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Why the continued interest?

Filed under: — rasmus @ 9 October 2009

I believe the idea that galactic cosmic rays (GCR) play a role for the present global warming is unlikely to fade soon, despite a growing number of scientific arguments that normally would falsify a hypothesis and lay it dead (see links here and here). Despite all the arguments against the role of GCR, there was a solicited talk about ‘cosmoclimatology’ at the European Meteorological Society’s (EMS) annual meeting in Toulouse. Henrik Svensmark is further invited by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (NASL) to provide an introduction to their seminar on climate. So why is the GCR-hypothesis still perceived as an interesting explanation?

My impression from the solicited talk, is that the confidence in the GCR hypothesis now rests on two points that were made explicit in the presentation, and that we have not adequately addressed here. So, here they are:

Point I: When I asked Svensmark why he presented a curve describing low cloud-cover from the ISCCP – used for correlation study with GCR (link) – that differed from the curves presented at the ISCCP web site (link), he informed me that he used a corrected version that has been published. Nevertheless, the ‘correction’ of the curve is controversial, and the ISCCP team is clearly not convinced, despite the likelihood of instrumental degradation.

Good practice would then be to present all the curves that cannot be ruled out because of errors. When asked why he didn’t present the other cures too, he said that he only wanted to show the one curve. Not a very convincing answer, and not very reassuring.

Point II involves a ‘remarkable’ correlation, meant to demonstrate a link between high GCR flux and cold conditions. This analysis is based on a comparison between band-pass filtered ice-rafted debris from iceberg drifts (Bond, 2001) and Carbon-14 (a cosmogenic isotope) over the last 12,000 years (e.g. after the most recent ice age).

The relationship between temperature and drifting icebergs, however, is complicated and not so straight forward. Icebergs are formed when chunks of ice break off glaciers and icesheets – a process known as ‘calving’.

On the one hand, icesheets and glaciers grow when the accumulation of precipitation at below freezing temperatures (snow) exceeds the summertime melting. Very low temperatures, tend to be associated with low precipitation, however. One the other hand, iceberg calving does not require very low temperatures (as long as the ice is present), but is favoured by reduced friction at the base of ice caps, resulting in a faster flow towards the sea. Melt water can lubricate the ice sheets and hence affect the ice flow.

Once the icesheets have calved and produced icebergs, they will drift according to the winds and ocean currents. The most influential ocean currents for iceberg drift in the North Atlantic include the East Greenland Current EGC), which follows the east coast of Greenland and flows from northeast to southwest, the West Greenland current (WGC) into the Labrador Sea, and the Labrador current (LC), a coastal current following along the perimeter of the Labrador sea basin in an anti-clockwise fashion.

North Atlantic ocean current systems Many of the cores used to study the ice-rafted debris were from locations away from these currents. It is not clear whether anomalous cold conditions produced more southerly winds and ocean currents. However, many of the core locations are associated with a surface flow from the south in the present climate, so it is possible that the icebergs transported by the EGC, WGC, and LC end up in the North Atlantic current. One explanation is that the icebergs got caught in the warm currents from the south, and melted on their way north, but that does not necessary imply cold conditions in that region, as these warm ocean currents provide a heat transport and the melting of icebergs suggest higher temperatures.

Cold conditions favour the formation of sea-ice, which have very different characteristics to icebergs. Sea-ice forms when the sea surface freezes, and can affect the ocean circulation through their effect on salinity. However, sea-ice does not create debris of rocks and minerals, as the icebergs do when the bottom of the sliding icesheets scrape the rocks.

It is plausible that very cold conditions can produce thick sea-ice that will lock icebergs in place near their sources in the Labrador sea and along the east coast of Greenland, but seasonal variations in the sea-ice may also imply open water in the summer. Nevertheless, very cold conditions may not necessarily favour the production of icebergs, as freezing temperatures will prevent the formation of melt water acting as lubrication and the accumulation of ice is expected to be less due to lower precipitation.

In summary, the ‘remarkable’ correlation does not seem to support the hypothesis that high flux of GCR produces a very cold climate. The question is rather whether the ocean and atmospheric circulation were influenced by the level of solar activity and associated changes in the total solar irradiation (TSI) – without involving GCR. After all, GCR is affected by the level of solar activity through its influence of the inter-planetary magnetic field, and anti-correlated with the sunspots.

When taken in the context of the global warming, there are other problematic issues such as the lack of trend in GCR (here and here), stronger warming during nighttime than daytime, large unknowns regarding the physical mechanisms involved in the growth of ultra-small molecule clusters to much larger cloud condensation nuclei (here and here), and questionable data handling and statistical analysis (here). In addition, it is difficult to statistically distinguish between the apparent response to solar forcing in the observations and GCM which do not take GCRs into account (link to a recent paper by Gavin and myself), implying that GCRs are not needed to explain past global temperature trends.

So what makes the GCR-hypothesis so convincing that warrants a solicited talk at the EMS annual meeting and an invited presentation at the NASL? Is the support based on the attention in media, or does it have a scientific basis?

