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One year on…

Filed under: — group @ 28 December 2005

RealClimate has been online for just over a year, and so this is probably a good time to review the stories we’ve covered and assess how well the whole project is working out.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve tackled a 100+ scientific topics that range from water vapour feedbacks, the carbon cycle, climate sensitivity, satellite/surface temperature records, glacier retreat, climate modelling to hurricanes. We’ve had guest postings that span questions of Martian climate change to Arctic ozone depletion and solar forcing. We’ve crossed virtual swords with Michael Crichton, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, George Will, Nigel Lawson, Fox News and assorted documentary makers (though only one person ever threatened to sue us). Hopefully our contributions have interested, intrigued and occasionally amused (at least a few of you…).

In terms of feedback, our surprisingly frequent media mentions indicate that we’ve been at least partially successful in our original aim of helping inform journalists about the science, but there is clearly still a long way to go. We’ve been pleased to see links to RealClimate postings occuring frequently in other climate-related forums and our mailbag continues to be full of questions and suggestions for topics (please keep them coming!). It’s also been extremely uplifting to find so many people who are not professional scientists interested enough to post such detailed comments to the articles.

Overall, we have been more praised than vilified. We certainly haven’t kept everyone happy, though even those who aren’t happy still pay attention to what is posted. Indeed, there are websites that pore over our ruminations with the dedication heretofore only applied to the sayings of the Delphic Oracle (unlike the oracle though, we make no claims to prophecy and don’t encode hidden meanings in our responses).

While we’ve aspired to being a reasonably authoritative resource, we have occasionally slipped and used more personal language than was really necessary. It is difficult at times to remember that although blogsphere conversations happen very quickly, they stay around forever, and so a sober style is most appropriate. However, moderation of comments on this site has been absolutely necessary to avoid the descent into the schoolyard behaviour all too often found in unmoderated forums. This task is not however an exact science, and there have errors of both overzealousness and undermoderation. For that, we apologise.

Being involved in RealClimate has certainly increased our profiles in the climate community and our visibility in the mainstream media, though it’s not yet clear whether it is helping or hindering our own research. Blogging keeps us up-to-date with many different areas of the science, but there is a time penalty to be paid, although being a group blog makes that (just about) managable. The patience (and occasional tacit support) of our employers has been admirable.

It is clear to us that there was (and continues to be) a large demand for a resource such as RealClimate and we encourage colleagues in this field and others to set up similar projects that allow scientists to communicate their enthusiasm and knowledge (and the uncertainties) directly to the interested public. We can all help improve scientific literacy by letting the public in on the conversations that we normally keep confined to the coffee breaks at big meetings or after-seminar beers. As highlighted in a recent Nature article, the scientific community as a whole has not been an early adopter of the latest technologies now available on the web. Some innovations are being used (online only journals, open review, a few blogs) but there is certainly a lot more scope available. How about a society-run purely online ‘rapid-reaction’ journal that could allow the comment and reply concerning controversial studies to happen within weeks rather than the months to years that are needed now? How about a serious attempt to get a comprehensive system for online data citation set up so that data generators can get the recognition that they deserve while and data that would otherwise be lost on some obsolete computer storage device can still make a contribution? How about more subfield-specific blogs for improving communication within the scientific community itself? These and other ideas need support and enthusiasm to get off the ground, but our experience with RealClimate demonstrates that it can be done, and indeed, done rather easily.

Looking forward to 2006, you can expect a mild make-over of the site to reduce some of the clutter on the front page, a better indexing system to find frequently asked about topics, a few more basic issues posts (ideas and suggestions are welcome!) and hopefully more guest postings on interesting issues. If you are a scientist who has just spent an hour on the phone with a journalist in order to have one sentence quoted, think about sending us what you think they should have used! If you think your subject is being misunderstood, send us the article that will straighten things out. But, at all times, we hope to continue to add context to what you read about climate in the media, since, let’s face it, however you feel about the issue, it isn’t going to go away.

