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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. 201
    Comletely Fed Up says:

    Kirk complains arrogantly about arrogance…


  2. 202
    Comletely Fed Up says:

    Bill: “we must get smarter at communicating in a succint way that gets the public onside with us.”

    This DOES rather require that

    a) the audience wants to know.
    b) the audience isn’t being deliberately flim-flammed by others who don’t WANT the public to know.

    The majority of people already are onside.

    The minority are just very vocal.

  3. 203
    John E. Pearson says:

    I’m backing into a corner I don’t like but so be it.

    196: “Why is it if you dont belive in man made climate change you are classified as an idot or worse.”

    Because the vast majority of the people who don’t believe in it are grossly ignorant of the science. Many individuals ask the same question over and over and over and do not acknowledge that the question has ever been answered. When that happens people get frustrated and lash out. Your claim: “No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows” implies that we don’t and can’t know anything at all about anything.

    194: “I think many regulars here have become hypersensitive to groundless assertions initially disguised as questions. The pattern is familiar, something along the lines of “I’m new to this debate, a bit of a fence sitter, but I have a question about BLAH”,” I’ve gathered as much, but still if you want to convince people of something (anything) opening up with “You’re an idiot and your question is stupid” is unlikely to sway them.

  4. 204

    #190 John E. Pearson

    Understanding is needed on both sides but if you have not yet delved deeply into the pool, your questions, and others will likely be so far out of context as to be unanswerable, or difficult at best. Everyone here posts on their own time, so either side, it is from ones own perspective of the debate/science depending on what side of the fence you are on.

    Have you delved deeply into:

    So asinine is probably not the best way to describe what you are experiencing.

  5. 205
    Hank Roberts says:

    Kirk, you’re not classified as an idiot, but as someone who
    — probably hasn’t read or hasn’t understood the high-school physics,
    — probably hasn’t clicked on “Start Here” at the top of each page, and
    — probably hasn’t clicked the top link under Science in the right sidebar.

    That’s all we know about you — you _probably_ didn’t do any of those.

    Yes, no one really knows for sure. That’s true of all science.

    “Probably” is the punch line for the joke in this cartoon:

    Do you get the joke? If not — do you know why the rest of us do?

  6. 206
    Johnmac says:

    Re #196 Kirk:

    Kirk, this is not a sensible or reasonable comment in a number of ways.

    Firstly, if you are going to judge the validity of the science of climate change based on your impressions of people’s character or manners, you need to focus that same measure on those who are opposed to the mainstream scientific view. There are many striking examples of rudeness, intellectual dishonesty, and abslute arrogance readily available. I am not a scientist, but have spent many hours over the last few weeks reading widely in the climate change area. In my view, the arrogance measure is easily won by the contrarians. If I took the postion you have to assess the climate change issue, there is no doubt what where my opinion would fall.

    But why should the personality or commments of a particular person or two matter one iota in perceiving the truth? That’s silly and superficial. If you take a clear-eyed and genuine look at the information, the contraian position has little to support it.

    That is plain by the repetitive recycling of the same points of debate, irrespective of what evidence is there to back those points. In truth, not much at all. What is also plain is that most contrarian commentators are working from their established ideological and personal beliefs, and are not open to open inquiry.

    Above this post there are several comments about posters racting with frustration to insincere questions. I’ve read thousands of posts on blogs recently, and I don’t find it hard to understand that frustration. I’d be surprised if even one in five apparent questioning posts on blogs like this are genuine inquiries. Usually they are veiled assertions of contrarian ideas.

  7. 207
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Kirk says: 3 January 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Remember, arrogance and supercilious attitudes are not science, so try not to get ’em mixed up.

    Somebody could ask you politely to fasten your seatbelt, or they could say “Fasten your seatbelt, idiot”, but the advantages of fastening the belt remain the same.

    As to uncertainty, excellent reasons for fastening your seatbelt are numerous, even though you don’t know the seatbelt will save you in any particular accident.

    As it stands, it appears that our foreknowledge of the consequences of leaving the C02 problem unaddressed is in general better than what any of us could say about the benefit of fastening our individual seatbelts on any given day.

    It’s very probably a good idea to do something about C02.

