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Monckton makes it up

Filed under: — group @ 7 August 2010

Guest commentary by Barry R. Bickmore, Brigham Young University

If you look around the websites dedicated to debunking mainstream climate science, it is very common to find Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, cited profusely. Indeed, he has twice testified about climate change before committees of the U.S. Congress, even though he has no formal scientific training. But if he has no training, why has he become so influential among climate change contrarians? After examining a number of his claims, I have concluded that he is influential because he delivers “silver bullets,” i.e., clear, concise, and persuasive arguments. The trouble is his compelling arguments are often constructed using fabricated facts. In other words, he makes it up. (Click here to see a number of examples by John Abraham, here for a few by myself, and here for some by Tim Lambert).

Here I’m going to examine some graphs that Lord Monckton commonly uses to show that the IPCC has incorrectly predicted the recent evolution of global atmospheric CO2 concentration and mean temperature. A number of scientists have already pointed out that Monckton’s plots of “IPCC predictions” don’t correspond to anything the IPCC ever predicted. For example, see comments by Gavin Schmidt (Monckton’s response here,) John Nielsen-Gammon (Monckton’s response here,) and Lucia Liljegren. Monckton is still happily updating and using the same graphs of fabricated data, so why am I bothering to re-open the case?

My aim is to more thoroughly examine how Lord Monckton came up with the data on his graphs, compare it to what the IPCC actually has said, and show exactly where he went wrong, leaving no excuse for anyone to take him seriously about this issue.

Atmospheric CO2 Concentration

By now, everyone who pays any attention knows that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas, and that the recent increase in global average temperature is thought to have been largely due to humans pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases (especially CO2) into the atmosphere. The IPCC projects future changes in temperature, etc., based on projections of human greenhouse gas emissions. But what if those projections of greenhouse gas emissions are wildly overstated? Lord Monckton often uses graphs like those in Figs. 1 and 2 to illustrate his claim that “Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the air at less than half the rate the UN had imagined.”



Figure 1. Graph of mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations contrasted with Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” values over the period from 2000-2100. He wrongly identifies the concentrations as “anomalies.” Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”



Figure 2. Graph of mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations contrasted with Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” values over the period from Jan. 2000 through Jan. 2009. Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”

It should be noted that Lord Monckton faithfully reproduces the global mean sea surface CO2 concentration taken from NOAA, and the light blue trend line he draws through the data appears to be legitimate. Unfortunately, nearly everything else about the graphs is nonsense. Consider the following points that detail the various fantasies Monckton has incorporated into these two graphics.

Fantasy #1.
Lord Monckton claims the light blue areas on his graphs (Figs. 1 and 2) represent the IPCC’s predictions of atmospheric CO
2 concentrations.

Reality #1.
The IPCC doesn’t make predictions of future atmospheric CO
2 concentrations. And even if we ferret out what Lord Monckton actually means by this claim, he still plotted the data incorrectly.

The IPCC doesn’t really make predictions of how atmospheric CO2 will evolve over time. Rather, the IPCC has produced various “emissions scenarios” that represent estimates of how greenhouse gas emissions might evolve if humans follow various paths of economic development and population growth. The IPCC’s report on emissions scenarios states, “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.” Lord Monckton explained via e-mail that he based the IPCC prediction curves “on the IPCC’s A2 scenario,which comes closest to actual global CO2 emissions at present” (2). In his “Monthly CO2 Report” he added, “The IPCC’s estimates of growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration are excessive. They assume CO2 concentration will rise exponentially from today’s 385 parts per million to reach 730 to 1020 ppm, central estimate 836 ppm, by 2100,” which is consistent with the A2 scenario. In other words, Monckton has picked one of several scenarios used by the IPCC and misrepresented it as a prediction. This is patently dishonest.

Monckton’s misrepresentation of the IPCC doesn’t end here, however, because he has also botched the details of the A2 scenario. The IPCC emissions scenarios are run through models of the Carbon Cycle to estimate how much of the emitted CO2 might end up in the atmosphere. A representative (i.e., “middle-of-the-road”) atmospheric CO2 concentration curve is then extracted from the Carbon Cycle model output, and fed into the climate models (AOGCMs) the IPCC uses to project possible future climate states. Figure 3 is a graph from the most recent IPCC report that shows the Carbon Cycle model output for the A2 emissions scenario. The red lines are the output from the model runs, and the black line is the “representative” CO2 concentration curve used as input to the climate models. I digitized this graph, as well, and found that the year 2100 values were the same as those cited by Monckton. (Monckton calls the model input the “central estimate.” )



Figure 3. Plot of atmospheric CO2 concentrations projected from 2000-2100 for the A2 emissions scenario, after the emissions were run through an ensemble of Carbon Cycle models. The red lines indicate model output, whereas the black line represents the “representative” response that the IPCC used as input into its ensemble of climate models (AOGCMs). Taken from Fig. 10.20a of IPCC AR4 WG1.

