Curve manipulation: lesson 2

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 comments on this post.
  1. Rick:

    This guy brings new meaning to the phrase “curve fitting”.

  2. Scaramanga:

    Its also funny that Beck wrote “Alpen eisfrei” (alps ice free).
    Have a look at the data: http://www.nccr-climate.unibe.ch/people/grosjean/publications/Grosjean_et_el_2007_(JQS).pdf
    Abstract: During the hot summer of 2003, reduction of an ice field in the Swiss Alps
    (Schnidejoch) uncovered spectacular archaeological hunting gear, fur, leather and woollen clothing
    and tools from four distinct windows of time: Neolithic Age (4900 to 4450 cal. yr BP), early Bronze
    Age (4100-3650 cal. yr BP), Roman Age (1st-3rd century AD), and Medieval times (8-9th century AD
    and 14-15th century AD). Transalpine routes connecting northern Italy with the northern Alps during
    these slots is consistent with late Holocene maximum glacier retreat. The age cohorts of the artefacts
    are separated which is indicative of glacier advances when the route was difficult and not used for
    transit. The preservation of Neolithic leather indicates permanent ice cover at that site from ca.
    4900 cal. yr BP until AD 2003, implying that the ice cover was smaller in 2003 than at any time during
    the last 5000 years. Current glacier retreat is unprecedented since at least that time. This is highly
    significant regarding the interpretation of the recent warming and the rapid loss of ice in the Alps.

    Beck’s appearance on German TV showed that he didn’t have a clue.

  3. Juha Haataja:

    Nicely spotted. Any time there is a break on one of the axes of a graph the viewer should beware.

  4. DaveK:

    Real Climate could do another service to society by monitoring talk radio and responding quickly to the deliberate misinformation they spread. I was recently on the Dennis Prager show(KRLA, Los Angeles) admonishing Prager to apologize to his audience for being a scientific ignoramus. (Prager was ridiculing the idea that scientists could predict changes 60 years from now when they can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather!) I told him that he doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate and told him to apologize. After my call, he labeled me another ‘hysterical left winger’, brought in the subject of heterosexual aids and how he beat the ‘predictions’ of scientists on this subject, then proceeded to name all the ‘scientists’ that were skeptics( including Lindzen, Frederick Seitz, Tim Patterson, Svensmark, Willie Soon and others) along with their scientific ‘credentials’. I got to mention Gavin Schmidt and James Hansen at the beginning. He completely undermined my position of him. These types of broadcasts reach hundreds of thousands of listeners so I hurt the credibility of global warming idea in the public mind. Please pay attention to these broadcasts as they misinform millions. I will never go on talk radio again.

  5. cat black:

    I saw the tick-marks right away, even before I knew what the topic was, and was going “WTF is that supposed to mean?” I’ve taught some “visualization of information” classes in the past, and had much to say about such nonsense to my students then (including the “when the lower axis is implied to be, but is not actually, zero” gambit). That such things can slip past editors and become mainstream data for serious consumption points out either that media really are out to undermine this discussion, or that these editors should have taken my class while it was offered.

    What a bunch of clowns. Seems we’re in for a long and bumpy ride.

    cb

  6. Ray Ladbury:

    My God! That is at the very least scientific fraud, if not criminal fraud. If you are trying to demonstrate periodicity, any break in the graph invalidates the graph–unless you are excluding an interim period where the effect of interest is not extang, and then you would break the curve as well.
    One of the questions I always have when I confront a denialist argument is whether they know what they are doing is invalid. This leaves no room for doubt, just as Lindzen’s resorting to the canard about warming on other celestial bodies demonstrates his own insincerity.
    The other question I have is why this particular field of inquiry generates such vehemence that denailists feel it’s OK to resort to fraud to win the point. That seems to invalidate the thing I love most about science–the fact that even if we fail or are ultimately proven wrong, the very activity of sincerely trying to find out ennobles us. It is truly the best example of the means justifying the end, whatever that end may be.

    [Response: Indeed – I think one of the strongest indications that the science behind anthropogenic global warming is very solid by now, is the lack of quality and intellectual honesty of the counter-arguments and the lack of credibility of the skeptics personnel. The recent “Swindle” film illustrates that it is impossible to fundamentally question anthropogenic global warming without resorting to manipulated graphs, distortions and omissions of facts and debating tricks that exploit the lack of background knowledge of the lay audience. If there were still serious arguments and reputable scientists that challenge anthropogenic global warming, surely film-makers like Durkin would have found and presented them? stefan]

  7. Mike Donald:

    And if you want a straight line. Log-log scale and a thick marker pen!

  8. Philippe Chantreau:

    I’m not a scientist and do not deal with data on a regular basis. Before even reading the text, I looked at the x-axis, saw this thing and was like “what’s this”. How could something so egregious make it to any sort of publication, even not peer-reviewed?

  9. Philippe Chantreau:

    If there are any sincere skeptics out there, they should be up in arms against this and instructing anyone engaged in discussions to completely ban all “Beck products.”

    It will be interesting to see what actually happens. If there is no contrarian outcry, it will demonstrate that contrarians somewhat approve of data manipulation and fraud, and that their only concern is how their point of view fares in the public’s perception, not that it better reflects reality.

    I am waiting for opinions of our regular skeptic writers in this thread. What do you think of Beck?

  10. gerald spezio:

    Beck’s blatant doctoring of the data tragically illustrates the rampant escalation of “the age of rhetoric.” It will surely get much worse. Linguistic determinism and the social construction of reality writ small by a very small man.

  11. Arthur Smith:

    I recently looked through the arguments on the Medieval warm period business over at “co2science.org” – here’s the link, though I hesitate to give it any more publicity:

    http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/data/mwp/mwpp.jsp

    If you think scientific fraud is unusual in the “skeptic” community, the analysis there should put that thought to rest. Look at their “quantitative temperature differentials” graph, based on “level 1″ studies, and then compare with the references to the actual studies! What they’ve done is pick the highest temperature in any individual record from the entire 800-1200 period (and sometimes they extend it all the way to 600 AD or 1400 on the other end), and compare it to the most recent record of whatever proxy is involved. Sometimes that high point is in the year 800, sometimes around 1000, sometimes later. No matter, if at any point there was an indication of a higher temperature, it counts as proof of the “MWP” being warmer than today.

    If you actually averaged all of those different proxies in any give year, as the Hockey Stick analysis does, you’d see nothing. But no, they have *proof* that the MWP was warmer. Wow.

  12. Russell Seitz:

    Short of a Constitutional Amendment banning the use of rubber graph paper, only an improbable rise in statistical numeracy can save us from infinite replays of this sort of thing.

    I need not remind some RC syndics that _Nature_ started grumbling editorially about this bipartisan plague back in the days when the hockey stick was a pliable ash sapling, and rubbermeister Pat Michaels was still a State Climatologist.
    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/02/the_day_after_t.html

  13. Theo H:

    If this graph were to appear in a UK newspaper it would fall foul of our Advertising Standards Agency … and the ASA is a trade body, not a government outfit!

  14. Dan:

    And yet despite the obvious scientific fraud, the silence from the skeptic/denialist/anti-science crowd here is deafening. Perhaps they can only attack something if it is peer-reviewed and can’t understand it. ;-)

  15. Lawrence Brown:

    Beck’s graph is pathetic. The distance on the x-axis between 400 and 1200. representing 800 years, is about the same as the distance between 1200 and 1600, representing 400 years. Because, as Stefan perceptively pointed out, he conveniently dropped several centurys. There are such things as semi logarithmic curves, but not on the same axis!It’s ridiculous but dangerous because many in the general public won’t notice this chicanery.

  16. Eli Rabett:

    There should be no bewilderment at these tactics. Plus which for clowns second raters like Beck and Benny, there is the chance at a bunch of fame.

  17. John:

    OT – IMO “smoothing” of data sets can also create problems under the ruberic of “curve manipulation”. Looking at the global CO2 dataset, current smoothing obscures a rather dramatic connection to ENSO, which I find truely bizarre. The surge in atmospheric CO2 that accompanies an ENSO warming event is obviously measured in gigatons, and this from a temperature change in a relatively small portion of the total ocean. Does this make sense? The large 1997 ENSO event apparently pumped an additional 2 ppm CO2 into the atmosphere? Which if measured in gigatons is quite a bit.

    [Response: Our recent brief Science paper shows the unsmoothed monthly CO2 data. -stefan]

  18. Alan:

    HaHa – (Nelson laugh)

    The politcal shoe is now on the other foot, people like this guy are destined to be remebered as something akin to the original “April fools”.

    Regarding the talk back radio comment. The only way to deal with the far-right provocateurs is to change the station and advise others to do the same.

  19. Trev:

    I was confused looking at that for a while, it is not the just the break that causes the issue though is it.. its the fact that the scale is changed to the right of the break, to the left one interval is 400 years, to the right one interval is 200 years.. sneaky!

  20. pete best:

    Ha, brilliant. However it points to a far deeper concern about science and scientists to me. What can’t the media treat science better. Its all gotta be ge whizz and hype or nothing at all. The media it would seem cannot allow anything dull and boring to fill it pages or screens. Scientific journalists and media communicators need to get their act together an get the message out better in the tabloids etc.

    I would imagine that climate scientists with the help of some politicians (AL Gore most notably) have finally got the message out to a significant portion of Europes masses. What about the USA though as its more ultra right wing and they are well organised and well funded to provide misleading information.

    Science needs a bigger voice in the media.

  21. Roger:

    Interesting, my 8th grade students would have 2 points deducted for the inconsistent interval, and another 2 points deducted for not showing a corresponding break in the graph plot (assuming it was unintentional). However if I felt they were intentionally altering their graph to match their hypothesis they would fail. Science doesn’t do that.

    Seems like someone wasn’t paying attention in middle school.

  22. Andrew Dodds:

    You can get put in prison for impersonating a policeman. Why not for impersonating a Scientist?

  23. ghost:

    Rather than admit that his view of the data was wrong, Beck chose to take his charts, leave the tent, and walk off into the storm. His famous parting words were “I am going out; I may be some time.” From then forward, those who fabricated data or turned in the work of others as their own were said to have “taken a Beckie.” Athletes who broke game rules or resorted to pathetic short cuts were said to “bend it like Beck.” Young girls returning from dates without their underwear and aging rock stars who lost their voices claimed that Beck took them. Beck’s writings inspired the obscure but important political philosophy that “you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!” Beckludean Geometry was abandoned, reluctantly and with great handwringing, after a Mars mission based on it landed in Saskatoon instead. Eventually, the claim that the “question mark” should have been called the “Beckstion mark” was refuted after its inventorship was called into doubt. He was last seen on the premises of Not At All Naughty Chemists, Ltd., drinking Woolite and loudly disputing the existence of water.

  24. Lawrence Brown:

    RE 20, Pete Best says:”I would imagine that climate scientists with the help of some politicians (AL Gore most notably) have finally got the message out to a significant portion of Europes masses. What about the USA though as its more ultra right wing and they are well organised and well funded to provide misleading information.”

    It’s worse than we think. During a recent debate of candidates for the 2008 Presidential nomination, three of the debaters raised their hand when asked if they did not believe in Darwinian evolution. In an op-ed article days later, one of the prospective candidates modified his stance and said he accepted those parts of Darwin that didn’t interfere with his beliefs.(Hello?)Smorgasbord science? Take the parts you like and leave the rest? Is it possible that we could have somebody in the White House who thinks the world is 6000 years old? Will we have to recalibrate the ages of the ice core samples? Faith based science continues to rear it’s non-scientific head.

  25. Ike Solem:

    This is very surprising – I thought that Germany had a good reputation in the area of science education. It’s not surprising that some crackpot could come up with this curve – for example, there are ‘museums’ in the United States that portray dinosaurs living side-by-side with early humans. We all know it was much, much warmer when dinosaurs were around – so obviously, global warming is no big deal – when do we get to hear that one?

    What’s surprising is that media outlets would put such crackpots on – even in the US, where the media gives grossly undue coverage to a few contrarian scientists who are in denial about the problems involved with burning fossil fuels, it’d be hard to imagine this getting much airplay.

    On the other hand, maybe they German press is just putting this guy on just to show how ridiculous the diehard climate skeptics have become.

    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.

  26. Koen:

    When I was at university, two students passed their thesis. They had a drawing showing a lot of dots, moreorless on a horizontal line, implying there was no relation between the two parameters under study.

    But the curve they fitted to the dots was a straight line at 45°, indicating a linear relationship.

    Questioned about this curve not really fitting the measurements, they told that their curve was a better fit to the expected results, and that their supervisor had instructed them to do this creative data fitting.

    Since that day, I’ve been a consistent sceptic of ‘new’ or ‘breakthrough’ discoveries, and wait until some confirmation comes in.

  27. Nick Odoni:

    As a further point re. Beck’s latest, even if his cycle were correct and he hadn’t fudged the x-axis scaling, it wouldn’t disprove the forecasts derived from the physically based climate models. All it would mean is that there appeared to have been been a cycle (cause unexplained, note!) during the Holocene, most of it experienced in the absence of anthropogenic forcing; it certainly wouldn’t mean that we should rely on that cycle continuing in the future, and thus saving us from Man-assisted climate change. One is reminded of Russell’s tale of the inductive Christmas turkey: relying on ‘Beck’s curve’ turns us all into inductive turkeys.

    Re. the talk radio problem, we get similar instances over here in the UK, and it’s very worrying. In particular, it seems to me that the quick-witted, clever response (well, superficially clever) is often given far more credence than a careful, deliberated argument; the former can be reduced to a soundbite, the latter can’t. The problem is multiplied by having to explain the behaviour of complex, multi-factorial systems, and their inherent uncertainties, all of which are well exemplified by our climate. I can’t suggest a solution, I’m afraid, only that we have to keep putting up the best science we can, without exaggeration or dumbing it down. It’s going to be a long, hard slog, I suspect.

  28. catman306:

    For all you denialists, skeptics and dubious curve fitters, here’s the real reasons why climate change is NOT a good thing.

    Gone: Mass Extinction and the Hazards of Earth’s Vanishing Biodiversity
    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/05/gone.html

    Incidently, National Geographic Magazine was warning of exactly this in 1991.
    Why do you supposed it has taken 15 years for this to reach Americans through the main stream media?

  29. Timothy Chase:

    Nick Odoni (#27) wrote:

    One is reminded of Russell’s tale of the inductive Christmas turkey: relying on ‘Beck’s curve’ turns us all into inductive turkeys.

    Never heard of the inductive turkey before. I came up with an inductive chicken – might have been in the context of the problem of universals. Good paper, borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists – and humor that put my father-in-law in stitches!

  30. Timothy Chase:

    Koen () wrote:

    as at university, two students passed their thesis. They had a drawing showing a lot of dots, moreorless on a horizontal line, implying there was no relation between the two parameters under study.

    But the curve they fitted to the dots was a straight line at 45�°, indicating a linear relationship.

    Questioned about this curve not really fitting the measurements, they told that their curve was a better fit to the expected results, and that their supervisor had instructed them to do this creative data fitting.

    Since that day, I’ve been a consistent sceptic of ‘new’ or ‘breakthrough’ discoveries, and wait until some confirmation comes in.

    Good for you!

    There should always be a fair amount of confirmation before something in science is regarded as established.

    The good news is (at least from the perspective of science) that the role of carbon dioxide in climate change is very well established – at the theoretical level in terms of quantum physics, at the experimental level in terms of the study of the absorbtion and re-emission of radiation by carbon dioxide, at the numerical level (when equations get a little too complicated – but a good approximation can result from intensive computation by means of our fairly advanced computers), in terms of historical trends going back more than 500,000 years – and countless studies.

    I assume that you now fully accept the fact that carbon dioxide is currently driving climate change.

    Me too!

  31. Stephen Missal:

    Just a general comment…Beck’s junk is typical of what I’m debating here in the southwest (Arizona) for past couple of years. I’ve been trying to engage my local newspaper in Phoenix to write some articles related to the whole global warming issue. Their new policy is to allow only 500 words; my article was 1300. Oops. I got directed to their online guy (newest trend in papers) and have received no reply. My insistence that they actually look at data and sites like yours has fallen on basically deaf ears. The clear case for anthropogenic forcing is too complex and un-sexy for mass media. Their funding is from conservative camps anyway. They continue to quote people from contrarian camps and junk from folks at such places as the Cato Institute, funded from the right and, as an example, a denier of second-hand smoke health issues. Great source for scientific debate. Sigh. With the general public utterly scientifically ignorant, and fed daily the nonsense of these folks, I’m not optimistic that the US can move quickly enough once the effects of warming and other environmental catastrophes begin to shrink their wallets. I hope I’m wrong.

  32. Ike Solem:

    I think the real problem here isn’t the crackpot nonsense, but rather the press coverage of climate issues.

    As another example, the AP ran this headline today: Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts

    Just looking at the headline, it gives the impression that the is scientific doubt over whether ‘climate change’ (notice: not ‘global warming’) is happening. However, the entire article is about the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic. It has been fairly well understood for quite some time that reduced deep water formation in the North Atlantic (due to freshening surface waters) will not plunge Europe into a new Ice Age. The Gulf Stream is a western boundary current that arises due to basic physical processes involving the coriolis force and the North Atlantic Gyre; a similar current exist in the Pacific Basin.

    Furthermore, even if the net meridional overturning circulation, which is broader than just the Gulf Stream, slows, that doesn’t mean that the poleward heat transport will be reduced, as a warmer wetter atmosphere can also transport a great deal of heat (latent heat) to poleward regions, which seems to be what has been happening.

    So why did the AP run the headline, “Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts”? Why not run the headline, “Scientists Say a Warming Arctic is Unlikely to Lead to a Cooler Europe?” Wouldn’t that be a more accurate description of the article in question?

  33. Timothy Chase:

    I (#29) wrote:

    Good paper, borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists…

    Strike that!

    borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists…

    Reverse it.

    anti-borderline problems for the nominalists, borderline problems for the realists…

  34. Richard Ordway:

    By sheer *definition* (Read Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia’s definition for “scientist”) skeptics such as Lindzen, Pilke, Singer et. al are *not* GW scientists but are simple frauds…Don’t believe me, believe the defintions.

    ie. they *don’t* do the scientific method (submitting evidence in an open way for the whole world to debate for veracity and let it be tested..and then ignore results if they are tested)on GW ie.:

    Merrian Webster:

    Scientist:

    “a scientific investigator”

    Science:
    “exhibiting the methods or principles of science”

    Science:
    “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method”

    http://www.webster.com/dictionary/science

    Wikipedia:

    “A scientist is an expert in at least one area of science who uses the scientific method to do research.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientist

    Scientific Method:

    “a thorough peer review of the experimental results as well as conclusions of a study”

    “Often scientists have a preference for one outcome over another, and scientists are conscientious that it is important that this preference does not bias their interpretation. A strict following of the scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of a scientist’s bias on the outcome of an experiment.”

    Well, that concludes it for Lindzen, Singer and most skeptics. They don’t do peer review and let their results be tested or just ignore the results if they are tested.

    “The scientific method seeks to explain the complexities of nature in a replicable way, and to use these explanations to make useful predictions.

    “It provides an objective process to find solutions to problems in a number of scientific and technological fields. Often scientists have a preference for one outcome over another, and scientists are conscientious that it is important that this preference does not bias their interpretation. A strict following of the scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of a scientist’s bias on the outcome of an experiment. This can be achieved by correct experimental design, and a thorough peer review of the experimental results as well as conclusions of a study.”

    Merriam-Webster:

    “Principles and procedures…systematic pursuit”

    “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/scientific+method

  35. Matthias:

    Who cares?

  36. John Mashey:

    re: #32 I & #31

    I used to spend a fair amount of time with the press, so:

    a) Reporters and editors range from awful to excellent, and oddly enough, most are closer to average. The Gaussian distribution strikes again.

    b) “Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.”
    – Napoleon, supposedly, although I’ve not verified that.

    This is usually true, although occasionally someone is out to cherry-pick; I did an interview for Business Week where it turned out the writer was 100% dedicated to doing a hatchet job, and one for WSJ where I think somebody was hoping to dig up dirt, but failed. But, more problems come from incompetence.

    c) They have frequent deadlines, sometimes every day.

    d) It is unrealistic to expect a reporter to also be an expert in a complex technical domain, and it’s even harder for an editor. It’s even worse when they move people around: I once did an interview with a reporter who’d just taken over the technology column, … having mostly written for the food section.

    d) Some things don’t work in the obvious way. In particular, quite often the writer of the article does *NOT* pick the headline:

    I once did an interview for the WSJ, with a *terrific* writer, but the article’s unfortunate headline cost my company 15% of its stock value in an hour or two, which was not viewed with favor by my CEO & CFO. Fortunately, it was temporary, and in talking withe the reporter, he told me that *he* ahdn’t pikcedthat headline.

    If all that seems too bizarre to be true, here’s the story, including the WSJ article:
    http://yarchive.net/comp/mips_stock_glitch.html

    All of this happened because I’d written a report that used real data to analyze computer performance and get better metrics to replace marketing fantasies…

    ADVICE:
    Try to find a few good reporters and editors to cultivate, remembering a), be patient and help the ones willing to learn. If you can find one who’s really good, and gets well-educated, they can be priceless, because if they get to trust you, they call you up to check out stories *beforehand*.

    Persistence helps: the San Jose Mercury News once gave a big Op-Ed section to serious denialist ranting, as well as often printing similar Letters to Editor.
    ["Sea-level isn't going up: see Stockholm!" ... by an oceanic meteorologist].

    I stirred up friends of the editor, wrote letters [indeed, it’s hard to do sound-bites) and pointed out that there were world-class scientists handy like Stephen Schneider at Stanford,and might well write much better Op-Eds. I doubt I was the only one to point this out, but in any case, they ran a nice Op-ED by Stephen a few weeks later. The frequency of rant letters printed went down. Their reporting on climate issues is now pretty good, with good reporters being given time to do more in-depth articles that run several pages for several days.

    Of course, Silicon Valley is one of the easier places on the planet for this, so I sympathize with the writer from Arizona, where it may not be so easy.

    On the other hand: Stephen: you at least have a Senator (McCain) whose AGW views are clear enough to outrage Patrick Michaels, and AZ certainly is one of the states that will suffer seriously from AGW, so maybe there is some way for you to leverage McCain’s influence in AZ.

  37. Theo H:

    Re 32.

    The Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts link sends me to my own newspaper, the UK�s Guardian. The Guardian is the newspaper of choice of the liberal left in the UK and my own chosen national daily. It is also the newspaper that weekly caries the op-ed/opinion column of George Monbiot (scourge of the climate sceptics/sceptics, and �constant guest� in RC�s pages). I will take a chance, and guess that the Guardian is the chosen newspaper of UK scientists.

    The Guardian generally accepts that global warming/climate change is a reality.

    I did a quick check on the Guardian�s own internal search engine. �Climate change� scored 6637 references, while �global warming� scored 5106 references.

    Might be interesting to have the comment of UK readers of the Guardian on this?

    Alternatively, why not have a go at e-mailing to John Vidal, the Guardian�s environmental editor jvidal@guardian.co.uk (that�s from memory) so; perhaps alert him to this somewhat dodgy graph. It�s just the sort of thing that might be suitable for the �Eco-soundings� shorts item on his Wednesday two page environment slot.

    Or try George Monbiot http://www.monbiot.com with the dodgy graph.

