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Followup to the ‘Hockeystick’ Hearings

Filed under: — group @ 31 August 2006

The House Energy and Commerce committee held two hearings on the “Hockey Stick” and associated “Wegman Report” in July. We commented on the first of the two hearings previously. The hearings, while ostensibly concerning the studies of Mann and coworkers, were actually most remarkable for the (near) unanimity of the participating scientists on critical key points, such as the importance of confronting the issue of climate change, and the apparent acceptance of those points by the majority of congresspersons present.

The committee subsequently provided followup opportunities to participants to clarify issues that were discussed at the hearings. Mike Mann (Penn State Professor and RealClimate blogger) participated in the second (July 27 2006) of the two hearings, “Questions Surrounding the ‘Hockey Stick’ Temperature Studies: Implications for Climate Change Assessments”. He has posted his responses to five follow-up questions, along with supporting documents. Among the more interesting of these documents are a letter and a series of email requests from emeritus Stanford Physics Professor David Ritson who has identified significant apparent problems with the calculations contained in the Wegman report, but curiously has been unable to obtain any clarification from Dr. Wegman or his co-authors in response to his inquiries. We hope that Dr. Wegman and his co-authors will soon display a willingness to practice the principle of ‘openness’ that they so recommend in their report….

Update: There is an interesting discussion of the Wegman and North reports by Gerald North (talking at TAMU) available through Andrew Dessler’s site….

94 Responses to “Followup to the ‘Hockeystick’ Hearings”

  1. 51 says:

    @43, 44, 45

    16 August 2006
    BERKELEY � A new University of California, Berkeley, report to be delivered to state legislators today (Wednesday, Aug. 16) finds that returning California greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as envisioned by pending global warming legislation, can boost the annual Gross State Product (GSP) by $60 billion and create 17,000 new jobs by 2020.


  2. 52
    ike solem says:

    This comment is a little off topic, but it is relevant to the issue of open presentation of scientific results. If other areas of science were subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as a number of climate scientists have been, you’d see massive protests from the involved parties – in paticular, the pharmaceutical industry:

    WHO To Propose International Drug Trial Database

    So, does climate model source code fall under the definition of ‘proprietary information’? Does Microsoft Windows source code?

    My point is that the climate science community seems far more open to exchange of data and methods than many other areas of scientific inquiry; these attacks on individual scientists really seem like politically motivated cheap shots. Still, It never hurts to keep backup copies of all notebooks and data in a separate and safe location, just in case this kind of thing happens (or a fire, for that matter).

  3. 53
    Wacki says:

    ugh………….. subsidized grain ethanol

    a.k.a. recycled coal. Khosla and Wang are not exactly the most trustworthy people IMO. This will be remembered as one of the greatest boondoggles ever.

  4. 54
    Gar Lipow says:

    >And perhaps we could teach the Chinese to practice better economic science, namely by desubsidizing fossil fuels. IIRC China subsidizes electricity and gasoline more than the US does.

    To some extent. But it is also true that efficiency and renewables tend to be capital intensive. For poor nations in general with limited access to capital and huge availablilty of cheap labor renewables are not automatically the least expensive road to development. (China counts as a poor nation; even though it has a huge economy, it is not that large on a per person basis.)

    The rich nations mostly got that way by, among other things, using cheap fossil fuels to get there. We have more than used all the atmospheric space that can safely be used for economic development. But no poor nation wants to stay poor. If we want poor nations to take a more capital intensive renewable path to develpment, we are going to have to compensate them for not using fossil fuels.

    Here is the bottom line. The rich nations still produce most of the world greenhouse gas emissions. But we can expect that to change as the poor nations catch up. Neither the rich nations nor the poor nations can unilaterally stop global warming. Ultimately we are going to need to strike a deal – one where the rich nations bargain with the poor nations as equals, rather than simply defining terms they can sign up for. Because once the reality of what solving global warming requires is truly accepted both sides have equal leverage. That is one of the reasons you face such political resistance. Most rich nations have accepted the reality that human caused global warming exists; a few like the U.S. have not even gotten that far. But the reality has not been absorbed by almost any rich nation is that we will have to bargain in good faith with poor ones. Poor nations are not going to make the capital investments renewables and efficiency improvements require at the expense of their other capital requirements. A renewable and efficiency path to development on the part of poor nations will have to be subsidized by rich ones.

