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Friday roundup

Filed under: — group @ 13 July 2007

An eclectic round-up of the week’s climate science happenings (and an effort to keep specific threads clear of clutter).

It’s the sun! (not)

As regular readers here will know, the big problem for blaming the sun for the recent global warming is that there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960, and that includes direct measurements of solar output by satellites since 1979. Well, another paper, has come out saying exactly the same thing. This is notable because the lead author Mike Lockwood has worked extensively on solar physics and effects on climate and certainly can’t be credibly accused of wanting to minimise the role of solar forcing for nefarious pro-CO2 reasons!

Stefan was quoted in Nature as saying this is the ‘last nail in the coffin’ for solar enthusiasts, but a better rejoinder is a statement from Ray P: “That’s a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.”


The still-excruciating ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ got another outing in Australia this week. The heavily edited ‘new’ version dumped some of the obviously fake stuff that was used the first time around, and edited out the misleading segment with Carl Wunsch. There is some amusing feedback in the post-show discussion panel and interview (via DeSmogBlog).

RC Wiki

As an aside, this is as good a time as any to point people to a new resource we are putting together: RC Wiki, which is an index to the various debunkings of the contrarian articles, TV programs, and internet pseudo-science that is out there. The idea is to have a one-stop shop so that anyone who comes across a piece and wants to know what the real story just has to start there. For instance, the page on TGGWS has a listing of many of the substantive criticisms from the time of the first showing.

Editing the wiki is by invitation only, but let us know if you want to help out, or if you have any suggestions or comments.

The sweet spot for climate predictability

Between the difficulty of long-term weather forecasts and the impossibility of accurate predictions for economic conditions a century hence, there is a sweet spot for climate forecasts. This spot, maybe between 20 and 50 years out, is where the emissions scenarios don’t matter too much (given the inertia of the system) and where the trends start to be discernible over the noise of year to year weather. Cox and Stephenson have a good discussion of the point in this week’s Science and a great conceptual graphic of the issues.

One could quibble with the details (we’d put the sweet spot a little earlier) but the underlying idea is sound, and in judging climate forecasts, it will be projections in that range that should be judged (i.e. the early Hansen projections).

350 Responses to “Friday roundup”

  1. 51
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    A periodic wrap up is a great idea. As an interested but busy layman who wants to keep up with the news in climate science this would be a great resource. It allows me, and others like me, to keep up with recent events.

    I will second Ike Solem (#39), RealClimate is the best climate science site on the web. The one thing I have noticed since the beginning of RC is how many more comments there are now. If you don’t check in every day its hard to keep up with the discussions. Its good that RC is getting alot of traffic and feedback!

  2. 52
    dhogaza says:

    I would say CO2 forcing is a lot clearer than the cosmic ray influence, but once you add water vapor feedback, things get cloudier although still clearer than the mechanisms hypothesized for cosmic rays.

    So presumably this increase in cosmic rays has been measured, and you can provide a cite, right?

  3. 53
    Bruce Tabor says:

    Re. #26, #28 Hans Vermeer #31, #32…

    Doubt and delay: “it will take more time and effort to introduce appropriate measures of mitigation and adaption. An informed sense of urgency…is constantly delayed.”

    Yes, all this careful scientific analysis means little if it doesn’t ultimately inform the policy decisions of the world’s greatest CO2 emitting nations. Should RC have a section dealing with the politics of climate change?

    I’m not an expert in this area by any means, but it seems to me that it is vital that the press and the government are on side to effect policy change. If vested interests – and those who are genuinely misguided – have a significant influence here, then appropriate responses to any important issue can be delayed interminably. Witness the success of big tobacco in delaying action on smoking, or the AIDS disaster in South Africa where the government did not believe the science. There are numerous other examples.

    In Australia, government scientists in the CSIRO are allowed to speak publically about climate science, but not the policy implications of what they spend their lives studying. The goivernment has placed managers above them to stop them even commenting. Several have lost their jobs. I understand there have been similar efforts to censor Jim Hansen at GISS.

    Parts of the mining, power and metals industries, our federal government, and Murdoch’s Newscorp (70% of our newspapers) have assisted the obfuscation. Other parts of the press have given equal coverage to both sides, which only adds to the confusion.

    As scientists we tend to think that if we present the scientific evidence clearly, the public will see the truth and appropriate policy will automatically follow. Watching the GGWS, the subsequent panel debate and the LaRouchian’s in the audience, made me realise it is far more complex than that. (The bizarre statements of the latter probably helped our case.) If the press and the government allow the message to be confused, it is difficult for the science to be heard, and its implications digested, until the danger is obvious and it’s too late.

