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Thank you for emitting

A recent movie, ‘Thank You for Smoking‘, amusingly highlighted the lengths that PR reps for the tobacco companies would go to distort the public discourse on the health effects of smoking. Lest you thought that was of merely historical relevance, we would like to draw your attention to two of the funniest videos around. Lifting a page straight out of the Nick Naylor playbook, the CEI (an industry-funded lobby group) has launched a new ad campaign that is supposed to counteract all those pesky scientific facts about global warming.

The first ad (both available here) deserves to become a classic of the genre. It contains the immortal lines ‘CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!’ – it is beyond parody and without content – and so you should definitely see it. The second ad has a little more substance – but is as misleading as you might expect.

They only discuss one scientific point which relates to whether ‘glaciers are melting’. Unsurprisingly, they don’t discuss the dramatic evidence of tropical glacier melting, the almost worldwide retreat of other mountain glaciers, the rapid acceleration of fringing glaciers on Greenland or the Antarctic peninsula. Neither do they mention that the preliminary gravity measurements imply that both Antarctica and Greenland appear to be net contributors to sea level rise. No. The only studies that they highlight are ones which demonstrate that in the interior of the ice shelves, there is actually some accumulation of snow (which clearly balances some of the fringing loss). These studies actually confirm climate model predictions that as the poles warm, water vapour there will increase and so, in general, will precipitation. In the extreme environments of the central ice sheets, it will not get warm enough to rain and so snowfall and accumulation are expected to increase.

To be sure, calculating the net balance of the ice sheets is difficult and given the uncertainties of different techniques (altimeters, gravity measurements, interferometers etc.) and the shortness of many of the records, it’s difficult to make very definitive statements about the present day situation. Our sense of the data is that Greenland is probably losing mass – the rapid wasting around the edge is larger than the accumulation in the center, whereas Antarctica in toto is a more difficult call.

However, one should step back a bit from what has been going on in recent years, and consider what is likely to happen in the future. The last time the planet may have been a degree or so warmer than today (about 120,000 years ago), sea level was around 5 to 6 meters higher – and that water must have come from Greenland and (probably) the West Antarctic ice sheet. With projected future rises in emissions of ‘Life!‘ (though we like to call it ‘carbon dioxide’), these sorts of temperature rises are clearly possible, and the danger that would eventually pose to the continued existence of some ice sheets is clearly cause for concern.

To summarise, while CEI clearly demonstrate that their job (paraphrasing Nick Naylor again) “requires a certain …. moral flexibility”, the rest of us can be grateful for the amusement they appear to have accidentally bestowed on the world.

Update 21 May: Engineering Professor Curt Davis says TV Spots are Misrepresenting His Research


135 Responses to “Thank you for emitting”

  1. 51
    rasmus says:

    Reading through these comments is enouth to give you some interesting – and perhaps sad – thoughts. What initially strikes me is that such Ads and Science do not go together! The objective of these TV-Ads, as I see them, is to indoctinate, and furthermore putting such a spin on it inhibits critical thinking. Such phenomena used to be described in a visionary book called ’1984′.

    I can also recommend a post called ‘Communicating climate change’ by Simon Retallack, on a website called openDemocray.org (http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/ankelohe_3550.jsp). I think it’s appropriate to bring this up here, despite openDemocracy.org’s general focus on politics. This piece offers some food for thought and offers a gloomy message, although subtle (because there may be some truth in it?). I wonder if the only way to get the message through is through public demonstration (Schools, museums, academic societies, home kits, etc) – show that CO2 physically absorbs infra red light, show how this may lead to a warming when heat doesn’t escape as it would without, and that this effect may explain why Venus has higher surface temperature (an observation does not appear to be consistent with the arguement that CO2 only has a weak effect once the CO” makes the atmosphere opaque to infra red light).

  2. 52
    Marlowe Johnson says:

    Dano,

    Actually it’s land for food and fuel not either/or. My point is not so much whether corn-based ethanol “a good idea” or not as such, but rather that the debate over it much like AGW is opportunistically misframed by both sides. Proponents in the U.S. like to use the fuel-of-the-future-GHG-friendly while detractors use the fuel-instead-food-will-starve-the-world frame. Either frame is pretty dishonest IMHO.

    As I said earlier, I prefer the other types of ethanol from a GHG perspective (especially cellulosic) but there are a host of other reasons to promote ethanol-use in any form including energy security, agricultural support, sticking it to the oil companies :), etc.

    Also, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to start talking about all the land we would need to replace ALL the gasoline we consume. Its a tactic that’s supposed to demonstrate how impractical biofules are. But last time I checked most vehicles run on ethanol up to 10% and need to be modified to run on E85, so it’s unlikely that total replacement will or even should happen anytime soon. Biodiesel is similarly limited to blends of 2-10% because of cold weather issues (put your olive oil in the fridge and you’ll see what I mean).

    The point is that its not really useful to talk about biofuels as an all-or-nothing replacement — they’re simply one of many solutions out there.

    cheers,

  3. 53
    Jan Rooth says:

    Re: #5

    With John Stossel and Micheal Chrichton as the “special guests” I don’t hold out a lot of hope for reason (or at least truth) prevailing at this event.

  4. 54
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Dear Rasmus,

    In your reply, you raise an interesting point, which has a perfectly good explanation.

    In your GRL, you have shown that the warming over the past 30 years does not correlate with the solar proxies (sunspots, 10.7cm, solar cycle length) or galactic cosmic ray flux (CLIMAX neutron monitor data). Basically, the increased solar activity could explain the warming up to the 1940′s but it cannot do a good job in explaining the warming from the 1970′s.

    There are two crucial points, however:

    a) I never said that increased solar activity – reduced cosmic rays flux – reduced low altitude cloud cover is the only climate driver. As best as I can estimate, cosmic rays explain almost all the warming until the 1940′s, and a large fraction of the warming from the 1970′s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some anthropogenic contribution over the past century. There could very well be if the anthropogenic aerosols effects are smaller than the GHGs. In fact, in such a case there should be unless the sensitivity is ridiculously small, which it isn’t (I am not one of those people who see things in black or white only).

    b) None of the proxies you use in your paper captures the behavior of the high energy cosmic rays which are those responsible for low altitude ionization (typically 10-20 GeV, these would be the energies which could affect cloud condensation nuclei formation). In your low energy proxies, there is no significant increase from the 1970′s (which is why you claim that CRs cannot explain much of the warming in the 20th century). If however, you look at ion chamber data (which is sensitive to notably higher energies) you can clearly see a rise up to the 1950′s (from the start of the ion chamber data in the 1930′s), a decrease to the 70′s and then a significant increase afterwards. That is, cosmic rays can adequately explain the temperature increase, counter to your claims. (To see these trends, take a look at fig. 6 in here). Apparently, the solar modulation of the cosmic ray flux is not exactly the same at different energies, and the rise from the 1970′s is one example.

