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Fraser Institute fires off a damp squib

Filed under: — group @ 3 February 2007

New addition: Download an annotated pdf of the Fraser report. An interactive pdf file, to be read on the screen, is here, and a printable version is here. Suggestions for further commenting are welcome. Additions to the pdf have to be short, and tied to particular pieces of text or figures. And of course we will only incorporate comments that we deem to be scientifically sound and cogent.

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While most of the world’s climate scientists were following the IPCC fest last week, a few contrarians left out in the cold were trying to to organize their own party.

An unofficial, “Independent Summary for Policymakers” (ISPM) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment report has been delivered by the Fraser Institute. It’s a long, imposing-looking document, resembling, come to think of it, the formatting of the real Summary for Policymakers (SPM) document that was released on Friday after final negotiations of the IPCC in Paris last week. The Fraser Institute has assembled an awesome team of 10 authors, including such RC favorites as tilter-against-windmills-and-hockey-sticks Ross McKitrick, and other luminaries such as William Kininmonth, MSc, M.Admin — whose most recent paper is “Don’t be Gored into Going Along” in the Oct-Nov issue of Power Engineer. To be fair, he did publish a paper on weather forecasting, back in 1973. According to the press release, the London kickoff event will be graced by the presence of “noted environmentalist” David Bellamy. It’s true he’s “noted,” but what he’s noted for is his blatant fabrication of numbers purporting to show that the world’s glaciers are advancing rather retreating, as reported here.

Why go to all the trouble of producing an “independent” summary? The authors illuminate us with this wisdom regarding the official Summary for Policymakers: “A further problem is that the Summary for Policy Makers attached to the IPCC Report is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments.” This statement (charitably) shows that the Fraser Institute authors are profoundly ignorant of the IPCC process. In fact, the actual authors of the official SPM are virtually all scientists, and are publically acknowleged. Moreover, the lead authors of the individual chapters are represented in the writing process leading to the SPM, and their job is to defend the basic science in their chapters. As lead author Gerald Meehl remarked to one of us on his way to Paris: “Scientists have to be ok, they have the last check. If they think the science is not represented, then they can send it back to the breakout groups. ”

A common accusation at the time of the Third Assessment Report was that the SPM didn’t reflect the science in the rest of the report. A special National Academy panel was convened at the request of President GW Bush, to consider this and other issues. The Panel found no significant disconnect between the SPM and the body of the report. The procedure followed this time is not in essence any different from that which has been used for previous IPCC reports.

One of the strangest sections of the Fraser Institute report is the one in which the authors attempt to throw dirt on the general concept of radiative forcing. Radiative forcing is nothing more than an application of the principle of conservation of energy, looking at the way a greenhouse gas alters the energy balance of a planet. The use of energy conservation arguments of this type has been standard practice in physics at least since the time of Fourier. We have heard certain vice presidents dismiss “Energy Conservation” as merely a matter of personal virtue, but we have never before heard people who purport to be scientists write off the whole utility of “Conservation of Energy.” From what is written in the Fraser report, it is not even clear that the authors understand the first thing about how radiative transfer calculations are done. They criticize the radiative forcing concept because it “fails to take into account the lifetime of greenhouse gases” — as if we really needed to know anything more about CO2 in this regard than that it stays around for centuries to millennia. They say that radiative forcing “is computed by assuming a linear relationship between certain climatic forcing agents and particular averages of temperature data.” Nonsense. It is computed using detailed calculations of absorption and emission of infrared radiation, based on laboratory measurements carried out with exquisite accuracy, and meticulously checked against real atmospheric observations.

Hockey-stick bashing and solar-explains-all advocacy are favorite activities of the denialist camp, so it is no surprise to see both themes amply represented in the Fraser Institute report. In neither case does the Fraser report break new ground in bad behavior. It’s just more of the same old same old. On climate of the past millennium, the Fraser report misrepresents the recent National Research Council report , which concluded quite the opposite of what the Fraser report claims it concluded: The National Research Council, like the official SPM, affirms that recent warming really does appear anomalous in light of the past millennium. The Fraser report obscures this point by cleansing the recent period of warming from their graphs. The discussion of solar variability consists of a lot of vague talk about unexplored possibilities, while skirting the basic problem with solar variability as an explanation of recent warming: There is no observed trend in solar activity of a type that could explain recent warming, and if the problem were an unobserved trend in solar ultraviolet, it would make the stratosphere (where UV is absorbed by ozone) trend warmer relative to a constant-solar baseline. In reality, the stratosphere is cooling strongly, and at about the rate the models predict.

The basic approach taken by the Fraser Institute Report is to fling a lot of mud at the models and hope that at least some of it sticks. Of course, if one looks at enough details one is bound to find some areas where there is a mismatch between models and reality. Modellers do this all the time, as a way of improving the representation of physical processes. However, to highlight a few shortcomings without asking what their implications might be for climate sensitivity, or whether the mismatch might be due to data problems rather than model problems (as in the case of tropical lapse rate), gives a distorted picture of the state of the art. An examination of the model shortcomings in the light of the vast range of important things they get right leaves the fundamental premise of the cause of warming unchallenged, and to see why, one needs to turn to a balanced assessment of the science such as represented in the full IPCC report.

The Fraser Institute authors also raise the curious objection that models have not been “formally proven” to be suitable for predicting the future. We are not sure what it would mean to “formally prove” such a thing (Kurt Gödel, are you listening?), but the specific objection raised in the Fraser report makes no sense: the authors suggest that the number of tunable parameters in models is so great that it may exceed the degrees of freedom in the data being “fit.” In reality, there are at most a dozen or two parameters that modellers touch, most of these are constrained to certain limits by data, and there are physical limitations to what one can do to the output by changing such parameters. In contrast, adding up time series of temperature and precipitation and pressure as a function of latitude and longitude, seasonal cycles, surface radiation balance, ocean heat storage, ENSO events, past climates, and vertical structure, there are literally thousands of observational constraints involved in the evaluation of model behavior.

There are so many bizarre statements in the Fraser Institute report that some of us think that spotting them could serve as a good final exam in an elementary course on climate change. Take your pick. The report states that “The IPCC gives limited consideration to aerosols …” whereas aerosols have been a key part of the scenarios since the Second Assessment Report, were the key to explaining the interrupted mid-century warming, and cannot in any way be mangled so as to spuriously give the warming of the past decades. The ISPM regales us with tales of natural global warming in the distant past, without pointing out that these happened over millions of years, had often massive consequences nonetheless, and were linked to processes like continental drift which are unlikely to be part of the explanation of the recent warming. The Fraser report describes the climate changes of the past century as “minor” (a value-laden and subjective term if ever there was one), failing to realize that climate change so far has been the fire alarm, not the fire. The climate of 2100 is not forecast to be mild.

