Traducción parcial disponible aqui (gracias a Mario Cuellar)
The WSJ claims:
…a review of about 200 different temperature studies was published in 2003 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas…likewise reaffirmed the longstanding consensus that there have been large temperature variations over the past millennium.
The S&B “lit review’ had all the global multiproxy studies in it that were available at the time. These studies showed the past 50 years’ warmth was anomalous. S&B ‘forgot’ to mention this in the text of their paper.
Anyway, looks like the WSJ had a ghostwriter on this editorial.
Thank you for this truly remarksble climate site!
It is my personal view that behind the WSJ views loom the shadows of “faith based science” , the same shadows that appear in the White House war rooms ;there is an origin for the shadows and it is called CNP- the Council for National Policy- What is it? Google it and find out.You will find the personalia who cast the shadows; it is where Sen. Inhofe, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, Dick Chenney,Bob Jones ,John Ashcroft , James Dobson ,Coors ,Bill Frist,Falwell and Rumsfeld hang out.
I love your site and it’s content as always.
I would not be the LEAST bit surprised if it is later discovered that some hack, somewhere, was commissioned to write that drivel for the OPED pages.
Keep up the great work!
This remark does not address the science — which RC has already done in this post — but rather the timing of the editorial since it is hard to avoid politics on this one. Note: I have not been able to read the editorial.
The editorial came out this week when 3 separate bills were up in the Senate to address climate change. Today, the McCain/Lieberman bill, the strongest of the three bills, failed. Yesterday, the Senate passed the Hagel/Pryor bill, the weakest proposed bill. Just for entertainment value, Senator Inhofe (OK-R) called global warming a religion.
Although it is quite disappointing that the WSJ should come out with this misleading and demonstrably false editorial, the timing, at least from their point of view, is clear enough.
None of these bills are expected to get ratified in the House.
Thank you for the piece by piece rebuttal of the WSJ op-ed. This is one for sons, friends who don’t normally concern themselves with these matters, and my brother. But the detailed rebuttal is more: it characterizes as nothing else could have done the depth of anti science ideology that is at work behind the scenes in government policy setting today.
It is also astonishing that the Journal would have submitted to have such things published, without the opportunity (among the climate community) to question or review it. Perhaps that will still occur.
Editorial link [from Quark Soup].
Thank you very much for this excellent post!
Thanks, Dano, for the link. I see my remarks in #4 were correct.
I have to wonder — and I would like to solicit opinions on this from the RC scientists who initiate the posts — why Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propoganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change.
Any ideas? I’ll understand if you want to avoid the subject — but, there are many, many results that give evidence of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate. Yet, time and time again they focus in on Mann, disregarding most other results pointing to the same conclusions.
Their narrow focus in itself is evidence that they don’t know what they are talking about, but making the “Hockey Stick” results the poster boy for economic calamity if we do anything about GHG emissions is strange, is it not?
I think that this government insider cuts through all the nonsense and gets to hear of the matter…
As usual, a lucid, concise and unarguable (for those who care to listen) debunking of the standard global warming sceptics’ arguments. I have already linked your site to my homepage. The politics of global warming just won’t go away and you must find it very hard to keep to the science and refrain from obvious comment. The politics around this issue are truly Machiavellian. It is a pity that American businesses can’t emulate those from the UK who have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, asking that the government taking global warming more seriously and urgently, pledging their support for such action, and recognising the likelihood of great business opportunities. If they did, you might have less scepticism in the financial press, once they too realise the economic gains from the low carbon economy, and you would be spared having to write further rebuttals. (Prince of Wales’s Business and the Environment Programme http://www.cpi.cam.ac.uk/bep/downloads/CLG_pressrelease_letter.pdf)
I figure the WSJ, concerned with Wall Street, a big gambling joint, is mainly concerned with people buying stocks at high prices & having stocks go up. Since stocks are increasingly detached from the full economy (only what value people put on things & money & phoney-balony), the WSJ is likely unconcerned about the economy, productivity, the environment (on which the economy rests), human life, or any other aspect of the world regular people are concerned about. It certainly is not concerned with moral values, such as telling the truth & helping the world.
I would hope the WSJ would do some more interviews with Amory Lovins.
Wasn’t that against your own policy? To dissect a politics and economics journal oped? I think this was one of your statements on this page and it was already the second exception (after Mr. Crichtons novel).
