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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.”

TGGWS Redux

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. 301
    Hank Roberts says:

    RodB wrote elsewhere, after repeating frequently asserted beliefs:

    > I’m not inclined to dig out the cites and sources; you all
    > can if you wish or disbelieve if you wish.

    Same reply as to John above applies. Trolls don’t cite sources.
    Credulous people believe them. Don’t be among them, check what people tell you. Much of the political posturing is mythology, lies.

    Stuff gets made up by people who are far out on any spoke of the political wheel. There are outliers, and there are far out liars.

    If you want to talk with people who view the world from other angles, get close enough to the facts that you can cite sources others can find. Else you’re making stuff up, or repeating stuff you can’t trust not to have been made up.

    If you’re repeating stuff you took on faith — that’s religion, even if you believe it’s politics. Cites, please, gentlemen.

  2. 302
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    Its off topic, so this my last word on this topic, and yes I know DFTT.

    Rod B.: “You’ve probably forgotten the short-lived Federal law that required all towns with a municipal water supply to provide water with ZERO pollution.”

    I can not forget a law that never existed. The federal law you are writing about is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its been in place for over thirty years.

    From the Congressional Research Service:
    “After reviewing health effects studies, the EPA sets a nonenforceable maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse health effects occur and that allows an adequate margin of safety. The EPA also considers the risk to sensitive subpopulations, such as infants and children. For carcinogens and microbes, the EPA generally sets the MCLG at zero. Because MCLGs are based only on health effects and not on analytical detection limits or the availability or cost of treatment technologies, they may be set at levels that are not feasible for water systems to meet.

    Once the MCLG is established, the EPA then sets an enforceable standard, the maximum contaminant level (MCL). The MCL generally must be set as close to the MCLG as is “feasible” using the best technology or other means available, taking costs into consideration (SDWA §1412(b))”
    http://www.ncseonline.org/NLE/CRSreports/06Aug/RL33549.pdf

    There have been controversies with the SDWA, mostly involving the financial costs that cities and states had to pay. Amendments to the SWDA shifted the costs to the federal government which is better able to pay them.

  3. 303
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod (sigh), you dumped a pile of bogus claims in the ozone thread.
    Since you don’t have sources for them I’m going to wait to see if you can find any support for what you believe, besides your political or religious faith that what you believe must be true. I doubt you can.

    Asbestos: you doubt any need? Bogus claim if you bother to do the slightest reading in the medical literature. Problem’s still out there.
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1852671

    “… Significant excess mortality from nonmalignant respiratory disease was observed even among workers with cumulative exposure

  4. 304
    J.C.H says:

    Well, I’m gonna continue drinkin’ my morning cup of DDT. That old bugger lived into his 90s.

    But thanks to Hank I’m gonna give up sprinklin’ my DDT with asbestos dust.

  5. 305
    Rod B says:

    Hank, I know how much you adore cites. And I do understand their value. I simply chose not to spend more time looking for references on the internet. And if you reject my contention because of that, well, that’s probably both of our losses, though probably neither of us care. BUT, not surfing all over the place does not, in any way, make me an outlier, lier, credulous, a myth monger, unscientific, or a troll [edit]

  6. 306
    Rod B says:

    Joseph, as Walt quoted from the EPA from EPA documents, “…Zero-discharge by 1985 is a goal, not a requirement under the law.”

    Odd choice of words don’t you think? Why would the EPA feel obligated, in 1983, to explain that zero discharge is not a legal requirement?

  7. 307
    Rod B says:

    Of course the asbestos problem is still out there. It’s just way overblown. E.g., spending hundreds of millions if not billions, to eliminate asbestos from self-contained interiors of thousands of schools, asbestos which had a virtually nil chance of ever being exposed to school children, and most of which was probably the short fiber variety which is almost benign… is…wrong-headed, [edit] not to mention terribly cost ineffective — the original contention BTW.

  8. 308
    Hank Roberts says:

    Bogus. This is not hard to check. These are the references supporting sampling all lengths for the WTC health followup,
    http://911ea.org/3Final_WTC_Synthesis.pdf

    So who’s protecting _your_ family?

    CBPR EXPERT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
    REVIEW OF THE DOCUMENT ENTITLED,
    “Draft Proposed Sampling Program to Determine Extent of
    World Trade Center Impacts to the Indoor Environment”
    David O. Carpenter, M.D., University at Albany, Chair
    Scott M. Bartell, Ph.D., Emory University
    Paul W. Bartlett, B.E.S., M.A., City University of New York (on leave)
    John Dement, Ph.D, CIH, Duke University
    Liam O. Horgan, CIH, Assessment Resources & Technologies, Inc.
    Gary T. Hunt, M.S., QEP, TRC Companies, Inc.
    Richard A. Lemen, Ph.D., Ass’t Surgeon General, US Public Health Service
    (retired)

    which says in part:

    “14. Given the preponderance of short, very thin chrysotile fibers in WTC dust,
    should fibers

  9. 309
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ah, there’s that “less than” symbol bug, my fault, I forgot to change it to text.

    We should get this back on climate.
    I just couldn’t let that old “safe short asbestos” PR tale stand without challenge. It’s nonsense.

    Quoting from the WTC sampling program proposal:

    “14. Given the preponderance of short, very thin chrysotile fibers in WTC dust,
    should fibers less than 5 u in length, with aspect ratios equal to or greater than 3:1,
    be included in the sampling results and considered in assessments as to whether
    or not cleaning is warranted?

