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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. 301
    Septic Matthew says:

    290, Ray Ladbury: Rod, Science is about proof, not evidence.

    Is that an accidental word inversion?

  2. 302
    Septic Matthew says:

    281, bob (Sphaerica)

    Cool. Very clever.

  3. 303
    Susan Anderson says:

    I have to thank you all once again for your constant efforts, but agree with both sides on Rod B. His stubborn resistance to learning real science and insistence that he is trying to learn is monotonous and irritating, but the superb patience and detailed explanations exhibited by those who respond to his stubborn insistence on ignorance are informative to the rest of us. However, I think it’s time, this time, to move on. There is so much else that is fascinating here.

    Edward Greisch, thanks for your efforts on DotEarth. And I do keep soldiering on when I have time, but it is discouraging how much encouragement disinformationalists get there and in many other public fora.

    Re methane, while the article about the Antarctic was fascinating, does anyone have current info on the north?

  4. 304
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Unbalanced balance from the BBC

    BBC Radio 4: Roger Harrabin’s ‘Uncertain Climate’ part 2.

    I was once advised to start a short talk by describing what you are going to say (preferably restricted to one point); then say it and then round off by saying what you have just said.

    Harrabin began promisingly by announcing that he was going to talk about uncertainty. But then that he was going to delve deeper into the science and then again that he was going to talk about climate models. But what we got instead was a series of chats with contrarians ‘balanced’ by what he described as establishment climatologists.

    1. An improvement. Moving on from Emailgate with its attacks on the integrity of climatologists. Better late than never.

    2. For once, there was a criticism of the fundamentalist contrarians,who claim that extra CO2 does not warm at all. None of these (such as Piers Corbyn) were named, because they were not to be part of his account.

    3. Lindzen’s estimate of very low climate sensitivity was presented clearly but never countered. It is based on post-industrial warming of the surface. Harrabin has obviously never read RC where Gavin argued that the 20th. century warming is not a good way of getting such an estimate because of the major uncertainty in the forcing (caused by aerosols). He has also not read Schlesinger who comes up with a wide range of possible sensitivities governed by a probability distribution. He has also never read Tamino on simple climate models which include inertia, probably ignored by Lindzen.

    Harrabin did not think of asking Lindzen for some details or for asking some mainstream climatolgists to comment, beyond asserting that he was in a minority. What did Lindzen assume about aerosols and climate inertia? (probably that that they could be ignored !)

    Harrabin preferred to use up the time describing how he (Harrabin) had been reporting on this subject for 25 years. So the listener might be forgiven for thinking that Harrabin had not missed anything of substance, (s)he might conclude that Lindzen has a very serious point which his numerous critics were ignoring out of wilful irrationality.

    Lindzen’s other assertion was that “the vast majority of climate models assume” that the feedbacks are positive thus leading to dangerous climate change. This is a common assertion by contrarians but I thought that feedbacks are not assumed but emerge from the models. This too went unchallenged in the programme.

    As for his central theme , Harrabin claims to have just discovered the topic of uncertainty. I find this hard to take since it is discussed on almost every page of the AR4 and TAR reports. He partly blames the BBC for ignoring the science in the past but I don’t believe that they could have censored his reading.

    There is more that can be said but it might still be on i-player so you can judge for yourself.

  5. 305
    Lawrence McLean says:

    re #284 Rod B,
    Hi Rod, just a pedantic point: n[ln(A)] = [ln(A^n)]
    as n[ln(A)] is not equal to [ln(A)^n].
    Cheers

  6. 306
    Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey says:

    Re: (298)

    QED

    The Yooper

  7. 307
    Gilles says:

    #263 : Rod, true LTE means that all degrees of freedom are locally populated statistically at the same temperature, including radiation field, that is the photon field must be very close to the Planck distribution. This is well verified in very optically thick media like the interior of stars, but not fully in the atmosphere because of its semi-transparency – which is of course the main reason for the complexity of radiation transfer. But I share the opinion of other posters : it’s useless to criticize the basic ideas of radiation transfer. Even if the center of IR lines is saturated, the wings are (by definition) not, and increasing the CO2 concentration will broaden these lines. This means that the effective temperature in this wings will be lower , since the last scattering surface that controls the emerging intensity is higher in altitude, so colder in temperature. Since the radiative budget must be balanced, this implies that the transparent continuum must carry away more power, so that the ground must be at higher temperature – but only if the incoming SW radiation to the ground is constant . And that the key point, in my view, and the main reason of criticism by Spencer and Lindzen for instance : That they may well be non linear retroactions that make the albedo larger (through clouds) and that diminish the impact of increasing GHG. Only the exact amount of negative retroaction is an issue : the basic greenhouse effect is well understood.I’m not a climatologist so I can’t say how important is this effect – I just have the feeling that the question is not settled and that there is still room for questions about it.

