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Adventures on the East Side

Filed under: — gavin @ 15 March 2007 - (Türkçe)

So that was …. interesting.

First off, I’d like to thank the commenters for all of the suggestions and ideas to the previous post. They were certainly useful. In particularly, the connection with the difficulties faced by evolutionists in debates vs. creationists proved to be very a propos. Our side played it it pretty straight – the basic IPCC line (Richard Somerville), commentary on the how ‘scientized’ political debates abuse science (me, though without using the word ‘scientized’!) and the projections and potential solutions (Brenda Ekwurzel). Crichton went with the crowd-pleasing condemnation of private jet-flying liberals – very popular, even among the private jet-flying Eastsiders present) and the apparent hypocrisy of people who think that global warming is a problem using any energy at all. Lindzen used his standard presentation – CO2 will be trivial effect, no one knows anything about aerosols, sensitivity from the 20th Century is tiny, and by the way global warming stopped in 1998. Stott is a bit of a force of nature and essentially accused anyone who thinks global warming is a problem of explicitly rooting for misery and poverty in the third world. He also brought up the whole cosmic ray issue as the next big thing in climate science.
Update: The transcript is now available – though be aware that it has not yet been verified for accuracy. Audio + Podcast.

The podcast should be available next Wednesday (I’ll link it here once it’s available), and so you can judge for yourselves, but I’m afraid the actual audience (who by temperament I’d say were split roughly half/half on the question) were apparently more convinced by the entertaining narratives from Crichton and Stott (not so sure about Lindzen) than they were by our drier fare. Entertainment-wise it’s hard to blame them. Crichton is extremely polished and Stott has a touch of the revivalist preacher about him. Comparatively, we were pretty dull.

I had started off with a thought that Lindzen and Stott, in particular, would avoid the more specious pseudo-scientific claims they’ve used in other fora since there were people who would seriously challenge them at this debate. In the event, they stuck very closely to their standard script. Lindzen used the ‘GW stopped in 1998′ argument which even Crichton acknowledged later was lame. He also used the ‘aerosols are completely uncertain’ but ‘sensitivity to CO2 from the 20th Century is precisely defined’ in adjoining paragraphs without any apparent cognitive dissonance. Stott didn’t use the medieval English vineyards meme (as he did in TGGWS) – but maybe he read the RC article ahead of time.

The Q&A was curious since most questions were very much of the ‘I read the Wall Street Journal editorial page’ style, and I thought we did okay, except possibly when I suggested to the audience that the cosmic ray argument was being used to fool them, which didn’t go over well – no-one likes being told they’re being had (especially when they are). My bad.

The organisers asked us afterwards whether we’d have done much different in hindsight. Looking back, the answer is mostly no. We are scientists, and we talk about science and we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas – and obviously that put us at a sharp disadvantage (shades of David Mamet?).

One minor detail that might be interesting is that the organisers put on luxury SUVs for the participants to get to the restaurant – 5 blocks away. None of our side used them (preferring to walk), but all of the other side did.

So are such debates worthwhile? On balance, I’d probably answer no (regardless of the outcome). The time constraints preclude serious examination of any points of controversy and the number of spurious talking points can seriously overwhelm the ability of others to rebut them. Taking a ‘meta’ approach (as I attempted) is certainly not a guaranteed solution. However, this live audience were a rather select bunch, and so maybe this will go over differently on the radio. There it might not matter that Crichton is so tall…


490 Responses to “Adventures on the East Side”

  1. 151
    James says:

    Re #114: [Maybe your life is better for having some of the ingredients you mention. Tell me how many of them you could enjoy without access to electricity.]

    In the past, I’ve lived and worked for months at a time in remote locations, without electricity, and still enjoyed all of those things. Sometimes it takes a bit of thought, or a change of habit, but it’s quite doable.

    [Its introspection time.]

    Yes, for all of us.

    Re #115: [Women in Africa spend up to a quarter of their time just meeting their families’ needs for water and firewood.]

    Whereas with western-style grid electricity, they’d likely spend the same amount of time working to pay their electric bills. Electricity is not magic: it comes at a price.

    [There is nothing romantic about poverty.]

    Did I say there was? It is quite possible to be prosperous and live without electricity (consider the Amish), just as it’s possible to be poor, and yet have access to cheap & reliable electricity.

    [There is nothing romantic about a past where women would like as not die in childbirth and 10% or more children died before their first birthday.]

    I’m puzzled: exactly how would electricity – just electricity and nothing else – change this? It would seem to depend a lot more on medical care – trained personel, immunizations & antibiotics, public education – which could all be had without electricity.

    [It is not cheap energy that is the problem, it is the way we get that cheap energy coupled with our seeming inability to regulate our own population and our own wants.]

    Err… Isn’t that what I said?

  2. 152
    doug newton says:

    I have a minor question if someone would be so kind.

    In the opening statement by Richard Somerville
    He made the point that advances in scientific knowledge usually occur through the work of many individuals gradually changing the opinion of their peers.

    – When the revolution of continental drift was sweeping through geology and geophysics, some imminent earth scientists couldn’t be persuaded that plate tectonics were real. Continents can move. These contrarians were mistaken.

    – Experience, long experience shows that in science it tends to be the rare exception rather than the rule when a lone genius eventually prevails over conventional mainstream scientific thought. An occasional Galileo does come along or an Einstein. Not often.

    Michael Crichton answers

    “Richard has just told you. He’s, he’s giving you the story of plate tectonics but it’s fascinating. He’s turned it upside down. He’s turned it on its head. The story of plate tectonics actually is the story of one person who had the right idea – Alfred Wegener. ”

    Which is true enough as I understand it but irrelevant as climate science in general and greenhouse gas theories in particular must also have an Alfred Wegener or two. Who are they?

    I ask because I think Richard’s point was valid and I would like to use it myself.

  3. 153
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 151: James, surely you don’t believe women would have to work for 6 hours a day to pay their electric bill, do you? And even if they did, it would be work that is more productive. And just how are you going to preserve all of those vaccines, drugs, etc. without refrigeration–and therefore electricity. I have seen the effects of rural electrification in Brazil. My father saw them on the Kansas plains. Find somebody besides Theodore Kaczynski who wants to go back.
    By all means, we can cut back on what we use–and much of that painlessly. However, we will not stop development, because development promises a better life. Development means energy demands will increase. It also means that we will hopefully have more educated minds to develop new energy saving technologies, new energy sources and new ways of coping with the climate change that will inevitably occur.
    Look, I’m all for going to the woods to learn to live deliberately–I just don’t think its reasonable to preclude development in nations that desperately need it.