  4. 54
    Lloyd Flack says:

    I know people have been working on the Earth’ total heat budget. Are there any graphs easily available, of the total heat content of the atmosphere and the oceans. Much of the year to year fluctuation in Global average temperature is from things like El Nino moving heat between the oceans and the Atmosphere. I would expect the total heat content of the Atmosphere and the oceans to show a smoother upward trend than surface temperature trends by themselves. For example I would not expect 1998 to be as much of an outlier from the trend of total heat content or perhaps it might not be an outlier at all.

  5. 55
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #28 TGGWS in the Netherlands

    Another bright point: there is now debate going on here, about whether news outlets should continue to report on climate in the “he said, she said, I don’t have a clue, the truth is probably in the middle” fashion. Some journalists reject this kind of reporting, and publicly wondered why TGGWS should have been broadcast at all.

    Having said that, this morning there was a “science journalist” on the radio (I suppose I must use quotes), who voiced exactly the “there is controversy, we don’t know whether it’s the sun or the CO2” nonsense, and threw in some “there’s not enough solar scientists in IPCC” stuff for good measure, as well as “we must not be so arrogant as to presume that we know the cause of global warming”.

    About this last point: to me it’s clear as day: based on the evidence (evaluated by thousands of scientists), there is a 99%+ probability that warming is real and CO2 (+ other gases) is the cause, so we better operate on that assumption. I’m genuinely puzzled how people can NOT see this. Is there some deep psychological explanation?

  6. 56

    Kudos on the Wiki and Friday Roundup. I predict the Friday Roundup will keep threads from be diverted — until maybe Monday or Tuesday rolls around :)

    I’m more inclined to work with Wikis than Tim, so if you’d like to add me, well, you’ve got my e-mail address.

    And Tim, lee me know where your Wiki is an I’ll give it my special perspective as well ;)

  7. 57
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Comment #35 asks for information on mitigation of of greenhouse gases. One site is at the Princeton Environmental Institute which goes into detail on Pacala and Socolow’s Stabilization Wedges using current technologies. It also includes an interactive site with a simulation game. The web site is at:

    Julie is probably on the mark about keeping threads from being diverted for a short while. It’s a worthy effort but probably like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill.
    There’s an old saw that if millions of primates were to peck away long enough at their typewriters, they’d eventually produce a work worthy of Shakespeare. The internet has definitely shot that down.

  8. 58
    Bird Thompson says:

    Thanks Jack, #37, for yr practical tips on becoming more carbon neutral.

    To Dick, #55: the Buddhist pyschological explanation would be that the individual filters out information that challenges the ego’s need for security, thus the deniers & the skeptics & the do-nothings. Also, the corporate-controlled media (like Murdoch) want the people to consume happily & not think too deeply about anything. Global warming (& nuclear war) are the biggest threats to humanity’s security since…what? some supervolcano was it? Somehow we survived that; somehow we will survive climate change & nuclear weapons & toxic chemicals & species extinction & eco-chaos.

    Thanks #45, catman, for the concept of earth having 946 billionaires. They are running the show. How many are aware of the dangers to life on earth? Maybe Al Gore is getting thru to some of them. Maybe the number of people concerned is reaching a tipping point. Maybe the corporate elite will figure they”ll have to make their money by supporting green technology now.

    Thanks to all the contributors to RC. We’re all in this together.

  9. 59
    RomanM says:

    There are some real problems with the Lockwood paper. As pointed out earlier in the comments, the paper contends that there has been no solar effect over the past 20 years. The statistical (non)analysis justifying this consists of calculating some moving averages, drawing some graphs coupled with an arm-waving “see, there is no connection”. But the biggest problem with the paper is that the authors do not demonstrate that they have taken some other possibly relevant factors into account. They make reference to the relationship between cloud formation and solar activity, but they neglect to look at the possible effect that existing clouds can have on solar irradiation. Try looking at the NASA GISS web-site. In particular, the graph at the top of the page shows the global cloud annual cloud cover since 1983. You will notice that it reaches a relative maximum (~70%) about 1987 and then steadily declines to a relative minimum (~63%) about 2001, before starting to increase since then. Regardless of the reason for the variation in the cloud cover, one has to believe that decreasing the 1987 amount by about 10% must have a substantial effect on global temperature because of increased surface irradiation. The actual size of this effect would require looking at the specific pattern of the cloud cover and the incident solar irradiation at the corresponding global locations. I would have thought that this would have been done by Lockwood et al. or by other climate scientists.

    With regard to your statement “This is notable because the lead author Mike Lockwood has worked extensively on solar physics and effects on climate and certainly can’t be credibly accused of wanting to the role of solar forcing for nefarious pro-CO2 reasons!” perhaps you have not seen the Letters in the publication News and Reviews in Astronomy and Geophysics. He and his co-authors make the statement: “This raises two key questions: firstly, is this mechanism viable and, secondly, can George Bush gain comfort from it in terms of the origins of present-day climate change?” But of course, this is just a scientific assessment and not some sort of politically-motivated “pro-CO2 reason”.


