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  1. Let this serve as the early warning that we are already in the mitigation and adaptation phase of AGW. Let the public policy planning proceed accordingly.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  2. I was born and raised in the Middle West (in my case, Wisconsin). During the 1940’s there was a saying \When the leaves on the oak tree are the size of a squirrel’s ear, it is time to plant corn.\ Also, the \unclear\ match of the sugar maple season with other markers such as the arrival of the robin is likely due to a significant damping because of soil temperature.

    Comment by Charles Raguse — 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:58 AM

  3. The harbinger is always timely for Spring. Thanks.

    How very fortunate we are to observe this in flowers, whereas in Alaska, with some of the greatest warming, homes and land disappear into the sea as the foundational permafrost melts. See report from Living on Earth on Alaska’s Changing Climate. http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=09-P13-00015&segmentID=4 Includes some NOAA before and after photos of one storm erosion.

    It seems like we have avoided direct experience of serious changes.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 11 Apr 2009 @ 12:04 PM

  4. Walt,
    You don’t seem to understand what “mitigation” means in this context. It means, precisely, measures to reduce the anthropogenic causes of climate change, principally greenhouse gas emissions – which you oppose.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 11 Apr 2009 @ 12:34 PM

  5. http://www.earlyspringthebook.com/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2009 @ 12:39 PM

  6. http://www.vpt.org/programs/emergingscience.html

    “Vermonters at the frontiers of science. Hosted by Amy Seidl, the program delves into such topics as energy, transportation and the technology of social sciences – all with a Vermont perspective. The series is designed to educate and inspire – and to document the success of Vermont’s scientific community.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  7. Hi,

    This is OF, but I just found (and bought) Nigel Lawson, 2009, An Appeal to Reason. A Cook Look At Global Warming, Duckworth, London, NY. (166 p.).
    Lawson is in his own words a ‘Tory radical,’ (sic) wanting to prove that conventional wisdom and the science from the side of the alarmists is deeply flawed, that global climate change is a hype etc. etc. The conservative press gave the book extremely good reviews, as can be expected.
    It’s embarrassing enough and also there will be elections this year in the UK. In some areas, the BNP (the extreme rightwing British National Party) is doing better in the polls than Labour.

    Comment by Will Denayer — 11 Apr 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  8. I live in Birmingham, in the centre of England. When I was a child (in the 1940’s and early 50’s) The only time I saw palm trees was when we holidayed at the seaside on the South coast. Now I have a 10-foot tall cabbage palm in my own garden, and a 7-foot tall Chusan palm. I have a 10-foot tall rhododendron falconeri currently covered in flowers, according to books more than thirty years old this is impossible to grow away from the West coast warmed by the Gulf Stream. I have many other examples, but that should suffice to show that the weather is milder and the spring earlier than it was in my youth. The changes are real and obvious. As yet they are harmless but I wonder how long it will be before that changes?

    Comment by Brian Carter — 11 Apr 2009 @ 1:21 PM

  9. Walt,

    Part of that mitigation has got to be to limit the ultimate reach of climate change as much as possible. Until we stop making the problem worse any other mitigation actions will be largely ineffective in the long run.

    Comment by Dave Werth — 11 Apr 2009 @ 1:26 PM

  10. Sounds like a worthwhile read… here is a past discussion on the changes in the timing of the seasons:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/open-thread-on-lindzen-op-ed-in-wsj/#comment-11519

    [Response: The paper was “The Seasons, Global Temperature, and Precession, D. J. Thomson, Science, 268 (April 1995), pp. 59-68.”. We did a followup study on this in ‘96:
    Mann, M.E., Park, J., Greenhouse Warming and Changes in the Seasonal Cycle of Temperature: Model Versus Observations, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 1111-1114, 1996.
    Turns out, its a bit more complicated than at first blush. Tim Osborn of CRU/UEA in the UK has also done some work on this problem. -mike.]

    It’s interesting to look at that paper’s conclusions in the light of the past twelve years of data:

    “If, as the models predict, the dominant influence on annual-cycle amplitude A(t) and phase P(t) stems from high-latitude sea-ice decreases, the signature of global warming is scarcely evident in the observational data…”

    “It is possible, probably likely, that the observed trends in the seasonal cycle represent a combination of internal variability, enhanced greenhouse effects and external forcings.”

    Now, we are seeing rapid sea ice decline and sea ice thinning, along with generally warmer winter temperatures, though highly variable – see the BBC report for a general overview:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7987354.stm

    “The 30-year trend shows the maximum annual sea-ice cover, usually seen in March, is shrinking by 2.7% per decade.

    Only 10% of the cover consists of relatively durable ice that has formed over more than two years, a record low.

    P.S. the reason why people focus on ice shelves and sea ice is that there are poor observational records of ocean and surface temperatures in remote polar regions. Ice (like animals and plants) “sees” the temperature all year long.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 11 Apr 2009 @ 1:35 PM

  11. Thanks Eric, nice article. I agree with McKibben; one of the most important things we can do is document change and present the findings to the world There is no doubt that these changes can be observed first-hand, have been rapid in many cases, and that the general public is highly important in monitoring them. In the course of the article in February, the following citizen-science based observational programs were mentioned. I collate them here for reference and as a jump-start for other relevant links people may have:

    NCAR’s Project Budburst: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/citizen_science/budburst/
    North American Breeding Bird Survey: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBS/
    Netherlands Nature Calendar: http://www.natuurkalender.nl/jaaroverzichten/jaaroverzichten.asp
    UK Woodland Trust Phenology Network: http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/
    various UK Biological Records Centre recording schemes http://www.brc.ac.uk/recording_schemes.asp
    British trust for ornithology (BTO) surveys: http://www.bto.org/survey/index.htm

    ALL of these efforts could use help.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 11 Apr 2009 @ 1:43 PM

  12. Haven’t humans always been in the mitigation and adaptation phase concerning climate changes. If as Seidl says – we can’t manage the climate – then what are we doing other than spending billions of dollars on a futile effort to manage the unmanageable.

    Comment by Arthur — 11 Apr 2009 @ 2:02 PM

  13. Have you read “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan and “Collapse” by Jared Diamond? These two books are more relevant to what is happening to humans. Over the past several thousand years, a few dozen civilizations have collapsed because of really minor climate changes. A fraction of a degree change can cause the rain to move hundreds of miles in a year, making agriculture impossible. Typically, 99.99% of the people die, mostly of starvation, but some people are hunted and eaten by their neighbors. Have you noticed droughts and fires in Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Greece, Darfur, South Australia, etc. or floods in Iowa, Illinois and Dakota? Food will not grow with either no water or under water. The rain has moved already, and our food supply has changed. So far, there are no shortages in the US, but there are shortages in Darfur. There is no guarantee that food will grow on the land where the rain will fall next year. We are in peril of a collapse of civilization. Nobody knows the time frame.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 Apr 2009 @ 2:15 PM

  14. My own personal experience as a gardener in Michigan, detected a few years ago now, was that spring was arriving around March 1st. Later confirmation of a three-week increase in spring bird migrations confirmed my informal observations. While there certainly has been variability in this date over the past seven years, winter here has surely become more inconstant and variable, from bitter cold to spring-like temperatures.

    Comment by markr — 11 Apr 2009 @ 2:33 PM

  15. Walt, part of mitigation is diminishing the severity of the consequences. The only feasible way to do that right now is to decrease carbon emissions. Just because climate change is already happening does not imply that we cannot make it worse–and perhaps much worse.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Apr 2009 @ 2:36 PM

  16. #1 Walt Bennett

    This is a good example of the lack of specificity, context and substantiation I was referring to in the other thread. In other words, you are too ambiguous for us to derive sensibility from your words… unless that is your desire in that you don’t want anyone to be able to have something specific to address?

    Your idea of letting the market forces drive climate change policy is backwards thinking. You may as well join Bjorn Lomborg.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/the-copenhagen-distraction

    If we don’t utilize the reasonable science to drive forward thinking policy, then we are accepting that we want more expensive solutions as opposed to more reasonable solutions.

    We need to get ahead of this one, not behind it.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Apr 2009 @ 2:36 PM

  17. “Haven’t humans always been in the mitigation and adaptation phase concerning climate changes.” – Arthur

    No. Certainly human beings have always adapted to climate. Mitigation, as I noted@4, has a very specific meaning in this context: taking action aimed at reducing human effects on the climate. And while we certainly can’t “manage the climate” if this means determine exactly what course it is going to take, we most certainly can and must take action to limit those effects, as I am sure Seidl would agree.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 11 Apr 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  18. Agreed Jim (#11). Here’s another one for anyone in the US that would like to participate in documenting when the signs of spring come:

    USA National Phenology Network: http://www.usanpn.org/?q=home

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 11 Apr 2009 @ 3:40 PM

  19. Considering that the frequency with which American families move is fairly high, (I remember something like once every seven years), I think changes in the natural world due to climate change are overwhelmed by changes of climate zone, for a large portion of the population. Even for relatively local moves, in some places climate zone differences can easily overwhelm the gradual warming of the climate in general. For instance where I currently live in California, a good rule of thumb for summer high temperatures, is one degree farenheit per mile from the ocean. Except for that small portion of the population who has lived for decades in areas characterised by fairly homogeneous climate, I think the AGW changes will seem insignificant.

    Comment by Thomas — 11 Apr 2009 @ 3:43 PM

  20. Arthur (12) — We certainly can manage the climate; the combined actions of all 6.7 billion of us “manage” it on a daily basis; an example of Garret Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.

    Actual management requires co-operative actions and, well, a manager. Fund me as well as the sum total of all the monies spent on the world’s militaries and I’ll do a tremendously good job of it. What the heck, I could almost get by with what the U.S. spends for so-called national security; DoD budget alone wouldn’t do it.

    All that is required is the will to co-operate on a large enough scale. I am less than fully optimistic.

    [Response: I am sure that Seidl’s point is that there is going not going to be a magic bullet via geoengineering. Although not all our colleagues would agree, we at RealClimate are in general very much in agreement with Seidl on this point. See e.g. here–eric]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Apr 2009 @ 3:54 PM

  21. Will Bennett
    @ post #1

    I will let the European birds and flowers know that they should abandon European social democracy and embrace the American liberal free market philosophy as the only way to stave off extinction. I am sure they will post a “thank you” on this site.

    Theo H

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 11 Apr 2009 @ 4:10 PM

  22. Re Comment #1: The only thing mitigated is the damage done by the previous administration. Dumbya and his henchmen can no longer stand in the way of progress in curbing AGW.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 11 Apr 2009 @ 4:12 PM

  23. Hi Eric

    thanks for the nice post!
    For those of you who are interested in recent peer reviewed papers that connect climate change with phenology and early advance of spring in parts of Europe, you may have a look at (and references therein)

    Rutishauser, T., Luterbacher, J., Defila, C., Frank, D., and Wanner, H., 2008: Swiss Spring Plant Phenology 2007: Extremes, a multi-century perspective and changes in temperature sensitivity. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L05703.

    Rutishauser, T., Luterbacher, J., Jeanneret, F., Pfister, C., and Wanner, H., 2007: A phenology-based reconstruction of interannual changes in past spring seasons, J. Geophys. Res., (Biogeosciences), 112, G04016.

    Schleip, C., Rutishauser, T., Luterbacher, J., and Menzel, A., 2008:, Time series modeling and central European temperature impact assessment of phenological records over the last 250 years, J. Geophys. Res., 113, G04026.

    Luterbacher, J., Liniger, M.A., Menzel, A., Estrella, N., Della-Marta, P.M., Pfister, C., Rutishauser, T., and Xoplaki, E., 2007: The exceptional European warmth of Autumn 2006 and Winter 2007: Historical context, the underlying dynamics and its phenological impacts. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L12704.

    see: http://www.geography.unibe.ch/lenya/giub/live/research/climatology/publications/climate-ref_en.html

    [Response: Thanks for the heads up for our readers Juerg–comments from our professional colleagues of this sort, pointing out relevant peer-reviewed literature they can go to for more details, are extremely helpful, and we’d love to have more comments like this. In this spirit, I’ll gratuitously plug my own past forays into this area, Cook et al (2004) and Cook et al (2005) – mike]

    Comment by Juerg Luterbacher — 11 Apr 2009 @ 4:12 PM

  24. When you reviewed Mark Lynas’s book you ended with the questions: “If a reading of the published scientific literature paints such a frightening picture of the future as Six Degrees suggests – even while it honestly represents that literature – then are we being too provocative in the way we write our scientific papers? Or are we being too cautious in the way we talk about the implications of the results?”

    It rather matters which of those two possibilities is the more likely, particularly for us non-scientists. My layman’s understanding of what the scientists are saying has made me profoundly alarmed by the prospect of human-caused global warming. I wrote about Lynas’s book when it received the Royal Society prize for science writing, and briefly noted your favourable review. I didn’t mention your questions, but was aware of them and thought there was probably more substance in the second than the first. Now you seem to criticise Lynas for emphasizing what might happen over what will happen. Surely in the climate change area no one is able to say precisely what will happen until it has happened. Gentle changes in the garden are worth recording, but isn’t part of their significance that they point to further and larger changes to come? Doesn’t the importance and urgency of climate science for humans (and other species) lie in what it predicts?

    Comment by Bryan Walker — 11 Apr 2009 @ 4:20 PM

  25. eric response to comment #20 — Thanks, but to clarify, I don’t propose any magic bullet geo-engineering, just the hard and somewhat expensive slog of removing all the excess carbon currently being added to the active carbon cycle, about 10 GtC yearly; in addition, starting to remove some, yearly, of the 500 GtC which has been added to the active carbon cycle since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This won’t come cheap, mind you.

    [Response: There is a neat new idea how to do *some* of this, here: carbonscape”.–eric]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Apr 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  26. Combine ‘Early Spring’ with ‘Late Autumn’ and you have ‘Short Winter’. Despite firestorms Down Under I’ve also noticed a trend towards cloudy summers which seems to inhibit plant growth. If cold suddenly hits late developed autumn crops they may not mature. I think this will lead to major crop failures in some regions and an increasing trend towards controlled atmosphere growing ..the more greenhouses effect.

    Comment by Johnno — 11 Apr 2009 @ 5:08 PM

  27. I would be interested in how the paper cited below in any way validates the information Amy Seidl’s book “Early Spring.” Even though it is from Pielke Sr’s website, I hope that any comments or reactions are measured, calm, and factual.

    New Paper In Press “Intercomparison, Interpretation, and Assessment Of Spring Phenology In North America Estimated From Remote Sensing For 1982 To 2006″ By White et al.2009
    Filed under: Climate Change Metrics — Roger Pielke Sr. @ 7:00 am
    There is a very interesting paper in press that updates our understanding of spring pheonology in North America. There have been statements that spring leaf out has become earlier in recent years (e.g. see page 77 in CCSP, 2009). This claim appears to be incorrect. The paper is

    White, M.A., K.M. de Beurs, K. Didan, D.W. Inouye, A.D. Richardson, O.P. Jensen, J. O’Keefe, G. Zhang, R.R. Nemani, W.J.D. van Leeuwen, J.F. Brown, A. de Wit, M. Schaepman, X. Lin, M. Dettinger, A. Bailey, J. Kimball, M.D. Schwartz, D.D. Baldocchi, J.T. Lee, W.K. Lauenroth. Intercomparison, interpretation, and assessment of spring phenology in North America estimated from remote sensing for 1982 to 2006. Global Change Biology (in press).

    The abtstract reads

    “Shifts in the timing of spring phenology are a central feature of global change research. Long-term observations of plant phenology have been used to track vegetation responses to climate variability but are often limited to particular species and locations and may not represent synoptic patterns. Satellite remote sensing is instead used for continental to global monitoring. Although numerous methods exist to extract phenological timing, in particular start-of-spring (SOS), from time series of reflectance data, a comprehensive intercomparison and interpretation of SOS methods has not been conducted. Here, we assess 10 SOS methods for North America between 1982 and 2006. The techniques include consistent inputs from the 8 km Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer NDVIg dataset, independent data for snow cover, soil thaw, lake ice dynamics, spring streamflow timing, over 16 000 individual measurements of ground-based phenology, and two temperature-driven models of spring phenology. Compared with an ensemble of the 10 SOS methods, we found that individual methods differed in average day-of-year estimates by +/- 60 days and in standard deviation by +/- 20 days. The ability of the satellite methods to retrieve SOS estimates was highest in northern latitudes and lowest in arid, tropical, and Mediterranean ecoregions. The ordinal rank of SOS methods varied geographically, as did the relationships between SOS estimates and the cryospheric/hydrologic metrics. Compared with ground observations, SOS estimates were related to the first leaf and first flowers expanding phenological stages. We found no evidence for time trends in spring arrival from ground- or model-based data; using an ensemble estimate from two methods that were more closely related to ground observations than other methods, SOS trends could be detected for only 12% of North America and were divided between trends towards both earlier and later spring.”

    The conclusion of the paper states in part

    “Trend estimates from the SOS methods as well as measured and modeled plant phenology strongly suggest either no or very geographically limited trends towards earlier spring arrival, although we caution that, for an event such as SOS with high interannual variability, a 25-year SOS record is short for detecting robust trends. Increased greenhouse warming since the late 20th century would seem to argue for increased, not decreased, shifts in spring during our study period, indicating that processes such as succession, changes in community structure, land management, or disturbance may be more important than previously recognized. Seasonal temperature changes may also be linked to a trend reversal in SOS in the early 1990s.”

    The finding, with the cavaet that the record is still relatively short, that any early leaf out is, at best, geographically limited, raises questions on claims that spring has been arriving earlier.

    Comment by Chuck L — 11 Apr 2009 @ 5:12 PM

  28. A timely book indeed. In Australia (and elsewhere) the continuing presence of trees, the major feature of the natural environment seen from a car window, has helped to make people think that not much is going on (http://www.blognow.com.au/mrpickwick/132310/Tree_change.html). But trees are starting to be lost, and when these are trees of considerable age (100 plus years) it makes it more difficult (though not impossible) for denialists to argue that “there have been droughts before”. Trees average out, dampen down, changes in weather patterns over long periods, and if they are beginning to die it strongly indicates change beyond the ordinary. Undoubtedly many changes are happening among smaller plants and among animal species, but these will be much harder, well nigh impossible, for the ordinary person to detect.

    Comment by David Horton — 11 Apr 2009 @ 5:26 PM

  29. Yes, thanks Eric for this post.

    I’ll buy the book a soon as available in the UK.

    I just happened to want to find out early spring happenings in the UK earlier this week, and all the links I need are coming up.

    I sometimes plant a few tree saplings each year – fifty or so – and I like to get them in before the saplings bud up . A couple of times in recent years I have been caught by things now happening earlier than expected.

    Yip,yip!

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 11 Apr 2009 @ 6:28 PM

  30. eric reply to comment #25 — Interesting variation on slow pyrolysis. But the rub to any biomass solution is the inefficiency of photosynthesis: even with algae I don’t know how to do better than about 10 GtC/ha/yr with just air capture. That means, doing this alone, around one gigahectare of algae tanks and ponds. That’ll be about a tenth more than the entire Sahara Desert:

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

    so I’ll need some of the

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rub'_al_Khali

    as well. Worse, we’ll need to use sea water, there not being enough fresh to go around, so we’ll have to pump it. That means even more algae to provide the fuel to run the pumps. So may have to spread even further:

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

    Then one has to bury the biochar, so even more energy is required. There went another desert for growing even more algae:

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

    or maybe even two or three of those. Anyway, certainly won’t be cheap.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Apr 2009 @ 6:47 PM

  31. Though Google finds hits at WTF making a big deal of this in-press paper abstract, it’s no surprise. Of course individual methods would differ greatly — this is ecology. You don’t expect to find lockstep correlation between different measures. And that’s been studied.

    Perhaps they address this in the full text. Let’s see.

    Meanwhile, for those who think satellite data is automatically more convincing than field work, do look at the kinds of thing that happen. Here, picking at random a few from recent work found searching “global change biology” and “start of spring”:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120124832/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    “… We show that a change in timing of spring plankton events in warm years led to the paradox of lower mean water temperatures during the growth period, favouring cold-adapted diatoms over cyanobacteria, and within the diatoms, some cold-adapted centric forms over pennate forms. Under high P : Si ratios, the increased time between phytoplankton and cladoceran peaks opened a loophole for filamentous cyanobacteria (Oscillatoriales) in warm years to establish dominance after the diatoms, which are silicate limited. Therefore, the warming trend promotes filamentous cyanobacteria, a well-known nuisance in eutrophic lakes, and surprisingly, cold-adapted diatoms.”

    http://dissertations.ub.rug.nl/FILES/faculties/science/2007/i.y.m.tulp/09_c9.pdf

    The arctic pulse, Chapter 9

    Has prey availability for arctic birds advanced with climate change?
    Hindcasting the abundance of tundra arthropods using weather and seasonal variation

    “… We investigated weather-related and seasonal
    patterns in abundance of surface-active arthropods during
    four years in the tundra of Taimyr, Siberia. The resulting
    statistical models were used to hindcast arthropod abun-
    dance on the basis of a 33-year weather dataset collected in
    the same area. Daily insect abundance was correlated closely
    with date, temperature, and, in some years, with wind and
    precipitation. An additional correlation with the number of
    degree-days accumulated after June 1 suggests that the pool
    of potential arthropod recruits is depleted in the course of
    the summer. The amplitude of short-term weather-induced
    variation was as large as the seasonal effect. The hindcasted
    dates of peak arthropod abundance advanced by 7 days
    between 1973 and 2003. The timing of the period during which
    birds have a reasonable probability of finding enough food to
    grow changed as well: dates with the highest probabilities
    have also advanced. At the same time the overall length of
    the period with probabilities of finding enough food have
    remained unchanged. This results in an advancement of the
    optimal breeding date for breeding birds….”

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2007.01.004
    Cross-scalar satellite phenology from ground, Landsat, and MODIS data

    “Phenological records constructed from global mapping satellite platforms (e.g. AVHRR and MODIS) hold the potential to be valuable tools for monitoring vegetation response to global climate change. However, most satellite phenology products are not validated, and field checking coarse scale (≥ 500 m) data with confidence is a difficult endeavor. In this research, we compare phenology from Landsat (field scale, 30 m) to MODIS (500 m), and compare datasets derived from each instrument. Landsat and MODIS yield similar estimates of the start of greenness (r2 = 0.60), although we find that a high degree of spatial phenological variability within coarser-scale MODIS pixels may be the cause of the remaining uncertainty. In addition, spatial variability is smoothed in MODIS, a potential source of error when comparing in situ or climate data to satellite phenology. We show that our method for deriving phenology from satellite data generates spatially coherent interannual phenology departures in MODIS data. We test these estimates from 2000 to 2005 against long-term records from Harvard Forest (Massachusetts) and Hubbard Brook (New Hampshire) Experimental Forests. MODIS successfully predicts 86% of the variance at Harvard forest and 70% of the variance at Hubbard Brook; the more extreme topography of the later is inferred to be a significant source of error. In both analyses, the satellite estimate is significantly dampened from the ground-based observations, suggesting systematic error (slopes of 0.56 and 0.63, respectively). The satellite data effectively estimates interannual phenology at two relatively simple deciduous forest sites and is internally consistent, even with changing spatial scale. …”

    Anyone have an accessible copy of the upcoming paper in full? The footnotes and cites will be interesting. Date of publication?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2009 @ 7:18 PM

  32. Thanks Eric for the review and the heads up for a good read. I have a gift card from a bookstore and I’ll have to pick up a copy of Early Spring.

    I will add to Jim’s list (#11) of projects that can use help, ebird run by Cornell U. and the Audubon Society. It is a great way to get involved.
    http://ebird.org/content/ebird/

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 11 Apr 2009 @ 7:31 PM

  33. Nd here in Arkansas, the lilacs only bloom if the winter has been COLDER than normal. The lilacs are blooming very heavily this year.

    Comment by Mike — 11 Apr 2009 @ 8:06 PM

  34. David Horton,

    I agree about the tree death. I live in the Otways in Southern Victoria. But regularly travel around rural South Australia and Victoria, observing the landscape with an ecologist’s eye as I go.

    We are seeing landscape-wide declines in trees and understory.

    Some of that is due to remnant trees reaching their twilight years. And some of it is clearly exacerbated by the impacts such as farmers ploughing too close to the base of trees, the compaction of soil by stock, etc. But over the last few years the die-back has started to become really obvious in ungrazed bush in reserves.

    The Otway ranges have one of the highest and most reliable rainfalls in Victoria, but even here the bush is obviously thinning back as species of the canopy and understory increasingly die out each summer, without recruitments in the wetter months being able to make it through the following year.

    In the bush around my house certain shrub species once characteristic of these woodlands are disappearing altogether from ridges and slopes (eg. Prickly Geebung). The decline this summer has been dramatic. I notice that many trees and shrubs will go through a numbers of years where they look crook and loose leaves in the summer, recover a bit in winter, then decline further the next summer, finally succumbing. I’ve been watching perfectly healthy trees cark it over the course of just three or so years.

    After the devastating fires which incinerated vast areas of landscape this year, I think the bush that comes back will have a significantly different structure. Both because of the sheer intensity of the fires (killing trees and baking soil seed banks to a greater extent than the average fire) and because the new climatic regime may not now support a recovery of the same composition of species that previously occurred.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 11 Apr 2009 @ 8:46 PM

  35. Another way climate affects laypeople: anyone in the Rocky Mountain region can tell you that an immense amount of pine trees (2M acres in CO alone, 33M in British Columbia) are being devastated by the pine beetle epidemic. The reason for the outbreak is that warmer winters are allowing more of the beetles to survive longer. One look at the vast swaths of dead forest reminds anyone that climate change is real and affects us all.

    We may not be able to manage climate in totality, but we can of course influence it (or influence our influence upon it) with rapid emissions reduction and responsible implementation of sustainable biochar technology. Biochar is thus far one of the only carbon negative technologies out there, and is an important part of the portfolio of solutions to climate change, soil fertility, and energy. For more info see http://www.biocharengineering.com or http://www.biochar-international.com.

    Comment by Lopa Brunjes — 11 Apr 2009 @ 9:15 PM

  36. And in response to David Benson’s comment: biochar does not have to be buried, it can be incorporated into soil without tilling by simply spreading it on top.

    Comment by Lopa Brunjes — 11 Apr 2009 @ 9:17 PM

  37. Bill McKibben said it well, in his introduction to the book. We need to bear witness, if nothing else. Even if there is nothing much we humans can do at this point in time to really stop climate change in its tracks before it leads to destructive global warming that may very well lead to the extinction of the human species on this planet, if nothing else, let us all, in our ways, try to bear witness. My speech to the graduating class of 2099, which Bill has seen and told me it works [“….that’s an excellent commencement speech — better than almost all the ones i’ve ever heard…”], has now been picked up by CNN’s iReporter Joe Seydewitz and can be viewed online here. All I am doing is bearing witness:

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-242455

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 11 Apr 2009 @ 10:07 PM

  38. There is a very interesting paper in press that updates our understanding of spring pheonology in North America. There have been statements that spring leaf out has become earlier in recent years (e.g. see page 77 in CCSP, 2009). This claim appears to be incorrect

    indicating that processes such as succession, changes in community structure, land management, or disturbance may be more important than previously recognized.

    All processes consistent with warming.

    This might lead one to argue that ecosystem adaptation is thus far, at least, keeping pace with warming, but not, unless one has more data, to argue that …

    1. warming is not happening

    2. continued acceleration in the pace of warming might make succession etc unable to keep pace.

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:18 PM

  39. #35 – Pine beetles tend to kill old, weak, or diseased trees. 100 years ago, much of the forests in the high country of Colorado were logged for lumber or fuel. The composition of today’s forest is a direct result of that indiscriminate logging (and fire). As the forests came back over the past century, protected in recent years with fire suppression and management, they did so largely with the same species . Today, most stands of lodgepole pine are about the same age. It’s a little like the baby boomers today. The trees had their own baby boom -over a century ago- and now the majority of these trees have grown old at the same time and are susceptible to disease, since it is fungus that kills the trees.

    The warming also contributes to protecting the beetles larvae, but it’s not the only factor. Overpopulation and old age are issues in nature as well, and disease and fire is natures way of handling it.

    Comment by pft — 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:51 PM

  40. Might I suggest looking at the other end – late autumn/winter – as well? There should be fairly good data on e.g. ski area opening dates. For instance, when I first moved here (the Sierra Nevada) in the late ’70s, it wasn’t unusual to start skiing in October. In recent years mid-December has been more typical.

    Comment by James — 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:55 PM

  41. Question:
    Will the reflective geo engineering solutions reduce the difference between seasons? Will be be left with late spring/summer all year?

    Comment by Tony O'Brien — 12 Apr 2009 @ 12:09 AM

  42. Off-topic but in the “Know Your Bamboozler” department there’s a fresh article in the NY Times describing ex-Limbaugh staffer now ex-Inhofe staffer Marc Morano’s expanding career as self-appointed Minister of Climate Misinformation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/10/us/politics/10morano.html?hpw

    Morano’s drainpipe is funded by The Usual Suspects. Details in the article.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Apr 2009 @ 12:21 AM

  43. 1) Thanks for the recommendation.

    2) I really think the biological data should gain more prominense, as I discussed a while ago here at RC. In some sense, it’s too bad that Chapter 1 of AR4 WG II is there, rather than in WG I, where most of the evidence is.

    3) As noted there, I really like maps/animations that show:

    a) Poleward spread of something that no one wants (like kudzu or pine beetles) that only survive when coldspells milden.

    b) Poleward/uphill motion of the equatorial-nearest boundary of something people would prefer to keep around, like sugar maple trees.

    c) Effects that simply cannot have anything to do with UHI or human development.

    I like maps because they show a lot of data, and can be quickly recognizable.

    4) Alternatively, I’d love to see compelling visual representations of the spring timing data and similar things. Maybe the book will have some. I speculate that there may be some application of the “small multiples” section in Tufte’s “Envisioning Information”.

    5) In some ways, it is unfortunate that the most common image is that of global temperature since 1880, given that humans tend to focus on jiggles, can’t compute linear regressions in our heads, and don’t always understand the analysis techniques.

    6) Can people point me at:
    a) More examples of good maps/charts like the ones I referenced earlier.
    b) in generally-accessible places.

    I’d love to build a good collection of these things.

    Comment by John Mashey — 12 Apr 2009 @ 12:31 AM

  44. Chuck L. (27)

    The lead author, White, has done work in the past on segregating out areas (“phenoregions”) least likely to be confounded by multi-year climate variability and direct human impacts, based on coarse scale NDVI. Presumably this paper is an in depth analysis of some of those areas.
    That paper is not listed in either the “Early View” or “Accepted Articles” sections of GCB. It must’ve been very recently accepted and Pielke Sr got a copy of it. There is no way to evaluate it until it goes public.

    The differences and mismatches between ground based and remotely sensed phenological observations at other than large scales are well known (e.g. Fisher et al.(2006), Rem. Sens. Env 100:265-; Schwartz et al. (2002), Int J. Climatol 22:1793)

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:22 AM

  45. In the UK there has been a long history of recording events that mark the changing of the seasons, most famously the hearing of the first cuckoo recorded in the letters page of The Times.

    In 2000 the following organisation, which encourages people to record various natural events in spring and autumn, was established because of increasing concern over the changing climate:

    http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/

    It reports that about 50,000 people around the UK have submitted records. These are not only of present events but also of past years recorded in diaries.

    These records give insight into changes in the natural world that raw climate data cannot. For example, a bird called the great tit requires to raise its young at a time when caterpillars are available, feeding on young leaves of deciduous trees. But if the trees come into leaf earlier, responding to warmer temperatures, and the great tit continues to nest at the same time, responding to day length, then the two events become out of synchronism and the chicks starve.

    Obtaining such information into the ‘sundry and manifold changes of the World’ thus provides insight into the effects that climate changes is having and will increasingly have on natural systems.

    I gather from the above article and comments that no such central recording organisation exists in the USA. I’m astonished! Come on you guys, get something started soon! Maybe the Sierra Club could organise it? I’m sure the above Nature’s Calendar (which is organised by The Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (now with help from the BBC) would be happy to offer advice (if you asked nicely).