  8. 308

    Rich C 299,

    Thanks, you may have a point there. I’m open to alternative suggestions.

  9. 309
    Mal Adapted says:

    Radge Havers @ 296, excellent advice for Rod B. It’s true that coursework in basic physics, chemistry and calculus will give anyone the ability to grasp the foundations of AGW, and that “a passion for accuracy, precision, and logic” will help them discriminate signal from noise in any scientific discussion.

    If Rod B. doesn’t trust the whole field of climatology, however, he has no choice but to become an expert himself. He has to do work equivalent to a post-graduate degree in the field, then join the community of professionals as a peer. He has to absorb all the classic and current literature, attend the same conferences, publish in the same journals, and submit his arguments to the unsparing scrutiny of those who’ve been working in the field for longer than he has.

    Otherwise, he’s just a conspicuous victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  10. 310

    308 (BPL),

    I’ve always thought the best book titles come from picking a short phrase from the actual text, something that is cleverly vague with enough implication to make the reader think “I wonder what that means?” This also leads to an epiphany when they stumble across the phrase when reading, leading to an “ah ha” moment, and adding emphasis to the whole thing.

    Of course, what you pick has to also serve the purpose of letting people know what the book is about, although you can put something more plain in a subtitle.

    As far as something equivalent to “The Case for Global Warming,” either as a main title or a subtitle, how about:

    QED: Global Warming

    or

    The Only Logical Conclusion

    or, taking from the famous (at least to me) Sherlock Holmes quote (and it’s many variations, as Doyle used it repeatedly) “We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”:

    The Old Axiom

    When Contingencies Fail

    Whatever Remains

    Must Be The Truth

    I don’t like “however improbable” because it can too easily be mocked by deniers, although separate from such inanity, it works well, and really is the right message (i.e. no matter how much people don’t want to believe, no matter how many false alternatives or flawed arguments they come up with or how improbable they think AGW may be, it is “the truth”).

    Another Holmes quote of value might be “Any truth is better than indefinite doubt.”

    Any Truth

    or

    Indefinite Doubt

    Of course, using the Holmes quotes requires that you add a clarifying reference somewhere in your text.

  11. 311

    There’s another wave of half-baked news reports bouncing around today, which is being aimed to denigrate IPCC in part. First, isn’t glacial rebound a well-known phenomenon? I know point estimates of local sea level in Massachusetts figure it in. Second, the time constant for rebound is very long, so it seems to me unlikely that the Greenland sheet would respond to unloading quickly with respect to the recent melt. The last possibility is (sorry, I have not been able to find a copy of the original paper) that the mass estimates of Greenland melting missed isostatic adjustment — which is hard to swallow — or got it wrong, which is always possible. Thoughts? A post coming on this subject?

  12. 312

    Silk, #251–Missed your “thank you” until now. You’re most welcome, and thanks for your kind words in turn.

  13. 313
    Rod B says:

    Gilles (307), I’m not convinced that broadening per se is that significant, though it is certainly not zero. Using only the basic level math and physics, pressure broadening bandwidth is roughly +/– 0.1 cm^-1 at half (0.5) the peak intensity absorption. This spreads a 667 cm^-1 band by 0.03%. And since pressure broadening is proportional to total pressure, doubling CO2 makes virtually no difference. [This doesn't apply forever: a 100% CO2 has larger wings but still not major.] Doppler broadening adds a minuscule amount to this. At 0.1 peak intensity absorption the band has only spread roughly +/– 0.3 cm^-1. (Doppler adds virtually zero at the wider band wings.) This is 0.09%, call it 0.1% which is a noticeable spread, but it is absorbing very little radiation. [Spectrocalc gives slightly larger spreading.]

