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Curve manipulation: lesson 2

Filed under: — stefan @ 14 June 2007

Two weeks ago, we published the first lesson in curve manipulation taught by German school teacher and would-be scientist E.G. Beck: How to make it appear as if the Medieval times were warmer than today, even if all scientific studies come to the opposite conclusion. Today we publish curve manipulation, lesson 2: How to make it appear as if 20th Century warming fits into a 1500-year cycle. This gem is again brought to us by E.G. Beck. In a recent article (in German), he published the following graph:

Notice how temperature goes up and down in beautifully regular cycles since 800 B.C.? At the bottom, they are labelled “Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles” – this refers to the Dansgaard-Oeschger events found in Greenland ice cores during the last Ice Age (but not during the last 10,000 years), about which there is a serious scientific discussion whether they are paced by a 1500-year cycle (see my paper in GRL). Beck’s curve shows a warm phase 400 BC and the next one 1200 AD – that’s 1600 years difference, so it just about fits. (I’m not endorsing his curve, by the way, I have no idea where it comes from – I’m just playing along with it for the sake of the argument). So the next warm phase should be in the year – oooops… 2700 or 2800? Hang on, how come it looks like the current warmth fits so nicely into the cycle? Shouldn’t we be right in the coldest phase? Now I see it… two little lines across the x-axis indicate that the axis has been broken there – tick-marks after the break are in 200-year intervals and before the break in 400-year intervals, and there’s also a gap of 200 missing years there. So that’s how we make the current global warming fit past climate cycles – it’s so easy!

p.s. Beck appeared on German TV last Monday, after the “Swindle” film was shown, and he is announced to appear on the program “Report München” in the first channel of public German TV next Monday (18 June), to educate the viewers about another of his fantasy graphs, namely his CO2 curve. It promises to be a must-see for friends of the unintentionally farcical.


346 Responses to “Curve manipulation: lesson 2”

  1. 51
    SinkingFeeling says:

    Re #25 :

    Solem wrote [i]“As far as global warming denialist responses on this thread, you can be sure that the only responses will be efforts to take the discussion in some other direction. Take a look at the thread, ‘the weirdest millenium’ to see how this works. “[/i]

    Steve Reynolds in #24 does condemn the manipulation, then leaps straight to Al Gore, insinuating he’s equally guilty of manipulation (no reasons given, of course).

    Vivendi in #47 waffles a bit, then leaps to – [i]quelle suprise[/i] – Al Gore.

    Perhaps we need an equivalent to Godwin’s Law – first to mention Al Gore loses the climate debate.

  2. 52
    Timothy Chase says:

    SinkingFeeling (#51) wrote:

    [edit for html]

    Perhaps we need an equivalent to Godwin’s Law – first to mention Al Gore loses the climate debate.

    Hey!

    As someone who strongly believes in the free market, I voted for Gore. And I really warmed up to him since then. Maybe I would like to mention him.

  3. 53
    Jamie Cate says:

    It’s not directly related to “curve fitting” per se, but I’ve noticed that when one does a Google news search on a particular topic (i.e. Greenland ice), prominent contrarian articles come up very near the top of the list. Here’s an example from Patrick Michaels:
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8285

    Any thoughts on this particular article? Are his facts correct?

  4. 54
    SomeBeans says:

    #53 Jamie Cate

    He appears to be setting up a strawman and then knocking it down, AR4 says on p818:

    Abrupt climate changes, such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the rapid loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet or large-scale changes of ocean circulation systems, are not considered likely to occur in the 21st century, based on currently available model results. However, the occurrence of such changes becomes increasingly more likely as the perturbation of the climate system progresses.

    You can often find copies of original peer reviewed research papers using Google Scholar, so you can find the review he cites by Glen MacDonald here. You can also find a recent paper on the Greenland instrumental temperature record here

  5. 55
    Hank Roberts says:

    >Google searches.
    Look at how often website links appear on other websites; Google page rank uses that and rates them higher the more links there are. This works perhaps better for the anti-science websites; they get mentioned more often — online as on AM rant radio.

  6. 56
    Zeno says:

    Herewith my small contribution to the art of screwing up a graph: One picture is worth a thousand lies.