We could go on, but why bother? We’ll leave off with a quote. “most places have observed slight increases in rain and/or snow cover”

Actually, consulting the draft of Chapter 4, snow cover kinda looks likes it’s been decreasing, not increasing. But take a look at the artful use of “and/or”. The sentence is not “formally” wrong. Superb! When you hear “ISPM,” just think “Incorrect Summary for Policymakers.”

Note: In the interests of timeliness, this commentary has been based on a January 8 draft of the “ISPM” which was leaked to us. If the final released version differs substantively from what we have seen so far, the changes (for better or worse) will be discussed in the comments.


176 Responses to “Fraser Institute fires off a damp squib”

  1. 101
    tamino says:

    Re: #94

    Moderators, anybody else, feel free to chime in with any corrections or improvements.

    “Question: What is the mechanism that causes the transfer of energy from GHGs(which capture IR energy in certain bands) to non-GHGs(which are transparent to IR photons) in the atmosphere?

    Collision. One of the principal ways for vibrationally and rotationally excited molecules to transfer energy to other molecules in a gas is through the exchange of energy during collisions.

    Sunlight striking the earth causes it to re-radiate energy mostly in the IR band.

    Not so. It’s the fact that earth is at a temperature above absolute zero that causes it to radiate. Earth’s surface continues to radiate (mostly IR) energy even at night.

    This energy is absorbed by GHGs’ molecular bonds causing vibrations in the bonds. Temperature is solely caused by translational energy, not internal energy of molecules.

    Not so. Temperature is the average energy per mode of the physical system. That includes all the modes; if you add energy to any of them (translational, rotational, vibrational, or even to the radiation field itself) you have raised the temperature. A vast array of energy transfer mechanisms will soon distribute the energy evenly among all the modes (as long as their energy levels are “within reach” of the available energy), raising the translational energy as well.

    The absorbed IR in the GHG is then re-radiated at the same frequency and either escapes earth or is re-absorbed by another GHG molecule.

    Not so, it can do other things as well. It can be transferred to other atmospheric molecules through collisions. It can also be re-radiated, and rather than being reabsorbed by other GHG molecules or escaping to space, it can be absorbed by earth itself, warming the surface.

  2. 102
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 84, 96
    > You ask where did I get my understanding that the Fraser
    > Institute has prepared a summary of the IPCC 4AR itself?
    >
    > The first paragraph of the FI ISPM states:.. draft report.

    Okay, so you know you were wrong about that. Now, you’re probably aware that to obtain a copy of one of the drafts, people agreed not to distribute it or discuss it, but to submit comments to the working group.

    Can you find out who claims to have broken that agreement, which of the old drafts they claim to be commenting on, and tell us why you trust them to be telling the truth?

    The notion of nitpicking their comments — based on their own word on a text claimed to be someone’s old draft — against the summary of the actual document, seems pointless.

    Where in Oceania is Berkley, by the way?

  3. 103
  4. 104

    re #90, #97:

    models are trained on historical data to reproduce the same data

    This requires more specificity. Which models?

    GCMs are not, in fact trained at all. They are manually tuned to observations. Some people, myself among them, are working toward the goal of more formal objective tuning. This was until recently infeasible in the case of CGCMs because of computational cost. Even if we succeed, there is only a plan to tune to statistics, not to trends.

    If anyone were to train a system on a given result and then uses its reproduction of that result as a prediction or a validation, of course such a claim is invalid.

    Waving in this general direction proves nothing. Do you have any specific instances in mind? (Such an instance can have nothing to do with GCMs because they have not been trained this way.)

    From a basis of physical plausibility, for starters, the models are solving equations that cannot be derived from first principles. Bi-harmonic diffusion is a numerical trick invented by the modelers to insure that the energy cascade be more plausible. The application involves additional boundary conditions that cannot be justified.

    It is of course the case that every numerical model is a bag of tricks. In some cases of numerical modeling there is a theory that more or less constrains the model error with respect to the formal theory. We don’t have that luxury in environmental sciences, and probably never will. You could even argue that we will never have a formal theory of much utility. The system is just too messy.

    There is no formal mathematical justification of weather models any more than there is of climate models, yet we rely on weather models every day. The justification is only heuristic.

    Can the models be “trusted”? That is a misframed question. The question of “trust” is manipulative, both in its emotional baggage and in its binary answer.

    There are two questions that do make sense in this area. The first question is whether we should refrain from climate modeling at all. There seems to be little justification for that. The second question is, having built the models, how much weight we should put on their output in planning future actions. That replaces the yes/no question of “trust” with a more realistic question of weighing evidence.

    If the model output were wholly out of line with theoretical and observational evidence, the amount of weight to put on them would be relatively small. Given that this is not the case, given that the models have even revealed errors in the observations on occasion (most notably in the middle atmosphere temperature trend), given that the last fifteen years were prognosed reasonably well, it seems that the weight of modeling evidence should be considered nontrivial.

    What bothers me most is that those who have the least faith in the models are so often the same as those who advocate against vigorous greenhouse gas mitigation. This makes no sense without a claim that the models are explicitly biased.

    If the predictions are unbiased, an underestimate of the sensitivity of the system is as likely as an overestimate. The cost weighting of the more sensitive system would drive decision-making in the direction of more vigorous policy. If you don’t believe the science, you have no useful constraints on how bad things could get.

    Speaking of rigor, any claim that the models are intrinsically biased has always come form the vaguest, most handwaving and implausible arguments. As has been explained here regularly, there is no actual motivation in the climate science community to recommend more or less vigorous energy policy. Climate science will always be important and interesting. We don’t need to trump up a crisis to get funded. If anything the air of controversy harms our interests. The community has both socially and politically conservative roots. (The main customers of meteorology are military and agricultural, and the main customers of climatology are geologists and through them mineral interests.) The founders of the field would not have started a scare in the way that some people desperately want to believe. All of this sort of misses an important technical point. It’s never explained how one can embody one’s conscious or unconscious political bias in a system of primitive equations. I suggest you give it a try before glibly claiming that it is an easy trick.

    There is at present no substantive quantitative argument, whether based on a claim of investigator bias or otherwise, that claims to explain why all the models (and all the corroborating evidence) should overstate the greenhouse gas sensitivity.

