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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. 101
  2. 102
    Craig Repasz says:

    From #94 ” Besides respect (which must be earned, not granted),”

    Any scientist working in earnest should have already earned our respect. However, this is not the case with the AGW issue. What has been granted has been disrespect as a matter of course. The PR machine has produced a number of “experts” who have broad brushed the majority of climatolgists as a bunch of hysterical alarmist who do not understand thier science. This unfounded message gets parroted by the laity.
    A scientist who has a PhD, Post Doc, numerous years of experience in the field, and is highly published in peer review journals is operating with a skill set and understanding that is beyond a lay persons comprehension. Why do you think they need to demonstrate that they are worthy of our respect. It is a rather arrogant assumption.

  3. 103
    John Mashey says:

    re: #100, #101
    Graphs are often better than words, the GISTEMP graphs are really useful.
    In addition:

    which shows long-term 1880-2005 (plus short-term volcanic) radiative forcing effects in one place Figure (a). Solar irradiance has an 11-year jiggle, superimposed on a slight rise in the early part of the period. Volcanoes cause very sharp dips, and Figure (b) gives the total forcing, whose trend is pretty obvious, and certain relates well to the one line in (a) that’s going up strongly, i.e., well-mixed GHGs.

    [2], Figure 2, which in particular highlights volcanoes, El Ninos / La Nina’s, and of course, the latter two impose additional non-radiative jiggles.

    One might conclude from this:
    (a) Scientists actually know there exist many factors, i.e., they don’t expect there to be some simple formula that predicts next year’s temperature:
    T = f(X), where X is one factor.

    (b) Given ENSOs and volcanoes, it is total silliness to pick one year and draw sweeping conclusions, especially when using a simple temprature chart that doesn’t capture those events.

    Anyway, thanks again GISS: great charts, very data-rich; Tufte would be pleased, as these capture a lot of insight in just a few charts.

    re: #100: Jim: would you prefer such data come from Kristen Byrnes’ website?
    Via Google james cripwell ponderthemaunder, I see you’re a fan of hers, although I’m mystified as to why would care.

    [2} Shows temperatures charts with volcanoes,

  4. 104
    cat black says:

    #99 [affluence] I was just thinking that we have a genetic predisposition to consume and none to conserve. This of course is the basis for the “tragedy of the Commons” made famous in much research and analysis. One could probably make the case that ravenous consumption is actually cultural. But if it is, it is also true that the cultures who choose to live within the limits of nature are quickly overrun by those that chose differently, as we have seen countless times in the last few centuries, resulting in a gradual cultural shift towards ruinous consumption.

    Watching the Deniers do their work, I am struck by the realization that they are the voice of the arch consumers. They will, very clearly, win in the end. The ones that set things aside cannot protect what they did not consume themselves, they are overrun, and it is consumed anyway. This appears to be the future of humanity, the few examples of successful conservation not withstanding.

    On the other paw, Nature bats last. Our silly habit of eating everything in sight, and digging up the earth until it runs raw into the sea, will shortly translate into us eating our own children. That is how Nature dispatches the mindless, undirected consumers in the world. Silly buggers.

  5. 105
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #94, my strategy has been to go for the money-saving measures first. And all aspects of energy and resource efficiency and conservation should be considered. So CF bulbs; low-flow showerhead (costs $6, saves $2000 in 20 years in water and hot water bills – water requires energy to pump & heat it); SunFrost refrig ( ) if you can afford it – pays for its high price in energy and less spoilage in about 11 to 16 years. That’s just for starters.

    Also, on your next move, buy a house closer to work/school/shops; run multiple errands; turn motor off in drive-thrus; offset some driving with walking/cycling — it’s also good for the health and spirit; etc.

    If alt energy is available, use it. Our 100% wind electricity from Greenmountain initially cost some $5 more per month, but now we save about $2 a month — it’s actually cheaper than gas/coal/oil generated electricity.

    So do the money-saving things first, then the cost-neutral things, and finally the things that cost more (using savings for the money-saving things to offset or break even). I’m sure you would be able to reduce your GHGs by at least 1/3 with the cost-effective measures, if not more.

    Carrier AC Co had an add years ago – a family ran out of their home shouting “We’ve been robbed,” and the neighbors gathered around. They had spent a whole lot more in electricity with their inefficient AC….So upgrading heaters & ACs.

    NATURAL CAPITALISM ( ) talks about tunneling through & other ideas.