    So, the bottom line is that cosmic rays can do a good job in explaining the temperature increase if you look at the right energies. Unfortunately, we don’t have ion chamber data going back before the 1930′s, so any choice would have less correlation with the actual atmospheric ionization, though some correlations should obviously exist. The best proxy going back would be 7Be and 14C which are sensitive to of order 1GeV cosmic rays, but as you see from comparison with ion chamber data, it is not the best proxy. As for the solar cycle length, I would be very careful in using it, since no one has any idea why it should be correlated with high energy cosmic ray flux variations in the first place.

    [Response:Could you please explain why some (eg Svensmark) claim that a decrease in the cosmic rays flux produces a warming, while you say its an increase (since 1970)? If there is a positive trend in the low altitude ionisation, that would according to Svensmark lead to more low clouds (higher albedo -> cooling) while a decrease in low altitude ionisation would lead to less clouds (lower albedo -> warming). Also, the level of solar activity is purported to be negatively correlated with the cosmic ray flux, so a the increase in the solar activity before 1940 would expect to reduce the cosmic rays since the heliosphere is thought to shield our solar system against galactic cosmic rays, and that the heliosphere is affected by the solar wind 'dragging' with it the solar magnetic fields. As far as I know the cosmic rays you have looked at also have their source outside our solar system (galactic spiral arms). Just out of curiosity, what is the theory behind how the high-energy particles different behaviour to those eg measured by Climax? -rasmus]

    [Response:P.S. For the benefit of the reader, we should give some links on Cosmic rays and particle detectors such as ionization chambers, cloud chambers and bubble chambers. There is also a discussion about high-energy cosmic rays , particles which seem to violate physical theory (the 'GZK paradox'). The high-energy cosmic rays represent a small fraction of the cosmic rays as the flux allegedly falls approximately as the inverse-cube of the energy.

    The issue of decrase-increase resolves itself from figure 6 which was referred to: there seems to have been a decrease, even in the high energy-energy rays (y-axis is reversed). It's interesting that high-energy particles, which would presumably(?) be less affected by the shielding of the Heliosphere (magnetic fields), would have a more marked decrease here. There are of course factors other than solar activity that could play a role, and furthermore, there are, according to Wikipedia, some important aspects of the high(er) energies not quite fully understood. In this case, one could look at other evidence, since it has been proposed that the cosmic rays affect the low clouds. The question whether there has been any trend in the amount of low clouds probably remains inconlusive due to uncertainties in the data, but there has been some papers suggesting an increase (contrary to what a reduction of cosmic rays would give, if the mechanism is true) in the global mean low clouds over the oceans (3.6% between 1952 and 1995). There are other complicating factors also, such as pollution from ship traffic and the so-called global dimming (see several posts here on RC), which would be expected to counter-act and hypothetical decrease in low-level cloudiness.]

  5. 55
    Mark A. York says:

    Niv says he spent hours on the issue. Hours mind you.

  6. 56
    Nir Shaviv says:

    With regards to:

    [shaviv:] (1) If cosmic rays affect climate then you will have another possible explanation to the observed global warming, since overall, the cosmic ray flux (at high energies, those which are responsible for the tropospheric ionization) has increased over the 20th century (increased up to the 1940′s then again from the 1970′s).

    [Response by rasmus:] Some say that the cosmic flux has to decrease in order to get a warming, the hypothesis being that they affect the nucleation of cloud condensation nuclei and thus the low cloud cover (personally, I’m still far from convinced!). So, how do you propose that the rays affect the climate (I must have missed something here – adittedly, I didn’t look up all your links…), and why do you think that theother explanation is wrong and yous is true (they clearly cannot both be true). -rasmus

    Obviously, it was a typo on my behalf, it should have been:

    Overall, the cosmic ray flux decreased over the 20th century (the solar activity increased).

    [Response:Fair enough.. -rasmus]

  7. 57
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Rasmus, with regards to your comments:

    We can be fairly confident that the sensitivity on ~11-year time scales is very low – otherwise we would not have been having this discussion, as a strong link surely would have been as well-established as the link between the solar cycle and the Aurora. I think that it is a challenge to then explain why the sensitivity for time scales of 20–50 years would be so much higher…

    You furthermore need to explain why there should be an abrupt change in the sensitivity between the time scales of ~11 years and 20-50 years.

    As far as I understand, different climate models (or empirical determinations) give that the climate response to variations over 11-yrs is typically 0.33-0.68 of the centennial scale. (e.g., Cubasch et al. 1997, Rind et al., 1999, Waple et al. 2002), and the centennial scale is typically damped by a factor of 0.7-0.75 (IPCC report) relative to the equilibrium response. i.e., we expect the 11-yr solar cycle to be damped by something like 0.35 +/- 0.15 of the equilibrium response.

    Over the solar cycle, there is a global temperature variation of 0.1 +/- 0.02 deg, which is driven by a flux variation of 0.35 W/m^2 and an additional 1.0+/-0.4 W/m2 from the cosmic ray/cloud cover variations if the link is real. If the cosmic ray flux climate link is not real, then climate sensitivity is high, and then we have to worry about global warming (but the link is real ;-) of course…)

    Combining the numbers give a sensitivity of Tx2 ~ 1 deg if the cosmic ray flux climate link is real, and 3.5 deg if driven only by luminosity variations.

    So I don’t see any problem. If the cosmic ray flux / climate link is real, on different time scales we see the proper responses, damped as climatologists think those time scale should be damped.

    Finally, if you think that the cosmic rays affect the climate though modulating the low cloud cover and hence the albedo (stronger solar activity -> weaker cosmic ray flux -> fewer low clouds -> decrease in sunlight reflected back to space), then you need to explain why the night temperatures appear to increase faster then day temperatures (for any amplification mechanism involving te albedo, you’d expect the opposite, as there is no sunlight to reflect on the dark side of the planet…). My understanding is that there is no evidence for cosmic rays playing a role in the recent global warming. Please explain if you can offer further insight…-rasmus]

    As you mentioned above, the climate system behaves non-linearly, so detailed responses are clearly hard to predict. But it is not hard to think of possible solutions. e.g., the increased global temperature imply more water vapor in the atmosphere. As such, you will necessarily have a smaller diurnal variation, this would force the night temperature to appear to increase faster than the day temperature. Perhaps this effect is more important for the diurnal temperature variations than the fact that some oceanic regions have less cloud cover (which is where the cosmic ray flux climate link would be most effective). Since no one calculated this, it is cannot be used to prove or rule out anything. Though you do raise an interesting point.

