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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 Realclimate.org’ 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. 101
    David B. Benson says:

    Clovis comet evidence:

    “Six North American Sites Hold 12,900-year-old Nanodiamond-rich Soil”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090101172136.htm

    IMO, this is quite strong evidence. The issue for climate is that this impact from an extraterrestrial body could well have been the trigger which set off Younger Dryas.

  2. 102
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 100: “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.”

    And your point is…?

    Alan: “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.”

    You should actually read the report I linked, instead of telling me what you believe sans substantial support for your claims. Population is projected to increase through the end of the century, not decline, though there will be a leveling off, not decline, barring nuclear war, a super-plague or other massive natural or AGW-induced disaster. And you actually should check out the history of population decline. You’ll find that as a species, we tend to rebound strongly whenever our numbers are reduced.

    And there are too many people, Alan.

    Alan: “My main point is that our present western populations rely on being as large as they are on fossil fuels.”

    To be polite, you are ignoring reality, then. This isn’t about just “western” populations. ALL populations utilize the planet’s resources, and you have yet to answer the key question I asked in relation to this problem.

    Alan: “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 ?”

    Were you intending to say “deficit” or “decent”?

    Peak oil is a short-term inevitability, if it is not already here. Clean coal is a fiction. Water resources are being depleted. Agriculture is fairly topped out; any increases in yield are likely to be incremental. Pollution is adversely affecting the biosphere on a global basis. AGW is happening, and it will supremely ruin our day as a species unless it is adequately addressed. Resources are finite and insufficient, with a growing world population clamoring for their use. Nothing you are saying actually addresses this reality, let alone addresses what I’ve said.

    What is your point?

    Alan: “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.”

    Say what? China’s food production industry is a disaster. It is draining its aquifers. It’s civil engineering projects have caused more problems than they’ve solved. The Yellow River no longer reaches the sea. India, dependant as it is upon failing monsoons, is in equally serious trouble. Also, both countries depend, in growing part, upon melt-water from the Himalayas, andthat source is disappearing. Meanwhile, in the U.S., we are draining the Oglala aquifer at un-replenishable levels. The Western states have been in a drought for over a decade, and California is facing the prospect of the third year in a row where the Sierra snow pack will be below average. Do you even understand what you think you are trying to argue here?

    Alan: “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.”

    Actually, alt energy use HAS become more efficient. The real problem, at least in the U.S., is the administration and GOP congress has done all it can to promote traditional energy production (Gas, oil, etc.) at the expense of alt energy. And whether or not your statement is credible, how does this change the fact that we are in serious trouble? Are you trying to suggest we should just kiss it all good-bye?

    Alan: “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.”

    Planes can be replaced by other forms of transportation; many of the needs for planes, such as business-related travel, can be eliminated. Re heating: ever hear of passive solar? Wind and solar panels can also help. Insulation also helps, no? Same with transportation – we need to commit to alternative forms. On a macro-level, the way we plan urban communities, the way we source things, the manner in which we live, are going to have to change…or we’re going to have to come to grips with the very real possibility we’re going to do ourselves in. This kind of change won’t happen overnight, and we’re at a minimum eight years behind, thanks in large part to the outgoing administration. But you’d be surprised, I think, at how fast things can change, if we dedicated ourselves to the task.

    Again, I will ask: 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?

    Side note to Real Climate: Small complaint. Your two word anti-spamming measure is often incomprehensible. For this latest post I had to close and reopen my browser four times until something came up I could fully read.

    [Response: Just ask for a new reCAPTCHA - top little button on the right with two circling arrows. - gavin]

  3. 103
    John Lang says:

    Off-topic question for gavin,

    I’ve been looking through the ModelE simulations pages and I’m having difficulty with the Forcings versus Temperature response formula. Generally, it is estimated there is a 0.75C impact per 1 watt/m^2. The GISS Model E total forcing to 2003 is +1.92 w/m^2 yet the surface temperature impact is only +0.65C or so.

    What is the explanation for the differential?

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/NetF.txt

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/work/modelEt/time_series/work/tmp.4_E3Af8aeM20_12_1880_2003_1951_1980-L3AaeoM20D/global.gif

    [Response: the ocean-related thermal lag. It takes time to catch up with the forcings... - gavin]

  4. 104
    Rod B says:

    David Matthews (93), nothing like the tyranny of the majority to make a mob’s day…

  5. 105
    Deep Climate says:

    “Most clueless US politician taking about climate change (with the exception of Senator Inhofe who’d always win).”

    That Sarah Palin – there she goes again, “taking” the “l” out of “talking”.

    Typos aside, it’s hard to argue with that choice.

