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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are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no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. 151

    #146 RodB

    We can’t blame the CBO for working with wrong numbers which seem to have been fed to them.

    Maybe your $2.30 per million BTU is right for average high burning coal, but a lot of coal is not ‘high’ burning. It should not matter that much on a BTU basis, but it seems to. A majority of the coal used today is Powder River Basin coal and it works out to cost about $1 at the mine for a million BTU. Adding about 50% for shipping, brings us up to more like $1.50 for a million BTUs. That makes the percentage increase look worse, though the incremental difference may well be what you calculate. The fuel cost for coal looks to be somewhere between 3.35 and $2.65.

    At a cost for natural gas of $4.00 per million BTU this natural gas looks competitive. The outcome will depend on natural gas not going back to the $6 to $12 range. My guess is that the power producers will not tear up their railroad tracks just yet, since these folks have long memories.

  2. 152
    Chris Colose says:

    gavin, I don’t even know why you modellers even bother anymore with sensitivity estimates…according to Tom Fuller at his blog,

    “So the climate model says temperatures will rise by 1 degree and the sensitivity calculation automatically multiplies it by 3.5, and says the temperature will rise by 3.5 degrees.”

    Automatic output. You sneaky people!:-)

    [Response: I wonder what took them so long. It’s in the public ModelE code, search for the subroutine “fix_feedback_factor_to_match_political_agenda”. I guess I’d better look for another job now…. – gavin]

  3. 153
    Jim Norvell says:

    I am curious. How much Earth Science does one get in Applied Mathematics or for that matter, Astronomy?

    Jim N

    [Response: Hansen’s degree was in astrophysics, not astronomy, and dealt with radiative transfer in the Venusian atmosphere as a function of aerosols and greenhouse gases – pretty relevant I’d say. He has subsequently written hundreds of papers in all the biggest climate science journals and has been hugely cited across the whole field. You cannot be seriously suggesting that Hansen is unqualified to talk about climate science? As for me, I didn’t start working on climate until my post-doc, and subsequently have written over 60 peer reviewed papers in field on subjects as diverse as solar impacts on climate, reconciling paleo-climate data with models, GCM development, atmospheric chemistry, land surface physics, ocean advection, climate of the 20th Century, the 21st century, 6000 years ago, 8000 years ago and 55 million years ago. Your point? – gavin]

  4. 154

    Journalists have an excellent professional organization: The Society of Environmental Journalists

    They have a fairly extensive handbook and backgrounder to prepare any journalist to cover the global climate destabilization story.

    It is an open site, worth reviewing, and I know they are very open to discussing any corrections or kudos.

  5. 155

    #135 sidd and #144 mine and #147 Hank Roberts,

    Checking the “Synthesis Report” it looks like the ice is not so important as I thought.

    The bigger lag might be caused by the deep ocean cold waters.

  6. 156
    sidd says:

    Re: Mr.Bullis, Ocean Heat Content, etc.

    is a graph from Levitus(2008)

    As to Hansen’s models, in the 2005 paper he does say that their climate model “does not include ice dynamics”

    Perhaps you might want to read that paper as well as “Climate Change and Trace Gases”, available in many places, which argues for an albedo flip mechanism and (relatively) short timescales for icesheet response to forcing, based on paleo data.

  7. 157
    Steve P says:

    Up to half of my household electric bill charges appear to be delivery charges. That suggests to me that if Rod B’s theoretical utility charges are similar to my actual charges, his calculations of carbon penalties are roughly double or more what they might actually be.

  8. 158
    Deep Climate says:

    My post is up now:

    It turns out that the whole section on van de Wal’s Greenland ice study was lifted directly from World Climate Report (run by Pat Michaels). Nearly word for word, without attribution (hence the title “EPA’s Alan Carlin channels Pat Michaels and the Friends of Science”).

    Anyone interested in the searchable version of Carlin’s paper can get it here (it’s still very large, though):

  9. 159
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Deep Climate does the legwork on the Carlin story: awesome.

  10. 160
    Eli Rabett says:

    As to astrology, Theodore Landscheidt was an astrologer. His papers are extensively discussed in Carlin and Davidson. For more than you want to know google Landscheidt on sci.environment. Nothing is so stupid that it does not come back.

    BTW Landscheidt and Piers Corbyn are soul brothers.

  11. 161
    Tom Fuller says:

    Hi all,

    Charles, sorry you don’t like my work. As for the settled science thing, there’s

    If none of those qualify as scientists in your opinion, you could probably point me pretty quickly to statements from scientists who reacted in horror to the claim.

    Happy to learn more about the use of sensitivity calculations in climate models, if you can point me to the appropriate link.

    As for playing the ball and not the man, check the title of this post. Check how I’ve been described in this thread–and I’m not even a skeptic.

    [Response: You are confused. ‘Bubkes’ is used to imply that an argument has no substance. It is not an insult, nor directed at you. I’m puzzled you think it is since you are not even mentioned in the post. – gavin]

    (Although I imagine being a ‘lukewarmer’ is probably worse, from your point of view.) Check what’s been said about Alan Carlin–I’ve spoken with him and others in the EPA and I know it’s not true–but it certainly doesn’t seem to bother anyone here.

    Feel free to prove me wrong, or continue to trash me or ignore me as you choose. This kind of thing always serves as sort of a Rorschach test, anyhow.

    For all your claims about being different from skeptic blogs, it seems to me that you’re a mirror image.

    [Response: The fact that you are unable to tell science from anti-science, is unfortunately, a big part of the problem. – gavin]

  12. 162
    ccpo says:

    Richard H. says: As for being a Denialist. I think of myself as being open minded. Guess it’s a choice of semantics and points of view.