  10. 60
    Jilm says:

    Thanks Hank –

    The Solanki reference 3 is to the Lockwood et al. 1999 paper. Solanki’s paper is an analysis of solar magnetograms, which show a secular increase in the solar magnetic flux throughout the 20th century, including the latest decades. Lockwood et al. 1999 show similar findings using the geomagnetic aa index.

    I am simply trying to correct the false assertion at the opening of this article that there are no upward-trending solar indices since 1960. This claim is contradicted by the citations I provided, in addition to the raw aa data, using even a very generous selection of start and end points.

  11. 61
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 48: Fair enough. Ray has a point, however: postulating a delay in the decades range requires some sort of mechanism for the delay, which is lacking so far. Furthermore, the GCR hypothesis has mainly to do with CCN. There are so few particles involved and, on the other hand, so many other possible, abundant sources of CCN from Earth, that I am highly skeptical of the significance of GCR. In my modest (informed but non scientific opinion) the idea that GCRs can have a major influence on climate sounds like hype.

  12. 62
    Hank Roberts says:

    There’s a later Solanki et al. letter, I think from 2006, in which he comes to the same conclusion, using a proxy (trace elements in meteorites) also. I haven’t seen any discussion of it, just a mention I think at Pielke Sr.’s website a while back.

  13. 63
    Dave Berry says:

    The Wiki looks a good start. I agree with an earlier comment that it would be useful to have an indexby argument as well (e.g. index entries for “GW is a result of a natural solar cycle”, “The temparature of the higher atmosphere is not increasing”, “More CO2 is emitted by volcanos”, etc.). If you have the time, of course!

    What I’d really like to see is a TV programme or DVD that presents the science behind AGW in a reasonably layman-friendly way. Al Gore’s film doesn’t present much detail – I saw it after I saw The Great Global Warming Swindle and I thought the latter was better presented, even though the interpretation of the science was wrong. I recall the BBC made a Horizon programme with David Attenborough but I don’t recall how much science it presented.

    If you can find suitably telegenic people to interview, maybe the existence of might give the journalists a “hook”. “A group of embattled scientists, using the new technology of the internet to combat GW sceptics from around the world …” Journalists seem to like their scientists to be embattled, working outside the mainstream, etc.

  14. 64
    Timothy Chase says:

    jilm (#60) wrote:

    I am simply trying to correct the false assertion at the opening of this article that there are no upward-trending solar indices since 1960. This claim is contradicted by the citations I provided, in addition to the raw aa data, using even a very generous selection of start and end points.

    Well, I don’t know exactly what you mean by “upward-trending” vs Gavin’s “no trend” or “flat.”

    It would, afterall, be quite a coincidence if the trendline had a slope exactly equal to zero, so something could have an upward trend, but it might be a very small upward trend, in which case both you and Gavin might be right. Likewise, I don’t know what you mean by “a very generous selection of start and end points.” Undoubtedly there are may different points we could select to show whatever we might want to show – given the quasi-periodic nature of the data.

    But to try and make sense of this, I decided to begin by comparing the first half of the century to the second half.

    Using the data that you linked to, I got the following:

    jan 1900 to jan 1950: y=0.2464x -457.14
    jan 1950 to jan 2000: y=0.0129x-1.7515

    The slope for the first half of the century was 19.1X greater than the second half. But why leave out the data which so conveniently goes up to April of 2007? For that I get the following linear trend:

    jan 1950 to apr 2007: y=0.0099x+4.0713

    The first half of the century has a linear trendline with a slope 24.89X great than that between January 1950 and April 2007.

    However, you had difficulty with Gavin saying that trends had been flat as far back as 1960. I can see why.

    I get:

    jan 1960 to apr 2007: y=0.0568x-89.309

    Which means that the slope of the trendline from 1900 to 1950 is only 4.34X greater than that from 1960-April 2007. It seems it would have been better if he had said 1950 rather than 1960.

    But now lets look at what is most relevant – from the beginning of the sharp rise in temperatures (~1980) until today:

    jan 1980 to apr 2007: y=-0.1416x + 306.72

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a negative trend.

    Right where one would be expecting a positive trend if one were trying to explain global warming in terms of this indice. And it looks like a fairly significant trend, almost comparable to that of the first half of the twentieth century, but going in the opposite direction.

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jilm, he’s right you know.
    Take the data you cited, put it into Excel or anything else that can make you a chart, and eyeball it, if you don’t want to do the trendline calculation.

