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Filed under: — gavin @ 26 June 2009 - (Chinese (simplified))

Some parts of the blogosphere, headed up by CEI (“CO2: They call it pollution, we call it life!“), are all a-twitter over an apparently “suppressed” document that supposedly undermines the EPA Endangerment finding about human emissions of carbon dioxide and a basket of other greenhouse gases. Well a draft of this “suppressed” document has been released and we can now all read this allegedly devastating critique of the EPA science. Let’s take a look…

First off the authors of the submission; Alan Carlin is an economist and John Davidson is an ex-member of the Carter administration Council of Environmental Quality. Neither are climate scientists. That’s not necessarily a problem – perhaps they have mastered multiple fields? – but it is likely an indication that the analysis is not going to be very technical (and so it will prove). Curiously, while the authors work for the NCEE (National Center for Environmental Economics), part of the EPA, they appear to have rather closely collaborated with one Ken Gregory (his inline comments appear at multiple points in the draft). Ken Gregory if you don’t know is a leading light of the Friends of Science – a astroturf anti-climate science lobbying group based in Alberta. Indeed, parts of the Carlin and Davidson report appear to be lifted directly from Ken’s rambling magnum opus on the FoS site. However, despite this odd pedigree, the scientific points could still be valid.

Their main points are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no sirree…, e) the recession will save us!, f) water vapour feedback is negative!, and g) Scafetta and West’s statistical fit of temperature to an obsolete solar forcing curve means that all other detection and attribution work is wrong. From this “evidence”, they then claim that all variations in climate are internal variability, except for the warming trend which is caused by the sun, oh and by the way the globe is cooling.

Devastating eh?

One can see a number of basic flaws here; the complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales, the common but erroneous belief that any attribution of past climate change to solar or other forcing means that CO2 has no radiative effect, and a hopeless lack of familiarity of the basic science of detection and attribution.

But it gets worse, what solid peer reviewed science do they cite for support? A heavily-criticised blog posting showing that there are bi-decadal periods in climate data and that this proves it was the sun wot done it. The work of an award-winning astrologer (one Theodor Landscheidt, who also thought that the rise of Hitler and Stalin were due to cosmic cycles), a classic Courtillot paper we’ve discussed before, the aforementioned FoS web page, another web page run by Doug Hoyt, a paper by Garth Paltridge reporting on artifacts in the NCEP reanalysis of water vapour that are in contradiction to every other reanalysis, direct observations and satellite data, a complete reprint of another un-peer reviewed paper by William Gray, a nonsense paper by Miskolczi etc. etc. I’m not quite sure how this is supposed to compete with the four rounds of international scientific and governmental review of the IPCC or the rounds of review of the CCSP reports….

They don’t even notice the contradictions in their own cites. For instance, they show a figure that demonstrates that galactic cosmic ray and solar trends are non-existent from 1957 on, and yet cheerfully quote Scafetta and West who claim that almost all of the recent trend is solar driven! They claim that climate sensitivity is very small while failing to realise that this implies that solar variability can’t have any effect either. They claim that GCM simulations produced trends over the twentieth century of 1.6 to 3.74ºC – which is simply (and bizarrely) wrong (though with all due respect, that one seems to come directly from Mr. Gregory). Even more curious, Carlin appears to be a big fan of geo-engineering, but how this squares with his apparent belief that we know nothing about what drives climate, is puzzling. A sine qua non of geo-engineering is that we need models to be able to predict what is likely to happen, and if you think they are all wrong, how could you have any faith that you could effectively manage a geo-engineering approach?

Finally, they end up with the oddest claim in the submission: That because human welfare has increased over the twentieth century at a time when CO2 was increasing, this somehow implies that no amount of CO2 increases can ever cause a danger to human society. This is just boneheadly stupid.

So in summary, what we have is a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at. Seriously, if that’s the best they can do, the EPA’s ruling is on pretty safe ground.

If I were the authors, I’d suppress this myself, and then go for a long hike on the Appalachian Trail….

801 Responses to “Bubkes”

  1. 701
    Hank Roberts says:

    Another example that will please the biologists:

    “… At 750 nm the chlorophyll in foliage naturally boosts the reflectance of a plant leaf from 0.1 to about 0.9, which explains why a dark green leaf remains cool on a hot summer day. Tailoring [pigments] for high NIR reflectance similar to that of chlorophyll provides an excellent passive energy-saving opportunity for exterior residential surfaces such as walls and roofs.”
    Special Infrared Reflective Pigments Make a Dark Roof Reflect Almost Like a White Roof

    Aside–that suggests that solar panel makers could do the same thing, with a pigment that’s as efficient as chlorophyll at rejecting infrared while capturing the useful frequency range — and since the photovoltaics we have now do need some cooling airflow to keep them efficient in really hot weather, that might be worth doing.

