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Advocacy vs. Science

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 April 2009

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?


595 Responses to “Advocacy vs. Science”

  1. 201
    Jim Eager says:

    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.”

  2. 202
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.

  3. 203

    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

  4. 204
    wmanny says:

    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

  5. 205
    walter crain says:

    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?

  6. 206

    He must be talking about this early arctic sub voyage :

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

  7. 207

    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

  8. 208
    MikeN says:

    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]

  9. 209
  10. 210
    walter crain says:

    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?

  11. 211

    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

  12. 212
    stroller says:

    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.)”

  13. 213

    #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.

  14. 214
    MarkB says:

    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/

  15. 215

    #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?

  16. 216

    #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?

  17. 217
    wmanny says:

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

  18. 218
    David B. Benson says:

    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.

  19. 219
    Jim Eager says:

    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

  20. 220

    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.

  21. 221

    #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

  22. 222

    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).

  23. 223
    wmanny says:

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

  24. 224
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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?

  25. 225
    Alan Millar says:

    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

  26. 226
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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?

  27. 227
    walter crain says:

    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.

  28. 228

    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.

  29. 229
    Cary says:

    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?

  30. 230
    David B. Benson says:

    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?

  31. 231
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  32. 232
    David B. Benson says:

    Say goodby to Wilkins Ice Shelf:

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

  33. 233
    Glenn Morton says:

    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]

  34. 234
    Jim Eager says:

    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

  35. 235
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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.

  36. 236
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  37. 237

    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.

  38. 238
    bi -- IJI says:

    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

  39. 239
    Hank Roberts says:

    New Tom Toles sketch is up, relevant

  40. 240
    Joe says:

    [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?

  41. 241

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

  42. 242

    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.

  43. 243
    Mark says:

    ““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.

  44. 244
    Ike Solem says:

    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?

  45. 245
    Garry S-J says:

    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”

  46. 246
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    World population is almost 7 billion.

  47. 247
    walter crain says:

    barton (241),
    based on other answeres i figured that’s what you meant, but thanks for clarifying.

  48. 248
    pete best says:

    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.

  49. 249
    Jim Eager says:

    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.

  50. 250
    Jim Eager says:

    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?


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