  8. 208
    Leo G says:

    Just quickly, my experience since arriving here just recently, has been very cordial. I appreciate that all the experts here have a life to live and when they pushed me to start to study for myself first, i thought that this was just fine. Not only were they cordial, but also pointed me towards the data that I am interested in. I call this my homework!

    Of course maybe it is just a big conspiriacy to keep me busy so that I do not have time to really investigate their nefarious activities! LOL!

    Thanx people for your time and patience. I am full of questions, but as Mrs. Harris use to say in the third grade, “finish the reading, as the answers are probably there.”

  9. 209

    No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows.

    Don’t forget to pay your gravity bill!

  10. 210
    Jim Eager says:

    And then hot on the heels of yet another round of quite valid and well-meaning admonishments to play nice, along comes Kirk to bluntly tell us that no matter how much scientific research and data we come up with he will not believe in reality because we hurt his feelings.

    For anyone who believes that Kirk would turn ’round on a dime and “believe” if only we treated him nicely and posited our evidence with humility, I hear there is a lot of unclaimed cash to be had simply by sending your bank account number to some nice government official in Nigeria.

  11. 211
    Mac Crawford says:

    Kirk (196) Says, “One of the main reasons I canot accept your veiw point as
    absoulte truth is your arrogance.” Setting aside the veracity of your charge of
    arrogance among RC contributors (I disagree with you), would you rather have a
    competent, arrogant brain surgeon or an incompetent, “nice” surgeon? Arrogance
    has absolutely nothing to do with the evidence for global warming/climate change.

    I suspect you’re trolling anyway.

    Thanks Gavin and all the rest doing this important work – best to all of you in 2010!

  12. 212
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kirk says “No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows.”

    So, wait, you are saying it’s impossible to ever know anything and you want to know why people think you are a moron?

  13. 213
    Chris H says:

    Wow, just asked…. on the Himalaya 2035 reference problem(#177).
    #184 John P. Reissman your graphs do shed light on glaciers but do not alter the fact that this reference seems to be wrong.
    #187 Hank Roberts I googled that already but it does not seem to give a satisfying explanation for the 2035 glacier reference.
    #194 Doug Bostrom you are very very wrong about me and I must say you managed to offend me quite strongly. I’ve taken quite some flak from the deniers recently. I was not exactly waiting to be treated like this here, by you.
    Here: you can see me start following the trace of the IPCC references – in Dutch but you can see the articles referenced. Here I follow it a step further: .
    Here you see me doubting the explanation fishhook gives – the reference to the Kotlyakov report-: and go up till Hasnain.
    And here: I yield to the ‘Pearce from the New Scientist messed up and was quoted by the WWF’ suggestion because I cannot find Hasnain or the WHGH saying anything about 2035 and the glaciers.

    Earlier in the thread you can see me defending climate science and showing the deniers why the cru hack is not proving false intentions.

  14. 214
    Chris H says:

    Wow, just asked…. on the Himalaya 2035 reference problem(#177).
    #184 John P. Reissman your graphs do shed light on glaciers but do not alter the fact that this reference seems to be wrong.
    #187 Hank Roberts I googled that already but it does not seem to give a satisfying explanation for the 2035 glacier reference.
    #194 Doug Bostrom you are very very wrong about me and I must say you managed to offend me quite strongly. I’ve taken quite some flak from the deniers recently. I was not exactly waiting to be treated like this here, by you.
    Here: forum you can see me start following the trace of the IPCC references – in Dutch but you can see the articles referenced. Here I follow it a step further: forum2 .
    Here you see me doubting the explanation fishhook gives – the reference to the Kotlyakov report-:
    forum3 and go up till Hasnain.
    And here: forum part 4 I yield to the ‘Pearce from the New Scientist messed up and was quoted by the WWF’ suggestion because I cannot find Hasnain or the WHGH saying anything about 2035 and the glaciers.

    Earlier in the thread you can see me defending climate science and showing the deniers why the cru hack is not proving false intentions.

  15. 215

    In relation to land-based sinks like the Amazon, sea level rise won’t help this much.

    It seems that a lot of the good coastal rain forest will be lost, turning from a carbon sink to a rotting methane emitting mess.

