RealClimate logo

Technical Note: Sorry for the recent unanticipated down-time, we had to perform some necessary updates. Please let us know if you have any problems.

Unforced variations

Filed under: — group @ 20 December 2009

Open thread for various climate science-related discussions. Suggestions for potential future posts are welcome.

(Continued here).

1,159 Responses to “Unforced variations”

  1. 101
    Chuck Kutscher says:

    Regarding potential future topics, I would also like to see a discussion of the pros, cons, and potential of biochar, which is getting a lot of attention these days. There have been interesting exchanges in Science between biochar proponent Johannes Lehmann and David Wardle. Hansen, et al. mentioned it in their Targets paper, which prompted George Monbiot to attack biochar on his blog ( and Kharecha and Hansen responded ( Molina, et al. advocated it in their recent PNAS paper on reducing abrupt climate change risk.

    Of course, biochar faces many of the same questions as biofuels in terms of impact on land use. (The British group Biofuelwatch has been actively attacking biofuels in general and biochar in particular.) However, the intriguing thing about biomass is that it is the one renewable energy source that can be utilized in such a way that it is carbon-negative, instead of just carbon-neutral, and we need ways to actually remove atmospheric CO2 to get below 350 ppm this century. One thing I wonder is how integrated gasification-combined cycle (IGCC) electric power plants fueled with biomass (which can displace baseload coal) coupled with carbon capture and storage would compare to pyrolysis to produce biochar, which directly yields carbon that can be sequestered (and may well benefit the soil) but produces less energy (and thus displaces less coal) per kilogram of biomass.

  2. 102
    Emanuele Lombardi says:

    Public opinion polls are not the place to debate the veracity of global warming science. The debate over the largest tax increase in history and the direct inflated costs of energy of all kinds resulting from legislation currently in the senate. For those of us that have significant doubts about the validity of the proposed actions that will occur, the public debate is the correct forum.

    Emanue Lombardi

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    Lessons learned, as suggested by professionals in public health:
    For example:
    (free registration required)

    Summary: which begins:

    “A newly-published article in The Lancet (available with free registration) summarizes the many similarities between tobacco control and climate policy, and how the lessons learned from tobacco control can be applied to the way countries approach climate policy….”

    Reprint permission:
    Title: Climate policy: lessons from tobacco control
    Author: Maria Nilsson, Robert Beaglehole, Rainer Sauerborn
    Publication: The Lancet
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Date: 12 December 2009-18 December 2009, Copyright © 2009, Elsevier

  4. 104
    Ron Taylor says:

    Gavin (et al), it is frustrating, but you have to keep hammering the truth home as best you can, even if it is being distorted and misrepresented. There will come a point when the pendulum begins to swing in the direction of truth as a result of what is observed in the real world. At that point it will be important to have a continuum of narrative that is smoothly congruent with the reality of climate change. Otherwise, it will just seem that you are jumping on a bandwagon. This will be important, not only for climate science, but for public acceptance of science in general.

  5. 105
    MalcolmT says:

    As a non-scientist following the debate as best I can, I’d like to add my votes for the topic suggestions above:
    3 (peak oil)
    16 (nuclear)
    49 (validated predictions)

    Re 22 (countering media denialism): A couple of years ago Rupert Murdoch publicly said we would have to do something about AGW and committed his media empire to becoming carbon neutral. Is it too much to ask him to say that again, loudly and clearly, to all his senior journalistic staff?


  6. 106
    MarkB says:

    I kind of like the topics of posts John at SkepticalScience has been doing lately (the last several months). Anything that can be added to these posts would be good.

    At the top of my holiday wish-list…

    As the decade comes to a close, it would be nice to have a summary post of the key advances in climate science over the last decade or so and the key challenges that remain. A summary with links to details would be good.

    It wasn’t more than a decade ago contrarians were claiming differences in surface/satellite records debunked global warming and that appears to be one issue mostly resolved. While climate scientists might be very familiar with this, I’m not sure it’s something the casual reader is aware of. I still see references to Spencer’s 1997 NASA article claiming it was cooling since 1979.

