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Climate and network connections

Filed under: — rasmus @ 1 April 2010

by Rasmus & Jim

Who would think that Internet, ideas, disease, money, birds, and climate literacy have anything in common? Recent progress on complex systems and network theory suggests that they all can be described in terms of a ‘Levy flight‘. A recent and lengthy paper with the title ‘A study on interconnections between climate related ideas in complex networks’ (Ann. Trans. ICCPRS Soc. 52(3):1647-71; subscription required) by John McVenus argues that new ideas can be traced over the Internet just like dollar bills are traced at Wheresgeorge. Our take on this is that this study muddles things more than clarifying the facts – probably because McVenus tries to explain almost everything.

Random walks (RW) may have a much wider applicability than just describing climatic processes (see ‘Naturally trendy?‘). Recent progress on complex systems and nonlinear network information theory suggests that many information transfer and evolution processes exhibit characteristics that are effectively modeled by RW or its variants. These concepts can help us to understand the transmission and evolution of ideas in science, particularly when an extensive communication network (i.e. the internet) is a dominant communication medium, as it very much is today, and probably will be for some time.

There is, in particular, one type of random walk known as a “Levy flight“, which is simply a walk in which a highly skewed distribution of step distances leads to a small percentage of steps that are much larger than average (“jumps” or “flights”), altering the system state rather abruptly. Such behaviour can be studied with methods such as the agent-based approach for describing the spread of disease and meta-population models, but are used in McVenus to describe how information travels. Similar “agent-based” approaches are also used for example, in ecology for the modeling of metapopulation dynamics and the spread of diseases and wildfires.

After briefly laying out some conceptual and mathematical bases for Levy flight behavior and analysis, McVenus gets quickly to details. He begins a long litany of interesting examples with the recently proposed idea that orbital patterns in Jupiter and Saturn can in fact affect the solar center of mass, which in turn influences the level of solar activity, and hence the climate.

The McVenus paper also cites a small group in Norway which argues that changes in the moon’s orbit affects the climate through changes in ocean circulation, sea-ice cover, and hence the climate. This group coordinates a project called ‘Luna-Ticks’, and is interested in the idea of Jupiter and Saturn. But nobody has ever seen a Jupiter-tide or Saturn-tide here on Earth, and hence, they fear that critics convincingly will argue that the effect of the planets is pretty weak. But they really do like the idea, and instead proposed that the general principle could be translated to the moon and its measurable effect here on Earth. Everything but greenhouse gases, they argue, affects our climate.

Some bloggers have dubbed the process through which such arguments spread as ‘dispersion of confusion‘, which does not follow a simple diffusion law, but exhibits strange characteristics in addition to distant leaps in space. In addition to spreading, the ideas also change over time, morphing into new concepts, according to the McVenus paper.

While much more investigation into this topic is needed to get any sort of reasonable estimate of when and exactly how such conditions might be important, from an information flow analysis perspective, it is a fairly easy trace from there to the recent proclamation that astronomical alignments (astrology) can cause the climate to change, however strangely misguided such a pronouncement may be. Fair and straightforward enough; a good choice of examples with which to illustrate McVenus’ overall approach. But from here things start to get more complex–and highly interesting–pretty quickly.

McVenus further proposes that there is also a wealth of information to derive from all the “gates” and network analysis, because their number is rather limited and their identification is easy. Usually, a “gate” is a label telling the media to start a hype, being proposed by someone with limited imagination. But there are exceptions to this rule, such as “Colgate”. This notion also exists in plural form, such as “Billgates”.

The recent “Cowgate” appears to be a highly noteworthy Levy flight example. However, the gender of this gate turned out to be wrong – it later turned out really to be a “Bullgate”. It was traced by McVenus back to its press source via a principal system node in the propagation and evolution (usually via catastrophic mutation) of multiple climate science ideas at a web site called ‘the Gate Depot’.

