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IPCC report card

Filed under: — gavin @ 30 August 2010

Update: Nature has just published a thoughtful commentary on the report

The Inter-Academy Council report on the processes and governance of the IPCC is now available. It appears mostly sensible and has a lot of useful things to say about improving IPCC processes – from suggesting a new Executive to be able to speak for IPCC in-between reports, a new communications strategy, better consistency among working groups and ideas for how to reduce the burden on lead authors in responding to rapidly increasing review comments.

As the report itself notes, the process leading to each of the previous IPCC reports has been informed from issues that arose in previous assessments, and that will obviously also be true for the upcoming fifth Assessment report (AR5). The suggestions made here will mostly strengthen the credibility of the next IPCC, particularly working groups 2 and 3, though whether it will make the conclusions less contentious is unclear. Judging from the contrarian spin some are putting on this report, the answer is likely to be no.

403 Responses to “IPCC report card”

  1. 251
    Silk says:

    Kevin McKinney #239 – Wonderful thumbnail history. Thank you.

  2. 252

    Rod B 246: A shorter simpler example: show me the precise math and physics that the forcing on a global average (I’ll even give you that) over the next few decades starting today will be exactly the natural log of the concentration ratio raised to the 5.35rd (if memory serves) power.

    BPL: Does anyone remember the long, long discussion we had with Rod B a couple of years ago, trying to explain that the 5.35 in the Myhre et al radiative forcing relation was NOT an exponent? Either he didn’t get it back then, or he’s reviving that red herring anyway. How many times do we have to answer the same verdammte question?

  3. 253

    Gilles 247: The only effect of increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher -but it is still steady. The net absorbed power absorbed by the atmosphere is zero, and its heat content doesn’t change.

    BPL: Wrong. The atmosphere heats up as well. That means its heat content is higher.

  4. 254

    Does anyone want to review my book manuscript? Since it’s aimed at a popular audience, I don’t really need a scientist to review it, though naturally that would help.

  5. 255

    246 (Rod B),

    …you say a large band, I say a narrow band…

    But the question isn’t how we feel about it. We’re not buying shirts, or picking our favorite flavors of ice cream.

    The question is whether or not the band is thick enough to have a substantive impact on the earth’s temperature. To determine that you have to do math, and when you do, you find out that it is thick enough. You can describe it as narrow if you wish, I don’t care, because those are just words. It’s “narrow,” if you like, but it is thick enough to impact the earth’s temperature, and everyone agrees on that point except for a handful of fringe Internet crackpot Galileo wannabees.

    Pieces of the science ought to be explainable for the most part in simple rough understandable terms.

    For the sake of understanding, yes, and that’s what I’ve done for you. But for the sake of quantifying a problem (not precisely, just enough to know if “it’s enough”), for instance to determine if CO2 is going to be a problem in the earth’s climate, that’s not enough. But you do now have enough understanding of the mechanics of the situation to understand what’s going on, and the fact that, no matter what the numbers, 100% absorption within X meters of the earth’s surface is irrelevant (or, rather, by itself, insufficient) to the problem and saturation can’t happen at any depth.

    A shorter simpler example: show me the precise math and physics that…

    Now you’re playing games by changing the subject by leaps and bounds, and moving the goal posts. Let’s stick to the one, basic, issue at hand, the “CO2 is saturated” argument. Let’s summarize what we’ve settled on.

    We’re discussing one very simple problem which does not (at first) require math. You felt that because CO2 in a column of air 10 meters long absorbed 100% of the IR shot through it (an as yet unsubstantiated claim, but since the values turn out to be irrelevant, we’ll accept it as a premise) that the greenhouse gas effect cannot possibly raise the earth’s temperature.

    It has been pointed out to you that, because the “residence time” of the absorbed energy in a single CO2 molecule is very short, and because that energy is quickly translated either into heat in nearby, non-GHG molecules, or else is re-emitted in many directions out of that column, including being passed either up (“to the next column”) or down (to the lower column or earth’s surface), but in any event possibly out of the column, that it is very, very difficult to saturate that column.

    It’s also been pointed out that even if you did saturate that column, the effect is to raise temperatures in that column, proportional to the amount of IR, so if IR increases, temperatures in that column increase.

    Lastly, it’s also been pointed out that even if you did saturate that column, because some IR is then passed on up to the “next” column, eventually you will reach a column which it is not saturated, and so, at that point, adding more CO2 will have a noticeable impact.

