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CNN is spun right round, baby, right round

Filed under: — gavin @ 14 January 2009

With the axing of the CNN Science News team, most science stories at CNN are now being given to general assignment reporters who don’t necessarily have the background to know when they are being taken for a ride. On the Lou Dobbs show (an evening news program on cable for those of you not in the US), the last few weeks have brought a series of embarrassing non-stories on ‘global cooling’ based it seems on a few cold snaps this winter, the fact that we are at a solar minimum and a regurgitation of 1970s vintage interpretations of Milankovitch theory (via Pravda of all places!). Combine that with a few hysterical (in both senses) non-scientists as talking heads and you end up with a repeat of the nonsensical ‘Cooling world’ media stories that were misleading in the 1970s and are just as misleading now.

Exhibit A. Last night’s (13 Jan 2009) transcript (annotations in italics).

Note that this is a rush transcript and the typos aren’t attributable to the participants.

DOBBS: Welcome back. Global warming is a complex, controversial issue and on this broadcast we have been critical of both sides in this debate. We’ve challenged the orthodoxy surrounding global warming theories and questioned more evidence on the side of the Ice Age and prospect in the minds of some. In point of fact, research, some of it, shows that we could be heading toward cooler temperatures, and it’s a story you will only see here on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Ines Ferre has our report.


INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Will the day after tomorrow bring a deep freeze like that shown in the movie? Research more than 50 years ago by astrophysicist Milanchovich (ph) shows that ice ages run in predictable cycles and the earth could go into one. How soon? In science terms it could be thousands of years. But what happens in the next decade is still up in the air. Part of the science community believes that global warming is a man-maid threat. But Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute predicts the next 20 to 30 years will actually bring cooling temperatures.

Dennis Avery is part of the ‘science community’? Who knew? And, while amusing, the threat of ‘man-maids’ causing global warming is just a typo. Nice thought though. Oh, and if you want to know what the actual role of Milankovitch in forcing climate is, look at the IPCC FAQ Q6.1. Its role in current climate change? Zero.

DENNIS AVERY, HUDSON INSTITUTE: The earth’s temperatures have dropped an average of .6 Celsius in the last two years. The Pacific Ocean is telling us, as it has told us 10 times in the past 400 years, you’re going to get cooler.

For those unfamiliar with Dennis Avery, he is a rather recent convert to the bandwagon idea of global cooling, having very recently been an advocate of “unstoppable” global warming. As for his great cherry pick (0.6º C in two years – we’re doomed!), this appears to simply be made up. Even putting aside the nonsense of concluding anything from a two year trend, if you take monthly values and start at the peak value at the height of the last El Niño event of January 2007 and do no actual trend analysis, I can find no data set that gives a drop of 0.6ºC. Even UAH MSU-LT gives only 0.4ºC. The issue being not that it hasn’t been cooler this year than last, but why make up numbers? This is purely rhetorical of course, they make up numbers because they don’t care about whether what they say is true or not.

FERRE: Avery points to a lack of sunspots as a predictor for lower temperatures, saying the affects of greenhouse gas warming have a small impact on climate change. Believers in global warming, like NASA researcher, Dr. Gavin Schmidt disagree.

I was interviewed on tape in the afternoon, without seeing any of the other interviews. Oh, and what does a ‘believer in global warming’ even mean?

DR. GAVIN SCHMIDT, NASA: The long term trend is clearly toward warming, and those trends are completely dwarf any changes due to the solar cycle.

FERRE: In a speech last week, President-elect Obama called for the creation of a green energy economy. Still, others warn that no matter what you think about climate change, new policies would essentially have no effect.

FRED SINGER, SCIENCE & ENV. POLICY PROJECT: There’s very little we can do about it. Any effort to restrict the use of carbon dioxide will hurt us economically and have zero effect on the Chicago mate.

Surely another typo, but maybe the Chicago mate is something to do with the man-maids? See here for more background on Singer.

FERRE: As Singer says, a lot of pain, for no gain.

Huh? Try looking at the actual numbers from a recent McKinsey report. How is saving money through efficiency a ‘pain’?


FERRE: And three independent research groups concluded that the average global temperature in 2008 was the ninth or tenth warmest since 1850, but also since the coldest since the turn of the 21st century.

DOBBS: It’s fascinating and nothing — nothing — stirs up the left, the right, and extremes in this debate, the orthodoxy that exists on both sides of the debate than to even say global warming. It’s amazing.

This is an appeal to the ‘middle muddle’ and an attempt to seem like a reasonable arbitrator between two opposing sides. But as many people have previously noted, there is no possible compromise between sense and nonsense. 2+2 will always equal 4, no matter how much the Hudson Institute says otherwise.

FERRE: When I spoke to experts and scientists today from one side and the other, you could feel the kind of anger about —

That was probably me. Though it’s not anger, it’s simple frustration that reporters are being taken in and treating seriously the nonsense that comes out of these think-tanks.

DOBBS: Cannot we just all get along? Ines, thank you very much.

Joining me now three leading experts in Manchester, New Hampshire, we’re joined by Joseph D’Aleo of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project. Good to have with you us.


DOBBS: He’s also the cofounder of The Weather Channel. In Washington, D.C., as you see there, Jay Lehr, he’s the science director of the Heartland Institute. And in Boston, Alex Gross, he’s the cofounder of Good to have you with us.

Well that’s balanced!

Let’s put a few numbers out here, the empirical discussion and see what we can make of it. First is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has very good records on temperatures, average temperatures in the United States, dating back to 1880. And here’s what these numbers look like. You’ve all seen those. But help us all — the audience and most of all me to get through this, they show the warmest years on record, 1998, 2006, and 1934. 2008 was cooler, in fact the coolest since 1997. It’s intriguing to see that graph there. The graph we’re looking at showing some question that the warming trend may be just a snapshot in time. The global temperatures by NOAA are seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. The ten warmest years have all occurred since 1995.

So let me start, if I may, Joseph, your reaction to those numbers. Do you quibble with what they represent?

D’ALEO: Yes, I do. In fact, if you look at the satellite data, which is the most reliable data, the best coverage of the globe, 2008 was the 14th coldest in 30 years. That doesn’t jive with the tenth warmest in 159 years in the Hadley data set or 113 or 114 years in the NOAA data set. Those global data sets are contaminated by the fact that two-thirds of the globe’s stations dropped out in 1990. Most of them rural and they performed no urban adjustment. And, Lou, you know, and the people in your studio know that if they live in the suburbs of New York City, it’s a lot colder in rural areas than in the city. Now we have more urban effect in those numbers reflecting — that show up in that enhanced or exaggerated warming in the global data set.

