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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are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no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. 301
    dhogaza says:

    three, because there was considerable political pressure to do so–and they are not stupid.

    Uh, RodB, anyone familiar with the listing practice in real life would know that …

    1. The USF&W service typically doesn’t list species until being beaten over the head by concerned conservationists to the point where they can no longer bury the proposal under the administrative dodge that “the list of proposed listings is so long that we won’t be able to clear it out for decades”.

    and

    2. Any political pressure from the Bush administration would not favor listing the polar bear.

  2. 302
    o says:

    Prof Krugman in his column today http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/opinion/29krugman.html refers to MIT researchers who are predicting a rise of 9 degrees (I assume Kelvin) by the end of this century. Any link ?

    [Response: Almost certainly this study by Sokolov et al., but the 90% range for global mean temperature in 2100 is 3.5 to 7.4 deg C (6.3 to 13.3 deg F), and with a median change of 5.2 deg C (9.4 deg F). All assuming some kind of business as usual of course. - gavin]

  3. 303
    Mark says:

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

    That his statement doesn’t agree with most of the papers produced by the people who look at this for a living?

    (as opposed to being retired)

    http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/reports.htm

  4. 304

    #283 Halldór Björnsson (#34, #93)

    Actually, my favorite line is “total atmosphere—with water vapor being more than 90 percent”…

    It’s as if he thinks we are kinda swimming in the atmosphere… I wonder how long Jay Lehr, PH.D. can hold his breath?

    And if CO2 is 4% and water vapor is more than 90% (say 91%) followed by methane, sulfur and nitrous oxides… Where the heck is our oxygen???

    I’m feeling a bit hypoxic just reading it.

  5. 305
    Jim Galasyn says:

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

    Here’s a clue:

    Dr Taylor agrees that the Arctic has been warming over the last 30 years. But he ascribes this not to rising levels of CO2 – as is dictated by the computer models of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and believed by his PBSG colleagues – but to currents bringing warm water into the Arctic from the Pacific and the effect of winds blowing in from the Bering Sea.

  6. 306
    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?

  7. 307
    James says:

    Mark Says (29 June 2009 at 10:54):

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

    I prefer to put it a different way: 500 micrograms of ricin is about what, a millionth of a percent of the weight of a human? Therefore it can’t possibly do you any harm :-)

    dhogaza Says (29 June 2009 at 11:32):

    “Same with the recent fiasco involving CO2 freezing out of the atmosphere in the Antarctic.”

    Hey, cut the man a little slack. He was only off by one planet :-)

  8. 308
    Hank Roberts says:

    Perspective — quite the opposite, as cited on that other blogger’s thread by someone who knows administrative law:

    “… the deliberative process privilege is rather uncontroversial.3 Federal courts generally accept the instrumental purposes of such a privilege.4 The privilege is thought to encourage candid discussions of policy options within government agencies,5 protect against premature disclosure of proposed policies,6 and avoid public confusion by ensuring that officials are judged only by their final decision.75 …”

    rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-cares-about-integrity-of-process.html?showComment=1246242819841#c1726651512213494506

  9. 309
    SecularAnimist says:

    o wrote: “Prof Krugman in his column today … refers to MIT researchers who are predicting a rise of 9 degrees (I assume Kelvin) by the end of this century. Any link ?”

    The 9 degrees is Fahrenheit.

    Joe Romm at ClimateProgress.org has reprinted Krugman’s column and added annotations and links, for those who may be interested.

  10. 310
    S. Molnar says:

    Re #302 (o): Krugman’s unspecified units are certainly Fahrenheit. That is the default in the U.S., except among scientists (of the non-dismal kind) and members of a few other disciplines.

  11. 311
    Ike Solem says:

    Indiscriminate bashing? Those were very clear scientific arguments, I think. I was simply pointing out the flaws in earlier work done on the AMO and PDO, as well as pointing to how that work has been abused by self-styled climate skeptics. I mean, compare the SOI index to the PDO index, courtesy of Australia’s BOM:

    The method used by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is the Troup SOI which is the standardised anomaly of the Mean Sea Level Pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. It is calculated as follows:

    [ Pdiff - Pdiffav ]
    ——————- 10 = SOI
    Stn Dev(Pdiff)

    where

    Pdiff = (average Tahiti MSLP for the month) – (average Darwin MSLP for the month),
    Pdiffav = long term average of Pdiff for the month in question, and
    SD(Pdiff) = long term standard deviation of Pdiff for the month in question.

    That’s pretty clear – but the PDO index? Legitimate research can still be wrong, after all.

    Even with El Nino and La Nina, the North American effects seem to be changing as high pressure systems linger over continental interiors, pushing the tropical moisture further north – that’s the expansion of the subtropical dry zones in action, I’d guess, due to Hadley Cell expansion plus warmer/drier continental interiors.