    These factors, combined, without math, demonstrate that the “CO2 is already saturated in X meters” argument is false.

    And this is without even getting into the other important atmospheric concepts, such as advection, convection, latent heat, and other factors which will also affect the process and further marginalize any possible “saturation.”

    The only reason we got into math, is because you said:

    I agree with most of your qualitative description, but the re-emission seems very sparse…

    This says, to me, that you understand the reasoning, and it’s still not good enough, that you want to see the math. You brought it up, not me.

    But that statement is not relevant, since we have resolved the problem based on pure logic which, in your words, has explained matters “for the most part in simple rough understandable terms”. But you apparently feel that someone needs to prove that the values being discussed are relevant because it “seems sparse.” In that case, then you have to either trust someone else who has done the math, or else do it yourself.

    You can’t listen to all of these arguments, say you understand, then say “it just doesn’t seem like enough, but I can’t be bothered to do the math, and I don’t think I should have to, there you haven’t convinced me and I refuse to believe it.”

    So, I’ll put it to you again. Please say, categorically and without obfuscation, that you understand and agree that the CO2 saturation in X meters argument is completely, indefensibly flawed.

    [And please don’t turn this, at this point, into a tiring game of semantics. The scientific discussion has reached it’s conclusion, unless you have more, specific questions to ask, which I will answer. Please don’t at this point perform the Internet comments equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and running around the room singing “Nah nah nah! I’m not listening! Nah nah nah! Medieval Warm Period! Nah nah nah!”]

  6. 256
    Dan says:

    re: 252. “…or he’s reviving that red herring anyway.”

    And that’s just it. He has been here for several years, yet makes little effort to learn the science nor is able to admit when he is flat out wrong. What a *classic* example of a denialist, regurgitating issues that were addressed long ago either here, in the IPCC reports or other peer-reviewed journals. But he is still not “satisfied”.

    So I guess he knows something other than what all the climate researchers and every professional climate science organization in the world do, right? ;-)

    There really is no excuse to not making a concerted effort to learn the science, especially after two years of essentially repeating the same, worn-out anti-science talking points. After this long, it is safe to say he has no interest in learning the science. He, like all denialists (who also pretend to call themselves “skeptics” but are no such thing since they never change their position), just wants to stir the pot as if that has not already been done through peer-review conferences and journals.

  7. 257

    248 (Gilles),

    I’m sorry, but you have a habit of using a whole lot of words without ever clearly stating your point, so I’m not sure how to respond. I’m not even sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with the “CO2 is saturated” premise.

    Just a quick, incomplete, rundown:

    In a steady state energy transfer, there is nothing absorbed anywhere, and there is no change (statistically speaking) of anything, neither the number of photons, nor the translational or vibrational or internal energy. The only effect of increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher -but it is still steady.

    For a system in equilibrium (steady state), yes. When we reach the new equilibrium temperature, commensurate with the change in CO2 levels, this will be true. But for an interim period there is a change. You said it yourself… “increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher…”

    So what are you saying? It will raise temperatures, but without raising temperatures? You contradict yourself, so I don’t know what your point is.

    Nobody says that the stones “absorb” the water, or produce it.

    Of course not… the pool behind the dam absorbs the water (and grows), not the stones themselves. Your analogy is flawed unless you use sponges instead of stones (still not a good analogy, though), and you further obfuscate things by misapplying the components of the analogy. The point is that the water (IR) rises until it overflows the damn (CO2), and the damn is only “saturated” until the water reaches a level to overflow it. The argument in this analogy is that adding more CO2 (stones) can’t possibly block any more IR (water), because the dam is already so high that you can’t get enough water flowing in.

    And that’s ridiculous, both in reality (CO2) and in your analogy of a damn with water.

    But the real flaw here, and in the “saturated” argument, is that CO2 is somehow equivalent to stones in a damn. They’re not. Flawed analogy.

  8. 258

    #243 Rod W. Brick

    The reason the word uncertainty comes up so often is because there is and always will be uncertainties. The role of science is of course to reduce the uncertainties to a point where the signal can be identified by separating the signal from the noise (and in the process reducing the uncertainty).

    Just because it may be difficult to climb a mountain does not mean a mountain can not be climbed.

    Just because you have not yet climbed a particular mountain, does not mean that others have not climbed it already.

    Just because you are not sure if you can reach the top does not mean the top has not already been reached.