    But, unless the models, and the rest of science, are biased toward high sensitivity because of systematic errors in math and physics, the less confidence in the science you have, the greater risk you face, and the more vigorous of a mitigation policy stance you should adopt on a risk/benefit basis. Claiming the models are “incorrect” is insufficient.

  5. 105
    Dan says:

    re: 86. To concerned of berkely:

    My sincerest apologies. My comment (82) was in direct response to comment *81* and not to yours. I do not know why I typed “re: 77″. Typo.

  6. 106
    Ike Solem says:

    RE#104,
    Just to clarify, my comment #97 was addressed towards those climate contrarians who claim that model parameterizations that are used to address sub-grid scale phenomena (i.e. clouds, wind-sea surface interactions, etc.) are artificially adjusted to match historical datasets and thus have little future predictive ability – and the best response seems to be to go back and look at what the models were predicting some decades ago, and compare that to current observations – which is why having a comprehensive set of good observations is so important – which is why the low level of funding for satellite- and ocean-based sensors is such a travesty. (though the predictions seem to be on target so far)

    It seems more likely that the models will underestimate rather then overestimate the climate sensitivity over the long run, due to things that are not included in them. Again, the IPCC report gives hints of this problem: (from pg 11)

    Models used to date do not include uncertainties in climate-carbon cycle feedback nor do they include the full effects of changes in ice sheet flow, because a basis in published literature is lacking. The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica at the rates observed for 1993-2003, but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future. For example, if this contribution were to grow linearly with global average temperature change, the upper ranges of sea level rise for SRES scenarios shown in Table SPM-2 would increase by 0.1 m to 0.2 m. Larger values cannot be excluded, but understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood or provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea level rise.

    However, consider the recent acceleration of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. For news reports on this issue, see
    Why the news about warming is worse than we thought: feedback – Oceans, soil and trees will become worse at absorbing carbon dioxide as temperatures rise, Ian sample, Guardian Feb 3 2007

    The growth rate in CO2 for 2006 was 2.6ppm/year; previous growth rates reported in the IPCC were 1.4 and 1.9 ppm/year.
    Surge in carbon levels raises fears of runaway warming, David Adam, The Guardian, Jan 19, 2007

  7. 107
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re: 94 Not to flog a fully tenderized horse filet, but if temperature were purely a “translational” phenomenon, then every substance would have a the same specific heat–3/2*k–so clearly there’s mort to it thay you are seeing. One must also consider translational and rotational degrees of freedom, and these can and do exchange energy with translational degrees of freedom. Don’t believe me? Consider the inverse process–can a moving molecule excite a vibrational or rotational mode in another molecule. Clearly yes.

  8. 108
    Doug Clover says:

    re 101

    Thanks for that Tamino

    Love your site and I am looking forward to your blog on GCRs

    Cheers Doug

  9. 109
    Ike Solem says:

    RE#101,
    Thanks, tamino, for that clear explanation. I’d be interested to hear your take on water vapor and phase changes, i.e. when water evaporates at the warm tropical sea surface and is transported polewards by the atmospheric wind patterns in vapor form, and then condenses at high latitudes as rain, releasing heat to the surroundings.

    I suppose the question is what happens as the water molecule leaves the liquid phase for the vapor phase (meaning it acquires some energy) and then goes back to the liquid phase (releasing some energy) but I’ve never quite understood exactly what is going on there.

    See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070131204349.htm for some rather amazing pictures of the distribution of heavy and light water in the atmosphere and links to the tropospheric emission spectrometer at JPL.

  10. 110
    John D. says:

    I just realized that I’m on the wrong site. Can someone direct me to a site that has information regarding long and short range future planning that will deal with the logistical nightmare of post-flood population dispersal due to lesser global land mass, clearing the flooded coastal lands of man-made structure and relocating all of the planets shipping and transportation ports?

    While some continue to banter about the causes, many others wish to get on with setting a path of rediness so your children and grandchildren will be able to adapt to what you say is coming. Remember the words to the song “So you better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a changin’”

    For those of you who are against large multi-national corporations, they will be the ones that will be stepping up to the plate to do a lot of the reparations and re-construction on the planet in the coming years, and yes, it will come at a price that will stagger the imagination. Where do you relocate the people and jobs from all the major cities of the world that are the hubs of commerce and trade in most countries?

    Many of you in this forum are very well educated and can figure out the problems, now try and work out answers that will keep your family warm, fed and secure by means other than trying to find a foolhardy solution to keep the climate the way it was when you were growing up. “For the times they are a ……….”

  11. 111
    concerned of berkely says:

    Re #102: Thanks Hank for your comments. In fact, I am just a lay member of the public, and I have no idea what the answer is to your questions re the IPCC Drafts.

    I would note, however, that it is decidedly odd practice for the IPCC to release on 2 February an SPM of a document that won’t be released until 7 May. That means that those of us who are interested in such matters have no option but to rely on the interpretations provided to us by those preparing the summaries.

    Given the questions raised into the obvious differences in emphasis between the SPM of TAR and the body of that document, is it surprising that we the people are somewhat suspicious of the IPCC SPM? And especially when we are not given access to the body of the report.

    Under these circumstances, as a lay person, I find it very useful that I have access to an Independent Summary for Policy Makers that gives a somewhat different perspective on the SAME underlying scientific information.

    I would have thought that rather than conduct a witchhunt into how the Fraser Institute were able to access a draft, a better line of questioning would be to compare the two documents line by line, and seek explanations as to why they may differ, if they do.

    Alternatively, the IPCC should release the body of 4AR now, and let us do our own reading and draw our own conclusions.

    My real concern here is actually that I am concerned for the future of my grandchildren. And I want action taken. However, it must be appropriate action, commensurate with the real threats that my grandchildren will face. I am sadly disillusioned, as someone gravely concerned with AGW, at the very significant loss of credibility suffered by climate scientists through their well documented unwillingness to comply with sound scientific practice (NAS Panel, Wegman, P Jones’ refusal to disclose data etc). This loss of credibility is giving the sceptics a field day, and the policy makers a perfect excuse to delay taking any action.

    What we need is sound, objective, calm and rational science; to eliminate alarmism from the headlines of the newspapers; and to focus on the real issues of major concern.

    Claiming that we know how the earth’s climate works to an unlikely level of certainty is a major factor in the loss of credibility faced by climate scientists. The reality is that there is much that we don’t know. We would all be better off if we faced up to that fact.