    In India, similar effects (unrelated to ENSO) appear to have delayed the monsoon season, leading to a severe heat wave and street protests. The warming in India is exacerbated by biomass and fossil fuel aerosol pollution, but is also related to subtropical drying. These patterns will only continue to intensify over the next decades, by all accounts.

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/06/26/india-heat026.html

    We may be a bit closer to a water crisis than we think.

  12. 312
    Bob Webster says:

    @John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    The numbers you refer to are not % of atmosphere, they represent % of warming from the associated “greenhouse” gases, hence, your confusion.

    This site is drowning in snark. Something I do not observe at skeptic sites maintained by credible professional scientists.

    Some problems with the alarmist view (and it IS a view, because the AGW theory cannot be proven):

    1. “Greenhouse” gases have never been a significant force for climate change in Earth’s past climate history. Why should we believe they are today, particularly with respect to such modest changes in atmospheric CO2?

    [Response: Perhaps the frustration you detect is because of this kind of nonsense. Greenhouse gases are dominant cause of the greenhouse effect (there is some additional input from clouds). Changes in greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) over ice age cycles are estimated to produce about 40% of the cooling necessary to explain the differences. Warming at the PETM is associated with a huge carbon spike, trends over the Cenozoic are likely due to a long term drawdown of CO2 due to increased weathering. Calculations from first principles show that the 'modest' changes in CO2 (35% increase) and CH4 (more than doubled) are certainly of the order of magnitude to cause significant temperature changes of about the amount we've seen. And yet, you insist without evidence that GHG have 'never' been a climate driver! - gavin]

    2. Current atmospheric CO2 levels are atypical over the past half billion years. Drop CO2 too low and plant (and animal) life is extinguished. There is nothing unusual about radical fluctuations in atmospheric CO2, so what is the fuss about?

    [Response: This is why. - gavin]

    3. The AGW theory hinges on a positive feedback from water vapor due to a very modest potential warming from dramatic increases in atmospheric CO2. That theory is an assumption … conjecture. Models cannot be used to prove assumptions.

    [Response: What about observations of water vapour feedbacks after Pinatubo, ENSO events or long term trends? i.e. Soden et al (2004). - gavin]

    4. It is just as likely that, as a generally stable system, the climate feedback would be negative and opposite to the positive feedback from CO2 warming. Climate tends to stability whether in Earth’s “normal” climate (when not in an ice era) or whether in an ice era (as at present), or during the plateaus that are seen between. Remember, humans have never known Earth’s normal climate which is ~10°C warmer than current climate. Relative stability is achieved within each climate regime. Changes to new regimes are relatively rapid and sudden. By “stability” I do not mean to suggest that the cyclic variability seen during interglacials and ice ages do not exist, however, in each climate regime, the tendency is to modest variability about a stable baseline until some dramatic climate change is produced by those natural combination of forces that have forever been changing climate dramatically.

    5. Reliance upon deeply flawed studies [edit] dubious use of GCMs, and a stubborn refusal to be scientific in examining skeptically (as true scientists would do) the tenuous hypothesis of the AGW are the earmarks of the alarmist’s kit. The nature of truly scientific discourse is one of skeptic investigation of assumptions implicit with the hypothesis. Where climate science is concerned, the approach appears to be dogged defense and derogatory impugning of the credentials of those critiquing the hypothesis.

    [Response: And the critics and you keep making derogatory remarks about the integrity of us and other scientists.... pot meet kettle. Avoiding unpleasantly personal discourse is best done by.... avoiding unpleasantly personal discourse. Stick to facts.]

    The debate is never over when it comes to science and theories, particularly a theory as tenuous as the AGW theory.

    A more civil approach to scientific discourse would achieve a lot more than snarky posts, sniping comments, and singing the party line song.

    [Response: Practice what you preach. - gavin]

  13. 313
    Darren says:

    Response to gavin.

    I’m sure there is some bias at petitionproject. But given the overwhelming nature of the long-term temperature trends they cite, which I believe I’ve also seen elsewhere, they would seem to have a lot of room for error and even downright partisanship. That’s the kind of evidence that is persuasive: Grant the proponent their biases, and then consider whether their evidence still holds up.

    Regarding partisanship and pedigree, I’m inclined to be as skeptical (or maybe more skeptical) of something that comes out of a governmental organization, such as the U.N. My field of study was mostly politics, so I’ve observed a lot of politcal bodies. And the watchwords there are: partisanship, interests, power and arrogance. Reason isn’t necessarily absent in politics, but when people are armed, reason usually takes a back seat.

    Response to the one talking about dead ends.

