RealClimate

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  1. In the opinion of Real Climate, do the people who run real climate economics have expertise in climate economics or are they just a put up for the fossil fuel industry? Can you describe their expertise? Thank you for the job you guys do.

    [Response: Thanks. Yes, we checked. These folks are the real deal -mike]

    Comment by Michael Sweet — 1 May 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  2. with the amount of money being spent on ‘predictions’of the effects of global climate change i’d say we need to link these ethical and economical angles up with the science .As a scientist analysing products i was always taught’actions will be taken on your results so make sure you get your analysis right’

    [Response: Indeed, there is a whole field (known as Integrated Assessment), that deals with this. -mike]

    Comment by donald moore — 1 May 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  3. Very interesting links! I was particularly struck by one statement in the bio section:

    “His most recent book, Economic Models of Climate Change: A Critique (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003) discusses some of the limitations of conventional general equilibrium models when applied to climate policy.”

    How about a side by side comparison of economic “equilibrium models” and climate “equilibrium models”, as compared to dynamic model approaches?

    Notice that the economic “equilibrium model” is simply a hijacked version of the thermodynamic equilibrium model, with some startling differences. As per Wiki,

    “The classical general equilibrium model aims to describe the economy by aggregating the behavior of individuals and firms. Note that the classical general equilibrium model is unrelated to classical economics, and was instead developed within neoclassical economics beginning in the late 19th century.”

    This is an attempt to copy a thermodynamic model, which attempts to describe a physical system by aggregating the the behavior of atoms and electrons. Such models were developed in the 19th century, well after the era of the Adam Smith, David Ricardo and other early economic theorists.

    Thermodynamic models of radiation, on the other hand, do not work very well, and their failure helped lead to the quantum mechanical viewpoint & the Copenhagen interpretation…

    But what does this have to do with economics, one might ask?

    Yes, ask away – but don’t expect any rational answers.

    The fundamental factors that allow an economy to function are far more similar to the ones that allow an ecosystem to function, and those are based on simple physical factors like water content, temperature, chemical nutrients, and so on.

    If you want a scientific theory of economics, you have to start with thermodynamics, it is true – but to bridge the gap, you need ecological models and approaches. Notice, however, that ecological models have more poor predictive abilities in many regards – for example, the effect of a new species in a stable ecosystem is hard to model, as is the response of a tropical forest to higher temperatures. Nevertheless, the fundamental limits of economic activity are based on ecological parameters – as seen most clearly in the cases of drought and overfishing.

    If wishes were fishes, we’d have all the water we’d ever need…

    Of the three – climate models, ecological models, and economic models, only the first two are based on rational scientific principles, and only the first has much predictive capacity given a known atmospheric forcing.

    If your economic models don’t incorporate physical and ecological realities, they are not based on science, any more than astrology was. In astrology’s case, they were at least able to predict the future positions of the planets using their cumbersome epicycles, unlike the case with modern economic theory, which completely failed to predict the current economic collapse – what went wrong?

    I suppose that there is a lot of popular faith in economics, however… so if we get all the high priests at Chicago and Harvard to agree that running out of fresh water, in combination with heat waves, might cause agricultural problems, perhaps the faithful will then turn their attention to mitigating the problem… so let the mummery commence – it can’t hurt, much.

    None of the above is original on my part, it actually is just paraphrased from various different modern economists:

    Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications – Google Books Result
    by Herman E. Daly – 2004

    and, Ecological economics

    Comment by Ike Solem — 1 May 2009 @ 5:39 PM

  4. Other discoplines that deserve a seat at the table are a welcome addition to the arena. Just today the economist Paul Krugman who also wears a hat as an op-ed columnist for the NYTimes has an article on the economics of mitigating carbon emissions.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/opinion/01krugman.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Paul%20Krugman-%20An%20affordable%20salvation&st=cse

    His op-ed piece reads in part:”The 2008 election ended the reign of junk science in our nation’s capital, and the chances of meaningful action on climate change, probably through a cap-and-trade system on emissions, have risen sharply.

    “But the opponents of action claim that limiting emissions would have devastating effects on the U.S. economy. So it’s important to understand that just as denials that climate change is happening are junk science, predictions of economic disaster if we try to do anything about climate change are junk economics.”

