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The wisdom of Solomon

Filed under: — gavin @ 29 January 2010

A quick post for commentary on the new Solomon et al paper in Science express. We’ll try and get around to discussing this over the weekend, but in the meantime I’ve moved some comments over. There is some commentary on this at DotEarth, and some media reports on the story – some good, some not so good. It seems like a topic that is ripe for confusion, and so here are a few quick clarifications that are worth making.

First of all, this is a paper about internal variability of the climate system in the last decade, not on additional factors that drive climate. Second, this is a discussion about stratospheric water vapour (10 to 15 km above the surface), not water vapour in general. Stratospheric water vapour comes from two sources – the uplift of tropospheric water through the very cold tropical tropopause (both as vapour and as condensate), and the oxidation of methane in the upper stratosphere (CH4+2O2 –> CO2 + 2H2O NB: this is just a schematic, the actual chemical pathways are more complicated). There isn’t very much of it (between 3 and 6 ppmv), and so small changes (~0.5 ppmv) are noticeable.

The decreases seen in this study are in the lower stratosphere and are likely dominated by a change in the flux of water through the tropopause. A change in stratospheric water vapour because of the increase in methane over the industrial period would be a forcing of the climate (and is one of the indirect effects of methane we discussed last year), but a change in the tropopause flux is a response to other factors in the climate system. These might include El Nino/La Nina events, increases in Asian aerosols, or solar impacts on near-tropopause ozone – but this is not addressed in the paper and will take a little more work to figure out.

Update: This last paragraph was probably not as clear as it should be. If the lower stratospheric water vapour (LSWV) is relaxing back to some norm after the 1997/1998 El Nino, then what we are seeing would be internal variability in the system which might have some implications for feedbacks to increasing GHGs, and my estimate of that would be that this would be an amplifying feedback (warmer SSTs leading to more LSWV). If we are seeing changes to the tropopause temperatures as an indirect impact from increased Asian aerosol emissions or solar-driven ozone changes, then this might be better thought of as impacting the efficacy of those forcings rather than implying some sensitivity change.

The study includes an estimate of the effect of the observed stratospheric water decadal decrease by calculating the radiation flux with and without the change, and comparing this to the increase in CO2 forcing over the same period. This implicitly assumes that the change can be regarded as a forcing. However, whether that is an appropriate calculation or not needs some careful consideration. Finally, no-one has yet looked at whether climate models (which have plenty of decadal variability too) have phenomena that resemble these observations that might provide some insight into the causes.

487 Responses to “The wisdom of Solomon”

  1. 351
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Rod B : “The same circular logic seems to apply”

    Pithily, but with accuracy: what do you think a feedback CYCLE means?

  2. 352
    David Horton says:

    John P Reisman – “Going back to hunter gatherer?” Hunter gatherers had a very detailed set of observations on weather trends, and water availability, and plant growth. They had old men with long memories and longer traditions. They had people with detailed knowledge about animal abundance and movements, and others in relation to plant distribution and flowering and fruiting. They had meetings where they compared data with neighbouring groups. They wrote down information in the form of maps and long detailed stories. They passed on knowledge to the younger generation. The elders who had the data were treasured and revered.

    If you didn’t do all that you starved, died of thirst, didn’t survive.

  3. 353
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Orbiting Carbon Observatory (atomized in launch failure) to be replaced. Yay! News:

    That’s the news of the week. Fantastic.

  4. 354

    Great wisdom indeed! The Solomon paper really came as a great gift. I have been trying to understand how Hansen argues in the paper further down the
    page and his related recent article

    on the same subject. Hansen claims that “global warming is continuing unabated” right up into the present. This is surprising since his own temperature curves shows that the trend is quite flat. I mentioned this in a few comments to his article here on RC. This generated a number of comments, some of them unfortunately rather scornful with a general message that climate trends cannot be meaningfully measured over such a short period as a decade. There is something to that but then I don’t understand how Hansen can conclude with certainty that global warming is still going on. And if you are to look for recent trend changes you have no choice but to look at recent data.