    [Response: Yes, we can agree that this aspect is interesting. What you in essence say, is that the negative trend in the diurnal temperature range can be explained by an increased greenhouse effect -be it water vapour or CO2 (probably both). It's something you can see in climate model simulations with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. You are right, that nobody probably hasn't got their hands dirty and looked into the detailed response of what a 'cosmic ray effect' would be like, so we cannot yet rule out that the effect would (surprisingly) be similar. I propose that someone does the computations. But I'm still not convinced that a positive trend in the cosmic ray flux will lead to a warming, and I'm baffled by the different behaviour you describe of the high-energy particles and those with somewhat lower (still sufficiently high to penetrate earth's magnetic field) energy. By the way, do those high-energy rays cause Aurora? -rasmus]

  8. 58
    Hank Roberts says:

    From http://healthvsmedicine.blogspot.com/

    “… The good news, according to an ongoing series of surveys by the National Science Board, is that the proportion of U.S. adults who are considered scientifically literate has doubled since 1979. The bad news is that it is now 17%. This survey program, directed by Jon D. Miller of Northwestern University, is discussed by Liza Gross in PLoS Biology.”

    Article: http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0040167

  9. 59
    Doug Percival says:

    Dano wrote in comment #48: “Animals eat the corn, and we eat the animals, so it’s still land used for food.”

    That in itself is a wasteful and destructive practice which exacerbates anthropogenic global warming.

    Consider the following, from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

    Average US meat diet = 1.1 gallons of oil/day = 401 gallons/year

    Lacto-ovo vegetarian = .83 gallons of oil/day = 303 gallons/year (25% reduction over meat diet)

    Vegan vegetarian = .60 gallons of oil/day = 219 gallons/year (45% drop over meat diet)

    Average US meat diet requires 1.2 acres land

    Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet requires .85 acres of land

    Vegan vegetarian diet requires .61 acres of land

    (All figures above from Dr. David Pimentel, Cornell University)

    According to a 23-year study by the Rodale Institue, an organic acre of farmland sequesters about 3670 pounds of CO2 per year. Organic farming also uses about 63 percent less fossil fuel inputs for production than conventional farming, according to Pimentel.

    Thus: An organic vegetarian requires only .85 acres of land and that acre sequesters up to 3119 pounds of CO2 per year. The nonorganic vegetarian diet requires 303 gallons of oil per year. So 303 gallons times 22 pounds of CO2 per gallon minus .85 acres of land times 3670 pounds of sequestered CO2 = 3546.5 pounds of CO2 which equals 161 gallons of oil.

    Thus, an organic lacto-ovo vegetarian diet generates 60 percent less C02 (161 gallons of oil/year) than a average meat-based non-organic diet (401 gallons of oil/year).

    Using the same data, the CO2 reduction for a vegan organic diet is 70 percent (117 gallons of oil/year).

  10. 60
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Rasmus, with regards to:

    [Response:It's funny that I seeing the growing body of evidence going the other way. There is a link to the paper by Usoskin et al. here. Personally, I did not find the paper very convincing...

    Not all evidence is always at a 3 sigma level. The key point is that to within the level of the noise (and the climate system has a lot of noise), the system behaves as you expect it to. Often I hear people claim that you should see a huge effect at polar regions, and a very small one in tropical regions because of Earth’s magnetic field. This paper demonstrates that the polar-equatorial effect should not be large, but still detectable, and it is indeed detected (or “consistent with theory”, you choose the wording).

    As for the particular graph, it is hard to actually asses the statistical significance. How significant is the overall result of many bins each one significant at 68%? much higher than 68% of course.

  11. 61
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Mark York,

    You write:

    Niv says he spent hours on the issue. Hours mind you.

    If you would have really taken a careful look, you would have seen that

    a) My name is Nir and not Niv.

    b) That I I have been working and publishing in various related topics for at least 5 years, i.e., hours is of course a figure of speech (perhaps 2000 hours or more if you like). It is easy to make snide remarks when there is nothing smart to say. If you want to have a scientific debate like rasmus or raypierre, go ahead, this is more than legitimate, but such remarks are totally pointless.

  12. 62
    Dano says:

    RE 52 (Johnson):

    Ah. Yes, I understand where you are coming from. I agree.

    RE 57 (Percival):

    Your Rodale fossil fuel inputs is a key.

    What sector will reduce fossil fuel use first? That is: transportation, materials, or agriculture? All three are heavily dependent upon fossil fuel inputs. The agriculture sector could make heavy wins in the reduction department (giving us more time in other sectors) if our economy and agriculture wasn’t set up to transport agricultural goods long distances.

    Best,

    D

  13. 63
    S Molnar says:

    Here’s the thing I don’t get: As I understand it (I’m not a lawyer) most of the famous product liability cases that come to mind – tobacco, asbestos, Vioxx – involved huge awards that were made not because the product was dangerous, but because the manufacturers had evidence that the product was dangerous, and suppressed the evidence and lied about it (the breast implant case is an exception, but usually science wins). If that’s true, it makes no sense for the oil company executives to do this; if they tell the truth, encourage people to use less oil, and use some of their profits to invest in carbon-neutral energy production, they will almost certainly come out ahead in the long run, and probably even in the short run (After all, most of us can’t stop using oil even if we want to). Are these people just plain stupid, or am I missing something?

  14. 64
    Roger Smith says:

    In reponse to 58′s castigation of Mark York, on Nir’s website (http://www.sciencebits.com/CO2orSolar) he tars the IPCC’s work as that of scientsts “who support Kyoto,” as if they started with a political agenda (the IPCC predates Kyoto, FYI) and then pointed their fingers at CO2 and came up with scientific reasons to justify it. If that’s not an unscientific line of reasoning, I don’t know what is. What if we flipped this logic to instead of everyone involved with the IPCC, some individual named Nir decided he didn’t like Kyoto and wanted to justify his opposition by blaming global warming on something other than greenhouse gases? Which scenario seems more likely?

  15. 65
    Mark A. York says:

    I took the quote at face value and don’t need to requote all of the references here by bonafide experts that you are trying to “correct” to support my position. Appeal to authority tells me it is you that needs to prove your case not I. I did miss your name though, and realized it after it was too late. Same thing happened with my Wall Street Journal comment on education today, so copyediting is lagging today. I bet they won’t correct it either.

  16. 66
    Mark A. York says:

    I don’t see the quote now and revisited your argument, but the declarative statement leaves me cold. i.e. “mostly solar and NOT anthropogenic and a lot of people won’t like it.”

  17. 67
    Michael T. Neuman says:

    re: 47

    Annual mean temperature at 19 Alaska climate stations (50-75 yr plots) can be viewed at:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

  18. 68
    Alan says:

    These people have a right to put a plastic bag on their head and breath all the CO2 they like, I for one would not want to stop them or their followers.

