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Quick pre-SPM round-up

Filed under: — group @ 1 February 2007

Tomorrow is the big day for all IPCC-watchers (and we’ll comment then) but in the meantime here are a few interesting tidbits floating around today.

First off, there are some curious patterns in the search engine. It turns out that it has been blocked from returning most results if the search phrase includes “global warming” – even if it’s from the President himself. For instance, searching for “issue of global” gives as top result the President’s Rose Garden speech in June 2001 on Global Climate Change, but searching for “issue of global warming” (which of course is the full phrase used) returns nothing. Hmmm…..

Secondly, Bill Nye (‘the underprepared science guy’) had a rather rough time of it up against Richard Lindzen on Larry King last night – an episode notable only for the regression back to the ‘false balance’ notion that most of the media has been moving away from (sigh…). However, tucked away at the end was a rather confused section, where it appears that Lindzen bet Nye that ice cores don’t have a resolution better than 2000 years. Now this is an odd claim, and an odder thing to bet on, since Greenland cores (GRIP, GISP2) and Antarctic cores (EPICA DML) have sub-annual resolution in many cases for the isotope (temperature) records, and at least decadal resolution (Law Dome, Siple Dome) for the greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4). It’s true that the very longest records (Vostok and Dome-C) have coarser resolution, but surely Lindzen doesn’t think they are the only ones that exist? So, to make up for Nye’s performance, he should at least get a quality bottle of scotch. Bill, let us know if Lindzen pays up!

Finally, there is an excellent article on the sausage making going on in Paris… more on that tomorrow.

93 Responses to “Quick pre-SPM round-up”

  1. 51
    Crust says:

    Dianne Fristrom (#27): I think you’re confused. Note that we are talking about searches for the phrase “global warming”. You searched for documents that contain the words “global” and “warming” which is a different animal. I am seeing the same results as described in the original post; they haven’t fixed this.

  2. 52
    Tom Adams says:

    The Office of the White House is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act:

    That probably foils my plan to investigate the censoring of “global warming” by requesting the code and configuraton files.

    I think that getting Congress to investigate is the best chance for getting to the bottom of this. Congress has oversight rights and responsibilities.

    I have contacted my congressman David Price and ask him get the matter investigated. Please contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to do the same, it is easy to send an email.

  3. 53
    Dan says:

    re: 50. Maybe we also know that broad ad hominem comments (“European decadent losers thst have no faith…”) are a very strong indicator of burying one’s head in the sand, a complete lack knowledge of the scientific process, a lack of knowledge of basic climate science and physics, and not understanding what consensus means? ;-)

  4. 54
    SecularAnimist says:

    Donald B Hagler quoted Prof. Robert H Essenhigh, Ohio State U: “… What is now needed is recognition of the futility of trying to control global warming by reduction of carbon dioxide (the Kyoto Protocol Objective) by fuel switching or carbon sequestration, to say nothing of the economic damage by pointless diversion of resources to those ends.”

    It is important to realize that the “economic damage” that Professor Essenhigh refers to is actually the transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other industrial sectors.

    Yesterday, Exxon-Mobil reported $39.5 billion in profits for 2006, the biggest profit ever recorded for a US corporation, surpassing the previous record of $36.13 billion — which was set by Exxon-Mobil in 2005. That is approximately $4.5 million per hour in profits. Exxon-Mobil’s revenue for 2006 was $377.64 billion, again surpassing the previous record revenue of $370.68 billion that Exxon-Mobil reported for the previous year.

    Exxon-Mobil produces about three percent of the world’s oil.

    Exxon-Mobil does not want the “economic damage” that would result from losing any of that revenue to conservation, efficiency, or other energy sources.

    For everyone else, however, measures to reduce fossil fuel use through conservation, efficiency and a migration to clean, renewable energy sources are an enormous economic opportunity — indeed, potentially a new industrial revolution that will not only address anthropogenic global warming but will benefit humanity in many other ways as well.

