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Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

Filed under: — raypierre @ 16 February 2006

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. The events commemorating Darwin’s birthday anniversary last Sunday, together with the recent conclusion of an important court case concerning the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools prompts me to some musing concerning the relation of the Evolution/ID dialog to similar issues arising in connection with anthropogenic global warming. The age of the two theories is similar as well: Darwin introduced his theory in 1859, whereas Fourier initiated the study of the effect of atmospheres on climate with his 1821 treatise, stimulating the chain of developments leading to Arrhenius’ enunciation in 1896 of the theory that human influences on the atmosphere’s CO2 content could change the climate.

I don’t propose to wade into questions of religion, or the question of whether or in what form ID could be taught in public schools. However, the discussion surrounding ID is significant because it has focused a lot of public attention on the question of : "What is science?" A Nov. 5, 2005 letter to the Chicago Tribune by one Mr. Ross Williams makes the connection explicit: In his letter, Mr Williams implies that the Theory of Global Warming is more like ID than it is like Evolution. Referring to global warming, he states: "It is no more than an idea, a notion." and goes on to say:

  • " The scientists pursuing this hypothesis are struggling to test it and make predictions using their ideas. Thus far, they have had extremely limited success in testing, and virtually no luck in predicting–resulting in continually modified (and, consequently, less severe) forecasts. Despite this, they are spawning a whole cadre of non-scientific worry warts who are declaring that, well, really, the science doesn’t matter."

In Mr. Williams lexicon, a hypothesis is just "a notion," presumably not much better than ID. In this article, I will attempt to explain why the bleak picture painted by Mr. Williams and people of like mind is unwarranted.

Another relation between the two issues is that Evolution skeptics are motivated by ideology to deny a well-established scientific theory. In the case of Evolution, the ideological motivation is a perceived conflict between the picture of the operation of the natural world presented by the Theory of Evolution, and the tenets of certain faiths (a perceived conflict that, I am happy to see, is not shared by all people of faith, as witness the extensive "Evolution Sunday " activities ). Similarly, most Global Warming denialists are for the most part motivated not by abstract curiosity about the behavior of climate systems, but by a perceived conflict between the actions that would need to be taken to avert unacceptable climate change, and their beliefs about the extent to which economic growth and material prosperity based on fossil-fuel energy use should be unfettered. (Again, not all economists or members of the business community perceive a conflict here). In both cases, the skeptics prosecute not just an attack on the policy implications of science, but on the scientific method itself, often using similar rhetorical devices. In fact, sometimes skepticism about global warming and about evolution are combined in one and the same person, as is the case for Roy Spencer, for example (see his article on evolution here.)

Just what is the theory here?

First, we need to get straight on just what we might be talking about when referring to "The Theory of Global Warming." There’s a natural tendency to identify such a theory with the statement that "The Earth is Warming." That’s wrong because it confuses a theory with observations that might be used to test a theory. It’s also wrong because it would imply that the only reason we think that the Earth will continue warming in response to increased CO2 is that we already see it warming today; it loses the chain of physical causation. Somewhat better would be the statement, "The Earth is warming, and the warming is largely due to increases in atmospheric CO2 and other long lived greenhouse gases." This is defensible as a hypothesis, but I think it would be far better to consider this statement, too, as more properly in the domain of one of the tests we might apply to the Theory of Global Warming.

My own preferred statement of The Theory of Global Warming is this:

  • An increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other long lived greenhouse gases requires the surface temperature to ultimately increase so as to maintain a balance with the absorbed solar radiation. The increase is amplified by water vapor (also a greenhouse gas), which increases with temperature in such a way as to keep relative humidity approximately constant. Melting of ice will further amplify the warming, particularly in high latitudes. The resulting widespread warming corresponding to a doubling of CO2 will be large enough and rapid enough to be well outside the range of past experience of the human species, by an amount comparable to the difference between a glacial and interglacial climate. Changes in atmospheric cloud properties may somewhat reduce or increase the sensitivity, but do not substantially alter the conclusion.

The last part of the statement of the theory is, of course, the hard part, and the most uncertain.

I have deliberately left the matter of the severity of the impacts of such a climate change out of the hypothesis. Theories regarding the impact are nascent and in many regards still rather ill-formed, in comparison to the theory dealing with the physical dimensions of climate change. Also, insofar as there are uncertainties about the severity of the impacts of climate change, it is a matter for the political apparatus to decide how to deal with the uncertainties, and the extent to which one should pay attention to the worst case vs. the most likely case. The question of how to factor in the uneven distribution of harms (and possibly benefits) across the peoples of the Earth, and between human societies and natural ecosystems, is also at heart a matter of ethics and values. These are questions that can be informed by science, but they are not themselves scientific questions.

Finally, one must be careful not to be confused by the usage of the word "theory" in common everyday English. Statements like, "Oh, that’s just a theory, not a fact" have little to do with the scientific understanding of the word "theory." Linguistic confusion goes the other direction as well: Scientists often talk about "believing" in a theory, but this expresses a judgement of whether the balance of tests of a theory against observations lends sufficient support to the theory to rely on it in drawing further inferences. It does not declare that subscribing to the theory or not is an article of faith, to be left to one’s conscience. If I say that I "believe in" quantum theory, that is expressing a different kind of judgement than if I say I "believe in" the tenets of Buddhism.

Judge Jones on "What is Science"

Judge Jones (a George W. Bush appointee, by the way) of the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, presided over the case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which dealt with the constitutionality of an attempt to introduce some limited teaching of Intelligent Design into science classes. His decision that teaching ID in public school science classes would be an unconstitutional establishment of religion, is a masterpiece of wit, scholarship and clear thinking. Most of the decision deals with application of tests (such as the "Lemon Test") of whether a government action constitutes an establishment of religion. These make fascinating reading, and show Judge Jones’ wide ranging intellect, but they are not of concern to me here. What’s relevant to the point at hand is the rather extensive part of the decision devoted to the question "How do we know whether something is science?" This question wasn’t entirely central to the basis of the Judge’s decision, but he devoted a lot of attention to it because, in his words,

  • "Having so concluded, we find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. To be sure, our answer to this question can likely be predicted based upon the foregoing analysis. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us."

In other words, Judge Jones had already seen enough irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, fossil record interpretations and panda’s thumbs to last a lifetime (maybe two), and didn’t want any of his colleagues to have to go through the same business all over again.

