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Not the IPCC (“NIPCC”) Report

Filed under: — mike @ 28 November 2008 - (Italian)

Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt

Much in the spirit of the Fraser Institute’s damp squib we reported on last year, S. Fred Singer and his merry band of contrarian luminaries (financed by the notorious “Heartland Institute” we’ve commented on previously) served up a similarly dishonest ‘assessment’ of the science of climate change earlier this year in the form of what they call the “NIPCC” report (the “N” presumably standing for ‘not the’ or ‘nonsense’). This seems to be making the rounds again as Singer and Heartland are gearing up for a reprise of last year’s critically…er…appraised “Conference on Climate Change” this March. Recently some have asked us for our opinion of the report and so we’ve decided we ought to finally go ahead and opine. Here goes.

The fact that the very title of the report summary (“Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate“) itself poses–at best–a false dichotomy is not an auspicious start. The fact that the fonts and layout are identical to the real IPCC report is another indication that this isn’t quite on the level (and reminiscent of the infamous fake PNAS paper that accompanied the first ‘Oregon Petition’).

Reading the table of contents, the report has eight chapters (in addition to an introduction and conclusions chapter). Five of these, quite remarkably, have titles which are simply untrue. The remaining three chapters pose loaded questions which are disingenuous and misleading, if not outright dishonest, with ‘answers’ provided by the authors. In fact this is such a massive regurgitation of standard contrarian talking points and discredited canards, it’s obvious that reviewing this would be a herculean task (which is presumably the point – if you can’t convince people with actual science, bludgeon them).

However, precisely because most of these points have been made before, there exists a large body of work pointing out the flaws already. So instead of regurgitating these counterpoints, we will simply link to an index of these rebuttals. As some of you may know, we have a set up a resource to do precisely this; the RealClimate Wiki. Let’s see how this works…

Chapter 2 “How much of modern warming is anthropogenic” throws out the standard, itself now discredited, “the hockey stick is discredited” claim, and adds in the old favorite “CO2 doesn’t lead it lags”. We also get ‘observations and model predictions don’t match’, ‘the warming doesn’t coincide with the greenhouse gas increases’, and of course ‘the instrumental record isn’t reliable’. Naturally, we were a bit disappointed not to encounter the granddaddy of all contrarian talking points, But they predicted global cooling in the 1970s!.

On to chapter 3, “Most of Modern Warming is Due to Natural Causes”. The short answer to the title of the chapter is, of course, “ummm, no, its not”. The chapter draws in equal parts from the twin canards that its all just natural cycles, and ‘its the sun!.

If you’re growing impatient for model-bashing, no fear; there’s a whole chapter for you (Chapter 4: “Climate Models are Not Reliable”), which offers up the usual mix of straw man descriptions of how climate models actually work, and red herrings about supposedly missing feedbacks and processes. Fortunately, RealClimate wiki provides some one-stop rebuttal shopping.

The falsely-titled chapter 5 (“The Rate of Sea-Level Rise is Unlikely To Increase”) rests upon incorrect claims that sea level rise projections are exaggerated, and or that the IPCC supposedly lowered their projections of future sea level rise. Chapter 6 (“Do Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Heat the Oceans?”), if we take it literally, asks a rather embarrassing question (‘No grasshopper! The greenhouse gases are ‘gases’. They heat the atmosphere and surface and a warmer atmosphere transfers some of that heat to the ocean below. You still have much to learn.’). Chapter 7 (“How Much Do We Know About Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere?”) answers the question it asks with the usual nonsense about how the increase in CO2 is probably natural, or that we can’t trust the CO2 record, and that CO2 isn’t rising as quickly as projected anyhow. And chapters 8 and 9 offer the requisite disclaimer for contrarians that, even after you’ve debunked everything they’ve said so far, and come to the inescapable conclusion that anthropogenic climate change is (1) real, and that (2) future changes will be profound if we continue with business as usual, ‘it will be good for us anyway’..

In concluding, We’d like to level with our readers. Some of us thought that the “NIPCC” report was so self-evidently nonsense that we shouldn’t even give it the benefit of any publicity. But it does give a great opportunity to give the RealClimate ‘wiki’ a test ride. We hope to expand this resource in the future, and we’d actually welcome some additional outside help. (In fact, much of it is already due to some dedicated volunteers. Thanks!). So if you have a desire and the time to help organise this effort, drop us a line and we’ll set you up.

251 Responses to “Not the IPCC (“NIPCC”) Report”

  1. 151
    tamino says:

    Re: #147 (captdallas2)

    Svalgaard has provides a comparative table at his site, here.

    The Lean et al. reconstruction has been around longer than the more recent reconstructions, so it’s been used more (and referenced more). It’s certainly a plausible one, but so are others, more recent, far less often referenced.

    There’s a similar situation for lower-troposphere temperature estimates based on satellite data. Everyone talks about RSS and UAH, but I almost never hear of the analyses from the U. of Maryland or U. of Washington.