  38. Luna loves pictures:

    This picture you mentioned is qute simplified.
    I think the amount of heat and the amount of light have to be considered as a unified variable and not separeted like the graphic did.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

  39. ray ladbury:

    Re 36. John BTW, the quote per Wikiquote is due to Napoleon:
    “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
    although it is also known as Hanlon’s Razor. And good advice it is. I used to be of the press of sorts–editor at a quasi-popularized physics trade publication, so I know the frustration from both sides. Every month I would have to immerse myself in a topic and learn it well enough to discuss it with Nobel Laureates without appearing to be a complete idiot. Awesome training. I cannot imagine doing it on a weekly, let alone a daily basis and not having a background in the subject to start with. On the other hand, I had a long talk with William Broad one time about science journalism. Broad did not think his lack of science background was a hindrance as a science journalist, since ultimately he had to make his piece understandable to his readers. The thing is that people are lazy–or maybe just busy–and they have limited patience with a piece they have to work at understanding. So, a journalist tries various tricks to make the piece interesting–highlighting conflict (the old science as sporting event ploy), manufacturing a narative (the old pretence of human interest in th sciences), or they oversell the importance or novelty of the research (aka the “read my piece or die” ploy). All of these do violence to the science, but it’s hard to present science to the general public if you don’t “dumb it down”. Even writing for physicists, we had readers who complained about very well written articles: “If I’m going to work that hard, I want to get paid for it.” Scientists need to keep in mind that while this is a complicated issue, it ultimately boils down to conservation of energy: The energy of the system is changing. The energy has to come from somewhere, and the only reasonable candidate is anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing.

  40. Steve Reynolds:

    9>If there are any sincere skeptics out there, they should be up in arms against this …

    While not exactly an AGW skeptic, I am sometimes considered one here, and I think I am sincere.

    I certainly condemn this kind of manipulation.

    That said, and not in any way excusing Beck, are you sure that some of the graphics in Gore’s AIT are not nearly as bad?

  41. tinna:

    I wish I could understand German, not to read the article but to read the comments. I can see the article got quite a bit of reaction (343 comments so far) but what are the people saying, do they agree or are they furious?

  42. ray ladbury:

    Re 40. Steve, do you have a specific allegation against some of Gore’s figures, or is this just another excuse for an ad hominem attack? To my knowledge, most of Gore’s figures were reviewed by actual climate scientists-and like it or not, Gore is at least sincere. Beck is a fraud, or are the standards in the “skeptic” community that low?

  43. Aaron Lewis:

    Re 40
    Is this a troll or science?

    Which of Gore’s graphics do you have a problem with; and what problem do you have with it?

    My view is that most of Gore’s graphics are not perfect. I feel that they understate the extent and immediacy of global warming issues. That is based on that fact that the global warming climate models ignor a large number of known climate warming issues. For example there are changes in albedo of ice when soot is deposited. However, there are also changes in the albedo of snow due to growth of biological communities based on algae when nutrients are deposited on snow.

    Any biologists working on the snow models?

  44. Dick Veldkamp:

    Re #41 (343 comments on Beck’s article)

    After a quick scan through the 343 reactions on this article, I would say that about half of the contributions “agree” with Beck’s nonsense (for many contributions it is not that easy to say what side they are on, because the discussion quickly wanders off to wind power, China’s energy policy, etc)

    I don’t know whether we should draw any deep conclusions from this tally. Firstly it’s a general forum so some people probably can’t see this bunk for what it is. Secondly there’s a few contrarians who post many, many times. Thirdly there is bias: it’s mostly denialists that keep posting, most people that are convinced that climate change is a real problem presumably don’t bother writing.

  45. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[This is very surprising – I thought that Germany had a good reputation in the area of science education.]]

    Oh no, Germany, alongside its respectable intellectual tradition, also has a long pseudoscience tradition. Horlegger’s “World Ice Theory” was a classic of crackpot science, and of course Nazi racial anthropology was a factor in millions of state murders.

  46. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[Well, that concludes it for Lindzen, Singer and most skeptics. They don’t do peer review and let their results be tested or just ignore the results if they are tested.]]

    While I agree in general, there was a time when Lindzen published his research — even anti-global-warming research — in peer-reviewed journals, e.g. his “iris” article. Of course later research shot that one down, so that may explain why he doesn’t bother with peer review these days.

  47. Vivendi:

    “I’m just playing along with it for the sake of the argument”
    Do you mean “irresponsibly playful” = mischievous behavior?

    “Notice how temperature goes up and down in beautifully regular cycles since 800 B.C.?”
    Is it really the first time that you look at a graphical representation meant to symbolize a concept: the concept of cyclic recurrence of a phenomenon.
    Nowhere in this graphic do I see suggested that there is a fixed periodicity (the 2 slashes in the time scale clearly indicate a cut) nor does the graphic suggest that it shows real temperatures, in fact there is no scale on the y-axis.

    I haven’t read your entire blog, but I bet I wouldn’t find an article which denounces the fact that Al Gore forgot to mention and adequately explain the time lag between temperature and CO2 concentration. He simply used his technique to dramatize increases.

  48. ray ladbury:

    Vivendi, No, you didn’t read the blog. Nor did you do a search, which would have turned up:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/
    which would have explained that in fact, contrary to the propaganda from your neocon mothership, Gore does in fact mention the lag and correctly attributes the reason to the fact that initial warming in past epochs was most often to slight changes in insolation.
    Gee, maybe you should read more of this blog.

  49. Blair Dowden:

    I bet you would find an article on exactly that subject. The title says Gore got it right, but the text shows that he blew an opportunity to accurately demonstrate the importance of carbon dioxide on climate.

  50. Jim Eager:

    Re 47 Vivendi: “I haven’t read your entire blog…”

    Perhaps you should, you just might learn something about the actual science of greenhouse gasses and climate change.

  51. SinkingFeeling:

    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.

  52. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  53. Jamie Cate:

    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?

  54. SomeBeans:

    #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

  55. Hank Roberts:

    >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.

  56. Zeno:

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

  57. Hank Roberts:

    >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.

  58. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  59. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  60. catman306:

    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.

  61. Russell Seitz:

    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.

  62. dhogaza:

    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?

  63. Zeno:

    #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.

  64. Hank Roberts:

    You’re repeating yourself, Dr. S.:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=%2Brealclimate+%2Bseitz+%2Bextinction+%2B2000

  65. Eli Rabett:

    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:)

  66. Alexi Tekhasski:

    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]

  67. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[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.

  68. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  69. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  70. Ike Solem:

    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!”.

  71. Aaron Lewis:

    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.

  72. Jim Eager:

    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.

  73. Timothy Chase:

    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?

  74. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  75. Jim Eager:

    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

  76. Steve Reynolds:

    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]

  77. ray ladbury:

    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.

  78. Lawrence Brown:

    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.”

  79. Steve Reynolds:

    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]

  80. Aaron Lewis:

    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.

  81. George Roman:

    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!!

  82. ray ladbury:

    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.

  83. Paul:

    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?

  84. Ray Ladbury:

    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.

  85. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  86. Bob Schmitz:

    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.

  87. Jim Eager:

    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.

  88. Rod B:

    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.

  89. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  90. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  91. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  92. Rod B:

    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]

  93. Jim Galasyn:

    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”?

  94. Jim Galasyn:

    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

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

  101. John Mashey:

    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. :-)

  102. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  103. Don Thieme:

    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.

  104. Jim Galasyn:

    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. :)

  105. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  106. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  107. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  108. Rod B.:

    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.

  109. Rod B.:

    “[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.

  110. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  111. Rod B.:

    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.

  112. Paul:

    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.

  113. Ray Ladbury:

    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.

  114. Paul:

    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.

  115. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  116. DOT:

    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.

  117. tessil:

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

  118. Paul:

    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.

  119. Nick Gotts:

    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.

  120. Ray Ladbury:

    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.

  121. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  122. Timothy Chase:

    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

  123. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  124. John Mashey:

    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)

  125. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  126. Jim Galasyn:

    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. :)

  127. James:

    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.

  128. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  129. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  130. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[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.

  131. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[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.

  132. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  133. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  134. Jim Galasyn:

    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.

  135. Steve Reynolds:

    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.)

  136. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  137. Timothy Chase:

    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.

  138. AAS:

  139. Paul:

    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.

  140. ray ladbury:

    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.

  141. Paul:

    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.

  142. Ray Ladbury:

    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.

  143. Steve Reynolds:

    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.

  144. Chuck Booth:

    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.

  145. Jim Eager:

    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?

  146. ray ladbury:

    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?

  147. John Mashey:

    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.

  148. Agnes Witter:

    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.

  149. Steve Reynolds:

    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…

  150. ray ladbury:

    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?

  151. Rod B:

    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”).

  152. Alexi Tekhasski:

    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]

  153. Chuck Booth:

    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?

  154. Chuck Booth:

    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?

  155. ray ladbury:

    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.

  156. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[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.

  157. Ray Ladbury:

    Re 150: Barton, a letter like that guy’s letter gives me a chance to paraphrase Vonnegut: “He teaches science like my ass chews gum.”

  158. tamino:

    Re: #142 (Agnes Witter)

    I too salute your willingness to oppose misinformation about this important issue.

    I suggest you send the following letter to the editors of the paper. Please alter it to suit your own personal preferences, and submit it under your own name.

    ====================
    A recent letter to the editor about the behavior of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is completely wrong.

    When the author makes such statements as, “carbon dioxide always falls due to gravity,” and “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” he reveals his ignorance of the behavior of gases in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a well-mixed gas whose concentration is roughly constant throughout the lower atmosphere (the troposphere, about the lowest 10 km of our envelope of air, thicker in the tropics and thinner at the poles). The constant mixing of gases in the atmosphere is maintained by the process of convection. Even if such convection were not present, the “scale height” (the height at which the density of a gas is reduced to half its sea-level value) for carbon dioxide would be 4 km, compared to about 6 km for most atmospheric gas.

    Carbon dioxide concentration is monitored at a large number of stations throughout the world, many of which are at high altitude (data can be obtained from the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases, http://gaw.kishou.go.jp/wdcgg.html). The altitude-dependence suggested by the letter’s author is contradicted by direct observation.

    The most naive error of the author is miscalculating the molecular weights of atmospheric gases. He states, “Carbon dioxide is … a compound of carbon bonded to oxygen atoms with a combined atomic weight of 14.5,” when in fact the molecular weight of carbon dioxide is 44 (atomic mass units). He then states, “Air is 78 percent nitrogen with a weight of 14,” quite ignoring the fact that atmospheric nitrogen is a molecule of two nitrogen atoms, with weight 28.

    The letter-writer claims to be a former science teacher. How sad that our children were taught this subject by someone who is so woefully ignorant of science, but still feels qualified to state his mistaken beliefs as fact!

    Perhaps the greatest pity is the journalistic irresponsibility of the editors of this newspaper, who seem not to know the difference between fact and foolishness, and apparently cannot be bothered to check the accuracy of the writer’s claims. The most basic investigation would have quickly revealed that the letter is utter nonsense, and should never have seen the light of day.
    ====================

  159. nicolas L.:

    Hello Agnes

    I’m sure a lot of people will be more qualified here than me to answer properly, as far as Iâ??m a biologist and atmospheric physics sometimes get far out of my reach :). But you can learn a lot on atmospheric composition and gas mixing by reading those few articles: that should give you a good bases to answer your teacher (thank god heâ??s not teaching my children)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/CarbonCycle/carbon_cycle4.html/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_atmosphere
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_chemistry

    “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” If you look at the carbon cycle, you’ll notice one of the main sources for CO2 release in atmosphere is respiration and decomposition of plants and animals (so if the CO2 we expire can go in the atmosphere, a power plant release can certainly do). Another thing is that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are going up and up since the last 150 years (from 280 PPM in pre-industrial era to 379 ppm today), without any major change neither in the natural sources of CO2, nor in the natural CO2 sinks. So where does this CO2 comes from? I’m afraid not from a hatâ?¦

    “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.” Hmmm, You should try to explain him atmosphere is pretty well mixed and that you will find approximatively the same components in the same proportions all along of the homosphere (from 0 to 100 km high), water vapour excepted. Thank god for us, gravity is not the only element that enters into account when speaking about the composition of something.

    “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.” As far as I get it, CO2 doesnâ??t have to climb through the stratosphere (which it does anyway) to be a GHG, it already is in the low atmosphere, with the same consequences.

    “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.” If carbon cycle was a one way street, it wouldnâ??t be a cycle :). The principle of a cycle is to have a dynamic equilibrium between the different states of an element. The way he describes it, CO2 should have disappeared from atmosphere a long time ago now.

    “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.” Someone more competent should comment about that, but this really sounds far from a good scientific analysis (CO2 becoming “invisible”, thatâ??s a nice story I had never heard before). You could also answer CO2 has an average life time of 100 years when released in the atmosphere before it’s captured by a terrestrial or oceanic carbon sink (I donâ??t think it can be considered as a short time anyway)..

    “Students can do a simple science experiment by filling up balloons with carbon dioxide and letting them go in a field.” Of course what he misses there is that CO2 trapped in a balloon won’t ever have the chance to get mixed with the other atmospheric gasesâ?¦ Therefore it doesn’t reproduce any kind of natural conditions; therefore it’s no scientific experiment.

    Another document thatâ??s really good to learn about the effects of GHG: the IPCC 4th assessment report, published a few weeks ago. You can read the summary for policy makers for a start, youâ??ll find all the data you need about concentrations of atmospheric CO2 you need.
    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    Ok, hope this will help, tough I think there are lots of people here abble to answer more accurately than I did. Keep up with the fighting spirit.

  160. Timothy Chase:

    Agnes,

    For something as small as a carbon dioxide molecule, the simple turbulence of the slightest breeze or for that matter kinetic motion due to heat is certainly more than enough to keep it well-mixed in the atmosphere. If it weren’t, plants wouldn’t grow up the side of mountains up to where it is simply too cold for them to survive. Ice droplets are denser than air, but we have clouds, including cirus clouds, where the droplets have frozen to ice.

    Mass is a function of density and volume, but while volume increases as the cube of the scale, surface area increases only as the square, thus the ratio of surface area to volume increases as something becomes smaller. If you drop a man off a fifty story building, things won’t be pretty. If you drop an ant off the empire state building, it will walk away. How much smaller is a molecule than an ant?

    The smaller something is, the more the turbulence and then kinetic motion matters. But once we get to water vapor and carbon dioxide, we aren’t talking about droplets anymore: we are talking about individual molecules. Unlike water vapor, carbon dioxide will never condense to the point that it consists of a liquid, even the smallest of droplets – except under very extreme conditions. In fact, it goes from solid to gas with no intermediate state of liquid at the natural temperature and pressure ranges encountered on earth.

    I can’t put it delicately: this guy is so ignorant of science and so lacking in common sense than just about anyone that I pick off the street would think his arguments absolutely bizarre.

  161. Steve Reynolds:

    ray ladbury> 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.

    The overstatement is implied in the same graph (that modern temperatures would increase with CO2 concentration with the same sensitivity implied in the graph).

    Ray> 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.

    I disagree. Maybe not as a scientific authority, but some endorse AIT to make their case to the public.

    Ray> The denialist community gleefully cites Beck when it suits their purpose. Shouldn’t that bother you?

    Yes, it does. That is how this series of my comments started – I condemned Beck’s graph.

  162. Jim Galasyn:

    Re the Agnes letter in 142:

    I remember a bitter debate on Usenet back in the day. The question was whether gases of different molecular weights would “settle out” at STP as suggested by the science teacher.

    People pointed out that you can pour heavy or cold gases out of a dewar, and they’ll stay on the floor. But of course, this is a transient state. Because we’re talking about gases, they eventually mix completely — hence the idea of partial pressure.

    I imagine that if you started freezing out the atmosphere, then you’d see stratification, but then we’re not discussing gases anymore. Cryogenic worlds like Titan and Pluto probably do show stratified layers on the surface, but not in their atmospheres.

  163. Ray Ladbury:

    Steve, why do you suggest that modern sensitivity to CO2 will be substantially different from sensitivity for similar CO2 concentration in the past. Moreover, I don’t remember Gore making any claims about sensitivity in AIT.

    There is a huge difference between endorsing the efforts of a private citizen to educate people about a scientific issue and citing a nonscientist (and a fraud, as it turns out) as a scientific authority, would you not agree? Merely condemning the graph is not sufficient. What Beck has done here is every bit as serious as the fraud by Hwang-Woo Suk–a deliberate (if ham-handed) attempt to mislead people about a scientific matter.

  164. Chuck Booth:

    Re 156
    There is a similar, long standing debate regarding compressed gas mixtures in a cylinder (e.g., air in a SCUBA tank) – some people think that over time the gases will stratify according to their density, and so should be remixed by rolling the cylinder (shake those gases up!), or gentle heating (e.g., with a lamp) before using the tank (http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem03/chem03325.htm ). The notion of stratifying gases in a closed cylinder always struck me as violating Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures and the second law of thermodynamics. It is my understanding (I’m not a physicist!) that while gases of greatly different density may stratify under some conditions ( e.g., in mines – http://www.worksafesask.ca/files/sask_labour/mine_manual.pdf.) the reason the component gases in air in sealed cylinder (compressed, or not) don’t stratify is that their density differences are small relative to their kinetic energy. Is this essentially correct?

  165. Agnes Witter:

    WOW, thank you all so much for your rapid replies. I not only get a letter already composed for me but an excellent education to boot.

    What more could an old gal ask for.
    hugs to you all.

  166. Timothy Chase:

    Regarding Al Gore and his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” Ray Ladbury (#149) wrote:

    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.

    Steve Reynolds (#155) responded:

    I disagree. Maybe not as a scientific authority, but some endorse AIT to make their case to the public.

    I know I would endorse it – with a caveat or two. It is highly educational, deals with an important subject, does a beautiful job artistically of blending the personal and the global and historical, and despite its topic is quite positive in its message. And at a certain level, it even manages to deal with what it means to be human. Currently I know of only just one error. It was implicit in how one might reasonably interpret a given graph as suggesting a climate sensitivity greater than what it actually is, suggesting 10 C rather than 3 C. I wouldn’t blame it on him per se or on the viewer. But preferably someone should have spotted what the graph was suggestive of when naively interpreted – if only to prevent dishonest ideologues from taking advantage of this omission as a quick and easy means of character asassination and ad hominem attack so as to dismiss the film as vilest propaganda.

    Wouldn’t you agree Steve?

    With regard to other omissions, they were basically due to lack of time. For example, one couldn’t possibly cover all of the positive feedbacks that are involved in climate change. The one other “problem” you have pointed out regarding a large lag-time with respect to natural global warming (where positive feedback begins with a rise in temperature) is for all intents and purposes irrelevant with respect to manmade global warming which has been initiated with a high rate of CO2 emissions, and consequently takes place at a substantially higher rate.

  167. Chuck Booth:

    Re 158
    Should anyone care, the link I provided doesn’t work. This one should:
    http://www.worksafesask.ca/files/sask_labour/mine_rescue_index.htm
    The document is: Saskatchewan Mine Emergency Response Program Mine Rescue Manual

  168. Steve Reynolds:

    Ray Ladbury> Steve, why do you suggest that modern sensitivity to CO2 will be substantially different from sensitivity for similar CO2 concentration in the past. Moreover, I don’t remember Gore making any claims about sensitivity in AIT.

    See 160 (Timothy Chase). Also, think log response, not linear.

    Ray> There is a huge difference between endorsing the efforts of a private citizen to educate people about a scientific issue and citing a nonscientist (and a fraud, as it turns out) as a scientific authority, would you not agree?

    So if people only endorse Beck, rather than cite him, then everything should be OK acording to that logic? Assuming that no one is a fraud.

    Ray> What Beck has done here is every bit as serious as the fraud by Hwang-Woo Suk–a deliberate (if ham-handed) attempt to mislead people about a scientific matter.

    That may or may not be true. That depends on Beck’s motivation, of which I am not aware.

  169. Eli Rabett:

    158 Chuck, it is true that mixtures settle in compressed gas cylinders, although usually you need a larger difference in mass than the 4 amu between CO2 and N2. They also need time to mix esp when there is little convection.

    This leads to such odd behavior as putting a large gas cylinder into a hot foot bath to warm it up a bit and remix, or leaving a new mixture to sit overnight and mix.

  170. James:

    Re ["Even strong weather on land cannot provide an updraft to carry carbon dioxide from cars above the clouds to reach the stratosphere...]

    In addition to what others have mentioned, also note that those updrafts are sufficiently strong to carry solid objects, for example hailstones and sailplanes, to considerable heights. Shouldn’t have any problem at all mixing up a little CO2 :-)

    I also suppose people have actually measured the atmospheric composition at various altitudes. If it’s the same, as I suppose it is, then his theory is disproved.

  171. David B. Benson:

    Regarding Agnes’ “science teacher” — Nobody mentioned that it is all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that contributes to the so-called greenhouse effect, not just the carbon dioxide in the stratosphere, as the “science teacher” claimed.

    This is correct, is it not? I’m but an amateur here, and this is pushing past the edge of my actual knowledge…

  172. Steve Reynolds:

    Timothy Chase> But preferably someone should have spotted what the graph was suggestive of when naively interpreted – if only to prevent dishonest ideologues from taking advantage of this omission as a quick and easy means of character asassination and ad hominem attack so as to dismiss the film as vilest propaganda. Wouldn’t you agree Steve?

    I agree that the film is not the ‘vilest propaganda’. I do think the film is ‘propaganda’ in the sense that it is very one-sided, not that most of it is untrue.

  173. Timothy Chase:

    David B. Benson (#165) wrote:

    Regarding Agnes’ “science teacher” — Nobody mentioned that it is all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that contributes to the so-called greenhouse effect, not just the carbon dioxide in the stratosphere, as the “science teacher” claimed.

    This is correct, is it not? I’m but an amateur here, and this is pushing past the edge of my actual knowledge…

    Well, I don’t have the numbers right off the bat, but you have to remember that water vapor is a much more effective greenhouse gas that carbon dioxide is, and in the lower atmosphere it exists in a much higher concentration. Given this, if we considered the greenhouse effect only as it takes place within the lower atmosphere, additional carbon dioxide would have very little effect at all upon the system. However, the stratosphere is much drier and the carbon dioxide molecules more distantly spaced.

    This is where the addition of carbon dioxide has its largest effect upon the system, an effect which is still smaller than that of water vapor, but not a great deal smaller. Moreover, as a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere raises the level of infrared being directed into the lower atmosphere by re-emitting roughly half of what it receives back to earth, it will heat the surface. Raising the temperature will raise rate of evaporation, amplifying the greenhouse effect due to carbon dioxide by means of increased water vapor in the troposphere. Much of this amplification will be indirect, being due to what positive feedback ensues between raised levels of water vapor and the higher temperatures which result from additional water vapor at each successive stage in the analysis.

  174. Kurt Cagle:

    Has anyone looked at Beck’s graph if it were done correctly, ie take the break out of the horizontal axis and extend it in uniform increments to cover the 2800 year period, then fill in with the actual data? I apologize if this has been done in a previous post and I missed it. I’m not a scientist and don’t have access to the data, but just wondered what the “real” graph would look like. Obviously, if it looked like the one he shows, there would have been no reason to resort to presenting the graph as he did, so it must give quite a different looking “curve”.

  175. Alexi Tekhasski:

    Re # 149: Ray, when you heard the word “cycle” and saw a simplified illustration for laymen, obviously you thought wrong. The Beck’s construction does not use or require periodicity. And Stefan reproduced the wrong graph from Beck’s article, just because he seems to be preoccupied by his own theory of D-O periodicity. He should better reproduce the other picture,
    http://www.readers-edition.de/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/bfuenf.jpg
    if he wanted to understand and/or refute the real argument.

    Gavin, re your response to #146: I am willing to skip your ad hom, and even admit that the word “strong” was too strong. However, the “Beck’s fakery”, as you eloquently expressed it, is no weaker than the AGW “climate CO2 sensitivity” hypothesis. Or, should I follow your lead and also call it a “fakery”? Also, the phrase you have edited out was literally copied from Ray’s post #140, word by word. Incidentally, I did not see your editing touch on his message.

    Regarding “millennial variability”, you understood Wunsch’s words (and mine) incorrectly. We didn’t assert that there is no “millennial variability”. There is a variability, just the spectral density of this variability does not differ from a rose-colored noise (relative to other time scales). To be honest, all attempts to construct an estimate of spectral density from a singe time series (that has barely a single degree of freedom) are not serious, it is a technical nonsense, it gives you about 100% uncertainty in estimations of amplitudes of individual spectral lines, especially if the time spacing between data samples is jittery and loosely defined (as I understand, you call this as “age model”). I would go ahead and even agree with you that the jitter in the alleged 1:1000 alias must be quite substantial, and is not likely to produce the relatively sharp peak. IMO, all these “peaks” are artifacts of insufficient amount of data samples relative to the time scale under discussion.