  7. 107
    john byatt says:

    the denialists only see themselves in conflict with the climatologists,
    the actual number of the science fields that they are contrary to must be enormous, any list ?

  8. 108
    jyyh says:

    john byatt, no the denialists don’t see themselves in conflict with climatologists, they are denying science. The actual number of science fields they are in denial is large, but as one denialist brings up only one topic at a time the comprehensive list of their inaccuracies/misrepresentations/falsehoods/utter lies about science would need to include references what was said and when and by whom.

  9. 109
    Jiminmpls says:

    I’d like to see three permanent and ongoing discussion forums on

    1) The science (understanding the past, prediction the future)
    2) The effects
    3) Mitigation strategies

    I know this is a blog and not a discussion forum, but I don’t know of any other site with such a group of experts. If there is already such a forum, please let me know.

  10. 110

    #87 Chuck Kutscher

    Yup. The way I see it they are just trying to buy time to line thier pockets as long as possible.

    I call it the McKi ‘Trick’

  11. 111
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Just seen an interesting article on ninemsn/world news about two recent studies by Chinese and US scientists studying the air concentrations and temp of the Pliocene era 3-5Mya. It shows using ocean sediment data that around that time the temp was 2-3C hotter than today and yet the CO2 level was the same or similar than it is today. They also say that the time difference between temp and CO2 was extremely close. What they project is that even if CO2 concentrations were maintained at 385ppm as they are at present we have still locked in a 2-3C further temp increase. If we allow CO2 to plateau @ 450-500ppm as the world powers that be, kicking and screaming slowly convert to renewables which is most likely the scenario we will follow anyway we can expect a much higer figure than that…Catastophic in it’s truest sense!

  12. 112
    Ron R. says:

    Decentralized energy to the rescue. Why not use that energy which falls freely around each of us everyday?

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2009) — New scientific discoveries are moving society toward the era of “personalized solar energy,” in which the focus of electricity production shifts from huge central generating stations to individuals in their own homes and communities.

    Journal article

  13. 113
    James Killen says:

    matt, don’t shoot the messenger! Richard simply pointed out a worrying trend as evidenced by a recent poll. Nothing in what he wrote justifies the conclusions that he “holds opinions based on feelings” or even that he “feel[s] that the climate scientists are wrong.”

    There really is no need presumptively to treat people as enemies. And the trend Richard points to, whether it has been influenced by the CRU crack or not, is worrying.

  14. 114
    David Wright says:

    I have no argument with scientists who study climate or evolution.
    My argument is with social engineers who think that they can command and control either one.

  15. 115
    Ron R. says:

    john byatt #106 said: the denialists only see themselves in conflict with the climatologists,
    the actual number of the science fields that they are contrary to must be enormous, any list?

    They tend to work for rightwing “think tanks” that consistantly take the opposing position on any issue that might adversely impact on Big Business and industry. Thus these groups have fought the regulating of proven hazardous chemicals, they were against the Montreal Protocol, Support Big Tobacco etc. They really should put out a shingle “Liars-4-Hire“.

    Here is some documentation that used to appear on Wikipedia’s Global Warming Controversy page but which was fought vigourously by the denialists calling it an ad hominem attack. They finally succeeded in having it removed from the article. What it really amounted to is that they did not want people to know their other dubious achievements.

    So I would like to see a post on the other issues the skeptics have opposed. Maybe RC has already done one.

  16. 116
    Edward Greisch says:

    16 Jaime Frontero: If you wish to understand the issue, please read the following 2 books:
    “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 This is a very easy to read and understand book. Gwyneth Cravens is a former antinuclear activist who took the time to find out the truth.
    “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy” by Comby. Available only from
    and the price is high. It is available in many languages, including English. Review of this book by the American Health Physics Society

    And see the following web sites: [This is a company that will manufacture 4000 nuclear reactors. Installation time will be very short.]
    I an a retired federal employee with no income other than my federal retirement.
    Note that there are many books and web sites by coal industry fronts that tell you lies.

