Advocacy vs. Science

The advocate will pick up any piece of apparently useful data and without doing any analysis, decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

The scientist will look at all possibilities and revise their thinking based on a thorough assessment of all issues – data quality, model quality and appropriateness of the the comparison. Their conclusion follows from the analysis whatever it points to.

Which one is which?

  1. Jeff from Ohio:

    I think the first definition would better fit the words ‘intellectually lazy’ or ‘emotionally fearful of looking at reality’. I think your definition of ‘scientist’ is spot on. To me, the ‘advocate’ is the person who picks up the conclusion from the scientist and says: “What can I do with this to make the world a better place?” Scientists aren’t SUPPOSED to be advocates or propose policy. However the current state of climate change may require much more of the latter, for the scientists to have a world to study the possibilities of.

  2. Matt Lees:

    Looking at Miriam Webster Online and Wikipedia an Advocate is, essentially, someone who acts on behalf of another and has a specific legal context. The meaning given in Advocacy vs. Science is utterly misconstrued and displays the typical misunderstanding of common English exhibited by the typical Global Warming activist – whether or not he/she is a scientist or a ‘believer’ or ‘follower of the faith’. Other misrepresentations are, for example, ‘Save the World’: irrespective of whether humans have caused global warming the world WILL continue – we just may not be here to witness it.

    [Response: I'm sure that's comforting to you. - gavin]

  3. Corey Watts:

    Speaking as an advocate with a scientific background and who works alongside scientists and scientist-advocates, the dichotomy is a false one. The characterisation of ‘scientist’ is right enough, but I bristle at the strawman ‘advocate’. There is no essential divide between intelligent, intellectually honest advocacy and science. Scientists, moreover, don’t work in a social or political vacuum.

    [Response: Give me a better name then. - gavin]

  4. Matt Y:

    Gavin – I suggest “lobbyist” would work where you used “advocate.” Webster’s would agree. And “lobbyist” already has a negative connotation – which I think suits your purpose nicely (btw, I agree).

    If you et al. here don’t like “lobbyist,” then how about “snake oil salesman”?

  5. Vern Johnson:

    proponent

  6. dhogaza:

    Looking at Miriam Webster Online and Wikipedia an Advocate is, essentially, someone who acts on behalf of another and has a specific legal context.

    In law, true.

    The meaning given in Advocacy vs. Science is utterly misconstrued and displays the typical misunderstanding of common English exhibited by the typical Global Warming activist – whether or not he/she is a scientist or a ‘believer’ or ‘follower of the faith’

    In common english, no …

    Webster also gives this:

    2. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses any cause by argument; a pleader; as, an advocate of free trade, an advocate of truth.

    Amercan Heritage gives this:

    1. One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender: an advocate of civil rights.

    Random House gives this:

    2. a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually fol. by of): an advocate of peace.

    Seems to me that I, a non-denier of climate science, have a better grasp of common english than Matt Lees.

    More humorously, Matt Lees has just demonstrated why the denialist’s favorite tactic – cherry-picking data – leads to epic failure.

  7. Jan Rooth:

    Matt @2:

    Strange, my Websters defines “advocate” as “a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.” Which fits the meaning intended in this post pretty well, I’d say.

  8. caerbannog:

    Here’s another recent (and very amusing) Watts boner: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/26/galactic-cosmic-rays-may-be-responsible-for-the-antarctic-ozone-hole/

    It’s really obvious that Watts did not read (or if he did, understand) the paper in question.

  9. Andrew:

    Put me in the advocate category. As a well educated adult (MS Mech Engineering, MBA Columbia) I had no idea – until I saw An Inconvenient Truth – that human beings had reconfigured the earth’s atmosphere in such a dramatic way over such a short period of human history. When I also learned that this reconfiguration could have had serious implications for the stability of the earth’s climate system, I became an advocate. Now I am learning from climate scientists like Mark Chandler, Linda Sohl and Christy Vedeer at GISS, I am working with Tom Lovejoy of the Heinz Center to understand how biosystems are being affected by climate change, and I have formed a business consortium called InTERRAction to encourage business enterprises to see themselves as systems, and as subsystems of a global economic system that eventually must be aligned with the earth’s ecosystem.

    I can speak pretty coherently to lay people about the basics of climate change, but the work that Dr. Lindzen puts out makes me look sort of out of place – as in who would listen to me about the dangers of AGW when someone with the credentials of a Richard Lindzen thinks the opposite.

    Is it sufficent (or indeed proper) to say that Lindzen is just an indignant scientist whose ideas have been rejected by his peers, and leave it at that?

  10. Ray Ladbury:

    One can be an activist and a scientist, but I’m afraid I agree with Gavin: a scientist cannot affort to fall in love with (i.e. advocate for) a theory. If you don’t like “advocate,” try one of my favorites: ignorant food tube.

  11. Lawrence Brown:

    Sometimes you need to tell your friends when you think they are wading in shark infested waters. A blanket criticism of advocates(if indeed you are criticizing them) over scientists doesn’t always work, at least not here. Al Gore is an advocate, who has studied the warming problem in depth, has worked hard to learn the facts and has presented them fairly and accurately. Freeman Dyson, the scientist, for all his laurels. is spouting nonsense when it comes to global climate change. He calls Gore an opportunist without any evidence to back it up. Gore isn’t running for public office, isn’t looking for any accolades(the Nobel people came to him) as far as I can see.So much for the scientific method in this case.
    So Dyson is a scientist and Gore is not. Lest the scientists go on a wrong way ego trip, the advocate has the correct stance in this instance.

  12. David B. Benson:

    Andrew (9) — I suggest being ultra-polite and leave off the “indignant” bit.

  13. Hank Roberts:

    Newspapers have similar concerns. This is the WSJ’s ‘Style’ blog
    (brief excerpt, see link for full item)

    ——
    March 31, 2009, 11:32 am
    Vol. 22, No. 3

    The tilt of the talking heads

    … we should limit our quoting of analysts and other “expert” talking heads and that, when we do quote them, we should try as hard as we can to suggest the ideological tilt of their organizations, as in left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, libertarian Cato Institute, etc.

    … also dislikes the misuse of “concede” and “acknowledge” in stories instead of “said” when the subjects involved are stating matters of opinion. …. Claimed, incidentally, is better avoided except in cases where skepticism on the matter is generally known.

    On the subject of preferences why do we use fancy names like financial account executives? They are commonly brokers, just as sanitation engineers are usually just janitors or garbage collectors. Dysphemize those euphemisms….

    ——–

    From: http://blogs.wsj.com/styleandsubstance/

  14. James:

    I also think that advocate is the wrong word to use. It’s not in the least opposite or conflicting with science, as scientists’ evaluation of evidence often leads them to become advocates for or against certain policies.

    I’m not quite sure what the appropriate word is, though. I’ll suggest believer. Believers may hold their positions for some reason unrelated to the science (e.g. God just wouldn’t allow climate change”), or they may become attached to some theory that seems reasonable in the light of the evidence at the time they adopt the belief. (See “paradigm shift.) In either case, they seem to become incapable of re-evaluating their beliefs in the light of new evidence.

  15. Mike Strong:

    So. Can anyone PLEASE create a forum where the skeptics and the AGW advocats can actually debate, present data and go at it? One on one? RealClimate.org, just like McIntyre, Anthony Watts and Icecap.org, each side shows its bias by listing links and posting blog supporters but snipping out the opposition from the posts and website links.

    I REALLY would like to see a REAL debate in cyberspace and in public. Point and counterpoint, rather than sniping at each other. Sniping is unprofessional, but peer review (even with doubters) is how we must discipline ourselves as engineers and scientists. It is the basis of science theory versus truth.

    Recently, I have been having an email debate with Joe Romm at ClimateProgress.org …where I presented my opinion versus his (I am also a liberal, a conserver and recycler with a small car). And I voted for Obama.

    I was called a person who wears a “tin foil hat”, a “dude” and that I would probably be put in jail if my opinions on AGW were similar to my work. There were also statements that skeptic opinions were “debunked long ago” and the “debate is over”. I can’t see that there has ever been an open debate. Where? When? Who were the debaters?

    Can you folks publish BOTH sides, then debate, rather than just posting what your beliefs are true. As an engineer, I must agree that we all need to look in the mirror and be unbaised, not entrench ourselves in our own camps like Sunnis versus Shiites.

    Mike Strong
    San Diego, CA

  16. wmanny:

    11. “Al Gore is an advocate, who has studied the warming problem in depth, has worked hard to learn the facts and has presented them fairly and accurately. Freeman Dyson, the scientist, for all his laurels, is spouting nonsense when it comes to global climate change.”

    RC moderator’s non-response to this statement is an example of what I believe earns RC its “advocacy site” label.

  17. Jeff from Ohio:

    #13. According to dictionary.com, ‘Dysphemize’ is not a word. Although maybe it’s a joke I’m not getting.

  18. bruced:

    So Mike Strong wants to debate our beliefs. Sorry mate, but beliefs are about e.g. how many heads your god(s) have i.e. untestable and debates on science went out around the time of Galileo. Science is about data, hypotheses (hopefully multiple) and repeatability. Mind you as a grey-haired geochemist I’ve seen enough in my career to think the “scientist” portrayed in the comments is very idealized. Science can go up blind alleys and much rubbish does make it into journals despite peer review. And denial is not a new aspect of science. It is an unfortunate aspect of over-sized egos which too frequently overcome commonsense and genuine skepticism.

  19. Russ Doty:

    While it is undoubtedly good to agree on terms, I would rather see us agreed on action than debate whether scientists can be advocates, and vice versa. You all have an opportunity to cut nighttime electricity use in your city by up to 60% with LED street and parking lot lights. And you can get much of it funded with 2009 Stimulus money. Those scientists who wish to act on their well-reasoned and thoroughly researched positions can join in my advocacy by going to http://www.newworldwindpower.com for some LED advocacy tools you can use to help.

  20. Hank Roberts:

    > a forum … actually debate, present data, and go at it

    There is one!

    Do you know how to use Google Scholar?
    Clickety:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=climate+change+CO2+warming

    Anybody who’s good enough at doing science to be worth listening to on this subject can be found that way.

    Start with a search like that, and narrowing it down.

    Oh, did you mean a place for the peanut gallery to opinionate?

  21. Richard Ordway:

    Lindzen writes in his piece linked above: “…climate predictions…”

    Wow!!! So legitimate climate scientists are using the word “predictions” now!

  22. Andrew:

    I think Idealogue is the best description of folks like Dyson and Lindzen. “Idealogues VS Scientists….”

    A lot of AGW deniers are simply against the idea that the environmental movement is socially useful.

    Some environmental groups have gone out of their way to embrace AGW solutions that would normally be taboo for them such as nuclear power or coal fired power plants with carbon capture and sequestration. This is obviously an effort to sway anti-environmental movement idealogues that the environmental movement is serious about the need to find a solution to AGW regardless of its source.

    Likewise, the Obama administration goes out of its way to mention that coal use is still ok if CCS is used; despite the fact that it is probably a pipe dream and also really PO’s Joe Romm. In other words they are screaming to the deniers “We Are Not Idealogues!” who are against coal or nuclear or any other true solution.

    I’ve thought that one weak argument that a lot of climate scientists make and one that could betray their secret environmentalists tendacies (idealogy) is their dismissal of climate adjusting actions such as seeding the ocean with iron or doing a Matrix on the atmosphere (“We did that” – Morpheus) with sulfur dioxide clouds. Though more research has proven this original sentiment right.

    By going out of their way to share data and ideas and by setting up blogs such as Real Climate; scientists are defeating the best efforts of idealogues. Keep it up.

  23. Evan Jones:

    I must object to one of the above posts.

    As a moderator on Anthony Watts’ blog, I assure you that we never, ever snip a view merely because it is pro- or con- AGW or disputes something that is posted.

    We have many passionately pro-AGW posters and they are valued members and welcome guests. (And I believe in some cases, even moderators, themselves.)

    At any rate, we are–very–light on the delete button and generally lean on it only in cases of personal attack on fellow-commenters. (We are not known for being strict topic cops, either, though we have been known to thump the old nightstick on the garbage can on rare occasions.)

    So, if you want to debate on WUWT, jump on in, the water’s, um, warm. We won’t delete you unless you are–really–cruising for a bruising.

    Thanks for allowing me to comment on this.

  24. Mark A. York:

    The so-called debate is within the paradigm of of AGW is real and the basic facts are well-defined and supported by solid research with observable data. What some folks want is equal time and weight for out and out misinformation and energy industry propaganda. That’s the sort of affirmative action science doesn’t allow or should.

  25. Larry:

    There are some advocates who are set in their views and won’t change them under any circumstances, and other advocates who will change their positions if they are fairly falsified. Also in the latter class, there are those who openly seek falsification, as a means of confirming that at least for the moment they are justified in believing that they are pursuing a good path.

    Also, I am not sure where science would be without two sides of some hypothesis or theory advocating their positions and competing their way to a more settled general understanding. One will eventually prevail, although the other may continue to twitch its tail for a long time.

  26. Ike Solem:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-climate2-2009apr02,0,1696993.story

    By Bettina Boxall
    6:20 PM PDT, April 1, 2009

    “As California warms in coming decades, farmers will have less water, the state could lose more than a million acres of cropland and forest fire rates will soar, according to a broad-ranging state report released Wednesday.”

    “The document, which officials called the “the ultimate picture to date” of global warming’s likely effect on California, consists of 37 research papers that examine an array of issues including water supply, air pollution and property losses.”

  27. Andy Heninger:

    #15: “I can’t see that there has ever been an open debate. Where? When? Who were the debaters?”

    The “debate” if you will, took place over the course of more than 100 years, as people struggled to understand the history of the ice ages, to improve weather predictions, to understand the factors that determine climate, and much more. Many players, many theories proposed and refined or discarded, as the pieces of the puzzle were worked out and more and more threads of data were accumulated.

    It’s a fascinating history. Start with “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart.

    Do your homework before calling for a pointless online “debate”

  28. Edward Greisch:

    Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person's head isn't public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or another instrument.]
    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments.

    Reference:
    “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
    Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”

  29. chris colose:

    gavin– Are you aware of to what extent researchers are using this data to put constraints on cloud feedbacks? It seems that once you’ve accounted for surface albedo changes, the anomaly is SW reflected energy could define the shortwave component of cloud feedback…or one could simply define the SW reflective feedback without any distinction between clouds, ice, etc. Of course, you would have to widen the view outside the tropics for a global perspective.

    Even if we use the older data that Lindzen used, it is not immediately self-evident that feedbacks are negative, since you’d need to examine the SW component of the picture as well.

  30. bi -- IJI:

    It’s known that Watts is very much a political activist.

    It also happens that what Watts is doing isn’t good science… but as others have pointed out, whether one is an activist has no relation to whether one’s doing good science.

    In fact, it’s the inactivists who were trying to sell the idea of “science vs. advocacy” in the first place, and we’ll do well to avoid falling into their framing trap.

    bi

  31. Alessandro:

    Wow, you made me do what I never dared to. You made me hit that link for wattsupwiththat. Now you’ll be proud of yourself.

  32. Craig Allen:

    My God! You prompted me to have a look at that ‘Whats up with That’ site. That place is a zoo! And someone has spiked the bananas.

  33. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #15 Mike Strong

    The debate has little to do with the science. The science is merely the science, GHG’s, forcing, atmospheric lifetime of Co2, oceanic thermal inertia, etc.

    If people can learn the science and see the relevant context of what they are discussing, the arguing will stop on the major components of what is now well known.

    Lot’s of things are well known and lots of things are less known. We just need to look at it all more reasonably.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/what-we-dont-know

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/what-we-know

    However, if you look through realclimate, you will find that both sides are discussed reasonably in many cases and vociferously from time to time.

    In my opinion, realclimate is the best climate science blog. I have not found a better more trustworthy discussion of the science anywhere.

  34. donald moore:

    WE have seen in the past the ‘false prophets’ with moveable dates who as the time of their prophecy fulfilment approaches begin to reassess the dates and extend them.Such is modern science based on computer projections which constantly change their minds.The so called evidence that ‘antarctica is stable and not showing signs of melting’then the equally sudden about face ‘now antarctica is melting’bring the word science into disrepute it has become not evidence based but speculative and there needs to be a clear distinction between the two to preserve the integrity of science the words ‘scientists predict’ should not be mentioned.If you do predict do it in your own name not in the name of science

  35. CM:

    Gavin’s point about advocates in scientists’ clothing is clear and fair in context. But “advocate” has positive connotations in ordinary use (cf. #6). And science-based advocacy does exist. “Lobbyist” may be too specific, “believer” raises thorny side issues.

    With apologies to the WW II resistance, might “partisan” work?

    (Or would Americans just think of Republicans vs Democrats in Congress?)

    #17: Try ‘dysphemism, dysphemistic’ in analogy with ‘to euphemize’.

  36. Mark:

    “Sometimes you need to tell your friends when you think they are wading in shark infested waters”

    However, the denialist would tell you off and that there is NO SHARK there. Until he gets bitten by one. Which he may then say was a good thing since now he can join the paralympics or has just lost a huge amount of weight. And now could a doctor please stop the bleeding…

  37. Tom Woods:

    I’d never thought I’d be saying this but I think this site has descended to the murky depths.

    I used to come here to read up on the latest climate science, however, recently this site has become nothing more than rantings against the latest ‘climate skeptic’ whom the authors of this blog have a gripe with interspersed with the occasional article discussing what I thought this site was really all about ‘climate science from climate scientists’.

    I guess if that’s what the authors of this site want their blog to be about, that’s fine; it is their site. But as it currently stands, I see no difference between this site and the daily rantings of skeptic sites and I expected better. I know it must be frustrating to a scientist in the field to see findings and facts misrepresented but it’s equally frustrating to see new science take a back seat to beating a dead horse and I thought we were past that stage.

  38. Mark:

    “Can you folks publish BOTH sides, then debate”

    Apologies for taking an extreme example, but Mike would you ask that the case of the paedophile be debated on both PRO and ANTI?

    How about pro- and anti- murder? It reduces the surplus population. And if cannibalism is involved, there’s even a reduction in waste.

    You never see them argued, do you.

    Why the bias???

    Would any maths classroom have to include the alternatives to 1+1=2 just because YOU can’t prove that it’s true?

    There isn’t a “both sides”. There’s a load of bollocks on one side and the two sides left are in science and pro AGW. Both sides. Take a look at the IPCC reports. In there you see both “this is known” and “this is unknown” where the methods or simulations of climate are well understood and achieve good accuracy and where they are not well understood or even understood to be wrong.

    BOTH SIDES are in the IPCC report.

    This denialist crap is not a side. It’s a nihilism.

  39. Mark:

    “RC moderator’s non-response to this statement is an example of what I believe earns RC its “advocacy site” label.”

    Ah, excellent. wmanny comes up again with the statement and nothing of substance.

    a) how is it an example of RC’s advocacy?
    b) why is a non-response indicative of RC advocacy?
    c) why is the non-response to your post not an example against your thesis?
    d) why do you feel the quote you took was wrong?

    You’d just rather fling poo like a monkey at a zoo. And about the same level of thought in it too.

  40. Barton Paul Levenson:

    How about “partisan?”

    [edit]

  41. Mark:

    “I’d never thought I’d be saying this but I think this site has descended to the murky depths.”

    Why’s that Tom? Must the latest skeptic to be listened to with credulity in our hearts just because he’s a skeptic and that thinking “What a numrod” when the idiot shows himself up in his diatribe?

  42. Mark:

    “Also, I am not sure where science would be without two sides of some hypothesis or theory advocating their positions and competing their way to a more settled general understanding.”

    Two sides? Why must there be only two?

    But where you also make a mistake is in thinking that the denialosphere has a hypothesis. Their closest element to a hypothesis is “AGW isn’t happening”.

    Not really a hypothesis unless all you see on the IPCC report is a hypothesis of “AGW is happening”, in which case you need to start thinking.

  43. Ray Ladbury:

    Donald M00re @34

    News flash, Don: Antarctica is frickin’ big. It’s a whole continent. So East Antarctica can be relatively stable while the WAIS is sliding into the sea. I’m sorry the real world is too complicated to fit into your tiny, little conception of it. However, science (except for psychology) deals with the real world. You can either live in it with us, or you can continue to live in a pretend, simple world. Your choice.

  44. Deech56:

    In our discussion about semantics, maybe we should just go with which post was scientific. Chris Colose’s excellent post took into consideration the latest data; Lindzen’s did not. If Lindzen’s post were a manuscript submission, he would have been dinged for not even considering the corrected data – it wasn’t used nor was the reason for its omission justified.

    I find it odd that Lindzen’s behavior was excused at WUWT with the explanation that this was just some e-mail food for thought. Misleading information is misleading information.

  45. Ray Ladbury:

    Mike Strong wants to debate “both sides” of the climate issue. OK, on the one side, we have 90% of those who are actively publishing in climate science, and over 95% of the most knowledgeable folks on the subject, and on the other…. oh dear…
    We have anti-science, as exemplified by Watts et al. We have bad science, as exemplified by certain scientists that seem to pick the dataset by which one best fits their preconceived argument. Now, until recently, I would have left it there, but upon reading Gerlich and Tscheuchner, I find I must also add the category of execrable science/self-parody.

    Mike, would you care to let us know what YOU find credible on the anti-science side?

    Now we can certainly debate how to handle the threats posed by climate change. There’s plenty to debate there, and sites like Climate Progress are a reasonable place to start. I would suggest that the scientific consensus, however, is a reasonable prerequisite as a starting point.

  46. DavidCOG:

    Tom Woods,

    > …this site has become nothing more than rantings against the latest ‘climate skeptic’ whom the authors of this blog have a gripe…

    To one person it’s ranting, to others it’s authoritative deconstruction. To one person it’s having a “gripe”, to others it’s exposing dangerous anti-science idiocy.

    > …I see no difference between this site and the daily rantings of skeptic sites…

    Really? You can’t tell the difference between science and ignorance, distortion and lies?

    So you would prefer that the Deniers are left in peace? Let their output go unchallenged? I’m sure they would just love that….

  47. Ike Solem:

    You know, I have to agree with Tom Woods – I thought for sure that realclimate would be interested in looking into the lastest Science paper on aerosols over the Atlantic, and would explain that in some detail.

    Also, what about the subtropical drying trend? That’s undiscussed on realclimate as well – instead, we get articles like “Advice for a young climate blogger.”

    I actually thought for a second that you really were shutting down, and that’s because the articles have tapered off, right as the leadup to the Copenhagen conference is happening.

    There are dozens and dozens of sites that comment on the politics of global warming and the various other issues outside the science – but this is the only one that tends to give reliable scientific analysis – so please, can we get back to that?

    There are literally dozens of new papers on climate science, many of which are significant updates to the IPCC FAR – so can’t we cover them?

    Another thing: please, climate scientists, don’t get involved in the energy debate without doing the hard work – and that doesn’t mean talking to your colleagues down the hall, because you don’t have any renewable energy scientists in your institutions – so if you’re going to spend all this time going after the WSJ and Cato and Heritage, then you open yourself up to charges of massive hypocrisy – what about the corruption in your own scientific institutes? What is your opinion of NASA and DSCOVR? What is your opinion of the DOE budget? Aren’t those more important questions than whatever Lindzen is doing?

    Lindzen can be refuted with one sentence:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/310/5749/841

    Soden et. al 2005 “The Radiative Signature of Upper Tropospheric Moistening”

    What do you tell people who want to go into renewable energy research? How many academics are willing to tell the truth – that their cherished academic institutions have become hotbeds of corruption and secrecy as corporate interests have taken over the decision-making process at the top tiers of major universities? Do you really think BP and Exxon and coal-fired utilities and other “public-private partnerships” are the least bit interested in seeing their fossil fuel market disappear due to renewable competition? No, of course not – but academics are so blinkered by institutional loyalty and the demand of “collegiality” that few are willing to speak the obvious truth – fear being the main issue. Fear of losing one’s job, that is.

    So, please, stop it. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while, but I am very reluctant to criticize realclimate – but please, the value of your site and the reason for its popular appeal is that it focuses on science, not on propaganda and politics. If you are not going to continue writing the kind of outstanding reviews of scientific articles that we’ve seen in the past, maybe the site really should be shut down.

    Don’t let the ankle-biters get under your skin – really, people love the science writing from this site, and they want you to keep it up.

  48. Alan of Oz:

    Linzden is the…what’s the word…ah yes…psuedo-skeptic. ;)

  49. Timothy Telleen-Lawton:

    The only problem with the given definition of “advocate” is that it implies that the purpose of the advocate is to discover truth, but that the he fails and never changes opinions. I agree with #22 that this definition better fits the word “ideologue”.

    An advocate, on the other hand, has chosen a side (hopefully with the open-mind of a scientist) and fights for that side. Like an idealogue, an advocate is more likely to exploit a new piece of data for his purposes rather than continuously re-evaluate his opinion. But to have a positive impact on the world, a good advocate (and almost any good actor) must periodically re-examine the world with a scientist’s mind, before ploughing back into the fight.

  50. Tenney Naumer:

    Gee… Anthony snipped me. All I did was say that he had egg on his face — permanently.

  51. spilgard:

    Re #15:
    Over the past several hundred years, a series of forums have been created for the exchange of valid debate. They are still quite active and spirited today, and are known collectively as “the reputable scientific journals”. Of course, the fact that a viable alternative explanation for existing climate trends has not appeared simply demonstrates the censorship stranglehold exerted by the IPCC and the global cabal of funding vampires in their determination to suppress The Truth.

  52. Tenney Naumer:

    Re: #15

    Dear Mike Strong,

    The debate IS over.

    Real Climate is infinitely patient with learners. If you have serious questions, then ask them.

  53. sidd:

    “The so called evidence that ‘antarctica is stable and not showing signs of melting’then the equally sudden about face ‘now antarctica is melting’… ”

    Not so. Weertman and Mercer warned, three decades ago, that West Antarctica was unstable.

  54. Tenney Naumer:

    For all those commenters begging Real Climate to get back to just the science and stick to it, remember that it is best to nip this type of thing (WUWT Lindzen thingy) in the bud, asap, with humor, and then get on with it.

    And this blog will now be a particularly good resource for all the new MSM “science” reporters who have no background in science.

  55. SecularAnimist:

    “Advocacy vs. Science” is a false dichotomy. Plenty of advocates — e.g. folks who advocate measures to reduce CO2 emissions — are thoroughly committed to scientific empiricism.

    Indeed, effective advocacy of action to deal with anthropogenic global warming depends on science. And not only on climate science, but on (for example) the various scientific and engineering disciplines related to alternative energy technologies, which are crucial to understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and cost-effectiveness of various alternatives to carbon-based fuels. And not only on the “hard” sciences, but on economics (for example, to understand the likely relative merits of carbon taxes vs. cap-and-trade etc.) and other “social” sciences.

    Within some narrow point you are trying to make about pseudo-scientific AGW denialists, the distinction between “advocates” of discredited or unsupported hypotheses who deliberately misrepresent evidence, and impartial “scientists” who are committed to the findings of empirical observation, may have some value.

    But you are tarring all “advocates” with far too big a brush.

  56. George Ray:

    Excellent blog.

    Based on your definition, I would suggest a better word than Advocate would be Politician. This would be even more relevant where money was involved. Money being defined broadly to include speaking fees, government funding, etc… (not just the often common spin that all money is “big business money”).

    On the scientist side you should add that a scientist welcomes debate/critique and is as transparent as possible so that others could replicate their findings. A sure sign of a faux-scientist (regardless of title, degree or peer group) is one that stifles open debate and/or frustrates attempts at replication.

    It takes courage to be a scientist.

  57. Russ Doty:

    Did anybody read # 19? Regardless of your view on this topic, it is something you can agree on. You can generate more (LED) light than “heat” over the advocacy or science debate, and cut CO2 from nighttime electricity by 60% or save $$ whatever is your priority.. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/caliper_round_7_summary_final.pdf Two LED street lights now have positive 15-year NPV. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/gatewaydemos_results.html You can get 2009 stimulus money to fund the transition. And energy star has also now qualified 26+ indoor products. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=ssl.display_products_com_pdf

  58. pete best:

    This is the best site on AGW available as it is written scientists who are talking about AGW science. Proper peer reviewed stuff and from a reputable establishment, GISS no less. I have been here two years now and it is the best. What other access to the science does us laymen have, this one will always be the best.

    Do not listen to anyone who asks this place to be stopped, it would be a fatal (ok serious maybe) mistake to make.

  59. Aaron Lewis:

    “Apologist”; as in one who defends a religious sect.

    [Response: Hmmm... yes, but Lindzen doesn't seem the apologetic type. - gavin]

  60. dennis baker:

    http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/010/0001/0001/0012/0002/0008/s7_e.htm

    The argument that scientists support this deferral technology carries little weight, as we’ve all heard from expert scientists who have disputed the dangers associated with smoking, disputed the dangers associated with toxic chemicals such as DDT, and promoted the use of Thalidomide. Individual economic reality all too often dictates the support of irresponsible academia.

  61. Mark:

    [Response: Hmmm… yes, but Lindzen doesn’t seem the apologetic type. - gavin]

    How about apologoplectic? A word I just made up for someone who’d go apoplectic if they ever apologised?

  62. bi -- IJI:

    Mark:

    But where you also make a mistake is in thinking that the denialosphere has a hypothesis. Their closest element to a hypothesis is “AGW isn’t happening”.

    I think the denialosphere’s hypothesis is more like “There’s no global warming, and even if there is, we should do nothing about it unless it involves stuff that goes ka-boom. Also, Al Gore is fat.”

    bi

  63. Ike Solem:

    Speaking of MSM reporters who don’t cover climate science very well – they’re not very lkely to change. I had a rather long back-and-forth conversation with a reporter from the Union-Tribune regarding his claims that La Nina was the culprit behind California’s drought:

    http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/06/1n6weather0030-la-ni241-blamed-more-drought/

    Our discussion eventually culminated in this response:

    Ike:

    I stick by my story. There’s nothing inaccurate in there. If NONE of my sources even MENTION global warming as a cause of current weather patterns, cramming it in there is not only irresponsible, it would make me look ridiculous. I talk with these people often. None of them deny the influence of of global warming. You can argue about whether it’s a La Nina or not. That may be debatable. But if the story is about La Nina, you talk about La Nina – not global warming.

    You make the same mistake naysayers do all the time. You confuse weather and short-term patterns with global-warming impacts. It’s no more accurate to point the finger at global warming every time it gets hot and dry, than it is to deny global warming exists every time it gets cold. We have a few days of cold weather down here, and all the idiots start talking about how stupid Al Gore is. It’s infuriating. But what you’re doing is no better.

    Whether you want to admit it or not, there are natural cycles out there that have been going on since before global warming became a factor, and these fluctuations will continue to play a role. You want to blame everything on global warming. I’ve spoken with some of the most respected climatologists in the world, many who have worked on the various IPCC reports. Every one of them says there’s no way to make a definitive link between global warming and any one CURRENT event. They emphasize the overall trends and the big picture. They’ll say this pattern is indicative of what you’d EXPECT due to global warming, but they won’t attribute current weather conditions to global warming.

    I sent you those links to show you that there is plenty to be said about global warming, and I’ve been saying some of it. And I’m just one reporter here at the paper. There have been many more GW stories in the Union-Tribune by other reporters, some of them dealing with the issue you bring up – GW’s influence on the Western drought.

    But you obviously have built-in biases and blind spots. You’re busy concocting conspiracy theories and looking for boogeymen everywhere. I’m sure you’ll continue to find them, often in places where they don’t exist. You’re convinced the media is part of some grand deniers’ scheme. You’re just flat-out wrong.

    However, what kind of response should I give? The reporter seemed to think that my “cause” is global warming – but it’s not – if anything, it’s to get the media to report accurately on a wide variety of scientific issues, global warming and renewable energy being among the most important.

    I had already gone through the routine of explaining politely how La Nina was rather weak, and that the main warming trend was also reflected in wildfires, in snowpack, in the soil moisture, and that it also matched the latest predictions of coupled atmospheric-ocean models – to no avail. The truth is what the paper says it is, and I am simply concocting “conspiracy theories”.

    And the story – about La Nina? Here is the headline, as printed:

    CALIFORNIA’S WATER: A VANISHING RESOURCE
    La Niña blamed for more drought

    Funny, the story seems to be about the long-term water crisis facing California, doesn’t it, with La Nina being the culprit – and a drought is not a “single event”, it’s a the result of a great number of events – all the rainstorms, all the heat waves, all the snowfall events, the snowmelt events, and the human demand on top of that, integrated over several years.

    If that’s the typical press mentality (I couldn’t get Andrew Revkin of the NYT to retract his claim that the atmospheric brown cloud over the Indian Ocean was “mostly due to the smoke from dung and wood fires”, either), then how do we make progress? There is a deliberate refusal among science reporters and their editors and publishers to go back and acknowledge error – and that fits the behavior of various climate denialists as well – for example, Roger Pielke Sr. never bothered to alter any of his numerous blog posts on the Lyman cooling paper (with the bad data?), and “science reporters” from places like examiner.com then link to that site as a proof that the ocean is cooling. That’s not science – that’s propaganda.

    Thus, I think the real question isn’t about the difference between science and advocacy, but rather about the difference between science and propaganda.

    In any case, I’ve never met a scientist that wasn’t an advocate for their own projects and funding schedules, believe me – but that’s how the peer-reviewed grant process works – you have to demonstrate that what you do is of some value, or you won’t get funded. In today’s world, you also have to be sure that your work isn’t pissing off some powerful corporate conglomerate that has a public-private partnership with your administration… a separate topic, I suppose.

  64. MarkB:

    The standard response from contrarians seems to be ignoring the corrected data, as is always the case when the corrections go against their pre-determined hypothesis. Example (from Watts):

    “I know that many of us here don’t trust “corrections” applied to data.”

    Certainly, when corrections lead to conclusions of higher climate sensitivity, or more warming, they don’t trust it and claim scientists are biased towards warming. At the same time, when corrections lead to less warming or imply lower sensitivity, they claim the scientists had an “AGW” bias to begin with (note the average contrarian obsession over NASA data, for example). This allows them to cover all bases.

    Re: #32:

    Yeah, I get that impression too, although it seems a bit insulting to zoo animals. Most of them tend to be a bit more calm and rational.

  65. MarkB:

    I forgot to ask: has anyone contacted Lindzen about this obvious oversight? Any response? It’s hard to assume good faith from someone who should have known better, but I’ll give him a chance.

  66. James:

    Russ Doty Says (2 April 2009 at 10:18 AM):

    “Did anybody read # 19? Regardless of your view on this topic, it is something you can agree on…”

    Yes, I read it, and looked at the link. For me it’s irrelevant. First, I can’t advocate the use of LED streetlights in my city, because I don’t live in a city. Second, I have a logical problem advocating the use of low-energy outdoor lighting. What I really want is for unused lights to be turned off entirely: http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do Reducing lighting energy use (& therefore cost) just makes it more attractive to leave existing lights on, or install more.

  67. wmanny:

    Lindzen:

    “Recently, Wong et al (Wong, Wielicki et al, 2006, Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data, J. Clim., 19, 4028-4040) have reassessed their data to reduce the magnitude of the anomaly, but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments.”

    From a presentation some time in the last two years. Haven’t found anything more specific yet.

  68. Hank Roberts:

    > 19, 66, LED street lights.

    Sorry, they’re using the wrong wavelength. Stick with the amber sodium vapor. The LED lights are like cheaper fluorescents, with a blue-violet emitter and a phosphor, producing more glare. Big, big mistake. Use only enough light to get the job done. Use long wavelength light:

    docs.darksky.org/Docs/ida_wildlife_brochure.pdf

    There’s a huge amount of cheap blue-white LEDs out there looking for a use. Avoid the stuff.
    http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/sci_update.cfm?DocID=170

    The industry PR folks went ballistic about the science as soon as it started to be published, going on 8 years ago now — that’s where the scare stories are coming from, because of the growing impact on both medicine and city/building design of the science about the effects of short-wavelength (blue) light at night. It’s not just turtles and birds, it’s people too.

    The first study is cited here, in the first industry PR broadside trying to minimize it from 2001. You can follow that forward from there:
    Brainerd et al. Action spectrum for melatonin regulation in humans: evidence for novel circadian photoreceptor. Journal of Neuroscience 2001;21:6405. …
    http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.1022/healthissue_detail.asp

    The leaving-little-babies-shivering-in-fear-in-total-darkness nonsense comes from those people. You’ll see it often now. They’re ignoring the fact that long wavelength (amber-yellow) light doesn’t cause problems at night, not for turtles, or birds, or people. They’re pushing cheap lights. Eschew.

    Look it up.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=melatonin+light+wavelength+lighting+sleep
    ______________________
    “domestic designer” … hat tip to ReCaptcha’s AI

  69. Ike Solem:

    Oh please, not again… what is this, the broken record? Here is my first ever post on Richard Lindzen on realclimate (though I had been watching his antics for at least a decade before that). Unedited, warts and all:

    Begin:
    # Ike Solem Says:
    15 February 2006 at 2:0 AM

    Re #1 and #2,

    I had thought that the actual difference in Milankovich forcing (between extremes) was much smaller then current CO2 et al forcing. Are Milankovich cycles seen as a trigger for postive feedbacks going into or out of glacial periods? But then, ice records show associated CO2 changes, but is this the chicken or the egg? In any case, how much can we learn about our current interglacial but getting warmer situation from looking only at the past millions of years of glacial/interglacial cycles? Glacial cycles are apparently associated with a drying and cooling of the atmosphere. It seems that a warmer world would be a wetter world, unlike Lindzens argument r.e. water vapor feedbacks.

    From listening to Lindzen, it seems he believes strongly in stable equilibrium – the notion that a stable system will respond to stress in such a manner as to restore stability. This is still a valid scientific viewpoint, which could account for Lindzen’s credibility. Some systems (buffers, for example) display this behavior, but it doesn’t seem to apply to the climate system, which has many positive feedbacks (pebbles starting avalanches). The large swings of glacial cycles and sea levels in the absence of any human perturbation should suggest a relatively sensitive climate, especially if the glacial/interglacial switches occurred very rapidly (100-1000 years?).

    Lindzen should consider that an honest approach to the problem involves openminded consideration of all possible forcings and feedbacks, not just those that happen to fit with one’s notions. Calling people ‘alarmists’ and suggesting they are trying to terrify the public into funding science is reducing a scientific debate to a political squabble. In any scientific area one can find a dissenting scientific opinion, whether you are talking about the K-T boundary and the extinction of the dinosaurs, quantum mechanical theories, or whatever. Generally, unless they have some startling new evidence, outliers to general scientific consensus are not handed bullhorns and invited to speak to Parliament.

    End.

  70. John Burgeson:

    http://www2.canada.com/topics/technology/science/story.html?id=1456186

    is an article (one of many posted in the last day) on a NOAA report. The post says “Climate change not all man-made, report says”

    When I googled the text, I found the actual NOAA report at

    http://www.climate.noaa.gov/education/docs/Climate_Literacy_CCSP_final_030609.doc

    It boggles my mind to see how the posts (there are many, all parroting the same line) can read the original NOAA report and treat it as they do.

    Comments anyone? Am I missing something?

    Burgy

  71. Ray Ladbury:

    Lindzen: “…and there is reason to question the new adjustments.”

    Translation: Give me ambiguity or give me something else…

    Well, I guess since Lindzen is not trying to convince an audience with any scientific sophistication, this suffices for his purposes.

  72. Ray Ladbury:

    Burgie, the article in question is from Canada’s National Post Mortem. No more need be said. The credibility of said rag is less than zero. If I read in the Post that it was sunny, I’d buy an umbrella.

  73. Hank Roberts:

    Gavin, I’d nominate this site for consideration in your sidebar. Hope you’ll take a look a few times and see what you think. From today’s:
    http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/environmental_law/

    “Science – Scientists Track Changes in Oceanic Biological Productivity Caused by Climate Change

    What a tangled web we weave….. everything really is connected to everything. Over the past several decades, the climate of the western shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has been changing from a cold, dry polar climate to a warmer, more humid climate marked by retreating glaciers. As a result, populations of species that depend on sea ice — such as krill and Adelie penguins — are being displaced poleward and replaced by other species that are typically averse to ice. According to Montes-Hugo et al. in the 13 Mar 2009 Science…”

  74. MarkB:

    Re: #70

    Yeah, that is pretty lousy reporting. First, note the strawman:

    “Most climate researchers today deal exclusively with man-made “greenhouse” gases, and often dismiss suggestions of naturally caused warming as unscientific.”

    What? Most climate researchers only study manmade GHGs? That’s news to me.

    The article starts by intentionally blurring the line between regional North American climate, which the study addresses, and global climate. Here is another article that has similar spin:

    “Natural causes also responsible for global warming: Scientists”

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Natural+causes+also+responsible+global+warming+Scientists/1453524/story.html

    Again, they reference the same study that covers North American climate, not global climate. Here is the study:

    http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap1-3/sap1-3-final-ch3.pdf

    The article claims:

    “It estimates the “natural” change is substantial and could be close to half of all warming in North America”

    This is an error, largely of omission, since the study indicates that natural forcing in North America might not have been substantial at all. See figure 3.4 on page 64. Note the range of natural forcings in North America. It could be substantial on the high end, accounting for close to half, or it could have resulted in slight cooling. Most importantly, note the global model. On average, natural forcing since 1950 should have lead to slight global cooling, and the range of uncertainty is smaller, such that natural forcings even on the warm end don’t account for any significant global warming since then.

    More spin: “It’s “unlikely” that patterns of drought have changed due to global warming caused by human pollution. Rather, natural shifts in ocean currents are probably to blame.”

    This is another error of omission. From the study:

    “It is likely that anthropogenic warming has increased drought impacts over North America
    in recent decades through increased water stresses associated with warmer conditions,
    but the magnitude of the effect is uncertain.”

  75. Robert:

    John ,

    Did you mean _Reanalysis of Historical Climate Data for Key Atmospheric Features_ http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-3/final-report/

    Re: John Burgeson Says:
    2 April 2009 at 1:22 PM

  76. Phil Scadden:

    Mike Strong – your wish for a place for debate predisposes that both sides are actually striving to find the truth. The complicating factor is that there is instead a lot of deliberate mis-information being pumped out by carbon lobby. I think they would regard this as a duty to their shareholders? (ditto tobacco companies). The proper forum for real debate on any search for scientific truth happens in the journals not blogs. Any time you see you a “debunking” of AGW, then ask the proponent where their view is published. (Energy and Environment doesnt count). If you get an answer (most unlikely), then use citation indexes to look for the counter arguments. Works both ways of course.

    When a science question gets vexed, it is common to set up workshops where proponents of different views can get together and thrash out the issues. A good outcome is a new direction or experiment to explore the ambiguous areas. Now if say Richard Lindzen, Bob Carter really wanted to get to bottom of it, then you could suggest private (no media, no statements) workshop with appropriate scientists to just thrash it out. I am sure Gavin et al would be happy to attend but for the other side? Now what have they got to gain from such a workshop? Do they really think their objections have real scientific merit that could be debated with their peers? I think the closest you got was public debate at AGU but a large audience and too many speakers doesnt resolve anything.

  77. Hank Roberts:

    Aside — someone should be doing something like this for writing about climate change, showing to what extent a paper does or doesn’t reference other work, and to what extent it relies on science or opinion sources, and perhaps where the funding comes from.

    These are data mining tools worth knowing about:

    http://computationallegalstudies.com/

  78. Doug Mackie:

    No real comment but recaptcha was “Dawkins as”.
    Made me think of denial arguments as memes.

    I had an experience when rebutting some same old excrement in a business newspaper. Editor saw validity of my position but said his readers would not because they were more likely to be convinced by force of an argument than truth. Editor told me my article was “not confrontational enough”. (I revised it).

    As a scientist I had erred (in his eyes) by presenting caveats. The denialist had lied and made absolute claims and therefore (to the editor and readers) seemed stronger. What to do?

  79. John Philip:

    At any rate, we are–very–light on the delete button and generally lean on it only in cases of personal attack on fellow-commenters

    Evan – I know this to be false from personal experience …

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/a-potentially-useful-book-lies-damn-lies-science/langswitch_lang/it#comment-117396

  80. James Staples:

    We can only hope that the ‘advocates’, in the interest of being as correct as possible when making their decisions regarding waht they chose to ‘advocate’, will read Gavins’ little piece here, and adopt a more open, critical mode of thinking; i.e.: “The Scientific Process” (most people don’t really know what that means, do they Gavin?)
    You should have heard me trying to explain Difraction Index’s to an anti-’Con-Trail’ Greenpeacer! You know, the type who thinks the Gov is releasing ‘Nuclear Waste’ from the jets of high altitude Aircraft!
    I try to make the point that they should direct their noble efforts towards combating REAL problems, and to no longer make ‘advocates’ look like dumb-s**ts who should be marginalized.

  81. Jarad Holmes:

    Slightly off topic, but within the past couple of hours, the NSICD finally updated the trend graphs for the Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Trends to include data through March 2009… compared to the holy grail 1979-2000 “average” (which excludes 2001-2008 data in the averaging, of course…which is my constant gripe that they throw out 30% of the data since 1979 when calculating the average (mean).

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/index.html

    Arctic now at -2.7% per decade (last month it was trending at -2.8% and last year it was -11% per decade)

    Antarctic now trending up at +4.7% per decade, up from +2.8% through February.

  82. Lawrence Brown:

    Re: 16
    RC moderator’s non-response to this statement is an example of what I believe earns RC its “advocacy site” label.

    Which part of my post(#11) do you disagree with manny? Let me guess. My complimentary remarks about Al Gore. He’s the anti’s favorite whipping boy.Let the truth be damned.
    Don’t underestimate the contributors to RC.They can’t respond to everything.It’s a wonder that they respond to as much as they do, considering their challenging(to me) day jobs, writing for peer review publications as well as books, attending and organizing periodic conferences, and responding to requests to appear in public debates(what did I leave out) is a heavy load.

  83. Geoff Russell:

    Your characterisation of a scientist is accurate when
    answering “is” questions. What IS happening and what are
    its causes. But it won’t provide values and is irrelevant to
    the issues of what people care about.

    Good science might tell me that global warming is happening
    and why, but can it make me decide to forgo my current
    lifestyle for the sake of future generations?

    Suppose I decide the future IS important, I might decide
    that MY children’s future is most important to me, and if
    I’m Canadian, for example, the optimal way of ensuring prosperity
    for MY kids, MAY be to welcome and encourage global
    warming. Such questions of optimality are amenable to
    rational examination, but the cost function (the decisions about which things have value and how much) is just a choice.

    Are scientists who understand climate change in the front line of people changing their lifestyles to reduce their footprint?
    Science can order pretty precisely the impacts of various
    lifestyle changes, but a person’s personal
    preferences frequently preclude them acting rationally.

    Australian scientists have identified the biggest
    components of an Australian’s greenhouse footprint

    http://www.acfonline.org.au/default.asp?section_id=86

    and, in most first world countries the answer will be the
    same … flying will be number one for many scientists but
    for the general population, animal foods (meat and dairy)
    are the single biggest immediately
    modifiable component. But when was the last time anybody
    went to a climate change conference with vegan catering?

    At the 3rd International Solar Cities Congress 2008, a notable
    event was a BBQ with 3 kinds of beef.

    So clearly, even people who care about climate change care
    about other things far more.

  84. wmanny:

    Lawrence, I understand that Gore is a whipping boy to the right and much of that is irrational, but there has been plenty of legitimate protest lodged against his proclivity for overstatement — I don’t hold that against him as much as many do because he is, of course, an advocate and I believe he is sincere. Let’s put it this way, though: I am going to be far more curious about what Dyson has to say than Gore. The former is a proven scientist and a famously open-minded thinker, and the other is a politician who has political goals. Whether one is on the right or wrong side of the debate remains to be seen (and you never hear Gore say, “I could be wrong about this,” as Dyson routinely does) but for RC moderators not to challenge the broad-brush assertion you made is either a sign that anything goes on the correct side of the debate, or that, as you point out, they simply have too much to read.

    Walter

  85. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    No, no, no, no, no. An advocate will rely on what the scientists say. You’re right that they will certainly not do studies after studies, and will certainly not come to thoughtful, scientific conclusions based on tons of the best evidence & considering all possible theories (even cosmic rays). They’ll let the scientists do all that, then they’ll use their conclusions.

    And a policy maker (say, gov officials charged with the safety of the people and planet) will look at initial scientific studies that merely suggest a problem (.05 sig. or less on the null certainly not necessary), and start prudently mitigating the problem just in case it pans out to be a real threat. Just like all our wonderful policy makers have been doing since 1990. Some initial studies or theoretical conjecture back in the late 80s & early 90s say we might have had terrible hurricane seasons, wildfires, sea rise, arctic melt, droughts, floods, disease spread, etc. by the early 2000s, but we’ll never know since the world reduced its 1990 GHG emissions by 75% and we’re currently down to 314 ppm and decreasing. (And BONUS BONUS, our economy is doing so well with alt energy & smart efficiency/conservation; we never thought we could be so materially well off and happy, and bring the poor nations up to a better life as well.) But that’s just the way policy-makers are. Great guys, aren’t they!

    I’m not sure what R. Lindzen is. Isn’t he a scientist??

  86. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter, Gore is a politician. He would be a retired politician had any politician on the right had the courage to stand up with him and proclaim what they knew to be the truth–that climate change is a threat. None did. Not McCain. Not Jim Baker. None of the majority of Republican senators on record as concerned about climate change. It is precisely because he stood up alone that he received the attention–and awards–he did. I would not say that he overstates his case, but he states it as strongly as the science allows, like a politician.

    Dyson, on the other hand, should know that unless someone has made a real effort to understand a field outside one’s own expertise, one has no special authority just because one is a physicist. From his characteizations of models, etc., it is clear Dyson has made no such effort. And in this case Gore is far closer to the truth than Dyson.

    [Response: Ray, I don't think that's quite fair. McCain, in my view, took a fairly courageous stand against those in his own party who sought to attack the science (and the scientists). Others in his party, such as outgoing Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert, did as well. And there is of course Schwarzenegger. This doesn't need to, and shouldn't be, a partisan issue. Climate Change doesn't care about your party affiliation. -mike]

  87. dhogaza:

    Arctic now at -2.7% per decade (last month it was trending at -2.8% and last year it was -11% per decade)

    No way this trend line went from -11%/decade to -2.7%/decade in the last year.

    How did you come to that conclusion?

    [Response: He's confusing the trends for a particular month with the trends using all monhly anomalies. -11%/dec is for September extent. See here. - gavin]

  88. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #81 Jarad Holmes

    Just FYI, NSIDC is showing ice extent, that means coverage. It’s a 2-dimensional picture. It is not showing ice mass loss. It’s an important distinction.

    btw, check back there next Monday
    http://www.nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  89. Ike Solem:

    Too bad Al Gore didn’t find a Republican who would cooperate with him on the issue – that would have eliminated the whole effort to tar his efforts as political opportunism. Maybe he should team up with Pat Robertson?