    Short fibers should be sampled and reported. Any assumption that short fibers, less
    than 5 u in length, are not hazardous cannot be justified based on the available science
    [see 14]. There is clearly less evidence for harm to humans from short, thin as
    compared to long fibers, but there has been less study and less analysis of short, thin
    fibers. The analytical method of choice for regulatory purposes has been the phase
    contrast method (PCM), which counts only fibers greater than 5 u in length and aspect
    ratios of 3:1. Epidemiology studies therefore have been forced to compare doses in
    their cohorts only to fibers greater than 5 u in length. It must be noted that the PCM
    analytical method was only chosen based on its ability to count fibers, not on any health
    effect basis [15]….”

    So — would you be willing to try to support your beliefs “justified based on the available science” here?

  10. 310
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    For a final clarification, Rod B the law you wrote required zero pollution in municipal water supplies is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and recall it did no such thing.

    The web page Walt cited was a history of the Clean Water Act (CAA), which is a different law and not the SDWA, and so does not apply. Second the EPA did not explain in 1983 that zero discharge is not a legal requirement. The web page does not state that. It does state the original language that created the current water pollution regulatory framework in 1972 never required zero discharge.

    To answer your question Rod B “Why would the EPA feel obligated, in 1983, to explain that zero discharge is not a legal requirement?”: The EPA did not explain in 1983 zero discharge was not a legal requirement because it never was a legal requirement, and so the EPA never felt obligated to explain this.

  11. 311
    John Finn says:

    John, as always, I’m curious where people get beliefs they come to RC and state as though they were facts. Were you using your own knowledge and logic to conclude that it makes no difference when and where (and how) fossil fuel gets burned, that the outcome is always the same? If so we can point you to ways to look these things up that will help avoid jumping to conclusions.

    Hank

    If you’ve followed the discussion you will note that the explanation that aerosols were the cause of global cooling is not quite as straightforward as some may believe. I actually brought up the point that aerosols were regional (referencing Mann and Jones). Gavin may disagree with me on the overall effect of aerosols (but then again may be not) but I hope he understands that I am making some valid – if not totally proven – points.

  12. 312
    Dan says:

    re: 306. Not an odd choice of words at all. As someone who works with them daily, many of EPA’s documents are (legally) “guidelines” or “goals”, not legal requirements. Since the agency was founded in 1972. You could find this out at epa.gov.

  13. 313
    David Price says:

    re.297 the question remains why did the co2 effect predominate before 1940 and the aerosol effect afterwards? Unless the depression of the 1930′s caused aerosol concentrations to stagnate while co2 continued to accumulate.

  14. 314
    Hank Roberts says:

    David, you’ve understood it! Half the fossil fuel use to date occurred since the 1970s. There’s a long slow warming process after CO2 is released. The heat from CO2 indeed “continued to accumulate”

  15. 315
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 313 David Price: “the question remains why did the co2 effect predominate before 1940 and the aerosol effect afterwards? Unless the depression of the 1930’s caused aerosol concentrations to stagnate while co2 continued to accumulate.”

    Don’t make the mistake of assuming only two factors (CO2 and aerosols). Solar variation is _always_ a factor, and it is generally agreed that solar insolation played the dominant role prior to the mid 20C, with aerosols masking CO2 warming from ~ 1945 to ~ 1975, when CO2′s forcing became more dominant than solar variation’s role in temperature rise.

  16. 316
    Rod B says:

    Hank (309): Actually your cite is not too far off from what I said….

    Joseph (310), then you’re just not reading things. The EPA’s history goes to great pains (with emphasized typefont, eg) to say “zero discharge by 1985 is a goal, not a legal requirement”. Now it’s likely that a strict and careful reading of the actual statute would say it is not a requirement. But the thrust and clear implication (from EPA documents, too, though you can’t probably find the ones with the bad stuff anymore) was that zero discharge was the law. Granted, it did not persist for very long, but that was the path many went down. Including a nimber of municipalities regarding their drinking water supply. To be honest I can’t recall if any actually went bankrupt, as opposed to their plans saying they would — maybe it was before any actual bankruptacy that the EPA regrouped..

    Dan, give me a break from the benign altruistic EPA. When was the last time they told someone ‘you’re not in compliance, but that’s O.K. You tried. And it’s only a goal. No problem. Have a nice day.’?

  17. 317
    catman306 says:

    Does anyone keep track of how much rain is falling on the Greenland ice cap as a result of the hurricane remnant that is passing just off its coast? Many tropical storms dumping rain on the ice, one after another in succession, seems like a nightmare scenario. The accumulating heat energy in the tropical oceans makes it plausible.

  18. 318
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, you wrote of asbestos your belief that “the short fiber variety … is almost benign” and I asked you for a cite. Asking again.

    The references I found for you said there is no good science to make such claim, and the footnotes and cited papers give good reason to believe the short fibers are as dangerous as longer ones — and recommend that the sampling procedures _start_looking_ for them in the air; they say the sampling procedures now do not _look_ for any asbestos fiber shorter than 5u. You think absence of evidence is proof there’s no problem? Short fibers are already known to be found in the damaged tissue.

    When you write “almost benign” is that programmer’s usage of “almost” — as ‘almost right” meaning “not right” to you? Eh?

    On the EPA letting polluters off, you want just one example? Read the news; plenty on exactly that.
    Not to mention EPA appointees losing their jobs when caught at it. Good grief, just look before you proclaim beliefs, eh?

