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With all due respect…

Filed under: — group @ 24 March 2009 - (Italian)

There was a great comedy piece a few years back (whose origin escapes us) that gave examples of how the English would use their language when speaking to a non-native speaker to imply the precise opposite of what was actually being understood. This allowed the English to feel superior without actually damaging international relations. One example was the phrase “with all due respect” which is generally understood to imply that the speaker has a great deal of respect for their counterpart, while the speaker is actually implying that they have no respect in the slightest for their interlocutor. The respect due being precisely zero.

This thought occurred to us when a few of us opened our email this week to see a draft ad being sent around by the Cato Institute (i.e. Pat Michaels) looking for signatories prior to being published in “major US newspapers” sometime soon:

There are a number of amusing details here. While we are curious about the credentials of “Dr. N. Here”, we certainly understand why they are looking for a little more variety on the list. More surprising (and somewhat ironically) the mailing list for signature requests includes a number of scientists who don’t agree with these sentiments at all. It’s as if Michaels and Cato actually believe that these various lists of “dissenting” scientists are accurate reflections of support for their agenda. They appear to be have been conned by their own disinformation.

As an exercise for our readers, perhaps people would like to speculate on who is going to end up on the published list? (If indeed it gets published). Ginger Spice would be likely on past form, but they might improve the screening this time around…

But most amusing are the footnotes that they use to bolster their case. There are four: the brand new Swanson and Tsonis (GRL, 2009), Brohan et al (JGR, 2006) (which is there to provide a link to the HadCRU temperature data), Pielke et al (BAMS, 2005), and the oft-derided Douglass et al (IJoC, 2008).

Of these papers, not one has the evidence to support the statements attributed to them in the main text. To wit:

Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2

Well, the first part of the statement is exactly what you expect with a modest long-term trend in the presence of internal variability and is not controversial in the least. The “global warming stopped” meme is particularly lame since it relies on both a feigned ignorance of the statistics of short periods and being careful about which data set you use. It also requires cherry-picking the start year, had the period been “exactly a decade” or 12 years then all the trends are positive.

The use of the recent Swanson and Tsonis paper is simply opportunism. Those authors specifically state that their results are not in any way contradictory with the idea of a long term global warming trend. Instead they are attempting to characterise the internal variability that everyone knows exists.

After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3

This references a short comment in BAMS that didn’t present any original research. The latest figures show that weather-related damages have increased markedly, though whether there is a climate change component is hard to tease out given the large increases in vulnerable infrastructure and relatively poor data. The actual statement that a clear global warming-related trend in damages hasn’t been clearly demonstrated doesn’t imply that you can state definitively that there is no effect. There might be one (or not), but formal attribution is hard. However, whatever the attribution ends up being, pointing out that there are other problems in the world doesn’t imply that anthropogenic climate change is not worth worrying about. One might as well state that since knee injuries on ski-slopes have increased over time one shouldn’t support flu shots.

The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4

‘Abjectly’? Very strange choice of word…. and an even stranger choice of reference. This is of course the same Douglass et al paper that used completely incoherent statistics and deliberately failed to note the structural uncertainty in the observations. Unsurprisingly, Michaels does not reference the rather comprehensive demolition of the Douglass methodology published by Santer et al (2008) (and on which one of us was a co-author). More fundamentally however, the current temperatures are still within the spread of the models even if you cherry pick your start date. No-one expects the real world (a single realization) to follow the mean forced trend at all times. How is that a failure, abject or otherwise?

More interestingly is what is not cited. President Obama’s statement “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear”, can’t possibly refer to every issue in science or every potential fact. Instead he is likely referring to the basic and pretty much uncontested facts that i) CO2 and other greenhouse gases have increased due to human activity. CO2 emissions in particular continue to increase at a rapid rate; ii) the effect of these gases is to warm the climate and it is very likely that most of the warming over the last 50 years was in fact driven by these increases; and iii) the sensitivity of the climate is very likely large enough that serious consequences can be expected if carbon emissions continue on this path. We would be astonished if Michaels disputed this since he is on record as agreeing that the IPCC climate sensitivity range is likely to be correct and has never questioned the human contribution to CO2 and other GHG increases. He and his colleagues have even done analyses that show that after correcting for ENSO effects, there is no sign of a slowdown in global warming at all.

Instead this is a classic red-herring: Ignore the facts you don’t dispute, pick some others that are ambiguous and imply that, because they are subject to some debate, we therefore know nothing. Michaels (and Cato) presumably thinks this kind of nonsense is politically useful and he may be correct. But should he claim it is scientifically defensible, we would have to answer:

“With all due respect, Dr. Michaels, that is not true.”


303 Responses to “With all due respect…”

  1. 151

    Polar bear populations (#147) are indeed up as compared to the 1970s (I don’t know about “in the past decade”), but it has do do with controls on polar bear harvests, not climate. Most think it is a temporary reversal at best.

    Info here and here.

  2. 152
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aw gee, Burgy, don’t send them here with that load of stuff. Teach them to look things up for themselves wherever you’re talking to them, will you?

    Note you can do what dhog did — just take chunks of whatever they’re unloading where you find it, paste it into Google, and find the origin.

    Useful also: search for the name of the place they found it along with the word “sourcewatch” and again with the word “conwebwatch” — it’ll turn up the people funding the PR sites.