  2. 152

    Anne #146,”Although there might (not consensus all the way around) not be cooling of the earth in the last decade, it does seem like the heating has slowed down, in spite of CO2 continueing to rise.”

    Does it look like cooling to you? Surface temperatures vary given clouds, clouds reflect heat from the Upper atmosphere downwards, clear skies make the surface cooler. Given that its warmer in darkness, the key word, warmer, during the long night, suggests that the lower Upper Air is warmer. Upon observations it is. No sun, warmer air during total darkness… There is no other explanation matching observations then a lower troposphere warming the surface. Fitting what was know since the 19th Century, the green house effect theory.

  3. 153
    Jim Eager says:

    Re naught101 @143: “Hrmm.. a little ironic that this cheeky answer is also wrong… I mean, greenhouse gasses aren’t a heat source – they just capture and store heat from other sources – namely the sun.”

    No, greenhouse gasses do not “store” heat, they absorb energy and emit energy. Some of that energy warms other gases through collision, some makes it back down to the surface, warming it. Thus they redirect heat.

    You were saying?

  4. 154
    Julius St Swithin says:

    #146 Anne’s reply to Christian

    First, I may be telling Christian something he already knows – if so I am sorry. Some photographers use an ultra-violet filter which lets through all light frequencies except ultra-violet. CO2 acts a bit like that. It blocks outgoing long-wave radiation from the earth for a particular frequency band; its effectiveness as a filter depends on its concentration. Other GHGs and water block different bands. The earth cools by radiating heat to space. By reducing this loss of heat warming occurs.

    Whilst Anne is correct, we can’t experiment with different levels of CO2 and measure the effect, we do have satellite measurements which clearly show the blocking of long-wave radiation in the band expected for CO2.

  5. 155
    Andrew says:

    The Sun set in the high arctic over a month ago.
    It is in total darkness and yet that is where temperature
    anomalies are the highest. It is difficult to see how any
    reasonable person could suggest that such warming is from the Sun.

    The North Pacific and Atlantic have warm areas as well, but not
    to the same extent as the Arctic. So, again how can anyone
    suggest that some type of periodic oscillation is responsible
    for warming the Arctic?

    That said, the Antarctic does not show the same extent of warming.
    However, we know very well that the Southern Hemisphere does not
    have as extensive of a seasonal snow pack. So, it appears that
    the warming is from elevated CO2 levels that in turn have reduced
    the seasonal snow pack sufficiently to allow significantly
    more water vapor (another greenhouse gas) into the arctic.

  6. 156
    dp says:

    Off topic, but I couldn’t find a suitable one. In theoildrum there have been pieces saying the IPCC is far to liberal in it’s estimation of future fossil fuel reserves, including coal. They think it unlikely that atmosheric Co2 concentrations could ever get above 460ppm. What are your views on this?

  7. 157
    Jim Eager says:

    Re dp @156, they are not factoring in natural carbon sinks’ diminishing ability to absorb CO2 (a warming ocean) and even becoming carbon emitters (CO2 and methane from thawing permafrost and methane clathrates). There is more carbon in those sinks than is currently in the atmosphere.

  8. 158
    Ray Ladbury says:

    dp, check out the op-ed thread, starting with post #65. This was discussed there. Basically, anyone who thinks we’ll just stop burning stuff when we run out of easily extractable oil and coal underestimates the ingenuity of humans as well as their shortsightedness.

  9. 159
    David B. Benson says:

    Rod B (144) — No global cooling n the 1970s. Here are the decadal averages from the HadCRUTv3 global surface temperature product:

    Christian Holm (145) — Of course the laws of physics don’t change, but the position of the continents does. Modern climate began with the closure of the
    Isthmus of Panama about 4 +- 1 million years oago:

    dp (156) — There are also unconventional sources of fossil fuels. And also David Rutledge may be wrong in his re-estimate of coal reserves.

  10. 160
    Andrew says:

    The Mauna Loa data for CO2 levels is available here:

    Put it into an Excel spreadsheet and it becomes clear that
    the rise in CO2 is accelerating. Until it shows signs of
    slowing down, there is no reason to suspect that we are near
    peak CO2 emissions.

    460 ppm is expected in about 40 years.

  11. 161
    Anne van der Bom says:

    #152 Wayne Davidson:

    I didn’t say that. That was a quote from Christian Holm #134 I was reacting to.

  12. 162
    Andrew says:

    A little more about CO2 levels…

    The best fit 2nd order curve projects 460 ppm in the year 2039.

    If data from 2006 and 2007 is excluded, then the best fit
    curve projects 3 months later 2039.

    In other words, there is a significant acceleration in CO2 levels.
    Maybe this years global economic slow down will show a slowing of the
    acceleration, but would need a few more years of data to be sure about that.

  13. 163
    Christian Holm says:

    Julius # 137. Thats precisely what I mean. Thank you for putting it into a clear language. I usually prefer to discuss in my own language.

