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More bubkes

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2009 - (Chinese (simplified))

Roger Pielke Sr. has raised very strong allegations against RealClimate in a recent blog post. Since they come from a scientific colleague, we consider it worthwhile responding directly.

The statement Pielke considers “misinformation” is a single sentence from a recent posting:

Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.

First of all, we are surprised that Pielke levelled such strong allegations against RealClimate, since the statement above merely summarises some key findings of the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress, which we discussed last month. This is a peer-reviewed document authored by 12 leading scientists and “based on the 16 plenary talks given at the Congress as well as input of over 80 chairs and co-chairs of the 58 parallel sessions held at the Congress.” If Pielke disagrees with the findings of these scientists, you’d have thought he’d take it up with them rather than aiming shrill accusations at us. But in any case let us look at the three items of alleged misinformation:

1. Sea level. The Synthesis Report shows the graph below and concludes:

Since 2007, reports comparing the IPCC projections of 1990 with observations show that some climate indicators are changing near the upper end of the range indicated by the projections or, as in the case of sea level rise (Figure 1), at even greater rates than indicated by IPCC projections.

sea level graph

This graph is an update of Rahmstorf et al., Science 2007, with data through to the end of 2008. (Note the comparison is with IPCC TAR projections, but since AR4 projections are within 10% of the TAR models this makes little difference.)

Pielke claims this is “NOT TRUE” (capitals and bold font are his), stating “sea level has actually flattened since 2006” and pointing to this graph. This graph shows a sea level trend over the full satellite period (starting 1993) of 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm/year and is very similar to an independent French analysis of those very same satellite data shown in the Synthesis Report (blue lines above). The best estimate of the IPCC models for the same time period is 1.9 mm/year (coloured dashed lines in the middle of the grey uncertainty range). Hence the conclusion of the Synthesis Report is entirely correct.

The “flattening of sea level since 2006” that Pielke refers to is beside the point and deceptive for several reasons (note too that Anthony Watts has extended this even further to declare that sea level from 2006 to present is actually “flat”!). First of all, trends over such a short sub-interval of a few years vary greatly due to short-term natural variations, and one could get any result one likes by cherry-picking a suitable interval (as Pielke and Lomborg both have). The absurdity of this approach is see by picking an even more recent trend, say starting in June 2007, which gives 5.3+/-2.2 mm/yr! Secondly, this short-term trend (1.6 +/- 0.9 mm/yr) is not even robust across data sets – the French analysis shown above has a trend since the beginning of 2006 of 2.9 mm/year, very similar to the long-term trend. Third, the image Pielke links to shows the data without the inverted barometer correction – the brief marked peak in late 2005, which makes the visual trend (always a poor choice of statistical methodology) almost flat since then, disappears when this effect is accounted for. This means the 2005 peak was simply due to air pressure fluctuations and has nothing to do with climatic ocean volume changes. The trend from 2006 in the data with the inverse barometer adjustment is 2.1 +/- 0.8 mm/yr.

2. Ocean heat content. The Synthesis Report states:

Current estimates indicate that ocean warming is about 50% greater than had been previously reported by the IPCC.

This is a conclusion of a revised analysis of ocean heat content data by Domingues et al., Nature 2008, and it applies to the period 1961-2003 also analysed in the IPCC report. Pielke claims this is “NOT TRUE” and counters with the claim: “There has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.” But again this is not relevant to the point the Synthesis Report actually makes and again, Pielke is referring to a 5-year period which is too short to obtain statistically robust trends in the presence of short-term variability and data accuracy problems (the interannual variability for instance differs greatly between different ocean heat content data sets):

Levitus et al comparison of Ocean heat content data

For good reasons, the Synthesis Report discusses a time span that is sufficiently long to allow meaningful comparisons. But in any case, the trend in from 2003 to 2008 in the Levitus data (the Domingues et al data does not extend past 2003), is still positive but with an uncertainty (both in the trend calculation and systematically) that makes it impossible to state whether there has been a significant change.

3. Arctic Sea Ice. The Synthesis Report states:

One of the most dramatic developments since the last IPCC Report is the rapid reduction in the area of Arctic sea ice in summer. In 2007, the minimum area covered decreased by about 2 million square kilometres as compared to previous years. In 2008, the decrease was almost as dramatic.

This decline is clearly faster than expected by models, as the following graph indicates.

sea ice extent time series

Pielke’s claim that this is “NOT TRUE” is merely based on the statement that “since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased.”

Yes, same thing again: Pielke’s argument is beside the point, since the Synthesis Report is explicitly talking about the summer sea ice minimum reached each September in the Arctic, and we don’t even know yet what its value will be for 2009. And Pielke is again referring to a time span (“since 2008”!) that is far too short to have much to do with climatic trends.

We thus have to conclude that there are no grounds whatsoever for Pielke’s wild allegations against us and implicitly the Synthesis Report authors. The final sentence of his post ironically speaks for itself:

Media and policymakers who blindly accept these claims are either naive or are deliberately slanting the science to promote their particular advocacy position.


345 Responses to “More bubkes”

  1. 101
    steve says:

    Hank, if there was a mysterious forcing then it would affect the amount of water vapor in the air and you would have the same results for all intents and purposes as you would by adding any other GHG to the atmosphere, wouldn’t it?