It could have been no small task for McVenus to accurately trace these ideas as they went through the conceptual sausage grinder, rarely resembling anything remotely like their original form, much less some aspect of external reality as we know it. But perhaps this is just the typical warmist nitpicking about evidence, discernment, truth, reality and larger scale meaning.

This node represents what McVenus calls (using the slanderous invective of scientists, which has generated 99% of the bad blood in public discussions) “a mad man with an affinity for black listing”. The language here is unfortunate, even if the idea sleuthing is still first rate. And speaking of bloodsucking and bad blood, we apparently now have a ´Draculagate‘, fresh from the Gate Depot. But here we note that McVenus may have misinterpreted things slightly. Is that really the blood bank Dracula is in charge of, or is he rather just caught up fang-deep in ketchup? Where’s the photographic, or even metaphoric, evidence? What’s up with that? Caution is urged; the analysis is good but not without errors.

It is in illuminating such otherwise opaque connections that we simply would not otherwise make, that McVenus is at his best. For example, he tracks down how the longer term surface temperature increases are based exclusively on the completely untrustworthy HadCRUT data, which are contaminated by siting issues and more generally by the impossibility of calculating a global mean temperature. These issues also affect the regional to local scales that really affect the man in the street, where urban heat island effects are exceedingly extreme, notwithstanding all the snow this winter.

But the temperatures are still not a problem to humans in the summer because of manifest human adaptability exemplified by air conditioned buildings and vehicles, even in the third world where they are just not as obvious because of there being fewer of them. And even if we jump back to the first world, the European heat wave of 2003 that killed a lot of people in urban areas cannot be due to AGW because for the umpteenhundredth time weather is not climate, and thus the hyperbolic and incendiary alarmist exaggerations based entirely on the now utterly discredited computer modeling of Pachauri’s IPCC in Himalayanglaciermeltrategate need to stop forthwith. One does not often run across comprehensive arguments of this magnitude in one place. McVenus shines like the morning star.

But an even stranger change is seen in the disperion of confusion process in terms of a combination of the the Jupiter-Saturn hypothesis with the intelligent design (ID) concept. This aspect is not really fully acknowledged in the McVenus paper. To give some quick and concise background on this vast subject, it is important to note that Richard Bawkin, the author of “The Evil Particle” is critical to ID, and has argued that due to symmetry, everything has opposites in the universe. The particles have anti-particles, there are opposite spins in quantum physics (e.g. top spin and bottom spin), and so on. If there is intelligent design, there has to be stupid design too if symmetry holds. A quote from Oscar Wilde puts it nicely into perspective: “Where the devil is the Devil in intelligent design?”.

In logical terms, idiotic designs just proves natural selection, because over time, idiotic design doesn’t survive. A new research project proposed by John Spence had an objective to try to prove the existence of the anti-intelligent design. Colleagues have informally and jokingly threatened to nominate him for the igNobel prize. Anyway the project proposal had changed when it was submitted to the Norwegian Research Foundation: Instead of looking into evil issues, the project proposed to look for stupid designs. In particular it aims to look into stock markets, Icelandic banks, Greek economy, and accelerator pedals in hybrid cars.

However, the McVenus paper turns into a more tangled mess when it at great length discusses the propagation of ideas based on the church of ‘The Flying Spaghetti monster‘ (FSM) and almost neglects ID. The paper should have noted that FSM is an anti-thesis to the ID. Nevertheless, FSM has a say on global warming and hence influences the dispersion of confusion. According to FSM, global warming is inversely related to the number of pirates in the world. In November 2003, ‘Pirate Bay‘ was founded in Sweden, correctly acknowledged in McVenus, and the Swedes managed to elect representatives from their Pirate Party into the European parliament. Since then, some FSM-climate-protagonists have argued that the recent levelling off in the global mean temperature (from CRU!) can be explained. We think that this idea is unconvincing, even though the global mean temperature from CRU hasn’t really increased much since 2003.