  2. 702
    Deep Climate says:

    Hot on the heels of WSJ’s Strassel, comes syndicated columnist Mark Steyn, the Don Rickles of right-wing political commentary.

    He quotes a key paragraph from Carlin. Problem is, it comes from Marlo Lewis via – another “forgotten” attribution.

    Captcha: 10-6:30 microbes

  3. 703
    ccpo says:

    WSJ’s Kim Strassel weighs in on the Carlin “suppression”,

    I responded on my blog while back. Don’t read if you’re squeamish about calling a thing what it is.


  4. 704
    RichardC says:

    EL Says, “I would imagine that painting roofs white will lead to more energy consumption and CO2 production. During winter time, people consume a lot of energy to heat their homes.”

    A common misconception. The heat entering the attic through the roof is used to ventilate the attic. The more heat, the faster air is sucked in through the soffit and exits through the peak. Essentially zero heat is retained as far as the living space is concerned, especially since the insulation is between the attic and the house. Painting the roof white (or using a white shingle) greatly increases the longevity of the roof, so over the course of 50 years only one replacement is needed instead of two, thus saving $$$ and CO2. Note that in winter the sun is low, and so heat gain through the roof is low, but in summer the sun is high, so heat gain increases, which can overload the attic ventilation system. If you live in an area where AC is used at all, a light coloured roof will save energy yearly, and if not, a light roof will save energy in longevity of the roof. There is no reasonable scenario where a dark coloured roof will save either CO2 or money.

  5. 705
    Rod B says:

    FYI, most houses in Tucson have white roofs — looks nice with their swamp coolers which many also have in lieu of A/C.

  6. 706
    Alan of Oz says:

    Re #628 & #629: Brian & David, thanks for your analysis and pointers, much appreciated.

  7. 707
    Fran Barlow says:

    RodB #688 I have no particular confidence in the EPA. Theyt are as good or as bad as the people who work for them.

    I was merely making a point about the way I’d *like* to see the EPA operate i.e. what would be reasonable in all of the circumstances.

    English note: [evidently not evidentially]

    (We schoolteachers never knock off work)

  8. 708
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #691 Rob B:

    “…you can continue to pick out specific types of corruption that don’t apply to public officials…”

    I do? Actually, I believe if you read carefully public officials are involved in all my remarks on the topic of corruption of public officials. If not, strictly an oversight on my part. What would we be discussing otherwise? PR professionals bribing other PR professionals?

    As with the temperature record 2008… it’s all about trends. Based on other futile discussion with you, “Rod B”, trends seem to escape you, so you’re forgiven for your oversight.

    For the record, I’m done discussing this with you, “Rod B”, in particular. If you need to talk about it further, take on another pseudonym. If that’s unacceptable, you can claim victory if you want, I don’t give a c–p what you think.

    #701 Hank Roberts:

    What a relief that comment was.

  9. 709

    S. Barwick:

    I have detrended PDO index data from 1900-2008, if you’re interested. I find that in multiple regressions of temperature anomaly on possible causal factors, PDO accounts for about 4% of the variance. Compare this to 75% for ln CO2 over the same period.

    CAPTCHA: “previously forested”

  10. 710
    Theo Hopkins says:

    I’m sitting here in the UK wondering how long it will be for Carlin and Pielke to cross the Atlantic. So far a Google News search only flags up US and Canadian sites. (Gavin, you have missed not only one Galileo this time but two Galileos, as far as I can see. Tut, tut.)

    Today is Saturday.

    Tomorrow is Sunday when (the esteemed climate scientist) Christopher Booker writes a column in the (right-leaning) Sunday Telegraph. A Pound to a penny, Booker will raise these issues.

  11. 711
    S. Barwick says:

    Barton Paul Levenson:

    Thanks. That’s interesting. My comments were even more superficial than I realized!

  12. 712
    Theo Hopkins says:

    On “global warming” morphing into “climate change”. It hasn’t.

    The first IPCC panel reported in 1990 and was set up in 1988.

    That’s 21 years ago.

    As an active environmentalist in London I first heard about Global Warming in the early ’90s as part of the campaign in the UK to shut down the ever-increasing road building program of the Thatcher government. (We won, BTW)

    At an early demo in London, a car(mine)had a beautifully made “greenhouse” mounted on the roof and a large inflated globe within, and an “exhaust pipe” (plus smoke tablets) going from said car to said greenhouse.

    No one of the public had the faintest idea what we were on about. A totally wasted effort. :-(

    However, if the same was done today, the meaning would be quite clear. Back then probably 99% had never heard of global warming, and I don’t recall any bodies/lobbies saying it wasn’t happening – mostly as they had never heard of GW.

    That Global Warming has elided into Climate Change is a fiction.

  13. 713
    Theo Hopkins says:

    You Yanks got independence, but what has it done for you? Right leaning think tanks that deny AGW. We don’t have such in England. You made a mistake – please come home. All is forgiven.

