Peter Doran and how misleading talking points propagate

Peter Doran, the lead author on a oft-cited, but less-often read, Nature study on Antarctic climate in 2002 had an Op-Ed in the NY Times today decrying the misuse of his team’s results in the on-going climate science ‘debate’. As we discussed a while back (Antarctic cooling, global warming?), there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in Antarctica: the complexities of different forcings (ozone in particular), the importance of dynamical as well as radiative processes, and the difficulties of dealing with very inhomogeneous and insufficiently long data series. But like so many results in this field, it has become a politicized ‘talking point’, shorn of its context, that is mis-quoted and mis-used by many who should (and often do) know better. Doran complained about the media coverage of his paper at the time, and with the passage of time, the distortion has predictably increased. Give it another few years, maybe we’ll be having congressional hearings about it…

152 comments on this post.
  1. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    It’s good to see a scientist speaking up. Scientist, especially climate scientists, should say something when their work is misrepresented.

    Maybe RealClimate is starting a trend!

  2. Wayne Byerly:

    Last year, I spent a great amount of time, a fair amount of money, and lots of thought into the accumulation of,and the summarization of literaly millions of weather data from weather reporting locations. The majority of these locations were from the US, but I also obtained data from Canada, England, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
    In August of 2005, I put together a 2-page report which more or less summarizes this huge amount of data. I would like for REAL CLIMATE to have a copy of my summary. I will be glad to forward this summary to you via e-mail attachment, if you will provide me with the e-mail addresss to which it should be sent.
    I must point out, that many of my conclusions will not agree with what I generally read whend I click onto REAL CLIMATE. But I believe the difference is mostly because I’ve been working with genuine facts from weather which has actually happened, and been recorded, rather than some theory which remains to be proven/disproven.
    Please give me an e-mail address to which I might send this material.
    Thanks, Wayne Byerly

    [Response: Check the "about" button for our address - W]

  3. E.R. Beardsley:

    Scientists, across the spectrum, are gradually awakening to the reality of their situation. The war on science and scientists went into high gear when the Bush administration took office in 2000. These craven folks have resorted to familiar tactics: hired guns whose job it is to confuse the debate, resort to slander of decent people to taint the message, outright intimidation and attempts to muzzle those who work within the framework of government. While they have not yet put anyone under house arrest, as did the Holy Office in 1532 when Galileo Galilei thought he might publish his Two World Systems, but they have asked, in their own fashion, that they might think about recanting their findings in published research or testimony before Congress.

    The evolutionary biologists and teachers of biology in our public schools have been up against a fevered new attempt to abolish the teaching of evolution. Even the physicists have recently found themselves having to defend the idea of gravity. Climate scientists are perhaps under the most serious threat, however, because their findings carry with them grave implications for the future of our social and economic order. Climate scientists, I suspect — like Galileo — just want to do their work, publish their findings, and then sit back and let government and the public work out what they think they ought to do about it. But, of course, it doesn’t work that way.

    Scientists, like it or not, have a public role, and it goes far beyond the educational role that scientists are most comfortable in accepting. When the implications of their work are such that great upset can result from any misunderstanding of its particulars or there are attempts to misrepresent those particulars by vested interests, the scientist has no choice but to become a public voice, and even to engage in advocacy.

    As the mathematician Bronowski said, paraphrasing here, the scientist cannot dodge the implications of his or her own work. And they have to ask “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby.”

  4. Mark A. York:

    The new paper by Landsea is being touted as more evidence GW doesn’t exist even though he doesn’t say that.

    Lindzen has another stinker out too back in early July in the WSJ. No consensus he says.

  5. Mark A. York:

    Here:
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008597

  6. Grant:

    Re: #2

    Last year, I spent a great amount of time, a fair amount of money, and lots of thought into the accumulation of,and the summarization of literaly millions of weather data from weather reporting locations.

    Me too!

    I did exactly that, because I was skeptical about global warming. I’m a professional mathematician, my specialty is the statistical analysis of time series, so I decided not to take anybody’s word for it.

    The majority of these locations were from the US, but I also obtained data from Canada, England, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

    It seems that all your data is from land stations around the North Atlantic. I have data from stations worldwide. I’ve also analyzed data (not conclusions, but raw data) relating to paleoclimate reconstructions such as tree rings, ice cores, and (my personal favorite) borehole temperature profiles.

    I must point out, that many of my conclusions will not agree with what I generally read whend I click onto REAL CLIMATE.

    That’s odd. The conclusions I came to in my analysis are:
    1. Global warming is real.
    2. It’s caused by human activity.
    3. It’s bad.

    But I believe the difference is mostly because I’ve been working with genuine facts from weather which has actually happened, and been recorded, rather than some theory which remains to be proven/disproven.

    Do you honestly believe that the moderators of RealClimate haven’t looked at “genuine facts from weather which has actually happened, and been recorded”?

  7. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    I have a suggestion for RC. Add a new section in addition to rc forum. It can be for climate scientists to comment about how their work is being portrayed by the media. You can call it “What I really said was…” ;)

  8. pat neuman:

    re 2. 6.

    100 year temperature plots for many climate stations in the US including Alaska are at the link below. The temperature plots show trends for increasing annual temperatures in recent decades, especially within the Upper Midwest and Alaska, which are indicative of polar amplification. Polar and mid-high latitude amplification is an important signature of global warming which explains why warming is not as evident at climate stations in southern regions of the U.S. as it is in the north. RC has a Jan 2, 2006 article on polar amplification.

    100 year plots temperature plots at:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

  9. wayne davidson:

    #6, Grant, did you analyze Upper Air temperaure trends as well? I am very cuious if you found a variance between Upper Air and Surface warming… I calculated total amospheric refraction temperatures, ie from data extracted by analyzing optical effects, some of my results show an impressive yearly warming trend, much stronger than the surface based one. It may be that the Upper Air is warming a lot more than I’ve read so far.

  10. Jeff Weffer:

    All of the weather stations around the world can be accessed via the Goddard Institute linked below.

    Just click on the world map, and it gives you the closest 50 weather stations. Play around with it and find out how the features work.

    You can also access the temperature record for Antarctica (the actual south pole too.)

    The data shows warming on the Antarctica Penninsula and slight cooling in the interior. Alaska is warming as well but other Arctic regions are not.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/station_data/

  11. Grant:

    Re: #9

    No, I haven’t looked at any upper air temperature data. Now you’ve made me curious! But I’m currently looking into diurnal temperature range and annual temperature range. When I finish with that (if ever!)…

  12. pat neuman:

    re 9. 8.

    Wayne, if it’s true as you indicated in 9, that upper air temperatures are increasing at a much stronger rate than near the surface, it seems to me the departure would explain at least part of what seems to be a large increase in world area having minimal rainfall and drought.

    Also, in 8. I mentioned polar amplification explaining temperature warming trends being greater at higher latitudes. I should also have mentioned that Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at University of Massachusetts and others found that high altitude areas in tropical areas are increasing more rapidly than low altitude areas, link follows.

    Andes study shows it gets hot faster at high altitude
    26 June 2006
    http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=printarticle&itemid=2935&language=1

  13. Chris Rijk:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,2761-2291760,00.html
    Article in The Sunday Times about the many places having much higher than normal temperatures. (Russia and some places are getting the cool as part of the same pattern though). Also mentions that some rivers got so warm in Spain and France that the nuclear reactors using the water for cooling had to be shut down. Ooops.

    It also says:

    The phenomenon has surprised meteorologists who are used to seeing drought as a regional, not global, problem. This weekend they said early analysis of the hot weather, together with the size of the areas affected, suggested it was linked to global climate change.

  14. wayne davidson:

    #11 Grant Thanks, Diurnal effects are equally interesting, but a great chunk of all this comes from up there!

  15. wayne davidson:

    #12 Pat, Thanks as well, you might have a point, especially with drought striking the Amazon forest now…

  16. Wacki:

    I have a question for the professional climate scientists. Is Lindzen respected anymore in the scientific community? His list of published papers is enormous but some of the stuff he says simply doesn’t require a degree in science to tear apart.

  17. Wacki:

    Someone posted this article:

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008597

    “A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.”

    Is that true? I’ve seen Peisers own work here:
    http://timlambert.org/2005/05/peiser2/
    Which is simply a joke. But I haven’t seen a rebuttal of the above quote. I tried using real climates search engine and I got 0 hits for Peiser and 3 hits for Benny. go figure. :-p Still none of those 3 hits were relevant to the above quote.

  18. PHEaston:

    Going back to the original topic, I think this posting and the NYT article provide some misunderstandings regarding the debate.
    1. Peter Doran presents the skeptics as those who doubt warming is happening. However, while most ‘skeptics’ agree we are in a warming trend, for most, the main challenges are (i) that it is not shown to be at unprecedented levels or rates (for the last millenium or so) and (ii) that it is not shown to be principally manmade. To present all ‘skeptics’ as those who question any warming is incorrect.
    2. Anyone, from either side of the debate is entitiled to refer to his research findings if they think it supports their own argument, provided of course they don’t misrepresent or distort it.
    3. There are extremists on both sides of the debate who will cherry-pick data and information. These extremists should not be presented as typical for either side.
    4. In general, where ‘skeptics’ have referred to Antarctic cooling in their arguments, it has not been to argue that there is no global warming trend. Time and time again (I think more by journalists than scientists), we see evidence of warming at a specific location as further proof of ‘global warming’ with rarely any ‘health warning’ that this may only be a local trend. Citing the Antarctic cooling is about showing that there are local trends and that climate variability is more complex than often presented.

  19. Hank Roberts:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/03/peiser_admits_to_making_a_mist.php

  20. Grant:

    Re: #18

    I think your comment is very insightful. The extremists on both sides seriously detract from any productive approach to the issue.

    I do, however disagree (in part) with one of your statements:

    There are extremists on both sides of the debate who will cherry-pick data and information. These extremists should not be presented as typical for either side.

    Technically, this is true. However, the cherry-pickers on the denialist side so greatly outnumber those on the supporting side, that they have come near to being “typical” of the denialist camp. There is a qualitative difference which, in my opinion, argues very strongly for pervasive naivete and dishonesty on the denialist side.

    The *honest* denialists should be even more outraged by this than we supporters.

  21. shargash:

    Re: 18, 20

    Are there honest denialists? Back in the 90s, to be a denialist meant denying GW. Then by this decade, when GW could no longer be denied, they changed their denialism. Now denialism means that they accept GW but deny AGW. When AGW can no longer be denied, will they move on to some other form of denialism, like “it’s too late to do anything about it?” I’d bet money they will.

    It seems to me that the minimum scientifically honest position now is that GW is real and that some of it is anthropogenic, but that the degree of anthropogenicism (sp?) is still uncertain. It seems to me that most denialists are much more denialist than that. Therefore, IMO, they aren’t honest denialists.

  22. pat neuman:

    re: 21 … will they move on to some other form of denialism …?

    Like moving on to denying any GW link to hurricanes? It was interesting to watch CBS News this evening about hurricanes and the Northeast US, said to be result from a displacement of a high pressure area that brings the canes much quicker to the Northeast than the Gulf coast. It was also interesting to see CBS rerun the interviews with Jim Hansen and Rick Piltz interview on 60 minutes this evening. That was the first time I saw the piece – very good piece of work.

  23. Mark A. York:

    My 90-year-old mother in Florida tipped me off to the Orsekes response to the Lindzen crapola.

    http://www.tbo.com/news/opinion/commentary/MGBKLZK57QE.html

  24. PHEaston:

    Re: 20 (Grant). If you want to feel more at home, I suggest you spend some time in the UK. Here, the balance is reversed. The establishment and most of the media are fully on the side of AGW. That’s the government (especially Bliar), the BBC, most newspapers (especially the ‘Independent’), the Royal Society, David Attenborough, etc. The result is that there is little room for honest challenges to the theory.

  25. Michael Seward:

    RE: # 18 “In general, where skeptics have referred to Antarctic cooling in their arguments, it has not been to argue that there is no global warming trend… Citing the Antarctic cooling is about showing that there are local trends and that climate variability is more complex than often presented.”

    Skeptics have long cited Doran’s research to show that global warming is a flawed theory motivated by alarmist scientists more interested in scaring up huge research grants than in pursuing the evidence with honesty and integrity.

    CO2 Science misrepresents Doran’s study as a “major blow to the CO2-induced global warming hypothesis…many a climate alarmist jumped on the global warming bandwagon…however, the bottom began to fall out of the poorly constructed bandwagon, as the evidentiary glue that held it together began to weaken.”

    Environment and Climate News reports that Doran’s study is “strong new evidence the Earth is not warming”. No mention about climate variability being more complex than generally reported.

    Fred Singer cites Doran’s research to show that climate models are flawed, not that climate variability is more complex than often presented. “Furthermore, the models predict that polar temperature trends should greatly exceed the tropical values — and they clearly don’t … In fact, the Antarctic has been cooling,” adds Singer. Uhh, no mention of Arctic warming, Antarctic ozone hole, 48% of Antarctica warming… Mr. Singer?

    Doran’s analysis of Antarctic cooling is frequently cited by skeptics to undermine the plausibility of climate models. According to one skeptic: “The greenhouse modelers have a lot of explaining to do before they can expect whole societies to undergo an economically impoverishing culture shift in deference to a theory which is so patently wrong on one of its key pillars.”

    Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute cited Doran’s study, and claimed that “The American people are being hoodwinked not just by the green activists, but by the scientists who get billions of dollars for creating global climate models that can’t even forecast backward, let alone forward.”

    Misrepresentation and distortion of the science is the very foundation of the “skeptics” arguments. The only way to claim that global warming is purely natural in origin is to cherry pick the research and argue against the validity of a mountain of scientific evidence based on observation and reason. The skeptics have proven that the most effective way to deny the “A” in AGW is to misrepresent and distort the science.

  26. Chris Rijk:

    Re: #24

    That’s the government (especially Bliar), the BBC, most newspapers (especially the ‘Independent’), the Royal Society, David Attenborough, etc. The result is that there is little room for honest challenges to the theory.

    Apart from scientists, you mean? (Unless you think that honest challenges from scientists are so frowned upon that they’re career threatening…)

    Actually, it’s even better than you say: the main opposition party (the Conservatives, currently ahead in the opinion polls) have made a big push on “green” issues lately, with their new leader. That’s jacked up the visibility of the debate… and also moved it more towards the issue of what to do about the problem, rather than arguing whether there is a problem or not. Which is nice.

  27. Grant:

    “… the scientists who get billions of dollars …”

    It’s a testament to the effectiveness of the denialist PR campaign that this argument doesn’t get laughed out of the room.