    David, I am a far way from being a solar expert but I do understand that solar output as we understand it is not a likely candidate for driving the recent climate. My point was that expecting an instantaneous response from a change in solar output should a mechanism exist that we aren’t aware of would be the same as expecting temperatures to immediately drop if co2 were cut by 3% or to immediately rise if it were increased by 3%. The inconsistancy is the expectation that solar must show an immediate correlation while allowing co2 lag times and the acknowledgement that noise can overcome short term climate signals.

    And again, I am not interested in trying to defend the mysterious solar influence which we know not of. I prefer things that can be measured.

  2. 102
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    The new Synthesis Report will be very useful for a paper I’m writing on “Food Rights and Climate Change.” Thanks so much for the earlier post with the link. It’s hard to imagine that denialists are still out there.

    I have a lot of sources now, but if anyone has any really good sources re how climate change will affect food production on land and sea, let me know. And my understanding that CC will increase crops in temperate & higher zones is probably wrong, since the heat will dessicate the plants & recent studies show it will turn some food crops toxic, that more CO2 will benefit weeds more than food crops, plus I understand that the soil up near the arctic is very poor, and other such contraindications. And what about the floods and droughts – not good for food crops either.

  3. 103
    dhogaza says:

    An ego is not a good quality for a person to have, and it is a trait of the uneducated or rude.

    This is a call for the uneducated to be put in charge of science.

    No more Galileo.

    No more Darwin.

    No more Einstein.

    No, all must be sacrificed on the alter of having had the sin of ego.

    OK so, you hate science and scientists, what’s your proposed solution? The society postulated by Vonnegut where everyone above average is handicapped with physical weights or buzzing noises so they can’t think, in order to make sure that everyone is equal?

    No more Michael Jordan? No more Einstein? This is truly your vision of what you want our society to become?

  4. 104
    Dave Werth says:

    Alas, no public sessions. If you have the time I recommend the Mt. Hood field trip. It’s a spectacular place. Based on both your work here and the interview on KBOO I’d have to say you’re a perfect person to talk on “Communicating scientific results”. Both that conference and the one that immediately follows it look like they would be fascinating if I was in a position to attend. Hope you enjoy your visit.


  5. 105

    Katz (95) posed a question about CO2 sequestration. This is outside my AOS, but I thought I’d take a stab at answering the question to test my own understanding. This being a digital medium, if I get “bit-slapped” by those who know better, I’ll humbly accept my medicine.

    Separating CO2 from other parts of the atmosphere, or even from other efluvia at the point of origin (such as a smoke stack) is no mean feat. We are talking about molecules of a gas that possesses no trivially obvious signature. It is not like determining if a Semi is trying to sneak through the car lane at a toll-booth.

    Moreover, if we were only talking about a Semi-tractor-trailer’s worth of gas in one place, the issue would vanish into triviality. But we are talking about giga-tons — that’s 1,000,000,000+ tons — of a molecular substance too small to be imaged by the most powerful electronmicroscope in existence. And the idea/ideal is to somehow capture and sequester (that is, stash safely away) some significant amount of this stuff so that we avoid turning the planet into a tropical hell that would make Chicago in August look like ski-season.

    So you ask, “Why don’t they release it in the rainforests, or orchards?” Well, first you have to catch it, and then you have to take it there, and then you have to do something with the billions of other tons of CO2 that would otherwise choke the life out of those places.

    Consider this analogy: Water is good, water is necessary. There can be no life without water. Does that mean that you (or any other organism) will necessarily thrive if we seal you in a tank of water w/o even as much as a pocket of air? There is a matter of where and when and how much that must also be taken into account. Just because a little water (or CO2) is good — in the right place and at the right time — that does not mean that a lot of it (water or CO2), everywhere and all at once is somehow “better”, or even OK.

    Does that help clarify things any?

  6. 106

    EL Says (99): 2 July 2009 at 9:06 PM “… An ego is not a good quality for a person to have, and it is a trait of the uneducated or rude.”

    Echoing dhogaza in 103, I would ask: El, can you name a single Zen master who has made a substantive contribution to science? The psychological issues that motivate an individual to go into science are not relevant to the logical issues around the cogency of their arguments. But there would be no logical arguments if people were not motivated to make them, and that motivation springs only from the/their ego.

    Apologies for my language, but nobody — including you — would give a shit about the truth if telling the truth were not also accompanied by some applause. If you did not have some personal investment in the claim you were trying to make, you would never bother to make it much less fight tooth, claw and nail for it. Yet it is only in such ego invested struggle, such dialectical conflict, that the merits of a claim or idea can ever hope to emerge. Eliminate that, and you eliminate even the possibility of discovering the truth.

    (Apologies if this comes up twice: reCaptcha was getting weird on me.)

  7. 107
    Ike Solem says:

    william Says: “I agree with Ike, there is a high degree of collegiality within the climate scientific establishment.”

    Not nearly as much as within the denialist camp! How about that Heritage Institute meeting, or was it Heartland?

    You don’t see the more testy internal debates within climate science on blog sites – it’s usually fairly arcane and on the leading edge of the science, because all rational climate researchers agree on the basic fundamentals.