    On the other hand, again using just sandbox-2 math and physics (the actual detail gets very messy, but the basic-plus is fairly accurate ballpark), the first vibrotational line is maybe 0.4 to 0.5 cm^1 away. The absorption of vibrotational lines vary, the 1st being very little, but around the 5th line or so it gets to be 70+% of the centerline max; and there are a pile of these lines, though the absorption per line decreases rapidly the further out one goes. This seems to me to be the effective “spreading,” not the increasing pressure from increasing concentration. Though there will be more minor “spreading” with each vibrotational line, somewhat similar to the center line pressure broadening. The intensity absorption of each vibrotational line also increases slightly as concentration increases — varies a bit per line. This is where I contend there is the most absorption increase for larger concentrations, though it is not obvious at all that the marginal increases continue with the same degree as concentration gets larger.

    I need to work on the radiation part of your post.

  14. 314

    #298 Rod W. Brick

    I don’t think I have seen anyone else in the RC history so entirely dedicated to avoiding relevance. You are truly impressive.

    Your hypocrisy also shines like a beacon of silliness. First you say I am not addressing what you said; Well, that’s an easy call on your part, since what you say is often ambiguous.

    But then you illustrate your spin skills by twisting my words around. Point of fact:

    You say I said: “chiseled in stone forcing equation”, though no one claims science is chiseled in stone.

    You say I said: “you must be a shill for big oil”, though I said “there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill?”

    You say “Austin is NOT HQ for many fossil fuel”. I say, follow the money and who is paying for the nice green energy companies in Austin, who are the investors? Check the owners of the stocks. The surface may look green, but money did not grow on trees.

    I know how business works. I’ve worked wall street and I have friends in the energy business, no not the green energy business. But Rod, by all means, “don’t let simple facts get in your way”.


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  15. 315

    #311–

    Well, regulars here are well aware that the specific “uncertainties” in AR4 the story you linked mentioned basically cut one way–AR4 explicitly did not consider possible nonlinearities in ice sheet response in the projection of SLR to 2100. But those nonlinearities would increase SLR, not inhibit it.

    From the story, a less-informed reader might assume that the “uncertainties” could cut both ways. In fact, the interim Copenhagen report raised the maximum projection to 1.3 m–the story could have mentioned that as well.

  16. 316
    Hank Roberts says:

    > GRACE … isostatic rebound
    A bit more in this comment over at Stoat:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/09/_how_to_do_physics.php#comment-2787895

  17. 317
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod Brick keeps repeating the steps up to about the 1930s, then stops, illustrating how those who do not remember history repeat it over and over.

    See Weart’s book (first link under Science, in the sidebar) on the history. Read that chapter closely enough to notice the typos, and you’ll get the basic idea and understand why Rod’s simple arithmetic gets him only as far as what was known in the 1930s.

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/Radmath.htm

    “(… there is no saturation. The primitive infrared techniques of the laboratory measurements made at the turn of the century had given a midleading result. Studies from the 1940s on have shown that there is not nearly enough CO2 in the atmosphere to block most of the infrared radiation in the bands of the spectrum where the gas absorbs it….)
    If anyone had put forth these simple arguments in the 1950s, they would not have convinced other scientists unless they were backed up by a specific, numerical calculation. The structure of the H2O and CO2 absorption bands at a given pressure and temperature did need to be considered in figuring just how much radiation is absorbed in any given layer. Every detail had to be taken into account in order to calculate whether adding a greenhouse gas would warm the atmosphere neglibly or by many degrees.”

  18. 318

    #307 Gilles

    There is absolutely room for questions about it. I would prefer to see credible, or at least more credible questions though.

    My own ‘feeling’ is that we need to add the other feedbacks anyway before we get a better picture of the actual sensitivity. The earth itself is part of the sensitivity puzzle, from a general view of the system, it seems to me that the system can swing rather widely based on small positive and negative forcings that are sustained form relative equilibrium.

    Of course we are no longer in equilibrium but rather strongly biased in one direction. So I expect the dynamics to be different now. There is something to be said for reasonable consideration. I’m looking forward to deeper scientific investigation of these considerations.


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  19. 319
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), to counter me you said,

    “Some people believe that…. more CO2 will do absolutely nothing. These people are just ignorant because they haven’t realized 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. [your] emphasis added

    So you are refuting what (you think) I said that ‘more CO2 will do absolutely nothing.’ Problem is I have never said, implied, ambiguously suggested, or thought that. So why are you blaming me of being ambiguous? What I said was [emphasis in original quote, "nobody has yet shown.... that 5.35[ln(C/C_0)] is a highly accurate formula for determining future CO2 forcing starting today with C_0.” Seems pretty clear and succinct to me. Tell me you’re not going to hide behind the plausibly deniability of “some.”

