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2008 Year in review

Filed under: — group @ 31 December 2008

Way back at the end of 2006, we did a review of the year’s climate science discussion. It’s that time of year again and so we’ve decided to give it another go. Feel free to suggest your own categories and winners…

Most clueless US politician talking about climate change (with the exception of Senator Inhofe who’d always win):
Sarah Palin:

Well, we’re the only Arctic state, of course, Alaska. So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent. We have erosion issues. And we have melting sea ice, of course. [….] You know there are – there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts. I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate.

Most puzzling finding from 2006 that has yet to be convincingly replicated:
Methane from plants

Most reckless extrapolation of short term trends:
Michael “All global warming has been erased” Asher (Daily Tech)

This year’s most (unsurprisingly) abused study:
Keenlyside et al. initialised climate forecasts (and no, they didn’t take our bet).

Climate scientist with biggest disconnect between his peer-reviewed papers and his online discussions:
Roy Spencer

Most worn out contrarian cliche:
The “Gore Effect”. This combines the irrelevant confusion of climate with weather and the slightly manic obsession with Al Gore over the actual science. Do please grow up.

Most bizarre new contrarian claim:
Global warming is caused by undersea volcanoes (and pirates!).

The S. Fred Singer award for the most dizzying turn-around of a climate pseudo-skeptic:
Dennis Avery: “Global warming is likely to continue” (2006) , to global warming is “unstoppable” (2006), to “Say Good-Bye To Global Warming And Hello To Global Cooling!” (2008).

Pottiest peer on the contrarian comedy circuit:
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Least unexpected observations:
(Joint winners) 2008 near-record minima in Arctic sea ice extent, last decade of record warmth, long term increases in ocean heat content, record increases in CO2 emissions.

Most consistently wrong media outlet:
The Australian (runner-up the UK Daily Telegraph). Both comfortably beating out the perennial favorite, the Wall Street Journal – maybe things have really changed there?

Best actual good news:
The grown-ups being back in charge starting January 20 (compare with this).

Most inaccurate attempted insinuation about RealClimate:
‘The Soros-funded’ Chris Horner

Most revealing insight into some US coal companies and year’s best self parody:
Frosty the Coalman (video available here)

Most disturbing trend for science journalism:
The axing of dedicated science units at CNN, the Weather Channel and elsewhere. Can Climate Central and blogging journalists take up the slack?

Happy New Year to all of our readers!

297 Responses to “2008 Year in review”

  1. 51
    Eli Rabett says:

    Hey, the S. Fred for Climatology Incoherence is a Rabett Run Award. Also the Tim Ball for Resume Stretching

    Please remit Eli’s copyleft fee posthaste, but allow a say on denialist. The Rabett Run team is probably not the first, but we did think long and hard about what to call the lalalalala I can’t hear you crowd, and denialist fit the best (note we don’t use denier which has other sad associations).

    One has to admit that the denialist crowd is split, there are pro and amateur divisions. You have to take the Electric Cooling Aid Denialist Test to get into the amateur division and ride on the Majic Bus. That’s where a Pro says something so silly that your 2 year old niece knows it’s nonsense. The accepted Amateur tho, knows that he (it almost always is a he, although there are very talented ladies) runs to defend the indefensible, defining stupidity down. The pros are a cabal of public relation providing megaphones for those who have enough science to create confusing argument. A combination of “the voice of authority” with the “source of all knowledge”.

    What makes this “work” is that the Earth is compex, and every question about how it works has a simple but wrong answer. The complex correct answer takes longer to find and explain. Thanks to the efforts of Real Climate and others, the truth is beginning to penetrate, not only at policy making levels but also in general.

    It is important to speak up about the correct science. Since the science is complex, this also means providing the audience the tools it needs to understand the answer. While throwing flowers at Real Climate and others (see Rabbet Run blogroll) let me also throw some at the regular commentators in a lot of important places, Hank Robert, Ray Ladbury, Steve Bloom, John Mashey and more than a few others, who provide a needed bridge to the readers and much more. Over the course of years, they have self-educated to the point that they are experts. We need to move out more into the dens of denialism (you know where they are, saddle up). True the style required there is different and each of us has a place we will not go, but there are opportunities).

    Finally there is a real urgency of NOW. To have any meaningful effect on the future, the world must start acting to limit greenhouse gas emissions this year lest our grandchildren be overtaken by our stupidity and stubborness.