An interesting and somewhat related point is that John Spence also has claimed that there must be anti-blogs too, and that there exists an unrealClimate-site. It’s not so straight forward to find it, as it uses a different name, however. Bart Verheggen from wuttsupwiththat, has pointed out the site UnrealClimate’s real name may be “blogal cooling”, but others suggest that the name of the anti-site is just made up with ‘real’ and ‘climate’ in reverse order (although they would have to swap ‘.org’ with ‘ists.com’).

There are also experts and un-experts, and organizations such as the Hartland institution provides a list of known experts in the world – and they say that an ‘expert’ is a person who does not think that an increase CO2 can lead to climate change. Many of these men and women provide part of the nodes in the agent-based approach models.

Finally, one remarkable conclusion about the spread of confusion in the McVenus paper, published by the Silly Paper Publishing Inc (SPPI), is that it’s distribution has a strong resemblance to the migration of cuckoos. In addition, cuckoos do lay eggs, and hence form new generations with new characteristics, thus changing over time, just like the ideas. Hence, he concludes, it is very likely that the confusion is spread by birds.

UPDATE: Apparently the recent story regarding the global warming activist who froze to death was missed by us. We apologize for this rank oversight; fortunately numerous other highly reputable news outlets known for their thorough fact checking have been all over it, even if their original reports of this tragedy have in some cases gone missing for some reason.

UPDATE AGAIN! Apparently, there are some who deny this story about network – they claim there are disrupted networks!

173 Responses to “Climate and network connections”

  1. 101

    #95 Re. Jim’s response/link

    Classic! As Yoda would say: ‘the irony is thick with this one’.

    VIDEO: A Climate Minute
    History of Climate Science
    Arctic Ice Melt


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
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    Sign the Petition!
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  2. 102

    #98 Andrew

    Snowfall extent most likely attributed to the negative phase Arctic Oscillation (AO) mixed with increases in atmospheric moisture content and localized events such as El Nino. Generally speaking, warmer oceans mean more atmospheric moisture and more atmospheric moisture in winter can reasonably be expected to precip more snow. But more snow does not always mean more snow extent. Without the neg. AO, maybe we would have just gotten more of a pile in N. lats?

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/arctic-oscillation-ao

    I’m curious about the strength of the negative AO. I doubt it can be connected to global warming but it is interesting that it seems to be the strongest recorded since 1950. Certainly it could just be an anomaly though, but an interesting one.

    VIDEO: A Climate Minute
    History of Climate Science
    Arctic Ice Melt


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
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    Sign the Petition!
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  3. 103
    mike roddy says:

    OT, but the denier sites are all ablaze with what they are claiming are extremely high current Arctic ice levels. I’ve been in a bad enough mood to go to their sites and try to wise them up, but would appreciate a few links so I will be better prepared.

  4. 104
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Arctic ice

    Mike, they’re getting excited about the weather.

    “About average” is the new “Extremely High” as you can see here:

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

    The NSIDC site updates usually in the first week of the month; they should have new information sometime this week.

    It’s not going to change the trend, unless hell also freezes over at the same time:
    http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20100303_Figure3.png

  5. 105
    Hank Roberts says:

    > It’s too elementary for the experts!

    Funniest thing I’ve read yet in the thread.
    From your own postings here, you haven’t understood the subject yet, so you want your draft evaluated only by people who aren’t experts, because ….???

    Experts annoy writers who want everything simple?
    They worry over details?
    They want the reader to understand reality?

    http://www.entish.org/wordpress/?p=638

  6. 106
    flxible says:

    Mike@103 What counts is mass balance not extent, the thickness is what’s decreasing, less “multi year” ice all the time. Also see this page [and the video there]

  7. 107
    Ron says:

    Ref #103
    Firstly it is necessary to accept that Arctic sea ice has recovered since its low in 2007 and almost reached its long-term average value early in April. Northern hemisphere winter snow cover over land was also the highest since 1978. On the other hand Antarctic sea ice, which has generally been increasing, is currently below its long-term average. The reasons for this are as much to do regional circulation patterns as temperature changes.