    The reason real climate scientists shy away from public debates on the arcane details of their research is best exemplified by the Carl Wunsch – Global Warming Swindle affair. First, read his response, where he states he has no doubts at all about the general conclusions, the IPCC reports, etc.:

    This came about because he was discussing the uncertainties and complexities involved in modeling the ocean vs. the poor data coverage, and his comments were taken out of context and used in some fossil fuel propaganda piece that was run on British television as part of an attack on the general conclusions of climate models. This has no doubt greatly increased the distrust level among scientists when it comes to talking to the media – who wants to be treated like Carl Wunsch? (as noted, the rate of oceanic heat uptake is important to the rate of the short-term transient response, but not so much to the long-term projections, i.e. equilibrium climate sensitivity, or so it seems).

    Likewise, I’m sure if you asked several Arctic ice researchers what the most important research projects in the region were, you’d get a lot of interestingly contentious discussion – for example, why precisely are the models underestimating the changes in ice volume & extent? It doesn’t mean the models are wrong, it means that there is room for improvement.

    Secular animist: Yes, that’s an odd choice of words. “Perspectives” are usually solicited by journal editors after a paper has passed peer review by independent referees, so there might be editorial back and forth but not the typical peer review process. Usually it’s to give a larger context or to explain why the paper is important in the ‘big picture’.

    Finally, hot off the presses, and probably likely to stimulate discussions:

    Conventional El Niño events involve warming in the eastern Pacific. But a new wrinkle might be emerging as a phenomenon dubbed El Niño Modoki (from the Japanese meaning “similar, but different”) shows warming in the Central Pacific — similar to that which is seen during La Nina years.

    “Normally, El Niño results in diminished hurricanes in the Atlantic,” said Peter Webster, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who led a research team studying the issue. “But this new type is resulting in a greater number of hurricanes with greater frequency and more potential to make landfall.”

    Warming in the central Pacific Ocean is associated with a greater-than-average frequency and increasing landfall potential along the Gulf of Mexico coast and Central America, the report said.

    The study’s findings are published in the July 3 issue of Science.

    Hurricane-related studies always seem to light up the climate blogosphere, as do El Nino studies – so this should be interesting.

  8. 108
    Sean Houlihane says:

    Can you show us what the recent 10 year trends of the contested variables look like? This should be a fair compromise between over removing any evidence in a varying trend, and excessive noise sampled over a short period. It would, for example, show how variable the sea level trend is over the longer term – allowing a consideration of the significance of any variation from a simple 30 year trend.

  9. 109
    Alex Harvey says:

    It is saddening and alarming to see the number ad hominem attacks against Professor Pielke both in the subject of the thread and in the posts that have been allowed into it, echoing the point that he made himself today on his blog. It begins at response 1 and goes from bad to bad throughout. Pielke’s own blog post may indeed have had a “shrillness” to it, but there were no personal attacks or ad hominems in any of his words. So why respond in this way?

    For those of us who are not scientists and who can understand some of the points, and not others, these ad hominem attacks at Pielke’s character, and the word “Bubkes” (=BS?) in the thread title, only further increases our skepticism & suspicion. If he is wrong, then why can’t the reasons be given why he is wrong, without the attacks on his character? No one who reads Pielke’s blog doubts his sincerity. Thus, all other things being, the ad hominems just leave the general public with the take-home impression that he must have a point then. If this is the wrong take-home impression, those making the ad hominem attacks have only themselves to blame.

    Kind regards,

    [Response: To me as a scientist the worst kind of ad-hominem attack is if someone accuses me in public of spreading “misinformation”, since this insinuates a deliberate deception and by suggesting sinister motives aims to undermine my personal credibility, which is the most cherished thing for any scientist. Had Pielke said “I disagree with your conclusions”, that would have been entirely different.
    The term “bubkes” in our title is a colloquial Yiddish expression. Saying “what you’ve got is bubkes” means (as I was told beforehand) that what you’ve got is not a serious argument at all. And this is exactly what our article is saying: we don’t think Pielke has got any serious argument here. This is not ad-hom, it refers to the quality of his arguments. -stefan]

  10. 110
    Abi says:

    Lynn V @ 102

    Not sure if this is the sort of thing you’re looking for, but it looks interesting.

    The science behind the research appears sound, even if the title sounds like a bad joke.

  11. 111
    ilajd says:

    Comment by tamino — 2 July 2009 @ 8:23 AM

    Oh my God methanes ready to rumble. What was that criticism about Pielke Snr and short term trends again? Pot, Kettle and all things black-Looking pretty Gothic there Gavin and Co.

  12. 112
    Daniel C. Goodwin says:

    I can name any number of Zen masters (insofar as personal humility is concerned) who have made a substantive contribution to science: the great American physicist David Bohm is my personal favorite.

    Some people truly do get a charge out of the truth alone, regardless of subsequent rewards (or, more likely, punishments). The subject of how wonderful I am quickly wears thin, while the truth is persistently elusive, our individual and collective knowledge so ephemeral at the edges that the distant points twinkle.