  16. 216
    Ernst K says:

    RE: Comment by Kirk — 3 January 2010 @ 2:02 PM

    “Why is it if you dont belive in man made climate change you are classified as an idot or worse.”

    Because so many of the “non-believers” keep saying things like this:

    “One of the main reasons I canot accept your veiw point as absoulte truth is your arrogance.”

  17. 217
    David B. Benson says:

    Todd Friesen (154) — I read Usoskin et al. and am rather puzzled about the purported 10 year lag as I can think of no physical reason (yet). Anyway, Tamino put in other factors in the two box model here
    to which you might wish to add the sunspot variations. Based on the work of Tung and co-authors and known responses to volcanic sulfates, I still am of the opnion that the fast response has a characteristic time of about one year (or less).

    I suggest some experiments with actual or artificil data for sunspots and look at the response of your model or Tamino’s two box model to see if “decade averaged data” gives a 10 year lag for best correlation. If so, that would show a defect in the analysis methods used by Usoskin et al.

  18. 218
    CM says:

    Chris H. (#177, re: Himalayan glaciers 2035),

    Unfortunately, I gather from a brief comment by Mauri Pelto that the ‘2035’ statement was indeed a screw-up, but if someone has more context, I’m interested too — ?

    Regarding peer review, the statement was tucked away in a ‘case study’ section in a regional impacts chapter (AR4, WG2, ch. 10, p. 493), not in a snow-and-ice chapter where it would have come under glaciologist reviewers’ scrutiny. Seeing how jumbled the whole paragraph is, I’d hazard that an editing mishap was at least partly to blame, possibly late in the process. Any generalizations from a sloppy bit on p. 493 to the IPCC review process being a failure or a sham strike me as badly overwrought.

    As for sources, the WG2 section attributed it to a 2005 WWF report surveying the scientific literature, which in turn attributed it to a 1999 report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology (WGHG) of the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI). WG2 did not reference New Scientist (as I recall BBC mistakenly reporting). But it does look possible that the WWF report relied on a New Scientist story for the soundbite on the WGHG report (which AFAICS was not listed in the references).

    The WG2 Summary for Policymakers states merely:

    Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding, and rock avalanches from destabilised slopes, and to affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be
    followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede.

  19. 219
    Leo G says:

    OK, question that I haven’t found an answer for – yet!

    See if I can term this right, Is there any difference in CO@ uptake between salt water, fresh water, snow and ice?

    My Spidey senses seem to feel that salt would absorve the most, followed by fresh, snow then ice, but…

  20. 220
    Leo G says:

    Should be CO2 uptake and absorb.

    Must proof read before button push….

  21. 221
    John E. Pearson says:

    196 wrote: “Why is it if you dont belive in man made climate change you are classified as an idot or worse. One of the main reasons I canot accept your veiw point as absoulte truth is your arrogance. No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows.”

    You’ve answered your own question. A great many of the “sceptics” are grossly ignorant of the science. Yet they’re convinced that the science is wrong. Consider your own arrogance: “No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows.” You’re arguing that we can’t know anything about anything because no matter what we do to learn something we can’t ever “really know” (anything about anything). Do you truly believe that?

    194: I hear ya, but all the same insulting new-comers is self-defeating.

  22. 222
    Geoff Wexler says:

    [Comment by a non expert i.e. me]

    Re: #153 (Ray and Mathew) #171

    Re #174 Jim Eager

    <i?Mcintyre, Wegmann & Hockey.

    This topic is still being hyped by denialists the world over, and it is being revived in connection with the stolen emails. It is not correct to see this just as a controversy about the temperature reconstructions. It has always been part of a larger ad hominem campaign , to discredit individual researchers. This should inform the hockey stick defence team even in 2010. In particular the details of the old PCA analysis should not be ignored because we still see a lot of propaganda suggesting that this work was mathematically discreditable and that its authors can never be trusted again. (More later).

