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Fun with correlations!

Filed under: — gavin @ 9 May 2007 - (Türkçe)

We are forever being bombarded with apparently incredible correlations of various solar indices and climate. A number of them came up in the excoriable TGGWS mockumentary last month where they were mysteriously ‘improved’ in a number of underhand ways. But even without those improvements (which variously involved changing the axes, drawing in non-existent data, taking out data that would contradict the point etc.), the as-published correlations were superficially quite impressive. Why then are we not impressed?

To give you an idea, I’m going to go through the motions of constructing a new theory of political change using techniques that have been pioneered by a small subset of solar-climate researchers (references will of course be given). And to make it even more relevant, I’m going to take as my starting point research that Richard Lindzen has highlighted on his office door for many years:



That’s right. Forget the economy or the war(s), the fortunes of the Republican party in the US Senate are instead tied closely to the sunspot cycle.

“Oh yes”, the sceptics might say “but that’s just a couple of cycles and doesn’t use up-to-date numbers. What happens after 1986?”

Well, that is a little problematic, however, the good early correlation is obviously still important (r=0.52! 1960-1986) and so we should be able to refer to it over and over again without noting that it breaks down subsequently (cf. Svensmark, 2007 referring to Marsh and Svensmark (2000)). But more importantly, it just demonstrates that the theory needs a little adjustment.

Let’s look at the second half of the record. Well, there’s another strong correlation for that period as well (r=-0.63, 1988-2006). Only this time the correlation is inverted, but that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone – solar-senator effects are complicated!

If we now put it all together, we can see that there is a reasonable match over the whole period…. well, except that break in the period 1984 and 1988 and, unfortunately, last year’s elections didn’t fit the pattern either. But 1984-1988 was Ronald Reagan’s second term and clearly no theory of Republican senators can ignore that. We therefore propose that the ‘Ronald Reagan second term phase shift’ combined with the change of sign of the Hale solar magnetic cycle in 1986, obviously changed the dynamics. This kind of phase shift is frequently seen in solar studies (cf. Landscheidt and many others), where it is rarely taken as a sign that two time series with decadal spectral power are in fact completely independent. Finally, it is permissible to leave off the more recent data points (cf. TGGWS) for “graphical convenience”. So after just a little work, we have managed to rescue the original theory to match a much longer amount of data:



Some readers may scoff and suggest that in the absence of any mechanism, these powerful correlations are numerological artifacts arrived at using post hoc fallacious reasoning that have no predictive capability. That might appear to be a valid argument. However the ultimate test will of course be experimental. On the basis of these intriguing results, we propose exposing Republican senators to varying levels of cosmic rays in a basement and monitoring their electability. Any refusal by the funding agencies or ethical review panels to support this would simply be confirmation that the political science establishment are scared of what this research would imply for their so-called “consensus”.

Convincing, eh?

The data for sunspots and senators can, I’m sure, be manipulated even more effectively than I’ve done here. I’ve made no use of various lags or filters (which can be altered as you go along cf. Friis-Christensen and Lassen (1991)), or of partial detrending (cf. Marsh and Svensmark (2003)), or of splicing of unconnected data sets (cf. Svensmark and Friis-Christensen 1997, Nir Shaviv). More ideas could be taken from “New evidence for the Theory of the Stork” (Höfer et al, 2004)”. A special RealClimate commendation for anyone who can do better!

356 Responses to “Fun with correlations!”

  1. 301
    Jim Manzi says:

    Re: 293

    Ray, I think you’re being pretty dismissive of Matt’s view when you call it “specious”.

    Specifically, you say that:

    “Matt, Your argument is specious, because for the most part, given the same scenario, the models agree”

    But obviously there could be systematic error across models. To take an example (for illustrative purposes only) various predictions for astronomical phenomena made by different modelers using a Ptolemaic system could all show close agreement, but all be wrong because they shared the same faulty assumption that the Sun moves around the Earth.

    You go on “…and if anything, the models are conservative, since they do not reflect positive feedbacks that we now know are in the cycle…”

    Which obviously begs the question of why they are not in the models and what other effects are not in the models? This doesn’t inspire confidence in the models.

    You go on “…Whether a model says the globe will warm by 2.6 degrees or 2.8 degrees is for the most part in the noise.”

    But according to the 4AR the range of temperature sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric concentration of CO2 is not 2.7C +/- .1C (i.e., 4% CI), but actually 3C +/- 1.5C (i.e., 50% CI). Further, this is not really a confidence interval, but a subjective estimate of uncertainty based on the (informed) qualitative view of scientists.

    The best way to address the question of model accuracy is the actual record of prediction accuracy. There is a lack of prediction validation studies in this area. There is an interesting thread on this site that is currently actively reviewing the performance of Hansen’s 1988 forecast.

    Ray, obviously none of this addresses the later points in your post that are about rational decision-making in the face of uncertainty.

  2. 302
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Manzi (#301):

    But obviously there could be systematic error across models. To take an example (for illustrative purposes only) various predictions for astronomical phenomena made by different modelers using a Ptolemaic system could all show close agreement, but all be wrong because they shared the same faulty assumption that the Sun moves around the Earth.

    Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean that we know nothing. To speak of systematic error across all models reminds me of the view that all of our advanced science which leads us to the conclusion that the earth is more than ten thousand years old could itself be systematically biased. In fact, the difference between this and the Omphalos theory which argues that all evidence for the world being more than ten thousand years old is deceptive, that even this evidence was created more recently – either six thousand years ago, or perhaps five minutes ago – if one wishes to include memory among the systematically deceptive evidence. The difference between your arguments and the arguments of an Omphalos creationist would appear to be a matter of degree, not kind. Moreover, other so-called theories we much weaker, invalidated by the evidence, rescued again and again by various ad hoc hypotheses, or lacked credible mechanisms by which to explain the phenomena they were intended to explain.

    Do you have any evidence for this view, or is it some form of denial of an empirical approach towards acquiring scientific knowledge as such? Do you have a credible, well-defined, mathematically expressed testable theory grounded in physics and chemistry? Other so-called theories employing different mechanisms were much weaker, invalidated, the rescued again and again by various ad hoc hypotheses, or lacked credible mechanisms by which to explain the phenomena they were intended to explain. This is part of the reason why they were abandoned – that and the power of these anthropogenic theories to explain the phenomena which are capable of being tested and are being tested repeatedly.