    This is not just a matter of bargaining power but of justice. We took the fossil fuel path to development, and saturated the atmospheric carbon sinks to such an extent they are no longer safely available for other nations to do the same. We in the rich nations ruined the bathroom in the flat we share with the poor ones. The rent just came due; since the damage is our fault, it is only fair that we pay for repairs.

  5. 55
    Mark A. York says:

    I haven’t read the thread so pardon me if this has been discussed already.

    Lindgren a law prof at Northwestern, described you guys as “those who accept the orthodox view of manmade global warming.” As if there is another legitimate scientific view. Free speech is a problem when lies replace reality. It’s a serious flaw in the soup.

  6. 56
    Robin Johnson says:

    Re #50: Sorry. I wondered if it was just a “term of art” in the climate science community. So if I offended anyone with my laughter, I sincerely apologize. But trust me, say it to folks in the broader software industry and you’ll get sniggers.

    Re #52: Um… I’m not sure I understand your point exactly but let’s presume I do. Climate scientists are researchers not commerical interests – so I don’t think that analogy should be applied necessarily. But I’ll address the point anyway. I think drug companies should darn well reveal the results of all the drug trials – health and safety are clearly at risk.

    With regards to the broader issue of source code, having reviewed a lot of code and systems under “non-disclosure agreements” – there is very little for most companies to hide other than mistakes. The business management of most companies think their code is so special because they don’t understand it and paid tons of money for it. Microsoft included. Most of the complaints about Microsoft with regards to source code are that they are “cheating” by publishing one version of the API for the industry to use while using hidden features of the API in their competing products. Since Microsoft is a monopoly (legitimately gained in my view), they cannot do that. In fact, the European Union has ruled that they must reveal their source code (under an expensive licensing scheme but nevermind the merits of that) to address such concerns. What separates Microsoft from its competitors, in my view, was not that its source was secret or that they were cheating – but its marketing efforts with the development community and the quantity and quality of the features it offered to business and consumer users at very low prices. The competitors so highly valued their code – they always tried to stick it to the buyers.

    In the particular area of climate models, my view is that the source code is part of the scientific product – and hence should be subject public (read “scientific”) review. Claims about secrecy of “sources and methods” should be left to the National Security apparatus – and even then those are often specious. Critics will attack with anything at hand and will just make stuff up if they can’t find anything real. My point was that the climate science community would benefit by producing better models by adopting such practices. Also maybe I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that a lot of climate research is either directly or indirectly publicly funded. It would seem the public should be entitled to that information – just like genetic research, etc.

    Some further points about software, replicating software is timeconsuming, difficult and very expensive. Many applications took literally thousands of engineering and testing hours to produce them and the codebases are often over 1 million lines of code (not counting third party and operating system libraries). Many exceed 10 million lines. This is why elite software engineers and computer scientists spend a lot of time sharing their expertise with others in forums, with coworkers, friends and in the form of open source software. Example Apache Web Servers. Try replicating that in a few weeks.

    I’m not certain about the complexity (in terms of the number of function points, housekeeping and readability compromises for efficiency required) to create climate model software, but I can certainly appreciate the data management and combinatorics problems present in such software. So maybe its just a few thousand lines of very elegant, clever code. Either way, complex or just clever – that might be hard to replicate quickly. As I said earlier, I think replication should be done without using the original source code – but the original source code should be available for inspection as a guide to the complexity or cleverness of the effort required – just like the data and algorithms.

    It would seem that if the community built and maintained one to five open source climate simulators with hooks for researchers add their own special equations – research would race ahead instead of every research team having to build its own software from scratch. Since it would be open source, researchers would be free to tweak or use the model as they wished and submit proposed improvements and “features” to the model maintainers. But maybe I’m just a silly dreamer with oatmeal for brains.