  7. 57
    Hank Roberts says:

    >53, 54
    Note Ray Bradley is thanked as one of the reviewers of the MacDonald article.
    Seems to me — Ray will I hope correct me if I”m wrong — that what MacDonald is describing may be well known; temperatures peaked at the end of the last glaciation and began a long slow decline, typical pattern. The last couple of centuries is the anomaly from fossil fuels. Sea level has changed quite a bit since 10k years ago. I don’t know enough about the microfossil studies to comment on how fast treeline would be moving north with contemporary very fast warming.

  8. 58
    Timothy Chase says:

    Hank Roberts (#55) wrote:

    Look at how often website links appear on other websites; Google page rank uses that and rates them higher the more links there are. This works perhaps better for the anti-science websites; they get mentioned more often — online as on AM rant radio.

    Well, it also helps that the people who link to those websites have fairly intense emotions – that are expressions of equations of the form:

    evolution = naturalism = materialism = atheism = evil

    liberalism = socialism = communism = atheism

    science = politics = war

    They link to one-another and form webs of connections between sites belonging to like-minded people. These sites contain the same superficial material, words that resonate with their core emotions. Linking is an expression of their commitment to their cause, of their solidarity, and proof of their own moral idealism that stands against all that is wrong with the world at large.

  9. 59
    Timothy Chase says:

    PS to #58

    I forgot the most fundamental equation of all, that which lies at the base of every other one:

    us = not them

    Come to think of it, this might explain another equation of some relevance in this “debate”:

    patriotism = not internationalism

    … the last of which would explain the disregard for international law and the hatred for the UN.

  10. 60
    catman306 says:

    patriotism = not internationalism

    … the last of which would explain the disregard for international law and the hatred for the UN.

    Comment by Timothy Chase

    Here’s a scenario:
    After the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets slide into the sea and sea level rises, worldwide shipping will become expensive if not impossible. The global economy that we enjoy is totally dependent on cheap transportation to maintain the affordability of so many products. Regional and local economies will develop out of need and thrive. Larger countries will split into smaller countries based on regional interests and geography. The global economy will dissolve. It can only be hoped that it will be in the interest of all of the small regional countries to work together to curb fossil fuel use and help provide some stability to the world wide climate.

  11. 61

    Re 43
    If Aaron Lewis’ “view is that most of Gore’s graphics are not perfect. I feel that they understate the extent and immediacy of global warming issues.”

    he really ought to take a look at tThe Earth In The Balance — all the 29th century editions feature a rate of species extinction graph ending in the Mother Of All Hockey Stick blades, ramping vertical to infinity in the year 2000.

    It has been wisely excised from the newer and more elegant campaign 2008 edition lest the tender minded think it an assault on reason.

  12. 62
    dhogaza says:

    he really ought to take a look at The Earth In The Balance — all the 29th century editions feature a rate of species extinction graph ending in the Mother Of All Hockey Stick blades, ramping vertical to infinity in the year 2000.

    1. Publishers hire graphic artists to make illustrations. Errors are not uncommon.

    2. We are in the midst of one of the largest species extinction events in the history of the planet.

    3. Just out: “nationwide, populations of 20 common birds fell at least by half during the past four decades, according to National Audubon Society figures released Thursday.” Not birds with narrow habitat needs like the northern spotted owl, but common, yard birds. Meadowlarsk have largely disappeared from the midwest. Pintails down over 50%. In Oregon, rufous humming bird down 79% in 40 years. 79% since I was a kid, in other words.

    Something tells me people like Mr. Seitz don’t get out much.

    4. How the heck did you get your hands on a pre-release of the 29th century edition of Gore’s book?

  13. 63
    Zeno says:

    #61: he really ought to take a look at tThe Earth In The Balance — all the 29th century editions feature a rate of species extinction graph ending in the Mother Of All Hockey Stick blades

    It’s doubtful I’ll be around to see any 29th century editions, but I’ll do my best to hang in there.

  14. 64
  15. 65
    Eli Rabett says:

    Russell, I know it was a mis-print, but I really would like one of those 29th century editions! It gives one hope for the future:)

  16. 66
    Alexi Tekhasski says:

    I’m sorry, I must miss where the Beck’s article mentions a “1500-year cycle”? It seems that he has matched the recent temperature pattern to a 1000-year cycle, and makes a guess that today we might be in another “Klimaoptimum”. How his speculation about 1000-year pattern is any worse than other equally groundless eyball pattern matching to a 1500-year “pacemaker” using artificially-selected events?