  2. 52
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #49, lol, its so true, the arrogance of personalties in IT is so true a bit of a shocker to be fair. I never actually thought that it was a phenomenon of computer science per se but of science per se but now I know its an IT thing. Maybe a lot of IT guys are ignorant of physics, chemistry and biology but a lot are not.

  3. 53
    Cardin Drake says:

    The warming in the Arctic has not been adequately explained relative to the lack of warming in the Antarctic.
    A massive undersea volcano erupting in 1999 would certainly add a lot of heat to the Arctic ocean. Now I realize that there has been no credibly scientific studies on this, but ridiculing the possibility seems unwarranted.

    [Response: Actually, there is no ‘lack of warming’ for Antarctica on the whole, over the last half century. Stay tuned for more on that. -mike]

    [Response: Do the math. It’s a notion worthy of ridicule. – gavin]

  4. 54
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    First, thank you Real Climate, for being there.

    re 32.

    Observation: When one actually reads the complete section you pulled the quote from, it isn’t quite as supportive of your argument as you would make it out to be.

    That said, I’ve seen various versions of the argument you are promoting, usually citing Copernicus and Einstein, or Big Bang or Plate Tectonics as examples of where ‘consensus’ fails. But I think these examples, when offered, confuse consensus with orthodoxy. Quite bluntly, to suggest the consensus for AGW is part of some entrenched orthodoxy is absurd. Intuitively, when I consider where the science of climatology was 50 years ago in comparison to where it is today, what I find amazing is that the people with expertise in the field have such a strong consensus regarding what is happening to the climate. And yet, they do.

    Perhaps one of the obvious problems with the argument against consensus is underscored in post 30, when Phillip Machanick remarked: “I’m still looking for the plausible hypothesis that overturns the mainstream, supported by a reasonable standard of modelling.”

    I think this is a real problem facing the awarding of credibility to the anti-AGW crowd – unlike Copernicus and Einstein, Big Bang Theory or Plate Tectonics, they really don’t have a consistent counter-hypothesis to AGW theory or any original ideas that hold up under scrutiny. It has also been observed that many Denialist arguments run afoul of one another. (And we’re not even touching on the high degree of support many of the leadings lights in the Denialist camp seem to receive from interests for whom addressing AGW would be counter-productive.)

    Here’s another observation, one that sometimes keeps me awake at night as I think about my child’s future: AGW is a parallel problem to sustainability. Frankly, the planet is overpopulated. Its peoples are gradually seeking to attain a lifestyle comparable to that enjoyed by the Industrial nations of the planet – in particular the United States – and doing so at the expense of established natural systems they take for granted. To attain this sort of lifestyle for 6 billion-plus people requires resources that simply do not exist, and the consumption of what resources we do have are contributing to degradation of the biosphere to an extent that will be irreparable – and probably already are. Even if we ignored AGW, the actions we need to address the problems facing us would invariably address contributing factors to AGW. But the thing the really seems increasingly evident is that not only is AGW a parallel issue to sustainability, it seems it can also be a catalyst, accelerating the degradation of natural systems we depend upon to maintain our global civilization.

    So I find it stunning that reasonably intelligent people not only cannot acknowledge the human species faces some staggering challenges to survival, but many are actively engaged in every effort to delay addressing these problems. We simply cannot go on with business as usual, yet we’re seeing roadblocks to constructive action thrown up at every turn by interests with agendas that have everything to do with short-term profit at the expense of long-term solutions.

    In light of this, I can’t help think the anti-AGW crowd is getting off easy when people reference them as Denialists. I can think of a number of stronger descriptions for what these people are engaged in doing.

  5. 55
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #53, The planet might be overpopulated but that is due to fossil fuel usage and its energy density and energy return on its investment required. In 1860 the population was around 1 billion globally. The subsequent use of this energy and its easy extraction made a population explosion a no brainer.

    In 1860 Oil yielded a return of 100:1 in terms of energy return and today we are down to around 14:1 on a global basis. The biggest issue facing humanity is probably not presently AGW but its energy future for as we begin to hit energy limits of perhaps 10:1 and lower the world population is not likely to remain as it is.

    If we look into hydrogen, electricity, and heat requirements in all of its forms and needs I doubt we can meet the cost of replacing oil, gas and coal with the CO2 free replacements let along with scientific obstacles that are in the way.