I want a response from the community still supporting the GCR hypothesis, explaining why they find it convincing after all these misgivings. The spirit of science is about discussing different ideas and challenge unconvincing points of view. So far, I feel that many of these issues have gone unheeded outside the climate research community. Perhaps an improved dialogue between various research communities can help resolving these issues – the counter-arguments and GCR hypothesis represent a paradox that should be sorted out if the science is to progress. Either the supporters of the GCR hypothesis should convincingly explain why these misgivings are unfounded or irrelevant, or the GCR hypothesis should be buried. However, I feel that there is a lack of dialogue and willingness to listen, so I think that progress is not likely to happen regarding a commonly accepted solution on the GCR hypothesis.

Update: According to a recent (October 16) news relsease from the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG), over 1,200 icebergs drifted into the trans-Atlantic shipping lanes in 2009, making the iceberg season in the North Atlantic the eleventh most severe since the tragic loss of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

P.S. So far in 2009, three articles have been published in the arXhive on GCR and clouds (here, here, here). It is possible that such articles are more accessible to communities other than climate research, and hence enhances the awareness about the controversy surrounding the GCR-hypothesis.


506 Responses to “Why the continued interest?”

  1. 151
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tad Boyd,
    WRONG!! Stats isn’t about overcoming GIGO, it’s about separating what isn’t garbage from the garbage. Visit Tamino’s blog. He’s got an excellent post on Kullback-Liebler Information up. You can learn this stuff.

  2. 152
    Chris says:

    re #139

    That’s not right John. “In accord with the scientific method”, all natural factors with a substantial evidence base are taken into account in attributing contributions to climate variations. In accord with the scientific method, natural factors are identified, parameterized in relation to theoretical and empirical understanding of their mechanisms, amplitudes and contributions. That’s how we know with a reasonable amount of detail the effects of greenhouse gas variations, solar effects, volcanic contributions, ocean current effects etc. and their feedbacks on climate parameters (like hemispherically- or globally-averaged temperature).

    The “resistance” by scientists and informed individuals to the notion that an essentially uncharacterised, hypothesised phenomenon (which we know rather categorically can have made no significant contribution to the marked late-20th century and contemporary warming), can replace a vast body of knowledge on known natural and anthropogenic contributions, is due to it’s lack of accord with the scientific method…

    …i.e. we don’t throw out our pre-exisiting knowledge and understanding of causality, and attempt to explain phenomena by “shoehorning” hypotheses for which there isn’t a significant evidence base.

  3. 153

    John Millett #139: that’s what I addressed in #137. The contestation of the then conventional view that CO2 was not an issue for climate change started c. 1820. If you haven’t been paying attention and noticed that the conventional view has shifted as a result of a huge weight of evidence, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

  4. 154
    Naindj says:

    Re Mark 123, BengT 129 and again Mark 131.

    I don’t know why so much confusion or personal attacks.
    The post about the need to hear other points of view was mine, Naindj.
    And I did not take bad the answer of Mark, I understood his point. And I will answer that we also need some other points of view for murders. If not, why so long trials for each murder? But we are digressing…
    I wanted to answer to the topic: “why so much interest?” And I repeat it is because of the consensus. It is an intuitive reaction to try to escape the consensus. The consensus was made too quickly (because of the emergency related to the results of the theory) and the science is too complex. Don’t expect people to accept it in a few years.
    Don’t forget it took long for Darwin or Einstein to be accepted. Einstein had to wait the eclipse of 1919 to be proven right…because relativity (and evolution) is not intuitive.
    John Millet in 139 explains it even better.
    The thing with AGW is that it is counter-intuitive. The intuition is to explain all with the BIG natural forces going out there. Explaining future catastrophes with some ppm of an invisible gas is NOT AT ALL intuitive.
    So people still hang to the intuitive thing, like solar or astronomical variations…

  5. 155
    Hugh Laue says:

    #139John Millet False – “conventional wisdom”, in the scientific sense is now AGW theory, and has been for years. Have you actually read any IPCC reports? Your dogmatic statements are without foundation and as is true of most “skeptics” posting here your statements show you have little, if any, understanding of the scientific process. The fact is that AGW IS sufficiently “settled” to warrant the world (us, not them)taking intense action to limit CO2 emissions, nay, to even sequestrate CO2 to try and get down to at least 350ppm. See http://www.gregcraven.com for the reasons why.
    #140 Tad Boyd This is primarily a science blog and if you want to comment on the science at least demonstrate that you appreciate simple logic and have a basic understanding of what AGW theory is. Otherwise how will you ever know when you’ve found “the truth” that you’re seeking? This post of yours is not at all pretty. If a posting is logically ridiculous then what choice does a moderator have? To not let the post through (poster then doesn’t know why post was rejected or posts elsewhere something to the effect “RC censors alternative views”, which is itself not a logical conclusion to draw), or, to let it through and point out the logical error in the post. Logically, there is no reason for any poster here to receive special treatment is there?
    As has been said before “don’t have such and open mind that your brains fall out”.
    Oh yea, data needs to be interpreted to be meaningful. Garbage in – garbage out. True. So how do you know the clinical trial data records you manage are not garbage? Will you take the medication that was used AND interpreted by others that such data was “true” and the interpretation of the data (that it’s going to work in the way specified) is also “true”?