  17. 117
    Edward Greisch says:

    18 José M. Sousa See “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas and

  18. 118
    John Mashey says:

    1) I’d be pleased to see a little more frequent (if via guests, perhaps) discussions of biological indicators. I’ve had a number of discussions where someone has wanted to argue about UHI, bad stations, etc, etc … and I just start going down the list of biological indicators, noting that bark beetles don’t read thermometers, don’t generally live near cities, and are thriving further poleward, including chewing through B.C. into Alberta, etc. etc, etc. Some people are convinced easier by that sort of evidence.

    2) Katharine Hayhoe pointed me at Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, from U.S. Global Change Research Program. I haven’t had a chance to read it in detail yet, but a quick skim made me think it was a really nice document for a general audience, *especially* because they devoted 40+ pages to region-by-region impacts. I think a lot of people relate better to regional specifics than just “2C, 3C, 4C”. Anyway, I’d be interested in comments on the document, perhaps to discuss some in more detail than would have been appropriate there.

  19. 119
    dhogaza says:

    Anyway, to the extent that it does still freeze anywhere and conditions are correct for precipitation, copious snowfall is entirely consistent with warming. More warming, more evaporation, more precipitation.

    There’s a reason nor’easters are called nor’easters. They start south and move north with the moisture they pick up, and dump it as snow when they get far enough north.

    It doesn’t have to be that cold to snow … actually it doesn’t snow if it’s too cold.

  20. 120
    Daniel J. Andrews says:

    So I would like to see a post on the other issues the skeptics have opposed. Maybe RC has already done one.

    Ron R @115. Google Naomi Oreskes and American Denial of Global Warming. If I remember correctly, I think she covered some of this in her talk–the SDI, acid rain, tobacco smoke, 2nd hand smoke, ozone and CFCs with the ‘skeptics’ fighting against the consensus science each time–but its been a while since I watched it.

    You can link to it from This blog also follows the spin and money trail, and a search there might bring up some more connections. They have a database with the names of prominent denialists and their involvement in other dubious projects (e.g. see S. Fred Singer’s bio). That will also give you many of the answers you are looking for.

    Anyway, hope that helps.

  21. 121
    Jim B says:

    @93 – Ray, I was merely responding to a particular request which was rather to be about banal generalities. I’m sorry you misunderstood that my intent was not to argue in detail with you because “someone out there on the internet is wrong”. I have not the time nor energy to engage someone like you questioning my honesty. Any casual reader can confirm my assertions about strong consensus for weak and/or vague claims and weak consensus on strong claims. All they have to do, really, is read many of those statements carefully.

    To simply reply to the one point about model reliability — this is obviously a large and complex issue — Levenson’s praise of “about how warm and about how fast” truly underscore simply the low standards of accuracy in the field. The “abouts” are only barely beyond statistical errors with relatively low p-values. Maturity in my mind and I expect the minds of most in science is more about precision — be it in p-values, standard errors/deviations or what have you — than how many decades or centuries a topic is under discussion. Maturity is not needing to rely on “balance of the evidence” style arguments because you have firmer ground. Yes, each individual researcher in his area thinks that unnecessary, but most compilers and compendiumizers of this work broadly seem to feel the need to make such arguments.

    Are the broad reviewers really savvy about the implicit Bonferroni multiple hypothesis type problem they have as they amass their balance of the evidence style conclusions often in environments with known heavy tails? I hope so, but wouldn’t it seem like a more “mature” field if that didn’t seem so critical to make a firm conclusions? Obviously, there is a spectrum of maturity. No scientist in any area would deny this. Indeed, the AR4 has plenty of sections about this or that being newer or rougher. My goodness. There is a multi-field comparison standard related to reasonably normalized error sizes compared to effect sizes.

    As a casual observation, your skepticism of my honesty and appeal to emotion and insulting language rather makes you seem to me in the group as bad as any of the deniers. The “us vs them” embattled mentality of all of this is why things like Climategate get the style of media coverage they do. You seem to be inclined to contribute to this polarization. Good luck with that. I am not a climate scientist, but I have seen enough diverse areas in my fourth research area now, that I am aware of the divergences of credibility different realms of human investigation possess and I have enough background to read and interpret research results, and no, I do not need to be a climate scientist in order to compare probabilities or errors-to-effects. Believe it or not, there is a fairly standard language of “credibility” in its broadest sense, and people can reasonably argue about all sorts of things related to decision making under uncertainty. Such things can be informed by more than science.