  6. 56
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Cardin Drake @53, a perfect example of the willingness to grasp at more and more far-fetched hypothetical straws rather than trying to come to grips with actual observed reality and known science. Denial is indeed a very powerful force.

    Captcha: tangled be

  7. 57
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a number of stronger descriptions

    On off days, I’m inclined to favor the notion they’re actually a fifth column, covert scary dogmatic alien invaders, seeding the biosphere with the chemicals they need to sustain life on Earth at their preferred temperature after they displace us.

    You know the punch line for “To Serve Man” I trust?

    I think the recipe starts: First, warm the planet, by adding …..

    Seriously, think what we’d do if we had proof that some outside enemy was doing intentionally and with forethought what we’re doing to the climate.

    “parts downfall”

  8. 58
    Hank Roberts says:

    > scary dogmatic aliens

    “write up”

  9. 59
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Barton, your calculator is brilliant. You’ve really done a service for the world.

  10. 60
    simon abingdon says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the effect of clouds on climate change is uncertain while well over half the surface of the planet is covered with clouds.

  11. 61
    Hank Roberts says:

    > said it before
    IPCC cites many sources for this same observation. What’s new?

  12. 62
    Hank Roberts says:

    > undersea volcano melting Arctic 1999
    Another “almost a litmus test” item. Google for fans of the idea.

  13. 63
  14. 64
    SecularAnimist says:

    I cannot express how sad it is to see “record increases in CO2 emissions” listed among the year’s “least unexpected observations”.

    Shall we just expect continuing increases in CO2 emissions year after year after year until irreversible global catastrophe is upon us?

  15. 65
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jon wrote: “Use of words such as ‘denialist’, ‘contrarian’, ‘denialosphere’ does your cause no good.”

    Agreed. We need more use of words like “fraud” and “crank” and “liar”.

  16. 66

    Jon (#2) and other accusers (Elery Fudge #4, DVG #37) of ad hominem attack: this is a minor aspect of what you’ll find on RealClimate.

    Short summary for the impatient: RC gets it wrong some times; the other side makes it a habit.

    Try checking out Bob Carter’s publications and you’ll find frequent use of emotive attacking terminology like “alarmist”, “myth”, “failure of the free press to inform the public about the true facts”, his side of the debate are “climate rationalists” implying the other side are irrational — and this is supposed to be an academic paper, not a blog. I’ll stick with one paper for examples. If you want more, go to his site.

    All of this is thin camouflage for the fact that he is loose with the facts, for example, saying that 1000ppm CO2 can’t be harmful because levels were higher in the early Cenozoic (so were temperatures, and the PETM global warming event caused a major extinction, but never mind).

    He also misleads by sleight of hand, claiming climate modellers prefer to call their work “projection” rather than “prediction”. My understanding is that this preference is because one of the inputs, CO2, is not a matter of science but of economics and politics — not because modellers have no confidence in their models.

    He attacks the concept of “consensus” which does not attack the validity of the science in the “consensus”, which is also clearly and ad hominem style of argument (who is saying it, not what they are saying).

    After sneering at GCM models for containing aspects that are inexact (and hence “curve fits”), he proceeds to argue that alternative models that are entirely curve fits are better!

    Then there’s this: “Fitting short-term trend lines through temperature or proxy temperature data with no regard to underlying climate cycles is meaningless, but this is widely ignored in the climate change literature.” He doesn’t cite a reference. If this is widely practised, he should be able to cite a few. All major climate studies I’ve seen attempt to allow for known variations in solar forcing, for example.

    He accuses the IPCC of ignoring the “presence in their datasets of clear El Nino and volcanic eruption signals of non-greenhouse origin”. No they do not. Comparing the spatial distribution of temperature change that the greenhouse effect causes with that of natural events like El Niño and volcanoes (for example) is included in model evaluation (get Chapter 9 Understanding and Attributing Climate Change from the WG1 report and see for yourself).

    Carter does everything these drive-by accusers try to pin on RC and more. At least here there is some appreciation of the value of getting the facts straight.

  17. 67
    ChuckG says:

    Your calculator does not work on my iMac Intel Core 2 Duo.
    Browsers; iCab, Safari and Firefox. Didn’t try Opera and Sunrise.
    All software up to date. Java applets have always worked fine. Sun Java plugin based speed test works fine.

  18. 68
    Mark A. York says:

    RE: 46,

    A peruse of any major newspaper site with a story on global warming reveals this trend. The comment threads are the last bastion of the deniers.