  12. 112

    [[What he meant -- obviously -- is that a person, ANY person, can check against known data to see whether a parameter is realistic or not.

    ANY?! Including you, for example? Do me a favor then: please check whether 10^2 m^s/s is a realistic value for lateral diffusion? Is it more or less realistic than 2.10^2 m^s/s? ]]

    What the hell does “m^s/s” mean? Meters to the seconds power over seconds?

  13. 113
    Hugh says:

    #112

    Barton I assume s/he means a unit of acceleration i.e. metres per second per second

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metres_per_second_squared

  14. 114
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #95, #112, #113

    m^2/s (= metres squared per second) is the unit of the diffusion constant in Fick’s Law.

    In principle it must be admitted that Sashka has a point: for an ordinary person it is very hard to check anything. There are some “constants of nature” I could determine myself (for example that g is approximately 10 m/s^2), but for most of them it is simply impossible to do such a thing without sophisticated equipment.

    However in reality this is not such a big problem, because most constants have been measured by many other people (and used by even more, errors would have shown up if values were off). Therefore I may safely rely on handbook values of -say- the viscosity of air, even though I never did the experiment myself.

    Things are a bit more difficult with numbers used in model parameterisations (these cannot be measured directly), but as has been remarked here before, this does not mean that you can use just any number you like to make your results fit reality, there are certain physical bounds.

    To avoid human bias in parameter values, in the ClimatePrediction experiment many different sets of 20 parameterisation constants are tested. In later simulations, a weighed average of these constant will be used, depending on how well each set reproduced measured atmospheric behaviour (somebody correct me if my understanding is wrong).

    In conclusion then, the objection that we cannot check things personally is mainly a theoretical one.

  15. 115
    Sashka says:

    Re: 114

    However in reality this is not such a big problem, because most constants have been measured by many other people (and used by even more, errors would have shown up if values were off). Therefore I may safely rely on handbook values of -say- the viscosity of air, even though I never did the experiment myself.

    Not at all. You are confusing true physical constants (e.g. molecular viscosity of water) with parameterizations used in GCMs. The latter are no more than fudge factors that supposedly represent sub-grid processes. Therefore they cannot be measured in principle. They are certainly scale dependent and model-dependent as well.

    To avoid human bias in parameter values, in the ClimatePrediction experiment many different sets of 20 parameterisation constants are tested.

    As I pointed out above, the true size of the parameter space is so large that only small part of it can be realistically tested.

    the objection that we cannot check things personally is mainly a theoretical one

    That wasn’t an objection as such. It was merely a reply to an obviously misguided claim.

  16. 116
    Sashka says:

    Re: 103

    The paper that you linked doesn’t even contain the word subsidy. Why did you link it?

  17. 117
    Sashka says:

    Re: 99

    We are discussing science here. Ostensibly, this is the porpose of this forum. Scientific discourse naturally involves asking and answering questions. Those who present the research get the answering part. Those who have doubts are entitled to challenge the findings but are not required to present competing research. This is how it works, including peer-review process that many on this forum like so much.

  18. 118
    Sashka says:

    Re: 112

    I already corrected myself in 100 above. The units are m^2/s. Sorry about it.

  19. 119
    Sashka says:

    Re: 106

    Just to clarify, my comment #97 was addressed towards those climate contrarians who claim that model parameterizations that are used to address sub-grid scale phenomena (i.e. clouds, wind-sea surface interactions, etc.) are artificially adjusted to match historical datasets and thus have little future predictive ability – and the best response seems to be to go back and look at what the models were predicting some decades ago

    First of all, there is nothing artificial about it. Fitting to observations is a natural part of model development process. Second, you simply cannot go back some decades ago: most of the models didn’t exist even 20-25 years ago; those that did exist ran on much slower computers which necessitated much coarser resolution which, in turn, required different parameterizations (certainly, different coefficients); other parameterizations have been greatly refined over the years, etc.

  20. 120

    [[In principle it must be admitted that Sashka has a point: for an ordinary person it is very hard to check anything. There are some "constants of nature" I could determine myself (for example that g is approximately 10 m/s^2), but for most of them it is simply impossible to do such a thing without sophisticated equipment.]]

    All right, consider my statement amended — it is possible for anyone in the field to independently look up what measured values are available, and probably a lot of people outside the field. Sashka originally accused Ray of saying climate modelers had an innate “ability” to tell the parameters were right, which is not what he said at all. As usual, Sashka has managed to turn things around so that everybody else is the bad guy.

  21. 121

    [[The paper that you linked doesn't even contain the word subsidy. Why did you link it? ]]

    No, Sashka, you know why I indicated that paper and I know. Your contention that fossil fuels receive no subsidies in the United States is egregiously wrong, I and others here proved it was wrong, but you just keep poking at people. [edit]

  22. 122
    Sashka says:

    Re: 104

    Michael, you spent a lot of effort arguing with an imaginary opponent. I stated explicitly that I don’t have a view on the sign of the model bias. I was saying that there is a possibility that the bias exists.

    GCMs are not, in fact trained at all. They are manually tuned to observations.

    What is the practical difference in the context of this conversation?

    Waving in this general direction proves nothing. Do you have any specific instances in mind?

    And what if I did? Quite recently, to back up my claim, I provided Gavin with the names of players in a certain unpleasant incident involving a GCM model. Was it acknowledged on these pages?

    It is of course the case that every numerical model is a bag of tricks.

    It goes without saying for you or me but not for everyone. Far from that. I’ve been screamed at in this blog for saying exactly the same thing. Then there are tricks and TRICKS. Changing the equations at will and imposing unphysical boundary conditions is a bad trick (in my book), especially if such a trick is used to predict something.

    given that the last fifteen years were prognosed reasonably well, it seems that the weight of modeling evidence should be considered nontrivial.

    You mean there’s a paper published in 1991 where the path of temperature changes is well predicted for 1991-2006?

    Speaking of rigor, any claim that the models are intrinsically biased has always come form the vaguest, most handwaving and implausible arguments

    OK: I’m saying there could be another set of parameters (plausible: the space of possible values is huge) that could do as good a job, or better, for the past and produce something different in the future. Is it vague?

    there is no actual motivation in the climate science community to recommend more or less vigorous energy policy

    There is no “material” motivation. The motivation is mainly ideological, IMHO.