  14. 714

    RE # 667 me, #699 L. David Cooke, #685 EL, #689 Brian Dodge, #696 James, #697 EL, #700-#701 Hank Roberts,

    All of these are related comments on the white roof concept; they are helpful to me. Thanks.

    Some questioned the source of the white paint idea. A variety of references attribute the current motivating statements to Energy Secy, Chu and Art Rosenfeld of the California Energy Commission. Hank Roberts goes back to a 1989 report by ONRL (see #700 here).

    A number of references related to the specific Pres. Obama administration thinking are at Joe Romm’s site, .

    A variety of commenters here at Real Climate suggest that selectivity is in order, so the comment by Secy. Chu seems overly general.

    I add, that as far as air conditioning goes, it would not help much for my house since I mostly open windows to accomplish that, and in the winter it would cause me to burn slightly more natural gas for heating. I was thinking of the albedo effect of the white roof, and my comment was intending to get at the quantitative benefit of that. Brian Dodge (#689) seems to think it would be not particularly cost effective given the cost of paint relative to the benefit.

    Hank Roberts directs me again to look stuff up and helps with the ORNL reference.

    On balance, it looks like the white roof idea is good for folks who spend a lot on air conditioning. For the rest of us, I hope there is not a government program on this.

    When I started writing this comment I was thinking that a further study was needed to validate what seemed like overly general conclusions of the paper by Akbari and Rosenfeld at Ugh, another study?

    The reading the Akbari paper again, I see we in California have already jumped in with regulation, and have roof requirements written into law. Unfortunately, though these may be modestly beneficial and worth the cost for some of California, in coastal Northern California, they are downright dumb – - not a new type of outcome for us.

    But beyond the air conditioning question, we still have the albedo part. How important is that relative to air conditioning considerations and their impact on the CO2 situation?

    I am way over my head on this; maybe a study is needed. But then, as Hank Roberts might say, “Just go look up some more stuff.”

  15. 715
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #13 Theo Hopkins:

    Yeah, but you’ve still got potty aristocrats blowing through their mustaches, rattling their newspapers and spouting off outside of their competence, heh!

  16. 716
    James says:

    Theo Hopkins says (4 July 2009 at 1:22 PM):

    “You Yanks got independence, but what has it done for you? Right leaning think tanks that deny AGW. We don’t have such in England.”

    Oh, really? Monckton.

  17. 717
    Rick Brown says:

    Not to suggest we take Theo up on his offer, but it appears that at least one member of Britain’s upper house has an appreciation of science that exceeds what I would expect from a member of ours.

    Because science rejects claims to truth based on authority and depends on the criticism of established ideas, it is the enemy of autocracy. Because scientific knowledge is tentative and provisional, it is the enemy of dogma. Because it is the most effective way of learning about the physical world, it erodes superstition, ignorance and prejudice, which have been at the root of the denial of human rights throughout history, whether through racism, chauvinism or the suppression of the rights of women.

    Dick Taverne
    House of Lords, London
    Letter to the journal Nature, June 11, 2009

    (I hope preview’s not gone for good.)

    [Response: Preview is back. sorry about that. - gavin]

  18. 718
    Fran Barlow says:

    There has been some discussion in this topic about WCRs via Carlin’s claim about the positive link between CO2 emissions and human welfare and by logical implication, human welfare and the combustion of fossil fuels.

    I thought I’d briefly comment on this as a counter factual — what condition would humanity be today if, for example, recoverable crude oil reserves in about 1850 had been just 5% of what they turned out to be subsequently.

    Clearly there would have been a downside. Some species of whale which were sources of oil for lamps might have come under pressure, at least until electricity was rolled out. But it’s hard to imagine that most of the 20th century’s wars could have been fought with the same intensity they were. So there’s an advantage right there –some hundreds of millions fewer war deaths and injuries — maybe no Nazis and no holocaust. Would the US and Britain have bothered meddling so much in Middle Eastern politics if there had been nothing but broccoli there? Probably not. So they wouldn’t have bothered overthrowing Mossadegh in 1951 and installing Shar Reza Pahlavi. There may not have been an Israel and even if there were, the US wouldn’t have been interested in supporting it, so an accommodation would have been reached. There’d have been no Suez Crisis, no support for Saddam Hussein and the Ba’athists in 1958, 63, and 68. Fundamentalists could not have remained in power in places like Saudi Arabia or achieved power in Iran. No world oil shock of 1973. The war in Indochina between 1954-75 could not have been prosecuted by the west so there’s another mountain of misery avoided. No Pol Pot. The Russian Stalinists could not have survived and there’s have been no Afghan War either. No Al Qaeda.

    Domestically since cars would not have been as cheap to run, the advanced countries would have had no choice but to build more compact cities with greater public transport. So much less road trauma, commuting and fast food — no MacDonalds.

    Agriculture would have remained very local or been dependent on its out put being moved largely by electrified train. There would be less packaging and less low tech consumer waste and packaging, since the feedstock for this would be at a premium.

