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Friday round-up

Filed under: — rasmus @ 24 April 2009 - (Español)

They knew all along?
A recent story in NYT: ‘Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate‘ has caught our attention.

Update: Marc Roberts’ take:

Latest skeptical song from Singer

This week, the annual European Geophysical Union (EGU)’s general assembly was held in Vienna. Friday afternoon, I went to one of the conference’s last talks to learn about the latest news from the climate skeptics (have to keep an open mind…). It was probably the talk with the smallest audience in the whole conference (see the photo, but note there were a couple of individuals who were not captured by camera), despite an unusually long slot (30 min) allocation.

singer.jpg And not much news, I’m afraid, apart from that SEPP plans to release it’s NIPCC’09 in May. I understand it will be a thick report (800 pages?). The main messages were (a) that GHGs were unimportant – allegedlly supported by Douglass et al. (2007), and (b) solar activity was the main reason for the recent global warming and the mechanism involved galactic cosmic rays (GCR).

I asked Singer how he could explain the most recent warming when there is no trend in the GCR-flux or other indices of solar activity since 1952. He countered by saying he was glad I asked him this question, and announced that he had done his thesis exactly on the topic solar wind and GCRs.

So I had to answer that I had written a book about solar activity and climate, and I repeated my question. He could not answer in the end – other than saying that we have to look at the data. I told him that we already have looked at the data (e.g. Richardsson et al 2002; Benestad, 2005; Lockwood & Frohlich, 2007), so I recommended him to read up on RC.

301 Responses to “Friday round-up”

  1. 151
    Mark says:

    re: 150.

    There’s one doofus on a BBC blog that INSISTS

    a) Beers Law means CO2 cannot have a significant effect on warming the earth
    b) Water vapour is ignored in global warming and has a much higher effect

    But if (b) were true, then (a) cannot be, else water vapour would have long ago been consigned to insignificance by it (since it would reach the same level of reduction quicker).

    They read but do not understand·

    That’s not skepticism.

  2. 152
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman (147), I can disagree with little of your classification of an “honest skeptic” on pure academic grounds. But from a pragmatic view my disagreement stands. You say an honest skeptic is one who none-the-less can accept the reasonable evidence presented. The catch is “reasonable”. The proponents claim their reasonable evidence is unassailable, complete, and totally settled (by all measure of reasonable science); ergo there can not be any remaining honest skeptics by definition. I’m skeptical over certain pieces of the science because they are not completely empirically or physically clear. Yet, it is understandable how climate scientists can draw “reasonable” conclusions and projections from the maybe extensive but still incomplete data they do have. But then the “small” incomplete part gets lost, ignored, and forgotten in the dust. Why are they honest (and I believe most of them are), but I am not? I have zero credibility unless and until I write my own GCM, get my own inputs, run a bunch of model runs on the supercomputer that I also have to get, and then publish a pile of articles in peer-reviewed journals. That’s the cost of entry to be declared an honest skeptic; until then I’m just a low-life “denier” (still not a fully recognized word in this context, BTW) whose parents were probably not married and my mother possibly a canine.

  3. 153
    Rod B says:

    ps. Ray Ladbury (who I respect lots but often disagree with) makes my point quite well in #150.

  4. 154
    Hank Roberts says:

    > shill

    Stooge. It’s the word you want:

    “… Lindzen … differentiated “industry stooges” as a separate category, people who were interested in obfuscating the issue towards supporting their own agenda, as opposed to people that are interested in the scientific truth. This is an important distinction …”

    I was about to relax, and then ReCaptcha told me:
    “relaxation ossifies”

  5. 155

    #152 Rod B

    I have no problem accepting the apparent reality that your words probably speak well of your perspective.

    If the only proof of inevitability of an event is to be post event, then absolutely, we should not plan for the future.

    We should also shut down schools, disband police and military forces, shut down hospitals and stop building infrastructure for our modern society.

    There simply is no way to absolutely prove that spending all that money is helping, or will help in the future.

  6. 156
    Mal Adapted says:

    Hooboy! I just came across, via a denier’s blog, another (sarcasm alert) lone genius who believes he’s got it all figured out, and is eager to free the rest of us from our tragic self-deception:

    CO2 does not cause climate change in any way, shape or form

    The article could be drawn straight from the Crank HOWTO, but the blogger, Steve Belden, thinks “if only our elected officials would take the time to read reports like this, we would not be going down the road they want to take us.”

  7. 157
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman, what you say is true but it is a bit of a strawman (“a bit” because there are some who do rely on the lack of absolute proof for their argument). Probably nothing can be proved with absolute certainty, especially with statistical quantum mechanics with its nose in the tent J . But there is a continuum where an “honest” skeptic is not looking for absolute proof but still has reasonable doubts with the degree of substantiation. The point where it becomes accepted is partly subjective and hard to pin down, but it is clearly short of absolute. On the other hand protagonists often rest their case in that since absolute proof is not obtainable, any level of evidence is good enough and unassailable.