    My recommendation is not to get involved in arguments over short term trends. The data show that the trend for total snow and ice cover over the last 30 years has been been for a reduction of a few percent.

  8. 108

    #103 mike roddy

    hmmm, asked and answered but I already wrote this so hope it maybe adds

    Context is key.

    Ice extent is not ice mass/thickness/volume. When it is dark and cold in the Arctic, ice extent grows back. This happens every year. There is a nice little video on this page that might help:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/arctic-ice

    What is more important is the September minimum, when the sun is hitting the Arctic and the trend on summer minimum is clearly down which will allow the Arctic to absorb more heat energy, which of course reduces the ability to reform multi-year ice and the multiyear ice is trending down strongly.

    It is difficult for people to get their heads around the idea that winter is cold, especially when there is no sunlight. The Arctic is actually dark in the winter. It’s weird, but people still don’t seem to understand that the north pole gets very cold in winter????

    Kind of mind boggling!

    VIDEO: A Climate Minute
    History of Climate Science
    Arctic Ice Melt


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

  9. 109
    Petro says:

    Denialists are always all over their narrow-minded sphere every time one of the zillion weather time series temporarily seem to support their view. Yesterday it was ASU satellite temperatures, today Arctic ice, tomorrow a rainy day in Texas.

  10. 110
    wilt says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote (#86), with respect to the overview in Der Spiegel, (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,686697,00.html): “Der Spiegel has simply chosen to regurgitate a decades worth of denialist lies”.
    However, the WMO consensus article in Nature Geoscience that they discuss
    (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n3/pdf/ngeo779.pdf) was published less than two months ago. From the abstract: “Therefore, it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability expected from natural causes.” It seems to me that this conclusion is not coming from denialists, and that this consensus is new, not a regurgitation from previous decades.

  11. 111
    Hank Roberts says:

    ‘wilt’ – you’ve contradicted yourself, apparently misreading the Nature Geoscience abstract and missing some important sentences after the one you quote.

    They said
    “Therefore, it remains uncertain whether past changes …”

    You wrote “this consensus is new.”

    But: _remains_uncertain_ — has been the state of things for quite a while, that it’s uncertain. Don’t confuse uncertainty with consensus.

    That would be a denial-type talking point, “they all agree they don’t know.”
    That would be misreading what’s on the page.

    And the key part is what follows — the consensus about anticipated increases. That doesn’t appear to be new either.

    So — where are you finding something new here?

  12. 112
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Firstly it is necessary to accept that Arctic sea ice has recovered since its low in 2007 and almost reached its long-term average value early in April”

    Why is that necessary?

    And note: it’s still well on track for continuing the past 40 year decline average. Please explain how this is a good thing.

    I am all ears…

  13. 113

    There has been no meaningful recovery of Arctic sea ice, for reasons fully explained above.

    It’s really foolish (or disingenuous) to think that a couple of weeks of (admittedly startling) growth in ext has any long-term significance.

    Wait and see.

  14. 114
    John E. Pearson says:

    111: Hank quoted: “”this consensus is new.””

    I would argue that there is never “new” consensus. By the time consensus
    forms it is necessarily old. A new point is articulated. First people say “it is wrong.” Then they say “it is trivial.” Eventually it becomes the accepted view (aka “the consensus”) that it is both correct and non-trivial. By then it is no longer new and people will have forgotten who said it the first time.

  15. 115
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wilt, I would contend that the jury is and always has been out on tropical cyclones. I remain to be convinced either way on that one. It is certainly a threat to take seriously, as it could have severe impacts, especially when combined with rising sea levels. (I think that this is a good example of a threat posing serious risk, but still uncertain.)

    Again, Der Speigel is looking for a “man bites dog” angle, but the authors are simply too clueless about what the science actually says. It’s a piss poor effort.