    The days of junk energy policy are over,as well. In the early days of the Bush administration, Dick Cheney headed up an team dealing with this subject. This was a cynical ploy to obstruct any meaningful action on moving toward alternative sources of energy. This administration on the other hand has included $39 billion for the Department of Energy and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy in their $787 billion economic stimulus package.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 1 May 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  5. Economics presupposes the existence of a stable civilization and the invention of money. A stable civilization with money requires creatures that are at least marginally rational and intelligent and slightly knowledgeable. A stable civilization also requires an adequate food supply. The collapse of agriculture inevitably leads to the collapse of civilization and the collapse of money and economics. Economics is unable to go outside of its founding presuppositions. Global warming climatology MUST concern itself with the probable collapse of agriculture and civilization and the possible extinction of the supposedly rational intelligent knowledgeable creatures. Climate change is therefore impossible for economists to deal with. RealClimateEconomics is impossible. Read books by Brian Fagan, Jared Diamond and Mark Lynas.
    The extinction of Homo Sapiens would be an infinite cost. Economics cannot deal with infinite costs. The fall of civilization, if it, by some miracle, does not result in extinction this time, is a trans-finite cost. Economics cannot deal with trans-finite numbers any more than it can deal with infinite cost. RealClimateEconomics is unreal.

    [Response: In fairness to the authors of the site, I believe that they (as do some of us here) share some of the concerns you express with the traditional economic approach that has been taken to this problem, e.g. the challenges of incorporating ethical considerations (such as intergenerational equity) in defining appropriate discount rates, or in accounting for ‘tipping points’ in the climatic response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in evaluating risk. There are many researchers who are well aware of these complexities, and there is a rapidly developing literature on how to accommodate such complications in estimating climate change risk and evaluating cost/benefit. Such considerations appear to favor greater and more immediate efforts at mitigation than do the the older, traditional economic analyses. -mike]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 1 May 2009 @ 6:38 PM

  6. Mike: On the other site, climateEthics: The prime directive is to avoid extinction at ALL cost. That eliminates all ethical arguments entirely since we ARE threatened with extinction. But it will be fun commenting on their web site.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 1 May 2009 @ 8:06 PM

  7. Totally off topic, but I just saw that the AGU 2009 Joint Assembly is coming to Toronto, May 24-27. Since this is home for me, I wondered if anyone is coming to Toronto for this meeting?

    Comment by Jim Prall — 1 May 2009 @ 8:14 PM

  8. Lawrence Brown, when the first quote is ”The 2008 election….[whatever]…”, one knows prima facie you are not going to get a helpful objective article on the economics of carbon mitigation. One really has to read no further.

    Comment by Rod B — 1 May 2009 @ 9:55 PM

  9. At least RealClimateEconomics is seeking to balance the cost-benefit equation of emission reductions versus environmental & economic damage of busibness as usual. This is a huge step forward over my own (Australian) governenment’s approach (for example), which seems to over ephasise the costs of emission reductions and not attempt to quantify the benefirs.

    This plays into the hands of the carbon lobby with their cries of “job losses”, “export losses” and demands for special treatment.

    The approach of RealClimateEconomics is very welcome from this point-of-view.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 2 May 2009 @ 5:23 AM

  10. Funny how the coal industry in Australia is crying that jobs will be lost due even to a carbon price for trading. Actually it will be a small imposition compared to the market fluctuations of factors upwards and quartering downwards (I mean falls of 50-75% in some commodities)

    Comment by Daniel — 2 May 2009 @ 9:28 AM

  11. > … impossible … unreal … The prime directive …. eliminates all ethical arguments …

    > … ”The 2008 election….one knows prima facie …read no further.

    Must … resist … temptation!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/03/Trolling_drawing.jpg/800px-Trolling_drawing.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 May 2009 @ 9:53 AM

  12. Rod B., whether you read further or not depends on your point of view. What Krugman says is true (in my opinion :) )

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 2 May 2009 @ 10:00 AM

  13. > the real deal
    Mike’s inline response above points to the Steering Committee; after seeing Stoat’s musical tribute post, I poked a bit further.