    Then take the key terms and use Google Scholar, click on ‘recent’ and try to give them better information.

    Don’t send them here with their wagon load, eager for us to find their pony for them, until you’ve taught them a few basic critical thinking skills, eh?

  3. 153
    Deep Climate says:

    #141

    Mark,
    Which part are you claiming is made up?

    Here is the relevant excerpt from IPCC AR4 WG1 (p. 750):

    There is close agreement of globally averaged SAT multi-model mean warming for the early 21st century for concentrations derived from the three non-mitigated IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES: B1, A1B and A2) scenarios (including only anthropogenic forcing) run by the AOGCMs (warming averaged for 2011 to 2030 compared to 1980 to 1999 is between +0.64°C and +0.69°C, with a range of only 0.05°C).

  4. 154
    Deep Climate says:

    “Two more studies – one by the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Germany and another by the University of Wisconsin – predict a slowing, or even a reversal of warming, for at least the next 10 to 20 years.”

    The studies are not that hard to find. But the real problem is that the findings have been misrepresented. Neither study projects significant “reversal of warming” (a.k.a. cooling), and in both cases the authors have been adamant that their longer term projections match those of the IPCC.

    See my critique of a recent screed by Lorne Gunter of the National Post for a detailed debunking on this and other typical distortions.

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/03/10/fact-checking-national-post-style-lorne-gunter-on-global-cooling-part-2/

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/03/05/lorne-gunter-on-global-cooling-part-1/

  5. 155
    Deep Climate says:

    The Arctic sea ice has grown more on a percentage basis this winter than it has since 1979.

    Let’s think about this one a bit. As summer arctic ice disappears, the ratio of winter ice to summer ice grows, leading to a greater percentage growth, even though the overall trend is down.

    Now take this idea to its logical extreme. The first time summer arctic sea ice disappears, the following winter will see the ice “grow” on an infinite “percentage basis”. And this is supposed to be an argument in support of cooling?

    Tough captcha: Kircher 52 1/2

  6. 156
    Dale Power says:

    Anne Van Der Born…

    A few points, and first, let me thank you for bothering to notice what I wrote!

    There are 1,000 of good sites that are pro-environment out there. And most people never go to them.

    The message then must be carried to them. I am not talking about the die-hards, or those paid to give a specific message, I mean the real citizens of the world that don’t have the time or desire to change easily. So the effort needed is different than what you seem to have taken it as.

    *RealClimate should not change. Sorry if you though I was suggesting that! What I am suggesting is that a few Climatologists and other real climate scientists get together and put in a few hours of work each week, be willing to face the other side and call them out dramatically, rather than quietly firing e-mails to other climate scientists which seems to be the current tactic.

    What Joe and Jane Public don’t see right in front of them will NOT change their minds.

    As for decoupling from the facts…

    I can see your concern there actually. The science deserves more than a sound bit, but what television, radio and the printed word allows now is a sound bit!

    BUT, the other side does not want a large group of real scientists doing this! They fear it. It is the only thing that actually effects the mindset of large groups, the repeated, simple message.

    Coming from authority figures, it will have tremendous power.

    As for these people trying to make it into the old “left versus right” debate…

    Well, in that you are just correct without reservation!

    The only way to win that game is to let them waste time calling names while stealing all of their power out from under them.

    This is very different than what has been being done, true…

    But right now the trend is one of significant and increasing loses, just when we need to be pulling together and acting.

    This means that the other side is wining, just because they are not being challenged in the arena of public opinion nearly enough!

    I hope you don’t take offence at any of this and will fire back with your own ideas, or even keep challenging mine. I’d rather real debate than nothing right now.

    Thanks.

  7. 157
    wmanny says:

    to 127:

    Hank, I’m not trying to add to my credibility, I am just asking layman questions. With respect, the graph I found was not badly out of date, was it, in the context of the original question? Was the graph inaccurate in your opinion? In any event, I very much appreciate Gavin’s reference to the Woodfortrees site, which appears to be a terrific resource, so I’m glad I did ask. I don’t even remember any more what I googled to get to “Thunderbolt” — I was only interested in the graph. As to the difference a year makes, I has thought the point was that a year should make no difference at all, up or down. In any event, it’s a good site to play with, as you note. Here’s another interesting look:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1850/to:2009

    Walter

  8. 158
    Hank Roberts says:

    Manny, you pointed to the chart on the Thunderbolt guy’s site, asking:

    “Here’s a relatively recent graph. What’s your take on this one?”

    Test yourself. Did you fool yourself by imagining you could see a trend in the chart? I don’t know if you’ve taken a statistics class or not — care to tell us?

    Assess your take on it: What did _you_ think of it? Did your opinion change after you saw it overlaid with the trend line? Would you have been aware of the trend, if you’d just looked at the Thunderbolt guy’s picture?

  9. 159
    wmanny says:

    Hank, I don’t see what the big problem is with exploring these graphs. I’m not a climate scientist, but rather a skeptical calculus teacher. The relative flatness over the last ten years or so is self-evident, and no amount of trend-line fitting, nor cherry-picking in either direction, can make that observation go away. It neither proves that AGW is hogwash nor that it is rock-solid. I note a reluctance, though, to answer the question I posed in #60: how much more flatness before questions arise? I can infer that 20 more years would suffice, but what about 5 or 10? What is the current theory, if any, that explains the momentary pause?

