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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. 101
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Timothy wrote:

    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.

    I’ve seen reports that there are around 120 known dead zones in the oceans, and I saw a recent story which says the Gulf of Mexico dead zone is predicted to hit a near-record size this year.

    Here in Washington state, we have new, deadly algae and bacterial mats which have recently appeared in the Hood Canal. Recent monitoring of the dead zone off the Oregon coast showed it has increased greatly in size — marine biologists called it a “crab graveyard” for miles and miles.

  2. 102
    Rod B. says:

    re 91 (Jim): “…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?…”

    Per a recent article in “Science” the long-life (as opposed to catostrophic meteors, e.g.) extinctions seemed to occur with CO2 at 2000ppm, and, implied that life returned while CO2 dropped to 1500 – 1000ppm and beyond. It did blame CO2 for the genesis of the extinctions though didn’t explain the return. Maybe roughly 2000ppm is the trigger, not something less.

  3. 103
    Rod B. says:

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

    Sounds good and proper to me. Sorry.

  4. 104
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#101) wrote:

    I’ve seen reports that there are around 120 known dead zones in the oceans, and I saw a recent story which says the Gulf of Mexico dead zone is predicted to hit a near-record size this year.

    Here in Washington state, we have new, deadly algae and bacterial mats which have recently appeared in the Hood Canal. Recent monitoring of the dead zone off the Oregon coast showed it has increased greatly in size — marine biologists called it a “crab graveyard” for miles and miles.

    I live in Seattle myself.

    I didn’t know about Hood Canal, but I did know about the Oregon coast dead zone – which has expanded within the past year or so into Washington state waters. Models had predicted changes in the ocean currents which would bring the algae blooms into the coastlines. When they die off, the process of organic decay takes all of the oxygen out of the water.

    While investigating the Oregon dead zone, they were amazed at how far it extended. They expected that at least crabs would survive. But everything was dead – except for the bacterial mats. The big question, as I remember, is the extent to which normal sea life will be able to re-establish itself between what appear to have become annual dead zones.

    Most blooms result from sewage and fertilizer. The Oregon coast bloom is due to a low pressure forming over land which is substantially warmer than the ocean itself resulting in the upwelling of nutrients which feed the bloom. I suppose the fact that climate change will result in land temperatures rising more quickly than sea temperatures means that this sort of thing will become more common.

    Cherry subject. I will either have to forget it before tommorrow morning or be especially careful while shaving.

    Don’t know what is happening this year, though.

  5. 105
    Rod B. says:

    re 94 “To my mind, any reasonable person would conclude that the “cure” was very much worse than the “disease.”

    I would not so conclude, but Gavin rightly says I can’t talk anymore of it.

  6. 106
    Paul says:

    Re 84/85. Summer rainfall in the SE USA is characterised by intensive downpours anyway. If these become less common, but Atlantic hurricanes, which also occur through the summer and autumn, become more intense and/or more frequent you will not get a â??dust bowlâ?? in the SE USA.

  7. 107
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Paul, technically, you are correct, but that is because the dust will either blow or wash away. Moreover, getting all of your precipitation in hurricanes is not really conducive to agriculture, even if there were any topsoil left. Forgive me if I don’t find your reassurances too comforting.

  8. 108
    Paul says:

    Re 107. Make your mind up. Either the soils is going to blow away because of years of continual drought or wash away because of a large increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, you can’t have it both ways. Which was my original point.

  9. 109
    Timothy Chase says:

    Paul (#108) wrote:

    Re 107. Make your mind up. Either the soils is going to blow away because of years of continual drought or wash away because of a large increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, you can’t have it both ways. Which was my original point.

    Quite logical. It is either/or.

    Assuming we are talking about the same time and place.

  10. 110
    DOT says:

    I have one question for GW advocates. I keep hearing about CO2 triggers at 1000-2000 ppm and the devastation that it will cause… if this happened before, what caused it last time?

    Now if you can answer that, is it happening now?

    Just a couple simple questions.

  11. 111
  12. 112
    Paul says:

    Re 109 This is what irritates me about the AGW debate. The – its going to be a disaster what ever argument, its going to be hotter or colder or wetter or drier, we don’t know which, but which ever it is its going to be a disaster. Yes I am sure it will be for some people in some places, but not for all and not everywhere. Running around shouting we are all doomed just turns people like me off the debate. If we are all doomed anyway then I might as well keep on enjoying my lifestyle as it is.

