I rather liked the Synthesis report. It seems that a large number of indicators are tracking near the upper end of IPCC scenarios. Along the same lines, does anyone know if the full text of presentations at the Copenhagen meeting is available ? I have found the abstracts, but not much else.
So important to emphasize, as you have and the Copenhagen Synthesis Report does, that action can still be taken to remediate the situation. I find with my students that all too often understanding of the problem results in hopelessness rather than action. Useful analogy about the pot on the stove — will have to remember that.
Sorry, but there was not much confusion about the 2 C threshold at the Copenhagen science congress. I was one of the social scientists that attended the congress and, although they acknowledged that it is still ‘technically’ possible to keep temperatures from rising more than 2C, few scientists I talked with there thought there was much chance of this occurring. After the science Congress The Guardian newspaper in London polled climate scientists that attended attending the congressand found the same thing–few thought temperatures would remain below 2C. See the Guardian story.
Bottom line: we must rapidly mitigate emissions but the world must now equally prioritize rapidly preparing for the consequences of rising temperatures. The term adaptation should thus be used much judiciously than in the past. Its not likely that most societies can adapt to 2 C in one century or less, unless you call constant crisis management adaptation. We can, however, prepare for the consequences much like we now prepare for natural disasters. My experience in the U.S. is that by focusing on preparation people become more interested in mitigation—which is quite the opposite of what was first thought.
Finally–the most important of the six ‘key messages’ of the Copenhagen science congress, in my opinion, was the last–that major constraints must be overcome to make rapid progress on mitigation and preparation. This is the area that should now become the major focus. If we are to eventually stabilize the climate the focus of climate issues must shift from the biophysical to the social sciences. The world’s major challenge now it how to motivate widespread cognitive, behavioral, organizational and cultural change for climate stabilization and preparation.
University of Oregon
Climate Leadership Initiative
[Response: Dear Bob, thanks. Indeed many colleagues are pessimistic whether we will stay below those 2 ºC warming – but that’s because they are pessimistic about the policy process. They are not saying it isn’t technically entirely feasible. These two things should not be mixed up. Otherwise politicians get just another excuse to drag their feet: they will give up efforts to limit warming to 2ºC by claiming that the scientists say it’s impossible. But it’s not. We can do it if we want.]
Professor Ramanathan from Scripps has already suggested that it it was not for cooling agents warming would rise to around 2.4C. Atmospheric Brown Hazes (formerly Asain) and BC are having noticeable effects on arctic sea ice and asain monsoons.
Now wonder many people are confused. This guy is a nobel prize winner along with Al Gore.
[Response: That’s right – but those cooling agents are out there and they are not suddenly going to vanish, hence this fact does not stop us from staying below those 2ºC. To answer this question you need to do transient (i.e. time-dependent) scenario simulations with reasonable assumptions about how our greenhouse gas emissions are going to change over time, and how the cooling aerosol amounts are going to change over time. This is what the recent Nature papers by Meinshausen et al and Allen et al have done, and they show that with sufficient emission reductions we can stay below those 2 ºC. E.g., if we reduced linearly from now on, each year by 2% (of 1990 emissions), we’d have a 66% probability of staying below 2 ºC, already accounting for the changes in aerosol concentrations (i.e., cleaner air). -stefan]
I agree with Bob in #5 and I think that key sixth message is worth quoting:
“… [A] number of significant constraints must be overcome and critical opportunities seized. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; reducing activities that increase greenhouse gas emissions and reduce resilience (e.g. subsidies); and enabling the shifts from ineffective governance
and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the
private sector and civil society.”
In particular, the scientific community, government leaders and the general public will need to bring concerted pressure to bear on counter-productive activities of certain fossil fuel companies and urge them to renounce the ongoing PR disinformation campaigns against the scientific consensus on climate change.
There is a reason that Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” focuses so much on how societies make their decisions and policies. The greatest challenge we face when major change of any kind comes along, whether we caused it ourselves (as we are now) or not, is to our political processes. They are as much evolved with the status quo as our agriculture and technological infrastructure.
Bob Doppelt writes:
“If we are to eventually stabilize the climate the focus of climate issues must shift from the biophysical to the social sciences. The world’s major challenge now it how to motivate widespread cognitive, behavioral, organizational and cultural change for climate stabilization and preparation.”
I do agree that social aspects and and adaptation need to be given a lot more attention. However, if by “shift” you mean a corresponding reduction in attention paid to the biophysical aspects, I much disagree. There is still a huge amount that we do not have pinned down–or even approximated–at the regional and smaller scales. Adaptation activities must necessarily be tailored to the local situation, so we are going to need better small scale climate and climate effects information.
There are possibilities and probabilities, never the twain shall meet. I will grant you that limiting global average temperature to 2C is possible, however it has a very low probability due to 2 primary reasons.
In no particular order of precedence, the first is due to money. Not how much limiting CO2 emissions will cost the economy or “average citizens” or the ecosystem. However, the “ultra-rich” and most politicians, worldwide, perceive that it will cost them, personally, many millions dollars regardless of how small a percentage of their inflated incomes it may represent. Those are millions of dollars they do not want to see going to anyone or anything else regardless of “consequences.” Moreover, they have “established” their inequitable incomes by limiting change and stifling innovation creating a dependence of the masses. These “captains of industry” pursue a marketing model not far removed from how heroine dealers garner consumers of their poison. That is not going to change any time soon for any reason.
Secondly, but possibly of greater import, even if all “man-made” GHG emissions were utterly stopped today, thermal equilibrium of the planet would not be realized for years, maybe decades, to come. From everything I’ve read on this website and many others, there is no evidence to support the implication that the current atmospheric concentration of GHGs will not lead to increased warming. Moreover, there is more than sufficient evidence to suggest that more than a few feedback processes are active and will continue to exacerbate climate change regardless of what we mere mortals do. For example, the report from the Catlin survey and the latest info from the NSIDC seem to indicate this summer we will see a new record low in ice extent in the Arctic. I’ll even surmise, here and now, that it is going to be “dramatic.” This, in turn, will only increase the warming and the rate of warming in the northern latitudes, in particular, which will lead to increased thawing of the permafrost and increased GHG emissions from those natural sinks. Neither of these factors bode favorably to limiting warming to 2C.
While the above constitute my 2 major reasons, there are many more indicators that the 2C limit has little hope of realization. Where I live, about 30 miles west of Cleveland, Oh, ALL my neighbors typically start their vehicles and let them run for 10-20 minutes in the winter before they actually go somewhere. Hell, they frequently do it spring. summer and fall, too. ALL the people I talk to about the reported changes in climate and ecosystems garner nothing but glazed eyes and silence. I don’t know anyone who grasps the significance or cares enough to even engage in discussion. Many even tell me to just “STFU.” Need I mention that the majority are exclusively “informed” by Fox News? Al Gore “recently” published a book called “The Assault on Reason.” While the title and his observation is correct I see an even more frightening “slant.” That is, I find there has been an abdication of reason. Most seem to live their lives by the adage… “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” It is far easier to “believe” a perceived authority figure than “research” facts and employ one’s cognitive faculties (if they exist in the first place) and “go with the flow.” All this implies that a global population of 9 billion (or more) will NOT be accomplished anytime in the foreseeable future.
Comment by Colin Crawford — 21 Jun 2009 @ 12:20 PM
I keep thinking that what would actually help is a little bit of urgency, of panic, of fear, of scared-shitlessness on the part of the scientists. These are the people who *know* what is going to happen, and they (with a few notable exceptions) keep saying nice, calm, this-is-not-an-emergency sorts of things like “[A] number of significant constraints must be overcome” and “Temperature rises above 2ºC will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with.”
Holy flying leaps, what does it take to get 2500 scientists excited? “Difficult for contemporary societies to cope with”?! Thousands — hundreds of thousands — of people are already losing their lives and their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and their whole nations at only +0.78 degrees C!
I’m sorry, but scientists are human beings, too (right?). Where is their compassion for those who are the most climate-change-vulnerable and already impacted? Where is their concern for their own children and grandchildren? Why don’t they care about future generations of all species? Why are climate scientists not jumping up and down, yelling and screaming, standing on their heads, going on hunger strikes to get the point across — THAT WE ARE BEYOND DANGEROUS INTERFERENCE WITH THE CLIMATE SYSTEM?!
Are scientists SO programmed into thinking that almighty science can never be touched by the lowly heart and soul that they’re going to just keep diddling (and researching and holding meetings) while the Earth burns? I just don’t get it.
I’m a little confused. Back in March, Gavin argued, rather convincingly, I thought, in the “Michaels’ new graph” post, that trying to disprove or prove anything in climate from a few years is probably a mistake. So what has really changed since the AR4 and how can it be significant, given the relatively short timeframe?
In the report it says: “Since 2007, reports comparing the IPCC projections of 1990 with observations show that some climate indicators are changing near the upper end of the range indicated by the projections or, as in the case of sea level rise (Figure 1), at even greater rates than indicated by IPCC projections.”
Does that mean comparisons between projections from the TAR with observations done since AR4??
[Response: Indeed. The graph referred to is from Rahmstorf et al, Science 2007, published after the deadline to be included in the IPCC report. -stefan]
The Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Congress is quite consistent with much publicized report out of MIT titled “Climate Change Odds Much Worse than Thought”. Each says basically that
1. Without action to control CO2 and other GHG emissions things will get very, very bad within the next 100 years.
2. Some effects of global warming are being felt, and will get somewhat worse. (At the 2 degree level)
3. The worst effects can be stopped. But this will take quick and decisive action throughout the world to keep the climate from rising above the 2 degree level. The scientific know how is available. And the economics to do the job is there.
4. All it takes is a universal political will to get the job done.
And in part 4 lies the problem. It will require action in the United States to control its CO2 emissions. It will require action by Europe. And it will require the developing nations, particularly China and India, to emphasize non-CO2 sources for their continued economic development. And, I fear, that all of this will not happen at a sufficient enough pace to keep the temperature rise at or below 2 degrees C.
The question now becomes when will the US, Europe, China, and India become motivated enough to put a heavy emphasis into the problem of Global Warming?
The answer, I think, is when global climate changes start to become an actual problem for these countries then they will start to act. And at that time it would seem that it is likely that the resulting temperature rise will come very close to the MIT estimate of 5 degrees and all of the problems that entails.
As you can tell, I am not very optimistic about the future of the earth. Fortunately, for me, I am getting pretty old. I should have at most 10 to 20 years left. So I will not have to endure most of the worst stuff that will happen. But my great grandchildren — that is another matter.
Another thing I find strange. On Page 9 the report says: “Since the last IPCC report, updated trends in surface ocean temperature and heat content have been published4,5. These revised estimates show (Figure 4) that the ocean has warmed significantly in recent years.”
However the graph in figure 4 ends in 2003 or 2004, three years before AR4, and so does not include recent years.
[Response: Estimates don’t just get revised by adding more recent years to the data, but also by new studies reanalysing older data sets. The climatic trends do not change anyway from adding three or four extra years; it’s the longer time scales that are relevant. -stefan]
Once again I see in the Synthesis Report, page 29, the McKinsey or Vattenfal chart without meaningful discussion of the details, and even still a number of the measures shown are not even pointed to with a label. The chart format seems to be very useful and it could be quite an important presentation.
Some of the suggested measures seem sensible and easily understood, but the reality of most of the measures seems highly questionable. It is time for McKinsie and Vattenfal to actually come up with the associated line items that are the basis for this chart, so rational discussion could begin. As it is, there is not a lot of reason to put much confidence to this summary.
[Response: Did you look at the 192-page report that goes with it? (Took 1 min to find via google.) -stefan]
Leonard’s link works but yours takes much longer to load :-(
Anyway, do you really think a slogan like “Inaction is inexcusable.” is going to have any effect? Very poetic, but everyone will blame everyone else for the lack of action.
Shouldn’t the slogan be “Without regulation of fossil fuels, there will be a Climate Crunch!”
It needs governmanet action. Individuals are powerless because even if they buy a hybrid their neighbour can buy a Hummer. I can take a holiday twenty miles down the road in a caravan, but my neighbour can fly to Thailand with his wife and six kids. Who suffers in a damp British summer? Me. Who comes back with a tan? Them! I have suffered to save their world.
There must be government regulation to ensure equal hardship, and intergovernmental agreement to ensure that all nations trade on a level field. The US must accept international rule. Freedom and self regulation mean that the baddies are the winners and the goodies are the losers, just as we have seen in the Credit Crunch (and with British MPs expenses.)
Moreover we have to face the facts – we cannot switch to re-usables in time to prevent a +2C rise. We must cut our consumption and that means an end to economic growth. We can’t grow AND cut greenhouse gas emissions. Even clearing forests to plant biofuels is lose-lose situation.
The Synthesis report says:
Temperature rises above 2oC will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and are likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond.
More weasel words. What they really mean is that “Temperature rises of over 5F are likely to cause wars, droughts and famines in our lifetime, and worse in that of our children.”
When are they going to say what they mean and mean what they say?
Captcha says “stomping an”. Shouldn’t that be Stomping Al?
What is needed is disruptive leadership in not just the political realm, but in the private sector as well. Without bold transformational leadership from industry we will not solve this problem. Leaders must have an appreciation for systems thinking, see problems as interconnected and solutions as interdependent. Profits become not the aim of the organization, but the consequence of pursuing another aim – building great products in a sustainable way. Disruptive leaders do exist in the executive suite, Ray Anderson and Fisk Johnson to name two. But both head privately held companies. According to Mr. Johnson, he would not be able to make sustainable development (including reducing CO2 emissions) the organizing principle of his company if he were forced to report results to shareholders every quarter.
Perhaps the late Kurt Vonnegut put it best when he wrote “We could have saved the planet, but we were too damn cheap.”
Re #16 Hank, This is as good a paper I can find about the subject at hand about the fundamental issues with the cooling agents of climate change. Black Carbon and the ABH are seen to have larger forcings than I can remeber reading about:
its a large paper. The world would be warmer at 380 ppmv Co2 if these agents of cooling were not in wuch large scale operation. If we decide to clean them up before tackling Co2 and other GHGs then we could see additional warming presently masked?
I know that RC are busy busy busy right now but cooling agents seem to recieve additional research that will no doubt throw new light on the subject of future warming.
Not that it hasn’t been said before, but the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere, THROUGH THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS AND OF BIOMASS THAT CONSTITUTES A REDUCTION IN THE NPP OF THE LAND FROM WHICH IT WAS HARVESTED has to become regularly viewed as an affront to the “Commons”. And that this affront must be penalized with a carbon ‘fine’, in proportion to the affront (CO2-footprint) just as are other anti-social civil ‘crimes’.
“… In a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, calculate that
greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions as of 2005 have committed the planet to warming of “2.4C above the preindustrial surface temperatures …” [n3]
3 V. Ramanathan & Y. Feng, On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead, 105 Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sciences 14245, 14245 (23 September 2008).
Apparently Gavin is about to recieve notification of a data dropout in an Alaskan weather station from the proprietor of the Science Blog of the Year, due perhaps to the name of the station being spelt differently by the NCDC and NASA [‘Dutch Harbor’ vs ‘Dutch Harbour’]
Naturally this is the fault of Dr Schmidt and his damn British origins.
Even though (a) NASA does not maintain the Station Inventory file where the mismatch occurs and (b) the data dropout dates from more than a decade before Gavin joined NASA.
Could it get more silly?
[Response: Of course it can. I’m not even involved with GISTEMP. And GISTEMP is an analysis of the GHCN data – which comes from NOAA and the various national weather services, and it is the national weather services that determine whether they release monthly data summaries from which stations (which is what goes into GHCN). Thus instead of actually trying to be constructive, they prefer to make it a personal issue with someone who has nothing to do with it. Forgive me if I don’t take their comments very seriously. – gavin]
By shift I mean we need to put as much or greater emphasis on the social sciences now than the biophysical. Even at the Copenhagen science congress the biophysical sciences took center stage, even though, at least to me, the most important message was the last one which deals with the need to find ways to motivate change. We have long know that information alone–no matter how credible– is not sufficient to motivate fundamental change. In fact, too much information without the other keys to successful change (which I think can be summarized as sufficient tension, efficacy and benefits) often triggers the reverse–people deny, ignore, or rationalize away a problem. If we are to make significant progress in addressing climate change we need to make a major investment in cognitive, behavioral, economic and other factors that motivate change. This does not mean that the biophysical sciences are less important–of course they remain essential. However, I think today that the emphasis is out of balance given the challenges we face.
Well in your climate commons thread, it was established that without action by China, below 2C is impossible, unless your model assumes C warming from business as usual, then maybe you can get to 1.6C.
If you need to get an 80% emissions reduction, with China responsible for 25% of emissions, that means a 20% reduction by them, from current levels, with a 100% reduction by everyone else. Europe and the US are unlikely to reduce 100%, plus there are other significant increasing countries like India(4%). Also China is increasing by 10% per year. So you are looking at at least a 50% reduction by the Chinese as well.
I have a problem with the first several graphs shown in his report, particularly the one of Greenland ice volume, showing changes from 2003 to 2008, with 2003 set at 0. Is this the standard that scientists use for showing trends?
[Response: What relevance to the trend does the baseline anomaly have? (Clue: none whatsoever). – gavin]
“I find with my students that all too often understanding of the problem results in hopelessness rather than action.” (from sue, above)
I fear I agree and align with Colin Crawford, and I have no doubt that sue’s students seem much of the same. I don’t think Americans will take this really seriously — enough to change their daily behavior — until 40,000 or more Californians die from something concretely connected with Change.
This goes beyond Change and the horrible hoodwinking that our civilization has indured. IMO it is the confluence of bad evolutionary heritage, with insufficient and ineffectual education, with a representative democracy which has been shorn of its founding assumptions. We need and have education to climb over our natural tendencies to misjudge risk, as documented so ably by Mlodinow in his DRUNKARDS WALK. We need education to teach, not only the maths and the science, and the criticism of bad rhetoric, but to satisfy that assumption of widespread democracy, that if the voter is to rule wisely, the voter must be educated. Our enlargement of those responsible for choosing those who decide has outpaced our collective ability to educate. I, for one, believe that to have been deliberate, in the interest of some parties for which it was a win. Education is commoditized. It’s a chit used to ante in for “just the game” of having a job.
Climate Change is a global evolutionary test, nothing less, and even that assumes no non-linear tunnels and tips. It is a test of whether or not we can extend our personal valuations of goodness over decades and centuries rather than fiscal quarters. Surely the science needs to proceed apace, escalate, document and probe, and needs to receive vastly increased funding and attention. But the audience needs to be able to listen, too, and act upon it.
If there ARE non-linear tunnels and tips, and we are approaching them, circumstances are already beyond our control, and this is just one of those bad luck moments of contingency. We just need to hang on for the ride, as best we can, and hope.
Re #5, the 2007 IPCC WG3 shows no scenario to keep temperature increase below 2°C. International Energy Agency’s 2008 Energy Technology Perspectives describes a system that requires, among other things, an unprecedented level of cooperation, and still doesn’t get down to a 2°C increase. Science Magazine had an article after WG3 came out in which scientists accuse economists of being too optimistic in this analysis (I’d guess reasons include overestimates on the amount of hydro available, half of renewable energy by 2030, according to IPCC).
Stefan, when people say it’s technically possibly to keep temperature increase below 2°C, it can mean A) “if humans cease to exist” or B) “if human social structures really get a move on”. Has there been any analysis I’ve missed that shows that the B scenario is technically possible?
Great response; thanks for clarifying and I fully agree. The psycho-social aspects are of great importance and there is the real danger that paralysis can occur as the bad news rolls in. More effort, and integration, is needed. Everybody needs to learn to listen, and talk, to everyone else or we won’t solve this. Fortunately I think we have some people in power who understand this.
Just like in the old musical “The Music Man,” the “you got trouble in River City” scare pitch is being used to stampede enactment of a cap-and-trade flimflam scheme which will not actually reduce CO2 emissions.
Enron failed to sell the Kyoto cap-and-trade scheme (the Clean Development Mechanism — a failure), but now it looks like Waxman-Markey may make the swindlers’ dreams come true. The junk market thus created in tree offsets will be a bonanza for Wall Street, but a disaster for the rest of the planet. That money which should be going to developing and deploying technology for solving the problem of post-combustion CO2 capture and conversion will instead go to the cast of characters who caused the latest financial bubble.
For the coal plants and other big emitters, it will be cheaper to buy
[Response: possibly your comment is cut off due to the use of less than signs which are being interpreted as html? – gavin]
Comment by Wilmot McCutchen — 21 Jun 2009 @ 6:07 PM
Re 26: So the good Dr. ‘Supwitdatdude is now using Discovery channel re-runs for his climate station conspiracy sleuthing is he? The man is just drop-dead brilliant.
Jan Theodore Galkowski:”Climate Change is a global evolutionary test, nothing less, and even that assumes no non-linear tunnels and tips. It is a test of whether or not we can extend our personal valuations of goodness over decades and centuries rather than fiscal quarters.”
A fundamental evolutionary barrier for species(IQ-Check) inhabiting a planet in space.
So if I like the climate of where I live now, as it is now, I should move 10 degrees of latitude poleward and just to be safe add a few hundred meters of altitude.
There is no way we will limit temperature rise to 2 degrees. There is no way that society as we know it will cope with the changes.
So we will neither avoid the unmanageable or manage the unavoidable.
Comment by Tony O\\\\\\\'Brien — 21 Jun 2009 @ 7:44 PM
I find James Lovelock’s analysis in “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” convincing about the positive feedback loops operating in global climate systems. His point that the climate modelers whose analyses dominate this site are too limited in their approach to possibly be correct and that their results are under-estimates, given that climate models fail to reproduce non-linear paleoclimate changes, seems perfectly valid.
It is clear from the existing scientific literature that already there are multiple positive feedback loops engaging, such as reflective arctic ice being replaced with more absorptive dark water, increased vegetation in the far north replacing reflective snow and ice, permafrost warming already releasing greenhouse gases (with very significant amounts available to be released at increasing rates), tropical deforestation replacing evaporatively cooled forest with hot lands, ocean warming reducing the oceanic carbon sink…
Then there is the extreme unliklihood of actual, as opposed to hypothetical and wished for, reductions in natural gas, coal and oil burning in the near term. Carbon burning is increasing and the human desires for food, warm housing and a good life, for increasing billions, make for ongoing increases, not reductions, at least in the decade and probably for the next two decades. Most people are not yet alarmed enough for requisite actions to be politically possible and there is a vanishingly small chance we will act globally in time. Therefore there seems to me to be essentially zero chance of avoiding temperature rise much greater than 2 degrees C, together with significantly more, and more rapid, sea level rise than now predicted. Major societal disruptions are inevitable. A warring starving hot world looms before us.
Accordingly we need to focus on adaptation and research into geo-engineering. When severe effects from global heating become crystal clear, the push to attempt engineering solutions such as sulfate injection into the upper atmosphere will be irresistable. I would like to see enough forethought, research and testing done to maximize the chance that when, not if, we are forced to try it, we can avoid making things worse instead of better.
[Response: Which evidence provided by Lovelock in his book for those positive feedbacks did you find convincing? Please explain. -stefan]
Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Jun 2009 @ 7:57 PM
31: A lot of good points. In the US very little teaching of epistomology occurs (this is the study of how we can know things). A lot of research in the social sciences area has gone into the service of marketing, of both commercial products, and political agendas, particularly but not restricted to delaying climate action. Unfortunatly the applications of this sort of marketing research are increasingly effective -they are shaping the unconcious neural processes that form what is commonly thought of as gut feelings. Only well trained, and concientious people can overcome this sort of programming. IMO the most effective first steps are to publicise how we are being manipulated.