    Here’s the Climate Task Force page for the group:

    http://www.e3network.org/climate_taskforce_members.php

    Mike’s inline comments sound like there’s serious discussion of the merits of this stuff happening somewhere (in the halls at meetings?). If there’s any online forum for, as William says, “intelligent commentary” it’d be good to see. Filtering needed.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 May 2009 @ 1:00 PM

  14. Economics presupposes the existence of a stable civilization and the invention of money.

    Hence the first thing you learn about in economics class (at least when I took them) is “supply / demand theory”, which supposedly forms the basis of economic “theory” from which all higher principles are developed. The problem, of course, is that economics is not theory because it is in the faculty of Arts, not Science. In the sciences, scientists must go through a rigorous peer review scientific method process before their hypotheses can be accepted as “theory”. Economics and arts don’t have this, and therefore their “supply / demand theories” cannot be regarded as theory. It is this lack of a scientific method that has enabled economists for so long to go on deluding themselves into believing that the basis of economics is supply / demand “theory”, and ignoring the reality that the basic theories underlying economics are ecosystem energetics and thermodynamics. Economics and business programs at university should have an extra year tacked on to the beginning, so that students learn all about ecology and earth sciences before they even see a supply / demand chart.

    Comment by Mark Cunnington — 2 May 2009 @ 1:31 PM

  15. That’s a lot of material, fellow commenters!
    I think I have a good addition to the ‘fray’ myself, and though it’s not a website, I certainly hope that RealClimateEconomics is going to be playing the trump card it represents; as I think I’ve found the way to make sure BigOil has as many ‘ecodynamic equilibrium stabilizers’ within the Business Community as possible, and I’ve seldom seem this one touched upon!
    Insurance Companies, Rising Seas, and the potential for QUADRILLIONS of Dollars of Liabilty when we really start to lose our first major Coastal Property to them.
    The estimates in the MSM are all in the Billions; we all know that’s probably far too small.
    What Price Venice? We can always their Gondolas to New Yaok, and have them ply the ‘Canals of Manhattan.’
    And that’s a ‘best case’ scenario’ – just the COST of the Subway System!!!
    ‘Work’ the Insurance Industry, People!

    Comment by James Staples — 2 May 2009 @ 2:29 PM

  16. I think trying to predict economic consequences is frought with technological uncertainty. Just yesterday I visited a small startup, whose goal is no less than a cheaper than fossil fuels scalable renewable energy. Whether they or someone else with a similar vision succeed or not of course is the $64B question. But there is no shortage of motivated individuals with good ideas to pursue.

    Comment by Thomas — 2 May 2009 @ 7:59 PM

  17. Best of luck to them.

    The physics is challenging enough on its own. Adding a completely unpredictable component in the form of human behavior makes a problem seem daunting indeed.

    [Response: This physics may be challenging, but that challenge has been met, in the form of elaborate coupled ocean-atmosphere models that display significant skill (see e.g. the chapters on the model validation in the IPCC reports). As for the issue of human behavior being an “unpredictable component”, you make the all-to-common mistake of confusing individual and collective behavior. Although it is impossible to predict the collective behavior of an individual fluid molecule, we have a whole field of science (“fluid mechanics”) devoted to characterizing the typically quite predictable collective behavior of fluid molecules. Similarly, we have fields (“economics”, “sociology”, etc) devoted to characterizing the often predictable collective behavior of human beings. -mike]

    Comment by tharanga — 2 May 2009 @ 11:27 PM

  18. Mark,

    The existence of supply and demand curves for assorted goods and services has been verified by thousands of empirical studies for over a hundred years.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 May 2009 @ 5:32 AM

  19. “The existence of supply and demand curves for assorted goods and services has been verified by thousands of empirical studies for over a hundred years.”

    But the theory isn’t that such curves exist, BPL.

    The “free market” results require

    a) An informed buyer.
    b) A free choice.
    c) Several replaceable choices available.

    (a) is killed by marketing and by (more recently) using trademarks to kill sites that recount bad things about a company.

    (b) is killed by market segmentation and confusopolies

    (c) is killed by patents on “what do to” rather than “how to do it”.

    And that there is a change in demand and change in supply doesn’t mean that the law of supply and demand work as economists say they do. It merely shows where they got their ideology from.

    Comment by Mark — 3 May 2009 @ 9:21 AM

  20. Re: response to 17:

    I agree with you on the physics. My point is that humans add a different sort of challenge.

    In physics, if we start from first principles, we can have some confidence in the approach. We can trust that mass and energy will be conserved. If I put 1 J into 1 g of water, I know what will happen. I can see how Navier-Stokes is derived, so I can use it so long as I keep the underlying assumptions in mind.