  5. 55
    AdrianJC says:

    I don’t think the search engine flaw is deliberate. Other exact phrase search terms fail to return as many results as a site specific Google search would. Try “faith based” and “Iraqi freedom”. Note the Whitehouse search is case sensitive whereas Google’s is not. “Global Warming” (note the capitalisation) returns over a hundred documents.

  6. 56
    Margo says:

    The search engine at the White House site is weird.

    If I search in quotes “global warming”– all lower case– I get 1 document. If I search “Global Warming” with the capitals, I get 102 documents. Bush’s June 2001 speech comes up first.

    The “Tips for better results” suggests using correct case. Notice that searching ‘president bush’ gives different results from “President Bush”. So I guess ‘the explanation’ could be related to capitalizing letters.

    FWIW, I think making default searches case sensitive is a bit silly and just makes searching more difficult most of the time.

  7. 57
    P. Lewis says:

    Re #48


    I am aware of the apples and pears angle, which is why the numbers of themselves are not particularly important. The percentages, which I (still) leave to the reader may (or may not) be instructive. But that wasn’t really the issue. I was making a sort of political comment (obviously too well hidden), along the lines of “the rest of the world appears to be out of step with the WH”, at least as far as Google is concerned.

    Moral: if you want to find out about “global warming”, don’t go to the WH. But most of us know that anyway. ;-)

  8. 58
    Sashka says:

    Re: 50

    Maybe we in the USA are really more sophisticated than European decadent losers that have no faith and believe only in so called “science”.

    Or maybe a large fraction of American population consists of undereducated people who believe that just because they own a computer they are qualified to share their bright ideas with the rest of the world.

  9. 59
    Tom Adams says:

    Re 56:

    Read the help file

    “Search terms in lowercase will match words in any case”

    “Don’t worry about missing a document because it doesn’t have one of the words in your search — your search returns relevant results even if they don’t contain all query terms”

  10. 60
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #25, great Michael. I also read about another anti-Crichton novel, FEAR OF STATE, but don’t remember the source.

  11. 61
    Robert Reiland says:

    Concerning #2. Years ago I documented 20 serious errors in a single half-hour Bill Nye program on momentum. For example, he completley confused energy and momentum at least once and also confused ineria with momentum. He may look exciting to the viewer, but, as a physics teacher, I can’t help being concerned about what people “learn” from watching his program.

  12. 62
    Margo says:

    Re: 59
    Do intergovernmental panel on climate change finalizes report. I get nothing.
    Now do
    “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Finalizes Report”

    Inside quote marks all lower caps does not find everthing relevant. You need to capitalize in whatever way the database happens to recognize.

    That said, it looks like some of the difficulties in finding “global warming” may be due to the search tool wanting to see “Global Warming”. Why it wants to see the two words in the phrase beginning with caps, I do not know. Clearly, the WH search engines is not up to Google’s standards.

  13. 63

    [[Maybe we in the USA have some common sense left and we know better than to listen to pseudo-scientists? Maybe we in the USA know that 0.5% of all of the CO2 produced in the world that humans produce has no meaning in the scheme of things? Maybe we in the USA are really more sophisticated than European decadent losers that have no faith and believe only in so called “science”? There is no consensus for the global warming in scientific society and you can take to the bank. ]]

    1. Humans have raised the ambient level of CO2 in the atmosphere more than 36% since 1750.

    2. Believing in the “science” is the proper thing to do when studying a scientific issue.

    3. There is a consensus that global warming is happening and that it’s anthropogenic.

  14. 64
    Mark says:

    Re #37: Actually, there is a large effort to distort and confuse the science of evolutionary biology. It’s called “intelligent design” and has been aptly called “creationism in a cheap tuxedo”. Certainly, this effort does not originate from big business/government, but the current president has supported the teaching of intelligent design.

  15. 65
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    Lindzen’s comment is a little misleading, that 2000 year resolution is not adequate to pick up spikes like the current CO2 spike because it’s not the sampling interval that’s important but the length of time that the sample represents. If several centuries of CO2 are collapsed into one reading, it is obvious that a blip like the current one will be missed.

    The answer is not to point to more recent higher resolution cores (with shorter sample times), because the IPCC report says 650,000 years so must include low resolution cores. The correct answer is to show that natural mechanisms cannot produce a blip like the one that will be missed in the older cores.