    Is “Austin, Texas the place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry” or not? Which is it?

    So you looked straight at me, wondering out loud if I was from Austin Texas (place of devils) and therefore possibly a paid shill for oil companies. But you wern’t accusing me of that — just philosophizing about it Even though you would be “truly amazed” if I wasn’t….. Right. You’re good at that plausible deniability thing.

    You are correct: you never used the words “chiseled in stone forcing equation.” Though when I suggested a formula even a teensy different from today’s accepted one, you unleash your hydrogen bombs. So it’s not chiseled in stone, but evidently one had best not mess in the slightest with this part of the litany. [I know. You never actually unleashed even one real H-bomb. Just offering you some cover, free gratis.]

  20. 320

    #308 BPL: I have a talk I titled “Skeptical of the skeptics” that’s generally gone over well. How about something like “Climate Science for the Skeptical”?

  21. 321
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, this is about science. Merely saying “I have doubts” or “I’m not convinced” isn’t sufficient. What part of the equation do you doubt?

    The logarithmic dependence? If so, propose an alternative and test it against the data–which we have in abundance. What you will find is that the log dependence is the best approximate fit to the data of any simple form (and be careful using complicated forms as they can actually decrease your predictive power). What is more, in terms of consequences, any other approximation you use will yield MORE warming in the long term.

    The coefficient? Then your argument is with the data. Good luck with that.

    More to the point, if you actually DO THE MATH, you find that any uncertainties in either the form or the coefficient are insignificant in terms of how they change the consequences of climate change.

    My problem with your position is that you are using uncertainty as a justification for inaction–an unsound and unscientific practice, not to mention lazy. I criticize you harshly for this because I know you are smarter than that. So I would urge you, Rod, to move beyond your mere rationalization and look at what the relation could be and how that would affect the conclusions. In other words, be more scientific.

  22. 322

    #319 The appropriately named Rod W. Brick

    So you’re saying that the dead chickens you are waving around the room are credible, while scientists, physicists and mathematicians are saying that your arguments, WHEN PLACED IN THE RELEVANT CONTEXT OF GLOBAL WARMING, INCLUDING CO2 IS A SERIOUS ISSUE AND WE NEED MEANINGFUL POLICY QUICKLY are not credible.

    You truly are a master of obfuscation.

    Okay, let’s play it your way. The formula is not highly accurate.

    There. Satisfied?

    But let’s lay down a little more context. Let’s say it ridiculously inaccurate. Let’s say that the evidence indicates that the sensitivity may be 30 to 50% off from the current Charney estimates, or worse!

    Let’s say Charney and Hansen are both way off!!! Highly inaccurate doesn’t even begin to describe the problem, not even close.

    Okay. Now that we are saying they are way off. What might be the reality?

    There’s a lot of discussion that from the evidence and the considerations of feedbacks that are not included in the sensitivity estimates yet. The situation might be worse than previously thought.

    Oh! So it looks like you are right maybe? The sensitivity might be way off. Well that sucks.

    But that’s not your point is it. Your point is that we don’t know enough to take any action on CO2, right?

    The in-credible challenging the credible with what? Dead chicken waving. Does that fly in Peoria?


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  23. 323
    Susan Anderson says:

    I find highlighting what real skepticism is is quite useful. It’s easy to say and comes across in plain English, and is pretty much unanswerable.

    Monbiot at the Guardian helped me on this:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/feb/22/climate-change-sceptics

    Philip Machanick, is there a link to your reference? I did try google, but was too lazy to keep at it.

  24. 324
    Susan Anderson says:

    Oops, that’s Adam Corner, not Monbiot, over at the Guardian on skeptics. Link above, but here’s another:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/feb/27/climate-change-deniers-sceptics

  25. 325
    Rod B says:

    Oh! Jeeez!

    Ray, I have a minor secondary skepticism with the continuing log relation, but not a major trouble. My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis. There is, IMO, too many approximations, surmises, averages, and uncertainties with the whole business of molecular absorption and de-excitation to take it in its entirety on face value (the loud protestations not withstanding.) [A caveat, as you guys deal only in black and white: I purposefully use 'strong physics' and 'mainly on' because I am NOT saying that there is NO science and physics and math behind it; there is and some of it is pretty good. So don't retort with the meme that I say scientists are totally wrong.] First, within my scenario, there is NO DATA behind the projection; only surmises based on possible roughly similar proxies from periods with granularities of, at best, many thousands of years. Second, just for fun, explain why the extremely high confidence coefficient has varied since first proposed a couple of decades back.