    RE 28,

    Al, only “some” humans are stupid.

  19. 69

    43 Barton Paul Levenson: Please be aware that I am still using Mac OS 9.1 and either ie5.1 or iCab 3.0.5. I paid $10 for this computer and that is my budget limit. I cannot upgrade this machine further.

  20. 70
    John Mashey says:

    RC encourages:
    – critical thinking
    – citation of credible sources to back opinions
    – avoidance of leaping to sweeping conclusions from minimal anecdotal data

    and people often assess posters by their skills in such areas.

    matt (#1)
    “The IT world seems to be a bastion of denialists these days. Just check The Register for more clueless anti-science.”

    TimK (#49)
    “CS types only understand binary on/off…
    …CS types often think they’re superior because of their minor personal successes programming a computer. Overconfidence, arrogance, and complete ignorance all in the same package.”

    Alan Neale (#52)
    “its so true, the arrogance of personalties in IT is so true a bit of a shocker to be fair. I never actually thought that it was a phenomenon of computer science per se but of science per se but now I know its an IT thing. Maybe a lot of IT guys are ignorant of physics, chemistry and biology but a lot are not.”

    Between these posts, we’ve learned that:
    – IT is a bastion of denialism …because of TheRegister.
    Situation Publishing appears to be an 11-person company with a turnover of Coal News?

    – That CS & IT “types” are arrogant & ignorant, with no qualifiers like “some” or “a small sample”.

    I’m interested in the extent to which backgrounds influence what people believe about science.

    TimK and Alan Neale: can you point at some credible academic, peer-reviewed studies (likely by social scientists) that actually provide data to back up your claims about IT/CS people, especially in comparison with (for example) economists, business, or finance people? Do the former have noticeably worse natural science backgrounds than the latter? Are they more arrogant? Cites? If not, is there some reason why CS/IT should be attacked? As a group, have they done more damage lately than some of these others?

    I’m quite sure there are CS or IT people who are arrogant/ignorant; it would be astonishing if there weren’t. Likewise, it would be equally astonishing if there weren’t AGW deniers (like David Evans, although he’s an EE turned software guy). And, I know there are CS/IT people whose natural science background isn’t strong. Is there a big difference between IT/CS people and the general population?
    This is a slightly different question, but as a quick test for serious AGW denialism,
    there are about 130 “experts” in the Heartland list. Each person has enough of a description to get some idea of their background, and at least most of the people there actually probably want to be on that list, which makes it better than some. Is Computer Science well-represented on that list? How about compared to other disciplines?
    Anybody want to name the CS/IT people there?

    In RC a while ago, I wrote a more serious analysis on this sort of topic, although that one was occasioned by comments about engineers.

    So, was there any published substance behind these remarks? If so, I would *love* to see it …but if not…. well, let’s say I have my reservations about sweeping generalizations, and while I haven’t done a scientific study either, I’ve known & met a few CS/IT folks :-)

  21. 71
    James says:

    Re #53: “A massive undersea volcano erupting in 1999 would certainly add a lot of heat to the Arctic ocean. Now I realize that there has been no credibly scientific studies on this, but ridiculing the possibility seems unwarranted.”

    Even a fairly modest undersea volcano ought to register on seismographs around the world. (And hydrophones, I would think.) One large enough to warm the entire Arctic ocean ought to have knocked every seismograph on the planet off scale.

    Humm… A little back-of-the-envelope here. Lava temperature runs ~750-1200C, so figure 1000C temperature difference between it and seawater. Assume specific heat of water is the same as that of rock (though in fact it’s larger, and heat of fusion larger still), so 1 Km^3 of molten lava raises the temperature of 1000 Km^3 of seawater by 1 degree C. The volume of the Arctic Ocean is what, about 15 million Km^3? So unless I’ve dropped a decimal point somewhere, you’d need a volcano that errupted around 15,000 Km^3 of molten lava to do the trick. That’s a decent-sized mountain range – does ridicule seem a bit more warranted now?

  22. 72
    Mark says:

    simon #60. So it’s uncertain. So why is it only going to cool the planet? A cloudy night is warmer than a clear one, so you cannot be certain of that, can you: it could be that any changes in cloud will accelerate the change not retard it.

    Did you forget that? If not, why the heck did you bring it up? The price of oil over the next 8 years is uncertain. Doesn’t mean we can’t usefully use a prediction to see where it’s going, does it.

    If you’re going to continue to bring that up, bring up how it could be making things worse.