    [Response: Whoops. fixed. - gavin]

  6. 106

    I think the most significant result of 2008 is that “Green” seems to have finally caught on, and with a vengeance. Two years ago when I first started talking-up compact fluorescent bulbs most of the people I spoke to didn’t want to be bothered with the initial expense. Now they line grocery stores everywhere, with giant displays of all sorts of products.

    The oil crunch of this past summer seems to have finally changed car buying behavior with many of the SUV and gas guzzling vehicles finally falling from grace. Although the economy can be blamed some for the collapse in oil prices, significant oil demand seems to have been destroyed, which is a good thing for economic viability long term, as well as reducing CO2 output and protecting the environment. The Chevy Volt is continuing product development, even with gasoline at multi-year lows.

    T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan was announced in July 2008 and represents a major advance in renewable energy. With advances in wind and solar power, as well as the storage technologies needed to make those power sources more reliable, we can make a serious dent in our oil addiction.

  7. 107
    Mark says:

    re 104 but the scientists ARE the minority, the majority are the fence-sitters who are being targeted by the anti-AGW side such as Texaco and Phillip Morris (if science is wrong about global warming, maybe they’re wrong about the effects of smoking).

    And what about the majority who don’t believe that mass murderers are nice people, really? What about the majority who think paedophillia is a bad thing? Should we start considering these people as right in what they do just because they are not supported by the majority?

    Your comment is worthless.

  8. 108
    Mark says:

    PatH 88, who says the poor need less than they have now? China can double their CO2 production (if, as you seem to be implying that CO2 production is necessarily bound to “having less” which is an asinine assumption you have not proven) and still be hugely behind the US production IN TOTAL. Not per-head, in total.

    All that needs to be done is the US to drop half their production of CO2.

    But then you will bleat on about how China needs to do more, wouldn’t you. If there’s someone else out there who thinks like that, please converse with Pat until you both agree on what should be done and THEN come back with the consensus opinion.

  9. 109
    Mark says:

    Simon 86. So, are you willing to concede that your understanding of clouds is incomplete?

    You’ve been silent since then…

  10. 110
    Mark says:

    RodB 84/83, nope, it isn’t an ad-hominem pigeonholing if it’s true. I could call someone a foul-mouthed SOB and, if they ARE foul mouthed, this is not an ad hominem attack, merely truth.

    And surely labelling such people “skeptics” is likewise an ad-hominem attack, since you’re pigeonholing yourself and others under that banner. After all, you seem to assume that pigeonholing is necessarily an ad hominem issue and that IS a pigeonholing.

  11. 111
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    simon abingdon writes:

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

    Roughly following Kiehl and Trenberth 1997, my latest RCM uses three levels of clouds, high (ice), middle (water) and low (water), at levels 5, 11 and 17 of a 20-layer atmosphere equally divided by mass. Sky coverage is 20%, 9%, and 49%, respectively, giving a global average of 62% by random overlap. Mass paths are 0.009, 0.020 and 0.036 kilograms per square meter. I used the absorption coefficients from the Hadley Centre GCM — 65 square meters per kilogram for the ice clouds and 130 for the liquid water clouds, assumed to be uniform from 4 microns up. I had to make the cloud albedos quite low to match the Earth’s overall albedo.

    For an alternative scheme, see Manabe and Strickler 1964 and Manabe and Wetherall 1967.

  12. 112
    ccpo says:

    Off topic, butsince this is a review… Is the statement from the CO2 post in ’07 regarding Gore’s CO2/Temp graph still accurate? We ARE seeing 9 degrees above normal in the Arctic…

    “simply extrapolating this correlation forward in time puts the Antarctic temperature in the near future somewhere upwards of 10 degrees Celsius warmer than present — rather at the extreme end of the vast majority of projections”

    Cheers

  13. 113
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #102: my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century. Some of your
    arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy
    provision and population in the 21st century.

    China and India population is growing even though China is limited to a single
    offspring (will that ruin their genetic diversity at some point) and India is not
    but many of them live in quite bad conditions and hence large families are still
    quite common and so is the death rate of its young.

    Here is my point, the world is adopting the capitalist model of growth and
    prosperity. Capitalism adopts strange ways for dealing with energy and sees it as no
    more than a commodity to be bought and sold in supply and demand terms for as little
    as the market allows. Oil is precious, as is Gas and unfortunately coal. Before they
    were discovered only whale oil was used for lamps and possibly coal was burned and
    wood. Hence 1750 onwards saw an solid growth in global population.