    If the argument is about the science, we should not start by discussing the personal behaviour of the authors. But what if there is an agenda concerned more with researchers than research? In that case we have every right to ask about the people involved, in this case Senator Barton and Prof. Wegman. Since Wegman’s report has been promoted by reverse ad hominem , i.e by reminding us of his status as an independent authority on statistics, then we have every right to ask about his subsequent behaviour. Why did Wegman sign this letter probably prepared by Bob Carter and Tom Harris ?

    “Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today’s computer models cannot predict climate. Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998.”

    This reflects on:
    (a) Wegman’s impartial ‘status’.
    (b) His judgment of Bob Carter’s work.
    (c) His strange lack of interest, for a statistician, in the statistical problem of extracting a trend from a noisy data.

    Perhaps its time for the Senate to call a committee of statistical experts to cross examine Wegman about item (c)?

    Given all that, I applaud Jim Eager for #174 although it could benefit from a brief summary. I also think that the scientific discussion is scattered in several places (to include all the links is inappropriate here).

    Returning to the PCA dispute , I am not an expert, but I have read Tamino’s articles and I tend to agree with his approach. One criticism that was levelled at the non centered PCA was that it could extract a hockey stick shape from white noise. Tamino argued that this choice of basis was justified because there was a hockey stick shape in the actual data and it was also self correcting; if it had been a bad choice then it would be put right by adding more terms. But it turned out to have been a good choice , to lead to faster convergence than the one Wegman preferred. So it is not sufficient to argue that the original method was, by good luck, approximately equivalent to the Wegman one ; it appears to me that it was a good way of approaching the problem, and that Mann,Bradley and Hughes did a good job with the maths. Am I wrong? The climatologists tend to emphasise that they now use different methods. Good logical point, but it appears to suggest that the maths rather than the data is partly responsible for the progress and that could be unfair to the first version?

    There is yet another point about the denialists version. They tend to omit all reference to the error bars (the broad grey smear) which you can see in Fig.1 here:

    which tends to imply that the very first stab at this problem was not so bad after all.

    As an analogy you could describe the nucleus of carbon by means of either a shell model basis or one of alpha particles (helium nucleii); the only difference would be one of convergence. Yet another example would be the basis for the independent particle approximation for electrons in a solid; you have quite a big choice ; APW’s, OPW’s , Wannier functions, LCAO and lots more. How absurd would it be for some chairman in a committee to come along and lay down the law about the right way of doing it! They are all right.

    It appears to me that the method used by MBH was not just approximately the same as the alternative but was in some respects to be preferred.

  23. 223
    Ernst says:

    Some denialists apparently thought it was great news to read “CO2 … no change .. 160 year, etc etc”. But the reality is that they didn’t even care to look at the paper or try to understand what it means. The message that 40% of the emitted CO2 stays airborne is actually really bad news, since you would have to reduce our carbon emissions to practically zero to see any sort of stabilization of the atmospheric CO2 concentrations. What do we know about the carbon sinks? Is it really that bad?

  24. 224
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Leo G., WRT absorption of CO2 by water. The thing that determines how much CO2 the water CAN absorb is the chemical potential (it has to equalize between atmosphere and the water for equilibrium), and that will not depend on other solutes unless they react with CO2. In practice, CO2 uptake will depend on how much overturn of the surface there is–more turbulence means more mixing and more absorption. Hopefully that helps.

  25. 225
    calyptorhynchus says:

    Re the claim that denialists now have momentum.

    I don’t think they do and they have never been very important.

    My take on AGW and policy responses to it are that by the mid 1990s the science consensus was settled, after that came a non-earth shattering lack of action by governments. In some cases this was simple laziness and intertia and lack of political courage, in others active lobbying behind the scenes by the fossil fuel industry and other corporations. The result: practically zero action in the last 15 years.

    But none of this is due to the denialists, who are simple a noisy but ineffectual sideshow.

  26. 226
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chris H — did you get as far as this post? I don’t know that you’ll find a better explanation than this and the followups in that thread, without going directly to the glaciology literature Mauri mentions here.

  27. 227
    dhogaza says:

    Wow, just asked…. on the Himalaya 2035 reference problem(#177).

    As CM pointed out above, apparently an inappropriate reference did sneak in and wasn’t ferreted out.

    So, what are the consequences? Your denialist friends are jumping up and down triumphantly pointing out one small goof in a very long, comprehensive report and screaming “climate science is a fraud!” or something?

