.html

    Note that solar forcing was the single most important factor in pre-1900-1950 warming.

    “pre-1900-1950 warming”? Do you mean Warming in the first half of the 20th Century?

    Not according to either of the two links that you provided. Solar forcing could be “the single most important factor,” but isn’t necessarily.

    The closest two points at which the first link comes to saying this is the bit you quote that “solar radiation during the early 1900s explains much of the global warming that occurred at that time” and another where it states, “During the 20th century, overall natural forcing (solar and volcanic) probably increased (a warming effect) up to about 1950 due to a period of low volcanism and a small rise in solar radiation (IPCC, 2001, p 706).” But “much” doesn’t imply “most” and there is the period of low volcanism as well as a small rise in solar radiation.

    Looking at the second link, it states:

    * Global climate of the 20th century has warmed by 0.7-0.8°C.
    * Natural (unforced) climate variability cannot explain the magnitude of the observed warming over the 20th century.
    * Solar irradiance variations are large enough to shape, but not dominate, the observed warming.
    * The extended warming period between 1910-1940 can be explained by natural variability plus added greenhouse gases. It can also be explained by added greenhouse gases plus increased solar irradiance.
    * Added greenhouse gases provide, by far, the most plausible hypothesis for explaining the warming of the 20th century.

    According to that link, early warming could be explained by natural variability or solar irradiance plus additional greenhouse gases.

    Actually, best estimates given by the Nasa GISS, it would appear that forcing due to well-mixed greenhouse gases have had a larger positive forcing than solar radiation virtually every year since 1880 — with the one exception being that of 1881. However, forcing due to solar radiation was significant during the first half of the twentieth century. Just not as significant as forcing due to well mixed greenhouse gases — predominantly anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane.

    Please see the graphs at:

    Forcings in GISS Climate Model
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce

    … as well as the data at:

    Global Mean Effective Forcing (W/m2)
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/RadF.txt

    … and of course the technical papers which are linked to at the bottom of the first.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 Mar 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  288. Ray, 277, however, “recent” means generally, on the subject of AGW, the changes over the last ~150 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    However, BPL seems to be considering merely the last averaging period of 30-50 years.

    BPL is also complaining that RC is going on about Sun being the cause and the Sun changing. Well, the Sun HAS changed. maybe as much as 1/3 of the warming seen is due to the sun according to the IPCC. It could be as little as 1/10th too, but that is still not insignificant.

    And you (OK, he has brought it up too, but only NOW) have complained that it was insignificant for sunspots to be the problem. But when you complained about it, he hadn’t at that time said that. It’s still a strawman if you make up what the other person said, if they LATER state what you said earlier they had said incorrectly. And I said it was the end of a vibrant sunspot activity cycle, which isn’t the same thing.

    PS the 0.05K change would be approximately doubled by feedback. It’s not discernable on the timescale of sunpsot cycle (11 years) but then again, the activity cycle just ended was centuries long. And over that scale, you can tell.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Mar 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  289. http://i39.tinypic.com/2s0o2uo.jpg

    Starting over… This graph shows an estimate of relative forcings, with solar activity being #1 and CO2 and volcanic a close second and third for the 1900-1950 period. It then shows little or no solar forcing change through 1990. We know that solar output has declined since 1990, so solar can’t explain much, if any of the increase in temperature since 1960. In contrast, CO2 has dwarfed all other forcings and is steadily growing larger to this day. Thus, solar cycles are significant but becoming less and less so as compared to CO2.

    Anyone disagree?

    Comment by RichardC — 8 Mar 2009 @ 3:54 PM

  290. Richard C writes, with typical humility:

    Note that solar forcing was the single most important factor in pre-1900-1950 warming. Your analysis is simply wrong.

    Let me know if you want the time series data and then you can point out where I made the error in my calculations.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Mar 2009 @ 4:44 PM

  291. Another note on solar forcing: I regressed temperature anomalies 1880-2007 (N = 128) on ln CO2, DVI, and four different measures of solar influence, one or two at a time: TSI, Sunspot number, years since maximum, years since minimum. None of the solar measures were statistically significant. Sunspot number came closest at t = 1.5 (p

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Mar 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  292. re: #287

    See, now THIS is what was needed:

    +++++++++++++

    “pre-1900-1950 warming”? Do you mean Warming in the first half of the 20th Century?

    Not according to either of the two links that you provided. Solar forcing could be “the single most important factor,” but isn’t necessarily.

    +++++++++++++

    Pick up what was said, ask for clarification and rebut the statement made if it is wrong. Or fill out the missing pieces if only part of the story.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Mar 2009 @ 5:22 PM

  293. Mark (288) — The estimate of 0.05–0.07 K as the temperature change over a solar sunspot half cyce includes the feedbacks, I believe.

    According to at least one paper, there are no longer period solar activity cycles. All changes in cycle length, sunspot number and Be10 are best treated as random events.

    See what Sidney Weart wrote about this matter.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Mar 2009 @ 5:27 PM

  294. Timothy Chase:” “Uncertainty professionals”? Are you speaking of insurance companies?”

    No, I am not. I was in this carbon permits trading case speaking of financial instrument traders.

    By the way, the misleading insurance loss info you quote is ironic in this George Will discussion. In Revkin’s article comparing Will’s and Gore’s misleading info, increases in weather disaster losses were what Gore was claiming without justification.

    [Response: Wrong. There is no question that weather disaster losses are occurring. And see here for what Gore actually said. - gavin]

    [Update: As realised below, I meant to say that there is no question that weather disaster losses are increasing. Sorry for the confusion. I did not address the issue of attribution, but denying there is no increase to attribute is not a good start. - gavin]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 8 Mar 2009 @ 6:31 PM

  295. SecularAnimist: “Such people [George Will] are not actually ideological. I call them pseudo-ideological. They use the rhetoric of ideological, so-called “free market” fundamentalism, but their use of such rhetoric is just as dishonest as their denial of anthropogenic global warming. In fact, they are bought-and-paid-for shills for particular corporations (e.g. ExxonMobil) and particular industries (e.g. fossil fuels). They are paid to propagandize on behalf of their clients.”

    Message to moderator: Is this kind of personal attack only allowed when it supports the AGW side? I’ve had many comments censored that were orders of magnitude milder.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 8 Mar 2009 @ 6:42 PM

  296. Richard C., Mark et al., I think we need to be cautious when discussing “solar activity”. Are you talking about insolation–where the mechanism for warming/cooling is well defined or magnetic activity, where the mechanism is putative at best or some even more ill defined mechanism. If you are discussing anything but insolation, you’ve pretty much left the realm of physics.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Mar 2009 @ 7:58 PM

  297. gavin: “There is no question that weather disaster losses are occurring.”

    There are plenty of questions that they have much to do with GW. Even RC contributer Connelly agrees claiming so is a problem:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/03/weird_stuff_from_romm.php#comment-1440767

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 8 Mar 2009 @ 9:54 PM

  298. Steve Reynolds wrote in 294:

    By the way, the misleading insurance loss info you quote is ironic in this George Will discussion. In Revkin’s article comparing Will’s and Gore’s misleading info, increases in weather disaster losses were what Gore was claiming without justification.

    Al Gore wasn’t one of the authors of the study I was citing. These are people working in or closely with insurance companies, and each has an extensive background for claiming expertise when it comes to the costs and incentives faced by insurance companies due to climate change.

    Regarding the authors, the Forward states:

    This white paper was prepared by a three-person collaboration that included a scientist, an insurance actuary (who also served as a regulator), and an insurance veteran of 50 years. The paper explores the insurability of risks from climate change, and ways in which insurance affordability and availability could be adversely impacted in the U.S. in the coming years. It includes examples where affordability and availability of insurance are already at risk from rising weather-related losses and how future financial exposure for insurers, governments, businesses and consumers could worsen if current climate and business trends continue.

    Availability and Affordability of Insurance Under Climate Change
    A Growing Challenge for the U.S. (2005)
    Evan Mills, Ph.D. • Richard J. Roth, Jr. • Eugene Lecomte
    http://www.pewclimate.org…pdf

    The authors state:

    Globally, inflation adjusted economic losses from catastrophic events rose by 8-fold between the 1960s and 1990s and insured losses by 17-fold. The insured share of total economic losses from weather related catastrophes is also rising, from a negligible fraction in 1950s to 25 percent in the past decade. The ratio has climbed more quickly in the US, with more than 40 percent of total disaster losses insured in the 1990s.

    ibid.

    Likewise, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website itself recently stated:

    It has become evident that climate change will continue to challenge insurers and state insurance regulators. Inevitably, this will pose a threat to the availability of essential insurance coverages for consumers.

    ibid.

    Not professional enough for you? Prefer something more glossy?

    Try Lloyd’s of London:

    Lloyd’s urges insurers to take climate change seriously or risk being swept away
    5 June 2006
    http://www.lloyds.com/News_Centre/Features_from_Lloyds/Climate_change_adapt_or_bust.htm

    … and the pdf they are making available:

    Lloyd’s 360 climate change report (2006)
    http://www.lloyds.com/NR/rdonlyres/38782611-5ED3-4FDC-85A4-5DEAA88A2DA0/0/FINAL360climatechangereport.pdf

    Try Allianz:

    And Europe’s largest insurer, Allianz, stated that climate change stands to increase insured losses from extreme events in an average year by 37 per cent within just a decade.

    (2006) Responding to climate change –
    The Insurance Industry Perspective
    Dr Evan Mills, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/emills/PUBS/PDF/Climate-Action-Insurance.pdf

    Prefer something more local? Try:

    The response of many [insurers], particularly in the United States, has been to focus on financial means for limiting their exposure to high-risk areas along the coastlines and areas prone to wildfires. Allstate, for instance, has said that climate change has prompted it to cancel or not renew policies in many Gulf Coast states, with recent hurricanes wiping out all of the profits it had garnered in 75 years of selling homeowners insurance. The company has cut the number of homeowners’ policies in Florida from 1.2 million to 400,000 with an ultimate target of no more than 100,000. The company has curtailed activity in nearly a dozen other states.

    ibid.

    (emphasis added)

    This webpage:

    From Risk to Opportunity: A Periodic Review of Insurer Responses to Cliamte Change
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/insurance/opportunities.html

    … includes links to eight different insurer climate change sites and five different trade associations.

    More reports on climate change by a different members of variety of industries (e.g., insurance, banking) can be found here:

    Business and Climate Reports
    http://www.pewclimate.org/business/external-reports

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:31 AM

  299. On my behalf, Ray (296), the former.

    But at least you’re asking rather than assuming.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:22 AM

  300. Steve, 295, are personal attacks ONLY ever personal when they state you personally and not personal when they state the group and they state you are in that group?

    “Climate scientists are all on the gravy train. That’s why they say this is happening”.

    But you never complain about it, do you.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:24 AM

  301. BPL, #291, I’ll have a vowel for $10, please…

    Comment by Mark — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:26 AM

  302. Steve Reynolds wrote in 294

    In Revkin’s article comparing Will’s and Gore’s misleading info, increases in weather disaster losses were what Gore was claiming without justification.

    Gavin inlined:

    Wrong. There is no question that weather disaster losses are occurring. And see here for what Gore actually said.

    Steve Reynolds responded in 297:

    There are plenty of questions that they have much to do with GW. Even RC contributer Connelly agrees claiming so is a problem:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/03/weird_stuff_from_romm.php#comment-1440767

    More like there are questions as to how much weather-related damages have to do with climate change at present (as opposed to population growth and development, for example), and how much such weather-related damages will grow in the future as the result of climate change.

    What William Connolley states which is most relevant as this relates to Gore is perhaps best found here:

    I imagine that the Gore folk just naturally assumed that the two trends (T and Disasters) must be linked; after all, how could it be otherwise, and what need can there be for any proof? Here’s what I found:…

    “Will” I be able to think of a witty title for this post?
    Category: climate communication
    Posted on: February 26, 2009 4:47 PM, by William M. Connolley
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/02/will_i_be_able_to_think_of_a_w.php

    … then he quotes CRED:

    Although if the above mentioned trends are consistent with the conclusions of the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) fourth assessment report- stating that climate change is likely to affect the severity, frequency, and spatial distribution of extreme climatic events such as hurricanes, storm surges, floods and droughts- the linking of past trends in the EM-DAT figures and to climate change needs to remain guarded. Indeed, justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading. Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one- even if it impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future. The task of identifying the possible impact of the climate change on the EM-DAT figures is complicated by the existence of several concomitant factors. For instance, one major contributor to the increase in disasters occurrence over the last decades is the constantly improving diffusion and accuracy of disaster related information. Furthermore, disaster occurrence and impacts do not only depend on exposure to extreme natural phenomena but also depend on anthropogenic factors such as government policy, population growth, urbanisation, community-level resilience to natural disaster, etc. All of these contribute to the degree of vulnerability people experience. Beside past major efforts to reduce disaster risk, the vulnerability of those populations most at risk continued to increase over the last decades. Climate change comes as an additional pressure on this rising vulnerability. Developing countries, many of which are already the most vulnerable to natural disasters, will be particularly affected by climate change. This will occur not only through the experience of more frequent and/or or severe disaster phenomena, but also through the slow onset impacts of climate change.

    CRED Annual Disaster Statistical Review
    The Numbers and Trends 2007
    http://www.emdat.be…pdf

    (emphasis added)

    Or in other words, CRED believes that climate change is one of several factors in current upward trends towards weather-related disasters.

    Judging from the sources I cited above, however, insurance companies seem convinced that it is already playing a very significant role, and both CRED and insurance companies are of the view that climate change will play an increasing role in the future.

    Connolley, Revkin, Will and Gore

    Now Gavin was responding to Steve Reynolds statement in 294:

    In Revkin’s article comparing Will’s and Gore’s misleading info, increases in weather disaster losses were what Gore was claiming without justification.

    … at which point Steve Reynolds stated in 297:

    There are plenty of questions that they have much to do with GW. Even RC contributer Connelly agrees claiming so is a problem.

    … so I think it might be interesting to see what Connolley had to say about Revkin’s comparing Will and Gore:

    Andy Revkin (a page, incidentally, that the vaunted Chrome displays very badly) f*cks this up badly, effectively painting Gore and Will as equivalents. This had the usual cause: not because he thought they were, but because for that piece at least he really wasn’t interested in what they were saying: he just had a journalistic point to make, and they were convenient fodder. Revkin, of course, isn’t about to apologise for his error, and in this he is just like Will, or whatever paper printed Will’s twaddle. See, I can do false equivalence too.

    “Will” I be able to think of a witty title for this post?
    Category: climate communication
    Posted on: February 26, 2009 4:47 PM, by William M. Connolley
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/02/will_i_be_able_to_think_of_a_w.php

    But however fascinating they may be, personalities are only so important. We will all be dead in less than a century. That applies to me, Steve Reynolds, and yes, even Al Gore.

    Yet climate change will continue to affect our world, and it will do so for the next 100,000 years. Currently weather-related disaster losses are clearly increasing. Climate change appears to be playing an important role, although there are other factors. Moreover, one would be hard pressed to find an expert that would deny that climate change will be playing an increasing role in the near and even the very remote future.

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie:
    should LAYMAN

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Mar 2009 @ 4:17 AM

  303. Hello folks,
    I post in climate blogs mostly due to the fact that I live in the Czech Republic. Some of you may have heard of the President here, Vaclav Klaus, a denier of the first water, and current President of the EU.
    Klaus said at the Santa Barbara conference:
    “Klaus told Czech journalists that ‘the fact that global temperature has been decreasing, not increasing since 1998 should start someone thinking.’

    He said Gore’s struggle for decreasing carbon dioxides emissions is erroneous. A radical, unnatural and forced reduction of carbon dioxides will cause a massive slowing down or even braking down economic growth, Klaus said.”
    What I would like to know is where he is getting the “global temperature has been decreasing” bit from. I’ve heard it from other people here, too, but I think they’ve been getting it from Klaus, or from Klaus’ source. I know from Open Mind that temperature anomalies or even a simple comparison of number of record highs vs lows show a clear temp increase in the N Hemisphere. Where is this “global temperature has been decreasing” meme coming from?

    Comment by Antiquated Tory — 9 Mar 2009 @ 4:41 AM

  304. Unfortunately if climate science has to be an argument to win the public over we cannot win it. Oh yes in scientific terms it can be won but maybe not as a popular mass media one. The deniers have the common touch, they can spread the easy word of denial. The 1970′s climate cooling argument was not a consensus but because it made the papers and the media then it was one of course. I believe that Gavin has spoken on a platform along with some deniers (Philip Stott for example).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DKtPDuZzfzhw?gl=GB&hl=en-GB

    and Gavin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGa6_k00Cus&feature=related

    The comments section says it all. They seemingly slate Gavin but think stott is right.

    The arguments against are popularlist and spoken by people such as Michael Crichton who spellbinds people and comes up trunps. Its easy to do (obviosuly) for those who are not well meaning by all accounts and the USA republican movement is so good at it and all of the most venemous deniers are of that ilk. Philip Stott procliams himself an environmentalist and as such makes some good arguments but on the argument of climate change being a crisis well how can it be for now. For the next 20/30/40/50 years it is not an crisis as it has no obvious cause and effect that can be nailed down and scientists have no the mettle to attribute any single event (hurrican, tornadoes, forest fires for example) that they will stick their neck out on.

    James Hansen is an alarmist, an accusation that is outrageous and reflects the total lack of understanding of the scientic method and the scientific work is requires to get to such a position. He stuck his neck out twenty one years ago scientifically and stil does but he is still attacked and hence the argument appears to be lost to some degree even though many sensible people are convinced.

    Comment by pete best — 9 Mar 2009 @ 5:04 AM

  305. Steve (297): I wondered when I read that if what Gavin actually intended to say was, “There is no question that weather disaster losses are increasing.” The original statement, that weather disaster losses are occurring, although difficult to dispute, would have been equally true in 1776 or 1066 or 2500BC but probably not attributable to AGW.

    [Response: yes. My bad. - gavin]

    (I don’t know abut anyone else, but I get awfully tired of Al Gore being dragged into every climate discussion. What difference does it make if Gore has made mistakes or what the extent of his carbon footprint is? I have a rule of thumb: If a post contains the word “Gore”, the rest of it is probably not worth the time it takes to read it and is almost certainly not worth the time it takes to respond. If someone thinks that proving Gore wrong on some trivial point is prima facie evidence against AGW, nothing you say is going to make any difference.)

    Comment by Chris — 9 Mar 2009 @ 5:20 AM

  306. I forgot the darn HTML problem again. I meant to say that sunspot number came closest with t = 1.5 and p < about 0.2. In other words, no measure of solar activity correlated significantly with temperature anomaly over the period 1880-2007.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 6:46 AM

  307. Tory, basically people are making this “cooling since 1998″ thing up out of whole cloth. Some base it on the fact that in some datasets, 1998 is still the warmest year on the record, and do a simple comparison even though this has no statistical validity whatsoever. One fellow I interacted with was basing it on Roy Spencer’s graph of the UAH monthly means (even though Spencer’s trend line peaks in 2005.)