    Anne #147
    I agree with in most you say. However, climatology is different from most other sciences because you cannot interfere with the system to test different theories. Therefore we are limited to either looking into what has happened in the past. By looking at the past we can build theories on how the climate works in respect to changes in different factors. Correlations between events in the past tells us that these might be connected. When two events are correlated there is a possibility that theses are related to each other. Lets call the events A and B. If A and B are related this relationship can have ONLY three possible caracters. (this is before complicated feedback mechanisms might become relevant)

    1: A causes B, 2: B causes A, or 3: A and B are both caused by a third event.

    Since in the past the CO2 rise event is preceded temp rise event there are no signs of CO2 starting temp rise in the past. If you look at the past there is nothing that suggests that CO2 has had a powerful feedback effect on temp either.

    This means that if CO2 is driving the temp change now. This is properly unpreceded. That also means that we cannot use the past to compute and make models of how powerful this effect might be.

    We know that CO2 traps heat and has an effect on temp. But does the anthropogenic increasein CO2 we see now have a significant effect on temp rise??? We dont know. As with all science you can compute uncertanties. However, the uncertanties that we compute in climate forecasts depend on assumptions you make by opinion NOT by measurements. Moreover for uncertanties to be of any value you need to know all the forcing factors. I do not believe (not by a long shot) that we know all the important factors that drive temp here on earth. AND, the factors we have identified to impact temp are so insufficiently researched that to talk of uncertanties here is ludicruz(dont know if thats a word).

    Therefore I think that leaving out the word “might” in any conclusive sentence on climate predictions shows ignorance. As in most areas: those that know the least are often those who think they know it all.

  14. 164


    “If you look at the past there is nothing that suggests that CO2 has had a powerful feedback effect on temp either.”

    Not a correct statement; see information on this site (I’d look under “paleoclimate.”)

    The general understanding here is that past warming episodes have been initiated by orbital cycle forcings, but amplified by natural GHG emissions; this understanding is based upon careful study of the paleoclimate record, including computational studies.

  15. 165
    tamino says:

    Re: #163 (Christian Holm)

    You omit the 4th possibility: 4. A causes B and B causes A. That’s the essence of “feedback” phenomena. It’s quite clear than when it comes to CO2 and temperature, this is the case.

  16. 166
    David B. Benson says:

    Christian Holm (163) — All the historical sciences have the ‘no experiment’ problem; geology and its related sciences, asronomy and its related sciences. Climatology is not so unusual in this regard.

    However, considerable work has been done. A historical account is found in “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Review of above:

    As for equilibrium (Charney) climate sensitivity, additional information, beyond that in IPCC AR4 WG1 (linked in the Science section of the sidebar) is in

    and is discussed in at least one previous thread here on RealClimate. I particularly recommend the one about the Annan & Hargreaves paper and certainly do recommend thorough study of that paper.

  17. 167
    jcbmack says:

    # 149, Kevin,
    good point! As an educator who has rsearch experience I strive to impart atlesast basic knowledge,whether they are my students, or bloggers on a site like this; most of my colleagues say it is a waste of time, but I cannot help but keep coming back to realcimate and even closing threads on Watts on occasion, but all it becomes is some sort of competition, now it is fine and fun with other experts in a given area(s) within science, but the non scientists or ill informed ones cannot even be reasoned with and they refuse to open their minds nor can they do so in this particular regard, not many people take the necessary courses and then go on to read books they have a background to understand and hence learn more.

  18. 168
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Christian Holm, Where on Earth are you getting your ideas from? Certainly not refereed scientific journals. Why not spend some time and actually learn about the science, so that your posts at least have a reference. This is the best site there is to learn about climate science.

  19. 169
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Christian @163: “Since in the past the CO2 rise event is preceded temp rise event there are no signs of CO2 starting temp rise in the past. If you look at the past there is nothing that suggests that CO2 has had a powerful feedback effect on temp either.”

    Christian, you are mistaken on both counts. On the first, there is considerable evidence that massive injections of CO2 and/or methane played a role in the End-Permian and Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum extinctions, and in the ending of Snowball Earth. On the second, calculations of the Milankovic-induced increase in insolation show that it is insufficient on its own to bring an end to a glacial staid, it has to be amplified by feedbacks, rising CO2 and methane being only two of them, others being increasing albedo and higher levels of water vapour.

    I urge you at least read Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming, first link under Science on the right hand side of the RealClimate home page, or just click on

  20. 170

    #147 Anne, my Browser Safari did not show italics as of my copy and paste of

    “Although there might (not consensus all the way around) not be cooling of the earth in the last decade, it does seem like the heating has slowed down, in spite of CO2 continueing to rise.”

    Looked like part of your text. Placing quotation marks would make your citations more obvious for all Browsers. Its the only problem I’ve noted with Safari. I am delighted that you have not written
    Holm’s remarks. They are obviously erroneous, and have nothing to do with the present serious situation, we stand to act from solid information or we fall with misinformation as our guide.