    Walter

  10. 160
    dhogaza says:

    As to the difference a year makes, I has thought the point was that a year should make no difference at all, up or down.

    You’re right. So when a year (in this context, in the context of other time series it might be “a microsecond”) makes a big difference, this is a huge red “oh darn!” flag that the trend vs. noise signal is being overwhelmed by noise.

    In other words, when you can show that a one year difference makes a difference on this scale, that’s evidence that the period of time being analyzed is too short for a statistically significant trend to express itself.

    Which denialists don’t tell you, of course.

  11. 161
    Brian Dodge says:

    Re “annual water use at 76.4 acre feet” for the proposed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System-

    According to “POWER PLANT WATER USAGE AND LOSS STUDY
    August 2005 The United States Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory”
    pulverized coal power plants use 1000-1200 gal/MWh, based on an analysis of 500MW power plants, so at least 400,000 gallons per hour for 400MW. At 2000hrs/year, that would be 800 million gallons, or approximately 2455 acre feet (at 325851 gallons/acre foot)

  12. 162
    Brian Dodge says:

    My impression is that the global warming skeptics think the instrumental record is crap; when did they suddenly get religion, and come to believe that it showing “no warming over the last decade” is now reliable? Between 1998 and 2007 with “no warming”, Arctic summer sea ice declined from ~8.5 million km2 to ~6 million km2 (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2007.jpg); glacial mass balance went from ~6000mm eq water loss to ~12000mm loss (http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/cum%20bn.jpg). Even if warming had stopped (It hasn’t, as other have pointed out), we’ve already got enough warming to cause severe climate change – Australian drought, ecosystem changes(van Mantgem et al,www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/sci;323/5913/521.pdf ), arctic methane releases (Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf: Is there any sign of methane leakage from shallow shelf hydrates?. Shakhova et al “…anomalously high concentrations of dissolved methane in the water column up to 560 nM, or 12000% of super saturation…”,www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU2008/01526/EGU2008-A-01526.pdf ),ocean acidification, etc, etc.

    “The data suggest cooling not warming in Earth’s future,” Aleo says. With all due respect, we should be so lucky.

  13. 163
    Chris S says:

    #157 wmanny

    “As to the difference a year makes, I has thought the point was that a year should make no difference at all, up or down.”

    The three graphs below demonstrate what a difference one year can make.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997/to:2009/trend
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2009/trend
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1999/to:2009/trend

    (I know, I’m changing the start date not the end date but I think the point is still the same)

  14. 164
    Mark says:

    wmanny pleads: “With respect, the graph I found was not badly out of date, was it?”

    Yes, yes it was.

    Because you can’t use the graph and take one point at one end and one point on the other and say “this is what’s going on”.

    If it were that simple, statisticians wouldn’t need degrees.

    You can tell that because the graph ONE YEAR LATER shows a VERY different picture.

    If a miniscule change in your window of investigation produces a vastly different account, your methodology is wrong.

    But you don’t care as long as it says what you want to say, isn’t it.

    How about returning the question: now that another graph has been shown to you showing there IS significant increase in temperature, will you now believe that there is AGW?

  15. 165
    Mark says:

    Deep Climate, if you mean “0.69 C per decade” then you should say so. It reads like you say “0.69 C over the period”.

    [edit]

    [Response: You are getting confused – read DC’s pieces again. – gavin]

  16. 166

    John Burgeson,

    The World Meteorological Organization defines climate as mean regional or global weather over a period of 30 years or more. When temperatures have been falling for 30 years, I’ll listen to the deniers you quote.

  17. 167
    Mark says:

    Yes, I worked out there was confusion.

    Took three or four readings to work out what the heck he was talking about.

  18. 168
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walter Manny, You ask how long temperatures would have to stay flat before questions arose. The reason no one has answered it is that it is an ill posed question. Temperatures are still rising:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/

    The current decade is warmer than the last and the one before that.

    More fundamentally, though, you are operating under the misapprehension that anthropogenic causation is a hypothesis to explain the observed warming. I isn’t. Rather, it is a consequence of the theory that explains Earth’s climate. This theory explains a whole helluva lot more than the current warming epoch, and if we stopped seeing warming, the question would be what needed to be added to the theory to explain the new results. Pretty much the only solution would have to be some negative feedback that magically kicked in at current temperatures. Put your powers of “skepticism” to good use and ask yourself how likely you think that is.

  19. 169

    I really appreciate all the responses here on my friend’s questions.

    Offline, I have had several exchanges with him and others on the use of sources such as Heartland and World Press.

    They have said that sometimes they do get things right.

    I reply that even a blind pig sometimes turns up an acorn.

    Thanks again. Burgy

    [Response: I prefer “Even a broken clock is right twice a day” (since I know nothing about animal husbandry). – gavin]

  20. 170
    wmanny says:

    Ray, thanks for the response, and first things first. I mean this in a friendly way: you needn’t refer to my skepticism in quotations. It’s real enough even if it’s misinformed in your opinion, and the mockery is unnecessary, I think. To the flatness, when I look at a graph such as:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1850/to:2010

    I see a flat decade. Once again I would point out that as far as future trends are concerned, I don’t see that the recent flatness of the graph itself proves anything, nor am I saying the decade is anything but warmer than the previous ones. Warmer, though, does not mean warming.