  8. 158
    Jeremy says:

    The NY Times article that has been referenced at the top of this page has been corrected. It seems “They [NYT] knew all along” that they had misquoted industry scientific advisors:

    Revkin and the New York Times wrote:
    “The article cited a ‘backgrounder’ that laid out the coalition’s public stance, published in the early 1990s and distributed widely to lawmakers and journalists. However, the article failed to note a later version of the backgrounder that included language that conformed to the scientific advisory committee’s conclusion. The amended version, which was brought to the attention of The Times by a reader, acknowledged the consensus that greenhouse gases could contribute to warming. What scientists disagreed about, it said, was ‘the rate and magnitude of the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’ (warming) that will result.’”

  9. 159
    Mal Adapted says:

    Quoth #152 Rod B:

    until then I’m just a low-life “denier” (still not a fully recognized word in this context, BTW) whose parents were probably not married and my mother possibly a canine.

    Snort! My brand-new keyboard is ruined! A denier he may be, but a witty one, to be sure 8^).

  10. 160
    Hank Roberts says:

    Worth a look, and some testing:

    “… The site was built to deal with my frustration at journalists summarizing scientific papers without citing their sources. It tries to infer from the details that they do include the probable candidate articles. …”

    Hat tip to:

    Which I found thanks to writer Paul McAuley’s blog: (recommended)

  11. 161
    Hank Roberts says:

    Looking back at Revkin’s NYT piece, we have:

    > The advisory committee was led by Leonard S. Bernstein

    > According to the minutes of an advisory committee meeting …
    > primer was approved by the coalition’s operating committee …
    > operating committee had asked the advisers to omit the section
    > that rebutted the contrarian arguments.
    > “This idea was accepted,” the minutes said, “and that
    > portion of the paper will be dropped.”

    Wait — Andy?
    This “coalition’s operating committee” that reviewed the draft? Who were they? Did you ask? Get a list of names?

    According to O’Keefe, then chairman, the change would have been made by “staff” — but the gap in the story is that the “staff” took direction from that “operating committee” — who were they? Any, er, overlap with the Directors?
    Usually committees of this sort are all made up from the Board — advisory, operating, and others.

    > Mr. O’Keefe, who was then chairman …. said he was not aware of
    > the dropped sections when a copy of the approved final draft was
    > sent to him.”

    Fine. Had he been aware of them earlier? Did he know, but not officially? The reporter has to persist, to _nail_ this sort of vagueness down.

    > “He said a change of that kind would have been made by the staff
    > before the document was brought to the board for final consideration

    Fine, fine, that may well be true. “A change of that kind — but what about that particular change? by the staff? On whose direction? Was the “operating committee” made up only of _staff_? He’s not saying he never knew.
    He’s not saying which parts he saw before, or anything else at all clear.

    The business world defines “Knowledge” variously: “constructive knowledge” and “actual knowledge” and “wilful blindness” are several ways to split that hair.

  12. 162

    Rob B #157

    Generally speaking your argument is convoluted and leans away from the main point. in following the path of the argument you may or may not notice that my post #155 is an argument following the logic of your argument to its’ presumed conclusion by extrapolation.

    However, I am not presenting a strawman. Where is the flaw in the path of reasoning based on the contextual logic (you presented)? I am merely presenting the path of reasoning based on the rule of reasoning you presented. Now, of course your original path of reasoning is fallacious, so that can be assailed as a strawman.

    On the other hand you come back with:

    Probably nothing can be proved with absolute certainty, especially with statistical quantum mechanics with its nose in the tent J .

    This is more a straw man argument and a red herring in the sense that the main subject is human caused climate change and your presented argument states that nothing can be proved, which when combined with your previous premise of ‘I don’t believe all the evidence I see’ sets up your position or basis of argument quite well (which of course is the result of the straw man you are founding).

    From that basis, one can see that your new argument is a distraction (red herring). This is an excellent method and used quite often in attempting to confuse the issues around the subject of the evidence well understood in climate change.

    But in reality, it is quite inappropriate to construct such arguments, especially when one considers the real human costs involved. Any such delay caused by such arguments has a consequence that can be measured in said human cost. Any who present such arguments should be held morally responsible for such presentation. However, our legal system is not so well connected to justice in that sense and many that cause damage are simply not held accountable. We now live in a world where few are held responsible for their actions and many suffer the consequences of the disconnect.

    I am a strong believer in people taking responsibility for their own actions.

    BTW, You throwing a quantum mechanics argument into climate science is a rather obvious red herring and informal fallacy, thus a straw-man. Neither do I don’t believe you are being clear in your statements.

    You go on with another straw man: reasonability is subjective, therefore hard to pin down and clearly short of absolute; and protagonists rest their case in that since absolute proof is not obtainable. The contrast is argumentative but unreasonable in the assumable context. No one (in the relevant science) is saying ‘any’ level of evidence is unassailable. You are saying ‘that’, as a straw man that can then be torn down, to support your informal fallacy.