  16. 116
    GlenFergus says:

    Veteran science journalist at the Australian public broadcaster, Robyn Williams, sports a wicked sense of humour, and has been known to run a few early April specials himself.

    Realers might be interested in his latest effort. Actually April 3 and nor even slightly funny … except to insiders. It amounts to both barrels directly at his organisation’s pompous chairman, who recently called for more “balance” (i.e. denialism) in ABC AGW coverage.

    (Err, guess that would be four barrels: Dunlap, Freudenburg, Oreskes and Schneider, from the AAAS San Diego. I liked Freudenburg’s “last below average month” thing, even if his (deliberately?) dubious stats might blow Tamino’s fuse.)

  17. 117
    David Miller says:

    Mike asks in 103 about arctic sea ice…

    Mike, the only way the ice could actually increase in extent this spring is for it to freeze.

    If it froze in March or April, how thick might it be? I’m expecting that it’s very thin indeed and will last about as long as the last snowstorm of the year. As others have pointed out, it’s only stuck around due to unusual weather patterns that haven’t yet blown it out to sea.

    What I expect to happen is:

    1) In the next couple of months the weather pattern will change and all the new ice will blow out to sea. Even if that doesn’t happen:

    2) The thin first-year ice (it was warm up there when it should have been freezing – remember the “global warming can’t be happening because it’s cold in Florida” meme?) will melt at record rates.

    3) The multi-year ice was reported to be “rotten” last fall, and will also melt to new record lows in both extent and volume.

    4) The record melt this year will be assisted by el-nino driven warmer currents.

    My guess is that for these reasons we’ll see record low September minimums. And that at some point it’s going to melt at record rates – best odds are with the new ice that built up in march disappearing in a hurry.

    To the guys who run this site – great post. I’m sure you had a lot of people going until halfway through the post. The sheep albedo was obvious from the start.

  18. 118
    Brian Dodge says:

    “Firstly it is necessary to accept that Arctic sea ice has recovered since its low in 2007 and almost reached its long-term average value early in April.” Ron — 5 April 2010 @ 12:51 PM
    I downloaded the Arctic Sea Ice extent data for January, February, and March 2010 from http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv, and averaged the values, getting ~13.6 million km^2. Compare this with the numbers for JFM average extent (blue line) on the graph at http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2008.jpg. The peak extent being delayed to the end of March, and looking at daily averages gives a deceptive picture of what’s happening. I think the shift of the peak represents a response to weather rather than climate, because the sea ice is predominantly thin first year ice. As the AO changes in future years, changing the wind stress on the thin first year ice, spreading it out in some years, and compressing it to lower extent in others, I think we will see larger variability and a continuing, albeit noisy, overall decline.

  19. 119
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Mike, the only way the ice could actually increase in extent
    > this spring is for it to freeze.

    I think that’s wrong. Remember the “extent” is the area with 15 percent ice cover. So an area covered with ice that breaks up and spreads out also makes the “extent” greater.

    I’d guess that what we see is an increase of area covered by frozen ice as it’s freezing up, then a further increase as that frozen ice starts to break up and spread out. I don’t know where that falls on the curve, if so.

    It would be followed by a drop as the ice thins out to below that 15 percent cover amount — or gets concentrated again by the wind for that matter — per pixel, and remembering there’s adjustments for angle and cloud cover that have to be made, which is why the final numbers take a while.

  20. 120
  21. 121

    What Hank said. . .

  22. 122
    RedLogix says:

    A new documentary several years in the making “There Once was an Island” releases this week. Beautifully and intimately filmed it’s more or less a labour of love from Lyn Collie, a New Zealand woman based in Auckland.