And finally, an end of year review is not complete without a thank you to the people that have made contributions to the whole project: Ryan Walker for technical assistance; guest commentators James Annan, Corinne Le Quéré, Beate Liepert, Juerg Luterbacher, Loretta Mickley, Raimund Muscheler, Natassa Romanou, Bill Ruddiman, Jeff Severinghaus, Drew Shindell, Stienn Sigurdsson, Steve Sherwood, Michael Tobis and David Vaughan for making our jobs so much easier; all of the commenters for asking interesting questions, pointing out problems and furthering the debate; and of course, you the readers for, well, being the whole point.

Happy New Year.


80 Responses to “One year on…”

  1. 51
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    You’re doing a great job. Please don’t waste time taking on any contrarians here, at ClimateHaHa.com, or anywhere else. That’s their most recent strategy, I guess. Get climate scientists to waste their time. Plus, you’ve already addressed whatever legitimate skeptical criticisms (& even wacko ones) they may have had re the hockey stick, etc.

    RE #6 & RC being unfair to skeptics: My impression is there aren’t many skeptics left, only contrarians, as least as far as GW in general goes. There are, of course, still skeptics on side issues and details, such as whether GW has started contributing to hurricane intensity yet, just as there’s a lot of debate among evolution scientists on the particulars. Such debate in no way detracts from the basic facts of GW.

    I don’t think RC scientists should take one minute off their research & teaching time to bother with contrarians. It’s just their latest tactic to derail climate science by wasting time, and it shows how very fast the ice is melting underneath their arguments.

    BTW, I have also been censored, so I think RC is very fair in dealing with both extremes.

  2. 52
    Kenneth Blumenfeld says:

    Re: #51:

    Lynn, I agree with you, in principle anyway. And obviously, the choice is up to the primary RC contributors and moderators.

    I should relay, however, that undergraduate meteorology, geography, and geology students (to name only few disciplines) are now taking time out to investigate these issues, and they are doing it online, rather than in the literature, as wacko as that may seem. Despite the overwhelming majority of consensus-side scientists out there, it is much easier to get contrarian/skeptical/psuedo skeptical information. The consensus folks are getting their you-know-whats kicked in this regard, and all I can offer as evidence are my 90 or so students this past semester who I think very badly wanted to get behind RC but felt they were side-stepping direct confrontation. They felt that by appearing to ignore skeptics (except for on its own forum) RC was in some sort of denial. You and I may not believe this is true, but to the future climate scientists I think it is an important point. They want to see their people step up to the plate, not just take practice swings, so to speak.

    [Response: Interesting point. I think one needs to differentiate dealing with 'sceptic' issues from going head-to-head with some particular site or person. We have tackled many of the issues (i.e. the role of water vapour feedback, the so-called 70's global cooling scare, Martian 'warming', satellite records etc.), but we don't tend to get involved in debates across the blogsphere. This is because these 'debates' very rarely provide enlightenment and frequently just confuse the issue, giving the (misleading) impression that there is indeed scientific controversy about whether the current CO2 rise is anthropogenic for instance. How then does one best avoid this lose-lose situation? I think it is do what we are doing - provide solid discussions of the real scientific issues which can then be used by others in different forums. If you have any specific ideas to make that work better, let us know. - gavin]

  3. 53

    My take on the peak oil question (I’m an editor at http://www.theoildrum.com) is that it’s probably bad for GW, with the possible exception of raising political awareness of the general issue of exponential growth on a finite planet. The Hubbert theory applied to the global oil production profile suggests that decline rates in oil production will be, on average, relatively slow – rising over the course of several decades to a maximum of around 5% p.a. That suggests ample time to convert to coal-based technologies and other low-on-the-pyramid hydrocarbons such as tar sands and Orinoco extra-heavy oils. That is probably the path of least resistance economically. Absent sequestration, the use of these low EROEI hydrocarbons with low hydrogen content is likely to significantly increase the carbon intensity of delivered physical work in the economy (this may be partially offset by improving economic efficiency in the use of that physical work).

    See

    http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2005/12/5/133418/045

    for some supporting detail to this argument.