    Intricate statistical trend analysis seems like the kind we need to avoid. Broad, unmistakable trends–those are most helpful. Because it’s easy to mistake stochastic methods (or any methods) for the science itself. That’s one reason (albeit a minor one) I left the social sciences and entered the world of work: so many social scientists at school seemed lost in statistics and methods instead of asking basic questions about what they were doing.

  14. 314
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #280 Bill Hunter:

    “This may not be common knowledge to the euro influenced IPCC…”

    Bill, I gather from you off-hand remark you have some problem with folks from Europe and thus a tendency to reject ideas from that part of the world. Can you back up your prejudice with reason?

    #273 Darren:

    “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.”

    Short:
    We do much better with physical sciences than social sciences when it comes to making predictions. The physical world is not fickle in the same way as is the world of human affairs. Your analogies with your chosen fields don’t really apply, though I sympathize with anybody surrounded by constantly flashing, clanging alarms shouting about the latest spectacular failure.

    Long:
    I suspect you’ve been disappointed by the results of attempting to apply social science theories to the real world, expecting to get the relatively crisp results you see in the world of physical science.

    I’m surprised that anybody would harken to the ineluctably squishy worlds of economic theory and political science in any argument over physical sciences. Not to say the two former fields are useless or bad, just that their predictive powers are terribly limited because they deal with inconstant human beings.

    In the physical science world, it’s possible to send a spacecraft only a few miles above the surface of a moon orbiting a planet many millions of miles distant and then have that spacecraft smoothly take a course for another destination with excellent confidence it’ll arrive. Barring equipment failures we can do that over and over again, with justified high expectation in the outcome. I could go on with examples but it’s really not necessary; suffice it to say our predictive powers in the physical sciences are very good.

    Mix economics and political science and you arrive at financial meltdowns, wars, criminal acts, many other unpredicted things. Humans don’t behave predictably in the same way as do inanimate objects. That’s why your chosen fields are so statistics heavy; what limited, crude predictive powers you have are necessarily born of statistics. If your fields could reliably predict courses that arrive at disaster, we would not include those destinations in our itinerary, yet we arrive at the gates of catastrophe anyway.

    Climate science incorporates statistics but the behaviors the statistical numbers are describing derive from things that are unlikely to have a bad-hair day, run out of coffee beans, succumb to megalomania or any the rest of the infinite list of –unpredictable– human foibles and quirks.

  15. 315
    Casey Chapple says:

    Let me say this before I’m banned altogether. Not allowing comments such as mine is what allows your audience to dance blithely on convinced that with just a few more months of temperature data they will be confirmed, and the rest of the world is coming along because your arguments are so crystal clear and technically brilliant. So the poor “sceptic” Darren is allowed to comment because you’ve seen his stuff before and have a comeback, and it’s respectably “technical” so you can convince yourself and your audience that real exchange is going on here. But if you disallow me, the emotional, disgusted type, it can slow the whole delusional thing down. I wonder what you do with the technically brilliant, disgusted ones. That’s the question, isn’t it? And they exist, don’t they. Don’t they?

    [Response: Not as far as I can tell. Oh, and a tip for getting your comments through - don't start off by calling us "ultra wingnuts". We are likely to take that as a a strong sign you have nothing substantive to contribute. - gavin]

  16. 316
    SecularAnimist says:

    Bill Webster wrote: “The debate is never over when it comes to science and theories, particularly a theory as tenuous as the AGW theory.”

    You don’t want “debate”. You want to be applauded for your appalling and arrogant ignorance. You won’t get that here. You will get it on blogs where deniers of scientific reality gather to reinforce each other’s obstinate ignorance or deliberate deceit.

    Of course the Ditto-Heads whose knowledge of climate science is based on the propaganda that ExxonMobil pays Rush Limbaugh to spoon-feed them will graciously welcome the sort of pseudoscientific drivel you have posted here. Actual climate scientists who have had to debunk that same, word-for-word, boilerplate, cut-and-pasted drivel many, many, many times before will not receive it so kindly.

    If you don’t like that, then stick to the denialist blogs run by cranks, frauds and ideologues.

  17. 317

    Thomas Fuller,

    You frame your questions/topics as “skeptical arguments advanced against the theory of anthropogenic global warming”. You also acknowledge that scientists are getting frustrated “answering the same ‘primitive’ objections repeatedly, only to see them resurface shortly thereafter, something that I am sure is frustrating.” I think a logical consequence is that your framing of the topic arouses a defensive reaction from climate scientists and their supporters. Based on you being aware of the scientists’ frustration in this matter, your choice of framing is rather odd, and so is your surprise about the reactions you received at RealClimate (mostly from commenters by the way; not from the RC editors).