  21. 171
    Eli Rabett says:

    “# Christian Holm Says: 140 -Eli

    Please explain to me why the laws of physics change as you go back in time. And why our globe was a different planet then.”

    Amusingly, if you go back far enough, it was the sun that was different, cooler. Please Christian, take everyone’s advise and do some reading.

    BTW, it was warmer in the far past when CO2 levels were higher, but that is way far back (millions of years ago)

  22. 172
    Julius St Swithin says:

    #150 Gavin

    Thanks for getting back to me. I’ll look up the reference but as it stands the simulation of the first 70 years of the last century is not encouraging.

  23. 173
    Mark says:

    Anne: “it does seem like the heating has slowed down, in spite of CO2 continueing to rise.”

    Does it? What about in the 90’s when it seemed that there was heating? EVERYONE in power and all over the public phyche was “Yeah, but it could just be a glitch, a figment of our imagination. We MUST wait”.

    So why is it we don’t wait to see if there really is a lower heating trend before starting along the idea that there is?

    That was what had to be done before when temperature trends were statistically vague.

  24. 174
    Ricki (Australia) says:

    Well said Wayne (170)

    By the way, I have not been able to find the numbers to relate emissions (such as plotted in the IPCC scenarios) to the ppm concentrations. I want to be able to demonstrate that emissions are tracking above the highest predicted IPCC scenariio and to show this in terms of ppm CO2 and ppm CO2e.

    Does anyone know where I can find the data?

    captcha very relevant…”wrong thority”

  25. 175
    concerned says:

    Hey Gavin,
    Here’s another document you might like to deconstruct!

    You can download it from the ABC website.

    or directly from

  26. 176
    Christian Holm says:

    Dear Mr. Ladbury

    I agree that I am not fully trained in climate. But it seems that the majority of people here are not either. However, it seems the need for refs is more demanded from sceptics than from true believers.

    This particular true for you mr. Ladbury. Although you have posted 9 replies here, you have listed a total of zero refs yourself……!!!

    That being said:

    How on earth can I ref these key points of my last reply???

    “If A and B are related this relationship can have ONLY three possible caracters. (this is before complicated feedback mechanisms might become relevant)

    1: A causes B, 2: B causes A, or 3: A and B are both caused by a third event.” ?????

    “Moreover for uncertanties to be of any value you need to know all the forcing factors. I do not believe (not by a long shot) that we know all the important factors that drive temp here on earth.””

    I also have to admit that I make the same mistake.

    But since I realize that I do not have much experience in climate science please link me up to primary articles (no book and no IPCC charts) that could show me that

    1) CO2 has forced temp in the past

    2) We have discovered all major forcings of the globe climate and know these to an extend that we can determine the uncertanties they bring to climate. models

    I cant find them

  27. 177
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Christian Holm, What is your educational background? Why are you resistant to learning the physics of climate? That would certainly help place any journal articles you encounter in context.;302/5650/1551

    Keep in mind that the PETM is not a direct analog to today’s warming, but it does show greenhouse gas injection can drive climate.

  28. 178
    Ray Ladbury says:

    concerned, This is just more noise from the denialist echo chamber. The guy’s a friggin’ geologist. What the hell does he know about climate? If people are too stupid to go the the best sources for information, they deserve to be fooled. They can shout to each other all they want. In the mean time, society has work to do in trying to preserve itself.

  29. 179

    “If people are too stupid to go the the best sources for information, they deserve to be fooled. They can shout to each other all they want. In the mean time, society has work to do in trying to preserve itself.”

    Ray, if only they *were* separate from society. I hope you are right that serious folk have largely moved on to the “what do we do” questions; sometimes I think myself that I see signs of this. But I also think that it remains important to keep asserting the truth in public fora, matter-of-factly and with the clearest and most succinct supporting references appropriate to the particular forum. That’s what I try to do on the general blogsites that I frequent; I think it’s a useful role for the layperson.

  30. 180
    Hank Roberts says:

    Christian Holm,

    At the top of the page is a rectangle with the words “Start Here” in it.
    Click on that with your mouse.
    It will lead you to the basic references.

    You say “no book and no IPCC chart” gives your (1) and (2) above.
    Both are in the IPCC Report and the charts therein.

    Where are you looking?

  31. 181
  32. 182
    Eli Rabett says:

    Christian sez

    “1) CO2 has forced temp in the past

    2) We have discovered all major forcings of the globe climate and know these to an extend that we can determine the uncertanties they bring to climate. models

    I cant find them”

    Poor dear

    2a is easy, if your mystery unknown forcing existed and was significant we would know about it and it would not be unknown. 2b is epistimological, if they don’t exist they don’t bring uncertainties to climate models.

    There are lots of poorly known knows in climate science, but you are verging on astrology here with the mysterious major forcings from outer space.

