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Inhofe’s last stand

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 December 2006

Part of me felt a little nostalgic yesterday watching the last Senate hearing on climate change that will be chaired by Sen. James Inhofe. It all felt very familiar and comforting in some strange way. There was the well-spoken ‘expert’ flown in from Australia (no-one available a little closer to home?), the media ‘expert’ from the think tank (plenty of those about) and a rather out-of-place geologist. There were the same talking points (CO2 leads the warming during the ice ages! the Medieval Warm Period was warm! it’s all a hoax!*) that are always brought up. These easy certainties and predictable responses are so well worn that they feel like a pair of old slippers.

Of course, my bout of nostalgia has nothing to do with whether this was a useful thing for the Senate to be doing (it wasn’t), and whether it just provided distracting political theatre (yup) in lieu of serious discussion about effective policy response, but even we should sometimes admit that it is easier to debunk this kind of schoolyard rhetoric than it is to deal with the complexities that actually matter. The supposed subject of discussion was ‘Climate Change in the Media’ though no-one thought to question why the Senate was so concerned with the media representations (Andy Revkin makes some good points about it though here). Senators have much more effective means of getting relevant information (knowledgable staffers, National Academy of Science reports, the presidential office of Science and Technology etc.) and so this concern was concievably related to their concern with public understanding of science….. or not.

Naomi Oreskes did a good job on the context and provided useful rebuttal to a frankly ridiculous claim that contrarians were not getting any air time on the networks. One point she could have raised was that when Patrick Michaels made the same complaint to CNN – that their climate news stories weren’t ‘balanced’ – a quick scan of their interviewee lists revealed that the scientist most frequently on CNN …. was none other than Michaels himself. A result somewhat at odds with his standing in the community or expertise, but ample evidence for the ‘false balance‘ often decried here.

As for the scientific content, with the sole exception of Dan Schrag’s statements, it was a textbook example of abuse of science. Two exchanges summed it up for me. In the first, Bob Carter insisted that CO2 always follows temperature for the ice age cycles (which are paced by the variations in the Earth’s orbit and for which CO2 is a necessary feedback) and seasonal cycle (related mainly to Northern hemisphere deciduous trees) . Both statements are true as far as they go – but they don’t go very far. Was Carter suggesting that the 30% increase in CO2 decreased after 1940? or that it has stopped increasing in recent years (since he appears to also believe that global warming stopped in 1998?). As an aside by his criteria it also stopped in 1973, 1983 and 1990…. only it didn’t. Of course, if this wasn’t what he meant to imply (because it’s demonstrably false), why did he bring the whole subject up at all? Surely not simply to muddy the waters….

The second great example was Carter making an appeal to authority (using NASA and the Russian Academy of Science) for his contention that world is likely to cool in coming decades. Of course scientists at NASA are at the forefront of studies of anthropogenic climate change so a similar authority would presumably apply to them, and the Russian Academy was one of 11 that called on the G8 to take climate change seriously, but let’s gloss over that inconsistency. The nuggets of science Carter was referring to are predictions for the next couple of solar cycles – a tricky business in fact, and one in which there is a substantial uncertainty. However, regardless of that uncertainty, NASA scientists have definitively not predicted that this will cause an absolute cooling – at best, it might reduce the ongoing global warming slightly (which would be good) (though see here for what they actually said). Two Russians scientists have indeed made such a ‘cooling’ prediction though, but curiously only in a press report rather than in any peer-reviewed paper, and clearly did not speak for the Academy in doing so, but never mind that. Of course, if Carter seriously thought that global cooling was likely, he should be keen to take up some of James Annan’s or Brian Schmidt’s attractive offers – but like the vast majority of ‘global coolers’, his money does not appear to be where his mouth is. It’s all classic contrarian stuff.

With the new Senate coming in January, it seems likely that this kind of disinformational hearing will become less common and more climate policy-related hearings will occur instead. These won’t provide as much fodder for us to debunk, but they might serve the much more useful function of actually helping craft appropriate policy responses.

Ah… truly the end of an age.

* If needed, the easy rebuttals to these talking points are available here, here and here


221 Responses to “Inhofe’s last stand”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/ccstudies/
    Carbon cycle and the oceans, current research

  2. 52
    Jim Crabtree says:

    for #39 (hugh)

    If someones like posion ivy, it responds well to increased CO2. See June 13 Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Researchers at Duke University saw this occur in a pine forest they increased the CO2 into a few years back.

    For what happens with grain crops: http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Grain/2006.htm

    “Perhaps the most dangerous threat to future food security is the rise in temperature. Among crop ecologists there is now a consensus that for each temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius above the historical average during the growing season, we can expect a 10 percent decline in grain yields. When describing weather-reduced harvests, crop analysts often refer to the crop prospect when weather returns to normal. They fail to realize that with the earthâ��s climate now in flux, there is no longer a norm to return to. ”

    For rice production see: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/101/27/9971

    “The impact of projected global warming on crop yields has been evaluated by indirect methods using simulation models. Direct studies on the effects of observed climate change on crop growth and yield could provide more accurate information for assessing the impact of climate change on crop production. We analyzed weather data at the International Rice Research Institute Farm from 1979 to 2003 to examine temperature trends and the relationship between rice yield and temperature by using data from irrigated field experiments conducted at the International Rice Research Institute Farm from 1992 to 2003. Here we report that annual mean maximum and minimum temperatures have increased by 0.35°C and 1.13°C, respectively, for the period 1979â��2003 and a close linkage between rice grain yield and mean minimum temperature during the dry cropping season (January to April). Grain yield declined by 10% for each 1°C increase in growing-season minimum temperature in the dry season, whereas the effect of maximum temperature on crop yield was insignificant. This report provides a direct evidence of decreased rice yields from increased nighttime temperature associated with global warming.”

    Jim Crabtree

  3. 53
    Eric Swanson says:

    Inhofe has managed to throw out another blast.