    My experience of climate science is deeply conflicted on the subject of how great human beings are. On the one hand, we’re smart enough to figure out the trouble we’re headed for ahead of time, so that it’s possible for prudent action to head off disaster. On the other hand, we’re stupid enough to continue walking right into trouble despite the most explicit warnings possible. On the whole, I’m finding Homo sapiens an embarrassing species to be a member of.

  13. 113

    Q. How many AGW denialists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. There is no good evidence that the light bulb needs to be changed.

  14. 114
    Sekerob says:

    Let’s top it off for G.Karst, who’s so impressed with this one of several views, the ‘extent’ at that. Did you identify the ‘Real Sea Ice Surface’ expressed in the ‘Area’ value. Then, did you identify Sea Ice mean Thickness? What if I told you, finger in the air, the sea ice 30 years ago was 3-4 meters thick end of June and now in mean it’s not 1.5 meter. Would that strike you as a dramatic reduction in polar sea ice?

    Just that you understand what we’re looking at in the coming months, or rather what’s we’re not be looking at. Most terrifying this season anything on the west side of Greenland, baffin specifically!

  15. 115
    Nylo says:

    Pielke’s interpretation of the sentence is correct. If the intention was to say something about our improved understanding of trends, the chosen sentence is faulty.

    “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago”

    The key word is EXPECTED. A few years ago, expectations were about future data, not past data. If you use the term “expected”, you are talking about a future time relative to that moment. What was expected a few years ago was a future evolution of temperatures, arctic ice or sea level rise. Those are the aspects of climate change that were EXPECTED, the future ones. There were no expectations at all about calculated trends with PAST data, so that’s something that cannot progress compared to expectations. I never heard anybody claim that two years later new studies would probably appear that would claim higher trends for the same data, or would provide new past data which is more alarming. THAT would have been an expectation about improved understanding. But no. All expectations in the past were about the evolution of the real world. It is that evolution what you have to check to decide if expectations were too low or too high.

    Anyway, given that all of this is just a misunderstanding, why no edit the initial sentence and write something more accurate that correctly reflects what has been going on? For example:

    “Recent studies have shown that our previous understanding of the climate trends was probably a too conservative one, and we should expect a more rapid warming, arctic melt and sea level rise in the future. This is despite the observed reduction of the trends which happens as a result of including data from the last 2 years, which is believed to be affected by weather noise”.

    [Response: Your last part is wrong, since the data of the last two years (June 2007 to June 2009) show an extremely high sea level rise of 5.3 mm/year (which we cited above only as an example for the fallacy of looking at short-term trends) as well as two record-breaking low sea ice minima in the Arctic.
    But don’t lose sight of the bottom line of the argument: it is about how science has progressed in the three years since the deadline for papers included in the last IPCC report (which is of course what is primarily meant by “expected a few years ago”), and what this means for policy. Does the most recent science since IPCC argue for increased urgency in emissions reductions? That is what the Copenhagen Synthesis Report argues, and it makes a scientifically well-founded case for that, supported by a large number of leading scientists and a peer-review process. Or does it mean we can relax and take it easy with climate policy measures? That is what Pielke is trying to convey in his blog (just read his last sentence). And here I do not think that statements like “sea ice recovered since 2008” or “sea level has flattened since 2006” have any relevance to policy whatsoever, especially since this supposed flattening of sea level rise simply comes from cherry-picking a suitable start year and neglecting the inverted barometer correction, as mentioned above.-stefan]

  16. 116
    Eli Rabett says:

    Life goes much too fast here, however, in reply to #23

    A quick look at any graph showing the evolution of the Arctic sea ice clearly shows that one year is an absolutely preposterous sample period (because of the short-term variability you always find superimposed over the underlying trend).

    Is not quite true because multi-year and first year ice have very different characteristics, and thus a very cold or very hot year can have consequences over a very long time. One way of looking at 2007 is that it was a step change imposed on a declining trend, and its effect on the trend given rising greenhouse forcing will be visible essentially until the next ice age, if that ever comes

  17. 117

    Bob Lear (#25): this is a meme that keeps resurfacing in various places.

    The fact that we are at a solar minimum does not somehow debunk AGW. Rather, the opposite. If the solar variation was the major influence on temperature change, the last few years would have seen a strong cooling trend. That we have in fact had a slightly positive temperature trend over the last 10 years despite this down phase of the solar cycle is strong evidence that something else is holding temperatures at or near record highs.

    The only plausible “something else” is greenhouse gas warming.

    What troubles me about this meme is not that anyone is trying to find this “something else” (and there are enough bizarre theories out there) but that many people somehow think that where we are in the solar cycle is evidence against AGW. It is not. On the contrary, the clear break between the temperature trend in recent years and the solar cycle is pretty strong evidence for AGW.

  18. 118
    isotopious says:

    “Pielke is referring to a 5-year period which is too short to obtain statistically robust trends in the presence of short-term variability……..”

    Unless Pielke has a different approach, one which can explain long-term trends by using short-term variability.

    Although I doubt he has, this is what I think he is suggesting..

    I admire his determination to figure out the intricacy of the climate system, rather than throwing it in the “noise” trash can.

  19. 119
    Mark says:

    “Although I doubt he has, this is what I think he is suggesting..”