    I do not think economics or sociology have such quantifiable first principles, regardless of whether the scale be individual or collective. Economics struggles because humans are not easily modeled rational actors. Their behavior is not necessarily repeatable or predictable. Hence the current emphasis on behavioral economics. Not to be glib, but I think a glance in the newspapers these days shows that economics is better at explaining what has already happened than it is able to predict what will happen next.

    Hence, I wish them luck. Their work is very important, but from the view of this non-economist, their tools are inherently less sound.

    Comment by tharanga — 3 May 2009 @ 11:55 AM

  21. For the record, Mark is not me, but I agree with everything he says. The problem with supply / demand charts is that they allow people to forgo common sense and do things that don’t seem very smart in the wider scheme of things. They provide justification for people to push ethics and real-world considerations to the side, because apparently everything can be incorporated into a supply / demand curve (which we all know it can’t). These two dimensional charts are very simplistic, yet they are attempting to represent extremely complex and unpredictable human behavior. They yield numbers, even though the mathematics underlying them is no better at prediction than random guessing. Yet people seem to have faith in numbers, regardless of where they come from. They take an idea and then try to make real world data fit the chart. This is the opposite of scientific process, which instead tries to make a chart fit the real world data (and usually of a much narrower and more realistic scope).

    For example, supply / demand theory yields these things called “widget charts”, which suggest that it’s a good idea to shift manufacturing over to China because they can do it so much cheaper than us and we then have cheaper products to buy and everyone supposedly benefits. But as we all know, China does not produce things cheaper because they are better innovators or do things better than us, rather they do this largely because they have such lax environmental and social justice laws. The problem is, even though we then have cheaper products to buy, we have less money to buy these things with because it leaves us with less economic base, which then crashes like it has recently because we were under the delusion that we could maintain our previous standard of living. The only thing of substance we are now left with to fall back on in North America, besides a soon-to-be defunct auto industry, is resource industries like agriculture and mining. We’re back to where we started a hundred years ago! And now, China, a communist country, owns a lot of our debt!! Great situation we’re in — thanks for that, economists!!!

    Comment by Mark Cunnington — 3 May 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  22. Mike, your point in 17 is well taken; but I would suggest the predictability of collective human behavior is more chaotic and uncertain than you imply. It’s often the opposite of your fluid molecule/fluid analogy, meaning it is sometimes easier to predict an individual’s response than it is for a throng.

    Comment by Rod B — 3 May 2009 @ 1:45 PM

  23. Sidebar to tharanga, et al: It’s not glib at all. No newspaper, economist, financial advisor can predict tomorrow’s stock market behavior with more than wild-guess odds. Yet they all can explain with excruciating detail why yesterday’s market did what it did. That’s because they cannot predict how the collective public investors will react.

    [Response: Imperfect though the analogy may be, think of the stock market as the ‘weather’ and the economy as the ‘climate’. Whether or not we can predict the daily fluctuations in the market has little, if any bearing, on whether the basic principles of macroeconomics are correct or not. This is not to say that currently principles are or are not correct, and indeed there is still vigorous debate about them (i.e. what is the true shape of the demand curve, or the relationship between inflation and unemployment). But whether or not one can predict the chaotic day-to-day fluctuations of thee market tells us little if anything about those principles, at least in so much as I recall from introductory macro-economics two and a half decades ago. In much the same way, the fact that we will probably never be able to make skillful predictions of the weather more than 10 days out tells us very little if anything about whether our current understanding of climate is or is not correct. -mike]

    Comment by Rod B — 3 May 2009 @ 1:55 PM

  24. I don’t want to overstate the issue either way.

    Obviously not every physical system is deterministic (or else I’d know the weather next week), and of course economists have some successful concepts.

    But Rod B’s comments bring to mind an interesting question. Is there anything at all in economics which is as deterministic, in a quantitative sense, as a simple problem in physics? Is that even a meaningful question?

    Even for the supply and demand curves mentioned above: for some luxury goods, the very shape of the demand curve is “wrong”; and in any case, the actual curves can only be empirical. Change the market conditions or introduce a new product, and you can only take an educated guess at how the curves will shift.

    Comment by tharanga — 3 May 2009 @ 2:39 PM

  25. re 24.

    If you buy something for £45 you’ll have £45 less money but one more something in your inventory.

    I think after that, it gets a little less certain.