    The IAC says the IPCC is not justifying the certainties well enough. [It was a stretch, but something on topic! Yea!]

    I know; you’ve said it before: I am not permitted to question if the moon is made of cheese if an astrophysics guy says it is unless I’ve been there and done a geological assay. Handy rules if you can make them stick.

    I am using my position to maybe justify major, global-wide, cultural-upsetting inaction, which is not the same (by a long shot) as your simple bimodal “inaction.” You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period. But it is a good sounding black-and-white meme strawman — and very popular I might add. And, I know there have been a couple or a few economists who have said ‘no problem; probably going to be economically good for everyone.’ I find it strange that scientific people can readily accept projections based on almost no direct data in a field that is notorious for its inability to project with anything near accuracy (can’t accurately predict the national deficit six months out with solid real time data), and which has as many naysayers. Is this the lack of skepticism that pervades climatology?

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), Are you saying that a scientist who comes up with a formula for something believes it strongly and supports it against anyone who disagrees? Well! Duh! I certainly hope so, and would expect nothing different. Would some scientists counter by saying the aginers dress funny and have bad table manners? Or are a paid shill? Sure. But, while I can understand their argument, it is neither relevant nor supportable.

    As you say, the situation might be worse than previously thought. Or, on the other hand, it might be better than previously thought.

    You say, “….don’t know enough to take any action.” See above.

  26. 326
    Septic Matthew says:

    304, Geoff Wexler: He has also never read Tamino on simple climate models which include inertia, probably ignored by Lindzen.

    In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”? Paraphrasing Trenberth and Pielke Sr., the energy at all times has to be somewhere.

    Even in mechanics the vague concept of “inertia” is replaced by Newton’s first and second laws (where the word does not appear); in the second law, there is no lag between the application of the force and the resultant acceleration, only that higher masses imply (for equal force) lower acceleration.

    If there is a lag time between the accumulation of heat by the earth system and the increase in temperatures at some sensing stations, it merely means that the energy flow is not completely, not that there is inertia.

    Hence my question: In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”?

  27. 327
    Hank Roberts says:

    SM, climate model contains more than “energy flows” — your question is based on a mistaken assumption. Surely you knew better?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=climate+model+inertia

  28. 328
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod B says:
    “… I am using my position to maybe justify major, global-wide, cultural-upsetting inaction …”

    Agreed.

  29. 329
    Brian Dodge says:

    “it seems to me unlikely that the Greenland sheet would respond to unloading quickly with respect to the recent melt.” Jan Galkowski — 10 September 2010 @ 10:03 AM

    The basis for this new work is that the isostatic rebound(up) of North America and Northern Europe from the loss of their ice caps has caused Greenland and the area around it to move down, and prior methods have underestimated the amount of this displacement. It’s not a response to the recent melt.

    Wu et al combine GRACE, GPS, and sea floor pressure measurements to more accurately model what’s happening. Dr Vermeersen(one of the et al) is quoted at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906085152.htm “We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted.”

    The Register(UK tabloid) headlined this as “Greenland ice loss rates ‘one-third’ of what was thought”, despite quoting Vermeersen saying “half the speed” in their article – apparently in some circles, “one-third’ = “half”, along with “not knowing everything” = “knowing nothing”.

    Cryosphere losses that are better quantified show increasing rates over time[1][2], and Greenland ice melts at the same temperature as other ice, so it’s probably accelerating as well. Starting with half a lentil on the first square of the chess board, instead of a whole lentil doesn’t make much difference in the long run.

    Isostatic rebound won’t affect measurements over short spatial distances, and laser altimetry[3] clearly shows that the ice is declining preferentially around the edges of Greenland and Antarctica, where the elevations are lower and temperature higher.

    I think it’s also worthwhile to point out to those who’ve gotten their panties in a twist (knickers in a knot, for you UK & Aussie? blokes) that Dr. Vermeersen also said “”For Greenland in particular, we have found a glacial isostatic adjustment model that deviates rather sharply from general assumptions. But at present there are too few data available to verify this independently.”

    The Original paper is paywalled at http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n9/full/ngeo938.html.