For the most part, the good judge takes a positivist approach to the definition of science, following Karl Popper. This approach emphasizes that a scientific theory should be falsifiable. The centrality of this notion has been challenged by Thomas Kuhn and a few other philosophers of science , but as a description of the way most of us in the trenches actually see our enterprise, Popper does pretty well, as long as we allow a little flexibility in the matter of what counts as falsifiability. The important thing is that a scientific theory should be productive. It should make predictions that can be tested against observation and experiment, the more the better. Thus, Ptolemy’s epicycle theory of planetary motion is not bad as a scientific theory: it does make predictions about where planets will be, that can be tested against data. Newton’s theory is far better, though, because it makes far more predictions over a vastly wider range of circumstances, while requiring far fewer assumptions. It’s not just that it’s more economical than epicycles. It’s far more productive of testable predictions — all of which prove true, so long as one steers clear of speeds close to that of light and very strong gravitational fields. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is even more productive, covering the extreme cases while reducing to Newton’s theory in the low speed and weak gravity limit.

Further, the notion of prediction has to be broadly construed. The fact that we can’t predict the exact weather a year out is no refutation of the basic theory of climate, any more than the fact that we can’t predict the position of Pluto in its chaotic orbit is a refutation of Newtonian mechanics. In the context of testing scientific theories, a prediction need not refer to something that happens in the future; this is important in observational sciences such as Earth science or cosmology, where one’s "predictions" often deal with things that happen in the past. A prediction in this context is any inference drawn on the basis of a theory, that can be objectively tested against observations. For that matter, a prediction need not even come in advance of an observation. Obviously, it is a more convincing test of a theory if the inference is made before the observation, since this provides some protection against the accusation of tuning unknown parameters; however, there are other ways to check whether a match succeeds only because of unwarranted tuning.

Judge Jones’ considers three basic arguments in his consideration of whether ID is science. The detailed application of each argument to ID is buttressed by numerous citations to theological, scientific and ID-advocacy writings, which are not reproduced in detail below.

The first argument is against ID as science is that science does not rely on untestable supernatural causes. Supernatural explanations are "science stoppers" which preclude further inquiry. This is, in essence, a restatement of the falsifiability (positivist) criterion. Among the many documents Judge Jones cites is a National Academy of Sciences statement that notes that the publications arguing for ID "do not offer hypotheses subject to change in light of new data, new interpretations, or demonstration of error. This contrasts with science, where any hypothesis or theory always remains subject to the possibility of rejection or modification in the light of new knowledge." The Judge declares, on the basis of the evidence, that "ID fails to meet the essential ground rules that limit science to testable, natural explanations."

The Judge notes that the preceding alone is sufficient to disqualify ID as science, but given a surfeit of evidence, he does not want to stop halfway. The next argument he produces is quite different from the positivism criterion, namely that the arguments for ID rest on a contrived dualism. "ID is at bottom premised upon a false dichotomy, namely, that to the extent evolutionary theory is discredited, ID is confirmed, " he writes. He then points out that arguments for ID based on this contrived dualism are, from a scientific standpoints, not arguments for ID at all, but merely tests of the Theory of Evolution — and hence only serve to further establish that Evolution is science. Judge Jones, in this connection, disassembles some of the arguments against Evolution made by ID proponents, but this is a matter of evaluating tests of Evolution as a scientific theory, not a matter of deciding whether ID is science. The notion of "irreducible complexity," for example, is a refutable and testable negative argument against evolution, but that does not make it a testable argument for ID. The discussion of the merit of ID proponents’ arguments against Evolution does, however turn up a point that has some relevence also to the argument brought to bear against the Theory of Global Warming. Discussing testimony on the ID case against Evolution, the judge writes: "We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of evolution." (My emphasis added). The judge finds that Evolution skeptics argue by "pointing to real gaps in scientific knowledge, which indisputably exist in all scientific theories, but also by misrepresenting well-established scientific propositions." This description applies word-for-word to many skeptics’ arguments against global warming, for example to most of Richard Lindzen’s testimony to the House of Lords (discussed here)

Judge Jones’ third argument is a pragmatic one: it assumes that there is such a thing as a recognized scientific community, and that it knows science when it sees it even if it may be hard to rigorously and unambiguously define the criteria. He specifically looks to the peer-reviewed publication process as an indicator: "A final indicator of how ID has failed to demonstrate scientific warrant is the complete absence of peer-reviewed publications supporting the theory." After some further discussion of the publication record of ID, he concludes "ID is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community."

Does "Global Warming Theory" pass Judge Jones’ science test?

In one sense, the Theory of Global Warming is clearly a falsifiable scientific theory: all we need to do is wait around a while until industrial activities have doubled CO2, and observe what has happened to atmospheric temperature, water vapor and clouds. This indeed seems to be the experiment that most of the world seems intent on carrying out.

However, when we talk about "verifying" the Theory of Global Warming, what most of us have in mind is doing something to test the theory right now, so that (to the extent that it is correct) necessary policy decisions can be informed by the predictions of the theory.

Earth science shares the full range of difficulties generic to observational sciences, in that we can carry out laboratory experiments testing individual basic physical principles making up our theories, but have only limited opportunities to conduct experiments on the collective behavior of the whole system. For the latter, we must do the best we can with those ready-made examples that Nature provides. In this regard, the situation of the Theory of Global Warming is rather similar to that of the Theory of Evolution.

There are indeed a great many aspects of the Theory of Global Warming that are falsifiable without waiting for the next century’s climate to come upon us. There are, to start, all the laboratory tests of basic physics, such as the infrared absorption properties of CO2 and water vapor. There are also field tests of the predictions of these basic physical theories, as is done when one measure water vapor and temperature in the atmosphere, and compares the predictions of radiative transfer theory with observed infrared radiation measured at the top of the atmosphere by satellite, or at the surface by radiation sensors. One can check the evaporation formulae used in climate models against the measured evaporation at buoys in the ocean, or the predictions of cloud models against observed cloud reflectivity. Going up the scale in complexity, one can compare the predictions of the theory against observations of recent climates, and of climates of the more distant past. General circulation models encapsulate the assumptions of the theory, and provide the tool necessary for testing hypotheses in such a complex system.