    Since you believe my question is ill-posed, though, let me ask it again in your terms: how much longer would you need to see a cessation in warming before you would want to see an adjustment to current theory? It is a hypothetical question, to be sure, but I find it interesting that I can’t get an answer to it.

    As to my misapprehension that anthropogenic causation is a hypothesis rather than a consequence, I admit I don’t understand the point you are trying to make as written and would appreciate a rephrasing if you are willing.

    Thanks, Walter

  21. 171
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re :# 103. What has happened to the statistical police?

    Case 1. Contrarians summon paleoclimatologists to appear at a sub-committee of the Senate with all their working procedures and accompany it with an insinuation of fraud or incompetence. Chief policeman (statistician) hypes his preference for a slightly different methodology but conceals the fact that it makes essentially no difference. Final report is used as a basis from which to launch personal attacks and is invoked again by House of Lords investigation in the UK.

    Case 2. Prominent deniers examine the modern data and deduce that the upward trend is now zero or negative. In contrast to the previous example there are usually no error bars provided on these estimated trends. On this occasion the different methodology makes a huge difference and the statistics involved is much more elementary. Isn’t it time to recall the committee with e.g. Tamino as chairman, interview the trend busters, bring out a report on the conclusions to be up-dated once a year (it is a matter of importance)? If Congress doesn’t do it perhaps the AIP might.

  22. 172
    Hank Roberts says:

    Walter/wmanny, the “how much longer” is another of those questions that people bring in here over and over. Maybe you thought of it by yourself just now. But did you read it somewhere on a blog?

    You say you’re a calculus teacher, yet you talk about being able to tell something just looking at a chart. How do you do that? Do you teach high school? Do you teach students about human pattern recognition and how we regularly fool ourselves because we’re so biased toward finding patterns in visual information?

    You know this stuff? Understand that your ancestors were all good at picking out predators from vegetation, probably fled from a lot of imaginary predators, but never failed to detect even one predator in time to escape before reproducing?

    You say you’re a calculus teacher, yet you ask
    > #60: how much more flatness
    What do you know about detecting a small trend in a noisy signal?
    Do you understand that you’re asking a question that requires far more assumptions? How about specifying the variability of the noise for the time span you’re interested in (you know how to do this?)

    Tamino’s covered this well. Have you read that thread linked above?

    What else do you teach besides calculus? At what level? How long?
    Have you taken statistics?

    Could you teach this unit to your students with understanding?

    http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_2_2_9t.htm
    “Climate Variability
    In this activity students will simulate climate variability and come to understand that long-term climate averages are the result of significant annual climate variability. Students will be able to express the fact that random climate variability makes detecting climate change more difficult.”

  23. 173
    Hank Roberts says:

    Walter/wmanny, you also asked about variability. Use Google Scholar, you’ll find the original sources easily with a quick search. Try for example looking into the cites and citing papers starting with

    http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0806/full/453043a.html
    http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0806/fig_tab/453043a_F1.html
    “… over the coming decade, natural climate variability may counteract the underlying warming trend in some regions around the North Atlantic. (Figure courtesy of A. Pardaens, Met Office Hadley Centre).”

    On being able to see things on charts without doing the statistical work, I worry about what you might be teaching students.

    You, and they, should read these, written for high school level:

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/03/misleading-yourself-with-graphs.html
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/03/weather-will-still-happen.html
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-to-decide-climate-trends.html
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-is-climate-2.html

  24. 174
    Paul Middents says:

    Hank and Ray,

    I believe our Mr. Manny has been at this before. He inspired John Mashey’s excellent post on how to engage with an educated skeptic.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/08/john_mashey_on_how_to_learn_ab.php

    Paul

  25. 175
    Mark says:

    “how much longer would you need to see a cessation in warming before you would want to see an adjustment to current theory? It is a hypothetical question, to be sure, but I find it interesting that I can’t get an answer to it.”

    When the graph shows statistically significant trend to flatness.

    Mind you, there’s no cessation at the moment.

  26. 176
    Hank Roberts says:

    One last link for Walter: read through this one issue for the climate and modeling articles, there’s a lot here worth knowing:
    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1890.toc

    This relates to the prediction much discussed:
    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1890/913.full

  27. 177
    Hank Roberts says:

    Paul Middents, thanks, our posts crossed. You’re absolutely right, John Mashey’s already addressed Mr. Manny comprehensively. No sense going back over the very same stuff here.

  28. 178
    BFJ Cricklewood says:

    #170, #172
    The “how much longer” (than a flat decade) question may well not be original, but does that matter?
    If it’s worthless, why? If it’s not, what’s your answer?

  29. 179
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walter @170, Personally, I don’t see how you can claim to be a skeptic based solely on what you “see”. Wouldn’t a minimum of due diligence require doing some analysis on the data to see if there is even sufficient significance to be dubbed a trend? Did you look at the analysis Tamino did? It not only demonstrates that temperatures are still rising, but also shows how the eyes can be fooled by an endpoint. Do me a favor: Try varying your endpoint. Take 1985, 1997. That 1998 El Nino is a pretty dominant feature–hard for the eye to ignore.