Now consider Figure 4, where I have plotted the A2 model input (black line in Fig. 3), along with the outer bounds of the projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations (outer red lines in Fig. 3). However, I have also plotted Monckton’s Fantasy IPCC predictions in the figure. The first thing to notice here is how badly Monckton’s central tendency fits the actual A2 model input everywhere in between the endpoints. Monckton’s central tendency ALWAYS overestimates the model input except at the endpoints. Furthermore, the lower bound of Monckton’s Fantasy Projections also overestimates the A2 model input before about the year 2030. What appears to have happened is that Lord Monckton chose the correct endpoints at 2100, picked a single endpoint around the year 2000-2002, and then made up some random exponential equations to connect the dots with NO REGARD for whether his lines had anything to do with what the IPCC actually had anywhere between.



Figure 4. Here the black lines represent the actual A2 input to the IPCC climate models (solid) and the upper and lower bounds of the projected CO2 concentrations obtained by running the A2 emissions scenario through an ensemble of Carbon Cycle models. This data was digitized from the graph in Fig. 3, but a table of model input concentrations of CO2 resulting from the different emissions scenarios can be found here. The red lines represent Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” CO2 concentrations. The solid red line is his “central tendency”, while the dotted lines are his upper and lower bounds. Monckton’s data was digitized from the graph in Fig. 1.

John Nielsen-Gammon also pointed some of this out, but Lord Monckton responded:,

[Nielsen-Gammon] says my bounds for the 21st-century evolution of CO2 concentration are not aligned with those of the UN. Except for a very small discrepancy between my curves and two outliers among the models used by the UN, my bounds encompass the output of the UN’s models respectably, as the blogger’s own overlay diagram illustrates. Furthermore, allowing for aspect-ratio adjustment, my graph of the UN’s projections is identical to a second graph produced by the UN itself for scenario A2 that also appears to exclude the two outliers.

It is fair enough to point out that Fig. 10.26 in IPCC AR4 WG1 has a plot of the projected A2 CO2 concentrations that seems to leave out the outliers. However, Monckton’s rendition is still not an honest representation of anything the IPCC ever published. I can prove this by blowing up the 2000-2010 portion of the graph in Fig. 4. I have done this in Fig. 5, where I have also plotted the actual mean annual global CO2 concentrations for that period. The clear implication of this graph is that even if the A2 scenario did predict atmospheric CO2 evolution (and it doesn’t,) it would actually be a good prediction, so far. In Figures 1 and 2, Lord has simply fabricated data to make it seem like the A2 scenario is wrong.



Figure 5. This is a blow-up of the graph in Fig. 4 for the years 2000-2010. I have also added the annual global mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations (blue line), obtained from NOAA.

Fantasy #2.
Monckton claims that “
for seven years, CO2 concentration has been rising in a straight line towards just 575 ppmv by 2100. This alone halves the IPCC’s temperature projections. Since 1980 temperature has risen at only 2.5 °F (1.5 °C) per century." In other words, he fit a straight line to the 2002-2009 data and extrapolated to the year 2100, at which time the trend predicts a CO2 concentration of 575 ppm. (See the light blue line in Fig. 1.)

Reality #2.
It is impossible to distinguish a linear trend from an exponential trend like the one used for the A2 model input over such a short time period.

I pointed out to Lord Monckton that it’s often very hard to tell an exponential from a linear trend over a short time period, e.g., the 7-year period shown in Fig. 2. He replied,

I am, of course, familiar with the fact that, over a sufficiently short period (such as a decade of monthly records), a curve that is exponential (such as the IPCC predicts the CO2 concentration curve to be) may appear linear. However, there are numerous standard statistical tests that can be applied to monotonic or near-monotonic datasets, such as the CO2 concentration dataset, to establish whether exponentiality is being maintained in reality. The simplest and most direct of these is the one that I applied to the data before daring to draw the conclusion that CO2 concentration change over the past decade has degenerated towards mere linearity. One merely calculates the least-squares linear-regression trend over successively longer periods to see whether the slope of the trend progressively increases (as it must if the curve is genuinely exponential) or whether, instead, it progressively declines towards linearity (as it actually does). One can also calculate the trends over successive periods of, say, ten years, with start-points separated by one year. On both these tests, the CO2 concentration change has been flattening out appreciably. Nor can this decay from exponentiality towards linearity be attributed solely to the recent worldwide recession: for it had become evident long before the recession began.

In other words, the slope keeps getting larger in an exponential trend, but stays the same in a linear trend. Monckton is right that you can do that sort of statistical test, but Tamino actually applied Monckton’s test to the Mauna Loa observatory CO2 data since about 1968 and found that the 10-year slope in the data has been pretty continuously rising, including over the last several years. Furthermore, look at the graph in Fig. 5, and note that the solid black line representing the A2 climate model input looks quite linear over that time period, but looks exponential over the longer timeframe in Fig. 4. I went to the trouble of fitting a linear trend line to the A2 model input line from 2002-2009 and obtained a correlation coefficient (R2) of 0.99967. Since a perfectly linear trend would have R2 = 1, I suggest that it would be impossible to distinguish a linear from an exponential trend like that followed by the A2 scenario in real, “noisy” data over such a short time period.

