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Claude Allègre: The Climate Imposter

Filed under: — group @ 28 April 2010

Guest Commentary by Georg Hoffmann

In mathematical proofs, it’s a well-known fact that if at some point you divide by zero accidentally or on purpose, then you end up being able to prove absolutely anything you want – for instance, that 2+2=5 or that 1+1=0. The same phenomena appears to govern any number of publications that conclude that climate science is all a fraud – at some point, an impossible calculation is performed and from then on, anything (and everything) can be proven. Critical thinking appears to vanish.

The latest example is that of Claude Allègre – whose recent book “The climate imposture” would have you believe at least six impossible things before breakfast and a great many more before dinner. This is notable because Allègre is one of the most eminent figures in science communication in France, Academie de Sciences member, Crafoord prize winner, former minister of education and research and a fixture on the late night talk shows in France (including a topical satirical version of the ‘muppets’). One might expect a certain degree of rigour from an author with such a pedigree, but on the contrary, nearly every explanation, graphic, or citation in this book is misleading or just plain wrong. If Allègre was not such a high profile figure in France, this nonsense would have been dismissed and ignored, instead, it is regular fodder for the late night talk shows. In my entire career I have never seen so many factual errors in a single publication. It is truly a remarkable work!

It is practically impossible to give a complete overview of what is wrong with the Allègre’s book. However, some people have made a good start: Stephane Foucart, a science journalist at Le Monde, wrote a piece on Le cent-fautes de Claude Allegre (the ‘Hundred Errors’ – this is a play on words, ‘un sans-faute’ (pronounced the same way) means a perfect score) and Sylvestre Huet from the Liberation started a series of debunkings and is now at part five (also in French) and which he has turned into a short book! I started my own list of errors here (in German).

One of the more egregious examples of blatant making stuff up was covered by Science last week (following on from a post by Huet who revealed that Allègre had hand-drawn a continuation of tree-ring data from Hakan Grudd to show cooling over the 21st Century – something of course that no trees could possibly show (at least yet!). Even before Allegre “improved” the data by drawing in an extension more to his liking, the implication that Grudd’s work in any way challenges the prevailing view of unusual large scale warming in recent years was highly misleading. Grudd’s paper (available here, open access) deals solely with summer temperatures at Lake Tornetrask in Northern Sweden, and the paper states clearly that “although the climate of northern Fennoscandia seems to have been significantly warmer during medieval times as compared to the late-twentieth century, the published composite records of northern hemisphere climate (Moberg et al. 2005) do not show a conspicuously warm period around AD 1000.” Once again, Allègre has shown himself willing to jump on any curve “going my way,” regardless of its relevance.

But much of the joy of reading this book is in details – things that it would be trivial to get right without having much impact on the general thesis being put forward, but instead reveal without doubt that the author does not have a single clue about the subject. So let’s start (all translations are mine and reasonably accurate):

  • The first thing one might notice is that almost every non-french scientist has their name spelled wrong: Solansky for Sami Solanki; Usoskiev for Ilya Usoskin and Funkel for Richard Finkel. The most amusing case is during the discussion of tropical cyclones with climate change, where he lists three names of people who have posited a connection: “Wester, Tech and Kerry Emmanuel”. Everyone of course recognizes Kerry Emanuel (despite the incorrect spelling), and “Wester” is (also misspelled) Peter Webster (of Webster et al, 2006). But who was this eminent Hurricane expert Tech? I had no idea until Stephane Foucart lifted the veil. Peter Webster is from the Georgia Institute of Technology, frequently abbreviated to simply “Georgia Tech”. So in his “extensive literature studies” Allègre probably found a line like “Peter Webster, Georgia Tech, thinks that …” and voila! Professor Tech was born!

  • On page 53, in a typical example of his style, Allegre writes that

    ”Jones declares that the global mean temperature raised by 0.6% [sic]. …. How can he claim such a precision with such sampling errors? Nevertheless, Hansen-the-fanatic, without revealing his sources, immediately approves of Jones curve. Those who made statistics based on such shortcomings in sampling are discredited as scientists”.