    One quote that I saw seemed to be invoking the idea of a *relative* cooling. That is, that since 1998 we “should” have seen more warming, and thus it has “cooled” relative to some hypothesized CO2-forced trend line. Of course, this essentially disregards other sources of variability.

    So my take is, don’t worry; you are right.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Mar 2009 @ 8:07 AM

  308. “Crisis” is a terrible word for AGW since the rate of change is so slow, and the consequences of AGW are undefined. It’s hard to get people to change when the outcome of an act is so far away and, for many, not only beyond their own lifetimes, but possibly that of their children as well. There’s been around .9C of increase in temps and there’s possibly as little as .6C more — that’s a tough sell in the “crisis” market. An increase less than the difference between 9AM and 10AM on a summer’s day. So, I should do what? Give up driving? Give up my gas water heater and furnace? Getting nearly 7 billion people with vastly different energy agendas to line up to sacrifice so that something ill-defined won’t happen? Were you to go selling door-to-door in the summer with a box of doodads you couldn’t open so that you could craft a sales pitch, you’d have a better chance of making a sale. I’m sure that for scientists with an eye on the possible consequences and a firm grasp of the evidence that they must wake every morning feeling like they are in a Twilight Zone episode or one of Thomas Pynchon’s novels of paranoia.

    reCaptcha: point $2.5-billion

    Comment by duBois — 9 Mar 2009 @ 8:24 AM

  309. Another recent figure for solar, less than or equal to 14 percent:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/1/014006/erl9_1_014006.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 9:56 AM

  310. Doug Bostrom, wrote: “#112: Your geophysicist friend has done private analysis that seriously leads him to believe he’s got the jump on everybody else? And he has not published this? Not to fall back on name-calling, but that smacks of alchemy. If it ain’t published, it ain’t science”

    My geophysicist friend has a full time (and very successful) job in the oil exploration business, so much of what he has done is in his spare time and is preliminary. I have seen some of it — it poses questions (on the temperature data collection process) that beg for an answer. I have encouraged him to at least post it here, and, perhaps, one day he will do so.

    If he gives me permission, I will post some of his findings/analyses here in the form of questions.

    I think “alchemy” is perhaps an inappropriate term.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 10:52 AM

  311. pete, I can’t agree. (Glad to be able to write that, too.) The denialist echo-chamber is ed noisy, but I don’t think that sensible people are persuaded, by and large.

    It is incumbent on us, though, to keep putting the truth out there. The big lie technique they use can’t succeed if the truth is repeatedly stated as well.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Mar 2009 @ 11:13 AM

  312. Mark(300): ” “Climate scientists are all on the gravy train. That’s why they say this is happening”.

    But you never complain about it, do you.”

    For the record, I disagree with that statement, and I don’t think arguments about motives belong in a scientific discussion. If I were running a science blog, I would censor that statement.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 9 Mar 2009 @ 11:28 AM

  313. One reason I am not an AGW skeptic is illustrated by this Heartland
    news release today. When the science arguments fail, they attack the
    messengers, ascribing malice to their motivation.

    Burgy
    —–
    NEW YORK–Environmentalists–even mainstream environmentalists such as
    Al Gore–are less concerned about any crisis posed by global warming
    than they are eager to command human behavior and restrict economic
    activity, the president of the Czech Republic told the second
    International Conference on Climate Change here Sunday.

    Vaclav Klaus, who also is serving a rotating term as president of the
    European Union, triggered the approving applause of about 600
    attendees as he said, “Their true plans and ambitions: to stop
    economic development, and return mankind centuries back.”

    Klaus was one of three presenters Sunday evening as the largest-ever
    gathering of global warming skeptics kicked off a 2 1/2 day conference
    confronting the issue, “Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?’
    Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, which produced the
    conference, and Richard Lindzen, a leading meteorologic physicist at
    the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earned prolonged applause
    with their presentations as well.

    But Klaus was the hit of the evening as he declared that the global
    warming alarmists he has encountered “are interested neither in
    temperature, carbon dioxide, competing scientific hypotheses and their
    testing, nor in freedom or markets. They are interested in their
    businesses and their profits–made with the help of politicians.”

    Comment by John Burgeson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 11:51 AM

  314. My geophysicist friend has a full time (and very successful) job in the oil exploration business, so much of what he has done is in his spare time and is preliminary.

    I see. So not only has he debunked the work of a large number of professional scientists, he’s done so in his spare time.

    I’m impressed!

    He should take up physics and evolutionary biology, who knows what kind of scientific discoveries lay in store if he chooses to do so?

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  315. Timothy Chase: “Judging from the sources I cited above, however, insurance companies seem convinced that it is already playing a very significant role, and both CRED and insurance companies are of the view that climate change will play an increasing role in the future.”

    Timothy, you have a lot of detail from insurance companies, but why do you think their statements (given their financial interest in justifying their rates) are any more accurate than what you think about fossil fuel company statements?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  316. Some rather gloomy news:

    Carbon Cuts ‘Only Give 50/50 Chance of Saving Planet’
    by Michael McCarthy
    Monday, March 9, 2009
    The Independent/UK

    Excerpt:

    The world’s best efforts at combating climate change are likely to offer no more than a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below the threshold of disaster, according to research from the UK Met Office.

    The key aim of holding the expected increase to 2C, beyond which damage to the natural world and to human society is likely to be catastrophic, is far from assured, the research suggests, even if all countries engage forthwith in a radical and enormous crash programme to slash greenhouse gas emissions – something which itself is by no means guaranteed …

    Today, world average temperatures stand at about 0.75C above the pre-industrial, and many scientists and politicians agree that further increases have to be stopped at 2C if catastrophic impacts from the warming are to be avoided, ranging from widespread agricultural failure and worldwide sea level rise, to countless species extinctions and irreversible melting of the world’s great ice sheets.

    But the Hadley Centre’s simulation indicates that even if global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing the warming, were to be slashed at a very high rate the chances of holding the rise at the 2C threshold are no better than even. The scenario, prepared for Britain’s Climate Change Committee, the body recommending the UK’s future carbon “budgets”, visualises world CO2 emissions peaking in 2015, and then falling at a top rate of 3 per cent a year, to reach emissions of 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

    At the moment, global emissions are thought to be rising at nearly 3 per cent a year – so turning that into a 3 per cent annual cut would be a gigantic slashing of what the earth’s factories and motor vehicles are pumping into the atmosphere …

    Yet even with that, the Hadley Centre research suggests, the chances of keeping the rise down to about 2C by 2100 would be only 50-50. Furthermore, the simulations suggest that there is a worst-case scenario – about a 10 per cent chance – of the rise by the end of the current century reaching, even with these drastic cuts, a level of 2.8C above the pre-industrial, which is well into disaster territory.

    With any action that is slower than the scenario above, the likeliest outcome is a much higher eventual temperature – and in fact, the model indicates that each 10 years of delay in halting the rise in global emissions adds another 0.5C to the likeliest end-of-the-century figure. So if emissions do not peak and start to decline until 2025, we can expect a 2.6C rise by 2100, and if the decline only begins in 2035, the figure is likely to be 3.1C – even with 3 per cent annual cuts.

    These new figures suggest quite unambiguously that the world is on course for calamity unless rapid action can be taken which is far more drastic than any politicians are so far contemplating – never mind the general public.

    If action is sluggish or non-existent, the model suggests that climate change is likely to cause almost unthinkable damage to the world; under a “business-as-usual” scenario, with no action taken at all and emissions increasing by more than 100 per cent by 2050, the end-of-the-century rise in global average temperatures is likely to be 5.5C, with a worst-case outcome of 7.1C – which would make much of life on earth impossible.

    We have only a few years within which time anthropogenic CO2 emissions must stop rising, and then begin a rapid decline, if we are to have even half a chance of averting catastrophe.

    Be alarmed. Be very alarmed.

    [Response: There is a big problem with this kind of discussion. The 2 deg limit is not the boundary of disaster - nothing different will be happening at 1.99 deg C above pre-industrial than 2.01 deg C. It isn't as if there are no consequences below 2, and huge consequences above. Instead there is a continuum of increasing likelihood of bad impacts. Think of 2 deg like a speed limit, not a cliff. This piece gets this idea completely wrong. - gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  317. Secular Animist, I have to agree with Gavin. This sort of piece plays right into the hands of the it’s-hopeless-so-let’s-party crowd. The probability of catastrophic impacts scales nonlinearly with deltaT. Moreover, the longer we take to reach 2 degrees, the more time we will have had to develop mitigation strategies. It’s all about buying back whatever time we can of the 2 decades we’ve lost to the efforts of the denialists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Mar 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  318. Gavin and Ray, let me ask you this. What do you think are the chances that the current rate of increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions of about 3 percent per year will turn into a 3 percent per year decrease in emissions by 2015 — in only six years?

    That’s the scenario that the Hadley simulation suggests is needed to give us a 50-50 chance of holding temperature increases by 2100 below 2C above preindustrial levels.

    The message I get from this is not “eat, drink and be merry, for by 2100 we’ll die”.

    The message is that we have essentially already irreversibly committed ourselves to some truly hideous outcomes, and only by urgent, concerted, far-reaching action can we avert much worse outcomes.

    Captcha says “dangers All”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  319. Sec, it’s always good to look beyond the news story before assuming it’s actually reporting news.

    So the story you link says:

    “… The chilling forecast from the supercomputer climate model of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research…”

    Ooh, that’s bad wording: “chilling forecast” — right. Any source or link? Nope. Where’s this from? It quote “Dr Vicky Pope, the Met Office’s Head of Climate Change Advice.”

    Let’s look at their press releases. Can you find it?

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/index.html

    Hadley Centre website: “latest news” link is _about_ the press coverage and almost a month old:

    “Early action on climate change needed
    15 February 2009
    Claims by Professor Chris Field that climate change ‘will be beyond anything’ predicted has generated widespread interest across the media….”

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20090215.html

    So who’s Chris Field, and when did he say something?

    “Chris Field is director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology and was speaking ahead of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)”

    The science behind this is not news!
    Links to this:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/policymakers/action/evidence.html
    (previously published in the Guardian)

    So — what’s new here?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:26 PM

  320. Re: 313

    Ironic claims from The Heartland Institute and politician Vaclav Klaus:

    “They are interested in their
    businesses and their profits–made with the help of politicians.”

    “Their true plans and ambitions: to stop
    economic development, and return mankind centuries back.”

    Scary! Good thing we have Klaus to expose the conspiracy. In the same speech, he describes scientists concerned about global warming (which would be nearly everyone) as “alarmists”. How thick is that irony?

    Comment by MarkB — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:34 PM

  321. Re 316-317

    I don’t find this piece playing into the hands of the hopeless at all. More to the contrary, based eg on the following statement:

    “the model indicates that each 10 years of delay in halting the rise in global emissions adds another 0.5 C to the likeliest end-of-the-century figure.”

    That information could actually help engaging people into action, but only because it’s a continuum of climate effects of course. If it were all or nothing, then 2.6 or 3.1 degrees wouldn’t make a difference.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  322. re: 318.

    Pretty good.

    The US uses 20% of the fuel. They use 5x the average power per head. But no need to go that far, reduce by 1/6th so that they are using ~4x the average (still well above the UK, for example) and you have your 3% by one country alone. And because the US did so, other countries can be shamed into reducing their output. After all, the US is “the leader of the free world”.

    And one reason for the 50-50 chance is all the guff about “we have to have PROOOF!!!!”.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:50 PM

  323. Hank Roberts (309) — Thank you for the link to that short, informative paper!

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 1:56 PM

  324. Secular Animist, I have no doubt that we have likely locked in some very negative consequences. I do, however draw a distinction between the magnitude of the consequences at 2 degrees and those at 4 degrees, or, God forbid, at 6 degrees.
    I am also painfully aware of the uncertainty as to what may be politically feasible, and that if we overshoot that, we will accomplish less than nothing.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Mar 2009 @ 2:12 PM

  325. PS, Sec, from the press office index link above, I did find a recent piece from Dr. Vicky Pope:
    __________________________
    Stop misleading climate claims
    11 February 2009
    Dr Vicky Pope

    Dr Vicky Pope, Met Office Head of Climate Change, calls on scientists and the media to ‘rein in’ some of their assertions about climate change. …”
    —————————-

    Could you dig a little further on that story?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 2:17 PM

  326. in #314: “dhogaza Says:
    9 March 2009 at 12:11 PM

    I see. So not only has he debunked the work of a large number of professional scientists, he’s done so in his spare time.

    I’m impressed! He should take up physics and evolutionary biology, who knows what kind of scientific discoveries lay in store if he chooses to do so?

    That’s the kind of post that turns people off, my friend. You don’t know anything about him — me you can look up on http://www.burgy.50megs.com if you have an interest.

    He, and I, and two others, all members of the American Scientific Affiliation, http://www.asa3.org, (a 55 year old organization of scientists who are also Christians — NOT a creationist group, BTW) are following this site (because I recommended it) more or less closely. I personally accept the IPCC position; two of us are agnostic on the subject, one does not accept the IPCC position. All of us are anxious to determine the best answers.

    All of us have had list experiences with “trolls.” We are not trolls.

    I write for a paper up in Colorado and sometimes talk about AGW. My last two articles can be accessed through links on:

    http://www.burgy.50megs.com/recent.htm

    Cheers

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 2:32 PM

  327. SecularAnimist: I would also disagree with the following statement from that news article: “with a worst-case outcome of 7.1C – which would make much of life on earth impossible.”

    7.1C would in fact be disastrous and catastrophic to both humans and many existing ecosystems. However, it would not come even close to making “much of life on earth impossible”. I imagine many opportunistic species (think insects, weeds, etc) will thrive under those conditions.

    Comment by Marcus — 9 Mar 2009 @ 2:58 PM

  328. Hank Roberts wrote: “The science behind this is not news! … So — what’s new here?”

    Well, I would suggest that the term “news” is not rigorously defined. What’s “news” to me may be “olds” to you.

    However, I’ll be glad to restate the first line of my comment from “Some rather gloomy news” to “Some rather gloomy simulation results that may not be news to those who follow climate science” if that’s more appropriate.

    As far as I can tell, though, other than objecting to the characterization of the simulation results as “news”, you are not saying that the report is otherwise inaccurate, is that correct?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:05 PM

  329. Steve Reynolds wrote in 315:

    Timothy, you have a lot of detail from insurance companies, but why do you think their statements (given their financial interest in justifying their rates) are any more accurate than what you think about fossil fuel company statements?

    Financial interest in justifying their rates?

    Allstate, for instance, has said that climate change has prompted it to cancel or not renew policies in many Gulf Coast states, with recent hurricanes wiping out all of the profits it had garnered in 75 years of selling homeowners insurance. The company has cut the number of homeowners’ policies in Florida from 1.2 million to 400,000 with an ultimate target of no more than 100,000. The company has curtailed activity in nearly a dozen other states.

    (2006) Responding to climate change –
    The Insurance Industry Perspective
    Dr Evan Mills, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/emills/PUBS/PDF/Climate-Action-Insurance.pdf

    According to this, Allstate is refusing to insure 800,000 homeowners in Florida at any rate, two thirds of the people they insured in the past, and they plan on reducing the number that they insure even further.

    *

    A fundamental principle of objectivity is that identification precedes evaluation, and a corollary to this as it applies to communication is that one begins with the assumption that the primary motive behind argumentation is the identification of reality, not some other motive. This is afterall the basis for the identification of ad hominem attacks as a form of fallacious reasoning. And incidentally, this is a principle that you violated when you referred in 294 to the first paper I cited as “the misleading insurance loss info” without any attempt to state what about it was “misleading.”

    However, the fact that identification precedes evaluation does not imply that we never get to the process of evaluation or that we always assume that any and every “mistake” is wholly innocent. If errors are systematic enough, they may suggest a different form of causation is involved than an honest attempt at identification, and that form of causation is oftentimes itself worthy of identification.

    Years ago, the courts reasonably concluded that tobacco companies were engaged in systematic deception as to the hazards of smoking. Today the fossil fuel industry is engaged in similar practices.

    See for example:

    The American Denial of Global Warming (1 hr)
    Naomi Oreskes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

    … and,

    According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

    Scientists’ Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science
    Oil Company Spent Nearly $16 Million to Fund Skeptic Groups, Create Confusion January 3, 2007
    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/ExxonMobil-GlobalWarming-tobacco.html

    They even use some of the same advocacy organizations, e.g., the Heartland Institute:

    Although Heartland calls itself “a genuinely independent source of research and commentary,” its has been a frequent ally of the tobacco industry can be documented by searching the industry’s internal document archives.

    Roy E. Marden, a member of Heartland’s board of directors, was until May 2003 the manager of industry affairs for the Philip Morris (PM) tobacco company, where his responsibilities included lobbying and “managing company responses to key public policy issues,” which he accomplishes by “directing corporate involvement with industry, business, trade, and public policy organizations and determining philanthropic support thereto.” In a May 1991 document prepared for PM, Marden listed Heartland’s “rapid response network” as a “potential spokesperson” among the “portfolio of organizations” that the company had cultivated to support its interests. [6] ….

    Heartland Institute
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute

    Exxon’s network and funding of disinformation has been extensively documented. You can map the organizations and individuals involved here:

    Exxon Secrets
    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets

    *

    But rather than denying the science, the insurance industry papers that I referred to are citing it. For example, if you read the original paper that I suggested, they go into the issues of attribution and the necessity of taking climate change into account in various actuarial calculations.

    The paper is written primarily for insurers. Rather than denying the science, they are highlighting it. And the same is true of the Lloyd’s paper. In these respects, both of those papers (and others) are similar to the CRED paper. CRED itself is largely insurance-focused, being the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:20 PM

  330. Steve Reynolds #315:

    [...] why do you think their statements (given their financial interest in justifying their rates) are any more accurate than what you think about fossil fuel company statements?

    But they don’t have to justify their rates… just find customers for them, in a competitive marketplace ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:23 PM

  331. Sec, here’s a place to start looking if you have the time. I don’t, right now. I suspect this is the Committee referred to in the article you posted:

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/legislation/committee/index.htm

    which points to: http://www.theccc.org.uk/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:53 PM

  332. Oh, good grief. The CCC site has a link that sounds like it might be informative — but they just link to the same newspaper article!

    Someone else dig. Pony still possible.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:56 PM

  333. Is one of you alarmists “Steven Goddard”?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/06/basic-geology-part-3-sea-level-rises-during-interglacial-periods/#comment-96468

    Brilliantly done and I apologise in advance for blowing your cover.

    Comment by Tom P — 9 Mar 2009 @ 3:57 PM

  334. #318 SecularAnimist

    Beyond the poignant and relevant comments of Gavin, Ray and Hank, serious concern is warranted. I think it wise to consider the speed limit and the thermal inertia and all that that entails. I really like that Gavin put it as a ‘speed limit’ and might add that if we hit the speed limit there will be a cost to that ticket, but that it is also costly to hit any of the speeds along the way… it’s just that the fines keep going up on a exponential scale. So passing the limit has a higher cost.