    Just because you don’t understand ‘yet’, does not mean that others don’t already understand.

    Just because you are not confident enough yet, does not mean that sufficient confidence levels to institute action have already been reached and are reliable.

    Did you or did you not read these two articles?

    Do you think they did not cover the subject well and if so, on what basis?

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  9. 259
    Steve Metzler says:

    For anyone who is too lazy to read Spencer Weart’s excellent layperson-level explanation of why the atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect is *not saturated, and will never be*, I have lifted out the relevant wording from the summary of the first article John Reisman linked to just above:

    What happens if we add more carbon dioxide? In the layers so high and thin that much of the heat radiation from lower down slips through, adding more greenhouse gas molecules means the layer will absorb more of the rays. So the place from which most of the heat energy finally leaves the Earth will shift to higher layers. Those are colder layers, so they do not radiate heat as well. The planet as a whole is now taking in more energy than it radiates (which is in fact our current situation). As the higher levels radiate some of the excess downwards, all the lower levels down to the surface warm up. The imbalance must continue until the high levels get hot enough to radiate as much energy back out as the planet is receiving.

    Any saturation at lower levels would not change this, since it is the layers from which radiation does escape that determine the planet’s heat balance.

    My emphasis added. And remember, a warmer atmosphere can retain more water vapour, which further exacerbates the greenhouse effect. Q.E.D.

  10. 260

    Nothing but nice things can be said about the IPCC. Except a few nuggets of criticism,
    none as outrageously stupid vast conspiracies to fool the world. The IPCC was right, look:

    Both Arctic passages are open, all time low ice extent record is approaching (despite famous TV accu weather meteorologist calling it back to normal in March).
    And there is literally a vast area of open water near the Pole as seen on satellite pictures. So here, from an Observer on site, in the field to all IPCC participants:
    keep it up, we must cooperate together to stop this warming before it gets too serious. To the Monkton’s of the world: Congrats your assessment and predictive powers score a perfect 0!

  11. 261
    Rod B says:

    Hank Roberts (245), a valid point.

    Someone can credibly question the science as long as he has at least a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail. Someone can credibly accept the science with a basic personal knowledge but not know all of the gory detail. It boils down to a matter of credibility of the scientists. (I prefer “credibility” over “trust” — trust improperly sounds too all encompassing.) One does not have to be able to do all of the detailed math and physics to be either a skeptic or a proponent. I doubt many exist that can and have done it all.

    I do not know all of the precise detailed physics behind the fundamental concept of GHGs, but given what I do know and assessing what I am told I have no significant disagreement or skepticism. This positive assessment results from a blend of what I do know (always striving to improve on this) and the credible acceptance of what I am told. When my knowledge indicates that some part of the science seems lacking and I question how it works, and the answer comes back either 1) that I am a “denier” and reject the whole field of climatology (a non sequitur strawman), or 2) that I am just a dummy for questioning whatever the fraternity has determined, adding often that unless I have my own supercomputer, written my own model, and already know all of the physics (which btw probably none of the answerers can say) I’m don’t have license to ask, answering simply, “it just is,” there is frankly little credibility that I can rely on.

    When I know, e.g., that molecular collision absorption broadening has a noticeable degree of uncertainty and inexactness, and a retort comes back that this is the best known part in all of climatology, well, it just doesn’t play in Peoria.

    On the other side, there is a partial excuse: fully answering some of these questions is way beyond comments in a blog, even one as scientific as RC.

  12. 262
    Septic Matthew says:

    252, Barton Paul Levenson: How many times do we have to answer the same verdammte question?

    If you want to demonstrate your dedication to science and win the argument over a 10 – 20 year span, then you have to answer each verdammte question each time. Each time, answer in succinct language and supply a reference.

    That is not the strategy of Marc Morano, to pick just one. Morano wants to get under your skin, make you angry, and make you wander off-topic. But in politics and science, endless repetition of the facts (or point of view) is what wins in the long run.

    There will be a long run. The debate about AGW and appropriate policies has just begun. If you are right (unlike Paul Ehrlich who has always been wrong), you’ll be able to show a consistent record of having been right and reasonable, and people will rally to your cause. If you say that 20 years is too long because civilization (or agriculture) will have ended by that time, then you’ll be ignored.