    He has a publication available which re-states all the denialist claims, containing several media pieces. Unfortunately, this last gasp effort made it onto the DRUDGE REPORT, where many more people will see it than are likely to read the commentary here on Real Climate.

    http://epw.senate.gov/fact.cfm?party=rep&id=266711

    Perhaps the DRUDGE REPORT will also post a link to this discussion on Real Climate.

  4. 54
    Wang Dang Sweet says:

    So many strange commments, where to start?
    #12 Deaths due to global warming? Give me a break. People have died in heat waves, cold waves, storms, floods, drought, etc. throughout history. No people have died from global warming. Yet.
    #34 No media coverage of global warming??? I remember discussing in high school (mid-80s). And for the record, hurricaine Katrina had nothing to do with global warming, unless you belive that CO2 directed a storm toward a sub-sea level city with inadequate levies and an unprepared population. BAD CO2! As for soultions to the problem being currently available and cheaper, do you honestly believe that people would pass on making money while at the same time saving the world? If you believe this, you clearly do not understand the magnitude of the problem.
    On to electric cars. I have not seen the documentary yet, I will as soon as I get a chance. But my company has been working on EV battery technologies (and fuel cells) for many years, I have seen prototype vehicles, I have talked with scientists and engineers who are working directly on the problem. If the technology was ready, we would be selling them and making huge profits. Unfortunately (for my profit sharing), this is not the case. Wishing for a solution is easy, creating a solution is difficult. I will offer some common ground, I think plug-in hybrids are a great idea (as soon as the battery technology is ready)
    This is getting too long, but #37 most plants will thrive at the CO2 concentrations projected for the next 100 years, ignoring other factors such as temp. disease, competition, etc.

  5. 55
    Hank Roberts says:

    Sigh. Our tax dollars at work, talking about “human C02 emissions” — a zero rather than a capital letter O there, quite obvious in the font used on the web page. Does the 64-page color glossy press release make the same error?

  6. 56
    J. Peden says:

    Not quite on topic, but I just read the water vapor forcing vs feedback thread and would like to ask: at what relative humidity or absolute water vapor concentration does water vapor become a “feedback” or result of atmospheric temperatures as opposed to a forcer or important cause of atmospheric temperatures?

    In conjunction, I have also been unable to understand why “residence” time has anything to do with the forcing or non-forcing effect of atmospheric molecules actually remaining in the atmosphere. But I’ll keep trying.

    So, thanks in advance for any help along these lines.

  7. 57
    Johnno says:

    Re earlier comments that it has only recently been fashionable to ascribe bushfire and coastal storm damage to GW. This new blaming fad coupled with postwar property development may tend to inflate damage attributed to GW even if it were not really a factor. The counter argument is that in the last decade or so there has been considerable public awareness of mitigation strategies. Examples are clearing trees near houses or not building on shifting coastline. Some well built levies were put to the test but didn’t figure in the news. Therefore I regard the issue of increasing property damage via GW as unproven one way or the other.

  8. 58
    Grant says:

    Re: #55

    You say

    #12 Deaths due to global warming? Give me a break. People have died in heat waves, cold waves, storms, floods, drought, etc. throughout history. No people have died from global warming. Yet.

    It’s true, people have died due to heat waves since time immemorial. It’s also true that people have died from naturally-occuring lung cancer. Certainly no individual death can be attributed with certainty to smoking. Therefore no people have died from cigarette smoking. Right?

  9. 59
    Hugh says:

    Re #52

    Thanks Jim!

  10. 60
    William Astley says:

    RE: “predictions for the next couple of solar cycles – a tricky business in fact, and one in which there is a substantial uncertainty”

    What goes up must come down?

    The sun’s large-scale magnetic field has doubled in the last 100 yrs. As noted in the attached articles, the solar large scale magnetic field reaches out into interplanetary space and helps shield the earth from Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR). Some believe that GCR are linked to cloud formation, higher GCR more cloulds as clouds reflect the sun, less or more clouds would result in warmer or colder temperatures. A doubling of the sun’s large scale field has resulted in less GCR.

    Are the warmer temperatures, observed in the later half of the twentieth century at least partially due to reduced GCR? Most Real Climate writers believe no. I do not support that conclusion. I believe the sun is moving to a more sever Maunder type minimum (longer duration), based on my interpretion of the paleoclimatic record. I would expect solar cycle 24 will be significantly lower and the Maunder type minimum will begin in solar cycle 25.

    Doubling Sunâ??s Coronal Magnetic Field in Last 100 years
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v399/n6735/abs/399437a0.html

    Evolution of the Sun’s large-scale magnetic field since the Maunder minimum
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6811/abs/408445a0.html

  11. 61
    CobblyWorlds says:

    I really think that it is verging on the evidentially unsupported alarmist end of debate to be asserting deaths from AGW at present.

    One might be able to use qualifiers like ‘may be’ but not strong assertion. It seems to me to be way too early to begin to consider secondary effects as we simply need much more data. After all we’ve only had 30 years of sustained global warming that is (as far as I can see) very likely due to AGW. In such a short timescale ‘noise’ including unrelated factors masks any correlation.

    For me the ‘effects already seen’ argument is as weak and unpersuasive as the ‘future effects may not be so bad’ one. Whilst they council opposing actions both are considering secondary effects of the process that we have a good degree of certainty in. The former against a short time period, the latter against a background of ever-present future uncertainty with regards secondary effects.

    What convinced me that this is the most serious long term issue that we face, and have control over (at least in theory), is the possibility of very serious long term impacts that will very likely be further out of our control the further we pursue our current course.

    It strikes me as similar to the situation I have faced when I used to do long distance endurance walking. I’m on the fells, I have no mobile phone (they weren’t common at the time) and in my rucksack I have 30kgs of sandbags. I’m pushing on, despite feeling tired and cold, It’s already started raining, I think the weather may worsen, but I don’t know. I do know that the further I go, the further away from safety I have to go.

    Do I:

    a) Continue to push forward hoping that the weather will not worsen and that I’ll get a ‘second wind’ and feel better?