A further point regarding the positivist criterion is the the Theory of Global Warming is productive. The implied influence of CO2 (or methane) on climate can be, and has been, applied to the understanding of the Last Glacial Maximum, to Snowball Earth, to the Faint Young Sun, and to Cretaceous warmth. Variants apply also to Venus, Mars (present and past) and Titan. It is fair to say that this theory plays as central a role in the theory of planetary climate as the Theory of Evolution plays in biology. A relatied point is that the theory can be and has been challenged by data, and forced to adapt accordingly. This was the case in the precursor to the theory, when Tyndall discovered that minor constituents (CO2 and water vapor) dominated the greenhouse effect; the resulting adaptation of Fourier’s theory opened the way for Arrhenius to conclude that human influences on the atmosphere could change the climate. A more recent adaptation was the incorporation of aerosol effects in the late 1980′s which was forced upon the theory by the inability to explain the pattern of 20th century climate change with greenhouse gas increases alone. Contrary to the assertion in Mr. Williams’ letter to the Chicago Tribune, revisions to the theory have not led to any systematic downward revision of the appraisal of the magnitude of the thread caused by doubling CO2. Indeed, some discoveries, notably the prevalance of abrupt climate change in the past record, have raised concerns that the current understanding may underpredict the magnitude of the response.

What of Judge Jones’ other two criteria applied in the Kitzmiller case? The false duality issue does not arise in the judgement of Global Warming Theory itself, since the theory has never been argued for on the basis of such a stipulated duality ("The world is warming, and if it’s not the Sun, then it must be CO2!"). On the other hand, a false duality has often been invoked in arguing against the Global Warming Theory. This typically takes the form of pointing out some aspect of the observations that Global Warming Theory doesn’t explain, and then jumping to the conclusion that the observed warming must be due to the local skeptic’s favorite cause: maybe solar variability, maybe some unspecified sort of "natural variability." Often such arguments involve holding Global Warming up to unreasonable standards of proof ("If we don’t understand everything about climate, then we understand nothing about climate."), and often, like ID proponents arguing against Evolution, the arguments offered against Global Warming are at best distortions of scientific truth. In this regard, Global Warming plays the role of the Theory of Evolution, with the Global Warming Skeptics playing the role of ID advocates.

On Judge Jones’ final criterion (presence in the peer-reviewed literature) the Theory of Global Warming gets an easy and obvious pass. Here, the Global Warming skeptics are in a somewhat better position than the ID advocates, in that a very few of the skeptics arguments have appeared in the peer reviewed literature. This doesn’t make them right, but it does mean that to some extent, some of them are playing by the rules of science. Still, the relative paucity of skeptics arguments being played out in the peer reviewed literature suggests that they may not be as wrong as the ID advocates, but that they are not as right as the vastly greater number of researchers who have published in support of the Global Warming Theory.

To what extent is "Global Warming Theory" verified?

The basic physical principles upon which the Theory of Global Warming is based include the notion of interconvertibility amongst forms of energy (introduced by Fourier in his formulation of planetary energy balance), thermodynamics (air cools when it rises), thermodynamics of phase change (cold air holds less water), quantum theory (absorption and emission of infrared by CO2 and other greenhouse gases), blackbody radiation, and Newton’s laws of motion. Each of these components has passed literally thousands of tests in the laboratory. There is essentially zero uncertainty in the validity of such things, which form the basic physical underpinning of the Theory of Global Warming. If any of these parts of the theory didn’t work, neither would microwave ovens, computers, steam engines, infrared remote controls, and any number of other everyday devices.

Tests of the collective behavior of the Earth’s climate system are somewhat harder to come by, but there has been substantial progress here as well. I would highlight the following, which is far from an exhaustive list:

  • Reproduction of the temporal and spatial pattern of 20th and 21st century warming. To be sure, models with varying assumptions about clouds and aerosols can fit the observed warming equally well, indicating that the job is not complete. However, no quantitative model based on physical principles can match the 20th century warming without incorporation of a substantial warming component from greenhouse gas increases.
  • The rapid increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases should throw the Earth’s radiation budget out of balance, because the ocean has not yet had time to warm up to restore balance. The expected imbalance has been observed. (Hansen et al. 2005)
  • The planet’s energy imbalance has implications for the pattern of subsurface ocean warming. The predicted pattern has been observed. (Discussed here.)
  • Satellite observations indicate that mid-tropospheric water vapor is indeed increasing with temperature, as the theory requires and as models predict (Discussed here).. Note that the water vapor assumption I included as part of the statement of the Theory of Global Warming is not itself built into the general circulation models used to predict climate change. It is an emergent property that is deduced from more basic assumptions made in the models. In this regard, the statement regarding the presumed behavior of water vapor amounts to a statement that the models capture the same processes governing water vapor in the real atmosphere. There is now a wealth of evidence (in the "large scale control" literature) supporting this viewpoint.
  • Melt-back of Northern Hemisphere sea ice
  • Nearly worldwide melting of mountain glaciers, many of which survived previous naturally occurring warm periods
  • The theory predicts that the stratosphere should be cooling at the same time the surface is warming. This pattern is observed.
  • The degree of cooling of the Tropics and Southern Hemisphere during the Last Glacial Maximum, for which there would be no explanation if we were to assume that current models substantially overestimate sensitivity to CO2. An interesting bit of history concerning this point is that in the 1980′s the tropical behavior in glacial times was considered an indication that models were wrong: CLIMAP data indicated little surface cooling in the tropics, while mountain snowlined data did show cooling. This led to all sorts of theories spun about exotic thermostat mechanisms and strange lapse rate behavior. In the end, it turned out that the models were right and that the CLIMAP data was wrong. Thus, in this instance, the models (based on theory) made a true prediction, which was verified after the fact.

The scientific community is still searching for a really good way to evaluate the nature of cloud effects, though comparisons with past and recent climates provide some reassurance that we are not too far off base with cloud effects. More importantly, there is not yet a physically based hypothesis on the table which is compatible with data and which reduces climate insensitivity to inconsequential levels. Lindzen’s "Iris" hypothesis comes closest, but it has been evaluated in the scientific literature and most of the community remains unconvinced.

Besides the ongoing problem with clouds, the general theory of Earth’s climate, like any good scientific theory, continues to be confronted by phenomena it cannot yet fully explain, and to evolve in response. Some notable problems include the tendency of many coupled general circulation models to produce double Intertropical Convergence Zones in the Tropics, inconsistencies in the prediction of the regional distribution of climate change, inability to make firm inferences concerning the effect of global warming on El Nino, and the inability of general circulation models to reproduce recurrent abrupt climate change events like D-O events or even the full magnitude of response to the Younger-Dryas event. An especially notable unresolved challenge is the inability of models to reproduce the low North-South gradient in warm climates such as the Cretaceous. In this case as well as in others (such as the problem of vertical structure of tropical tropospheric warming) the problem may lie as much in the data sets being used to test the theories as in the theories themselves.