    PS My degree was in Mathematics and the first complex program I ever wrote (in 1979) was an implementation of the Simplex Algorithm to test various stupid theories I had about Hamiltonian Circuits – so I came to software from the math/science interest side of the house even though I mostly manage, design and write clinical software in the healthcare IT industry these days. Although apparently I turned out to be more successful at desiging and writing software than being a mathematician.

    [Response: Climate model code is probably not as complicated as you think (a few hundred thousand lines), but it is legacy code. You can see the public version of our code at – though it’s availability hasn’t really aided in it’s development or in error checking. It takes a while to appreciate these things and so it only tends to be done by people who are being paid to do so. It would be great if there could be an ‘open source’ climate model project, but it doesn’t exist. NCAR CCSM3 is maybe the closest since it has a significant amount of outside input, but the project is very much run by the inside teams. – gavin]

  7. 57
    Steve Bloom says:

    Say, how come all the OT stuff on this thread? Surely nobody’s gotten *bored* with the Hockey Stick… :)

    Re #53: Wacki, I went over the text with a fine tooth comb when it first came out, as did lots of other CA environmental leaders. I think the common attitude was very much to suspect and look for flaws based on widely-held suspicions of Khosla. He will certainly benefit from it, but only in the same way anyone active in alternative/renewable energy investments would. The measure is not perfect, and in particular there are concerns that it would have a short-term tilt in favor of natural gas vehicles, but pretty much everyone in the environmental community has decided it’s endorsable.

  8. 58

    Re #54 — no way the rich nations are going to agree to any “bargain” involving them giving away a substantial portion of their wealth. The poor nations are going to have to become rich under their own steam. “Justice” plays no role in actual international relations, partly because it’s so hard to get anyone at all to agree on what “justice” means.


  9. 59
    John L. McCormick says:

    Barton, you and Gar and probably correct, for different reasons.

    Globalization, WTO and GATT should be tools available to correct injustices that go beyond actual trade but they are limited to leveling the commerce playing field.

    IMF and World Bank have capital but credit worthiness and loan terms limit expenditures in efficiency and decarbonized energy development for developing nation borrowers.

    The Global Environment Fund needs a great deal more funds to help it play a more active role in shifting developing and poor nations’ energy paths towards low carbon-no carbon energy investments. And, the recipient nations must have intellectual, economic and legal infrastructure to encourage western world investments in efficiency and renewable energy choices. That is beginning to take shape at a pace far too slow to do much good for AGW mitigation.

    The AGW victims of drought, floods and salt-water intrusion are slowly beginning to organize their complaints and demands within the FCCC and the U.N. Maldives, Tuvalu and other populated, at-sea-level islands are planning their eventual evacuations. Bangladesh and Northern Indian populations will slowly move inland where overcrowding and access to topsoil will create insurmountable internal problems.

    China and India are rapidly expanding middle and upper class populations and these are heavy hitters in their government’s growth planning. Will these 21st century capitalists realize, in time, their investments are worthless without national stability among their 2.5 billion countrymen?

    AGW refugees, in America, (the Katrina victims) are just now being recognized as permanently dislocated persons and communities and State budgets are struggling to accommodate their needs. In the coming decades there will likely be legions of displaced victims of floods and hurricanes crowding into interior cities and towns. The US government is learning the cost of not coordinating victim relocation and host cities that send elected representatives to Congress will demand, in the future, a lot more money and help. These are the realities developing and poor nations will face on scales hundreds of times greater than the US has.

    Truth is the world of nations have run out of time to level off at 450 ppm so we will individually watch how disasters play out while an undercurrent of discontent among the masses grows into outrage and demand that their interests be protected. That is when adaptive measures will be as important (and initially most important) to help the victim countries maintain some order of civility internally and at their borders.

    I see decades of fumbling and stumbling followed by centuries of adapting while survivor nations finally realize this planet cannot be governed only by capitalism and nationalism. And our children will awaken their potential to develop and mass-produce technological and adaptive means to survive.

    Americaâ??s post-dust bowl experience of the 1930s offers a few mini-lessons; humans can endure a great deal of suffering but they will do whatever it takes to survive. Chinese and Indians have a longer history of survival. Maybe this is naïve, but I count on their instincts to cause them, in time, to act in their survival interests. We can only pray they will use means that are just.