    If I were to guess at why you are following the path of fallacy, I would have to assume that you simply don’t understand the context of the evidence, which is common in the denialist argument foundation.

    In other words, you seem to be missing the point.

    The combination of your apparent miss on the point and the straw man and red herrings you present in such convoluted manner merely takes up space and wastes time. It wastes the time of those reading here and it wastes your time and my time. Please refrain. I’m confident we can put our energies into more constructive efforts.

  13. 163

    Oops, unintended double negative:

    Neither do I don’t believe you are being clear in your statements.

    should be

    I don’t believe you are being clear in your statements and arguments.

  14. 164
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. claims “The point where it becomes accepted is partly subjective and hard to pin down…”

    Actually, it need not be subjective at all–or if subjective, it can at least be rigorous (e.g. Bayesian). In a probability distribution for CO2 sensitivity, all but 5% of the probability lies above 2 degrees per doubling. Any sensitivity in this range gives rise to significant and quite possibly dangerous warming. Are you telling us that 95% confidence isn’t good enough for you when it comes to ensuring the future of human civilization?

  15. 165
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Rod B #152,153:

    But then the “small” incomplete part gets lost, ignored, and forgotten in the dust.

    Projection, mate. Get intellectually honest yourself and perhaps you’ll understand what makes scientists tick.

    I have zero credibility unless and until I write my own GCM, get my own inputs, run a bunch of model runs on the supercomputer that I also have to get, and then publish a pile of articles in peer-reviewed journals. That’s the cost of entry to be declared an honest skeptic;

    Yeah, it’s hard work to be the new Galileo, I know :-)

    ps. Ray Ladbury (who I respect lots but often disagree with) makes my point quite well in #150.

    He makes a very different point: that Singer is not a “sceptic” at all but a mendacious hack. If after all these attempts to educate you (how long have we been trying?) you still don’t see that Singer makes up his “science” as he goes, well — you need one with a two-by-four for clues.

    Honest, informed, skeptic; choose any two.

  16. 166
    Rod B says:

    My! My! My!

    John P. Reissman, I assume you want me less convoluted than your 162 (as erudite as it is). Actually, I though I was pretty straight; but maybe I can’t see it objectively.

    You implied that if I don’t accept AGW because it is not proven absolutely, which logically can only be done a posteriori (and I might suggest maybe not even then…), then I should not believe in schools, police, military, hospitals, etc. That sounds like another straw man and makes no sense. But, maybe it helps make my point…

    In the minds of (most) protagonists, anyone who has doubts over their science assessment clearly is an ignoramus (Ray’s term) and cannot be an honest skeptic. I’m saying you all have defined and put parameters around “honest skeptic” so that one cannot exist prima facie. Though you say it more eloquently.

    In the parameter “but this is critically important” I actually give some allowance and think the fervor can be rationalized to some extent, and I accept that. (Though it isn’t science.) I think it’s getting ominous (and sorrowful), though, when you and others (see other threads) construct a fascist regime around your scientific beliefs and set up your showcase courts to silence us skeptics once and for all. Remind your brown shirts to come well armed.

    My reference to quantum mechanics was just a humorous reference to ‘nobody really knows anything for sure’ in that arena. Lighten up.

    “any” was a poor word choice in “level of evidence.” Obviously no one would claim unassailability with zero evidence. But they do imply unassailability with there “settled”, “done” “consensus” ‘anyone who isn’t an ignoramus’ routine, though when called they whip out the 2 degrees +/- and 95% to show their reasonableness.

    Then, you are correct. This discourse is probably wasting everyone’s time.

    Martin V., yes, I think I know what makes scientists tick. It’s not always sugar and spice and everything nice (FurryCH, et al excepted, I suppose). They’re trying to convince the world of something they think they have seen. Nothing wrong with that.

  17. 167

    #166 Rod B

    To cut to the chase and not waste time. The larger scale uncertainties lie in the amount and speed of warming and feedbacks combined. There is virtually little to no uncertainty that we are warming, or that it (the new trend) is human caused.

    Certainly there are major uncertainties but how are they relevant to the major forcings based on relevant science and understanding?

    I think it more than reasonable to claim virtually 100% certainty on the warming and the major causes of the forcing.

    Where would you say then your argument lies (sorry, no pun intended unless you are an associate of Singer, Monckton, or the like.)?

    PS I carved out some parameters for ‘honest skeptic’ and certainly those parameters are assailable. i presented them as potentially ‘a reasonable’ view.

    PPS My implication (your para 2) is that by following your logic as presented, we should not do anything unless we have absolute proof… I’m implying that is silly. The sword of Damocles is not just a climate problem… in fact there are many more swords above our heads that are not made of carbon, but that is a different discussion. The carbon problem merely makes those swords more dangerous.

    PPPS The observations now match the models (with strongly identified attribution)… That is not something science thinks it sees, that is reality.