    Or

    b) Decide to turn back now not being willing to risk worse weather, or to trust in my ability to find more strength?

    Whilst anyone can suffer the misfortune of injury or unexpectedly incliment weather. Mountain rescue are continually plagued by idiots who take option ‘a’.

  12. 62
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Hello William Astley,

    Leaving aside the ‘modelling hindcast skill’ issue for the moment.

    We’ve had a 0.18degC per decade trend of increasing tempertures over the last 30 years. Can you provide evidence of a concomitant trend in GCR(neutron counts) or TSI* that could reasonably explain the last 30 year trend in temperature?

    I’d love to know because I can’t find such data and I’d like to wake up from this AGW bad dream. I was a sceptic until early 2005 and want someone to provide a sound reason for not accepting it’s reality.

    *If you’re going to use Willson/Mordinov’s ACRIM dataset could you tell me:
    1) Why Frohlich (PMOD dataset) is wrong in attributing ACRIM’s apparent ‘trend’ to an atrefact in their processing.
    2) How the increase between solar minmima in ACRIM of 0.68Wm^-2 (IIRC) can account for the recent warming trend in view of the magnitude of preceding changes.

    PS I don’t do ‘belief’ these days, I do considered opinion formed by evidence. That was what learning my scepticism was uninfomed did for me.

    PPS If you’re going to tell me that the recent warming is a hang on effect from preceding solar induced warming. Can you tell me the mechanism? My kettle stops heating the water when I turn it off, and I can’t figure out a good physical argument why the planet’s thermodynamics should be any different.

  13. 63
    joel Hammer says:

    http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/paleodrought1.htm

    While you are cheering our deliverance from climate change by the Democrats, you might visit the link above, and think, not react. For example: What causes these recurring droughts? To say the jet stream moves North, or South, just begs the question: What moves the jet stream?

    If you can’t answer this question, why should anyone believe you have the power now to predict climate change?

    Of historical interest, the Crow Creek (South Dakota) massacre/cannibalism event occurred about 1325. This event was thought due to severe, prolonged drought.

  14. 64
    savegaia says:

    Europe’s warmest autumn in 500 years
    http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061204/full/061204-2.html
    =================
    Autumn was warmest on record
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has experienced its warmest autumn on record, with average temperature across the United Kingdom beating the peak set in 2001, the Met Office said on Friday.
    http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2006-12-01T141125Z_01_L01900677_RTRUKOC_0_UK-BRITAIN-WEATHER.xml&WTmodLoc=HP-C2-Business-5
    =================
    Siberian heatwave brings chilling warning
    Sydney Morning Herald, Australia – Nov 17, 2006
    SIBERIA is basking in its warmest November for 70 years, putting its permafrost, wildlife and even the human population at risk. …
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/siberian-heatwave-brings-chilling-warning/2006/11/17/1163266786030.html
    =================
    Record breaking Heatwave 2006
    http://savegaia.de/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=35&topic=10.0

  15. 65
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE # 55, okay, we don’t have cable & I’ve often been teaching nights, but I’ve been watching the U.S. TV major networks like a hawk for 17 years, and there has been precious little about global warming after a first flush of news in the late 80s, early 90s. So much so, my friend, who has cable, told me she had thought GW was disproven since she had seen nothing on it on TV over the years.

    And that NEWSWEEK article on GW back in 1995? That came out, I think, in response to my letter to the editor-in-chief (I wrote “personal” on the envelope); I said I had been a subscriber for 17 years & had just seen a good article at the Drs office in TIME on GW, and NW really should have one or future generations would….etcectect.

    And I’ve noticed that there have been more articles and TV stories on GW after the Katrina hurricane…and I presume bec since climate scientists have been predicting that there could be more intense storms with GW, so the media may have thought it’s now time to start reporting on GW as if it’s real and not just a debate (but I’m not exactly sure why there’s been more coverage…which is now slipping into less coverage again).

    As for electric cars, I hate to break the news, but many of the original cars were electric, and I know the Fox Valley Electric Vehicle Association has been converting ICE cars to electric — I drove one back in 1992. So the technology has always been with us since the advent of the car. For my average commute (4 miles round trip), a range of, say, 10 miles would be fine. Since we have 2 cars, one could be electric & one could be hybrid. Too bad there’s no EV club in my new area. The FVEV club said that one guy who did a conversion had never even held a screwdriver in his life, and that it’s not all that hard. There’s a book that gives advice, WHY WAIT FOR DETROIT? For an EV club near you, go to http://www.eaaev.org

  16. 66
    Alan says:

    RE #58 ( and other posts regarding bushfires ).

    Fire-fighters over here in Australia use computer models (original application written by a friend and displayed in the Smithsonian institute) to predict the course of the fires and have done so for over a decade. I have lived here for 40+yrs, we have a “fire season” in Victoria and total fire bans are an accepted part of life. Normally the fire season peaks around Jan/Feb this year I doubt there will be anything left to burn by christmas.

    The extent of the smoke haze today is the worst I’ve seen since the ash wednesday fires and I don’t ever recall it this bad in early December. The fires are very unusual because of the extended drought and are not confined to fuel rich areas. Lightning is seting scrub burning where it had already burt last year and the fire fighters are worried about mountain ash forests that normally don’t burn.

    Using insurance terminology it is estimated that the odds of seeing those particular forests burning is a “once in 500yr event”. The current drought is a “once in 1000yr event” and still going strong.

    October was a record heat wave and last month we had snow to low levels and unseasonal frost serverly damaged fruit crops, I’m not sure what the odd of skiing in November are, but it’s happened twice this year, the second time snow was falling on the bushfires!

    I also have anecdotal evidence that drunk drivers are dangerous.

  17. 67
    Richard Simons says:

    Re #55

    Deaths due to global warming? Give me a break. People have died in heat waves, cold waves, storms, floods, drought, etc. throughout history. No people have died from global warming. Yet.

    How will you know when the first person does die from global warming?