  10. 60
    Grant says:

    Re: #58

    “Justice” plays no role in actual international relations…

    For the most part, I agree, but not *entirely*. A lot depends on who the leaders are. When we have a U.S. president like we have now, it’s all too easy to believe that *nobody* will do anything but serve himself.

    But I remember a guy named Jimmy Carter. He proved that you *can* make justice (for its own sake!) part of your foreign policy. He also proved that it’s damn hard, and you’ll probably be ridiculed for it.

    But it’s worth it.

  11. 61
    Chin Man Kam says:

    Let’s leave who was the best president on foreign policy out of this thread or we can end up digressing quickly.

  12. 62
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE #61 Amen.

  13. 63
    Wacki says:

    Re #57 steve bloom:

    “Re #53: Wacki, I went over the text with a fine tooth comb when it first came out, as did lots of other CA environmental leaders. ….. but pretty much everyone in the environmental community has decided it’s endorsable.”

    I’m sorry, after reading Robert Rapiers blog, the responses at the oildrum, and looking at the papers myself I simply can’t agree. [edit] Khosla’s ethanol project will only divert funds from legitimate alternative projects. He is harming this country’s energy future and harming the fight against global warming. He has used every single tactic in the book to divert attention from the real problem and he will get rich off of this. So if “everyone in the environmental community” endorses his behavior then you must be talking to feel-good-hippies that simply don’t know what they are talking about.

    This is Khosla & Wang on his “best day”:

    Read my response as well. It’s the first in the list. Keep in mind that is on his best day and their behavior only seems to get more deceptive than that. [edit] Is prop 87 as a whole endorsable? We could debate that all day. Is Khosla’s behavior endorsable? Not a chance in hell. Does Khosla believe he’s doing the right thing? Well, if he does he needs medication.

    [Response: This is both off topic and verging into personalities. No more on this please. -gavin]

  14. 64
    Grant says:

    Re: #61, #62

    OK, let’s leave the “best president” out of the discussion. But let’s not forget the *point* I was making: it is possible for ethics (for its own sake) to be a motive in foreign policy, in the *real world*. I’ve seen it happen (albeit, pathetically rarely).

  15. 65
    Gar Lipow says:

    >Re #54 — no way the rich nations are going to agree to any “bargain” involving them giving away a substantial portion of their wealth. The poor nations are going to have to become rich under their own steam. “Justice” plays no role in actual international relations, partly because it’s so hard to get anyone at all to agree on what “justice” means.

    Which is why the first part of the post demonstrated the practical neccesity of rich nations paying poor nations to reduce emissions. (In fact the Kyoto treaty cap n’ trade for all its flaws is an explicit acknowledgement of this.) But the point is treaties need political support. By demonstrating that paying poor nations to cut emissions is fair, and not giving in to a form of extortion, we make what is practically neccesary easier to win politically.

  16. 66
    Mark Shapiro says:

    A quick thought on the justice thread.

    Justice is the most important aspect of AGW.

    Our atmosphere and the climate that it creates are global. It is a commons. And as a CO2 sink, IMHO it is basically used up. But since there is only one atmosphere, our vast AGW experiment is uncontrolled, unscientific, and not repeatable. So how can we convince enough world leaders of this risk? What is the role of climate scientists and the rest of us? I agree with John L M that we are creating AGW refugees worldwide, but can we prove or quantify it?

    And I absolutely agree with Gar L’s point that efficiency and renewables are capital intensive. All the more reason to end subsidies on fossil fuels, so that clean alternatives are deployed, and improved, faster.

  17. 67
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    Models indicate that CO2 warming will cause further warming mostly through water vapor feedback. CO2 sinking is virtually unlimited in the long run, so in the short run the commons is more properly described as a warming commons or a modeled warming commons. The political situation (at least in the U.S.) will favor the CO2 commons argument once CO2 is no longer seen as a proxy for wealth.

  18. 68
    Gar Lipow says:

    >All the more reason to end subsidies on fossil fuels, so that clean alternatives are deployed, and improved, faster.