  4. 154
    TJH says:

    re: 147 – And by not debating, it reinforces the idea that one side is suppressing the other for purely political reasons, which is precisely the accusation that is being leveled at the academic community. As objectionable as you may find it, you guys have to hold your nose and listen to the rhetoric coming from the right. There is a major propaganda push happening, and nothing reinforces public opinion more than predictions that come true. Believe me, I hear it daily, and it’s having an effect. It has to be countered, and that’s going to involve repetition.

    Also, I like how many of the RC commenters use the term “anthropogenic global warming”. However, this may have the unintended effect of hurting the cause when natural variability produces a brief downward trend in temperatures. I prefer to put it all under the umbrella of anthropogenic global change, since things like land use changes have effects besides adjusting GHG levels. Just my opinion, not trying to scold you.

  5. 155
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #146 I’d guess you’re right that private jets don’t actually contribute much. However, contrary to what some here believe, I doubt whether GHG emissions can be cut as much as needed without real sacrifices, if not of quality of life, then at least of access to consumer goods and services among the (relatively) rich – which would include just about everyone posting here. Evidence, from both social psychology experiments and historical experience, indicates that most people will make sacrifices for a shared goal if, and only if, they are perceived as more-or-less fairly distributed. As George Orwell wrote during World War 2 “The lady in the Rolls-Royce does more damage to morale than a fleet of German bombers.” The material damage this notional lady was doing to the UK war effort would of course be insignificant. Whether there’s experimental evidence of the additional resentment hypocrisy would cause I’m not sure, but I’d bet that if the appropriate experiment were carried out, it would be found. The very fact Crichton uses the kind of sneers he does shows that he understands these points intuitively (as a novelist should), and will use them. Similarly the fuss about Gore’s home electricity consumption (justified or not – I don’t know) is just what he should have expected. Those concerned about, and involved in public debate over, AGW needn’t strive for personal zero GHG emission levels, but they should take care not to appear profligate or hypocritical. I have no doubt the luxury SUVs provided for transport to the debate were a deliberate trap – and if any of the “pro-crisis” side had used them, this would have been exploited ruthlessly.

  6. 156
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 152: Actually, in no way is the triumph of a genius inconsistent with the process of scientific consensus. Wegner triumphed because he gathered sufficient evidence that his peer had to agree with him. That’s science. What is not science is expecting deference to an opinion that is not backed up by evidence–as the denialists have demanded. Yes, it may take a while for the evidence to become cogent, but it eventually will do so if the proposition is true. And the beauty of scientific consensus is that it keeps a genius from triumphing when he is wrong–as was Einstein with Quantum Mechanics or as Newton was wrt optics. The adoption of Newton’s corpuscular theory of light set English optics more than a decade behind the Continent–that was before the idea of scientific consensus developed. On the other hand, Einstein opposed quantum mechanics to his dying day–and science accepted it despite his opposition. Science has adopted the conservative position of going with evidence-driven scientific consensus because ultimately it is more efficient than pursuing blind alleys where evidence is weak.

  7. 157
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Well, I dont’ know about dip in temperatures. I read in general media that NOAA reported this winter as the warmest ever, I think that’s meant on the all hemisphere. This is conditional, I haven’t yet seen anything from NOAA myself.

  8. 158
    TJ says:

    How many of you guys are driving hybrid cars I wonder? Have you taken your homes off the grid? Put your money where your mouths are. [edit]

    [Response: I don’t own a car at all, and my electricity comes purely from renewables. Happy? Of course not. I would have to be living in a cave with no internet access before these kinds of attacks would fade – and then it would only be because I wasn’t around to put the scientific case. The point is pretty much moot though. No conceivable amount of change of personal behaviour is going to fix this. Campaigns to enact legislation need to understand this (and mostly I think they do) . The ozone depletion problem wasn’t fixed by people ceasing to use deodorant – it was fixed by new technologies – and that is mostly what’s going to happen here. -gavin]

  9. 159
    Paul says:

    I am not a scientist and I am trying to reach conclusions regarding AGW by reading. As an outsider looking, I am very skeptical of the computer models.
    In this debate, Richard Linzen stated: “I think that it is crucial to distinguish between the claim that models can display past behaviors from the actual situation, which is that models can be adjusted to display past behavior once it is known. There is no reason to suppose that the adjustment corrected the relevant error.”
    A similar point is made by Professor Freemon Dyson, a well regarded physicist, who says, “Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.” http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/Freeman-Dyson.htm
    I realize I so far down in the comment section that maybe no one will read this, but I would be interested in hearing responses to these assertions or at least some links to relevant websites.

  10. 160
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Crichton mis-described Wegener’s contribution. Wegener didn’t have plate tectonics in mind when he noticed how closely allied Brazil and Africa were and wondered if they’d once been joined. (And Wegener wasn’t the first with that, either.) Harry Hess made the first substantive discoveries that led to plate tectonics. Several scientists beginning in the late 50s through the late 60s developed plate tectonics.

    Crichton was just making a misleading joke.

  11. 161
    Phillip Shaw says:

    Re #158:

    Lose the snarky attitude TJ. Yes, I drive an Insight hybrid. Yes, I’ve changed over to CFL bulbs. Yes, I recycle. And, no, I don’t have any illusions that my personal actions to reduce my carbon footprint will ‘save the planet’. But I know that my actions when summed with similar actions by millions of environmentally conscious people will make a positive difference. I vote for candidates I feel will act responsibly at the state and national levels. And I will continue to look for ways I can make things better.

    So now it’s your turn . . . are you doing all you can to improve the situation? And, if not, what possible justification can you offer for wasting finite resources? Are you sociopathic or just ignorant?

  12. 162
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Gavin,

    Lindzen said in the debate:
    “What is less often noted is in terms of greenhouse forcing we’re already three quarters of the way to that doubling.”

    Do you know where the 3/4 comes from? If we are talking about just CO2 with its log effect, I think a 41% increase (increase by a factor of sqrt(2)) is half way to doubling. At 35% increase, we are almost half way to doubling.

    [Response: During the Q&A. I was asked directly whether I thought the other side was being sincere. I hemmed and hawed about that because I don’t want to get into those kinds of issues. However, the use of this argument by Lindzen – which he know full well is completely bogus tests my politeness to the limits.

    The issues are as follows. To do a calculation of the climate sensitivity you need a) to be at equilibrium (or know what the imbalance is), b) to know the net forcings, and c) to know the global mean temperature change. In the case of the last 100 years, we only now c) reasonably well, but a) and b) only approximately. Both of those uncertain points were brought up specifically by Lindzen – the ocean heat content growth (which he appeared to dispute entirely, but if pressed would probably go with 0.3 W/m2 based on Lyman et al) – and the role of aerosols – which he claimed were a complete unknown. Those uncertainties feed directly into his calculation of the likely sensitivity and yet they are no-where to be seen in his calculations.