    As to the “theory of anthropogenic warming,” it doesn’t exist. What we have is a theory of Earth’s climate. A lot of factors contribute to this theory. One very important factor is greenhouse warming, without which we wouldn’t be having this little tete a tete. In addition to explain 33 degrees C of warmth we wouldn’t otherwise have, greenhouse warming–especially due to CO2–explains a whole bunch of features in paleoclimate, especially those related to the onset, duration and intensity of glacial-interglacial cycles, the PETM, etc. This one small but important aspect of the theory also implies that our addition of CO2 to the atmosphere should warm the planet. So, we are not really very likely to give up all that explanatory power if we see a discrepancy between what theory predicts and observation. Rather, we will likely look to see if there is not some additional process that affects current warming but has limited effects for past epochs of warming. Since most feedbacks are temperature related and don’t care about where a photon comes from, the implication would have to be that the current temperature regime was anomalously stable, and that is not too likely. Monitoring every little change in the temperature doesn’t make you a skeptic. It makes you a weather watcher. And if you are a weather watcher who wasn’t panicking in the 1998 or 2002 El Ninos, it would make you a denialist.

  30. 180
    wmanny says:

    172 on:

    Or… you could simply answer the question. If you are uncomfortable making the assumption that there’s not much going on on the last ten years, then perhaps one of you would be willing to take on the question as a hypothetical all the way through: let’s say for the sake of argument that it is eventually determined that the last ten years were more or less insignificant up or down. How many more years would it take before the theory needed to be adjusted? I must say the more this question is treated with such wriggling and attempts to change the topic, the more I think I’m actually on to something more than I think I’m asking! I am who I am, by the way – a run-of-the-mill BSEE teaching high school BC and regular calc. – I do not hide behind a pseudonym, there’s no need to treat me as some sort of mysterious character, and there’s even less of a need to get upset about anything so I hope that’s not happening. If you don’t want to answer the question, then don’t. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here.

    [Response: The question has been addressed dozens of times. It is a function of how much interannual and longer variability there is in any particular metric. There are many previous discussions of exactly this same issue (though I can’t quickly find the exact thread, anyone?). – gavin]

  31. 181
    Hank Roberts says:

    > may well not be original, but does that matter?

    It’s helpful to know the source. If someone came up with it on their own, then finding out their assumptions can lead to some learning for all of us readers here. That particular question has assumptions not stated; it’s right out of Statistics 101. No need to retype that.

    Sometimes people simply post the same question repeatedly, in many forums, without ever changing.

    Sometimes people have read a question in some other site, think it sounds like a good one, come here and post it, but don’t understand either the question, the assumptions behind the question, or the answers posted to it.

    Often ordinary readers like me find ourselves answering the same question posted by many different people in different places, and all it does is waste our time and annoy the people on the other blog because they are just copypasting stuff.

    When someone new (not a repeater) arrives with a question that’s so recognizable, it’s often useful to find out where it came from, if it’s from another site.

    I mistook Walter for someone who hadn’t been responded to elsewhere at length — my bad, I just hadn’t recalled that he’s a regular.

    So the answer is, “it depends, see the links provided where it has been answered well previously.”

  32. 182
    walter crain says:

    hello there. this is walter the architect, member of the reality-based community, and advocate of PROJECT JIM. just to be clear – i am NOT walter the skeptic and calculus teacher of the recent posts. i guess henceforth, i’ll be walter crain.

    dale, ann and others have been talking about whether scientists need to educate the public and/or engage the skeptics. to that, as a layman, i say ABSOLUTELY! there is only confusion out here because of how poor of a job scientists have done with PR. i understand how it’s distasteful to “lower” yourselves to the level of the denialists, but you’ve got to do it. the crap that cato, heartland, green earth, etc… (like that cato thing with all the footnotes) WORKS on most people because of cleverly it’s done . whether they fully believe it or simply think, “well, there must be some truth to it” the denialists have “won.” that’s all they want – uncertainty. you have to admit they have been extremely clever about it. if the american petroleum institute can convince people there’s uncertainty among scientists, that’s all they need to do. walter-the-calculus-teacher is a perfect example: he’s obviously reasonably intelligent, and he’s not sure where the preponderance of evidence lies. people will be MUCH less likely to tackle the problem if they can convince themselves there’s no problem.

  33. 183
    Dan says:

    180: “…the more I think I’m actually on to something more…”

    Oh brother, we are back to the “I think I may know something that literally thousands of climate scientists who do this for a living for decades and publish in peer-reviewed journals do not!” blather. What arrogance and what an insult to science and scientists world-wide that sort of thought is.

  34. 184
    Hank Roberts says:

    Gavin:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/dont-get-fooled-again/

    “Those who point to 10-year “trends,” or 7-year “trends,” to claim that global warming has come to a halt, or even slowed, are fooling themselves. Statistics doesn’t support such a claim, and as this example shows, it’s really easy for noise to create such a false impression even when we know, without doubt, that the underlying trend hasn’t changed. This is a theme I’ve emphasized often, but it bears repeating. Such claims come only from those who are fooling themselves. Don’t let ‘em fool you.”

    and a bit later, as an inline response:

    “… in this example I “know” because the data are artificial, and are constructed in very precise fashion. But if these were observed data we wouldn’t know. … those who claim to know that the “flatline” in the last decade of HadCRU data, or the “almost flatline” in the last decade of GISS data, is indicative of a demonstrable change in the global warming pattern, do so outside the bounds of sound statistics.]