    ADMINISTRATION PREPARING TO LET AIR POLLUTERS OFF HOOK in exchange for information the EPA already has the right to collect. … http://senate.gov/~govt-aff/index.cfm?Fuseaction=PressReleases.View&PressRelease_id=502&Affiliation=C

    Water Utilities To Congress: Don’t Let Water Polluters Off the Hook; … The EPA has identified MTBE as a possible human carcinogen that renders water … http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/archives/K/2/pub2715.html

    Maria Cantwell – U.S. Senator from Washington State: “Closing the loopholes and stopping the lax enforcement that let corporate polluters off the hook is simple commonsense,” said Cantwell. …. http://cantwell.senate.gov/news/record.cfm?id=268222

    http://www.google.com/search?q=EPA+official+resign

    This may help with the questions about continuous versus line spectra. See the actual page, quote is just a teaser not an answer:

    “… Kirchoff recognized that three fundamental types of spectra (see Figure 2 ) are directly related to the circumstance that produces the light. These Kirchoff spectral types are comparable to Kepler’s Laws in the sense that they are only a description of observable phenomena. Like Newton, who later was to mathematically explain the laws of Kepler, other researchers have since provided a sounder basis of theory to explain these readily observable spectral types….”
    http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/CliffsReviewTopic/Electromagnetic-Radiation-Light-.topicArticleId-23583,articleId-23482.html

  19. 319
    Chuck Booth says:

    A bit off-topic here, I suppose, but this point frequently comes up in discussions about AGW: Skeptics (including, but certainly not limited to, people like conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh) often claim that puny humans can’t possibly impact global climate. I think it was Hank Roberts who recently commented, “Tell that to the Passenger Pigeons.” For further evidence of how humans are dominating the natural world consider this paper in the latest (July 31) issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [U.S.]: A team of German scientists have estimated that humans appropriate 23.8% of annual plant net primary production “of which 53% was contributed by harvest, 40% by land-use-induced productivity changes, and 7% by human-induced fires. This is a remarkable impact on the biosphere caused by just one species. We present maps quantifying human-induced changes in trophic energy flows in ecosystems that illustrate spatial patterns in the human domination of ecosystems, thus emphasizing land use as a pervasive factor of global importance. Land use transforms earth’s terrestrial surface, resulting in changes in biogeochemical cycles and in the ability of ecosystems to deliver services critical to human well being. The results suggest that large-scale schemes to substitute biomass for fossil fuels should be viewed cautiously because massive additional pressures on ecosystems might result from increased biomass harvest.”

    Haberl et al., (2007) Quantifying and mapping the human appropriation of net primary production in earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. PNAS vol. 104, no. 31, pp. 12942-12947
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/31/12942 (HTML; Open Access)
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/104/31/12942 (PDF; Open Access)

  20. 320
    Dan says:

    re: 316. Sorry, no break at all for you. Every single day compromises are made with respect to EPA guidelines. One example: Emission controls on industries are not required to be solely the best. Economic factors (e.g. costs to the industry to install the controls) are weighed in. Every state has an air pollution agency which deals with this. You can contact yours and find out. Ask about the factors involved with “Best Available Control Technologies”. Or search the internet about them. Ironically, they are not always the “best” emission control-wise.

  21. 321
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    To end this thread on a more civil note, I will note that much of this thread has been based on a misunderstandings and will try to clear them up.

    Rod B claimed the law that required municipalities to reduce water pollution to zero in the water they supplied for households and it bankrupted communities. Like climate science, there are no easy answers in environment law. A person without legal training could think the law, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), said no pollution, but its more complicated than that. The law did not require pollution to be zero, just to look to that as a goal if it was financially and technologically practical. The law did put a substantial financial burden on small communities who had limited funds to comply with the SDWA. There have been legislative acts that have reduced the burden, but have not eliminated it. In deference to Rod the costs to small communities have been a problem, but there have also been substantial gains in household water quality.

    The Clean Water Act (CWA) is a different law that deals with a different areas. There is some overlapping coverage, but municipal water suppliers are covered by the SDWA not the CWA. The goal of no pollution is in what is basically the preamble of the CWA. It was really just some grandstanding by politicians who wanted to show how much they cared about clean water for their constituents, and has little effect on the implementation of the CWA. In more deference to Rod, an untrained person could come to the conclusion that the CWA mandated zero discharges, while understandable this conclusion is wrong. Again pollution control is weighed against economic and technological considerations. The financial problem of small communities complying with the SWDA does not occur because the CWA has provisions that provide funds for states and communities that need financial help with complying with the CWA.

    I promise that this will be my last word on this.

  22. 322
    John Finn says:

    Gavin, Hank, John Mashey, BPL, Nick Gotts (a bit for you at the end)

    First, let me apologise if some of my posts seem a little curt and discourteous. It’s not intentional. It’s just that I often don’t have much time and, in trying to get to the point, tend to post comments rather hurriedly. I note, looking back, that one of my responses to Gavin began in a style which could be misinterpreted. Sorry about that. However, I still maintain that my general argument is correct.

    This all began when I responded to BPL’s comment that the aerosol explanation for the 1940s cooling was “easy” . I knew I was on pretty safe ground challenging him for the data because there isn’t any – no direct data anyway – because the technology (i.e. satellites) to make accurate measurements didn’t exist in the 1930s/40s. Even to-day we can’t provide a reasonable estimate of the current aerosol forcing because a) we don’t know past history (Hank – See Mann & Jones, IPCC report) and b) no-body is really sure what the climate forcing is for a given atmospheric aerosol concentration.