  4. 54
    Tony Noerpel says:

    Re 53: My three favorite sites: TOD, RC and energy bulletin. Great job. Peak oil and AGW are intrinsically linked. As Stuart points out, we can “solve” our acute energy problems by making our climate problems all the worse. Coal, tar sands and extra-heavy oils have lower energy content and pollute more. Nuclear power is not a clean solution.

    I suspect conservation is the only one solution to both problems. We should try to get our energy consumption down to the level where renewables make sense. We also have to do something about our population growth, hopefully, something other than disease and war.

    Cuba (I’m not recommending a totalitarian dictatorship) has the same life expectancy as the US and a lower infant mortality rate, proof that we can cut energy consumption at least 85% and maintain or even improve quality of life. Cuba does have a very high incarceration rate, so life is not perfect, and maybe not desirable. But point of fact, it is much lower than the incarceration rate of the US. And Cuba is exporting doctors and health care while we are exporting war. Cuba achieves these results while being very energy inefficient, running 1957 Cheveys instead of Priuses, for example.

    I would propose, Gavin and Stuart, that you don’t need to change anything about what you are doing. Perfect as is. I suggest that it is the rest of us, your readers, who need to step up to the plate.

    I’ve formed a local group called Loudoun County Committee for a Sustainable Society (LCCSS) one of more than 50 affiliates of Post Carbon. I have been inspired by Mae Wan Ho and many others and your sites. The purpose is to educate people locally about AGW and peak oil as well as the solution space. We are trying to sell sustainability and stewardship.

    I have no idea if my group will accomplish anything worthwhile and certainly don’t propose folks do what I’m doing exactly, but we are part of a true grass roots activity and somebody somewhere will hit a home run.

  5. 55
    Dano says:

    RE response to current #52 (KB post):

    To oppose something is to maintain it. – Ursula K. LeGuin

    I agree with Lynn that RC shouldn’t waste it’s time responding to tactics designed to waste scientist’s time, but IMHO Kenneth has a good point in 52.

    At least acknowledging the contrascientist “argument” in some way may address Kenneth’s concerns and obviate the perception of denial. It may not be in the purview [or best interest] of front-line scientists to aggressively engage the contrascience “debate”. And how best to inform decision-making in such an environment hasn’t been worked out yet, but expanding the scope of the writing on this site to acknowledge a tactic – perhaps objectively without naming names – likely will also help tie loose ends together for the casual reader who doesn’t have 6 hours a week to keep up with both the literature and the contrascientist mendacity.

    Best,

    D

  6. 56
    Coby says:

    A couple of points regarding Tony Noerpel’s post in #54:

    Sorry, this is getting quite far off topic but I wanted to correct the record. According to the Justice Policy Institute, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/25/1341259
    I don’t know about Cuba, though it is certainly easy to find lots of disinformation about that country.

    As Tony acknowledges, life expectancy and infant mortality are not the whole picture. I think it is pretty unavoidable that life styles will have to change in order to ultimately address emissions problems. However I think people will be quite shocked to find out just how wasteful and extravagent we have become in the developed world and consequently how much we can improve with very little sacrifice. Much of this extravagent behaviour results in negative health consequences too eg. constantly turning escalators instead of climbing the stairs, over-consumption of meat and other dietarily rich foods, things like that.

    Too often this whole debate is framed in terms of what we will have to give up (it is of course not framed this way by accident!) but I believe there can be a large number of improvements in quality of life and general happiness as a consequence of conserving and living sustainably.

    I agree as well that running out of oil will not by itself solve our emissions problems, though I used to have some hope there…too much coal etc around. Resulting conflicts for this resource as well as dwindling food and water may put a stop to the over-population problem and encourage renewable energy development, but that is one hell of a dark cloud, silver lining or not.

  7. 57
    Coby says:

    oops..sorry Tony, my “correction” re US incarceration rates was only due to my misreading what you wrote!

    [Response: This is waaayyy off topic. No more please. - gavin]

  8. 58
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 55.

    From a sincere perspective, some of us have questions but may be reluctant to ask them because we don’t want to waste the scientist’s time at RC.