  18. 68
    Jim Cross says:

    Re #61, #63

    William, your prediction about solar cycle 25 is hardly going out on a limb. It is the prediction of NASA.

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm

    I still can’t quite buy the GCR theory but, if the above prediction holds true, I think we will get a pretty good gauge on solar influence in the next twenty years.

  19. 69
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE # 55 again, “As for soultions to the problem being currently available and cheaper, do you honestly believe that people would pass on making money while at the same time saving the world?”

    My experience over 17 years with plenty of people & politicians is an emphatic YES! It’s been an extreme lesson for me. People just do not want to save money and they do not want to save the earth. BIG FAT PERIOD!!! So any assumptions about rational, economic man (or woman) are just plain wrong. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s my experience over and over and over again.

    Check out http://www.rmi.org & http://www.natcap.org to see what’s possible. Remember water and resource conservation also reduces GHGs re the energy component to pump, mine, manufacture, and heat (water). Our $6 low-flow showehead with off-on soap-up switch is saving us $100 a year in water & energy to heat it (a $2000 saving over its 20 year lifetime). I measured the difference with a bucket & watch, but I can’t tell the difference when taking a shower. You’d be surprised at the 10,000 solutions to GW (& other problems) out there on store shelves.

    Though others would much prefer to waste money and harm the environment, at least I’ve been laughing all the way to the bank for over 10 years with all the money my husband and I save from reducing our GHGs (& other killer pollutants) by 33%. And that’s not even counting our much greater GHG reductions from going on 100% wind-powered electricity 4 years ago thru the grid from Green Mountain Energy (avaible in Texas & some other states), for which I’m paying $5 more per month — a mere drop in the bucket from all my GHG reduction savings.

  20. 70

    Re 42 Gavin
    Here as you requested is Singer’s letter as it appears on his site :
    ” =======================================
    PUBLIC MISLED

    S. Fred Singer
    22 November 2006 National Post

    Global warmers are becoming desperate. As the science evidence turns against them, they increasingly resort to smear campaigns and personal attacks on global warming (GW) skeptics — those of us whom Al Gore labels “climate deniers.” The latest example is the CBC’s The Fifth Estate broadcast of The Denial Machine. Clearly, GW alarmists are using this tactic to distract the public from noticing how the science underpinnings of the GW scare are collapsing.

    As the flaws in climate science begin to sink in and affect public opinion, the spin doctors have started to take over. Pre-eminent among these has been the PR firm of James Hoggan of Vancouver. Mr. Hoggan has unleashed press releases and bloggers, and now appears on the CBC in an attempt to discredit scientists –including me — who do not share his or his clients’ views on climate change.

    All this may have started with Naomi Oreskes’ review, in Science (October, 2005), of the book The Republican War on Science. Even though the book deals mainly with other topics, she turns her review into a personal attack on four GW skeptics, two of whom are not even mentioned in the book. For example, she manages to misrepresent my scientific work on ozone depletion, complains that I do not publish “regularly” in peer-reviewed journals, and — amazingly — tries to link me to “intelligent design” and the tobacco industry.

    Next, someone sends me a screed by Canadian blogger Kevin Grandia, a Hoggan employee, who accuses me of being in the “pay of the tobacco lobby.” Although tobacco has nothing to do with the global warming debate, Mr. Grandia suggests that I sell my science to special interests. And since he cannot show that I am “in the pay of the oil lobby,” tobacco will have to do.

    Now, I am a very patient fellow, so I carefully explain to Mr. Grandia that I hate tobacco smoke and sit on the board of the anti-smoking American Council on Science and Health. But I don’t tolerate the misuse of science, even by anti-smokers. So I gladly assented when, more than a decade ago, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute asked me to serve as a consultant for a couple of months to review and contribute to a report on misuse of science in environmental policies.

    I soon discovered that in their anti-smoking zeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had cooked the data on second-hand tobacco smoke, claiming 3,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Specifically, I uncovered a report to the US Congress by the Congressional Research Service (CRS-95-1115) that documents how the EPA had “cherry-picked” the available evidence. My contribution in all of this was simply to use the CRS analysis.

    But Mr. Grandia won’t budge. So I am forced to hire a lawyer to get Mr. Grandia to retract his slurs and apologize. After many letters back and forth, between my lawyer and his, I am now faced with a choice: Do I sue for defamation? The costs can be considerable, both financial and in terms of precious time. Mr. Grandia seems especially keen to engage in legal battles with climate scientists. Who pays his lawyers?

    Grandia, Hoggan, Oreskes, The Fifth Estate, Fenton Communications, a Washington environmental PR firm of which Mr. Hoggan appears to be a clone — all have the same agenda. They aim to undermine crucial scientific debate on what some have termed the most important problem facing mankind in this century. Certainly, drastic policy actions based on wrong science would waste massive resources and hit the pocketbook of every citizen.

    S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus, University of Virginia, and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service.
    =====================================

    HOGGAN ‘MISSPOKE’ HIMSELF; CBC SHOULD ISSUE CORRECTION “

  21. 71
    sam says:

    Inhofe’s Last Gasp is a Parting Shot:
    http://epw.senate.gov/repwhitepapers/6341044%20Hot%20&%20Cold%20Media.pdf

    not sure what to say…gaggin too much.

  22. 72
    Tom Brogle says:

    Of course AGW is a hoax It keeps you lot in subsidized jobs.You have written a paper to explain the cooling of the Antarctic which says that the increase in westerly winds has prevented heat from the subtropics from reaching the continent.
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2004/ShindellSchmidt1.html
    I was taught that the temperature difference between the subtropics and the Antarctic drives the westerly wind.

    [Response: Do you think it might be conceivable that things are a little bit more complicated than was explained to you in class? With respect to that paper, you can see the same thing in the data – Thompson and Solomon (2002) for instance. Remember, learning should be a lifelong endeavour…. – gavin]

  23. 73
    William Astley says:

    Re: Comment 63 CobblyWorlds
    “I’d love to know because I can’t find such data and I’d like to wake up from this AGW bad dream. I was a sceptic until early 2005 and want someone to provide a sound reason for not accepting it’s reality.