[Response:Nope. We’re allowed to dissect science (or, in the case of WSJ, something masquerading as science) wherever it appears – William]
I think you might have a point on this one, if those National Institutes are truly independent.
However, I don’t like the prospect that some government full of people not even remotely aware of science (given the other bills against science that have been entered) has the right to restrict anything. The costs for this would be too high…
“I have to wonder — and I would like to solicit opinions on this from the RC scientists who initiate the posts — why Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propoganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change.”
The denialists like to personalize things, attack a few people and their research over and over again. For one thing, it makes it look like there are just a few people one the GW side, when there are really a large number. It also feeds a fantasy, if it weren’t for Mann and a few others nobody would have heard of global warming.
Re #8 (and to expand on #13): I also think that a basic strategy of the global warming deniers is to focus on one aspect of the science over which there is some combination of real and manufactured dispute and then try to make people think that this is the one crucial piece of evidence on which the whole theory of anthropogenic warming rests…and thus that the dispute over this aspect throws the whole theory into question. (Before Mann, the attacks seemed to be leveled primarily on the discrepancy between surface and satellite observations of warming.)
Readers of RealClimate may know that the theory rests on several independent lines of evidence so that even if one single piece of evidence is found to be incorrect, it will do little to undermine the foundation of the theory. However, the general public probably does not understand this.
It would be difficult for the deniers to attack all of the pillars upon which the theory rests at the same time…Much easier to pick one pillar and launch a concerted attack, along with a PR campaign to make the public believe that this is the crucial piece of evidence on which the theory rests.
why [is] Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propaganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change[?]
The propaganda campaign creates an icon around which emotional responses are formulated. Enlightenment principles are not used, rather emotional reactions are solicited. That is the nature of what is happening here.
If you carefully read the WSJ op-ed, you’ll see some fairly careful crafting of half-truths and phrases designed to elicit emotion: you’re supposed to be astonished at the initial political reference, laughing at the ridiculousness of skating on the Thames, and then – lastly – outraged at the duplicitousness of those darned scientists – gosh, don’t they know climate is always changing?!?
Outraged is enough, and is what the IndyFundeds are trying to do when they attack a created icon. Of course there are other studies, but they are doing the domino-falling strategy: knock down the icon and all the others will fall too (politically).
The Internets has grown enormously since the strategy began, which is starting to negate the whole disinformation campaign. Information moves both horizontally (out to you and me) and vertically (up to policy-makers). Ideas are shared on the Internets, and as a result scientists are becoming more effective at distributing useful information upwards. This site is on the cusp of this information movement, and can be said to be both emergent and adaptive; both of these terms we should become more familiar with, BTW.
I think as all the comments and I can tell you that the situation in France (and undoubtely overall in Europe) is the same than in US concerning the sceptics arguments.
From another side your answers to the satellites measurements and to the Arctic sea ice are not very convincing.
What are for you the definition of lower troposphere (0-7800m?) and what is the consensus about the satellite-derived temperature increasing in the lower troposhere(0.132 °C/decade?).If these numbers are right how can we compare surface temperatures and 4000m (mean altitude of lower troposphere) temperatures?
For the Arctic ice what is the actual consensus concerning the mean evolution of ice area and its thickness?
And why are you mentioning Antarctic peninsula when WSJ is speaking of Arctic zone?
I think that some of your arguments should be ” a little” improved.
But I’m recognizing also that this is not your only job.
Great work. The Wall Street Journal has its areas of excellence, and it is sad to see those dragged down by such blatant propaganda.
Ugh. Not surprising really from the WSJ editorial page. They are true right-wing zealots. But still contemptible. What is most disturbing is the reach of so many disinformation outlets – the WSJ, Fox News, on and on, compared to the tiny reach of a few blogs. It is no wonder there are so many skeptics in the public, when maintstream media outlets broadcast this garbage.
Well, as I see it, we have relatively good arguments on both sides and I count it that size doesn’t matter. So, there are deniers and affirmers, both politicing with the passion of true believers.
A few years ago, any dispute wasn’t even taken serious, so I don’t think that the Global Warming advocates are somehow in the minority or disrepresented in the media.
However, the one thing I want to have is a climate programm that could predict the next 10 years pretty neat to the actual temperature. If it can do so, it’d be easier to trust statistics.
Since I have seen that even weather-forecast (only a limited number of days and then accuracy goes down) can’t produce such things, why can the MBH do an even more complex thing, calculating the mean temperature curve for the whole planet?