  13. 263
    Rod B says:

    Gilles (247,8), I like your explanation, but have a minor clarification/question. I think in LTE the percentage of vibrationally excited molecules, which depends on the temperature of the whole population (can’t say am bi ent) per Boltzmann distribution (mostly) is sans any radiation field. When a radiation field is applied and some gets absorbed, that absorption, I think, takes it out of LTE. This “incents” the molecule to de-excite — mostly through collision — with no following “desire” to get a photon back. Ergo, I don’t think emitted photons necessarily equals absorbed photons — at least in a transient condition. ???

  14. 264
    Rod B says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz, Oh, bite me! Said pretty much by Einstein and others, too.

  15. 265
    Gilles says:

    “BPL: Wrong. The atmosphere heats up as well. That means its heat content is higher.”
    Bob :”So what are you saying? It will raise temperatures, but without raising temperatures? You contradict yourself, so I don’t know what your point is.”

    Of course, if the atmosphere has got a little bit warmer , its heat content has increased a little bit – what I say is that it is totally insignificant with respect to the total energy budget, first because it is only an average temperature and of course each part of the atmosphere has got much warmer and much colder many times, with a relaxation time of a few days, so it has nothing to do with anything “stored” because of CO2 absorption, and second because this amount of energy is a constant and the average power (after division by time) vanishes. So actually CO2 has not “heated” the atmosphere : it has slowed down the energy transfer, which has led to an increase of the ground temperature, until the energy budget is again exactly balanced. May be it’s only a question of word and you agree with that, but I think we must be accurate with the whole picture. Insulating your house doesn’t “heat” it – what heats it is your heater, and insulation insures a higher temperature for a given heating power. It’s a little bit different.

  16. 266
    Rod B says:

    BPL, one more time for the drill: Question: does n[ln(A] equal [ln(A)^n] or not??

  17. 267
    Rod B says:

    Bob (Sphaerica) (255), you’re correct with the meaning of wide vs. narrow. But then it still ends up with a subjective judgement. You say spreading a 666.7 1/cm frequency by about 0.1 1/cm on either side is optically thick and significant. I say otherwise.

    I think 100% absorption within X meters IS relevant, though I agree with you in part that it can not and does not answer the saturation debate by itself; I didn’t mean to imply that. But it can play a small part. I think the saturation question is still worthy of discussion (and much more complex than just the absorption within X meters) and has not been answered unequivocally. I don’t disagree with GHG physics per se — we don’t have snowball earth primarily because of GHGs — but it is not obvious (and not been proven) that continued increases produce the forcing and sensitivity professed.

    My “sparse re-emission” comment was partially orthogonal — sorry about that. I’m still trying to account for the 333 watts/sq.m of IR radiation hitting the earth from the atmosphere.

  18. 268
    Rod B says:

    Dan, whew.

    I’m just responding to the same, worn-out pro AGW talking points.

    You evidently believe n[ln(A] does not equal [ln(A)^n].

  19. 269
    Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey says:

    Barton (254)

    Ok, 4th try to get past reCAPTCHA (if multiple versions of this get through, MOD, please delete the extra copies).

    Send me a copy ( I’d be honored to give it a go.

    The Yooper

  20. 270

    267 (Rod B),

    I say otherwise.

    I think the saturation question is still worthy of discussion…

    …but it is not obvious (and not been proven) that continued increases produce the forcing and sensitivity professed.

    You just refuse to concede even a simply point like this which is accepted by the entire scientific community, deniers (Lindzen, Spencer, Pielke, etc.) included.

    It all equals “I’m in denial, and no amount of logic will sway me, because I can always fall back on another, different argument, or at worst ‘I say otherise’. I don’t want to believe, so I won’t.”

    Disappointingly (although I really didn’t expect anything else), discussion closes.

  21. 271

    267 (Rod B),

    P.S. When I said discussion closed, I meant I won’t try to convince you any more, or argue things you consider to be disputable on the subject.

    I will, however, still be happy to answer any direct, specific questions.

  22. 272
    Ron R. says:

    David B. Benson 5 September 2010 @ 6:41 PM

    Over the long term, Miocene to present, CO2 concentration decreases have been leading temperatures down. Except of of course the mid-Miocene temperature increase, due to some natural source of CO2 producing a substantial excess.