    I’m not totally won over by the solar argument (I’ve criticised some points on other blogs) but it does seem to explain the early and mid 20th century climate pattern better than the SO2/CO2 hypothesis (this, btw, does not rule out CO2 as a prominent driver). In an earlier post, I suggested that 1940s cooling in the SH ‘disproved’ the SO2 cooling theory. Gavin responded to say that the SH had not cooled. He is correct. There was no long term cooling trend in the SH as there was in the NH, but the warming trend did come to an end, and there was a short term cooling of a few years which coincided almost exactly with the rise and fall of the 10Be production (i.e. cosmic ray influence) as depicted in the Lockwood paper (another source, Hank). Gavin has indicated that there is some inconsistency between different 10Be records. Ok that might be the case – I can’t answer that.. But that doesn’t alter the fact that there is massive doubt over aerosols.

    Nick Gotts (& John Mashey)

    Nick – most of what you say is correct. Aerosols could swamp CO2 effect in the early years. But if that’s the case (i.e. SO2 forcing is greater (in magnitude) than CO2 forcing) you must accept that the rise in temperatures between 1910 and 1945 was due entirely to the sun. If CO2 is the main driver for the early 20th century climate then it defies logic that SO2 should overwhelm it after 30-odd years.

    To those who tell me that CO2 accumulates but SO2 doesn’t – I know that ‘s exactly my point (or one of them). To induce cooling, the SO2 production in one year would need to overwhelm the cumulative CO2 effect of decades

    John M. – I’m quite sure that fossil fuels vary in their sulphur (sulfur) content, but this is not really the point – unless, that is, you can show that there was a humungous (massive! gigantic! ) switch from low sulphur to high sulphur fuels sometime around 1944.

    To those who tell me that sulphates are regional, I know – this is exactly my other point. Western Europe and the US (Nick) cover barely 10% of the NH (and less than 5% of the world) . If sulphates were responsible for an average cooling of say 0.5 deg in the NH then Western Europe and the US would have to cool by around 5 degrees.

    And yes, Nick, you’re right there has been a drastic cut in Sulphur emissions – certainly in Europe and also in the US – since the 1970s/80s. So what ‘s caused the rise in temperature in those places since then? The rise in CO2 – or the reduction in SO2?

    In the years leading up to 1980, Europe was emitting around 60 Mt of sulphates per year. I’m not sure of the latest figures, but it was down to around 25 Mt a few years ago (I’ll get the sources for this, Hank). 35 Mt per year less –EVERY YEAR! Think about it! The Mt Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991 spewed about 17 Mt of sulphates (Self et al) into the stratosphere. Europe alone has reduced it ‘s sulphur emissions by 2 Pinatubos per year. If industrial aerosols are as effective as is claimed then European temperatures should have risen by at least a couple of degrees since 1980 **. Even a rise of a fraction of that doesn’t leave any room for CO2 warming.

    In a nutshell: the role of aerosols is highly uncertain to say the least.

    ** Did you notice what I did here. I used sulphur emissions data to infer atmospheric aerosol concentration (and, hence, climate forcing) – something I ‘d been critical of in earlier posts.

  23. 323
    Rod B says:

    I tried a lengthy post but I think I messed up the submission. Or Gavin understandably got tired of this stuff and canned it. But I’ll try a shortened cryptic version. First in light of my 316 and Joseph’s 321 I’ll bury the zero pollution thing.

    Hank’s refutation of the short-fiber asbestos thing is odd in that it includes a quote from the EPA that ‘evidence has not shown s-f asbestos to be harmful.’ Granted they go on to say that the science is not complete and it would be prudent to assume it might be harmful a la WTC dust. (and, yes my “almost benign” means just what you say, Hank… ’cause it’s what I said.) I would agree with that per se to a great extent in that circumstance — slightly different from the entombed asbestos in the schools. It’s also instructive to recognize the EPA statement (probably) came shortly after the EPA had its head handed to them for early on declaring the WTC environment was completely benign. Anyone who understand bureaucracy understands the statement. Do you all conclude that the near $billions spent on eradicating the hidden asbestos from thousands of schools was a wise and cost effect action — as opposed to teachers, labs, and stuff?

    Hank refutes my “not letting them off the hook” assertion by saying he knows guys who have been fired from the EPA for doing just that. That’s odd!! Also, I know the laws include goals, guidelines, and strict compliance all. The EPA follows the law. Which one of you want to walk into an EPA office with a tank of R-12 and say “nya nya” while thumbing your nose at them?

  24. 324
    Hank Roberts says:

    > If CO2 is the main driver for the early 20th century climate then it defies logic that SO2 should overwhelm it after 30-odd years.

    About the time that contrails started being produced — first time the combustion products were being injected into the stratosphere artificially, closer to what big volcanos do, compared to the emissions from the pre-WWII fossil fuel use that was burned almost entirely at ground level.

  25. 325

    [[re.297 the question remains why did the co2 effect predominate before 1940 and the aerosol effect afterwards? Unless the depression of the 1930’s caused aerosol concentrations to stagnate while co2 continued to accumulate.]]

    As I understand it, increased sunlight was part of the cause for the early 20th century warming, since the Solar constant (TSI) did ramp up a bit over that time period.