[Response:The IPCC Scientific Assessment in 1995 predicted continued warming, which has happened. Hansen forecast the cooling to be caused by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, got it dead on. Climate is different from weather, it is more predictable while weather is chaotic.]
I acknowledge that it can reconstruct the past and that we can try to work on a hypothesis of the future out of that, but more it can’t be.
Statistics are not self-evident scientific facts as I have just learned in my course on quantum mechanics.
And even if the MBH is correct, how much reduction of which molecules do we speak of? (CO2, NO etc. and what amount (basically compared to factory/power plant/civil traffic output))
This is called threat assessment and I can’t read anything about it, anywhere. If this violates your discussion topics (because it tends to be a bit political, but imo still very scientific), I am sorry. there is no need to answer it :)
This is scientifically undisputed and well-established physics, which has been known since in the year 1896 the Swedish Nobel prize winner Svante Arrhenius calculated the climatic effect of a rise in CO2.
Only his calculations were a factor four higher than using modern day calculations (eg Modtran). The reason? Poor data handling of infrared observations. But nobody audited as he was a Nobel Prize winner.
[Response: The physics was correct. The input data were not sufficient for the precision we have now. – gavin] [Addendum: Arrhenius paper from 1896 states 4-6 ºC warming for CO2-doubling; the uncertainty range in the last IPCC report is 1.5-4.5 ºC. – stefan]
Thanks for going over this ground once again.
Wall Street is indeed a gambling joint, and unlike, say, Las Vegas, it provides an immensly valuable service to the world economy in moving capital flows where they will be most useful. The Wall Street Journal understands this; and understands that a lot of people on Wall Street are betting a lot of money on their best estimate of the odds.
There are now very long odds that human activity is warming the atmosphere; and it is substantially odds-on that this warming is increasing the risk of damaging extreme weather events. Trying to persuade their readers to bet against long odds is not expected activity from a Journal that is a leading and relatively very authoritative guide to the markets. They rightly publish commentators “contrarian” views of market trends because these are part of the necessary give and take in forming the market’s conclusions. But “contrarian” views are rarely found in the Wall Street Journal’s editorials, and never when the mainstream view is so painstakingly solidly founded in analysis.
Whether the Wall Street Journal is right-wing, flying wing, left-wing or whatever is irrelevant: if they go on lending their authority to proven bad analysis, their authority will melt like the snows on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Re #17: “The Wall Street Journal has its areas of excellence, and it is sad to see those dragged down by such blatant propaganda.”
I think it is important to distinguish between the WSJ’s reporting and their editorials. Yes, their reporting is often very good (as the article on the whole Soon/Baliunas fiasco that was linked to in this post shows). However, their editorials are quite uniformly the sort of garbage that one sees deconstructed here. I have almost never met a WSJ editorial on a subject that I know enough about to judge that wasn’t chock full of lies, distortions, and half-truths. So, this editorial is no surprise to those of us who are familiar with the WSJ editorial page.
WSJ=WALLSTREET=CIA=Iraq=911+(more of the same forever after). So duh?
Excellent work! You remind me that the tribe of those who know is growing and that together we will bring about the rise of democracy once again. And next time ’round she will be more robust and resilient. Thank you so much for your clearheadedness and bravery.
I second the comments of Joel Shore above.
The news reporting of the WSJ tends to be very good, while the editorial writing is laughable.
It’s actually an interesting question why the Dow Jones Company (which owns the WSJ) publishes the kind of BS that that one always finds in their editorials. The editorials are so uniformly absurd and contain so many obvious falsehoods that they surely do nothing to advance the right wing causes that the Dow Jones company evidently supports.
Anyway, the WSJ’s circulation is lagging and I for one refuse to give them a dime of my money – I subscribe to the Financial Times which has good news analysis and reasonable editorials.
“We will staunchly defend the science against distortions and misrepresentations, be they intentional or not”.
This is the major reason I like RealClimate. IMO this is the biggest reason that Dr Mann is being singled out.
Climate scientists have the unfortunate role of being the bearers of bad news. Simply advancing accurate climate science makes scientists unpopular to some. WSJ and the political interests it is allied with are worried about the regulatory implications of accurate climate science. Industry/conservatives would prefer that this bad news not be known ergo the campaign against the science that is showcased in this WSJ editorial. In the current political climate extremism is seen as no vice by the climate science contrarians. One of the things that seems to draw their ire is speaking out the way Dr Mann and RealClimate is. They also seem to beat on Paul Erhlich like he is a pinata.
