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The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)

Filed under: — group @ 19 January 2010 - (Italian)

Like all human endeavours, the IPCC is not perfect. Despite the enormous efforts devoted to producing its reports with the multiple levels of peer review, some errors will sneak through. Most of these will be minor and inconsequential, but sometimes they might be more substantive. As many people are aware (and as John Nieslen-Gammon outlined in a post last month and Rick Piltz goes over today), there is a statement in the second volume of the IPCC (WG2), concerning the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are receding that is not correct and not properly referenced.

The statement, in a chapter on climate impacts in Asia, was that the likelihood of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035” was “very high” if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate (WG 2, Ch. 10, p493), and was referenced to a World Wildlife Fund 2005 report. Examining the drafts and comments (available here), indicates that the statement was barely commented in the reviews, and that the WWF (2005) reference seems to have been a last minute addition (it does not appear in the First- or Second- Order Drafts). This claim did not make it into the summary for policy makers, nor the overall synthesis report, and so cannot be described as a ‘central claim’ of the IPCC. However, the statement has had some press attention since the report particularly in the Indian press, at least according to Google News, even though it was not familiar to us before last month.

It is therefore obvious that this error should be corrected (via some kind of corrigendum to the WG2 report perhaps), but it is important to realise that this doesn’t mean that Himalayan glaciers are doing just fine. They aren’t, and there may be serious consequences for water resources as the retreat continues. See also this review paper (Ren et al, 2006) on a subset of these glaciers.

East Rongbuk glacier 1921 and 2008East Rongbuk glacier just below Mt. Everest has lost 3-400 ft of ice in this area since 1921.

More generally, peer-review works to make the IPCC reports credible because many different eyes with different perspectives and knowledge look over the same text. This tends to make the resulting product reflect more than just the opinion of a single author. In this case, it appears that not enough people with relevant experience saw this text, or if they saw it, did not comment publicly. This might be related to the fact that this text was in the Working Group 2 report on impacts, which does not get the same amount of attention from the physical science community than does the higher profile WG 1 report (which is what people associated with RC generally look at). In WG1, the statements about continued glacier retreat are much more general and the rules on citation of non-peer reviewed literature was much more closely adhered to. However, in general, the science of climate impacts is less clear than the physical basis for climate change, and the literature is thinner, so there is necessarily more ambiguity in WG 2 statements.

In future reports (and the organisation for AR5 in 2013 is now underway), extra efforts will be needed to make sure that the links between WG1 and the other two reports are stronger, and that the physical science community should be encouraged to be more active in the other groups.

In summary, the measure of an organisation is not determined by the mere existence of errors, but in how it deals with them when they crop up. The current discussion about Himalayan glaciers is therefore a good opportunity for the IPCC to further improve their procedures and think more about what the IPCC should be doing in the times between the main reports.

Update: This backgrounder presented by Kargel et al AGU this December is the best summary of the current state of the Himalayas and the various sources of misinformation that are floating around. It covers this issue, the Raina report and the recent Lau et al paper.

1,804 Responses to “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

  1. 1601
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1588
    Gilles says:
    11 February 2010 at 5:53 AM

    CFU :”France’s power needs are 12,500GW.”

    what is this ridiculous number ? ”

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption

    which looks like I inverted the figures to change from MWh/y to MW.

    But even so, 110GW ~90GW.

    Yet according to you, this would (despite being the very longest track needed) cause the whole energy infrastructure to fry.

    Yeah.

  2. 1602
    Septic Matthew says:

    1595, Ray Ladbury

    I seem to be in the rare position of being sceptical of AGW while simultaneously supporting the continuing (indeed, increased) R&D and deployment of diverse renewable energy supplies. It isn’t just that coal is unhealthfully dirty and that petroleum will run out, but that the economics now are (or seem about to be) favorable, with dramatic recent reductions in cost (especially for niche demands, like peak electricity generation on hot sunny days to supply air conditioning.)

    The really advantageous feature of renewable energy is that it is renewable.

    To a degree, we are like aircraft afficianados 100 years ago: we can’t exactly foresee the DC-3, Super G Constellation, DC-6, Boeing 707 or Boeing 787 (half of whose weight is carbon fiber); but we can see that there is a great future of some sort for whoever invests the time, energy, money, and intellect.

  3. 1603
    Georgi Marinov says:

    How much is invested in energy infrastructure worldwide every year? Assuming 3% real growth, how much will be invested over the next ten years? If incentives are added?

    There will be no real growth because of the diminishing supply of energy.

