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Bubkes

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are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no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. 251
    Eli Rabett says:

    It’s much more effective to go over to Fuller’s blog and say these things. OTOH, it will push his numbers, but he has attracted the usual crowd anyhow.

  2. 252
    Bill Hunter says:

    “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.”

    OSHA has maximum CO2 levels for work settings. So nobody I know of is making such a ridiculous claim. But in need of strawmen. . . .be my guest.

  3. 253
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Jim Galasyn:”For the real story on polar bear populations, see…”

    … quotations from a lawyer representing a special interest group??

    Is there a link to the actual study?

  4. 254
    Rod B says:

    James (way back in 167), no, my assumption is not bad: it is what it is. I was looking for a cheap and quick ballpark/order of magnitude and explained what I did so anyone can draw conclusions. The pertinent question is: given the assumptions and margins are the numbers incorrect?

    You say, “…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.”

    Yes, it’s called taxing the hell out of them to make them lower their standards. And that’s not mitigated because you happen to use less electricity or that Mark’s perfectly happy hanging his clothes on the line. People throughout the hill country of Texas average $150. When do you want to meet with the hundreds of thousands to explain how each of them can (and must) get by on $50 or so without any adverse change in lifestyle?

    To get my average of $200/month (electric is my only utility) to $100 (forget about your $50!) I guess I’d have to not use CAC in the summer (even in the last 15 of 16 days averaging about 103) — I set it at 80; probably not have hot water (maybe 80-90 degree water…) — and I have a new high efficiency (for electric…) one kept at 115. Then winter gets tough: no hot water OR home heating — I’ll have to mull that over. I doubt these would make it though it might be close. My problem is the next highest usage is my deep well water pump.

    I suppose you probably have possible solutions that can be looked at. But I’ll bet the result would be that I am not adversely altering my life style only because it is as good as you think it ought to be or that you think I deserve. Which I’m sure is completely satisfactory from your viewpoint. Other than a few things at the margin, if you cut cost, you pretty much cut standard of living. Or spending $30,000 for some solar on my roof (which in my case is good mostly only after noon) hardly qualifies as cutting costs, either.

  5. 255
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman (169), PBS’ News Hour still pretty much reports news. ‘course they’re non-protit I guess… ;-)

  6. 256
    Doug B says:

    #224 Darren:

    “So I find it far-fetched that man-made carbon emissions would be a determining factor in climate, especially when you consider the size of our little civilazation against the size of the sun–which would seem, at first look, to be the main consideration.”

    Darren, have you ever really -looked- at a photograph of Earth’s atmosphere, viewed from space at a few hundred miles, at a tangent angle? It’s a view worth pondering, something indeed many steely-eyed astronauts have found to be flabbergasting, along the lines of “wow, it’s barely there at all”.

    How about an empirical, somewhat related example? It’s obvious by now that CFC’s were degrading the ability of the atmosphere to absorb UV before it reached the ground. The amount of CFC we’re talking about was by any measure tiny yet what we did release quickly evidenced itself in a way that resulted in swift and concerted action to fix the problem. It was blindingly (sorry!) obvious that our power to foul up the planet exceeded all expectations.

    It would be easy to go too far with the CFC analogy, but the point is that we know already from established history that it’s certainly possible for humans to selectively ruin at least one useful function of the atmosphere. In part that’s because the atmosphere is literally vanishingly thin; travel to the distance of a synchronous satellite– roughly the distance of a circumnavigation of the planet– and you cannot distinguish the atmosphere from Earth’s disk with the naked eye.

    You refer to our exceptional self-regard and you’re surely correct to identify that as a human failing. At the same time, some of humanity’s biggest “accomplishments” have been in the arena of unwitting destruction, a “talent” for which we equally deserve to take credit.

  7. 257
    Hank Roberts says:

    Links for references mentioned in Gavin’s inline response to my 199 28 June 2009 at 12:00 PM are provided below.

    But first, we have a contender in the Ironically Titled Self-Referential Posting category: the other blogger himself, commenting on Gavin’s inline response to my posting above which did not name either blogger originally.

    Roger Pielke, Jr., in his own thread under the title
    Who Cares About Integrity of Process When There are Political Points to Score? wrote at #12:

    “Gavin’s claim that he personally was muzzled is hilarious. When was Real Climate “hindered and prevented from discussing our own published results in climate science”? I must have missed that episode.”

    Now, here they are:

    the NASA Inspector General’s report
    http://oig.nasa.gov/investigations/OI_STI_Summary.pdf

    Revkin’s front page NYT article
    http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/science/earth/03nasa.html&OQ=_rQ3D1&OP=30036dc4Q2FitJjiQ2AQ2FnQ7EsQ2FQ2FDZiZ55Xi5pi5yiQ7En_JRnJiJQ51sDGi5yRQ51Q7EQ511GDQ3AV

    Hat tip to Mark Bowen
    http://www.tipping-points.com/?p=29
    for the most easily found discussion, worth reading, who provided those links.

    (Gavin, would you put those links into the inline response above for the convenience of later readers who may not know how to find this kind of thing? And there will always be bloggers operating outside the constraints of the academic environment who can disbelieve or pretend to disbelieve inconvenient history, if pointers are lacking.)