Because an editorial it is an opinion piece it is technically not factual reporting and different standards apply. That is why the WSJ straight reporting is more accurate and moderate but the WSJ editorials can be so extreme.
RealClimate keep fighting for the truth and the scientific method!
WRT 21 22 and 24, the WSJ editorial page speaks to the heart, the news pages to the head. This has been very carefully thought out.
Did you get my recent post. It was a question related to the last paragraph in your article, i.e.
The WSJ editors then try to reverse nearly two decades of scientific research by promoting a qualitative graph (which is not actually based on any real data) that was offered simply as a schematic by the IPCC back in 1990:
So what would be a fair representation of how most scientists view the climate of the past 1,000 years? We’d suggest the graph nearby, which we reprint exactly as it appeared in the first report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (hardly a group of oil-funded hacks) in 1990. It shows that our own warming period is neither unique nor all that hot.
The WSJ may prefer to use 15 year-old guesses on which to base their opinion, but the scientific community has an understandable preference towards up-to-date and quantitified research.
I was interested to know what data became available post 1990 that wasn’t available before 1990. I think this is important because whatever it was it appears to have completely overturned the well-established scientific and historical thinking on past climate.
[Response: There is an awful lot of data and methods since 1990. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MWP_and_LIA_in_IPCC_reports for some discussion of this – William]
#19: “This is called threat assessment and I can’t read anything about it, anywhere.”
There was a conference held at the begining of this year that went over this sort of thing, it was subtitled “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change” and you can find the presentation [slides] that were presented at http://www.stabilisation2005.com/programme.html
There’s a lot of interesting things about possible thresholds, stabilisation levels for CO2 and emission reduction pathways and the potential costs.
Also I remember an American climate researcher [Schlesinger I think] was going around giving a presentation on reducing CO2 [and spending money to do so] as a form of Insurance policy against the risk of climate change. In particular he showed that it would be a lot cheaper to make a determined start now, rather than to wait for another decade or so and then have to reduce emissions much more quickly.
So there is plenty of that sort of stuff around in the scientific literature/community.
It is puzzling that critics of M&M (McIntyre and McKitrick)repeatedly refer to their work as an alternative reconstruction. I base this on two ideas:
1. M&M say they are not offering an alternative reconstruction.
2. The logic that seems to be offered on RealClimate about this issue sounds like “your graph is wrong, so my graph must be right”
I suggest that neophytes to the hockey stick debate reread the relevant portions of the above rebuttle of the Wall Street Journal editorial with these ideas in mind. The main critique of M&M begins about halfway down the article portion of this page.
[Response: I wouldn’t characterise the WSJ as ‘critics’ and yet they clearly think that M&M are offering an alternate reconstruction. It’s just one more thing they get wrong… -gavin]
Re #28: The citation for a paper that Schlesinger coauthored on this work is G. Yohe, N. Andronova, and M. Schlesinger, “To Hedge or Not Against an Uncertain Climate Future?”, Science, Vol. 306, pp. 416-417 (October 15, 2004). It’s an interesting paper. Basically, what they did is assumed that in another 30 years (2035), we would know enough to have a temperature target that we would know we want to stay below. (This finesses the problem of the costs associated with a given amount of climate change because they don’t try to calculate any such costs directly but instead just assume that there is a temperature above which the costs climb steeply enough that we don’t want to go there!)
They then used an integrated climate-economic model and calculated the optimal price that we should put on emissions now in order to minimize the costs associated with meeting such a temperature target. They did this for a variety of different temperature targets and values of the climate sensitivity. What they showed is that “Hedging effectively ‘buys insurance’ against future adjustment costs and is extremely robust across most possible futures, especially when compared with a wait-and-see strategy that would eschew mitigation over the first third of this century.” They also found that the cost
I have got a question regarding the rate of adaption to new temperatures by plants and ecospheres in general. F.e. if an Ice Age were about us, how long did the fauna and flora need to adapt to the new circumstances?Â´
Is there an estimation of how long this would take?
I agree with much of what Jeff Miller says in post 24 above. But I don’t think that one conclude that, merely because the WSJ editorial pages advance obvious falsehoods, this therefore does nothing to advance right wing causes.
Eli Rabbett is on track in comment 26, though this WSJ editorial appeals to something baser than “the heart”.
In the end, I hope David Heigham’s analysis in conclusion of post 21 proves correct. But it won’t happen without a lot of effort.