    1593
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    11 February 2010 at 6:58 AM

    BPL: NOBODY here, except perhaps some of the deniers, has this attitude. You are attacking a straw man. Nobody is saying our lifestyle can get infinitely richer forever, just that it doesn’t have to drop significantly from where it is if we switch to renewables. I’m all for controlling population, and probably nearly everyone else here is as well, again possible excepting some of the denialists.

    I was obviously sarcastic. However, if people are for controlling population, why aren’t they discussing it? It is the foundation of any set of real measures for combating the sustainability crisis. Instead it is all about how much renewables have grown over the last decade (and yet they’re still below 1% of the total energy consumption)

  4. 1604
    Septic Matthew says:

    1592, BPL

    Another way to make the point: in the upcoming century the entire electricity generating infrastructure of the world will be replaced as it wears out, and it will be added to. So the issues to be debated are: As this happens, what are the best things to build next? How rapidly can particular new technologies be deployed? What are the likely outcomes in the next 5-10 years of various strategies?

    Realistically, but not certainly, it looks to me like the world can produce 30 times the amount of energy from non-hydro renewables that it produces now, and it can do so some time between 2015 and 2020. If it becomes necessary to build the wind turbines with second-rate magnets, then the result will be that the “30 times” landmark will take a little longer and cost a little more.

    The US, EU, Japan and China all have large-scale CC&S facilities under construction. If those work well, all the better. Technologies are even better than they were when the “Stabilization Wedges” paper was published.

  5. 1605
    John E. Pearson says:

    Barton wrote: “if people are for controlling population, why aren’t they discussing it?”

    Stewart Brand discusses population in “Whole Earth Discipline An Ecopragmatist Manifesto” which I recommend. I don’t have time to research his conclusions so can’t vouch for their veracity but Brand claims that urbanization drives down population growth. He quotes an article by Philip Longman in 2004 Foreign Affairs, “The Global Baby Bust”: “Some 59 countries, comprising roughly 44% of the world’s population, are currently not producing enough children to avoid population decline.” “By 2045, according to the latest UN projections, the world’s fertility rate as a whole will have fallen below replacement levels.” Brand quotes Longman as arguing that there is little or no economic incentive for city dwellers to have children.

  6. 1606
    Gilles says:

    “Sorry Gavin, the figures are a little bit hard to decrypt. Which warming do the proxy (not instrumental) reconstructions show after 1960 again?

    [Response: All the data is there – plot it for yourself. – gavin]”

    I wouldn’t do any mistake, I’m sure you know it perfectly ;).

    ” Now I need to know everything about the spectrum of internal variability to keep you happy? Hmm… but whether my opinion is trustable or not, I’d say that hundred-year variance due internal processes is around 0.1 deg C, ”

    I do think that you have to have a pretty good estimate of the internal variability before concluding that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”, and I think also it is “very likely ” that you know it.

    “BPL: And when they install more windmills, that figure will go up as well. What’s your point? That the whole world isn’t as well windmill-saturated as Denmark? Duh, as we say in America. We knew that. It’s nonetheless true that Denmark is getting 23% of its electricity from wind, so a country can do that.”

    As I said , BPL, “Gillesland”could easily produce 100% of its electricity from wind or solar panel. As I said also, you miss the point by saying “a country”. (And all “positive energy buildings” advocates as well).

    “But even so, 110GW ~90GW.

    Yet according to you, this would (despite being the very longest track needed) cause the whole energy infrastructure to fry.”

    CFU and BPL : you don’t seem to catch entirely what “intermittency” really means.

    “BPL: NOBODY here, except perhaps some of the deniers, has this attitude. You are attacking a straw man. Nobody is saying our lifestyle can get infinitely richer forever, just that it doesn’t have to drop significantly from where it is if we switch to renewables”

    It is a VERY INTERESTING exercise to ask yourself what determines the maximum amount of power per capita that a civilization can extract : for instance why did fossil fuels insure more than 10 times as much power par capita than traditional agricultural civilization (in some places, may be 50) – but not 1000 or 100000 times. Why ? And why should renewables insure “just a little less” than fossil fuels? no obvious reason for that. Could be 10 times more or 100 times more or 2 or 3 times less. What determines that ? (hint : must be related to the COST of energy – so what exactly determines the cost of energy ?)

