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G8 summit declaration

Filed under: — stefan @ 8 June 2007

We assume that many of our readers will be interested in the declaration of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm (Germany), which was agreed yesterday by the leaders of the G8 countries. We therefore document the key passages on climate change below. As usual we refrain from a political analysis, but as scientists we note that it is rewarding to see that the results of climate science are fully acknowledged by the heads of state.

The declaration states:

CLIMATE CHANGE

48. We take note of and are concerned about the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The most recent report concluded both, that global temperatures are rising, that this is caused largely by human activities and, in addition,that for increases in global average temperature, there are projected to be major changes in ecosystem structure and function with predominantly negative consequences for biodiversity and ecosystems, e.g. water and food supply.

Fighting Climate Change

49. We are therefore committed to taking strong and early action to tackle climate change in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Taking into account the scientific knowledge as represented in the recent IPCC reports, global greenhouse gas emissions must stop rising, followed by substantial global emission reductions. In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050. We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour.

50. As climate change is a global problem, the response to it needs to be international. We welcome the wide range of existing activities both in industrialised and developing countries. We share a long-term vision and agree on the need for frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade. Complementary national, regional and global policy frameworks that co-ordinate rather than compete with each other will strengthen the effectiveness of the measures. Such frameworks must address not only climate change but also energy security, economic growth, and sustainable development objectives in an integrated approach. They will provide important orientation for the necessary future investment decisions.

51. We stress that further action should be based on the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. We reaffirm, as G8 leaders, our responsibility to act. We acknowledge the continuing leadership role that developed economies have to play in any future climate change efforts to reduce global emissions, so that all countries undertake effective climate commitments tailored to their particular situations. We recognise however, that the efforts of developed economies will not be sufficient and that new approaches for contributions by other countries are needed. Against this background, we invite notably the emerging economies to address the increase in their emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of their economic development. Action of emerging economies could take several forms, such as sustainable development policies and measures, an improved and strengthened clean development mechanism, the setting up of plans for the sectors that generate most pollution so as to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions compared with a business as usual scenario.

52. We acknowledge that the UN climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. We are committed to moving forward in that forum and call on all parties to actively and constructively participate in the UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia in December 2007 with a view to achieving a comprehensive post 2012-agreement (post Kyoto-agreement) that should include all major emitters.

53. To address the urgent challenge of climate change, it is vital that major economies that use the most energy and generate the majority of greenhouse gas emissions agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008 which would contribute to a global agreement under the UNFCCC by 2009. We therefore reiterate the need to engage major emitting economies on how best to address the challenge of climate change. We embrace efforts to work with these countries on long term strategies. To this end, our representatives have already met with the representatives of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa in Berlin on 4 May 2007. We will continue to meet with high representatives of these and other major energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting countries to consider the necessary components for successfully combating climate change. We welcome the offer of the United States to host such a meeting later this year. This major emitters’ process should include, inter alia, national, regional and international policies, targets and plans, in line with national circumstances, an ambitious work program within the UNFCCC, and the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology. This dialogue will support the UN climate process and report back to the UNFCCC.


455 Responses to “G8 summit declaration”

  1. 201

    Well I will start by saying that I’m not a scientist and cant provide any physical data to show anything about the climate change, but I’m very concern soon to be father of 3 and try to read and watch as much as I can about it.
    But I thought it would be a good idea to post this link to a video I saw about the risk involved.
    I for 1 choose column A because Ive read a lot about climate change and from what I can read is that the planet is heating and climate is changing

    Simple math about what to do about climate change

    and because every1 is talking about how much money it will cost to act I thought this is a good stats to ” (I mean steel, because no matter what I try I just cant remember where from)

    USA spends >= $ on military as European Union + Russia + China

  2. 202
    Hank Roberts says:

    >200
    Doesn’t anybody screen these troll calls?

  3. 203
    Rod B says:

    Chuck (172): same ole, same ole (like admittedly is my retort). I wish you guys would quit boiling down the science to the idolatry of peer review and a great majority of a vote.

  4. 204
    Ike Solem says:

    RE# 192 and the shrinking arctic sea ice
    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/arcticice_decline.html

    Click on the image to see a movie of the trend in sea ice from 1979 to 2005. The trend towards less and less sea ice is very evident – look at the large open channel between the ice and Siberia in 2005.

    The models have been underestimating the rate at which sea ice is vanishing:
    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20070430_StroeveGRL.html

    What’s even more remarkable is the rate at which perennial ice is being lost – part of this is due to wind piling up the ice on the Greenland side of the Arctic – but if the ice cap as a whole is thinning, it should be easier for the wind to do that:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060914-arctic-ice.html

    See also
    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2006/2006-10-04-02.asp
    The researchers said one of the most notable features of the 2006 season was the development of a large polynya – an area of persistent open water surrounded by sea ice – that is visible north of Alaska. Calculations show that in early September, the polynya was the size of the state of Indiana, a huge feature never seen in the Arctic before. Unusual wind patterns and an influx of warmer ocean waters may have caused the polynya to form, the researchers said.

    Predicitons of the effects of global warming made decades ago are all arriving, often before predicted. Vanishing mountain glaciers and melting polar caps? Check. Increased water vapor feedback? Check. (see the RC article Busy Week For Water Vapor – which has a very interesting comment section, with participation by various authors.

  5. 205
    Rod B says:

    following up on my latest post/quibble: John (173), now that’s what I’m talking about! Don’t know if you’re fully convincing, but I do appreciate your learned and patient answer to “climate skeptic?”

  6. 206
    Timothy Chase says:

    Arctic Ice Cap as Early as September 2020?