D’Aleo is misdirecting through his teeth here. He knows that the satellite analyses have more variability over ENSO cycles than the surface records, he also knows that urban heat island effects are corrected for in the surface records, and he also knows that this doesn’t effect ocean temperatures, and that the station dropping out doesn’t affect the trends at all (you can do the same analysis with only stations that remained and it makes no difference). Pure disinformation.

DOBBS: Your thoughts on these numbers. Because they are intriguing. They are a brief snapshot admittedly, in comparison to total extended time. I guess we could go back 4.6 billion years. Let’s keep it in the range of something like 500,000 years. What’s your reaction to those numbers and your interpretation?



DOBBS: Go ahead, Jay.

LEHR: Lou, I’m in the camp with Joe and Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, and I think more importantly, it is to look at the sun’s output, and in recent years, we’ve seen very, very low sunspot activity, and we are definitely, in my mind, not only in a cooling period, we’re going to be staying in it for a couple decades, and I see it as a major advantage, although I think we will be able to adapt to it. I’m hopeful that this change in the sun’s output will put some common sense into the legislature, not to pass any dramatic cap in trade or carbon tax legislation that will set us in a far deeper economic hole. I believe Mr. Obama and his economic team are well placed to dig us out of this recession in the next 18 months to 2 years, but I think if we pass any dramatic legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, the recession will last quite a few more years and we’ll come out of it with a lower standard of living on very tenuous scientific grounds.

DOBBS: Alex, the carbon footprint, generation of greenhouse gases, specifically co2, the concern focusing primarily on the carbon footprint, and of course generated by fossil fuels primarily, what is your thinking as you look at that survey of 130 — almost 130 years and the impact on the environment?

ALEX WISSNER-GROSS, CO2STATS.COM: Well, Lou, I think regardless of whatever the long-term trend in the climate data is, there a long- term technological trend which is that as time goes on our technology tends toward smaller and smaller physical footprint. That means in part that in the long term we like technology to have a smaller environmental footprint, burning fewer greenhouse gases and becoming as small and environmentally neutral and noninvasive as possible. So I think regardless of the climate trend, I think we’ll see less and less environmentally impactful technologies.

Wissner-Gross is on because of the media attention given to misleading reports about the carbon emissions related to Google searches. Shame he doesn’t get to talk about any of that.

DOBBS: To be straight forward about this, that’s where I come down. I don’t know it matters to me whether there is global warming or we’re moving toward an ice age it seems really that we should be reasonable stewards of the planet and the debate over whether it’s global warming or whether it’s moving toward perhaps another ice age or business as usual is almost moot here in my mind. I know that will infuriate the advocates of global warming as well as the folks that believe we are headed toward another ice age. What’s your thought?

Curious train of logic there…

D’ALEO: I agree with you, Lou. We need conservation. An all of the above solution for energy, regardless of whether we’re right and it cools over the next few decades or continues to warm, a far less dangerous scenario. And that means nuclear. It means coal, oil, natural gas. Geothermal, all of the above.

DOBBS: Jay, you made the comment about the impact of solar sunspot activity. Sunspot activity the 11-year cycle that we’re all familiar with. There are much larger cycles, 12,000 to 13,000 years as well. We also heard a report disregard, if you will, for the strength and significance of solar activity on the earth’s environment. How do you respond to that?

Is he talking about me? Please see some of my publications on the subject from 2006, 2004 and 2001. My point above was that relative to current greenhouse gas increases, solar is small – not that it is unimportant or uninteresting. This of course is part of the false dilemma ‘single cause’ argument that the pseudo-skeptics like to use – that change must be caused by either solar or greenhouse gases and that any evidence for one is evidence against the other. This is logically incoherent.

FEHR: It just seems silly to not recognize that the earth’s climate is driven by the sun.

Ah yes.

Your Chad Myers pointed out it’s really arrogant to think that man controls the climate.

This is a misquoted reference to a previous segment a few weeks ago where Myers was discussing the impact of climate on individual weather patterns. But man’s activities do affect the climate and are increasingly controlling its trends.

90 percent of the climate is water vapor which we have no impact over and if we were to try to reduce greenhouse gases with China and India controlling way more than we do and they have boldly said they are not going to cripple their economy by following suit, our impact would have no — no change in temperature at all in Europe they started carbon — capping trade in 2005. They’ve had no reduction in groan house gases, but a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in the standard of living. We don’t want to go that route.

What? Accounting for the garbled nature of this response, he was probably trying to say that 90% of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour. This is both wrong and, even were it true, irrelevant.

DOBBS: Alex, you get the last word here. Are you as dismissive of the carbon footprint as measured by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

GROSS: No, not really. But I think in the long term, efficiency is where the gains come from. I think efficiency should come first, carbon footprint second.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Alex, Jay, and Joe. Folks, appreciate you being with us.

FEHR: Thank you.

In summary, this is not the old ‘balance as bias‘ or ‘false balance‘ story. On the contrary, there was no balance at all! Almost the entire broadcast was given over to policy advocates whose use of erroneous-but-scientific-sounding sound bites is just a cover for their unchangable opinions that nothing should ever be done about anything. This may make for good TV (I wouldn’t know), but it certainly isn’t journalism.

There are pressures on journalists that conspire against fully researching a story – deadlines, the tyranny of the news peg etc. – but that means they have to be all the more careful in these kinds of cases. Given that Lou Dobbs has been better on this story in the past, seeing him and his team being spun like this is a real disappointment. They could really do much better.

Update: Marc Roberts sends in this appropriate cartoon:

596 Responses to “CNN is spun right round, baby, right round”

  1. 101
    jcbmack says:

    where is your evidence of anything you are saying? Where is the incontrovertible physics, validated data, clear math that disproves or calls into the question the trends? I would like to see this physics that greatly disputes all the physics not only displayed here at RC, NASA and AOS, but in countless labs and universities around the world.

    While we are on this subject, what about all the chemistry that makes these greenhouse gases exhibit their properties in the first place? Is all that flawed data, for over 150 years of observations and experiments?