    [Response:Hold on here. I did not mention the incident you pointed out to me because I haven't verified that it occured or what the exact circumstances were. I wasn't aware this was some sort of test (because if it was, forget it, I have better things to do with my time). On the substance of this discussion, GCMs are not tuned (manually or otherwise) to match the 20th Century variability. These hindcasts are true 'out-of-sample' tests. The 'tuning' that does occur is for control runs with fixed forcings and matches to climatological means, seasonal variations and intrinsic variability are done (See Schmidt et al , 2006 for instance). We only did one set of runs for the 20th Century and those were submitted to IPCC AR4 and written up in Hansen et al, 2007a+b. We certainaly did not go back a fix forcings in order to get better matches. However, as we stated in Hansen et al 2005, the best we can do is state that our simulations offer a consistent match to the observations, we cannot assess whether a differently tuned model with different (but still plausible) forincgs would have produced as good a match. Given that most inputs and tunings are independently arrived at (i.e. solar forcings come from Lean, volcanic from Sato, aerosols from Koch etc.) the chances that the good matches are a coincidence is very small. - gavin]

  23. 123
    Sashka says:

    Re: 121

    you know why I indicated that paper and I know

    No I don’t. Please quote specifically.

    But I’m confused. The link in 103 was published by Hank Roberts. Are you and him the same person? You two sure talk as if you were the same guy. But what’s the point of using multiple identities if you confess it?

    BTW, you never made it clear re normal distributions See 98 above.

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 103, 116, 121
    Barton, in 116, Sashka was saying he or she didn’t read the paper and search list I suggested, that time, saying the one PDF I put at the top “doesn’t even contain the word subsidy” …

    Sashka, A Google search will get you a starting point, but we’re all at the same level here as readers; we can’t be expected to read everything and give you a complete summary ready to hand in. Work on your part is required to read and understand.

    Similarly, when you post assertions and beliefs without sources, you appear to expect us to find support for them for you. This fails as a tactic.*

    But, a bit more help:

    Consider — just as one example, not the best answer, so you can’t just copy and paste — this section of the paper. You have to read the documents the search takes you to, and understand them.

    —- snipped from the first PDF suggested, the Energy Act article —

    Coal � Title IV
    Clean Power Initiative: The bill establishes the parameters of a new clean coal technology program, co-funded by the government and industry. The bill authorizes $200 million annually for fiscal years 2006 through 2014 for the initiative. It specifically requires that 70% of the funds for any project be used for coal gasification or other advanced technologies that produce a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide. $125 million is authorized for an experimental cleancoal plant as well as loan guarantees for various demonstration projects. (Subtitles A and B)
    This program is subject to appropriation, but given the support for coal in the Congress and the Administration it will likely be well funded.

    Nuclear Energy and Related Issues (Title VI)
    Insurance: The Price Anderson Act limiting liability for nuclear power-plant accidents is reauthorized through 2025. The law requires nuclear plant operators to purchase insurance for up to $10 billion in damages with the federal government responsible for any additional
    damages. (Subtitle A)

    —— end of snippet —–

    OK? this is an _example_ from _one_ of the papers on the long list I found for you that (among other subjects) discuss governments’ subsidies to the energy industries.

    Read. Enjoy.
    ———
    *See also: How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
    Eric Steven Raymond. “… The second version of the question is smart. It allows an answer that suggests a tool better …”
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

  25. 125
    Sashka says:

    Re: 120

    Ray is more than able to defend and explain himself. He doesn’t need your help and he shows it often. For lack of comment from him I will consider my interpretation correct.

  26. 126
    Petro says:

    Sashka,
    many here are discussing science. Your approach resembles sophistry. You raise doubts on issues in climate science, which you could get from the basic textbooks. Would you like to take some time to go through them? No amount of questioning here educates you, if you are not willing to do work to grasp basics.

    In science the one who challenges the consensus view has the burden of proof. Without any experimental evidence even the most clever theory bites dust. Here, the leading experts in the field produce and explain the experiments justifying the theory on the current and future state of the climate.

    Some of your questions has been explained painstakingly again and again here, it should not be a problem for a scientific educated person to get the picture. At least I get the impression, you still think that there is serious discussion going on the causes for the recent global warming within the domain of science. Have I got a wrong impression?

    Do you doubt similarly the results of other sciences like biology, medical sciences and chemistry? Or is your sceptical attitude restricted to climate science only?

  27. 127
    Sashka says:

    Re: 124

    Yeah, I’ve read the coal paragraph. So? The gov-t wants to invest money to develop cleaner coal-burning technologies. Fair enough. It’s for the common good, not specifically in the interests of coal-burners. There’s no subsidy involved.

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    Barton, I’m sure I’ve seen graphics showing how a lot of different people’s attempts to produce probability distribution functions for climate sensitivity look, when overlapped. Each of course is a curve, maybe a bell curve, usually a curve with a peak on the low end and a long tail on the high end, because nobody’s found anything in the physics to suggest adding excess CO2 by burning fossil fuels will cause cooling.

    The point you’re making is that most people’s estimates of climate sensitivity risk are in the same ballpark, with fewer and fewer toward the extremes — that’s speaking now of how the _estimates_ are distributed, not speaking about the curve from any given estimate.

    And how people’s estimates are distributed may be if not a ‘normal’ (bell) curve something close to one. As you said originally, you were saying what you thought was likely. I agree, a lot of different people come up with estimates, from a lot of different models — and all still come in around the same figure, depending on what’s in their models.

    But I can’t recall where I’ve seen the pictures for that. James Annan might be the one to ask or may have it on one of his pages already, since I think I recall the various estimates others have made cluster around his correct one, with a few outliers (tip o’ the hat to Dr. A)

    In other possibly related work I found this abstract; I don’t have the full article or graphics, just the online page here:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/103/35/13116

    “We quantify the risks of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes during the 21st century by forcing a dynamic global vegetation model with multiple scenarios from 16 climate models and mapping the proportions of model runs showing forest/nonforest shifts or exceedance of natural variability in wildfire frequency and freshwater supply. Our analysis does not assign probabilities to scenarios or weights to models. Instead, we consider distribution of outcomes within three sets of model runs grouped by the amount of global warming they simulate: <2°C (including simulations in which atmospheric composition is held constant, i.e., in which the only climate change is due to greenhouse gases already emitted), 2-3°C, and >3°C. …”

  29. 129
    Sashka says:

    Re: 122

    Gavin – no, it wasn’t a test. But, if you remember, you told me that, essentially, my claim is worthless unless I can prove it. I gave you everything you need to verify what I said. You don’t have to go all the way and actually make phone calls: I realize that you are busy. However if say it publicly that you don’t trust me then I suppose simple courtesy requires that you at least acknowledge that I at least tried to prove myself right. In short, for me it’s a matter of honor, not a test for you. I don’t like it when my words are doubted.

    the best we can do is state that our simulations offer a consistent match to the observations, we cannot assess whether a differently tuned model with different (but still plausible) forincgs would have produced as good a match.