    Ken Rushton (#192) wrote:

    Arctic Ice cap about to shrink to a new record?
    Excuse the slightly OT alert. My hobby is watching the earth from space – I think the thinning Arctic ice cap just got hit with an unusually warm vortex of air and is about to melt back to a new record.
    see: the following three links.
    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/seaice/hires/nh.xml
    http://pm-esip.msfc.nasa.gov/amsu/index.phtml?2
    Run back three days to see what happened:
    http://virga.sfsu.edu/scripts/nhemjetstream_model.html

    No comment necessary…

    Arctic sea ice is melting much more quickly than projected by even the most advanced computer models, a new government funded study has found. Comparing actual ice observations with climate models, the scientists conclude that the Arctic could be seasonally free of sea ice as early as 2020….

    The study, “Arctic Sea Ice Decline: Faster Than Forecast?” will appear Tuesday in the online edition of “Geophysical Research Letters.” It was led by Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and funded by the National Science Foundation and by NASA.

    Arctic Ice Retreating 30 Years Ahead of Projections
    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-30-04.asp

  7. 207
    Ike Solem says:

    RE#147 Dan, I think there is good evidence for malfeasance at NOAA, and your explanation that ‘the climate normals are always updated’ doesn’t fit.

    The climate normal periods, defined by the WMO, would be: 1901-1930, 1931-1960, 1961-1990 and the next one would be 1991-2020. The use of such ‘normals’ was also defined before anyone knew about global warming.

    The fact that NOAA decided to jump to a 1971-2000 baseline remains unexplained, and is highly suspicious. It has the effect of reducing the reported temperature anomalies in NOAA anomaly datasets, thereby giving the appearance of reduced temperature anomalies, relative to the 1961-1990 baseline.

    The fact that they’ve pulbished a document titled U.S. Climate Normals, 1971-2000: An Updated Baseline for Risk Management seems to indicate that they were manipulating data to provide economic protection for the weather risk insurance sector, doesn’t it?

    Furthermore, this was done in a fairly secretive manner – I only noticed it because the temperature anomalies reported by the Australian BOM (available here) didn’t match the ones produced by NOAA.

    This issue needs more explanation, since the next official normal period is 1991-2020. The fact of the matter is that the climate is changing, and so it’s understandable why weather forecasters might want more recent normal datasets. However, for the climate issue, climate change is relative to the historical baseline which streches back centuries.

    The fact of the matter is that NOAA has been using these updated anomalies in their climate reports, which certainly looks like tampering with data for political purposes.

    If you keep changing what the definition of ‘normal’ is, and then claim that ‘anomalies haven’t changed much in thirty years’ – well – I hope it’s clear that that’s a nonsensical argument. You can’t claim that since deviation from the mean hasn’t changed, nothing is happening – when at the same time you keep changing your definition of ‘mean’!

  8. 208
    John Mashey says:

    re: Carbon tax

    The idea of a carbon tax is dandy … but one needs to read the fine print:

    1) NUMBERS MATTER:
    According to Wikipedia,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax says:

    $100 tax/ton of CO2 = ~$1 per gallon of gasoline.
    A tax of $2/ton (of CO2, assuming that was as suggested in #178), yields the powerful incentive of $.02/gallon tax …

    an outcome that would cause jubilation in oil companies, including those in Canada:
    “Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States–providing 17% of U.S. oil imports and 18% of U.S. natural gas demand.”
    http://ottawa.usembassy.gov/content/textonly.asp?section=can_usa&document=canusarelations
    Recall that Canada (and Russia) are rarities amongst developed countries:
    a) Have big oil&gas reserves, make $$$$ from exports.
    b) Have cool-cold climates, and land Northward.
    c) Have relatively small fraction of population living on seacoasts.

    Hence, there are quite plausible motivations for many Canadians to have different viewpoints on GW than those of us who live on coastlines further South.

    2) FORMULA MATTERS
    Anyway, any carbon tax would have to be carefully designed, both in the specific numbers and the formula. Exponential growth rates always need care, as humans don’t don’t intuit them very well, ie.., why people usually over-estimate near-term technology and underestimate long-term.

    If I were an oil company executive, which of the following would I want:
    a) a linear formula, that starts high to affect behavior, and then goes higher and
    b) an exponential formula that starts low, and later goes very high, and hence defers the costs as long as possible, i.e., it is really back-loaded.

    Oil exec: a) might hurt me next quarter, affecting my bonus, but I can be retired before b) really bothers me.

    3) LAG TIME MATTERS

    Given the lag time between adding extra CO2 and seeing the resultant temperature rise, I’d suggest that if effective carbon taxes can be held off until we’ve already gone up 3-5C … I’m glad I won’t be around to see it.

    Now, can anybody see why certain people might suggest this?

  9. 209
    Jim Eager says:

    Re: 196 Jim Cripwell: “I can assure you that global temperatures are not going to rise; by 2020 they will be seen to be falling; by 2015 they will be seen to be not rising as fast as the IPCC predicts.”

    You will forgive me if I in no way feel reassured.
    Perhaps if you could present anywhere near the amount of data in support of your assertions as the IPCC has, but not before then.

  10. 210
    pat n says:

    Re: 179, 183

    An interview with renowned climate scientist James Hansen
    By Kate Sheppard
    15 May 2007

    A molecule of CO2 from coal, in a certain sense, is different from one from oil or gas, because in the case of oil and gas, it doesn’t matter too much when you burn it, because a good fraction of it’s going to stay there 500 years anyway. If we wait to use the coal until after we have the sequestration technology, then we could prevent that contribution. I don’t think that has sunk in yet to policy makers, because there are many countries going right ahead and making plans to build more coal-fired power plants.

    Grist: Main Dish
    Clarion Caller

    http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2007/05/15/hansen/index.html?source=daily

  11. 211
    Dan says:

    re: 203. Until you learn and understand the fundamentals (such as the fact that rigorous peer-review is the foundation for all good science; always has been and always will be) and stop making up and repeating nonsense like science is some kind of “vote”, you really have no grounds to stand upon regarding the science of global warming. There is no excuse for the failure to try to learn.