    P.S. I would agree with Dyson that nuclear and biological warfare are still greater immediate “existential threats” than global warming and species extinction are, but the warming climate and the loss of biological diversity are building up a momentum that becomes impossible to deal with via transparency and international accords, as is the case with nuclear and biological weapons. Dyson’s problem is that he doesn’t acknowledge the immediate problems human civilizations will face due to agricultural collapses, fishery collapses, etc. He’s right in a sense, that if we are to return the planet to 4 million year ago conditions, in the “big picture” that is not total catastrophe – but in the picture that includes the next several human generations, it certainly will be a catastrophe – with water, food and living space being the big issues.

  90. Kipp Alpert:

    Isn’t it a rather strong assumption to say that the Global Warming debate has been the cornerstone of the Bush Administration. George Bush was busy burning his Scientific notes while the Pentagon was planning their mitigation response to Global Warming.Republicans have done nothing but throw the Global Warming Science debate under the bus. After all, it threatens their Big Buisnees profits, and those comapanies that pay for their elections.A few renagade Republicans have come over to the Real Science, but only in the smallest way.Deniers are mostly right wing republicans. Does George Will believe in AGW.How about RUSH.Ray Ladbury is spot on, and you should realize that the bigest threat to the human race is finally being delt with by Barach Obama, a Democrat. Mike, it shows more about your goodness than the reality of what has happened before, and now is the time to access blame so such sin’s against Humanity never rear it’s ugly head again.

  91. walter crain:

    mike,
    that is the thing that so totally riles me up. this SHOULDN’T be a partisan issue, but it IS.

  92. walter crain:

    ike solem,
    that would be SO great (#89). remember a few years back when newt gingrich and john kerry “toured” together talking in agreement about the science aand arguing about the solutions. i was so hopeful when that happened. finally, i thought, maybe we’d move beyond discussing whether global warming was a man-made threat to figuring out what to do about it. we’ve regressed since…

  93. Michael Hauber:

    I’ve always considered that the scientific debate on climate change has been well and truly over for years.

    However the public debate continues on, and it is the public debate that decides what actions politicians will enact.

    It is hard for nonscientists to trust science, especially when it involved personal cost. I think one way we do learn to trust the scientists is from experience. We trust the science behind electronics and internal combustion engines because we see that cars and TVs work.

    The best way for the general public to see that climate science ‘works’ is to be reminded of predictions made in the past, and see how these predictions work. As far as I can tell there are some significant predictions, by Hansen etc from as early as the late 70s of global warming, and that the trend has been fairly close to what was predicted. However there is hardly anywhere on the internet where this is highlighted.

    Should sites such as realclimate have a prominent link to a comparison of temperature trends against model projections, that is updated on a monthly basis?

  94. Kipp Alpert:

    Mike and Ike:I have been over at AccuWeather for a year now arguing daily,in whatever way possible to convince,expand,and further the realization that AGW is an extremly dangerous reality that we must face sooner rather than later. Deniers have mattered, however negative and misguided they are.I wonder if they will ever get the Science, as they seem to be short on substance and highly attuned to Politics.Just to see what Obama has done in sixty days is wonderful. A mandate on Coal Sequestration by the EPA is a huge step. Barbara Boxer is moving for legislation with cap and trade.I grew up in Darien Ct.,a republican segregated town fifty minutes from N.Y. These people mostly care about the money, and being born again, better than anyone else. It is a wierd and backward town.Here, is where the big players live. After their wives turn forty,they divorce and get a new blonde, thirty years younger than themselves, and start a second family that might not have a father when the kids graduate college.They are not enviromentalists. They are business men,in a war against each other for profit. There only belief is conformity, and they have sold America out.So you don’t get that factor of unity, or a feeling for all humanity.
    But that is just one battle lost,in a war to free mankind from his lesser nature and self obliteration.You can’t have your cake and eat it to.We can’t stop Global starvation,or desease, tomorrow, but we may have saved mankind.That’s why AGW has to be our greatest challenge, as nothing less would suffice.Yes,now more than ever,let us fight for what is right,and leave the second guessing and dashed hopes for when we get old. I am going to fight for this realiazation until I die.Save the world first, than we can sit down and ask those other questions about our nature. KIPP

  95. Jarad Holmes:

    To dhogaza, comment 87. The trend data is on the NSIDC site, if this pastes correctly:

    Year of September Average Extent Extent (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to 1979-2000 Average (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to 1979-2000 Average (%) Anomaly Relative to Previous Record (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to Previous Record (%) Linear Trend Since 1979 (sq. km. per year) Linear Trend Since 1979 Relative to 1979-2000 Average (% per decade)
    2002 5.96 -1.08 -15.3 -0.17 -2.8 -51,000 -7.3
    2003 6.15 -0.89 -12.6 0.19 3.2 -53,000 -7.5
    2004 6.04 -1.00 -14.2 0.08 1.3 -55,000 -7.8
    2005 5.57 -1.47 -20.9 -0.39 -6.5 -59,000 -8.4
    2006 5.89 -1.15 -16.3 0.32 5.7 -60,000 -8.6
    2007 4.28 -2.76 -39.2 -1.29 -23.2 -72,000 -10.2
    2008 4.67 -2.37 -33.6 0.39 9.1 -78,000 -11.1
    September Average Extents, 2002-2008: Calculated by Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center. All values in table estimated based on the NSIDC Sea Ice Index.

  96. Russ Doty:

    #66 James:
    LEDs are not irrelevant for you James, if they can cut nightime energy use from lighting by 60%. I thought you scientists perceived things on a global scale. LEDs work as yard lamps in rural areas that don’t need to be lit all night. They can be uses with a motion sensor, dimmed. A small German town is turning them off most of the night ans if someone needs them, they can dial a cell phone number and get light for a few minutes in that neighborhood. The town of 900 is saving $5,000/year on energy. So you may not get the lights out entirely, but you do get luminaires that do not bleed over to the night sky or second story windows or onto property lines where it is not needed. In parking ramps, they are dimming the lights when they are not needed, so LEDs don’t make it more attractive to leave lights on. They make it easier to turn them off and on.

  97. Jarad Holmes:

    To John Reisman (OSS Foundation), Comment 87: regarding the new global ice trend from the NSIDC for the end of March 2009.

    John: I AGREE: Ice extent does not equate to depth or concentration. But, in 2007, there was almost no “multi-year” ice in the Arctic compared to previous recent years. But now, we have two years of building ice in the Arctic. And you know,of course, that the Antarctic has so much multi-year ice (on shore and off shore) that the extent indicates the concentration (3D) is building up (down there) and no one understands it yet, despite the melt on the west side versus growth elsewhere around the continent.

    Look, this website claims to be unbiased. So let us study this. The fact is, that since 2007, there has been a recovery in the Arctic. It is fragile, but THERE. It may not be high density (3D) but it is certainly extent (2D).

    If the readers of this blog are truly scientists…we need to reconcile the data and understand it.

    I am making no conclusions. I am merely saying that the Arctic extent loss trend is decreasing and the Antarctic trend is growing by a bunch. You can go to the NSIDC site and get the history This won’t past well, but here is a recent table from the NSIDC:

    Year of September Average Extent Extent (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to 1979-2000 Average (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to 1979-2000 Average (%) Anomaly Relative to Previous Record (million sq. km.) Anomaly Relative to Previous Record (%) Linear Trend Since 1979 (sq. km. per year) Linear Trend Since 1979 Relative to 1979-2000 Average (% per decade)
    2002 5.96 -1.08 -15.3 -0.17 -2.8 -51,000 -7.3
    2003 6.15 -0.89 -12.6 0.19 3.2 -53,000 -7.5
    2004 6.04 -1.00 -14.2 0.08 1.3 -55,000 -7.8
    2005 5.57 -1.47 -20.9 -0.39 -6.5 -59,000 -8.4
    2006 5.89 -1.15 -16.3 0.32 5.7 -60,000 -8.6
    2007 4.28 -2.76 -39.2 -1.29 -23.2 -72,000 -10.2
    2008 4.67 -2.37 -33.6 0.39 9.1 -78,000 -11.1
    September Average Extents, 2002-2008: Calculated by Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center. All values in table estimated based on the NSIDC Sea Ice Index.

  98. Tenney Naumer:

    Ike, what happened to all the research that shows it likely that global warming will cause the jet stream to move to higher latitudes, and I thought it was Hansen who many years ago predicted more drought in the Southwest?

    Lu et al., 2008: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008GL036076.shtml

  99. CM:

    Re headline cited in #74:

    “Natural causes also responsible for global warming: Scientists”

    I am not sure it’s entirely accurate to call scientists a natural cause. But anyway, the truth will out: Scientists are responsible for global warming. So that’s why you guys have been pestering us about fossil fuels all these years – just to deflect our attention. Now what have you to say for yourself? :)

    Even when not unintentionally funny, headline writers rather than journalists seem to be responsible for a lot of distorted stories. See the autism researcher’s story in last week’s New Scientist.

    (reCAPTCHA: “voicing impact”. A stirring mission statement for an advocacy group?)

  100. Alastair McDonald:

    Can I ask a stupid question that makes it difficult for me to read Lindzen’s paper? What is a “nonscanner”.

    And, assuming it is just a scanner, another question – Why is it given such a stupid name?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  101. Paul:

    Way back at number 3…

    Corey Watts said:

    “Scientists, moreover, don’t work in a social or political vacuum.”

    In a defence of advocates.
    Corey are you suggesting that those that work in the social/political vacuum should maybe leave their scientific theories at home?
    And not plaster them across the media.

  102. Nick Barnes:

    Jarad @ 97: Yes, in September the Arctic sea ice trend was -11.1% per decade. That was the trend for September sea ice extent. It compared 2008 September sea ice extent with September sea ice extents for other years going back to 1979.

    Now at the end of March, we have the March sea ice trend, -2.7% per decade. That is the trend for March sea ice extent. It compares 2009 March sea ice extent with March sea ice extents for other years back to 1979.

    So you cannot say that a -11.1% trend has become a -2.7% trend, because those two numbers are not measuring the same thing. -11.1% is the trend in September sea ice extent. -2.7% is the trend in March sea ice extent. September sea ice is a very different thing to March sea ice.

    September is the month at the end of the Arctic melt season; the September ice area/extent/mass is the lowest of the year and the most sensitive to Arctic warming (because it’s only in the summer that any of the Arctic is warm enough for any ice to melt; in a warmer Arctic, more ice melts in the summer).

    March is the month at the end of the long cold Arctic winter, during which essentially the whole Arctic ocean freezes over (and will continue to do so even when the Arctic is much warmer than it is today). For that reason there is less variation in sea ice area/extent in March than in September, and what variation there is is a much smaller proportion of the total.

  103. Dan:

    re 84. Let’s get something clear: Dyson is primarily a physicist. Not a climate scientist. I have not found even one peer-reviewed paper re: AGW by Dyson on Google Scholar. The idea that anyone would give one person (Dyson, in this case) more weight because he is a “proven scientist” over the literally thousands of “proven” peer-reviewed climate scientists world-wide and every major climate science society/professional organization world-wide (AMS, CMOS, AGU, NAS, NOAA, NASA, etc.) who agree about AGW is absolute proof of looking for an answer to support one’s preconceived ideas re: AGW. And that’s definitely not science. That is wishful thinking and denialism to the max. And sounds a lot like the Cato Institute advertisement, George Will, Fred Barnes, and Fox News (getting a few non-climate “scientists” to say that AGW is no big deal, just to confuse and misinform laymen.)

  104. wmanny:

    93. “As far as I can tell there are some significant predictions, by Hansen etc from as early as the late 70s of global warming, and that the trend has been fairly close to what was predicted.”

    There has been a lot written about those predictions (scenarios), and whatever you make of them, they are not in the same predictability category as cars and TVs.

  105. wmanny:

    86. “And in this case Gore is far closer to the truth than Dyson.”

    Indeed that may prove to be the case. But let’s be clear here: if you put those two men in a room and query them about the specifics of how climate works, who do you think will know more? The problem RC has with Dyson, I believe, is that he is in disagreement about the significance of the problem. Gore is in near total agreement (though I suppose one could argue he is “more alarmist”) and his views are naturally tolerated more here as a result.

  106. Mark:

    “I am merely saying that the Arctic extent loss trend is decreasing and the Antarctic trend is growing by a bunch.”

    But what does what you say about the artic extent mean?

    The pole is colder not because it’s further away from the sun but because the ground is obliquely angled to the sun. The rays glance in and have their energy spread over a lot of earth.

    Now this means that the further poleward you go, the less energy there is (by a decidedly non linear factor) and the harder it is for warmth to manage to melt the ice.

    When melting of ice occurs, the easy-to-melt ice goes first and you have a quick reduction in extent. But when all the easy ice is gone, you only have the stuff further poleward to melt and that’s harder to manage and you need more warming from the atmosphere to manage it.

    So the Artic has had in the past a lot of melting. All the easy stuff is gone.

    The Antartic hasn’t had much melting and so all the easy stuff is still available.

    Given these, is what your saying saying anything useful at all?

    I don’t think so.

  107. Ray Ladbury:

    Response to Mike’s In-line: While several conservatives are on record as concerned about climate change, they’ve certainly been tepid in their defense of it. None have attacked the anti-science loon fringe of their party–despite the damage that fringe has done to the party.

    [Response: Ray, I can personally attest to the fact that both John McCain and Sherwood Boehlert have indeed done precisely this. I do nonetheless share your dissapointment that there is not far more support from their side of the aisle. - mike]

    What makes Gore stand apart is that he stands alone. Even the occasional joint appearance with a Republican politician would not only have added credibility to science where it is needed most, it would also have taken the emphasis off of Gore and put it on the science. The science is what needs to be emphasized.

  108. Mark:

    “But let’s be clear here: if you put those two men in a room and query them about the specifics of how climate works, who do you think will know more?”

    Al Gore.

    He’s *listened* to people who know this stuff. Dyson doesn’t seem to feel the need.

    NB: You seem to be forgetting that Dyson still says that most of the warming is human origin from CO2 pollution. So if you got them both in a room, they’d generally be agreeing with each other.

    And neither agreeing with you.

    Oracle opines: Vigorous Division.

    AI is here…

  109. Mark:

    “There has been a lot written about those predictions (scenarios), and whatever you make of them, they are not in the same predictability category as cars and TVs.”

    What about EE Smith’s prediction that we’d use spools of wire to record holographic images? Or that we’d be using slide rules in the future because computers wouldn’t be fast enough?

    And what the HECK do you mean “not in the same predictability category as cars and TV”???

    How about modern fighter jets? Build conditionally unstable. Impossible to do without computer SIMULATION of how to make the bleeding thing do what you want when it wants to lose control? Seems to be damn effective, even though you seem to think it isn’t science and gets everything wrong (or can only get it right when you fiddle the numbers: you can’t do that when you’re modelling something you KNOW you don’t know and make a real live machine that has to follow what your model predicted, even though there’s no way to tell it to do that…).

  110. walter crain:

    who are some other republican candidates for the gore-_____ global warming tour?

    i can’t help but think if we had become aware (with the current levels of certainty) of global warming prior to the “reagan era” we would have united as a society to meet the challenge. reagan’s presidency marks the point where ideology became supreme over reason/compromise and EVERYTHING became a partisan issue. there are no politicians in the middle anymore….

  111. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter Manny says, “…if you put those two men in a room and query them about the specifics of how climate works, who do you think will know more?”

    Actually, it is not clear to me which would have the better grasp. Dyson SHOULD win hands down, since he is a physicist. However, he has demonstrated fundamentally flawed understanding of many aspects of GCMs and an incomprehensible apathy toward the likely consequences of climate change. I enjoy reading Dyson. I consider him to be a fundamentally decent man and a good physicist. I am puzzled by his insistence on what are fundamentally erroneous positions, though. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    It may be that Gore knows fewer things for sure that ain’t so.

  112. Ike Solem:

    Hey, I’ll volunteer to debate Freeman Dyson – because it’s obvious he knows nothing about climate models, and while I’m no expert, he seems entirely clueless on the matter. It’s a real problem among the theoretical physics crowd – their expertise in a small area of physics, they believe, allows them to comment on everything from a position of authority – because it’s all physics. Ask Freeman to read “The Discovery of Global Warming” and see if he can find any flaws in it. Are there flaws in the radiative balance models? That’s probably closest to Freeman’s expertise – but he’s not talking about that. Ask him about radiative balance models – if he denies that they are accurate, then he’s definitely a crackpot. If not, then ask him about convection in the atmosphere, fluid dynamics, etc – can he answer those questions? Great, now we’ve got him up to the level of a radiative-convective atmospheric model – but what about the ocean and the ice sheets and the land surfaces and the vegetation? More complicated, but he should be able to look into the issue, right?

    Instead, it’s just polemics and B.S. – no science, just artful propaganda and political squabbling.

    As far as subtropical drying, the exansion of the Hadley cells, etc., those are all model predictions. Hansen may have said something about the model predictions, but the science isn’t based on what someone says. Instead of going on and on about “Hansen & Gore” (a PR method involving associating a particular issue with certain individuals, and then attacking those individuals as a way of discrediting the issue), why not look at what the thousands of other scientists are doing?

    Thomas Reichler, ANL, Salt Lake City, Utah; and I. Held 2005

    We investigate the interannual and decadal variability of the meridional extent of the Hadley cell by analyzing variations in the shape of the lapse-rate define tropopause. The poleward boundaries of the Hadley cell are determined from the steep gradient between the high tropical and low extratropical tropopause. This method is applied to global monthly mean temperature fields from radiosonde data, reanalysis data, and to historical coupled simulations with the GFDL climate model. All data sources indicate that the latitudinal extent of the Hadley cell has been gradually widening by a few degrees latitude over the past decades. The importance of the location of the Hadley cell for the general circulation raises the question of what may have caused this trend.

    And this, coming from the other side, of the subtropical zone, that is:

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n1/abs/ngeo.2007.38.html

    Widening of the tropical belt in a changing climate
    Dian J. Seidel1, Qiang Fu2, William J. Randel3 & Thomas J. Reichler4

    Some of the earliest unequivocal signs of climate change have been the warming of the air and ocean, thawing of land and melting of ice in the Arctic. But recent studies are showing that the tropics are also changing. Several lines of evidence show that over the past few decades the tropical belt has expanded…The observed recent rate of expansion is greater than climate model projections of expansion over the twenty-first century, which suggests that there is still much to be learned about this aspect of global climate change.

    Thus, apparently both the subtropical belt (normally though to extend from around 15N to 15S) and the subtropical zone (normally thought to extend from 15N to 45N) are moving towards the poles, at least as far as the atmospheric circulation goes, the tropics dominating by rising wet air, the subtropics by falling dry air. That appears to represent a permanent climatic shift that is going to bring persistent drought to many regions in the subtropics. There are literally dozens of other papers on the issue – but the U.S. press is not interested. The New York Times has had particularly atrocious coverage:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/us/22mendota.html

    “Many farmers refer to a “man-made drought” caused by restrictions.”

    - by reporter Jesse McKinley and some unknown editor who assigned a reporter with little science background to cover the story, which does not mention global warming.

    Or how about this one:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/us/02water.html

    “With the rainy season well under way, early partial measurements indicate that the amount of water stored in the Sierra snowpack, the state’s natural reservoir, is higher than the amount at this time last year but well below average, said the state’s meteorologist, Elissa Lynn.

    The deficit can be made up if January, February and March are full of big Pacific storms. But this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the weather phenomenon known as La Niña, which is characterized by cooler waters in the western Pacific Ocean and drier conditions, had returned for the second consecutive year.

    “The worry is that La Niña does again what it did last year,” Ms. Lynn said Wednesday”

    Ms. Lynn did not mention global warming, and when I called her up to ask her why, she admitted that the San Diego story on “La Nina being the culprit” was inaccurate, then hung up on me. And another thing – who told the San Diego reporters and the New York reporters to use the same source on this story?

    It’s one thing to point out that Cato and Heritage and Lindzen and the other think tanks and their spokespeople are acting dishonestly – but I can’t shake the feeling that our major newspapers and top government officials are behaving in exactly the same way – just a lot sneakier. They can’t plead ignorance of the facts, that’s for sure.

    Note that this is in contrast to the media coverage of shrinking Arctic ice, which has been pretty good – many sources covered the recent (April 3 2009 GRL Overland) study that came up with an ice-free Arctic within 30 years. (168 news articles so far from Google on “arctic ice”). Why the difference?

    The loss of Arctic ice does not portend an immediate economic disaster, but huge agricultural losses due to massive droughts do – and that, as far as I can tell, is the primary variable in media coverage – if the there are large economic issues involved, the press won’t cover the global warming story – wildfires due to drought influenced by global warming? Not acceptable – and why? If we apply the same reasoning to the media and governmental institutions that we apply to the Cato-like think tanks, then it’s obvious: the financial interests that own the media don’t like that story, because it would spur on transitions to renewable energy, and fossil fuel interests are among the main media owners, the main donors to government politicians, and a source of cushy jobs for ex-government employees who did their bidding.

    A just one example, William Kennard, a director in the Carlyle Group investment conglomerate with huge fossil fuel investments, is also on the corporate board of the New York Times. If we’re going to criticize Cato and Heritage for their involvement with fossil fuels, shouldn’t we also criticize the NYT, especially as their coverage as grown biased towards the denialist side recently? They ran a lead-in story to the Heritage conference, but no lead-in for Copenhagen – and they sent Andrew Revkin to report on the Heritage conference, but not to Copenhagen. When I asked Andrew Revkin about this, he said it was to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. Revkin also posted Don Easterbrook’s letter on the PDO, no questions asked, no commentary, nothing.

    So, those are the two poles of the media debate – one says global warming issues are plagued by “overheated exaggeration” (NYT Revkin quote), and the other says it is complete nonsense (Wall Street Journal, Examiner.com, etc.). Both sides engage in distortion of science in order to sell their particular line, and both sides also have many ties to the fossil fuel industry. Their motivations and intentions – I have no idea – but the distortion of science?

    That’s a different question, which can be analyzed. If they keep doing it after the issues have been clearly explained to them, and sources have been pointed out, then they aren’t journalists – they’re marketers or propagandists – and I wonder if they even know what the difference is, to tell you the truth.

  113. Jarad Holmes:

    Response to Nick in Comment 102.
    Nick, I disagree. The trend lines plotted by the NSIDC is for ALL of the data points. They are not comparing September to September, March to March. I extracted the numbers from their database, summed them all and that is how they get the trend and then compare this to the mean from 1979-2000, all data months inclusive.

    [Response: You are mistaken. The -11.1%/dec trend is for september months only. - gavin]

  114. Kevin McKinney:

    Alastair M., I seem to recall from somewhere on the NASA site that the essential difference is that the “non-scanner” channel views the entire planetary disk plus a bit of space “background” snapshot style, whereas the scanner, well, scans the disk. (Overall view vs. localized view.)

    The problems with the non-scanner arose because orbital decay slightly decreased the percentage of the field occupied by the dark “background”, which in turn raised the–oh hell, I don’t know–”brightness?” This accounted for the discrepancy between the original data used by Lindzen and the corrected version that he mysteriously ignored.

    Hope this helps. (Corrections invited from those more thoroughly in the know about this.)

    (Captcha pro-offers a cinema-style encouragement: “and print”)

  115. walter crain:

    dan, you said
    “The idea that anyone would give one person (Dyson, in this case) more weight because he is a “proven scientist” over the literally thousands of “proven” peer-reviewed climate scientists world-wide and every major climate science society/professional organization world-wide (AMS, CMOS, AGU, NAS, NOAA, NASA, etc.)…”

    the reason many in the public treat these “skeptics” as if they know anything is because, due to the “skeptics” extremely effective PR/obfuscation machine the public thinks there is real confusion and dissent among scientists. they think, if scientists are still arguing how can we expect the public to “get behind” the initially unpleasant policies needed to address global warming?

    that’s why we need PROJECT JIM…

    i know stupid lists like this don’t really prove anything, scientifically, but i think the public is truly confused about the extent of scientific consensus.

  116. Kevin McKinney:

    Jared, I don’t think you are grasping what people are saying. NSIDC plots trends in several ways, and that includes the trends for particular months. In fact, the September trend appears to be what you posted in your #97 above.

    You can also look up the March trends, as discussed very sensibly by Nick in his #102, or the annual mean trends. Just be aware that they are different metrics, and give different information. In this case, for example, the numbers show us clearly that the biggest trend is at the annual minimum; the maximum yearly extent is decreasing much more slowly.

    BTW, I think your assertion of a “fragile recovery” in the Arctic is probably not unreasonable. But even if it’s real, it’s awfully fragile. After all, we already know that 2008 was a tad cooler than the few years previous. It’s not likely to mean much for the longer term.

  117. Jeffrey Davis:

    Who “debates” the science? Science isn’t debated. Theories are proposed. Experiments designed to test that are performed, and the results published. Then, the experiments are criticized and refined and redone. Or new experiments performed. Then the results are published. Etc. Science isn’t a debate. It’s a method of increasing efficiencies by eliminating what doesn’t work.

    Who doubts anymore that greenhouse gases trap long wave radiation? Who doubts that CO2 levels are well above 19th century levels? Who doubts that human activity put the gases in the atmosphere? No practicing scientist. Who doubts the measurements of the extra energy that the process imparts? Nobody.

    That’s progress since even five years ago that wasn’t the case. That’s how science moves forward. Not with debates. Debates are public relations ploys.

    reCaptcha: evidence gagement (I swear.)

  118. Mark:

    “The trend lines plotted by the NSIDC is for ALL of the data points.”

    You may want to check what they are doing.

    You can have a 10-year mean temperature that is the mean of all the recorded temperatures for 3650 contiguous days.

    You can have a 10-year mean temperature that is the mean of all 10 dates that are the same each year (mean all the 10th April temperatures).

    BOTH are using “all the points”.

    The difference is the hidden definitional problem: what do you mean by “all the points”?

  119. SecularAnimist:

    Ike Solem wrote: “I would agree with Dyson that nuclear and biological warfare are still greater immediate ‘existential threats’ than global warming and species extinction are …”

    I don’t necessarily agree with that. Nuclear and biological warfare are not “immediate” existential threats, as long as nobody pushes the button. We’ve lived with thousands of multi-megaton hydrogen bombs locked and loaded on ICBMs on hair-trigger alert for half a century now, despite a number of close calls. We might continue to do so for another half century, and by then such weapons might be substantially if not entirely eliminated.

    But we have all been “pushing the button” on global warming for over a century, and by now the button is pretty well pushed, and we keep pushing it harder and harder. “Immediate” or not, very severe harms from global warming are probably now inevitable during the next half century, and may be irreversible on time scales short of millennia. And such harms might well be “immediate” — continent-wide, extreme, prolonged mega-droughts could begin at any time, leading pretty “immediately” to a worldwide collapse of agriculture and global famine. And it’s not inconceivable that global warming could trigger phenomena that would wreak as much havoc as a large-scale nuclear war, though perhaps on a time scale of years rather than hours.

    I don’t mean to deprecate the danger of nuclear war or biological war — indeed I feel strongly that people should be more aware than they are of these serious threats. The USA, Russia and China still have plenty of nuclear warheads, mounted in ICBMs, on active alert, use-it-or-lose-it status, and by many accounts the command and control systems in Russia particularly have deteriorated from the Cold War, increasing the chances of accidental or erroneous launch. And then there’s the problems of proliferation to unstable states, “loose nukes”, etc. It’s very serious.

    But that doesn’t mean that anything is necessarily going to happen. On the other hand, extreme and rapid global warming and climate change are already happening, and though this won’t incinerate the world in 45 minutes like a global thermonuclear war, it is still an urgent threat.

  120. DVG:

    The answer to Gavin’s question (Which one is which?) is pretty clear, I think. BOTH are more advocacy than science, and in about the same degree.

    Almost (all?) major players in this debate have moved toward the political (advocacy as opposed to science) because the real life stakes — as perceived by each — are so high.

    I think it would be useful (for those like me who ultimately will make the necessarily political decisions about what to do or not do) to have more public, face-to-face debate (like the Intelligence Squared debate) but for some reason, that isn’t happening.

    [Response: Hmm... possibly something to do with the fact that it is much easier to put out 20 pieces of disinformation than rebut them? - gavin]

  121. Hank Roberts:

    One reason people go emeritus: risk perception degrades with age, likely due to degradation of a specific area of the brain. Hey, excess optimism isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22ventromedial+prefrontal+cortex%22+risk+reward+aging

    http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2009/04/money_illusion.php

  122. DVG:

    Gavin’s response to my comment (#120) suggests to me at least that he doesn’t want to debate these questions, and that in itself causes me to be skeptical of the positions he takes. I’d say the same of anyone else from any other position on the issue.

    Ike Solem says he’s willing to debate Freeman Dyson (#112). Hey, do it. Seriously. And have a lot more than that. For goodness sake, if indeed the very survival of human culture as we know it is at play, these issues deserve much more debate than a relatively inconsequential election of a president who at max can only serve only eight years. This system of everyone taking pokes at each other in their own blogs does a lot of dancing but never really gets to it. Sort of like if if we figured out who the World Series champs were by observing and blogging about everybody’s practice sessions but never played the games.

    I really don’t get it. With so much at stake, and with so many people to persuade (as in the population of the world, no less), why is there not more public, face-to-face debate? The lack of it belies the claims, frankly.

    [Response: Because you are asking for political theatre, not debate. Read John Ziman's article on whether debatable scientific questions are debatable. I am more than willing to talk about this stuff with almost anyone (and do frequently) but short time period grandstanding opportunities are not conducive to either explaining the complexities or dealing with disinformation. - gavin]

  123. walter crain:

    i have no problem calling al gore an advocate. he’s just a good advocate (i.e. on MY side). we like lobbyists, special interest groups, etc…who are on our side.

  124. Kevin McKinney:

    On the topic of GW vs. war utilizing “weapons of mass destruction,” it’s worth noting that the consequences of AGW include an increasing likelihood of armed conflict. So saith the Pentagon. . . or some of their consultants, anyway.

    So AGW actually increases the odds of “pushing the button.” Feedback in the political realm.

  125. wmanny:

    111. Ray, I’m trying to think of how to put it nicely. Let’s just say I can’t imagine Gore even being able to hold up his own side of a conversation with Dyson. Here’s a partial stab at why I think so, the first two hits at googling Dyson and models:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTSxubKfTBU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k69HUuyI5Mk&feature=related

    Now, I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, and please point out the nonsense where you think it exists, but Dyson is clearly not a climate rube. Neither is Gore, of course, but while it’s an unfair comparison to picture him in his film, up in his cherry picker showing us the near-vertical asymptote representing temperature increase, again I find it unimaginable to hear Gore speak about climate in as an informed a manner as Dyson.

    You may have examples of an unscripted Gore musing intelligently on the subject, and I would love to see them. You consistently point out you are “not a great fan” of his, but then you say he has it right. That’s not necessarily inconsistent, mind you, but a little confusing.

  126. ccpo:

    “Re: #3 Corey Watts Says:
    1 April 2009 at 6:27 PM

    …I bristle at the strawman ‘advocate’. There is no essential divide between intelligent, intellectually honest advocacy and science. Scientists, moreover, don’t work in a social or political vacuum.”

    More ironic words were never spoken. Can anyone explain to me what a “science background” is if one is not a scientist? Is that not “layman”, just like the rest of us?

    More to the point, there is a huge divide between science (scientists) and intelligent, honest advocacy (laypersons): one far more often than not knows where of he/she speaks; the other might, but often doesn’t – as you ably illustrate often enough.

    Cheers

  127. dhogaza:

    Jarad, earlier gavin gave this link.

    Please take a look at it. He’s set it up to plot both the september trend (-11.1%) and the march one (-2.7%) – the very figures you’ve posted.

    These plots are september 1979 … sept 1980 … sept 2008

    and march 1979 … march 1980 … march 2009

    Just as Nick described. Do you see the little select widgets on the left that choose “sept” and “mar” ?

    And as Nick says, it is summer melt that’s expected to be much higher, because as he says the winters are still very cold (24 hour darkness for part of winter up above the arctic circle!).

    Also, if you look at maps of the winter ice extent, you’ll see that the size of the arctic ice cap is partially constrained by the surrounding eurasian and north american continents. The ice simply can’t extend past those boundaries.

    Don’t feel bad over having misunderstand what you’ve looked at … happens to all of us.

  128. John Mashey:

    re: #122 DVG
    There was a “debate” (Ryan vs Valentine) over here.

    In a post @ March 22, 2009 2:19 AM there, I summarized why live debates about climate change are silly, and that if you want to have a debate, doing it via a blog across many days, with pointers to data, graphs, rebuttals, time for audience to check things … is less silly.

    It is worth reading that discussion as an example. I wouldn’t call it optimal, but a live debate is just dumb, and is totally weighted towards people making stuff up and wanting to create confusion.

  129. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter, The question is not whether Dyson is smart or whether he knows the basic physics. However, unless he has made a specific effort to understand the application of physics to the climate, his opinion is no more informed than that of an intelligent layman. Dyson has some flaky ideas about both modeling and consequences of climate change. It is quite possible to be both technically competent and wrong. In fact, being technically competent sometimes leads one to be more confident outside of one’s expertise than one should. Lubos Motl is another example.

    Gore at least doesn’t expect climate will be easy to understand. He knows he is outside of his expertise, so he listens. As a result, although he gets things wrong on occasion, he doesn’t commit errors of the severity Dyson does. Twain’s quote is good advice. First you have to figure out what you know that ain’t so.

  130. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #97 Jarad Holmes

    It’s simple, you are talking about short term variation, and cherry picked data out of context vs. long term climate change and trends.

    Weather is not Climate.

    NASA: What Climate Means

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html

    In short, climate is the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area.

    Some scientists define climate as the average weather for a particular region and time period, usually taken over 30-years. It’s really an average pattern of weather for a particular region.

    Looking at changes over the long term allows for a more reliable trend picture with less short term variability and noise. Cherry picking just doesn’t cut it.

    IPCC: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/484.htm

    A schematic representation of different simulations and periods in a coupled AOGCM climate change experiment that may be used in the definition of modelled climate change. t1 to t4 define alternative 30-year periods from either forced or unforced experiments.

  131. Hank Roberts:

    > Valentine

    Pierrehumbert: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/the-road-from-climate-science-to-climate-advocacy/?apage=6#comment-5282

  132. wmanny:

    129. Well, Ray, fair enough. You see Gore’s occasional errors where I see a near-parody of climate science. You see him as a useful advocate where I see a salesman. At least neither of us goes to him to learn about the science. Many Americans, of course, do just that, which is less than ideal but the way of the world I suppose. We do lean rather heavily on our movie stars, for example, to learn about foreign policy and the like!

  133. Hank Roberts:

  134. MikeN:

    >The advocate will pick up any piece of apparently useful data and without doing any analysis, decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

    Funny, that’s exactly the description I would give to your own site and other global warming scientists.

    Take for example your response to the time lag of CO2 increasing 800 years AFTER temperature increases. You write:
    “The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data.

    The 4200 years of warming make up about 5/6 of the total warming. So CO2 could have caused the last 5/6 of the warming, but could not have caused the first 1/6 of the warming.”

    So when you have data to contradict the fact that CO2 causes warming, you stick to your pet theory of man-made warming, and then to buttress support you might use a model that it built on the idea that CO2 causes warming.

    [Response: Increased CO2 causes warming because it is a greenhouse gas. How difficult is that to understand? - gavin]

  135. Nick Gotts:

    “I really don’t get it. With so much at stake, and with so many people to persuade (as in the population of the world, no less), why is there not more public, face-to-face debate?” – DVG

    You’re right – you really don’t get it. There’s a reason why public, face-to-face debate is not an important part of the institutional systems of science: it’s a crappy way of trying to get at the truth. That’s why creationists (to give an example from beyond the AGW issue) are so keen on such debates: they give the advantage to those who are prepared to use rhetorical tricks, and just plain make stuff up, over those with real, in-depth knowledge (with its inevitable caveats), and the citations to back what they are saying. The primary arena for debating scientific issues is the peer-reviewed literature. Blogs form a reasonable secondary arena – because points made can be challenged, and failure to answer a challenge, or to answer it adequately, can become evident.

  136. DVG:

    Re Gavin’s response to my post (#122).

    Just because Gavin declares I want “political theatre” doesn’t mean I do. And in fact, I don’t. Sure, I realize any debate participant can use tactics that are deceptive (theatrical), but in the long run, truth usually does out, at least for most reasonably intellient debate audience members. I actually did read the article Gavin linked me to some time ago. It made valid points but I ultimately disagreed with its pessimism about the ability to constructively use debate in the context of “scientific questions” (as if “scientific questions” are SO special). If scientific questions can’t be debated in a practical, productive way, I think we’re simply doomed, unless we decide to move away from democratic forms of government and at the same time are lucky enough to have the correct set of scientifically brilliant dictators that run our individual and collective lives.

    Beyond that, for whatever my opinion is worth, I think the AGW alarmists (hate to use labels but I have to) will simply lose in the court of public opinion (which will be the court that counts) if they are unwilling to debate. They are asking people to just believe them when they say they truly know that human habitability will desimate decades from now and when they consequently demand that we ALL spend what are heretofore unimaginable amounts of our current wealth to avoid something we can’t see, touch, generally experience or practically know about. With the kicker being that we’re told these questions can’t be meaningfully ‘debated’ — for our decision making benefit — among those (with great scientific credentials on all sides) of differing opinions.

    [Response: Where have I claimed any of these things? On the contrary, I have continued to assert that the future course of climate is uncertain in many respects - but that uncertainty is not your friend when it comes to minimising risk. Oh and by the way, relative to the current stimulus package or the Iraq war, costs of any reasonable mitigation effort are certainly not 'unimaginable'. These issue of what to do about this can and should be debated - but formal 'debates' where nominally intelligent opponents continually put out disinformation that they know is a crock and you..... oh sorry we've run out of time. That is a waste of time. There is a really good reason why the National Academies or the IPCC spend months and years on their assessments, that jury trials can take weeks, that inquests months. That is because it takes time to get beyond the crap. People who insist that scientists (who have risen to their positions on the back of careful and measured work in the technical literature) debate showmen and charlatans (who have risen to their positions by being very good at entertaining) and win over every audience in the space of an hour, are not being serious - they are just throwing the game. Science is not decided on the basis of rhetorical skill, nor or oratorical delivery. Why then insist that those be the field of combat? - gavin]

    Of course, Gavin WILL be willing to talk to us one-on-one (he says so). But I know he can snow me one-on-one, just as could Freeman Dyson or Richard Lindzen or Patrick Michaels or John Christy.

    Ultimately, if I can’t have the benefit of meaningful debate (which I very much think is possible) I and most others (non-scientists, though not stupid) will say: nope, not willing to buy on that basis.

  137. Deech56:

    Jarad, for the monthly sea ice extent charts, also please notice that the base extent used to calculate the anomalies is different for each month. That should be an indication that we’re looking at different sets of numbers.

    captcha: the winfield I think I stayed there once.

  138. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “The question is not whether Dyson is smart or whether he knows the basic physics.”

    A more important question is whether he knows the basic facts — the actual, empirically observed facts relevant to anthropogenic climate change.

    A flaw that I sometimes observe in extremely intelligent people is that they seem to think their powerful intelligence relieves them from any reliance on puny, boring facts. They seem to imagine that they can reach conclusions through pure “reason”.

    Unfortunately, even the most powerful intelligence and the most careful “reasoning” applied to baseless assumptions, unexamined prejudices, and misinformation does not tend to yield good results.

  139. Hank Roberts:

    David Brin put it well recently:

    “See an interesting profile of Freeman Dyson, who has suggested not that Global Warming isn’t happening… (only dingbats and those whores at Cato believe that)… but that there may be a lot of net good to arise out of the warming trend. He makes some interesting points, and I agree that chicken little scurrying may have gone too far. On the other hand, rapid transitions… ANY rapid transitions, inevitably spur disruption, habitat extinctions, desertification and local desperation. Some locales that turn desperate will also have nuclear weapons. Read and be provoked.”
    http://beta.bloglines.com/b/preview?siteid=7906159

  140. SecularAnimist:

    DVG wrote: “They are asking people to just believe them …”

    Scientists are not asking anyone to “believe” them. They are asking people to look at the facts:

    1. Carbon dioxide is a known “greenhouse gas”. Increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 cause the Earth system to retain more of the Sun’s energy, and thus get warmer. This is a FACT that has been known for over a century, and that can be easily and repeatedly demonstrated in a laboratory. No “belief” is required.

    2. Human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, have over the last century rapidly and dramatically increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2. This is an empirically observed FACT. The concentration of CO2 has been measured, and its source determined. No “belief” is required.

    3. The anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is, as expected, causing the Earth system to heat up. It is also leading to carbon uptake by the oceans, causing them to become more acidic. These are empirically observed FACTs. The warming has been measured. The acidification of the oceans has been measured. The cause has been determined. No “belief” is required.

    4. The empirically observed anthropogenic warming of the Earth system is already causing rapid and extreme changes to the Earth’s climate, hydrosphere, and biosphere. These changes are empirically observed FACTS. No “belief” is required.

    5. Anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are not only increasing, but accelerating. Again, this is an empirically observed FACT. No “belief” is required.

    DVG wrote: “… they consequently demand that we ALL spend what are heretofore unimaginable amounts of our current wealth to avoid something we can’t see, touch, generally experience or practically know about.”

    Plenty of people are already seeing, touching and generally experiencing — and suffering harm from — the effects of anthropogenic global warming. All indications are that unmitigated AGW will produce even more extreme effects, which will be overwhelmingly detrimental to human beings.

    And no one is demanding that you or anyone else spend “heretofore unimaginable amounts of our current wealth” to mitigate global warming. The costs of effectively mitigating global warming would not be large in comparison to other things that human societies routinely and uncontroversially spend resources on when they are deemed important — for example, the $1.3 TRILLION PER YEAR the nations of the world now spend on wars and the military.

    The costs of mitigation are routinely exaggerated by particular industries, i.e. the fossil fuel corporations, who would indeed lose hundreds of billions of dollars in profit to other, new energy industries that would quickly replace them if human civilization made the rapid transition away from fossil fuels that is needed to mitigate AGW.

    On the other hand, the costs of adapting — or rather of attempting to adapt — to unmitigated global warming are likely to be so astronomical that they will crush the world’s economy under the burden.

    The economic question of global warming basically comes down to huge, short-term profits for a tiny minority, vs. the long-term survival of human civilization. Which side are you on?

  141. walter crain:

    gavin,
    interesting link about the various kinds of debate/discussion etc… of course you are absolutely right that no scientific progress can be made in a public forum. but, while scientists eschew the scientifically-pointless debates, denialists have already taken the discussion to the people. the discussion IS HAPPENING whether scientists want it to or not. by virtue of having gotten here first, and being so relentless, “skeptics” have garnered a MUCH larger “market share” than they should have.

    elsewhere on this blog, someone made the point that blog-style debates over the course of several days are much better than in-person debates in front of a live audience. on that i totally agree.

  142. Jim Bouldin:

    DVG:

    “Ultimately, if I can’t have the benefit of meaningful debate (which I very much think is possible) I and most others (non-scientists, though not stupid) will say: nope, not willing to buy on that basis.”

    On WHAT basis? That the scientific process is somehow inadequate as a basis for understanding and communicating the topic??

    Your entire argument can be summarized simply as a REFUSAL to do the work necessary to understand the topic. That’s why you want a sound-bite debate where you can just plop down in front of the TV and have someone “explain” it to you. The fact is, you really don’t care enough about the issue to do the necessary work, or you WOULD do it. The unfortunate fact is that there are millions more with exactly the same problem in this country. Don’t expect others to do your homework for you.

    Like so many others, you can’t discern between the different roles that entities play in the process of generating and communicating knowledge.

  143. Hank Roberts:

    > a MUCH larger “market share”
    [citation needed to some credible poll; many different numbers out there]

    > than they should have
    [arguable, not answerable]
    _________________________
    ReCaptcha: “Lemon donor”

  144. Alan Millar:

    “Response: Increased CO2 causes warming because it is a greenhouse gas. How difficult is that to understand? – gavin]”

    Not difficult at all. However, why do you and most other people posting here, use this utterly simplistic statement of physics to justify AGW on the planet Earth?

    I can also give a simplistic example of physics. Put the end of a bar of steel in a bowl of hot water and measure how long it takes the other end to warm up. Do the same with a bar of wood, lead, iron etc. You will soon see they all warm eventually but at different rates and you can draw conclusions that confirm a known law of physics.

    Now put an inanimate cellular based object in the bowl and voila the same effect.

    Now put your feet in the bowl and wait for your head to warm up. OOPS! What has gone wrong with the physics? Nothing of course. However this physical law is now operating in a dynamic environment where the heat may trigger other processes within the object/system.

    Unless you can confirm that you have an excellent understanding of all the possible significant connected processes within the Earths climate system (Sun, oceanic circulation, clouds, biomass response, albedo etc etc etc) and how changes in one might drive changes in others then how can you possibly predict the future?

    If anyone says that they have settled the science because of such an understanding I would call them naive, a liar or deluded.

    Alan

    [Response: Brilliant logic. The question was why we consider CO2 (etc.) to have contributed to the magnitude of the ice age cycles. The answer is because it is a greenhouse gas. Your response is to state that other things might be going on. This is of course true, but CO2 is still a greenhouse gas. How can we predict warming in the future? Because CO2 is a greenhouse gas and we are increasing it by 2ppm a year. If you think this is a matter of debate you are either naive, a liar or deluded. - gavin]

  145. walter crain:

    hank,
    i understand that those are imprecise terms, and i have no citations, but i’m pretty sure there’s a higher percentage of laymen who are AGW “skeptics” than scientists who are “skeptics.” heck, i could cite that book, “lies, damn lies and science” for that stat. by “should have” – i’m imagining a world where laymen are well-informed and our opinions match the scientific consensus. by that standard, laymen “skeptics” should be an extremely small percentage.

  146. Chris Colose:

    DVG,

    “Scientific debate” and discussion occurs all the time in the peer-reviewed literature, academic conferences, etc. Real debate on climate change happens on much more specific topics such as how ENSO patterns will evolve in the 21st century, how hurricanes will be influenced by increased temperatures, etc. Debating whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas or other tiresome issues is as productive as debating flat-earthers. “The public” does not serve as a scientific jury because science evolves through data, theory, falsification, etc…not articulate talking or majority vote. It’s very easy to present misleading information that looks convincing…the general public will believe a lot of things that take the form of colorful graphs and fancy equations.

    Those who request public debates all the time have no desire to learn the science, and will continue to request debates. It doesn’t matter how many debates are won or lost, or if they even occur; it’s a stall tactic to prolong any action until we have 101% knowledge of everything.

  147. Michael:

    SecularAnimist, do you agree that mitigation cost scenarios must include the costs of adaptation, since regardless if we act or not we will still see more warming?

  148. Chris Colose:

    So Alan, suppose I start a fire with a match. Suppose the fire then spreads to a gas can, which then blows up and makes the fire much worse. After all is said and done, do you then conclude that the gas can had no effect at all just because it didn’t *start* the fire?

    This logic is widely accepted among skeptics and is why most of their arguments are very easy to invalidate. Think before you make arguments. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find any skeptic with something productive to say.

  149. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #134 MikeN

    There are apparently quite a few holes in your understanding of CO2 and warming. You need context probably, so here’s a bit of context.

    1. CO2 is a tiny fraction of our atmosphere.
    2. Without that tiny fraction of CO2, the earth would be a giant frozen ball in space.

    A Tiny Fraction of CO2
    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment/john_coleman/the-amazing-story-behind-the-global-warming-scam

    CO2 Lag
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/co2-lag

    Natural Cycle
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle

    Milankovitch Cycles
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/milankovitch-cycles

    and of course, just put Co2 lag in the realclimate search box and you will get some truly great stuff to help you understand.

    It’s a good idea to read up on the science and relevant materials prior to making claims that are born of a myopic or grossly incomplete understanding.

  150. Lawrence Brown:

    Re:#84
    I won’t address your comments since Ray and Ike already have. However, Dyson also goes after James Hansen in a recent profile in the NY Times(Mar. 29)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&sq=Story%20on%20Freeman%20Dyson%20in%20the%20March%2029%20Magazine%20Section&st=cse&scp=1
    where it reads in part:
    “Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”
    and further on:
    “The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers.”

    Now Hansen is a horse of another color. He epitomizes someone who uses the scientific method, use of the much maligned models as well as observed data. Hansen has been studying climate science intensely for at least 3 decades and doesn’t make statements lightly. I don’t know how long Dyson has been studying the field, but by his own admission, he gets antsy after looking at a problem for a relatively short time.
    From the same article:

    “In the 1970s, Dyson participated in other climate studies conducted by Jason, a small government-financed group of the country’s finest scientists, whose members gather each summer near San Diego to work on (often) classified (usually) scientific dilemmas of (frequently) military interest to the government. Dyson has, as he admits, a restless nature, and by the time many scientists were thinking about climate, Dyson was on to other problems.”

    Significantly, Jim Hansen didn’t go on to other problems. There are other real problems that need addressing but that’s no excuse to claim that global warming isn’t happening.

    A word about ideology. My education and experience are in civil engineering, so you can take my rantings on political ideology with a ton of salt, but many conservatives have a kneejerk reaction when it comes to anything resembling,ironically, conservation. Individuals like McCain and Shwarznegger aren’t from the arch conservative school, and are more open minded than those on the far right, who have done considerable damage in preventing action to address this problem over the past 8 years.

  151. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #141 walter crain

    Yes, the discussion is happening in the public. Yes, the science is not settled. Yes, we are now ‘very’ confident it is human caused (IPCC) though I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.

    Are you asking more scientists to get into a

    ‘Rhetoric v. Science’

    debate, where the rhetorical advocates will bludgeon the scientists with irrelevance, made up graphs, and facts out of context? That will not advance awareness; or those advocates such as S. Fred Singer who simply states, that it’s all just “bunk”, without any reasonable substantiation, thus leaving the public in a state of confusion after the debate?

    This is a multifaceted problem. The best the scientists can do, in my opinion, is do the science and present the science, and hope the public learns begins to pay more attention to the science and not the media or the lobbyist lackeys.

    The crap flingers will keep flinging crap. It ultimately is up to the public to determine what really stinks and what is real and doesn’t stink. Maybe you can help people understand? In each of our spheres and to the extent we can reach, we all need to help people understand the science as best we can.

    Sorry for the stinking analogy :)

    I think it is reasonable to see that the scientists need to keep doing what they do best and substantiate the science and present it to us. If we are too stupid, ignorant, naive, or otherwise distracted from seeing the truth of it all, then we are to blame to such extent, for not getting it.

  152. KSW:

    Chris Colose,

    You came close to answering a question that I have been thinking about and perhaps you or someone else can expand on the theme.

    Of course the idea that ‘the debate is over’ is nonsense and I don’t think there is a climatologist in the world that believes that the current climate models are as good as they will be in 10, 20 or more years from now.

    So my question is: what are the top ten (or whatever) unknowns or main areas of debate in climate science?

    Cheers.