  8. 258
  9. 259

    In the Synthesis Report from Climate Change, Univ of Copenhagen, page 10, the statement is made regarding Arctic Ice:

    “This decreasing ice coverage is important for climate on a
    larger scale as ice and snow reflect most of the radiation from the sun
    back into the atmosphere while seawater absorbs most of the radiation
    reaching it from the sun. Thus, an ice-free ocean absorbs more heat than
    an ice-covered ocean, so the loss of Arctic sea ice creates a “feedback”
    in the climate system that increases warming.”

    Nope:
    At low grazing angles, as per polar regions, incident electromagnetic waves, including that from the sun, are largely reflected from water. Ice being irregular and rough, reflections from that ice tend to be diffuse and energy is not as efficiently reflected as the authors seem to imagine.

  10. 260
    Fran Barlow says:

    Nick Gotts [#218]:

    “Markets, of course, give rich people a much greater say than poor people. They are, therefore, necessarily elitist in operation. That’s why the elite – that is, the rich – propagandise so much in their favour.”

    The observation is unexceptionable. Self-evidently, you can only participate in markets if you have tradeable assets, and those with the most have the most power in markets. You are on strong ground rejecting the fetishism attaching to markets as allocators of public goods.

    That noted, there are many instances in which the operation of what may broadly be defined as “market mechanisms” offer greater net utility than processes in which explicit human policy frameworks specify activity. Certainly, as I noted in my response to Mr Reynolds, one must be alert to the presence and significance of externalities bearing upon the ostensible ‘market’ activity and attach value to those utilities that communities believe should be considered when producing public or private goods, ensuring that these are transparent in the design of the system. One must also ensure probity and integrity — that what is beleived to be happening in theory really is happening in practice, and that ultimately requires robust independent governance of the operations of markets.

    But subject to those caveats, markets may be designed in ways that ultimately yield greater net benefit even to non-elites than attempts to deliver benefit without them. That conception of course lies at the heart of emissions trading schemes, and we ought not to concede the mantle “protector of market forces” to those whose real agenda is the desire to protect current pernicious and inequitable social arrangements from variation to those less pernicious and inequitable.

  11. 261
    John Mashey says:

    re: #244 Darren

    Respected senior economists and political scientists can disagree *violently* about truly basic things, that would be the equivalent of arguing about the reality of gravity in physics.

    One might read:

    1) Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change. Did you follow the ferocious arguments on that one?

    2) William Nordhaus, A Question of Balance.

    2) Robert Ayres and Benjamin Warr, The Economic Growth Engine.

    3) Anthony Giddens, The Politics of Climate Change.
    [Lord Giddens was former Director of LSE.]

    4) Leclerc & hall, eds:Making World Development Work: Scientific Alternatives to Neoclassical Economic Theory

    and finally, and probably most crucially:

    5) Philip Tetlock, Expert Political Judgement – How Good is It? How Can We Know?

    [A: expert political judgments are really not very good. That's because they are hard, and unlike physics, don't have conservation laws and other rock-solid theory to bound what can happen.]

    One might read Schools of economics, and compare that with Spencer Weart’s Discovery of Global Warming or Naomi Oreskes’ The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science.

    Physical sciences arguments tend to disappear as data arrives. The mainstream view tends to converge on a view whose approximation to reality is better than the previous mainstream view.

    Does economics work that way? If so, why are all those schools of thought around? Do you believe neoclassical economics is a good model of the real world? Can you explain why? Can you explain why Ayres&Warr’s views are wrong? Or why one should prefer whichever school of thought you like to the others? Do you think the mathematics in economics describes the world as well as the math in a sophomore physics book does? [None of this is knocking econ or polysci, just observing that that they are different, and overgeneralzing from them into physical sciences is very error-prone, and can lead to serious Dunning-Kruger if not fixed.]

    Long ago, when I was managing social scientists (cognitive psychologists), they always assumed that one gathered data before leaping to opinions… Occasionally, we’d review an internal paper from a few social scientists who got carried away, and have to slaughter it to the Executive Director level.

    Hence, hearing climate scientists talk and asking them questions is a really good place to start. it would help disabuse you of silly ideas.

    For example, climate science is one of the most interdisciplinary areas of science I’ve *ever* encountered, somewhat akin to computer science within engineering.

    ===
    I have written earlier here how technical folks sometimes overgeneralize from the issues of their own models, but Tetlock’s book convinces me that I should add political science (and maybe economics) as well:

    a) Political experts have poor ability to predict, especially for longer timeframes (read Tetlock) … and of course, they get beaten up for it, just as weather forecasters do when they are wrong. Predicting *noise* is hard.

    SO

    b) Climate scientists must be smoking something funny to think they can make these long-term predictions. :-)

  12. 262
    James says:

    Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (28 June 2009 at 21:21):

    “Are we thinking that all the sources in a “present generation mix” cough up an additional amount of energy when you plug in an electric car? And all make sure that their response is an equal percentage?”

    No, but that argument cuts both ways. You can’t say that the electricity going into the electric car is from source X (at least not without running a powerflow study on the grid at that moment). The most you can do is say that it’s using whatever mix the grid has at that time.

