RealClimate logo

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. 301
    Dan says:

    No question, the CO2 is off the charts, from any previous point. Very concerning and no CO2 slow down in sight!

    So why did T, not spike up as high this time, as it has in the past?

  2. 302
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #301: Dan — About all that can currently be said is that the Eemian (last previous interglacial) was warmer than the Holocene. Enough so that the sea stand was about 5 meters higher. Due to anthropogenic contributions, we may still get to that point and beyond.

    Each glacial period proceeds slightly differently. Rocks weather and erode, biological organisms evolve, etc…

  3. 303
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rate of change, Dan.

    You can’t say it didn’t happen until your grandchildren tell you it didn’t happen; it’ll be happening on their watch, not yours.

  4. 304
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, a better (more informative) answer here:

    We Can’t Afford to “Wait and See” on Climate Change
    …. think of GHGs in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. …

    The CO2 isn’t hot all by itself; it’s just holding the heat in slightly better.

    Go to bed. Put on a big down comforter or two. Do you overheat instantly?

  5. 305
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #301 T-spike

    The temperature will spike, don’t worry. Or come to think of it, better do worry.

  6. 306
    Dan says:

    ok, but if we’ve already past the peak, from an orbital forcing perspective, why did we not reach the T max from past cycles?

    You are saying we will peak because of anthropomorphic CO2(no argument from me). I am asking why we did not peak to the levels seen in the past, in the natural cycle?

    (…and yes, I will worry, regardless)

  7. 307
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #303 Why no Milankovich spike now?

    OK, I misunderstood your question. Dunno, I will have to look it up. Maybe somebody else knows offhand?

  8. 308
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #303, I think it takes a long time (from our ordinary view point) for the temp to respond to the CO2. As per God and geologists, a thousand years is as a day.

    The phrase scientists are using is “the warming’s in the pipes.” So, even if we reduce our GHG emissions to zero today, there will still be a lot of warming catching up to our previous emissions — I think on the order of up to 2 degrees or so. I’m not sure.

    And the really problematic thing is that up to one quarter of our CO2 emissions can stay in the atmosphere up to 100,000 years, according to David Archer. That’s alot of global warming bang for the buck’s worth of CO2. So adding more & more only compounds a serious problem.

    At any rate it really behooves us to reduce our GHGs AMAP, bec even a tiny bit of help in a heating world would be like offering a jigger of water to a greatly thirsting person — much appreciated.

  9. 309
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan, we are nowhere near the end of this warming epoch, and there is no telling exactly where this will go.

  10. 310
    Dan Lawless says:

    Re: 308 and 309.

    Ray and Lynn,

    Thanks, but I am not disagreeing with any of that, at all.

    I am asking, if we’ve already past the peak, from an orbital forcing perspective, why did we not reach the T max from past cycles already? Anthopomorphic CO2 should only make it worse, but we did not reach the T max seen in the other cycles? I would just like to understand why or please correct me if this is wrong.

  11. 311
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #310: Dan Lawless — Perhaps you missed my #302. Possibly a smaller orbital forcing explains (part of) the answer you want. This seems ok for previous interglacials I, II, and III. But not for IV, about 420 kya. Hence my reply in #302…

  12. 312
    Dan Lawless says:

    Re #311 Thanks and sorry, I did miss your #302. It just looks like this cycle caps off, in a much different way than the past cycles. Is there any paper or article on why T did not max out yet, the way it did in the past cycles? Is there any article/paper/study on the “smaller orbital forcing”, in this cycle?

    (Note: my point IS NOT to counter GW theory! I am just trying to understand this one part.)

  13. 313
    J.C.H says:

    Sea Change in Public Attitudes Toward Global Warming Emerge; Climate Change Seen as Big a Threat as Terrorism

    New Haven, Conn. � A new Yale research survey reveals a significant shift in public attitudes toward the environment and global warming. Fully 83 percent of Americans now say global warming is a �serious� problem, up from 70 percent in 2004.

    read the article here:

  14. 314
  15. 315
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, did you read this?