  13. 113
    Nick Gotts says:

    RE #110 [I have one question for GW advocates.]
    I think you’ve come to the wrong place. A “GW advocate” is surely someone who thinks global warming will/would be a good thing – like Thomas Gale Moore of the Hoover Institute for example.

  14. 114
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 108. I’m not sure how to help you, as I am not sure whether your problem is ignorance or lack of imagination. First, hurricane season lasts from the end of May to the end of November–5 months in which topsoil can wash away. That leaves by my calculation 7 months during which the remaining topsoil can dry out and blow away. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive. During my time in Africa, we had the rainy season from June to August and Harmattan–a cold dusty wind–in December and January. Both caused serious erosion.

    Re 110. Most of these ultra-large increases in CO2 seem to have been caused by outgassing of supervolcanos–not operative at present. What is happening now is that we are dumping large and exponentially increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, leading, albeit more slowly, to comparable conditions.

  15. 115
    Jim Galasyn says:

    In 110, DOT wrote:

    I have one question for GW advocates. I keep hearing about CO2 triggers at 1000-2000 ppm and the devastation that it will cause… if this happened before, what caused it last time?

    A good question. I only know what I read in the papers, but the developing theory for the Permian-Triassic extinction is that a giant range of volcanoes erupted in what is now Siberia. For tens of thousands of years, they poured gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to widespread ocean anoxia (warmer water can’t hold dissolved gases as efficiently).

    The issue is that humans are dumping comparable quantities of carbon into the atmosphere on the time scale of centuries, instead of millenia. Hence the concerns about rapid climate change.

  16. 116
    Timothy Chase says:

    tessil (#111) wrote:

    folks : have you read this paper ?
    http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article2675747.ece

    Looking at it right now.

    Open access.

    I won’t be able to read the whole thing until lunchtime, though GMT – 8:00.

    HTML below, but PDF available:

    Climate change and trace gases
    James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, Gary Russell, David W. Lea & Mark Siddall
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A
    Volume 365, Number 1856 / 15 July 2007
    http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/content/l3h462k7p4068780/fulltext.html

  17. 117
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galazyn (#115) wrote:

    I only know what I read in the papers, but the developing theory for the Permian-Triassic extinction is that a giant range of volcanoes erupted in what is now Siberia. For tens of thousands of years, they poured gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to widespread ocean anoxia (warmer water can’t hold dissolved gases as efficiently).

    There is a theory that the anoxia resulted in sulfate reducing anaerobes becoming prevailent, producing large amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas which also damages the ozone. This may have been responsible for much of the mass extinction on land. Evidence has been accumulating, including biomarkers and radiation damage to spores.

    Interestingly, the dead zones created by algae blooms also encourages the growth of sulfate reducers. Algae blooms are becoming more common due to sewage and phosphates, but also with the temperatures over land rising more quickly than the ocean resulting in low pressures over land, there are winds resulting in the upwelling of organics which feed the algae blooms. There was at least one sudden release of hydrogen sulfide in the US when water layers become disturbed after the formation of a dead zone. Lake Erie had one of these. People called it in as gas and sewage leaks. I ran across this in an online newspaper after googling for instances of it yesterday.

    I strongly doubt that the blooms could result in levels that would be a real danger to people, but it suggests that anoxic oceans could produce just the sort of thing that has been hypothesized to have occured during the major extinctions – assuming the anoxia is widespread enough. But probably not the sort of thing we would have to worry about for quite some time (centuries, in fact) as the anoxia would have to work its way up.

  18. 118
    John Mashey says:

    re: #108 Paul

    Where are you located? This kind of problem already exists in other places, although sometimes for different reasons, but the general principle is the same. Any farmer will tell you that regular rainfall is far better than wildly-varying or unpredictable water supplies, even if the average is the same.

    Much of California has a 2-season climate, where almost all of the precipitation falls during 5 months, and 5 months where no rain falls.
    During a “normal” year, enough precipitation falls as snow in the Sierras, and then the snowpack slowly melts off during the rest of the year, feeding the rivers.
    If it is warm during the Winter & Spring, and more of the precipitation falls as rain, there can can be a big water pulse, which can cause immense floods and loss of topsoil, and then by late Summer, it’s drought.

    Recommended: Brian Fagan, “Floods, famines, and Emperors – El Nino and the Fate of Cilvilizations” (1999)

  19. 119
    Jim Galasyn says:

    in 177, Timothy wrote:

    I strongly doubt that the blooms could result in levels that would be a real danger to people, but it suggests that anoxic oceans could produce just the sort of thing that has been hypothesized to have occured during the major extinctions – assuming the anoxia is widespread enough. But probably not the sort of thing we would have to worry about for quite some time (centuries, in fact) as the anoxia would have to work its way up.

