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Unforced variations 2

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 January 2010

Continuation of the open thread. Please use these threads to bring up things that are creating ‘buzz’ rather than having news items get buried in comment threads on more specific topics. We’ll promote the best responses to the head post.

Knorr (2009): Case in point, Knorr (GRL, 2009) is a study about how much of the human emissions are staying the atmosphere (around 40%) and whether that is detectably changing over time. It does not undermine the fact that CO2 is rising. The confusion in the denialosphere is based on a misunderstanding between ‘airborne fraction of CO2 emissions’ (not changing very much) and ‘CO2 fraction in the air’ (changing very rapidly), led in no small part by a misleading headline (subsequently fixed) on the ScienceDaily news item Update: MT/AH point out the headline came from an AGU press release (Sigh…). SkepticalScience has a good discussion of the details including some other recent work by Le Quéré and colleagues.

Update: Some comments on the John Coleman/KUSI/Joe D’Aleo/E. M. Smith accusations about the temperature records. Their claim is apparently that coastal station absolute temperatures are being used to estimate the current absolute temperatures in mountain regions and that the anomalies there are warm because the coast is warmer than the mountain. This is simply wrong. What is actually done is that temperature anomalies are calculated locally from local baselines, and these anomalies can be interpolated over quite large distances. This is perfectly fine and checkable by looking at the pairwise correlations at the monthly stations between different stations (London-Paris or New York-Cleveland or LA-San Francisco). The second thread in their ‘accusation’ is that the agencies are deleting records, but this just underscores their lack of understanding of where the GHCN data set actually comes from. This is thoroughly discussed in Peterson and Vose (1997) which indicates where the data came from and which data streams give real time updates. The principle one is the CLIMAT updates of monthly mean temperature via the WMO network of reports. These are distributed by the Nat. Met. Services who have decided which stations they choose to produce monthly mean data for (and how it is calculated) and is absolutely nothing to do with NCDC or NASA.

Further Update: NCDC has a good description of their procedures now available, and Zeke Hausfather has a very good explanation of the real issues on the Yale Forum.


1,394 Responses to “Unforced variations 2”

  1. 1101
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic says, “In 40 years the average temp will rise about 0.5C and the sea level will rise at most 40cm.”

    Based on? We are projected to have 2 degrees temperature rise from pre-industrial leves for a CO2 concentration of 450 ppmv. BAU puts us much closer to the 500-600 ppmv range, equating to a best estimate of a 2.5-3.3 degree increase. Now granted, we will likely not be quite at equilibrium by then, just as we are not at equilibrium now. However, that would put us well into the dangerous range for climate change. Please read the Nature Geo paper by Reto Knutti. It does a pretty good job of summarizing the situation and the risks.

    Septic: “Either way, there will not be a disappearance of civilization from China, India, S. Korea, Japan, or the US (except possibly New Orleans.)”

    Based on 100% wishful thinking on your part.

  2. 1102
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Wright says, “If you mean the known properties of CO2 to absorb IR, then that is correct. The projections we keep hearing go far beyond the warming attributable to the known properties of CO2.”

    Have you read “The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes,” by Knutti and Hegerl, Nature Geo? It does an excellent job of summarizing the independent lines of evidence that lead us to a conclusion that CO2 sensitivity is between 2.1 and 4.5 degrees per doubling. It also summarizes pretty well how risks increase, depending on the value of that critical sensitivity. It is also very readable.

    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

  3. 1103
    Septic Matthew says:

    1101 Ray Ladbury: We are projected to have 2 degrees temperature rise from pre-industrial leves for a CO2 concentration of 450 ppmv. BAU puts us much closer to the 500-600 ppmv range, equating to a best estimate of a 2.5-3.3 degree increase.

    That’s over a time span of 2 centuries: pre-industrial to 2100. I wrote about the forecast change over the next 40 years, i.e. 2010 to 2050.

  4. 1104
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Barton Paul Levenson says:
    18 January 2010 at 5:27 AM

    DW: I really cannot think of anyone in particular who is anti-science.

    BPL: Half the Republican Party?”