    Oh absolutely. Definitely one of the many things that needs to be done.

  19. 69
    Mark A. York says:

    Gavin can you comment on this:

    It seems deniers are trotting “this” out as the legitimate real climate scientist. It’s a damn shame fakery can’t be characterized as it is: a mining consultant with political ties.

  20. 70
    Robin Johnson says:

    Re#56: Thanks Gavin. Checking it out… One of my hobbies is well… er… programming.

  21. 71
    Pete Best says:

    Re #44 and #46.

    Please then give me your accounts of existing technology that can replace around 65% of current fossil fuel use in order to mitigate climate change? This is how I see it at the present time.

    First off is the scale of the issue, 2,500 equivilent barrels of Oil burned every second or some 75 billion barrels per annum and set to reach rise to some 120 billion barrels per annum by 2050 I believe.

    Nuclear Fission is the current replacement offering being touted by the policitians in the UK (and elsewhere I believe). Uranium stocks are around 60 years worth globally I believe. Extracting more is a fossil fuels intensive process I believe and environmentally unfriendly to boot. Building the stations takes 15 years before they come online and is fossil fuel intensive. CO2 nuetral once running apparantly. Decomissioning is a major issue and requires fossil fuels.

    Renewables could do some but where is the will to let renewables replace fossil fuels. Without Government legislation worldwide it aint gonna win out in time anyways.

    Microwind couple with pholtovoltaic and solar is an option but it massively decentralises electricity and hot water production and cannot be the whole answer.

    Big wind can fill in some of the gaps of the above solution but can it replace fossil fuels? NOt for driving vehicles and aviation it cannot.

    Cellular ethenol could be an answer to the aviation and transport issue but even if it was when could it come online for 1 billion vehicles and x thousand aircraft? 40 years time maybe for full ff replacement.

    Energy efficiency gains could be an answer in some ways but without massive subsidy it will not penetrate enough into the market in the timeline required do help avert serious AGW.

    Clean up fossil fuels to pollute less, sequester carbon into the ground and forget about it. Maybe but it needs to be in a time frame that can work across the globe.

    The USA emits 5 tonnes per head of capita, Europe 3 tonnes per head, China 1 tonne and India 0.5. Its a lot to turn around to my mind and nigh on impossible at present especially as the politics of the world are currently set. FF’s have a working infrastructure that is currently working.

  22. 72
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Re: 71

    I’ll see your hand-wringing and lower your prospects: over the week-end I read a couple of reports of a strain of super TB that has shown up in two disparate regions (Latvia and tropical Africa). It exhibits something like 97% mortality. And possibly 100% if the single survivor has died since the story ran. It us totally resistant to all anti-biotics and kills in weeks.

    We just might buck this energy consumption problem the old fashioned Malthusian way: by reducing the demand to nil.

  23. 73
    Pete Best says:

    Re #71 – Sorry but what you saying does not make any sense to me in regard to my previous post on a soltuion available to us now to resolve avoiding serious AGW

  24. 74
    Florian Boehm says:

    Re: Question No. 5. Should all scientific papers be withheld from publication until the results are independently replicated?

    These hearings clearly show a fundamental misunderstanding of many politicians how science works. Not everything that is printed is true just because its printed. Peer review can only be a first quality control. It must not be degraded to censorship. Only after a hypothesis has been published other scientists all around the world can start to try and reproduce or falsify the hypothesis.
    Transfering the ideas behind question #5 to politics: Should everything a politician says be withheld from the public until its truthfulness has been independently verified?
    (To get my point of view straight, my answer to both questions is NO!).

  25. 75

    RE #74 I must diasagree strongly with your answer to the the second question. I cannot think of a better way to silence politicians than to insist that what they say is independently verified :-)

  26. 76
    Peter Winters says:

    A couple of my friends/colleagues have been persuaded by Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” to believe global warming to be an unproven theory. I am concerned that quite a few people have been similarly influenced!

    Consequently, a couple of months ago, I decided to articulate why I thought him to be a “master story teller but a misleading scientist”. I found your site extremely useful as resource. In case you are interested, my (overly long) piece is posted at …

    Keep up your excellent work!