    The health system would cost less to operate as people would be less often unhealthy or injured.

    There would have been massive redirection of engineering skill into producing renewables and improving urban life rather than into war and misery.

    And world CO2 concentrations would be a lot lower.

    Sounds good.

  19. 719
    John Mashey says:

    re: #671 science outreach

    Gavin even does interviews for Popular Mechanics(!), truly above and beyond the call of duty.

    H/T: Accuweather

    Hence, we might have:

    1) science, often presented here, and often with all the legitimate arguments

    2) anti-science (or sometimes called agnotology, trying to make knowledge disappear or obscure it by any method whatsoever): often debunked here. The Carlin report certainly looks like that.

    3) pseudo-science: also debunked here (i.e., clearly silly stuff that someone wants to get accepted as science); anti-science sometimes picks this up, but it usually seems to originate with someone who has an idea

    but I’d call Gavin’s examples at PM (and sometimes here):

    4) non-science, cases where:

    a) A researcher thinks results are more significant than they are
    b) Or a press release muffs it
    c) Or the results get over-interpreted going from science to media stories.

    It is often hard to tell whether any of this is purposeful, especially when a paper says one thing, but it comes across different in a media interview.

    Is there a more-accepted, simple category name for 4)?

    [Response: I've worked with the PM people a fair bit, and once you understand a little of their cultural and historical role, they do a pretty good job on the science - and since their circulation is much larger than SciAm, Discover or Seed, finding ways to reach their audience is certainly worthwhile. No need for an exclamation mark. - gavin]

  20. 720

    Theo writes:

    You Yanks got independence, but what has it done for you? Right leaning think tanks that deny AGW. We don’t have such in England. You made a mistake – please come home. All is forgiven.

    We’ve got the First Amendment, you’ve got the Official Secrets Act.

  21. 721
    dhogaza says:

    You Yanks got independence, but what has it done for you? Right leaning think tanks that deny AGW. We don’t have such in England.

    No, you have Monckton, the unthink untank :)

    ReCaptcha: intimate $2,891,870

    RC contributors are offering themselves ala Warren Buffet, now? :)

  22. 722

    Re CTG’s (695) observation of a lot of newcomers to this site:
    That makes it all the more important that we keep in mind that the person we’re responding to may have a very different view of the issues, and may or may not be aware of the whole context. Telling them that they’re regurgitating nonsense, that they should read up on the science, that they’re stupid, illiterate, or what not, is likely not having a positive effect on their scientific mindedness; To the contrary, they’ll leave, with a more negative notion than before of climate science and of this site. And that is a real shame.

  23. 723

    Bart Verheggen wrote in 722:

    Re CTG’s (695) observation of a lot of newcomers to this site:

    That makes it all the more important that we keep in mind that the person we’re responding to may have a very different view of the issues, and may or may not be aware of the whole context. Telling them that they’re regurgitating nonsense, that they should read up on the science, that they’re stupid, illiterate, or what not, is likely not having a positive effect on their scientific mindedness; To the contrary, they’ll leave, with a more negative notion than before of climate science and of this site. And that is a real shame.

    If I may add my own two cents, for whatever it is worth…

    Telling them that they are spouting nonsense and that they should go — go and read up, well, they are likely to follow the first bit of advice. They might even follow the second bit — by picking a disinformation site. Quite easy to find as such nonsense will often rise to the top of the search engines. But at least it makes the person handing them the advice feel superior — and it doesn’t require any effort on their part.

    It is possible to suggest resources and do so in a polite fashion, but when dealing with someone new to the discussion, this is best done in the context of addressing some of their questions and politely suggesting where they will find more information such as Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming. However, this is best don’t in a delineated fashion, not as a, “If you have any other questions about anything go there. Don’t bother me any more.”

    There are times to chase certain individuals away with a stick, but this is best done when they have made it obvious to everyone that they are not here to learn. We should always keep in mind the fact that for every individual that raises a few questions, there are going to be others with the some of the same questions and still others who can learn from the responses to those questions. And if you “loudly” refuse more or less at the outset to deal with a given individual even more are likely to walk away with the wrong lesson.

    It also pays to keep in mind the fact that there are individuals who come here with no other goal in mind except to provoke a reaction which to someone quite new will appear to be entirely out of proportion to the provocation. Maybe these are just lone individuals, individuals sent in from another website, or may be even someone getting paid.

    Don’t give them what they are looking for. Let them establish who they are in their own words for all to see — and then chase them out with a stick. But don’t count on newbies who are watching you react having been around for the past several weeks or months because by definition they haven’t.

    Anyway, just a few observations any Rabett worth his salt might make…

  24. 724
    ccpo says:

    713 Theo Hopkins says:
    4 July 2009 at 1:22 PM

    You Yanks got independence, but what has it done for you? Right leaning think tanks that deny AGW. We don’t have such in England. You made a mistake – please come home. All is forgiven.