    So when oil peaks and energy descent begins, I doubt hydrogen will be ready to fill
    in the gap, nor biofuels or algae biofuels etc. At possibly a 6% drop per year the
    world will be hit hard but at present at $45 a barrel we cannot even afford the
    projects that bring new fields and sources of oil online, at $147 it was looking
    good but it may have caused some of the recent USA housing mortgage crash that
    resulted in the recession.

    Are you arguing that oil is not a precious commodity and that business people will
    stop flying and holiday makers, that shipping will not stop too and western society
    will somehow be ok when it cannot afford to drive and our agricultural machinery.
    Governments etc will need to bring in emergency legislation and worst of oil, gas
    and coal will probably be converted and a lot of land too.

    The west does not live without its energy needs, when it has to it will ruin us. Our
    adaptation plans are non existent and peak oil could be up us from either limited
    flow rates, exhausted fields and the end of easy oil.

    Not of this is good news for climate change.

  14. 114
    simon abingdon says:

    Mark #109 “are you willing to concede that your understanding of clouds is incomplete”. I´ve already done so, but my own understanding of clouds is neither here nor there. It’s the scientific community’s incomplete understanding of clouds that is the point.

  15. 115
    Terry Hansen says:

    Like some of the examples in your 2008 Year in Review (“All global warming has been erased”), I see numerous op-eds, letters, etc. in a variety of media outlets that do now accurately represent the science. Here are two fairly recent examples:

    Inconvenient thoughts on global warming;
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/35928324.html

    Dear Mr. Liberal:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/34609399.html

    I am greatly concerned that in the popular press I rarely see informed, reasoned responses to the issues raised by climate skeptics. I believe that an educated public is extremely important to create the political space needed for our legislators to take action, but that the information available often does a great disservice to this cause.

    I’m wondering if a coalition of climate scientists functioning as a type of educational rapid-response team wouldn’t be a workable idea? When climate skeptic op-eds appear, a group e-mail could go out, and hopefully in most instances a scientist whose expertise matches the op-ed could respond with a letter or op-ed to that media source. If there was a large enough pool of scientists the time commitment wouldn’t need to be that great.

    Better yet would be a proactive stance that saw climate scientists, and perhaps science writers, send numerous columns and letters to newspapers and magazines throughout the country explaining how the climate has warmed and cooled in past and why it is different now, what a climate forcing is, that no scientific consensus existed in the 70’s on global cooling, etc. Very fundamental issues are not understood by a large number of U.S. citizens.

  16. 116
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon, You seem to be of the club that believes fallacy that unless we understand everything, we understand nothing. Yes, clouds are an uncertainty. However, most of the evidence suggests that the net feedback is small and slightly positive.
    Moreover, modeling changable forcings does not represent a huge problem. In criminology, you follow the money; in physics, you follow the energy. It’s the net energy change that matters, not the contribution at any instant.

  17. 117
    Mark says:

    Simon 114, but you ARE stating that there’s something wrong with your understanding. And, since you said, and I quote:

    “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.”

    that you are incorrect that clouds can only cool (provide negative feedback) IS a very pertinent thing to admit.

    Your inability to recognise that clouds can produce positive feedback makes your post #60 irrelevant. You must now retract your statement because it doesn’t say anything about AGW being wrong as your post of 60 implies.

    You are just as well off saying that since we can’t predict the price of tomatoes next week we cannot trust climate models.

  18. 118
    Mark says:

    re 113, how can two parents producing one child each produce an increasing population?

  19. 119
    Rod B says:

    Mark (110), how about if they were not, in fact, birthed by a German Shepherd??

  20. 120
    TimK says:

    John Mashey # 70 wrote: “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?”

    There is another way for something to become accepted in the world of science. In the field performance and/or dominance in the market place of ideas.

    I.E. An invention or a series of inventions that are so radically superior to previous methods, that it quickly displaces ALL of them, dominates from that point on.

    If invention/techniques dramtically improves the efficiency of core industry and significantly accelerates the course of human history, (for better or worse), that person becomes a Nexus point.

    I accomplished it by adopting techniques used in other science fields, to radically improve modern operating systems/pace of Micro electronics development.

    Such cross breading between the fields of science rarely occurs in today’s IT world.

  21. 121
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 113

    Alan: Re #102: “my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century.”

    To be polite, from my perspective it remains unclear what your point is. This current post is almost a non-sequitur in relation to what we’ve already discussed

    Alan: “Some of your arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy provision and population in the 21st century.”

    Really? In what way are they contradictory?

    Alan: ‘China and India population is growing even though China is limited to a single
    offspring (will that ruin their genetic diversity at some point) and India is not
    but many of them live in quite bad conditions and hence large families are still
    quite common and so is the death rate of its young.”