  27. 77
    mark schneeweiss says:

    Re #72 i think i big dose of the Black Death would work too… its all the rage apparently(!), a quick burst of ring-a-ring of roses anyone?

    Hooray for global pandemics – cough up and save the planet!

  28. 78

    Re #77 and “Re #72 i think i big dose of the Black Death would work too… its all the rage apparently(!), a quick burst of ring-a-ring of roses anyone?
    Hooray for global pandemics – cough up and save the planet!”

    As an environmentalist, I want a clean environment in order to benefit myself and other humans. A clean environment with everybody dead would be no use to anyone.

    [Response: That’s enough on this. -gavin]

  29. 79
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Re: 73,77,78 and Gavin’s comment

    I’m sorry if my broad tone gave the impression that I was rooting for the current horrifying strain of TB to solve our climate problem for us.

  30. 80
    John L. McCormick says:

    Re: #78 [Response: That’s enough on this. -gavin]

    Gavin, we cannot expect you and your team to scrub all the trash and offensive comments that appear such as that in #77. Stuff happens.

    Thanks for blocking the garbage whenever you had the opportunity.

    One would hope that mark schneeweiss would feel some ounce of shame. Those of us who try to contribute worthy comments want to heap a ton of shame on him.

    What is self respect worth anymore?

  31. 81
    mark schneeweiss says:

    sorry guys, point taken

  32. 82
    mark schneeweiss says:

    Although it was an oblique reference to the recently reported increased probability of epidemics of, amongst others, the bubonic plague, as a consequence of climate change.

    It was obscure, and rather pointlessly ironic. Sorry for cluttering things up.

    I would have apologised before John, but I was heeding Gavins polite suggestion!

  33. 83
    Grant says:

    Re: #81, #82

    I’d like to offer my compliments to Mark Schneeweiss. First of all, his comment was perhaps a bit off-color, but only slightly so. His willingness to admit that he went a little overboard argues far more strongly that he has a good attitude and perspective.

    Every one of us has, at some time, made a comment that was later regretted. Very few of us have the courage to own up to it.

  34. 84
    John McCormick says:

    RE #83 I want to second your comment to Mark. Lots of work to be done. So little time.

  35. 85
    Anon says:

    Not sure where to post this question. What future changes in the earth’s temperature would indicate that currently held theories of the relationship between anthropogenic greenhouse gases and the the earth’s climate are incorrect?

    [Response: Since GHGs are just one of the forcings (although a big part), the question is maybe better stated as how much temperatures (and ocean heat content, and sea ice etc.) would need to diverge from the forced trajectory (including aerosols, solar, volcanic etc.) before it would be obvious that either we were missing large forcings or that our estimates of climate sensitivity were way off. Current rates of warming are around 0.18 deg C/decade, and just off the top of my head these would probably need to either fall to zero (without there having been any large volcanic eruptions for instance) or increase to maybe twice that in the next couple of decades to cause a substantial problem. You could do a proper analysis of this taking into account the variaous uncertainties – and that might actually be quite interesting, but my guess probably serves as a reasonable approximation. I’m open to corrections though. – gavin]

  36. 86

    Re #85 Gavin, your response is a very fair answer, but not I feel very convincing. The reason is that there is an implied suggestion in the the question which I feel you have not addressed.

    Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Anon,

    You seem to be implying that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is an unproven theroy, and so to be scientifically valid there must exist experiments which can be performed which could disprove it. My point is that these experiments have already been performed, the theory has not been disproved, and it is now part of science.

    It is as difficult to think of a realistic experiment where gravity did not apply, as it is to think of a similar experiment for the greenhouse effect. However, if a planet was found where the laws of gravity differed from those here on earth, then we would have to modify Newtons Laws just as was done in the case of Mercury.

    Similarly, if a planet was found that had an atmosphere containing greenhouse gases, yet it surface was cooler than that of its effective temperature, then that too would mean that we would have to modify our understanding of the greenhouse effect.