    “Maybe that is not what happens. Maybe the added load is actually handled by bringing up the cheapest source available.”

    Until the utilities run up against regulations (in this state, at least) that require them to buy a certain percentage of their power from “green” generation, even if it’s not the cheapest source. Then they become receptive to e.g. feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar, or signing long-term purchase agreements with the owner of a formerly-marginal geothermal resource…

    “For people with solar cells, do you suppose there is a special little storage compartment with each persons name on it?”

    Sure. It’s called a battery :-) Or if I don’t want to be bothered with that, and just connect to the grid, consider my electric meter. I start out with it showing X KWh flowing in from the grid. Now I buy the electric car and solar panels as a package. Hook up the panels, plug in the car, and if I’ve sized the system right my meter shows zero flow. Eventually the car’s fully charged, and I can go drive around while the meter’s merrily spinning backwards.

    Seems to me that by doing this I displace not only the CO2 generated by my driving, but some coal-fired generation as well.

  13. 263
    Mark says:

    Phil queries:
    “Why? All your points of skepticism are easily answered. Would you like to learn or just hold onto your prejudices?”

    It’s the latter, Phil.

  14. 264
    Mark says:

    244: “And yet, over the same decade, global atmospheric temperatures haven’t risen, and may even be falling.”

    Except they HAVE been rising and haven’t been falling.

    Your skepticism seems to have skipped a beat.

    Ah, who are we kidding here, you’re a credulous not a skeptic!

  15. 265
    Mark says:

    Someone wibbles: “based upon the fact that not all factors of a Whole Earth can or have been incorporated into models and analysis’,”

    And does the missing stuff (I take it you have a list, don’t you, else this is just an argument from personal incredulity) make a difference?

    After all, I don’t take into account the rotation of the earth when throwing a cricket ball. Yet somehow, it still goes where I want it to.

    And continues ” it would be my contention that the future outcomes of our meddling are still poorly understood”

    Do you have anything to back this up, else again this is personal incredulity.

    If our meddling has poor understanding, how about NOT DOING IT?

    If I don’t understand surgery, should I cut someone open to remove their appendix or should I not meddle?

    ” and that current estimates of those outcomes considered are by in large conservative.”

    And this is saying “we shouldn’t stop” how?

    PS you’ve already said we shouldn’t believe anything we read, so we shouldn’t believe you.

  16. 266

    Tom Fuller sulks:

    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.

    Tom, go look up what the cake said to Alice.

    CAPTCHA: “Congress stall”

  17. 267

    Darren writes:

    Carbon dioxide emissions are growing faster than ever, especially from the Chinese over the past decade. And yet, over the same decade, global atmospheric temperatures haven’t risen, and may even be falling.

    They have risen. You haven’t done your homework. That’s what comes of getting your information from denialist blogs instead of primary sources.

    And other things affect temperature than CO2. The idea that “warmists say only CO2 affects the climate” is denialist drivel.

    Nonetheless, the correlation between ln CO2 and NASA GISS temperature anomaly for the past 129 years is r = 0.87.

    And for a climate trend you generally need 30 years, not ten.

    I’ve also seen enough of economics, politics and, to a lesser extent, computer programming to know that single-faceted explanations are, in complex systems, almost always wrong,

    Again, you’re attacking the straw man argument that “warmists” think only CO2 matters.

    So I find it far-fetched that man-made carbon emissions would be a determining factor in climate, especially when you consider the size of our little civilazation against the size of the sun–which would seem, at first look, to be the main consideration. Anything man can do is infinitesimally minute compared to that thing.

    Solar output hasn’t varied significantly in 50 years, so it can’t be driving the sharp upturn in global warming of the last 30. We’ve been measuring it from satellites like Nimbus-6 and -7 and the Solar Maximum Mission for decades.

  18. 268
    CM says:

    John (#237),

    The only relevance I ascribe to Fuller’s list is that it may to some extent indicate what “skeptic” arguments may sound plausible to the public and which, accumulated up the public-debate food chain as it were, might have some traction with policy-makers.

    The “lukewarmer” position he claims, that AGW is real but will be at or below the low end of the uncertainty ranges, is a politically effective one. It allows policy-makers to acknowledge AGW but downplay the costs of inaction. Against the backdrop of more wild-eyed denialist views it can be framed as a middle-ground, compromise-willing, intellectually respectable stance (which it is not, of course; climate sensitivity is constrained by the laws of physics and the paleo-climate record, not by the extremes of public opinion).

    I admit this may have been a courtesy too far, since it seems the “questions” were just bait in Mr Fuller’s snark-hunting expedition for his blog. You are of course right that he was regurgitating worn-down arguments — like classical hunters of the snark, he seems to hold that “What I tell you three times is true.”

    But regularly regurgitated arguments need a regular slapping down or they will stick. At this juncture we could do with a brief, authoritative text to discuss e.g. six “key confusions” (to complement the six “key messages” of the Copenhagen synthesis report) from this alleged “lukewarm” middle ground. And who better to do that than the RealClimate team, if they feel up to the ennui of digesting and updating some of their posts?