    That’s harsh, BPL. It’s half the VOLUME OF NOISE from the republican party.

    How loud does Beck scream? Rush? But they are just one person each. Yet they *seem* a lot more.

  5. 1105
    Ray Ladbury says:

    No, Matthew, that is for equilibrium, and we don’t know how quickly equilibrium will be reached. Half a degree in 40 years would be consistent with the lower range of possible sensitivities, assuming we get about half way to equilibrium by then.

  6. 1106
  7. 1107
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 1076 David Wright says:

    “Surely you don’t mean to imply that all sceptics are creationists? That would be a very unscientific conclusion.”

    Certainly not. I wouldn’t even go so far as to suggest that the most benighted denialist was a creationist, though this could be true. The fossil record is direct concrete evidence of evolution. The evidence for CO2 AGW (not GW) is harder to tease out of the evidence. Some people have to see it to believe it.

    How do you see CO2 warming on a molecular level? Or any level? …this would be an interesting animation, wouldn’t it? If you produce an animation demonstrating a compelling depiction of the theory of CO2 warming, and how humankind aggravates it with emissions, and publish it for TV, I want a cut.

  8. 1108
    Walter Manny says:

    From “sHx” over a month ago. Making the contrarian headlines now, no response at all on RC. Not worthy of a response? The head of the IPCC?

    “This may be a little Off-Topic. BBC reports that the IPCC’s 2007 report regarding Himalayan glaciers is “wildly inaccurate”…by 300 years!!! It turns out that the IPCC’s finding that 80% of the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 was based on, as RK Pachauri is quoted saying, “voodoo science”. The correct year should have been 2335! The mistake was made because it turns out the IPCC relied on “unpublished” documents. I don’t want to be alarmist about this but the science wildly unsettling. It took two years to identify and report the error. Truly worrying, no?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8387737.stm

    [Response: Or, in two years of intense scrutiny, this is the worst mistake that has been found. NB. Pachauri's comment (I think) was in regards to a rather poor single-author assessment (also un-peer reviewed as it happens) of the undisputed Himalayan glacier retreat. - gavin]

  9. 1109
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Surely you don’t mean to imply that all sceptics are creationists?”

    No, but they ARE anti science, David.

    Of course, nobody said this and this is a silly and easily discredited argument.

    Or, in other words, a strawman argument.

  10. 1110
    Tim Jones says:

    Re” 1108 Walter Manny says:

    “From “sHx” over a month ago. Making the contrarian headlines now, no response at all on RC. Not worthy of a response?”

    “Pachauri’s comment (I think) was in regards to a rather poor single-author assessment (also un-peer reviewed as it happens) of the undisputed Himalayan glacier retreat. – gavin]”

    See also a response in the comments to 2009 temperatures by Jim Hansen

    Comment #76.
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/297875satellite-images-show-himalayan-glacier-receded-15-km-in-30-years.html

    It has yet to be positively shown to be an egregious error insofar as Himalayan glacial retreat is concerned.

  11. 1111
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Tim #1110,

    if glaciologists as a community seem to agree that this mistake is real, we better believe it.

    I read somewhere that two reasons why this went so long unnoticed were
    1) it was in WG2, not WG1 where the physical scientists are and which is most in the spotlight, and
    2) this never made it to the SPM.

    Ah well… Murphy. Funny the Auditors didn’t find it.

  12. 1112
    David B. Benson says:

    David Wright (1067) — I suggest you find the plans against SLR by century’s end in The Netherlands, Britian and California. I all three cases the plans are designed around the expectation of 1+ m SLR.

  13. 1113
    Hank Roberts says:

    … a $2 million grant from NSF to investigate a diesel-producing fungus…. to optimize the production of hydrocarbon-rich vapors from Gliocladium roseum.

    http://www.biofilm.montana.edu/Res-Lib99-SW/newsarchives/HTML/2009/Fungal-Biodiesel_ResearchersInterviews.pdf

  14. 1114
    David Wright says:

    dhogaza:
    “You really are exposing your ignorance to us …

    Yet, presumably, as a journalist, you’re writing authoritatively to you audience?”