    What does this have to do with what’s already been said? China’s Population is projected to level off in the next 40 years (current growth rate .58 percent), while India’s (1.46 percent) is expected to surpass China in that time. Further, I’ve already discussed China, how their example is a problem for your contention re energy use and its byproduct – industrialization – equates to population growth, and how their one child policy predates their emergence as an industrial giant, causing further problems for you. Ditto India.

    Alan: “Oil is precious, as is Gas and unfortunately coal. Before they
    were discovered only whale oil was used for lamps and possibly coal was burned and
    wood. Hence 1750 onwards saw an solid growth in global population.”

    Again, I think you need to rethink this. The population of the planet was growing steadily long before oil use – the data is easy to find and rather obvious. There was no significant rise with the advent of oil, at least in terms of oil use being causation, only correlation. China is a perfect example of this understanding, a country that saw a large segment of its population growth without any real benefit of the cheap energy boom. You should peruse the U.N. report on World Population Prospects (2006) where you will find further evidence that population growth has no consistent correlation with the benefits of energy use as you characterized it in your first reply to me. The more plausible reason for population growth are simple numbers – more people, more breeding pairs. Again, the U.N. report seems to confirm this, as the countries with the highest fertility rates and projected birthrates are traditionally poor countries. (See intro pages 9 through 19) Once we hit 1.5 Billion, things tended to really accelerate. If anything, you’d have a better time arguing that the advent of cheap, available energy in developed countries contributed to the increase of lifespans and a reduction of infant mortality, which contribute to the ‘problem’ of overpopulation. And there is no denying a trickle-down effect in the shape of improved medicines and better food transport world-wide caused undeveloped countries to benefit as well, albeit in limited fashion.

    But we’d still be overpopulated with two billion less people on this planet due to higher infant mortality and lower life-expectancy, because populations would still grow and we’d still be facing issues related to sustainability.

    Again, nothing you are saying addresses my observation that the higher the degree of education and access to the benefits of living in a developed country, the lower the birthrate, the corollary being higher birthrates and population numbers having more to do with poverty and lack of access to resources and lifestyles common in developed countries, a proposition supported by the data I provided you.

  22. 122
    John Mashey says:

    Simon:

    Do you yet have any thoughts on my #95? Specifically, will the bark beetles, mosquitoes, and kudzu stop moving poleward until cloud models are better?

  23. 123
    Alan Neale says:

    re 118, How is China increasing its population if they are all reduced to single child. Maybe somethng to do with multiple generations being alive at the same time, the mortality rate being very low and people living longer. There is a lag in the population levelling and falling I believe. The dynamics change over time as the population ages out.

  24. 124
    simon abingdon says:

    Mark #117 “Your inability to recognise that clouds can produce positive feedback makes your post #60 irrelevant. You must now retract your statement because it doesn’t say anything about AGW being wrong as your post of 60 implies”

    In #60 I said “the effect of clouds on climate change is uncertain while well over half the surface of the planet is covered with clouds”. The statement is true.

    [Response: But devoid of implication, (and your other statement was just wrong). - gavin]

  25. 125
    A. Simmons says:

    Just one more vote for The Register for most consistently wrong media outlet. Their sceptical, point-and-laugh-at-the-fail attitude works really well when they stick to matters relating to computers. Shame, as since the two journalists most responsible (Lewis Page and Andrew Orlowski) started down that cul-de-sac El Reg’s credibility has been badly damaged.

  26. 126

    In re Alan @ 102:

    Re #102: my point is essentially one of trouble in the 21st century. Some of your
    arguments seem contradictory to me from what I have read on the subjects of energy
    provision and population in the 21st century.

    This is a pretty common meme for people who are opposed to building out renewable / carbon-free energy sources. Renewable energy isn’t expensive, in an absolute sense, it is more expensive in a marginal cost sense. Making “green” decisions can save money and provide the same, or greater, standard of living.

    I used to turn up the temperature in my fridge to cut my electric bill. Now, with a far more energy efficient fridge, I keep it as cold as I want and still save money. Dittos for energy efficient lighting — now I leave the kitchen light on overnight for my stupid cat.

    It’s just a matter of making the right decisions. I’ve cut my electric consumption about 75% over the past two years, and am working on cutting it an additional 50% in the next year. I’ve not done that by cutting back my standard of living. It’s all been making better choices and unrelentingly looking for the next kilowatt hour to reduce.

    I’m watching a program right now — this woman talks about paying $120 a month for heating, versus $300 — where the house has geothermal HVAC. That’s reality today.