    I’m not so sanguine about the time horizon for this scenario. Considering all the other accelerating human depradations against the oceans, I think we’re looking at an event that’s unprecedented in Earth’s history.

    If it were just CO2 driving ocean anoxia, we might have centuries, but with the billions of tons of sewage and fertilizer entering the ocean ecosystem, plus 38,000 factory trawlers, and thousands of miles of longlines/drift nets/drag nets, the higher trophic levels of the ocean ecosystems are being systematically removed. The simplest, most ancient organisms have a lot of space to grow logistically. And some of these produce toxic metabolites.

    In 114, Ray wrote:

    Most of these ultra-large increases in CO2 seem to have been caused by outgassing of supervolcanos–not operative at present. What is happening now is that we are dumping large and exponentially increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, leading, albeit more slowly, to comparable conditions.

    My understanding is that we’re dumping much larger quantities of carbon per unit time than even a range of supervolcanoes can accomplish. Am I wrong?

    In 102, RodB wrote:

    Per a recent article in “Science” the long-life (as opposed to catostrophic meteors, e.g.) extinctions seemed to occur with CO2 at 2000ppm, and, implied that life returned while CO2 dropped to 1500 – 1000ppm and beyond. It did blame CO2 for the genesis of the extinctions though didn’t explain the return. Maybe roughly 2000ppm is the trigger, not something less.

    The numbers I’ve seen are usually estimated at around 1000ppm, but perhaps there are better recent results.

  20. 120
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Hey Timothy, we should get together for a beer sometime. I have a presentation I’ve put together for educating lay audiences on climate change and the state of the oceans, and I can always use a professional eye. I’ve delivered it to the Seattle Nature Conservancy branch and to People for Puget Sound, and the marine biologists didn’t tell me I was full of it, so that was encouraging. :)

  21. 121
    James says:

    Re #108: [Either the soils is going to blow away because of years of continual drought or wash away because of a large increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, you can't have it both ways.]

    No? Consider Baja California, which is generally quite dry despite being subject to a number of hurricanes.

  22. 122
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#119) wrote:

    I’m not so sanguine about the time horizon for this scenario. Considering all the other accelerating human depradations against the oceans, I think we’re looking at an event that’s unprecedented in Earth’s history.

    Perhaps — but right now if we could just get people to focus on the water shortages and famines which are essentially a given under business as usual – as well as the threat to the world economy within this century, I will feel much better. Worst case scenarios simply encourage the label of panic-mongering, which means that the far more credible threats get taken less seriously. At the same time, even if it were several centuries from now it would be my worst nightmare – if it threatened human civilization itself.

    If it were just CO2 driving ocean anoxia, we might have centuries, but with the billions of tons of sewage and fertilizer entering the ocean ecosystem, plus 38,000 factory trawlers, and thousands of miles of longlines/drift nets/drag nets, the higher trophic levels of the ocean ecosystems are being systematically removed. The simplest, most ancient organisms have a lot of space to grow logistically. And some of these produce toxic metabolites.

    Anything that results from the sewage and fertilizer will probably be limited to what we put out in the last year – I would assume.

    The numbers I’ve seen are usually estimated at around 1000ppm, but perhaps there are better recent results.

    This presumably is where it begins – but on a small scale, intermittent. With the strong positive feedbacks from the carbon cycle, they are currently projecting between 730 ppm and 1020 ppm by 2100, I believe. I figure that if we were to hit the latter, the impact to the world economy would be more than enough to keep it from climbing much higher.

  23. 123
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#120) wrote:

    Hey Timothy, we should get together for a beer sometime. I have a presentation I’ve put together for educating lay audiences on climate change and the state of the oceans, and I can always use a professional eye. I’ve delivered it to the Seattle Nature Conservancy branch and to People for Puget Sound, and the marine biologists didn’t tell me I was full of it, so that was encouraging.

    Sounds good – so long as I can make mine a six-shot espresso over ice. Have to avoid alcohol on account of my meds. I would be interested in the presentation, but I am just a coder who has nothing to do with this except as a recent obsession.

  24. 124

    [[Either the soils is going to blow away because of years of continual drought or wash away because of a large increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, you can't have it both ways. Which was my original point. ]]

    Actually, you can. Global warming is predicted to cause increased drought in continental interiors and more violent weather along coastlines. It would be correct to say that you can’t have both mechanisms in the same place at the same time, if that helps.