    Wow. We’re pretty sure that most people measure temperature deviations in degrees, so maybe the ‘%’ was just a simple typo. The characterisation of Hansen is presumably hyperbole (though see below for worse treatment), but given that all of the sources of the GISTEMP temperature record (which was first published in 1987) are available online (along with all the source code, and completely independent replication), the ‘without revealing his sources’ line is a little rich (especially given Allègre’s undocumented ‘extrapolation’ (cough) of the Grudd data series mentioned above.

  • On page 300, the greenhouse effect is explained, but for some reason CO2 is not considered to be a ‘real’ greenhouse gas. He says explicitly there are three such gases, water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane (This is a pretty large simplification since it neglects ozone, N2O, any number of CFCs, and theoretically pretty much any gas with a structure that has three or more atoms). He continues:

    ”It is due to water vapour, and water vapour alone, that the mean temperature at the Earth surface is +15°C and not -18°C”.

    This again is plain wrong. Depending a bit how you weight the overlapping spectral absorptions of the different greenhouse gases the contribution of CO2 to the total greenhouse effect is about 20% (with water vapour giving 50% and 25% for clouds, which we are sure that Allègre realises are made of condensate (liquid water and ice) and not vapour…). And indeed, since water vapour in particular is a feedback to the temperatures, removal of CO2 will certainly lead to cooling and a subsequent reduction in water vapour.

  • Unsurprisingly, Allègre is of course very sceptical about the use of computer models, and thinks they are taking up all the money available for research (an error that would be easily corrected by looking at NASA’s budget for instance) and so his preference for ‘true’ observations is clear. Take the last interglacial period for instance (also known as the Eemian), around 125,000 years ago. He compares (see figure above) something called the “Gore curve” with something called the “true curve” (la courbe veritable). Al Gore actually shows the temperature and CO2 evolution from Epica Dome C for the last 600.000 years. So let’s assume that this is in fact what Allègre means. Amusingly, this image from the movie shows that Allègre’s hand drawn version of the bottom curve (the reconstructed temperature in East Antarctica) is profoundly different (in the relative warmth at the Eemian, and the number of cycles), but let’s move on…

    Skipping past the inconsistency in the text where he says that until now the best estimate for the last interglacial temperature in Antarctica was +3°C (compared to present) while his “Gore curve” has a zero anomaly compared to today, let’s look at the justification for the new ‘true’ estimate of +6°C warmer. This is referenced to a paper by Sine et al, 2007 in Science (note that every piece of that reference is wrong: as usual, the name is misspelled (it’s Louise Sime, not Sine), the year was 2009 and the publication was in Nature – easy mistakes, I guess).

    Ice core temperature reconstructions such as Dome C are based on the isotopic composition of the ice. This isotope signal needs careful calibration and Louise Sime and colleagues make the point that under warm climate conditions such as the Eemian the calibration developed for cold climate conditions might be different – in fact isotopes during warm periods might be less sensitive to temperature, and so applying the cold-climate calibration might underestimate actual temperatures. However, their results would therefore only concern the time period at the peak of the ultimate interglacial, and does not have any implications for the cold climate values. Note however, that Allègre’s ‘one true curve’ seems to have had a warm trend imposed from 125,000 years ago to the present. I contacted Louise Sime and asked if she thought this was a good use of her paper. She made it clear that she’d not had any exchange with Claude Allègre and that her paper does not discuss the temperature reconstruction over the entire glacial-interglacial period at all (that would be a ‘no’).

    In summary, Allègre presents a ‘true curve’ which is hand-drawn, in which an Antarctic temperature record is described as a global mean, on which he imposes a long term trend which is credited to Sime and colleagues who completely disown it. And the irony of ironies? Sime’s results are based on a climate model.