    Now Solomon and coworkes have done exactly that, looked at recent trends which they found surprisingly flat. The reason for this is a drop in the last decade in the humidity in the stratosphere which partly masks the underlying warming, they claim. In addition, they may have found important physics and possible negative feedback mechanisms which are not reflected in current models. It would be interesting to hear Hansen’s comments to as to why he refused to see the current flat trend in his data which may turn out to have substantial scientific importance. And a comment from Gavin whether he still thinks that the understanding of the physics underlying the modelling of climate change is quite as solid as he claimed a week ago. Who are really the denialists here?

    [Response: If you think my understanding of the physics changes on a week by week basis, that would clearly be you. – gavin]

  5. 355
    David B. Benson says:

    Richard Steckis (349) — Go to Retto Knutti’s publications page to read his (at least) two papers on climate sensitivity, the earlier one being a “comment on Schwartz”. Annan & Hargreaves have (at least) two papers on the subject which are very good.

    I also recommend reading a good summary of
    AGU Day 2: The role of CO2 in the earth#s history (Richard Alley’s talk)

  6. 356
    David B. Benson says:

    Steven Jörsäter (354) — But this just past decade is the warmest on record.

    Tamino, on his Open Mind blog (on the sidebar) has several recent threads devoted to explaining how to interpret this century’s global temperature data.

  7. 357

    Skip Smith says:
    “What? No headlines about the outcome of the Mann investigation at PSU? Or would that be too obvious?”

    The last I heard, PSU cleared Mann of three charges and are still investigating a fourth more closely. Why are you trying to slander a scientist who enagages in science.

    Science, is initially dirty and is made of slime and scientists mud slinging as well as any women’s mud wrestling match. However it’s what these mudslingers have that holds up in the open world wide peer review literature over time that matters.

    It’s why you are not stepping in your own poop, drinking out of a common bucket with thousands of strangers and not murdering yourselves in Salem witch trials any more and why your mother or grandmother probably did not die in childbirth.

    It’s ugly, but its the best system we have…and by and large it works over time.

    If you like saussage, the laws that protect you and keep your neighbor from hitting you over the head, and the benefits from science, you don’t want to see how they are all made. It’s ugly.

    I’ve personally known many publishing scientists over 11 years whose work held up under peer review over time…and some that it does not (not from NCAR, NOAA, NASA, EPA, DOE, but they might exist).

    Some whose work held up over time, frankly were as sweet and non political people as you could ever meet. Others, frankly were prima donnas who were as_ hol_s who no one could stand and no one liked..not even their own families. However, their work still holds up over time whether they were jerks or sweet people.

    Pray tell. What final conclusions has PSU reached against Michael Mann… Please show your evidence. I want evidence, evidence, evidence, not personal slander, not heresay. Publish it dude. I did.

    Even if Michael Mann does get hit on the fourth charge (who knows), Mann’s work has held up over time. This is not to exonerate him, but to give a sense of perspective. Plenty of studies have been freely brought against his studies, Mcintyre, Mckitrick etc but did not hold up.

  8. 358
    Ike Solem says:

    Norman Page says, regarding the IPCC FAR’s section 8.6 on water vapor and cloud cover, that “No sceptic would disagree with that perfectly good statement which clearly means that future temperatures cannot be predicted.”

    Since you want to rely on the IPCC FAR, here is some more in-context material, to help evaluate the question: predictable or not?

    “ Summary of water vapour and lapse fate feedbacks
    Significant progress has been made since the TAR in understanding and evaluating water vapour and lapse rate feedbacks. New tests have been applied to GCMs, and have generally found skill in the representation of large-scale free tropospheric humidity responses to seasonal and interannual variability, volcano-induced cooling and climate trends. New evidence from both observations and models has reinforced the conventional view of a roughly unchanged RH response to warming…

    The abundance of water vapor in the lower stratosphere now appears to complicate this picture a bit, as it appears to amplify the radiative forcing effects of various natural and anthropogenic processes, from El Nino & volcanoes to the industrial leap in methane concentrations. Clouds are a long standing problem, however: Conclusion on cloud feedbacks
    Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable. However, progress has been made in the identification of the cloud types, the dynamical regimes and the regions of the globe responsible for the large spread of cloud feedback estimates among current models.