  22. 122

    Hank Roberts 103:

    Thanks for peer reviewed article: “Lessons learned, as suggested by professionals in public health:”

    …The following peer-reviewed, juried study is a collary involving climate change published in the peer reviewed American Journal of Public Health. It has stood up so far since 2007:

    It includes the words:

    “We explore the ways science has been misused, the attempts to measure the
    pervasiveness of this problem…”

    American Journal of Public Health | November 2007, Vol 97, No. 11

  23. 123
    Hank Roberts says:

    I hope someone puts a reference to the article from The Lancet into the Wikipedia article that Ron R. mentions. Maybe with The Lancet as a reference, the denial will be less effective.

  24. 124
    Edward Greisch says:

    Comment #1: Consider this: 14% of Americans are now openly secularist or irreligious or atheist or agnostic. None have been arrested for their non-belief. They even put up advertising on a bus without getting arrested. How different from a few centuries ago! The problem is that we need another 500 to 1000 years of social progress in the 5 years we have to rescue ourselves from climate disaster. All of the power players and all of the moneyed interests are on the other side, as usual. Yes, it is a race, and the odds are very bad. Q, on Star Trek, was correct: We are pathetic.

  25. 125
    john byatt says:

    #105 tried that with Lindzen
    typical reply… what has smoking and asbestos got to do with global warming
    you cannot debate a creationist nor an AGW denier .
    we must answer their letters to the editor drivel , this is now happening in my region, the excellent articles here and at skeptical science, invaluable
    to achieving that. Sic em harry .

  26. 126
    Hank Roberts says:

    Here’s one for the forestry people, if it leads to anything interesting — it’s about about assessing forest carbon capture:

  27. 127
    Rod B says:

    matt (6), you’re shooting the messenger (#1). You’re right that scientists can work away diligently in their lab to their heart’s content and not give a hoot about things like those poll figures. Then again some scientists would like someone to take some action based on their scientific discoveries — a whole ‘nother ball game.

  28. 128
    Paula Thomas says:

    To the commenter who mentioned nuclear v solar can I recommend this website.

  29. 129
    Patrick 027 says:

    I always like discussions about atmopsheric circulation.

    What would be interesting:

    mechanisms involved in global warming or _____ – related shifts in NAM, SAM, extratropical storm tracks, jet streams, etc.

    How the quasistationary wave pattern would be affected

    how changes in latent heating, stability, low level and high level temperature gradients affect storm tracks and cyclo(genesis/lysis) and anticyclo(genesis/lysis) and the characteristics of horizontal size, motion, intensity, duration…


    Not that this is expected to happen, but among possible changes to modes of internal variability (changes in average indices, temporal textures, shapes of modes?? (I read recently that the El Nino – weak Atlantic hurricane season link could be changed by global warming)) – 1. could any modes of internal variability become phase locked to produce new prominent modes; 2. could new modes emerge (such as via higher SSTs making teleconnection patterns more sensitive to SST anomalies because of exponential increase in water vapor…); 3. could existing modes go ‘extinct’ (an example would be a permanent El Nino) or bifurcate into different modes…

    (Maybe not much of that would occur with great significance with regard to AGW, but certainly it could in response to more general climate change – ENSO would dissappear if the Pacific ocean shrinks enough (via continental drift), for example.)

  30. 130
    ccpo says:

    “Any loss in the credibility of scientists, at the hands of ignorant politically motivated pundits, is a huge loss and liability for America as a whole. Huge segments of our lives and livelihood are based on science. A world where people only accept what they want to hear, and dismiss those who are better trained, educated and able to get to the truth of matters is not going to do anyone any good, be it on issues of climate change, pollution, health and medicine, or anything else. This is probably the second great casualty of the Climate Wars, the fact that the ignorant have learned how to wield their ignorance as a powerful weapon, to the extent that trust in the educated and informed has been dangerously eroded at a time in our civilization when we can least afford it.