  • The phase relation between CO2 and temperatures in the Antarctic ice cores is a frequent source of confusion, and Allègre doesn’t attempt to miss this opportunity to confuse further. As is well known, both temperature and CO2 are correlated to the Milankovitch cycles in complex ways – with both climate acting on the carbon cycle and with the CO2 level changing climate through it’s role as a greenhouse gas. The changes over time have been described as a “chicken and egg” situation in which changes in one component affect the other – however the first one was changed initially (Lorius et al, 1990). Thus the leads and lags involved doesn’t have any impact on climate sensitivity calculations, but it is important for understanding carbon cycle feedbacks which might affect future concentrations of CO2. Allègre makes the standard (and illogical) contrarian argument that if eggs follow chickens then chickens cannot follow eggs, and highlights the paper by Caillon et al, 2003 that constrained the CO2 lag to about 800 years (though with large uncertainties) based on work from his PhD. According to Allègre, Caillon was then ‘punished’ by his institute (which is mine too) for publishing this paper. So I called Nicolas to ask about this ‘punishment’. Once he stopped laughing, he pointed out that he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing (developing measuring technologies) and is very happy with his permanent (tenured) position at CNRS. I’m sure more people would love to be punished like that!
  • It is a very common technique in debating to try and suggest that your argument is correct by claiming that more and more important people are agreeing with it. Allègre makes frequent use of this tactic, but Sylvestre Huet made the effort to call some of these alleged “heretics” and “insurgents” and found that they didn’t agreed with Allègre’s position at all. Allègre additionally claims (p138) that there is even numerical proof for this reversal in the opinion among “american specialists of climate”. However, the source for this claim was a 2009 survey among American TV weather presenters. In a further effort to round up some support, he cites Bill Ruddiman’s hypothesis that human land use change was an important climate forcing over the last few thousand years. But Ruddiman’s theory works via the influence of prehistoric man on the global methane and carbon cycle and needs their greenhouse effects to work! [RC note: Allègre isn’t the only contrarian to have mistakenly dragooned Ruddiman to their cause – see this earlier example!]

Overall, the book is as full with conspiracy theories and insults against climate scientists as any blog you might find on the wilder shores of the internet. However I have never seen something as bad as this from someone who is a leading member of a National Academy of Science. Lindzen (a member of US National Academy) writes articles that are a model of scientific decorum in comparison! In describing the history of the different IPCC reports Allègre introduces the different participants as “religious fanatics”, “Marxists” in search for new arguments to destroy the civil society, “greedy” and “mediocre scientists” (all literal expressions from the manuscript). The list of accusations against Jim Hansen for example is nearly unbelievable. Among other things Allègre makes the astonishing claim that during the last 15 years Hansen has done no scientific work and that he has forced his collaborators to put his name on the publications. Over that period, Hansen has listed 68 publications with 37 as first author – thus the scale of his perfidy would need to have been immense! I asked Gavin whether GISS is really the slave camp implied, and he just laughed. Hansen presumably can’t be bothered to deal with this kind of accusation, but Allègre’s claim is almost certainly libelous.

The truly astonishing thing though is how hermetically sealed and impervious to fact Allègre’s whole argument is. No-one is honest, every result is fraudulent (excepting of course, Allègre’s ‘true curves’), no-one is without an agenda (except Allègre of course, and possibly Michael Crichton) and any scientist espousing the mainstream view or journalist questioning him is a Stalinist. Any contradiction of his arguments is simply proof that you are part of the conspiracy. It is this error that is the equivalent of ‘dividing by zero’ – once you have convinced yourself that only your own opinion matters, you can prove absolutely anything to your own satisfaction – but, unfortunately, to no-one else’s.


462 Responses to “Claude Allègre: The Climate Imposter”

  1. 1
    Sou says:

    It would be unbelievable that someone would deliberately choose to wreck their reputation like this; except he’s not alone in doing so. He seems to have reached new depths compared to others who’ve ruined any reputation they had (like the much more modest unachiever, Plimer).

  2. 2

    It looks like Ian Plimer may not find winning the
    “most mistakes in a single book” Oscar
    quite so easy after all.

  3. 3
    j. favors says:

    Brain Sussman, a meteorologist/radio host in the Bay Area, has recently released a book that, which seems to be similar to what Allegre tries to imply in his, bluntly calls all climate scientist Marxist that are working to redistribute the wealth of the world. When did things change from name-calling the science to name-calling the scientist?

  4. 4

    Apologies for asking an off-topic question, although related to climate science.. I see Barton Paul Levenson on this site from time to time – does anyone know how to get in touch with him, his website doesn’t have contact details (maybe deliberately) and I wanted to quiz him about his CO2 saturation article – http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Saturation.html – which doesn’t seem quite right, but it could be my mistake. Nothing wrong with the explanation or physics, more the usefulness/validity of the model. All in the cause of making a good “Part Eight – Saturation” for the http://scienceofdoom.com CO2 series.