    If so … just point out to them how silly it makes them look. Of course any comprehensive review report of the size and scope of AR4 is probably going to have a few minor goofs in it. This doesn’t impact the major conclusions of the report at all, much less climate science.

    A few years ago I carefully reviewed a several hundred page summary of the science underlying decisions made during the Clinton administration regarding old growth forests and northern spotted owls, commissioned by the Bush administration at the request of the timber industry, and farmed out to a private consultancy because the USF&W and the scientists they consulted with are “biased”.

    The report pretty much slammed the timber industry position, but that’s not the point.

    While reading on the impacts of barred owl incursions on spotted owl populations, I found a couple of instances where the two species were mixed up. If I were a population ecology, timber-industry financed denialist I would’ve screamed “all the science is a fraud! This proves spotted owls live in junkyards and nest in bashed-up chevy’s!”.

    Instead, I e-mailed the editor, pointed out the error, got an appropriate “oops, how embarrassing, thank you!” and the fixes went out with an errata follow-up.

    That’s how real people deal with mistakes. You keep them in context, you evaluate their impact, and you acknowledge that they do happen bur rarely mean a thing in regarding the big picture.

  28. 228
    Icarus says:

    As I live at sea level I have a keen interest in what the future holds for sea level change. Today’s high tide of 4.9m came worryingly close to the top of the sea wall near my house. In October 2015, 5.13m is predicted – not sure if this includes any projected sea level rise between now and then. I’d like to know if there are any plausible mechanisms for really abrupt changes in sea level (other than storm surges), or whether the worst case is a gradual acceleration of global sea level rise over decades from faster-moving glacier outflow. Thanks in advance for any interesting information…

  29. 229

    #214 Chris H

    Generally speaking mix-ups happen. What I try to provide in such arguments is that mix-ups don’t overturn the gist of the science and can not falsify what is now well known.

    In other words when the argument turns to this is wrong so all AGW is wrong I always turn to the context. A mistake, a mix-up, an instrument problem, etc. does not change the science. Sometimes it really is better to provide the overarching view to understand any contextual problem one is having.

    It’s the old Al Gore is fat so AGW is wrong argument. The details are important, but in context. Mistakes happen, they get corrected… but this global warming event is human caused, and we should help others realize that focusing on the needle, one might miss the haystack.

  30. 230
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Chris H says: 3 January 2010 at 4:33 PM

    My sincere apology to you. I stand as an example of the “hypersensitized”. Can anybody recommend an antihistamine?

    Given the amount of activity around the topic of climate change and the sheer number of edits etc. that are poured into the IPCC reports, I suppose it’s inevitable a few errors will creep in.

    Faced with an overwhelmingly large amount of research that converges on confirming the central phenomenon of anthropogenic climate change, I’d throw the glacier thing into the same bucket as “flawed tenure process”, “they’re just in it for the grant money”, “all data is bad” and “wow, that code is really ugly”.

    None of these trivialities separately or together are of sufficient power to sway an argument based on evidence. Pardon my sexism, but these arguments are like telling Gwyneth Paltrow she’s ugly because she’s got a run in her nylons.

  31. 231
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Geoff Wexler, MBH98 was a revolutionary application of multi-proxy techniques to temperature reconstructions. Like all pioneering efforts, which are of necessity feeling their way in the dark, there were some aspects of the analysis that were not as satisfying or rigorous. Fine, science marches on and improves on the techniques. It doesn’t diminish the importance of the original paper, which is recognized in historical context for its real contribution–a coherent application of multi-proxy techniques.

    Frankly, the fact that denialists are still attacking this paper after a dozen years merely demonstrates how little they really have to discuss. The ad hominem attacks are also more symptomatic of the extreme poverty of their position, methods and ideas. They have no evidence and no constructive ideas on how to understand the climate, so all they can do is attack their opponents.

    The one advantage the denialists have is that they are selling wishful thinking, and humans have always had an insatiable demand for that commodity. We’re offering an unpleasant truth as best science can determine it. We’ll have to see which one humanity chooses.

  32. 232
    John E. Pearson says:

    200: Hank: no worries.