    I think you meant to say, “We made a mistake – please come home. Forgive us all.”


  25. 725

    #713 Theo Hopkins,

    We can botch things up a bit, but this seems to work in parallel with good old English ways of doing things.

    But there is a certain ring to the “all is forgiven” line. That was what Charles II said to the leaders of Parliament that had a part in cutting off his father’s head. As I last heard the story, he reneged on this offer and subjected those folks to the traditional punishment for treason instituted by King Edward I.

    In delicate company, this is referred to as the “triple death” execution.

  26. 726
    James says:

    Fran Barlow says (4 July 2009 at 11:59 PM):

    “I thought I’d briefly comment on this as a counter factual…”

    While I really don’t want to get into discussing off-topic political subjects, I have to say that what you call a counter-factual is more an ignore-the-factual. For the idea that the intensity of war would be less absent fossil fuels, consider the US Civil War as an example. On Middle Eastern politics and the idea that it’s somehow all down to US meddling, I suggest you read up on Islamic history.

  27. 727
    John Mashey says:

    re: #719 Gavin

    Actually, I think the (!) is warranted, but positively.

    I just finished “Unscientific America” by Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum, who make *strong* pleas for more and better science outreach to broader audiences, which of course means baking it better into the rewards structure.

    I used to devour PM in grade school/high school (some farmboys do that). The (!) was less an indication of surprise than one of pleasure to see quality content getting into a widely-read publication, i.e., further down into the lower-left corner of the Information Channels section of this.

    The comment (about scientists) “and very few deal directly with general media or blogs”, I still think is true … and while understandable, is sometimes unfortunate, given that some patient cultivation, A3, A4 of the media really helps.

    Hence, I am delighted to see this in PM.

  28. 728
    Brian Dodge says:

    My local Lowe’s home improvement store has white roof coating for $80/5 gallons, which will cover 50 square feet, and R30 fiberglass insulation for $20/31.25 square feet. Should I paint my roof (~$1700), or insulate ($690). Should my girlfriend paint($770) or insulate($300) the roof on the spare room over her garage that she is converting to a gymn?

    Short answer – it depends.

    Long answer- I have a slab roof structure; open beams, natural wood planking, R32 foam insulation, 3/4” air gap + stringers, galvanized steel roofing. There’s no place to add insulation, and the roof is 30+ years old and needs painting anyway to extend its life, so I will paint it white. My girlfriends roof is 5 year old shingles in good shape, and the attic is easily accessible and was left unfinished and uninsulated, so we will insulate, and not paint, at least for another 20 years.

    The world expenditure on roofs over the next 20 years may well be on the order of a trillion dollars regardless of global warming. The incremental cost of making them white is probably near zero, and the energy savings of insulating probably will more than pay for the costs over the roof lifetimes, so taking these steps as the opportunity arises, properly accounting for local conditions, is, as some say, a no brainer.

  29. 729
    CM says:

    Bart Verheggen, I’m impressed how you practise (#317) what you preach (#722) with your constructive, reasoned replies to Tom Fuller’s questions. Sadly, a 1000-character limit seems to have cut them short on Fuller’s own blog, where he embraces your suggestions on framing the questions, but appears unaware that you also address their, ahem, substance.

  30. 730
    Fran Barlow says:

    #726 James

    While I take your point about staying on topic for this site, it is clear that the intensity of the Civil War was less than the intensity of battle in the major theatres of WW1 and WW2 and later. Nothing like the pattern bombing of Tokyo or Dresden happened during the Civil War.

    I also never claimed that troubles in the middle east were “all down to US meddling”. Other local actors responded in ways which often made things worse. The world’s politics is also a complex and dynamic system in which US policy choices are clearly one very significant component. Yet had the US not become so closely involved, the results would have been greatly different, though there would still almost certainly have been serious conflicts — its just that these would have played out without considering the US as a major factor.

  31. 731
    Rod B says:

    Fran Barlow (707), Yes, I think I got that. I was just reminding you of the old proverb, be careful what you wish for. ;-)

  32. 732
    Rod B says:

    Doug B I’m getting bored with your chameleon debate points, too. Take your bat and ball and go home; I don’t care.

  33. 733
    RichardC says:

    726 James says, “On Middle Eastern politics and the idea that it’s somehow all down to US meddling, I suggest you read up on Islamic history.”

    1000 years of being invaded and vilified is enough to warp just about any group. Hitler helped too. It really doesn’t do any good to blame one group or the other. It’s all just excuses for friends when they kill, and demonization of foes when they do the same. If Palestinians were Christian, the US would ___?