    “Three people in a unique Pacific Island community face the first devastating effects of climate change, including a terrifying flood. Will they decide to stay with their island home or move to a new and unfamiliar land, leaving their culture and language behind forever?”

    http://www.thereoncewasanisland.com

  23. 123
    Ron says:

    My #107 comment on #103
    Some commentators have picked up on the first sentence of my comment, about the current level of sea ice, and ignored the final conclusion, that the long term trend is downward. (http://www.climatedata.info/Impacts/Impacts/snow.html). After 2007 too many people rushed to claim that Arctic ice would disappear before the Himalayan glaciers. It’s not surprising that others jumped on the current situation to disprove it. Climate change is about long-term (>30 year)trends not extreme events.

    The parallel discussion in this thread on the consensus on tropical storms is also relevant. Long-term data from 1850 suggest that cyclone activity has increased during periods of increasing temperature (1870-90, 1910-40 and 1975-2005) and fallen between these periods. Overall there is a slight upward trend.

    I have worked with climate data all my professional life and recently have spent a lot of time putting together data sets of long-term data. If I was to write the next IPCC report (which of course I won’t be) my message would be “It’s not as bad as we thought but we are more certain.”

  24. 124
    Hunt Janin says:

    This may be a foolish question but I’ll ask it anyway:

    – I am told that if a huge glacier suddenly collapses, sea level will quickly rise by several meters. How much advance warning, if any, would we have of such an impending collapse?

    [Response: This is very strange. What ‘huge glacier’ are you talking about? There is no single glacier that large (i.e. the whole of Greenland!) that is going to ‘suddenly collapse’. If your question is more related to the speed of propagation of sea level anomalies, then this is related to the ‘shallow water’ wave speeds = sqrt(gH) or about 150-200 m/s in the deep ocean – the speed of a tsunami. – gavin]

  25. 125
    wilt says:

    Ray Ladbury (#115), thanks for your response to my earlier remark (#110).
    In your initial comment (#86) you suggested that Der Spiegel only presented ‘denialist lies’. With respect to tropical cyclones you now write: “I would contend that the jury is and always has been out on tropical cyclones”. I can agree with that formulation. In my perspective the suggestion had always been that the greenhouse effect was somehow responsible (IPCC-report: “It is more likely than not (>50%) that there has been some human contribution to the increases in hurricane intensity”. Therefore for me (and perhaps for some other people as well) the WMO consensus report discussed by Der Spiegel had news value.

  26. 126
    jyyh says:

    #102 John P. Reisman said: http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/arctic-oscillation-ao

    I’m curious about the strength of the negative AO. I doubt it can be connected to global warming but it is interesting that it seems to be the strongest recorded since 1950. Certainly it could just be an anomaly though, but an interesting one.

    I second that and would gladly welcome an article or two on the subject of possible synoptic scale weather patterns in a warmed-up world. I know as the oceans warm they’ll keep the heat during autmuns better than the continents but is this enough to change the AO mostly negative during winters? The evaporation during dark months might lower the average pressures over the warmer open ocean giving higher pressures over the continent (as happened last winter) but is this effect seen in models, and are there other things affecting the atmospheric circulation? No doubt the exceptional weather events will continue to happen what with all the extra energy in the system and the imbalance of radiative equilibrium, but I for one would like to see some weather maps of a warmed-up world. I’d think those as a guidance of what might be coming my way, as it is clear weather is not climate. But knowing this site is about science and not weather forecasting I doubt I won’t see those here…

  27. 127
    Sou says:

    Might be worth mentioning that the only spot where the arctic sea ice area is well above the anomaly from the 1979-2008 mean is the Bering Sea, which completely melts every summer. I think I read the ice is being blown out there. (And the mean is the warming period – including up to only two years ago, not the distant past.)

    Everywhere else in the arctic it’s just sitting around the 1979-2008 mean, some below, a couple just a smidgen above. So in a few short weeks, the deniosaurs will move onto to something else.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.2.html
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/index.new.html

  28. 128
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Hank, you realise that to a denialist, that graph shows the March measurement for 2010 to be above the line.