  19. 269
    Alan of Oz says:

    “If I were the authors, I’d suppress this myself”

    LMAO – Thanks for this brilliant excersise in debunking. I have been battling the astroturfers over at slashdot since this sh*t hit their fan yesterday. My efforts were nowhere near as thourough and humorous as yours.

  20. 270
    CM says:

    Darren (#244),

    …the theory’s prediction is simple: CO2 emissions up, temperature up. Any intelligent outsider, decently versed in scientific method, can assess it.

    … single-faceted explanations are, in complex systems, almost always wrong

    So which is it? Simple or complex? If you want to take on climate science with a little armchair reasoning you should at least try for consistency. Hint: If climate scientists had a single-faceted explanation they wouldn’t bother to model the complexity, would they? They’d just hire your intelligent outsider.

    Anyway, on relevant timescales (which a decade is not really) you do find a link between CO2 and temperature. Taking time-lags and variability into account is not

    like Linus in the pumpkin patch

    for Linus’s problem is not just an occasional run of years without the Great Pumpkin: there has not been a single confirmed Great Pumpkin spotting(*) since observations began in 1959. But during the same half century of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, global temperatures have risen sharply.

    *) The reported 1961 spotting in New Jersey was never independently verified.

  21. 271

    I was a rarity in journalism, in that I earned a degree in science before taking a degree in journalism.

    Interestingly, I remember speaking to the school’s director, and he told me that the most common reason that students listed for wanting to study journalism was that they weren’t very good at science.

    I suspect that’s the very reason why Thomas Fuller does what he does for a living. He’s so breathtakingly clueless about the scientific method that it beggars belief.

  22. 272
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Darren @204:

    OK, now wait. Let me get this straight: You are skeptical of climate science because there are some models in political science and economics that don’t work?

    Did it ever occur to you maybe,…oh, I don’t know…like investigate the actual models in climate science?

    Dude, the cause of your skepticism is flat, pigheaded ignorance! That would be curable, but as the cure would involve work on your part, I’m not optimistic about your prognosis.

  23. 273
    Darren says:

    These guys seem to have the kind of context-sensitive evidence that is persuasive:

    http://www.petitionproject.org/gw_article/Review_Article_HTML.php

    They do use the term “greenhouse gas,” so maybe my aversion to it misplaced, given that they seem to be even more skeptical of CO2-caused global warming than I am. At the same time, the fact that CO2 is only a very small percentage of all the greenhouse gases would seem to justify a different word. (My view is the same on the use of the word “carcinogen.” It gets used for both obvious dangers, like cigarettes, and for other chemicals in the environment or food that are far less cancer-causing, helping alarmists to stir up fears about things like grocery-store produce.)

    In any case, I learned long ago in economics that when it comes to statistics, it’s broad-trend analysis–the kind these guys do–that matters most, at least when it’s available. Whenever a proponent of a theory starts hemming and hawing about statistical controls, especially when the controls are based on their own school of thought (such as the constant reference to “climate science” at this site), my BS meter starts flashing. Not that intricate statistical controls, even ones based on your own views, can’t be useful. They can be, especially when they’re all you’ve got to work with. But when a theory’s prediction is blunt (as the theory of CO2-caused global warming thankfully is), and when you have big-picture data to test the prediction (as we do), you’re generally better off looking at big-picture data, such as the kind at petitionproject.

    I am not saying that the theory of CO2-caused global warming is complete nonsense, nor that it is solely some plot by leftists to send us back to the Stone Age. Nor do I have any theory for why the planet heats and cools. But it looks to me as if there is some modest evidence that CO2-caused warming is happening and is a problem, while the evidence against the theory is more powerful.

    [Response: This petition project is just more recycled nonsense put out by highly partisan lobby groups. You will not learn anything about science from that kind of thing. I strongly advise you to start with the mainstream thinking on the issue and then measure up the critiques against the case actually being made. The IPCC FAQs are a good place to start. - gavin]

  24. 274
    Charles Henkel says:

    “He’s so breathtakingly clueless about the scientific method that it beggars belief.”

    OMFG…where are your observations?

  25. 275
    Nick Gotts says:

    “That noted, there are many instances in which the operation of what may broadly be defined as “market mechanisms” offer greater net utility than processes in which explicit human policy frameworks specify activity.” – Fran Barlow

    I would not disagree with that. I am still undecided about cap-and-trade, given that it appeared to work well in controlling acid rain causing emissions in the US (although I see someone has claimed above this caused displacement of emissions to shipping), but poorly in the EU’s GHG emissions limiting scheme. I consider, however, that it is unlikely market mechanisms, however broadly defined, can produce a shift to low-emission transport and electricity fast enough, since what infrastructure is needed depends on the forms of transport and generative capacity chosen, and vice versa. Allied governments did not leave markets to determine whether the equipment necessary to win WWII would be produced, and a bloody good thing too. This is a crisis of comparable magnitude.

  26. 276
    CTG says:

    On the off-chance that Tom Fuller is still reading this, hoping to be further martyred for the cause, it is worth repeating the evidence against Anthony Watts. Fuller’s question number 1 is based on Watts’ work, so it absolutely germane to the discussion to look at Watts’ scientific credibility (i.e not ad hominem).