    [1] http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2008.jpg (sea ice)
    [2] http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/cum%20bn.jpg (glaciers)
    [3] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7266/fig_tab/nature08471_F2.html#figure-title

    @ Septic Matthew — 11 September 2010 @ 12:44 PM – Hence my question: In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”?

    World English Dictionary, Harper Collins
    Inertia:
    2. physics
    a. the tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force
    b. an analogous property of other physical quantities that resist change: thermal inertia

    For example, the daytime peak temperature lags the peak diurnal solar forcing; the longest day in the NH is June 21, but the warmest months are July and August: although Fossil fuel emissions began around 1850, Arctic summer sea ice decline didn’t start til about 1950.

  30. 330
    Rob O'C. says:

    Rod B. makes an apparent argument from incredulity:
    > I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting
    > of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a
    > pure numerical statistical basis. There is, IMO, too many approximations,
    > surmises, averages, and uncertainties with the whole business of molecular
    > absorption and de-excitation to take it in its entirety on face value (the
    > loud protestations not withstanding.)

    Do you use an infrared remote control? A CD, DVD or Blu-Ray player?
    Do heat-seeking missiles exist? Thermal imaging? Spectroscopy?
    What about Martian and Venusian climate?
    Are those validations of the underlying physics ‘solid’ enough?
    If not, what do you need?

    > First, within my scenario, there is NO DATA behind the projection; only
    > surmises based on possible roughly similar proxies from periods with
    > granularities of, at best, many thousands of years. Second, just for
    > fun, explain why the extremely high confidence coefficient has varied
    > since first proposed a couple of decades back.

    The proxies, observational record and a physical model aren’t sufficient? What else can we base projections on?

    As for why the coefficient changed, generally that’s due to new evidence being discovered that pushes it in one direction or another – hopefully towards reducing uncertainty.

    Rod, how do you get from:
    > I have a minor secondary skepticism with the continuing log relation,
    > but not a major trouble.

    to here?
    > I am using my position to maybe justify major, global-wide, cultural-
    > upsetting inaction, which is not the same (by a long shot) as your
    > simple bimodal “inaction.”

    If there are going to be no bad climate effects, how can inaction be ‘culturally upsetting’ except to a few stereotypical environmentalists?

    How certain are you that there are going to be no (or few) adverse consequences to continued ‘business as usual’? Why?

    The balance of evidence would suggest that you’re betting on a long shot.
    You seem to recognise this with ‘maybe justify’. Why should everyone else indulge your bet?

    > And, I know there have been a couple or a few economists who have said
    > ‘no problem; probably going to be economically good for everyone.’

    The spread of economic opinion runs the gamut from the cornucopian (no climate problem, no resource limitations) to the catastrophic (business as usual will have dire climate effects, severe resource limits).

    The science suggests that there’s going to be a climate problem with business as usual, and the earth is finite.

    So to me the balance of evidence makes me lean towards the catastrophic side of the economic projections – policy needs to be informed by what science finds out about the world, and being ready to deal with or prevent worst-case scenarios seems prudent.

    I apologise for drifting off topic.

  31. 331

    RB 325: My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis.

    BPL: It’s not a power!!! It’s a proportionality constant!!! If it were some other molecule the figure would be different!!! Stop thinking of it as a power!!! IT’S NOT A POWER!!!

  32. 332

    Susan Anderson #323: you’ll have to be more specific in asking me for a reference. I’ve posted more than once here so I don’t know what you’re asking for.

  33. 333
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod says: “My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis.”

    Do you realize that if you don’t take issue with the logarithmic dependence but still reject the conclusion, this means that you are taking issue with the empirical data, don’t you? OK, so come up with some data that supports your position. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

    [crickes chirping]

  34. 334
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew,
    You are failing to understand the system being modeled. When there is an energy imbalance in the climate, the system must warm until the energy radiated (blackbody(T) minus ghg absorbed) again equals energy incident. The “system” in this case includes the atmosphere and surface, which respond relatively rapidly and the oceans, which equilibrate on a timescale of decades. It’s the oceans that provide the inertia, since they are the majority of the mass of the climate system. Small changes in the rate of warming can result in very large changes in the rate at which the surface warms–and then throw in variability of energy input, and you have a recipe for LOTS of variability.

  35. 335

    Rod W. Brick

    Just for the record, I’m not asking that you trust what I say. I’m saying trust those that actually have the credibility. And don’t trust those that don’t.

    Those that have scientific published material that has survived peer review and peer response.