    You go on “…and if anything, the models are conservative, since they do not reflect positive feedbacks that we now know are in the cycle…”

    Well, another reason why these models are conservative lies in the fact that they had to be something that 600 experts in the area had to agree on or at least achieve a consensus that was acceptable to all. Besides, as a matter of habit, scientists tend to be conservative in their estimates. Such was the case at Trinity where many of the instruments which had been set-up to measure the detonation of the first atomic bomb were destroyed in the blast.

    Which obviously begs the question of why they are not in the models and what other effects are not in the models? This doesn’t inspire confidence in the models.

    Because it is only now that we are beginning to observe the feedbacks – and as such we should soon be able to incorporate this effect into our models. Without this sort of expierence, it is much more difficult to mathematically model. Because while we were expecting at least some of the positive feedback at some point, we didn’t know when it would begin. Much of it has begun.

    In your article in the National Review:

    Prediction Time
    Global-warming “truths” are not as certain as some claim them to be.
    March 20, 2007, 0:00 a.m.
    By Jim Manzi
    http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=ZmViY2Y3YzY1YmVkYTg4NjczODhkYWU1Mjg1YzhjMTI=

    … you claim that the growth of plants as the result of intcreased levels of carbon dioxide is a form of negative feedback. And up to a point, it is. However, we have begun to experience a form of positive feedback in this area. Droughts reduces the ability of plants to make use of such carbon dioxide and this has only begun.

    Now we can start including it as before it was only an hypothesis, and now it is something that we are experiencing. Besides, as I have said, on had to reach a consensus – not simply between scientists – but tempered in its conclusions by all of the governments involved – who found the more alarming aspects of what was being projected politically inconvenient.

    You go on “…Whether a model says the globe will warm by 2.6 degrees or 2.8 degrees is for the most part in the noise.”

    Undoubtedly it is – within the context of a given model with additional simulations.

    But according to the 4AR the range of temperature sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric concentration of CO2 is not 2.7C +/- .1C (i.e., 4% CI), but actually 3C +/- 1.5C (i.e., 50% CI). Further, this is not really a confidence interval, but a subjective estimate of uncertainty based on the (informed) qualitative view of scientists.

    This seemed appropriate – given the fact that they were appropriately averaging the results from mulitiple theories – in which each theory may have projected a narrower range of uncertainty. The range of larger range of uncertainty reflected the fact that these multiple theory made different predictions.

    As Gavin points out, Hansen’s calculations were far more accurate than what would be achieved in any area over the same period. Yes of course there were errors, but these errors tended to cancel each other out.

    The best way to address the question of model accuracy is the actual record of prediction accuracy. There is a lack of prediction validation studies in this area. There is an interesting thread on this site that is currently actively reviewing the performance of Hansen’s 1988 forecast.

    Actually there are a great many validation studies being done, and where such validation studies perform poorly, the causes are investigated and expand our knowledge of the process as a whole. Such is the pattern of corrigible knowledge within any domain. This is how empirical science operates, not according to the armchair analysis of Karl Popper, which was in a sense logically flawed in a way that was understood over forty years before formulated it (see Duhem’s Thesis), but in the real world.

    Moroever, it is grounded in science which has been tested (e.g., chemistry and physics) and consists of the best that we have to offer (e.g., calculations by some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers at over a trillion calculations per second), then compared not against a single datum, or a single series of such data, but against a wide range of data. The kind of multidecadal – place the computer code and the results into a vault for decades – makes no sense given the increasing power of computers for perfoming such calculations and the rapid acquision of data from different regions of the globe.

    Moreover, the results of such calculations are far safer than what you would achieve by means of your vault approach – since they are a matter of public record and are made widely available through publication in peer reviewed journals. And like it or not, this is the best we have to offer at this time – to prevent a catastrophe the full magnitude we can only estimate, but which we know will extend over a millenia into the future. They are the best we have to offer.

  3. 303
    Timothy Chase says:

    PS

    This is in addition to the my response (#302) to Jim Manzi’s #301.

    I am not a climatologist. However, I have seen enough of their more technical papers to know how rigorous they are. I have seen enough of what they are studying to recognize the positive feedback and what it implies.

    I am also well-aware of the fact that we have pushed ourselves out of the metastable state which we have been in, and that the direction we are headed is one that is already affecting a great many people – and which has the potential of killing in the neighborhood of a billion people through water shortages, starvation as the result of droughts on land and the acidification of the oceans greatly reducing fish harvests. Moreover, I realize that oxygen uptake in the oceans take place primarily in the cold waters of the arctic, and that as the temperatures of the ocean increases in this region, it threatens hypoxia for for the rest.

    We may be able to reduce the consequences of these processes, but only if we begin to take seriously conclusions which have become a matter of consensus for the vast majority of scientists in the relevant fields and have been endorsed by every major scientific body which have taken a position on the matter (there is a long list) but one: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and even this organization has finally come to acknowledge that our carbon emissions are playing a significant role in the climate change which is sweeping our globe – and which is the single greatest threat facing our civilization, quite possibly the greatest threat in the whole of human history.

    I strongly suggest that you are out of step with modern science and the progress it has made in understanding our world. To follow the approach that you have suggested would be counterproductive as matter of science and disasterous for nearly every individual who would live to see the multidecadal results which you personally would regard as acceptable justication for taking seriously our scientific understanding of the looming crisis which has already begun to unfold.

  4. 304
    Dan Hughes says:

    re: # 291

    Typical global climate model codes have aroound 100,000 lines of code; not a million lines. Check any of the online code browsers that have been provided by the organizations wrting the codes.

    I would like the RC staff to verify, or not, that 100,000 lines is the correct order of magnitude.