    Although not always stated explicitly, the implication is clear: scientists are motivated by personal greed. It gives the impression that we’re getting rich collecting grant money for climate studies (or any other research, for that matter). The truth is, if a research project gets “billions,” that money is spent on a satellite to be launched into space or a more powerful particle accelerator; researchers’ salaries are pretty low on the list of priorities. If you want to get rich, then *don’t* choose science as a career.

    I’m reminded of the episode of the Simpsons in which a chimp researcher (not-so-loosely based on Jane Goodall) is actually forcing the chimps to work in a diamond mine. At one point, Homer lies on the bed throwing diamonds over himself, saying, “Woo-hoo! Look at me! I’m a scientist!” I got a good laugh from that one. So … when do I get my diamonds?

  28. Wacki:

    Thankyou for providing the link to this paper by oreskes.

    http://tinyurl.com/nofz5

    However, she did not address Lindzens claim that “A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.”

    So that article isn’t really relevant to my question. I still haven’t seen a rebuttal to this claim.

    [Response: Then you haven't but looking very hard. You might start here. - mike]

  29. Dan:

    re: 23. A great quote from that article:

    “Not a single paper in a large sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 refuted the consensus position, summarized by the National Academy of Sciences, that “most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”"

  30. Leonard Evens:

    “Extremists on both sides”

    The very use of this term mischaracterizes the issue. What everyone should be concentrating on first is the scientific discussion. Even calling this a debate, I think, is misleading. At present, certain things have been established beyond any plausible doubt. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations have been rising, and, at this is essentially due almost entirely to human activities. No serious scientist doubts this. (Methane concetrations, I believe, may be more complicated, and in part an exception.) Second, average global temperatures have been increasing, and it is very likely this is due in large part to the increased greenhouse gas concentrations. The major argument for that is that physically one would expect that and detailed analysis by climate models shows it. Obervations such as ocean temperature support it. Moreover, no plausible alternatives have been suggested which can produce the same pattern of warming. It is still conceivable that some unknown mechanism—cosmic rays anyone?—might play some role, but that is sheer conjecture and then one would have to explain why all the computer models are wrong about the effect of doubling CO_2. Arguing that something else might be happening and computer models might all be systematically biased the same way amounts to unsupported conjecture. The best mind the denialists have is Lindzen, and he has tried in the scientific literature to show that greenhouse gas concentrations should have little effect, but his ideas don’t appear to have convinced anyone or to be borne out by observation. He has also made some silly statements outside the scientific literature, but those don’t count. To me the very fact that we have been inducing major changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases is alarming. It is a radical experiment in the nature of the atmosphere, the complete significance of which is hard to predict. The default position should be that those proposing to do it prove beyond any reasonable doubt that its effect will be benign.

    It is true that people differ in what they are ready to do based on their ideologies. So, in that sense, there are ‘two sides’, but once one recognizes the facts as we know them, the differences are not that great. After all, Margaret Thatcher already recognized that global warming was a problem. In the US, John McCain, who is really quite conservative, has introduced legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Not even all energy companies contest the basic scientific consensus.

    It is true that the science, so far, is not conclusive about the likely course of events in the future. There are a range of possible scenarios, which depend more on what we do with respect to forcings than to the actual physics. But, the argument that because the magnitude of the effect is uncertain we should assume it will be at the lower range, doesn’t make sense. It could just as well be at the upper range. Just what action to take will depend on one’s estimates of the relative costs of each strategy. At the very least, we should have adopted ‘no regets’ measures long ago. Increasing fuel efficiency for transportation in the US has been a no-brainer for a long time. Even ignoring the issue of global warming, we would clearly be better off today if demand for oil were much lower. Petro dollars, as Tom Friedman repeadtedly tells us, lead to corrupt societies which don’t have to meet the needs of their citizens. We wouldn’t be worrying abut a nuclear armed Iran if that country’s leaders weren’t raking in profits from high oil prices.

  31. Timothy:

    Re: #24 – What do you mean by “an honest challenge to the theory”?

    There are a lot of unresolved issues, as with any area of Science. There may well be some shoddy research that could do with uncovering. There are many details that remain to be filled in, but the conclusion that is important for society as a whole isn’t in any doubt any longer:

    The world is warming due to the release of CO2 by fossil fuel burning This will change the climate unless we reduce CO2 emissions. We don’t know exactly what will happen, but as a minimum it will involve sea level rises and temperature increases. Large changes to the climate will have large impacts on human society and agriculture and the risks are large. We would do better to avoid/minimise these risks by reducing CO2 emissions as much as possible.

    What remains to debate is how we manage to reduce CO2 levels. Personally I’d like to see the government be proactive and start installing solar panels on every available roof in the country, but others might prefer more “market-oriented” solutions that gave everyone a “carbon allowance” and and left them to sort it out themselves.

    The skeptics are just trying to delay. Maybe if they are succesful they can manage to delay any action forever. They’ve been doing this for decades now. Kyoto was agreed in 1997, nearly 10 years ago now! The progress since then has been toruously slow, and time keeps on slipping away…

    A few years ago a climate researcher was asked whether they thought governments were going to take action to stop climate change. They replied “No, not soon enough”.

    In one sense it’s quite exciting. The prospect of the Arctic sea-ice melting completely; ice-sheets breaking off Antarctica; record temperatures – I’m a complete numbers geek. There’ll be a mass of data to test the models against – a really big signal-to-noise ratio in a few decades time.

    I do think, though, that it is a monumental failure of the interaction of science with politics.

  32. Hank Roberts:

    Interestingly, Dr. Wegman, who was on the Star Wars project for Reagan and was a longtime Navy statistician, was particularly attentive to warming of the oceans. The Navy Grad School does modeling, and they would have access to both the declassified data made available by then Vice President Gore (the so-called “Gore Box” within which the Navy arctic ice data is available) and the rest of the Arctic from which the data is still classified.

    We can only wonder what other information is available that can’t yet be published.

    Counterproductively, insisting all data used be in public archives rules out use of information from classified sources such as the US and former USSR navy. If the data is protected, the conclusions of models based on it could still be made available for policymakers.

  33. Yong:

    Can anyone post anynews about July 27th congress hearing? Are there any audio and video record available online? Thanks a lot.

  34. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/07272006hearing2001/hearing.htm

  35. Wacki:

    “[Response: Then you haven't but looking very hard. You might start here. - mike]”

    I don’t think you understand what I’m trying to say. I’m aware of Peisers 32 abstracts and I even talk about them on my site here:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptics/Lindzen.htm

    However, Lindzen makes the very specific claim that only “only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all”. Neither the number 913 nor 15 (in reference to abstracts ) exist on this page in which is a rebuttal of peisers claim:

    http://timlambert.org/2005/05/peiser/

    In Naomi’s paper she says:

    “That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts”
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

    So we seem to have a direct contradiction. Either those “missing” 15 abstracts exist, or they don’t. It’s a very simple question with a very simple answer. It doesn’t require a scientific background to figure out who is wrong on this one.

    Another point to make. Lindzen also said “only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view.”. If someone could cut out more than 13 “explicit” quotes from those abstracts then it would prove him wrong on another point he has no business being wrong on.

    Both of these situations are situations that are simple enough an art major can understand. And if they are wrong on these two simple aspects then you have the right to say “how can you trust anything else they say”?

    Do you see what I’m getting at? Try arguing the science without even discussing science. It would also do Naomi well to list her abstracts the way Peisers are listed on tim lamberts page. Sorted in appropriate categories of course. Maybe I am blind but I can’t seem to find them.

  36. Yong:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz,

    Thanks a lot!

  37. Pavel Chichikov:

    Re: # 17: “A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.”

    I’ve encountered Peiser in another discussion group, that one on the subject of Earth-impacting space objects. As of about two years ago he completely discounted the possibility of any climate change at all, and frequently cited Fred Singer and the Idso brothers as authorities. He gets nasty about it.

    Both he and Lomborg are sociologists. Is there something about sociology that causes climate-change skepticism?

  38. Wacki:

    “and frequently cited Fred Singer and the Idso brothers as authorities. ”

    Please post links to some of these or e-mail me at my website.

  39. Pavel Chichikov:

    Re # 38 – “and frequently cited Fred Singer and the Idso brothers as authorities. ” ‘Please post links to some of these or e-mail me at my website.’

    The comments at issue were posted two or so years ago and there was no reason to keep them on file. Sorry. Duncan Steel, the astronomer, was a member of the group at that time, if you know him.

  40. Hank Roberts:

    Re #38, 39: Try here:
    abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/cccmenu.html

  41. John L. McCormick:

    RE: #35, I am getting a sense of dread that the more I visit RC lately, the more I repeatedly see contributors dancing on pin heads. Where is the relevance?

  42. Shatter the fog:

    Facts out of Context
    A little while ago I talked about how climate change sceptics pick isolated issues out of the wider body of climate science and then argue those points out of context as if all of climate change science depended on those single points.  (see here)
    Thi…

  43. Taco van Ieperen:

    I think the point of the post isn’t wether climate change is happening. Anybody that has objectively looked at the evidence agrees that it has. The point is that sceptics have been doing a great job of framing the debate on their terms. The inescapable fact is that CO2 levels are rising, we are causing them to rise, and when they rise the laws of physics say that the earth will warm. Instead of talking about this, we end up debating minor side issues as if they were the pillarts that all of climate change science rested upon.

    Why Climate Change Temperature Data Don’t Matter

  44. Andrew Dodds:

    Re: 37.

    It’s not so much that ‘Sociology causes skepticism’, it’s just that standards of evidence tend, due to the nature of the subject, to be a bit lower than in the harder sciences. Which, in turn, leads to the all-too-human tendancy to form a theory first and then pick some data to fit it..

  45. Barton Paul Levenson:

    How do I get to RC Forum? There doesn’t seem to be a link for it on the right.

    -BPL

  46. Dan:

    re: 42.

    RC Forum link: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/introducing-rc-forum/

  47. Eric (skeptic):

    Change my screen name, sorry to other Erics for any confusion. The differences, Leonard, are indeed not all that great and the real differences turn on politics. But one scientific dispute with a political component is feedback from CO2 warming. The feeback from water vapor is not simple due to its uneven distribution in the atmosphere and the role of weather distributing it. A related question for anybody, why is CO2 evenly distributed while water vapor and methane are not? Does it have something to do with mixing? As an aside the oceanic CO2 seems to be very uneven.

    Anyway, because of the uneveness of water vapor and the uncertainty of weather feedbacks, there seems to a large dispute over tipping points, mostly whether the CO2 warming can cause enough positive feedback to tip the earth into runaway warming. But removing the alarmist element, it could be an argument over goal posts.

    [Response: Water vapour is differently distributed than CO2 (and all other 'well-mixed' gases) because it has sinks in the atmosphere (i.e. clouds and rain). CO2 has no such sink (except maybe in the mesosphere?) and so the mixing in the atmosphere smoothes out the variations. Nobody is talking about 'runaway' greenhouse effects (despite its frequent appearance in discussions) - see here for more discussion. -gavin]

  48. Barton Paul Levenson:

    A heads-up — I submitted a paper to JGR Atmospheres, and since they required me to name four potential reviewers, I put in Ray & Gavin, plus 2 other folks from other venues. I apologize if I’m making more work for you guys.

  49. Dean Myerson:

    Underlying the issue of an anthropogenic cause for GW is the issue of the level of proof. What is required and what exists, for those climatologists in the consensus? Preponderence of evidence? Beyond a reasonable doubt? What is it that the consensus consists of? Skeptics like to invoke incontrovertable evidence, but we execute convicted criminals with a lower burden of proof than that.

    With this in mind, and guessing that scientsts might be uncomfortable with these kinds of analogies as gross simplifications, I still can’t resist offering one.

    Person A stands in the street. Person B raises gun, points at person A, pulls trigger and gun fires. Presons A falls down bleeding. Cop C moves to arrest person B. Observer D steps up and says that we lack incontrovertable proof that person B shot person A. Cop C says he saw it happen. Observer D says that the gun might have blanks in it, and that maybe somebody in that tall building down the street might have actually shot person A.

    Cop arrests person B nonetheless. How many police agencies would even bother to do a ballistics test on the bullet and gun?

    And a PS – What burden of proof does the average person require to purchase insurance for their house, even if their mortgage company does not require it?

    So how do the remaining uncertainties regarding the human contribution to GW, and that the impacts will be serious compare to those above? Is the level of uncertainly in the guilt of person B analogous to the cause-and-effect of human activity?

    And a related issue: is the level of evidence needed for a scientist different than that for a policy-maker?

  50. Wacki:

    Re: #41

    Either he is right or he is wrong. I really don’t see how that can possibly be never relevant. Peiser did such a crappy job on his 32 abstracts that I have to wonder if he did the same with his numbers. That being said I’ve shown several businessmen and lawyers this link:

    http://timlambert.org/2005/05/peiser/

    And the only way they could tell what was going on is by reading the responses. The abstracts were simply over their head and they lost interest. These people aren’t dumb. Even though they graduated with a magna cum laude from a very good lawschool its still very difficult to explain scienctific concepts to them if they don’t understand basic conceipts like the difference between alkalinity and acidity. Realclimate does an excellent job explaining things to scientists but that isn’t going to help when it takes hours to read this material and you are going to lose the average person’s attention span in less than 5 minutes.

  51. Eric (skeptic):

    Thanks for the info Gavin. The tipping point discussion mentioned lots of longer term positive feedbacks (e.g. snow and ice melt decreasing the earth’s albedo) and short term effects were limited to CO2 itself and (implicitly) weather feedbacks from the CO2 warming. In any case it seems to me that the tipping point argument remains at least somewhat political and polarized since the warming effects of uniform CO2 are relatively modest and other effects must come from models using feedback for which one set of scientists will focus on positive and others on negative.

    So it appears that the nonuniform gases (water vapor, methane) are up for debate since their sinks are quicker and will vary more. CO2 (and any other uniform anthro gases) should generate relatively little debate since we are stuck with them, but we will still have to consider and debate other effects (e.g. ocean acidification).

  52. Ron Taylor:

    In speaking with my denialist friends, I would like to be able to say something like: “Look, five years from now no one will still be arguing about this. In the meantime, the five years that we will have lost can mean an additional (fifty?) years of global warming. Just how much punishment do you want to inflict on future generations?”

    The problem is the number (fifty?). Could simulations be made assuming a reasonable schedule of CO2 abatement, with a variable starting point, to project when global warming would cease and what the resulting temperature rise would be? Just to be able to say, “Simulations show that every year we delay may cause global warming to continue for an additional (X) years,” is the kind of thing a layperson can understand.

  53. Leonard Evens:

    Re #51:

    Which scientists, in the scientific, peer reviewed literature, have shown via models that the net feedback effects are negative? The closest anyone has come to this, as far as I know, is Lindzen’s ‘iris effect’ and that seems to have gone nowhere, either theoretically or observationally. The IPCC surveys of many different analyses have consistently shown a range of sensitivity under CO_2 doubling of 1.5 to 4.5 (or therabouts) deg C, with a most likely value about 3 deg C. This sensitivity is consistent with paleoclimate studies.