    The example in question is this little beauty. This refers to the paper by Lu that shows how GCRs may mediate the reaction between halogenated molecules (including CFCs) and ozone that causes the ozone hole.

    Watts’ original note on this paper read: “The Antarctic Ozone Hole is said to be caused only by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). According to this new study, perhaps not. (h/t to John F. Hultquist)”

    The first couple of dozen comments on this story (which now seem to have mysteriously disappeared) were along the lines of “my dog is a cat” logic: “the scientists” have lied to us about the ozone hole, therefore “the scientists” must have lied to us about global warming. It wasn’t until about the 100th comment that the message got through that this paper said nothing of the sort, after which all the “Al Gore is fat” comments abruptly stopped.

    Now, overlooking the obvious mistake in the headline comment (CFCs are actually a subset of the chemicals that are involved in the ozone hole), there are still three ways to interpret Watts’ original comment:
    1) He didn’t read the paper, but just repeated what someone told him it meant
    2) He read the paper but didn’t understand it
    3) He read the paper, understood it, but misrepresented what it meant

    If it was either 1) or 2), then it is pretty obvious that Watts should not be considered a reliable scientific source.

    Option 3 is more problematical. If he misrepresented the paper, then it was either intentional or non-intentional. Several weeks after the original note was published, Watts posted an update in which he claimed “It has been pointed out to me by an email from a regular WUWT reader that some people get a different conclusion from the headline other than what I was thinking of”. Given that Watts had personally moderated several dozen comments that amply demonstrated that “different conclusion”, it is hard to see why it took a separate email to draw his attention to that fact.

    Occam’s razor therefore leads us to the simplest explanation: Watts did understand the paper, but deduced that most of his target audience would not understand or even read the paper, but simply rely on his inference that CFCs do not cause the ozone hole – and further to deduce that this ineluctably meant that all climate science was wrong. The best evidence for this is in the original post, which is carefully worded in weasel phrases: “Antarctic Ozone Hole is said to be caused only by CFCs. According to this new study, perhaps not“.

    This is only one of the many shortcomings of Watts’ work – but will this receive the full skeptical glare of Tom Fuller? Don’t hold your breath.

    (does reCaptcha know something I don’t? coming wrestle)

    [Response: Speculation about motive is always problematic, and accusations of deliberate mis-representation are usually unsupportable. Far more likely is a superficial reading of a press release combined with a confirmation bias towards results that suggest that mainstream scientists are all wrong. - gavin]

  27. 277
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Steve, here are the polar bear and walrus studies: US Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Mammal Management.

  28. 278
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 270

    Hey CM,

    Generally I have little argument with your points; however, some of the skeptical issues carry weight. For instance where you keep referencing the value of a 30 count sample as a climatic time period. Are you aware of the purpose/reason that this value is chosen?

    Much has to do with the minimum statistical sample to begin to derive a more precise mean in a statistical sample. Generally for a range of say 100 data points in a parent population a random sample of around 30 to 33 provide a good insight to the “parent population’s” mean point, and mean breadth and by reviewing the outlier population you can help validate the accuracy of the sample.

    From a statistical view point there are likely 3.65 million average daily temperature data points for a given location in the parent population of the current epoch as it has emerged from the most recent ice age. Of these data points we have measures with an accuracy of 2 degrees measured and 1 degree interpolation for roughly 200 of the past 265 years.

    If you suggest that a sample of 30 within the last 3.65 million data points for a given location, with all of them taken at one end of the range, this could be reasonable fuel for skepticism. Multiply that one data point by a rough potential of 500 million 1 km grid points and the parent population is extremely large.

    Returning to the known measures of the last 65 years with data points possibly being indicated with precision instruments and then through the analysis of millions of calculations convert those 65 years of data an overlay it on an additional 200 years of less precise data and we have about a 2.5% data sampling of the parent population for a single site.

    Going further into the science they have the collected the efforts of hundreds of geologists which have provided data which can extend the data points even further; however, the precision drops significantly. Yet, at the same time through extensive calculations it is possible to begin to interpolate a temperature record for several thousand years with a much lesser degree of mean probability confidence; however, with a higher degree of precision.

    For the unexposed mind, it seems that the derived data sets could not provide a high degree of probability, that is until we start looking at large scale changes or slope curves. It is at this point where the grouping of data points starts to add to a temperature models clarity.

    In essence, you can define the mean and change for a sample and then compare samples of mean and change, at this point the degree of confidence can improve as you are not suggesting that an absolute temperature is changing; but, that there is an indication that the degree of change is changing. It is this value that points to climatic change, which all starts with a simple sample of 30 years of data points. With 30 mean and change samples you begin to remove the blips or time period effects.

    What the RC team has done and was started by Dr. Mann with a small team of diverse experts, some 20 years ago, was to try to build a model that provided the rough approximations that could be employed to build the mean and change data sets. If you can collect a sample of 30 mean and change values you have the opportunity to offer a statistical view into the most recent data set. Though you can extend the data set further you run the risk of reduced confidence in the probability that a value would have in relation to the mean; but, that does not invalidate the trend in the change and this is where many of the skeptics miss the boat…, even me at one point…

    Now I can’t wait to see what is going to happen with the carbon data sets, hopefully, that will become part and parcel of the IPCC 5 report! The most important for me will be the mapping of the fossil carbon emissions (minus plastics) over the surface atmospheric slopes and then comparing that slope to the average temperature slope for night time surface atmospheric temperatures versus the average temperature slope for night time versus specific humidity… Hopefully they will have gathered even more aerosol data so that will be included in the new report as well.