    Change “forincgs” to “parameterizations” and you would be making exactly the same point as mine.

  30. 130
    tom says:

    well, if you’re going to take them to task for accurcay, you should make sure you’re accurate.

    You said they said”..and that the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) was written by politicians (no it wasn’t – the clue is in the name). ”

    That’s balatantly false. They said it was written by POLICY MAKERS.

    [Response: It was written FOR policy-makers. The authors were the scientists involved who recieved input and comments from the policy makers so that everyone was clear about what was being said and why. See our previous post for details. - gavin]

  31. 131
    Dan says:

    re: No, it is not “balatantly” (sic) inaccurate or false. Policy makers are politicians in various forms and vice versa. But that point is a classic diversion from the issue. The summary was not written by policy makers/politicians; it was written by scientists. It is not difficult to do a Google Scholar search on various scientist’s names.

  32. 132
    Petro says:

    I asked:
    “At least I get the impression, you still think that there is serious discussion going on the causes for the recent global warming within the domain of science. Have I got a wrong impression?”

    Sashka:
    “Yes you have. I suggest that you try to read carefully before commenting. Otherwise you are wasting your time and mine.”

    Great, point taken. It is your sophistic style, which makes your arguments not too different for the climate change deniers. Since you worry about wasting time, with less arrogant approach you might produce less noise here.

    Regarding the models, their parameters and biases nothing prevents you to test them on your own and develop better ones. I am happy with the explanations presented here, but I do realize to fully understand them, it needs hours of reading and searching for the sources as well. That is the laborous part in science which is by no means compensated by asking dozens questions a day.

  33. 133

    [[Yeah, I've read the coal paragraph. So? The gov-t wants to invest money to develop cleaner coal-burning technologies. Fair enough. It's for the common good, not specifically in the interests of coal-burners. There's no subsidy involved. ]]

    Oh, great. You redefine your way out of the problem. Reminds me of “that’s not really a transitional fossil.” The scraping sound in the background is the sound of goalposts being moved.

  34. 134

    Hank — thanks for your comments on distribution, which I basically agree with. For what it’s worth, I’ve accumulated 61 estimates of the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity from the professional literature in the last couple of days. As long as it appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, I took it, so the sample includes some outrageous ones like those of Idso and Lindzen, and on the other end, Fritz Moller. But, aside from a gap in the middle, when I draw a histogram I get something very close to a bell curve. Considering the sample size, I suspect it can’t be considered statistically different from one. I intend to write all this stuff up and put it in a paper. :)

  35. 135
    Dan says:

    RE: 137. And yet when numerous responses and links to various science journals, articles, and reports have been provided in response to your questions, you generally move on to another question with little acknowledgement of reading, learning or comprehension from the peer-reviewed information provided. Several people have pointed this out. If you do not take the time to research and comprehend the answers to questions from information provided here or through searches such as Google Scholar, how can you learn about the science? Being skeptical of any initial information is fine but when you one begins to question literally thousands of experts out of ones area of expertise, one has to wonder what the motive is. And clearly there is one and it does not appear to be learning about the science.

  36. 136
    Sashka says:

    Re: 138

    Quite the opposite. I am using the common definition:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidy

    In economics, a subsidy is a kind of financial government assistance, such as a grant, tax break, or trade barrier, in order to encourage the production or purchase of a good.

    In this case, the industry didn’t need any assistance. They could continue producing the “dirty” power the old way just fine. It’s the government that want’s to change the way coal-based power is generated.

  37. 137
    Dan says:

    re: 144. I was not limiting my comment to this particular thread. However, just in this thread there are references to Google Scholar links where you can read peer-reviewed information specifically about the questions you ask.

    One simple example of your apparently moving on with no acknowledgment of the facts after you’ve been provided information in response to your query about the SPM authors: Did you check out the credentials of the SPM report authors listed in post 48 which specifically answers your post 44? If not, why did you ask the question? If you did, what did you learn?

    As pointed out in post 85, you can take many of your queries and put them in a Google or Google Scholar search and get the precise information you seemingly ask for.

  38. 138
    Michael J says:

    Well, I am a lowly PhD in Meteorology and as an interested observer, I find Sashka very capable of defending himself on the Science. Some of the questions and comments to him have very little to do with Science however and are better left unsaid. I would suggest some of you who lack a scientific background to stay out of this discussion to avoid looking foolish

  39. 139
    Gavin says:

    I have deleted a bunch of comments and responses that did not add anything to the substantive discussion (the comment numbers might be a bit messed up near the end). You all therefore have another chance to talk civilly to each other. Either discuss real issues (preferably with references) or don’t bother.

  40. 140

    I try not to speak for Ray, but based on a hallway conversation with him just a few minutes ago I will venture that the interpretation in #125 is incorrect.

    As for me, I think there is some intrinsic value to my posting #104 that Sashka is avoiding or obfuscating in his #122.

    The only thing remotely relevant to the thrust of my argument is this exchange:


    me: given that the last fifteen years were prognosed reasonably well, it seems that the weight of modeling evidence should be considered nontrivial.

    S: You mean there’s a paper published in 1991 where the path of temperature changes is well predicted for 1991-2006?

    I refer you to the SPM:

    - Since IPCC’s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global averaged temperature increases between about 0.15 and 0.3°C per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values
    of about 0.2°C per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections. {1.2, 3.2}

    The first order spatial patterns are also consistent with the predictions ca. 1990.

    Since I think what I am saying has more importance than just an argument with a naysayer, I summarize:

    1) If the science is inaccurate but unbiased, this should weigh in favor of stronger rather than milder mitigation efforts. I have been making this point for a long time and I think it is not generally recognized or addressed. It is necessary for an argument against vigorous mitigation to have a very strong argument that the science is biased toward excessive sensitivity.

    2) No such strong argument exists. If the scientific community is biased, it is unclear even in which direction the bias lies. This being the case, the less confidence you have in the science, the stronger should be your support for mitigation.