    Are you a Christian? What was it that was said about being lukewarm? For semantics to apply, there has to be a small difference in meaning between to ideas/words that are essentially the same. This is not the case. 1. You admit to giving more time to non-scientific writing than scientific writing. 2. You claim you want to understand, but don’t read the science, you read denialist opinions (not science, opinion.) 3. Given there is literally nothing giving support to the anti-AGW theory, how is it you are so confused in your outlook?

    The literature is literally many thousands of papers for vs. a handful against. And those handfuls have so far been flawed in their science and/or assumptions. A good example is the Douglass/Christy (I think it was) work that relies on flawed temp reconstructions, or some such. Here’s a paper:

    And here’s the RC rebuttal:

    Spencer is another big name in denialist fare. Here’s a good example of the sorts of flaws one finds in Spencer’s work:

    So, do tell us all what you find so compelling, ’cause it sure as heck ain’t the “science.”

    In sum, you are that sneaky sort of denialist I have described on these pages before, and it is exactly as you self-describe:

    Denialist: I’m not a denialist! I listen to everyone.

    AGW activist/scientist: Ah! Who do you believe?

    Denialist: The Denialists!

    AGW activist/scientist: Ah. I see.

    Denialist: Why? I’m OPEN-MINDED. And they’re POLITE.

    AGW activist/scientist: Ah. I see. So, for you open-minded means listening to anybody regardless of their qualifications or the quality of their work. And science is to be relegated to second place behind blog posts. Is that about right?

    Denialist: I didn’t say that.

    AGW activist/scientist: But that is what you do. Can you name me five peer-reviewed papers that place the science of Anthropogenically-forced Climate Change in any degree of serious doubt?

    Denialist: Uh….

    AGW activist/scientist: I see. But you’re fair and balanced and open-minded.

    FYI, this is where and how your opinions were manufactured for you:


  13. 163
    Fran Barlow says:

    Steve Reynolds #106:

    Quotes me:”It’s hard to escape the conclusion that much of the contrarian position simply reflects the desire to fight what they see as a culture war against anything that smacks of human (as opposed to ‘market’) control over policy.”

    Then asserts:

    “But the free market (at least if external costs are accounted for) is control by the aggregate of human decisions over policy.

    Then paraphrasing me, continues:

    “From another viewpoint, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that much of the warmist position simply reflects the desire to fight what they see as a culture war against anything that smacks of ‘market’ i.e. aggregate human (as opposed to elitist) control over policy.”

    Let us put aside consideration over whether the term ‘free market’ describes anything that has ever actually existed in human affairs, or could exist, since this discussion exceeds the purpose of this website. Let us allow it to describe roughly what exists now in the advanced industrial countries — the intersection of government policy, the commons with the activities of private investors. It is clear that a good many of the activities take insufficient account of the cost to the commons — externalities if you prefer the economic term — in costing and thus delivering their output. The favoured models of CO2 abatement schemes are exactly consonant with a market based apporach to allocation of public goods, in which the public interest and the managemement of the interest humans have in the commons — here the biosphere — is undertaken by government and the market is left to determine how to deliver these goods most efficiently and effectively.

    So it’s odd that your claim is that we who favour mitigation are opposing resort to market forces. If anything, such is the approach of the other side, some of whom prefer pigovian-style taxes to a global trading regime in emissions. Such taxes could only lead in the long run to subversion of international trade and pander to [protectionist sentiment and porkbarrelling/subsidy. Another approach entails governments favouring specific technologies — building more nuclear plants or solar panels. Need one point out that such plans are farther from market forces than anything mainstream proposals entail?

    One suspects the reasons that contrarians propose such ideas has little to do with the efficacy of the ideas and still less their conformity with ‘market forces’. These reflect a cynical attempt to disrupt effective market-based mitigation efforts, by proposing ideas that have popular appeal but which are unlikely to be implmented precisely because they can be painted as undesirable on one basis or another.

    What is also clear from your text is a theme common in the contrarians’ cultural struggle to preserve existing arrangements of economic advantage — a nebulous angst over governance. You present ‘market’ forces as if they are somehow pure and authentic expressions of ‘aggregate human control’ when theyare, of course, an exercise in the aggregation of *atomistic* human choices made in a context in which the many externalities in which they have an interest are zero-rated as factors in the cost of the goods and services they want. In short, the decisions of individuals in this context persistently deliver them goods that (due to hidden costs) are less valuable than they seem on transfer and thuis suverting the reason underlying their choices in favour of people embezzling the commons.

    It is thus misleading for you and those who share your cultural framework to contrast your preference for ‘market forces’ with the ostensible resistance you see to these in those who favour mitigation. Rather the conflict is between your conception of the scope of market forces and that of those favouring action on mitigation. Yours starts from the proposition that humans have no enduring interest in the health of the biosphere and accordingly that treating it as a repository for industrial waste is not an externality for which the users of this service should bear the full tangible and prospective costs. Such an approach exactly fits the description of a public subsidy, which ought, for you, to be anathema, precisely because subsidies subvert the operation of market forces.

    Ours on the other hand seeks the most efficient means to protect the public interest in the biosphere by making these values transparent in the market, discouraging wasteful resort to this most valuable resource, ensuring that the funds for remedies are raised from those who imposed costs and so forth.

    This is, in embryo, what human control begins to look like in practice, rather than the caricature you offer.


  14. 164
    Rod B says:

    Charles (147), a flyspeck but still incredulous. Are you claiming no proponent of AGW has ever said the words, “the debate is settled”?