  153. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    Texas gets the AGW booby prize or shame award. It has just passed legislation that will mandate teaching the contrarian conjectures of AGW along side any teaching of AGW in public schools (and I had only thought they were into displacing evolution with creationism).

    Now that’s willfully wrong advocacy, and not science at all.

    Anyway, if any of you live in Texas, please sign the Environmental Defense Fund petition to the state school board at http://action.edf.org/campaign/TX_SBOE_alert

    Here’s what EDF says about it:

    The Texas State Board of Education has just issued a new decision to require the teaching of arguments against the existence of global warming.

    That’s right — global warming deniers on the SBOE are peddling their anti-science propaganda to our children.

    Enough is enough.

    Please sign our petition urging the Board of Education to teach science in science classes.

    The science of global warming is nearly as well established as the science of gravity.

    Scientists have been probing the issue of the greenhouse effect for more than 175 years — since before Texas was even a republic.

    No fewer than 32 national science academies, including the U.S. Academy of Sciences, have not only warned about the real threat of global warming, but have also advocated for government action to address it.

    . . .

    Let’s be very clear: There is no real debate on the science of global warming. There is only a political debate about how to solve the crisis.

    As part of that political debate, those who oppose global warming action — and stand to gain financially by continued dependence on fossil fuels — have vigorously pursued a propaganda campaign to manufacture public doubt.

    And our kids are now caught in the middle.

    It is an outrage that the SBOE is playing into the propaganda campaign and exposing our children to junk science. This is not fair to our kids, who will be forced to compete in a world where the study of real science is taken seriously.

    It’s time for the SBOE to acknowledge that the earth is round, Elvis is dead, and, yes, global warming is real.

    Please sign our petition today.

  154. Krog:

    RE: Post #134.
    I am also confused by the logic shown in the “RC Explanation”. I do not doubt that “increased CO2 causes warming because it is a greenhouse gas”. However, in the example, increasing CO2 is lagging the temperature increase. Given that something other than CO2 caused the first 800 years of temperature increase, how is it possible to conclude that CO2 caused the remaining “5/6″ of the increase? I would assume that whatever caused the first 800 years of increase is still active.

    [Response: You misread the line. The lag implies only that initial warming was not triggered by CO2 thus while some portion of the subsequent warming is likely to be a feedback, not all of it will be. If you do the calculations, the effects of the three important GHGs (CO2, CH4 and N2O) supply about 40% of the net warming effect coming out of the ice maximum. - gavin]

  155. trrll:

    While there are few absolute benchmarks to truth, when it comes to scientific matters, one can pretty much be certain that the side that demands public debate is in the wrong. Who does this? People who believe that “intelligent design” is a better explanation for the origin of species than evolution. People who believe that mercury in vaccines cause autism. People who believe that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. When there is a huge mass of evidence against your point of view, or when your arguments are fallacious and will not stand up to logical scrutiny, your only chance of success is to insist on a forum with time limits and without opportunity for cross-examination, so your opposition will not have time to expose the flaws in your arguments. In the limited time frame of a public debate, one can always throw out more false claims and fallacies than your opponent will be able to rebut.

  156. Cardin Drake:

    Well, I have waded through most of this. Perhaps I overlooked it, but I haven’t seen a response to #67 “Recently, Wong et al (Wong, Wielicki et al, 2006, Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data, J. Clim., 19, 4028-4040) have reassessed their data to reduce the magnitude of the anomaly, but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments.”

    When people say “the science is settled on global warming”, it may be but only in the sense that even the skeptics acknowledge that C02 is a greenhouse gas. The part that isn’t settled, and by far the most contentious point is the sign of the feedback, as well as the magnitude. Has Lindzen then settled the sign, and we are only left arguing the magnitude?
    Isn’t any negative feedback still game, set, match, on whether we should really be worried about global warming, or if it will be relatively benign?

    [Response: No. Because a low climate sensitivity is inconsistent with everything we know about paleo-climate - particularly the ice ages. Why Lindzen's comment is convincing to you I hesitate to guess. What are these reasons to doubt the corrections? Does he have privileged information that the satellite orbits didn't decay the way NASA thinks they did? Basically he's asking you to simply not pay attention to the corrections - hardly a scientific argument. And he is simply wrong about the new data implying a significant negative feedback - the NET changes can't be distinguished from zero or the expected imbalance - there is simply too much noise. - gavin]

  157. Joe:

    In my mind there’s no doubt increasing CO2 is causing warming. This is not the issue. THe issue is the connection between science and politics. In my mind no one is so far really able to say what are the consequences of agw and what we should do about it.

    Seeing is believing.. meaning that as long as the sea level is not rising where I have my boat, I am probably not going to be concerned.

    [Response: Where is your boat? - gavin]

  158. David B. Benson:

    Alan Millar (144) — How much do yu want to study? A systematic study of climatology would do worse thatn to begin with (in order)

    “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” by W.F. Ruddiman,
    “The Long Thaw” by David Archer,
    “Earth’s Climate: Past and Future” by W.F. Ruddiman

    and then continue with more advanced texts such as Ray Pierrehumbert’s

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

    or you can go to the top of this page to click on the Start Here button; therein you’ll find, among many other resources, “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart. Everybody going past the first two books I listed will want to read Weart’s well-done history.

  159. Hank Roberts:

    KSW — try Google Scholar, that will give you an idea what is going on.
    Paste your question into the search box. Results include:

    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/95/S1/S39

    http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/rapidpdf/0963662508094099v1.pdf
    Self-censorship and science: a geographical review of media coverage
    Antilla Public Understanding of Science.2008; 0: 0963662508094099v1

    (All Sage academic publications are free for the month of April 2009 with registration, a brief special offer. Get’em while you can.)

    http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/events/ecol-economics08/bergh-reading1.pdf

    http://www.gechs.org/downloads/holmen/Busby.pdf

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qp7rKT56fw0C&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=what+are+the+top+ten+(or+whatever)+unknowns+or+main+areas+of+debate+in+climate+science%3F&ots=VNVyNxCLXs&sig=xg-miam6B_7rtAqy9xrICq3c5A0

    http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/18/1/23

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=L0nOaMe91w4C&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=what+are+the+top+ten+(or+whatever)+unknowns+or+main+areas+of+debate+in+climate+science%3F&ots=_ThpYIcAJO&sig=61SWvFfp2JDEQSdTFX7jGH8qMLE#PPA2,M1
    and website: http://thereporterswell.com/_wsn/page15.html

    That’s just a few that are responsive to your question.
    Read for yourself. In the opinion of ReCaptcha:
    _______________
    “gropings only”

  160. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #157 Joe

    Are you suggesting that humans and/or corporations, or governments, should not be responsible for their actions?

    Since as you state, there is no doubt in your mind that “increasing CO2 is causing warming”, and since we know the increases are coming from industrial output, and since we now have a good understanding of some of the major near and longer term implications, are you saying we should wait until all those things happen before we do anything?

    Since the actions of man today are fully expected to raise the sea level, are you saying that we should not do anything about it until after the sea level rises and millions are displaced?

    And if this is your position, how is that responsible, since we know that “increasing CO2 is causing warming”?

    If on the other hand your point is that humans tend not to be concerned until they see the results of their actions, then that is somewhat understandable, but it is still not accepting responsibility. Said another way, it’s simply irresponsible.

  161. Krog:

    RE# 154
    “..some portion of the subsequent warming is likely to be a feedback..”. This seems reasonable and contradicts the statement, troubling to me, that 5/6 of the warming could be caused by CO2. In fact, “5/6ths of the warming” could not have been caused by CO2, but only “some portion” of the 5/6 s’ leaving an uncertain portion to be the result of cause unknown.

    Krog

    [Response: It's not a cause unknown. It is the changes in orbital forcing impacting the growth and decay of the ice sheets. And if you work it out, those GHG changes cause about 40% of the total temperature shift - the rest being due to the presence of the ice sheets, changes in vegetation and a dustier atmosphere. - gavin]

  162. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #134 MikeN

    Sorry MikeN, I should have included this as well so you can get the percentages in perspective.

    Tiny Fraction, Atmospheric Composition
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/atmospheric-composition

    However, keep in mind these percentages are changing as we increase CO2 and other GHG’s, as that warms the oceans and atmosphere, and more H2O enters the atmosphere and averages up in the positive feedback.

  163. Hank Roberts:

    Michel writes:
    > mitigation cost scenarios must include the costs of adaptation,

    Do you understand the difference?
    That’s like counting chickens, counting all the eggs as chickens.

    Does the phrase ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ sound familiar to you? Do you understand the difference?

    Early mitigation has great leverage; adaptation has no leverage at all.

    The earlier the mitigation the more valuable it is.

  164. MikeN:

    #149 and #154 responding to #134. I have read your link, but it doesn’t convince me of anything. What I am getting at is that it is possible it is the warming which is causing the CO2 increase. I think you accept this for all but the current time period. Is that correct?
    Then you have to have some way of calculating how much will the CO2 increase from the initial warming over 800 years. Has this mechanism been explained?

    The problem I am seeing is that all of your explanations are built on the model, then you say only x% of the warming is natural. But the data itself challenges the assumptions behind the model, namely that CO2 goes up after warming, and not before. How can you then defend the model by using the model which assumes higher CO2 means more warming?

    [Response: You can calculate the amount of extra CO2 that might be due to the warming from the ice age changes. Specifically, for a global mean change of about 5 deg C, CO2 increased by about 100 ppm (180 to 280ppm) after many thousands of years. That is a long-term feedback of ~20 ppm/deg C. Over the last 100 years, we have increased maybe 0.8 deg C - which might eventually lead to a 0.8*20= 16ppm increase in CO2 in a few hundred years, much less so far. However, CO2 has already increased by 105ppm. There is no question that the vast majority of that rise is anthropogenic. The reasons why CO2 increases in a warmer world are thought to be related partly to ocean solubility, partly to changes in ocean stratification and partly to biological activity - with some of the details still uncertain. This implies that as the planet warms now as a function of human-added CO2, sooner or later the planet is going to start adding to the burden (or equivalently be less eager to mop up our emissions). - gavin]

  165. David B. Benson:

    KSW (152) — It is not a debate. There are some areas in which scientific understanding is lower than we would like. So scientific studies, observations and calculations, are particularly valuable in those aspects. Two of these are clouds and aersols, but further advances do not come from debating.

  166. MikeN:

    I still get the impression that you are doing exactly what you criticize in your post.
    >decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

    My previous post seems to have disappeared.
    Do you accept that previous warmings have caused an increase in CO2, or is that still an open issue?
    It looks to me like you are starting with a model that assumes CO2 causes more warming, and then use that model to defend all challenges to the idea that CO2 causes more warming. Isn’t there also the same lag on the downwards end as well? So a cooling is causing less CO2, and a warming is causing more CO2. How do you separate the amount of warming coming from feedbacks, with the amount that is naturally caused?

    I have seen your various posts in response to climate myths, and this is the least rigorous of all. All you say is that there is another 4000 years of warming so that was caused by CO2. However, it could be that most of that CO2 increase is caused by warming which itself is caused by another force. How can you justify using the same model that is being challenged? This is circular reasoning- my model says more CO2 causes more warming, therefore more CO2 causes more warming based on my model.

    [Response: It's not the model that says CO2 cause warming, it is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that cause warming. This has been measured in laboratories for over 140 years. - gavin]

  167. Michael:

    Hank, if humans disappeared from the earth tomorrow, we would still have warming in the pipeline, correct? (mainly due to a delayed response of the C02 we have already added to the atmosphere)

    How about a more realistic scenario 2 where we phase out all fossil fuels over the next 30 years – are we not going to have to adapt to the increased temps?

    I think regardless if we mitigate or not there will still be adaptation costs.

  168. MikeN:

    OK it appears there is a time lag between posts too.

    I thought it was an 800 year time lag, why does the last 100 years matter? Plus, the CO2 concentration vs temperature is not linear, so how can 16ppm be right?

    [Response: I don't think it is. It was just to demonstrate the upper bound. There is abundant evidence the recent increases in CO2 are anthropogenic and not natural. - gavin]

  169. Carrick:

    So, would people here consider realclimate a scientific website or an advocacy website?

    And is that a good thing or a bad thing? (To clarify some people here “advocate” for advocacy over pure scientific rigor.)

    [Response: We advocate for scientific rigor. - gavin]

  170. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    An interesting article in the NY Times compares the US legal system where each side picks their own experts with the European and other countries’ legal systems where the court appoints the experts.
    “Judges think that if we could just have a place in the adversarial trial that was a little less adversarial and a little more scientific, everything would be fine,” Professor Edmond said. “But science can be very acrimonious.”

    In U.S., Expert Witnesses Are Partisan
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/us/12experts.html?pagewanted=2

  171. Chris Colose:

    MikeN and others,

    It should not at all be surprising that CO2 can “lag” planetary temperature changes. After all, changes in vegetation and other biological activity from enhanced (reduced) ice cover or temperatures, changes in the solubility of gases in ocean water, etc should alter atmospheric chemistry. Such carbon cycle feedbacks, in fact, were predicted before it was observed in the ice core record.

    In order to put as much CO2 into the atmosphere at the end of each ice age as is recorded in proxy records, the deep ocean must have been involved. A principle mechanism is the creation of upwelling favorable conditions in the Southern Ocean to vent CO2 from the deep waters, particularly as the Intertropical Convergence Zone shifted closer to the equator and the southern westerlies shifted further toward Antarctica. This is discussed on my blog with corresponding comments from the lead author of a recent Science paper on the issue. Key mechanisms and ideas resulting in changes in biogeochemical boundary conditions going along with temperature changes between glacial-interglacial cycles is described in
    http://faculty.washington.edu/battisti/589paleo2005/Papers/SigmanBoyle2000.pdf

    One of the key papers cited by global warming skeptics for making the “CO2 lags temperature” (for instance it is done so in the popularized “Swindle Video”) argument is Caillon et al 2003. In their conclusion, they specifically note that changes in pCO2 have come essentially exclusively from anthropogenic sources in the industrial era. As gavin noted the rate of glacial-interglacial CO2 variation is significantly less (he quotes ~20 ppm/degree C change) and at least an order of magnitude slower than today. Isotopic signatures and increased carbon in the oceans show that the CO2 rise today is not from natural feedback.

    It would be much more common to see CO2 “lagging” in this context because you don’t expect massive injections of “externally forced” carbon into the atmosphere, although relevant paleo-examples can be found if you look hard enough (e.g., the PETM). Because rather abrupt injections at the rate which occurred during the PETM or industrial age is rare in the geologic record, there are no very good analogs for climate change on the timescale of a century associated with greenhouse gases. The paleoclimate record is very consistent however concerning the relationship between CO2 and global temperatures over geologic timescales.

    In contrast to chemical feedbacks associated with disturbances in the ocean and biosphere, CO2 warms the planet through established principles of radiative physics, particularly the ability to allow the inflow of energy in the planet system to exceed outflow. Accordingly, thinking of CO2 as “leading” or “lagging” all the time is not very good, since the two mechanisms are intrinsically related…although important carbon feedbacks from natural temperature changes occur on timescales longer than the last few decades, and so the change in CO2 is essentially all from fossil fuel emissions and deforestation/land use changes.

    AGW makes no claims about the ability of “other factors” to be involved in climate change– either contemporary or in the past. Changes in the Earth’s orbit and many other things can change temperature. The relevant claim and the dictates of the physics says that CO2 must warm the planet, regardless of any superimposed natural variability. There is no contradiction between orbital changes putting more sunlight at the poles on millennial timescales to take the planet in and out of ice ages, and the ability of modern CO2 to cause warming. The paleo-record confirms that we understand the basic workings of climate change much more than it contradicts it.

  172. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #97 Jarad Holmes

    The 2007 Arctic Ice contained a lot of multi-year ice compared to 2008. It is clear in the following figure that the difference between 2007 and 2008 is that there was a tremendous loss of multiyear ice, not a buildup.

    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20081002_seaice_pressrelease.html#fig4

    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20081002_seaice_pressrelease.html
    NSIDC Research Scientist Walt Meier said, “Warm ocean waters helped contribute to ice losses this year, pushing the already thin ice pack over the edge. In fact, preliminary data indicates that 2008 probably represents the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record, partly because less multiyear ice is surviving now, and the remaining ice is so thin.” (See Figure 4.)
    http://nsidc.org/news/images/20081002_Figure4.jpg

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2008/040708.html
    So what about the multi-year ice that remained after last year’s record ice loss? Jennifer Kay and colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that last summer’s clear skies allowed for more intense melt of the multiyear ice, leaving it thinner than normal at summer’s end.

  173. Jim Eager:

    Re MikeN @134, Who was it that was saying that no one denies that CO2 causes warming anymore?

  174. Alan Millar:

    “Response: It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming, it is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that cause warming. This has been measured in laboratories for over 140 years. – gavin”

    Gavin I have previously referred to the erroneous logic of saying more atmospheric CO2 automatically means more warming in a dynamic planetary system. You need to have a very clear understanding of all the related dynamics.

    For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth. If there is some sort of direct relationship between global planetary temperatures and CO2 concentations what should that tell us about the temperatures on Mars compared to those of the the Earth?

    [Response: Who claimed such a thing? However CO2 is a greenhouse gas on whichever planet it is found though the impact depends very much on the structure of the planet's atmosphere. The total greenhouse effect from CO2 on Mars is a few degrees. - gavin]

    If CO2 levels quadroupled on Mars what would we expect to see in Martian global temperature response?

    [Response: Yes. Why would you think otherwise?]

    I suspect you may have some difficulty in answering that question. I would! Yet the Martian climate system should be much easier to predict, (no tectonics, hardly any water vapour ((the real greenhouse gas)) etc) than the Earths system.

    It is just an indication how far away we are from having a robust planetary climate science predictive model.

    [Response: huh? - gavin]

    Alan

  175. chris colose:

    Keep in mind Mars’ very low atmospheric pressures prevent it from having a significant greenhouse effect.

  176. MIke Strong:

    For what it is worth about NSIDC polar ice trends:
    After looking at the MONTHLY average sea ice trends on the NSIDC website… my curiosity got to me about the published percentage of growth or shrinkage of sea ice at the poles.

    The monthly trend graph as of March 31 shows that the Arctic is shrinking at a rate of -2.7% per decade, and now the Antarctic growing at the rate of +4.7% per decade.

    So, being a good little engineer, I imported the actual published data tables used for the NSIDC graphs. There are about 350 data points (each) for the nearly 30 years of monthly averages of each type of ice trend: Arctic Extent, Arctic Area, Antarctic Extent, Antarctic Area.

    Unless my spreadsheet and trend graphs are radically incorrect because of some typo or bad import of their data, I got different results from their graphs. But, then again, my results use an average (mean) from 1979 and includes everything up through March 31, 2009. This is what Arctic ROOS does also (i.e. they -Arctic ROOS- don’t pick 1979-2000 as some sort of “normal” average, leaving out 30 % of the 30 years of gathered data like the NSIDC does).

    First off, the GLOBAL averages over all 12 months of the year are as follows:

    Extent: 15.05 million sq. kilometers (both poles averaged throughout the entire year)
    Area: 18.55 million square kilometers

    In graphing the trends, I got curious results that show a definite 30-year downward trend in oversall global sea ice since the 1979 satellite data commenced, as follows:

    Global Ice Area decline of 4.3 % in the last 30 years (1.4 % per decade)
    Global Ice Extent decline of 3.3 % in 30 years (1.1 % per decade)

    This included the 2007 minimums in the averages, which did impact the trend. Obviously this does not include thickness and ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent.

    My only real issue is that this is only for 30 years of data. We all know about the little ice age, and the warm periods in the year 400 or so. And there are all those pictures of submarines coming through the ice near the Arctic north pole in the 1930s…and the conflicting pictures of Arctic hard freezes in the 60s.

    hmmmm.

  177. MikeN:

    It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact, and the CO2 time lag challenges this fact, and in response you write that the model establishes the time lag is irrelevant. Hence my saying that you are doing exactly what you criticize, clinging to your theory. Mr Colose’s response is much better than what you have on your site.

  178. wmanny:

    John, to 151, I’m thinking you might want to rewrite:

    “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.”

    The absence of explanation does not constitute 100% certainty, virtual or otherwise.

    This business of assuming, for example, that current certainties will be unaffected by that which we don’t yet understand about clouds, dust or ice sheets, is problematic to say the least. You often hear the complaint mockingly phrased, “It’s got to be CO2 because we can’t think of anything else,” and while that’s too glib, it does illustrate the point that there may – repeat – may be an overemphasis on what is well understand.

  179. Hank Roberts:

    Alan, where are you getting your assumptions?

    Have you read anything about the science on planetary atmospheres?
    If so, what, please?

  180. chris colose:

    MikeN, this is kind of tedious– my response is not much different than what RC has said in a variety of posts/comments. Please be aware that this “CO2 lags temperature” meme has existed for many years now and has kind of died out, so please don’t take the impatience of others as being dismissive. Your assertions cannot even be evaluated scientifically because they make no sense logically. You’re saying that chickens coming before eggs “challenges” eggs coming before chickens. The fact is that CO2 is rising today as a result of anthropogenic emissions (not natural feedbacks) and CO2 causes temperature rise by inhibiting radiation loss to space. The converse does not need to be true or false for this to make sense. And the models don’t “assume this fact.” The models run on the physics and the physics mandates increased warming in a higher-CO2 world. I hope that this can be the last comment on this issue.

  181. Chris Dunford:

    “Advocate” George Will has written another one of his always amusing columns. This time he’s taking on, of all things, compact fluorescent bulbs. Don’t ask.

    I mention this not because the column is particularly interesting but because some might get a kick out of this brilliant Tom Toles cartoon. (Toles is the Post‘s regular editorial cartoonist.)

  182. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #178 wmanny

    No, I don’t think I want to rewrite it. While I am using the expression to generalize to a near degree, I’m ‘virtually’ certain this global warming event is 100% human caused. Especially since we are supposed to be at or around -0.1W/m2 or 0.0W/m2 in accord with the natural cycle rather than at our current +3.8 W/m2 + aerosols -2.0 W/m2 – Schwabe -0.2 W//m2 = +1.6 W/m2. Although I would add to it that the models match the measurements well, so it does not appear that there are any major problems with the models.

    I would also add that there seems to be a lot of decent understanding on the other issues you mention and certainly the science is not settled in many of the finer points and some of the more interesting points such as methane.

    It’s reasonable to assume that as the ice sheets go away we will have less albedo form them and that should add to the warming.

    Dust I can not speak much about but dust is temporary and Co2 has a long atmospheric lifetime. Clouds are interesting but I don’t see any magic cooling cloud effect associated with global warming in the paleo record that magically balances everything out so I don’t think that will lean negative either.

    And lastly, it’s not just CO2. it’s CH4 and NO2 H2O and Hi GWP’s compounded by feedback mechanisms, along with lots of aerosol pollution throwing a big monkey wrench in our current and future predicament. So, no, it’s not just CO2.

    So I don’t think I am overemphasizing what is well understood, or under emphasizing what is less understood but rather I am conformable at this point with the phrase “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused”.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virtually

    1 : almost entirely : nearly
    2 : for all practical purposes

    If you want to see an overview of the arguments and perspectives I have collected take a look.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths

    and

    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment

  183. dhogaza:

    An aside – the Toles cartoon is brilliant, saw it elsewhere earlier today.

    Alan Millar:

    For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth. If there is some sort of direct relationship between global planetary temperatures and CO2 concentations what should that tell us about the temperatures on Mars compared to those of the the Earth?

    In addition to things said above, where’s the water that would lead to the amplifying feedback we see here on earth?

    And also … do you really think thousands of scientists working on climatology, not just for this planet, but for others. have missed something as basic and stupid as you raise as proof that the whole field is made of idiots?

    MikeN:

    No but the model assumes this fact

    Well, sure, it’s been shown in laboratory experiments and has been known for 150 years.

    You’re really saying that climate models should ignore known physics?

    In favor of what? Unknown cosmic ray influences on climate? Something like that?

    Or are you more the sky-fairy type?

  184. Timothy Chase:

    MikeN wrote in 177

    It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact, and the CO2 time lag challenges this fact, and in response you write that the model establishes the time lag is irrelevant. Hence my saying that you are doing exactly what you criticize, clinging to your theory. Mr Colose’s response is much better than what you have on your site.

    Why reinvent the wheel? Here is my response when someone raised the issue on 1 Apr 2009…

    Temperature and Carbon Dioxide: Lead vs. Lag
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=661#comment-117255

    It includes photographic evidence — or at least a link to it.

  185. walter crain:

    gavin,
    john p (151) has nailed it: rhetoric vs science – that’s perfect.

    john p,
    (151) YES! i am asking scientists to engage in rhetoric. i can’t believe i’m actually advocating rhetoric, but i guess i am. you don’t understand because you see beauty in pv=nrt and a fibonacci sequence, but your neighbor, postman etc…doesn’t. they are moved by rhetoric. i despise singer, michaels and lindzen for what they’ve done, but i admire what they’ve done with so little – imagine how convincing they could be if they had truth on their side, if they didn’t have to navigate the minefield of evidence. usually, among my friends i’m the technical, scientific, rational one – counted on to explain tides, solstices and dew points – but here i’m ignorant. it is because i respect science and scientists so much that when i read that something like 40% think scientists are wrong about global warming (same for evolution, but that’s another topic, sort of), it makes me sick. (then there’s the issue of people who don’t even think there IS a consensus…who need a list to be convinced…)

    i’ll give you an example of what moves people. when discussing global warming with a “skeptic”, i can’t even mention al gore. i love gore, i voted for him, i think he’s been a noble “ex-politician” and a great “crusader” for global warming awareness, but invariably the conversation turns to his stupid giant house, and his enormous electric bills and how he’s only able to buy carbon credits or whatever because he’s rich and blah blah blah.

  186. John Mashey:

    re: #180 Chris

    But the fact that forest fires happen naturally *proves* the non-existence of arson. :-)

  187. Hank Roberts:

    Same cartoon as appears earlier in the thread. Toles does several ideas in draft; the link for those very sketchy cartoons is always to the one he didn’t use on that particular day, if anyone’s wondering.

    Back to focus on the topic for a moment, I was wondering why Lindzen didn’t seem to have replied to Wong et al. And this is, well, what can you say — Google Scholar sure has a lot of links going to junkscience. It gives me the Willies sometimes. Have a look at this (it’s the ‘cited by’ link for that paper).

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=50&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&safe=off&cites=4304859234566405344

  188. Joe Hunkins:

    The answer is that Lindzen is making a point where Chris is an advocate. The reason is that Chris is *responding* to Lindzens opinion trying (unsuccessfully) to discredit that view using a dubious analysis. How can so many here be blind to that obvious situation?

    [Response: Absolutely false. What is Chris advocating for? The keeping up with the scientific literature, perhaps. The better use of footnotes, maybe. Did he claim that the data validated his pet theory? no. He just (successfully) made the point that the use of these figures by Lindzen was misleading, and that the data didn't support what was being claimed. For people like you to assume that corrections to scientific mistakes automatically imply the same level of advocacy as people deliberately making such mistakes is simply wrong. But quite revealing. - gavin]

  189. cogito:

    chris colose: “The fact is that CO2 is rising today … and CO2 causes temperature rise by inhibiting radiation loss to space. The converse does not need to be true or false for this to make sense.”
    So by your logic whenever CO2 rises, temperature must follow. I’m not aware that this has consistently happend in the the paleontologic history of earth.

    [Response: (in the absence of other changes). - This is a caveat that should be read into every statement of science. - gavin]

  190. Barton Paul Levenson:

    wmanny writes:

    “And in this case Gore is far closer to the truth than Dyson.”

    Indeed that may prove to be the case. But let’s be clear here: if you put those two men in a room and query them about the specifics of how climate works, who do you think will know more?

    Al Gore, hands down. wmanny, Al Gore was one of Roger Revelle’s students in the ’60s. Do you know who Revelle was? Do you know what he did?

  191. Joe:

    #160 john
    “If on the other hand your point is that humans tend not to be concerned until they see the results of their actions, then that is somewhat understandable, but it is still not accepting responsibility. Said another way, it’s simply irresponsible.”

    No way. It is irresponsible to act hastily and regret later. One should be convinced before acting.

    [Response: Actually, no. There is an extensive literature on the issue of how uncertainty enters into climate change risk assessment, and the conclusion is unambiguous--you hedge against the probability of the extreme high cost scenarios that lie in the tails of the risk probability distribution. See 4th paragraph of this piece I recently wrote for PNAS, and more importantly, cited refs 4-7 by Yohe, Nordhaus, Schlesinger, Keller, Oppenheimer, and other experts who have actually looked at the associated cost/benefit problem rigorously and come to the opposite conclusion of the one you state. -mike]

    gavin: gulf of finland

  192. Barton Paul Levenson:

    MikeN,

    Temperature leads CO2 in a natural deglaciation because the solubility of CO2 in seawater decreases with temperature and CO2 bubbles out of the ocean. That is NOT what is happening now. We know the new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels because of its radioisotope signature.

    CO2 from the biosphere (e.g. the ocean) would have a normal complement of carbon-14. CO2 from fossil fuels doesn’t, because 14C has a half-life of about 5500 years and fossil fuels are around 300 million years old. There are also clues from the ratio of 13C to 12C.

    Put more CO2 in the air and, all else being equal, the temperature of the ground must rise. In the case of the ice ages, the Milankovic cycles are not enough, in and of themselves, to cause the observed temperature changes. You need the greenhouse gases as a feedback.

  193. Mark:

    ““I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.”

    The absence of explanation does not constitute 100% certainty, virtual or otherwise.”

    cf: The sun will rise tomorrow morning in the East.

    Is that virtually 100% certain or if not, to what number of decimal places should I put the 9′s to?

  194. Mark:

    “It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact”

    Uh, if I have a model of simple harmonic motion, it assumes that gravity pulls things down.

    How is this invalidating the computer model? Does not gravity pull things down?

    If I write

    F=ma

    Is that not ASSUMING the fact that force increases with either increasing mass or increasing acceleration?

    Your use of “assumes the fact” is couched like it is making the fact up. It isn’t. Observations have shown that CO2 causes warming by retarding the egress of IR photons that carry energy away from a moderately hot body. The models are built to compute the effect of that fact. The model DOES NOT just make that fact up, else we already have tachyonic computing and fourth-dimensional self aware computers: they would have had to go back to the 1860′s and change the past before computers existed and make Arrhenius see falsely that CO2 causes warming.

    Are you assuming that?

    Or is it that the models take the facts of physics and model what the RESULT of the known fact that CO2 absorbs IR photons preferentially is?

  195. Mark:

    “For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth.”

    There are ZERO CO2 molecules per square meter on either earth OR mars.

    Try “cubic meters” and you’ll see a figure.

    And if you know this, please show how you worked it out.

  196. Mark:

    “How about a more realistic scenario 2 where we phase out all fossil fuels over the next 30 years – are we not going to have to adapt to the increased temps?”

    Yes.

    However, the effect of these changes will be less than if we didn’t stop CO2 production in 30 years.

    Arable land will reduce, but not as significantly as if we didn’t stop. Oxfordshire, UK was under water when last we had no ice caps, so if we can stop before that occurs, the middle english industrial base will not have to be moved.

  197. Deech56:

    Speaking of sea ice, here is a recent abstract from GRL.

  198. wmanny:

    171. “The paleo-record confirms that we understand the basic workings of climate change much more than it contradicts it.”

    Do you mean to say that the paleo confirms the theory to some [larger] degree, but that it contradicts it as well, only not as much? Perhaps a clarification is in order. Either that or an admission that we really don’t know too much about this lag yet?

  199. alexandriu doru:

    why Lindzen does not construct his own climate model?
    It will be so easy if he will find a sensitivity like 0.5 K/doubling CO2!

  200. Jim Eager:

    Re Mike Strong @176: “there are all those pictures of submarines coming through the ice near the Arctic north pole in the 1930s”

    What pictures would these be?

    Captcha’s call this morning: to politics

    [Response: 1958 was the first crossing of the North Pole - the surfacing photos come from the following decades (see here for instance).- gavin]

  201. Jim Eager:

    Exactly my point, Gavin.
    I was trying to determine if Mike’s “1930s” was a simple typo or if he actually meant to type “1930s.”

  202. Hank Roberts:

    Mike Strong, people have been asking you where you get your information.
    Where did you see the pictures that you believe showed submarines coming through the ice? What makes you think that was ice in the Arctic, or near the North Pole?

    Maybe if you tell us your sources, we can look at them ourselves, read them ourselves, and help you interpret them.

    This is why researchers cite their sources — so others can see them.

    Seriously — it would help. It appears you’ve been misled.
    If so wee can help you find good info.
    If you’re making this up, it’s time to quit til next April 1st.

    Possibly you got two digits transposed; did you mean 1903?
    Submarine, check. Ice, check. Location, fail.

  203. Timothy Chase:

    Alan Millar wrote in 174:

    I suspect you may have some difficulty in answering that question. I would! Yet the Martian climate system should be much easier to predict, (no tectonics, hardly any water vapour ((the real greenhouse gas)) etc) than the Earths system.

    It is just an indication how far away we are from having a robust planetary climate science predictive model.

    Jim Hansen and Gavin Schmidt both belong to NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. What do you suppose the Goddard Institute of Space Studies was modeling prior to turning their attention to the Earth’s climate system?

    Hint:

    Do a search for the terms “Venus” and “Mars” in Ray Pierrehumbert’s Textbook, available at:

    Climate Book
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

  204. wmanny:

    John, I can’t talk you out of it, I guess, but a dispassionate reading of:

    “I’m ‘virtually’ certain this global warming event is 100% human caused.”

    in conjunction with:

    “It does not appear that there are any major problems with the models.”

    should raise an eyebrow a centimeter or so. -Walter

  205. walter crain:

    barton, other,
    re(192): what do you know about when the next milankovic-predicted glaciation is (was) “expected”? i’m sure this is contentious, but do scientists think that it will be “strong enough” to “cancel out” or prevent the next glaciation?

  206. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    He must be talking about this early arctic sub voyage :

    http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/exhibits/nautilus/

  207. Timothy Chase:

    For Alan Millar
    “Addendum” to my most recent post

    This is something which may also be of interest.

    Class 14 – Earth, Venus, Mars – 4
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/CLASS14/14EVM-5.html

    The text was Goody & Walker’s 1972 book Planetary Atmospheres. This has been scanned in and turned into .pdf files for each chapter as well as high resolution versions of the figures. Distributing these without permission of the publisher violates copyright. The figures are in the GoodyWalker folder in the appropriate chapter folder – they are .gif files. Below are links to the .pdf files.

    Planetary Atmospheres ASTR3720
    Spring 2005 Fran Bagenal
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/index.html

    Furthermore, parts per volume, Mars appears to have roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as the Earth. Yes, 95% of the Martian Atmosphere is carbon dioxide, but it has only 1/100 the atmosphere of the earth. So in terms of carbon dioxide, it’s atmosphere is beginning to look rather Earth-like. And interestingly enough, doubling the amount of carbon dioxide would raise the temperature by 1-2 °C. (It depends upon the time of year and day, I presume). This is comparable to Earth’s (1.1-1.2 °C) prior to water vapor feedback, feedback from the cryosphere, clouds and so forth.

    You see, the main greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere is water vapor, but water vapor doesn’t stay in the atmosphere very long prior to falling out as rain or other precipitation. Roughly two weeks.

    But carbon dioxide tends to stay in the atmosphere much longer, decades for half of a pulse, a couple of centuries for the next 25%, if I remember correctly, but the last 25% takes much longer. Geological processes of transforming it back into minerals take a while, and until then CO2 levels will remain elevated in other pools, namely the biosphere, atmosphere, soil and ocean.

    And what about Venus?

    95% of its atmosphere is also carbon dioxide, but the atmospheric pressure is roughly 100 times that of the Earth. Given the sulfuric acid in its cloud tops, the albedo is 0.98, meaning that it reflects nearly all of the sunlight it receives. Therefore, given its position relative to the sun, the temperature should average -43 °C without the greenhouse effect. The actual surface temperature is closer to 470 °C, nearly hot enough to melt lead.

    Please see:
    Class 14 – Earth, Venus, Mars – 4
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/CLASS14/14EVM-5.html

  208. MikeN:

    Chris, you talked about realclimate’s various posts, and how CO2 time lag has been responded to. How is someone on this site supposed to know this? My example came directly from the sidebar on RC, and I pointed out how that uses the same type of argument as in the original post, namely

    The advocate will pick up any piece of apparently useful data and without doing any analysis, decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

    I think this is a reasonable conclusion based on what is on the RC page. The update does not add very much, and there is nothing like your response there.

    [Response: You confuse explanation of a very basic principle (and correction of an oft-cited mistake) with advocacy. Possibly that can't be helped, but think of it as the difference between somebody assuring you that 1+1=2 when you've been told 1+1=3. - gavin]

  209. Timothy Chase:

    Hank ->

  210. walter crain:

    oops, i meant to say,
    barton, others,
    re(192): what do you know about when the next milankovic-predicted glaciation is (was) “expected”? i’m sure this is contentious, but do scientists think that the forcings will be “strong enough” to “cancel out” global warming? has global warming cancelled the next glaciation?

  211. Barton Paul Levenson:

    For anyone who’s interested, I have put up the third, and hopefully final, version of my planetary temperature page. This is a tutorial about a quick-and-dirty way to estimate the temperature of a planet. To go there, take out the hyphen and paste this into your browser:

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/NewPlanetTemps.html

  212. stroller:

    http://portaldata.colgate.edu/imagegallerywww/3503/ImageGallery/LindzenLectureBeyondModels.pdf

    P.33

    “Recently, Wong et al (Wong, Wielicki et al, 2006, Reexamination of the
    Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using
    Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data, J. Clim., 19,
    4028-4040) have reassessed their data to reduce the magnitude of the
    anomaly, but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative
    feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments. For
    example, a more recent examination of the same datasets explicitly
    confirms the iris relations at least for intraseasonal time scales (Spencer,
    R.W., W.D. Braswell, J.R. Christy and J. Hnilo, 2007, Cloud and radiation
    budget changes associated with the tropical intraseasonal oscillations,
    Geophys. Res. Ltrs.)”

  213. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #185 walter crain

    I understand what you are saying. But rhetoric is a two way street and many rely on the ‘insincere or grandiloquent language’ part of the definition, mixed with the ‘the art of speaking or writing effectively’, so rhetoric, without context, can muddle as much as substantiate reason.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhetoric

    1: the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a: the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b: the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
    2 a: skill in the effective use of speech b: a type or mode of language or speech ; also : insincere or grandiloquent language
    3: verbal communication : discourse

    I’m for ‘scientifically sound rhetoric’ :) def. 1a/b and 2a but not b (second part) while 3 is ambiguous in this context. I’ve heard you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time, therefore I assume that eventually substance of science will win and I certainly propone ‘scientifically sound rhetoric’ as an offense, as well as a defense against silliness.

  214. MarkB:

    Off-topic…but I thought the following Revkin piece is quite good. It covers a recent study on short-term variability and references an RC post from last year.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/cool-spells-in-a-warming-world/

  215. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #193 Mark

    I admit that I was not as succinct as I could have been in that sentence, and actually thought someone might nit-pick on that minor point without assuming relevant context. So here is the sentence rewritten:

    “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming, especially when on e considers the accumulated knowledge and understanding of adding GHG’s to the climate of earth through industrial processes, and the relevant scientific understanding thereof derived.”

    I apologize for not assuming that you are unaware of the relevant context.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virtually

    1 : almost entirely : nearly
    2 : for all practical purposes

    I remain, “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.” Be aware:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/what-we-dont-know
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/what-we-know

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/books
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/links

    I’m not concerned with the number of places for the 9′s. I am virtually certain the sun will rise tomorrow. If you wanted to get technical, you could calculate the expected lifetime of the sun based on its size and fuel and then put in the 9′s, but in the context of our lifetime and whether the sun will rise tomorrow, how is that relevant? Answer: not very, or statistically insignificant. Unless your time scale is billions of years? What is your context?

    In other words your supposition seems both obtuse and irrelevant in the context of human caused global warming. btw, unless you are at risk of being stalked or fired for your opinions, be brave, please post with your last name. I understand some people have valid reasons not to post their names, do you?

  216. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #204 walter crain

    I think it is expected to begin in around 15-20k yrs. That from conversations I recall, don’t know if anyone is writing about it?

  217. wmanny:

    John, Mark’s having a go at me, not you. -Walter

  218. David B. Benson:

    walter crain (208) — The globe is experiencing a long interglacial somewhat similar to the other long interglacial, during MIS 11. The next chance of a stade (massive ice sheets) is not for another 20,000 years. The forcing is weak and is it conceiveable that enough excess CO2 will nullify this attempt, even if non-anthropogenic forcings do not. The next chance, a strong one, is not until 50,000 years from now. By the way, I encourage the reading of David Archer’s “The Long Thaw”.

    Humans have been modifying the climate for a long time. From W.F. Ruddiman’s “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” (also recommended reading) we see that it would be quite a bit cooler without the trace global warming (so-called greenhouse) gases which humans have introduced into the atmosphere. However, not enough for a stade.

  219. Jim Eager:

    Re when the next milankovic-predicted glaciation is expected, see Berger & Loutre (2002) Climate: An exceptionally long interglacial ahead?”. Science 297 (5585): 1287-1288 :
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/297/5585/1287

    Capthca is getting downright scary: the climate

  220. Barton Paul Levenson:

    walter,

    There are climate “stades” at 20,000 and 50,000 years ago, the second somewhat stronger than the first, and absent AGW, either might involve an ice age and the second definitely would. But AGW has certainly eliminated the possibility of an ice age 20,000 years from now (barring something we can’t foresee). That “long tail” of the CO2 pulse lasts about 100,000 years.

  221. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #214 wmanny

    Mark,

    My apologies for my confusion.

    Walter, thank you for the clarification. Maybe I do not understand the context?

    This is a problem but I’m always open to clarifications.

    John

  222. Barton Paul Levenson:

    tim, your summary of the planets was very good. The only mistake I can see is the 0.98 albedo of Venus–not sure where that came from, but the bolometric Bond albedo of Venus is 0.750 according to NASA and the geometric albedo is probably close to that (you want the Bond albedo for climate work).

  223. wmanny:

    218. John, sorry but I was blocked from responding to you, probably for being too dull or repetitive. -Walter

  224. Ray Ladbury:

    Joeduck says: “The answer is that Lindzen is making a point where Chris is an advocate. The reason is that Chris is *responding* to Lindzens opinion trying (unsuccessfully) to discredit that view using a dubious analysis.”

    Only in your Orwellian double-speak world. Let me get your position straight: Scientist A who uses an uncorrected dataset because it best supports his preconceived notion that feedback OUGHT TO BE NEGATIVE, and offers no support for this choice beyond a tepid “…and there is reason to question the new adjustments…” is doing science. Furthermore, said scientist A makes his presentation to an unsophisticated lay audience without peer review. Meanwhile, scientist B shows that if one takes into account a known, important effect and uses the data corrected for said said effect, the effect goes away. It is your contention that it is scientist B who is the advocate?!???

    Wow, Joe! Just Wow! What color is the sky on your planet?

  225. Alan Millar:

    Timothy -206

    “Furthermore, parts per volume, Mars appears to have roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as the Earth. Yes, 95% of the Martian Atmosphere is carbon dioxide, but it has only 1/100 the atmosphere of the earth. So in terms of carbon dioxide, it’s atmosphere is beginning to look rather Earth-like.”

    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Mars/atmosphere.html

    These figures indicate that Mars has many times more CO2 molecules per square metre as compared to the Earth.

    Anyway, I was not making any particular point about Mars I was just indicating that whilst the statement ‘CO2 is a greenhouse gas and therefore more CO2 in the atmosphere will definately lead to more warming’ is only definately true in a static non dynamic system.

    In a dynamic system you have to have a very clear understanding of all possible significant climatic factors and processes and how they relate to each other and in combination and how they drive further changes and we just don’t at this point.

    Alan

  226. Ray Ladbury:

    Alan Millar, Actually, given Mars feeble atmospheric density, CO2 number densities are roughly an order of magnitude over those on Earth. So, CO2 forcing on Mars would be even less than on Earth, given the prevailing weaker sunlight, cooler temperatures. That’s only a back of the envelope estimate, but I doubt it’s too far wrong. Gee, you must not have had an envelope handy, huh?

  227. walter crain:

    thanks john, david, jim and barton for the glacier info. i had the apparently false notion that we were “due” in 5 or so thousand years.

    john,
    your definition (210) of “sound rhetoric” (not to be confused with “sound science”) is what i had in mind. there’s got to be a scientist, or hopefully many, in the mold of carl sagan – who i thought was a great communicator – who can help people “get it.” even sagan may have been too “nerdy” for what i have in mind. he appealed to me, but maybe i’m “pro-science” anyway… my climate messiahs have got to be more charismatic than gore, god love him.

  228. Timothy Chase:

    Barton Paul Levenson wrote in 219:

    tim, your summary of the planets was very good. The only mistake I can see is the 0.98 albedo of Venus–not sure where that came from, but the bolometric Bond albedo of Venus is 0.750 according to NASA and the geometric albedo is probably close to that (you want the Bond albedo for climate work).

    Thank you for the correction.

    Yes, I had misremembered this section as referring to albedo and thus as demonstrating the strength of the greenhouse effect when in actuality the section was referring to energy absorption from the surface to space by the atmosphere:

    So…40% of the energy is absorbed on its way from the ground out to space on Earth – at Venus this is 98%! but only 17% at Mars – seems a little but still half of the percentage of Earth even though Mars’ atmospheric pressure is only 0.6% of a bar – shows how CO2 is an effective absorber.

    http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/CLASS14/14EVM-5.html

    … which is in fact much closer to the greenhouse effect itself. Should have gone back and checked rather than relying upon memory.

    Oh, and thank you for the web page:

    How to Estimate Planetary Temperatures
    Barton Paul Levenson
    Part I–Fluxes and Temperatures
    http://www.geo cities.com/bpl1960/NewPlanetTemps.html

    Do wish that the spamcatcher didn’t have quite so many false positives (e.g., “geo cities” – minus the space), though. Sometimes I have struggled with it for at least an hour before figuring out what it doesn’t like. But fortunately that is rare.

  229. Cary:

    Gavin, what do you think about the negative PDO? How are you going to maintain public support (which has already been diminishing) if global warming is masked or cooled by natural variation over the span of many years?

  230. David B. Benson:

    Ray Ladbury (221) — Green. “Under a Green Sky” by Peter D. Ward.

    Cary (226) — Last year, 2008 CE, was tenth warmest on record (out of 159) despite a weak to moderate La Nina and a prolonged solar minimum, longest since 1913 CE. What does that suggest to you?

  231. Ray Ladbury:

    Uh, Alan, maybe the fact that your reference is suggesting that Mars has 90x the total number of molecules per cubic meter of Earth ought to tip you off that maybe they don’t quite know what they’re talking about. The USS Alan Millar’s credibility has just taken 3 torpedoes midship.

  232. David B. Benson:

    Say goodby to Wilkins Ice Shelf:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403080827.htm

  233. Glenn Morton:

    I think the people not paying attention to reality are the Holocene deniers on this board. At my blog http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    I document that between 8000 and 5000 years ago, everything you fear, rising seas, 3 degree higher temperatures, less permafrost, deglaciation, all happened. The result? Nothing. Nothing bad happened to the world at all. http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    [Response: Where is the evidence fo 3 deg C global mean temperature changes? N.H. summers were clearly warmer because of the orbital confguration, but other temperature changes are difficult to discern. But who is denying ealy holocene climate change? A number of us have even written papers about it. I would add that the big difference is that there are 6 billion people around now who aren't mostly nomadic hunter-gatherers.... - gavin]

  234. Jim Eager:

    Reuters is reporting that the ice bridge anchoring the Wilkens Ice Shelf has finally severed at its narrowest point (500m wide):

    http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE5326HO20090404

  235. Hank Roberts:

    > How are you going to maintain public support …
    That’s the Fermi Paradox, local version.
    _________________________________
    “evidence Nixon’s” says ReCaptcha

    Well, yes, maybe strong AI will help fill in the gaps.

  236. Ray Ladbury:

    Oops, the columns came up wierd on my machine and it looked like Venus’s numbers were under Mars. However, a factor of 30 still ain’t gonna cut it gonna cut it, given the lower OLR flux from the Martian surface. Alan only takes 2 torpedoes.

  237. Timothy Chase:

    Re: Alan Millar 222

    Barton Paul Levenson is much more of an expert in this area than I am, so I would recommend checking out his web page:

    How to Estimate Planetary Temperatures
    Barton Paul Levenson
    http://www.geo cities.com/bpl1960/NewPlanetTemps.html

    You are right about the molecules per square meter of atmospheric column. However, I am familiar with the fact that the greenhouse effect is a function of optical thickness rather than molecules per square meter, and Barton Paul Levenson gives the following equation for optical thickness due to the partial pressure of CO2
    τCO2=kCO2PCO20.5

    He also gives:
    kCO2 = 0.029 and kH2O = 0.087 where these are physical constants. And he likewise tells us that total optical thickness is simply the sum of the partial optical thicknesses due to each greenhouse gas.

    At this point I would like to fill in a few blanks and provide a few additional references…

    Now whre is the 0.5 coming from? Something called “the square-root law of absorption.”

    The square-root law of absorption which gets mentioned here:

    Thome et al.[1992] summarize early work starting from 1912 relating transmission in water absorption bands to water column abundance. The relationship was seen to approximate a square root dependence in the strong bands [Goody, 1964] although significant departures were observed [Pitts et al., 1977].

    Halthore, Rangasayi N., Sun photometric measurements of atmospheric water vapor column abundance in the 940-nm band, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 102, No. D4, Pp. 3434-4352, February 27, 1997

    However, it is worthwhile to note that the equation will have limited applicability:

    Eq. (la) approximates to the square root law of absorption applicable when centres of individual lines are fully absorbed, but before they start overlapping…

    Roach, WT, The absorption of solar radiation by water vapour and carbon dioxide in a cloudless atmosphere, The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
    Volume 87 Issue 373, Pages 364 – 373, 14 Dec 2006

    Quick aside: this would appear to be closely related to a phenomena known as pressure broadening. You can learn a little more about that here:

    THURSDAY, JULY 05, 2007
    Pressure broadening
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2007/07/pressure-broadening-eli-has-been-happy.html

    … and the effects of temperature on spectra here:

    WEDNESDAY, JULY 04, 2007
    Temperature
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2007/07/temperature-anonymice-gave-eli-new.html

    Now for Volume Ratios and Surface Pressures I was able to find another web page from the same college course as I referred us to previously — and this is some of what it gave:

    Volume Ratio CO2
    Venus CO2 0.965
    Earth CO2 3.4×10-4
    Mars CO2 0.953

    Volume Ratio H2O
    Venus 1×10-4
    Earth < 0.04
    Mars 3×10-4

    Surface Pressure
    Venus 90 bars
    Earth 1 bar
    Mars 0.007 bar

    The volume ratio is the fraction by number of atoms or molecules present. Chemists often refer to this as the mole fraction. It is also called the volume mixing ratio by some atmospheric scientists. When multiplied by the atmospheric pressure, it gives a quantity called the partial pressure, when may be envisaged as the contribution of a component ot [sic.] the total pressure.