  6. 156

    Jake #110: there are 2 ways this is possible (in my non-expert opinion; corrections welcome). First, each thermometer may only be accurate to +/-0.1° (C or F, it doesn’t matter for purposes of example) but any variation from some baseline will be reasonably accurate, if that variation is small. If for example, the average temp in a location is 21°C and the average over time drifts up by 0.6°C, that difference will be measurable and accurate, because the +/-0.1°C actual error of the thermometer will not drift significantly over this sort of change. This is one reason why temperature anomalies (differences from a baseline) are used in temperature trends not actual temperatures. Secondly, there is something called the law of large numbers that says in effect that the errors cancel if (a) you have enough measurements and (b) there is no systematic bias. You can test for systematic bias by statistical methods like bootstrapping and jacknifing, where you systematically construct a new sample out of a subset of the existing data that should not be biased if the original data did not contain a bias (because you are leaving some of the original data out using an unbiased method). Sorry if I didn’t explain this totally clearly because I’m not a statistician, but this may give you some idea. Some variants on these techniques were discussed a few years ago RealClimate.

    As for etiquette, count the number of messages that get moderated here. Put your views reasonably even if you are wrong or disagree with the mainstream you generally get polite responses. I marvel at the patience of Gavin et al. who have to read through hundreds of comments, many near-content free repetitions of frequently debunked talking points.

  7. 157
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 139

    “a premature declaration of settled AGW science.”

    There’s lots of science. What part of the AGW hypothesis do you imagine Svensmark’s work challenges? It certainly doesn’t challenge the amount of energy reflected back to Earth by greater concentrations of GHGs. That’s settled and isn’t at issue. At best Svensmark can demonstrate GCRs affect a tiny fraction to the energy budget. And I doubt Svensmark today could say in which direction.

  8. 158
    Mark says:

    “First, each thermometer may only be accurate to +/-0.1° (C or F, it doesn’t matter for purposes of example) but any variation from some baseline will be reasonably accurate, if that variation is small”

    It’s as much that a climate mean from one station is the mean of many, many readings from that station.

    And even if the reading of that measurement has a 1C error, that error is random so cancels out. Binomial counting statistics. 100 readings will reduce the error to 0.1C.

    Jake doesn’t seem to know of this very basic statistical phenomenon.

    Jake, learn a little more and then ask informed questions.

  9. 159
    Hank Roberts says:

    An ethical caution heard for millenia, supported by recent science:
    http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/news/detail.asp?ID=492

    Excerpt follows:
    ______________________

    … engaging in good behaviours … can set up ‘moral credentials’ in people’s minds that give license to selfish or questionable behaviour.

    “This was not done to point the finger …. Our study is part of an ongoing research on moral regulation and licensing that have shown that prior good behaviours ironically can license subsequent morally questionable behaviours….”
    ______________________

    Cautionary.

  10. 160
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    154 Naindj: “The consensus was made too quickly…”

    Not exactly.

    Late in the 1700′s the physicists and astronomers found out that the temperatures observed were widely off the values that were calculated starting with observed earth orbital parameters and sun’s properties. The “Greehouse Effect” was initially a way of explaining this difference, basics of the widely used glass greenhouses being already understood. The magnitude of this atmospheric “greenhouse effect” is about 33 degC , so it was readily observable.

    Later on, laboratory experimentation revealed the effects of the atmospheric gases on transmission of electromagnetic energy. Some gaseous components passed easily both visible and heat radiation, while others absorbed the heat radiation. Based on these findings, in 1896 Arrhenius calculated theoretically the impacts for the first time, making also a first estimate on temperature increase if carbon dioxide amounts were doubled because of increasing burning of coal. He was able to compare his theoretical calculations against some 600 measured temperature time series available at the time.

    Arrhenius’ theory was challenged, of course, notably by the famous physicist Astrom. Despite his outstanding prestige, Astrom’s experiments were found wanting in design and execution. The whole issue was, however, rather academic, mainly seen in the context of scientific understanding of the ice ages. Slowly by the 1960′s a consensus emerged concerning the importance and nature of the impacts of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Initially this consensus was the result of a quite normal scientific process, at a time when the dire impacts of warming were not yet an issue. The consensus is still alive and well.

    If you refer to the 1970′s “ice age scare”, it is all bogus. Just sloppy reporting by the press, nothing in the scientific publications.

    So, doubling the carbon dioxide content increases the “greenhouse effect” from a natural background value of 33 degC to a value of 35 degC or more. The warming is just a strengthening of a key atmospheric process that has existed all along.