38: I think your coment ”
A fundamental evolutionary barrier for species(IQ-Check) inhabiting a planet in space.”
might be a useful way of making the point. Of course CO2 is only important, because the earth is nearing the end of it’s period in the sun’s habitable zone. If we had evolved say a billion years ago, when much much higher levels of GHG were needed to keep the earths temperature within reasonable limits, the small additional amount we could have added wouldn’t have had much effect (the effect depends upon the logarithm of concentration, not the absolute amounts). It is only during this late stage of the habitable period when very low levels of CO2 are needed,and that makes the relatively small amounts of carbon available to industrial man so important.
One of the problems is that the deniers are winning. And it is our fault. We are not getting information out to the public in a language they can understand. Real Climate is a great site — but the general public has no way of reading it. It is beyond the scientific understanding of the average person. If we are going to beat the deniers we must educate and convince the public of what we who follow the science already know. Global warming is here, it is getting worse, and without action it will be very, very bad.
Deniers can with ease take a snippet of information that contains a part truth, or no truth at all, and make it sound like scientists don’t know anything. They do this very well.
On the other hand those of us that are on the science side, especially those whose knowledge of science is about the average of the general population, have no place to go for the truth. There is no place for someone with a sixth grade understanding of science to go to find the truth. And until that happens the deniers will continue to win.
I’m a bit bewildered about the sea level rise chart. It says in the caption that the sea level rise for the most recent years were obtained via satellite based sensors. Have we now managed to calibrate the satellite readings with the land based readings or are we grafting together two different measuring systems and trying to proclaim a change in trend from this? Perhaps I am mistaken in my belief that this violates fundamental scientific procedures and there was no need to calibrate the two systems? I think at a minimum the land based readings should have been included for comparison. I don’t think it’s a secret that the two systems are not actually measuring the same thing.
[Response: The blue wiggly curve in the graph is the satellite altimeter data. The red smooth line with grey annual values is the tide gauge stations. -stefan]
This is amusing. MikeN is assailing the graph showing the past five years of Greenland ice mass loss (p. 9 of the report) because of its short time span. Apparently the meaning of the last sentence of the caption escaped him:
“The vertical axis is set to an arbitrary value of zero at the beginning of the observational period.”
I agree that in my view the models are conservative, especially in relation to feedbacks. As the denialists are fond of reminding us, the CO2 levels have historically increased after the temperature has started to rise, not before. But the rate of rise that preceded the CO2 release was only a few tenths of a degree per century, not the 2 to 5C we are into now. So we must confidently expect that whatever it was that led to increased CO2 production then will happen again, and very soon.
In relation to the political will, it is great to hear a number of leaders recognising that we are moving from avoidance to mitigation. That is mitigation of the social consequences. Quite how they will deal with the consequences of desertification extreme weather and perhaps most insidious of all the 2 to 5 metres of sea level rise due this century will be interesting to see.
How (and interestingly when) will Obama explain to New York, Florida and New Orleans that they are gone – there is no point spending any more federal money there ever again? How will Holland and Denmark explain to central Europe that they are moving all their people there over the next 50 years, and they are bringing their knives and forks with them? Is the Prime Minister of India teaching religious tolerance and offering room again to all those poor water-logged souls in Bangladesh who were previously driven there by the Great Partition? Perhaps they can share in the drought in India as the glaciers feeding the great rivers of Asia dry up and the rice fields die. Are the Mayors of Beijing and Shanghai chatting up the locals up the hill? They are both going under in due course.
In terms of good strategic planning, this is the measurable parameter – the timing of the retreat from the coast over the next few decades is clear enough. And it will go on, until.
And then with the full knowledge of the future we blend in minor challenges such as the true meaning of global mineral oil production peaking in June 2008, the convergence of food and bio-fuel into the same crops etc and we are in a very interesting state indeed.
There is hope, of course. But that hope revolves around developing climate-proof means of producing simple food on (or on top of) soils above the 100 metre line that are unsuited to agriculture, with minimal water input. Of developing interdependent Quaker/Cuba/Jungle village communities where we make what we consume, and we enjoy and are satisfied with the consequences of our work. Society will fragment into more meaningful units, but hopefully it will not implode.
With regard to psychosocial aspects of coming to grips with the climate crisis, here’s an idea.
Data and information, while very important, are unlikely to change the minds of ordinary folks who choose not to take global warming seriously. What is needed is something that is much more difficult, i.e., a way to connect on an emotional level with the disbelievers. This emotional connection cannot, however, be at the level of anger, ridicule, or insult. I suspect it will have to touch on the fear that each of us feels, the fear of losing not just our lives but the very possibly of losing the societal/civilizational basis for modern consciousness. Professional disbelievers, who shape their thoughts for money or fame, are unlikely to respond to such an approach.
Perhaps by acknowledging our own vulnerability we can touch the emotional core of another human being and perhaps cause a crack in their emotional armor. Perhaps by admitting our own fear and distress we can help others gain the courage to acknowledge their distress and possibly begin to move past the barriers to understanding that such fear generates.
Maybe Julie Johnston (#13) is right and we need more climate scientists to admit that they are scared shitless. I certainly am.
The scientists need to say: “The price of bread is going to $10 per slice” or something like that. THAT is how you get the attention of most people. The message has to relate to the common peoples’ lives. India and China will get the message when the monsoons die or do not produce rain at ground level. [I heard somewhere that when the temperature exceeds a critical value the rain evaporates too quickly to water crops.] Both India and China depend on monsoon rains for their food. About 2 Billion people will die in the process of India and China getting the message. The Americans will only get the message because China has enough US dollars to cause horrendous inflation in the price of food in the US. There will be mass starvation in the US before wages can be inflated enough to counter the outflow of food, if there is any food. The rain is all wrong on this continent as well: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=1708440
Drought a ‘disaster’ in western Canada
Record Dry Spell
Canwest News Service Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Here in Illinois, we are getting rain like I never saw before. Driving was like boating the day before yesterday.
We need to see to it that the law against false advertising is enforced. I hope the law still exists.
We need a multi-billion dollar advertising budget if we are to get anything done before the world wide famine happens.
We need a refuge from the world, maybe on Mars. Since the poles are warming twice as fast as the equator, there is no refuge on this planet. Uninhabitability happens everywhere on Earth at once.
Why are the scientists in Copenhagen not talking about the coming famine?
Actually addressing the problem of global warming with any degree of positive action would (you could also use the word WILL) require a true, functional, global government.
There. I said it. UN “cooperation”, “protocols”, or “treaties” aren’t going to cut it unless there is an obvious, unassailable, imminent (i.e. within decades) danger — such as occurred with the ozone hole.
How likely is an actual functioning global government? Well, we’ve really got to get working on that warp drive…
Hello folks. Just happened upon this site accidentally. I am not a scientist. I do however understand science above a 6th grade level :). I was at one time a GCC believer. I am now a doubter. To change my mind and I believe, others like me, we need for people like Steven Chu to stop suggesting we paint our roofs white to reflect heat. We need to stop seeing outlandish ideas on the Discovery channel, like wrapping glaciers in white plastic. You climate change scientists need to get experts from other science disciplines on board, Don’t just say we need to cut oil usage, come up with concrete, cost effective alternatives. Cost effective for the family making $32,000 a year or less. Cost effective for the peasent in China making $3,000 a year. NO POLITICIANS as spokes persons. The average inhabitant of planet earth does not trust a politician, regardless of government. And know this, the biggest challenge you face has been created by the same scientists who predicted the hole in the ozone layer would destroy the earth 30 years ago. The fact that a medium strenght hurricane flooded New Orleans, is not proof of GW. It is viewed by the average Joe as the stupidity of FED, State and local politicians for building in flood prone areas and building crappy levee systems. I hate to say it, but you do need 40k-60k americans dying of a disaster that can be conclusively blamed on climate change. These are just some random thoughts and ideas to fuel your scientific thought processes. Thanks for the forum to speak
The problem in the marketplace is the price signal is muted by not recognizing the full cost of CO2.
Any chance that peak oil (which is happening/just happened/will happen real soon) will stand in as a proxy for the hidden costs of CO2? I notice gas is at $3 in a recession, which means (hopefully) $4 or more as the economy recovers.
Once we peak in oil than all the other fuels will also cost more as people try to trade into them. So all fuel prices go up. And this is without cap and trade (which I greatly fear is both too weak and will be voted down).
I realize I am grasping at straws, but straws are what are available. What do you think – any chance that naturally occurring rising fuel prices will keep us below 2C?
Bob (#14), yes, Figure 1 shows TAR (2001) model projections from 1990-2010 compared with up-to-date observations. (The body text confusingly speaks of “IPCC projections of 1990″… Editorial slip?) The figure is updated from a Rahmstorf et al. 2007 paper published too late to make the cut for AR4 and thus “new”. See the footnote to the chart and Rahmstorf’s Copenhagen presentation.
(#19) Presumably the ocean heat content graph stops at 2003 because that’s the cutoff point in the underlying papers. Again, these were published in 2008 and 2009, thus presumably not adding new observation data to what was available at the time of the AR4 but providing a new analysis of these notoriously tricky data.
It does seems a pity, though, they didn’t extend it to take in the apparent dip in the last few years, putting it in long-term context. A pedagogical opportunity lost and no doubt an opportunity provided for the usual crowd to claim a cover-up. But perhaps there are good methodological reasons for this on which someone can enlighten us.
There is no way we will limit temperature rise to 2 degrees. There is no way that society as we know it will cope with the changes.
I agree. The people running our society are just too stupid, short-sighted, and greedy to act in time. Humanity in general doesn’t prevent crises; we wait until the crisis happens and then react. Always.
I’ll keep arguing for AGW theory and for doing something about it, but I expect to fail. I’ll go down fighting, but I do expect to go down.
Is there anyone in this country that does not understand that smoking is a deadly habit? Yet 20+% of adults still smoke.
Is there anyone in this country that does not understand that being overweight is bad for their health? Yet 2/3rds of all adults are classified as overweight or obese.
Is there any baby boomer around who doesn’t understand that his or her retirement is coming up quickly, and that social security and medicare won’t be enough to fund a comfortable retirement? Yet more that half of that group have not saved enough for retirement. Fully a quarter have no savings at all.
This is powerful evidence that people are short sighted, even when it comes to matters which directly affect their personal well being. Yet some of you have trouble understanding why people are not answering the call to make sacrifices to solve a problem that really hasn’t been felt yet by most people, and will have it’s worst effects long after most of them are dead?
Come out of the ivory tower, and walk among the undisciplined masses…
Re #52, David, can any one say with any certainty what will be lost? I know people who have no interest in environmentalism which is the category that AGW is placed into and that means hippies( lefties) and the notion of many things that people do not or are told they should not like.
Fossil fuels have been around for 250 years now and coal longer. They were cheap and plentiful but today one of them and possibly two are about to throw a massive spanner in the works as their cheapness might be starting to run out. The propsect of the most used fuel being the one that peaks first is not that surprising and its peak might be a good thing or a disaster for AGW. A good thing for we might economise and be more efficient (20 MPG to 60 MPG) and then new technologies that as yet do not exist might get their chance in the form of biofuels of a low carbon order, electric cars, hybrids etc. However it might be a bad thing as oil prices rise so does the economic sense of coal to liquids projects, massive tar and shale sands expansion and other carbon emitting fuels come alive.
Gas will follow soon after oil (2020 to peak) and then coal (could be as early as 2025). Therefore AGW should make us act to some degree but mainly on the notion of fossil fuels becomming more expensive and other energy sources requred to stop our beloved capatalist material consumerist world carrying out until something else starts to mess up.
Environmentalists would have us perhaps live life differently and the population of each country to be manageable and sustainable and hence it could be a very different world once fossil fuels become too expensive to be large scale economic. However let us say we manage to find suitable replacements for fossil fuels that are economic which are also low carbon so AGW is mitigated to some degree. It might be to the liking of the environmentalsits however for roads and airports will still be built and expanded and forests might still disappear and food might still be provided in unsound ways in their eyes.
We have grown a global economy on the back of large scale fossil fuel extraction which allowed for growth and economic prosperity bu keeping billions of people in good jobs and in good homes with plenty of choice for all along with prosperity for everyone is a tall order, one that we have not thought about much though until now.
The entire thing is an edifice of sacrifice for western countries for several billion of the world population have nothing anyway. For a moment there mankind was reaching for the stars and impressive science but now it could be we all go back to God.
Bringing together the thoughts from the previous Winds of Change thread, the comments above (#46) about getting climate science to the public, and in direct response to Gavin’s response at 26 above, can RC do a page dedicated to acronyms please?!
[Response: What is RC? -stefan]]
[Response: Sorry about that. We should be clearer. – gavin]
Beautiful, beautiful Copenhagen…what a lovely place.
I’m so happy to have seen it before it goes underwater.
Kudos for trying, conferencers, seriously. Bravo.
But if meetings and seminars could solve problems,problems would’ve been extinct long ago. Sadly, history continues to teach us that history teaches us nothing, and all the words, good intentions and costly meetings in the world cannot turn the approaching tide. We are sandcastles before it.
Our political and business systems are too ingrained to surrender control. Caring interferes with profits. Of course, that whole structure will come crashing down but until then, it’s still get-it-while-the-gettin’s-good.
Besides, it’s too late.
The time for any effective action was 2 or 3 decades ago when ‘tree-huggers’ and ‘eco-freaks’ (and some very reputable scientists) gave warning of what was coming. The sheer inertia of the damage that has been done is inescapable. Our only hope is the immediate invention of some miracle creations capable of detoxifying the planet.
The first and most crucial of these devices must be one that will make us more kind, less stupid.
“Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.”
Really? The ARGO site shows that ocean temperatures have very slightly fallen the last couple of years. Arctic sea ice has made some improvements as well, yet the opposite is reported on both.
Why all the pessimisim? Reading the report confirms what I suspected about the IPCC’s estimates, ie: getting that many experts to agree pratically gaurentees a conservative outcome. But it also gives me great hope with the diversity and detail of the remedial options it covers.
I’ve been debating climate change on the net for about a decade now, from my anecdotal and amaturish experience the trend in people’s attitudes over that time has definitely been to move away from the psuedo-skeptics and their disinformation. Most of the large corporates are now on board and are practically screaming for regulatory certainty. The comment about Chu at the end of the article demonstrates the US is no longer the sulking petulant child we loved to hate.
We should be rejoicing that the psuedo-skeptics are becoming increasingly isolated and are now commonly seen in the media as having as much credibility as young earth creationists. We have won the technical battle and the major commercial battles are all but over.
This sea change in attitudes since Gore, Blair and others started strongly backing the science in public a few years ago was the political tipping point, sure there is nothing much set in concrete yet but there is a huge neon light at the end of the 2012 tunnel. It won’t be perfect when we get there but barring any massive underestimates of feedbacks it will be effective enough to save our skins.
So to Julie at #13 and those who paint a similar picture I say cheer up and give the scientists here and around the globe a big pat on the back for a job well done!
“We must cut our consumption and that means an end to economic growth”
“Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!”
He keeps parroting it time and time again. Never explaining why, never answering queries as to what makes him think this is true. To him it is as True as The One True God to a devout believer. In this case, maybe the Order Of The Free Market.
He never listens, never explains, just parrots it over and over a gain.
Don Condliffe (41) says:
“…the climate modelers whose analyses dominate this site are too limited in their approach to possibly be correct…”
Do you read this site? It presents a wide variety of evidence, with a very good mix of empirical and theoretical analyses. And most if not all of the feedbacks you mention are in fact included in models. The accuracy of their predictions is an ongoing challenge, just a part of the process of science.
And as for research into aerosol-based geo-engineering, you don’t think some good climate models might be needed for that?
to answer this question you need to do transient (i.e. time-dependent) scenario simulations with reasonable assumptions about how our greenhouse gas emissions are going to change over time, and how the cooling aerosol amounts are going to change over time.
I have the same opinion, but carry it further. We need to simultaneously model the climate, model mitigation and create massive socio-political awareness by modeling the human response. I think there is a means to do this that actually helps determine what paths can and should be taken.
“Incidentally, by now 124 nations have officially declared their support for the goal of limiting warming to 2ºC or less, including the EU – but unfortunately not yet the US”
Before you can ask why the US should join honorable international climate coalitions, there are questions that have to be delt with.
What are the various global warming solutions and strategies?
What are the costs to our individual rights and freedoms?
What are the costs to our culture?
What are the costs to our economy?
What are the mitigation/adaptation costs vs adaptation costs?
How does the climate crisis rank with other crisis facing the US and the world?
Are you qualified to address any of these questions?
I’m sorry to level my frustrations at you Stefan, but I see so many climate scientists jumping over important questions to get to their favorite solutions. Is every climate scientist also an activist?
Lots and lots of thin or severely broken up ice, all done in mostly cloudy weather conditions.
Please look at data, study it daily, before jumping on one stat which placed without context, is meaningless.
2007 was remarkably cloud free at most locations, yet 2009, remarkably cloudier everywhere
gives about the same melt.
I have yet to see any evidence of Arctic cooling at all. Convince others with facts, yourself with a deeper study.
The first one is the only one that is neutral and the only one that should be answered.
What are the benefits to our individual rights?
What are the benefits to our culture?
What are the benefits to our economy?
After all, removing a scarce renewable resource from our basic needs enables us to CHOOSE who we deal with on essentials. Or do you like funding Iran with petrodollars?
Our culture will not have to deal with flooded florida. Whether that’s a good thing depends on whether you think Soylent Green is utopic or dystopic.
You pride yourself on your intelligence as a nation. Your “go-getting” attitude and your ability to find a solution. Except here. Do you think that production of high quality solar panes will be beneficial to the US technological prominence or do you think that the third world are better than you when it comes to high-tech?
One thing is CERTAIN.
We need to me more efficient with our resources and more effective with our economies.
As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency projects that even if the emissions limits go into effect, the U.S. would use more carbon-dioxide-heavy coal in 2020 than it did in 2005.
That’s because the bill gives utilities a financial incentive to keep burning coal by joining the cap-and-trade system — a kind of marketplace where polluters could reduce their emissions on paper by buying pollution reductions created by others. These so-called offsets, for example, could be created and sold by farmers who planted trees, which filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Environmental groups also say the bill could set off a boom in the construction of new coal plants because of provisions that would restrict legal efforts to block such projects.
There are at least three problems in that brief excerpt, from the bottom up:
1) What does an ‘environmentalist’, i.e. someone concerned with their surroundings, know about the economic factors that drive coal plant construction? Why not ask an ‘industrialist’, i.e. someone concerned with the system? (a balanced thermodynamic perspective = system + surroundings)
Problem: media bias, poor analysis and slanted language.
2) Trees and grasses exist in steady-state with atmospheric CO2, which is why CO2 levels in the atmosphere were stable for thousands of years. Net carbon storage as living biomass only happens if grasslands and deserts are replaced by forests. Regardless, biomass sequestration does not offset fossil fuel CO2 generation unless that biomass carbon is permanently buried in the geological reservoir.
Problem: misunderstanding and misapplication of science.
3) The cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions has been widely criticized by those who recognize that efforts should be focused on renewable energy development as a replacement for fossil fuels. Here, the correct strategy is not cap-and-trade, but rather feed-in tariffs:
While not exhaustive, this site contains an extensive collection of articles on Feed-in Tariffs, Advanced Renewable Tariffs, and Renewable Energy Producer Payments. Learn more about feed laws-in tariffs and how they have been successful in Europe, and how they can benefit North Americans by following the links below.
Problem: media bias and one-sided analysis that follows the course laid out by fossil fuel lobbyists.
The article then goes on to quote the ACCE:
“In the past, there was a drive to use climate policy as a wedge to take coal out of the energy mix,” said Joe Lucas, senior vice president of communications for the industry-funded American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “There’s just been a fundamental shift.”
The point here is that this ‘fundamental shift’ flies in the face of basic scientific assessments of the validity of clean coal claims – it’s as if the U.S. Senate just decided to throw all of its weight behind the concept of creationism.
This is in-line with other recent decisions, such as the push for coal-to-gasoline plants, and the expansion of Canadian tar sands projects (see the $8 billion Exxon-Canada-Embridge deal, which will use gas provided by the government-guaranteed Alaskan Pipeline to the Tar Sands to melt and process said tar, and then ship the syncrude to the West Coast). Similar proposals for shale oil are also being pushed through.
The rationale behind this switch to unconventional sources of oil appears to be that global supplies of cheap crude oil are declining, and efforts to secure deals for Central Asian, Middle Eastern, African and South American oil for domestic use are looking less and less likely. Thus ‘national security’ demands that new sources of oil be developed, is how the PR line goes.
The problem for coal-syngas and tar sand proponents is that global demand for petroleum is very low due to the economic collapse. Demand was considered to be inelastic, but (as with the Russian economic collapse in the early 1990s) that’s been proved false. Why is this a problem? Because coal and tar sand gasoline is only profitable if oil prices stay high – at least above $60.
What would drive demand for gasoline even lower? Well, large-scale investment in electric cars and biofuels is at the top of the list. Even a modest increase in biofuel production (say, 15% ethanol blended with gasoline) would seriously impact crude oil demand and thus, lower prices. Electric cars are far worse (for gasoline dealers), as their energy efficiency is 5-10 times that of ICE vehicles. Furthermore, a large and powerful electric car battery system is perfect for storing up energy from intermittent sources like sunlight and wind.
There really is no need for pessimism, however, as all the technological know-how needed to replace fossil fuels with renewables already exists. The technology is being suppressed by government subsidies to fossil fuels because the politicians who control those subsidies were put in power by financial and political interests that are largely dependent on the cash flows generated by fossil fuel sales (this is how coal-state Democrats get elected to Congress, for example). They also do their best to steer research money to fossil fuels and away from renewables, as Department of Energy budgets ever since 1979 reveal.
It is sad that the United States federal government is setting the country up for ecological and economic devastation by tying the future to coal, however – but that has been going on for quite some time now. Technological innovation in energy is just too disruptive to the established status quo, and threatens too many entrenched political interests – and this means that yes, we have had a massive failure of democracy on this issue.
Thanks Alan (#71) for some optimism. I take the pulse of the people at politico.com and Huffingtonpost.com (middle and left leaning respectively). (I check the science here! ;))
By that measure AGW is losing at the left leaning blog and getting pummeled at the political middle.
I fervently hope that a political solution is forthcoming, but the prognosticators are saying that Waxman bill will fail this year. I am hoping that it is debated in late summer, when the most recent evidence of warming is fresh in everyone’s mind.
Comment by Thoughtful Tom — 22 Jun 2009 @ 12:34 PM
him #68 says:
“Our only hope is the immediate invention of some miracle creations capable of detoxifying the planet.”
Yes, that would be a good start. But what about getting that invention deployed in time to make a difference? We only have 20 years to reduce CO2 emissions enough to hold the line at 2C.
The vested interests insist that the problem of CO2 emissions is impossible to solve, therefore they should not be required to spend anything on a futile effort. The Bush DOE devoted all of its “clean coal” research to chemical capture and underground storage — both of which are known to be dry holes. The GAO debunked “sequestration” last year. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081080.pdf A skeptic might reasonably suspect a deliberate waste of money to prove the industry excuse for inaction.
The last thing that the big CO2 emitters want to see is an invention that solves the problem they create. If it works, they would have to spend money on it. Better for them to insist that either there is no problem or, if there is, it is impossible to solve.
So Congress is providing another out: tree offsets for the small fraction of CO2 emissions not covered by free indulgences. That’s the Waxman-Markey bill. As experience with the Kyoto cap-and-trade system shows, there will be no actual reduction in CO2 emissions. But everyone can pretend that something has been done. And Wall Street will have a compulsory junk market for tree offsets of dubious provenance for a forest somewhere in Nigeria to package into weird derivatives and make into an even bigger bubble than subprime housing.