  2. 102

    52. SecularAnimist:
    Do not confuse coal with nuclear. Read “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007. This book is easy enough for everybody to read. I suggest you read it. Coal is the problem. Nuclear is the answer. Nuclear is now the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most full time source of electricity. Of the full time sources, it also has the largest potential supply. Nuclear fuel is recyclable. Nuclear power is THE answer to global warming because it produces LESS CO2 per kilowatt hour than ANY other source of energy.

    PS: Javascript does not work on this computer because it is a 15 to 20 year old Macintosh running Mac OS 9.1.

  3. 103
    jcbmack says:

    J bob who is saying that humans are 100% responsible for all the changing weather patterns over the last few decades? No serious scientist is saying this, nor are the majority of bloggers here, if any at all. Weather and climate are first of all, not the same thing. Also, no one (who is qualified) disputes that there is natural variability or areas of prediction exist that need improvement. What is clear is the net global warming trend driven by the physical properties of greenhouse gases emitted by humans.

  4. 104
    Chris Colose says:

    I was going to do a post on D’Aleo’s response to Gavin’s writeup, but after reading through it I decided it was hardly worth it.

    The full extent of the work is to show that a UHI effect exists and that it is a significant cause of the “observed” warming. There is no reputable work that can attribute half of the warming since 1990 or any other period to the UHI effect, as he thinks. This effect is absent in the oceans, rural areas, and polar areas. It ignores sea level rise, substantial glacier loss, and various “fingerprints” of greenhouse warming.

    D’Aleo insists the PDO, AMO, ENSO etc all correlate with global warming better than CO2…this may often be true if those diagnostics are essentially a correlation of themself. None of these things can cause a decadal-scale, global-scale warming trend that has been observed…either by definition or by its physical properties.

  5. 105
    Dean says:

    I remember seeing on Dobbs show a few years ago – he had on two IPCC-related scientists (maybe somebody from this site?). He started with this: ‘On my show, global warming is happening and we are causing it. That’s not for debate. I want to hear what we should do about it’.

    These scientists were taken by surprise. They were used to countering global cooling. No skeptics or deniers were included. So as Gavin pointed out, this is not normal for Dobbs. Let’s hope it’s temporary.

    [Response: Yes–this was myself, Gavin, and Alan Robock of Rutgers University. Lou came into the ‘green room’ just before we were set to go on and said something to the effect of ‘Gentlemen: I don’t even want to discuss the science. that’s settled. I want to talk about solutions’. Of course, the science is what we had come to discuss. Fortunately, Alan was well prepared to discuss ‘solutions’, and he primarily took the stage. Its disappointing that Lou has regressed to the ‘he said/she said’ approach of discussing the science. thought we’d moved past that a couple years ago. -mike ]

  6. 106
    lulo says:

    Eric: Interesting (re: Antarctic data problems). I will read your paper when I have time.

  7. 107
    EL says:

    #62 – Jim – Thank you for a moderate response. While I agree that models are essential, some of the claims that people are making don’t have strong evidence to support them. Now there is some aspects of global warming or man made induced climate change that I will defend. Ecosystems are one good example and another could be the destruction of soil in various parts of the world. Both of these can effect climate to one degree or another. There is solid evidence supporting this. You map them both together and you start drawing a small picture. There is a few other things that can be added to this list and picture. However, some are trying to draw this picture faster then what the evidence allows. People are not looking at the problem coolly and dispassionately. One side sees cash signs and red ink, the other side sees the end of mankind. This is clouding the judgment on both sides of this issue. There is so much disinformation coming out of both sides it’s hard to find the actual ground.

    Models are something like ciphers in cryptography. I don’t know how familiar you are with the field, but back when 128 bit keys were first being deployed, mathematicians were jumping all over themselves explaining how it would take all the computers in the world longer then the universe has been in existence to break a key. They were correct only if there is no better way to factor numbers. Of course we are now on 2048 and 4096 bit keys because so many attacks against the ciphers have been successful. The point is, models are subject to change unless proven to be true. Just a educational note, there is only one cipher in existence (“that I’m aware of”) that has a mathematical proof behind it showing it to be secure and that is the one time pad cipher. There is also no mathematical proof showing if public key cryptography is possible. IE: The existence of one way functions. It’s kind of unsettling if you think about it, if their not possible then it could lead to an end to certain aspects of communication.

    Oh well……

  8. 108
    John Mashey says:

    re: #76 lulo

    Thanks for the pointer to Daily Princetonian’s article, “Professor denies global warming theory”, as I needed a good laugh:

    “Physics professor William Happer GS ’64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.

    “This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.””

    And I thought: where have I seen that name before? Then, I read on:
    “Happer is chair of the board of directors at the George C. Marshall Institute”

    Ahhh… no more need be said.

  9. 109
    lulo says:

    jcbmack: I agree with the theory that greenhouse gases cause warming by absorbing terrestrial radiation – life as we know it on Earth could not exist without it. I’m more concerned with the politicization of the issue. However, I also think there is very basic evidence staring us in the face that indicates that it may be a relatively small part of the story. Not only do the data suggest that the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2, but there are many additional anthropogenic impacts on climate, not the least of which is landscape change. I also question surface temperature data quality, and feel that much will be revealed by the current minor cooling trend, as we pore over the data during the next decade or so.
    There is a focus on the negative when it comes to the impact on CO2, and any questioning is treated with contempt, ridicule and outrage. I feel that many important advances are being made in climate modelling thanks to funding that has been secured by all the attention, but the greenhouse gas aspect is something that we have known about it since the late 1800’s. Attention could be given elsewhere (for one, there are bigger environmental problems in the world – heck, we’ve caused the 6th great mass extinction with our land-use and pollution).
    I guess this whole greenhouse gas problem just doesn’t excite me as much as the rest of you here and I get irritated by all the hype when I perceive there to be so many uncertainties and so much focus on the negative. I mean, think about it. CO2 concentrations, which improve plant growth in most species, as well as increasing water and nitrogen-use efficiency under a given climate, have increased from 280 to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries, and temperature has barely budged. I think the last month was 0.17 C above the 1979-2000 average and microscopically below average in the southern hemisphere. With the same climate, I would pick the higher CO2 concentration. Having done some modelling myself, I also have the same skepticism about the modelling process that most of you have also likely grown to appreciate. We all know that one can obtain a perfect model output by tweaking all the wrong parameters and variables (but eventually get rude surprises – how many models predicted our current cooling trend – okay, I know… it’s mainly La Nina… I digress).
    All the talk about ‘certainty,’ in addition to the policy statements and attention to the most vocal doomsday scientists is what really irks me. Maybe I’m just jealous of my colleagues getting soundbytes every day for all the climate change crap I understand as they do (but don’t fully accept), yet continuously am forced to regurgitate to my students. As a left-leaning, tree-hugging, vegetarian atheist who walks to work to limit my pollution footprint (not too concerned about the carbon, as you can see), and as someone who devoted my entire academic career to the environmental sciences because of my love of nature, maybe I’m frustrated by my complete inability to accept that we have a good grasp on climate modelling and the impact of greenhouse gases. It doesn’t look good on me (if I ever express a lack of enthusiasm for the cause, I am shunned by my peers), but I guess I myself am the dreaded ‘AGW-climate skeptic.’ Maybe one day I’ll stop being anonymous about it.