    That seems more like “predictable with error bars” – and keep in mind, “uncertainty” includes positive anomalies as well as negative ones.

    Consider the basic physics problem, a ball thrown with given velocity and angle – where does it land? The beginning physics student is never instructed to include the force of friction. To make the problem hideously complex, include a strong breeze with occasional random wind gusts, and do the calculations for a golf ball and also for a soccer ball. This introduces a larger range of uncertainty in the prediction. This uncertainty might overwhelm our predictive ability. For example, if we throw a feather into a breeze, who knows where it will end up – but with a golf ball, we have a much better idea. So – is the “climate trajectory” that of a feather or a golf ball?

    Let’s look at predictions of polar amplification, as one example. If the warming paused during the past decade, then why was the loss of Arctic sea ice ahead of the range of model predictions during the past decade? Are the models off? For a nice animation of the Arctic sea ice extent from 1979-2009, see:

    During the 1990s, the lack of climate-model predicted polar amplification, which is now pretty evident, was a central denialist point – now conveniently forgotten. To be much fair, some of the “alarmist” themes, such as the likelihood of extremely rapid climate destabilization due to oceanic “conveyor belt” shutdowns, now also appear less likely. Instead, Britain is getting flooded on a more regular basis – and the ice caps steadily, but slowly, drip away – as per projections. That looks pretty good compared to econometric modeling, doesn’t it?

    P.S. Regarding the Himalayan glacier issue:

    “Black Carbon a Significant Factor in Melting of Himalayan Glaciers, Feb 4 2010”

    Thhu most effective short-term step to reduce the rate of glacial melt could be to limit the sources of black carbon in the region – which include combustion of coal & dung/biomass in both domestic and industrial settings, as well as particulate emissions from diesel and ship bunker fuel. Energy options that don’t involve additional CO2 emissions would thus be solar, nuclear and wind – and although household- or village-scale nuclear is unlikely, that’s not the case for solar and wind.

  9. 359
    Richard Steckis says:

    “Response: Plus note that neither of those studies have stood the test of time. Foster et al, (2008); Schwartz (2008); Annan and Hargreaves (2009). – gavin]”

    Criticisms from single papers does not make the criticisms correct or negate the original papers. If there was an outpouring of criticism then I might be more convinced.

    [Response: Why would the community bother? People don’t write a dozen papers making the same points. Instead, people read the responses and judge for themselves whether they have merit. And in these cases they do – even Schwartz updated his estimate in the 2008 paper! Are you now declaring that he doesn’t know his own mind? It seems to me that you are just picking on numbers that you like without looking into how they are derived or the obvious problems with them (all of which were amply demonstrated in the comments). That might work great in comment threads, but don’t confuse it with actual science. – gavin]

  10. 360

    #352 David Horton

    True. But they did not have satellites ;)

    Of course I’m not saying the hunter/gatherers were without understanding of various sorts. I do think our modern scientific understanding of cycles are somewhat more wrought in detail and understanding.

    My point to Anand of course being should we stop trying to understand climate and abandon the wisdom, study, understanding and traditions passed on by “old men with long memories and longer traditions” or the more recent scientists that use more modern observational technology?

    More specifically I am trying to point out to Anand, since he said scientists should stop asking for money for research, that it would probably be a bad idea to stop such relevant research.

  11. 361
    tharanga says:

    Off topic, but in light of the current El Nino and the impressively warm recent satellite readings:

    I’ve always been curious about El Ninos: To what extent do they merely re-distribute heat, and to what extent are there also changes in radiative transfer?