    [Response: Find a scientist saying it. But also note what ‘debate’ is being talked about. The point being that the whole phrase implies a false binary distinction settled/not-settled that is simply anathema to the whole scientific enterprise of finding ever better approximations to reality. The vast majority of uses of the phrase is as a strawman critique against mainstream science. – gavin]

  15. 165
    Rod B says:

    Jim Bullis, interesting. I got the $2.30 per million BTUs for coal as the near average across the country from EIA stats. Did a conversion to kWhrs (which can be tricky since one can convert the pure units easily, but until efficiency is applied it’s not kWhrs of electricity.) I didn’t play with natural gas which would have some inherent advantages: it’s a bit more efficient; and BTU for BTU emits noticeably less CO2.sappington belize

  16. 166
    sidd says:

    As I feared, my arithmetic was wrong. 100 cu km of ice only takes 3.4e19J to melt (i overestimated by four orders of magnitude in my comment on 27 June 2009 at 4:19 PM)

  17. 167
    James says:

    Rod B Says (27 June 2009 at 18:11):

    “I then simply assumed that burning coal is the only cost of providing electricity.”

    Bad assumption. In addition to the charges for maintaining transmission & distribution infrastructure that Steve P. mentioned, and taxes &c, you need to multiply your figure by about 0.7, to account for the approximately 30% of US power that comes from nuclear, hydro, geothermal, wind &c. Then there should also be some downward adjustment for natural gas.

    “The average residential bill in my parts is about $150. Plus $70 to pay for the CO2 charges is roughly $220/month or $840 more per year. And that’s just one piece.”

    My average is about $50/month. ($47.40 last month.) So if the increased cost motivates people to take similar steps to what I have (which I don’t think have degraded my quality of life at all), then thanks to the additional CO2 charges they will be paying about $75/month – half what they were paying for the cheaper electricity.

    Indeed, this is exactly what the bill is supposed to do, isn’t? Increase the price so people have an incentive to use less, thereby cutting both costs and emissions.

  18. 168
    robert davies says:

    Richard H. (#60)

    Richard, I applaud your clear and sincere efforts to understand this critically important issue. i’m surmising from your comments that your scientific training is not extensive (and I’m implying no disrespect, simply stating my starting point for this comment).

    Your comment:

    “I am however not going to form an opinion and treat it as dogma. I’d rather try to understand what’s happening to our planet and have the flexibility to look at other peoples opinions and give them the benefit of the doubt…”

    encapsulates the quintessential difficulty in the public climate change discussion.

    Here’s the thing. For try as you might, absent many years of coming-up-to-speed study of mathematics and physics, you simply will not be able to understand much of the science underlying the conclusions of the climate science community. There is of course no shame in this, it’s simply a reality of complex science: it requires years of training. No matter how much you try, you will always be susceptible to specific scientific arguments contradicting well-established findings. This is an exercise that can literally be continued forever by the contrarian community, and they know it.

    Your best chance at arriving at an informed conclusion is to give the benefit of the doubt to the bona fide climate science community. Not any one scientist, mind you, but the community. As illustrated by the many, many endorsements of IPCC findings by every relevant scientific society on the planet, based on a mountain of peer-reviewed evidence. This is how we, as a society, must approach complex science. By all means, strive to understand what you can. But when you come across yet another argument from Patrick Michaels, for example, the benefit of the doubt should not rest with him, but with those doing the actual science.

  19. 169

    #18 Tom Fuller

    It’s good to see you reading in here and I encourage you to do more research on perspectives in RC as it is highly linked to contextually relevant scientific perspectives and data sources from very respected science organizations.

    In consideration of your perspectives I have read I would offer some advice which you may or may not consider:

    It does not matter how ‘intelligent’ a person is, it matters how wise they are. Just because a person can carry on an apparently intelligent conversation based on your perspective does not qualify that person as holistically reasonable in consideration of the relevant contexts, which from what I can tell, you are still not highly aware of as regards climate science. Einstein said “imagination is more important than knowledge”, I would say open mindedness is more important than intelligence. Context is key.

    What you are calling ‘snarky’ is likely merely a recognition of the inadequacy of your understanding of the intents as well as your inability in perspective to reporting on climate based on the relevant contexts of the science of global warming.

    The failure to engage with ‘skeptics’ to which you address is merely the exercising of reason. The skeptic side is making up graphs and using data out of context. You simply have not done enough research to understand this. Chasing phantoms, in this case, merely causes them to split like a virus, attack one phantom and it seems to split into two new phantoms (maybe a poor analogy, but it is late). This of course reasonably disqualifies you from being able to report the relevant news, pertaining to the subject at hand, that of climate change and AGW.

    You see, science is not about both sides, it’s about what survived peer review and peer response and therefore stands to reason based on the evidence (not opinion/rhetoric/or facts out of context). Such level of reasoning is not mere opinion; and if you pit opinion against science and call it fair, then you are merely naive, or ignorant of the relevance of the context.

    Due to your lack of relevant understanding of the science v. opinion, you can ‘only’ try to be fair to both sides, but you can not succeed. What you don’t seem to realize is that your being ‘fair to both sides’ is inadequate to the task at hand due to your lack of understanding of the relevant contexts.

    Your opinion that RC scientists rely on ‘snark’ to bring in readers seems to generate from your general lack of understanding.

    What you consider proper debate is a rhetorical mud slinging fest which would merely waste the time of good scientists.

    It does not matter that you did not use CEI as a source, it matters that you are not well versed in the science of climate and relevant contexts. Without relevant understanding, you simply can not participate in a relevant discussion of the matters at hand, with meaningful relevance in the subject at hand, that of AGW/climate.