    Lighten up friend!;-)

    There is no shame in ignorance, it’s a human trait we all share. I’m working to decrease mine, like everyone else here.

    Why do you presume that I am a journalist? I have already addressed that myth here. (pardon me if you too are a newcomer and missed the post)

    A journalist would fear exposing his ignorance.

  15. 1115
    David Wright says:

    David Benson:

    “I suggest you find the plans against SLR by century’s end in The Netherlands, Britian and California. I all three cases the plans are designed around the expectation of 1+ m SLR”

    They are wise to plan for sea level rise. Sea levels have been rising consistently for 10,000 years.

  16. 1116
    dhogaza says:

    Why do you presume that I am a journalist? I have already addressed that myth here. (pardon me if you too are a newcomer and missed the post)

    Yes, I missed it. I read RealClimate regularly, but don’t claim to read every post.

  17. 1117
    dhogaza says:

    David Wright says …

    There is no shame in ignorance, it’s a human trait we all share

    Followed by another uncited statement of authoritative knowledge, with no tinge of self-awareness of possible ignorance:

    They are wise to plan for sea level rise. Sea levels have been rising consistently for 10,000 years.

    Yet a moment in Google finds this:

    The findings indicate that glacial rebound — the rise or fall of land masses that were depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period — explains differences in relative sea levels along the English coast. Current sea levels in Northeast England, the most northerly study area, have been receding to their present level for the past 4,000 years.

    “recede” is not a synonym for “increase”.

  18. 1118
    Doug Bostrom says:

    David Wright says: 18 January 2010 at 1:57 PM

    “Sea levels have been rising consistently for 10,000 years.”

    Rather than reply to the effect that forest fires have been erupting since forests emerged on the planet and thus we may safely ignore the effects of building homes in forests, let me point out instead that of all the observations tracking AGW, ice loss seems to be where we’re making our most serious “misunderestimations” as George the Younger might put it.

    As George the Elder might say, it wouldn’t be prudent to assume we can count on 1m of sea level rise.

  19. 1119
    David B. Benson says:

    David Wright (115) — Almost no change, globally, in about 2000 years:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Sea_Level.png
    Better think again about why those engineers are making plans against a substantial SLR.

  20. 1120
    tamino says:

    David Wright:

    They are wise to plan for sea level rise. Sea levels have been rising consistently for 10,000 years.

    Why do you persist in making offhand remarks rooted it astounding ignorance?

    Here’s your assignment: find out the truth about sea level rise, for the last 10,000 years, for the last 200 years, and for the last 30 years. Report back when you’ve learned something. Until then, stop embarrassing yourself.

  21. 1121
    RB says:

    Addresses a post I made much earlier in this thread regarding climate science’s usage of feedback. Clearly, it is the same as used in other fields and therefore Wikipedia is in error in claiming unbounded growth due to positive feedback.
    http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/pdf/chapter13_figs.pdf

  22. 1122
    RB says:

    Dr. Curry’s description of the linear feedback model is here:
    http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/pdf/Ch13_GalleyC.pdf

  23. 1123
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 1111 Martin Vermeer says:

    Tim #1110,
    “if glaciologists as a community seem to agree that this mistake is real, we better believe it.”

    I agree the IPCC’s mistake is real insofar as it included the information the way it did.

    “Funny the Auditors didn’t find it.”

    Yes, it must be very embarrassing for them to lose such a coup to the IPCCs own people
    after all this time.

    But I wrote: “It has yet to be positively shown to be an egregious error insofar as Himalayan
    glacial retreat is concerned.”

    The disputed idea of Himalayan glacier retreat is not so easy to resolve. Vijay Kumar Raina’s
    paper: “Himalayan Glaciers: A State-of-Art Review of Glacial Studies, Glacial Retreat and Climate Change”, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/326/5955/924
    has been discredited by Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/297875satellite-images-show-himalayan-glacier-receded-15-km-in-30-years.html
    (excerpt)
    Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, blasted the research, calling it “unsubstantiated” and said “ We do need more extensive measurement of the Himalayan range but it is clear from satellite pictures what is happening.” He likened the explanations to “climate change deniers and school boy science”.