  7. 1607
    Ray Ladbury says:

    S. Matthew, Well, I’m with you on the renewables. The current uproar we are seeing due to entrenched interests threatened by moving away from petroleum (whether due to climate concerns or Peak Oil) is an indication that we don’t want to have to go through this again in another 50 or even 100 years. IMHO, this provides a pretty strong argument against not just reliance on coal but also nukes as well (though I am not opposed on technical grounds to nuclear power). We should not prejudge the situation–let whatever renewables prove most attractive grow as quickly as possible (perhaps with limited subsidies) and fill in what demand cannot be met with either CCS fossil fuels or nuclear power (depending on which is more viable).

    As to the climate science, well, keep asking questions and we’ll get you sorted out on that. ;-)

  8. 1608
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The really advantageous feature of renewable energy is that it is renewable. ”

    And though the rare earth materials are used in renewables, THEY ARE NOT USED UP.

    They can be recycled.

    Try recycling burnt coal…

  9. 1609

    WRT #1600, fywheel storage actually sounds pretty cool to me–though physical shielding also seems like a good idea.

    Hydrogen fuel, though it has pluses, certainly is not without its hazards!

  10. 1610
  11. 1611
    John E. Pearson says:

    1609: I might overestimate (read “over-guess”) the dangers of flywheels but liquid fuels are a known entity. I do like the idea of using excess power to put C back into the ground although I have no idea whether one could argue that carbon resequestration is anywhere near an optimal use of excess power. On the key point we’re in agreement though: uses can certainly be found for excess power.

  12. 1612
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Septic Matthew: Realistically, but not certainly, it looks to me like the world can produce 30 times the amount of energy from non-hydro renewables that it produces now, and it can do so some time between 2015 and 2020.

    Which planet are you living on????

  13. 1613
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Georgi, 30x what we’re producing now.

    And, theoretically, as far as power is concerned, that’s easy-peasy.

    Maybe your beef is with the idea that we should produce that much from ANY source.

    If so, say so.

    It’s certainly a lot CHEAPER to use less electricity.

    But 30x is easy. If you consider that some alien technology then I pity you for your failings.

    Just because Septic generally takes a denialist stance doesn’t mean *everything* he says is probably wrong (and your statement goes waay beyond that). Doing so is actually (despite the denialist inability to know the difference) an ad hom attack.

  14. 1614
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles: “As I said also, you miss the point by saying “a country”. (And all “positive energy buildings” advocates as well).”

    And as you miss continually and endemically, that doesn’t make a hill of beans difference.

    The ONLY power source that is capable in theory of producing 100% of our power needs is gas. All the others are not under fine human control (wind/wave/etc), take far too long to ramp up to manage demand changes (coal/nuclear), or aren’t energy generation (hydro pumping).

    But gas is by far the most expensive power option and we, frankly, don’t have enough of it to do 100%.

    But you repeat your 20% ignorant of anything that changes it, refusing it with a jedi-wave of your hand.

    [edit]

  15. 1615
    Tim Jones says:

    Fossil’s deniers have caused damage we won’t forget. We won’t be able to.

    Arizona quits Western climate endeavor
    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/02/11/20100211climate-brewer0211.html
    Cutting greenhouse gases too expensive, Brewer says
    The Arizona Republic
    by Shaun McKinnon
    Feb. 11, 2010
    “Arizona will no longer participate in a groundbreaking attempt to limit greenhouse-gas emissions across the West, a change in policy by Gov. Jan Brewer that will include a review of all the state’s efforts to combat climate change.

    “Brewer stopped short of pulling Arizona out of the multistate coalition that plans to regulate greenhouse gases starting in 2012. But she made it clear in an executive order that Arizona will not endorse the emission-control plan or any program that could raise costs for consumers and businesses.”

    […]

  16. 1616
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “for instance why did fossil fuels insure more than 10 times as much power par capita than traditional agricultural civilization (in some places, may be 50)”

    What does that prove, except that we can dig stuff out the ground and burn it thousands of times faster than it was put in there?

    And the answer:

    Because we didn’t have the technology we do to make efficient use of solar, tide, geothermal, wind or any of the other renewables.

    Please, prove that renewables cannot produce 10 times or more power per capita than traditional agricultural processes.

    PS Note: the US has gone from 1 calorie of oil being consumed by agriculture resulting in 3600 calories of food down, today, 1 calorie of oil per calorie of food.

    Traditional agriculture is 3600 times more efficient in energy.

    What the US does (and Bollywood) is produce cheap goods sold at inflated nonmarket prices (because of copyright) that cost miniscule amounts of power to do.

    When you change your definition of what something is worth then it’s easy to get the money multipliers you want: just shift over to “information” which is cheap to replicate.