A theory can never be definitively proved; there is always the possibility that some new observation will overturn it, and most theories are imperfect and fail in one way or another to account for some of the data. The question thus emerges as to the extent to which global warming skeptics are holding the theory up to an "unreasonable standard of proof," much as ID proponents do in the case of Evolution. Given that the intensity of interest in the Theory of Global Warming stems largely from its policy implications, it is fair to ask how the standards of proof to which global warming has been held stack up against other theories that have been used to make policy decisions of enormous consequence. "Supply Side Economics" (the theory that tax cuts pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth) is a telling example that comes to mind (to say nothing of the "theory" that Iraq had WMD).

Afterword

And speaking of intelligent design, I feel compelled to remark that the CO2 molecule seems rather admirably designed from the standpoint of regulating climate. It’s a good infrared absorber even in small quantities so you don’t need to much of it, yet the radiative effect is logarithmic in concentration, so you don’t have to tune its concentration too terribly precisely to get a habitable climate. There’s plenty of it in the form of carbonates in the Earth’s crust, so you can always get more if you need some to keep the climate warm enough. Most importantly, it plays well with liquid water, so that if the planet gets too warm or too cold the rate of removal tends to adjust to reset the atmospheric carbon dioxide at a point where the climate will stay relatively equable. It has thermodynamic properties that keep it from condensing out of the atmosphere (in contrast to water vapor), resulting in it having a long enough lifetime to even out the vicissitudes of climate forcing fluctuations. How strange it is, then, that the Earth should have an abundant supply of so attractive and convenient fuel as coal. A fuel which, unfortunately, messes up the system by releasing CO2 when it is burned.

Bad design? Or just forbidden fruit?

References

Hansen, J., et al. 2005. Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications. Science 308, 1431-1435, doi:10.1126/science.1110252.


255 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!”

  1. 101
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #99. Has a thorough and extensive Failure Mode Effects Analysis ever been done with respect to the climate system? If not, that would make a very interesting study. To get the most bang for one’s research buck, I would advise including the FMEA in the context of a broad compendium of all multiproxy studies done to date, combined with a very deep quality control assessment regarding the proxies themselves as well as of the algorithms used in models and graph production programs. This is obviously an huge study I am proposing, and could conceivably involved hundreds of researchers from a broad swath of disciplines. Take it or leave it.

  2. 102
    C. W. Magee says:

    Re: Gavin’s response to 93.

    The paper I read (and linked) described the correlation between Mg/Ca temperature and dO18 temperature as poor and negative.

    It then attempts to explain this discrepancy by changing the chemistry of the Cretaceous ocean, without first eliminating the possibility of a factor other than temperature being responsible for the negative correlation.

    Occam needs a shave.

    And the problem with being sloppy in a paper preceded by a press release is that your average joe-blow non-scientific warming denier will incorrectly assume that this invalidates the whole study. They will then repeat this claim all over the am radio band.

    The paper is not incorrect; it is merely incomplete. If the authors excluded diagenetic alteration before starting their modeling, their conclusions would be more robust, because they would then have the best explanation, instead of the only explanation presented.

    Now excuse me, but I need to retune my e-sting; the heat from the burning coliseum has warped my violin.

  3. 103
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: “And on what do you base this opinion? ”

    Debates I’ve been in with “climate scientists” who did not understand the geochemistry of precipitation of carbon as part of carbonates. And debates with ones who well knew it, but chose to ignore it.

  4. 104
    PHEaston says:

    RE Pat N (90) “Rapid and uncontrollable global warming is happening…
    The CO2 is accumulating, changing the climate way to fast”.
    I don’t know how you draw these conclusions. The IPCC ‘scientific consensus’ certainly doesn’t conclude this. The IPCC concludes that changes to date have been relatively moderate, but that models PREDICT more significant changes sometime in the future. If CO2 is causing a temperature increase, this is only since 1979, since when the rise and the rate have been remarkably similar to the 1910-45 period – when CO2 is NOT alleged to be the cause. Over dramatic and unsupportable claims do not serve to strengthen the pro-AGW case.

  5. 105
    Pat Neuman says:

    In 94. Urs Neu wrote: … “as Pat mentioned sunspots peaked in 1957, since the 1950ies there is no trend, since 1980 there is no trend, if ever it is negative.”

    Urs,

    I didn’t mention anywhere that sunspots peaked in 1957.

    My post on this subject (74.) reads:

    —–


    The link at:
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-3.htm

    shows very low level of scientific understanding on a small amount of solar forcing for 2000 compared to year 1750.

    1888-2005 climate station plots for the U.S. at:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

    The explanation for the warm 1930s, cool 1960s and rapid global warming we see happening now is best explained by the case I made in #117. ie. “The late-1920s-1930s surge in solar radiation was temporary only. After the 1930s, solar radiation fell back to it’s pre-1920s levels, and have remained nearly constant for 1940s to present. The global warming being observed now is entirely a result of human activity, mostly from GHG emissions (and subsequent global warming feedbacks)”. … 29 Jan 2006, comment 141

    There were no subsequent posts in that thread or this threat that successfully disputed the points that I made earlier regarding this discussion.

    —–

  6. 106
    Pat Neuman says:

    This seems like a good time for me to make an obvious correction to false information which is being presented at the “co2science.org” website.

    The http://www.co2science.org website reads: “To bolster our claim that “There Has Been No Net Global Warming for the Past 70 Years,” each week we highlight the temperature record of one of the 1221 U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations from 1930-2000. … This issue’s temperature record of the week is from New England, ND. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, New England’s mean annual temperature has cooled by 0.66 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! ”
    http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/data/ushcn/stationoftheweek.jsp

    I find the current info displayed at co2science.org to be false.

    My annual and 5 year moving average annual temperature plots show that the change since 1930 in annual temperature at New England ND is a positive 2.2 Deg F, compared to the erroneous neg. (-0.66) value shown at co2science.org, for it’s “temperature record of the week”.

    Anyone can see this for themselves (that the change since 1930 at New England, ND is a pos. 2.2 Deg F) by going to my website of 110 year temp. plots at climate stations in the Contiguous States(CS) of the US.
    Climate stations at New England ND and nearby Dickinson ND Exp. Stn. are included under “5. Ann CS”, at:

    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

    I find this, and other falsehoods which have been displayed at co2science.org website over the years as I saw them, to be very disturbing.

  7. 107
    Pat Neuman says:

    PHEaston wrote … [RE Pat N (90) "Rapid and uncontrollable global warming is happening...The CO2 is accumulating, changing the climate way to fast". I don't know how you draw these conclusions.]