Re: Gavin’s response to #29
Are you now saying M&M don’t offer an alternate reconstruction? (What else could this one more thing they got wrong be?)
RealClimate’s WSJ rebuttle clearly describes the M&M critique as a reconstruction.
[Response: M&M specifically disclaim that their work is a reconstruction (likely because it does predict rather odd things if you take it literally). They do claim that their work is what you get if you do MBH “correctly” (MBH, of course, say that M&M have simply got it wrong) – William]
Plants move in response to temps for which they are not adapted. The speed of movement is dependent upon many factors – type of seed dispersal [wind, bird, gravity], soil types, climate, etc. There is no one time.
I still surprised people consider Mann’s work (or any work other covering the last 600-1000 yrs) as a “reconstruction” considering the limited number, coverage, and accuracy of the proxies.
[Response: 3. reconstruction – an interpretation formed by piecing together bits of evidence. -gavin]
Re #31: Within the last year or so there was a very well-publicized study on this issue, I think http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121_fs.html&content_filetype=pdf. The upshot is that the current rate of climate change outpaces the ability of many species to adapt, and therefore we can expect additional large-scale extinction (on top of the “great extinction” that is already underway from a variety of anthropogenic causes). I don’t believe RC has posted anything directly relating to this subject as yet.
By the way, I was able to find this study very quickly using Google Scholar at http://scholar.google.com. It’s still in beta, but I’ve found it very useful. In particular for us amateurs, the feature that shows all citations of each article with a single click is not only a real time-saver, but gives an indication of the level of related research activity and to some degree the importance (or level of controversy) of the cited study’s findings. Can I suggest to the RC team that Google Scholar be added to the Science Links list?
“I have got a question regarding the rate of adaption to new temperatures by plants and ecospheres in general. F.e. if an Ice Age were about us, how long did the fauna and flora need to adapt to the new circumstances? –
Is there an estimation of how long this would take? ”
Flora and fauna appear, in certain cases, to have responded pretty quickly to rapid climate changes. Take for example, the response to the Younger Dryas (a cold snap at the end of the last ice age in case anyone is wondering). At two lake sites in Europe, there seems to be a reaction that tracks the changes in the ice cores by as little as a decade and at most a couple of hundred years.
One little summary paper of this research (though a cautionary note to anyone who reads this paper – there are some minor inconsistencies with the detailed reports on the Krakenes and Gerzensee projects):
Birks, H.H. and Ammann, B. (2000) Two terrestrial records of rapid climatic change during the glacial-Holocene transition (14,000-9,000 calendar years BP) from Europe. PNAS, 97, 1390-1394.
Two independent multidisciplinary studies of climatic change during the glacial-Holocene transition (ca, 14,000-9,000 calendar yr B.P.) from Norway and Switzerland have assessed organism responses to the rapid climatic changes and made quantitative temperature reconstructions with modern calibration data sets (transfer functions). Chronology at Krakenes, western Norway, was derived from calibration of a high-resolution series of C-14 dates. Chronologies at Gerzensee and Leysin, Switzerland, were derived by comparison of delta(18)O in lake carbonates with the delta(18)O record from the Greenland Ice Core Project, Both studies demonstrate the sensitivity of terrestrial and aquatic organisms to rapid temperature changes and their value for quantitative reconstruction of the magnitudes and rates of the climatic changes. The rates in these two terrestrial records are comparable to those in Greenland ice cores, but the actual temperatures inferred apply to the terrestrial environments of the two regions.
Regarding ecosystemic adaptation to climate change: (sorry, no links for anything I’m going to write here, but you can probably look up these ideas)
1. Note that many mobile animal species will be pressured to change their distributions, but the plants they depend upon for habitat, food, etc, are unlikely to move so quickly.
2. There is a lot of evidence already of behavioural ‘adaptation’ (at least changes in spatial and temporal distributions [e.g., flowering time]) to the last couple of decades’ warmth. One that I would like to hear about is coral. There are many species, undoubtedly with differing tolerances for temperature, salinity, acidity, depth, etc. I think some research shows corals expelling their symbiotic algae at higher temperatures, which will make growing more difficult, leading to greater difficulties in keeping the productive population at the proper depth, and they’ve got decreased ability to build their calcareous skeletons (due to the dissolving CO2) on top of all that. Many corals are unlikely to adapt; the selection we should see most will be for variants among species that tolerate the stresses better than those that may have been better competitors and dominant (and providing the most habitat) under recent conditions. I hope there is a lot of work documenting changing species compositions in and around coral reefs.