    Most points on your list are neither new nor a threat to the theory of anthropogenic global warming. That said, some of your points have some validity in that the related uncertainties are large. Reframing your questions as “which areas in climate science have the greatest uncertainties?”, opens the door to a more constructive discussion.

    A quick glance at the points your raise:

    Data gathering and analysis. Points 1-4 are pretty meaningless for reasons explained at length elsewhere. The revised ocean heat content data (nr 5) don’t show a decrease of ocean heat content AFAIK, and moreover, trends have to be decided upon at appropriately long timescales. I’m not familiar enough with nr 6 to comment on, though Santer et al (2008) found no discrepancy between modeled and measured tropical troposphere temperatures.

    Climate sensitivity and feedbacks. There is considerable uncertainty in the precise value of climate sensitivity, so in my newly proposed frame, this would be a valid point. However, taking all constraints on climate sensitivity into account, it seems very unlikely that it is far outside the boundaries you quote: 1.5 to 4.5 degrees for a doubling of CO2. (see eg http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-is-3c.html) The chance for all previous work to be shown totally wrong by one new piece of work is perhaps not nil, but it definitely is very small.

    Plateau in current temperatures. Trends have to be decided upon at appropriately long timescales. The apparent plateau is close to meaningless for deciding on climatic trends. This truly is an old classic that gets scientifically minded persons’ defenses up.

    Tipping points. The exact nature and especially timing of tipping points is extremely uncertain, so yes, this is an area where the existing knowledge is very limited. However, the limited knowledge we do have (mainly based on paleoclimate) points to the existence of tipping points, eg related to the amount of ice cover. The policy relevance may be limited to “If it’s bad, it’s really bad. If it’s good, it’s still pretty bad”.

    Other climate forcings. No news there. Those other forcings are taken into account and indeed, they are additive to the changes from GHG emissions. They do not negate the radiative properties of those greenhouse gases however. Also keep in mind that many of the stronger feedbacks respond to temperature, so the amplification (or dampening) of the temperature response does not differ greatly between different forcings. That means that there is not a huge amount of wiggle room to decrease (or increase) the importance of the role of greenhouse gases (at least not without violating basic physics).

    I would add one more point: Aerosols. The uncertainty surrounding them and their impact on climate change is very large. But again, don’t expect a landslide change in current wisdom just because of that. That would be wishful thinking. Also keep in mind that uncertainty is not the same as knowing nothing. We’ll have to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, whether we like it or not. Climate policy should be about rational risk assessment, based on science.

  18. 318
    John Mashey says:

    re: #313 Darren

    [In the interest of social science studies I'm doing, you can help me calibrate political science backgrounds.]

    Could you be so kind as to answer my questions in #261? These don’t seem like hard questions.

    I cited some sources from (economics + political science) bearing on climate issues, albeit not necessarily climate *science*. Which of those have you read? [It's OK to say "none"].

    Then, can you say:

    0) Did you take any physics in high school or undergraduate school? [OK to say "none"].

    1) What books on climate have you read by real climate scientists?

    [It's OK to say "none", in which case, people will happily give you some recommendations for good books to start with, based in part on your answer to 0, unless you say "None, and I refuse to read any, because I already know enough", which happens. I've heard that face-to-face several times.]

    2) Have you attended lectures by climate scientists and asked them questions? If you say approximately where you live, I’m sure people who post here can recommend nearby lecture sources, if there are any. That is a truly wonderful way to learn, for those with fortunate geographic locations.

    If your primary sources are blogs, you might want to reconsider.

  19. 319
    dhogaza says:

    This site is drowning in snark. Something I do not observe at skeptic sites maintained by credible professional scientists.

    I swear I’m living in Bizarro World. How can someone say this with a straight face?

    Oh, no snark, just the organization of online efforts to get Jim Hansen fired, to get Lonnie Thompson disciplined, FOIA action against Jones, accusations of fraud, etc.

    Dude, you lost all credibility with those two statements. Consider who the heck you’re talking to. Do you think we haven’t looked at denialist sites?

  20. 320
    dhogaza says:

    Intricate statistical trend analysis seems like the kind we need to avoid.

    Goodbye to modern science. Another “Wow”-ser.

  21. 321
    Bill Hunter says:

    Gavin: “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.”

    With the ocean oscillation providing somewhere in the neighborhood of a plus or minus .5C per phase and the underlying .5C per century (whatever the cause), why does the centerline estimate of the IPCC prediction just fly out at a 1.0C per century level right in line with the previous 20 years of warming rather than gradually building up to it as CO2 continues to build? Bottom line is the downward phases of the ocean oscillation is completely missing in the IPCC predictions.