    PHEaston,

    I came to my conclusions by reading up-to-date articles posted at “ClimateArchive” and by my experiences while working for NOAA National Weather Service(NWS) in preparing the annual Spring Snowmelt Flood Outlooks for the Upper Midwest, 1976-2005.

    Articles posted at ClimateArchive are at:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ClimateArchive/

  8. 108
    Coby says:

    104 – PHEaston

    I can agree that the IPCC never said “uncontrollable”, but nor is your chracterization that they say “relatively moderate” accurate.

    “the rate and duration of warming of the 20th century has been much greater than in any of the previous nine centuries. Similarly, it is likely that the 1990s have been the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year of the millennium.”
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/005.htm

    It is not unreasonable to infer “rapid” from that.

  9. 109
    Gary says:

    Solar Irradiance increasing?

    Links to two reports indicating increases in Direct Normal Irradiance…..

    - “Accounting for the seasonal variations in monthly mean daily totals of solar radiation, we can estimate the longer-term trends in irradiance for this 15-year analysis of SRRL data:
    Direct Normal (Beam) = 4.7% increase
    Global Horizontal (Total) = 2.1% increase”
    http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/download/2005stateclimatologist_lowres.pdf#search='the%20state%20climatologist

    - “To better understand the characteristics of the region’s solar resource, a preliminary study was undertaken of trends in direct normal irradiance from three sites around Oregon over a period of 25 years. An overall increase of about 13-16% over the 25 years was found.”

    http://solardat.uoregon.edu/download/Papers/DirectNormalTrends.pdf

    [Response: You are confusing solar irradiance at the top of the atmopshere (which is affected only by the sun's activity (and the earth's orbit), with the solar radiation getting to the surface (which is highly dependent on aerosols and cloudiness etc.). See the posts on 'Global Dimming' - gavin]

  10. 110
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 106

    That’s remarkable. I compared their plot with a plot from the source at CDIAC. They resemble one another, but don’t quite match. The peak 1930s temp at co2science is more than a degree higher, and there are some missing data points around 1982. Clearly there’s something wrong with someone’s data.

  11. 111
    Gary says:

    RE 109 Aren’t these are ground surface measurements?

    “The global dimming studies primarily analyzed global
    irradiance data while this analysis uses direct normal beam
    irradiance data. Direct normal, or beam, instruments have
    fewer systematic errors than global irradiance instruments
    and their calibrations are more stable. The trends found in
    the Oregon data suggest that here, at least, global dimming
    does not seem to be occurring; rather, the summers are
    getting sunnier. While there is also an increase in the global
    irradiance measured by the UO SRML, the uncertainties are
    much higher and considerable work still is needed to track
    the changes in global instrument calibration.”

  12. 112
    Brian Forbes says:

    Re99
    “The observation that good correlation often leads to a cause is not proof that cause can’t exist without obvious correlation. If one’s standard of proof requires a clear pattern in a scatter plot of y against x, one will be forever mystified by noisy, nonlinear dynamic systems.”
    But you get a good correlation between the sun cycle and temperature with hardly any scatter it isn’t at all noisy. Therefore I can conclude that the sun is responsible for the temperature up to about 1980 and that since then something has altered this relationship which could hardly be CO2 but could be contrails produced by the increasing use of jet travel

    [Response: I don't know why you think that there is such a great correlation with sun cycles and temperature - reference? There really isn't - and people have looked. - gavin]

  13. 113
    Pat Neuman says:

    In #106 Tom Fiddaman wrote … “Clearly there’s something wrong with someone’s data.”

    Tom,

    I verified my annual temperature value for 1930 at New England ND to be accurate (based on the temperature difference at nearby Dickinson ND).

    Thus at New England ND, I have 42.3 F in 1930, 44.5 F in 2005 and a change in annual and 5 year moving average of 2.3 Deg F from 1930 to 2005, as explained in my previous comment (106).

    110 year temperature plot for climate stations at:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

  14. 114
    Pat Neuman says:

    re: 113, should read… In #110 Tom Fiddaman wrote … “Clearly there’s something wrong with someone’s data.”

  15. 115
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 113/114

    Pat – I didn’t mean to imply that you’d goofed – your data matched the USHCN data by eyeball. I’d guess that co2science somehow goofed, or that they’ve developed their own UHI correction, or who knows what, but without looking into it I couldn’t rule out some kind of revision of the USHCN data after they obtained their copy. The fact that current online USHCN and your Dickinson and New England stations match, and co2science’s Dickinson and New England don’t, is suggestive.

    [Response: I think they are using the raw data rather than the data corrected for time of day issues and other known problems (USHCN corrections). This is apparently based on the theory that since the corrections end up with the data showing a trend, they must be biased. Not the most sensible approach to take... -gavin]

  16. 116
    Pat Neuman says:

    Thanks Tom, and Gavin. There’s one more thing I’d like to share on this. The monthly avg mean temp. data at New England ND shows a missing symbol for July 1930. Also, the Aug 1930 (73.9 F) for New England is too high compared to values for August at nearby climate stations. I think the 73.9 F may be for July 1930, and Aug 1930 is likely the missing month for that year. Perhaps that what tripped somebody up in the original study. Perhaps a keypunch error.

  17. 117
    Urs Neu says:

    Re 105
    Pat, it was Gavin who mentioned it, not you. Sorry.

  18. 118
    Brian Forbes says:

    Re your comment on 112
    I refer to my posts 51 and 70
    The temperature relationship comes from a truly rural site .The only way to get a true picture of GW is to use data from stations unaffected by urban sprawl.

    [Response: Why so coy? Which single site are we talking about? -gavin]

  19. 119
    Brian Forbes says:

    You couldn’t have read 51
    Other truly rural stations the positions of which I have checked using Google Earth also correlate well with the length of the Solar cycle similarly to Armagh Observatory.I personally don’t believe the GISS global temperatures (see 118)

  20. 120
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    I really appreciate this article and your excellent discussion of science (from scire, “to know”). Glad to hear there are some good and reasonable judges out there.

    At the same time I am very distressed that as a whole high GHG-emitters have not made much of an effort to reduce, (1) considering they can do so by 1/3, 1/2, or even 3/4+ cost-effectively without lowering living standards or productivity; and (2) in the face of growing evidence of AGW and possible great harms (not to mention other problems from such inefficient & wasteful consumption). The U.S., for example, has increased its emissions by 18% since 1990. I didn’t want to express my distress in an open manner, so I made a joke of it by saying GW lent support to the Theory of Devolution — at least re our species, Homo stupidus maximus.