    [Response: He refers to "Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles" below the x-axis of his graph, which have a 1500-year periodicity. I assume he has this idea from the crackpot book "Unstoppable global warming every 1500 years", which also tries to somehow squeeze the ongoing warming into a 1500-year cycle. -stefan]

  17. 67

    [[patriotism = not internationalism
    ... the last of which would explain the disregard for international law and the hatred for the UN.
    ]]

    I hated the UN long before it was fashionable. I was depressed by its absolute failure to suppress genocide anywhere, with the slight exception of SFOR in Bosnia, and by its embrace of anti-semitism and tricks like M’Bau of Unicef posting over US aid packages with stickers saying the food had come from the Soviet Union.

  18. 68
    Timothy Chase says:

    dhogaza (#62) wrote:

    3. Just out: “nationwide, populations of 20 common birds fell at least by half during the past four decades, according to National Audubon Society figures released Thursday.” Not birds with narrow habitat needs like the northern spotted owl, but common, yard birds. Meadowlarsk have largely disappeared from the midwest. Pintails down over 50%. In Oregon, rufous humming bird down 79% in 40 years. 79% since I was a kid, in other words.

    Cherry picking.

    You are looking at what happens to birds (or agriculture as the result of drought and heat stress on other occasions), but you have neglected to point out that warmer temperatures are likely to be a net benefit for many species of insects – which will be doing quite well in the years to come. You will no doubt point dropping fish harvests, but then neglect to mention that jellyfish populations are exploding. We all too easily look upon climate change as a bad thing, but the higher sea temperatures and higher coastal salinity due to reduced river output is proving to be a near paradise for the Portuguese Man of War. It would do you well to take a more balanced view of things being out of balance.

  19. 69
    Timothy Chase says:

    Barton Paul Levenson #67 wrote:

    I hated the UN long before it was fashionable. I was depressed by its absolute failure to suppress genocide anywhere, with the slight exception of SFOR in Bosnia, and by its embrace of anti-semitism and tricks like M’Bau of Unicef posting over US aid packages with stickers saying the food had come from the Soviet Union.

    The UN has a great many problems with it and is certainly far from perfect.

    In fact, I really haven’t any idea what “perfect” would mean in such a context. It has a fair amount of corruption, any member of the Security Council can veto an action voted for by the others, some offices were in the grips of a strong anti-Western setiment, its peace-keeping activities are often total failures, its policies have often been infected by anti-semitism and a kind of reverse racism which viewed ethnic clensing of Africans by Africans as tolerable but interference by non-Africans as intolerable, and I could surely go on. At best, its successes are generally mixed. But personally I think that these are reasons for reform, not the disbandment that many on the far right might find preferable.

    In any case, setting that all aside for the moment, there are a fair number of people for whom the endorsement of a given position by the UN, its offices or any of its sponsored organizations is more than enough for them to whole-heartedly embrace the opposite position – and they will argue in just such a manner. I would hold that this sort of a position and manner of arguing is invalid as I am sure you would as well. Neither of us view the IPCC as especially tainted by its association with the UN.

    Beyond this, I personally believe the UN serves a purpose, that it should continue to exist, and that it can and should be carefully reformed where needed. However, I don’t see this as a point upon which we need to agree. What is essential in my view is the problem of addressing climate change and of achieving the level of international cooperation that is required to address it effectively. Beyond this, I personally wish that the next US Administration will take less glee in such things as the prospect of shredding sixty years of international law.

  20. 70
    Ike Solem says:

    One of the main themes that is promoted by “swindle” and people like Beck is that there was a Medieval Warm Period during which temperatures were warmer than they are today, and that therefore today’s global warming is due to “natural causes”. The main support for this is the paper that was printed by Climate Research, “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years, by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon”. Six of the journal’s editors resigned over the publication of this paper.

    The abstract of that paper claimed that “Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.”

    The argument is just nonsense, and doesn’t deserve much rebuttal – just notice that tropical glaciers didn’t disappear during any Holocene ‘warm period’, for example.