    3) If you think the scientific community is biased, it is unclear how this bias can express itself in a model. The system is too complicated to have a simple sensitivity knob. Furthermore, various streams of evidence seem to be converging on a value for gross sensitivity. This isn’t the sort of problem where experimenter bias can easily express itself. If you argue fairly against mitigation on the grounds science is weak, you actually need to identify a deep and fundamental pattern of errors in both physics and observation, whether bias is involved or not.

    4) There is at present no viable alternative candidate theory, and the chances of such an alternative emerging decline rapidly as the predictive value of the existing body of thought continues to be validated by experience.

    Finally, regarding the outrageous claim in #125:

    An individual investigator’s lack of reply to a particular point does not constitute a concession. Serious scientists, especially those as busy and productive as Ray, will lose the last word to a filibuster technique, but losing the last word does not constitute a concession. Claims to that effect are wrong in substance, wrong in method, and wrong as a matter of simple justice.

  41. 141
    Hank Roberts says:

    Interesting book recommendation (all I have is the pointer) here:
    The Finance of Climate Change
    A Guide for Governments, Corporations and Investors
    Edited by Kenny Tang
    Publisher’s page here:
    http://db.riskwaters.com/public/showPage.html?page=book_page&tempPageName=292262

    I found this book recommended on a “Quantitative Finance” (investment banker?) website, in what for their purposes is called an “Off Topic” section. Thread is titled:
    Global Warming – Impacts, Vulnerability, Adaptation
    http://www.wilmott.com/messageview.cfm?catid=15&threadid=29917&FTVAR_MSGDBTABLE=&STARTPAGE=6

    Overall it’s encouraging. Can’t be sure who’s who, of course, but arguments are familiar; they’ve rounded up the usual suspects.

  42. 142
    Sashka says:

    Re: 140

    I may have misinterpreted what Ray meant by that. However, since he has voluntarily taken the role of moderator in this blog, I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable of me to expect that he clarify the issue.

    Back to 15 years forecast, I hope you’d agree that the shorter the time period the harder it is to separate the trend from noise. Just connecting the two end points and declaring the forecast successful doesn’t do the trick, as far as I’m concerned. Gavin published reconstructions where not only the “trend” but the actual path of global mean temp was more or less satisfactorily reproduced. The successful forecast should be doing the same for the future. For lack of such work I believe it’s fair to say that the jury is still out.

    You can call me a naysayer or what have you but I’m in general agreement with your points 3-4. Even though I think that the models are biased I don’t know which way and it is most likely not by intention. The sensitivity buttons, of course, exist, e.g. cloud or oceanic water albedo but I don’t suppose this is what you had in mind. I disagree with points 1-2 only because I believe a better economic analysis is needed to justify vigorous mitigation. Moreover, nothing that is on the table today remotely qualifies as vigorous.

  43. 143
    Sashka says:

    Re: 138

    Thanks, Michael!

    I’m not at all surprised by the vicious ad homs – I’m used to it and it doesn’t bother me. The fascinating part is that none of these people can discern that I actually know what I’m talking about.

  44. 144
    Petro says:

    Sashka:

    To be specific, your style resembles that of the creationists use in scientifically oriented blogs like Panda’s Thumb. That type of argumentation is not constructive at all and leads to the flame wars rapidly. Little wonder you receive boatful of ad hominems. You claim you know what you are talking about. Maybe by tuning down your rhetoric that would become obvious for the rest of us thus reducing the noise you abhor.

  45. 145
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #142: Sashka wrote “(…) I believe a better economic analysis is needed to justify vigorous mitigation. Moreover, nothing that is on the table today remotely qualifies as vigorous.” But of course the argument then becomes political rather than scientific. Please see my comment here.

  46. 146
    Ike Solem says:

    Hello Sashka,

    You aren’t making much sense. Let’s see – comment#79 : “I don’t doubt that the models are getting the mechanisms right. I don’t even doubt that they are getting the sign correctly: it will be warming, not cooling. But I do doubt the magnitude.”

    Well, since the models don’t include carbon-cycle climate feedbacks (warming land and oceans will likely absorb less carbon then the 1/2 of emissions they currently absorb) and since they don’t include ice-sheet dynamics, it’s likely they are underestimating the rate of warming and of sea level rise – by how much? Not sure, but it seems to point in that direction.

    But then you say in #90, “From a basis of physical plausibility, for starters, the models are solving equations that cannot be derived from first principles.”.

    Well, that’s clear evidence you don’t know what you’re talking about. Conservation of energy is an experimentally determined phenomenon, and is not ‘derived from first principles’. Looks like a rehash of the attack on the radiative-convective models we saw recently. In any case, you contradict your earlier statement in #79 about the mechanisms being right.

    Then you claim in #115 that the molecular viscosity of water is a physical constant. Perhaps you should look into this informative site on viscosity and temperature. Then you can look into the effect of salinity.

    Your use of jargon is disingenuous. From #79, “I’m curious whether GCMs still use bi-harmonic parameterization of lateral viscosity” – that’s easy to find out. In any case, for the general reader this is an issue in how ‘mesoscale eddies’ transport heat in the oceans – for example, the warm Gulf Stream mixes with the cold Labrador sea water of Newfoundland (the Grand Banks) via ‘eddy mixing’ – and since this is a small-scale phenomenon, the question is how to model it in the ocean. This is indeed studied in detail: see On the Mixing Coefficient in the Parameterization of Bolus Velocity, Kirk Bryana, John K. Dukowicz, and Richard D. Smith, (Princeton-Los Alamos) J. Physical Oceanography, Sept 1999.

    There’s one sentence from that paper that deserves a little emphasis: “The archived data have the disadvantage of being a rather short sample in time” – and why is it that I never, ever hear the contrarians calling for more funding for widespread data collection in the oceans? Dead silence on that particular issue, isn’t there?

    These attacks on parameterizations by contrarians also never include calls for funding for higher-resolution modeling studies either, do they?

    It’s also noticeable that in response to my comment #106, you cut off the end of the paragraph, where I said …which is why having a comprehensive set of good observations is so important – which is why the low level of funding for satellite- and ocean-based sensors is such a travesty. You also ignored the central point of my post, which was that once models incorporate ice dynamics and carbon cycle-climate feedbacks (melting permafrost, warming oceans, tropical forest drought, etc.) they’ll probably predict faster warming and sea level rise, though I have no idea what the actual magnitude would be.