  27. 127
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon, I am not sure that you fully appreciate the implications of uncertainty in the climate. First, feedbacks generally depend on temperature more than they would on things like CO2 concentration. If there is significant negative feedback from clouds, that would imply the current temperature range to be relatively stable. Unfortunately, the paleoclimate is replete with examples where temperatures went MUCH higher. Taken together, the evidence all points to a CO2 sensitivity of about 3 degrees C per doubling. If you dispute some of that evidence–e.g. paleoclimate–you loosen the constraint much more on the high end than on the low end. This significantly increases the risk posed by cimate change.
    The uncertainties are not your friend here. They do not provide a rationale for inaction. Quite the contrary. Since the empirical evidence and basic physics are sufficient to demonstrate the reality of climate change, greater uncertainty only increases the urgency to do address it quickly.

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mark asks:

    > how can two parents producing one child each produce
    > an increasing population?

    Parents at what age, Mark? This should be obvious. Think about it.

  29. 129
    Mark says:

    Hank, they only have one child. Does it matter their age?

    It doesn’t matter if the generation gap is small because in poorer countries the generation gap is about as small as biology allows.

    Think yourself

  30. 130
    Mark says:

    Re: 123, extended lifespan only increases in proportion to the extension. Are the chinese going to become immoral?

    Additionally, most of the increases in average age are in reduced infant mortality. Not too effective when you drop just one sprog.

  31. 131
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2009/01/suggestion-20-seek-ways-to-end-culture.html

    “… Let me lay it on the line. We have one priority, above all others, because solving it will unleash our native aptitude at fixing every other problem. …

    That priority is to put a stop to the treason that is called “culture war” and get us back to talking to one another again, as grownups.
    … Insisting that both we and our neighbors cut out the sick habit of outrageous indignation, an addiction that makes fools of us and strawmen of our opponents.”

  32. 132
    Hank Roberts says:

    > two parents producing one child each

    Ah, Mark means per each _couple_, not per each parent, which is the usual ideal, “replacement” numbers.

    I don’t recall how long the “one-child policy” supposedly would take to reduce China’s population; so much else is going on that I doubt anyone can foresee the outcome over the longer period.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(06)27222-7
    Determinants of High Sex Ratio among Newborns: A Cohort Study from Rural Anhui Province, China

    “… In the original cohort, the sex ratio at birth was 152 males to 100 females and in the supplemented cohort 159 males to 100 females, being similar to the sex ratios in the census data of the same townships. The risk of death for girls was almost three times that for boys during the first 24 hours of life….”

    Extrapolation boggles.

  33. 133
    simon abingdon says:

    #95 #122 John, that populations of flora and fauna migrate is an evolutionary commonplace. That some such migrations should be observed as progressing polewards as we emerge from the LIA is hardly remarkable. The importance of understanding the properties of clouds is that it would add a very substantial layer to our knowledge of the putative link between CO2 and global warming.

  34. 134
    simon abingdon says:

    #111 Barton, no doubt your model is an admirable piece of work. I’m surprised though that it does not include Cb clouds which often extend throughout the troposphere from sea level to the tropopause, nor the effect of cyclones or other weather patterns for example. What fresh insights do you expect your model to confer? Predictions of the worldwide incidence of thunderstorms and the electrical energies they generate, perhaps?

  35. 135
    Mark says:

    Hank 132, however, you need as many people not dying this year that would have otherwise as being born that year to maintain static populations. An aging static population.

    Take a very simple model.

    People are born, live 70 years and die. Flat population curve. They have one child per couple (note: what’s the difference between two parents and a couple? Are there not two parents in a couple? Are you assuming rampant polygamism which is not sustainable since you only have so many women, you know and girl children tend to get discarded so as to have a boy to carry on the name) and this child happens between 15 and 25.

    1/2 x 1/7 of the population is added each 10 years. But 1/7 the population dies over that time. So half of the people who were to die because they passed 70 must continue to live. So now people die at 75. JUST TO MAINTAIN.

    10 years later, another 1/14th are born but 10/75th are dying. So they must now die after their 80th just to maintain.

    See where this is going? Immortal Chinese?

    And this is just to maintain.

    What about infertile couples?

    Etc.

    Any growth in population from longer life is linear AT BEST and only lasts until the population is at a level that biology lets happen. Less than a generation and you’re all out. Even the worst countries for young deaths will go from 55 years average age on death to 80 years, same as the first world.

    Rounding error.

  36. 136
    Mark says:

    Oh, and on the “younger parents”, since it takes four grandparents to produce one grandchild, you would need to halve the age of parenthood for two generations to have that as a significant effect and after that it stops.

    GP had kids at 50 (menopausal maximum near enough).
    Parents had kids at 25.
    GC can’t have kids at 12.5.