    So can he stop suggesting and say what his method is.

  20. 120
    Mark says:

    “It is saddening and alarming to see the number ad hominem attacks against Professor Pielke ”

    Alex, if Pielke talks a load of rubbish, pointing out that this is a load of rubbish isn’t an ad-hom.

    If people said his stuff was wrong JUST BECAUSE IT WAS HIM THAT SAID IT, ****that**** is an ad-hom.

  21. 121
    francois says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan, there are several papers looking at the non linear affect of increasing temperatures on corn and soybean. Here are two:

    Higher night time temperatures have a negative impact on rice yields:

    For a snapshot of what prolonged high temperatures will do to crop and pasture yields, try this UNEP bulletin:

  22. 122
    steve says:

    I personally don’t like arguing against a mysterious force whose properties are not known and can’t be measured. The only solar forcing besides direct TSI I have heard discussed recently is cloud formation from cosmic rays (forgive me if I over simplify). Since this would cool the earth by preventing sunlight from reaching the surface if it was accurate then the TSI as measured by ground instruments should show a change with solar cycles above the levels of TSI as measured by satellites. I haven’t found a study that compares this but I didn’t try too long since I think it is safe to assume it has been done and if it showed a significant change it would be rather easy to find.

  23. 123
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alex Harvey,
    Methinks somebody needs to learn what an ad hominem attack is:

    Alex, the argument has nothing to do with Pielke as a person. Rather, it has to do with the fact that he is trying to draw conclusions about the long-term behavior of a system whose short-term behavior is dominated by noise by looking at short datasets. To say that is a dumb thing to do is hardly ad hominem. It is valid criticism of method.

    For reference, it would, in my opinion, be an ad hominem attack to argue against Roy Spencer’s recent attempts at comedy by pointing out that he is a creationist. That has nothing to do with the argument being made, however much it may raise questions about his understanding of scientific method.

    See the difference?

  24. 124
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Do you really think no mainstream scientists are looking at short-term behavior of the climate system? They are–but in that case, that is the signal, not the noise. What Pielke is trying to do is infer longterm behavior from short-term behavior. In a system where short-term behavior is dominated by many different, highly variable but short-lived phenomena, that verges on insanity. No wonder he’s so peevish.

  25. 125
    Ray Ladbury says:

    EL @99 says, “After an explanation is made, you can refer future questions with a link. Dealing with the public has never been easy.”

    EL, have you been cryogenically frozen for the past 20 years? You seem to have entirely missed the fact that some people refuse to read a link–or even what is put in front of their face. Some folks are WILLFULLY ignorant. At a point willful ignorance becomes indistinguishable from stupidity.

    And scientists are human. Sorry to burst your bubble. Oh, and there’s no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, either.

  26. 126
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 90

    Hey Sidd,

    Are you suggesting then that all the warming in the globes oceans since around 1985 is absorbed by polar ice melting.

    I mean, if you were to suggest the current level were an increase of loss at a rate of 1.7e22J per year possibly dwindling down to 0 in 1985 suggesting a mean of 0.85e22J per year since 1985, times the time frame of melt, should average out for the last 23 years to be about 19.33e22J, where it is suggested that the 0.31 Deg. C suggested the ocean heat content increase appears to be about 16e22J over the same time period.

    So if you were to remove the amount of heat absorbed by the state change of ice over 23 years the Earth’s oceans should actually be cooler, which appears to be in alignment with some of the studies in the 2003 measurements; but, contrary to recent studies.

    Hence, the reason I was looking for actual measured records of say a remote sensing data base from which we could remove the ice melt and heat inflows from tributaries to attempt to build model of higher resolution with lesser parametrization. Thanks for the rough values, I am afraid that this venture may require more details…

    Dave Cooke

  27. 127
    truth says:

    In reply to the remarks levelled at me in the reply to [51]:
    English is my first language , as I’m pretty sure you know—and ‘faster’ relates to ‘than expected’.
    If sea levels are not accelerating [ as KNMI and Wilco Hazeleger have said]—-and you concur with that , but then say that rising sea levels is one of the aspects that is progressing faster[ than you expected]—then it follows that what you expected was that the graph of sea level rise would have become less steep than it actually has—-and since there’s been no change in the rate of rise— that the maintenance of the same steepness in the graph tells you that the SLR is progressing faster than expected.
    Or are you saying that the steepness of the trend line had been wrong all along [ on the low side]—and now it’s been discovered that it’s actually steeper than was thought?
    Why didn’t you post the rest of the comment, with the Josh Willis view that the oceans are neither warming nor cooling [ was that previous trend line also wrong? ] —and the Drew Shindell view that 45% of the Arctic ice shrinkage is due to black carbon [ meaning that less of the Arctic warming is due to CO2 than had been previously thought ?

  28. 128
    Ike Solem says:

    The decline in sea ice area was preceded by a longer term decline in sea ice thickness.

    No matter how many times you point to Rothrock et. al, plus all the rest of it, the same garbage keeps popping up – right, Dave Cooke?

    I think boos are more appropriate than cheers, in your case, as well as for Pielke – see this, for example:

    Given all this information, perhaps Roger Pielke Sr. should revist his 2005 statement: “Our conclusion is that the Arctic Systems Science report, which received so much media attention, significantly overstated the actual trends of Arctic sea-ice coverage.”