  23. 73
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Thank you, Jim. I don’t know how much of a service to the world it is; I was just trying to illustrate a quick-and-dirty method for estimating planet temperatures. :D

  24. 74
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Yikes, Chuck, sorry to hear that. I’ll look at it again.

  25. 75
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Clark, I just brought up Firefox and the page worked properly. I don’t know what the problem with your system (or my applet) is. I hope it’s not that Macs can’t use this stuff. All I can say is that it works in Firefox on my Dell desktop running XP Pro. Also in Chrome. I’ll check Safari next.

  26. 76
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Oops. No I won’t. Safari only runs on Macs.

  27. 77
    Abi says:

    Happy new year to Gavin, RC and the foot soldiers.

    Thank you for all your hard work, which is really appreciated by this lurker.

  28. 78
    Neven says:

    I hope you allow me to vent my thoughts on the whole Denialist-namecalling issue.

    I think Mr Eli said it very well that there are pros and amateurs in the anti-AGW camp. There are few pros and many, many amateurs. In fact everybody who hasn’t done any research on climate science is most probably an anti-AGW amateur. I see this around me with the people I know (me being the only one spending a few hours every day on RC, Tamino, Rabett Run, Climate Progress, but also WUWT and the anti-AGW articles from Climate Debate Daily): they think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Which of course is the aim of the anti-AGW pros. IMO the effect Al Gore generated with AIT is wearing off for the simple fact that people are conservative and don’t want to change their habits.

    Now, what I’m trying to get at: in the PR war that is fought out in the blogospehere – which in my view does have an effect on reporting in the MSM – it’s all about convincing the amateurs, the masses. I believe the term Denialist, though accurate as many people are in the phase of denial, is too aggressive because it automatically puts anti-AGW pros and amateurs in the same camp and makes the pros more or less invisible.

    I thought about this for a long time and I think a term like Misinformed is much more appropriate for the anti-AGW amateurs. They are in denial, but the reason this denial is so persistent is that they are systematically misinformed. Because misinformation comes first I believe Misinformed is a much better and friendlier term. Added to this you can call the anti-AGW pros MisinformANTS, and thus make a distinction between the two.

    This allows you to use the rebutting style I like best when reading comments here on RC or Tamino, employed endlessly by Hank Roberts who almost never loses his patience (like for instance Ray Ladbury or Tamino -very understandably and rightly! – do): ‘It seems you are misinformed, but this is understandable as there is a lot of misinformation about. You would do well to go here and read this and that. Research it thoroughly so you can get an idea if the Earth is warming (we believe it is, and most in the anti-AGW camp do too), if it’s due to human activities (we believe it is, and quite a few in the anti-AGW camp admit this) and how serious the consequences will be and what to do about them (we believe this is what the deabte really should be about).’

    I think from a strategical point of view this friendly patronizing works best and a switch from Denialist to the dual Misinformed and Misinformant would be much more productive in getting the Doubt-factor to work for you and not against you. This is more important than people think.

    At the same time when ever I post comments on a site like WUWT (which is not very often) I like to stress the fact that I view myself as alarmed rather than alarmist and try to distance myself from those groups that try to cash in financially or politically on AGW. These are things I have to put emphasis on just like the fact that I lack the intelligence and knowledge to go into lengthy debates about the science. I ‘believe’ AGW is happening because I find the articles and comments on pro-AGW sites more credible and convincing than on anti-AGW sites.

    Hmmm, I’m writing way more than I intended (and more for myself than for others I see now) so let me stress again that I am convinced that it would be a smart thing to switch from Denialist to Misinformed/ant.

  29. 79
    chupa says:

    Sarah Palin? Really, I mean come on.

    “So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent.”

    A ‘conservative’ who does not outright deny the existence of global warming; that’s pretty progressive in my book and hardly clueless.

    “there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts.”

    And, for one to allow that man made causes are part of the problem as well, that’s practically unheard of. How do these statements make her the most clueless US politician?? The only other conservative I know of on record with anywhere near that honesty is Newt Gingrich.

    I hardly think she deserves your snarky award. [edit]

    [Response: Umm.. John McCain? (remember, he was the Republican candidate for president). This is not a conservative/liberal issue (despite what you might read elsewhere). The radiative impact of CO2 doesn’t depend on who you vote for. – gavin]

  30. 80
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 55 : Alan, I think you meant 54. You wrote: “The planet might be overpopulated but that is due to fossil fuel usage and its energy density and energy return on its investment required. In 1860 the population was around 1 billion globally. The subsequent use of this energy and its easy extraction made a population explosion a no brainer.”