  17. 1617
    Matthew L says:

    When we sort out the mechanisms for “exporting” renewable energy then a big hurdle will have been jumped. It then won’t matter that Slovenia, for instance, is unable to produce all the energy it needs from renewables, or that Norway gets no sun in the winter, they could import (by whatever mechanism) the energy they need from very windy or very sunny countries. After all we import oil, why not hydrogen, or electricity via transnational transmission lines?

    I am a big fan of the “super-chimney” idea.
    http://www.superchimney.org/default.html
    An extremely large version of the solar updraft tower that is so high that it can create clouds (a sort of artificial mountain range).

    Neat!

    Stick one next to the Aswan Dam and you would even have most of your transmission infrastructure too.

  18. 1618
    Septic Matthew says:

    For the fun of it:

    1. a review of solar through the end of 2008:

    http://nrelpubs.nrel.gov/Webtop/ws/nich/www/anpublic/Record?upp=0&m=5&order=native%28%27pubyear%2FDescend%27%29

    At the end of 2008, manufacturing capacity was about 7 GW of generating capacity per year; in 2009 American manufacturing capacity approximately doubled and costs fell about 30%.

    Other reviews also available from NREL

    2. a note on soybeans:

    http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/US_Soy_Delivers_Environmental_And_Energy_Benefits_999.html

    Salt-tolerant soybeans have been around for at least 20 years. I don’t know when or if they’ll get around to it, but biofuel farmers in Australia and Mexico could grow a lot of this stuff. FWIW, this would cost less than deploying troops to the Middle East. I already provided the link to that fish farm/biofuel farm in Dubai.

  19. 1619
    Septic Matthew says:

    Mustn’t forget wind:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/46026.pdf

    In 2008, wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generating capacity. It isn’t cheap, but neither are the costs prohibitive.

  20. 1620
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Georgi, 30x what we’re producing now.

    And, theoretically, as far as power is concerned, that’s easy-peasy.

    Maybe your beef is with the idea that we should produce that much from ANY source.

    If so, say so.

    It’s certainly a lot CHEAPER to use less electricity.

    But 30x is easy. If you consider that some alien technology then I pity you for your failings.

    All I want to know is how exactly we could possibly expand renewables from 0.01X current energy consumption to 30X that in 5 to 10 years. This is an expansion by a factor of 3000. This works out to be doubling every 10 months to get us there by 2020. Where are the money, people and materials needed to do it going to come from? We are talking about hyper-WWII-level mobilization of resources here and it’s not clear that we even have them to mobilize them. And it’s not just the electricity generation capacity, it is the infrastructure too. Do we have enough lithium for a billion electrical cars, do we even have the steel for them, and could we possibly build them in 10 years??? and this is only a minor part of the renovation and rebuilding of our infrastructure (which is built entirely around fossil fuels).

    On top of that, the people in power are currently busy bailing out bankers, building natural gas pipelines and securing oil contracts, but definitely not doing much towards doubling renewables every 10 months

    I just want to know whether I am insane, and if not, why everyone else is

  21. 1621
    Hank Roberts says:

    > electricity generating infrastructure of the world will be replaced
    > as it wears out, and it will be added to. So the issues to be debated
    > are: As this happens, what are the best things to build next?

    Yep.

    What do you do, when your federal government decides to require only the cheapest and most wasteful infrastructure replacements, prolonging waste for more decades, causing a ‘race to the bottom’ for reluctant utilities that really want to be more efficient and pay up front for longterm savings?

    Answer: organize–push for the most efficient equipment available off the shelf, at slightly more cost, building conservation in.

    Pushing works. Example:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=utility+transformer+DOE+lawsuit

  22. 1622
    Septic Matthew says:

    1620, Georgi Marinov: All I want to know is how exactly we could possibly expand renewables from 0.01X current energy consumption to 30X that in 5 to 10 years.

    I mean to wrote that production of non-hydro energy will increase 30 fold from what is now produced from non-hydro energy, not 30 times what is now produced from all sources combined.

    Meanwhile, I have been browsing the offerings at NREL, and here is an analysis of Jatropha specific to India:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/44428.pdf

    Whenever somebody develops salt-tolerant Jatropha, India will be able to grow lots of it along the coastline, at least in those areas where the coastlines are too arid for crops. Long, thin areas like Baja California, Java, Sumatra, Italy, Crete and Cuba might also become producers.

    Solar, wind, biofuels: by the end of the 21st century, they could supply all our needs. But I only look forward 5 – 10 years based on what’s underway now.

    1621, I mostly agree. For reliability, and long-term savings, overcapitalization is usually good.