    Cheers!
    Dave Cooke

  29. 279
    Mark says:

    re gavin’s response to 276.

    True, but such mistakes whether malice or incompetence (and I fail to see where malice is worse than incompetence: you can at least remove the malicious, it’s harder to remove incompetence), it DOES demand that all future statements be examined with GREAT skepticism.

    As opposed to great credulity.

    [Response: Absolutely. - gavin]

  30. 280
    Bill Hunter says:

    Gavin, you are dissing a strong signal in the temperature record when you try to blow off decadal ocean oscillations with an attack on a suggested cause.

    “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.”

    Decadal ocean oscillations affecting global temperatures are well embedded in the science record both through observations and fossil records and their very existance is obviously a threat to your theory; no doubt explaining why you are also trying to question their very existance via an attack on the suggested cause. I guess if nobody knows why temperatures go up and go down, they don’t really go down at all. . . .right?

    http://people.iarc.uaf.edu/~sakasofu/climate.php

    This may not be common knowledge to the euro influenced IPCC but is very much common knowledge to those working to manage Pacific ocean fisheries. Some times folks need to step outside of the ivory tower.

    [Response: Oh please. The point I was making is not there aren't decadal oscillations - of course there are. The criticism was the naive implication that just because you can find power at 10 or 20 year periods that this implies that they are solar-driven. This is the basic mistake that 90% of the 'solar causes everything' crowd always make because they don't take into account the fact that there are plenty of non-solar reasons to expect such timescales in the climate systems (Rossby wave propagation speeds, gyre circulation times etc.). - gavin]

  31. 281
    Dan Hughes says:

    re: 276

    “[Response: Speculation about motive is always problematic, and accusations of deliberate mis-representation are usually unsupportable. Far more likely is a superficial reading of a press release combined with a confirmation bias towards results that suggest that mainstream scientists are all wrong. - gavin]”

    hmmm, it seems that the second sentence doesn’t recognize existence of the first sentence. It’s nothing but unsupported speculation and presumption of bias and YANS (yet Another Naked Strawman) thrown in at the end.

    [Response: It is the accusation of *deliberate* mis-representation that is problematic. Simple mis-representation in this case is very easy to show. We'd be happy to hear your explanation. - gavin]

  32. 282
    Ron Crouch says:

    In response to #265 Mark.

    “And does the missing stuff make a difference?”

    Perhaps and perhaps not. You know full well that the inclusion of more parameters (and there have been many additions since modelling began) serve to fine tune model projections so that they come more in line with physical observations. Even those parameters that are already included are being revised as new findings become available. It serves the purpose of narrowing the range of possibilities based upon knowns. It’s the unknowns that will catch you by the seat of the pants. For example: can we predict with any great confidence what the response of the ice sheets will be based on our current understanding? Can we state with any confidence what effects if any that glacial rebound may have?

    “If I don’t understand surgery, should I cut someone open to remove their appendix or should I not meddle?”

    No you shouldn’t meddle, at least not in the context given. Logic would dictate that you should seek the proper medical avenues for remedy. Would you advocate the addition of aerosols to the atmosphere when the outcomes are poorly understood, or would carbon neutrality be a better bet?

    “And this is saying “we shouldn’t stop” how?”

    That’s not what it says at all. It simply implies that you should expect outcomes that are far worse than projections given. Would the response of the Arctic Sea Ice not be enough to convince you of that?

    Time is of the essence. Cuts to GHG’s fall way short of that which is needed to mitigate the problem. The talk of specific reductions by 2050 simply undermines the urgency of the problem. Even targets for 2020 fall way short. In other words the current reduction aspirations amount to little more than trying to appease discontent while passing the buck as always. 2020 and 2050 are still a long way off and issues like these tend to fall by the wayside as time progresses. We are already locked into an uncertain amount of change even if emissions were to sink to zero today. The more we procrastinate the worse the problem will be.

    “PS you’ve already said we shouldn’t believe anything we read, so we shouldn’t believe you.”

    That would be correct. I take nothing at face value and nothing for granted, so why should you? Do your own investigations, add a bit of abstract thinking, and draw your own conclusions.

  33. 283
    Halldór Björnsson says:

    Re: 34:
    John, thank you for including this amusing post. Like others here (see #93) I stumbled a little on reading the claim that “Carbon dioxide is no more than 4 percent of the total atmosphere—with water vapor being more than 90 percent, followed by methane and sulfur and nitrous oxides”. Its a pity that the author has not heard of N2 and O2 which together comprise about 99% of every breath he takes.

    However, the 4% number is interesting, since 380ppm is roughly 400ppm which is 0.4 promill or 0.04%. – My first thought was that this was a mistake: seeing the number 0.04 somewhere without a % sign and writing it as 4%.