    We Can’t Afford to “Wait and See” on Climate Change
    …. think of GHGs in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. …

    Illustration here:
    (and another copy of the article, with more sidebars and notes)

    Try asking questions about an available explanation, that might help us understand what you’re using as your source for your information. If you’re looking at someone’s page, anywhere, tell us your source and why you’re relying on it for your facts.

    Very simply — until this time, the rate of change of climate was all natural, and at a far slower pace than the current spike, with one exception at the “PETM” event that was still slower than today’s by far.

    Look up “biogeochemical cycles” or “carbon cycle” and look in particular at how fast things happen.

    Human activity is like an asteroid impact — 200 years of fossil fuel burning is much closer to one huge explosion than to any cyclical natural change.

  16. 316
    Dan Lawless says:

    Re: #311 Thanks and Sorry, I had missed your #302
    [Possibly a smaller orbital forcing explains (part of) the answer you want]
    Is there any data/research/articles on this smaller orbital forcing? I am interested to better understand, more specifically, why T caps off in a very different way, than previous cycles.

    (Note: to be clear, I stipulate that massive anthropomorphic CO2 increases are making the planet hotter. I am not challenging this!)

  17. 317
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, this is also perhaps helpful in understanding what’s different about today’s situation.

    “wait-and-see policies erroneously presume climate change can be reversed quickly should harm become evident, underestimating substantial delays in the climateâ��s response to anthropogenic forcing. We report experiments with highly educated adults–graduate students at MIT–showing widespread misunderstanding of the fundamental stock and flow relationships, including mass balance principles, that lead to long response delays. GHG emissions are now about twice the rate of GHG removal from the atmosphere. GHG concentrations will therefore continue to rise even if emissions fall, stabilizing only when emissions equal removal. In contrast, results show most subjects believe atmospheric GHG concentrations can be stabilized while emissions into the atmosphere continuously exceed the removal of GHGs from it. These beliefs–analogous to arguing a bathtub filled faster than it drains will never overflow–support wait-and-see policies but violate conservation of matter.”

    Note also, the problem isn’t that it’s human-caused, it’s the rate of change that’s the problem,:

    “Natural climate changes in times past, perhaps the closest paleoclimate analogy being the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago (when lots of stored carbon was released to the atmosphere), would be no less a problem for being natural if their analogue occurred today on human timescales.”

    as posted in some guy’s weblog at
    (my excerpt from much good info posted there) by: Scott Saleska at December 3, 2006 09:49 AM

  18. 318
    Dan Lawless says:

    Hank – I’m unsure why you are writing to me about “wait and see” policies. I am not advocating waiting in any way and that has nothing to do with what I was asking. I don’t see how your answers relate to my question, though maybe I am missing your point.

    I simply looked at these charts and wanted to understand why T had not reached the max in this cycle, that it had in past cycles:

  19. 319
    Halldor Bjornsson says:

    During the debate Richard Somerville took the example of a few holdouts (contrarians) against plate tectonics after it had been accepted by the scientific mainstream. Michael Cricton responded to this by saying that Richard was wrong, the theory was an example of the lone scientist (Wegener) being correct when the scientific consensus was wrong (see comments # 152,160 and 240 above). The excellent book by Hallam, Great Geological Controversies has a chapter on the story of Wegeners theory of Continental Drift and how new data, and improved theoretical understanding led to the theory of Plate Tectonics which was eventually generally accepted. Crichtons description is misleading since this is essentially a story of a controversial idea that is not quite correct, but later revised as more data becomes available and then the improved idea is (basically) proven correct. Richard got it right, not Crichton. New ideas often have to overcome strong opposition and convince many a sceptic before being accepted. That’s how science works, and it is good practice. Now, if the “scientific consensus” on Plate Tectonics had been overturned and the contrarians proven right (this would have needed some data to disprove plate tectonics, and there isn’t any) then Crichtons point would have been valid.

    However, Crichton cannot help it but to bring Albert Einstein into the fray. He recounts the well known story of the the anti-semetic rant “100 scientist against Einstein” and Einsteins retort : “If I were wrong, one would be enough”.