    Comment by Mark — 3 May 2009 @ 3:52 PM

  26. Mike (23 response): all very true.

    Comment by Rod B — 3 May 2009 @ 8:55 PM

  27. re the response to 23. One of the problems is that the free market needs informed purchasers. But venture capitalists and stockbrokers try to keep the middle-man (themselves) a necessary part of the equation.

    And they will work for themselves if they can, rather than their client.

    But a CO2 molecule knows only what it does and does it no matter what it or anything else would like it to do.

    From The Science of Discworld, there was a word used:

    Complexity is what the weather is. Lots of things working dumbly. This can produce predictable results in a clock or poorly predictable but with some predictability (I’ll come to that later) available in all systems.

    Complicity is where the system feeds itself. One person on their own is fairly predictable. Two people interact and the interaction complex can evolve. E.g. if they’ve interacted together long enough, they know how the other reacts and can change their behavior to use that knowledge.

    A complex system may show chaos but even that has its form of predictability. Take a look at the classic butterfly image for chaos. In places the lines are far apart. So if your system is in that region of state, you have either a long time of good forecasting what will happen or you don’t need such accurate measurements to get a shorter forecast. In other regions, the lines are close together, and any small error in measurement could mean you place it on the wrong track.

    This is much less effective in a complicit system that self-organises, since it could change interactions and no longer follow the same pattern, never mind the same track, and this can happen whether the system is currently in a predictable state or an unpredictable one.

    Comment by Mark — 4 May 2009 @ 4:08 AM

  28. re #21, let it be known that Mark isn’t me either..! ;-)

    Comment by Mark — 4 May 2009 @ 4:10 AM

  29. Thank you for posting that, i especially liked chapter 4 because it touches very close on my thesis…

    “4. Uncertainty and worst-case risks”
    The selection of climate policy has to be made in an extremely uncertain environment: both benefits and costs of a particular climate policy are unknown and in the best case could be described by the probability distribution of various outcomes.The expected value approach to cost-benefit analysis relies on the aggregated estimation of various outcomes of climate policy weighted and averaged by probabilities. The variance, skewness, and kurtosis are important characteristics of uncertainties but can be easily lost in the process of aggregation.”
    http://www.realclimateeconomics.org/uncertainty_and_risks.html

    The point is quite simple…

    If you try to assess or imagine the economic impacts of climate change in a probability distribution with probability on the vertical axis and impact on the horizontal axis it will look like the upper curve of these two distributions (skewed to the right to the right or positive skewness).
    http://grants.hhp.coe.uh.edu/doconnor/PEP6305/Skewness_PosNegPict.jpg
    In 1995 there was general agreement about this…

    This positive skewness implies an extra risk premium or incentive for action on climate change because people are risk averse and the impacts of a carbon abatement strategy are almost normally distributed like this..
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/Normal_distribution_and_scales.gif

    There is even a wikipedia on skewness risk now.
    “Ignoring skewness risk will cause any model to understate the risk of variables with high skewness. Ignoring skewness is made by assuming that variables are symmetrically distributed when they are not.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skewness_risk

    Thats why its very important that damage estimates are provided in probability distributions and not as deterministic expected values (with variance).

    I think trying to avoid the worst case scenario’s might be more important in climate economics than the expected value of impacts..

    Comment by Harmen — 4 May 2009 @ 1:55 PM

  30. Mark Cunnington (#14), I agree with you on the need to educate economists in the fact that everything they study is underpinned by physical systems that don’t give a hoot about price signals.

    Apart from that you are plain wrong. First, it is not peer review, by itself, that elevates a hunch into a theory, whether in the natural or human sciences. It is the cumulative testing of the kind referred to by BPL (#18), in which peer review plays a supporting role of basic quality control.

    Second, there is peer review in the arts and social sciences.

    Third, there is theory, too; even in the interpretive human sciences, where “theory” may often be used in a rather different way, there is still at bottom a similar endeavor of going back and forth between theory and data, between one’s own analysis and the analyses of others, in order that one may add to the common store of knowledge in a systematic, reflective, self-correcting way.

    Comment by CM — 4 May 2009 @ 2:25 PM

  31. > Is there anything at all in economics which is as
    > deterministic, in a quantitative sense, as a simple
    > problem in physics?

    Gresham’s Law — first stated by Copernicus, see p.3:

    http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1973JRASC..67R…2B/0000003.000.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 May 2009 @ 3:03 PM

  32. http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    has an argument that Greenland “is not melting” and that, therefore, there cannot be any AGW.