  33. 233
    Jim Bouldin says:

    John Pearson and Michael Tobis (176, 190, 191 etc): Good posts.

    John, good to see you here contributing. Hank is one of the most helpful persons here, so whatever he said, it was not likely meant to demean. And Hank, if John is who I think he is, he is a bright guy and his questions come from a definite scientific interest and background. The “why 30 years?” question is one I’ve wondered about too (and why I pointed to the Guttman paper).

  34. 234
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Just can’t help myself. Here’s Monckton weighing in from his private universe, as reported in NYT “Green Inc.”:

    “The mountains shall labor, and what will be born? A stupid little mouse. Thanks to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who contacted their elected representatives to protest about the unelected, communistic world government with near-infinite powers of taxation, regulation and intervention that was proposed in early drafts of the Copenhagen treaty, there is no Copenhagen treaty.”

    Really? Based on what evidence does he make this claim? These representatives had operators standing by, in Denmark? Thank goodness, or we’d all be bowing under the whips of our Marxist overlords. Death panels, too.

    Rally the troops, there, m’lord. Throw enough glitter in their eyes, they’ll never notice they’re being pushed over the top armed with rubber swords.

    More here:

    Also in the Times, an article on migration to Dhaka in Bangladesh:

  35. 235
    Tim Jones says:


    “Tim jones hasn’t read many of the posts here when he states: “branch out from preaching to the choir”.”

    Now how would you be knowing that? In fact It’s from reading a thousand or so posts in the last few days as I sit here healing from a knee replacement operation which leads me to observe some of the efforts to play blog at RC could be directed toward supporting the efforts of those on the front lines of the comment wars in other places.

    I do know Gavin is out there. I’ve seen him more than once. His presence is enormously commendable and appreciated.

    And I do recognize the “education” of denialists posting here as well as how important this blog is in educating the rest of us. I believe I was among the first to post here years ago.

    But Chris Mooney makes a point.

    My point is to question how much of the literary effort so well articulated here gets out to reinforce activists in the trenches of the popular media. The asylums as it were. I’ve tried to be civil all afternoon in various forums.

    Look at the comments to the Washington Post article I alluded to. I posted three times this afternoon. The truth of it is that we’re being wiped out by hoards of fulminating idiots. It’s going to take more than three or four of us to keep the denialist snowball from rolling over us. The point that these pawns are winning the media wars right now is well taken.

    Please check it out before you claim things about me of which you have not a clue. But in general I appreciate your comments. I’m pretty completely fed up myself.

    Silence is consent.

  36. 236
    Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Somewhere in the comments in the last couple of posts, there was mention of some disadvantages of the peer-reviewed process. Well, here’s a suggested improvement. :-)

  37. 237
    Lyle says:

    RE # 75 and following, there may be a class of people who believe its to late to do anything. The more people amplify the predictions of what will happen the more I tend to get to the point of saying lets eat, drink, do drugs, and be merry becase we are already dead!. Having been told for all of my adult life that one way or the other we are doomed, starting with 1962 and going forward its hard not to take a view that it is hopeless. Just like if a nuclear war had come I wanted to be at ground zero of one of the bombs, (it would be the least painful way to go). Apocalypse fatigue is a real issue, and it seems to be that if you are a prophet of doom you do get media coverage, that may lead many to say (explitive deleted) it. I will just live for today.

  38. 238
    Dave Bassage says:

    I hope this is the appropriate place to pose this query, but I was confronted with a novel (to me, anyway) skeptic argument today and not entirely satisfied with my response. The argument:

    “What most people don’t understand is that CO2 is more dense than air so stays near to and even sinks into the ground.
    If this wasn’t so then plants would suffocate & there wouldn’t be any land based life at all.

    If CO2 levels had increased to a level to make ANY major impact on global warming people who live in valleys would suffocate as it would force out the O2”

    My response was to document the vast difference between toxic (50,000 ppm) and the current atmospheric levels (over 380 ppm) of CO2 that are already forcing warmer temps, with citations to support that much, but I couldn’t easily find data documenting any differences in CO2 between ground level and various altitudes. I did find reference to CO2 tending to fall through the atmosphere, and that air movement serves to keep it dispersed, but as asides rather than direct research. I also asserted that if what he said were true, coal power plant workers would be at great risk.