Comment by Wilmot McCutchen — 22 Jun 2009 @ 12:37 PM
MkeN @57 wrote: “I really don’t see it as anything other than a cherry picking of data.”
Of course you don’t. That’s because it has not yet dawned on you that since the GRACE satellites were launced in 2002, 2003-2008 is the satellite gravinometric data period for the Greenland ice cap. All of it! What you dismiss as “cherry-picked” is the entire data set.
And before you sputter on that 5 years is not enough time to determine a trend, that applies to discerning a trend that manifests itself over a time span greater than 5 years, such as discerning a climate trend from the natural variability of interannual weather. But that is not what is being measured in this graph.
What is being measured is ice mass loss, which because of damping by the thermal inertia of a massive ice cap, tends to be affected more strongly by long term climate trends than by natural seasonal or year-to-year variability. The 5 years of interannual data in the graph clearly show a downward trend.
That trend taken together with 1) the prior graph plotting the expanding area experiencing surface melt over the much longer period of time from 1979 to 2008, and 2) actual ground observations of the increase in ice mass loss at outflow glaciers since the 1990s, it becomes obvious that although not quantified by satellite gravinometric data before 2003, the Greenland ice cap was definitely losing mass prior to the start of the satellite record.
You have zero grounds to level a charge of “cherry picking.”
Not that that will stop you from doing so.
Hank, I’m not trying to put egg on faces, and I’m not trying to cause trouble. These are honest questions I have that come up in my own conversations. Aren’t you a little curious about the popular ‘scientists speaking outside their area of expertise’ phenomenon?
One more question re #61. I couldn’t find anything in the text explaining why TAR was used for comparison in some cases. The source reference says “IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007” which must be AR4 – yet the graph for i.e. figure 3 explicitly states “IPCC Third Assessment Report” but then goes on to say “(data from 2007 and 2008
added by Rahmstorf, S.)” which would (if I don’t totally mess things up) give the Impression, that the 2007 AR4 (which obviously couldn’t include 2007 and 2008) was used. Eyeballing the graph I’d say it really is TAR – but why not use AR4 in a 2009 report?
[Response: Because the report cites a published study here: our 2007 Science paper, where we were looking at how the TAR projections (starting in 1990) compared to observations. For a meaningful comparison you need enough data, and we thought 16 years was enough. The AR4 projections start in 2000 (see Fig. SPM5 of the AR4). Around the year 2016 it may be worth redoing such a comparison, to see how the more recent projections have held up. -stefan]
OK, Jim, I accept that explanation, but I would say leaving out the chart is the better option. The whole report looks like cherry picking of doomsaying graphs. Why compare to TAR projections, when there is a fourth assessment report that is newer? Looks like it is to make observations be on the high end of projections.
With ice loss, I suspect there is a 150 year negative trend, so cherry-picking is perhaps the wrong charge.
Good grief! You folks sure are pushing numbers back and forth and wanting greenhouse gases to go away. But you deny what it takes for this existing earth support its human inhabitants.
Solar and wind for electric generation is a major user of resources, from synthetic materials, i.e. oil products, copper, lead, and industrial processes to put it all together. At that, efficiency is poor compared to steam plants. Also, the AC from these sources need the existing power infrastructure, and the steam powered rotating generators on the other end, to help buffer and clean up the crappy alternating current alternative plants put out.
You can tax coal and oil all you want, but it is not going to cure any greenhouse gas output. Now, if the US decides to go all out nuclear, and get up to 80% nuke power generation like France, then you will make a dent. But you are going to have to realize, current alternative sources will not power a successful industrial nation. Electricity, generated by nuclear primarily, and alternative sources hoping that improvements to the technology will make them cost effective, is the only way to go.
The growing, processing, and transportation of food to masses crammed in large cities, many of whom are nothing but leeches on society even after being given a chance to improve their lot, figures in to this mess too. Well, you say, then there are too many people on this earth. How are you going to solve that? Pull a Hitler? Education? The free world has been trying to educate Africa for 60 years, and they still procreate uncontrollably.
We are using the internet, everybody hooked up with their computer in some form. What a waste of energy. 25 years ago, you wanted info, you went to the library. Is the internet, and all its techno offspring an improvement on human kind? After the Challenger blew up, the engineers of the Apollo program who used slide rules, asked the engineers of the Space Shuttle program, who used computers how they could have made that mistake. Faster and easier is not necessarily better. What about the consumption of material needed to put this internet infrastructure together, how much green house gas did that generate?
The world in it’s present form, requires the expenditure of energy at it’s current levels in order to support the beings on it. Now, if you want to disperse the populations of each country, back into the country side, and tell them to raise their own food, and support their own selves off the land, the first thing that is going to go is all the trees, right into cook fires and fireplaces.
To reduce car usage, instead of fixing interstates, put high speed electric powered rail lines down the median of every interstate in the country. Tear down all commercial airports, except seven, 3 on the east coast, 2 in the middle and 2 out west. Hook all the high speed rail lines together, with the the remaining airports as focal points. Air for those who need to get from one side of the country to the other, rail to get to all the podunk places in between. This will require a major adjustment to the old adage, “time is money”. We need a galactic reduction in the requirement for everybody on the planet to get things done in the shortest amount of time. The country ran just fine when it took three day to get from New York to LA.
You can examine all the global warming data you want to, but it will take a global shift in the way we live, not just in the US, but every country, except possibly those poor misguided souls in Africa, in order to change anything. China, is possibly the worst polluter in earth at this time. Are you going to tell them they can’t expand their economy? America has the technology for the cleanest coal plants and the safest nuke plants on earth, but we have a media, in conjunction with the enviro extremists, idiotic federal guidelines, and a current administration that wants to eliminate both forms of energy generation.
Of course this is only my opinion. But then again, I live out in the country, grow most of my own food, and can defend my family and property. That may be all that it takes to survive, after all the rules come down the pike to kill modern living. Perhaps that asteroid impact in 2012 will be a good thing.
“These are honest questions I have that come up in my own conversations. Aren’t you a little curious about the popular ’scientists speaking outside their area of expertise’ phenomenon?”
Does rather require
a) scientists are doing so (that you haven’t had the answers to your question would lead me to wonder what makes you think they are)
b) scientists are relying on their stature *as scientists* when doing so, not as a citizen with just as much right to speak out as you
Temperatures and sea levels have been rising for the last 160 years. How many people and cities and waterfronts around the world have been inundated? So far none. If you look at old maps of places like Boston and New York you’ll find that waterfronts have expanded in size over the years. Cities like New Orleans should not have been built at all below sea-level and on land that is subsiding. Perhaps we should spend money on dikes rather than on Carbon credits 
MikeN @93: “OK, Jim, I accept that explanation, but I would say leaving out the chart is the better option.”
Why am I not at all surprised?
Capthcha concurs: “recently some” ice has melted.
Clue: The IPCC fourth assessment report included the explicit caveat that changes in the ice dynamics of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps was not taken into account in the assessment’s projections of sea level rise.
No surprise then that you’d rather exclude the gravinometric data showing that Greenland ice mass is in fact declining.
naught101 (58) — First check that CO2e is about 450 ppm. Use an 1850 CE baseline of 288 ppm in the formula found in chapter 4 of http://forecast.uchicago.edu/samples.htm
and use a climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 of 3 K to find the eventual equilibrium temperature. About 70% of that occurs over something like the 159 years since the baseline start. Very approximately, assume most of the rest takes 2 or 3 centuries.
That’s my amateur take on your question and I do hope I’ve provided enough informatiion that you can work on an approximate answer.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Jun 2009 @ 3:07 PM
A question on “models”.
Some folk don’t like computer models.
So what about “non-computer models”?
I have had the (simplified for morons like me) HadCRU3T global temperature rises over time graph as my desktop background for a while, downloaded from the UK Met Office. This is a nice graph and lots of pretty colours.
If I print it out and lay a school ruler on it and with an HB pencil, project a line into the future, the line will go up, up, up.
Can it be said I am “modeling”, albeit without a computer?
Is this an answer to those who say “Global warming? Just a (computer) model”?
Conclusions stated in the Synthesis Report linked in the lead article here state, “Thus, in 2009 society cannot precisely determine the “right” or the “best” pathway all the way to 2050 and beyond. There will be technological, societal and value changes in the future that will cause the trajectory to change. There should be no penalty for not getting it absolutely right the first time. The most important task is to start the journey now. The first steps are to generate a broad dialogue at all levels of society and to build a consensus on the need to act. Quite probably, when it comes to responding to human-made climate change, the “only action that is inexcusable is to take no action at all.”
This seems like good sober advice, but the idea that there “should be no penalty for not getting it absolutely right–” could be misread. Ok, absolutely right is not necessary, but hugely misguided action could incur quite a penalty; even to the point that it could poison the political climate for real action.
Getting it right is certainly not going to be easy, but a careful, though complicated discussion is in order.
There is a lot to discuss here, but one of the key assumptions in reducing use of coal is that natural gas supplies are abundant. On this basis, penalties imposed on coal might seem economically tolerable. We should be careful about that assumption; if it is wrong, the backlash from banning coal (if it actually is meaningfully done) could be severe. I would be happy to find that natural is indeed abundant, but I have doubts.
The idea of abundant natural gas emerges from faith in the so called “unconventional natural gas supplies.” This faith has been endorsed by the EIA in their 2009 Annual Report. However, all I can find about this “new” resource shows it to be based on a “new technology” which is elusive; though it seems to be only more agressive application of long known “fracking” and “horizontal drilling” and more drilling methods.
Trying to track this down, I read the Chesapeake Energy Co Annual Report. They seem to be leading the campaign to convince us that there is a lot of natural gas, along with T. Boone Pickens. The Chesapeake reserves statement is indeed impressive.
I also looked at annual reports from :
Encana-largest North American NG producer
Flaky outfits all. (joking — these represent a significant sample of the total US production)
None seem to think their reserves have expanded anything like what Chesapeake says theirs have. However, Statoil is joint venturing in one of the Chesapeake operations, so this seems a vote for their credibility.
Another of these was joint venturing with Chesapeake in an operation, but Chesapeake pulled out of that deal. Hm?
Chesapeake evalutates their reserves differently than the others on the list. They use a committee of outside consultants (wonder how they are hired and paid). Last year no Chesapeake employees were on the committee. Hm?
There should be a note that natural gas reserves are a very elusive thing to evaluate. The results depend a lot on how much comes out of a well; it is more difficult to know how much is still there. There is also a large factor influencing estimates of reserves which is the assumed future market price, which can dramatically influence opinions about what projects are feasible.
All said, I hope Chesapeake is right, but caution is in order.
This is a critical issue. Just shifting from coal to natural gas for electric power generation could be an important way to reduce CO2 (about 50% for that activity) and it is close to reality. Further, in my view of how things might be, it can be used to reduce CO2 for a given amount of electricity produced by 83% compared to coal fired generation. The natural gas supply and its delivery infrastructure could enable such very significant progress. ( I am referring to cogeneration where electricity is a by-product of heat production–backwards of the usually assumed cogeneration system.)
The CO2 crisis is indisputably real and imminent. If we don’t significantly reduce CO2 emissions, despite predicted massive increase in coal combustion for power, the whole planet is in trouble very shortly.
We all know that, but such a preface is necessary to appreciate the depth of dismay occasioned by a look under the hood of that lemon legislation, Waxman-Markey.
We can say with certainty that cap-and-trade, under the scheme of Waxman-Markey, will not cut CO2 emissions. Look what happened under the last CO2 cap-and-trade scheme, the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism. Now it’s becoming clear that the intent of Waxman-Markey was to raise money by the sale of carbon credits, the money to be used to fund health care and other priorities instead of solving the CO2 problem. http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/conrad-open-to-energy-taxes-for-healthcare-reform-2009-03-29.html A tax in green clothing. But since it has been watered down with free indulgences and cheap offsets, there won’t even be much of a tax, so any pretense that this will discourage fossil fuel power has no basis in fact.
Waxman-Markey will discourage, however, the development of the technology we need. Instead of investing in clean tech to cut emissions, what’s best for the utility’s shareholders is to buy tree offsets, cheap. So forget about the “free market” coming to the rescue with some miracle of American innovation, because Waxman-Markey takes away the financial incentive that would drive investment in clean tech.
As for government-sponsored research, Waxman-Markey insures that clean coal research will continue to be directed into well-known dry holes. Section 114 (b) establishes the Carbon Storage Research Corporation, a subsidiary of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Section 115 (a) mandates regulations for CO2 underground storage (“sequestration”) within 2 years. But the GAO has found that sequestration is unworkable. Which should be obvious: who wants a high pressure lethal gas dump under their town, and who will insure the risk that it won’t leak?
So what’s the point of Waxman-Markey, if cap-and-trade won’t cut emissions and the research program laid out in it for clean coal is futile? Two ulterior motives are evident now: (1) call off the EPA, which won a hard-fought victory last year in the Supreme Court, giving it the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2 emissions (Waxman-Markey explicitly overrules this victory); and (2) compel utilities and other CO2 emitters to participate in a new junk market in tree offsets, so Wall Street can rise from the ashes of its last financial fiasco by generating an even bigger, worldwide bubble in Nigerian tree credits.
Yes, the Green Team has been played for fools, and the goal of CO2 emission cuts is farther away than ever.
Comment by Wilmot McCutchen — 22 Jun 2009 @ 3:19 PM
Wilmot — or maybe the point is to get all the ideas that are being proposed into public view for skeptical dissection, this year.
“… Specifically, we recommend … (1) obtaining the information necessary to make informed decisions about the regulation of (and potential liabilities associated with) the capture, injection, and storage of CO2; (2) using this information to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for capture, injection, and underground storage of CO2; ….” May I suggest you follow up over at Breakthrough? It’s a good topic, about the topic you want to discuss.
It’d be way off topic to discuss that further here and take attention away from the Copenhagen meeting and the scientists’ statements.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Jun 2009 @ 4:56 PM
Re #92 and #93, some of us were wondering why certain observations were being compared with old projections. Bob asked. MikeN just assumed a cherry-picking conspiracy “to make observations be on the high end of projections”. Bob got the simple answer at #92 because one of the scientists whose integrity MikeN impugned took the time to explain it too us. There’s a moral lesson to be learned from this but those who most need to learn it are not here to learn.
As for Arctic ice, I have looked at those sites. How can you say that the ice extent isn’t greater than 2007? Honestly on that, my thoughts are the next year or two will be a lot more conclusive on whether that trend is reversing, because if ice is ever to become multi-year ice, well, it has to be multi-years old. There was about 25% more second year ice this year over the previous.
I have an interlocutor that says that you can get the Mann Hockey stick from random data.
It took several goes but this is what he eventually said:
“Red noise is a random walk. You add a random number to the the previous value and so on.
You make a number of these series and then you use them to replace the proxy data in a temperature reconstruction.
If you produce several of these random walks you will see that some of them have a similarity to the instrumental record. Some reconstructions give these series a high weighting overiding most of the other series hence the concerns over a few proxies dictating the result.”
So you have to use random data and keep using random data until you get Mann’s Hockey Stick.
That hardly seems to be random data to me…
[Response: Actually, this line of attack is even more disingenuous and/or ill-informed than that. Obviously, if one generates enough red noise surrogate time series (especially when the “redness” is inappropriately inflated, as is often done by the charlatans who make this argument), one can eventually match any target arbitrarily closely. What this specious line of attack neglects (intentionally, one can safely conclude) is that a screening regression requires independent cross-validation to guard against the selection of false predictors. If a close statistical relationship when training a statistical model arises by chance, as would be the case in such a scenario, then the resulting statistical model will fail when used to make out-of-sample predictions over an independent test period not used in the training of the model. That’s precisely what any serious researchers in this field test for when evaluating the skillfulness of a statistical reconstruction based on any sort of screening regression approach. This isn’t advanced stuff. Its covered in most undergraduate intro stat courses. So the sorts of characters who make the argument you cite either have no understanding of elementary statistics or, all too commonly, do but recognize that their intended audience does not, and will fall prey to their nefarious brand of charlatanism. -mike]
Thought some of you would like a laugh!
[Response: Disgust is a more appropriate emotion, recognizing that the errors in reasoning aren’t so innocent, and that there is a willing attempt to deceive involved. -mike]
As for Arctic ice, I have looked at those sites. How can you say that the ice extent isn’t greater than 2007?
Wayne didn’t say that. He said it’s nearly at the 2007 level despite melting conditions being much less favorable than they were in 2007, due to the fact that there’s more cloud cover thus far this year.
Please read what people write rather than rinse, lather and repeat your cut-and-paste knowledge.
Tommy links to a picture above:
tommy Says: 22 June 2009 at 5:27 PM
Tommy, where did you find the link for the picture?
Why do you consider your source to be trustworthy about what it means?
do you know what set of numbers that picture charts?
Did you read the discussion related to the picture
Do you recognize the acronym on the picture?
Do you know where the measurements were taken and why?
And an aside for John Mashey — note the result found using Google Image Search; Tommy’s picture above is the very first hit. Popular image! I wonder why it’s so popular. That’s why I asked Tommy where he found it.
How vulnerable is the ice cover as we go into the summer melt season? To answer this question, scientists also need information about ice thickness. Indications of winter ice thickness, commonly derived from ice age estimates, reveal that the ice is thinner than average, suggesting that it is more susceptible to melting away during the coming summer.
As the melt season begins, the Arctic Ocean is covered mostly by first-year ice, which formed this winter, and second-year ice, which formed during the winter of 2007 to 2008. First-year ice in particular is thinner and more prone to melting away than thicker, older, multi-year ice. This year, ice older than two years accounted for less than 10% of the ice cover at the end of February. From 1981 through 2000, such older ice made up an average of 30% of the total sea ice cover at this time of the year.”
Tommy, there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing unless you don’t learn from the experience. When you find people are giving you bogus explanations or just pictures and claims, look for the original source.
Don’t rely on some guy on a blog for opinions. You can look this stuff up for yourself.
I’m just an amateur reader here. All I have going for me is a vast respect for the reference librarians and their tools and the willingness to always check sources, read the notes, read the footnotes, and read the newer papers citing the older ones to see how the science is developing. It’s vast power. It’s available to everyone who wants it.
Hank, I did use google, but I just searched for ARGO, because I had heard some things about it. What are you seeing in the ARGO site that disputes or refutes their own graphic? I’m just pointing out that ARGO doesn’t show a temperature increase in recent years.
Icarus, it doesn’t dispute long term warming of the past, and I made no such claim. I think it’s more than just the recent La Nina though…hasn’t the PDO shifted to the cool multi-decade cycle? Again, I just made the assertion that ARGO shows a recent, 5+ year cooling, yet this article states the opposite. How is that?
I can see that it might be considered premature to evaluate AR4 projections. Nevertheless, there is considerable interest in those projected trends, and it’s noteworthy that they appear to run pretty much parallel to TAR, but 0.05 degrees higher. That makes the difference look palpable in these early years, but of course will make little difference to the 2030 projections.
But it’s still reasonable to wonder where this difference comes from. As I understand it, TAR projections were not baselined to pre-projection hindcasts, as AR4 was. This implies that there are two components of possible “model error” in the AR4 projections, one related to the baseline and the other to the actual projected trends. After all, smoothed temperature trends are already below AR4 projections in 2000 (and have continued to rise, but are not “catching up”, at least not so far).
Suppose that there might be a baseline error in AR4, due to “over modeling” of Pinatubo volcano aerosols on the one hand and the distortion of the super El Nino on the other. Could one not avoid that issue, by applying the same procedure as Stefan Rahmstorf et al did for the TAR projections, i.e. baselining both projections and observations to the smoothed observations at the start of the projection period?
Well its an argument, but i belive irelevant, maybe the threshold might differ but the balance got disrupted (450 ppm Co2 equality) – hence we had 280 the last 2,1 billion years …
Maybe a bigger planet could have supported but than again the landtaking of man would have occured expotational/proportional.
“Solar and wind for electric generation is a major user of resources, from synthetic materials, i.e. oil products, copper, lead, and industrial processes to put it all together. At that, efficiency is poor compared to steam plants.”
Yeah, to any fool it’s obvious that expending 24kW operating a 4kW air conditioner to beat back the sunlight falling on your house while simultaneously running a 4kW resistor to heat water -inside- your house is way more efficient (not to mention intelligent) than organizing some of that sunlight into a useful form, such as heated water. Plus, any idiot knows that since we all have our sunlight and wind metered and can barely pay the bill it’s really important to use sun and wind efficiently by letting it –all– go to waste, as opposed to other, traditional energy sources that are of course too cheap to meter.
Show me someone burning stuff for light, or warmth, or transportation, I’ll show you a caveman. Setting things on fire used to be the cutting edge, about 40,000 years ago, but no more. It’s time for us to put away the flint and grow up already.
I think we need more Models which point out that we have a “Win Win” situation when we switch quick to renewable energy ressources.
speaking of biochar, solar farms spiceing electro vehicles.
No Co2-Cars in Citys.
The two names given there as contacts may be helpful for you if you want to know what it actually is and how it was created and why.
[Response: You guys seem to be discussing the Niño-3.4 SST, right? That’s a small region in the tropical Pacific indicative of El Niño / Southern Oscillation; i.e. sea surface temperatures there tell you whether the tropical Pacific is in El Niño or La Niña conditions. Has nothing to do with global SST trends. -stefan]
Shows a significant decline in Multi-year ice older than 2 years, greater than 10% since 2007!
It seems that this is the number you should look at , 08-09 is a newer ice sheet, where the balance between thicknesses has been radically changed. 1-2 years ice is not as important, and may be part of extra ridging from a wider first year pack. As Dhogasa as stated, you must carefully consider your conclusions with a context. If Insolation conditions were identical between 07 and 09, you might have had a point. Just taking numbers out of one source or another does make a poor diagnosis.
I really wish you guys would stop using relative terms like “2 degrees increase” and instead pick a ceiling number like 10C or 20C. Two degrees increase from what? From 100 years ago? From yesterday? From a decade ago?
I hope you realize that the science of climate has nothing to do with whether or not someone wants to paint a roof white, or not.
Coming up with cost effective alternatives likewise has nothing to do with whether or not this global warming event is human caused.
However, to address your concerns regarding white paint, I have created a report in response to the Science and Public Policy Institute and the paper presented their written by Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, which was posted by Bob Ferguson on June 8, 2009
You might want download and take a look at it. I’m working on a new hurricane page, but it’s not ready yet.
To any one else that has extra time, if you spot any egregious mistakes in the response, please let me know through the site contact link, and I will correct. For those not familiar with the science, opinions about the report are not appreciated, only well reasoned and/or scientifically sound arguments are acceptable.
“I have an interlocutor that says that you can get the Mann Hockey stick from random data.”
I know someone who says that monkeys, if they are given typewriters and taught to hit them randomly, will eventually produce Shakespeare.
For some really bad economic advice, turn to the IEA:
LONDON (Reuters) – Investment in renewable energy is down and achieving oil prices that spur “green-growth” should be a goal for December’s Copenhagen conference, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency said on Monday.
Well, the only place investment in renewable energy is down is in the United States. see the stats:
On a regional basis, investment in Europe in 2008 was $49.7 billion, a rise of 2%, and in North America was $30.1 billion, a fall of 8%.
These regions experienced a slow-down in the financing of new renewable energy projects due to the lack of project finance and the fact that tax credit-driven markets are mostly ineffective in a downturn.
With developed country market growth stalled (down 1.7%), developing countries surged forward 27% over 2007 to $36.6 billion, accounting for nearly one third of global investments.
In fact, large scale domestic investment in renewable energy would drive oil prices down by undercutting demand, something I guess that the IEA economist understands very well – but the argument is that if oil prices go up, oil billionaires will invest their money in… the subprime housing market?