  23. 1623
    Henry Charles says:

    CFU,

    Please do not be so disrespectful to people. You’re not doing us any favors. Whether we like it or not, those of us who support the IPCC and understand the science behind AGW are having some problems with public perception right now. Your angry tirades are not helping. Your heart is in the right place, but you should probably tone down the vitriol a bit. Thanks.

  24. 1624
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Septic Matthew says: 11 February 2010 at 10:11 AM

    “To a degree, we are like aircraft afficianados 100 years ago: we can’t exactly foresee the DC-3…”

    Nice analogy.

    DC-3, first flew December 17, 1935, 32nd anniversary of Wright brothers Kitty Hawk event.

    Take a look at the Wright machine, then look at the DC-3.

    Look at the cockpit of the DC-3, which could include a Sperry autopilot, radio navigation aids, a plethora of instrumentation not even dreamed of a mere 30 years previously, even including as if to drive the point home individual ashtrays for pilot and copilot. In back, passengers reclining in armchairs, sipping cocktails in shirtsleeve comfort, instead of lying on a wing held in place with a leather belt, plastered with bugs and oil.

    From A to B, in a mere 30 years. We’re incredibly stubborn, persistent and capable, when we really want to do something.

  25. 1625
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Just satire, of course: Glenn Beck: “There aren’t enough knives” for “dishonored” climate scientists to kill themselves.

    There’s not enough knives. If this, if the IPCC had been done by Japanese scientists, there’s not enough knives on planet Earth for hara-kiri that should have occurred. I mean, these guys have so dishonored themselves, so dishonored scientists.

  26. 1626
    Georgi Marinov says:

    1622 Septic Matthew:

    I should not be having to repeat it that many times, but apparently it is required because some people will simply not listen

    1) Agriculture is an unsustainable activity to begin with, except for places where soil is regularly replenished by floods, like the Nile delta. Everywhere else after some time passes, the soil gets degraded (and civilization collapses even if it manages to prolong its existence by a few hundred years by artificially supplying the soil with nutrients based on the millions years of hydrocarbon reserves stored in the ground). This will be even more true if go out and exploit even more land for biofuels

    2) Photosynthesis is a very inefficient process, so if you need a million square kilometers of solar panels to generate the current energy consumption of the planet (you will need several times more if you take growth of population and consumption into account), you will need many times that if you are to get it from biofuels. It’s not rocket science

    3) Even if you somehow magically manage to substitute all fossil fuel energy with renewables (which is practically impossible), you still crash hard if you don’t address the underlying problem of growth and the other civilization-threatening problems the arise from it (fresh water shortages, topsoil loss, biodiversity loss, etc.). Ironically, given how drastically you have to change large portions of the Earth’s surface in order to grow plants for biofuels, you will actually make those other problems much worse if you were to try that.

    One has to look at things from a systems point of view, and you are not doing that, in fact you are doing a very poor job even at focusing on just one issue.

  27. 1627
    Septic Matthew says:

    Georgi, we shall have to meet in 5-10 years to compare notes.

  28. 1628
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Galasyn@1625: Bloodthirsty bunch these right-wing nutjobs, what with Rush saying all climate scientists should be drawn and quartered and Good Ol’ Glenn advocating seppuku. It seems that Rush favors Medieval Europe while Beck favors Medieval Japan. Great, now all they have to do is move their thinking forward about 700 years.

  29. 1629

    Tim Jones @ 1581:

    I mentioned the “Off” switch because I wasn’t sure Gilles knew they existed. Obviously if there is surplus capacity capacity someone should be out there figuring out how to use it, even if they are just going to dump it back onto the grid later.

    To my specific situation, I seldom “turn the meter backward” for more than a few days in a row. My personal system is 2.8KW DC and sized so that months like April get pretty close to zero net KWh for the month. That would require that the sun actually shine, something it can’t seem to get right this year or the last quarter of last year.

  30. 1630
    Gilles says:

    CFU :“for instance why did fossil fuels insure more than 10 times as much power par capita than traditional agricultural civilization (in some places, may be 50)”
    What does that prove, except that we can dig stuff out the ground and burn it thousands of times faster than it was put in there?
    And the answer:
    Because we didn’t have the technology we do to make efficient use of solar, tide, geothermal, wind or any of the other renewables.”
    Your answer is totally irrelevant: my question was : what determines the maximum amount of power (energy/yr/capita) that we can extract from a given technology (and for instance fossiles)? that’s a difficult question because there is no economic theory of the cost of energy – because economist mainly ignore that economy is just the result of a thermodynamical process with a maximum yield. That’s like the old time when heat engines were built correctly and worked, but without understanding of how they work, before thermodynamics. So basically you ignore the fact that renewable energies are less productive than fossil fuels, and would be MUCH LESS productive without them (because you use cheap fossil fuels to build them). This has nothing to do with the surface of the Earth : we could live on a flat , infinite Earth, we wouldn’t have an infinite reservoir of wind and solar energy : it is limited by the yield, not by the area.