    The article begins with:

    “Greenland–the Holophobic fear is over

    Holophobes, defined as those who fear the effects that humanity faced 5000 years ago when the seas were higher, the temperatures hotter, the glaciers melted and the ice sheets reduced, don’t want to give up their irrational fear. They love their fear.”

    If one can get beyond the impolite language used in this article, I’d appreciate reasoned comments on it.

    Thanks.

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 4 May 2009 @ 3:22 PM

  33. I will also point out that the site

    http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    contains a number of anti-AGW arguments, none of them related to the Heartland/Singer/Rush Limbaugh ravings, but made using the writer’s own scientific expertise.

    I have told him what I know about climate change (which is not much) and that I am not professionally qualified to evaluate his arguments. I have also told him to carry his arguments to the experts, who can do this.

    He feels that he has not gotten a fair hearing from posters here, and so he won’t post here, preferring to post on his own blog; perhaps he hopes he will be “found” by an advocate who will argue his case in the public forums.

    He writes in a deploringly impolite manner, and probably will not change. But just — perhaps — there will be a poster or two here who will look at his stuff and fairly judge it. I think there is nothing there, but this is one anti-AGW person who does his own work and is not blindly following others or parrotting lines fed to him by others.

    If your only response to his stuff is “he’s a dim bulb,” or “he’s dropped off the back of a turnip wagon,” then he’s heard that stuff before here and it really does not advance a dialog. He is a very successful professional geophysicist; he has made more oil field discoveries in his career than (I think) any other professional in his field, and where he is wrong about something will almost always cheerfully admit it. I know ths last because I have seen him do it on one issue he cared deeply about until the data simply convinced him he was wrong; he then took up the battle for the opposing side.

    Comment by John Burgeson — 4 May 2009 @ 3:45 PM

  34. Well, a few really obvious things.

    1) 2001-2007 is not long enough to draw conclusions

    2) “In passing I would like you to note that CO2 isn’t working over the oceans, for they are cooling ”

    He obviously doesn’t know what he’s measuring there either. La Nina.

    3) He isolates greenland but forgets that he should first ask why he’s looking there. Pre-selction bias.

    4) Note that there the sea is getting warmer when the land is getting colder. Compare with his quote in #2.

    5) He has graphs and a straight line plot through them but NO ERROR BARS. Therefore any attempt to prove anything is anulled by his abuse of lines.

    6) He says he used a regression slope. See #5 for why this is an appeal for more technical knowledge than he possesses.

    7) “One can see it going up and down pretty much in sync with the satellite data, but it doesn’t go down in 2008 and 2008 was a very cold year”

    But this is against a graph of satellite tropospheric temperatures. We live on the earth, not in the air. They affect each other, but one does not lead to the other. And see again #2 which makes his assertion that there is a significance to the lower figures unsupported, no matter how much he’d like otherwise.

    8) Goes for an even shorter graph between 2003 and 2007. Idiocy. He’s talking about how the weather changed, not the climate, but this one is so very obviously so. “Warm weather we’re having this year”. Not “The climate in this region is warm and wet”.

    9) Rhetorical question. I bet he won’t listen to the answer.

    10) “Note that the oceans are cooling since 2003 and the land warming, ”

    Weather not climate.

    11) “One final picture to show the relative amount of carbon 14 as one goes deeper into the ocean. ”

    And then makes an assumption as to the cause.

    This loon deserves all the ridicule he gets.

    Comment by Mark — 4 May 2009 @ 4:59 PM

  35. You say “He is a very successful professional geophysicist”

    But why does that mean he’s going to be successful in climate studies?

    He doesn’t even show the minimal level of mathematics that was drilled in to me for my teen-years physics lessons: SHOW YOUR ERROR BARS.

    PS won’t he be out of a job (and one that is very lucrative if he’s as capable at it as you say) if AGW is accepted and the fossil fuels left where they are?

    Comment by Mark — 4 May 2009 @ 5:03 PM

  36. Burgy, this is the retired friend you’ve frequently referred to here when asking questions on his behalf?

    Can’t he write a single paragraph without demolishing a strawman that exposes his ignorance.

    “Gee, Nature is cyclical after all!”

    As though any climate scientist in the world would claim that it’s not.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 May 2009 @ 5:35 PM

  37. To #36 dhogaza — While “retired,” he seems to be working on consulting jobs most of the time. Yes, I have referred to him before.

