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Ozone impacts on climate change

Filed under: — gavin @ July 27th, 2007

In a nice example of how complicated climate feedbacks and interactions can be, Sitch and colleagues report in Nature advance publication on a newly modelled effect of ground level (or tropospheric) ozone on carbon uptake on land (BBC). The ozone they are talking about is the ‘bad’ ozone (compared to ‘good’ stratospheric ozone) and is both a public health hazard and a greenhouse gas. Tropospheric ozone isn’t directly emitted by human activity, but is formed in the atmosphere as a result of photolytic reactions related to CH4, CO, NOx and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds like isoprene, benzene etc.) – the so-called ozone precursors.

It’s well known that increased ozone levels – particularly downwind of cities – can be harmful to plants, and in this new study with a carbon-climate model, they quantify how by how much increasing ozone levels make it more difficult for carbon to be sequestered by the land biosphere. This leads to larger CO2 levels in the atmosphere than before. Hence the ozone has, as well as its direct effect as a greenhouse gas, an indirect effect on CO2, which in this model at least appears to be almost as large.

Actually it’s even more complicated. Methane emissions are one of the principal causes of the rise of ozone, and the greenhouse effect of ozone can be thought of as an indirect effect of CH4 (and CO and VOCs). But while NOx is an ozone precursor, it actually has an indirect effect that reduces CH4, so that the net impact of NOx has been thought to be negative (i.e. the reduction in CH4 outweighs the increase of ozone in radiative forcing – see this paper for more details). This new result might prompt a re-adjustment of that balance – i.e. if the ozone produced by NOx has a stronger effect than previously thought (through this new indirect mechanism), than it might outweigh the reduction in CH4, and lead to NOx emissions themselves being a (slightly) positive forcing.

In a bizarre way this is actually good news. There are plenty of reasons to reduce NOx emissions already because of it’s impact on air pollution and smog, but this new result might mean that reductions wouldn’t make climate change any worse. It also, once again, highlights the role of CH4 (the second biggest GHG forcing), and points out a further reason (if that was required) why further methane reductions could be particularly welcome in moderating future changes in climate and air quality.


243 Responses to “Ozone impacts on climate change”

  1. 101
    Nick Gotts says:

    RE: [[76

    Re #69: [RE #33, the religious right’s denial of GW or that it’s harmful.]

    In respect of which, those inclined to believe on religious grounds that AGW can’t/won’t happen because “…He designed it and the universe to withstand just about anything humans could do” might want to reflect on the Biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood.]]

    I understood that Noah’s flood was a deliberate act on the part of God (Genesis 6:7). On this issue as on many others, it seems clear religion can be used to justify practically any position, and attitudes to AGW cut across the religious/nonreligious divide, although it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.

  2. 102
    alvinwriter says:

    Surface ozone that damages plants is really the irony of the age because ozone higher up in the atmosphere actually helps protect life in the Earth’s biosphere.

    Strangely, in the Antarctic, algae that grow on the ice release iodine oxides that help deplete surface ozone. The sea salt around them also releases another ozone depleting halogen—bromine. It’s good to hear that natural processes do keep a balance of chemicals in the air. It’s the artificial infusion of them that causes problems.

    There’s more to read in this link to TheNewsRoom, the place where you can find news on global warming you can use. Email jtowns@voxant.com for details.

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

  3. 103

    [[it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.]]

    Evidence? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to see some kind of survey or poll results.

  4. 104
    alvinwriter says:

    Here’s the link to TheNewsRoom on ozone depleting algae in the Antarctic: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/536112?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

  5. 105
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE 101, you may be right about a higher proportion of AGW deniers among religious than nonreligious. That has been my vague impression. But if religions (those that hold killing is a sin) are doing their job of getting adherents to walk the talk, then we would expect the religious to be in the forefront of mitigating GW. One “religious” person told me (in response to my suggestions that GW is and will be killing people), “well, people have to die anyway.” My response was, “yes, that’s right, but they don’t have to kill.”