    [Response: Frankly, comparing blatant graph manipulation with the study of climate sensitivity is ridiculous. And I’m not sure who you are arguing with on the millennial variability issue. I have never thought it periodic, but there is no way it is simply rose coloured noise – do the analysis yourself on the NGRIP d18O_ice record during Stage 3 – the age model there, driven mainly by layer counting is pretty good. The problem with Wunsch’s analysis was that the exact definition of the tropical year or sidereal year just doesn’t come into it. – gavin]

  176. Timothy Chase:

    Steve Reynolds (#162) wrote:

    See 160 (Timothy Chase). Also, think log response, not linear.

    So is that what this is about? The difference between linear and logarithmic?

    I had picked up on the fact that there was something misleading about the visual and how it might be naively interpretted from this:

    Gore shows the strong parallel relationship between the temperature and CO2 data from the ice cores, and then illustrates where the CO2 is now (384 ppm), leaving the viewer’s eye to extrapolate the temperature curve upwards in parallel with the rising CO2. Gore doesn’t actually make the mistake of drawing the temperature curve, but the implication is obvious: temperatures are going to go up a lot. But as illustrated in the figure below, simply extrapolating this correlation forward in time puts the Antarctic temperature in the near future somewhere upwards of 10 degrees Celsius warmer than present — rather at the extreme end of the vast majority of projections (as we have discussed here).

    27 Apr 2007
    The lag between temperature and CO2. (Goreâ??s got it right.)
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/

    … but I still didn’t know what it was.

    Anyway, one can obviously argue that this is misleading – insofar as the actual mathematics isn’t explained. Then again, one could also argue that it is misleading – because he doesn’t explain that the increase in temperature will not be evenly distributed. Temperatures will rise more in the northern hemisphere than the southern, more over the higher latitudes than the tropical ones, more over land than sea. A two degree increase may easily become something much closer to ten for much of his audience. Particularly if they are used to thinking in terms of Fahrenheit than Celsius.

    *

    Trying to encapsulate the degree of climate change in terms of the rise in the average global temperature is itself very misleading – as this change in the long-term average global temperature is not for a particular place on a particular day, but for the entire planet and for all intents and purposes – permanent. As one raises this “temperature” degree by degree, the effects rise exponentially.

    Given the non-linear behavior of ice, for example, it is quite possible that business as usual will result in sea levels rising by several meters – according to one of the world’s leading climatologists. If you look at a globe, this may not seem especially significant – except in places like the Florida panhandle or perhaps India. But if you look a little more closely at say New York City or San Franciso or London, you will begin to notice something. People aren’t distributed randomly – and a lot of people will be affected. In fact, roughly half the world’s population lives within 50 miles of the coastline.

    Now of course people aren’t simply just stand still while the water rises over their heads. But people will be affected. Catastrophically. Imagine the economic cost of trying to move half of humanity – and all of the associated infrastructure? And what of the storms – which hit a more vulnerable coastline, one that is closer to the sea? And at this point, I am simply thinking in terms of sea level.

    They are projecting that we will have lost the Himalayan glaciers by the end of this century. This means water shortages for roughly a billion people. Think of what this alone means to their agriculture. According to our best projections, we will no longer be able to grow wheat in the United States. What does this imply for other crops which are currently grown in the states?

    What about the oceans – and the rising level of acidity which our emissions will result in? With the damage that this will do to the ocean’s ecological system, fish harvests will drop catastrophically in the decades to come. Think of the level of starvation that this will likely imply.

    *

    If we do not adjust our course soon, it will be much more difficult to change it later and much of what will happen will no longer be in our hands but the result of positive feedbacks which, once set in motion will take on a life of their own. In fact, it has been projected that as the result of the strong feedbacks which exist within the carbon cycle, we could reach somewhere between 730 ppm and 1020 ppm.

    At 1020 ppm, we would stand a good chance of raising the long-term average global temperature by six degrees Celsius. Near the poles where oxygen is absorbed this would be much closer to fifteen degrees. The ocean would become hypoxic, and in many of the shallower coastal areas it would become anoxic.

    That alone would be enough to kill the vast majority of life within the ocean – assuming that it wasn’t already dead as the result of the increased acidity destroying the food web. From what we know, it appears that a six degree rise in global average temperature was all it took for nature to reach the greatest mass extinction this planet has ever known.

    Think about it.

    What would be especially misleading is looking at the long-term global average temperature as if it were the same sort of thing as a particular temperature at a particular place on a particular day.

  177. Timothy Chase:

    Steve,

    You say that Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is “very one-sided.”

    Sounds good.

    I would quite interested in learning about the other side – since I have absolutely no idea what it is. Not on this issue. Not with what potentially hangs in the balance.

  178. ray ladbury:

    Steve, your comment reminds me of a scene in the play “Greater Tuna” where a local activist is being interviewed on the radio because he wants to ban several books from the library.
    Interviewer: But why do you want to ban Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That’s a classic.
    Concerned Citizen: Why it only presents one side of the slavery issue.

    You have failed to document substantive inaccuracies in his presentation. Indeed, the insubstantiality of your criticisms would seem to indicate that he mostly got the science right. Just what “other side” would you suggest that Gore present. I am not a great fan of Al Gore, but you guys sure have yielded the high ground to him.

  179. Steve Reynolds:

    Timothy Chase> I would quite interested in learning about the other side – since I have absolutely no idea what it is.

    While it can be endlessly argued whether the IPCC is too conservative (as you seem to believe) or too alarmist, the other side that most interests me is the economic one of costs vs. benefits.

    I take the moderate position (IMO) that the peer reviewed climate scientists of the IPCC are mostly right about climate effects and that the bulk of peer reviewed economists are mostly right about cost/benefit effects.

    I think those who accept the IPCC climate science view and then reject the economists have the mirror image problem of those who reject the IPCC and accept the economics.

  180. ray ladbury:

    Re 173: Steve, now here we have some agreement. A healthy and growing economy will be essential if we are to successfully mitigate climate issues that will arise. So, would you advocate significantly increased conservation and diversification of energy sources away from fossil fuels? And would you favor a cap and trade or a carbon tax strategy to reflect the true costs of burning fossil fuels?

    BTW, I don’t think Gore’s intent was to advocate for solutions so much as to call attention to the problem. And I do think he glossed over some of the pain people are going to feel in dealing with this issue.

  181. Timothy Chase:

    Steve Reynolds (#173) wrote:

    I take the moderate position (IMO) that the peer reviewed climate scientists of the IPCC are mostly right about climate effects and that the bulk of peer reviewed economists are mostly right about cost/benefit effects.

    I think those who accept the IPCC climate science view and then reject the economists have the mirror image problem of those who reject the IPCC and accept the economics.

    I think that anyone who believes that we can get through this simply by cinching our belts, going green and doing without is sadly mistaken. Turning our backs on modern technology and the modern global economy will not work, particularly if we have any intention of supporting eleven billion by addressing the water scarcities and food shortages which we are likely to face. Extended poverty will only mean extending the rise in population and the use of less efficient technologies. It is simple demographics.

    If we are to make it through this, we have to invest in new technologies and make them widely available. International cooperation in what are essentially the twenty-first century equivilents of the Manhattan Project. The sooner we begin the more time we will have and the less likely we will become truly desperate, lacking the means for such investments, particularly since the cost of a project will skyrocket when one is forced to complete it in less time than what is actually needed. The longer we wait, the more desparate people will become, and the more likely they will be to place their lives in the hands of some demagogue whose only concern is that of maintaining absolute power.

  182. David B. Benson:

    Re# 167: Timothy Chase — Thank you, but by reverse induction it seems that the same effects ought to apply to half the troposphere and then half of that, etc.

  183. Jim Galasyn:

    In 173, Steve Reynolds wrote:

    I take the moderate position (IMO) that the peer reviewed climate scientists of the IPCC are mostly right about climate effects and that the bulk of peer reviewed economists are mostly right about cost/benefit effects.

    Could you post a quick summary of what the bulk of peer reviewed economists are saying? That would be really informative. I’ve read a few things, but not enough to get a feel for the consensus.

  184. John Mashey:

    re: #173 Steve:

    Economists’ views (of economics) *are* relevant, and there is a lot of room for argument over policy, especially for those of us who think that governments often screw up, but screw up even worse if problems get deferred until they’re desperate.

    But can you help me with the following:
    do you think:

    a) That the confidence level of long-term predictive economics is of the same order as that of current climate science?

    (It’s not probably not fair to to quote the old joke that economists have predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions, but I will anyway. I also remember the Scholes/Merton LTCM fiasco, but I know enough good economists to have some feel for how difficult and surprise-prone economics is.)

    b) That economists’ views are more or less coupled with political viewpoints as those of climate scientists?

    c) That there is anything like the consensus amongst real economists as there is amongst real climate scientists?

    For instance: to pick the most trivial metric, to what extent do they agree on the discount rate?

    I have a specific set of question-marks around:

    a) Additional dead-weight costs incurred just to stay even, which compete with other uses (like education & research & improved infrastructure) that are usually better wealth-generating investments.

    b) Impact of higher transportation costs over the next few decades, and how that affects global supply chains and the economy.

    c) The modeling of the costs of fixups, if it turns out that some costs become very large if deferred too far. (I.e., this is the usual maintenance problem, in which deferring maintenance too long can lead to very high costs.)

    d) The extent to which the long-term economic models match what we see on the ground. Private Insurance companies employ economists also, and as noted in that recent WSJ article, they are fleeing the coasts, leaving them to “lenders of last resort” or Federal/state arrangements that expect “somebody else” to pay. As a result, there is a huge, growing (but somewhat invisible) liability being accrued, which doesn’t show up in this year’s GNP.

    Anyway, can you point us at a representative sample of good economic models/analyses, i.e., more than what I read in The Economist every week, but less than 700-page reports?

  185. Susan K:

    Last night Exxon-Mobil funded NPR’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer had a snide little story with a meteorologist saying its how allya climate scientists are stoopid and your measurements are off coz you measure the temperatures at urban heat sink spots that …duh! …get hotter, not out in the countryside away from any activity.

    Of course they did not invite any actual climate scientist on to refute this. I assume that you know how and where to measure temperatures, right?

    Could you contact NPR NewsHour With Jim Lehrer with the facts?

  186. Steve Reynolds:

    Jim Galasyn> Could you post a quick summary of what the bulk of peer reviewed economists are saying?

    Here is a review paper (looks at 28 published studies):

    Energy Policy 33 (2005) 2064â??2074
    The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions:an
    assessment of the uncertainties
    Richard S.J. Tol

    Abstract:
    One hundred and three estimates of the marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions were gathered from 28 published studies and combined to form a probability density function. The uncertainty is strongly right-skewed.

    If all studies are combined, the mode is $2/tC, the median $14/tC, the mean $93/tC, and the 95 percentile $350/tC. Studies with a lower discount rate have higher estimates and much greater uncertainties. Similarly, studies that use equity weighing, have higher estimates and larger uncertainties. Interestingly, studies that are peer-reviewed have lower estimates and smaller uncertainties. Using standard assumptions about discounting and aggregation, the marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions are unlikely to exceed $50/tC, and probably much smaller.

  187. Steve Reynolds:

    ray ladbury> So, would you advocate significantly increased conservation and diversification of energy sources away from fossil fuels? And would you favor a cap and trade or a carbon tax strategy to reflect the true costs of burning fossil fuels?

    I favor just a carbon tax (with other taxes reduced for revenue neutrality) that is equal to estimated marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions.

    That encourages conservation and shifting to non-fossil fuels automatically (no need for bureaucrats to pick winning and losing technology).

    Cap and trade seems to me designed to encourage corruption.

  188. Chuck Booth:

    Re 175 I don’t know if the article below (excerpt only) represents the views of the “bulk” of peer-reviewed economists, but it suggests that not all economists are doom and gloom – I am curious how AGW skeptics decide which economists to listen to, and why (Do you scrutinize their arguments the way you do the climatologists’ claims about AGW?):

    Economist Sizes Up A Global Risk
    April 6, 2007
    By JOEL LANG, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

    Gary Yohe, a professor at Wesleyan University, has been in Brussels this week, helping to draft the final wording of the latest global warming report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Due today, the report will confirm with greater certainty than ever before that some of the most dire consequences of global warming – mass extinctions, wildfires, deadly heat waves and water shortages – are already occurring and will accelerate.
    Yohe is not a biologist or climatologist, or someone easily labeled an alarmist. He is an economist, who began working on climate change long before it was recognized as a danger. His expertise in calculating risk puts him at the center of the serious, evolving discussion over global warming. Now that science has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to heat up, the question is what can or should be done to stop it.

    The Supreme Court ruling this week that the gases can be classed as pollutants is expected to spur Congress to adapt national emission limits. Connecticut belongs to a New England compact that already has approved drastic cuts in emissions, as have some Western states, led by California.

    But who can guarantee the reductions will be enough to blunt the most harmful effects of global warming? And who knows whether the cost of global warming damage, assuming it can be assigned a cost, will outweigh the cost of reducing emissions? Both have been estimated in trillions of dollars.

    Yohe recognizes that science alone cannot provide the answers. Testifying before the Senate’s Energy Committee last March, Yohe said climate “contrarians” should be told:

    “You’re right! We don’t know exactly how much warming the planet will experience over the next century. We are not sure precisely how local climates will change. … We cannot guarantee that our fears about potentially dangerous climate change are justified, but you cannot be sure that they are not!”

    Among his many activities, Yohe co-edited a 2006 book, “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change,” that contains a paper on the likelihood of one of global warming’s “doomsday” events – the collapse of the heat-carrying Atlantic waters that contain the Gulf Stream.

    Yohe himself worked on the modeling exercise with four scientists. Their results showed a 50 percent chance of collapse by 2100 if the temperature rises another 2 degrees Celsius.

    “The take-home message is this is not an experiment we want to try with the only planet we have,” Yohe said. “There is a quantifiable risk it will happen, so we should take steps to assure it won’t happen.”

    Yohe has advised thinking of global warming as an insurance risk: One pays to prepare for disaster, despite uncertainty the disaster will occur. The form of insurance he favors is a tax on carbon that begins small, but rises steadily to push long-term investment decisions toward cleaner power plants and greener buildings.

    “You have to stop adding emissions at some point. There are expensive ways to do it and cheap ways to do it,” Yohe said in one of a series of interviews.

    “You start modestly, so you don’t crash the economy. … You need a $10- or $15-a-ton tax on carbon. The critical thing is that it increases like an interest rate, forever.” He said a $10-a-ton carbon tax would add about a nickel to the price of a gallon of gas.

    Yohe is one of five Americans among 60-odd experts in Brussels working on the report due today. It is a brief summary of a 1,500 page report on which Yohe served as a lead author.

    “In our world he’s a celebrity – as close as we come to one,” said a graduate student who attended a lecture Yohe gave at the University of Connecticut the week before he left for Brussels. Yohe’s main topic was the British government’s so-called Stern Review published last fall that predicted economic catastrophe if greenhouse gases are not checked.

    The science behind the Stern Review is sound, he said, but its cost calculations are so far off-base they provide a “slow-moving target” to climate change skeptics.

    “Nobody’s clairvoyant,” Yohe said, referring again to risk policy. “The Senate can’t subpoena Mother Nature to ask her what the climate sensitivity is going to be.”…

  189. Nicolas L.:

    re 175

    Jim,

    I don’t think there is a consensus amongst economists about the costs of climate change and mitigation, at least not like there is one amongst the climate science community on the GW. First because the real impacts of it are still to be well established by science (which is only partly done for now), secondly because its very hard in economy to convert a “natural” effect or catastrophy into a cost, thirdly because economy not only depends on data and numbers, but also on human behaviour, which is sometimes hard to handle :).
    Anyway, most economists I’ve read that studied the question aknowledge that Climate Change is gonna cost a lot to worldwide economy (in a range going from 5 to 20 % of the annual worldwide GDP by 2050), and that serious mitigation will cost about 1 to 2 or 3% of this same annual worldwide GDP (starting as soon as possible). I wouldn’t call it a consensus, but these are the most common point of views amongst the few economists that studied the question.
    The reference in this matter is the Stern report, published in 2006. It’s a few hundred pages long, but you can find a summary here:
    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm
    The IPCC 3d group report also refers to mitigation costs:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM040507.pdf

  190. Steve Reynolds:

    Nicolas L.> The reference in this matter is the Stern report, published in 2006.

    As was quoted of Yohe in 182> “The science behind the Stern Review is sound, he said, but its cost calculations are so far off-base they provide a “slow-moving target” to climate change skeptics.”

    There is a good discussion of the (non-peer-reviewed) Stern report here:
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000974the_stern_review_on_.html

  191. Steve Reynolds:

    John Mashey 178> can you point us at a representative sample of good economic models/analyses, i.e., more than what I read in The Economist every week, but less than 700-page reports?

    I found a link to a free download of the Tol paper I mentioned earlier:
    http://ideas.repec.org/p/sgc/wpaper/19.html

    JM> a) That the confidence level of long-term predictive economics is of the same order as that of current climate science?

    My guess is that medium-term economic predictions are similar to weather/climate predictions. Predictions for economic growth for a single year ten years in the future will not be accurate, but the ten year average may be close.

    Long term economic predictions (>50 years) may be more difficult, because they depend on largely unknown factors, such as technological progress and socio-political trends.

    JM> c) That there is anything like the consensus amongst real economists as there is amongst real climate scientists? For instance: to pick the most trivial metric, to what extent do they agree on the discount rate?

    Again my guess, is they agree as well on discount rate as climate scientists do on climate sensitivity (that is mixed: the majority have some agreement, some disagree completely).

  192. ray ladbury:

    Steve, The conclusion I would draw from that study is that economists have no clue what the marginal cost of a ton of carbon is–and that is to be expected given the uncertainties re: the consequences and response to climate change. Under such circumstances, it would seem to me that a carbon tax might be rather slow to reflect increases in our prognostication ability. Moreover, a carbon tax is every bit as susceptible to manipulation as is a cap and trade system. The advantage to a cap and trade system is that it provides businesses with a hedge against uncertainty in terms of options and derivatives as well as rewarding innovation. An example is Southwest Airlines (my favorite), which installed those little upturns on their wings and as a result has a significant fuel savings.
    Another issue you can perhaps help me with: Given that the real concern most skeptics have is about the economics of addressing climate change (and they are right to be concerned), why is it that they attack the science, which most of them do not understand and which makes Lee’s fortifications at Cold Harbor look soft by comparison. The difference seems to be that Grant learned a harsh lesson from his teacher, Lee, while the denialists seem determined to keep making the same mistakes.

  193. Rod B:

    re 178 (John): I wasn’t asked, but a response to your questions from the peanut gallery none-the-less. I believe that: A) the confidence level of climate science is much higher than economics. B) I economists” views will on average be slightly more coupled with the politics than will climatologists’ views. C) Views of economists vary over a much wider terrain and over larger subsets of economics than that of climatologists — who mainly differ in a black-white is/is not sort of way. Reminds me of the other old saw that “only two people understand international economics, the ex chequer of England and a janitor at the national bank of France — and they don’t agree!”
    Your other muses are great, but I’ll leave them be for others. I’ve horned in enough.

  194. Jim Galasyn:

    Thank you, Steve and everybody, for the econ cites. I’ll dive into these in the next few days.

  195. Rod B:

    re 181: [I favor just a carbon tax (with other taxes reduced for revenue neutrality) that is equal to estimated marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions.]

    I don’t see how this can be neutral. The emitters continue to emit or they don’t pay the tax. Then the carbon tax has to pay for the marginal cost of the emissions — a “new” cost. So where does the other tax reductions come from other than cutting whatever they paid for?

  196. Rod B:

    re 182: I’m not sure if I’m impressed or comfortable with an economist and proponent of AGW science in the drivers seat of the IPCC summary report…., even if he is not quite a zealot. I’ll have to mull that over a bit.

  197. James:

    Re #189: [So where does the other tax reductions come from other than cutting whatever they paid for?]

    Well, for a simple example, most US states have a sales tax of about 5-6%. Figure out how much revenue that brings in in an average year, and set the carbon tax rate to bring in the same amount at current use rates. Now that carbon tax is going to encourage some people to use less carbon-based energy, so next year the tax rate escalates to compensate for the decreased usage. This continues until the rate is high enough to discourage essentially all CO2 production.

    The point is that the tax rate starts out fairly low, but escalates as time goes on. This lessens any economic shock, and gives people time to adapt.

  198. Alexi Tekhasski:

    In #170, Timothy Chase is concerned about “the rising level of acidity” in oceans. I would suggest not to use alarming and incorrect terminology. Oceans are substantially alcaline, so no acidity is rising, technically speaking. More, the alkalinity seems to be even _rising_ in the last 20 years, see:

    http://www.bbsr.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html#fig1

    Cheers,
    – Alexi

    [Response: Funny! (and an object lesson in not just googling on terms you are not familiar with to make a debating point). The graph highlighted clearly shows pH decreasing (ie. the water becoming more acidic). It also shows “Total Alkalinity” increasing. Contradictory? No. Read all about it: Total Alkalinity. Quote: “Alkalinity is sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably with basicity”. Indeed. – gavin]

  199. Chuck Booth:

    Re 190 Concern about economist Yohe writing IPCC Report

    Rod,
    If your skepticism about AGW is rooted in your concern about the impact on the economy if AGW is real (and you have suggested as much in several of your RC posts), I can imagine this might be rather disconcerting.

    However, I don’t think you need to worry too much. It is my impression that Yohe was not really “in the driver’s seat” of the report – rather, he was one of many economists who authored a portion of the report. That economists have contributed to the IPCC reports shouldn’t surprise you – you have read those reports, haven’t you?

  200. David B. Benson:

    I encourage the use of the term net fossil carbon tax. The use of bio-mass for fuels is presumably carbon neutral and putting carbon into the ground, for example, via biochar, is carbon negative.

  201. Steve Reynolds:

    ray ladbury 186> The conclusion I would draw from that study is that economists have no clue what the marginal cost of a ton of carbon is–and that is to be expected …

    If the IPCC did not exist to enforce a consensus, would it appear that climate scientists had a clue about climate sensitivity?

    RL> a carbon tax is every bit as susceptible to manipulation as is a cap and trade system.

    I believe economists disagree. It is much harder for politicians to manipulate a tax, since the expectation is that everyone emitting carbon will pay it.

    See this link for carbon trading problems:
    http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2104395,00.html

    RL> The advantage to a cap and trade system is that it provides businesses with a hedge against uncertainty in terms of options and derivatives as well as rewarding innovation. An example is Southwest Airlines (my favorite), which installed those little upturns on their wings and as a result has a significant fuel savings.

    A tax should at least provide the same incentives, and with less uncertainty (look at the European example of volatile trading prices).

    RL> Another issue you can perhaps help me with: Given that the real concern most skeptics have is about the economics of addressing climate change (and they are right to be concerned), why is it that they attack the science…

    Not being a skeptic of AGW, I can not answer as one, but for myself, better transparency would help reduce doubts. See James Annan’s experience:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2007/05/no-comments.html

  202. Timothy Chase:

    David B. Benson (#193) wrote:

    I encourage the use of the term net fossil carbon tax. The use of bio-mass for fuels is presumably carbon neutral and putting carbon into the ground, for example, via biochar, is carbon negative.

    Interesting point about bio-mass fuels being carbon neutral.

    At the same time, it reminds me of the greenhouse effect itself where the energy is conserved since that which enters the system ultimately leaves the system – but the amount which is in the system at any given time increases. With the higher turnover rate, it would seem that while in a sense bio-mass fuels are carbon neutral, the turnover would be greater, resulting in a net increase in the amount of carbon which is in the atmosphere at any given time.

    But I may be wrong.

    In any case, as you yourself have pointed out, the liquid fuels from the production of agrichar/biochar are carbon neutral, the production of agrichar itself results in no carbon emissions, the sequestration when agrichar is put into the soil is on the order of centuries. Given the lower rate of turnover, we would be reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere at any given time.