    The summary of the 4th IPCC report on this issue (Chapter Six) is that

    “The evidence currently available indicates that NH mean temperatures during medieval times (950-1100) were indeed warm in a 2-kyr context and even warmer in relation to the less sparse but still limited evidence of widespread average cool conditions in the 17th century (Osborn and Briffa, 2006). However, the evidence is not sufficient to support a conclusion that hemispheric mean temperatures were as warm, or the extent of warm regions as expansive, as those in the 20th century as a whole, during any period in medieval times (Jones et al., 2001; Bradley et al., 2003a,b; Osborn and Briffa, 2006).”

    Once again, climate contrarians ignore any scientific evidence that disagrees with their views.

    The press is really doing a poor job on this – for example, the latest AP report is titled: “Could Some Win With Global Warming? Michael Hill, AP writer” The article contains a wide variety of claims that are almost as ridiculous as the ones mentioned in this post – but this is the Associated Press, supposedly one of the top news organizations on the planet! Not a good sign.

    The lead-off is, “It’s not in Al Gore’s Powerpoint presentation, but there are some upsides to global warming.” This is followed up by highly speculative and unsubstantiated claims that ‘the sweet spots for agriculture will move northwards’. There is very little discussion of the effect of climatic instability and heat waves on agriculture, and no mention of the fact that global warming has already decreased agricultural production in many areas.

    As mountain glaciers melt, many areas that relied on glaciers for their water supplies will be faced with unprecedented droughts. It seems that the subtropical dry zones in continental interiors will expand towards the poles as well. The AP news article also boldy states that ‘change will be gradual’ which is also very questionable. It’s more likely that warming will lead to more and more climate instability – look at the rapid pace of change in the Arctic as an example.

    The fossil fuel industry seems to be moving on to their last public relations stand: “Yes, human beings are causing global warming by burning fossil fuels – but that will be a good thing!”.

  21. 71
    Aaron Lewis says:

    My point is that global warming is likely to damage our infrastructure. If you use electricity, or public water, or distilled petroleum products (including plastics and natural gas), or commercially produced foods, then global warming is likely to diminish the quality of your life.

    If you grow all of your own food without using chemicals (or smelted metals) and have a reliable source of water that does not depend on the weather, then global warming is not likely to affect your life style.

    Global warming may be great for cockroaches and Portuguese Man of War, but it is not going to be good for my lifestyle, and that is what counts to me.

    Anyone that talks about increased agricultural production in the north because of global warming has not seriously studied the capital requirements of the agricultural industry. A key element is that agriculture is very dependent on being able to predict next year�s weather. In a changing climate, that becomes much more difficult. Thus, agriculture is becomming a much higher risk activity and will demand much higher returns on investment. That will mean much higher prices on all agricultural products. Civilizations do not function well in times of high priced agricultural commodities.

  22. 72
    Jim Eager says:

    When I talk to those who assert that global warming will be a good thing I like to refer to this [url=http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=thanks_to_climate_change_by_2050_america&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1]map[/url] showing the potential northward shift of the climate zones suitable for growing wheat:

    First, notice that the blue hatched area is quite a bit less than half the size of the yellow hatched area.
    Then consider that most of the eastern third of the blue hatched area is Canadian Shield, some of the oldest exposed bedrock on Earth, while the western quarter or so is the Canadian Rockies. Now, try to feed North America from what can be produced on what’s left, let alone continue to export wheat.

  23. 73
    Timothy Chase says:

    Aaron Lewis (#71) wrote:

    Global warming may be great for cockroaches and Portuguese Man of War, but it is not going to be good for my lifestyle, and that is what counts to me.

    Well, lets see, climate change will be bad for crops due to increased heat stress and drought, particularly since domesticated crops tend to be rather pampered, adapted to our needs rather than the variabilities of nature. But weeds should do fairly well.

    Climate change won’t be that good for birds, mammals or amphibians – and will probably happen too quickly for most of these larger animals to adapt or migrate to keep up with the climate they find most hospitable. But the heat should actually work to the advantage of many insects. Locusts should do quite well, I imagine, and I am sure they will enjoy whatever crops might be left.