  16. 66
    AdrianJC says:

    Re: 62
    Clearly, the WH search engines is not up to Google’s standards.
    Also “no child” finds many documents related to Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative, but “child left” finds nothing. It only works when you capitalise the first letter of each word. So only certain choice lowercase strings will match exactly, such as “issue of global” but “global warming” unfortunately is not one of them.

  17. 67
    coby says:

    Based on some test cases from one of my commentors here:

    I have decided that the search engine thing is stupidity, not malice.

  18. 68
    Margo says:

    Re 67:
    “Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.”
    — Napoleon Bonaparte

    Who knew he was thinking of future white house web site search engines?

  19. 69
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re LINDZEN â?? NYE: Darth Vader jousts Mr. Rogers with rhetorical tricks. Lindzen KNEW Nye was talking about the thermohaline conveyor & confusing it with the Gulf Stream (as I did, before learning the distinction here on RC). Lindzen could have politely pointed out that mistake, then continued with discussion about Nye’s real meaning. (Though, as I understand it, a shut down of the THC may not be so dire for the North as depicted in DAY AFTER TOMORROW, due to the warming that would offset the cooling to some extent. So maybe it’s better to focus on how melted glaciers, droughts, floods, & pests will wreck havoc with agriculture.)

    Re MORRIS: Couldn’t they find an expert? Maybe someone like Stern, or one of his colleagues?

    Re INHOFE: Reducing GHGs by Kyotoâ??s meager stipulations will cost a family $2,750 a year?? What are they doing, burning dollar bills in their fireplace? Kyoto only says we have to reduce, but does NOT say how we should do that. We can do it stupidly and burn money (itâ??s a biofuel, coming from trees), or we can do it smartly & save money (as Boxer pointed out). So Mr & Mrs Notsosmart & the little Notsosmarts burn $2,750 a year in the fireplace, while Mr & Mrs Smart next door spend $2,750 and buy a SunFrost refrigerator ($2,650), a low-flow showerhead ($6), CF bulbs & other energy saving devices ($94), have these pay for themselves (the frig in 12 years, the others in less than a year) in savings (electricity, hot water, & less food spoilage), then go on to save money each year that helps put those 2 Smart kids through college (at least pay for their books and pizza). In fact if GW were a hoax, itâ??d be a great one that would really help us get on a better economic track.

  20. 70
    Donald B Hagler says:

    In comment 36, Barton Paul Levenson asserts: “In fact CO2 accounts for 26% of the clear-sky greenhouse warming on Earth, not 1-3%.”

    Where, exactly, can the empirical, reproducible, real-life evidence supporting 26% be found?

  21. 71
    matt says:

    Even worse than that Lynn, in New Zealand our money is printed in hard wearing plastic bills, black smoke from non renewable bills anyone.

  22. 72
    Tom Adams says:

    A search on “Global Warming” finds the Rose Garden speech.

    According to the help page “global warming” should be case insensitive, but it is not.

    However, a search on “Global Warming” turns up only one press briefing and the phrase has appeared in 70 according to Google.

    And conside the document:

    with the phrase:

    “Hurricane theory does predict that global warming
    will cause hurricanes to become stronger”

    that gets this pattern of hits:

    “predict that global” hit
    “predict that global warming” miss
    “global warming” miss
    “global warming will cause hurricanes” miss
    “warming will cause hurricanes” miss
    “will cause hurricanes” hit

    I can’t explain away this one.

  23. 73
    Margo says:

    Re 72: Tom, it’s just an oddly designed search tool. Do experiments on the phrase “the assessments required under the No Child Left Behind Act”. You’ll get equally screwy hit/miss results by varying capitalization, picking fragments and whatnot.

  24. 74
    brian says:

    I’m surprised no one’s taken the bait of comment #26 yet.

  25. 75

    [[In comment 36, Barton Paul Levenson asserts: “In fact CO2 accounts for 26% of the clear-sky greenhouse warming on Earth, not 1-3%.”

    Where, exactly, can the empirical, reproducible, real-life evidence supporting 26% be found?]]