    Planetary Atmospheres ASTR3720
    Spring 2005 Fran Bagenal
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/CLASS10/10EVM-1.html

    These figures are roughly the same as what Barton Paul Levenson gives once one converts bars to Pa using a conversion factor of 1.01295×105, and the text validates the calculation of partial pressure from volume ratio and atmospheric pressure.

    I also verified the fact that optical thicknesses are additive:

    Because of the incoherence of scattering by atmospheric molecules and particles, scattering coefficients are additive, and hence so are optical thicknesses. (pg. 409)

    Fundamentals of atmospheric radiation: an introduction with 400 problems
    By Craig F. Bohren, Eugene Edmund Clothiaux
    Edition: illustrated
    Published by Wiley-VCH, 2006

    Now part of what Barton Paul Levenson takes into account with the Earth are sensible heat and latent heat. Latent heat (due to evaporation) isn’t an issue with either Venus or Mars, so I won’t analyze those. Then there is the question of solar flux and albedo, both which differ from planet to planet but where solar flux would fall out principally from the planetary distance from the sun.

    Then there is the application of Beer’s Law which calculates the drop-off of the intensity of light as an exponential function of optical thickness. That is easy enough to look up. However, in reality Beer’s Law is best not applied to an atmospheric column as densities vary with altitude, and instead one should perform atmospheric layer calculations as is done in climate models, typically with about forty layers nowadays.

    You can find out more about Beer’s Law here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer-Lambert_law

    … and also an integral type generalization which may be applied to atmospheres.

    At this point I will leave it to the reader to look at BPL’s page for themselves.
    *
    Alan Millar wrote in 222:

    Anyway, I was not making any particular point about Mars I was just indicating that whilst the statement ‘CO2 is a greenhouse gas and therefore more CO2 in the atmosphere will definately lead to more warming’ is only definately true in a static non dynamic system.

    True — if the solar irradiance dropping like a rock, then the planet may very well get cooler while CO2 is rising.

    But this is also fairly irrelevant as solar irradiance is roughly constant. Generally speaking, raising the amount of CO2 that is in the atmosphere increases the opacity of the atmosphere to longwave radiation, and that means the planet is going to warm. It also means raising the absolute humidity — where there is ocean — with roughly a doubling of absolute humidity for every 10 °C rise in temperature.

    Alan Millar wrote in 222:

    In a dynamic system you have to have a very clear understanding of all possible significant climatic factors and processes and how they relate to each other and in combination and how they drive further changes and we just don’t at this point.

    Actually we do, more or less. They are called climate models — and they take into account ocean circulation and atmospheric circulation according to fluid dynamics, gravitation, radiation transfer theory (including non-Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium conditions), soil types, plant species, you name it all within a 1.25 ° by 1.25 ° grid with forty levels of atmosphere and forty levels of ocean and time increments of fifteen minutes. Or there-abouts. No, they don’t take into account every possible detail but they don’t need to in order to be a good approximation — a far better one that Barton Paul Levenson’s quite useful approach.

    Moreover, uncertainty is not your friend. The likelihood of climate sensitivity being considerably greater than the 3 °C per doubling of CO2 is greater than that of it being considerably smaller — with the currently accepted range of 2-4.5 °C.

  238. bi -- IJI:

    Cary throws out a bunch of inactivist talking points: negative PDO, public support diminishing, globe is cooling for ‘many’ years.

    There’s no need to “maintain support” for a bunch of inactivist talking points.

    bi

  239. Hank Roberts:

    New Tom Toles sketch is up, relevant

  240. Joe:

    [Response: Actually, no. There is an extensive literature on the issue of how uncertainty enters into climate change risk assessment, and the conclusion is unambiguous–you hedge against the probability of the extreme high cost scenarios that lie in the tails of the risk probability distribution. See 4th paragraph of this piece I recently wrote for PNAS, and more importantly, cited refs 4-7 by Yohe, Nordhaus, Schlesinger, Keller, Oppenheimer, and other experts who have actually looked at the associated cost/benefit problem rigorously and come to the opposite conclusion of the one you state. -mike]

    I see. I’ve obviously not read any of their stuff. I wonder what hedging means in practice here. INsurance? So we start with payments now and when the shanghai, calcutta and amsterdam areas are a meter under the sea, we then pay for their relocation.

    Sounds like a plan huh? It can be pretty expensive. 5% of GNP per country for the next 100 yrs?

  241. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Sorry, that should have read “20,000 and 50,000 years from now,” not “years ago.”

  242. Barton Paul Levenson:

    On Mars — the inactivists are right that the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect should be stronger on Mars — and it is — and yet Mars only has a few degrees of greenhouse effect. That’s because the greater greenhouse effect on Earth is primarily due to water vapor. Mars is just where it should be given its thin, 95% CO2, almost bone-dry atmosphere.

  243. Mark:

    ““I’m ‘virtually’ certain this global warming event is 100% human caused.”

    in conjunction with:

    “It does not appear that there are any major problems with the models.”

    should raise an eyebrow a centimeter or so. -Walter”

    Why?

    A model based on newtonian gravity ha sent spaceships accurately to other planets.

    Even though newtonian gravity IS wrong, it’s for those purposes virtually 100% correct and there’s no problem with the NASA probe models that use it.

    The proof of that is the track of the pioneer craft and voyagers.

  244. Ike Solem:

    Interesting news today – Obama says the U.S. is “ready to lead” on climate change – I thought we already were the world leaders when it came to forcing the climate? We still are in terms of the aggregate forcing of the past century, but China is now ahead in terms of current forcing, I believe.

    He couldn’t possibly be talking about leading in the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a renewable energy-based economy, because he is refusing to discuss the International Renewable Energy Agency – an international body set up along the lines of other agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the International Panel on Climate Change.

    Nor has the DOE budget been changed much, especially when it comes to sponsoring renewable energy research – although there was a recent pledge of $1.2 billion – but that is very vague and general and includes “clean coal technology”. There are no $1 billion programs dedicated to solar research – and the DOE still promotes cadmium as a material for solar cells, a terrible idea. The fact of the matter is that technologically, we are already behind the curve – why do research into 12% efficient cadmium solar cells when standard non-toxic long-lived multicrystalline PV cells are around 18% efficient?

    In fact, the same government contractor that owns the appartently top-secret FutureGen technology (Battelle Memorial Institute, out of Colombus Ohio) and has been one of the biggest promoters of expanding coal use also has the contract to manage the National Renewable Energy Lab – a giant farce if there ever was one.

    “International Renewable Energy Agency” – look it up. The UAE has decided to host it, India has now joined up, but not a single U.S. newspaper has bothered to mention it. What it would do is provide a global basis for cooperation on the rapid expansion of renewable energy technology. It would assist with everything from sharing and licensing technology to creating reliable standards for the technology – but the major coal- and dirty oil-producing nations are refusing to get involved or even discuss it (the U.S., Britain, Australia, China) – and why?

    Instead, we have a situation in the U.S. in which news coverage of renewable energy initiatives is simply nonexistant, in contrast to the typically fossil fuel-biased and scientifically inaccurate coverage of climate science by the major media outlets. One topic is ignored, and the other is distorted, and yet science journalists can’t figure out why they’ve become objects of ridicule – “we’re just doing what the editor told us to do.” The editor does what the corporate board tells him to do, and the shareholders tell the board what to do – leading one to the conclusion that when it comes to renewable energy in the U.S., there’s no such thing as academic OR journalistic freedom.

    Someone tell me how FutureGen works, again? Come on, wise academics, spell it out for us – or just admit the truth, it’s a con game backed by some of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals and universities, from Nature to Stanford – we’ve seen a similar scale of fraud involved in pharmaceutical marketing claims on various dangerous drugs, haven’t we? There’s no carbon burial and sequestration for coal, nor is it possible, nor will it ever happen – it’s just a blatant lie.

    Unless of course, someone wants to tell me how FutureGen works, with the aid of a small functional prototype? While you’re at it, how about a car that captures its own CO2 emissions as it drives down the road?

  245. Garry S-J:

    David B. Benson #232 and Jim Eager #234:

    ESA web-cam of ice bridge break-up is at:

    http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMWZS5DHNF_index_0.html

    Full size at http://webservices.esa.int/wilkinsarctic/wilkins.php?type=full

    The ice bridge had been developing visible cracks for a while but disintegrated on April 4.

    It’s quite spectacular, in a car crash kind of way.

    Captcha says “Ambassador severing”

  246. Jeffrey Davis:

    World population is almost 7 billion.

  247. walter crain:

    barton (241),
    based on other answeres i figured that’s what you meant, but thanks for clarifying.

  248. pete best:

    Re #244, Nothing to change then. Same old same old under Obama I suppose, still its a start and its needs to accelerate quickly. The USA has the energy sources necessary and just need to tap into them but it is a big leap and getting bigger the longer it is left before generating serious energy from them.

    The USA has vast wind corridors of energy as well as very good areas for CSP. If it is all left to economics and politics of lobbying and that then yes, it will be a problem until fossil fuels get too expensive.

  249. Jim Eager:

    Indeed it is, Gary (245). It wasn’t just that the narrow waist snapped, but rather that the entire southern portion of the bridge completely disintegrated. Simply awesome. Thanks for the link to the updated time lapse animation.

  250. Jim Eager:

    Glenn @233, you’ve come to the wrong place to assert that climate scientists are ignorant of the Holocene climate record.

    Now, where’s the popcorn?

  251. dhogaza:

    Nothing to change then. Same old same old under Obama I suppose

    Anything important still has to run through Congress. Thus, I imagine, the statement last week referring to doing what’s “politically possible”.

  252. truth:

    Gavin[ re 156]
    When you say that CO2 is increasing due to human activity, do you attribute it completely to the activity of burning of fossil fuels, or would you attribute some of it to the missing forests and peatlands etc , and if so, what proportion do you calculate to be due to the massive deforestation activities and destruction of the peatlands, that are still going on— and the huge increase in the built environment which displaced rural land?
    Do you agree with Drew Shindell, of Nasa Goddard Institute for Space, whose article published recently in Nature Geoscience , shows that ‘black carbon is responsible for 50% or almost 1degreeC increased Arctic warming from 1890 to 2007’, and that ‘the climate-warming effects of these short-lived pollutants have largely been ignored by scientists and regulators focusing on climate policy’ —-that ‘decreasing concentrations of sulfate aerosols and increasing concentrations of black carbon have substantially contributed to rapid Arctic warming during the past three decades?
    Hiram Levy of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said , ‘We found that these short-lived pollutants have a greater influence on the earth’s climate throughout the 21st century than people thought.’
    I have been smeared—- told I was stupid—- and accused of being in the employ of the fossil fuels industry—-every epithet some of your regulars could think of—–when I asked on repeated occasions why the AGW consensus believers were so hell-bent on taking the most drastic of measures—even to the extent of considering all sorts of weird geo-engineering schemes—and emissions trading schemes that would cause damage to already floundering economies, and losses in living standards——all focus on the CO2, but very little in comparison on the enormous depletion of the forest sinks—the deliberate burning of huge tracts of forests and the destruction of peatlands, that happened during the timeframe in question, and continue now.
    Politicians who wanted to do what this research now recommends, were pilloried and sneered at by environmentalists and AGW true believers, who wanted only to hear from those politicians who were cashing in on the sensationalist stories about CO2 and the killing of the planet.
    In Australia, a Prime Minister whose administration started a program called The Global Forest Initiative, seeded with $200million, intended to help countries like Indonesia , and others around the world, to move away from the burning and destruction of rainforests and peatlands—and who, at the same time, was funding every type of renewable technology, from solar, wind, wave etc to geothermal and CCS—- was subjected to the malign attentions of Al Gore, who came to Australia, not once, but twice during our election campaign , and directly told Australians that , if they wanted to ‘save the planet’, they needed to ditch the government and vote for Gore’s pal and preferred choice —and so enough of those susceptible to the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ juggernaut did just that.
    And re [134]:
    You’ve said in your blog on the ‘lag’, that the warming at the termination of an ice age in the past was initiated by some unknown cause that set in train the first 800 years of warming, that the resulting warming was the cause of the rise in CO2, and then from then on, the CO2 amplified the warming—– yet there’s no deliberation now about whether the initiating factor in this warming could be the same as then , and not CO2.
    Your response to the comment by Mike N is about the fact that the CO2 amplifies the warming , but why is there no discussion about the basic cause?

  253. Hank Roberts:

    I see a lot of references to Spencer like the one above
    stroller Says:
    4 April 2009 at 12:32 PM
    but no actual cite. I found a few blogs talking about some paper submitted to GRL, and a paper that will appear in Energy and Environment, and mentions without cite of a letter in Geophysical Research Letters. But Google Scholar isn’t finding a paper in a journal. Must be one here somewhere.

  254. Timothy Chase:

    Gary S-J wrote in 245:

    ESA web-cam of ice bridge break-up is at:

    http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMWZS5DHNF_index_0.html

    Full size at http://webservices.esa.int/wilkinsarctic/wilkins.php?type=full

    The ice bridge had been developing visible cracks for a while but disintegrated on April 4.

    Thank you for the update.

    Unlike earlier ice shelves, I understand that this one doesn’t have much in the way of glaciers bottled up behind it, so it shouldn’t have any appreciable impact upon sea level. However, that was 5° latitude south of Larsen B which collapsed in early 2002, and it is 5° latitude north of where the West Antarctic Peninsula ends and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet begins. And the base of WAIS is below sea level.

  255. Hank Roberts:

    Ne’min’, here it is:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2007GL029698
    “… During the composite oscillation’s rainy, tropospheric warming phase, the longwave flux anomalies unexpectedly transitioned from warming to cooling, behavior which was traced to a decrease in ice cloud coverage. This decrease in ice cloud coverage is nominally supportive of Lindzen’s “infrared iris” hypothesis. While the time scales addressed here are short and not necessarily indicative of climate time scales, … their behavior should be considered when testing the convective and cloud parameterizations in climate models that are used to predict global warming….”

    Even better, put Triana up and measure the damned thing.
    _______________
    “SIGMAS U.S.” says ReCaptcha

  256. Hank Roberts:

    PS, I tried to make this work but just managed to cause the link to be eaten, it’s gone from View Source, so here it is the old way:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinion/ssi/images/Toles/s_04052009_520.gif

    Krugman says maybe we need to invest in a new bubble to make the economy revive. Toles points out that we’re living in a bubble right now. Good place to invest for the future.

  257. SecularAnimist:

    Commenter “truth” — your repetitive false assertions that (1) measures to reduce CO2 emissions through a rapid transition from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy sources will cause economic devastation, and that (2) so-called “AGW consensus believers” are unaware of or ignore the problem of deforestation, have ceased to be annoying and have become merely boring.

  258. MikeN:

    #252 truth, i think the opinion is that forests don’t matter in the long run because those trees will eventually die and send carbon to the atmosphere. Is this right?

  259. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #252 truth

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/index.html
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/co2_human.html

    Black Carbon
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20050323/
    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2003/dec/HQ_03420_black_soot.html

    re drastic measures

    I don’t know anyone hell bent on drastic measures and what is a drastic measure when it is a reasonable response to a problem? Context and relevance are key.

    http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/pdf/US_ghg_final_report.pdf

    Who is suggesting weird geo-engineering schemes? And do you mean weird as in it won’t work or help, or weird in that you think its weird based on your apparently limited perspective, or both, based on the proposal in question?

    You seem to be wrapped up in the idea that this is all about religion and true believers but you don’t seem to understand the relevant contexts of the things you are talking about in relation to the things you apparently either don’t know or don’t understand. That may be why lots of folks have looked at your statements and concluded they are irrelevant or less relevant.

    Maybe you should start your own blog, this one does its best to discuss the science and you want to concentrate on the politics.

    As to your response to 134

    What do yo mean by basic cause? Do you mean the Milankovitch cycles? Pay attention, and do some studying if you wish to increase the relevance of your questions.

    BTW, if your so hung up on the truth, post your real name.

  260. Theo Hopkins:

    Commenter “truth” at #252.

    That you call yourself “Truth” makes me instantly not believe what you are saying. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

    (This comment by Theo H (aka “Uncertain”))

  261. Theo Hopkins:

    On public debate…

    Here in the UK, in the local and the national more mass-readership press there is a constant drizzle of letters that say:

    The BBC should first show “An Inconvenient Truth” and then the anti-warming “The Great Global Warming Swindle” documentary (See Real Climate archives for the Swindle film) and then vote by texting “yes” or “no” to a central number. This, the writers say, will settle the matter for good.

    I’m not joking, and the real problem is that those who write such letters appear to be reasonably literate and intelligent people.

  262. Theo Hopkins:

    Greenpeace are advocates, and with reference to the Wilkins Ice Shelf doing what it’s doing, this is one of their comments from their website today.

    “To put it in context, it’s probable that the current reduction in ice-shelves in the region has no precedent in the last 10,000 years, and it is certain that this minimum has not been reached at any time in the last millennium.”

    Are they bullshitting, over-egging the cake? “…no precedent in last 10,000 years…”. Can a RC-friendly glaciologist give me her/his take on this?

  263. Theo Hopkins:

    Greenpeace are advocates. This is part of their take on the Wilkins Ice Shelf from their website today.

    “To put it in context, it’s probable that the current reduction in ice-shelves in the region has no precedent in the last 10,000 years, and it is certain that this minimum has not been reached at any time in the last millennium.”

    As advocates, is Greenpeace over-egging the cake?

    [Response: No. That's about the size of it. - gavin]

  264. walter crain:

    john, hank, timothy, barton, gavin – all you real scientists out there:

    i still meet people who say, “how do we KNOW CO2 increases temperatures?”

    give me a one (or maybe two) sentence answer. i appreciate all your detailed complex well-linked multi-paragraph answers, but… what is a one or two sentence answer a layman rhetorician can give?

  265. Hank Roberts:

    MikeN’s wrong earlier: 3 April 2009 at 1:21 PM

    MikeN’s wrong again:
    5 April 2009 at 1:39 PM

    MikeN, the odd notion that forests don’t matter because the trees die can’t survive the slightest attempt at educating yourself. Why not try?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=50&q=biogeophysical+cycle+CO2+forests&as_ylo=2009

    The problem is rate of change. The only direct influence we have on the rate of change is the rate of burning fossil carbon.

    The fossil fuel burned so far is responsible for about 200 percent of the current warming. The biosphere has taken care of about half of that so far — by increasing the amount of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere. The biosphere can’t keep removing CO2 even half as fast as we’ve been adding it.

    No matter how many forests we lose to budworm, or grow on former tundra — and all that is being studied — it’s small compared to the total amount of CO2 from fossil fuel being burned.

    When your bathtub drain can’t keep up with the water pouring in, and the tub is starting to overflow, do you reach for the sponge?
    Not if you can reach the faucet, eh?

    Turn it down, then turn it off, then start mopping up the mess.

  266. entropy man:

    Imagine all you want, but there is no such thing as a frictionless machine, and never will be. Thus rendering perpetual motion impossible and the downgrade of all matter and energy in the universe irrevocable. And while the sun will continue to exist for billions of more years, the Earth’s crust is continually degrading and taking technological interventions into account will be completely depleted and exhausted well before that time. The technology itself is degrading as well of course, besides being made of increasingly unstable and inferior resources because of this depletion. Assembled in China.

  267. entropy man:

    Computers for example are very cheaply made, designed to be disassembled and reassembled continually. Any bronze-age typewriter is a more quality product then the latest computer.

  268. Leonard Ornstein:

    Gavin and most others:

    The title and content of this thread has demonstrated slopshod use of language, and little appreciation of what science ‘is’:

    To oversimplify. Science is composed of two activities; the building of ‘models’ of ‘reality’ (hypotheses, theories, ideas, etc.) by ‘theoreticians’ and the checking of how well the models fit ‘observation’ by ‘experimentalists’ (sometimes one and the same person).

    A theoretician looks at the ‘world’ and based on ‘regularities’ one thinks one perceives, he/she builds a model with words and/or symbols. The scientist must be an ADVOCATE for his model, otherwise why should anyone else bother to pay any attention to it.

    Experimentalists try to find observations that are pertinent to the model to see if the model can be supported or refuted. But they also would not pay any attention to it if they had not been persuaded by the theoretician’s ADVOCACY that the model was somehow worthy of attention (useful, or alternatively, somehow dangerous).

    So ADVOCACY is at the heart of science; it can’t be dispensed with. It plays a major role in scientific motivation.

    Gavin says: “It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming, it is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that cause warming. This has been measured in laboratories for over 140 years.”

    But all of established physics (science) concerns models which, from repeated observation, generate great confidence (but not absolute certainty) that they are ‘right’. So it’s models all the way down!

    Non-scientist advocates as well as scientists can misuse rhetoric to mislead their audience. And that’s what has to be guarded against – NOT ADVOCACY.

    Freeman Dyson, a great scientist, published an article in the journal, Energy, volume 2, in 1977, titled “CAN WE CONTROL THE CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOSPHERE?”

    So he’s been paying careful attention to the problem about as long as Jim Hansen.

    The estimates that business as usual will lead to from about 2ºC to 5.5ºC global increase in temperature by 2100 is predicted with about 95% confidence. That means that there’s about 2.5% chance that the warming will be less than 2ºC. That appears to be where Dyson is placing his bet. That doesn’t necessarily make him crazy – or even ill-informed, but merely quite probably wrong.

  269. walter crain:

    re #260
    maybe that’s unrealistic… how ’bout a 4 sentence (max) explanation of how we KNOW co2 increases temps?

  270. David B. Benson:

    walter crain (260) — “how do we KNOW CO2 increases temperatures?”

    John Tyndall measured it in his laboratory in 1859 CE. The experiment is sufficiently simple that you can replicate it at home. Tyndall’s work has been extended, repeatedly, over the last 150 years; we know.

    Will that do?

    [reCAPTHCA reminds us: "helping NATURE".]

  271. Timothy Chase:

    Walter Crain wrote in 260:

    john, hank, timothy, barton, gavin – all you real scientists out there:

    i still meet people who say, “how do we KNOW CO2 increases temperatures?”

    give me a one (or maybe two) sentence answer. i appreciate all your detailed complex well-linked multi-paragraph answers, but… what is a one or two sentence answer a layman rhetorician can give?

    Walter,

    I am not a scientist and I don’t pretend to be.

    However, for the past century and a half we have known that CO2 absorbs and radiates longwave thermal radiation. As such it reduces the rate at which thermal energy is able to leave the climate system, thermal energy keeps entering at the same rate. Conservation of energy says that the amount of thermal energy in the system has to climb, and it will keep climbing until the radiation emitted from the surface increases to the extent that the rate at which energy leaves the system is equal to the rate at which energy enters the system.

    Or to put it another way, its like a insulation for your house which reduces the rate at which heat can escape your house. With the furnace going at the same rate, the house will naturally become warmer until the rate at which heat leaves your house is equal to the rate at which heat enters it. And there are other analogies — Hank suggests one involving you bathtub. If you keep the faucet in the same position (which corresponds to keeping solar irradiance constant), but begin to cover the drain (which corresponds to putting more carbon dioxide in the air), the bath tub will begin to fill up as water (thermal energy) is entering at the same rate but escaping at a reduced rate. The more it fills up the more water pressure which will increase the rate at which water flows out (just as the total thermal radiation radiated by an object is roughly proportional to temperature to the forth power) until it is equal to the rate at which water enters the bathtub..

    However, a picture is worth a thousand words. But I will give you the long explanation first:

    There are infrared images of it doing exactly this over western and eastern seaboards of the US due to higher population density, traffic and carbon dioxide emissions. In fact you can see it in this image:

    Aqua/AIRS Global Carbon Dioxide
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003400/a003440/index.html

    The dark orange off the east and west coasts of the United States? That is carbon dioxide at 8 km altitude — infrared at 15 μm in wavelength has been absorbed and emitted at lower levels of the atmosphere, but this is where it gets emitted for the last time before escaping to space — and as such the brightness temperature at that wavelength reflects the cooler temperature at that altitude.

    Now for the short explanation…

    You see the light orange? — that’s where thermal radiation is getting out through a layer of carbon dioxide. You see the dark orange? — thats where thermal radiation is having difficulty getting through thicker carbon dioxide, and things have got to get warmer at the surface until like a burner turning red the same amount of radiation is getting out as was getting out before.

    Of course I am still cheating on your two sentence limit, but maybe I can at least get an “A” for effort.
    *
    Captcha fortune cookie: Gotham across
    (I’m fond of Batman so I couldn’t resist.)

  272. Rick Brown:

    RE: MikeN #528 5 avril 2009 at 1:39 PM (and the previous comment you refer to):

    The estimates that I’m aware of indicate that 40-45% the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1850 is due to deforestation, and deforestation, primarily in the tropics, currently accounts for 20-25% of human-caused CO2 emissions. As David Benson might point out, William Ruddiman would suggest that the contributions due to deforestation began well before 1850.

    Individual trees die and decay, but forests at the landscape scale are “permanent” carbon stores. These are vulnerable to direct deforestation by humans as well as declines resulting from climate change, expected to be mediated by insects, disease, drought and fire.

  273. Philip Machanick:

    Back to the original topic. At Chris’s site, see the comment by John Philip (April 2, 2009 @ 3:48 am) and follow-ups (to expand on #79 here). It seems Watts is much more inclined to block contrary comments than admitted here.

    Further, I find the logic at WUWT interesting. The criticism comes up that Lindzen has used outdated data. It later transpires that he has in fact referred to the more recent data elsewhere. This somehow makes it all right. To me this makes the charge of dishonesty more plausible. Who uses outdated data to make a point without at least explaining why they are not using the updated version? Certainly not someone making a purely scientific case.

  274. Glenn Morton:

    Response in message 233. You know, when a critic claims that a certain place is colder, the global warming advocates all cry that it is anecdotal. When you claim that the world is warming because of N. H. summers, isn’t that just as anecdotal?

    If, as you say, you have written papers on the Holocene climatic Optimum, then you are being disingenuous in claiming in any way that today’s weather is unusual or out of the ordinary. [edit]

    [Response: Oh please... Try reading them before getting on your rather illinformed high horse. -gavin]

  275. Glenn Morton:

    Jim Eager@250, The response written beneath my post in 233 basically says to me that they don’t have an issue with what I am saying, that the seas were higher and the world warmer, the permafrost more melted and the Siberian treeline further north than today. If that is so, what is the big deal about global warming? We have been there before and to act as if this current warming is something unsual or to be feared is just to act irrationally.

    Remember, Jim, that response said some of them had written articles about what I am pointing out, the Holocene Climate Optimum. Thus, they know all this and still love to tell a good scary story to those less knowledgeable. I am a geophysicist, that is why I know these things.

  276. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #260 walter crain

    I’m not a scientist either, but you certainly don’t need to be a scientist to understand climate, but it does take some work to understand the various major components.

    Here are two sentences (but I cheated with semicolons)

    Solar radiation comes into our atmosphere and hits the earth; the solar radiation translates into heat energy and emits long wave infrared back to the atmosphere and toward space.

    CO2 absorbs the radiation in the lower atmosphere and thus warms the atmosphere; that energy is then slowly absorbed by the oceans thus warming the entire system… then the feedbacks…

  277. Chris Colose:

    Glenn, reading your comments and your “Holocene deniar” posts through your link, you really need to educate yourself on what gavin is saying.

    The High northern latitudes were clearly warmer in mid-Holocene a few thousand years ago than recently, for orbital reasons (more summer sunshine). Globally averaged harder to call–still a lot of uncertainties in southern reconstructions but not anything like + 3 C. IPCC AR4 Chapter 6 has better details. The Greenland response was retreat behind modern position, poorly constrained, but with sketchy evidence for kilometers to maybe tens of kilometers, and suggestions of sea level rise up to half a meter. We are talking about futures of several C with much more than that in the Greenland vicinity. Further, the warmer it is, the more influential temperature becomes. If you have no melting on top, then a bit of warming may do nothing; if you have the ice almost too warm, and warming causes a bit of thinning that lowers the surface and warms more, there is a threshold beyond which the ice sheet cannot survive, so in general the effect of a 1 C warming is expected to be larger if the temperature before the warming is higher, so you can see why there is concern (not a scare tactic).

    In fact it has been warmer in Greenland in the past and the ice sheet responded. Greenland actually doesn’t care why it was warmer. If it continues to get warmer then the ice will melt, and the longer-term response time in a much higher CO2 world is to be substantial Greenland melt and sea level rise.

  278. David B. Benson:

    Rick Brown (272) — On my own this time, I am confident that deforestation was well advanced during the Medieval Warm Period:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/books/21book.html?ref=science

    and substantially reversed during the great plagues following in Europe and the Americas. Don’t know about elsewhere in the world.

    Glenn Morton (275) — Actually sea levels were not, on average higher then; highest now:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Sea_Level.png

    so this might suggest to you that the rest of your ideas are misinformed. To put the matter of CO2 concentrations in better prespective, look at what was going on about 15 million years ago:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:65_Myr_Climate_Change.png

    with CO2 concentrations about the same as we have now.

  279. RichardC:

    263 entropy man, that’s ludicrous. A modern computer has tolerances measured in microns. Disk drives and chips are far better than a few mechanical levers. I’ve used typewriters and they tend to get tangled when one types too fast. That’s why the qwerty keyboard was developed – to slow people down since primitive typewriters couldn’t handle the speed.

  280. walter crain:

    omg! glenn morton!
    i knew that name was familiar. did you write those “talkorigin” articles? about looking for noah’s flood in the geologic column? the geologic column in north dakota? those are great articles.

  281. Jarad Holmes:

    Um…the submarines sufacing near the poles. I was indeed incorrect and typed in the wrong date. There was an attempt in the 1930s to travelunder the North Pole. It was the 1950s when a sub came up near the pole several times:

    “As early as 1959, the first US submarine to surface at the North Pole, the USS Skate, did so in late March, and surfaced at 10 other locations during the same cruise, each time finding leads of open water or very thin ice from which to do so. It did a similar cruise a year earlier in August 1958, again finding numerous open leads within which to surface. Here is a photo of the Skate during one of its surfacings in 1959. As can be seen in all three photos, the flat new ice is scarcely different between 1959 and 1999, while the 1987 photo shows the extent to which open water can occur.”

    More:

    For example, one crew member aboard the USS Skate which surfaced at the North Pole in 1959 and numerous other locations during Arctic cruises in 1958 and 1959 said:

    “the Skate found open water both in the summer and following winter. We surfaced near the North Pole in the winter through thin ice less than 2 feet thick. The ice moves from Alaska to Iceland and the wind and tides causes open water as the ice breaks up. The Ice at the polar ice cap is an average of 6-8 feet thick, but with the wind and tides the ice will crack and open into large polynyas (areas of open water), these areas will refreeze over with thin ice. We had sonar equipment that would find these open or thin areas to come up through, thus limiting any damage to the submarine. The ice would also close in and cover these areas crushing together making large ice ridges both above and below the water. We came up through a very large opening in 1958 that was 1/2 mile long and 200 yards wide. The wind came up and closed the opening within 2 hours. On both trips we were able to find open water. We were not able to surface through ice thicker than 3 feet.”

  282. Craig Allen:

    Phil (#273),

    I’m finding that if you are exceptionally polite, then your comments will get through on Watts’ blog. Unless you are denying any aspect of global warming in which case posters seem to be able to go for it boots and all, especially if they are abusing Al Gore (a big topic all through the comments).

    For example, at the end of a post refuting an earlier poster’s denial that sea levels are rising (in which he used this plot as proof – Ha!), I wrote the following:

    “Scientists are beavering away at coming to a coherent understanding of how the climate system works, what it has done, is doing and will do. Where they uncover apparent contradictions in their findings they beaver away to resolve them. By contrast, denialists seem to be perfectly happy with the contradictory nature of their mish-mass of claims, as long as each claim seems to challenge the existence of AGW, or the seriousness of it’s possible impacts.”

    Watts, snipped out the word [denialist] but left the rest there.

    One of my earlier post was quite sober and well considered, but I said that given the black is white, up is down nature of the poster’s assertions, he must be either very confused or dishonest. The whole post was deleted.

    Anyway, I would encourage others to trundle over there now and again, pick articles or posts that are particularly silly, and very carefully and succinctly demolish refute them. There are a lot of people hooking into that blog who need to get an occasional glimpse of what rational science-based discussion actually looks like. It first I thought that it was going to do my head in, but it turns out to be fun because you get such lame returns. Just remember to be exceptionally polite and never flippant. This is actually a good thing since your audience are the very people we need to convince. Don’t get angry at BS arguments. Others will be able to compare the BS with what you have said and make up their own minds.

  283. Marcus:

    Glenn Morton: Sure, the Earth has survived Ice Age to interglacial transitions. But, as has been pointed out to you, back then there was no civilization around with massive cities built on coasts, back then when local climates changed humans weren’t tied down to property, houses, and farms to they were free to migrate or die, back then ecosystems weren’t already strained to the breaking point with pollution and restricted from free migration by giant asphalt roads and cities… the Earth also survived the Ice Age, but most people wouldn’t be too keen on giant walls of ice wiping out Canada.

    You should consider adding some perspective to your knowledge of geophysics.

  284. dhogaza:

    If that is so, what is the big deal about global warming? We have been there before and to act as if this current warming is something unsual or to be feared is just to act irrationally.

    You were answered earlier – we’ve got six billion today highly dependent on agriculture and physical infrastructure, not a handful of hunter-gatherers.

    Remember, Jim, that response said some of them had written articles about what I am pointing out, the Holocene Climate Optimum. Thus, they know all this and still love to tell a good scary story to those less knowledgeable. I am a geophysicist, that is why I know these things.

    Rather than making clear to us that you’re full of yourself, please educate us poor dumb mortals as to why we’d expect impacts to be the same given the vast difference in the human role on the planet today vs. the Holocene.

    And how do you know that populations then weren’t severely impacted, anyway? Do you think humanity’s history on this planet is one of cheerful, upward advancement in technology and our ability to “tame” nature without any setbacks due to changes in climate, etc?

    Humanity survived. I believe humanity will survive the change we’re seeing, too. That doesn’t not mean that humanity will not SUFFER, however, and if you want to simply cavalierly wave that off as not being important, well … (bad words hurled in your general direction).

  285. MikeN:

    #274 Glenn, I had the same reaction, then I realized that NH means Northern Hemisphere, not New Hampshire.

  286. MikeN:

    #272, my question is, when an individual tree dies, for its lifetime did it remove carbon from the air in total, or did it only remove carbon, and then when it dies, all that carbon goes back into the atmosphere?

  287. Hank Roberts:

    Walter, I’m not a scientist and don’t pretend to be. I’ve read about this and made the effort to look things up. Follow the “Start Here” link at the top, and read the History (first link under Science in the right hand column). Click the links under Contributors in the right hand column, and look at their publications. Read. Don’t ask for answers from some guy on a blog and assume they’re reliable.

  288. Hank Roberts:

    > Glenn Morton

    _The_ Glenn Morton? The petroleum/creationist guy?

  289. walter crain:

    i don’t know. glenn morton the geology guy is/was a regular mainstream “billion-of-years” geologist. those articles are great.

  290. walter crain:

    hank,
    re 287, 269. i’m not planning on parroting whatever someone here says. i’ll research it and square it with my knowledge. i’m just looking for some “rhetorical gems” that coalesce the complex issue into a few convincing sentences.

  291. Jim Eager:

    Glenn (275), The ‘big deal’ is that there were not nearly 7 billion humans around then that had to deal with how post glacial sea level rise would wreak havoc on trillions of dollars of their built coastal infrastructure, or with how shifts in rain and snow fall amount and timing would impact on their ability to feed that many people.

    You are hardly the first geologist to pop into RealClimate to dismiss the potential impact of current climate change compared to Earth’s long-term history, and I’m quite sure you will not be the last. One thing they have had in common is a seeming inability to appreciate the impact of climate change on human time scales. It seems difficult for them to fathom that every single thing we know as civilization and technology beyond simple stone and bone tools, including the intensive agriculture that allows 6+ billion humans to survive, developed over the last 10,000 years of relatively stable climate.

    The Human species has been through climate change of the magnitude of an ice age, but not yet Human civilization. Yet even during the relatively stable Holocene we know that the entirley natural range of climate change contributed to the collapse of human societies. Anyone who dismisses the potential of climate change to put literally billions of people at risk is being foolish. And anyone who shows up and announces that “nothing bad happened to the world at all” is being breathtakingly foolish.

  292. Hank Roberts:

    MikeN, nope.

    Google has a pretty good natural language query engine nowadays. Type your question into the Scholar search box and you’ll generally find the research on the subject.

    A few examples:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7210/abs/nature07276.html
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7146/abs/nature05847.html
    http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/07-2006.1
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2006.09.003

    Remember, read the footnotes, read the “cited by” or “articles citing this” links. Don’t listen to some guy on a blog, read for yourself. Read up on your own area of the world, wherever it is.

  293. Hank Roberts:

    One more for MikeN
    http://eco.confex.com/eco/2008/techprogram/P11207.HTM

    Check each of those sites for related information.

  294. Hank Roberts:

    For Glenn Morton:

    > what is the big deal about global warming?
    > We have been there before and to act as if this
    > current warming is something unsual …

    It’s the rate of change that is unique to the present situation.

    http://www.springerlink.com/index/GQ7UGH9EQAA8MGNL.pdf
    Estimates of the damage costs of climate change,
    Part II. Dynamic estimates
    RSJ Tol – Environmental and Resource Economics, 2002 – Springer
    … speed of adaptation. Common sense suggests that the impact reacts more than linear to the rate of climate change …

    You’re a geologist. You know the rates of change differ. But you need to read the evolutionary biology along with the geology, e.g.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=rate+of+climate+change+plankton+deep+sea+calcium

  295. walter crain:

    glenn, others,
    is there a time period/temp that could be thought of as having “optimum” conditions for life on earth – maybe defined by # of species or biomass or some other criteria?

  296. Rick Brown:

    MikeN #285 Re: trees

    Bearing in mind that I’m just some guy on a blog, here’s how I think it goes. Your question about the overall carbon balance of the life and death of an individual tree isn’t the most relevant or interesting one, but to a first approximation, yes, when the wood in an individual tree decays or burns, as much carbon is released as was absorbed during the tree’s life. Some small fraction can be incorporated into stable compounds in the soil or converted to charcoal, potentially persisting for thousands of years. Erosion can carry these to deep ocean sediments where they can be incorporated into sediments and pretty effectively isolated in the geosphere. Over very long time periods, this adds up.

    What’s more relevant is what goes on at the level of a forested landscape. With a given species composition, climate and disturbance regime (timing, intensity, etc. of fire, logging, etc.) a landscape will store a characteristic amount of carbon, with different stands across that dynamic landscape storing varying amounts depending on how recently they’ve experienced a disturbance of a what severity. As the interval between disturbance increases, or the severity of the disturbance decreases, the landscape will store more carbon, and vice versa.

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, forest landscapes managed on short-rotation clearcut forestry store only a fraction of the carbon stored by pre-settlement forest landscapes where the majority of forest stands were old-growth (apparently storing as much carbon per acre as any forests in the world) and where the primary source of disturbance – stand-replacement fire – occurred at intervals of a few to several hundred years.

    I’ve summarized much of this material, with abundant citations, in a paper (The Implications of Climate Change for Conservation, Restoration and Management of National Forest Lands) that can be downloaded (PDF) at http://www.defenders.org/climatechange/forests.

  297. Aaron Lewis:

    Re:254
    I am very disappointed that the accounts in the popular press do not include any local sea temperatures. From http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.4.2.2009.gif, I surmise that local sea temperatures may have something to do with the process. I note that the last few Aprils have had warm surface sea temperature anomalies in the area, but no discussion of the topic in the news releases.

  298. Bill DeMott:

    Re comment by Rick Brown below:

    RE: MikeN #528 5 avril 2009 at 1:39 PM (and the previous comment you refer to):

    The estimates that I’m aware of indicate that 40-45% the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1850 is due to deforestation, and deforestation, primarily in the tropics, currently accounts for 20-25% of human-caused CO2 emissions. As David Benson might point out, William Ruddiman would suggest that the contributions due to deforestation began well before 1850.

    Rick–my timing is off, since I am ecologist on sabattical in Europe and it’s now morning here. The data show that deforestation has made a negligible contributon to CO2 increase and that virtually all of the increase is due to burning fossil fuels.

    For quite a while, deforestation in the tropics was offset by increased forests in North America and Europe. Have you ever read about how Vermont, for example, was mostly pasture land for sheep before the railroads went through in the US west?

    However, since forests are now fairly stable in the temperate zone, whereas deforestation in the tropics is accelerating, I expect that changes in forests will become a net source of CO2. However, while changes in vegetation are somewhat important, they are small relative to effects of burning fossil fuels. I have to admit that my data on effects of land use mainly come from ecology text books and I have not read the most recent studies. However, my understanding is that once the industrial age was well underway, burning of fossils fuels as been by far the main contributor to atmospheric CO2. I am sure that other readers on this blog can come up with current estimates.

    [Response: Not sure where you are getting your numbers, but the deforestation component is more like 20% of the total (currently ~2GtC/yr, compared to ~7GtC/yr from fossil fuels. See this figure for instance. - gavin]

  299. Chris Winter:

    I surmise that the intent is to come up with a less pejorative label than “deniers”. (Personally I think that serves quite well, but there’s no harm in considering alternatives.)

    I agree with Jeff in Ohio (#1) that “advocate” is the wrong word for this use. An advocate can be rigorous and even correct.

    As Andrew suggests (#22), “ideologue” is a possibility. Some others that come to mind (not entirely satisfying) are: “beclouder”; “doctrinist”; “garbler”; glossifier”; and “zealot”.

  300. James:

    Glenn Morton Says (5 April 2009 at 7:02 PM):

    “…the seas were higher and the world warmer, the permafrost more melted and the Siberian treeline further north than today. If that is so, what is the big deal about global warming?”

    I thought of a practical experiment that will perhaps illuminate one important point of difference. Visit Yosemite, take the bus to the top of Glacier Point, and hike down the trail back to the valley. If you’re in decent shape, your knees may be a little sore that night, but no big deal, right? So the next day you take the bus up again, and instead of hiking, you walk over to the cliff edge and jump off. Shouldn’t be any problem, should it? Same elevation change, and as you say, after all, you’ve been there before…

  301. Philip Machanick:

    Mike #286 the answer is, it depends. If you have an established forest the overall carbon sequestered is very significant. One individual tree may possibly decay and release all its carbon to the atmosphere, but one tree is not interesting. You need to consider the whole system. Collectively, forests sequester carbon not only in the timber but also in the ground (where do you think coal comes from?). The actual amount depends on the type of forest and the local climate.

    The major reason that there is confusion about this issue is logging interests have sowed confusion. Growing trees long-term and leaving them growing is a significant carbon sink.

    Here’s a slide show that covers the common myths: http://www.slideshare.net/dougoh/forest-carbon-climate-myths-presentation

  302. Barton Paul Levenson:

    The inaptly named “truth” writes:

    You’ve said in your blog on the ‘lag’, that the warming at the termination of an ice age in the past was initiated by some unknown cause that set in train the first 800 years of warming, that the resulting warming was the cause of the rise in CO2, and then from then on, the CO2 amplified the warming—– yet there’s no deliberation now about whether the initiating factor in this warming could be the same as then , and not CO2.

    As mentioned several times in this blog, including in threads you claim to have read, the cause of the ice ages is NOT unknown. Google “Milankovic Cycles.” And we know it’s not operating now because the present warming is extremely rapid and Milankovic cycles takes tens of thousands of years to operate.

  303. Barton Paul Levenson:

    walter crain writes:

    i still meet people who say, “how do we KNOW CO2 increases temperatures?”

    give me a one (or maybe two) sentence answer. i appreciate all your detailed complex well-linked multi-paragraph answers, but… what is a one or two sentence answer a layman rhetorician can give?

    Lab measurements first made by John Tyndall in 1859 show that carbon dioxide largely passes visible light but absorbs infrared. Put more of it in the air and the ground must warm, all else being equal.

  304. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Rick Brown writes:

    The estimates that I’m aware of indicate that 40-45% the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1850 is due to deforestation, and deforestation, primarily in the tropics, currently accounts for 20-25% of human-caused CO2 emissions.

    That doesn’t sound right. I recall deforestation accounting for about 16% of artificial CO2 increase. It’s overwhelmingly fossil-fuel burning. But of course deforestation also hurts and we have to control that as well.

  305. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Shorter greenhouse: Sunlight heats the ground, the ground radiates infrared, greenhouse gases absorb the infrared, and they radiate themselves–half of it right back down to the ground. The greenhouse effect is “atmosphere shine” adding to the sunshine which heats the ground.

  306. Nick Gotts:

    “The estimates that business as usual will lead to from about 2ºC to 5.5ºC global increase in temperature by 2100 is predicted with about 95% confidence. That means that there’s about 2.5% chance that the warming will be less than 2ºC. That appears to be where Dyson is placing his bet. That doesn’t necessarily make him crazy” – Leonard Ornstein

    Yes, it does – if you include “recklessly irresponsible” in your definition of “crazy”. If there was merely a 1% chance that BAU would lead to more than 2ºC global increase by 2100, it would be recklessly irresponsible not to take urgent action to control GHG emissions.

  307. Nick O.:

    Hi folks. Can we have an update please on the Wilkins Ice shelf and Pine Island Bay? Might also be timely to have some commentary regarding sea level changes associated with ice shelf collapse; I’m thinking here more about the impact of local isostatic rebound rather than the more usual melt volume vs displacement issues. Thanks.

  308. Sue:

    Christopher Booker, writing in the Telegraph, is one of the UK’s main climate sceptic journalists, writing for the Sunday Telegraph (a paper that tends to be read by upper middle classes, especially Conservative party members and politicians.

    His latest diatribe is on sea levels – any comments (See link below). I’m going to use this as a basis for an MSc essay (I am a mature p/t student MSC Architecture: Advanced Energy & Env. Studies at CAT, Wales.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5067351/Rise-of-sea-levels-is-the-greatest-lie-ever-told.html

    [Response: This would be the least likely source material for an academic thesis that I've ever heard. I'd strongly recommend basing your research on something that was actually true. - gavin]

  309. FurryCatHerder:

    Paul writes:

    But where you also make a mistake is in thinking that the denialosphere has a hypothesis. Their closest element to a hypothesis is “AGW isn’t happening”.

    That is FAR from accurate. I’ve been called a “Denialist” many times because I’ve argued both that GCRs affect the weather, as well as that a number of scenarios are unfeasible for economic reasons.

    On the GCR front, it’s been pro-RC people who’ve just waved their hands like there is nothing to the claims that the strength of the solar wind, etc. affects climate. And here it is, 30 days since the last sunspot, a couple years into the deepest solar minimum in decades, and I’m freezing my butt off waiting on the weather to finally warm up. It’s April in Central Texas — why is it 45F outside and I’m sleeping under an electric blanket?!?

    [Response: But you completely miss the point that because the sun or a volcano or factor X might also affect climate, it has no impact on the radiative impact of CO2. - gavin]

    On the fossil fuels front, y’all can explain to me how the planet is going to afford to burn all that coal, gas and oil. Before the financial meltdown, people were already going broke trying to consume fossil fuels.

  310. Craig Allen:

    Glen Morton #233, 275:

    Let me give you an example of how the planet’s emergence of the planet from the last climate optimum impacted severely on hunter gatherer societies.

    In south-east Australia (and throughout much of the rest of the continent), the Aboriginal people were members of clans who identified with specific areas of landscape (which some anthropologists now clumsily refer to as clan estates). In my state of Victoria at the time of European settlement there were at least 300 clans, speaking at least 30 distinct languages and many dialects between these. (For example, this map shows the approximate location of known clans of the Wada Wurrung speakers of the volcanic plains, coasts and ranges west of Melbourne.) In every day life people lived and travelled in groups that anthropologists refer to as bands. Band membership was fluid and would included members from a number of clans. Bands were able to travel through and access the lands and resources included clans, and of other clans with whom they had negotiated agreements. In all such negotiations, laws and ceremonies passed down generation upon generation had to be adhered to. The members of a clam were obligated to conduct ceremonies and pass on sacred knowledge which were specific to features of the landscapes of their estates, most of which they understood to have been created by ancestoral creator beings in the time before time which is now known as the Dreamtime. Although many clans were allied, others were at time in conflict. Particularly where there were large language and cultural differences.

    Now consider Australia during the ice age. The sea level was 130m lower and vast areas of continental shelf which are now inundated were then productive land and were inhabited by tens of thousands of people. The current coastline was far inland and our magnificent heathlands, eucalyptus woodlands, forests and rainforests stretched into what is now ocean.

    Have a look at this map to orientate yourself with my part of the World.

    The Tasman sea between the mainland and Tasmania was a wide peninsular (and when the sea level was higher was a large bay bounded by a peninsular stretching up through Phillip Island at the north-east corner of Tasmania. You can see this in this Interactive map of the Australian coast with sea level adjustable to any time in last 140,00 years

    Now picture what would have happened to the landscape as sea levels rose. Between 20,000 and 8,000 years before present, sea levels rose by 117 metres. That’s an average of 0.7mm/year. During Meltwater Pulse A, which took place between 14.7 & 14.2 thousand years ago, it rose by about 4mm per year. Melbourne is build around the Yarra river. At the height of the ice age the river fell into the Great Australian Bight west of the Tasman Peninsular. Over the course of 12,000 years the river advanced up it’s valley at a rate of about 17m per year. During Meltwater Pulse A it would have been something like 90 metres per year.

    * Post glacial sea level rise plot at the CSIRO
    * Post glacial sea level rise plot at Global Warming Art

    Now ponder what the Aboriginal people would have experienced. Clearly there at times there will have been a lot of conflict as coastal groups were pushed into the lands of adjacent peoples and they into the lands of people further inland. This would have particularly occurred during lean years. It seems that the situation of the Bunwurrung people at the time of settlement may have reflected the inundation experience. They laid claim to the shoreline of Port Philip Bay (into which the Yarra flows and around the shores of which Melbourne now stretches). To this day this claim to land is contentious to descendants of the clans immediately inland of the Bay. At that time of settlement they were also in deadly conflict with clans of the east of Victoria. The Bunwurrung may in fact have originally been people of the now submerged Tasman Peninsular who lost their sacred lands and were forced to take possession on those further inland.

    Glen, you contend that nothing bad happen. That’s easy to say from where you sit. Some very very bad things probably happened at the tips of flint edged war spears. Some of the tensions over land will have been resolved by negotiation and intermarriage, but there will inevitably been innumerable conflicts over thousands of years.

    Now consider the disruption that will ensue as sea level rise relentlessly in response to global warming in future centuries. And for that matter as spreading deserts render whole regions and countries uninhabitable. How will the US deal with half of Mexico’s population being forced to migrate north for example? Or Canada with the migration of the US plus Mexico?