    Details can be found in the “Start here” box on every Real-Climate page …

  11. 161

    Phillip, your main point is good, but let me expound a bit on details. If you’re talking about climate science in the 1820′s, you’re talking first and foremost about Fourier, who contributed the first Terrestrial energy budget and the conceptual framework (and mathematical tools) for the greenhouse effect. Here are links for a “life & times” piece and an English version of his paper, respectively:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Science-Of-Global-Warming-In-The-Age-Of-Napoleon
    http://wiki.nsdl.org/index.php/PALE:ClassicArticles/GlobalWarming/Article1

    The CO2 piece comes in later, with Tyndall’s investigations beginning in the late 1850s. See:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Global-Warming-Science-In-The-Age-Of-Queen-Victoria
    http://wiki.nsdl.org/index.php/PALE:ClassicArticles/GlobalWarming/Article3

    The notions of “atom” and “molecule” were still not completely defined at the time, as this excerpt from the minutes of the Karlsruhe Congress makes clear:

    “The chairman suggests that the discussion begin with the notions of molecule and atom, and he asks Mr. Kekulé and Mr. Cannizzaro, whose studies have especially encompassed this issue, to take the floor.

    “Mr. Kekulé emphasizes the need to distinguish between the molecule and atom, and, in principle at least, the physical molecule and the chemical molecule.

    “Mr. Cannizzaro is unable to conceive of the notion of the chemical molecule. For him there are only physical molecules, and the Ampère-Avogadro law is the basis for considerations relating to the chemical molecule. The latter is nothing other than the gaseous molecule.

    “Mr. Kekulé thinks, on the contrary, that the chemical facts must serve as the basis for the definition and determination of the (chemical) molecule and that physical considerations should only be invoked as a check.

    “Mr. Strecker points out that in certain cases the atom and molecule are identical, as in the case of ethylene. . .”

  12. 162
    Chris Colose says:

    # 154

    “AGW” (or precisely, the idea of increasing GHG’s leading to higher temperatures) is intuitive to me. Perhaps I’m just insane.

  13. 163
    Chris G says:

    Like other posters here, I believe there is a psychological need for people to believe in something other than AGW.

    Most of us drive cars to work and most of us heat and cool our houses to a comfortable temperature.

    If AGW is correct, there is the implication that our consumption of the things that require fossil fuels will degrade the ability of the earth to sustain life, human and otherwise. I’m talking about a degradation here, not a complete, catastrophic collapse; so, don’t try to paint me into a corner as an extreme doomsayer.

    The earth seems to be straining to sustain the human population as it is. Accepting that AGW is largely correct means that we have to accept that there is a causal relationship between things that make us comfortable, and somewhere, at sometime, someone dying. That is a very hard thing to accept.

    BTW, regaring the Jake, et al, discussion on the accuracy of thermometers, I also have 20+ years of computer programming experience; I’m very familiar with GIGO. I also have a masters in psychology and lots of hours of graduate level statistics. Two thoughts: a) at the point where the measuring device meets the media, it’s analog, unless you want to get down to the quantum level. A digital readout is just that, a digital readout; it doesn’t really affect the measurement. b) Statistics can be used to filter out noise quite well. To suppose that the rise in temp that we are seeing is a result of thermometer inaccuracy is to suppose that, over the last 150 years, there has been a calibration drift downward over the whole of the population of thermometers that have been used.

  14. 164

    “The thing with AGW is that it is counter-intuitive.”

    In fact if you reason it through AGW isn’t counter-intuitive. If there were no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere the earth’s average temperature would be a cold -19C or 0 F. The actual average temperature is a much more moderate 15C or 59 F due to the natural greenhouse effect for the GHGs in the atmosphere prior to the industrial revolution in the 1750s.
    Since then human activity, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels has added GHGs to the atmosphere, increasing the natural greenhouse effect, and causing an upset in earth’s energy balance. This results in climate forcing that reflects the imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation, and results in an increase in earth’s average temperature to eventualy return to an energy balance.

  15. 165
    Rod B says:

    Pekka Kostamo (160), It really little affects your argument, and I never have understood why you (guys) deny the number of scientists and scientific publications (Science for one) that supported (more or less) the “global cooling” of the 70s. It knocks a hole in your otherwise pretty good review of the history in your post. Where would the general press get the info for their “sloppy” reporting??

    [Response: The same place the sloppy reporters get it from now - putting together out-of-context misrepresentations and going for the outlier members of the community rather than the mainstream. William et al have looked and looked for evidence in the literature that there was some consensus on 'imminent ice ages' in the community and there just wasn't. Please move on. - gavin]

  16. 166
    Mark says:

    “Don’t forget it took long for Darwin or Einstein to be accepted”

    Uh Urrrr.

    Darwin is often trotted out, I’m surprised you didn’t also pull Gallileo out too.

    Here’s an answer to your apparent misapprehension on how maverick they were:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/04/sometimes_on_reading_comments.html#P78348561

    Thought there’s another reason why these fellows ideas were accepted:

    THEY EXPLAINED THINGS BETTER.

    Did you hear that?

    Einstein’s case is a classic one illustrating this.

    Take the particulate nature of light that was the progenitor of the quantum physics world.

    Google for “Ultraviolet Catastrophe”. That is what the quantum-less photon-as-a-wave world led to: something that wouldn’t work.