    To give you some perspective on opinion vs. science, or what may also be called rhetoric vs. science I would suggest just about any article here in RC or the following links (remember, facts out of context are less relevant or irrelevant):

    #125 Tom Fuller

    Your contributions to journalism, in general, are not the subject. Your contributions to the contextually relevant discussion pertaining to climate science are.

    As to the older model of journalism, I suspect you are referring to when journalism used to report the news. Of course this is an outdated antiquated model as sensationalism has taken center stage with bias and punditry along side performance and editorialization.

    I heartily agree with you, if this is indeed your point, it is not profitable to report the news, but this does not discount the integrity and honor of doing so.

  20. 170
    Tom Fuller says:

    After a review of Alan Carlin’s submission and the rather humbling experience of finding out how little I know about the utilisation of computer models, I have developed what I call Next Generation Questions on Global Warming. If you would like to assist with either the questions or the answers, you would be welcome.

    Thanks in advance for any help that is forthcoming.

  21. 171
    Brian says:

    I am curious as to why you tried to address all of his concerns except the differences in surface and satellite temperature readings?

    If the earth were getting warmer, the readings should be consistent, should they not?

    [Response: Err… they are. And they all show warming. – gavin]

  22. 172
    Theobald says:

    Sorry, corrected: No doubt what’s going on: the usual suspects are gearing up for the overthrow of the Obama administration and especially it’s changing of the US climate policy. Thus we can witness their usual tactics of psychological warfare, as they get them delivered from their neoconservative think tanks. It’s all about the interests of the military-industrial complexes of the world, which as of today have found their ideal form of regime in the chinese capitalist-totalitarian regime, where no natural science gets to disturb the development of economistic dogmatism. It’s by no accident that a lot of climate sceptics are “economists”: they’re members of the global congregation of totalitarian believers in “the marketplace” driven by monopolistic global firms as Microsoft, Coca Cola etc.

  23. 173
    EL says:

    Jim Norvell

    Look for mathematicians to eventually play a larger role.

  24. 174
    CM says:

    Several comments recently compare climate change denialists with flat-earthers (##16, 88, 107, 128 just in this thread). But flat-earthers are very rare and mostly harmless. How about comparing with the much deadlier HIV denialists? The differences are obvious — HIV denialists are a smaller and more derided group, human deaths are more directly attributable to HIV than to GHGs, the basis for the scientific consensus is different, lifestyle changes and simple fixes play different roles, etc. But so are the analogies, including the shockingly irresponsible conspiracy-theorizing petition-mongering by people with irrelevant doctorates (and the odd head of state) at great public health risk to the world in general and much of Africa in particular.

    Which reminds me of this great idea I have for green energy from “clean coal” treated with lemon juice and garlic. Any takers…?

  25. 175
    Mark says:

    John says:

    “What you are calling ’snarky’ is likely merely a recognition of the inadequacy of your understanding of the intents as well as your inability in perspective to reporting on climate based on the relevant contexts of the science of global warming.”

    I would put it at “contempt” myself. Contempt that someone who is supposed to be investigating (this is what sets the professional journalist from the blogger, and the only thing that makes that job wanted in this day and age: so you want to keep it) is merely parroting.

    Contempt that someone who is trying to say they are looking for the truth is merely looking for the story.

    Contempt that they have shown no desire to know what’s going on, just the desire to repeat what is convenient to repeat.

  26. 176
    Mark says:

    Re the reply to 164 by gavin:

    And he and the denialists use that to continue the confusion. When it helps their denial, they say “there’s still lots of debate, therefore it’s not settled. Therefore AGW is not proven”. Then assume when someone gets them on the AGW is not proven that they are saying there is no debate.

    If it helps their and his denial, they say “There is no debate. Anyone who says that AGW is wrong is howled down, they are hounded from their job and they are refused access to the journals”. And hope desperately that everyone forgets the BBC’s request for the story of a scientist refused because of their anti-AGW stance. Not second-hand accounts (“there have been…”) but that scientist who WAS.

    Nobody turned up. Not one.

    But over some things, there IS no debate.

    Human emissions are the majority source of warming in this current climate change and that continued use of fossil fuels will lead to catastrophic change too quickly for us to adapt to.

    There’s debate on the specific feedback of clouds, though there’s empirical evidence of a limit to that. there’s debate on whether hurricanes will become more numerous, more powerful, both or neither. There’s debate whether the UK will see colder weather or not.

    And so on.

    But that doesn’t change the big picture view: AGW is real and if not addressed will become a catastrophe for our current way of life.

  27. 177

    Jim Bullis writes:

    we should not expect immediate evidence of global warming in measurements of surface temperatures. They will lag the buildup of CO2 by quite a long time.

    I get r = 0.87 for ln CO2 and temperature anomaly in the same year 1880-2008 (N = 129).

  28. 178
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tom Fuller,
    One reason for your reception here is that scientists care about the truth. At one point I thought that journalists did as well.

    Deepclimate found the Pat Michaels and other links with a few days of legwork, and that despite having a real day job. Presumably, a competent journalist could have done the same.

    But, then, you were too busy digesting what you’d been spoonfed by your cherrypicked sources for anything that might resemble due diligence. And taking quotes out of context is so much easier than learning something hard like actual science.

    I looked at your “next generation questions”. Gee, how many minutes of research did those take over at Watts up ‘is arse to come up with those? And yet, you have clearly not spent even such a tiny investment of time on this site–to busy quote mining, I guess. To call yourself a journalist is to debase that once proud profession.