    I found this example to be amusing. It is hard to appreciate just how controversial many of Einsteins ideas were at the time. Einstein got the Nobel prize in 1921 “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. No mention of Relativity which at the time still had to many powerfull contrarians opposing it (especially the powerful academy member Allvar Gullstrand, see for an account), and this despite a growing body of evidence in its favor. Now-a-days the contrarians would have their own webpage “”.

    What I found amusing about Crichtons anecdote was simply the obvious conclusion when one considers the science of anthropogenic greenhouse warming : If this science was wrong, Richard Lindzen would be enough!

  20. 320
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, temperature _did_ reach the max — about 11,000 years ago. Ice ages end suddenly (for geologic time values of sudden, not for human time scale values).

    You can see each of those events in that 400,000 year scale.

    Next look a bit further down the page and follow the link to this picture:

    Look at about 11,000 years ago — that’s where the temperature peaked, the last time.

    (You’ll ask why each glaciation and subsequent warm peak isn’t exactly the same, perhaps; nature’s not precise.)

    Temperature began the very slow downward trend after the peak, which persisted for, oh, ten thousand years or so. During that time span — at a rate of change imperceptible to human life spans and oral history — people developed agriculture (see Ruddiman’s work) and then coal, and then petroleum.

    Why does temperature start to go down after each spike that ends a glaciation? Life, probably — biogeochemical cycling efficiently pulls carbon out, at geological rates. That’s the process that was going on all the time, and you can probably find plankton data in the sedimentary core records showing how life adjusted to the warming and started packing carbon away faster and more efficiently.

    Remember we and the more efficient forms of plankton (those living worldwide rather than just in shallow continental shelf water) both evolved in the last 100-200,000 year stretch. We change things a bit, eh?

    Now look at the same stretch of 11,000 years, with an insert showing the last two hundred years.

    Look at the science on how plankton populations are changing with warming and with increasing CO2 dissolved in the ocean. The first prediction is more variability.

    Is this making sense yet? The temperature peak and CO2 peak at the end of the last glaciation happened 11,000 years ago.

    Then people dumped a huge amount of CO2 into the tail end of that period, when temperature was in a very slow decline as it’s done each time before.

    What happens now is all but unprecedented. There’s the PETM — look at this picture,

    you’ll see the spike labeled. No other event known now dumped so much carbon so fast into the biosphere; temperature spiked. Get a picture of that at higher resolution — you see how to find this by now, eh? Google Image Search, put the terms in, to find that sort of imagery.

    Compare the rate of change during the PETM to current rate of change.

  21. 321
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    #280 raypierre
    Its hard to win a game when the other side doesn’t play by the rules.

    Even when you play by the rules you need someone who can play both sets of rules. Like Dione Sanders who could play both baseball and football very well, and unlike one of the best basketball players, Michael Jordan, who could not get into the majors in Major League Baseball.

  22. 322
    Dan Lawless says:

    So 11Kyrs ago temp comes up and stays relatively flat for a long time, as compared to previous cycles. Why? The last 11Kyrs look a lot different than previous cycles. So you are saying this is because of animal and plant life? or is this just accepted as normal variation? Is the smaller orbital forcing mentioned above a factor in why T did not spike as high 11Kyrs ago, as it had in previous cycles?

  23. 323

    I found the “debate” mentioned on the US Senate website (Inhofe presumably?) — screeching how the scientists (and Al Gore) got their butts whipped! I just find it amusing that this minutiae from perhaps better-spoken fiction writers is considered a “knockout blow” — what about all that climateaudit “we’re real scientists too” ululating? ;-)

  24. 324

    [[Thanks! It seems that each of the previous T spikes have gone higher than we are today. So how much of warming today is from Milankovic cycles versus anthropomophic CO2 increases? (not arguing against GW, but trying understand how much is natural vs artificial) ]]

    The present warming is almost entirely artificial. The CO2 is not coming from the oceans because the oceans are a net sink at the moment. It is coming from burning fossil fuels, which we know from the isotope ratios. Carbon from the biosphere has a certain fraction of 14C, but carbon from fossil fuels has none because it’s too old — all the 14C has decayed away. Hans Suess first demonstrated the presence of CO2 from fossil fuel burning in 1955.