    As many people have pointed out, including in RC articles, the major uncertainty is the forcings, which depend on what we do. One uncertainty is when and how fast we depart from the present pattern of accelerating greenhouse gas emissions. Another is what we do about sulfate and other particulate emissions, which mainly cool but in the case of soot may warm. You an’t argue that since we don’t know what we will do, we shouldn’t plan to do anything except continuing buisness as usual, which will result in a major perturbation of the radiative properties of the atmosphere.

  54. Hank Roberts:

    Wacki’s right. I tried to explain how aquifers collapse, yesterday, to a lawyer. The law says, to keep your old well rights, you have to keep pumping the same amount of water, when it becomes apparent that others have started draining the aquifer past its recharge.

    Yes, now we know that the aquifer collapses, pore space goes away, soil sinks, and nobody will ever be able to get water at those rates again even if the rainfall comes back. But the law doesn’t have a way to consider that. And the law is about zero-sum games, not about intelligent cooperation in sharing limited resources.

    Reporter: “Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?”
    Gandhi: “I think that it would be a good idea.”

  55. Chuck Booth:

    re #49 That scenario sounds like the epilogue to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance that was cut from the film during the final edit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Shot_Liberty_Valance [I'm joking, of course]

    Re #48 I hate to point this out, but revelations like this fuel the skeptics who argue that the peer review process for science papers is biased. [I'm not joking this time]

  56. Eric (skeptic):

    Leonard, to my knowledge no models are net negative. But there are lots of negative feedbacks that are difficult to model globally such as concentrated (including medium and small scale) convection. Also smaller negative feedbacks such as forest fires and increased soil moisture that might not be modeled at all. It’s not a comparison of my model versus your model, but a disagreement over the accuracy of current models. I have no doubt that models will have a definitive answer about AGW in the next 10-20 years as well as the cheapest way to fix it if necessary. That’s why some skeptics will argue most strenuously against tipping point (“must do something now”) scenarios.

  57. Eric (skeptic):

    Leonard, arguments over forcing must boil down to energy balance since everything else is feedback. I’m not sure if the CO2 “saturation” argument has been resolved, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an argument for more than 1 degree C for CO2. Am I mistaken?

  58. tom root:

    Bush Briefed on Global Warming’s Impact on Storms
    (from Reuters/Planetark)

    US: August 1, 2006

    MIAMI – Officials tracking the approach of the peak hurricane season told US President George W. Bush on Monday that data linking a series of devastating storms to global warming was inconclusive.

    Eleven months after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the US Gulf Coast and caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, Bush visited the National Hurricane Center in Florida, a state often battered by hurricanes.
    Showing Bush the maps and other devices used to predict storms, Max Mayfield, the hurricane center’s director, said one question he is asked often is whether the powerful hurricanes of the past few years, like Katrina, Rita and Wilma, were the result of the earth’s warming.

    A scientist at the center, Christopher Landsea, told Bush there was “not a consensus” linking the two.

    Hurricane and climate scientists outside the government have been wrestling with that debate as well. Many environmental groups are upset with Bush for his rejection of the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases.

    Many climate scientists believe carbon dioxide and other gases trap heat like the glass walls of a greenhouse and cause global warming. Skeptics doubt people affect global climate change and say temperature fluctuations have occurred throughout history.

    Bush came under scathing criticism for the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit on Aug. 29 and killed 1,300 and displaced hundreds of thousands.

    The White House is eager to show that the president has learned lessons from that disaster and that the federal government has been thorough in preparing for the possibility of harsh storms this year.

    June marked the official start of the hurricane season, but the peak season for the storms is between mid-August and mid-October.

    I leave this for your comments.

  59. Hank Roberts:

    > 57, Eric-Skeptic, wrote: “I’m not sure if the CO2 “saturation” argument has been resolved, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an argument for more than 1 degree C for CO2. Am I mistaken?”

    Searching, I found this answer. I gather it’s basic physics.
    Look for other postings by David Archer, and see his link in the sidebar under Contributors.

    (I am just another reader here, did a quick search, I’m not the expert who can answer you, just suggesting how to look for answers. The issue of “band saturation” is common as a PR talking point, I think it’s a question that is frequently answered.)
    http://forecast.uchicago.edu/text_revised.doc.

    “If the edges of the absorption bands were completely abrupt, as if CO2 absorbed 600 cycles/cm light completely and 599 cycles/cm light not at all, then once an absorption band from a gas was saturated, that would be it. Further increases in the concentration of the gas would have no impact on the radiation energy budget for the earth. CO2, the most saturated of the greenhouse gases, would stop changing climate after it exceeded some concentration. It turns out that this is not how it works. Even though the core of the CO2 band is saturated, the edges of the band are not saturated. When we increase the CO2 concentration, the bite that CO2 takes out of the spectrum doesn’t get deeper, but it gets a bit broader.”

  60. Ike Solem:

    I’m a bit surprised (well, not really) that a question that was settled so long ago is still being used as a misleading talking point by the industry lobby. The issue is covered by Spencer Weart, and a description is at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm; better yet buy his excellent book “The Discovery of Global Warming”. Here are some relevant comments from the above site, but I’m afraid a single ‘talking point’ won’t work here:

    100 years ago: The initial objection.

    “A still weightier objection came from a simple laboratory measurement. A few years after Arrhenius published his hypothesis, Knut Angstrom sent infrared radiation through a tube filled with carbon dioxide. He put in as much of the gas in total as would be found in a column of air reaching to the top of the atmosphere. The amount of radiation that got through the tube scarcely changed when he cut the quantity of gas in half or doubled it. The reason was that CO2 absorbed radiation only in specific bands of the spectrum, and it took only a trace of the gas to produce bands that were “saturated” – so thoroughly opaque that more gas could make little difference.(7*)”

    Still more persuasive was the fact that water vapor, which is far more abundant in the air than carbon dioxide, also intercepts infrared radiation. In the spectrographs of the time, the smeared-out bands of the two gases entirely overlapped one another. More CO2 could not affect radiation in bands of the spectrum that water vapor, as well as CO2 itself, were already blocking entirely.(8) After these conclusions were published in the early 1900s, even scientists who had been enthusiastic about Arrhenius’s work, like Chamberlin, now considered it plainly in error. Theoretical work on the question stagnated for decades, and so did measurement of the level of CO2″.

    Now, 75 years ago: Challenges.

    “There was also the old objection, which most scientists continued to find decisive, that the overlapping absorption bands of CO2 and water vapor already blocked all the radiation that those molecules were capable of blocking. Callendar tried to explain that the laboratory spectral measurements were woefully incomplete.(20) Some other scientists too kept an open mind on the question. But it remained the standard view that, as an official U.S. Weather Bureau publication put it, the masking of CO2 absorption by water vapor was a “fatal blow” to the CO2 theory. Therefore, said this authority, “no probable increase in atmospheric CO2 could materially affect” the balance of radiation.(21)”

    And, finally, 50 years ago: Issue resolved.

    “The complacent view that CO2 from human activity could never become a problem was overturned during the 1950s by a series of costly observations. This was a consequence of the Second World War and the Cold War, which brought a new urgency to many fields of research. American scientists enjoyed massively increased government funding, notably from military agencies. The officials were not aiming to answer academic questions about future climates, but to provide for pressing military needs. Almost anything that happened in the atmosphere and oceans could be important for national security. Among the first products were new data for the absorption of infrared radiation, a topic of more interest to weapons engineers than meteorologists.(23)

    The early studies sending radiation through gases in a tube had an unsuspected logical flaw – they were measuring bands of the spectrum at sea-level pressure and temperature. Fundamental physics theory, and a few measurements made at low pressure in the 1930s, showed that in the frigid and rarified upper atmosphere, the nature of the absorption would change. The bands seen at sea level were actually made up of overlapping spectral lines, all smeared together. Improved physics theory, developed by Walter Elsasser during the Second World War, and laboratory studies during the war and after confirmed the point. At low pressure each band resolved into a cluster of sharply defined lines, like a picket fence, with gaps between the lines where radiation would get through.(24)”

    If you want to continue with radiation and molecules, look at R. Feynman’s “QED” on the interaction between light and matter, written “for the interested layperson”. The key point is that the spectral bands are sharpened by low temps – which is why most spectroscopists keep liquid nitrogen and helium on hand. The ‘saturation’ argument is 100+ years out of date! But it makes a fine talking point, I suppose. The actual explanation takes a bit more then a sound bit, unfortunately, but I think the general public can understand it, even the lawyers (in the clear prose of Spencer Weart, at least). These concepts are also critical for any analysis of the inland Antarctic temps – it seems the low ozone plays some role there.

  61. wayne davidson:

    Thanks Solem,

    In other words adsorption goes on at all levels of the atmosphere?

  62. Ron S. Nolan:

    Permafrost Thawing: An Exclusive Interview with Ecologist, Dr. Edward Schuur, University of Florida

    Ron S. Nolan, Ph.D.
    Solar Metro Online

    July 31, 2006

    In the July 16, 2006 edition of SCIENCE a research team in which Dr. Edward A. Schuur of the University of Florida participated, reported new findings about the reservoir of carbon stored in the permafrost in Siberia. The researchers specifically addressed loess soil, known as �yedoma� in Siberia, a wind and water-born dust frozen in permafrost in depths up to 50 m (~164�). The concentration of carbon in the deep yedoma deposits was much higher than expected compared to deep soils elsewhere.

    SMO: Dr. Schuur, your paper estimates the varying reservoirs of carbon in gigatons (Gt)

    oceans 40,000 Gt
    soils 1,500 Gt (all soils globally, including tundra to a depth of 1 m (3.3�)
    vegetation 650 Gt

    SMO: Could please explain how the mass of carbon is measured and estimated in the atmosphere and in the other pools?

    DR. SCHUUR: Mass of carbon is the concentration times the volume. In the case of yedoma, we need to know the thickness of the yedoma (av = 25m), the bulk density (weight of dry soil per volume of soil, in other words kg of soil per cubic meter) and then the carbon concentration, which we can measure on an elemental analyzer. The elemental analyzer combusts the soil sample and measures the amount of carbon dioxide that is released upon combustion. We take soil samples from a range of geographic locations and vertically throughout the yedoma to describe a large area. A similar approach is used for ocean, atmosphere too.

    SMO: Please elucidate on carbon reservoirs in the Arctic and how your team�s discovery fits in

    DR. SCHUUR: There are two comparisons in our paper: the first comparison is between deep permafrost yedoma (~500gt) and the surface values that are typically used for northern ecosystems ~450gt. The latter value is focused on 1m depth. So, we are saying that there is another, more or less equivalent (large) amount stored deeper below.

    The second comparison is an estimate carbon pools for >10,000 years ago when there were ice sheets at the last glacial maximum. The first comparison is the most relevant for current and future changes.

    SMO: Most scientist believed that the organic material locked beneath the permafrost in Siberia, Canada and Alaska was in the form of partially decomposed peat, Sphagnum moss. But your study seems to indicate that the yedoma is also carbon repository.

    a) How was this overlooked before?
    b) Where did the yedoma come from? What plants or animals? When?
    c) How was it sequestered in permafrost?

    DR. SCHUUR: We are studying soils that are deeper than the traditional 1m depth that many soil studies focus on. Because carbon enters soil as plants and animals die and decompose, it is reasonable in most places to focus on the surface because that is where the biological activity is.

    The reason that yedoma is different is that the surface of the soil was rising because in the glacial/interglacial periods, dust was falling and accumulating on the surface. Even though it was only mm to cm falling per year, over decades, this adds up to a lot of material, up to 53m (174�) thick in some places.

    As the surface of the soil rose, carbon that was in the soil became trapped in permafrost (permanently frozen) before it had time to decompose fully. As a result you can see intact plant roots preserved deep in the frozen soil. This happened at a time where the ecosystem was steppe-tundra with lots of grasses and herbivores (think mammoth, bison, etc., other Pleistocene mega fauna)

    This process resulted in carbon trapped much deeper than is expected in many places, and cut off from decomposition by microbes because it was frozen.

    SMO: In regions at the southern extreme of continuous permafrost, how fast is it melting and what CO2 contributions to the atmosphere is this making today?

    DR.SCHUUR: This is the $64,000 question. There is permafrost thawing (that is the word that permafrost scientists prefer rather than melting) occurring, and we are trying to estimate how fast it might be coming out. This paper is mostly about the size of the pool, and given how large it is, it is something that we should be worried about if it decomposes. Our lab experiments show that this old frozen carbon can be decomposed when thawed, now it is a matter of making projections into the future with the use of models.

    SMO: If the melting is an accelerating positive feedback loop, can you make any estimates of how much faster the out gassing might be with a given temperature or atmospheric CO2 level increase?

    DR. SCHUUR: Again this is the current and future research figuring out how much of a climate impact this pool will have using g/c/ms and future scenarios.

    SMO: What are the most important actions that you believe should be taken to halt or retard the melting of the permafrost layer?

    DR. SCHUUR: Permafrost stability (and preservation of carbon therein) is affected by climate change. Currently, human-caused changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases are likely to affect global climate, thus anything that we can do to reduce emissions to the atmosphere will help mitigate this problem.

    SMO: There is a school of thought which believes that permafrost melting will result in the tundra becoming a carbon sink rather than a carbon source. The theory is that as the polar climate warms, plant communities currently limited by the cold temperatures will expand their range northward. And since plants are carbon sinks, the net effect of carbon and methane release from the melting permafrost in the tundra will be cancelled.

    DR. SCHUUR: This is an important point and cannot be ignored. It depends on the rate of plant response and soil microbe response. In the yedoma soils there is far more total carbon than can be offset by plant growth, but then that depends on how extensively/fast the soil thaws. In general though there is so much carbon in yedoma down deep (~500gt), that if you consider the total land plant biomass (~650gt) worldwide that you can see that if all the yedoma thawed that there is no way to grow enough plants to offset.

    SMO: Wildcard. Here you can ask your own question and answer it if you wish.

    DR. SCHUUR: Here’s a comment regarding surprises in climate change research. One aspect about this yedoma pool is that we are saying that this is 500 billion tons of carbon that was not really considered before. One extension of this is to think that if this surprise is out there, might there not be other surprises in the earth carbon cycle/climate system that can have a significant impact on our climate trajectory? This research makes me think that there are more surprises out there, and some we might only discover as they change in response to changing climate.

    Dr. Ron S. Nolan is co-founder of Solar Metro Online (www.solarmetro.com), a website dedicated to providing the latest news, articles and commentary about solar energy and transportation for those concerned about the social and environmental impacts of rising oil prices and global warming.