Temperature Projections

Atmospheric CO2 concentration wouldn’t be treated as such a big deal if it didn’t affect temperature; so of course Lord Monckton has tried to show that the Fantasy IPCC “predictions” of CO2 concentration he made up translate into overly high temperature predictions. This is what he has done in the graph shown in Fig. 6.



Figure 6. Lord Monckton’s plot of global temperature anomalies over the period January 2002 to January 2009. The red line is a linear trend line Monckton fit to the data, and the pink/white field represents his Fantasy IPCC temperature predictions. I have no idea what his base period is. Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”.

FANTASY #3. Lord Monckton uses graphs like that in Fig. 6 to support his claim that the climate models (AOGCMs) the IPCC uses to project future temperatures are wildly inaccurate.

REALITY #3.
Monckton didn’t actually get his Fantasy IPCC predictions of temperature evolution from AOGCM runs. Instead, he inappropriately fed his Fantasy IPCC predictions of CO
2 concentration into equations meant to describe the EQUILIBRIUM model response to different CO2 concentrations.

Monckton indicated to me (5) that he obtained his graph of IPCC temperature predictions by running his Fantasy CO2 predictions (loosely based on the A2 emissions scenario) through the IPCC’s standard equation for converting CO2 concentration to temperature change, which can be found here.

The problem is that the equation mentioned is meant to describe equilibrium model response, rather than the transient response over time. In other words, they take the standard AOGCMs, input a certain stabilized CO2 concentration, and run the models until the climate output stabilizes around some new equilibrium. But it takes some time for the model systems to reach the new equilibrium state, because some of the feedbacks in the system (e.g., heat absorption as the ocean circulates) operate on fairly long timescales. Therefore, it is absolutely inappropriate to use the IPCC’s equation to describe anything to do with time evolution of the climate system. When I brought this up to Lord Monckton, he replied that he knows the difference between equilibrium and transient states, but he figures the equilibrium calculation comes close enough. But since the IPCC HAS published time-series (rather than just equilibrium) model output for the A2 scenario (see Fig. 7,) why wouldn’t he just use that?


Figure 7. Ensemble AOGCM output for the A2 emissions scenario, taken from Fig. 10.5 of IPCC AR4 WG1.

The answer is that if Lord Monckton had used the time-series model output, he would have had to admit that the IPCC temperature projections are still right in the ballpark. In Fig. 8, I have digitized the outer bounds of the model runs in Fig. 7, and also plotted the HadCRUT3 global annual mean temperature anomaly over the same period. The bottom line is that Monckton has put the wrong data into the wrong equation, and (surprise!) he got the wrong answer.



Figure 8. The blue and green lines represent the upper and lower bounds of the global average temperature anomaly from AOGCM output for the A2 emissions scenario during the 2002-2010 period. The black line represents the HadCRUT3 global temperature anomalies for that timeframe, normalized to the same base period.

Summary

I have shown here that in order to discredit the IPCC, Lord Monckton produced his graphs of atmospheric CO2 concentration and global mean temperature anomaly in the following manner:


  1. He confused a hypothetical scenario with a prediction.
  2. He falsely reported the data from the hypothetical scenario he was confusing with a prediction.
  3. He plugged his false data into the wrong equation to obtain false predictions of time-series temperature evolution.
  4. He messed up the statistical analyses of the real data.

These errors compound into a rather stunning display of complete incompetence. But since all, or at least nearly all, of this has been pointed out to Monckton in the past, there’s just no scientifically valid excuse for this. He’s just making it up.


665 Responses to “Monckton makes it up”

  1. 601
    sambo says:

    Septic Matthew (#599)

    Sea ice is annual ice that forms on the surface of the ocean (usually thinner, I think around 3 ft, but dont’ quote me on that). The ice extent that is growing is related to more of this sea ice. Ice sheet on the other had is the thicker ice that is the tips of the glaciers flowing into the sea (does the technical term include the land ice as well?) This ice is usually several hundred feet thick or more. The article I had linked to earlier stated that around 200 or 250ft thick, the sheet becomes unstable a breaks off. The article you link to seems to be measuring the amount of ice sheet mass, including mass on land as well.

  2. 602
    Kevin Stanley says:

    596 S.A. : Yes, that’s how I usually use those words as well. I was just pointing out that using very narrow definitions of those words is part of a strategy of deception. When one defines “objectivity” (or “proof”) so narrowly, to say that something is not objective (or is “unproven”) is meaningless in a practical sense. If someone uses these words this way in a discussion about physical reality, but doesn’t acknowledge that it renders them meaningless, they’re either fooling themselves or trying to fool you.