    The increased acidity of the oceans is already proving to be quite a problem through the food web for fish, reducing fish harvests. Likewise, as the more polar regions are the places which are warming up the quickest, this diminishes the ability of the oceans to absorb oxygen – which won’t help the fish all that much and may result in hypoxic or anoxic conditions, but the last of these may benefit anaerobic bacteria.

    Then again, the jellyfish are doing better with the heat and salinity where the rivers along coastlines are beginning to dry up, and they don’t have quite as much trouble as fish with hypoxia – depending upon how bad it gets. Their novelty comes from their being exotic and not terribly common, but as they become commonplace, that will no doubt wear off. Unlike fish, they aren’t much good to eat, so about the only thing left at that point is a rather nasty sting.

    No, I suppose there isn’t much of a plus side, is there?

  24. 74
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Eager (#72) wrote:

    When I talk to those who assert that global warming will be a good thing I like to refer to this map showing the potential northward shift of the climate zones suitable for growing wheat:

    First, notice that the blue hatched area is quite a bit less than half the size of the yellow hatched area.

    I had wondered about it given the maps that I had seen for 2100, and it would appear that we are talking about the very real possibility of having two permanent dust bowels: one in the south west and another in the south east. This did get underplayed a bit, though – after the representatives of various governments took the report from the scientists and edited it for general consumption. No real reason to upset those who might otherwise vote for you, I suppose.

  25. 75
    Jim Eager says:

    Sorry, the html for the url of the map did not take. Here it is as a stand-alone:
    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=thanks_to_climate_change_by_2050_america&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

  26. 76
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Re 42 ray ladbury> Steve, do you have a specific allegation against some of Gore’s figures, or is this just another excuse for an ad hominem attack?

    I did post a (reasonable IMO) reply with a specific allegation, but it seems to have been censored.

    [Response: Try again without the ad homs. -gavin]

  27. 77
    ray ladbury says:

    Steve, when the evidence is all on your side, you don’t have to manipulate the curves. You don’t have to like Gore, but by rejecting sound science, conservatives are giving him one helluva political platform.

  28. 78
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re 76 Steve’s attempt to reply. It might help to define terms. An ad hominem attack, as I understand it, goes like this: Someone states a proposition, another individual attacks the person who makes the initial proposition, ergo that proposition is false.
    As far as Becks curve is concerned it doesn’t look like any temperature curve I’ve ever seen. It’s too smooth even at this time scale.It looks like a sine wave or the propagation of an electromagnetic or sound wave,maybe damped down a little in amplitude as it moves toward the present. It’s reminiscent of what the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, a Nobel winner, said about a physics paper- “This isn’t even wrong.”

  29. 79
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Re 42 ray ladbury> …Gore is at least sincere. Beck is a fraud…

    76> I did post a (reasonable IMO) reply with a specific allegation, but it seems to have been censored.

    [Response: Try again without the ad homs. -gavin]

    Gavin, how can anyone respond to Ray’s ‘statement’ about Gore’s sincerity without providing (factual) evidence about said sincerity?

    Why did you not censor Ray’s ad hom against Beck?

    I do understand that moderating is not easy and appreciate your efforts.

    [Response: Just stick to the facts. Which graph and why? and don't get into motivations/ethics etc. There are plenty of places on the web for that sort of thing. -gavin]

  30. 80
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re 75
    That whole map showing a new area for growing wheat is silly. Wheat wants soils typical of the tall grass plains. Much of the area shown on the map as the new wheat growing zone has wet, acid soils. Nobody is ever going to grow wheat in such soil; maybe amaranth, possibly corn, but not wheat.

    What will happen is that as the plains warm, and wheat production becomes difficult, is that agriculture in will switch to crops such as sorghum that will tolerate more warmth and drought. If you want a first taste of global warming, go down to your health food store, buy some sorghum and cook it up for dinner.

    It is very nutritious. I ate a lot of it when I was a runner. It was what some of the guys from Kenya ate, and they were winning, so I ate it. Let me put it this way; we were always so hungry that we did not really notice what we were eating.

  31. 81
    George Roman says:

    Beck’s materials are used by Tim Ball (a well-known Canadian skeptic who frequently publishes myths in the media). Ball used one of Beck’s graphs for a published article in ‘Country Guide’-a magazine distrubuted mostly in rural Canada. The graph he used wasn’t as bad as the one here but was misleading nonetheless. Interestingly, Ball didn’t even reference Beck in the article to give him credit for the figure!!