  25. 125

    [[I have one question for GW advocates. I keep hearing about CO2 triggers at 1000-2000 ppm and the devastation that it will cause... if this happened before, what caused it last time?
    Now if you can answer that, is it happening now?
    Just a couple simple questions.
    ]]

    Early episodes of high CO2 were usually due to volcanic CO2 buildup over long periods of time when the Earth was iced over (i.e., decreased weathering, so CO2 wasn’t being removed at the normal rate), or a release from the oceans when Earth’s orbital and axial tilt changes changed the distribution of sunlight over the Earth’s surface.

    The mechanism of CO2 overproduction now is primarily burning of fossil fuels, though deforestation and cement manufacture play lesser parts. We know the new CO2 is coming from fossil fuels because of its radioisotope signature.

  26. 126
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Hey Timothy, you’re a coder too, eh? If you want to get together for espresso shots, go ahead and shoot me an email to jim-misc at leftopia.com.

  27. 127
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#119) wrote:

    If it were just CO2 driving ocean anoxia, we might have centuries, but with the billions of tons of sewage and fertilizer entering the ocean ecosystem, plus 38,000 factory trawlers, and thousands of miles of longlines/drift nets/drag nets, the higher trophic levels of the ocean ecosystems are being systematically removed. The simplest, most ancient organisms have a lot of space to grow logistically. And some of these produce toxic metabolites.

    The simple presence of space isn’t enough.

    What would be required is a shift in the oxycline. Looks like people are already thinking about this to some extent. Sulfate reducers and methanogens overlap. Much of the methane found in methane hydrates is biogenic in origin. Interestingly, this implies that they get built-up over time, which would suggest that the more time there is between thermal maximums, the worse the potential effects. Increased nutrients may result in the further production of hydrogen sulfide and methane, but so may increased temperatures. In addition to the upwelling which results from temperatures rising more quickly on land than at sea, it would stand to reason that there is increased downwelling of warm water to the depths.

    This has in fact been reported in the case of Antarctica – one of the few negative feedbacks we have “working in our favor.” However, this also increases the likelihood that methane hydrates may become destabilized. Both the release of methane from methane hydrates and the generation of new methane by methanogens could raise the oxycline through oxidization. But there are other possibilities. A shutdown of the thermohaline could result in the salty water left over after a process of evaporation sinking with deep water rising to the surface. It would also reduce the circulation of nutrients away from the coastlines, resulting in larger algae blooms – which might have been involved in the past. And interestingly, life prefers the coasts – on land, and both the oxic and anoxic layers of the ocean. But currently the shutdown of the thermohaline seems fairly unlikely.

    Still something to watch.

  28. 128
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Timothy wrote:

    What would be required is a shift in the oxycline. Looks like people are already thinking about this to some extent. Sulfate reducers and methanogens overlap. Much of the methane found in methane hydrates is biogenic in origin.

    You clearly know more about all this than I do. :)

    Do you know anybody who’s doing modeling and/or simulations in this area? I think that would be fascinating. Picture http://www.climateprediction.net but with ecosystem equations.

    When I met with Nature Conservancy, their marine biologist showed me some simulations of rugosity, which they use to target regions for purchasing. That was some very cool stuff, and I’d really like to look at their code.

  29. 129
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Re 42 ray ladbury> …do you have a specific allegation against some of Gore’s figures…

    76 -gavin> Which graph and why?

    My specific allegation was the long term correlation between temperature and CO2 that ignored time lag and suggested a much larger climate sensitivity than is reasonable. (I’m aware of and not disputing the positive feedback time lag explaination, which was not in AIT.)

  30. 130
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Galasyn (#128) wrote:

    Do you know anybody who’s doing modeling and/or simulations in this area? I think that would be fascinating. Picture http://www.climateprediction.net but with ecosystem equations.

    When I met with Nature Conservancy, their marine biologist showed me some simulations of rugosity, which they use to target regions for purchasing. That was some very cool stuff, and I’d really like to look at their code.

    Honestly, I don’t know much in this area, but I knew about the oxycline. As for a continental shelf release, what twigged me on this was the upwelling of nutrients along Antarctica – then a later story on the downwelling of warm water in the same area. If warmer land results in low pressure and winds that result in upwelling, then the same pattern that we see with Antarctica should be possible with other continents. Of course, with Antarctica, what seems to be driving this is a higher temperature differential due to the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere by water vapor – but the same would apply.