  19. 69
    raypierre says:

    Nir, there is nothing wrong with thinking about possible impacts of cosmic rays on climate. Who knows, someday, something might come of it. We sure could use some new ideas about the Little Ice Age, since it’s hard to do that with straight solar effects, even allowing for ozone feedbacks and spectral variations.

    Where your whole line of thinking is completely off the wall is that you fail to grasp that the CO2 effects on climate have a lot more documented physics behind them than your cosmic ray idea. We can compute the radiative forcing from CO2 to high accuracy, we can compute the radiative effects of water vapor to high accuracy, we know a great deal about how water vapor changes in conjunction with climate, and we even know a fair amount about clouds. Clouds are the weak link in our predictions, but clouds are only a modifying influence on CO2 induced climate change. For you they are the whole story, since there’s no prayer of a chance of a significant cosmic ray effect except through modulation of clouds.

    You write as if you think that the CO2 theory had behind it only the vague correlations between ill-constrained proxies and temperature that your cosmic ray idea rests on. That’s simply not the case. In order to make a case that cosmic rays are a big part of the story in the 20th century you not only need to quantify the effect of cosmic rays far more than anybody has been able to, but you also need to show why the known physical mechanisms linking CO2 to warming fail. All you really have right now are some unquantified speculations about how cosmic rays might affect clouds, plus a correlation between one low frequency signal (cosmic rays) and another (temperature). Naturally, if you throw another low frequency signal into the mix, you can improve correlations. That proves little or nothing.

    If you really think you can model clouds well enough to say what the cosmic ray influence translates into in terms of W/m**2, then that’s great news. If you can model clouds that well, you should put your cloud model into one of the IPCC GCMs. That will eliminate most of the uncertainty in the warming forecast and you’ll become famous! Meanwhile, you ought to take your toys away and not mutter nonsense about how you can call 20th century warming from the vasty deep through the miraculous medium of cosmic rays — not until you can model the effects on clouds well enough to tell us what the radiative forcing is. Right now, so far as I can tell, you can’t even tell us what the sign of the effect is from first principles. (For starters, lets think about the question of why cosmic rays should affect low clouds when there are already plenty of nuclei around at low levels. I know all about the possibilities lurking in the small-cluster barrier, but that’s a long,long ways away from an answer).

  20. 70
    Nir Shaviv says:

    re: #63 (Mark York)

    I don’t see the quote now and revisited your argument,

    Yes I did. Apparently I have no leeway – instead of using a figure of speech I changed the wording to be more precise.

  21. 71
    Ray says:

    Very sad. Unfortunately they’ll be consumed by most people without further question and eagerly repeated as “compelling” argument around water coolers across the US.

  22. 72
    Jim Roland says:

    Re: Raypierre’s response in #36.

    The problem is that current biofuel paper models do not take into account the differing carbon downpayment for individual crops when land is found for them.

    In the case of soya and oil palm, these flourish in hot, wet conditions, which is why large areas of rainforest are being turned over to them. This involves a huge carbon discharge as all this vegetation is cleared. The progress of oil palm plantations in Indonesia is also linked to the drainage of swamp forests, leading to the peat fires that have caused up to 40% as much CO2 discharge as all fossil fuel burning in some years (see here).

    WWF Brazil (see here) recently wrote to an English newspaper to warn of the carbon cost of deforestation partly driven by demand for soya.

    It seems likely that the effect of such carbon downpayments is to narrow, not widen, the window of opportunity to avert dangerous climate change (see here), overriding the effect of savings in mineral diesel.

    The oil plant Jatropha can be grown in more arid tropical conditions, and so offers brighter opportunities. However, a danger with all tropical agriculture is that nitrogen fertilizers are prone to emitting more N2O (an extremely potent GHG) in these conditions, but who will monitor against more damaging use of nitrates?

    Reportedly, African agriculture is currently suffering from depleted soils (see here).

    Finally may I say how much I value this site and you guys’ work, we are all on the same side!

  23. 73
    ahem says:

    Like their disinformative creationist brethern, AGW deniers have been very fond (and adept) at throwing individual comments of previous uncertainty back in the faces of climate scientists and implying that it’s still all uncertainty. I hope people have been keeping track. Now that they are acknowledging that yes, there is ‘some GW caused by people’, someone ought to point out all their previous definitive statements that it’s all a bunch of hooey.

  24. 74
    Mark A. York says:

    Yeah, and be a big hit with Sen. James Inhofe.

  25. 75
    stefan says:

    The German news magazine Der Spiegel rightly notes that the CEI ads “can hardly be topped in absurdity”. I find the scare-tactics about the lights going out when we stop the rise in CO2 concentration particularly distasteful. If the US cuts their per capita emissions by half, they will be at the level of European countries. I can reassure the CEI people that here in Europe we do have electric light, and our children do go to school. And can someone perhaps inform the Competitive Enterprise Institute that a competitive enterprise is an efficient enterprise, not a wasteful one?

  26. 76
    Karen Street says:

    Off topic

    Katherine Ellison’s NY Times op-ed piece today says, “only someone who has been hiding under a rock would need to see the new Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” to learn that global warming is real.”

    I’ve heard this from others but not witnessed it all that dramatically myself. Is this the experience of list readers, that Chricton and Inhofe and Will and a few others excepted, Americans pretty much know that climate change is happening, is serious, and that we have to act?

  27. 77
    Mark A. York says:

    http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/4418_MythsvFacts_05.pdf

    Cosmic Rays p.9

    Crichton thinks it has become common knowledge and his position is we don’t know enough to know anything, but he deliberately manipulated the facts the way they all do to come to that false conclusion.

  28. 78
    Dano says:

    May I just register my admiration for the comment #69 (rp)? My.

    Best,

    D

  29. 79

    #69, Raypierre, I heard about cosmic ray effects for quite some time, and they fail at the cosmic scale, if there is such a thing on clouds, it would be universal, NH SH alike, yet there isn’t very much similarities between NH and SH temperature and cloud anomalies, often one is greater than the other. Cosmic scale events require world wide similarities which I have not noticed…

  30. 80
    Michael T. Neuman says:

    re 75.

    Disputing what’s known to be happening is dishonest. However, when government employees are being told by their supervisors … DO NOT acknowledge that climate change and global warming are happening … they follow instructions and do as they’re told, even if climate change obviously affects their duties (hydrologic modeling and flood prediction). Is doing what they’re told being dishonest? Can anyone blame them?

  31. 81
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #76: Karen, that doesn’t seem off-topic to me…

    Locally, I’ll opine that people know that climate change is happening, but that the high cost of petro-fuels seems much more serious that climate change. Some action is occuring, but mostly to avoid paying for fuel.