  35. 185
    Richard Ordway says:

    Re #58 Geoff Beacon Says:

    “Anyone read the current BBC “Green Room”?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7929174.stm

    “1998 remains the warmest year on record, and since then there has been no discernable upward trend.”

    Comments?”

    I hope you are kidding. This is even addressed by Gavin in this thread. GW is averages, averages, averages over 30+ years from all Earth’s locations we have. The number of years from 1998 to today is *less* than 30+ years. Additionally, when were the last ten warmest years on record. Just read, Dude!!!!!

  36. 186
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Ike Solem, Timothy Chase – regarding XOs (ENSO, PDO, AO/NAM, SAM, QBO…):

    Coming into this midstream, but:

    My understanding of XOs in general is that they are patterns in some variability – that is, some significant component of variabiltiy overall can be described by a single number that is the amplitude of a particular spatial (and maybe temporal?) pattern.

    This doesn’t mean that they are (to the extent of being internal variability) actually oscillations, in the sense of cycles, like a pendulum.

    Although one example comes rather close to that: the QBO. QBO conditions shape the vertical flux of westerly momentum transport by some equatorial waves (in particular, at least Kelvin and Rossby-gravity waves) in such a way as to produce westerly accelerations in westerly shear and easterly accelerations in easterly shear, resulting in new wind ‘regimes’ starting at some height and propagating downward over time, with some regularity.

    I don’t know a lot about ENSO except that the trade winds are shaped partly by SSTs and latent heating, and latent heating and SSTs are shaped partly by trade winds, and … maybe when there is a long-enough east-west distance (so that zonal currents stay in the tropics longer), the difference in temperature between the western warm pool and eastern upwelling and cold current regions might be sufficient to allow some multiple quasi-equilibrium states … or maybe not, I’m not sure; I have been told that climate models can reproduce some ENSO like phenomenon in the Atlantic if the Atlantic is made wide-enough.

    Varyiations in latent heating caused by SST anomalies can produce anomalous patterns in quasi-stationary Rossby waves (also excited by wind blowing over large-scale topography – Rockies and Himalayas). Quasi-stationary Rossby waves help shape the distribution of midlatitude storm track activity.

    Vertical momentum transport by waves into the stratosphere and mesosphere and resulting wave-mean interactions drive the slow large-scale meridional overturning of the upper atmosphere (while tending to slow down stratospheric winter mid-high latitude westerlies), which at least in the stratosphere is called the Brewer Dobson circulation. Changes in omentum transport of verically-propagating quasi-stationary Rossby waves into the stratosphere (either due to their tropospheric sources/shapers and/or stratospheric conditions, like zonal mean wind patterns) can allow stronger stratospheric mid-high latitude westerlies or slow them down. Sometimes this happens in bursts called sudden stratospheric warmings.

    A very simple model (I think by Charney and _______ ) produces multiple equilibria (two stable and one unstable) in the quasi-stationary Rossby wave pattern in the Northern midlatitudes. I have also read (though not fully) that patterns in winds and temperatures can favor anticyclonic or cyclonic wave-breaking in the transient waves (midlatitude storm-track activity), causing the polar jet to shift poleward or equatorward, and I’m not sure on this point but that may favor more of the same type of wave-breaking. And this also might be related to the strength of stratospheric winter mid-to-high latitude westerlies. All combined, this may be related to NAM and SAM, though I still couldn’t claim to know the lion’s share of what is known about these things.

    Global warming or any externally-forced climate change in general might affect the amplitudes and mean-states of any of these patterns and also perhaps change their shape… to be cont.

  37. 187
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Is there a list of all the various anti-GW theories anywhere, a tabulated list.

    It seems to me there are vast internal contradictions between anti-GW people,

    Some say there has been no warming – it’s either all to do with urban heat islands or that the satellite temperature measurements as wrong. Thus the two views here are at odd with each other.

    Then some ay GW has peaked. Such a person would be at odds with someone above who says GW hasn’t happened. If GW has not happen, then it can’t peak.

    There are some who say temps have risen, but are now heading south, Thus at odds with the level off folks.

    I noted that at the Heartland Institute conference (“conference”?) one paper suggested that the global climate was about of go seriously cool, and IIRC, the speaker talked about a cooling of 2C-5C in the next thirty years or so. So this chap is at odds with all the above.

    Then some accept the temperature rises, but say it is due to 1. Solar activity 2. tectonic plates 3. other that I can’t recall but Real Climate might know of. Thus 1, 2 and 3 conflict with each other.

    Now, here in the UK, some say it is a scam dreamed up by the bureaucrats of the European Union, in conjunction with eco-fascists and other closet reds to allow the EU to control our every action by raising taxes. This is obviously at odds with the Yanks, as we (rather you) know it is a plan by pinko-liberals and eco-terrorists to destroy the Great American Way Of Life.

  38. 188
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Richard Ordway @185: Not to mention that 1998 was exceeded by 2005 and tied by 2007.
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    But hey, why update your citation when the old one better suites your argument, right?

  39. 189
    RichardC says:

    24 Secular said, “[fred 23’s] statement about CO2 trends is wrong”

    Fred’s intent was to note that the deviation between CO2 forcing and expected temperature rise has widened. That CO2 has gone up faster than predicted strengthens his (weak) case.