    And as you have pointed out, the boost to agriculture which results from soil enrichment is quite substantial. It would potentially eliminate our dependence on phosphate fertilizers, reducing phosphate runoff and consequently the algae blooms which result in anoxic dead zones off the the coasts.

    This last consequence is something which Jim Galasyn and myself would be particularly interested in.

    There are a good many reasons for advocating the use of agrichar.

  203. David B. Benson:

    Re #196: Timothy Chase — I don’t follow the turnover argument. As long as one grows bio-mass for fuels as fast as the resulting biofuels are burned, it seems to me to be carbon neutral.

    By all means advocate the use of agrichar!

    One of the articles made the claim (if I recall corrrectly) that, assuming no agricultural value, agrichar for fossil carbon offset puposes requires a tax on carbon of US $37 per ton. I’ll push for that figure, starting right away…

  204. John Mashey:

    The Tol paper (2003 version, which has slightly different numbers) was interesting.

    There is a wide variation in the assumptions and cases being considered, and I’m still not sure yet how much of this is like company budget processes: there’s top-down, and bottom-up, and sometimes they are wildly different. Tol writes:

    “Overall, the current generation of aggregate estimates may understate the true cost of climate change because they tend to ignore extreme weather events; underestimate the compounding effect of multiple stresses; and ignore the costs of transition and learning. However, studies may also have overlooked positive impacts of climate change and not adequately accounted for how development could reduce impacts of climate change.”

    a) Heavily-skewed distributions are always tricky, and it is really difficult to deal with rare events.

    It is worth reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s books, or keep Sam Savage’s short “The Flaw of Averages” in mind:
    http://www.stanford.edu/~savage/flaw/
    Sam teaches a great 1-day course on this at Stanford.

    (This is *not* a disguised plea for the Precautionary Principle, just a note that if rare events are mostly negative and big, you have to think hard about their handling. This is all somewhat akin to the difference in computer performance between average response time and worst-case response time, and the different treatments therein between your desktop PC (where worst-case doesn’t really matter too much) and in real-time control systems for fighter planes (where it does).)

    b) Tol analyzes the data in various different ways, which is good. In some cases, if a study cites a standard deviation, he assumes a normal distribution, which is probably as good an assumption as he can make, although if the underlying studies were also right-skewed, a lognormal might fit better.

    c) I’ll have to go look some more, but I’m struck by several things in Table 1, which shows 4 studies estimating regional impacts of climate change (+ being benefits, – being costs), for (mostly) 2.5C rise, but on current economy:

    2.5C: Pearce et al expect a -1.5% to -2% hit overall, with a -1.5% hit in N. America, and a -1.0 to -1.5 hit in USA. I think that means that they think it hurts Mexico more (likely), since it must hurt Canada less or more likely help it.

    2.5C: Nordhaus/Boyer are fairly similar, with -1.5% overall.

    2.5C: Mendelsohn et al (but for future economy):
    +11.1% for Russia (yes, good for Russia)
    +0.3% for USA ?
    -2.0% for India
    +1.8% for China ?
    +0.1% overall

    1.0C: Toll
    +3.4% for N. America ?
    +1.1% Middle East ??
    +2.3% overall

    Some of these seem counterintuitive, which is why it’s nice to get bottom-up analyses, often easier to evaluate than “costs for the world.”

    It’s not obvious why a 1C rise adds 1.1% to the MiddleEast economy.

    It is very counterintuitive to think that a 1.0C rise is an overall 3.4% benefit to the US economy, but that may be bias from living in California, which has many identifiable costs, and few offsetting benefits.

    For example, some of these are detailed in:
    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/research/index.html, with some specific bottom-ups:
    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/research/economic.html
    although these are primarily about water, and don’t include the coastal/Bay Area sea level issues, insects, and ski resorts, and heat-vs-air-conditioning balance. At least on the West Coast, development is is disallowed on much of the seashore, and in parts of the SF Bay Area, wetlands are a buffer for that first 1-2′ of rise, but there will have to be some serious dike-building.

    In the USA, the balance clearly varies wildly on a state-by-state basis, from pretty negative (FL, LA, TX, NM, AZ, CA) to positive (Upper MidWest), so it will be useful to look at these studies in more detail to see where the numbers come from, and especially to understand the treatment of expensive, somewhat-unpredictable events like hurricanes, floods, and fires.

    d) In Figure 2, the composite P.D.F. of marginal costs of carbon dioxide shows a reasonable fraction from -$25 to $0 / tonne of carbon. Thus, in some studies, it almost seems like we should be subsidizing CO2, rather than taxing it. Is that what that chart means?

    Wikipedia has useful thing to say on discount rate and climate change:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discount_rate
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_global_warming

  205. John Mashey:

    The Tol paper (2003 version, which has slightly different numbers) was interesting.

    There is a wide variation in the assumptions and cases being considered, and I’m still not sure yet how much of this is like company budget processes: there’s top-down, and bottom-up, and sometimes they are wildly different. Tol writes:

    “Overall, the current generation of aggregate estimates may understate the true cost of climate change because they tend to ignore extreme weather events; underestimate the compounding effect of multiple stresses; and ignore the costs of transition and learning. However, studies may also have overlooked positive impacts of climate change and not adequately accounted for how development could reduce impacts of climate change.”

    a) Heavily-skewed distributions are always tricky, and it is really difficult to deal with rare events.

    It is worth reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s books, or keep Sam Savage’s short “The Flaw of Averages” in mind:
    http://www.stanford.edu/~savage/flaw/
    Sam teaches a great 1-day course on this at Stanford.

    (This is *not* a disguised plea for the Precautionary Principle, just a note that if rare events are mostly negative and big, you have to think hard about their handling. This is all somewhat akin to the difference in computer performance between average response time and worst-case response time, and the different treatments therein between your desktop PC (where worst-case doesn’t really matter too much) and in real-time control systems for fighter planes (where it does).)

    b) Tol analyzes the data in various different ways, which is good. In some cases, if a study cites a standard deviation, he assumes a normal distribution, which is probably as good an assumption as he can make, although if the underlying studies were also right-skewed, a lognormal might fit better.

    c) I’ll have to go look some more, but I’m struck by several things in Table 1, which shows 4 studies estimating regional impacts of climate change (+ being benefits, – being costs), for (mostly) 2.5C rise, but on current economy:

    2.5C: Pearce et al expect a -1.5% to -2% hit overall, with a -1.5% hit in N. America, and a -1.0 to -1.5 hit in USA. I think that means that they think it hurts Mexico more (likely), since it must hurt Canada less or more likely help it.

    2.5C: Nordhaus/Boyer are fairly similar, with -1.5% overall.

    2.5C: Mendelsohn et al (but for future economy):
    +11.1% for Russia (yes, good for Russia)
    +0.3% for USA ?
    -2.0% for India
    +1.8% for China ?
    +0.1% overall

    1.0C: Toll
    +3.4% for N. America ?
    +1.1% Middle East ??
    +2.3% overall

    Some of these seem counterintuitive, which is why it’s nice to get bottom-up analyses, often easier to evaluate than “costs for the world.”

    It’s not obvious why a 1C rise adds 1.1% to the MiddleEast economy.

    It is very counterintuitive to think that a 1.0C rise is an overall 3.4% benefit to the US economy, but that may be bias from living in California, which has many identifiable costs, and few offsetting benefits.

    For example, some of these are detailed in:
    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/research/index.html, with some specific bottom-ups:
    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/research/economic.html
    although these are primarily about water, and don’t include the coastal/Bay Area sea level issues, insects, and ski resorts, and heat-vs-air-conditioning balance. At least on the West Coast, development is is disallowed on much of the seashore, and in parts of the SF Bay Area, wetlands are a buffer for that first 1-2′ of rise, but there will have to be some serious dike-building.

    In the USA, the balance clearly varies wildly on a state-by-state basis, from pretty negative (FL, LA, TX, NM, AZ, CA) to positive (Upper MidWest), so it will be useful to look at these studies in more detail to see where the numbers come from, and especially to understand the treatment of expensive, somewhat-unpredictable events like hurricanes, floods, and fires.

    d) In Figure 2, the composite P.D.F. of marginal costs of carbon dioxide shows a reasonable fraction from -$25 to $0 / tonne of carbon. Thus, in some studies, it almost seems like we should be subsidizing CO2, rather than taxing it. Is that what that chart means?

    Wikipedia has useful thing to say on discount rate and climate change:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discount_rate
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_global_warming

  206. ray ladbury:

    Steve, I in no way was attempting to tar you with the same brush the denialists willingly slop on. However, it would seem that you are in some contact with said elements.
    First, it is a misnomer to state that the IPCC “enforces” consensus. Indeed, wrt some issues (e.g. climate change increasing tropical storm intensity) I think they have slightly outrun consensus, while on others (e.g. melting of ice, consequences of climate change) they lag behind. On the whole, they REFLECT consensus pretty well, though.

    WRT a carbon tax vs. carbon trading, the problem I see with a tax is that it would have to be coordinated globally, or it would become a race to the bottom. There is certainly more prospect for corruption and subversion of such a taxation regime. I have more faith in markets than I do in governments, but then somebody must guard the guards.

    My question stems from my recent experience in the belly of the beast–to wit, the comments on the Blog related to the New Scientist

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=37849569&postID=6984028916615849498

    Oh my God! The nutjobs are out in force. By far, the funniest reference cited is

    http://www.gsaaj.org/articles/TempPaperv1n22007.pdf

    This is a post byOther than that, it’s the usual suspects.

    John Mashey, if you want to add to your psychological profiles, I suggest a visit. In fact, there has been only one other poster who knows any science posting there all week. There is a risk that the entire blog may collapse under the weight of the ignorance of the posters.

  207. Rod B:

    re 191 (tax): So you reward the guy who cut his emissions in half by doubling his tax?? Doesn’t seem like much of an incentive, other than if he doesn’t cut emissions the tax will be even higher. The neutrality is still not obvious, at least in the initial phase (before you raise the tax). The carbon tax collected still theoretically has to pay for the marginal costs of carbon emissions. The beneficiaries of the sales tax, which is now ended, receive their benefits from where? Not the new carbon tax — it’s being used elsewhere.

  208. ray ladbury:

    John Mashey, As you point out, the results one gets in a meta-analysis such as Tol’s depend crucially on the sorts of distributions assumed. Indeed, if the distribution of negative outcomes is thick-tailed, it is indeed very difficult to deal with. This is precisely the problem that SuperCat insurance companies face, as well as derivatives traders, etc., and why you can make pretty good money if you understand extreme value statistics.
    While the Lognormal is positively skewed, it is by no means the worst-case possible distribution. (My favorite nerdy statistics joke: Q: What’s the Cauchy distribution’s least favorite question? A: Got a moment?). It is, however a reasonable, positively skewed distribution to use. For a negatively skewed distribution, the only reasonable commonly occurring one I know of is the Weibull (shape parameter has to be >3.3 as I recall before it becomes negatively skewed), and the Normal, of course for zero skew.

  209. Rod B:

    re 193 (Chuck): [If your skepticism about AGW is rooted in your concern about the impact on the economy if AGW is real...]

    To clarify, my skepticism is rooted in the science. The zeal of my skepticism comes from the potential economic impact.

  210. Timothy Chase:

    Steve Reynolds (#195) wrote:

    If the IPCC did not exist to enforce a consensus, would it appear that climate scientists had a clue about climate sensitivity?

    The following article would seem to suggest that the climate sensitivity of CO2 has been fairly stable – and roughly 2.9 degrees Celsius for more than 400 million years, although they don’t give the exact figure but only a broad range.

    Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years (abstract only – but the article is pretty well-known)
    Dana L. Royer, Robert A. Berner & Jeffrey Park
    Nature 446, 530-532 (29 March 2007)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7135/abs/nature05699.html

    This is the figure that Jim Hansen has been using in his most recent projections. It looks like this might become the generally-accepted figure, with or without the IPCC.

    RL> a carbon tax is every bit as susceptible to manipulation as is a cap and trade system.

    I believe economists disagree. It is much harder for politicians to manipulate a tax, since the expectation is that everyone emitting carbon will pay it.

    See this link for carbon trading problems:
    http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2104395,00.html

    I myself have been rather skeptical of carbon trading – and that is without any awareness of how volatile the market is, although undoubtedly much of this is due to the uncertainty regarding government actions, for example, whether there will even be such a market five years from now. But I wouldn’t be getting paid for the forest I wasn’t going to cut down in the first place, and I wouldn’t be able to sell my credits to someone else for my not performing this action.

    The transition to this sort of approach would seem a bit easier to handle if the government were initially simply taxing everyone the same amount that they would be paying otherwise. There would also seem to be less room for some form of favoritism where one business or industry were granted credits as the result of political influence. Of course I assume that the this would have to change over time, at least if it were to reflect the actual carbon emissions from each activity.

    Details to be worked out, but it looks like it may be a promising approach.

  211. Timothy Chase:

    ray ladbury (#200) wrote:

    WRT a carbon tax vs. carbon trading, the problem I see with a tax is that it would have to be coordinated globally, or it would become a race to the bottom. There is certainly more prospect for corruption and subversion of such a taxation regime. I have more faith in markets than I do in governments, but then somebody must guard the guards.

    Well, a government isn’t likely to give up its source of income – if this is what you mean by race to the bottom. But at the same time, the need for global coordination would be one more level of complexity. If taxes are only gradually raised and at first everyone is getting taxed the same as they were under the old regime, then the taxes aren’t actually reflecting the carbon emissions associated with a given activity. So the taxes will have to be adjusted based upon the activity – but then this is experienced by the market as a “distortion.”

    Then once you start attempting to equalize the amount of taxation per unit of emission across all countries, this will be experienced as a further “distortion” reflecting true costs which until then had been externalized. But to some extent this could temporarily at least be handled through tariffs on imported goods – at least in the developed countries.

  212. John Mashey:

    re: #200 & 202 Ray Ladbury
    I looked at the NS blog recently, and gave up fairly quickly. I don’t think it revealed any *new* psychology profiles.

    Re: Cauchy joke: horrible, wince!

    Since not everyone uses Cauchy:
    [if xi and yi independent, from normal distribution, ri = xi/yi is Cauchy, which has no mean or variance, since bad things happen when yi is near zero. Sample means don’t follow a normal distribution, etc, etc.

    I’ve given talks that mentioned Cauchy (“among the most awkward known distributions”). But fortunately, in the variant I needed, xi & yi were constrained to be positive, so ri was also positive, and quite often has good reasons to be to be lognormal, which is why Geometric Means and Geometric Standard Deviations work better than the more familiar ones. I haven’t had occasion to use Weibull, not having done failure analysis.

    Note, all this may seem like a diversion, except that the following lessons apply widely:

    a) Knowing the shape of a distribution is worth a *lot* more than knowing a mean, or even mean plus standard deviation. Certainly knowing skew helps. Of course, all this assumes that one is comfortable with probability distributions. Many people are not, and want a single number, no matter how much you tell them “your mileage may vary.”

    b) If one can find that the distribution is fit by some form of Gaussian distribution, life is good, because one instantly gets all the power of the usual math around it.
    This might be:
    - standard normal: x is normally distributed.
    - lognormal: ln(x) is normal
    - inverse normal: 1/x is normal
    - etc
    Assuming you can figure out a good reason why the transformation makes sense.

    c) But of course, *assuming* a normal is a bad idea

    d) Given a bunch of numbers, you can compute statistics to your heart’s content, but they may or may not mean much, and it takes a lot of digging to figure them out.

    I suspect it will take a while to sort out the economics.

  213. ray ladbury:

    John,
    My take on assuming a particular distribution based on a sample is that what you are doing is trading statistical error for the possibility of systematic error, and it is always risky inferring beyond the bounds of the available data.
    I wonder if we might be able to look at the effects of historical precedents and get some assistance. For instance, the oil embargo on the US economy resulted in an economic and social shock, but ultimately gave rise to a more efficient economy less vulnerable to price fluctuations not just in energy but also in other raw materials. Likewise, the start of hostilities between Japan and the US cut Japan off from much of its oil sources. Might be some interesting parallels in how the Japanese dealt with these shocks. This might give us some idea of the effects–short and long term–of dealing with climate mitigation.

    I have a harder time figuring out how to anticipate the negative shocks if we don’t deal with climate change. I mean we could look at the introduction of invasive weeds/pests/diseases and how this has affected agriculture and couple this with GCM projections to extrapolate effects on agriculture, but there are a helluva lot of uncertainties here.

  214. Timothy Chase:

    Steve Reynolds and Ray Ladbury,

    A good place to begin to get a sense of what economists are thinking as far as considering the relative merits of carbon emission cap-and-trade vs.tax might be -

    Carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade: dealing with uncertainty (a potential Rosanne Rosannadanna post)
    June 04, 2007
    http://www.env-econ.net/2007/06/carbon_tax_vs_c_1.html

    Environmental Economics
    Economists on Environmental and Natural Resources: News, Opinion, and Analysis
    http://www.env-econ.net

    … at least as far as getting one’s toes wet.

    The author of that post recommended a paper “Prices vs. Quantities Revisited: The Case of Climate Change” from back in 1997 by William A Pizer of “Resources for the Future,” a non-profit which appears legit. (No doubt we can look up something more recent, but its a start.) The paper itself certainly won’t get into all the relevant issues, but it might give some indication of the terms in which economists are at least thinking. It focuses on tax vs cap-and-trade and considers various hybrid approaches with an eye to the uncertainties, both in costs and benefits, e.g., caps will result in uncertain per unit costs, but eliminates uncertaintly with regard to the level of compliance. As a discussion paper, it has not been peer-reviewed and is explicitly identified as such. I of course would prefer something peer-reviewed, and of course to get a sense of the consensus, a review paper or two. But…

    … What is immediately interesting upon first cracking open something which I will no doubt find to be on the Sahara side of dry is that they are employing a “global integrated climate economy model” for simulating the consequences of these uncertainties.

    Yep.

    More modeling.

  215. James:

    Re #201: [ So you reward the guy who cut his emissions in half by doubling his tax?? Doesn't seem like much of an incentive, other than if he doesn't cut emissions the tax will be even higher.]

    You’re only thinking of one individual. If you have many, there is competition. The guy who lowers his CO2 emissions the most winds up paying less, even though the rate is higher. Those who can’t or won’t lower their emissions pay more. That cost gets passed along to the consumer, who either pays more, or chooses some other alternative. Eventually most CO2 emissions get competed out of existence. (At which point, of course, the governments concerned have to look for a new source of tax revenue.)

    [The carbon tax collected still theoretically has to pay for the marginal costs of carbon emissions. The beneficiaries of the sales tax, which is now ended, receive their benefits from where? Not the new carbon tax -- it's being used elsewhere.]

    I don’t follow the logic: the point of the tax is to discourage CO2 emissions, and has nothing to do with actual CO2 emission costs. The money from it would presumably go to wherever the sales tax revenue goes now.

    Besides, how do you determine what the marginal cost of CO2 emissions might be? Since there is a small but finite possibility that continued CO2 emissions will destroy human civilization – that is, everything – that means the marginal cost is infinite, no?

  216. Nigel Williams:

    Are not conventional economic instruments like carbon taxes and international carbon trading markets actually just technical niceties akin to fiddling while Rome burns? Can those approaches actually haul us to Hansen’s required point of sequestering ALL industrial CO2 emissions immediately and husbanding our transport fuels? Not Pygmalion likely! Not in a century not in a decade, and certainly not by Christmas.

    The only curve that’s going to matter will be the classical predator-prey balance between foxes and rabbits, man vs man.

    Already nations are having to grapple with recalcitrant blobs of humanity who are refusing to yield to their fellow’s moderate and prudent responses to climate change. Simple, almost trivial signs of a growing discomfort, isolated pieces of the panic that comes before acceptance that comes before grief before the end of life as we know it today.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/shire-defies-water-ban/2007/06/21/1182019286776.html

    Melbourne; (With 80 days water in reserve) has also been let off having to go to the next stage of water conservation measures, in spite of water storage levels having fallen below the agreed trigger level. By only a little, you understand; only by a little.

    http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=391364

    The Water Minister says “It really does depend on the rain we get over the next month,…” Yea, right mate!

    Not a drop of water lost to the sea from the Murray-Darling basin for 3 years, and the dry worsens for the two million people-like-us who live there.

    How do you turn down the taps in a town that refuses to use less water at the loss of its neighbour? Negotiations have failed? A soldier by every tap? It is starting. Neighbour against neighbour. Ordinary people without means. Penniless. Using anger to hold back fear. First hundreds, then thousands, and by the time its millions, it all on. We’ll be pushing them back in to the sea or the desert with sticks and barbed wire.

    As we’ve discussed, the Amazon is in a parlous state, its people seemingly muted, inarticulate on the global stage.
    http://envt.wordpress.com/2006/07/31/amazon-drought/
    http://www.metafilter.com/53265/amazon-drought-nearing-climate-tipping-point

    and of course there are all the rivers fed by the Himalayan glaciers. A mere billion or so people. And then of course there’s Africa.

    Now, should we be worrying about Poisson or Fourier or should we be putting down our pens and getting on with building micro-closed-loop protein units and associated grain production units to supply us with a Required Daily Allowance of the most basic nutrition, that we may live with at least the confidence of food supply secure from climate extremes. This cannot be achieved commercially, but must instead be done at state level using local labour and as much raw materials as we can get our hands on before these are priced off the market. And of course such a reliable supply can only be defended with an integrated force of some magnitude, not by villagers with sticks.

    Interesting times!

  217. Chuck Booth:

    Re 192 (and Gavin’s response)

    Alex,

    As atmospheric PCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) rises, CO2 diffuses into the oceans, raising the PCO2 there. This CO2 reacts with water to produce hydrogen ions (H+) and bicarbonate ions (HCO3-). Thus, the pH of the oceans falls, while the HCO3- conc. rises – this is easily seen in pH-HCO3- diagram (Davenport Diagram) used in medicine and physiology – refer to Figure 11 in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davenport_diagram.

    This increase in HCO3- conc. due to increased PCO2 is not included in the measurement of alkalinity. In pulmonary medicine, this condition would be characterized as a respiratory acidosis.

  218. Rod B:

    re 209 (James): I understand your point now. I thought you were tying in to the posts on society’s marginal cost estimates for carbon emission (all over the map, it seems, understandably) and covering those with the carbon tax. My misread.

  219. Timothy Chase:

    Chuck Booth (#211) wrote:

    … this Wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davenport_diagram

    This increase in HCO3- conc. due to increased PCO2 is not included in the measurement of alkalinity. In pulmonary medicine, this condition would be characterized as a respiratory acidosis.

    (The above link should work.)

    I really like the comparison you are using between the ocean and the bloodstream. And it is of course a great deal more than just an analogy. The ocean was the original bloodstream of life. Even today the starfish have an open circulatory system with seawater as its blood.

    Even in closed circulatory systems, red blood cells aren’t necessary for carrying oxygen – if the water is cold enough. Icefish have adapted to increasingly cold environments by evolving proteins through tandem repeat slippage (tripple repeat protein coding sequences) that act as antifreeze since their blood stream would otherwise be too thick to flow through their veins – and likewise they have lost points in the instructions on making red blood cells because this would thicken the blood. As a result, they are transparent without so much as a hint of pink to them. And as you point out, much of the chemistry has remained the same with the ocean that we carry within us.

    With respect to the capacity of the ocean to absorb oxygen, raising the temperature of the icefish will diminish the capacity of its bloodstream to carry oxygen until it dies of hypoxia, and in much the same way, much of the life of the ocean will die as the temperatures of the polar regions rises several times faster than the rest of the ocean and diminishes its capacity to absorb oxygen. In essence, the interface between the atmosphere and the ocean in the polar regions are its gills or lungs, and the thermohaline functions as its circulatory system.

  220. Alexi Tekhasski:

    #192, Gavin replied…

    Gavin, I don’t think I need your lessons nor your condescending cordiality. Maybe you need to start your own explanations from which one of the multitudes of different pH seawater scales is used in the alarming “acidification” statements. Then you need to explain how do you people have arrive to the global number of 8.1 while the spread of data across oceans waters is 7.7-8.3, according to your lovely source “wiki”. Then you need to explain how do you correct measurements to a standard temperature of 25C where the pH has the only sense. Then you need to explain how do you deal with the depth of ocean. Then how the surface data from only a dozen of stations are interpolated across millions of square miles of ocean surfaces. Then you talk about global “acidification” of oceans. Thanks.