    That isn’t even to deal with his deliberate exaggerration of the forcing and minimisation of the temperature rise: From CO2 along you get about 1.6 W/m2, including all other well mixed GHGs you get 2.6 W/m2 but if you take the best guess for all the forcings you get back to 1.6 W/m2. A full doubling of CO2 is 3.7 W/m2, and so by looking at all well-mixed GHGs you get about 70% of the way to a doubling. But that is not the appropriate number- that would be about 1.6 (the net effect) and it’s substantial uncertainties. The temperature change is around 0.8 deg C (again with a little uncertainty) and the imbalance (as alluded to above) is about 0.3 – again with some uncertainty. So a correct calculation would give a best guess from the 20th C of 3.7 * 0.8 / (1.6 – 0.3) = 2.3 deg C for a doubling. But the error bars on this are very large indeed, and would easily encompass the standard range – 1.5 to 4.5 deg C.

    Lindzen is in full possession of these facts – and indeed, insists that the error bars are larger than is generally supposed. How he can sincerely use this argument to argue for a low sensitivity is beyond my ken. -gavin]

  13. 163
    J.C.H says:

    Ultimately TJ, the day your are stuffed into a hybrid-type thing and taken off the grid, as it exists now, is going to happen, and your side is the reason – because when conservatives feel threatened they go hard draconian.

    And feel the earth buddy – that buzzin’ in the ground is ExxMob, etc. waking up to the realization that gated communities and all their billions will do them and their progeny no good if the fossil-fuel future is not averted.

    You really need to wrap your head around this – ExxMob has abandoned you. They agree on major points with most of these guys whether these guys own hybrids or not.

  14. 164
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 161 and other responses to 158–what do you expect from an individual whose URL links to nonexistent blog under the title “leftist scum must die”. I would much rather that scientists consumed energy to fight the good fight than leave civilization to the tender mercies of individuals such as TJ.

  15. 165
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #159: Paul — I have been reading RealClimate (also books and papers on climate) for over a year now. This is enough for me to have some understanding of the climate models. These are quite good and keep getting better as more of the physics and chemistry is understood and added to the models.

    I am under the impression that the statement by Dyson occured quite some time ago. Prehaps at that time he was correct. But not in the year 2007.

  16. 166
    Hank Roberts says:

    And wouldn’t you know it, the next debate challenge was indeed already issued: “I am very eager to have all the science properly debated with scientists qualified in the right areas and have asked Channel 4 if they will stage a live debate on this subject.â�� — Durkin.

    Don’t take the bait.

  17. 167
    Paul says:

    David Benson said “I am under the impression that the statement by Dyson occured quite some time ago. Perhaps at that time he was correct. But not in the year 2007″

    The comments by Dyson are current. The interview from which they are lifted is dated March, 2007.

  18. 168
    Dennis Coyne says:

    Re 158

    There are lots of things which can be done to fight climate change. One does not need to take their house off the grid or drive a hybrid, not everyone can afford to. People can reduce their consumption of everything: electricity, gasoline, and goods and services in general. I do drive a hybrid and by 100 % renewable energy, and have never flown in anything but economy class. No doubt one could comment that as an individual this makes little difference, the idea is to get as many people as possible to join in the effort, together we can make a difference.

    Re. 159

    The models account for changing atmospheric chemistry going back at least 1000 years. Lindzen suggests the models are not accurate, he can’t seem to find a peer-reviewed journal that will publish this.

    A general comment on the debate is that it is easy (having finally read the transcript) to see how an uninformed audience might have been fooled by the crisis deniers. The two main arguments seemed to be: just because scientists agree does not make something true (because scientists have been wrong in the past, so they may be wrong now), and that we should not worry about global warming when there is so much poverty in the world. So should all science be dismissed ? There is always some measure of uncertainty or areas for further research in every field of science. As climate changes, those most unlikely able to adapt will be those in poverty, so a false dichotomy has been created, help the poor or fight climate change.

  19. 169
    W. Falicoff says:

    I am quite surprised that the Dr. Lindzen arguments in the debate could not be refuted. As someone who developed “simple” models for estimation of terrestrial solar radiation in the 1970s and 1980s (published for example in the book “the Solar/Wind Handbook” US Department of Energy 1979), I remember that even then there was an understanding of the effect of aerosols on insolation values. In fact I came across some general rule of thumb equations for calculating the effect of aerosols in one of my papers from the early 1980s. I would be very surprised if the field has not expanded its knowledge dramatically in the last 20 years.

    Also with regard to the predictions of Global Cooling in the 1970s I must remind everyone that the level of pollution in the Western world was near its peak. It was clear to scientists at the time that if this type of pollution was not curtailed it would reduce insolation values on the ground, thus causing global cooling. As we know there was a dramatic reduction in the level of air pollution (especially aerosols) in the 1980s in the US and Western Europe. This no doubt mitigated global cooling “forces” and eventually the global warming “forces” became dominant. (The cooling “forces” are still present and with further industrialization of countries such as China and India could become more significant.)

    Finally, I believe that the global climate models have matured significantly in the last two to three decades (especially by the year 2000) and this combined with the computer power available and the mountain of data, makes the claim that global warming is a figment of the imagination of thousands of credible scientist a non-issue. Too bad the public is so influenced by a few slick jokes and a handful of ridiculous arguments.

    W. Falicoff (former Professor University of Hawaii)

  20. 170
    PeteB says:

    A bit of light relief

    Listened to this on the radio on my journey home from work

    Could of done with him on your side !

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/nowshow

    Fast Forward to 18mins 20 secs

  21. 171
    Rod B. says:

    A comment (repeated) criticizing my skeptic cohorts: Get off the fussing about Gore’s use of private jets or additional electrity in his home(s), and chastizing Gavin, et al because they don’t use enough F-bulbs or drive enough hybrids. It’s all show and no dough! It does not enhance our skeptical arguments. It’s a little like the Biblical story (sorry, guys) of Jesus’ diciples fussing at him for using expensive oil to clean and massage his worn feet when it might be put to use somehow helping the poor. He essentially told them to lighten up, don’t be so anal retentive, and don’t sweat the trivial stuff. [Though Gore’s trumpting his going carbon free… by buying carbon credits from his own investments is a little shaky.]

    While I’m at it, the AGW proponents should likewise get off the “you’re just like (evil evil) Exxon-Mobil” crappy argument.

  22. 172
    k rutherford says:

    re 166 not sure if you’ve seen the times expose of mr durkin’s response to being questioned by a couple of emminent scientists – a rather intemperate reaction that suggests he’s not really so interested in debating the science at all (posted it on another comment board but thought it relevant here too – sorry for repetitiveness)

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1517515.ece

  23. 173

    [[A similar point is made by Professor Freemon Dyson, a well regarded physicist, who says, “Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable.]]

    Right. He’s never written one himself, you understand, or used one, but he’s sure. He knows.