    With the downwelling the methane hydrates become an issue, then I ran across the bit about how methane in high enough concentrations can result in anoxia at least within water. Then a number of other things fell into place – remembering that most of the ocean is actually a wasteland – and that life prefers coasts, or at least continental shelves. For example, approximately half of the world’s population lives within 50 miles of the coastline – which is significant when the ocean may be rising several meters in one century. (Imagine the impact on the economy simply as the result of the displacement.)

    But none of it seems to have been all that original. Things rarely are, I suppose.

    *

    Anyway, Lee R. Kump and Michael A. Arthur have done some basic modeling. There is a 2005 paper on this, but I am not sure whether I have it. I will check.

    A pop article on this topic in SciAm appeared back in 2006 written by Peter S. Ward, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Washington.

    It is open access at:

    Impact from the Deep
    October 2006 issue
    Peter S. Ward
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2

    It also turns out that in addition to methane, hydrogen sulfide has the ability to render oceans anoxic. (I thought I had remembered as much – but didn’t include it since I wasn’t sure.) Not something that we have worry about with methane in the atmosphere, but in the ocean methane will produce much of the same effect.

    *

    With a little digging, I have found that there is a fair amount of information on the web. This interests me from a number of different perspectives. For example, one of the simplest metabolic paths, something that may in fact have been the first metabolism, capable of being a geochemical process – still exists as one of the metabolic paths of methanosarcina acetivorans, a methanogen. Similarly, hemoglobin traces its roots back to myoglobin which was adapted for oxygen transport – by anaerobes in order to flush the oxygen from their system.

    Likewise, I strongly suspect that there exists a kind of a rachet involved in macroevolution where a reduction in population results increases the range of near neutral mutations which will be tolerated by a given species, making possible an increase in complexity at the expense of efficiency, but then as the population recovers, natural selection results in the optimization of the added complexity. So there are some connections with other interests.

    *

    As I suggested before, within the past hour I discovered that the “methane catastrophe” where the release of methane along the continental shelf results in localized anoxia and the release of hydrogen sulfide – isn’t original to me. Someone (a paleontologist) has done a lot of work.

    If you would like to exchange emails, mine is “timothy chase” (no space) at gmail.com.

  31. 131
    Timothy Chase says:

    Steve Reynolds (#129) wrote:

    My specific allegation was the long term correlation between temperature and CO2 that ignored time lag and suggested a much larger climate sensitivity than is reasonable. (I’m aware of and not disputing the positive feedback time lag explaination, which was not in AIT.)

    In the movie you see the chart – and you will notice that the two lines aren’t right on top of one another – you can’t help but notice, but they are close at least on geological time scales. However, I understand that in the book he deals with the time lag issue in some detail. Oddly enough, you can fit more in a book than in a one and a half hour documentary.

    The time lag of around eight hundred years is what you see with natural global warming where the temperature rises first, initiating the positive feedback. With the artificial global warming caused by anthropogenic carbon emissions, the carbon dioxide rises first, initiating the positive feedback. According to Jim Hansen’s calculations, if we quit putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere today, the temperature would continue to rise another half degree over the next fifty years, not eight hundred. Thus what we are dealing with would appear to have a somewhat less significant time lag involved – if that helps.

    Anyway, I at least hope you liked the color of his shirt.

  32. 132
  33. 133
    Paul says:

    Re 114, 118. Soil erosion by wind and water, its happening now, it will happen in a warmer world and it would happen in a colder world. I have never said otherwise. I object to the use of the term â??dust bowlâ?? because of its apocalyptic connotations. When the term â??dust bowlâ?? is used it sums up images of huge dust storms, abandoned farms half buried in wind blown soil and sorry farmers moving to the cities to look for work. It arose because of a combination of prolonged drought and inappropriate farming techniques. There would not be another â??dust bowlâ?? even if the same weather conditions occurred in the same place again, because farming techniques have changed. Likewise there would not be a dust bowl in the SE of the USA if rainfall declined because the farming conditions are not correct for it to occur, especially if hurricane frequency/intensity increases as is often prophesised. If you want to argue that farming in the SE of the USA will become more difficult if rainfall becomes dominated by unpredictable hurricane related rain thatâ??s another matter.

  34. 134
    ray ladbury says:

    Steve Reynolds #129. Do you really not differentiate between an omission of a detail that impedes the momentum of the narative, and if properly discussed actually strengthens Al Gore’s case, and a deliberate fraud? If that is indeed the most serious allegation you can come up with, then Mr. Gore has done an excelleng job for a layman. What we have here is a case of praising by faint damns.