  32. 82
    Eli Rabett says:

    With regard to comment 76 from Karen Street and 75 from Stefan. There is a curious nexus here. On the one hand, those of us who are convinced that greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, know that many in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere (including a few in Europe) do not accept this and there is a powerful economic and political lobby who actively support denial. There is an organized push back to Al Gore’s presentation on climate change which seeks to use his comments to show that concern with climate change is alarmism:

    Q: “There’s a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What’s the right mix?

    A. [Gore]: I think the answer to that depends on where your audience’s head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”

    Discussions about this have broken out on Deltoid http://tinyurl.com/jzr8u and Prometheus http://tinyurl.com/n9xas. Roger Pielke’s POV is the same as Katherine Ellison’s, which is curious, since he is a policy studies person who repeatedly states that he accepts the reality of anthropic climate change:

    “This is a wasted effort for a number of reasons. First, as we’ve documented here many times (e.g., here and here) while he public does not have a deep grasp of the technical details of global warming, it does have an overwhelming awareness of the issue. Not only is there awareness, but an overwhelming majority already favor action. Public education to achieve awareness and support for action that already exist will be efforts wasted on the convinced”

    Since we all know that there is a huge lobbying and public affairs effort funded by industry and right wing groups that are actively engaged in trying to convince people that there is no problem associated with global climate change, the only sane conclusion one can reach is that those claiming the everyone already knows that there is a problem so there is no need to press the point, are themselves willing, although subtle, participants in the effort to prevent universal acknowledgement and action.

    My take on the situation http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006/05/banned-in-boulder.html

  33. 83
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Raypierre,

    With regards to you comment (in post #65), here is my input:

    We can compute the radiative forcing from CO2 to high accuracy,

    I totally agree.

    we can compute the radiative effects of water vapor to high accuracy, we know a great deal about how water vapor changes in conjunction with climate,

    I totally agree.

    and we even know a fair amount about clouds. Clouds are the weak link in our predictions, but clouds are only a modifying influence on CO2 induced climate change.

    Allow me to disagree. We may know a fair amount about clouds but we know very little about how to quantify their climatic effect. There is an interesting paper by Cess et al. in Nature (I think 1990 +/- 1 yr) which showed that the biggest uncertainty in the determination of climate sensitivity in GCMs is the recipe used for cloud cover. In models where the cloud cover feedback is more pronounced, you get a small sensitivity (e.g., CO2 doubling temperature of 1.5) or a high sensitivity (e.g., 4.5 deg) if the cloud cover feedback is small. So, the “modifying influence of clouds” is in fact paramount for the prediction of the temperature effect of CO2 or any climate driver, if the prediction is made using numerical modeling.

    For you they are the whole story, since there’s no prayer of a chance of a significant cosmic ray effect except through modulation of clouds.

    Yes, but that is not a problem. All the evidence points towards cloud cover variations.

    You write as if you think that the CO2 theory had behind it only the vague correlations between ill-constrained proxies and temperature that your cosmic ray idea rests on. That’s simply not the case.

    The evidence is supposedly summarized in chapter 12 of the TAR. I read it carefully, and wasn’t convinced. Yes, there is clear evidence that the global temperature increased. But the evidence that it is anthropogenic is shaky. It basically rests on modeling which shows that if you include anthropogenic GHGs, you get consistent signatures (e.g., relative temperature changes between the troposphere/stratosphere and northern/southern hemispheres), on the fact that “internal variability” cannot explain the temperature rise, and on the assumption that there are no other plausible mechanisms to explain the warming (which there isn’t if you disregard the solar/cosmic-ray/climate link). However, there is no smoking gun to which you can say, “Aha! it is necessarily CO2″. If you think otherwise, give me one good example of a CO2 signature in global warming.

    With cosmic rays, the story is different. The body of evidence may not be as broad as the evidence for global warming, or as elaborate as the numerical modeling carried out for GHGs. No GCM was run to see if changing cloud cover due to cosmic ray flux variations can explain the apparent observational signatures. For one, no one knows exactly how the cloud cover changes (i.e., how to parameterize the cosmic ray flux effect on clouds). However, unlike CO2, cosmic rays have unique signatures. For example, the low altitude cloud cover varies in sync with the cosmic ray flux. Since it is not a monotonic function like the increase of CO2, it is a rather unique signature. And of course, there are variations in the cosmic ray flux over the past billion years which correlate well with spiral arm passages. Of course, you like to wave Rahmstorf et al’s critique about statistical significance (to which you can read the rebuttal and all that). But the key point for me, which you don’t know, is that once I hit upon the idea and started checking it out, every single test I devised for it worked. I cannot quantify this success, but the way I see it, it is nothing less than remarkable.

    For example, when I first sent the idea for publication, it was before I had a reconstruction of the cosmic ray flux (just astronomical vs. geological data), everything looked nice and consistent (I also had no idea about any implications to climate sensitivity and all that). Then, I realized that the cosmic ray flux could perhaps be reconstructed using the meteoritic data. At first I thought I would have to play with it (smooth, filter etc), but lo and behold, I could see with the unaided eye that the cosmic ray flux is periodic with a 145 Million year period and the right phase. When I saw that, my jaw simply fell. Never in my wildest dream did something agree so well like that. Everything else I checked afterwards agreed as well. So as you see, I have my own very good reasons to believe cosmic rays affect climate.

    As for CO2, If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have said that global warming is anthropogenic, and as an environmentalist (yes I am very much one), I would have said that something like Kyoto is a must, as is other things like researching fusion. But from my point of view, after reading the literature over and over, I just saw that things don’t add up. I fail to see the smoking gun proving it is CO2, while everything I stumble upon from my point of view, keeps pointing towards cosmic rays and towards the fact that the sensitivity is low (close to a black body Earth).

    In order to make a case that cosmic rays are a big part of the story in the 20th century you not only need to quantify the effect of cosmic rays far more than anybody has been able to,

    Incorrect. Simply look at ion chamber data, which is of high energy cosmic rays, and you will see the 20th century temperature trend in the data. The problem of quantifying the effect over the 20th century is actually easy if you know what you are looking for (i.e., the energies which cause the atmospheric ionization).

    but you also need to show why the known physical mechanisms linking CO2 to warming fail.

    Who said they fail? CO2 causes warming. The problem is that given climate models cannot predict the sensitivity to within a factor of 3 or so, it is impossible to quantify the role played by GHGs. All I have to show then is that climate sensitivity is on the low side, and empirical evidence demonstrate just that (see my JGR paper mentioned above), in fact, the empirical evidence becomes self consistent if you add the cosmic ray flux forcing, leading to a 1-1.5 deg temperature sensitivity.