  5. 5
    bratisla says:

    Just wanted to point out that :
    – while Stephane Foucart debunked the Allegre book, the debunking book you mentioned was written by Sylvestre Huet (who obviously is at war against Allegre). Just a minor error :)

    [Response: thanks. The html was mixed up. It should be clearer now. – gavin]

    – when Sylvestre Huet began to blow up the Allegre’s lies and errors, he asked Allegre for a comment. The answer ? “My book is a politics essay, and not a science book – so the errors pointed out are not important” (apocryphal traduction, I can try and translate his whole answer if RC wishes).
    So we have a man, selling his book full of outright LIES (the hand-drawn figures distording real scientist works in order to prove his claims are quite clear about that : it was not an accidental error) because of his scientific renown. When scientific errors are pointed out in the “science” he uses, he discards them because … “it’s political” ? So, he is free to switch at will from the scientist to the politician, and on top of that he states that it’s not important if politicians lie ?
    When I saw that he answered, I was not hoping that much. A lot of “Sylvestre Huet is intenting a court case in witchcraft against me”, a bit of “Galileo was right”, lots of “I was deliberately misunderstood”. But saying flatly that politicians can outright lie without consequences ?

    (on a side note, did you know that Allegre is against AGW but promotes CCS “because it’s important not to pollute ? Quite strange : CO2 in itself is not a pollutant, it’s his IR absorption band as well as the time it needs to go back in the biosphere/aquasphere which is problematic. He surely knows that. We cannot understand his positions …
    unless we know that “his” geochemistry laboratory got funds by Schlumberger to study CCS. And Courtillot (the infamous “skeptic”) belongs to the scientific commitee for the Total CCS experiment in southern France. Joys of funding :] )

  6. 6
    P. Lewis says:

    If it weren’t for Allègre’s apparent sincerity, this would have all the hallmarks of a spoof.

    ScienceofDoom: remove the “/Saturation.html” bit of the aforementioned address to take you to his home page and then use the e-mail link provided.

  7. 7
    bratisla says:

    sorry, forgot to put some links to back up my claims (all in french, my apologies):
    – the official IPGP (the institute Allegre led) page for CCS : http://www.ipgp.fr/pages/020203.php
    http://www.total.com/MEDIAS/MEDIAS_INFOS/2212/FR/lacq-dossier-concertation-partie3-pilote.pdf?PHPSESSID=7ef43c32e44c7698b673a26e7c47a0a0 page 47 : enters Courtillot

    To be clear, they have every right to get money from industrials to fund researchs, I do not contest that. It’s just quite amusing to see them doing a salto backflip to try and justify themselves instead of saying “well we get money and we do the job” :]

  8. 8
    The Ville says:

    I think the French muppet satire referred to is more likely to be based on ‘Spitting Image’, a UK production of the 1980s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spitting_Image#Similar_shows_elsewhere

    Sorry for being pedantic, but I am British!

  9. 9
    Julien says:

    Thank you for this post. I was weighing whether I should buy this book to analyze it but now I guess not, enough qualified people have done this painful job. However, you might destroy Allègre’s work as much as you can, take his arguments one by one, people will still appreciate him and buy his work. Simply because he’s saying what ppl want to hear first, and then because he is like David fighting Goliath. And French like rebels. In addition this guy is quite good at “debating” either on TV or radio: when he gets rebutted he starts screaming, moving all around etc… Which is far from a scientific way of convincing your opponents but a very good one to convince the audience. So basically, you cannot “debate” against him: he’ll be right, won’t acknowledge his errors, insult you and will make plain wrong claims live if necessary to save his skin.
    Now it’s the media’s turn to demolish his reputation. Scientists have analyzed and criticized his work, all the tools are there, readily available for any journalist to attack him. Let’s see if it happens.

  10. 10

    Great stuff. At least Plimer can spell. Even if he sometimes writes incoherently. I like the irony of accusing everyone who disagrees with you as a Stalinist. Doesn’t Allègre know what Stalin did to Soviet science? Then again, is he even aware that he is the one demanding that reality bend to ideology?

    If this is the best the denial movement can do, you have to wonder why people are so taken in by this stuff. It’s not as if the fossil fuel business lacks resources; if there really was a sound alternative theory, they could fund developing it out of 1% of a day’s profits.