    I recently stumbled upon the 4% CO2 claim in a slighly different context. There another author was claiming that due to recycling by the biosphere only 4% of CO2 emitted by humans remained in the atmosphere. – I tried to square that claim with the fact that the airborne fraction (the ratio of the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 to the CO2 emissions from anthropogenic sources) is about half, but found the claim to nebulous to verify.

    Pherhaps both authors were citing the same source, and both misunderstanding 380 ppm rounded off to 400 ppm?

  34. 284
    Mike Nilsen says:

    Perhaps the “cheap” energy that powers our lifestyle is not actually cheap. We’ve just been ignorant of the true cost all along. Climatological catastrophe is a pretty high price.

  35. 285
    perspctv says:

    Is there some administrative rule buried within the Administrative Procedures Act that states the EPA MUST [regardless of how poor the work] have included Carlin’s work?

  36. 286
    Mark says:

    “In response to #265 Mark.

    “And does the missing stuff make a difference?”

    Perhaps and perhaps not.”

    And so you either have to do the checking to see yourself or leave it to those who will.

    You’re far more likely to be wrong than right.

  37. 287
    Ike Solem says:

    Bill Hunter says: “Gavin, you are dissing a strong signal in the temperature record when you try to blow off decadal ocean oscillations.”

    Gavin says: “Oh please. The point I was making is not there aren’t decadal oscillations – of course there are.”

    In fact, the evidence for decadal oscillations in the ocean is pretty weak. [edit--that's enough of your indiscriminate bashing of legitimate climate research efforts. we've allowed you to make these dubious arguments several times now. you can take it your own site if you like, but we've had enough of it here.]

  38. 288
    Rod B says:

    Mark (264): From GISS, the mean annual anamoly for 1988 was +0.70 degrees C; the mean annual anomoly for 2008 was +0.55 degrees C. Over this latest “past” decade, is this rising or falling?

  39. 289
    Rod B says:

    BPL (267), ditto. For fun, can I get from you or Mark a yes or no answer to my question?

  40. 290
    Flanagan says:

    Hi,

    I suppose “Hilter” should really be “Hitler”

    [Response: Fixed. thanks. - gavin]

  41. 291
    Mark says:

    re 248, maybe that Carlin would have bawled his head off so it was easier to throw that trash in than argue the toss with him. It’s now someone else’s problem.

  42. 292
    Mark says:

    “However, the 4% number is interesting, since 380ppm is roughly 400ppm which is 0.4 promill or 0.04%. – My first thought was that this was a mistake: seeing the number 0.04 somewhere without a % sign and writing it as 4%.”

    But if they’ve made such a mistake, then either they didn’t use the wrong number in later works or their conclusion is wrong (being based on the wrong number).

    In any case, it’s a flag that they haven’t done their work.

    And that .04 isn’t relevant anyway.

    Compared to the weight of the earth, the 600 million tons of humanity is insignificant. Therefore there can’t be any overpopulation problems!

  43. 293
    Bill Hunter says:

    1. Gavin: “The point I was making is not there aren’t decadal oscillations – of course there are.”
    OK thats a fair response but the implications of these decadal oscillations on estimates of future warming, as outlined by Dr Akasofu, brings down the “recorded” increase in warming, with the ocean oscillations smoothed out, to a basic .5C per century trend that has been going on since temperature records were kept. That opens the door to as Dr Akasofu suggests a recovery from the Little Ice Age.

    [Response: No. He is confused. The estimates of future climate change are not based on a statistical fit to the last 100 years, they are based on estimates of the long-term sensitivity of the climate. Any decadal oscillations are imposed upon that mean radiatively driven change - they don't replace it. Model simulations have lots of decadal variability but all show significant long term warming because of the increase in GHGs. - gavin]

    Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but two facts remain, 1) less warming from other causes such as CO2 than suggested by the IPCC; and 2) the possibility that the correction to whatever caused the LIA could have occurred long before careful observations and that the change we are seeing today is a long term “millenia perhaps” equalization of the oceans in response to that change.

    [Response: Neither of these things are facts. You fall into the fallacy of thinking that the radiative forcing of future CO2 changes is affected by past attributions of climate change to other factors. It isn't. And as for the idea that we are just recovering from the LIA, there is not one scintilla of evidence supporting that, while there is a mound of evidence pointing to the forced nature of variations both in the LIA and subsequently. Changes in the LIA for instance are reasonably well approximated (given the various uncertainties) as a response to decreased solar and increased volcanic forcings - which have long since vanished. - gavin]

    Seems like a pretty big “hmmmmmm” to me as we consider policies that could have huge impacts.
    Now that might be a weak argument for solar influence but in the world of what are the alternative possibilities, such a scenario suggests rather strongly its not anthropogenic CO2 and one should probably ask what the other possibilities might be before jerking a knee.

    [Response: The questions have been asked and answered many many times. - gavin]

  44. 294
    Ron Crouch says:

    I certainly hope I am wrong Mark. And I might even live long enough to find out (time is running down quickly, that would be less than 10 years now according to one astute gentleman).

    As I have said before, I’m not as optimistic about the future as James Lovelock is.