  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:

    Alastair, how can people be taking pictures from satellites that show the Earth, in the 15-micron wavelength, if none of the light from the Earth gets past 30′? Surely from above you’d see nothing in that wavelength but a glowing fog, if all the 15-micron light was just intercepted and scattered right on the deck. Yet people have been writing for decades about photographing the Earth from space in 15-microns. Can you get this from your library, perhaps?

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    This also might help. Polar bears _are_ invisible in the infrared.
    But not because the infrared is absorbed by 30′ of the atmosphere. It’s the fur.

    “One of the most interesting radiative properties of polar bear fur is that it is invisible in the infrared region.”

  18. 68
    Eli Rabett says:

    The “sweet spot” was already pointed out by honest Jim Hansen in his 1988 paper.

    Forecast temperature trends for time scales of a few decades or less are not very sensitive to the model’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (reference provided). Therefore climate sensitivity would have to be much smaller than 4.2 C, say 1.5 to 2 C, in order for us to modify our conclusions significantly.

    with similar comments about forcing scenerios.

  19. 69
    Betsy S says:

    Geez. But couldn’t this also be further evidence that the recent land temperature record is tainted. Its bad enough that proxies, sat. temps, and sst all diverge from the land-record “warmest decade” data.

  20. 70
    Hank Roberts says:

    Betsy, you need some physical mechanism to argue that the solar activity _should_ be predictive, before you use it to claim that the thermometers have to be wrong. No one’s argued that it wasn’t useful in the past, but remember half the fossil fuel burned so far has been burned since about 1970 — that means there will be, for decades, a lot of warming coming even if we stopped now.

    What’s your source for saying that ‘proxies, satellite temperatures, and sea surface temperature all diverge from the land record, by the way?

  21. 71
    dhogaza says:

    What’s your source for saying that ‘proxies, satellite temperatures, and sea surface temperature all diverge from the land record, by the way?

    She didn’t say SIGNIFICANTLY :)

    Maybe she expects sensors to be perfect …

  22. 72
    Hank Roberts says:

    Maybe, but I suspect she’s quoting someone she trusts to be reliable rather than direct cites. Let’s ask again.
    Betsy? Source please? No shame quoting what you believe to be a reliable source — just tell us who you trust on this.

  23. 73
    Mark R says:

    Re #45 and #58
    The political climate will change in the US when some Democratic presidential candidate is savvy enough to employ GW as a coalescent strategy for creating a lasting majority. Al Gore does not count, since he has no stated political ambitions (he’s the wrong man for that job, anyway).
    FDR built just such a majority in 1932 by co-opting the already-existant Progressive movement, casting a fifty-year shadow. We only have fifty years at best, so this must happen soon. There is no FDR on the horizon right now, unfortunately.
    The electorate needs a simple GW plan like the so-called Contract with America (Americans love slogans), limited to five or six points: a massive wind-turbine-construction campaign (Texas has to be useful for something), solar water-heating panels for every home rooftop, high-speed modern inter-city lev-rail connections to replace airplanes, tax breaks for all participants, mandatory auto-mileage standards of 50 mpg.
    One more hurricane destroying Miami or NYC ought to transform the public perception of global warming. Unfortunately, such a disaster is what it will take.

  24. 74
    Tom Adams says:

    Question about the forecast uncertainty sweet spot.

    They must be constraining the notion of forecast. Are they really saying that its easier to predict a yearly mean 40 years out as opposed to 4 years, for instance?

    They seem to be confusing the long-term forecasts with long-period forecast. Long-period forecasts for about a 40 year period are easier than a 4 year period, or predicting that the temperature will be higher in 40 years is easier than for 4 years.

    Am I missing something? Or could they be clearer about the types of forecasts they mean?

  25. 75
    Roger Willaim Chamberlin says:

    Like it or not, many countries and private concerns are already going ahead with experiments in adding iron to the dead seas to bring them to life … the reasons are simple/simplistic:-

    -1.- it is potentially forty times cheaper to remove CO2 from the atmosphere this way than any other proposed mechanism and the sea has a vast area already absorbing CO2 and not yet recycling much of it

    -2.- sea life itself can , if increased, reverse the acidification of the seas which is already killing the food web in the sea from the base upwards , reducing life in the sea and adding the burden of CO2 from decaying life [until eventually man can no longer get food from the sea … all just because we let the corals and phytoplanktoon die now , instead of increasing sea life to solve some of the problems we have ,and will have more of , because of our way of life]

    … many other proposed methods of CO2 sequestration actually increase [!] the acidification of the seas, kill life under the sea [and as now discovered in the rocks under the sea – strange lifeforms we only very recently know do even exist, that need no sunlight and live deep under the sea bed], or some methods just do nothing to solve this problem of killing off of our own food supply from the sea and of most of its lifeforms eventually.