    I think you fail to make your case. Aside from the sweeping nature of your remarks, population rate data suggests we’d be overpopulated regardless of energy density and return based on the readily available evidence of historical population growth. Put another way, correlation is not necessarily causation.

    Your figure of 1 billion in 1860 is late by half a century, according to the 2004 U.N. report on world population; the 1 billion figure was reached in the early 1800s, around 1804.

    According to the same report, population rate of growth has dropped from 2% per year in the 1960s to 1.3% per year now (1.6% in less developed regions). The greatest increase in population was in the late 1980s (86 million per year ). World birthrates are such that the most recent increase of a billion people took place in the shortest span of time – 12 years. (Estimates suggest said rates are slowing, in keeping with the declining rate of growth; the report estimates it will take 14 years to add the next billion, 15 the next, then 28 the next – but said rates are slowing in developed regions at a greater rate than in underdeveloped regions.) The report also notes that “Of the 78 million people currently added to the world each year, 95 per cent live in the less developed regions” and “Eighty per cent of the world currently reside in the less developed regions. At the beginning of the century, 70 per cent did so. By 2050, the share of the world population living in the currently less developed regions will have risen to 90 per cent.”

    Based on the report and on history, I could anecdotally suggest that the actual formula seems rather obvious: the poorer and less educated the population, the likely higher rate of reproduction. Couples in developed countries have reduced average birthrates by 50% since 1950. China was approaching a billion people long before their own industrial (energy) ‘revolution’ that created their technological push of the past two decades, and its leaders, having done the math, so to speak, put measures in place to control population well before that time. Likewise India’s population growth preceded their industrial and technological growth. It’s the same throughout the undeveloped world. If anything, the evidence suggests that as energy use increases in efficiency and with it the concurrent growth in industry and technology alongside the availability of resources, populations tend to decline proportionally in industrialized/developed countries. Populations in those countries live longer lives, yes, but that does not translate into population growth. Note that while the portion of the world’s population 60 and older is 1 in 10, the portion is 1 in 5 in the developed countries, which, in concert with the declining birthrate of 50% in developed countries, underscores this understanding.

    Also, while the use of energy and the byproducts of technological innovation have allowed us to keep up with population growth in terms of providing sustenance to the world’s population, the returns in this area are declining in proportion to population increase. The decline of China’s agricultural production and grain reserves in the past few years and that country’s decision to purchase grain on the world market – at the expense of other, poorer countries’ ability to purchase from the same, finite stock – highlights this problem. (Yet another reason the biofuel solution seems absurd – the world needs to eat and we’re worried about fueling our cars.)

    “If we look into hydrogen, electricity, and heat requirements in all of its forms and needs I doubt we can meet the cost of replacing oil, gas and coal with the CO2 free replacements let along with scientific obstacles that are in the way.”

    If it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?

  31. 81
    Phil. Felton says:

    Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    2 January 2009 at 5:44
    Oops. No I won’t. Safari only runs on Macs.

    The latest version 3.2 also runs on PCs, your Java applet doesn’t run on my Mac though. I don’t have problems with Java normally.

  32. 82
    Jim Prall says:

    [I’m re-posting this after running afoul of reCaptcha-vs-Preview-button-itis.]

    Re #79, Chupa: You’re giving Sarah Palin way too much leeway; see e.g.: Palin, McCain disagree on Causes of Global Warming. She uses waffle words to try to play both sides; the core contradiction is her suggestion that we can “do something” about the problem without deciding on why we think it is happening – if we don’t know whether CO2 is the problem, just what “action” can we take? Only adaptation? Anyway, this is meltwater under the bridge-to-nowhere now, I guess…

    Anyway, thanks indeed to the dedicated volunteers here at RC and to everyone offering constructive contributions. I’d like to second Ray’s comment at #29:

    Rod B., You know better than that. Scientific consensus is the set of facts, theories and techniques that the vast majority agree are essential in order to understand a field of science. The “voting” occurs by publications and citations. Those who reject the consensus are unproductive. Those who embrace “crazy ideas” have a higher probability of being wrong. The sweet spot where you actually increase understanding is the consensus.
    It is hardly unique to climate science. Particle Physics has its standard model. Geophysics (last I studied it) had its Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM) for understanding seismic propagation. And so on. Don’t be thick. Consensus is an essential part of science–ALL SCIENCE.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 December 2008 @ 6:14 PM

    I’d like to invite everyone to take a look at a site I’ve been working on, ‘faces of climate science’, with the full list of authors of IPCC AR4 wg1, annotated with a link to their academic homepage, some citation stats on their top-cited papers, a link to a Google Scholar query for their works (and a separate page with their photos, just for the heck of it.) I’ve also got a page listing all the journals I’ve found that cover climate science, with links to their online editions (some are subscriber-only, but many have at least some free public access).