    Just some thoughts on the subject of catastrophic change. This is a relative term and by no means and I diminishing the potentials contained in the brad scope of the term.

    I would break it down this way:

    - Resource scarcity is an issue that will harm a great number of people.
    - Human migration will strain political boundaries and capacities.
    - Global resource economy and monetary economies will be further strained.

    So catastrophic will be measured sooner rather than later, most likely… especially when we get to solar maximum again in about 5-7 years. By then the arguments will likely be long over and we will know how much time we wasted and the relative costs.

    We can see that the feedbacks will become increasingly problematic and I understand that you are not in the we can’t do anything about it so let’s party’ crowd. You are clearly and justifiably concerned.

    To summarize, we need to get ‘people’ to clearly understand the science of ‘this global warming event’ as it is different than past events.

    We need to get people to understand the manner in which it will impact our lives. It already is affecting earth systems, but most people don’t understand the attribution yet.

    There are, what I see as, viable mitigation strategies in the works that will lessen future impact, but that will not stop all the future impacts based on current inertia and other system wide parameters of human resource needs.

    If there is a lesson in this conversation, i would say it is that we absolutely need to get the public well informed on the science as that will directly impact the politicians and therefore policy.

    We can get on the better road, but time is a factor. We are all in the same boat so we need to just keep working on getting the contextually relevant understanding to the people.

    In the short term, emissions should slow down due to the economic downturn, but don’t think that is in any way a panacea. Co2 is a long lived gas in the atmosphere. Let’s just say we have our work cut out for us.

    Let’s all keep doing the hard work of educating. I remain confident we can achieve some degree of success, but not with out some causalities along the way. Faster is better.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 9 Mar 2009 @ 5:04 PM

  335. I’m getting sick of the term “alarmist.” While no one would want to cause a stampede in a theater screaming “fire” and have people trampled to death, we wouldn’t want people to just sit there and burn to death either.

    Even when we suggest all life on earth my end thru runaway warming, people just aren’t paying attention, and they aren’t even doing sensible things to reduce their GHG emissions by 30 to 60% cost-effectively that would save them money without lowering their living standards.

    There is absolutely no way of being alarmist on the global warming issue, bec no matter what the scientists and environmentalists say, people just aren’t acting with alarm, and they aren’t even acting sensibly. It’s like everyone has just decided to sit in the theater, despite many warnings that it’s on fire, while it burns down and kills the whole audience.

    If anyone knows of anyone going on a fear-driven rampage that endangers society bec they are afraid of what they hear about global warming, let us know, and we’ll go out to calm them down and get them to mitigate sensibly.

    So, keep ringing the alarm bells louder and louder, and hope someone out there finally listens!!

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 Mar 2009 @ 5:18 PM

  336. Sec, I’m saying I can’t find anything that could be the basis for the Independent article you linked to. Usually a little searching turns up a press release, or some other news story. I’d assume there’s something behind it — but can’t find anything. Can you?

    Tom P, tracking that guy down seems to have been a multiuser game for a while last year; he’s done guest columns for WTFU, Google for the name plus “gmail”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 5:18 PM

  337. Martin: “But they don’t have to justify their rates… just find customers for them, in a competitive marketplace”

    Martin and Timothy,

    It only took a 10 second Google search to find out why insurance companies are cancelling policies in Florida (It is not ‘a competitive marketplace’):

    “Last month State Farm pulled the plug on its 1.2 million homeowner policies in Florida, citing the state’s punishing price controls. The state’s largest insurer joins a raft of competitors that have already reduced or dumped their property and casualty business in the Sunshine State, including Prudential, Allstate, Nationwide and USAA. This is the inevitable result of Governor Charlie Crist’s drive to control property-insurance premiums.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123371173559046209.html

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 9 Mar 2009 @ 6:25 PM

  338. Here’s an excerpt from an environmental law professor’s blog:

    http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/environmental_law/2009/03/times-they-are.html

    “… What has become apparent is the potentially devastating inadequacy of global emission reduction goals currently being discussed in Congress and in international treaty discussions. We don’t just need to reduce our 1990 emissions by 80% (the most radical goal that has been part of the political discussion), we don’t just need to go carbon neutral (the most radical goal that individuals and institutions have set), we need to become carbon negative — we need to reverse the impact of human activity on the global climate….and fast.

    Let’s be clear….we need to act immediately, we need to make dramatic changes, and we can ill afford to allow the smoke and mirrors of commentators in the pocket of the energy business to sidetrack the discussion. What the industry claims is an adequate response, or the most we can afford, or the most supported by the current science, or the most that the technology can achieve now should be viewed with well-founded skepticism.

    Since 1970, industry has repeatedly claimed with respect to a wide variety of environmental problems that we didn’t yet have the technology, that the costs outweighed the benefits, that we couldn’t afford the price tag, that jobs were being lost, and other hogwash about environmental protection. They did so with knowledge of technologies in their pocket, awareness they were inflating costs and minimizing benefits, attributing job losses caused by changing technology to the environment, and placing more emphasis on profits and maintaining the size of their bonuses than on creating a sustainable society.

    I make this claim as one who has always been reluctant to classify myself as an environmentalist because my experience with industry and government was broader and deeper than my involvement with any environmental group. That remains the case even today. But enough is enough! We have a true crisis. We need great courage to deal with that crisis, particularly with the shape of the global economy left to us by our neoliberal friends. …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Mar 2009 @ 6:32 PM

  339. #335 Lynn Vincentnathan

    I’m with you on the alarms. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating:

    “We don’t need to be alarmist just because the alarms are ringing. Instead, while the alarms are ringing, we need to be calm and think this through in order to conceive an effective plan to mitigate the amount of disruption to economic, geographic, agricultural, social, environmental, biologic and even military systems.”

    http://www.uscentrist.com/news/2007/hot-air-in-media

    and of course RC

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/six-degrees/#comment-70952

    But I think the best way to ring the alarm is to explain the science. It has to sink in and unfortunately that takes some work and finesse. For some, the louder the alarm, the more they tune it out.

    So please do ring the alarms, but consider the audience in each case.

    We are all here doing our utmost I’m confident.

    I am building a resource section to help answer questions in as short a page as possible with links to, of course, RC and other relevant sources.

    Some of you might find this collection helpful in helping others. Criticisms and comments always welcome. I am still working on some sections and not all the info is sourced yet.

    Recent additions include the The Revelle-Gore Story re. the S. Fred Singer article in Cosmos

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/cosmos-myth

    by Justin Lancaster, an old acquaintance of mine from UCSD (he worked with Revelle) and I just did a nice item on the Loehle Temperature Reconstruction

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/loehle-temperature-reconstruction

    Once people begin to assimilate the science, the alarms will ring in their own heads. Keep spreading the contextually relevant information :)

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 9 Mar 2009 @ 6:57 PM

  340. Not exactly a GW topic, but this carbon storage in forest soils as charcoal study is interesting, may be important:

    http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/wildernessforestcarbon

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Mar 2009 @ 7:26 PM

  341. Hank,

    Thanks for the info. Certainly Steven Goddard is an interesting guy. His reviews of the basic science are often fairly written, but his own data analyses seem almost deliberately flawed, and his response to criticism a parody of self contradiction and low-level abuse which further undermine his own position.

    I playfully conjectured that he might be a ringer (the moderator on WUWT obviously doesn’t share my sense of humour and removed this post) and thought I would just check over here – there was just a faint glimmer of a possibility in mind that someone might actually own up! But it looks like Steven was just having a bad-blog day.

    Anyway, thanks to Steven WUWT now has a nice dataset, with additional supporting supplementary material, and a background discussion concluding unequivocally that we currently have sea-level rises above background rates.

    Comment by Tom P — 9 Mar 2009 @ 7:38 PM

  342. Lynn (#355) I don’t think that “all life on earth may end thru runaway warming” is an appropriate alarm bell to be ringing. There are plenty of real alarm bells out there with actual probability of happening that you don’t need to make up new ones. And I think the real bells are more effective, too…

    Comment by Marcus — 9 Mar 2009 @ 7:46 PM

  343. We are not trolls

    Of course you aren’t Burgy, you are just an elderly emeritus Christian with a lot of free time on your hands, who also happens to be almost entirely disconnected from any current reality or current science and its methods.

    Keep up the good work! We need more people like you to point out the glaring failures of the edifice of science.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 9 Mar 2009 @ 8:27 PM

  344. Steve Reynolds wrote in 315:

    Timothy, you have a lot of detail from insurance companies, but why do you think their statements (given their financial interest in justifying their rates) are any more accurate than what you think about fossil fuel company statements?

    In 329 I responded in small part with:

    Allstate, for instance, has said that climate change has prompted it to cancel or not renew policies in many Gulf Coast states, with recent hurricanes wiping out all of the profits it had garnered in 75 years of selling homeowners insurance. The company has cut the number of homeowners’ policies in Florida from 1.2 million to 400,000 with an ultimate target of no more than 100,000. The company has curtailed activity in nearly a dozen other states.

    (2006) Responding to climate change –
    The Insurance Industry Perspective
    Dr Evan Mills, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/emills/PUBS/PDF/Climate-Action-Insurance.pdf

    Steve Reynolds has now just written in 337:

    It only took a 10 second Google search to find out why insurance companies are cancelling policies in Florida (It is not ‘a competitive marketplace’):

    “Last month State Farm pulled the plug on its 1.2 million homeowner policies in Florida, citing the state’s punishing price controls. The state’s largest insurer joins a raft of competitors that have already reduced or dumped their property and casualty business in the Sunshine State, including Prudential, Allstate, Nationwide and USAA. This is the inevitable result of Governor Charlie Crist’s drive to control property-insurance premiums.”

    Florida’s Unnatural Disaster
    Charlie Crist, taxpayers and the next hurricane.
    FEBRUARY 4, 2009
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123371173559046209.html

    State Farm isn’t Allstate, Steve.

    And it would help if you payed attention to chronology.

    *

    Charlie Crist wasn’t elected governor until November of 2006.

    Please see:

    The 2006 Florida gubernatorial election took place on November 7, 2006. Governor Jeb Bush was term-limited, and could not run for re-election. Republican Charlie Crist, the state’s Attorney General, won the election for Governor of Florida.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_gubernatorial_election,_2006

    He didn’t sign into law a bill to limit premiums until January of 2007.

    Please see:

    Jan. 26–TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a bill aiming to trim homeowners insurance premiums, promising weary Floridians that “help is on the way.” The legislation sprang from a weeklong special session that ended Monday. Facing an uproar from residents experiencing soaring premiums…

    Crist Signs Bill Set To Trim Insurance Premiums.
    Publication: Tampa Tribune (Tampa, FL)
    Publication Date: 26-JAN-07
    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-30444457_ITM

    But Allstate Floridian requested reducing its risk in 2005:

    Allstate Floridian, the state’s third-largest provider of homeowners insurance has applied to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation in Tallahassee to scale back its insurance risk in Florida by dropping 95,000 homeowner’s policies across the state and totally eliminating its commercial coverage.

    Allstate also said it intends to raise homeowners premiums, but company spokesmen did not indicate how much the rate increase would be or when it would go into effect. The Florida Legislature passed a bill this year requiring public hearings for rate increases of more than 15 percent.

    Allstate Floridian Applies to Scale Back, Drop 95,000 Homeowners
    June 6, 2005
    http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/southeast/2005/06/06/features/56495.htm

    As such, this was almost a year and a half before Crist was elected governor, and well before Crist signed the legislation.

    Now it is true that there existed legislation at the time that limited Allstate’s ability to raise premiums:

    The Florida Legislature passed a bill this year requiring public hearings for rate increases of more than 15 percent.

    ibid.

    But this does not change the fact that they had withdrawn from a market where:

    … climate change has prompted it to cancel or not renew policies in many Gulf Coast states, with recent hurricanes wiping out all of the profits it had garnered in 75 years of selling homeowners insurance.

    (2006) Responding to climate change –
    The Insurance Industry Perspective
    Dr Evan Mills, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/emills/PUBS/PDF/Climate-Action-Insurance.pdf

    It does not change the fact that they turned over their customers to another insurer with no hope of getting them back.

    Nor does it change the fact that the funding of a disinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry is extensively documented. (See for example the links provided in the comment 329 you were responding to.) Do you wish to claim that there is a similar disinformation campaign on the part of the insurance companies? Show where they are attacking the science rather than citing it or where they are otherwise making demonstrably false statements. Provide evidence of something more than your own personal smear campaign.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Mar 2009 @ 8:41 PM

  345. Kevin McKinney #307: most of the stuff I’ve found that actually gives a rationale for the “no warming in the last decade” nonsense has simply compared 1998 to 2008. Many (e.g., our friend George Will) don’t bother with a justification, but that seems to be the most common one for those who do. I have seen the others you mention, but not as often.

    I took a whack at explaining why just comparing ’98 to ’08 is worthless in my own little blog (I even included some cute little graphs), but I imagine it’s a waste of time.

    Comment by Chris Dunford — 9 Mar 2009 @ 8:56 PM

  346. Mark,

    DVI refers to Lamb’s Dust Veil Index, a measure of volcanic output of aerosols. TSI is Total Solar Irradiance, otherwise known as the Solar Constant. The t-statistic is how you measure the significance of a coefficient in a regression. Generally you want the absolute value of t to be 2 or more for significance at the 95% confidence level or better.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 4:57 AM

  347. Elifritz writes:

    Of course you aren’t Burgy, you are just an elderly emeritus Christian with a lot of free time on your hands, who also happens to be almost entirely disconnected from any current reality or current science and its methods.

    You should have his scientific qualifications, Thomas. I think he probably knows a great deal more about current reality and current science than you do.

    [edit]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 5:08 AM

  348. Response to [294]:
    The consensus side on this blog are always ready to whale in with snide criticism and condescending corrections at a whiff of a mistake , or what they believe to be that , from the non-AGW side, but on the other hand, almost ridiculously indulgent of the many Al Gore exaggerations and downright misrepresentations.
    In the transcript that your link refers to, Gore says ‘This month the highest temperatures ever measured in Australia——-ignited debate…’.
    The truth is that the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia was not this month or last, or even recently, but was 53degrees C at Cloncurry in 1889—and just in case he was talking about Victoria, site of the recent bushfires that he referred to—the highest ever recorded temperature in Victoria was 50.7 degrees C in Mildura in January 1906.
    In your correction to your statement on losses, Gavin, you say ‘ weather disaster losses are increasing’, and you say you don’t attribute, but it needs to be said that the increase has much more to do with the fact that many more people are now living in disaster-prone areas, [as in the Victorian bushfires ], than with any increase in the magnitude and frequency of the events themselves—and records show that.
    In the always cyclone-prone Australian tropics, where I grew up, no one built homes near or at the beaches in the past—but in recent years , coastlines have become high-development areas—of all types—and so the risk escalates.
    There are many on the AGW side who use these numbers of people actually affected, to paint a false picture of escalating climate catastrophe—and then use the fear they’ve generated to justify damaging policy.
    [edit]

    [Response: Calm down. Attribution of disaster losses is a difficult subject as our post on the bushfires I think made clear. We have often criticised 'pop attributions' and will continue to do so, but don't confuse that with the impossibility of making attributions to climate change in a statistical sense for certain kinds of extremes. Language in such cases needs to be subtle, and quite often isn't, and that can lead to confusion. - gavin]

    Comment by truth — 10 Mar 2009 @ 7:44 AM

  349. BPL: I think he probably knows a great deal more about current reality and current science than you do.

    And how do you get that?

    [edit]

    If it were true, so what? Intelligent people can be just as wrong as dumb ones.

    And you only say “probably” so you admit you could be wrong. And if you are, then your point is reversed, making it ridiculous to point out.

    I mean, it’s even a two-layer ad-hom, fercrhissakes!

    [Response: This is a pointless conversation. Please stop. - gavin]

    Comment by Mark — 10 Mar 2009 @ 7:46 AM

  350. You should have his scientific qualifications, Thomas.

    I wasn’t aware that one needed to be ‘qualified’ to do science.

    Perhaps you can point me to a properly accredited institution where I can receive the required licenses in order to participate in the scientific process. I certainly don’t want to be operating outside of the law.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 10 Mar 2009 @ 8:50 AM

  351. Gavin,
    Do you ever want to say “Don’t make me come back there…?”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Mar 2009 @ 8:51 AM

  352. In #343, Thomas Lee Elifritz Says:
    9 March 2009 at 8:27 PM
    We are not trolls

    Of course you aren’t Burgy, you are just an elderly emeritus Christian with a lot of free time on your hands, who also happens to be almost entirely disconnected from any current reality or current science and its methods.

    Keep up the good work! We need more people like you to point out the glaring failures of the edifice of science.

    ———-

    I do not understand (or appreciate) this kind of response. It is unbecoming of you.

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 8:55 AM

  353. I’m disappointed that rational, non-partisan climate scientists haven’t weighed in on Stephen Chu’s preposterous groaner that farming in California could disappear by the end of the Century.

    [Response: As far as I know, farming is pretty dependent on water. Thus I'd be happy to discuss likely changes in the hydrological cycle or snow pack amounts under whatever BAU scenario Chu was referring to, but perhaps you'd like to first describe why you are so certain that it is preposterous? Maybe there's some unknown principle that says that only polar bears will be affected by climate change? - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 10 Mar 2009 @ 9:27 AM

  354. John P Reisman [334]:
    If there were any intention to ‘get people to understand’ on this AGW issue, do you not think the consensus side would welcome questioning and alternative views—especially from other scientists in the many fields related to climate change?
    Would you not think respectful debate would be encouraged in television and radio programs, instead of the prevailing practice, where a non-consensus scientist is set up as the sacrificial lamb, before a stacked audience of sneering true believers [ AGW], with a moderator who asks questions designed to lead the lamb to the slaughter—for the entertainment of the jeering crowd.
    The over-arching theme of all such programs , as it is on this blog, is that the time is past for debate or questioning [ even though it never was the time ]—that you venture into debate and the exercise of your democratic right on so seminal an issue at your own risk—be prepared for the mincer.
    Who can remember a time when the AGW orthodoxy could be even in the mildest way questioned, without the questioner inviting sneers and smear, labelling as a ‘shill’, a ‘troll’, an Exxon plant—a creationist peddler of intelligent design—a fascist—I’ve been called the lot, along with ‘stupid’ etc—simply for correcting completely erroneous claims re the undemocratic, anti-science nature of those who are shutting down debate on this issue—in my country, Australia and around the world.
    It might be worth running the gauntlet if the consensus side were willing to answer questions, like how they can be so absolutely certain of the correctness of their modelling —such that they arbitrarily dismiss and excoriate any dissenter or questioner—-when so much of the necessary input [ cloud science, ocean uptake and processing of CO2, viability of the forest and soil sinks etc] is still unknown or little known—admitted by the IPCC and many other institutions—even on your own site?