  31. 1631
    stevenc says:

    I went and looked at the link Jim posted regarding Glenn’s comments. Pretty over the top. Then I noticed Mike Roddy had a comment on it and I seemed to remember something by him so I went and found it. 14 most heinous climate villains including descriptions as to what should happen to them. I had seen a link to this article posted on RC before. I had thought that was pretty over the top when I went to read it also. I have no idea who crawled in the mud hole first and really couldn’t care less. Both sides do it and both sides cry like stuck pigs when it is done to them.

  32. 1632
    Georgi Marinov says:

    To continue on population, growth and the way these things are portrayed in our top scientific journals: Science is at it again with a whole issue on food security and here is what it say:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/327/5967/833?sa_campaign=Email/toc/12-February-2010/10.1126/science.1186834

    “Population growth, arable land and fresh water limits, and climate change have profound implications for the ability of agriculture to meet this century’s demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel while reducing the environmental impact of their production. Success depends on the acceptance and use of contemporary molecular techniques, as well as the increasing development of farming systems that use saline water and integrate nutrient flows.”

    The unquestioned assumption is that growth will continue and there is nothing wrong with that, we will just make it happen through more technology. That after we’ve done it, if at all possible, we will just have an even bigger food security problem is left out.

    We should be developing technology, but all technology gains will be rapidly cancelled by growth

  33. 1633
    Completely Fed Up says:

    stevenc “Both sides do it and both sides cry like stuck pigs when it is done to them.”

    So who gets TV time to say what Glenn Beck says on the proAGW side, stevenc?

    You’re playing false balance game again.

    As usual.

    “Oh look at me, I’m so even handed, I’m telling both sides off equally”

    Me: But you’re complaining about a parking ticket from one person and an ax murdering killing spree on the other and proclaiming them both as bad as each other.

  34. 1634
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “what determines the maximum amount of power (energy/yr/capita) that we can extract from a given technology”

    The limits of the carnot cycle.

    The temperature of solar radiation is 6000C.

    What is the operating temperature of a coal fired power station? Or the steam temperature of a PWR nuclear reactor? 6000C?

  35. 1635
    David Walker says:

    Further to discussion about the “presentational” aspects, Philip Campbell’s resignation from the investigation panel illustrates new level of stunning naivety and a complete inability to recognise that the Internet exists.

    Here’s the news in the UK today:

    The UEA have put together a panel of independent experts to investigate the UEA emails, etc. (Excellent!)

    Today though, Philip Campbell resigned from the Independent Panel (funded by the University of East Anglia) when it was revealed that in interviews with Chinese Radio he had already announced that there was “nothing wrong here”. (OMG!)

    The result? Headlines already appearing on national news progammes in the UK that the investigation is potentially an attempted cover up/whitewash.

    Ray Ladbury – Do you see the issue now? A positive investigation designed to show that the professionalism and expertise of the UAE staff is beyond reproach – is tainted at the very start by, frankly, totally predictable shouts of “foul”.

    The stakes are to high to carry on like this. People involved need to “wise up” and think about what they are doing and saying and not leave themselves wide open. Was Campbell so naive/stupid/forgetful that he thought that his previous interview wasn’t relevant? How can someone be so clever and show such a complete lack of awareness?

    The defence of “we are scientists not PR experts” is no longer acceptable. If he didn’t have the skills to operate in the public eye then he should have kept out of it!

    The sceptics now already have all of the ammunition they need – before the investigation has even started – to dismiss the findings if they don’t fit with their version.

    Isn’t it obvious that if you appoint a jury, you really shouldn’t appoint jury members that have already been on the radio saying the defendent is innocent – unless you want to look like you’ve put the “fix” on.

    I despair.

  36. 1636

    wm: I reject your premise that the science is settled

    BPL: Not all science is settled. You could even say that no science is settled. But when the evidence for a scientific fact becomes overwhelming, it becomes perverse to withhold at least provisional assent. Anthropogenic Global Warming is as well established right now as is gravity or evolution. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. The chance that AGW theory is just wrong, that either A) the greenhouse effect doesn’t work, B) CO2 isn’t rising, C) rising CO2 isn’t coming from human technology, and D) temperatures are rising in response… are all near-zero. Reasonable people don’t disagree. If you disagree, you’re not being reasonable, or are at least displaying massive ignorance of the field.