    -3.- The sea is potentially just as productive per acre as the land since productivity is determined by sunlight input, but farming the seas is much easier and cheaper because one largely needs only traces of elements missing in much seawater… compare then the expansion of human civilisation, on discovering agriculture ,to the potential we have in farmimg the seas instead of the ‘hunter-gathering’ of current fishing and whaling methods – methods which have been rather uncontrolled and have devastated their own fisheries in many places.

    -4.- giving trace elements to the sea causes a vast increase in sea biomass of all kinds fairly swiftly, the kind of swift response to the crisis that is needed to bring CO2 back under control [instead of the current accelerating run-away of CO2 under positive feedback seen behind current measurements] … man can thus benefit enormously from expanded fisheries and whaling as the sea can most easily provide all the additional food we need to feed everyone [so we need to expand family planning to all countries as well, but at least we solve the problem of the misery of 40,000 little kids starving to death EVERY DAY in our so-called ‘civilised’ world…]

    -5.- Biomass increase in the seas , increasing the mass of life greatly in the seas, is the ONLY safe long-term place for the excess CO2 man is emitting in our lust for easy liviing … paradoxically we are destroying our own home currently through running our lives by the false principle of the ‘Growth Paradigm’ [of our short-sihted current ‘economic’ theories]… the seas provide us one last chance to escape our infantile theories and grow up to be responsible people, caring for and feeding all nations [instead of exploiting the poor to give even more to the rich, which the rich don’t need, doesn’t make them happier, and actually shortens their lives through weight problems, etc] and caring about our world so that it serves all of us well in return.

    Biomass is where the excess CO2 originated, so we know it is safe for long-term and there is no other such safe place known for CO2 .

    -6.- Expanding fisheries and whaling not only makes existing fishermen happy, whilst they are now disgruntled with tiny quotas and throwing dead fish back into the sea , but makes a vast number of new jobs and utilises much laid-up fishery tackle and boats … something which appeals to more than just governement employment statistics…

    -7.- If controlled, sea farming, like forrestry, can majorly affect rainfall and climate on the land and even restore some deserts to use … phytoplankton can be controlled [through the feed of iron trace element] to release dimethyl sulphide en masse , a gas which rises through the air and creates clouds by oxidation to very effective sulphate nuclei which condense the rain droplets…
    One can thus make rain cheaply at last , but also one can seed the ocean in the path of hurricanes and take away their sting , their power, over the sea ,where it does much good [stirring the sea] , and so protecting the land.
    In time men may learn how to use this facility to divert hurricanes too

    — Sadly all this potential good can be undone by the uncontrolled race to exploit this new-found ‘toy’ which nationalistic and competitive urges have taught men to follow… it has the potential of use as a weapon too for obvious reasons..

    What is needed then is immediate international control of the situation so that scientists can manage the continual monitoring of the development of the seas for farming [and for the above other uses] and saving the planet from our past mistaken beliefs [such as the all-pervading idea that money can buy anything even when the resource has run out and the earth has died] … we are capable of this , we can do it, so why not help spraed the word and get everyone worldwide onboard on getting life back under control to everyone’s benefit, why not make earth a better place by changing our priorities from greed to benefit the few to sufficient for all so that we stop warring and competing and destroying… it is there for the taking, but we do not have so long since we are already killing the seas … and buying a very overheated end to civilisation … man cannot live on earth without coming to terms with being dependent upon nature and seeking her solution to our BIG MISTAKE … a little jumility is needed then and ‘asking’ nature to help… something men find so very hard… but it seems our lives and those of our children may require it now, else men really are headed already to mess up the seas ,having fought over and nmessed up the land to great extent… time to rethink, take stock, and ask what future we want … and act ,but swiftly and in controlled manner … can men learn to do this , this time?

    We have a really hard choice to make between turning the earh into a loving caring paradise by co-operating internationally and caring about equality and sharing at last, or destroying our earth to a chaotic overheated ‘hell’ by our usual mad chaotic scramble of devil-take-the -hindmost…

  26. 76
    Timothy Chase says:

    Hank Roberts (#65) wrote:

    Take the data you cited, put it into Excel or anything else that can make you a chart, and eyeball it, if you don’t want to do the trendline calculation.

    Excel will calculate the trendline for you, too. Linear, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, etc.. The annoying bit was parsing the text to get at the numbers since spaces were used. I wrote a little code to transform it en masse on the clipboard, but you could probably just save a textfile and open it in Excel. It will ask how you want the columns parsed.

    Excel is your friend.

  27. 77
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Interesting African take on mitigation vs. adaptation:

  28. 78
    Hank Roberts says:

    New from David Brin on replies to what he calls Enronistas, those denying CO2 is a problem, down the page quite a ways here:

    Find: Friday, June 29, 2007
    Perspectives on Climate Change – and The Ritualization of Denial

    Contributors — he’s a well recognized author, and published scientist. He is worth reading if you don’t know him.