    [edit]

    [Response: Enough. You appear to have a chip on your shoulder the size of boulder, but frankly I don't care. Your characterisation of the mainstream position is so far from the 'truth' as to be a caricature. As you say, IPCC is full of discussions of uncertainty, as is this blog and yet you still claim that we are "absolutely certain" of the correctness of our modelling. Where has that ever been claimed? Certainly not here, and not in any of the papers specifically on this subject that I or any of my colleagues have written (try here for instance). The reason that you generate such a negative reaction is because you are fighting against a strawman of your own imagining. That's all well and good, but any claim that such a monologue is adding to a useful discussion of uncertainties is laughable. Please try to have an intelligent conversation here or don't bother. Rants are not welcome. - gavin]

    Comment by truth — 10 Mar 2009 @ 9:30 AM

  355. I have to agree that Burgeson has been receiving unfair treatment here. Yes, we know that it is highly unlikely that his friend has a defensible critique of AGW, but shouldn’t we wait until that critique is actually posted before throwing insults around? A reasoned statement on the unlikeliness of a random geologist working in his spare time overthrowing the work of thousands of scientists is one thing, but snide, sarcastic, anti-religious comments are not appropriate, and do not reflect well on our community.

    There are certainly trolls out there (eg, in my opinion, Steven Goddard), but I don’t think Burgeson has yet demonstrated troll-like nature. Don’t be too hasty to drive people off!

    Comment by Marcus — 10 Mar 2009 @ 9:43 AM

  356. Though he may not remember me, I know Burgy from an online fora a number of year ago and found him to be honest and respectful in his dealings. He is most definitely not a troll. Also, I suspect I know who his geophysicist friend is – would I be correct in thinking he has the initials GRM, Burgy!? This particular individual is an agressive (and very effective) opponent of creationism and is well known in such circles and has recently turned his attention to global warming.

    His critiques have particularly focused upon the land surface temperature record (and also evidence of solar forcing) and are essentially along the lines of the Watts up With That blog (though done independently). It’s my opinion that he has pointed out some problems in data quality but misses the larger picture wood for the trees. But I stopped reading his analyses a while ago and so may have missed something.

    That’s my guess at what is going on, but even if it is incorrect, I can offer assurances that Burgy is not a troll.

    Comment by SteveF — 10 Mar 2009 @ 10:23 AM

  357. On #355. Thanks, Marcus. At this time, my friend sees this site as one very unfriendly to anyone such as he, and has refused my request to participate. “Life is too short” argument.

    He has shared some of his stuff with me and invited me to post it. If I do so, I will do it carefully, and in the civil form of questions. His work does not convince me to be an AGW skeptic, although the comments of Bostrom, Elifritz and dhogaza do not reflect (to me) civility. I am pretty thick skinned, however, and not likely to go away.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  358. I do not understand (or appreciate) this kind of response.

    Welcome to reality Burgy!

    It is unbecoming of you.

    As unbecoming as say, willingly participating in a sixth global mass extinction event, because I didn’t speak up? Post a link or post your ‘associates’ results directly into the comment form and we’ll be happy to take a look at it. I recently posted a discovery and a link to my discovery right here at RealClimate, in real time, inviting the entire world to criticize it, explain it or falsify it. You’d be surprised how easy communication is.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 10 Mar 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  359. Marcus wrote in 355:

    I have to agree that Burgeson has been receiving unfair treatment here…

    Thank you, Marcus.

    From what I have seen, here at Real Climate religious, non-religious and strident are generally quite able to get along — so long as we don’t require anyone to kiss, I believe. Then again, that sort of thing just generally doesn’t come up. I personally would find it rather disappointing if we suddenly had to work to keep it that way.

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie:
    unite came

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  360. Thanks, SteveF. I appreciate the note.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:04 AM

  361. “Yes, we know that it is highly unlikely that his friend has a defensible critique of AGW, but shouldn’t we wait until that critique is actually posted before throwing insults around?”

    So post it already.

    I can tell you all I have the answer to cheap perpetual energy.

    Waiting until I post about it before saying “rubbish” is merely delaying the inevitable.

    If you aren’t ready to post your information, keep schtum.

    This is what we computer scientists call “vapourware”. Commonly used by, for example, Microsoft to kill a competitor. When they say they have a product, tell the world you have a BETTER competing product. Keep going on about it. Market waits for MS’s product and competitor dies through lack of funds or VC capital.

    Then announce that there isn’t a market for it, so you aren’t going to produce.

    And we don’t know this is going to happen here, how?

    Comment by Mark — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:15 AM

  362. John Burgeson,

    I think (with respect to Doug Bostrom and dhogaza) that the lack of civility they demonstrated is not very surprising and quite understandable. There are a very large number of people (frequently asserting credentials in “science,” which often seems to mean engineering, computer science, or, as with your friend, extractive geology) who wander around the internet claiming to demonstrate the impossibility of an anthropogenic effect on the climate. These people tend to share the following traits: a lack of understanding of climatology (theory and practice), statistics and/or the scientific method in general, and a lack of humility about their own lack of understanding. The appropriate response to these people is first, to demonstrate an error in their understanding to see if they reform, and second, to dismiss them.

    Since your friend exists on this thread only in the third person, and the basis for his argument is so far completely absent (except in your belief that there’s something to it — else why would you mention it in the first place?), some commenters have moved directly to dismissing him. While you personally may not believe this is justified, I think the general principle that “people who believe they they have overturned a significant body of scientific knowledge in their spare time are probably wrong” is sound, and deserves to be applied here until such time as it is demonstrated to be wrong.

    Climatology (and climate blog comment sections, in particular) seems to be a magnet for would-be Einsteins, and they often come along with a lot of disparaging words for those who actually increase our understanding of the climate. Indeed, the very assertion that one has discovered a deep flaw that hundreds or thousands of scientists have been missing for decades can be rather insulting. So (not to speak for dhogaza or Doug Bostrom, but rather to guess at their thinking) those who spend a lot of time on climate-related blogs tend to hear things similar to what you’ve written quite a lot, almost invariably originating from people who are some combination of crazy, deluded, or misled, and frequently from people who are quite aggressive in their wrongness. So, while I don’t see any evidence that you fit into these negative categories, your comments about your friend’s work sound very similar to the comments of many people who do. I think this explains a great deal of the coolness with which you’ve been received.

    captcha says $17, generously over-valuing my 2 cents.

    Comment by JBL — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:24 AM

  363. To the ironically named “truth”: Uh, dude, I don’t know how to break this to you, but scientific debates take place at scientific conferences and between the covers of scientific journals. Occasionally, you might even get a good one breaking out around the coffee urn. They do not occur on editorial pages or in self-published screeds. Your “scientists” are free to publish in journals if they have anything that advances understanding. If they insist on “debating” elsewhere, they are not scientists, but pudknockers.
    This website is a wonderful resource if you want to learn about the science of climate. If you want to debate, great! Go get a PhD in climate science and publish.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Mar 2009 @ 11:49 AM

  364. While you personally may not believe this is justified, I think the general principle that “people who believe they they have overturned a significant body of scientific knowledge in their spare time are probably wrong” is sound, and deserves to be applied here until such time as it is demonstrated to be wrong.

    The burden of proof is on the person claiming to have overthrown an established body of science in their spare time, and until that burden of proof has been met, there’s nothing disrespectful in assuming that they’re wrong.

    My guess is that we’ll be treated to a bunch of Old Hat Stuff, for instance problems with the surface temperature record … oh wait, that’s what he’s reported to be hanging his hat on, isn’t it?

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Mar 2009 @ 12:24 PM

  365. John Burgeson, your friend might find the posts of Bryan S to be of particular interest. Just do a search on this blog for Bryan S and you’ll have all of his posts. I believe he’s a petroleum geologist. I don’t buy into where he’s going, but studying his issues has been very interesting and educational to me as a lay person. Once in awhile somebody will swat at him and he’ll bite back, but I think he has presented his case unfettered, and the scientists here have responded to many of his points and questions.

    Comment by JCH — 10 Mar 2009 @ 12:40 PM

  366. re: 353.

    Could please point to the science which supports the conclusion that there will be no more agriculture in California?

    Could you please point to the science which supports that 90 % of the Sierra snowpack would disappear.
    Be sure to emphasize the part where the science estimates the likelihood of said event and that there will be NO innovation in irrigation methods to compensate for hypothetical snow melt disappearance.
    [edit]

    [Response: I know, why don't you try and read the reports - some pointers here and here - and then justify your claim that it is 'preposterous' that anything bad could happen. - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 10 Mar 2009 @ 12:44 PM

  367. SteveF wrote in 356:

    Though he may not remember me, I know Burgy from an online fora a number of year ago and found him to be honest and respectful in his dealings. He is most definitely not a troll. Also, I suspect I know who his geophysicist friend is – would I be correct in thinking he has the initials GRM, Burgy!? This particular individual is an agressive (and very effective) opponent of creationism and is well known in such circles and has recently turned his attention to global warming…

    Thank you, Steve.

    The fact is when John Burgeson showed up speaking of how his absent friend, I myself was a bit skeptical. Reminded me of some the acts by creationists I saw over on DebunkCreation. But I am familiar with ASA, and I know that you have been here for a while, and I realize that this isn’t that sort of thing.

    SteveF wrote in 356:

    His critiques have particularly focused upon the land surface temperature record (and also evidence of solar forcing) and are essentially along the lines of the Watts up With That blog (though done independently). It’s my opinion that he has pointed out some problems in data quality but misses the larger picture wood for the trees. But I stopped reading his analyses a while ago and so may have missed something.

    Forest for the trees sounds about right.

    As I understand things, you could throw away the whole of the twentieth century surface temperature record and that would barely begin to affect the case for anthropogenic global warming. We have sea temperatures reaching down to at least 100 meters, borehole temperature records, increasing drought, the expansion of the tropics, the declining summer sea ice in the Arctic, the melting of the glaciers, the expansion of ocean, the shifting of the seasons, and the cooling of the stratosphere, the rise of the tropopause, the increasing prevalence and severity of forest fires, the satellite measurements at the surface, the troposphere and beyond, the ability to image carbon dioxide based on its opacity to thermal radiation in different parts of the spectra (in essence imaging the greenhouse effect), our understanding of the spectral properties of greenhouse gases as it is grounded in quantum mechanics, and then various paleoclimate records.

    It all adds up to a fairly consistent picture. A whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 Mar 2009 @ 1:38 PM

  368. 290 Barton, you’re allowed to post whatever you like. Why are you asking me? Since you haven’t, I’ll just have to guess — you’ve got a case of GIGO. Solar insolation accounts for about 10-35% of the changes from 1900-1950 and diddly squat (or a bit of a drop) since then. Did you remove the other factors (volcanic, CO2, etc)? Did you do analysis for the various different time periods? Probably not. Unless you feed in the right questions, all “math” does is feed back the answer you predetermined.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Mar 2009 @ 1:38 PM

  369. re: 366.

    Nothing in those reports supports Chu’s statement, which was my point.

    Why aren’t you guys correcting him?

    And I see you are resorting to the oldest trick in the debate book. Creating strawman arguments which can easily be defeated.
    “justify your claim that it is ‘preposterous’ that anything bad could happen”

    I never said or implied any such thing. I said that it was preposterous to claim that farming in California could disappear by the end of the century.

    Please

    [Response: This paper looks more likely to be the source of Chu's statements - it took me 15 minutes to find. I quote "Under A1fi, heatwaves in Los Angeles are six to eight times more frequent, with heat-related excess mortality increasing five to seven times; alpine/subalpine forests are reduced by 75–90%; and snowpack declines 73–90%, with cascading impacts on runoff and streamflow that, combined with projected modest declines in winter precipitation, could fundamentally disrupt California's water rights system". Now if you have an issue with that analysis, then please discuss it, but Chu was not pulling things out of thin air. Maybe it's obvious to you that it is 'preposterous' that this level of change will not be hugely disruptive to agriculture in California, but it is not to me (or Chu one presumes). Or is the magic of adaptation guaranteed to save it? - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 10 Mar 2009 @ 2:21 PM

  370. RichardC, Barton

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution_png

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Mar 2009 @ 2:52 PM

  371. > California farming

    Factors other than climate change apply; see also:
    http://calag.ucop.edu/0004JA/pdf/lastcen.pdf
    Is this California agriculture’s last century?
    CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURE, JULY-AUGUST 2000

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Mar 2009 @ 2:57 PM

  372. #353 tom

    You might want to take a look at this:

    “Last year, during the second year of the drought, more than 100,000 acres of the 4.7 million in the valley were left unplanted, and experts predict that number could soar to nearly 850,000 acres this year.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/us/22mendota.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

    No, we don’t have attribution yet to climate, but these types of events are reasonably expected based on current understanding.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming will change many things. One does not need to be a scientist to understand the implications. While attribution is not solid yet, we can expect regional climate shift, droughts, floods, really big snow storms, seasonal shift, and I believe there has already been an observed 4 degree shift of the jet-stream over the past 3 decades.

    In my opinion, it would be unreasonable to assume that theses shifts and changes will not affect regional ability to grow food. In California, as in other regions, water will be an issue.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 10 Mar 2009 @ 3:03 PM

  373. SO now we’ve already moved the goalpost form total elimination to hugely disruptive.

    [Response: That is a distinction without a difference. Neither you nor I know anything specific about the sensitivity of Californian agriculture to water supply and I'm not going to make definitive statements on something I don't know much about. You might try doing the same. In the meantime, we have a source for Chu's 90% number and it's certainly plausible that the impacts would be drastic to catastrophic. -gavin]

    Comment by tom — 10 Mar 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  374. torn #366: I’m curious to know what you have in mind re: “innovation in irrigation methods to compensate for hypothetical snow melt disappearance.” How would improving irrigation methods compensate for there being not much water to irrigate with?

    Comment by Chris Dunford — 10 Mar 2009 @ 4:34 PM

  375. Hank Roberts, RichardC, Barton — The link provided in comment #370 is based on an attribution study which has been called (rather seriously IMHO) into question. The problem is the choice of which TSI reconstruction to use. The paper used one that is highly at variance with the remaining studies, all of which look rather similar to my rather naive eye of TSI reconstructions.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Mar 2009 @ 5:41 PM

  376. RC #368. You’re OK here:

    “Solar insolation accounts for about 10-35% of the changes from 1900-1950 and diddly squat (or a bit of a drop) since then.”

    But then YOU jump off on a tangent.

    a) BPL may have been talking about post 1950. In which case, there is no missing elements. Just missing information about what BPL is talking about.

    b) Even if it were, do you have any notion that volcanic changes aren’t included? ‘cos IIRC there was a HUGE discussion about the visibility of the Pinatubo eruption and how it turned out in the records and how models when given the fact that the eruption occurred then modeled correctly (within errors) the changes in weather and climate that were recorded.

    If you’re winning on a point, STOP THERE. Don’t go and throw it away with being dumb in trying to play that winning into an extrapolation on your part.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Mar 2009 @ 6:22 PM

  377. Gavin, in response to 369, wrote: “This paper looks more likely to be the source of Chu’s statements – it took me 15 minutes to find.”

    I think you have touched on a very key point here about denialists and most skeptics: The apparent fact that they will not spend the time to look up scientific data, information or papers that are readily accessible through such places as Google Scholar among many others. It is intellectual laziness (not wanting and willing to try to learn something) or plain dishonesty (regurgitating anti-science disinformation or outright lies that someone else told them), take your pick. There is certainly an excuse for not being knowledgeable about a subject but there really is no excuse for the failure to try to learn on one’s own. George Will and Fred Barnes are not knowledgeable at all about AGW; they just regurgitate lies that they have been told, having made no effort to learn about the science. Their intellectual laziness is astounding. The fact that they both have sounding boards (op-eds, TV shows, etc.) to cowardly spread lies is nothing less than criminal. Since when is lying acceptable behavior? Former Senator Patrick Moynahan of NY long ago once said, “Everyone is entitled to their opinions but not their own facts.” It’s a perfect comment with regards to AGW. Unfortunately, denialists apparently do not understand the definition of the words “science” and “fact”. And of course they do not understand how science is conducted through the scientific method including peer review. In fact some denialists/skeptics have amazingly even scoffed at peer review as a means to denigrate science as a whole.

    Comment by Dan — 10 Mar 2009 @ 8:26 PM

  378. John Reisman:
    Re educating us all—do you agree that there are dissenting views on all aspects of this issue—on the accuracy of actual measurement of global temperatures in the past through wars, Cultural and other revolutions, and all kinds of mayhem—-the part played by the huge population increase that’s occurred in the time in question, and the related increase in farm animal populations—the land use changes—-all the huge tracts of concrete where once there were grasses and forests—–the burning of tropical forest sinks and peatlands—the integrity of the ice cores—-the global nature of the MWP and the LIA —-the conclusions from the tree ring proxies—-the fact that records are only comprehensive and reliable over the last thirty years etc .
    If the answer is for us all to get to know the reasons the AGW consensus side wants drastic action now—action that will have a disastrous effect on some economies and living standards—-then why are we treated to all the name-calling etc, for merely asking about the above issues.
    Do you believe Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre, when he says we now are in a world of ‘post-normal science’—that scientists must ‘trade (normal) truth for influence’—that ‘if scientists want to remain listened to, to bear influence on policy, they must recognise the social limits of their truth seeking’ ?
    When we see such views, alongside the almost complete submission to the consensus view [ in word and increasingly in deed] by governments, and we see Opposition conservative parties [ in my country , anyway] taunted by the media and dared by journalists to question [ in the certain knowledge that a media demolition will ensue should they do so-------how can we believe this consensus is based on a firm science foundation, and not on social science and a political agenda?
    You recommend [ on your website], fast reactors and thorium reactors as insurance against failure of expectations for renewables, but surely it’s likely that many countries, if free to, would opt instead for the old reactors with their huge waste and potential accident problems—– and these would in many cases be built in politically and seismically unstable areas.
    It can’t be right in such circumstances, on such an important issue, that questioning is silenced and demonised.

    Comment by truth — 10 Mar 2009 @ 10:47 PM

  379. Richard C posts:

    290 Barton, you’re allowed to post whatever you like. Why are you asking me? Since you haven’t, I’ll just have to guess — you’ve got a case of GIGO. Solar insolation accounts for about 10-35% of the changes from 1900-1950 and diddly squat (or a bit of a drop) since then. Did you remove the other factors (volcanic, CO2, etc)? Did you do analysis for the various different time periods? Probably not. Unless you feed in the right questions, all “math” does is feed back the answer you predetermined.