  311. FurryCatHerder:

    Nick writes:

    Hi folks. Can we have an update please on the Wilkins Ice shelf and Pine Island Bay? Might also be timely to have some commentary regarding sea level changes associated with ice shelf collapse; I’m thinking here more about the impact of local isostatic rebound rather than the more usual melt volume vs displacement issues. Thanks.

    Very little? The volume of water which is relocated twice daily from tidal effects dwarfs the volume of melt water from an ice shelf collapse.

    More to the point, those ice sheets were already floating.

    [Response: Tidal effects are irrelevant. But floating ice shelves do make a small difference to sea level when they melt because they are fresh water. When floating, they displace salt water which is slightly denser than the fresh water that they supply when they melt. The difference in density is small (about 3%), and so the extra sea level can approximated at 3%*height of the ice (~500m?)*area of ice shelf (~20,000 km2)/area of the ocean (3.6x10^14 m2). If I did the unit conversions right, that is a little under 1 mm. (note that this is for when the ice has fully melted, not just when it's collapsed, and for the whole Wilkins ice shelf, not just the little bit that is collapsing now). The exact answer isn't that different - details left for the readers.... - gavin]

  312. Nick Gotts:

    “And here it is, 30 days since the last sunspot, a couple years into the deepest solar minimum in decades, and I’m freezing my butt off waiting on the weather to finally warm up. It’s April in Central Texas — why is it 45F outside and I’m sleeping under an electric blanket?!?” – FurryCatHerder

    Meanwhile in the UK March 2009 mean temperatures were 1.4 C above the 1961-90 average. Maybe sunspots only affect the US of A, or even Texas – or is it that what happens anywhere else doesn’t really count? Seriously, what on earth do you think your anecdote about one tiny patch of the Earth’s surface means?

  313. gavin:

    Please continue any discussion about Wilkins Ice Shelf on the relevant post. Thanks. – gavin

  314. Ray Ladbury:

    Glenn Morton says “I am a geophysicist, that is why I know these things.”

    It would appear that most geophysicists disagree.

    http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/climate_change_position.html

    Agricultural yields suffer in a substantially warmer climate than we have at present. Do you advocate going back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in a world of 9 billion hungry souls?

  315. Ray Ladbury:

    Leonard Ornstein, I think that Dyson is betting that technology will save us more than he is betting on low climate sensitivity–or perhaps he’s betting that it will save us IF climate sensitivity is not low. The problems with this position are manifold. First, the probability distribution for CO2 sensitivity is skewed significantly toward higher values. Second, a 95% confidence does not equate to a 5% probability of being wrong–that is confidence and probability are different measures. Third, assuming technology will save us seems dubious, since a changing climate will strike at economic prosperity and render us less likely to be able to support the infrastructure demanded by such an effort. Fourth, technology takes time to develop solutions, and we have wasted a whole lot of time doing nothing

    No one denies Dyson is brilliant. He is, however, well outside his field of expertise, and some of his comments make it clear he has not devoted copious study to the issue. That is a pretty good way for a brilliant person to be flat-assed wrong.

  316. walter crain:

    speaking of technology…have you heard of “carbon-eating” man-made “trees” that somehow “draw” co2 out of the air? i read somewhere (sorry…no citation/link/anything…) of these plastic plates or fins or something that attract co2, which is periodically “washed” off with water and magically “sequestered” somewhere. was i smokin’ something or did i really read that? what do you think?

  317. walter crain:

    …to continue “technology”…is there anything “good” we can do with “captured” co2? anything useful we can make it into? in theory? i mean, like mockton or maybe shimkus said, “it’s plant food…”

  318. Rick Brown:

    RE: Bill DeMott #296 6 April 2009 at 12:31 AM (and BPL #305)
    Gavin’s inline response addresses current contributions of deforestation; as for the historic component:

    “The intensity and scale of human alteration of the biosphere has accelerated since the industrial revolution, and by 1990 ca. 20-30% of original forest area had been lost. This loss of forest cover has contributed 45% of the increase in atmospheric CO2 observed since 1850.”

    Malhi, Y., P. Meir, and S. Brown. 2002. Forests, carbon and global climate. Proceedings of the Royal Society A 360:1567-1591.

    [Response: Thanks for the citation. But the number still seems too high - let me look into it some more. - gavin]

    [Response: On further reflection this seems reasonable (though there is some uncertainty). I learn something new every day. - gavin]

  319. John Philip:

    Sue – one hopes your essay is some kind of examination of the reliability of mainstream media and shall-we-say ‘outlying’ scientists in the determination of scientific principles. As background reading you might want to check out Mr Booker’s equating of white asbestos to talcum powder, and the views on dowsing of Nils-Axel Mörner.

    http://richardwilsonauthor.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/bookers-38-bogus-claims-about-white-asbestos/
    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/09/23/the-patron-saint-of-charlatans/
    http://www.randi.org/hotline/1998/0012.html

    I realise that a belief in water-divining does not of itself negate Morner’s reliability, however to establish Morner’s credentials, Booker cites his past presidency of INQUA; here the opening of that body’s current position statement on climate change …

    There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring1. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and, indirectly, from increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes in many physical and biological systems.

    Any old how … Good luck with the essay. BTW does CAT = Centre for Alternative Technology? I had no idea those guys were offering academic courses these days …

    JP

  320. Rick Brown:

    RE: Bill DeMott #296 6 April 2009 at 12:31 AM

    Regarding Vermont: Starting in the early 20th century, forests have indeed grown on former pasture land, but what were these lands before they were pasture? Forests. I have no data at hand, but I think it likely that current forests in Vermont, and other areas reforested willy-nilly after abandonment of farms, store less carbon than they did prior to the initial deforestation.

  321. FurryCatHerder:

    Gavin responds

    “[Response: But you completely miss the point that because the sun or a volcano or factor X might also affect climate, it has no impact on the radiative impact of CO2. - gavin]“

    It’s my understanding — correct me if I’m wrong — that the impact of increases in CO2 are computed from historical climate data, not deduced directly from the underlying physics? If the past 30 or 40 years have been a period of abnormal solar activity (and both SC22 and SC23 were well above normal, compared to the record), would or wouldn’t that affect the calculations, if GCRs are being ignored?

    [Response: No. The impacts of greenhouse gases (and aerosols, and the sun and volcanoes and orbital forcings) are mostly derived from direct calculations. Any GCR effect might have some impact on studies of the solar cycle, but since GCR hasn't increased since the 1950s (pretty much as long as we've been measuring), it isn't likely to have any impact on recent trends. But rather than deal with this again, please see our previous posts on the issue. - gavin]

  322. AySz88:

    While I am almost certain the first few posts are confusing or blending “activist” and “advocate”, I’m not sure either is right here. An “activist” attempts to bring about action for an existing view – this probably matches your description better, but is not always disconnected from new facts. An “advocate” tries to raise the profile of an issue and attempts to convince people to take a view, which doesn’t quite match as well, and is also not always (or even often) bad.

    The closest words I can think of that matches your description is “fundamentalist” or “selectively deaf”. But I have to admit that I think it’s very close to just a strawman; “generic idiot” matches fairly well.

  323. walter crain:

    “rhetoric.” those denialists are master rhetoricians.

    but it doesn’t have to be “vs” as in “science vs rhetoric”, it can, should, be science and rhetoric. we have to do better science AND better rhetoric.

  324. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #295 walter crain

    The question is too limited. Are you talking about optimal for humans or for life in general? For my money, optimum time was the Cambrian for the formation of life in general.

    I like the Holocene myself, but lacking anything to compare it too, since humans have not been around long, I’m not sure how I would like an ice age. I suppose if we were in an ice age human would be hanging out near the equator though and of course year round skiing is a bonus.

    Our current forcing has us heading into Jurassic temps. Ideal is a relative term. How easy is it to move all the people that own land in the southern part of the US to the northern part… doesn’t sound very ideal… what about moving 3/4′s of Africans into Europe and Russia… How ideal does that sound? What about Mexico moving up in to America? How ideal is that?

    You are bringing up a contrarian point. The silly ‘optimal’ question was brought up by none less that Michael Griffin the former head of NASA. I will refrain from stating what I think of his dedication to honor regarding science.

    http://www.uscentrist.org/videos/word-items/airogance
    http://www.uscentrist.org/videos/word-items/mission-control

    He apologized for his remarks but he did not do it publicly, he did in over at JPL.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19058588

    I also did a piece on the general idea in response to some of the silliness

    http://uscentrist.org/news/2007/docs/demand-debate/

    and related

    http://uscentrist.org/news/2007/word-play

  325. Hank Roberts:

    Rick Brown, thank you (again, I recall I’ve been thanking you on and off for years for what you do).

    Your link above has a trailing period incorporated in it by mistake and won’t load — this works:

    http://www.defenders.org/climatechange/forests

    Implications of Climate Change for Conservation, Restoration and Management of National Forest Lands
    By Rick Brown
    Published September 2008

    Highly recommended forestry reading, folks. As Gavin says, always something new to learn. Good source.

  326. MikeN:

    Rick, Hank thanks for the comments.
    You two have given conflicting answers regarding whether a tree removes carbon from the atmosphere. I’m going to assume Rick is right, given that he agrees with me.

    I think I see the point. So an individual tree being planted doesn’t help in the long term, or even 1 million trees in isolated locations, but having the constant replanting, or a forest with its own natural regrowth does help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

  327. walter crain:

    johnp,
    nice articles about “framing”. i realise it could be thought of as politically incorrect. i’m not at all advocating we try to adjust earth’s temps to this “optimum”. i like it just fine the way we’ve had to the past 10,000 years too. i was really just musing about some theoretical optimum for life on earth in gerneral. i know that’s open to interpretation, but maybe that’s the fun.

  328. FurryCatHerder:

    Any GCR effect might have some impact on studies of the solar cycle, but since GCR hasn’t increased since the 1950s (pretty much as long as we’ve been measuring), it isn’t likely to have any impact on recent trends.

    Uh, you might want to discuss that with NASA. [edit]

    [Response: Oh yeah. Maybe I know something about that. Perhaps you would like to look at the cosmic ray data instead. No more on this - it is OT. - gavin]

  329. Theo Hopkins:

    Bias in science towards the results that are wanted?

    The head of the British Antarctic Survey, or rather, he who is heading up the Wilkins Camp there, was interviewed on the box tonight. That’s BBC in UK.

    I guess this post is about potential bias in science (it happens other places/skills I a sure) in that he was saying the split-off could be due to regional warming or could be due to global warming. But they were working on things, and expected to be able to show it is due to global warming. He was a tad excited (in my own personal opinion) about it being “global” and I got the impression that that’s what he wanted to show. (My partner is an ex-toxicologist PhD – who sometimes has done work for Greenpeace UK – and says people should be aware of bias towards the results they want).

    My interest in this particular event is actually to see how the even is reported and how the event is seen by nay-sayers and professional deniers (as opposed to merely confused like me)
    ————-
    Who was this bloke, Wilkins, anyway, who has shot to fame after years in the shadows? ;-)

  330. Hank Roberts:

    > Rick, Hank thanks for the comments.
    > You two have given conflicting answers

    Nope. You misread or didn’t read. Did you follow any of the links and do any of the reading I suggested? All of that body of research supports the same point Rick makes.

  331. David B. Benson:

    walter crain (295) — Being partizan for Homo sapiens, I find best a temperature at which glaciers neither melt back nor advance, etc. This suggests that around 290–300 ppm CO2e would be ideal.

  332. Rick Brown:

    RE #26 MikeN 6 April 2009 at 1:23 PM

    Maybe we should just let this OT thread end, but I think the conflict between Hank and my answers is more apparent than real; we just interpreted your question somewhat differently. I took it literally as being about the fate of individual trees, the references Hank cited have more to do with the ability of even very old stands of trees to continue to sequester and store carbon.

    Avoiding deforestation has the most immediate benefits for carbon storage, since the forest will continue to absorb carbon while maintaining existing stores (absent disturbance). Planting an individual tree will provide benefits for its lifespan, but these will begin to reverse once the tree dies and starts to decay. Planting a forest with native species on a previously forested site (one that’s been clearcut logged, for instance) will be beneficial, but it may be a decade or two before the rate of sequestration by the new, young trees exceeds the rate of carbon loss from decaying stumps, roots, etc. Planting trees/forests where they didn’t occur before is questionable, not only because there will be an initial carbon loss from disturbing e.g., a native grassland, but also due to losses of native habitat and biodiversity.

  333. walter crain:

    artificial trees? any good?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/6374967.stm

  334. Hank Roberts:

    > artificial trees? any good?
    1) hypothetical
    2) source of sodium hydroxide?
    3) transportation?
    4) put the result where?
    5) You can buy a lot of tree seeds for the money you’d spend putting those things up on poles.
    6) Where are you planning to get the poles?
    7) cost it out and we’ll see, but I doubt it.

  335. MikeN:

    Hank, I asked a question, and you answered nope and Rick said yes. Based on the articles you posted, I think you were answering a different question, and maybe agree with Rick about individual trees having no net carbon sink.

    Rick, your response brings up another question. You say there is a carbon loss for many years if you plant a tree on a previously forested site. How is that? Shouldn’t a tree be a carbon sink from the moment of planting? And isn’t a stump a carbon ‘emitter’?

  336. Rick Brown:

    MikeN

    Yes, decaying stumps emit carbon, as will the remnants of any ecosystem (including their soils) disturbed in the course of planting trees. Grassland soils are notably rich in carbon, a good deal of which will be emitted subsequent to planting trees. The young planted trees are a very small store of carbon and it will be a while before they store more than was released by the initial disturbance.

    May I humbly suggest you download my paper, which I’m told is a fairly easy read, as I think you’ll find many of your questions answered there or in the cited references. No doubt it will raise other questions. Let’s see if I can get it right this time (thanks Hank for catching the previous error): http://www.defenders.org/climatechange/forests

    (And, getting back to the original theme of this post, yes Defenders of Wildlife is an advocacy organization, but I hope you will find that I’ve done my level best to be an honest broker of the science.)

  337. Hank Roberts:

    An individual tree is like an individual dog — you find them around humans, but not in the wild. They’re social organisms, fundamentally so.

    For an individual tree, how long it’s a carbon sink, and how much of one, depends entirely what you do with it . It’s your decision, on an ongoing basis.

    Are you raking and mulching or composting the leaves or needles? Is something eating the fruit or nuts?
    Will wood removed be used for some longterm purpose, or chipped and composted?

    The part of a tree that you burn is neutral. All the rest of it can be a carbon sink. Don’t mistake ‘rot’ for releasing carbon dioxide rapidly. Most “rot” is consumption by other species.

    Once a live tree falls, it very rapidly becomes full of life — all the dead wood inside the thin living surface layer gets consumed and mostly turned to living material, starting with fungi, then beetles.
    The fungi are there and waiting.
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1943154

    But what falls is the part above the ground. What’s cut down for lumber is the part above the ground. What gets killed off is often the part above the ground.

    The American Chestnut is still alive — underground — and still putting up shoots in circles that mark the size of the giant trees. If anyone ever finds a cure for the Chestnut blight that can be inserted into those trees where they’re still living, they’ll grow back. The numbers are astonishing:

    “… the fungus cannot grow well in the tree’s root system, and so sometimes does not completely kill a large tree, numerous small and medium-sized clumps of chestnut survive, with living stems growing from root collars of old, once large trees. Throughout the US, there are probably hundreds of millions of American chestnuts, but few reach a size and age when they can flower, and the blight continues to kill them back to the ground level in repeating cycles of disease. In Maryland forests, larger-sized, weathered American chestnut logs and stumps can still be found today. The great trees that once dominated the canopies and produced an abundance of edible nuts are absent, but the chestnuts continue to resprout from living roots and thereby survive in significant numbers in our forests…. there were as many as 4 billion chestnuts growing in North America at the time of blight introduction. That would have been 25% of the trees….”
    http://www.mdinvasivesp.org/archived_invaders/archived_invaders_2008_04.html

    But to serve as a serious carbon sink, yes, you need trees growing longterm with the associated soil organisms. Once you’ve done a few soil profiles, and used a hand lens or dissecting scope and looked at all the material from the fresh dry leaves at the top to the mineral soil at the bottom, you know how the carbon cascades through many different forms of life, and that’s how topsoil gets built.

    http://www.ent.orst.edu/moldenka/Conservation/survey.htm

    Removing all the fallen branches and “litter” starves the soil and longterm harms the forest.

    Unasylva – No. 174 – Forest resources assessment –
    The term “Waldsterben” (forest death, forest decline) sprang up in Germany in the early ….. especially the discontinuation of litter and humus removal, …
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/v0290e/v0290e07.htm

    Air pollution and forest decline in Central Europe – Elsevier
    INTRODUCTION The concept of ‘Waldsterben’ (forest death, forest decline) arose ….. the practice of litter removal was discontinued in the 1930s to 1950s. …
    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/026974919500006D

    So — single tree? It’s up to you.

    Forests? It’s up to you.
    http://www.cdra.org.za/creativity/The%20Man%20Who%20Planted%20Trees%20-%20Jean%20Giono.htm

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Wildwood/Roger-Deakin/e/9781416593621

  338. James:

    Rick Brown Says (6 April 2009 at 3:04 PM):

    “Planting trees/forests where they didn’t occur before is questionable, not only because there will be an initial carbon loss from disturbing e.g., a native grassland, but also due to losses of native habitat and biodiversity.”

    However, the world is full of places that were previously forests, and are not now – and the same is true for places that were grassland/savanna, and are now desert – due (arguably) to human activity. Much of the western US, North Africa & the Middle East, Australia, etc. Revegetating those places would, IMHO, be a good thing in itself. If doing so also sequesters an appreciable amount of CO2, that’s an added bonus.

  339. David B. Benson:

    The countries across the Sahel will like some financial help is starting a long, wide belt (forest) to fend off the advance of the Sahara to the south.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara_Desert

  340. Hank Roberts:

    One last thought on this — it’s not the tree, it’s the forest including the soil where carbon is tied up.

    Look at an area recently burned hot enough that even the topsoil burns, as happens in a really big forest fire when an area has been “protected” for 40 or 50 years and has a huge fuel load. You end up with lots of burnt rock and black silt that blows and washes away. Opportunistic plants grow really successfully in that first flush of available minerals, for a year or two. Same thing happens downwind of a volcano in volcanic ash — it’s enormously rich in available minerals for a few years, before the soluble and mobile nutrients wash away. After that, it can take decades for soil to begin to build up again. You have to stop erosion, break up sheet flow so biological material blowing in the wind and washing in the surface water can be captured and dropped and tied up slowly by microorganisms. It’s doable — in several human lifetimes.

  341. John Mashey:

    e: #320 Rick

    Well, actually:

    VT (and much of NorthEast):
    forest
    (some) cleared for agriculture by native Americans
    disease kills natives, forests regrow, somewhat
    European settlers clear forests again
    (some) farming is abandoned, forests grow back

    N. American history didn’t start with European settlers…

    See book.

    When my father stopped farming, in 20 years trees covered a pasture that had been there for 100+ years.

  342. Alan Millar:

    “Alan Millar wrote in 222:

    In a dynamic system you have to have a very clear understanding of all possible significant climatic factors and processes and how they relate to each other and in combination and how they drive further changes and we just don’t at this point.

    Actually we do, more or less. They are called climate models — and they take into account ocean circulation and atmospheric circulation according to fluid dynamics, gravitation, radiation transfer theory (including non-Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium conditions), soil types, plant species, you name it all within a 1.25 ° by 1.25 ° grid with forty levels of atmosphere and forty levels of ocean and time increments of fifteen minutes. Or there-abouts. No, they don’t take into account every possible detail but they don’t need to in order to be a good approximation — a far better one that Barton Paul Levenson’s quite useful approach.

    Moreover, uncertainty is not your friend. The likelihood of climate sensitivity being considerably greater than the 3 °C per doubling of CO2 is greater than that of it being considerably smaller — with the currently accepted range of 2-4.5 °C”

    Hi Timothy

    I see that we generally agree about what is important in the consideration of climatic matters.

    We seem to differ in respect that you seem to consider that Climate Science is generally settled and is well described by current Climate Models and I don’t.

    Fair enough! I must admit that ‘differ’ is not a strong enough term to describe our differences.

    I am amazed that anyone, with any good grasp of Mankinds current knowledge of climatic factors, as you seem to have, could think that the science is basically settled.

    It appears that mine and yours definitions of scientific certainty are poles apart. I see huge gaps in our knowledge eg are clouds a net positive or negative factor and you don’t apparently.

    You also state that probability suggests that, the current estimates of the effect of doubling CO2, are ‘considerably’ smaller than expected reality.

    I don’t know how you have calculated these probabilities however these calculations can be tracked.

    If as you say reality means that 21st century warming has a greater probability of exceeding 3 degrees centigrade than not then we can check out the current confidence level of this prediction.

    e.g. If I was to say that, in the next 100 coin tosses, heads had the same probability of exceeding 50 as tails then I would be be speaking the obvious truth.

    If however the first 20 tosses come out tails in this sequence then this statement has hardly any chance of being true.

    That is because real data will always trump any theoretical data in any particular sequence.

    So in the 21st century we could create 1200 monthly data points towards the final alleged result of > than 3 degrees warming. Well we can now fill in the first 100 data points of this sequence with real data.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2010/trend/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2010

    Now what does that say about the probability of “greatly exceeding” 3 degrees warming by 2100? Obviously it will be reduced.

    Perhaps you can recalculate your calculations and tell us what the difference is now in the probability of your statement for the 21st century as compared to the start of the sequence in 2001.

    Indeed, if you have a free day, it would be good if you could post a model, which updates monthly on receipt of global temperatures, in respect of the changing probability of the forecast. It would be quite fun to watch the trend of probability as real data fills in the sequence.

    Alan

    [Response: I've already done this, if you look at the probability distribution of long term trends based on the trend over an 8 or 9 year period in the IPCC models you get almost exactly the same pdf as if you use all of the runs. That is to say that the short term trend in a single realisation doesn't provide much information (if any) about longer term trends driven by long term forcings. - gavin]

  343. Hank Roberts:

    Alan, why be so obvious about stretching to make a bogus claim?

    If you were to base your statistics on say the last five coin-tosses, that’d be like basing your trend on ten years of temperatures, given how much variation there is in coin-tossing compared to climate.

    Why pick just a handful of cherries, when you can have the entire basketful? Just set the low year to less than the beginning and you get all the data:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1800/to:2010/trend/plot/uah/from:1800/to:2010

    __________________
    “rubber publication” says ReCaptcha

    Well, I guess you should publish your chart. Try E&E.

  344. Deech56:

    RE Hank Roberts 6 April 2009 at 5:30 PM

    “In Maryland forests, larger-sized, weathered American chestnut logs and stumps can still be found today. The great trees that once dominated the canopies and produced an abundance of edible nuts are absent, but the chestnuts continue to resprout from living roots and thereby survive in significant numbers in our forests…”

    Hank, nice post. I am currently in Maryland sitting in my living room (nee parlor) in which I am stripping the paint that covered our chestnut casework. The woods here have occasional chestnut trees growing to almost 2 meters high, about the thickness of a pencil. Sometimes we can think of the forests not only being good carbon sinks, but areas of great beauty.

  345. Deech56:

    RE Alan Millar 6 April 2009 at 7:15 PM:

    So in the 21st century we could create 1200 monthly data points towards the final alleged result of > than 3 degrees warming. Well we can now fill in the first 100 data points of this sequence with real data.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2010/trend/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2010

    Now what does that say about the probability of “greatly exceeding” 3 degrees warming by 2100? Obviously it will be reduced.

    Alan, you should look at this post by Andrew Revkin and this analysis by Tamino to see the pitfalls of basing conclusions on short-term data.

  346. Rick Brown:

    James # 331 6 April 2009 at 5:44 PM

    I don’t see much disagreement between what you say and what I said above. I think it can generally be a good idea to reforest areas that were previously forest, including those that have been converted to agriculture, often marginally so. However, I do not think it would be desirable to establish forests on what are naturally non-forest vegetation – grasslands, prairies, shrub-steppe. These vegetation types are often in short supply, provide important habitat and often store substantial amounts of carbon. Even with a narrow focus on carbon, it’s essential to consider what some have called the “time value of carbon.” Carbon stored, or emissions avoided, now are more important than the same thing in the future. The certain emissions now from converting a grassland need to be balanced against the uncertain projected storage from planted trees.

    (As an aside, thank you for your suggested experiment for Glenn Morton in comment #300, which was as good an expression of the “rate of change” issue as I’ve seen.)

    John Mashey # 341 6 April 2009 at 6:33 PM

    Far be it from me to enter into debate about New England vegetation before the Mayflower, a topic on which I claim no expertise. I’ll note that I believe the science on it is not settled and that the narrative in the book you link to doesn’t appear to provide sufficiently quantified information to compare pre-Mayflower circumstances with those of the early 20th century. Earlier I feared that the discussion risked veering in this direction. I wonder whether focusing overly on one state or small section of the country runs the risk of getting into something similar to discussing weather rather than climate.

    Although I too grew up in New England, saw the evidence of previous pasture abandonment in some of the woods on our farm and have since seen trees reclaim the rest of it since we stopped farming in the 1950s, I have to rely on the published, peer-reviewed literature, such as:

    Houghton, R.A., and J.L. Hackler. 2000. Changes in terrestrial carbon storage in the United States. 1: The roles of agriculture and forestry. Global Ecology and Biogeography 9:125–144.

    Abstract:
    1 Changes in the areas of croplands and pastures, and rates of wood harvest in seven regions of the United States, including Alaska, were derived from historical statistics for the period 1700–1990. These rates of land-use change were used in a cohort model, together with equations defining the changes in live vegetation, slash, wood products and soil that follow a change in land use, to calculate the annual flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use.

    2 The calculated flux increased from less than 10 TgC/yr in 1700 to a maximum of about 400 TgC/yr around 1880 and then decreased to approximately zero by 1950. The total flux for the 290-year period was a release of 32.6 PgC. The area of forests and woodlands declined by 42% (160 x 106 ha), releasing 29 PgC, or 90% of the total flux. Cultivation of soils accounted for about 25% of the carbon loss. Between 1950 and 1990 the annual flux of carbon was approximately zero, although eastern forests were accumulating carbon.

    3 When the effects of fire and fire exclusion (reported in a companion paper) were added to this analysis of land-use change, the uptake of carbon calculated for forests was similar in magnitude to the uptake measured in forest inventories, suggesting that past harvests* account for a significant fraction of the observed carbon sink in forests. * [RB: this might be more clearly stated as recovery from past harvests -- see quote from p. 139, below]

    4 Changes in the management of croplands between 1965 and 1990 may have led to an additional accumulation of carbon, not included in the 32.6 PgC release, but even with this additional non-forest sink, the calculated accumulation of carbon in the United States was an order of magnitude smaller than the North American carbon sink inferred recently from atmospheric data and models.

    Notes:

    p. 135 “Since 1950 the net flux has been close to zero, varying between ± 50 TgC/yr. Emissions of carbon from harvest of fuelwood peaked at about 60 TgC/yr around 1870. The reduced use of fuelwood was responsible for the largest continued sink for carbon in regrowing forests. Emissions of carbon associated with the harvest of industrial wood, including the storage of carbon in products and their oxidation, were generally small, but since 1960 these emissions have been the largest source of carbon to the atmosphere.”

    p. 139 “One of the primary reasons for calculating the land-use flux, despite its not being the total terrestrial flux, is that it enumerates one of the mechanisms responsible for a carbon sink; that is, the accumulation of carbon in forests recovering from past harvests or abandonment of agriculture.”

    I never would have imagined that I would ever post such a long comment, especially one off-topic . . . Sorry about that.

  347. Jim Bouldin:

    Rick (320):

    “I have no data at hand, but I think it likely that current forests in Vermont, and other areas reforested willy-nilly after abandonment of farms, store less carbon than they did prior to the initial deforestation.”

    Without question. Not just Vermont but virtually all cleared forests in North America. They haven’t had time to recover, and/or are under continuous entry for partial harvest. On the other hand, there are also substantial areas that now store more carbon due to things like fire suppression and horticultural plantings in irrigated drylands. For example, the South Platte river across eastern CO, (and presumably the main Platte across NE) had no tree corridor at settlement time, but now has a ~ 1/2 to 1 mile wide corridor of large cottonwoods for long distances. Some unlogged ponderosa pine forests now have double to triple their pre-settlement carbon levels. But such areas do not balance the tremendous losses due to clearing, particularly in the midwest.

    Rick’s understandably hesitant to promote his own work, but I’m free to say that it is an outstanding and comprehensive effort that ties together numerous relevant topics in forest mgt.

    MikeN: Exposing the forest floor, especially after crown fire, greatly increases litter and soil carbon decomposition rates due to greatly increased surface and subsurface T.

  348. Hank Roberts:

    Off topic? Oh, I think Philip made clear
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/advocacy-vs-science/langswitch_lang/fi#comment-118349

    that attention to trees is pertinent — we’re going to see lots of “advocacy science” claims about carbon sequestration putting money in one pocket or another, from everyone who has a tree or could plant one, or could cut one down and plant another and sell the lumber.

    Here’s a survey from China indicating that they have less carbon in soil and speculating that they could qualify for credits for sequestration in topsoil:
    http://www.cababstractsplus.org/abstracts/Abstract.aspx?AcNo=20053153660

  349. Craig Allen:

    Oh man! I’ve been doing my best engage with rational discussion with the clowns on that WUWT Lindzen thread, but it’s like trying to wrestle eels. Those people are utterly immune to rational discourse. They never ever answer a straight question.

    I must say though that I am very impressed with the rate at which Watts flings up articles. He does it at the rate of a regular news media Goliath.

  350. MikeN:

    >As I read your graph, you are predicting better than 50/50 odds than there will be a new record temp set in the next 2 years. Would you be interested in a wager on this?

    I see this in another RC post form May 2008. I think you are missing Alan Millar’s point. For example, are you as likely to take this bet now, as you were then?
    Wouldn’t the odds of a new record change with lower temperatures?

  351. James:

    Rick Brown Says (6 April 2009 at 8:04 PM):

    “I do not think it would be desirable to establish forests on what are naturally non-forest vegetation – grasslands, prairies, shrub-steppe. These vegetation types are often in short supply, provide important habitat and often store substantial amounts of carbon.”

    I agree in principle, that’s why I prefer “re-vegetation” rather than “reforestation”. Indeed (though I’m by no means an expert in the subject), I think transitioning human-created deserts back to grasslands is the key step in the process. The sod, besides storing a lot of carbon in its mass of roots and tubers, also stores water & moderates the effect of drought. Break that system, by plowing or overgrazing, and you go through a “tipping point”. The soil dries out and can’t easily go back to being a grassland. Restore that grassland, though, and parts of it – river bottoms & sheltered slopes – would probably evolve to forest.

    Further on the question of carbon storage in soils, it might be useful to consider the upper midwest forests, which according to accounts I’ve read had a layer of organic material many feet deep overlaying the mineral soil. That pretty much all burned off due to logging around the end of the 19th century. Search on “Peshtigo fire” for accounts of the sort of forest fires that did this.

  352. Timothy Chase:

    Alan Millar wrote in 342:

    I am amazed that anyone, with any good grasp of Mankinds current knowledge of climatic factors, as you seem to have, could think that the science is basically settled.

    It appears that mine and yours definitions of scientific certainty are poles apart. I see huge gaps in our knowledge eg are clouds a net positive or negative factor and you don’t apparently.

    I hope you don’t mind if I omit any analysis of your argument based upon short-term trends. As I see it others have dealt with that issue quite sufficiently.

    In any case, I believe that the basics of climatology are basically settled — but obviously there are alot of questions which are still the subject of study. Yes, clouds are one of these areas — although they are a bit more “settled” than the last IPCC summary would suggest — as science has moved forward since then. Clouds are likely to be a slightly negative feedback — with the warming cloud-based greenhouse effect (the reason why cloudy nights tend to remain warmer than clear nights) nearly canceling out the cooling albedo effect of clouds during that is limited to the daytime. Aerosols are a larger source of uncertainty — given their varied nature, distributions, and the difficulty of separating them from their backgrounds in satellite imaging.
    *
    However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that climate sensitivity is as uncertain as the most uncertain forcing. First of all, uncertainties tend to cancel out. You can see this in the sum of your coin tosses where the more coins you toss the closer the ratio of tosses that ended up heads will likely settle towards a given value.

    Likewise, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the only way we have of knowing climate sensitivity is the result of our knowledge of the individual feedbacks to a given forcing. There are analyses based on the albedo effects of stratospheric aerosols for example which have been used to constrain climate sensitivity. There are analyses based upon the modern temperature record. And there are analyses based upon the paleoclimate record. And then there are meta-analyses which employ statistical methods to combine the results of several largely independent studies to further constrain the value of climate sensitivity.
    *
    A good place to begin to look into this sort of thing is the following:

    Thursday, March 02, 2006
    Climate sensitivity is 3°C
    by James Annan
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-is-3c.html

    It introduces you to a paper from 2006 that used just this sort of approach with volcanoes, the modern temperature record and paleoclimate studies to try and constrain the range of uncertainty for climate sensitivity.

    Please see:

    In this paper, we show how it is possible to greatly reduce this uncertainty by using Bayes’ Theorem to combine several independent lines of evidence. Based on some conservative assumptions regarding the value of independent estimates, we conclude that climate sensitivity is very unlikely (< 5% probability) to exceed 4.5 °C.

    Annan, J. D., and J. C. Hargreaves (2006), Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L06704, doi:10.1029/2005GL025259
    Draft Copy: http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf

    Here the authors go into the types of studies that were combined:

    In the following section, we briefly introduce the methods used. We then survey some recent attempts to estimate climate sensitivity using several different approaches: the global temperature trend over the last century; short-term cooling following volcanic eruptions; the climate at the Last Glacial Maximum; modern climatological patterns; and the global temperature change in the Maunder Minimum. These estimates are based on independent observations and widely varying physical phenomena: the heat balance of a warming planet; the feedbacks involved in short-term radiative perturbations; and quasi-equilibrium climate states under different boundary conditions. In order to generate a robust estimate, we attempt to err on the side of increased uncertainty when forming our constraints (which contain a necessarily subjective element), but not to such an extent as to completely devalue the information that the data provide. Finally, we demonstrate how the evidence can be combined to generate an estimate which is considerably more confident than any one line of argument alone can provide, and demonstrate the robustness of our result.

    ibid.

    *
    More recently (2007) there was a meta-study based upon the last 420 million years of paleoclimate data.

    Please see:

    Here we estimate long-term equilibrium climate sensitivity by modelling carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 420 million years and comparing our calculations with a proxy record. Our estimates are broadly consistent with estimates based on short-term climate records, and indicate that a weak radiative forcing by carbon dioxide is highly unlikely on multi-million-year timescales. We conclude that a climate sensitivity greater than 1.5- 6°C has probably been a robust feature of the Earth’s climate system over the past 420 million years, regardless of temporal scaling.

    Royer DL, Berner RA, Park J. 2007.
    Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years.
    Nature, 446: 530-532.

    It combined the results of 47 different studies with five independent methods:

    The proxy record (dashed white line) was compiled from 47 published studies using five independent methods (n=490 data points). All curves are displayed in 10 Myr time-steps.

    ibid.

    The best-fit value was 2.8°C

    The best fit between the standard version of the model and proxies occurs for ΔT(2X)=2.8 °C (blue curve in Fig. 2a), which parallels the most probable values suggested by climate models (2.3-3.0 °C) (Fig. 2b).

    ibid.

    *
    Interestingly, recent climate models (which are based upon attempts to model the climate system based upon the principles of physics) tend to settle on a value of approximately 3°C — similar to the 2007 study. However, it has also been argued from a more theoretical perspective that it is much more difficult to put a constraint upon the upper limit for climate sensitivity. I could look that up for you as well. But the soundness of that study is a matter for some debate.
    *
    But all of these studies are largely focusing on what is called the Charney climate sensitivity, an equilibrium climate sensitivity based upon short-term feedbacks. There is also a long-term feedback climate sensitivity which seeks to incorporate feedbacks due to ice sheets and the carbon cycle, e.g., the saturation of carbon sinks, some of which are already becoming carbon emitters (sources), resulting in positive feedback. For example, the warming of permafrost resulting in the emission of methane in the Arctic tundra, the saturation of some parts of the ocean, the response of plants to especially warm years and drought. And then there is the question of just how long-term the long-term feedbacks are — as some of them appear to be kicking in more quickly than we anticipated.

    Jim Hansen estimates that the long-term feedback climate sensitivity is double the Charney. However this too is a matter for some debate, particularly in terms of his analysis of ice sheets — which some believe are less vulnerable to higher temperatures than what he bases his analysis upon.

    Yes, there are many questions in climatology that aren’t settled, but I have indicated, the uncertainties which exist really aren’t the sort of things from which one should draw comfort. In any case, I hope this helps.

  353. Chris S:

    Re: Reforestation & Carbon.

    The Geescroft & Broadbalk Wilderness experiments have been ongoing at Rothamsted Research for ~120 years. There is a pertinent paper on the subject here: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118895858/abstract

    P. R. POULTON , E. PYE , P. R. HARGREAVES and D. S. JENKINSON
    Accumulation of carbon and nitrogen by old arable land reverting to woodland
    Global Change Biology 9 (6)

    Abstract:
    The accumulation of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) was measured on two sites on Rothamsted Farm that had been fenced off some 120 years ago and allowed to revert naturally to woodland. The sites had previously been arable for centuries. One had been chalked and was still calcareous; the other had never been chalked and the pH fell from 7.1 in 1883 to 4.4 in 1999. The acidic site (Geescroft wilderness) is now a deciduous wood, dominated by oak (Quercus robor); the calcareous site (Broadbalk wilderness) is now dominated by ash (Fraxinus excelsior), with sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and hawthorn (Craetagus monogyna) as major contributors. The acidic site gained 2.00 t C ha−1 yr−1 over the 118-year period (0.38 t in litter and soil to a depth of 69 cm, plus an estimated 1.62 t in trees and their roots); the corresponding gains of N were 22.2 kg N ha−1 year−1 (15.2 kg in the soil, plus 6.9 kg in trees and their roots). The calcareous site gained 3.39 t C ha−1 year−1 over the 120-year period (0.54 t in the soil, plus an estimated 2.85 t in trees and roots); for N the gains were 49.6 kg ha−1 yr−1 (36.8 kg in the soil, plus 12.8 kg in trees and roots). Trees have not been allowed to grow on an adjacent part of the calcareous site. There is now a little more C and N in the soil from this part than in the corresponding soil under woodland. We argue from our results that N was the primary factor limiting plant growth and hence accumulation of C during the early stages of regeneration in these woodlands. As soil organic N accumulates and the sites move towards N saturation, other factors become limiting. Per unit area of woodland, narrow strips; that is, wide hedges with trees, are the most efficient way of sequestering C – provided that they are not short of N.

  354. wmanny:

    Back to the original topic, Advocacy versus Science, another way to phrase it is to ask how much confirmation bias permeates climate science these days. The lay view is pretty clear – it doesn’t take long in conversation to determine that most folks on either side of the debate, to the extent they are even interested, believe what they believe based on loyalty to some cause or political belief or other. That or a splashy headline about polar bears dying or the IPCC being a bunch of politicos.

    Among folks who do care to do some reading, I note an inclination to rush off to the nearest study that backs up the desired point of view and a knee-jerk urge to disparage the studies that don’t confirm one’s bias. AGW proponents will chide skeptics for the scarcity of evidence and peer review, regardless of the content, and skeptics will claim that the AGWers are more or less in cahoots, confirming rather than challenging each other’s work. In the climate blogs, the sneering, sarcastic and patronizing tones directed at opposing views is the self-evident rule of engagement.

    Somewhere out there are the scientists who so genuinely fear the consequences of rapid climate change that they sell their damn cars, or who are so genuinely skeptical and fearful of the economic consequences of overreaction that they – well, what would they do? In any event, what would be interesting to hear, if they exist, are stories about climate scientists who set out to find A and found B instead, scientists who “revised their thinking”, as the topic heading put it.

  355. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS says galactic cosmic rays haven’t gone up, and FurryCatHerder says, “Uh, you might want to discuss that with NASA.”

    No comment necessary.

    [Response: Appreciated.... But it is always good to remember that NASA is a huge organisation made up of very disparate elements. It does not speak with one voice and generally doesn't give a 'NASA view' on any scientific subject (as opposed to on policy issues). Scientific statements by NASA employees are representative of their own ideas only, so it's not out of bounds to suggest that other NASA scientists might disagree with statements I make (or vice versa). However, in this case, FCH is just wrong as any glance at the data would demonstrate. - gavin]

  356. Mark:

    “another way to phrase it is to ask how much confirmation bias permeates climate science these days”

    How about against AGW? Plenty of bias there.

    How many mathematicians know the proof of 1+1=2? Very very few (probably equal to the number of fingers on each foot…). So mathematicians “take it on faith”.

    Does that mean maths is completely wrong?

  357. Ray Ladbury:

    Warning: On-topic post

    Walter Manny, While I agree that among laymen, there is a tendency to decide on an emotional basis and then look for rational support, that is precisely why we don’t take lay opinion into account in determining the scientific consensus. What matters really are the folks who are actively publishing in the field, since they are the most likely to know which approaches yield fruit and which are barren. What is more, you certainly have to admit that when a layman favoring the consensus view goes off in search of a study in support of his view, he’s got a whole helluva lot more to choose from and a lot better quality than does a dissenter.

    The problem is that the best science has to the the starting point for policy discussions. If some folks don’t like the state of the science, but offer no constructive suggestions for how to improve it, it’s a little hard to take their objections into account. And those who oppose the best science based on ideology merely ensure that their ideology is not represented when policy is not formulated.

    This is not a choice between a neutral policy and radical change. It is rather a choice of whether we will base policy on science or ignore science in its formulation.

  358. Ray Ladbury:

    FCH,
    There a lot of different components to the space radiation environment. Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) are merely the most energetic. They are also among the lowest flux. GCR flux during solar minimum (maximum GCR flux) is aroung 6 particles per square cm per second. That is a tiny flux, and it is difficult to come up with a mechanism whereby it would translate into a global effect. What is more, the usual mechanism posited has to do with clouds–but GCR fluxes are pretty much isotropic and have no systematic time dependence, so the question is how do you preferentially get clouds in the day time when they would cool Earth and not in the night, when they would have a warming effect?

    And even if you could come up with a mechanism, there is no evidence for any systematic change in GCR fluxes. Not only do the neutron data show zip, I can also look at bit flips in memory arrays on satellites and see that mean rates haven’t changed in about 30 years. This dead horse has been flogged to mince.

  359. John Philip:

    Craig Allen – I must say though that I am very impressed with the rate at which Watts flings up articles. He does it at the rate of a regular news media Goliath.

    Craig – All part of the noise machine, and speaks to the shallowness of the argument. I have not bothered posting since Mr Watts smeared me then made a false accusation of dishonesty. The modus operandi resembles the Gish Gallop; aided and abbetted by guest posts from the likes of icecap, David Archibald et al, a lead article is posted with a eyecatching and most likely dishonest headline, eg ‘Most of the Atlantic warming is due to dust’ was the headline to an article on a paper that looked at the Tropical North Atlantic only. Then there’s the good old Straw Man e.g. Most climate researchers today deal exclusively with man-made ‘greenhouse’ gases, and often dismiss suggestions of naturally caused warming as unscientific. . Or Steve Goddard might drop by to assert that there is no cause for concern about corals as they evolved during the Ordovician era, when CO2 levels were 20 times higher (all corals extant in the Ordovician are now extinct). Rarely is an update or correction to misinformation posted and when it happens it is generally buried in the comments. By then the damage has been done, the ‘amen’ crowd has been pleased and the agenda been moved on by a shiny new lead article.

    Its slick, and recently I thought I noticed a trend towards some real science, but it didn’t persist and the old themes of cold weather reports, ‘Al Gore lives in a big house’ and ‘NASA should fire James Hansen now’ re-emerged. That is, there’s a whole lot of advocacy and precious little good science on the science blog of the year. You may want to consider if posting there is a productive use of your time. Has Prof Lindzen contributed an explanation of why he used the uncorrected ERBE/ERBS data yet, btw?

    PS An informal ‘climate audit’.

    hot
    cold

    Someone should investigate this surprising ratio immediately!

  360. wmanny:

    359. “Has Prof Lindzen contributed an explanation of why he used the uncorrected ERBE/ERBS data yet, btw?”

    As far as I can tell, Watts’ attempt to get clarification failed, and he cited a recent lecture at Colgate:

    “Recently, Wong et al (Wong, Wielicki et al, 2006, Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data, J. Clim., 19, 4028-4040) have reassessed their data to reduce the magnitude of the anomaly, but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments. For example, a more recent examination of the same datasets explicitly confirms the iris relations at least for intraseasonal time scales (Spencer, R.W., W.D. Braswell, J.R. Christy and J. Hnilo, 2007, Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with the tropical intraseasonal oscillations, Geophys. Res. Ltrs.)”

    The thread appears to be ended.

  361. wmanny:

    Ray, thanks for straying on topic.

    to: “that is precisely why we don’t take lay opinion into account in determining the scientific consensus”

    And a good thing, too! We do, however, take lay opinion into big-time account when determining policy. I do not mean by that to imply Holdren should not advise Obama, just that lay opinion certainly informs public opinion, and thereby politicians, in a big way.

  362. Mark:

    “but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments.”

    There’s always a reason. But is it valid? Apparently not, if he can still see “substiantial negative feedback”. And he’s not put his equations on the table about what he still sees.

    “For example, a more recent examination of the same datasets explicitly confirms the iris relations at least for intraseasonal time scales”

    intraseasonal time scales aren’t climatology timescales. And he still has nothing that shows such lensing is enough to explain a significant part of the warming.

  363. Ray Ladbury:

    Re: 360. Hmm. Citing Spencer’s analysis doesn’t really carry much weight. Certainly, it is not an argument for continuing to use the uncorrected data. And moreover, using uncorrected data without any reference to the corrected set for a lay audience verges on misconduct.
    The whole episode is bizarre and has me wondering whether Lindzen might not have some philosophical predilection that biases him in favor of negative feedback. More and more, his arguments sound almost as if they are based on some sort of strong anthropic principle.

    In your previous post, you alluded to confirmation bias. Have you really thought out what this would imply? Normally, a confirmation bias would be found where a small and narrowly focused group have a direct stake in confirming (or rejecting) a particular hypothesis. Climate science is, however, one of the broadest interdisciplinary subjects in all of science. It involves contributions from fields ranging from biology to astronomy! What is more, the basic framework of the theory of Earth’s climate is a century old. No one alive today is going to get anywhere near as much fame or glory for confirming this theory as they would for overturning it. You might claim that overturning the theory would cause embarrassment to researchers who have expressing concern about climate change, but if that were to happen, would you want to be on the side that discovered the error or the ones taken by surprise by it?

    What is more, climate science has been assessed independently by everyone ranging from the National Academies to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists without one organization voicing significant dissent from the consensus. Would you contend that all of these organizations have some significant stake in the consensus?

    Frankly, I simply do not see how anybody who has looked into the issue can make accusations of confirmation bias with a straight face.

  364. Jim Bouldin:

    “In any event, what would be interesting to hear, if they exist, are stories about climate scientists who set out to find A and found B instead, scientists who “revised their thinking”, as the topic heading put it.”

    Not sure what you mean there because scientists don’t set out to “find” any particular result. They set out to establish or test concepts based on data and/or theory; let the chips fall where they may. We are constantly having our thinking revised in many small, and sometimes large, ways. It’s the nature of the beast.

  365. Hank Roberts:

    Here’s the AGU session on disturbance and carbon sinks:
    http://www.agu.org/cgi-bin/SFgate/SFgate?&listenv=table&multiple=1&range=1&directget=1&application=fm08&database=%2Fdata%2Fepubs%2Fwais%2Findexes%2Ffm08%2Ffm08&maxhits=200&=%22B33E%22

    –Monitoring and Assessing the Impacts of Disturbance on the Terrestrial Carbon Budget II
    –An overview of the role of disturbance in the terrestrial carbon budget
    –Woody Detritus Controls Forest Carbon Budgets: The Disturbance Connection
    – Quantifying the Impacts of Disturbance on the Canadian Managed Forest Carbon Budget

    And five more papers in that set.

    Just to illustrate that answers are out there; simple answers from people on blogs are only pointers toward the research. That’s where to go for the science.

  366. wmanny:

    Jim,

    ‘Not sure what you mean there because scientists don’t set out to “find” any particular result.’

    That is an ideal, don’t you think, and not a reality? We’re probably splitting semantic hairs here, but what I am speaking of are climate scientists who find themselves advocating in one direction or the other only to have unexpected data or analysis push them in the opposite direction — as you put it, “large ways”. I don’t come across those stories, and I assume I am not looking in the right place(s) for them. The absence of those stories would suggest (not prove!) the confirmation bias I am talking about. Yes, it could also suggest that scientists on one side are dead right and the other side dead wrong, but that would seem unlikely.

  367. wmanny:

    Ray,

    I overlooked your post at first, just caught it.

    I agree that Lindzen’s failure to follow up in detail is disappointing to say the least. Perhaps he has tried to make his case elsewhere, but who knows. To your comment, then, that:

    “Frankly, I simply do not see how anybody who has looked into the issue can make accusations of confirmation bias with a straight face.”

    Well, I read what I wrote in front of the mirror, and damn if I didn’t keep a straight face! Kidding aside, I assume you mean that there is confirmation bias in the minority view, but not in the majority? It raises an impossible philosophical question, of course, which is that if one suffers from confirmation bias, is it possible for one to notice it?

  368. kevin:

    That is not an “impossible philosophical question” at all, wmanny. (i.e. “if one suffers from confirmation bias, is it possible for one to notice it?”) It is common practice in psychotherapy for the therapist to draw the client’s attention to examples of various kinds of bias (confirmation bias included) when episodes are described or the bias manifests itself within a session. A sufficiently motivated client learns to do this for him/herself, and thereby cleans up his/her thinking. I have seen many, many people become aware of their own biases, and then reduce them, compensate for them, or (apparently) eliminate them. The process does not require a psychotherapist or anyone else at all, though it is easier with help from someone who can be somewhat of an objective outsider. But all that’s really needed is mindfulness. You have to examine your reactions, examine the underlying beliefs that are implied by them. In the case of a confirmation bias, you start by being open to the possibility that you might have a confirmation bias, then you actively look for counterexamples to what you believe.

    It should be noted that these sorts of mechanisms are built into the scientific method. They may at times be imperfectly applied, but their presence there is why science is such a good epistemological tool.

  369. Hank Roberts:

    > scientists who “revised their thinking”
    Those who don’t, aren’t. Plenty of examples. One:
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~davidc/ATMS211/Lecture8-slides-PDF.pdf

  370. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    wmanny

    My apologies for generalizing your confirmation bias arguments but maybe this will help you? I can be out of context on this because I did not read every post but wanted to try to make something more clear.