    Paul, You object to the term dust bowl. How about agricultural wasteland, marginal lands, land suitable agriculture only with intense fertilization (and since there will be limited petroleum…)? You make a distinction without a difference.

  35. 135
    Paul says:

    Re 134 If you want to run around waving your arms shouting we are all doomed, dommed….then be my guest. Just watch the public switch off and walk away.

  36. 136
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Hmm, Paul, they don’t seem to be walking away. Maybe that’s because the science supports the proposition that we should be concerned. No on is panicking, Steve. If you will notice, the discussion has been pretty rational–and science based. Now if you have something to contribute to the science, we’d all love to hear it. But saying, “Oh, it’ll all be OK” would not seem to be a proposition supported by the science.

  37. 137
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Ray Ladbury > Do you really not differentiate between an omission of a detail …, and a deliberate fraud?

    How do you know that Beck is a deliberate fraud? He may consider the objections raised here ‘an omission of a detail’. Disclaimer: I am not defending Beck’s graph.

    Also, you did not address Gore’s implied unreasonably high climate sensitivity.

  38. 138
    Chuck Booth says:

    If one of my students submitted a graph like that, I would call it a deliberate misrepresentation of the data. It is not a simple omission of a detail, as that graph took some effort to construct and conscious decisions had to be made regarding what to show, how to show it, and how to explain it. My students might get away with it by pleading ignorance (and redoing the graph), but as a science teacher, Beck can’t use that excuse.

  39. 139
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 137 Steve Reynolds: “How do you know that Beck is a deliberate fraud?”

    True, it may just be an incompetent fraud, or even an ignorant and inadvertent fraud.

    “He may consider the objections raised here ‘an omission of a detail’.”

    You’re joking, right?

  40. 140
    ray ladbury says:

    Re 137. OK, Let’s look at what Beck did. His purpose was to show periodicity, but the data didn’t fit the hypothesis, so he broke the x axis and changed the scale TO MAKE IT LOOK as if it fit the hypothesis. Now, I am presuming that a high school teacher would have taken trigonometry at one point, and measured the distance on a graph to determine periodicity. It would seem to me that a person of even subnormal intelligence would see that his “graphsmanship” invalidated what he was trying to show. So I guess he could be honest and astoundingly stupid, requiring help to dress and feed himself. However, if this is the case, then WHY is he the darling of the denialist crowd–cited by everyone from Lindzen to Bob Carter?!?

    OK, now let’s look at what Al Gore did. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who can’t go from A to B without detouring to C, D and iE (where i is the square root of negative one)? Think people would be able to follow his lectures? So, what Gore does–and it is effective–he ignores minor details that do not in any way alter the main thrust of his argument. Now the only thing we learn from the 800 year lag in SOME past warming epochs is that there are natural feedbacks, and that would only strengthen Gore’s point–but only slightly. So why not leave it out? It certainly isn’t dishonest, since it understates his case–makes it more conservative. Believe me. I have done science journalism. You are faced with decisions like that all the time.
    Let us review:
    1)Beck changes a graph in a seriously invalid manner to make his point.
    2)Gore overlooks a detail that would strengthen his argument slightly in the interest of brevity and directness.

    Do you perhaps now see the difference, or shall I draw you a map?

  41. 141
    John Mashey says:

    For anyone who cares about good data presentation, including being able to recognize *bad* data presentation, Edward Tufte’s books are truly wonderful.

    Even better is to take his one-day class (whose price includes all 4 books). His next tours are coming up in July & August [San Francisco, Seattle, Portland; Chicago, Minneapolis.)
    http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/courses

    He’s also got an experimental new 2-day course in Palo Alto July 12-13, and even though we already have several copies of his books, I’m even tempted to try that.

  42. 142
    Agnes Witter says:

    I hope I have posted this in the right place. I am a great grandma who has been trying to educate myself on the subject of global warming and visit RealClimate regularly although I must admit that the technical terms sometime leave me scratching my head.

    A recent Letter to the Editor in a local paper by a gentleman who was a science teacher for several years screams for a rebuttal but I dont quite know how to go about it. Can someone help, please?