    To #35 Mark, who asked “PS won’t he be out of a job (and one that is very lucrative if he’s as capable at it as you say) if AGW is accepted and the fossil fuels left where they are?”

    I sincerely doubt that such a consideration is motivating him in any way. He is not that kind of person.

    To #34 Mark: Thanks for your reply, except for the closing sentence. My friend is fond of name-calling. I have told him it is (1) sounds juvenile and (2) counter-productive. I tell you the same thing.

    Appreciation.

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 5 May 2009 @ 9:27 AM

  38. “I sincerely doubt that such a consideration is motivating him in any way. He is not that kind of person.”

    You do?

    Why?

    And why do you think that climate scientists who work on AGW would

    a) get it wrong
    b) hide that fact and create a great big conspiracy just so they get more grant money

    ?

    Because people who do this for a living have stated what’s going on and published it. You can find it yourself on the IPCC page.

    Further, if he’s fond of name-calling, then he should have that paper peer reviewed in Nature. The responses will make him ecstatic.

    Comment by Mark — 5 May 2009 @ 11:29 AM

  39. John #33:

    what caught my eye in the migrantmind blog was the following:

    In Jan 1981 there was 15 million sq km of sea ice. In January 2009, there was only 14.1 million sq km. Gasp, the world is dying because everything is melting.

    But, that was August 2008.

    You could kindly ask your friend why he chose to look at January temperatures… in the Northern hemisphere that’s in the heart of winter. Of course there is ice then. And will be for a long time to come.

    Ask him to look at August ice. Not just this year and last, but the whole stretch, like all Augusts 1981-2008. And linear regression.

    You see, most of the January ice today is one-year ice — the August before it was still liquid. It used to be multi-year ice, way back when. But the pics won’t show that.

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic_thinice.html

    BTW I’m in no way an expert on arctic ice and have stayed out of the subject, but this little I have taken up through osmosis here ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 5 May 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  40. And why do you think that climate scientists who work on AGW would

    a) get it wrong
    b) hide that fact and create a great big conspiracy just so they get more grant money

    Burgy’s made it clear on many occasions that he doesn’t believe either a) nor b).

    He simply lacks the ammunition to blow off his friend on his own, and is seeking help in educating him (Burgy, unfortunately I don’t think there’s any hope for your friend, IHMO).

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 May 2009 @ 12:17 PM

  41. Speaking of cooked numbers, does anyone know why April’s seasonally adjusted CO2 was about .5 ppm lower than March’s? I would have thought in a perfect world, that the number would have increased when seasonal adjustments are made. I would assume that this result is a mathematical artifact that indicates the imperfection in the method of seasonal adjustment.

    Comment by Todd Bandrowsky — 11 May 2009 @ 2:38 PM

  42. re: 41

    Worldwide recession.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 11 May 2009 @ 2:59 PM

  43. Mark posted two questions to me:

    I had written: “I sincerely doubt that such a consideration is motivating him in any way. He is not that kind of person.”

    Mark asked: “You do? Why?”

    Mark, when you have known a person over many years, you are able to say what I said. I have seen him “in action.” I have seen him (gasp) chanhe his mind, when the data clearly pointed to the fact that he was utterly wrong on something he had spent many years on, had published on, was considered by many still holding his position as (1) an expert when he held it and (2) a turncoat when he renounced it.

    Mark also wrote: “And why do you think that climate scientists who work on AGW would (a) get it wrong
    b) hide that fact and create a great big conspiracy just so they get more grant money.”

    I appreciate dhgaza’s reply on this a few posts ago. My own professional career, while it began as a physicist, veered off into computer science and then into more of the business-related aspects of the computer business. As such, I recognize my limitations here — I am here to learn. To know more about me, visit http://www.burgy.50megs.com.

    Thanks.

    Burgy

    Comment by John Burgeson — 11 May 2009 @ 3:20 PM

  44. re: 42

    Worldwide recession cannot possibly be the cause because even the recessed levels of CO2 production are high. Last month’s daily oil consumption by the USA was about 20 million barrels. That’s still 5 million barrels a day higher than it was in 1983.

    Besides, even if all CO2 by man suddenly stopped, I think most models show that a decline of CO2 would not really kick in for some time. It would place over decades, if not centuries.

    I’m assuming this drop is a mathematical artifact, but just would like some confirmation.