  63. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    #50 Wacki & #54 Hank Roberts

    Lawyers aren’t familiar with the scientific process. Most lawyers, except for patent lawyers, have little or no scientific training. It’s not so much the details, but its the entire process that is different.

    There are many people who aren’t familiar with the scientific process.It’s a reason why scientist’s work is some times isn’t accurately portrayed in the media.

    Here’s a good article:
    http://www.progressivereform.org/perspectives/science.cfm

    “legal system makes most decisions through an adversarial process driven by affected parties who interpret and re-interpret the science to prove that they should ‘win.’ This method of making decisions is largely alien to scientific practice”

  64. Eric (skeptic):

    Thanks Ike, the “Marsh Primer” at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA361.pdf shows a logarithmic change in GH forcing in current concentrations. That seems to not be “saturation” as much edges of the 14.99 micron band being not quite saturated. In any case if the absorption spectrum does change with temperature and pressure it seems like there still is going to be less LW radiation in that band to be absorbed by CO2 at those higher altitudes. It seems to me that altitude is a minor consideration compared to surface temperature and clouds as shown in fig 7h-3: http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7h.html

    What would be really interesting is seeing the changes in net absorption as the weather patterns change.

  65. Eric (skeptic):

    “Max”, hurricanes cause cooling.

  66. Dan:

    re: 66. It is a bit more complicated than that. Hurricanes, especially strong ones, cause upwelling which can cool surface sea temperatures (SSTs) temporarily. But obviously that is after the fact that they have formed over warm SSTs. Last year was an excellent example of the fact that upwelling does not always mean fewer hurricanes. Several of last year’s storms went over the same paths of previous storms.

  67. Matt:

    Ike, I am curious as to why you believe that CO2 saturation has been disproved. It is well understood that CO2, at varying altitudes, absorbs IR radiation at specific wavelengths–however, if CO2 concentrations were to reach supposed “saturation” values at each atmospheric level, then adding more CO2 to the atmosphere (at any level) wouldn’t lead to further warming. The amount of upwelling IR is finite, so this suggests that their must be an upper limit to the amount of warming that CO2 (alone) can cause. If you see any flaws in this argument, please feel free to correct me–I am, by no means, an expert in radiative transfer!

  68. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Sorry, it’s satire … the heat is killing me.

  69. Ike Solem:

    At this point is should be obvious to any observer that global warming is continuing at a rapid pace; we aren’t seeing ‘natural variability’. The recent climate events taken with the less recent climate events show increasing long-term trends; temperature records are coming more frequently then ever.

    Regarding the absorbtion of radiation by the atmosphere, a modern approach would be to build a computer model of horizontal slices of the atmosphere. For each layer, you’d have a quantum-mechanical equation relating the absorption spectrum to temp, pressure and chemical composition – for simplicity, the first stab at this would leave out water vapor. Then you’d have to consider incoming radition from the earth, the sun and from other slices above and below – and water vapor. The result would be a terribly complicated set of coupled differential equations, requiring full-time effort to work with. And that’s just one part of a complete coupled atmospheric-ocean climate model – the most complicated and computer time-sink models ever created, as far as I know.

    It’s not a matter of ‘seems to me’ anymore, it’s a matter of running calculations and comparing them to data, and I can’t believe that these decades-old, settled issues are being dredged up again by self-styled ‘skeptics’. It really seems like the product of a very large disinformation campaign, since any honest observer could easily refute their claims – in fact, they’ve been refuted over and over again! How many times is enough? The radiation absorption issue might be the best-understood part of the whole picture, compared to ocean circulation and ice sheets.

    There are some good news reports of the California heat wave out there, but the majority of the reporting has included misleading, un-contexted one-liners from various scientists. Somehow I don’t think that any of the quoted scientists would have limited their statements to “Well, it’s not possible to blame a single specific event on global warming” – which was, in some cases, the only quote. Why not let the quoted scientist have a whole paragraph? The readers could handle it. A much better analysis is here:

    http://www.thinkandask.com/2006/072906-6calif.html

    I don’t know who wrote this (no author listed), but it’s a detailed play-by-play description of the development of the heat wave conditons, and the sense is that it was a combination of individual events that created the observed record statewide temps – reduced upwelling combined with a strong monsoon desert system. – which looks like two GW-forced events lining up on top of each other, rather than a single event.

    The last-ditch efforts of the industry lobby seem aimed at convincing the public that global warming will be a ‘good thing’ – more plant growth, etc – but the heat spikes that are damaging crop yields across the US are just one small example of why that particular ‘talking point’ is pure tripe. Indications are that the California wine climate is going, too.

  70. Eric (skeptic):

    Dan, I was only considering subsidence, a large area of LW radiation compared to the much smaller area of cold cloud tops. There is also the convection itself, but according to this paper 3088067 in http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu/publications/PhD%20and%20Masters%20Theses.htm concentrated convection causes a drier upper troposphere and thus less warming.

  71. Hank Roberts:

    >65, 66
    Eric-Skeptic, you should learn to be skeptical — part of being an honest skeptic in the sciences is citing sources and reasons for your belief that they reliable for what they’re claiming, so people can check.

    NCPA is one of Exxon’s favored advocacy/PR sources, not a science site.
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=National_Center_for_Policy_Analysis

    Where did you find the idea that hurricanes cause cooling? I find no source for that idea anywhere.

  72. Eric (skeptic):

    Ike, I appreciate your comments and for me, once is enough, although I admit there are plenty of references out there. Unfortunately the one you pointed out in your first post is not quantitative. I understand the models are, but I hope you can understand why I’m a model warming skeptic: mostly because of considerations like the convection discussed here. How can concentration of convection be determined if it isn’t even modeled at a medium scale or smaller?

  73. Eric (skeptic):

    Ike, that’s a very interesting link you provided. It does suggest to me however, that almost none of the heatwave causing conditions are in the GCM models. In the link I provided to the NCAR-CCM3 model theses, the monsoon modeling and local terrain effects are not very accurate.

  74. Eric (skeptic):

    Hank, I did not know the Marsh Primer was biased. But the basic idea of logarithmic CO2 warming has been supported here before (comment #7) http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=222

  75. Grant:

    Re: band saturation

    It’s my understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong!) that even if the CO2 absorption bands are *completely* saturated, increased CO2 can *still* increase global warming. This is because IR radiation cannot penetrate as far through the atmosphere, so the “skin height” (the height at which the atmosphere radiates to space at the pure-blackbody temperature) is elevated. Because of the “lapse rate” (the increase of temperature with depth in the atmosphere), there will therefore be a greater difference between the pure-blackbody temperature and the surface air temperature — more global warming.

  76. wayne davidson:

    I do know about the Upper Air warming, but not quite certain about the exact mechanics involved, estimating that increased CO2 leads to increase heat, and therefore water vapour density. The precise CO2 positive feedbacks dynamics throughout the the entire atmosphere needs to be thouroughly re- explained, even if its a bit off topic, don’t mind to be better educated any time…

  77. Ike Solem:

    The notion that hurricanes cause cooling is taken out of context and presented in a very misleading manner. As a hurricane passes over a warm pool, the warm water evaporates, cooling the ocean (think sweating here) – but where does all that heat energy go? Right up into the atmosphere, where it can then move polewards much faster then if it was carried as an ocean current – and then we can see the warming atmosphere over Greenland, where that warmth helps melt the surface of glaciers, leaving a pitted surface on the ice and percolating water into the glacial interior and lubricating the rock-ice surface. So, the statement was not technically false, but was deliberately misleading and incomplete – in scientific research that is called fraud. You can see more of that kind of thing at http://www.co2science.org, a subsidiary of the Marshall Institute and ExxonMobile, if you really want to.

    As far as the radiation issue goes, think about a still night in the desert (to simplify the atmospheric radiation inputs). The only real radiation source is the warm desert floor; it warms the air above, which warms the air above, and so on. The faster that process can happen, the faster the surface temperature decreases. If you start adding IR-absorbing gases like H2O and CO2 the process is slowed – this is very relevant, because night-time temps should increase in an AGW scenario – and California also set a number of record ‘high-lows’ during the past heat wave, which were the main reason behind the 100+ deaths – an inability to cool off at night. Odd that I couldn’t find news stories that mentioned ’100 deaths’ and ‘global warming’ in the same article.

    To revisit the ‘events’ issue, how many single events that can’t be attributed to AGW does it take before we have a set of events that can be attributed to AGW? The ‘science explanation’ I’ve seen in the media is that even if you are playing with loaded dice, no single outcome can be ‘blamed’ on the loading – to which the only response is, tell that to the bruiser standing by the pit boss. Spin a loaded dice about the various axis and you can see that something’s wrong – and all the statistical nonsense you can come up with won’t help you out much in that situation.

  78. Ike Solem:

    RE #67 – try reformulating your question in terms of rates – how fast or slow things happen – and I’ll try and answer it if you want – but I have no idea what you are talking about, sorry.

  79. Mark A. York:

    The tipping point is a measured window in which CO2 reduction could prevent warming beyond our control and not some political concoction by a PR company. Eric the S wants 20 years and over the falls in a barrel with a wishbone. Bon voyage. Wiser heads are going to do something in that window. Your appeal is to those who know the least.

  80. Hank Roberts:

    > 35 Google is your friend, this should get you started:

    Results … about 274 for deltoid peiser lambert.

    “Peiser sent me the abstracts of the 34 papers that he claims reject or …”

    http://www.scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/03/miranda_devine_garbage_in_garba.php

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2005/07/updates-benny-peiser-john-ray-and.html

    Then vary your search by adding other relevant terms, like this:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22benny+peiser%22+and+oreskes&btnG=Search&hs=Iet&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial

  81. Chuck Booth:

    Re #51 Eric the skeptic wrote: “we will still have to consider and debate other effects (e.g. ocean acidification)”

    In other words, search for new straws to grasp?

  82. Eric (skeptic):

    Ike (#77), the simulations show net cooling for concentrated convection such as hurricanes, but perhaps they were not simulating feedback such as the polar glacier melting you refer to. But if there is indeed more pole-tropic air movement (i.e. an amplified jet stream) that is also a net negative feedback for the climate, see my #142 http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/runaway-tipping-points-of-no-return/

    As far as Greenland itself, I have no quantitative data except that the surface melting you are talking about would only occur for part of the island for a month or two in summer. Warming and moisture any other time would bring fresh snow.

  83. Eric (skeptic):

    Mark (#79), my appeal to the climate modelers (besides continuously improving accuracy and resolution) is to model the solutions to global warming to solve it directly and inexpensively. If the “solution” is left to politicians, we end up devoting scarce fossil energy to politically favored boondoggles (e.g. corn to ethanol, oil from shale, etc). Instead I would like to see what chemical or biological modifications can have the most impact on climate while understanding, to the greatest extent possible, any unwanted side effects. Models that include the biosphere will eventually be able to do this.

  84. Eric (skeptic):

    Chuck (#80), I should say study, not debate. Ocean acidification is serious concern and deserves more study.

  85. Chris Rijk:

    #82, maybe you’d like this rather cheekily written article:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/01/an_artificial_volcano/

    I don’t see how why you expect there to be “solutions” that would directly involve climate modelers though. Chucking a load of sulpher into the stratosphere isn’t a “solution” – at best, it would be just a temporary fix. (Hmm, how much sulpher do we have anyway?). I think the potential for lawsuits would scupper such plans anyway.

    “biological modifications” is vague, but the only thing I can think of is creating some very CO2 hungry bacteria, plants or whatever and chuck ‘em in the ocean. However, this has some obvious problems – like, if they work, how do you make sure that they won’t take out too much CO2 in the long term? If they don’t work, then you’ve just wasted a lot of time and money – and meanwhile things will have gotten even worse. If they do work “just right”, for them to start improving things quickly, I don’t see how that could happen without a massive impact on the oceans ecosystems.

    Prevention not cure, is the only sane solution.

    The sad thing is, smart solutions to reducing CO2 output would have many short/medium-term benefits. Done right, you can improve economic growth and standard of living, while saving the planet…

  86. Eric (skeptic):

    Chris, the problem we are trying to prevent is currently modeled (i.e. requires water vapor or other feedback to be an actual problem), so the solution can be too. There’s no reason for the Register to be so cavalier about the sulfur or for you to quickly dismiss your plankton in the ocean idea. Those solutions can be modeled and side effects (whether beneficial or unwanted) can also be modeled. If the problem can be modeled, then so can the cure. If “prevention” is the only allowed solution, then the required CO2 reductions will be far more painful than the politicians will allow, and the corn farmers and other special interests will make end up wasting lots of energy indirectly. Tractors don’t grow on trees.

  87. Leonard Evens:

    “logarithmic CO_2 effect”?

    Note that if warming were proportional to concentration of CO_2, we would be in such serious trouble that not even the Exxon CEO would be arguing about it. But the log function is still an increasing function with no upper bound. Also, it would be the composite effect of rate of increase of greenhouse gas concentrations and the functional dependence of temperature on concentration that would determine the warming rate. For example, if CO_2 concentrations increase exponentially, and temperature depends logarithmically on concentration, then the effect ends up being linear in time.

    But this is really a total diversion. No one is arguing that the warming is proportional to concentration. The estimates are already based on a logarithmic scale. That is what it means to give CO_2 sensitivity as the number of degrees C change expected from a DOUBLING of CO_2 concentration. The most likely estimates for this based on models and paleoclimate studies appears to be something like 3 deg C and is extremely likely to be in a range something like 1.5 to 4.5 deg C. (I am giving the figures I remember. There are a variety of estimates, but they are all in this ball park.) A skeptic should be arguing about the details of how that estimate is made. I haven’t seen any convincing arguments which can assure us that the sensitivity is so small, say less than 1 deg C, we need not concern ourselves about the problem. It is not enough, given potential consequences, to argue that it can’t be proved beyond any doubt whatsoever that is isn’t that low. It also can’t be proved beyond any doubt whatsoever that it isn’t significantly higher.

    Some people, who should know better, have raised the issue of logarithmic dependence, perhaps as a red herring. They bring up something that might look scary to a lay person and explain why it is not as scary as it might look. If that were what climate scientists were concerned about, they might have a point. but they know quite well it isn’t, and they wouldn’t seriously raise the issue in a discussion with other scientists.

    Unfortunately, people who don’t understand the science see such arguments and try to use them without any real understanding of what they are saying.

  88. Hank Roberts:

    Hurricanes don’t cause cooling. They rearrange heat.

    ‘If the problem can be modeled, then so can the cure’ is meaningless — the problem is the rate of introduction of CO2 into the atmosphere from fossil fuels. Throwing more of something else in too isn’t a solution, it’s a complication to a problem.