    I’ve wondered about this. The global average temp of was supposedly something like 18.4 degrees C., 3 degrees hotter than today, with a peak at about 17 Ma and lasting 4 my. The Mid-Miocene Climate Optimum occurred at roughly the same time as two asteroid strikes at Steinheim and a much larger one at Nordlinger-Ries Germany. There were also some very large and rapid fluid basalt lava flows in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. There are other interesting happenings at the time. It was the beginning of the Clarendonian Chronofauna (Hemingfordian to Hemphillian) and the greatest burst of mammal evolution on record. I wonder if and how all these things are related?

    At the end of the Hemphillian around sixty two mammal genera became extinct (corresponding to the Messinian Salinity Crisis around 6 Ma which created a drought-like condition worldwide ending in the Great Zanclean Flood – that would have been something to see!).

    The Mid-Miocene is called analogous to today’s climate change. I wonder how hot it would have felt to us? I’ve read varying thoughts on the conditions in California from dry and desert like to very wet. There was a large inland sea that probably mitigated things a bit.

  23. 273
    Ray Ladbury says:

    There are very well laid out criteria for determining whether an effect is significant or not. I will stick with the criteria the scientists have laid out (e.g. how much does it increase the energy absorbed) rather than your criteria, if it is all the same to you.

    Really, Rod, we’ve been through this, and we cannot redefine scientific consensus to include only that which the slow students have grasped.

  24. 274
    Ron R. says:

    My guess is (I may have read this somewhere) that the increased CO2 caused the proliferation of green plants and that abundance of food is what led to the Clarendonian Chronofauna. Anyone know?

  25. 275
    David B. Benson says:

    Rod B @267 — It may not be obvious, but the main point is that in science (as opposed to mathematics and logic), nothing is ever proven. Learn more about the scientific method.

  26. 276
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, of course, has read this, but new readers might want to start with the basic work on the subject; for example
    hat tip to:
    more at:
    Pardon the digression; you’d do better to start here

  27. 277

    Rod B 266: BPL, one more time for the drill: Question: does n[ln(A] equal [ln(A)^n] or not??

    BPL: Not when the quantity you’d get by raising ln A to the 5.35th power is NOT A MEANINGFUL PHYSICAL QUANTITY. What the hell is exp(RF) anyway?

    Just because you can do it in algebra doesn’t mean it makes sense physically, Rod.

    As I told you two years ago.


  28. 278
    Hank Roberts says:

    For those wondering what Rod B is talking about, he was going on about that equation years ago, and was repeatedly answered; for example here:
    (Nominating that for addition to a Frequently Answered Rod B collection.)

    Think of adding pepper to your soup; the recipe suggests one or two shakes. You experiment with one shake, two shakes, four shakes, eight shakes, sixteen shakes, thirty-two shakes. You go beyond what makes sense physically fairly quickly. You don’t reject the recipe because you can extend it to absurdity. Recipes don’t describe what happens outside the range of reasonable likelihood. This illustrates how “all models are false; some models are useful.”

  29. 279

    #276–Hank, great links. Thanks.

  30. 280
    Dan says:

    “Rod B @267 — It may not be obvious, but the main point is that in science (as opposed to mathematics and logic), nothing is ever proven. Learn more about the scientific method.”

    Indeed, that point has been made and posted here many times over the past few years and he has been told that explicitly. Yet he does nothing to learn about it. Apparently because it does not “satisfy” him even though he does not know or make an effort to understand it. That is what denialists do. They bury their head in the sand when something comes up that does not agree with their preconceived and usually anti-science notions.

  31. 281
  32. 282

    Said pretty much by Einstein and others, too.

    I’m ‘pretty sure’ Mr. Einstein had some mathematics and evidence to back up his claims, and I’m also ‘pretty sure’ Mr. Limbaugh isn’t of that kind of scientific caliber. But the minute he, you, or anyone else, manages to overthrow an existing scientific paradigm, do be the first to let us know. I’m still trying to prop up a rapidly collapsing Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, with evidence, but I’m not averse to bailing out on a failed hypothesis, if that is what it turns out to be. Planetary science isn’t a failed hypothesis, despite your wish that things be the way you think they ought to be, and not the way they are, or were. I can just see a bunch of Intel engineers sitting around in the late 60s saying that things need to be ‘simplified’, because that’s the way things ought to be. NOT.

  33. 283
    Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey says:

    Re: Bob (281)

    Classic xkcd. Glad to know someone else has good taste. Thanks!

    The Yooper

  34. 284
    Rod B says:

    What mathematics and physics could possibly be used in support of the statement that things out to be able to be described simply?!!? And where did ‘things ARE simple’ come from? You tap dance way too fast for me.