  26. 326

    [[Dan, give me a break from the benign altruistic EPA. When was the last time they told someone ‘you’re not in compliance, but that’s O.K. You tried. And it’s only a goal. No problem. Have a nice day.’?]]

    Since the current administration took over?

  27. 327

    [[John M. – I’m quite sure that fossil fuels vary in their sulphur (sulfur) content, but this is not really the point – unless, that is, you can show that there was a humungous (massive! gigantic! ) switch from low sulphur to high sulphur fuels sometime around 1944.]]

    Look at economic output in the ’40s as compared to the ’30s. A switch to higher-aerosol-effluent fuels wasn’t needed. The world burned a lot more fuel in 1944 than it did in 1939.

  28. 328
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    Newsweek article: The Truth About Denial (not just a river drying up in Africa). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20122975/site/newsweek/page/0/

  29. 329
    Dan G says:

    I haven’t quite caught-up reading this entire thread, in case this has been mentioned before, but has anyone been paying any attention to the weather in the Middle East? A letter writer in today’s Globe and Mail reports that the temperature in Baghdad hovers consistantly around 50C, according to the newspaper’s weather page. Is this not excrutiating? If it’s true — why haven’t we heard more?

  30. 330
    J.C.H says:

    Other things about 1944 – a whole bunch of extra cellulose was being burned.

    I don’t know what the impact of explosives would be, if any, but there were also lots of explosions. On Iwo Jima my father’s half-track platoon (4 75mm guns) fired 45,000 75mm shells in 36 days, and there were barely any woody plants left on the island that weren’t burned to a fair degree.

  31. 331
    Timothy Chase says:

    John Finn (#294) wrote:

    Nick – most of what you say is correct. Aerosols could swamp CO2 effect in the early years. But if that’s the case (i.e. SO2 forcing is greater (in magnitude) than CO2 forcing) you must accept that the rise in temperatures between 1910 and 1945 was due entirely to the sun. If CO2 is the main driver for the early 20th century climate then it defies logic that SO2 should overwhelm it after 30-odd years.

    You are presenting a false alternative.

    The sun was the primary driver prior to 1945, but it was not the only driver.

    As late as 1930, the human population was only 2 billion. By 1975 it was 4 billion, many of whom were enjoying living standards made possible by a relatively advanced economy. Likewise, the sun has been cooling – by some indices, apparently as far back as 1950.

    John Finn continues:

    To those who tell me that CO2 accumulates but SO2 doesn’t – I know that’s exactly my point (or one of them). To induce cooling, the SO2 production in one year would need to overwhelm the cumulative CO2 effect of decades.

    Since the sun was the dominant driver in the earlier part of the 20th century, it would make sense that sulfates could overwhelm solar variability as far back as 1944. By 1960 the sun was clearly cooling off, and if solar variability were the only driver, there is no reason to expect temperatures to rise after 1970.

    Given that economic output was rising since 1939, at the time in preparation for a world war which was only just beginning, it should come as no surprise that the effects of aerosols should come to dominate the effects of both solar variability and the cummulative effects of carbon dioxide. Then pollution laws came into play in the advanced economies around 1970 which started reducing the levels of anthropogenic aerosols.

    And as you point out, sulfates don’t stay in the atmosphere for very long. They reside in the lower atmosphere and tend to get washed out in the rain. But carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a very long time. Its cummulative.

    As such it makes sense that for a while the sprinter of aerosols will do better than the marathon runner of carbon dioxide early on, but we have every reason to expect carbon dioxide to win in the end. Even if pollution laws had not reduced the production of aerosols, carbon dioxide would have eventually become the dominant forcing. As it was, temperatures only began to take off by 1979 and they have been accelerating since.

    Given solar variability, one would not expect temperatures to be accelerating upwards but to be trending downwards for the past several decades. By itself, with a leveling off of aerosols one would expect temperature trends to be flat or trending downwards with the continued growth of the world economy, not accelerating upwards. Clearly greenhouse gases are now the dominant forcing.

    Ba-da bip, ba-da bang, ba-da boom.

  32. 332
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 329 Dan G. – Temps in Baghdad

    That is no secret – I read about it in the paper today. Daytime (and night time) temperatures around 50 C (122 F) sound excrutiating to me,esp if you don’t have A/C or good water to drink, but I don’t think they are unusual for that region in the summer. As I recall, the highest air temperature ever recorded was about 56 or 57 C in Libya early in the 20th centure (presumably, the weather station was sited properly and the thermometer properly calibrated).

    Are you wondering if those high temperatures in Iraq are unusual, or possibly due to global warming? The point of your question is not clear.

  33. 333
    Magnus H. says:

    Re. the Mike Lockwood paper:

    This paper seems to have hit a nerve with some contrarians/sceptics/denialists, and I have seen various other papers being mentioned in the blogosphere and in discussion forums as “evidence” that Lockwood is wrong. (I apologize if I’m bringing up papers that you may have discussed here, but I couldn’t find them mentioned in any recent thread on this site.)

    A couple of papers being put forward as such “evidence”:

    One is a paper by Charles A. Perry: Evidence for a physical linkage between galactic cosmic rays and regional climate time series (Journal Advances in Space Research, 2007). It is available here (PDF1, PDF2, HTML).