    Maybe it’s because worse sinners are attracted to religion — if not hoping to improve themselves, at least to find justifications for their evil. But I sort of think (as mentioned) that it has to do with self-righteousness. Those who consider themselves religious tend not to accept that they might be doing something wrong (a la social psych’s attribution theory & cognitive dissonance) — it goes against their self-concept & ego. Perhaps those who are not religious are aware that the religious majority (at least here in the U.S.) looks down on them, so they have to show they are morally superior by actually being morally superior at least in some sphere of life (saving the earth, if not other areas).

    There is also the problem of U.S. politics where pro-life candidates tend to be GW denialists and pro-choice tend to accept GW and our need to mitigate. The voters wanting to save the unborn, end up voting for persons that may be steering us in a direction that extremely harms the unborn via environmental harm. But to justify their vote, they paint the other candidate as wrong on everything, and their candidate as right on everything.

    Another factor: I’ve met plenty of pro-lifers (I’m one myself), and most tend to be so wrapped up in their narrow anti-abortion cause, that there’s no room for other pro-life issues. In fact some have very nastily told me, “you greenies are only concerned about saving the baby seals, but not human babies.”

    Others have told me, “first we need to end abortion, then we can turn to other issues.” They see other issues as a detraction from their important issue, and this gets to the post here — our Western analytic, compartmentalization. We tend to lack a holistic perspective, but focus on what the “atoms” are and how they are causing things, rather than the whole system in dynamic interaction and feedback loops. We think if we are involved in one issue, we can’t ba involved in another. If we reduce our meat consumption to mitigate, ergo we can’t reduce our driving.

    I know this is just pop soc sci and we don’t even know if GW denial is lower among atheists. And even if it is, whether there are other intervening variables that are the bigger causal factors, and when controlled for, reduce the religion-denial correlation to zero. But it is good to be considering ALL AGW components, including human social, psychological, and cultural dimensions (including religion).

  6. 106
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #103 [[ [[it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.]]

    Evidence? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to see some kind of survey or poll results.]]

    No, I don’t know of any such surveys, which is why I said “It’s my impression”. The chain of reasoning was:

    Most confirmed denialists are conservatives, particularly US conservatives.
    There is a close association between conservative political views and churchgoing, at least in the USA (see e.g. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-06-02-religion-gap_x.htm), and I would think in Europe (in Germany and I think some other continental European countries, the main conservative political party calls itself “Christian Democrat”), though a quick Google search didn’t show up any surveys.
    So it’s likely the proportion of religious believers is higher among confirmed denialists than in the general population.

    This is admittedly a fairly loose chain of reasoning, if only because “confirmed denialist” is a vague term, as is “religious believer”, and I didn’t specify, even to myself, whether “the general population” is to be taken country-by-country or worldwide.

  7. 107
    catman306 says:

    This is interesting, but it never sounded like a good idea, anyway.

    ‘Sunshade’ for global warming could cause drought
    08:13 02 August 2007
    NewScientist.com news service

    Pumping sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption has been proposed as a last-ditch solution to combating climate change – but doing so would cause problems of its own, including potentially catastrophic drought, say researchers.
    read more:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12397-sunshade-for-global-warming-could-cause-drought.html

  8. 108
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #95, Rod B, well, I did write with too much certainty about mitigating (even without AGW upon us) as economically beneficial, mainly because I’ve been presenting evidence on this many times over since the beginning of RealClimate. And I would agree it is counter-intuitive: you’d think then why aren’t people already doing those things. That, my friend, is the $64,000 question.

    My husband and I have reduced by about 2/3 and not lowered our living standards, so I know this from personal experience. Also you can follow the work at Rocky Mountain Institute ( http://www.rmi.org ), and read NATURAL CAPITALISM ( http://www.natcap.org ).

    I also started prepping for a “Business & the Environment” course some 12 years ago, and got lots of info on how various businesses having to meet upcoming environmental regs, grudging told their employees to try and come up with the least costly fixes….and were stunned to find there were many ways to reduce the pollution that actually saved them money. Re 3M’s 3P (Pollution Prevention Pays) plan, the manager asked the engineers, “then why didn’t you come up with these money-saving (to the tune of $1 billion) before?” and the engineer responsed, “Because it wasn’t put to us that way.” Re Dupont’s WRAP (Waste Reduction Always Pays), they said that if the person behind that had not retired, they’d still be finding really great ways to be more productive with less environmental impact and greater profits.