    Then with alt energy, I think a family could reduce by 3/4 without lowering living standards. And if they wanted to “sacrifice” a bit, emissions might be reduced even further. For instance, I’m planning to buy a plug-in hybrid car, once they are available, then drive on the wind for 95%+ of my driving needs, and that will not be cost-effective for us, but it’ll be the big thing we do for the earth and future generations. But since we started saving so much money from 1990 on with all these other measures, we will be able to afford it.

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    To Gavin and others — may I suggest a thread or a FAQ called “Why We Have Hope!” or words to that effect?

    This is why:

    We _did_ good. We can do good again.

  7. 107
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Sorry ya’ll, this is way off topic, so skip if it makes it to the thread and you are of a more focused type.

    Re 104: You have a point, but I’m not sure that the organized deniers are the voice of the arch consumers. IMO, they are rather the voice of those who make fortunes out of the arch consumers and spend fortunes into making normal human beings into mindless consuming machines, starting at the earliest age. My daughter’s TV watching is carefully selected and yet she is already able to identify logos and the corresponding brands, simply because the exposure is so pervasive.

    One big problem is that the marketing point of view applies to everything in the world and nothing has value if that value can not be assigned a dollar figure right now. People trained in business and economics (the “dismal science”) have overwhelmed the entire world and applied their rule to all areas of our lives. Never before have humans been so rich and so greedy at the same time. This world is now run by the bottom line ogres, and it will go where that leadership takes it. The “people” have become irrelevant, since they will follow the best propaganda, which will likely be the best propaganda money can buy. The funniest thing is that these ogres are sincerely convinced of working for an overall good design, thanks to the illimited human ability for rationalization. After all, they incidentally provide jobs, don’t they?

    In addition, the ambient scientifc illiteracy is such that rethoric carries more weight than science. One could wonder why somebody so ill qualified as Crichton could ever end up in a debate treating of climate science, yet it has happened. Looking at Tamino’s and Eli’s blogs, I was surprised to see how patient they both were when the dialogue ventured farther and farther from science and into rethoric, the favorite terrain of politicians, mind manipulators and the like.

    I agree with cat black in the sense that life does not care. From dust particles flying in the air to the very inside of rocks, it has already established bacteria as its main and most important/resilient reservoir for all ages. Each one of us carries more bacterial cells than human. The most abundant known life form on Earth is still Pelagibacter Ubiquii (sorry, don’t know how to do italics), although acidification might change that. It’s fair to say that, from the point of view of life, we are a fancy, amusing and disposable life support system for bacteria. Regardless of what happens to us, life will go on until the sun dies and quite possibly beyond (those spores can be suprisingly resilient).

    Yet, funnily enough, what happens to us is really up to us.

  8. 108
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re 79, Barton has collected an interesting compilation and analysis of data and graphs and regarding analyses of a doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. A histogram of 25 GCMs, shows a normal distribution, with relatively small variance. 1 S.D. is slightly less than one degree(.95). The mean is 3.15.
    It’s good to have one number such as a mean for the entire Earth, but we have to be aware of the fact that there are places like one in Greenland described in the July 2007 issue of National Geographic. One station monitored by Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado shows a rise in winter temperatures of about 5deg.Celsius since 1993! One of his comments was “It was supposed to be minus 20 and instead it was raining.”

  9. 109
    Sean O says:

    Regarding Ken Coffman at 94 (and more to the commenters on his topic specifically Chuck Booth at 97):
    I think Mr. Coffman’s question bears a great deal of conversation. I know I discuss this on my site ( but I don’t have an answer to Ken’s very legitimate question.

    Mr. Booth’s reply is admirable but I think perhaps a little innocent. While RC does a pretty good job of not ramming demands down the throats of its readers, others on this issue are not so kind. In fact, Al Gore currently is asking everyone to take a pledge that forces industrialized countries to reduce the CO2 footprint by 90% within a generation (what is that 18 years? 25 years?).

    So to repeat and re-emphasize Mr. Coffman’s question but put it in light of Mr. Gore’s request: how does one reduce their CO2 footprint to 10% of current levels?

    Please don’t say lightbulbs and water heater blankets since even wikipedia points out that CFLs use MORE energy footprint than incandescents since they use more energy to create than incandescents. Most lightbulbs are not made in the US these days so it appears that we are diminishing our energy use but all we are really doing with CFLs is moving that energy use to another country – a form of carbon trading, I suppose. Also, the relatively high amounts of mercury in CFLs don’t exactly make them the friends of Mother Nature either. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised in 5 years to hear a strong call for the elimination of CFLs in favor of other forms of lighting that are more Earth friendly (maybe incandescents will come back to favor).