  45. 295
    Rod B says:

    Jim Galasyn (277, etc.). The studies admittedly are over a limited polar bear population (two “herds”) and state upfront that estimating polar bears is extremely difficult and dicey. Then they continue to do their best (and from the inherent inaccuracies come up with some very exact figures) and draw a judgment conclusion that polar bears are threatened (for a number of reasons). Why? One, because that’s probably would they actually thought; two, because that’s what the USFandWS does; three, because there was considerable political pressure to do so–and they are not stupid. They might or might not be correct; I don’t know.

    Do you have any other rationale for implying Mitchell Taylor knows little about it? Do you know that he is not correct?

  46. 296
    Nylo says:

    OT, but I don’t know which is the correct thread to post this. I have only recently noticed quite a big change in the GISS Global Temperature Record that happened some time between February 2006 and June 2006. Because of the adjustments that took place, the global trend for the 1880-2005 period changed by more than a whole 10%. As I am not familiar with the reasons that caused the corresponding change in the algorythm (or whatever was done), could anybody here please clarify to me what happened in GISSTemp between Feb.2006 and Jun.2006?

    Thanks.

    [Response: The updates page at GISTEMP indicates a minor change in how the SST records were spliced in April 2006, maybe that is it. No other changes seem to be recorded. If this is real, it might be a change upstream (i.e. in the GHCN records), alternatively you might not be comparing like with like (ie J-D annual mean vs. D-N annual mean, met index vs land-ocean index? perhaps). I would contact the GISTEMP people directly showing the evidence for what you are claiming- they might be able to work it out. - gavin]

  47. 297
    dhogaza says:

    The example in question is this little beauty. This refers to the paper by Lu that shows how GCRs may mediate the reaction between halogenated molecules (including CFCs) and ozone that causes the ozone hole.

    Watts’ original note on this paper read: “The Antarctic Ozone Hole is said to be caused only by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). According to this new study, perhaps not. (h/t to John F. Hultquist)”

    Now, overlooking the obvious mistake in the headline comment (CFCs are actually a subset of the chemicals that are involved in the ozone hole), there are still three ways to interpret Watts’ original comment:
    1) He didn’t read the paper, but just repeated what someone told him it meant
    2) He read the paper but didn’t understand it
    3) He read the paper, understood it, but misrepresented what it meant

    Well, you’ve stated that the thread’s been edited, so I haven’t gone back to look.

    But I watched that thread develop with a great deal of amusement, until I finally couldn’t take it any more, and let the cat out of the bag after, as you say, 100 or more comments went by.

    “Uh, Anthony, CFCs *are* halogenated molecules, the paper describes a *mechanism* involving CFCs , methyl bromide, etc…”

    Others started to say the same at about the same time.

    By then it was clear that Anthony (nor his devotees) had no idea that CFCs are halogenated molecules when he originally read the paper.

    BTW, another blogger recently put a piece up about popular denialists and called him “Dr. Anthony Watts”. I’d never heard that he had a PhD so did some googling. So, apparently, did Eli Rabbett. Not only does Anthony not have a PhD, there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that he has even a BS. His brief bio at WUWT simply talks about his years of being a radio and tv weather forecaster. No information about education whatsoever. Surely if he had a PhD or MS he’d flaunt it in order to boost his credibility (I can imagine not listing a BS as simply being an oversight).

    So I think it’s reasonable to assume that Anthony is simply being scientifically illiterate when he makes such mistakes, and not being dishonest. Same with the recent fiasco involving CO2 freezing out of the atmosphere in the Antarctic. The mistrust and ignorance of science over there, which was again displayed by Anthony himself, goes so far as to not believe basic information quoted from a textbook on physical chemistry, etc. With such deeply-embedded mistrust of and ignorance of science, there’s no need to assume Watts is being dishonest.

    Just my $0.02.

    reCAPTCHA summarizes their fears, though … they fear the “Governmentrun tredwell”. Whatever that is! :)

  48. 298
    Jim Eager says:

    Apparently Darren’s “skepticism” (244) is based on 1) the premise that the power of natural variability to at times overcome the effect of a monotonic increase in greenhouse gases has ceased, and 2) a lack of understanding of statistical trend analysis.

    These two dead-end misconceptions continue to be put forth almost daily. How many times must they be addressed?

  49. 299
    CM says:

    L. David Cooke (#278),

    referring to my #270 above you say “you keep referencing the value of a 30 count sample as a climatic time period”. I don’t. Perhaps you are thinking of Barton Paul Levenson at #267?

  50. 300
    Hank Roberts says:

    At 28 June 2009 at 11:57 PM Jim Bullis quotes a bit from the Copenhagen Synthesis, then leaps to a conclusion that it must be wrong because “energy is not as efficiently reflected as the authors seem to imagine.” This without looking up the numbers or sources of the measurement, questioning not the conclusion but the underlying physical facts on which the forcing is figured.

    Jim, you should look these things up. You hadn’t thought about the relative heat uptake for ice and deep ocean. You didn’t look up magnitude of the forcing from albedo change, or understand why a slight change in radiation balance matters over time.

    Before concluding everyone else has to be wrong about the basic physics involved, consider reading it. It will help.


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