    Meanwhile I’ve been playing with numbers on AMSU-A and 1999-2009 (the longest period with whole years of data) has a strong positive trend, 4.8K per century. 2010 looks like a real warm year. I’ve done an analysis on the the year up to 25 April, and the trend is 6K / century.

    Whatever happened to the old UAH has the only sound temperature record meme?

    ScienceofDoom #4: go to BPL’s main page and you’ll find an email address.

  11. 11
    JS says:

    Is he deliberately misspelling names in order to avoid people googling them?

  12. 12
    Tom says:

    @11: If so, he’ll probably find that Google is cleverer than he is.

  13. 13
    Completely Fed Up says:

    JS, he gets the year wrong and the journal name wrong just in case you figure out the proper spelling of the person’s name too..!

  14. 14
    quokka says:

    Google might have a spot of bother with “Professor Tech”

  15. 15
    Robert Murphy says:

    Ok, besides the made up graphics, the numerous technical gaffes, the widespread misspellings, and the complete lack of any understanding of the underlining physical processes involved in climate science, what did you think of the book?

    :)

  16. 16
    Anonymous Coward says:

    The use of “Stalinist” as an insult makes more sense in context: when Allegre was a minister, he was in the cabinet of a guy who reportedly got into politics through a Trotskyite cult. There’s an ancient feud between Stalinists and Trotskyites and the French intelligentsia loves Marxists feuds. Allegre may call people Marxists in public but, when he speaks to another French intellectual, he accuses him of being the wrong kind of Marxist instead. And since none of this has any relevance to climate science or denialism, I guess the implication is that Huet is picking on Allegre’s book as part of some kind of Marxist sectarian feud. Bizzare.

  17. 17
    Mitch Lyle says:

    There is nothing new about Allegre’s behavior. For the past 30 years his riposte to a challenge has always been to puff himself up and pretend that identification of an error in his work was a personal attack. A classic pufferfish.

  18. 18
    MalcolmT says:

    #10 You said, “If this is the best the denial movement can do…” and here’s incidental evidence that it is. An avowedly open-minded non-scientist set himself to see whether ‘warmists’ or ‘denialists’ were right. He consulted the ‘best’ denialists he could find, worldwide – including Lindzen, Plimer and Bob Carter – and the nearest bunch of mainstream climate scientists he could find, who happened to be mainly on the staff of a NZ university, i.e. good people, I’m sure, but not world leaders. The latter won hands-down. The book? ‘Poles Apart’ by Morgan and McCrystal, 2009.

  19. 19
    Julien says:

    #5 Thanks for the additional details. I am interested in having more details about Allègre’s answer to Huet (“My book is a politics essay, and not a science book – so the errors pointed out are not important” ). Do you have a link to the full story?

  20. 20
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Julien (#19),
    Click on “post by Huet” link (fourth paragraph).

  21. 21
    Martin says:

    @Georg
    how well is his book selling? What is the reaction amoung the french public?
    In short, do people other than climate scientist and regular visitors to real
    climate understand that its all bunk?

  22. 22
    John P says:

    Shame on the publisher. Was there no editor to do even the most basic fact-checking or spell-checking?

  23. 23
    ICE says:

    @martin 21
    it’s a best-seller (for France). more than 130 000 copies sold by now, I guess.
    Though it doesn’t mean every reader agrees with him.

  24. 24
    meteor says:

    Thanks Georg, to make known our “dear” Allègre to our american friends.
    Maybe this will console them or, at least, laugh.
    I think we can propose another gate to denialists (it seems that they like this word):
    the Allègregate.

  25. 25
    William Freimuth says:

    Too technical. GW understanding by the public is descending (polls have it going from around 50% supportive of science, down to 34% today).

    In post #9 Julien says; “Now it’s the media’s turn to demolish his reputation. Scientists have analyzed and criticized his work, all the tools are there, readily available for any journalist to attack him. Let’s see if it happens.”

    The media is not remotely capable of presenting these facts to the general public. For real science to gain a better foothold on the debate someone must arrive who can distill and present the BS.

  26. 26

    ScienceofDoom (4): I can be contacted at

    levenson1960@gmail.com

    or

    readermail1960@gmail.com

    BTW, my web site (http://BartonPaulLevenson.com) lists ways to get in touch with me and find out about me through email, FaceBook, Twitter, and Wikipedia.