    Comment by Slioch — 12 Apr 2009 @ 3:27 AM

  46. “in 1965 the U.S. Department of Agriculture planted a particular variety of lilac in more than seventy locations around the U.S”

    Perhaps someone had been reading T S Eliot’s appropriately named poem, The Waste Land:

    “April is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.”

    Comment by Slioch — 12 Apr 2009 @ 3:36 AM

  47. Many of the effects being witness in the natural world may not be completely caused by the burning of fossil Fuels. Some of the problems being observed may be a side effect of technology itself. In some cases, scientist assume the statistical trends being observed in data correspond to the burning of Fossil Fuels; however, there exist another change, which is not as widely discussed, and that change is the rapid technological advancement of a species. The rapid advancements in technology has allowed mankind to exploit available resources faster and in larger quantities. There has never been a species that could exploit more resources of the environment then modern day humanity.

    The ecosystems around the world are being destroyed. We have implemented technologies that have effects that we do not fully understand. These ecosystems took millions of years to develop and they are intertwined with each other in complex ways. The million dollar scientific question is, “At what point does the worlds ecosystems collapse?”

    I do not bring this up to belittle the idea of CO2 induced global warming. I simply think it’s important to discus other dynamics that may also have an impact. I think we have a very clear danger over the horizon with regards to our resources. I also believe it’s even more complicated to deal with then CO2 because humanity is ever increasingly over-populated. In a nutshell, managing climate is not going to be as easy as some may think.

    [Response: I am sure that Seidl’s point is that there is going not going to be a magic bullet via geoengineering. Although not all our colleagues would agree, we at RealClimate are in general very much in agreement with Seidl on this point. See e.g. here–eric]

    Eric, I look for our government to make such an attempt. I think it’s foolishly dangerous, but I look for an attempt to be made. I don’t worry about the predicted or hypothetical consequences nearly as much as the consequences we are not aware of. The circumstances being presented to governments need to be done cautiously. Scientist hopefully aren’t suffering under a conjured felicity of control as they did in the 1940s.

    We are presenting governments with a picture of destruction. Some people hope that we are going to see a world wide reduction in emissions of CO2. The problem is a large portion of world wide population does not even know how to read, and thus the politics of this may be impossible. Since governments are sensitive to this, they may attempt geoengineering and regard it’s consequences as collateral damage.

    [Response: It is perfectly legitimate to ask whether climate change is the greatest threat to ecosystems. In many cases — perhaps most cases — the answer is no, at least in the short term. Clearcutting, pollution, damming of rivers, etc. are far more destructive. Scientists are perfectly aware of this. The problem is that climate change comes on top of everything else.–eric]

    Comment by EL — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:38 AM

  48. Gaia is fighting back, see e.g. these publications regarding the effects of climate change on biosphere:

    climate change and demise of lemings, (Nature, 2008), sub. req.:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v456/n7218/full/nature07442.html

    climate change and demise of salamanders, (PNAS, 2009, full):

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/02/09/0813051106.full.pdf+html

    climate change and demise of canadian managed forests, (Nature, 2008), sub. req.:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v452/n7190/abs/nature06777.html

    climate change (surface ocean warming) and increased decay of plankton by bacteria (positive feedback) (PNAS, 2009), sub.req.:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/04/09/0812743106.abstract

    and myriads of other studies…

    I am writing from Slovakia, where we jumped from winter to almost summer… (25°C)

    I would call the book not early spring, but *missing* spring ;-)

    best,

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:46 AM

  49. “Many of the effects being witness in the natural world may not be completely caused by the burning of fossil Fuels.”

    Hmm. Read up on AGW. It says NOWHERE That the effects are completely caused by fossil fuels for ANYTHING.

    As I’ve pointed out before, denialists seem to have this weird dichotomy (probably a projection problem) that they insist that the AGW proponents have CO2 as the SOLE FACTOR for warming. They don’t let this stop them from saying that scientists agree that CO2 isn’t the sole cause and hence there’s “controversy” mind. Yet they also seem to be the ones most likely to promote the idea that there IS a single sole source for all this change: “It’s the sun wot did it!!!” “Volcanoes, just Volcanoes!” et al.

    Yet despite being fixated on ONE SOURCE (as long as it isn’t CO2) they describe the proAGW arguments as being ficated on ONE SOURCE (as long as it’s CO2).

    As to your request that other elements are talked about, read the name of this site. If you want to talk about geoengineering and its results, ignoring the engineers themselves, that’s a political issue: what actions should be taken having been informed by the science (which is what this site is for, discussing what the science is telling us).

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 5:21 AM

  50. “I’m sure the above Nature’s Calendar (which is organised by The Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (now with help from the BBC)”

    Ah, see, that’s where the idea falls down.

    To the devout denialist (or, nearly equivalently, the devout Free Market disciple), that merely proves that such information is collected by biased AGWer eco nazis that want us back in caves eating catepillars and quorn.

    The great tit (and the lilac, etc) are all in on it. They’re jealous of our Western Civilisation and are ganging up to bring us down.

    I wish I weren’t so close to the truth with that…

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 5:25 AM

  51. “The warming also contributes to protecting the beetles larvae, but it’s not the only factor. Overpopulation and old age are issues in nature as well, and disease and fire is natures way of handling it.”

    If there are no larvae, there’s no beetle to kill the tree.

    All your proof shows is that maybe (though this isn’t shown by any data available) that these trees would have been devastated by something else, if these beetles had not been allowed to survive.

    But, apart from your supposition merely being “reasonable” with NO EVIDENCE, the simple fact is that these trees are being killed by a pest that would not be there AT ALL to affect these possibly weakened trees if there hadn’t been warming going on, letting the larvae survive.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 5:31 AM

  52. Re #30 — David, would it help to stack the algae tanks so that they were getting air from the side as well as on top? Could you increase the efficiency on that basis? Or are you already taking that into account?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Apr 2009 @ 5:32 AM

  53. Note on “mitigation and adaptation” i.e. Walt…

    Mitigation would involve the elimination of fossil fuel combustion and also of deforestation. While that would (hopefully) halt the growth of atmospheric CO2, we can’t be sure, because of feedback effects involving soil carbon, permafrost carbon, shallow methane hydrates and the basic fact that a warmer ocean holds less dissolved gas. To actually reduce atmospheric CO2 is very difficult; over periods of geological time the main factor is the burial of photosynthetic carbon. We can also do this using biochar – but all of the so-called “clean coal carbon sequestration” programs are fraudulent propaganda operations aimed at maintaining business-as-usual while projecting the image of change.

    Adaptation is going to happen, one way or the other – for example, reducing water allotments to California farmers is a form of adaptation. Fleeing un-inhabitable regions is also a form of adaptation – but these “adaptations” will not mean that things will be as pleasant as before. Another adaptation is learning to get by on one fifth of the water you used to – possible, but it represents a new kind of poverty – what good is money if it can’t buy you water, clean air and a livable space? That’s what we’re sacrificing so that our outdated fossil-fueled economic system can continue to limp along – which, we are told, is required for our prosperity. Fossil fuels are just cheaper than renewables, say the controllers of the monopolitic, anti-competitive coal fired electric utility system.

    Speaking of the free market, Walt, how do you reconcile that with the fact that the fossil fuel industry, both oil and coal, operates as a cartel system, not as a free market system? These cartels control media and academics in the United States, which is why there are no renewable energy research programs to speak of, and which is also why no media outlets in the United States are covering the International Renewable Energy Agency, or giving much time to the upcoming Copenhagen climate conference. It’s funny that the free-market fundamentalists (often in the pay of utilities and oil magnates) have such a huge blind spot – I think it’s called doublethink, defined as the ability to maintain mutually inconsistent viewpoints – such as working for a cartel while promoting free-market capitalism.

    You do see some reporting – but only from a limited number of outlets, for example, try this:

    Developer plans all-solar city
    Published: April 11, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    FORT MYERS, Fla., April 11 (UPI) — A Florida developer says he wants to build a 19,500-home city powered entirely by solar energy.

    Babcock Ranch will be developed by Kitson & Partners on 17,000 acres northeast of Fort Myers, Fla. The developer said it will be the “first city on Earth powered by zero-emission solar energy,” The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

    The city will include the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant, to be operated by Florida Power & Light. The facility will cost about $300 million.

    “We’re out to prove that it works economically,” developer Syd Kitson was quoted as saying. “And it’s the right thing to do for the long-term solutions in this country.”

    The newspaper said researchers are working to develop storage capability for sunlight-generated power since solar electricity is available only during daytime hours.

    Solar panels to power the city will sit on 350 acres within the development. The newspaper said more than half of the city’s 17,000 acres will be permanently protected as greenways and open space, and will adjoin the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve, which has been purchased by the state.

    That’s what real adaptation and mitigation looks like.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 12 Apr 2009 @ 8:43 AM

  54. P.S. A little history… in 1993 the U.S. government and the National Academy of Sciences initiated a national biological survey program, which was immediately attacked by Gingrich and cohort. Then, as now, the change in government to one more open to examining concerns about climate and biodiversity lead to a huge increase in public relations efforts by the resource extraction and pollution industries – the “Wise Use Movement” set up by the coal lobby, i.e. the Western Fuels Association, is a good example. Perhaps as a result, the National Biological Survey never became an independent institution, as the NAS suggested:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=A4wrAAAAYAAJ&dq

    Now, when the next administration took over, the remnants of the National Biological Survey had been transferred to the USGS, and even that was deemed unacceptable – a USGS researcher was quickly fired for posting a map of caribou calving grounds in Alaska (happened to overlap with oil exploration wants). Here is the researcher’s description of the event:

    I strongly believe that the termination of my position by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) was a gross over-reaction due to the political considerations USGS is currently operating under with regard to caribou and development for oil within Area 1002 in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    Over the last three years I created one of the largest global atlas collections on the Internet depicting animal distribution, vegetation, protected areas, and satellite images. This resource was removed from the Internet when I was dismissed.

    http://www.peer.org/docs/gs/anwr_maps.pdf

    Not exactly an industry with very much credibility, with their long track record of dishonesty, deception, bribery, environmental pollution, human rights abuses and fraud – which is why they need PR people to sell their lies to the public. I wonder how Edelman pitched it to the American Petroleum Institute…

    “You guys have zero credibility – opinion surveys show that your trust and approval ratings are about as low as they can go. If anyone ever needed our independent, “third-party services”, you guys do.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 12 Apr 2009 @ 9:24 AM

  55. John (43):

    You’re probably wanting maps of the changes that have already occurred. I’m not aware of anything comprehensive. For current, and modeled future, distributions of the potential habitat (not the actual occurrences) of eastern U.S. tree and bird species, due to climatic changes alone, under different scenarios and climate models, check out Iverson and Prasad’s map atlases: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas/

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 12 Apr 2009 @ 9:58 AM

  56. Ike,

    I see the same landscape you see. These are powerful interests, and let’s face reality: there are no economically feasible alternatives that can be snapped into place in the short term.

    I’ll tell you one project that I think has to happen here in the U.S.: We need to completely upgrade the electric grid. Too much energy is lost in transmission, making it impractical to ship electricity from deserts, for example, to cities and suburbs, but deserts are where it makes sense to build the wind farms and solar arrays that will replace fossil fuels in the long run.

    I would also point to the Green Freedom project at Los Alamos (http://www.lanl.gov/news/newsbulletin/pdf/Green_Freedom_Overview.pdf) as evidence of the sort of forward thinking which will be needed.

    The “magic bullet”, if there is one, and which is well worth finding: to find ways to draw down atmospheric CO2 while at the same time, incremental changes in fossil fuel usage bring down the emissions. No need for shock therapy. Now, is such a thing possible? Sure. If we set it as a goal and put the resources behind it, could we get there? I would bet on that. Human ingenuity is a powerful resource.

    My point for some time now is that human history is not marked by great leaps backward – unless forced upon them, with attendant widespread misery. Human history is defined rather by great leaps forward – and fossil fuel combustion was one such leap.

    We need a new leap forward and we need it very soon. I have enormous confidence in our ability to accomplish that.

    At the same time, I have zero confidence in emissions reduction as a successful mitigation strategy, success being defined as warding off ice sheet instability.

    I think we need geo-engineering to avoid that. In fact, I’m certain of it.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 12 Apr 2009 @ 10:30 AM

  57. I have seen more differences in summer where I live (Berkeley) than in spring. Sunrise became normal in the late 90s—in the “old days”, the summer sun would emerge from the clouds sometime after noon, except when it wouldn’t. Red fire warnings are posted in early June rather than late August. The end of fall, marked by strong winds from the east, is now in November, even late November, rather than early October, and the winds have been weaker.

    Comment by Karen Street — 12 Apr 2009 @ 10:37 AM

  58. That’s what real adaptation and mitigation looks like.

    Actually, no, that’s called bulldozing the swamp that nurtures you. He’s a private developer. You’ll just have to trust me that he doesn’t have nature’s best interests at heart. But you can continue defending him [edit]

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 Apr 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  59. > pine beetles

    On my litte post-forest-fire revegetation project, after its first fire in over 40 years, we saw a lot of beetles — we also promptly saw a whole lot more fence lizards. I was collecting beetles for http://www.sbnature.org/collections/invert/entom/cbpfieldwork_db.php and the first year after the fire, when I’d peel up a strip of bark on a fire-killed oak looking for interesting beetles, the fence lizards would rush in and snap the beetles up before I could get to them. Fearless little lizards. Those, of course, fed a lot of hawks.

    We saw downy woodpeckers and flickers increasing in in the next few years, especially after a second little lightning fire, and saw more nest holes in the snags left standing (all around us they’d done ‘salvage logging’ — using a bulldozer, scraping and piling all the unsalable burnable material, burning it, and poking in little nursery Ponderosa pines, usual Dep’t of Agriculture farm protpcol — so the wildlife wasn’t as welcome there).

    Thank goodness for the DDT ban, or we wouldn’t have the birds to take care of the beetles.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  60. “Many of the effects being witness in the natural world may not be completely caused by the burning of fossil Fuels.”

    As I’ve pointed out before, denialists seem to have this weird dichotomy (probably a projection problem) that they insist that the AGW proponents have CO2 as the SOLE FACTOR for warming

    Mark, chill, EL is no denialist, and he goes to pains to try to avoid being misunderstood.

    EL is simply pointing out that direct rape of ecosystems may be causing more ecological damage than CO2-forced warming. Eric’s reasoned inline response would indicate that Eric understood what was being said.

    EL, in addition to what Eric said, I’d add that mitigation efforts in the form of creating habitat reserves, etc, have been predicated on climate remaining more or less stable for a long time. Rapid warming is undermining this strategy, to the point where here in the US, at least, conservation organizations and federal agencies are scrambling to try to figure out just how bad the next few decades are likely to be.

    Comment by dhogaza — 12 Apr 2009 @ 11:36 AM

  61. Eric,

    Recommend correcting paragraph 4 of your posting. The birds should be “Kingfishers,” not “Kingfishes.”

    Comment by Dan Eldredge — 12 Apr 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  62. Good to see people talking about CCS again. A friend of mine has been working in this area for years now. Lots of good info on his site.

    http://www.eprida.com

    We are trying to put together strategies for larger scale implementation.

    It is a very exciting area.

    I can’t resist this: Captcha: ‘New start’

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Apr 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  63. Slioch (45) et al.:

    There is indeed a new centralized effort to coordinate research, education and outreach on phenology in the United States. Though we are far behind the European nations, the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) went live in August 2007, and as of March this year started collecting contemporary data on phenology of plants across the nation; an animal phenology monitoring program is under development.

    We collaborate with existing science and observation networks (e.g., NSF’s National Ecological Observatory Network), land management agencies (e.g., National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service), NGOs (e.g., The Wildlife Society, The Wilderness Society), citizen observations programs (e.g., Monarch Watch, Great Sunflower Project, Cornell’s programs), and the remote sensing phenology community to form a national database on phenology. Learn more about our structure, function and mission at

    http://www.usanpn.org/?q=national-phenology-network

    In short, we seek contemporary data on plant (and later animal) activity from volunteer observers across the country, but are developing a module to discover, ingest and serve historic (legacy) datasets that will provide a baseline for assessing impacts of climate change on natural ecological systems.

    We also hope to help coordinate the remote sensing phenology community; the paper by Michael White et al (Global Change Biology in press) referenced in #27 (and thereafter) above, is a first step. As it turns out, there are 10 algorithms that have been developed and used to ‘determine’ start of spring from times series of vegetation indices (e.g., NDVI); the intermodel comparison asked contributors to work with a consistent dataset (platform, time period). Early results suggest that we need to agree on standard terminology for assessments of start of season (not to mention end of season, etc.).

    We also plan to serve as a clearinghouse for images, and are developing a comprehensive bibliography for articles related to phenology.

    The USA-NPN is a community effort, but the activities of the National Coordinating Office of USA-NPN are supported by US National Science Foundation, US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and NASA, NOAA, EPA and several other organizations and agencies.

    Visit our web-site to learn more: http://www.usanpn.org

    Jake Weltzin
    Executive Director
    USA National Phenology Network

    Comment by Jake Weltzin — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  64. Walt Bennett Says (12 April 2009 at 10:30 AM):

    “Too much energy is lost in transmission, making it impractical to ship electricity from deserts, for example, to cities and suburbs, but deserts are where it makes sense to build the wind farms and solar arrays that will replace fossil fuels in the long run.”

    Instead, how about you damned urbanites build your solar arrays, wind farms, and nuclear plants in your own back yards, thus reducing transmission losses and saving money on power line construction, while at the same time not crapping on other peoples’ deserts, mountains, and seashores?

    Comment by James — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:09 PM

  65. Well, dhgoza, EL shouldn’t use “there isn’t just CO2, you know” because that’s handing a hand-grenade to the denialists. And, in any case, is just wrong.

    It implies that the pro side only think of CO2.

    The implication is wrong.

    And it doesn’t matter WHOSE side you’re on, you should go around being wrong, unless you’re willing to learn from it when it’s pointed out.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:13 PM

  66. Well, dhgoza, EL shouldn’t use “there isn’t just CO2, you know” because that’s handing a hand-grenade to the denialists. And, in any case, is just wrong.

    And you shouldn’t accuse people of saying things they don’t say, or holding views they don’t hold, though I won’t hold my breath, seeing as you’ve given me the same treatment in the past.

    He didn’t use those words. His post was far more nuanced, and not wrong. Read it more closely.

    It implies that the pro side only think of CO2.

    He says no such thing. He’s saying that he fears that rather than reduce CO2 emissions, governments may seek a geoengineering “magic bullet” for mitigation whose unintended consequences may be as bad or worse than the disease, because of a belief that significant cuts in CO2 emissions will be politically impossible.

    Nothing wrong with that statement at all, regardless of whether or not you agree with his judgement that political entities will try to take what they view as an easy way out of the mess.

    Comment by dhogaza — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  67. Re Eric’s in-line response (#47):
    “The problem is that climate change comes on top of everything else.”
    Perhaps also important is that climate change affects pretty much all ecosystems (though not all to the same extent), and that the effects of climate change are cumulative and expected to gradually get worse as the climate keeps warming.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:46 PM

  68. I’ll quote it again, dhgoza:

    “Many of the effects being witness in the natural world may not be completely caused by the burning of fossil Fuels.”

    Why do you think that sentence does not carry with it “you believe incorrectly that the effects being witnessed in the natural world is completely caused by the burning of fossil fuels” as it’s message?

    Why start off with that?

    Maybe, being honest and truthful, it would read “The effects we see today are being added to by our technology”. Which is saying “yes, fossil fuels are a problem, but we’re doing more things badly than just that”.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 1:53 PM

  69. Why do you think that sentence does not carry with it “you believe incorrectly that the effects being witnessed in the natural world is completely caused by the burning of fossil fuels” as it’s message?

    Because I can read. Because I don’t try to put words into people’s mouths, or assign beliefs to them that they don’t hold.

    Maybe, being honest and truthful, it would read “The effects we see today are being added to by our technology”.

    There’s nothing untruthful or dishonest about the statement “many of the effects we’re seeing may not be completely caused by the burning of fossil fuels”. Nada.

    Maybe, being honest and truthful, you might admit that you misread EL’s post, apologize, and move on.

    Which is saying “yes, fossil fuels are a problem, but we’re doing more things badly than just that”.

    That’s exactly what EL’s post says. Any other interpretation is either malicious or due to an inability to read.

    Quit being an ass. Apologize to EL for misreading his post and intention.

    Comment by dhogaza — 12 Apr 2009 @ 2:55 PM

  70. Would the silverbacks please consider stopping the huffing and puffing and tearing up the dandelions about who’s more right, quoting one another’s quotations of one another, and return to the topic, considering the return of spring?

    Yes, there are people who insist on being right all the time. I, for one, am one, from time to time. But repeatedly insisting on it each time one is challenged suggests insecurity. Say it, move on.

    I’m right you know.

    Now — what’s blooming where you are?

    Did you notice the phenology survey is using _dandelions_ as one of their criterion species? Dang, they started here weeks ago. Missed the mark.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2009 @ 3:14 PM

  71. Lopa Brunjes (36) — Even with tilling to typical root d4epths, about 1/2 of the carbon re-enters the active carbon cycle with a few decades. For quite permanent sequestration one needs what amounts to carbon landfills; artificial coal seams if you like.

    Barton Paul Levenson (52) — Algae obtain CO2 from the water; a typical arrangement when flue gas is availble is to bubble the flue gas through the tank; production goes way up. I know of no studies bubbling ordinary air, but I suppose this would help; there is a fuel cost for the bubbling, of course.

    I’m sure additional research, GM of appropriate species of algae, etc., will all enhance the productivity. I was just attempting to point out the scale of the required effort to mitigate by air capture alone; even if it could be made to require only 1/4 the land area, it is still an immense undertaking.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Apr 2009 @ 3:21 PM

  72. “We need a new leap forward and we need it very soon. I have enormous confidence in our ability to accomplish that.

    At the same time, I have zero confidence in emissions reduction as a successful mitigation strategy, success being defined as warding off ice sheet instability.

    I think we need geo-engineering to avoid that. In fact, I’m certain of it.” – Walt Bennett

    Walt, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that your subjective feelings of confidence and certainty are evidence or arguments for your views. To convince people here, you’re going to need something more than that.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:08 PM

  73. re: 55 Jim
    Thanks, even if they aren’t the punchy historical maps I’m looking for, thsoe area really nice atlases.

    re: 63 Jake
    Your efforts look promising, and I’ll take a look at your presentations (After taxes).

    Comment by John Mashey — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:23 PM

  74. “One swallow doesn’t make a summer”. An expression in England. English swallow migrate to here.

    I’m in Cornwall, South West England.

    My partner says she saw her first swallow today. She thinks this is “far too early”.

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  75. “…success being defined as warding off ice sheet instability.”

    Disagree. What about ocean acidification ? Monsoon failure ? Permafrost methane release ? Tsunamis from underwater clathrate methane release ? Anoxic ocean stratification ? …

    There are more things on heaven and earth…

    Comment by sidd — 12 Apr 2009 @ 4:41 PM

  76. Here in Southwest England there seems to be the view among sheep farmers – if anecdotal – that lambing is getting earlier and earlier.

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 12 Apr 2009 @ 5:00 PM

  77. Swallows: Around 11th April is probably not unusual that far south. As the swallow flies, I’m about 80-90 km north of Cornwall, perhaps, and our swallows arrive in our barn on/around 18th-23rd April usually. Anything from around 25th March onwards according to this slightly out-of-date link is normal, but it does seem to have been getting earlier.

    (The cuckoo’s a “day or two” late so far this year compared with last year.)

    Sheep: Well, the gestation period of sheep is well known. If the lambs are coming earlier then its surely because the ewes have been tupped earlier. And it’s likely they’re coming earlier because they’ve been tupped with a view to lambing in giant lambing sheds so that “spring” lambs can be got to the table earlier with, presumably, a price premium for the UK farmer.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:10 PM

  78. A lot is known about phenology [the study of the timing of natural events in the lives of living things in relation to climate.] at Kew Gardens, UK: ‘ . . Snowdrops opened around the end of February in the 1950s, but over the decades flowering has gradually become earlier, and since the 1990s they’ve opened in January. The flowering of the wild daffodil has advanced from March to January – by 41 days since records began . . ‘ : http://www.kew.org/ksheets/pdfs/K36-black.pdf

    This universal experience of British gardeners and growers explains why the reality of climate change is accepted here as it is not yet in the U.S.

    Comment by Chris Squire [UK] — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:45 PM

  79. Walt Bennett, still channeling the collective overmind of the fossil fuel industry, writes:

    I have zero confidence in emissions reduction as a successful mitigation strategy, success being defined as warding off ice sheet instability.

    I think we need geo-engineering to avoid that. In fact, I’m certain of it.

    Let me get this straight — you think we can’t possible convince the public to stop burning fossil fuels, but we can convince them to pay for some cockamamie geoengineering scheme that has never been tried before?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:47 PM

  80. James writes:

    Instead, how about you damned urbanites build your solar arrays, wind farms, and nuclear plants in your own back yards, thus reducing transmission losses and saving money on power line construction, while at the same time not crapping on other peoples’ deserts, mountains, and seashores?

    Who says those areas belong to YOU?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:50 PM

  81. “If the lambs are coming earlier then its surely because the ewes have been tupped earlier.”

    And why are they tupping earlier?
    If they could have done it before, why didn’t they do it before? I.e. what’s changed?

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:54 PM

  82. “Quit being an ass. Apologize to EL for misreading his post and intention.”

    Nope.

    As I see it, you’re wrong and EL was being either disingenuous or careless with his wording.

    Stop being an [edit] yourself and let EL talk.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  83. dgoza, whist you’re fixating on the black and white, please tell me where in post 49 where I called EL a denialist.

    It ain’t there, son.

    You going to apologise to me?

    Didn’t think so.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Apr 2009 @ 7:03 PM

  84. And why are they tupping earlier? If they could have done it before, why didn’t they do it before? I.e. what’s changed?

    My initial point, perhaps slightly poorly phrased, was that if the lambs are arriving earlier, then it is not likely for phenological reasons (at least per se), since the lambing time is managed by the farmer putting the ram in with the ewes.

    Actually, January to February is the natural time of year for the ewe to lamb. It’s not a lot to do with hard winters; sheep are hardy.

    Rather, more especially when you keep “lots” of sheep probably, it’s not the ideal time for a lamb to be born outside in the UK because the ground tends to get very wet at that time of year and then you end up with muddy fields if you put lots of sheep out to grass. This then gives a poor late spring/summer grass crop, which has a knock-on effect on lamb growth (and price to the farmer) because the ewes don’t get enough good grass to keep milk production up to a high level.

    And as I’ve already intimated, investment in large lambing sheds (even where I am, in a highland farming area), where feed is controlled, in order to supply fresh lamb to the spring/Easter market when prices are traditionally high.

    Some farmers where I am plan for end of Jan/early Feb and some plan for March/April. It all depends, as they say.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 12 Apr 2009 @ 7:52 PM

  85. Walt says:

    “There are no economically feasible alternatives that can be snapped into place in the short term.”

    Wrong, Walt. If you want an example of what can be “snapped into place in the short term”, just look at the history of the nuclear weapons and energy program in the United States – between 1945 and 1955 an entire industry was created out of scratch – with dozens of federal, state and private facilities and institutions involved – and when it comes to solar and wind, we are way past any “1945 moment” – we do not need a “Manhattan Project” for renewable energy.

    The clearest example of the political interference that prevents renewables from taking off is seen in the actions of the investor-owned coal-fired electric utilities – Southern Co. being the worst offender, but the others are not far behind.

    1) Every time a call for 15% renewable power generation is introduced, the electric utilities sabotage it in Congress.

    2) Likewise, every time Clean Air rules come up for review, the fossil fuel lobby tries to kill it.

    3) The U.S. press gives sole coverage to the coal-fired electric power lobby, and never allows equal time for renewable energy corporations to get their message across.

    You can see this last one at the New York Times and at the Washington Post, who tend to repeat your PR line:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/business/energy-environment/29renew.html

    Some experts not aligned with either camp estimate that wind power is currently more than 50 percent more expensive than power generated by a traditional coal plant. Built into the calculation is the need for utilities that rely heavily on wind power to build backup plants fired by natural gas to meet electricity demand when winds are calm….

    …For example, the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit consortium financed by investor- and publicly-owned utilities, predicted in November that even for plants coming on line in 2015, wind energy would cost nearly one-third more than coal and about 14 percent more than natural gas.

    What “non-aligned experts” is Matthew Wald talking about? Here you have the New York Times, the national paper of record, running one-sided propaganda on behalf of the coal industry and their private investors – EPRI is a coal front group. Where is the viewpoint of IRENA, etc.?

    In any case, the claim that you cannot build renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in a timely and economic manner is just false.

    Take the recent $1 trillion bailout of our banking system (much of that bailout went right into fossil fuel investments via Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley etc.).

    How much does a solar panel factory capable of 50 megawatt/year output cost? Answer: About 100 million. $1 trillion/ 100 million = 10,000. Of course, you’d want to spread the money around – so, $330 billion each for wind, solar and biofuel production.

    It is possible to build 1GW solar thermal plants, as well as home-scale rooftop PV systems – especially as efficiency of solar conversion is now approaching 20%.

    What is needed is a l-o-a-n program, obviously – how many new cars would ever have been bought without credit? Consider a bank that delivered $50,000 to a homeowner for the purchase of a stand-alone solar PV system. Instead of paying an electric bill, the homeowner pays a monthly fee to the bank – but with the advantage of fixed costs, meaning no Enron-style manipulation of the price of power is possible. The banks don’t do this because they are already major players in the coal mine-railroad-utility system – guaranteed monopolistic profits, as per the free-market enthusiasts at the New York Times and Washington Post. Suffer from cognitive dissonance, do we?

    Do we even need 3,000 solar PV factories? We only have about three in the U.S. right now, I believe – but then, we don’t have any academic programs – how many colleges in the U.S. have a nuclear engineering program? How many have a solar engineering program?

    The really interesting thing is how academics sidestep this question – they just don’t want to talk about it. Instead, they go around giving talks about climate change while ignoring the obvious solutions that are right under their nose.

    Academics really ought to sit down with a copy of Washburn’s “University Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education” – and so should the general public. For example,

    In 2002, NYU also recruited eight prestigious economists thought to command salaries of $200,000 to $300,000 each – a coup that even made a splash in the popular news media

    There is not a single school in the U.S. that has eight renewable energy experts on staff – I mean technical experts, not policy wonks. There is not a single renewable energy program that has institution level status outside the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle, the main sponsor of the fraudulent FutureGen project, and Bechtel, the global fossil fuel and water engineering firm.

    I don’t see anything “honorable” about that, despite all the “honors” that academics like to bestow on one another – there is no honor in hypocrisy, sorry. As we all know, academic freedom is a myth within the corporate university. There’s a world for scientists who keep their mouths shut about this trend out of fear of losing their own careers – “fellow travelers”, I believe. Am I breaking some rule? Perhaps – but I’d suggest reading this, and this, before complaining about that. “Public-private partnerships” are not exactly a new phenomenon.

    Yes, spring is arriving earlier. Yes, the poles are melting. Yes, biological diversity is plummeting and extinction rates are increasing. Yes, the U.S. government gutted the National Biological Survey and has said nothing about re-introducing it – at least not yet.

    And yes, we have all the technology needed to drop fossil fuels and switch to renewables, and yes, it is economically feasible, and yes, doing so will cause Warren Buffet to lose his shirt due to his large investments in tar sands oil and coal-fired electric utilites, and it’s unlikely that renewables will be anywhere near as profitable as fossil fuels, because with solar and wind, the fuel is free.

    Anyway, Walt, enough of that – you seem to be well-informed, perhaps you could tell me how FutureGen works, technically speaking – I certainly can’t find anyone else willing to do so. The most likely explanation for that is that NeverGen is one of the largest frauds perpetrated on the public in the past few years.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 12 Apr 2009 @ 8:00 PM

  86. Walt, you are advocating geo-engineering, but what kind? Ocean fertilization with iron–doesn’t work? Sulfate aerosols? Might work in the short term, but it will make ocean acidification worse and will require continual replenishment? Carbon capture from the atmosphere–might work, but requires a huge scale that may not be feasible.