  24. 174
    Andrew Worth says:

    There are several factors that exist in the world today that I have seen evidence for that leads me to believe that they could well lead to future crises, the depletion of: oil, fisheries, forests, ground water, the continuing growth in world population, heading towards 9 billion on a planet that many argue can sustainably support only 3 billion, the rise in China’s power leading to disputes with the West, all these I accept because I have seem evidence in one form or another.

    I also accept that AGW is occurring, I have argued this successfully with denialists on several right wing site; NZ CSC, NAM’s shopfloor, kiwiblog.
    I have always been careful only to put forward arguments that the science, as I understand it, supports. This means that I have argued, amongst other things, for advancing Kyoto on the basis of the precautionary principle.

    Through all this though, I have never come across what I consider to be good evidence that global warming is a crisis, present or future, either to Man or the planet, and none was presented in the debate.

  25. 175
    Charles Muller says:

    #162 Gavin comment and #169

    Everyone agrees that climate sensitivity is the most important feature we need to know in order to evaluate our future.

    1,5-4,5 K for doubling CO2 was already the range of very first EBM and RCM models in the 1970’s.

    It’s still the range 30 or 40 years later (2,1-4,4 K for AR4 models, but usually a bit larger in literature).

    Another observation: 2100 likely range (T change for all scenarios) is 1,1-2,4 K for the low values, 2,9-6,4 K for high values. Two different planets.

    So, if you want to seriously reduce the skeptic voices, you need to basically answer the question: if there are decisive progress in climate science, why don’t they translate in much more convergence between models? Why a layman should “believe” the 2,1 K climate sensitivity of PCM or INM-CM3.0 models rather thant the 4,4 K of IPSL-CM4 or HadGEM1, or how can he believe that our “very good and out of doubt” understanding of major climate mechanisms leads to such disparate results?

    [Response:Because all you need to know to be worried about the future is that the low values can be ruled out on the basis of paleo-data. We’ve gone over this a dozen times. Anything like 1 deg C would require an underestimate of LGM forcings by a factor of 3, or an overestimate of LGM temperature change by the same token. This is way outside of the uncertainties. The only way to support a low-enough sensitivity to make the problem go away is to cheat (see above). – gavin]

  26. 176
    gringo says:

    Jason,

    “Propaganda films forecasting 20 foot rises in sea level”

    If you had taken the time to actually pay attention what Gore said in that movie and not just run away with a oversimplified impression
    you would know that Gore did not forecast 20 feet rises in sea levels.
    Rather he argued (correctly) that IF the Greenland ice sheet or the West Antarctic ice sheet melted or broke up and slipped into the sea
    (or half of Greenland and half of West A.) sea levels worldwide would go up by 20 feet. That itself is true (if not an underestimation)

    Potential Sea-Level Changes
    If Earth’s climate continues to warm, then the volume of present-day ice sheets will decrease. Melting of the current Greenland ice sheet would result in a sea-level rise of about 6.5 meters; melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet would result in a sea-level rise of about 8 meters (table 1).

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

    Gore didn’t mention any time frame for a good reason: noone knows at this point of time when and under what scenario this could happen.
    So why did Gore talk about it at all?

    Paleoclimatic Evidence for Future Ice-Sheet Instability and Rapid Sea-Level Rise
    Jonathan T. Overpeck,1* Bette L. Otto-Bliesner,2 Gifford H. Miller,3 Daniel R. Muhs,4 Richard B. Alley,5 Jeffrey T. Kiehl2

    Sea-level rise from melting of polar ice sheets is one of the largest potential threats of future climate change. Polar warming by the year 2100 may reach levels similar to those of 130,000 to 127,000 years ago that were associated with sea levels several meters above modern levels; both the Greenland Ice Sheet and portions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet may be vulnerable. The record of past ice-sheet melting indicates that the rate of future melting and related sea-level rise could be faster than widely thought.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5768/1747

    Simulating Arctic Climate Warmth and Icefield Retreat in the Last Interglaciation
    Bette L. Otto-Bliesner,1* Shawn J. Marshall,2 Jonathan T. Overpeck,3 Gifford H. Miller,4 Aixue Hu,1 CAPE Last Interglacial Project members

    In the future, Arctic warming and the melting of polar glaciers will be considerable, but the magnitude of both is uncertain. We used a global climate model, a dynamic ice sheet model, and paleoclimatic data to evaluate Northern Hemisphere high-latitude warming and its impact on Arctic icefields during the Last Interglaciation. Our simulated climate matches paleoclimatic observations of past warming, and the combination of physically based climate and ice-sheet modeling with ice-core constraints indicate that the Greenland Ice Sheet and other circum-Arctic ice fields likely contributed 2.2 to 3.4 meters of sea-level rise during the Last Interglaciation.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;311/5768/1751

    Hansen and his colleagues at the Goddard Institute observed in an article entitled “Global Temperature Change” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on September 26, 2006, that the temperature of the earth is now at the Holocene maximum and within approximately 1°C (1.8°F) of the maximum temperature of the last million years when the sea level was maybe as much as 5 meters (16 feet) higher than today. At a time when the earth’s temperature was 2-3°C (3.6-5.4°F) warmer than today in the Middle Pliocene three million years ago, the sea level was 25-35 meters (80 feet or more) higher. As Hansen notes, based on this and other research:

    We do have a lot of information available to us both from paleoclimate; the history of the earth and how ice sheets responded in the past and also the new data from satellites, and on surface measurements on the ice sheets which shows that there are processes beginning to happen there, exactly the processes that we’re afraid will accelerate. The last time a large ice sheet melted sea level went up at a rate of five meters per century. That’s one meter every 20 years. And that is a kind of sea level rise, a rate which the simple ice sheet models available now just cannot produce because they don’t have the physics in them to give you the rapid collapse that happens in a very nonlinear system (“Gorilla of Sea Level Rise”).

    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/02/362580.html
    http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=07-P13-00005&segmentID=1

    Gore didn’t pull dynamic glacial response out of his ass and he didn’t forecast anything. He merely pointed out that business-as-usual could lead to major ice sheet disintegration. You should not exaggerate what he actually said.
    Now, in case you want to hope for the best and say no way this could happen no matter how much GHG we emit you must know much more than any scientist today.
    I for one am not so confindent. Concern about ice sheet movement and collapse is based on legitimate scientific research and thus even if we don’t know exactly what will happen in the future it is foolish to dismiss his warning as propaganda.

  27. 177
    alex says:

    UK Question Time this week has a question on emission targets
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/question_time/6457111.stm

    Its an interesting lesson on how the professionals deal with the dissenter – they very effectively dismiss him.

    Good to see the politicians haven’t been ‘swindled’!

  28. 178
    Gareth says:

    Through all this though, I have never come across what I consider to be good evidence that global warming is a crisis, present or future, either to Man or the planet, and none was presented in the debate.