    Eliminating production energy for lightbulbs from the equation you would save between 5 and 10% of your household – call it 8%. Where does the remaining 82% come from?

    After the list is created, we then need to look at total energy usage. As in CFLs, hybrids are not a panacea when you factor in production energy and recycle energy (and you HAVE to recycle at least a portion of hybrid car since it has so many batteries that can’t just sit in junkyards for 50 years).

    I have been called a semi-skeptic before and I guess I will wear that hat. I prefer to be called a pragmatist. If the world is going to end, put up a realistic solution. Personally, I have been trying to find a good solution that compares to just funding mosquito nets in Africa (we know we can save thousands by doing that) and funding free AIDS medecines (another million saved).

  10. 110
    Marion Delgado says:

    cat black:

    Actually, the tragedy “of the commons” is simply a subset of the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” called the “free-rider problem.” It occurs in everything from radically free markets to collective farms. In every single case, there are two ways to ameliorate the bad effects. One is to make sure the interactions are repeated and the agents are roughly taggable. The most dangerous prisoner’s dilemmas are either one-shots – where rational economic man is assumed to “defect” – that is, take all the slack out of the situation, exploit it maximally, use every loophole – or completely anonymous. The other, even more important, is that there be a trusted outside coordinating authority (when applied to markets, in fact, this is called a failure of coordination). In a Prisoner’s Dilemma, if everyone just does their bit and is not too greedy, on average, everyone benefits.

    The outside coordinating authority doesn’t have to necessarily use force or even be real – gods were the authority for many communities. A good example would be a co-op house. Someone’s car alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Unenlightened self-interest would dictate that, since the best outcome is to have someone else go out in the cold and shut it off while you stay in bed, you should wait until some sucker bites the bullet and does it. But if everyone does that, none of you will sleep all night. If you have an agreed-upon rotating task of being the car-alarm shutter-offer, you will cheerfully do it, since you trust the system and believe everyone will do their modest bit for the good of all. There the authority is the community as a whole – if you constantly defected, you’d be expelled.

    Similarly, in a commons situation, if I am a rancher or sheep farmer, and I know the government or the grange society or whatever will equally restrict us all with even-handedness, I will not put much energy into violating the law and overgrazing. You can say in that case that the heavy hand of the state is controlling people, but actually it’s a tiny catalyst.

  11. 111
    David B. Benson says:

    While only weather, it has certainly been a strange spring and early summer here. In particular, there seems to be a most unusually large amount of the sky filled with stratospheric clouds. (I know, because the jet contrails form beneath those clouds.)

    Is this to be taken as a bad sign?

  12. 112
    Philip Machanick says:

    Having posted a few responses to the debate in Australia on the ABC’s swindle forum (often pointing to RC), I feel energized to offer to help with getting Australian denial stuff onto your Wiki. There’s a mine of debunkable stuff in The Australian alone … google on global warming and see for yourself.

  13. 113
    Philip Machanick says:

    Has modeling taken into account any increase in aerosols from dirty industries in developing countries (especially China)?

    This may dampen the greenhouse effect as it did when the developed world had dirty industries, but there is even more pressure in China to clean up general pollutants, because of reports of ~500k premature deaths per year from pollution, than to clean up CO2 emissions. So I can’t imagine this as being anything better than a bit of breathing space (figuratively) before things get worse.

    Any comments on what the science is showing?

  14. 114
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref #103. I am trying to understand why there are differences between the various values of average global temperatures; considering they all apparently use the same data. The NASA/GISS set seems to be the one of the ones with the least following. Most people seem to prefer Hadley/CRU; e.g. IPCC seem to use Had/CRU data. So I am intrigued to know why someone picks one set rather than another. As to Kristen, Ponder the Maunder, I was not aware she had a set of values. As to sewgirls, I am one of the few men who have the sense to realize that women should not have all the fun when it comes to embroidery. I have been a participant on rec.crafts.textiles.needlework (rctn)from just about the time rec.crafts.textiles split into many newsgroups. On climate skeptics I go by the pseudonym of Jim Rctner. My passion is counted cross stitch, and if you want to see pictures of my female nudes, and other things, please visit

  15. 115
    Hank Roberts says:

    David, contrails are cirrus clouds; poking around, I came across this interesting description of flying in and out of cirrus; it specifies a lot about where contrails formed, talks about cirrus below the stratosphere and investigating their formation:

  16. 116
    tamino says:

    Re: #114 (Jim Cripwell)

    I’m one of those who tends to use NASA/GISS rather than HadCRU. They provide beautiful graphs, update regularly, and provide lots of different data sets, including zonal means, in very convenient format. I was also under the impression (correction welcomed) that GISS has been considerably more forthcoming about their data and methodology.