    While it may be difficult to track energy flows around the planet (as Trenberth so colorfully put it), it should be really easy to track energy flows within a model run. And models do have some ENSO-like behavior.

    So has anybody published a paper about their model results, discussing ENSO in the context of my question?

  12. 362
    gary thompson says:

    since this topic is related to absorption in the atmosphere i figure this is the best place to post this request/question.

    i’ve been reading the articles on RC relating to CO2 saturation and i really enjoyed the part I (Weart) and part II (Raypierre) articles – well done and i learned a lot. all of this helps me understand the explanation that CO2 in the troposphere isn’t all that matters and that you have to look at what gets absorbed in the stratasphere as well and the experiments with tubes in a lab were all good to support this but have we performed the ultimate experiment (in my opinion) that will prove what amount of IR wavelengths get absorbed vs. what escapes? the tubes only contained CO2 and didn’t account for lower pressures at higher altitudes so it would be interesting to see how this theory holds out under real conditions. is it possible to put a satellite with an IR detector in space and then aim finely tuned IR wavelengths (those that cause CO2
    molecules to vibrate the most ~13-17um) at that detector and see what the attenuation is? this could be done at varying times of the year, different latitudes, etc. This type of experiment was talked about in the part II article and i might be oversimplifying the complexity (not to mention the tight funding) of this project but i would have to think this is important. Hubble can ‘see’ in the near IR (with NICMOS) but that only goes up to about 1um if memory serves me correctly so we can’t use what is already up there. has this already been done?

  13. 363
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Oh, brother, do not let me near a calculator before I’ve had coffee. Earlier I said:

    “Let’s say for argument’s sake a perpendicular sun angle. You’re looking at absorption of roughly 950W/m2 for water versus 700W/m2 for ice, so 250W/m2 difference. Using some of the slightly less dramatic anomaly figures from the Arctic, that leads to a difference of about 350GW increased absorption during August when comparing the beginning and end of the Arctic ice anomaly record, not using 2007. Work that into joules captured in August and it’s a pretty staggering amount of heat. That number can be refined of course and I’m sure it’ll get smaller if the maths are done with actual insolation angles, but the point is how much area we’re talking about; seemingly small differences stack up pretty fast. ”

    Actually, the rough answer is 350TW, not 350GW. Big Oops. Big enough number to exceed my intuitive numeracy…

    This sort of speaks to my current monomaniacal bent on ocean heat. The ocean can swallow truly stupendous amounts of energy without even chewing. But if it burps some heat back out, just a little eructation from the ocean’s perspective, it can set all the little pinwheels in the atmosphere to spinning frantically, even blowing away.

  14. 364
    Clark Lampson says:

    I see the UAH sat temp anomaly for Jan 2010 just came in at a record. Since these are monthly anomalies, is there a seasonal adjustment to the actual computed monthly temp, i.e. might January be cooler than July for the same anomaly value, because of different monthly corrections? I no the globe is round, but there are differences in land/ocean ratios etc, so I could see a seasonal adjustment. Just interested, I know it does not make much difference which way it is done, seasonally adjusted or not.

  15. 365
    Clark Lampson says:

    If GISS shows as much of a pop as UAH for Jan 2010, will the 12-month period from Feb1 2009 to Jan 31, 2010 be the hottest 12-month period in the instrumental record?

  16. 366
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Steven Jörsäter says: 4 February 2010 at 6:17 PM

    “And a comment from Gavin whether he still thinks that the understanding of the physics underlying the modelling of climate change is quite as solid as he claimed a week ago. ”

    A week ago, a year ago, a decade ago researchers engaged in this field were discussing natural variability. They are -still- discussing natural variability, today. The difference today? They have a specific path of inquiry suggested by Solomon, one that may explain part of that variability.

    You have a problem with this? What, exactly?

  17. 367
    SoundOff says:

    This is causing me some headaches in my attempts to fight off trolls. It’s starting to show up repeatedly.


    I think the idea is … If the data is wrong, then the science doesn’t matter.