    In a comment I made to RC [Naturally Trendy #86 Jan 2], I requested others at RC to review and comment on a probabilistic product dealing with flood potential, used by the public in an operational time frame. I believe the product shows regional climate warming during winter and spring, beginning in the mid 1970s within the Upper Midwest.

    I understand that my request on Jan 2 is only yesterday. I have made requests or suggestions before, without me seeing any responses from RC scientists or others at RC. Maybe my requests involved too much time. Checking back from time to time to see if others have replied to my requests is time consuming for me. Maybe there’s a better way of dealing with requests. Maybe not.

    [Response: Pat, It's important for you to keep posting the questions (and note that they often get addressed by other commenters). Reasons for not responding are often due to lack of time, but also, we might not know the answers. Even if there is no direct response, we do read these posts and the questions that come up inform the topics we end up covering in main posts. Thanks for your contributions. - gavin]

  9. 59
    Fritz Warn says:

    Re. H2O and CO2 light absorption spectra

    As a person educated in Physical Chemistry and related Physics, I am disappointed in every website that deals with climate change. All I ever read are pro and con opinions, flavored with insults. I read “Nature” and “Science”, but most of their articles are not very helpful.

    GW sites should provide readers with relevant testable science. I have yet to see any testable hypotheses or explanations that would be acceptable in any other science.

    One thing I am curious about is the light absorption spectrum of the most common greenhouse gas, water vapor, versus the absorption spectrum for the 0.037% of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    It would be an easy experiment, in a properly equipped lab, to (i) vary H2O and CO2, and (ii) to determine the absorption and transmission of various infrared wavelengths.

    This kind of information would be extremely useful to college educated laymen who wish to get some sort of intuitive feel for what is going on. Undoubtedly, these kinds of experiments have been published in the last hundred years.
    I hope someone can provide me with references in the scientific literature!

    With thanks,
    Fritz

  10. 60
    Eli Rabett says:

    Fritz, you forgot emission (Applied Optics 35 1519 (1996) by Evans and Puckrin for example). This is one of the classic mistakes that physical and analytical chemists make when they start to think about atmospheric chemistry. As to overlaps and the absorption spectra of water vapor and CO2 the go to place is HITRAN where the results of numerous high resolution studies have been compiled in a way that lets you calculate spectra, http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/HITRAN/, or you could use something a bit simpler, MODTRAN http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/cgimodels/radiation.html, and do the experiment yourself at lower resolution.

    Somewhat less subtle is your omission of the fact that about 99+% of the atmosphere is transparent to infrared and visible radiation (nitrogen, oxygen and argon), water vapor as the largest absorber of IR and CO2 as the second. For a nice explanation of why water vapor is more of a feedback than a forcing see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=142.

    Mo Udall, a witty congressman from Arizona once described the endless stage of a meeting as being the point where “everything has been said but not everyone has said it”. You, obviously, were not on the distribution list. If you are seriously interested there are good books to read and some good FAQs out there. An excellent book which should be within the reach of anyone who has studied Physical Chemistry and Physics is “Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change” by Brasseur, Orlano and Tyndall

  11. 61
    Tony Noerpel says:

    Back on topic. The latest Nature has an article by Bellouin et al. with an accompanying news and views by Coakley. Aerosol cooling is estimated to be 0.8 +/- 0.1 Wm-2 and it is pointed out that the warming effect of current GHG is 2.4 +/- 0.2 Wm-2. Thus forcing from AGW will increase because 1) we’ve been cleaning up our particulate pollution around the world, 2)we are increasing emissions of GHG, 3) oceans may become saturated, 4) positive feedback effects like albedo (I assume this is counted as a natural forcing), and 5) deforestation (I assume this is counted as natural, also) due to bark beetle infestation. Am I missing anything? I don’t see any good news here.

  12. 62
    Coby says:

    A couple of important possible feedbacks you are missing in #61 are carbon from soils (there was a recent study in Britain that found warmer soils lose carbon) and CH4 from thawing permafrost.

    Melting CH4 clathrates in ocean sediment is another possible and rather dire feedback but I don’t believe enough is known about their stability or how ocean floor conditions will change to make any predictions.