    “Recently, on the pages of a very high-ranked tech commerce newsletter, I was personally challenged by a former top member of Enron, to answer a series of standard neoconservative mantras concerning global climate change. Talking points that – in my opinion and in the opinion of almost every scientifically-educated person I know – smack of ritualized denial.

    “Alas, what we are seeing, nowadays, is not a debate, but rather, two subsets of the same civilization shouting past each other from entirely different assumptions and motivations and even mental processes. It can be difficult to find discursive bridges — ways to cross this dangerous gulf — when one side relies completely upon illogical and frantic catechisms of faith.

    He refers readers to New Scientist’s “26 Common Questions” then writes:

    “…. what follows here is not so much a refutation based upon facts — there are countless papers, books and sites devoted to compiling, presenting and hurling mountains of evidence — as it is a list of points offered in perspective. Spotlighting some deceitful tricks used by those who want civilization to sit on its hands, despite a looming crisis that could end our recent golden age.

    “Let’s start with an excerpt from that former Enronista — an example from the deniers’ playbook of talking points ….. “

  29. 79

    After much delay, I have put into final form and posted my catalog of climate sensitivity estimates, including distribution charts and descriptive statistics. I have 61 estimates from the literature from 1896 to 2006, 25 estimates for named global climate models. My climatology page is here:

  30. 80
    Rainer Sachs says:

    Does anybody know when Working Group II will release its Report “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”?

  31. 81
    Justin says:

    In regards to the recent (i.e. 20 year) decline of solar activity, Lockwood and Frolich refer to the PMOD data composite, which has been criticized by Willson and Mordvinov (2003) as unreliable due to its reliance on solar modelling techniques that have been shown to produce inconsistencies in the record. Lockwood explicitly referred to the differences between the two views, but didn’t seem to provide a satisfactory answer as to why PMOD is gives different results than Willson’s composite.

    Additionally, Lean (2005) was referred to in the paper by Scafetta and West, which did not show a decline (even though a solar/temp divergence is still detected) in total solar irradience since 1980.

    My questions are: who has properly handled the data? Was the PMOD composite ever reliable? Or was Willson, et al. mistaken? If the latter, why is this?

    I’m sorry to say that I’m a little confused, and I hope that some of you can help clear this up.

  32. 82
    tamino says:

    Re: #81 (Justin)

    It’s no surprise Lockwood & Frohlich would prefer the PMOD composite, as Frohlich is one of its authors. They also argue for better inter-satellite calibration in the PMOD composite:

    … we use the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium (PMOD) TSI data composite (Frohlich & Lean 2004) that does differ from others (Willson & Mordvinov 2003) but has the most rigorous set of time-dependent intercalibrations between the radiometers that account for both instrument degradations and pointing “glitches” (Frohlich 2006).

    The Lean (2005) data show neither decline nor increase. However, those data are a proxy reconstruction rather than direct measurement.

  33. 83
    Dan G says:

    Regarding 75. — an admirable posting for its reflection and expression . . . there’s just this funny little paragraph stuck in between paragraphs 5 and 6 about the excess carbon dioxide coming from biomass — we don’t think of that carbon has having come from biomass . . . unless you consider our rate of consumption of 800 years of deposits/yr as biomass? Other references call carbon from fossil fuels new carbon; i.e., newly introduced (previously inactive) into the active carbon cycle. Old carbon is that which is already in the active cycle which does include biomass.

    I don’t really know about that 800 to 1 ratio — I merely doubled the amount an old rumour from the eighties used to quote. Actually, that would be an interesting figure to know — how many years of organic deposits it takes to supply one year’s fossil fuel consumption — should any one happen to know that. It is just the kind of catchy little relationship that would grip the man/woman on the street.

  34. 84
    John Dove says:

    #18, #25, #29, on this paper upcoming in Energy and Environment. This is something that I’ve seen quite a lot of recently. In a nutshell, these guys are saying that none of the GCMs covered by AR4 meet best forecasting principles. I was wondering whether any of the experts here wanted to have a go at it, since IANACS.

    What I found interesting is how the writing often descended into a decidedly non-scientific tone. Some of the choicer passages:

    People will continue to believe that serious manmade global warming exists as they will continue to believe other things that have no scientific support (e.g., the biblical creation story, astrology, minimum wages to help poor people, and so on), and public opinion can be intense on such issues.

    The bolded section above is politically and economically far from settled and certainly hasn’t attained the scientific certainty that operates against creationism or astrology.

    We invite others to provide evidence-based audits of Chapter 8. As with peer review, we will require all relevant information on the people who conduct the audits prior to posting the audits.