    And I’m American, and NASA/GISS data are from the good ole USA.

  17. 117

    Re 109:

    All of my posts include a link to a Live Journal post that’s pretty much all about CFLs and how much they save.

    If anyone doubts the difference they make, that’s a post worth reading. This month I should save about 500kWH — that’s lights and not having to suck the heat out with the A/C.

    That 500kWH is for about 30 total bulbs. They last about 7 years, so that’s 42MWH over their lifetime (actually it isn’t — I only save 400kWH / month in the cooler months). Wholesale electricity costs about $40 / MWH. If all of the $250 I paid to replace those bulbs was “energy” — no profit, no salaries, no other expenses, just “energy” — the 6.25MWH it (hypothetically) took to make them is still less than the 42MWH they will save. And since retail electricity is about $150 / MWH where I live, I’m going to save many, many times what I paid for those bulbs over the next 7 years.

    That’s not “carbon trading”. That’s “significant carbon reduction”. And the mercury? Coal fired plants emit heavy metals that were embedded in the coal that’s burned. So, there will be less of that as well.

  18. 118
    Hank Roberts says:

    >why there are differences between the various values of average global temperatures

    I’ll flag this question for the Contributors or real scientists here —- because searching on this question pulls up a LOT of skeptic sites of the “scientists can’t even agree ….” sort. Perhaps someone who’s worked at several of the different groups that produce these data sets can talk about them and about how science works by people all over the world each bringing new bits to the puzzle.

  19. 119
    Hank Roberts says:

    Speaking of sources for global temperatures, here’s NOAA — in today’s news:

    * The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the second warmest on record for the January-June six-month period. Separately, the global January-June land-surface temperature was warmest on record, while the ocean-surface temperature was the sixth warmest in the 128-year period of record….
    * For June, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the fourth warmest on record as neutral El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions contributed to an overall lower global ranking for the month.
    * Above average temperatures covered much of the world�s land surfaces during the first half of the year. While some land areas in the Southern Hemisphere began the June-August winter season with below average temperatures, it was the warmest June on record at the South Pole.

  20. 120
    dhogaza says:

    Please don’t say lightbulbs and water heater blankets since even wikipedia points out that CFLs use MORE energy footprint than incandescents since they use more energy to create than incandescents.

    Wikipedia says no such thing.

    It says they MAY require more energy to create than is saved over their lifetime because component parts and the bulbs themselves are on average shipped further than is true of incandescent bulbs.


    Due to an artifact of current patterns of manufacture and shipping, not the technology itself.

    The notion that in the future we may see a call for a ban of CFLs in favor of a return to incandescents is ummm ummm ummm fantasy.

    Here is the exact quote from wikipedia:

    the total lifetime energy (from manufacture to disposal) may actually be higher (due to the transportation of all the component parts around the world)

  21. 121
    nicolas L. says:

    re: 106

    Hank is damn right, we shouldn’t get too pessimistic on our capacity to act (do we have the choice anyway? :)). The Montreal protocol, which aimed at eliminating Ozone Depleting Substances (who are also powerfull greenhouse gases),is a great exemple of international treaty that have worked and works still well. Total phase out of CFCs is planned for 2010 (and we’re on track to succeed in this)and total elimination of all ODSs will be 2040. Ozone layer will progressivly strengthen thanks to this, and optionnally we will have wiped out a part of our GHG emissions (estimated to still account for 20 % of human made forcing on climate… small, but that’s a start).

  22. 122
    Alan K says:

    #103, 114
    it’s pretty vile that anyone should decide to include anyone’s evidently irrelevant personal activities on this site and that that person should be forced to “defend” or explain it.
    needs a bit of editing in future, I think

    [Response: ‘Vile’ is a bit strong, but I agree w/ the overall point made. Folks, lets avoid personal comments here, ok? – Mike]

  23. 123
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 116. How do you classify the NCDC/NOAA data? It also comes from the good old USA, and seems to be similar to NASA/GISS in other respects.