    Try not to get caught up in the confirmation bias argument, it is tired and old. The data, the clear trends of signal above noise, the measurements (although never perfect) show the trend. We have left the natural path.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-variability

    We are clearly off the natural path, so any imperfections in the measurements and even any confirmation bias are inconsequential in this context.

    In other words, the majority of errors are not even significant enough to alter the aggregate understanding of warming on a new path.

    Confirmation bias means nothing in this context, it is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the models or not, the measurements of the signal above the noise are strong enough to show that we are on an entirely new, human caused path of warming.

    Sometimes you just have to look at the whole picture of the science and be reasonable.

  371. Hank Roberts:

    Another example of how actual field work changes scientists’ thinking:

    “… selective logging results in 25 percent more greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere than previously thought.

    “This was totally surprising to us and alarming to our colleagues, especially those interested in conservation, climate change and the ability of governments like Brazil to enforce environmental laws,” says assistant professor Gregory Asner, lead author on the study, which was published today in the journal Science. …. for every tree removed, 30 more will become severely damaged.That’s because selective logging is inherently destructive, the team says. When a tree is cut down, vines growing between it and other trees will pull down neighbors. The space that opens up becomes dry and susceptible to burning. Additionally, tractors and skidders used to remove the hardwoods destroy the forest floor and promote additional logging.

    What’s more, felled trees, the decomposing debris left behind on the forest floor and the large amounts of sawdust produced at sawmills release carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere. Traditional deforestation unleashes 400 million tons of carbon every year, and Asner and his colleagues estimate selective logging produces an additional 100 million tons. …”

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=selective-logging-fails-t

    That’s one of a series of ten experiments:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=10-climate-experiments

  372. Mark:

    “if one suffers from confirmation bias, is it possible for one to notice it?”

    Yes. Put it up for peer review.

    Others will not have the same bias.

    This is why the denialist papers need more skepticism and those writing denialist papers need to listen to criticism rather than blame it on an international conspiracy.

    And even more, they need to publish in a genuinely peer reviewed journal. Not a think-tank organised book.

  373. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter, I don’t contend that there is confirmation bias in the dissenting view because there’s nothing to confirm. Most in the camp do not publish, and those few that do are rarely cited because they don’t advance the state of understanding. The dissenters are not biased; they are moribund.

    When you say, “Yes, it could also suggest that scientists on one side are dead right and the other side dead wrong, but that would seem unlikely,” you are missing the point. The “other side” in this case has no theory. They have no evidence. They have only the same, recycled talking points they’ve been bringing up for a decade. They aren’t doing science.

  374. James:

    wmanny: Suppose for the sake of argument that climate scientists are in fact subject to the sort of confirmation bias you propose, and that they’ve in fact invented the whole AGW scenario in order to increase their chances of getting grants. Where does that leave the rest of us?

    There are, after all, a good many scientifically literate people who are not climate scientists. Some are scientists working in other fields, some are engineers or just people with an interest. We’ve no prospect of profit from AGW being true, and the usual inconvenience-to-our-lifestyle and how-come-climate-scientists-get-all-the-grants reasons for wishing it wasn’t. If the climate scientists are in fact faking it, why can’t some of us discover how, or come up with a counter-theory that withstands even cursory examination?

  375. wmanny:

    372. Ray, thanks, and you have summed things up nicely. I find your position re. dissent overly simplistic and dismissive, but I respect the possibility that you are correct in your views. -Walter

  376. Hank Roberts:

    In news about newspaper coverage, this:
    “MAKING GEORGE WILL LOOK WORSE…. The Washington Post had a good item today ….”
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_04/017645.php

    pointing to and quoting
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/06/AR2009040601634.html

    and pointing to and quoting
    http://www.grist.org/article/2009-04-07-post-reporter-calls-out-will/

    and commenting “… It’s safe to assume Will is furious to be exposed this way, but more to the point, it seems the Post is well aware that one of its highest-profile voices has published several columns with demonstrably false claims. …”
    _______________________
    ReCaptcha surely picked these words at random:
    “fund-raising Shady”

  377. Craig Allen:

    Clearly we’re all subject to confirmation bias no matter how good our scientific training and experience. You are more likely to question a finding that contradicts your understanding, than you are to question a finding that supports it.

    But in science, the ultimate antidote to this is reality. As the data rolls in, sooner or later you have to face facts no matter how much they conflict with the way you thought things were. And every good scientist tries their very best to not succumb to bias, because they know that to do so makes you a bad scientist, causes you to waste time and leads you away from important findings. And besides it’s exciting to find out that you are wrong. Every time that happens, you have learned something new!

    While we are talking about bias, I must say that I am utterly amazed by the degree of delusion on Watts blog. I see him and many of his posters regularly posting data to support their arguments that directly contradicts and undermines what they are saying. I wonder if some people are actually doing it to undermine Watts. Then again he doesn’t need any help. Have a look at the plots and maps he has just posted (7th April 09) in order to scoff at the idea that Arctic sea ice is trending down. Wierd!

  378. John Philip:

    The Arctic ice post is actually a guest post from Steve Goddard, who used to contibute to ‘The Register’ – a UK science/tech/IT News website, which has adopted a similar anti-science stance.

    But at least The Register printed a correction from the expert when Mr Goddard got Arctic ice spectacularly wrong.

    Recaptcha: Revision Love

  379. Mark:

    “While we are talking about bias, I must say that I am utterly amazed by the degree of delusion on Watts blog. I see him and many of his posters regularly posting data to support their arguments that directly contradicts and undermines what they are saying.”

    They aren’t talking to people who will look at the data skeptically. They’re preaching to the believers (remember: a common psychological problem is “projection”, where you project your problems on someone else and accuse them of it). They will look at the text that says “AGW is false, here is proof”, see that there are numbers, graphs and equations following and, even if nominally honest, think “well, they wouldn’t put that up if it WASN’T proof, would they?” and accept it as proof without checking to see if it is.

    They are telling the credulous they have proof, so why bother checking to see if it is saying what they want? Nobody on the site is going to look at it. And any other site that does so and criticises it are in the Pay of Big Government and the Eco Nazi Conglomerate. And their bias is so strong, that anything they say is wrong (unless it reads like it could mean AGW is wrong, in which case, they’ll yank that and crow about it till the end of time).

  380. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter Manny, if you think I am being too dismissive of the dissenters, perhaps you could link to an peer-reviewed article that you find particularly cogent.

    Certainly, if you go by citations to work, the dissenting scientists have nothing to brag about:

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table.html

  381. wmanny:

    Ray, I will continue to do my reading as broadly and deeply as time allows — this study is an avocation for me and what I believe is not important. What would be far more illuminating, on this topic at any rate, is for YOU to seek out the contrarian nuggets that you think have any value. If you have no interest in doing so, or if you have determined that the skeptics truly have nothing to offer — they are not doing science, as you say — then fair enough. Why seek evidence that you are sure does not exist? And why have me of all people do it for you — I’m not the NASA phyicist here. I am perfectly content to think your dismissal of the skeptics too dismissive, content in the knowledge that I could easily be wrong about that, and to continue reading. I don’t share your view yet because you are not the only person who has a view.

    I have more or less asked the question: Which climate scientists have changed their minds? I find the non-response to it as interesting as the stories I was seeking to hear might have been.

  382. walter crain:

    ray! that’s quite a looong list of climate authors. i counted A LOT of “jameses” on there… i bet they would “sign something” if somebody important asked them to…

  383. SecularAnimist:

    This seems to have some relevance to advocacy & science:

    EU: Earth Warming Faster
    April 8, 2009
    Reuters

    Excerpt:

    Global warming is likely to overshoot a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) rise seen by the European Union and many developing nations as a trigger for “dangerous” change, a Reuters poll of scientists showed on Tuesday.

    Nine of 11 experts, who were among authors of the final summary by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 (IPCC), also said the evidence that mankind was to blame for climate change had grown stronger in the past two years.

    [...]

    Ten of 11 experts said it was at best “unlikely” — or less than a one-third chance — that the world would manage to limit warming to a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) rise above pre-industrial levels.

    “Scientifically it can be done. But it’s unlikely given the level of political will,” said Salemeel Huq at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.

    And David Karoly, of the University of Melbourne, said the world was “very unlikely” to reach the goal.

    I’m not sure that climate scientists are, in fact, any more “expert” in their assessments of “level of political will” than anyone else. But at least those surveyed here seem to have a pretty discouraging view of the likelihood that humanity will take the necessary actions. And perhaps with good reason, as the article quotes David Karoly: “The concentration of long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already enough to cause warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, and we are continuing to emit more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

  384. Hank Roberts:

    Yet another example of results surprising the researcher — this is not at all hard to find if you bother to look:

    ____________excerpt________
    The results of the study startled even its authors. “I knew that the gravitational effect on meltwater would be important, but I was very surprised the contributions from the other two effects were just as large,” says Mitrovica.
    ———–end————–

    http://scienceline.org/2009/04/06/environment-bond-sea-level-rise-north-america/

    Oh, wait, that’s the point about confirmation bias — you have to be willing to look beyond what you assume to find evidence like this.

  385. Nick Gotts:

    “I have more or less asked the question: Which climate scientists have changed their minds? I find the non-response to it as interesting as the stories I was seeking to hear might have been.” – wmanny

    Actually, you have been given a number of examples. I guess what you really mean is “Which climate scientists, having once thought AGW was real and important, have since decided it isn’t – or vice versa.” Here, since there has been an overwhelming preponderance of evidence for the first position for at least the last decade, you won’t find many recent examples – any more than you will with regard to the causative role of tobacco smoking in lung cancer or of HIV in AIDS. In all three cases, those interested in and capable of rationally assessing the evidence did so some time ago.

  386. Hank Roberts:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/msnbc-taps-think-tanker-pat-michaels-expert-advice

  387. Mark:

    wmanny: “I have more or less asked the question: Which climate scientists have changed their minds? I find the non-response to it as interesting as the stories I was seeking to hear might have been.”

    Uh, “more-or-less asked the question” isn’t “asked the question” until you’ve ***asked the question*** why would someone answer the question you didn’t (only almost) asked?

    Maybe the there are hundreds who more-or-less answered your question.

    And you can see how the change in minds have happened: what used to be “you can’t tell if there’s been any warming” and “there has been no warming” has changed to “there has been warming but it’s not our fault” and “we’re now cooling again”.

    If they hadn’t changed their minds, why did they stop saying there was no warming shown and move to how there was warming, but it’s not a problem? You cant hold BOTH in your head without some serious psychological problems. So they must have changed their minds.

  388. chris:

    re #381 wmanny

    I have more or less asked the question: Which climate scientists have changed their minds? I find the non-response to it as interesting as the stories I was seeking to hear might have been.

    Your approach is silly isn’t it? First of all you raise “confirmation bias” which is the pursuit of a non-argument. The science stands or falls according to the evidence. If the interpretations are consistent with the evidence then the interpretations are scientifically valid. If these are supported by further real world observations (evidence) then our confidence in the interpretations is enhanced. That’s how science works.

    If you’ve got examples of instances where “confirmation bias” has scuppered straightforward understanding of significant elements of the science then show us. Otherwise raising “confirmation bias” with the implicit challenge to disprove this is just bluster.

    Likewise with your challenge to find climate scientists who have “changed their minds”. Perhaps there aren’t any climate scientists that have changed their mind. Why should they if the evidence supports their interpretations and continues to do so? And “change their minds” about what, exactly? It’s rather common to change our minds about issues on the periphery of scientific knowledge, but no knowledgeable scientist is going to change his/her mind about the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, or the role of Milankovitch cycles in glacial-interglacial transitions, and so on. There simply isn’t evidence that would support such a major reinterpretation.

    I can think of many examples of climate scientists changing their mind about peripheral elements of the subject. Two from Jim Hansen come to mind, for example: (i) Hansen has indicated in his papers over the years that the climate sensitivity to CO2 is of the order of 3-4 oC of warming per doubling of atmospheric CO2; more recently he’s presented evidence that the long term climate sensitivity involving major ice sheet contributions is closer to 6 oC. He’s clearly changed his mind somewhat on the subject of climate sensitivity…perhaps he’ll change it again in the light of new evidence.(ii) In his most recent papers on attribution of contributions to warming Hansen and colleagues have reduce their estimate for the contribution of black carbon to 20th century warming (by 1/2 to 1/3′d if I remember correctly). He (and his colleagues) have “changed their mind” about this aspect of warming attribution. Perhaps they’ll reassess this in the light of new evidence

    …and so on…that’s how science works. Interpretations based on evidence.

    Your two “arguments” are essentially lazy armchair contrariness:

    “I can’t be bothered to explore this myself so convince me that “confirmation bias” isn’t clouding our understanding”.

    “I can’t be bothered to look for examples myself, but if you don’t show me examples of climate scientists “changing their minds”, I’m going to insinuate this to indicate “confirmation bias”"….

    It’s science wmanny, and therefore it’s about the evidence

  389. wmanny:

    385. Nick, your: “Which climate scientists, having once thought AGW was real and important, have since decided it isn’t – or vice versa.” seems to me an incomplete but fair re-phrasing, and you have answered, in effect, “none”, and, by extension, that the science is settled. The majority is correct and comprises the real climate scientists. The minority is incorrect and they are not real climate scientists.

    I get it that that’s what readers here think. I also get it that there is no interest here in questioning that correct thinking, and that the problem is that the skeptics refuse to question their incorrect thinking.

    I conclude that the first paragraph of this topic heading, which refers to advocacy in a pejorative tone, is referring to skeptical advocacy only. Please correct me if you think I have that wrong. -Walter

  390. Hank Roberts:

    Oh, wmanny is only looking for, and so only able to see, change in one direction? Is that why the answers and examples I and others gave seem to have been invisible?

    I guess that proves something. But not about scientists.

  391. Hank Roberts:

    PS, a reminder from your friends at the WSJ:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/styleandsubstance/

    —excerpt follows—-
    March 31, 2009, Vol. 22, No. 3
    The tilt of the talking heads

    … we should limit our quoting of analysts and other “expert” talking heads and that, when we do quote them, we should try as hard as we can to suggest the ideological tilt of their organizations, as in left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, libertarian Cato Institute, etc….
    —-end excerpt—-

  392. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter Manny, That’s just it. I haven’t found ANY contrarian studies that have:
    1)cast significant doubt on CO2 sensitivity being around 3 degrees per doubling
    2)given convincing evidence for negative feedback sufficiently strong to circumvent significant warming
    3)significantly illuminated any phenomena about Earth’s climate that are not better understood in terms of the consensus modle.

    Now, since I don’t assume that the climate contrarians are dumb, I can only conclude from this that their rejection of CO2 as a significant forcer places them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to explaining Earth’s climate. To a scientist, that is a pretty damned good indicatio that they are wrong.

    Now if I don’t find anything the contrarians publish to be cogent and you can’t find any examples for me that are cogent, I don’t see how I can conclude that the dissenters have much to offer. Or am I missing something?

  393. A.C.:

    Hank – Let me try again. I went off half-cocked last time — #60 under “Wilkins ice shelf collapse” — and here’s what I should have said (hope these thoughts are closer to on-topic in this thread):

    This Gioacchino Giuliani claiming to predict earthquakes by measuring radon gas releases is an interesting case, and not only because we’ve seen that his prediction (correctly? absurdly?) seems to have struck close enough to reality to have given him a large measure of credibility in the eyes of the Italian public. When I looked up “Gioacchino Giuliani” in Google Scholar I found nothing that I could possibly use to make a determination about the legitimacy of his most recent claims; the results of the search string you suggested (in #69 in “Wilkins…”) would lead me to believe that Giuliani is not selling fool’s gold. But today I read (in a Reuters article) that “While many Italians are now more than ready to listen to whatever Giuliani has to say, geophysicists in Europe and the United States remain skeptical of his claims to have discovered an effective early-warning system.”

    This brings me to the other reason I think Giuliani is interesting: the way he is presented gives the impression that he is being rejected by both his peers and his government even though his best guess was (more or less) on target. This impression supports the presupposition that scientists who hold mainstream views make a habit of rejecting “outliers” even when the “outliers” forecasts seem to approximate reality (though only once, and then only within a week and 100 miles…).

    I’m sure you can see how anything that reinforces the claim that “outliers” can be more trusted than the mainstream of seismology might also support (in the public mind) those with dissenting views of climatology. I think the case of this Gioacchino Giuliani ought to be examined carefully, because there is little doubt that those interested in discrediting any (or every) science like nothing better than to use rogue scientists as their tool.

    ——
    Anyway, RC is the only blog I know of that is written by real live scientists who take the time to publicly dismantle the shoddy logic and sideways attacks that sometimes obfuscate the legitimacy of their work. Besides, as far as I know, there is no such thing as a RealSeismology blog. Is there?

    OK, time to count the ways everything I just wrote is completely wrong. :)

  394. Mark:

    “This Gioacchino Giuliani claiming to predict earthquakes by measuring radon gas releases is an interesting case, and not only because we’ve seen that his prediction (correctly? absurdly?) seems to have struck close enough to reality to have given him a large measure of credibility”

    Correlation does not imply causation.

    It’s something to indicate there may be a link, but you need to see what that link could be. THEN you can make a test that would show that specific idea was wrong.

  395. dhogaza:

    wmanny …

    I have more or less asked the question: Which climate scientists have changed their minds? I find the non-response to it as interesting as the stories I was seeking to hear might have been.

    The most famous case of a climate scientist being forced to change their mind is, in my opinion, John Christy, the senior scientist responsible for the UAH satellite temperature product.

    When they first produced this, the work was trumpeted as being “the wooden stake through the heart of AGW” (WSJ editorial) because Christy and his sidekick Roy Spencer claimed that the satellite data showed a cooling rather than warming trend, therefore proving that the ground temperature record which shows warming is inaccurate.

    However, as time went on, a string of errors by Christy and Spencer were uncovered.

    Christy was appointed to an NAS review committee (total of five scientists) during the first W administration. Their conclusion, signed by all five, was that:

    1. the ground temperature record is roughly as accurate as the satellite temperature record.

    2. both show warming.

    A major turnabout by Christy forced by the data, in this case the corrected satellite temperature data which Christy himself had earlier screwed up.

    This is the kind of thing you’re looking for, right?

    Or are you really only looking for climate scientists who changed their mind in the other direction, as others above have claimed?

    If so, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed, because – IMO! – the biggest boner in climate science history was the string of errors by the UAH team that had the denialsphere screaming “Triumph! Triumph! AGW is dead!” a decade ago.

  396. wmanny:

    392. Ray, I don’t think you are missing anything. As you have said, “They have no evidence. They have only the same, recycled talking points they’ve been bringing up for a decade. They aren’t doing science.” There is nothing I could say or do to counter such an extreme statement. You have defeated each and every skeptical scientist in your own mind, and I can only imagine how exasperated you must be with me and others who do not share in your certainty, who will not “learn”, as the term is used here, and I think we have reached the agree-to-disagree point. I will continue to pay attention to what you have to say, as well as those who – shudder – hold opposing views. -Walter

  397. wmanny:

    And, Ray, as long as I have you on the line, I note with interest that Holdren has apparently floated the aerosol geoengineering trial balloon. Hmm, now there’s a thread in the making…

  398. Nick Gotts:

    I conclude that the first paragraph of this topic heading, which refers to advocacy in a pejorative tone, is referring to skeptical advocacy only. Please correct me if you think I have that wrong. -Walter

    Yes, you have that wrong. See for example the thread:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/01/environmental-reporters-ought-to-be-more-responsible-too/

    The point is, as with the other examples I cited and which you ignore, when the evidence is on your side, advocacy in the sense used here is unnecessary – although some may still fall into it; when they are clearly against you, it’s all you have.

  399. sidd:

    I suggest that those scientists who disagree with the consensus IPCC view publish their results. Then their ideas will be examined; extended if valid and discarded if flawed. That’s how science works.

    Oratory in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, including this blog, will not advance the science.

    What has Dyson published on climate science in the last three decades ?

    As a once and sometime physicist, I am tempted to say: Shut up and calculate.

  400. chris:

    I get it that that’s what readers here think. I also get it that there is no interest here in questioning that correct thinking, and that the problem is that the skeptics refuse to question their incorrect thinking.

    wmanny, are you not neglecting the essential element of science…i.e. evidence? That doesn’t seem to be part of your consideration at all.

    Otherwise you need to define more clearly what you mean by the term “correct thinking”. Is “correct thinking”, the thinking that makes interpretations based on well-informed and honest consideration of the evidence? If so, then the large majority of the posters here are quite keen on promoting “correct thinking”. Or do you mean something else by the term “correct thinking”?

    I conclude that the first paragraph of this topic heading, which refers to advocacy in a pejorative tone, is referring to skeptical advocacy only. Please correct me if you think I have that wrong. -Walter

    I think you have that wrong. I don’t know exactly what Gavin had in mind, but I would certainly consider any persistent pushing for interpretations that are not supported by real world evidence to be “advocacy” in the perjorative sense, and especially so if these are obviously based on agendas that are non-scientific…

  401. Deech56:

    RE # wmanny 8 April 2009 at 16:46

    Ray, I don’t think you are missing anything. … There is nothing I could say or do to counter such an extreme statement.

    Walter, you could try to counter Ray’s statement by linking to some scientific papers that contradict the points that Ray mentioned. But you would also need to consider other papers that may come to different conclusions. The burden for you (and it’s a tough one) is to show why these studies are right and all of the other studies are wrong.

  402. Ray Ladbury:

    @ 394 and way off topic. The subject of earthquake prediction is a pretty fraught one. However, the radon connection is not a bad one. Uranium, the ultimate parent of the radon is lithophilic–it likes rock-forming elements like Si, K, Ca, etc., so a granite will be relatively high in U decay products. Ra will wind up collecting in fractures and fissures in the rock. As pressures change, you MIGHT expect some of the Ra to be squeezed out to the surface and be detected. It’s not going to work every time, but it could be an indicator. Other schemes use the piezoelectric nature of quartz, looking for changes in the electric fields at the surface. These, to have had some limited success, but a reliable earthquake prediction network is a long way off. It would be nice to have some method of predicting quakes other than monitoring seismic activity, as really big quakes often don’t have significant precursor activity.

  403. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter Manny, I’m not an evangelist. I’m not out to convert you. I would like to understand the basis of your belief, since it evidently is not evidence based. I would also like to know what it would take to convince you that climate change was real AND that it posed a significant threat. And if you really think, a priori, that the probability the scientific community is correct is zero, we know from Bayesian probability that we cannot convince you with any amount of evidence.

    Look, as a scientist, I have to go with the preponderance of the evidence. If another theory came along that explianed the evidence better, I’d happily switch. My experience as a physicist tells me, though, that when the a theory (in this case, of Earth’s climate) has this much support, it’s extremely unlikely to be drastically wrong.

  404. wmanny:

    Ray, never once have I suggested that climate change was not real — indeed the two words make up a tautology — nor that the probability of the scientific community being correct is zero. The probability is that the community is right. That a significant threat is posed is a tricky one, and it may come in the form of an upper range of predictions coming true. It also may come in the form of the predictions being oversold and attempts to mitigate bringing unintended consequences. I think you have noted elsewhere how painful it will be to attempt to overturn a longstanding carbon addiction. Should that pain fall where it usually does, history will be unkind.

    I understand that were I a scientist such as you, I would rely on the preponderance of evidence, I hope because I would have a deeper understanding of it. I do not possess that deep understanding, and the best I can do is go broad, reading the jargon-rich IPPC reports and other papers as best I can and comparing the reactions to them from more knowledgeable people such as yourself. You are a physicist who believes one thing. Dyson, as an example, comes out with a different point of view, as do Happer, Lindzen, Geigengack and a host of others, though a minority to be sure. I am not as inclined as you to dismiss these other views. In fact, when AGW “alarmists” go after them tooth and nail, my curiosity is hardly diminished.

    As to consensus, your experience and your reading of the history of science tells you that the consensus holds far more often than some might think, and if I remember correctly, you think the obvious counterexamples are overblown. Perhaps I am overly drawn to the notion that the majority scientific view has too often circled its evidentiary wagons, only to be overturned by the heretic in the end. When I read statements along the lines that we know increased and anthropogenic CO2 has caused the preponderance of warming in the same way we know a glass of water, when released, will hit the floor, it’s too reminiscent of statements such as: We know the Sun revolves around the Earth. You would argue that’s an unfair comparison — heck, so would I — but still I think it’s enough of a reminder to say it’s too early to say we know enough. That we desire the state of science to be such that we can act on it immediately is a desire that has been with us always. We want to make a difference in the world during our tiny life spans.

    In any event, I am heartened to hear that Holdren has hinted at a middle way that may some day allow us, along with alternate energy sources, Dyson’s carbon-eaters and anyone else’s dreamy solutions, to deal with the gloomiest IPPC projections, should they arise, in a way that may not be as painful to societies as the draconian solutions currently in vogue.

  405. Mark:

    “Perhaps I am overly drawn to the notion that the majority scientific view has too often circled its evidentiary wagons, only to be overturned by the heretic in the end.”

    too often?

    How often is “too often”? And surely you may as well say that “too often” you’ll wait three hours for the bus and then three turn up all at once. However, if that REALLY turned up as often as people make out, the commuter community would have collapsed decades ago, waiting for a bus.

    I say to you that the reason why you remember these times is because they are so rare.

    You’re arguing that because a few times before the evidence has shown something appropriate that it must be something else this time. One HUGE, MASSIVE, ***GARGANTUAN*** elephant in the room you’re missing out (likely deliberately) is that these heretics not only were once-in-a-lifetime events, but that they actually had some idea that worked better OVER THE EVIDENCE THEN AVAILABLE than the current science theory.

    Anti-AGW doesn’t have this. They have a multitude of half-assed ideas that don’t work anywhere near as well as the current AGW theory.

  406. MikeN:

    OT, but doesn’t the Sun revolve around Earth? It definitely moves in an elliptical orbit with the earth as one focus. Do Kepler’s other laws hold?

  407. Barton Paul Levenson:

    wmanny is right. Consider the so-called “consensus” on heliocentric astronomy. Can you point to any scientists who have changed their mind in going from geocentrism to heliocentrism in recent decades, or the other way around? The only one I know of is Gerard Bouw, and he went to geocentrism. The lack of scientists who have changed their mind on this issue is clear proof that the “consensus” on heliocentrism is a case of group-think, where the contributions by geocentrist astronomers are being summarily dismissed by those who are sure that they are right. Pure confirmation bias.

    CAPTCHA: painful membership

  408. chris:

    re #404 and your comments wmanny:

    You are a physicist who believes one thing. Dyson, as an example, comes out with a different point of view, as do Happer, Lindzen, Geigengack and a host of others, though a minority to be sure. I am not as inclined as you to dismiss these other views. In fact, when AGW “alarmists” go after them tooth and nail, my curiosity is hardly diminished.

    I know I keep saying this, but it’s not about “views”…it’s about the evidence. Scientists aren’t going after Lindzen, Giegengack etc “tooth and nail”. Those that are interested in the science are addressing the presentation of these scientists in relation to the evidence, and if their “views” are being questioned, this is being done in relation to the evidence. That’s the point of the particular story around which this thread is based.

    The real question in relation to the various “views” of the scientists you list is why some of their “views” seem to be constructed around a misrepresentation of the evidence.

    I’m curious to know what views of Dr. Giegengack you find particularly compelling. I’ve looked at a couple of his scientific papers; as far as I can see he’s published two papers that are vaguely relevant to climate – one on short term variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and one on sunspot cycles. Neither of these is controversial or in any way contrary in relation to general understanding of climate, greenhouse gases and so on.

    That’s his science. So which of his “views” do you find interesting? Can you cite a relevant paper/article? Or are you more interested in the fact that he holds opposing views, rather than his views per se or the evidence that he presents in support of these?

  409. CTG:

    It’s worth noting that there are essentially two types of advocates: professional advocates and zealots.

    The professional advocate may or may not believe in the cause they are advocating, but they have been engaged to advance the cause, so they do the best they can. The legal system of many western countries is based upon professional advocacy, and by and large it does a reasonable job, so it is hard to dismiss this form of advocacy out of hand. The only obligation of the professional advocate is to sow doubt about the arguments of their opponents.

    This would certainly describe the behaviour of many in the anti-AGW camp (whether or not they are actually paid by the anti-AGW interests). A good example would be the WUWT post mentioned in #8 – Watts did not explicitly say that the paper refuted CFCs as the cause of the ozone hole; he merely implied it. That was all he needed to do – the meme that GCRs cause the ozone hole instead of CFCs is now established, and can forever be quoted as evidence of the dishonesty of the scientific establishment, and therefore proof that AGW is false. Watts has manipulated the blogosphere exactly the way that a good defence lawyer manipulates a jury.

    The zealot, on the other hand, engages in advocacy because they desperately believe in the cause at hand. This type of advocate is even harder to deal with, because they are not interested in evidence of any variety. They have discovered The Truth, and will not rest until everyone else has accepted The Truth. I recently came across such a type on a comments page at The Register (which was my favourite website until they took the denialist kool-aid).

    The chap I was dealing with is *convinced* that CO2 does not react or emit any “signal” until it has been heated to 800ºC. It therefore can’t be responsible for the greenhouse effect because the atmosphere is too cold. I tried explaining that CO2 heats up because it absorbs IR radiation, and the absorption itself is the “signal”, but he simply will not listen. I asked how his model could possibly explain Tyndall’s 1859 experiment, and he replied by changing the subject to say that the Mauna Loa CO2 measurements must be caused by local volcanism, and that he himself has a CO2 time series in North London that shows atmospheric CO2 is only 310ppm!

    It is demoralising to try and deal with zealots, simply because they do not let things like logic get in the way of their arguments.

    You can see my exchange with the zealot here:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/03/climate_act_impact_magic/comments/

    I paraphrased SecularAnimist’s elegant summation of the facts at #140 in my argument – thanks for that. I hope I have got the physics more or less right – I’m only a biologist :-)

    reCaptcha: prove prayer (I rest my case)

  410. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter,
    First, economic pain in the near to midterm is inevitable. Peak Oil is upon us, and Peak Coal is 50–maybe 100 at the outside–years off. Our entire energy infrastructure will have to be retooled to meet future energy needs. This is a mathematical certainty. So the question is whether we bear some of that hardship and bequeath a sustainable infrastructure to our progeny or whether we punt the hardship down to our children and grandchildren. I would think that on moral considerations alone, we’d want to take on that task, but there are also good reasons to think that full resolution of these problems will be protracted, so an early start greatly increases the odds of success. This is quite independent of the additional constriant of climate considerations.

    It is certainly true that climate change raises the stakes of developing a sustainable economy. Since my metier is risk assessment and mitigation, I tend to view the problem through that lens. We have threats that have consequences (read $$), and each threat has a certain estimated probability of being realized. The resulting risk is the probability multiplied by the cost if the threat were realized. We are justified in committing resources up to the risk to mitigate the risk–either by diminishing the consequences or by reducing probability of occurrence. We aren’t doing that, and one thing I have learned is that the longer you wait to mitigate a risk the more it will cost you to do so.

    The mitigation should be carried out by the most cost-effective strategy. See, here is where I don’t understand your position. I don’t know how to build a carbon-eating tree. I don’t even know how to start, and near as I can tell, neither does Dyson. I also do not know whether the sorts of geo-engineering being discussed will be effective, since these strategies inevitably deal with the portions of the climate model where uncertainties are greatest and where unintended consequences are hardest to gauge. On the other hand, I know that if we reduce our carbon output, we will delay the time when we face serious consequences. That is based on the most certain part of the climate model. It would seem that you are advocating either a pipe dream or a highly uncertain strategy as a basis for mitigation while ignoring one that will assuredly work.

    Also, since we are talking about science here, I think it would be more appropriate to focus on the era since the development of the modern scientific method by Francis Bacon and Galileo. In any case, the prevalence of the geocentric cosmology had more to do with religion than natural philosophy. I would contend that the more relevant examples raised by anti-science folks (e.g. plate tectonics, H. Pylori as the cause of ulcers, etc.) actually represent successes of the scientific method. In all these cases, the explanation was resisted when evidence was weak and accepted readily once evidence became strong. That is what science is supposed to do–base decisions on evidence. That is indeed the case wrt climate change. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence favors the consensus model of Earth’s climate. By your own admission, there is no compelling evidence that there is anything seriously wrong with the model.

    So to me, it seems that the only question is whether we will base policy on the best science we have, or whether we will base it on…well, what exactly? Wishful thinking?

  411. SecularAnimist:

    wmanny wrote: “That a significant threat is posed is a tricky one, and it may come in the form of an upper range of predictions coming true.”

    The changes that we are already observing NOW — acidification of the oceans, melting of glaciers, large-scale droughts — are already a “significant threat”. The upper range of the IPCC predictions have already been exceeded.

    The biggest deficit that I observe in so-called skeptics is their lack of knowledge of what is already happening to the Earth as a result of anthropogenic global warming.

  412. wmanny:

    Ray, while I would not say that Peak Oil is upon us (talk about unsettled science!) I am as anxious to get out of the pool as you are, if for different reasons. Coal I don’t know about, though it used to be out at ~2150 a while back when Hubbert was doing his thing, right? In any event, we need to switch over as soon as possible, I agree. The moral aspect relative to “our” grandchildren is compelling, and so is the moral aspect of getting today’s children out of smoky huts and into modern dwelling, possibly powered by coal or oil in the short term.

    To cost-effective mitigation, well… yeah. I don’t know a lot of people (other than the Kennedys, ha-ha) who don’t want to see wind farms, wave farms, more efficient solar… the so-called wedges, though nuclear is problematic for some and not others. Biomass and even outside-the-box Dyson trees and the like are hopeful considerations. Even if I thought the CO2 threat was not oversold, though, surely by now the damage has been done, the supposed time-bomb triggered and that the best we can do in the short term is to slow the rate of growth in politically green-friendly countries. The Obama administration is showing signs that taxing the perceived problem away may not be the solution of the moment, and Holdren has had to keep the controversial aerosols on the table, just in case. I would say we need all available options until such time as the sustainables are ready to take over the grid.

    To, “By your own admission, there is no compelling evidence that there is anything seriously wrong with the model,” either you have misread me or I have misspoken. I do not believe that the models are anywhere near fully loaded, well understood, or proven predictors. You believe the evidence is strong, and you believe the models are robust. Others whose opinions I value do not share that view, and I’ll stop before we get back on that merry-go-round. In short, I do not think we should base policy on the best science we have if the science is not good enough.

  413. Chris Winter:

    There’s a problem with this new pop-up format for comments. If I make any sort of error (like forgetting to enter name and e-mail address) and request a preview, I get an error message with no way back; I’ve lost my message.

    If I get past that, but mistype the CAPTCHA words, I get a more forgiving message. BUT the comment window is now empty and if I hit “Post” I get the unrecoverable error again.

    [Response: hmmm... you avoid the pop-up comments if you click on the post title instead. Then you get the complete post and all comments. - gavin]

  414. James:

    sidd Says (8 April 2009 at 5:16 PM):

    “What has Dyson published on climate science in the last three decades?”

    Just for curiousity’s sake, Google scholar, type in “FJ Dyson” in the author field, 1980 and 2009 as the from & to dates, and hit search… Humm… Maybe I’m doing something wrong (Google is not MY friend :-( ), because it appears that you could almost leave out the “on climate science” qualifier in that question.

  415. Ray Ladbury:

    Walter Manny, I presumed that your failure to provide any strong evidence indicated you did not know of any. If you do know of some, then please provide it.

    As to the strength of the evidence favoring the consensus model, there is mainly its explanatory power for many features of Earth’s climate–from paleoclimate (glacial/interglacial cycle) to modern observations (response to perturbations, global features of modern climate, etc.). The models in the main get them right. There is no model with a climate sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling that even comes close. I don’t see how to interpret this as other than strong evidence that sensitivity is somewhere in the 90% confidence range.
    It is not simply a matter of “replacing” part of the CO2 forcing with another forcing. The forcing would have to have roughly the same characteristics as CO2–long-lived, persistent (=well mixed), and so on. Do you know of another forcing that is on the increase that meets these criteria?

    So, we have a forcing that can meet the description. We don’t have a good alternative. We have evidence that suggests such a forcing is required and no evidence contraindicating it. What do you suggest we should do?

  416. Hank Roberts:

    > Sun … Earth …

    “Because two bodies mutually revolve about their barycenter, Newton knew he had to modify Kepler’s third law to take this into account.”
    http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/~smyers/courses/astro11/L6.html

    See the other chapters if you need more on this. Way off topic here, eh?

  417. Mark:

    “Maybe I’m doing something wrong (Google is not MY friend :-( ), because it appears that you could almost leave out the “on climate science” qualifier in that question.”

    Not when Dyson is pontificating on climate work.

    Or do you retain a solicitor without checking they have a license to practice ***law*** and a mechanical engineering license is good enough?

  418. Mark:

    Heck, what is the evidence supporting the consensus heliocentric model?

    Looks to me like the sun goes around us.

    I can’t see with my little eye several of the planets. And they seem to be going around us too.

    I know that heliocentric model is a simpler explanation of the precession of mars et al, but orrerys did that with the earth at the centre.

    I think we should teach the controversy!

  419. MikeN:

    >If I get past that, but mistype the CAPTCHA words, I get a more forgiving message. BUT the comment window is now empty and if I hit “Post” I get the unrecoverable error again.

    Try opening comments in a new tab, then it won’t pop up. There are other problems. Sometimes it throws in decimals or is completely unreadable. I’ve even gotten things like 25 1/2. I’m not looking at this blog on a typewriter, so I don’t know how to make that.

    Also if you get it wrong and type it in again, it will say duplicate comment detected, even though the first one failed due to error.

  420. Rod Evans:

    A paper by Tom Quirk has recently been published in ‘Environment and Energy’ claiming that fossil CO2 is rapidly soaked up by the oceans and does not contribute to rising general CO2 levels. It would be useful to have a review of this paper by yourselves
    Thanks

    [Response: Very little point since it is completely wrong. This can be seen trivially from the fact that CO2 levels have risen 38% over pre-industrial levels to values not seen in more than 800,000 - maybe even millions - years. Some discussion here though. - gavin]

  421. James:

    Mark Says (9 April 2009 at 2:14 PM):

    “Not when Dyson is pontificating on climate work.

    Or do you retain a solicitor without checking they have a license to practice ***law*** and a mechanical engineering license is good enough?”

    I think you missed my point, which was that (if I’m using Google Scholar correctly – and I freely admit I might not be) Dyson doesn’t seem to have published much of anything, on any subject, in that period. The references I see are to a popular book, or to a few papers where he’s one of the last authors listed – the position usually reserved for the advisor of the grad student who actually did the work.

    Indeed, I was rather surprised when I read the Dyson interview in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. I knew his name from historical references, of course, but I’d supposed that he’d died long ago.

  422. Chris Winter:

    I’ve been looking for a timeline of recent global warming events. My search has led me to several. First and best is the Global Warming Timeline, part of Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming.

    Next is one that takes up where Spencer Weart leaves off, in 2007, and looks ahead to The Frightening Future of Earth.

    (Timeline: The Frightening Future of Earth
    By Andrea Thompson and Ker Than, LiveScience)

    Others include offerings from CNN, Cosmos Magazine, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, New Scientist, and Sustainable Energy Ireland. The one most like what I’m looking for is this one from PBS Frontline:

    Timeline: The Science and Politics of Global Warming

    It’s got separate tracks for science and politics. Does anyone know of a timeline with multiple tracks like that, but that’s more up to date, and maybe has more information — like the various conferences and declarations?

  423. Mark:

    “I think you missed my point, which was that (if I’m using Google Scholar correctly – and I freely admit I might not be) Dyson doesn’t seem to have published much of anything, on any subject, in that period”

    Nope, I think it was misunderstood.

    Ta.

  424. Hank Roberts:

    Relevant to the topic, and scary:
    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/04/07/07climatewire-secretive-un-board-awards-lucrative-credits-10458.html?pagewanted=all

    With no legal immunity from prosecution, the members of the UN board handling Kyoto credits have been threatened under the strict European libel laws for criticizing projects. Hat tip to: http://www.sej.org/news/index.htm
    Article from the NYT.

  425. walter crain:

    don’t get me started on the UN… it should be so good, but…the corruption…ugh.

  426. Hank Roberts:

    MSNBC on George Will, Bachmann, and other misrepresentations of scientific work:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30145811#30117559

    “What George Will did was cherry-pick …. ” says the WaPo editor interviewed.

    Much more debunking of public lying and fake facts also in that video.

    Economists blog on political spin about greenhouse gas legislation:
    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/04/thomas-friedman-is-headslappingly-wrong.html

  427. Todd Bandrowsky:

    Hey Hank… switching over to advocacy. Some points in response to your earlier questions.

    1) I’m building my website myself, to be a profit making thing. I’m a professional software developer so I can do that.

    2) Some posters equated a reduction in CO2 footprint with a lifestyle improvement. The cost of CO2 improvements is essentially to accept a pre-industrial use of energy per capita and the effect of that is catastrophic. Wind and solar cannot compete in availability, we can’t store electricity at large scales (still), and the only CO2 friendly answer is nuclear, which is off the table.

    Even basic energy reductions have unpleasantries. I don’t like CFL’s at all. The light makes me sick. If you have a tight house you increase indoor air pollution. I like a drafty house with the heat on, and I like the sound of a V8 engine when I drive.

    And, the thing is, just about every energy efficiency increase is already at their economic limit. Requires increase of expense to go more, and therefor, a lowered lifestyle elsewhere. Just like how putting airbags and pollution control devices jacked up the price of cars about 5k. You have less.. that is why we have to have carbon taxes and even those aren’t actually being used to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

    3) I don’t disagree with the science. I’m interested in just what’s a good anomaly baseline. RSS started out at .322 for the year and has been declining. For now I’m using .322, with the expectation that GW should increase above that as the year(s) progress.

    4) The real point that I am going to drive home is that, even if we do everything that the environmentalists want, to lower carbon dioxide, all the box models show that it will be at least a century before the excess CO2 is absorbed… so, we’re going to spend -trillions- of dollars in CO2 without accomplishing anything. So, if we go by the science, then the only really economic answer is going to be creating a technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s the only answer too, to if there are short term spikes in CO2 that are naturally induced, like a super volcano.

    We’re way past the point where can just lower our footprint to silence and hope for the best.

    We have to manage the atmosphere.

  428. Jim Bouldin:

    “A paper by Tom Quirk has recently been published in ‘Environment and Energy’ claiming that fossil CO2 is rapidly soaked up by the oceans and does not contribute to rising general CO2 levels. It would be useful to have a review of this paper by yourselves”

    Review:

    Quirk reportedly posits that all fossil carbon C goes into the ocean and not the atmosphere. Since rising atmospheric C over the industrial era is an empirical certainty, the source of the atmospheric rise must be land use changes, particularly forest clearing and burning, since terrestrial carbon is the only other possible source. Therefore deforestation and fossil fuel burning are leading, respectively, to rapid global warming and rapid ocean acification. Clearly, these carbon generating activities need to be drastically curtailed if these effects are to be mitigated.

    How’s that?

  429. Hank Roberts:

    Ok, Todd, let me see if I get this:

    You’re basically listing the usual stuff. There’s a compendium at http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/?source=rss

    You want some support for this “baseline” notion you’ve made up, so you can put it on a website, attract right-thinking people and advertisers, and $$Profit$$.

    If I’ve understood you, for that purpose, you can make anything up; your target audience will believe the same stuff they find at the other PR sites. Need a list? http://www.desmogblog.com will get you all the popular ones to copy.

    This might help: http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum.html

    Nice to know the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well.

  430. Jim Bouldin:

    Todd Bandrowsky:
    “Even basic energy reductions have unpleasantries. I don’t like CFL’s at all. The light makes me sick. If you have a tight house you increase indoor air pollution. I like a drafty house with the heat on, and I like the sound of a V8 engine when I drive.”

    The incredulometer has pegged.

  431. Ray Ladbury:

    Jim Bouldin,
    Wow, the ocean is a whole helluva lot smarter than we thought if it can tell the difference between a carbon atom from fossil fuel burning and one from land use change. Kind of adds a whole new level to both Maxwell’s demon and intelligent design.

  432. Ray Ladbury:

    Todd Bandrowsky says: “We have to manage the atmosphere.”

    Great, we can start with limiting the amount of CO2 we put into it, as that is the part of climate forcing we understand best. Once you have that down, come back and we’ll start on more difficult activities.

  433. Hank Roberts:

    PS, Todd, as to your claim

    > box models show that it will be at least a century
    > before the excess CO2 is absorbed…

    That’s far too optimistic.
    Since you say

    > so, we’re going to spend -trillions- of dollars in
    > CO2 without accomplishing anything

    You aren’t interested in any future beyond your own.

    So, for your website, I’d like to suggest an icon:
    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3399/653/320/Louis15-4.jpg

    and a motto: “Après moi, le déluge”
    http://tradicionclasica.blogspot.com/2006/01/expression-aprs-moi-le-dluge-and-its.html

  434. SecularAnimist:

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “Wind and solar cannot compete in availability … and the only CO2 friendly answer is nuclear, which is off the table.”

    With all due respect, that’s just plain wrong.

    The USA has vast commercially exploitable solar and wind energy resources, which are sufficient to provide several times as much electricity as the entire country uses.

    According to the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the gross offshore wind energy resources of the mid-Atlantic region alone are greater than the entire output of all the coal-fired power plants in the USA.

    Similarly, the offshore wind energy resources of the Northeast alone are sufficient to generate more electricity than the entire country uses.

    The same is true of the wind energy resources of only FOUR mid-Western states.

    Concentrating solar thermal power plants in the Southwest likewise could produce as much electricity as the entire country uses.

    Fully exploiting the solar photovoltaic capacity of existing commercial rooftops (malls, warehouses, office buildings, supermarkets, etc) could produce 185 gigawatts of electricity.

    For that matter, simply capturing waste heat that is vented from industrial smokestacks and currently wasted, and using it to drive turbines could generate as much electricity as all the nuclear power plants in the US, at a tiny fraction of the cost of new nuclear.

    Both solar and wind are attracting billions of dollars every year in private venture capital. The largest recipient of venture capital investment in the USA last year was Nanosolar, a manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaics. Both wind and solar are growing worldwide at record-breaking, double-digit rates every year. In 2008, wind generating capacity in the USA grew by 50 percent — in one year — and accounted for 42 percent of all new generating capacity.

    As for nuclear, it is not especially “CO2 friendly” — including the entire construction, operation and decommissioning cycle, and including the nuclear fuel cycle from mining through processing and transport and sequestration (still an unsolved problem), its CO2 emissions are about the same as natural gas. That’s better than coal, I’ll grant you. But it’s far from “carbon free”.

    And the big problem with nuclear power is that it is simply not possible to build enough nuclear power plants fast enough, to reduce emissions enough in the time frame that is needed. Nuclear power plants take ten years to build; utility-scale wind and solar installations take one to two years.

    Nuclear power is not an effective solution for reducing CO2 emissions. Wind and solar are effective solutions. They can do the job faster and cheaper and with none of the very serious problems of nuclear power.

  435. SecularAnimist:

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “If you have a tight house you increase indoor air pollution.”

    If you research “net zero energy” house construction, you will learn that modern superinsulated house designs — like those being developed by the US Department of Energy in collaboration with Habitat For Humanity — use mechanical ventilation with heat exchangers to solve this problem.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “So, if we go by the science, then the only really economic answer is going to be creating a technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

    Since anthropogenic excess CO2 is already at dangerous levels, it is true that we need to both (1) reduce emissions to near zero as quickly as possible and (2) find a way to draw down the excess CO2, preferably to pre-industrial levels.

    But we don’t need to “create new technology” to do that. We can sequester CO2 naturally in the biosphere, through organic agriculture and reforestation.

  436. Jim Bouldin:

    “If you have a tight house you increase indoor air pollution. I like a drafty house with the heat on”
    Certainly. Insulation is over-rated

    “I like the sound of a V8 engine when I drive”
    Music to my ears

  437. Todd Bandrowsky:

    Windmills and solar panels will cost 5 times that of nuclear power plants. That’s without calculating the cost of the grid changes you need to make it theoretically work. And, it doesn’t take into consideration that the nameplate capacity of either wind or solar is rarely achieved in practice. You might build 20MW of wind, for example, but you might only get 3. You have to overbuild a lot. When the dust all settles, you could be talking 5 to 10 trillion dollars to do this, and then have an inherently unreliable power supply. Or, could spend about 800 billion, and build 300 nuclear power plants, and be done with it. You could build them more quickly if you cleared some legal hurdles out of the way.

  438. Todd Bandrowsky:

    Bouldin.. you have no taste. A V8 engine is a mechanical marvel, a work of pure genius, a symphony of sound. Steam engines, too actually, have a lot of good asthetic value.

  439. Hank Roberts:

    Well, it’s going to be an interesting bridge once you get it built and live under it. I recommend citing sources instead of just making assertions on your eventual blog, if you want people to keep replying. Numbers are easy to come up with, but without cites to sources, people will just make their own numbers up to argue. Recreational typing.

  440. Hank Roberts:

    PS, first you have to make the tools:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/02/21/response-to-an-integral-fast-reactor-ifr-critique/#comment-11187
    _______________________
    “quality contract” says ReCaptcha

    _______________________

    Okay, would whoever runs ReCaptcha please just get the AI to start writing full sentences, then try paragraphs? It’s Turing time.

  441. Ray Ladbury:

    Todd Bandrowsky,
    You have a rather limited scope on technology. Solar and wind are developing technologies. To assign a price to them for all time is simply silly. And while the V-8 is good, it pales in comparison to a Stirling engine as a marvel of technology. And if you like steam engines, you’ll love solar thermal.

  442. walter crain:

    gavin, scientists – especially those named jim,
    you may consider this off topic (but the topic is advocacy/science), but i just returned from dinner at my in-laws. there were about 15 otherwise well-educated people there. i asked each one in private what they thought about global warming – i.e. whether it’s man-made and whether it’s something to worry about. 14 of 15 said they think it’s a left-wing greenie hoax designed to…well…destroy capitalism or something….(why is this a left/right issue…?) heavy sigh… of the 14 ALL said there is still not a scientific consensus. they went on to talk about politics, taxes, natural cycles, etc…. my point is THEY QUESTION THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS (and of course mentioned al gore’s house…) that’s where we are with the public. we need PROJECT JIM just to get past this “step 1″ in the discussion. please help!

  443. Craig Allen:

    I’ve been having fun stirring the possum over at the WhatsUpWithThat Lindzen post.

    Now I’ve foolishly stuck my neck out with the following post. Can anyone see flaws in my argument?

    As for CO2, lets start with this handy and very readable summary of how the greenhouse effect works. As far as I can see, it accords with the views of most of the World’s scientific institutions who express an opinion on these matters.