    I’m going by Kiehl and Trenberth’s 1997 energy budget for the climate system:

    The empirical evidence that CO2 causes substantial climate warming can be found, first of all, in the fact that the Earth isn’t frozen over, though water vapor has a good deal to do with that as well, and second, in the thousands of peer-reviewed studies and books about radiative transfer and climatology and global warming that have come out in the past 110 years or so.

  26. 76
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #26, please don’t confuse scientists with environmentalists. Scientists use ulta-scientific caution (avoiding false positives, avoid making wrong claims, to the hilt); they say we cannot attribute single events, such as Katrina, to global warming, though there seems to be a general patterns (fitting expectation) that hurricanes around the world are becoming more intense, though this is not accepted with the same 90%+ certainty as GW itself. Thus scientists are just one step shy of skeptics.

    Now, as an environmentalist (& not ashamed to admit so), I am more focused on avoiding false negatives, avoiding a do-nothing stance as a problem rages on. Of course, GW enhanced Katrina; I have not doubt about it, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. If a doctor told a patient he wouldn’t remove his/her lump because it’s only 94% certain to be cancerous, would that person patiently wait a couple of years until it’s 95% certain for the surgery? I’m on the far extreme of “we’re looking right down the barrel of extreme catastrophe,” and I for one am going to conscientiously turn off lights not in use and do a hundred other things to reduce my GHGs & inspire others to do likewise.

    So if you want to criticize anyone for worrying about GW, look to the environmentalists. We’re the one’s on the extreme side of righteousness; we are the ones (many of us) who have a religious reverence for life, etc.

  27. 77
    Matt says:

    The 94% cancerous lump analogy is beautiful, yet even scientists get lumps removed without knowing their origins, perhaps the real fear is everyone has a big lump they all want to remove at the same time and the’re worried they’ll get left on some surgical waiting list, suffering economically etc etc while others get treated. State of Fear indeed, security and lifestyle changed in one foul swoop

  28. 78
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #77, and some scientists also gamble in Las Vegas (but that’s only with money, not their reputation). The beauty of solving GW, is that there will not a lot of chaos (except the collision of shopping carts as people stock up on CF bulbs & other energy/resource conservation/efficiency products).

    In fact, it would lead to a greater claim, since people will be spending more time at home with their families, rather than hot-rodding around on the freeways. In fact, if they move close to work, they may not even take the freeway, except to see the opera twice a year in the big city. And that also means less road repair, less taxes. Also, if people are walking & cycling more, and staying at home more, that mean less crime. And walking and cycling are good for the health, so less medical bills. And they are good for the spirit, so less grumpiness, a happier world. And all these GHG reduction measures also reduce other environmental problems (further reducing health costs), and other problems, like shipping oil from elsewhere, oil spills, wars….

    Could be GW was the best thing that ever happened to us, if we really start addressing it full speed ahead, and we avert reaching that runaway tipping point of no return.

  29. 79
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE #78

    Lynn, your comment:

    [Could be GW was the best thing that ever happened to us, if we really start addressing it full speed ahead, and we avert reaching that runaway tipping point of no return.]

    cannot go unchallenged.

    You are betting the future on the — if — part of your comment without reflecting on the fact that much is happening to the planet systems NOW and the IPCC SPM tells us there is a lot of heat locked into the planet heat sinks.

    How can we be better off, in any possible way, with AGW?

  30. 80
    James says:

    Re #79: I think you misunderstood the post. It’s not that AGW in itself is any sort of good, it’s rather that the changes to lifestyles that attempts to deal with AGW will require might be a good thing.

    I think this point is quite important: hard as it is for some of us to understand, a lot of people seem to be very attached to their consumerist lifestyle, to the point that their major reason for denying AGW is that if it was real, it might force them to change that lifestyle. That means that one of the prerequisites for meaningful change needs to be some basic value changes.

  31. 81
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 80, No, James. I read the comment for what it said.

    Tell me where the banked heat in the planets heat sinks will be good for anyone; especially, given what we and some are experiencing today.

    I realize Lynn is a very stong advocate for changing consumer lifestyles. Maybe there is a more appropriate way for her to say that?