    599 S.M. I’m no expert, but I believe “ice sheet” typically if not always refers to land ice. I believe that the prediction of warming + polar amplification generally predicts loss of ice mass in the antarctic. That would refer mostly to land ice I think. The total picture of antarctic ice is complicated somewhat by factors like the circumpolar vortex and stratification of ocean water, which do tings like buffering the antarctic interior from some of the warming and causing fresher (and therefore more easily frozen) water to float on top of denser but at times warmer saltier water, respectively. So in the short run, it would not be surprising to see less warming and ice loss in the Antarctic interior, and more sea ice particularly in winter (after all even after a lot of warming it still gets below the freezing point of fresh water in the antarctic winter!), but by and large one expects less total ice, particularly coming from land ice around the edges.

    People who have some expert knowledge, please correct my simplistic and probably somewhat wrong ideas about this.

  3. 603
    John Peter says:

    Silk @589

    It must be really frustrating to have to communicate with us newbies when we know so little. I appreciate your posts and reference links. I hope you will have the patience to continue to assist my learning about an area that you know quite so well.

    In the past climate scientists have attacked “denier’s” papers because “big oil” provided the funding. I was quite surprised to find that the Princeton work was supported by BP and Ford, just as you suggested in #592. You could add it as another specific example. BTW also, a big corporation must keep up with (and encourage) new technology research. They know their long term survival depends on doing so.

    One of the reasons I want to learn more about your area of expertise is that I view Copenhagen as a success in the following weird sort of way. Setting goals in terms of the results, less than 2C degree temperature rise, and leaving the mitigation up to the committing nations could be an improvement. Diversified investment is provably better. AGW control will have to be reframed for to better focus the climate scientist/denier debates. All the GHGs as well as all the geo-engineering will help (and count) instead of just CO2.

    The very real political problems you mention – achieving support in the US and other nation governments also are reframed. It is much easier to defeat attacks on temperature rise (it is called global warning, is it not?) on a case by case funding basis than the unilateral alternate energy alternates we now try to defend. The energy problems are going to be picked up by other groups for other reasons anyhow. Chindia might even sign up for 2degC cap and work on smog as well as black cloud with projects such as Surya http://www.projectsurya.org/storage/Surya-WhitePaper.pdf

    Of course, in order not to be left behind, climate scientists will have to get on board very quickly. View the Copenhagen accords as half full, rather than half empty.

    Again, thanks for all the help. Please keep it coming.

  4. 604

    S. Matthew wrote: “Are the “ice sheets” distinct from other Antarctic ice, such as sea ice?”

    In normal usage, yes. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_sheet

  5. 605
    Silk says:

    John Peter, Re: #603 – We are way off piste here, so if the mods step in and ask us to take it else where we’ll have to accept that. But allowing for their indulgence

    “Setting goals in terms of the results, less than 2C degree temperature rise, and leaving the mitigation up to the committing nations could be an improvement.”

    Well, yes and no.

    Yes, 2 degrees is a major success story.

    2 degrees without some form of globally agreed emissions trajectory, shared out, isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. So that’s the next step.

    For all its flaws, Kyoto was not a bad first step. The idea was that developed countries would take the first set of emissions targets (which expire at the end of 2012) and, hopefully, others would come on board after that.

    Sadly the US didn’t stay signed up, and we haven’t been able to agree post-2012 commitments (or even the nature of those commitments)

    But we do have Copenhagen ‘pledges’ which, while not adding up to 2 degrees, are significant deviations from BAU (business as usual)

    “Diversified investment is provably better.”

    I think it flows from the pledges.

    “AGW control will have to be reframed for to better focus the climate scientist/denier debates. All the GHGs as well as all the geo-engineering will help (and count) instead of just CO2.”

    I don’t understand this. The Kyoto targets, and all other measures under consideration, were always all GHGs (not geoengineering though – too uncertain and controversial)

    “The very real political problems you mention – achieving support in the US and other nation governments also are reframed. It is much easier to defeat attacks on temperature rise (it is called global warning, is it not?) on a case by case funding basis than the unilateral alternate energy alternates we now try to defend.”

    I am not sure I agree with this analysis. I don’t see ‘case by case’ action as a solution if not within the context of an overall national goal, driven by an overall global goal.

    What I would say is that it is much easier to build action on the basis of alternative energy solutions, which are in the mutual interest of the parties involved, provide alternatives to fossil fuels, and have climate benefit.

    “The energy problems are going to be picked up by other groups for other reasons anyhow. ”

    Disagree. While some impressive progress is being made in solar, CCS /cannot/ be developed if one does not believe CO2 is damaging (and hence a cost associated with emission should be applied) and other technological changes will happen too slowly, or at least risk happening too slowly, because of continued investment in BAU (fossil) technology.