    Its the first thing I noticed when I approached this subject and seems obvious that the IPCC overestimated the effect of CO2 by attributing the positive ocean phase warming to CO2. Whether the IPCC intentionally fitted it or not to historical climate, as opposed to adopting climate models that ignored the same thing, is a completely different argument to the fact it fits and shouldn’t fit. To borrow another sports analogy (from the “hockey stick”) we are looking here at is a “frozen rope” where a wave belongs. . . .and you can tell me till the cows come home somebody cooked this up in some windowless physics lab somewhere and all I can say is. . . .it shows.

  22. 322
    Michael says:

    James
    Life expectancy has dramatically risen alongside fossil fuel use. The ball is in the court of people who argue we will decrease one without decreasing the other.

    Let’s say we were able to fast track the developing countries of the world and instantly give them decent jobs, houses, agriculture, transportation, medical services, security etc. I could argue that CO2 emissions would increase. It may not be a one to one relationship, but if you restrict CO2 you will restrict access to these basic human needs.

    Therefore the argument moves into “What are these restrictions and are they justified?” Can we agree on this much?

    btw-Sorry that this conversation is not exactly real-time. Busy weekend.

  23. 323
    dhogaza says:

    OK, after clicking on Bob Webster’s link to his website (linked via his name), I see now that it’s not me who’s living in Bizarro World …

    The first “must read” on his website’s climate change page is … Monckton.

    Whoa.

  24. 324

    #312 Bob Webster

    I admit I was attempting to inject a modicum of humor in the day, and certainly not everyone agrees on what is funny; but that aside, your entire post has some severe contextual dilemmas and seems to rely on rhetoric rather than relevance (not so good for your resume).

    H2O is a variable gas, but from what I’ve gathered, is not responsible for 90% of the warming, as indicated from the ref. re. Jay Lehr, Phd. post #34 above (I did not check the source so please feel free to accuse me of being a mean evil science hater). In my defense I’ve come to know through experience that the denialist/skeptic crowd has no problem whatsoever just randomly throwing inconsequential/irrelevant numbers out over the internets, and since I have at least an idea of what these numbers are supposed to resemble or be near, it did not seem worth the effort to chase his context down… trap it in a corner… and expose it for what it is. As mentioned upthread: Res ipsa loquitur.

    CO2 is not 4% of the atmosphere at this time, but rather .039 (spike) average .0386/7 on the mean increase (and rising).

    CO2 is, of course, only a tiny portion of our atmosphere (less than 3 1/100ths of a percent (pre-industrial), less than 4 1/100ths of a percent (current) without which we would be a frozen ball in space, and of which we have increased by 40% since pre-industrial (not an insignificant amount considering the radiative forcing).

    Since Gavin addressed your other points, I thought I would address your point 4.

    You said:

    “Earth’s normal climate which is ~10°C warmer than current climate.”

    What time period?
    How is that relevant to now (or relevant to the last 5.5 million years, or the bottom of the Jurassic, or the Permian, or the peaks of the Cambrian, Devonian, Triassic, Eocene)?

    Context is key.

    PS I took a look at the link on your name. No possibility you are biased by some of those folks on the contributor list?

    I have not addressed every single denialst in the rhetoric v. science debate, however, you might be interested in reading:

    John Coleman (used to work with Joe D’Aleo from icecap)
    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment/john_coleman/the-amazing-story-behind-the-global-warming-scam

    Lord Monckton
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/christopher-monckton

    or download rebuttal to Monckton White Paint
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/oss-reports/2009-06-22_sppi_white-paint-report_OSS-gen.pdf/at_download/file

  25. 325
    o says:

    (302)(309)(310) thanks for the links, and silly me, yes it must be Fahrenheit.
    Any pointer to the MIT model? For ModelE, I trust this is still valid up to minor revisions
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2006/2006_Schmidt_etal_1.pdf

  26. 326
    James says:

    Bob Webster Says (29 June 2009 at 13:39):

    “Remember, humans have never known Earth’s normal climate which is ~10°C warmer than current climate.”

    I can’t speak to the claim of a warmer “normal” climate (anyone?), but surely the statement leads to an obvious conclusion: that humans (and all other current life) have evolved in a cool climate regime (and indeed, one cooler than the present), and so they and their institutions have adapted to it as normal/optimum. So what usually happens when you take an organism out of the conditions it has evolved for? It struggles to survive. If the change is too great, it dies.

  27. 327
  28. 328
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #312 Bob Webster:

    It takes just seconds to identify your points 1,2,3,4,5 as personal, unfounded opinion. You volunteered them here, where a brief examination would tell you they won’t wash, and you’re all weepy because you’re not being accorded respect for behaving like that?

    “A more civil approach to scientific discourse would achieve a lot more than snarky posts, sniping comments, and singing the party line song.”