    Abstract: This investigation identified a relation among TSI and geomagnetic index aa (GI-AA), and streamflow in the Mississippi River Basin for the period 1878-2004. The GI-AA was used as a proxy for GCRs. The lag time between the solar signal and streamflow in the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri is approximately 34 years. The current drought (1999-2007) in the Mississippi River Basin appears to be caused by a period of lower solar activity that occurred between 1963 and 1977. There appears to be a solar “fingerprint” that can be detected in climatic time series in other regions of the world, with each series having a unique lag time between the solar signal and the hydroclimatic response. A progression of increasing lag times can be spatially linked to the ocean conveyor belt, which may transport the solar signal over a time span of several decades. The lag times for any one region vary slightly and may be linked to the fluctuations in the velocity of the ocean conveyor belt.

    A second one is a paper by Alexander, Bailey, Bredenkamp, van der Merwe and Willemse: Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development (Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Enginering, 2007). It is available here (PDF1, PDF2, HTML).

    Abstract: This study is based on the numerical analysis of the properties of routinely observed hydrometeorological data which in South Africa alone is collected at a rate of more than half a million station days per year, with some records approaching 100 continuous years in length. The analysis of this data demonstrates an unequivocal synchronous linkage between these processes in South Africa and elsewhere, and solar activity. This confirms observations and reports by others in many countries during the past 150 years. It is also shown with a high degree of assurance that there is a synchronous linkage between the statistically significant, 21-year periodicity in these processes and the acceleration and deceleration of the sun as it moves through galactic space. Despite a diligent search, no evidence could be found of trends in the data that could be attributed to human activities.

    What is your take on these two papers? Are they bringing up anything new, or is it a rehash of old arguments?

  34. 334
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tell us about those journals? The Perry paper is available from the “globalwarmingswindle” website. The big news about his paper would be he claims the patterns he describes could have happened because the global ocean circulation has slowed down over the past several decades, or something like that. He’s looked for matches in time series and says he found them — but with different “lag times” between each of them, many of the lag times in decades, and explains the lag times as possibly from some undetected behavior of the global ocean circulation. It’s the first paper I’ve read in a while that made the word “farrago” pop into my head.

    “There appears to be a solar ‘‘fingerprint’’ that can be detected in climatic time series in other regions of the world,
    with each series having a unique lag time between the solar signal and the hydroclimatic response. A progression of increasing lag times can be spatially linked to the ocean conveyor belt, which may transport the solar signal over a time span of several decades. The lag times for any one region vary slightly and may be linked to the fluctuations in the velocity of the ocean conveyor belt…..”

    Seems like if you have enough time series charts and can pick any stretch from any of them, odds are fairly good you’ll find some part of each one matches your proposed index — then he proposes something that might allow lag times of decades different from each one.

    This sentence isn’t quite right, he writes: ” Svensmark et al. (2007) demonstrate that the production of new aerosol particles is proportional to the negative ion density under experimental conditions similar to those found in the lower troposphere over oceans.”

  35. 335
    Hank Roberts says:

    Southern Africa: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998GeoRL..25.2711T

  36. 336
    Timothy Chase says:

    RE Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development
    (Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Enginering, 2007)

    While trying to look some parts of the story up, I found the following analysis:

    The study finds a strong correlation between water levels and sunspot numbers. But the correlation is a short term correlation – there is little to no correlation in the long term trends.

    For example, there is no long term trend in Lake Victoria’s levels from 1900 to 1940 when solar activity showed long term increase. Any short or long term correlation breaks down between 1930 to 1970. Next, to obtain correlation over 1968 to 2005, they filter out a 29mm per year trend where there’s been no long term solar trend.

    Water levels correlate with sunspots
    Skeptic Argument
    John Cook 2007
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=70

    There is more. It is short but well worth checking out.

    In any case, it looks like this new approach to sunspots is all wet. Standard fair for the denialists: if it don’t fit, force it, lop off the bits that are getting in the way, and fill in the holes hoping nobody will notice. Their version of the scientific method.

    However, Cook’s site is one of those resources I will want to keep tabs on.

    Check it out if you don’t already know about it:

    Skeptical Science
    Examining the science of global warming skepticism
    http://www.skepticalscience.com

  37. 337

    Not sure that anyone remembers, or much cares, but sometime today, after I wake up (heh, it’s 2am and I’m still up …) I’ll have an electrician running around on my roof installing 1750 watts worth of solar panels. I’m planning to have a “Green Party” once the weather cools down enough to leave the A/C off. The idea is to make sure the batteries are charged, then open the main disconnect to the grid, and have a party off-grid :)

    If any RealClimate people are in the Central Texas area and want to party on the sun, you can mail me using my name at gmail dot com.

  38. 338
    NicK Gotts says:

    Re #322 [Nick – most of what you say is correct. Aerosols could swamp CO2 effect in the early years. But if that’s the case (i.e. SO2 forcing is greater (in magnitude) than CO2 forcing) you must accept that the rise in temperatures between 1910 and 1945 was due entirely to the sun. If CO2 is the main driver for the early 20th century climate then it defies logic that SO2 should overwhelm it after 30-odd years.]