    “Chindia might even sign up for 2degC cap and work on smog as well as black cloud with projects such as Surya http://www.projectsurya.org/storage/Surya-WhitePaper.pdf

    It won’t, sadly. Not without US action of a stronger kind.

    “Of course, in order not to be left behind, climate scientists will have to get on board very quickly. View the Copenhagen accords as half full, rather than half empty. ”

    Nothing to do with climate scientists (who, of course, are not a homogeneous mass)

    Unlike politics, you can’t spin the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere. From a science perspective, the success or failure of all global efforts to mitigate emissions (which, as I’ve been saying to Matthew is only half the battle, the other half being adaptation) is whether or not we achieve a peak in forcing, and at what point we achieve that peak, and to some degree if we can move back down from it.

    The duty of climate scientists, as I see it, is to inform us of the consequences of our actions. For what we think of as ‘traditional’ climate science, that means “what is the physical impact (local and regional and global) of emissions of different amounts of GHGs this decade/century?”

    For the economist/impact modeler/social scientist/whatever, the question is then “what is the impact of said physical impacts on human wellbeing (and what can be done to reduce said impacts)”

    And for the policy person “what can we do to stop the above happening”

    Of course, climate scientists can, and will, have views on the success or otherwise of any particular meeting, or policy, as an individual.

    However, it was the politicians who agreed “we should not exceed 2 degrees”. All the climate scientist can do, in his role as a scientist, is say whether or not the actions at Copenhagen are sufficient to deliver that outcome.

    To which the answer is, “no”.

    This does not of course mean Copenhagen was a failure, but it is not the answer. Only a little stepping stone.

  6. 606
    Septic Matthew says:

    599, Silk: Exxon have a bad track record, I grant you. I do not disagree with the notion that Exxon’s strategy has been to sow doubt, to stave off any climate legislation.

    Slight addition: ExxonMobil donated $600M to the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego to develop improved strains of plants for biofuels. I don’t dispute your basic thrust.

    Others, thanks for the notes about ice. I was wondering whether, over water, the satellite could distinguish, by gravity, between sea ice and water.

    Also off topic, the August 13 issue of Science has reviews on scaling up alternative energy sources.

  7. 607
    John Peter says:

    Silk 605

    In my naivety, I haven’t seen much global political progress since Kyoto, quite the opposite. OTOH, what about Suyra? Glacier Man? Aren’t regional projects easier and more successful?

    FWIW, global successes seem to me to be more achievable than local success (my generality, no facts). True, climate scientists are going to have to address regional climate and better relate it to global climate, weather forecasters would like that too. They might be more successful with regional climate science, that would seem more their talent and experience than handling global politics. Jim Hansen, in despiration, claims he wants to try non-violent protest. He despairs of the chances with a purely scientific approach.

    At least, that’s why I thought we might try a change of focus, especially since we can always put global back together again if we have to.

    Climate scientists are all over global regions and they communicate well with each other. They can advise their own governments of progress, local and global. Sovereign debt (CFU didn’t want to discuss it here but he seems to have disappeared) being what it is, why not try a shared temperature goal until, at least, the global debt problems are resolved (IMHO 5-10 years)?

  8. 608
    John Peter says:

    Silk @605

    Shouldn’t “no” be “the weight of evidence now says probably not”

  9. 609
    Patrick 027 says:

    Something’s been lost in the discussion of water management and/or/verses AGW mitigation.

    1. The idea that we should do something to mitigate AGW is rooted in the expectation that there is a real public cost. Some of this will be more easily measured than other portions, but the world loses some value. In the concept of an efficient market (an ideal, but presumably works as a first approximation in at least some contexts), if the people who benifit from emitting activities pay for the public as well as private costs, then the total value increases (including any losses for anything else, such as building dams; caveat perhaps being how public money is spent, but the tax itself would tend to incentivise government decisions assuming the government is at least a little bit functional and good). Without adequate AGW mitigation policy, too much money could be spent on other things – not because there would not be benifit, but because the marginal returns would be less than what could be gained with mitigation.

    (Note that a tax applied anywhere (in proper proportion) along a chain of economic activity that emits will tend to be distributed among the benificiaries, so it should tend to work just as well to tax either at point of combustion/oxydation, or point of extraction, or point of sale (with corrections in the later cases for that portion of C that is not subsequently oxydized; I wrote this thinking of fossil fuels (extraction, sale, resale, etc, combustion) but of course deforestation, etc. should be included; in the case of fossil fuels, I suggest applying the tax where it requires the least effort to enforce and count (paperwork) – ie don’t tax the consumers of electricity or gasoline; tax the mine and well output, or tax the power plant and oil/gas distributors, etc. Either way, the supply to benificiaries increases in price, or the profit of the suppliers is reduced, or both; the reduced profit drives investment toward alternatives, the greater price drives demand toward alternatives, the prices change in response, etc.)