  32. 82
    ray ladbury says:

    Re 78: Recent history is replete with attempts to sway public opinion by repeating a lie until it is believed generally by the public. Geobels is the most famous practitioner of this strategy, with his dictum, “If I tell a lie 100 times, it becomes the truth.” Perhaps we could call this the ad nauseum attack.

  33. 83
    Paul says:

    Re 74. So a dust bowl in the SE of the USA, presumably this is while there is also increased Atlantic hurricane activity, which is so often prophesised?

  34. 84
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 83. Paul, your ignorance is showing. There is a big difference between a steady rainfall and having all the rain come in impuslive events like hurricanes. The former is conducive to agriculture, the latter to erosion–both by water during the hurricane and wind in the dry periods when there is no precipitation.

  35. 85
    Timothy Chase says:

    Paul (#83) wrote:

    Re 74. So a dust bowl in the SE of the USA, presumably this is while there is also increased Atlantic hurricane activity, which is so often prophesised?

    Thats what the maps are showing. Remember: the temperatures in the northern hemisphere will be rising more quickly than the southern hemisphere and more quickly the farther you get away from the tropics. Likewise, the temperatures will be rising over land more quickly than over the ocean. This means that what rain falls over land will evaporate more quickly. The soil will tend to be dryer. Both heat and drought (when it happens, which will be more often in later decades) will be more severe. And hurricanes are an intermittent phenomena. Currently we aren’t really seeing more hurricanes, only more severe hurricanes – when they happen.

    Increased temperatures increase evaporation both over land and over sea.

    This will result in storms being more intense – but the rain will tend to fall prematurely – more quickly where the most water is evaporated – which is over sea. This is why we are expecting the Amazon river basin to dry out – and giving it a 10-40% chance of turning to desert. But over land? Well, even deserts have intense downfalls – on occasion. Flash floods. But don’t expect the water to just stay in the soil.

    In any case, this is just what I am picking up – from the projections. I want to know how things fit together. At a purely intellectual level it is fascinating, particularly with how all the feedbacks feed into each other. But the implications for the people who will have to live in that world aren’t pretty.

  36. 86
    Bob Schmitz says:

    From the Financial Times: a piece from the Czech president, who doubts Global warming, quoting Crighton, Lindzen et al.

    http://www.ft.com/klaus

    Nothing new, but it is sad that young democracies can be so blinded by the ‘American model’. Same thing for the missile defense program which only puts Europe at risk, which some of these leaders are so eager to embrace.

  37. 87
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 80 Aaron Lewis: “That whole map showing a new area for growing wheat is silly.”

    Of course it is, and for multiple reasons, including the ones you and I outlined. The map just shows the potential climate zone change and does not take into account soil type (or even if there is soil), topography, and moisture availability, yet many people simply take it, and other similar maps and assertions, at face value. One person once responded to my argument by pointing out how deep the soil is in permafrost and muskeg areas, and I replied by asking if they were thus proposing to grow wheat vertically. For some people it is shockingly easy to totally suspend rational thought.

  38. 88
    Rod B says:

    re 69, Timothy says, “Beyond this, I personally wish that the next US Administration will take less glee in such things as the prospect of shredding sixty years of international law.”

    Huh?? Is this based on some objective analysis or just blindly out of the anti-Bush playbook?

    btw, IMHO your UN analysis is great. Also, while the purists would say that groups like the UN-sanctioned IPCC is a poor way to assess science, among other things because it’s fraught with built-in political biases, I think under the circumstances it 1)did a credible job, not void of the biases and prejudices, but pretty much kept them in check, and 2) there was no other way to do it.

  39. 89
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Eager (#87) wrote:

    The map just shows the potential climate zone change and does not take into account soil type (or even if there is soil), topography, and moisture availability, yet many people simply take it, and other similar maps and assertions, at face value.

    I didn’t know the specifics regarding why the soil won’t work for wheat, but I had essentially raised this point on the “Cockburn’s form” among others regarding how crops are already adapted to specific soils which exist in specific climates – and you can’t just pick up the soil and move it as appropriate climate moves northward when one skeptic/optimist suggested climate change would be beneficial. What many don’t realize is that there is a negative feedback which has maintained the climate which has existed, something which life has adapted to, counted on and to some degree helped to maintain and flourished under as a result of its stability. The kind of rapid climate change which has begun will overwhelm that.