    -BPL

  27. 27

    bratisla (7),

    Merci pour les liens. Ils sont tres interessant. Au sujet de M. Allegre, est-il un idiot, fou, ou simplement un mal?

  28. 28

    Robert Murphy (15),

    But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

  29. 29
    Tom S says:

    “The phase relation between CO2 and temperatures in the Antarctic ice cores is a frequent source of confusion….Thus the leads and lags involved doesn’t have any impact on climate sensitivity calculations”

    Calling analyzing the leads and lags of parameters on temperatures as irrelevant and using this information as “illogical” doesn’t seem to wash with me. Given the forcings are anything but settled, this statement seems unjustified.

    This article would read better if it didn’t lead with a bunch of information on spelling, this only shows sloppy writing, which is on par with sloppy record keeping on temperature data, I don’t care about either, unless it is material.

    It seems most of the erroneous data the reviewer refers to initially are simply valid disagreements on interpretation of data, and not making stuff up. That’s the way it reads, based on conditional phrasing such as “Depending a bit how you weight”, “frequent source of confusion”, “at least yet”, etc.

    [Response: You have no problem with inventing the next hundred years of tree ring data? Or recognising the difference between zero and 20%? And you wonder why your critiques don’t have credibility? – gavin]

  30. 30
    Richard C says:

    Allègre had hand-drawn a continuation of tree-ring data from Hakan Grudd to show cooling over the 21st Century

    Faking the decline?

  31. 31
    jyyh says:

    Very Much Off Topic, but for some lighter reading and beautiful images visit @ http://www.brockmann-consult.de/CloudStructures/index.htm

  32. 32
    Elmar Veerman says:

    Is it legal in France to publish a book full of lies? I am no fan of the British libel laws, but…

  33. 33
    François says:

    Just a little point. If my memory is good, when C.allégre was minister of education and research, he still kept a position in the Institut de Physique du Globe. at that time he still used to be last author of many articles from IPG. even if many dopubted of his real contribution. That gives an interesting light to his claims again Jim Hansen.
    Thank you for this public health work.

  34. 34
    Bill Ruddiman says:

    A few years ago at AGU, I was wandering around a reception held by the paleoceanography/paleoclimate group when Allegre came up to me, literally dragging another guy by the coat sleeve. He said to the guy something to the effect of “Here, this is Ruddiman, you need to find out the important work he has done”. The guy he was dragging turned out to be the new minister of science in France. At the time, I was pleased with the recognition of my hypothesis. Later, I found out that I shouldn’t have been.

  35. 35
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Not only has this book been a best seller, but it has worried the supporters of AGW in France. Some 410 of them wrote to the Minister of Science, asking for funds for some sort of counter campaign in the French media. The response of the Minister was to direct the French National Academy of Sciences to hold a “debat” on AGW before October 2010. The Academy is said to be enthusiastic on the idea.

  36. 36
    Ike Solem says:

    For someone like Allegre, you need to discuss the science at a level that a curious five-year old child could understand… a challenge, that.

    For the CO2 and glacial response lag, one way to go is to take a freezer full of food, and turn off the power – now, explain to the child that this like being at glacial maximum. Smell the freezer – not much outgassing yet.

    Come back in a few days and smell the freezer again – phew! As the ice melts, the gases rise – and in the case of the planet, when those gases enter the atmosphere, they increase the radiative energy at the planet’s surface.

    As far as Allegre’s support for CCS, well… first, let’s try the technical approach:

    New Report Finds Carbon Capture & Sequestration “Profoundly Non-Feasible”

    Here’s the full study(pdf):
    Sequestering carbon dioxide in a closed underground volume, JPetroleum Science&Engineering,
    Ehlig-Economides & Economides

    Published reports on the potential for sequestration fail to address the necessity of storing CO2 in a closed system. Our calculations suggest that the volume of liquid or supercritical CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1% of pore space. This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions.

    Hmmm… calculations? What kind of calculations?

    Material balance modeling shows that CO2 injection in the liquid stage (larger mass) obeys an analog of the single phase, liquid material balance, long-established in the petroleum industry for forecasting undersaturated oil recovery. The total volume that can be stored is a function of the initial reservoir pressure, the fracturing pressure of the formation or an adjoining layer, and CO2 and water compressibility and mobility values.

    Ah! The same calculations that engineers use in enhanced CO2-assisted recovery from older fields.