  25. 325

    [[No question, the CO2 is off the charts, from any previous point. Very concerning and no CO2 slow down in sight!

    So why did T, not spike up as high this time, as it has in the past? ]]

    Because there isn’t enough to cause a very large temperature rise yet. Radiative forcing from CO2 in the present regime is proportionate to the log of the concentration. We’ve gone from 280 to 390 ppmv, ln (390/280) = 0.33. Doubling it (ln 2 = 0.69) only gives you +1.2 K by itself (3.0 K with feedbacks, and absent other forcings). But the warming so far (about 0.8 K since 1900 or so) is enough to cause significant climate effects. And other forcings are present, some of them negative (like airborn aerosols).

  26. 326
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #289, #294, #314 Predictive value of models (Dana)

    Dana, thanks for your answer.

    However, I tend to disagree with your distinction between hindcasting and forecasting to verify a computer model’s performance. If I want to test my gravity model, or my predictions of wind loads on a bridge, there’s really no need for me to do the experiment AFTER I made the prediction. In fact, meteorologists are using the same old measured data sets all the time to verify model improvements.

    Therefore In my opinion, the climate models have been verified – at least to such an extent that we’re entirely justified in trusting them more than somebody’s gut feeling. The figures I referred to earlier are in #314 (thanks, Dave).

    (It goes without saying that in hindcasting you should play it fair and make your ‘postdiction’ without peeking.)

  27. 327
    Dan Lawless says:

    RE# 325

    So 11k years ago, we reach the peak T, from an orbital forcing perspective(assuming above is correct). Why did T 11k years ago, not reach the T max it has in previous cycles? I’ve heard smaller orbital forcing and/or natural variation. I’m wondering if there is any background on this or other explanations.

    Then why did T stay relatively(relative to previous cycles) flat for the next 10K years. In other cycles T spikes up then drops much more rapidly.

  28. 328
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 327 and precedent. Dan, I think one misconception you have is that you seem to expect that the same input to the climatic system should produce the same output. Since climate is chaotic, this is not necessarily the case. In a chaotic system the same input when the system is in even a slightly different initial state may produce a very different outcome.
    Moreover, paleoclimatology is a somewhat fraught discipline. We can only infer what the climate was like via proxies, and different proxies have differing degrees of reliability. The paleoclimatologists have done an amazing job with what they have to work with, coming up with a very self-consistent picture of climate over the millennia and eons. It is very difficult, however to compare two paleoclimatic epochs of warming or cooling and state with 100% certainty how they were the same or how they differed.

    In terms of the current epoch, paleoclimate provides a guide for the range of outcomes we might expect. Predicting which one will be realized is not possible, as we don’t know which region of phase space we are pushing our climate into or how stable it will be once it gets there.

  29. 329
    Eric says:

    Re #280

    …tactics which play more to peoples’ feelings, tactics which even extend to ridicule of opponents…I’m not sure what such tactics would look like…

    Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?

  30. 330
    cat black says:

    #328. [joke] Um…. no I think it isn’t intended that way. It is intended to allow decent people to call liars and frauds to task by calling them liars and frauds. Or perhaps to do that more politely, not that I would know a why to do so and get the point across.

  31. 331
    chris says:

    It sounded like the other side had no scientists, but two of them seem eminently qualified. I would like to see the podcast because the transcript reads much differently than I was lead to believe on this blog.

  32. 332
    Dan Lawless says:

    Re: 328 Thanks. I don’t know that I have an expectation. Just trying to understand what is known and quantifiable vs unknown and not quantifiable.

    If the real answer is just natural variability + differences in animal and plant life, I can live with that. I would have guessed that there are some very specific theories around this, but I don’t know.

  33. 333
    Luke Silburn says:

    Re Dan Lawless’ questions.

    I think part of the confusion here has arisen by Dan’s usage of ‘now’ and ‘current’ in his earlier Qs. He wasn’t referring to the present day situation, but rather the characteristics of the most recent glacial/interglacial transition (which is ‘now/current’ on a geological scale of course, but not in common usage).