  18. 168

    Rod B

    How much of this global warming event you think is attributable to human causes and why; or not, and why not?

    I’m trying to identify what it is you don’t understand about the scientific understanding regarding this global warming event.

  19. 169
    Hank Roberts says:
    —excerpt follows—-

    ignoramus et ignorabimus … “we do not know and will not know”… Emil du Bois-Reymond, a German physiologist, in his Über die Grenzen des Naturerkennens (“On the limits of our understanding of nature”) of 1872

    Wir müssen wissen — wir werden wissen! (We must know — we will know!) — David Hilbert

  20. 170
    Rod B says:

    John P. R., you continue to make my point. In essence you have said that an honest skeptic will objectively look at your well-thought out science, see the evidence, and agree. If he doesn’t, he is by definition an ignoramus, and can not be an honest skeptic. Ergo, there is no such thing as an honest skeptic in your arena.

    It’s not relevant to the discussion of process, but for the record and because you asked, there are 3 or 4 aspects of AGW theory that I am skeptical with. The most salient is the marginal/differential forcing equations: both the marginal increase in forcing for the marginal increase in CO2 concentration, and, to a lesser degree, the marginal increase in temperature for a marginal increase in forcing. And you’re right. I don’t fully understand it; but I haven’t seen full understanding from the AGW contingent either, though they do often claim it.

  21. 171

    Rod B (#166):

    They’re trying to convince the world of something they think they have seen. [my emph. – MV]

    You just unchecked the “informed” box.

    Good grief, Rod, you’ve been hanging around here now for how many years? Don’t you appreciate the resources for learning this site offers? If you don’t want to learn, why all the questions? Where’s your natural curiosity?

    This is not a high-school debating club, Rod. If that’s what you want, try Panda’s Thumb and ID, where less human lives or fortunes are at stake. Or try Holocaust denial for fireworks — those poor sods are dead already. But stop wasting our time. Please.

  22. 172
    Rod B says:

    PS to my #170. My words sound too snide and I did not intend nor mean that. I still don’t see the complete knowledge in the area I was disussing, but neither are the proponents just guessing. There is an indicative body of evidence that leads them to what is reasonable definitve conclusions and predictions. It is based on less than full precise understanding, but it is not based on thin air as my poor choice of words might have implied.

    Martin V., I have no idea what your complaint is, unless it relates to my choice of words that I fixed here. I learn quite a bit from this site. There’s also areas where I haven’t learned as much as I wish, but that’s my problem. Plus there is a fair amount of flame that comes with the light which doesn’t move the ball much but is to be expected, I suppose.

  23. 173

    #170 Rod B

    Contact me through the OSS site if you are interested in a conversation on the subject. I’d be happy to try to give you some additional perspective that I believe will be helpful.

    It’s is hard to get things in text and words and myriad web sites sometimes. Many present facts out of context which has the unfortunate effect of making something look reasonable but is basically false due to the limit of the scope.

    It’s actually all quite reasonable once you examine the evidence in the relevant context. You can argue then, how do you know it’s relevant… but at that point I would just say seek and ye shall find. There is an amazing amount of evidence that is, within the error bars, pretty hard to refute with any substantial degree of integrity in the counter argument.

    I’ve been looking for a budget to put things into video form for broadcast for a long time now as I strongly believe that will help but until then all I can do is write and talk.

    Feel free to drop me a line and then we can contact directly and talk about it. For some reason it is easier to identify the contexts in conversation that in written words, for some.

    I am confident that once you get the relevant contexts it will give you a fresh perspective on what a marginal increase in CO2, temperature and forcing means in the context of the global climate. These are critical points but it is difficult to understand the relevance without the context.

    Hope to hear from you.


  24. 174
    Mark says:

    RodB #170.

    What’s “marginal” about a 40% rise in CO2?

    You must have very (and I mean VERY) sloppy requirements at work.

  25. 175
    Rod B says:

    Mark, marginal is just a simpler term for differential. (and I don’t mean that thing at the end of a driveshaft ;-) )

  26. 176
    Mark says:

    Can you please explain what post 175 was saying?

    A severe lack of content is getting in the way.

  27. 177
    Rod B says:

    Mark, I took your question to use the definition of “marginal” as not significant or large. I meant it as mathematical deltaY/deltaX = derivative of Y to X = differential of Y/differential of X = marginalY/marginalX. But I didn’t want you to confuse “differential” with that thing that transfers a car’s driveshaft energy to the two transverse rear wheels.

  28. 178
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman, might be productive. But I can’t figure out how that is done on your site. Are there blog commentaries/posts? If one has to register, I couldn’t figure out how.

  29. 179

    Rod B

    It is very clear that you don’t understand the context of what you are looking at (re. marginal CO2, Temp. Forcing)

    If you have really studied these things there would be little question in your mind though, so this leaves me wondering if you have really looked at what it all means? I don’t think so.