    So, specifics, Walt. ‘Til then, you might as well be saying you want to rely on magic or space aliens.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Apr 2009 @ 8:17 PM

  87. [Response: It is perfectly legitimate to ask whether climate change is the greatest threat to ecosystems. In many cases — perhaps most cases — the answer is no, at least in the short term. Clearcutting, pollution, damming of rivers, etc. are far more destructive. Scientists are perfectly aware of this. The problem is that climate change comes on top of everything else.–eric]

    I would completely agree with you that climate change is greatest threat in the long term, but some of the short term effects may be dramatic enough to warrant more discussion.

    RE-49-
    “As I’ve pointed out before, denialists seem to have this weird dichotomy (probably a projection problem) that they insist that the AGW proponents have CO2 as the SOLE FACTOR for warming.”

    What exactly am I in denial about? I’m a critical person by nature, and I look at problems from many different angles and standpoints. I personally think it’s a strength, not a weakness. While CO2 is a very important factor in global warming, there exist other factors that may be equally as important to mankind; however, that does not mean that CO2 doesn’t need to be dealt with, to the contrary. Our environment is getting flat out raped by technology and over population. We are completely depleting resources that have taken millions of years to develop, and the effects may be very severe.

    “As to your request that other elements are talked about, read the name of this site. If you want to talk about geoengineering and its results, ignoring the engineers themselves, that’s a political issue: what actions should be taken having been informed by the science (which is what this site is for, discussing what the science is telling us).”

    I think other issues that are relevant to climate change needs to be discussed. The proposal of Geo-engineering to control climate is a very important issue because it’s being taken far too serious by governments as an effective solution to this problem. It sounds like a simply solution to a profound problem, and I fear governments are going to buy into it. They are being lobbied by powerful oil companies, scientist are screaming, and a option exists on the table (in their view) to satisfy both groups. The consequences of Geo-engineering the climate could be astounding, and is a poorly understood area of science. If any engineers wish to debate the safety of this idea, I will more then happily put up an argument. If such a scientific experiment goes wrong, mankind has to live with the results.

    RE60 – “EL, in addition to what Eric said, I’d add that mitigation efforts in the form of creating habitat reserves, etc, have been predicated on climate remaining more or less stable for a long time. Rapid warming is undermining this strategy, to the point where here in the US, at least, conservation organizations and federal agencies are scrambling to try to figure out just how bad the next few decades are likely to be.”

    I live in a mountainous location that is called home by fireflies. They are very interesting insects that science knows very little of. When I was a child, these insects would come out and light up the night; however, they are now nowhere to be found. They are going extinct all over the world. Some people may regard the firefly as insignificant, I regard them as a very clear warning. Everything that depended upon the firefly is now in danger, and everything that partially depended upon the firefly is now more vulnerable. Over the last decade, I’ve seen large changes in nature first hand. Nature is sending a very clear message to mankind, and its message may be falling on deaf ears.

    RE67 – “Perhaps also important is that climate change affects pretty much all ecosystems (though not all to the same extent), and that the effects of climate change are cumulative and expected to gradually get worse as the climate keeps warming.”

    But some of the short term effects can kills us as well and possibly sooner. How many building blocks can we pull from the foundations of our ecosystems before it falls down? We may very well kill off our ecosystems before global warming has the chance.

    Comment by EL — 12 Apr 2009 @ 8:59 PM

  88. Erratum: Fourth paragraph, second line: That would be Kingfishers – not Kingfishes. :-)

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 12 Apr 2009 @ 9:48 PM

  89. Back when the world was warmer in the early Pliocene and especially pre-mid-Miocene, there may have been superhurricanes but we aren’t sure. With obvious implication for the future. Sea salt and plankton is transported inland by large hurricanes: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030425071845.htm
    By examining prospecting soil cores it should be possible to determine if there is a fossil/sea-salt distribution that tails off the further inland of the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast you go.

    After a couple flaky posts I think I may have just made a genuine AGW science contribution :)

    Comment by Phillip Huggan — 12 Apr 2009 @ 11:02 PM

  90. Re: Lawrence Brown. I share your sence of urgency 100%. I am equally frustrated about all this senseless discussion on trying to prove with certainty that global warming is due to anthropenic means. With the likes of exxon et-al muddying the waters and trying to delude the public into thinking otherwise. With the fate of the arctic basin and associated wildlife..that’s pretty much a forgone conclusion. We have at least 60 years of global warming locked in. In those 60 years the antarctic continant and penninusla will be barely recognisable from today let alone 50 years ago. About the only ice shelf to survive would have to be the ross. Although if effects of warming ocean send an offshoot warm current past or even under the ross ice shelf then…??? We all know what this will do with all lowlying communities on the planet. This is why I am sick of all this dithering and polititions puting the economic cost of CC mitigation as an excuse to do virtually nothing. Without strong and immediate action NOW the world economies will collapse anyway. I am very pleased with china..the old argument was that it would follow what america is doing which since the last couple of months under dumbya was diddly squat..china is taking the lead and pushing ahead with an aggressive alternative energy program..It may well be that america will have to follow china to self sustainability (if we ever get there??)..Tell you what! that will be the best thing to happen to the giant american ego more than a century.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 13 Apr 2009 @ 1:39 AM

  91. #63 Jake Weltzin

    Thanks for that. Glad to see things are getting going at last.

    #21 Theo Hopkins

    “My partner says she saw her first swallow today. She thinks this is “far too early”.” Not so. See:

    http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/map/current.htm?rsid=137&reid=12&ry=2009&rs=S

    Swallows have not got to me yet, but then I’m up in the Scottish Highlands.

    You should join:

    http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/

    and start recording your observations.

    Giving greater attention to the changing seasons adds spice (not to say seasoning) to life, and provides useful information. My records already show that spring is coming earlier.

    Comment by Slioch — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:36 AM

  92. “My initial point, perhaps slightly poorly phrased, was that if the lambs are arriving earlier, then it is not likely for phenological reasons (at least per se), since the lambing time is managed by the farmer putting the ram in with the ewes. ”

    Well we still have the problem of why this change in procedure is taking place.

    Why didn’t the farmers put the rams in with the ewes this early before? If it would have worked, then farmers the world over would have worked out how early it was possible to do so and used it (in order to maximise profit).

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 4:04 AM

  93. http://books.google.com/books?id=mp-aAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA243&lpg=PA243&dq=transpiration+carbon+dioxide+stomata&source=bl&ots=T4a5p76l8p&sig=GCOTBDCceeocnZe8lKiqde5pUk4&hl=en&ei=MJDiSe-gEKbmtgPe4aipCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6
    An interesting read, but at $100 a copy, a bit outside my pocket and I have doubts that my local library will have a copy.

    Comment by Adam Gallon — 13 Apr 2009 @ 4:28 AM

  94. #77 and #93 – I have tentatively noticed a change in sheep/lambing behaviour also. It is, as pointed out above, complicated by management practices potentially masking natural cycles. But oestrus, cycling, in ewes, is controlled by environmental factors. Most notably day length, but with considerable input from nutrition and climatic conditions. I think that ewes (at least in the breed I am familiar with) are beginning to cycle earlier and are therefore (ram available) able to lamb earlier and earlier. This would be difficult to prove, but there must be many of these kinds of observations being made by farmers all over the world. Trouble is they may notice something on their own farm, or even in a whole district, but not be sure what is happening precisely, nor how it fits into a bigger picture.

    Comment by David Horton — 13 Apr 2009 @ 5:24 AM

  95. So far as I can ascertain, the “climate” references to sheep refer to whether they are species in cold, temperate or hot climes, rather than to changes in oestrus brought about by phenological progression.

    In most UK sheep, at least in my upland area, lambing time is all down to when the ram is put in with the ewes (which actually induces oestrus in the ewe in most cases). That is managed by keeping the ewes from sight or smell of a ram for about 2 months prior to tupping and to when the (usually hired) ram is available to do his stuff.

    One factor in insemination success by ram’s may be the temperature on the days the rams are in with the ewes, since rams’ sperm production is/can be susceptible to small changes in temperature. Given the vagaries of the British spring/summer/autumn weather, that is likely to be variable to say the least. This being so, then surely diurnal temperature effects will swamp any likely seasonal phenological progression in oestrus timing. And the other big factor in ewes entering oestrus is day length, as pointed out. That is the same, year in, year out.

    I will bend the year of a couple of my sheep farming neighbours, once they’ve finished lambing this season.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:24 AM

  96. For those who have been following the progress of the George Will debacle at the Washington Post, the Post has finally published its own editorial. It doesn’t mention Will, and it concerns itself with a single issue (Arctic ice), but still.

    Global warming is doing a number on Arctic Sea ice. The [NSIDC/NASA] report noted that the Arctic winter was 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. This and other factors are causing the surface ice to melt. That ice is vital for reflecting the light and heat of the sun. Without it, the heat warms the Arctic Ocean, which then melts the ice below the surface of the water.

    It remains to be seen whether or not Will will begin his next column with “Morons!”.

    Comment by Chris Dunford — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:25 AM

  97. CNN iReports has a good story here about a graduation speech to the class of 2099. It’s about all this, too, in a way. View it on CNN site here:
    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-242455

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 13 Apr 2009 @ 7:11 AM

  98. There is a northern-US folk phenomenon that some climate researcher should track more closely: many communities have “ice-out” raffles wherein people take bets on the time of ice-melt on local bodies of water (kinda like a football pool). Besides being an amusing way to celebrate the coming of spring, ice-out and ice safety is a big issue in northern communities. It’s been noted that the winning guesses have been trending earlier. There could be value for some researcher to survey the local papers for records of ice-out times over the years, and correlate that with other data.

    Comment by Bruce — 13 Apr 2009 @ 9:24 AM

  99. #40 James
    I googled Sierra ski openings for this year (2008-9) and found that Mammoth opened Nov 3rd, Lake Tahoe opened Nov 5 and Boreal opened Nov 6th. That seems quite a bit closer to October than the December openings you reference in your post. Although some ski resorts are closing up shop in the next few weeks, it’s not for lack of snow. The economy has kept away skiers so it does not make economic sense to keep resorts open even though there is a plethora of snow.
    The Colorado Ski season has opened pretty consistently for the last 15 years on or about October 15th at either A-Basin or Loveland Pass.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by william — 13 Apr 2009 @ 10:02 AM

  100. #90 Coleman
    In exactly what areas other than rice production is China self sustaining from a resource perspective? China is incapable of firing their coal plants and running their steel mills without huge imports of coal, coke, iron order and scrap from the USA and all over the world. In addition, China is the world’s second largest oil importer after the USA and will probably overtake the USA sometime in the next 10-15 years.

    Comment by william — 13 Apr 2009 @ 10:29 AM

  101. “In most UK sheep, at least in my upland area, lambing time is all down to when the ram is put in with the ewes (which actually induces oestrus in the ewe in most cases)”

    So why is it changing?

    Hav ethe farmers suddenly thought “Hey, I could just introduce the rams to the ewes and get more lambs born earlier”???

    If it was, how did they not manage to think of that before?

    I mean, it’s kind of obvious that sheep won’t breed until AFTER they’ve tupped. What is saying so bringing to the party? That gestation follows s-e-x? Except of course in the case of Mary, mother of Jesus…

    So what new insight do you think you’re bringing? Or are you blinded by this flash of the obvious?

    Yes, ram meets, ewe and THEN junior is born.

    Why is it chaning?

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 10:53 AM

  102. Where I live, flower planting has been pushed back by one week over the last 20 years due to night time frost. So the planet may be getting warmer but also the weather is less dependable.

    Comment by Blog On Smog — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:12 AM

  103. Well, I got another “it’s in the 30s here in April in ___(Anytown, USA)___, so much for global warming.”

    So here is what I answered (the person ss in PA):

    There are several possibilities — (1) GW may increase wild swings in weather & perhpaps give us cold snaps late into spring; (2) the ocean conveyor is slowing, bringing less warm water up the northeast coast, so the climate there may actually get a bit cooler (tho I don’t know if that wd affect PA); (3) GW has to do with GLOBAL AVERAGE temps – if you don’t know what “average” (mean) means you can get a basic stat book and find out. Or, ask the scientists at RealClimate.org

    I’m thinking #3 is the best answer, but not sure…..

    Anyway, after posting that, I went ahead and copied and pasted the entry above and sent it to the person…about April being the new May.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:14 AM

  104. Re: #86

    Ray,

    I will take your question as a hopeful sign, that you at least (and at last) acknowledge the need to keep our eggs in several baskets.

    My direct answer to your question is: let’s fund as much research on that as we can. Let’s raise public/private donations toward projects which ask the question, “How can we efficiently remove carbon from the atmosphere?”

    And who knows, maybe the AHA! moment for carbon CAPTURE will emerge in that process. Maybe we can attack the problem from both ends with the same effort.

    But seriously and graciously, I want to thank you for asking the question.

    And I did make reference, either here or in the Wilkins thread, to some ideas I posted about in my blog. There are ideas out there, and ideally we would identify some that do not lead to more unknowns, such as the iron seeding idea, which scares me.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  105. re 103.

    Say that there was a warmer day in December. Does that mean that that day in december wasn’t in winter?

    Weather != Climate

    And when it is a really hot day, pop back and say “so I guess you’ll be agreeing that it’s AGW, then?”

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:41 AM

  106. Ike,

    I’m with you down the line, let’s be doing all of that. But you know and I know, and you made clear reference to, none of that can happen in the short term. You know what you call the sort of economic upheaval you described? Revolution.

    So, for this to happen while preserving the system we have today…is gonna take some time. Certainly ten years, maybe twenty. What will happen in the meantime? BAU.

    That’s the reality we have to start from.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:44 AM

  107. Re: #79,

    Bart, with all due respect and the utmost sincerity, you are coming across as completely incapable of critical thought. Is that because of some burning need to find ways to refute me? If so, how about laying down your sword and let’s just be two people talking, OK?

    Because the public is not sold on massive cutbacks in fossil fuel consumption, it will not happen in time to avoid the ice stability tipping point. Do you agree or disagree?

    Whether or not you do, it is pretty likely to be true, at least enough to where it makes no sense to rely on that as a solution. Certainly, at this point, solutions that require massive international agreement seems to be a long way from being something to rely on.

    That’s the reality we live in, is it not? That’s the starting point from where I attempt to have this discussion about, quite simply, the need to either (a) find a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere or (b) plan for several hundred years of rapid sea level rise.

    As for funding it, I have a sneaking hunch the public will follow that logic.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 11:49 AM

  108. “Bart, with all due respect and the utmost sincerity, you are coming across as completely incapable of critical thought.”

    Well, it should be easy for you to recognise that in others.

    Pity the mirror won’t reflect that well.

    What WILL work without international agreement is reduction in use. The other countries won’t look at your country and think “hey, they’re not using all 92trillion barrels, we’ll but the 8trillion they’ve stopped using and burn them. For what? I dunno, but we have to make up the difference!”.

    After all, doing so means they’d be paying more money to some other country whilst your trade deficit has gone down.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 12:06 PM

  109. Ike Solem wrote: “How much does a solar panel factory capable of 50 megawatt/year output cost? Answer: About 100 million.”

    Nanosolar has a production tool that “prints” 14% efficient CIGS solar cells, with a proprietary nanoparticle “ink” on rolls of flexible substrate. It has an annual output of 1 Gigawatt and cost $1.65 million. You can see a video on their website.

    Ike Solem wrote: “Do we even need 3,000 solar PV factories? We only have about three in the U.S. right now, I believe …”

    There are many more than three PV factories in the USA. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “In 2008 domestic PV cell manufacturing capacity grew 65 percent to 685 MW and production grew 53 percent to 414 MW.”

    Walt Bennett wrote: “You know what you call the sort of economic upheaval you described? Revolution.”

    I call it the New Industrial Revolution of the 21st Century. It will indeed be a profoundly transformative revolutionary change, from an energy economy based on mining and selling and burning expensive, dirty, dangerous, scarce fuel, to one based on manufacturing and selling the technology for harvesting ubiquitous, plentiful, endless, clean, FREE wind and solar energy. The giant “energy” corporations of the future will more closely resemble Intel than ExxonMobil.

    This revolution will of course represent a massive transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel sector to other energy technologies, which is of course why the fossil fuel corporations are doing everything they can to delay it as long as possible (and have been doing so for decades, since long before global warming become a “hot” issue).

    Walt Bennett wrote: “So, for this to happen while preserving the system we have today …”

    You know, when the personal computer began to really catch on, there were people who wanted to “preserve a system” based on dumb terminals connected to mainframes. It’s a good thing they lost out, isn’t it?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Apr 2009 @ 12:17 PM

  110. Will someone explain to me why a longer growing season is bad for plants, animals and humans? I’ve always associated death and famine with long cold winters and short growing seasons.
    Also please define what year in the 20th Century was normal for the onset of spring. Any location will do.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by william — 13 Apr 2009 @ 12:36 PM

  111. Walt Bennett, It looks as if you are largely favoring carbon-reduction geo-engineering solutions. In my opinion, that is the ONLY way to go for now, since that is the least uncertain portion of the models. That’s essential from the point of view of ensuring both efficacy and modeling unintended consequences.

    There’s only one catch. Our options for removing carbon from the atmosphere are quite limited. Terra Preta is a good option, but it is not clear how large a scale it can be done on. There are no carbon-eating trees at present and no pathway for getting them. That is why it is critical to lower carbon emissions in order to buy time and develop solutions. I do not consider reduction of fossil fuels to be the solution. Rather, I look upon it as a way of buying time so we can find a solution.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Apr 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  112. #103 Lynn Vincentnathan said

    “Well, I got another “it’s in the 30s here in April in ___(Anytown, USA)___, so much for global warming.”

    So here is what I answered”

    Maybe the following site would be useful for that kind of enquiry, though I know nothing about its authenticity. The few times I’ve looked at it there seems to be places with both record high and record low temperatures recorded, usually more of the former.

    http://mapcenter.hamweather.com/records/yesterday/us.html?c=maxtemp,mintemp,lowmax,highmin&s=20090211&e=20090211

    Comment by Slioch — 13 Apr 2009 @ 1:07 PM

  113. Good grief, let’s go ’round back and count them rather than argue only from faith and belief, eh?

    There is a natural timing to this, and feral sheep are being observed by field biologists. Just as a pointer, someone else may care enough to dig further into this one:

    Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Factors that affect fertility in a feral population of sheep
    Volume 95 Issue 2, Pages 163 – 174
    Published Online: 15 May 2008

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120151396/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    Other tidbits:

    “… Spring lambing coincides with the natural breeding and lambing seasons. With spring lambing, breeding and lambing periods tend to be more condensed, because ewes and rams are most fertile during a fall mating season.”
    http://www.sheep101.info/201/lambingsystem.html

    “We believe we already have evidence of climate change beginning to impact on sheep farmers. Over the last five years, demand for milk replacer has extended into early winter/autumn and spring/early summer, indicating a lengthening of the lambing season.”
    http://www.farmersguardian.com/story.asp?sectioncode=33&storycode=15560&featurecode=239

    The sheep ked Melophagus ovinus is a member of the parasitic Dipteran …. The ked population increase ceased at lambing…. possibly associated with climate change, and it is a notifiable disease ….
    linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0304401705001044

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  114. “Will someone explain to me why a longer growing season is bad for plants, animals and humans? I’ve always associated death and famine with long cold winters and short growing seasons.”

    Bug larvae not getting killed by very hard freezes.

    Early blooming fruit trees get major hits in fruit production if there is a freeze.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:07 PM

  115. Re: #109

    Sec,

    We agree almost entirely. Let me just state that “the system we have now” means private ownership of property and capital. You can’t just “take it” from them, you have to put policies in place which, over time, encourage the transfer to occur.

    And time is the enemy of the emissions reduction scenario, and that brings us back around to the reality of the situation.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:18 PM

  116. Re: #111

    Ray,

    I sort of see it the opposite. We need geo-engineering solutions to buy us time until we can flatten emissions (they do not cause atmospheric levels to rise or fall). Hansen wants a plateau of 350 ppm, and admits we have to draw down CO2 levels “manually” to get there.

    So, we agree that both have to happen. Of the two, I have been saying for quite some time that I have zero faith in emissions reduction as a near term solution, and since we need near term solutions, that only leaves geo-engineering.

    As for lack of ideas, that is exactly why I am blaring the trumpet. We need better ideas, we need them in real time, and we need the highest levels of government to recognize this.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:22 PM

  117. “There are many more than three PV factories in the USA. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “In 2008 domestic PV cell manufacturing capacity grew 65 percent to 685 MW and production grew 53 percent to 414 MW.”

    If you want to seriously track solar PV capacity, there are better sources:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/solarphotv/solarpv.html

    In particular, you might want to look at import of crystalline solar PV panels to the U.S., 1999-2007

    Then, take a look at what countries they are coming from: Japan, Germany, and China.

    It’s interesting that Australia, with one of the world’s leading photovoltaic research centers, is not on the list – but that’s because of the political power of the Australian coal lobby. The difference between Australia and the U.S. is that in the U.S. both research and production were suppressed, while in Australia it was just production – so Australian researchers are finding opportunities in China, Japan, Germany – and California, despite attempted interference by fossil fuel interests in the federal government.

    California’s renewable energy push is a lot like the growth of Silicon Valley and associated industries in Southern California – with one big difference – no support from the University of California, Stanford, and the other major academic institutions.

    The corporate takeover of the academic system is relatively new, based on Bayh Dole technology patenting and licensing laws put in place in the 1980s. Those laws allowed for exclusive control of academic patents by private “partners” – essentially turning many science departments into the equivalent of corporate research parks, and never mind conflict of interest between business agendas, trade secrets, the open flow of information, and academic freedom.

    Imagine, if you will, that IBM had major public-private partnerships with the University of California and Stanford back in the 1970s – would those institutions have played such a large role in the growth of Silicon Valley, or would they have strictly dedicated all research efforts to maintaining the mainframe model?

    Despite the claims of academic administrators and patent-bearing professors (who have clear financial incentives to promote Bayh-Dole), these “technology transfer agreements” do more to stifle innovation and the growth of new technology than they do to promote it – and there is not a more illustrative example than that of renewable energy research at Stanford and the University of California. This has now become perhaps the most important issue in ensuring that California develops a world-scale renewable energy sector – getting rid of Bayh-Dole and kicking the fossil fuel corporations and their financial sponsors out of the academic system.

    Academic institutions are officially opposed to this, and are diehard backers of Bayh-Dole. You can get a little background here:
    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-25223403_ITM

    However, there are now some large institutions who understand that excessive patenting is stifling technological innovation, and they are battling it out with the IBM-pharmaceutical-DuPont crowd, who think they can run the world via control of intellectual property. I imagine few people have heard of it:

    http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2009/03/feinstein-faces-patent-reform.php

    On one side you have Google, Microsoft and other tech firms who find that their every move is being restricted by endless networks of frivolous patent lawsuits – including a whole lot of academic lawsuits aimed at “protecting intellectual property”. That’s actually the opposite of promoting technology transfer, which is what academic institutions use to promote Bayh-Dole. They’ve also spent the last decade or so loading up their upper administrative ranks with diehard Bayh-Dole supporters – just look at the list of UC Regents, for example. In fact, Google is behaving far more responsibly than the UC system is – they have their own independent research facilities along the Bell Labs model, they use solar panels to reduce their grid energy consumption, and they certainly do more to promote the open flow of information than does the corporate academic system, which is heading in the opposite direction – talk about a bizarre situation.

    On the other side, you have the academic institutions, drug makers, and large conglomerates like General Electric. The result is described here:

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/87/i15/8715notw9.html

    http://www.generalpatent.com/2009/04/01/leahy-specter-and-feinstein-reach-compromise-patent-reform

    As far as I can tell, it appears to leave a lot of it up to the courts – and Feinstein included language that will increase the royalties paid to professors and academic institutions via their taxpayer-financed patent holdings, which is not too surprising since her husband is deeply involved with the UC system.

    Fixing this problem is going to require a major political effort and a complete restructuring of the upper levels of the UC system – but it has to happen, or you’ll see steadily increasing fraud and corruption and just generally poor science.

    I wonder what the modern cynical academic would say to people like Rutherford and Thompson…

    It seems probable that J.J. Thompson sat eager young Ernest Rutherford down in the darkly paneled rooms of the Gothic Revival Cavendish Laboratory that Clerk Maxwell had founded, at the university where Newton wrote his great Principia, and kindly told him he could not serve God and Mammon at the same time… but if Rutherford gave up commercial wealth for holy science, he won the atom in exchange. He found its constituent parts and named them. – Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

    Not that there’s anything wrong with commercial success – but not on the taxpayer’s dime, and certainly not while reclining in a tenured academic position, and we haven’t even mentioned insider trading and conflict of interest in the investment area, either.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:38 PM

  118. Walt Bennett wrote: “I have zero faith in emissions reduction as a near term solution, and since we need near term solutions, that only leaves geo-engineering.”

    I must admit that I have not read every comment you have posted here, but in those that I have read, I have never seen you offer any argument that geo-engineering could plausibly be a “near term solution” — particularly if emissions continue to increase, and to accelerate, as they have been in recent years.

    You just keep asserting that geo-engineering can be implemented and can address the problem more quickly and more effectively than emissions reductions. You never explain how or why this would be true.

    You repeatedly assert that the world will simply not agree to take the steps necessary to reduce emissions — steps which are well understood, well known, which have numerous other environmental benefits, as well as economic benefits. Yet you simultaneously seem to believe that the whole world will unanimously agree on quick implementation of geo-engineering schemes — which are entirely speculative, whose detrimental side-effects are unknown and could be catastrophic, whose economic costs are also unknown, which don’t address all the problems caused by emissions (e.g. ocean acidification), and which might have to be sustained and carefully managed on a global scale over time scales of decades to centuries.

    Nor have you spelled out specifically what geo-engineering schemes you advocate.

    Please forgive me if I have missed something and please feel free to post links to prior comments where you have in fact addressed these points.

    But from what I have seen, your entire “argument” consists of repeated unsupported assertions that we must do anything except reduce the use of fossil fuels, primarily because you think that the international community will never agree to adopt proven, well-understood, economically beneficial steps to reduce emissions, but will quickly embrace untested, speculative geo-engineering schemes with completely unknown effectiveness, unknown side effects and unknown costs.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Apr 2009 @ 2:49 PM

  119. Walt Bennett wrote: “Let me just state that ‘the system we have now’ means private ownership of property and capital.”

    I really don’t know what you are talking about. The wind and solar energy industries consist of private, for-profit corporations, just like the fossil fuel industry.

    I know that ExxonMobil and its ilk like to brand their propaganda as “conservative” as though solar panels and wind turbines were some how ideologically “liberal”, because it pushes the buttons that get certain sorts of people all fired up about Al Gore.

    And they like to imply that “capitalism” equals “the fossil fuel industry”, as though the corporations that manufacture solar panels and wind turbines — like, oh, General Electric for example — were “communists” out to destroy The American Way Of Life.

    But that’s pretty silly, isn’t it?

    So what exactly are you talking about?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Apr 2009 @ 3:03 PM

  120. > zero faith in emissions reduction
    > lack of ideas
    > that’s why I am blaring the trumpet

    But that’s all stuff you could blare in your own blog.

    Here, looking things up, we can see how quickly people do reduce emissions, and reduce fuel use. Look it up on the California climate site, it’s documented.

    Click this, then click “Recent” and set for “2008”
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=California+energy+shortage+fossil+fuel+efficiency+conservation+reduction+percentage

    Same for ideas, there are many, and many of them are funded.

    You seem to be arguing that stuff doesn’t exist that we can point to. And the trumpeting would really sound better on your own blog wouldn’t it?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  121. Re #90: Lawrence C. says:”china is taking the lead and pushing ahead with an aggressive alternative energy program..It may well be that america will have to follow china to self sustainability”

    That’s a good sign, Lawrence. There’s an interesting op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times by Thomas Friedman on steps that Costa Rica is taking to preserve their resources.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/opinion/12friedman.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Thomas%20Friedman%20%22(No)%20Drill,Baby,Drill&st=cse

    It reads in part:”More than any nation I’ve ever visited, Costa Rica is insisting that economic growth and environmentalism work together. It has created a holistic strategy to think about growth, one that demands that everything gets counted. So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth. You have to pay for using nature. It is called “payment for environmental services” — nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore.”

    It goes on to say:”To pay for these environmental services, in 1997 Costa Rica imposed a tax on carbon emissions — 3.5 percent of the market value of fossil fuels — which goes into a national forest fund to pay indigenous communities for protecting the forests around them. And the country imposed a water tax whereby major water users — hydro-electric dams, farmers and drinking water providers — had to pay villagers upstream to keep their rivers pristine. “We now have 7,000 beneficiaries of water and carbon taxes,” said Rodríguez. “It has become a major source of income for poor people. It has also enabled Costa Rica to actually reverse deforestation. We now have twice the amount of forest as 20 years ago.”

    The Bush’s and the Cheney’s(and the Bennett’s) of this world would have a fit at the thought of paying for using our natural resources, yet it not helps preserve nature, but it has proven to be a source of income to the country’s poor,nullifying an argument from the right that a tax on carbon would hurt those who are poorest.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 13 Apr 2009 @ 3:35 PM

  122. Walt, OK, so you are advocating geo-engineering even though:
    1)No geoengineering solutions exist at present.
    2)We cannot validate the efficacy of said solutions unless they involve removing greenhouse gasses from the air.
    3)Any R&D programs instituted will not likely yield effective strategies for decades.
    4)We will continue to pump gigatons of ghgs into the air in the interim possibly pushing us well past the point of no return (e.g. once natural CO2 and CH4 sources kick in).

    Now, I ask you: How does that solve the problem?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Apr 2009 @ 4:33 PM

  123. Re: #118,119

    Sec,

    I see that certain members of the group have become fond of saying that I oppose emissions reduction.

    That is false.

    I simply see the reality that emissions reduction will not be achieved in enough time to avoid the ice sheet stability tipping point; certainly there is enormous doubt that it can be done, in any case.

    I observe the massive reductions being insisted upon, in a very short time frame, by developing nations. I see that BAU goes on and I see that it will go on.

    Without geo-engineering ideas, therefore, the tipping point is an almost guarantee to happen. That’t the ugly reality, but its ugliness makes it no less real.

    I have repeatedly said that there are some good ideas and that we need more of them. Do you think I should not be allowed to speak because I, personally, have not thought of them?

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  124. Re: #122

    Ray, I obviously reject your premises out of hand, especially #3.

    In fact, the tone of your comment seems to be: “We don’t know what those solutions will be, therefore we should not be looking for them.”

    I’d say there’s ample reason to believe that such an effort would yield good ideas; I’d say we’ve seen some good ideas already, and that leads me to believe there might be even better ideas.

    I’m highly confident that there are and that we will find them. Human history supports me in that belief.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 4:56 PM

  125. Re: #120

    Hank,

    Nowhere have I said that we lack emissions reduction ideas. I said that we quite clearly lack the political will (based on the lack of public support) to enact those ideas. We certainly lack the will to jack up the price of basic energy. We clearly, clearly lack those things. We are far too invested in emissions-generating sources of energy to back away quickly or cheaply, and there are no visible stakeholders who are willing to shoulder that burden and forge ahead.

    This discussion has nothing, not a thing to do with emissions reduction ideas. As many of you go on and on and on about, there are solid ideas, ideas which make clear sense on a number of levels, and I have little doubt that they will be enacted, over time, as the cost of doing so can be smoothed. That’s the way we tend to get things done, not by fiat and not by rapidly increasing the cost of BAU without giving markets and consumers time to adjust.

    If this effort had been seriously underway twenty years ago, or even ten, then we would have a shot at this being the solution.

    That was so grotesquely not the case: emissions have shot up in that time.

    So let’s stick to the subject. I am not here to say “Do not reduce emissions!” nor have I ever said that. What I have clearly said is that we have finite resources and we need to allocate them appropriately. If we do not rationally analyze the prospects for success of one method versus another, we run the very real risk of disrupting social compacts in a very painful way, without even solving the problem we suffered all that pain to solve.

    What sense does that make?