    2. One way to mitigate flood and drought impacts is to have reservoirs. (Wetlands or small holding ponds can mitigate flash flooding. I’m not completely sure but I wonder of glaciers work like reservoirs in that way – that’s the impression I’ve gotten and it makes sense.) Increased average precipitation with the same % variability would tend to require larger reservoirs in order to mitigate up to the same percentile of extreme events (I’m not saying this is what happens generally, but concievably it would approximately happen in some fraction of regions?). Increased variability with same average precipitation would tend to do the same. And if precipitation-evaporation in total decreases, you may need to import, conserve, or produce/recycle more fresh water, or relocate your water-usage activity. Speaking of relocation, another aspect of dealing with floods and droughts is getting out of their way. Don’t build too deep into the floodplains or too close to sea level (another issue with AGW, and note that if the floodplains shrink in some regions, you may want to relocate closer to the rivers?); don’t populate the desert too densly. (Ideally, the cost of insurance would work through market processes to encourage desert and floodplain usage at just the level and type where the benifit-cost is optimized.)

    AGW affects water issues. A lot.

    ——–

    And though a comprehensive world-wide policy is ideal, domestic policies can accomplish real good. Apply tariffs and subsidies to imports and exports to plug the perverse incentives resulting from trade between countries with different policies.

    Yes, there is the problem that one nation’s reduction in oil demand will tend to lead to increased usage elsewhere (except for the reduction in oil output from the nation with the AGW policy, but that doesn’t seem likely to be large), but there should tend to be a net reduction, because if the same total were used, it would tend to be at the same price, which means that the nations which now consume more are not consuming more because of a shift in price. The price has to be lower if consumption increases in the other nations, which tends to require that the total usage is still less.

    And yes, the reduced CO2eq tax in some nations will make it more profitable for other nations to reduce their taxes, but the nations with higher taxes could also tend to pull other nations towards having higher taxes (If I’m not mistaken; logic: the imports would cost the same then, with tariffs reduced and taxes increased, but the tax revenue would then go to the exporter.)

    Meanwhile, the innovations produced in a few nations will eventually be in demand elsewhere.

  10. 610
    John Peter says:

    Patrick 027 @609

    …I wonder if glaciers work like reservoirs in that way – that’s the impression I’ve gotten and it makes sense…

    I believe you’re right. Read glacier man interview:

    http://southasia.oneworld.net/opinioncomment/the-2018glacier-man2019-of-india

  11. 611
  12. 612
    Gilles says:

    594 Kevin : “At the same time, I wonder if Gilles dismisses the calculations of, say, bridge engineers, regarding the probability of failure modes under certain circumstances, as “subjective.””

    I also said that probabilities could be justified, and in some way made more “objective”, by the comparison with a lot of similar experiments. The use of probabilities in your example is justified by the fact that there are numerous bridges and engineers, including a fair number of collapsed ones ( I mean, bridges , of course :) ).

    BPL :”The whole point about the fossil fuel industry is that they DO NOT WANT alternative energy to be developed. ”

    Rather strangely, they were rather inefficient to prevent hydroelectricity to be fairly developed, as much a nuclear industry, to produce electricity, everywhere when it was possible (including USA of course), and sometimes reaching 100 % of the produced power.

    Do you have a clear explanation why they would dislike motion of air and solar photons, much more than motion of water ??

  13. 613
    Gnomish says:

    “He confused a hypothetical scenario with a prediction.”
    Nah- neither did the IPCC. They don’t recommend governments make policies over merely hypothetical scenarios.
    You don’t do essays over mere semantic quibbles.
    You know, every once in a while, you run into somebody smarter than you, who, like your mom, sees through the tricks you use to lie to yourself.

  14. 614

    #610–Interesting link, John Peter. Thanks.

  15. 615
    Rod B says:

    BPL (595), how do you explain the investment, R&D, and actual installation and production of alternative fuels business by the oil companies? (BP is probably the 8th largest producer of wind power in the U.S. for just one example.)

  16. 616
    Rod B says:

    Kevin Stanley (594), I think you make a reasonable point, which is (I think) that it is not usually helpful to define terms with so much constraint that any practical meaning is impossible. Given that I could live with a little looser use of “objective.” Though, I think this also applies to “proof,” as a cogent case was made by SecularAnimist (IIRC — sorry if my attribution is wrong), and it is not clear if you agree with that.

    However there are two contrary points: one, objective ought to have some reasonably solid content made on actual numerical measurements or strongly supportable calculations (even if projections or based on proxies — which can be O.K.) — this is the sine qua non of “objective.” 2nd, and probably more apropos to the comments in the thread, is the tendency for people to make objective conclusions with looseness and with, in part, very meager numbers but then morph it into an “objective” chisled-in-stone irrefutable point.