    When you’re proved wrong time and time again, yet refuse to acknowledge it and keep pumping out the same propaganda line, you lose all credibility and become ridiculous.

    And please, could he take down his claims about ocean cooling on the dozen or so posts he put up based on the retracted Argo float paper? Or at least put a disclaimer on top of them, since he advertises his blog to reporters as a ‘reputable source’?

  29. 129
    Alex Tolley says:

    Could you get onto the issue of the “suppressed Carlin Report” which seems to be blowing up in the media? having read the report on th eweb it seems to me to be full of errors but it is making headlines and a good critique would be useful.

    [Response: Read our previous thread on the Carlin/EPA report. – gavin]

  30. 130
    EL says:


    Once you are convinced of your own superiority to everyone else, you suffer under the delusion of a conjured felicity. It is a weakness not a strength, and it stands in the way of progress.

    I could easily present Kurt Godel, Georg Cantor, and Micheal Faraday as great people who didn’t walk around as godly people. All three of these people were consistently attacked by people suffering under the delusion of egotism.

    “OK so, you hate science and scientists, what’s your proposed solution?”

    I never said I hate scientists or science.

    Gary Herstein – “motivation springs only from the/their ego”

    Ego as in self confidence and desire to have your ideas accepted is different from egotism. An egotistical person will deny clear evidence based upon his or her own superior view of the world. One does not have to look too far to find mistakes made by people who allowed their egos to go out of bounds. Lets take Albert Einstein as an example. When presented with evidence of black holes, Einstein remarked “Your mathematics is correct, but your physics is wrong.” When presented with the quantum world, Einstein remarked “God does not play dice.” Einstein became the people who he disliked as a child, and he missed out on some wonderful new science as a result.

  31. 131
    Eli Rabett says:

    #106 Einstein and Oppenheimer, to name only two were influenced by their readings of Bhuddist texts.

  32. 132

    By the bye, a better source on the nature of various logical fallacies (including the ad hominem) than Wikipedia is the Fallacy Files:

    Specific to the ad hominem:

  33. 133
    canbanjo says:

    I am an architect and have just been directly affected by global warming. I received this shocking news from a flooring subcontractor:

    “This section over the last 3 x weeks has had a shift which may be due to the extreme environmental climate change and in turn created 2 x creases in the vinyl running across the corridor on the joins of the different parts of the existing substrate.”

    I think he means here in London it has been particularly hot for the last week…

  34. 134
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Gary Herstein says:

    Apologies for my language, but nobody — including you — would give a shit about the truth if telling the truth were not also accompanied by some applause.

    I disagree with that 100% and think EL has a valid point. Ego can and does interfere with finding the truth, over and over, scientist or otherwise.

    We tell the truth for the sake of our conscience. Applause is nice but don’t expect much applause as a scientist. It’s largely a thankless job.

  35. 135
    Mark says:

    “Once you are convinced of your own superiority to everyone else, you suffer under the delusion of a conjured felicity.”

    Please indicate where this is proven to be the case.

    NOTE: being superior in education to the less educated isn’t a delusion. Nor is it a particularly dangerous scenario.

  36. 136
    Mark says:

    “then it follows that what you expected was that the graph of sea level rise would have become less steep than it actually has”

    No, truth. It doesn’t mean that. It can be thought to mean that, but that’s not what it has to mean.

  37. 137
    Mark says:

    “Ego can and does interfere with finding the truth, over and over, scientist or otherwise.”

    And having to eat interferes with finding the truth, over and over.

    Does this mean all scientists should stop eating?

  38. 138
    sidd says:

    Mr. Cooke writes

    “if you were to suggest the current level were an increase of loss at a rate of 1.7e22J per year…”

    I don’t know where you are getting 1.7e22 J for the latent heat of fusion of 500GT ice. My calculation (which I reproduce below) gives 1.7e20 J

    500GT x 1e9(T/GT) x 1e3 (Kg/Tonne) x 1e3 g/Kg x 80 Cal/g x 4.2 J/Cal = 1.7e20 J

    this is 1.7% of my estimate of yearly oceanic heat increase (averaged over the last decade) of 1e22J from the Levitus (2008) graf.

    Perhaps you found an error in my calculation ?

  39. 139
    tamino says:


    So many of the comments on this thread are examples of the title of this post, that I find it somewhat discouraging. You have the patience of a saint to tolerate them.

    Your efforts are not in vain. Good on ya.

  40. 140
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Lynn (102):
    The problem is one of the practical details of farming. In the wheat growing Kansas of my youth, we had a 2-week period in June where we could expect dry weather for harvest and a 2-week period in August where we could expect enough rain to geminate the seed. We picked a wheat cultivar that was suited to this climate regime. Still, we expected to lose 2 or 3 crops in any 7 year period, a couple of years we would break even, and in a couple of years out of the 7 we would make enough money to pay our bills and keep farming.