    PPS If you’re going to tell me that the recent warming is a hang on effect from preceding solar induced warming. Can you tell me the mechanism? My kettle stops heating the water when I turn it off, and I can’t figure out a good physical argument why the planet’s thermodynamics should be any different.”

    The solar large scale-magnetic field was not turned off. It is more than twice what it was at the beginning of the century and is high regardless of the number of sunspots or the strength of the solar wind. For the large scale solar magnetic field to fall, the sunspot cycle must stop. The large scale-solar magnetic field is a akin to the geomagnetic dipole field. The solar wind varies during the solar cycle and, as it is a plasma, an increase in the solar wind also reduces GCR, by interacting with the geomagnetic field.

    Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years

    http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/nature02995.pdf

    It is not my opinion that the sun is in its most active stage in 8000 years. That is probably a fact. Note the geomagnetic field is 20% less than it was at the time of the Maunder minimum and is dropping at 5% per century. As the geomagnetic field also shields the earth from GCR, the drop in temperature if the sun spot cycle stops and the sun’s large scale magnetic field drops to Maunder levels will be more sever than the temperature drop that occurred during the Maunder event, as the geomagnetic field is now about 20% less. Does this have the feel of a Heinrich event?

    The question is will the sunspot cycle stop in solar cycle 24 or 25 and if it does how quickly will the large scale magnetic field drop and how long before the solar cycle starts up again.

    My concern is sudden castrophic global cooling and I believe I can show why that concern is valid, if I can discuss the past.

  24. 74
    Hank Roberts says:

    Word of the year: http://www.webster.com/info/06words.htm

  25. 75
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    This might be the real reason for Inhofe’s grandstanding — to divert attention from what the Senate was up to in the last minutes (from http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=64788 ):

    “Drilling for oil and natural gas in the deepest waters off Florida’s Gulf shores would be allowed for the first time under legislation that is headed for President Bush’s signature.

    Early today Congress gave final approval to a measure that allows for energy exploration in a huge swath of the Gulf of Mexico 125 miles south of the Panhandle….

    The measure — approved by the Senate, 79-9, shortly before 2 a.m. and earlier passed by the House — marks a victory for industry groups who waged a yearslong battle, and a major setback for environmental groups and some Florida lawmakers who had long fought efforts to explore Florida waters.”

  26. 76
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Hello again William,

    We may well have been at crossed purposes.

    I’d thought you were discounting AGW. Frohlich’s PMOD agrees with the Kitt Peak Magnetograms and when I’d last looked at magnetic data (no refs on me right now), I don’t recall seeing a clear recent trend. Of course, if there is reason to see the Maunder minimum as an analogous event for any future cooling, it would be very pertintnent to address the past in your consideration. I don’t know if there is such reason. What happened before obviously wouldn’t address the recent 30 years of warming. For the record, I accept that the models are reasonably skillful, and that the Sun has not been the exclusive, even major, driver of global average temperatures in the last century, even before the ’70s. Using the Maunder minimum as an analogue of past impacts; Europe (I’m British) has survived the LIA, and that was before we had fossil fuel technology.

    Anyway, even if we can accept that most of the warming of the early 20th century was due to the Sun. Surely the fact that it cannot reasonably explain the last global ~0.6 degC of warming means that we can reasonably expect the enhanced greenhouse effect to take the edge off any cooling? I know that much of the high lattitude bias of the warming may be down to ice-albedo effects, but nontheless at lattitudes such as mine a reduction in outgoing longwave could, during most of the year, mitigate solar induced cooling.

    What really bothers me about the prospect of a cooling is it’s feedback on AGW. A return to severely cold winters could increase fuel consumption, possibly make coal more economically attractive (which releases more CO2 per joule). So exacerbate CO2 emissions and cause a higher than expected level of CO2 which would have a commensurately higher impact once solar levels return to normal. This would be an interesting thing to model and possibly do scenarios for as the theory of a reduction in solar output becomes more firm, we should see the onset in a few decades.

    Although I agree that “learning should be a lifelong thing”, a lesson sorely taught by realising how misinformed my scepticism was. ;) I’m not prepared to spend more time learning enough to do the modelling myself. At least I know wasn’t guilty of relying on ‘truthiness’, I was just not thinking critically about what some wanted me to think. JunkScience(sic).

  27. 77
    Marco Parigi says:

    Re: #12At Inhofe’s last stand, one of them claimed that there have been no deaths due to global warming. Not one person replied. However, many people have died in recent years due to excessive heat, severe weather and flooding.
    This is not a scientific statement of fact. You are obviously talking about extreme events, and the climate science research has not made this bold claim. It is a possibility among others for future.

    eg. From the third assessment report:10.4.2.2 Climate variability and extreme events. Due to the limited number and length of simulations and a lack of comprehensive analyses, this subject has been almost completely ignored. The only response in variability or extremes that has received any attention is that of tropical cyclones (Box 10.2).

  28. 78

    Re ‘As Richard Dawkins says in his book, “The God Delusion”; “Religion is the problem”.’

    And as I say, “Richard Dawkins and the people who mistakenly believe he knows what he’s talking about are the problem.”

  29. 79

    Re #55 and ” No people have died from global warming. Yet.”

    If the incidence of heavy storms, heat waves, droughts etc. is up, and if the increase can be tied to global warming, then global warming has caused people to die who would not otherwise have died when they did. You can’t point to a particular individual and say “this man died of global warming” anymore than you can point to one and say “this man died of pollution.” Nonetheless, these things happen. Unless you’re prepared to say pollution has never killed anyone either?

  30. 80
    Pat Neuman says:

    re #80. Likewise, it’s debatable whether or not Katrina was made worse by by global warming.