    [Response: It’s correct for GISS ModelE, but as we move towards Earth System Models, HadGEM1 for instance is getting up to ~ million lines. If any one has direct knowledge of other models, please comment. – gavin]

  5. 305
    ray ladbury says:

    Matt and Jim,
    Let me get this straight. You’re saying we should dismiss the models because there just MIGHT be a systematic error? First, Matt’s assertion that models from the ’90s didn’t take into account aerosol cooling is a bit misleading. The importance of aerosols has been known since the ’60s. The challenge was HOW to put this into the models. And, the fact that Hansen’s models did as well as they did without this addition gives an indication that for long-term trends it is not a huge contributor.
    Second, systematic errors do not generally result in predictions that match reality. In fact, that is how you genereally are alerted to the presence of a systematic error–you make a prediction, do some verification and find a discrepancy outside of your predicted errors. So what you are asking me to believe is that there is some systematic error, or some unknown forcer that has been negligible up to now but that will magically kick in and save us. Forgive me, but I think even Lindzen would have trouble saying that with a straight face. Now there are still systematic errors in the codes. However, they almost all err on the side of conservative prediction! In other words, there is more reason to believe that things will be worse than the models predict.
    Third, we never know risk a priori (it’s tough to predict even a posteriori). We have to base our actions on estimations of risk, and if you cannot estimate the risk, then the only upper bound you can come up with is the total loss of the system (in this case, human civilization). The output of the models is not pertinent to the question of whether we are affecting climate. We KNOW we are affecting climate. The models place a limit on how much and what the possible consequences will be. They allow us to bound the risk, and hence let us get away with limiting our efforts rather than assuming that civilization depends on our reducing CO2 to 1750 levels.
    Again, if your goal is to avoid draconian measures that strangle the economy, trying to find comfort in inaccuracies in the models is a perverse and misguided attitude.

  6. 306
    Timothy Chase says:

    My apologies for the extremely poor editing of #302 and #303, including but certainly not limited to the run-ons. I should have gone to bed three hours earlier, but I was peeved. I believe that neither helped.

  7. 307
    Tim says:

    As always, very interesting reading for the layperson. I continue to read more and continue to learn. For nonscientists who read the IPCC reports, there are so many doubts expressed regarding the accuracy of the models by the authors themselves that it is hard to believe that the scientists can narrow the range of warming to a few degrees with such a high level of confidence. Several areas of uncertainty jump off the pages of the latest IPCC report: 1. Inability to model clouds 2. Climate sensitivity to CO2 appears to be guess work (highly theoretical) at best and 3. the carbon cycle is not well understood given lack of data and understanding in the area of ocean circulation and land based sinks and feedback mechanisms.

    On the one hand laypeople see tremendous limitations and expressions of doubt concerning a variety of physical processes and the models ability toaccurately reproduce them and on the other such certainty emanating from the scientfic commnity that they have a solid grasp of what’s happening and what will happen a hundred years from now…

  8. 308
    Matt says:

    Ray and Timothy, how do you believe global climate models would differ from world financial models? If indeed a world financial model existed with any accuracy, we’d not have any debate at all about the the impact, of, say, taxes?

    Am I fundamentally missing something when I see the task of modeling the world climate comparable to modeling the world economonies and stock markets? Both are very complex systems with an array of inter-related positive and negative feedback systems that are wildly debated of not always understood. One could argue that modeling the world economies to any accuracy is a certain ticket to making zillions. And modeling it “roughly” predicts nothing but momentum trends and perhaps allows you to break even, but most likely you’ll be wrong and lose.

    I’m anxious to hear your response in how they differ as it might help us understand each others perspective.

    [Response: Climate models are constrained by observations and based on physics, not assumptions about how perfectly rational humans should behave. – gavin]

  9. 309
    Matt says:

    #306 Timothy [My apologies for the extremely poor editing of #302 and #303, including but certainly not limited to the run-ons. I should have gone to bed three hours earlier, but I was peeved. I believe that neither helped.]

    Nonsense! It was extremely helpful. I’ve seldom come to a point in my life where two people with the exact same understanding of an issue make different decisions. Decisions usually differ because one person has different information and experiences than the other person. So the brain dump you delivered before bed was helpful in understanding your perspective.

  10. 310
    Matt says:

    #305 Ray I’ve stated time and time again I believe we are warming, man is doing much of it and we need drastic measures, and I’ve outlined what those measures are.

    Put that aside.

    I really wish someone would engage on the discussion point I raised earlier:

    If there is one issue you want to dig in with me on a response, I think this avenue would be the most fruitful:

    Assume all models do a reasonable job with historical data and 5 years into the future. Now, if model maker A believes it’s important to assign a feedback weighting of 0.5 to a certain mechanism, and model maker B believes it’s important to assign a feedback weighting of 0.51 to the same mechanism, and model maker A’s model spits out a 2 degree sensitivity, and model maker B spits out a 4.5 degree sensitivity, then you must admit that the difference was due to differences in intuition.

    But what if someone believed the feedback mechanism should be 0.49 and his model delivered a cooling sensitivity? Is his intuition flawed? Whose intuition is correct?

    Alternately, I’d be happy to flesh out my thoughts on a very pointed question you might have. But please, let’s try and start understanding some very pointed question each side has, and build upwards from there.

    [Response: But that isn’t even close to what really happens. No-one sits down and assigns feedback factors based on their intuition, instead people use their intuition to decide what physics is important and they code that. That affects the feedbacks, but not in ways you can a priori guess. Different people have different intuitions (within a fairly constrained range based on observations) and code things a little differently. Different sensitivities result, but the system is not so sensitive that a 1% change in a single parameter makes a factor two difference in sensitivity. In fact, the sensitivity (as far as we can tell) is a rather smooth function of the parameters in most cases. – gavin]

  11. 311
    Timothy Chase says:

    Several areas of uncertainty jump off the pages of the latest IPCC report: 1. Inability to model clouds 2. Climate sensitivity to CO2 appears to be guess work (highly theoretical) at best and 3. the carbon cycle is not well understood given lack of data and understanding in the area of ocean circulation and land based sinks and feedback mechanisms.

    HADGEM1 did a relatively poor job of modeling clouds. They tended to be too thick but too narrow. HADGEM3 is doing a far better job at modeling clouds realistically. Moreover, now that this is being done, it is my understanding that we are getting a far more accurate estimate of the effects of CO2 doubling. Ocean circulation and ice modeling have improved considerably, and the modeled behavior of the artic ice cap is now far more realistic, fitting observations quite closely.

    With regard to the carbon cycle, it has been modeled conservatively, not incorporating all of the positive feedback which has has come to light. I personally am not sure how much this has improved in HADGEM3. However, incorporating such feedback (which is already being observed on a variety of fronts) will show that the effects of climate change (with regard to temperatures, drought and the like) are not being overestimated, but underestimated.