    I also have a much longer list of some 1300+ climate scientists (including wg1) built up manually (but still far from complete.) In that list I’ve started adding in some of the most prominent “skeptics” to put their academic standing in context. The few well-published names like Baliunas, Pielke Sr., Michaels, et al. are scattered through the middle of the pack. Judge for yourself if they represent a significant fraction of the field. (I may have to think about some way to tag or highlight their names for visual reference.) Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

    This took me quite some time just to do a full coverage of AR4 wg1, and I have a lot of names left to do in the longer list. As for the heavily padded and quotemined list of purported challengers in lists such as the Inhofe 400 (now claiming 650 but with many duplicates), I can’t promise to treat those lists exhaustively, but some random sampling may be in order to illustrate how far those lists fall short on published work, current research and teaching in relevant fields.

    Best wishes to all for a happy New Year.

  33. 83
    Rod B says:

    Yeah, Ray, but accusing one of reciting “talking points” is a cheap shot; asserting they are simply wrong is not. It was the cheap shot ad homs that Jon was referring to, which dhogaza inadvertantly substantianted.

  34. 84
    Rod B says:

    Ray (33) although the pro “denialist” deny and rationalize it, denialism is an unadulterated ad hom pigeon-holing folks who disagree with you into the holocaust supporter camp. But if you keep using it long and loud enough it will eventually stick — maybe even get in a dictionary (beyond Wiki).

  35. 85
    Rod B says:

    DVG (37), I’m in your camp, but to be fair, the site’s official moderators are not as often guilty of this charge and show a goodly amount of professionalism.

  36. 86
    simon abingdon says:

    Mark #72 As I understand it (not very well I admit) water vapour reinforces CO2 feedback, while water in other forms (droplets, ice-crystals etc) provides negative feedback.

    [Response: Not true. Clouds can provide positive or negative feedback depending on their properties and height. – gavin]

    It seems to me that we need to be a lot surer of what assumptions should be input to GCMs so as to properly represent the effect of the vast volume of clouds which girdle the planet. (It only needs one fly in the ointment to scupper a theory).

  37. 87
    Richard Palm says:

    What’s the best response to the Soros funding claim? I searched on “Soros” in the RC Wiki but didn’t find anything.

    [Response: It’s just not true. But how would you like me to prove that? By showing the non-existent non-cheques he didn’t send us, or the non-existent bank statement showing his non-existent non-payments? Please see the disclaimer that we published years ago. It is still valid. – gavin]

  38. 88
    PatH says:

    RE: #80

    “If it comes down to a choice between on one hand being inconvenienced by a world where you have to learn to live with less and on the other hand where you continue with business as usual and thereby guarantee your children have to deal with the aspect of a collapse of global civilization, which would you choose?”

    Why do poor people have to live with less than they have now when many others can reduce their consumption slightly and still have much more than they really need? I would be happy to live with 10% of what Bill Gates has/uses or even Al Gore.

  39. 89
    Ark says:

    A bit of hope for the Australian(s)? This one, from their National Affairs editor, is not all that stupid:
    “Sceptics skip the long view”:,25197,24866329-7583,00.html

  40. 90
    Ark says:

    Dear Sarah Palin: Is there anybody who would blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate?

  41. 91
    san quintin says:

    Re 82. Sounds like a great project Jim. However, I’m not sure I’d put Roger Pileke Sr in with the nutty sceptics like Baliunas. He clearly accepts the AGW issue, just believes that regionally other anthropogenic forcings are important too.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

  42. 92
    simon abingdon says:

    “Clouds can provide positive or negative feedback depending on their properties and height. – gavin”

    Since the properties and heights of clouds are continually changing and their worldwide effects are necessarily substantial, how are they to be convincingly modelled?