  12. 212
    James says:

    Re #196: [There is a very real danger that our politicians will do something really stupid, like putting in a cap-and-trade policy, or a blanket carbon tax; which could ruin the economy.]

    Now why on earth would doing something like that ruin the economy? Especially if it’s done sensibly, by replacing something like sales taxes or VAT (I forget which you have in Canada)? The first-order net economic effects would be the same, since government would be removing the same amount of money from the economy. In the long term there would be net economic benefits, as it would encourage efficiency.

  13. 213
    Ken Rushton says:

    re: 192. My impression is that the ice extent has remained roughly constant because it’s been sloshing around in a “large bowl” (except where around Iceland of course), and that since thickness is hard to see observers took the null assumption that it did not change. This has also kept the albedo up. But…thinner ice melts quickly, so I’ve been watching for a surprise heat wave to nudge things along, and think we’ve now hit it. The average albedo has just taken a big drop, and will drop much more next week.

    The other impression I have is that the Gulf Stream seems to have increased in strength, and is travelling much farther northeast before downwelling. See Sea Surface temp. anomaly
    The coastal waters off of Eastern North America have been colder than average for 5+ years, and the ocean north of Europe is getting progressively warmer. (Note-the downwelling points significantly cool because they are a ice/seawater mix).

    Can anyone offer independent evidence to the two above observations?

    Further, add to the alert that southern Greenland is warmer than I’ve ever seen it in June. (see: AMU Realtime)

  14. 214
    pat n says:

    Re: 211

    Peer-review work on climate and hydrologic change was a non-starter at NOAA’s NWS. NWS said it was beyond the time frame of the NWS mission. That didn’t make sense to me because I felt that climate change should be considered in hydrologic research, development, calibration, spring flood outlooks and even operational river forecasting. It still makes no sense to me.

  15. 215
    Rod B says:

    Dan (re 211), you evidently didn’t read Chuck’s post (173) or a jillion others like it. It’s not my nonsense that (some) of you guys claim a large majority opinion determines the science. Then you refute my criticism of making peer review a sacrosanct idol by simply asserting it is: “…peer-review is the foundation for all good science…” — Wow! that sounds pretty high on the list to me.

  16. 216
    Timothy Chase says:

    John Mashey (#208) wrote:

    $100 tax/ton of CO2 = ~$1 per gallon of gasoline.
    A tax of $2/ton (of CO2, assuming that was as suggested in #178), yields the powerful incentive of $.02/gallon tax …

    an outcome that would cause jubilation in oil companies, including those in Canada:
    “Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States–providing 17% of U.S. oil imports and 18% of U.S. natural gas demand.”
    http://ottawa.usembassy.gov/content/textonly.asp?section=can_usa&document=canusarelations
    Recall that Canada (and Russia) are rarities amongst developed countries:
    a) Have big oil&gas reserves, make $$$$ from exports

    If I were an oil company executive, which of the following would I want:
    a) a linear formula, that starts high to affect behavior, and then goes higher and
    b) an exponential formula that starts low, and later goes very high, and hence defers the costs as long as possible, i.e., it is really back-loaded.

    Such would appear to be the case. The oil sands industry has been successful in lobbying Ottawa to have “intensity-based targets” rather than caps, cutting emissions per barrel by 20% on what for the nation thought to be the world’s second largest supply of oil. (Saudi Arabia I believe comes first.)

    … separating the tar-like bitumen from the sand and converting it into refinery-ready synthetic crude oil is energy intensive. The Canadian government and the oil industry admit emissions of carbon dioxide will increase as new plants are brought on stream.

    To accommodate the industry’s growth, Ottawa said in April it would use intensity-based targets to govern allowable emissions. Those targets, which mandate cuts on a per-barrel-produced basis rather than fixed goals, will cut emissions by 20 percent per barrel from 2006 levels by 2020, the government said.

    Lax CO2 Targets a Boon for Canada Oil Patch – Study
    CANADA: June 7, 2007
    http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42452/story.htm

    You are from Ottawa, aren’t you Jim?

  17. 217
    John Mashey says:

    re: #205 Rod B thanks … although it was just simple Googling, not very learned.

    re: #203 I don’t think there’s any idolatry of peer review, especially those of us who actually participate in it! (more below*)

    ======
    Voting: science issues rarely(*) get settled by voting, but in any case, when people say there’s a consensus around something, you should take that as a *data point* not as a vote. If 99 doctors tell you “If you don’t stop smoking, it will go badly for you”, and one says “Don’t worry about it”, you can say “there’e controversy.” If it turns out the one also does astrology on the side or gets paid by RJ Reynolds, this is worth knowing (and is not ad hominem, but rational evaluation of credibility).

    =====
    *Peer review:

    a) is a royal pain.
    It’s a whole lot easier just to whip up something and stick it on a web page.

    b) is a lot of work.
    If you are an Editor (or run a conference Program Committee), you have to recruit knowledgable reviewers with no obvious conflicts (authors and reviewers are humans), within a reasonable timeframe, and chase them to get the reviews.

    If you are a reviewer, you may have to spend substantial time reading and doing at least some checkout, and you do not necessarily get a lot of credit, compared to generating your own publications or doing your day job. You do it because it contributes to the profession, not for glory.

    If you are an author, sometimes you submit a paper, it takes a long time for the reviews to come back, and then they all zap you, which is not fun.