    Pilkey and Pilkey-Jarvis (2007) concluded that the long-term climate forecasts they examined were based only on the opinions of the scientists. The scientistsâ�� opinions were expressed in complex mathematical terms without any evidence on the validity of chosen approach. […] We hope that before committing resources, decision makers will insist on scientific forecasts rather than accept the opinions of some scientists.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the following passage confuses weather with climate; isn’t that a no-no?

    Taylor (2007) compared seasonal forecasts by New Zealand�s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) with outcomes for the period May 2002 to April 2007. He found NIWA�s forecasts of average regional temperatures for the season ahead were, at 48% correct. No more accurate than chance.

    On the other hand, the authors appear to make some serious charges. The bit about mathematical formulae simply being a formalised expression of an opinion seems counterintuitive, but could be right. I don’t know enough to know. Two more points they make:

    Principle 9.3: Do not use fit to develop the model.
    It was not clear to us to what extent the models produced by the IPCC are either based on, or have been tested against, sound empirical data. However, some statements were made about the ability of the models described in Chapter 8 to fit historical data, after tweaking their parameters. Extensive research has shown that the ability of models to fit historical data has little relationship to forecast accuracy (See �Evaluating Methods� in Armstrong 2001.) It is well known that fit can be improved by making a model more complex. The consequence of increasing complexity to improve fit, however, is to decrease the accuracy of forecasts. The 12 authors of Chapter 8 appeared to be unaware of this principle.

    and here:

    International surveys of climate scientists from 27 countries, obtained by Brat and von Storch in 1996 and 2003, were summarized by Bast and Taylor (2007). Many scientists were skeptical about the predictive validity of climate models. Of more than 1,060 respondents, 35% agreed with the statement, �Climate models can accurately predict future climates,� and 47% percent disagreed.

    This survey, by the way, comes from the decidedly non-neutral Heartland Institute.

    The bibliography is also stacked with the usual sceptics. However, this shouldn’t count against the paper is the ideas are solid.

    My questions: Is there anything in the E&E paper that is valid? Have scientists incorporated these principles into their models? If not, are there good reasons for not doing so?

  35. 85
    Hank Roberts says:

    John, type “Scott Armstrong” into the search box, top of page, to get a link into the prior thread where he came up as a digression. Other climate blogs commented on him more than here. Nobody found much to recommend in what he’s doing, as far as I recall.

  36. 86
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 77 Steve Reynolds: “Interesting African take on mitigation vs. adaptation:

    Yes, it is interesting. Author Kofi Bentil raises some valid points, but also some not so valid ones. Western nations are not denying Africa the use of fossil carbon fuels, and it is not Western nations that are denying Africa electricity, it is the lack of capital to construct power generating plants and distribution networks, for example.

    Bentil is correct that Africans have survived ice ages and warmer eras, but he is sadly mistaken if he thinks that global warming will be just a “relatively minor environmental shift”, a view that is reminiscent of the profound ignorance with which some African leaders have regarded AIDS.

  37. 87

    Re #57 —

    What we need is a BBS. We obviously want to yack about all manner of things, some of them productive, even.

    As regards billionaires and motivation — pretty soon those billionaires will discover how much money there is to be made from “Green” everything, just like they learned about “Organic” everything. I was unsuccessful in convincing TXU Electric to subsidise my upcoming solar installation (I close financing Thursday, and should have HOA approval about the same time, if not sooner), so they will lose my business. Too bad, so sad. The thing to do is just get the word out. I’ve shown dozens of friends, and some unknown number of total strangers, my electric bill over the past 16 months or so and based on that, many have switched to CFLs from incandescents. The electric companies and others will eventually acquire a clue.

  38. 88
    dhogaza says:

    It was not clear to us to what extent the models produced by the IPCC are either based on, or have been tested against, sound empirical data…

    In other words, we have no idea how the models work, but since we’re conservatives and some scientists are so liberal they might actually support minimum wage laws, obviously the models are false and are designed to lead to a New World Order led by communists commuting in black helicopters.

    Doesn’t that about sum it up?

  39. 89
    Fred says:

    What is your opinion about the claim that there has been no global warming since 1998 as insisted by climate skeptics constantly? The logic seems to be that that the annual global temperature anomaly has not exceeded the El Ninjo year’s (1998) record high temperature. How fast is the present global temperature increase?

  40. 90
    John Dove says:

    #85: Thanks Hank, that was a fascinating discussion on the Urban Heat Island thread about Armstrong. (The DKos and James Annan links were eye-openers.) Just goes to show what a wonderful and terrible resource RC is — wonderful because of all the experts debunking contrarian arguments, and terrible because you spend ages just rifling around. (But it’s great fun!)