  43. 93

    I am extremely happy about January 20th myself and have enjoyed immensely the sound of conservatives whining, moaning and complaining because the pro-pollution administration is leaving office and being replaced by a science-and-reality based administration which will actually do something about this problem.

    Since the Republican party has become a minority I think it safe to bypass the denialists as irrelevant. No argument would ever cause a creationist to believe in evolution, nor would any argument ever serve to cause a conservative to believe in Global Warming.

    Best to bypass such people and begin working on the substantial changes in lifestyle which will be necessary in order to reduce pollution and consumerism and over-reliance upon debt.

  44. 94
    Hank Roberts says:

    > how are they convincingly to be modelled?

    Is that the unquantifiable “convincingly” — only you can assess?

    Or perhaps journal articles will suffice. If so you can look them up and see, e.g. (Google Scholar ‘recent’ for climate model clouds, as an example)

    American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2008, abstract

    Title: Sulfate aerosol nucleation, primary emissions, and cloud radiative forcing in the aerosol- climate model ECHAM5-HAM.

  45. 95
    John Mashey says:

    Flora and fauna
    – don’t read thermometers
    – could care less about NASA GISS or Hadley
    – don’t care whether or not there’s some badly-sited surface station in 2% of the Earth
    – don’t care how well clouds are modeled

    But there is *vast* evidence from around the world, summarized in IPCC WG II Chapter 1 that flora and fauna are moving poleward (or uphill). At least some of them are far away from human habitation [hence, no Urban Heat Island effects need apply.]

    In particular, weeds and insects are relative “mobile”, and many are primarily deterred by coldspells. Of course, temperature is not the only factor, but for many it’s very important. AGW theory says that one expects nights and winters to warm faster than days and summers, which sounds good at first, unless it means you get West Nile because the wrong mosquitoes survive better. Since ~2001, Canada has started to get West Nile cases.

    Among the most visible, out of many hundreds of examples:

    – bark beetles are expected to kill ~every lodgepole pine in Colorado, and they’re currently chewing their way through British Columbia, which is mostly very sparsely populated humans. Coldspells kill the beetles, but those are lessening of late.

    – Kudzu’s Northward expansion. Here’s a study from University of Toronto researchers.
    They say:
    “The northward movement of minimum winter temperatures predicts kudzu range expansion, Kudzu could survive in Canada in less than 20 years”
    Kudzu is also especially responsive to CO2…

    Canadians might like to have more maple sugar business, as the New England sugar maples slowly depart, but they’re correctly not keen about kudzu…

    So, why are many flora & fauna moving without listening to statistical dancing on pinheads and waiting for perfect models of clouds?

  46. 96
    dhogaza says:

    Is there anybody who would blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate?

    Yeah, it must be admitted that Palin’s fracture is rather englished :)

  47. 97
    David B. Benson says:

    John Mashey (95) — Well put. Kindly come do that on

    now and again.


  48. 98
    Craig Allen says:

    This review of the political discussion around climate change is fun, but how about a review of advances made in the science?

    Things like advances in the models, improvements to our understanding of the paleohistory, did we get a better handle on cloud physics, were there any breakthrough in atmospheric physics theories etc.?

    There are many hundreds of scientists beavering away at this. What did they discover and learn in 2008?

  49. 99
    David B. Benson says:

    Natural and artificial iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean:,1518,599213,00.html

  50. 100
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #80, the wests population is not growing and I then presume that the immigration is necessary in order to keep our lower end of the economy functioning. Our western populations are aging I believe and come 2050 the global population will max out at around 9 billion I believe and fall back to present levels come 2100. Prosperity, education or contraception makes the global population smaller but old people consume a lot of resources for little return maybe. Our oil, gas and possibly coal will all have reached points of economic return before then except maybe coal. My main point is that our present western populations rely on being as large as they are on fossil fuels. Sanitation, transportation, medical science – hospitals, ambulances etc, the military – our wars, our food infrastructure – farming and fertilisers, products – plastics etc. It is not going to be a very effective energy decet is it ?

    China and India are probably good examples of local country based good food production but we can sustain our populations by the same ideas and ways of living. I just get the feeling that all bets are off on that one as our politics and economics rely on prosperity and heavy energy use models. Hopefully it can but less will be hard to deal with. After all for 20 years now we have been notified our AGW, but as yet no commitment to reduce and become more efficient in our energy use.

    Can planes fly on something else, can cars, can houses and building be heated and we all can go to work as per usual. Doubtful.