    Is there an article/study to refute this nonsense?

    [Response: Some links here. – gavin]

  18. 368
    Completely Fed Up says:

    David Horton: “They had meetings where they compared data with neighbouring groups. They wrote down information in the form of maps and long detailed stories.”

    They had people who said if you sacrificed to the Lion God, you wouldn’t get eaten by lions on your hunt. When you did anyway, that was because the ways of the Lion God are ineffable and maybe you hadn’t meant it anyway, so the sacrifice didn’t count.

    These hunter gatherers had different ideas. Some thought it was a different Cat God.

    And the sharing of their information led to a war of the Cat people vs Lion people.

    Please also pop along to the FDA and ask that all medical trial data be released as soon as the data is collected, so it can be shared.

    If they say yes, wait for the howls of protest from GSK…

  19. 369
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Skip: “We don’t need solidarity. We need competent scientists.”

    We have them, skippy.

    Pachuri being replaced won’t stop the replacement from being demonised by the brainwashing PR.

    After all, Pachuri was a US denialist lobby proposal for the chair, so the most likely to be acceptable to the denialists.

    But they still turn on him.

    We don’t need solidarity, but we don’t need to take useless action, and sacking Pachuri is not going to change a thing. Imagine if Al Gore or James Hansen were given the role? Al would be demonised as not a scientist in charge of a scientist commission, James as not being a politician because the policy decisions are part of a Politicians’ remit: they have to get reelected so have to listen to the populace.

  20. 370

    SJ: the trend is quite flat.

    BPL: No, it is not. I don’t think you understand what a “trend” is in statistics.

  21. 371
    Neil says:

    AGW just got outsourced. The consensus on Asian AGW is now clearly a brawl. So the glacial debate is on. Ike, suggesting the 30 million Biharis give up dung and diesel is Bal Thackerian in it hubris and potentially perceived elitism.

    [Response: Actually I think this is very useful. The US, the UK, Canada etc. all have national bodies to look in more detail at climate change impacts and issues. India and China clearly have interests in doing similarly and can easily afford to. They get to use more local knowledge and can talk more directly to the local stakeholders and indeed can help inform the international bodies like the IPCC. All the big countries should do likewise. – gavin]

  22. 372
    CrisisMaven says:

    As for time series and statistical data etc.: I have just added an Statistical Reference Inventory ( to my economics blog with economic and statistical data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers, probably the most comprehensive on the Internet. Currently over 200 meta sources, it will soon grow to over a thousand and include Climate Dataas well. Check it out and if you miss something, feel free to leave a comment.

  23. 373
    Ani says:

    Thanks for the post at 316. So awaiting further details let me throw this out. Since the decrease in water vapour is in the lower stratosphere may be caused by the flux from the trop. If the trop has less moisture to advect, the lapse rate should increase making it cooler. Divergence can also make it cooler but I would think that that would equal out. Now I would expect El Nino to change this. I wouldn’t expect the long term trend to change just that it will be a roller coaster ride. Thanks

  24. 374
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “BPL: No, it is not. I don’t think you understand what a “trend” is in statistics.”

    Or, indeed, what “flat” means.

  25. 375
    Completely Fed Up says:

    gary: “but have we performed the ultimate experiment (in my opinion) that will prove what amount of IR wavelengths get absorbed vs. what escapes?”

    Yes, we’re burning fossil fuels. However, we didn’t intend to run this experiment since we don’t have a spare earth to live on.

    We also know from IR satellite images of earth at different IR wavelengths that the earth appears cooler at CO2 absorption wavelengths and warmer at others.

    So yes, most definitely.

    Can we please stop the experiment now?

  26. 376
    Molnar says:

    gary thompson (362):

    “has this already been done?”


  27. 377

    BPL [370] “SJ: the trend is quite flat.

    BPL: No, it is not. I don’t think you understand what a “trend” is in statistics.”