WRT 32: Well, what passes for a heart on Wall Street.
Re #31 and others
I have wondered about the ecological effects of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) also. For the non-scientist or non-ecologist, climate change in the past has led to geographical sifts in ecological communities, some species adapting, others not. Climate change is considered to have been a driver of evolutionary changes where some species have gone extinct and some others changed. The rate of change is a good question.
I have asked about ACC and ecological changes here on Realclimate. Realclimate and other commenters gave me some links, to return the favor here is some of the info I was given and I found myself.
There was a publication released last year by the Pew Center (Pew is a charitable foundation whose main focus is education) “Coral Reefs & Global Climate Change” a summary of the current science on this issue. This has a good summary of current info:
Impact of Anthropogenic CO2 on the CaCO3 System in the Oceans, This talks about the effect of CO2 as having a direct harmful effect besides the climate change. This is a Science article but its here on a non-subscription site:
Decline of the marine ecosystem caused by a reduction in the Atlantic overturning circulation. The abstract is here the rest is subscription only:
The SAHFOS site has info about climate changes effect on plankton and a couple of articles from Science and Nature. Its at: http://22.214.171.124/
For the Arctic
Climate-driven regime shifts in the biological communities of arctic lakes is at the PNAS site. This article has linked ecological changes that have already happened to ACC, and as far as I know most papers are about future effects of ACC on ecosystems. The abstract is here the rest is subscription only:
For mountain and glacial regions
All Downhill From Here? This is from Science but its on the web at a nonsubscription site at: http://meteora.ucsd.edu/cap/all_downhill_sci12mar04.pdf
GLORIA is an observation program to watch ecological effects of ACC on alpine regions:
It cites many scientific papers that have a lot of info on these issues. A very informative one was: The Changing Face of the Alpine World in the Global Change Newsletter. Its on the web on a nonsubscription site at:
The NRDC website does have a list of climate change studies. Because the NRDC is a political advocacy group there is some spin but it does list a variety of studies from peer-reviewed journals like Science and Nature and from groups like the National Academy of Science from 2000 to 2004 and its easier to have a lot of papers on one site. Global Warming Studies an Annotated Bibliography- A Summary of Recent Findings on Changing Global Climate is at:
With a personal focus on the sciences of cosmology, astrophysics, electromagnetics and astrophysics I am quite convinced that the warming of our planet is quite natural and inevitable. Ice ages and global warming are the result of natural forces beyond man’s control. The fact is that the earth routinely goes these cycles and has done so long before human life entered the scene. Few realize that our entire solar system is swinging through space passing through areas of greater or lesser energy fields from cosmic particles and background radiation. The pattern of the frequency with which we pass through these fields and the effects they have on our magnetosphere and mean temperatures can be measured in the geologic and ice core samples across our planet. Our own sun impacts upon our magnetosphere and consequently our ozone layer depletion as well. Holes in the ozone can be directly attributed to coronal mass ejections that blast away these holes and excite the molecules in our upper atmosphere such that they rise and escape into space. I won’t argue that our added gases may contribute to the warming to some very, very small degree, but keep in mind, the ash plume from a good volcanic eruption such as the last big Pinatubo eruption eclipses into insignificants the amount of pollutants added to the atmosphere by human activity.
Frankly, it seems apparent to me that the human activity blaming segment of the Global warming debate is a thinly veiled segment of the Green Society types who hate any human activity that distorts; pollutes; or in any way defaces the planet, treating it like a sacred goddess rather than a non sentient thing. This is way they resort to news reporting rather than scientific proof with peer reviewed data. They want to win the debate of public sentiment because the scientific community (of which I am a member) is not on their side. They simply lack credible evidence that this warming cycle is anything but natural and normal. Having said that however, pollution is a threat to life and health and needs to be curtailed down to healthful levels. This does NOT mean that industry and technology need to be curtailed, only made cleaner.