  24. 124
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref #118. May I endorse this completely. I would suggest that the IPCC WG1 in AR4 missed a golden opportunity to do just that. May I also suggest that it would be a good idea to annotate any quotes of average global temperatures showing the source. e.g. NG for NASA/GISS; NN for NCDC/NOAA; HC for Hadley/CRU; CR for CRU; etc if there are any others.

  25. 125
    tamino says:

    Re: #123 (Jim Cripwell)

    I haven’t really used NCDC/NOAA enough to have a feel for how friendly the data format/graphs are. I’ve gotten used to GISS data, and find them suitable for all my needs, so now it’s become habit. It ain’t broke, I ain’t gonna fix it.

  26. 126
    pete best says:

    Re #121, a phase out of CFC’s was possible because the whole of western civilisation and a lot of the east did not rely on it for everything! This is the issue resulting from coal, gas and oil, there are at present no viable political or economic alternatives that can come online in anything less than around 30 years that will have the effect of offsetting 4 billion tonnes of CO2.

    I am not for one minute suggesting that a couple of million 5 MW wind turbines or a number of solar stirling engines or a new DC based Amercian wide or EU wide energy network will not work, its just that politically its gonna take a long time. Well to around 2050 at the earliest at any rate mainly due to the 70% increase in energy demand.

  27. 127
    Bob Schmitz says:

    I am quite sceptical about CFL lightbulbs myself: In less than 5 years we can buy LED illumination, probably in nice warm colors, which hardly consumes any energy at all. Would it be worthwhile to change now towards CFL technology while it is already almost obsolete???

  28. 128
    John Mashey says:

    re: #122 (Alan K (?))
    I wrote:
    “Via Google james cripwell ponderthemaunder, I see you’re a fan of hers, although I’m mystified as to why would care.”

    I’ve reread that sentence several times.
    Someone must be awfully sensitive to react like this (vile?), when there was zero criticism of anyone’s interest in sewing. [I was taught enough to get by when I was a kid, everyone should know at least a little.]

    However, I have long had an interest in the mechanisms by which information, misinformation, and disinformation get spread, in the hopes of helping the former and discovering the latter. My current hobby is working through the list of URLs gotten from Google: ponderthemaunder, looking for patterns and relationships among websites, people and dates.
    Of the 560 hits, most were in plausible places.

    I was quite surprised to see a hit in , where it seemed maximally OT … but then I recognized the author’s name (from RC), and this wasn’t his first anti-AGW posting there. At least most such are in blogs and newsgroups for which they fit better.

    Anyway, my comment wasn’t about sewing, it was about why there be such skepticism of mainline science, combined with a willingness to not only accept PtM, but bring it up in places where it is clearly OT. Of the various references to PtM, sewgirls was the furthest OT, by far :-)

  29. 129
    James says:

    Re #109: […even wikipedia points out that CFLs use MORE energy footprint than incandescents since they use more energy to create than incandescents.]

    Really? Let’s think about the logic of that. Suppose the non-energy costs of making a bulb – materials, labor, &c – are the same. (Though I suspect the CFL’s costs are higher.) Since energy costs money, use the difference in price as a measure of the energy that went into the bulb’s manufacture. Then measure the cost of the energy needed for each to produce X number of lumen-hours, (I think that’d be the unit?) At some point the money saved on the electricity should equal the cost of the CFL, and at that point you’ve used less total energy.

    (Obviously there’s a break-even point: it doesn’t make a lot of sense to e.g. replace the hall closet light that I might turn on for a total of 5 minutes per month.)

    [Eliminating production energy for lightbulbs from the equation you would save between 5 and 10% of your household – call it 8%. Where does the remaining 82% come from?]

    You can look these things up, you know :-) Of course every house is going to be different, depending on climate, usage patterns, etc, but offhand I remember the big ones as being water heating, refrigeration, and heating/cooling. For water heating, why not a solar water heater? For refrigeration, a new, efficient refrigerator – not even a SunFrost, just the best I could find at the local Home Depot – dropped my electric bill maybe $5-10 per month.

    Upgrading my insulation has saved me several hundred a year on heating costs, and I hope soon to have solar space heating to cut that even further. Where I live, nighttime temperatures drop into the 60s even when daytime highs are over 100, so opening windows at night combines with the decent insulation to make A/C unnecessary.