  10. 110
    Mark says:

    Mike #70. Free exchange of ideas but they aren’t exchanging ideas. They’re leaving out the FACT they are lying.

    As I said, Fox News won by saying they didn’t have to tell the truth.

    So why bother with Fox NEWS at all? If it doesn’t have to be truth, how can it be news?

    If Freedom Of Speech allows you to lie, why are there Libel laws in the US? They are extensively used there. How about profanity laws (Eric Idle being fined for swearing, for example)? Heck, how about yelling “Fire!” in a theatre? That’s pure speech and you are lying, but apparently FOS beats lying out cold.

  11. 111
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #100, You have a remarkably optimisitic outlook and that is a good thing, however the UK is scheduling 600 additional flights per day come 2020 when the third runway is added to Heathrow Airport, this is the real issue, the one of prosperity and progress and economic conditions right for it. Couple that with all of the additional electronic equipment that resides in homes over the past 20 years including mobile phones, ipods, docking stations, DAB radios, flat TV’s, laptops, PDA’s and PC’s and it all comes down to a lot of additional electricity being used.

    We are going to need a big change of lifestyle but I am doubtful that will happen as you are doign because you are a rare person, one who cares about doing somerthing about it. Since James Hansen testified in 1988 to congress nothing has been done as yet.

    Lets hope that the world can get it together or create the conditions so that individuals can as you have. Still its a big ask as most people ar not even aware of the problem or do not believe there is one.

  12. 112
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Boris asks: “Don’t the warming oceans shoot down all of these UHI arguments?”

    Ah, but Boris, you’re neglecting the lost city of Atlantis and all the other oceanic urban development the tin-hat crowd believes in. You must be part of that scientific conspiracy we’ve all heard about.

  13. 113

    Iulo gives a long rant about how awful climate scientists are, repeating almost every denier cliche out there. I’ll just excerpt a tiny bit:

    I am increasingly convinced that solar activity is more important than vocal, mainstream ecoscientists have led themselves to believe.

    I regressed temperature anomalies on ln CO2 and TSI for the period 1880-2007 (128 years). TSI was statistically insignificant and ln CO2 accounted for 76% of the variance. Explain to me how that makes solar activity “more important.”

    Cooling has been occurring for over seven years.

    No, it has not. Take out the hyphens and post these URLs into your browser:

  14. 114

    All this stuff about Medieval warmth reminds me, I found a site dedicated to the proposition that there is a politically correct conspiracy to suppress the undeniable fact that it was warmer in medieval times. To prove how thoroughly this fact was suppressed they produce a whole lot of papers (some suppression job: all those papers got published somehow). Sure enough the results they quote all show warming sometimes up to 2°C. The trouble is the dates don’t line up. The warm periods are anything from 500 years ago to over 1,000 years ago, and most have a sharp peak. All that these things demonstrate collectively, with no deeper analysis, is that if you have a long-term temperature record of any one place, it could have an unusually hot or unusually cold spell at some point. Whether there’s any global phenomenon is not demonstrated at all by their data.

    J Bob: It’s true that some climate scientists get annoyed with repeated attacks on their reputation, and repetitions of obvious falsehoods. Who wouldn’t? It’s unfortunate when this happens but there’s a limit to human endurance when you are constantly under attack. I suggest you read the writings on some of the anti-climate science side for raw unprovoked ad hominem attacks. I’ve seen labels like warmaholics (is this even a word?), junk science, religion – and the assertion that their side were “rationalists” as opposed to “alarmists”. And this is in stuff that’s meant to be carefully crafted material aimed at informing the public, not off the cuff remarks on a blog, where there is a little more excuse for being loose with language. I challenge you to find this sort of language in a scientific paper or an article written for a mass circulation newspaper or magazine by a climate scientist. It’s dead easy to find this stuff in newspapers like The Australian and papers published by the likes of Bob Carter.

  15. 115

    Keith writes:

    Is Jim Hansen a climate scientist? I thought he was a physicist. Someone please clarify, thank you!

    Hansen is a climatologist with a physics degree. He started out analyzing the atmosphere of Venus.

  16. 116

    Edward Greisch writes:

    Nuclear is now the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most full time source of electricity.

    Cleaner than windmills? How did it manage that?

    Of the full time sources, it also has the largest potential supply.

    Does it have the largest supply practically available with foreseeable technology?

    Nuclear fuel is recyclable.

    Windmills and solar thermal plants don’t even need fuel.

    Nuclear power is THE answer to global warming because it produces LESS CO2 per kilowatt hour than ANY other source of energy.

    Prove it. Cite a source and give a quantitative comparison. Explain your methods.

  17. 117

    Iulo writes:

    Not only do the data suggest that the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2

    I regressed temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2007 (N = 128) on ln CO2 and TSI. CO2 accounted for 76% of the variance and TSI was insignificant. How does that square with “the solar cycles control the temperature pattern to a far greater degree than CO2?” Greater measured HOW?

    CO2 concentrations, which improve plant growth in most species, as well as increasing water and nitrogen-use efficiency under a given climate, have increased from 280 to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries, and temperature has barely budged. I think the last month was 0.17 C above the 1979-2000 average and microscopically below average in the southern hemisphere.

    You have claimed to be a scientist. Would any scientist in the real world claim that you could analyze a trend by drawing a line from the starting point of a graph of points to the end point? Didn’t you take ANY data analysis courses? What are you doing citing one month of data as if it were representative when you have over 1,500 months worth of data to work with? Do you understand what I mean above when I say I “regressed” one time series on two others?