    To all, I haven’t been able to get into the desmogBlog today [ http://www.desmogblog.com/ ]. I posted numerous comments to that blog yesterday. I’d like to know when it comes back up. If anyone will send me a note on that by email I’d appreciate that. My address is npat1@juno.com

  31. 81
    Pat Neuman says:

    In #78,

    Marco Parigi wrote: … You are obviously talking about extreme events, and the climate science research has not made this bold claim. It is a possibility among others for future. … “this subject has been almost completely ignored”.

    Mr. Parigi,

    The subject of extreme events and climate change was not ignored before G.W.Bush became U.S. President in 2001.

    I read the article at the NCDC link (in year 2000). It conclude there was increased probability for heavy rains (flood producing) as a result of climate change.

    Changes in the Probability of Heavy Precipitation at:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/pub/data/special/climatic_change_1999.pdf

    Also, more recently is this article, which states:

    […] “Anecdotal observations are backed by scientists who are recording in Nepal some of the fastest long-term increases in temperatures and
    rainfall anywhere in the world.” […]

    […] “Nepal as a country needs help adapting to climate change, says Mr
    Gurung. Its emissions of damaging greenhouse gases are negligible, yet it finds itself on the front line of change.” […]

    Nepal’s farmers on the front line of global climate change
    Himalayan communities face catastrophic floods
    as weather patterns alter
    John Vidal in Kathmandu
    Saturday December 2, 2006
    The Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/christmasappeal2006/story/0,,1962372,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1#article_continuearticle_continue

  32. 82
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE “religion is the problem” & “has GW killed anyone debate.” It was precisely my religious formation and finding in 1990 in the film IS IT HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU? about GW possibly causing the increasing droughts in Africa that launched me from passive to active environmentalist doing all I can to reduce my GHGs (finding that it actually saves me money was secondary & not a consideration). I bring up a mental image of a starving African madonna & child into my mind’s eye everytime I feel like slacking off in this effort. I don’t have to be 95% certain that I’m killing someone to put on the breaks & cease and desist from doing so.

    I read about “The Family,” went to the links off Wiki(see post #54), & how these very big power-players worship & submit to power & seek only to do God’s will (not their own). Well, that’s really funny since some of them are Catholic, & Pope John Paul II stated in 1990 “Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone…The ‘greenhouse effect’ has now reached crisis proportions…” And the U.S. Bishops in 2001 stated that prudence requires us to mitigate AGW, even if we are not completely sure it is happening. That means, Mr. Skeptic Contrarian Denialist, you too.

    So much for obeying our religious superiors & the Bible (Thou shall not kill, etc). (And at least some of those recalcitrant “pro-life??” Supreme Court justices are Catholic!) Other religions have come out with their own statements and programs to address GW, such as the Evangelicals’ What Would Jesus Drive campaign.

  33. 83
    William Astley says:

    In reply to Cobblyworlds:

    “Of course, if there is a reason to see the Maunder minimum as an analogous event for any future cooling … Using the Maunder minimum as an analogue of past impacts; Europe (I’m British) has survived the LIA, and that was before we had fossil fuel technology.”

    The Maunder minimum is perhaps the wrong analogue. Try the observed sudden and sever end to the Eeminian interglacial (i.e. the start of the next glacial cycle) as the analogue. A Heinrich event, that terminates an interglacial, is different than a Maunder event.

    From the attached link which dicusses sudden and sever climate change events:

    http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html

    “According to the marine records, the Eemian interglacial ended with a rapid cooling event about 110,000 years ago (e.g., Imbrie et al., 1984; Martinson et al., 1987), which also shows up in ice cores and pollen records from across Eurasia. From a relatively high resolution core in the North Atlantic. Adkins et al. (1997) suggested that the final cooling event took less than 400 years, and it might have been much more rapid.”

    As to severity and abruptness of the change, think Younger Dryas temperature change (Greenland Ice Sheet temperature dropped 15C in less than a decade based on the Greenland ice sheet data) as opposed to the Maunder minimum.

    As to reliance on models. The classic insolation based climate models do not explain the sudden and sever climate changes and do not explain basic large fundamental changes in the climate record.

    A sudden and rapid change, would require a forcing function. As to what could cause a rapid, sever climate change, it is known that large changes in the cosmic ray flux occurred coincidental with the rapid climate change events.

    Unfortunately, the discussion in this forum is political, Us vs Them, Good Guys vs Bad Guys, rather than climate change.

  34. 84
    Arthur Smith says:

    On Deaths from global warming – the World Health Organization has estimated that we are now experiencing about 150,000 additional premature deaths per year thanks to human-caused climate change so far. A fact that was even acknowledged, though disputed, by Bjorn Lomborg here:

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=112806D

  35. 85
    Pat Neuman says:

    I think the comment in #70 holds true today – they do not want to save the earth. So how do we change that? I think they do not want to save the earth from global warming because of their state of fear that reducing one’s own greenhouse gas emissions will lead to a loss of popularity with friends, coworkers and management. It has not been popular to reduce even one’s own greenhouse gas emissions. Although I was never popular, I think my walking or biking to work year round from 2000-2005 turned people against me, or worsened some hostility already there. I felt a great deal of descrimination because of my beliefs and actions just in reducing my own greenhouse gas emissions. What’s needed is to make it popular to reduce one’s own greenhouse gas emissions, and popular to help others do the same.

  36. 86
    Pat Neuman says:

    At the link in #84

    Lomborg said: Perhaps this is most clear when you look at the movie from Al Gore. Everything he says is technically true. He says for instance that if Greenland melts, sea levels will rise about 20 feet. This is technically true. But of course the very evocative imagery of seeing Holland disappear under the waves – or New York, or Shanghai – leaves the impression that this is all going to happen very soon. Where in fact the UN climate panel says that the sea level rise over the next 100 years is going to be 30 cm – about 20 times less than he talks about.