    So mitigating AGW (at least here in the U.S., & assuming we do it right) can reduce other environmental problems (which has financial pay-off in lower medical problems and bills, etc.) AND save us money without lowering productivity or living standard (at least to a 2/3 or 3/4 reduction in GHG emissions). I am very certain of that. So it is a win-win-win situation. Why many choose the lose-lose-lose path is a big question, which may have to do with other factors I mentioned elsewhere here.

  9. 109
    catman306 says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan: do you know of a site that collects energy saving tips such as this one:

    Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer so that each piece is separate can cut drying time by ten minutes. In the US, three hundred million people must wash clothes every three days, or 100 million loads a week. A tremendous amount of fuel and greenhouse gases could be saved with this simple step that anyone can do, doesn’t cost money, and is probably recommended by dryer manufactures anyway.

  10. 110
    Ray Ladbury says:

    re: denialist wingnuts and religion/politics/philosophy

    Human beings are not rational animals but rather rationalizing animals. Those rationalizations may take the form of political, religious or philosophical, depending on the bent of the individual. It may well be that more “religious” people are in the denialist camp. However, as we hear continually, correlation is not causation. There are more conservatives who deny climate change. There are more conservatives who are religious. You could probably do some sort of Bayesian calculation (in the sense of using Bayes’ theorem, not in the sense of subjective probability) to see if this explains the effect. Conservatives might be expected to be more in the denialist camp since
    1) their sources for news (e.g. Faux News and the Wall Street Urinal) tend to emphasize denialist opinion. On the other hand, The Economist has had excellent coverage AND from a pro-business perspective.
    2) they tend to be suspicious of government regulation, and they find it hard to believe that it will be possible to regulate CO2 emissions without heavy-handed regulation.
    3) they tend to be suspicious of “environmentalism” in general. In fact most conservatives I know who value the environment will not even use the word–they prefer “conservation”
    4) They view the issue as a platform for politicians like Al Gore and other so-called liberals. Ironically, by abandoning the high ground on this issue, they have handed liberals just such a platform.

    So, I think the association between religiosity and denialism is accidental–or put another way: there is no contradiction betwen science and religion, only between science and stupidity.

  11. 111
    Rod B says:

    Hank, if you’re responding to my post 95 responding to Lynn, then you missed the point. Lynn said in one of the alternative logic paths that doing everything necessary to get carbon emissions down by 80% was a super thing to do for the world and economy even if the AGW theory turned out to be false and wrong. I thought that was a simple blithe logical conclusion based on no evidence what-so-ever other than Lynn’s desires.

    BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding.

    Joseph, some of what you say is true; some not. You’ve probably forgotten the short-lived Federal law that required all towns with a municipal water supply to provide water with ZERO pollution. There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized. Though admittedly most of the blame goes to politicos — though they were aided and abetted by many “scientific” do-gooders. And, because the economic costs of, say, air pollution standards didn’t match the aginers prediction (though the economic benefits, opposed maybe to well being, of same are greatly overblown), doesn’t affect at all anyone’s scientific prediction of the cost/benefit of mitigating AGW.

    The businesses in favor of laws to mitigate AGW see a niche that they can profit from. Their scientific assessment of AGW has nothing to do with it, if it even exists.

  12. 112
    Rod B says:

    Lynn (105), I’m not sure I would agree with your distribution of attitudes, but the post is very astute and thought provoking.

  13. 113
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #105, #110 (religion, politics and denialism)

    I’d agree with Lynn and Ray that conservative political views are an important factor in any religion/denialist correlation, assuming the latter is a fact. I think those with strong “free market” beliefs are quite right to see the issue as threatening – cutting emissions will indeed require strong regulation and interference with markets at the least. I’m interested to hear what Ray says about The Economist, which I don’t often read: a few years ago it was one of Lomborg’s cheerleaders, so that’s a welcome change. I’ll have to take a look at how it tries to square the circle.

    It may be that the religion-denialism correlation would be far more marked in the US than elsewhere, as I think free-market beliefs and religiosity are more closely associated in the US than elsewhere (social conservatism and religiosity are I would think closely associated everywhere). Indeed, free-market beliefs and religiosity weren’t always linked in the US in the way they are now – consider the early twentieth century anti-Darwinian movement, motivated in large part by religious opposition to the brutality of “Social Darwinism”.