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 5:03 PM

  126. #113 Thanks for the useful reference Hank on sheep oestrus. The debate here has seen some misunderstanding. Some sheep breeds are more seasonal than others, and it is in the latter that you can stimulate oestrus by introducing the ram. If you introduced a ram in the middle of summer to ewes from a seasonal breed it would have no effect at all. My observations are on the breed Wiltshire Horn, one of the British Breeds in Australia. Up to about a decade ago the breed was like clockwork – ewes began to cycle about the 20 March (for a Spring lambing) and stopped some time in July (if unmated). Lambs born before about 20 August were unheard of. These days it is very common to get lambs born in July or even June. Observations are complicated by when rams are introduced, so getting figures in a domestic situation would be difficult. But I am reasonably convinced there has been a shift, and it is great to know that observations on feral sheep conform this. I presume the effect (as someone says, day length hasn’t changed) is partly the result of warmer temperatures, but there may also be an effect from pasture condition (with fewer early frosts) in Autumn. Most animal systems are very complex, so I wouldn’t die in a ditch on mechanisms, but I reckon something is happening in this area as in so many others. With climate change the devil may well be in the detail as much as in the big events.

    Comment by David Horton — 13 Apr 2009 @ 5:09 PM

  127. There appears no question that emission of CO2 is going to be reduced. Paleo records show how it’s happened in the past, after each of the biggest emission spikes/warming events comparable to present.

    Open question: whether we’ll do it, or be done in by it.

    Viz: http://www.springerlink.com/content/085g2151l3nlt871/

    Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas

    Coral Reefs, Volume 27, Number 3 / September 2008

    _____Abstract___________

    The five mass extinction events that the earth has so far experienced have impacted coral reefs as much or more than any other major ecosystem. Each has left the Earth without living reefs for at least four million years, intervals so great that they are commonly referred to as ‘reef gaps’ (geological intervals where there are no remnants of what might have been living reefs).

    The causes attributed to each mass extinction are reviewed and summarised. When these causes and the reef gaps that follow them are examined in the light of the biology of extant corals and their Pleistocene history, most can be discarded. Causes are divided into

    (1) those which are independent of the carbon cycle: direct physical destruction from bolides, ‘nuclear winters’ induced by dust clouds, sea-level changes, loss of area during sea-level regressions, loss of biodiversity, low and high temperatures, salinity, diseases and toxins and extraterrestrial events and

    (2) those linked to the carbon cycle: acid rain, hydrogen sulphide, oxygen and anoxia, methane, carbon dioxide, changes in ocean chemistry and pH.

    By process of elimination, primary causes of mass extinctions are linked in various ways to the carbon cycle in general and ocean chemistry in particular with clear association with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

    The prospect of ocean acidification is potentially the most serious of all predicted outcomes of anthropogenic carbon dioxide increase. This study concludes that acidification has the potential to trigger a sixth mass extinction event and to do so independently of anthropogenic extinctions that are currently taking place.

    ——-end abstract—–

    Paragraph breaks added for readability – hank r.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2009 @ 5:37 PM

  128. Correcting my earlier posts on sequestering biochar, with current species of sea water algae one should be able to sustain about 40 tC/ha/yr. So to remove all the excess CO2 added yearly would take only a quarter gigahectare plus the extra needed for fueling all the pumps, transportation and burial of the biochar.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Apr 2009 @ 5:40 PM

  129. “We certainly lack the will to jack up the price of basic energy. ”

    We do????

    The companies selling electric and gas in the UK are doing it all the time. They seem to have no problem with it.

    And some of that increase is due to government raising the base price of the raw material.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:00 PM

  130. “Will someone explain to me why a longer growing season is bad for plants, animals and humans? I’ve always associated death and famine with long cold winters and short growing seasons.”

    Where the season was right before, it will no longer be right now.

    Oranges may not grow in California if it’s too hot and too dry.

    The band of land suitable to grow them may move north, but you know what? for each degree of longitude, there’s less and less land available as you go away from the equator.

    And californians won’t like the idea of abandoning their 300-year-old towns.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:04 PM

  131. Walt, Meaningful reductions in emission can be achieved. Last year, when the city of Juneau was cut off from its normal cheap hydroelectric supply, they managed to cut energy consumption by more than 37% with no preparation whatsoever. When gasoline prices rose dramatically last year, even Americans bagan to respond rationally, reducing driving and beginning to buy hybrids and other high-milage cars. We KNOW how to cut emissions.

    In contrast, we have no idea how to proceed about sucking CO2 out of the air and sequestering it (where, exactly?). You are falling victim to the tendency to think that whatever you understand must be easy. Climate mitigation is NOT easy. Indeed there may not even be ANY good, large-scale solutions. We don’t know yet, and it’s not for lack of looking.

    I would contend that we start with what we know–emissions reductions–and as we come up with effective validated mitigations, THEN we can increase emissions.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:21 PM

  132. Mark

    You appear to have an attitude and comprehension problem (as has been noted by one or two other contributors I note). Seriously: read what people say, not what you think they say!

    First, about your

    I mean, it’s kind of obvious that sheep won’t breed until AFTER they’ve tupped.

    And I mean: the tup (noun) is the ram. Tupped (verb) means the ram’s done his business, ie copulated. Tupping (verb) is copulating! Tupping is breeding in farm animals! Which kinda makes the text of that extract above nonsensical.

    Once again then.

    The farmers plan for early lambing so they can get the best price; it’s called economics of the marketplace. That’s why early lambing is happening: the high price for early-season ‘spring’ lamb (and they probably want a slice of the largely complementary New Zealand lamb market), not because of climate change.

    There’s a lambing shed a mile from me that’s at least a couple of thousand square feet in size. In January and February it is packed with ewes and lambs. They don’t (or rarely) go out until mid/late March. They took an economic decision about 4 or 5 years ago to also lamb early and built this ruddy great aircraft hangar to enable that practice.

    So, again, whether the lambs arrive in January/February or in March/April is down to when the farmer’s planned his arrivals to be, and obviously he plans for someone’s ram(s) to service (around August/September or around October/November) his ewes in order to lamb when he wants to lamb. It doesn’t happen by chance (unless by accident the ram escapes his confines and does his business in the wrong field), and it is essentially not at the whim of the weather or climate.

    And being an early lambing farmer doesn’t necessarily preclude them from being late lambing farmers, should anyone ask. Some are one; some are both. Some plan for a progression; indeed, some need to given the size of their flocks (my immediate neighbour does so, from January through to April). But other farmers plan and stick to late lambing, especially the smaller hill farms hereabouts.

    And Hank’s link to a quote from the Farmers Guardian saying

    We believe we already have evidence of climate change beginning to impact on sheep farmers. Over the last five years, demand for milk replacer has extended into early winter/autumn and spring/early summer, indicating a lengthening of the lambing season.

    from a Volac International (animal feedstuffs) sales person, should, I contend, be taken with a large boulder of salt. Not that the lambing season isn’t extending, cos it is (and note that it is extending at both ends), but that the reason for the extension is claimed as climate change is likely wrong; there is no evidence that is the reason.

    Now, that phenological effects are being seen in sheep farming in the UK is not in dispute. The advance of bluetongue is one such piece of evidence. However, there is no evidence in the farming practice of (at least) the local farmers that lambing timing per se is changing due to climate change in the UK. The management is too intense that it would likely swamp any such signal.

    Whether lambing time in the likes of the Herdwicks/Ryedales largely left to roam (sort of semi feral-like, but still managed) on the Lakeland fells/Yorks moors is subject to phenological change I can’t say, but it might be visible there first in managed stock in reduced lamb mortality. I’ll ask the Yorkshire farmer whose cottage I stay in most years for a few weeks when I go up in September, but I know most of his lambs arrive in April (at least they did in the last couple of years I’ve been, having been tupped in early November I think).

    Which leads me on to Hank’s link on feral sheep research. This doesn’t really suggest anything one way or the other. It’s too early to say anyway, but I note (my emphasis):

    Feral livestock offer an excellent opportunity [t]o study factors affecting fertility as the physiology of their husbanded relatives is well known and social and environmental influences can be studied free of man’s interference

    and that “environmental” doesn’t necessarily (but may also) mean “climate”.

    Sheep farming in most of Britain is managed by the farmer to suit the farmer (and the supermarket). That climate change will have an effect on farming of sheep is also not an issue with me. But the supposed warmer and wetter winters (of which there seem to have been a few until this year) will likely mean the sheep lambed early will still be kept indoors so that the fields are not ruined for the spring/summer grass crop, especially in my area (a point also made in Hank’s link to the Farmers Guardian).

    No more sheep talk from me unless there’s something substantively new to comment on. But more links appreciated if you’d like Hank.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 13 Apr 2009 @ 6:50 PM

  133. William (110):

    A longer growing season is NOT necesarily a bad thing. For example, ecosytem productivity and carbon storage can be increased and agronomic productivity as well, depending on crop and location. The issue with phenological changes is more related to the timing of physiological events, particularly with respect to multi-species dependencies. These can be disrupted if the interacting species do not respond to the changes at the same rate. Another issue is that if the lengthened season is associated with insufficiently cold temperatures in the winter (which it is in many cases), certain freezing or chilling requirements required for the proper breaking of dormancy in spring, and subsequent normal growth and development, may not be met. This applies both to living plants and seeds. Lastly, the advantages of a lengthened thermal season are less than fully realized if soil moisture or nutrient limitations limit potential photosynthesis. That is, thermal energy has to be the main limiting factor, which it may or may not be.

    I don’t know that you can point to any one year and say “that’s our baseline”. Mirroring temperature trends, there’s been a definite movement towards earlier springs in the latter 20th century.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 13 Apr 2009 @ 7:02 PM

  134. Ag in 2030 (FAO)

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/Y4252E/y4252e00.HTM

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Apr 2009 @ 7:09 PM

  135. Walt Bennett wrote in 125:

    Nowhere have I said that we lack emissions reduction ideas. I said that we quite clearly lack the political will (based on the lack of public support) to enact those ideas. We certainly lack the will to jack up the price of basic energy. We clearly, clearly lack those things.

    I was wondering what you thought of Hansen’s revenue neutral approach where consumers would get back the proceeds from any tax levied on fossil fuel.

    Please see:

    Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is one of the leading voices for a carbon tax to address climate change, rather than backing the more widely used cap-and-trade approach. In his plan, Hansen recommends levying a rising tax on fossil fuels and redistributing 100 percent of the proceeds to taxpayers – a “tax and dividend” approach [PDF].
    Hansen to Obama: Support a Carbon Tax
    Ben Block
    December 15, 2008 3:39 PM
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009194.html

    We know that when you tax an industry, for example, the fossil fuel industry, they tend to pass on to the consumers only a portion of the cost. Or at least that is what I was taught in an introductory course to economics. Thus if the tax really is revenue neutral, consumers could spend the dividend so that they are purchasing the same fossil fuels as before — but then would have a little money left over — or so I would presume.

    But chances are they would be spending that money differently — on alternate forms of energy which would suddenly be more competitive. Then economies of scale and further R&D would kick in and the alternative energy would be even cheaper.

    Seems to me that the only people opposed to this sort of thing would be the fossil fuel industry. Consumers would be coming out ahead right off the bat. So consumers wouldn’t have a problem with this sort of approach — or so I would think.

    But what do think?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Apr 2009 @ 7:18 PM

  136. Re: #135,

    Tim,

    I was highly disappointed to learn that Obama was not planning to do something along these lines. One clear benefit is that the consumer could profit by simply spending less on energy.

    With money floating around, yes for sure businesses would rise up to attract that money. Government seeding of free enterprise by putting the money directly in the hands of consumers and allowing them to choose.

    of course, my view remains: It would not accomplish nearly enough, soon enough.

    However, if somebody had thought of this twenty years ago, think where we might be today.

    Alas…

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 8:00 PM

  137. Ray,

    I’m not sure you realize what you did, but you repeated the same argument I already told you I did not disagree with.

    I said we have workable ideas to reduce fossil fuel consumption; I then said we won’t do enough, soon enough, for it to matter (in fact, it won’t even be close).

    That’s why, my friend, we must trek into the unknown, because we must find solutions which we have not found yet.

    Or, as I said, accept centuries of rapid sea level rise, because you know as well as I do that nature is quite comfortable leaving that CO2 up there and melting the ice. To her, it’s just another way to be.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 13 Apr 2009 @ 8:06 PM

  138. Walt, can you please pick one place, point to it, and post there, not repost the same thing in every new thread started? Allow the other topics some life too.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2009 @ 8:28 PM

  139. RE “However, while Lynas’s book is a straightforward reading of the scientific literature, it is a somewhat uncritical one, and hence tends to emphasize what might happen in the future over what will happen.” Typical scientist sentiment. However, since Lynas is an environmentalist, not a climate scientist, he has to look at the worst that might happen (and that worst might even be worse than what the scientists are able to come up with right now).

    Think of it this way, when an engineer is designing a bridge, he has to think of the worst that MIGHT happen — like the bridge becoming weakened by various factors or over time AND a rush hour completely composed of big heavy tractor trailer trucks loaded to the brim with gold bars, AND some earthquake happening. Well, I guess they didn’t really do all that with the Bay Bridge or Nimitz freeway (I remember their collapse).

    So, who knows, we may be headed straight into oblivion, smelling the early-blooming lilacs along the way.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Apr 2009 @ 9:17 PM

  140. RE #105 & “And when it is a really hot day, pop back and say ‘so I guess you’ll be agreeing that it’s AGW, then?'”

    Yep, that’s what I do — it’s called biased perception. Good thing there are scientists here to keep the records straight & they know their stats — like what the mean means.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Apr 2009 @ 9:29 PM

  141. Slightly off-topic, but a well done report on the consequences of SLR for much of the Americas.

    “Americas on alert for sea level rise”:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7977263.stm

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Apr 2009 @ 9:35 PM

  142. Walt Bennett wrote in 136:

    Re: #135,

    Tim,

    I was highly disappointed to learn that Obama was not planning to do something along these lines. One clear benefit is that the consumer could profit by simply spending less on energy.

    Well, just because he decided it this way this year doesn’t mean that he won’t try something different next year, particularly if cap-and-trade encounters as much opposition as you expect to see.

    As for myself, I don’t know how much opposition cap-and-trade will receive, but I prefer not to gamble, and I expect the majority of taxpayers/consumers to be most concerned when it comes to their own bottom line, so perhaps I am something of a cynic as well. In either case Hansen’s plan would get around that.

    Walt Bennett wrote in 136:

    With money floating around, yes for sure businesses would rise up to attract that money. Government seeding of free enterprise by putting the money directly in the hands of consumers and allowing them to choose.

    That is the way I see it.

    Walt Bennett wrote in 136:

    of course, my view remains: It would not accomplish nearly enough, soon enough.

    Well, that depends.

    For some things you are probably right. I expect to see the Arctic sea ice gone during the summers pretty much regardless of what we do — assuming we don’t come up with some geoengineering solution. And pretty much the same holds for the glaciers of the Himalayas. I believe the most recent projections were that 90% may be gone by 2030, and if I remember correctly, different emission scenarios show pretty much the same trajectory out to 2040.

    But then there is the question of whether there will still be Arctic sea ice in the fall and winter. Much of Greenland’s ice may depend on it. There is the question of just how unstable the West Antarctic Peninsula proves to be. But even assuming the West Antarctic Peninsula goes, there is always the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Or at least there could be — if we avoid higher emissions.

    Then there is the question of the methane hydrates, both shallow water deposits and permafrost.
    *
    Not all of this is going to go all at once. And some of what happens will most certainly depend upon the emissions scenario — particularly towards the end of the century.

    It seems to me that I remember different emission scenarios mean the difference between a rise in temperature of 4°C and 8°C during the summer by the end of the century in some cities along the US eastern seaboard, for example.

    This was once you scaled things down with regional models so that you could take into account the fact that rain comes in the afternoon, when the ground is already hot, and would tend to evaporate, leaving the soil dry, reducing the rate at which it can lose heat by means of evaporation, leading to still higher temperatures and even less rain.

    A tenth of humanity lives less than 10 meters above sea level, and for each additional meter sea level rises, more cities will have to be abandoned, either because large parts of them lie below sea level, or their sewers, subways or aquifers lie below sea level. And for each additional meter, more cities will be put at risk not necessarily by the sea level itself, but by storm surge. The cost to the world economy could very well be astronomical.

    How much of the planet will be experiencing severe drought by the 2070s? 2080s? 2090s? It depends upon the emission scenario.
    *
    But what determines the emission scenario that we will actually follow throughout much of the rest of this century?

    The investments that we are making now — as we move away from traditional petroleum and turn to either renewables or nontraditional fossil fuels — including tar sands and shale — or commit ourselves to the further development of coal, including perhaps synthetic oil made from coal. In each of these cases we will be heavily investing in infrastructure, and if it is in fossil fuels, once that infrastructure is in place it will be much more difficult to shift to renewable energy.

    Moreover, it is the very nature of the beast that with fossil fuels we will go from relatively high grade fossil fuels that are easy to get at and which result in less emissions per unit of energy to lower grade fossil fuels that are more difficult to get at and which result in higher and higher emissions per unit of energy. Whether we move towards renewables over the next decade or so or deeply invest in non-traditional fossil fuels will more than likely make a great deal of difference in the latter half of this century and for centuries to come.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Apr 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  143. Early Spring…So What. Taking a long term view this has happened before and will happen again as the flux of climate changes as it always has done and always will do. Nice to know that the US DOA have had a practical system that helps farmers plan their planting. Any stats on improved production figures resulting from earlier planting?

    Comment by MarcH — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:44 AM

  144. It’s certainly nice to return from Easter to find RC has devoted a post to my favourite hobby horse!

    Apologies for introducing another piece of jargon but, to me, the most probematical (potentially) effect of changing phenology could be trophic mismatch.

    Put simply, whilst certain flora & fauna use temperature (or other climate/weather related cues) as a ‘trigger’ to set of their spring phenology other species are locked in to using photoperiod (day length). Whilst the former are changing their phenology in response to changes in climate the latter will be unable to. (Trophic mismatch can be further excaberated in migratory species by differences in the rate of climate change at either end of the migration).

    Trophic mismatch is already being demonstrated in various studies. For example Arctic Caribou ( http://www.citeulike.org/user/roodubh/article/3474686 ) and Snow Goose ( http://www.citeulike.org/article/3102328 )

    Comment by Chris S — 14 Apr 2009 @ 3:28 AM

  145. Here is another excellent book about climate change impacts (Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming – Anthony Barnosky):

    http://www.amazon.com/Heatstroke-Nature-Age-Global-Warming/dp/1597261971

    review see here:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/uoc–fwg041309.php

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 14 Apr 2009 @ 3:31 AM

  146. It should also be noted that, in the UK at least, agricultural planting dates are unlikely to get any earlier than they are now as the soils are, and will be, too wet (and cold) for sowing. One of the primary crop pests in the UK however (aphids) have already been demonstrated to fly earlier with warmer winter temperatures ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080806113145.htm ) and thus are appearing in fields at earlier, more vulnerable, stages in crop development.

    Comment by Chris S — 14 Apr 2009 @ 3:33 AM

  147. Here in Australia the start of spring seems to be at the end of fall, we haven’t had a normal winter in Melbourne for years. The day the recent firestorm started saw 4000 flying foxes (a type of large fruit bat) simply drop out of the trees dead from heat exhaustion. This did not occur near the fires it occured in a leafy city park that sits on a bend in the Yarra river.

    To be sure land management is a problem but it does not cause city dwelling animals to drop out of trees dead, this is a taste of what the rest of the world can look forward to in the near future.

    I think California will be the next place where reality will hit home hard. The people there will have to get used to water rationing, expensive de-sal plants, dramatic reductions (50% or more) on agricultural yeilds, entire forests of 600yo trees dying of thirst, bushfires travelling at 120kmh and hot enough to melt engine blocks, etc, etc.

    The argument that we should wait and adapt to these changes when they occur is nonsense that is doomed to fail as it has here in Oz. We have already had to adapt and are still doing so but adaptation will not bring back what ‘the lucky country’ has lost.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:09 AM

  148. “Early Spring…So What. Taking a long term view this has happened before and will happen again as the flux of climate changes ”

    And why is the flux of climate changing?

    It isn’t the sun.

    It isn’t our orbit.

    It isn’t the FSM.

    We ARE producing lots of CO2 and that can explain it.

    Remember, if you’re talking about “in the past”, in the past you were not alive. In the past, humans didn’t even exist.

    Are you advocating genocide of the human race via inaction?

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:26 AM

  149. “I’m not sure you realize what you did, but you repeated the same argument I already told you I did not disagree with.”

    You don’t accept it though.

    In fact, you seem to ignore it. The argument doesn’t seem to change your position, even though it is eminently true that if we REDUCE CO2 production NOW, we have longer to work out any other mitigation strategy we can think of.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:29 AM

  150. “And I mean: the tup (noun) is the ram. Tupped (verb) means the ram’s done his business, ie copulated. Tupping (verb) is copulating! ”

    I know. Jasper Carrot had a song about a rooster which used the word extensively.

    You will also notice I used s-e-x. Incredible that you missed it. Especially since you accuse me of not comprehending.

    You never did answer the question “why now?”. In the old days when the shepherd sat outside with a sling to see the wolves off and there was no shed to keep them in, the rams and ewes all lived together. And they tupped when they felt like it and biology made it available.

    Taking the sheep indoors centuries later would not have the farmers change that time for tupping. No need.

    So why are sheep changing their fertile period? It’s not because rams are present earlier, since this would have made a lambing season in the past an impossibility: the ewes are always on head since they are always with the rams.

    I am glad you’ve decided to shut the fck up about it, though, since you don’t seem to have anything to add other than the completely useless statement that lambs only get produced after rams have met the ewes.

    Duh.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:36 AM

  151. Mark, sorry, but you don’t know sheep.
    Neither do I.
    Let’s take some time, do the reading, and see what the field workers have to say about how this works. It may be the length of gestation that changes, for example, by a week or more depending on the timing of spring and conditions, rather than the fertility timing, for example.

    You do realize this is one aspect of the tragedy of the commons, right?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 6:21 AM

  152. “Mark, sorry, but you don’t know sheep.”

    I do know farmers, though.

    If they could get an earlier lamb by putting rams amongst the ewes earlier, they would.

    If you’re the first to market, you have a short-lived monopoly. Which means higher profits.

    No need to know sheep, just need to know sheep farmers.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 7:22 AM

  153. “If they could get an earlier lamb by putting rams amongst the ewes earlier, they would.” – Mark

    It’s just not as simple as that. First, sheep-meat is often imported from countries with different seasons, so you might want to avoid competition. Second, labour is often a limiting resource (and far more so now than in the past), so lambing may be timed not to compete for labour with other activities. Third, there are different breeds of sheep, which both produce different products e.g. more or less fat (which change in relative price), and have different feed and shelter requirements. Fourth, lambs are often reared to a particular stage, then sold on for “finishing”, so you need to coordinate with other farmers. I’m sure any sheep-farmer would be able to continue this list for some time. You just cannot say, if you know anything at all about farming (which you very clearly don’t), that farmers will simply prefer to produce lambs as early as possible.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 8:19 AM

  154. Walt Bennett says:

    I have been saying for quite some time that I have zero faith in emissions reduction as a near term solution

    And we’ve been saying for some time that we don’t care what you do or don’t have faith in. We need to reduce emissions, and if we can’t reduce emissions, magic-like technological breakthroughs are not going to save us.

    CAPTCHA: Interment cordial

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Apr 2009 @ 8:35 AM

  155. No comments on FutureGen, Walt? It’s about as plausible a scheme as “geoengineering the climate” is – although geoengineering might just work to reduce atmospheric CO2, if you do it this way:

    1) Eliminate all fossil fuel combustion and use wind, solar and advanced biofuels for replacement energy sources.

    2) Halt the global trend of deforestation and encourage tree planting and other reforestation schemes (as the new climate conditions allow).

    3) This leaves you with the problem of high atmospheric CO2 and possible carbon cycle feedbacks (melting permafrost, etc.). In the past, atmospheric CO2 has largely been controlled by photosynthetic carbon burial in sediments – and we can do the same in soils, as mixing charcoal with soil results in a stable situation. You would have to do this for at least a hundred years to see any kind of significant effect, however.

    Even with geoengineering, you can’t escape the need to eliminate fossil fuel combustion – but maybe FutureGen will solve all the problems – except that it is a massively fraudulent project, isn’t it? A truly ridiculous amount of money has been spent – and yet noone at DOE or anywhere else can talk about because of “intellectual property restrictions” – yes, we’ve seen that before in cases where drug companies have refused to release their drug trial data, and when it is finally made public, it shows the drug performs worse than old standbys. There’s a word for that – scientific fraud.

    In other news, many of the warm-water species that showed up in the NE Pacific during the 1997-98 El Nino are becoming more regular denizens of the region, such as Humboldt squid.

    In Ohio, there’s concern over the effect of warmer temperatures on corn harvests.

    Also, mountain-dwelling species continue to be forced to higher elevations to survive, and many populations are going extinct:

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1666173/global_warming_distresses_tiny_mountain_dweller/

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Apr 2009 @ 8:43 AM

  156. Mark #130 and Jim #133
    I you cannot define when “spring” should normally begin what’s the point of all the anecdotal evidence. If we’re just returning to normal springs now how would we know otherwise?

    Mark, as far as I knew California was pretty much a desert before politicians diverted nearly all the water they could tap down to LA and southern CA. They had plans to divert the Columbia river too. Putting 30 million people in a desert and then complaining about drought seems a bit silly. Sounds like a poor land use decision but then again we can replace all the fruit growing fields with solar panels to harvest the sun instead.

    Comment by william — 14 Apr 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  157. Re Mark comment 148
    “It isn’t the sun”
    Quite possibly it is to some extent, not necessarily any change in TSI, but possibly due to a quiet sun leading to an increase in cosmic ray levels and thus in colud.
    Leif Svalgaard’s the chap for that idea http://www.leif.org/research/ and Dr Roy Spencer’s got a paper ready to submit for publication in a peer-revued journal on cloud and their effects. http://www.drroyspencer.com/
    Clouds are one area that the IPCC agrees our underdstanding is poor.

    [Response: There are hundreds of papers published on clouds every year – it’s hardly a neglected subject. And you might want to check with Leif on the whole cosmic ray thing… – gavin]

    Comment by Adam Gallon — 14 Apr 2009 @ 10:12 AM

  158. Walt, you assert that mitigation strategies are a first step. OK, where are the mitigation strategies? We need to take our first steps NOW. We are dealing with a climate system where outgassing from permafrost, the ocean, shallow clathrates, etc. could start to kick in at any moment. If that were to happen, it would probably invalidate all our efforts–either mitigation or conservation.
    If we hadn’t wasted 20 years, we might already have viable mitigation strategies. Instead, we will now have to try to buy time by emissions reductions to develop other strategies. Doing nothing on the vague promise that we may one day have a technological fix is unacceptable for the following reasons:

    1)The climate system is likely near tipping points that could complicate or even render impossible future mitigation.
    2)It means gambling with the lives and livelihoods of future generations in order to facilitate our own comfort.
    3)The mitigation strategies are still vaporware. We don’t even know if they are possible.
    4)Significant changes in our energy infrastructure are needed in any case to deal with the finitude of fossil fuels. The additional effort to address climate issues and achieve a sustainable economy is not prohibitive.

    Look, Walt, I do sympathize. What is demanded of our civilization is daunting. I’m not sure we are capable of it either. However, if we are not capable of creating a sustainable economy, then civilization will be a very short episode in the human history.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Apr 2009 @ 10:38 AM

  159. Re: #158

    Ray,

    I think the difference between us is that I am willing to call it like it is, and you (representing the mob mentality in here) continue to call it like you wish it was.

    I understand that you do this because you are frightened that we will fail and you can’t allow that possibility to become to real.

    I get it.

    Look, nobody here needs anybody’s “sympathy” (nor their patronizing approach to this subject).

    We need realism.

    So to answer your question: we do need solutions now, or nearly now. However, we WILL NOT REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS FOR YEARS TO COME.

    That, Raymond, is the reality of the situation.

    What’s your plan? To continue to deny that obvious fact?

    [Response: Walt, this style of debating is tiresome. You have gone for dozens of posts without actually making one concrete point. Stop trying to be all macho about who is the greater realist and discuss specifics or I’m going to cut the whole thing off. – gavin]

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  160. “I you cannot define when “spring” should normally begin what’s the point of all the anecdotal evidence. If we’re just returning to normal springs now how would we know otherwise?” – william

    What bizarre nonsense. What do you mean by a “normal spring”? Average over the past century? The past millennium? The past million years? What do you mean by the “start” of spring? There is no one defining point for this. Where do you want the “normal start of spring” to be defined for? Southern Spain, or Lapland?

    The point of the phenological evidence (and no, it’s not “anecdotal”, phenology is an established scientific subdiscipline) is that it confirms, along with direct temperature measurements, and glacier retreats, that there has been marked warming over the past half-century, during which time there has been no noticeable change in solar activity aside from the quasi-regular solar cycle, indicating that the change cannot be due to the sun. Additionally, it shows that the change is large enough to have marked ecological effects. Comparison with older historical records, moreover, can potentially show just how unusual current temperatures are on a longer timescale.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  161. William, The significant issues are two-fold:

    1)Earlier springs are exactly what one would expect for a greenhouse mechanism.

    2)Systematic trends are causing imbalances in ecosystems as different species arrive at different times. If species start arriving in advance of their food sources, or if predator/prey are disturbed, that can have significant effects.

    Ecology is complicated. Small changes can sometimes significantly affect ecosystem health.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:15 AM

  162. Re: #159

    Gavin,

    I’ve been as specific as I can be. I am not surprised that you have the same attitude as the others here do. You are pursuing a path of failure, based on your own science.

    However, anybody who wants to engage me further can come to my extremely modest blog and take it up with me there.

    I do take note that the White House is approaching this with realism, so in a sense it doesn’t matter at all that the rest of you don’t get it.

    You will…

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:31 AM

  163. Ray
    Climate is ever changing and I have not found anything persuasive in the string above to explain whether the start of springs in the 21st century are significantly different than 150, 300, 600 or 1200 years ago. Species have survived just fine over the last few million years with temperatures that have varied much more than the .6C over the last 100 years. Scientists on this string can point out that temps have been much warmer than today and I’m not even referring to the MWP.
    Based on recent cooling temperature trends we may expect to start seeing some later springs just as we saw a return to more normal sea ice extent this year.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by william — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:38 AM

  164. Nature Accepted 30 June 2004
    “High-resolution record of Northern Hemisphere climate extending into the last interglacial period”

    Two deep ice cores from central Greenland, drilled in the 1990s, have played a key role in climate reconstructions of the Northern Hemisphere, but the oldest sections of the cores were disturbed in chronology owing to ice folding near the bedrock. Here we present an undisturbed climate record from a North Greenland ice core, which extends back to 123,000 years before the present, within the last interglacial period. The oxygen isotopes in the ice imply that climate was stable during the last interglacial period, with temperatures 5 °C warmer than today. We find unexpectedly large temperature differences between our new record from northern Greenland and the undisturbed sections of the cores from central Greenland, suggesting that the extent of ice in the Northern Hemisphere modulated the latitudinal temperature gradients in Greenland. This record shows a slow decline in temperatures that marked the initiation of the last glacial period. Our record reveals a hitherto unrecognized warm period initiated by an abrupt climate warming about 115,000 years ago, before glacial conditions were fully developed.

    Here is an example where temperatures in Greenland were 5 degrees C warmer than today. I would imagine springs were a whole lot earlier than today.
    Thanks
    William

    Comment by william — 14 Apr 2009 @ 11:53 AM

  165. william,
    Are you trying to pack as many factoids and misleading statements into one comment as possible? If so, well done!

    To pick out a few:

    It is clear from several lines of evidence that current global temperatures are higher than at any time in the past millennium.

    “Species have survived just fine over the last few million years”
    Well actually, a vast number of species have gone extinct over that time. How many of these extinctions are due to climate change is difficult to calculate. However, over the past few million years, it was relatively easy for species to migrate (a) because change was usually slow and (b) because there were not vast areas devoted to human activities and so uninhabitable to many species.

    “temps have been much warmer than today and I’m not even referring to the MWP.”