    Dan – my initial guesses (I’m just an interested layman so this is really a bit of a stab in the dark) regarding your questions about the 11kya warming would either be:

    i) It just is that way, some transitions spike higher than others (paleoclimatologists might be along soon who can explain some of the factors in this variability).


    ii) It’s an artifact. That is, data quality and resolution tends to degrade as you go further back in time, so the ‘difference’ you see in the most recent warming may have actually been present in those other warmings but has now sunk into the noise (again a paleoclimatologist could probably add detail here).


  34. 334
    Dan Lawless says:

    Luke: good clarity. That’s along the lines of what I am wondering. I had thought about your ii), but don’t know enough about it. Thanks

  35. 335
    Eric says:

    Re #330

    You see what I mean…

  36. 336
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, look for pictures of what the planet looked like during each of the past glaciations — and a timeline of what evolved over the timespan.

    Also worth noting that the glacial cycles themselves are just a fairly “recent” phenomenon, and if you look at the really long ago information, the planet was very much warmer for a very long time; you can see that Antarctica iced over and melted a couple of times.

    Correlate that with the slow changes in the astronomical conditions, the intermittent asteroid bombardment that rearranged the carbon cycle ….

    Remember both we and the coccolithophorids evolved in the last 100-200k years — and didn’t become dominant in our own realms (agriculture, plankton shell formation) until a while after that.

  37. 337
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan, you have read the AIP History? This is a real solid basis for shared conversation. The ice age section is:

  38. 338
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Sen. Inhofe referred to the apparent shift in debate sentiment in last week’s debate in NYC from before to after in his opening statement as VP Gore’s appearance before the Sen. Enviro. Committee began.

  39. 339
    Steven Soleri says:

    It is quite amusing when collaborating scientists have their prevailing dogma challenged by common sense and observational fact. What did Lincoln say about fooling all the people all the time? The concept that .012% manmade CO2 gasses overides the fact that the sun accounts for 99.9% of climate variablity just does not wash with the little people. Especially when that same 99.9% has been studied far less than the vaunted CO2 trace gas. Now if you really want to do a true-blue cause-effect study determine how many of the global warming proponents adhere to liberal and socialist views….how does….. oh 90-100% sound?

  40. 340
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 339: Uh, Steve, we’ve studied the sun up the kazoo. We can in fact measure its output and we know that it has not changed sufficiently to account for the massive changes we are seeing. We know it cannot explain why we are seeing such dramatic effects at the poles. CO2 has in fact increased by >40% since about 1800, and we know by the changes in isotopic abundance that the source of the new carbon in the atmosphere is a fossil source. We know that CO2 accounts for roughly 12% of the greenhouse effect. We know a lot of things about Earth’s climate, and the contributors to are among those who have helped to figure these things out. Finally, we know that politics are irrelevant to the science. Contributors include those who are pro nuclear power and pro markets (myself among them) and those who are to the right and left of me.
    Now, are you going to accuse Jim Baker of being a liberal. How about the CEOs of GE, BP, Boeing and even all but one of the utility CEOs who testified on Capitol Hill yesterday. Even George W Bush has said that humans are causing climate to change. Steve, it’s time to contact the mothership. You’re behind on your talking points.

  41. 341
    David B. Benson says:

    Dan Lawless — Looking at the graph in Archer/Ganopolski, A movable trigger: Fossil fuel CO_2 and the onset of the next glaciation, one sees that they think the Holocene is a most unusally long interglacial, even in the absence of anthropogenic effects. If correct, the naturally warmest part of the Holocene would have been in about 30 ky, after a most gradual cooling trend for about 20 ky.

    This assumes that far north insolation, orbital forcing, is the major factor in adjusting the global temperature.

    The paper, by the way, is easy to locate, but there is also a link to it on the What triggers an ice age thread. down a few in the thread stack.

  42. 342
    Ian K says:

    Gavin (and Ray)
    I don’t know if you are still listening. I donâ��t know if I missed it in the 300+ postings above, but I suspect no-one gave this version of why you lost the debate.