    With regard to the uncertainties expressed in the most recent set of IPCC reports, it is also helps to keep in mind that their had to be broadly acceptable to the six hundred scientists who were directly involved. Likewise, it had to be acceptable to the governments which undersigned it, but would likely have held back if the more detailed and alarming aspects of the report had been left in – as they would have been politically inconvenient back home. Beyond this, the perception of any “tremendous limitations” should be realistically tempered by the fact that computer power has improved considerably within the past couple of decades, that the most advanced supercomputers in the world are having the task of modeling the climate divided among them, and that they are making use of far more data than has been available for any other set of calculations performed in all of human history.

    Moreover, these calculations are not concerned with predicting the behavior of the weather on a particular day several decades from now, but with mathematical description of the trend itself and its level of variability – which is a far simpler task. In addition, the robustness of the results can be tested by comparing the calculations between different models, different runs and even different generations of climate modeling software and hardware – and most importantly, the actual fit with the vast body of data which is being collected.

    In any case, thank you for underscoring the fact that we have so far underestimated the positive feedback due to the carbon cycle: doing so, you have helped to illuminate the gravity of the situation and the urgency that is required in dealing with anthropogenic climate change.

  12. 312
    Matt says:

    #304 Gavin answered [Response: It’s correct for GISS ModelE, but as we move towards Earth System Models, HadGEM1 for instance is getting up to ~ million lines. If any one has direct knowledge of other models, please comment. – gavin]

    Gavin, are you aware of any study or figures published that show key software metrics such as team sizes, test plans, defect density, bug find rates, regression testing metrics, test suites, etc on climate models? Additionally, in very long simulations with massively large and massively small numbers, there is typically a need to validate underflow/overflow so that you don’t end up with an Arian5 rocket bug. It’d be interesting to hear how the team that validates the numerical integrity of the model confirms this. I’d image even very small truncation and rounding errors, when compounded over a 100 year run, add up to quite a lot.

    [Response: The idea that errors accumulate in long runs seems to be prevalent but is simply incorrect. Climate statistics for a control run of a model are stable throughout the run. Weird numerical artifacts can be caught within a month of simulation in most cases (since everything happens at least once by then). There are some issues associated with massively parallel processing that sometimes take a while to track down, but this is generally the least of our worries. More important are the coded-for situations that lead to occasionally unphysical outcomes – those are tricky to track down, and are usually fixed by thinking about very out of the ordinary situations (which inevitably occur). -gavin]

  13. 313
    tamino says:

    Re: #307 (Tim)

    A few things should be borne in mind. One is that a scientist’s job is to highlight the doubts. So of course published research and IPCC reports will focus heavily on uncertainties, far more so than would be expected in a public discussion or even imagined in a political debate.

    Another is that there are many things that are uncertain, but also many that are certain. It’s true we don’t have a solid understanding of all the ins and outs of the carbon cycle, but it’s also true that we have a very certain and very precise understanding of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

  14. 314

    [[Re 292 (BPL) “Educated people” don’t take things for granted. They take the effort to understand the science themselves. ]]

    You can know the science and still take things for granted. I don’t worry about gravity turning off tomorrow and all of us suffocating, and I take it for granted that that won’t happen because I understand the science.

  15. 315

    [[2. Climate sensitivity to CO2 appears to be guess work (highly theoretical) at best]]

    I think they recently came up with a similar figure (about 3 K) from paleoclimate data, didn’t they? Gavin, Mike? Does anyone remember the reference? If the models and the paleoclimate data agree, that would seem to be strong evidence that the climate sensitivity figures are a lot more than “guess work [sic].”

  16. 316
  17. 317
    P. Lewis says:

    Re #315 (BPL)

    You probably mean Royer et al. at Nature

  18. 318
    Timothy Chase says:

    Barton Paul Levenson (#315):

    I think they recently came up with a similar figure (about 3 K) from paleoclimate data, didn’t they? Gavin, Mike? Does anyone remember the reference? If the models and the paleoclimate data agree, that would seem to be strong evidence that the climate sensitivity figures are a lot more than “guess work [sic].”

    Well, if you are refering to the March 2007 “Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years,” it looks more like 2.8 K to me. A bit into exaggerating things, aren’t you? Always gloom and doom with you, I say…

  19. 319
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Re #270:

    Heck, according to the Peak Oil folks, this will be a self-correcting problem anyway.

    Uh, it’s “self-correcting” if the objective is “bankrupcy”.

    Paradoxically, the solution to “peak oil” and “anthropogenic greenhouse warming” are the same — ditching our addiction to fossil fuels. You don’t get a free ride of “do nothing” just because in 10 or 20 or 30 or … years we run out of fossil fuels. If you keep on doing nothing, pretty soon (and I mean VERY PRETTY SOON), you’ll find the portion of your budget going to fuels is eating your shorts.

    I’ve always been fairly energy conscious, mostly because I worked for oil companies earlier in my life, and I live in a state that makes a lot of the stuff. I use a programmable thermostat, I have radiant barrier film in my roof, lots of insulation, etc. But I recently, for reasons unrelated to global warming, decided to be even more energy efficient. I’ve linked to this post before, but here it is again —

    Energy Wastage

    The fallout from making that one change — dumping incandescent bulbs — has been huge. Since that post was written I’ve found that not only do I not need to run the A/C so much (because the house doesn’t warm up like it does with hundreds of watts of incandescent bulbs burning at night), but because the air gets stale without the A/C running, I have to open the windows, and if I open the windows I can regulate the house temperature without running the A/C until much later in the day. Oh — and because I use outside air to regulate the temperature, the morning temperature has been 4 or 5 degrees Fahrenheit COOLER that I used to keep it in the morning.

    Net sacrifice to me? Well, I save over $45 a month in electric costs, my house smells fresher than with the A/C, it’s quieter because the A/C isn’t running so much, it’s cooler in the house in the morning (thus far — summer overnight lows can get pretty nasty here) etc. How’s that a sacrifice?

    It’s like someone mentioned upthread — Green Mountain is cheaper than TXU Energy. Remind me again why I want to pay more for electricity from the coal burning guys than from the wind power guys? WHY, exactly, would I do such a stupid thing?

  20. 320
    ray ladbury says:

    Matt, re 310 and following, science is not philosophy. You don’t figure out the values of parameters by looking into the depths of your soul. You use data to constrain the parameters, and for uncertainty that remains, you conduct simulations over the full range of uncertainties and see what difference it makes. And by the way, scientists do model the economy–a lot of hedge fund managers pay physicists a lot more money to model economics than they get paid to model climate.
    You seem to have some fundamental misunderstandings about the process of modeling a physical system. Yes, it is true that any model is a simplification. However, even if you leave out an effect, you have to estimate how large an effect it may have. At present, the greatest uncertainties have to do with how we will react. In that sense, the process is similar to econophysics.