    We know a few bits of the problem — ocean acidification and greenhouse effect — well enough for competent scientists like Hansen to be warning us we have to be well into reducing fossil fuel use within the coming decade, or see the planet change beyond anything in human experience.

    And we get bafflegab and handwaving as a response.

    That’s what people do. Maybe that’s what intelligence does anywhere and this is the explanation for the Fermi paradox — a silent universe: intelligent life uses up its readily available fossil fuel and easy metals before getting competent to manage longterm, and dies off.

  89. Chuck Booth:

    RE #85 ” the only thing I can think of is creating some very CO2 hungry bacteria, plants or whatever and chuck ‘em in the ocean. However, this has some obvious problems – like, …’
    Like, what happens to the carbon taken up by bacteria, algae, or plants? Unless those organisms are somehow sequestered (e.g., buried deep in the ocean sediments, or deep underground), they will decay and their carbon will re-enter the ocean and/or atmosphere – it won’t just disappear.

  90. Eli Rabett:

    Might I suggest a modest change in nomenclature to clear the air in one area
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006/07/european-warm-period.html

  91. Roger Smith:

    There are other creative solutions for getting rid of carbon like turning plant matter into a charcoal-like substance and burying them. Whether this makes more or less sense than using plants for biofuels is another question.

  92. Hank Roberts:

    Or this:
    http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=5949123

    Seasonality of climate-human mortality relationships in US cities and impacts of climate change
    Davis, RE; Knappenberger, PC; Michaels, PJ; Novicoff, WM
    Climate Research [Clim. Res.]. Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 61-76. 19 Apr 2004.

    “Human mortality in US cities is highest on extremely hot, humid summer days, but in general, winter-mortality rates are significantly higher than summer rates. The observed winter-dominant warming pattern, which has been linked to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations, has led some researchers to propose future mortality decreases, while others contend that increasing heat-related mortality in summer will more than offset any winter-mortality reductions. … net future climate-related mortality rates are very low relative to the baseline death rate, indicating that climate change will have little impact in defining future mortality patterns in US cities. “

  93. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    HOW NOT TO DO SCIENCE (RE denialists’ misuse of Doran’s findings):

    Grasp at any straw you can that supports your position. If you can’t find any (because they’re becoming more and more scarce), then bend the darned straws to fit your position.

    AKA: BACKWARDS SCIENCE, might makes right, money helps too.

  94. Ike Solem:

    Re #82, # 83, etc, etc, etc.

    You know, Eric (skeptic), the last time I saw writing like yours was when I was grading undergraduate research reports, and I’d always come across some paper that, while very verbose and full of technical terms stacked together (more or less at random), made no sense – as if the student had flipped through the text looking for impressive statements, and had then strung them together without rhyme or reason, probably at the last minute. Responding to or attempting to grade such papers was always tedious, and the student would usually be upset, stating that their failing grade didn’t reflect all the work they had done, and I’d have to say – yes, but you made no sense whatsoever, your references don’t apply to the topic of your paper, and I can’t accept this – sorry. Have you thought about a public relations major instead?

  95. John L. McCormick:

    RE #94 relating to #82

    Ike, I’d suggest Eric drop the class. It would be an honorable choice for him.

    See (below) his profoundly inept effort to hoodwink the prof. Looks like a sloppy cut and paste job to me! Or worse, a deliberate attempt to mislead.

    [As far as Greenland itself, I have no quantitative data except that the surface melting you are talking about would only occur for part of the island for a month or two in summer. Warming and moisture any other time would bring fresh snow.]

  96. Doug Percival:

    Hank Roberts wrote in #88:

    “… scientists like Hansen [are] warning us we have to be well into reducing fossil fuel use within the coming decade, or see the planet change beyond anything in human experience. And we get bafflegab and handwaving as a response. That’s what people do. Maybe that’s what intelligence does anywhere …”

    While there may be an inherent psychological tendency among “people” in general to want to deny frightening or “inconvenient” truths, whether it is a diagnosis of fatal disease or global warming apocalypse, in fact the “bafflegab and handwaving” that dominates public discussion of anthropogenic global warming is the deliberate (and expensive) creation of the fossil fuel industry and the federal government which it has locked in a death grip.

    In the era of “peak oil”, with worldwide oil extraction peaking and irreversibly declining, while worldwide demand is growing, those who control the extraction of oil (and natural gas and coal) stand to become even more unimaginably wealthy and powerful than they are already. They do not want that wealth to be redirected from them to other sectors of society (which is what an aggressive transition from fossil fuels to renewables would do), hence the “bafflegab and handwaving” to prevent that from happening.

  97. Eric (skeptic):

    Ike and John, I did string together a few ideas but those were suggestions of examples of quantitative data. Glaciers in Greenland may become pitted from hurricane heat as Ike suggests in #77, but where is the quantification of that? How does compare to the other climate effects of hurricanes? What would the net effect be? I am not flipping through the textbook for “impressive” statements, I am looking for quantitative discussion that includes positive and negative feedbacks, although in this forum there’s already plenty of discussion about the positive ones.

    I appreciate your leniency, I have had much tougher professors, but I plan to stick around at least until we get back to hockey sticks and sunspot cycles.

  98. Phillip Shaw:

    Re #91:

    “There are other creative solutions for getting rid of carbon like turning plant matter into a charcoal-like substance and burying them. Whether this makes more or less sense than using plants for biofuels is another question.”

    Roger, we already have a buried charcoal-like material derived from plant matter . . . it’s called coal. I’m afraid that digging up old coal and burning it for the energy to make new charcoal would just exacerbate the problem of AGW.

    It seems to me that most of the suggested ‘solutions’ to AGW make as much sense as the old joke about the man who was tired of bailing out his leaky rowboat so he drilled a hole in the bottom to let the water out.

  99. pete best:

    Re#96 Governments are here to sometimes do the common good. If Type II climate change is real then we will all be affected quite seriously sooner, if type I prevails then we can burn more fossil fuels before problems occur. However if pans out year 2100 will be horific with our current business as usual attitude.

    Peak Oil will cause an issue if it is true but Oil companies reckon that there is a lot more Oil out there to be found and at $75 a barrel they are going off to find it because the money is now there to do exploration. I reckon that Oil will be plentiful until the end of the century myself. Gas is in a somewhat similar position to Oil, more to find. Coal is in plentiful supply and will be the major contributor to climate change due to there being several hundred years of it left.

  100. Wacki:

    Re #80 Hank Roberts,

    Thanks for the links. There was a lot of fun info there. Peiser certainly does seem to be a dishonest person. After spending several hours going through every link and sublink on those blogs I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. As a computational biologist I always have to make my data available and I don’t understand why people who analyze abstracts don’t seem to do the same unless they are specifically asked to do so. I certainly have enough information to discredit Peiser based on his behavior alone but I still haven’t seen an answer to the very specific and very simple questions I asked.

    I have the following 37 page document:

    “Consensus in science: How do we know we’re not wrong,” presented at the AAAS meeting on 13 February 2004.

    Which is the full report the BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER was extracted from. A quick scan of the document doesn’t seem to show the 928 abstracts listed in separate groups but maybe I am wrong. Looking at the bibliography I certainly don’t see 928 references. Heck a lot of them aren’t even journals. Reading random sections of the paper and I see lots of paragraphs with the phrases “In 1965, Revelle and his colleagues wrote,”, “discovery of the hypothetico-deductive method in 1847″,… etc etc etc. All stuff that isn’t relevant to my question.

    Again no listing of abstracts in groups. I’ll read the entire 37 pages and get back to you but I’m incredulous that the info is going to be here either.

    What I’m looking for is very specific. In figure 1 of that paper she has the abstracts scored in 6 groups. 1) methods 2) impacts 3) yes 4) historical 5) mitigation 6) no.

    I want to know which abstract is in each group. I want to be able to pic an abstract at random and see if it falls in the same group she put it in. Does that make sense? We did this to Peiser, so why can’t we do this to Oreskes? I don’t know how else to say this.

  101. Rhampton:

    Senator Inhofe makes clear why he is motivated to combat the global warming “myth.” IMHO — the primary sponsor is Exxon-Mobil.

    Agape Press: Commentary & News Briefs
    August 2, 2006

    One senator believes he is finally making a dent in the armor of the global warming movement. Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe says his fight against what he calls the “myth” of global warming has been lonely at times — but that now he is seeing a change. “I really feel like I’m a voice in the wilderness on the whole global warming issue,” says the senator. “[But] it’s clear now that the majority of the members of the United States Senate agree with me that global warming is one of the things that has come from the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Control, all based on lies.”

    According to Inhofe, it have been difficult getting the truth out. “The elitist, left, Hollywood people in this country have this as their poster child,” he explains, “and they are trying to make the American people be punished economically for something that is nothing but a hoax.” The Republican lawmaker vows to continue his fight against the misleading information.

    I guess the Senator is unaware that corporate giants like Wal-Mart (Fortune, July 27 2006 “Wal-Mart sees green”) have not only accepted anthropogenic warming, but have started to take action.

  102. Roger Smith:

    “Roger, we already have a buried charcoal-like material derived from plant matter . . . it’s called coal. I’m afraid that digging up old coal and burning it for the energy to make new charcoal would just exacerbate the problem of AGW.”

    While this seems at least in part in jest, it’s hard to tell as it makes no sense. We can take *new* plant matter that stores carbon while it is alive, and make it a permanent carbon sink by turning it into bio-char and burying it for good. Otherwise it dies and the carbon ends up back in the air. This will not provide any energy, but the stored carbon won’t go anywhere or dissolve underground mines through acidity, unlike gaseous CO2.

    It isn’t an either/or situation. I work for an NGO to reduce GHG emissions and this must be the bulk of the solution.

    We’re also not thrilled by geoengineering ideas like increasing SO2 pollution with other obvious disbenefits.

  103. Hank Roberts:

    >80, 100

    I can’t help you with the info, aside from suggesting you ask Science or the author for it.

    As an academic yourself, I imagine the ISI database should be available to you, and searchable; have you tried replicating the result, without changing the search terms as Peiser did, to see what you get?

    There are a great many studies _of_ the ISI product, for example
    http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crljournal/crl2004/crlmarch04/nisonger.pdf

    My impression is that given the date range and search term, people simply look this stuff up using the same terms, to get the same information.

    If you don’t, you have a publication right there — although don’t make Peiser’s error!

  104. Dano:

    RE 103 (Roberts):

    I imagine the ISI database should be available to you…have you tried replicating the result, without changing the search terms as Peiser did, to see what you get?

    I did this and commented at Lambert’s old site. I was able to easily replicate the result.

    As to whether Wacki can look at how Oreskes categorized the abstracts, I have no problem asking a researcher for info like this (not as the Dano character, but me as an applied researcher asking) and getting a reply. E-mail her, give your creds, and ask.

    —–

    RE 101 (Rhampton):

    I guess the Senator is unaware that corporate giants like Wal-Mart…have not only accepted anthropogenic warming, but have started to take action.

    Oh, I’m confident he’s well aware.

    Best,

    D

  105. Wacki:

    Re #103 “As an academic yourself, I imagine the ISI database should be available to you, and searchable; have you tried replicating the result, without changing the search terms as Peiser did, to see what you get?”

    If I only provided my conclusions in my line of work I’d be in some serious trouble very quickly. I honestly can’t believe publishing raw data isn’t standard practice in any statistical study. I have e-mailed Oreskes and she says she will probably post the list on her website as others have suggested it. As of now it only exists in note form in her lab.

  106. shargash:

    Re: #99 – “Oil companies reckon that there is a lot more Oil out there to be found”

    Some oil companies claim that; others (BP, frex) do not. However, discoveries of new oil have been declining since the 1960s, and there were several periods of high oil prices during that period. The vast majority of places where oil might be found have already been searched, and searched thoroughly. No new elephant fields have been discovered since the 60s. Most “big” new fields discovered contain less than 10 billion barrels. Consumption is 84 million barrels a day. Do the math.

    What’s worse is that the oil reserves of all OPEC nations is almost certainly inflated. In fact Kuwait was caught cheating late last year and has downgraded its reserves. Saudi Arabia inexplicably inflated its reserves when OPEC was formed, and almost no one believes the kingdom has as much oil as its inflated estimates.

    For oil to last until the end of the current century at current consumption rates, several times more new oil would have to be discovered than has ever been discovered in history. That’s fantasy.

    Peak oil is vital to climate change, because declining oil production will force a rapid and large expansion of the use of coal. If the conversion to coal has a panicy nature, as it will if oil prices shoot up fast enough, there is very little chance the conversion to coal will be accompanied by carbon sequestration methods.

  107. Brian Gordon:

    Re: peak oil

    Some folks point to Alberta’s oil sands as the saviours of our oil-based civilisation, but there are some major problems with that:

    1. Because of the greatly increased cost of extracting oil from the tar sands, Alberta agreed to a 1% royalty until capital costs are repaid. Alberta currently gets ~25% (or more) from conventional oil extraction, so this is a huge loss of income.

    2. Conventional oil and natural gas reserves in Alberta have been declining.

    Add these two together and you can see that Alberta is in big trouble financially. Add the colossal environmental destruction caused by extracting oil from the tar sands. Add global concern about global warming. The net result may well be that Alberta/Canada voluntarily limit or even end digging through the tar, much as the US chose not to drill in the ANWR.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/realitycheck/20060705sheppard.html
    “…production from so-called conventional oil and gas reserves is dwindling noticeably, and has been for a few years…. Resource revenue alone totalled a record $14.3 billion last year, slightly more than half of all government spending.

    A barrel of $50 bitumen earns the province only about a quarter, the Globe and Mail calculated recently. And this looks to be a real concern over the next several years, because as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers points out, the oilsands are expected to account for 90 per cent of Alberta’s oil production within the next 10 years.

    In the past, Alberta has expected to reap roughly 25 per cent as the province’s share of oil and gas revenues. But according to the Calgary Herald, even Alberta Energy has acknowledged that rate has slipped to 19 per cent as of 2004, while other analysts have put it closer to 15 per cent.

  108. Glen Fergus:

    Re 10:

    Thanks for that. I’ve been looking for an update on Svalbard, but with that and a few deft clicks I can do my own, and no Norwegian language skills required! See http://members.optusnet.com.au/~gsfergus/Svalbard%20to%206-06.png

    After all the drama this winter-spring, June came in at a mere +4.1°C. But it’s the trend that’s impressive, particularly once you read the temperature scale … +6°C in 100 years; +4°C of that in the last 30 years. But as Rasmus said, it’s just one point.

    [Monthly anomalies are relative to the station average of all means for the month. I've moved Luft up by 2°C and Isfjord down by 1°C so that the regression lines meet at the station change, and so that they cross zero near 1975. So anomalies are roughly relative to the usual 1960-90 interval.]