    Sometimes reviews are wildly mixed (and this is one place where a semblance of voting may be going on, as it often does in selection of papers for conferences.)
    A colleague and I once wrote a paper for a conference, and got back 4 reviews:
    2: terrific! accept.
    1: boring: reject
    1: topic irrelevant to this conference: reject
    Which yielded: reject.
    It turned out the topic *was* extensively debated at the conference, and later the paper was twice solicited by editors and published in several forms in different magazines.

    c) and doesn’t even get everything right!
    See:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7915
    but also:
    http://www.math.princeton.edu/~wwong/blog/blog200509050634.shtml

    Depending too much on any one paper is not a good idea. The first URL above is mostly about statistics & experimental design problems. Some people claim that every paper involving statistics should be reviewed by statisticians … sounds great, and if one can afford it, do it (or even better, have a PhD Statistics on the team)…. BUT …

    there is this statistical problem with professional statisticians: there aren’t enough of them them around, and they don’t really have the time to review everything, as they have their own work to do.

    The AAAS claims to represent 10M people, and the ASA about 20,000, i.e., about 500:1. At Bell Labs, at one point we had about 20,000 technical people, of which about 40 worked in the statistics research department and one other mostly-statistics department, also about 500:1. Stanford has ~1800 tenure-line faculty, of which I think ~20 are in Statistics, so that’s 90:1.

    Of course, in all these cases, there are plenty of people who are not statisticians but have reasonable backgrounds in it, so it’s not as bad as it sounds, and I claim no strong validity for these numbers.
    Besides statistics, if there is new computer code involved, it should probably be reviewed by good numerical analysts and software engineers. I’d guess a lot of the papers published should be reviewed by 5-10 people to cover everything … but this just isn’t going to happen … and to be honest, it’s better to get plausible checking of papers reasonably quickly, and get results out there, as errors will get caught sooner or later, and results will either get confirmed or disconfirmed over time.

    The best way to slow research to a halt is to raise the bar to the point where publication is glacially slow… and I suspect some people would like that to happen to climate science :-)

    SO: why do we do peer review, given all this?

    Because we haven’t yet found a better way, not because we worship it…

  18. 218
    Dan says:

    re: 215. Yes, agreed, it is your nonsense. Again, science is not based on a “vote” or tally. Your use of words such as “idolatry” and “sacrosanct” clearly reflects a direct insult at the scientific method and that pursuit of knowledge in general. Or a troll. Simply astounding. And again, there is not excuse whatsoever for failure to try to learn.

  19. 219
    pete best says:

    Re #210, Yes, I have read all of his articles posted at grist and the oil drum and it makes sense to me what he proposes but the technology is not here yet and people need the energy now it would seem. Hansen is getting politically involved because he knows what is involved in getting CO2 levels down avoid AGW above 2 degrees C. The argument with the skeptics is seemingly over now and governments are taking note of the problem but are they really willing to do something about ?

    Where is the energy efficiency drive on automobiles, no legislation means market forces which means educate the masses on climate change, bring out smaller more efficient cars and well as normal ones (choice remember) and hope that people buy them whilst trying to maintain the prices of petrol/gas for them to run on. Not really a recipe for mitigating AGW is it ?

    The same can be said of coal and gas and renewables will come in only when they are economically viable or subsidized and even then I doubt it will fill the gap buecause humanity requires 70% more energy come 2050 to keep the globes materialist aims going.

  20. 220
    Jim Cripwell says:

    James writes “Now why on earth would doing something like that ruin the economy? Especially if it’s done sensibly, by replacing something like sales taxes or VAT (I forget which you have in Canada)? The first-order net economic effects would be the same, since government would be removing the same amount of money from the economy. In the long term there would be net economic benefits, as it would encourage efficiency. ”

    The main, but not the only, problem is the generation of electricity. Here in Canada we enjoy cheap electricity, by world standards. Pretty well all of Nova Scotia’s electricity is produced by coal fired plants. Industry cannot run without copious amounts of electricity. Here in Ontario, our coal fired plants were scheduled to close well before now. The date is postponed until at least 2014, with rumours this will be after 2020. No-one has come up with a viable alternative way of generating the huge amount of cheap electricity we need. Surely the whole point of a carbon tax is to reduce the CO2 emissions. If you force the Canadian electric generating inductry to reduce the emission of CO2, you ruin the economy.

  21. 221
    pat n says:

    Re: #219

    Pete,

    I don’t believe that governments are willing to do something about getting CO2 levels down in trying to avoid AGW above 2 degrees C and catastrophic global warming.

  22. 222
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re Jim Cripwell and hard evidence re anthropogenic GW. I think we’re looking at this backwards (which is how science works — trying to reject the null hypothesis…which I have a really hard time getting across to my students in methodology and stat classes). The questions should be is there any hard evidence that our GHG emissions are NOT causing GW…and at .01 significance. This is because the problems of failing to reject a false null hypothesis are so terrible, compared to rejecting a true null hypothesis (which would even be good for us — inspiring greater enery/resource conservation/efficiency, solving a host of other problems and improving our economy). As a scientist, I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.

    Of course, the actual working scientists doing climate science have already long ago rejected the null hypothesis (acc to peer-reviewed jnl articles), and reports keep coming in about how “it’s worse than we thought,” so we need to address this issue and mitigate GW in every possible way we can conceive. But even if the null hypothesis had not yet been rejected, we really still do need to do the same. The stakes are just too high.

    So, supposing the scientists are wrong (there is a small chance they are wrong — like less than 5%), and we mitigate a non-problem, we’ll be the better off for it. If we fail to mitigate a real human-caused problem, then we may consign the world to terrible harms.

  23. 223
    Burkart says:

    Re 220. How about trying conserving energy? Energy that is conserved does not have to be produced, quite simple. If energy is cheap, people waste it, and only when it becomes more expensive they start to think how they can use energy more efficiently. Canada will have to adapt, that’s for sure, but the economy won’t be ruined. By the way, climate change is not the only reason why economies (and individuals) have to become much more efficient in their use of energy.

  24. 224
    Victoria Wright says:

    its a bit long dont you think

  25. 225
    pete best says:

    Re #221

    I would be careful on the catastrophic AGW, a 2 C rise would not necessarily mean that. As realclimate always tell us, even 3 C is not necessarily catastrophic, it could be serious but what do you mean by catastrophic ?