    Hi Andrew,

    You need to move beyond the pure climate science – the stuff you have to argue with the likes of the NZCSC and the denizens of David Farrar’s blog – and take a look at the impacts literature. That’s where it starts to get frightening. Small numbers – like 0.2C per decade – actually imply large changes.

    A very good overview is the chapter by Rachel Warren in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (available FOC here, 16MB download): Impacts of Global Climate Change at Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases.

    In that context WG2 of AR4 is going to be very interesting.

    There is little doubt of the potential for crisis, but assigning a probability remains difficult. I might offer shorter odds than you…

    Cheers

  29. 179
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Comment by Dennis Coyne > …and that we should not worry about global warming when there is so much poverty in the world. So should all science be dismissed ? There is always some measure of uncertainty or areas for further research in every field of science. As climate changes, those most unlikely able to adapt will be those in poverty, so a false dichotomy has been created, help the poor or fight climate change.

    What you are not including is that by the time substantial adaptation is required, everyone will likely be much richer (at least if they are allowed to have access to cheap energy) and able to aford it.

  30. 180
    robert davies says:

    Re: 75 – Such a book has been written, it’s called “An Inconvenient Truth”. It paints an accurate, compelling and scientific case for AGW. You can lead a horse to water….

  31. 181
    cat black says:

    [uncertainty] There are a lot of denier comments about “Gore made up a crisis” and “climate scientists haven’t got a clue” which only reinforces in my mind that these people are doing seat-o-the-pants statistics (which we all do) to decide if the risk of loses from doing nothing exceeds the risk of loses if one changes their lifestyle or behaviors to reduce their contribution to AGW (or that of an entire nation where national policy is being crafted).

    People game systems all the time. Driving is a good example. When they drive they’ll tend to maintain a speed that optimizes their gain, including going over the speed limit or beyond prudence, in proportion to their need to get somewhere in a certain time period either to make a date or to use that saved time on some more important task than travel. If the risk of being late (or wasting time) incurs a cost that exceeds the percentage cost of being caught speeding (or the cost of leaving the roadway and hitting a tree at speed) then they’ll drive fast.

    The logical fallacy is that they don’t have all the data and are unable to actually calculate the potential loses in total. And their guess work tends to reflect and reinforce their values. For example, driving really fast in a residential neighborhood and running a few stop signs will probably only shave off a few seconds, maybe a minute, from a short trip. This “savings” amounts to nothing at all, less time than it takes to tie a shoe. And yet all the time you see people racing in your neighborhood… until someone hits a child. Then they pause to reflect that maybe, in the exchange, saving those seconds in one’s personal life wasn’t really worth the loss of many decades in the life of the person thus slaughtered.

    On the topic of AGW, people can fairly estimate their gain from BAU because they already know what their lifestyle is worth; it is worth a paycheck, and nice house, a fast car, libertarian freedoms, and a nice vacation to Europe once a year. They then try to balance those absolutely understood and easily measured personal gains (and the personal pleasures therein) against far less understood or measureable gains to society as a whole if they were to drop those activities and adopt a lifestyle and values that create less impact. Measured again against the suffering they would endure in the absence of all their familiar things, which though the suffering is unknown is nevertheless in the category of “I’m suffering somehow” and so cannot be a good thing.

    There is a challenge here. Returning to our driving analogy: One way to keep people from driving fast in a neighborhood and killing the children is to install speed bumps to physically slow them down (otherwise they suffer the known costs of replacing the undercarriage of their vehicle) or installing lots of stop signs at intersections to essentially increase both the risk and cost of being caught by authorities and dragged into a very real and understandable court of law, and perhaps having one’s driving permit taken away. Another way is to have law enforcement camp out in areas where people speed and write tickets until they recognize that the risk is far higher than they at first imagined, and the costs really hurt. Yet another way (which I would like to see, as it is technically possible) is to some how equip vehicles with throttles that sense when the driver is exceeding a safe speed and slow them down no matter how stupid they are about risk assessment.

    But we all know what would happen if we did these things (and cities have tried); drivers would not sense that going slow served them personally, they would fixate endlessly on the unacceptable costs in personal time (measured in seconds) cruelly stripped forever from their personal lives, and they would complain and litigate until the measures were removed. Then they would run over children.

    And that’s where we’re at with AGW. Everyone can point, red-faced and finger shaking in rage, at the costs to their personal lives caused by any mitigations whatsoever, but nobody can see the looming shadow over our society and indeed our entire species that is cast by the very real, physical, predictable impacts of global warming.

    The death toll on our streets from drivers shaving seconds off their drive times is all the indication you should need that we will NOT be able to turn this ship around EVER. Or at least not until every person on the planet has had the equivalent emotional and moral shock of having just run over and killed a child.

  32. 182
    Richard Ordway says:

    re. 177 “Its an interesting lesson on how the professionals deal with the dissenter – they very effectively dismiss him.”

    I don’t get quite what you mean. If you mean that a climate change dissenter is dismissed because of his “views” on climate change…then he is dismissed because of his “views” on climate change….not because of his provable evidence in the world court of science.

    If this is what you mean, then you obviously do not understand the scientific process…I live in it and have for over ten years (not that I always understand everything mind you!)

    This is how it works (or suppposed to and usually does). You have provable evidence on a new provable idea (new evidenced-based ideas are sought after by Nature and Science Journals …wow, what a concept. It might at this point be right or wrong…but
    you have evidence that you can point to.

    You now get it published in a juried peer-reviewed journal where the whole world (100+ countries get to rip it apart and check it for accuracy, and see if it is usually repeatable and solid over many decades of testing and counter testing and not just a big lie or pseudo science….

    ooops who is lying, now…Richard Lindzen who states that that temperatures started going down in 1998…or Gavin Schmitt who says that world average temps are going up.

    Bummer I don’t know who is lying or wrong… and neither do you…but science knows because it has hashed this out for 200 years in an OPEN process and has slaved over this evidence and found the holes. How the hell is anyone going to know the difference otherwise?

    Without the peer-review process either person could be lying or wrong…and certainly, ONE of the two IS either lying or just plain wrong.

    So how to tell. How could scientists tell since the early 1800s who is lying and who is not or what is pseudo science and what is not?…the answer they came up with is the tedious, slow-moving, arduous painful to ego juried peer-review journal process. It catches liars and exposes things that are not true…especially if it is debated and published for 200 years in an open process.

    Now, back to our journey… many people now publish counter and counter counter-results to the original evdence in many juried peer-reviewed journals after the first study came out until there is no evidence left to discuss

    Over say, 200 years of this point and counter-point publishing, a body of evidence is built, I repeat a huge body of thousands of studies… by the end every conceivable angle has been hashed and rehashed…if you bring something up…it has most likely already been microscrutinized or boy are you smarter than Einstein. But the point is that new provable evidence is always open to be published even if it runs counter to the current thought.