    Chuck: oceans are a bit more complex than that. As you might know, equatorial areas of ocean continuously outgas (estimated) 330 GigaTonnes of CO2 per year. Then the CO2 gets transported polarwise by atmosphere. Colder areas of ocean continuously sink about the same amount of CO2 (estimated). The “diffused in” carbon gets carried out into deep ocean. Therefore, following your simplified example, increase in CO2 background might lead simply to reduction in equatorial outgassing, but not necessarily to increase in CO2 in surface waters. The CO2 diffused in cold areas goes into deep currents, and will be available for exchange with atmosphere thousands years later. As for the current state of CO2 fluxes, it is not clear what exactly comes out of deep waters and determines today’s outgassing. Therefore, simple averages do not apply, and conclusions might be premature.

    Strictly speaking, this kind of speculation does not have much of grounds, just like yours, Gavin’s, or any others. To get the result to adequate accuracy, one needs to solve a fully-resolved model of climate based on first principles of hydrodynamics and get the whole picture, and trace how the fluxes are settled (if ever). It is not possible. Any parameterized surrogate would remain as groundless speculations.

    Cheers,
    – Alexi

  221. Chris C:

    Alexi:

    The measurement of ocean acidity is described in a report written by the Royal Society. It can be downloaded here:

    http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/document.asp?id=3249

    It details several of the factors you mentioned, and includes both measurements and numerical model experiments.

  222. Chuck Booth:

    Re 214 Alexi,
    I’m not a marine chemist or chemical oceanographer, so I’ll defer to the experts with regard to ocean acidification, e.g.: http://www.ucar.edu/communications/Final_acidification.pdf
    http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13314
    I trust you have read these?

    You stated (#192)that
    “Oceans are substantially alcaline”[sic]
    True

    “so no acidity is rising, technically speaking. More the alkalinity seems to be even _rising_ in the last 20 years”

    In support of your latter claims you cited a BBSR (now called the Bermuda Institute for Ocean science, BIOS, by the way) Marine Geochemistry Lab web article showing a 20-year times series from two of their open ocean monitoring sites. Immediately above Figure 1, the article states:

    “Within the 95% confidence levels, this rate of oceanic CO2 increase was similar to the expected oceanic equilibration (i.e., +0.9 µmoles kg-1 yr-1) with anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere. Over the 1983-2003 period, seawater pCO2 increased at a rate of +1.25 + 0.3 µatm year-1, respectively (Table 2; Figure 1). Concurrently, seawater pH decreased by 0.0012 + 0.0004 pH units year-1, representing a significant decline of 0.025 pH units (~8.125 to ~8.100) over the last 20 years. In addition, observed alkalinity increased slightly at a rate of +0.17 + 0.08 µmoles kg-1 yr-1 (Table 2; Figure 1), though this increase was statistically insignificant.”
    http://www.bbsr.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html#fig1

    So, according to these data, surface pH is declining (= acidity is rising), PCO2 is rising (as expected if atmospheric PCO2 is increasing and CO2 is entering the surface waters of the ocean), and the rise in dissolved inorganic carbon (= mostly bicarbonate) reflects a simple equilibrium with atmospheric PCO2. And, there is no significant change alkalinity.

    This is in full agreement with my comments in # 211: The equilibrium relationship between pH, PCO2, and HCO3- in a given volume of water, be it seawater, blood, or fresh water is described by fundamental principles of aquatic acid-base chemistry (as illustrated graphically in a Davenport Diagram) – this has nothing to do with outgassing, sinking, horizontal transport, etc (these will influence the concentration of dissolved CO2, but not the equilibrium chemistry of the CO2-HCO3- buffer system, which occurs within minutes).
    If there really is a significant rise in the surface ocean alkalinity that would be interesting – and off the top of my head, I don’t know how that would be explained. But, the data to which you referred do not show that trend.

  223. Chuck Booth:

    Re 213 Timothy,
    Thanks for posting a working link to the Davenport Diagram article. A couple of minor corrections to your comments – you wrote:
    “starfish have an open circulatory system with seawater as its blood.”

    Well, not really – you are confusing the water vascular system (which uses seawater to extend the tube feet) and the hemal system (which circulates nutrients and oxygen, sometimes using cells with hemoglobin, but is not connected to the water vascular, at not least in most species of starfish – this fluid is almost certainly not seawater)

    You also wrote:
    “much of the life of the ocean will die as the temperatures of the polar regions rises several times faster than the rest of the ocean and diminishes its capacity to absorb oxygen.”

    Mismatches between oxygen demand and supply can be important, but the effects of rising temperature on marine organisms (in polar waters and elsewhere) may be more complex than that (e.g., disrupted metabolic pathways due to temperature effects on the structure of proteins and the viscosity of membrane lipids)

  224. Timothy Chase:

    Chuck Booth (#217) wrote:

    Well, not really – you are confusing the water vascular system (which uses seawater to extend the tube feet) and the hemal system (which circulates nutrients and oxygen, sometimes using cells with hemoglobin, but is not connected to the water vascular, at not least in most species of starfish – this fluid is almost certainly not seawater)

    You are right.

    As a matter of fact, even the so-called open circulatory system isn’t directly connected to the environment, but uses few blood vessels or just one, with a body cavity which acts as a reservoir of sorts. Most invertebrates use this sort of system. At the same time, I remember there being an organism which uses sea water, or so I thought.

    Ah! just looked it up: sponges!

    Re: Circulatory Systems in lower life forms
    Area: General Biology
    Posted By: Lynn Bry, MD/PhD Student, Molecular Microbiology
    Date: Sun Jul 21 01:11:53 1996
    http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/dec96/834003297.Gb.r.html

    In any case, the comparison between blood and seawater is still more than a comparison and actually rooted in deeptime. But here is a bit that I know I remember correctly: chloroplasts are most closely related to some species of blue-green algae, and mitochondria are fairly closely related to rickettsia bacteria which is responsible for typhoid – although in the case of mitochondria, further sequencing may reveal a more closely related organism at some time in the future.

    With respect to the effects of rising temperature disrupting metabolic pathways – wouldn’t many of the organisms simply be able to move poleward?

    Just curious.

  225. Chuck Booth:

    re 218 Timothy Chase wrote:
    “With respect to the effects of rising temperature disrupting metabolic pathways – wouldn’t many of the organisms simply be able to move poleward?”

    Indeed (at least those species not already living in polar waters):

    Climate Change and Distribution Shifts in Marine Fishes
    Allison L. Perry, Paula J. Low, Jim R. Ellis, John D. Reynolds
    Science 24 June 2005: Vol. 308. no. 5730, pp. 1912 – 1915
    http://tinyurl.com/29drda

    Planktonic Foraminifera of the California Current Reflect 20th-Century Warming
    David B. Field, Timothy R. Baumgartner, Christopher D. Charles, Vicente Ferreira-Bartrina, Mark D. Ohman
    Science 6 January 2006:Vol. 311. no. 5757, pp. 63 – 66
    http://tinyurl.com/2etc7a

    Those species already living in polar waters may have no were to go:

    Thriving Arctic Bottom Dwellers Could Get Strangled by Warming
    Kevin Krajick
    Science 16 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5818, p. 1527
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/315/5818/1527

    By the way, this article addresses the point you made about rising temperature and declining oxygen:

    Climate Change Affects Marine Fishes Through the Oxygen Limitation of Thermal Tolerance
    Hans O. Pörtner* and Rainer Knust
    Science 5 January 2007:Vol. 315. no. 5808, pp. 95 – 97
    http://tinyurl.com/2knhmm

  226. Jim Galasyn:

    Re 219, Chuck Booth wrote:

    Those species already living in polar waters may have nowhere to go.

    The same is true for land animals and plants. Biologist Tim Flannery points out that although he’s been a big advocate of nature reserves, we may have created death traps for animals who are now unable to migrate away from rising temperatures.

  227. Jim Galasyn:

    Timothy Chase wrote in 196:

    [agrichar] would potentially eliminate our dependence on phosphate fertilizers, reducing phosphate runoff and consequently the algae blooms which result in anoxic dead zones off the the coasts.

    This last consequence is something which Jim Galasyn and myself would be particularly interested in.

    Yes, agrichar is very good news indeed.

  228. Alexi Tekhasski:

    In #216, Chuck wrote: “The equilibrium relationship between pH, PCO2, and HCO3- in a given volume of water, be it seawater, blood, or fresh water is described by fundamental principles of aquatic acid-base chemistry (as illustrated graphically in a Davenport Diagram) – this has nothing to do with outgassing, sinking, horizontal transport, etc.”

    Unfortunately, it does. Technically speaking, once here is a flux of CO2, there is no chemical equilibrium.

    More, if you inspect Figure 4 of the RS report, you will find out that it is the area of upwelling where pH goes below 7.7. Those are the waters of thousand years ago, and global ocean circulation does mean something. Because of pH=7.7, all seawaters near Panama must be already dead, right?

    Pardon me for one more “misconception”: the opinion expresed in “Final_acidification.pdf”, Figure 1-2, shows distinctive annual oscillations of pH with amplitude of 0.1, which exceeds decadal trends by 10x. If sea organizms are already perfectly fine with that swing in pH for many years, why would they suffer much from a such a relatively tiny shift, if any? Also, due to continuity of waters, some migration could occur (as I see, it was already addressed above). But, instead of worrying about those species living in polar waters, who will worry about 6 billion species of Homo sapiens (soon to be 9B)? I think your (I mean AGW people in general) worries are substantially misplaced.

    Chris (#215): We must be reading different articles, but the RS report you cited has not a single word about questions I posted, just a general basic blurb and political BS.

    Cheers,

    – Alexi

  229. Chuck Booth:

    Re 222 Alexi wrote: “Technically speaking, once here is a flux of CO2, there is no chemical equilibrium.”

    Hmm… so, dissolved CO2 gas doesn’t react with water to form H+ and HCO3-, with an equilibrium described by the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation? And there is no further reaction of H+ with CaCO3? You mean all those aquatic chemistry and chemical oceanography textbooks are wrong? (e.g., http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt167nb66r&doc.view=0&toc.depth=1&query=0&chunk.id=ch06&doc.id=ch06, pages 192-210)

    Alexi then wrote: “instead of worrying about those species living in polar waters, who will worry about 6 billion species of Homo sapiens (soon to be 9B)? I think your (I mean AGW people in general) worries are substantially misplaced.”

    So, marine biologists and oceanographers should shift their research to focus on the implications of global warming on human society, and forget about those worthless fish and crabs and clams and starfish? Or, are you merely conceding that global warming is real, and should be a serious concern of everyone – is that correct? If the latter, I don’t disagree. But, I also think there is a need to have at least a few scientists worrying about the helpless plants and animals in the sea.

  230. tm:

    You know, now that we’ve got a model, whether debatable or not, that can predict global temperatures closer than any one of the many GCMs, we now need to worry about the consequences. We know global warming is happening. How long, truly nobody knows.

    This model can also predict CO2, even though there’s only about 25 years of real global CO2 data. And after, what, 20 to 30 years there’s still debate about what the cause is shows that we’ll never come to any consensus! No truly unbiased scientist knows….

  231. tm:

    Ray at http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/05/climate-myths-special.html
    “Uh, Jim, I’m almost afraid to ask. How do you get warming of earth from the remnants of supernovae–which are (thankfully) mostly millions of light-years away? And as to the Sun, we can measure solar irradiance. It can’t account for the warming.
    And if you are contending that Realclimate.org is biased in terms of actual science, I would have to agree.
    BTW, the term fraud is one scientists take seriously, and to make such an allegation without presenting evidence merely diminishes your credibility. All Mann et al. ’98 did was to use a proxy measure that was unintentionally biased, and the bias turns out not to change the results dramatically, as evidenced by the fact that Mann et al. does not stand out from the other results when you look at them together.
    By Ray on June 28, 2007 6:12 AM “

  232. Nick Gotts:

    Re #222 [the opinion expresed in "Final_acidification.pdf", Figure 1-2, shows distinctive annual oscillations of pH with amplitude of 0.1, which exceeds decadal trends by 10x. If sea organizms are already perfectly fine with that swing in pH for many years, why would they suffer much from a such a relatively tiny shift, if any?]

    Because they are adapted to the seasonal rhythms, but not to the secular change. In just the same way land organisms can deal with very large differences between summer and winter temperatures or soil moisture content, but much smaller changes in annual averages can make their populations unviable – often due to competition, but sometimes to their absolute physiological requirements.

  233. Chuck Booth:

    Re 226 Nick Gott – temperature effects on organisms

    Sorry to go off topic again, but I would like to follow up Nick’s comment with one (of many) examples of how seemingly small changes in temperature can have a dramatic impact on organisms:
    It is well known that sex determination is temperature-dependent for some animals, e.g., reptiles. For the turtle, Graptemys ouachitensis, when the egg incubation temperature cycles between 20 and 30 C, with a median temp. of 25C, the hatchlings are all males. When the temp. cycles between 23 and 33C, again with a median temp. of 25C, all females are produced. This kind of subtle and non-intuitive response needs to be considered when attempting to predict (or dismiss) the effects of AGW on animals (and plants).
    For those who are skeptical of this, I would encourage you to check out the original research* and debate this in another forum.

    *Bull, J.J. and C.R. Vogt (1979) Temperature-dependent sex determination in turtles. Science 206: 1186-1188
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/206/4423/1186

  234. Chuck Booth:

    Re 227 my comment about temp-dependent sex determination in turtles

    I meant to write : This kind of dramatic and non-intuitive response – the difference between producing all males and all females is anything but sublt.

    More to the topic of this thread: The following post appeared on the Weirdest Millenium thread – since that thread is not getting much traffic, I thought it merits reposting here:

    For your information: Ernst Beck has published an article as a response to the uprising criticism here and by Urs Neu (ProClimate) on Readers Edition: Antwort auf “Klima-Kritik: Daten und Grafikmanipulation”.
    Comment by Henry 28 Jun 2007 @ 8:39 am

    Unfortunately, my scientific German is not quite up to the task of translating the article.

  235. Alan Cheswick:

    I just found an interesting article on http://blogs.nature.com/news/blog/2007/02/climate_report.html posted on June 23, 2007 03:17 AM (at very bottom) that refutes anthropogenic causes of climate change.

  236. Chuck Booth:

    Re 229 Ref to Magnetic Intensity and Global Temperatures: A Strong Correlation

    I looked over the “paper” and can’t quite figure out what it is. If Moran and Tindall are claiming to be presenting a novel analysis of new or existing data, why was it published in GSAA? Why didn’t the authors publish it in a peer-reviewed journal? If their analysis has any merit, surely there would be some journal in the fields of earth or atmospheric science that would have accepted it? Or, the could have presented their analysis at a research conference, which would have brought it some attention and scrutiny by experts in the field. And if the data haven’t been peer-reviewed, why would GSAA make an exception to its policy and publish this article?

    Something is fishy here.

  237. tamino:

    Re: #229 (Alan Cheswick)

    If you actually believe the paper you referred to, you’ve been seriously duped.

    All the authors have really shown is that they’ve found a variable which is trending upward since 1958. Because temperature has also trended upward since 1958, these variables will be correlated to each other. I could show similar correlation between any two variables which trend upward during that time interval; I’d venture to guess I could find at least as much correlation between global temperature and worldwide beer consumption.

    In fact, from the standpoint of both physics and statistics, the work you refer to is quite amateurish. It appears to have been published in the journal GLOBAL SECURITY AFFAIRS & ANALYSIS, which seems to be a new journal (since 2007 sees volume 1).

    The editor’s note at the beginning states “GSAA does not generally report on scientific findings.” There’s a reason for that: the journal editors are not qualified to judge scientific works.

  238. Alexi Tekhasski:

    Chuck in #223 wrote: “You mean all those aquatic chemistry and chemical oceanography textbooks are wrong?”

    No, the academic books are correct where they are correct. Your applications of the academically purified principles to reality are wrong; the reality contains certain second-order effects that you tend to neglect without acknowledging. Deviation from the sate of equilibrium is one of them.

    Regarding global climate change: I am of opinion that the climate always has been in change, and will continue to be unstable for the next billion years at least, regardless of any worries. And yes, I agree that further research is needed to explain climate changes, starting from the known past. So far the climatology has failed to explain even basic facts from Earth history, and thus has big troubles distinguishing between natural trends and anthropogenic signal.

  239. Gaye Moran:

    Actually,

    The article was thoroughly and professionally reviewed by a know climatologists, geophysicists, and many, many colleagues. Additionally, the paper was published in that journal to get the info out as fast as possible, since $29B that are about to be spent looking at CO2 when apparently that’s not the biggest problem.

    The relation discussed in this paper has been studied for about 30 years with the last study done in 2002 or 3. That research found the same relation, in fact they all did. They could not explain the process however, now it’s explained. And where ever you look, the theory gets better back up.

    The two authors actually are fairly well known, but they’ll likely be torn down with just smear tactics. The stats are right, the problem is that GCMs can’t even come as close as this model: with a 0.1 to 0.2 degree C discrepancy from observed global temperatures and predicted out 6 to 7 years, scientists would kill for a climate model like that using one variable. You should research the subject.

    Thanks. But please try to pick it apart from the facts stated.

  240. Timothy Chase:

    tamino (#231) wrote:

    In fact, from the standpoint of both physics and statistics, the work you refer to is quite amateurish. It appears to have been published in the journal GLOBAL SECURITY AFFAIRS & ANALYSIS, which seems to be a new journal (since 2007 sees volume 1).

    The editor’s note at the beginning states “GSAA does not generally report on scientific findings.” There’s a reason for that: the journal editors are not qualified to judge scientific works.

    I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss this journal…

    These guys look pretty serious:

    Global Security Affairs & Analysis is a peer-reviewed online journal of the Global Defense Network (GDN) with the purpose of providing a forum to recommend and debate strategies, policies, and organizational planning to strengthen global security – from the physical to the highly strategic.

    Welcome to Global Security Affairs & Analysis (about page)
    http://www.gsaaj.org/jou.php?journal-about

  241. Ted Fulton:

    I agree with Dr. Chase, the authors you refer to should not be dismissed so quickly. I have actually met them at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco. The senior author is a very well known modeler in complex dynamic physical systems while the co author, Dr. Tindall is very well known author having wrote what is called the text book in unsaturated zone flow and works as a scientist for the National Research Program of the USGS, while the senior author also works for the same agency. Thus, I would consider these individuals extremely well qualified scientists and not fruits. Indeed, I would not dismiss this work so quickly as both have a reputation for hard core, unbiased science.

  242. Michael Simons:

    I have just received a disturbing phone call. I understand that one of our colleagues has been having a difficult time debating this issue, which surprises me that real scientists are so eager to stand around politics rather than investigate valid scientific findings. Therefore, I must agree with Dr. Chase, the authors you refer to should not be dismissed. I have met them (Moran and Tindall) personally at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco.

    The senior author is a well known and respected modeler in complex dynamic physical systems while the co author, Dr. Tindall is also a well known author, having wrote what is called �the text book� in unsaturated zone flow and works as a scientist for the National Research Program of the USGS, while the senior author also works for the same agency. Thus, I would consider these individuals extremely well qualified scientists and not �nut jobs� as stated by Ray Ladbury. Indeed, it is most likely their credentials would stand up to those of any.

    Both authors have a solid reputation for hard core, unbiased science on hotly debated issues. I believe the study has much merit and should be researched further, especially if we want to know the cause to more efficiently invest billions of dollars on the best resources to effectively reduce global warming.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Simons, Ph.D.

  243. John Mashey:

    re: #229 Alan
    Thanks for this great reference, although it might fit better under the “Fun with Correlations” thread. It does offer a useful calibration for other posts, and a nice example of what one can learn from the web without knowing much about climate science, i.e., it may have nothing to do with climate science, but it’s a great exercise for rational skepticism in the face of astonishing bogosity. Anyone who wants to know about climate science can skip the rest.

    1) Calibration:
    a) “Refute” usually means “to prove wrong”, although a secondary meaning is: “deny something”: to deny an allegation or contradict a statement without disproving it.
    The second definition applies here.

    b) I see that the referenced item in the Nature Blog was posted by “tm”. I wonder if that’s the same tm posting here? It also seems a little strange to make us go to the Nature blog and scroll down to the item, which is just a pointer to another link. For reasons that will become clear, I won’t reference the complete links here, just note that all start with www dot gsaaj dot org, and any furthere mentions use that as a prefix.

    2) So I followed the link there, and I printed the paper, /articles/TempPaperv1n22007.pdf, whose authors are Edward H Moran and James A Tindall, PhD, but before reading it:

    3) The Website says this is an Online Peer Reviewed Journal, a Journal of The Global Defense Network. This doesn’t sound like a typical location in which cutting-edge climate science would be published. I was not able to find any physical address for Global Defense Network, although there is a videogame of that name. It’s hard to know whether this GDN has any physical existence or not, and whois.net didn’t help in any useful way.

    3) /jou.php?journal-about tells me that this is about global security.
    The Executive Editor is none other than James A. Tindall, i.e., one of the paper’s authors. This is, uhh, slightly unusual in a real peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    4) /jou.php?journal-review gives me the editorial board, although no affiliations are offered, just names. One of the names is “Ted Moran”, who might well be the same “Edward H. Moran” who is the other author.

    5) /jou.php?journal-archive shows me 3 papers, including the one in question.
    a) First is written by Tindall and two others, on psychology, and the two others look like people relevant to that topic.
    b) Second (on Islamic deception) is written by Andrew Campbell, who is also a member of the Editorial Board.
    c) Third is the article in question, written by two members of the Editorial Board.

    6) At this point, all this looks very strange, but there are links to author bios, so maybe I’ll discover that authors are climate experts?

    7) /bios1.php?Edward-Moran tells us that:
    “Edward Moran holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Environmental Science from Alaska Pacific University… his expertise in Geographical Information System procedures and analysis, Global Positioning System applications and technology, and other fields of science are known throughout the U.S…. he retains a working knowledge in Dairy Farm management and animal husbandry with more than 8 years in the business.”

    Alaska Pacific University is a real, albeit small, liberal-arts, school. Edward Moran got his MS ES in 2002, along with 2 others. I also find that he (apparently) works as a hydrologist at the USGS in Anchorage, AK. Google Scholar gave me nothing relevant for EH Moran.

    8) /bios1.php?James-A-Tindall tells me:
    “James Tindall is an internationally recognized expert on the strategy of global security processes for large-scale, complex systems and infrastructures, and the development and application of technology that serves them…. He received his Ph.D. in physics and engineering from the University of Georgia.”

    Googling finds: “Deconvolution of plant type(s) for homeland security enforcement using remote sensing on a UAV collection platform”, (apparently done while doing an MS at naval Postgraduate School) and that Tindall got his PhD in 1990, and (as of April 2006) was a “research scientist for the U.S. DOI – US Geological Survey”.

    I also find that his PhD advisor appears to be David Radcliffe, who teaches *soil physics*, and that he directed a PhD dissertation by J. A. Tindall in 1990 entitled:
    “Effect of soil physical parameters on rooting distribution of vegetables using micro-irrigation.”

    Dr. Tindall is also is an adjunct professor at U Colorado Denver, currently listed with USGS affiliation, teaching “Unsaturated zone hydrology”.

    Google: james tindall usgs
    yields many references, and place him at USGS in Lakewood, CO. At least 3 of the other members of the Editorial Board show up as co-authors of his on various USGS papers.

    9) Now, assuming that these are still USGS employees (?), it does seem a little odd to be running a for-profit (but hard to locate) website that publishes papers by its editorial board on psychology, Islamic deception techniques, and why temperatures can be predicted by magnetic field strength, written by hydrologists … but why not? The world is full of wonders.

    =====
    Now, finally, we come to the paper itself, and this will mercifully be shorter:
    =====
    10) The “Editor’s Note” (remember, Tindal is the Editor) says:

    “Consequently, the ability to predict future global, continental, and national temperatures six to seven years in the future is a significant scientific finding that is of great importance to security and disaster preparedness professionals.”