  40. 90
    Timothy Chase says:

    Rod B (#88) wrote:

    re 69, Timothy says, “Beyond this, I personally wish that the next US Administration will take less glee in such things as the prospect of shredding sixty years of international law.”

    Huh?? Is this based on some objective analysis or just blindly out of the anti-Bush playbook?

    I am a moderate conservate.

    I believe in individual rights and property rights. I am also an economic conservative, and as such I believe in free trade. As someone who believes in free trade, I recognize the importance of international trade and the importance of peace to such trade. Financial markets do not react well to uncertainty. Long-range planning requires stability. Likewise, international economic cooperation requires the existence of international law and the respect for such law. To the extent that respect for such law is undermined, this erodes the foundation of international trade.

    From what I understand, the unilateralist approach of the current administration with respect to Iraq and other issues has violated international law and otherwise undermined it as well as much of the international cooperation which promotes free trade. As such, it has encouraged more nationalistic or regional approaches in opposition to the globalism which raises the living standards of all in the long-run.

    In opportunistically entering an unnecessary war in Iraq, it has created a great deal of economic uncertainty. And with respect to the United States, this choice has been costly to the economy, demonstrating an extraordinary amount of fiscal irresponsibility. Additionally, by courting the religious right, it has encouraged trends that are counter to the separation of church and state which I regard as an essential element in the constitutional defense of individual rights.

    This administration has been an unprecedented disaster for the Republican party, the nation and the world.

  41. 91
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Timothy Chase wrote in 73:

    The increased acidity of the oceans is already proving to be quite a problem through the food web for fish, reducing fish harvests. Likewise, as the more polar regions are the places which are warming up the quickest, this diminishes the ability of the oceans to absorb oxygen – which won’t help the fish all that much and may result in hypoxic or anoxic conditions, but the last of these may benefit anaerobic bacteria.

    Indeed, isn’t it becoming an accepted view that the Permian-Triassic (“Great Dying”) extinction occurred when atmospheric CO2 approached 1000ppm, causing the ocean to become totally anoxic? In this theory, the anaerobes took over and produced enormous quantities of hydrogen sulfide, which poisoned life on land for several million years.

    Plausible? To my layman’s eye the case looks convincing.

  42. 92
    Rod B says:

    Timothy (90), I am very much in agreement with your philosophy. I simply disagree 180 degrees with your analysis of the Iraq war and the US’involvement It clearly did not violate international law and had full support by the United Nations right up to the time to act, when the UN blinked, as they always do. I would say Iraq was the international law violater — invading Kuwait, violating cease-fire agreements with the coalition and the UN, pursuing WMDs, overtly sanctioning and supporting explicit terrorist acts (e.g. paying $25K to Palestine suicide bomber’s families), targeting or shooting at our pilots on a weekly basis over a number of years, formulating an assaination attempt against another country’s former president, stealing $billions from (in association with some of our int’l partners, no less) and subverting the Oil for Food program, sanctioned by the UN and heavily financed by US, etc., etc., etc….

    But I do like your international philosophy.

    [Response: This is not the place for a discussion on Iraq or the UN. That is definitely off-topic for this forum. -gavin]

  43. 93
    Jim Galasyn says:

    In 90, Timothy wrote:

    I believe in individual rights and property rights. I am also an economic conservative, and as such I believe in free trade. As someone who believes in free trade, I recognize the importance of international trade and the importance of peace to such trade.

    As concerned as I am about climate change, I’m probably even more worried about the state of the oceans. The situation is that humans are strip-mining the oceans for biomass, half of which which is fed to cattle and pigs. Extinctions loom for many species (76 million sharks were taken last alone).

    The destruction of the oceans is almost entirely market-driven. I ask sincerely: how can market mechanisms be harnessed to avert this “tragedy of the commons”?

  44. 94
    Jim Galasyn says:

    In 92, RodB justifies the invasion of Iraq.

    Now that the catastrophe has unfolded more-or-less as anti-war activists predicted, do you still think the invasion was justified?