    All you really have right now are some unquantified speculations about how cosmic rays might affect clouds,

    Nope, they are quantified. e.g., read the JGR paper above. The effect of tropospheric ionization is dT_global / dI = 7.5 +/- 2 deg C (i.e., 0.75 deg change per 10% change in the tropospheric ionization [or 20% in the relevant cosmic ray flux]).

    plus a correlation between one low frequency signal (cosmic rays) and another (temperature). Naturally, if you throw another low frequency signal into the mix, you can improve correlations. That proves little or nothing.

    Disagree. Cosmic ray flux / climate correlations exist on the widest possible range of time scales. You see correlation from the 11 yr solar cycle to a billion years, and on each intermediate time scale where you know there should be large cosmic ray flux variation. Thus, it is not only improving the correlations over the 20th century (which would have indeed proven nothing if it were the case).

    If you really think you can model clouds well enough to say what the cosmic ray influence translates into in terms of W/m**2, then that’s great news.

    No I cannot model them. However, you can see empirically the change in the low altitude cloud cover and the radiative effect of those were quantified by the ERBE experiment. (again, see the JGR paper I liked above. The change in the low altitude cloud cover over the solar cycle corresponds to a radiative forcing of 1+/-0.4 W/m^2).

    Right now, so far as I can tell, you can’t even tell us what the sign of the effect is from first principles. (For starters, lets think about the question of why cosmic rays should affect low clouds when there are already plenty of nuclei around at low levels.

    Look for ship tracks in “visible earth”. You’ll find the answer. There are plenty of oceanic regions which are devoid of condensation nuclei. In these regions, if a ship passes by, its exhaust particles serve as cloud condensation nuclei. The clouds formed in the ship’s wake are then whiter. So obviously, if you could form CCNs more effectively, you would cause cooling. It is also easy to explain it from first principles given that you have more, smaller drops if the number of CCNs is higher, such that the surface to volume ratio of the drops is larger (again, this is explained and estimated in the above JGR). So as you see, once the CN->CCN link will be experimentally established, even the physical link will be proved, and this will take place sooner than your think. Of course, given the empirical evidence, the link should be taken seriously already now, and not brushed off as “off the wall line of thinking”. If you are interested in knowing more about why low altitude should be more affected, read Yu, F. (2002), Altitude variations of cosmic ray induced production of aerosols: Implications for global cloudiness and climate, J. Geophys. Res., 107(A7), 1118, doi:10.1029/2001JA000248.

    [Response: A few comments. i) a correlation of CRF to cloud cover doesn't imply a direct CRF-cloud mechanism - it could simply be a feedback response to the irradiance forcing - but looking at the spatial pattern it's so indistinct and incoherent that it could simply be noise. ii) The nature of the ISSCP data do not allow you to distinguish between a true low cloud response and/or a response above that just masks out low clouds. iii) simplisitic arguments about low clouds vs high clouds and their impact on surface temperatures do not take into account the true complexities of cloud effects (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/cloudy-outlook-for-albedo/ for instance). iv) Even the ship track data are pretty ambiguous about what the net effects of extra condensation nuclei are (see Ackerman et al, 2000 for instance), v) the estimates for the CRF forcing you assume at the LGM (to pick one of your examples) appear to be based on raw 10Be concentrations without any correction for accumulation, geomag changes or the possibility of climate impacts on the 10Be transports - (see Field et al (2006) for instance). None of this adds up to a coherent set of evidence and while I wouldn't rule out the possibility of direct CRF effects, the lack of any climate changes at the magnetic reversals (which should be accompanied by huge increases in CR fluxes), or at the Laschamp event imply that they are likely to be very small. - gavin]

  34. 84
    ahem says:

    I trust ya all have seen this?

    https://cf.iats.missouri.edu/news/NewsBureauSingleNews.cfm?newsid=9842

    So why not counter with ads with the scientists whose work has been distorted responding?

    Then you can add info on the oil industry source of CEI funding http://thinkprogress.org/2006/05/17/attack-on-gore/ . On another ad you can juxtapose their previous statements that global warming is baloney with some current statements that there is some GW caused by people after all – though disputing its effects (‘course get ready for them to do the same with the global cooling myth).

  35. 85
    ahem says:

    Here’s a funny idea for another counter ad: have a mock CEI or Exxon exec breathing in a paper bag. Run the words from their site about how great Co2 is, if some is good MORE is even better. The exec keeps breathing until he starts to get a little woozy. Finally he passes out. Then the words: How stupid do they think you are?

  36. 86
    Stephen Berg says:

    An update on a link previously posted:

    http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2006/05/19/arctic-ice.html

  37. 87

    I hope someone will be doing a survey to see how effective these ads are. I don’t think it would be too far-fetched to see that the American public would be convinced that “CO2 is our friend!” After all, something like 72% believed Saddam was behind 9/11; even higher for US troops recently, 85% think they are in Iraq .. to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks.”

    http://zogby.com/search/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm

    So I’m afraid the sad (perhaps obvious) lesson is that money & power trump science everytime, whether you’re Galileo or Hansen or Mann! ;-)

  38. 88
    ahem says:

    Or this time have the bag placed completely over his head. After he passes out and the line scrolls across saying “How stupid do they think we are?” someone says in the background “Getting hot in there?” :-)

  39. 89
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Re #79 by Wayne Davidson

    Regarding: I heard about cosmic ray effects for quite some time, and they fail at the cosmic scale, if there is such a thing on clouds, it would be universal, NH SH alike, yet there isn’t very much similarities between NH and SH temperature and cloud anomalies, often one is greater than the other. Cosmic scale events require world wide similarities which I have not noticed…

    On the same token, one can say that because CO2 forcing is the same in both hemispheres, the global warming in the SH and NH should be the same. This is not the case for CO2 nor is it for cosmic rays. The reason is the large asymmetry between the two hemisphere. One has a lot of land mass and the other a lot of oceans. So, the point is not relevant.

  40. 90
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Rasmus,

    Regarding your response to my response to your response to my post… ;-)

    Anyway, on a more serious note, you comment:

    Response: Yes, we can agree that this aspect is interesting. What you in essence say, is that the negative trend in the diurnal temperature range can be explained by an increased greenhouse effect -be it water vapour or CO2 (probably both).

    Could be. I think all climate models give more water vapor in the atmosphere with increased temperature, irrespective of the source of warming. With CO2, the effect will be larger of course.

    It’s something you can see in climate model simulations with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. You are right, that nobody probably hasn’t got their hands dirty and looked into the detailed response of what a ‘cosmic ray effect’ would be like, so we cannot yet rule out that the effect would (surprisingly) be similar. I propose that someone does the computations.