    Perhaps not. But in that case I have good company. A quote from Solomon’s paper : “However, the trend in global surface temperatures has been
    nearly flat since the late 1990s…”

    Go tell her instead. If you dare!

  28. 378

    #368 Completely Fed Up

    Re. David Horton #352

    I like your answer better. It gives good context. One might imagine the mysteries pondered in data sharing 20,000 years ago and the many beliefs that were considered. While various degrees of civilization were achieved, the challenges of the time can not be underestimated.

    I used to use a descriptor something like: If the rains don’t come, then sacrifice another virgin, if the rains don’t come then sacrifice another virgin… and so on, until you know ‘scientifically’ how many virgins need to be sacrifice to make the rains come.

    There is something to be said for the ‘modern’ scientific method.

  29. 379
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Septic Matthew says: 3 February 2010 at 4:20 PM
    > Hank Roberts, if that information was incorrect, and you didn’t say it was,
    > link to better information. Everybody has an agenda

    Sorry, Matthew, that’s your entire post and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Probably you linked to some opinion site with an obvious agenda. You should look at the original science, at its publisher’s site, and point to that if you are using it to support something you want to say — don’t use someone else’s opinion as your source, use the source of the claimed statement.

  30. 380
    flxible says:

    Steven: a bit of difference [in science, statistics & semantics] between “nearly flat” and “quite flat”, particularly with respect to “trends”, short or long term

  31. 381
    Eli Rabett says:

    The fracas between Richard Steckis and Gavin earlier in this thread has inspired Eli to pontificate about the atmospheric methane oxidation mechanism in some detail, and in an understandable and friendly manner.

    [Response: Thanks. Much better! – gavin]

  32. 382
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “A quote from Solomon’s paper : “However, the trend in global surface temperatures has been
    nearly flat since the late 1990s…”

    Go tell her instead. If you dare!”

    Yeah, now nearly flat isn’t flat.

    And if she wants to hear “you’re wrong”, she can come on here and read it.

    Or maybe you’re quoting here selectively.

  33. 383
    Rod B says:

    Doug Bostrom (348), I roughly calculated about 330 watts/m^2 difference, compared to your 250 — which I assume is just the choice within the range of albedos. But if you apply a 23 degree incidence angle the difference drops to about 130 watts. Then an estimate of the difference in IR emissions says 100 watts more leaving the water than the ice based on the different emissivities. That makes the net difference “only” 30 watts. Though I would agree that is too large for a throw-away figure and does add up faster than a gut feel would indicate. [plus my 100 watts is somewhat overstated as I used average global surface temperature instead of the lower average Arctic surface temperature.]

    Thanks for the link.

  34. 384
    Norman Page says:

    To various commentators on my post 315 re the AR4 8.6 climate sensitivity section I would be perfectly happy to amend my statement to say future temperatures cannot be predicted …..with anything approaching the certainty required to justify massive changes in the global economy to reduce CO2.

  35. 385

    DOD’s Quadrennial Defense Review Report for first time declares that human caused global warming (anthropogencic climate change) is a national defence threat (Feb 2010):

    “With this statement, it is clear that action is needed to prevent climate change in the cause of American safety and security. The longer the we delay, the longer these threats have time to gather,”

    “The global instability caused by droughts, floods, and famine will mean more threats to our security and more soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines put into harm’s way. ”

    The Review has never before included statements about the threat of climate change, highlighting a defense community consensus that “climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, increase the spread of disease, and may help spur mass migration,” all threats to regional and international security

  36. 386
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Norman, why are you happy to say that there will be massive changes in the global economy ***in a way that would otherwise wish to be avoided***


    Where is your theory, the physics behind it and the proofs that the theory fits reality?

  37. 387
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Rod B (383) however, the doubling of CO2 that would cause between a 2 and 4.5C warming is merely 4W per square meter.

    The albedo effect you wish to ascribe is 40x that.


    Therefore a 3.4-16.6C rise in temperatures.