  13. 63
    Hank Roberts says:

    Curious, did anyone here comment on this public draft? Somehow I only noticed it today, the day comments closed:

    http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/public-review-draft/default.htm

  14. 64
    Timothy says:

    A couple of points about the climate models that have come up.

    #27: Since we don’t know what will happen to CO2 levels in the future with any certainty [because it depends on the choices we make, even if the oil runs out we can still burn coal for centuries], climate models are normally run with a range of scenario’s. One example is just a simple ‘commitment’ experiment, in which GHG levels are fixed at present day values [normally at the end of a transient historical reconstruction run] to find out how much warming we are already commited to even if we managed to stop all GHG emissions instantaneously.

    I think the result is along the lines of us being commited to about the same amount of warming as already caused over the 20th Century – ie ~0.5 degrees. Whilst not neccesarily ‘dangerous’ in and of itself, it’s nothing to sniff at either, particularly for being the result from an unrealistic scenario that forms the extreme lower bound for global warming over the 21st Century.

    #22: Although convection is generally one of the weaker areas of the models, it turns out that many models suffer from too strong a hydrological cycle. Basically there is too much evaporation and precipitation. Therefore, by your reasoning, this negative feedback on the surface temperature is *too strong* in the models, and consequently global warming may be even worse than the models generally predict!

  15. 65
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #61, we could also add that as the world warms, more GHGs may be released, from thawing permafrost, ocean clathrates, from warming soils & increased microbal GHG production (I read the British increase in that has counterbalanced any human GHG reductions they’ve made). Maybe fires (due to GW enhanced droughts & winds). What am I leaving out?

    They talk about sensitivity to a doubling of CO2, and such, but they don’t really say where that CO2 comes from, so some could come from us & some could come from nature’s response to a warming world. So maybe that is the wild card — not how much we are emitting (which we sort of know & can control, if we wish), but how much nature might emit in response to the warming & other GW factors.

  16. 66
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 65 asks: What am I leaving out?

    Have you reviewed this new research on the PETM by scientists at Scripps?

    Excerpt: New research produced by scientists at Scripps Institution
    of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, helps
    illustrate how global warming caused by greenhouse gases can quickly
    disrupt ocean processes and lead to drastic climatological,
    biological and other important changes around the world. Although
    the events described in the research unfolded millions of years ago
    and spanned thousands of years, the researchers say the findings
    provide clues to help better understand the long-term impacts of
    today’s human-influenced climate warming.

    Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Ocean, Climate Changes,
    Scripps-led Study Reveals
    PRESS RELEASE
    Date Released: Wednesday, January 4, 2006
    Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=18643

    Pat N

  17. 67
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 66. Here is the Scripps link to the Scripps-led PRESS RELEASE

    http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/article_detail.cfm?article_num=708

  18. 68
    Terry says:

    You wrote:

    While we’ve aspired to being a reasonably authoritative resource, we have occasionally slipped and used more personal language than was really necessary. It is difficult at times to remember that although blogsphere conversations happen very quickly, they stay around forever, and so a sober style is most appropriate. However, moderation of comments on this site has been absolutely necessary to avoid the descent into the schoolyard behaviour all too often found in unmoderated forums. This task is not however an exact science, and there have errors of both overzealousness and undermoderation. For that, we apologise.

    Bravo! It is incredibly hard to keep from responding to provocation with snark, and a little extra politeness is almost always worthwhile. I find that just waiting a little until the initial reaction to a provocative comment passes is very helpful. Keep moving in that direction.

    Also, you really should link to Climate Audit generally and to specific posts of theirs when appropriate. Not doing so can give the appearance that you won’t face honest criticism. Don’t link to (or respond to) the snark though — it isn’t helpful.

  19. 69
    Chris Reed says:

    Gavin, re your reply to #52.