    John, there are multiple factors making up net radiative forcing. As I understand it (I’m absolutely no expert), the best scientific evidence suggests that the sun did make an important difference in the early 20th century, when it was increasing in radiance, but there were significant anthropogenic factors acting in both directions (rises in atmospheric GHGs, black carbon and some land use changes pushing in the warming direction, aerosol effects on cloud cover and other land use changes in the other). If the sun had not been pushing in the warming direction there might have been no warming, or even a cooling (I think the evidence and understanding of mechanisms is probably not currently good enough to say, but would welcome expert correction). If that’s so, you can say the warming was “due entirely to the sun” if you want. What’s odd about your comment is that you seem to think that the explanation for global temperature changes since 1900 must be either “all solar” or “all anthropogenic” (and you seem to limit the latter to CO2 and aerosols); and hence you think it would be somehow problematic for me to “admit” the important role of the sun in the early 20th century warming. It isn’t. The evidence is clear that the sun has had a small role, if any, in the warming since 1970 and that increased GHG concentrations in the atmosphere have had a large one.

  39. 339
    NicK Gotts says:

    re #322 [In the years leading up to 1980, Europe was emitting around 60 Mt of sulphates per year. I’m not sure of the latest figures, but it was down to around 25 Mt a few years ago (I’ll get the sources for this, Hank). 35 Mt per year less –EVERY YEAR! Think about it! The Mt Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991 spewed about 17 Mt of sulphates (Self et al) into the stratosphere. Europe alone has reduced it ‘s sulphur emissions by 2 Pinatubos per year.]

    Industrial sulphates don’t get into the stratosphere – they leave the atmosphere in days to weeks, volcanic ones can take a few years. Incidentally, the recent Nature paper on the Asian “brown cloud”
    (Nature 448, 575-578 (2 August 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06019
    Warming trends in Asia amplified by brown cloud solar absorption

    Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Muvva V. Ramana, Gregory Roberts, Dohyeong Kim, Craig Corrigan, Chul Chung & David Winker)

    as well as noting the large uncertainties in the believed-to-be-negative global aerosol effects (also noted by the IPCC), suggests aerosol pollution could have important regional warming effects. At least, that’s according to the first paragraph, online at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7153/abs/nature06019.html – I haven’t seen the whole article yet. So while you’re right that aerosol effects are incompletely understood, I don’t think you can conclude that the lack of a strong regional cooling effect in the mid 20th century means there can’t have been a significant global cooling effect from them over that period. However, expert comment on this paper would be welcome!

  40. 340
    Hank Roberts says:

    >Svensmark
    The bit I noted in 335 is actually a quote from the press release, not from the actual Svensmark paper. The press release was wrong.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/taking-cosmic-rays-for-a-spin/
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006/10/svensmark-stumbles-into-smog-chamber.html

  41. 341

    (I think we need a new “Friday Roundup”. This one is getting a bit long in the tooth …)

    In the “Ozone” thread some posters have made comments regarding what can best be described as a bit of an ascetic lifestyle.

    Yesterday when I was buying a new lawnmower, because the current one is starting to fall apart after 8 years, I ran into a guy who is building a house out in the high desert. His estimated power production is going to be on the order of 9KW. Because it’s a mix of wind and solar, he should have an abundance of energy to waste as he sees fit, constant wind, lots of clear sunny days — this is an off-grid application, so there won’t be any netting of energy anywhere, what he doesn’t use, he’ll lose. The mower I was buying, by the way, is rechargeable and has many nice features that I’ve not see on moderately priced gasoline mowers — and the batteries required for this application are small enough I can charge them from a small solar array I have as a playtoy — 60 watts is all it has, and that’s not accurate because it uses a primative charge controller that doesn’t perform DC-to-DC conversion to match array output voltage to battery charging voltage. Last night, after doing a bit of yard work, I left the flood lights on for a few hours so I could pack up my tools and relax. Back before going to CFLs I’d never have done that — turning the yard into daylight on incandescents is too expensive, but on CFLs I don’t have to be as careful.

    The short answer is that contrary to the doom-and-gloom we-must-suffer school of environmentalist thinking, we can be both “green” and prosperous. I watched a number of videos on the “White Zombie” — a converted Datsun (apparently it is old enough that it is still a Datsun) that beats V8-powered muscle cars. “Plasma Boy Racing” also links to “Blue Meanie”, another conversion that looks to be faster off the line than my ’79 Corvette with a high output 350 c.i.d. motor. “Green” and lightning fast doesn’t sound like an ascetic lifestyle to me. My electric consumption is down by more than a third, I now leave lights “on” just for convenience (before I was a fanatical light turner-offer), and my electric consumption is still down by a third, and that includes adjusted for outside temperature.

  42. 342

    Re #184 on the “Ozone” thread –

    Re:176 Furry Cat. It is even better than that. The buyout firm is Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts & Co, a huge private equity firm specializing in leveraged buyouts. This is not an environmentally sensitive firm, they are capitalist with a capital C, where profits always come first. If KKR saw benefits to going green, prospects for progress on the warming front just got a little brighter.

    Here’s a press release as of 7/27/07 –

    Luminant and Shell Join Forces to Develop a Texas-Sized Wind Farm

    “Shell WindEnergy Inc. and Luminant, a subsidiary of TXU Corp., announced today a joint development agreement for a 3,000-megawatt wind project in the Texas Panhandle and to work together on other renewable energy developments in Texas.

    Shell and Luminant will also explore the use of compressed air storage, in which excess power could be used to pump air underground for later use in generating electricity. This technology will further improve reliability and grid usage and becomes more economical with large-scale projects, such as proposed for Briscoe County.”

  43. 343

    [[Not sure that anyone remembers, or much cares, but sometime today, after I wake up (heh, it’s 2am and I’m still up …) I’ll have an electrician running around on my roof installing 1750 watts worth of solar panels.]]