    Yes, temperatures have been warmer than today (but not, of course, during the MWP), as those you are arguing with know very well. However, the rate of change over the past 50 years has been very rapid; and more important – we know there is a lot more rapid change to come, some from the raised concentrations of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, more from those that will be added even if we reduce emissions as fast as possible – let alone the rises we can expect if we continue “business as usual”.

    “Based on recent cooling temperature trends”

    There has been no such trend.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:12 PM

  166. Walt, the obvious fact that I see is that you are calling for immediate implementation of mitigation strategies–despite the unfortunate fact that none exist at present. None. In contrast to that one stark fact, emissions reduction is easy by comparison. All you do is increase the cost of fossil-fuel energy. What is more, this is not an artificial increase, but rather one that brings the market to reflect ALL the costs of an energy resource, including environmental. You then let people make rational decisions and the market takes its course.
    What we have now is absurdly cheap energy that allows me to purchase Durian–a quite perishable tropical fruit from Asia for the same price I can purchase locally grown apples and pears (presuming I could even find them).

    So, the question is this: Do you have a concrete plan that can be implemented now. I can even give you some suggestions:
    1)maybe terra preta based on fast-growing crops like bamboo or algae (nod to Dave Benson)
    2) [INSERT YOUR PLAN HERE]

    It is not either emissions reduction OR geo-engineering. We’ve lost 2 decades of people arguing over settled science. We will have to adopt some unpalatable strategies, including reduced energy consumption, increased reliance on renewables (even at higher cost), subsidizing energy development in developing countries (including competitors like China and India), possibly nuclear power… What we cannot do is wait for a solutions. We tried that for 20 years. It didn’t help.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:34 PM

  167. William says “Based on recent cooling temperature trends…”

    OK, Next!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  168. Walt Bennett wrote: “… we do need solutions now, or nearly now.”

    I agree. We need solutions yesterday.

    Walt Bennett wrote: “However, we WILL NOT REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS FOR YEARS TO COME.”

    We won’t implement geo-engineering schemes for many years to come either.

    As far as I can tell, you have never offered any credible evidence or plausible argument that geo-engineering schemes can be implemented more quickly than emissions reductions, either technologically or politically. You just assert that this is true, without support, over and over.

    On the technology side, emissions reduction solutions — efficiency improvements and clean, renewable energy technologies — are ready NOW. They are already being implemented NOW, on a large scale.

    On the other hand, geo-engineering technologies don’t exist. Those that have been speculated about may or may not be effective, and have obvious and potentially severe drawbacks. In any case, unlike emissions reduction technologies, they are not ready to be implemented NOW.

    On the policy side, it’s true that there are political obstacles to implementing emissions reductions policies (as opposed to technologies) NOW. But the political processes leading towards such policies have been ongoing for decades, and we are seeing progress, at the local, state, national and international levels. If anything, the political picture seems to be improving, particularly with the new US administration willing to seriously engage the problem.

    On the other hand, there is NO political process that has even begun to look at implementation of geo-engineering schemes on the global scale that would be needed to have any plausible effect on warming. There is no reason to believe that such a process would proceed faster than the political process on emissions reduction policy has done.

    All the evidence, on both the technological and the political fronts, indicates that emissions reductions have a much greater chance of yielding results faster than geo-engineering schemes.

    So, that’s where we should be focusing our efforts NOW: on emissions reduction technologies and policies that have been proven effective NOW, not on speculative, untested geo-engineering schemes, and highly implausible notions that somehow the world community will find it easier to agree politically on global geo-engineering policies than on emissions reduction policies.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:40 PM

  169. william, have you considered that you’re only reading blog comments, not bothering to read the references, and that your mind is made up so you _can’t_ be convinced? Or do you think it’s possible you could?

    Above you paste a familiar batch of standard talking points, ending with
    > a return to normal sea ice extent

    Why bother posting PR easily debunked, william?
    You can look all this up, if you want to get it right.

    You’d find this sort of information easily by looking:

    http://imb.crrel.usace.army.mil/
    ” The sea ice cover is undergoing significant climate-induced changes, affecting both its extent and thickness.

    http://nsidc.org/sotc/sea_ice.html
    “ICESat thickness estimates: NASA’s ICESat laser altimeter estimated sea ice thickness for the late winter of 2006, 2007, and 2008.”

    “Examination of the long-term satellite record dating back to 1979 and earlier records dating back to the 1950s indicate that spring melt seasons have started earlier and continued for a longer period throughout the year (Serreze et al. 2007). Even more disquieting, comparison of actual Arctic sea ice decline to IPCC AR4 projections show that observed ice loss is faster than any of the IPCC AR4 models have predicted (Stroeve et al. 2007).”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:46 PM

  170. Oh, and, william, if you’d prefer a picture, see:

    http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2009/04/arctic-sea-ice.html

    where he writes:

    “Monday, April 06, 2009
    Arctic Sea Ice Update from NASA
    NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center gave a press conference this morning on Arctic Sea Ice, and here is the most important graph: a sharp decline in “old ice”:

    “Old ice” is what sticks around year-after-year (here, one, two, or more years). It’s the thinner ice that melts away every year.

    As the chart shows, “old ice” is decreasing in percentage, and what’s interesting is it continued to decrease (and sharply) last year, even though 2008’s sea ice extent was slighter higher (at minimum) than 2007’s. So when climate change deniers say that sea ice area is increasing (2008 compared to 2007) and this is a sign of a cooling globe, that’s not the whole story.”
    _____________
    Can you see it yet?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 12:53 PM

  171. Hey william buddy:

    “I you cannot define when “spring” should normally begin what’s the point of all the anecdotal evidence. If we’re just returning to normal springs now how would we know otherwise?”

    The point apparently is, that whatever point there is, there’s no use trying to make it to you. What do you mean by normal? You think the world’s static do you?

    “…as far as I knew California was pretty much a desert before politicians diverted nearly all the water they could tap down to LA and southern CA.”

    Well then you didn’t know very far because much of California neither is nor was a desert. But anyway, I thought we were discussing the role of language in Uruguayan indigenous customs.

    “Climate is ever changing”

    Thanks for the news

    “…and I have not found anything persuasive in the string above to explain whether the start of springs in the 21st century are significantly different than 150, 300, 600 or 1200 years ago.”

    Ostriches with their head in the ground don’t find any persuasive evidence that the sun exists until they extract their heads. You might try extracting yours.

    “Species have survived just fine over the last few million years with temperatures that have varied much more than the .6C over the last 100 years.”

    Yeah, the ones that survived “survived just fine”. The ones that didn’t survive might argue with you.

    So you want to play games and waste people’s time by asking questions and then looking for whatever “weakness” he can find in their responses. Here’s your reply: go do your own homework on the importance of timing in nature, what the evidence is in regards to the dynamics thereof and report back what you find. Here’s a starting point that will lead you to all kinds of good refs: Rosenzweig et al, 2008, Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change, Nature 453:353-

    Feel free to report on your investigations when you’re done.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 14 Apr 2009 @ 1:14 PM

  172. William says “Based on recent cooling temperature trends…”

    William, if there is only one new concept that you take home from your time here at RealClimate let it be that the words “recent” and “trend” form an oxymoron.

    However, Captcha predicts: continued result

    Comment by Jim Eager — 14 Apr 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  173. william, Google. This could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship for you.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=_0u2y_SVnmoC&pg=PA125&lpg=PA125&dq=California+%22central+valley%22+original+prehistoric+water&source=bl&ots=OQqaXzXSbA&sig=aTu2iYAZwzzk01BobKMaafQrhfY&hl=en&ei=it3kSdimG5XstgOSqaSwCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPA125,M1

    “… only in the southwest corner was the Central Valley dry enough to support semi-desert vegetation. Otherwise …. hundreds of species of water plants.”

    Ya see the problem? It’s you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  174. Jim, the phrase “recent trend” occurs 8 times in chapter 3 of the latest IPCC report :)

    Comment by PaulM — 14 Apr 2009 @ 2:13 PM

  175. #164 Nick and Jim #170
    You guys need to coordinate your replies. Nick argues that species can’t adapt to the .6C increase in temp over the last 150 years because of the large tracts of land now made uninhabitable to many species by humans. So I guess it’s the change in land use that does the damage. .6C in 150 years? Which species died? None that I can find yet from that increase. I’m sure many more died during the ice age. I’ll refute the rest of your comments when I can finish picking apart the flaws in Rosenzweig.
    Thanks
    William

    [Response: You should be able to do that before dinner, I’m sure. – gavin]

    Comment by william — 14 Apr 2009 @ 2:20 PM

  176. On ClimateProgress there is a recent thread about a power plant converting two boilers (of four) into wood burners; mitigation.

    Of course there is quite a serious limit to doing this with all coal burners in the USA; not enough wood can pssibly be grown. However, it shouldn’t be that hard to convert to burning algae, which grows very much faster than wood. Somebody might care to work up the amount of land used by algae tanks (to replace burning coal) assuming 40 tC/ha/yr in the sunny south.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Apr 2009 @ 2:50 PM

  177. “It’s just not as simple as that. First, sheep-meat is often imported from countries with different seasons, so you might want to avoid competition.”

    If that were true, why are they changing NOW?

    Has the competition gone away? Nope. Are the other countries running on a different planet (therefore changing season out of step with the UK, for example)? No.

    What’s changed?

    Climate has.

    Not much else, as far as a sheep farmer is concerned.

    It really IS that simple.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 3:34 PM

  178. William, it isn’t when spring “should” happen, it’s when it ***is*** happening.

    And it IS happening earlier than it used to.

    This is adequately explained by climate change.

    Therefore it is another line of evidence (independent of models or science) that climate is changing.

    And what’s changing the climate?

    Fossil fuel burning will explain that adequately. Nothing else comes close without CO2 from humans being a bigger factor.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 3:45 PM

  179. “Nick argues that species can’t adapt to the .6C increase in temp over the last 150 years because of the large tracts of land now made uninhabitable to many species by humans.” – william

    No, I didn’t. Try reading and responding to what I actually wrote. While there probably are species that have gone extinct due to that change (many species have never been recorded, particularly inconspicuous ones with limited range), the main concern here is about the future change that we can expect, particularly if we do not curb emissions.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  180. Early spring means a longer growing season, perhaps an extra crop. But, is also means depleted snow pack and earlier spring floods such as in North Dakota this year. One of the best visuals for warming is the shift in hardiness zones shown at arborday.org

    http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  181. Paul, I suppose it all comes down to how you define “recent.” But we all know how William was using the word: the last 10 or 11 years.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:13 PM

  182. It can also mean no die-back. It can also mean that the summer is too dry. It can mean that the crop is out-competed by another species or its predator.

    It isn’t always good to have a warmer time of it.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:15 PM

  183. “Nick argues that species can’t adapt to the .6C increase in temp over the last 150 years”

    What’s your problem with that? You don’t mention any other reply which would not gel with that statement (which would therefore require coordination), so you’ve already proven you can’t think clearly nor write accurately.

    Now, if your cedar tree can handle a colder spell than the palm tree further south, but it can’t handle heat as well, then when temperatures change, the border between the palms to the south and the cedars to the north move northwards.

    Since trees can’t walk, this would have to mean that the cedar is dying off, out competed by the palm.

    If this goes on far enough, the cedar will be no more.

    (note: the above examples may not work, but the scenario is pretty true).

    Now, where’s the incredulity in that scenario, william? Personal incredulity doesn’t cut much ice.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:20 PM

  184. Mark #177
    Can you link me to the study/graph which show the “start of spring” date or anomaly for the last 100, 500 or 5000 years? When you can tell me when spring should be happening then I guess we can measure if it’s early or not and have an informed discussion.

    I’m open to the possibility that the “start of spring” date varies widely over time. As an example, spring in Chicago 1888 may have started April 16th and on April 1st in 1920. Did the species living here care? They must be capable of surviving “start of spring dates” that have varied similarly or much more widely of thousands and millions of years.
    I live in Chicago and root for the Cubs Baseball team. Spring for me does not arrive until well after Baseball opening day, as many fans who have frozen their fannies off at Wrigley Field in early April will attest.
    thanks always
    William (Go Cubbies!)

    Comment by william — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:36 PM

  185. Nick Gotts wrote: “Try reading and responding to what I actually wrote.”

    Trolls don’t do that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:38 PM

  186. David Benson #30

    I like the idea of using algae as the capture approach. Open raceway ponds with a mechanical agitator (wind driven turbine?) to periodically share the exposure to insolation … dry the yield and place under some inert material at the bottom of disused mines or perhaps compress and wrap in some non-permeable material which can be dumped at serious ocean depth where lack of light, pressure and low temperature can keep it stable.

    Biochar doesn’t need to be buried to remain stable of course. It’s also a pretty good soil conditioner.

    Comment by Fran Barlow — 14 Apr 2009 @ 4:56 PM

  187. Fran Barlow (185) — One would prefer just to sequester C and keep the NPK for further growing. Phosphorus, in particular, is in somehwat short supply so should not just be buried.

    Biochar buried at typical soil conditioner depths returns about half the carbon to the active carbon cycle over a few decades. Compressed and buried deeply one has an artificial coal seam, which should last indefinitely.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:42 PM

  188. “#164 Nick and Jim #170 You guys need to coordinate your replies
    Not against your “arguments” we don’t. We just need to keep from tripping over each other in hitting the “post” button.

    I live in Chicago and root for the Cubs Baseball team
    That explains a lot actually. I’m reminded of a joke I heard Pete Rose tell once: God appeared to the Cubs and told them ‘Just don’t do anything until I come back’. Looks like they listened

    Spring for me does not arrive until well after Baseball opening day
    Then what the hell you asking us for definition of it for??

    BTW, spring began this year at 7:16 AM on March 18th (I was there, it was amazing). 100 years ago spring began on April 2nd at 9:19 PM, as documented in numerous photos and newspaper clippings of the time. Does that help?

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 14 Apr 2009 @ 5:55 PM

  189. Geo Engineering eh. Let’s not pussy foot around. If we’re going to use this as a possible solution, we should go all out. Half measures will avail us naught.

    I believe I’ve figured out what we must do in the future. Assume it is late in the 21st century and our home planet is getting warmer and warmer. There’s barely any ice left on Earth, except for central Antarctica. The east coast of the U.S. is just offshore of Pittsburgh, where summer daytime temperatures compete with what used to be average for Texas or Arizona back in the year 2009.

    What’s needed is a solution, which I’ll get to soon, to undo the warming or we are undone as a civilization. The main problem is that the carbon dioxide levels are nearly at 600 parts per million(remember we haven’t tried to reduce our emissions,since it was regarded as too late to do so) by volume, more than twice the concentration than existed in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This doubling means that the rate of heat energy coming to the Earth’s surface as a result of the enhanced Greenhouse Effect has increased by 4.5 watts per square meter. We must somehow undo this by whatever means we have available.Preliminary calculations show that we are receiving a total solar intensity in the upper atmosphere of about 1400 watts per square meter.

    The 1400 watts per square meter we receive from the Sun at the top of our atmosphere translates to about 245 watts per square meter at the surface of the Earth when albedo(~.30) and the Earth’s rotatation is taken into account.. This assumes a mean distance from the Sun of 150 million kilometers. If the Earth were 153 million kilometers from the Sun we would reduce the 245 to 235 watts per square meter! Since a doubling of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the energy rate by about 4.5 watts per square meter, the 10 watts/meter^2 would erase the effects of quadrupling the CO2!

    Therefore what we need to do to offset the projected effects of global warming by the quadrupling of atmospheric CO2, would be to merely move the Earth about 3 million kilometers further from the Sun. (Don’t try this at home) I say ‘merely’ but there are some downsides to this solution. For one thing we could overshoot and one of the outcomes could be that we’d become a satellite of Jupiter!Not a very desirable result! There would also be effects from the force caused by the initial acceleration in accord with Newton’s second law. Who knows what these effects would be. Earthquakes? Seismic sea waves a hundred meters high? On second thought,this isn’t such a great idea after all. We’d probably do well to taking action,NOW like switching to alternative fuels,or heaven forfend, cap the release of carbon going into the atmosphere.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 14 Apr 2009 @ 7:13 PM

  190. Excuse me, this is off topic again, but did anyone read this:

    http://www.truthout.org/041409EA

    The Dire Fate of Forests in a Warmer World, by Bryan Walsh, originally published in Time.

    Best, Will

    Comment by Will Denayer — 14 Apr 2009 @ 7:20 PM

  191. SecularAnimist:167 “On the technology side, emissions reduction solutions — efficiency improvements and clean, renewable energy technologies — are ready NOW. They are already being implemented NOW, on a large scale.”

    The large scale part is very debatable, mostly because of cost, but don’t take my word for it:

    “If the question is whether India will take on binding emission reduction commitments, the answer is no. It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce when 40 percent of Indians do not have access to electricity,” said a member of the Indian delegation to the recently concluded U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, which is a prelude to a Copenhagen summit in December on climate change. “Of course, everybody wants to go solar, but costs are very, very high.”

    Link:
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/india-on-emissions-reductions-morally-wrong-5127

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 14 Apr 2009 @ 7:27 PM

  192. Ike #85 “And yes, we have all the technology needed to drop fossil fuels and switch to renewables, and yes, it is economically feasible, and yes, doing so will cause Warren Buffet to lose his shirt due to his large investments in tar sands oil and coal-fired electric utilites..”

    Sounds like Buffet is hedging his bets:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/106913/Warren-Buffett-Takes-Charge

    Comment by Garry S-J — 14 Apr 2009 @ 7:30 PM

  193. Re: #167

    SecularAnimist writes: “All the evidence, on both the technological and the political fronts, indicates that emissions reductions have a much greater chance of yielding results faster than geo-engineering schemes.”

    First, I would ask you to point me toward any such comparative study. To my knowledge, none exists.

    Did you read the latest report from NCAR?

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=even-deep-cuts-in-greenho

    Please read it and understand it. It says that if we cut CO2 emissions by 70 percent (the story doesn’t give a time period for this to happen) will hold atmospheric CO2 at 450 ppm by 2100 instead of a BAU outcome of 750 ppm. You know and I know that 450 ppm is Hansen’s absolute limit for avoiding ice sheet collapse, and he says we have to draw down from there to 350.

    Even playing this down th middle, saying we accomplish half of that goal (which would itself be incredible), we are looking at 600 ppm by 2100, not 350 ppm.

    There is only one way to get there: we simply must draw down the CO2.

    Sec wrote: “On the technology side, emissions reduction solutions — efficiency improvements and clean, renewable energy technologies — are ready NOW. They are already being implemented NOW, on a large scale.”

    No, they’re not. They’re still much more expensive than BAU, which remains the key stumbling block. Raising the cost of fossil fuels attacks the problem by making things worse for people. The inability to forge a political solution is based in the simple fact that people vote their pocketbooks. If anything, the problem of communicating AGW as a pocketbook issue is failing more now than before AIT. That’s a bad sign. The more people learn about this topic, the less inclined they are to pay the price being asked of them.

    Geoengineering must happen or we miss the CO2 target by a long shot, under almost any conceivable emissions reduction scenario. Geoengineering holds out the hope that the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels can be mitigate and smoothed. For example, if we could find a way to draw down 3 or 4 ppm per year, while at the same time applying gentle market forces (higher gasoline tax, for example) to lower the use of fossil fuels, and perhaps find a way to put money in peoples’ pockets to choose alternatives, we can work the problem from both directions and eventually reduce more than we put up. Since there are no ready-to-go drawdown capabilities today, the two-track approach to that would be to (1) look for short term methods of reflecting more solar energy back into space while (2) investing in projects that show potential to draw down CO2. Such projects might include biomass type projects where CO2 is stored in root systems, and perhaps later disposed of in some manner (I don’t know how practical the charcoal idea is); or perhaps the cloud-forming boats suggested in the link in the aerosols thread, which sound quite clever to me.

    The point is to recognize the need to look for such solutions. As I said to Gavin, and it’s really indisputable, emissions reduction as the primary strategy for reducing atmospheric CO2 is a path of failure, pure and simple.

    Now, I was trying to drop this subject at Gavin’s request, but I think it’s fair, if others still post on this topic, that I be allowed to respond.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 15 Apr 2009 @ 12:18 AM

  194. “Mark #177
    Can you link me to the study/graph which show the “start of spring” date or anomaly for the last 100, 500 or 5000 years?”

    No I can’t william.

    However, since you’re the one who wants to know and finding out is a better learning experience than being told, you can use the global temperature records and do your sums yourself.

    Take each 30-year group of data. Take each day or month (depending on what data you actually have). Average out the 30 year temperature for that time.

    Plot over the record each 30-year average for each day/month in a year.

    See how the temperature rises earlier in the year.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:56 AM

  195. that should be “rises to a spring-like temperature earlier”

    Comment by Mark — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:57 AM

  196. A good (if old – 2002) paper on ecological responses to climate change here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v416/n6879/full/416389a.html

    I’ve mentioned Kyoto cherries before, I’ve found a graphic of it which i’ve uploaded here:

    http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/8417/kyotocherrys.png

    (If anyone can find one without the big red circle I’d be grateful) It gives an idea of when the onset of spring has been in Japan for the last 1300 years. (From this paper: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=16948809 )

    Here’s a look at 250 years of phenology in Switzerland & Burgundy: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2007JG000646.shtml note that they “detect major changes in long-term phenological and temperature time series at the end of the 20th century.”

    And finally, 500 years of grape harvest dates are analysed here: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=16638482 the abstract states “the heatwave of 2003 stands out as an extreme, not only for the instrumental period, but also during the preceding 500 years”

    Hope that helps…

    Comment by Chris S — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:59 AM

  197. Walt Bennett, it is not a matter of either emissions reduction OR geo-engineering. Negotiating this threat will require both. You yourself admit that there are no currently viable, validated geoengineering solutions. None. The closest is probably the Terra Preta solutions Dave Benson has been advocating, but it is not clear to me that these could work on the needed scale. Developing geoengineering solutions will take time, and that is time we will not have unless we find ways to reduce emissions. Plunging ahead on the BAU scenario without viable validated mitigations is gambling on the futures of our progeny.

    I think that one thing you fail to understand is that the potential consequences we are talking about go far, far beyond sea level rise. Climate change threatens the very feasibility of agriculture in much of the world. It threatens water supplies from India to Indiana. It threatens our health, our wealth and perhaps even our survival–or rather it threatens the wellbeing of every generation of humans who will succeed us. Their futures are not our to wager.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Apr 2009 @ 7:56 AM

  198. Re: #197

    Ray,

    I swear, sometimes it sounds like we are on the same page. If you’ve been here anywhere near as I have (or longer) then you know I don’t “miss” that there are other threats associated with CO2.

    You and I agree that both emissions reduction and drawdown are needed, and needed soon, and thus the best approach is to recognize those dual truths.

    That’s all I’ve been saying.

    I believe we are 10 to 20 years away from even beginning to reduce CO2 emissions, and perhaps 50 years away from getting emissions below 1990 levels (India REFUSES to accept binding targets; what do you suppose China’s position is?), during which time we will certainly bolt past 400 ppm. You know that the number will keep going up well past “1990” emission levels, for a variety of reasons.

    Ray, it’s my grasp of the science of AGW that makes this clear to me. Under any conceivable ER scenario, we will fly past the tipping points that we care about defending.

    We clearly need geo-engineering solutions, and if we’re bright and dedicated, perhaps we can get some online within a decade.

    And some of them even have the potential to make money…

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:42 AM

  199. “As I said to Gavin, and it’s really indisputable, emissions reduction as the primary strategy for reducing atmospheric CO2 is a path of failure, pure and simple.” – Walt Bennett

    That’s just silly, Walt. It’s clearly not indisputable, since many people here are disputing it – and you have provided very little in the way of argument for the claim, although #193 is an improvement on your past performance. There are no “comparative studies” of the kind you ask for, because no geoengineering schemes are past the vaporware stage.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:45 AM

  200. Walt, if the moderators allow me a comment on this subthread, the problems people have been having with your posts on mitigation vs. geo-engineering are, I think, summarized as follows:

    –You dismiss the importance of mitigation, whereas most here see it as the first necessity in dealing with the problem (as in Hank’s overflowing tub analogy, where the first step should be to shut off the faucet).

    –This dismissal plays (albeit in slightly altered form) into a common denialist meme, namely the idea of “unstoppable warming,” which then makes it less likely that mitigation can succeed. In other words, your position is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: if mitigation is “the path of failure,” then obviously we shouldn’t try it.

    –You don’t provide specific alternatives. Basically, you are just arguing for geo-engineering in general; but this is mostly, as Ray said, “vaporware.” By contrast, the alternative energy scene is rapidly going mainstream, with really eye-popping growth rates (and investment.) This, even without the withdrawal of fossil fuel subsidies. These growth rates mean a clear possibility exists of significant reductions in emissions on a decadal timescale.

    –You speak as if we can predict the tipping points, and can assign precise concentration values for them, which is not the case. You also speak as if “ice stability” is a single entity, which is also not the case. For a more nuanced (ie, realistic) point of view, read:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/6/1786.full.pdf+html

    (Note that we have an RC contributor as one co-author, BTW.)

    Of course, this source acknowledges that we may, in fact, already have passed the Arctic sea-ice tipping point; some think so, but we can’t tell with certainty yet.

    –You don’t seem aware that the problems of geo-engineering are going to be multiple: political, as nations’ interests will not be identical or even necessarily congruent, making actionable agreements contentious; economic, as these schemes will assuredly not be cheap–and unlike alternate energy, where we may expect to pay “environmental premiums” to achieve our economic goals, the entire cost of geo-engineering is going to be chargeable to the “environment account,” and hence still-less appetizing; and ecological, as we struggle to avoid the law of unintended consequences.

    You seem to assume that these challenges are somehow less than the admittedly daunting challenges facing us in restructuring our energy economy. I think many here find this a very dubious assumption indeed.

    –Some here may perhaps feel that the public education effort, AKA propaganda battle, isn’t going quite as badly as you fear. You say that people’s ability to see this as a “pocketbook issue” is less than when AIT came out. I don’t agree. Particularly encouraging is that the younger generation is much more literate about the problem. We’ll see the effects of that fact playing out over the next few election cycles.

    Moreover, we are going to see continued “messages” from Nature that will, I think, continue to persuade. (See the Arctic sea-ice comment above.) And the debate is certainly going to change with the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year. Just how is not yet known, of course; but there appears to be a fair amount of political will to reach a deal that will have some real world effects in a reasonable time frame. If we can show progress, we can build political will–“yes, we can” in the climate arena. I believe–we can all have the odd “belief statement,” I suppose–that the denialist noise machine will become increasingly marginalized over the next several years, and less relevant to either reality or the political process. (To put it another way, recognizing the nonsense as nonsense is going to require an ever-lower threshold of knowledge/awareness.)

    Does all this mean that we should dismiss geo-engineering research? No. You and Ray are essentially agreed on this for the longer term, as far as I can tell. It would be highly desirable to be able to draw down atmospheric CO2 in affordable and safe ways. But you are clearly in the minority in thinking we are going to be able to do that quickly enough to make it the only arrow in our quiver.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:50 AM

  201. Walt,
    If you are arguing for research into geo-engineering solutions in tandem with emissions reduction, I don’t think you will find many here who will argue. The thing is that right now, apart from carbon sequestration via terra preta, there aren’t any viable geo-engineering options. That leaves emissions reduction in the here and now while we look for additional mitigation options.
    I really do think that many renewable energy options are on the verge of economic viability and that many more show promise. It may be that we have to consider nuclear, although I fully acknowledge that carries its own risks (waste + proliferation).

    As to the reactions of India and China, in part we will have to expect nations to “play chicken”. However, India probably has more to lose (including the Ganges) than anyone, and China is not far behind. It is certainly a nonstarter to expect them and other developing nations to put development on hold while we solve these issues. After, this is likely a multi-generational problem. The West and Japan will have to find alternatives that allow development to continue while still keeping emissions in check. Clearly, this will be controversial, as it will involve technology transfer (probably subsidized in many cases). I am not even sure whether the social institutions needed to meet the crisis exist yet (remember the “corporation” is only about a century old, and democratic government only about 2 centuries). One thing you and I can agree on: We and our descendents are destined to live in interesting times.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Apr 2009 @ 10:14 AM

  202. Walt, he’s right. You have one point. But you are trying to make it louder than all the other conversations. It amounts to delay and disruption, repeatedly saying you disagree and don’t believe.

    Fewer words, with a cite to numbers and studies on your blog, may help.

    The ‘bathtub’ model credit:
    http://scripts.mit.edu/~jsterman/climate/master/

    You should try using the model, Walt, read up on the assumptions. Come up with numbers.

    It’s simple.
    Click the link. Drag the red arrow down to where you think it could or should be. Click to evaluate your action and see the result in the atmosphere. Start a topic at your blog about it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  203. “As I said to Gavin, and it’s really indisputable, emissions reduction as the primary strategy for reducing atmospheric CO2 is a path of failure, pure and simple.”

    If it is so plain and simple, please prove it.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Apr 2009 @ 10:35 AM

  204. Walt Bennett wrote in 193:

    Now, I was trying to drop this subject at Gavin’s request, but I think it’s fair, if others still post on this topic, that I be allowed to respond.

    Actually what Gavin said was:

    Walt, this style of debating is tiresome. You have gone for dozens of posts without actually making one concrete point. Stop trying to be all macho about who is the greater realist and discuss specifics or I’m going to cut the whole thing off.

    Gavin Schmidt
    Inline to 159

    The way in which you were arguing arguing against people was almost entirely of the form, “I’m willing to face reality and your not!” — without having much of anything of substance to support your claims. In fact it was almost pure ad hominem.

    But you are doing considerably better at this point. Moreover, I agree with you on a fair number of points but disagree on others. For the moment at least we are in the realm of rational discourse.

    One point though: jumping from thread to thread making the same argument makes internet old-timers rather twitchy. Particularly with extended debate. Best to avoid it.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 15 Apr 2009 @ 11:58 AM

  205. Ray Ladbury wrote: “I really do think that many renewable energy options are on the verge of economic viability …”

    Better than “on the verge”. According to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2008 the USA installed 8,358 megawatts of new wind generating capacity, which accounted for 42 percent of all new generating capacity added in the US last year. The 4,112 MW of new wind generation added just in the 4th quarter of 2008 exceeded the annual additions for every previous year except 2007. Total employment in the wind power industry is about 85,000 jobs, up from 50,000 a year ago. Wind turbine manufacturing capacity in the USA is growing as well, with several major manufacturers — including the Danish company Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines — preparing to open new factories in the US.

    Wind power has already achieved “economic viability” and is “on the verge” of accounting for the majority of all newly installed generating capacity in the USA within a year or two.

    Oddly enough, there are two things that I think most people are insufficiently aware of:

    1. Just how bad the global warming situation is (readers of this blog are certainly more aware of that than most), and …

    2. Just how far advanced, and how ready to take over from fossil fuels, clean renewable energy technologies already are.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Apr 2009 @ 1:04 PM

  206. Walt Bennett wrote:

    Did you read the latest report from NCAR? … It says that if we cut CO2 emissions by 70 percent (the story doesn’t give a time period for this to happen) will hold atmospheric CO2 at 450 ppm by 2100 instead of a BAU outcome of 750 ppm.

    Actually the NCAR report does give a time period — it says that “the threat of global warming can still be greatly diminished if nations cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century”, i.e. by 2100.

    According to the study, in this scenario emissions cuts of 70 percent by 2100 would hold CO2 levels to 450 ppm, and “while global temperatures would rise, the most dangerous potential aspects of climate change, including massive losses of Arctic sea ice and permafrost and significant sea level rise, could be partially avoided.”

    That doesn’t sound to me like they are saying that (in your words) “emissions reduction as the primary strategy for reducing atmospheric CO2 is a path of failure, pure and simple.” If anything, it sounds like they are saying the opposite.

    Walt Bennett wrote:

    Even playing this down th middle, saying we accomplish half of that goal (which would itself be incredible), we are looking at 600 ppm by 2100, not 350 ppm.

    You simply assert that reducing emissions by “half that goal”, i.e. a 35 percent reduction would be “incredible”. You don’t support that assertion with any evidence.

    Meanwhile there are multiple proposals on the table from various sources, outlining paths to reducing emissions by more than 70 percent by mid-century, rather than by the end of the century. And you haven’t presented any evidence or reason to believe that such goals are not achievable — you just repeatedly assert that they are unachievable.