    Further, published injection rates, based on displacement mechanisms assuming open aquifer conditions are totally erroneous because they fail to reconcile the fundamental difference between steady state, where the injection rate is constant, and pseudo-steady state where the injection rate will undergo exponential decline if the injection pressure exceeds an allowable value. A limited aquifer indicates a far larger number of required injection wells for a given mass of CO2 to be sequestered and/or a far larger reservoir volume than the former.

    And the CCS proponents just pulled numbers out of the air, without doing any realistic calculations!

    CCS – the last refuge of a scoundrel, indeed.

  37. 37
    Shaka says:

    @3: “…bluntly calls all climate scientist Marxist that are working to redistribute the wealth of the world. When did things change from name-calling the science to name-calling the scientist?”

    The issue of “what to do” about AGW is related to climate modeling (as you have to use models to predict what a certain change would do), but really, most of the proposed solutions to global warming are just terrible, inefficient, or contradictory. 30% of all our CO2 is produced by cars, 40% by the power industry, 10% by concrete plants, and 20% by all other categories. Any solution that, say, reduces CO2 emissions in the “other” category by 10% while ignoring the other sectors will have a very minor impact on CO2 emissions (-2%), while often costing ridiculous amounts of money to implement.

    Likewise, some solutions, like Kyoto, are so terribly bad that it appalls me that anyone would stand behind it. “Well, at least they’re doing *something*!” is not a good excuse.

  38. 38
    ArndB says:

    #Commentary by Georg Hoffmann say:
    >>>He continues:
    ”It is due to water vapour, and water vapour alone, that the mean temperature at the Earth surface is +15°C and not -18°C”.
    This again is plain wrong.<<<
    The claim is in principle correct as the “climate” on the moon shows, with a temperature difference between day and night of about 300°C.

    [Response: I think you’ll find there is more than water vapour that is different between the moon’s and the Earth’s climate. – gavin]

  39. 39
    Jim says:

    What is disturbing and inexplicable to me, as a former isotope geochemist and thus in the same field as Allegre, is that he was one of the top people in that field for a couple of decades. He won (copied from Wikipedia):
    the Crafoord Prize for geology in 1986, along with Gerald J. Wasserburg;
    the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London;
    the Golden Medal of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

    He is also a member of the French Academy of Sciences, elected on 6 November 1995, and the NAS (foreign associate). This is no ordinary scientist.

    Not only is it inexplicable, it is frightening that someone who exemplified good science can not only reject science when they choose, but scorn and deride honest scientists. We see the same thing with Harrison Schmitt, Dyson, and Lindzen. I have lived through two scientific revolutions in the earth sciences–continental drift/plate tectonics and meteorite impact as a geologic force–and nothing remotely like this went on in those cases.

    Does anyone understand why they do it?

  40. 40
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “while often costing ridiculous amounts of money to implement.”

    Proof, please.

  41. 41
    Jim Prall says:

    Thanks MalcolmT for the pointer to “Poles Apart” – added to my input queue, looks very interesting.

    There has been a strong response from French scientists to Allegre’s craziness and to the “climate-gate” line of thinking.
    climat 400 scientifiques signent contre Claude Allegre
    (Sorry to omit the proper accents – I really must learn what keystrokes I’m supposed to use for these.) It was initiated by a group of top French climatologists: Valerie Masson-Delmotte (LSCE) – Edouard Bard (College de France / CEREGE) – Francois-Marie Bréon (LSCE) – Christophe Cassou (CERFACS) – Jerome Chappellaz (LGGE) – Georg Hoffmann (LSCE) – Catherine Jeandel (LEGOS) – Jean Jouzel (LSCE) – Bernard Legras (LMD) – Herve Le Treut (IPSL) – Bernard Pouyaud (IRD) – Dominique Raynaud (LGGE) – Philippe Rogel (CERFACS)

    The linked page provides the text of the scientists’ appeal, describes the process of their formulating the letter, and links to a full list of the over 400 signers, as well as to specific complaints about Allegre from Louise Sime, Hakan Grudd, and to five sites carrying debunking of various flaws in Allegre’s book.