    Incidentally, in my neck of the words, I often read a local sceptic (Falafulu Fisi), who has pretty much the same shtick as Armstrong and the same, er, humility. I always mean to comment on his wilder claims, but his Celestial Bullshit Stance is strong. Fear his Shadow Smog Hand-Waving!

  41. 91
    Patrick G. says:

    Lockwood’s work featured on, including some quotes.

    Special Report Climate Change
    Sun’s activity rules out link to global warming

    10:44 11 July 2007 news service
    Catherine Brahic

  42. 92
    Carl says:

    What does climate science say about this? Is it relevant? I was looking for a reply.

  43. 93
  44. 94
    Ken Coffman says:

    Could we get to the bottom line? Let’s assume the climate models are accurate and the power plants and agricultural sources of CO2 are driving unwanted climate change. I’m an affluent American living in suburbia. If you could reach into my life and make me change my ways, what would you do? What ten things would you demand? Besides respect (which must be earned, not granted), what is it you want from the general public? What are your ten commandments? I’m not being flippant, I really want to know.

  45. 95
    tamino says:

    Re: #94 (Ken Coffman)

    If you could reach into my life and make me change my ways, what would you do?

    In your personal life, conserve energy as much as possible:

    1. Switch *all* your lights to compact flourescent bulbs.

    2. If you’re not already driving a hybrid, get one. Under no circumstances accept a vehicle with mileage less than 50 mpg.

    3. Use public transportation whenever possible, even if it’s less convenient.

    4. Wrap your water heater.

    5. Put solar panels on your home.

    6. Consistently buy foodstuffs that are grown as locally as possible, and eat far less meat.

    In the voting booth, make global warming the #1 priority:

    7. Write letters to the editor of your local paper, and to every elected official who represents you, urging stronger action. Repeat often.

    8. Vote for the political candidate who most strongly supports action on global warming, every chance you get. Let them know that this is why you’re casting your vote.

    9. Put your money where your mouth is; donate to the campaigns of candidates who support strong action to mitigate AGW.

    In your social life, make AGW a #1 priority for “lobbying” your friends and family:

    10. Every time the subject comes up in conversation, emphasize the urgency of addressing this problem, if we’re serious about leaving a healthy world to our children. From time to time, raise the subject yourself.

  46. 96
    Chuck Booth says:

    I did a search of the RC site and didn’t find any mention of the following website, so I’ll mention it here:
    �Climate Shifts� is a topical commentary regarding climate change, natural ecosystems, politics and the environment. The blog is written and maintained by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg*, and can be found at and

    *Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is with the Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland.

    As this blog will deal with some of the political aspects of global warming, it may fill a gap in the coverage found at RC?

  47. 97
    Chuck Booth says:

    re # 94 (Ken Coffman)

    Why do you think anyone here is “demanding” anything from you or anyone else? Why do you think anyone wants to “reach into” your life and “make you” change your ways?
    The scientists who study climate and feel the data strongly point to anthropogenic global warming have an ethical obligation to convey their concerns to the citizens who fund their research, and to the governments who allocate the research money and want valuable information in return in order to make rational decisions about how to protect the interests of the citizens. Individual scientists and visitors to may have their own personal views (e.g., Tamino, #95) about what can and should be done to address global warming (and the related problem of our over- reliance on fossil fuels), but I really don’t think anyone here is trying to make you do anything except understand the seriousness of the problem. What you choose to do, or what your elected politicians urge or require you to do, is outside the realm of science.

  48. 98
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 89 Fred: “What is your opinion about the claim that there has been no global warming since 1998 as insisted by climate skeptics constantly?”

    That the claim is simply and demonstrably not true.

    Although 1998 was higher than subsequent years, with the possible exception of 2005, all subsequent years have been higher than any year between 1980 and 1997, and the slope of the trend for all years from 1999 to 2007 is still positive, ergo we are still warming.

  49. 99
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ken Coffman wrote: “I’m an affluent American living in suburbia. If you could reach into my life and make me change my ways, what would you do? What ten things would you demand?”

    Probably the most important thing is to shed the underlying notion that the basic laws of physics which underly anthropogenic global warming will adapt themselves to accommodate what “affluent Americans living in suburbia” want. The Earth’s climate and biosphere don’t care what “affluent Americans” want. The lifestyle of “affluent American suburbia” is not sustainable. It is going to end, probably sooner rather than later. And not as a result of “mandates” from the government, or (the idea is laughable) from “environmentalists”, but as a result of mandates from Nature.

    Deal with it as you will. You can make changes now, and perhaps help transform our way of life to one that is sustainable and does less damage to the Earth’s climate and biosphere, or you can continue to live the “affluent American suburban” lifestyle until its aggregate effects cause industrial civilization to collapse, and you are forced to make much more draconian changes then.

  50. 100
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 98 Which set of average global temperatures are you quoting from, and why?