    His letter follows:

    ” Despite what many readers think about what causes global warming, automobile emissions and power plant smoke stacks cannot possibly cause global warming by emissions of carbon dioxide.
    Carbon dioxide is heavier than air. It is a compound of carbon bonded to oxygen atoms with a combined atomic weight of 14.5. (shouldnt this be 12 + 16×2 = 44?) Air is 78 percent nitrogen with a weight of 14, which means carbon dioxide always falls due to gravity. (he makes it sound so convincing)
    Carbon dioxide is carried aloft by natural means of strong updrafts over the oceans, volcanic eruptions and great forest fires due to extremely hot updrafts, putting carbon dioxide into the stratosphere where the jet stream winds can hold it for years. The only vehicles humans have to perform the same feat are jet aircraft. Jet planes burn kerosene fuels that leave great amounts of carbon dioxide above the clouds, where upper winds can catch them and add carbon dioxide to the greenhouse layer in the stratosphere.
    Autos, power plants, small forest fires and any emissions of carbon dioxide failing any vehicle to carry it above the troposphere, where all weather and winds are locked in, cannot by any science fact cause global warming. Gravity rules that only lighter gases, such as helium and hydrogen, can rise in the air around us. Oxygen and carbon dioxide must fall to the ground, and that is the reason life exists on land.
    Even strong weather on land cannot provide an updraft to carry carbon dioxide from cars above the clouds to reach the stratosphere and add to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide in the stratosphere that traps in heat to cause global warming.
    The carbon dioxide cycle is a one-way street from the oceans, carried by winds, which calm over land and allow all carbon dioxide to fall on the ground. It cannot happen in reverse.
    Land-based emissions of carbon dioxide can rise briefly due to heat expansion until the heat is gone. Carbon dioxide goes a short height, then goes sideways until it becomes invisible and falls on the ground.
    Nothing we emit of carbon dioxide from the near ground can reach the greenhouse belt in the stratosphere.
    Students can do a simple science experiment by filling up balloons with carbon dioxide and letting them go in a field. The carbon dioxide balloons do not rise, and occasional winds cannot take them far. Carbon dioxide is just too heavy to rise in normal air.
    This science fact means the ideas put forward by Al Gore about the causes of global warming are only true in the case of jet air traffic, but a total hoax in the case of autos and power plants.

  43. 143
    Steve Reynolds says:

    ray ladbury> Now, I am presuming that a high school teacher would have taken trigonometry at one point, and measured the distance on a graph to determine periodicity. It would seem to me that a person of even subnormal intelligence would see that his “graphsmanship” invalidated what he was trying to show. So I guess he could be honest and astoundingly stupid, requiring help to dress and feed himself.

    I think you overstate the case about people of normal intelligence not getting something completely wrong. See the letter in the Agnes Witter post.

    You have still not addressed the overstatement of climate sensitivity…

  44. 144
    ray ladbury says:

    Re 142. Hi Agnes, I applaud your fighting spirit.
    WRT your ex teacher: Oh my God. Well, I guess that answers the question why kids are so clueless about science. Let’s see if we can come up with a simple refutation. So his argument is that a heavy gas has to stay at the bottom of the atmosphere. Well, there are lots of gases heavier than air: carbon dioxide, which weighs 44 grams for every 22.4 liters, Argon, which weighs 40 grams per 22.4 liters, Xenon. Together these heavy, inert components account for about 1% of the atmosphere. Now that means by his logic that there should be no oxygen for the first 500 meters or so above Earth’s surface, and we should all have suffocated by now. Oops! Must be a flaw in his logic somewhere. The flaw is that all molecules have kinetic energy and the proportions that have what kinetic energies depends on temperature. This kinetic energy can get turned into gravitational energy, so there will be some of any gas at all altitudes (except helium, which mostly does rise to the top and escape). Also, many gases are more stable mixed than by themselves, so once mixed, they tend to stay that way. In fact, even if you started out with a perfectly stratified atmosphere it would soon be mixed and stay that way due to the increase of entropy. So that is why your teacher is full of beer and beans. Does this help?

  45. 145
    Rod B says:

    re 142 (Agnes): I’ll let others fill in the details and just comment. The science teacher is on my team; anybody want to trade??? I’m sure glad he’s not teaching science to my kids!

    Maybe just a quickie help: All gasses in the troposphere get mixed and pretty well stay mixed without regard to their molecular weights. There’s atmospheric reasons for that, but for now just know that what it does. It’s why the troposphere is also known as the homosphere (“fully mixed, no seperation”).

  46. 146
    Alexi Tekhasski says:

    In #140, Ray said “Let’s look at what Beck did. His purpose was to show periodicity, but the data didn’t fit the hypothesis, so he broke the x axis and changed the scale TO MAKE IT LOOK as if it fit the hypothesis.”