    I do think there may be a more direct religion-denialism connection – but I won’t make any assertions about it unless and until I’ve found time to look at the relevant literature!

  14. 114

    Gavin cites a mainstream thinking which is a bit of a puzzle to me:

    ” The enhancement of the warming aloft is seen purely as a function of the surface warming and a relative humidity that is roughly constant”

    This roughly constant RH idea does not make sense, there is no such thing as a natural constant RH independent of temperature. RH varies alot depending on various factors, evap sources and distribution systems (a cyclone for instance). Implying that RH remains constant means that there can only be so much water in the atmosphere, Wikipidea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_chemistry:

    “Water vapour Highly variable; typically makes up about 1%”

    Highly variable is more correct. With higher temperatures evaporation occurs more readily (http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadClouds.html), this water vapour is a strong greenhouse gas. It would be better in finding out the global atmospheric chemistry water vapour percentage, as the world warms water vapour average composition should be constantly higher. Too bad there are no such daily calculation available, it would be very revealing an should be a metric in the progression of GW.

    [Response: Total water vapour amounts are called specific humidity and they are highly variable. Relative humidity is the ratio of the actual water vapour amount to the maximum (saturation) specific humidity at that temperature. Observations and modelling both show that RH is close to constant under climate change (implying that the specific humidity changes substantially as a function of the Clausius-Clapyeron equation). - gavin]

  15. 115
    Rod B says:

    Lynn (108), I agree that some individuals, some businesses, maybe some industries could be better of after a global CO2 reduction of 80% (again, whether it proved necessary or not), or that some people/enterprises came out ahead responding to environmental concerns contrary to their initial thought. But to project a super macro world economy is just preposterous. If nothing else, nobody can predict, with any certainty, the economy 30-50 years from now with any and all assumptions. On a smaller level, reducing medical bills by reducing CO2 requires some really loosey-goosey assumptions and wild guesses.

  16. 116
    Nick Gotts says:

    RE # [BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding.]

    Rod, you give one example in the next paragraph. Others?

  17. 117
    Dan says:

    re: 111. “The “do-gooders”…were/are wrong more often than right…” and “The businesses in favor of laws to mitigate AGW see a niche that they can profit from. Their scientific assessment of AGW has nothing to do with it, if it even exists.”

    Can you provide any objective citation/study to support those unsubstantiated statements?

  18. 118
    J.C.H says:

    “…BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding. …

    There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized. Though admittedly most of the blame goes to politicos — though they were aided and abetted by many “scientific” do-gooders. …”

    I think some specific examples would be helpful.

  19. 119
    Hank Roberts says:

    > “Federal law” +”municipal water supply” +”zero pollution”
    Rod, how about over at the Friday Roundup thread? Way off topic here.
    If you can find any cite to back that story, bring it over there?
    (Note “net zero” means cleaner water going out than in, attainable.)

  20. 120
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE 109, that’s a very good tip. I tried to put together some webpages years ago (including links to other websites), but for two of them I forgot the login info to update it, and can’t reach the person in charge of hosting it….

    http://www.auroraonline.net/conservation/
    http://www.auroraonline.net/interfaithccc/
    http://www.panam.edu/orgs/eaclub/

    It’s important to keep in mind that nearly all products have GHG components — in the extraction of resources, shipping, processing, manufacturing, more shipping, and consumption. For instance, hot water requires energy to pump and heat it. Also there are other GHGs not directly related to energy consumption – such as methane from landfills….which can be turned into gas to produce energy, avoiding the bigger impact of methane than CO2.

    And simple slogans, if activity followed, can help, such as: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (all of which reduce GHGs — except, I read recently, recycling glass).

  21. 121
    James says:

    Re #101: [I understood that Noah’s flood was a deliberate act on the part of God (Genesis 6:7)]

    Just to clarify things, what I meant was that since the Biblical God had no compunction about wiping out 99.999% of the human race when they pissed Him off, today’s believers are quite unwise to count on a Divine design that will save humans from the consequences of their own acts :-)

  22. 122
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 109 catman306: “Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer so that each piece is separate can cut drying time by ten minutes.”

    Better yet: Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer and hanging it on the line cuts drying energy use and CO2 emissions by 100%.