  17. 617
    John Peter says:

    Giles

    If this probability debate is about real time series, tell the guys and gals about “black swans”, fractals, and chaos theory. Or perhaps they will tell us all about “tipping points”

    As an example – hopefully helpful:

    “…But Chaos Theory Tamed doesn’t stop with explanations of ‘strange attractors,’ ‘entropy,’ and ‘autocorrelation in time series.’ Garnett Williams’ book gives the best accessible explanation of power laws that I’ve encountered. Chaos Theory Tamed explains power law and scalability (scale free, scale invariant, etc.) in terms of ‘dimensions.’ Dimensions are essentially the kind of dimensions that we are all familiar with … three dimensions of space (four dimensions if you include time), two dimensions of a sheet of paper or a fictional ‘flatland,’ and the single dimension of a Platonic straight line. With power laws, the dimension of what is being measured is the exponent and is relatively invariant (within some range). When graphed on log-log axes, a power law is a straight line and the power law exponent (represented as ‘alpha’ in The Black Swan) is the slope (usually, negative) of this line.

    Garnett Williams uses the concepts of dimensions and scales in order to give a very clear-headed explanation of fractals. Chaos Theory Tamed doesn’t dwell on fractals as much as other books that are more specifically focused on fractals, but, when the book does deal with fractals, the explanations of what fractals are and how they relate to chaos theory are brilliant for its clarity. Basically, fractals are defined in this book as being “fractional dimensions” — i.e., instead of 1, 2, or 3 dimensions (integer dimensions), fractals are fractional (non-integer) dimensions (1.2, 1.4, 2.8, etc.). I actually find this sort of definition to be much more useful and interesting then the thousands of pretty pictures of fractals I have seen in other books, magazines, and on the web…”
    http://econophysics.blogspot.com/2007/05/book-review-chaos-theory-tamed.html

    ———–

    For the more serious scientist or engineer interested in reality, struggle with Mandelbrot, . A review of his “Fractal Geometry of Nature” follows:

    “Very few books have so many quotes as this one. I am not sure if there is much left to be said, but I know this. For those professionals who still think that fractals are “spurious solutions coming from the discretization of differential equations”, should take a closer look to this book. Not only won’t harm, but also will show many interesting features about the nature of fractals and the “fractality” of nature, besides the fact that many of them come from *difference* equations, which are not necessarily related to the discretization of a differential equation. This book is based on serious work from many well-reputed mathematicians before Mandelbrot, e.g., Haussdorff, Lyapunov and some others. Although the book does talk about the mathematics behind fractals (wouldn’t be so much a book of mathematics if it didn’t, but also a philosophical one) and the necessity of coining some new mathematical terms, it also contains so much about history of mathematics, the path that leads towards fractals. As I said, the book is many times quoted, but (without trying to point a firing, accusing finger), there is a difference in quoting a book because it is famous, and another actually reading it, and having enlightenment for our own sake. Certainly I think is a “must-have-it” for most mathematicians, for many physicists, philosophers of science and engineers, but also it wouldn’t be a bad guest in the library of any layman, provided the layman overcomes for some minutes the initial “classical” fear to mathematics. I would say this layman won’t regret it at all. Mandelbrot does explain most of the concepts practically “ab initio”, from the very scratch, including etymology and history as I previously said. One little thing against this book though: it doesn’t have so many color plates as some other books on the subject, but it does have all the needed graphics to grasp the concepts…” http://www.amazon.com/review/R2FTCD8GL3QB21/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R2FTCD8GL3QB21

  18. 618

    Gilles 612: Do you have a clear explanation why they would dislike motion of air and solar photons, much more than motion of water ??

    BPL: I’m inferring it from the fact that A) wind and solar would be competitors, B) they’ve spent at least $63 million on AGW deniers, and C) they send idiots to speak out against it at any hearing on building a new windmill or solar power plant.

    Duh.

  19. 619

    Rod 615: BPL (595), how do you explain the investment, R&D, and actual installation and production of alternative fuels business by the oil companies?

    BPL: To look good to stockholders, the public, and politicians. Compare the amount they spend on fossil fuels and try not to be a complete dupe.

  20. 620
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is a thermodynamics question: has anybody ever calculated (estimated, etc.) the total global entropy change effected by the bioshpere? Per year, say, or in different biomes?

    My reference for thermodynamics is the textbook by Kondepudi and Prigogine (for example, p. 88 which decomposes entropy change into two components, one of which is due to exchange of mass and energy, the other of which isn’t), but I can’t claim any mastery.

  21. 621
    Rod B says:

    BPL, oil companies spent $63 million on so-called “denier” support??!!? What is that, a couple of hours of revenue?? How does this compare with just one company’s $8 billion investment (over about four years) in alternative energy (wind, solar, bio)? Oh, I see. It’s just PR money that they’re basically throwing away to somehow impress investors. Right. Oh, I see. It’s not near as much as they invest in their primary business. Well, duh! I’m curious: did BP send their idiots to battle their own wind farm plans and construction in S. Dakota, Colo., California, etc?