    Now, there were very likely people explaining that this was because Science was wrong and that The Invisible Light Stealer was taking away the energy at UV levels (they hurt his eyes, so he stopped them). Or something along those lines.

    That explanation didn’t win, though.

    a) it didn’t explain anything

    b) it added a new thing that needed explaining

    But the quantum nature of light explained how the UV catastrophe was solved, explained the photoelectric effect and explained many other issues.

    Likewise, Einstein’s special and general relativity explained both the current science and didn’t have the problems that the current science had. In the case of special relativity, there was the problem that if light speed was added to the speed of the object, then you would see a different collision between two moving objects if one moved transverse to your sight and the other one along your line of sight. In the case of general relativity, it dealt with the problem of non-inertial frames and as a result explained Mercury’s orbit better than Newtonian gravity.

    Now take a look at the IPCC reports and the science there.

    There’s no “UV catastrophe” there, is there.

    The opposing views are multitudinous and do not explain the known science.

    Multitudinous is a problem because they can’t all be right.

    And not explaining the known science and the current knowledge is a problem because if it can’t explain NOW, it’s worse than the AGW science, isn’t it?

    “It’s the Sun!!!” doesn’t explain why the sun getting hotter is not being increased in effect by CO2. We know CO2 retains IR radiation.

    “It’s GCR’s!!!” doesnt explain why GCRs are negating CO2′s effect.

    “There’s NO WARMING!!!” doesn’t explain why the records say there is and doesn’t explain why increased CO2 isn’t having its effect that we know it can have.

    And so on.

    And when you mine down and see if the alternative points of view explain what we DO know better and reject the ones that fail this test, you’re not left with any points to take on in place of the AGW science the IPCC reports.

    And so despite being REASONABLY denied wide acceptance, those that want to explain the known universe as NOT having an AGW warming world and that warming not meaning “cut out CO2 production to the fullest extent NOW” then bemoan being silenced.

    They complain that “all views need to be heard” because they want any cocamamie story to be allowed because their hypothesis hasn’t worked when approached scientifically, so they have to approach those who do not know the science. By talking fast to those who have no training or time to know better, they want their ideas peddled.

    Another group of people trying their “science” did the same thing. And their name is not one that is respected:

    Snake-oil salesmen.

    They too sold not to the medical practitioners who knew a duffer when sold it, but to the ordinary joe. That the ordinary joe died was irrelevant: he had made his money and left before the consequences were visible and WELL before the payback could be demanded.

    A few snake-oil salesmen set up their own sanitorium to help sell more snake oil. A few people bought into the idea of this miracle cure and were not skeptical of any future products peddled.

    Shops sell “healing crystals” and there ARE people out there who swear by them. They don’t know a placebo can be just as effective as a genuine cure.

    So what alternative ideas out there explain the world we KNOW to exist better than the AGW science?

    If you find any, THEN they may be considered, but why should an idea that fails to explain now be treated seriously as a replacement for something that does?

  17. 167
    Mark says:

    Sorry, picked up the wrong url:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/04/sometimes_on_reading_comments.html#P78813041

    We have three names from the first post.

    Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin

    Just thought I’d point out why this is a load of bull.

    Copernicus:

    The Copernican Revolution refers to the paradigm shift away from the Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the Universe, towards the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the Solar System.

    But the Ptolemaic revolution overthrew the consensus of aristothenes view of a solar centric system.

    Galileo: Postulated a heliocentric system. Oh, hang on, that’s redundant. See what copernicus did…

    Darwin: Gould had already put forward many papers explaining that galapagos finches were different species, not merely varieties (as are dogs, who can intebreed, the definition of same species).

    And Alfred Wallace would have made the prime discovery first except he knew that Darwin had something to write and hadn’t gotten what he wanted to print ready yet. So told Darwin about his paper, said that he’d wait a little bit to let Darwin get the first paper (as a gentleman friend) and so Darwin cut the content of his original intended paper to produce the one that got him the fame.

    These people were not unique. They were ready for their time.

    Mayans knew that the earth was round. They knew that the pole precessed every 26,000 years. They knew the moon was round.

    Thousands of years ago.

    They knew.

    But to those who know only what you get taught in junior school, they think that all scientists thought the earth was flat.

  18. 168

    #165 Rod Black

    I’m sorry, but I have to ask how old you are. If I were to judge by your posts I would actually guess maybe 10 to 13.

    If you are still stuck on global cooling then I have to imagine that you have no place in this blog at all. You obviously don’t do even the simplest reviews and assessments of long debunked arguments

    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/nas-1975.html

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-cooling

    I actually have a copy of the 1975 report. I can say with confidence in now way did it predict cooling. It was a review of what science understood then, which was there were natural cycles and it looks like we might be interrupting that cycle and it looks like we may be causing warming.

    “number of scientists”? Stop reading the comics. There was no consensus on cooling at all. It was a media driven catchy headline sell more magazines thing. That is all.

    Truly, get over it.

  19. 169
    TrueSceptic says:

    154 Naindj,

    I’d like to know what you think happened in the case of Einstein, specifically with the example you cite. How long do you think that was?