    They of course omit the fact that the line is a decreasing trend…

  29. 129
    Nick Gotts says:

    Hey! You’ve pinched my idea for an FP7 proposal on the epidemiology of not-even-wrong ideas in the denialosphere :-p

  30. 130
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “After 2007 too many people rushed to claim that Arctic ice would disappear before the Himalayan glaciers.”

    I believe you’ll find the assertion was about an ice-free North Pole.

    NOT an ice-free arctic.

  31. 131
    Completely Fed Up says:

    PS: “If I was to write the next IPCC report (which of course I won’t be) my message would be “It’s not as bad as we thought but we are more certain.””

    would be wrong.

    It’s WORSE than the IPCC projected in most measures of “worseness”.

  32. 132
    Walter Manny says:

    wilt, the Der Spiegal article is not a collection of denialist lies unless one takes the extreme position (note I am not saying incorrect, just extreme) that journalists are unable to accurately cover climate science unless they confine themselves to illuminating the struggle of scientists vs. liars. The article is a useful summary of the plight of Jones, the IPCC and climate science in general as a result of the exposed UEA emails now under formal investigation. It is not welcome news here, but while I am sure the article has inaccuracies such as all summary articles must, that the news is unwelcome does not make it untrue. Might be a good idea for a new RC thread to allow folks to pick at the 8 parts that comprise the thing — it is a major article in a major magazine in an important country.

  33. 133
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Ron
    > Climate change is about long-term (>30 year)trends

    Well, the number depends on the particular data set you’re looking at; you need to assess the natural variability to determine how many data points, over how much time, are needed to have a reasonable chance of saying a trend exists.
    Robert Grumbine has a good explanation of this aimed at high school level.

  34. 134
    wilt says:

    RedLogix (#122) pointed our attention to the release of “There Once was an Island”, where “Three people in a unique Pacific Island community face the first devastating effects of climate change, including a terrifying flood.”
    From your description, it sounds like this may be a nice movie, a piece of fiction. But why should it be called a documentary? A reasonable prediction for sea level rise during the rest of this century would be about 30 cm (see also the earlier thread about Sealevelgate). Which island are we talking about, that would soon be devastasted by a terryfying flood? Unless you are referring to the effects of a tsunami, of course, but since you mentioned climate change I suppose this is not what the ‘documentary’ is about.

  35. 135
    wilt says:

    Walter Manny (#132) wrote:
    “wilt, the Der Spiegel article is not a collection of denialist lies.”

    In order to avoid misunderstandings: I have never said it was. In a previous comment (#110) I took distance from a remark by Ray Ladbury (#86) who initially had written that der Spiegel “has simply chosen to regurgitate a decades worth of denialist lies”.
    And I agree with you that it would be better to have a serious debate about the summary in der Spiegel, rather than ignoring it or calling it just old lies.
    PS I should give credit to Ray Ladbury that in a later comment (#115) he admitted that with respect to tropical cyclones, one of the topics discussed in der Spiegel, the jury was still out.

  36. 136
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “unless one takes the extreme position that journalists are unable to accurately cover climate science unless they confine themselves to illuminating the struggle of scientists vs. liars.”

    I call strawman.

    Who says that, apart from you Wally?

  37. 137
    Hunt Janin says:

    Thanks, Gavin, for your comments on my post no. 124. My question was indeed pretty foolish but it initially arose in my mind thanks to another climate-issue website.

    There a writer asserted that a major catastrophe would be needed to mobilize enough political will to deal with rapid sea level rise. What do you think about this hypothesis? Excluding a mega-ice collapse, what other catastrophe might prod the developed world into action?

  38. 138

    #123 Ron

    Are you including the feedback mechanisms in your considerations?

    Also consider that the feedbacks are not merely physiological but also tied to human economic systems in relation to natural economies.

    The term “not as bad’ is relative. Not as bad as who thought?

    Who cares if the Himalaya beats or does not beat the Arctic? It’s all bad on different levels. Climate state change, albedo, Northern Amplification Effect, Loss of fresh water supplies from the Himalaya, etc.