    Agree. The problem though is that as long as the possibility for a cosmic ray climate link is dismissed immediately, no body with the heavy tools will invest any effort to study and quantify the effect, whether it is large or small…

    But I’m still not convinced that a positive trend in the cosmic ray flux will lead to a warming, and I’m baffled by the different behaviour you describe of the high-energy particles and those with somewhat lower (still sufficiently high to penetrate earth’s magnetic field) energy. By the way, do those high-energy rays cause Aurora? -rasmus]

    eh… perhaps my typo before managed to confuse. Over the past century, solar activity increased. This decreased the cosmic ray flux reaching Earth. (they lose more energy as they swim up the solar wind), this implies less atmospheric ionization, and (presumably) less low altitude cloud cover and hence warming. The auroras are caused by electrons from the solar wind (with typical energies of 10 kev). Thus, when the sun is more active, there are more low energy particles from the sun (and hence more auroras) but less (galactic) cosmic rays from outside the solar system.

    [Response: If respectable scientists are in the habit of dismissing the hypothetical cosmic-ray influence out of hand, you have only yourself to blame, with not a little help from the school of Friis-Christenson and Svensmark. The record of exaggeration, sloppy inference, bad statistics and (in some cases) outright misleading presentation of data would be enough to put off any serious scientist, and give you a very uphill battle to get any attention if and when you ever have anything to say that stands up to scrutiny.

    Your remarks on clouds in #83 only show that you didn't pay any real attention to the argument I was making. There is no need to point out the Cess et al cloud paper (Herve LeTreut and I wrote the cloud feedback section of the IPCC Third Assessment Report). We are all in agreement that clouds are the main reason for the uncertainty in climate sensitivity. You failed to appreciate the content of my remark: that for CO2, the clouds amplify or damp the warming, but we don't need the clouds to determine the basic driver of the mechanism. Though there is uncertainty in the magnitude of response, we always get substantial warming in all the cloud models that have been implemented so far. From present observations and verifications of cloud schemes, we do have some information about how well the cloud models are doing, even if we don't yet have enough to say which of them are "best." This situation is very different from your situation with cosmic rays. For cosmic rays, instead of clouds being a modifying effect on a known forcing, instead 100% of the effect is mediated by clouds -- and by nucleation processes at that, which are the hardest part of the cloud behavior to quantify. Your declaration that the correlation between cosmic rays and low clouds is "overwhelming" doesn't make it so, nor does this count as a calculation of radiative forcing from first principles. Without that, you can't even tell me the sign of the expected climate response to cosmic rays. How far are you from being able to do that? Very far. You'd have to be able to go from the effect of cosmic ray collisions to small nucleii and from there to activated nuclei. You'd have to say how that affects the droplet size under various assumptions regarding non-GCR related nuclei. You'd have to say how that all depends on height. You'd have to say how that all depends on latitude, and interacts with the water supply that feeds clouds, which involves the rest of the circulation. You also need to keep in mind that if you are saying that cloud processes make the climate sensitivity to CO2 less (hence allowing more role for GCR forcing), then that same cloud stabilization is apt to apply to your GCR related forcing as well.

    All that might be interesting to do, and would probably be worthwhile. If you want people to take you seriously, that's what you've got to do. I'm not convinced enough of the plausibility of the mechanism that I would take time out from more promising lines of research to do it. If you're so convinced, you need to go do it yourself, or team up with somebody who can. Meanwhile, what you are doing is trying to estimate climate sensitivity from GCR correlations, when you don't even know the sign of the radiative forcing due to GCR with any great confidence. Not only that, you are arguing for turning all of climate and energy policy on its head based on these thin suppositions. That's beyond sloppy science. That's positively irresponsible.

    I think somebody will eventually pick up on the subject and do the job in a careful way, but it's likely to come out of some party that doesn't have an agenda. That's pretty much what has happened with the more responsible end of the solar forcing community, though a lot of them had to work hard to overcome the bad reputation cast on the whole subject by Svensmark and company. I'll start paying serious attention to the GCR idea when somebody who really knows about nucleation (like Markku Kulmala) weighs in on the subject. I think the 2002 Science article by Carslaw, Harrison and Kirby laid out the microphysical issues rather well. The article is outdated with regard to a number of the observational issues, but there has not been much real progress on the really important questions -- the microphysical mechanisms -- since their publication. That's where the effort ought to be going, not into some premature GCR-based crusade against Kyoto and the like.

    This is the last response you'll get out of me on the subject. I stick by my assertion that you can't even say what the expected sign of the response is, and have no business attributing any of the 20th century climate change to GCR until you do. All the ever-expanding verbiage you respond with can't conceal that simple fact, and I think we're well past the point of diminishing returns in this dialog. --raypierre]

  41. 91
    Mark A. York says:

    “the global warming in the SH and NH should be the same. This is not the case for CO2 nor is it for cosmic rays.”

    This seems to me to be logically disconnected. You have to truly believe the two forcings are equal. Everything I’ve seen indicates they aren’t.

    [Response: The main reason for the difference between NH and SH response to CO2 is that the SH has more ocean, which retards the warming (a big factor so far) and which, even in equilibrium, damps the hemispheric mean seasonal cycle (a more subtle factor, with regard to annual mean temperatures at least). It's possible that similar considerations might apply to the response to GCR modulations of clouds (if that indeed exists). If the GCR crowd ever stop crowing about the policy implications of their work long enough to do the hard work of saying how GCR translates quantitatively into cloud radiative forcing, somebody will be able to put the effect in a GCM and answer the question fairly easily. --raypierre]

  42. 92
    Gareth says:

    Re #86 (and well off this topic – sorry) What are the model sensitivities to Arctic sea-ice melt? We’ve recently had an interesting post on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, but I can’t recall much on sea ice. Specifically, what do the current models suggest is a reasonable time frame for Arctic sea ice reduction (timing and extent), and are we “on target”? I get the sense that we’re into positive feedback here, and that there’s some surprise at how fast things are happening, but perhaps I’m only reacting to alarmist media coverage… ;-)

  43. 93
    John L. McCormick says:

    Gareth, you are on point with your concerns about a positive feedback loop. And, what affect will an Arctic meltback have on the temp and precip patterns in the Central and Western NA agriculture regions?

    I watch the satellite images of the ever-expanding dark surface and that is evidence enough to conclude the diminished albedo must certainly be adding heat to the ocean while liberating the ocean’s heat to the atmosphere.

    And, since you poked the 800 pound, positive feedback gorilla, I am posting analysis of the NOAA hourly CO2 measurements taked at Mauna Loa in 2005 and 2006. They match the NOA CO2 Trend chart at:

    http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/

    By tabulating and comparing recent monthly concentrations to the historic record makes the 2002-APR 2006 concentration increases look like possible positive feedback. How else to explain the increases. Fossil fuel consumption has not risen fast enough to expalin the rise. No El-Nino, yet. Fires? Warm tropical oceans?? Any suggestions??

    I requested the Mauna Loa (MLO) 2005 to May 11, 2006 hourly CO2 data from the NOAA Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases Group.