    This was a new one on me, and I was left feeling a more convincing response was out there than the one I gave. I’m not a scientist, but have followed the AGW issue closely over the years, and between that, a math degree, a handful of college science courses and a good grasp of logic and common sense usually do all right in such disputes.

    Any help with this one would be greatly appreciated.

  39. 239
    John Mashey says:

    Back to Knorr.
    When looking at past trends, there is often a human tendency to assume the trends continue, and after all, that’s often a good bet. Of course, some kinds of trends suddenly hit inflection points due to various limits. For example: Moore’s Law is really about increasing number of transistors/die, and it still works for a while. But for a long time, smaller transistors meant faster switching speeds, thus higher clock rates. But, that hit a limit, and clock rates have stalled.

    SO: suppose airborne fraction = f(total CO2 in atmosphere, other factors), and the Knorr paper says that f = ~constant. What’s the current state of having any idea when there might be an inflection point, i.e., where fraction might start rising after total CO2 hits some level? I know inflections are hard to predict, especially when they get into new domains. Actually, maybe a nice essay would pull together a good list of “inflection points we worry about and what we know?”

  40. 240
    Edward Greisch says:

    An unforced variation: I have a BS in physics and some grad school, but RC still snows me sometimes. I am willing to trust the professors. Others do the opposite. Would it be better for RC if I said: “Show me more steps” more often? The problem is often statistics that is beyond what is taught in undergrad school. It is not possible to teach statistics in any simple or easy way. “There is no royal road to mathematics.” Could we discuss this rather than whether or not RC people could get jobs in the State Department? They applied for jobs as scientists. They never said they were diplomats.

  41. 241
    CM says:

    Chris H. #213, I see you took the source checking further than I had (thanks for the links).

    Any plans for an RC (guest) post on Himalayan glacier retreat…? Important topic, quite aside from the questions over p. 493.

  42. 242
    Jimi Bostock says:

    hey folks, I am keen to see you discuss the current extreme winter in northern hemisphere.

  43. 243

    The issue of internet-spread denialism has reached epidemic proportions today and affects anyone who seeks to be well-informed. One possible solution to the problem of memetic infections has been proposed by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson.

    In his novel Anathem, Neal Stephenson explains the problem and envisions a solution and implements it on an alien, though still human, world:

    Anyone can post information on any topic. The vast majority of what’s on the [Internet] is, therefore, crap. It has to be filtered… When I look at [an esoteric topic] I don’t just see information about that topic. I see meta-information … the filtering system tells me that only a few sources have provided information about this and that they are mostly of high repute… If I look up the name of a popular music star who just broke up with her boyfriend… the filtering system tells me that a vast amount of data has been posted on this topic recently, mostly of very low repute.

    – Neal Stephenson, Anathem, p. 407

    Lots of commenting engines have reputation scores, but they are extremely subjective. A person who spreads disinformation in a denialist forum can have an extremely high reputation, that’s the nature of the echo chamber. I’m frankly drawing a blank on ideas to implement it without forcing everyone to have their own personal, permanent IP address, destroying the internet as we know it.

    Lots of bright young chaps here, it seems; any ideas from them?

  44. 244
    Jimi Bostock says:

    hi folks. Well, I have been taking a break and have just come back in to check on the ‘competition’. Yes, I am one of the so called deniers but I am also not averse to the discussion continuing.

    I really think that you do have some issues here and that I am sure that you should consider some radical rethinking.

    Generally one gets a tone from these forums that is based on a flat out denial that there is any evidence againts AGW. Folks, that is just nonsense and please, before you start yelling, please let me explain.

    It is just impossible that there is absolutely no evidence contrary to your group opinion. There just is. Whether that is completely credible is something that we can all argue about but the blunt ‘there is none’ statement is really where you are starting to lose the game.

    It also is contrary to what is seen in the CRU emails, no matter how hard you want to deny. There is arguement and debate in them. To say there is not, well that is just denial.