  109. Chris Rijk:

    Re: #86

    Chris, the problem we are trying to prevent is currently modeled (i.e. requires water vapor or other feedback to be an actual problem), so the solution can be too.

    Those models are being tuned with new observations however. Wide-scale pumping of sulphates into the atmosphere would be harder to model accurately due to lack of data. The longer AGW goes on for, the better the models will become, due to better data, improvements in the models themselves, and far greater computer resources. Extreme counter-measures will get easier to model for similar reasons – except they won’t have more data. So the uncertainties will still be large.

    There’s no reason for the Register to be so cavalier about the sulfur or for you to quickly dismiss your plankton in the ocean idea. Those solutions can be modeled and side effects (whether beneficial or unwanted) can also be modeled. If the problem can be modeled, then so can the cure.

    With something as complex as the climate for the entire planet, there are massive difficulties – like the sheer amount of data needed, and all the “edge cases” which are particularly important for positive and negative feedbacks. However, the planet is effectively computing the problem for us – it is reacting to increased greenhouse gasses (and other human activity) and giving us an “answer”. One of the current problems for modelers is the lack of high-quality, high-resolution data for the whole planet (eg satelite measurements), since we only have a few decades worth (or less) in many cases. In 50/100 years time, that’d be much less of an issue.

    While general understanding of the climate will improve over time, doing something new will still have a lot of uncertainty.

    If “prevention” is the only allowed solution, then the required CO2 reductions will be far more painful than the politicians will allow, and the corn farmers and other special interests will make end up wasting lots of energy indirectly. Tractors don’t grow on trees.

    I already said “The sad thing is, smart solutions to reducing CO2 output would have many short/medium-term benefits.”

    Countries have been able to both grow their economies and reduce consumption of crude oil in the past – eg with the efficiency drives after the second round of oil shocks. While a long term efficiency drive for energy usage would have transition costs, they would mostly be temporary, and the benefits would be long term.

    With the rise in oil prices (and similarly for other sources of energy), businesses are already reacting – with energy costs rising as a percentage of costs, energy efficiency is becoming a higher priority. For example, the computer industry has become a lot keener on this in the last year or so.

    Besides, if your opinion of politicians is so low, why bet on “radical” solutions. If in 50-100 years time, one country or small group of countries decided to unilaterally “fix” the global warming problem with drastic measures (such as blasting lots of sulphates into the whole atmosphere, or bio-engineering the world’s oceans), that could cause a major war. Putting it another way, major countries would not be willing to risk the fallout unless there was a global consenus on the “remedies”. If things have already gotten so bad, you want to then assume politicians over the whole world will suddenly come to their senses?

    In comparison, for reducing greenhouse gas emmissions, each country can do it themselves without having to worry about how others might react. After all, as I have already argued, improving energy efficiency dramatically would help long term economic growth. Not many politicians have realised this yet though, unfortunately, which is why many of the proposed solutions to date are rather clunky.

  110. Eric (skeptic):

    Chris, thanks for your detailed response. As you might suspect, I am much less of a believer in global consensus than many on this site. But if we agree that raising the price of oil has led to efficiency and raising the price of carbon would do the same, would not raising the price of warming itself lead to the most efficient solutions for warming? In that case we would have to rely on models with sufficient accuracy to predict the effects of, for example, converting a large amount of cattle farming back to rainforest. Would that outweigh the benefits of shutting down a coal power plant or would it cost more than sequestering carbon? Again, back to the models. If I had to trust one thing in 10-20 years time, it would be the ability of the models to accurately predict warming instead of the ability of politicians to come to a sensible consensus.

    In our representative democracy lobbyists on both sides will be pushing their solutions (or pushing for no action) and the compromises could easily combine their worst aspects.

    Regarding the time frame, I don’t think we need 50-100 years of measurements, but rather some very accurate snapshots to initialize the models and a lot of computing power to get the required resolution. I think that’s only a decade away or two at the most.

  111. Hank Roberts:

    Eric, it’s true getting that information is a decade away, but you have the sign wrong on your time arrow.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Hansen+climate+dangerous&start=0

  112. Steve Bloom:

    Re #111: Let’s take the example of the Amazon rain forest, where cattle ranching is a major factor in deforestation. So, we pay the famously rapacious Brazilian ranchers to remove their cattle and let the rainforest grow back in exchange for not having to reduce some quantity of coal power plant emissions. Unfortunately, rain forest grows slowly and AGW-induced drought continues, with the consequence that the Amazon converts to savanna anyway and all of those billions of tons of biomass end up in the air anyway. The one guarantee in all of this is that said ranchers will enjoy a lovely retirement. I imagine them laughing about it while sipping iced drinks on Ipanema.

  113. Chris Rijk:

    Re #110

    Chris, thanks for your detailed response. As you might suspect, I am much less of a believer in global consensus than many on this site.

    On a personal note, I don’t see it as a matter of belief – more a case of trust, or verifiability. A theory that explains the facts is good – one which made predictions which turned out to be correct is better. “May the best theory win”, as it were, and they are tested to destruction. Though sometimes it takes a while for a theory proven wrong to die away completely. Several decades ago, the general consensus among scientists was that the climate changes slowly and had only ever changed slowly – ie like geology. However, a large accumulation of facts showing otherwise forced a re-think.

    Unfortunately, modelling the Earth, which we only have one of, is rather hard. Can’t “reproduce the problem” or “replicate the experiment”. So I’m not surprised the error bars on predictions are large. Still, any alternative to the consensus still has to explain the known facts.

    But if we agree that raising the price of oil has led to efficiency and raising the price of carbon would do the same, would not raising the price of warming itself lead to the most efficient solutions for warming?

    I don’t know if existing “carbon trading” schemes allow for other greenhouse gasses. No matter how you do that though, there would have to be “fudge factors”. Basically, the relative effect of CO2 vs methane varies over time, since methane doesn’t last very long in the atmosphere. So any “price of warming” would depend on what time scale you use. You might as well simply equate a conversion rate between CO2 and methane – 1 ton of methane = xx tons of CO2.

    In other words, I think “price of carbon” and “price of warming” would be pretty similar in the end.

    The good thing about carbon trading is that it tackles the problem at source, and simply leaves organisations to best decide how to adjust. But can it work well at an individual level? For example, can you do carbon trading on cars directly, or just the fuel? Can you get a “carbon discount” by buying a more power effiecient TV?

    I certainly think that in general, more information would help – even if it requires more legislation and more laws. For example, if every car (van, truck, bus etc) had a real-time miles-per-galon and galons-per-trip meter on the dashboard, then drivers could see how their driving affects it – eg, how much a quick 2 mile drive costs. Most drivers would then adjust their driving to be more efficient to save themselves money. Similar things could be done for electrical consumption: instead of simply calling on consumers (and businesses) to save wasted electricity, if you make sure they have detailed info on what they’re spending right now, then they’ll adjust anyway.

    In that case we would have to rely on models with sufficient accuracy to predict the effects of, for example, converting a large amount of cattle farming back to rainforest. Would that outweigh the benefits of shutting down a coal power plant or would it cost more than sequestering carbon? Again, back to the models.

    What kind of “models” are you talking about here? Pure climate models will not give you such answers. You’d need economic models. It would also be rather silly to do a climate model for the differences of a single small event like the above.

    This week’s Economist has an article on carbon offsetting/trading:
    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7252897
    (including some of the problems with schemes to date…)

    In our representative democracy lobbyists on both sides will be pushing their solutions (or pushing for no action) and the compromises could easily combine their worst aspects.

    Such problems will vary from place to place – in the US, some states are taking independant action, even at an international leve (eg: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/5233466.stm ) and most people expect the next US presidental election to feature such issues prominently from the major candidates.

    A sanely done international carbon trading scheme would be very nice – and most businesses expect this to happen sooner or later. Personally, I’d like to see a more general effort to improve energy efficiency – punish (eg with taxes) inefficient companies, buildings, products etc, and reward the efficient ones (with the taxes you collected from the inefficient ones) creating an overall revenue/tax netural scheme apart from overheads. This would be done on efficiency bands rather than abitary values – eg bottom 10% get taxed most, top 10% get most reward. The companies who are better at creating efficient products will then out-grow and out-compete the bad ones. This creates a perpetual drive to improve efficiency (so long as the official measures of efficiency are strongly relevant to the real world). It would also be nice to see prizes for particular technical achievements, in a similar style to the X-Prize – doesn’t have to be government funded. That would drive the “bleeding edge” of technology – improving the state of the art.

    Regarding the time frame, I don’t think we need 50-100 years of measurements, but rather some very accurate snapshots to initialize the models and a lot of computing power to get the required resolution. I think that’s only a decade away or two at the most.

    The reason I gave 50-100 years was because by then, things might have gotten bad enough for some countries to contemplate drastic action. It wasn’t about how long it’d take models to improve. ie, by the time things could get really bad, the models will have improved a lot as well (most likely well before).

  114. Eric (skeptic):

    Chris,

    I think it would be quite useful to do climate models on millions of small events like the cattle farmers example. I would not ever suggest linking it to an economic model because I believe that is what the market is for. The models might ultimately need to be leased or loaned to the WalMarts of the world who might otherwise create unintended side effects from their actions. The Economist is being unduly pessimistic, there’s very little that can go wrong with planting trees that grow for 100 years, but the full energy used to do it and impact of it must be modeled.

    To Steve, I have been planting part of my 7 acres that were bulldozed by the previous owner, first a cover crop to reduce erosion, now quick shade from locust along with native grasses, ultimately a mature native forest. There’s plenty of incentive for me to raise the value of my land without even considering the carbon benefits. But only focussing on carbon loses the rest of the potential cheaper climate solutions.

    Looking at the total energy impact is one potential solution, at least we would stop subsidizing hyprids and ethanol that use up more energy in their production and full life cycle than conventional alternatives. A better approach is your X Prize or similar, tied to full climate models to achieve the greatest efficiency. Likewise keeping “green” companies truly green. I can get a free permit to harvest newly fallen trees in the national forest next to me, imagine if those trees were RFID tagged and I got a small credit for removing the ones most likely to produce methane. The alternative, I’m afraid, is going to be tweaking the tax code to subsidize green-looking power generation while taxing my wood stove

  115. Hank Roberts:

    >hybrids
    Is that the study that assumed a 300k mile useful life for the gas engine?
    There was one rather bogus study out; did you have a reference?

  116. Chris Rijk:

    Re: #114

    I think it would be quite useful to do climate models on millions of small events like the cattle farmers example. I would not ever suggest linking it to an economic model because I believe that is what the market is for. The models might ultimately need to be leased or loaned to the WalMarts of the world who might otherwise create unintended side effects from their actions. The Economist is being unduly pessimistic, there’s very little that can go wrong with planting trees that grow for 100 years, but the full energy used to do it and impact of it must be modeled.

    You seem to be suggesting that each type of activity that could have an impact on the climate be modelled individually. I don’t see how this would give different results to conventional models which look at the components (gasses, aerosoles, effects of soil erosion etc).

    I don’t think the Economist is being pessimistic about trees – the problem is not such much things like disease, drought or forest fires, but humans. ie, if you pay someone to plant some trees to offset your carbon emissions then a few decades later those trees are cut down, then those offsets are gone.

    To Steve, I have been planting part of my 7 acres that were bulldozed by the previous owner, first a cover crop to reduce erosion, now quick shade from locust along with native grasses, ultimately a mature native forest. There’s plenty of incentive for me to raise the value of my land without even considering the carbon benefits. But only focussing on carbon loses the rest of the potential cheaper climate solutions.

    Semi-related: One reason why I push energy efficiency in general is I think that it should result in better economic growth. More economic growth means more profits / disposable income, which means further investment to improve efficiency can be better afforded. Of course, any investment to improve energy efficiency would have short term costs – it’s the medium/long term gains that are important (start with low hanging fruit first of course). Policies which permanently hurt growth, profits and disposable income make it harder to afford further investment (though might make sense on grounds of health and safety). Policies which are neutral in terms of growth/profits but reduce global warming should still be done.

    Looking at the total energy impact is one potential solution, at least we would stop subsidizing hyprids and ethanol that use up more energy in their production and full life cycle than conventional alternatives. A better approach is your X Prize or similar, tied to full climate models to achieve the greatest efficiency. Likewise keeping “green” companies truly green. I can get a free permit to harvest newly fallen trees in the national forest next to me, imagine if those trees were RFID tagged and I got a small credit for removing the ones most likely to produce methane. The alternative, I’m afraid, is going to be tweaking the tax code to subsidize green-looking power generation while taxing my wood stove.

    In many places, petrol/gasoline is subsided already though (directly or indirectly). I agree with the general sentiment that the best solution (in terms of economics and climate change) should win, not the politicans personal pet projects. In general, I think hybridisation is a useful tool to improve efficiency, and that volume production and more R&D should help improve the befits while reducing the costs. However, I strongly dislike the thinking that the only green car is a Prius (or similar), or that a 4×4 car is automatically evil. On safety grounds, other things being equal, a 4×4 car (you can get compact 4x4s for urban driving) has better handling – while the thin tires on a Prius hurt the handling. Basically, cars should be compared on actual fuel usage / CO2 emissions, rather than whether they’re a hybrid or not, or whether they’re a 4×4 or not.

    On the political policy side of things, unfortunately some political parties use global warming as an excuse to push policies which just advance their standard prejudices – and then claim to have the moral high ground. Which is why it would be best for all political parties to agree that AGW is a serious problem that needs to be addressed now.

    Going back to cars for a bit, given the rate at which battery technology is improving and considering the technology being developed today, and the advantages of electric motors (max torque at min revs, get more efficient the larger they get, unlike fuel powered motors), I think cars like the Tesla Roadster might be a better indication of the future than the Prius. Apparantly, Tesla have only spent $25m developing the car to date, which is pretty darn cheap for a completely new car. Mass volume of advanced lightweight composite materials (such as, for maximum irony, carbon fiber) could not only reduce manufacturing costs, but improve efficiency and safety.

  117. Eric (skeptic):

    I saw that study and 300k for a truck to 100k for the hybrid was clearly bogus. My conclusions are from watching hybrid users here in VA and many are not driving in the city or traffic where they make sense but on the open highway to get the HOV exemption. That means batteries and electric motors that do nothing but add weight most of the time.

  118. Grant:

    Re: #116

    On the political policy side of things, unfortunately some political parties use global warming as an excuse to push policies which just advance their standard prejudices – and then claim to have the moral high ground.

    I think perhaps this is a myth. Can you give me specific examples?

  119. Eric (skeptic):

    Hi Chris, I don’t understand why the models of aerosols, erosion, etc can’t be combined the climate models. Although weak they do create climate feedback and millions of actions combined will make a difference. Erosion, for example, will allow quicker moisture evaporation, less soil moisture and warming. Wouldn’t that add up to something on a worldwide scale? The key is complete enough models to see all the effects and possible unwanted side-effects and creating the incentives to use the most complete models.