    Evolution does not mean progress or things are getting better, or we are superior in any way to our ancestors or “lower” forms. From a theological perspective, one might say we are worse, since the “lower” forms cannot sin. We are not inherently more evil (or stupid) than our ancestors, but technological “development” (my Boasian anthro prof would not use the term “evolution”) has made it possible to do much more harm. What has culturally evolved is our ability to destroy life (weaponry, AGW, etc.). That’s nothing to be proud of.

    So we destroy ourselves or at least do tremendous damage. What does that prove? And we fairly well know about it in excruciating detail through science as we do it. Does that make us smart or wise (sapiens)? I’ve been thinking every year, every day since 1990, that people will finally wake up & start reducing their GHGs. Then surely from 1995 on, when the first studies reached 95% confidence. Now I almost think it’s not going to happen. If 95% is not enough confidence, will 99% be enough? We’ve made a bad & stupid decision, and it seems we’re sticking to it to the bitter end.

    All the big scientific breakthroughs or paradigm shifts have been very decentering for us arrogant humans: (1) the sun & stars do not revolve around us; (2) we came from a lowly source (of course, according to the Judeo-Christo-Islamic origin story we came from dirt); and (3) we have perhaps become worse, not better, if we refuse to mitigate AGW.

  21. 121
    Pat Neuman says:

    I created a 2nd temperature plot (1920-2005) for New England, ND at my climate station website. In the 2nd plot for New England, I used Mott(0.7 F) for missing years before 2005, and Dickinson(+1.8 F) for 2005.

    Also, I replied to a comment at ClimateConcern yahoo group…

    Co2science should not show a graph based on old data (2000) . What
    they’ve done is irresponsible – misleading. Many people (general
    public) aren’t too sharp at looking for details, or people don’t take
    the time to remember everything. People remember the false conclusion by co2science of no or a neg trend, and their sad joke of “no global warming here!” How is that not disturbing to anyone?

    My climate station website is:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

  22. 122
    Matt says:

    Re 119

    Biodiversity favors efficient oxidizers and photosynthesisers. Man has shown the ability to create more work from an efficient carbon source.

    So being a product of evolution, how can we trust our judgment in these issues? For example, Brazilians burned the forest for many years before the government, at the urging of ecologists demanded it stop. So, man subsituted the tractor for the match. We made Brazilian deforestation part of the oil economy.

    If we let evolution proceed, a predicted outcome would be to make the entire energy cycle run under fossil, nuclear and fusion energy and forcing a stop to most other oxidizers, mainly the soil microbes. The earth would consist of man and long term carbon construction blocks paving the earth.

    That is man would disconnect biodiversity from the glacial cycle and connect it to the geological cycle.

    I do not need to be told to use gasoline more efficiently, I aleady do, naturally. And you cannot tell me much more, because your motives are as suspect as mine.

  23. 123
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #119. Indeed, a useful thing would be a scientifically defensible operational definition of a “truly rural station.” Consider, for example, that individual contributors to so called “UHI” effects (which I’d more properly term “Arthropogenic Thermal Dissipation and Albedo Change” or some such) are not limited solely to urban areas. Even at the level of individual properties and developments in rural areas, such effects have been introduced since the pre-industrial era. What this implies is that for a station to be “truly rural” it may need to be in a wilderness area, more than a certain distance from the nearest permanent human development or settlement.

  24. 124
    Coby says:

    Brian Forbes:
    “I personally don’t believe the GISS global temperatures”

    It is a complicated business, there undoubtably do exist mistakes, both in simple “typo” style errors and in some of the mothodology or ist application. Of course any given mistake has a 50/50 chance of making things look better just as they may make things look worse.

    But if you really do reject the temperature record, how do explain its excellent agreement with so many other independent indicators such as boreholes, proxies, satellites, radiosondes?
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/temperature-record-reliability-attack.html

  25. 125
    Matt says:

    How can the layman be sure that spiking the atmosphere, and causing a sudden melt is not the safest method to restart the glacial cycle? I can see an energy balance theory that says we screwed up a long time ago, and we have to pay a one time fee of 300 gigatons of fossil fuel to restart things.

  26. 126
    Pat Neuman says:

    In 123 Steve wrote: “What this implies is that for a station to be “truly rural” it may need to be in a wilderness area, more than a certain distance from the nearest permanent human development or settlement.”

    Steve,

    NWS sets requirements for official NWS Cooperative climate stations. Most of the stations used for my temperature plots are in rural or forested areas. The numerical value and letters after a station name mean the number of miles and direction from the post office. Many Ccop. sites within the Upper Midwest are read by family farmers, keeping the official station at the same spot and in the family for many generations. Non-government local people have taken tremendous pride in doing this public service well, since the 1880s. We should respect that, and be thankful they took such care in their duties. Many of course, are no longer with us to speak of their efforts.

  27. 127
    PHEaston says:

    Re Lynn V (120)
    Humankind’s progress allows you the luxury to worry about global warming as the ‘biggest threat’. Because you live in a society with a high standard of living, good health care, with higher than ever life expectancy, clearn drinking water, abundant food, you do not need to worry day-to-day where your food is coming from, of dying from tuburculosis, smallpox, cholera, malaria, water-borne diseases, etc. Rather than worrying about the ‘terrible’ state of the world, you should be grateful to be living at a period in our history when our standard of living, quality of life, life expectancy, concern for envrionmental protection, etc, etc, are probably better than ever before. While there is evidence that global warming may be a threat, there are far greater concerns for many millions of people in the world. Worrying about a 0.5 degC temperature rise (since 1979 when CO2 impacts are supposed to have kicked in) and blaming it for every extreme climatic event, just demonstrates how comfortable many of us are.

  28. 128
    Brian Forbes says:

    Coby
    I don’t about boreholes not having researched them but the satellites & radiosondes show less warming than the GISS temperatures and coincide quite well with truly rural sites .
    A good example is given in 126 .Average American temperatures do not agree with GISS since they indicate that there were warmer years in the 1930s than in the 1990s
    You could of course say that this was a local effect but there are truly rural sites all over the earth which indicate the same temperature patterns as the USA.
    The GISS temperatures are contaminated with Urban Heat

    [Response: Repeating something often does not make it true. If you compare the US mean temperatures in the GISS record (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D.gif) they too still show temperatures in the 1930s roughly equivalent to today (i.e. the analysis has been quite good at eliminating urban biases). And apropos Armagh, the observertory is very close to the centre of the city. Hardly a 'rural' site... - gavin ]

  29. 129
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 128

    A big difference in temperatures in the US for 1990s-current vs 1930s-40s is what’s happening in Alaska (much warmer now than 70 years ago).