    Absolutely, and that’s the discourse you get, –if– you’ve actually committed yourself to a career in the scientific field in play, as opposed to hanging out as a dilettante on the Internet, flinging around personal opinion, which you’ve mastered. If you have not done the work to publish and attend conferences, dry up. You’re here voluntarily, after all.

    #313 Darren:

    “Regarding partisanship and pedigree, Im inclined to be as skeptical (or maybe more skeptical) of something that comes out of a governmental organization, such as the U.N. My field of study was mostly politics, so Ive observed a lot of politcal bodies. And the watchwords there are: partisanship, interests, power and arrogance.”

    Yeah, like the private sector only with more accountability to the general public.

    So you have an anti-government bias, but why would that sway me in favor of your beliefs? If somebody from the government tells you a something about physics, you’re more skeptical, but from somebody in the private sector (ExxonMobil? Bernie Madoff?) you’re more credulous. I don’t see this revelation as lending credibility to your argument.

  29. 329
    dhogaza says:

    To borrow another sports analogy (from the “hockey stick”) we are looking here at is a “frozen rope” where a wave belongs. . . .and you can tell me till the cows come home somebody cooked this up in some windowless physics lab somewhere and all I can say is. . . .it shows.

    You do realize that *individual* model runs show the variability missing from the *average of many individual* runs used as the basis for IPCC projections, right? The next question, then, is do you know *why* they use the average of many individual runs where the variability tends to cancel out, rather than present the output from a single run?

    Statements like this are flat-out false:

    Its the first thing I noticed when I approached this subject and seems obvious that the IPCC overestimated the effect of CO2 by attributing the positive ocean phase warming to CO2.

    You may get traction in the denialsphere with stuff like this, but if it weren’t for politics you’d be totally ignored by the science community when making such claims.

  30. 330
    Mark says:

    “Michael Says:
    Life expectancy has dramatically risen alongside fossil fuel use. The ball is in the court of people who argue we will decrease one without decreasing the other. ”

    Uh, how?

    Correlation != Causation (as was a common meme for denialists in the past and still is, until someone points out we HAVE a causation).

    So what is the link between life expectancy and fossil fuel use? And is that link necessarily tied to the fact of fossil fuel and so cannot be covered by another source?

  31. 331
    John Mashey says:

    re: #278 L.David Cooke
    (Sorry for Off-Topic, but this seemed worth doing to avoid confusion):

    “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.”

    I think this in danger of conflating two separate appearances of “30″:

    a) Statistical random sampling, where ~N=30 is often an important guideline.

    b) 30-years as traditional number of years for climate, long enough to allow significance in the presence of decadal ocean oscillations, sunspot cycles, etc.

    For time-series, a key factor is ~ratio of noise to trend, and people want 25-30 years because the noise is high in this case. Grumbine on trends is useful, as is following Open Mind.

    By comparison, consider the CO2 records (Keeling), where the year-to-year noise is relatively low. I’d speculate that 10 years or less is not too bad there.

  32. 332
    Mark says:

    Bart says:
    “That said, some of your points have some validity in that the related uncertainties are large. ”

    However, an uncertainty doesn’t go only one way.

    So it could make things better, or it could make things worse.

    Unless they aren’t so unknown that you can tell which way they will fall, in which case, they aren’t all that unknown, are they.

    And it also gets a bit of a bind when they go on about how it’s all chaotic and small differences can make big changes. Then forget about it when they say that something is going to make things better: it’s not so chaotic that they can’t work that out, strangely enough.

  33. 333

    #300 Hank Roberts and #259 Jim Bullis

    It seems we approach things differently. You seem to accept authority and are happy to add points that you think are supportive, though they may be only irrelevancies. There is not much chance you will accomplish very much.

    I read to understand, knowing very well from experience that those in authority are often incorrect, no matter how many are cheering the pronouncements. When something seems wrong, I will register my opinion. Yes, some checking of facts is in order. By my critical approach, there is a slight chance I will accomplish something.

    So lets look at the statement that I found incorrect:

    ” – - while seawater absorbs most of the radiation
    reaching it from the sun.”

    This is a very basic statement and clearly it is wrong for polar regions where grazing angles are low. It is a matter only of the most basic physics. If an important conclusion is based on wrong physics, it is not likely to be a correct conclusion, or at least it might need to be better justified using correct physics.

    In pointing this out, I overstated my case; and partly due to your stinging rebuke, I checked my reference papers and was reminded of the polarization effect. Even so, much of the radiation at small grazing angles is reflected from sea water. So the flawed statement by authority remains flawed.

    I understand you would want to prove the conclusion stands anyway. Ok. But it certainly can not be based on the reasoning of the scientist writing the report.