    I think that what you, and all at RC, are doing is fine as it is. With solid discussion of the science you are providing a resource that is invaluable. When you argue the science, and steer clear of becoming embroilled in rhetorical games, you are on firm ground. There will always be those who use various devices to avoid taking a global view of the state of the science. And there is nothing that can be done about that, i.e. you can lead a horse to water…

    Whether or not people choose to respond to the threat of climate change in an intelligent way is something that you cannot control. What you can do is ensure that there is an evidence base from which individuals can make a reasoned judgment and respond appropriately.

    This time last year I had been sceptical and decided to sort out my opinions, so 2005 was the year I crammed climate science. In short, after a year of cramming I cannot see any reasonable doubt that climate change due to human activities, primarily CO2 emissions, is well underway. It’s possible to sustain doubt by concentrating on tiny issues, but that doubt evaporates when faced with the breadth of observed changes, and the breadth of the theoretical underpinning.

    Coincidentally I have found that as my opinions have changed so have those in the media. Here in the UK climate change is finally being presented by most of the media as a real and pressing issue, with little doubt about itâ??s reality. In short it is now an issue that finally is ‘on the radar’. Correlation does not imply causation, but I suspect that this site may well have played a significant part in that change. (Unless there really has been an evidential shift in the argument, which I donâ??t see as being specific to 2005.) I post with hope that the anti-democratic efforts of vested interest in distorting the facts are now crumbling in the mainstream media.

    I’m moving onto another area of study, but in the meantime I’ll be keeping an eye on this site. Thank you to all at RC, their employers ;) , guests, and those posting responses.

  20. 70
    Kenneth Blumenfeld says:

    Slightly irrelevant, but since this thread originated as a celebration (and a solicitation for future) accomplishments, I’ll go for it.

    Over on Roger Pielke Jr’s site, there has been an exciting and engaging exchange between Gavin, RPJ, and a few regular visitors to this site. Since many visitors here are interested in policy, here is the outrageously long URL:

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/author_pielke_jr_r/000663partisan_politics_an.html

    Again, going back to my comments in #20, this sort of engagement is very helpful on many levels. Is there any chance RC will ever link to ongoing threads on other sites in which RC members are actively involved? I think it would help fill in a few gaps here, as well as avoid some overlap and redundancy issues, which are sure to arise–mostly from a comment making perspective.

  21. 71
    Hank Roberts says:

    Is there a compilation (somewhere relatively apolitical) of all the IPCC predictions, with a followup over time? Here’s one belonging there:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2005GL024826.shtml

    IPCC prediction of accelerated sea level rise, now with support.

  22. 72
    Sherry Mayo says:

    Best wishes for 2006 I’ve found you site very valuable over the last year for staying up to date of glabal warming issues.

    Like a couple of others posting here I have an interest in peak oil. I concur with comments by Tony and Stuart that oil is not the only fossil fuel and the lazy response to a peak will be a move to unconventional hydrocarbons (tar sands, coal-to-liquids) covered with the fig leaf of promised sequestration (which may never materialise).

  23. 73
    Tony Noerpel says:

    Question: Currently Atmospheric CO2 concentration is 380 ppm. From ice core analysis we know that it has not been much higher than 280 ppm over the last 600,000 years. How far back in time do we have to go to find concentrations as high as 380 ppm? I’ve heard 40 million years. Is that true? Thanks.

  24. 74
    Pat Neuman says:

    The link below contains an image of a graph showing global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 from 545 million years ago to present. It’s hard to read for non members of the group. Members can click Photos (left side) and select large size. The first three groups (from the right side of the graph are Cenozoic Cretaxcious Jurassic. I’m not too confident about the accuracy of the data shown.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Paleontology_and_Climate_Articles/

    More accurate data may be at the Hanson Presentation paper in Dec 2005.
    Hansen, J. 2005. Is There Still Time to Avoid “Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference” with Global Climate? A Tribute to Charles David Keeling (5.5 MB PDF). Presentation given Dec. 6, 2005, at the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. 50 p
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/~jhansen/keeling/keeling_talk_and_slides.pdf

  25. 75
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #73: I believe that the answer is that 380 ppm is now known from ice core data to be the highest CO2 concentration in the last ~650,000 years. It is also likely the highest concentration in the last 20 million years although this can’t be determined with the same degree of certainty as from the ice core data. Here is an IPCC figure showing the variations in CO2 concentrations on various different timescales: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figts-10.htm As you can see from it, if one goes back a little over 20 million years ago then the CO2 levels are believed to have been higher.