    What would have happened if the USA had never left the British Empire? WW1 and WW2 would never have happened as Germany et al would have been too weak for either war. It’s not like freedom was at stake during the revolution. (though England offered the slaves freedom.) I suppose the world would find itself in an entirely different mess, so perhaps it was for the best. It’s like Gavin said about models… to test, crank up an identical universe and wait a few billion years. All we can do is go from here, and stopping the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf is key to improving our situation. Unfortunately, oil nations have a product which costs $2-$5 a barrel. Even at $15 a barrel, they’ll sell. Can you imagine that there will be no buyers at $15? To come full circle, if we do manage to stop oil sales, just how peeved will the citizens of the region be when they find out they’ve been royally shafted? All that oil money gone to wars and princely toys, and nothing left for the masses.

    By the way, re-captcha uses the two words for different purposes. Only one is tested. The other is a word out of a book or newspaper that they’re having trouble digitizing. The assumption is that if the testee (that’s you) get the one word right, the other one oughta be right too. So every time you successfully recaptcha, you help digitize a book.

  34. 734
    Fran Barlow says:

    #731 Rod B

    Being careful what you wish for is indeed basic good sense and taking responsibility for what ensues is the accompanying ethical standard


  35. 735
    James says:

    RichardC says (5 July 2009 at 10:16 PM):

    “1000 years of being invaded and vilified is enough to warp just about any group.”

    Huh? You really, seriously need to read some history, because the invasions were the other way around.

  36. 736
    David Ferrell says:

    To Gavin A. Schmidt, NASA GISS


    If laughter is the best medicine, I got a near-lethal dose (almost died laughing) when I saw that the Carlin “report” was essentially nothing but a rehashing of standard denialist junk—the usual worn-out garbage about the earth having cooled since 1998, the sun being responsible for recent warming, natural climatic variability being an explanation of current trends, the absence of a clear link between increasing ocean-atmosphere temperatures and hurricane intensity, and the water-vapor feedback being (gasp!) negative.

    Essentially everything in the Carlin “report” flies in the face of current information. Global temperature is clearly trending upward, as the years since 1998 are among the hottest ever recorded—2005 being the hottest year in the instrumental record, 2007 the second hottest, and several years in the first half of the decade following closely behind. Even the La Niña year of 2008 was in the top ten. Moreover, the minor fluctuations in the solar irradiance seen in recent decades are insignificant in comparison with the strength of the net forcing due to GHGs, which is an order of magnitude larger. There is virtually universal agreement that average hurricane intensity on Earth is a straightforward function of ocean-atmosphere temperatures; thus, rising SSTs will inevitably mean more intense hurricanes. Finally, natural climatic variability is just random noise compared to the loud-and-clear signal of the upward trend in the curve of global temperature, which now seems to have an accelerating characteristic.

    A particularly serious omission of the Carlin “report” is the latest research on the atmospheric H2O response to greenhouse-driven warming ["Water-vapor climate feedback inferred from climate fluctuations," in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L20704, doi: 10.1029/2008GL035333, 2008], due to Andrew Dessler and his colleagues, who (as you would know) used the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite to show that the water-vapor feedback is strongly positive, tending to double the initial warming due to CO2 itself. This not only accords with a great mass of observations over the past two decades, but validates mainstream climate modeling results which show the robustness of the feedback in operation.

    And yet the Carlin report had the temerity to claim that the carefully reasoned assessment that led to the EPA’s endangerment finding was based on evidence and observations that were “out of date.” Seems the exact opposite is the case.

    Could anything be more out of date, backward-looking, or antiquated in spirit than the Carlin report’s repackaging of yesterday’s denialist illusions and pseudoscientific nonsense about climate—fantasies that have been shot down time and again, that don’t have a melting Greenland glacier’s chance in a warming climate when exposed to the light of reason, yet which have been presented to the world as if they were a brilliant refutation of the CO2-global warming link by the sharpest analytical minds in the field of climatological research?

    Clearly, the distinguished experts who authored this revealing document are scientists so far ahead of the curve that the obviously backward and befuddled leadership of the EPA could do nothing but engage in a panicked attempt to cover it up and pretend that there was NO SUCH THING.

    Finally, one can only marvel at the speed with which, once the cat was out of the bag, the rush to judgment proceeded. I’m talking about the angry calls by conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill for a full-scale congressional investigation, as well as the demands from outraged citizens for the impeachment of President Barack Obama and the removal of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on grounds that they must have had a hand in the report’s suppression. It almost looked like there was going to be a lynching. This was in addition to cries for the immediate nullification of the House vote on the Waxman-Markey bill and even automatic reversal of the EPA endangerment finding itself.

    Senator Inhofe, the premier contrarian lawmaker on Capitol Hill, said heatedly of the Carlin report’s suppression that “we’re going to expose this,” adding that the EPA “cooked the books” and that “the science is not there” to support the official endangerment finding. He also promised that if Waxman-Markey ever makes it to the Senate it will be (quote) “dead on arrival.”