  20. 170
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Cooling … 1970s

    Rassool and Schneider, writing just when the Clean Air Act first began to limit what the coal plants were putting into the air, discussed what a continuing _increase_ in aerosols could do to temperature. It didn’t happen, fortunately.

    The EPA makes similar points, starting from more recent baselines, e.g. in
    http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/conference/ei14/session10/strum.pdf

    “… stationary source programs under section 112 of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and mobile source programs which reduce hydrocarbon and particulate matter emissions, as well as toxic emission performance standards for reformulated gasoline, have contributed to and are expected to continue to contribute to large declines in air toxics emissions, in spite of economic and population growth.

    … In Figure 1, we also include, for 2010 and 2020, a scenario “without Clean Air Act” in which no reductions in emissions as a result of control programs are included…. without the air toxics programs implemented from 1990 to the early 2000’s, total air toxics emissions would have increased by 50% from 1990 to 2020 ….”

  21. 171
    Ray Ladbury says:

    naindj,
    Uh, excuse me, but you are WAY, WAY far off in your assessment of the readiness of the scientific community to accept new ideas. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was not accepted untel long after he developed it because he did not publish it until long after he developed it. It’s acceptance among biologists was actually pretty rapid–it was just too powerful a theory to reject. Einstein’s Special Relativity was accepted to immediate acclaim. Planck even bypassed the usual review channels to publish it more quickly. General Relativity gained acceptance after the 1919 eclipse precisely because that was the first time its predictions could be tested against Newtonian Gravitation. Where do people get this crap?!?

  22. 172
    spilgard says:

    Re 165
    Perhaps you should read this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/

    Among other things, you can learn what Science magazine really said about future cooling (hint: timescales on the order of 20,000 years and ignoring effects of anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gasses).

  23. 173
    Patrick 027 says:

    I think Eratosthenes (ancient Greek) also figured out the Earth was round roughly a half a millenium BC, based on shadow lengths at different places.

  24. 174
    dhogaza says:

    Einstein’s Special Relativity was accepted to immediate acclaim. Planck even bypassed the usual review channels to publish it more quickly.

    And the denialsphere, of course, warps this into “Einstein’s work wasn’t peer-reviewed, so why should McI etc publish?”

    It’s pretty amazing how misunderstood poor einstein’s history is.

  25. 175
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Oh for the love of “Bob“:

    Scientists Return Fire at Climate Skeptics in ‘Destroyed Data’ Dispute

    Refuting CEI’s claims of data-destruction, Jones said, “We haven’t destroyed anything. The data is still there — you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center.” …

    Still, CEI’s general counsel Sam Kazman remains skeptical of the IPCC’s conclusions. The fact that the report relies on several data sets “doesn’t really answer the issue,” he said.

  26. 176
    john byatt says:

    god i feel for you guys , having to refute the same old crap over and over
    well one thing you have gained is that i am going to start replying to the
    denier rubbish being published in our local regional newspaper { letters to the editor} thanks

  27. 177
    Patrick 027 says:

    By the way, why doesn’t this link take me to the “FAQ on climate models”?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/faq-on-climate-models/

    Where is “FAQ on climate models”?

  28. 178
    WIlton Roberts says:

    Some time ago, this comment was made:
    “1) One could argue your statement is not “conclusively supported by the paleo-data” — one need only argue that C02 levels are a lagging result (rather than leading indicator) of temp change, and your 20,000 year ago glacial maximum as GHG evidence becomes tenuous at best. In fact some studies purport such a lag in CO2 levels, some by well over a century.” One of the oft repeated skeptics complaints is that since CO2 has often lagged behind global warming, how can it be a cause? I have been searching for a definitive answer to that question.

    [Response: Just use the "search" box on our website and enter the terms "CO2" and "lag". Or just click here - mike]

  29. 179
    Hank Roberts says:

    Patrick 027, that link works fine for me.
    The graphic at the top is the same as for other RC pages.
    Look below that — Do you see a foreign language?
    If so click the little British-type flag.
    It becomes: FAQ on climate models — group @ 3 November 2008

  30. 180
    Jake says:

    CM – thanks for the link to that paper, looks very interesting.
    Mark #158 – [edit] FYI, I have a Masters degree in EnvSci and completed several postgrad stats papers. [edit] Even if the same thermometer was measured everyday for 1000 days this does not meet the requirements of statistical repeatability and is subject to several confounding factors.
    http://www.statistics.com/resources/glossary/r/repeatbty.php

  31. 181
    Rod B says:

    Gavin (165), I said nothing about a consensus. Simply that there were some scientists and some scientific published papers, which Pekka (and others) said there were none, that supported global cooling in the 70s.

  32. 182
    Rod B says:

    John PR (168), therein lies your (all’s) problem. First read my response to Gavin about your probably purposefully misconstruing my comment. And where did you dream that I was stuck on global cooling? Secondly if you shout to the heavens that there was no credible scientist and no peer reviewed scientific papers supporting global cooling in the 70s (which was my ONLY point, btw), people could hear your protestations better if you removed your head from your butt. Thirdly if you think there was no rationale for those thoughts, you either have never looked at a global temperature graph from 1940-1975, or just refuse to acknowledge it with the blind religious fervor of a zealot — or like the Bible says the faith of a child (probably around 10-13…). The fact that you give this any more than a passing interest or are highly threatened by the reality is telling.