    Your new evidence had better be provable, however, if you are going try to counter the thousands of papers that constitute the body of evidence.

    Now, it if holds up (like Global Warming since 1824 (Fourier)) and all serious counter-arguments are shown with proof, to be false over hundreds of years…it finally becomes a concensus. However, if provabable evidence is brought up counter to it, then is is published.

    It IS NOT EASY for scientists to agree on anything…I have known many over ten years on a daily basis…and god bless them…they don’t want to agree on anything…and boy oh boy will they let you know it if they disagree with something you have stated… and they don’t care who is listening…it has happened a number of times to me personally and to those around me for ten years…and they are often not polite about it.

    Getting them to agree on anything is a job. For them to have a concensus is incredible…it means the provable evidence is overwhelming and the counter arguments (often their own) are expired…they don’t want to agree on anything.

    So currently, someone wants to say to the public and Congress:
    “Hey, Mac… “I” know the truth but they and thousands of studies from all around the world from 200 years ago don’t and I’m a climate scientist and I know that they are all wrong…and I represent such and such an institution.

    Yeah, YOU might get fired. What is wrong with this?

    You are not using the scientific vetting process, don’t have provable evidence, are not a real scientist (though you might have a PHD) because you are not openly allowing your evidence to be examined for truth or falseness.

    Who knows if you are telling the truth and misleading people. Are you allowed as a scientist to have your own opinions…yes…it is essential for new ideas. Are you allowed to state as fact things which have been proven wrong for over 200 years and for which you have no provable evidence …

    YOU HAVE TO HAVE EVIDENCE AND IT HAS TO STAND UP UNDER harsh SCRUTINY FOR MANY DECADES in the scientific process. Perfect…no…but do you have a better idea to keep out the wrong evidence?

    It is an open process even to you…just read the weekly or monthly journals…It stops psychopathic and political liars over time. May I remind you that 200 years ago with the then primitive tools, global waming (human caused) was strongly doubted…and certainly could not be proved under scrutiny. It had to be proved or disproved, study by painful study over 200 years.

    Now, do you understand science a little better…and why these charade “scientists” sometimes get fired?

    They don’t have provable evidence…but state it as fact….but there is a solution…just get your evidence printed for the whole world to examine.

    Even Lindzen and others have been published…but what a shock…their “Iris” GW cooling effects, solar AGW warming effects and such were proved over many years by many agencies and groups to have fatal holes in them.

    If you’ve got a better way to sift the truth over hundreds of years as technology and techniques improve…please let me hear it.

    If you read the juried peer-reviewed journals you will see whether Gavin or Lindzen is giving the correct arduously-arrived at provable evidence on human-caused global warming.

  33. 183
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #181: cat black — Not just humans. It is clear that many specialized organisms are going to have a tough time coping with the coming heat. The result is going to be a simplified ecology, which will, in turn, be bad for humans.

  34. 184
    Charles Muller says:

    #175 “Because all you need to know to be worried about the future is that the low values can be ruled out on the basis of paleo-data.”

    Gavin, you don’t really answer my question: I’m not searching a reason to worry (or not worry) about future. Just want to understand why models still diverge by a factor 2/3 about CS (2 for AR4 runs, 3 or more for most stat. analysis at 90% confidence) and why 30 yrs of intense research did not really succeed in reducing this range, from the 0 or 1-dimension energy-balance and radiative-convective models to the most recent and impressive AOGCMs coupled to carbon cycle models.

    I’m hardly convinced by paleoclimates as the better field to constrain equilibrium CS (because uncertainties tend to accumulate from proxy-based values of T and forcings ; eg Schneider vom Deimling et al. 2006: 1,2-4,3 K range from LGM).

    If you mean that CS values inf. to 1-1,5 K are likely ruled out (either by LGM/Holocene or by modern GW), I agree with you in the light of what I’ve read. But I think the main debate is not here (Earth had already warmed of approx. 0,8-1 K from 1750, after all).

    Otherwise, I don’t consider a 1,5-2,5 K equilibrium CS as a “worrying” future for humanity or biodiversity. But “worry” is a subjective matter, not very interesting.

  35. 185
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #184: Charles Muller — What means CS?

    As for biodiversity and increasing temperatures, it is not the amount, but rather the rate of change which is the concern…

  36. 186
    Mark A. York says:

    Througout my work as a low level government biologist I advocated scientists become more political based on what I’d seen inside: political appointees essentially vetoing scientific conclusions. I’d do the fieldwork, make recommendations to fix it based on the data and they’d toss it in the file cabinet and keep doing what had cause the problem in the first place. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the last six years. I’ve worked twice in that time for under a year in length.

    What needs to be advocated though is good science which suggests a course of action and “what if” collection of scenarios A, B, C. This is precisely what Jim Hansen gave that Crichton et al deliberately manipulated, and used to smear him. I wrote him to say he’d have to fight back becasue this bunch doesn’t care about using sleight-of-hand techniques. Now that’s politics in action. Happily he fought back and well. Being politically neutral is one thing; becoming Lysenkoist according to the wishes of the leadership is another.

  37. 187
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #181, many of the measures that need to be implemented are cost-free and pretty painless in terms of lifestyle, e.g. see:
    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/new-vehicle-design-surpasses-0011.html
    and
    http://www.reuters.com/article/gc06/idUSSYD26236520070220

    The problem seems to be not so much that major changes in lifestyle are required, but that some very influential people have an emotional attachment to the concept of zero regulation.

    But there are many precedents that should give you hope: The Clean Air Act, the ban on whale hunting, the creation of national parks, and hundreds of others. Don’t give up hope.

    The most important issue currently is that those with the above emotional attachments have succeeded so far in preventing a majority of people from being convinced of the seriousness of the problem. That is what we need to address first – education. When enough people are convinced there’s a problem, a lot of things will suddenly seem much less painful to them than they do now, like using a low energy lightbulb, or driving a fuel-efficient car, or turning off one’s heating when not in one’s house.

    Education about the hard science is the most important battlefront, and RealClimate is doing it’s bit in that respect.

    Dave

  38. 188
    James says:

    Re #158: [How many of you guys are driving hybrid cars I wonder? Have you taken your homes off the grid? Put your money where your mouths are.]

    Chalk up another Honda Insight driver here. Had mine nearly 4 years now, averaging 70 mpg, zero problems. I must be honest, CO2 was well down on the list of reasons I bought it. I like small, sporty cars, and need a hatchback for carrying dog, bike, and suchlike. Had a Honda CRX previously (only about 40 mpg), and the Insight was the nearest thing I could find.

    Haven’t taken the house off the grid, but efficiency improvements have gotten my monthly electric bill under $50. Heating is maybe 80% solar & renewable wood (a good bit of it from my own lot), and I hope to improve that next year.