  29. 179
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Tom Fuller (170):

    As I alluded to earlier (27), you cannot be serious. If you really think that the questions you have listed are “next generation” questions on global warming, you have a serious lack of understanding of the history of the issue and the various arguments raised. Nothing that you list there is anything other than points that are repeatedly recycled by climate change deniers. And putting anything by A. Watts at the top of such a list brings it into immediate and serious suspicion by those who make it their business to understand the topic. If you don’t understand why that is so, then you have a very serious, truck-wide, gaping hole in your understanding of climate change science. Sorry but that’s the reality of it. Either get up to speed on the issues (IPCC reports, RC articles, Spencer Weart, Chris Colose, Coby Beck, Tamino, etc) or switch to writing about something that you actually know something about. You don’t seem to understand that, with a less than half-baked understanding of climate science, you’ve stumbled into a discussion with some extremely knowledgeable people, and then wonder why they don’t buy into your “equal time for opposing views” viewpoint.

  30. 180
    pjclarke says:

    Tom, re your ‘second generation’ questions. As one poster has already pointed out, your claims are either unsupported, or contrary to the conclusions of the academic literature or in one case contrary to the laws of Physics. I prepared a response only for your site to inform me that posts are limited to 1000 characters and may not contain links [not that friendly to serious discussion huh?]. So here are my thoughts:

    Remember that Anthony Watts is not a reliable researcher, in that he determined what his surfacestation project would find before doing the research. As he said at the start of the exercise

    “I believe we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment”


    So it is not surprising that his website only ever features those stations that confirm his beliefs (inbetween the reports of cold weather) and his ‘preliminary report’ only features photos of stations that are (a) poorly-sited with a warming bias or (b) well-sited and show a cooling trend.

    Here are some that you won’t find highlighted at WUWT

    The NOAA recently compared the results from the 70 or so sites that Watts has designated as ‘high quality’ with the results from the entire dataset and found no significant difference. Their discussion paper is available from here

    The graphic on Page 3 is worth a thousand words; as they conclude: ‘Clearly there is no indication from this analysis that poor current siting is imparting a bias in the U.S. temperature trends.’.

    Remember also that the US is only about 2% of the globe and the global surface record corresponds closely with satellite measurements of the lower troposhere, and also the sea surface temperatures show a strikingly similar pattern of warming.

    One wonders how poorly-sited stations in the US are affecting the seas…..?

    Indeed, the NOAA has stopped correcting for urban heat bias altogether, and their suface temperature record is diverging from other sources. This is further complicated by the drop out of a large number of measurement stations.

    Now you seem to be just channelling Joe D’Aleo and ICECAP.

    Not a reliable source:

    Did you take the basic journalistic precaution of independently verifying the extraordinary claim that NOAA has removed its US urbanisation adjustment, e.g. by asking NOAA themselves?

    – The latest research on Ocean Heat Content shows a recent slowing in the rate on heating, but not a cooling, see

    Recently published papers indicate that the sensitivity of the atmosphere to forcing due to CO2 increase may actually be negative.

    Please cite just two such papers. I suspect you are confusing sensitivity with feedback, e.g. the controversial claims that water vapour feedback may be negative. Even this is at odds with the vast majority of published research, see for example Dessler et al 2008

    On the ‘missing’ tropical troposphere heating, see Santer et al 2008 and the associated factsheet

    Hope this helps,

    Phil Clarke.

  31. 181
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 135

    Hey Sidd,

    I’m sorry however, I did not see that the ocean insolation retention data in Levitus et al was a measured value. Even though the Argo buoy data demonstrates a increase in SST’s and require error correction for the pressure sensors I have not seen significant data suggesting that there is any heating at depth. At most the primary data from NOAA appears to point to cooling at depth.

    If as you point out that the Grace package indicates that the total thermal compensation at the poles accounts for nearly 1/3rd of the energy in the ocean, what happens to the balance. Does the SSTs act as a thermal inversion and if so does that not work in both directions? Would the primary vector not include convection with the surface salinity demonstrating the amount of water released as vapor which would account for the balance of the 2/3rds of the annual insolation?

    With a small amount of LW penetrating into the first three meters and a normal mid-ocean Wind and Wave complex most of the radiant energy is also returned to the atmosphere if not as direct heat then in the form of warm salt aerosols? If you slow the wind you should also reduce the wave and reduce the release of heat energy. If we look at the data for winds in the ITCZ they appear slower. However, in the Arctic region they appear near normal, though there are an apparent increase in Air Pressure or barometric events.

    Is it not possible that the polar barometric events act as significant pipelines for the re-emission of the ocean entrapped LW in the first three meters, by transporting the oceanic heat content energy for stellar release? I suspect that the data we have to date is excellent in light of prior data sets, I just do not know that the conclusions reached so far actually model the total pattern of the global insolation heat flow yet. It may be that there is additional data that I am unaware of that you may be privy. In that case kindly disregard this message and when you are allowed, please share the data with us.

    Dave Cooke

  32. 182
    L. David Cooke says:

    Re: 171

    Hey Brian,

    Overall I agree with Dr. Schmidt; however, for many some of the data sets still seem conflicting. For instance if you look here: the TAO/Triton data sets of 10 buoys (You choose) based on monthly data and the Isotherm data and you will notice both heating and cooling with a significant heating event appearing centered around the 1998 time frame and a seemingly normal variation there after.

    (Now there is an issue of resolution in this image and hence there may be a slight cooling that is not visible. This suggests you may want to look to the heat content data and there in you will see some stations indicating a small heating after the 1998 spike; but, overall there is a trend towards the Pre-98 spike and an appearance of stabilization.)

    If you insert data from a previous recent study discussed here, there appears to be a suggestion of a decrease of the wind in the ITCZ region for these data points. If we take that data into account it appears to disconnect the apparent warming suggested by the decreased wind from the apparent warming that is being noted by the SST data.