    You can listen to those with less credibility of course, but why would you place higher levels of trust in those without credibility?

    You for example, like myself, have less credibility in the scientific understanding. So don’t listen to me, and don’t listen to you. We are not credible.

    I trust those that have greater credibility than I to describe the circumstance and likelihood of the data and what it does and even might mean. Why? Because they have more credibility in knowing what it all is and what it means.

    Don’t trust me. Don’t trust you. Place more trust where it is deserved, with the credible scientists, mathematicians and physicists that live eat and breath the physics, maths, and observations on a regular basis.


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  36. 336

    #331–BPL–

    So let me see if I’ve got this straight. I think I hear you saying that it’s not a power?

    ;-)

  37. 337
    Rod B says:

    Rob O’C., join the choir. Where/when did I ever say that infrared radiation does not exist or can’t be detected?

    The ‘culturally upsetting’ comes from actiom against presumed climate catastrophe that does not materialize.

    You say, “The balance of evidence would suggest that you’re betting on a long shot.“. That’s an exaggeration, but, oddly, a logical and reasonable retort/question on my position. I am not claiming that serious AGW will not happen. I would put it at about 50-50 — mostly because I don’t know enough to make more precise odds. There are a bunch of smart learned folks that say it will happen, and that counts for something even if the current science is less than fairly precise (in some areas). If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it: the risk-reward-cost analysis would favor it. But we don’t know what it will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying. Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off (except for some of those things that are relatively not so hard and don’t cost gigantic resources) and tripling or so our scientific endeavors. It is a judgement call.

  38. 338
    Rod B says:

    BPL, IMO you (et al) would appear far more credible if you responded with a quiet simple rationale rather that a shrill dogmatic retort over something that’s a nit-pick. The irrefutable fact of the matter is that it is a POWER. It simply does a better job of picturing the physical (as opposed to math) if presented as a coefficient.

  39. 339

    325 (Rod B.)

    You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period.

    You seem to spend a lot of time telling everyone what you don’t believe. Time to tell what you do believe. No dodging. Fess up.

    Precisely what action(s) are you in favor of?

  40. 340
    J Bowers says:

    I hope this is appropriate to post here.

    Petermann Ice Island – Now There Are Two
    http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/petermann_ice_island_now_there_are_two

    “Petermann Ice Island (2010) has now broken into two parts.
    [...]
    The importance of the Petermann Glacier calving to climate science is not so much that it happened, but that it was predicted to happen. Quite a few predictions were made by people working independently as individuals or groups and using different techniques for prediction.
    [...]
    The incontestable fact that the calving was predicted using the scientific method – and that it happened – is a public demonstration of the power of science to predict the future. This evidence of the validity of the scientific method should be enough to convince any rational person that when climate scientists from the world’s nations agree that the world’s climate is changing, then it is changing.”

  41. 341
    CM says:

    Re: ice sheet loss, sea level rise, isostatic adjustment, Wu et al.
    (Jan Galkowski #311, Kevin McKinney #315, Brian Dodge #329)

    If news reports on the Wu et al. paper are slanted against the the IPCC, as Jan indicates, that’s pretty strained. After all, Wu et al. report that the ice sheets have been losing mass faster in recent years than the last IPCC assessment (2007) reported for the preceding decade — though only half as fast as in a couple of studies published last year. For Greenland, the figures are:

    - IPCC (*): 50–100 Gt/yr between 1993 and 2003
    - Wu et al.: 81–127 Gt/yr between 2002 and 2008

    (* IPCC AR4 WG1, ch.4, “Executive summary” p. 339.)

    Also, as Kevin noted, since the IPCC chickened out of quantifying the uncertain ice-sheet contribution to sea level rise, there is nothing to adjust downward in the IPCC sea-level rise projection.

    However, last year’s Copenhagen Diagnosis (a non-IPCC update on the science since IPCC 2007) did cite the twice-as-high ice-sheet figures from recent studies. That makes me wonder about the implications, if any, of Wu et al. for the Copenhagen projection of sea-level rise that Kevin mentioned.

    I’m hoping for a post by Stefan R. on this, eventually.

  42. 342
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B.@338, NO, IT IS NOT A POWER. Rod, the determination of a power of the concentration would be motivated by the physics–e.g. by the shape of the wings of the absorption lines. Thus, if the power changes, it implies that the physics is changing.

    The coefficient of the log term is determined by a fit to empirical data–and we expect the data to shange at least slightly as we add more data.