    The contributions of the major greenhouse gasses to the greenhouse effect are
    * water vapor = 36–72%
    * carbon dioxide = 9–26%
    * methane, = 4–9%
    * ozone, = 3–7%
    As stated in the article, “It is not possible to state that a certain gas causes an exact percentage of the greenhouse effect, because the influences of the various gases are not additive. The higher ends of the ranges quoted are for the gas alone; the lower ends, for the gas counting overlaps.” (Where overlaps refers to the fact that the infrared radiation absorption frequencies of the gasses overlap.)

    I understand that in the absence of any greenhouse effect, the Earth would on average be 30ºC cooler.

    So the contribution of CO2 is significant.

    I’m not a physicist, but lets have a go at a quick calculation.
    > Take the lower number for C02 = 9%.
    > The contribution of C02 to the greenhouse effect is therefore at least 9% of 30ºC = 2.7ºC
    > Humanities emissions have caused C02 to increased in concentration by roughly 30% since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
    > So prior to the industrial revolution its affect was 25% less than now
    > That gives 2.7ºC / 4 = 0.675ºC
    > This is roughly the increase in global average temperature that has been observed so far.
    > Throwing in feedbacks will account for the the extra temperature rise that scientists say is still on the way as we approach equilibrium.

    And having subsequently been asked:

    “Is it possible that the choice of the 9% figure may have been made made essentially to give the result you were trying to prove?”

    I replied:

    Yes, I considered that, but when you eyeball the adsorption spectra (neatly presented here) you can see that the location and size of the CO2 band within the thermal radiation absorbing section of the spectrum looks about right for it to be accounting for 9%.

  444. Craig Allen:

    Dr Lindzen has replied to Anthony Watts’ request for clarrification on the choice of dataset:

    UPDATE3: I received this email today (4/10) from Dr. Lindzen. My sincere thanks for his response.

    Dear Anthony,

    The paper was sent out for comments, and the comments (even those from “realclimate”) are appreciated. In fact, the reduction of the difference in OLR between the 80’s and 90’s due to orbital decay seems to me to be largely correct. However, the reduction in Wong, Wielicki et al (2006) of the difference in the spikes of OLR between observations and models cannot be attributed to orbital decay, and seem to me to be questionable. Nevertheless, the differences that remain still imply negative feedbacks. We are proceeding to redo the analysis of satellite data in order to better understand what went into these analyses. The matter of net differences between the 80’s and 90’s is an interesting question. Given enough time, the radiative balance is reestablished and the anomalies can be wiped out. The time it takes for this to happen depends on climate sensitivity with adjustments occurring more rapidly when sensitivity is less. However, for the spikes, the time scales are short enough to preclude adjustment except for very low sensitivity.

    That said, it has become standard in climate science that data in contradiction to alarmism is inevitably ‘corrected’ to bring it closer to alarming models. None of us would argue that this data is perfect, and the corrections are often plausible. What is implausible is that the ‘corrections’ should always bring the data closer to models.

    Best wishes,

    Dick

    Seems to me that it is entirely plausible that “‘corrections’ should always bring the data closer to models” if the models do in fact do a reasonable job of describing reality! Although I note that the AGW-denial crowd also like to winge about the models being ‘tuned’ to fit the data. And I imagine that inevitably some corrections do make the data fit the models less well – prompting further work on the models.

  445. James:

    Todd Bandrowsky Says (10 April 2009 at 2:02 PM):

    “2) Some posters equated a reduction in CO2 footprint with a lifestyle improvement. The cost of CO2 improvements is essentially to accept a pre-industrial use of energy per capita and the effect of that is catastrophic.”

    Why catastrophic? Why is the amount of energy used per capita even significant? Surely it is the output, in terms of quality of life (and I agree some of that can be subjective) that matters, not the amount of power input. Consider computers as an obvious instance. When I started working with them, back in the early ’80s, they took kilowatts of power to run (and more for dedicated A/C to remove the waste heat), and took weeks to run simulations. Now the notebook I’m writing this on is using about 17 watts, and can run similar (probably more complex) simulations in real time. So I’ve increased my computing quality-of-life by a factor of thousands, while reducing the power required by a similar factor.

    “…the only CO2 friendly answer is nuclear, which is off the table.”

    Off whose table? Not mine, and not many others.

    “I don’t like CFL’s at all. The light makes me sick.”

    Well, that’s YOUR problem. I actually prefer the quality of CFL light to the yellowish tone of incandescents. (Remember when light bulb makers used to compete to produce the whitest light?)

    “I like a drafty house with the heat on, and I like the sound of a V8 engine when I drive.”

    Again, these are personal problems. If you like drafty, why not buy a couple of fans, or just live in a tent? And if engine sound is your problem, it’s pretty easy to wire up a car stereo to play any amount or quality of engine noise you want (keeping it inside the car, of course) while the nearly silent stirling/electric propulsion system (see http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/09/07/gm-could-have-made-a-plug-in-hybrid-car-38-years-ago/ ) efficiently moves you down the road.

    But of course, the real question here is why you seem to believe that the world should be run in such a way that everyone has to live the way you want to.

    “And, the thing is, just about every energy efficiency increase is already at their economic limit. Requires increase of expense to go more, and therefor, a lowered lifestyle elsewhere. Just like how putting airbags and pollution control devices jacked up the price of cars about 5k.”

    Oh, bovine excrement! To take your example, the price of cars, corrected for inflation, has actually decreased in recent years (Source: http://freeby50.blogspot.com/2008/11/history-of-new-car-costs-and-average.html ) Amortize that cost over the useful life, and it’s gone down considerably. A ’59 Chevy would be doing well to survive 10 years or 100K miles of moderate use, while my ’88 Toyota is still going strong at over twice that. And of course a car’s efficiency could be easily & cheaply increased, simply by making it smaller.

  446. Mark:

    Craig, your calculations are justifiable. Use them and if they are to be refuted, demand that they PROVE them wrong in a significant degree.

    After all, they are now the ones with the statement (“your calculations are incorrect”) and they ALWAYS demand proof of the statement that AGW is a problem.

    So see if they are truly skeptical: demand they prove your response wrong. Not with hand waving.

  447. Mark:

    Craig, it also seems to me that the denialosphere awlays take the idea of ANY correction to be purely for making up proof of AGW.

    This seems as disingenuous as what he is accusing “alarmists” of doing.

    Is he going to ever say that a change to a dataset is ever done for valid scientific reasons?

  448. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Todd Bandrowski writes:

    The cost of CO2 improvements is essentially to accept a pre-industrial use of energy per capita

    Nonsense.

    and the effect of that is catastrophic. Wind and solar cannot compete in availability,

    There is enough wind and solar power available to provide all the power the world needs now many times over. Denmark is already getting 16% of its power from wind, Spain is rapidly catching up, and even in the US the wind power energy now employs more people than the coal industry (85,000 versus 81,000).

    we can’t store electricity at large scales (still),

    Pump water uphill. Let it flow downhill through turbines.

    Lead-acid batteries. Lots of ‘em.

    Solar thermal power stations store excess heat from the day in molten salts to release at night and in bad weather. Some get almost 24/7 operation that way.

    Flywheels.

    Compressed air.

    and the only CO2 friendly answer is nuclear, which is off the table.

    Nuclear involves huge amounts of cement, which gives off CO2 when it sets. And it’s incredibly expensive even in countries where state power prevents protests and lawsuits.

  449. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Todd Bandrowsky writes:

    Windmills and solar panels will cost 5 times that of nuclear power plants.

    Did you wipe that pseudo-statistic off before displaying it here?

    That’s without calculating the cost of the grid changes you need to make it theoretically work.

    We need grid changes whatever we do. Might as well build smart grids.

    And, it doesn’t take into consideration that the nameplate capacity of either wind or solar is rarely achieved in practice.

    Statistics, please? Sources? Numbers?

    You might build 20MW of wind, for example, but you might only get 3.

    I can play this game, too. Without sources or specifics, it’s easy. “You might design a 1,000 GW nuclear plant and get only 7 GW.”

    You have to overbuild a lot. When the dust all settles, you could be talking 5 to 10 trillion dollars to do this, and then have an inherently unreliable power supply.

    Large grids, solar in daytime, wind at night. If Solar and wind provided 80% of the energy and natural gas provided 20%, we’d still be cutting emissions greatly, and in the long run biomass can provide the natural gas. There is nothing “inherently” unreliable about renewable energy. And have you forgotten geothermal, which is both steady and operates 24/7?

    Or, could spend about 800 billion, and build 300 nuclear power plants, and be done with it. You could build them more quickly if you cleared some legal hurdles out of the way.

    Yeah, it’s a lot easier if the locals can’t protest what you’re doing. Just have a production bureau announce it and implement it. Sounds good to me, comrade.

  450. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Craig Allen,

    Looks good, except that you left clouds out of the greenhouse effect list (clouds also have a greenhouse effect, though it is largely balanced by their reflecting sunlight back up). Also it’s infrared “absorption” that greenhouse gases do. Adsorption is stuff adhering to particles.

  451. Martin Vermeer:

    #443 Craig Allen

    I’m not a physicist, but lets have a go at a quick calculation.

    > That gives 2.7ºC / 4 = 0.675ºC
    > This is roughly the increase in global average temperature that has been observed so far.
    > Throwing in feedbacks will account for the the extra temperature rise that scientists say is still on the way as we approach equilibrium.

    Seems OK to me. Not exact as the CO2 forcing is logarithmic in concentration, but good enough.

    You realize that the agreement between your 0.675C and the realized warming thus far is sheer coincidence, don’t you? I’m pointing it out because denialists often overlook this too.

    The difference with equilibrium is due not only to feedbacks, but also to the positive effect of methane, the mixed effects of aerosols and clouds, and the thermal inertia of the oceanss, see IPCC for the gory — and still somewhat vague — details (Woohoo! Uncertainty!).

  452. Craig Allen:

    Thanks Bartin and Martin,

    Yeah I realised that I was simplifying things greatly. I was actually stunned that the number came out so close and that the rough calculation was so easy to throw down. My RealClimate reading seems to have sunk in well!

    Thanks re the absorption vs adsorption thing. Knew that, but typed it wrong anyway. Those are the sorts of details tend to be beyond the ken of the denialist crowd anyway ;) I’d welcome having someone at WUWT actually engaging to the degree where they would query something like that.

    Martin, what do you mean by the CO2 forcing being logarithmic in concentration?

  453. Todd Bandrowsky:

    I base my calculations on ramping up the DE Wind Turbine farm up to a national scale. I get a couple million bucks per turbine, each producing 2-3MW on a windy day. Go from there. Just look at what you are doing… you are building a bunch of almost skyscrapers to get power. Of course its going to be expensive.

    Keep in mind too, that most wind turbines are actually made in India and imported by GE. So basically, we’re writing another multi-trillion dollar check off to foreign countries.

    Capacity arguments are valid. Nuclear power plants typically run at full capacity. They are machines and you turn them on or off. This is verifiable from any number of sources.

    Conversely, solar panels cannot run at nameplate capacity continuously because of night and clouds, and windmills cannot run continuously at full capacity because the wind speed is variable.

    My vote is to go nuclear fission first, then onto fusion. Fission wastes can be reprocessed and can be buried. Solar and wind are catastrophic mistakes. They cost more money, don’t work as well, and export even more American money.

    People importing windmills need to be lined up against the same wall as the people that buy foreign cars. Build American nuclear power plants, and kick all the foreign goods out of the USA.

  454. Lawrence Brown:

    Re:#309″I’m freezing my butt off waiting on the weather to finally warm up. It’s April in Central Texas — why is it 45F outside and I’m sleeping under an electric blanket?!?”

    Why is it so difficult for some people to understand the difference between weather and climate?Short term noise happens and has nothing to do with the long term trends of climate. We’ve had cold days,even weeks here in NYC this winter. It’s been so cold at times that the politicians had their hands in their own pockets. This is known as weather,not climate.

  455. Hank Roberts:

    Er, Todd, wipe the foam from your jaws with your Egyptian cotton American-flag t-shirt and put down your AK47 — if you’d bothered to read the link, you’d know where GE has to go to get its castings made for its fission reactor. Want to crank them out in a hurry? You’re going to be writing a lot of those checks.

    You’re projecting lining the entire nuclear industry up against that wall, and you’re threatening them with — what, exactly? Spit it out.

    Why not leave off the act for when you have your own website set up? it won’t fool too many people here into flaming — almost any of the regulars will instead urge you to come upwith citations to reliable fact sources, and to get a library card.

    Seriously, the ranting stuff will work on your own website for the audience you want. But don’t feel you have to always act that way.

    Work on your research. That link will get you started researching facts that people will recognize and be able to check and confirm. If you want customers who actually have money to spend, that helps.

  456. Jim Bouldin:

    The Todd Bandrowsky school of building inefficiency, automotive sensuality, nuclear reactor proliferation, rapid-fire unsubstantiated factoids, strange statements (nuclear reactors are “machines” with on-off switches!), and general flag-waving, anti-American homerism (complete with firing squad imagery!!) is NOW IN SESSION!!!!!!!

    BONUS: Thought processes, as astutely described by Captcha are “not required” for this school!!!!! Yippee!

  457. RichardC:

    452 Craig, the effect of CO2 lessens as concentration goes up. If doubling CO2 raises temperatures, say 3 degrees, then to raise temperatures 6 degrees would take a quadrupling of CO2.

    453, Todd, that’s quite the anti-capitalist diatribe. A capitalist would require nuclear power plants to carry insurance for the total loss potential and also for waste storage. Oops, those two requirements make nuclear prohibitively expensive. A capitalist would welcome foreign competition. A Real American would never advocate taking freedom of choice away at the point of a gun. Besides, foreign competition is just about the only reason US automobile manufacturers improve their product.

  458. Hank Roberts:

    RichardC — citation please? Where do you get that relationship?
    I searched and found only a lot of blog claims asserting it but didn’t find a citation anywhere. What’s your source? And what are the limits within which you believe it to be correct?

  459. Martin Vermeer:

    Craig, I spoke too soon. Logarithmic means that the relationship between forcing, and for small changes the temperature increase T, is given by

    T = C ln(p)

    where C is a constant and p concentration. A Taylor expansion of the log is

    ln(x) = ln(x0) + (x – x0)/x0 – (x – x0)^2/(2×0^2) + …

    or

    T = T0 + C (x – x0)/x0 + …

    Here, (x – x0)/x0 is percentage change, i.e., 0.3.
    You see that the sensitivity constant C comes along in the result :-(

    I beieve that instead of the low value, 9%, you should use 26%, the value for CO2 alone. That means some 8K total; for a CO2-only doubling sensitivity of 1.2 degrees, this would mean that we are some seven doublings or 128x away from low concentrations where this logaritmic behaviour breaks down. All very back-of-the-envelope.

    Perhaps I should’t have told you this… it was a good story while it lasted and it’s not as if the folks at WUWT actually care about what’s true :-(

    .

  460. Hank Roberts:

    Reality check please? In the past, it looks linear.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5752/1313

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol310/issue5752/images/medium/310_1313_F3.gif

    Correlation between {delta}D, a proxy for Antarctic temperature, and CO2 for three data sets. The new data from Dome C ….

    Cited by 220 later papers: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&cites=8706298395854570973&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=ic3gSd-YCqX2tAP_m7m3CQ&sa=X&oi=science_links&resnum=1&ct=sl-citedby

  461. Hank Roberts:

    Perhaps more urgent, the relationship between ocean pH and fossil fuel burning is changing faster than expected:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18848.abstract

    “… Our results indicate that pH decline is proceeding at a more rapid rate than previously predicted in some areas, and that this decline has ecological consequences for near shore benthic ecosystems.”

    This is because the ocean doesn’t mix as fast as the atmosphere; surface shallow water is where much of the dissolved CO2 from surface water runoff ends up. It’s also where much of the food chain lives.

  462. Chris Winter:

    Todd Bandrowsky: “Some posters equated a reduction in CO2 footprint with a lifestyle improvement. The cost of CO2 improvements is essentially to accept a pre-industrial use of energy per capita and the effect of that is catastrophic. Wind and solar cannot compete in availability, we can’t store electricity at large scales (still), and the only CO2 friendly answer is nuclear, which is off the table.”

    I have to echo James (#445) — Off whose table? There are 17 applications for new licenses on file with the NRC.

    “And, the thing is, just about every energy efficiency increase is already at their economic limit. Requires increase of expense to go more, and therefor, a lowered lifestyle elsewhere. Just like how putting airbags and pollution control devices jacked up the price of cars about 5k. You have less.. that is why we have to have carbon taxes and even those aren’t actually being used to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    I believe Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute would disagree.

    http://www.rmi.org/

    (ReCAPTCHA: “Mister Briggs”. But reducing CO2 is not an impossible mission… ;) )

  463. James:

    Barton Paul Levenson Says (11 April 2009 at 5:32 AM):

    “Nuclear involves huge amounts of cement, which gives off CO2 when it sets. And it’s incredibly expensive even in countries where state power prevents protests and lawsuits.”

    “Huge” isn’t really a precise figure, you know. How about some ballpark numbers? How about comparing the amount of cement used in a nuclear plant with the amount used in the footings for 1 GWatt of wind turbines? The CO2 produced by the cement is equivalent to how many days output from a coal-fired plant of the same capacity?

    (I’d really like some accurate numbers, but couldn’t find them in a quick search. But do this: eyeball the size of a nuclear power plant, then visit a coal-fired plant and eyeball the size of the coal pile. Then try to believe that the amount of CO2 from the nuclear plant’s cement is significant.)

    As for “incredibly expensive”, $1/watt is frequently given as the price point at which solar PV becomes competitive. 1 GWatt continuous solar generation thus costs $2 billion for the cells alone (because you have to generate twice as much during the day, to make up for night) plus mounting structures, cost of overnight storage, and so on. Seems roughly in the same ballpark as nuclear, but why argue? Let’s just tax the heck out of fossil fuel generation, remove restrictions on both solar & nuclear, and let investors put their money where they think it’ll give best return?

    RichardC Says (11 April 2009 at 9:42 AM):

    “453, Todd, that’s quite the anti-capitalist diatribe. A capitalist would require nuclear power plants to carry insurance for the total loss potential and also for waste storage. Oops, those two requirements make nuclear prohibitively expensive.”

    To be fair, your capitalist would want a level playing field, and so would apply similar insurance & waste storage to all forms of generation. So, do coal-fired plants have to have liability insurance, or pay to store their waste? Do hydroelectric power dams (which have historically caused the greatest loss of life) have to have insurance? Indeed, don’t most hydroelectric projects in fact get built by governments, using taxpayer money?

  464. David B. Benson:

    Barton Paul Levenson (448) — The manufacture of Portland cement from limestone gives off substantial CO2. When concrete sets via the addition of water, all that happens is that the water chemically reacts with the Portland cement; I think that no additional CO2 is produced; the problem for big pours is that significant heat is, cooling pipes are ued in major dams and so on…

  465. SecularAnimist:

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “Windmills and solar panels will cost 5 times that of nuclear power plants.”

    That is simply, blatantly false. You simply made up that number. It has no basis in fact.

    Wind and solar are already less expensive than nuclear. More importantly, they can be built much, much faster.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “… just about every energy efficiency increase is already at their economic limit.”

    Absolute rubbish. Another fantasy factoid that you made up. There is vast opportunity in the USA for efficiency improvements that will boost productivity and profits while reducing energy costs. Every major corporation in the USA is now aggressively pursuing efficiency improvements because it benefits their bottom line.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “Keep in mind too, that most wind turbines are actually made in India …”

    Another blatantly false statement that you just made up. In reality, of the top ten manufacturers of wind turbines in the world, only one is an Indian company, accounting for less than 10 percent of global installed capacity as of 2007. Denmark accounted for more than 26 percent, Germany and Spain for about 20 percent each, and the US-based General Electric for about 16 percent. China accounted for only around 7.5 percent, but its wind turbine industry has been growing rapidly, and China is expected to become the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines this year.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “… and imported by GE.”

    False again. GE imports some parts for its wind turbines, which are built in the USA, but purchases others from US companies. US wind turbine manufacturing is growing rapidly. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the share of US-made parts in wind turbines increased from 30 percent in 2005 to nearly 50 percent at the end of 2008. According to the US International Trade Commission, at least 11 blade manufacturers and 16 tower manufacturers have plants or plan to open plants in the United States, and the new plants announced in the first three quarters of 2008 could add 4,000 jobs, at wages generally between $13 and $20 per hour. The Danish company Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, is building 4 new factories in Colorado, and plans to make all of its turbines for the US market in the USA by 2010. And the skyrocketing world market for wind turbines is a huge export opportunity for US companies — according to the AWEA, exports account for about half the business of US-based small wind turbine manufacturers and wind energy developers.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “So basically, we’re writing another multi-trillion dollar check off to foreign countries.”

    AWEA estimates that that wind installations worldwide will total more than 100,000 megawatts over the next decade, or more than $100 billion worth of business. If the US follows the wrong-headed policies you recommend, and cedes that business opportunity to China, Spain, Denmark, Germany and India, then yes, we will surely be buying our wind turbines from them, rather than cashing in on the global boom in wind power development.

    Todd Bandrowsky wrote: “My vote is to go nuclear fission first …”

    Why do you prefer a technology that has always and everywhere been a state-run, taxpayer-subsidized economic failure, which the free market has utterly rejected, and which is demanding hundreds of billions of dollars from taxpayers to fund its “revival” — with all the costs and all the risks to be borne by ratepayers and taxpayers — and reject the technologies that the free market is avidly embracing with billions of dollars in private investment?

    What do you have against free markets?

    If you are looking to somehow make money from a website full of ignorant lies and inane cartoonish pseudo-conservative bluster, well, have at it. But it’s a crowded market. There are a lot of people already doing that.

  466. HF:

    Situated roughly in the center of the North-South wind corridor that extends from North Dakota to Texas, Iowa enjoys a substantial wind resource.

    For the most recent year of available numbers, the Iowa Utilities Board reports the state’s electric energy consumption at some 46000 Mwh. Current state wide nameplate capacity is over two times consumption and some 75-80% of that production is coal generated. The utility owned wind farms in the state produce power at about 27-28% of nameplate.

    What would 100% wind production look like? For simplicity, assume a flat demand curve, 33% nameplate/production ratio, 2.5MW turbines, optimum (max. production) geographic placement, and no excess or reserve capacity. Considering Iowa only, demand could be met by installing some 55,200 (demand nameplate X 3) 2.5MW turbines, and since the wind resource is biased toward Iowa’s NW quadrant and its periphery, three turbines would dot each square mile of that zone. The state would also require a storage capacity equal to twice the states demand to compensate for the 33% production ratio and a grid capable of handling the energy production of 3 X demand.

    It sounds intimidating but:

    Much of the state’s existing production and delivery resource is thirty to fifty years old. Some older.

    If Iowa was connected to wider grid whose customers could consume Iowa’s intermittent excess production, its need for energy storage could be eliminated.

    Intermittent production could be mitigated via a connection to distant out of state production facilities influenced by other weather and wind patterns.

    Connection and collection of the energy production from these disparate multi-state facilities could result in the sale and delivery of an energy product at a much higher reliability than would be attainable from an in state geographic. Dedicated high capacity DC lines could provide efficient transport.

    According to a representative of Clipper Wind, a local turbine manufacturer/assembler, current production costs are “just over” 1 million dollars per MW nameplate. This figure includes transportation of the components to the site, but I do not recall that it includes installation cost, and I’m confident that it did not include projected maintenance cost, site leasing cost, (about $4000 annually per unit in these parts), site development, finance cost, etc. The companies 2.5MW units are designed for a twenty-five plus year life.

    Assuming “just over” means 1.1 million dollars/MW nameplate in turbine cost, and property leasing costs of $100,000 over the twenty-five year turbine life, the cost per kwh is about .55 cents. Since we need three 1MW units to actually produce 1MW, the turbine and site leasing cost are 1.65 cents per kwh. Add site development, turbine installation, a maintenance schedule, sub stations, finance costs, profit, delivery, and it is easy to see how, as the Clipper rep. indicated in his presentation, that the wholesale price of wind energy varies from 4 to 10 cents/kwh. I doubt that his wholesale price range included our requirement for a production capacity of three times nameplate.

    During his presentation, the Clipper rep. indicated that the .04 to.10/kwh range was a function of site wind. If he was speaking of his local market of Iowa, Southern Minnesota, etc., I prefer to think of the upper portion of his cost range as a siting failure. If he was speaking in broader market terms, his wide price range indicates the importance of building wind production where…. the wind energy is conducive to capture. As important, is the vision and the technical integration of a singular wind production unit that spans the country from N. Dakota to Texas.

    I know many of you have read the following and more of Archer and Jacobson’s work.

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf

  467. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (11 April 2009 at 3:23 PM):

    “That is simply, blatantly false. You simply made up that number. It has no basis in fact.

    Wind and solar are already less expensive than nuclear. More importantly, they can be built much, much faster.”

    Looks like we might have a case of pot calling kettle black here :-)

    Instead of wasting energy & bandwidth with name-calling, why don’t you both try coming up with some numbers, even ballpark ones, to support your claims? I’ll even pose a test problem: how long will it take, and how much will it cost, to build 1 GWatt of generation, dispatchable 24/7, with 90% or better uptime, using solar, wind, or nuclear? Justify your answer.

  468. David B. Benson:

    James (467) — Here are California numbers.

    Busbar (generation) cost in cents per kilowatt-hour in 2008 dollars:

    Biogas: 8.552
    Wind: 8.910
    Gas Combined Cycle: 9.382
    Geothermal: 10.182
    Hydroelectric: 10.527
    Solar thermal: 12.653
    Nuclear: 15.316

    from
    http://www.ethree.com/cpuc_ghg_model.html

  469. Hank Roberts:

    Climate Denial Crock of the Week (videos)
    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610
    Hat tip to Metafilter:
    http://www.metafilter.com/80753/Denial-is-an-increasingly-full-river-in-Egypt

  470. Todd Bandrowsky:

    The claim is made that wind and solar are economical. If so, on the other hand, why do we need to have a CO2 tax to support them? I mean, if they are so much better, as you say, why do we need a Kyoto treaty? If all of this efficiency is self supporting, why do we need to have an artificial tax to incent it. The fact is, they aren’t self supporting… that’s why you have renewables mandates in every state and now at the federal level. Even in Delware, the way the windmill project happened was that the state basically rammed the purchase agreement down the utility’s throat.

    If windmills were so great, you wouldn’t need force people to buy it. Similarly, most hybrids, even was gasoline was $4 a gallon, could not recoup the additional investment in have two motors instead of one.

    To get back to wind, the storage is the problem that sinks Iowa for wind. The only thing really good at storing water at a grid scale is a pumped water facility, which is basically a lake that gets filled up with water pumped up from downhill. To give you an idea of the scale required, you were looking at the need to store 40gw in Iowa. That’s roughly 40 Muddy Runs, each of which requires a Conowingo River and a mile long storage resevoir. You could probably skate by with 20 Hoover dams.

    I leave it as a challenge for readers to calculate the amount of lead and acid or lithium, you’d need to store 40 MW in batteries.

    But really, though, all of this begs the question and does the wrong damn thing with the energy. For, all of this talk of not having sufficient capacity is completely inaccurate. We have at least triple, and maybe even quadruple the national capacity for energy that we need – IF WE COULD STORE ENERGY.

    You don’t need to build a single windmill or a single solar panel to theoretically cut American electrical production carbon emissions by 70%. You don’t need to build 55,000 windmills in Iowa, or, 2 and half million windmills in the USA, or, put solar panels on top of every building. All you need to do is invent a cheap way to store electrical power. Retire all the coal plants, use the nukes for baseload by day and night, maybe build 25 more, and you are off to the races.

    It’s the storage of electricity that is the problem, not its production, [edit - enough baiting]

  471. Hank Roberts:

    Got a grip on how long CO2 lasts yet? That’ll help you figure in the currently externalized costs, if you plan past your own lifespan.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/science/earth/27carbon.html
    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704

    If you don’t want to think past your own lifetime, or address people who do, there’s probably no point in trying to learn the science.

    “… We estimate that the last and the current generation contributed approximately two thirds of the present-day CO2-induced warming. Because of the long time scale required for removal of CO2 from the atmosphere as well as the time delays characteristic of physical responses of the climate system, global mean temperatures are expected to increase by several tenths of a degree for at least the next 20 years even if CO2 emissions were immediately cut to zero; that is, there is a commitment to additional CO2-induced warming even in the absence of emissions. If the rate of increase of CO2 emissions were to continue up to 2025 and then were cut to zero, a temperature increase of ≈1.3°C compared to preindustrial conditions would still occur in 2100, whereas a constant-CO2-emissions scenario after 2025 would more than double the 2100 warming. These calculations illustrate the manner in which each generation inherits substantial climate change caused by CO2 emissions that occurred previously, particularly those of their parents, and shows that current CO2 emissions will contribute significantly to the climate change of future generations.”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/31/10832.abstract

    But if you do want to learn, don’t just read snippets some stranger posts on some blog; read the paper, then read the papers that cite it:

    http://cel.isiknowledge.com/InboundService.do?product=CEL&action=search&SrcApp=Highwire&UT=000231102400019&SID=2E5EDII7iFa%40n7gLefb&Init=Yes&SrcAuth=Highwire&mode=CitingArticles&customersID=Highwire&viewType=summary

  472. dhogaza:

    If windmills were so great, you wouldn’t need force people to buy it

    Same argument applies to nuclear, but you’re going to have to do your own research.

    Rather than depend on rosy future forecasts, look back in time to actual track records (most nuke plants have horrible uptime statistics).

    And, dude, before you get all medieval on me, I’m not particularly anti-nuclear. I just am old enough to remember what was promised 45 years ago, and what the real result was.

  473. dhogaza:

    All you need to do is invent a cheap way to store electrical power. Retire all the coal plants, use the nukes for baseload by day and night, maybe build 25 more, and you are off to the races.

    It’s the storage of electricity that is the problem, not its production, and that, my friends, is why the environmental movement’s approach to energy is so retarded.

    So we’re retarded because physicists and chemists haven’t been able to solve this problem over the last 200+ years?

    All YOU need to do to prove that I’M retarded and YOU’RE brilliant is for you to solve the problem that so far has proven to be unsolvable.

    Meanwhile, why is it retarded for me to point out that despite all the monetary incentives to solve the problem over the last century (at least), no one has done so, therefore expecting a solution to magically arise is naive?

  474. Martin Vermeer:

    Hank #460, it is linear… for small variations. Even 30% is a small variation.

    What does not apply is that it would be linear over the full range of CO2 concentrations from zero to present value. And consequently, that the coefficient of sensitivity would be the same for total amounts as for marginal amounts. It just isn’t.

    My bad for missing that at first read.

  475. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Todd Bandrowsky, whose grasp of economics is apparently just as good as his grasp of climatology, writes:

    Keep in mind too, that most wind turbines are actually made in India and imported by GE. So basically, we’re writing another multi-trillion dollar check off to foreign countries.

    Oh, my GOD! You mean we’re buying stuff from another country! Oh, no! International trade is AWFUL!

    Capacity arguments are valid. Nuclear power plants typically run at full capacity. They are machines and you turn them on or off. This is verifiable from any number of sources.

    Except that nuclear plants typically have “outages” every so often. Even “unexplained outages.” They do not, in fact, operate 24/7. Especially when something goes wrong and they have to close down, as happened with TMI-2.

    Conversely, solar panels cannot run at nameplate capacity continuously because of night and clouds, and windmills cannot run continuously at full capacity because the wind speed is variable.

    Smart grids. Geothermal. Biomass. Molten salts. Have you been reading anything else anyone here is posting?

    My vote is to go nuclear fission first, then onto fusion.

    Why not just have Superman turn a turbine for us at incredible speeds? That’s about as likely as commercial fusion power coming along any time soon.

    Fission wastes can be reprocessed and can be buried. Solar and wind are catastrophic mistakes. They cost more money, don’t work as well, and export even more American money.

    Wind farms costs LESS than nuclear plants, Todd. LESS. That means the quantity of money you spend on them is not as great in magnitude as the quantity you spend on the nuclear plants. Your “cost more” is simply wrong.

    People importing windmills need to be lined up against the same wall as the people that buy foreign cars.

    Oh, good solution. How dare people choose to buy something from an overseas company? Don’t let them buy a Kia with a ten-year, 100,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty. Let them buy a Pontiac that breaks down every two months, and if they try to do anything else, shoot them.

    Google “Smoot-Hawley tariff” to find out why massive trade restrictions are stupid and counterproductive.

  476. Todd Bandrowsky:

    odd Bandrowsky, whose grasp of economics is apparently just as good as his grasp of climatology, writes…Oh, my GOD! You mean we’re buying stuff from another country! Oh, no! International trade is AWFUL!

    Free trade has completely failed the USA. The trade deficit is through the roof and has been for fifty years despite training the federal reserve of gold under LBJ and Tricky Dick, the devaluations of Reagan and Bush the Elder, and so on. Our present economy is the unsurprising result of this 50 year policy mistake.

    Except that nuclear plants typically have “outages” every so often. Even “unexplained outages.” They do not, in fact, operate 24/7.

    Nuclear Power plants today run almost two years without an outage. Their capacity factor is very high.

    TMI

    More people have been killed from wind power accidents than from nuclear accidents in the first world.

    http://www.taproot.com/wordpress/2008/02/25/windmill-accident/

    Wind farms costs LESS than nuclear plants, Todd. LESS. That means the quantity of money you spend on them is not as great in magnitude as the quantity you spend on the nuclear plants. Your “cost more” is simply wrong.

    But they DON’T. That’s the thing. A nuclear power plant usually costs about one to two billion dollars assuming a build schedule not held up in court by environmentalists. A wind farm is about a billion dollars per nameplate Gigawatt, and that actually means about three gigawatts.

    [edit - gold standard discussions etc. are OT]

  477. Hank Roberts:

    Todd, maybe you should go ahead and rough out this website you’re planning to set up, get your advertisers committed, and see how it works for you with the ideas you already have.

    It seems like you’ve made up your mind about what you believe, and reading people’s suggestions about doing the research on all these matters isn’t going to change your mind.

  478. Todd Bandrowsky:

    Rather than depend on rosy future forecasts, look back in time to actual track records (most nuke plants have horrible uptime statistics).

    Track records for nuclear uptime are excellent in the USA. Power plant operators now routinely run them for up to two years at a pop. In fact, the newest cloud of superstition provoked by the likes of the Sierra Club is that running them too much is bad. Of course, its all just part of a strategy to ruin them.

    And that’s the point. As a result of the green movement, the government essentially does not want nuclear power. Quite frankly, environmentalists killed it, and I have strong feelings about them for doing so. [edit - get a grip]

    The only reason I came here was really an answer to a baseline question, which, was never really answered. I’m therefor going with a -1C baseline from the RSS temperature anomaly as the goal any environmental regime. On my web site, I’m going to lay out several alternatives to greenhouse gas management, all of which are better than those advocated by the green movement, [edit - ok that's enough. This 'conversation' is over]

  479. Hank Roberts:

    John, you’re probably looking for something like the California Water Atlas, now a historical document, much has changed, but it did an excellent job of presenting this kind of information, won some awards, and nothing since that I know of has come up to its standards in print. It may be the Spruce Goose of print graphic media, the last one.

    http://designarchives.aiga.org/index.html?s1=2|s2=1|eid=7224
    (very slow-loading site)

    Something like it could be done online nowadays, if support were found for it.

    ___________________
    “National Healey.” ReCaptcha’s stretching a bit, but point taken.

  480. Mark:

    Todd, as I remember it, the entire PLANT is operational two years at a time.

    But a plant can have up to 16 generator units within it.

    The units themselves go offline more frequently.

  481. Mark:

    Todd, is TapRoot selling something?

    Well, we have to know what they’re selling, don’t we.

  482. Mark:

    James says:

    ““That is simply, blatantly false. You simply made up that number. It has no basis in fact.

    Wind and solar are already less expensive than nuclear. More importantly, they can be built much, much faster.”

    Looks like we might have a case of pot calling kettle black here :-) ”

    Which doesn’t prove anything other than neither have a case.

    So why point it out on that one case, and not on Walt or Todd’s positions???

    Selectively biased…

  483. Hank Roberts:

    If Todd bothers to look his idea up, he’ll find his criterion for success is a change well within the range of uncertainties. He will find himself declaring success one year, and failure the next, and success the year after that–all within the error bars for the measure.

  484. Hank Roberts:

    PS for John, here’s one result from a search limited to “extra-large” for the California Water Atlas
    http://wwwcimis.water.ca.gov/cimis/images/etomap.jpg
    — it still doesn’t give anything like the feel of the actual book. If I hadn’t donated mine to the library I’d send it to you; you can find one near you I’m sure. I wholeheartedly agree, a presentation like this for the ecological changes would be a great teaching tool.

  485. James:

    Maybe I’m repeating myself, but instead of tossing the same old factoids back & forth, how about using some actual data?

    For example, any real power generation technology is going to have outages, or be off-line for maintenance some of the time. Solar, wind, &c are also going to be off-line, or generating less than nameplate rating, when it’s cloudy or the wind’s not blowing. So according to this
    http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/newsreleases/us-nuclear-power-plants-achieved-near-record-level-of-electricity-production-in-2008 nuclear power had a 91.1% capacity factor last year, which hardly qualifies as “horrible”.

    Now on construction costs, it’s pretty easy to look up current price per watt of solar PV panels, and multiply. For wind power, here’s a link to an industry site estimating costs: http://www.windustry.com/how-much-do-wind-turbines-cost which says “The costs for a commercial scale wind turbine in 2007 ranged from $1.2 million to $2.6 million, per MW of nameplate capacity installed.”

    Now I think actual generation from wind runs about 1/3 of nameplate (if anyone has a better figure, feel free to correct me), so to meet the same capacity factor as nuclear (and ignoring issues such as dispatchability) 1 GWatt of wind would cost somewhere between $3.28 billion and $7.11 billion. That’s not remarkably different from projected costs of nuclear plants, especially if current regulatory obstacles are removed.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s a real world out there. It’s not all that hard to find data & do math that will give at least ballpark numbers. And if those real world numbers conflict with your beliefs, then maybe that’s a sign that you should re-examine those beliefs.

  486. David B. Benson:

    Well, in an earlier post, I did provide cost figures and a link to the study commissioned by the State of California.

  487. FredB:

    Hank Roberts 458,460: the logarithmic dependence on CO2 concentration is absolutely basic stuff. Of course it looks linear for small changes: logs do that.

  488. Nick Gotts:

    “Now I think actual generation from wind runs about 1/3 of nameplate (if anyone has a better figure, feel free to correct me), so to meet the same capacity factor as nuclear (and ignoring issues such as dispatchability) 1 GWatt of wind would cost somewhere between $3.28 billion and $7.11 billion. That’s not remarkably different from projected costs of nuclear plants, especially if current regulatory obstacles are removed.” – James

    Hmm – and how about if nuclear is made responsible for providing its own insurance up to the amount of any liabilities? But then, AFAIK, there’s no insurance company anywhere willing to provide this at any price.

  489. Hank Roberts:

    FredB, are you confirming RichardC’s numbers above, in his post at
    11 April 2009 at 9:42 AM? It’s a very specific claim, that if doubling CO2 gives us 3 degrees, quadrupling CO2 gives us 6 degrees. That suggests there’s little to worry about. But when I paste his words into Google, the first hit is a denial site. So I’d like to see your source.

    Perhaps you and RichardC talking about “instantaneous” change — double CO2 with no other change whatsoever? Or are you talking about climate sensitivity?

    [Response: Not following the point of argument here. A climate sensitivity of 3ºC to doubling CO2 (which is very much the 'best estimate' from IPCC et al), does indeed imply that 4xCO2 would give 6ºC (baring large non-linearities). Why is this "little to worry about"? (for reference the LGM was only about 5 to 6ºC cooler than today, and the last time the planet was maybe 2ºC warmer, sea levels were 4 to 6 meters higher (the Eemian)). - gavin]

  490. David B. Benson:

    +6 K globally will be seriously bad, if it comes to pass.
    “Six Degrees” review:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece

  491. Hank Roberts:

    Thanks Gavin, I was looking for a reference to show people who think we won’t or can’t “emit” enough CO2 to get into trouble at those levels.

    This may do: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10787&page=7

    (uncertainties, non-linear changes, and the difference between shorter and longer term numbers for sensitivity)

  492. Hank Roberts:

    PS, here’s a take on the same concern from a blogger I hadn’t come across before, who’s looking at both climate and economics, working at
    Cambridge.

    Sunday, 11 January 2009
    How Sensitive Is The Climate — Why ‘Fast Feedbacks’ are quite slow and ‘Slow Feedbacks’ might be rather fast.
    http://climatephilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-sensitive-is-climate.html

  493. Chris Colose:

    For Update:

    Richard Lindzen has responded here to my original comments. He did not address his not acknowledging of the Edition3 data, but rather claimed he was skeptical of it, still supported negative feedback arguments, and that such adjustments are always made to favor alarmism. I believe the response was weak, but others may feel differently.

    My update on my site is as follows:

    ………

    “Update 3– Lindzen has responded to Anthony Watts at his blog post. I wish that more was to address, but to me he didn’t really say anything meaningful, but that is for readers to make judgments on. Essentially Lindzen has set up the usual attacks that adjustments are always made to favor “alarmism” (which is incorrect, if he bothers to read the standard literature from HadCRUT, GISS, etc on their methods; perhaps if his claim was more specific, he knows it would be that much easier to invalidate). A reduction in the LW flux at the TOA can be interpreted in other ways as well, some might argue for less overall warming in the 20th century for instance.

    Lindzen once again claims that the changes still imply negative feedbacks, which is a rather dubious claim, given the discussion and comparisons with models in Wong et al. I also do not believe the full range of sensitivity can be evaluated from these results, but even so, the justification for strong negative feedbacks has vanished.”

  494. Mark:

    “Hmm – and how about if nuclear is made responsible for providing its own insurance up to the amount of any liabilities?”

    Heck, when the US administration put forward the idea that maybe they’d be able to take tax breaks and incentives off the table for nuclear power (because it was now commercially viable), the nuke industry said that without these payments, there would be nobody willing to put money up for new nuclear power stations.

    Todd can’t be requesting we break the free market, can he?

  495. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Todd Bandrowsky, making up another cool-sounding fact, writes:

    More people have been killed from wind power accidents than from nuclear accidents in the first world.

    By my count, there have been several dozen fatalities in the US from nuclear accidents and one from wind power, which involved a guy falling off a tower. The nuclear industry’s oft-repeated lie that “no civilian deaths have ever occurred due to nuclear power” depends on defining plant workers as not being civilians. And the fact that Chernobyl wasn’t in the First World doesn’t exactly make me feel confident of nuclear safety here, not after half the core of TMI-2 melted in 1979.

    I tried to list a comprehensive collection of nuclear accident reports involving fatalities here, but it got flagged as spam. Maybe I’ll put it up as a web page. People ought to know. The nuclear industry has been getting away with the Big Lie technique for too long.

  496. Barton Paul Levenson:

    James, you are comparing capital costs and ignoring fuel, labor, and operating costs. That’s how wind power ends up COSTING LESS than power from nuclear plants. You don’t have to pay for the wind, you don’t need plant operators for a windmill, and your costs involve mainly cleaning and repairing on an as-needed basis.

  497. Hank Roberts:

    Tangentially, apropos of someone’s posting earlier, QWERTY was an improvement on the original arrangement, done to speed up typing:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~dcrehr/whyqwert.html

  498. Hank Roberts:

    > reports involving fatalities
    http://www.google.com/search?q=nuclear+accident+reports+involving+fatalities

  499. Todd Bandrowsky:

    Todd can’t be requesting we break the free market, can he?

    The supposed deregulation of electric markets was a mistake.

    There, I said it!

    You can’t rationally invent markets where none naturally exist any more than you can suppress markets where they do exist. To have a market, you need to people to actually shop for the sorts of tangible goods that match their needs, and, be able to make decisions based on price, and unbundling was not done in such a way as to allow real competition.

    If you really wanted to have a genuine electric market, then you can have generation in every house and all the inefficiencies that go along with it. But once we started wiring everyone to a relative small number of vast power plants, it becomes essentially a government enterprise, regardless of whether that government foolishly delegates its power to shareholders or not.

    I’m not one of these typical wingers that is automatically opposed to a federally run enterprise. We have to remember that the real purpose of free enterprise, from the government’s perspective, is to perpetuate its nation. I use the word Sovereign because this note is even more basic than the choice of one’s political system and its so basic we’ve forgotten it and on both sides of the aisle.

    It is always better for the Sovereign to let someone else risk their money, than it is for the Sovereign to risk his. If all of the Sovereign’s subjects risk their money, and only some succeed in a given enterprise, then the Sovereign benefits. On the other hand, if the Sovereign is engaged in all matters of speculation with his own purse, then his government will ultimately collapse.

    The line of having the government do commerce versus having the private sector do commerce, is really and properly not about some absolutely morality because absolute morality is foolish. IT’s risk management with the goal of providing the best to the people. It’s about, having the land be the most prosperous for the people and the dividing line is how much risk the Sovereign must absorb to do that. If you have a public utility, the actual risk is low, and its reasonable to think he should have some public service, the profits of which are used to fulfill the Sovereigns ends and invariably means a redistribution of wealth. Basically, it’s OK for the government to have some state run or quasi state run enterprises if the risk of their failure is low, and they can engage in some form of rent seeking for the purposes of redistributing wealth for the overall management of the state.

    I choose the word redistribution of wealth exactly, because, my conservative friends seem to have forgotten that anyone who acquires any sort of wealth seems to redistribute it. But, the main thing is, that, mushy headed capitaly or commy ideas are not how to think about what works in government or the private sector, but, rather, what minimizes the risk exposure of the government while at the same time maximizing the return to it through taxes. There’s no moral difference between the government building a bridge and charging tolls for it to build the chief overseer’s brother a deck, versus the private sector building a toy pony, and making profits on it, to build the chief overseer’s brother a deck.

  500. James:

    Nick Gotts Says (12 April 2009 at 3:59 PM):

    “Hmm – and how about if nuclear is made responsible for providing its own insurance up to the amount of any liabilities? But then, AFAIK, there’s no insurance company anywhere willing to provide this at any price.”

    Don’t they? It’s a fund set up by the government, as are for instance Social Security & Medicare, which the power plant operators have been paying into for decades. Which, of course, leads off into wondering where all the money has gone. Same place as the Social Security Trust Fund, maybe?

    It seems fair enough to me, thoug, as long as other forms of generation are held to the same standard. How much do you think an insurance company would charge to insure fossil fuel plant operators against potential liability for climate change? How much would it cost to insure hydroelectric dams?

    That’s really one of the points I’m trying to get at here: you’re all going on with the “mote in your brother’s eye” thing, claiming this other technology you detest is only viable because of subsidies, but ignoring the subsidies that the technology you like is getting. You need to take your idologies, all of them, and put them where PV technology would be no use at all.

    Barton Paul Levenson Says (12 April 2009 at 7:24 PM):

    “By my count, there have been several dozen fatalities in the US from nuclear accidents and one from wind power, which involved a guy falling off a tower.”

    How about giving us fatality rates per MWatt-hr generated? That seems the only fair way to make a comparison.

    Barton Paul Levenson Says (12 April 2009 at 7:29 PM):

    “…you don’t need plant operators for a windmill, and your costs involve mainly cleaning and repairing on an as-needed basis.”

    You really think that? You just stick them up, and they work? No maintenance needed, no system operators to meld the variable wind turbine output into the grid? Somehow I doubt that. See for instance http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/econ/oandm.htm and http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/09/60-percent-united-states-wind-turbines-behind-on-maintenance.php

    But you do seem to have missed my point, because you’re still throwing out vague asservations, rather than providing even ballpark numbers for operating costs.

  501. James:

    David B. Benson Says (12 April 2009 at 3:04 PM):

    “Well, in an earlier post, I did provide cost figures and a link to the study commissioned by the State of California.”

    I did look at your link, but everything seems to be buried in PowerPoint presentations and such, which I can’t view without major hassles. (I use Linux, and in the rare instances where I have to do presentations, do them in Latex. Microsoft is another country, and I don’t speak the language.) Which is to say that I don’t actually know what assumptions are going into those numbers, but can only guess that they’re for “incremental” costs – adding watts to an operating grid that has dispatchable baseload generation.

    That is, you’ve got solar thermal generating during the daytime but not at night, so when it becomes a major fraction of generation on the grid, you have to essentially generate twice as much during the day, and store the excess for use at night. Thus you have to double the cost (and that assumes free, 100% efficient overnight storage) to put it on an equal footing with nuclear. Likewise with wind, you have to multiply by 3 or so, again with storage. That puts wind at about 26.7, solar thermal at 37.9, vs nuclear’s 15.3.

    Of course I could be wrong in my guesses, but even using their figures directly shows wind less than half the cost of nuclear, and solar thermal around 80% (and no numbers for PV solar). Those aren’t the order-of-magnitude differences that some posters have been implying (in opposite directions!), but are in roughly the same ballpark. Which is what I’d expect: if some technology really was an order of magnitude cheaper than the rest, people would be jumping at it.

  502. Mark:

    “I did look at your link, but everything seems to be buried in PowerPoint presentations and such, which I can’t view without major hassles.”

    Which can be read appropriately by OpenOffice.org.

    It’s a free package and probably already installed.

  503. Nick Gotts:

    James@500,
    My point wasn’t actually an anti-nuclear one, but I didn’t make it clear: it was that there is no way of making a straightforward economic comparison between different forms of electricity generation; and no such thing as the “free market” which is often called upon by commenters here to make the choice between different low-carbon alternatives. The choice between these (or rather, possible combinations of them) is, inevitably, going to be made primarily at policy level, as the alternatives require different types of physical and institutional infrastructure, and have different risks, which cannot be compared in any straightforward numerical fashion. In the case of nuclear power, one of its drawbacks (which it shares with large-scale hydro) is the potential for disasters from a single installation causing thousands of deaths, and devastation over a wide area.

  504. Nick Gotts:

    “Todd can’t be requesting we break the free market, can he?” – Mark

    Well actually I agree with Todd that “free markets” in electricity supply are a myth. (In fact, I think the whole concept of a “free market” is an ideological mystification – all markets depend on the maintenance of a physical and institutional support system, the shape of which largely determines who sells what to whom) but this is most obvious in areas such as electricity supply,

  505. Joe Lassiter:

    Re: Chris Colose (493)

    Chris and Gavin,

    Lindzen’s position on climate data and the public process for updating that data says volumes. It is so different than my own reading of the world.

    Thank you very much for starting this discussion with Lindzen. I have learned as much about the pace of science and the debate surrounding that science as I have from any single piece.

  506. PeteB:

    The debate here started me reading round on energy policy

    The Royal Society’s response to Department of Trade and
    Industry Review of UK Energy Policy : http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=21185

    CCS http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=29510 and http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=29440

    and slightly tangentially, managing plutonium http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=32216

  507. Todd Bandrowsky:

    In fact, according to:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000

    Utilities have been applied for licensing to build 12 AP-1000 reactor in the USA as of Nov 2008. This means that this mini-bit of nuclear resurgence is already enough to provide the same power as half of all the presently contracted wind turbines in the USA. If you figure 12 reactors is roughly 12GW, that’s the same as 12,000 turbines, give or take, assuming full wind all the time.