    Comment by Bob — 20 December 2009 @ 12:15 PM”

    I would like to encourage all here to consider that this behavior would not likely be successful in a less complex society. This is not like times in the past where some new thinking came along and upset the status quo as with gravity or the sun being the center of the solar system. No, AGW was the dominant understanding that has since become undermined by the intentional obfuscation of vested interests.

    Because the topic is something that a layperson cannot easily get though on their own, they are dependent on scientists. The funny thing is, in no other field are scientists so summarily dismissed. Only climate. Why? Vested interests. And laypeople also have vested interests. What they don’t have is the time or inclination or skills to determine who is telling the truth and who is lying. How can they? If we all spent the time to do so, little would get done. There’s just too much going on. Life is too complex.

    The entire system is too complex. Look at the economy. Look at this. Look at the crappy political environment where both politicians and the general public can pretend the president is a terrorist and is taking away all our freedoms by supporting health care and climate mitigation, even as the president who did take away many freedoms was praised.

    The problems we face are systemic, and not just the climate system.

    I suggest, as I long have, that the solutions we seek do not exist at the governmental level. Walk outside. Look your neighbors in the eye. Start a conversation. Let local action become neighborhood action, that become town or city, that state, that regional.

    Send Mr./Mrs. Smith to Washington. Or just tell any level of government that refuses to listen to sense to just get the hell out of the way.


  31. 131
    ccpo says:

    “Bringing up my old idea for a ‘climatology legal defense fund’. The way libel-actionable content is plastered all over the Internet today, I would expect this to be a self-financing operation…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 20 December 2009 @ 12:16 PM”

    Since the scientists won’t do this for themselves, I’d like to hear a lawyer’s take on a class action suit.


  32. 132
    Jeff Boarman says:

    Hello, I would like to see a post on how the ERBE data, factual results made from satellites, (not models) shows that the Earth is radiating more heat back in space than the UN and IPCC is modeling.

    If this is true, even in CO2 levels were to double, the effect on temperature would be many times less than what the UN and IPCC predict.

    [Response: Lindzen's paper is not likely to be robust, and the diagnostic he looked at doesn't appear to be very indicative of long term sensitivity. This will be discussed in the literature in due time, but unfortunately it isn't the kind of simple issue that can be easily tackled in a blog post. Unlike the graphs in your link which are extremely misleading (to say the least). - gavin]

  33. 133
    John Mashey says:

    Q specifically for Rasmus Benestad:

    Might you shed any light on the editorial process/staff at Springer-Praxis? The combination below of the Leroux book 2) and the Rapp b) and c) do not seem encouraging.

    1) Springer-Praxis published several editions of your book, which seemed sensible. Their Advisory Board is listed. Your book was tagged “Subject Advisory editor – John Mason”, who appears to be a British astronomy person.

    2) He also shows up in the same role in 2005′s Global warming: myth or reality : the erring ways of climatology”
    By Marcel Leroux, which was discussed slightly in RC a few years ago.

    3) Mason again shows up in that role for 3 books by Donald Rapp, a long-time JPL person, who says:
    “I have surveyed the wide field of global climate change energy and I am familiar with the entire literature of climatology.”

    a) Human missions to Mars: enabling technologies for exploring the red planet, 2007. It seems plausible that a senior JPL person might know this topic.

    b) Assessing climate change: temperatures, solar radiation, and heat balance, 2008.

    This begins “Global-warming alarmists believe…” and references many papers, including Tim Ball @ Marshall Institute site, Bob Foster @ Lavoisier, Gerlich & Tscheuschner, several Idso’s, several Jaworowki, marlo Lewis, Monckton, the OISM paper by Robinsons & Soon, etc, etc. The Front Matter & Back Matter (including references) are online here. A second edition appears in a few weeks.

    c) Ice Ages and Interglacials: Measurements, Interpretation and Models, 2009. front and back online here.
    I haven’t looked at this much, but the preface includes:
    “However, the connection between CO2 emissions and global warming is far from firm. Because the CO2-warming connection has been heavily politicized, much of the literature is biased.”
    He references your book .. .but also Michael Crichton, Soon&Baliunas, Douglass+Cristy (to appear in E&E), etc.
    As to why this is of particular interest right now, see Deep Climate, or Science Bypass, in which 3 astronautics/engineering professors (Rapp, Kunc, Gruntman) @ USC were in a group looking for California & federal funding for climate research, but had signed the APS petition that basically claims to nullify existing climate research, a strange juxtaposition.