Regardless, it should be obvious that diversification of the energy supply alone should reduce fossil fuel prices, as there would be more (and cleaner) choices for energy consumers. It should also be obvious that with renewables, you don’t have to buy fuels – which is a great deal for the consumer, but a bad deal for the fuel dealer.
At some point, fossil fuels will just be too expensive to take out of the ground and process – and this would already be the case if the true costs of fossil fuel dependency were included – see the following report, for example:
“Real Climate is a great site — but the general public has no way of reading it. It is beyond the scientific understanding of the average person. If we are going to beat the deniers we must educate and convince the public of what we who follow the science already know. Global warming is here, it is getting worse, and without action it will be very, very bad.”
Sorry, Al, no. It is not the scientists’ fault, nor the fault of the educators. It is the fault of the sentiments of Pelops War era Athenians transplanted to the USA, or at least of the deep rooted distrust of the scholarly which is American culture, all the way back to its founding Revolution, and heightened through the Great religious Awakening of the 19th century. It is a difference in outlook and outcome, and failing to learn the fundamental lesson of the Last Whole Earth Catalog. Yes, it’s been going on that long. It was discounted then, tossed aside as rubbish from some Yuppie aberration. It is a misunderstanding of what it means to have truth. In some sense, what has happened is a counter scientific revolution, despite the ready willingness to embrace consumer products whose existence depends upon deep science.
So, *I* think the only things realistically left to do are:
(a) Work REALLY, REALLY hard at collecting data, modeling, assessing how bad it’ll be and what the effects are going to be. Because it is a matter of economic and physical security, I don’t see why we shouldn’t quintuple funding for research in geophysics and oceans and climate, simply because We Need to know, as well as the maths of doing PDEs better and quicker.
(b) Prepare as best as can be done to mitigate and move, to step aside in order to avoid consequences. That will be a nightmare in a society which praises and extolls the rights of the individual, and which, today, sees any form of taxation or regulation as tantamount to evil, if not actually evil.
This will need to be done at a time when, according to Obama himself, we’re “out of money”, and there will be little or no economic growth for the next couple of decades.
Doesn’t the sharp rise in methane concentrations recorded from the northernmost stations in the last couple years clearly indicate that tundra melting and perhaps ocean clathrate release is in fact contributing significantly to a methane feedback that is now unstoppable?
To me, this means that we should all stop emitting any more ghg’s than absolutely necessary, in hopes that some unknown unknown negative feedback might save us in spite of ourselves. But maybe that’s just me?
Danny Bloom: Your polar cities are nonsense. We go extinct first. Your polar cities depend on the climate being linear. It isn’t. Your polar cities depend on civilization continuing in spite of a crash in population from 7 billion to 100,000 or maybe 20, but probably zero. Your polar cities depend on food crops happily growing on melted tundra. They won’t. Your polar cities depend on everything happening over a long stretch of time, like 700 to 1000 years. It won’t take 100 years and could take as little as 10 years.
Give up your polar cities. They just aren’t going to happen. The climate is too violent when perturbed. People are too violent when civilization fails.
Read: “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas; “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” by James Lovelock; “Under a Green Sky” by Peter D. Ward; “Collapse” by Jared Diamond and “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan.
You have only 2 options: Move to the planet Mars or Stop global warming now.
88 Wilmot McCutchen Says:
22 June 2009 at 12:37 PM
him #68 says:
“Our only hope is the immediate invention of some miracle creations capable of detoxifying the planet.”
That would be nuclear power, which was invented a long time ago and has evolved to become the safest and cheapest source of electricity. All of your old tired objections have been solved. Nuclear power is the only competitor for coal. The only thing required is a change of attitude.
If I print out [the HadCRUT3 graph] and lay a school ruler on it and with an HB pencil, project a line into the future, the line will go up, up, up. Can it be said I am “modeling”, albeit without a computer?
Sure. With your ruler, you are making a simple linear model of global surface temperature as a function of time. With another ruler you could measure the slope and write an equation for it. Its usefulness would be severely limited, though. You’d have to break the ruler to fit in the mid-20th century. And in a business-as-usual scenario you’d need to fit a curve over the 21st century, not a line. In fact, just a short while ago there was a discussion here of a garbage argument that may have resulted from treating IPCC projections to 2100 as if they were linear.
Is this an answer to those who say “Global warming? Just a (computer) model”?
I doubt it. It might reinforce their impression that modelling is nothing to do with the real world, and even give them the wrong idea that computer models of climate are just trying to fit lines or curves to observation data, when in fact they do nothing of the sort. Better to give people an inkling of what computer models are about. You could try “Learning from a simple model” on this site, which can also be done with a pencil and paper.
If you over-simplify, sooner or later people will spot where the simplification breaks down, and will happily believe the failure of your argument proves the failure of climate science. In fact, before you even try the “simple model” referred to above, make sure to consider Spencer Weart’s caution about “people who know just enough math to get into trouble” (first comment in that thread).
A favourite of RC is the DT. Says it all, explain the AGW problem in the context of other alleged scientific unknowns from none other than sciwntists themseles but in disciplines not related to any of AGW and spouting facts that confuse the public, even broadsheet readers!
Some well-buried good news. On p. 20, the Synthesis Report refers to new modelling showing that a 400ppm CO2-equivalents target “is feasible at moderate costs if the full suite of technologies is developed and employed”, with reference to a forthcoming article in The Energy Journal. That should make interesting reading. Sounds more optimistic on the costs of low stabilization than the Stern Report.
I am involved in training Australian landowners in methods of adaptation to climate change. The most strident objectors are those with the most to lose, grasping at any perceived contradiction as if it were life bouy.
I expect denial and indecision to collapse fairly rapidly once adaptation establishes a successful track record. I expect professional and institutional resistance will harden in reaction to fears of marginalisation. As a consequence, it will be difficult to obtain funding support in competition against programs with more imediate electoral appeal.
Many people are more apprehensive of imposed carbon costs than than climate change. This arises because the increased costs seem more imediate and certain than the spasmodic progress of climate change.
The struggle with global warming will be a long one with many disappointments and detractors. Maintaining hope will require a pragmatic attitude and a conscious choice to smell the roses along the way. After all it is a privelige to be in a position to make a difference, however small.
Re #142, Alastair, the USA consumes 1/4 of the worlds daily 85 Mbd consumption (20 Mbpd) which is a huge amount for a population of some 300 million. 70-80% of its oil is used for transport which is 14 to 16 Mbpd so yes they can easily start to reduce their consumption of the stuff by starting to like cars from European companies that can easily do 40 to 60+ MPG. However the culture of the USA is buried in oil, they discovered it first (modern era), used it in large volumes first and unfortunately for them but fortunately for evryone else used to a 1/4 of their reserves to win the 2nd WW and now it might be peaking which is going to hurt countries totally reliant on it.
Boon Pickens often talks about oil prices (his fortune was built on it to some degree) and he is a member of ASPO (Association for
Peak Oil) along with many other learned names in the oil game. Matthew Simmonds, Deffeyes etc all belong in this group and have spoken of peak oil occuring in 2005 or as the IEA/EIA state not for some time in the future (2020). So what does a country like the USA do to secure its future as oil fossil fuels are looking to peak within 20 years! Who knows, but one thing is for certain if we do start to run short in the coming decade or less we need to avoid the following:
CTL (Coal to Lqiuids)
Tar and Share Sands
Other heavy unconventional sources of oil
These will all be extremely high in CO2 emissions and hence not a good idea. SO what do we do? Well Boone Pickens wants natural gas to be used to transfer freight but its a massive job to do that. More wars aka Iraq, maybe Iran etc or new technologies in a short space of time that do not emit much if any carbon:
Biofuels from managed second generation forestry and high yield plants or/and even algae.
Electricity based cars, freight is a diffeent matter though are the best bets for the future of humans transport and a massive upgrade to public sector transport such as rail and trams etc.
Its all up in the air at the moment so if oil does peak noticeably and the price of oil rockets way before we have any significant alternative energy infrastructure in place (it will) then get ready for a strange future for the time being. Its odd aint it ?
Sorry to be OT, but re the upward trend in winter extent of Antarctic sea ice, is it not the case that the current Milankovic insolation matrix favours more intense south polar winters?
If so, then winter Antarctic sea ice expansion does not invalidate greenhouse induced warming, it just counteracts it at the moment.
[Response: Jim, please don’t confuse Milankovitch forcing with modern climate trends. The timescales are utterly different. But yes, you are right that recent changes in Antarctic sea ice do not in any way contradict anything else! Upward trends in Antarctic sea ice are readily understood in terms of atmospheric circulation changes, as shown in dozens of papers over the last decade, including a recent one by Turner et al. and my own.–eric]
Discerning observers are increasingly skeptical of gloom and doom predictions regarding climate change. Politicians will not spend vast amounts of money on prevention based on computer models. We can yell “there is scientific consensus” until blue in the face. The only motivator will be physical consequences of warming that affect the daily lives of everyday people right now. Because of this, for my money, adaptation is the most effective strategy.
“Because of this, for my money, adaptation is the most effective strategy.”
And if that’s not going to happen (I posit that adaption will not happen since people will assume “someone else” will get it in the shorts until too late) then the most effective strategy is to grow long legs and flotation sacs.
Uh, adaption *won’t* be effective. It’s not even “a strategy” it’s a “oh, well, might as well wait until I *have* to tidy up…”. In other words, procrastination.
A strategy is a course of action to achieve a goal. In this case the goal is to mitigate the affect of climate change on civilization. Humans are good at adapting to changing conditions. We are less good at predicting the future, hence the lack of political will regarding prevention.
Re another Jim @154: “for my money, adaptation is the most effective strategy.”
Effective for what?
How, exactly, will we “adapt” to less irrigation water as rainfall and monsoon patterns shift–as they already are, mountain glaciers shrink–as they already are, and winter snow pack is reduced–as it already is in some areas?
How will that portion of the global human population that is dependent on rice “adapt” to temperatures that prevent the successful pollination of rice?
How will that portion of the global human population that depends on the sea for its protein “adapt” to the collapse of the marine food chain due to ocean acidification on top of current overfishing of global fish stocks?
Mark #156 — I agree with you about the significance of procrastination and its causes.
Most people in America, at least, would not get motivated to make personal sacrifices even if they were convinced of the imminent danger of Miami and New Orleans (let alone Bangladesh) going underwater, or the European climate going Siberian. Someone else’s problem.
Also, the long time scales (end of the century) used by climate scientists in describing the disaster leads to procrastination. There’s plenty of time left, and anyway, when it happens, someone else will be miserable.
And another cause for doing nothing is the faith-based economics that trusts in some future technology to produce a miracle.
Has anyone had a go at Lindzen’s “Global Warming – Sensibilities and Science”? It hasn’t been blogged on much in the skeptiverse (Lubos Motl and A Watts posted it) but it seems to be getting some traction.
Here’s the power point version shown at the Heartland conference:
It’s also popped up in a forum I frequent – I confess my main interest is a response to a vexatious critic. I can’t do the maths. But it might make for a post as Lindzen was a star speaker at the event. Make sure to spare yourself the political gafflegab and scroll down to the equations and charts. (Is he on about his Iris theory?)
Emissions reduction as a strategy is one of many strategies. (And one of the more sketchy ones at that) Not participating in this one strategy does not equal doing nothing.
Changing an entire fossil fuel dependant planet into a non-fossil fuel dependant planet within the time needed is one of the more faith based strategies. Anythings possible but your chances are slim to none.
There’s nowhere to shunt the carbon to – so cap and trade won’t work. What is instead needed is feed-in tariffs for renewable energy generation – for example, put a $2 tax on every barrel of imported oil and use that to provide guarantees for investor in wind and solar. That’s the effective approach – and give a big bonus every time a utility replaces a coal plant with renewable generation capacity.
Right now you have the opposite situation – investors in fossil fuels are rewarded with long-term contracts and all kinds of government assistance, while renewables are definitely not supported.
Thus, under this proposed regime, we will be looking at a steady rise in atmospheric CO2 over the next decade, and beyond. The final conclusion is that fossil fuels must eventually be eliminated from the energy mix, and the sooner the better. That’s the only way to slow global warming while keeping human civilization intact, and politicians should just admit it.
The problem with the McKinsey chart was what I was trying to point out. The heading, “avoided deforestation” is not necessarily a very meaningful way to mitigate CO2. The first item in your linked search also points that out, though from a different point of view, by making the point that using lumber from forests is actually a good way to capture and store CO2. They should have also mentioned the importance of building such that the lumber lasts a long time.
My point was that the system of paying people to not cut down trees is not very meaningful, since it is difficult to define such a program in a way to keep it from being easily taken advantage of, as illustrated by my example for my trees that I have no intention of cutting down, regardless of “avoided deforestation” payments.
There is a real climate beneficial role for sustainable forest management such that harvested wood makes room for new, fast growing trees. This takes some real thought which goes well beyond simply calling for “avoided deforestation” and paying for it in the form of phony “offsets.”
“That’s what’s happening here when I say we have got to reduce our consumption and growth.”
And where we say “claptrap” is the last two words.
We don’t have to reduce our growth to reduce our consumption.
1920’s US produced 3600 calories of food for ever calorie of oil.
1970’s US 1:1.
Did you produce 3600 times as much food?
Agribusiness hasn’t changed hardly at all except to use more oil. But tests with Asiatic farms showed that refusing fertilisers did not reduce yields in properly managed (for the locale) farming methods.
In fact, it increased some yields.
And cost less.
And used less oil-based fertilisers and pesticides.
In the original post Stefan says:
“The new U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu participated over the full three days in the scientific discussions – how many politicians would have done that?”
It’s good to see this administration, and particularly the Energy Secretary taking a pro-active stance regarding the problem,rather than the adaptation position taken by some in the previous administration.
Sorry, Jim Bullis, you’ve got the forestry sequestration numbers backwards. Cutting down lots of trees and planting new ones is the industry’s spin. Don’t rely on the notion posted at the Economist by the ‘Kiwi’ guy that this can’t be accounted for. He’s the same one who who proclaims in the same paragraph that imminent cooling is expected.
PS to Jim, it’s not your or my intentions about your or my trees that matter for carbon sequestration; it’s whether the trees are committed beyond the brief human lifetime. As our laws are set up, you and I own the entire future of any forest that’s our property. That’s effectively an incredible long span of time. We have the choice to end its productivity forever, or to protect it for a few years during our brief ownership. That’s not enough choices for what’s needed.
Committing forest land to longterm protection — that’s a problem a lot of us are trying to figure out how to do effectively.
Most of the world is ignorant of GW.
Most of those who know about GW don’t care about GW.
Of the small number who do have the knowledge, and do care, only a small number can or will do anything significant.
People express frustration that humans mainly act when its too late, and then go on to say we need to act before its too late. That is faith right there.
Hmmm. One recent complaint about AGW is their “alarmism”. A survey (and the figures are all from my head) on the youth’s position on global warming had 58% of the young people responding that they were worried that the world they would grow up in would be unlivable due to the changes in climate resulting from AGW.
It only seems like people don’t believe if you go to denialist blogs and proAGW blogs with astroturfers.
Short answer: you’re wrong. Check selection bias in your evidence.
Re #92, thanks, Stefan. That cleared it up, although I’d say I somehow don’t see the point (beyond the sheer mental excecise). My understandig was, that climate models evolve and that therefore newer models are usually expected to be much “better” or more complete but at least finer resolved than their predecessors – I mean there have been numerous new findings regarding the physics and computers have jumped quite a bit, too, in these 10 years.
Are there no runs with current models starting in 1990? I’d have assumed that if you consider 16 years as an appropriate timespan for a meaningful comparison, that you’d let the current models run from at least that far back in the past for some sort of verification. Or was it just not within the scope of the Synthesis Report to touch on anything outside TAR and AR4?
(I don’t mean to make a point here – I simply don’t see the value of comparing the science from 10 years or more ago with current observations, when science seems to have progressed quite a lot in those years. After all, the idea behind the report can’t be to prove that you had it right in the 90s, can it?).
There are so many comments, I might have missed if anybody mentioned this: the 2 C upper limit is being more and more questioned by more and more countries – those that are low lying islands (AOSIS) and the extremely poor (LDC) – and most badly hit – countries. I think by now about 100 countries or more are supporting a different upper limit: 1.5 C or 350 ppm CO2 (also see http://www.350.org).
Right now we are already loosing the Arctic sea-ice, the glaciers are melting, sea-level is rising faster than anybody had imagined just last year…do you truly believe that we can warm for another 1 C and be safe? What probability of safety is acceptable for you?
There are quite a few climate scientists who do not consider that the 2 C limit is safe any more – and they include not only James Hansen.
I keep wondering why we don’t communicate more effectively: we already have too much CO2 in the atmosphere right now. If we truly want to avoid a catastrophe, we need to do anything in our power to reduce emissions as fast as possible; that includes clearer communication what we are up against, and a clear message what needs to be done: stop using fossil fuels as quickly as possible, making the safe future of our children a priority above all other considerations.
Re: Jim Bouldin, #174 Thanks for the pointer to my paper; I’m not so humble that I won’t second that suggestion, but those looking for a more thorough and quantified discussion of the topic of carbon in wood products and forests should look at a Wood Products and Carbon Storage: Can Increased Production Help Solve the Climate Crisis? by Ann Ingerson available (pdf) at http://wilderness.org/content/wood-products-and-carbon-storage
“That’s what’s happening here when I say we have got to reduce our consumption and growth.”
For many of us the concept of limits to growth seems akin to thinking about death: We either assiduously avoid the topic or we make up a fantasy about how it does not really happen. Unfortunately it seems very much the case that the physical world exists independently of our personal psychologies and meanwhile there’s no Bible that will magically make the inevitably sordid and grubby outcome of permanent growth go away. We can’t grow forever; we have to stop eventually so we may as well begin learning the economics of how that will work right now.
#170 Hank Roberts:
“As our laws are set up, you and I own the entire future of any forest that’s our property. That’s effectively an incredible long span of time. We have the choice to end its productivity forever, or to protect it for a few years during our brief ownership. That’s not enough choices for what’s needed.”
Very Nicely said and something that ought to be pointed out every time property changes hands or a decision arises about development or exploitation versus preservation. In individual cases we do see choices expanded to include preservation in exchange for some form of compensation; the Nature Conservancy for instance is practiced at arranging conservation agreements in exchange for permanent tax benefits. This ought to be formally promoted in our laws, soon.
And while we’re on the topic, legislation was introduced in the House last week to provide credits for land-use based carbon sequestration on private agricultural and forest lands in the United States, to complement the lack thereof in Waxman-Markey. See:
I have went over the powerpoint (the first link you provided) by Richard Lindzen. I am disappointed that such a bright guy at MIT is preparing these types of slides, which only re-affirms his motives of advocacy . Lindzen makes a number of incorrect and misleading claims. Slide #7 for instance shows that he has no understanding of the attribution process at all (or he does, but knows his audience doesn’t). Attribution of warming to CO2 is not a process-of-elimination procedure, nor is formal attribution about the lack of ability to simulate the time-evolution of 20th century warming only when forced with natural factors. Rather, formal attribution is concerned with the spatio-temporal responses to a set of forcings, and natural forcings fail to explain the observed spatio-temporal patterns even if their response is inflated (see Knutti 2008, “Why are climate models reproducing the observed global surface warming so well?”). Such fingerprinting work involves models or physical understanding of the climate and expected changes that occur from an enhanced greenhouse signal. As discussed in Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4, the conclusion of a dominant anthropogenic signal is robust to different models used, varying degrees of how internal variability is simulated, and even allowing for the possibility of underestimates influence from solar irradiance or other natural factors. Further, when fingerprints from AOGCM’s are used, averaging over an ensemble of model simulations helps separate the model’s response to forcing from its simulated internal variability.
Lindzen makes further misleading claims concerning the lack of warming seen over the last decade. He only uses one surface temperature product, and as discussed many times by RC and others, there is no expectation that warming flatlines do not occur when you consider a global temperature signal with noise superimposed on a long-term trend. On timescales of several years to a decade (even longer), you cannot make meaningful considerations about the attribution of warming or even in sensitivity estimates. In fact, as discussed recently by Easterling et al 2009, this behavior is not unusual and can even occur later in the 21st century.
In his later discussions about sensitivity, Lindzen is ignoring different and more recent data, which by now is older news (See Wong et al 2006 linked on my site, see response 163 by CM). The “skeptics” have strongly misrepresented this data and other papers, including the Chen et al 2002 paper in Science, and apparently have no desire to discuss the decades of sensitivity estimates and papers which do not appear to be compatible with a situation of very low sensitivity. It’s probably not worth arguing the point with them however, or trying to teach them something: they have rapidly become the next flat earth society or creationist movement, and their vast number of talking points are essentially going to be confined to the “heartland conference” and other blogs anyway, since they cannot get past the peer-review of authorities in the field.
Will this start a great domino-effect of similar actions to mobilize a worldwide popular climate movement?
Comment by Lennart van der Linde — 23 Jun 2009 @ 5:01 PM
Maiken Winter (176) — I opine that nothing above 300 ppm CO2e is safe in the long term.
Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Jun 2009 @ 5:38 PM
Re #51 where Nigel Wiiliams asks:
Is the Prime Minister of India teaching religious tolerance and offering room again to all those poor water-logged souls in Bangladesh who were previously driven there by the Great Partition? Perhaps they can share in the drought in India as the glaciers feeding the great rivers of Asia dry up and the rice fields die.
Comment by Alastair McDonald — 23 Jun 2009 @ 5:39 PM
Chris Colose (184) — Yes, I agree. Call them the modern Flat Earth Society.
Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Jun 2009 @ 5:43 PM
Just to remind — alkaline earth silicate pulverization and dispersal, preferably over land, can take CO2 out of the atmosphere quickly (in climatic terms) and at moderate energy cost (on the order of an eighth of the high-grade energy that was earlier yielded by the coal-fired heat engine that put the CO2 up).
Michael says “Changing an entire fossil fuel dependant planet into a non-fossil fuel dependant planet within the time needed is one of the more faith based strategies.”
Uh, no. It is a strategy that takes into account necessity. Even if climate change were not an issue, the finitude of fossil fuels means that we will soon have to develop alternatives. Climate considerations place further restrictions, but they merely emphasize the fact that our current path is unsustainable.
“Jim Hansen was arrested today for civil disobedience”
It’s high time they decriminalized climate science.
More seriously, coal is bad news, and mining it using this environmentally damaging method is doubly bad. He’s standing up for principles he strongly believes in. The question,to paraphrase Thoreau, is not why he’s in the slammer, but why are some of us not in it?
Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels …
I don’t understand this claim. The TOPEX sea level satellite information at http://sealevel.colorado.edu/current/sl_ib_global.txt tells a very different story. Five years ago the 5-year trailing trend of sea level rise stood at about .4 metres/century. Since then, it has steadily decreased, and is currently at about 0.22 metres/century. This is the lowest it has been over the entire satellite record (1993-2008)
What sea level information are you looking at? Other sources agree with the Colorado information. For example, Anne Cazenave says in her most recent paper (Sea level budget over 2003–2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry,
satellite altimetry and Argo, A. Cazenave et al., http://etienne.berthier.free.fr/download/Cazenave_et_al_GPC_2009.pdf) that
This can be summarized as follows: since 2003, sea level has continued to rise but with a rate (of 2.5 +/− 0.4 mm/yr) somewhat reduced compared to the 1993–2003 decade (3.1 +/ − 0.4 mm/yr).
All the data that I can find shows that the sea level rise is slowing, not increasing.
What observations are being used that show that sea level rise is “progressing faster than expected”?