    If you’re a scientist, kindly say what science you have a degree in, and where and when you got that degree. Because I don’t believe you.

  18. 118
    anna says:

    hmm, interesting theories: that climate change might be caused by the sun, volcanoes, the orbit of our precious planet etc and not the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as emitted as a consequence of human activity.

    i think the best way to test these compelling hypotheses, or any hypothesis, is to remove as many variables as possible.

    we can’t make the sun dimmer or cooler, we can’t change our planet’s orbit and we can’t stop volcanoes erupting, so we can’t control those variables. the only one we can really control is emission of greenhouse gases. we’ve already added them and seen a rise in temperature, so to disprove that our emission of greenhouse gases is to blame for the rise and to what extent, we need to remove them as a variable and test the result.

    a quick note to all of you out there who think that the culture of science is a bit tough: if it was easy bad ideas would hang around, no progress would be made. and anyway, this is nothing compared to the world of architecture! but in this debate the stakes are MUCH higher.

  19. 119
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    The public discussion of climate change certainly suffers of a dual meaning of the word “climate”.

    In the olden days, “climate” was mostly a statistical description of prevailing weather conditions relevant to a locality or a small region. To get information on it, “climate stations” were installed and climatological departments within meteorological institutions performed the statistical computations. The main customers were farmers who needed to decide upon critical business parameters (as ably described above i.e. by Aaron Lewis). In practice, “climatology” was a smaller (and less appreciated) branch than forecasting meteorology, with minimal budgets and the lowest cost metering.

    Of some importance is also that in the U.S. the “climate stations” are managed at the state level (not the federal level), resulting in a quite variable performance as has been documented. Technical standards vary, as do the network structures. In other countries I know of, climatological stations are managed centrally, as the lowest priority in the observation networks. This results in a more uniform performance. Everywhere synoptic stations (3 hour observation cycle) and aviation weather stations (30 minute cycle) were prioritized as their performance (accuracy) was crucial for the operational weather forecasting routines. They also received the bulk of investment and maintenance attention. These stations also contribute quite substantially to the climate files and in the third world countries remain the back-bone of climatology.

    The urban heat island (UHI) effect has been known for 40 years now. It has been studied using at least two techniques: comparisons against rural stations and comparisons between high and low wind situations. High winds result in low local heating effect. Corrections are applied based on these results.

    In the same olden times, global climate research (as understood today) was one somewhat obscure field of geophysics, like geodesy, tectonics, geomagnetism, etc. It was a rather academic endeavour, an effort to understand the atmosphere (+ biosphere and oceans) in terms of physical laws and processes. This has grown enormously in importance and visibility over the past 20 years.

    Today there is a permanent confusion between the two different aspects. Great many meteorologists (and the general public) still consider “climate” in the statistical sense only. The approaches have a relationship, of course. Validation of the physical models is ultimately to be found in the statistics. Impatient people al too often expect statistics for 2008 to validate (even to equal) projections for 2080. Unfortunately the final numbers will be too late for meaningful action.

    There is regrettably little attention (outside of a narrow measurement community) on the contributions of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), its century-old standardization process of measurements and current efforts to provide representative global data. A good starting point is:

  20. 120
    Anne van der Bom says:

    #102, Edward Greisch:

    If you look at the economics of nuclear energy then what strikes me is the large gap between estimated cost and true cost for building a nuclear plant.

    The page mentions a few studies that usually project a building cost of $1500 / kW. For example:

    A 2005 OECD comparative study showed that [….] Nuclear overnight construction costs ranged from US$ 1000/kW in Czech Republic to $2500/kW in Japan, and averaged $1500/kW.

    But on the same page I find the following:

    In March 2008 Progress Energy announced that its two new Westinghouse AP1000 units on a greenfield site in Florida would cost it about $14 billion, including land, plant components, cooling towers, financing costs, licence application, regulatory fees, initial fuel for two units, owner’s costs, insurance and taxes, escalation and contingencies.

    These units are rated at 1150 MW, so that results in $6000 / kW, four times as much. This gap between projections and reality is confirmed by E.ON

    Capital costs are the biggest factor, and when you redo the calculations based on true costs, nuclear suddenly isn’t all that cheap anymore.

    When such a big gap exists between the estimated and true building costs, then I suspect an equal gap is present for the cost of operation, uranium enrichment, waste processing, decomissioning.

    I haven’t read the Gwyneth Cravens book, but I have a general rule that when a book has ‘truth’ in the title, then that is probably for making up for the lack of it in its contents.

    I only trust the costs expressed in tangible fixed-price contracts.

  21. 121
    Rod B2 says:

    Some people on this blog are going off about the difference between climate and weather, as if others are a bunch of idiots. So what is the difference in scientific terms and is there scientific consensus on this?
    Of course, laymen, like me, are perfectly entitled to rely on a reputable English dictionary. My good book says climate is:
    “noun 1 the general weather conditions prevailing in an area over a long period.” (Note that “area” and “long” are not quantified and, therefore, subject to the perceptions of the user.)
    “2 a prevailing trend or public attitude.” (How appropriate!)

  22. 122
    John Finn says:

    Gavin et al

    Re: temp trends, weather etc

    The WUWT site has a recent post which discusses the effects, particularly wrt to the 30 year trend, of Pinatubo (1991) and El Chichon (1982). I was wondering if it’s possible to model the trend (or temp record) with the the volcanic effects removed. I know that NASA claims to have successfully modelled the Pinatubo cooling, so presumably this would be relatively straightforward.

    Any model would need to include the effects of the very intense El Nino in 1982/83 and the moderate El Ninos in 1991/92 and 1993.

  23. 123
    Eli Rabett says:

    Rod B2: ~30 years and yes, there are reasons for picking that length of time, principally that observation and modeling has shown that the random variability inherent to weather averages out over such a period. I suppose you get your nuclear physics from the NY Times.

  24. 124
    Bramster says:

    Gavin: How much credibility can you have on anything, repeat, anything when you don’t know the difference between its and it’s ?

    Oh, wait. . . you did have that disclaimer about this being a “rush transcript”.