    First, realize that CO2 is a tiny fraction of our atmosphere. Then you need to know that if you remove that tiny fraction of CO2, earth would be a frozen ball in space, then you have a basis from which to understand that changing that tiny fraction of CO2 can have a significant impact on forcing.

    and Mark is quite correct, 40% is simply not marginal, especially considering the climate forcing capacity of the increase.

  30. 180
    Mark says:

    Then RodB, how does that fit in with

    “I am confident that once you get the relevant contexts it will give you a fresh perspective on what a marginal increase in CO2, temperature and forcing means in the context of the global climate.”

    Since that version of “what I meant by marginal” makes no sense in that.

  31. 181

    #178 Rod B

    OSS is not for blogging. I send everyone to RC for that.

    I am merely presenting the arguments. If you can find mistakes on the OSS site, that is very helpful. But I don’t accept peoples thoughts that something might be wrong on the site. It has to be backed up with relevant evidence in context.

    I have received some very helpful comments and some utterly useless ones. Context/relevance is key.

    I would love it if you can show me any mistakes I have made on the site so i can fix it though :)

    Just send comments through the contact link.

  32. 182
    Rod B says:

    John and a bit of Mark, I’m talking about the differential of CO2 to forcing to temperature in the context of global warming. What other context is there?? What context do I not get?? Is there another?? I have no idea what you are alluding to.

    John, as one of your references (RC as it happens) said, “climate sensitivity is uncertain” – more than once in the same reference. True there was a lot of song and dance in between to explain how the numbers were processed and turned this way and that to justify their projections. I’m taking some editorial license here for effect. “Song and dance” is not as capricious as it is generally meant. As I said originally and here, I think the projections are based on credible scientific evidence that would certainly make them plausible. But the physics is uncertain at a finite detailed level and reasonably subject to serious question and skepticism. That’s my point.

    John, one of your arguments says just a little bit of CO2 (or GH gases) has kept us from being an iceball, so a teeny amount more should satisfy the current projections. 1) That is an I-wonder-if and a completely unscientific finite proof. 2) If you make that logic empirical, going from 350ppm to 700ppm ought to raise our temperature 30-some degrees C. Is that your contention?

    Frankly, being so fearful of any semblance of any uncertainty, particularly if it is readily apparent and obvious, hurts your credibility. Makes you appear afraid that you have a house of cards that might blow over with the slightest wind. That doesn’t do justice to the science you so vociferously defend, which, even though there are serious uncertainties, is not a house of cards by any stretch.

    Mark, I tried to explain that I was using the word marginal to mean differential, as in calculus. Sorry if that is not computing; I don’t know how to better define it.

    Sorry for my rambling and slight excesses. Just trying to get through what is starting to look like a bad cop-bad cop routine, unintended as it may be.

    John, you had said something about us continuing a conversation on your site – I thought. I must have misread that.

  33. 183
    paulina says:

    David Letterman segment from last night including Gavin. Also has Climate Progress’ Joe Romm.

  34. 184
    Mark says:

    “Mark, I tried to explain that I was using the word marginal to mean differential, as in calculus. Sorry if that is not computing; I don’t know how to better define it.”

    So what was your post talking about then?

    Inserting differential in there gives:

    The most salient is the differential/differential forcing equations: both the differential increase in forcing for the differential increase in CO2 concentration, and, to a lesser degree, the differential increase in temperature for a differential increase in forcing.

    Since differential either means “different” you’re entire talk boils down to

    When you change CO2, temperature changes.

    Which says nothing new.

    If you just mean “maths equations” then it boils down to

    The equations say that when CO2 changes, temperature chances.

    Which again is saying nothing.

    Adding in that “marginal” is a brand new term for “differential as in calculus” and the free dictionary has it down as:

    1. Of, relating to, located at, or constituting a margin, a border, or an edge: the marginal strip of beach; a marginal issue that had no bearing on the election results.
    2. Being adjacent geographically: states marginal to Canada.
    3. Written or printed in the margin of a book: marginal notes.
    4. Barely within a lower standard or limit of quality: marginal writing ability; eked out a marginal existence.
    5. Economics
    a. Having to do with enterprises that produce goods or are capable of producing goods at a rate that barely covers production costs.
    b. Relating to commodities thus manufactured and sold.
    6. Psychology Relating to or located at the fringe of consciousness.

    Which only #4 would apply to maths, my statement that if you consider a 40% increase to be marginal (barely within a lower standard or limit of quality) hence saying that 40% is barely a difference, you must have very lax standards indeed.

    Care to tell me where I would find your definition of “marginal” as “differential as in calculus”?

  35. 185
    Mark says:

    Oh, i notice there’s more definitions, though why separate I can’t say.

    1. of, in, on, or forming a margin
    2. not important; insignificant: he remained a rather marginal political figure
    3. close to a limit, esp. a lower limit: marginal legal ability
    4. Econ relating to goods or services produced and sold at the margin of profitability: marginal cost
    5. Politics of or designating a constituency in which elections tend to be won by small margins: a marginal seat
    6. designating agricultural land on the edge of fertile areas

    They still don’t say much for your work ethics.