    Uh-oh, that means among other things, being able to predict ENSOs and major volcanic eruptions. This is quite impressive, so I read on.

    In any real peer review, the paper would be thrown out in 5 minutes. The references are vague enough to make it difficult to tell where the data comes from, the statistics are reminiscent of “Fun with Correlations” here or “torture numbers and they’ll confess to anything”.

    The conclusion is:

    “this research shows a natural process that explains 79-percent (p<0.01) of global average-annual temperatures and reasonable predicts temperatures seven years into the future.”

    Examining the central part of Figure 1 shows how silly that is. By quick eyeball check, if you look at their modeled anomalies, of 39 years, the actual measured temperatures were outside the 95%-confidence interval about 50% of the time, and other 20% were were right around the 95% limits.

    All of this can be determined without knowing the science, but the science is bogus handwaving as well. Then, one finds that the temperature data is cited as coming from: www dot co2science dot org., but really just referens USHCN data anyway.

    CONCLUSION:
    1) Not peer-reviewed or peer-reviewable.
    2) Not even competent.
    3) About as far from “refute” as you can get.
    4) But, probably useful for raising the hit rates on that website.

  244. John Mashey:

    Fascinating, my psychology studies have been enhanced, especially by the lightning-fast responses…

    Here are useful related tidbits:
    1)”tm” was a busy entity:

    Google: gsaaj.org
    finds a bunch of link-spamming on numerous blogs, although the one here was indirect.

    2) The USGS is of course a respected institution, with a nice website, including a handy employee directory:
    http://www.usgs.gov/phonebook/employee

    Of the GSAAJ Editorial Board:
    Dean Anderson
    Michael J. Friedel (Senior Editor)
    Edward Moran
    James A. Tindall (Executive Editor)

    are current USGS employees, of which Moran is in Alaska, the rest in Colorado.

    The bios for Moran and Tindall do *not* mention USGS; I couldn’t find bios for the others.

    3) The downloadable elicense says:
    “Problems with a subscription can be addressed by sending e-mail to GSAAJ, PO Box 260126, Lakewood, Colorado 80226.”

    Begging the question of how one sends email to that address, Lakewood is where the USGS is located, or at least, this piece:
    http://water.usgs.gov/nrp/proj.bib/weeks.html

    4) My curiosity is now *seriously* aroused, given that the USGS:
    - is a US-taxpayer-supported organization,
    - publishes numerous reports.

    One would think there should be a reasonable outlet inside USGS for earthshaking climate reports, written by 2 USGS employees. (?)

    I’ve spent sometime dealing with government security organizations, and I’ve heard strange stories, but this is fairly odd. Is a piece of the US some kind of special security entity?

    Does anybody know somebody in USGS well enough to ask what this is about?

  245. Nick Gotts:

    Re #235 [the authors you refer to should not be dismissed so quickly. I have actually met them at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco. The senior author is a very well known modeler in complex dynamic physical systems while the co author, Dr. Tindall is very well known author having wrote what is called the text book in unsaturated zone flow and works as a scientist for the National Research Program of the USGS, while the senior author also works for the same agency. Thus, I would consider these individuals extremely well qualified scientists and not fruits. Indeed, I would not dismiss this work so quickly as both have a reputation for hard core, unbiased science. - Ted Fulton]

    …and #236 [the authors you refer to should not be dismissed. I have met them (Moran and Tindall) personally at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco.

    The senior author is a well known and respected modeler in complex dynamic physical systems while the co author, Dr. Tindall is also a well known author, having wrote what is called "the text book" in unsaturated zone flow and works as a scientist for the National Research Program of the USGS, while the senior author also works for the same agency. Thus, I would consider these individuals extremely well qualified scientists and not "nut jobs" as stated by Ray Ladbury. Indeed, it is most likely their credentials would stand up to those of any.

    Both authors have a solid reputation for hard core, unbiased science on hotly debated issues.] – Michael Simons, PhD.

    Great minds think alike, eh? But not always grammatically (“having wrote”)!

  246. Philippe Chantreau:

    Re 235 and 236: what is this? copied and pasted identical comments from what appears to be 2 different posts? Who wrote the original one? any of you two, or someone else? Did you do a mailing type of thing to a bunch of blogs? The credibility of that paragraph is entirely destroyed by its repetition!!

  247. Timothy Chase:

    Ted Fulton (#235) wrote:

    I agree with Dr. Chase, the authors you refer to should not be dismissed so quickly. I have actually met them at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco.

    First, I don’t have a PhD. And even if I did, it wouldn’t be in a relevant subject.

    Second, you should click the link I included – as I believe it says something about how legit the journal is, or at least what kind of journal it is.

    The journal is a peer-reviewed online journal, but is it an offline journal, too? It is a journal of the Global Defense Network. But who is the Global Defense Network? As far as I can tell, countries haven’t formed such a thing – quite possibly because there isn’t anyone else to defend ourselves against. When I looked it up I got a game developer. But this probably isn’t the same organization. As near as I can tell it is something which Tindall dreamt up. Ex-military now advising people on security. No background in anything related to climatology. As for the other author, well, someone already pointed out that his bio. Transportation, diary and animal husbandry. Apparently for the last twenty years. Before that? The environment.

    I was putting that up there for what it was.

    The fit between the Series1 and Series2 Modeled Temperature Anomalies is quite amazing. Of course, since they are both modeled series this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

    The fit between the data and the unidentified “polynominal equation (reasonably representing Earth’s magnetic-field cyclicity)” could probably still stand a little more work. And maybe some transparency. As a matter of fact, over the range that they are displaying, we aren’t seeing any “cyclicity.” What we have is something increasing being mapped to something increasing by means of an undefined function which is increasing.

    If one kept to Lypanov functions but had the choice any Lyponov function for mapping the two, this would always be possible and could always achieve an exact match. But someone already pointed out that the level of statistical significance, even with their unidentified polynomial equation was low. So apparently these guys didn’t know enough to even get their entirely bogus function to give them respectable results.

  248. SomeBeans:

    The ISI database of academic literature shows 14 papers for JA Tindall, papers on water quality and stuff going on in soil, and 2 papers for EH Moran in “TRANSACTIONS OF THE AMERICAN FISHERIES SOCIETY” on “Photographic techniques for characterizing streambed particle sizes”. They seem to have addresses matching the description above.

    By contrast RT Pierrehumbert gets you 80 hits on atmospheric physics and S Rahmstorf gets you 56 hits on atmospheric physics style things,so the database would appear to cover the areas of interest.

  249. ray ladbury:

    John, Nick and Tim, I came across this article posted by the same guy on the New Scientist blog, where I’ve been trying to inject some science into the conspiracy theories now and again.

    I looked at the article and there were several immediate red flags
    1)the fact that one of the authors was on the editorial board of the journal in question.
    2)the fact that the journal is not a climate journal.
    3)the fact that the only references to climate research are 30 years old
    4)the paucity of references
    5)the fact that one of the references is to a freshman physics text (Feynmann Lectures on Physics) from the 1960s

    Despite these red flags, I persevered and actually wasted my time reading the article. The authors claim that an R^2 value of .748 implies that the theory explains 74.8% of the trend. This is dingo’s kidneys. An R^2 of 0.748 is actually very weak. I won’t even look at a relationship unless it gives an R^2 >0.95. Then there’s the fact that to achieve even this feeble level of correlation, they introduced an adjustable parameter to their analysis–the lag between temperature and field of 7 years. There is no physical justification or proposed model for this lag, nor indeed for any of the correlation.

    Thus, I did not dismiss the article because the authors are nutjobs. Rather, I called the authors nutjobs because 1)they wrote a really lame article in a field (actually 2 fields geomagnetism and climate) they don’t understand, and 2)they then published it as a “peer-reviewed” piece in their own on-line journal. The first sin might be excusable, and indeed, if submitted to a real science journal, the article would have been flatly rejected and no harm done. The second sin rises to the level of ethical lapse in science. And it would appear that now they are compounding said sin by sewing endorsements from fictitious scientists. All I can say, is “Wow, denialists really are a sad, pathetic group.”

  250. Timothy Chase:

    RE #243

    Yah, I know. James A. Tindall might have enough justification for claiming some sort of background in security, but given the article I wouldn’t trust this guy to keep my place in line.

  251. John Mashey:

    re: #243 Ray
    Yes, agreed, and thanks for the new-to-me term “dingo’s kidneys”.
    The same red flags struck me fairly quickly, but I persisted in the interest of studying psychopathology…

    The USGS rules on outside employment can be found here:
    http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/370-600/370-7355.html

    Among the numerous link-spam’s by “tm”, “guest”, “anonymous” is also a longer discussion:
    nov55 dot com / heat.html, which also tells us:

    “It seems likely that ice ages on earth are caused by a nuclear hot spot in the core rotating toward the surface and heating the Pacific Ocean.”
    This may be related to something I saw decades ago that claimed that the Hawaiian islands arose due to leakage from an antimatter-powered starship buried in the ocean floor. (sorry, I can’t remember that reference).

    The nov55 website is apparently run by Gary Novak, “Independent Scientist” or “Independent mushroom physiologist” and it displays a wide range of “interesting” assertions.

  252. James:

    One further point on this: regardless of the authors’ qualifications or the accuracy of their statistics, it still doesn’t un-explain the “standard model”. That is, certain temperature increases are predicted to occur, based on measured increases in CO2 and known physics, so any conflicting theory has to explain why the changes from CO2 won’t occur.

    From a quick skim, I think the authors missed a bet. The correlation looks like it could work as well or better the other way around, so they could have written a paper entitled “Global Temperature Changes Alter Earth’s Magnetic Field”.

  253. Nick Gotts:

    RE #245 [The correlation looks like it could work as well or better the other way around, so they could have written a paper entitled "Global Temperature Changes Alter Earth's Magnetic Field".]

    That’s the follow-up paper. Have you never heard of positive feedbacks? :-)

  254. Chuck Booth:

    Re # 233 Gaye Moran wrote regarding to the Tyndall and Moran “paper”:

    “The article was thoroughly and professionally reviewed by a know climatologists, geophysicists, and many, many colleagues.”

    Just out of curiosity, how do you know that? If the journal conducted peer review, that would (or should) be confidential – only the editor and editorial staff should know who the reviewers were and their qualifications. If the authors sent it to colleagues for review and comments prior to submitting it for publication, that is all well and good, but it is not the same as anonymous peer-review by disinterested third-party reviewers who should have no conflict of interest.
    Again, this sounds (or looks) fishy to me.

    By the way, is it just coincidence that someone named Moran is defending the paper?

  255. John L. McCormick:

    RE# 248

    Chuck, it might be more than a coincidence. Gaye and Edward Moran have the same mailing address in Anchorage.

  256. John Mashey:

    #248 Chuck:

    “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

    The set {tm, Alan Cheswick, Gaye Moran, Ted Fulton, and Michael Simons) map to 1-5 True Names in the real world.

    a) Do we have any idea of the real number?
    b) Do we have any idea if *any* of those names above are actually True Names?

    [I actually looked, and I could find no convincing evidence that any of multiple people that match the 4 names have any obvious connections. The clearest hit is Gaye Moran, but she's a Senior Lecturer in Law in London, who doesn't seem a likely poster here, unless she gets on the net ~7AM to look at RealClimate.]

    My guess: I wouldn’t count on any of these being True Names, and if there are actually 5 distinct people, I’d be surprised. “tm” shows up often enough that there is clearly a person, but more than that? Who knows?

  257. John Mashey:

    re: #249
    Ooh, missed that somehow, didn’t go all the way to White Pages. Still, may or may not be real.

  258. John L. McCormick:

    RE # 251

    Only the mail carrier knows.

  259. Hank Roberts:

    An associated IP number is a good clue — either to a regularly used machine, or to posts from a widely shared machine, or via an anonymizing service. We ordinary readers have to trust the hosts to pick up patterns, at least over sufficient time, and deal with sock puppets however they like.

    As to recognizing bogosity or ideas that won’t fly, I wish RC (or climatology generally) were ready to do what the cosmologists are able to do — set out criteria to recognize possibly useful theories. Here for example:

    http://cosmicvariance.com/2007/06/26/constraints-and-signatures-in-particle-cosmology/

    “… what are the most common cosmological areas in which one currently looks for further constraints on one’s new particle physics idea? What new questions do you need to ask yourself?
    1. Does your theory contain any new long-lived elementary particles? If it does … “

  260. bjc:

    Ray:
    If you had a model of the stock market with an R^2 of .748, I can assure you that you would become very rich, very quickly.

  261. ray ladbury:

    Re 254. BJC, not if you allowed adjustable parameters to obtain that model. And no, you would not. I believe that there is a strong correlation between a good year for the stock market and an original NFL team winning the Super Bowl. Great, you gonna sell the farm next time the Bears win? For a model to be credible, you have to have understand what mechanism underlies the correlation.
    Moreover, this is not finance, but rather science, and a 0.748 R^2 is crap. Two variables both of which are increasing or both of which are decreasing are sufficient to achieve that.

    [Response: You need to be a bit more careful here. 0.748 R^2 could be great in a different context. In this case it’s pretty meaningless since it is simply a reflection of the dominant trend in both time series, but blanket statements about significance are rarely justified. – gavin]

  262. Jeremy:

    Re 243, ray wrote:

    “The authors claim that an R^2 value of .748 implies that the theory
    explains 74.8% of the trend.”

    Yeah, I noticed that. I wonder what explains the other 25.2%?

    If anybody wants to buy a used conspiracy theory, I seriously wondered
    for a while whether this was a hoax by a bunch of people at the USGS
    designed to show that the denialist blogosphere would indiscriminately
    pick up on any old nonsense that seems to support their case. I didn’t
    find ANY references to the Global Defense Network or Global Security
    Affairs & Analysis on the web apart from their own websites, which is a
    bit odd.

    But on second thoughts, I decided that it’s unlikely they’d have gone to
    that much trouble.

    I’m going to feel really guilty now if I was right and I’ve spoilt their
    fun. :-(

  263. Hank Roberts:

    Jeremy wrote:
    > I didn’t find ANY references …

    How did you search? Google finds both terms immediately. Put quotes around the strings to get less chaff.

    Global Security Affairs & Analysis is a journal of the Global Defense Network. The journal accepts submissions from qualified practitioners, academics, …
    http://www.gsaaj.org/jou.php?journal-authorguide

  264. Jeremy:

    Re 257. Hank Roberts wrote:
    >How did you search? Google finds both terms immediately.

    Yes, I found them. I said I didn’t find any reference *apart from* their
    own websites. Did you?

  265. David B. Benson:

    I like tamino‘s idea: somebody please run the correlation between world beer consumption and global temperatures for the last fifty years or so…

  266. Hank Roberts:

    Jeremy, yes, though you’ll have to page through a lot of chaff to find other references. The computer game, and what appear to be some military/veteran sites (that may also be computer game pages) are far more common users of the phrases.

    Here’s a real reference, first item here, for instance: http://www.chds.us/?research/pubs&who=87

    Sorry for the digression, folks.

  267. Chuck Booth:

    Re 257 Hank, I’m still confused – what exactly is the Global Defense Network? Aside from a computer game, that is. Is it a legitimate organization? A think tank, perhaps? Can you (or someone) provide a link to a credible source that explains what it is all about and who is involved? I’m still trying to figure out if this, and its journal, are legitimate. There is little I could find on the journal’s web site that would convince me that it is a credible peer-reviewed journal. It sounds more like an in-house web-based journal that is trying to pass itself off as something that it is not.

  268. Timothy Chase:

    John Mashey (#245) wrote:

    The nov55 website is apparently run by Gary Novak, “Independent Scientist” or “Independent mushroom physiologist” and it displays a wide range of “interesting” assertions.

    Oh yah…

    His website was into big-time denial of anthropogenic global warming, and he claimed that mushrooms were in the process of evolving towards multicellularity – if I remember correctly. I bumped into his website a while back.

  269. Hank Roberts:

    The home paqe seems to say it’s a Homeland Security Agency group’s publication. That’s a big umbrella for a huge list of government stuff, so that’s not very specific. The link, from a mention on the Navy postgrad school page, to the list of articles and authors leads to password protected pages for their March 2007 issue. That is all I found before I quit looking, in a couple of minutes digging through the chaff.

    This is way off topic for here.

  270. John Mashey:

    re: #261: Chuck: you can stop worrying. Tindall has been at USGS for while, then got an MA from Naval Postgraduate School, and then apparently set up CSAAJ, and pulled in people he knew via NPG, USGS, and in Colorado. Maybe he sees security as a better career than USGS.

    In any case, with a little further CSAAJ rummaging, I believe I am now able to make a proper attribution, with a very high level of confidence. See if you agree.

    But first, the data:
    I looked around for references to GSAAJ, most of which were the same link-spam, although with slightly different words. The first author of the paper, Edward H. Moran, is also listed as Ted Moran in the GSAAJ website.

    Date Name: Site
    **Spam-linking
    06/20 ehmoran: ehmoran blogspot com

    06/21 guest: cr4 globalspec com
    06/21 tm: www knowprose com
    06/21 tm: www fromtheheartland org
    … Posted twice, followed by 2 rather passionate comments about Darfur, ego-stroking,
    … complaints about spending $29B to further study GLOBAL WARMING…

    06/22 tmon: www earthportal org
    06/22 tm: globalwarming factorfiction com
    06/22 Anonymous: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/03/james-hansen-other-new-scientist.html
    06/22 tm: www pheedo com
    06/22 tehm: science netscape com

    06/23 tm: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/06/global-warming-what-us-public-thinks.html

    06/23 tm: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/05/climate-myths-special.html
    … “I believe article was peer-reviewed”
    … This was where Ray was trying to bring light 06/23-24, arguing with tm and Anonymous.

    06/23 ehm: forum physorg com
    06/23 tm: theclimatebet com
    … tm: but also signed “Edward Moran”!!

    06/24 tm: www friction tv
    … “After reading the journal article …” (Hmm, amazing that the lead author finally read the paper).
    ========
    **move to RC
    06/28 tm: pops up in #224 about model (very early in day), no response.
    06/28 Alan Cheswick: #229 [new person], in evening, points at version on newscientist

    06/28 tamino: #231 whacks the GSAAJ article

    **Flurry of defense, all from new names
    06/28 Gaye Moran: #233
    06/29 Ted Fulton: #235 (early AM, part of flurry)
    06/29 Michael Simons: #236

    06/29 Mashey: #237,#238 Digs out details
    06/29 Ladbury: #243, had already been slogging away in newscientist…myths.
    ====

    Hypothesis: Edward H. (Ted) Moran = {ehmoran, tm, guest, Anonymous, tehm}, and perhaps one or more of {Alan Cheswick, Gaye Moran, Ted Fulton, Michael Simons}, none of whose names are found at the USGS Alaska Science Center or USGS directory. Given similarity of wording, Moran was often posting under several different names in same thread, i.e., tm & anonymous in some cases.

    This is very weird behavior for a US Government hydrologist.
    It is a good way neither to become famous, nor to stay anonymous.

    Mr. Moran, if you’re still watching:
    I have read USGS 370.735.5 and I hope you (and James Tindall) have.

    Do managers SAF and LE HB know about this? Any constructive comments?

  271. Charles Lyell:

    I wasn’t aware that there was a CO2 Climate Change LAW?
    I thought it was a hypothesis that is yet to be tested experimentally?

  272. Marion Delgado:

    I am not sure what an all-caps “LAW” means, but the greenhouse gas potential of C02 has been known for over 100 years, Charles Lyell. It’s a little too specific to think of as a law, it’s like saying that ice cream freezes at -10 C and that’s the LAW of ice cream, and distilled water freezes at 0 C and thats the Law of water, and the bananas I bought today, which provably weighed 2 pounds – well, that’s the LAW of bananas. But it’s not a hypothesis, anymore than the “dipping a sponge in water makes it wet” LAW is. The greenhouse effect of increased C02 has indeed been tested experimentally for, again, over 100 years.

    What was a hypothesis was the sunspots make clouds and/or cause extra heat and that’s why you can magically ignore a thicker concentration of C02. But by now it’s a falsified one. Because the sun went to a minimum and temperature went up anyway. And the picture was not a cycle but an upward curve.

    What was a hypothesis, long ago, but is now an accepted theory with so much evidence and consensus that it has a presumption of correctness, is that human activity has filled the C02 well faster than it can be drawn down by nature for decades, and that nothing is mitigating the greenhouse effect (see above) of that C02, nor is anything compensating for the many positive feedbacks that are initiated once you have a warming or a C02 forcing or both.

  273. Charles Lyell:

    Are there any references?

  274. Charles Lyell:

    Then what you say IS! over population?

  275. David donovan:

    Re 267

    Charles….start by reading some of the articles posted at this site !

    A good place to start is….
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

  276. Steve Latham:

    Just to thank Gavin for the comment at 255 — In fisheries science there are many relationships where an r2 of < 0.5 is publishable and considered a valuable contribution (this relates largely to the fact that we think we know many mechanistic interactions but they are inherrently noisy).

  277. Charles Lyell:

    But how can they do that with global CO2, there are only global data back to 1979?

  278. Timothy Chase:

    Charles Lyell (#267) wrote:

    Are there any references?

    Well, it goes back to 1861 I believe, but here is one of the later papers on the greenhouse effect:

    On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground
    Svante Arrhenius
    The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science
    Series 5, Volume 41, 1896, pages 237-276
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Arrhenius_pdf

    Of course science has advanced a bit since then. Interestingly enough, the fundamental physics through which we understand the greenhouse effect is the very same physics which makes modern computers possible – such that we are able to project the general consequences of continued carbon emissions decades into the future. From sliderules to supercomputers, such as the NEC Earth Simulator which performs a trillion calculations per second. The poor thing is a little dated by now, though.

  279. Edward H. Moran:

    Well, you smeared us personally like normal. This paper was submitted as a Brevia but Science responded and told us to publish in a discipline specific journal. We wanted to get this info out as fast as possible to other scientists and get some feed back or even let them continue with the study. We looked at both sides attempting to determine the truth. I don’t specifically care what the cause of climate change is. I look at data and report what I find; you guys make the policy decisions, not us.

    This work is in no means affiliated with the USGS. We’re finishing the final paper now with a few more back-up arguments This study purely developed form curiosity and on our own time and went through many, many discussions with many other scientists.

    Ray attached me personally without any kind of constructive criticism.

  280. Timothy Chase:

    Charles Lyell (#270) wrote:

    But how can they do that with global CO2, there are only global data back to 1979?

    We have been taking measurements at Mauna Loa continuously since 1958. But they were taking measurements well before that. And before they were taking measurements – well, there are a variety of proxies (in essence, natural records) which they are able to use and cross-verify against one another. These give us a fairly accurate picture going back approximately a million years. Things get a little be more difficult to reconstruct beyond that.

    *

    Anyway, Donovan is right…

    Start Here
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here

  281. Edward H. Moran:

    I have no desire to be famous, I just want to do the science, in what I was taught is a non political venture to search for truth, even before what you guys did to us personally. I did say just talk about the science not the personal stuff, like Nutjobs and such, don’t you think there’s enough of that going on the world!!!

    I thought you were a psychologist?

  282. Edward H. Moran:

    Are you going to post what I said or leave it for guessing?

  283. Timothy Chase:

    Edward H. Moran (#271) wrote:

    Are you going to post what I said or leave it for guessing?

    Sometimes it takes a little bit for messages to show up. Somebody has to do manually – mostly on account of spammers. You know, people who go around posting links back to their own websites just to boost their ratings in the search engines, that sort of thing.

  284. Edward H. Moran:

    Actually,

    You censor everything, as you have done to me in the past.

    I’m going to send a copy of this page, the New Science page, and a log file from GCI.net and my firewall program to several interested parties, since you have threatened me in everyway.

    Yes, in passing, many people know what I do on my own time.

    Now I’m going to sign off and remember what’s being said about certain Blog sites is true.

    Thanks you.

  285. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #270

    The greenhouse effect has been known about since the 1700s. See http://www.solarcooking.org/saussure.htm Those scientists are quite clever! Well, some of them at least :-)

  286. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[His website was into big-time denial of anthropogenic global warming, and he claimed that mushrooms were in the process of evolving towards multicellularity – if I remember correctly.]]