  34. 134
    Edward Greisch says:

    36 Spaceman Spiff: The Great Death, alias the End-Permian alias the Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction was CO2 driven by a super-volcano. It was the biggest extinction event recorded in the rocks in the past 600 million years. But it was slower than what we are doing. It took a million years to erupt something times 1000 cubic kilometers of lava. Hence the fear and terror felt by people like me.

  35. 135
    James McDonald says:

    Why is it so hard to find a terse, cogent explanation of the CRU controversy?

    On one side, you have right wing blowhards spouting short quotes out of context and proclaiming this is “proof” of an AGW conspiracy.

    On the other side, it is maddeningly difficult to get a terse, cogent explanation of the quoted material in context. Instead, there are long rambling posts supporting the scientists, equally long and convoluted explanations of minutae associated with the research, or short but tangential remarks that don’t address the specific quotes being bandied about.

    What I would like to see is something like the following, but written by someone who has really and truly delved into the matter and can speak with authority, and a consensus among experts that it is a correct characterization.

    The “trick” was to replace inferred values computed from suspicious tree ring data with numbers taken from thermometers.
    The suspicious computer code was never used to produce results for any peer-reviewed paper.

    If that’s accurate, maybe fine tune it. If it’s wrong, then write something true but equally terse that captures the essential point.
    But make it something that can be read and comprehended in 30 seconds. I refuse to believe that cannot be done, and cannot understand why it hasn’t been (at least not in any of the 100 places I’ve looked or half dozen emails to researchers that have not been answered).

    Sorry to rant, but this has gotten beyond absurd. There are many people out there willing to spread the word, but you have to give them something manageable to run with.

  36. 136
    Anne van der Bom says:

    The recent post (Are the CRU data “suspect”? An objective assessment.) by Kevin and Eric only tells half the story.

    I would like to see a more in-depth analysis on what sort of issues you have to deal with regarding temperature measurements and how and why you need to correct for them.

  37. 137
    John Mashey says:

    This is somewhat about climate science, but more along the lines of education, and what’s appropriate for different levels of education.
    Specifically, perhaps RC readers might take a look at The Environmental Literacy Council, specifically Air, Climate & Weather. Look at links at the right under Climate, and sample them. Also take a look at the Council itself.

    I’m looking for opinions on ELC. Does anyone think anything odd is going on here?

  38. 138
    AlC says:
    Richard Lindzen has apparently written another Op-Ed piece in the WSJ 12/1/2009. It has been a busy time here with the stolen emails and then Copenhagen, but maybe there is time now to comment on it.

  39. 139
    Edward Greisch says:

    Amazingly, CNN aired a show called “Planet in Peril” on global warming on 20 December 2009. It was a decent showing of what is presently happening to polar bears and people living on islands that are just barely above sea level.

    I think it was NBC that had a show on a possible future 100 years where life got gradually harder due to global warming. I don’t remember the date.

    These are progress.

  40. 140

    Interesting topics for posts:

    An update on sea level rise estimates, both from the perspective of equilibrium SLR to be expected in the long run (e.g. Rohling et al, Nature Geoscience 2009, and Kopp et all, Nature 2009) and the speed at which it may take place.

    What ‘early warning signals’ might we have, that signal big changes ahead (before we’re in the midst of it)?.

  41. 141
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “We explore the ways science has been misused, the attempts to measure the
    pervasiveness of this problem…”

    Yeah, science HAS been misused.

    Plimer’s work, for example. The hijacking of skepticism by those who are selectively credulous. Etc.