    A debate is hand-to-hand verbal battle where to win is to be believable as a human being. So if your opponent presents a “fact”, you have to counterpunch with a “counterfact”. You didn’t do this enough but kept too much to script. Counterpunching has the following advantages:
    1. It shows you are a good listener.
    2. It shows respect for your opponent.
    3. It shows that you have done your homework because you are ready to respond.
    3. It shows you can think on your feet.

    All of the above give credibility, which is how the audience is assessing you, not only on what you know.

    The audience doesn’t need facts as such (they can look up those in a book). It needs to know where you and your facts are coming from. Crichton did this very well with his little story of how he started off as an AGW believer and, after investigating things, ended up a skeptic. When faced with a story like this you need to counter with your own story. Why exactly were you at that debate, Gavin? When did you first believe in AGW? Alternatively, what went through your mind when you knew you would be up against someone like Crichton? Stories. Stories. Stories.

    The above does not require theatricality, it requires being willing to present yourself as a whole human being rather than an abstract font of knowledge.

  43. 343
    Rod B. says:

    re 289, et al: I recall there being a pile of fine-tuning many of the parameters over the years — the power/log relationship between forcing and CO2 concentrations until it came out right comes to mind. Now, I recognize that that is how modeling is done and would not make the accusation of, devious at least, curve fitting. But, in fact, out of necessity it’s not far from curve fitting and ought to mitigate the “110% absolutely positively true” stuff because “the model says!”

    [Response: The power-log relation between CO2 and radiative forcing is not “tuned.” That comes from radiative transfer and laboratory measurements. The relationship was nearly correctly done even by Arrhenius’ formulation based on atmospheric measurements; this part of the radiative transfer has hardly changed further since Manabe and Wetherald’s work in the 1960’s. If you want to focus on aspects of the models that are really subject to tuning, you should be thinking about clouds and sea ice. –raypierre]

  44. 344
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Mr. Gore Goes to Washington

    I watched most of VP Gore’s testimony yesterday online and some was repeated overnight on TV. It was both great public policy and theater on display at the same time. The Republicans objected as expected, but most of their objections were about how to solve the problem and far less time was devoted to attacks on the science. Indeed, Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Barton seem more and more marginalized as other former skeptics on the right now focus on pet issues like promoting nuclear power instead of questioning the conclusions of the IPCC reports.

    Gore made a number of proposals for the legislators to consider.

    1. Moratorium on any new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture controls. Objections were that this would force up the price of natural gas since there are no such control technologies at present and natural gas would be the only viable alternative. Gore himself cited an MIT study that said such technologies are at least 10 years off.

    2. Immediate freeze on CO2 emissions to achieve a 90% reduction by 2050. Proposals to gradually reduce emissions over time are not enough, he said.

    3. Move the start date of the next Kyoto treaty to 2010 so that the new U.S. president can use his/her political authority more effectively to get the U.S. involved. He cited the example of how nuclear arms treaties in the 1970’s were stalled for various reasons, but ratified in the 1980’s under a different name. So out with Kyoto, in with: New York?

    4. Include land use changes, methane emissions and black carbon aerosol from soot in the follow on treaty to bring China and India in.

    5. Make companies report their CO2 emissions in financial reports as this is a risk that investors need to know.

    6. Raise CAFE standards as part of a comprehensive plan that includes homes and commercial buildings.

    7. Ban incandescent light bulbs.

    8. Encourage cap and trade plans for carbon emissions.

    9. Develop a decentralized electrical grid he called the “ElectraNet” analogous to the Internet to encourage the widespread generation of distributed power by individuals using PV and wind. Allow net metering at market and not utility set rates.

    10. Establish a new quasi governmental home mortga*e entity, Connie Mae to package carbon neutral mortga*e elements like energy efficiency improvements and give discounts to home buyers.

    11. Shift federal taxes from payroll and production to energy consumption and carbon taxes in a way that is revenue neutral while also earmarking revenues to soften the effect on low income taxpayers.