    Bless you for putting your money where your mouth is.

  44. 344
    Hank Roberts says:

    Forest fires — not ‘if’ but ‘when’
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12488328

    ————————–Excerpt:

    Ron Neilson, a bioclimatologist with the USDA Forest Service in Oregon, uses computer models to predict how climate change will affect plants over time. Though a warming planet should produce more rainfall over time, Neilson’s models show that forests will grow beyond what the available water can support, and they’ll start to turn brown.

    Neilson is particularly concerned about the southeastern United States, where the terrain and the climate doesn’t vary much. That allows fires to spread easily over wide areas.

    “If one point is ready to go up, a whole huge area is ready to go up,” says Neilson.

    This scenario played out in the dried-out Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida this spring when the swamp caught fire and merged with another blaze that eventually scorched an area the size of Rhode Island.

    Carbon Conundrum

    Scientists are also concerned about fires in the “boreal forests” of Canada and Russia. The permafrost underneath those trees is melting, exposing deep layers of peat soil that has locked away carbon for thousands of years. When those forests catch fire, Neilson says huge amounts of carbon will be released, speeding up climate change…..

    ———– end excerpt ———

    Story goes on with nitwit blather from the forest products industry — most wood cut down and turned into lumber ends up burned or trashed sooner than it would if it were left to grow, even considering the risk of forest fires.

    The little site I’m working on restoring in my copious spare time had a foot of topsoil a century ago, the local hydrologist told me, and how has, oh, about two-thirds of an inch above the mineral soil, a thin skin held together by the roots of the perennial plants on the surface above many meters of loose talus that’s held together by the roots of the bigger trees. Burn that off and a decade later the roots have rotted away, the organic material’s washed out from between the rocks, and landslides start happening. Same thing follows big fires as follows aggressive logging, slopes fail, and what’s left washes into the river beds.

    Nature does fix these problems but it takes many centuries. People may be able to as well, but it takes clearing and carefully burning brush, it takes managed fires that burn at low intensities between the trees without killing many of the trees, and there’s no way any of this kind of management can be done on the big northern forests.

    From the NPR story —- and I am posting this hoping the climate modelers are talking to the forest service fire people about their models —- this is another big feedback, on its way fast.

    A year or so ago we had a visit from a Volokh lawyer who caught a typo, proclaimed that big hurricanes wouldn’t necessarily increase just because small and medium size hurricanes were increasing, and who went away when I asked him if he thought big forest fires also wouldn’t increase even when small and medium forest fires were increasing. I wonder if he’s reading.

  45. 345

    Re #343:

    “Bless you for putting your money where your mouth is.”

    Hah! I got stood up — that’s what I get for writing the guys a fat check in advance. They have a good excuse tho — we’ve had the wetest first half of the year on record and they are backed up on work. The local lakes went from “crisis” on the low side to “crisis” on the high side.

    He’s due to show up on my roof in 2 weeks. Piccies when it happens.

  46. 346
    Dan G says:

    Re 332 and Baghdad’s temp — there was no hard question. I did (and still do) wonder about those high temps in Baghdad — not because of global warming but because they are consistently 15 or twenty degrees higher than all the other six or seven temps in the middle east given in the paper (Cairo’s for instance) and I do find that puzzling. And, having just endured temps of 31 and 32 with no AC, I was astonished to contemplate 53, wondered at why people would locate themselves there, and had to think that if anyone can show us how to keep cool economically, surely those residents could.

  47. 347
    Magnus H. says:

    #334, Hank: Tell us about those journals? The Perry paper is available from the “globalwarmingswindle” website.

    I would normally never use such a website as a reference, but they happen to have a copy available of this paper (for those who might be interested in reading it). I tried to find the Perry paper through Google Scholar, but got nothing. I tried a “regular” Google search, and found an abstract from ScienceDirect and a PDF from the aforementioned website. Just a few days ago Google Scholar started listing the Perry paper with a reference to the PDF at the Umweltluege website (a reference I first picked up in a discussion forum). But if you try to download this PDF you will get an error message. The whole website now seems to be gone! Strange, eh?

    Same thing with the Alexander et al paper. No reference through Google Scholar, but a PDF is available from both the Lavoisier Group and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition – two denialist groups. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    #336, Timothy: However, Cook’s site is one of those resources I will want to keep tabs on. Check it out if you don’t already know about it.

    Thanks for the link. I have sent him a mail asking for an opinion on the Perry paper. I’ll post it here if I get a response.

  48. 348
    Magnus H. says:

    #336, Timothy: However, Cook’s site is one of those resources I will want to keep tabs on. Check it out if you don’t already know about it.

    #347: Thanks for the link. I have sent him a mail asking for an opinion on the Perry paper. I’ll post it here if I get a response.

    —–

    Cook’s website has now been updated with comments about the Perry paper.

  49. 349
    Hank Roberts says:

    O.m.G…. Cook’s site is wonderful.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/swingle_sun_vs_T.jpg

  50. 350

    HEY! WE NEED A NEW FRIDAY ROUNDUP!

    Oh, and the first of the solar went on the roof today. Pics are in the camera and will be uploaded to Photobucket soon.

    Meanwhile, I’m waiting on the bill from the electric company. It should be posted real soon now. It’s looking to be around 1,150 kilowatt-hours, as compared to something closer to 1,750 for last year this time. Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t cut our electric consumption drastically just through simple conservation measures, like those twisty light bulbs.


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