    In short, you have repeatedly asserted that emissions reductions are a “path of failure” but you have not substantively supported that assertion, and the NCAR study that you cited in support of it actually appears to support the opposite conclusion.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Apr 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  207. SecularAnimist, take a look at our wind and solar energy production:

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energy_in_brief/renewable_energy.cfm

    I don’t think you realise the size of the mountain you are trying to move when you suggest we could transition over to wind and solar as major energy sources.

    I admire your optimism for these techs, but I wonder why you imagine the best possible outcome of wind and solar solutions and on the other hand imagine the most horrible AGW catastrophies. I don’t see much balance there.

    Comment by Michael — 15 Apr 2009 @ 2:52 PM

  208. Michael, please point to the place in this thread where SecularAnimist has “imagined the most horrible AGW catastrophies” as you state.

    What is incredibly tiresome in this “debate” with the stalling, evading and denying side, are these continuous, generalized, accusations that “alarmists” are invoking the worst case scenarios to scare people, without even knowing who, or what, you’re talking about. Does it occur to you that such accusations as you have made here, only show that you don’t have your facts straight, and that people will not call you on it?

    Furthermore, the link you point to is pretty much irrelevant, because the point is not what the current breakdown is, but the status and possibilities for changing that.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 15 Apr 2009 @ 3:39 PM

  209. Jim Bouldin,

    “It is hard for me to envision any plausible scenario in which there will not be a very substantial die-off of the human species by the end of this century.”

    …is a good example of what I’m refering to.

    Comment by Michael — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:03 PM

  210. Eric,

    Very interesting article and the book looks like a good read. My question is of regional nature… It appears from the posts on this thread that most have been experiencing earlier springs and later autumns. For the past 2 years, my corn patch has failed. I’ve blamed it on late springs, cold summers and early autumns (though it well could be shoddy gardening skills). Riding the train to work it appeared that the professionals in Puyallup and Sumner had poor looking corn up until July too (This past summer). I started taking the bus instead of the train and no longer passed by the farms after that so I don’t know how they eventually fared. The previous 4 years I had great corn and even successfully grew tomatoes outside.

    I believe you are from Washington State also and probably know the answer to this… Have the last two years growing seasons actually been shorter and colder here in Washington or has it just been my perception (with my personal garden)? Is there a place on the Web to see seasonal start and stop dates by state? I’m in Gig Harbor and our weather can be very regional. It snowed again day before yesterday. What do we expect this year?

    Thanks Eric,

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:10 PM

  211. Ray Ladbury (197) — Always David and never Dave, thank you.

    Biochar will certainly work on the desired scale; the only question is the capital and annual costs. Of course one thing that could certainly be done with algae is to dry it, press into bricks and ship to the power generating factility to burn instead of coal. That avoids making biochar and might be preferable for short range shipping; for long range biochar bricks are likely to be preferred.

    Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to locate appropriate cost information for aspects of these suggestions.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:24 PM

  212. “You simply assert that reducing emissions by “half that goal”, i.e. a 35 percent reduction would be “incredible”. You don’t support that assertion with any evidence.”

    Look you’re not supposed to ASK HIM QUESTIONS.

    Just take it as right.

    Be “skeptical” like he is, and just accept what he says as the truth. That’s the new-wave skeptical.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Apr 2009 @ 4:51 PM

  213. This seems a little off topic (from the discussion of early spring and late autumn) but several posts discussed Arctic Ice so I’ll ask…

    I’d read that in 2007, Arctic sea ice was at its lowest level in history. Searching further, I’d read what seemed to be the same article but instead of “lowest level in history” it said “lowest level in human memory” and another “lowest level in recorded history”. I believe that all of these meant “lowest level since 1979″ but would like to be corrected if that is not correct.

    Trying to get that sorted out lead me to the question which I’m not sure can be answered but would help put the discussion in context for me…

    Is anyone aware of ice core samples from the Arctic, or any other methods that have shown how old the oldest ice is in the relevant area of Arctic sea ice to the discussion of climate change? In other words, when was the Arctic sea ice as diminished as it was in 2007 (or was it ever)? I’m aware that Greenland ice core sample layers have been dated. Has that been done for Arctic sea ice? (Can it be done?)

    In my trying to get a feel for how extreme an event loss of Arctic sea ice actually is, and knowing when the 2007 level of Arctic sea ice last occurred (the age of the oldest ice in the relevant area) would be very useful information. Thanks to anyone who can answer these questions or point me to the answers. I’ve tried, but haven’t been able to find succinct answers to these questions myself.

    Thanks,

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 15 Apr 2009 @ 6:23 PM

  214. It’s not about emissions reduction, Walt, it is about halting the combustion of fossil fuels. After all, every time you take a breath you emit CO2 – but that CO2 was in the atmosphere a few years ago, was fixed by a plant and so made its way to you, and you converted it back to CO2 and returned it to the atmosphere. Such “emissions” are not problematic – it is the additions of fossil CO2 to the overall carbon cycle that are problematic.

    Halting the use of fossil fuel is itself a geoengineering approach, is it not? A deliberate attempt to change the composition of the atmosphere to reduce climate change – isn’t that the very definition of “geoengineering”?

    For examples of how to replace coal plants with solar and wind, see:
    http://www.sustainabilitymatters.net.au/news/27670-Australian-solar-technology-powering-California

    Australian solar technology powering California

    Ausra and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have launched the company’s Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant in Bakersfield, showcasing the company’s ‘next generation’ concentrating solar thermal technology, which was originally innovated in Australia.

    Schwarzenegger joined Ausra president, CEO and chairman Bob Fishman, US Reps Jim Costa (CA-20) and Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), California Assemblymember Jean Fuller and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) CEO Peter Darbee in launching a new era of solar thermal power with the turning of Ausra’s large solar thermal mirrors.

    “This plant proves that our technology is real, it works, and it’s ready to power businesses or provide process steam for industries now,” said Fishman.

    At full output, Kimberlina will be able to generate 5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3500 homes in central California.

    See also http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1837616.htm

    Such prototypes can be scaled up to gigawatt scale – just as powerful as any coal or nuclear plant, but with the added benefit of modular construction – you can make any size you like. Unlike FutureGen, they have working prototypes that deliver power with zero CO2 emissions – and all with no support from the DOE or any other branch of the federal government – also unlike FutureGen, which has pulled in several billion dollars in federal funding – all with nothing to show for it.

    Is that what you call “the free enterprise system”, or is it a corporate welfare program based on fraud and deception? As far as “lack of political will”, 75% of the public supports the rapid development of renewables. Unless you believe that public opinion doesn’t matter, there’s plenty of political will.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:33 PM

  215. Tad, the Arctic sea ice is 1,2,3,4,5 years old, no more.
    This isn’t a polar ice cap, that adds up forever.
    The drilling just hits salt water under the ice.
    I’s sea ice.
    Here’s a good summary with pictures on the age change:
    http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2009/04/arctic-sea-ice.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:49 PM

  216. Tad: Why there is no old sea ice can be easily seen on the ice drift maps produced by IFREMER at
    ftp://ftp.ifremer.fr/ifremer/cersat/products/gridded/psi-drift/quicklooks/arctic/amsre-merged/

    Winds drive the ice movements. The circulation may reverse from one day to another, but there is a pattern of outflow through the Fram Strait to the Atlantic.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 15 Apr 2009 @ 10:06 PM

  217. #214 Thank you Hank. That makes sense.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 15 Apr 2009 @ 10:43 PM

  218. RE Tad Boyd 15 avril 2009 at 6:23 PM (&BTW william “just as we saw a return to more normal sea ice extent this year.” NOT)

    for a quick picture of what’s happened to Arctic sea ice, try
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2007.jpg
    (When will I admit global warming has stopped? When the summertime arctic ice extent is above 9e6km^2 for ten years running)

    for a more in-depth discussion, start with http://www.nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Because it’s floating, Arctic ice moves, and eventually floats out into the Atlantic. Fifty years ago, when the ice was thicker than now, this process took longer, but even then there wasn’t any really old ice. for a movie of the movement and age of ice, see
    http://www.nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20090406_animation.gif

    My nonscientist opinion is that the arctic sea ice is transitioning from a structure that responds to climate to one that will respond to weather. Whether we set a new record low extent this year depends more on the winds, clouds, precipitation, SST & surface currents than the progression of global warming.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Apr 2009 @ 11:13 PM

  219. #216, #218 Pekka and Brian,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. Pekka, all I was able to see was an icon when I tried to open some of the .png files but that’s ok. I now have a clue about the nature of the Arctic sea ice and know why I couldn’t find what I was looking for (I was looking for the wrong things). Brian, great and helpful links.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 16 Apr 2009 @ 12:20 AM

  220. “April has, in a very real sense, become May” ?

    Not in Minnesota. :)

    Comment by Margie K. — 16 Apr 2009 @ 12:35 AM

  221. Walt Bennett writes:

    You and I agree that both emissions reduction and drawdown are needed, and needed soon, and thus the best approach is to recognize those dual truths.

    That’s all I’ve been saying.

    That is NOT what you’ve been saying. You’ve been saying WE SHOULDN’T EVEN TRY to reduce emissions because the public won’t accept it. You’ve been saying we should completely roll over and let the fossil fuel companies have their way. Go back and read your own posts!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Apr 2009 @ 5:35 AM

  222. “That is NOT what you’ve been saying. You’ve been saying WE SHOULDN’T EVEN TRY to reduce emissions because the public won’t accept it.”

    You can’t see his reasoning: he’s not getting anywhere with “we shouldn’t try reducing emissions, we should geoengineer first” so he’s now having to pretend that he never said it.

    Hopefully someone coming along new to the thread won’t read it all and will think that people are attacking him personally.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Apr 2009 @ 6:40 AM

  223. Fascinating though the mitigation/emissions debate isn’t, I’d like to drag this comments thread back on-topic, here’s a couple of the latest published papers on this topic:

    The impact of changing climate on phenology, productivity, and benthic–pelagic coupling in Narragansett Bay; Nixon et al.; Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 82 (2009)

    …The traditional winter–spring bloom has decreased or, in many years, disappeared. Relatively short, often intense, diatom blooms have become common in spring, summer, and fall replacing the summer flagellate blooms of the past. The annual and summer mean abundance (cell counts) and biomass (chl a) of phytoplankton appear to have decreased based on almost 50 years of biweekly monitoring by others at a mid bay station. These changes have been related to warming of the water, especially during winter, and to increased cloudiness. A significant decline in the winter wind speed may also have played a role. The changes in the phenology of the phytoplankton and the oligotrophication of the bay appear to have decreased greatly the quantity and (perhaps) quality of the organic matter being deposited on the bottom of the bay. This decline has resulted in a very much reduced benthic metabolism as reflected in oxygen uptake, nutrient regeneration, and the magnitude and direction of the net flux of N2 gas. Based on many decades of standard weekly trawls carried out by the Graduate School of Oceanography, the winter biomass of bottom feeding epibenthic animals has also declined sharply at the mid bay station…

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WDV-4V7627F-1&_user=1549444&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000053656&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1549444&md5=26eeb62256fb2fe7b1d7dfe88695ba5e

    Adjustment of the annual cycle to climatic change in a long-lived migratory bird species; Moller et al.; Acta Zoologica Sinica 55 (2009)

    …Mean breeding date advanced by almost three weeks during the last 70 years. Annual arrival date at the breeding grounds during a period of 47 years was predicted by environmental conditions in the winter quarters in the Southern Ocean near the Antarctic and by mean breeding date the previous year. Annual mean breeding date was only marginally determined by timing of arrival the current year, but to a larger extent by arrival date and breeding date the previous year. Learning affected arrival date as shown by a positive correlation between arrival date in year (i+1) relative to breeding date in year (i) and the selective advantage of early breeding in year (i). This provides a mechanism for changes in arrival date being adjusted to changing environmental conditions. This study suggests that adaptation to changing climatic conditions can be achieved through learning from year to year.

    http://www.currentzoology.org/chinese/paperdetail.asp?id=11113

    I’ve also managed to remove the ugly red circle from the 1300 years of cherry blossom link in my last post (#196)

    Comment by Chris S — 16 Apr 2009 @ 7:07 AM

  224. Michael wrote: “SecularAnimist, take a look at our wind and solar energy production … I don’t think you realise the size of the mountain you are trying to move when you suggest we could transition over to wind and solar as major energy sources.”

    I realize that at one time there were ZERO personal computers in the world.

    I realize that at one time there were ZERO cell phones in the world.

    I realize that at one time there were ZERO Internet connections in the world.

    I realize that at one time there were ZERO communications satellites in orbit around the Earth.

    I realize that at one time there were ZERO broadband communication networks in the world.

    For that matter, I realize that at one time there were ZERO nuclear power plants in the world.

    Indeed, all of those things were true in my lifetime.

    We absolutely can generate abundant electricity to power a comfortable, technologically advanced society, indefinitely, from the Earth’s abundance of wind and solar energy resources, using today’s technology.

    Whether we in fact do so or not, is a choice.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Apr 2009 @ 9:49 AM

  225. Jim Bouldin, “It is hard for me to envision any plausible scenario in which there will not be a very substantial die-off of the human species by the end of this century.”…is a good example of what I’m refering to.

    Right, good example…except for the small issue that such a thing was never said by either SecularAnimist, or anyone else in the thread.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Apr 2009 @ 10:53 AM

  226. Actually, Jim Bouldin, the commenter is quoting me correctly. I did post that comment on the “Wilkins ice shelf collapse” thread about a week ago. Here’s the rest of what I wrote:

    the Himalayan glaciers that provide much of the fresh water supply for southern and eastern Asia are melting away. When they are gone, a billion or more people will be without fresh water. Without fresh water, they will die.

    At current levels of warming — even without any further warming — the melting away of those glaciers appears unstoppable and irreversible. With the additional warming that is almost certainly locked in given current accelerating rates of CO2 emissions, they are only going to melt away sooner.

    And that’s just one of many problems. There will be similar huge losses of glacier-fed fresh water elsewhere, such as in South America or California. And the widespread, intense droughts that we are already seeing will only spread and intensify, with consequent large scale failures of agriculture all over the world. And oceanic fisheries on which billions of people depend for protein will disappear.

    I stand by all of that — except for one point, which is to acknowledge another commenter who correctly pointed out that the California freshwater supplies at risk are from snowpack, not from glaciers.

    I can certainly envision a scenario in which humanity acts quickly enough to reduce emissions so that we avoid truly horrific, biosphere-killing consequences of AGW. One recent study suggests that reducing emissions 70 percent by 2100 may be enough to do that. But that won’t prevent — and as far as I can tell it now seems virtually impossible to prevent — very serious impacts from global warming on fresh water supplies, agriculture and ocean acidity, which will be enough to cause “a very substantial die-off of the human species by the end of this century.”

    By a substantial die-off, I mean that I expect the world’s human population by 2100 to be no more than half of what it is today, perhaps much less if we fail to begin a rapid trajectory of emissions reductions within the next 5 to 10 years. And every year of delay increasingly “locks in” more and more severe effects.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Apr 2009 @ 11:36 AM

  227. Re: #221

    Bart,

    Your fake quote is grotesquely far off the mark, and gets my argument completely backward.

    I don’t think you did that on purpose, but you did do it, so you will have to figure out how it happened.

    Maybe go back and read what I actually wrote.

    In any case, the argument is that we cannot reduce emissions quickly enough to make a difference in the important benchmarks that we know of.

    You quote the report regarding 70% reductions by 2100 as though it is a reasonable expectation, but let me ask you this: what will be the year when China produces lower emissions as a national plan and not just because of a brief economic slowdown? What about China?

    In other words, the U.S. could reduce emissions by a large amount, as could Europe, and the total amount could still GROW for at least the next decade. Now factor in this: it will take decades for the U.S. to hit that number, and I mean maybe 50 years. Hell, it’s already been more than 20 years since Hansen’s testimony, and we still INCREASE our emissions. I’d be stunned if our first year of lower emissions (other than due to economic conditions) occurs during the eight years Obama may be in office.

    It really is that difficult to turn that ship around, for many intermingled and stubborn reasons.

    But your assertion that the above argument is tantamount to “we shouldn’t even bother” is absurd.

    On the other hand, the shock therapy you imagine is dead on arrival, as it should be.

    So, when will you get on board with a reality-based approach?

    [Response: Edmund Burke: “”Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” – gavin]

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  228. Re: #214

    Ike,

    I absolutely agree that reducing fossil fuel emissions is a geo-engineering project (or a collection of several) as is the development of alternative, clean, renewable sources of energy, and OF COURSE there is public support for both.

    Let’s not get too fooled by that.

    What there is not, today is any sort of consensus (FAR from it) on how much to reduce, how to do so, in what time frame, and what to do about those nations that refuse to do so.

    Nowhere close to that.

    15+ years after Kyoto…

    So, as you’ve seen me explain, the idea is to start with the reality that we are some years away from actually reducing those emissions, and when we get there we will be at a higher point than we are today, so the initial reductions will simply return us here.

    By when, would you say? 2020? That would be a job well done, to reverse the coming increases back to today’s level, with a downward trajectory, by 2020.

    Now: Do we have that long?

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:12 PM

  229. SecularAnimist, like I said I admire your optimism. I guess we both agree on the size of the mountain that needs moved.

    Comment by Michael — 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  230. To your credit for being honest about it Animist. However, to be precise, I asked Michael (208) for where in this thread that quote had been made, because I sure hadn’t seen it. He pulled from another thread but didn’t state it.

    About how many will die, you could be right I don’t know, but the consequences are likely to be severe whatever the actual number. But I very much agree with your views on renewable energies and the rapidity with which they can be instituted. Wind in particular is already booming and the speed with which large capacity farms have been set up recently is astounding. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it first-hand(e.g. Peetz wind farm in CO and another one near it). Also, the degree to which people ignore the incredible effectiveness and importance of conservation NOW, while discussing geo-engineering schemes, just throws me into a veritable conniption and shows how deeply addicted to their “lifestyles” people are, to the detriment of anything and everything external to themselves. Idiots. Dangerous idiots.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:41 PM

  231. Re: #230

    Jim,

    With regard to renewable sources, one major roadblock is the grid, which is not well suited for long distance transport of electricity.

    Wind and solar farms will tend to be built far from where the juice is needed.

    I have advocated a national program akin to the Interstate Highway System (and using much of its right of way) to completely rebuild the grid with the future in mind.

    I want it done in the next decade. Are you with me?

    P.S. I’m with you completely on conservation. We in the U.S. need to learn to live on perhaps one third of the energy we’re used to.

    Again: timelines. Long. Decades.

    That’s just the plain reality of it.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 16 Apr 2009 @ 2:17 PM

  232. Walt Bennett (224) — To follow the definitions, emissions reduction is called mitigation, not geo-engineering. Sequestering excess CO2 is an example of the latter.

    (I’ve been guilty of this confusion myself.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Apr 2009 @ 2:20 PM

  233. “Nowhere close to that.

    15+ years after Kyoto…”

    And why?

    Because the denialosphere was saying that there was no such thing as warming, that more time was needed to see if there was anything substantive.

    And now, after a maximum, they’re saying that it’s cooling.

    How will this effect change if the money is to go to geo-engineering rather than curbing fossil fuels? The cry will be the same.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Apr 2009 @ 2:33 PM

  234. Walt, I know enough about the grid only to be very dangerous, but if you have a reasonably workable plan by which we can distribute solar or wind energy from where it’s farmed to where it’s used, I’m absolutely with you, no question.

    Nevertheless, conservation is, and always will be, numero uno in my book.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Apr 2009 @ 2:49 PM

  235. [die-off] We can have a massive human die-off and not actually reduce the global population; just maintaining population at current levels (zero increase) would require either families working strictly at replacement levels over generational time spans (unlikely) or else significantly increased mortality across the board. Stasis in population numbers for any period of time could imply a fairly horrific level of mortality, war and disease.

    Current global population increase is around 1.2%. That’s 80M humans a year at present (and is the second derivative of growth also positive? I assume so).

    What we are seeing in modern times — massive increases in population — are associated with modern medicine, abundant energy, general global peace, and sustained humanitarian efforts (and still we wring our hands over human suffering even at these levels of attention). Pull a few of those out of the mix and you might hit zero population growth finally, but the mortality and suffering on the ground (80+ million dead a year over current mortality levels) would be a humanitarian nightmare once it started.

    And then you have to think about what it would look like to get population decline, or classical die-off as discussed here. I think that would imply total systemic ecological, economic and political collapse, followed by widespread acceptance of cannibalism.

    My point is that you’d be in a bad way just getting to zero growth. Anything less than zero (die-off) is simply too ghastly to contemplate and almost certain entails a level of collapse that, if you could imagine it, would make your head explode.

    ref: CIA World Factbook

    cougar

    Comment by cougar_w — 16 Apr 2009 @ 3:21 PM

  236. Conservation may hurt more than it helps. If we need to increase production of our agricultural, medical services, clean drinking water delivery, etc. to meet the needs of AGW crises around the world, it may mean an increase in energy consumption in the developed (and developing) world. If we push for cheaper, more readily available energy to meet the world’s needs it may be in direct opposition to the crowd pushing for more energy restrictions.

    If conservation only gives us marginal results in the war on GW, why not just throw out the concept altogether? It just doesn’t seem like a cause worth supporting.

    [Response: Huh? I suppose your computer is still run on vacuum tubes and uses the energy of a small town to power it? – gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 16 Apr 2009 @ 3:39 PM

  237. To bring my prior post onto the topic, one dilemma regarding AGW is that it might tend to improve the human condition initially, and perhaps reduce mortality overall (making the second derivative of change more positive). Longer growing seasons and milder winters are occasionally offered by the Dark Side as a reason we should embrace GW. The same might apply to decreasing ice at the poles (freeing up circumpolar arable land) and supposed CO2 fertilizer effects on plants (bogus, but there you have it.)

    Some of the phenological changes are undeniably favorable to farmers and land developers. Problems with pests and disease vectors could be addressed via the extensive application of technical solutions like pesticides and hospital treatment. No doubt this sounds just fine to a bunch of people out there in the corporatocracy.

    Meaning, perhaps humanity gets a brief but significant boost from climate changes just before we fall into the climate meat grinder, as it were. It is tempting to suppose that how far we have to fall (from what initial level) might dictate how well we cope humanitarily, and how badly we fair on sudden impact at our natural population bottom. A “boost” of any kind sounds like a Bad Thing to me, but that’s because I think we’re going down — down hard — regardless.

    The idea that we might bear witness to the changes, since we cannot halt them, is chilling. It is worth reminding the readers that Anne Frank bore witness before us of another sickening “die-off” and we’re still not free of the horror.

    Comment by cougar_w — 16 Apr 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  238. “Huh? I suppose your computer is still run on vacuum tubes and uses the energy of a small town to power it?”

    I see where you are going there – your making the point that our industry is self-efficient by nature since we have an evolution from vacuum tubes to IC’s, and operates most efficiently with no influence from outside sources. Got it.

    [Response: Umm… no. The point is that greater productivity and the reason why we are much richer than our grandparent is based on doing more with less – including energy, materials and labour. While there is a normal tendency for this to happen in any case, there are plenty of unrealised efficiencies in the energy system that require investment. I fail to see that encouraging that investment so that energy use decreases is something that is not worth doing. Especially if you actually do the sums. – gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 16 Apr 2009 @ 4:04 PM

  239. Michael wrote: “If we push for cheaper, more readily available energy to meet the world’s needs it may be in direct opposition to the crowd pushing for more energy restrictions.”

    No one is pushing for “energy restrictions”. People are pushing for restrictions on CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. And lots of people are pushing for cheaper, more readily available electricity from wind and solar energy.

    And improvements in efficiency are not “energy restrictions” either. How is it a “restriction” if improved technology allows me to get the same utility from less energy?

    The only people I know of who equate “cheaper, more readily available energy” with “continued, increasing use of fossil fuels” are the fossil fuel corporations and their political allies.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Apr 2009 @ 4:12 PM

  240. cougar_w:

    Consider that the Indus, the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yange Tse, and the Yellow rivers all rise in the Tibetan plateau. When the glaciers are gone, these rivers will be dry for significant periods every year.

    Consider that half the world’s population lives in the countries these rivers water.

    Consider that three of these countries have nuclear weapons. They have fought several wars with each other in the last 50 years.

    I suspect that when the rivers stop running more than heads will explode.

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 16 Apr 2009 @ 4:15 PM

  241. “Conservation may hurt more than it helps.”

    It also depends very much on what kind of conservation you are talking about: conservation from things like:

    Better insulation in houses
    More efficient cars, computers, fridges, etc. (and smaller + lighter where appropriate)
    Better public transit systems, less sprawl, and therefore fewer VMT in cars (efficient or not)
    Smaller houses, fewer yachts, and less plane travel for the rich
    Less wasteful agricultural systems

    are not really going to reduce the adaptive ability of the world, and in some cases may actually improve it. What we _do_ need to be careful of is that increased energy prices resulting from carbon taxes or cap & trade have appropriate rebates or set-asides such that the poor can still afford adaptive measures, some of which may well lead to increased energy consumption (like air conditioning in the summer). Some environmental activists suggest that a fraction of revenues from a tax/cap system should go into an “adaptation fund” for developing nations.

    While some adaptation will be necessary in almost any foreseeable future, if we _don’t_ mitigate, the magnitude of that required adaptation may become overwhelming, and if we do mitigate, it may be manageable.

    Comment by Marcus — 16 Apr 2009 @ 4:34 PM

  242. SecularAnimist: ‘No one is pushing for “energy restrictions”.’

    I believe they are: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/4536352/Flights-could-be-rationed-says-environment-tsar-Lord-Turner.html

    Comment by Swann — 16 Apr 2009 @ 5:19 PM

  243. Gavin, ‘Kick the Habit’ is an interesting read, but what it boils down to is this: bang for your buck. Lets say for argument that mitigation costs are quantifiable for most industries. How much will all this effort change the warming trend? It could be argued that a mitigated future and a non mitigated future don’t look that different from each other.

    Comment by Michael — 16 Apr 2009 @ 5:46 PM

  244. If conservation only gives us marginal results in the war on GW, why not just throw out the concept altogether? It just doesn’t seem like a cause worth supporting.

    There have been some outrageous comments made on this site, but for unmitigated and unsupportable stupidity, that one takes home the hardware.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 16 Apr 2009 @ 7:33 PM

  245. Michael @238 says “If conservation only gives us marginal results in the war on GW, why not just throw out the concept altogether? It just doesn’t seem like a cause worth supporting.”

    Spoken like a man who hasn’t done his homework–be it about potential tipping points or consequences of climate change or what will be needed to mitigate these consequences. First, read “Six Degrees”. There is a huge difference between 3 degrees warming and 6 degrees–we’re talking mass extinction huge. Second, consider that famous “temperature leads CO2″ talking point denialists always trot out. What it really means is that at some point we start to get large CO2 increase from natural sources–and then the game is over. Third, consider that it takes time to develop mitigations, and since we’ve just wasted 20 years arguing over settled science, the only way we buy time is by serious conservation.

    This isn’t some green gambit, Michael. It’s real–real enough that deep ecology folks like Lovelock are advocating nuclear power. It might be to your advantage to learn the science. It would certainly be to the advantage of any progeny you leave behind.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Apr 2009 @ 8:16 PM

  246. Having done some more looking into the matter, it may be that growing algae without CO2 assist can produce 85–100 t/ha/yr of biochr, at a cost comparable to that of coal. If this is right, one way to rpidly mitigate is to begin competing seriously with the fossil coal industry.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Apr 2009 @ 8:55 PM

  247. @ David B. Benson 16 April 2009 at 8:55 PM

    Petrosun, a small oil company that owns 900,000+ acres of oil leases in AZ & NM, “…a diversified energy company with technology and operations in oil, natural gas and helium exploration, development and production…” bought an 1100 acre shrimp farm in Rio Hondo TX to convert to producing algae oil for biofuels. The company president is a self described 3rd generation oilman and petroleum geologist, but it’s pretty obvious where he thinks the future is, or at least where it’s prudent to hedge some bets. They’re predicting 2000 gallons of biodiesel per acre (~20,000l/ha) per year.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 16 Apr 2009 @ 11:04 PM

  248. Just an aside ;) about the origin of this thread, where Eric says
    I’ve been dismissive of the idea that the average person can really detect the impacts of recent warming on, for example, the timing of the apple-blossom season, but I’ve been taken to task by several of RealClimate’s readers for this. If you are paying attention, they have argued, the changes are actually rather obvious.

    If one has a taste for apples, the timing and quality of the bloom period is actually very relevent to considerations of the effects of climate, as the length of the dormancy period is critical for apple production, as well as some other tree crops, and when the winter months don’t supply the necessary “degree days” the bloom can be quite unproductive, especially those pesky blossoms that don’t open until harvest time, triggered by the first few cool nights in Sept …. there’s also the fairly major problem that’s been happening here [west coast Canada] where a primary pollinator [Orchard Mason bees] are appearing well ahead of the fruit bloom because of a few earlier high temperature days so that their cycle is winding down by peak bloom period …. you’ll see the effect in store availability and price one year soon I’d bet

    Comment by squeeze — 17 Apr 2009 @ 12:29 AM

  249. Michael Says (16 April 2009 at 3:39 PM):

    “If conservation only gives us marginal results in the war on GW, why not just throw out the concept altogether?”

    Err… Money? As for example, by insulating my house, I went from using several hundred gallons of heating oil a year to something less than 50. At last fall’s prices, that’s about thousand bucks I have to do something else with.

    I drive a car that gets 70 mpg. At say 10K miles per year, I’m spending $700-$1500 (depending on whether it’s $2 or $4/gallon) less than someone who gets 20 mpg. More money in my pocket – plus I have the fun of driving a zippy little 2-seater rather than something that handles like a waterbed.

    I dry my clothes on a line – more money in my pocket, plus they smell better. Use CFLs rather than incandescents – again, more money in my pocket, and better quality light to boot.

    All these things, and more, are worth doing regardless of any CO2 reduction, simply because they put money in your pocket. Indeed, I was doing most of them long before I learned enough about AGW to see it as a serious problem.

    Comment by James — 17 Apr 2009 @ 2:01 AM

  250. “SecularAnimist: ‘No one is pushing for “energy restrictions”.’ ”

    And, like the Port Talbot steelworks when they changed the processes and cut 90% of their energy needs, this does NOT mean you can’t do what you want. It DOES mean “find more efficient ways of doing what you want”.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Apr 2009 @ 2:51 AM

  251. “This isn’t some green gambit, Michael. It’s real–real enough that deep ecology folks like Lovelock are advocating nuclear power.” – Ray Ladbury

    Ray, not disagreeing with your argument, but Lovelock has always been a nuclear-power booster. He’s an octogenarian engineer, brought up on the idea that nuclear power would usher in the golden age.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 17 Apr 2009 @ 5:31 AM

  252. …plus I have the fun of driving a zippy little 2-seater rather than something that handles like a waterbed.

    Of course, some do prefer the latter.

    I dry my clothes on a line – more money in my pocket, plus they smell better

    That’s a slippery slope to communism.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Apr 2009 @ 8:35 AM

  253. “I dry my clothes on a line – more money in my pocket, plus they smell better

    That’s a slippery slope to communism.”

    Wha?

    Having better smelling clothes leads to communism???

    Comment by Mark — 17 Apr 2009 @ 9:09 AM

  254. #210 & #248

    I was hoping for a response from Eric (because it is very cool getting an authoritative answer from an actual scientist) on post #210 but understand he is probably busy, doing science… So I tried to find some state by state season start times, over time to get a feel for the changes occurring as reported in this article versus my perceptions. I didn’t find what I was looking for (if anyone has any links to such info…) I did however find a useful blurb related to the subject on encarta.msn.com concerning Washington State’s growing season.

    http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761572009_2/Washington_(state).html

    D 3 Growing Season

    Because of the extreme climatic differences between eastern and western Washington, the growing season ranges from 100 days in some of the mountain areas to 280 days along parts of the Pacific shore. In eastern Washington the growing season is from 120 to 200 days. In the Puget Trough the growing season is from 160 to 240 days.