    To me it means nothing less than an great extinction event. If humans still exist on Earth at 3 C then it is hardly catastrophic is it ?

  26. 226
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. You seem to have a misunderstanding of both peer review and scientific consensus. I would amend what Chuck said and say the peer review is the threshold of good science–and not just peer review prior to publication, but peer review in terms of discussing your research with colleagues and outsiders as well. This is not idolatry, but the result of about 200 years of experience in science.
    And scientific consensus is nothing like a vote, but rather a discussion of questions like “Do the data support hypothesis A or hypothesis B?”, “If the data support hypothesis A, then how strongly can we state hypothesis A without outrunning the support of the data?” Science works–and this is how it works.

  27. 227
    joe says:

    Cripwell said

    “No-one has come up with a viable alternative way of generating the huge amount of cheap electricity we need.”

    What about nuclear power plants? I find it revealing that that same people predicting near term doom with a main culprit being coal burning power plants seem to be the same people who cringe at the idea building new nuclear plants. How am I suppose to keep my three children warm when its 20 below zero…blankets. Do you scientists think we should start replacing coal plants with nuclear plants?

  28. 228
    Rod B says:

    re 217: Voting: what you say is true. My point is that the 99 to 1 vote or consensus does not per se prove the science. 99 saying tobacco causes cancer is, as you say, a strong data point, indicative and interesting, but it is not a scientific proof. My problem is the use by some to prove the science with consensus: a skeptic says “I don’t believe this” gets answered with “But there’s a consensus, so there!”

    Peer Review: what you say is true again, and has been similarly discussed here by some. My problem is the same as above: some claim peer review per se is sufficient proof by itself and is absolute in its determination which makes it an idol — a paper not peer reviewed has zero value; a peer reviewed paper has ultimate authority, (“the foundation of science” no less!

    I have, boringly I’m sure, made these points on RC before, with an intent (in great part) to help my ‘opposition’, the AGW proponents, on the basis that hyperbole, exaggerations, and non sequiturs 1) do not make their case and 2) detract from their credibility.

  29. 229
    Timothy Chase says:

    Ken Rushton (#213) wrote:

    The other impression I have is that the Gulf Stream seems to have increased in strength, and is travelling much farther northeast before downwelling. See Sea Surface temp. anomaly.

    The coastal waters off of Eastern North America have been colder than average for 5+ years, and the ocean north of Europe is getting progressively warmer. (Note-the downwelling points significantly cool because they are a ice/seawater mix).

    Can anyone offer independent evidence to the two above observations?

    The closest I could find something suggesting that the gulf stream has increased in intensity and/or move northerly is the following (unless one counts OilDrum):

    Atmospheric variability in the post-positive NAM era has also favored ice loss [Maslanik et al., 2007] as have changes in Atlantic heat inflow [Polyakov et al., 2005] and the transport of Pacific-derived waters [Shimada et al., 2006].

    Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast
    Julienne Stroeve, Marika M. Holland, Walt Meier, Ted Scambos, and Mark Serreze
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34 (2007)

    However, it makes sense that it would move northerly – it now has to go farther north simply in order to cool enough to begin its descent. As for stronger, this may be related to the increased intensity of hurricanes – where (at least according to one recent paper) hurricanes significantly increase ocean circulation between the tropics and the higher latitudes.

    One of the factors which all models appear to have difficulty modeling is the increased variability of the NAM:

    Modes of atmospheric variability like the NAM are represented with questionable fidelity. While some studies suggest anthropogenic forcing may favor a positive NAM mode [e.g., Gillett et al., 2003], there is evidence that climate models underestimate NAM-like variability [e.g., Gillett, 2005; Stenchikov et al., 2006].

    Most models are missing the level of detail needed to capture the various positive feedback which are causing much of the accelating rate of decline:

    Most models do not parameterize a sub-grid scale ice thickness distribution, which is important for sea ice-related feedbacks [Holland et al., 2006a]. Ocean circulation and vertical structure are often poorly represented [e.g., Tremblay et al., 2007]. Ice-albedo feedback and oceanic heat flux are implicated as critical factors that may cause abrupt reductions in the future Arctic summer ice cover [Holland et al., 2006b]. Notably, the two models that best match observations over the satellite record incorporate relatively sophisticated sea ice models (e.g., with a sub-grid scale ice thickness distribution) [McLaren et al., 2006; Meehl et al., 2006].

    Presumably the “surprising” projection of 2020 is the results from a projected constant absolute loss of ice. However, this isn’t specifically mentioned in the article – unless I missed it.

  30. 230
    Ray Ladbury says:

    joe, #227: Speak for yourself. There is a very lively debate about nuclear power on this very board (much to the chagrin of the moderators). Some advocate nuclear power. Some view it as a necessary evil. Some oppose it and are convinced that we can reduce dependence on fossil fuels through a combination of conservation and renewable energy sources, perhaps with carbon capture thrown in.
    Rod B.–you are constructing a straw man. Nobody suggested peer review has ultimate authority. However, a paper that can’t pass peer review ain’t worth a bucket of warm spit.
    Dissent from the scientific consensus does not automatically detract from a scientist’s authority. However, he or she had better have a good reason for that dissent, since, in effect, it is claiming that the dissenter’s judgement and interpretation of the evidence is superior to that of ALL their peers. I have yet to see a good scientific rationale presented by the dissenters in support of their dissent–and saying, I don’t like the theory, or some myterious equilibrative mechanism will save us, do not constitue scientific defenses.