    Last Friday in Victoria BC, news media people are all confused by a map put out by the Sierra Club which shows Victoria drowning under sea-level rises of six to 25 metres. No one seemed to know where they got the 25 meter (80 ft) increase, as described at:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/ in the article:
    “Sierra Club Drowns in Own Climate Catastrophe”

    I found this:
    According to Jim Hansen: “That means that further global warming of 1
    degree Celsius defines a critical level. If warming is kept less than
    that, effects of global warming may be relatively manageable. During
    the warmest interglacial periods the Earth was reasonably similar to
    today. But if further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we
    will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one
    we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene,
    about three million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have
    been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”
    at:
    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/NASA_Study_Finds_World_Warmth_Edging_Ancient_Levels_999.html

    So my question is:

    – given that 3 million years ago the average sea level was 25 meters
    higher than current

    – given that in year 2100 earth’s temperatures will be the same as 3
    million years ago

    When will average sea level be 25 meters (80 ft) higher than current?

  37. 87

    Pat (#86):

    When will average sea level be 25 m higher than current?

    Well, the much criticized BC Sierra Club announcement is far more honest than they are being given credit for:

    http://www.sierraclub.ca/bc/media/item.shtml?x=912

    �We are almost certain to see a six-metre sea level rise if we cannot keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees,� said Sierra Club Executive Director Kathryn Molloy. �This could happen within the lifetime of my grandchildren if we do not take significant global action immediately to curb global carbon emissions.�

    People now living might see six meters, implying that there is little chance of anyone now alive seeing the 25.

    Recent information that I hear from some glaciologists is showing the ice sheets to be less stable than previously thought. It will be interesting to see if this information makes it into the FAR; I suspect it won’t. So the IPCC will probably stick with the ten or twenty cm sea level rise this century, which won’t cause anyone to lose any sleep for a while, i.e., until perhaps the fifth report some five or six years out. Anecdotally I can attest that at least some ice sheet experts don’t rule out several meters in this century from a failure of much or most of the West Antarctic ice.

    As for the answer to Pat’s very reasonable question, I don’t think anyone knows and I certainly don’t. Centuries, probably. It depends on poorly known ice sheet dynamics. It also definitely depends crucially on the total anthropogenic GHG emission into the environment, and that in turn genuinely is sensitive to the date when we start taking the matter seriously.

    The practical question is whether we have the right to commit future generations to a problem of this magnitude.

    Reducing everything to a financial calculation based around a discount rate cloaks a dubious moral position in rationalist clothing. Economics does not prove we have no obligation to future descendants, it merely treats that as a useful approximation. In the present question that approximation might not be as applicable as it is in other contexts.

    On the other hand, avoiding the issue by making the serious consequences seem more immediate than they actually are may be counterproductive in the long run. Still, I think we should observe that the BC Sierra Club is innocent of this based on the evidence on their website at present. Perhaps they retrofitted the site in the light of the controversy, or perhaps the fault is with the press.

  38. 88
    Wang Dang Sweet says:

    Re #66 Thank you for the electric vehicle link. I learned two things. First, electric vehicles can make an interesting hobby. An expensive, time consuming, technically challenging hobby. Second, I was right, the link confirmed what I said about EVs. The technology is not ready for the general population.

    As far as a person with a limited mechanical background converting a car from gas to electric? It would be easy, all you have to do is take the engine out of your car, modify the transmission, connect the electric motor, add a large stack of lead acid batteries, and add an optional heater if you live in a cold climate. Five easy steps (with a few minor technical details).

  39. 89
    Marco Parigi says:

    RE:35what is to be said about the enemies of the human race (the economists) who oppose every real step while muttering about consumer choice in the face of international calamity.
    Or else may I suggest you give some thought to saying very clearly that you will not be getting into economics, so people will start thinking about setting up an RC in the field of applications to deal with AGW.

    Comment by garhane

    Your disrespect of economists is unacceptable. Surely you believe that any experts in any field should be working for the common goal of safeguarding the planet. If you want to know details and numbers regarding climate change you trust a climate scientist to give an unbiased information that is reliable, even if it doesn’t always match common sense. If you want to know the best value for money in reducing emmissions you trust an economic scientist to give unbiased information that is reliable, even if it doesn’t always match common sense. Sure, science that is reported in sensational journalism or funded by vested interest should always be checked and compared against general scientific consensus. Until there is an RC equivalent for economics, the comments should be open to discourse on economic issues arising from Climate Change threads. Environmental activists do need to become economically literate if they are to make realistic goals and simulations on how humanity will reach those goals. This as opposed to wishful thinking that the blunt instrument of fear is necessary and sufficient to make people do the right thing.

  40. 90
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Re #84.
    Hello again William,

    I don’t understand why you jump from the Maunder Minimum (MM) all the way back to the Eemian.

    100k years ago lattitudinal forcing levels due to precession may well have been different from now. Whereas due to the speed of precession I’d have though that the MM provides a better analogue because it’s lattitudinal insolation would be very similar. Furthermore you referenced “Evolution of the Sun’s large-scale magnetic field since the Maunder minimum.” Solanki/Schüssler/Fligge in your initial post (#61), and whilst I’ve not got a copy of that to hand they do note in the abstract:

    “The model indicates that there is a direct connection between the length of the sunspot cycle and the secular variations.”

    Now in the MM ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_minimum ) using the sunspot proxy your source suggests is sound, we entered a period of low solar activity, which did not lead to the sort of cooling you point to at the Eemian termination.

    Yet NASA do not seem to be predicting even an event anything like the MM, http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm , suggesting sunspot numbers of the order of 50 in 2022, as opposed to virtually none in the MM.

    So whilst I can at a push generously accept that use of the MM as a worst-case analogue. I really don’t get using a distant period like the Eemian termination, where arguably other factors may not have been similar.

    At best I see a slight cooling or tailing off of the ongoing warming trend. But my degree’s in Electronics and I’ve only been learning about climate science for ~2 years, so I am happy to defer to more learned opinion.