    We’ve _always_ done it that way.

  23. 123
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 111 Rod B: “BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions.”

    Fair enough, Rod, but then you make your own leap of unsubstantiated generalization:

    “The “do-gooders”…. were/are wrong more often than right”

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    Don’t conflate scientists and ‘environmentalists’ let alone them and ‘do-gooders’ please. Stick with what you can cite: footnote to science sources. Trolls don’t.

    Friday topic is there for digressions. Let’s help by using it eh?

  25. 125
    Walt Bennett says:

    Re: 111

    “You’ve probably forgotten the short-lived Federal law that required all towns with a municipal water supply to provide water with ZERO pollution. There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized.”

    I’m concerned about mythology here. I have seen too many myths recited as fact, especially in this debate, to accept any such statements at face value. A quick read of the EPA site (http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/fwpca/05.htm) uncovered this:

    “By July 1, 1983, public treatment works must use the best practicable waste treatment technology over the life of the works. New sources of discharge are required to use the best available technology as determined by the Administrator and published in the regulations. Zero-discharge by 1985 is a goal, not a requirement under the law.”

    What I’d like is for the original poster to provide some sort of support for the assertion that (a) the law ever required zero pollution (as opposed to zero discharge); and (b) that specific municipalities spent themselves into bankruptcy attempting to abide by such a law.

  26. 126
    Rod B says:

    Gavin doesn’t like these diversions much (and probably rightly so), but:

    Nick, I can’t find my reference paper at the moment but a couple of “scares” that cost wasted money that come to mind: the cranberry scare, Times Beach, Love Canal, it’s highly doubtful that the cost of asbestos abatement came any near the benefits, auto emission controls is probably not cost effective (though might be close), and the mother of wrong-headed actions: ban on DDT.

    Dan, can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???

    Walt, et al: You’re correct. The EPA was quick to call an oops and said, too late for a few, that they were just kidding about the zero pollutant thing. I’m not inclined to dig out the cites and sources; you all can if you wish or disbelieve if you wish. And, Hank, the law was originally interpreted as ZERO — less than one molecule per 6.02×10^23 of H2O. As my quote marks indicate, I’m not sure of the credibility of the scientists who fed the politicos. You’re right about the Friday Roundup is more appropriate, but I don’t know how to transfer…

    Jim, you’re right. My estimate is a smart guess and may be off by 20% or so. But it’s certainty closer the EVERY.

  27. 127
  28. 128
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 126 Rod B: “a couple of “scares” that cost wasted money that come to mind: the cranberry scare, Times Beach, Love Canal….”

    Ahhh, I’ve been to Love Canal, Rod. I’ve also been to where the leachate emerges and flows into the Niagara gorge. You were saying….

  29. 129

    Thanks Gavin, Its perhaps too hard yet to use Global specific humidity numbers, would be nice to have them though. My beef with constant RH goes like this, 78% rh at 30 C has more water than 78% at 15 C of course, but the mechanisms that guaranty world RH will stay at 60% (as an example) is a bit astonishing despite GT average changes which affect lake formations (or Glacier disappearances) for instance . It is also hard to phatom Polar region RH staying the same given that the more open Arctic Ocean is an added moisture source not previously part of the landscape. I prefer specific humidity as a means to explain GW though, theoretically there should be on average more water vapour with warming.

  30. 130
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #115 – I didn’t claim the whole world could reduce GHGs by 80% without loss of productivity or living standard, only that America might be able to reduce by 2/3 or 3/4 cost-effectively, and I think you can get some good perspective on this by reading NATURAL CAPITALISM. They found that some aspects of industries could even cut energy requirements 9/10th without loss of productivity… you’ve really got to read it.

    “If nothing else, nobody can predict, with any certainty, the economy 30-50 years from now with any and all assumptions.”

    Well, I’m only suggesting that we all dig in right now with current tech & conservation ideas, starting with measures that save us money; then we can go on to measures with no net loss. After that and by that time (which could take many years, bec there are tons of cost-effective measure to implement), we can think about sacrifice…..or maybe there’ll be a tech fix by then that lets us conserve more without much cost.