    Hiding behind the smug canard that science can’t prove anything is getting trite. (Not to mention doing you all no favor in the striving for men’s minds — as others have pointed out.)

    I know that the fact that n[ln(A] equals [ln(A)^n] just drives some of you crazy. As I implied above, I tap dance too slow to be of any help.

    Though they were a bit faulty and far from perfect, I found the referenced articles and comments interesting and helpful. But, much to your all’s chagrin, nobody has yet shown a scientific proof (or for some of you, a detailed solid physics justification) beyond an albeit reasonable surmise (“surmise” is not quite strong enough but I can’t find the right word; I’m talking way beyond just guessing or such) and projection that 5.35[ln(C/C_0)] is a highly accurate formula for determining future CO2 forcing starting today with C_0.

  35. 285

    nobody has yet shown a scientific proof

    And as many people here have already pointed out to you numerous times, there is no such thing as a ‘scientific proof’. Once you get wrap your mind around that, you might start to learn something more specific in science. But you don’t even have the fundamentals of science understood well enough to understand the nuances of its various results and ramifications. Sad, but true. So don’t be surprised when many here understand the failure of the ‘ROD B’ hypothesis and begin to bail out on you, and start ignoring you.

  36. 286

    #261 Rod W. Brick

    A credible question is based in reason not speculation

    \offering reasonable grounds for being believed\

    You assert that \a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail\ is sufficient to attain credibility in a question. But in fact, if the basic knowledge is insufficient to address the scope of the ‘reasonable grounds’ of the science; then it is in fact, not a credible question.

    Your usage of english and inference is not credible in the formulation of succinct points that have reasonable grounds. Therefore your statements are not credible pertaining to your inferred points.

    I also prefer credibility over trust. What does that have to do with the price of global warming in China?

    Your posts appear sophist in motive. Merely new renditions of the hey you guys are rude because you won’t kindly accept my obtuse, red herring arguments that we still don’t know enough.

    In some parts you say, yeah i agree with some stuff and then say I don’t agree with this important stuff even though people much more qualified (credible) than myself have already qualified it.

    HUH? Is that a new twist on the statistical rankings backwards logic construct of Lomborg?

    It does not matter how sophisticated you present your argument, nor how subtle your connotation. The physical world absolutely does not care about how great is your inability to understand its’ processes.

    If you don’t fully understand Bernoulli’s principle does that mean you never get on an airplane?

    I can only say what it looks like and it looks like either, you are unable to understand relevance, in which case I would not want to drive in a car with you; or you are intentionally obfuscative and obtuse. In which case I would not want to drive in a car with you.

    Of course these are two entirely different reasons for wanting to not drive in a car with you. One is for safety and the other is to avoid ending up in the kingdom of boredom.

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  37. 287

    #284 Rod W. Brick

    Just for fun I googled “5.35[ln(C/C_0)]”

    Here’s what I found:

    What is the emissivity of carbon dioxide?

    Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

    You’re not looking for the emissivity. You’re possibly looking for the absorption cross section (Number density of particles x cross section, integrated over all wavelengths = absorption coefficient). This represents a probability that it will absorb a passing photon.

    Or, in the atmosphere, either its absorption coefficient (related to the distance taken for an initial intensity of wavelength to fall to 1/e of its initial value) or the total absorption.

    The graph given by the last member gave you absorption assuming the atmosphere was a single slab of air. Here’s a labeled one:

    The change in heat flow by increasing CO2 can be approximated by 5.35ln(C/C0), that’s this:$\Delta RF = 5.35 ln( C/C_0 )$

    Where RF is the change in heat flow per metre squared, ln is the natural logarithm, C is the new concentration of CO2 and C_0 is the initial concentration. ie an instantaneous doubling of CO2 causes about 3.7W m^-2 of extra heat flow.

    Here’s changes so far compared with, eg, solar activity changes.

    EDIT: I’m off to labs right now, when I come back I’ll give some rough calcs.


    What do GW skeptics mean when they say that “the CO2 is saturated” so there is no additional impact from more?

    Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

    The only sensible argument is that CO2’s radiative forcing is approximately logarithmic with concentration at these levels.