  40. 190
    BillBodell says:

    “1998 remains the warmest year on record, and since then there has been no discernable upward trend.”

    is true. 10 years may not be a significant trend in terms of Global Warming, but it is a trend. While a 10 year trend is not enough to say anything conclusive about GW, it does seem as though it could be meaningful.

    “Additionally, when were the last ten warmest years on record.”

    This would also be expected if the last 10 years were on either side of a peak. It doesn’t say anything about a trend.

    Those who point to 10-year “trends,” or 7-year “trends,” to claim that global warming has come to a halt, or even slowed, are fooling themselves.

    True. But those that claim that global warming MAY have come to a halt may have a point.

    BTW, how long of a warming trend did Hansen have in 1988 when he spoke before congress?

    [Response: How many times does it have to be stated that concern about CO2 is not based on linear extrapolation? Once more I suppose. – gavin]

  41. 191
    RichardC says:

    118 Theo proposes, “The US empire will be gone by 2109. I’ll take a $1000 bet on that.”

    But if you win, you (or your heirs) will get paid off in then-worthless US dollars. ;-)

  42. 192
    walter crain says:

    theo, here’s a good list of 53 standard claims: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    i heard a new one from brian valentine of the heartland institute the other day over on capitalweather: cruatal movement!

    “The asymmetric heating of the Earth that occurred over the period 1985-1998 say was the result of a number of influences I believe. Arctic ice loss could certainly be attributed to slower North Atlantic currents arising from the MOC; extended heating of slower Arctic Ocean currents occurring in summer; the MOC influenced by the extraordinary El Nino event of 1987 et seq. 1995. Subsea volcanism off the coast of Greenland may or may not have been a factor; another factor was almost certainly a notation of the Earth’s rotation about the polar axis, arising from the CRUSTAL MOVEMENT precipitating in the earthquake in the South Indian Ocean in 2005; the nutation identified by the resolution of a Northern component of rotation angles measured with a rotating Earth over the stated time period (B Valentine, paper subm to Geophys Res Lett)” (emphasis mine)

  43. 193
    dhogaza says:

    10 years may not be a significant trend in terms of Global Warming, but it is a trend.

    10 years is 1999-2008, not 1998-2008. 1999-2008 shows a rising trend.

    While a 10 year trend is not enough to say anything conclusive about GW, it does seem as though it could be meaningful.

    So now you’re solidly in the AGW camp, right? Or are you just going to replace “10” with “11” and blather on about 1998?

    (The nice thing about the diffuse nature of information on the web is that they’ll *never* manage to track down *all* the misinformation sources and replace “last decade” with “since 1998″, etc)

  44. 194
    RichardC says:

    126 Ike says, ” It’s not hard to imagine a future in which most homes have integrated solar roofs – in the future, that might be a part of the building code, just as hot water heaters are included in building codes today.

    Financing such a program is where the difficulty arises”

    Not really. as long as energy costs are included in the mor tgage calculat ion, solar houses will become easier to qualify for than traditional houses. Just takes one small change in banking regulations. It works for cars, too.

  45. 195
    David B. Benson says:

    BillBodell (190) — Carbon dioxide is a global warming (so-called greenhouse) gas. With increased concentrations of it, temperatures will, in the long run rise. There are decadal scale variations to the trend, both up and down, due to the solar cycle and internal climate variability.

    Understand that climate takes a long time, around a decade tells one nothing of significance.

    “Sound and fury, signifying nothing”, hmmm?

  46. 196
    Geoff Wexler says:

    #58 and #82 Geoff Beacon

    “Last year I ran out of energy trying to complain to the BBC”

    Pity because the Swindle team from Channel 4 appear to be moving in on them. Martin Durkin, its author, appeared on BBC 2 Newsnight last week to discuss Franny Armstrong’s new film “Age of Stupid”. This discussion preceded the normal review by the non technical Arts team which made no attempt to challenge global warming. So the earlier discussion might have conveyed the impression that Durkin was the technical expert. He proceeded to trash the film and describe it as pure prejudice. I have no idea what the film is like yet but I’m sure that interview will have discouraged some viewers.

    Of course Martin Livermore who wrote the article for the Green Room (see #58) was Martin Durkin’s ‘scientific’ advisor for the Swindle progamme. I see that he has undergone a transition between the “solar changes caused it” state to the “it does not exist” state.

  47. 197
    Karmakaze says:

    In regards to 180 wmanny:

    I always have to laugh when I see this tired old tactic being used.

    1) Ask a “friendly question”.
    2) Ignore the answer.
    3) Ask the same “friendly question” as if the answer had never been provided.
    4) Ignore the longer more exasperated answer.
    5) Ask the same “friendly question” ignore all previous answers.
    6) Act surprised that the answer is now presented in more annoyed tones.
    7) Say “if you don’t want to answer, I must be on to something!” and declare victory.

    Not a very successful tactic, because anyone with half a brain can see the answer being given several times, but the odd one or two will be fooled into thinking that there is no answer and thus, job done!

  48. 198
    Will Denayer says:

    ‘Martin Durkin, its author, appeared on BBC 2 Newsnight last week to discuss Franny Armstrong’s new film “Age of Stupid”.’

    Did you see this movie already? Three weeks or so ago, I saw an interview on Irish television with an Irish guy who made a movie about ‘GW and other myths (sic)’, mostly propagated by the left, such as Rachel Carson and DDT. The movie deals in part with GW and in part with DDT. That guy – I do not remember his name – struck me as completely stupid and pretentious and had absolutely nothing worthwhile to say. It was disgusting, but hey, he made a movie.