    Most recent news is here:
    Indian Ecology Minister Ramesh says ‘I was right on glaciers’ melting
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/304455,indian-ecology-minister-ramesh-says-i-was-right-on-glaciers-melting.html
    Mon, 18 Jan 2010
    (excerpt)
    “New Delhi – India’s Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh Monday said “I was right on the glaciers” while maintaining that the Himalayan glaciers are “indeed” receding, which is a cause for great concern, but the view that these rivers of ice would melt down completely by 2035 due to global warning is “alarmist” and without any scientific basis.”

    On the other hand there are these observations and opinions:

    On Thinner Ice: New photography project provides stark proof of melting glaciers on the roof of the world.
    http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/20/david-breashears-himalayan-glaciers-photos-global-warming/
    November 20th, 2009

    On Thinner Ice
    http://www.asiasociety.org/onthinnerice
    01-18-10

    Himalayan Glaciers Decapitated
    http://climateprogress.org/2008/11/26/another-climate-impact-comes-faster-than-predicted-himalayan-glaciers-decapitated/

    Lost Horizons: Melting glaciers in Kashmir causing regional chaos over water shortages
    http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/13/melting-glaciers-kashmir-regional-chaos-water-shortages/
    July 13th, 2009

    Graph of the Day: Ice Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Caps, 1961-2004
    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2009/08/graph-of-day-ice-mass-balance-of.html

    The condition of Himalayan glaciers is controversial. Considering how many of the forecasts we have for global warming being overridden with new information indicating it’s proceeding faster than anyone suspected, it would seem wise to invoke the precautionary principle and get with the program.

  24. 1124
    KTB says:

    Thanks for all your responses. One more issue I’m having to try to explain.

    The issue about the Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035 according to IPCC:
    Is this an honest mistake, and if so why are the IPCC folks so “difficult” about it?

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18363-debate-heats-up-over-ipcc-melting-glaciers-claim.html

    “The IPCC’s chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, has hit back, denouncing the Indian government report as “voodoo science” lacking peer review. He adds that “we have a very clear idea of what is happening” in the Himalayas.”

    So are the Himalayan glaciers actually “very likely” disappering by 2035 according to the IPCC? Is this the view of people studying the field (it would seem not according to the articles)

    Another article:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6991177.ece

    This has been asked a couple of times in this thread. It’s ok if this is an honest mistake, but from the interviews I’ve read IPCC seems to stick by this “very likely” scenario?

    This doesn’t of course affect the big picture in any way, but the IPCC should use a high standard when assigning probabilities or the “skeptics” will use this to confuse issues.

    [Response: The 2035 number seems to have been plucked from thin air, and so I doubt anyone is going to support that. Whether the Indian Govt. report is or is not 'voodoo science', is not really the same issue at all. That report doesn't even mention IPCC or the 2035 number. There are some odd claims in the chapter on global warming but the whole thing has the feel of half a conversation where you are not privy to the other half. It's ironic that it isn't peer-reviewed either. However, even that report points out that glacier retreat is very widespread in the region. - gavin]

  25. 1125
    Completely Fed Up says:

    David: “They are wise to plan for sea level rise. Sea levels have been rising consistently for 10,000 years.”

    Another protip, for you david: wrong. And again you make statements as if they were true without knowing them.

    David, it’s been 12000 years since the ice retreated, 15,000 since the putative end of the ice age. Few ice ages last over 22,000 years.

    Given this, please explain why you submit that the sea levels have been RISING since after the half-way point?

    Check this graph here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vostok-ice-core-petit.png

    Notice how the temperature shoots up at the end of an ice age (over 12000 years ago, remember), then slowly drops down then drops more precipitously over thousands of years.

    Do ice caps take up seawater when the globe cools?

    I’d always thought so.

    But maybe you have an insight I lack. Please let me hear it.

  26. 1126
    KTB says:

    (you don’t have to post this, just thanking you)
    Thanks for your responses and stamina amidst this flood of questions :)
    I have ordered some of your books (archer’s, mann’s and schmidt’s for now) as a token of appreciation (and out of interest).