  42. 142

    Someone asked about permafrost melt… here is a nice visualization of how that could progress
    “…northern coastline of Alaska midway between Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay is eroding by up to one-third the length of a football field annually because of a “triple whammy” of declining sea ice, warming seawater and increased wave activity, according to new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.”

    Would really like to see RC discuss some tipping point scenarios derived from climate models.

  43. 143
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The debate over the largest tax increase in history and the direct inflated costs of energy of all kinds resulting from legislation currently in the senate.”

    There wasn’t much debate over the biggest tax cuts in American History, was there? That gutted the surplus into a deep debt which led to…

    not much debate on the biggest failure of a war since WW1 and the Somme. Which was surrounded by…

    not much debate in the passing of the worst bill in the History of the US, undoing what was the ONE singular achievement of the US, the US Bill Of Rights: The laughably named “PATRIOT Act”.

    If I were a truther I’d suspect that Tony B and GW Bush were deliberately corrupt and incompetent so that when they lost (as GW had to: term limits) they would poison the water for any political deal on AGW.

    Tony did that already with his Cash For Questions with the newly minted commercial Lords. The Lords had been a thorn in his side, stopping populist but ill thought out bills passing.

    If I were a truther.

  44. 144

    Its a war on science and it is very important development. It is not just a blip created by the emails hacked from the East Anglia computers. This has been going on for years and continues in other areas of science as well. The closing of SIPI, the Scientist’s Institute for Public, Information by Reagan back in the 1990s, losing the science advisor position to the president, the firing of all CNN science reporters this year, the creationists vs Darwinism, the resurgence of pseudo medicine. It’s a positive feedback loop where the science is increasing diluted, over simplified and treated as subject to rhetoric. A combination of language, media consolidation and vested interests are, because of the low threshold of science in the public, fostered by the media, able to make pseudoscience an alternative in the public’s mind. We are all losing unless we can role this back.

  45. 145

    Re #25, there appears to be a response (of unknown provenance) there:

    As far as I can tell this has not attracted a response/rebuttal to date.

  46. 146
    CM says:

    Sandra Kay (#50) said: “There is only so much crying wolf that people will take before ignoring the fear mongering.”

    That goes for doubt-mongering and crying “fraud”, too.

    Think of all the accusations and innuendo that have been launched in the CRU e-mail affair. Yet nothing has come to light from the stolen files, as far as I have managed to follow the debate, that will require a single paper to be retracted, a single public data set to significantly corrected, nor a single IPCC finding to be changed.

    After this, the public might be so inured to groundless accusations and spin that a significant percentage won’t even buy it if some climate scientist someday *were* caught red-handed committing scientific fraud.

  47. 147
    CM says:

    I second all of Marcus’s (#31) suggestions for future posts. That should keep you busy for a while in the new year.

    Meanwhile, may I suggest you enjoy your holidays. They have been richly earned, especially after your past month and a half of standing up for science against an exceptionally vicious campaign, consistently providing the most judicious commentary in any medium.

    Before the CRU hack, I used to respect climate scientists.
    Now I admire you.

  48. 148
    Silk says:

    “This community has experience in scientific research, and can immediately discern that an enterprise like the IPCC designed to produce a consensus could not be more poisonous to honest scientific debate. This community separates itself from any political agenda, and will follow the truth wherever it may lead. We applaud and encourage your sincere participation.”

    Yet this ‘community’ can’t manage to publish any papers in peer reviewed journals and resorts to publishing trash in E&E that a Freshman Physics student could knock down in 5 minutes.

    The ‘community’ can be safely ignored, by scientists (though not politicians) because this ‘community’ is not a scientific community.

    And eventually, when the impacts of climate change get so severe that the public start shouting “Why didn’t you tell us?”, “Why didn’t we do more?”, the deniers, and liars, and obfuscators will crawl back under their stones.

  49. 149
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim B., I’m sorry, you must be new to the Internet. Here’s the thing “Jim”: On the Intertubes, ANYONE can come on here claiming to be a physicist. An apellation such as “Jim B” makes it impossible to verify one’s bona fides. Indeed you could have been inspired to take that moniker by what you were drinking at the time. And in your second missive, I see the same vague accusations and aspersions I saw in the first. I see absolutely nothing that supports your claim of having any expertise in physics.