  21. 321
    Tim says:

    Re 311, 313 & 315

    Timothy C. & Tamino,
    Thanks so much for your posts. As somewhat of a skeptic, I sometimes give the impression that I give no weight to the existing bdy of evidence. This is not the case. I’m simply commenting on the apparent disparity between the acknowledged uncertainties amongst climate scientists and the hysteria gripping the public at large.

    Mr. Levenson, your obnoxious use of [sic] aside, the fact that climate sensitiviy estimates (to a doubling of CO2) are largely derived from historical measurements of varying degrees of accuracy and of uncertain utility as the earth’s climate is continually changing.

    Is it your assertion that climate sensitivity figures are an accurate reflection of reality and therefore not theoretical in nature? Why then the range of estimates. Surely, if we have moved beyond the theoretical, scientists would be able to quantify how much mean global temperature will rise given x amount of CO2 emissions?

  22. 322

    Thanks to all who pointed me to the right sources.

    [[Well, if you are refering to the March 2007 “Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years,” it looks more like 2.8 K to me. A bit into exaggerating things, aren’t you? Always gloom and doom with you, I say… ]]

    I am filled with shame.

  23. 323
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tim, have you looked at the IPCC pages at all? The question you ask — whether what we know currently is

    > an accurate reflection of reality and
    > therefore not theoretical in nature?

    suggests you haven’t studied science and don’t understand how it works.
    If you’re making a debating point, look at the IPCC pages for the uncertainty statements.

    Have you, for example, ever looked at an avalanche? Lots of houses are built on avalanches — most of which, most of the time, move very slowly and it’s often not well understood how any particular one will move.

    The rate of change is so slow compared to the speed of real estate that only those with longterm interests, like soil scientists and building departments, pay attention.

    That’s one hillside. Now, scale the uncertainty up to the size of the world …. we can tell theoretically and from past climate what happens with increasing accuracy over time.

    Wait for perfect understanding? Not smart.

  24. 324
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 321: “the hysteria gripping the public.”
    Say what?
    Are people massively trying to cut their driving? Is there a rush to relocate within walking distance of the workplace? Is the US market for gas-guzzling trucks/SUVs collapsing due to lack of demand? Do we see large scale recurring demonstrations in the streets to put pressure on governments for meaningful action? Are consumers boycotting Wal-Mart until it puts pressure on China to go away from coal? Is the housing industry affected by high footprint houses becoming impossible to sell, even underprice? Is JP Morgan threatened by a massive switch from investors to socially conscious funds? Are we running the grotesquely lying coal/oil lobbyists on a rail with tar (now that would be ironic) and feathers? Where in the heck is the hysteria?

    I see it more prevalent among fanatical market advocates, predicting utter economic doom and gloom if anything is done, than in the public.

  25. 325
    Tim says:

    Re: 323

    Thanks for your comments, Hank. Yes, I’ve spent quite a few hours reading the most recent IPCC release. Obviously, I’m not a scientist, but I do have the capacity to analyze a report and develop an opinion. Thus far, I’m not convinced that we know what the impact of a doubling of CO2 will be on global mean temperature and the clmate as a whole. Clouds cannot yet be modeled well, the carbon cycle and other physical processes are not well understood and climate sensitivity is entirely theoretical and relies on historic data that is finite and not always accurate.

    That said, I think it is entirely possible that the scientists’ predictions will prove reasonably accurate and your point about waiting for perfect information is not an option. I just think we’re not even close to being able to formulate intelligent policy given the uncertainties in the science.

  26. 326
    Tim says:

    re: 324

    Philippe, you make a good point. Although a good percentage of the public is gripped with fear, these individals take no steps to alter their behavior in ways that could alleviate the perceived problem. I’ve witnessed this strange phenomenon on almost a daily basis. Often, those most convinced of the coming destruction and most vocal in their pronouncements do next to nothing in their personal lives to lessen their impact on the environment.

  27. 327
  28. 328

    Re #200/208/213/219/221 about heat/cold related deaths

    Sorry for the late drop by, but there were two investigations done, one in Europe and the other in the US about the extra mortality due to higher or lower than normal temperatures.

    The first, in Europe compared the death rate to temperature in North Finland, London and Athens. What they discovered is that there is a small temperature range of +/- 1.5 where there is least mortality. The band of least mortality shifts between North Finland from 14.3-17.3°C to 22.7-25.7°C in Athens [my comment: this may be due to genetic predisposition and/or adaptation of people to local climate on the long run, or both]. See Keatinge ea.

    Important in this case is that the number of cold related deaths is about 10 times higher than from heat related deaths. Thus only for this point, global warming is beneficial.

    Something similar was found by Curriero ea. for the US, but he also found that status was involved (better heating in colder cities and air conditioning in warmer cities).

  29. 329

    Re #69
    About the IR/light experiment, I suppose that one can make it simpler: Have two sets of isolated flasks (only a few liters will do the job), with thermistors at different heights + non-touching surface measurement, painted black at the inside, two lamps (500 or 1000 W), one in the IR-range, the other in the normal white range. Eventually, one can reduce the IR range with filters. In all cases the amount of heat at the water surface must be adjusted to be equal for both lamps. Dual experiments should be done with no/yes stirring and no/yes “wind” blowing over the surface. That is quick and easy and should give some answers to what the temperature of the water gets with IR/light in different circumstances.

  30. 330
    Timothy Chase says:

    Tim (#326) wrote:

    Philippe, you make a good point. Although a good percentage of the publicI’ve witnessed this strange phenomenon on almost a daily basis. is gripped with fear, these individals take no steps to alter their behavior in ways that could alleviate the perceived problem.

    Gripped with fear?

    I haven’t seen this. Nearly anyone I speak to tends to be interested to some extent, and they seem to realize we are facing an important problem – but its long-term. They don’t expect to be suddenly snuffed out within the next year or two. And I don’t haven’t noticed anyone bringing up the “runaway scenario” unless it is a contrarian. Me? With my family history, I will probably die of a heart attack. Had one already. Two stints.

    But if I live long enough, I don’t want things to be bad and know that it is going to get considerably worse. One of the things which has me genuinely worried is that at some point, things might get bad enough that people are faced with some impossible choices and make decisions which cost them some of their humanity. Mostly avoidable – if we acknowledge the direction things are headed do what we can to change it.