    The statement is quite forceful and blunt. In describing the lead-up to issuing the appeal, the page states [as translated by Google, reasonably accurately to my eye, except I fixed “make the round back” to “turn their backs” for “faire le dos rond”]:

    The debate was fierce. Some climatologists, including leaders, wanted to [turn their backs]. Do not “advertise it”. Do not suggest “that we are against debate.” But, finally, the huge anger of hundreds of researchers, revolted by the lies repeated by Claude Allegre, prevailed.

    This is just the kind of response from scientists that is required when this kind of egregious anti-science gains prominence.

    I’ve been collecting a list of similar statements from scientists. Just this winter, there have been strong re-affirmations of mainstream climate science: one from over 1700 UK scientists, one from 848 Canadian scientists (organized by WWF Canada), one from 50 Dutch scientists, and one from over 2000 U.S. scientists and economists (organized by UCS). I’ve got links to each of these as well as numerous earlier statements on this page:

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/list_sources.html

    Jim Prall
    Toronto, Canada

  42. 42
    The Raven says:

    I wonder if perhaps Allègre is neurologically impaired.

  43. 43
    Steve Missal says:

    “In politics stupidity is not a handicap”.

    Napoleon Bonaparte

  44. 44
    Anonymous Coward says:

    “The media is not remotely capable of presenting these facts to the general public.”

    Huet is a journalist working for a proeminent French daily.

    Given Huet’s relationship with France’s “Stalinist” Communist Party, I assume their fairly proeminent daily will also present his views to the public.

  45. 45
    wilt says:

    I must confess that I am a bit disappointed about the recent choices of discussion subjects here at RealClimate. After a longlasting (2 weeks) thread about CRU inquiries, the new subject is a book from a French non-expert who apparently has problems in spelling all names correctly (well, who is ‘sans-faute’?).
    If this site is really focusing on climate science, then we could perhaps discuss the recent article by S. Allison et al. in Nature Geoscience, which concludes that in response to increasing temperature there is a decrease of CO2 released from soil microbes. So these microbes are not producing a positive feedback to rising global temperatures, as was predicted in the models sofar. It seems to me that in view of the large contribution of soil microbes to total CO2 emission, this finding may have important consequences. Link: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo846.html

  46. 46
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “This is just the kind of response from scientists that is required when this kind of egregious anti-science gains prominence.”

    I forget the source of the quote, but here it is:

    All that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

  47. 47

    Thanks, Georg, for your touch of humour.
    For those who are interested, you can find the French climate scientists call on the following web site : sites.google.com/site/appelclimat/ (in French). It also includes a specific response to many false points in Allegre’s book (pdf document, 63 pages, in French) as well as a list of denigration against climate scientists (including their control on scientific journals distorting the peer review process!). Valerie Masson-Delmotte, LSCE.

  48. 48
    Witgren says:

    29 Tom S says:
    28 April 2010 at 8:14 AM

    “This article would read better if it didn’t lead with a bunch of information on spelling, this only shows sloppy writing, which is on par with sloppy record keeping on temperature data, I don’t care about either, unless it is material.”

    If it was just a case of nitpicking the odd spelling error that slipped past the editors, spelling might be irrelevent. However, when such errors are chronic and to the point that every, or nearly every proper name of a climate scientist is misspelled (and apparently one even invented), it is relevent because it call the thoroughness and accuracy of the writer into question. Those names were easily checked in any number of ways, from a five-second Google search to Allegre looking at the spelling on the scientists own work in a journal. That he could not be bothered to do so, not once but repeatedly… if he can’t be bothered to even get easily verifiable names right, how can you be sure he bothered to do anything rigorous AT ALL in the rest of the book?

  49. 49
    Jim Prall says:

    Sorry, the link I gave to the French letter did not come through. Here it is again:

    http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/home/2010/04/climat-400-scientifiques-signent-contre-claude-all%25C3%25A8gre.html

    By the way, I wonder if Allegre’s “Dr. Tech” could have been his attempt to spell Simon Tett?

    Also I noticed that the Dutch letter that had 50 original signers now has 193 Dutch and 84 foreign signers.

    – Jim

  50. 50
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Further to Witgren’s point, wasn’t all that brouhaha about the Himalaya glaciers based on a typo too?

    Is Tom S now saying that that was not a problem after all?

    Isn’t one of the “issues” denialists have with the IPCC reports are a few errors out of thousands of facts?

    But when it’s thousands of errors out of about that many facts, suddenly, it’s not a problem?


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