  32. 82
    Donald B Hagler says:

    Re #75 from Barton Paul Levenson: Thank you for your cite to the computer model study.

    You go on to claim “thousands” of sources with empirical evidence that “co2 causes substantial climate warming”. OK, probably hyperbole. But help all of us out here, and just ID one. Maybe your favorite.

    The operative words are “causes” and “empirical”. Important, because you take issue with Prof. Essenhigh’s nine years of hands-on experments with consistent rusults proving exactly the opposite of your claim–with co2’s thermal trapping at only 1 to 3% (as noted in Comment # 18). And those tiny numbers include, of necessity, naturally occurring co2, which no one can control. With water vapor making up the average 97% thermal trapping remainder.

    (this comment is essentially a repost of what I earlier wrote and which was published on-site yesterday, Sunday, but evidently was lost due to technical problems noted at the top of this web page)

    [Response: Are you referrring to a specific paper? Essenhigh’s numbers come up relatively often, but I’ve never found a paper that supports it (i.e. Everyone else’s numbers are much higher ( – gavin]

  33. 83
    Steve Latham says:

    Mr. Hagler seems to be referencing only a year 2000 letter to the Wall Street Journal (see #18). It will be interesting to see if he can do better.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    >18, 82, 83, Robert H Essenhigh, Ohio State

    This apears to be a reprint from Chemical Innovation Magazine; it’s in the ACS “Viewpoint” section.
    Title is:
    Does CO2 really drive global warming?

    Here’s how I found it:
    It’s his only publication on global warming, in this list.
    Scholar also notes that he’s a signer of the Seitz/OISM petition.

  35. 85
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oops, correction, _here_ is _how_ I found that; looking here will find some at least of his publications. His basic focus is on …. well, you decide.

    I _think_ the link above is to the source of that percentage estimate people have been wondering about. It appears to be the product of logical thinking, or handwaving, unless there’s a calculation somewhere else.

  36. 86

    We’ve been through this Essenhigh stuff before. The guy is treating the whole atmosphere as if it were a slab of uniform density and pressure. It isn’t Absorption takes place at altitudes where the pressure varies from 1 to 0 times surface pressure, and at each level the absorption properties are significantly different. And CO2 is more important than water vapor at higher altitudes, because H2O has a very shallow scale height — about 2 km, compared to 8 km for the atmosphere in general. Essenhigh doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m sure he’s a competent chemist, but he doesn’t seem to understand atmosphere physics.

  37. 87
    Hank Roberts says:

    No surprise, perhaps, that the coal industry’s so unwilling to deal with global warming as a concern, if he’s typical of the scientists writing about coal. Talk about ‘externalizing costs’ — I never realized that term could apply to science, but there’s an example. I notice he’s at Ohio State. I wonder what he and Lonnie Thompson find to say to each other at faculty parties?

  38. 88
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #79, I did post #78 too quickly, and afterward regret saying we might be better off with AGW. Maybe a more thoughtful way of looking at it is:

    (1) if AGW is happening, and we do nothing to solve it, we may be doomed.

    (2) if AGW is happening, and we do all we can to solve it, we will still face a lot of problems.

    (3) if AGW is not happening, and we do nothing to solve it, we will still have a lot of problems – financial, environmental, oil wars, other.

    (4) if AGW is not happening, and we do everything to solve it, we will have a much better world than we have today.

    #4 is the best scenario, and probably #3 is next (though it might be a toss up with #2, because #3 might could include nuclear wars to protect our oil supplies).

    After a couple of years of continuing to increase out GHG emissions willy-nilly before starting to seriously reduce, say, by 2015, #3 (even with continued oil wars) will most likely be a lot better scenario than #2 started late.

    This is just an intellectual exercise, something for the contrarians to consider. We’d have to be 99.9% sure AGW is not happening to even consider the “do nothing” route (though it still doesn’t make sense from many other perspectives).