    Incorrect. You are being misled and confused by the above Stefan’s article. Beck does not assume D-O periodicity, Stefan does. Stefan bases his analysis on selective data, he omitted about 40% of events that do not fit into his periodicity. My German is not very strong, but even the Babelfish translator could not find any hint to periodicity or its importance in Beck’s arguments, correct me if I am wrong.

    In fact, if the historical time data series are considered as whole and non-selectively, and even when tuned by methane data or by Milankowitch cycles, there is no periodicity within available confidence interval, as it was shown by C. Wunsch, e.g. here:
    http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/wunschpaleo2000.pdf
    The “millennial peak” in Greenland’s and Deep Sea cores appears to be an artificial aliasing phenomenon due to inadequate sampling of seasonal variations, and if corrected for this obvious technical glitch, “climate variability appears, as expected, to be a continuum process in the millennial band”. See also:
    http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/JQSR1244-2003.pdf

    More generally, it was also shown for many proxy records, e.g.
    http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/milankovitchqsr2004.pdf
    that “all records are consistent with stochastic models of varying complexity”. Therefore, all the periodicify is a simple psychological issusion, which is very typical when looking at chaotic data series.

    However, even quasi-random oscillations in chaotic attractors have patterns, just look at the Lorenz attractor. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to identify most recent pattern in otherwise long-term chaotic waveform, and draw some speculative predictions. That precisely what Beck did: he identified a 1000-year most recent pattern, and convincingly speculated that the current temperature trend is not much unusual, and the alleged governing role of CO2 in “greenhouse effect” is not supported by historical data. The pathetic nitpicking of RC about broken axes is a weak substitute for strong Beck’s arguments.

    [edit] Sorry folks, you are losing the argument by this nitpicking.

    Cheers,
    – “Al Tekhasski”

    [Response: You sometimes appear to be an intelligent commenter here, but describing Beck's fakery as a 'strong' argument undermines that impression. Wunsch's papers on this subject are curious, but the idea that D/O periodicity is due to an aliasing of the tropical and sidereal year is simply not supportable. Any actual periodicity is of course a function of the age models used and a sharp 1500 year peak doesn't appear with the new NGRIP age model, but to go from that to asserting there is no millennial variability at all is mistaken. The recent lining up of the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores belies that (Wolff et al). - gavin]

  47. 147
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 142 “Carbon dioxide goes a short height, then goes sideways until it becomes invisible and falls on the ground.”

    I’ve often seen this CO2 on the ground, esp. in the winter – in cold temperatures, it is pure white… that is CO2 isn’t it? (LOL)

    I suppose the accounts of CO2 erupting from Lake Nyos, in Camaroon, and spilling down a mountain side as a cloud of pure CO2 that suffocated thousands of people and livestock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos) could lead one to believe that CO2 always behaves this way. But, if that were the case, the CO2 would never dissipate, as Barton has pointed out – it would just keep falling to the ground, like that white stuff I see in the winter. How could a science teacher not understand this?

  48. 148
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 145 “There’s atmospheric reasons for that, but for now just know that what it does.”

    That’s an easy trap to fall into, isn’t it Rod?

  49. 149
    ray ladbury says:

    Steve, I didn’t address any accusations of overstatement, because you didn’t make them yet. And if Gore is guilty of overstatement, he should be corrected. Overstatement could be a product of ignorance and over-enthusiasm, especially in a nonscientist. Changing the x-axis scale of a graph to give the illusion of periodicity is in another league entirely–or do you equate mendacity with incompetence? The other thing you don’t seem to acknowledge is that scientists in no way refer to Al Gore as an authority to make their case. The denialist community gleefully cites Beck when it suits their purpose. Shouldn’t that bother you?

    Alex, Excuse me. When I see data following a sinusoidal oscillation and hear the word “cycle”, I think in terms of periodicity. And Stefan reproduced Beck’s graph right off of the website. Maybe you should actually read what Stefan wrote.

  50. 150

    [[Gravity rules that only lighter gases, such as helium and hydrogen, can rise in the air around us. Oxygen and carbon dioxide must fall to the ground, and that is the reason life exists on land.]]

    Agnes — if that guy is a science teacher, he ought to think about changing his profession. His letter to the editor is wrong from beginning to end.

    The troposphere (the lowest 11 kilometers or so of air) is “well mixed” by a process called convection. The letter-writer doesn’t seem to know that convection exists, which, frankly, makes me wonder if he’s lying about being a science teacher. But oxygen is present at about the same level (21%) all through the troposphere, and carbon dioxide is present at about the same level (384 parts per million) all through the troposphere.


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