  31. 231

    [[ 174. If the “debate” has long been settled when it comes to the science of global warming, then how does the study by UC Irving that shows dirty show accounts for almost all artic warming fit in?
    http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=38417
    “Dirty snow has had a significant impact on climate warming since the Industrial Revolution. In the past 200 years, the Earth has warmed about .8 degree Celsius. Zender, graduate student Mark Flanner, and their colleagues calculated that dirty snow caused the Earth’s temperature to rise .1 to .15 degree, or up to 19 percent of the total warming.
    ]]

    Changing the albedo of the Arctic has some effect on world temperature, I’m sure. I’m very doubtful it can have the effect this guy says it does. You do know, don’t you, that a band of latitude occupies less and less space the closer it gets to the poles? Area on a hemisphere is proportionate to 1 – the sine of the latitude. Even if the snow-capped part of the Arctic extended all the way to the 66 degree line (and it doesn’t), it would only account for 9% of the area of one hemisphere. Global warming is an average for the whole world. Do the math.

    And when he says that dirty snow accounts for up to 0.15 K of warming and that this is 19% “of the total warming,” then either he is conflating Arctic warming with world warming, or, more likely, whoever quoted him is. The poles have warmed more than the global average. I don’t think 0.15 K is 19% even of Arctic warming, but I’d have to see the paper to judge.

  32. 232

    [[There is a very real danger that our politicians will do something really stupid, like putting in a cap-and-trade policy, or a blanket carbon tax; which could ruin the economy.]]

    How would that ruin the economy, precisely? It might ruin the fossil fuel industry, but it would give a heck of a boost to the nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, electric car, hybrid, and home energy conservation industries. It’s very difficult to hurt one commodity in a large, diversified economy and ruin that economy. I could believe it if you were talking about ruining the sugar industry in Haiti, but I think the US could survive cap-and-trade on carbon.

    [[And I can assure you that global temperatures are not going to rise; by 2020 they will be seen to be falling; by 2015 they will be seen to be not rising as fast as the IPCC predicts.]]

    And I can assure you that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  33. 233

    [[You can read the UC Irving paper here:]]

    Somebeans, it’s UC “Irvine.” That’s an E at the end, not a G.

  34. 234
    Jim Cripwell says:

    In 209 Jim Eagar writes “You will forgive me if I in no way feel reassured.Perhaps if you could present anywhere near the amount of data in support of your assertions as the IPCC has, but not before then. ”

    I am so glad someone took the bait, and raised the issue of predictions. The advocates of AGW when running their GCMs, always seem to choose a time frame such that no-one can check up on what has been predicted in any reasonable manner. They claim to know, with considerable precision, what is going to happen by 2050, or 2100, when I will be dead anyway; but ask about what will happen in the next five years, and all you get is silence. It does not take a genius to realized that the recent El Nino has gone, and, with the SOI showing every sign of going positive, to make a prediction that a La Nina is upon us. But ask how severe the La Nina will be, or when it will end, silence. Ask when the next El Nino will start, how severe will it be and when will it end; again silence.
    If I were accused of using little more than tea leaves to make my predictions, I would have difficulty defending myself; they are merely based on the belief that the solar physicists have got right their ideas on how quiet the sun is going to be during solar cycles 24 and 25. However, recent trends in average global temperatures show that in the southern hemisphere (SH), there is every sign that temperatures have peaked, and are now declining. The only thing that has kept average world temperatures at or above maximum figures are temperatures on the land mass of the northern hemisphere (NH). I kept this post back until I had the data from NCDC/NOAA for May 2007 http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2007/may/global.html#Temp. What this shows is that the land temperature in the northern hemisphere is still keeping average world temperatures at or just above record levels. The anomaly for May 2007 for the NH land is 0.95 C, warmest on record, c.f. May 2005 with a figure of 0.94. For the SH the land anomaly is 0.34 C, the 24th warmest. Overall, for January to May the anomaly is 0.65 C warmest on record, cf next warmest 2005 of 0.64 C. The question is, of course, will the land temperatures in the SH rise in the future to match those in the NH, or will NH temperatures fall to match those in the SH. Or whatever. Only time will tell. Certainly, there is no sign that 2007 will produce a dramatic increase in average global temperatures. The data from Hadley/CRU for May will not be available for a couple of weeks.

  35. 235

    [[Chuck (172): same ole, same ole (like admittedly is my retort). I wish you guys would quit boiling down the science to the idolatry of peer review and a great majority of a vote. ]]

    Like it or not, peer review is part of modern science, and there’s a good reason for that — it weeds out the crackpots.

  36. 236
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 228 [a skeptic says “I don’t believe this” gets answered with “But there’s a consensus, so there!”]

    No, the skeptic’s “I don’t believe this” gets answered with, “Show me your data!” When scientists reach a consensus conclusion, it means there have been numerous and very convincing studies supporting that position. To change people’s minds, you need to come up with some pretty strong data and arguments that counter the prevailing views. As Carl Sagen said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    Scientists make their reputation by finding something novel – they have every incentive to doubt the consensus view; but, when they do go along with the consensus it means they are now ready to move on, and find something that isn’t known, or hasn’t been widely accepted.

  37. 237

    [[If you force the Canadian electric generating inductry to reduce the emission of CO2, you ruin the economy. ]]

    Why are we to believe coal is the only way to generate electricity? I thought it could be generated from burning oil (which Canada produces in excess), natural gas, wood, or biomass fuels such as ethanol. Or from nuclear fission. Or from solar thermal plants or solar photovoltaics. Or from windmills. Or from geothermal resources. Or from animals on treadmills.

  38. 238

    [[My point is that the 99 to 1 vote or consensus does not per se prove the science. 99 saying tobacco causes cancer is, as you say, a strong data point, indicative and interesting, but it is not a scientific proof. My problem is the use by some to prove the science with consensus: a skeptic says “I don’t believe this” gets answered with “But there’s a consensus, so there!”]]