    However, I fully concur AGW is happening (and have since 1990, 5 years before the 1st AGW study reached 95% certainty), and I look at the worst case scenario of the IPCC as perhaps underestimating the dangers. I expect runaway warming (hysteresis, mass extinction akin to 55 mya & 251 mya, and mass human suffering), especially if we fail to drastically reduce our GHGs, starting yesterday.

  39. 89
    Donald B Hagler says:

    Re: Gavin’s Response in #82: The letter in #18 was indeed the reference. I now learn (linked below) that Prof. Essenhigh had over “40 years experience of radiative modeling and testing the predicted behavior experimentally.” Following the reprint mentioned in #84, I find two detailed responses to the professor’s published doubt that co2 drives GW, followed by his extensive rebuttal to each (parts of which may also respond to criticism linked by Gavin in #18).

  40. 90
    Robert says:

    I am interested to know about the global temperature. How is it derived, and how accurately does it represent true global temperature, as determined by global thermal equilibrium?

    Here in NSW Australia, our Weather Bureau maintains quality controlled reference climate stations (in stable local environments, away from urban influences). However, few of these stations has temperature records older than 1940. Older data is not reliable because of different screen designs, no screens in some cases and instrument inaccuracies. I have analysed quality temperature data from two stations in NSW from 1940 to 2006. The data does not show any marked warming beyond the observed statistical fluctuations. Maxima have been warm since the mid to late 1990’s, but nothing out of the ordinary. Given the short record (66 years), why cannot the recent warmth be part of a normal variation? In south-east Australia in particular, we have had El-Nino months (SIO < 0) dominate the last 10 years. Historically (since 1876) this may be unsual, but it is not unprecedented. Here, El Nino is associated with drought, giving positive maximum temperature anomalies and negative minimum temperature anomalies, which we have all had. So, I do not see conclusive evidence of AGW here, but if we don’t get some cool years very soon, I will have to admit the human cause.

  41. 91

    [[Re: Gavin’s Response in #82: The letter in #18 was indeed the reference. I now learn (linked below) that Prof. Essenhigh had over “40 years experience of radiative modeling and testing the predicted behavior experimentally.” Following the reprint mentioned in #84, I find two detailed responses to the professor’s published doubt that co2 drives GW, followed by his extensive rebuttal to each (parts of which may also respond to criticism linked by Gavin in #18).]]

    I think a lot of people here have read the old Chemical Innovation In Boxes for November and December 2001. I know I have. And Essenhigh is still doing the calculation wrong, and he still doesn’t understand atmosphere physics.

    Combustion people need to know radiative transfer to model what goes on in blast furnaces and similar industrial environments. They do not need to know how the atmosphere is structured or how the climate works, and from Essenhigh’s statements, he clearly doesn’t understand either.

  42. 92

    [[Given the short record (66 years), why cannot the recent warmth be part of a normal variation?]]

    Because we have enough stations continuously manned outside Australia to go back 150 years, plus a wealth of proxies such as tree rings, ice cores, lake and ocean sediments, and the O18/O16 ratio in seashells. The temperature now is higher than it has been in 1300 years, and likely longer than that.

  43. 93
    James says:

    Re #90: “Given the short record (66 years), why cannot the recent warmth be part of a normal variation?”

    Short answer is that it could. However, you’re doing something I see a lot of people do, which is assuming that we’ve noticed an increase in temperatures, and climate science has developed a “global warming caused by anthropogenic CO2” theory in response. In fact, that’s exactly backwards: the theory (in an early version) was developed around 1900 by Arrhenius & others. It has been extended, based on the known, measured properties of CO2 and its increasing concentration in the atmosphere, which in turn is both measured and correlated to the known amounts of fossil fuel burned.

    Another factor here is the lag time in the system: just as your house, for instance, takes a certain amount of time to warm up after you raise the thermostat setting, so too does the Earth take time to warm up, and since it’s pretty big, it takes a long time.

    The bottom line is that the theory tells us that the Earth should be warming (and that there’s a lot more warming to come). When we see signs of warming, and we see many different ones from all over the world, we should take them as evidence supporting the theory. So yes, your own local warming in Australia might be part of normal climate variation, but if you consider all the warming signs all over the world, the chance that they’re all due to local variations seems pretty slim.