    “On a smaller level, reducing medical bills by reducing CO2 requires some really loosey-goosey assumptions and wild guesses” –

    See, you have to think holistically. Most of the very same measures that produce CO2 also produce lots of other harms, such as pollution (as well as admitted benefits, like getting us to places we want to go). If we can, say, move closer to work next move (while satisfying our other house-buying parameters), then not only will we save money on transportation, but also reduce harmful emissions that, for one, cause abortions and birth defects — from the other pollutants in gasoline, not the CO2. Or, if we can buy a plug-in-hybrid next car buy (I heard they will be out in 3 years), get on Green Mountain 100% wind generated electricity (which is cheaper than its dirty competitors by a few $$ a month, but only available in a few states), we can perhaps “drive on the wind” for 70 to 95% of our driving and do a lot of good and hopefully save money, depending on the relative price of those cars, AND much greatly reduce all those other medical problems that burning gasoline would entail.

    And we might also save lives from global warming harms, if our combined efforts do mitigate those harms…which is the ultimate aim. You have to think that a portion of the CO2 we emit today may be in the atmosphere up to 100,000 years doing harm – that’s a lot of bang per pound of CO2 (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last ). So I figure any reduction will likewise prevent a lot of harm, and may prevent us from passing the tipping point, at which nature takes over and causes warming, triggered by the warming we people have caused, regardless of how much people reduce the GHGs.

    There’re many many many examples of how are action to reduce CO2 might save lives. We just have to put our heart and mind into coming up with solutions.

  31. 131
    Jerry Steffens says:

    Re #68

    The commentor is concerned that one of the quantities graphed by Osborn and Briffa (2006)
    namely — the proportion of proxy records indicating above-average local temperature —
    does not track the instrumental record of global mean temperature
    temperatures very well. (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/osborn2006/osborn2006.html)
    The commentor appears to conclude from this that the proxy records are meaningless. However,the graph
    that shows the proportion of records
    indicating tempeartures more than two standard deviations above the mean DOES appear to track the instrumental record pretty well. A more reasonable interpretation would be that the latter quantity is
    simply a better proxy for GLOBAL mean temperature than the former.

  32. 132
    Rod B says:

    Jim says, “…where the leachate emerges and flows into the Niagara gorge. You were saying….” I say, and the SuperFund folks finally declared that they spent way too much money at Love Canal because….? I don’t doubt the pollution or if it should be mitigated; but the debate is if control costs exceed the economic benefits.

  33. 133
    Dan says:

    re: 126. “Dan, can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???”

    Of course!!!! (If you use three question marks and think that helps make your case, I guess four exclamations tops that. Whatever.) But first, please do not so conveniently and obviously avoid the basic question: “Can you provide any objective citation/study to support those unsubstantiated statements?” by suddenly claiming it is off-topic (yes unfortunately it is, although you brought the issue up). I take it the answer is “no” so you are just making things up as you go along with no scientific surveys/studies or basic data to support your statements. Therefore you have to answer the question with a question to divert attention from the issue at hand. That is classic.

    Two answers to your question, both from the same company: 1. Back in the 1980s when I was working in my state on some possible acid rain policy analyses of the various emission reduction proposals (which were eventually enacted into law in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990), the local power company specifically supported the idea of emissions trading and the idea of using lower sulfur coal to reduce SO2 emissions, which was certainly more expensive for them (local/regional coal is higher in sulfur content than what they could import from South America). 2. Not a law yet but within the past year, the CEO of the same power company expressly said that GHG emission reductions are necessary as part of the country’s energy policy and legislation.

    Now either please answer the question asked or simply admit you have nothing to back up your fairly ludicrous claims. And do not forget the “”do-gooders” are wrong more often than right” part. Emphasis on the “more often”. You’ve got the entire resources of the Internet at your fingertips.

  34. 134
    Rod B says:

    Wayne, thanks for posting real stuff! [edit]

  35. 135
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re:107 “Pumping sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption has been proposed as a last-ditch solution to combating climate change – but doing so would cause problems of its own, including potentially catastrophic drought, say researchers.”

    I don’t think technological solutions are the answer or even a good plan B. There’s a good deal that we don’t know, except that you can’t do one thing without having secondary effects. The Earth is not an experimental lab, in the same sense that you can perform an experiment and if the results are negative go back to square one . There’s no going back with our planet. Let’s try to change some of our fossil fuel addictions first.