    [Response: Nabbed by the grammar police again… – gavin]

  25. 125
    Jeff Masters says:

    I get a lot of feedback from our audience whenever a media story skeptical of climate change succeeds in confusing or pleasing a large number of people. So far, it seems that the CNN Lou Dobbs piece has not had a significant impact, as I have gotten no feedback on this. However, the Daily Tech story noting that “global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago” generated six or so responses. Perhaps the Internet is more successful as a medium for skeptical stories gaining traction than TV? Anyway, I wrote a blog post yesterday to try to set the record straight. This analogy I used seemed to have been one my audience liked:

    “Cleverly quoting irrelevant facts about global wintertime sea ice data to hide the summertime loss of arctic sea ice is a tremendous disservice. It’s like hiding the potential impact of a major hurricane in a one-week forecast by saying, ‘the average peak wind speed for the next seven days will be 17 mph”, and neglecting to mention that the wind will be calm six of those days, but 120 mph on the other day.'”

    Jeff Masters

    [Response: Thanks for dropping by Jeff. I love your site. By the way, saw you at the AGU Hurricane session and meant to say hi, but you were gone before I had a chance :( -mike]

  26. 126
    Jon says:

    I found the physicist Iulo’s contribution (#29) helpful. I’m a relative newcomer to this subject and am trying to build up a picture of what’s going on. I’d bet that Iulo, like myself, just wants to get at the truth. Neither of us is in the pay of Exxon. You may not like his saying that physicists are the people who understand this, but (I am not a physicist) I find this plausible. I first became interested in the politicisation of science through the debate on passive smoking and I see many parallels in the comments here. I admire you for publishing all comments – critical or supportive. This is the only way forward although might be tempted to indulge in a bit of censorship. Not so doing is where you do differentiate yourselves from the anti-tobacco propaganda organisations and I hope you continue in the same way.

  27. 127
    P Garrett says:

    I ran across this post on another message board but don’t know how to refute it. Can anyone help?

    “I am now an expert of sorts in coring processes, and I would characterize the current use of ice cores as an appropriate measure of past CO2 levels as flawed. Principally, the two arguments I would outline are:

    1) the measurements do not reflect the transport of CO2 into and out of the ice cores. Do not give me this crap about ice not being permeable — it just isn’t true. It also doesn’t account for any freeze-thaw cycles or sub-surface water flow. Basically, the history associated with the ice core is not correctly reflected in the calculations. Correct history would require in-depth modeling of thermal and flow conditions — not something that the “climate scientists” are in any way trained to do correctly (I’ve learned this first-hand was well). That thermal/flow model should have multiple sources of independent data to feed into it as well, in order to properly “history-match” the ice core in question. I doubt that a history matched would be “unique” anyway — so basically the true solution to the historical CO2 levels based on even well-modeled data would likely not be the right solution.

    2) the process of coring and extracting cores seriously calls into question the results, particularly for accurately determining a GAS concentration in a sample. My strong suspicion is that historical values are underestimated (and increasingly so with increasing depth) because they do not account for pressure differences during the coring/extraction process. Basically — by the time you get it to the surface, or even when you dislodge it from the ice sheet, you’ve likely lost a bunch of gas by expansion and pressure drop.”

    Thanks for any possible assistance.

    [Response: Nonsense I’m afraid. CO2, CH4, and CFC and N2O gas concentrations from ice cores have been replicated against ice cores in vastly different accumulation environments (temperatures/snow depths), against the instrumental record, with cores from Greenland and Antarctica. There is no depth affect visible in the results, and there has been plenty of modelling of the important processes (firnification, gas age/ice age differences etc). Vague doubts based on no information do not stack up against the actual science. – gavin]

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the dates don’t line up.

    And they don’t care.

    Have you noticed that any pack of people who get together because they’re all opposed to science can happily entertain more than one mutually incompatible explanation for observed facts? Not just more than one total; more than one per person, quite often.

    That’s the bot pattern: throw any excuse into the attempts to explain science as a distraction. They don’t care about making sense, they don’t care about any one explanation being right — what they’re doing is increasing the noise level in any conversation they find going on where someone is at risk of being educated to the point of deciding there’s really something to be concerned about.

  29. 129
    EL says:

    118 – This is all fine and well but here is the problem. The evidence around this is very sketchy and some people are contemplating doing extreme measures based on very weak science. I’ve heard reports on ideas such as engineering the atmosphere. There was a guy the other day on the news with a patent on a method to pump h20 into the atmosphere in large quantities. While his idea may or may not be even doable, the problem is scientist are also playing with this notion. There is one company having a contest for who can solve global warming, IE: atmosphere engineering.

    They are creating solutions to problems that they don’t fully understand and it’s very dangerous. They have no clue where the equilibriums are or anything else for that matter. There is so much about this planet that science has absolutely no data on and yet they claim they know exactly what is going on with climate. They are so sure of themselves that they are tripping over each other to play with technology that can have severe consequences.

    Much of their claims are all centered around ice core data. These experiments aren’t as sound as they are making them out to be. There is all kinds of bacteria that lives in these areas that scientist know next to nothing about. This alone opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to interpreting data from these locations. Instead of trying to do a whole lot of research into what the effects of their existence is for the ice core data, they instead simply attack the reports with ideas that are contrary to many observations.

  30. 130
    lulo says:

    Barton Paul Levenson (the writer?): My guess would have been that TSI would not work, as mentioned in an earlier post on this same thread. It varies by less than 0.5%. This is why, when we refer to extraterrestrial radiation, we use the term ‘solar constant.’ However, there are others who seem to disagree with you. Perhaps, you could take a look and see if you agree with their methodology.
    I didn’t intend to suggest that the climate record is meaningful from one month of the record. I was just taking a bit of writer’s license to point out the fact that, at the moment, we have the panacaea of higher CO2 concentrations (photosynthesis, water and nitrogen-use efficiency) without much apparent warming. Maybe it’s La Nina… maybe it’s the sun. But I have only seen one climate paper in which these ideas are taken into account to predict temporary cooling and it wasn’t written until this spell had already begun.
    I’m just trying to stir things up and see if I can push a warmist climate scientist or two to look into the solar issue – there is some mechanism causing reasonably tight correlation between a myriad of solar effects and temperature at all time scales (less so from 1980-1998 perhaps due to greenhouse warming or repeated El Ninos or both) despite its lack of variability. I think we should be looking for this mechanism instead of pretending the trend doesn’t exist. I’m skeptical that Svensmark has figured out the mechanism, but look at the correlations. There is something to this and we should be putting some resources to trying to figure it out. At least someone is trying. Of course, most climate scientists write him off.
    Personally, I like Roger Pielke’s approach. He doesn’t deny the radiative forcing and climate change research, but acknowledges that models have failed in many ways and that there is much more to learn. No model predicted the current cooling temperatures before they occurred.