    Often, those most convinced of the coming destruction and most vocal in their pronouncements do next to nothing in their personal lives to lessen their impact on the environment.

    As for minimizing my carbon footprint, I take the bus, I don’t use incadescent, I shut off the lights when we aren’t using them, we keep the heat down in winter, although it isn’t thermostat, we recycle. We still generate a little too much trash with prepackaged, but we will be working on that.

    So I guess I haven’t noticed the panick or hypocrisy. But maybe we move in different circles.

  31. 331

    Re #144 (comment)

    Gavin, like DocMartyn I am intrigued by the difference in behaviour of IR vs. sunlight in water. At first sight, this shouldn’t make much difference as ultimately both should warm the (deeper) surface, where the upper mm or so at last will mix into the upper layer by wind and diurnal temperature changes.
    But if the increased IR results in increased evaporation, there wouldn’t be much (ocean surface) warming, as the extra heat is converted in latent heat of extra water vapor. This is also a greenhouse gas, but is transported upwards (and the poles), where radiation to space is quite different than at the surface.

    Further, ons should expect a rather evenly distributed warming of the oceans due to GHGs, or even more polewards, if IR increases evaporation. But the largest increase in heat content of the oceans is at the subtropics, which may be the result of reduced cloud cover (thus increased insolation) as seen over the recent period of more than a decade.

    Another point: in cloudy weather, night temperatures are (much) higher than without clouds (diurnal differences are much smaller), which points to reflection of IR by clouds back to the ground. I say reflection, but it may be absorption/re-emission. That may give a lot of difference as cloud drops may reflect near 100% of IR, while absorption/re-emission is at maximum 50% down to the surface, as emissions go randomly to all directions (including space). Thus my question is, if it is reflection, doesn’t the sea surface simply reflect IR (maybe only for certain wavelengths)? Any link to experiments/observations is appreciated.

    [Response: We discussed this previously: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/09/why-greenhouse-gases-heat-the-ocean/ – gavin]

  32. 332
    Dan says:

    re: 326. “Often, those most convinced of the coming destruction and most vocal in their pronouncements do next to nothing in their personal lives to lessen their impact on the environment.”

    There is really little if any evidence to support that mean-spirited statement. In fact, the relative few who use such extreme words such as “coming destruction” are indeed those who take the most personal responsibility to lessen their impact. Attend a environmental group meeting such as the Sierra Club and talk to individuals rather than perhaps just reading what others with vested interests may tell you about the topic. Those individuals were and are the first ones to make specific choices to reduce their carbon imprint via using public transportation, hybrids, telecommuting, bicycling, reducing their energy consumption, living close to their offices, or by choosing to be vegetarian. I see no valid reason to attack those that are actually doing their part by accusing them of being hypocritical when clearly they are not.

  33. 333
    Timothy Chase says:

    Re #326 (Tim)

    PS

    To be perfectly honest, I suspect that a great many will probably die. Starvation and watershortages. Probably wars over resources or bad ideologies when people actually do begin to get really desperate. Mostly avoidable. This can be greatly reduced if we don’t sacrifice the future for the sake of the present. The time horizon in which I view things is primarily this century. What happens after that? Don’t really know, but it will probably get better. Sooner if we act soon. Otherwise it may take considerably longer.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose something in the neighborhood of a billion or more in this century we don’t act soon. It may be more, but I don’t think our extinction is in the cards. Not over global warming. And it won’t be all at once. A miillion here, ten million there, that sort of thing. However, if we don’t act soon, things will be a whole lot worse than would otherwise be necessary. In the face of that, I think I would lose some of my humanity if I didn’t try to do something about it today.

  34. 334
    Matt says:

    #326 [Philippe, you make a good point. Although a good percentage of the public is gripped with fear, these individals take no steps to alter their behavior in ways that could alleviate the perceived problem. ]

    And what major global warming mouthpiece has done anything to alter their lifestyle in a dramatic way? You might think it doesn’t matter, but the public picks up on that.

    If Al Gore moved to a 1500 square foot home and only did teleconferences, folks would remember that.

    If members of congress quite driving everwhere in big black SUVs with darkened windows and instead you saw for fat middle aged men all squish out of a Prius, folks would remember that.

    If Laurie David gave up a one of her homes on one of the coasts and quite flying between them in a private jet, folks would remember that.

    If Leonardo DiCaprio quite flying to movie premiers in a private jet because his scheduled “necessitated it” folks would remember that.

    And if folks saw John Travolta step off a commercial flight instead of his 707 filled with 6 people, folks would rememember that too.

    I’m not sure people here really grasp how damaging all that is. It’s damaging because each of those images is an enabler, or something that makes is easy for the population to say “Well, if Leo DiCaprio can take a private jet to sell a movie, I can certainly use an SUV to take my kids to soccer.”

    Also, factor in how many dire messages per day the public gets, and how many wrong messages they have had in the past. A friend used to have a poster from the early 90’s in his office about some big cause, on there was a quote on there from Ted Danson that we only had 10 years to act before the oceans were dead. Have you read any announcement from the World Wide Fund for Nature that doesn’t proclaim the end of the world? And those come out monthly and have come out monthy forever. WLAN causes cancer. Species are disappearing. The rainforest is almost gone. Landfills are full. We have more pesticides in our food than ever. And on and on. Seldom do these dire predictions come true. Why is this any different? And if in fact it was different, would the producer of the biggest film on global warming really take a private jet for holiday?

  35. 335
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 333: Matt, if you look to the wealthy for leadership, you will wait a long time, regardless of their politics. They simply have too much to lose–or perceive they do. These days Henry David Thoreau never would have made it to Walden Pond, because Oprah would have caught him on the way there and he would have had to fake “Walden Pond”. (As George Burns said, “The key is sincerity. If you can fake that…”
    That does not decrease the exigency of the issue. And personally, if Al Gore can get the US to at least admit the problem exists and take some steps to remedy it (beyond mentioning switch grass in the state of the Union), I’m willing to let him have his damned swimming pool.