    I’m pretty sure mushrooms are already multicellular.

  287. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[But how can they do that with global CO2, there are only global data back to 1979? ]]

    CO2 has been tracked at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii since 1958. Before that, we have proxies such as bubbles in ice where the ice is laid down in annual deposition layers (Greenland, Antarctica).

  288. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[Ray attached me personally without any kind of constructive criticism. ]]

    And we all know how being attached can hurt. Especially if something like staples are used.

  289. Zeke Hausfather:

    You must admit, Edward, that the publication of a path-breaking research paper on climate change by a new online journal conveniently edited by both authors of the paper, neither of whom appear to have a substantive background in climate science, does come across as a tad suspicious, especially given the tendency for quackery on the margins of this issue. Also, comments by your namesake Gaye that “the paper was published in that journal to get the info out as fast as possible, since $29B that are about to be spent looking at CO2 when apparently that’s not the biggest problem” appears to suggest that your intentions in this matter are not completely unbiased.

    I would have suggested following Science’s advise and publishing your article in a “discipline-specific journal”, which would have given quite a bit more credibility to your work. As it stands, we don’t have any idea how rigorous or substantive the “peer review” process was for your article, especially as it was published in a medium that generally publishes neither peer reviewed nor science articles.

    Finally, while some of the language used in criticizing your work did amount to ad-homs (nutjob is rarely an appropriate term, even when referring to sloppy work), there are a number of more substantive assertions I would suggest responding to if you want to be taken seriously. And ranting away against the posting delay hardly helps your case.

  290. Gavin:

    Note: Continued use of alternate names and sock puppets to support an argument here will not be allowed. I also caution all participants not to indulge in name-calling and to remain respectful.

  291. Dan G:

    Does anyone know the folks over at ClimatePolicy.org, in particular, Richard Rood? I know that you are not affiliated and although RC never refers to them, they often reference RC. I know that the same people dislike them as dislike RC. Anyway, I had been posting comments when suddenly, all responses from the hosts stopped on June 25 and no moderator has posted since. Have they abandoned their blog? Anyone have any ideas?

  292. J.S. McIntyre:

    #238

    “Does anybody know somebody in USGS well enough to ask what this is about?”

    Not much. I have a relative pretty high up on the governmental food chain who works there. I’ll send them an e-mail and link the thread from where this started, for what its worth.

    On the off chance I hear anything back, I’ll be happy to let you know.

    Regards,

  293. J.S. McIntyre:

    #222, Alexi wrote: “But, instead of worrying about those species living in polar waters, who will worry about 6 billion species of Homo sapiens (soon to be 9B)? I think your (I mean AGW people in general) worries are substantially misplaced.”

    I heartily disagree. Species loss is not the same thing as what happens when a neighbor moves out. Nothing will replace that species. Nothing will replace that species’ place in the order of things, and so it invariably follows the loss of one species will have a deleterious effect on other species. In some cases, the effect might be minor to negligible; in others, it could be catastrophic.

    The BBC version of “Planet Earth” includes a three-part sub-series focused on what the people that put that special together observed in terms of sustainability of habitats, the thinning of species and sustainability in the years it took them to put the film together, and then interwove discussion by leading scientists and environmentalists and even religious figures. On a side note, I would recommend the three-parter to any and all who want to get a good picture of the current state of the natural world.

    Specifically, there was an excellent observation in the first episode that serves as an answer to your question. Think of the interconnected web of life on this planet as a brick wall. Every time a species disappears, another brick is knocked out of that wall. Sooner or later, the wall is going to collapse.

    We’re already seeing this kind of collapse in ocean fisheries. We’re seeing it in amphibians world-wide. We’re seeing it in herd populations in Asia. In the mini-series there was documented the story a herd of antelope estimated to be 15 million strong that roamed the area that made up many of the client states of the Soviet Union. There is an old BBC special that filmed them migrating – the herd stretched to either end of the horizon. When the SU broke up and those now-former client states experienced hard times, they turned to that herd for sustenance. The species is now nearly extinct. All of this happened in a period of just a few years. Now that species is no longer around to look to as a resource, not just for humans, but for any other species that had interactions with it. It will not repopulate any time soon, likely never, especially without stringent safeguards. Who will provide them?

    Life on this planet is interconnected. Thus, in order to look to the needs of the six billion already on this planet, it strikes me that the most rational way to do this is to preserve and protect the natural world and its resources that sustain us. Right now, any species loss is part of a growing disaster, one for which all the ingenuity humanity can muster will likely have no answer. Scientists have been discussing the growing reality that we are witnessing of a die-off occurring, one that has the potential to be the sixth great die-off in the history of life. What makes this die-off unique is there is a species – homo sapiens – that is both responsible for the die-off, and self aware enough to do something about it.

    The problem, it would seem, will be to get the population of the world to understand that efforts to sustain the web of life is in its ultimate best interest. Like others, I don’t hold out much hope for this, especially when obviously intelligent people do not see this relatively simple truth.

  294. Hank Roberts:

    > “the paper was published in that journal to get the info out as fast as possible, since
    > $29B that are about to be spent looking at CO2 when apparently that’s not the biggest problem”

    Hm. So it’s another advocacy journal.

  295. Edward H. Moran:

    Okay! You’ve had a much more than a 1/2 hour. No excuses now.

    There were no derogatory statements in the last comment, but I did notice that many of my others under an assumed name, like “tamino”, or Gavin, where are their full names, got posted immediately…

    Because of the unprofessionalism at this site, yesterday I posted a statement on http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/06/28/new-study-on-the-prediction-skill-of-the-multi-decadal-global-models/
    comment 16. Now because this continues, I’m going to review all copies I’ve made of the website along with you “Comment Policy” and begin to send that out. Then when I come back to this site and still don’t see my postings, I’m going to send out the comments that I copied from Word, which I use because my spelling can be atrocious.

    Everything that has happened on this site has been seen by many of my colleagues. They know me and what I do and what I’ve done. I will continue no more, You have posted threatening statements towards me and my family. Soon I will demand a written apology from this WEBSITE and I just might take it further.

  296. Timothy Chase:

    Alastair McDonald (#279) wrote:

    Re [#272(?)]

    The greenhouse effect has been known about since the 1700s. See http://www.solarcooking.org/saussure.htm Those scientists are quite clever! Well, some of them at least.

    Don’t mean to complain, but what you are speaking of is heating by means of sunlight combined due to absorbtion and the limiting of convection. This is what takes place in a greenhouse, but it not what is refered to in science as the greenhouse effect – which involves the raising of the temperature within a system by means of a process involving positive feedback through the absorption and re-emission of radiation.

    But yes, scientists have been clever for a very long time. I, for example, like Benjamin Franklin’s demonstration that lightning is a form of atmospheric electricity, the demonstration of the sphericity of the earth which goes back to Ancient Greece I believe, and the invention of zero in India given to us via an earlier renaissance of Arab culture which also gave us the telescope.

    It also pays to keep in mind the fact that “primitive man” is itself a misnomer of sorts. Ealy men were largely men-of-all-trades prior to a well-developed division of cognitive labor because they had to be.

    Civilization itself has advanced a great deal since then – as has science.

  297. Edward H. Moran:

    Where is my previous comment posted more that a 1/2 hour before comment 289.

  298. Edward H. Moran:

    Are you ready to talk science, or do I need to take this higher?

  299. spilgard:

    A bit of support from paleomagnetic records of the earth’s magnetic field intensity is in order. How well does the paleomagnetic record correlate with the temperature record over, say, the past few thousand years? Perhaps the matter should be run past the USGS Geomagnetism Group:

    http://geomag.usgs.gov/

  300. Edward H. Moran:

    There’s already a study out there.

  301. Edward H. Moran:

    Try http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/suppl_1/2546

  302. ray ladbury:

    Wow! He’s good. I didn’t even see his lips move!

  303. tamino:

    Re: #292 (Edward H. Moran)

    OK, let’s talk science.

    In your paper, you state, “1958-2000 magnetic anomalies explained 79.2-percent (R2 = 0.792 with p < 0.01) of the 1965-2006 Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) (5) temperature-anomaly variability.”

    With a polynomial fit, the lowest-order nonlinear polynomial being quadratic, you have at least two degrees of freedom in your polynomial (more if your polynomial degree is higher than 2). You also apply a lag, so you have at least three degrees of freedom in your model relating temperature anomaly to magnetic field.

    I took temperature anomalies for 1965 to 2006 from GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and did a simple linear regression against time. I get R2 = 0.793. So, using time (instead of magnetic field) and only one degree of freedom (linear fit), I get better correlation than you did.

    Using a quadratic polynomial, I get R2 = 0.814. That’s better correlation than you got, and still fewer degrees of freedom in the model (2 vs your at-least-3).

    You also say, “As model verification, 1958-1993 magnetic anomalies were regressed against 1965-2000 temperature anomalies; while explaining only 68.5-percent (R2 = 0.685 with p < 0.01) of temperature-anomaly variability. The resulting regression-equation coefficients were used to model 1958-2000 and predict 2001-2006 temperature anomalies (Series2, Fig 1). All computed temperature anomalies fell within the 95-percent confidence interval of Series1 values, thus further validating the model.”

    I also took the linear and quadratic models based on temperature data from 1965 to 2000, extrapolated to predict values for 2001 through 2006, and in both cases, all computed temperature anomalies feel within the 95-percent confidence interval of the predicted temperature anomalies.

    Result: your magnetic-field model, using at least 3 degrees of freedom, doesn’t quite do as well as a simple linear regression against time.

  304. Timothy Chase:

    Edward H. Moran (#294, #295) wrote:

    There’s already a study out there.

    Try http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/suppl_1/2546

    Must be the wrong study.

    The authors of that study were concerned with the natural variability of atmosphere temperature and the natural variability of the geomagnetic field, principally in terms of describing their mathematical structure in terms of noise of different spectra densities. They were deliberately attempting to pick two things which they regarded as unrelated in order to illustrate the wide applicability of their analysis.

    It had nothing to do with the global temperature and geomagnetism being correlated.

  305. Rod B:

    re 287: while protecting the environment and species is generally a good thing, I don’t think it rises to the criticality or even significance you imply. Species come and go by the thousands over years/decades/centuries. No need to get in a dither over a loss of one or two (or a hundred…) I trust I’m not over-reacting to what sounds like a mostly rational and serious concern. I jump from the folks out there who given a choice between saving a human or saving a bird/fish/insect/etc will choose the latter everytime with no hesitation.

  306. James A. Tindall:

    Hello to all,

    I would like to introduce myself – James Tindall.

    Being directed to your Blog site, I have observed some interesting discussions/comments about the paper by Moran and Tindall, as well as other issues. Truthfully, such comments are understandable and expected. I must admit, however, that the personal-type attacks took me aback a little after reading the title of your web site (RealClimate: Climate science from climate scientists), especially in lieu of discussing the science behind the issue. Thus, I would suggest a tad more civility.

    I once had a technical writing professor that told me, “specific is terrific.” Because this is going to be my only post, I would like to make a few comments that I hope will be specific enough to address some, although not all, of the concerns posted here.

    1. As a scientist for the National Research Program of the USGS, I am not in violation of USGS 370.735.5. Stated earlier by Mr. Moran, this work was done on outside time and is not in conflict with current duties, since it addresses security issues rather than specifically climate change issues. If you wish, I will be happy to give you the contact information of my superiors.

    2. It is my personal belief that global warming is important and will continue to be so. As per the two camps of global warming I have no interest in them and remain focused on science that is unbiased and uninfluenced by opinion(s). My primary interest (that of GSAA) in this work as stated in #1 is one of a security nature and what long-term country and international security issues would be in regards to being able to accurately predict temperatures and hopefully some day total climate, into the future and, to be able to develop strategies before hand for occurrences such as long-term drought and other conditions that will provide better and more efficient use of scarce security resources that need to be in place. Although, this is a very simplistic description, security in this regard is an important issue and one that I hope you can understand the importance of.

    3. It is quite noticeable that several groups/persons have been “trashed” on the site. That’s okay I suppose if one wishes to sidestep rather than discuss science. An example is Novak. While I do not know the man, it seemed odd to me that he was being criticized for his beliefs and statements and not being a climate scientist, yet one of your members here is a psychologist. Seems a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. I mean no offense, it is merely an observation. It is unfortunate in our society that the general consensus prevails that a person can be good at only one thing. Does this mean Novak or your psychologist can be no good at discussing something they are not specifically trained for, say climate change? I think not, since the goal of an education is to help one discover truths. In this respect I admire your psychologist or anyone else who wishes to take the time to discover new fields of learning and importance.

    4. There was a comment about the legitimacy of GSAA and a rashness of unfounded opinions. Since you wish a comment on it, I can assure you that it is quite legitimate. I was asked to assume the executive editor position, unpaid, which requires a considerable amount of time; also the managing entities are in D.C. and require anonymity. GSAA looks at a great many security issues for strategy, policy, and organizational planning on large scale. Some of these include commodity supply routes, debris flow, large-scale deforestation by fire and others that are not listed hence, it is why those on the editorial board serve in these areas within the USGS, State, Federal, and other agencies, universities and elsewhere. Other interest and published areas include homeland security defense initiatives, terrorism issues, and intelligence related to security. If it has to do with strategic security, GSAA is involved in it. Further, the journal was set up so that it is not readily visible to the public as most of the clients and members are those in industries that do not wish to be readily identified. As per the spam link, you have my apologies as the journal neither seeks nor desires publicity from the general public.

    5. As per the paper, generally GSAA desires a paper to have a prior in-house review prior to arrival. Once received, the paper will be reviewed by at least three outside and independent reviewers; for controversial papers GSAA requires at least 5. Dissenting reviews must be satisfactorily addressed. This particular paper went through 11 independent reviews, two of which were negative. However, regarding the comments on number of references and so forth, it should be noted the paper was initially intended as a Brevia for Science, which is limited to a total of 800 words, one figure or table, six references, and as such, is a summary of findings. The full paper is on its way to another journal. This brief summary was to apprise GSAA readers that Part 2 (which is why the “Editor’s Note” was added) will be discussing strategic security issues in terms of temperature prediction abilities, climate change and so forth. As you may or may not be aware, this also has significance in environmental warfare with which I am associated.

    6. I have been a scientist for a long time with specialties in very large and complex systems and have worked side by side in security and technology issues for about 22 years – I can assure you that I am quite capable at all. There are a great many interdependencies between science, technology and security. As a matter of fact my skills in these areas are why I was invited to attend the United States Naval Postgraduate School, which is generally reserved for only military personnel. Here also I will give contact information for those that desire it.

    7. Finally, it disturbs me that science continues to be reduced to politics rather than the role of science to serve mankind. With that said, the basic purpose of science is to form a hypothesis, collect data, and analyze and interpret the findings, which is what we did with this paper. You can trash me from now until the end of the millennium if you wish, but as a scientist, I would invite you to “prove us wrong.” Isn’t that what we do? As scientists I and you have the opportunity to prove theories wrong through continuing and additional research rather than trash messengers who may present something that we dissent from.

    Regarding the paper, I would invite any and all Scientific Comments, especially since the full report will be released soon. If you wish to contact me, my email is drtindall@hotmail.com. Also, I invite all to drop by our presentation at the AGU meetings in San Francisco in December. I would enjoy discussing what I am sure will be many differences of opinion. We may then agree to disagree or we may discover new inroads to help solve global problems. It is my sincere hope that we can discuss differences of opinion, facts, or data professionally and civilly.

    I hope all of you have a great evening and weekend and look forward to meeting some of you in person.

    Respectfully,
    James Tindall

  307. Edward H. Moran:

    Try http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981JGG….33..545W

  308. Edward H. Moran:

    Did everyone go to sleep?

  309. Edward H. Moran:

    I believe we’re still on topic according to #256.

    We’re trying to establish what is a significant regression fit from environmental data as reported in
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981JGG….33..545W, which reports a relation between Magnetic intensity and ambient temperature as our paper did?

  310. ray ladbury:

    Might I suggest that we take discussion of the paper by Tindall and Moran offline and provide comments to the authors directly via the email address provided by Dr. Tindall.

  311. J.S. McIntyre:

    re 299

    I apologize in advance for venturing further off topic (though, as I’ve noted elsewhere, issues of biodiversity and man’s footprint upon the natural world are tied to Global Warming). What we are witnessing now in terms of species and habitat loss is unprecedented. One of the most obvious has been the collapse of fisheries. For example, Cod have all but disappeared as a viable food source from the North Atlantic.

    http://www.fisherycrisis.com/

    http://earthwatch.unep.net/oceans/oceanfisheries.php

    And this is not a problem confined to the North Atlantic:

    Fishing Down Aquatic Food Webs

    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14712;jsessionid=baa9

    Ecologically Sustainable Yield

    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/17216

    It is not a “few” species, it is not the “business as usual” species coming-and-going you imply, but instead a very critical situation where we are witnessing large holes being punched in the food chain/web that will have invariably negative consequences. Put another way, we are entering uncharted territory, and the only comparable examples we have to draw upon are the five previous species die-offs found in the geological record. Wikipedia has a decent summary of the current event, if you are interested, though a Google search will provide a wide range of information:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction_event

    It is not a sudden occurrence, but something that has been a growing phenomenon, as Niles Eldredge discusses here:

    http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html

    The point being is the extinctions are happening at an ever increasing rate, and will likely reach a tipping point in the conceivable future.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20041021105033/www.amnh.org/museum/press/feature/biofact.html

    It’s estimated we’ve already lost half the forests, half the amphibians, and the number of species now considered endangered continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Once a species enters endangered status, the prospects are grim.

    It gets worse when you consider the effects of deforestation and habitat loss. Not only do we lose species, we lose important elements of sustainability such as water filtration and oxygen generation. In ‘Planet Earth: Saving Species’ biologist E.O. Wilson estimates that the ‘value’ we receive from the natural world in terms of sustenance, fresh water and soil, air and a plethora of other ‘services’ exceeds 30 trillion dollars annually. We get this ‘value’ at no cost to us.

    We could spend hours calling up all the literature that is available on these and other related threats to conserving sustainability, but what’s the point? If you want to believe there isn’t a problem, that is your right. You can pretend this is not a problem, that everything is, as I characterized, a case of ‘business as usual’, but you would be wrong.

  312. spilgard:

    Sorry for contributing to the off-topic drift, but since I raised the question I feel obligated to respond. Henceforth, I promise to cease and desist.

    Re #295 – The linked article contains nothing about a connection between temperature and geomagnetism; rather, it argues that analytical tools which model phenomena in the earth’s atmosphere are also applicable to the study of magnetic phenomena in the earth’s dynamo.

    Re #301 – This paper examines only the 40-year interval 1935-1975. Again, a bit of support from paleomagnetic records of the earth’s magnetic field intensity is in order. Given that the field intensity has exhibited past variations which dwarf the present variation, it’s to be expected that a mechanism linking magnetic intensity to global temperature should leave a clear signal over geological time.

  313. Chuck Booth:

    Re # 299 Rod B. saving a human vs. saving a bird/fish/insect/etc

    That is really a false dichotomy — can you offer an actual case in which such a decision was made that resulted in real harm to a person (as opposed to the person just being inconvenienced by, say, a requirement of the Endangered Species Act)?

    Re # 302 Did everyone go to sleep?
    Comment by Edward H. Moran â?? 1 Jul 2007 @ 3:21 am

    Hmmm…I don’t know what time zone the RC time stamp represents, but I suspect many North American RC readers were indeed asleep at 3:21 am in any NA time zone.

    BTW: Edward – I think it might reduce your frustrations a bit to realize that while the RC threads are started by the climatologists whose names are listed as moderators, most of the people posting questions and responses here are not climatologists, and don’t pretend to be. Thus, with the exception of an occasional in-line response from an RC moderator (usually in green type), the responses you receive (or don’t receive) to your posts, and the criticism of your paper, reflect the personal views and interests of those responders, and in no way represent the views of the community of scientists who consider themselves climatologists. If you want feedback from climatologists, you need to publish your paper in a journal read by climatologists.
    Finally, as someone has already pointed out, it often takes several hours for a posted message to appear on a thread, and sometimes messages are posted out of sequence, at least temporarily, until a queue of messages is cleared up. There is no full time RC moderator approving messages 24/7.

  314. Timothy Chase:

    Edward H. Moran (#301) wrote:

    Try http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981JGG….33..545W

    1981?

    This is fairly old, but slightly better.

    I have a better suggestion, something much more recent:

    Can we use the aa geomagnetic activity index to predict partially the variability in global mean temperatures?
    M.A. El-Borie and S.S. Al-Thoyaib
    International Journal of Physical Sciences Vol. 1 (2), pp. 067-074, October, 2006
    http://www.academicjournals.org/ijps/PDF/Pdf2006/Oct/El-Borie%20and%20Al-Thoyaib.pdf

  315. Hank Roberts:

    The Wolin et al. paper from 1981, if compared to the recent one, might be grist for the pertinent topic for curve manipulation.

    I have only the abstract of the former, which says in part:

    “Lag correlations are established for 27 of 29 pairs of Northern Hemisphere magnetic observatory and
    weather station data sets concerning magnetic intensity and temperature over the period 1935-1975.
    When plotted, horizontal component and total intensity component values did not correlate with
    temperature curves. The lag in temperature trends against magnetic variation ranges from one to three years ….”

    The abstract says Wolin et al. suggested possible mechanisms; I don’t have the full text. Did they justify leaving out two pairs of station data?
    (They didn’t rely upon data from CO2Science’s website as a data source, of course.)

    One wonders if the Wolin et al. “one to three years” offset is related to their proposed mechanisms, proposing a reason the “one to three years” offset made physical sense. And of course how their statistic would look if they included the omitted two pairs of station data, or why they were dropped. Wolin et al. didn’t rely on the website “CO2Science” to draw their data from, and had a lot fewer pairs of numbers.

    If an offset can be varied over time to keep the curves matching up, that sounds like Beck’s manipulation, which would be troublesome.
    Beck also had matching curves — his also got disjunct over time —- Beck moved one of the lines over to obscure his problem.

    My statistics teacher insisted:
    — first you define the statistic to be used,
    – _then_ you collect the data;
    – you must use all the data you collect without losing any that are inconvenient;
    – you should have hired the statistician to tell you your statistical design is going to be of any use _before_, yes, before collecting any data.

    Seems Beck failed to pose a question that could be usefully answered and is just painting lines on the page to claim they prove something.
    And that after chopping out bits, and after pushing them around til bits and pieces of them line up. And ignoring what else changed over the time span.

  316. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[re 287: while protecting the environment and species is generally a good thing, I don’t think it rises to the criticality or even significance you imply. Species come and go by the thousands over years/decades/centuries. No need to get in a dither over a loss of one or two (or a hundred…) ]]

    The ecosystem is all interconnected and we don’t know what the crucial species are. We can’t say a species is expendable until it goes and we either survive or don’t survive. We do know that we are presently undergoing a mass extinction. That’s not a good thing.

    Maybe we can compensate for the loss of the species we’re wiping out and maybe we can’t, but as Paul Ehrlich put it, “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.”

  317. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[You can trash me from now until the end of the millennium if you wish, but as a scientist, I would invite you to “prove us wrong”]]

    We don’t have to prove you wrong. You have to prove your proposal is right. Your challenge is scientifically equivalent to the UFO believer’s “prove that UFOs aren’t alien starships!” It’s not our burden of proof, the burden of proof is on the affirmative.

    Nonetheless, I’ll demonstrate why you’re almost certainly wrong.

    You draw a correlation, using an unnecessarily elaborate function, between two time series, attribute causality from one to the other, and that’s pretty much your whole paper.

    When two time series are increasing at the same time, they may appear to be causally linked when they’re really not. This is known as “the spurious regression problem.” It can occur when time series are “integrated,” meaning that they don’t have a time-stationary mean or variance. Correlations found in that case are meaningless. The rare cases where the two variables in question are really linked can be identified by finding them to be “cointegrated,” i.e., they have a linear combination of the two which is stationary in a statistical sense.