    12. The U.S. should lead on climate change, not obstruct and censor. If we lead, China will follow, he says. The Chinese are not dummies. They know they are going to get screwed big time by GW unless something is done.

    Back to the Inhofe opening act. I was making a joke the other day when I suggested that MOCs might want to quiz Gore on “how GREEN was his HOUSE.” Inhofe took that recommendation all the way with a demand that Gore pledge to use only as much energy as the average American family.

    Look, I don’t care if Al and Tipper live in a McCastle and burn peat and baby pandas to stay warm. The kind of changes Gore is recommending would affect everyone, including him and Sen. Inhofe.

    Inhofe also produced a chart purporting to show the names of 65 members of NAS who dispute there is any global warming. I guess the 17,000 or whatever number it was of “scientists” on the petition he used to refer to is no longer operative. NAS has some 2300 members, so 65 is less than 3% and I would have to see the 65, their credentials and what they actually said in order to believe there are even that many.

    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Inhofe also talked about the NYC debate, citing the change in the vote from those who thought it was a crisis to the other way around. I seriously doubt most people at the hearing or watching on TV understood what he was talking about. A little too inside the GW baseball.

    Methinks that Jimmy Mountain may have had his Army McCarthy moment yesterday also. Badgering the witness may cut it on Law and Order or Perry Mason, but it played rather poorly in front of the other senators. I sense that the GOP may be about ready to replace the man, who of all things, ran an insurance company into the ground before becoming a professional politician with self-made millionaire John Warner as ranking member. If not, the Roy Scheider line in Jaws is prescient. Barbara, you’re going to need a bigger gavel.

    [Response: Minor note. The names Inhofe produced were basically a list of the standard sceptics. As far as I can tell only Lindzen and Allegre are members of their respective National Academies. – gavin]

  45. 345

    [[It is quite amusing when collaborating scientists have their prevailing dogma challenged by common sense and observational fact. What did Lincoln say about fooling all the people all the time? The concept that .012% manmade CO2 gasses overides the fact that the sun accounts for 99.9% of climate variablity just does not wash with the little people.]]

    The little people don’t get a vote. You have no right to an opinion on a scientific subject if you haven’t studied the science involved. And your 0.012% figure is completely bogus. CO2 is 40% higher than the background level due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

    [[ Especially when that same 99.9% has been studied far less than the vaunted CO2 trace gas.]]

    Climatologists haven’t studied the sun? No, that’s the job of solar astrophysicists. But climatologists have studied how changes in insolation have affected climate in the past. Again you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    [[ Now if you really want to do a true-blue cause-effect study determine how many of the global warming proponents adhere to liberal and socialist views….how does….. oh 90-100% sound?]]

    How does… you’re wrong sound? How does… ad hominem arguments don’t prove anything because they’re a logical fallacy sound? How does… trying to provoke people instead of trying to learn something is stupid sound?

  46. 346
    Steven Soleri says:

    Ok, I am sorry my comments raised ire and defense for GW theory advocates. I appreciate this site and have learned from it. First let me say in response to the “little people do not get to vote”. Well now that is where the core of this issue lies isn’t it. They do get to vote and decide not only on the science but on policy at the ballot…and we all know this is where the challenge is. Convince the “little folks” and you can change the world (right or wrong). The aforementioned debate shows that “consenus scientists” have a long way to go.

    You say my comments were ad hominem….the argument is simply this and you may wish to do a sincere search of your convictions (scientific or emotional) before answering:

    If the observational record for the next 15 years showed a cooling trend would you be willing to admit the science was totally flawed? Can you imagine the impact such a likely occurence would have on the credibility of scientific consensus hence forth. Something to consider before stating such a complex theory as man made GW as fact.

    The observational record (not proxy data) shows significant cooling/warming trends before the industrial revolution. Knowing this why would you want to show such strong conviction on a theory that has not been empirically proved?

    A statistician recently offered up the statement that he had the data to prove that the occurence of a large meteor strike (a much more dire scenario) is a much greater potential than a GW catastrophe. If this could be proved true would you have the same fervor to deploy all of our resources to this threat.