  37. 1637
    Jiminmpls says:

    As much as I’d like to see a 30x increase in renewable electricity production by 2020 – or even 2030 – I don’t think it’s realistic. Some countries may be able to double production annually for a few years, but that rate of increase wouldn’t be sustainable. It’s easy to go from 1GW to 2GB, much harder to go from 40GW to 80GW in a single year.

    For a sober view of reality, take a look at
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1_a.html. Wind has been the fastest growing electricity source in the US for several years now – but generation has never doubled from one year to the next.

  38. 1638
    John E. Pearson says:

    1632: Georgi Marinov says:

    “The unquestioned assumption is that growth will continue”

    This might be the unquestioned assumption of the article you posted but it certainly isn’t the unquestioned assumption of the UN world population projections. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf

  39. 1639
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Walker,
    Oh, I see the problem, but it is a different one from the one that you harp on. To illustrate the problem I see, I would like to ask you a question: Why is your outrage directed against the climate scientists? I would have thought that simply as a British taxpayer, you would have been apalled by the harassment of British scientists organized by Canadian citizens. In one week alone, UEA/CRU received over 60 fraudulent FOI requests–at the required 18 hours of effort per request a full half man-year of wasted effort! And that is just one week.
    What is more all of the FOI requests said the data were being requested for purposes of academic research. Really? What is the publication of all those requesting data. Steve McIntyre has precisely one peer-reviewed article. What do you think the chances are that ANY of the data would have been worked into anything publishable? Dude, at least one of the FOI requests forgot to fill in the countries. It just said “(insert 5 or so countries for which we have not already requested data)”.

    So, Dave, if you’ll excuse me for saying so. Your outrage seems awfully selective here. Why might that be?

  40. 1640
    David Walker says:

    Re: Ray Ladbury

    …. Because the public are loosing faith because stupid people keep doing stupid things!

    If I read your response correctly, you want to question my motives rather than address the issue. If we were to graph say, the progress of international agreements on reducing AGW together with the polls on the public’s “buy in” together with the visibility of the sceptics arguments on National TV a MSM.

    I suggest the graph would show international agreement rising sharply and then dropping off at Copenhagen. You would see the public’s buy in rising over time and then a fall off at CRU emails with further reductions following Himalya Glaciers.

    You would also see the MSM coverage of these issues being relatively stable with a large up swing at CRU email with even sharper rises of late.

    All these things are inter related. Bad publicity equals reduction in public support. Reduction in public support equals a change in attitude from the press. A change in attitude from the press equals more bad publicity. QED

  41. 1641

    GM at 1620,

    He’s not saying 30 times our present electricity use. He’s saying 30 times our present electricity production FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES. So it’s a factor of 30, not 3000.

  42. 1642
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1637
    Jiminmpls says:
    12 February 2010 at 8:23 AM

    I don’t think it’s realistic. Some countries may be able to double production annually for a few years, but that rate of increase wouldn’t be sustainable.”

    And you know this because you’re an engineer specializing in energy production?

    Or is that “wouldn’t be sustainable” actually “I don’t think it’s sustainable”?

    If so, why do you think so?

    If you’re wrong in your statement, nobody can enlighten you because nobody knows why you think that. If it’s The Word Of God whispering in your ear, nothing an engineer could persuade you different. If it’s because you think there’s not enough Yttrium then some Yttrium mining expert may be here to explain why that is (or is not) a problem.

  43. 1643
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mark my words, this kind of answer even to a rhetorical question

    >> “what determines the maximum amount of power ….?”
    > The limits of the Carnot cycle.
    > The temperature of solar radiation is 6000C.

    is a classic fail. The question should be answered in terms of efficiency.
    We’ve seen this on all sides and it has to be called bogus because it’s not a useful definition and it’s not an answer that will help anyone understand.
    IMHO.

  44. 1644
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Climategate inquiry stumbles on the start line

    Russell, whose career was devoted to the government of Scotland, announced his panel of six independent experts yesterday. Hours later, one of them – Philip Campbell, editor of Nature – was forced to step down over claims that he is not impartial: last year, Campbell told a Chinese radio station that there was nothing to suggest that the UEA scientists had misbehaved.

  45. 1645
    AxelD says:

    Ray @1639, your synthetic outrage at the “harassment of British scientists organized by Canadian citizens. In one week alone, UEA/CRU received over 60 fraudulent FOI requests …” shows more of that disingenuousness that you’ve shown before.