    I am not settled on the answer, though I have to agree with the authority that things will probably be worse, though not as catastrophically as the report suggests. Diffuse reflection from white ice will probably reject a fairly high amount of energy incident radiation. The reflected energy from the sea water after the ices has melted will depend on the sum of the horizontally polarized energy (very high) and the vertically polarized energy (variable around 40% to 60%. So that sea water reflection will also reject a lot of incident energy. My numbers on this are not completely applicable, since they are for longer wavelengths.)

    What I particularly object to in the Synthesis Report is the rush to heap on arguments against CO2 emissions. (There are sufficient real reasons.) Like I should check facts, so should the authority writing the energy reflection statement. This can be done simply by watching a sunset over the ocean.

    Just for reference, I said:

    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.

    On consideration, I would change the word “largely” to “substantially.”

  34. 334
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #330 Mark:

    “So what is the link between life expectancy and fossil fuel use? And is that link necessarily tied to the fact of fossil fuel and so cannot be covered by another source?”

    Well, it’s true that by figuring out how to temporarily feed a lot of people by producing nitrogenous fertilizer using gobs of fossil hydrocarbons we’ve thereby extended lifespans, as well as making a lot more lifespans.

    Fossil hydrocarbons are necessarily a temporary feature of our economy, ironically especially because we’re so good at creating and maintaining people using fossil hydrocarbons as a boost. If Michael’s correct he’s got a much more fundamental thing to worry about than attempts to regulate C02 emissions.

    What annoys me is the abject, hopeless and sad (ok, just one word: pathetic) premise that we’ve reached some sort of stasis in our development where we can’t possibly figure out how life will/can go on without our hydrocarbon tit. How do these people muster the will to get out of bed in the morning?

  35. 335

    #262 James,

    You say, “- – Now I buy the electric car and solar panels as a package.”

    There is nothing in physics that makes these be a package. These are two separate decisions, no matter how you verbally combine them.

    People can do what they like with their spare money, so go ahead and put up the solar panels. You will help reduce use of fossil fuels. I resist the idea that you should be subsidized with public money to do this because I think there are better uses of public money, some obvious now, and some yet to be considered.

    Now forget about the electric car part until the day when there are sufficient renewable electric generating sources that there can be a response in reality to your plugging in the car.

    When you plug in your car, no one is going to say, “Look what that James is doing: we better divert some renewable power over to him.” But even if such a silly thing were to happen, that diverted power would just be taken away from some other use, and that void would have to be filled from an available reserve capacity, that being coal, at least for now.

    Stick with the Insight.

  36. 336
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #333 Jim Bullis:

    Does sea state affect this? I’m thinking of the same effect you mention w/regard to ice.

  37. 337
    Phil Scadden says:

    Darren:
    “But given the overwhelming nature of the long-term temperature trends they cite, which I believe I’ve also seen elsewhere, they would seem to have a lot of room for error and even downright partisanship. That’s the kind of evidence that is persuasive”

    Sigh. You find this persuasive? Why may I ask? Have you actually read things like Weart “discovery of Global warming” or the IPCC FAQs? Evidence to date would suggest not.

    You claim to be skeptic, so you can please re-examine this “persuasive” evidence with your skeptic hat on? Like read the science. If you only read the denialist crap out there, without a look at the rebuttals, then arguing with you is pointless.

  38. 338
    Rod B says:

    dhogaza (301), I agree US F&W has a fairly decent reputation for being independent. That’s why I list the political pressure as number (and probably a distant) three, though I don’t believe it was nonexistent. And political pressure isn’t always overt from bureaucrats. Also, F&W is very capable of being zealous and fierce in their own right.

  39. 339
    Rod B says:

    Jim Galasyn (305), a clue is not knowing. Nor does your clue have any connection with his knowledge of polar bear populations.

  40. 340
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Jim
    29 June 2009 at 3:55 PM

    On consideration, I would change the word “largely” to “substantially.”

    In you dictionary, does substantially mean more or less than 50%?

    Second question: how do waves influence the absorption/reflection ratio in polar regions?

  41. 341
    dhogaza says:

    That’s why I list the political pressure as number (and probably a distant) three, though I don’t believe it was nonexistent.

    Oh, I’m sure it existed. In fact I’m absolutely positive that the Bush administration did not favor listing the polar bear.

  42. 342
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Rod, falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.

  43. 343
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Jim,
    29 June 2009 at 4:14 PM

    Now forget about the electric car part until the day when there are sufficient renewable electric generating sources that there can be a response in reality to your plugging in the car.

    How do you propose to reduce the CO2 emissions by cars in the mean time?

    When the clean electricity is finally there in, say, 2050, how do you propose we use that if what fills our roads is still propelled by internal combustion engines?