  36. 136
    Rod B says:

    Lynn, what is the difference between holistic and loosey-goosey, anyway. Actually I subscribe to a holistic approach. It makes the best business cases for enterprises because it offers truth over accuracy. Unfortunately those cases are seldom accepted by executives because they are too “loosey-goosey”.

    I have little disagreement with the trust of post 130. I think, even as a skeptic on AGW, that there are a number of things that individuals and enterprises can do to alleviate some of the potential ills — direct and indirect — suggested for AGW. Could and should — it’s prudent, and, on an individual case basis, might be a net improvement economically. And I admire your individual efforts. I just think projecting it to a world (or U.S.) economy over 30-50 years is a bit of a stretch. Actually a hellava stretch.

  37. 137
    Timothy Chase says:

    wayne davidson (#129) wrote:

    Thanks Gavin, Its perhaps too hard yet to use Global specific humidity numbers, would be nice to have them though. My beef with constant RH goes like this, 78% rh at 30 C has more water than 78% at 15 C of course, but the mechanisms that guaranty world RH will stay at 60% (as an example) is a bit astonishing despite GT average changes which affect lake formations (or Glacier disappearances) for instance . It is also hard to phatom Polar region RH staying the same given that the more open Arctic Ocean is an added moisture source not previously part of the landscape. I prefer specific humidity as a means to explain GW though, theoretically there should be on average more water vapour with warming.

    Poking around a few seconds, I found this:

    It is thus hard to escape the conclusion that CO2 provides a measurable direct addition to the atmospheric trapping of infrared radiation leaving the surface of our planet. However, a simple comparison of the relative greenhouse efficiencies of water vapor and CO2 quickly becomes problematic because water vapor enters the climate system mostly as a “feedback” gas. All models and observations currently indicate that as climate warms or cools, to a pretty good approximation, the observed and calculated global-mean relative humidity of water vapor remains roughly constant as the climate changes, whereas its mixing ratio does not.5 Thus, as climate warms (cools), the holding capacity of atmospheric water vapor increases (decreases) exponentially.

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~gth/web_page/article/aree_page3.html

    AN OVERVIEW OF THE SCIENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING
    Historical Setting
    J. D. Mahlman
    Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 1998. 23: 83-105
    Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/ NOAA, Princeton University
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~gth/web_page/article/aree_page1.html

    It is a little odd that the relative humidity stays roughly constant given all the variability of climate, but the fact that it does makes it relatively useful, does it not? Anyway, this isn’t something which is assumed by the climate models – it falls out of them, and it would that we don’t entirely know why. But observations confirm that this is the case.

    Theory and evidence walking hand in hand. It is a lovely picture. They seem to do that a lot in climatology.

  38. 138
    Rod B says:

    Dan, I don’t think I can scientifically prove that horses don’t climb trees, even with a jillion cites maybe I could find. !!!!!! However, if you claim they do, you ought to be able to point to an example. The example #1 you do discuss does not describe any evident negative business case for the power company, only that their cost of coal was going up. Did id the conversion to low sulfer coal negatively affect their net or cash flow after a year or two? Or, if if it did, is it what was expected? And I mean really expected, not necessarily what they sobbed to the State regulators. (why is this post inserting colons all over???)

    #2 sounds like Duke, and they are clearly playing to the perceived beliefs of their customers, my other criterea. As a whole bunch of power companies are doing, and rightly so. Companies do not succeed by telling their constituents that their beliefs are stupid. Power companies especially, as good public relations is about all that they can exploit. And Duke (?) (just one ? to be nice) clearly does not foresee any negative impact from supporting AGW regulation, or they have the confidence to overcome potential negative impacts. Or are you claiming the CEO of Duke (I’m aware that his belief in AGW is valid BTW) is going to the annual meeting and proclaiming to his shareholders that “we need AGW regulation so or profits can take a dive?” I don’t think so… though I can’t find any readily available cites…..

    Maybe you can get with Hank and go to the cite dance together [;-)

  39. 139
    Lawrence McLean says:

    Re #129 (wayne davidson) Relative humidity will be most significantly determined by the temperature difference between the ocean and the atmosphere. In spite of the recent British floods, the tendency for drought to be prevalent is due to the atmosphere warming faster than the oceans, as this condition tends to reduce relative humidity.