    1 has a trivial answer, we have seen CO2 act as an external forcing in the last 100-150 years. That is the past bucky. On the other hand we have good estimates of its feedback effects from proxy data so the climate sensitivity to CO2 increase is bounded, which is what is needed

  33. 183
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear All,

    Excuse me as I pick out a single aspect that amuses me.

    CO2 leads/lags Temperature.

    If anyone else has pointed the following out, I apologise for not having read all of this thread.

    Lead vs. Lag is not the issue to me but the following is and it is an own goal for some.

    Does CO2 tend to cause temperatures to rise? Yes!

    Do rising temperatures tend to cause (enhance) rising CO2 records? Yes!

    This is not confined to discussion of ice ages and core data.

    This is in the Morna Loa data.

    Years with larger than average temperature increases have larger than expected CO2 levels.

    This was noted very early on (1960s I think).

    This is normally correlated to ENSO data but I think is true in general.

    Looked at in this way it is the worst of all scenarios, and poses a trap.

    If you claim that rising temperature levels cause CO2 to rise then unless you fail to accept that CO2 has an IR spectrum then the ability of temperature and CO2 levels to track together whether leading or lagging as appropriate to the contemporary conditions spells more warming, not less.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  34. 184
    Mark says:


    Why do you need past data of forcing? What about “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will retain heat” doesn’t work for you? The only way CO2 could not drive climate change is if there was an equal retardation that acts inversely but proportional to CO2 and therefore increases as CO2 increases.

    Do you have anything? If you don’t then why do you need data confirming it? You don’t need data to prove that you falling 10 stories would kill you, do you. You assume that you would be hurt as much as any other human. But they could have fallen badly. There ARE cases where people have fallen 2 MILES down and survived. So maybe there’s hope for your survival there. Yet you don’t decide to jump because you don’t know any reason why you would survive.

    Now, depending on what you consider “data”, have a look at Venus. Hot enough to boil a monkey’s bum as the Monty Python team put it.

    How hot would it be without CO2?

    If you’re going to whinge “we don’t know that it went first” then look at the ice core data. Without increasing CO2 driving temperature rises, how much warmer would a warm interglacial be compared to what increase in warmth there is from the CO2 present in this, our atmosphere? All of that not inconsiderable warming is forced by CO2.

  35. 185

    I think Christian in #176 is saying he *won’t* accept “books or IPCC” charts, not (or not only) that he can’t find them.

    Why not, I don’t know–the summaries offered here are *much* more easily digestible than the originals. Perhaps he has succumbed to the propaganda that the IPCC is a sinister conspiratorial exercise, rather than an open group going about the business of reviewing and summarizing the scientific literature. (BTW, one of the funniest of incoherent contrarian spectacles, for the sardonically-minded, is Monckton flaunting “his share” of the IPCC’s Nobel on his resume.) Or perhaps Christian just feels strongly about going to original sources.

    Either way, Christian seems to be the sort of person for whom the bibliographic FAQ I suggested a while back would be interesting. In the meantime, as Hank always reminds us, there is Google scholar. (Christian, if you’re reading, just Google “Google scholar;” it limits searches to academic papers.)

    For example, using the following search turned up “about 2,280 [!] papers”:


    The very first citation brings up this abstract:

    “The late Paleozoic deglaciation is the vegetated Earth’s only recorded icehouse-to-greenhouse transition, yet the climate dynamics remain enigmatic. By using the stable isotopic compositions of soil-formed minerals, fossil-plant matter, and shallow-water brachiopods, we estimated atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and tropical marine surface temperatures during this climate transition. Comparison to southern Gondwanan glacial records documents covariance between inferred shifts in pCO2, temperature, and ice volume consistent with greenhouse gas forcing of climate. Major restructuring of paleotropical flora in western Euramerica occurred in step with climate and pCO2 shifts, illustrating the biotic impact associated with past CO2-forced turnover to a permanent ice-free world.”

  36. 186
    jcbmack says:

    Christian Holm,

    several of us here are trained and work in fields relating tp branches of physics, chemistry and biology. Ray Ladbury most certainly has expertise, as do Eli Rabbett, Mark, and myself. The moserators are working in climate related fields and have education/training in physics, mathematics, chemisty and they each have some interdisciplinary training and additional readings in other fields of interest and relation to climate and climate change. Ray is in physics, he does not need to reference every equation and point, it comes from his head due to years of training and real world experience. The fact remains, that most people have no way of accesssing such specific details (how many people have atcually taken multi variable calculus, modern physics, and can determine when to use eigen and non-eigen functions?) If you pick up a modern physics textbook, a physical chemistry textbook, and a handful of peer reviewed journals (if you have the background) and a good graduate statistics textbook, (atcually some of the undergraduate are just fine) in light of NASA GISS charts and publications, you can really get a sense of things and understand many details even if you do not work in climate science, even though some information is proprietary or atleast not easily accesible, many answers can be found if you focus and be patient. (or not patient and just study day and night, assuming you have a basic background)

    Now, each one of us in science has one or two fields of absolute expertisem this is tio be sure (I know alot about stars, but I do not personally have experience in the field studying them, and some physicists misunderstand thermodynamics, the chemists stay out of the nitty gritty philosophical controversies that pure physicists seem to love) while many biologists only grasp the basics of radiation trapping, while physical chemists understands the basics of any subject they study because so much of physics, advanced math and lots of algebra and qualitative analysis goes into just being able to pass the courses and do the the senior project and get the internships.