  44. 344
    David B. Benson says:

    “Scientific skepticism – a scientific, or practical, position in which one does not accept the veracity of claims until solid evidence is produced in accordance with the scientific method.” from
    http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Skeptic/

  45. 345
    sidd says:

    Mr. Hunter writes, expressing doubt as to the treatment of ocean oscillations and states:

    “…seems obvious that the IPCC overestimated the effect of CO2 by attributing the positive ocean phase warming to CO2.”

    This is not at all obvious, and in fact, quite untrue. I recommend that Mr. Hunter reads the Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group 1, available at

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm

    and the references therein.

    For a good introduction to current understanding of coupled ocean-atmosphere patterns of oscillation, I highly recommend Chapter 3, Section 6 et seq.

    For those more interested in historical overview for coupled ocean-atmosphere models, I suggest Chapter 1, section 4.6 et seq.

    (This is my second attempt at posting this, my first attempt was answered by the mysterious missive “502 Bad Gateway nginx”)

  46. 346
    Demitri says:

    Its highly unlikely that humanity has advanced in the 20th century, hunter-gatherer societies were much more healthy, happy, and prosperous. Or even the pre-industrial English, who can say that the factory system, made possible by the new Watt steam-engine, improved the life of the English, with child-labor, urban slums, etc? read Charles Dickens…This coinciding of course with increased Co2 emissions, scientists date global warming by pre-industrial standards, circa 1850, correct? Who or what is a “Bubkes”? what a strange term. And why do you end your post by insulting the Appalachian Trail?

  47. 347
    CM says:

    Jim Bullis (#333), re Arctic sea-ice albedo feedback and the Copenhagen synthesis report.

    ” – - while seawater absorbs most of the radiation
    reaching it from the sun.”

    This is a very basic statement and clearly it is wrong for polar regions where grazing angles are low.

    Not my field, but: a quick Internet search brings up frequent references to ocean albedo of some 6-10%, with the allowance that it rises significantly at high latitudes due to low sun angles. Burroughs, Weather Cycles, 2003, p. 132, gives a figure of 15-20% near the poles.

    A 20% ocean albedo would leave four fifths of the radiation to be absorbed by the water, wouldn’t it? If so the synthesis report would be perfectly right to say “most” radiation is absorbed.

  48. 348
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 299

    Hey CM,

    Thanks you are correct, I saw you continuing Barton’s thought regarding arm chair experts do a little heavy lifting themselves and got my messages mixed up. I can only blame brain damage from the lack of blood flow…, Thanks for setting this straight.

    Cheers!
    Dave Cooke

  49. 349

    #300 Hank Roberts and my #333 Hank Roberts

    I regret and apologize for my judgmental comment.

  50. 350
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 331

    Hey John,

    Concur; however, 30 years means 30 samples for a given day of the year and the average temperature for that day. Meaning thirty years equates to N=30 for the daily temperature for a given day or measurement period. It is quite possible you are more versed then I… (Though I do not know that using noise ratios apply if you have defined all the confounding participants.)

    The main point is, much of the climate work was to track the change for a 200 year parent population for analysis against anthropogenic and natural processes/activities or recent changes to be used for testing purposes. The limitation is a data set of precise measurements with a large enough population to be representative of the last 200 years. In this case I do not think a random sample of 10 is sufficient.

    Maybe if I share my limited insights you could point me in the right direction. In short, as I understand it if one wanted to define the mean for a child population for say the 21st of June to have N=30 you would need thirty random years of June 21st data. By the same token if you want to represent the average temperature for the year you would average all of your yearly averages and then randomly select thirty years for a sample. Where a sample of 10 is sufficient (If I remember correctly…)is when you are trying to test the probability that a value is a member of a subset of possible mean values, not to define the mean itself.

    As to the probability that a non-random sample of 30 represents a larger population may require a larger sample size based on my former training and experience. (Similar to using an R-barred quality chart for testing if a value exceeds 1 sigma of the mean.) Generally, my experience suggests with the Law of Large Numbers if you have a random 33% of the total values, the probability is that you have a child population that is highly representative of the parent population, the question is how small a non-random sample would have a similar accuracy.

    The issue is for a large parent population of say 10,000 years (This subset still leaves out major variations of Earths’s cyclic surface temperature participants, with periods of 100,000 and 400,000 and 640,000 years), with a shifting mean data set, with an unknown range and an unknown amount of possible confusing participants what would be the recommended sample size if one wanted to determine the probability that data is within 1 Sigma of the mean, or even determine the mean? In essence, how would you separate out when the mean contains multiple confounding data set modifiers. (I have heard of applying FFT for isolating signal from noise, though I do think that the noise contributors are defined by this method.)

    Cheers!
    Dave Cooke


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