  508. walter crain:

    pardon me, perhaps a bit off-topic, but does realclimate have an article/thread addressing the myth that the “recent cooling” (since 98′s record highs) means global warming is over?

    [Response: See our previous posts here and here. -mike]

  509. HF:

    James wrote:

    “Now I think actual generation from wind runs about 1/3 of nameplate (if anyone has a better figure, feel free to correct me), so to meet the same capacity factor as nuclear (and ignoring issues such as dispatchability) 1 GWatt of wind would cost somewhere between $3.28 billion and $7.11 billion.”

    1/3 of nameplate, or a 33% capacity factor, is a good approximation of current turbine production. The capacity factor varies widely per project, and is increasing.

    Average project cost per project in 2007 was $1.71 billion/nameplate GW. Projected costs for 2008 projects were up to $1.92, again in the range you indicated.

    So, for a GW of wind production three times the (nameplate) turbines and three times the capital project costs are necessary.

    But BPL is right. The project capital cost is just a portion of the input necessary to produce a kwh of electricity, and capital represents a higher percentage of the wind production. Relatively few additional inputs are necessary, and that difference is reflected in the busbar numbers provided by David Bensen.

    In California, the average cost of each kwh of electricity, generated by each of its underutilized turbines, was/is some nine cents. Three turbines are not required to produce a given kwh of electricity.

    This DOE presentation has cost information including O&M and regional break downs:

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/wiser_data_report_summary_2007.pdf

    Check this for transmission issues:

    http://eetd.lbl.gov/EA/EMP/reports/lbnl-1471e.pdf

  510. Chris Colose:

    walter crain (508),

    There is also a peer-reviewed piece coming in GRL addressing the issue of cooling on timescales of a decade or less. A quick introduction at http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/decadal-scale-coolings-not-all-that-unusual/

  511. walter crain:

    thanks guys – that’s perfect.

  512. James:

    HF Says (13 April 2009 at 8:53 AM):

    “But BPL is right. The project capital cost is just a portion of the input necessary to produce a kwh of electricity…”

    Sure, but until someone gets the actual numbers, or reasonable estimates, it still (from this end, anyway) seems more like ideology than engineering :-)

    “In California, the average cost of each kwh of electricity, generated by each of its underutilized turbines, was/is some nine cents. Three turbines are not required to produce a given kwh of electricity.”

    True when wind is less than 1% of total generation. Not so true when it’s around 10%, and completely false when it’s 100%. That’s something a lot of people miss, the cost of providing reliability from intermittent sources is far from being linear.

  513. SecularAnimist:

    Re: the pros and cons of various energy technologies, I commend to your attention a peer-reviewed study by Standford University researcher Mark Jacobson:

    Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security
    Mark Z. Jacobson
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Stanford University
    Stanford, California
    Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 148-173

    From the abstract:

    This paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering other impacts of the proposed solutions, such as on water supply, land use, wildlife, resource availability, thermal pollution, water chemical pollution, nuclear proliferation, and undernutrition. Nine electric power sources and two liquid fuel options are considered. The electricity sources include solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The liquid fuel options include corn-ethanol (E85) and cellulosic-E85. To place the electric and liquid fuel sources on an equal footing, we examine their comparative abilities to address the problems mentioned by powering new-technology vehicles, including battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs), and flex-fuel vehicles run on E85 …

    … In sum, use of wind, CSP, geothermal, tidal, PV, wave, and hydro to provide electricity for BEVs and HFCVs and, by extension, electricity for the residential, industrial, and commercial sectors, will result in the most benefit among the options considered. The combination of these technologies should be advanced as a solution to global warming, air pollution, and energy security. Coal-CCS and nuclear offer less benefit thus represent an opportunity cost loss, and the biofuel options provide no certain benefit and the greatest negative impacts.

  514. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (13 April 2009 at 12:45 PM):

    “Re: the pros and cons of various energy technologies, I commend to your attention a peer-reviewed study by Standford University researcher Mark Jacobson:”

    On a quick read-through, I notice a few problematic assumptions. First, there’s the whole opportunity cost calculation, where nuclear’s assigned an arbitrary 6-year regulatory delay, while wind, solar &c are given a value of zero. That hardly seems reasonable. One ought to at least consider a contrary assumption that regulatory obstacles would be removed in the face of an urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions.

    The real problem, though, seems to be this: “Because the production of nuclear weapons material is occurring only in countries that have developed civilian nuclear energy programs…” That’s demonstrably false, both historically – the US & USSR both developed nuclear weapons well in advance of civilian power programs – and in the present, as North Korea and Iran only pretend to civilian programs as a smokescreen.

    So if you start from false assumptions, can you hope to come up with correct results? Or can a suspicious mind, like mine, reasonably suppose that the assumption was inserted in order to obtain the desired result?

  515. Mark:

    “First, there’s the whole opportunity cost calculation, where nuclear’s assigned an arbitrary 6-year regulatory delay, while wind, solar &c are given a value of zero. That hardly seems reasonable.”

    Why?

    Wind farms have really one one method of denial of planning: It will spoil the view.

    Nuclear power stations have national security concerns.

    6 years sounds a little optimistic to me, in this day and age.

  516. Mark:

    “Sure, but until someone gets the actual numbers, or reasonable estimates, it still (from this end, anyway) seems more like ideology than engineering”

    The actual numbers have been given before, James.

    Real systems with real running costs (including repairs, cleaning and running).

    Nukes 15.

    Wind 8.

    Not seeing the figures posted seems to be idealogical blindness to me.

  517. Chris Winter:

    Barton Paul Levenson (#195): “I tried to list a comprehensive collection of nuclear accident reports involving fatalities here, but it got flagged as spam. Maybe I’ll put it up as a web page. People ought to know. The nuclear industry has been getting away with the Big Lie technique for too long.

    A few numbers from the World Nuclear Association:

    Coal……….. 6,400
    Natural gas…. 1,200
    Hydro………. 4,000
    Nuclear…….. 31

    The numbers are for “immediate fatalities 1970-1992″
    Source:
    http://world-nuclear.org/info/default.aspx?id=15612&terms=INES
    Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors
    —-
    I did some work on a database of nuclear accidents of all types (radiological as well as reactor):
    http://www.chris-winter.com/Digressions/Nuke-Goofs/NukIntro.html

  518. Todd Bandrowsky:

    495… “By my count, there have been several dozen fatalities in the US from nuclear accidents and one from wind power, which involved a guy falling off a tower.”

    Um, how many years has wind been used as a form of power, in sails, windmills, all sorts of stuff, and you say that less than 35 people have died from it. If you wanted to get picky about it, you could technically move all Katrina deaths into the death from wind power column… all the tornados, etc. If we’re going to take the tack that any radiation is bad, then, we ought to way the safety of handling radioactive stuff against the safety of wind, and well, the wind is not safe.

  519. Nick Gotts:

    SecularAnimist – thanks for the reference!
    I’d have to agree with James that a zero-regulatory delay for wind turbines is dubious – there’s certainly organised opposition to them in the UK (involving, among others, well-known nuclear industry boosters). On the other hand, James’s claim that
    “Because the production of nuclear weapons material is occurring only in countries that have developed civilian nuclear energy programs…-” is demonstrably false, is also very dubious. Since this statement is present tense, the fact that the US and USSR developed nuclear weapons before nuclear power decades ago does not contradict it. Iran is not (yet) producing nuclear weapons material, anda tleast according to wikipedia, North Korea’s nuclear programme was initially aimed at civil power production (it has no oil deposits and substantial uranium). In any case, whether a country’s civilian nuclear energy program is “pretend” or not is irrelevant: the fact that such pretence can be made as a cover for nuclear weapons production illustrates the undeniable fact that the technologies, skills and materials for the two are inextricable.

    Todd Bandrowsky: don’t. be. silly. We’re talking about electrical power generation, not sailing ships or natural hazards such as hurricanes.

  520. Mark:

    On the time and effort of production facility build-out, I ask this question (rhetorically):

    What happens if there’s an earthquake underneath a windfarm?

    What happens if there’s an earthquake underneath a nuclear power station?

    +++++++++++++++++

    The concrete bunkers for a nuclear reactor have to be strong enough to withstand a terrorist attack from a fully-laden super-jumbo jet. And one success means 100% reduction. And a nuclear fallout of a huge “dirty bomb”.

    A wind farm covers a larger area than the reactor unit does and so an attack has to be a swarm. Much harder to coordinate, less effect when it happens.

    No waste reprocessing from wind.

    No security demands.

    No risk of nuclear proliferation.

    A 6 year lag over wind farms seems rather slim, doesn’t it.

  521. Hank Roberts:

    Ocean pH change, three new studies:
    http://deepseanews.com/2009/04/ocean-acidification-not-good-for-living/

    That illustrates the use of the “Research Blogging” system and icon, Hat tip to Deltoid, which features it.

    Here’s the Research Blogging site search for climate change. Lots there, several pages of good reading relevant to the subject:

    http://www.researchblogging.org/post-search/list?search_text=climate

    Recommended reading; and as a blogger you can adopt the system too.

  522. David Horton:

    Speaking of advocacy, I understand Ian Plimer’s book was launched today. The review I saw suggests that this will be 200,000 words which will become the denialist’s bible. And conversely appear to repeat every denialist argument (CO2 is good for us all etc). Stand by for big chunks to be repeated on global warming threads everywhere. I despair.

  523. Kevin McKinney:

    Don’t despair, Dave. These folks are out of touch with reality, and this will become more and more obvious. (I know, it should be adequately obvious now. But the well of credulity is not infinitely full.)

  524. Jim Bouldin:

    “If you wanted to get picky about it, you could technically move all Katrina deaths into the death from wind power column… all the tornados, etc…the wind is not safe.”

    No, if you wanted to get ridiculous about it, you could do that.

  525. SecularAnimist:

    James wrote regarding the Jacobson study I cited: “On a quick read-through … nuclear’s assigned an arbitrary 6-year regulatory delay, while wind, solar &c are given a value of zero.”

    I think your read-through may have been too quick. The “regulatory delay” for nuclear is not “arbitrarily assigned”, it is based on actual recent history:

    In March, 2007, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first request for a site permit in 30 yr. This process took 3.5 yr. The time to review and approve a construction permit is another 2 yr and the time between the construction permit approval and issue is about 0.5 yr. Thus, the minimum time for preconstruction approvals (and financing) is 6 yr.

    If you believe those times are incorrect, then find some other data that you think is more accurate than what Jacobson has obtained from the NRC. But Jacobson’s times were not “arbitrarily” assigned.

    Nor did he “assign” a “value of zero” to wind and solar:

    The development period [for a wind farm], which includes the time required to identify a site, purchase or lease the land, monitor winds, install transmission, negotiate a power-purchase agreement, and obtain permits, can take from 0.5–5 yr, with more typical times from 1–3 yr.

    The Jacobson study is worthy of a more careful reading than you seem to have given it — particularly the section on opportunity costs.

    As to your comment on the relationship between the nuclear power industry and proliferation of weapons technology, what the US and the USSR did almost 60 years ago, before the nuclear power industry existed, does not seem relevant to the situation today. And your characterization of North Korea and Iran as “only pretending to civilian programs as a smokescreen” for developing nuclear weapons is exactly why the proliferation of nuclear power technology is a problem: because the same basic technological capabilities, e.g. uranium enrichment, that a nation needs to develop for a civilian nuclear power industry, are the ones needed to develop nuclear weapons. There is no practical way for a civilian nuclear capability to NOT be a “smokescreen” for any nation that wishes to develop nuclear weapons.

    Having said that, the very real and serious problems and risks of nuclear power are not my primary concern, because there is no need to address them, because there is no need for nuclear power. We can obtain all the electricity we can possibly use from wind and solar, and we can phase out both coal and nuclear.

    In the short run, nuclear power will, unfortunately, probably divert precious resources from investments in efficiency and the rapid deployment of wind and solar generation that we urgently need. In the longer term, nuclear power is a dead end, and will eventually be phased out because it simply cannot compete economically with wind and solar generated electricity.

  526. Hank Roberts:

    Hey, don’t forget all the harm done to, by, and for people using sailing ships…..

  527. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (14 April 2009 at 9:50 AM):

    “The Jacobson study is worthy of a more careful reading than you seem to have given it — particularly the section on opportunity costs.”

    Possibly. Unfortunately the calendar intervenes, and Form 1040 and its many siblings are taking priority. However, I’ll spare a couple of minutes to address major points.

    First, I understood the “opportunity cost” figure to include everything from startup to actually delivering watts to grid, not just regulatory delays. Here you have one difference between nuclear & solar/wind that I don’t think was accurately represented. It may take 5 or 10 years to complete a 1 GWatt plant, while you can order a couple KW of solar panels and get them delivered by UPS. But when you start talking about installing enough solar/wind to make a dent in US fossil-fuel generation, you’ve got the lead time of building more plants to produce the panels/turbines, getting those plants approved, doing all the installation work. I could at best only make a rough guess as to how much time this would take, but I’m sure it’s not zero.

    Second, the 6-year regulatory delay for nuclear represents a policy deliberately intended to block nuclear construction. It’s not unreasonable to assume that in the face of an AGW emergency this policy would change, so both extremes should be examined.

    Finally, on the proliferation question, you seem to have the assumption of “nukes everywhere”, while I’m working on the assumption of nukes in the US. Any real discussion of the distinction gets us off into geopolitics, so I’ll just say that this seems to be a non-issue. There are examples of countries – Canada, Japan, etc – with civilian nuclear power but no weapons programs, and examples enough to show that any country which wants to develop nuclear weapons can do so without civilian nuclear power, and probably do it quicker & cheaper.

  528. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (14 April 2009 at 9:50 AM):

    “… the very real and serious problems and risks of nuclear power are not my primary concern, because there is no need to address them, because there is no need for nuclear power.”

    Or in other words: “Don’t confuse me with data, my mind’s made up already.” :-)

  529. Hank Roberts:

    You left a few words out:

    > a policy deliberately intended to block
    premature, slipshot, poorly planned, rushed
    > nuclear construction.

    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/contract/cr6933/cr6933-appendices.pdf

    There’s an example of doing it right.
    Slowly, carefully, and with thought to consequences.

  530. SecularAnimist:

    James wrote: “Or in other words: ‘Don’t confuse me with data, my mind’s made up already.’”

    It’s not that at all.

    If nuclear power were an essential, necessary and supremely effective solution to reducing CO2 emissions — as some nuclear enthusiasts would have it, “THE SOLUTION” — then it would make sense to argue about whether and how we need to deal with the very real problems it presents, including toxic pollution from the nuclear fuel cycle, the sequestration of spent fuel, nuclear proliferation, the risks of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, reactor safety, etc.

    But if nuclear power is neither a necessary nor particularly effective way to reduce emissions, then there is no need to argue about those problems. In that case, we don’t need to deal with those problems at all, because we don’t need to have them, because we don’t need nuclear power.

    That’s why you will find me arguing that nuclear power is both unnecessary, and an ineffective way to reduce emissions, and not spending much time on the more common arguments over its dangers and risks.

  531. Mark:

    “Finally, on the proliferation question, you seem to have the assumption of “nukes everywhere”, ”

    Why did the US threaten to invade Iran over its civilian nuclear power plans?

    Because they see it as “nukes everywhere”.

    The UN took a similar stance and for a similar reason.

    Since they’re the ones who will decide whether a nuke station will get built, this would indicate that most of the world won’t be ALLOWED to use nuclear power to replace fossil fuels.

    Since they also have to consider the same problems when creating new stations internally, this would also seem to be an impediment.

  532. MarkB:

    It seems this site is always addressing dubious claims in the contrarian blogosphere. In order to separate the standard debunking of the political-oriented blogosphere from posts that address important scientific issues, might I suggest a spin-off of RealClimate – perhaps something called ClimateContrarianAudit? I suppose skepticalscience.com does this fairly well.

  533. James:

    Mark Says (14 April 2009 at 3:42 PM):

    “Why did the US threaten to invade Iran over its civilian nuclear power plans?”

    As I said, we can’t really discuss this without getting into the sort of geopolitical discussions that won’t be allowed here, but the answer is that the US never threatened anything over Iran’s CIVILIAN nuclear power plans, because Iran doesn’t have any such plans, only a smokescreen. [ok guys, lets just leave it at that. -moderator]

  534. Hank Roberts:

    > dubious claims … skepticalscience
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    That’s good; so are others in the sidebar, notably:
    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered

    (Both links under Other Opinions, right sidebar).

    Worth a look:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/t64345806wmm57u1/

  535. Mark:

    “t the answer is that the US never threatened anything over Iran’s CIVILIAN nuclear power plans,”

    That answer was only started by the existence of a CIVILIAN nuclear power plan.

    No evidence was ever made that there was a military option. The purification technology they had wasn’t good enough to make weapons-grade material.

    The US just assumed that nuclear processing == weapons grade nuclear processing.

  536. Barton Paul Levenson:

    James writes:

    But when you start talking about installing enough solar/wind to make a dent in US fossil-fuel generation, you’ve got the lead time of building more plants to produce the panels/turbines, getting those plants approved, doing all the installation work.

    I have news for you, James — you’d also need to create that stuff to install enough nuclear to make a dent in US fossil-fuel generation. Enough plants to build the parts for 1,000 nuclear power plants don’t exist, either.

  537. Nick Gotts:

    The UK government has just announced its proposed sites for a new generation of nuclear power plants. Despite the fact that it has passed legislation curbing local rights to object, the first plant is not due to begin producing electricity until 2018.

  538. Hank Roberts:

    If you want facts about energy development costs, try
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/04/11/climbing-mount-improbable/
    ReCaptcha says:
    “posted margins”

  539. James:

    Mark Says (15 April 2009 at 4:59 AM):

    “That answer was only started by the existence of a CIVILIAN nuclear power plan.

    No evidence was ever made that there was a military option.”

    (Sigh) I don’t really want to get into this sort of geopolitical discussion, even if the moderators tolerate it. However, here’s a link to a set of maps of countries that have nuclear power reactors: http://www.insc.anl.gov/pwrmaps/ Perhaps my memory is at fault, but I don’t think the US has had major problems with nuclear programs in Argentina, Brazil, Canada… Do you suppose that might have something to do with the fact that those countries aren’t controlled by religious fanatics who’ve openly stated their intention of committing genocide?

  540. SecularAnimist:

    Hank Roberts wrote:

    If you want facts about energy development costs, try
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/04/11/climbing-mount-improbable/

    Barry Brook is certainly an enthusiastic advocate for nuclear power.

    But there aren’t really any “facts about energy development costs” in that article.

    Basically that article seems to offer two things:

    1. A chart from the International Energy Agency showing “fuel shares of total world energy supply” as of 2007, which Brook asserts shows the impossibility of what he calls “technosolar” energy (wind, solar thermal, solar PV, wave) making any significant contribution to world energy supply in any time frame that is relevant to mitigating global warming.

    2. A discussion of the results of Germany’s efforts to scale up wind and solar electricity generation, which Brook asserts shows the impossibility of any nation scaling up wind and solar to significant levels.

    There is no discussion of “energy development costs”. Brook does talk about Germany’s “massive public subsidization of wind power” but somehow avoids talking about the much more massive public subsidization of nuclear power over the past 50 years in the USA.

    And there are problems with both of what I take to be his main points in that article.

    His suggestion that Germany’s experience can be directly extrapolated to show what the USA might achieve with renewable energy is questionable. The USA has vastly more wind and solar energy resources than does Germany. For example, according to the NREL, the gross wind energy resources of the mid-Atlantic region alone exceed the total output of all US coal-fired power plants. The same is true of other regional offshore and onshore wind power resources, as well as the solar energy resources of the Southwest. Germany does not have such resources.

    With regard to the 2007 IEA chart that he presents, consider the following criticisms of the IEA’s positions on renewable energy:

    The international body that advises most major governments across the world on energy policy is obstructing a global switch to renewable power because of its ties to the oil, gas and nuclear sectors, a group of politicians and scientists claims today.

    The experts, from the Energy Watch group, say the International Energy Agency (IEA) publishes misleading data on renewables, and that it has consistently underestimated the amount of electricity generated by wind power in its advice to governments. They say the IEA shows “ignorance and contempt” towards wind energy, while promoting oil, coal and nuclear as “irreplaceable” technologies.

    [...]

    Today’s report compares past predictions about the growth of wind power, made by the IEA and others, with the capacity of wind turbines actually installed.

    It says: “By comparing historic forecasts on wind power with reality, we find that all official forecasts were much too low.”

    In 1998, the IEA predicted that global wind electricity generation would total 47.4GW by 2020. This figure was reached in December 2004, the report says. In 2002, the IEA revised its estimate to 104GW wind by 2020 – a capacity that had been exceeded by last summer.

    In 2007, net additions of wind power across the world were more than four-fold the average IEA estimate from its 1995-2004 predictions, the report says. “The IEA numbers were neither empirically nor theoretically based,” it says.

    [...]

    Today’s report says the number of wind turbines installed over the last decade has grown by 30% annually, and total windpower capacity is more than 90GW – the equivalent of 90 conventional coal or nuclear power stations. It adds that the boom in wind energy is “so far barely touched by any sign of recession or financial crisis”.

    If current trends continue, the report claims wind capacity could reach 7,500GW by 2025 – making half of all new power projects wind or solar. Conventional power stations could be phased out completely by 2037, it claims.

    Brook is also an enthusiastic proponent of “Integral Fast Reactor” nuclear breeder reactors, about which his site offers extravagant claims, but which — unlike wind turbines, concentrating solar thermal power plants, and photovoltaics, all of which are mainstream technologies being installed in large numbers today — don’t actually exist as a proven technology ready to be deployed now.

  541. Brian Dodge:

    Todd Bandrowsky Says @ 11 April 2009 at 10:02 PM
    “I leave it as a challenge for readers to calculate the amount of lead and acid or lithium, you’d need to store 40 MW in batteries.”

    assuming he meant 40MW-hours
    567 w-h per battery (45A-h @ 12.6V) (my car battery)
    70547 batteries.

    3.82e+12 watt-hour annual US consumption (wikipedia)
    10465753425 w-h daily consumption
    18458119 batteries for 1 days US electrical consumption @ 100% discharge
    184581190 batteries for 1 days US electrical consumption @ 10% discharge
    250851833 registered passenger vehicles in the US. (US Bureau of Transit Statistics for 2006 via wikipedia)

    All we need to do is have a smart grid that we can connect our auto batteries into when we are not driving them (which is most of the time; and when we’re driving, we’re not drawing power from the grid).

  542. Hank Roberts:

    Sec, read the whole blog, not just the one topic.
    He’s inviting exactly the kind of information you have, that you don’t have a place to put. Rather than dropping it kind of randomly into other subjects, why not pull it together, check the citations, and see if he’d like to put it in his collection? He’s focused on what you want to talk about and welcomes solid information. I can’t speak for him, I’m just giving you my opinion here of course (wry grin). But ask eh?

  543. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (15 April 2009 at 2:34 PM):

    “…the much more massive public subsidization of nuclear power over the past 50 years in the USA.”

    Which is another point where I think we could use some actual figures. What exactly constitutes a subsidy in this context, and how much is it? Funding basic R&D? If that’s the case, then there are an awful lot of things that get subsidized. Disaster insurance? But don’t (just for a few examples) developers who build shoddy houses in hurricane-prone areas, people who decide to live in a city that’s below sea level and subject to storm surges, the millions who live along the San Andreas fault, and anyone downstream of a major hydroelectric dam all benefit from the same sort of “subsidy”? With the fundamental difference that, unlike nuclear plant owners, the developers &c don’t have to pay for their subsidy.

    Or for a similar case, why was it apparently OK for the government to fund & operate all those hydroelectric power projects?

    Brian Dodge Says (15 April 2009 at 4:14 PM):

    “All we need to do is have a smart grid that we can connect our auto batteries into…”

    If you want people to do this, I’d suggest spending some R&D money on developing batteries that don’t deteriorate over many charge/discharge cycles. Otherwise you run into an effective cost (to be borne by the car owners?) of replacing some fraction of the storage capacity every year.

    Not that I think the problem is insoluble: high-speed flywheels spinning in vacuum might do the trick, if every house had PV panels and a flywheel storage unit that’d store a couple of days of power. But of course such things still cost money, and you have to add those costs into the total for a fully solar/wind system. There’s more to such a system than just buying X watts worth of solar panels.

  544. Mark:

    “Which is another point where I think we could use some actual figures. What exactly constitutes a subsidy in this context, and how much is it?”

    Odd that you now ask for figures.

    Whatever it was, the notion of its removal was enough for the Nuclear lobby to state that no new nuclear power stations would be built without it.

    If it wasn’t a significant amount, why the doom and gloom over its removal?

  545. Kevin McKinney:

    While we are on the subject of renewable energy, the usual suspects are pushing back against the “green jobs” initiatives with what appears to be a smear campaign aimed at the Spanish experience in deployment of renewable energy, especially wind power. Most reports have viewed that experience as a success story, but the new report claims serious net job losses.

    Here is a link to a skeptical (in the true sense!) overview of what will surely be a new denialist talking point:

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200904150032?f=h_latest

    “. . .the study doesn’t actually identify those jobs allegedly destroyed by renewable-energy spending. What the study actually says is that government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending.”

    I haven’t had a chance yet to look hard at the study, but it appears to me (based on this story) to be based on counterfactual assumptions.

  546. Kevin McKinney:

    Further to my previous post, here is a graphic on the Spanish unemployment rate, which shows why the Spanish populace isn’t very restive about this supposed “employment disaster.”

  547. Mark:

    “If you want people to do this, I’d suggest spending some R&D money on developing batteries that don’t deteriorate over many charge/discharge cycles.”

    Why? Lead acid batteries deteriorate, but recycling them is childs play.

  548. James:

    Mark Says (16 April 2009 at 5:12 AM):

    “Odd that you now ask for figures.”

    Why odd, when the ongoing topic of the (drifted) thread has been figures? Seems like a natural enough question to me. Enough so that I’ve been asking it in various forms whenever the subject arises.

    So how about an answer? What exactly does this “massive subsidy” consist of? Is there a “nuclear power subsidy” line item in the federal budget? Or is it just one of those handy propaganda memes (like “Americans want big cars”) that examination shows to have little basis in fact?

    “Lead acid batteries deteriorate, but recycling them is childs play.”

    Yes, let’s let our kids play at lead recycling :-)

    Such issues aside, it’s simple economics. Say your electric car’s batteries would last 10 years under normal driving use. Put them to work in a “smart grid”, they might see twice as many charge/discharge cycles, and last 5 years. That imposes a cost on the car owner. If a car’s batteries, even manufactured from recycled materials, cost $10K: the owner would be paying an extra $1K per year, no? That battery storage isn’t free. There’s a cost that has to be paid by someone.

  549. Mark:

    “Yes, let’s let our kids play at lead recycling”

    Child labour is illegal in the UK.

    What in a lead battery is “used up”?

  550. James:

    Mark Says (16 April 2009 at 2:21 PM):

    “Child labour is illegal in the UK.”

    Sure, which is why a lot of batteries get shipped to places like Senegal for recycling: http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Tech%2Band%2BScience/Story/STIStory_321794.html

    “What in a lead battery is “used up”?”

    “Used up” is the wrong word. I am not a battery chemist, but IIRC the lead combines with the sulfate in the acid to produce a lead sulfate and electricity. Recharging reverses the reaction, but it’s not 100% successful, so over time you get a buildup of sulfate and a battery that doesn’t hold charge.

    Regardless of the exact reaction, lead-acid batteries (and all other chemistries, AFAIK) do wear out over time. Why else do you suppose every auto parts store would have a shelf of replacement ones?

  551. Mark:

    ““Used up” is the wrong word.”

    Then there’s 100% recycling possible, isn’t there.

    Unlike coal, oil or unstable atoms, where they are used up by the extraction of the energy from them, there is nothing used up in a lead-acid battery.

    So the lead-acid battery can be reused perpetually.

    It will take energy to reverse or undo the changes but 100% of the lead is still lead. Acid can be remade or recovered 100%.

    Why then is “lead acid batteries wear out” mean that lead acid batteries can’t be reused?

  552. Nick Gotts:

    “religious fanatics who’ve openly stated their intention of committing genocide?” – James

    I’m no fan of the Iranian theocrats, but this claim is just nonsense.

  553. Brian Dodge:

    I wasn’t referring to $10k EV batteries backing up the grid. I was pointing out that the existing SLI batteries in the US fleet of passenger autos could supply significant backup power to the nation’s grid. At 10% discharge, they could sustain about 1200 cycles; after they died, they could be replaced for

  554. Brian Dodge:

    (wups forgot about less than symbol)

    less than $200 with a larger capacity battery that could handle 5k cycles, deeper discharge, and still provide the electricity for starting, lighting, ignition.

    Yes, the costs if unreimbursed would be a tax to support renewable energy electrical grid, but they wouldn’t be $1k per year. I would prefer a market where the stored power returned to the grid would be metered and I would get paid for it. Since I’m retired and don’t drive much, I might actually make money providing backup power for profligate electricity users (which would incidentally encourage them to use less).

    “Chicago, Ill. (June 20, 2005) — The lead-acid battery industry, with help from consumers and retailers, recycled 99.2 percent of used battery lead (or 11.7 billion pounds of lead) from 1999 to 2003, according to a new report issued today by Battery Council International (BCI) the industry’s trade association.”
    http://www.leadacidbatteryinfo.org/lead-acid-battery-recycling.htm

    recaptcha oracle says “relation develop”. Twixt my Toyota Matrix and Duke Power?

  555. James:

    Mark Says (17 April 2009 at 4:37 AM):

    “Why then is “lead acid batteries wear out” mean that lead acid batteries can’t be reused?”

    I think you’re being deliberately obtuse. When did I, or anyone, ever suggest that lead-acid batteries (or any other kind) can’t be recycled? The point is that the recycling costs money, and that cost has to be paid & accounted for somewhere when you’re adding up the total cost of the system.

  556. James:

    Nick Gotts Says (17 April 2009 at 7:31 AM):

    “I’m no fan of the Iranian theocrats, but this claim is just nonsense.”

    Oh? Perhaps you should pay more attention to the daily news, or use Google. Took maybe 10 seconds (I’m not a fast typist) to find the first referance (of about 353,000): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300629.html

  557. SecularAnimist:

    Not sure of the relevance of the discussion of lead-acid batteries.

    James referred to battery issues in the context of “electric car batteries” that would be “put to work in a smart grid” for storage purposes, and experience more discharge/recharge cycles as they both charged from and provided power to the grid.

    But modern hybrid-electric cars use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, not lead-acid batteries. And the advanced batteries being developed for electric cars are mostly lithium-ion.

    Which is not to say that there are no issues with those types of batteries, but recycling lead isn’t one of them.

    From a hybrid cars FAQ:

    Q: How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?

    A: The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the carmaker.

    Battery toxicity is a concern, although today’s hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. “Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled,” says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 “bounty” for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

    There’s no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

  558. Doug:

    I don’t have enough insight into the many facets of the system analysis to comment on the meat of this discussion, but I will say that I found the following comment (by Gavin? not sure) in the link above somewhat confusing, if not troubling.

    “I’ve said quite a bit about feedbacks lately and it’s a little old now, but many WUWT commenters still seem confused about how postive feedbacks relate to an unstable system. Lindzen has recently been using the “gas pedal” analogy (not only in Watts’ post, but at the skeptic conference) in which positive feedbacks are supposed to be analogous to someone changing the gas and brake pads in your car. If you want to slow down, you actually speed up. Apparently it follows that climate does not act this way. Actually feedbacks don’t really act this way either. If we let the moving car roll on a flat, frictionless surface (with no influence from the tires or air resistance) in the absence of any net force change, it will roll forever by Newton’s laws. Think of this as some equilibrium condition, with the climate analog being radiative balance. Pushing your gas or brake is more like the “radiative forcing” on the car which essentially puts it off of its current course. Positive feedbacks simply let the planet equilibriate at a higher temperature than the sensitivity from CO2 alone, but the same principle that balance is acheived still applies. Feedbacks go up like a converging power series and therefore never get strong enough to override the fourth power dependence of thermal radiation and trigger a “runaway.” In short, positive feedbacks can be stable and don’t require any runaway scenarios.”

    Your analogy seems irrelevant to a discussion of feedback (at least in the sense of classic control system theory) in that it assumes no external stimulus. Feedback, positive or negative, is a response to perturbation of the system. Your supposition of a frictionless environment with no net force change means there is no perturbation, and hence, no reason to ever push the gas pedal.

    Am I missing something?

    I’m also somewhat confused about the idea of positive feedback not necessarily causing runaway conditions. If one feedback out of many is positive, I agree that the system can be stable. However, if the summation of all feedbacks is positive, it seems to me that it is indeed unstable by defintion.

    Have I got that right?

  559. James:

    SecularAnimist Says (17 April 2009 at 2:29 PM):

    “Not sure of the relevance of the discussion of lead-acid batteries.”

    I think it’s because post #541 calculates the number of lead-acid batteries needed to store a specified amount of power.

    However, the principle applies to all (AFAIK) battery chemistries. They do eventually “wear out”, and will no longer hold a full charge. This is true of NiMH batteries as used in current hybrids. I know, as I had to rebuild the battery pack in my Insight last year, after about 8 years/125K miles. I do have one of the more stressful driving regimes for a hybrid, so most would probably last longer. However, my driving (fully discharging up a mountain, then recharging on the downhill side) is probably typical of what batteries in a load-balancing situation would see.

  560. JamesC:

    This is a first time post and I’m not sure if this is slightly off-topic, but I’m wondering if there is any interest here in producing a chapter by chapter peer review/rebuttal of Ian Plimers’ latest tome? I have a tedious relative who I fear is going ambush me with factoids from this book every time we meet for the next few years. I realise this might be a large task considering the length of the book – perhaps it could be done in the form of a moderated Wiki or something similar (I see that some media commentators have already fallen for the old proof by verbosity ploy).

  561. Mark:

    “However, the principle applies to all (AFAIK) battery chemistries. They do eventually “wear out”, and will no longer hold a full charge.”

    But they don’t “wear out” like coal does.

    So you can take the battery, retrieve ALL the material that is required to make a new battery, and make a new battery.

    Which will then wear out after a lot of use. Which you then take and retrieve ALL the material that is required to make a new battery, and make a new battery.

    Which will then wear out after a lot of use…

    It’s called “recycling”.

    Try that with coal.

  562. Mark:

    “I think you’re being deliberately obtuse. When did I, or anyone, ever suggest that lead-acid batteries (or any other kind) can’t be recycled?”

    When you said they “wear out”.

    That is no problem when you can recycle completely the materials used in the battery to make a new one.

    If you accept that, then why is saying “Lead-acid batteries wear out” a problem? You recycle it.

    Unlike coal.

    You seem to be acting obtuse in insisting that “they wear out” is a problem.

    I’m being obtuse to make you say that you CAN recycle them.

    And now you have, why is it a problem that you have to recycle them? Why is “they wear out” a problem? There isn’t and it’s not. Stop being willfully ignorant and drop a made-up problem.

  563. James:

    Mark Says (18 April 2009 at 5:58 AM):

    “I’m being obtuse to make you say that you CAN recycle them.

    And now you have, why is it a problem that you have to recycle them?”

    You know, you really need to work on your reading comprehension :-) When have I ever said that batteries can’t be recycled? What I’ve said from the beginning, and repeated until my fingers have gotten tired of typing, is that recycling batteries costs money, and that cost has to be added to the cost of any electric power system that makes use of batteries.

    Why do you find this idea of cost so hard to understand? Your conception of battery use seems to invoke a recycling fairy, who’ll just wave her magic wand and (perhaps with a twanging sound & twinkling stars – can’t forget the special effects) bring those old batteries back from the dead, at no cost. Sorry, but I suggest not looking to Disney for your power system engineering :-)

  564. Mark:

    You need to work out what you’re trying to say.

    You never mentioned the cost, you just said “batteries wear out”.

    They don’t.

    They change chemically in a reversible process that results in lower charge retention.

    Now, why is that a problem? When you use oil, it’s gone. It doesn’t come back. There’s no reversible process to recreate it.

    So you have the ENTIRE ORIGINAL COST to go through again.

    Batteries? Minimal cost, since all the raw materials are there in pure and processed form. No need to remelt the ore bearing rocks. All that original expense avoided.

    So, why didn’t you just say “There’s a cost to recycling batteries that will change the operating cost of renewables”? Only NOW are you doing so.

    And it took my mimicking of your obtuseness before you did so.

    So, now we have “recycling batteries add to the cost”.

    That’s not a big impediment really, is it. It’s not as if lead and acid will run out because we have to recycle them, is it.

    Not a problem.

    Took you a long time to get there.

  565. David B. Benson:

    Doug (5558) — No, I fear you haven’t. From
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_feedback
    “As long as the loop gain, i.e. the forward gain multiplied with the feedback gain, is lower than 1 the result is a stable (convergent) output.”
    where the feedback in question is the sum of all the effects, both positive and negative.

  566. dhogaza:

    And it took my mimicking of your obtuseness before you did so.

    Actually James did so back up in post #555, at the latest.

    And he’s correct when he says the battery “wears out”, even though the lead (in the case of lead-acid batteries) or other materials can be recovered through recycling.

    That still leaves the cost of recycling and the cost of buying a replacement battery – in his case, the context was having to replace the battery of his Insight after eight years.

    Or are you telling us you recycle the lead from your own car’s lead-acid battery and rebuild it yourself, using that lead, using a zero-cost process of your own invention?

    That would be quite the trick, Mark.

  567. Mark:

    “Or are you telling us you recycle the lead from your own car’s lead-acid battery and rebuild it yourself, using that lead, using a zero-cost process of your own invention?”

    Nope.

    Please tell me where I said it didn’t cost.

    So it seems YOU are saying that it is a zero cost process. Care to tell us?

  568. James:

    Mark Says (18 April 2009 at 5:53 PM)

    “Please tell me where I said it didn’t cost.”

    Humm… Post #564? Where you write

    “You never mentioned the cost, you just said “batteries wear out”.

    They don’t.”

    If, as you claimed, they didn’t wear out, there’d be no cost for recycling. Of course you go on to contradict yourself, as you write “Batteries? Minimal cost, since all the raw materials are there in pure and processed form.”

    In fact that cost, for the lead-acid batteries you were discussing, is not minimal. Most of the lead in “new” batteries is currently from recycled sources. (60-80 percent, according to this site: http://www.batterycouncil.org/LeadAcidBatteries/BatteryRecycling/tabid/71/Default.aspx ) That makes it pretty simple to get a rough estimate of the cost of recycling a battery: just go down to your local auto parts place, and look at the prices. (IIRC, around $50-60 for a small 12-volt auto battery, last time I bought one.)

    That battery might store about 1 KWh. Since US energy consumption runs about 10 billion KWh a day (per http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/brochure/electricity/electricity.html ), simple arithmetic gives a ballpark figure of 10 billion auto batteries needed to provide back up for one day’s consumption, at a cost of about $500 billion – plus of course the expense of connectors, charge controllers, and the like. Given a 5 year service life (roughly my experience of automotive batteries), that’s an ongoing $100 billion per year. Figure maybe $350 per person? Now consider that my electric bill runs about $600/year, so just adding this battery storage increased it over 50%.

    Of course there are some technical details that complicate this simple picture, one being that automotive batteries are designed to produce large bursts of current (“cranking amps”) for starting rather than steady power. For that you need deep cycle batteries, which tend to be more expensive (though that may just reflect the smaller market). Here’s a link if you want more info on batteries used for power backup: http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm

    Disclaimer: as usual, the numbers are just “back of the envelope” figuring, using what info I could quickly find by web searches. I could easily have made mistakes, so corrections are welcome, as long as they don’t involve waving of hands or magic wands :-)

  569. Mark:

    “Humm… Post #564? Where you write

    “You never mentioned the cost, you just said “batteries wear out”.

    They don’t.”

    If, as you claimed, they didn’t wear out, there’d be no cost for recycling”

    Nope, that’s “batteries don’t wear out”. That isn’t “Batteries don’t need recycling”.

    Glass bottles don’t wear out. They can and are recycled. But the bottle remains a bottle in any way you wish to consider it without wearing out, except by damage to the item. And in that case, you still have almost all the glass (all the glass if it’s merely cracked) to make 1 bottle.

    “Batteries don’t wear out” is not “Batteries don’t have to be recycled”. What it means is that saying “batteries wear out” is only a resource problem when you mean it no longer exists or has lost its ability to be reused.

    Because, you know that batteries here are being considered for use to store energy. But guess what? The energy needed to restore operational capacity to the battery can be done WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING, or when the wind is blowing. At that point, you don’t have an energy problem, do you.

    [Response: This topic has clearly moved from minor interest to tedium. No more please. - gavin]

  570. Magnus Westerstrand:

    Just wanted to remind you about this “Future posts will take a look at his mass market book on climate change, entitled Climate Confusion, published last month, and his article in National Review”

    Have any one seen a good debunking of the book?

  571. Rod B:

    SecularAnimist (557) and a bit from James (559): that runs counter to common knowledge. Maybe we (I??) have been too sheltered. The incorrect perception is a major “negative” toward hybrids. Good stuff to know about hybrid batteries. Are they still highly expensive to replace as common knowledge also says?

  572. MikeN:

    Doug, consider if the feedback is .5
    Then you start with an increase of ten, then with feedback, you get 5 more, then 2.5 more then 1.25 more. Keep doing that and you see the total is 20.

  573. dhogaza:

    Good stuff to know about hybrid batteries. Are they still highly expensive to replace as common knowledge also says?

    Hard to say, when the Prius hit its ten year anniversary Toyota pointed out it never had to replace a battery due to age.

    What data do you have to support “common knowledge”?

  574. James:

    Rod B Says (20 April 2009 at 10:54 AM):

    “Good stuff to know about hybrid batteries. Are they still highly expensive to replace as common knowledge also says?”

    (Hope this doesn’t contribute to Gavin’s tedium…)

    I honestly don’t know how much it would cost to replace a hybrid battery that’s not under warranty with a new-from-factory one, because that’s not what I did. I got a used battery pack from a wrecking yard ($250 plus shipping), and rebuilt a good pack from the two.

    Internally, the Insight pack is composed of 20 “strings” of 6 high-current D cells welded together. Generally a “bad” pack only involves the failure of one string (and probably only one cell of the string). So I disassembled the packs, tested the strings, reassembled a pack using the best 20, and popped it back in the car. Now I’ve got a good battery again, and a bunch of spare cells for playing around with.

    I really think anyone facing a failing battery in an out-of-warranty hybrid should first take a look at salvage parts, for instance here: http://car-part.com/

    I should also mention that my hybrid use probably represents a pretty good stress test. I bought my Insight as salvage & rebuilt it (I enjoy that sort of thing), so it wasn’t eligible for a free replacement under warranty. My driving typically involves roads like these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_State_Route_431 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_State_Route_88 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_State_Route_722 and I have a neat little box of electronic tricks (MIMA) that lets me override a lot of the build-in hybrid system controls.

  575. Rod B:

    I take it then that for the average Joe Driver a battery pack replacement is likely a very major expense but happens very seldom.

  576. James:

    Yes, I’d say it’s roughly on the order of a blown engine: expensive, but not something you really expect to see as a normal service item.

  577. Mark:

    http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/resources/InformationSheets/Batteries.htm

    And from another site, it shows companies are buying lead-acid batteries for $150 per 100, or 15c per lb.

    Blown engine seems to go for $500 to fix.

  578. James:

    And $500 is a good price for a salvage Prius battery pack.

    It’s really not that much different: you could buy a factory new replacement engine or battery pack for your 10-year old beater, but would you? Which is why the oft-cited “$X thousand to replace the battery” is misleading.

  579. Mark:

    James, do you have a price for that?

    Because if it’s more than ~$10 to recycle a battery, then those companies are making out like bandits.

    Unlikely, since any other company could sell cheaper and there’s not much of a barrier to entry, not if it’s $1.50 per battery for the battery itself.

    So, do you have anything that says to recycle a prius battery costs $500? Or just thinking it should?

  580. James:

    Mark, look at my post #574 above, and follow the link to CarPart.com. Under year & model, select say 2006 Toyota Prius; under part select battery. This will give you a price on used (from wrecks) batteries (or any other part you need) from auto salvage dealers – that is, junkyards – all over the country. You’ll find a good number at $500 or less.

    Note that this is an entirely different matter than what’s usually thought of as recycling a battery. It’s using a still-servicable part (as junkyards have been doing almost since there were cars, and maybe with carriage & wagon parts before that), not breaking down the battery into its component materials and making new ones. I don’t have any info on the costs of that for NiMH batteries, though I’ve read that no one’s actually doing that kind of recycling yet, because so far not enough have failed or worn out to make it worthwhile.

  581. Mark:

    James, yes it isn’t the cost of recycling.

    Can you go find a link for the cost of recycling.

  582. Chris S:

    A heads-up:

    http://masterresource.org/?p=1966

    I’m sure there’s plenty wrong with Dr. Goklany’s calculations but I lack the economic savvy to see it. I find this quite a depressing article by an apparent ‘global warming expert’ (according to Heartland http://www.globalwarmingheartland.com/expert.cfm?expertId=144 )

    Capthca: and brokers…hmmmm

  583. beyaz:

    That still leaves the cost of recycling and the cost of buying a replacement battery – in his case, the context was having to replace the battery of his Insight after eight years.

  584. Mark:

    “That still leaves the cost of recycling and the cost of buying a replacement battery”

    Uh, you buy the recycled battery.

    That’s my point.

    It isn’t common enough to be worth making it a new market, so it’s buy a new one or a retread from a car wreck.

    But when there’s enough density of demand, you’ll be buying from one of several competing local suppliers who will buy “dead” batteries for 15c, recycle them for $X and sell them to you refurbished for 1.1 x $X.15c.

  585. dhogaza:

    Uh, you buy the recycled battery.

    No, the recycled material goes into the manufacture of a new battery.

    For a lead-acid battery, the relevant question is “how much does recycled lead cost compared to freshly mined lead”.

    I think we all know we can buy 20 lbs or so of raw lead for much less than the cost of a manufactured lead-acid battery.

  586. Mark:

    Discussion on slashdot on the battery options (at least for cars):

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/22/1417246&art_pos=2

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanadium_redox_battery
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/magazine/19car-t.html?pagewanted=all

    also have more info.

  587. dhogaza:

    But when there’s enough density of demand, you’ll be buying from one of several competing local suppliers who will buy “dead” batteries for 15c, recycle them for $X and sell them to you refurbished for 1.1 x $X.15c.

    Regarding my post above, of course if the battery container, interconnections, etc can all be reused then that, as well as the lead or other material used to chemically store the energy, can be reused.

    But then the “dead” battery won’t sell for $0.15, either.

    And in this case the cost comparison for the lead itself still boils down to “how much to replace the contaminated lead in an old battery with recycled vs freshly-mined lead”.

  588. James:

    Mark Says (22 April 2009 at 2:48 AM):

    “James, yes it isn’t the cost of recycling.

    Can you go find a link for the cost of recycling.”

    No, I can’t. As I may have mentioned, Google is not my friend – I have trouble constructing queries that return reasonable answers to any but the simplest questions.

    Beyond that, I’m not sure that you could even get reasonable answers for NiMH recycling cost at this point, because the volume’s so small. On the other hand, with lead-acid most of the battery material is recycled, so the cost of a new battery is a reasonable approximation for the recycling cost.

  589. Mark:

    But most of that lead-acid is recycled and made into new batteries to be sold to big suppliers of new cars. The competition there is “brand spanking new” where you have the cost of the raw materials to add in.

    As you’ve said now, the current situation is likely an over-estimate of the cost of recycling batteries when using them to retain baseload power from renewables. And it’s likely to go down a lot.

    It won’t be more expensive than it currently is, will it.

  590. Mark:

    “For a lead-acid battery, the relevant question is “how much does recycled lead cost compared to freshly mined lead”.”

    At the moment, yes. Because the rate of recycling doesn’t lend itself profitably to industrial scale works in any other fashion.

    But when you have 1,000,00 batteries at a power station nexus to smooth out transient power availability, it will probably be worth actually recycling the battery as in “make it hold all the previous capacity” rather than “dump it and make a new one with the materials”.

    The bloke getting together the idea of a refilling station replacing batteries thinks he can do so cheap enough to be profitable and cheaper than if he’d been running a petrol station.

    I’m sure that he’s been doing the sums.

    We haven’t.

  591. Mark:

    And according to taxi drivers, hybrids have lasted 300,000 miles without failing yet:

    http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/?p=3579

    Cars in the US didn’t used to last that long themselves not so long ago…

  592. dhogaza:

    #591: the battery issue for hybrids has been a bit of a strawman for the “anti” side (not you), as I mentioned above Toyota had said a the 10 year anniversary of the Prius that they hadn’t had to replace a battery due to wear (as opposed to accidents) yet. And at that point in time there were people with hybrids with more than 200,000 miles on them. 300,000 miles is pretty amazing but lower maintenance is a recognized advantage of hybrids. State of Oregon motor pool says that over 100,000 miles operating costs (fuel, maintenance, etc) has been something like 40% less than for conventional sedans of similar size, much more than making up for the premium price they paid for early Prius’s.

    But when you have 1,000,00 batteries at a power station nexus to smooth out transient power availability, it will probably be worth actually recycling the battery as in “make it hold all the previous capacity” rather than “dump it and make a new one with the materials”.

    You also design the batteries different, I’m sure. Can you get the lead out of a modern sealed lead acid auto battery without trashing the case? Don’t know. But I know you could get the cells out of diesel electric submarines during overhaul, they were designed with this in mind.

    Captcha says: “labia $350,000″ … not sure I want to go there! :)

  593. Mark:

    “But I know you could get the cells out of diesel electric submarines during overhaul, they were designed with this in mind.”

    Yup. The point being that lead-acid is simple and recycling is easy. Current needs have been predicated over use of this sort of thing merely to START your car. And when batteries are needed for evening out power levels, that will not necessarily be true any more.

    “Captcha says: “labia $350,000″ … not sure I want to go there! :)”

    I dunno, if I had 1/3mil, it’d be tempting to see whether it’s worth it!

  594. Hank Roberts:

    http://basicinstructions.net/comics/2009-04-22-EarthDay.gif

  595. James:

    Mark Says (22 April 2009 at 2:01 PM):

    “Current needs have been predicated over use of this sort of thing merely to START your car. And when batteries are needed for evening out power levels, that will not necessarily be true any more.”

    Not entirely. Automotive batteries are the largest part of the market, but there are lead-acid batteries built for power applications such as off-the-grid houses and UPS systems. If you poke around here http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm you can find some info on the design differences, and current prices.

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that batteries wouldn’t be the best option for system storage. High-speed flywheels would work much better: no toxic materials, very little wear or energy loss if they use magnetic bearings in a vacuum, high efficiency conversion that’s not rate-limited in the way batteries are… But they still cost money, and that’s what the renewable-only advocates seem to forget.