    Listen, try to understand this. The scientific consensus is not the same thing as taking a vote. Peer review means scientists have taken a paper and tried to duplicate at least the reasoning, if not the observations or the experiments, and have looked for flaws — any flaws. If the scientific consensus is that some physical effect is true, it’s not just a summary of opinions. It’s a summary of the results. There is a consensus that the world is round because the hypothesis that the world is flat has been falsified. There is a consensus that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than vice versa, because everyone who has bothered to make the observations necessary has seen that that hypothesis works and the other one doesn’t. Scientific consensus is not “I think this is true.” It’s “300 people made the same type of observation and wrote it up and they all got through peer review.”

    In short, your arguments against the scientific consensus and peer review are straw man arguments. You haven’t shown that you understand what you’re arguing against at all.

  39. 239
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 228, again [a paper not peer reviewed has zero value; a peer reviewed paper has ultimate authority, (“the foundation of science” no less!]

    I’m trying to figure out if you truly don’t understand how science works, or if you just like to make disingenuous statements to yank people’s chains.

    A paper that has not yet been peer-reviewed has some credibility, depending on who is reading it. But, publishing a paper without peer review means everyone reading it has to make his/her own decision on the value of the contents, and most scientists aren’t willing to waste their time doing that. Rather, they prefer to read papers in peer-reviewed journal because they feel they can put more trust in the data and conclusions. But, no one believes that any single peer-reviewed paper is the ultimate authority, unless perhaps that paper puts the nail in the coffin of a conclusion supported by numerous papers that preceded it. One only has to following the letters-to-the-editor in Science, or Nature, to see how peer-reviewed papers in prestigious journals can be ripped apart by knowledgable (or skeptical) readers of that journal; sometimes the papers can withstand the assult, sometimes they cannot. That is why scientists must often follow the literature in a particular field for years, or even decades, to see how well published findings stand up to careful scrutiny.

  40. 240

    [[The advocates of AGW when running their GCMs, always seem to choose a time frame such that no-one can check up on what has been predicted in any reasonable manner. They claim to know, with considerable precision, what is going to happen by 2050, or 2100, when I will be dead anyway; but ask about what will happen in the next five years, and all you get is silence. It does not take a genius to realized that the recent El Nino has gone, and, with the SOI showing every sign of going positive, to make a prediction that a La Nina is upon us. But ask how severe the La Nina will be, or when it will end, silence. Ask when the next El Nino will start, how severe will it be and when will it end; again silence.
    ]]

    You are missing something fundamental about climatology — it’s about averages, not individual data points. The vast majority of your posts so far have made this mistake. Have you ever had an introductory statistics course?

    A cas.ino doesn’t know where the ball will fall in a rou.lette wheel, or which hand will win in a game of black.jack. Nonetheless, cas.inos manage to continually make a profit. Once you understand why that is, you will understand why your objection to GCMs above has no strength.

  41. 241
    James says:

    Re #225: [To me it means nothing less than an great extinction event. If humans still exist on Earth at 3 C then it is hardly catastrophic is it?]

    Seems a rather narrow-minded way to look at it. If humans still exist, but a large percentage of other species go extinct, that looks like a catastrophe to me – and not just for the extinct species, but for the human survivors who will be living in a vastly impoverished world.

    Or if you insist on being anthropocentric, suppose the human species still survives, but in greatly reduced numbers: isn’t that a catastrophe, at least for those who didn’t survive?

  42. 242
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 237

    Don’t forget hydroelectric power – Ontario Power Generation claims to be generating 15,535 MW for the Province of Ontario (http://www.opg.com/index.asp). When I moved to Ontario in the early 80s, it took me a while to understand that when someone mentioned their “hydro bill,” they were referring to their electric bill which they paid to a hydro-electric company generating power at Niagra Falls (which generates some 4.5 GW: http://www.iaw.com/~falls/power.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls ).

  43. 243
    James says:

    Re 237: Or, since Nova Scotia was mentioned, tidal power? I quote from http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1SEC829122

    “The most cost-effective project was found to be a site in MINAS BASIN, at the mouth of Cobequid Bay in the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy. This development would have a capacity in excess of 5300 MW, an amount equal to the entire 1980 installed generating capacity of the Maritime power systems.”

    Of course this has a problem with the generation being intermittent (locked to the tidal cycle), but if it was integrated into the same system as all the hydro plants in Quebec, it should be possible to smooth out the variation.

  44. 244
    Timothy Chase says:

    Rod B. (#228) wrote:

    Peer Review: what you say is true again, and has been similarly discussed here by some. My problem is the same as above: some claim peer review per se is sufficient proof by itself and is absolute in its determination which makes it an idol — a paper not peer reviewed has zero value; a peer reviewed paper has ultimate authority, (“the foundation of science” no less!

    I have run into a number of papers which certainly were well worth reading and cutting-edge despite the fact that they had not been peer reviewed. I remember one in particular in evolutionary biology regarding tandem repeats and their hypermutability – which could be reduced by point mutations which broke up the tandem repeats into smaller segments. The author (David King?) was arguing that in essence, they made the rate of mutation itself mutable which natural selection could select for – and this appears to have been born out by later papers. You will find such papers – on occasion.

    Likewise, peer review lets lower quality papers get through – a little too often. I doubt there are very many specialists within any discipline who believe that all peer-reviewed articles which are published are actually of high quality. Nearly anyone you might ask will acknowledge that a fair number of the articles which get published didn’t deserve to be published.

    At the same time, to those who would argue that peer review is unfair (and I realize you are not), I would make one observation, then pose one question:

    The number of papers which are available for publication well-exceeds the number of papers which can be published – simply as a matter of economics, but some will be of higher quality while others will be of lower quality. If peer review is to be replaced, what should it be replaced with – to insure that papers of higher quality stand a better chance of being published?

  45. 245
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    RE 234: I’ll take the bait too. I’m by no means a specialist but I see several points in your argumentation that, for a layman, do not appear convincing at all.

    You were asked for data, I don’t see it. What are your predictions based on?