    This would suggest that the heat distribution has to have an alternate path of which the oceans SST’s are a small portion, with the primary conduit appearing to be via the atmosphere. As of this time I do not know that there is sufficient data to support this observation; however, it would certainly seem by the inter-connected data sets to suggest there remains more work to do.

    Hopefully, someone on the team here may help explain some of the conflicting points you see much better then I can…, if you are specific I am sure there are plenty of helping hands…

    Dave Cooke

  33. 183
    dhogaza says:

    Tom Fuller, above:

    Check how I’ve been described in this thread–and I’m not even a skeptic.

    From his short bio at the Examiner:

    About half of what he writes here will be a liberal skeptic’s view of environmental issues.

    You might want to correct one of these statements, Tom.

  34. 184
    dhogaza says:

    After a review of Alan Carlin’s submission and the rather humbling experience of finding out how little I know about the utilisation of computer models, I have developed what I call Next Generation Questions on Global Warming

    What make you think that you, with no apparent training in science whatsoever, are qualified to make such a list?

    Here’s your number 1:

    1. Anthony Watts of Watt’s Up With That has surveyed 80% of the USHCN surface temperature measurement sites and found that only 11% of them meet siting specifications. The surface temperature increase that partially gave rise to concerns about global warming coincided with a move to tethered electronic measuring devices (um, I think that means thermometers) that forced the movement of many stations closer to buildings and developed areas, causing warming that may not have been corrected for.

    Um, there’s no question in your “question”.

  35. 185
    Boris says:

    “If the earth were getting warmer, the readings should be consistent, should they not?”

    Sorry, Brian, Carlin’s statement that the satellite analysis shows no significant temp increase between 1978 and 2008 is flat out false. Either he tries to eyeball the graphs (and fails) or someone is telling him what to say.

  36. 186

    #170 Tom Fuller

    I agree with Jim Bouldin #179. Your questions are all old hat, in some cases years old. You simply have not done the needed research to be informed well enough to report on the issue. You can learn a lot about science in here though, so you are in the right place. If you wish, please feel free to contact me via and maybe we can talk. That may get things clearer faster for you. As to your next gen:

    It’s not about activists, climate is about climate, not activism or opinions.

    It’s not about both views, it’s about the science.

    Important to note that it is not about merely peer review, it’s also about surviving peer response.

    It is never about opinion.

    It’s not about hoping one side will win or the other either, it’s about the evidence, physics, and the well reasoned science.

    1. It’s not about anthony Watts and his analysis, it’s about the method of modeling used to model the observations which reduces the error extent.

    2. It’s not about someone saying there is urban heat bias, it’s about the method of modeling used to model the observations which reduces the error extent.

    3. It’s not about surface stations being dropped out, it’s about the method of modeling used to model the observations which reduces the error extent.

    4. The only charts that show a trend change are completely fake, compare to the known trends.

    5. It’s not about opinions about the buoys, it’s about improving the measurements.

    6. Again, it’s not about opinions about the troposphere, it’s about the method of modeling used to model the observations which reduces the error extent.

    On sensitivity positive and negative feedbacks: Since the temps are pushing the upper bounds of the estimated ranges, one could say reasonably that what we don’t know has more in common with the speed of the feedbacks, not the question of CO2 sensitivity as you infer.

    On Plateau in current temperatures: NASA defines climate as 30 years or better and weather as the stuff in between. I would suggest that the definition include 30 years plus attribution for positive negative influence. However, form a weather/climate perspective, it may be reasonable to attribute the recent variation, (by the way variation happens) to the bottom of the Schwabe solar cycle (23/24) and ocean cycle influences, such as the negative phase of the pacific decadal cycle. While not a complete picture, it does give one an idea of medium drivers in natural variation.

    On ‘Tipping point’: What is unclear that dark ocean absorbs more that white ice? The Arctic Ice in the summer is reducing rapidly in ice mass and will soon be a ting of summers past, thus exposing a vast area of dark ocean? Then we absorb more solar energy which further warms the region (Arctic Amplification) which further exacerbates the global warming as a strong feedback… This is not really in question as far as I can tell? Where are you getting your information?

    On Other primary forcings: Try not to let Roger confuse you. For some reason there are folks out there, even a few scattered scientists such as Fred Singer, Pielke, Lindzen, Svensmark, Spencer, etc. that use what I call the baffling with BS and bludgeoning with irrelevance techniques. In some cases, they are merely looking at to little information to formulate their opinions (remember, it’s not about opinion). These are typically red herrings though. Merely a wave of the hand to distract you form the more important issues.

    The OSS links are linked to source materials including NASA, GISS, NOAA, NSIDC, NCDC, NCAR and of course RC. Review the following:

    On Models and UHI

    On Station Drop Out

    On Weather v. Climate

    On Ocean Cooling

    On Arctic Ice

    As to your question:

    “How confident can the public be in the disinterested viewpoint normally expected from scientists?”

    Again, it’s not about engaging with phantoms and fakery. That can go on forever, it’s about the science.

    For reporters, it’s about learning the basis of the science prior to reporting on the subject, and it’s not about giving phantoms equal time with reality. That is not about getting to the truth, but it does keep the public confused. One would think a reporter had an obligation to get to the truth though, but as the Florida Supreme court has ruled, that is not true.

    Come out of the cold Mr. Fuller, it’s getting warm in here.

  37. 187
    Ike Solem says:

    Regarding the climate bill that just passed the house, see this site:

    It is flawed bill especially when all of Washington’s top lobbyists are being paid to undermine it by any means possible, while being egged on by everyone from Warren Buffet to Chevron to Greenpeace. Greenpeace is way off base here, and doesn’t seem to understand politics – the only good thing about the bill is that it opens the door to the legislative process, allowing for better bills to move through.