    And then, as many have pointed out on this forum, some of you folks are just plain rude. as simple as that. I am sure that a newbie to the whole CC issue would be quickly put off by the tone found here.

    I would suggest that some of you really take a long hard look at what you are doing for your cause. Humans just don;t take kindly to the pompous and defiant. You are doing yourselves a disservice.

    The other thing that I am noticing out in teh real world, as oppossed to teh rarified air here or on the denier blogs, is that people are asking questions about things like why it is so cold in the northern winter when they think they were told that it would be warmer.

    Heck, even I ask that question and I am a denier. Even I am shocked.

    So, come on folks, what is the answer as best as you know. Why do predictions keep not coming true. Why is it so cold.

    In the end, you are wrong to just want to the debate to go away and people like me to shut up. You are wrong to say that I am just being willfully ignorant. I am not. I am confronted with many things that make me skeptical.

    I say you should start gathering evidence of actual things happening. You should provide people with some serious “we said this and it is happening”, plain english, note qaunt science jargon that always ends in a “so there!”

    You babble and vitrioul is boring and I do want you to convince me and if you turn around as say that I don’t, then I know that you are just being an idealouge, not scientists.

  45. 245
    Completely Fed Up says:

    JEP, you’re getting there, but this: ““You’re an idiot and your question is stupid” is unlikely to sway them.” isn’t what’s being done.

    That is an ad hom.

    What’s being done (and you’ve done it yourself wrt that post) is saying “your statements are idiotic and so you’re an idiot we will ignore”.

    This is an inference.

    We don’t KNOW he’s an idiot. Or a troll. Or even insincere. But we can infer that he is from his “arguments”.

    The whole quacking duck thing again.

    PS if you really want to help, see if you can come up (along with all the others who have posted deer-in-headlights queries) with a way to answer the 1,001 repeats of “I was just hearing from a friend… BLAH CONTRARIAN POSITION BLAH” that doesn’t require repeated manual intervention and doesn’t leave it open to “so you don’t have an answer, then? So they must be right”.

    The “Start Here” tag doesn’t seem to be working.

    So confab and find out what will.

  46. 246
    Nick Barnes says:

    Kirk @ 196:
    No matter how much research and data you come up with the fact will remain is that no one realy knows.
    So you don’t think anybody knows any scientific result?
    If not by science, by what means do you think people do acquire knowledge?

  47. 247
    Jim Cross says:

    #244 Jimi

    Regarding the recent cold weather, it is just weather. A couple or even a lot of cold winters doesn’t disprove anything. And vice versa, a lot of warm winters doesn’t prove anything either. We need to look at long term trends which has been significantly up over 30 years or so but somewhat flat in trend line for the last 10. Even so, some of the warmest global temperatures in recent Earth history have been in the last 10 years.

    The real question to me is whether the last 10 years of flat trend-line but warm temperatures is really an part of variation above the trend line or below it if the trend line could be extended for another 50 years or so into the future? The consensus here at RC is that we are running below the trend line and warming sooner or later will resume with a vengeance. The opposing view that we have been above the trend line or, in the most extreme, there is no long term upward trend but instead a natural variation up and then down.

  48. 248
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimi likes talking in third person form. It enhances his personal gravitas: “Generally one gets a tone from these forums that is based on a flat out denial that there is any evidence againts AGW”

    One would, if one were open-minded, get the tone that there is flat-out denial that denialists (like yourself, Jimi) have produced any evidence against AGW.

    A rather important difference.

    One that could be undone by the production of evidence and proof of that evidence against AGW.

    Rise to the challenge, Oh Magnificent One.

  49. 249
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “So, come on folks, what is the answer as best as you know. Why do predictions keep not coming true. Why is it so cold.”

    Because it’s winter.

    Winter in temperate or polar zones is colder than summer.

    If that’s not what you meant, then define your terms scientifically.

  50. 250
    CM says:

    Jimi Bostock, c/o the real world, writes: “people are asking questions about things like why it is so cold in the northern winter when they think they were told that it would be warmer.”

    Well, it is: “Surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere have warmed during winter months up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the last three decades, over 10 times more than the global annual average 0.7 degree Fahrenheit” (NASA, 2001)

    They said it.
    It came true.
    So there.