  33. 183
    Steve Fish says:

    Rod B — 14 October 2009 @ 8:59 PM, ~#181):

    OK. What did the studies in the 1970′s, that you are referring to, actually say about impending global cooling. Steve

    [Response: Look up Peterson, Connolley and Fleck (2008) for a full review. - gavin]

  34. 184
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, I’d ask why you believe that, but it’d be pointless, wouldn’t it?

    You’d point to something like this

    http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf
    or this
    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/papers-on-climate-predictions-of-1970s/
    or this
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Rs53-MPsJaI/RzWFDD34ohI/AAAAAAAADtU/N1WjwbboAdU/s400/1aconan2.bmp

    and you’d say what you believe is there, even if no one else can see it.

    Closest you can get are what-if: if aerosols — sulfate emissions — had increased, as they would have without the Clean Air Act controls.

  35. 185
    Chris Colose says:

    Wilton (178)

    What do you require an explanation for? It seems intuitive that one would expect a change in atmospheric chemistry if the underlying biogeochemical and climatic boundary conditions change at the surface. In fact, it would be remarkable if you could change the temperature, salinity, and circulation and upwelling structure of the oceans (e.g., by inducing a southern shift in the Westerlies), and change the biosphere, WITHOUT changing atmospheric CO2 concentration (which is dependent on all those things).

    Just to reverse the situation around, what would the implications be if atmospheric CO2 could change ~100 ppm on the order of centuries without anything to cause it? And especially if that pattern was essentially cyclical? In other words, do you really expect changes in CO2 to continuously act as a forcing for climate change in the way it is today?

  36. 186
    Chris Colose says:

    Rod, et al.

    What does it mean if the mainstream group of scientists in the 1970′s were or were not wrong?

  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jake, do you have a subscription to Science or a library where you can read about how the weather station system handles these measurements?

    It might reassure you to find you’re not the first person to wonder.

    In fact the people who set up the weather stations did serious thinking and publishing on how to get the numbers out of the data. They’ve been publishing their work for a long time, and you could study it.

    These might be useful just for a start:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/304/5672/827
    http://sth.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/33/5/631

  38. 188
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Hank Roberts – Thank You !

  39. 189
    Ilajd says:

    Why place “invited” in italics in the introduction? Does it seem strange to you for organisers to ask an expert to provide some information on GCR? Or are you saying Svensmark is not an expert on GCR?

  40. 190
    Tad Boyd says:

    151 Ray Ladbury – Thank you, I’d gotten the idea that data was being corrected and filled in where observations could not be made, using statistical analysis, and not just being separated out as you’ve stated.

    142 Mark – I clearly don’t have the ability to deny AGW and I understand that my post (141) is not useful to the scientific discussion and I will keep my attitude in check.

    155 Hugh Laue – Your time and the time of the rest of those at RealClimate is valuable. I apologize for cluttering up the thread.

    163 Chris G – I was referring more to the spirit of Jakes post. I don’t really have a concern about thermometers being off + or – .1 degrees. I didn’t make that clear which was my mistake (one of my mistakes). The link I pasted into my post (141) was an example of documents I found describing the recording of temperature observations in the early part of the temperature record.

    http://climate.umn.edu/pdf/Fisk_thesis.pdf

    It describes issues with site location and positioning issues as well as instrumentation issues and issues with the staff that made the observations and records. An interesting thing I saw in the log entries was that they were rounded to the nearest full degree. At some point, observations started being recorded with more significant digits (to the tenth or hundredth of a degree). This is what I felt was the spirit of Jake’s post and why I latched on to it. 115 Hugh Laue – my attempt at basic logic may still be faulty but hopefully this makes it clearer why I struggle with a conclusion measured in tenths of a degree given the challenges shown in the document I linked to and others like it that I found. It may have been better if I’d just asked a question like when were observations first recorded in tenths of a degree. Putting out there that I have 20 years experience in software development was stupid. It does not give me any credentials in this discussion. I have my 2 year associates degree. I’d always worked multiple jobs (sometimes up to 3 at a time) and chipped away at my associates until I’d earned it. It took me 8 years. I have no special talents or credentials such as you do. I am definitely a commoner and don’t want to suggest otherwise.

    144 CM – I will go to the link you provided. Perhaps it will help me to see how the challenges mentioned above are overcome and conclusions such as .6 degrees of increase in global temperature can be confidently drawn.

    Thanks all for your replies. I hope I didn’t miss anyone. I don’t want to add to useless noise anymore and will go back to just reading the interesting articles posted here.

    Tad

  41. 191
    Tom Dayton says:

    Sorry, Jake, but I can’t understand what you meant in your comment #180. I suggest that before trying again, you first read this short expansion of what some other folks’ replies have been trying to convey to you, about accuracy being improved by large samples–Google this:

    “statistics hacks” Fey “improving accuracy”

    Look for Hack #5, the section “Improving Accuracy.”