    The bill’s provisions are complicated – for example, see the “adaptation” section (from above link):

    Under the bill, funding for adaptation programs would come from revenue raised by:

    (1) auctioning of specified percentages of the available emissions allowances each year by the federal government and designating the revenue for particular adaptation programs; and

    (2) earmarking the allocation of specified percentages of allowances, which presumably could be sold in order to create a pool of funding to support particular programs.

    It’s unclear what ‘adaptation’ means, however – and it’s also unclear what ‘clean energy’ means – but the bill is only a first step, and the next goal should be to revise it to get the coal lobby amendments removed.

    The fundamental problem, practically speaking, is that it is all based on cap and trade – when really, at the heart of the bill should be a feed-in tariff system.

    That would place a tariff on all energy imports into the United States, to be calculated based on the global warming potential of each fuel type. Tar sand oil and coal would be the worst offenders, with natural gas imports getting the lowest tariffs. You could also extend it to tariffs on imported manufactured goods and agricultural produce, by calculating the fossil fuel used in each case. Flying organic fruit from Ecuador to the U.S., for example, would incur tariffs.

    Funds from those tariffs would then go to domestic producers of renewable energy, from solar PV and wind turbine manufacturers to utilities that switch from coal to renewables. This would assure public and private investors (states and corporations) that they would have a solid base to build on for the next ten years or so, and would actually fuel large-scale conversions to renewable energy.

    Such an approach would also undermine market manipulation efforts by industry insiders. For example, under the current bill, large oil producers (like Conoco Phillips, closely tied to tar sand imports, Warren Buffet, etc.) are threatening to shut down U.S. refineries and increase imports:

    Feed-in tariffs would put an immediate halt to that kind of thing, as the corporation would see no benefit – indeed, their only profitable option in that case would be to invest in renewable energy. Such tariffs would thus put U.S. foreign and domestic policy on the same page. Currently they are in conflict – U.S. foreign policy is focused on increasing global use of oil and gas via pipeline deals – Nabucco, Baku-Tiblisi, Chad-Cameroon, etc – all of which have large support from the US State Department and client agencies like the IMF and the World Bank.

    Remember, the central issue is not emissions, but rather fossil fuel use. Simple accounting of fossil fuel combustion is the best benchmark – reduce the rate of fossil fuel combustion (coal, oil, gas) and you reduce the rate of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere – it’s very simple.

    Feed-in tariffs would also have the effect of lowering the consumer’s costs for renewable energy, which would only grow cheaper over time, as more and more manufacturing capacity was built – because under equivalent economies of scale, renewables are definitely cheaper than fossil fuels. If you include the true ecological and economic costs of U.S. energy policy (including military expenditures) in the fossil fuel bill, that is even more obvious:

    Note to Jim Bullis: why are you avoiding the obvious fact that electric cars are far more energy-efficient than the ‘rotary engine’ that you are advertising here? Nice deal for you, I guess – free advertising for your business on a popular blog. However, facts are facts – EVs are the future of transportation, simply based on their far greater energy efficiency.

  38. 188
    Craig Hocker says:

    While I recognize there is a distressing amount of denialist disinformation flying around the blogosphere, this popped up on twitter in the last few days,

    as a scientist, I have to say, what the heck is up with that ? If the polar bear populations are doing fine, lets be honest and acknowledge the data and not mislead the public with propaganda of cuddly looking polar bear cubs being in danger. It just gives denialists the political ammo to paint legitimate climate researchers with the alarmists/warmists brush. I think the previous discussion on here about polar bears being able to handle warmer climate and still interbreed with brown bears seems very relevant.

  39. 189
    Mike says:

    RE: 170, Tom Fuller’s next generation questions.

    Great chance to use the ” Climate Denier Crackpot Index”

  40. 190
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 185

    Hey Ike,

    As to electric vehicles being more efficient, please consider the entire energy to work equation. A focus on only the final two energy conversion steps misses the 0.35 Chemical to Electricity along with Transportation and then Electricity back to Chemical decreases. If you suggest localized Solar instead, you then have a photo to electricity efficiency issue of around a max. of 25%, at least the benefit is Solar minus the cost of the PV is free, and you still have to include the decrease in the electricity to chemical conversion…

    (Here is to hoping the Senate can help put things in order and make the first major Energy/Climate law something that will fund and drive the change to greater renewable resources…!)

    Dave Cooke

  41. 191
    Mike says:


    My understanding of M-W is that there is a substantial requirement for increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the electricity mix. This is not a cap and trade issue.

    The renewables requirement, or “Renewable Portfolio Standard, RPS” has been an effective tool for growing renewables at the state level.

    I would guess something like a million times for renewable energy has been delivered because of RPSs than feed-in-tariffs in this country. The financing mechanism is identical.

    The whole feed-in-tariff concept looks like yet another cunning distraction to shift our attention away from what is already viable and working.

  42. 192
    Tom Fuller says:

    Well, folks, I tried. The result is being compared to HIV denialists. Have fun amongst yourselves. BTW, the skeptical attitude I had going into the debate led me specifically to become a lukewarmer.

    I’ve been covering scientific debate since Thor Heyerdahl’s controversy with the American Anthropological Association and never seen the level of spite and contempt found here.

    If and when you experience difficulty or defeat in implementing policy responses to what you consider the great problem of our age, don’t look anywhere but in a mirror to find the reason why.

  43. 193
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Craig Hocker …. as a scientist
    Rhythm Analysis System programmer at UVa?