    RichardC, just for you, I just regressed NASA GISS global land-surface temperature anomalies on ln CO2, DVI, and TSI for 1900-1950 (N = 51). Ln CO2 was significant and TSI was not. So your oft-repeated claim that insolation changes represent 10-35% of the variance of temperature changes in this period does not stand up to statistical analysis.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 5:55 AM

  380. The inaptly named “truth” writes:

    If the answer is for us all to get to know the reasons the AGW consensus side wants drastic action now—action that will have a disastrous effect on some economies and living standards

    Who says they will have a disastrous effect? You?

    Not acting will have a disastrous effect.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 6:01 AM

  381. I call myself truth:

    why are we treated to all the name-calling etc, for merely asking about the above issues.

    By the way, George Will wasn’t merely asking about issues. He was lying about them.

    Comment by Chris O\'Neill — 11 Mar 2009 @ 6:42 AM

  382. truth, you paint a picture I can’t recognize. I don’t see scientists muzzling all opposition to “AGW orthodoxy,” or a heroic, inoffensive minority who just want an open debate.

    I see a determined PR effort on the part of ideologues and interest groups to undercut or minimize any certainty on the issue–no matter how well-supported by evidence–with the apparent aim of postponing any action on the AGW issue for as long as possible. They then complain about the politicization of the debate for which they themselves are largely responsible.

    And it alarms me and others, because there appears to be ample reason (ie., voluminous study of mechanisms, attribution, and repercussions in multiple areas) to expect severe negative consequences to attend our continuing failure to take meaningful action. That’s my “truth.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Mar 2009 @ 7:40 AM

  383. From the increasingly ironically named “truth”:

    “do you agree that there are dissenting views on all aspects of this issue”

    Nope.

    CO2=Greenhouse Gas.

    Though there are dissenting views on this, they have the same validity as David Ike’s theories on our Lizard Overlords in the UK Parliament.

    “If the answer is for us all to get to know the reasons the AGW consensus side wants drastic action now—action that will have a disastrous effect on some economies and living standards”

    Compare to an earlier statement:
    “do you agree that there are dissenting views on all aspects of this issue …”

    Do you not agree that there are dissenting views on whether actions that need to be taken will have a disasterous effect on some economies and living standards?

    Or is dissent only valid when it’s on AGW theory, not Anti-AGW theory?

    Comment by Mark — 11 Mar 2009 @ 7:44 AM

  384. To the ironically named “truth”:

    Among scientists who actually understand the science:
    1) There is zero controversy over whether we are warming
    2) There is zero controversy that we have increased CO2 by nearly 40%
    3) There is zero controversy that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that greenhouse gasses warm the planet
    4) There is zero controversy that there are “tipping points” beyond which it will be difficult if not impossible to recover from the climatic changes we are making.
    5) There is zero controversy that CO2 sensitivity is at least 2 degrees per doubling and that it is more likely above 3 degrees than below.

    All of these are facts, which only a few contrarians dispute. The fact that there are “scientists” (e.g. Bob Carter, G&T, etc.) operating well outside their expertise who also dispute these facts is as irrelevant as whether George Will disputes them. Everyone is free to publish their science in scientific journals. The fact that “dissident scientists” have failed to do so speaks volumes to anyone who really understands the scientific process.
    As to your poor conservative politicians, it is not abuse to point out their ignorance–it is in fact the truth.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Mar 2009 @ 9:13 AM

  385. again, NOTHING in that paper supports Chu’s statement that agriculture in California will be eliminated.

    It only supports the new goalpost. That is -that there could be adverse consequences.
    And given the always problematic water supply problems ( irrespective of warming) in the West, this is akin to study showing that massive ingestion of donuts could cause obesity .

    Again, if a denier or skeptic made such a preposterous claim, he/she would be SKEWERED on here.

    YOU guys don’t get seem to get it. It’s BECAUSE of [edit] UNSCIENTIFIC statements like Chu’s that there are so many skeptics.

    Comment by tom — 11 Mar 2009 @ 9:19 AM

  386. truth, what you are asking for is unanimity of opinion. Science simply does not work like that. It can only conclude what is most probable to be true based on the evidence, taking full account of the uncertainties in that evidence. In the case of climate change, one then has to weigh the risk of ignoring the conclusions against the risk that they may be incorrect. That is the policy issue. In this case, given the multiple lines of evidence and their consequences,ignoring the conclusions would be irresponsible

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 11 Mar 2009 @ 9:22 AM

  387. I appreciate the responses here to my somewhat naive questions.

    I find the science presented on RealClimate to be of excellent quality. I find the lack of civility among some to be offputting. Even though I agree with them on the science.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:03 AM

  388. I find the lack of civility among some to be offputting.

    We are very patiently and civilly waiting for you to post the scientific results of your unnamed ‘acquaintance’.

    There is nothing wrong with being wrong, Burgy, falsifying hypotheses is an integral part of science.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:16 AM

  389. It’s funny that the people who seem most offended at the suggestion that they are reciting ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda are usually the ones who are, in fact, posting word-for-word, verbatim, boilerplate, cut-and-pasted talking points lifted directly from ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda. Perhaps they take offense at the implication that they themselves are being paid to do this, when in fact they are altruistically volunteering to disseminate propaganda that others have been paid to create.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:16 AM

  390. “I find the lack of civility among some to be offputting.”

    I find the apparent thin-skinned reader offensive.

    But, hey, I don’t get to choose you, you don’t get to choose me. Feel free to be put off. I’ll remain offended.

    Comment by Mark — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:26 AM

  391. Tom, If you have no snowpack and no reliable precipitation during the growing season, farmers are going to have kind of a difficult time. This is not to say that no one will be able to farm at all, but agriculture on a scale that we currently see it in CA will not be viable. In that sense, it will be eliminated in that it will not contribute significantly to the CA economy.
    Of course if we get 6 degrees of warming, the oceans will outgas H2S and that will really put a damper on the crop yields.
    Chu’s statements may have been slightly hyperbolic. They are not, however, beyond the pale scientifically. They do not conflict with know science.
    If we are to talk policy, it makes sense to discuss the matter in terms of risk–probability of the threat being realized times the cost if it is. That number is sufficiently high to justify drastically increased spending to mitigate the threat.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:27 AM

  392. Burgie, Some commenters here flunked sandbox. Don’t let them get to you. The purpose of the site is teaching the science. Don’t ever let anyone deprive you of the opportunity to educate yourself.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Mar 2009 @ 10:30 AM

  393. Post 385 says “YOU guys don’t get seem to get it.”

    That is absolutely RICH! The SCIENCE is all there through peer-reviewed journals, the IPCC reports, etc. It has been thoroughly DEBATED at SCIENTIFIC conferences such as the AGU. The FACT that SKEPTICS don’t bother to READ the science or COMPREHEND how science is conducted is actually what “YOU guys don’t GET”.

    (My capital letters are sarcasm to reflect the point that writing in capital letters does not to further one’s supposed point; however, the content is not sarcasm at all.)

    Comment by Dan — 11 Mar 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  394. I find the lack of civility among some to be offputting.

    Keep in mind that you’ve entered a world where visible denialists [edit] have threatened to sue researchers, or their institutions, or to make formal complaints to institutional heads, government agencies etc when they don’t hew to their personal definitions of how grants should be administered, work reported, etc. Or hauled in front of a congressional committee and accused of scientific fraud to their face by the chair of that committee. There’s a cottage industry built around the premise that mainstream climate science is based on outright fraud, and that leading climate scientists are personally guilty of falsification of data and results, etc. There have been attempts to ruin careers.

    These people are scum, in my opinion, and an occasional lack of civility to those who appear to share their opinions is to be expected.

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Mar 2009 @ 11:23 AM

  395. I understand your POV here. Looking back, I can find no post of mine which implied I would share those opinions.

    I don’t. As a matter of fact I have written several articles and book reviews promoting the IPCC findings. Most of these are on my web site.

    It is just that civility, to me, is very important. And having been a sysop on other lists since the mid 90s, I know that it is also counterproductive.

    I have no patience myself with Rush, the Heartland Institute, etc. And I will agree that being civil to or about either is not easy to do! Maybe impossible.

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  396. 393.
    No, the science is most assuredly and definitivley NOT there. Chu’s absurd projections are not supported by science. That’s the whole point.

    391 is a great example. Who ever said there was going to be NO snowpack and NO precipitation. Patent nonsense.

    Why couldn’t Chu have made a reasonable statemnt such as: ” Under some very unlikley scenarios, the amount of precipiation from the Sirrra snowpack could be decreased by 90%, which would have a significant effect on California’s agricultural industry”

    [Response: And suddenly you would stop being a sceptic? Give me a break. - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 11 Mar 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  397. Tom, remember — agriculture in California is an industry. The industry as a whole depends on many factors including cost and availability of water.

    Look again at the link I gave you– it’s saying the industry is severely threatened.

    You can grow lettuce.

    Can you grow it competitively in industrial quantities timed to market?

    These are two different issues. Don’t conflate them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Mar 2009 @ 12:40 PM

  398. #378 truth

    I’m not sure I understand your first question about agreeing on dissenting views, everyone knows there are dissenting views and always will be on pretty much any subject under the sun.

    Having a dissenting view about anything does not change reality, or history. Views are merely perceptions. science is more about measuring and modeling, quantifying and qualifying. You mention a lot of important factors and these factors are all a part of the picture.

    Rather than tread ground that has been gone over on each point, I will try to give you some context. First, the data is not perfect and never will be. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be perfect to give us a good idea. The trends are clear, we know that additional GHG’s trap more infrared radiation, so more heat is trapped in our atmosphere. We also know how much Co2 mankind has put in the air and also how much methane and nitrous oxide as well as fluorines (High GWP’s).

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/index.html
    http://www.epa.gov/highgwp/sources.html

    We know through modeling how much forcing to expect from all this.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/models-can-be-wrong.

    We know the oceans will warm and add more H20 to the system and that is a GHG also (positive feedback), we know tundra will likely release more methane (likely positive feedback), we recognize the possibility of methane hydrate clathrate release (potential positive feedback).

    We also know that the climate models are well matched to the forcing levels we are seeing. The data does not have to be perfect to show us the trends and the general confirmations of the models. You can’t nail down the data exactly, but you don’t need to. You simply need to know the trend is reasonably attributed and modeled and that everything matches up well.

    Lastly you need to see if there is any other possible cause for the forcing levels. Since the human cause matches the models and the measurements within a very satisfactory range, and there are no other ways to attribute this to natural cycle or other cause, then we can reasonably conclude that this global warming event is human caused.

    How do we know there are no alternative attributions? Well, we have measured the atmospheric composition, we know what’s there. There is no magic, invisible ‘x’ gas in the atmosphere. This is all quantifiable stuff.

    Therefore, we should rapidly address the expected ramifications, because we also know that there is a lot of inertia in this warming event and that CO2 is a long lived GHG.

    As to the integrity of ice cores and other questions people are debating. Try a thought experiment. Throw them all out and add up the forcings and attributions. You still have global warming and it’s still human caused.

    If you have an alternative explanation for this warming, that would be very valuable information. Please share it with us.

    In summary,

    1. We know the models match the general trends observed.
    2. We know the forcing of the natural cycle.
    3. The multiple paleo measurements all add up and paint a good picture of past climate.
    4. We have departed from the natural cycle to the tune of 3.8 W/m2 – 2/W/m2 – solar minimum = 1.6 W/m2
    5. There is no quantifiable or qualifiable alternative explanation that makes sense. We know the atmospheric composition, we know it’s content.

    So the answer to your questions about anthropogenic cause is in your question. You just need to filter the fluff and you will end up with substance.

    There is a big difference between saying the consensus view is wrong and proving the attribution is something else.

    Remember, all you need to do is reasonably, scientifically prove the attribution is something else. Simple, right?

    Having dissenting views is meaningless in the context of your apparent arguments. If you believe pink elephants fly better that purple elephants, but your best friend believes purple elephants fly better, no amount of dissension will help you resolve the conundrum between you and your friend, from a scientific point of view. Such arguments would may be more relevant if the argument was religious or philosophical, but AGW is not about religion or philosophy, it’s about science.

    In other words, it’s not about beliefs. There are no pink or purple elephants, and elephants don’t fly.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Mar 2009 @ 12:54 PM

  399. 393.

    Well, I see you at least agree that Chu’s statement is not supported by science.

    What would would make less of skeptic is realy very simple.
    A consistent flow of accurate information that clearly supports the theory of significant man-made AGW. Hasn’t happened.
    I don’t have any emotional attachement to the issue, one way or another. Put another way, I haven’t staked my professional reputation in support of any theory or course of political action.

    Therefore, I am much more likely to evaluate the information objectively.

    [Response: Really? I can only assume that last line is missing its sarcasm tags. Your comments here are the most predictible of almost anyone - and not for their objectivity. You seem to be expecting people to speak individually as if they were an NRC report. If you want very carefully crafted language that is bullet proof, then you only need look at the IPCC or NRC or CCSP reports directly. I haven't seen you praising them. Instead you take relatively casual language from a newspaper interview and assume that this is what drives policy. It doesn't. - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 11 Mar 2009 @ 1:17 PM

  400. tom wrote: “A consistent flow of accurate information that clearly supports the theory of significant man-made AGW. Hasn’t happened.”

    That is simply and plainly false, no matter how many times you repeat it. We’ve had “a consistent flow of accurate information that clearly supports the theory of significant man-made AGW” for decades, and all of that information is readily available to anyone, including you. Meanwhile there has been NO “accurate information” that falsifies that theory.

    You can go on posting that falsehood as long as you like. Eventually, people’s annoyance will turn to boredom, they will stop responding to you, and you will go elsewhere to annoy other people with the same falsehood.

    By the way, “man-made AGW” is redundant.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Mar 2009 @ 1:47 PM

  401. tom wrote in 396:

    391 is a great example. Who ever said there was going to be NO snowpack and NO precipitation. Patent nonsense.

    Sure, according to their calculations there is supposed to be some snowpack left (between 27% and 10%) by the end of the century, but riverbeds will tend to dry up more quickly. For example, we know that the rate of evaporation roughly doubles for every 10°C. Projections are that the temperatures will be up to 8°C above that.

    What about the growing season? And if the rate of evaporation nearly doubles, how quickly will the riverbeds dry up? Rain during the summer? In many places we are talking about more precipitation during the winter (which won’t do much good if it evaporates before growing season), but decreases during the spring and summer. California’s precipitation is expected to decrease somewhat during the winter.

    Globally, average precipitation over land is expected to decrease somewhat, but extreme precipitation events are expected to increase and be more severe, and likewise droughts are expected to be more severe — such that the mild decrease is the result of an averaging of extremes. Droughts will be more severe for the Southwest and California. How well do you you think farmers will do year after year under these conditions?

    How much water will get close enough that irrigation becomes an economically viable option? How well will plants do with increased evaporation of what water they take in? What about increased demand for water by the cities? Given enough resources you can grow your veggies underground, but that doesn’t make it economically viable to do so.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Mar 2009 @ 1:51 PM

  402. The real problem with Chu’s statement about the end of California’s agriculture is that it was an understatement. California agriculture depends on an irrigation infrastructure that was designed and built based on assumptions of a wetter, cooler, and more stable climate than we have had for the last few years.

    Farming is a capital intensive enterprise. In years with bad weather, farmers may lose money and deplete their capital, leading to a failure of the farm enterprise. Until recently, one thing that California farmers could depend on was irrigation water. Now, there are competing demands for that water. Any water that the farmers do not use goes to cities, industry, and wild life. Thus, there is less carryover from the occasional wet year, and it is more difficult to “bank” water from a wet year for a dry year. This would be an issue even in the absence of global warming. In the presence of AGW, the issue of non-agricultural water rights becomes a crisis for farmers.

    Any year that is dryer or warmer then was estimated in the 1957 Water Bulletin, means there is not enough water. Temperatures warmer than anticipated in 1957 result in much larger evapo-transpiration rates meaning that farmers need much larger amounts of irrigation water to keep their crops alive. AGW leads us to expect temperatures greater than anticipated in 1957.

    California is currently in a drought emergency. Unless our climate rapidly reverts to something that is as cool and wet as that climate summarized in the 1957 Water Bulletin, our farmers are not going to have enough irrigation water. The drought emergency is currently having an impact as farmers plant (or do not plant) their fields. (Farmers are not going to spend money for seed and fuel to plant if they do not expect to have irrigation water.) That is; lettuce that would have gone to the East Coast, did not get planted. Successive crops are not going to get planted unless we have a lot of precipitation in the next couple of weeks, and the current forecast is for dry. California farmers are losing money. Such losses will require large infusions of capital to maintain the farming industry.

    Unless there is a dramatic and rapid change in the climate trend in California, then we are already starting to see the decline of California Agriculture. Since effects of temperature on evapo-transpiration are very non-linear, the decline could be rapid, or even abrupt.

    Consider the current price of hay in California. (That is very hard on California’s dairy industry that has other problems.) Look at the vegetable processing plants that have closed. Avocado trees have been topped to reduce their need for water – but that is something that can only be done on an exceptional basis, and most growers did it last year. Rice and cotton plantings are down for this year. The bright spots are almonds, grapes, and olives. Over all, hardly the picture of a robust, diversified agricultural industry demonstrating resilience in the face of climate change.

    Moreover, the physical security of the source water for California’s water system is sensitive to sea level, and projections of changes in sea level have just been revised upward. Chu is hardly an alarmist; he is barely a realist.

    There are solutions, but they are capital intensive, and the window to implement them is closing.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 11 Mar 2009 @ 1:58 PM

  403. tom wrote in 399:

    I don’t have any emotional attachement to the issue, one way or another.

    Given the way you argue I strongly doubt that this is true, and I suspect the cause is ideological rather than financial. Given the level of emotion.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:09 PM

  404. CORRECTION

    At the end of the first paragraph of 401:

    … above that.

    Should have been “… nearly that.”

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:21 PM

  405. I understand your POV here. Looking back, I can find no post of mine which implied I would share those opinions.

    I don’t.

    Burgy, just to be clear, my comments have been in regard to your denialist friend, not yourself.

    Perhaps he’ll prove to exceed expectations, i.e. after you post his arguments and they’re shown to be flawed, he’ll accept the work of those who work on this stuff full-time, rather in their spare time.

    If so, I’ll apologize. If not, well, I won’t.

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:25 PM

  406. Yawn.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:36 PM

  407. Some “weather” news that may be relevant to the discussion of Califonria agriculture:

    Record dry start to 2009 worries farmers, firefighters
    By Oren Dorell
    USA TODAY
    03/11/2009

    Excerpts:

    The first two months of 2009 are the driest start of any year since the USA began keeping records over a century ago, leading to severe drought in Texas, dipping reservoir levels in Florida and a surge in wildfires across the nation.

    Farmers, cattlemen, firefighters and others worry that the dry start may be a harbinger of a bleak summer that could lead to increasing risk of fire and poor crop conditions [...]

    Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, said the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895 [...]

    The dry spell extends a drought that has hammered Central Texas since 2007 and California and the Southeast since 2006 [...]

    In California, NOAA reports the snowpack is at 80% of normal and much of the state is under severe drought [...]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  408. Are you planning a detailed comment on this?