Many thanks for your information on the data sources,
[Response: You are talking about short-term variability of sea level over a few years, I’m talking about climate trends. I was referring to the fact that the observed rise (in the satellite altimeter data from Anny Cazenave that you refer to) over the full record (1993-2008) is 3.4 mm/year, which is about 80% faster than that projected in the IPCC TAR for this period (1.9 mm/year best estimate). Note that the AR4 models show almost the same as the TAR models in this respect. This is shown in detail in our Science paper of 2007, the results of which are shown and updated in the Copenhagen Synthesis Report. You could have looked it all up in the report. -stefan]
Comment by Willis Eschenbach — 23 Jun 2009 @ 8:56 PM
Mark, asserting that agribusiness hasn’t changed much from 1920s to 1970s is just silly.
More seriously, coal is bad news, and mining it using this environmentally damaging method is doubly bad.
This would be something to go to jail for, even if CO2-forced AGW weren’t on the table, and I suspect Hansen’s there for that reason.
It’s my first major disappointed with the Obama administration, though I suspect they have tricks up their sleeves for the future (I do hope this isn’t forlorn naivite on my part, but on the other hand, I’ve never seen any reason to believe that Obama is a conservationist, in the traditional sense.
Good question, Lawrence. I strongly believe scientists need to take a clear stand, now. Whoever is afraid of losing credibility at this moment seems to not have yet truly understood the urgency to act.
Sometimes I have the feeling that scientists feel that, because they know, they are already active enough. Knowledge is great, but it gives us the responsibility to act. We all should take Jim’s action as a call to all of us to be not content of just sitting at the computer and lamenting, to not just give fancy presentations at important meetings, but to get out there into the streets and into the politicians opffices and act.
I am off to Augsburg, Germany, right now, talking to senior city officials about 350. What are YOU doing today to help?
146 Barton Paul Levenson: is completely wrong on nuclear. See: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com and http://www.ecolo.org
nuclear costs less, is factory built, and causes no environmental problem. Nuclear fuel is recyclable. 4th Generation reactors have no long term “waste” because they recycle internally.
Nuclear is 30% cheaper than its nearest competitor, which is coal. Nuclear would be even cheaper if its safety level were reduced to the level of other sources.
If you are agains nuclear, you are avocating coal. No other source can compete.
“Our only hope is the immediate invention of some miracle creations capable of detoxifying the planet.”
That would be nuclear power, which was invented a long time ago and has evolved to become the safest and cheapest source of electricity. All of your old tired objections have been solved. Nuclear power is the only competitor for coal. The only thing required is a change of attitude.
Nuclear power is safer than a box of tissues. There are no wastes. Nuclear bombs don’t really work. Nuclear power is too cheap to meter. Using it makes you more virile (if male)/feminine (if female) and will result in more sex and better sex. It is not only 100% environmentally harmless; it actually cleans the environment and makes the air sparkle. Nuclear power makes little children laugh with delight. Opposing it makes the baby Jesus cry.
Hi, I noticed that there was a statement in #22 about people being able to think in terms of systems. This is a very advanced way of thinking that most people are incapable of, according to the Wilber model of consciousness. Thus the only way forward is for governments to be convinced of the importance so that they can mandate action. This also assumes that the individuals in government are capable of this level of thinking of course. A tall order but better than the general population.
The astute will immediately infer that I’m talking about Tyndall, and they’d be right, of course.
I’m particularly interested in feedback from the knowledgeable, as Tyndall biography, like the whole subject area of climate science, has a good deal of information readily available, but it is not all mutually consistent.
Also like the science, certain sources I’d love to consult have economic or availability access issues.
(Captcha is playing Red Queen today: “behead all.”)
So fact checks would be very welcome!
Reading on the calibration methods for satellite altimeters from the Univeristy of Colorado at Boulder it states that the calibration method cannot detect a bias it can only detect a change in bias. This would lead me to believe that it is the change from the trend that is the important feature at this point as opposed to the trend itself. Am I totally off base? I am just trying to understand the system. thanks
“The final conclusion is that fossil fuels must eventually be eliminated from the energy mix, and the sooner the better. That’s the only way to slow global warming while keeping human civilization intact, and politicians should just admit it.”
Very well put. Doesn’t this mean that we have to move quickly to a moratorium on fossil fuel prospecting and extraction–coal mining as well as oil natural gas “production, roughly in that order (with tar sands up there with coal). Is anyone of note other than George Monbiot suggesting this obvious necessity?
Re #207, Natural gas is not that Co2 intensive relative to oil and coal. I doubt human will not use that, oil will phase itself out more than likely but it is coal that must be stopped hence Hansen getting arrested I am presuming, trains of death as he puts it.
Stefan, thanks for the help with the one minute Google search in finding the detailed McKinsey report on abatement costs. I had spent a lot of time trying to track that report down through the McKinsey site and by following a lot of links by others. There seem to be several summary versions floating around that fail to provide the details. But what can I say? Oops.
Edward Greisch #139 and #198 — I see your point about nuclear being the only alternative to coal. For baseload power, at least, which is what the world will increasingly require to keep the lights on.
As most people know by now, wind and solar are unreliable for baseload power because they are intermittent and have no storage. Biofuels are inadequate, and mainly a solution to energy dependency, not CO2 emissions. Natural gas is expensive and we may be running out soon, so it’s best conserved for use as vehicle fuel. So what does that leave for baseload power but coal and nuclear (and MAYBE concentrating solar)?
Nuclear appears to be a very attractive option, but I don’t know enough to have a settled opinion on it. I’m glad to hear that nuclear power is now safe and cheap and that only unreasonable prejudice (I guess based on Chernobyl and Three Mile Island) stands in the way of its wide deployment in time (20 years) to substitute for coal and save the planet. I’d be grateful if you would direct me to some reference which presents the best case for nuclear (especially 4th generation and thorium reactors).
Comment by Wilmot McCutchen — 24 Jun 2009 @ 12:38 PM
Its not good science for this report to use different baselines for different metrics and odd that they use IPCC 1990. It does allow the “Upper end” headline to be used but it also allows a lot of sniping on data integrity to what is otherwise a thoughtful report on what needs to be done… A shame in my view
Comment by colin Aldridge — 24 Jun 2009 @ 12:40 PM
Tesla Motors will receive $465 million —- The all-electric sedan consumes no gasoline and runs entirely on electricity from any conventional 120V or 220V outlet. It will get the equivalent of more than 250 miles per gallon, far exceeding the 32.7 mpg minimum efficiency required for large sedans.
Jim Bullis #214 — Re Tesla Motors: it’s great to see the US auto industry still has a pulse. Plug-in cars may be a solution to the energy dependency problem, but as for the CO2 problem we need to remember that the batteries they run on are charged by coal power.
It makes me cry to think that all those batteries (probably the motors and most of the semiconductors as well) will be made somewhere else, adding to “our” trade deficit. All the same, if Tesla pulls this off it’ll be an object lesson.
I also think there will be a lot of quibbling about exactly what the mileage equivalent actually is, though it’s surely an improvement.
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (24 June 2009 at 12:50 PM):
“What do folks here think about this?”
I’m of two minds. On the one hand, if the money has to be spent, I’d rather see it go to fairly innovative new companies than flushed down the Detroit rathole.
On the other hand, two words make me unhappy: “large sedan”. That’s been the problem all along, this navel-gazing belief that Americans only want big cars. They’d get better results (that is, more CO2 reductions sooner) by building a version of the Roadster that’d weigh half as much as their sedan, use half the batteries, and sell for half the price.
Nuclear power is by far the most expensive and least effective way to reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation. Renewables and efficiency can do the job faster, better and cheaper and with none of the very real, very serious dangers and harms of nuclear power.
Concentrating solar thermal power plants with thermal storage can provide baseload power. Numerous other storage technologies already exist including batteries, fuel cells, flywheels, compressed air and pumped hydro. Nor is storage essential to providing baseload power from renewables. Multiple studies have shown that a diversified, regional portfolio of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass can provide 24×7 power that is at least as reliable as coal or nuclear.
The claim that the only choices are coal or nuclear is, to be blunt, a lie.
“PROVE that a per-capita CO2 load being less than the US means a worse lifestyle.”
Actually I did not propose that hypothesis so I’ll give your invitation a pass. I’m sure we could find something to actually disagree about if we try. How about if I hypothesize that Earth can support a boundless number of humans thereby allowing allowing infinitely large compound growth of capital thanks to an endlessly growing market?
From the original post: “From a natural science perspective, nothing stops us from limiting warming to 2ºC.”
Is this really the case, given that methane from melting tundra is on the rise and the Arctic ice cap is set to totally collapse any year now? These are just two of the huge positive feedbacks that are now starting to drive gw independent of and on top of what humans are directly contributing. Is there some reason to think such feedbacks will stop by themselves when or if we reduce our ghg emissions?
For the record, I do not see these as reasons for inaction. I work hard to minimize my personal footprint and to stop new coal plants…
But I like to have as clear an idea of our true situation as I can get, no matter how dire.
Re #209 “, Natural gas is not that Co2 intensive relative to oil and coal.”
According to the below listed link,natural gas emits 117,000 pounds of CO2 per Billion BTU of energy input,Oil-164.000 pounds and coal-208,000 pounds. NOX emissions are significantly lower as well.If the CO2 numbers are true,coal emits almost 1.8(208/117) times as much CO2 as natural gas.
thanks Alastair. Just to make sure I understand it is the initial data point that has the bias and each data point after that would have the same bias thus the trend would be accurate. Also, what is HTH?
the argument can go ‘we (scientists) know that potentially dangerous global warming is just around the corner, but by continuing to do endless research into the magnitude, side effects, feedbacks etc. etc. (and so further our careers) we are actually just distracting the politicians/public from the key message which is that something needs to be done now to drastically cut emissions. Consequently we should all quit until the world gets it’s act in order and starts taking things seriously, which they clearly aren’t at the moment’.
RE#222, Will: This is a very curious phrase that the authors use, it is true:
“Cause of the confusion was apparently that the report finds that it is inevitable by now that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will overshoot the future stabilization level that would keep us below 2ºC warming. But this overshooting of greenhouse gas concentrations need not lead temperatures to overshoot the 2ºC mark, provided it is only temporary.” (italics added)
This is where the carbon cycle comes in, and by ‘carbon cycle’ we really mean an understanding of the rates that carbon is transferred to and from the atmosphere, to and from the oceans, to and from the soil pool, to and from sediments, and to and from biomass.
There’s no reason to assume that changes in atmospheric CO2 will be temporary, as all predictions point towards a decreasing capacity of many carbon cycle components when it comes to CO2 uptake. Technological efforts to draw down CO2 would likely take several centuries to have any impact (it took a century to put it all up there). There is also the high likelihood of permafrost methane pulse to take into account, plus loss of standing biomass to deforestation, drought, and insect infestations (Canadian pine beetle, for example). There are many such effects, for example:
Sinking feeling: Hot year damages carbon uptake by plants
PARIS, Sept 17 (AFP) Sep 17, 2008
Plant and soil can take up to two years to recover from an exceptionally hot year, a finding that has implications for the combat against global warming, according to research published on Wednesday.
The general theme put forth by U.S. government officials seems to be that we’re just going to have to live with it:
“The fact is, we’re not going to level out at 450 ppm,” [Chu] says. “We’re going to go over 450 ppm. So what will we do? I’m not in favor of deploying geoengineering. But thinking about it is OK.”
There are no viable geoengineering strategies that don’t take centuries to implement – it took a century to raise the CO2 level to what it is now, didn’t it? Similarly, claims that we can burn coal and bury the emissions are nonsense.
The real solution can be seen in the recent Time article:
“Asia Challenges the U.S. for Green Tech Supremacy, June 24 2009”
That article is well worth reading, but it also shows the clear reluctance of the U.S. government to even think about replacing coal with renewable energy. It does however firmly put to rest the notion that Asian economies are not moving towards renewables – but is the same true in the U.S.?
U.S. President Barack Obama appears to recognize the tectonic shift. Part of the $787 billion stimulus spending in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is meant for green initiatives: $2 billion to support lithium-ion batteries and hybrid electric systems, $800 million for a biomass program, $400 million to add electric technologies to vehicles, another $400 million for geothermal technologies. But with public debt now equal to 82% of GDP and the budget deficit forecast to hit $1.4 trillion next year, the U.S. is in no position to spend more.
That’s not really true – you could strip away the billions given to ludicrous coal projects, and implement a feed-in tariff to finance renewable expansion, as most nations around the world are doing. Notice also the lack of subsidies and initiatives for solar and wind, which really could replace coal and thus possibly limit CO2 levels to under 450 ppm – but only if a crash program was implemented on a massive scale.
If we continue in this course, we’ll end up with an even more severe economic crash and trade deficit – because believe me, no one is going to be buying our “clean coal technology” – instead, they’ll buy electric cars and solar panels manufactured in China.
“According to the below listed link,natural gas emits 117,000 pounds of CO2 per Billion BTU of energy input,Oil-164.000 pounds and coal-208,000 pounds. NOX emissions are significantly lower as well.If the CO2 numbers are true,coal emits almost 1.8(208/117) times as much CO2 as natural gas.”
Good stat, and of course coal is the really bad guy here.
But it should be kept in mind that whenever any of that natural gas escapes unburned, it acts as a ghg more than 70 times more powerful than CO2 over the average time that CH4 persists in the atmosphere. Since it is difficult to quantify how much gas escapes this way, it would be difficult to estimate how much closer this brings it to oil and coal in total global warming effect. But just because it can’t be easily measured doesn’t mean the effect is zero.
Once again… we can buy some time if we get Cheap Access To Space, build mirrors and power stations out there and let the earth become, basically, a garden home for the species. That is probably a minimum requirement in any case, if we are going to survive for another 100,000 years as a species.
The economics of growth is driven by the debt-based fractional-reserve fiat currency we use. This is purely a construct of the bankers for the bankers. It actually ensures that we MUST grow at a certain percentage rate year after year forever. It needs to end.
The costs of the social and economic upheaval required ensure that only the first suggestion is likely to be possible in the near term.
Re#228. “Since it is difficult to quantify how much gas escapes this way, it would be difficult to estimate how much closer this brings it to oil and coal in total global warming effect.”
The same link that I cited from NaturalGas.org claims the following wrt methane emissions from the use of natural gas:
“One issue that has arisen with respect to natural gas and the greenhouse effect is the fact that methane, the principle component of natural gas, is itself a very potent greenhouse gas. In fact, methane has an ability to trap heat almost 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. According to the Energy Information Administration, although methane emissions account for only 1.1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, they account for 8.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions based on global warming potential. Sources of methane emissions in the U.S. include the waste management and operations industry, the agricultural industry, as well as leaks and emissions from the oil and gas industry itself. A major study performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Gas Research Institute (GRI) in 1997 sought to discover whether the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from increased natural gas use would be offset by a possible increased level of methane emissions. The study concluded that the reduction in emissions from increased natural gas use strongly outweighs the detrimental effects of increased methane emissions. Thus the increased use of natural gas in the place of other, dirtier fossil fuels can serve to lessen the emission of greenhouse gases in the United States.” http://www.naturalgas.org/environment/naturalgas.asp
The study they refer to maybe dated, but at the time they concluded that natural gas was a net positive as far as emission of greenhouse gases are concerned.
“Nuclear power is by far the most expensive and least effective way to reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation.”
Expensive? Humm… Electricity prices in (mostly nuclear) France: http://particuliers.edf.fr/rubrique112.html
(prices varying by time & day of use, at current exchange low hours are at $0.065/KWh, normal hours at $0.133/KWh). Compare to my flat residential rate here (northern Nevada, sourced mostly from mixed gas/coal/geothermal and imported hydroelectric) $0.135/KWh.
236+ I don’t speak French so this is sleuthing… It looks like most days (300) are blue, which is what James reported. The expensive days are days of high demand. Nukes cost essentially the same whether run flat-out or left off the grid, so that makes sense. Anybody know the subsidy-rate of French electricity? French nuclear is cookie-cutter nukes, so it is the cheapest we can rationally hope for. My first guess is that the cost of nukes is double other sources NOT counting liability and waste.
RichardC Says: 24 June 2009 at 8:1 PM … selective … berm …
Where did you find this completely different answer, RichardC, and what is it? Do they claim more carbon capture with that method than either of the others? Less? Something in between?
238 Hank… It’s the technique I use for my land on Vancouver Island. Cut down the mature trees and sell them to log home builders, then take the resulting slash and mound it up and cover with some dirt. Makes nice berms which sequester carbon. I don’t know of any other folks using this particular technique, but it seems to work. The idea is to keep the buried slash above the water table so it doesn’t rot and produce methane.
“Nuclear power is by far the most expensive and least effective way to reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation.”
Expensive? Humm… Electricity prices in (mostly nuclear) France: http://particuliers.edf.fr/rubrique112.html
(prices varying by time & day of use, at current exchange low hours are at $0.065/KWh, normal hours at $0.133/KWh). Compare to my flat residential rate here (northern Nevada, sourced mostly from mixed gas/coal/geothermal and imported hydroelectric) $0.135/KWh.
If we have more electric power WE could have more electric cars.
A case of mistaken identity, apparently? Can you cite a quote of any Doug Bostrom (particularly the Me Doug Bostrom) claiming that reducing C02 emissions will result in a decline in US living standards? I can’t find such a reference, I myself never said it and I certainly don’t agree with such an idea.
What I do believe is that an unbounded increase in the number of U.S. residents will cause an inevitable decrease in U.S living standards, with the same limitation applying to the overall human population of the planet. I also think that because human history is so short and is concentrated largely during a period of relatively low population, we’ve accidentally modeled our economics on a perpetual growth model without due consideration of scaling outcomes.
Or, don’t bother replying; what you or I think is not really important or significant in the grand scheme of things and the topic of growth while connected to climate change is not really centrally germane here, after all.
It’s the technique I use for my land on Vancouver Island. Cut down the mature trees and sell them to log home builders, then take the resulting slash and mound it up and cover with some dirt. Makes nice berms which sequester carbon. I don’t know of any other folks using this particular technique, but it seems to work. The idea is to keep the buried slash above the water table so it doesn’t rot and produce methane.
I’m starting to understand how RichardC uses terms like “biodiversity” and “pristine” …
Zap, you got me, I completely missed that. Exaggeration is standard in the tech sector; 50% hyperbolic adulteration of claims seems tacitly permitted but 100% rose-tinting is typically not considered cricket. I wonder where on the continuum from sober realism to wild-eyed optimism 250MPG falls? Perhaps if the car is driven downhill, in a vacuum, with the radio turned down?
“Nukes cost essentially the same whether run flat-out or left off the grid, so that makes sense.”
Not the case. Nuclear power plants have an optimal baseline performance that maximizes fuel conversion, so you get the maximum amount of power out per fuel rod. Ramping them up and down is bad for the fuel rods.
Unlike wind and solar, nuclear also requires massive amounts of cooling water, more than an equivalently sized coal plant – but they don’t produce CO2 emissions:
“Drought could shut down nuclear power plants, Jan 23 2008
Southeast water shortage a factor in huge cooling requirements”
Another interesting thing is that the developing El Nino has not brought much relief to the Southeast – Florida has also been breaking temperature records lately, sometimes by as much as 4 degrees (F) – but May also produced record rainfall across South Florida.
Note to Jim Bullis: consider that a new Tesla EV has an optimal range of 250 – 300 miles on one single charge, and the electric motor operates at 85-95% efficiency.
For the Tesla, “A fully charged ESS stores approximately 53 kWh of electrical energy at a nominal 375 volts and weighs 992 lb (450 kg).”
53 kWh is the same as 1.91 X 10^8 joules, and that’s the fully charged battery.
One gallon of gasoline is the same as 1.3 X 10^8 joules, so if your gasoline engine was anywhere near as efficient as an electrical motor, you would get roughly 160 mpg in a similar size car.
However, gasoline engines are lucky to hit 20% efficiency in energy conversion – most of the energy is just wasted. You can see, however, that the combination of an electrical motor and a gasoline engine can easily hit 100+ mpg – but it still is not as efficient as a purely electrical system. However, since hydrocarbon fuel has much greater energy density, the best approach might be to use a small biofuel-IC engine to help charge the battery, for longer trips.
That, by the way, is another example of how economic utility is not the same thing as physical energy – the electrical vehicle provides the same utility as a gasoline vehicle, but at much lower energy consumption.
“Prices don’t necessarily reflect the cost of production in France’s heavily subsidized nuclear power industry.”
Perhaps not, but when considering the cost of a technology, the price actually charged to consumers is surely something worth looking at, isn’t it?
Now French electricity may be subsidized, but I’d expect that many other EU countries have similar subsidies. I haven’t managed to find a nice table of residential electric prices for those countries (as I’ve mentioned before, Google is not MY friend :-(), but FWIW here’s a news article comparing prices in different countries: http://www.finfacts.ie/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10006575.shtml
If nuclear-heavy France is among the cheapest, and lots-of-wind Denmark among the most expensive… Well, I’d say that ought to be cause for some thought.
Pumping cO2 into the clathrates pushes out the methane which I presume when burned produces Co2. Still it might be instead of coal. Fossil fuel companies really do not like renewables apart from the obvious publicity stunt now do they ?
I found this in BioEd Online 19 Jan 06 and was wondering if it was an accurate description:
Sea levels are closely monitored by tide gauges all around the world. But pinning down average sea-level change is hard, because there are natural fluctuations in sea level that vary from place to place.
The issue is also complicated by subsidence or elevation of land masses. “Teasing out sea level at any scale is a daunting challenge,” says Miller. Most studies using tide-gauge data have failed to spot any acceleration, leading to suggestions that the models needed to be re-evaluated.
Recent satellite measurements of sea level, which are more accurate and less variable than tide gauges, have suggested a relatively high rate of rise over the past decade. But comparing this rate of sea-level rise to rates determined by tide gauges in the earlier part of the century is problematic: researchers weren’t sure that the difference in rates wasn’t down to the difference in measurement methods.
Church and White decided to use both datasets to get the best result. They used satellite measurements to distinguish random ‘noise’ in recent tidal data from more systematic site-to-site variations. They could then use these results to clean up older tidal data.
“This is shown in detail in our Science paper of 2007, the results of which are shown and updated in the Copenhagen Synthesis Report. You could have looked it all up in the report. -stefan]”
Did you change the filter length from M=11 to M=14 in the temperature graph (Figure 3)?
[Response: Almost correct: we chose M=15. In hindsight, the averaging period of 11 years that we used in the 2007 Science paper was too short to determine a robust climate trend. The 2-sigma error of an 11-year trend is about +/- 0.2 ºC, i.e. as large as the trend itself. Therefore, an 11-year trend is still strongly affected by interannual variability (i.e. weather). You can tell from the fact that adding just one cool year – 2008 – significantly changes the trend line, even though 2008 is entirely within the normal range of natural variability around the trend line and thus should not affect any statistically robust trend estimate. -stefan]
Do solar panels work with snow on them? I know they’ll work great in the desert but isn’t transmission loss from Arizona to New York city a bit of a problem? Also, I have not seen a lot of geothermal energy tapped around Chicagoland, how does that get to the midwest from Yellowstone or wherever it is sourced?
The human population level is unrelated to environmental degradation? A remarkable assertion.
A thought experiment: if the world were supporting 1 billion persons right now, would our climate problem be so urgent? Would natural sequestration of CO2 be more or less effective in that situation? Would we be burning more or fewer hydrocarbons? Would we have more or less time to abandon combustion as the axle of our existence?
Or, if you can’t fathom that, how about imagining you’re on a submarine that has got itself stuck to the bottom and offers a certain fixed amount of resources, particularly lithium hydroxide and oxygen. Would you suffocate sooner with a full crew or a partial crew?
This is really pretty simple. Once we reach a population level sufficient to produce a few Newtons and Einsteins, our requirement for outliers with mental faculties and the cultural matrix necessary to improve our condition is satisfied. Further population increase will not improve living standards but instead will have the opposite effect.