    I’m still not sure I agree on the trees, I have no incentive not to leave my 50-100 year old walnuts alone unless they blow down, at which point I have cut some into firewood and others into beams that I am air drying. I have a bigger investment value leaving the other ones to grow, it’s part of my retirement plan (I am 43).

    On Tesla I agree wholeheartedly. Imagine the difference in energy used to design and build it versus any antifreeze cooled gasoline competitor.

  120. Brian Gordon:

    Re: Eric(s): “would not raising the price of warming itself lead to the most efficient solutions for warming?”

    Yeah, baby! I am entirely in favour of this – it’s part of sustainability. You can provide any (legal) good or service you wish, provided you do it sustainably. Meaning, feed the tailpipe of the car into the passenger compartment. If the exhaust isn’t safe enough for the driver to breathe, it’s not safe enough for the pedestrians and locals you drive by to breathe.

    Sustainability means no longer externalizing problems – it means accepting responsibility for what you do.

  121. Chris Rijk:

    Re #118
    The best example I can think of is the desire in the UK by some “left” groups and politicans to put massive massive taxes on “Chesea Tractors” (ie SUVs) using AGW as an excuse, which looks more like a retroactive rich tax to me. Given the massive taxes on fuel in the UK, it’s not like poor fuel efficiency isn’t already being punished.

    The same types also tend to forget that busses and trains could be made a lot more fuel efficient too.

    On the “right” side, some seem overly keen to subsidise next-gen nuclear power on the grounds that nuclear power generation doesn’t generate CO2. However, mining and refining uranium is energy intensive, nuclear power stations are much more expensive (and energy intensive) to build and decommission and waste desposal is hardly cheap. Nuclear power stations are also not very economical when current government subsidies are removed. Seems to make much more sense to spend the same amount of money on wind, solar or tidal power, and general improvements to the production of electricity.

  122. Chris Rijk:

    Re #119

    Hi Chris, I don’t understand why the models of aerosols, erosion, etc can’t be combined the climate models. Although weak they do create climate feedback and millions of actions combined will make a difference. Erosion, for example, will allow quicker moisture evaporation, less soil moisture and warming. Wouldn’t that add up to something on a worldwide scale? The key is complete enough models to see all the effects and possible unwanted side-effects and creating the incentives to use the most complete models.

    Here’s a graph showing the effects of the top 5 forcing effects on global temperatures:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution.png

    Certainly things like soil erosion are modelled too, but I think the overall effect is too small compared to the above 5 to be given that much attention. With regards to feedbacks, which have a very big effect, the effects of clouds and water vapour has big error bars, and something like soil erosion would be lost in the noise.

    However, my point in the previous post was not that such things shouldn’t be modelled but that you seemed to be saying each industry should be modelled separately, not the actual components – CO2 is CO2, the source doesn’t matter.

    I’m still not sure I agree on the trees, I have no incentive not to leave my 50-100 year old walnuts alone unless they blow down, at which point I have cut some into firewood and others into beams that I am air drying. I have a bigger investment value leaving the other ones to grow, it’s part of my retirement plan (I am 43).

    I’m not doubing your situation. But, if you consider carbon offsetting programs using trees world-wde, what’s the chance a number of them in the next 100 years will go bankrupt and get taken over by sometime who decides to chop the lot down. Or get hit by forest fires, or pollution, or disease – all of which become bigger problems with climate change.

    Basically, a few well publicised bad apples could undermine such programs. Better to avoid the potential problems in advance.

  123. Hank Roberts:

    Eric(S), aren’t you asking for a 1:1 map before going forward? Unless NASA gets really, really good at distributed networks of instruments at the “smart dust” level
    http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/~pister/SmartDust/
    nobody’s going to be able to model accurately enough and update quickly enough to satisfy that.

    We know enough to do the easy and immediately financially profitable work now — despite the complaints of the Western Fuels (coal industry) lobby. Yes, it’s going to pinch them to do this. But it requires the early and obvious choices be made now.

    Read Hansen, not secondary sources. Try the pages linked to this one, is my suggestion. Others may know better and more recent summaries, but I found this very good:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/altscenario/discussion.html
    “Discussion of “An Alternative Scenario” By James E. Hansen
    Expanded from an MIT Workshop at Johns Hopkins University, Oct. 16, 2000

    “I appreciate this opportunity to clarify our paper. Some thoughtful people did not understand very well what we were trying to say, so I accept the blame for not being clear enough. Even usually reliable sources such as The New York Times had either inaccuracies or emphases in their description of the paper that were misleading about its thrust. I have found it difficult to correct the mischaracterizations…..”
    ————————–

    Ten years from now is after hundreds more old tech big coal-burning plants go into operation — guaranteeing the short term profits the Western Fuels people want to book, and also guaranteeing the CO2 output that guarantees a big problem in the longer term for the next generation.

    Check what you hear and check who is telling you, and ask why you believe what they are telling you. You’ll hear and you’ve said that acid rain wasn’t a problem. Not true. You’ll hear that mercury pollution from coal is not a problem. Not true. You’ll hear that particulates are not a problem. Not true.

    You’ll hear that there’s no better technology. It’s being tested:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=17053

    “The Alternative — Catastrophic climate change is not inevitable. We possess the technologies that could forestall global warming. Why can’t we use them? —-By Jason Pontin

    Quote:

    “Technology Review is sunnily confident that technology is the single greatest force for expanding human possibilities. But honesty compels us to confess that technology has created the prospect of catastrophic climate change. Technology, too, must provide a solution.

    “This month, in a package of stories edited by our chief correspondent, David Talbot, we argue that “It’s Not Too Late”.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17055&ch=biztech
    We believe the energy technologies that could forestall the worst effects of global warming already exist. Rather than waiting for futuristic alternatives like the much-bruited “hydrogen economy,” the nations of the world could begin to control the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions today. What is lacking is any considered strategy….”
    ———- end quote——

    If we pull together a decade of conservation, energy efficiency and smart development will buy us a future worth leaving to the next generation.

  124. Eric (skeptic):

    Hank, I don’t think I’m asking for anything that grand. I am more interested in laying down a challenge: if models or the analysis of models can be used to predict bad consequences then they also can evaluate adjustments of parameters that might lead to beneficial consequences. One potential downside is that economics is not modeled (I would deliberately leave that out) and it could lead to “tyranny by model” where details of daily life are prescribed and proscribed by the model. The upside is it gives a continuous global perspective to any locality contemplating global-affecting action and can ultimately be extended to every individual.

    A carbon credit or license precludes more economically efficient ways of preventing environmental problems. Taxes and licenses should not be a start, but a finishing point or safety net. People don’t donate always to charity just because of tax advantages, and the environment wouldn’t necessarily require it either although a government “safety net” would obviously be a good thing. As just one example, instead of contributing to the propane and natural gas fuel fund like I did last year, I could contribute to a green heating fund for the poor.

  125. Pianoguy:

    #117 – re: hybrids
    It’s a common misconception that hybrids don’t get better highway mpg than conventional cars. There are two reasons why this is wrong, especially for the Prius, the Camry hybrid, and the Ford Escape:

    1. The engines in these cars use the Miller cycle instead of the traditional Otto cycle. This means the power stroke is longer than the compression stroke, with a resultant increase in efficiency into the diesel range. (The defect of the Miller cycle is low torque at low rpm, but in a hybrid, the high-torque electric motor conpensates for that.)

    2. In addition, all hybrids have regenerative braking, which means that on any downhill – which even freeways have – they can convert kinetic energy into electricity.

    As a result, I routinely get around 60 mpg at 60 mph in my Prius. None of my diesel-powered friends comes close to that.

  126. Hank Roberts:

    Eric/S — even better, we could contribute to attic insulation for poor people. California tried to set that up back in the late 1970s when Jerry Brown was governor and the some combination of the lead paint and landlords’ lobby defeated it, as I vaguely recall, because the work would have had to be done with awareness of the lead hazard and would have meant improving the actual energy efficiency of the private property.

    Thirty years ago (sigh)…. turns not taken.

  127. Globalcooler:

    Hi Friends,
    We need to better educate the public on globl warming. I am impressed with alGore.
    globalwarming

  128. Rhampton:

    Where did that video spoofing Gore’s film come from?
    The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006

    DCI is no stranger to the debate over global warming. Partly through Tech Central Station, an opinion Web site it operates, DCI has sought to raise doubts about the science of global warming and about Mr. Gore’s film, placing skeptical scientists [Pat Michaels, Iain Murray, etc.] on talk-radio shows and paying them to write editorials.

  129. Chris Rijk:

    Re #124

    Hank, I don’t think I’m asking for anything that grand. I am more interested in laying down a challenge: if models or the analysis of models can be used to predict bad consequences then they also can evaluate adjustments of parameters that might lead to beneficial consequences. One potential downside is that economics is not modeled (I would deliberately leave that out) and it could lead to “tyranny by model” where details of daily life are prescribed and proscribed by the model. The upside is it gives a continuous global perspective to any locality contemplating global-affecting action and can ultimately be extended to every individual.

    Climate models cannot possibily dictate daily life. Climate models don’t say how to solve the problem – the problem is CO2 (and similar). If two different programs would reduce CO2 emissions at the same rate, from a climate modelling point of view, they are equivalent. Hence, economics, politics, market forces etc would decide which program to go with (or whether to do both).

    Certainly climate models can be used to project the effect of cutting global CO2 emissions by a certain amount or to a certain amount, or the relative long term difference between say CO2 concentrations increasing by x% per year vs double that. Those sorts of things are already being done.

    What becomes tricky is costing the differences. Certainly economics would be involved with that – but it’s not so simple. For example, if the sea levels rise 5m, well, most countries could cope with that by building bigger, higher sea barriers, which is relatively predictable to cost. Countries and areas that rely on their current coast line (eg beaches) would suffer a lot though. However, the more land moves below sea level, the higher the cost of major storms will be – because a breach of the sea walls would lead to massive flooding. With higher sea temperatures, fiercer storms would also be expected, and possibly in new areas. Sea walls would also make a terrorist target. Local weather patterns could change significantly, which could significantly affect what crops can be grown, and how economicly. At a bigger scale, how would you cost the effect of massive changes on the whole monsoon season, for example.

    Timeline would also matter a lot. The difference between having a 50 year and 200 year timeline for cost/benefit analysis could be huge (more than 10x).

    As a side note, I certainly expect some people to get increasingly interested in climate change models – and to do modelling themselves. A good example would be insurance companies – the effects and risk from AGW would not be evenly distributed. I doubt you’d be able to get AGW insurance (would be rather meaningless I think) but rather, the insurance companies would be concerned about long term risks and insurance rates.

  130. jhm:

    To laugh or to cry, that is the question.

    Click if your dare.

  131. Rhampton:

    Christians Warned Not to Jump on Global Warming Bandwagon
    AgapePress, August 7, 2006

    Conservative columnist Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy says an attempt to align the evangelical movement with the environmental movement on the issue of global warming is “nothing new under the sun.” He believes Evangelicals should have better sense than to support what he sees as just another cultural fad.

    …That fad will certainly last for several more years, the Christian columnist asserts. However, he says he suspects currently popular global warming theories “Will not be with us in the coming decades,” as they will eventually subside, “just as the talk about the new ice age in the 1970s ultimately faded away.”

  132. Laurence Williams:

    In An End To Global Warming (ISBN 0-08-044045-2) I proposed a way to terminate the burning of fossil fuels. Yes, it will be hard work, but accomplishments of value require hard work. Yes, it will cost a lot of money but the world currently spends 6 to 8 trillion (yes trillion) per year on energy. To put us on a path to stop the combustion of fossil fuels will take about 30 billion for 8 or 10 years, and 20 to 30 years to complete the conversion. We meed to take action soon prevent a disaster for our children and grandchildren.

  133. Brian Allen:

    going way back to #4 above. Lindzen (professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, a very impressive badge) stated that “satellite data showed no warming since 1979″. I am very interested in this and have not seen a reference to this study if it is one. Thanks, BA

  134. Jim Dukelow:

    Re #133

    Well, it depends a bit on WHEN Lindzen said/wrote that.

    It is easy enough to check on the trends. Simply download the Christy/Spencer monthly anomalies from the MSU website at http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2 and turn your favorite statistical software loose on it.

    I used MS Excel and calculated linear trends from December 1978 to the end of each year since 1980 we find:

    Negative trends for end of 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, and 1994. Of those negative trends, only the trends for 1984, 1985, and 1986 were statistically significantly differnt from zero (using the F-test).

    All other years had positive trends, with the trends for 1980, 1981, 1982, 1991, 1998, and all years since 1998 being statistically significantly larger than zero.

    The observant will note the coincidence of the negative trends of 83-85 with the eruption of El Chichon and the negative trends of 93-94 with the global cooling caused by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

    The current trend (December 1978 to July 2006) is +0.134 deg C per decade (with an approximate 95% confidence interval from +0.11 to +0.158 deg C per decade), somewhat smaller than the trends in the surface data sets.

    Every other group that has analyzed the raw MSU data has calculated higher trends than those produced by the Christy/Spencer algorithms.

    If the Lindzen quote is recent, it can be left to the reader to decide if he is negligently unobservant or aware but ingenuous.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  135. Jim Dukelow:

    Re #133 and #134

    Curioser and curioser.

    I did a bit of Googling to see when Lindzen wrote “satellite data showed no warming since 1979″. It was quite recent, in his July 2006 op-ed whine in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote: “The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperature, and yet satellite data showed no warming in the atmosphere since 1979.”

    Similarly, in a Geophysical Research Letters paper with Constantine Giannitis (also at MIT), GRL, v. 29, no. 0, pp. X-1 to X-3, they write “The surface data suggests a warming of about 0.25C, while the satellite data shows no significant increase (more precisely, the trend in the satellite data through 2001 is 0.035 +/- 0.06C/decade.”

    As I noted in Comment #134 above, the trend from December 1978 to December 2001 is positive and statistically significantly different from zero, a result inconsistent with the Lindzen et al. GRL quote. Specifically, the 78-2001 trend is +0.0944 with a s.d. of +0.016 and an F-statistic value of 32.4032 with 276 d.f. A 95% CI for the trend slope will be somewhat greater that +/- two standard deviations, because of the autocorrelation of the temperature anomaly time series.

    What can account for the discrepancy between Lindzen and Giannitis’ 2002 GRL paper and my analysis of current MSU temperature anomalies?

    As it happens, I have among my souvenirs MSU data from 2001 and 2002. My analysis of the 2002 data agrees roughly with Lindzen and Giannitis (I get slope of 0.03779 deg C/decade for Dec 78 to Jan 2002, with s.d. of 0.01704). Why the difference between a 2002 analysis and current analysis?