    The problem is that you cannot spin physical law. You can attack the figureheads and politicos and movie stars all you want for hypocrisy. You can consider environmentalists hypocritical for not embracing nuclear power. You can try to deny it or say it’s not that bad. Physics doesn’t care. If we keep putting CO2 into the atmosphere, we will add energy to the climate, and the climate will become less and less predictable. Sea levels will rise. This is deterministic.
    So Al Gore and George Bush are irrelevant. The only difference between the two is that Al Gore has the laws of physics behind his nominal position, so he’ll eventually be proven right regardless of what you think of him as a person.
    Now what we do about climate change, that is economics and psychology–and the laws of both fields say that we are likely to have a better outcome if we address the issue NOW rather than LATER.

  36. 336
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 334: “If members of congress quite driving everywhere in big black SUVs with darkened windows and instead you saw for fat middle aged men all squish out of a Prius, folks would remember that.”

    It is a pretty sad state of affairs when automobiles have to be obese because people are…

    However, I agree to an extent with what you say. Vocal advocates should preach by example. Don’t condemn them before you know everything they do. I agree that carbon credits are nothing better than a temporary fix, but they’re better than nothing for now.

    As for Travolta and his 707, that is the most nonsensical thing I have ever seen. The guy’s ego is out of control. As a pilot, I understand the thrill of being on the controls of a big ship, but this all conversation revolves on the idea that it’s not because you can afford something that you should necessarily do it. And it gets pretty boring to fly big planes too (a pilot’s life: innumerable hours of boredom punctuated by a few seconds of shear terror).

    Nevertheless, as was pointed earlier, don’t discount the much more numerous yet less visible who are not “gripped by fear” and do what they can. Best example in the news today: Ray Anderson (NYT online).

    And as I said, if you disagree with a skewed view of reality, you should be equally annoyed by the business community people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that immense improvements can be made with no costs or a net gain. They are just as irrational as the “greens” can be. Just the fact that an idea used to be dressed in hippy clothes does not make it a bad idea. The situation is such that everybody has to be rational.

  37. 337
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tim wrote: “… waiting for perfect information is not an option. I just think we’re not even close to being able to formulate intelligent policy given the uncertainties in the science.”

    We now have the time to formulate policy that’s not wrongheaded.

    This is difficult. Forrester and Meadows made that point over and over — we’re good at identifying leverage points and at pushing them in the wrong direction.

    http://www.sustainer.org/pubs/Leverage_Points.pdf

    Let’s see, should we conserve energy while investing in sustainable sources? Or occupy sources of petroleum worldwide? Think longer term or short-term? Pick the low-hanging fruit or buy from the pricey retail store? Do all the no-regrets, easy-payoff things sooner, or wait? Let the people who want delay while they shift their investments out of the old industries set the pace?

    “Your money, or your life!” — the robber.
    “Wait a minute, I’m thinking!”– Jack Benny.

    That’s my point about an avalanche — we may not know how each component is behaving or what it will do in the future. But we can approximate.

    Physics is hard. Chemistry is less difficult.

    Forgetting atmospheric physics and radiation balance, the chemistry of the oceans is changing, predictably.
    No researcher published on this til recently.

    Mixing of excess CO2 into the oceans decreases due to wind. Wind increases due to ozone loss. Less mixing of CO2 decreases the rate at which the ocean acidifies and warms the atmosphere faster. Warming increases the rate at which CO2 comes out of the ocean. That increases warming. That sells more air conditioners. Those still use refrigerants that deplete the ozone layer.

    Well? Yeah, we’re going to renegotiate the Montreal Protocol to speed phaseout of ozone-damaging refrigerants. Could’ve done _that_ decades ago.

    Here: http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2007/05/another-week-of-gw-news-may-20-2007.html#AWOGN20070520_Top
    Here:
    http://blogs.nature.com/news/blog/2007/05/polar_ocean_is_sucking_up_less.html

    Look at the history of the ozone hole and it’s the same political process, and many of the same PR firms and industry science writers, as are arguing for delay now.

  38. 338
    John Mashey says:

    #334 Matt:

    1) Some people disbelieve AGW for {economic, politcal, ideological} reasons, and would never change their minds under any circumstances.

    2)Other people may have been pushed into AGW-disbelief by poorly-informed extreme-environmentalist doom-saying, some of which made strong claims about problems that were at that point “not-proven”. Then if people don’t take a good look at the real science, this position hardens, via the usual psychological “anchoring” effect.

    3) But, if one studies this domain over the last decade or two, it is clear that we’ve gotten much better data and understanding, and one can see careful, top-notch researchers slowly adjust their views from “not-proven, but might be a problem” to “very likely real, and very likely to become a serious problem”. Of course, changing their minds when new data comes in is what scientists are supposed to do, and over the last 20 years, we’ve gotten a huge amount of new data, we understand a lot of puzzles, and the computers/simulations have improved dramatically.

    While AGW has benefits for some, for others, it has *nothing* but downsides, for instance, here in California, where we can already see the early effects, and where AGW is going to cost us a *lot* of money. That’s not “wild-eyed greenies” saying that, it’s state financial planners.

    4) No matter how irritated somebody is with any of {Gore, Schwarzenegger, DiCaprio, etc, etc, for whatever reasons} … does that invalidate the sober conclusions of serious senior scientists like James Hansen, Stephen Schneider, William Ruddiman, etc, etc? Do their results become invalid because somebody you don’t like agrees with them (and maybe exaggerates?) or because press reports over-simplify what they say?

    One may critique Gore’s movie for a few things, but it sure expressed mainline science pretty well, and he’s been ahead of the game in the past, i.e., in helping create the Internet, according to Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (the most famous Internet guys):

    http://www.politechbot.com/p-01394.html

    has an email I originally read ~7 years ago, trying to repair the confusion/fog generated by press and spinmeisters. Of course, being soberly factual, it got nowhere near the press play as the derision … there are some parallels with treatment of AGW in some press (such as WSJ Editorial).

    5) People in 1) love to conflate environmental doom-sayers (some of whom are certainly looking for funds for their NGOs) with real scientists, and tar the latter with the brush of the former, just because the latter’s positions, based on accumulating evidence, have moved closer to the former’s. Perhaps climate scientists are suddenly becoming wealthy … but I doubt it, and I’m a lot more likely to believe what they say about science than K-street lobby firms.

    “The laws of physics are laws, and politicians don’t get to change them.”

  39. 339
    Dan says:

    “You can attack the figureheads and politicos and movie stars all you want for hypocrisy.”

    Precisely. Denialists and skeptics can not legitimately “attack” the science with any credibility so they attempt to mis-direct the discussion and make personal attacks on people who are not the ones conducting the science and publishing their results.