    Scafetta N., R. C. Willson (2009), ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L05701, doi:10.1029/2008GL036307.

    I know you have dealt with previous Scafetta papers before but this is new. It appears to challenge the oft-stated belief that solar irradiance has remained unchanged in the last few decades.

    A quote from it appearing on Pielke’s site says this:

    “This finding has evident repercussions for climate change and solar physics. Increasing TSI between 1980 and 2000 could have contributed significantly to global warming during the last three decades [Scafetta and West, 2007, 2008]. Current climate models [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007] have assumed that the TSI did not vary significantly during the last 30 years and have therefore underestimated the solar contribution and overestimated the anthropogenic contribution to global warming.”

    Comment by Jim Cross — 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:45 PM

  409. Jim Cross wrote in 408:

    Are you planning a detailed comment on this?

    Scafetta N., R. C. Willson (2009), ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L05701, doi:10.1029/2008GL036307.

    If any readers with the appropriate technical background would like a crack at it:

    http://www.leif.org/research/2008GL036307-pip.pdf

    WARNING: The tab in a tabbed browser may show a smiley face if you load it in your browser rather than download it to your machine.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Mar 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  410. #408 Jim Cross

    On the AGU link in the abstract:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008GL036307.shtml

    Both ‘mixed’ composites demonstrate a significant TSI increase of 0.033 %/decade between the solar activity minima of 1986 and 1996, comparable to the 0.037 % found in the ACRIM composite.

    So even if true, how statistically insignificant is the difference? This may end up like the hockey stick argument where there is a difference, but it is statistically insignificant.

    With a total forcing of 3.8 W/m2 – albedo (-2) and solar (-.2 or -.3), we are still left with significant warming. What is the actual difference in W/m2 between 0.033% and 0.037% when placed in context? 0.04 W/m2? How does it translate?

    Maybe someone here can correct me?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Mar 2009 @ 3:16 PM

  411. “California is currently in a drought emergency. Unless our climate rapidly reverts to something that is as cool and wet as that climate summarized in the 1957 Water Bulletin”.

    I don’t think that’s possible , do you?

    Comment by tom — 11 Mar 2009 @ 3:17 PM

  412. Dr. Burgeson, I just want to apologized for the knee-jerk hostility of some here, especially the gratuitous anti-Christian comments of T.L.E. I find that if some posters find out you’re a Christian, it will inevitably turn up as a negative remark when they disagree with you. Have to expect it. Meanwhile, there are people here who try to be civil, and I hope you won’t allow yourself to be run off by the others.

    Grace and peace to you through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jim

    Scafetta has been saying this kind of thing for a long time, but no one but his co-authors seem to agree with him. I’ve seen, I think, about seven different TSI reconstructions, and none of them show as much variation as Scafetta et al. seem to want. Of course, they might turn out to be right. No TSI reconstruction is rock-solid yet. But I wouldn’t hold my breath that Scafetta et al. will turn out to have the right one.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Mar 2009 @ 3:30 PM

  413. Scafetta and Wilson:

    > a significant TSI increase of 0.033 %/decade between
    > the solar activity minima of 1986 and 1996

    That’s ten years. What’s Pielke …. oh, ne’er mind: Pielke omits the words “If there were” before “Increasing” when stating as a hypothetical that if it were more than the 10 years then it “could have ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Mar 2009 @ 4:05 PM

  414. Gavin (354), if you are referring to the moderators of RC in defending against “truth’s” accusation, you are correct. If you include all of the posters here as a group, you are not correct.

    [Response: I speak only for myself and occassionally RC as a whole - other commenters have to look out for themselves. -Gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Mar 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  415. dhogaza (394), Geeezzz!

    Oh, never mind…..

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Mar 2009 @ 5:10 PM

  416. #412 Hank

    In the interest of clarity, the quote is from the Scafetta article itself not Pielke. I just saw it on Pielke’s site.

    #410

    I think Scafetta’s argument is that the same feedback mechanisms that augment CO2 also apply to solar irradiation. So a small increase could have a much larger than might be expected impact.

    [Response: No. Scaffeta is arguing for a hypersensitivity to solar- based only on single factor statistical fits. - Gavin]

    Comment by Jim Cross — 11 Mar 2009 @ 5:30 PM

  417. John P. Reisman:
    .
    A 0.033% increase in TSI equates to an increase in solar forcing of approximately 0.08 W/m^2. You can calculate this by taking the solar forcing constant of 1366 W/m^2, multiplying by (0.7/4) to account for spherical geometry and reflected sunlight, and then multiplying by the fractional change (in this case, 0.00033).
    .
    The bigger claim in the paper, though, is that Lean’s proxy reconstruction is wrong.
    .
    I do not know enough about the subject to comment one way or the other.

    Comment by Ryan O — 11 Mar 2009 @ 7:56 PM

  418. I won’t comment on whether PMOD or ACRIM is preferred, but I will say that it doesn’t make a meaningful difference in terms of the relative solar impact on the late 20th century warming trend. Scafetta has a recent string of very odd papers on solar influence, and I just don’t understand what point he’s trying to make with them.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 11 Mar 2009 @ 9:00 PM

  419. Thanks for the correction, Jim.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Mar 2009 @ 9:39 PM

  420. Jim Cross #416,
    No, that most explicitly is NOT what S & Wilson (given his selection of collaborators, one wonder’s about Scafetta’s seeming obsession with the letter ‘W’). The same feedbacks already apply to all forcings, whether CO2, solar, whatever. Most of the feedbacks depend on temperature and for all of them, a watt is a watt is a watt.
    Scafetta is arguing for a magical forcing that can tell if a photon comes from Mr. Sun or not.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Mar 2009 @ 7:54 AM

  421. Barton (#379): “RichardC, just for you, I just regressed NASA GISS global land-surface temperature anomalies on ln CO2, DVI, and TSI for 1900-1950 (N = 51). Ln CO2 was significant and TSI was not. So your oft-repeated claim that insolation changes represent 10-35% of the variance of temperature changes in this period does not stand up to statistical analysis.”

    I am not sure that straightforward regression is really a robust method of attribution. I mean, it works well if you are regressing outputs of a Monte Carlo simulation with various input choices, but not necessarily if you are examining time trend data.

    A similar issue gets all those contrarians into trouble when they show that CO2 concentration is correlated much better with ocean temperature than with anthropogenic emissions – what they are getting is that the _variability_ in CO2 concentration is almost entirely due to natural factors, plus, of course, that ocean temperatures trend in the same direction as CO2 changes because AGW works, but they miss the fairly incontrovertible fact that by simple mass balance analysis human emissions _have_ to be responsible for the vast majority of the increase since preindustrial.

    So I would posit that showing correlation between two variables is a reason to go look further into the mechanisms, but correlation, or lack thereof, is not a good proof of attribution (or lack thereof). Now, if you can show that TSI and temperature go in different directions, then _that_ would be good evidence that TSI hasn’t contributed much. Or if you can build a good climate model and show that taking TSI changes out doesn’t change your trend – that’s evidence. But simple regressions, not so much (in my opinion, anyway).

    Comment by Marcus — 12 Mar 2009 @ 8:30 AM

  422. Further to Marcus in #421, it looks like we are all agreed that if there is something going on with the sun and temperatures, it’s not much compared to the change observed.

    RichardC has said that himself. BPL seems to have excised that out of his recall, and Richard may recant in future or change his meaning. But as of this moment, solar change isn’t a major factor in GW.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Mar 2009 @ 9:01 AM

  423. 399:

    Gavin, you seem to be trivializing Chu’s misstatement, on the grounds that, while supported by scince, it is somewhat in line with a ‘ general thesis’ that warming could have serious negative impacts on Californian agriculture.

    I think we call that ‘ the ends justify the means’. Not a good strategy for the Sec. of Energy.

    Meanwhile, George Will is castigated on this thread for a statement that is much more accurate than Chu’s. If you move the date a single year, to 1980, then George Will’s statement about sea is accurate.
    And George Will is not a government official, responsible for public policy

    Will is being held to a much higher standard than Chu, though the opposite should be occuring.

    [Response: This conversation has I think run its course, but you are still completely incorrect. On one hand we have (Will) statements that are not only untrue, but also misleading in their overall message. On the other, we have someone (Chu) who actually seems to be aware of the literature and thinks that the impacts would be extremely serious and is clearly correct in his overall message. There is no 'end' here, there are just two individuals - one who is dishonestly twisting out-of-context quotes and another who is honestly calling it as he sees it. If you think that is somehow equivalent, you are further gone than I thought. If you want reams of apocalyptic nonsense based on nothing but a desire to scare people, tune in to the Heartland conference every time someone describes what the impact of any action to combat emissions will do. Condemn that with the same vehemence you've attacked Chu, and you might win a few points for consistency. - gavin]

    Comment by tom — 12 Mar 2009 @ 9:32 AM

  424. Today I did a little exercise on Snow Off during the Jun/Jul/Aug 2008 period which had a mean of 6 million km square less compared to what was normal in 1966 when Rutgers started recording. The albedo effect and the energy uptake from that alone is more than the difference of solar flux impact on a global scale, depending on the differential which is fair to assume by snow (>90%? reflection) over land (40%?). Any takers to properly equate the net energetic effect of this?

    Comment by Sekerob — 12 Mar 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  425. #417 Ryan O

    Thank you.

    This is an area where I have little knowledge.

    Where did you find the paper, is it public? I only read the abstract.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Mar 2009 @ 12:36 PM

  426. re 411

    No. We will have to farm with less water than traditionally allocated.

    While places like Israel have built agricultural systems with low flow irrigation, results from such efforts in California have not been sustainable. Selenium in the Kesterton Wildlife Refuge is an example, but I am not finding good summaries of it online. (Farmers tried to recycle irrigation runoff and made a mess. The problem took years to appear, and years to fix.)

    Water rights are part of the capital of a California farmer. Take those rights away, and you decrease the profitability and stability of the industry. Do you really want to destabilize the industry that produces your food? On the other hand, home owners on strict water rationing drive by irrigated fields, see “wasted” water, and write their congressmen. Even I have felt a surge of anger when I saw pools of water in lettuce fields. (Most of the energy cost of lettuce is the cost of irrigation. They use more fuel to pump water to the lettuce, than to truck the lettuce across country.)

    Whiskey is for drinking; Water is for fighting over.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 12 Mar 2009 @ 1:02 PM

  427. John #425: Timothy Chase in #409 linked to a pre-print of the article.

    Comment by Ryan O — 12 Mar 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  428. Tom, Your argument would seem to indicate that you would rather have a broken watch than one that runs 3 minutes fast because for former is right twice a day. It is quite possible that CA agriculture will be wiped out by climate change. That is well within the range of physical consequences.
    Will’s statement, on the other hand is at best misguided and at worst deliberately misleading, as it represents cherry picking to hide the trend.

    Do you seriously contend that climate change is not a threat to CA agriculture?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Mar 2009 @ 2:03 PM

  429. #427 Ryan O

    Thanks again, I’m a little buried this week, so I’m not paying as much attention as I would like. Either that, or my peripheral vision compensation is not functioning ;)

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Mar 2009 @ 3:00 PM

  430. On the Chu article, I don’t think it was hyperbole. If you read the interview in the LA Times, he clearly indicated that when they have droughts in California now, they ration water. He then goes on to imply that in the scenario where the snowpacks shrink by 70% to 90% that the remaining water would be used in the cities instead of for irrigation. That would essentially end most agricultural production in California, which relies on irrigation for the most part.

    In addition, the coastal cities get the vast majority of their water from dams and reservoirs in the mountains, fed by the glaciers in the Sierras. Without that water, those cities would have to shrink in size dramatically.

    Here’s the relevant part of the interview:

    “In the pessimistic scenario, the snow pack will decrease by 70 to 90 percent. Well, let me tell you what California does when there’s a two-year in a row 20 percent decrease in snow pack: They water-ration.

    Q: So you’re looking at a scenario of permanent water rationing?

    CHU: No, you’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California. When you lose 70 percent of your water in the mountains, I don’t see how agriculture can continue. California produces 20 percent of the agriculture in the United States. I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going.”

    Full interview here: http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2009/02/chu_economic_disaster_from_war.html

    Comment by Ken Feldman — 12 Mar 2009 @ 3:15 PM

  431. My problem with Secretary Chu is this: given his well-founded concern about the impact of AGW on water supply and agriculture, how can he possibly justify his support for building more coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and sequestration technology (which of course does not exist and is unlikely to exist for decades, if ever), which he clearly stated during his Senate confirmation hearing: “We will be building some coal plants, and one doesn’t have a hard moratorium on something like that while we search for a way to capture carbon safely.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Mar 2009 @ 3:45 PM

  432. Thinking that isn’t joined up? Coming from a Politician? Unpossible!!!

    Comment by Mark — 12 Mar 2009 @ 5:40 PM

  433. #131 Ryan O

    Our discussion illustrates a problem in the debate that I have noticed in others. You seem to be comfortable making statements that are vague, contradictory, incorrect, without context, or even hypocritical and then saying well, if your going to do a critical deconstruction of what I am saying, then I don’t want to engage.

    So it’s okay for you to make statements and deconstruct what I said, but it’s not okay the other way around. If you don’t like your words being deconstructed, don’t write them in a blog well known for debate and discussion, and don’t ascribe motives to others, while stating that it irritates you when people do that.

    The fact is you mistranslated my words.

    Your direct and vague statements do not make sense as applied (imo), which I believe I clearly pointed out. Now you have no further interest in discussion.

    If you will not admit your own mistakes, or your clearly illustrated hypocrisy, then there is no good reason for further discussion.

    I will not ascribe a motive to your stance, but I will say that it seems you prefer things to be left in the air, generally speaking, rather than resolved, based on what I have read in your statements; just as you remain “skeptical of the IPCC’s predictions”, “the accuracy of model impacts”, “the accuracy of the temperature record” without giving relevant context of why, and on what basis.

    Proper context will get you relevance, I’m sure your understanding will increase in time, as will mine.

    Best,
    John

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Mar 2009 @ 8:37 PM

  434. New from The Nicene Council:

    Global Warming: A Scientific & Biblical Expose’ (DVD)
    Retail $19.99 – OUR PRICE $14.95

    What is the truth about global warming? Are the ice caps melting? Will polar bears and penguins soon be found starving on small floating icebergs? Does the future survival of man hinge on an immediate reduction in carbon emissions?

    This bold new documentary is an exciting and important tool for all who face the rampant misinformation propagated by ecological alarmists. Global Warming addresses subjects that most others won’t touch, including misinformation which is contained in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

    Global warming is real, but it is not primarily man-made. This biblically-based and thoroughly balanced view of climate change reveals that global warming is not a black & white issue. Viewers will see why well-meaning Christians need to be extremely careful when advocating environmental policies. The message of this richly illustrated DVD is urgently needed in America, and the world…
    http://tiny.cc/IpIqy

    Have to give them some credit – at least they acknowledge that global warming is real.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 12 Mar 2009 @ 10:24 PM

  435. Secular Animist [ 431]:
    You obviously want an end to coal-fired power now—forthwith—-so you must be very certain that the warming is due to burning of fossil fuels and nothing else—and you must either be certain that renewables are ready right now to step into the breach and provide base load power—or you want to just continue with the old coal-fired power stations, and maintain them until CCS technology is in fact ready, meanwhile developing renewables—-or you must want coal-fired power replaced now by nuclear power, to provide the base load power while developing renewables.
    I can’t think what else might be your expectation, unless it’s that conservation alone on an individual basis will do it—but nothing we’ve seen or heard so far gives any confidence in that.
    Industries will probably stagnate, if maintenance only and no new power stations were to be mandated, as new coal-fired power stations were planned for many countries including the US—and even Germany, the supposed world leader in emission reduction had 12 new coal-fired power stations planned—and they must have planned because they were needed.
    If you ration energy, surely it must have a negative effect on development—or even on maintenance of the status quo.
    If it’s nuclear power you would like to see fill the breach, then there’s a big lag time there as well, is there not—especially if they were to be the new generation fast reactors or thorium reactors—and I suspect many countries would opt for older style reactors anyway, with their attendant hazards for all of us.
    Which renewables could take up the slack after closure of coal-fired power stations in the next few years without the nuclear option as the base load power provider—and not in the process bring industry to its knees, and standards of living crashing down?

    Comment by truth — 13 Mar 2009 @ 12:23 AM

  436. Chuck,

    As someone who started looking into Christianity at the suggestion of his girlfriend in the early 1980s, was converted in 1984, and who is now an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, I would like to point out that I have never even heard of “The Nicene Council.” I assume this is not the same body that put out the Nicene Creed in the 4th century…

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Mar 2009 @ 3:10 AM

  437. Chuck #434:

    A “biblically-based and thoroughly balanced view….”? You’re also going to have to give them credit for inventing a brand new oxymoron.

    “[W]ell-meaning Christians need to be extremely careful when advocating environmental policies”

    I infer that well-meaning Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Rastafarians (or Pastafarians, for that matter) have no such need.

    [captcha: "Waterford violin". Quite rare, I believe.]

    Comment by Chris Dunford — 13 Mar 2009 @ 7:13 AM

  438. addendum to BPL in #436.

    It’s another case of “God Wouldn’t Do That”. Didn’t they read Genesis? The whole garden-of-eden thing?

    If God *is* fiddling about with things, why is this not another test to see if we’re worthy of this world? If we muff this up, there’ll be something else along in a million years that may be smarter and more worthy.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Mar 2009 @ 7:30 AM

  439. The negatively named truth opines:

    “Industries will probably stagnate, if maintenance only and no new power stations were to be mandated,”

    Nope. A BIG (and I mean HUGE) change in the Rhondda Valley Steelworks was to move the smelting and rolling and shaping plants close together and cover the move between them. This meant that they didn’t use energy to re-heat the steel between processes.

    Power requirements DROPPED drastically.

    Or is efficiency only for the workforce not the company?

    Comment by Mark — 13 Mar 2009 @ 7:34 AM

  440. The ironically named “truth” says “…unless it’s that conservation alone on an individual basis will do it—but nothing we’ve seen or heard so far gives any confidence in that.”