  49. 199
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Ike Solem: Well, I found your comment 83 regarding ENSO – very interesting. I wish there were such a succinct description of how NAM and SAM work. As best I can infer thus far, since horizontal wind shear can distort waves in such a way as to cause them to transport momentum up gradient, strengthenning the basic-state wind shear, then a barotropic (invariant in height) shift in the westerlies could be self-reinforcing or self-strengthenning in how it shapes the life-cycles of transient waves and also how it may interact with more persistent waves (like the quasi-stationary ones). The transient wave activity (mid-latitude storm track activity) is also partly arranged by the time-averaged flow patterns, including quasistationary waves, and those will be affected by thermal and momentum fluxes. … and there are some other articles I’ve found that I have yet to go through…

    What has puzzled me about anthropogenic warming driving NAM and SAM index increases including in the stratosphere, is that this would be the case if the mid-high latitude thermal gradient increased in the stratosphere, but the connection of stratospheric and tropospheric NAM/SAM is mainly in the colder seasons, and I would expect the direct radiative effect of CO2 in the stratosphere would be to cause the greatest cooling of the warmest parts (lower winter midlatitudes, summer high-latitudes), and so reduce the upper-stratospheric westerlies in winter (unless sufficient compensating changes in wind occur at lower levels) – whereas it is easy to understand how solar warming and volcanic cooling (in terms of tropopause level forcing) would warm the lower-latitude stratosphere more than the higher-latitude winter stratosphere and thus cause increases in NAM/SAM. And there’s the ozone hole.

    But it did occur to me that if tropospheric warming is by itself able to shift the storm-tracks poleward (including in winter), then maybe the cloud feedbacks might contribute to an increased temperature gradient in the stratosphere even in winter (by increasing outgoing LW radiation at the tropopause in the subtropics and decreasing it at subpolar latitudes) – but is that in the right latitude belt? Of course, the latitude-height distribution of tropospheric warming would have the same effect in so far as upper levels contribute more to upward LW radiation at the tropopause…

    And of course, the reduced temperature gradient (in the zonal time average) at mid-high latitudes in colder seasons, the increased temperature gradient in the mid-to-upper troposphere, changes in tropopause height, water vapor, and the lapse rate can/will affect mid-latitude storm track behavior.

    Gavin Schmidt had recommended a couple articles to me, … and it occurs to me that I may not have finished one of them, so I’ll get back to that, but if you have any thoughts…

    Regarding your response to Timothy Chase (128), I couldn’t find which comment you were responding to, but here’s my take:

    After stratospheric equilibration, one could espect similar additional changes in both the stratosphere and troposphere in response to similar tropopause-level forcing (warming the troposphere will tend to warm the stratosphere, but adding this to the changes during initial stratospheric equilibration, one of course has warming from solar forcing, cooling from greenhouse forcing, etc.). Differences in the spatial and temporal distribution of forcings will cause different efficacies of forcing (black carbon on snow/ice (that is not too cold) is very effective because it has a maximum warming effect where there is a large positive feedback; perhaps Milankovitch cycles could have negative efficacies because an initial effect of redirecting more sunlight onto snow and ice could be global cooling from increased effective albedo while over time, this could melt/decay the snow and ice and reduce albedo and cause global warming) and different spatial and temporal variations in effects (direct radiative heating of the upper troposphere would tend to reduce the rate of deep convection, for example) – HOWEVER, when the variations in direct forcing are not too large compared to the variations in effects due to feedbacks that act similarly to any global average change (polar cold-season low-level and tropical mid-upper tropospheric amplifications; radiative effects of increased water vapor and resulting effects on convective heat transport), then the total results will tend to look more similar.

  50. 200
    Jim Eaton says:

    A little more on solar thermal. This information was gleaned from a staff person who works for the California Energy Commission. The discussion occurred during our neighborhood Friday happy hour, where our dogs played on the green while the parents sipped wine and kumquat daiquiris, so I hope I have this straight.

    And let me say up front that this is not putting down concentrated solar power, but it points out that many of the initial proposals are far less than perfect.

    The Ivanpah project in the eastern Mojave Desert will use most the water required to wash the mirrors each night. This will be done by slowly driving diesel trucks through the complex spraying water on the mirrors. There is no reclamation of water planned; the water is expected to be evaporated during the next day.

    It was determined that the CO2 emissions from the nightly forays of the trucks would be about the same as if the power plants were burning natural gas instead of capturing the energy of the sun. So there is not a lot of benefit in reducing greenhouse gasses from this particular project.

    And since there is no surface water anywhere near Ivanpah Valley, all of the water would be pumped from whatever aquifer exists below the plant — with uncertainties regarding the dependability of the water supply or the impact on the natural environment.

    Another project being proposed as a “solar” plant near Victorville actually would be powered by natural gas 90 percent of the time, with only 10 percent of the energy coming from the sun.

    Clearly there are concentrated solar technologies that do not use as much fossil fuel or groundwater. But they are not among the proposals being rushed forward at this time. We really need to push for projects that really capture the energy from the sun without the problems outlined above. The best proposals with the best technology should be advanced to show that concentrated solar energy truly is a good source of “clean” energy.


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