    Interestingly, a mission has just been launched which will “focus on the major unknowns and on the observed properties of Venus that are known but difficult to explain, like the high surface temperature.” [Taylor, F. W. (2006) “Venus before Venus Express”, Planetary and Space Science, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2006.04.031]

    So rather than assuming that AGW is unproven, and that we need not fear for the future, the answer is the opposite. We know that global warming is happening, but it will be worse than currently predicted if our mis-calculations for Venus are a guide!

  37. 87
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    Anon, greenhouse warming is not an unproven theory. On the other hand, runaway greenhouse warming is. The warming from CO2 alone will be another degree C or so. There have been many postings here suggesting otherwise, but mostly qualitative and quite theoretical. The rest of the warming will come from increases in water vapor. As I have tried to point out many times, the “proof” of global warming (or not) will come when the GCM models match reality. That is not far off, about a decade or two at the most. For example in number 3088067 and other abstracts in there are numerous suggestions for improving the models to match reality, mostly by increasing the temporal and spatial resolution (e.g. 9626486).

    So the answers aren’t too far off and the bonus is that the models will also reveal the most cost effective way to mitigate any detrimental climate changes.

  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yes, but we can already say that the most cost-effective way to deal with the problem was to begin doing so about fifteen years ago.

    Throttling the cause is always more cost-effective than chasing down the effects.

    See also the history of lead, mercury, tobacco, nuclear weapons ….

  39. 89
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    True, but that was 15 years ago and might not apply now. The models can (or will) tell exactly how much warming is built into the system, how much can be deferred with CO2 reductions and how much can be mitigated with other changes. I think there is great willingness to explore alternative solutions, I would just like to see them connected to the models as those become more able to handle the details.

  40. 90
    Hank Roberts says:

    This already was refuted by the modelers in prior discussions. It’s just an argument to delay action — asking for more study and more precision than needed.

    Yes, there are advocates on all sides for nonsense. But the simple, easy, and economically rewarding choices that can be made immediately aren’t in need of more study.
    Nobody’s supporting that position in the sciences — it’s an argument from the lobbyists. Why trust them? Why repeat their talking points?

  41. 91
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 85

    I too show around 0.18 deg C/decade for the rate of global warming (1980-2006). Before 1980 I show 0.036 deg C/decade (1880-1979) – assuming ‘variability’ for the small bump in the 2nd quartile of the 20th century. I can see how aerosols in the stratophere could inhibit radiation but I doubt that aerosols in the troposphere explain what some see as cooling after the 2nd quartile bump in the 20th century.

  42. 92
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    I can’t deny that the lobbyists have turned my argument into a talking point, but the scientists are certainly not in agreement about the degree of warming and amount of CO2 reductions needed. I can take advantage of that disagreement and point out that the models, getting ever better, will converge on water vapor feedback in the not-too-distant future. That the water vapor (weather) is key is undeniable. What is evident from the other thread is that modelers do not have an agreed-upon method of modeling weather variability and producing weather fidelity.

    What was quite noticable on the “short and simple arguments why climate can be predicted” thread is that the modelers all agree that they are great at modeling things that don’t matter such as the long term cycles that are all irrelevant to the current AGW scenario. Then they talk about “uncertainties” involving clouds which is a rather limiting description of the weather uncertainties. Weather (as far as climate models are concerned) is the main mechanism by which water vapor becomes more distributed. The water vapor must be less distributed to cause warming. In essence there is a bias against warming whenever weather is oversimplified. There may be other offsetting biases in clouds since more distributed water vapor would cause more cloudiness in general. But before those inevitable increases in water vapor accuracy we can’t get an accurate enough idea of its warming IMO.

  43. 93
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 92.

    Eric (skeptic),

    It is true that increasing water vapor is an inevitable global warming feedback. My 2003 study on earlier snowmelt and increasing dewpoints gave evidence that dewpoints are increasing in the Midwest and Northern Great Plains.

    Besides that, it’s quite obvious that the melt water from glaciers and polar ice, and permafrost thawing, will contribute heavily to the amount of water in the atmosphere – enhancing global warming tremendously.

    I’m unsure of what you meant by this [they are great at modeling things that don’t matter such as the long term cycles that are all irrelevant to the current AGW scenario.]

  44. 94

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