[Response: You make the same mistake that underlies the WSJ editorial, you appear to associate scientific results with political agendas and subsequently dismiss results that appear to conflict with your world view. Unfortunately, radiative transfer is immune to political pressure and exists independently of any plan people propose to deal (or not) with the situation. The physics of the greenhouse effect are well understood. Unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gases (at least over the last few hundred thousand years) continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and the global climate (land surface, ocean, glaciers, stratosphere) continues to respond as predicted by theory and models. You can choose to dismiss all this as coincidence, but the balance of evidence is clear. What you decide to do about it is up to you, but denying there is a ongoing and growing impact of anthropogenic climate change is foolish. This is, however, a long term problem and it isn’t going to go away, so you will probably have to face it at some point. -gavin]
[Response 2: The comment suggests that ice ages and global warming have the same cause. Ice ages are caused by periodic variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun (that’s basic textbook material that I need not explain to an astrophysicist). These are called Milankovich cycles. As astronomical cycles they are predictable into the future and will cause another ice age probably in around 50,000 years (that depends on where the threshold for glaciation is, and what future CO2 levels will be at that time), but there is no way the Milankovich cycles could explain the current global warming. A simplistic conclusion of the style “if ice ages are natural, the current global warming must also be natural” is not science (sorry). -stefan]
Thanks for the clarification. Please note, however, that there is a wall between the reporting and the editorial page.
The author’s comments reflects a common confusion that appears to be widespread in the general public. Namely, that ozone depletion and global warming (the green house effect) are the same or almost the same thing. While it is true that changing stratospheric ozone levels do impact the planets radiative balance (and vica versa) it is a 2nd order issue and global warming and ozone depletion should be viewed as two separate issues.
Regarding Ozone depletion.
The mechanism behind polar ozone depletion is VERY WELL UNDERSTOOD and has nothing at all to do with solar flares somehow selectively blasting stratospheric ozone molecules into space. it is well-established (through satellite, aircraft, and ground-based measurements, as well as laboratory measurements and modelling studies)
that chlorine containing compounds (mainly CFC’s) that find their way into the stratosphere are the main factor (which are Not released by volcanoes).
The reason that most ozone depletion occurs around the poles (mainly the Antarctic pole) is really the result of a complex interlay between natural and anthropogenic factors. Chlorine is quite reactive so if you release it in the lower atmosphere
it quickly reacts with something and gets effectively neutralised. CFS contain chlorine and are quite inactive, which is one of the reasons they found widespread use in industry. So if one releases CFC’s in the lower atmosphere they can survive to be transported into the stratosphere (the region of the atmosphere starting 12-14 km). One thing that does break down CFC’s is ultra-violet light which increases in intensity as one moved higher in the atmosphere. This will breakdown the CFC molecules releasing chlorine or producing chlorine compounds which can then can attack ozone molecules. One Cl atom can destroy numerous O3 molecules in a catalytic cycle but under normal conditions the CL will eventually react with
other molecules present and form an inert compound, a so-called chlorine resovior.
This limits the amount of damage Cl can do in the tropics and mid-latitudes.
In the polar regions other factors come into play. Each winter the sun goes away and a strong ‘polar vortex’ forms. This vortex can isolate polar stratospheric air from mixing with mid-latitude air. Additionally, temperatures in the polar stratosphere become so cold that nitrate compounds and water can condense to form so-called polar stratospheric clouds. These cloud particles act as converters. Heterogeneous chemical reactions occurring on and in these particles actually act to convert inactive forms of Cl into active forms. This goes on all winter. The degree of processing depend allot on the meteorological conditions in and around the vortex but especially around the souther pole it can be a efficient process. No O3 depletion occurs yet though. Sunlight is needed to drive the ozone cycle. However when the sun returns one can have a sitution where alot of active Cl componds have built up and wammo they then do to town on the ozone.
This picture I described (in a highly simplified fashion) has been known in essence for over 15 years now has been put togther through the proper process of peer-reviewed research involving numereous researchers and independent lines of evidence. I would say the same about the current picture of greenhouse gasses and climate shange.
-We know we release more CO2 than volcanos.
-Volcans do not add much in the way of ozone depleting chemicals into the stratosphere.
-The ash (even that lofted into the stratospherc by a big erruption) settles out pretty quickly (days to weeks)-
-What stays around for months (years) is the hase of small H2SO4/H2O droplets that form as a result of sulfur compounds that volcanos are prone to releasing. These can have a limited effect on ozone levels (by serving as hetrogeneous reaction sites) and can reflect enough of the sun’s light back into space to cause a notable global cooling. It is work noting that the eruption of Mt. Pinitubo mentioned by the author of post 41 served as a very nice `test case’ for those researchs in the fields of atmosperic chemistry and radiative transfer.