    By saying that the coefficient is a power, you are saying that the data change the physics–and that isn’t correct. That is why we are adamant on this point.

  43. 343
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod says, “I would put it at about 50-50 — mostly because I don’t know enough to make more precise odds.”

    Yes, but others do. The question is whether you learn why thay say your position is a worst than 20:1 longshot or do you persist in the silly position that the odds are 50:50. If the latter, then let’s play p-o-k-e-r sometime

  44. 344
    flxible says:

    Bob@329:

    325 (Rod B.)
    You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period.

    RodB@337
    If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it (…..) Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off ….

    There’s a difference between after the fact mitigation and active avoidance Rod, I’ll vote for avoiding the risk, you can take care of mitigating the damages when folks like you have helped “hold off” the avoidance until you’re “certain” the cost will be “gargantuan”.

    captcha: rain-making didacts!!!!

  45. 345
    dhogaza says:

    Rod B:

    You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period.

    Rod B:

    If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it: the risk-reward-cost analysis would favor it. But we don’t know what it will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying. Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off

    Nothing is more pleasing than a sweet contradiction, is there?

  46. 346
    David B. Benson says:

    Rod W. Brick — Learn some physics, as in dimensions and units. The coefficient has dimension of power per area and (SI) units (W/m^2). However, x(ln y) = ln(y^x) applies to pure numbers, without dimension.

  47. 347

    Rod B., I’m struggling a bit here to imagine a scenario where the cost of mitigation is “culture-destroying.” After all, mitigation is anything but an all-or-nothing proposition (think of the multifarious SRES scenarios for a second.) And it’s not as it’s a once-and-for-all commitment to spend x trillions in y period of time: if the cost becomes too steep, the option always exists to back off the spending over the next few years.

    But the really ironic part is that I just heard an interview with one of the economists Lomborg used in the research for his latest book: that fellow made the point that maximum benefit comes from the initial mitigation. You’d think that would make us–and by “us” here I mean “you”–eager to get going.

  48. 348
    Steve Fish says:

    Rod B, you seem to not trust what the professional scientists are saying about our climate. I do, but you also express concern that we (world society) should be careful that costs of dealing with AGW are not greater than just depending on the traditional fossil fuel sources. Presumably, what you object to are the costs of switching over to renewable energy. If this is the case, I am puzzled.

    The costs of fossil fuels are going to be increasing as the world economy (especially China and India) require more. Further, the increase in these costs will accelerate dramatically as the sources are depleted. What to do about this? Switch over to renewables, the same solution as for warming.

    CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing and this is likely to accelerate, and nobody disagrees with this. The effect of this is ocean acidification that will strongly affect ocean ecology, and the human food sources that depend on this, and will greatly add to the costs of increasing fossil fuel use. The solution to this, like the above, is to switch to renewable energy ASAP.

    So I have a question for you. Because experts say that increased CO2 is going to affect global society because of both an increase in temperature and ocean acidification, and we all are running out of fossil fuels anyway, at what time in the future do you think it would be appropriate to develop new energy sources? I agree that making the switch will be expensive, but don’t you think that we should do it before fossil fuels become too expensive? We will need inexpensive fossil fuels to make the change with a minimum of disruption. Steve

  49. 349
    Rod B says:

    Steve Fish, Bob (Sphaerica), et al, briefly and generally I’m in favor of ongoing research and development of alternative electric sources and the continued and, if reasonable, enhanced implementation of viable alternative sources (wind mostly). The research needs to look at reliability and availability, and the critical hard nut, storage. Development of electric storage for transportation ought to be done, though (so far) electric powered vehicles, in the end, will be dependent on electric generation and distribution.

  50. 350
    Jim Eaton says:

    I appreciate the patience that folks have had with Rod B for several years. I guess they enjoy the bantering with a contrarian.

    A neighbor of mine (now deceased) was a paleobotanist who argued for decades that the theory of continental drift and sea-floor spreading was bogus. All of his colleagues moved beyond him, but it didn’t stop him from raising his objections to a theory that everyone else accepted.

    So is Rod B a real global warming denier, or is he a bit of an enigma who just wants to test the arguments of those who understand the horrific problems we face? To some extent, it is amusing to see his posts, followed by detailed responses showing why his views are wrong. Perhaps his role is to strengthen the arguments used to portray global warming as an incredible life threatening issue.

    Who knows?


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