    If GW is such a threat why do most adovacates agree with the trade of pollution credits. The threat is dire and all peoples in all countries (especially china) need to change fossil fuel behavior now. And please do not tell me US leadership is needed…. totalitarian contries do not follow our lead (except through might and I think there are no advocates of that persuasion here).

    At one time I worked with a large group of Oceanographers (PhD’s all at the USCG Oceanographic Unit) and I recall always that the older more contemplative scientists were very reluctant to speak in the realm of “conclusive evidence” or “consensus” when discussing theory. In fact to an individulal nearly all emphasized the very real possibility of countering opinion being correct. One must admit (or do you admit) this seems to be missing on the GW argument.

    And I do thank you for providing the time to at lease consider the above.

  47. 347
    Dan says:

    re 346: “The aforementioned debate shows that “consenus scientists” have a long way to go.”

    No, to the contrary, across the world the consensus scientists have been listened to and respected, resulting in significant policy changes taking place. One example: Just look at what has occurred in the UK in the past month.

    ” In fact to an individulal nearly all emphasized the very real possibility of countering opinion being correct. One must admit (or do you admit) this seems to be missing on the GW argument.”

    Bear in mind that not one skeptic/denialist has published any “counter opinion” (theory) with suitable scientific evidence which can explain the recent global warming over the past 30 years. The warming simply can not be explained with natural variations/forcings. Only when anthropogenic CO2 is factored can warming be explained. If one has a “counter opinion”, it has to be based on science that can withstand the usual scientific analysis/scrutiny. In many scientific fields, including my own, they do. Not so for AGW deniers.

  48. 348

    #342, Gavin didn’t loose the debate and Lindzen did not win. It was just a start, in especially demolishing Lindzen’s and friends obstinance in explaining that its colder out there (since 1998), you don’t need your senses of temperature, “trust us” – “you are feeling nothing unusual”. The basic premise
    of anthropogenic climate change is that it is different than natural variation. It was a big leap for stubborn contrarians to admit that there is a warming going on world wide, that took them many years to admit (there are very few contrarians who are exclaiming no recent warming). Being experts in this domain they should have been with their colleagues and admit a world wide warming decades ago, since it is their business to know these things. Now that they have joined the group, they are holding on to natural temperature variation theory, driven by? “Natural variation”… How does it work? “Temperature varies naturally”. Recent world wide warming trend? “It is normal, there will be a cooling trend soon”. How soon? “as soon as it happens!” – So they say, and exposing this non academic comedic stance is the job of boring scientists.

  49. 349
    James says:

    Re #346: […why would you want to show such strong conviction on a theory that has not been empirically proved?]

    Because the only way to provide empirical proof is to let it happen. If it does happen then you’re left with the consequences, while the whole point of taking action to mitigate AGW is to avoid (as much as is still possible) those consequences.

    […a large meteor strike (a much more dire scenario) is a much greater potential than a GW catastrophe. If this could be proved true would you have the same fervor to deploy all of our resources to this threat.]

    Of course. And if you bother to look, you will find that money is being spent on locating and tracking asteroids, so that if one should happen to be on a collision course, we’ll know in time to do something about it.

    [If GW is such a threat why do most adovacates agree with the trade of pollution credits.]

    Where’s the evidence that they do? If in fact that’s so, it might be because while such schemes are far from optimum, they’re the best they can get the bureaucrats to accept?

    […totalitarian contries do not follow our lead (except through might and I think there are no advocates of that persuasion here.]

    Wrong again :-)

    As for your earlier claim that AGW supporters are 90-100% liberal/socialist, I don’t suppose there’s any way to take a poll? I’m certainly not in that camp.

  50. 350
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Re: 346

    Temperatures go up and down for reasons. Not randomness. There’s no such thing as variability that doesn’t reflect underlying causes. Right now, due to an increase in GHG, we’ve got a calculable addition to the earth’s energy budget which is sufficient to have warmed the atmosphere by the observed amount. There’s no other candidate among the leading causes. Occam’s Razor: the GHG did it.

    Pleading “natural variability” is a non-starter. There isn’t some independent force called “natural variability”.