    In a period of climate change, dry periods and rain periods are less predictable, leading to real problems with harvest, planting and other field work schedules. In particular, selecting the correct cultivar to grow becomes a real gamble. As it becomes warmer, does the farmer grow wheat again, and what cultivar? Or, does he switch to sorghum? Many farmers have complex, multiyear rotation schedules to control weeds, pests, and soil moisture. Knowing how make money growing crops on a particular field is intellectual property that has real value. Changing the climate reduces the value of that IP. Abandoning the field obliterates that IP. Farmers have a huge store of knowledge about their local growing system. Moving a farmer can be as traumatic to him as forcing a climate scientist to design electronic systems for rockets. That is; much of what he knows is no longer useful, and he has a long, steep, learning curve ahead of him.

    Farming takes a significant infrastructure. The cost to prepare raw land for farming is very significant. In addition, infrastructure for handling crops and maintaining that infrastructure is significant. Farmers will be reluctant to abandon their current farmlands where this infrastructure is in place, for new for raw land where they must invest in infrastructure. Then, the farmer gets 7 bad years in a row, and the farm goes bust. After the dust bowl of the 1930s, rain returned. And, we had many young people that still had farming skills. That may not happen with climate change. Agriculture has always been a low return industry where it was difficult to attract capital investment.

    Studies on the feasibility of agriculture in a changing climate should thus be evaluated on how well the studies address the issues of predictability of growing seasons and the costs of moving agricultural infrastructure.

    The response of a particular plant to CO2 is a miniscule part of agricultural productivity. High CO2 response does not count if there is no crop for lack of soil moisture. And, growing lots of wheat does not count if it rots in the field, or if you are able to harvest the grain, but do not have a railroad to get it to market. Try to permit a new railroad line or highway these days! Try to find a study on agrucultural productivity under climate change that addresses costs of new railroads and highways. (And, these are up front capial costs, not backend costs that can be discounted.)

  41. 141
    Alex Tolley says:

    re @129.

    Gavin, thanks. I missed it. Very helpful.

  42. 142
    Jim Bouldin says:

    And having to eat interferes with finding the truth, over and over. Does this mean all scientists should stop eating?


  43. 143

    Mark, do you really mean that ego is as necessary as eating?

    (Captcha goes mystic, with “Tuesday mantra.” THAT’s a little Zen, even if “mantra” isn’t.)

  44. 144
    Ron Broberg says:

    @Karst:89 re ice extant

    Instead of posting individual data points, why not build ice extant trend lines for NH, SH, and GLOBAL? You could do them for annual averages, individual seasons, minimums, and maximums. Box your trends in 2xstandard deviations. Now you have a story to tell.

    Posting individual data points from 1980 and 2008/2009 – not much of a story. Not much point to it at all. Kind of wonder why you bother to do it. That kind of completely insignificant busy work makes me question your motives.

    @Ike:45 re el nino
    Browsing around yesterday, I saw this …

    Moving from El Nino (ENSO) to the Pacific and Atlantic oscillations,
    this paper show a statistical reconstruction based on the sign (+ or -) of the AMO and PDO. It found that three factors accounted for about 75% of the drought pattern – with AMO and PDO accounting for about 25% each. (Interestingly, the paper claims that US SW has an inverse temp relation to drought – cooler temps lead to drier conditions. Most climate models project warmer temps and drier conditions of the US SW)

    Pacific and Atlantic Ocean influences on multidecadal
    drought frequency in the United States

    McCabe, 2004



    So +AMO and -PDO => drier SW USA for the next few years.

    This would be similar to the 1950s which also had +AMO and -PDO:
    (click on the boxes with years)

    Corrections or comments welcome. Like I said, just another goober with google.

  45. 145
    G. Karst says:

    Sekerob Says:
    3 July 2009 at 5:54 AM

    “Let’s top it off for G.Karst, who’s so impressed with this one of several views, the ‘extent’ at that”.

    I posted the NSIDC data without any additional comment. If you have problems with the data you should take it up with the NSIDC. It is their data not mine. I left it’s relevance and importance completely up to the reader. How can you possibly know what impresses me? What views are you referring to???

    Gavin, is there data that is unacceptable on this site that I don’t know about? Must data be accompanied by biased comment and rhetoric? I admit I am new to this site, so someone please explain the limits to observational science ruling here.

    Perhaps, people are upset that I corrected tamino’s error. Is he some personage inviolate around here?? Someone needs to fill me in on the unwritten rules.

    Science is a progressive endeavor. It does not arrive fully complete. New data must be examined and applied or rejected by discriminating logic and reason.

  46. 146
    Jim Galasyn says:

    I’ll second Tamino’s sentiment and note the absurdity of the “RealClimate censors!!1!!!111!!1” claims that are so prominent in the denialosphere.

  47. 147
    Mark says:

    “# Kevin McKinney Says:

    Mark, do you really mean that ego is as necessary as eating?”

    No, I mean it gets in the way of finding the truth.

    Wonder how you managed to get those words from my very short message.

  48. 148
    dhogaza says:

    Aaron Lewis … thank you for that very concise, and information-packed, primer on reality from the POV of a modern farmer.

  49. 149
    Neil Craig says:

    You say this report was – apparently “suppressed” – by the EPA & that it – supposedly – undermines what the EPA case.