  36. 186
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., You are looking at “uncertainty” as a hole you can hide in. The uncertainties in climate science are pretty well determined. For instance CO2 sensitivity is constrained by many independent lines of evidence to be about 3 degrees per doubling, with about a 5% probability below 2 degrees or above 4.5 degrees. The temperature rise due to a watt of energy is also pretty well constrained. Since a watt is a watt is a watt, we can look an any change in any forcing to determine that number on the various relevant timescales.

    Have you gone through Raypierre’s climate book yet?

  37. 187
    Mark says:

    RodB in 182 says:

    “If you make that logic empirical, going from 350ppm to 700ppm ought to raise our temperature 30-some degrees C. Is that your contention?”

    Please tell us where John says anything like that.

    ALL of the greenhouse gasses currently contribute to something around 35 degrees C of warming.

    However, the total ppm of all the greenhouse gasses do not come to 350ppm and CO2 on its own (which does) hasn’t (as far as I can see) be posited as the source of all ~35C of warming by anyone other than yourself.

    Are the voices in your head waving little cards in front of your eyes now?

  38. 188
    Rod B says:

    Mark (184-5), I don’t know if you’re just pulling my chain. If so, good joke :-P
    “Differential” is such a common term in calculus it usually is the name of the 3rd semester calc course, i.e. “Differential Calculus”. If you peruse any calc course outline you will find “marginal” peppered throughout exactly as I meant and described it. In economics have you ever heard the term “marginal propensity to consume” or the term “marginal utility” or “marginal price point” which is the differential of the price to demand at a specific price/demand point – marginal price for a marginal demand at a particular demand point. You might try this primer: , one of a jillion found on google.

    “Marginal” also means a bunch of other things. Even your dictionary found some. No big deal. There are thousands of English words that have multiple and disparate meanings. “Case”: something you put something in; something reviewed by lawyers and judges; a differentiation of nouns (NO! Not a differential of nouns!) Don’t let that throw you.

    And, BTW, this is the mathematics of concentration to forcing to temperature. It isn’t concentration goes up so forcing goes up as you suggest. It’s how much forcing goes up (“marginal forcing”) per unit increase in concentration (“marginal concentration”) at a specific and unique concentration point.

  39. 189

    #182 Rod B

    You did misread what I said, but it seems you misread lots of things relating to this forum and climate.

    What I said was “Contact me through the OSS site if you are interested in a conversation on the subject. I’d be happy to try to give you some additional perspective that I believe will be helpful.”

    I meant it literally, as in ‘conversation’, not blogging in a forum.

    Mark and Ray presented some good perspective for you but I want to go back to your first paragraph

    “John and a bit of Mark, I’m talking about the differential of CO2 to forcing to temperature in the context of global warming. What other context is there?? What context do I not get?? Is there another?? I have no idea what you are alluding to.”

    You are absolutely correct (as far as I can tell), you have no idea what we are alluding to. You simply don’t understand the relevant contexts involved.

    Here is ‘some’ context on CO2 in the atmosphere:

    Earth has 280ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, what you might call a tiny fraction.

    If you increase that tiny fraction to 387ppm, you have increased the concentration by around 40%.

    Since without CO2 the planet would be much colder, and since CO2 is a major greenhouse gas, and since we know with a reasonable amount of certainty how much climate forcing one would expect from certain amounts of CO2, along with H2O, CH4 and N2O, (not forgetting of course high GWP gases), it becomes more easily clear why changing a tiny fraction by nearly 40% can have a significant impact on climate.

    So, I have a question for you, what is relevant about the ‘marginal’, and the ‘differential’, to which you refer?

    Maybe you can prove to all these good people that they can move on to other projects now and stop concentrating on climate ;)

  40. 190
    Mark says:

    RodB, yes, “differential” is a very common word.

    However, “marginal” is not a synonym.

    Care to tell us where you get that synonym?

    None of your links (heck, none of your posts) have cleared up your use of “marginal”.

    I guess you really DO do a half-assed job at work.

    They’re probably happy when it’s only “measure once, cut twice”.

    So, where did you get “marginal == differential”?

  41. 191
    Mark says:

    Oh, and I notice that you still haven’t answered any of the other questions, like #187.