    And, as I said, poorer countries tend to have younger parents anyway. Heck, poorer families in the rich countries have younger parents too.

  37. 137
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mark, Keep in mind that population increases exponentially, but that there is a delay in the time dependence for the offspring to come to reproductive maturity. Moreover, there has been a tendency toward later parenthood in China. Moreover, lifespan in China and India have increased significantly. We are just starting to see China’s growth rate decline. It is projected that India will overtake China as the most populous nation by 2025.

  38. 138
    simon abingdon says:

    Ray #116 “clouds … the net feedback is small and slightly positive.”
    Not sure I understand “slightly”: could mean “occasionally positive, mostly negative”. Please clarify if you would.
    Ray #127 “If there is significant negative feedback from clouds, that would imply the current temperature range to be relatively stable. Unfortunately, the paleoclimate is replete with examples where temperatures went MUCH higher” What does “relatively stable” mean? Current temperatures don’t seem to be unstable, just gently warming at most. (And I can’t see how the paleoclimate evidence you refer to has any relevance to a theory which says AGW is happening now).

    Ray, I defer to your scientific knowledge, but I should like to remind you that science is about making predictions which are verifiable (or falsifiable) through real-life observation. In my opinion, the discipline of climatology has so far signally failed in this crucial respect.

    [Response: Really? So accurate predictions of the impact of Pinatubo made before they happened using climate models doesn't count (Hansen et al, 1992) ? Or the projections made in Hansen et al 1988? or predictions that the stratosphere would cool from the 1960s? or that relative humidity should be roughly constant subsequently validated by multiple observations? etc... Perhaps you might care to address why these aren't real predictions? - gavin]

  39. 139
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon, Gee for a phenomenon that wasn’t even global and only lasted a couple hundred years even in the Northern Hemisphere, you denialists sure get a lot of mileage out of the Little Ice Age. Given that the main causes of the LIA seem to have been slight decreases in solar activity and significant increases in volcanic activity, why do you suppose the recovery was so long. Do you realize what this portends for “warming in the pipeline” due to CO2 and therefore for climate sensitivity? Have you really thought this through?

  40. 140
    Alan Neale says:

    Re 121 and 126, Lots of people find population an issue in regard to AGW and resources of the fossil fuel kind. However your posts seems to be stating that global population is already too high and that it has relatively little to do with GHG emissions ?

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption

    The USA with a population of 300 million consumes around 20.5 million barrels per day and China around 7 million and hence population seems irrelevent, it must be something else that causes its use. The history of oil, prosperity, cultural norms and its price. It is the same for coal and gas for electricity and heating too I would state.

    Therefore in regard to AGW 2 ppmv per annum of CO2 emissions needs tackling and if the political and economic will exists then it can be achieved whilst maintaining our cultural norms of each country and even meeting future needs can be achieved.

    I doubt this personally at the present time due to the present lack of global political and economic will. Historically speaking the western countries have a bigger responsibility to cutting emissions and the rising countries less so but there present needs are greater energy growth wise. The west needs drastic cuts, 5% per annum starting asap and large scale renewable energy projects and alternative transport and heating methods are not as cost effective without CO2 taxation as fossil fuels are.

    Whatever alternatives arise around the world the strategy does as yet not exist and mistakes are already being made, namely biosfuels and the lack of coherent strategy for 4th generation nuclear power, CCS for coal, and the lack of efficiency projects.

    Its all a pipe dream at the moment even though the solutions might exist if the R&D goes ahead and find them.

    If either you two can tell me of the solutions you reckon will cut CO2 globally by 80% by 2050 then let me know.

  41. 141
    simon abingdon says:

    #138 Gavin “Perhaps you might care to address why these aren’t real predictions?”
    “predictions of the impact of Pinatubo made before they happened using climate models doesn’t count (Hansen et al, 1992)”
    Pinatubo erupted in June 1991.
    “the projections made in Hansen et al 1988?”
    Dr Hansen defined three scenarios and retrospectively chose the one
    closest to what actually happened.
    “relative humidity should be roughly constant subsequently validated by multiple observations”
    The link given is to a single paper authored by three collaborators from the same university.

    [Response: You are beyond reach. Please think a little before posting. - gavin]

  42. 142
    simon abingdon says:

    #139 Ray You appear to be referring to my #133 posted in response to John Mashey. In which case delete “as we emerge from the LIA”.

  43. 143
    Former Skeptic says:

    @141:

    “The link given is to a single paper authored by three collaborators from the same university”

    …Wow. That’s a really good counter-argument right out of the WUWT playbook. And I thought you had something important to say about the results of the study re: falsification about predictions…

  44. 144
    simon abingdon says:

    #141 I unreservedly apologise for and withdraw the statement about Dr Hansen made in this post.