    I myself, have worked with Mass Spec both in lab and senior project (on a side not TEM, SEM, and several laser applications as well) and I have seen data from CO2 as well. I am intriuged by Jim because he wants to know more, learn, and he is reading and trying figure these things out, whether he does or not depends largely upon his background, his willingness to learn new concepts and so forth. I like what Eli had to say and the citations he posted and Ray as well showing what heisenberg can be used for, but I also see that Jim is looking everywhere he can and has found (as I have) legitmate data showing the limitations of Kirchoff’s laws, but I also see some misinterpretation on Jim’s part regarding the differences in an oppen system and closed system, and here is where his and my discussions will proceed, he questions boundary conditions, now CO2 chemisty is well established, we know this, but to show how it appies in an open system, in dynamic equilibrium is an important task when someone is requesting how and why.

    First of all themrodynamics laws are NEVER violated and any moderator here will tell you that, any physical chemistry textbook and physics textbook will also tell you that. Second,the environment is not static, but the global climate system tends back to equilibrium, though the ratios return, the amounts in total can be quite different. Third, water vapor greatly amplifies the efefects of CO2 and as such, we may say either water vapor or CO2 are the major greenhouse gases, but it is truly water vapor (most textbooks and journals make mention of water vapor even if CO2 is the primary concern in a specific publication) that applifies. Fourth, in P chem we draw phase diagrams and we plot different transition states, Jim you said you have Atkins, start looking there and at the mass spec experiments. CO2 most certainly will produce line emissions in an open system and LTE is a factor or connector between how much and what and why in the atmosphere. In the emails, Jim we will use excessive details.

    Certainly look at what Eli and Ray posted and cited as these are excellent beginnings to our converstaions.

  37. 187
    jcbmack says:

    On that note, I need to take a break from real climate for a few days (perish the thought!)Work and so forth calls… Jim I will get back to your emails ASAP.

  38. 188
    climatepatrol says:


    Only second time I post here. Something that still preoccupies my scientifically somewhat illiterate, sceptical mind is the relationship between Arctic Sea ice extent (seemingly stable) in the early 20th centuray versus temperature during the same period (unstable). I just can’t put the two together in the light of the (unprecedented, accelerated Sea ice decline 2005-2007).
    Question: Does the link here at “junk science” give “honor” to its name or is the link showing the old (discontinued) HadCRUT2(v) time series “Arctic 75-90N” correct?

    [Response: It’s probably correct though a little out of date, but how meaningful is probably questionable. North of 75N there are very few stations and so the accuracy of such an average is questionable. The ACIA used 60N onwards to include more data series and that shows less variability. You can see the latitude time plots from GISTEMP from this page. As for the sea ice changes, there are syntheses of different ice charts that are ongoing (see here for instance), but the level of info is much less than in the satellite period. I think there is evidence for reduced ice in the North Atlantic then, but it might not be visible in the whole-Arctic data (but I’m not an expert on this). – gavin]

  39. 189
    Ark says:

    @climatepatrol (#188): When it’s very cold, variations in temperature don’t affect the sea ice area, but when temperatures get near to zero (Celsius), variations matter a lot. It’s this effect that in recent years causes the summer ice area to change dramatically, while the winter ice area is still relatively stable.
    Isn’t the fact that the amount of sea ice didn’t respond to temperature variations 100 years ago caused by the fact that it was still much colder then?
    On top of that there would have been much more multi-year, very thick ice, which is much more resistant to a few years of higher temperature than the present huge areas of one-winter ice.

  40. 190
    Christian Holm says:

    Dear all

    Thank you for establishing the fact that I am ignorant.
    To answer a recurring answer I am a Ph.d. in Medicine and Cand. Scient. in Biology
    I have not interdiciplinary experience with climate scinces (physics, geology etc.)

    I dont consider myself a climate sceptic. I am willing to go either way. But I am undecided until I feel that one side is convincing enough.

    Mr. Ladbury. Thank you for providing me with quality links and not (as was the most popular responses) calling me an ignorant for daring to ask a well established science guru for refs.

    In the first link (which I must understand in order to move on) They have analysed 13C isotopes, and abundancy of foraminiferas and compared these to temp records (SST).

    AFter the last and key figure the is the following text.
    Please excuse my ignorance and help me to understand this better.