    In fact, the only technical point regards a technical term in statistical inference–which any grad student in the physical sciences worth his salt is aware of, whether or not he could name the Italian Mathematician who treated the phenomenon. In fact, a psychologist or a lawyer who knows how to interrogate an expert witness would also be aware of the phenomenon.

    You seem to be ignorant of the fact that anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch is a PREDICTION of the consensus theory of Eart’s climate.

    You refuse to engage in a serious discussion of the very real successes of climate models, preferring instead to dismiss them with an imperious wave of the hand. That’s not how science works, Bunky. If you make an assertion, you back it up, preferably with peer-reviewed research.

    And as a matter of fact, it is US vs. Them–it is science vs. anti-science. Climate science, Evolution, Medical science, Environmental science–even physics and cosmology–are all under attack by well funded interests who don’t want to confront the uncomfortable truths science makes us confront. So you will forgive me for my skepticism, but YOU have yet to establish which side YOU are on.

  50. 150
    chris says:

    re #12 REL 20 December 2009 at 12:29 PM (apols for the long post!)

    It’s worth pointing out a couple of things with respect to that video, and considering Alley’s Greenland summit ice core temperature data in the light of our current understanding of the Greenland summit temperature evolution over the last 100-150 years.

    Inspection of Alley’s data in the NCDC archive [*] shows that the most recent temperature data point for the GISP 2 core is for around 150 years before 2000 (the last temperature point in the core is at -95 years BP and BP refers to “before 1950” .

    According to the reconstruction this temperature was -31.6 oC.

    In the intervening period, the Greenland ice sheet temperature (2 metre surface height) has risen by 1.5 oC or more, averaged over the whole ice sheet [**]. It’s likely that the ice sheet summit area where GISP 2 is, has warmed more than this (NASA GISS analysis puts the warming at the Grenland summit where the GISP 2 core was drilled to more than 2 oC [***]

    So if we are comparing like with like [i.e. the temperature at the Greenland ice sheet summit at GISP 2 at the “height” of the MWP, say, (-30.5 oC), and the temperature at the Greenland ice sheet summit at GISP 2 at the turn of the 20th century, say, (-31.6 oC)], we should really consider the temperature change since then at the same location. This is at least 1.5 oC warmer and likely at least 2 oC warmer than 100-150 years ago.

    So current temperatures at the Greenland summit at the GISP 2 site are likely already warmer than for the height of the MWP (by 0.5 to 1.0 oC or more) according to the Alley’s data, and taking account of the temperature record of the last century.

    The Greenland summit temperature were likely somewhat warmer deeper back into the earlier periods of the Holocene. The evidence indicates that the orbital properties of the earth that drove the world out of the last ice age transition resulted in an “overshoot” of temperature, and that the N. hemisphere temperature has fallen somewhat since then. A recent analysis indicates that the Arctic regions have cooled extremely slowly through the mid to late Holocene, at a rate of the order of 0.02-0.03 oC per 100 years, and this is consistent with established N. hemisphere insolation changes due to precession of the solstices around Earth’s elliptical orbit [****].

    In the last 100-odd years this Arctic cooling trend of around 0.02-0.03 oC per century, has turned into a warming trend of around 1 – 1.4 oC per century. Note that we expect the Greenland temperature to continue to rise. Box et al [**] note that while the Greenland temperatures have generally risen in phase with the N. hemisphere temperature rise during the last 100-odd years, Greenland’s temperatures are currently lagging behind the N. hemisphere, and if they were to “catch up” as expected, the overall Greenland temperatures should be an additional ~ 1.0 oC warmer than they currently are…


    Box JE et al. (2009) Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840-2007 J. Climate 22, 4029-4049


    (make your own map – e.g. compare the current (5 year temperature average to the 5 year temperature average around the start of the 20th century)

    D. S. Kaufman et al. (2009) Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling Science 325, 1236-1239

Switch to our mobile site