    So yeah, you could say I’m putting my money where my mouth is, though I prefer to see it as putting it in my pocket instead of giving it to oil & power companies :-)

  39. 189
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #183(David B.): Jellyfish tartare… mmmmm.

  40. 190
    Charles Muller says:

    #185 CS = Climate sensitivity

  41. 191
    Rod B. says:

    re 182: Richard’s treatise on peer review is quite good and accurate. But, a word of caution. The peer review process with all of its contentions and proving is not a paragon and does not operate quite in practice as the ideal described. Peer review publication is not adverse to biases, prejudices, favoritisms, and cronyism. Such instances, while maybe not prevalent, occur with not infrequent regularity. It still is likely the best process for what it does, but let’s not impart perfection to it.

    The same can be said for the proof/verification process. Works well in fields and situations where the action lends itself to such a process. But there are many examples that don’t — explosions of supernovae an easy example. Climatology, in part, is another, where “proof” is often just a syncing up of assumptions, or running your (less than exact, if truth be known) model and getting pretty much the same indications and results of the (also less than exact) model being “proved”.

    Peer review? A very good system; but not an absolute, not perfect by a long shot, and not the end-all. The argument that “my thoughts must be right because peer-reviewed Nature published it” is not a fait accompli.

    Just doing my job as iconoclast, trying to keep all on the strait and narrows .

  42. 192
    Dana Johnson says:

    Re: 85

    Gavin:

    You indicated that you might post on this again soon, and I would welcome any insight — not just for debate, but think you would probably be able to provide a lot of insight.

    A few quick points:

    1. We probably need a proper definition of “signal-to-noise”, or more precisely forecast validation, to be able to make progress in this part of the discussion.

    2. I think that clear issues in arguing that the 1988 predictions have been validated fall into two sub-topics (i) accuracy, and (ii) definition

    i: Issues with accuracy can be seen in two ways:

    a. The temperature difference predictions 1998 – 2005 that Hansen reports in his paper were actually higher over this timespan in Scenario C (strong emissions reduction) than in Scenario B (base case). I think this indicates that there has not even been clear spearation in the predicted effects over the 1988 – 2005 time period.

    b. If instead of the 17 year period 1988 – 2005 one were to evaluate prediction accuracy over the 12 year period 1988 – 2000, you would find the predictions of warming rates are off by a factor of 6 in the base case (I had to read the values form the chart as I don’t have the underlying data tables, so these are approximations). In fact, you won’t find convergence of the predicted – actual residuals to zero as you proceed from 1988 – 2005 year-by-year, which I is I think a rigorous version of finding validation, subject to the caveat in the next item.

    ii. The deifnition issue is really one of what we mean by validation. It seems to me that the question on the table is atrribution of temperature change to changes in GHGs. Any temperature forecast includes a number of assumptions about future events. For example, as Hansen discusses in the paper each scenario makes assumptions about furture volcanic eruptions. You don’t want to conflate errors in estimating temperature sensitivity with errors in forecasting furture forcings. Therefore, I assume the proper way to do this evaluation would be to escrow a version a model at the time of prediction, and then populate it with actual input values at the time of validation. This is a technique used widely in other analogous modeling fields. I think Scenarios A/B/C is a crude verison of this concept.

    3. Michael Crichton was shameless (in my view) in doing the comparison of forecast to actual in about the year 2000 to come up with his claim that this prediction was “off by 300%”. Hansen has been much more rigorous in concluding that it too early to draw any conclusions.

    Thanks,
    Dana

  43. 193
    Dana Johnson says:

    RE: 127

    Chuck,

    Probably not. Although Einstein did once famously explain the concept of the relative nature of time by saying that a minute with your hand on a hot stive seems longer than an hour with a pretty girl sitting on your lap. Not bad, really.

    Best,
    Dana

  44. 194
    James says:

    Re #153: [James, surely you don’t believe women would have to work for 6 hours a day to pay their electric bill, do you?]

    I don’t do belief, I do the math. Do a quick search for average per capita annual incomes in sub-Saharan Africa. Excluding South Africa, it seems to be about $300/year. Call it $360, or $30/month. I use quite a bit less grid electricity than most, but my typical monthly bill is between $40 and $50. I’ll be generous, and figure that half of that cost is due to higher prices & taxes in the US. So a typical African using the same amount of electricity as I do would have to pay 2/3 of current income for it.

    [And just how are you going to preserve all of those vaccines, drugs, etc. without refrigeration–and therefore electricity.]

    Lots of useful drugs don’t require refrigeration. For those that do, you electrify the medical clinic (and perhaps the local school and so on) using readily available OTG solar & wind technology, thus avoiding all the costs of generating plants and electric supply grid, and not contributing to fossil fuel CO2.

  45. 195
    Dana Johnson says:

    Re:159

    Paul,

    This is, in my opinion, an excellent question.

    The basic purpose of climate models is to simulate the multiple complex feedback effects that drive the majority of the projected global temperature impacts of increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs.

    Similar models are used in many scientific, engineering and financial areas. Normally the two key questions that are asked to evaluate these models are: (1) do the the equations that undergird the model constitute a reasonably complete representaion of known physical laws that drive the outcome of interest?, and (2) has the model been shown to reliably predict the outcome of interest when presented with correct input data?. For climate models, my review of the relevant scientifc literature indicates that the answers to these questions are ‘partially’ and ‘no’. In the interests of fairness, please note that Gavin and I are exchanging posts on this thread in which he does not necessarily agree.

    Also, please note that remaining unconvinced about the proven reliability of climate models doesn’t mean that you think they are a crock. All of my interactions with climate modelers have consistently shown them to be smart and dedicated scientists, just wrestling with an incredibly complicated problem with tools, that in comparison, remain primitive.

    Finally, please note that my position doesn’t mean you don’t beleieve in AGW. If you argue that there is no radiative forcing from CO2, you’ve got a fight with Bohr, Heisenberg et al.

    Good luck,
    Dana

  46. 196
    Philip Machanick says:

    All very interesting — thanks.

    Here in Australia, the Murdoch press loves the denialists to the extent of claiming that calling them that is a deliberate insult, designed to invoke a connection with Holocaust denial.

    In their latest article, Rebels of the Sun we are told things like: “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere account for only about 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the overall warming effect, meaning even major increases in gases lead to only slight shifts in temperature: between 0.5C and 1C”, IPCC models neglect the effects of cloud variation, IPCC reports are massaged for maximum political effect [Lindzen and Carter], Al Gore’s dramatic presentation of CO2 vs. temperature ignored the fact that temperature rises (pre)historically preceded CO2 rises by 800 years, and more.