    Is there any actual doubt that the EPA did suppress it & that it, despite it coming from EPA personnel who clearly weren’t on message to what was required, not only undermined the EPA claims but flatly disagreed with them?

    [Response: The Endangerment finding was open for public comment for months, no comments were ‘suppressed’ and Carlin could easily have put in his paper there. Instead he wanted it to be the official submission from his unit (NCEE) to the process which was not approved by his boss. How is that suppression? Who has an automatic right to get their institution to give their non-official musings on any subject they care to write about an imprimatur? No-one I know. But in any case, the real issue is whether there is any credible science in the document. There isn’t, and so whether the NCEE was or was not embarrassed to be associated with this is not really my concern as a scientist. – gavin]

    As for calling Friends of Science an “a astroturf anti-climate science lobbying group” – by “astroturf” do you mean it involves only a small number of people who all work full time for some organisation (government or industry) because if so Realclimate is astroturf. he “anti-climate science” line is even stranger. Science is a process of comparing differing theories so if climate science is a genuine science it must welcome examination. The only way it would be possible for Mr Gregory to be “anti-climate science” is if he claims the subject doesn’t exist i.e. that this planet has no atmosphere & thus no climate which can possibly be scientifically examined. If this is what you are really claiming that would indeed be extraordinary.

    [Response: I might suggest that Gregory’s and the FoS’s connection to the practice of true science is somewhat ambiguous…. – gavin]

    That Carlin & Davidson’s conclusions reflect those Friends of Science hold is not, obviously a reasonable criticism. All science is based on standing on others shoulders & it is no more a criticism of what they say than it is of Realclimate to say appear to be directly that same as the IPCC’s. Indeed the opposite is true & there actually is some limited value in being able to show that your views hold a consensus position.

    Proper criticism in science involves disputing the facts & the closest you come to that is saying they show a “complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales” which actually isn’t disputing facts but merely stating that the 11 years of cooling isn’t enough to count. If that is your position presumably the 18 years from 1980 to 1998 when we had warming isn’t enough to count either. By your own argument the whole alarmist cause has, from the start, been guilty of exactly the fault you complain of except magnified since alarmists take this short period as evidence of a change unparalleled in human history, likely to make Antarctica the only habitable continent & justifying our destruction of most of the world economy (as we can all see) whereas sceptics are merely sceptical of such claims.

    [Response: “Destruction of most of the world economy” – and you are accusing me of being alarmist for pointing out that climate sensitivity is not negligible? Funny that. – gavin]

  50. 150
    L. David Cooke says:

    RE: 128

    Hey Ike,

    Hmmm, and here it looked like a possible intelligent conversation could have evolved… If you are suggesting that the polar ice has been in serious decline the entire 20th Century you might be right; however, the hard data in regards to ocean temperatures and measured ice loss is fairly recent.

    There had been spot occurrences of prior spats of ice loss and excessive calving as can bee seen in Ice Berg Patrol warnings. Matter of fact as recent as the 1970’s there was significant warnings of glacerial recession in Alaska. (You might remember the story of the porpoise who was trapped by the reformation of the glacier…) This points to the idea variability at the edges was part and parcel of the territory. We can even go as far as to discuss the loss of beach along the East Coast of Florida where as a young person I watched beach houses and pools fall on the beach and get swept out to sea…, all without a storm. Including the encroachment by the ocean 50-60 year old piers, near ocean inlets, where the sea levels began to over top them…

    By simply reviewing the recent graph at the top of the page, it appears that up to 1985 was characterized mainly of variability of oceanic heat content, with no more then three peaks above or below the line in succession, it is not until 1985 that there appears a near linear increase in oceanic heat content. As the heat content rose prior/or in-spite to/of volcanic triggers suggests there may not have been a solar origin, at least not in the NH.

    This then leads us to the observations of SST in the South and Western Pacific. A strong El Nino during the period between 1989 and 2001 seemed to be in place. Along with this was a strong SST signature of increased insolation. The global data in the graphs above support the change and the growth in heat content. If you go to the Triton/TAO time series data set there is confirmation of additional heat in the North Pacific.

    If we look further there is a suggestion that the PDO had vectored a portion of the increased SST pool towards the Bering Straights and into the Arctic Ocean. If on the other hand we go to the PIRATA data set and review this in relation to the NAO there appears to be an opposing forcing, coupled with the westward and southward movement of the Bermuda High. The change in the NAO demonstrated a warming, via a Labrador Sea, of the West coast of Greenland, out of phase with the warming of the PDO. During periods of transition there are rare; but, recently more common, occurrences of both events appearing in the same year.

    As to the drivers of the higher SSTs there are studies that suggest they may have been due to a reduction of aerosols in the ITCZ region. There even has been a suggestion of dust or aerosols increasing the turbidity of the oceans surfaces adding the heat content of the surface while shading the depths.

    The point is that there has been a reserve of heat due to several different processes and that has been a significant forcing of polar ice loss. (This does not invalidate any of the current works, my purpose is simple, my search hopefully will provide measured proof of the vectors that are irrefutable and not open for discussion.)

    My main focus is the attempt to determine the various vectors, with measured values as opposed to derived values, as I am not an expert I was looking for some assistance or direction to data sets. What is yours?

    Dave Cooke