    […hybrids are not a panacea when you factor in production energy and recycle energy (and you HAVE to recycle at least a portion of hybrid car since it has so many batteries that can’t just sit in junkyards for 50 years).]

    Very few cars sit in junkyards for 50 years. After they pass their usefulness as a source of salvage parts (which itself saves energy) they’re generally crushed and recycled – which saves energy compared to the cost of mining & refining new metals. Batteries can likewise be recycled, just as lead-acid batteries are now. Nor do hybrids have to run on batteries: there are systems that use hydraulics (I think UPS developed one for their delivery vans) or compressed air, and there are some interesting developments in flywheel storage.

    I think you’re making the mistake of thinking of hybrids as a mature technology, when it’s more like the situation with personal computers before the introduction of the first IBM PC.

  30. 130
    Furia Fubar says:

    I read the Science article yesterday…I liked the analogy they used of a canoe tipping, tipping, and tipping over

    I cant believe the “deniers” are so tenacious. Knowledge is not a matter of belief. Scientists, while they may want some glory, are not out to swindle the public en masse

  31. 131
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 126: The CFC case was interesting indeed. The affected industries had no shortage of economic doom and gloom predictions. Nowadays, opponents of environemental regulations and many climate deniers often bring up the topic with the punchline: “see, the ozone hole is fine, nothing bad happened, all the worry was nothing but hype.” As often, that song is both deceptive and ignorant of reality. The reality is that very strong regulations and a definite international phase out effort were enacted. The results are showing, the “hole” is recovering, although not as well as expected. What’s interesting is that ordinary people hardly noticed that anything was being done at all. It proves that the hype was, in fact, in the pessimistic economic scenarios. However, it makes it easier for deniers to spread their message: the masses will easily believe that the ozone hole is all fine without any intervention, since they don’t remember doing anything about it. Kind of ironic, really.

    Of course, the effort to tackle the climate/CO2 will be quite noticeable, which does not mean that is can’t be done.

  32. 132
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Let me refer to #s 11,55, 89, and 122 for encouragement, and I am trying to behave like a scientist; no polemics. I always hope that the two sides can talk like scientists on some aspects of this important issue. I do not pretend to understand the “sweet spot” for forecasting, but I am trying to understand this whole concept. Let me propose a scenario. Let us suppose that the UNFCCC meeting this December ends with no agreement to curtail the use of fossil fuels, so that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase at the rate identified by the IPCC WG1 to AR4. Let us look into the future as far as you like. What would be the maximum value of the average annual global temperature anomaly , should it occur, which would make the supporters of AGW “writhe in agony”. Maybe a value such as 0.15C. Looking at this question the opposite way, if an average global temperature anomaly exceeded 1.0C on the Had/CRU set, or 1.1C on the NCDC/NOAA set, or 1.2C on the NASA/GISS set, within the next 10 years, then I would have to agree that AGW was a real possibility.

    [Response: The next ten years should see a continued trend of about 0.2 to 0.3 deg C/decade rise (barring any significant volcanic activity). But given the ‘weather’ noise, a 95% confidence interval on the expected trend (going from previous ten year estimates) is roughly the same magnitude (much smaller for 20 years though). That implies that the ‘mainstream’ estimate is that the chances of the next ten years having a zero or negative trend is roughly 1 in 40 (though you might get slightly different numbers using different global temperature products). Thus if there were no trend over the next 10 years, that would be a significant outlier (unless there was some obvious reason like a big volcano, or the sun shutting off). – gavin]

  33. 133
    Sean O says:

    Regarding 129.

    Interesting analysis. I don’t think it adds up though. Your assumption is that energy price is a constant throughout the world (it isn’t). You are also assuming that it is the same type of energy that you get when you plug in your lightbulb – it isn’t. In order to make fluroescent bulbs you must burn a gas of some kind – you can’t only use electricity to build them (although you do need electricity to operate the machinery). Electricity is simply not efficient at producing the type of heat required at the individual locations required. For your analysis to work, it looks like energy cost would need to be a constant.

    Your comments on cars are the point I was trying to make. You have to recycle hybrid cars (at least their batteries) and that is a highly toxic endeavor that is quite expense and NOT factored into the cost of the vehicle itself.

    The stated goal for Live Earth is reduce energy footprint by 90%. The list of conservation efforts simply do not add up to that since every one of those efforts uses energy as well in the production (how much energy does it cost to create a solar panel?). It isn’t about the ability to reduce the individual footprint but rather the ability to reduce everyone’s footprint in the industrialized countries by 90% and non-industrialized by 50%.