    Leads and lags and mechanisms of carbon input
    One prominent example of biotic change associated with the onset of the CIE is recorded along continental margins, where sediment sequences from all latitudes contain high abundances of dinoflagellate cysts belonging to the subtropical genus Apectodinium (Crouch et al., 2001; Sluijs et al., 2007-a). In part, this must be associated to the PETM warming. However, in stratigraphically expanded marginal marine sections from the New Jersey Shelf and the North Sea, as well as a section in New Zealand, the onset of the Apectodinium acme started some 5 kyr prior to the CIE (Sluijs et al., 2007-b) (Fig. 3). Additionally, the onset of the PETM SST warming at New Jersey appears to have led the CIE by several thousands of years (but lagged the onset of the Apectodinium acme) (Sluijs et al., 2007-b). This indicates that warm SST was not the only environmental control on Apectodinium abundances. Moreover, it suggests that the carbon burp that caused the CIE was a result of initial climate change and acted as a positive feedback. This scenario fits the model of CH4 release from submarine hydrates causing the CIE (Dickens et al., 1995). If this pre-CIE warming was global, it was likely induced by greenhouse forcing, suggesting that the PETM warming and ocean acidification were caused by at least two sources of carbon (Sluijs et al., 2007- b).

    I conclude from the text. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    1) Again temp leads carbon burst

    2) The authours try to explain this (otherwise they would have presented evidence against CO2 as a driver of temp, which we cannot tolerate) by saying that there must have been a preceding CH4 burst. Where is the data that supports this?

    3) They claim that the SST must have been caused by increased greenhouse effect. Where are the data that support this

    4) They claim that the released carbon burst acted as a positive feedback. Where are the temp data that support this (and please dont tell me that this is not needed because we already know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.)

    I look forward to your reply.

  41. 191
    tamino says:

    Re: Christian Holm

    During the first half of the 20th century, a distinct lull in climate-forcing volcanic activity and increase in solar output are obvious, non-anthropogenic causes of global warming. Since 1950, solar output has been stable while volcanic forcing has been considerably greater than early in the century, which forces cooling. Yet of the global warming observed since 1900, about two thirds occurred after 1950 In fact, more than half occurred after 1975. How do you explain this?

    I’d very much like to know how you think it’s possible for increased atmospheric CO2 not to warm the climate?

    If you want your doubts about anthropogenic global warming to be taken seriously, answer the questions. I look forward to your reply.

  42. 192
    Ray Ladbury says:

    It sounds very much as if you are asking for an exact historical analog for what we are seeing today. If that is the only standard of proof you will accept, I’m afraid you are destined for disappointment. Then again, if that is th only type of scientific evidence you accept, I’d imagine you would reject much of modern science–HIV as the cause of AIDS, evolution, plate tectonics, much of cosmology… Hell, until the advent of atomic force microscopy, you would have had to side with Mach and reject atoms!
    The proximate cause of the PETM is not 100% known. However, we do know that it was quite short compared to the warming that followed. Without greenhouse forcing, it simply is not plausible that the event would have been as intense or as long as it was. The references I found took about 5 minutes with Google. They’d take even less with Google scholar. Now it might take you a little longer, since I’ve done this before and have an idea what to look for, but Google is your friend, and it’s a valuable skill.
    Now to the issue of scientific evidence. There is a book called “The Nature of Scientific Evidence”:

    I strongly recommend this. It discusses frequentist, Bayesian, likelihood and other interpretations of evidence. The emphasis is actually biological and environmental sciences, but I am a physicist, and I found it interesting. If you are going to be productive medical, you really need to understand scientific evidence.

  43. 193
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Re 188:
    My understanding is that there is a mode change because of the Arctic geography. Arctic Ocean coastline has essentially a circular pattern. In earlier times the Ocean remained esentially frozen shore-to-shore even during summertime. Annual ice cover cycle was mainly due to a relatively narrow sector facing the Atlantic and then some limited outside seas (Bering Sea, Baltic, Hudson Bay).

    Due to a gradual warming, the Arctic Ocean proper started to de-freeze and the reduction of ice area became proportional to summertime energy input – which obviously is also weather dependent in several ways. The result is obvious as a high amplitude signal in the anomaly record, i.e.

    How stable this new mode is, we shall see in the future.

    It is a good example of the many tipping points. There are probaly some analogous situations, i.e. the long east-west coastlines of Western Africa and South America. Latitude shifts of basic climate patterns meet such boundaries and there are (perhaps major) impacts on weather and regional climate.

  44. 194
    Hank Roberts says:

    Christian, you wrote:

    > … there must have been a preceding CH4 burst. Where is the data that supports this?

    look again at that first link Ray gave you, the one you’ve already started reading.
    You’ll find pointers to an answer to your question just a bit further on in the paper than you’ve read, where they discuss earlier less pronounced temperature excursions leading up to the big one.