    SEA LEVEL Hansen’s quote:

    “The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about three million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”

    That should not be taken too simplistically, because it refers to a sustained period of greater warmth than present, long enough for the ice to melt and the seas to warm to equilibrium. That takes a lot of time. I’ve seen this 25m figure quoted out of context all over in the press, and it really bugs me. 25 metres is a centennial/millenial scale figure

    I’m implcitly betting that it’ll be nowhere near that in my lifetime, I’m 38 and my house is only just over 10 metres above sea level. My house is key to retirement, at current houseprice levels I could never afford to buy again in the UK.

  41. 91
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #88, you really should see WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? You’ll see that there were lots of great EVs out on the road, but the car companies crushed them because, for one, they came to realize they’d lose big on their highly profitable service/maintenance business, since EVs require very little.

    As for batteries there are lithium ion ones that can give an EV a 300 mile range, with an 80% charge in one hour (a full charge in 4 hours). But most people wouldn’t need that, since their commute distance is much less, and most families have second cars they could use for long trips. Or they could rent a car (& I think it’d still come out cheaper in most cases).

    It’d be wonderful if, perhaps, General Electric made EVs, which logically should be cheaper than ICE cars, if mass produced. Of course, if each individual has to make their own EV, that would be expensive & time consuming (the same’s true re making one’s own ICE car, only worse).

    As for power source, it could be from alternative energy. But even if from coal power, the reduction in pollution (incl GHGs) is about half of that of an ICE car, and a single source can be more easily controlled.

    We have to think holistically, how EVs would not only reduce GW, but local pollution & acid rain, as well, lowering health costs and giving people more healthy work days — and that money could be used for projects to further reduce GHGs (& save more money).

    We need to get off the lose(environ)-lose(money)-lose(health) track and onto a win-win-win track. Even oil companies can diversify, like BP & some others, and consider themselves not oil but energy companies & get into green biz.

  42. 92
    Sashka says:

    Re: 73 (Comment)

    To me, the interesting part is that we have just started our 100 years journey to 2100 (and all predicted catastrophes) but the events are already unfolding in an unpredicted way. What are the implications for the 100 year projections?

  43. 93
    James says:

    Re #90: “I’m implcitly betting that it’ll be nowhere near that in my lifetime…” and similar comments.

    On the other hand, if you read much general science news, you’ll see occasional articles on intriguing developments in anti-aging research. I’m not going to count on being around in 50 or 100 years to see that sea level rise, but neither am I going to entirely rule out the possibility.

    On the third hand, since my house is at 4800 ft, any sea level rise is not going to affect me directly :-)

  44. 94
    Sashka says:

    Re: #49

    You don’t need international treaties, much less emission limits, to create market incentives. Taxing carbon fuel plus subsidizing alternative sources is one old recipe.

    Of course, the looming energy crisis (not GW or terrorism) is the hardest problem that humanity will face in this century. While (I agree with you) the governments are not good at anything, I’m afraid there’s no choice other than to rely on governments, at least to some extent, in deciding which research is worth of funding.

  45. 95
    Sashka says:

    Re: #50

    I’m sorry to attract so much attention. No, not really. Lack of dissent is very boring.

    1. Not in the realm of global warming science

    It has nothing to do with science. It’s simple economics. People will continue burning fossil fuels until something cheaper is available. If cheaper alternative is never found then we’ll burn everything we can grab. Simple as that.

    2. Rests upon the questionable assumptions in #1, in the total failure of any sort of manmade carbon sequestration, and ignores the rate of CO2 emissions vs ability for natural sinks to absorb it.

    If sequestration is possible why not work on that instead? Natural sinks, unfortunately, cannot keep pace with emissions.

    Since you mentioned “An Inconvenient Truth” I happened to watch it over the weekend. Al Gore is a clever guy. Except in one instance, he avoided direct lies (at least as far as I could tell) which makes this film even more misleading.

  46. 96
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re 90, 87

    “As for the answer to Pat’s very reasonable question, I don’t think anyone knows. Centuries, probably. It depends on poorly known ice sheet dynamics. It also definitely depends crucially on the total anthropogenic GHG emission into the environment, and that in turn genuinely is sensitive to the date when we start taking the matter seriously.” by Michael Tobis

    “The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about three million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.” by Hansen

    “That should not be taken too simplistically, because it refers to a sustained period of greater warmth than present, long enough for the ice to melt and the seas to warm to equilibrium. That takes a lot of time. I’ve seen this 25m figure quoted out of context all over in the press, and it really bugs me. 25 metres is a centennial/millenial scale figure. I’m implcitly betting that it’ll be nowhere near that in my lifetime,” by CobblyWorlds

    “The IPCC has been forced to halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100, one of the key threats from climate change. It says improved data have reduced the upper estimate from 34 in to 17 in. by Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph 11/12/2006
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=4Q1RGCSAWJBYXQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/12/10/nclimate10.xml

    I don’t think anyone knows either. I’ll quess that average sea level will reach 25 meters above the current average sea level before the year 2200.

  47. 97
    Roger Smith says:

    “Taxing carbon fuel plus subsidizing alternative sources is one old recipe”

    Of course, taxes and subsidies are the work of governments.

  48. 98
    Dan says:

    “Since you mentioned “An Inconvenient Truth” I happened to watch it over the weekend. Al Gore is a clever guy. Except in one instance, he avoided direct lies (at least as far as I could tell) which makes this film even more misleading.”

    Aside from the outright mistruth to that second statement, it is quite easy to search here on RC and see/learn for yourself that Gore’s statements were essentially quite sound scientifically. Burying one’s head in the sand on the issue as opposed to learning about the science does not make the film misleading one iota.

  49. 99
    Dan says:

    re: “An Inconvenient Truth” and the science portrayed, see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/al-gores-movie/

  50. 100
    Grant says:

    Re: #95, “An Inconvenient Truth”

    Some of the moderators, by virtue of their status as climate scientists, were invited to a pre-screening and posted their review on this very blog:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/al-gores-movie/

    Their opinion was that although there are a few minor quibbles, it was overall a good representation of the state of things, scientifically. I agree with *them*, not with you.


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