    Also, slight increases in cyclone activity (or strength) can easily translate into large economic impacts on landfall TC’s


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  39. 139

    #126 jyyh

    I should have said ‘I doubt it can be connected to global warming yet’.

    It may be that state changes tied to circulation pattern changes and ocean cycle changes may show that strong negative AO events may be tied to global warming.

    Just don’t know yet.

    I think all these pressure changes latitudinally certainly will have impacts and am curious if anyone is playing around with that yet?


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  40. 140
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “In a previous comment (#110) I took distance from a remark by Ray Ladbury (#86) who initially had written that der Spiegel “has simply chosen to regurgitate a decades worth of denialist lies”.”

    Um, they are lies.

    And denialists often repeat them in a zombie argument fashion.

    The ONLY point which you can debate Ray’s accuracy is the “simply” bit. But since there doesn’t seem to be any attempt at fact checking, this is very much supportable by evidence available.

    If you have any insider information to change that conclusion, please show it.

  41. 141
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “A reasonable prediction for sea level rise during the rest of this century would be about 30 cm (see also the earlier thread about Sealevelgate).”

    More like 80cm – 200cm.

  42. 142

    NSIDC just released their update on ice extent:

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/


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  43. 143
    wilt says:

    Completely Fed Up (#140) asked me for “insider information” that could change his conclusion. I suggest that he first reads my previous comment (#110) including the link that I provided to the WMO consensus article on tropical cyclones (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n3/pdf/ngeo779.pdf). For a more in-depth analysis of this article, see http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/02/updated-wmo-consensus-perspective-on.html

  44. 144
    wilt says:

    John P. Reisman (#142) provided a link to the new update on sea ice from NSIDC. There was a remarkable brief interview with NSIDC’s director Mark Serreze in the London Times a few days ago. Mark Serreze was surprised by the Arctic’s recovery from the great melt of 2007 when summer ice shrank to its smallest recorded extent. “In retrospect, the reactions to the 2007 melt were overstated. The lesson is that we must be more careful in not reading too much into one event,” Serreze said. Times Online April 4, 2010
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7086746.ece

  45. 145
    Walter Manny says:

    CFU, strawman constructed here: “Andy [Revkin] tries, but he is especially guilty of ‘taking the middle road’, a tack that works poorly when the dispute is between scientists and liars.”

  46. 146
    flxible says:

    wilt@144 quote Mark Serreze: ” (…)The lesson is that we must be more careful in not reading too much into one event”
    Yes, such as the event of late expansion of sea ice extent in March 2010. Wait for Sept 2010 to make comparisons of summer sea ice extent.

  47. 147

    #144 wilt

    Which is why climate is the examination of trends and associated influences that drive the forcings involved in inducing the trends.

    You have presented a classic red herring. SO, you want fries with that?

    Context is key. Your focusing on information out of context is silly.


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  48. 148
    J. Bob says:

    #108 John, speaking of sea levels, in going to the National Oceanographic Center
    http://www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/psmsl_individual_stations.html
    I started checking the sea rise, and fall, over the past few decades. In going down the west coast of North America, starting at Juneau the sea level dropped by a couple of meters. At Victoria B.C. it was about flat, Neah Bay, it dropped, while farther down the coast to Montery it was about flat over time. Any ideas why that would happen if the sea levels are rising?

    [Response: If you are seeing 1 m changes then you are looking at earthquakes (take a look at Juneau, AK, around 1964), or at isostatic rebound (yup, the land in BC and Alaska is going UP so sea level seems to be going down, because the land is still responding to the loading of ice (2 km of it or so) that sat on it 14,000 years ago.–eric]

  49. 149
    grzejnik says:

    Great post I love a good April Fools post no matter which forum! Keep on keepin on. I’m more of a skeptic/denier but I really enjoy and appreciate this forum and the excellent posts and debate. Thank you and have a great day!

  50. 150