  45. 145
    Hank Roberts says:

    Simon, the problem is you haven’t read the basic information, so you keep asking more complicated questions. You can’t learn from the answers you get because you don’t understand basic information.

    – Papers are written before their publication date; read the cites.
    – People lie about Hansen’s work; you’ve fallen for one of the old, old lies, still circulating; you can look that up.
    – Observations means sources of data: not the authors who wrote a paper but the references they cite.

    It’s a problem kind of like this illustrates:
    http://abstrusegoose.com/strips/computer_programming_101.JPG

  46. 146
    simon abingdon says:

    I tried. I failed. Thank you Gavin, Ray, Hank, Barton and all you well-informed people for indulging my presumption. I wish you well.

  47. 147
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Further Re 113

    “Are you arguing that oil is not a precious commodity and that business people will stop flying and holiday makers, that shipping will not stop too and western society will somehow be ok when it cannot afford to drive and our agricultural machinery.”

    Straw man. You are the one injecting the ‘precious commodity’ claptrap into the conversation; it is not a term I used or inferred. More important, the characterization is immaterial. What I am arguing is that 1) oil, natural gas, etc. are FINITE commodities and 2) their byproducts (pollution, GHGs) have reached a point where changing the way we produce energy is either inevitable, or we’re going to see a real mess on our hands. (Some would argue we already have a real mess on our hands, even if we miraculously stopped using oil and its byproducts overnight, and I can’t say I can disagree with them.)

    I’m not suggesting flying stops, only that the means by which we fly does. (Think Dirigibles, for example – the technology is much improved over 80 years ago.) All that is required is a little imagination and quite a bit of adaptation – and we are nothing if not an adaptive species. Put another way, one of the key components to adapting to the future is the understanding that the pace of life must change. The real problem with the reluctance to eliminate jet air travel (aside from short-term economic considerations) is related to time, not the ability to transport people and things. I occasionally travel for business purposes, and in every case such travel could have been either eliminated in favor of teleconferencing (which my company is doing with increasing frequency), or I could have taken longer to get there and still get the job done. We live in a wireless world; we can work and travel at the same time thanks to mobile devices.

    As for holiday travel, I refer you again to the question I have asked twice and you have studiously failed to answer: 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?

    What amazes me is how much people seem to think things should remain static when the very example of what they’ve witnessed in their lives show things are constantly changing. Fact is we may see a new social shift back to the way things were before cheap travel, when nuclear families tended to live in geographically close proximity. Maybe not. But things are going to change, like it or not, whether we do nothing, or get on with the hard work of adapting to the future.

    Finally, your fixation on “western” society ignores the fact that in terms of practicality, the West’s claim on the World’s resources is specious, at best, particularly given the emergence of the Pacific Rim industrial countries, China in particular, India and even Brazil as developing industrial countries. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, and they can afford to pay for it. So what do we do? Go to war over resources – an option that guarantees no winners, or recognize we have to change the way we do things.

    If the former, game over. So will we be rational and work to save ourselves?

  48. 148

    e 145–

    LOL!

    Nobody said epistemology is easy. . . but starting at the beginning is helpful. (As Julie Andrews has been known to point out.)

  49. 149
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 140 –

    Alan: Re 121 and 126, Lots of people find population an issue in regard to AGW and resources of the fossil fuel kind.

    This is imprecise. Overpopulation is a total resource problem – not just energy, but water, food, pollution, biodiversity etc. AGW is a byproduct of growing populations and concurrent use of fossil fuels – a pollutant.

    Alan: “However your posts seems to be stating that global population is already too high and that it has relatively little to do with GHG emissions?”

    Really? Wherever do you get that from?

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption

    Alan: “The USA with a population of 300 million consumes around 20.5 million barrels per day and China around 7 million and hence population seems irrelevent, it must be something else that causes its use. The history of oil, prosperity, cultural norms and its price. It is the same for coal and gas for electricity and heating too I would state.”

    Your argument is a non-sequitur – and does nothing to support your contention in Post 55, which is what we’ve been discussing – at least from my end. In truth, it’s growing increasingly difficult to ascertain where you think you’re going with this – your responses are taking on the quality of moving targets – lots of pronouncements, incomplete data, very little substance.