  30. 130
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #127 –

    To my very great surprise

    W.F. Ruddiman
    “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum: how humans took control of the climate”

    agrees with you, more or less, in the concluding chapter. By the way, I found his “Earth’s Climate: Past and Future” a quite
    easy and useful overview. Interestingly, despite its copyright date of 2000, its already out-of-date in some small aspects.

  31. 131
    Matt says:

    130>

    Since Ruddiman published his book, agriculture has been pushed back to about 10-12,000 BP, based on recent underwater archeology in India, Taiwan, Japan and Turkey.

    I would like to see Ruddiman update his work. For, I believe the earliest proto-agriculturalists were global coolers, not warmers.

  32. 132
    Coby says:

    #127, PHEaston

    Re other things to worry about besides a .5oC warming:

    Like the joke goes, the 10 story free fall is no problem, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom. .5oC suddenly warmer climate is just the beginning and by itself theoretically harmless, but the problem is the resulting loss of biodiversity, destruction of agriculture, displacement of 100′s of millions of people due to changing rainfall patterns and sea level rise and increases in opportunistic organisms that cause disease and inconvenience. Seems to match pretty closely the list of things one might now consider worrying about rather than GW.

    Oh, and your “rather than worry, be grateful” remark is not only a false dichotomy, but there is no conflict in both choices. I am very grateful to live in this time of human history, but I am also worried about the price it comes with. This smacks of the tried and true “why don’t you go live in the USSR if you have so many complaints about here”. Not convincing.

  33. 133
    David B. Benson says:

    Re: #127 via #132

    Coby’s list of problems to be faced isn’t exactly Ruddiman’s, but Ruddiman does suggest some matters which ought to be addressed, such as lack of drinking water. I personally view most of the changes mentioned by Coby, and all of the one’s that I recall from Ruddiman to be a direct result of a large and growing population of people and less a deleterious effect of global temperature. But then, I’m still just learning about climate.

  34. 134
    Coby says:

    Well, kind of like trying to attribute a particularily bad storm to AGW, when the famines come, it won’t be possible to clearly say “x people died due to Global Warming”. Over population, poverty, deforestation, overfishing, all these things contribute to and cause their own difficulties.

    I find this a reason to be even less hopeful about adaptation of ecosystems. We are throwing a climate change problem at the biosphere that a completely healthy one would struggle with, but we have clearly stacked the deck against success already with other forms of pollution and over population.

  35. 135
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #27, well, my relatives in India sure don’t like GW & they are very aware it’s happening. None have died yet from it, but they’ve had plenty of problems from it alreay. And many people there have died from heat deaths, droughts, suicides from farm loses due to droughts, tremendous floods. You never hear about those folks in the news, because they just don’t count to us. Some of our property there was also heavily damaged by the flood of all time (likely increased by GW), acc to our relatives. And I live in a hurricane zone here in the Gulf of Mexico. We just barely missed Emily last year.

    So, at least for my sake, for someone you know through a blog, please do reduce your GHGs, & even better, encourage others to do so.

  36. 136
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #126. The referenced post completely misses my point. UHI is a misnomer. Human induced thermal dissipation and albedo changes are not limited to urban areas or even rural towns. Even the indivual dwellings and outbuildings, not to mention roadways, high quality structures, pads, concrete berms, culverts, etc – all of them exert influence. To escape such influences one needs to be very, very remote in location.

    [Response: How about remote mountain areas? All over the globe with very few exceptions, mountain glaciers are retreating rapidly. This can be used to infer temperature changes, as in Oerlemans (Science, 2005). -stefan]

  37. 137
    Hank Roberts says:

    Steve, is this the argument you’re making? This is as close as I can come to finding any basis for what you’re saying.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=41

    If that’s not what you’re talking about, can you be any clearer about your argument?

  38. 138
    Brian Forbes says:

    ” they too still show temperatures in the 1930s roughly equivalent to today (i.e. the analysis has been quite good at eliminating urban biases)”
    Exactly.Urban biases hve not been eliminated in the GISS global temperature
    ” And apropos Armagh, the observertory is very close to the centre of the city. Hardly a ‘rural’ site… – gavin ]”
    This is untrue ,read the reference in my post which says
    ” What makes the data so useful is that the site of the observatory has not changed all that much in 200 years,” said Dr Butler. “Other weather stations have been engulfed by towns and cities that make the long-term reliability of their data questionable.”

    [Response: ????? I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland here. I point out that the continental US analysis from GISS sucessfully matches the data you discuss from purely rural stations. A logical conclusion would be that the GISS methodology doesn't do too badly at removing UHI biases. You strangely draw the opposite conclusion. I point out that the one station that you feel is representative of underlying climate is not a rural site. You then appear to claim that does not matter. There is a bit of contradiction here - either sites don't necessarily need to be completely rural to provide good records (which is close to my contention) or only 'purely' rural stations can be used (which I thought was yours). If Armagh is ok with you and you still insist that the GISS analysis is contaminated, the only conclusion I can draw is that you are approving records purely based on whether you like their results. - gavin]

  39. 139
    guthrie says:

    A map search for the ARmagh observatory shows this:
    http://www.multimap.com/map/browse.cgi?client=public&search_result=&cidr_client=none&lang=&db=GB&keepicon=true&pc=BT619DG&client=public&addr3=&overviewmap=

    I sincerely doubt that it counts as a properly countryside located site, given the area built up around it.

  40. 140
    Matt says:

    If we are evolution’s agent of change, then the only guidance we have comes from evolutionary theory, and in particular, pleistocene evolutionary theory.

    So, maybe we can set some responsibilities and limits on our actions. Possibly, 1) We should engineer marginally fewer mass extinctions over the glacial cycle; 2) To the extent we can do rule one, we (and our cousin’s?) should be a favored species, and of course 3) we should be a little optimistic, experimental and opportunistic in what we do.

    I have no other guidance, but I draw some corollaries. Our terms of employment with evolution should last at least one glacial period of which a quarter of a glacial period has been completed. And two; if we are “let go” by evolution in 80,000 years, then we might return to hunter man culture.

    Beyond that, I am open to suggestions.