    The simple fact is that, if the UEA had immediately responded openly to the first request, as they were legally required to do, then there would have been no need for multiple requests to force the issue after a long period of dissembling by the UEA. The fault was entirely with the UEA, and they’ve now reaped the appropriate reward. So then they (and you) try to pretend it’s all the fault of nasty sceptics trying to stop honest scientists pursuing their honest trade. Unbelievable.

    You may be one of the leading Defenders of the Faith, here on RC, but you’re pursuing exactly the same tactics that you accuse the “denialists” of using. Think about it.

  46. 1646
    Ray Ladbury says:

    AxelD, Au contraire, mon cher, my outrage is 100% genuine. What other reaction would be appropriate to the idea that scientists should be spammed with hundreds of FOI requests for data that were available on line to any competent user?
    What is more, the pretense for the requests–that data would be used for academic purposes–was fraudulent. The petitioners never had any intention of using the data at all. The sole purpose of the exercise was to halt progress of climate science at CRU. At the very least, these activities cost the British treasury over $100000 of money that should have gone to advance the science.

    So, I ask, AxelD, where is your outrage? Where is the outrage of the journalists at the perpetration of such a fraud? I mean, I would think that if you were really interested in knowing the truth about climate, you’d want the scientists to be able to do their job.

    Oh, but that’s right. AxelD thinks the truth (as in evidence) is irrelevant.

  47. 1647
    Leighton says:

    Ray (#1639), I see a different problem from the one you harp on. (Or is it “on which you harp?” Oh, well.) Your reply to David Walker just parrots Dr. Jones’ excuse. But CRU was already wrongly refusing to honor FOIA requests even at a time when only a handful had been received. They tended to multiply after spurious grounds were cited in denying the requests, as requesters sought disclosure of the purported facts on which the previous requests were denied. CRU, not the FOIA parties, was responsible for the snowball effect.

    There is no requirement that FOIA requests be made solely for purposes publication in peer reviewed journals. As you know. Nor is “academic research” limited to publication purposes. There has been no serious suggestion by credible persons (present company excepted of course) that McIntyre or others were not acting well within their legal rights. It was the deliberate denial of those rights (and the fraudulent, to use your term, manufacture of baseless justifications for denial) that is the problem here.

  48. 1648
    Gilles says:

    CFU :”“what determines the maximum amount of power (energy/yr/capita) that we can extract from a given technology”
    The limits of the carnot cycle.
    The temperature of solar radiation is 6000C.
    What is the operating temperature of a coal fired power station? Or the steam temperature of a PWR nuclear reactor? 6000C?”

    Nope. I’m not asking about the energy yield, but the human to energy yield (of if you prefer, the average amount of energy available by human work hour). It is related to the proportion of workers you can afford to devote to energy production, and the power they can produce technically. Both being obviously finite and limited, the average power PER CAPITA is surely finite… even on a flat and infinite earth, with an infinite reservoir of solar and wind power. Keep on thinking.

  49. 1649
    Ray Ladbury says:

    No, David, what I want you to do is ask yourself why YOU are focusing your outrage on the scientists. Imagine that you were a climate scientist. You feel you are doing important work. Your are making progress working toward a goal that occupies your every waking moment to the point where you neglect family, friends even your own health.

    Now, all of a sudden in the space of a week, you are spammed with nearly 100 FOI requests and told that you must by law devote at least 18 hours to each one before it can be dismissed. What is more, the requests ask for data that any competent individual should already be able to find on line–or data which you are forbidden to release.

    What is more, it is clear that the requests are part of an orchestrated campaign, each request being identical to the one before it except for the countries. Hell, in some cases, they don’t even bother to specify the countries–just the blank form.

    What would you do, David? Would you sacrifice a year of your life fulfilling these requests knowing that the data would never be used (after all, Steve McI has precisely one peer-reviewed publication to his name)? Or would you dismiss them as a silly attempt to stop progress in your research?

    So, David, are you capable of empathizing with Phil Jones’s feelings when he decided to ignore the clearly frivolous and wasteful requests? Can you blame Russell and Campbell for empathizing with the scientists here?

    Now ask yourself, David, why is all of your anger being directed at the scientists–none at the real source of this episode? Perhaps if you can answer that, you will see why press coverage and public reaction has been so one-sided.

  50. 1650
    Septic Matthew says:

    Meanwhile, here is an improved catalyst for using sunlight to make hydrogen from water:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18511-sunpowered-water-splitter-makes-hydrogen-tirelessly.html