  27. 1127
    KTB says:

    Some more info on the Himalayas:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=a92m7lbAaQQc

    “We are looking at the issue and will be able to comment on the report after examining the facts. The science doesn’t change: Glaciers are melting across the globe and those in the Himalayas are no different,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’re not changing anything till we make an assessment.”

    Maybe his comment seems a little arrogant in print, but curious that he hasn’t yet come to the conclusion that 2035 was an error (at least as “very likely”), and doesn’t say it directly.

  28. 1128
    Hank Roberts says:

    David Wright, if by “rising consistently” you mean “rising inconsistently” AKA “not falling” then you’re right about that. But if you are talking about the rate of change (there’s that darned rate of change again) then you’re not right.

    How to check what you think — to clear junk out so people can help you fill yourself in with information:

    type what you think into Google Scholar’s search window, or use Image Search. Remember to be careful; there is a lot of misleading material posted, particularly that shows up in Image Search, from denial PR sites.

    Good result:
    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/postglacialsealevel.jpg
    Found at:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/water-world/

  29. 1129
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Maybe his comment seems a little arrogant in print, but curious that he hasn’t yet come to the conclusion that 2035 was an error”

    I’ll have a butchers around, but IIRC, that 2035 figure was not the figure given. Just like Bellamy’s “555 glaciers are growing” was a result of 55% being mistyped (no shift key pressed), this too was an error in transposition of the numbers.

    It may have been on tamino’s site, or desmog’s blog.

  30. 1130
    Septic Matthew says:

    1105, Ray Ladbury: No, Matthew, that is for equilibrium, and we don’t know how quickly equilibrium will be reached. Half a degree in 40 years would be consistent with the lower range of possible sensitivities, assuming we get about half way to equilibrium by then.

    The whole change for the 20th century was 0.9C, and for the 21st century we are below or at the low range of model forecasts and straight-line extrapolations. As AGG increases exponentially across time but the temp dependence on CO2 is logarithmic, and as the industrialized nations (including the US) are increasing renewable energy supplies faster than they are increasing total energy consumption, I think that my prediction is more reasonable than yours.

    Civilization has survived in India and China (with ups and downs,with the biggest down for China being the rule of Mao [a man-made disaster] from 1949-1975) for thousands of years. What makes you think that AGW will end it there in the next half century? I think that a strong claim like that requires much more evidence than what we have now.

    [Response: But no one made such a claim. You are fighting straw men. - gavin]

  31. 1131
    Hank Roberts says:

    Completely, the ’2035′ number is here, but it’s one phrase among several others that are (slightly) less dramatic about the exact date; there are many glaciers, details on each, and a cite to the WWF suggestion that the total area could drop to …. well heck, don’t trust me, read it yourself.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html
    That’s the “Asia” section (10), one of two case studies:
    10.6 Case studies
    10.6.1 Megadeltas in Asia
    10.6.2 The Himalayan glaciers

    You can also jump on them for understating sea level rise in the Megadelta section, I would bet.

  32. 1132
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:1124 KTB says:
    “It’s ok if this is an honest mistake, but from the interviews I’ve read IPCC seems to stick by this “very likely” scenario?”

    The following items, as well as eight posted in comment #1123 indicate there may be cause to stick with the scenario until new research provides a better estimate. It’s hard to tease out the increasing rate of melting to make predictions, but almost all Himalayan glaciers are melting and disintegrating at an alarming rate. What the new date for a disappearance
    will be, with business as usual, will be interesting to see.

    The Gangotri glacier has retreated 2 kilometers in 200 years, but over 40% in the last 25 years. This indicates a rapid
    increase in the rate of retreat. What it will be in future, considering how every other estimate has been too conservative
    should give anyone pause before revising a date outward very far.

    Whatever the case, this brouhaha will drive welcome new research and a greater grasp of reality. Rajendra Pachauri
    shouldn’t be stampeded into changing course by either friend or foe.