#41, Hi, my English is rather elemental, so I cannot express as I would like:
although you are partially right, system Earth has never never had in the past the same chemical composition like it has today. It means a lot, because these changes in physical and chemical features lead to different ways of thermodynamic behaviour.
The Earth is not a closed system. But many man-made changes produce more changes, and most of the new chemical compunds cannot escape.
Of course natural events are not the point of discussion. They are there, we know that.
It happens that the Earth is much more sensitive to man-made changes than it was considered not so long ago. I remember in the 70Â´s some colleagues saying the Sea has infinite capacity to clean itself, and so the atmosphere, and so on.
The issue is not only GHG. Is much more than that. Albedo, for example, changes with land, ice, and other component changes. There are so many factors we are not able to take in account
What has to do I do not know what green society with common sense? There are lots of crazy people everywhere, so please do not put all those who care about doing things rationally in the same bag with those who believe Earth is a godess.
Why is not people questioning chemists for their models? Because we cannot see atoms nor molecules. Climate Scientists are too much attacked because of their field of activity, which is so difficult to understand.
I am no climatologist, so I apologize for my possible mistaken views.
Maybe one of the reasons why so many are so virulent against Earth Science scientists, is that we never had Environmental Education as subject when we were kids.
Personally, I believe that before mankind makes something to stop the disastrous behaviour, an asteroid will hit us, or a major earthquake and tsunamis, volcanoes, etc., will end with the World as we know.
Meanwhile, people like me, who do not believe in Earth as a godess, but think man is acting as a stupid being, we have to try to understand which is the best way to interact with this system Earth.
[Last week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies expressed the consensus view that “there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring” and that “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”. And just last week, USA Today editorialized that “not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming”.
It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that “the scientific case….looks weaker all the time”.]
In the paragraph above, you say “consensus view” – That is not science, but just a bunch who have not done the work agreeing to something. You note that “USA editorialized” – again another newspaper’s view is not a scientific argument against WSJ. USA Today did not do an “overwhelming” study. The statement “it is likely” is not a strong scientific argument.
Later on I see the words “patently incorrect”. I have yet to figure out what that means.
Actually Gerald, they have done the work, and your not knowing about it sort of tells everything about you. You could, of course, start with the IPCC TAR, http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/. That was put together by an expert group with ample representation from the various national academies, however, it is a bit old, since a great deal of work has been done and published in the last five years. If you want to look at the US alone, just go to the National Academy Press site and search on climate, http://lab.nap.edu/nap-cgi/discover.cgi?term=climate&restric=NAP&GO.x=0&GO.y=0
you will find many reports upon which the National Academy statement was based. A particularly useful one for you might be http://books.nap.edu/catalog/10139.htmland and the summary http://books.nap.edu/html/climatechange/summary.html
If you want to know what the British Royal Society based its statment on, why you can look at http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=2676
The guys at the WSJ are not stupid. They are not in denial. They are just milking the oil and coal cow until it dies, and then they figure they will find some way to make money solving the problem they are currently choosing to deny exists. But they skipped their science courses in school and don’t know that it will be too late, The show is over. The frog is in the pot, the heat is on, and the water is starting to boil, and the frog still has not jumpted and will not jump. It will die, along with millions of people, animals, plants, etc..
And what is all this crap about whether or not it is a natural occurence or a one caused by humans? Who cares? What does it matter?
We are all going to cook no matter what the cause. Unless your are fundamentalist and are happily awaiting the end of days, everyone who is capable of thinking more than a five years ahead, knows already that the world is doomed. Our politicians won’t say it, it is too much of downer.
Your children will not go to the beach in the summer. They will be living underground if they are rich enough. The beach itself will be somewhere 10-20 miles inland from the current shoreline. 95% of the world’s population will be homeless because of the rise in sea level.
How long do you think your air conditioner is going to keep running?
Great work. I’m proud to cite it.
This is how science is done. Take notes, IDers. And dollars to donuts that the vast majority of ID proponents will reject this, too. Any takers?…
Eli, you are right about one part – I am not and do not pretend to do climate research. I am just reading commentary by many who are also not doing it, and I would like to find a good study somewhere. When I said most have not done the work, I meant that very few have actually done a thorough study of Global Climate. I stand by that. One of the references you made in your response (indicated below) is exactly what I meant. They are just quoting the IPCC Report, which is being questioned significantly now. So they go around in circles repeating reports
[Climate Change – What we know and what we need to know
25 Aug 2002
Royal Society meeting held on 12 and 13 December 2001:]
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