    But I don’t see whether they’re trying to argue anything here, except to fully agree with the scientific community that already says this (hell, iirc the IPCC includes this in its summary with RF = 5.35 ln (C/C_0) where C_0 is the reference concentration of CO2)

    Some people believe that this means that more CO2 will do absolutely nothing. These people are just ignorant because they haven’t realised that objects emit light too. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant about something; but the arrogance that goes with assuming the entire scientific community is wrong when you write an article about this surprises me. emphasis added

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  38. 288
    Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey says:

    Re: All commenters on RC

    Inre: Rod B./Rod W. Brick (comments beyond number)

    I am one of the last people to ever give up on someone, but seriously!
    It is patently obvious by now, after who-knows-how-many comments posted by who-knows-how-many kind-hearted posters that this person has NO intention of learning from you.

    His claims to the contrary, he is far from slow; he is well-spoken and often displays well-reasoned discourse and he knows how to get under your skin with aplomb. He has considerable oratorical skills, when he chooses to exercise them. So we are to believe that such an individual still is an innocent lamb?

    All of you can recall helping even the most obdurate person learn faster with less effort that has been put into this person. How many comment threads have been taken up by so many people all trying to help one person for so long…for naught?

    It pains me to say it, but he is here with but one intent: To waste as much of all of your time as he can, for as long as you enable him.

    I will not enable him.

    The Yooper

  39. 289
    wili says:


  40. 290
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, Science is about proof, not evidence. There is LOTS of evidence for the logarithmic dependence of CO2 forcing on concentration–
    1)it is physically reasonable, and indeed expected, given the shapes of the lines
    2)it fits the data (spectroscopic as well as climate)
    3)And PHYSICALLY, the 5.35 is a coefficient, not a power of the log. Your still do not understand the fact that just because an expression can be written MATHEMATICALLY, does not mean it should be written that way PHYSICALLY. The equations should reflect, not obscure the physics.

    So, Rod, how about it. Start talking in terms of EVIDENCE rather than like a 5 year old saying “Well, it could be…”

  41. 291
    Walter Pearce says:

    Agree with Mr. Bailey (288). Seeing the thread hijacked by this determinedly obtuse individual is tiresome and frustrating. Some, unfortunately, will have to be left behind — such is the case with this person. I’m looking forward to moving on to the next new post and the next, more lively and substantive discussion.

  42. 292
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re :#254

    I wonder if you could send it to some secure site * from where it could be emailed to potential reviewers? That would give the latter the chance to decide whether to review it. It would also keep the email addresses private. This would be a bit similar to what is done by an editor except that you could decide whom you want on the potential reviewers list and their comments would go only to you.

    * E.g. One of the Institutes of Physics (US or UK versions), who have the email addresses of their members or perhaps you could persuade someone here to act as forwarding editor.

  43. 293

    288 (Daniel “The Yooper”),

    That is all very true, except that whether Rod B knows it or not, he’s helping to educate people who start from his same position, but unlike him, do not wind up in the same spot at the end. Quite the opposite, if they are sensible, they not only learn from the posts, but also recognize the infantile and indefensible obstinacy of his position. Anyone with any sense will not only learn about the current issue, but also see something they don’t like in denial taken to a ridiculous extreme, and so try to avoid being a Rod B.

  44. 294
    Paul Tremblay says:


    I agree. I am one of those non-scientific people who has learned a bit of science from the exchange with Rod W. Brick. It amazes me at this point that Rod still won’t concede the point. When he says things like “Someone can credibly question the science as long as he has at least a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail,” my jaw almost hits the floor. All that gory detail happens to be called science. I guess Rod thinks he can make a judgment on a Tolstoy novel by just reading the cliff notes, because why let that bothersome “gory detail” stand in the way? While we’re at it, can we just get rid of all the hard math that underpins science; it would certainly make it easier to make shallow, sophist arguments.

  45. 295

    #288 Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey

    I certainly understand your perspective. My perspective derives from the following:

    1. If this is Rod W. Brick from Austin, Texas: The place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry, then there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill? If not, then all I have to say is ‘truly amazing’! Ironic and oxymoronic do not begin to describe the capacity of such meanderings to reach such heights of ineptitude in claims and consideration while illustrating, purposefully or not, apparent willful ignorance, avoidance of relevance, and diversive word crafting, all while illustrating obvious intelligence and capacity.

    2. If answering his obtuse meanderings helps others learn that such assertions, claims and perspectives truly are silly, then we are helping those that read RC to see which arguments hold up, and which don’t.

    3. As long as the moderators allow him to post, I for one, will answer as able in order to help those that may just be googling around for answers on the saturation argument.