    “Controversy over Himalayan glaciers hots up”
    http://www.thehindu.com/seta/2009/11/19/stories/2009111950131200.htm
    Thursday, Nov 19, 2009
    (excerpt)
    “In a paper that appeared in the journal Current Science in 2001, geologists from the HNB Garhwal University in Uttarakhand pointed out that the Gangotri glacier had retreated by two kilometres in the past 200 years.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4594
    “Over 40 per cent of that retreat had occurred in just the last 25 years.

    “A group led by scientists at the Indian space agency’s Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad used satellite images to study 466 glaciers in the Chenab, Parbati and Baspa basins.
    “They found that the glaciers had shrunk by 21 per cent since 1962. The glaciers had also become more fragmented, which was likely to profoundly influence their sustainability, said Anil Kulkarni and others in a 2007 paper.”

    see also:

    MONITORING OF HIMALAYAN GLACIERS AND SNOW COVER
    http://www.slideshare.net/equitywatch/kulkarni-glacier-august27-revised

    see also:

    Himalayan glaciers ‘grew’ during warmer period
    http://www.scidev.net/en/news/himalayan-glaciers-grew-during-warmer-period.html
    T. V. Padma
    15 September 2009
    (excerpt)
    “Satellite data from 1962 to 2004 indicates that more than 1,000 Himalayan glaciers have retreated by around 16 per cent, Kulkarni says.”
    The glaciers are retreating at varying speeds. Some are melting faster, such as the Parbati glacier at a rate of 50 metres per year and Gangotri at 28 metres; while others like the Pindari glacier are retreating more slowly, at five metres per year.
    The Himalayan glaciers are breaking into pieces and many are not forming new ice, “A large number of glaciers have no [ice] accumulation,” Kulkarni says.
    Scientists at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal, also report large-scale melting in Himalayas of 10–60 metres each year, while the Imja glacier south of Mount Everest is retreating by 74 metres each year.

  33. 1133
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic, First, we are probably NOT at equilibrium, but rather still warming from the CO2 already in the atmosphere (probably about another half degree to go). Best estimates for warming due to a doubling of CO2 (which is where BAU would put us are between 2 and 4.5 degrees (most likely 3). Again it would probably take a couple of additional decades to reach equilibrium even if we stopped emitting CO2 then.

    Matthew, look into the consequences of various amounts of warming. The Knutti & Hegerl article I keep recommending has a good figure (#5) summarizing this.

  34. 1134
    David Wright says:

    “type what you think into Google Scholar’s search window, or use Image Search. Remember to be careful; there is a lot of misleading material posted, particularly that shows up in Image Search, from denial PR sites.”

    How would I identify misleading material?

  35. 1135
    David Wright says:

    “David Wright, if by “rising consistently” you mean “rising inconsistently” AKA “not falling” then you’re right about that.”

    Yes, rising inconsistently is probably more accurate. The unsmoothed data points on this graph seems to show many spikes and dips.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Post-Glacial_Sea_Level.png

    Whether the spikes are real or data error, I cannot be sure.

    The point is, sea level is not fixed and can always be expected to fluctuate, even if man is not around. It’s not unnatural, just inconvenient for us, particularly when we don’t respect it.

  36. 1136
    David Wright says:

    “Civilization has survived in India and China (with ups and downs,with the biggest down for China being the rule of Mao [a man-made disaster] from 1949-1975) for thousands of years. What makes you think that AGW will end it there in the next half century? I think that a strong claim like that requires much more evidence than what we have now.

    [Response: But no one made such a claim. You are fighting straw men. - gavin]”

    So what exactly is the claim? Can some authority please clarify this so we can establish precisely what the crisis is?

    Folks in Southern India settled there presumably because of rich alluvial soil and a rich fishery. Many recently perished there because they had no warning and no means of escape from a storm surge and flooding. Is the solution to provide them with better communication and a means to escape, such as a highway? Or is it simply a choice that they make, preferring to live off the bounty of nature at risk of succumbing to her fury? Should they be forced to leave?
    Many folks in New Orleans had ample warning and the means to escape, put chose to stay. Do they have the right to make such choices? Are we obligated to to protect them from themselves?
    These are difficult questions to answer.
    I’m inclined to believe that their choices are none of our business.
    We have always been there to assist those who suffer from catastrophe, and we will likely continue to do so so long as we have the ability.