    Not to be outdone, House minority leader John Boehner gained his own brand of foolish distinction when he declared Waxman-Markey to be “the greatest job-killing bill ever to be voted on by Congress”—to which I would reply, John Boehner is the greatest fool ever to have opened his mouth. Then there was the show put on by Rep. Joe Barton in advance of the expected House decision on the bill. Apparently believing he could use the suddenly-breaking “scandal” over the “suppression” of the Carlin report to stop Waxman-Markey from coming to a House vote with his last-minute “sky-is-falling” antics, which approach being comical, Barton is recorded in short You Tube videos making a royal fool/arse/idiot of himself. The only thing he’s missing is a dunce cap. Links to the high points in his “performances” are as follows:

    Never before have the overheated blunderbusses of “The Party of NO” so stumbled over themselves in evident confusion over an issue which, because it exists largely in their own cognitively-challenged minds, not only assures that they will lose any ensuing face-off over the science (which is very much “there,” Thank You) but reveals their grasp of reality to be failing miserably, presaging a welcome and long overdue meltdown of the entire Republican Party.

    Now let us ask: exactly what was it in this unsolicited and arguably inappropriate “report”—not official EPA business, and not conducted by any agency scientist—that was supposed to have been suppressed? The simple fact is that there was nothing to suppress. The agency would have to say that there was officially no report. But if there was officially no report, then there was no report, period. Unofficial “reports” do not count as reports!!! There’s nothing there—unless we’re talking about some recycled quasi-pseudointellectual garbage from the early days of the global-warming debate, stuff that was rotting in the landfill of rejected ideas even before the superannuated George Bush the Elder was forced, in consequence of his own robust incompetence, to give up the perks and comforts of his presidential lifestyle to tough it out in the chilly autumn of his old age.

    And now we’re going to see a metaphorical shootout, on the high ground of twenty-first-century atmospheric physics, between the likes of Inhofe-Barton-Boehner-Sensenbrenner & Co. and Hansen-Schmidt-Lacis-Chu-Holdren-Karl etc. on the issue of the radiative forcing due to greenhouse gases? If the antiquated bigwigs of God’s Own Party are determined to make an issue of the Carlin “report,” they will be drinking what, in the bitter end, could prove to be the most burning of poisons. Will they lift the chalice to their lips? Seems they’ve already taken the first perilous sips.

    [>>>P.S. RealClimate is a fantastic website. Glad I found it. Keep up the snarky commentaries. Antidotes and correctives are seriously needed to the incredible amount of misleading and just plain wrong information out there -- as well as deliberate disinformation sponsored by the fossil-fuel industry, intended to confuse the public and make it appear that there is significant scientific disagreement about the reality and seriousness of global warming.]

  37. 737
    Mark says:

    “On Middle Eastern politics and the idea that it’s somehow all down to US meddling, I suggest you read up on Islamic history.”

    And if you think that the problems AREN’T caused by the US with the willing and nearly eternal connivance of the UK, watch Robert Newman’s “History of Oil”.

  38. 738
    Mark says:


    ” Rod B says:
    5 July 2009 at 9:59 PM

    Doug B I’m getting bored with your chameleon debate points, too.”


    “It’s not warming/it might be, but not us/it is, but not much, it is but it’ll be good/it is and it’s too late now” ring a bell?

  39. 739
    Mark says:

    “Nothing like the pattern bombing of Tokyo or Dresden happened during the Civil War. ”

    Because tecnhology didn’t let it happen.

    There were several atrocities on towns and cities by the ACW that weren’t repeated in WW1. They relied on people alone, though.

  40. 740
    James P says:

    Not knowing the meaning of ‘bubkes’ (I have now read the comments, but I hadn’t then), I typed it into Google. Of the first three hits, two were to this site. I’m not sure if this is more a measure of the power of RC, or of the obscurity of the term, but if it really does mean ‘goat-droppings’ then perhaps these guys should be told!

  41. 741
    CTG says:

    Re: Fran Barlow 718.

    For once I find myself agreeing with James :-)

    Deaths in military combat in WW1 greatly exceeded those of WW2 (at least 2:1), despite the fact that most combat in WW1 did not involve the combustion of oil or coal. The vast majority of deaths in WW2 were non-combat (Holocaust, Stalin purges etc).

    All that is leaving aside the even greater number of people who died from Spanish flu shortly after WW1, which certainly didn’t have anything to do with CO2.

    So, while I would not dispute that CO2 has the potential to cause even greater death and destruction if left unchecked, I don’t think you can really argue that fossil fuels on their own have resulted in more deaths than if they had not been discovered. If anything, the greater efficiencies of mobile warfare, enabled by fossil fuels, actually reduced combat-related deaths.

    Having said that, fossil fuels have most certainly seen their day, and need to be phased out as soon as possible.