  38. 388
    Anand Rajan KD says:

    Regarding your “They get to use more local knowledge and can talk more directly to the local stakeholders…”

    So you are saying when the IPCC pontificates to us using Himalayan glacier ‘data’, it is a global ‘policy-neutral’ scientific document, and when a country like India convenes a climate body, they are generating ‘local knowledge’?

    Please do not read this question as a hostile comment. Parse it through your inner Edward Said filter and think about what you said. Acknowledging that, if India were to formalize this body, it would be a blow to the IPCC’s stature should not be a problem too – that was the point of the original poster.

    If quality knowledge about the state of the Himalayan glaciers is made available to the world, it should, climatalogically speaking, have global implications. Irrespective of the source of this knowledge.

    Isn’t that the accepted doctrine of the day?

    It was very funny to watch Pachauri writhing like the earnest snake that tries to chew its own tail off – “Alarmist temperature rise has taken place because the glaciers have melted. The glaciers have melted because alarming temperature rise has taken place.”

    I also just love how phrases like ‘local stakeholders’ roll so easily off your tongue these days.


    [Response: Don’t you tired of misunderstanding and misrepresenting things? I certainly would. Come back when you have something intelligent to contribute. -gavin]

  39. 389
    David B. Benson says:

    tharanga (361) — ENSO just redistributes. For simplicity, just use Stefan’s Law on the redistributed result to rough out the radiative effects.

  40. 390
    David Horton says:

    On hunter-gatherers. I think my comment has been misunderstood. John P Reisman said “What are you advocating? Going back to hunter gatherer?” in the sense that this would be a return to having no evidence about climate and environment. I was pointing out that, on the contrary (and I am thinking here particularly of Australian Aborigines, but the same would apply to all recent hunter gatherers), hunter gatherers of necessity have a wide and detailed knowledge of environment and climate passed down through the generations, a matter of survival. In a sense, the rise of science, and science bodies like the IPCC, are a belated return to hunter gatherer times, again for survival. The denialists don’t want to take us back to hunter gatherer times, but instead to the middle ages, where religion ruled and natural events were the result of supernatural agents.

  41. 391
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Norman Page give risk management advice:”To various commentators on my post 315 re the AR4 8.6 climate sensitivity section I would be perfectly happy to amend my statement to say future temperatures cannot be predicted …..with anything approaching the certainty required to justify massive changes in the global economy to reduce CO2.”

    I would be perfectly happy to amend my statement to say that whether my house will burn cannot be predicted …with anything approaching the certainty required to justify spending money on insurance.

  42. 392
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Steven Jorsater in reply to a criticism about the use of the word trend: “Perhaps not. But in that case I have good company. A quote from Solomon’s paper : “However, the trend in global surface temperatures has been
    nearly flat since the late 1990s…”

    Go tell her instead. If you dare!”

    If Susan Solomon claims the trend is significant, I will tell her. However, she is not stupid, so I doubt I ever will have the opportunity.

    Compare to what Steve J did:”Hansen claims that “global warming is continuing unabated” right up into the present. This is surprising since his own temperature curves shows that the trend is quite flat.”

    The flatness is not statistically significant, is noise, global warming continues unabated. When the January 2010 satellite temp hit a new record, did the sudden T jump come about because of super-fast warming, global warming gone wild? No. It is the usual fluctuations on top of an unabated trend up.

  43. 393
    Louise D says:

    quoted on BBC News 12:08 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

    India backs embattled climate chief Pachauri.
    PM Manmohan Singh said India had “full confidence” in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its chairman, Dr Pachauri…..”Some aspects of the science that is reflected in the work of IPCC have faced criticism, but this debate does not challenge the core projections of the IPCC about the impact of [greenhouse gases] on temperature, sea-level rise and rainfall,” he said.