    For example, you left out the part where China becomes the largest emitter of GHGs by 2009.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/business/worldbusiness/07pollute.html?ex=1320555600&en=bc1f15d749d2b1d0&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    And population is FAR from irrelevant, (just not relevant to your original response to me) given as well over 1/3rd of the world’s population is currently working overtime to attain a standard of living comparable to the West’s. China’s energy growth is moving along at a maddening pace – projections of economic growth for that country through 2030 are 6.5% – the highest in the world, as detailed in EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2008, Chpt. 1:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/world.html

    Other reports suggest 7% to 8%. The full report is here:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html

    Oh, and the history of commerce predates the discovery of oil by several millennia – you might want to look that up.

    Alan: “I doubt this personally at the present time due to the present lack of global political and economic will.”

    You are wandering afield

    Again, aside from regurgitating something I said earlier, if not in so many words, why is this relevant, outside of a discussion of the inability of political entities acting in the self-interest of their populations (and/or their own hold on power)? This does nothing to support your original contention, which is what we’re supposedly discussing re post 55. “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 fact, you’re not directly responding to anything that is said to you. Why is that?

    Alan: “Historically speaking the western countries have a bigger responsibility to cutting emissions and the rising countries less so but there present needs are greater energy growth wise.”

    The ‘rising’ countries’ ‘needs’ are driven by the global economy: the West’s desire for cheap goods and those countries providing the cheap goods desire – in large part – to create a lifestyle comparable to what the West has enjoyed over the past half-century. One interesting byproduct of this is China’s recognition that it is too dependent upon the West – particularly the U.S. – to sustain its economic growth and has been looking in the past couple of years to develop markets outside of the West in Asia, Africa and South America to reduce that dependency. The current economic downturn is likely to heighten their resolve in this regard.

    Alan: “Whatever alternatives arise around the world the strategy does as yet not exist and mistakes are already being made, namely biosfuels and the lack of coherent strategy for 4th generation nuclear power, CCS for coal, and the lack of efficiency projects.
    Its all a pipe dream at the moment even though the solutions might exist if the R&D goes ahead and find them.”

    So what are you trying to say? Just give up and conduct business as usual?

    Alan: “If either you two can tell me of the solutions you reckon will cut CO2 globally by 80% by 2050 then let me know.”

    Question begging – and it remains the wrong question. Alan, if you’ve been paying attention, there is a wealth of solutions out there. Europe, Japan and China understand this – they’ve been developing alt energy solutions for years now and are in many ways far ahead of the curve of the U.S., whose outgoing administration has worked against the development of alt energy. Energy security is a national security issue, and the development of a viable and robust alt energy industry and infrastructure are realistic and necessary to the United States’ ability to maintain economic security. Put another way, we can either develop the industry now, or pay others for it down the road.

    Your question echoes the fallacy you engaged earlier and I responded to in #121 re not being ‘ready’. Imagine a world where President Kennedy’s advisors convinced him we didn’t have a solution in place when he proposed we would put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade? Ditto the Manhatten Project and just about every technological challenge we’ve faced, particularly challenges intertwined with crisis. If anything, the real problem we face is underscored by what you seem to be inferring – it’s too hard, or we don’t need to address things right now. One consistent behavior in humans is that while we tend to be good at responding to threats after they’ve become impossible to ignore, we have a poor track record when it comes to responding to threats before they manifest themselves. And the problem this presents in relation to AGW and GHGs is the likelihood is strong that once their influence on our climate becomes undeniably evident, it will be to late to respond.

    The point is, in the real world, we don’t have a choice. We don’t have the luxury of giving up before we started because it’s just too hard, there are too many obstacles or other such nonsense. But it seems clear from your postings that your answer to my question, asked more than once and never directly answered, is you don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to sacrifice for the future.

  50. 150
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #149, it is not me who does not want to be inconvenienced but everyone else pretty much. Is the world consuming less, does the IEA or EIA tell us that we need less energy in th future, err no, we need 50% more I believe. From 14 TW now to around 20 TW come 2030. Oil needs to grow to 100-120 mbpd, gas and coal to increase to.

    it is as James Hansen states, we have 0.8-1.0C now another 0.4C in the thermal lag of oceans and another 0.5C in the presnt emitting infrastructure. Are China and Inida not building coal fired power, are not 70 million vehicles of petrol and diesel not built every year and is gas usage via LNG means falling? No, it is not as yet happenning and the plans that you are looking into are obviously a little cuckoo by all accounts.

    Population is too high but not an issue with regard to energy as everyone besides the USA (the one we need to) has the solutions but is not implementing them as yet because ?

    More input on your part required. Population is required, to me you just sound like a optimistic. I agree that I have wandered a little but the GHG emissions are rising, not falling globally and hence our struggle to agree a big deal is getting more ominous but as yet we are not nearer.

    once again what is the solution please ? what is affordable ? what is technological feasible. From what i have read over the past two years little is implemented but much is talked about.


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