    [Response: No more on this topic please. - gavin]

  42. 742
    win says:


  43. 743
    Rod B says:

    RichardC, it’s too OT to go into details, but you sure have an oddball interpretation of history. The colonies breaking away from King George caused WWII?? WOW! It’s not like greater Europe had difficulty going to war with anybody, everybody, any time over the past 1000-1500 years…

  44. 744
    lw says:

    Considering Carlin’s comments based on his expertise and education – i.e. seperating the wheat from the shaft:
    Debunking Carlin’s comments about the ‘science of climate change’ because he is an economist not a climatolgist, in addition to his association with political groups, is a critical point. The potential damage his comments have to sound scientific research regarding climate change are not to be underestimated. However, he is an expert in economic analysis and here his comments are more than worth noting! Using the arguement of the validity of his experitise and education goes both ways, as an economist familiar with cost analysis and EPA programming, his points are to be taken seriously. Just because his scientific anaylsis of climate change is questionable at best, his critique of EPA’s cost benefit anaysis – i.e. the effectiveness of the dollars allocated by EPA to tackle the problems of climate change are to be taken seriously. To suggest that EPA has kept some quack on the payroll for 40+ years is to question the efficacy of EPA as a whole. His questioning the fruitfullness of EPA’s progammatic development and the validity of the dollars allocated to specific tactics/programs to deal with the issues of cliamte change are economically validity of EPA’s budget process. The allocated funds/economics of solving the problems of cliamte change do need to be researched and fully examined. As a footnote, it is not a cover-up to fail to publish the ‘opinions’ of a staffer…since in that case his comments are to be taken as EPA’s, and therefore sanctioned and agreed upon by EPA. If he had commented as a private citizen, which is his right, then EPA would be obligated to publish his comments.

  45. 745
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #726 James:

    I found Fran’s remarks thought provoking though as you say, things are not necessarily so simple.

    However, consider that one of the key factors making the Civil War so bloody was the unleashing of modern quantities of weapons created and transported in part thanks to the full integration of coal into our industrial economy.

    I wonder if the per capita death rate down to war remains constant, regardless of the absolute size of the general population?

    ME reminds me of many discussion boards concerned with controversial topics: when not being attacked by outsiders, internecine warfare commences. Don’t forget Crusades, Prester John, etc.

    #723 Rod B:

    Anything else you’d like to discuss?

  46. 746
    Michael says:

    SecularAnimist 622,
    1. I agree with you that a warmer planet will cost us.
    2. I am asking how you calculate those costs unless you can calculate our relationship with energy.

    Disregarding #1 for a sec, how would you characterise our relationship with energy?
    Can we agree that humans are dependant on energy?

  47. 747
    Michael says:

    SecularAnimist 622,
    Maybe I have been poorly phrasing my argument.

    In regard to human welfare, I agree with you that a warmer planet will cost us.

    Restricting energy will also cost us.
    How would you characterise our relationship with energy?
    Can we agree that humans are dependant on energy?

  48. 748
    John Mashey says:

    re: #744 lw

    a) Are you asserting that competent economists, faced with the same problem, will agree, say to the same extent as physicists would, if faced with the same problem within their specialty?

    If you say so, how exactly do explain Stern compared to Nordhaus, for example?

    b) Personally, if someone outright denies strongly-established science, I do not want them *anywhere near* the policy table. Their ideas in their own domain may or may not be good, but policy discussions *must* start from good science, not anti-science. Starting from anti-science makes me very suspicious of any further claims.

    If some economist says there is no link between cigarettes and disease, I really don’t want them having anything to do with modeling healthcare policies or tobacco-control laws.

    c) Finally, have you worked for the US Federal government? Do you believe that someone’s long tenure with a government agency *guarantees* their competence?

    Note: that is *not* a claim that government employees are generally incompetent. I’ve known enough fine ones to think otherwise.

    However, having worked for the Federal Govt decades ago, and having gone through merit review processes in which my supervisor could:

    - Check “meets expectations”
    - Check “exceeds expectations” if they wrote a page of justification
    - Check “below expectations” if they wrote (at least) a page of justification

    I got the idea. Hopefully, it’s better now…

  49. 749
    Rod B says:

    Mark (738), No, not from me…

  50. 750
    lw says:

    John Mashey

    Actually I have worked for the government (16 years) and have worked in the private sector – in both arenas as environmental planner – progammatic & policy work. I can tell you that the dollars being spent are saddly misguided and only occationally are well spent – millions of dollars are spent for programs that fulfill some agenda as opposed to tackle the underlying problems in the first place. RE: the issue whether or not there is any validity in Carlin’s argument – things are rarely black and white. Let me tell you from years of experieince with EPA – they play politics big time and are full contradictions, there’s a lot of black and white. Whether intended by Carlin or not, it would be wise for EPA to focus on solving problems smartly, rather than being politically ‘correct’ regardless of the flavor of the month. Since you’ve worked for the feds, then you well know how contradictions and competing interests too often rule the day and money intended to solve real problems gets allocated to those things that ruffle the least amount feathers. Science is not politically inclinded and neither should budgets, ah the perfect world elludes us.

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