    You can attack parameterizations until you are blue in the face, but the fact is they are not randomly chosen and fit based on historical datasets, but are instead developed through careful experiment and observation; for another example related to the atmospheric component, see Infrared Radiation Parameterizations for the Minor CO2 Bands and for Several CFC Bands in the Window Region, Kratz,Chou,Yan, Journal of Climate, 1993

    The lower-resolution models in the 1990s made good predictions of the current situation, according to the 2007 IPCC SPM: Since IPCC’s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global averaged temperature increases between about 0.15 and 0.3°C per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.2°C per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections.

    So, I think I’ve addressed all the scientific issues you raised, and I’ll discuss the issue of coal subsidies and coal technology in a separate post.

    However, I think I’ll pass on a discussion of your innuendos, slanders, and accusations of multiple identities, your failure to use your real name, your misrepresentations of the scientific process, your wounded ‘honor’, your claims that climate scientists are motivated by ‘ideology’, and the rest of it – let’s just stick to the science, shall we?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a long-standing interest in various forms of solar energy research (preceded by an MS in ocean sciences), but I think the science supports that viewpoint on multiple levels.

  47. 147
    Dan says:

    re:138. “I actually know what I’m talking about.” About climate science? That is your area of expertise as opposed to say, actual climate scientists/researchers? Hmmmm.

  48. 148
    raypierre says:

    From time to time in the above discussion, the question has been raised about the nature of US federal subsidies to the coal industry. Of course, it is very easy to find out about the nature of this by looking at some easily accessible sources. For a full picture, one would need to look into indirect subsidies (such as transport infrastructure that allows coal trains to get from where the coal is mined to where it is burned) but it really isn’t hard to find some cold hard cash moving around, both in the mining and the power production end of things. A good summary of some current and proposed federal subsidies can be found at http://www.taxpayer.net/greenscissors/LearnMore/senatefossilfuelsubsidies.htm , with specific citations to proposed energy bills in 2003. There are tax breaks like the coal depletion allowance, in place since 1936, the Mining Reclamation Deduction, and Capital gains treatment for coal royalties (840 million over 10 years all by itself). Senate Bill S.597 and S. 14 had 9.9 billion of new coal subsidies in them. (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to compare the proposed legislation with what came out of committee, ,and what eventually made it into law).

    At the state level, Illinois provides a good example. We may be a “blue state” but we’re also a “coal state.” Illinois has an active program of subsidy to the coal industry. This includes such things like the Coal Promotion program, an advertising and public relations campaign which is funded to the tune of about $20 million per year. That helps pay for things like the annual high school Coal Essay and Coal Calendar Art Contest (see http://www.commerce.state.il.us/dceo/Bureaus/Coal/Education/coal+calendar+contest.htm for information about latest winners). That’s small potatos, but Illinois also sells $2.7 billion of tax-exempt bonds (making it a federal subsidy, through the tax code) to subsidize the burning of high-sulfur Illinois coal. Illinois spends money directly through the Coal Competitiveness Program. You can read about some of this, and the involvement of government subsidies in the Prairie State so-called “clean coal” (it’s not — it’s just old style pulverized coal, really; maybe “less dirty” would be a better term) power plant at
    http://www.commerce.state.il.us/dceo/Bureaus/Coal/Education/coal+calendar+contest.htm

    It’s really trivially easy to get a fix on the nature of government involvement in the coal industry, as many have noted above. Anybody who keeps spinning their wheels with endless picayune objections to what information has been turned up is just trying to find excuses to avoid looking at looking at the substance of the matter. No need for people to take the bait and drag things on endlessly. Just discuss what’s actually interesting and important, and ignore what fails to advance the cause of understanding,

    Although it’s easy to find coal subsidies, I think direct subsidies and tax subsidies are beside the point with regard to coal. There should be a level playing field, but the main problem with coal is that it’s dirt cheap (in fact, cheaper than a lot of kinds of dirt). Even if you did strip away all the government market meddling, it would still be just about the cheapest way to make power. The reason is that the market mechanisms do not currently reflect the environmental damage of coal production and burning. Midwest Generation does not pay the emergency room bills for the asthma cases they cause in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. Coal power companies don’t pay for the damages due to mercury pollution in the Great Lakes. They don’t have to pay for the privilege of turning West Virginia mountains into elevated parking lots, and filling in once pristine trout streams with what is euphemistically called “borrow” (as if they’re ever going to give it back!). And of course, there’s all that CO2 to consider. These are what economists call “externalities,” and for the market to work properly, they have to be brought to table at the market. Most economists think carbon taxes would be the most efficient way to do this.

  49. 149
    Sashka says:

    Re: 145

    But of course the argument then becomes political rather than scientific.

    No question about it. Assessing the risk level is a scientific matter. Deciding what to do about it is a political decision.

  50. 150
    Sashka says:

    Re: 146

    You aren’t making much sense.

    I am. You just don’t get it.

    since the models don’t include carbon-cycle climate feedbacks (warming land and oceans will likely absorb less carbon then the 1/2 of emissions they currently absorb)

    David has co-authored a paper on GCM with carbon cycle. There may be more.

    since they don’t include ice-sheet dynamics, it’s likely they are underestimating the rate of warming and of sea level rise – by how much?

    If you can make a plausible argument that the lack of ice-sheet dynamics leads to an underestimation of warming – go right ahead.

    Well, that’s clear evidence you don’t know what you’re talking about. Conservation of energy is an experimentally determined phenomenon, and is not ‘derived from first principles’.

    Oh, my. Conservation of energy is not explicitly used in climate models but, of course, conservation of kinetic + potential + thermal energy is strictly enforced. I’ll rephrase my previous statement:

    From a basis of physical plausibility, for starters, the models are solving equations that cannot be derived from first principles nor represent any observed any experimentally determined phenomena. If you find it agreeable, can we stay on the subject as opposed to nitpicking?

    Your use of jargon is disingenuous.

    Why? This is a commonly used expression in this area of science.

    In any case, for the general reader this is an issue in how ‘mesoscale eddies’ transport heat in the oceans

    Almost. Make it “heat and momentum”.

    This is indeed studied in detail

    True, in the sense that there’s a lot of published literature, including the excellent paper that you have linked. However there still much to learn, as the final sentence would suggest to an attentive reader. To my knowledge, the effects on long term forecasts are not studied.

    To avoid future misunderstanigs: if I don’t respond to something you (or somebody else) say, it may be for one of the two reasons: (i) the comment is so ill-conceived that it doesn’t deserve a reply; (ii) I agree with what you say.

    In the case of your continued calls for extra-funding for expanded data collection, I actually agree with you so you can save your breath. Much of the rest falls in the other category, unfortunately.


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