    It is a bit like the old joke about the Econ professor who gave the same final exam every year. The questions were the same but the correct answers changed every year. MSU data downloaded today differs substantially from MSU data downloaded early in 2002. The Christy/Spencer algorithms for converting the 50-60 GHertz screams of oxygen atoms into average temperatures for large blocks of the atmosphere are on approximately Version 7, with numerous changes required from the initial circa 1990 version as C/S and others discovered various errors in the algorithms.

    That conversion is a bit like making sausage or legislation — not something you want to be watching too closely.

    All of this supports the option that Lindzen was simply too busy (?) to verify that things he had written that were almost true once continued to almost true as the scientific process worked on the issue.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  136. Brian Allen:

    Jim Dukelow: Thank you very much for your response in # 134 above. I appreciate the accurate information on this.

    BA

  137. Gavin:

    I deleted some comments that got way off topic. This is not the place to debate terrorism.

  138. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #135 It is true that if you look at the upper troposphere, then there is warming especially in the Northern hemisphere where the Asian Brown cloud and other dark industrial aerosols absorb solar radiation, but even so the amount of warming is less than that predicted by the computer models. They predict that the upper troposhere should warm more than at the surface not less. The other two regions of the lower atmospher are both cooling or have not warmed. See Christy and Spencer’s site: http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/MSU/atmos_layers.html

    Other groups have calculated higher trends, as there has been a desperate struggle to prove the satellite results wrong because they contradict the models. Now that they have nearly suceeded, they are using their new results to recalibrate the readings from the radiosondes, which also disagree with the computer models. See; Sherwood et al. “Radiosonde Daytime Biases and Late-20th Century Warming ” http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1115640v1

    For an opposite POV see: Sherwood at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/08/the-tropical-lapse-rate-quandary/

  139. Jim Dukelow:

    Re #138

    Alastair McDonald writes, “They predict that the upper troposhere should warm more than at the surface not less. The other two regions of the lower atmospher are both cooling or have not warmed. See Christy and Spencer’s site: http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/MSU/atmos_layers.html

    Sigh!

    If you follow Alistair’s link, you see a schematic view of the atmosphere that has layers for lower stratosphere, upper troposphere, and lower troposphere. Somehow, Alastair gets four layers out of this, including two layers of lower atmosphere that are “both cooling or have not warmed”. The C/S graphic shows the lower atmosphere (0 to 5 miles) as showing a “slight cooling”. But current C/S data shows the same region with a fairly strong statistically significant “current trend (December 1978 to July 2006) is +0.134 deg C per decade (with an approximate 95% confidence interval from +0.11 to +0.158 deg C per decade).”

    What’s going on?

    Well, if you look at the bottom of the web page that Alastair sent us to, it says, “Last updated: July 31, 1997″.

    The C/S assertion of slight cooling up to July 1997 was not true then (although it might have been “true” according to their data as it was then). Since 1998, the assertion has been ludicrously false.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  140. John L. McCormick:

    RE #138,

    Just when I believe it is coming together in my way of thinking, a new point of view about

    [warming especially in the Northern hemisphere where the Asian Brown cloud and other dark industrial aerosols absorb solar radiation].

    I believed the aerosols in the NH atmosphere were actually (in their limited way) shielding the surface from warmer temperatures due to their albedo. At least, that is what Dr. Hansen has been offering.

    And, Mt. Pinatubo released about 10 million tons of S. Hansen calculated a radiative cooling of 4.5 W/m2 caused by 6 TG S, the amount of S that remained in the stratopshere as sulfate six months after the initial eruption (10 MM tons S.)

    Perhaps I am confusing dark from gray aerosols. Or, maybe it is warming from the surface more than from solar insolation?

  141. Hank Roberts:

    John, type “aerosol” in the Search box, top of page.
    For example, this will help: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/global-dimming-and-climate-models/#comment-11848

  142. John L. McCormick:

    Hank, thank you. That helps. And, I’ll go back to the Hansen paper. So much to understand. So little time.

  143. wayne davidson:

    There is within the last 4 years significant Upper Air warming, while using a refraction method, that is what I gathered through several hundred observations (more than 700). The method in question is a direct measurement of refraction boosts, at several z.d.’s (zenith distances). It is in my experience the best method, extremely precise and accurate of measuring mostly the lower troposphere. I am not aware of satellite techniques, but if they don’t show a significant yearly trend, then there is a disagreement. The method hopefully will be reviewed one of those days, but other key location technique replication (indepedent of me) is more important, I compared refraction boosts from year to year since 2002, at the same polar and temperate locations, both show a significant consistent warming, results should be published after peer review.

  144. pat neuman:

    re 143

    Wayne, in an earlier post I mentioned my concern that the growing world drought conditions could be related to upper air warming.

    Yesterday the government declared the northern half of Minnesota as a disaster area due to drought.

    Also,

    Besides greater warming in higher latitude areas than areas in mid or low latitudes,

    Excerpts:
    … According to general circulation models of future climate in a world with double the preindustrial carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, the rate of warming in the lower troposphere will increase with altitude. …

    … An analysis of 268 mountain station records between 1°N and 23°S along the tropical Andes indicates a temperature increase of 0.11°C/decade (compared with the global average of 0.06°C/decade) between 1939 and 1998; 8 of the 12 warmest years were recorded in the last 16 years of this period (3). Further insight can be obtained from glaciers and ice caps in the very highest mountain regions, which are strongly affected by rising temperatures. In these high-altitude areas, ice masses are declining rapidly (4-6). Indeed, glacier retreat is under way in all Andean countries, from Columbia and Venezuela to Chile (7).
    In Science 23 June 2006
    Threats to Water Supplies in the Tropical Andes

  145. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #139 I have to admit I did not realise that the figure was from 1997. If you follow the links from that page to the Lower Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere, they run until 2006, and I had assumed the figure was also up to date.

    I was trying to defend Lindzen’s claim that “satellite data showed no warming since 1979″. By averaging the results from the lower troposphere, upper troposphere, and lower stratosphere, then that seemed to be true, but it is now obvious it was only true until 1997. However, it strikes me as strange that if a scientific statement is made in 1997 then it is true, yet the same statement made to today is untrue. Will it still be true in another ten years time?

    Re #140 What the scientists, who are trying to disprove Christy & Spencer’s MSU results, dont tell you is that nearly all the warming is happening in the northern hemisphere. By averaging the results from the northern and southern hemispheres they get the result they want, but in fact neither set of results fits the models. One is too high and the other is too low! The point is that they have made up their minds that the models are correct, and so for them those results prove that their models are correct. That is why they have gone through the MSU codes with a fine tooth comb. If the MSUs were giving results too high, how long do you think it would take them to blame the Asian Brown Cloud (ABC)?

    BTW, the ABC is dark and so it absorbs solar radiation and warms, and heats the surrounding air by conduction. If we assume a fixed lapse rate, then the warming upper troposphere also leads to a warmer surface. So you get global dimming but the surface temperature still rises, although not as fast as without the dark aerosol.

    My point is that the models are wrong, but as Steve Sherwood says in http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/08/the-tropical-lapse-rate-quandary/
    “The non-warming troposphere has been a thorn in the side of climate detection and attribution efforts to date. Some have used it to question the surface record (though that argument has won few adherents within the climate community), while others have used it to deny an anthropogenic role in surface warming (an illogical argument since the atmosphere should follow no matter what causes the surface to warm). The most favored explanation has been that the “lapse rate,” or decrease in temperature as you go up in the atmosphere, has actually been increasing. This would contradict all of our climate models and would spell trouble for our understanding of the atmosphere, especially in the tropics.”

    I take that to mean that they do not want to admit, even to themselves, that their models may be wrong because it would give comfort to the sceptics.

    I have been forbidden from discussing the models here, but since my ideas have advanced since the ban, and I will not be repeating what I already wrote, I will take a chance and hope it gets past the censors :-)

    The source function used to calculate the radiation re-emitted by the greenhouse gas molecules is wrong. They are using Planck’s function for continuous black body radiation, but greenhouse gas molecules actually emit line fluorescence. The main problem is that Planck’s function depends on temperature and so provides a negative feedback as temperature rises. Fluorescence is independent of temperature, and so the warming from an increase in greenhouse gas concentration produces a stronger effect than is currently being calculated.

    In a very recent paper co-authored by Ray it states “We nevertheless still do not succeed in simulating warm enough polar temperatures and a definitive theory still waits for an integrated approach explicitly accounting for each factor influencing the thermal gradient (ocean dynamics, stratospheric clouds, and vegetation).” In other words the current models do not work!

    See: “Modelling the primary control of paleogeography on Cretaceous climate” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 248, Issues 1-2, 15 August 2006, Pages 411-422
    Y. Donnadieu, R. Pierrehumbert, R. Jacob and F. Fluteau
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=GatewayURL&_method=citationSearch&_uoikey=B6V61-4KCGJ25-2&_origin=SDEMFRASCII&_version=1&md5=bbd3ee3b6aa2eea7c43d9d1f22f78356

    In another paper, co-authored by Gavin, the abstract concludes “However, neither the GISS-S nor the HadCM3 models are able to reproduce the observed temperature changes, suggesting that this explanation for the impact of the inclusion of a atratosphere in the model may be incomplete.” In other words, two GCMs do not reproduce the climate correctly.

    See: Gillett, N.P. et al. “How linear is the Arctic Oscillation response to greenhouse gases?” JGR vol. 107, NO. D3, 10.1029/2001JD000589, 2002
    http://climate.uvic.ca/people/gillett/publications/ps/gcm_aochange.pdf

    HTH,

    Cheers, Alastair.

  146. Dan:

    re: 145. Rather than drawing assumptions, I would certainly defer a reply to the authors of “How linear is the Arctic Oscillation response to greenhouse gases?”, as should you unless you intend to publish your commments in a peer-reviewed journal in response. However, their saying “However, neither the GISS-S nor the HadCM3 models are able to reproduce the observed temperature changes, suggesting that this explanation for the impact of the inclusion of a atratosphere in the model may be incomplete.”, does not in any way mean the GCMs do not reproduce the climate correctly! “Incomplete” does not equate to “incorrect”.

  147. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #146 There seems little chance of my ideas being published since they are diametrically opposed to current thinking – no computer modeller, who would inevitably be the peer reviewer since any other scientist would not feel competent to comment, is likely to give my paper a (fair) reading. I have submited a paper once, and it did not get past the editor!

    You are right about incomplete not equating to incorrect. Incorrect does not mean incomplete, but incomplete does mean it is incorrect.

  148. Dan:

    There are many peer-reviewed journals where you can submit legitimate comments. Perhaps the issue is that you are a layman questioning the expertise of thousands of climate modeling experts around the world? The idea that a layman knows more or thought of something that these experts did not is more than just a bit arrogant.

    And no, incomplete does not mean incorrect.

  149. Jim Dukelow:

    Re #145

    Alistair McDonald wrote: “However, it strikes me as strange that if a scientific statement is made in 1997 then it is true, yet the same statement made to today is untrue. Will it still be true in another ten years time?”

    I tried to explain why this is the case. The C/S algorithm for converting the temperature-dependent GHertz emissions of oxygen atoms into temperature anomalies is so complicated and fraught with uncertainties that it has been significantly revised about a half-dozen times. Thus, the temperature anomalies for the lower troposphere that you got if you downloaded data from the MSU site in 2001 or 2002 are substanitially different from the anomalies you get if you download the “same” data today. These changes in the data arose as Christy and Spencer have responded to a number of errors in their algorithm, a few that they identified themselves, but most identified by other scientists looking at their raw data and at the algorithm.

    It is also the case that the July 1997 assertion about the temperature trend in the lower troposphere is false, whether you use the 2002 data or the current data. I don’t have the July 1997 MSU data, so I can’t assess whether it was a “false” statement at the time it was made.

    Since the topic of this thread is how misleading talking points propagate, I will assert that most of what is said and written on the right about the MSU data is not only misleading, it is outright false.

    Alistair’s point about the Southern and Northern Hemisphere’s is interesting. Using the current MSU data, the SH has a statistically significant positive trend of 0.5866 deg C per decade with s.d. of 0.01298.
    The NH trend is a statistically significantly positive 0.21039 with s.d. of 0.1485.

    It should not be too surprising that the trends are different, because the hemispheres are very different. The SH is primarily the Southern Ocean and a high altitude ice-covered polar region that is essentially isolated from the rest of the hemisphere by a strong polar vortex. The NH is primarily land, with a polar region that is mixed water and ice and provides a strong albedo positive feedback to temperature increases. Because the polar air is so dry, GCMs uniformly predict stronger greenhouse gas warming in the northern high latitudes, which we see strongly confirmed in the surface temperature records, in the MSU data, and in effects on the ground that are reshaping the lives of inhabitants of the northern polar regions.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  150. Jim Dukelow:

    Re #145

    Alistair McDonald wrote: “I was trying to defend Lindzen’s claim that ‘satellite data showed no warming since 1979′. By averaging the results from the lower troposphere, upper troposphere, and lower stratosphere, then that seemed to be true, but it is now obvious it was only true until 1997.”

    I am puzzled why Alistair would want to average together temperature trends for the troposphere and the stratosphere and think that he had established anything useful.

    GCMs predict cooling of the stratosphere as a consequence of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. On top of that, there is the additional anthropogenic cooling of the stratosphere due to buildup of CFCs and the resulting loss of stratospheric ozone. So we have strong anthropogenic cooling in the stratosphere and anthropogenic warming in the troposphere, but we can’t average them together and say that nothing’s happening.

    The simplest course is to simply recognize that Lindzen’s recent statements about satellite data are false and ask him whether he was aware they were false when he made them.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  151. JohnLopresti:

    I wonder if anyone has seen the July 28, 2006 issue of Science article reporting on a study of 3He and terrestrial dust particles in EPICA during timeframe 6-28 K-years. An announcement appears on the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory website; the alert is titled “Cosmic Dust in Ice Cores Sheds Light on Earth’s Past Climate”, there. Although the announcement divulges very little, I imagine the actual article in Science might have some content interesting to RC authors and readers.

  152. Hank Roberts:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/17/washington/17wire-tobacco.html?ei=5094&en=2aa8667eeeb4b036&hp=&ex=1155873600&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print

    “WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge ordered tobacco companies Thursday to admit they lied about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes and to warn consumers in advertisements and packaging that tobacco is addictive.

    “U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the industry conspired for decades to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking and now must pay to help smokers kick the habit.

    “Sharon Eubanks, who recently stepped down as the head of the government’s tobacco team said of the cigarette makers, “This is the first time they’ve been found to violate the racketeering statute. For crying out loud that’s significant. They’re racketeers.”