    “India has full confidence in the IPCC process and its leadership and will support it in every way that we can.”
    quoted on BBC news

  44. 394
    Ike Solem says:

    Anand, if you don’t like the IPCC, for whatever reason, try looking at other reports & reviews that are based on peer-reviewed science. Try this:

    United States Global Change Research Program (USGCR) Report, June 2009 – or download it directly at:

    Witness these trends: In the northeastern U.S., winter temperatures have increased by 4 degrees F since 1970; in the Pacific Northwest, the depth of the Cascade Mountain snowpack on April 1 has declined by 25 percent over the last half century, while spring runoff from the Cascades now occurs nearly a month earlier than 50 years ago; and in Alaska, winter temperatures have increased a stunning 6.3 degrees F in the last 50 years.

    That’s the work of some 60 or so scientists, writers and technicians, independently reviewed by another dozen government scientists, and signed off on by the heads of NOAA and the White House office of Science & Technology Policy. Just a conspiracy?

  45. 395
    Anand Rajan KD says:

    I asked many questions about Frank et al. They were worded politely.

    There is no misrepresenation. Please understand there are many different perspectives possible.


  46. 396

    SJ: Perhaps not. But in that case I have good company. A quote from Solomon’s paper : “However, the trend in global surface temperatures has been nearly flat since the late 1990s…”

    Go tell her instead. If you dare!

    BPL: Give me her email address and I will. In the meantime, ten years is too small to find a climate trend. If you want to LEARN WHY, here’s an explanation:

    If, on the other hand, you DON’T want to learn why, because you’re convinced you already know, then it’s kind of pointless for me to say anything to you. But I will continue to correct your mistakes for the sake of anyone who might be taken in by them.

  47. 397
    Ike Solem says:

    Neil says, “Ike, suggesting the 30 million Biharis give up dung and diesel is Bal Thackerian in it hubris and potentially perceived elitism.”

    Hardly – you ever try cooking over a dung fire? Or breathe the fumes from old diesel engines with no filters at all? How about doing that on a daily basis for twenty years? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

    Solar cookers and electric vehicles are hugely preferable. For a good video displaying the benefits of solar-powered cooking over village wood, dung and coal fires, see:

    The Kyoto Box – Solar cooker comes of age – 14 Nov 09

    Likewise, if these small villages can get lo-ans for solar power for pumping water and for LED lighting for homes, it would vastly improve their quality of lives.

    How is that “hubris and elitism?” Fuel costs are prohibitive for villagers, and deforestation for fuel is a huge problem. For a long time, the large international aid agencies – like the World Bank – have been refusing to finance such efforts in favor of the typical large-scale resource extraction projects, which have failed again and again to fix the problems.

    These developing countries have a unique and historical opportunity to leapfrog past the entire fossil fuel era, and go straight from primarily agricultural economies to technological economies while avoiding most of the problems of the fossil-fueled industrial era.

    To do this, they’ll have to rely on technology that is small, light and durable – not on the grossly wasteful clunkers of the 20th century fossil fuel economies, who built an economic empire based on excessive consumption – but they’ll need the assistance of already industrialized nations with robust renewable energy programs.

    They sure won’t need “clean coal” technology, however – but dung-to-methane systems might be a good idea for cleaner small-scale energy production.

    Unlike with coal gasification, the carbon produced from a “dung gasification” system was recently in the atmosphere, was fixed by a plant, then eaten by a cow – hence, converting dung methane back to atmospheric CO2 produces zero CO2 growth, unlike with coal-based gasoline and methane.

  48. 398

    NP: To various commentators on my post 315 re the AR4 8.6 climate sensitivity section I would be perfectly happy to amend my statement to say future temperatures cannot be predicted …..with anything approaching the certainty required to justify massive changes in the global economy to reduce CO2.

    BPL: As amended, your statement is still wrong.

  49. 399
    steven dobbs says:

    could particulate emissions from emerging economies be further reducing sunlight reaching the surface? this would cut off the supply of water vapour by reducing humidity and perhaps accelerating precipitation through cloud seeding, drying the atmosphere.

  50. 400
    Stefan N says:

    Don’t know if you already heard this, and if this is the right place to link to it. Feel free to remove my post if you find it inappropriate.