    So I find our growing season can vary by almost 3 months (I’m in the Puget Trough). So any differences I perceive from year to year are well within the norm. For instance, we lost a lot of fruit last year because it snowed in may, froze everything. I thought that this was way out of the norm, but apparently, not at all.

    For folks posting about differences in the start of spring by a week or two, are your states growing seasons less variable than what we have here in Washington?

    #248 – I’d suspect (but don’t really know of course) that Western Canada would probably have a large normal range like us. Is it possible that the behavior of the bees is within the range of the norm or is it truly anomalous?

    Very interesting topic. Thanks all for sharing.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 17 Apr 2009 @ 9:55 AM

  255. “For folks posting about differences in the start of spring by a week or two, are your states growing seasons less variable than what we have here in Washington?”

    No.

    Think on this:

    ICAO standard man is 5′ 8″.

    But how can that be??? Look at the variation in heights!

    At 2.57 metres (8 ft 5.5 in), Leonid Stadnyk, of Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine, is believed to be the world’s tallest living man, although his height is disputed. The tallest man in modern history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from Illinois in the United States, who was born in 1918 and stood 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 inches) at the time of his death in 1940.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height)

    How can they do that?

    By the “magic” of statistics.

    What you do is take a lot of dates at which a certain temperature was reached. At that temperature, spring starts in that region.

    Now, take an average over many years and see the series of average date for the last 1,000 years.

    Looky here! The day at which that temperature was reached and spring started is getting earlier!

    If you don’t like defining spring as “when it reaches 12C in Washington on midday”, then how about when Peregrine chicks hatch.

    Take the average over some decades and repeat for as long as you have records.

    Oh, look. Chicks are hatching earlier.

    Now is this because the peregrine has decided that they will hatch in winter, or does it mean that spring is springing earlier?

    YOU decide.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Apr 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  256. #255

    Hi Mark,

    I think I understand what you are saying (though I’m not 100% sure so if I mottle it too much, let me know). You are saying that the high end of the growing season range (240 days) is like the 8 foot man, an outlier, as opposed to just part of the normal growing season range as I was reading it. I don’t know anything about Peregrine chicks but I suspect the normal range for their hatching is narrower than our growing season in Washington so perhaps make a better indicator of changes in the arrival of spring.

    Ultimately what I think you are saying is that if the average, even though it is within the “normal range” (which I was taking the 160 days to 240 days to mean but would be incorrect if the 240 days was analogous to the 8 foot man) is earlier than previous averages over time, that indicates out of the ordinary beginnings of spring. And that knowing the growing season range is not useful.

    So what I really need is, kind of what I was originally seeking, is that “average over many years and see the series of average date for the last 1,000 years”, (or whatever is actually available in regards to the start of Spring). And then some concept of what time period is appropriate for assessing changes in the average start time of spring as to determine relevance to climate change. This is probably where Eric’s help would really come in handy. Do you have any pointers to that kind of information concerning the start of spring by state?

    This also suggests to me that what I’m seeing (perceiving) in my own garden from year to year is not actually helpful in trying to determine the effects of climate change.

    Thanks for your input Mark.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 17 Apr 2009 @ 11:14 AM

  257. Walt Bennett

    If you are interested in a discussion of the points of contention and possible misconceptions, I would be happy to talk to you about some of these points and maybe we can both learn something new? Please feel free to contact me though the OSS site:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/contact-info

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 17 Apr 2009 @ 11:19 AM

  258. Ray, I appreciate the sentiment, but lets squeeze all emotion out of the argument. Technically speaking how do you decide if you have chosen the best solution to the climate crisis? I.e. The solution that has the greatest chance of success, the quickest rollout, with the least collatoral damage?

    Would you be able to take mitigation or conservation off the table if the job called for it?

    Comment by Michael — 17 Apr 2009 @ 11:22 AM

  259. Does somebody want to talk to Mark about his signal to noise ratio?

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 17 Apr 2009 @ 12:26 PM

  260. Jim Bouldin Says (17 April 2009 at 8:35 AM):

    “Of course, some do prefer the latter.”

    The link just goes to the RealClimate home page?

    But I think that’s really my point: preferences. For a lot of reasons, I’ve generally preferred a set of lifestyle choices that result in a fairly low (for the US) carbon footprint. Money’s one of those reasons, but far from the only one, and reducing carbon footprint as a goal didn’t even enter my thoughts until the last decade or so. Yet I don’t think I’ve gotten less enjoyment from my lifestyle than have those who’ve thoughtlessly followed the mainstream – and I’m pretty sure that one consequence has been that I’m better off physically & financially than the average.

    So I have to wonder, what’s not to like? Even forgetting about AGW for the moment, why are so many people so attached to Bush’s sacred American lifestyle; a lifestyle whose main effects, as far as I can see, have been to leave its followers in debt and overweight?

    Comment by James — 17 Apr 2009 @ 2:29 PM

  261. Brian Dodge (247) — Thank you; I was using 15,000 l/ha/yr so it does seem likely that biochar from algae can compete with fossil coal.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Apr 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  262. Without the Friday Roundup, I’m not sure where to put this late breaking announcement from EPA. Here’s the Environmental Defense Fund’s summary of the EPA’s proposal and their brief comment on it:

    “In an historic decision (today), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a proposed ruling that global warming pollution “endangers” Americans’ health and well-being.

    “Today’s action sets the stage for using authority under the Clean Air Act to establish national emission standards for large global warming emitters.

    “EDF’s deputy general counsel Vickie Patton says that with today’s announcement, “The U.S. is taking its first steps as a nation to confront climate change. EPA’s action is a wake up-call for national policy solutions that secure our economic and environmental future.”

    The EPA is now expected to begin developing national emission standards for new motor vehicles and new coal-fired power plants, the nation’s two largest sources of global warming pollution.”

    Finally!

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 17 Apr 2009 @ 4:13 PM

  263. Oops, that should have been, “some do prefer the latter.”

    I couldn’t agree with your more James (260). Conservation is all upside.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Apr 2009 @ 4:26 PM

  264. James pondered: “Even forgetting about AGW for the moment, why are so many people so attached to … a lifestyle whose main effects, as far as I can see, have been to leave its followers in debt and overweight?”

    Because billions of dollars have been spent to use the most powerful brainwashing techniques ever created, via the most far-reaching mass communications tools ever invented, to hypnotize hundreds of millions of people into believing that the Debt And Obesity Lifestyle is “the good life”, and the way to achieve it is to work long and hard, and make as much money as possible, and spend all of it and as much as you can borrow on “consumer goods”.

    It’s called “advertising”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Apr 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  265. James (260) and SA (264):

    While you guys might even be right about some of that, you sound just like the nanny state proponents that many people accuse of using AGW as an excuse for implementing forced lifestyle changes.

    If you can convince people to voluntarily use less energy, great. But that is not the perception.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 17 Apr 2009 @ 7:39 PM

  266. Michael asks: “Would you be able to take mitigation or conservation off the table if the job called for it?”

    The “job” is survival. The “job” is the preservation of human civilization in a form that at least conveys most of its benefits to our progeny. So, I do not see how that cannot involve conservation and mitigation. At present, conservation is the most viable strategy, and every mole of CO2 we do not put into the atmosphere buys back some of the precious time we have squandered in denial. So, unless you can explain how we reach the goal of a sustainability while ignoring physical reality, then I don’t see how your question makes sense.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Apr 2009 @ 8:46 PM

  267. “You are saying that the high end of the growing season range (240 days) is like the 8 foot man, an outlier, as opposed to just part of the normal growing season range as I was reading it.”

    Yes.

    And, like determining the “average” height, you have to take a sample to reduce the effect of outliers. You DO know that they have found the average height of the UK citizen has gone up, due to better nutrition and healthcare, especially post-natal, don’t you? How do you think they worked that out?

    So, just like you can see the average height of the UK citizen has gone up in the last 50 years, you can do the same thing with when spring starts.

    With the humans, take a sample of a lot of humans.

    With the weather, wait for a long time and use all the days you’ve seen to work out the average.

    “This also suggests to me that what I’m seeing (perceiving) in my own garden from year to year is not actually helpful in trying to determine the effects of climate change.”

    Yup.

    If you have the book available, “The Science of Discworld” has a section on how we are pattern-seeking machines. You will see a pattern that, statistically speaking (or, put another way, objectively), doesn’t exist.

    You remember when three busses stopped at the same time. You don’t remember when the bus was on time.

    So you consider busses always run late and none will turn up for hours and then three all at once.

    Comment by Mark — 18 Apr 2009 @ 5:43 AM

  268. Steve Reynolds says “…you sound just like the nanny state proponents that many people accuse of using AGW as an excuse for implementing forced lifestyle changes.”

    No, what they sound like are enthusiasts–advocates of a lifestyle. It just happens to be a lifestyle that is a lot closer to one that can be sustained giiven the demands of a large population and the constraints of a finite planet.

    As to lifestyle changes, what is needed are rational pricing structures that reflect all costs so that people can make rational decisions. That’s what free markets are about, isn’t it? Raise prices for energy from fossil fuels (and they’re going to rise no matter what the government does), and people will consume less. Cheap petroleum has resulted in massive distortions of the global economy. I can buy rare tropical fruits like durian more cheaply than I can buy locally grown pears and apples. Cheap freight costs have decimated industry almost everywhere in favor of Chinese factories making inferior goods. Much of this is because fossil fuels do not have to reflect their environmental cost. Sometimes markets need a little help to be free.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Apr 2009 @ 6:44 AM

  269. Steve Reynolds Says (17 April 2009 at 7:39 PM):

    “While you guys might even be right about some of that, you sound just like the nanny state proponents…”

    Yeah, I’m so much of a nanny state proponent that I once ran for the state legislature – as a Libertarian :-)

    Sarcasm aside, it’s hard for me to see my preferred lifestyle as supporting your nanny state. I think it makes me less dependent on government, not more. If there’s any “nanny” in it at all, it’s only in the sense of the mother bird who pushes her fledglings out of the nest, so they can fly on their own.

    Comment by James — 18 Apr 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  270. Ray: “… what is needed are rational pricing structures that reflect all costs so that people can make rational decisions. That’s what free markets are about, isn’t it? Raise prices for energy from fossil fuels (and they’re going to rise no matter what the government does), and people will consume less.”

    For once, I agree 100%. As I’ve said before, I’m in favor of a carbon tax, as long as it is revenue neutral. Taxing something reduces quantities produced and consumed, so why not tax carbon, and reduce the heavy taxes on labor?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 18 Apr 2009 @ 1:47 PM

  271. Tad Boyd,

    I think your question on recent growing seasons in the Northwest might be more closely related to weather than to long term climate change.

    I can think of no one more authoritative (and fun to read) on Northwest weather than Cliff Mass. He has some recent blog entries on our cold spring.

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2009/04/upcoming-heat-wave.html

    His book, “The Weather of the Pacific Northwest” is a surprising best seller and well worth a read.

    Paul (A NW weather geek)
    See my personal weather station on Weather Underground. Look for Copalis Beach.

    Comment by Paul Middents — 18 Apr 2009 @ 2:46 PM

  272. Steve, Personally, I prefer a cap and trade scheme. I know you are concerned about the ability to manipulate the market. However, the legislative process can also be manipulated. Personally, I think that cap and trade has the best chance of reflecting real-world carbon costs and efficient allocation, and credits can even be traded internationally. It has worked very well for SO2 emissions. Odd that in this case I favor markets and you legislative solutions.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Apr 2009 @ 3:47 PM

  273. Steve Reynolds wrote in 270:

    For once, I agree 100%. As I’ve said before, I’m in favor of a carbon tax, as long as it is revenue neutral. Taxing something reduces quantities produced and consumed, so why not tax carbon, and reduce the heavy taxes on labor?

    YOU are in good company, Steve.

    Please see:

    Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is one of the leading voices for a carbon tax to address climate change, rather than backing the more widely used cap-and-trade approach. In his plan, Hansen recommends levying a rising tax on fossil fuels and redistributing 100 percent of the proceeds to taxpayers – a “tax and dividend” approach [PDF].

    Hansen to Obama: Support a Carbon Tax
    Ben Block
    December 15, 2008 3:39 PM
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009194.html

    Now I think I will set my affairs in order and find a bunker. (Like that will do any good.)

    Captcha fortune cookie: keep WEALTH

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Apr 2009 @ 5:07 PM

  274. Ray: “Odd that in this case I favor markets and you legislative solutions.”

    I don’t see how you can say that; they both require legislation to set up. Someone has to (either arbritraily or politically or at best informed guessing) set the cap quantity or the tax rate. The only difference (assuming a pure implementation and excluding corruption issues) is that the market sets the price in the cap case, and the market sets the quantity in the tax case.

    Also, I doubt the optimum quanty is any better known than the optimum price. I still like the proposal to have the tax rate increase with global temperatures. That could be easier to sell to skeptics (potentially an important point).

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 18 Apr 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  275. #271

    Thanks Paul, great link. Seeing the post from the skier about skiing into the summer last year gave me a brief moment of sadness for my friends who are still hitting the slopes (since warmer days appear to be ahead). I’m with the gardener though and am ready to start putting plants into the ground.

    I tried applying my perceptions of our state’s spring weather these past few years to the article that started this thread but as you said, just weather, and so is not relevant to the climate change discussion. Mark’s pointing out that you need to look at the direction of the average over time was helpful. I actually found information on Washington State winters that would allow this. It was in our state climatologist’s last newsletter. Past newsletters didn’t contain this type of information but perhaps future newsletters will, making it easier to test perceptions against reality. I think Eric is associated with the University of Washington so I thought he might have some pointers to that kind of information also.

    http://www.climate.washington.edu/newsletter/2009Apr.pdf

    With what my kids are bringing home from school and the frequent news reports on how global warming is harming us and could harm us in the future here in Washington; I’m trying to get a clue. RealClimate seems to be a good place to do that. I probably live a lower carbon lifestyle than most (telecommute 2 to 3 days a week and drive 5 miles to the park and ride to take the bus when I do have to go in) just because I don’t think it is good to be wasteful so I don’t really need the threats from global warming to motivate me toward that but I still like to know what is and what isn’t and am trying to fill in the missing pieces for myself. Not that easy to find time with work and family but clearly it’s important so here I am, blogging of all things.

    Thanks again,

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 19 Apr 2009 @ 1:39 AM

  276. > I still like the proposal to have the tax rate increase with global
    > temperatures.

    Indeed… but annual temperatures are useless for this as they are mostly noise.

    Also consider that the tax is paid in the now, but the costs happen in the future. You would have to base tax on temps 30 years plus into the future… which are only available as projections. Bringing discretion in again through the back door.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Apr 2009 @ 2:59 AM

  277. > That could be easier to sell to skeptics (potentially an important point).

    Eh, “skeptics” are perfectly capable of also considering the global temperature statistics as a product of evil manipulation…

    IOW, charming naiveté :-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Apr 2009 @ 3:13 AM

  278. Steve Reynolds, Actually, the quantity of ghg emitted is the physically relevant variable, since we are trying to hold emissions below levels where they will engender irreversible harm. Moreover, as we have seen for SO2, the market can also adjust the quantity as well as the price. As for setting an optimum price, that requires knowing the damage done, and there are very high uncertainties there on the high side.

    What I find especially troubling is the proposal for a “weather tax,” that is, a tax based on a short-term temperature averages. To reflect anything close to physical reality, you would have to base such a tax on the increase in temperature over the pervious 30 years, or perhaps more appropriately on the highest temperature reached in the last 30 years. Even then, what matters are the incremental effects for the future, so I don’t see how this is a winner.

    As to convincing the skeptics, I draw a distinction between skeptics like yourself, who at least accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and those still rejecting established science. We should not have to convince the former that there is a need to act (albeit, the extent of action can still be debated). The latter… Since what we need are intelligence, creativity and dedication to solve this problem, I cannot imagine anything they could offer us that we would find useful.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Apr 2009 @ 6:32 AM

  279. Martin: ““skeptics” are perfectly capable of also considering the global temperature statistics as a product of evil manipulation… …naiveté”

    Since noted skeptic Ross McKitrick has proposed a temperature-scaled carbon tax, I don’t think it is unreasonable to get skeptics to agree: it is a win-win situation. If temperatures continue to increase, you get a high carbon tax. In the unlikely case that temperatures go back down, the denialists can claim they were right and the tax goes away.

    As for time scale and preventing manipulation:

    Incremental changes in the tax rate should certainly be based on at least 10 year average statistics. A neutral organization would need to track and be responsible for better measurements, but wouldn’t that be useful anyway?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Apr 2009 @ 11:08 AM

  280. Ray: “Actually, the quantity of ghg emitted is the physically relevant variable, since we are trying to hold emissions below levels where they will engender irreversible harm.”

    If you do not consider cost as an equally relevant variable, you are blind to the economic side of the cost-benefit analysis.

    Ray: “you would have to base such a tax on the increase in temperature over the pervious 30 years, or perhaps more appropriately on the highest temperature reached in the last 30 years.”

    I agree on the initial rate being based on the last 30 year increase, but incremental changes can be faster. What does something like 1998 have to do with anything?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Apr 2009 @ 11:17 AM

  281. BYU professor discusses global warming
    Caleb Warnock – DAILY HERALD

    Is global warming real?

    On Thursday, the answer from Brigham Young University associate professor Richard Gill was a resounding yes. Speaking to a packed house in the Provo library, Gill was hosted by Utah Valley Sierra Forum. The real question, he said, is what is causing it.

    For 70 minutes, Gill presented an in-depth review of what is known about global temperature patterns, what is suspected, and what is forecast.

    “I don’t want to be a missionary; I’m not an evangelist for climate change,” Gill said. “What I want to show is where the science is.”

    The science considering climate change must be adversarial, Gill said, and skepticism is the most healthy approach for all involved.

    The reality of greenhouse gases is not under debate by any educated person, he said. Greenhouses gases are what make Earth habitable. Today’s global average temperature is 59 degrees, but would be zero degrees without greenhouses gases trapping heat in our atmosphere, warming the Earth. …

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 19 Apr 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  282. Steve Reynolds wrote: “… you sound just like the nanny state proponents that many people accuse of using AGW as an excuse for implementing forced lifestyle changes.”

    It’s funny how protecting ExxonMobil’s $40 Billion Per Year profits against competition from clean, renewable energy technologies has become a “libertarian” cause.

    It’s funny how maintaining massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations and exempting them from internalizing the full costs of their products has become a “free market” cause.

    Maybe it has something to do with fake, phony, pseudo-ideological propaganda mills disguised as so-called “conservative” think tanks churning out ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda?

    You know, it would seem to me that real “libertarians” would be the world’s most fervent advocates of distributed, individually-owned electricity generation, especially off-grid, or grid-connected with storage, wind and solar power systems. Talk about liberty — being able to produce all the electricity you need from your own private property, and even a surplus to sell, would seem to me to be a natural libertarian ideal.

    And yet in practice “libertarians” seem more concerned about the “liberty” of the fossil fuel corporations to pollute everyone’s air with impunity.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Apr 2009 @ 1:10 PM

  283. “If you do not consider cost as an equally relevant variable, you are blind to the economic side of the cost-benefit analysis.”

    Hm.

    Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?”

    Likewise, what worth your money when you are dead and all your loved ones die?

    Comment by Mark — 19 Apr 2009 @ 1:23 PM

  284. SA: “It’s funny how maintaining massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations and exempting them from internalizing the full costs of their products has become a “free market” cause.”

    Can you show any evidence of free market advocates supporting ‘massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations’?

    The same for ‘exempting them from internalizing the full costs of their products’. This one is not as clear, since the disagreement is over how much that cost is (and if it is even positive).

    SA: “…being able to produce all the electricity you need from your own private property, and even a surplus to sell, would seem to me to be a natural libertarian ideal.”

    While that ability would be attractive to most people, and maybe especially libertarians, it has little to do with the libertarian ideal. Libertarians want to be free from violent coercion.

    I’m not concerned that Exxon will force me to buy their products at the point of a gun. I am concerned that the EPA would stop me from emitting CO2 at the point of a gun (if I was willing to take it that far). As far as your concern with advertising, we expect free people to make their own choices.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Apr 2009 @ 2:29 PM

  285. Tad Boyd (275) — I recommend reading Mark Lynas”s “Six Degrees” whilst riding the bus. Here is a review:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece

    There are other good books to be found on the sidebar. David Archer’s “The Long Thaw” is one and comes well recommended.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Apr 2009 @ 3:42 PM

  286. 294: “I am concerned that the EPA would stop me from emitting CO2 at the point of a gun (if I was willing to take it that far).”

    Okay, now that is anti-government ignorance to the absolute extreme. In the USA, we live in a democracy (despite very strong evidence to the contrary in the past 8 years). You can not do harm to people or public welfare without consequences. In the case of pollution, it is EPA’s job to establish criteria to protect the public and public welfare. Read up on Donora, Pennsylvania if you want to see what happened prior to regulation. You can not emit CO2 if it is harming others. Plain and simple. And yes, global warming effects are “harm”. Sorry, but the world does not revolve around you.

    Comment by Dan — 19 Apr 2009 @ 3:57 PM

  287. “Can you show any evidence of free market advocates supporting ‘massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations’?”

    The oil industry lobbyists who say that subsidies to renewables is wrong.

    They say that because under the free market ideals, it IS wrong.

    There’s not much reason for it being wrong otherwise.

    And yet they don’t want their subsidies taken away. They don’t want to pay for the externalities (although copying a CD and putting it on P2P can net 210,000x damages, Exxon got a court ruling that more than 1x for punitive damages was the constitutionally allowed limit for their losses in accident lawsuits).

    Comment by Mark — 19 Apr 2009 @ 4:21 PM

  288. Oh, and the nuclear lobby who will NOT pay to clean up. And who said categorically that without the breaks on tax etc that government give nuclear power, they would not be able to justify making any new nuclear power stations.

    Yet they too proclaim subsidy to renewables an unconscionable interference in the market.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Apr 2009 @ 4:22 PM

  289. > A neutral organization would need to track and be responsible for better
    > measurements,

    Your counterfactual implication that the currently existing organization for this is not ‘neutral’ graphically demonstrates the hopelessness of your idea. Thanks for rubbing it in ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Apr 2009 @ 4:26 PM

  290. Geo-engineering can be done, oh yes, it can. But how many advocates have really thought through the consequences of a mistake or a surprise? As long as the earth is warming, we have the ability to use technology to assist us in our efforts. If the planet began to rapidly cool, our ability to use technology could come to a quick end. The modern world is very sensitive to climate, and is especially sensitive to cold climate. A failed experiment could also worsen the trend of warming, and there is plenty of documentation on warming and it’s effects. In any regard, I consider Geo-engineering a method of the last resort. Any such experiment should be carried out on another planet to study the effects, and they can take a great deal of time to study.

    While we are mulling over solutions, lets take into consideration the consequences of a bad solution to global warming. Any solution to global warming has the ability to do a great deal of damage. In fact, a solution to a problem can be just as bad as the problem itself. It’s very important to understand that a bad solution could push this world into chaos and rip the very fabric of society itself. I do not think many people understand how global warming is complex and dangerous to solve. There is no finer display of being stuck between a rock and a hard place then global warming. While we are discussing possible solutions to global warming, we should also attempt to map out consequences of the solution being discussed.

    The real challenge of reducing fossil fuels is cost and technology. Every kind of technology has some kind of side effects on the environment. For example, Wind Mills take kinetic energy out of the atmosphere, and I’m not sure what the consequences of that may be. It’s also uncertain how windmills may be received by the natural world. What species may become threaten due to windmill production on a large scale? We could be trading one climate change for another. The cost of “green” energy is also more expensive. What effects is this going to have on the poor people in developed nations? When developed nations being to move to this technology, there should be a price drop in fossil fuels. Will poor nations just ignore that price drop, or will they begin to consume it? While poor people are usually ignored by everyone, it’s well to remember from time to time that they can and will revolt if their lives become intolerable to live.

    What we really need is some kind of new combustible machine. The machine needs to be able to replace 2 and 4 cycle engines, and it needs to be usable in power generation. I believe such a machine is a only solution to the problem of global warming. Hopefully some new and old engineers are considering the problem along with everyone else.

    Comment by EL — 19 Apr 2009 @ 4:41 PM

  291. Steve Reynolds Says (19 April 2009 at 2:29 PM):

    “Can you show any evidence of free market advocates supporting ‘massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations’?”

    Free dumping of their waste into the common atmosphere isn’t a subsidy? Getting to strip off the tops of mountains, and dump the spoil (and the ash from burning it) without responsibility for any adverse consequences isn’t a subsidy?

    “I am concerned that the EPA would stop me from emitting CO2 at the point of a gun (if I was willing to take it that far).”

    Yet somehow dumping the CO2 you produce on unwilling recipients doesn’t seem to bother you at all. I dare say you’d be upset if I made a practice of dumping my household garbage on your lawn (even though a good bit of it could usefully be added to a compost pile – an economic benefit to you :-)) It’s the typical attitude of the faux libertarians I recall from my activist days: anything YOU want to do is obviously an exercise in liberty, no matter how it might affect others.

    Comment by James — 20 Apr 2009 @ 1:20 AM

  292. “Free dumping of their waste into the common atmosphere isn’t a subsidy? ”

    Yup, that’s another one.

    It’s not one they advertise, though.

    Comment by Mark — 20 Apr 2009 @ 6:46 AM

  293. EL, concern over wind power “taking kinetic energy out of the atmosphere” is misplaced, to say the least.

    A couple of illustrative questions:

    1) How much of the terrestrial surface will be covered by windmills? (Remember that unstable, excessively sloping, or inhabited terrain are all off limits, and that all really deep water sites are infeasible.)

    2) What is percentage of atmospheric height is affected by windmills? (Remember that winds aloft are much stronger–think Jet Stream for a moment.)

    3) What percentage of the kinetic energy is extracted by turbines? (Clearly, it can’t be too high, as wind velocity is the critical parameter for turbine operation–if the turbine extracted all energy, wind velocity would fall to zero.) So, do you think if you examined wind velocities upwind, downwind, and a few hundred meters crosswind from a wind turbine, you would find significant differences in wind velocities? (FWW, I sure don’t.)

    If you consider all the above, you will find that extractable power is a vanishingly small fraction of the total KE.

    BTW, concern over “how windmills may be received by the natural world” is probably exaggerated. For instance, bird kill appears to be orders of magnitude lower that transportation, transmission towers, skyscrapers–though I do think migratory patterns should be considered when making wind farm site choices.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Apr 2009 @ 9:12 AM

  294. Dan, Mark, and James,

    You have still not presented any evidence of free market advocates supporting ‘massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations’.

    The point of “Free dumping of their waste into the common atmosphere isn’t a subsidy? ” comes closer, but free market advocates generally do not support that either, if the waste is shown to be harmful. So for CO2, we now need to find a way to agree on what the cost should be.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 20 Apr 2009 @ 9:24 AM

  295. Martin,

    So you agree that we can use UAH temperature data for indexing our carbon tax?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 20 Apr 2009 @ 9:29 AM

  296. Steve Reynolds wrote: “I am concerned that the EPA would stop me from emitting CO2 at the point of a gun (if I was willing to take it that far).”

    Why shouldn’t the government stop you from doing something that has been demonstrated to be harmful to everyone else?

    How much poison do you think you have the right to put into my air or water?

    You say that as a libertarian you don’t want to be subject to “violent coercion”. But you don’t seem to have any qualms about subjecting me and everyone else to whatever poisons you feel like spewing into the air.

    There’s a difference between a libertarian and sociopath.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Apr 2009 @ 10:07 AM

  297. “You have still not presented any evidence of free market advocates supporting ‘massive subsidies for fossil fuel corporations’.”

    The fossil fuel advocates want subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

    They complain about subsidies for renewables.

    How much simpler do you need this???

    Heck, you haven’t shown that the EPA would hold a gun to your head.

    Comment by Mark — 20 Apr 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  298. > So you agree that we can use UAH temperature data for indexing our carbon tax?

    If your idea were otherwise valid, I could live with that, yes. Something is better than nothing, which is what we have now.

    What tax rate / coefficient / formula do you propose, and how do you justify it?
    :-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 20 Apr 2009 @ 12:24 PM

  299. Correcting earlier posts about proiducing iochar from algae: (1) I found an interesting paper pointing out the diseconomies of scale for algae farms; (2) a source of significant extra CO2 is appearently required to obtain production advantage over terrestrial plants such as Miscanthus.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Apr 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  300. Mark: “How much simpler do you need this???”

    You need to show that free market advocates are equivalent to fossil fuel advocates for your logic to be valid.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 20 Apr 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  301. SA: “But you don’t seem to have any qualms about subjecting me and everyone else to whatever poisons you feel like spewing into the air.”

    I don’t think I have ever written anything indicating that. And I don’t believe that.

    What I have said is that I am more concerned about what the government might force me to do that what Exxon might force me to do.

    Specifically the concern here is government forced CO2 mitigation that does not have a favorable cost-benefit return. You may think it is obvious that almost all mitigation policies will be favorable, but that does not make it true. Even the IPCC does not claim to have shown that _any_ mitigation policy is favorable.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 20 Apr 2009 @ 5:37 PM

  302. re: 294. You continue to conveniently ignore the fact that you can not do harm to people or public welfare without consequences. The cost of polluting the air is to public health and welfare. Industries in the US have to control pollution as a cost of doing business.

    Comment by Dan — 20 Apr 2009 @ 7:17 PM

  303. Martin: “What tax rate / coefficient / formula do you propose, and how do you justify it?”

    I think someone more qualified, like Richard Tol could best justify a rate:
    http://www.scitopics.com/Social_Cost_of_Carbon.html

    But for fun, I will give an example. Using UAH data, conveniently plotted here:
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/uah-trends.jpg

    Define the temperature anomaly (from I think the 1980 to 1990 average) and each year calculate an OLS fit to _the complete data set available since 1980_ (to insure long term averaging). Then define Ta as the current year value of the straight line fit. Then set the carbon tax (in dollars per ton of pure carbon emitted) as:

    Tax = $50 x Ta

    which would put the present tax at about 1/2 the probability peak in Tol’s graph for 3% pure time preference rate. If temperatures go back down to 1980-1990 levels, the tax eventually goes to zero, but if temperatures go up another 1/4 degree, the tax rate will double, and will double again with another 1/2 degree.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 20 Apr 2009 @ 10:09 PM

  304. I understand that this is “weather,” not “climate,” but California SHATTERED temperature records from one end of the state to the other today. And for many of us, tomorrow is predicted to be hotter…

    Note that downtown San Francisco was 93 F today, and coastal San Diego was 98 F.

    TODAYS HIGH OF 96 AT REDDING RECORD BROKE THE RECORD AT BOTH THE
    AIRPORT AND AT THE OLD REDDING CITY LOCATION. THE OLD CITY RECORD
    WAS 93…SET IN 1931.

    THE HIGH AT RED BLUFF AIRPORT REACHED 95…WHICH ECLIPSED THE OLD
    RECORD HIGH OF 91 SET IN 1950.

    THE HIGH AT THE SACRAMENTO CITY STATION REACHED 94 DEGREES…
    BREAKING THE OLD RECORD OF 92 SET IN 1931. THE RECORD AT SACRAMENTO
    EXECUTIVE AIRPORT REACHED 93…THE OLD RECORD WAS 90 SET IN 1950.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 96 DEGREES WAS SET AT STOCKTON CA
    SUNDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 90 SET IN 1950.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 97 DEGREES WAS SET AT MODESTO CA
    SUNDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 92 SET IN 1986.

    SITE TODAY`S HIGH PREVIOUS HIGH / YEAR

    GILROY 99 86 / 1992
    KENTFIELD 90 87 / 1950
    KING CITY 100(TIED) 100 / 1931
    MOFFETT FIELD 93 84 / 1986
    MONTEREY* 93 85 / 1986
    NAPA 94(TIED) 94 / 1931
    OAKLAND MUSEUM 93 84 / 1986
    OAKLAND AIRPORT 91 79 / 1986
    RICHMOND 88 83 / 1986
    SALINAS 99 88 / 1986
    SANTA CRUZ 96 88 / 1899
    SAN FRANCISCO 93 84 / 1986
    SFO INTERNATIONAL 91 81 / 1986
    SAN RAFAEL 90 88 / 1950
    SAN JOSE 94 94 / 1906

    THE HIGH TEMPERATURE AT FRESNO/YOSEMITE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT THIS
    AFTERNOON WAS 96 DEGREES. THIS BROKE THE RECORD FOR THE DATE OF 94
    DEGREES SET IN 1950 AND 1931.