    Wrong! First, we can certainly consume less. How much less was illustrated last year when avalanches cut off Juneau, AK from its normal cheap hydroelectric power. Suddenly, electricity became quite expensive, and the population responded by reducing consumption by 30-40%–on a dime, no preparation, no mitigation. Was it a hardship, certainly. However, it illustrates what can be accomplished during a crisis, and THIS IS A CRISIS. This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue unless conservatives choose to ignore physical reality and make it one.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Mar 2009 @ 8:05 AM

  441. Re [414] Response to RodB:
    Gavin, what you allow to be posted and what you edit out speaks for you too—not just your direct remarks.
    Allowing some who are passionate AGW proponents to make statements of absolute certainty, along with their venom and vitriol and smearing of dissenters, without comment from you or other moderators, while on the other hand censoring out from dissenters’ posts the mildest of remarks [ or often censoring out their posts [made in reply to their critics]in their entirety]—is a tacit endorsement by the moderators of the certainty expressed by the AGW commenters.
    Eg: a commenter on one of your other topics said, ‘Scientists who fail to communicate the alarming reality of Anthropogenic Global Warming are doing the public a great disservice’, implying that it’s the duty of all scientists to go forth and preach and promote the certainty.
    There was no reply or comment from the moderators.
    And , even more directly, in one of your other posts, Mike made it clear in his reply to a commenter.
    The commenter was describing a previous Lou Dobbs show, saying that Dobbs said ‘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.’
    The commenter said he believed some scientists from RC were there, and said, ‘No sceptics or deniers were included.’, and expressed a hope for a return to that happy and much more acceptable state by Dobbs.
    Mike replied ‘Yes, this was myself, Gavin and Alan Robock’—and agreed that it was a shame that Dobbs had changed.
    That would seem to me to be an expression of the moderators’ expectations that the media should stifle the debate for them—nip it in the bud, as Dobbs did on that occasion—a situation that prevails in Australia, as journalists almost never interview any person who can’t be relied upon to express certainty on AGW——it just doesn’t happen.

    [Response: This is really getting tiresome. 'Debate' is not just contradiction. There are plenty of interesting things to discuss and very varied points of view among the mainstream without having some idiot come on and assert that the world is flat. The people who aren't worth including in any discussion are the people who can't go a single sentence without throwing in some tired old cliche about the Vikings or how water vapor is really the most important greenhouse gas or that they grew wine in medieval England don't you know... This isn't debate, this is noise. And I have no problem with saying that this discussion needs less noise, not more. You appear to be persuaded otherwise, and indeed your actions demonstrate a commitment to that. Find a serious 'contrarian' - one that doesn't lace their statements with nonsense, and you'll find someone perhaps worth interviewing. But these are pretty thin on the ground - if they exist at all. - gavin]

    Comment by truth — 13 Mar 2009 @ 9:02 AM

  442. truth wrote: “You obviously want an end to coal-fired power now—forthwith”

    I want two specific government policies in the USA: first, an immediate permanent ban on the construction of any new coal-fired power plants, and on the opening of any new coal mines; second, a firm date in no more than ten years by which time all coal-fired power plants will be permanently shut down and all coal mines permanently closed.

    truth wrote: “so you must be very certain that the warming is due to burning of fossil fuels and nothing else”

    I am 100 percent certain that other human activities, including deforestation and animal agriculture, are also contributing significantly to the ongoing, rapid anthropogenic increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and methane, which is causing the observed rapid and extreme warming of the Earth system. I am 100 percent certain that emissions from fossil fuels is by far the largest contributor to AGW. It is not logically necessary that fossil fuel emissions be the ONLY cause, to recognize that they are the MAJOR cause and therefore must be phased out as quickly as possible. We also need to address our other behaviors that contribute to AGW — in addition to phasing out fossil fuels, not instead of phasing out fossil fuels.

    truth wrote: “and you must either be certain that renewables are ready right now to step into the breach and provide base load power”

    They are. Multiple studies have demonstrated that a diversified regional portfolio of renewable energy generation can provide 24×7 baseload power that is at least as reliable as coal-fired electricity generation. Meanwhile, solar and wind are the fastest growing sources of new energy in the world, growing at double-digit, record-breaking rates every year. Wind power is already economically competitive with coal and natural gas (and much cheaper than nuclear) and will soon account for the majority of newly-installed electricity generation in the USA. The USA has vast, commercially-exploitable wind and solar energy resources that are sufficient to provide several times as much electricity as the entire country uses, with today’s mainstream technology that is already being widely deployed.

    truth wrote: “or you want to just continue with the old coal-fired power stations, and maintain them until CCS technology is in fact ready”

    As explained above I want to shut down all coal-fired power plants as soon as possible, in no more than ten years and preferably less. CCS technology will not be “ready” for decades if ever — and by the time CCS can be “ready” it will be unneeded because we will have more electricity from wind and solar than we need, at far lower cost than coal with CCS.

    truth wrote: “or you must want coal-fired power replaced now by nuclear power, to provide the base load power while developing renewables.”

    I am opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power plants. I also favor shutting down the existing nuclear power plants, although I don’t think that is as urgent as shutting down the coal-fired power plants.

    Renewables are ready, and can be deployed on a large scale, very quickly, at reasonably low cost, right now. That is not true of nuclear. So it would be more a matter of using renewables while developing nuclear. However, there is no need to develop nuclear power, and no need to deal with its enormous cost and its very real, very grave risks and toxic pollution. We can get more electricity than we need by harvesting clean, ubiquitous, endless, FREE wind and solar energy.

    Renewable energy — wind, solar, hydro, geothermal & biomass — and efficiency technologies represent the New Industrial Revolution of the 21st century. They are a huge economic opportunity, and the foundation of a new economy based on harvesting abundant clean energy rather than mining and burning scarce, toxic, costly fuels. Fossil fuels and nuclear are dead-end technologies whose continued use will lead to both environmental and economic disaster.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Mar 2009 @ 10:19 AM

  443. Re #436
    Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    13 March 2009 at 3:1 AM
    Chuck,

    As someone who started looking into Christianity at the suggestion of his girlfriend in the early 1980s, was converted in 1984, and who is now an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, I would like to point out that I have never even heard of “The Nicene Council.” I assume this is not the same body that put out the Nicene Creed in the 4th century…

    Actually it is, and more.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

    [Response: OK enough. This is all OT. - gavin]

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 13 Mar 2009 @ 10:26 AM

  444. There are nutjobs of all religious and political persuasions, but as it is rather unlikely that their position on climate is science based, it doesn’t have much releevance to this site. The nutjobs will not be persuaded by science or evidence, but if we are to keep to our strengths, it is all we can offer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Mar 2009 @ 10:44 AM

  445. > “nothing we’ve seen or heard so far” — “truth”
    There’s your problem. Start looking and listening. That will help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Mar 2009 @ 10:46 AM

  446. Ray Ladbury wrote: “First, we can certainly consume less. How much less was illustrated last year when avalanches cut off Juneau, AK from its normal cheap hydroelectric power. Suddenly, electricity became quite expensive, and the population responded by reducing consumption by 30-40%–on a dime, no preparation, no mitigation. Was it a hardship, certainly. However, it illustrates what can be accomplished during a crisis”

    Here’s another encouraging example, that didn’t even require a “crisis”. Unfortunately I don’t have the specifics on this, but here’s the story as I heard it reported on NPR a while back. A municipal utility in Canada decided to experiment with a new way of billing for electricity. Customers were given the choice of purchasing electricity in the normal way, i.e. receiving a bill for their prior month’s usage, or pre-paying for a given amount of electricity. The second option worked something like buying a prepaid telephone calling card. The consumers bought a “block” of electricity in advance, and had special meters installed which showed them how much of the prepaid electricity they had used and how much they had left. When they ran low, they would prepay for another “block” of electricity. The result was that the consumers who chose the prepayment method drastically reduced their electricity consumption. All it took was a change in the payment method, and the ability to see how much electricity they had left, and they voluntarily and spontaneously took the necessary steps to conserve — to make that electricity last as long as possible before they had to buy more.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:32 AM

  447. Mark (439)

    When assessing whether to take on of two paths it does no good to base your decision on a few benefits one path gives you. You learn early on in life to list the goods and the bads of both choices and disregard hype. I’m assuming I’m telling you something you already know, which makes me wonder why you champion a few emission reduction success stories in this argument. Surely you are aware of the horror stories as well?

    Comment by Michael — 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:35 AM

  448. There are nutjobs of all religious and political persuasions

    I take a stronger stance – when compared to science, all religions and politics are nutty. I accept no exceptions.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:48 AM

  449. #435 truth

    You have raised important issues but the key to understanding best action is to understand the cost/benefit ratios.

    The problem is that every needed solution has cost. One needs to understand the exponentially increasing cost of economic strain from over-consumption in multiple areas. One also needs to understand the exponential problem of accelerating warming that will cause land use viability problems with crop production and human migration… as well as a myriad of other problems.

    The way forward will have many challenges. Mot all industries will fair well and some will diminish. But that is the way of markets based on need throughout history. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    If we do nothing to save short term economy we sacrifice the economy in the future. If we tighten our belts and be responsible and accept responsibility for the future, we may harm some current industries but have a future economy that is viable.

    To do nothing is to sacrifice the future in a disastrous manner by all reasonable accounts.

    The real question is, will mankind be wise enough to make the sacrifices needed to increase economic survivability in the future?

    It is certainly reasonable to promote a better future rather than a more disastrous future. To say we don’t want economic inconvenience now, but accept economic disaster in the future is not only unreasonable, it is untenable. Said another way, it would be insane.

    So we should quickly initiate reduction and work quickly on new energy development in order to enable greater economic sustainability and survivability as able. So while painful for some industries, reduction certainly seems the best bridge between now and then.

    Priorities for an achievable, more stable future:

    1. Stop burning coal as rapidly as possible
    2. Reduce energy use so that stopping the coal burn will not be as painful.
    3. Rapidly develop new energy economy

    If we reduce our energy use, less coal will be burned. It is critical to reduce and stop burning coal as fast as possible.

    To give this the context of time. The future of which i speak is now. The problems mentioned are creeping upon us with associated greater cost. With or without attribution to climate this years expected loss of 850,000 growing acres in California will have an affect on food prices across the country and may resonate beyond our borders. This will be a measurable impact.

    It is critical to understand one key point. Exponential increase. These effects will trend upward in cost and impact in an accelerating fashion. Global warming has inertia and positive feedbacks that if we go by the paleo record will not have sufficient negative feedbacks to counter the positive. We need to act quickly if we are to ensure a healthier or more viable future.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  450. #439 Mark

    I add this to my response to truth #435

    Excellent point!

    Not all reductions of power use are productive losses. If we can gear our mindset more in that direction, There will be positive benefits in some industrial areas.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2009 @ 12:44 PM

  451. #440 Ray Ladbury

    Another great point!

    I would add that I don’t think a personal consumption reduction of 30- to 40% is a hardship. One can do that just by turning off more lights, and planning car trips to maximize effectiveness while gaining in efficiency of effort (planning).

    One of the misnomers I have noticed is that those saying how terrible it will be to reduce energy use are terribly misguided by their own perceptions of the idea that reduction is disaster, when in reality it is likely an inconvenience at worst, in most cases. And in reality, can increase quality of life both short and long term, i.e actually a positive.

    We need to get this message across. We are in a crisis, but the answer will help us in the long run and there is no time to waste.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2009 @ 12:47 PM

  452. Something else that should be widely read, though I doubt Will would ever imagine it:

    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/2009/03/plumber-parable-diversifies.html

    It starts this way:

    Yesterday much ado was generated by Thomas Friedman; the NYT econ-astrology (trying that out, feonix; thanx…) columnist. Friedman has gotten lots of attention in the past year or so by advocating that we can, basically “grow” our way out of our economic maelstrom by investing in “green” technologies. He’s even written a book about it, the title of which is sometimes parodied as “Flat, Overheated, and Vacuous”. Some of his first toutings were in the NYT, and I responded to what was being called “muscular green” way back then, in some detail.

    Reception by environmental thinkers of his book, and his basic “green industrialization” concept, has not been all that great. Pretty clearly, he still was not “getting” the basic need for some limits here, somewhere. Like all neo-classical economists, buried in his essential assumptions is the one about “perpetual growth” (it’s “good”, and “necessary”, in order to make the models work.)

    Yesterday he printed a column that many folks greeted enthusiastically ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Mar 2009 @ 1:45 PM

  453. truth (435) — This has been posted before, but demonstarates the certainty.

    Barton Paul Levenson:
    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). See
    http://www.geo-cities.com/bpl1960/Correlation.html

    Be sure to follow the link to read the very high statistical significance of the result. TO do that, copy the URL and remove the dash in geo-cities since WordPress considers tha to be a spam site.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Mar 2009 @ 2:02 PM

  454. SteveF wrote:
    “Though he may not remember me, I know Burgy from an online fora a number of year ago and found him to be honest and respectful in his dealings. He is most definitely not a troll. Also, I suspect I know who his geophysicist friend is – would I be correct in thinking he has the initials GRM, Burgy!? This particular individual is an agressive (and very effective) opponent of creationism and is well known in such circles and has recently turned his attention to global warming.”

    Yes, it is me. I think this place is hopeless because as a commentor one can’t easily present evidence, making any critic be at a large disadvantage. I have posted a couple of things at http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    The March 11 post was the first on the blog about global warming

    Comment by Glenn Morton — 13 Mar 2009 @ 3:03 PM

  455. As expected, Glenn Morton’s trotting out the same old stuff regarding the ground temperature record.

    His education appears to have come solely from Anthony Watts.

    Disappointing, but predictable.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Mar 2009 @ 6:20 PM

  456. Glenn Morton wrote: “I have posted a couple of things at http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com …”

    Intrigued by the suggestions of other commenters here that you had disproved anthropogenic global warming in your spare time, despite having no background in climate science, I started to read your articles there. When I came to this, I stopped:

    Realclimate.org, a site for believers in Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). I don’t say scientists because scientists are skeptical even of what they believe. Those guys are not skeptical of anything concerning the party line on AGW. Sheeple is the term I use for this.

    So the climate scientists who maintain this site — who are, in fact, among the world’s leading climate scientists, and who have, in fact, devoted years of diligent study to the issue of climate change, and who have, in fact, done quite a lot of crucial, original research — are in your view, not really scientists, but “sheep” following a “party line”.

    I don’t think you need to go to the trouble of posting more such commentary here. There is plenty of such stuff already.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Mar 2009 @ 6:23 PM

  457. “Wind Shifts May Stir Carbon Dioxide From Antarctic Depths, Amplifying Global Warming”:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312140842.htm

    About a recent article in Science, but see the commentary toward the end of the linked piece; maybe not.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Mar 2009 @ 7:55 PM

  458. http://climatecongress.ku.dk/newsroom/congress_key_messages/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Mar 2009 @ 8:07 PM

  459. http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/feature/09/03/13/nq090313.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Mar 2009 @ 8:11 PM

  460. MIT’s model:
    http://globalchange.mit.edu/pubs/abstract.php?publication_id=990

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Mar 2009 @ 8:32 PM

  461. An example of Glenn Morton’s thinking:

    How did the climatologists at NOAA deal with these formerly too hot stations which were on cement and rooftops? They didn’t do what logic would seem to require. They didn’t lower the past erroneous temperatures. The ADDED degrees to the now properly sited stations!!!!! Yes, no MRI’s for Fido and no admission that the temperatures measured by stations sited on hot cement were too hot, even though that cement would burn your feet. The NOAA climatologists RAISED the temperature of the properly sited stations so that they would be hotter and match the old bad data!!!!!!!

    Uh, Glenn, we’re interested in *trends*, not absolute numbers, and when computing the trend it DOES NOT MATTER whether you raise the new temp values, or lower the old temp values, to account for any bias generated by moving the station. This is the same kind of elementary error Watts makes all the time (though he tends to use fewer “!” punctuation marks).

    If you’re going to be capable of overturning the work of a very large number of climate scientists in your spare time, I would think you would know this, among other things.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Mar 2009 @ 8:48 PM

  462. #435 Mr T ruth has mis-spoken once again… He (she???) raised not one good point! Sorry to disagree Mr Reissman. Switching to renewable energy will increase living standards everywhere, sunny Africa especially, even oil rich Dubai, aiming to be the best living place in the world, is doing renewables. So before making a dumb statement like renewable energy will impoverish the world! :
    “Which renewables could take up the slack after closure of coal-fired power stations in the next few years without the nuclear option as the base load power provider—and not in the process bring industry to its knees, and standards of living crashing down?”

    Reason a little??? Solar panels are made by people in Michigan , California amongst other places.
    Good admirable jobs. Wind generators can be erected locally anywhere in the world. Oil, Coal, Nuclear are finite resources having dubious side effects (although Glad that EXXON is advertising cracking oil for Hydrogen lately). If 1000 wind generators replace one coal fired power plant, the 1000 generators would be done by countless jobs … Does good jobs reduce living standards? Is anyone out there saying we have to shut any power plant without substitution immediately???

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Mar 2009 @ 10:59 PM

  463. Another interesting result on oceanic warming:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16740-global-warming-reaches-the-antarctic-abyss.html

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:38 PM

  464. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) Says (13 March 2009 at 12:47 PM):

    “I would add that I don’t think a personal consumption reduction of 30- to 40% is a hardship.”

    I’d argue that reductions of that level (from typical American use patterns) would be an unmitigated benefit. Driving less in smaller cars, biking or walking, home efficiency improvements, eating more fresh & locally grown foods… All things that keep money in your wallet, increase health, reduce the stress & time wasted in traffic. Hard to think of that sort of thing as hardship :-)

    Comment by James — 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:58 PM

  465. #435 truth

    As to being sure about the human cause and nothing else, you just need to understand a few simple things, the natural cycle, the fact that greenhouse gases keep earth from being a giant frozen ball in space, the measured increases in those gases since the beginning of the industrial age, the isotopic signature of Co2, the increase in forcing

    Just dig around here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/
    http://www.realclimate.org/wiki/index.php?title=RC_Wiki

    Good list of government sites/links:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/links

    Try reviewing these:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/greenhouse-gases
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/human-caused
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/forcing-levels

    We are already past “very certain”.

    ———-

    #462 wayne davidson

    No worries. Actually, I don’t think we are in disagreement. What I wrote to ‘truth’ was he/she had raised ‘important issues’, not ‘good points’. I merely meant that these issues were still important in the debate since so many people don’t have sufficient context on those issues yet.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Mar 2009 @ 1:51 AM

  466. Gavin:
    Re [441]:
    I’m sorry you find it so tiresome to have a question answered that you posed yourself…. and to have to suffer any mention or queries about the outcomes and practicalities of the outlawing of coal-fired power starting from now, that the AGW side wants ….. but it’s surely a vital part of the future for all of us, since the whole world is being forced to follow the AGW consensus mandate.
    Is it your contention that the ramifications of the end of coal are unimportant ?
    Are you suggesting the world must just accept the consensus view without any questioning—without discussing the fallout and unintended consequences?
    I have never mentioned Vikings…..nor wine in medieval England ….nor water vapour….so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Comment by truth — 14 Mar 2009 @ 2:21 AM

  467. TLE writes:

    I take a stronger stance – when compared to science, all religions and politics are nutty. I accept no exceptions.

    To declare that two major areas of human thought and experience are “nutty” to you says more about you than it says about them.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2009 @ 6:20 AM

  468. Glenn Morton makes the same mistake as surfacestations.org and all those who babble about urban heat islands and badly sited thermometers: namely, if you eliminate the land surface stations, you still have multiple lines of evidence showing global warming:

    1. Sea-surface temperature readings. Are there urban heat islands on the ocean?

    2. Borehole temperature records.

    3. Balloon radiosonde records.

    4. Satellite temperature estimates.

    5. Melting glaciers and ice caps.

    6. Rising sea levels.

    7. Poleward migration of birds, insects, animals, and even plants (a reseeding effect, obviously, rather than motion per se).