  42. 192
    Rod B says:

    John P. R. (189) says, “…since we know with a reasonable amount of certainty how much climate forcing one would expect from certain amounts of CO2, along with…”

    Ignoring the “a reasonable amount of” for the sake of clarity, that statement is precisely the context of this area of my scientific skepticism. The science DOES NOT KNOW with the certainty of physics the marginal increase of forcing for a marginal/unit increase in concentration at concentrations, say, above 500ppm or so for, say, CO2. “Changing a tiny fraction by nearly 40% [MIGHT or MIGHT NOT] have a significant impact on climate.”
    Actually science does not know with full certainty the relation between forcing and concentration at today’s and recent past concentrations. But they can measure them with some accuracy and suspect a log relationship based on the negative exponential absorptivity (which is general, but pretty solidly known), try different mathematical relationships looking for a reasonable constant (which they did) and come up with, say, the current accepted formula which has a pretty high statistical correlation with the measurements. The physics then is quite reasonably indicative of causation, at least in large part (I think about 75% has been touted). This says that this period (late 1800s to today), to re-insert your phrase, has a “reasonable amount of certainty.” I would say maybe even stronger than “reasonable” by itself implies.
    But projections further up in concentrations gets evermore dicey and less than certain (though not devoid of any scientific foundation). I do not have any problem with those projections. They are based on some known physics, and reasonable scientific projections. But in reality it is a long way from “certain”, and that is the skeptical base for my questioning. Maybe the forcing, as concentration goes from, say, 500 to 600, is the ln of (6/5) to the fifth+ power; or maybe it’s not. (That “power” thing just to tweak friend Ray; sorry ;-) ) (And BTW, Mark, that is what is meant by “marginal” relationship…) Maybe the pressure broadening tapers off faster than is currently suspected, for example.
    BTW, I don’t have a problem with climate science making claim to “close enough” for pragmatic purposes. It does have scientific backing and justification. Plus the scientists may feel they are working on a potentially disastrous situation and can’t afford the time to unassailably prove (you know what I mean, so leave it) the projection physics – which could take years, decades, forever. That attitude is understandable. But it does not improve the scientific accuracy of the projections.
    Ray’s talk (186) of confidence levels and such is reasonable talking about the correlation and possible causation mentioned above of the science of greenhouse gas absorption as measured and projected from ~1850 to ~2010. But it does not make the future projections be based on more accurate physics.
    You all may disagree with me; that’s fine as far as it goes. But to claim (strongly imply) that this area is backed by a full knowledge of the physics and absolute certainty, and anyone who raises even the littlest peep of a question is dumber than a stump, and, as some have suggested, belongs in jail might be appropriate politics, but it ain’t true. It is however certainly O.K to make your scientific case or rebuttal and criticize my science. (I might be proven to be totally wrong.) But spare me these silly diversions claiming that I can’t understand contexts or can’t spell marginal.

    Finally, John, I literally have no clue how I could carry on a conversation with you through your OSS Foundation site. Excuse me for living!

  43. 193
    CTG says:

    RodB – I take it you don’t drive at night, then? After all, you can only see as far as your headlights go, and anything beyond that is a matter of mere conjecture. You can’t say with 100% certainty that the road exists beyond your headlights, so the only safe thing to do is assume that the road does not exist beyond the part you can see…

  44. 194
    Mike says:

    I’m currently debating a skeptic in the comments section of a Canadian newspaper, and has posed this argument:

    “The models used to set the estimated climate sensitivity at 3-4 degrees per doubling of CO2 would have had the temperatures much warmer than today, 0.2 degrees warmer, or about half of the warming that has occured since 1940. That means that they’re wrong, and way too high.

    Which in turn means the hype and alarmism is way overblown, since all the doom and gloom is based on huge temperature increases due to GHGs. Since they’re not going to come to pass, the whole AGW paradigm that we can ‘fix’ the climate through carbon strangulation of the economy is based on a flawed assumption.”

    And provided these as evidence:

    “For the performance of the ‘state of the art’ 2007 IPCC modelling, bring up this link from the IPCC site, and go to page 684, figure 9.5:

    Also bring up this one for comparison:

    The 1910-1940 warming clearly visible on the HadCRUT3 temperature observations ran about 0.50 degrees over thirty years. The 58-fold stacked model output shows about 0.45 degrees over fifty years. The slope is way wrong (.017 vs .009 degrees per year) and so is the turn-over date from warming to cooling.

    The IPCC models just don’t replicate the known observations prior to 1960 and after 2001, and are thus not reliable enough either to predict the future or to justify the conclusion that AGHGs dominate temperature change.

    Figure 10.4, page 762 of the IPCC Fourth Report shows the projected temperatures post-2001 to be 0.2 degrees warmer than actual:

    I am having difficulty in finding the resources and preparing a reposonse; I am not entirely sure how he is reaching his conclusions. Does anyone have any advice about what he is trying to say and how to respond?