    The ENSO is known for what I would call (for lack of a better knowledge of it) a semi-chaotic behavior. There is ample discussion of it on this site that addresses the “they can’t even predict El-Nino, so what do they know” argument, which summarizes your critic.

    Climate is defined over a 30 years period, climate change has to be observed over long periods too. A 5 years period seem to me a prime candidate for finding chaotic variations. The shorter the term, the least accurate a model prediction can be. From the very little I know about climate models, I would expect that at the 1 to 5 years horizon, you can’t really get much more than natural variability. That does not constitute a weakness of the models, it’s how nature is.

    The SH contains a lot more ocean than the NH. It is bound to behave differently and be cooler. What does the data show about the only somewhat temperate southern landmass (Australia), compared to NH landmasses?

  46. 246
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Jim Cripwell wrote in 234:

    The advocates of AGW when running their GCMs, always seem to choose a time frame such that no-one can check up on what has been predicted in any reasonable manner.

    Here’s a recent example of models that match empirical data over a long time scale:

    Greenhouse Gas Effect Consistent Over 420 Million Years
    http://www.yale.edu/opa/newsr/07-03-28-02.all.html

    To better predict future trends in global warming, these researchers compared estimates from long-term modeling of Earth’s carbon cycle with the recent proxy measurements of CO2.

    This study used 500 data points in the geological records as “proxy data” and evaluated them in the context of the CO2 cycling models of co-author Robert Berner, professor emeritus of geology and geophysics at Yale who pioneered models of the balance of CO2 in the Earth and Earth’s atmosphere.

    “Proxy data are indirect measurements of CO2 – they are a measure of the effects of CO2,” explained co-author Jeffrey Park, professor of geology and geophysics at Yale who created the computer simulations for the project. “While we cannot actually measure the CO2 that was in the atmosphere millions of years ago, we can measure the geologic record of its presence. For example, measurement of carbon isotopes in ancient ocean-plankton material reflects atmospheric CO2 concentrations.”

    “Our results are consistent with estimates from shorter-term records, and indicate that climate sensitivity was almost certainly greater than 1.5, but less than 5.5 degrees Celsius over this period,” said Park. “At those extremes of CO2 sensitivity, [1.5°C or 5.5°C] the carbon-cycle would have been in a ‘perfect storm’ condition.”

  47. 247
    pat n says:

    re 225

    I think a sea level increase measured in meters on the century time scale would be appropriately called catastrophic.

  48. 248
    Timothy Chase says:

    I had written (#229):

    However, it makes sense that [gulf stream] would move northerly – it now has to go farther north simply in order to cool enough to begin its descent. As for stronger, this may be related to the increased intensity of hurricanes – where (at least according to one recent paper) hurricanes significantly increase ocean circulation between the tropics and the higher latitudes.

    Actually it was a letter in Nature:

    Observational evidence for an ocean heat pump induced by tropical cyclones
    Ryan L. Sriver & Matthew Huber
    Nature 447, 577-580 (31 May 2007)
    http://intl.emboj.org/nature/journal/v447/n7144/full/nature05785.html

    I guess this means that in 2006 we should have seen more poleward flow from the Pacific – which experienced the most active hurricane season on record, but I haven’t seen data to verify this.

  49. 249
    Jim Cripwell says:

    In 245 Phillipe wrote “You were asked for data, I don’t see it. What are your predictions based on?” I thought I answered that question. I believe the forecast of the solar physicists as the how quiet the sun will be in solar cycles 24 and 25. Not much better, I agree, than reading tea leaves.
    Phillipe also wrote “The SH contains a lot more ocean than the NH. It is bound to behave differently and be cooler. What does the data show about the only somewhat temperate southern landmass (Australia), compared to NH landmasses?”
    I am not an expert in answering this sort of question. I gave you the URL I used; all the data I know about is there, and at the Hadley/CRU site. The land masses in the SH also include South America. I understand Argentina is suffering from a brutally cold weather at this time. I have not examined the data comparing the SH and NH, but as I understand the way the anomalies are calculated, they refer the difference between current temperatures and some long term average. So why the SH is expected to be different from it’s long term average, compared with the NH, I don’t follow.

  50. 250
    Theo H says:

    HELP!

    H-E-L-P !!

    H-E-E-E-L-L-P-P !!!

    How do I assign “weight” to conflicting science?

    Once upon a time, a long time ago… well, about twenty years ago – as a simple greenie, my greenie friends told me about global warming. At first, this would seem like a good idea, to anyone who has to suffer (what was) our English summers. Then my Scandinavian greenie friends told me about oxidising boreal (i.e. snow-forest) soils, so I stated to get worried … feed back and all that stuff.

    Anyway, from then on, I happily believed in AGW, because scientists, who know about these things, … well … they know about these. Don’t they?

    Then, about two years ago I became aware of “climate sceptics” who said things were not so. And I became very confused.

    So I started to read (things like) RealClimate.

    But I am still confused.

    And the reason I am confused, is while I am happy to follow the science of RealClimate (all peer reviewed stuff) there is also other stuff (sometimes peer reviewed) that contradicts RC, which I can also more or less follow as well.

    My problem is I am quite unable to assign “weight” to the conflicting science. I am becoming personally aware of my inability to assign weight; I think, however, there are a lot of ordinary folk out there who do not yet know they don’t know how to assign weight. Thus the considerable effect that the Great Global Warming Swindle has had on a not unimportant number of the UK population. And here the last “fact” presented often carried most weight and TGGWS was the last fact most UK people saw. (Thus in legal trials, the defence is always allowed the last say.)

    In the “is happening / is not happening” debate I suspect there are a lot of people who are as confused as I am. And RC needs to take this on board.

    Theo H

    (I did, however, quite independently, come across your esteemed senator Mr Inhofe at The Heritage Foundation. And had a laugh.)


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