    After filtering the data, I tabulated the monthly increase year-to-year. Please note the 2005-2006 data are preliminary and subject to change after thorough quality control by the NOAA group.

    The following is the result:

    (my apology for the connecting dots. I did not have any other means to make the chart columns conform. Any suggestions?)

    MONTHLY AV. INCREASE MLO CO2 CONCENTRATIONS

    ……….AV INC………. AV INC………..PRELIM AV.
    ……….BY MO…………BY MO……….INC over 2005
    ……..1958-2002……..2003-2005
    (data in ppmv)

    JAN……..1.32…………1.99……………..2.98
    FEB……..1.35…………2.19…………….2.49
    MAR……..1.36…………2.46…………….1.74
    APR……..1.34…………2.45…………….2.30
    MAY……..1.33…………2.30
    JUN………1.33…………2.27
    JUL………1.34…………2.21
    AUG……..1.32…………2.41
    SEP……..1.32…………2.01
    OCT……..1.32…………2.19
    NOV……..1.33…………2.08
    DEC……..1.35…………2.11

    Granted, the 2005 and Jan-Apr 2006 have not been officially published by NOAA, but the data I present matches the Trends graph.

    Is Mauna Loa recording positive feedback?

    I simply want to turn some attention to observed trends in monthly increased CO2 concentrations in two non-El Nino years.

    Would we recognize positive feedback if it was staring us in the face?

  44. 94
    raypierre says:

    The Washington Post has a very interesting commentary touching on both Al Gore’s movie, and on the CEI ads, . here

  45. 95
    Nir Shaviv says:

    Gavin, regarding your response to post #83,

    [Response: A few comments. i) a correlation of CRF to cloud cover doesn't imply a direct CRF-cloud mechanism - it could simply be a feedback response to the irradiance forcing - but looking at the spatial pattern it's so indistinct and incoherent that it could simply be noise.

    Yes, you are correct that a correlation between A and B doesn't necessarily imply a causal connection, it could be C influencing A and B separately, making it appear as if there is a connection between A and B without a real one, but it wouldn't explain for example correlations between cosmic ray flux and climate over the multimillion year time scale.

    As for the spatial pattern, the same can be said about the observed global warming. When you look at particular locations you see a lot of noise, it only when you average the temperature globally that you see a statistically significant warming signal. You wouldn't say that the global warming is noise (and neither would I).

    As for a feedback response to the irradiating force, that would imply a VERY strong positive feedback in the climate system (comparable to the water vapor feedback). Specifically, it would mean that the 0.35 W/m^2 of solar irradiance variations over the solar cycle give rise to a ~1 W/m^2 variation in the cloud cover (more sun, less low clouds). Over the 20th century, that would imply a large solar contribution, unless the climate sensitivity is inconsistently small (even to my taste).

    ii) The nature of the ISSCP data do not allow you to distinguish between a true low cloud response and/or a response above that just masks out low clouds.

    This is correct and it could potentially lead to quantitative errors. Note however that estimates based on the ISCCP data (e.g., cloud forcing) are consistent with estimates which are not (e.g., comparison between galactic induced cosmic ray flux variations and climate).

    v) the estimates for the CRF forcing you assume at the LGM (to pick one of your examples) appear to be based on raw 10Be concentrations without any correction for accumulation, geomag changes or the possibility of climate impacts on the 10Be transports - (see Field et al (2006) for instance).

    Nope. The estimates are corrected for the accumulation rate and changes in the geomagnetic field strenth. Climate impacts of 10Be can be present, but are minimized since the estimate is based on many oceanic sea floor cores from many different locations. In any case, the cosmic ray flux correction in this particular case is on the small side, such that even a large error in the determination of the CRF variations would not translate to a large error in the sensitivity estimate.

    ... the lack of any climate changes at the magnetic reversals (which should be accompanied by huge increases in CR fluxes), or at the Laschamp event imply that they are likely to be very small. - gavin]

    Ah, this is one of the largest misconceptions in this field perpetuated by many, though mostly not at their fault, since they are unaware of the following. The Laschamp event corresponds to a large decrease in the magnetic field. This implies a large change in the relatively low energy cosmic rays which are affected by the field, but the high energy rays which are those reponsible for the tropospheric ionization, are only moderately affected. Switching the magnetic field altogether implies a ~12% effect in the ionization or a <1 deg climatic effect. However, on the time scales of 10′s of thousands of years, over which the Laschamp and similar effects appear, the global temperature can vary by typically much more (several degs colder in ice-ages…) thus, seeing a climatic Lashcamp event is in fact supposed to be hard as it is drowned by intrinsic climate variability.

  46. 96
    Pascal says:

    Raypierre

    I ‘m agree that the correlation between GCR and LL cloud cover is not an evidence.

    http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/9623/llgcr9gz.jpg

    but from the ISCCP data, there is clearly an evidence for an important decreasing of LL cloud cover in the last two decades.

    What is for you, if we suppose it’s true, the influence of this radiative effect, in terms of flux and ground-temperature?

  47. 97
    Alan says:

    RE #80

    “Is doing what they’re told being dishonest?”

    The public service is supposed to answer questions of fact and investigate policy options without fear or favor. If public servants are knowingly disseminating an obvious lie for political gain then they are accepting payment for being dishonest. A more serious problem is that systemic political FUD brings the public service into disrepute, the general public learns not to trust government studies and ends up throwing the baby out with the bath water. The next thing you know you have a Vogon spaceship demolishing your planet.

    “Can anyone blame them?”

    “I was just following orders” is not a valid defense in any proffesional undertaking. I do not work for government but I do have a BSc in Computer Science and have a fair amount of experience with large companies and clients. I have been asked quite bluntly to “guild the lilly” on several occasions over the last couple of decades. I have always refused in a polite but firm manner, offering to forward any specific enquires to their office without comment. I have never been punished, in fact my experience has usually been quite the opposite. Granted it is a different thing for an underpaid clerk/assistant with a wife and kids. However that is a redundant point since the authority of thier position is (supposed to be) directly proportional to their pay-check.

  48. 98
    john mann says:

    re #51 (Rasmus)

    “The objective of these TV-Ads, as I see them, is to indoctinate, and furthermore putting such a spin on it inhibits critical thinking. Such phenomena used to be described in a visionary book called ’1984′. ”

    Sorry Rasmus, the dystopian novel here should be “Brave New World”. It was here that propaganda was dripped continually so that it took on the status of “fact”.

  49. 99
  50. 100
    caerbannog says:


    Polar ice melting or “The Scare of the Century?

    Unfortunately, that article appears to be behind a subscription wall. But never fear — an intrepid freeper posted the thing in its entirety over at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1635077/posts

    (And as a bonus, you get a bunch of erudite freeper commentary at no extra charge!)


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