  40. 340
    PHE says:

    Re: 336
    The constant attempts to claim there is no room for legitimate debate is tragic. You have every right to study the evidence and arguments and draw your own opinion. There are certainly credible challenges to the supposed concensus. If you cannot appreciate this, you fail to understand science. The criticisms you make against skeptics applies equally to many convinced AGW supporters – many of whom could be described as ‘denialists’ with regard to putting science before faith.

  41. 341
    ray ladbury says:

    So, PHE, what are those “credible challenges to the supposed consensus,” and in what reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journal are they published? I’ve been waiting…for a really long time. And yet every time I ask, all I get are the assertions that, “Oh, they’re out there.” Well, they’re not in the pages of Nature, or Science, or Journal of Geophysical Research or Geophysical Rearch Letters or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or any of the other journals I peruse from time to time. They aren’t to be found in the position statements adopted by any reputable scientific organization. I’ve looked high and low, and lo and behold, credible opposition to the science is nowhere to be found. So, PHE, where are they?

    {crickets chirping}

    Look, if you want to discuss what to do about climate change, that’s fine. That’s still a field for legitimate debate where conservative voices can play a constructive role in reigning in some of the more utopian elements. But the science is rock solid.

  42. 342
    Dan says:

    re: 340. Please cite the peer-reviewed “credible challenges” to which you are referring. Emphasis on the word “credible”, and those done by experts (climate scientists). Indeed, the scientific peer-review process is all about “credible challenges”. Peer-review is a cornerstone for good science. The scientific studies of global warming have been subject to extensive (arguably unprecedented) peer-review throughout many scientific journals.

  43. 343

    [[The band of least mortality shifts between North Finland from 14.3-17.3°C to 22.7-25.7°C in Athens [my comment: this may be due to genetic predisposition and/or adaptation of people to local climate on the long run, or both]. See Keatinge ea.]]

    Or it could be due to the effect of buildings having been built appropriately for the local climates and people having adopted appropriate habits for those climates. Don’t jump at genetic explanations, especially when the population of Europe changes addresses so often.

  44. 344
    Eli Rabett says:

    Forget where I saw this comment, but a major difference between man made climate change and a whole lot of other problems where folk are running around afraid, is that in the case of climate change it is the climate experts who are scared.

  45. 345
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 325,,Ray,

    Wow, for an admitted nonscientist, you certainly have come upon some profound understandings that challenge the views of those you claim no affiliation:

    You said:

    [Obviously, I’m not a scientist, but I do have the capacity to analyze a report and develop an opinion. Thus far, I’m not convinced that we know what the impact of a doubling of CO2 will be on global mean temperature and the clmate as a whole. Clouds cannot yet be modeled well, the carbon cycle and other physical processes are not well understood and climate sensitivity is entirely theoretical and relies on historic data that is finite and not always accurate.]

    Where, when, how did you acquire all that understanding of what you proclaim scientists do not understand? And, what constitutes understanding, in your use of the term? Pray tell.

  46. 346
    John L. McCormick says:

    R# 325 To the moderator:

    I posted a comment to Tim a few moments ago. I want to retract it.

    My comment was not appropriate since I have reflected on Tim’s post at #325.

    If, however, my post is not deleted. my apology to you, Tim.

  47. 347

    Though the complete negation of community to look at my research, I have the moral responsibility to insist on that discussion. So I give the answers without being asked (excuse me for that). My question is this: We often see a discussion of the strength of solar cycles effect on climate. Shouldn’t we focus more on geomagnetic field oscillations? Trying to answer that I will ask you to look at some graphs of my research on the tidal synod graph. The 265.4 year cycle has 42-something years subcycles that describe the geomagnetic field oscillation(together with the 11-year sunspot cycle, look at climax). Then couldn’t that cause Foucault currents to Earth in accordance with my research?
    Thanks for your patience.

    Dimitris

  48. 348
    ray ladbury says:

    #345 John L. McCormick, Actually it was Tim who said he was not a scientist back in #325. For the record, I am a card-carrying, unabashed science nerd–a physicist doing research in radiation effects on semiconductors to be exact. I am not a climate scientist, although I did follow the beat for a physics magazine over a decade ago.

  49. 349

    #11:
    “It seems to me that the physics of infrared absorption and redirection (i.e., the known causal link) + common sense are what make the compelling case that human activities are most likely driving some amount of warming.”

    SURELY this is the only basis; and so the one worth concentrating on? Then the well-worn phrase “there are statistics, and statistics and damn lies” can’t be applied.

    Surely even dumb though immensely self-interested selfish bastard politicans can be persuaded to follow the argument, one of chemical physics, rephrased if necessary into Jerry Springerese, that unidirectional energy from the Sun gets re-radiated multi-directionally by greehouse gases, so at least roughly speaking, 50% gets trapped and contributes to global warming.

    (Yes, I know, that a figure approaching that 50% figure strictly would only apply were there a (thermodynamically macroscopic) infinitesimal though unbroken layer of CO2/other greenhouse gases encapsulating the atmosphere, with a correction required for Î� from the 2Ï� of the solid angle subtended by the earth from a point in the layer – but I’m talking about expressing simple scientific ideas to politicos and “their” sheople.)

    I’m sure a wizard in calculus can work this out exactly – I know very little of the GISS models – I expect they contain such relatively mathematically trivial integrations.

    #13
    “Each and every nanosecond, a new universe comes into existence which is then replaced by a new one the next nanosecond”

    Every reasonably well-read extra-terrestrial knows, of course, that this occurs not every nanosecond, but in the unit of time you Earthlings know as the Planck Time.

    P.S: Are the “resident” gurus who contribute here, just naturally rude, or just really really busy? I asked what I thought were some reasonable questions ages ago in another RealClimate forum, and after just one other not very helpful and really not too sensible reply that seemed to completely ignore enthalpies of formation, etc. that forum was shut down for further posts – and thereby any answers to the questions posed there that I could easily find. Any chance anyone here can address the questions there?

    I’m busy too, so can’t be bothered re-formatting the post, so here’s the link to it.

  50. 350
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dimitris, the time scale at the bottom of your three part image
    http://f7.yahoofs.com/users/44575f70z7b6989a6/7156re2/__sr_/6de4scd.jpg?phAxGWGB4I5o69XO
    appears only to apply to the bottom third of it. Can you put a legible time scale on the other two panels?