    I agree with #293 Bob (Sphaerica)

    Those that have been around in the thread for more than a few years have had this discussion before. With the likes of the Rod B’s that visit here, we know we are here, more to help others than him. It really is his choice to remain ignorant, whatever his motive, or incapacity to comprehend reality.

    Whether he realizes it or not, he is helping to educate others about just how ridiculous, uneducated, and in fact often moronic (regardless of his clever word crafting), his points actually are.

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  46. 296
    Radge Havers says:

    Rod. Oh dear, learning the science.

    People are motivated to learn in all sorts of ways, but if you’re truly dedicated yet nevertheless going around in circles, you should probably reevaluate your situation.

    I once had a teacher who commented that some students seem to resist learning. If you’re starting from a point of view that there’s something inherently wrong with the field and that it has to prove itself ‘not guilty’ to you, then you have some internal resistance that’s going to forever work against you. This is not healthy skepticism.

    If you are afraid to give up your ideological underpinnings, I would suggest that you do what scientists go through. Actually I’d suggest it in any case. That is painful as it sounds, go back and start from scratch and either take the absolutely necessary background courses of study, or review them if it’s been awhile. These, as it happens, shouldn’t be at all controversial to you: chemistry, physics, calculus, etc. Soak them up with an open and enthusiastic mind, make them part of your intellectual reflexes. Don’t be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants. Develop a passion for accuracy, precision, and logic and you will no doubt make progress elsewhere.

    Save the creative interpretations for your dance recital.

    Age and health are also issues that you may have to come to terms with. If you are over 40, good luck–especially if you’re a relative novice at math and science. You might as well try out for the NFL. Some fields just have a sell-by date. Deal with it. I’m not saying this to be mean. I’m an old guy myself. Some things will forever be beyond one’s grasp. That’s life kiddo.

    None of this is to say that there’s anything unusually controversial, in a scientific sense, about the science of climatology, anymore than there is about evolution. There is however a lot of external noise and interference you have to cut through. I believe anyone can learn to recognize noise. Do so and you will have less trouble dealing with the actual substance.

  47. 297
    adelady says:

    Í, at least, am thankful for Bob and JPR doing the hard work on this.

    It feels a lot like getting a year 9 (or 8 or 10) student to Show Your Working for algebra. And next week and the week after. And yes, you do have to do it that way.

    Not being a scientist, I can excuse myself from these exchanges with a clear conscience.

  48. 298
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) (286), there have been jillions of precise physical experiments and testing done on Bernoulli’s principle and the flyability of airplanes. There have been NONE of my assertion above.

    I’m avoiding your other points — your (and others) mantra is getting old… or as you say boring.

    re #287, your retorts are interesting, but if you are countering me you might try countering things I actually said, which are not in 287.

    You do realize that the chiseled in stone forcing equation has been changed over the years? They probably had to hire a stone mason.

    Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey, I really don’t set out to get under your (all’s) skin, but it is so damn easy. I know my not drinking the kool-aid pisses you (all) off something fierce. Sorry.

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) says in 295, “If this is Rod W. Brick from Austin, Texas: The place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry, then there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill?”

    Jumped right into the deep end, eh? Jeeze, where did you find the ‘must be a shill for big oil’ attack? That’s about as old and worn as being way beyond trite and ignorant. Where is the scientific retort that my mother eats grass? BTW, Austin is NOT HQ for many fossil fuel companies; but don’t let simple facts get in your way. And you (all) wonder why I’m often skeptical of your words?

    Epilog: In deference to most, I keep trying to end this, but I keep getting slow ugly softballs that demand swinging at.

  49. 299
    Rich Creager says:

    Barton Paul Levenson- I’ll review the title for you. If you title your book/article The Case for Global Warming, people will think you are one of those nuts who say global warming will benefit humanity by extending growing seasons, reducing snow-shoveling etc.

  50. 300
    Edward Greisch says:

    Having looked at the science viewgraphs at
    I see that connecting weather and climate is even harder than I thought it would be and the method I was thinking of is maybe not such a good plan. I was thinking that large groups of extreme weather events, each being slightly more probable with GW, would add up to show a higher probability of GW. That wouldn’t help anyway because it is the individual events that individual persons interact with. It doesn’t help the IPCC’s communication problem.
    The sound track is omitted from the viewgraphs, making them harder to understand.