    “… additional hyperthermals are also associated with massive injection of 13C-depleted carbon, ocean acidification and perturbations of the hydrological cycle, though less pronounced than during the PETM. Orbital tuning of the complete late Paleocene and early Eocene record at Walvis Ridge (South Atlantic) has indicated a link between the timing of the hyperthermals and eccentricity maxima (Lourens et al., 2005; Westerhold et al., 2007), which would have implications for the mechanisms that caused global change during the hyperthermals.”

  45. 195
    Tony Norriss says:

    This article accuses skeptics of running an argument based on a false dichotomy. Yet, it runs a false dichotomy argument itself.

    Trying to divide the scientific community into believers and deniers is a false dichotomy. There is a diverse range of opinion on this subject with extreme views on both sides of the camp. To suggest that scientific opinion divides neatly into two clear-cut positions is indeed a false dichotomy. Do better please.

    [Response: I make no such distinction. There are indeed plenty of voices with diverse opinions about many aspects of the problem. But there is a very clear rump of nonsense-peddlers who are being talked about here. That they exist says nothing about the range of opinions held by others. – gavin]

  46. 196
    Christian Holm says:

    Dear tamino #191

    I am especially glad you asked me that particular question. Your view, that because we currently do not have any stronger candidate for the post 1975 warmings, CO2 must without doubt be the number one forcer of the rise in temp we have seen since 1975.

    Your view on climate is coloured by the erroneous assumption that our knowledge of climate is close to complete. This is as far from the truth as anything.

    On the other hand I am not convinced that CO2 is NOT the cause for the rise in temp since 1975; I am undecided. I can only say that, even including the links supplied by Ladbury there are no signs that indicate that CO2 has had this effect in the past.

    Therefore, in order for me to be convinced that we should focus all our world wide attention to reducing CO2 emissions and leave other present problems such as 3rd world poverty, HIV i Africa, Malaria and major sources of pollution in the dark(remember that CO2 is not a pollutant) I need more evidence.

    As I see it, we have to gamble here. If CO2 causes temp to rise in our time, then what are the consequences (remember that the world has been free of ice ap 6000 years ago without collapse of humanity and without polar bear extinction)? We have to compare these consequences to the exceptional chance we have to correct inequalities in the world we live in today.

    As I see it. There is much hysteria in the media on CO2 and I believe it steals attention from far more serious and present issues. What do you guys think.

  47. 197
    Fred Staples says:

    An apology, Tamino, 117?

    Here is the comment from your blog, CET temperatures, from which I ventured to demur.

    “I also plotted moving averages on a 5-year, and a 10-year time scale. What do those graphs show? Oh my! An upward movement at the end of the data record!!!”

    Your charts, 5 year, 10 year, and 30 year moving averages all show a sharp upward movement this decade of at least 0.5 degrees, without any comment as to their significance.

    Time, Tamino, moves on. We now have 11 months of the 2008 record, with a 12 month moving average of 10.07 degrees,marginally warmer than 1911, the 35th warmest year in the record. Including these months, and starting from year 2000, the trend falls virtually to zero. (The annual data has an upward trend of 0.175 degrees per decade, not significantly different from zero).

    So can your extrapolation of a 0.5 degree per decade over the next 50 years to “in all likelihood warmth not seen since humans inhabited the British Isles” be justified? Statistics, you must know, is silent about the future, as anyone charting economic data this year will tell you.

  48. 198
    tamino says:

    Re: #196 (Christian Holm)

    You didn’t answer the questions.

    You’ve essentially argued the mistaken “we don’t know everything, so we don’t know anything” position.

    You have propagated the lie that addressing the global warming problem requires that we abandon fixing all other problems, like “3rd world poverty, HIV i Africa, Malaria and major sources of pollution.” This is dishonest of you.

    And your claim that “the world has been free of ice ap 6000 years ago” is absolutely wrong.

    I don’t see how it’s possible to take your questions seriously when you can’t even get basic facts right.

    Re: #197 (Fred Staples)

    You have repeatedly claimed that I made a prediction of a 0.5 deg.C increase in CET this decade. Everybody can plainly see that I made no such prediction; your claim was a lie.

    You do owe me an apology, but you’re not honest enough even to acknowledge it to yourself. Instead you try to change the subject. How cowardly.

  49. 199

    #196 Holm’s…. In order to be convinced of CO2 as the cause, you must reason or come up with a plausible explanation as to what else is causing recent temperatures to rise, especially in darkness.
    It is a matter of considering all modern instrumental records, all not finding any other causation.
    Your reasoning falls short of being complete. Besides you are convinced that recent temperatures are cooling, therefore your reasoning is tempered by a lack of correct perspective. Other important issues ,AIDS etc, have nothing to do with figuring out whether CO2 is responsible for recent rising temperatures. Keep focused on the subject and you will come up with the same correct conclusion.

  50. 200
    Hank Roberts says:

    > your extrapolation … per decade

    Fred does not understand error bars and so ignores them. He keeps reposting a fragment, falsely claiming it as complete. Fred is lying to himself with statistics — by ignoring the part he doesn’t understand — and lying to others each time he reposts this.

    See above.