  37. 1137
    Hank Roberts says:

    >> there is a lot of misleading material posted, particularly
    >> that shows up in Image Search, from denial PR sites.”

    > How would I identify misleading material?

    Ask your local reference librarian. You can’t do it on your own, or you wouldn’t be asking.

    Unless of course you’re trying to play … well, even if you’re just pretending, there will be people who would sincerely ask the same question.

    Ask a librarian for help identifing sources you can and can’t rely on, for science questions. That’s part of their job.

    Don’t rely on some guy on a blog to tell you what is and isn’t good info.

  38. 1138
    Hank Roberts says:

    > sea level is not fixed
    Rate of change.

  39. 1139
    Jim Galasyn says:

    David Wright asks of Google Scholar How would I identify misleading material?

    An excellent question that cuts right to the heart of the matter. Google Scholar mostly returns results from peer-reviewed journals. As all frequent RC readers know, peer review is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for weeding out erroneous results. But what it does give us is some confidence that what we’re reading isn’t complete nonsense, because rudimentary errors are usually caught before publication. As always, we must read with a critical eye, but peer review greatly increases the signal-to-noise ratio.

    Contrast this with the random blog, which has no formal self-correcting procedure. Anybody can publish anything, and the unfortunate feedback loop of confirmation bias reinforces claims that are quite wrong in fundamental ways. This feedback decreases the signal-to-noise ratio.

    When I want an expert opinion, I always start with consulting the experts in the peer-reviewed literature. Why would I prefer the opinion of some guy in the square with a bullhorn?

  40. 1140
    David Wright says:

    “Rate of change.”
    Yes, rate of change is not fixed. Sea the graph:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Post-Glacial_Sea_Level.png

  41. 1141
    Jim Galasyn says:

    David Wright asks: Is the solution to provide them with better communication and a means to escape, such as a highway? Or is it simply a choice that they make, preferring to live off the bounty of nature at risk of succumbing to her fury? Should they be forced to leave?

    Responses vary.

    India is building a barrier to prevent Bangladeshi climate refugees (estimated at perhaps 20 million) from flooding in.

    People in the small Louisiana town of Bourg are refusing to move, even as “The road to the island is caving in. Hurricanes are flooding homes more often. The Gulf gets closer every year. Isle de Jean Charles is at risk of disappearing under the Gulf of Mexico.”

    Kenya is desperately trying to prevent desertification by forcing out thousands of families who have illegally colonized and razed the Mau forest complex.

    Thai villagers in Kok Karm are building bamboo barriers to slow the relentless advance of the sea — up to 20m/year in some places.

    The Carteret Islanders are moving to nearby Bougainville.

    On Saibai, islanders have resorted to prayer.

    It seems that everywhere you look, nations are taking the threat of climate change seriously and implementing real policies. Everywhere except the United States.

  42. 1142
    David Wright says:

    “Ask a librarian for help identifing sources you can and can’t rely on, for science questions. That’s part of their job.”

    I hope you’re kidding me.

    “Don’t rely on some guy on a blog to tell you what is and isn’t good info.”

    You can count on it.

  43. 1143
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 1131 Hank Robert says:

    “Completely, the 2035 number is here…”

    The IPCC report http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html
    states “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

    The TimesOnline tries to rebut this with the argument:

    “However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.”

    “Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: “Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

    The IPCC points out glaciers are receding, taken as retreating up valley as well as losing thickness. The TOs experts only address shrinkage of glacier volumes (thickness) due to melting.

    More goes into a glacier receding than simply melting in situ. The glaciers are retreating up valley at an increasing rate, losing volume this way as well. Apparently they are not accumulating as much new snow as well as melting (ablation.) The TO fails to address this aspect, making its expert’s argument incomplete.

    The Slideshow “On Thinner Ice” credibly demonstrates that the thickness of the Rongbuk Glacier on the north face of Everest has declined in thickness much more than 2-3 feet a year.
    http://www.asiasociety.org/onthinnerice
    01-18-10

    from:

    MONITORING OF HIMALAYAN GLACIERS AND SNOW COVER
    http://www.slideshare.net/equitywatch/kulkarni-glacier-august27-revised

    “Elevation of the snow line from 4900 to 5300 meters since 1970 means many glaciers are without accumulation area and may experience terminal retreat due to lack of formation of new ice.”