  42. 192
    Tom Dayton says:

    Jake, here is a concrete example that might help your intuition: Measure your weight on a bathroom scale whose display rounds to the nearest pound. That is, the display does not show a decimal point nor any fractions of pounds, only whole pounds. Measure yourself 49 times in a row (just a few seconds apart). Average those 49 values. Let’s suppose the resulting average is 180.3 pounds. That value is a better estimate of your true weight than either 180 or 181 are.

  43. 193
    Laurie Dougherty says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments, but has it occurred to anyone else that the interest in this has recurred at this particular time because these are dangerous times politically? Dangerous for the climate change deniers because there is real movement to address climate change on the part of the Obama administration and the US Congress, Copenhagen fast approaches; and dangerous for the rest of us because the deniers may succeed in thwarting or seriously compromising these efforts. Anything the deniers can do to confuse the issues abets their cause.

  44. 194
    Mark says:

    “What does it mean if the mainstream group of scientists in the 1970’s were or were not wrong?”

    I read this and thought “Oh, no, is bob trying the old “We thought it was an ice age in the 70′s” thing.

    Then again when he says “Secondly if you shout to the heavens … people could hear your protestations better if you removed your head from your butt” it makes a kind of sense. Someone who things that putting your head DOWN is “shouting to the heavens” has all sorts of brain-issues going on.

    Rod, there WERE credible scientists. There were one or two papers in the journals about it. But why not actually READ them, instead of regurgitating what your Lord And Master Anthony Watts says on it. You may then find that the papers themselves say that the sulfates were *masking* the warming from CO2 increases and that more study was needed to see if this would continue or be overwhelmed.

    But I suppose if it can’t be made to make out AGW science is wrong, you can’t read it, can you.

  45. 195
    Mark says:

    “Even if the same thermometer was measured everyday for 1000 days this does not meet the requirements of statistical repeatability and is subject to several confounding factors.”

    Jake, Grima has a PhD and have a look at some of his “work” on deltoid.

    Nassif has a bilogy degree and look at some of his “work” on deltoid.

    So having a PhD doesn’t mean you’re not a fool. There are plenty of examples of such. Show you’re not a fool by not using foolish arguments, not by showing off your degree.

    So with that out the way, the comment quoted.

    Who said anything about repeatability?

    The average month of june for climate work is 30 years of 30 days temperatures readings. Then averaged.

    If the readings have a reading error of 1C then the error in determining the ACTUAL reading is 1/sqrt(900) or 1/30 of a degree C.

    This has nothing to do with repeatability. Would you like your straw back?

    If you have some new whacky theory that says otherwise, please present it.

  46. 196
    Mark says:

    “Einstein’s Special Relativity was accepted to immediate acclaim. Planck even bypassed the usual review channels to publish it more quickly.”

    Einstein had no way of working out the mathematics correctly.

    Lorentz for example helped him out immensely on it for special relativity. He had even more help on the tensor work required to formalize the general relativity.

    And, get this, IT EXPLAINED THINGS BETTER.

    You still haven’t managed to find an denialist talking point that explains the current system better than AGW science as collected in the IPCC reports do.

  47. 197
    SteveF says:

    r.e. leads and lags, there’s an in press QSR paper on this subject from Andrey Ganopolski:

    “On the nature of lead–lag relationships during glacial–interglacial climate transitions”

    hope this link works (if not, go to the in press section at QSR, 12th October):

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VBC-4XF8MND-2&_user=10&_coverDate=10%2F12%2F2009&_rdoc=3&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info%28%23toc%235923%239999%23999999999%2399999%23FLA%23display%23Articles%29&_cdi=5923&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=72&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=3c0ad2a8be4bf24b83a0fea10585f35e

  48. 198
    Mark says:

    Didn’t notice it was you, Ray, so I assume that that quote was ill thought out.

    The point still stands. Can ANYONE get any denialist theory about climate that explains the current climate better than the IPCC one?

  49. 199
    Mark says:

    “I’m talking about a degradation here, not a complete, catastrophic collapse; so, don’t try to paint me into a corner as an extreme doomsayer.”

    Mind you, why the fear of being a doomsayer?

    When you go to the doctor and he finds you have cancer and will likely die in a year, would you want him to give you the worst-case scenario or say “well, you could be fine for decades”?

    Don’t let the denialists scare you away from telling the truth because you’re afraid they’ll label you an “alarmist”. They’ll do that anyway, if they don’t have anything else to say to discard your points.

  50. 200
    CM says:

    Patrick (#173), Eratosthenes (3rd century BC) *assumed* the sphericity of the Earth, his accomplishment (one of them) was measuring its *circumference* by the shadows cast in Alexandria and Aswan. The details are murky, but — on a controversial interpretation — he just may have got the right answer to within 1% by a single noon-time observation. Which would kind of put in perspective the questions raised here about 1860s temperature readings… :)


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