    You point to Booker, who is talking about the polar bear guy who is convinced CO2 has no effect and it’s all just ocean currents. But he’s a polar bear guy, not a climate guy; Booker then refers to
    > the Manhattan declaration … signed by 500 scientists

    Did you look at that? That’s the March Heartland thing; it uses their usual rather loose definition of “scientist” to count up to 500, right?

    Lambasted here, with links:

  44. 194
  45. 195
    Charles Henkel says:

    Is it actually the case that GCMs tie atmospheric absolute humidity to delta-T through an assumed constituitive relation (RH = constant).

    [Response: No. – mike]


  46. 196
    SecularAnimist says:

    Regarding Tom Fuller’s “journalism”:

    It is important to understand that the extremist, reactionary elements of America’s corporate aristocracy who created, funded and developed what has come to be known as the “conservative media” in America — e.g. talk radio, Fox News, various newspapers & websites — did not merely create a propaganda machine.

    They created and cultivated an audience for that propaganda — a pseudo-ideological subculture that has been systematically conditioned to embrace, adore, believe in and obey whatever is branded as “conservative”, and to despise, abhor and oppose whatever is branded “liberal”. Rush Limbaugh’s fans call themselves “Ditto-Heads”, and that’s as good a name as any for this corporate-created subculture of devotion to the so-called “conservative” media.

    The creation of this audience is crucial to the expansion of “conservative” propaganda because it represents a market — people who come to crave more and more self-reinforcing “conservative” input on every subject. This market in turn stimulates the growth of an independent “cottage industry” of “conservative” content producers who seek to profit from producing “content” for this market.

    Thus the propaganda machine and the audience feed and sustain each other, and grow beyond the publishers, writers, networks, media producers and phony “think tanks” who are directly part of the corporate machine.

    Tom Fuller is simply one of many writers who have chosen to create product to this particular market. In a sense, it is no different from a fiction writer deciding that the market for science fiction, or historical romance novels, or murder mysteries looks potentially lucrative and focusing his efforts on creating product for one of those markets.

    In the relevant instance, the product that he is producing for the “conservative” market is the dishonest and deceitful denial of anthropogenic global warming which misrepresents itself as “skepticism”. He’s basically taking the stream of industry-funded denialist propaganda and repackaging it in the form of his columns as a product that he can peddle to the market for “conservative” content.

    As long as there is such a market, there will be “content producers” like Mr. Fuller who look for success in creating products that will “sell” to that market.

    Well, writers have to make a living somehow. But that sort of writing is not “journalism”. It’s propaganda.

  47. 197
    dhogaza says:

    If and when you experience difficulty or defeat in implementing policy responses to what you consider the great problem of our age, don’t look anywhere but in a mirror to find the reason why.

    All science so far, Tom.

    What was that about playing the ball rather than the men and women?


  48. 198
    SecularAnimist says:

    Tom Fuller wrote: “Well, folks, I tried …”

    You tried to peddle lies, irrelevancies, pseudoscience, the crackpot theories of cranks, and industry-funded propaganda misrepresented as “skepticism”, to people who know better.

    A blog like this is not a good market for your product. You’ll do better selling it to Ditto-Heads.

    And indeed, the only reason you showed up here at all is to generate more “product” that you can sell to the Ditto-Heads: “look how nasty those liberals at RealClimate are!” Ditto-Heads love that stuff.

    Tom Fuller wrote: “I’ve … never seen the level of spite and contempt found here.”

    You are propagandizing the public with deliberate lies and distortions that have been spoon-fed to you by corporations that want to obstruct and delay efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

    To the extent that such obstruction and delay is successful, it will lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people as a direct result of anthropogenic global warming that could have been avoided by earlier action.

    And indeed, the fossil fuel industry’s generation-long campaign of denial, deceit and disinformation — aided and abetted by so-called “journalists” such as yourself — has been tragically successful at creating obstruction and delay, and millions of people are already suffering and millions more will inevitably suffer and die as a result, no matter what we do now.

    You deserve not only spite and contempt but condemnation for what you do.

    The comparison with HIV-deniers is apt, as is a comparison with Holocaust deniers. AGW deniers are worse than either.

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    One of these two bloggers found the needed clue.
    Journalism does work, when the effort to check sources succeeds.
    ReCaptcha knows: Govern- grille

    [Response: It’s probably worth pointing out that the basis for the other blogger’s claim of symmetry between Hansen and Carlin is bogus. Hansen (and others at GISS – including myself) as outlined in Revkin’s front page NYT article and in the NASA Inspector General’s report were hindered and prevented from discussing our own published results in climate science because it was perceived by some in public affairs that any climate science result was embarrassing to the administration. Why were we not allowed to take media calls on our published studies? or were our press releases neutered? or the routine monthly updating of the temperature index pulled? This had nothing to do with our political opinions. Carlin on the other hand has not been suppressed and is free to put any thing he likes on the web or elsewhere. His boss is similarly within his rights not to give official NCEE imprimatur to his work. The equivalent would have been if Hansen wanted his opinions on cap-and-trade issued as an official NASA GISS publication. This has not happened (and won’t) for obvious reasons. Both men do (and should) retain the right to speak as private citizens on any topic they wish. – gavin]

  50. 200
    tamino says:

    Re: #192 (Tom Fuller)

    Well, Tom, we tried. The result is your staunch refusal to learn. You’re not even willing to learn the basics — the stuff you’d get in an undergrad course about climate — before spewing garbage on your blog and in your newspaper articles.

    How can you call yourself a journalist when you refuse to learn BEFORE publishing?

    You just repeat long-long-long-debunked bunk, apparently too lazy to do the *work* that a journalist should do. Shame on you.

    If and when you come to your senses and realize what a fool you’ve been, don’t look anywhere but in a mirror to find the reason why.

    Recaptcha: “the scorched”