Conversely, to me you are (probably inadvertently) conveying the impression that you believe the human population level is unrelated to the environmental condition of the planet.
If I were to leap off the same cliff of interpretation you disappeared over a few posts ago, I could probably even speculate that you think –more– people are needed to improve the human condition, at which point I’d have everything I needed to (wrongly) decide you are Catholic and are secretly promoting souls for heaven, just as you seem to believe I’m secretly promoting a lifestyle rollback. But that would be wrong, because you didn’t say that and I don’t have the evidence to support such a claim.
Finally, can you show me where I said that reducing C02 levels will reduce our living standard? That is the basis of your irritation, wrong as it happens yet apparently a notion you’re unable to abandon. Any further discussion with you is pointless until you’ve fixed that problem.
thanks Alastair. Just to make sure I understand it is the initial data point that has the bias and each data point after that would have the same bias thus the trend would be accurate. Also, what is HTH?
I answered this earlier but it did not appear, so I try again with a different answer.
I think that the initial data point is called a bias because it does not tell you an absolute height. As you say, the following points are relative to that and so give the trend.
RichardC, assuming your big old trees were used for log homes, do you know how much waste was produced? I looked at the numbers for likely comparable timberland just south (Olympic Peninsula) and the answer isn’t ‘completely different’ at all. It still takes at least decades to make up the loss. If you are selling to the best possible log home company they still produce a lot of sawdust and bark. In the Northwest there’s still the same problem Jim Bouldin’s work is addressing — once you break open the canopy you get a lot of sunlight in (at least for 3-4 summer months!) and understory growth, so you need to be doing fire management.
As dhog says, when you define the terms uniquely to your own personal experience, of course your answers are completely different than the research papers. But the comparison isn’t helpful until you do the numbers, and it will confuse people if you don’t make explicit that’s how you’re doing it.
Look again at Jim Bouldin’s 2008 AGU paper at his website, and look up between your trees, and look around for fire risk. That’s his point, as it applies to timber-cutting. Old trees, close to continuous canopy, open space between the trees, much less fire loss.
Such sites, like the one he shows a picture of, are rare.
That’s how I’m managing 50 acres of forest, over a couple of different sites, working it back toward mostly closed canopy, with shaded firebreaks. Can’t take money out of it — that loses the shade long before it’s restored.
RichardC, re 235, 240:
There are certainly better, and worse, ways to cut trees wrt carbon storage, and selective is far better than clear cutting AOTBE. Burying the slash will only slow down, not stop, decomposition, and will be partially offset by increased decomp in the high C soil you are disturbing to do so. Still, I appreciate your efforts to be conscientious.
Re Eric’s in-line response @153: “please don’t confuse Milankovitch forcing with modern climate trends. The timescales are utterly different”
Eric, thanks for the reply. I was not confusing them, or at least I did not intend that meaning. I’m aware of the long time periods of the three Milankovic Cycles, and thus that they of course can not cause short term warming or cooling trends.
What I was getting at is that if the current Milankovic insolation matrix (particularly precession + orbital aphelion) produces slightly milder northern hemisphere summers (very slightly since orbital eccentricity is near minimum), then it must also produce slightly stronger southern hemisphere winters (again, very slightly).
If so, then long-term negative Milankovic forcing would be yet another factor in why southern hemisphere warming lags northern, no?
(In addition to far more ocean & less land mass in the southern, that the geographic position of the Antarctic land mass allows for strong circumpolar ocean currents and air circulation, the altitude, mass and thermal inertia of the ice cap, the ozone hole, etc.)
I just want to double-check that this hypothesis is correct before I repeat it. If even a slight Milankovic insolation forcing is part of the mix, I would think it should be openly included in discussions to counter the “yeah, but Antarctic sea ice is growing” meme.
re 255, that would be because the models say that Southern Polar Ice (you know, those nasty, unscientific, unproven and definitely always wrong computer models) will not reduce until later and that the southern pole may even see more ice.
One reason being that the North Pole is ice surrounded by land and the South Pole is land surrounded by water.
This means, in a very simple (and I really do think I need to be as simple as possible with you) way that the only way to get warmth to the South Pole is to blow it there. The North Pole can be warmed by warmer air masses OR by warm water streams. NP ice can also break up and present a bigger surface to melt from to the environment, which is rather limited when the ice is sitting on solid rock…
244 dhogaza said, “I’m starting to understand how RichardC uses terms like “biodiversity” and “pristine”
And I’m starting to see how you treat people. A lot less kindly than grouse. A five acre suburban lot is never going to be pristine, so [self-edit]
246 Ike said, “Nuclear power plants have an optimal baseline performance that maximizes fuel conversion, so you get the maximum amount of power out per fuel rod. Ramping them up and down is bad for the fuel rods.”
So you’re saying that it is more profitable to give away excess power for free? If so, I’m surprised nukes don’t come with a power-consuming device to bleed off excess power.
248 James said, “If nuclear-heavy France is among the cheapest, and lots-of-wind Denmark among the most expensive… Well, I’d say that ought to be cause for some thought.”
Note that Denmark taxes the bejesus out of electricity – a 58% levy. From your link:
“The share of taxation in household electricity prices varied greatly between Member States, ranging from around 5% in Malta, the United Kingdom and Portugal to more than 40% in Denmark (58%) and the Netherlands (42%).”
256 Hank, 50 acres, eh? That’s a lot. I have 5. Logs bring top dollar when used for log homes and mine were the right size, so yes, I’m certain that’s how they were used. They turn the bark into mulch to be sold, and the sawdust into pellets to be burned for fuel. There isn’t much waste. The fire risk has been eliminated because I had a guy come in and clear out all the slash and use it to build berms, which are covered with a thin layer of soil. On some I planted clover and others I planted rye. I like the clover ones better. This technique might not be a good idea down south because of termites, which release methane. http://www.iitap.iastate.edu/gcp/studentpapers/1996/atmoschem/brockberg.html
257 Jim, thanks. It’s difficult to know what works best until after the fact, eh? In my area on Vancouver Island, things don’t rot very fast. It rarely rains in the summer, and the berms ensure great runoff. There’s still a lot of air in the compacted slash and it’s all above true ground level, so I believe it will stay pretty durn dry inside the berms. My guess is that it will take several centuries for the slash to decompose. Of course, that’s impossible to prove.
First, even with your system of calculating, 250 mpg is an outrageous claim.
But your statement, ” One gallon of gasoline is the same as 1.3 X 10^8 joules – – ” is absolutely not true. Logically, this is like saying, “A tiger is the same as a rattlesnake,” because either can cause death in a human being. Yes, a gallon of gasoline can produce 1.3 X 10^8 joules of heat, but there is no way it can produce 1.3 X 10^8 joules of electric energy, not even close. The idea of equivalence is only a trick of the units used to measure energy. Yes, 1.3 X 10^8 joules of electric energy will absolutely produce 1.3 X 10^8 joules of heat, but the equal sign only works in that direction.
A clue that motors and engines can not be directly compared is that one is a ‘motor’ and one is an ‘engine.’
You also can observe that natural gas is still sold in BTU units while electricity is sold in kWhr units. The ‘BTU’ units could easily be done away with, except it is useful to keep this old system to keep reminding us of the difference.
The only possible statement of equivalence is one that specifies the path of heat conversion. For electric motors, the path from heat to mechanical energy includes a heat engine; the conversion heat engine just does not happen to be carried along in the vehicle.
We are in the habit of thinking that central power plants are somehow very efficient. They are not. While they are better than conventional car engines, some are better and some are worse than diesel engines in vehicles. The Toyota Prius engine is more efficient (38%) than most central power plant engines, though not as good as the very expensive combined cycle natural gas systems.
Re. 246. The high volume of water required for nuclear power is because nuclear power steam is lower temperature than that of a coal- or oil-fired thermal station. This can be corrected in one of two ways: 1. used closed circuit cooling which reduces water intake to about 5% or less of open intake and discharge; and/or 2. advanced GEN4 nuclear technologies which have much higher inlet temperatures and thus much higher thermal efficiency. Thus the apparent high volume of water intake is only a characteristic of current plant configuration and not necessarily integral to nuclear power as a whole.
RichardC: Great to hear about what you’re doing–far superior practices than is typical in many places. You’re probably right about decomp rates in the summer if it’s truly very dry, but the thin soil cover (= high oxygenation) will get you good rates in the shoulders (spring, fall, assuming rain). There will be published rates in the literature but the first order rates will be much quicker than centuries. An interesting comparison would be shaded vs unshaded berms (tradeoff: warmer but dryer vs cooler but moister), which you could monitor crudely yourself.
259 Jim said, “will be partially offset by increased decomp in the high C soil you are disturbing to do so.”
Up north the soils are low C. I dug a small lake, pulling out gravel and clay for the material to cover the berms. The lake catches rain in the winter and so helps the water table and biodiversity. The deer love the clover and build new soil with their feces. It cost a few thousand bucks to do all the earthwork, but the $15k I got for the logs ensured I still retained a good profit.
Jim Eager (260) — Southern hemisphere lags because it is mostly ocean. The Antarctic sea ice growth is due to some complicated processes brought about by temperature increases, something to do with increased Circumpolar Vortex intensity, but don’t ask me to explain all the details.
Anyway, orbital forcing is negligble on the time scales we are considering.
Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Jun 2009 @ 3:54 PM
Concerning the discussion about stashing away slash from logging operations, could it be better to put the slash below the water table? I’m thinking about salvage logging operations in dams, rivers and swamps where pristine wood sometimes several hundred years old is recovered and sent to market because it was preserved by submersion in fresh water (come to think of it, excellent preservation of Great Lakes wrecks, too!).
Bear in mind I don’t have any idea of whether this applies to slash, whether ground water would offer the same benefit, etc. Just wondering.
Re #266, Jim, I have read and been shown by a UK physicist that a gallon of petrol contains 40 KWhrs of energy equivilent. However as a ICE is only around 20% efficient (energy conversion to useful work?) and an electric motor is 90% efficient (if this is true) but creating electricity to turn the motor over is only around 40% efficient then these energy usage differences sort of equate to being very similar in terms of overall energy efficiency. Something called the coefficient. Could you comment on this at all ?
Jim Eager (277) — Since orbital forcings are essentially constant in during the brief interval of observation (decadal scale), they can hardly explain the recent increase in Antarctic sea ice. Hence, not relevant to the question, as I understood it.
Nest, these comments are available for everyone to read, so it is often a good idea to repeat central points. Don’t take it so personally, please.
Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Jun 2009 @ 5:29 PM
re #278, to charge the tesla Roadster’s batteries is 78% efficient, and the motor is 90% efficient so overall the plug to wheel efficiency is about 72%. So a 53 kWhr requires about 68 kWhr to charge and you get 48 kWhr out of it. It goes 220 miles on that.
If you charged it with solar panels from your roof you could get 2000 miles per gallon, assuming it takes 50 gallons of oil to make the solar panels and it lasts 100,000 miles.
A gallon of gas contains as you say 40 kWhr, but at 20% efficiency you get only 8 kWhr out of it. To get 48 kWhr to the wheels you need 48 / 8 = 6 gallons. So this will get you about 150 miles.
Comment by Null Hypothesis — 25 Jun 2009 @ 5:35 PM
“Roofs are ventilated to prevent rot. In a well-insulated house, the attic is friggin cold in winter, and perhaps colder when the roof is covered with snow (no solar gain).”
It won’t be holding much water either. It will have plenty of time to airate what little it was made to hold when the snow melts.
And a very simple device called a “heat exchanger” can exchange stale old air that’s warm with outside fresh cold air and, while they are passing, use the warmth of the air leaving to warm the air entering.
These are available in all large reputable housing stores in many countries.
You are absolutely right. The Second Law of Thermodynamics pulls through again. Hooray. It seems to be easily ignored these days.
So as you point out, if we start with the heat source as the input, wherever it may be, things turn out to be “very similar.”
As long as cars are more or less of the familiar sort on the road today it is hard to get much more than 50 MPG, or the honest equivalent of 50 MPG using the heat into the engine as the reference. There is a lot of room for quibbling, but for reasonably typical driving, and for reasonably comfortable human accommodations, this number will not go up much.
(How could the US Dept. of Energy accept the nonsense that a car they are giving out money on can get the “equivalent of 250 mpg?” How can we depend on them to be the fountain of all basic data on emissions?)
Then we can quibble about whether there is some way that there will be reserve capacity in solar, wind, or whatever to step up when the electric car gets plugged in, or whether it will be just plain coal that gets burned as the response. If efficiencies are the same, that means the CO2 goes up about 33%. Thus, it probably is better to just build good hybrids and forget about plugging them in, at least for now.
This is not to belittle regenerative braking which is possible with any kind of electric machinery, plug-in or hybrid.
Maybe we should completely rethink the automobile? That could be a chance to change everything.
#278 – pete, back when I was a TA for organic chemistry labs, one basic chore for the students was to calculate the difference between theoretical and actual yields for various reactions.
For an ICE, consider first the efficiency of combustion (complete conversion of hydrocarbons + oxygen to CO2 + water). This is where Japanese engines do quite well – but a lot depends on how you drive them. Rapid acceleration always involves a loss in fuel efficiency, as does any stop-and-go driving. If you’ve ever watched alcohol-burning race cars on a loop track, you can see this – as drivers accelerate out of the turn, flames come out of their tailpipes – unburned fuel gets pushed through due to rapid acceleration – increase the power, reduce the efficiency.
Then, you have to consider the efficiency of conversion of the heat-pressure of combustion to mechanical work (via a piston), and that’s where all the heat losses occur – which is also why ICE engines need a complicated cooling system, to shed that heat and avoid melting down (same goes for nuclear reactors, coal-fired power plants, etc.) This is where the energy losses come in.
Now compare that to an electric vehicle, noting that electric engines deliver power smoothly across a wide range of rpms – thus, complicated gearboxes are not needed. For a 125 HP electric engine, the minimum normal standard is 92.4% efficiency:
Now, for your final point: “the efficiency of creating electricity”
First, energy is never “created”, it is merely “converted” – that’s the conservation of energy rule, which is still standing after 150 years of careful examination.
For example, if one runs a diesel generator to generate electricity, then it works the same as an ICE vehicle, with the driveshaft generating electricity instead of movement. Depending on the system, a wide range of efficiencies exist – and research efforts to improve efficiency also exist, and they focus on capturing and using some of that waste heat:
The second project, worth $1.3 million over three years, seeks to improve the fuel-efficiency of the US Army’s portable diesel generators using thermoelectric technologies. It is sponsored by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP). SERDP is the Department of Defense’s environmental science and technology program, which is planned and executed in partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
The typical maximum efficiencies reported by retailers seem to go like this for diesel and gasoline IC engines:
Diesel engines operate at 45% fuel conversion efficiency, as opposed to gasoline units around 30%.
So, let’s say we build a completely electric vehicle powered by a large rechargeable battery. The energy storage of a battery is low, but batteries efficiently generate current with low losses. How can we extend the range?
Well, just put a small ICE onboard and run it at maximum efficiency only, just to charge the battery. Fuel it with ethanol produced without fossil fuels, and all of a sudden you have an extended range EV with no net effect on atmospheric CO2 – very plausible.
Even there, you are still stuck with having to get fuel and charge the battery in the first place. Sunlight and wind are intermittent energy sources – but a large battery is perfect for storing and distributing that energy later. The optimal EV would also have a roof and hood lined with the shaped silicon PV panels, to assist in charging the battery – again, extending the range.
For solar panels, the conversion of sunlight to electric current is about 18% for new silicon commercial modules, and an encouraging 40% for the expensive designs used on space satellites. Of course, the difference is that the sunlight is free – no fuel purchases are necessary. Obviously for the small space available on a car you’d want the more expensive and efficient panels.
If you like, there is a really wonderful graphic depicting how this will all work in practice:
David, I didn’t mean to even imply that orbital forcings can explain the recent increase in Antarctic sea ice, so my original post was admittedly poorly worded.
The increase is a recurring talking point for the denialshpere, however, as is the overall lag in southern hemisphere warming compared to the northern hem. My point is that in addition to all the well known and cited reasons for that lag, a small negative insolation forcing also exists in the southern hem as well. That forcing has existed for a few thousand years, however slight, and will exist for a few thousand more, so of course it can not explain any recently observed trends.
Some are working on how to harvest energy from commercial logging operation slash.
Logging operations are all around me here in the state of Oregon, and these operations always leave piles of slash (small limbs, broken parts, etc.) that is of no use to the lumber mills, and is typically burned where it lay.
I heard a panel discussion on Oregon Public Radio yesterday (6/24/2009) that was discussing the opportunities and challenges involved. From this broadcast I concluded that there are people actively working on this opportunity. But they have not yet figured out how to harvest this slash in such a way to result in a net energy gain while also properly compensating everyone involved in the work. In other words, it doesn’t make financial sense (yet).
This bio-mass material is bulky and not very compact, so it is expensive to physically pick it up for transport. This also means it requires larger trucks to haul it cost effectively, but most logging roads are not engineered for these larger trucks. Some are also working on an idea to avoid these challenges by harvesting the slash in the field, but with the added challenge of how to store/transmit the generated power where there is no infrastructure.
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (25 June 2009 at 6:15 PM):
“So as you point out, if we start with the heat source as the input, wherever it may be, things turn out to be “very similar.””
Haven’t we been through this before? The starting point in those fuel economy numbers is at the connection to the car – the gas pump or electric plug – and thus you get a fair comparison of the vehicle efficiency. If OTOH you want to compare full-path numbers, you have to start from the oil well for your gasoline car.
“As long as cars are more or less of the familiar sort on the road today it is hard to get much more than 50 MPG…”
Not at all. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve averaged 71.2 mpg over the last 6 years. (And so far 78.4 mpg for 450 miles on this tank.) Figure the electric motor on the Tesla is about 3-4 times as efficient as an IC engine, and 250 mpg equivalent is right in the ballpark.
P.S. – be sure to cheer when the DOE does something rational!
WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) — Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the Department of Energy is soliciting applications for $3.9 billion in grants to modernize the U.S. electric grid.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, Chu said, will allow for greater integration of renewable energy sources while increasing the reliability, efficiency and security of the nation’s transmission and distribution system.
U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt joined with Ed Markey, the Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, to urge the Obama Administration to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and to sign the agreement establishing the organization at the next Preparatory Commission meeting on June 29 and 30.
The International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, has 104 signatory states but the United States is not among them, something Delahunt and Markey hope will change before the group meets in Egypt next week. IRENA aims to provide advice for its members on technology, business models, regulatory frameworks, financing and other areas, while also serving as a storehouse of information and data about renewable energy globally.
They also wrote a letter to the State Department, see the link. However, consider what the U.S. special envoy for Eurasian energy issues had to say recently:
BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 25 (UPI) …Morningstar lauded the potential impact of the project, saying it would not only contribute to energy diversification and security, but also encourage international cooperation.
“Nabucco opens up many possibilities,” he said. “We support all projects that involve the delivery of oil and gas to world markets.”
Does that include working with savage regimes like Burma? Well, yes it does. They support oil and gas projects in the most undemocratic and corrupt nations, but not wind and solar projects. This is probably the central problem with U.S. foreign policy & the State Department, the IMF and the World Bank – namely, the myopic focus on fossil fuel and other resource extraction deals to the exclusion of renewable energy projects.
A first step in changing that idee fixe will be getting the State Department to acknowledge that IRENA exists – so this might be a good time to send your Congresspeople some letters.
Doug (275): Where it’s not impossible, it’s impractical, and where it’s not impractical, there are other issues. The amount of soil you’d have to move in most cases would be huge, requiring energy, increasing soil respiration, and potentially causing other problems (e.g. altering the community dynamics). Better to offset some FFs elsewhere by burning in a cogen. plant (if you’re going to log).
Jim (276): The carbon costs of removing wood has to be less than that from other, more carbon-intensive building materials, (weighted by the relative lifetimes of each), for there to be a carbon benefit. But that’s probably not telling you anything new.
Lately, the Southern Hemisphere has been heating more, at least if you go by the anomaly. Dunno what it means–if anything. But it was might confusing for the fellow who tried to tell us today that the warming observed is purely NH.
Pete #285: Using the forestry residues such as small diameter wood, twigs and stumps is an area of active development in Northern Europe. Operational production started some ten years ago and there is rapid growth. Obviously the conditions are variable both as to the terrain, road networks, forest ownership and industry organization.
Seems to me that the winning approach is to collect and stack the raw materials to the roadside, let them dry for two summers under paper cover, followed by processing by a mobile chipper. This results in rather dry wood for the burners. The alternative method of bundling the raw materials to a loglike form is easily compatible with the logging trucks, but produces a much more humid chip quality.
For solar panels, the conversion of sunlight to electric current is about 18% for new silicon commercial modules, and an encouraging 40% for the expensive designs used on space satellites. Of course, the difference is that the sunlight is free – no fuel purchases are necessary. Obviously for the small space available on a car you’d want the more expensive and efficient panels
Yes, this is the amazing truth of today’s technology. If we were to build cars that were covered with the 40% efficient solar panels mentioned above, on a sunny day you could 60 km or more for free. This is with existing technology. The only thing holding us back is economics and will. Right now they are too expensive. How do you get cost down? Start promoting renewables and get economies of scale to ramp up mass production and then price will come down!!! However, our leaders don’t want this to happen. The last thing they want is an energy independent populace, because they can’t be energy extorted anymore.
Comment by Null Hypothesis — 25 Jun 2009 @ 11:21 PM
Re #286 James,
Nope, there is nothing fair about giving the electric vehicle a three to one advantage by ignoring the reality of the energy conversion process by which the electric energy is produced.
Yes there are many who think the comparison can be reasonably made at the input to the car. This is a contrivance of the electric car promoters.
Yes, you would get the best comparison using well to wheels etc., but you would never get through the arguments.
On the other hand, a fairly accurate comparison can be made if you compare heat inputs for the whole electric system where the heat engine is in a power plant somewhere, and the whole car engine system where the engine is in the car. It will not be much different if you make a correction for oil refining and coal transportation, but whatever you think is fair, it will not be anything like the error from ignoring the heat engine process for the electric system.
The thing to keep in mind is that the heat engine is the point of enormous loss of energy. This is true for any real known engine. To set this aside by making the comparison ‘at the car’ you automatically give the electric car a two or three to one advantage over any self contained engine propulsion system.
Just for reference, peaking natural gas electric power systems turn heat into electric energy at about 30% efficiency. Coal plants do about 33% on average in the USA. Diesels get around 35%. Combined cycle natural gas plants get about 50%. And I am ignoring the 7% average loss for distribution.
Even at 50% efficiency, the power operators have a hard time overcoming the cost differential between coal and natural gas, per
BTU. This is true even at todays relatively low natural gas prices.
If you get 78 MPG you must be driving a Messerschmitt or maybe an Isetta. Or maybe you drive at steady speeds under about 25 mph.
Surely you have not been victimized by the 100+ MPG promoters. These folks only count the actual gallons and ignore the electric energy input altogether. Some are a bit more forthright, and try to include some equivalent for the electric energy, but the formulation is usually based on wishful thinking about electricity.
‘Hypermiling’ is another possibility, but this is a little like improving mileage by pushing your car yourself. As reported on Autopia, hypermilers get a lot of antagonism from others on the road. The ‘hypermiling’ formula seems to be like I said about driving under 25 mph and trying never to stop or slow down.
And yes, we seem to go through this all, over and over again. Although it is a little tiresome, its not so bad for me since it is kind of fun to be on the side of the Laws of Physics. I might mess up in the way I say things, but I know I will come out winning in the end.