  34. 134
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts — Thank you, that was an interesting read. Cirrus at 25–39 kft. Which agrees with typical commericial jet aircraft operating altitudes of 30–39 kft around here.

    I still have the question whether the unusally large amount of cirrus so far in 2007 is a bad sign (heat trap) or a good sign (high albedo)?

  35. 135
    Hank Roberts says:

    David, you might try over at Head in a Cloud (see sidebar); I’ve found that a very informative and all too quiet website for this sort of question.

    Poking around a bit, I found this
    but I don’t know who’d have current info, or could help you answer the implied question whether what you see locally is a global effect.

  36. 136
    Travis Porco says:

    Is there any way to gain access to primary data on past temperature, such as the data used in the ‘hockey stick’ reconstruction? Thanks!

    [Response: The World Data Center for Paleoclimatology or Pangaea are the main primary sources. – gavin]

  37. 137
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts — Thank you again. It had not yet occured to me to wonder whether this might be global. I had just assumed we are getting some California weather, the way California is getting Mexico’s, etc.

  38. 138
    James says:

    Re #133: [Your assumption is that energy price is a constant throughout the world (it isn’t).]

    No? Close enough for a first approximation, though, since if the fuels used to create the energy had higher value elsewhere, someone would likely be exporting it.

    [In order to make fluroescent bulbs you must burn a gas of some kind…]

    Why? They’re glass, just like incandescent bulbs. Heat it and form to shape. Then you add a fluorescent coating & some circuitry, or a tungsten (which is not the easiest element in the world to refine & shape, BTW) filament, and you have a bulb. Show me where there’s a significant difference in the amount of energy needed in the production process. There’s not even much difference in the price these days – a big change from the first CFLs I bought, at about $10 each. (And at least 10 years later, all of them but the one that got dropped are still working.)

    [You have to recycle hybrid cars (at least their batteries) and that is a highly toxic endeavor that is quite expense and NOT factored into the cost of the vehicle itself.]

    You don’t have to recycle hybrid cars or their batteries, any more than you have to recycle conventional cars & the (more toxic) lead-acid batteries they contain. People recycle cars & batteries because they make a profit by doing so – and a pretty good one, if my experience of auto dismantlers is any guide :-) Some of the current generation of hybrids can be already be found in wrecking yards – just do a search for Prius or Insight salvage parts.

    As for the batteries, the current generation NiMH batteries are no different (except for being constructed to allow higher currents) than the ones used for other applications.

  39. 139
    Travis Porco says:

    i think i found the data (cancel previous comment).

  40. 140
    Dan says:

    re: 133. This appears to be another classic red herring to be added to the denialist’s long list. That is, using tunnelvision when analyzing the comparative energy costs to produce various light bulbs with little consideration of the overall net benefits over time of lower energy required to use CFL and/or LCD bulbs. Sounds quite similar to the initial and unsubstantiated whining about energy requirements for hybrid development that came out against the first hybrid vehicles. And often agenda-driven as was the case against the hybrids when they first came out.

    Tunnelvision seems to be a favorite of denialists. We see it in the quite narrow-minded scientific discussion of the surface temperature data base and attempts to discredit the data without seeing the overall large picture of other observations and proxies across the globe. There seems to be an apparent failure of many denialists to grasp or understand the large scientific picture over space and time. Constantly cherry-picking and regurgitating bits and pieces in failed attempts to support their cause is nothing less than an astounding and sad reflection of the general state of scientific education.

  41. 141
    pete best says:

    Re #126, I agree that the public did not notice phasing our CFC’s in favour of other chemicals except for deodorants where a big thing was made of it here in the UK anyway.

    Next up is AGW, however this mindset is totally different and politicians have been seduced by the lobbyists time and time again. Funding in alternative energy policy has been next to zero. Sure we have been promised in Scientific American and New Scientist a hybrid car or a hydrogen car once in w hile but the reality is markedly. Oil and Gas and Coal reign supreme and with the world thirst for energy growing we could be in trouble.

    you see coal fired power plants in the USA and Europe are much more efficient than Chinas but who is building them to make our goods. So why is the west not integrating their best technologies into Chinas coal power plants I wonder ???? No answer really is there.