    [Response: The issue is to what extent the single realisation of the climate change over the 20th C (i.e. what actually happened) should be compared with the ensemble mean of the models. That mean is the best estimate for what the component of change was assuming that the we knew what the changes in the forcings were (to a reasonable level). A disconnect between the actual trajectory and the model mean could be related to; a) a mis-specification of the forcings (certainly a possibility – particularly for aerosols and solar in the early 20th C), b) internal variation – ie. multi-decadal changes that are not related to external forcings, but instead reflect an oscillation or variance in the ocean circulation for example, or c) model errors in sensitivity. If it is a) then it is not particularly relevant to the latter part of the century, nor to projections into the future. If b) then it provides a benchmark for the magnitude of internal variability and thus another useful comparison to the models (and note that some models do have internal variability of similar magnitude). And if c), then we have a problem. But before you conclude it must be ‘c’, you need to eliminate possibilities a and b, and that isn’t very easy to do. Personally, I think it likely that the forcings are somewhat misspecified and that there is an important amount of natural variability – but it’s hard to show in a completely convincing way. – gavin]

  45. 195
    Rod B says:

    CTG, Everything you say about the night road is accurate; same as with the AGW area I was talking about. But, no I probably would not stop driving (though there could be cases where I might); nor did I suggest that the climatologists stop their drive – only keep their eyes and objectivity open… as I will driving down the night road. Ever whack a deer because you were overdriving your headlights?

  46. 196
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Rod B #172:

    Martin V., I have no idea what your complaint is, unless it relates to my choice of words that I fixed here. I learn quite a bit from this site.

    OK, fair enough. Good to hear, but you’re still not learning enough. One thing, I see that you’re still mixing up existence uncertainty with magnitude uncertainty, aka risk. Nobody understanding the science denies the reality of magnitude uncertainty (your example of pressure broadening is lousy BTW: few things are better understood, it’s straight physics, computable and measureable in the lab. Now if you’d mentioned cloud cover and aerosols…)

    This is a serious matter. I cannot look inside your head but I wonder how much of you continuing this misconception has to do with denialists working hard at spreading the meme ‘the scientists don’t really know anything’. You should know better than that, and I think you do, though too vaguely at this point. You see, existence uncertainty works only one way, while magnitude uncertainty works both ways (Ray has been trying to rub this in too, with little success I see.).

    Not understanding this is like a field commander assuming that, because he doesn’t know where the enemy will attack, it’s safe to assume there won’t be any attack. You’d flunk any science exam making such an error, interpreting the uncertainty range for the best to fit your prejudices.

    There is no existence uncertainty about anthropogenic climate change. That’s what the saying means ‘the science is settled’.

  47. 197
    CTG says:

    Rod B – no, actually I have never whacked a deer at night, because I adapt my driving to the conditions. And that’s exactly my point. You seem to be saying that because your headlights do not have an infinite length beam, it’s as if you have no headlights at all. Which is patently absurd. Of course you have some headlights – so what you do is drive within the capabilities of the headlights, i.e. if your stopping distance is less than the beam of your headlights, you won’t whack any deer.

    To avoid straining metaphors too far – just because there is some uncertainty in the models, doesn’t mean the models are completely useless. Even taking the most conservative estimates from the models would be a good point to start when planning emissions reductions.

  48. 198
    Rod B says:

    Martin V., be careful of emotional statements morphing into hyperbole: “…few things are better understood… than… pressure broadening…” I can think of at least a half dozen things in climatology without hardly waking up that are better known than pressure broadening. I’m not claiming they know nothing; that, too, is far from the truth. But if they knew it very well in a straightforward physics assessment, they wouldn’t have to scratch their heads figuring out empirically what the forcing constants should be by looking at historical measurements and trying to fit the curve.

    I went to great lengths to be clear that I DO NOT claim that “…‘the scientists don’t really know anything’ .“

    I’m not sure I understand your assertion re existence and magnitude. (I though I got it, but “aka risk” threw me off.) I believe the existence, in general, of greenhouse gases and global warming. But using only this to aver ‘the science is settled’ leaves off mountains of important stuff. I’m skeptical of the magnitude that might accrue, though can’t totally reject (deny???) what IPCC, et al say.

    If I don’t know where the enemy will attack, I would NOT assume that there won’t be an attack. But I also would not rush all of my troops and armaments to the island off the Eastern shore, either. However, the analogy is apt. Climatologists have a pretty good idea that the enemy could very well attack at that small island. And since that attack could destroy my army (and in turn the society), it ought to be taken seriously. But, the climatologists say they know with virtual certainty from the physics and enemy knowledge that the island will be attacked; and also tell me with extreme confidence exactly when and with what exact strength, and that it is fait accompli (science is settled), and that I should not listen to any other suggestion, and maybe even jail those with questions for treason. That’s what I assert they do not know with virtual certainty. Should I send a platoon or even a company with maybe a tank or two to check it out for some insurance? Probably, based on what my “intelligence group” says and while I try to get closer to the truth of the enemy’s intent.

    If I missed your point, help me out.

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, this isn’t toy-soldier stuff about where to put what.
    You’re confusing yourself by making up stories.

    If you have to have a toy-soldier analogy then your task as Caesar is to quit hiring barbarians to guard your borders.

    Making the enemy stronger is the problem here.

  50. 200
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Rod B, yes you missed my point. Completely. And you continue to tell lies about the science and scientists.

    I don’t owe you an education; you do.