I would cheer if I really thought they would modernize the grid in the right way. Unfortunately, it looks more like they are thinking only about shuffling power over long distances. Some of this could be ok, but the bad part of this is that it perpetuates the 100 year old practice of making electric power in power plants where the vast amounts of wasted heat can be thrown away without bothering anyone very much.
The counter to this would be systems where electricity was generated closer to where the heat could be meaningfully used. We had a discussion on a previous thread about how well they use combined heat and power in the Danish system. If that were to be done, the need for long distance power shuffling would be lessened.
As for wind and solar, if long distance power transmission can make these kinds of systems economically competitive, including the cost of the power transmission, then I think that would be perfectly rational.
Yeah, it struck me after posting that if you’re 2000′ up a mountain composed of hard rock with a skin of regolith and soil, finding the water table would be slightly difficult. Wild-eyed technologists would probably suggest drilling boreholes, macerating the slash and then pumping it down to wherever water can be found, with a pipeline if need be and of course requiring MCF of water and MWH of power to work. About as practical as sequestration from combustion steam generation, really. I can just see the full page spread: “Clean Lumber Harvest Technology! Call your legislator to demand a subsidy!”
Thanks for your input on the ICE vs electric motor debate. As my physics friend here in the UK also points out, on a cold day (plenty of them here) and electric motor engine would have trouble keeping the occupants warm and on summer days running air conditioning would drain the energy efficiency to. ICE has a lot more to offer on that front to.
However my thoughts to go why are people dragging around often 4 to 6 empty seats with them ? Can’t electric cars or hybrids be a lot smaller if only one occupant is required. How can electric motors power trucks/18 wheelers and pick ups etc. These things weight 2 tones to 40 tonnes +. What will happen here me wonders ?
Now comes the real hard part. The future of global energy production must come from pan continental grids spanning continents for seveal reasons. The sun flows around so if the continent is wired up you get a lot mote sunshine over a longer period of time which is a good thing. If it is windy in one place but no another crossing a continent would help smooth out brownouts across the grid and you can going continental tie in many disparate renewable energy sources:
CSP (solar thermal)
Photo Voltaic and Solar hot water
some fossil fuel and nuclear
Wave and tidal (perhaps)
Surely we can deliver this pan continantal wise. The USA has plenty of wind corridors and deep offshore wind can tap into it where it is needed according to one report I have read. Maybe Mexico can suply to CSP to the USA and Canada some wind and perhaps other stuff but no tar sands.
Them pesky efficiency gains must also play a role too. A lot of electrical hardware is not nearly efficient enough. Fridges, freezers, TV, compuers etc. All can be made more efficient and home can be a lot better at staying cool and keeping warm I would have thought ?
Re #300, your dads and your car is crap perhaps Mark. Whilst I drive a brand new energy efficient diesel motor here in Europe and it rocks along at 60+ MPG with everything on. no problems. I often have the full beam on too as well as the normal lights and the radio. No issue here.
What are you driving may I ask and why would you want aircon on at night ?
Are you saying that a electric car will do better than a ICE one with it wedges of heat just waiting to be pumped into your car to warm you up ?
My dad’s car is second hand, but still serviceable quality and my car is a 1.2L engine and brand new.
Or your cars are massively over-engineered. Carrying all that extra engine just to warm your car up quickly has to nerf your fuel economy for the 99% of the time you don’t need all that power.
Didn’t we have a discussion about how USians were horrendously wasteful of thier power needs, so demanding the same power level per capita world wide wasn’t needed to keep a US-level (darn near third world, mind) quality of life for those still coming up.
Your car has just proven how true that is.
And no, I’m saying that an ICE car still has the problems you ascribe to electric cars. Power is power is power. Doesn’t matter if you got it by torturing mice or tapping in to the cosmic rays.
Re #301, Well it has 140 bhp, what is a useful horse power I wonder as my last car had 105 BHP and last me through the winter and it was fine. We all know that USians drive around in silly vehicles doing an average 22 MPG but Europeans on average 33 MPG, not a huge amount more now is it considering how most people trhink of amwrican cars. We all need an average of double what we are doing now regardless of where you live so I average 60 (its says so on the total mileage average button) so its time we all did but petrol cars cannot do 60 MPG unless the cars are tiny which is fine for some but not for all and it never will be.
All I was saying is that can an electric motor car be powered by renewable power solely (after we have powered everything else that presently uses fossil fuels) and give people who own them what they think they want. I have no idea what the future of cars will be. Biofuels for aircraft perhaps and electricity for driving etc.
Re #303, I am more concerned with the present senate vote on the USA climate change Bill.
“… the key messages … are resilient and based on a broad scientific consensus …. the scientific book … will reflect
even more details from the congress about the scientific evidence that has emerged on climate change. The book will be published
The abstracts are online; many full articles are online; those who made oral presentations may have more on their websites.
Re #305, its all climate progress is talking about, its that important. Presently more important that Copenhagen I would suggest. This bill needs to go through in order for Copenhagen to mean anything.
Since nobody objected to the description of the process of sea level rise determination used by Church and White I will assume it is correct for all intents and purposes. Does it make anyone else uncomfortable that one data set is used to clean up the noise from a different data set instead of just using standard statistical procedures? I also wondered if anyone happens to know how much difference the new method changed the results as compared to the standard procedure. If not I will patiently wait until a free version is available.
Alastair, yes it was very helpful thank you.
Mark, I rolled the 8 sided die but it didn’t occur to me that could be what he meant.
Mark (262), NY State doesn’t get their surge demand electricity from Arizona. It’s virtually always from nearby power sources (so long as they are not blacked out ;-) ) because that’s by far the most reliable for the grid.
James (264), actually a lot of homes are heated with electricity via heat pumps (CAC running backwards); though it has proven to be very inefficient in all but temperate climes — especially when the temp difference is large enough that the heat pump shuts off and the electric coils turn on: your meter wheel almost spins off its axis. If you don’t have gas, fuel oil or propane available, heat pumps is about all that is left.
275 Doug asks, “could it be better to put the slash below the water table? ” I pondered that as well. I couldn’t find a definitive answer. I figured that methane production was the biggest evil to prevent so I went with dry storage. Perhaps in areas with more insects wet storage would work better.
276 Jim says, “I recall reading that the very common wooden buildings in Russia burn down fairly often on a historical time scale so there are not a lot of really old examples of Russian architecture.”
ahhh, the combination of vodka, long winter nights, and fireplaces. Yes, the best laid sequestration plans..
Jim Bouldin’s 2008 paper describes work with dry high-elevation fire-prone environments where dead wood will survive for years or even decades if it’s above ground, because most of the precipitation falls as snow during the wintertime and humidity is too low for dry rot much of the year. My 40 acre site in the California coast range is like that; there are still stumps and hollow trees (black oaka nd Ponderosa pine) from the 1940s logging, where subsequent fires haven’t reached them.
That’s an area where the approach Pekka describes from Finland seems very appropriate (except for the yahoo population who’d set woodpiles on fire to watch them burn)
In the wet rain forest environment, fungus (and beetles and other organisms) very quickly will turn the dead wood in a tree to new living material. The truism I recall from the area is that there’s far more living mass in a “dead” tree than in a living tree, once the tree’s own protections are breached and the dead dry wood under its living skin is exposed. Look at the remaining bits of the Olympic rain forest — in the little “view strips” along the Hoh River for examples.
I recall reading that almost all the topsoil in the N. California coastal forests, when looked at closely, is arthropod feces. Everything gets consumed quickly and repeatedly. Chipping or just laying wood down where it will stay damp and the moss and fungus will grow on it ought to turn most of the dead tree carbon into live topsoil and duff carbon quickly, so long as fire’s not allowed.
Barton Paul Levenson Says (26 June 2009 at 4:12 AM):
“Considering that they’re (solar panels) black and usually at least warm, can snow accumulate on them in the first place?”
Simple answer is yes. They might absorb enough heat in the daytime to melt off a light snowfall, but not a couple of feet. Then there’re the snowfalls that happen overnight: even a light snow keeps enough light from penetrating to warm the solar panel. In fact (going by a little experience with solar heating), what you want is for the panels to be at a steep enough angle so that snow slides off before it melts & sticks.
Rod B Says (26 June 2009 at 11:35 AM):
“If you don’t have gas, fuel oil or propane available, heat pumps is about all that is left.”
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (25 June 2009 at 11:52 PM):
“Nope, there is nothing fair about giving the electric vehicle a three to one advantage by ignoring the reality of the energy conversion process by which the electric energy is produced.”
Why not? You’re equally willing to ignore the energy production processes on the other side, and attribute it all to coal. And to ignore things like IC engine BSFC maps, cite the peak efficiency, and claim that’s what it gets all the time, instead of under conditions that most cars seldom see.
“If you get 78 MPG you must be driving a Messerschmitt or maybe an Isetta. Or maybe you drive at steady speeds under about 25 mph.”
Nope. Honda Insight, at more or less typical speeds, given that a large part of my driving is on mountain roads. A bit slower than average on freeways & multi-lane highways (because going fast in a straight line is boring, and the time saved isn’t worth the speeding tickets), faster than average on the twisty bits. Very little urban driving, though, which helps.
Pete, you see things like I do when it comes to the foolishness of the 4-6 seat car that mostly is used to carry one person. My plan is that cars should provide tandem seating for two large adults. This gives some flexibility. To accommodate a family of four, drive two cars like this. Two smaller children can probably be squeezed in the second seat.
Starting with this tandem seating requirement, the entire history of the motor vehicle can be revisited with surprising results. When Henry Ford killed the cycle car the promise of tandem seating was forgotten, much to the detriment of the planet.
And you really do not need a 150 hp engine to warm a car. Even a 1 kW heater would do, and this is only 1.33 hp.
The Miastrada car design is set to enable it to run at 80 MPH for two hours on 18 kWhr of propulsion power. Double this for margin and it looks like a 6 kW solar panel getting 6 hours of sun could run it. Even so, I still see a future with a small internal combustion engine as an auxilliary for longer trips, and that could be used for heating and airconditioning if necessary. 16 hp would be plenty to enable continuous driving.
As you see, I have discussed this as a solar based system. With chagrin, I note that it might be better to just sell the solar power to the utility and run on the 16 hp engine all the time. The irony is that plugging in my car at night will probably result in coal fired power generation to fill that load.
That is how I came to the concept of using the car engine in a cogeneration scheme, where the engine would be run only when heat was needed by an associated household. Thus, the electric generation efficiency would roughly triple to almost 100%.
Curiously, this would not require that money be invested in the solar panels. And the engine would already be in the car, so the cogeneration hardware would only be some plumbing and radiators stuck in the plenum of your furnace. This seems interesting for countries without a lot of spare cash lying around.
steve, 309: “Does it make anyone else uncomfortable that one data set is used to clean up the noise from a different data set instead of just using standard statistical procedures?”
Uh, that’s one of the standard statistical procedures.
If you don’t know what other element may be in play, get a set that has a different array of forces in play apart from the one you’re interested in and where they start to diverge (in a statistical sense), you know you have some significant (in a statistical sense) unknown forcing going on in at least ONE of those datasets.
E.g. if you want to know how much profit a store makes but you can’t look at the books, and you need to know how they vary over time (so you aren’t buying a shop that is merely a tourist trap), you could just count the number of people going in and going out. I mean, that’s GOT to be a bip proportion of the equation for profitability (or at least turnover), hasn’t it?
But maybe they go in for different volumes over time. So maybe take the number of trucks over the same averaging period.
If they diverge, you know you’ve got some other forcing in there. If they don’t you know you have a good analogue.
And it also means that you can work out whether you have a sampling bias when there are drastic scenario changes.
Well JBob, #307, if your house needs the roof cleared to combat dampness and rot, with solar panels your effort clearing has an upside: your electric bill will be lower than it would have been without them!
And if it doesn’t need clearing, then you don’t have to and you have some extra free insulation.
Yup, the Honda Insight should do that with some nursing along.
Nope, the 38% efficiency number for the Prius engine is listed as an average over the UDDS (urban) driving cycle. See the reference linked through my site for the data sheet. (Admittedly, it is a little obscure in that reference since Argonne was trying to say it was great to make a car into a plug-in. This particular data completely blew their case.)
Nope, I am not willing to ignore the fuel production inefficiencies. I just say they are relatively small compared to the gigantic loss in any heat engine. There seems to be some agreement that the gasoline production losses add about 25% to the amount of heat that should be charged to the gasoline. Coal transportation etc. heat losses could be corrected for by adding about 10% to the heat input in a coal fired system.
Thus, on a corrected thermal system, roughly for gasoline we have a 1/1.25 up front efficiency factor, .38 for the Prius engine efficiency factor and .9 for the electric generator and .9 for the electric motor. That gasoline system works out to be 25%. For coal fired electric generation we have 1/1.1 for the up front efficiency factor, .33 for the heat engine in the central power plant including the generator losses, .93 for electric distribution, .9 for charging losses and .9 for the electric motor. That coal fired system works out to about 23%. Both have linkages from the electric motor to the wheels. So as pete best says, the outcome is roughly the same on an efficiency basis. And an honest MPG comparison will come out also to be similar numbers.
Now take note that about 33% more CO2 come from producing a BTU of heat from coal than comes from producint a BTU of heat from gasoline, and it should be clear that the electric car is not all that special, at least not in comparison with a good hybrid.
True, the crappy conventional car does not have the Prius engine and it does not have regenerative braking of any decently designed hybrid.
I would bet your Honda Insight has a very efficient engine also, probably close or better than the Prius. I have not yet uncovered real data on this. But I would be very critical of anyone trying to sell you $10,000 worth of batteries to stuff in your Insight.
Mark really? Between two different data sets using two different measuring devices measuring two different things? I have little background in statistics and what little I may have known I lost long ago from lack of use but for some reason this sounds unusual. Are you well versed in statistics?
I do not know what the future of the car will be either. However, if we are willing to change the way we look to pedestrians as we ride along, it is possible to move two large people at 80 mph with only 12 hp, and make them feel good about riding high, safely and comfortably. See http://www.miastrada.com.
You have to do things my way to make this happen, or else something similarly unusual. If you are willing to scrunch in a bit and ride puny, the Aptera will give good performance on about 20 hp. See http://www.aptera.com.
Aptera simplified their project by switching to all electric operation. I think this was to make them look good for the Automotive XPrize competition, where that contest is using the same flawed ‘MPG equivalent’ that James expounds (#286) which tries to find an equivalent at the point of “connection to the car.” I tried hard to get the XPrize folks to not use this bogus comparison trick. Even though I could do well with it myself, it made the electric car look so good that there would be no need for real innovation. The result of them sticking to this is that the potential global warming benefits will not be achieved, but many people will think there is no need for anything more. See #320 to see the problem with this system that triples the perceived benefit of electric drive compared to what it should be.
Southern Europe is undergoing desertification. The US government has issued a warning (June 16, 2009) that US water supply is in danger due to CO2. http://globalchange.gov/
Drought might get some attention and even stimulate some real action to cut emissions. The plight of the polar bears or the denizens of Bangladesh don’t seem to matter to most Americans.
Climate scientists, including Copenhagen, have failed to present a convincing case for taking painful action right now, instead of waiting for more trees to grow in Nigeria, or hoping for a new source of utility-scale power to appear. A 2C rise sounds like a negligible effect, and so does 5C. Of course, ice ages depend on such small swings, but most people don’t know this.
Mark I’m not sure if a fly by wire system is a good analogy. Actually I’m certain it isn’t. I assume the yes was to the really Mark and the being well versed in statistics was left unanswered? Or was the yes to being well versed in statistics? It doesn’t really matter. There are experts all over the place on this issue. I happen to like Gavin’s answer from 2004 I found when reading his critique of Crighton’s book from The Earth Institute at Columbia University: There are clearly some problems in comparing tide gauge and satellite data, and of course, satellites can have their problems (cf. MSU data), but the quoted numbers don’t support the actual statement at all – though it would be fairer to say that the satellites are consistent with a recent rise in the rate, rather than a proof that it is occuring.
To me this seems like a well balanced statement with a sufficient amount of skepticism as should be shown by a scientist. I was wondering if Gavin would change that wording at this point?
PS to steve, whose last post slipped in; you’ll find much since 2004.
Look for updates on the topic you found about temperatures.
— there is no proof available in science. This is again something you’ll find explained in the basic links available. Proof is not possible in the sense it can be done in mathematics; understanding inference will help understand why statistics and probability is what’s discussed.
Hank you are always well read and always have links available and I always appreciate your input. The one mistake you do make is to think those expressing doubt always do so because they are parroting someone else. Some of us have our own life’s learning regarding science. I, for instance, remember quite well my very first science class in a lab where the instructor told us in no uncertain terms that if you switched scales you had to calibrate. This lesson was never lost on me. I ignored it for the class of course but the concept stuck. Now one of the first things I look for when people are comparing one measuring instrument to another is: where is the calibration?
Hank my post #252 has the puzzle I am trying to figure out. The difference between studies of the sea level increase as measured by tide gauges. Methodology seems the most obvious point of interest. Concentrating on the Church and White study seems logical since they are using a new methodology.
O.K. A waste of time, but…william says (254), “…isn’t transmission loss from Arizona to New York city a bit of a problem?
Then Mark (262) immediately repeats the quote and adds, “…Not really. It already happens with the current electrical grid. NY State doesn’t produce enough electric for a surge in demand, they get it from another state.”
I thought Mark was clearly implying that New York gets some electricity from Arizona or western environs. Silly me…
Ironically, my first search — ordinary Google– on the attribution turns up only the original BioOne article and two attacks on Church and White’s paper; this may amuse John Mashey so I’ll post it: http://www.google.com/search?q=“Church+and+White”+”Nature+News”
“Then Mark (262) immediately repeats the quote and adds, “…Not really. It already happens with the current electrical grid. NY State doesn’t produce enough electric for a surge in demand, they get it from another state.”
I thought Mark was clearly implying that New York gets some electricity from Arizona or western environs. Silly me…”
Nope, I clearly STATED they took it from another state. And since the state I was talking about was NY, then “another state” would be “a state not NY”.
This covers eastern states too, you know.
Not “implied”. ***stated***. If you want to imply something from something clearly stated, then you’re the one making it up.
Isn’t there a final trip somewhere else?”
No, it doesn’t Jim.
a) you don’t drive. Well, not *after* you die, anyway, though you could right up to that point…
b) the hearse goes back to shop. If it stayed at the cemetery, there’d need to be a bigger car park there. And why would it? So that when the dead walk again, they don’t have to walk, they can drive in style?
Hanks thanks. I am currently trying to find what the Church White tide gauge data shows as trend when the traditional statistical methodology is used. If you happen to run across that it would be most helpful in helping me sort this out for myself.
Mark I believe there are multiple fly by wire systems used in an aircraft due to safety concerns. It only makes sense that the same program not be used in all the redundant systems since if there is a glitch one would not want the same glitch to affect all the systems.
Mark the significant difference between the two situations is that in one situation, the sea levels, getting the right answer is the most important factor. In the situation of fly by wire the most significant factor is that they operate using two different systems so using one program to correct another program would defeat the purpose of having two programs.
321 – Would love to see you on the roof of a two story house, clearing snow at -15. You don’t generate much solar power under a blanket of snow, or wind power when it’s dead still and -30. That happens on regular basis up here.
Steve, one last repetition: it helps to say:
what you’ve done (how much statis
what you are finding and reading;
who you’ve asked (contacting the corresponding author is the usual way); and
how you are searching.
Without that, it becomes rather like the “submarine” board game.
How about A3?
I’ll guess B17
You might consider starting a blog for the search if you really can’t find anything out of all the above material. I’m just a reader, not a competent librarian or searcher.
I mainly try to suggest ways to approach problems for kids who may come along later and need help finding references, and not know where to start.
“Mark, not that it matters much, but I did not call a wood stove a heat pump.”
Then maybe you could explain what you did mean by “…solar and wood stoves satisfy the statement: heat pumps are about all that is left…”. I can read that two ways: either solar & wood stoves don’t work for home heating (and I have several winters of first-hand experience that says they do), or they’re equivalent to heat pumps. Which?
C’mon, RodB isn’t saying that solar, wood, and heat pumps are all equivalent.
He was ignoring solar and wood, and saying heat pumps don’t work well below freezing so they use lots of electricity (or gas) in cold weather. For outdated models in poor condition, that used to be true.
Alas, most of us have “A poor sort of memory that only works backwards” so must look things up to provide accurate information.
Advanced Technologies: Reverse Cycle Chillers
… The heat pump is connected to a large, heavily insulated tank of water that the heat pump heats or cools, depending on the season of the year. … The RCC system also allows the heat pump to operate at peak efficiency even at low temperatures…. The simple payback on the additional cost in areas where natural gas is not available is in about 2–3 years.
Advanced Technologies: Cold Climate Heat Pump
… tested favorably by several utilities in the Northwest, which announced that the heat pump showed a 60% efficiency improvement over standard air-source heat pumps in preliminary testing.
The product has never been made available to consumers on a large scale, but it appears that manufacturing may resume and the heat pumps will soon be available to consumers….
Advanced Technologies: All-Climate Heat Pump
… can operate in the coldest days of winter without supplemental heat, maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures even when the temperature outdoors falls below zero. The heat pump could reduce heating and cooling costs 25%–60%. Wenatchee Valley College in Washington has installed the heat pump and campus and has been testing it since October 2006…
“Mark the significant difference between the two situations is that in one situation, the sea levels, getting the right answer is the most important factor.”
Is it? Why? Sea levels depends MUCH MUCH ***MUCH*** more on whether the ice on the South Pole has melted.
This is rather dependent on temperature.
Ice doesn’t melt progressively, you know. It doesn’t 1% melt at -99C, 2% melt at -98C all the way down to all melted at 0C.
So temperature is really quite important.
And what the sam hill does that have to do with “would you use two different measuring instruments to find the temperature anyway”????
You’d use more than one different measuring method for temperature for the exact same reason you would use three systems independently written in a FBW system: so you can see if there’s any unforseen issues with your measuring system.
Mark, I was comparing sea levels and fly by wire. Why the lecture on temperatures being important? Also, I was actually making an argument that would have been somewhat supportive of your argument earlier, that correcting one data set with another would be a good idea for sea levels assuming we knew the answer was the correct one. But now you seem to on the side that this would be a bad idea. Do you have a position other then being diametrically opposed to any position I may take?
Thanks Hank I am fairly competent at searching the net. I have found that typing the topic and adding peer reviewed cuts out most the garbage. Thanks for the pointers.
James, I simply said that after gas and fuel oil electric driven heat pumps (as currently constituted — reverse AC units) is about all that is left. The “about” allows for the current picayune usage of solar and wood stoves; but in looking at what Americans are currently using solar and wood, while maybe neat, are off the radar screen. That’s all; other than the original point that tons of people heat their homes with electricity (A/C heat pumps) but not very efficiently in colder climes — Hank’s new stuff coming down the pike not withstanding.
For over 50 years, the media (particularily TV) have been hammering home the messages that we all “deserve” whatever we want, that self-indulgence is the ideal life style, and that only suckers think about other people, even if the other people are their own children. So is it any suprise that glazed eyes are the typical response to unwelcome facts? It seems to me that, if we are going to motivate people to make the necessary changes, we have to bite the bullet of cost, and use the media to begin reversing those messages.
I won’t bother to ask if either of you has even begun reading these.
I recommend the reading to those interested in the topic.
Get ready for December, the scientists are doing so.
Don’t be left behind rehashing old information.
Click the link, pick an area, read, look up the cites for the topic.
#255 (re Copenhagen updated temp trends) “Did you change the filter length from M=11 to M=14 in the temperature graph (Figure 3)?”
inline reply by stefan “…we chose M=15. In hindsight, the averaging period of 11 years that we used in the 2007 Science paper was too short to determine a robust climate trend.”