    Keeping in mind:

    Iraq is now a failed state (#2 after Sudan), with

  45. The largest refugee crisis in the world (2 million Iraqis have fled the country, 2 million are IDPs);
  46. Almost total destruction of its national infrastructure;
  47. A similarly brutal fundamentalist regime dependent on institutional torture and mass murder;
  48. Complete loss of women’s rights;
  49. Subsidy by the immense expenditure of US blood and treasure.
  50. To my mind, any reasonable person would conclude that the “cure” was very much worse than the “disease.”

  • 95
    John Mashey says:

    re: #87 Jim Eager
    “For some people it is shockingly easy to totally suspend rational thought.”

    Actually, in this particular case, it is not so much suspension of rational thought as inexperience with the realities of farming. Although economics also matters, the dependence of specific crops upon climate, & soil is especially clear in California, where we sometimes say: “every vegetable has its own town & vice-versa”. Of course, vineyards are notorious in their specificity.

    Google: crop yield optimization climate soil : the literature is vast, but is not something that most people in developed countries know very well any more.

    I repeat the story from the Cockburn thread:
    In urban environments, many people really don’t *really* understand how food gets there (and how energy-intensive it is). A grad school colleague was from New York City, and his only office decoration was a NYC subway map. He liked chocolate milk, so one day we took him the farm at the edge of the (Penn State) campus, and showed him the dark chocolate cows. He wasn’t really sure we were kidding. :-)

  • 96
    Timothy Chase says:

    In the inline to #92, gavin wrote:

    Response: This is not the place for a discussion on Iraq or the UN. That is definitely off-topic for this forum.

    My apologies.

    After I sent it in, I realized it was probably a bad idea. Normally I will try to keep my criticisms of the administration out of the discussion, whether it is in regard to evolution or climate change – so as to keep the peace. I probably should have stuck to that rule.

  • 97
    Don Thieme says:

    I just browsed the piece in the Financial Times on the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus. Interestingly enough, Mr. Klaus is going to take questions about climate change by email this coming Thursday. Few of us on the periphery of climatological research pretend to be experts on the magnitude of global warming, but somehow all of the pundits and politicians are taken seriously by news outlets. If they have to talk to a European politician, at least they could turn Angela Merkl who has a Ph.D in physics. Klaus’ degrees are in economics.

  • 98
    Jim Galasyn says:

    In #92, gavin wrote:

    Response: This is not the place for a discussion on Iraq or the UN. That is definitely off-topic for this forum.

    You’re correct, of course. As I’m something of a war-blogger, I couldn’t help charging the man with the red cape. :)

  • 99
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#94) wrote:

    As concerned as I am about climate change, I’m probably even more worried about the state of the oceans. The situation is that humans are strip-mining the oceans for biomass, half of which which is fed to cattle and pigs. Extinctions loom for many species (76 million sharks were taken last alone).

    The destruction of the oceans is almost entirely market-driven. I ask sincerely: how can market mechanisms be harnessed to avert this “tragedy of the commons”?

    Agreed, and I won’t even pretend to have a solution with regard to overfishing.

    However, I will say this much: the situation is likely to be made much worse by the tragedy of the commons regarding our carbon emissions. We are raising the acidity of the oceans and raising the temperature in the polar waters – which have to remain cold if they are to absorb oxygen and act essentially as the lungs of our ocean. If I remember correctly, temperatures are rising in the arctic faster than anywhere else on the planet – so this would seem to be a fairly urgent issue – inextricably tied to all the others regarding carbon emissions and climate change.

  • 100
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#91) wrote:

    Indeed, isn’t it becoming an accepted view that the Permian-Triassic (“Great Dying”) extinction occurred when atmospheric CO2 approached 1000ppm, causing the ocean to become totally anoxic? In this theory, the anaerobes took over and produced enormous quantities of hydrogen sulfide, which poisoned life on land for several million years.

    Plausible? To my layman’s eye the case looks convincing.

    From what I understand, four out of five of the major extinctions may have involved this mechanism, and at least once the process may have begun shortly after 1000 ppm. Presumably the evidence for the mechanism is mounting. Particularly with biomarkers from sulfate-loving bacteria and suggestions that the ozone layer was compromised – judging from radiation-damaged spores.


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