    OTHER RECORDS ESTABLISHED TODAY INCLUDE MERCED AIRPORT WITH 94
    DEGREES…MADERA AIRPORT AT 96 DEGREES…AND HANFORD AIRPORT 97.
    THESE ALL BROKE RECORDS THAT WERE SET IN 2006…HOWEVER THESE ARE
    RELATIVELY NEW CLIMATE STATIONS WITH ONLY 11 YEARS OF RECORDS.

    BAKERSFIELD…MEADOWS FIELD…HAD A HIGH TODAY OF 97. THIS IS ONE
    DEGREE SHY OF THE RECORD OF 98 SET IN 1906.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 100 DEGREES WAS SET AT DOWNTOWN LOS
    ANGELES (USC) CA TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 96 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 95 DEGREES WAS SET AT LOS ANGELES
    AIRPORT TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 86 SET IN 1986.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 100 DEGREES WAS SET AT LONG BEACH
    AIRPORT CA TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 93 SET IN 1986.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 99 DEGREES WAS SET AT SAN GABRIEL CA
    TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 98 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 86 DEGREES WAS SET AT SANTA MONICA
    PIER CA TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 79 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 99 DEGREES WAS SET AT UCLA CA TODAY.
    THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 94 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 94 DEGREES WAS SET AT PALMDALE AIRPORT
    CA TODAY. THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 94 SET IN 1950.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 96 DEGREES WAS SET AT CAMARILLO TODAY.
    THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 90 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 97 DEGREES WAS SET AT WFO-OXNARD
    TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 90 SET IN 1958.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 98 DEGREES WAS SET AT PASO ROBLES
    AIRPORT CA TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 95 SET IN 1950.

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 98 DEGREES WAS SET AT SANTA MARIA
    AIRPORT CA TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 91 SET IN 1986.

    LOCATION NEW RECORD OLD RECORD PERIOD OF RECORD
    FULLERTON APT ASOS 100 96 IN 1958 SINCE 1948
    SANTA ANA 103 91 IN 1986 SINCE 1916
    LAGUNA BEACH 97 85 IN 1987 SINCE 1928
    OCEANSIDE HARBOR 84 76 IN 1999 SINCE 1953
    SAN DIEGO LINDBERGH 98 93 IN 1899 SINCE 1875
    CHULA VISTA 97 89 IN 1986 SINCE 1948
    ONTARIO APT ASOS 100 91 IN 1958 SINCE 1951
    RIVERSIDE UCR 103 99 IN 1958 SINCE 1948
    RIVERSIDE APT ASOS 101 97 IN 1958 SINCE 1927
    BEAUMONT 93 92 IN 1958 SINCE 1948
    WILD ANIMAL PARK 100 91 IN 1986 SINCE 1979
    RAMONA APT ASOS 96 88 IN 1986 SINCE 1974
    ALPINE 99 95 IN 1958 SINCE 1951
    EL CAJON 101 90 IN 1986 SINCE 1979
    BIG BEAR LAKE 75 73 IN 1994 SINCE 1960
    CAMPO 90 88 IN 1997 SINCE 1940

    A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 90 DEGREES WAS SET AT MEDFORD OR
    TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 88 SET IN 1986.

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 20 Apr 2009 @ 10:42 PM

  305. “You need to show that free market advocates are equivalent to fossil fuel advocates for your logic to be valid.”

    And you need to show that the EPA have said they will hold a gun to your head before your logic is to be considered valid.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Apr 2009 @ 2:59 AM

  306. Also, check set theory.

    Free Market Advocates include fossil fuel advocates.

    This does not mean all free market advocates are fossil fuel advocates. You made that up, you defend it. I said what I said.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Apr 2009 @ 3:01 AM

  307. Jim Eaton Says (20 April 2009 at 10:42 PM):

    “I understand that this is “weather,” not “climate,” but California SHATTERED temperature records from one end of the state to the other today. And for many of us, tomorrow is predicted to be hotter…”

    Much the same here on the other side of the Sierra Nevada, Reno equalling a record that’s stood since 1888 or so, and predicted to be higher the next couple of days. (We generally get California’s weather, after they’ve used it for a day or so :-)) But possible snow predicted for the weekend…

    Comment by James — 21 Apr 2009 @ 2:36 PM

  308. @Mark @150:

    I know. Jasper Carrot had a song about a rooster which used the word extensively.

    Jake Thackray.

    Comment by Robin Levett — 21 Apr 2009 @ 2:37 PM

  309. Steve Reynolds wrote: “I am more concerned about what the government might force me to do that what Exxon might force me to do. Specifically the concern here is government forced CO2 mitigation that does not have a favorable cost-benefit return.”

    I am more concerned about what you and Exxon together might force me to do — such as, for example, starve to death when global warming causes continent-wide megadroughts and the collapse of agriculture.

    When you emit CO2 pollution, you receive the benefits and I pay the costs and get no benefit. Is that your idea of “liberty”?

    A whole lot of so-called “libertarianism” comes down to people who like to enjoy the benefits of behaviors that impose huge costs on other people.

    If it takes government coercion to compel you to pay the price for the costs that you subject others to, then so be it. That’s what government is for.

    Do you think a “cost-benefit analysis” should be required for laws that prohibit and/or punish violent acts against others? Do you think that the “benefit” that muggers and murderers receive from their crimes should be balanced against the cost to their victims?

    Your carbon pollution is a form of violence, which I take just as personally as if you punched me in the nose or shot me in the back or kicked in my door and stole my TV. But of course it isn’t just violence against me; it is violence against the person and property of every other human being in the world, and indeed against all life on Earth.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Apr 2009 @ 3:26 PM

  310. “I don’t think I have ever written anything indicating that. And I don’t believe that.”

    Well, pop into a sealed room.

    The CO2 will rise. If it’s not toxic, you’ll be fine, yes?

    Comment by Mark — 21 Apr 2009 @ 4:43 PM

  311. One possible metric of the change in the timing of spring is the number of temperature records set in the early spring months. For one example, see this google search:

    “record high” temperatures

    Compare that to “record high” temperatures april

    or, “record high” temperatures march

    In particular, look at the timelines. There are many reasons Google searches may be biased by date, but that is an interesting phenomenon, just the kind of thing one would expect from a rising temperature trend superimposed on natural variability. This kind of statistical approach has been done in full, see for example:

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/30711

    That is a statistical approach to the dynamic computer model experiments – control runs with and without fossil CO2 emissions & deforestation:

    To do this Verdes used a theory known as nonlinear time-series analysis, whereby the existence of a slowly-varying driving force can be deduced without any knowledge of internal dynamics. First, he assumed the driving force was zero and chose a generic function to fit the data computationally. He then introduced a non-zero driving force and estimated different profiles that would improve the accuracy of the fit.

    Verdes found that the driving-force profile that produced the best fit almost exactly matched records of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions (see Driving force). In other words, fitting the data using the natural components alone left a hole that could be filled by our anthropogenic components. “The coincidence is remarkable,” he said. – Aug 2007

    If statistical approaches and dynamical approaches give you the same answer, and if that also fits well with observational data, then you can have a high degree of confidence in the overall predictions.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 21 Apr 2009 @ 5:37 PM

  312. SA: “Your carbon pollution is a form of violence, which I take just as personally as if you punched me in the nose or shot me in the back or kicked in my door and stole my TV.”

    I understand that you feel that way, but some other people would feel the same way if they thought that I had insulted their religion or ethnic group. I don’t want them to be able to take away my right to free speech.

    In the (in my opinion unlikely) event that AGW is proved to be as harmful as you believe, then I’ll agree with the draconian restrictions on GHG that you prefer. Until then a moderate tax on emissions in line with an informed cost-benefit analysis is all that I will support.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 21 Apr 2009 @ 6:51 PM

  313. And if in the event that AGW is proved to be that harmful, but it also proves to be too late to reverse that harm (e.g. natural feedbacks begin to swamp our own CO2 emissions), then what, Steve?

    “Oops, you guys were right after all. Sorry about that.”

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Apr 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  314. Steve Reynolds wrote: “I understand that you feel that way, but some other people would feel the same way if they thought that I had insulted their religion or ethnic group. I don’t want them to be able to take away my right to free speech.”

    If you are anything remotely resembling a real libertarian, then you know full well that your right to free speech is not a right to use physical violence against me or my property, let alone the persons and property of millions of people who will be harmed by your pollution. You have no more right to pollute the air with carbon emissions or anything else, than you have to dump cyanide in the water supply. It has nothing to do with “free speech.”

    Steve Reynolds wrote: “In the (in my opinion unlikely) event that AGW is proved to be as harmful as you believe, then I’ll agree with the draconian restrictions on GHG that you prefer. Until then a moderate tax on emissions in line with an informed cost-benefit analysis is all that I will support.”

    You know, “conservatives” who are unhappy with the “liberal” proposals that are being put forward to reduce emissions, and the likelihood that those “liberal” proposals will form the basis of policy in this country, have only themselves to blame.

    Why? Because at some point “conservatives” decided that the thing to do was to deny the existence of the problem. By doing so, they denied themselves a seat at the table where possible solutions are debated, leaving that debate to the “liberals”.

    Why should you or other “conservatives” support any policies at any cost, however low, to address global warming, given that you don’t believe there is a problem to be addressed?

    And given that you and other “conservatives” have adopted obstinate denial of the scientific reality of global warming, its cause, and its danger, as an absolute article of ideological faith, why should anyone take seriously any policies that you propose? How can you expect anyone to believe that you are proposing policies in good faith, to address a problem that you deny even exists?

    It’s unfortunate, because “conservatives” might very well have something of value to bring to the policy discussion, but by their denialism they have basically shut themselves out of any serious discussion.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Apr 2009 @ 11:41 AM

  315. “@Mark @150:

    I know. Jasper Carrot had a song about a rooster which used the word extensively.

    Jake Thackray.”

    Aye, now you say his name, he wrote it.

    But I heard it first from Jasper Carrot. “I’ve got this mole” video, IIRC.

    He upped and he tupped,
    like a hero tupps
    He bowed to them all,
    and then
    He upped and he tupped them all again

    Bet it’s not in production anywhere.

    Now how come that isn’t considered stealing from the artist? Refusing to sell is denying the artist the income from their works. That’s what “P2P is theft!!!” is all about, isn’t it? The prevention of *potential* sales.

    Not making it available for sale sounds like it to me…

    Comment by Mark — 22 Apr 2009 @ 1:23 PM

  316. SecularAnimist,

    You say: “Your carbon pollution is a form of violence”

    The problem with your views about C02 is that it makes every person on this planet a criminal including yourself. The only place to go with that kind of thinking is to criminalize us all, including people just trying to live thier lives.

    Its perfectly logical to think this way, but you are not going to get much traction with most people.

    Comment by Michael — 22 Apr 2009 @ 2:21 PM

  317. Michael wrote: “The problem with your views about C02 is that it makes every person on this planet a criminal including yourself.”

    Not every person, since there are a great many people on the planet who live a subsistence lifestyle and emit little or no CO2. For that matter there are people living in New York City who don’t own cars and whose carbon footprint is significantly lower than mine.

    But it certainly does apply to me.

    And I am fully conscious of that fact, and of my responsibility for contributing to AGW, every time I start up my 45 MPG 1991 Ford Festiva. That’s why I try to limit my driving to pretty much the essentials — typically less than 40 miles per week for commuting and grocery shopping. That’s why I voluntarily pay a higher per-KWH rate for 100 percent wind-generated electricity, and heat my house with a high-efficiency heat pump instead of natural gas.

    And that’s why I don’t blather phony pseudo-libertarian nonsense about a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system meaning “the government” is violating my “right” to “free speech” at “the point of a gun”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Apr 2009 @ 3:59 PM

  318. SA,

    I don’t know to answer your latest because it does not rationally address what we have been discussing. I’m not a denier; I mostly agree with the IPCC conclusions. I’m also not a conservative, not that really matters.

    Maybe it is best to end this discussion.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 22 Apr 2009 @ 10:14 PM

  319. SecularAnimist Says (22 April 2009 at 11:41 AM):

    “And given that you and other “conservatives” have adopted obstinate denial of the scientific reality of global warming, its cause, and its danger, as an absolute article of ideological faith…”

    Let’s just be clear that not all of the libertarian/conservative persuasion have adopted that position – here I am, after all – just as not all of a more liberal persuasion have been convinced of the reality of global warming. I do hear some voices saying that we can’t possibly do something because it might hurt the poor, adversely affect developing nations, or some other traditionally liberal argument.

    Comment by James — 22 Apr 2009 @ 11:38 PM

  320. Steve Reynolds #303: Thanks, interesting reading, Tol.

    (There are problems with this approach, but that’s for another day.)

    Then set the carbon tax (in dollars per ton of pure carbon emitted) as:

    Tax = $50 x Ta

    which would put the present tax at about 1/2 the probability peak in Tol’s graph for 3% pure time preference rate.

    That’s where you lose me. Why? Just an engineering solution? Put a plausible-looking feedback loop in place and see how it works?

    Also the units don’t match… the $50 is in dollars/ton, and I assume Ta is in Celcius/Kelvin. Right? So there’s another coefficient hidden in there, dimension tons/Kelvin, that you didn’t tell us about. I could live with the above equation if Ta is in Fahrenheit ;-)

    The Tol piece contains an eight-point list of things we need to know, or have an educated guess on, in order to derive a plausible value for the social cost of carbon (SCC). The empirical global temperature record is not on the list. What comes closest is 3 and 4, which relate to climate modelling.

    My hunch on what you are aiming to do is: replace the uncertainty of this modelling with measurements available in the present and free of modelling uncertainty. Well, you cannot do it this way. You must model, warts and all, if you want to have a realistic SCC value — and you need to set the tax to that value if you want it to be Pareto optimal (price = marginal cost of production). There is no shortcut around that unpleasant truth.

    A darker suspicion is, that you are silently wishing those temperature increases will just go away at some point, and the whole thing will turn out to be a bad dream. Well, pleasant dreams :-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 23 Apr 2009 @ 1:40 AM

  321. “The only place to go with that kind of thinking is to criminalize us all, including people just trying to live thier lives.”

    But you’re not.

    You’re trying to force other people to accept the way YOU want to live YOUR life.

    We have a law against murder, but it’s hell for the psychopath who just wants to live their life according to the voices in his head.

    You don’t HAVE to burn CO2 at the rate you’re doing. If you’re a US resident, Scotland average rates is less than a quarter. They have a first-world lifestyle. They are in a cold and wet part of the world where light is at a premium most of the time it’s needed. Yet they use 1/4 the power the average USian uses.

    Why?

    Because they’ve gotten used to the way they live because they ignore the consequences.

    It won’t be worse changing living patterns. You’ll still be able to do what you do if you reduce your CO2 footprint. But that’s change. And you’re afraid of it. For no rational reason.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Apr 2009 @ 2:46 AM

  322. re #318. So you believe that there’s a problem and that CO2 is the cause of it, but you don’t like being told that you’ll have to stop producing so much CO2.

    So if you have a stream running through your house and I live upstream and I defacate and befoul the water as it goes through MY land, and YOUR children, playing at the stream edge get sick from it, you’d be all “well, I don’t want him to be forced at gunpoint not to do what he wants to the river on HIS land”?

    The problem we have with you Steve is that you make no sense if all your mouthings are taken at face value.

    If you admit that CO2 production is a problem then there’s two ways to stop it:

    1) tax inefficient CO2 producing processes
    2) make a law banning inefficient CO2 producing processes

    if it’s #1, it’s all a scam to make money by soclialist political elements. If it’s #2, it’s all about putting a gun to your head and proves that this is all about political power.

    If you say that you are and will reduce or remove inefficient processes, then in neither case will you be taxed or have a gun at your head over using inefficient processes, in which case, why are you worried about it? Because you want to SAY you’ll do it, but not actually HAVE to do it, so won’t?

    Comment by Mark — 23 Apr 2009 @ 6:35 AM

  323. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121639289/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    Stream ecosystem responses to the 2007 spring freeze in the southeastern United States: unexpected effects of climate change

    “ABSTRACT

    Some expected changes in climate resulting from human greenhouse gas emissions are clear and well documented, but others may be harder to predict because they involve extreme weather events or heretofore unusual combinations of weather patterns. One recent example of unusual weather that may become more frequent with climate change occurred in early spring 2007 when a large Arctic air mass moved into the eastern United States following a very warm late winter. In this paper, we document effects of this freeze event on Walker Branch, a well-studied stream ecosystem in eastern Tennessee…..”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Apr 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  324. Much more:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=50&hl=en&q=climate+spring&as_ylo=2009&btnG=Search

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Apr 2009 @ 11:02 AM

  325. Mark, on the contrary I am not trying to force people to live the way I do. I will not vote for legislation that forces people to change their lifestyle when it comes to emissions, it’s a choice each person has to make individually.

    You can’t compare C02 emissions to murder, because, once again every person on the planet is a producer of C02.

    There is probably a group of people somewhere that would like to prosecute Mark for having a computer. Imagine the industry, the consumerism, capitalism required over the last hundred years to produce that piece of technology. Imagine the emissions.

    My point is the solution to this crisis will not be found in demonizing each other. We have to come up with a solution that has a little more mutual respect.

    Comment by Michael — 23 Apr 2009 @ 11:51 AM

  326. Just so you know, your efforts to keep this thread (and really all threads) on track and relevant are not unnoticed Hank. That goes for you too Chris S.

    Is anybody else about at the breaking point for all the continual off-topic noise on these threads? This is NOT a policy blog folks. Please take it elsewhere.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 23 Apr 2009 @ 4:13 PM

  327. Michael, you are. You’re saying that no matter if CO2 is a problem WE must live with YOUR pollution.

    The rest of that idiotic rant remains unread. Try something a little less hyperbolic.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Apr 2009 @ 4:21 PM

  328. Martin: “…the units don’t match… the $50 is in dollars/ton, and I assume Ta is in Celcius/Kelvin. Right?”

    Yes and the $50 is in $/ton-K; then the units match.

    As for why this value – I said this was just an example, but the idea was to get the tax to roughly agree with Tol’s SCC if there was another 0.25 K temperature increase.

    Martin “My hunch on what you are aiming to do is: replace the uncertainty of this modelling with measurements available in the present and free of modelling uncertainty. …
    A darker suspicion is, that you are silently wishing those temperature increases will just go away at some point…”

    No, my aim is to propose something that nearly everyone might agree on. Alarmists are certain temperatures will rise drastically and will believe they will get a very large tax to cause drastic emission reductions, denialists think temperatures will fall back, and there will be no tax long term. Moderates will expect a moderate tax that will cause a slow and moderate reduction in emissions. Everyone should be happy!

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 23 Apr 2009 @ 8:03 PM

  329. This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the local paper today – it’s from another meteorologist firmly entrenched in the denialist camp:

    It’s very interesting that after seven years of global cooling, the Environmental Protection Agency would pick now to issue its “Policy Shift On Global Warming” …The full EPA statement on its website trots out all the old scary predictions of several feet of sea level rise, more intense storms and increased drought. Well, in all of these cases, changes have been slight or nonexistent. Although the past seven years of cooling could be an anomaly, the climate models completely missed it. They predicted a continued steady rise in temperatures.
As an operational meteorologist, I worked with weather forecast models for 25 years and recognize their limitations. The climate models are even more limited. Of course, the main ingredient in the models is carbon dioxide, which along with other greenhouse gases make up a tiny fraction of the atmosphere. The models virtually ignore water vapor, a much larger greenhouse gas, as well as ocean influences, and the biggest influence of all: the sun. We are just now learning how variations in short-wave radiation from the sun affect the upper atmosphere.

Because the models are not able to simulate the present cooling using carbon dioxide, which is vital for plant growth and life on Earth, how can they accurately forecast the future? 
Is this the proper basis on which to make far-reaching decisions?

    Can’t they at least come up with something original?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Apr 2009 @ 10:57 PM

  330. Steve Reynolds says: “If you do not consider cost as an equally relevant variable, you are blind to the economic side of the cost-benefit analysis.”

    Actually, the problem at present is that we cannot rule out catastrophic damage from even moderate warming because there are feedbacks that we do not understand. As such the “cost” of increased emissions cannot be bounded, so even low-probability threats have to be taken seriously. Under such circumstances the only responsible approach is to proceed with extreme caution and keep the stress (e.g. CO2 emissions) to a minimum consistent with the basic health of the economy. We also need to spend a lot of effort on refining our understanding of so-called tipping points.

    An example: We know that in past interglacials, CO2 and CH4 emissions from natural sources did not pick up until we had had some warming due to increased insolation. How close are we to levels where ghg emissions from natural sources really kick in and swamp any efforts we make to control our own emissions? We do not know, but it is a situation we must avoid.
    I agree that we also have to avoid breaking the economy, but as we have not yet even begun to pick the low-hanging fruit of conservation, I think discussions of breaking the economy are a bit premature. Given the latest science (melting ice, outgassing from thawing permafrost, decreased solubuility of CO2 in the oceans, etc.) discussions of tipping points, however, are not.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Apr 2009 @ 8:29 AM

  331. “Alarmists are certain temperatures will rise drastically ”

    And almost exclusively, the AGW supporters are not saying that.

    And out of the ones talking about extreme events, most of those say “we know that dramatic temperature rises are eminently possible”.

    Or do you say that it is IMPOSSIBLE that temperatures may rise dramatically?

    Comment by Mark — 24 Apr 2009 @ 10:18 AM

  332. For those interested in further spring reading, my book, Chasing Spring, An American Journey Through a Changing Season, (Scribners, 2006) covered the science of the season’s altered calendar from effects on plants, forests, water resources to changing bird, insect, and caribou migrations. The book is a trip north during a single spring season, from the southern US, up through the Rockies and Cascades to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It’s available on Amazon in paperback–and very cheap. Enjoy.

    Comment by Bruce Stutz — 24 Apr 2009 @ 10:23 AM

  333. Mark, likewise we must live with your polution. Such is the life of a carbon based lifeform. I’m glad we were able to come to agreement on the human condition.

    Comment by Michael — 24 Apr 2009 @ 10:48 AM

  334. I’ve recently spoken to several farmers in the Midwest (west Missouri specifically) who tell me that rather than seeing the onset of spring conditions earlier in the year, they have actually seen cooler springs the past few years. This year their planting has been delayed by almost a month because of late frosts and because the soil is still too wet. Maybe this is just an anomaly, but my point is that climate change may have some unpredictable effects at the local level. There may be a warming trend in general, but that is based on averages. Within that general trend there may be some areas responding in a much different manner. It’s going to be harder to know exactly how plant and animal communities will respond to changing climate conditions at smaller spatial scales.

    Comment by margaret m — 3 May 2009 @ 6:45 PM

  335. I went looking for some of the early Usenet bits that got me started doing whatever I could in the way of restoration toward changing climate in my copious spare time. Here’s one that I remembered that got me working harder:

    >From: “Graham Willers”
    >Newsgroups: bionet.agroforestry,alt.forestry
    >Subject: Re: Greenland glaciers present threat if Earth warms up, scientist says
    >Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 17:28:39 +0100
    >

    It is a source of some amazement to us in Europe that the US – normaly
    pretty much to the fore in most respects – can be so far behind European
    thinking on climate change.

    To give an example; in Spain the whole forestry business has been going
    through some pretty massive changes for years, due to the impact of global
    warming over the last decade. They are not still arguing over whether or not
    it is happening – they – like the rest of Europe – did that in the mid 80’s.
    Now they are trying to cope with the unprecedented increase in forest fires
    which has led to very serious erosion problems – especially in the region of
    Murcia – but all over the country to a greater or lesser degree.

    They are building low level contour walling on hillsides and changing
    species and systems all over the country. It is generaly accepted that the
    desertification of central southern Spain – which is there for you to see
    with your own eyes – will continue to spread as it has been doing for a
    decade or more now.

    In Britain the last 3-day seminar and AGM of the Institute of Chatered
    Foresters was devoted entirely to the new systems and species we are
    adopting in order to minimise the effects of the climate change. The ICF are
    not exactly renowned for their radical thinking – being a pretty
    conservative bunch of people.

    Our oak trees (Q.Robur) are now leafing 22 days earlier than they were in
    1965 for example ( thats a verifiable record if ever there was one ! ) and
    our beech tree population in the south of England is in serious trouble due
    to repeated droughts. We recommend that noone bothers planting beech trees
    anymore as they are very unlikely to survive more than 50 years.

    Climate change has got everything to do with forestry! It is ‘forestry’ at
    its worst that has helped to bring it about in the first place.
    The climate has fluctuated extremely violently in the past – up 4C in 30
    years in one period – so why are the Americans so sceptical that it is
    happening again? The evidence is right under your noses. I just don’t get
    it.

    GW
    Scotland

    ———–
    Oh, and for anyone contemplating spending the rest of your life at this, the one best bit of advice I found that I didn’t take anywhere near seriously enough:

    Aldo Leopold on Data Management

    “A frequent predicament of field workers is to accumulate so many notes that time is lacking to analyze them, or to have notes string out over such a long period that the earlier ones are lost or hard to segregate by the time a sufficient volume are at hand to warrant a conclusion. “

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2009 @ 4:27 AM

  336. Michael, 333, I don’t drive to work. I take local holidays.

    I’m not polluting you.

    Will you stop polluting me?

    (Oracle knows michael. He says “Judas 30″. Pieces of silver?)

    Comment by Mark — 13 May 2009 @ 7:57 AM

  337. Normal historical climate variations happen over centuries and millenia. This is natural and need not be the result of human activity. The deep economic downturn of the middle ages was the result of climate changes in Europe. Crops failed and people starved. It ended and the renascence began.

    So remembering what used to grow in your backyard or community does not tell you anything meaningful. It could easily reverse again over the next 40 years and still be within normal ranges, global warming or not.

    If your going to get involved in making expensive changes to all of our lives, educate yourself about how climates work

    Comment by jayson — 17 May 2009 @ 3:20 PM

  338. Jayson, do you understand the difference between studying one back yard, and one thousand or ten thousand back yards?

    Do you understand the difference in information you get from one thermometer, compared to a thousand or ten thousand of them spread across an area?

    You claim to believe that “The deep economic downturn of the middle ages was the result of climate changes in Europe.”

    Do you also believe Europe was warmer during the Medieval period?

    Would you say that warming climate caused the deep downturn?

    Are you thinking two contradictory things at the same time?

    Read http://history.boisestate.edu/westciv/plague/
    ___________________________
    “travesty organizing” says ReCaptcha.
    Trolled again, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 May 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  339. PS, Jayson, speaking of educating yourself:
    http://tv.azpm.org/kuat/segments/2009/4/23/kuat-drought-and-temperature-variation/

    Hat tip and cheers to Julien Emile-Geay at his new site:
    http://college.usc.edu/labs/jeg/home/index.cfm

    “Welcome to the Climate Dynamics group at USC, focusing on understanding mechanisms of natural climate variability over the past 2 millennia. It is currently a very small, friendly and intimate research group (consisting of only one person). But this is something you might change. If the research listed on this page interests you, there are a number of opportunities available in this soon-to-be polynuclear group.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 May 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  340. Certainly climates have changed and will change, and certainly human activity has an impact. My point is that any change one person might observe in their back yard over 30-40 years is not a large enough sample or a long enough time period to be meaningful. Climate systems are extremely complex, and complex systems a very difficult to predict and manage.

    The video was interesting, but as the scientist said himself, climates are extremely complex and difficult to predict.

    Computer models are great, but they are very sensitive to the assumptions built into them. Just ask the wall street geniuses who thought they had the markets modeled accurately.

    Comment by jayson — 18 May 2009 @ 12:23 AM

  341. #340 jayson:

    “Computer models are great, but they are very sensitive to the assumptions built into them. ”

    In all kindness, may I suggest that before posting here you take a little time to get acquainted with the general level of discussion and some of the past discussion history?

    Just read for a bit. You’ll find that the gist of your statement I just quoted and especially what your first paragraph in #337 entailed have been said here and then efficiently shredded literally hundreds of times. Even though the “old hands” here (not me, I’m an arriviste) know you’re naive and can’t help yourself, their patience is only a micron or so thick after attemtping to explain and explain again the same tiny set of relatively simple concepts you’re missing.

    You’re on the tail end of a long line of discredited predecessors, using expired ammunition you’ve been handed by cynics.

    Please, do yourself and everybody a favor by piping down and reading for a while. You can thereby avoid making yourself the subject of yet another ritualized and increasingly perfunctory intellectual humiliation.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 18 May 2009 @ 12:57 AM

  342. Computer models are great, but they are very sensitive to the assumptions built into them. Just ask the wall street geniuses who thought they had the markets modeled accurately.

    The computer models of Wall Street were statistical. The computer models of climate scientists are based on physics. The computer models of Wall Street were deliberately fed bad data when the good data resulted in unpleasant forecasts. Climate scientists have shown no propensity for hiding unpleasant scenarios. Climate science does not rely solely on computer models; there are numerous other lines of evidence. These are only the beginning of the many differences, which have been explained at length here, in nearly every thread since about the middle of 2008.

    Comment by llewelly — 18 May 2009 @ 1:29 AM

  343. #340 Jayson.

    Is a ~900 year time period long enough to be meaningful?

    http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/8417/kyotocherrys.png

    (It’s a plot of the date of the kyoto cherryblossom festival since 700. Records become more reliable at around 1100 hence the trend line starts there.)

    For interest here’s a range of papers discussing this dataset.

    From 1956: http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0469/13/6/pdf/i1520-0469-13-6-599.pdf (pdf)
    From 1994: http://rms1.agsearch.agropedia.affrc.go.jp/contents/JASI/pdf/society/51-2400.pdf (pdf in Japanese but with abstract & figure legends in English)
    From 2007: http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1893.pdf (pdf)

    Comment by Chris S — 18 May 2009 @ 3:33 AM

  344. For those who believe all the above will be down to UHI effect, here’s a study of 160 years of Finnish phenology that tries to eliminate said effect from their time series:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V8W-4TVHYY4-1&_user=1549444&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000053656&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1549444&md5=fb0f795256f25051fd82d72e3be4d1c6

    Comment by Chris S — 18 May 2009 @ 3:35 AM

  345. Jayson says, “Computer models are great, but they are very sensitive to the assumptions built into them. Just ask the wall street geniuses who thought they had the markets modeled accurately.”

    Ah, another revisionist history major. Jayson, when the geniuses calibrated their markets they did so with historical data based on people with reasonable cred-it getting and paying home lo-ans. Then as demand for mort-gage-backed securities increased, banks started making lo-ans to anyone who could fog a mirror. By that point, the geniuses were no longer running the models. If you apply a model to a situation where the data that calibrated the model are not representative, it is not surprising that the model will fail.

    Here’s another news flash–global climate models aren’t even the same type of model. In GCMs, you put the physics in and see how it does reproducing the trends. And overall, they do pretty well. But, then constructing straw men to comfort yourself is easier than actually learning anything isn’t it Jayson.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 May 2009 @ 7:15 AM

  346. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Yosemites_largest_trees_vanishing_999.html

    Yosemite’s largest trees vanishing
    The older, larger trees, including white firs, lodgepole pines and Jeffrey pines, are key to forest health because their canopies protect and nourish unique habitats for plants and animals.

    by Staff Writers
    Mariposa, Calif. (UPI) May 22, 2009

    Climate change appears to be taking its toll on the oldest and largest firs and pines in California’s Yosemite National Park, researchers said.

    The number of large-diameter trees fell by 24 percent between the 1930s and 1990s in all types of forests in Yosemite, said James Lutz of the University of Washington in Seattle….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 May 2009 @ 7:32 PM

  347. _Science_ for May 15th (vol. 324) has two relevant “Perspectives” on pp. 886-7 (Seasons and Life Cycles — … how individual species’ responses to climate warming affect the length of the growing season) and 887-8 (Phenology Feedbacks on Climate Change … a longer growing season … will in turn affect climate through biogeochemical and biophysical effects.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jun 2009 @ 9:45 PM

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