    [Response: That is not correct. Current temperatures are within the ensemble of model runs, and over short periods, models often show coolings. Conflation of the expected long term trend with a single realisation of the weather is an all-too-common error. – gavin]

  31. 131
    lulo says:

    Jeff Masters: Point taken. Thin, winter sea ice builds each year to almost the extent that it used to, but we have lost a lot of the permanent pack. This explains why Arctic sea ice deviations from normal are greater in the winter than in the summer. However, reporting on Arctic conditions all the time, with nary a mention of the fact that Antarctic concentrations are on the increase (so that global sea ice has barely budged downward) is also misleading. I mentioned this before, but go to the NSIDC and take a look at how much more easily accessible and emphasized the Arctic data are than those for the Antarctic. I think many of us subconsciously apply spin to our public dissemination of information, and it goes both ways.
    Eventually, you’ll find the Antarctic graphs and I’ll bet that a few of you would be very surprised.

    [Response: People talk about the Arctic more because more is happening. It’s not really much of a surprise. Trends in Antarctica – with the exception of the Peninsula and near the WAIS are much less significant. – gavin]

    [Response: Stay tuned here for much more on the subject of Antarctic temperature trends next week. – mike]

  32. 132
    SecularAnimist says:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “Nuclear is now the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most full time source of electricity.”

    In fact, nuclear is none of those things.

    Edward Greisch wrote: “Nuclear power is THE answer to global warming …”

    Nuclear power is not an answer to global warming at all, for the simple reason that nuclear power plants cannot be built quickly enough to have any impact on CO2 emissions from electricity generation within the time frame that those reductions are needed.

    Fortunately, there is no need for nuclear power. The USA has vast commercially exploitable wind and solar energy resources that are sufficient to produce several times the electricity that the entire country uses, with today’s mainstream wind and solar technology that is being deployed right now, today, all over the world. Multiple studies have found that a diversified portfolio of renewable energy sources, including onshore and offshore wind, concentrating solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, geothermal and biomass, can produce reliable 24×7 baseload power. And they can do this faster and cheaper than nuclear, with none of the very real risks or toxic pollution of the nuclear fuel cycle.

  33. 133
    lulo says:

    I meant “greater in the summer than in the winter.” Brain hiccup. :)

  34. 134
    Hank Roberts says:

    The Scafetta piece lulo links to above is from Physics Today’s Opinion section. Anyone who’s followed Robert Grumbine’s blog or Tamino’s blog will find this assertion very much an opinion:

    “… … since 2002 the temperature data present a global cooling, not a warming! This cooling seems to have been induced by decreased solar activity …”

    There’s a response to that in the current issue.
    Regrettably paywalled; available with AIP $20 membership.

    Solar variability does not explain late-20th-century warming
    Philip B. Duffy, Benjamin D. Santer, and Tom M. L. Wigley
    January 2009, page 48

    “… The hypothesis of Nicola Scafetta and Bruce West (see their Opinion piece, PHYSICS TODAY, March 2008, page 50), that most of the observed global warming trend since 1950 is due to variations in total solar irradiance (TSI), is at odds with observations and theory. …

    … In summary, the hypothesis of Scafetta and West—that solar variability is the dominant climate influence during the late 20th century—is a nonsolution to a nonproblem. There is no problem because the history of global temperatures during the 20th century is adequately explained by known phenomena: greenhouse gases, volcanic eruptions, aerosols, and, yes, to a small degree, solar variability. That conventional explanation is simple, self-consistent, and relies on well-established physics. The Scafetta and West hypothesis is a nonsolution because it is inconsistent with a range of observations and invokes new and unproven physics….”


    Perhaps one of the authors will put a PDF copy on a website so people can read it — you’d need to read the piece and check the references for each statement to evaluate it; you know how to do that.

  35. 135
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #132. SecularAnimist, got any links to them studies please. I need some anti nuclear pro renewable ammo myself. :)

  36. 136
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, for those who do have access, the Letters column of responses to the Scafetta and West opinion piece is extensive. It includes a response to the responses from Scafetta, of which this is the most interesting statement:

    “the latest studies have shown the limitation of the tree-ring temperature reconstructions and that, on the contrary, climate varied substantially in preindustrial times.2,4”

    Um. His references for this claim about “latest studies” are:
    # 2. M. E. Mann, R. S. Bradley, M. K. Hughes, Nature 392, 779 (1998) [INSPEC]; Geo. Res. Lett. 26, 759 (1999) [INSPEC].

    # 4. C. Loehle, Energy Environ. 18, 1049 (2007).

    Mann et al. 1998, and an E’n’E paper. Hmmm.

  37. 137

    Gavin, the grammar police are after you again; in your response to #127 you mean “depth effect.”

  38. 138
    Maya says:

    Check that out for the pro-renewable info, and you can follow links on the right for Jacobson’s original paper.

  39. 139
    Joe Hunkins says:

    Perhaps there is a lesson here? Most climate Scientists failed to correct the thousands of overblown “heat waves and hurricanes!” stories and naively alarming tone and half truths in the film “An Inconvenient Truth”. The scientific truth is far more nuanced and less alarmist than journalists were suggesting.

    They were not corrected then, and are now (wrongly) suspicious of the mostly irrefutable evidence that GW is here to stay. We reap skepticism when we sow alarmism.

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:

    > They are creating solutions to problems that they don’t
    > fully understand and it’s very dangerous.

    A good example of that: burning coal for heat. Look where that’s led to, eh? It’s perhaps _the_ single best argument for the precautionary principle, though there are many others. CFCs, lead, mercury.

    “She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly ….”

    Fortunately the easy simple steps to reducing the problem of CO2 acidifying the ocean are economically smart ones.

  41. 141
    SecularAnimist says:

    Joe Hunkins wrote: “… scientific truth is far more nuanced and less alarmist than journalists were suggesting …”

    Wrong. In fact, the scientific truth is far more stark and alarming than most mainstream journalists have acknowledged, partly because most mainstream journalists — e.g. Mr. Dobbs — have been too busy bending over backwards to give “fair and balanced” coverage to the pseudoscience promulgated by denialist cranks and frauds.