  41. 141
    Brian Forbes says:

    With apologies
    The Armagh site is in parkland in the middle of built up area However what Dr Butler infers is that the the UHI of the surroundings has been relatively constant for for the last 200 years This may not be true but it does correlate well with truly rural sites up to about 1970(when most of the rural sites were shut down).
    To clarify, GISS data shows Global temperatures considerably higher in the 1990s than in the 1930s, the USA data shows similar temperatures in the 1990s to those of the 1930s. Urban biases have perhaps been eliminated in the USA Annual temperatures. They certainly have not in GISS Global Temperatures.

  42. 142
    Timothy says:

    Wasn’t there a Nature paper recently that finally put any lingering doubts about the UHI to bed? I think it was by Parker, et al, and was to do with comparing breezy and non-breezy days in rural and urban sites. It seems that Brian is relying just on his ‘assertion’ that the correction for UHI is not sufficient in the global analyses of temperature.

    Some questions for Brian:
    1. What about the observed trends in ocean temperatures?
    2. What evidence do you have for urban biases remaining in the data?

    [Response: And to that, I would add -- What about the observed trend in microwave satellite data, HMM? It's very strange that the MSU data was all the rage when it seemed to contradict the thermometric data, but now that the serial egregious errors of Spencer and Christie have been uncovered, you hear nary a peep about the satellite data anymore from certain quarters. Have these people no shame? (dumb question). I have a clipping from a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, from 1997, on my wall, which features the first cut at the MSU satellite retrieval by S&C, with the bold headline "Science has Spoken -- Global Warming is a Myth." --raypierre]

  43. 143
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #120, 127, 135, I forgot to mention that a farmer friend in India committed suicide due to extreme financial difficulties, due to extreme & persistent droughts in the area–droughts that fit the GW expectations. He was my husband’s classmate & our close neighbor. I understand Africa is also greatly suffering from droughts. It’s the poor who are and will suffer the most from GW. It’s not that GW is doing great harm to me personally (at least not yet)–I’m alive & well-fed & thankful for all that I have–but that I feel responsibility for reducing my harm to others, and a great gaping wound that my fellow humans on the whole are not taking up this responsibility, as well.

  44. 144
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #136 – You’ve highlighted a proxy for temperature, winter precipitation volume or a combination of both. Interesting, but a proxy does not a surface record make.

    RE: #137 – Let me make this real simple for you:
    * A farm in North America or Europe (e.g. the places with the lion’s share of stations) in the year 1850: A rather dodgy and crude affair, made of small shacks, with only peat or wood for warmth (and at that, maybe a single hearth in the main house) and only whale oil or kerosene for light. No pavements or gravel, only mud or dust. Obviously, no electric grid. What is not under cultivation is likely in a wild state. Area under cultivation is only what one man and his draft animals can deal with. Snowed in in the winter in places that get snow.
    * A farm in NA or Europe the year 2006: A substantial cluster of buildings, including a home that is large by the standards of the developed world. Home heated by central heating, outbuildings heated if there is husbandry. Task lighting for 24/7/365 operation. Aggressive snow removal in winter in places that get snow. Pavement or at very least compacted gravel in all work areas not under cultivation. Well developed drainage along roads and tracks, with reinforced concrete in the most critical places. Vegetation close mowed or killed along fence lines and other infrastructure elements. Area under cultivation limited only by the farmer’s finances and by any applicable rule of law. Etc.

    Bottom line. The per capita thermal dissipation, albedo effects, night time reradiation effects, etc, are much greater now than they were in 1850. Each individual farm, ranch, ranger station, ski resort, cabin, etc is its own mini-UHI whereas, in 1850, not only were there clearly far fewer such things in our rural areas, but each of them had a far lower per capita net impact as stated.

    [Response: It's a waste of time listening to you or responding to you until you put some numbers on how much effect this supposed change in albedo and thermal dissipation has on temperature. If you know any physics at all, you ought to be able to estimate how big the effect would be if there were no mixing of heat with the surroundings. Then, if you know a little more physics, you can try to figure out how much this effect is diluted by the inflow of air at around 5-10m/s from the surroundings. Go ahead, make my day. Submit a paper to GRL. --raypierre]

  45. 145
    Coby says:

    Re #141,

    Brian, you are doing something very frustrating to those of us who try to, in good faith, address concerns of people questioning the case for AGW. You make a claim and present some evidence. The evidence is discussed at length and shown clearly to not support said claim. You then say that evidence doesn’t matter, the claim is still true.

    If the evidence you are using to arrive at a claim is shown to be flawed, you either need to present more supporting evidence or abandon the claim. It seems we are all in agreement at the moment that your particular station and the US temperature averages do not support your claim of UHI bias in the GISS anaysis. Now, on what basis do you still insist that this bias is there?

    In particular, I would like to see your explanation for receeding glaciers in the most remote land locations all around the world and the analysis of sea surface temperatures. Given the agreement with the global trend in station data, the very best you could claim is that the GISS analysis is in fact right, only for the wrong reasons.

    Though this might be an interesting technical question for some of the scientists involved, it rather weakens the relevance this doubt in the station data might have for policy decisions.

  46. 146
    Pat Neuman says:

    Steve,

    The article below shows earlier in the year runoff based on the timing of streamflow data. Air temperatures were not part of the study.
    http://www.mnforsustain.org/climate_snowmelt_dewpoints_minnesota_neuman.htm

    100-110 year temperature plots at the link below include Leech Lake Federal Dam in north central Minnesota. There is nothing in the vicinity of the climate station at Leech Lake Dam but water and trees, which have not changed appreciably in over 100 years; yet, the increase in annual average temperatures is substantial at that “wilderness” location. Furthermore, the moose population in northern Minnesota has been in drastic decline, presumably at least partly due to warming temperatures and humidity.

    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

  47. 147
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #146. You are responding to my post with a very local observation that is interesting anecdotal information, but you have not really addressed my post. Do you agree, or disagree, that there is now more Arthropogenic Thermal Dissipation and Albedo Change in typical (e.g settled) rural areas in North America and Europe now, than there was in 1850, yes, or no.

  48. 148
    Hank Roberts says:

    Steve, is the argument you’re using the same one discussed here? It looks to me like you’re raising the same questions discussed previously:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=41

  49. 149
    Ian Forrester says:

    Re: #147. “there is now more Arthropogenic Thermal Dissipation and Albedo Change”. Yes I agree, but most people call it AGW for short.

    Ian Forrester

  50. 150
    Matt says:

    I am not sure that temperature is the best “proxy” argument for defining man’s role in the biosphere. Carbon budgets work much better. If we know the percentage of oxidation and photosynthesis directly or indirectly under man’s control, compared to nature, then the argument is better settled.


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