    8. Earlier blooming dates for flowers and flowering trees.

    9. Earlier hatching dates for eggs of fish, insects, frogs, and birds.

    10. Movement of tropical diseases into formerly temperate areas.

    But even on its own the Watts-type arguments fail. Compare rural and urban temperature stations and there’s no significant difference. Morton is explaining a problem that doesn’t exist — the “fallacy of subverted support.”

    I invite Mr. Morton to take a hundred “bad” stations and compare them to a hundred “good” stations, with properly randomized samples, and measure the difference in temperature trends. It’s a sure bet for me because several people have already done it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2009 @ 6:28 AM

  469. BPL and TLE, Why can’t we all just get along. Maybe a compromise position would be that politics and religion are areas that tend to make otherwise rational people act like nutjobs. And I think all of us agree letting politics or religion influence science is nutty.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2009 @ 7:36 AM

  470. BPL, Morton’s argument is even weaker than that, as he is relying for support on the thesis of Balling and Idsos that USHCN temperatures are cooked by systematic upward adjustments. This argument in turn relied on uncorrected MSU measurements, but it’s still much quoted in the denialosphere. I’d be interested in the take of Gavin et al. on the Idsos and Balling argument.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2009 @ 7:44 AM

  471. in 405, dhogaza Says:
    11 March 2009 at 2:25 PM

    Burgy, just to be clear, my comments have been in regard to your denialist friend, not yourself.

    Perhaps he’ll prove to exceed expectations, i.e. after you post his arguments and they’re shown to be flawed, he’ll accept the work of those who work on this stuff full-time, rather in their spare time.

    If so, I’ll apologize. If not, well, I won’t.

    Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.

    in 412, Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    11 March 2009 at 3:30 PM
    Dr. Burgeson, I just want to apologized for the knee-jerk hostility of some here, especially the gratuitous anti-Christian comments of T.L.E. I find that if some posters find out you’re a Christian, it will inevitably turn up as a negative remark when they disagree with you. Have to expect it. Meanwhile, there are people here who try to be civil, and I hope you won’t allow yourself to be run off by the others.

    Grace and peace to you through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jim
    Thanks, Jim. It is “Mr Burgeson,” BTW, as I left physics afer getting my MS and entered the computer business with IBM.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 14 Mar 2009 @ 9:58 AM

  472. John Burgeson and Glenn Morton,

    Have you read the “elusive absolute surface air temperature” page at the data page for GISS? It may answer many of your concerns, it may not. Give it a read

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 14 Mar 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  473. John Reisman: [398]:
    You didn’t answer most of my questions, but thank you for your response anyway.
    It seems to me that you and others don’t even want to consider anything but anthropogenic CO2, though.
    It seems strange that those huge forest sinks that have disappeared are considered to have no role in our climate .
    Does their absence not affect that C13/C12 ratio?
    If they’re so inconsequential, then maybe those countries still burning their rainforests and peat lands will decide there’s no reason to stop.
    Are we to destroy all of our forests and replace them , along with other beautiful landscapes, with windmills….. since you’re certain it’s only CO2 that’s of any consequence in this issue?
    Do we welcome further desertification, because it provides sites for solar arrays on land that’s no good for anything else….where no one will complain ?
    Are we not to worry about adding billions more people with all the impacts of that….we can just concrete over more rural land , and add more windmills and solar arrays to the rest, to accommodate them, can we?
    There’s not much imperative to do anything about those issues , is there , if it’s only CO2 that’s causing any warming worth worrying about…..and more forest lands will need to go , in order to grow the food to feed the extra people…… and what other land there is will have to accommodate the windmills.
    You would think that those who claim to be so worried about the earth would be right on side with plans to stop the deforestation and to start huge reforestation programs, but no—the environmentalists sneer at such programs and are prepared to consider nothing but the total upheaval of economies that will come when it happens that ‘electricity prices will soar’, as Obama assured Americans re an emissions trading scheme….and when he also said that his administration’s regulations would bankrupt any new coal-fired power stations that anyone dared to build.
    And why is it that those who are telling all the rest of us that we have to curb our profligate ways , have no problems at all with the hypocrisy of some of the AGW preachers.
    Most conservatively-minded people who question AGW consensus are, in my experience , much less self-indulgent, immoderate and wasteful than the passionate , admonishing AGW believers.
    You speak of the natural cycle, but to hear and read the AGW consensus side , you’d think carbon and CO2 were not part of the natural cycle—but something to be eradicated—-pollution , as the new groupspeak has it in my country and yours.
    Our projected Emissions Trading Scheme morphed [ by government edict] into a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme—-just to embed the notion of the evils of carbon.
    Lately your government is also carefully inserting the word ‘pollution’ in any mention of its plans.
    I hope Gavin notices your statement of absolute certainty.

    Comment by truth — 15 Mar 2009 @ 1:05 AM

  474. Truth’s truth: “I’m right and if there isn’t any scientific journal proving me right, then this must be a conspiracy to hide the truth!!!”

    At some point, why bother, eh?

    Comment by Mark — 15 Mar 2009 @ 6:12 AM

  475. I read the paper referenced in 460.

    What a gloomy prospect it outlines. It isn’t the projected temps that’s so depressing so much as the calculated increase in the Earth’s energy budget due to the increase in GHGs. Air temps depend upon lots of factors, but the actual energy doesn’t go away. And the number is enormous: we are going to get hammered.

    The only scenario that could save us from that would be a series of unambiguous weather catastrophes that would leave the deniers looking not simply wrong but feckless and culpable. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario would be the frog-in-the-pot one of tiny increments until checkmate.

    Comment by duBois — 15 Mar 2009 @ 11:30 AM

  476. #473 truth

    Wow, that’s quite a rant you’ve got there, maybe you should see a doctor ;)

    The questions you asked were not about the science and were/are perspectives based on opinion. Such opinions have little to do with the established scientific method that has developed throughout centuries/millenia, or the resultant scientific understanding that arises from such method. Someone’s opinion about ‘post-normal science’ has little/no relevance to the science itself, it’s just an opinion.

    as to your question

    how can we believe this consensus is based on a firm science foundation, and not on social science and a political agenda?

    Easy, learn more about the science. If you want to see which arguments rely on, or are related to political agenda, look at the history of Fred Singer and Lindzen etc. Many are of course promoting points on a social political basis though, many are promoting contextually relevant science. You need to get to know the basics, and it will become more clear what is relevant science and what is politically motivated. But it does not look like you are looking at the fundamentals of the science.

    Why would we, or anyone, opt for old reactors, thorium reactors are cheaper to build, maintain, and have less expenses in waste handling?

    Regarding the list of points you present in your post, this is information you got somewhere? This the ‘bludgeoning with irrelevance technique’ imo discussed in

    Advice for a young climate blogger
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/advice-for-a-young-climate-blogger/langswitch_lang/in#comment-114900

    But if the information/questions are out of context, what is the relevance?

    You bring up many silly (out of context) arguments. I don’t know any scientist (or person for that matter) that has recommended cutting down all the forests to put up windmills.

    The scientists examining climate consider all relevant information. When they do a climate study, they don’t usually do it from a social study perspective, though I’m sure social scientists are examining that. Climate scientists tend to study climate related things like thermal input and radiation, albedo, thermal inertia, GHG forcing, things like that.

    You don’t seem to understand these contexts as indicated in your post. If it helps, try to remember that social scientists study social stuff; climate scientists study climate stuff.

    You also say

    “There’s not much imperative to do anything about those issues”

    meaning population issues,

    This just shows you are completely unaware of the hundreds of organizations around the world that deal with these issues. try http://www.un.org and look around. Just because you don’t know about something(s) does not mean that those things don’t exist.

    You say environmentalists sneer a ideas like forestation. I know some environmentalists and have never heard that notion. Maybe you misunderstood the context?

    Most conservatives I know are willing to stand by their words, but you don’t even post your name? What are you worried about? Are you concerned that you might lose your job if your name shows up on RealClimate or are you concerned maybe you will become known for your words and are concerned with possible blowback? If you are going to say such things, at least have the courage, integrity and honor to stand up and use your real name. I understand if your livelihood or personal safety depends on your anonymity, but otherwise, I find it distressful that you would claim so much but be so weak as to hide your identity. If you are worried about losing your handle, just post your name as ‘truth first last’.

    I am a conservative, in general, and honor and integrity is important to me, that is why I post my name and stand by my words. Will you?

    No good scientists would ever claim that CO2 is not part of the natural cycle

    If you want to understand how silly such an argument is read this

    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment/john_coleman/the-amazing-story-behind-the-global-warming-scam

    Pay special attention to the definition of pollution

    By the way, at the end of your post you mention something about absolute certainty, what statement of absolute certainty? I would like to see the context to respond accordingly.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Mar 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  477. #473 truth

    btw, when I said “If you want to understand how silly such an argument is read this”, that is because Mr. Coleman’s argument contains many of the same type of logical fallacies, incorrect statements, and out of context remarks, as you have presented, as well as having a link to the definition of pollutant. This was a rebuttal to his article posted on his KUSI site January, 2009. He literally stands on his beliefs via a plethora of incorrect and/or out of context statements but one, imo, which I point out.

    To specifically address the CO2 is not/is a pollutant argument:

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/globalghg.html

    Figure 2. shows the Global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Since it comes from industrial system growth and use, it is a pollutant.

    You just need to understand that CO2 generated from human industrial process is the CO2 that is being referred to as a pollutant, not the natural cycle CO2.

    It really is important to understand these details, otherwise your arguments will be out of context.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Mar 2009 @ 2:03 PM

  478. Ray Ladbury wrote in 440:

    The ironically named “truth” says “…unless it’s that conservation alone on an individual basis will do it—but nothing we’ve seen or heard so far gives any confidence in that.”

    Wrong! First, we can certainly consume less. How much less was illustrated last year when avalanches cut off Juneau, AK from its normal cheap hydroelectric power.

    This was interesting, particularly given the “difficulties” countries in Europe face when it comes reducing their emissions so I decided to look it up. Here are a couple of excerpts from two articles. The second mentions how the country of Brazil rapidly decreased energy consumption by 20 percent when faced with a similar crisis.
    *

    In all, the city, unreachable by road and with a population of 30,000, has managed to cut consumption by 30 per cent in less than a month, a margin some experts had thought impossible….

    It is a phenomenon that was seen before in Brazil, when a drought starved the power grid of hydro-electric power in 2001. On that occasion, consumers were ordered to cut their use of power by 20 per cent or face fines.

    It worked. “In two months, the whole country cut their demand by 20 per cent, and they never really returned to the same level of consumption after that,” said Alan Meier, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

    Alaska’s capital goes green after avalanche cuts power lines
    By David Usborne
    Saturday, 17 May 2008
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/alaskas-capital-goes-green-after-avalanche-cuts-power-lines-829931.html

    *

    JUNEAU, Alaska: Conservationists swoon at the possibility of it all. Here in Alaska, where melting arctic ice and eroding coastlines have made global warming an urgent threat, this little city has cut its electricity use by more than 30 percent in a matter of weeks, instantly establishing itself as a role model for how to go green, and fast.

    After avalanche, Alaskan city is quick to go green
    By William Yardley Published: May 14, 2008
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/14/america/14juneau.php?page=1

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Mar 2009 @ 12:31 PM

  479. Timothy Chase: There is a much more compelling example in Japan’s response to the 1973 oil shock. MITI called in leading industrialists and mandated that they get energy efficient. Some energy intensive industries, aluminum smelting is the one I remember, were abandoned altogether. But in the following decade Japan’s energy consumption fell by a third, while their GDP doubled. I don’t have a link, but I did check this out once, and the numbers are right.

    This has not been seen as germane to the US, because we are dedicated to the Market. If you are persuaded that only the Market can do good, you tend to believe that collective action leads to perdition. We all have our blinders.

    The meme that getting efficient will return us all to pre-industrial squalor is demonstrably false. It is also counter-intuitive, that you get poor by ceasing to waste resources.

    Comment by Tim McDeottrm — 18 Mar 2009 @ 1:54 PM

  480. To declare that two major areas of human thought and experience are “nutty” to you says more about you than it says about them.

    I don’t claim to speak for any ‘areas of human thought and experience’. I can only relate to you and others my thoughts and experiences, and witness and judge FOR MYSELF, the thoughts and experiences of others. That right there is the fundamental difference between my scientific beliefs, and your nutty religious beliefs.

    I’m not an atheist at all – I admit the existence of superior beings who certainly have the technology to witness, listen to, and/or read some of my thoughts and experiences, and judge them accordingly FOR THEMSELVES.

    But I don’t worship them. I simply acknowledge their existence based upon the evidence now at my disposal. As the body of evidence grows, I reserve the right to modify my beliefs. That’s another area of your obvious failings.
    I suspect you wouldn’t give up your beliefs even if Jesus himself appeared before you and exclaimed he was dead, and never existed. That might just be a clever hologram.

    And as per modern legal judgments, at least in the United States of America I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.

    In the future I’ll be exercising that right to the limit.

    Captcha : recently however

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 19 Mar 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  481. Thomas Lee Elifritz: “I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.”

    I suppose you have the “right” to post whatever the moderators of this site will let you get away with.

    I would note, though, that people who post comments on blogs, newsgroups and other such places with the deliberate intent of “offending” others are commonly referred to as “trolls”, and often find themselves unwelcome in polite company.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Mar 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  482. unwelcome in polite company.

    I don’t necessarily consider a primate species which willingly causes a global mass extinction through blatant overpopulation of a wonderful planet, supported by the mass combustion of carbon fuels, to be ‘polite company’.

    That they justify these actions with nutty religious reasons makes my meek verbal protests even more piquant.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 19 Mar 2009 @ 4:59 PM

  483. What SecularAnimist wrote in comment #481.

    Moderators — Do we have to have this spat here?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Mar 2009 @ 8:44 PM

  484. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/world_avoided_prt.htm

    … the team simulated “what might have been” if chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar chemicals were not banned through the treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. The simulation used a comprehensive model that included atmospheric chemical effects, wind changes, and radiation changes. The analysis has been published online in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
    … “We are at the point where we have to ask: Were we right about ozone? Did the Montreal Protocol work? What kind of world was avoided by phasing out ozone-depleting substances?

    (And maybe the petty bickering could be put into context by considering the story and the answer to the question, eh?)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2009 @ 4:24 AM

  485. TLE writes:

    I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.

    In the future I’ll be exercising that right to the limit.

    You certainly have the right to free speech, but your speech is also open to question, comment, and refutation. For example, I maintain that your comments (not you) are:

    1) bigoted, because they characterize vast groups of people as being less intelligent than you, something for which there is surely no good evidence,

    2) foolish (i.e., counterproductive), as they alienate potential allies, and

    3) ignorant, since they demonstrate a complete lack of study of the fields (theology and philosophy) under discussion.

    What you are pushing is not science, but scientism — the attempt to make science into a total worldview a la Richard Dawkins or the much more humble Isaac Asimov. It was never designed for that. Science is simply and solely a way to investigate how nature works. It’s not a moral guide and it says nothing about the supernatural whatsoever, either pro or con.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Mar 2009 @ 7:58 AM

  486. Science is simply and solely a way to investigate how nature works.

    Says who? You?

    I’m not posting here for you religious nuts, sometimes I post only because I know the moderator will have to read this. There is a big difference between religious nuts like you and scientific nuts like me, and I know this drives you religious nuts nuts. I actively invite you to criticize, insult, demean and overthrow my beliefs, and I am confident that one day someone will indeed will overthrow them and replace them with an entirely new sets of beliefs. I am also confident that person who does that won’t be you.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 20 Mar 2009 @ 9:27 AM

  487. It (science) was never designed for that.

    So you believe science was designed and didn’t evolve.

    Sigh. I am not surprised.

    Captcha : complex analysis

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 20 Mar 2009 @ 10:14 AM

  488. Barton, please, use teh Google.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2009 @ 10:28 AM

  489. Thomas Lee Elifritz wrote: “I actively invite you to criticize, insult, demean and overthrow my beliefs …”

    With all due respect, Mr. Elifritz, what you do is go around to various websites and try to pick fights with religious believers by posting deliberately belligerent, insulting and inflammatory comments. That’s called “trolling”. It may be an enjoyable exercise in self-righteous indignation for you, but it contributes nothing of value to a discussion of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Mar 2009 @ 1:56 PM

  490. a discussion of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts.

    Tell me what is there to discuss? I’m rather more concerned about what the primitive human like primates are doing with the energy the are converting, for instance, causing a global mass extinction through widespread destruction of habitat, creating a massive pollution problem wholly separate and much worse than the relatively simple carbon dioxide problem, and totally ignoring the potential for highly disruptive cosmic impacts which could happen at any time. I haven’t even mentioned the near Earth space pollution problem.

    I have my priorities fairly straight, and global warming is way down on the list, well below total financial ruin, religious wars and widespread enabling of nutty beliefs.

    My so called ‘trolling’ isn’t even on the radar, that’s how out of scale with reality your nutty beliefs are.

    You may now return to polite discussion of the weather.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 20 Mar 2009 @ 3:04 PM

  491. What say we rule out salvation by deux ex machina of any sort?

    Expect no intervention from higher powers — we have to work it out.

    Forget hidden intervenors of all sorts, regardless of what any individual believes may happen, and talk about climate as our problem?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2009 @ 3:26 PM

  492. Gavin — I call shennanigans!

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Mar 2009 @ 4:11 PM

  493. Hank Roberts: “Expect no intervention from higher powers — we have to work it out.”

    Dang. I was really counting on the Grays to finally land a saucer on the White House lawn and give us zero-point energy generators.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Mar 2009 @ 4:55 PM

  494. http://abstrusegoose.com/strips/dis_disinhibition.PNG

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2009 @ 7:12 PM

  495. TLE writes:

    I have my priorities fairly straight, and global warming is way down on the list, well below total financial ruin, religious wars and widespread enabling of nutty beliefs.

    Then what are you doing on a blog created mainly to discuss the scientific side of global warming?

    Let me guess: Hijacking a completely unrelated thread in order to push your own nutty beliefs?

    It’s not your bridge, and we religious billy goats can go trip-trapping upon it whenever we like. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Mar 2009 @ 5:42 AM

  496. The Post has today finally printed a Chris Mooney op-ed that points out the many problems in Will’s original column.

    (Suggestion: Don’t read the comments on the piece. It will just make you crazy.)

    Comment by Chris Dunford — 21 Mar 2009 @ 12:06 PM

  497. Please stop. Whichever you believe in, deity or UFO, there are other places to talk about beliefs that don’t affect climatology. Please.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Mar 2009 @ 12:53 PM

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