    This stuff has generally been debunked on this site but it would be useful if as many people as possible sent authoritative letters the The Australian attacking the errors: letters@theaustralian.com.au

  47. 197
    Hank Roberts says:

    > richer later

    Biodiversity will get you through time with no money
    better than money will get you through time with no biodiversity.

  48. 198
    Ed Sears says:

    re 197
    Ha ha ha ha, spot on.

    Going back to Stott’s pre-debate statement about fear of the climate in earlier civilisations, the evidence from Jared Diamond in ‘Collapse: how societies chose to fail or survive’ (2005) Viking Penguin is that 1) several large and complex civilisations have collapsed due to climate change when they had spread to the point where their agriculture relied on marginal lands. 2) modern civilisation is very vulnerable to a change in climate. Which leads to 3) fear of civilisation collapsing may be hard to quantify but is justified by the historical evidence – you don’t have to think it’s a punishment from God etc.

  49. 199
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE 151

    …”I’m puzzled: exactly how would electricity – just electricity and nothing else – change this? It would seem to depend a lot more on medical care – trained personel, immunizations & antibiotics, public education – which could all be had without electricity.”…

    You can’t have medications, and or medical care, without petroleum and their by products.

    For example:

    a) it requires electricity to run a pharm plant as well as cover R&D to develop new pharm medicines
    b) petroleum and their products are a crucial ingredient in many things including and besides medications such as asphalt, tires, plastics, and agriculture.
    c) it requires the use of energy to transport the medications, to provide
    medical care..

    The one good thing to mention here, is that some of these products are sinks for the CO2, such as plastics.

    Energy in the United States: 1635-2000
    Total Energy

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/eh/total.html

    …”Petroleum got its start as an illuminant and ingredient in patent medicines and did not catch on as a fuel for some time.”…

    Petroleum Products EIA September 2005
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/infosheets/petroleumproducts.htm

    …” Less obvious are the uses of petroleum-based components of plastics, medicines, food items, and a host of other products. Petroleum products fall into three major categories: fuels such as motor gasoline and distillate fuel oil (diesel fuel); finished nonfuel products such as solvents and lubricating oils; and feedstocks for the petrochemical industry such as naphtha and various refinery gases.”…

    …”In 2004 petroleum products contribute about 40.2 percent of the energy used in the United States. This is a larger share than any other energy source including natural gas with a 23 percent share, coal with about a 22 percent share, and the combination of nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal and other sources comprising the remaining 14 percent share.”..

    …”Electric utilities use residual fuel to generate electricity. Although this sector uses relatively little petroleum compared with the transportation and industrial sectors, the electric utility sector depends on petroleum for about 5 percent of its total energy requirements. “…

    …”Petrochemical Feedstocks
    Petroleum feedstocks have been used in the commercial production of petrochemicals since the 1920’s. Petrochemical feedstocks are converted to basic chemical building blocks and intermediates used to produce plastics, synthetic rubber, synthetic fibers, drugs, and detergents. Naphtha, one of the basic feedstocks, is a liquid obtained from the refining of crude oil.”…

    …”Industry data show that the chemical industry uses nearly 1.5 million barrels per day of natural gas liquids and liquefied refinery gases as petrochemical feedstocks and plant fuel. Demand for textiles, explosives, elastomers, plastics, drugs, and synthetic rubber during World War II increased the petrochemical use of refinery gases. Gas byproducts from the production of gasoline are an important source of many feedstocks.”…

    Sustainable Table: The Issues: Buy Local
    http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/energy/
    …”The biggest culprit of fossil fuel usage in industrial farming is not transporting food or fueling machinery; itâ??s chemicals. As much as forty percent of energy used in the food system goes towards the production of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. xii .”…

    …”(In 2005, more than $120 billion of agricultural products crossed U.S. borders as imports and exports.)xx As a result, the average American foodstuff travels an estimated 1,500 miles before being consumed“…

    …”The USDA estimates that making all our farmlandâ??s irrigation systems just ten percent more efficient would annually save eighty million gallons of diesel gasoline spent on pumping and applying the water.xxii Similarly, reducing repetitive fertilizer application on the 250 million acres of major cropland in the United States would save approximately one billion dollars worth of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides (not to mention prevent soil and water pollution).xxiii “…

    Biodegradable Plastics – Developments and Environmental Impacts
    http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/publications/waste/degradables/biodegradable/chapter9.html
    …”In the manufacture of hydrocarbon polymers, carbon is taken from one carbon sink (e.g. an oil deposit) to another carbon sink (plastic) with no net production of atmospheric carbon other than that generated during energy production for the conversion process.”

    Letter: ‘Green’ plastic bottles will not help the environment
    Independent, The (London), May 31, 2006 JOHN BARTON
    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20060531/ai_n16431382
    …”A conventional plastic bottle going to landfill just sits there, not as energy efficient as recycling but at least it’s a cheap carbon sink and, who knows, in decades to come one that can be mined when we’re really desperate. “…

    MODERN MEDICINE AND FOSSIL FUEL RESOURCES
    Caryl Johnston, M.Ed., M.L.S., Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care, Jefferson Medical College
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze495hz/id19.html
    …”The progress of medical knowledge and practice in the modern era has depended on the steady rise in fossil-fuel usage.[1] “…”Yet medical educators have yet to make themselves and their students aware of how much medical practice and supplies depend upon the energy released in hydrocarbon fuels, specifically oil and natural gas.”…”Petroleum is the key ingredient in the wide variety of plastic medical supplies used in medical and surgical life-support systems, such as airways, anesthesia, bags, catheters, dishes, drains, gloves, heart valves, needles, syringes, tubes, etc. Petroleum impacts on medical care at every level. As Burt Kline, a former director of the Division of Energy Policy of the Health Resources Administration put it back in 1981 — “Advanced technology is worthless without the energy to run it.”“…“Energy scarcity presents all of us with major challenges, but perhaps no sector of society will be more challenged than the medical field.”…

  50. 200
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE 157. …”I haven’t yet seen anything from NOAA myself. “…

    NOAA SAYS U.S. WINTER TEMPERATURE NEAR AVERAGE: Global December-February Temperature Warmest on Record
    NOAA News Online (Story 2819), (15 Mar 2007)
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2007/s2819.htm

    “The December 2006-February 2007 U.S. winter season had an overall temperature that was near average, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “…”The global average temperature was the warmest on record for the December-February period.“…

    …”The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest on record in February—“…

    …”El Niño conditions contributed to the seasonâ??s record warmth, but the episode rapidly weakened in February, as ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific cooled more than 0.5 degrees F/0.3 degrees C and were near average for the month. Separately, the global December-February land-surface temperature was the warmest on record, while the ocean-surface temperature tied for second warmest in the 128-year period of record, approximately 0.1 degree F (0.06 degrees C) cooler than the record established during the very strong El Niño episode of 1997-1998.”…


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