    I see no indication that you applied the standard tests for integration and cointegration to your time series. Not having done that, your statistical correlation is meaningless, especially considering how unnecessarily elaborate your function is. Curve-fitting proves exactly nothing without some kind of theory behind it. I spent a great deal of time as a teenager finding “better” expressions of Bode’s Law, until some people who knew better kindly pointed out to me why the elaborate functions I was drawing up were meaningless.

    Your paper would not have passed peer review at a climatology journal, or a geology journal, or even at an economics journal, economists having been the first to identify the spurious regression problem. You are working out of your field and you made a beginner’s mistake which invalidates your whole paper.

  318. Rod B:

    re 307/299: A little off topic, but… the loggers and fishermen losing (a major part of) their line of work and income, the Spanish-Indians of New Mexico losing their ability to gather their wood for fuel (cooking and heating), the western farmers unable to irrigate their fields, or the forest firefighters unable to load water on their helicopters — I suppose you might call that “inconvenience” but I think harm is more appropriate.
    [edit - no DDT discussions here - take it to Deltoid if you must]

  319. Rod B:

    re 310: “…The ecosystem is all interconnected and we don’t know what the crucial species are. We can’t say a species is expendable until it goes and we either survive or don’t survive…..”

    That’s reasonable enough. Conceivably there might be “critical” species that we ought to worry about, if only we knew what they were. Nor does general concern over species/environment/etc. bother me as long as it is done in context.

    Shoot! I was almost on your side and then you had to go and quote Paul Ehrlich and blow your cover!! [;-)

  320. Rick Brown:

    re 313 Rod B “Shoot! I was almost on your side and then you had to go and quote Paul Ehrlich and blow your cover!! [;-)”

    I don’t suppose it helps that the original quote is from Aldo Leopold: “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” (A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There)

  321. Hank Roberts:

    Precaution = ….?

    Rod, have you had a basic ecology course yet? At least you should read the Leopold books and the recent studies along the same lines.
    Or rent the movie ‘Never Cry Wolf’ — Mowat also deals a bit with bogus studies set up to decide what species are ‘important’ — ecology is real. Read some.
    Don’t confuse ecologists with nonscientists who don’t know ecology — eschew bogosity wherever it’s found, it’s the true believers who don’t read the science who lose the important bits without realizing they matter.

    http://www.springerlink.com/index/Y042430138U121J4.pdf
    http://courses.ag.uidaho.edu/aers/agec477/Readings/Ripple%20and%20Beschta%202005.pdf

  322. dhogaza:

    re 307/299: A little off topic, but… the loggers and fishermen losing (a major part of) their line of work and income

    Yes, this always seems to happen when they don’t listen to biologists and the resource disappears.

    My guess is that you’re not aware that the old-growth wars in the Pacific Northwest weren’t about allowing to continue harvesting old-growth indefinitely. It wasn’t, it was whether or not to allow them to liquidate the remaining 5% left, which would’ve taken them about 20 years when the fight began, perhaps 10 when it was over.

    You’re a real pave-the-earth kinda guy at heart, eh?

  323. Michael Peterson:

    Earth first.

    We’ll pave the other planets, later.

  324. Rod B:

    “You’re a real pave-the-earth kinda guy at heart, eh? ”

    No, but stopping development in the NW or AZ because a spotted owl might be somewhere in the vicinity, or doing the same in Austin TX because the micro-ranging cave dwelling pseudo-scorpian (not even a real one at that!) or the little golden-cheeked warbler might want to nest near by is nothing short of stupid. Texas even planned a mass execution of cowbirds to save the GC warbler (eggs).

    There’s nothing wrong with ecology and environmentalism (or anything for that matter) as long as it is kept in mind that there are two ways of doing anything: smart and stupid.

  325. Hank Roberts:

    You confuse ecology (the science) with “environmentalism” (whatever that is, it’s not science).
    That’s the point people are trying to make, and it’s where the manipulation of curves and figures by politically bent people to misrepresent scientific information is so very common.

    “Biologically rational decisions may not be politically possible once investment has occurred.

    “… A conservative (precautionary) TAC, leaving a safety margin for natural fluctuations and unanticipated food web interactions, is needed to prevent overfishing and overinvestment. For adaptive management, data on ecosystem status, indicator species’ populations over time, and food web interactions are needed to build quantitative understanding and to inform future management decisions.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/315/5808/45?ijkey=1zdtVq6OaqECw&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

    Illustrating what you’re not yet understanding, that the choice at the present rate of extinction will usually be the third way — the ‘we don’t know what would be smart, but we sure do know what is likely to be stupid” approach.

  326. Chuck Booth:

    Re 318 smart vs stupid

    Golden-cheeked Warblers are an endangered species (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden-cheeked_Warbler). Brown-headed Cowbirds, on the other hand, are not endangered – indeed, they have expanded their range in North America (http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Birds/BrownHeadedCowbird.htm) and parasitize the nests of at least 144 bird species. In other words, they have become a nuisance in many parts of the U.S., so extermination may not be unwarranted, just as deer are often exterminated in areas where their population is out of control.

    I assume your silly remark about an endangered pseudoscorpion in Texas caves was facetious, yes? In point of fact, despite its name, it is another endangered species that has just as much right to exist as any “real” scorpion, which is why it is protected by Federal and state Endangered Species Acts (http://www.texasento.net/TXendsp.htm ; http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/tpseudoscorpion/). According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife, “The primary threat to the Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion and other endangered cave invertebrates is the loss of habitat due to urban development. Many caves have been paved over or filled in. Other caves have been altered so that they no longer provide the stable temperatures and high humidity needed to support these animals. Contamination by pollutants is also a threat to their survival.” In the case to which you are probably referring, there are actually a number of rare or endangered cave-dwelling species (Bee Creek Cave Harvestman, Bone Cave Harvestman, Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion, Tooth Cave Spider, Tooth Cave Ground Beetle and the Krestschmarr Cave Mold Beetle)whose protection (in accordance with Texas and Federal Law) is holding up development of a 215-acre parcel near that city with an estimated property value of $60 million (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_29_16/ai_63986800). I guess if you feel strongly that people have a right to get rich by exploiting the natural environment without concern for the plants and animals that are integral components of natural ecosystems this case seems rather ridiculous. But, a lot of people would disagree with you.

    Sorry for drifting off topic again.

  327. Rod B:

    re 319: Hank says, “That’s the point “people” are trying to make”

    I don’t think so, though it may be your point. I pretty much agree what you say here — it clearly smacks of an intelligent approach to ecology and environmentalism (which many/most improperly don’t make much of a distinction…)

  328. Rod B:

    re 320: “Cowbirds….have become a nuisance [to endangered species]….so extermination may not be unwarranted,….”

    and this is not upsetting the natural balance because….?

    “…silly remark about…pseudoscorpion…that has just as much right to exist…”

    Yes, I was poking fun at its “pseudo-” name. Relax.
    …and it got its inalienable right from where again????? Or is it just as much right to exist as the developer???

    “…you feel…people have a right to…[exploit] the natural environment without concern for the plants and animals that are integral [to...] natural ecosystems… — is ridiculous…”

    I think people definitely have a right, bestowed by nature, to exploit the environment with reasonable and intelligent concern for the other stuff integral to…and the long-term consequences to ecosystems. Not doing so would be ridiculous.

    I feel this is relevant to the thread, but would take way to much time to make my case.

  329. Nick Gotts:

    Re #322 [re 320: “Cowbirds….have become a nuisance [to endangered species]….so extermination may not be unwarranted,….”

    and this is not upsetting the natural balance because….?]

    …there isn’t one. If there ever was (most ecologists would recognise that change is the rule rather than the exception at all temporal scales) there are now practically no ecosystems that have not been fairly fundamentally altered by human action. That doesn’t undermine the grounds for attempting to slow the processes of change, and in particular to protect vulnerable species (there is no doubt whatever that human action has enormously increased the rate of species extinction). The grounds are both practical (we don’t know what use to us a particular species is now, or may be in future), and moral, esthetic and scientific. If you can’t see it’s wrong to reduce the beauty and variety of the world, or the chance to learn more about it, without a very good reason, I doubt I can convince you; I can only promise to oppose you.

  330. Niemand:

    Looking forward to your commentary on Hansen & Siddall 2007, Phil. Trans. Royal Soc.
    Not because of the mixed axes labels. What’s new in it? Does it provide new arguments or evidence that Antarctic and/or Greenland ice will melt more and/or faster than IPCC expects? Or is the high uncertainty around that unchanged, so we can hold to the lower IPCC guesstimates for this century?

  331. Hank Roberts:

    The full text is online;
    Climate change and trace gases
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2007) 365, 1925-1954
    doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2052 Published online 18 May 2007

    On p. 1935 you’ll find your question answered.

    Off topic here, though.

  332. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[re 320: “Cowbirds….have become a nuisance [to endangered species]….so extermination may not be unwarranted,….”
    and this is not upsetting the natural balance because….?
    ]]

    Because the expansion of the cowbirds is not their natural population level. That’s why they have become a menace to the endangered species.

  333. Burkart:

    Hi Stefan,

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Beck has given the source of his curve. It is in fact a sine curve, regular by definition. Beck argues that this is an acceptable simplification, as the curve was meant for demonstration purposes only.

    Quite frightening, actually, that he attained such media attention in such a short time with such obvious nonsense.

  334. Hank Roberts:

    You can look this stuff up, rather than divert the topic. It’d lead you to questioning the wisdom of common practices.
    “Cowbird parasitism probably is not responsible for the continent-wide declines of many North American songbird species…. cowbird control is a short-term solution that ignores the real problem of habitat degradation as a result of agriculture, grazing and development.” http://www.audubon.org/bird/research/images/ncac.jpg

  335. Nick Gotts:

    Re #328. http://www.audubon.org/bird/research/ is actually the article – the URL given just gives you a small image. Here’s another quote:

    “Scientists caution against diverting limited human and financial resources to cowbirds and neglecting the root causes of why species are at-risk. Scientists, however, support limited control to help restore local populations of Threatened or Endangered species.”

  336. Chuck Booth:

    Re 328 Hank, I think the following link has the information to which you were referring:
    http://www.audubon.org/bird/research/

    I will no longer post on this topic – I promise. I’m much more interested in Beck’s attempts to mislead his followers.

  337. Mike:

    What about http://www.nzclimatescience.org/images/PDFs/archibald2007.pdf and its projections of CO2 induced warming?
    What about solar cycle 24? It seems to be some uncertainly yet…

  338. Chuck Booth:

    Re 331 Link to conference presentation by David Archibald
    He states:
    “The 100 ppm carbon dioxide increase since the beginning of
    industrialisation has been responsible for an average increase in plant growth rate of 15% odd. [sic] The 50% increase in plant growth rate due to a 300 ppm increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide can be expected about the middle of the next century. What a wonderful time that will be.”

    What a wonderful time, indeed- I can only hope I’ll be around to expericence it!

    By the way, who is David Archibald?

  339. Hank Roberts:

    He’s mentioned here: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/05/spiked_at_it_again.php

  340. Jim Eager:

    Re 331 Mike: “What about http://www.nzclimatescience.org/images/PDFs/archibald2007.pdf and its projections of CO2 induced warming?”

    What about it?
    Read through it and it’s clearly just a rehash of the same old nonsense, complete with graphs similar to Beck’s:
    * medieval warm period was far warmer than today
    * sun spot cycle & solar forcing are driving the current warming
    * speculation that the next two solar cycles will lead to cooling
    * understates the role of CO2
    * no mention what so ever of H2O, methane, albedo change or other amplifiers/feedbacks
    * increased CO2 is good for plants; quote: “What a wonderful time that will be.”

    In other words, Archibald is an Australian Beck.

  341. Ryan Stephenson:

    Very naughty. However, it seems that AGW proponents aren’t averse to bending the rules of plotting graphs to get their point across.

    The Wikipedia version:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Co2-temperature-plot.svg

    Real Climate version:

    http://www.realclimate.org/epica.jpg

    Neither of these graphs show the lag of 1000years of the CO2 following the temperature. Nevertheless, it exists. As do a numbger of other anomolies that call in to question the accuracy of the AGW theory. Why is is not shown on any of these graphs? Because some sort of running averager has been applied to the data to smooth out the spikes and the time lag. That, however, doesn’t stop AGW proponents from adding a spike for the present day, despite the fact that the data for the present was collected by different means and with a resolution that is averaged over the periods for the ice core.

    Both sides are playing games with the data, which is why I remain agnostic on the issue. Why should I believe either side, when both sides are proven liars?

    Another ice-age will come and Britain will be wiped off the face of the earth. That much we KNOW. Anything else is just speculation.

    [Response: You are mistaken. Both of those graphs are on the correct timescales (within uncertainties) and if you were to blow them up at the resolution sufficient to see an 800 year lag at Termination II, they would be there. However, you do not immediately perceive it because they are graphs of 650,000 years of results – an 800 year lag is just over 1/1000th of the scale of the graph – less than the width of the lines. What it demonstrates clearly is the minor importance of the lag when looking at signals that are 10,000 year and higher oscillations. PS. Given our understanding of CFCs and their tremendous greenhouse potential, there is very little chance that a new ice age will be allowed to happen while industrial societies exist. To use that (which in any case is not due for another 30 or 50,000 years) as a reason not to be concerned about the human addition of CO2 is to completely miss the point. – gavin]

  342. Ray Ladbury:

    Ryan, 650 thousand years are represented in about 8.5 inches if viewed at highest resolution–and you claim you could pick that out of the graph? You remain unconvinced because you remain ignorant. That’s OK. Ignorance is 100% curable. Willful ignorance is unforgivable.
    Look at who has urged action on climate change:
    http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensus.htm

    Now look at the fact that the so-called skeptics are relying on obscure, dishonest highschool teachers as experts. How can you compare the two sides. One is science. The other is pure PR and obfuscation.

  343. SteveF:

    r.e. #335

    Being smugly pedantic, Britain is unlikely to be wiped off the map by a coming ice age. Only during the last event (the Devensian) and MIS12 (Anglian) did ice reach far enough to cover most of the country. Anglian ice came furthest south, reaching North London.

    Scotland and Wales would be buggered though.

  344. Neutral Existence:

    I didnt notice that tic mark at first.

    Its ashame how people want to fool the public into thinking that the way we are living right now is just great for the environment. It reminds me of the doctors promoting smoking back in the 70s.

    Lets all just do our part and Stop Global Warming!

  345. Ryan Stephenson:

    It is not the point that the graphs are not correct – it is the point that they are misleading at first sight. Even to the point where the vertical scale does not start at zero – hence at first sight the current CO2 levels are 100% higher than previous peaks when in fact it is 30%.

    A less misleading graph of the EPICA data, showing the lags, various points of inflexion in the T curve that are subsequently shown in the CO2 curve, CO2 rising with no observable impact on T, linear increase of T when exponential rise of T would be expected if CO2 were feeding back into the climate, can be found here:-

    http://www.answers.com/topic/co2-temperature-plot-png

    [Response: Actually I disagree. The age scales for the Vostok and Epica are not aligned – therefore the apparent difference between T and CO2 is an artifact. Leads and lags can only be determined on equivalent timescales, which due to the uncertainties in the ice age- gas age difference, is actually very hard to do. Caillion et al (the paper from where the ’800 year’ number comes from) show that process clearly. It is not derivable from a naive visual inspection. Thus your linked graph is fundamentally more misleading. Sorry. – gavin]

  346. Ryan Stephenson:

    “Being smugly pedantic, Britain is unlikely to be wiped off the map by a coming ice age[.....] Scotland and Wales would be buggered though”

    Being equally smugly pedantic, Finland struggles to support a population of some 4million people. Britain currently has a population of 60million. We produce 60% of our own food in the UK, the rest we import. Any ideas how we could feed 60million people in a country knee deep in snow that refuses to grow any crops that we have today and where the rest of the world is struggling with the same problems?

    Vast areas of land in continental Europe, Russia and North America will become unproductive in the next ice age.

    Another ice-age will definitely be more difficult to cope with than global warming. Guaranteed. And you only need to look at the EPICA data to see it could happen tomorrow.

  347. Ryan Stephenson:

    Really Gavin? That would mean that the temperature data from EPICA was shifted by thousands of years relative to the Vostok data. Look at the peaks between CO2 and T between the two graphs – in the EPICA data they are not coincident but in the Wikipedia Vosto graph they ARE coincident.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Co2-temperature-plot.svg

    So what you are saying is that the timescale for the two graphs cannot be relied upon to give coincident readings because they are two different sources of data. That would mean an inaccuracy in the case of Vostok vs EPICA at 320000 years of a staggering 10,000 years. Well, if it was that inaccurate it wouldn’t be much help to anyone would it? Do you really believe what you have just told me?

    Well, if you do, it is time to set you straight. You see the graphs from Wikipedia are sourced from data held at the NOAA, and we can take a look at what really happens to the maxima for the two charts. The Vostok deuterium (temperature) data is here:

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/deutnat.txt

    And it shows a deuterium (temperature) maxima at 333,000 years

    The Vostok CO2 data is here:

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/co2nat.txt

    And it shows a CO2 maxima at 323,000 years. So the Vostok data IS NOT different from the EPICA temperature data. The CO2 spike really is 10,000 years AFTER the T spike. The Wikipedia graph has been massaged so this difference does not show, and is NOT a plot of the raw data, although that is the clear implication by linking the graph to its sources.

    The graph here reflects the raw data more accurately:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/co2-temperature-plot-png

    But I can quite understand why proponents of global warming theory would prefer this graph to go away. I notice that the Wikipedia chart has drawn some criticism on the discussion page, which is tainted by the politics of AGW. But the science should stick to the facts.

    [Response: The relevant science is this: timescales on ice cores are uncertain – at least +/- 10,000 years as you go back to 400,000 BC. Therefore independent timescales (as plotted in your favorite graph) cannot be used to resolve leads and lags of under a thousand years. If you plot the Vostok and EPICA deuterium on the same timescales as above, they would indeed be offset by thousands of years which is clearly not correct. So to determine leads and lags you need to align the timescales (using CH4, 10Be, volcanic markers etc.) before you start. Absolute timescales are extremely difficult with this age of ice. – gavin]

  348. Barton Paul Levenson:

    [[Another ice-age will definitely be more difficult to cope with than global warming. Guaranteed. And you only need to look at the EPICA data to see it could happen tomorrow. ]]

    It could not happen tomorrow. Ice ages are governed by the Milankovic cycles of Earth’s eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession. By those cycles, we are indeed descending into another ice age, but not for another 20,000 years. It could NOT happen tomorrow.

    And the global warming so far has probably prevented it from happening again for far longer than that. Remember that ice ages are not a constant feature of Earth history. They only happen in a few eras (the Huronian and Vendian glaciations, and the Pleistocene/Holocene).

  349. Ryan Stephenson:

    I cannot find any science paper on the web that points to an error of more than 5000 years. These two maxima are 10,000 years apart.

    An attempt was made recently to claim that the ice in the more recent ice-cores is actually 800 years in error, thus making the curves coincident and disposing of the claim that there was an 800 year lag. But here we have a 10,000 year lag. Now you are telling me that when it suits you there is a 10,000 year error.

    This isn’t science. This is cherry picking data to fit a theory. The error becomes “whatever error correction is needed to get the curve to fit the theory IS the required error correction”.

    How about this for a theory:

    When we were in the middle of an ice age, 2/3rds more of the planet was covered with ice than today. There was little opportunity for CO2 to be present in the atmosphere. Due to changes in Earths orbit, the ice retreated. But not right away, because it takes ENORMOUS amounts of energy to turn ice into water. Thus it was a long time before fresh land was exposed and released methane which broke down to CO2. That delay is what we see in the ice core record. CO2 follows T and there is no evidence of CO2 forcing T

    Can you really argue with that, just based on the ice-core data? I suspect not. Because even from your position, there is so much possibiity of error in the timescales that you really can’t find evindence of ANYTHING from these ice cores. They are meaningless. Thus any attempt to suggest ice-core data is evidence of AGW is false. There isn’t enough accuracy to permit such a conclusion. It doesn’t stop proponents using the ice-core data for their own arguments though.

    Thus I no longer believe in AGW. I used to be a firm believer, but I have become very skeptical about the way proponents of AGW use the data they obtain. They don’t even question the data unless someone attacks what they are saying. That is bad science. And thats before you get to the environmentalists telling me I mustn’t use my car to take my kids to school when domestic car use in the UK contributes just 5% of CO2 emissions.

    Pscychologists have this mantra: “An escalating commitment to a particular (failed) course of action”. This is what I smell here.

    [Response: I’m extremely puzzled as to what point you trying to make. I am not disputing that Milankovitch forcing is the driver for the ice ages and CO2 follows along. I would add that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and therefore feeds back on the temperature changes but, as is often said, correlation doesn’t causation, so that isn’t determinable from the ice core data alone. However, when people talk about leads and lags they are discussing relative dating, not absolute dates. Thus in the work of Caillon et al (2003) – please read it, you’ll learn a lot – they compare records that are both on the gas age timescale so that there aren’t any ambiguities of absolute dating. The error bars they find are still large – a few 100 years, and so the lag is only barely detectable. But none of this is detectable in the data you point too because the absolute errors are much larger than any possible lag. To get a sense for what goes into making the age model, read this recent paper: http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/3/575/2007/cpd-3-575-2007.html and for trying to pin down the lag even further read this one: http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/3/435/2007/cpd-3-435-2007.html . PS. None of this has any particular relevance for global warming. – gavin]

  350. Ryan Stephenson:

    Gavin- it doesn’t have relevance for AGW other than ice core data is used to support global warming theory.

    The errors estimated for the period of interest are 4K years, so that still doesn’t get the peaks coincidentv (but then you have a problem, since most of the chart will happily be coincidnet with only 1000 years of shifting, bearing in mind that Milankovich forcing must be the motivation behind temperature change and CO2 can only follow it or be coincident with it). But even if we played fast and lose with the graphs and shifted the two arbitrarily so the maxima of T and CO2 at 333K years WERE coincident, we would still have a problem – because it would be apparent that the Milankovitch forcing cares not one jot about the extra CO2 in the atmosphere and forces an ice-age regardless of its presence.

    It would be difficult, therefore, to insist that excess CO2 in the atmosphere has any impact on the climate, at least from these ice core charts.

    [Response: Ice age data is indeed used to support GW theory, because you can show that the degree of cooling seen is completely consistent with the standard climate sensitivity, the changes in GHGs (CO2, CH4, N2O) and the change in albedo from ice sheets and vegetation changes. But why do you think that standard theory implies that something else should be seen in the ice core results? The driving forces (Milankovitch) have time scales much longer than the response time of CO2 to climate or vice versa and even the simplest of toy models will tell you that you expect a very strong correlation (as seen), regardless of the value of climate sensitivity to increased CO2. The amplitude of changes however, does depend strongly on the sensitivity and that is what is used to validate ideas on sensitivity (see: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-plus-a-change/ for a discussion). – gavin]

  351. Hank Roberts:

    Gavin, the latter two 2007 papers are very helpful.
    (Ryan, you understand _why_ the ice core data isn’t immediately relevant? What humans are causing now is not what happened previously.)

    Ryan, to encourage you to read the papers:
    This is from the latter paper Gavin pointed to; the mirror site will have the image for 24 hours.

    http://pdfdownload.bofd.net/070712/tmp-FSIn86/1732967028.png

    See the green line comparing the apparent age found in the two interpretations? Note “today” is at the left side; the more recent data is less variable.

    Ryan, you _really_ ought to read this — if your question is based on your own understanding of the science these articles will improve it.

    If you’re bringing the question here because you’re reading it elsewhere, and someone you trust and believe is saying it’s a good question, tell us where you’re getting it so we can look at _your_ sources, eh?

  352. David B. Benson:

    Ryan — The essential fact is that carbon dioxide is an important so-called greenhouse gas. (See, for example, the link on the sidebar to the AIP history of climaltology.) Humans have been adding excess, fossil carbon to the atmosphere for the past 250 years or more. (Read Ruddiman’s popular book about the ‘or more’.) Humans have especially added lots of excess carbon to the atmosphere for the past 50 years.

    Therefore it is too warm and will get worse. Irrespective of the ice records.