    Joe Hunkins wrote: “… We reap skepticism when we sow alarmism …”

    Anyone who is not alarmed by the scientific facts about anthropogenic global warming is ill-informed about the science. And scientists who fail to communicate the alarming reality of anthropogenic global warming are doing the public a great disservice.

  42. 142
    Maya says:

    “The scientific truth is far more nuanced and less alarmist than journalists were suggesting.”

    On the contrary, the more I learn of the science, the more alarming I find it to be.

  43. 143
    JCH says:

    Joe Duck, how much SLR is expected by 2100?

  44. 144
    Jim Bouldin says:

    #107 (EL): I agree that some people are not looking at the topic coolly and dispassionately, but on the other hand there are many (many more I would say) who are doing so, and further, that the impassioned rhetoric, far and away, comes mostly from non-scientists. (This is not to say that impassioned rhetoric is necessarily wrong, given the importance of the issue, but it’s not how most scientists discuss the topic, nor to say that there are not non-scientists who are indeed looking at the issue dispassionately–there are many).

    On models:
    You state: “The point is, models are subject to change unless proven to be true”. Models are subject to change because they are always approximations of the system, and since empirical knowledge of the system they model is usually increasing, models change so as to provide the best synthetic and theoretic explanation of the multitude of existing observations of it. In a highly complex system, it does not help to think of a model as being “true” or not, without first having stated what aspects of reality you are attempting to describe/explain/integrate with the model (thus George Box’s famous statement, “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful”). I find that there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the intent and usefulness of models in climatology and ecology, and we need to do a better job explaining this. On the flip side, the non-scientist needs to understand that there are a whole slew of methods and approaches that scientists use for reasons that may not be immediately obvious.

    The only way to discern the good from the less good is the slow process of self-education. Fortunately there is a LOT of good info out there for those who really want to do so, but it still requires a lot of work.

    Or have I missed your point entirely?

  45. 145
    David B. Benson says:

    What SecularAnimist (141) and Maya (142) just wrote.

  46. 146
    Andre Velone says:

    It is very sad to me to see this blog has only 18,000 readers per month from this website, . What you write is very important to understand for the climate science and for the policy makers. Can you do something to have more readers?

    [Response: Those counters are a significant undercount of the readership (by more than an order of magnitude) and don’t count syndicated traffic et al. However, any sensible suggestions to increase our spread would be welcome. – gavin]

  47. 147
    william says:

    Secular Animist #132
    Even Hansen believes you have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed.

    “One of Hansen’s more amusing statements in his letter to Prof. Holdren is his expression of frustration with “the minority of vehement anti-nuclear ‘environmentalists'” who oppose even his “clean” nuclear power proposals. “It seems to me that it is time to get fed-up with those people who think they can impose their will on everybody, and all the consequences that might imply for the planet,” Hansen tells Holdren”

  48. 148

    RE #139 & “Most climate Scientists failed to correct the thousands of overblown ‘heat waves and hurricanes!’ stories”

    Nooo, scientists corrected these stories right and left…from their perspective of avoiding false positives. They clearly pointed out time & again that you cannot attribute single events, such as Hurricane Katrina, to GW, as GW is at the statistical aggregate level (no more than you can prove the die is loaded just because you got a 6 on one throw).

    However, as laypersons concerned with life and limb on planet earth, we should be taking the opposite position & be in true debate with scientists. That is, we should be striving to avoid the false negative of ignoring a problem when it is actually happening, and pose this challenge: can anyone prove at .05 that GW did NOT contribute to Hurricane Katrina — and if not then we should continue to mitigate & reduce our GHGs down 75% or more until and unless it can be proved GW didn’t enhance Katrina, tho since GW is contributing to so many other horrendous problems, we just shouldn’t stop mitigating no matter what scientists say re they can’t prove GW enhanced a particular event.

    Or, we should be thinking, well, if GW didn’t contribute to Katrina, wonder what are the hurricanes will be like once GW really kicks in?

    You’d think these would be the approaches of sensible, prudent people. So….are people crazy or something?

  49. 149
    John L says:

    I am unclear on what is being said here:

    “..No model predicted the current cooling temperatures before they occurred.

    [Response: That is not correct. Current temperatures are within the ensemble of model runs, and over short periods, models often show coolings. Conflation of the expected long term trend with a single realisation of the weather is an all-too-common error. – gavin]”

    Are you saying that no model could predict the cooling trend (presumably because they do not have such specificity of result), that any result within a range of probability for all models is “predicted”, or that a specific model did predict the cooling trend?

    [Response: The original claim implies that the current temperatures are out of line with all models. This is incorrect. For the period highlighted in the link (which, by the way does not make that claim about the models), 2003 to 2007, the range of model trends in SAT in the AR4 archive is [-0.40,0.95] deg C/decade – indicating clearly that short term trends are not useful for climate model evaluation. – gavin]

  50. 150
    SecularAnimist says:

    william wrote: “Even Hansen believes you have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed.”

    Hansen is an expert on climate science. He is not an expert on energy technology issues. I believe that his support for nuclear power as an effective way reduce CO2 emissions within the very short time frame that Hansen himself has set forth is misinformed. The same is true of James Lovelock, who has expressed similar support for nuclear power: I believe that Lovelock has a profound appreciation of the interconnected, interdependent nature of the Earth’s biosphere as a living system, and thus a better appreciation of the potentially devastating synergistic effects of global warming than many other scientist do. But Lovelock, like Hansen, is misinformed about energy technologies and his support for nuclear power is naive and misguided.

    For expertise on energy I am more inclined to look to someone like Amory Lovins than Hansen or Lovelock.

    The notion that we “have to build nuclear to supply the US power needs while alternatives are developed” is, with all due respect, nonsense. The alternatives have already been “developed”. Solar and wind energy are the fastest and second fastest growing sources of energy in the world. Solar and wind are ready to meet our energy needs now, and nuclear power is not. The time from planning through construction to power-on for concentrating solar thermal power stations and wind farms is around two years. For nuclear power plants it is five to ten years at least. So the reality is more like “we have to build solar and wind power generation to supply US power needs while the nuclear power plants are being built.”

    But there is no need to even build those nuclear power plants, because within the ten years it will take to build them and bring them online, we can be producing all the electricity we need from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. By the time even a single new nuclear power plant comes online in the USA, the rapid advance of wind and solar will make it obsolete and unprofitable. And that’s exactly why private capital won’t touch nuclear power, and is instead pouring into the new energy technologies of the 21st century, wind and solar.