Do you know why the graph was left with a caption saying “Changes in global average surface air temperature (smoothed over 11 years) relative to 1990.” rather than showing the change in smoothing method?
Stefan’s inline comment that implies that he changed the smoothing method only after he realized that m=11 showed a flattening of the trendline, while m=14 did not. Changing things on the fly like this and leaving the erroneous caption just gives skeptics more ammunition.
[Response: I hadn’t noticed the error in the caption of our graph yet, thanks for drawing my attention to it. I have notified the editors of the report of this mistake. Not sure why a small technical error in the caption would give ammunition to anyone except conspiracy theorists: the original annual data are shown, and the report draws only one conclusion from the figure:
Figure 3 shows the trend in surface air temperature in recent decades.
2008 was comparatively cooler than the immediately preceding years,
primarily because there was a minimum in the cycle of the sun’s magnetic
activity (sun spot cycle) and a La Niña event in 2007/2008. Nevertheless,
the long-term trend of increasing temperature is clear and the trajectory
of atmospheric temperature at the Earth’s surface is proceeding within
the range of IPCC projections.
None of this has anything to do with the smooth trend line or is affected by whether one happens to choose 11-year or 15-year smoothing.
By all means Mark, do not waste any more of your time answering my posts. I think it unfair that it be left up to you to set everyone straight on every topic. Perhaps you should ignore some of us and let others pick up the slack.
Raising questions about the Department of Energy’s committed to its oft-stated pledges of openness and transparency, journalists were told to leave the room shortly before new Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman was to speak at this year’s Energy Facility Contractors Group meeting in Washington last week. While no explanation was given at the time, according to those present, the move was apparently intended to ensure that journalists not only didn’t cover, but couldn’t even hear, a routine address on DOE’s priorities under the Obama Administration and efforts to address climate change.
I am a skeptic (not denier) on the global warming problem. I admit that there is some effect of human burning of oil and coal, and the non AGW pollution (smog, acid rain, soot, etc.) is clearly a problem. In my opinion the AGW heating is not as big a problem as modelers seem to expect. However, there is another problem caused by energy consumption moving in the direction of exceeding availability (and thus causing unacceptable high prices), and this required a separate solution. Any solution to the energy problem would also reduce possible global warming, so this might be of interest to people on this site. I do think nuclear power is a practical solution, but probably will not overcome the resistance of the public to it. An alternate and fully clean solution can be found at: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dnc49xz_44f67brtp&hl=en
Comment by Leonard Weinstein — 30 Jun 2009 @ 12:40 PM
According to Pielke Sr:
“Sea level has actually flattened since 2006”
“Their [sic] has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.”
“Since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased.”
He points to some credible-looking references to back up his statements (e.g.
Anyone at realclimate.org care to comment?
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 30 Jun 2009 @ 7:34 PM
Inline comment to #363: “Not sure why a small technical error in the caption would give ammunition to anyone except conspiracy theorists: ”
If you look at the URLs below, it is obvious that changing the smoothing period and end conditions radically changes the trend line of Figure 3 in the Copenhagen report.
The Copenhagen report was intended to show the affect of more recent data and studies. In keeping with that philosophy it would perhaps been better to leave the smoothing at the same 11 year setting that was chosen for the original report.
The only apparent advantage of changing the data smoothing is that it causes the trendline to continue without the more recent data having any significant effect on the plot. See the above URLs to see the changes.
Knowingly cherry-picking data is a form of lying. Pielke, Sr is blatantly cherry-picking and doing so over a range that’s far to short to say *anything* of statistical significance. He’s a good enough scientist that he’s not doing it out of ignorance, he knows what he’s doing. Therefore Pielke, Sr is lying.
[Response: Lying is too strong. “Careless” is reasonable and perhaps “over-eager in search of critique” is fair. But since there is still a strong significant positive trend in sea level over the period he selected, it does seem a little odd. And of course the trend from Jan 2008 is even more positive – one might ask him why that isn’t just as important as his cherry picked period? – gavin]
Surely you can see that this is a blatant cherry-pick. Look how the left side of the “flat” marker is precisely aligned with a high-temp spike in the record.
Cherry-picking is a form of lying. Arbitrary point-to-point comparisons are meaningless, and he’s a good enough academic to know it. Arbitrary point-to-point comparisions over time frames far too short to yield any statisically valid result even if analyzed properly are even more meaningless, and he’s a good enough academic to know it.
Re. 369, 370, 371, 372… thanks for your responses.
I agree entirely that Pielke was selective about his dates, in particular for all the measures in question he used only the last few years of data. However, the RC post pretty simply invites him and others to do that. Saying “some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” suggests that *measurements* in the past few years show faster progress than was expected.
E.g. if in 2007, the prediction was that sea levels would rise X mm/yr (on average, over the long term), but since then sea levels actually rose less than X mm/yr, then it’s incorrect, or at the very least misleading, to suggest that sea levels are rising faster than expected a few years ago.
It looks to me like what’s happened is not so much that measured aspect of climate change have progressed faster than expected in recent years, but rather than the latest science indicates that the eventual effects will be larger than forecast a few years ago. Saying “The updated estimates of the future global mean sea level rise are about double the IPCC projections from 2007″ is very different from saying that since 2007, sea levels have been rising faster than projected in 2007 :-)
Incidentally, I’m not a climate change skeptic/denier – indeed, it’s pretty clear to me that the trends over the last 30 years or so show clear warming, there’s reason to believe that the trends will continue and perhaps even accelerate (of course with year-to-year random ups & downs), and the consequences will be serious.
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 30 Jun 2009 @ 11:38 PM
Lying is too strong. “Careless” is reasonable and perhaps “over-eager in search of critique” is fair. But since there is still a strong significant positive trend in sea level over the period he selected, it does seem a little odd. And of course the trend from Jan 2008 is even more positive – one might ask him why that isn’t just as important as his cherry picked period? – gavin
Sorry, I’ll stick with “lying”. I think that cherry-picking is lying, period. Of course I was raised in a right-wing evangelical Christian household, and while I did shed the RW politics of my upbringing, I didn’t shed by strong beliefs about the moral necessity of telling the truth.
But I appreciate your giving him the benefit of the doubt. Too much, I think, but hell, for you, it’s professional courtesy. For me … can’t give him that.
Lying is too strong. “Careless” is reasonable and perhaps “over-eager in search of critique” is fair.
Actually, Gavin, did you look at the graphic? There’s no way that “careless” is a reasonable characterization of the “flat trend” annotation being placed on the left *precisely* at about dec 2008 where there’s a large peak.
I have to say, I’ve never seen such an obvious or so precisely placed cherry-pick in my life (not that I spend my life looking at cherry-picked arguments).
And of course the trend from Jan 2008 is even more positive – one might ask him why that isn’t just as important as his cherry picked period?
I’m sorry, it’s not because he’s careless.
Of course you might disagree, and others, too, but then again … maybe not.
[Response: The annotation appears to have put on by Watts. Your critique of that should be directed at him. – gavin]
Just looked at Pielke’s references again, and I must agree he is cherry-picking. Thanks again to those who pointed out the obvious to me :-) A good clue (even without looking at the graphs) that he was cherry picking was that he conveniently chose different start years for each of the measures (2006 for sea level, 2003 for ocean temp, 2008 for ice cover).
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 1 Jul 2009 @ 1:55 AM
What accumulation of heat in the oceans do you refer to? There has been no statistically significent warming since 2003 has there?
“See Stefan’s response at #192, about cherry-picking vs. analyzing long-term trends. This is typical Pielke sloppiness and I’m not surprised.”
No Chris Colose, the claim was:
“Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” . This implies we are talking about climate change aspects that occurred the last few years. So Pielke was right to criticize the claim of “faster than expected” since it was not he but the Synthesis Report that did the cherry picking, to their own demise I may add.
Comment by Chris Schoneveld — 1 Jul 2009 @ 4:27 AM
The annotation appears to have put on by Watts. Your critique of that should be directed at him. – gavin
Hmmm … OK. Watts presents it as though it’s part and parcel from Pielke, Sr, but I guess that shouldn’t surprise me …
E.g. if in 2007, the prediction was that sea levels would rise X mm/yr (on average, over the long term), but since then sea levels actually rose less than X mm/yr, then it’s incorrect, or at the very least misleading, to suggest that sea levels are rising faster than expected a few years ago.
Trends. Not individual data points. They’re different things.
Until people understand that, they will understand nothing important regarding climate change.
OK, lets see if I understand the back and forth about Pielke.
The relevant section in the article above is
Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.
The article then continues with
“The updated estimates of the future global mean sea level rise are about double the IPCC projections from 2007″, says the new report.
Pielke has chosen to focus on the statement the portion of the statement that essentially says “sea levels are rising faster than was expected a few years ago”. Note that this is a paraphrase of the first blockquote above.
1. Is this a valid restatement of what Stefen wrote? If it isn’t a valid restatement, please explain why.
2. In the following sentence Stefen has moved from observed, actual events (such as sea level, ocean heat content, Artic ice extent) into changes in projected TRENDS over the last few years.
I don’t see Pielke as making comments as to whether or not various organizations have changed their projections in the last few years to projections of faster sea level rise. He is commenting on the 1st point, that a particular aspect of climate change (specifically sea level rise) has progressed faster in the last few years.
Since the article is about changes since the 2007 IPCC report, it would seem that looking at data not included in the 2007 IPCC report is the natural, obvious thing to do. I wouldn’t call that cherry-picking. I would call that a direct, obvious way to check the accuracy of the statement under consideration.
Well, I pulled down the data behind the Seal Level graph put up on the Science Blog of the Year, and plotted the slope for the bit labelled ‘Flat’ by Mr Watts [2006-]. Anyone surprised to learn it is positive, with a rate of about 1.5mm /year? Admittedly half the historic rate, but not flat (and not significant).
Does it matter if we can avoid the 2C mark or not? Wouldn’t 2.1C be better than 4C?
My children face a train wreck of peak oil, climate change, and an ever increasing population. The first two will make it more difficult to produce food and the last means that more will be required. We might as well try to slow the train down before the wreck. Hitting it with alternate forms of energy in place will be a lot better than hitting it without.
Nice little article by Kristof of the New York Times discussing our scientific findings about our psychological evolutionary heritage and how it affects our perception of risks, the article’s focus being the risk of climate change.
does anybody believe, that anyone cares realy about the climate in 50 or a hundret years?
what we are doing here, is far away from real climate science. we have to know, that this debate is only about political interrests and of course a oil problem.
lock at the data and you will never find a accelerating global warming and for sure not during the last 10 years.
if you are a lobbyst ore piltdown thinker, you can create warming and cooling in this period but anyway, both is WRONG!
open your eyes and never say, you will understand the process of global climate.
““Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” . This implies we are talking about climate change aspects that occurred the last few years.”
No, this doesn’t imply that. Or, rather, your excerpt (dropping the context) doesn’t only imply that.
It implies that a few years ago (where you have only good quality data and statistically significant trends from data a few years before that) a certain rate was expected. And that the expectations have changed.
[Response: Lying is too strong. “Careless” is reasonable and perhaps “over-eager in search of critique” is fair… gavin]
But we have again the problem of “never mistake incompetence for malice” that for some things, there’s no difference between what is happening under either case.
Here we have something that is either lying or doing something that is the same as lying.
As someone else pointed out, the period of “the last few years” has changed depending on what makes the answer looked for. This isn’t done because there’s a good reason.
If they were looking to make their point because of over-zealous, then “the last few years” would be the same “last few years” for all of them. Or it would be pointed out that the last few years was being selected based on what they wanted to say.
Please tell me that you don’t have children. I’m willing to say that YOU will never understand global climate. However, some of us are a bit more willing to work at it than you are. Now go play. The adults are trying to have an important discussion.
(P.S. I linked my very out of date website, but have not had time to keep updated.)
I am a veteran of groups trying to keep Kansas from building more coal-fired power plants. (Doing so will in essence cancel the CO2 emissions limitations of several surrounding states, and provide low price power to these surrounding states while emissions occur outside those states, allowing those states to claim their emissions have been reduced.)
We have been in the news because our former Governor Kathleen Sebelius and her Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s refusal to grant a permit for a new power plant, based on CO2 emissions being a hazard. Then Sebelius went to the Obama administration as HHS secretary, and was replaced by Mark Parkinon. Parkinson had changed parties from Republican to Democrat (in a largely Republican state) to run as Lieutenant Governor. Our groups heard him speak repeatedly in support of the denial of the permit, and the Governor’s veto of legislation that would have undercut the denial of the permit.
After taking office, Parkinson spoke about wanting to be known for success in creating renewable and wind energy sources in Kansas. One day after such a speech, he signed a back room deal with the western Kansas power company that allowed construction of (supposedly) one power plant, and that agreement included a commitment to sign legislation that removed the Governor’s office ability to regulate CO2 beyond federal limitations. If permitted by the federal government, that agreement and the Kansas legislation that he subsequently signed will allow a second plant proposal after two years.
The financing for these power plants originally proposed was based on the construction of two or three new plants, with most of the energy being sold to the surrounding states as I described above. Power plants run for something like fifty years, and cost billions. These events (sans federal denials) will in my opinion result in the permitting and construction of these multiple plants – even though the news coverage repeats the claim that Parkinson negotiated a limitation to one new plant. The agreement broke a logjam in legislation, and allowed some weak measures like a tiny commitment to a form of “net metering” (limited to no net generation over a year’s time, and less than 1% of energy). It also helps smooth the way to building some wind power resources.
Here I am showing a kind of political inertia, the difficulty of getting across the need to actually reduce emissions. All these efforts can possibly reduce the rate at which CO2 emissions increase. The fraction of total energy produced by renewable (non net CO2 generating) methods will increase, but only in an environment of total CO2 emissions increases.
How are we to get politicians to understand that increasing the fraction of renewables while increasing net CO2 emissions is not even remotely close to the needed goals to limit to 2 degrees C? Politicians seem to understand the need for an increased fraction of non CO2 generating capacity, but not to understand the long term planning needed. They don’t seem to understand that individual actions must be part of this very deep cut in CO2, not just marginal improvements in the fraction of renewables. They don’t understand the long term curve projections as shown at this conference, and long term consequences of current actions.
In #363, you say that it is a “15-year smooth”. This is not correct. The smooth is actually (2M-1) years i.e. 29 years, a point confirmed by Moore of Moore et al. The caption accordingly remains incorrect.
[Response: Maybe the caption is incorrect when interpreted your way, but to me it is correct. On a technical level, what is meant by 15-year smooth here is that the SSAtrend smoother with a 15-year embedding dimension was used – anyone who cares about this technical stuff can look this up in the paper that is cited as the original source of the graph. But on a more pragmatic level, as it will be interpreted by most non-expert readers, it’s also correct, since the characteristic response of this filter is on a 15-year time scale. For example, it responds to a single 1 sticking out of a row of zeroes with a peak of half-width 15 years and height 1/15, just like a 15-year running average would do (albeit with a different shape of that peak). -stefan]
“The agreement broke a logjam in legislation, and allowed some weak measures like a tiny commitment to a form of “net metering” (limited to no net generation over a year’s time, and less than 1% of energy).”
So, not only is nothing being done, but it’s actually made impossible for significant help to be provided by those willing and able.
That net metering example reminds me of the Feds making it illegal for ranchers to test their cattle for BSE.
If only it were so simple! We do have the vote, our politicians are despite all the defects of our system still accountable to us. Complications come in when, among other things, we allow our educational system to rot. After a generation or so of cultivating cultural dementia by refusing to educate our children in order that we can have an extra few pizzas a year, it becomes fundamentally impossible for us to productively participate in government.
Re #395 Steve McIntyre: your viewpoint is certainly arguable, but so is Stefan’s. It depends on what you mean by “period”, which you may or may not take in the (for most people not very intuitive) Fourier sense.
You demonstrated that (away from data edges) the SSA filter is practically equivalent with a triangular weighted moving-average filter of width 2M-1. This is the convolution of two rectangular moving averages of width M, the Fourier transform of which is the sinc function (sinc x = sin x / x).
The first zero point of the sinc function occurs at a frequency corresponding with (sinusoidal, Fourier) period M. By the convolution theorem, the Fourier of the triangular moving average is the square of the sinc function, having the same first zero point. Beyond this point, function values of the transform are small.
By this view, when interpreting the triangular moving average — or SSA smoothing — as a low-pass spectral filter, the period corresponding to the cut-off frequency is ~M.
Alternatively, you could identify the cut-off frequency as the point where the spectrum takes on half of the peak value, i.e., 0.7 times the distance to the first zero for the rectangular moving average; yielding 1.4M for the cut-off period. Nobody does this AFAIK. For the triangular moving average you then get, indeed, 2M, corresponding to the cut-off of a most closely equivalent low-pass filter. But the equivalence is far from ideal.
I would say the definition of “smoothing period” is conventional for the method used. My two cents.
re post 5 Jul 2009 at 9:01 pm (with inline response):
Last note from Moore I can find says:
“… If you strongly think its actually 21 years then please do go ahead and contact the editors. I have not followed this argument at all, so if I wrote I would be simply quoting your own findings anyway.”
… a strategy to avert an otherwise imminent failure in climate policy is being published by the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Mackinder Programme and the Institute for Science, Innovation & Society at the University of Oxford today (Tuesday 7 July).
How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course argues that the only policies that will work are those which focus directly on improvement in energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of energy supply (called the “Kaya Direct” Approach in the report) rather than on emissions, which is an outcome of these processes.
Professor Gwyn Prins from LSE and the report’s coordinating author said: ‘Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment.’
The report argues that the recent Japanese ‘Mamizu’ climate strategy is the world’s first to start down this real world course in sharp contrast to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the UK Climate Change Act and the US Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation. Professor Steve Rayner, Director of InSIS at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The world has centuries of experience in decarbonising its energy supply and Japan has led the world in policy-driven improvements in energy efficiency. These are the models to which we ought to be looking.’
The paper’s twelve co-authors come from leading research institutes in Europe (England, Germany, Finland), North America (Canada, USA) and Asia (Australia, Japan). ….
#400 Derek (and thank you Hank for importing the link):
My prediction is that if this policy suggestion shows signs of spreading its infection, it will cost the fossil fuel industry more lost sleep. As well, quite a bit of money for the work of hastily constructing a whole new counterargument for why stasis is the most prudent course to adopt, or rather maintain.
It may be impossible for PR professionals to concoct a self-consistent set of rationales explaining why this scheme as well as C&T will equally threaten to eviscerate the middle class, bring industry to its knees and end modern life as we know it. The stress of simultaneously supporting wildly disparate sets of reasons for inaction may well result in straining their PR beyond elasticity, opening further gaps in their logic.
I’m sure the flacks are even now beginning preliminary work on this challenging task.
Meanwhile, leaving aside the fossil fuel industry’s increasing level of anxiety over their cash fountain, we are reminded that changes in our own habits and redirection of our industrial capacity can actually result in beneficial change. For the general industrial world, it directs attention to new markets as well the opportunity to expand existing markets. For the world of energy consumers, a refocus of attention on conservation and more intelligent consumption is an unalloyed good.
A bit more, from dotearth:
Lessons from Japan: An international group of analysts focusing on climate policy says we can look to Japan for lessons in how policies can accelerate a move away from carbon-heavy fuels and toward more efficient use of energy. The authors, led by Steve Rayner of Oxford University and Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics (known for a provocative critique of the Kyoto Protocol), say the last thing one would do is invent layers of regulatory bodies requiring international accord and transparency in arenas like energy policy, where countries traditionally go it alone. As Professor Prins put it in a statement, “Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment.” Japan has come under criticism from some environmentalists, particularly in Europe, for its approach to the next steps under a climate treaty. But the country has stood by its policies, given the name “Mamizu,” which translates to “ genuine clear water.” The approach is based on what can clearly be accomplished, rather than relying on indirect strategies for cutting emissions or boosting energy efficiency, including trading systems for emissions credits.
G Elliott, perhaps you have to first get climate scientists to understand this. Too many times you hear them or posters on this blog lauding China for boosting its renewable share, when her coal capacity is rising too.
Re: Hank (#399) — go up a couple of comments (to #101, the one Moore is referring to in the #104 comment you quoted). He says:
Re: 100. Yes you are correct – usually, as aslak Grinsted [#26] says the non-linear trend filter is close to triangular, and is very similar to the result of low pass filtering with a period of 2M-1.
You asked why we did not point out this in the original paper – the answer is we were not aware (in 2005) that it was so commonly essentially a triangular filter.
G Elliott, perhaps you have to first get climate scientists to understand this. Too many times you hear them or posters on this blog lauding China for boosting its renewable share, when her coal capacity is rising too.
In other words, we must condemn them for not being perfect, because we are, of course.
“… If you strongly think its actually 21 years then please do go ahead and contact the editors. I have not followed this argument at all, so if if I wrote I would be simply quoting your own findings anyway.”
Earlier (comment 104) Moore said:
Re 102. I just looked at the synthesis report and I am not sure that they have even used the method we are talking about – the caption just says 15 year smoothing was used. The Eos paper was not referenced at all in the report. If you are so sure that he used the SSA method with M=11, why don’t you contact the publishers yourself? I certainly hope that if they have used M=11 that they change the caption to 21 year smoothing.
Stefan, the caption is incorrect. It says ‘smoothed over 15 years’. There is no possible ambiguity of interpretation of this. 29 years are involved in your smoothing, so it should say ‘smoothed over 29 years’.
[Response: I think we have to agree to disagree here. It is quite common to characterise filters by their half-power width (as is indeed very familiar for Gaussian filters), since this is more informative about their response than citing the number of points involved in the calculation. -stefan]
Further to the London School of Economics report, news of G8 failure to progress on climate accord:
“The world’s major industrial nations and emerging powers failed to agree Wednesday on significant cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, unraveling an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change, according to people following the talks.”
“If the conditions that established the acceleration continue, then sea level will rise 34 cm over the
21st century. Long time constants in oceanic heat content and increased ice sheet melting imply that the
latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of sea level are probably too low.”
Is it saying that IPCC probably have underestimated sea level rice (as I think) or is it saying something else?
Thanks Martin, It seems clear that she means that IPCC underestimates… however, how trustworthy an extrapolation by constant acceleration is… is… I guess debatable. For one thing it seams like the deviations gets smaller closer to today… what would that do with the analysis?
I have found 3 different versions of the Copenhagen Synthesis Report on the web. The Adobe file properties window shows modified dates of 6/17, 7/1, and 7/7/2009. climatecongress.ku.dk is the 7/1 modified version.
Is there any sort of version number, errata, or change record on this report?
Is there any way of telling versions apart other than looking at Adobe file properties?
How would I know if the version I’m using really is the latest version?
Re #409 Mark says:
8 Jul 2009 at 3:33 pm
“[Response: I think we have to agree to disagree here. It is quite common to characterise filters by their half-power width (as is indeed very familiar for Gaussian filters),”
Indeed, Physics abounds with FWHM measurements of the width of a bandpass.
Agreed, it’s standard practice in optics when describing the bandwidth of optical filters.
Stefan, the caption is incorrect. It says ’smoothed over 15 years’. There is no possible ambiguity of interpretation of this. 29 years are involved in your smoothing, so it should say ’smoothed over 29 years’.
[Response: I think we have to agree to disagree here. It is quite common to characterise filters by their half-power width (as is indeed very familiar for Gaussian filters), since this is more informative about their response than citing the number of points involved in the calculation. -stefan]
I find your recommended half-power period for the SSA filter using M = 15 (29 weights) to be 45.9 years. The half-amplitude period, which is perhaps more useful outside of electronics, is still 33.0 years. See graphs of the amplitude response here.
Wouldn’t it then be more appropriate to call your filter 33- or 46- year smoothing, depending on the measure, rather than 15? Or do you get different values?