  26. 76
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #75: Yes, and at which time we (broadly speaking) only had a smallish ice cap on the Antarctic plateau. No ice sheets in Greenland, West Antarctica, and even a chunk of East Antarctica, with sea level about 80 meters above present. This seems to be the big threat as far as Jim Hansen is concerned; see the talk Pat linked to above.

  27. 77
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    Congratulations to Realclimate.

    I think RC has been a great source of information. Even with a science degree I find it challenging, so a section that is labeled and linked to, either here on RC or on another website, that answers basic climate science questions and FAQs about global warming would be great.

    Another recommendation is an annotated list of climate change science papers. Something like the NRDC’s page
    http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/fgwscience2005.asp
    but without the political spin.
    A list of important papers with a paragraph describing them is very useful as a handy reference. When someone refers to a paper its a quick way to see what they are talking about without having to search for the paper.

    When some of the standard skeptic arguments are brought up a quick comment or a link to RC post where the question has been addressed is IMO the best way do deal with them. Some of the people who bring up some of the standard skeptic talking points are not themselves skeptics or contrarians. They have honest questions about all of the claims in popular press and on websites. I have seen on enviro blogs environmentalists repeat skeptic arguments like natural cycles and sunspots. These questions should be addressed, but not too much time and space should be devoted to repeatedly answer the same questions. It creates a lot of noise but is not very informative, and it plays into contrarians attempts to delay and confuse.

    I also support a requirement for civility and decorum. There is a lot of mud-slinging going around because of the political implications of global warming. Its easy to get caught up in it. I have done it here on RC and I have been subject to an ad hom (it was deleted but I am still curious about exactly what was written). Its not useful and is a distraction and its a good idea for RC not to link to sites where this type of argument is common.

    The one subject I would like to see a post on is AGW and its effect on ecosystems. I know its not purely climate science, but its something I have a personal interest in. Maybe there could be a guest post from an ecologist.

  28. 78
    Tom Brogle says:

    I have found what appear to me to be illogical reasoning used in some of your discusions.Up to now you haven’t published any of my reasoning.You instead reply by email defending your reasoning by trying to blind me with science. hope you turn over a new leaf.

  29. 79
    Duane Carpenter says:

    carpenter_duane 01/25/06 07:57 pm

    I hope you dont mind another idea about global warming,
    To my thinking, when the atmosphere warms up to a certain peak, perhaps there is a possibility that the Earths gravity could not contain an atmosphere that has become a higher pressure. Perhaps the atmosphere could expand out further into space, reducing the affect of the gravity upon it, then it could burst, like a bubble, into space. Providing that is the case, it would manage to drain the atmosphere to a certain point and then once it collapses, the atmoshere would have contracted. Once the contraction takes place, it would expand, causing very cold weather, an ice age.
    Duane Carpenter just a thought..

    [Response: It might make a movie but no, in reality this won't work - William]

  30. 80
    Hank Roberts says:

    For those among the RC authors who are too young to remember the Usenet days — the Internet before the Web — I think it’s a good time to read a bit from history.

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/net-abuse-faq/troll-faq/

    Why? Because you’ve had a successful year, and that attracts attention.

    This means you attract trolls, and also that people with a political agenda will be directing trolls to this site.

    My hunch is that’s what happened to the Washington Post weblog just recently — the WaPo editors believe that they were overwhelmed by a wave of nastiness from people the WaPo believed, from the content, were all left-liberal writers. I think they were fooled by trolls.

    The FAQ suggests ways of looking at the attacks. There will have to be similar ways worked out for weblogs (I’ve tried a few, Google searches for common threads help find where ideas come from and how perhaps innocent new people are set up to ask old debunked questions).

    [Response: Indeed. We are well aware of this phenomena, hence the comment moderation. It's not perfect though.... -gavin]


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