  40. 140
    CCRP says:

    Maybe this a little bit off-topic, but we would like to inform to the part research community that is working on Climate Change issues, that there are job opportunities open on the Basque Cuntry Climate Change Research Centre in the north of Spain.

    We are lloking for a Scientific Director and Senior Research Managers on Integrated Modelling, Mitigation and Impacts. The profile of a good candidate can be from economists to physics or computer scientist.

    Please visit http://www.ikerbasque.net/climatechange for more information and share the this info with whoever might be interested, please.

    Thank you very much.

  41. 141

    [[Those who consider themselves religious tend not to accept that they might be doing something wrong (a la social psych’s attribution theory & cognitive dissonance) — it goes against their self-concept & ego.]]

    So all those Catholics confessing their sins every week, and all those Protestants praying to do God’s will and not their own, don’t think they’re doing anything wrong?

    Do you actually know any “religious people,” Lynn? Why don’t you talk to a few instead of doing your own armchair psychoanalysis of people you’ve never met?

  42. 142

    [[ The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding. ]]

    Take that, Abolitionists!

  43. 143
    Paul says:

    To return to the subject of this thread. An interesting article but full of holes. For instance, the authors note that ozone sensitivity is modelled on temperature species, yet current ozone levels in the tropics are well above the level at which the models induce growth reductions, suggesting tropical/semi tropical species are less ozone sensitive. The authors also fail to factor in NOx which has a fertilizing effect and rainfall. Their model also seems to be a bit screwy, as figure 1 seems to include random grid squares where productivity is increased by ozone.

  44. 144

    I want to apologize if my last couple of comments were a bit more aggressive than needed. The sun was in my eyes.

    P.S. I’ve added the response to Rush Limbaugh to my climatology pages:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Climatology.html

    I was too lazy to dig up all the stupid things he’s said about global warming over the years, but I tried to cover some of his repeated themes, like the one about how puny man can’t affect enormous nature. (Tell it to the Passenger Pigeon…)

  45. 145

    [[Not an important point, but I always thought Milloy was the leader of that bandwagon.]]

    You may be right. I’d have to find primary sources and compare the dates. I think it took a while for Crichton to get into the environmentalism-is-bad movement.

  46. 146
    Walt Bennett says:

    I don’t know what has become of this thread, frankly.

    I don’t come to RealClimate for unsubstantiated claims and personal opinions. I come to RealClimate to cut through that sort of junk.

    Rod, it’s real simple: I don’t care what your opinion is, I care what you can prove or at least justify. We can to any of 10,000 other places if people want to see whose jawbone can outlast the other’s.

    I would beseech those who post here to be direct and forthright. When asked for clarification or citation, don’t dodge and don’t behave as though such requests are annoying or bothersome.

    I would urge the moderators to nip in the bud any back-and-forth which detours into unsubstantiated posturing.

    And specifically: If Rod cannot name a municipality that “went bankrupt” attempting to follow an “EPA Mandate” for “zero pollution”, then frankly: the assertion is dismissed.

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:

    > can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported
    > by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???

    Click here for a reply in the Friday thread: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/friday-roundup/
    leaving this one for discussion of the topic it’s meant for

  48. 148
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 132 Rod B: “I don’t doubt the pollution or if it should be mitigated; but the debate is if control costs exceed the economic benefits.”

    Never mind the human health benefits, given that well over 2 million people get their drinking water from down stream of the leachate. But then since they are mostly Canadians that would be of little concern to the US SuperFund folks.

    I’m not familiar with the cost overruns of the Love Canal cleanup, but I would wager that the end cost would have been far less had the problem been properly and forthrightly addressed when the problem was discovered rather than action being deliberately delayed and resisted until it was no longer politically tenable to do so. (Sound familiar?)

    [edit]

  49. 149
    gavin says:

    Please no discussion of DDT. Take it elsewhere.

  50. 150
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Might I suggest we take further discussion of cost-benefit analysis and climate change over to the Friday Roundup thread, as that seems to serve better as a grab bag. While we may not agree with Rod about this subject, it is an important one, and there are rational ways of dealing with it even when there are uncertainties about consequences.


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