  42. 142
    Alan K says:

    #128 – OT sewgirls
    John (John?) – first i am a very sensitive soul. Second there was more than an element of the pejorative in your reference to sewgirls as in it seemed you were belittling and ridiculing someone’s private interest more so because it concerned sewing, where perceptions are that it is an activity primarily of interest for women. Your explanation clarifies all, but the first reading qualifies 73.6% for vile.

    now…back to the science…

  43. 143
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 109 Sean O: “So to repeat and re-emphasize Mr. Coffman’s question but put it in light of Mr. Gore’s request: how does one reduce their CO2 footprint to 10% of current levels?”

    You might want to read George Monbiot’s book “Heat; How to Stop the Planet From Burning.” While the title is obviously deliberately provocative, it addresses exactly this issue. It’s examples are specific to the UK, but Monbiot’s main thrust is that individuals can not reduce their carbon footprint by 90% alone because most of per capita CO2 emissions are not under the direct control of individuals. Therefore it will require deliberate national and societal effort, yet it is possible with current and soon to be available technologies. However, it will also require a major shift in how individuals organize their lives and societies organize their energy, transport and distribution infrastructures. Bottom line: it will not be possible to cut fossil carbon consumption by 90% in developed countries and preserve business as usual, because business as usual is part of the problem.

  44. 144
    Donagh says:

    As TGGWS is still being sold to networks around the world (with some editing done of course) is it possible that Paul Reiter, one of the contributors to the ‘documentary’ is spending his spare time responding to criticism on every blog that happens to take issue with his attacks on the IPCC? Someone calling themselves Paul Reiter and showing a good knowledge of Malaria has responded to such post on my blog:
    I’m just using the fantastic resources available on Real Climate Change to respond to whoever it is. It would be great if it was him…he might even reply. I doubt it though.

  45. 145
    James says:

    Re #140: [Sounds quite similar to the initial and unsubstantiated whining about energy requirements for hybrid development that came out against the first hybrid vehicles.]

    Yes. Remember the one comparing the Hummer to a hybrid, where buried in the fine print was the assumption that the hybrid would last 100K miles, but the Hummer 300K? (At 105K, my Insight is just nicely broken in :-)) Like comparing the energy costs of making a CFL to the cost of one incandescent. The CFL lasts maybe 5 times longer, so you have to compare the cost of making 5 incandescents.

  46. 146
    tom says:

    Just curious. How would you all rate TGGWS vis a vis An Inconvenient truth??


  47. 147
    Rachel says:

    In terms of climate forecasting, you may be interested to read this:

    Kesten Green and J. Scott Armstrong recently examined the validity of the climate forecasts. To date, they have found no scientific forecasts to support global warming. Their paper “Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts” is forthcoming in Energy and Environment. The paper can be found at a new site designed to encourage a scientific approach to forecasting for public policy issues, Reactions to the paper can be found at

    -Rachel Zibelman on behalf of J. Scott Armstrong

    [Response: Hmmm…. we may have more to say about this, but in the meantime, I would direct you to James Annan’s response. – gavin]

  48. 148
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 116 and 125. What I was hoping was that somewhere, someone had had a good look at the methodology used by NASA/GISS, NCDC/NOAA, and Hadley/CRU, and found one that they consider most nearly represents what is actually happening, and provide the reasons for this opinion. No such luck. Tamino merely writes “I haven’t really used NCDC/NOAA enough to have a feel for how friendly the data format/graphs are. I’ve gotten used to GISS data, and find them suitable for all my needs, so now it’s become habit. It ain’t broke, I ain’t gonna fix it.”
    I took a look at the differences between the NASA/GISS data and the Hadley/CRU data; the ones furthest apart in value with the NASA/GISS numbers higher than those of Hadley/CRU. From 1881 to 2000 the average difference was 0.14 C. In 2007, the differences for January through May, are 0.49 C, 0.30 C, 0.26 C, 0.33 C, and 0.32 C respectively. No comment.

    [Response: The main differences are how things are extrapolated. GISS extrapolates into the Arctic, CRU does not. But since the Arctic is indeed getting warmer, the GISS method is probably capturing a little more of what is really going on. Plus you need to ensure that people are using the same baseline for the anomalies GISS uses 1951-1980. – gavin]

  49. 149
    James Annan says:

    The baseline directly explains the 0.14 mean difference (most if not all of it), since CRU use 1961-1990 ie one decade later during a warming trend. The Jan-May baseline difference may be bigger, I don’t know (exercise for interested reader to check?).

  50. 150