    This is an indication of global warming.

    I’m just not so sure as a studied amateur that this tempest in a teapot won’t evolve to action-advocates advantage. What it takes to put the matter right may well cause India to become seriously alarmed and demand action instead of being one of the holdouts.

  44. 1144
    Hank Roberts says:

    >> Ask a librarian

    > you’re kidding me

    Then ask several at different libraries and compare the answers you get.

    They won’t tell you what’s true. They will tell you which sources are providing information that has scientific references, and which sources are making things up.

    Here’s an example, aimed at high school level readers, of how to think through whether a source is reliable. This example is a blog, but the same process works for a newspaper, magazine, or science journal article:
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2008/08/unreliability-at-icecapus.html

  45. 1145
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tim Jones, that’s the problem sentence. But look at the sentences around it. It’s clear the people who wrote that section didn’t do enough to make sense of it, as the specific source cited is quoted as discussing a reduction in size — not disappearance — in the following sentence or two.

  46. 1146
    David Wright says:

    “People in the small Louisiana town of Bourg are refusing to move, even as “The road to the island is caving in. Hurricanes are flooding homes more often. The Gulf gets closer every year. Isle de Jean Charles is at risk of disappearing under the Gulf of Mexico.”

    I can speak to this issue. I live nearby.

    The marshes of South Louisiana are sinking because about 80 years ago we finished leveeing off the Mississippi River. The big river once flooded annually, depositing silt upon the marshes and creating barrier islands. The deposited silt kept up with the subsidence/compression/erosion of the marshes.
    Today these silt laden waters are dumped far out in the Gulf of Mexico. The barrier islands are all but gone. The Mississippi waters carry with them a load of fertilizer from the farms of the breadbasket which results in deadly algal blooms (dead zones) each year. Were these silts deposited in the marsh as before, the fertilizer would be beneficial to the grasses there and the fertilizer would be naturally filtered out of the water before it reached the gulf. Yes, it’s man caused, but has little to do with global warming.

    Why were these levees built? Partly to facilitate commerce on the Mississippi , to keep jobs in New Orleans, and partly to prevent annual flooding so folks working those jobs could build homes there, below sea level.

    Ironic, ain’t it?

    [Response: Here's a map of the loss. Note too that the situation has been made worse by the extensive dredging and channel building in order to support local oil and gas drilling, which has increased erosion, expanded salt water intrusions and led to greater storm damages than would otherwise occur. - gavin]

  47. 1147
    David Wright says:

    The good news is that the State of Louisiana is using some of its share of Federal offshore oil revenues to begin projects to divert silt laden Mississippi River waters back into the marsh. So far the pilot projects have been remarkably successful in rebuilding marsh in selected areas.

    http://www.lacoast.gov/

    [Response: I got the impression from a recent visit and discussions that these efforts were not really commensurate with the size of the problem, but are you more optimistic? - gavin]

  48. 1148
    David Wright says:

    “Note too that the situation has been made worse by the extensive dredging and channel building in order to support local oil and gas drilling, which has increased erosion, expanded salt water intrusions and led to greater storm damages than would otherwise occur. – gavin]”

    No doubt that is so. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River_Gulf_Outlet

    Not so sure that Louisianians would prefer that no drilling had occurred here though. We are a major supplier of domestic energy. The revenue generated to private landowners, the State of Louisiana and the Federal Government have been enormous. We would have little more than an agricultural/fishery economy otherwise.

  49. 1149
    David Wright says:

    Oh…BTW I am NOT a paid “denialist” or shill of the oil industry.
    I fear that no one here will believe that, but like our hosts, this time is on me.

  50. 1150
    David Wright says:

    Here is an interesting read about New Orleans, the Mississippi River and the surrounding wetlands.
    http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2005/08/30/mcphee/index1.html
    And here…
    http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780684840024-6


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