    Comment by Todd Bandrowsky — 11 May 2009 @ 3:41 PM

  45. Speaking of cooked numbers, does anyone know why April’s seasonally adjusted CO2 was about .5 ppm lower than March’s? I would have thought in a perfect world, that the number would have increased when seasonal adjustments are made. I would assume that this result is a mathematical artifact that indicates the imperfection in the method of seasonal adjustment.

    Leaf out in the N hemisphere (humongous temporary C sink). Not cooked.

    Besides, even if all CO2 by man suddenly stopped, I think most models show that a decline of CO2 would not really kick in for some time. It would place over decades, if not centuries.

    Right about the delay, but assuming you mean fossil fuels when you say “CO2 by man”, the future rate of atmospheric CO2 decline would depend heavily on land use assumptions. Not an artifact.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 11 May 2009 @ 5:42 PM

  46. Todd, try this, noting that the actual numbers come in very late and corrections take some time to show up both for prices, fuel burned totals, and CO2
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/feb/23/carbon-trading-economy-downturn

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2009 @ 5:46 PM

  47. Leaf out in the N hemisphere (humongous temporary C sink). Not cooked

    This is where we miss that CO2 satellite. Had we the satellite, if such a temporary sink existed, then, we would know where and from there we could get how. But as it is we have to assume its either a temporary sink or a mathematical artifact. All things being equal, a recession would slow down the rate of increase of CO2, not reduce it in absolute terms.

    Comment by Todd Bandrowsky — 11 May 2009 @ 8:34 PM

  48. Wha-a-a-at “if such a temporary sink existed”??

    Todd, “CO2 is Life”TM — CO2 is used to make leaves.

    See the quotes from the Guardian article I linked above that answer your question about how much of a blip to expect. It doesn’t go negative.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2009 @ 9:43 PM

  49. No, we don’t have to assume anything and it’s not a “mathematical artifact”. OCO would’ve helped for high resolution detail about the carbon cycle, but we’ve known for many years that the global, yearly CO2 cycle is driven by the N hemisphere’s seasonal vegetation phenology (Mauna Loa, TM and MODIS, flux towers, aircraft sampling, etc). And the “temporary” is not an “if”–it’s exhibited every single year in the annual cycle (the descending part of the annual trend followed by the ascending part).

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 11 May 2009 @ 10:17 PM

  50. Remember, Todd’s the guy ginning up a denial website to make money; we’re helping him out here. He’s the guy whose site now says:

    “Our Climate Calcutor We use the figures from the lefty occupiers …”

    We may have a prizewinner developing here.
    ReCaptcha says: “luna Special”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2009 @ 12:17 AM

  51. re 43: so ask your friend why he thinks either of those things.

    Comment by Mark — 12 May 2009 @ 2:25 AM

  52. You folks should see the pitiful logical fallacies and conspiracy-mongering going on in comments by Chu/Obama haters at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5389278/Obamas-green-guru-calls-for-white-roofs.html. No wonder it is so hard to garner support for climate change issues. These people can’t understand combined net effects, basic science, they lie or were misinformed about the current trends, don’t appreciate statistical variance etc. It isn’t just about climate: the USA can’t be competitiveness with such scientific illiteracy. Right-wing and corporate influences are mostly to blame.

    PS: If you like “relativity paradoxes” then please check out my blog!

    Comment by Neil B ♪ — 27 May 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  53. You folks should see the pitiful logical fallacies and conspiracy-mongering going on in comments by Chu/Obama haters at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5389278/Obamas-green-guru-calls-for-white-roofs.html.

    If you enjoy food fights by imbeciles during a train wreck that is.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 27 May 2009 @ 1:43 PM

  54. #41

    Speaking of cooked numbers, does anyone know why April’s seasonally adjusted CO2 was about .5 ppm lower than March’s? I would have thought in a perfect world, that the number would have increased when seasonal adjustments are made. I would assume that this result is a mathematical artifact that indicates the imperfection in the method of seasonal adjustment.

    Comment by Todd Bandrowsky — 11 May 2009 @ 2:38 PM
    #42

    re: 41

    Worldwide recession.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 11 May 2009 @ 2:59 PM
    #

    Does that mean that if we have a long term recession our CO2 will quickly stabilize or even decrease? Could this give us more time until global temperatures get completely out of hand?

    Comment by catman306 — 5 Jun 2009 @ 3:08 PM

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