    I think one is a dupe if they simply accept the party line and the old school cheer without regard to much facts.

  22. 622
    Septic Matthew says:

    620, SM

    Oddly, I came across this just now:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/329/5993/834

    An estimate of the global annual gross carbon dioxide uptake: 123 +/- 8 petagrams per year. It must be possible to compute the energy and entropy changes resulting from that storage.

    Kondepudi and Prigogine have relevant (seemingly, to a novice) equations in chapter 4, and they note that biological cells can in fact reduce entropy. WRT to Trenberth’s query of where is all the energy going, this might be one place to look.

  23. 623
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #620

    What for?

  24. 624

    RB 621: BPL, oil companies spent $63 million on so-called “denier” support??!!? What is that, a couple of hours of revenue??

    BPL: The people running the company DO NOT have access to most of the revenue. Most of it goes to wages. Most of the rest has to be reinvested. A lot goes to stockholders. They only have so much to play around with for political purposes.

  25. 625
    Gilles says:

    “BPL: I’m inferring it from the fact that A) wind and solar would be competitors”

    but why more than hydroelectricity ?????

    “Kondepudi and Prigogine have relevant (seemingly, to a novice) equations in chapter 4, and they note that biological cells can in fact reduce entropy”
    Of the matter, yes, but not of the Universe. The entropy is created by the fact that a single short-wavelength solar photon is ultimately transformed into many long-wavelength IR photons and reemitted in space, only a small part of its energy being stored in carbohydrates. The conversion of solar spectrum into IR thermal emission is by far the main source of entropy at the Earth surface, explaining why life can temporarily store some negentropy.

  26. 626
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew,
    Given that we haven’t even identified many of the species on Earth, let alone developed an understanding of the ecosystems in which they live, I think your question is probably a bit ill defined. What is more, realize that many of the processes that occur in living organisms are irreversible, so integral dQ/T is merely a lower bound. One could come up with an estimate, or even an upper bound, but I’m not sure how meaningful it would be.

  27. 627
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., do you not draw a distinction between money spent on R&D and money spent on lies?

  28. 628
    Geoff Wexler says:

    biological cells can in fact reduce entropy.

    Is it possible to provide a little more detail and context? Prigogine is usually right. One problem with cells is that their effective temperature may differ from that measured by a thermometer, but I don’t know whether that is relevant to your quote.

    You probably know what follows but just in case..

    Even in a simple heat engine, the entropy of the source is reduced, while the entropy of the sink increases and by a greater amount. Its a bit different for a heat pump.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/doing-it-yourselves/comment-page-3/#comment-185201

    As an aside:
    In the case of entropy production by metabolism and combustion, a significant term may be the entropy of mixing. This is created in the transition between concentrated CO2 or H20 at the top of the chimney (or tree) and the final well mixed greenhouse gas.

  29. 629
    RichardC says:

    612 Gilles asked, “Do you have a clear explanation why they would dislike motion of air and solar photons, much more than motion of water ??”

    Scalability. Solar cells don’t scale well. Wind is a bit better, but it’s not industrialized energy production like a dam or nuclear reactor or coal burner.

  30. 630
    Rod B says:

    Septic Matthew (622), the info I have (from EIA via 1st IPCC report) shows about 780 petagrams of global annual absorption of CO2, not 123. This probably doesn’t affect the substance of your answer comment, but I’m curious.

  31. 631
    SecularAnimist says:

    Gilles wrote: “Do you have a clear explanation why they would dislike motion of air and solar photons, much more than motion of water ?”

    RichardC replied: “Scalability. Solar cells don’t scale well. Wind is a bit better, but it’s not industrialized energy production like a dam or nuclear reactor or coal burner.”

    With all due respect, your reply to Gilles indicates that you are ill-informed as to the current state of both solar and wind energy technologies.

    Solar encompasses both photovoltaics (“solar cells”) and solar thermal. Both technologies “scale well” from very small, distributed applications (e.g. grid-connected urban and suburban rooftops in the USA, off-grid rural villages in India and Africa) to industrial, utility-scale installations (large scale PV and concentrating solar thermal power plants are being built now, including in the USA). The USA has vast solar energy resources — concentrating solar thermal power plants on five percent of the USA’s desert lands could generate more electricity than the entire country consumes, on top of the enormous potential for locally-generated solar power from rooftop PV on homes, warehouses, office parks, factories, shopping malls, parking lots, degraded lands (“brownfields”), etc.

    Wind energy is already being built at “industrialized” scales — more than 10 Gigawatts of new wind generation capacity was installed in the USA in 2009; US wind energy installations have grown at 39 percent annually for the last five years. According to the NREL the total exploitable wind energy potential of the USA is about nine times the total electricity generated annually in the USA.

    There is a very simple reason why the fossil fuel corporations are not interested in wind and solar — because wind and solar eliminate the need for fuel. The business model of the fossil fuel corporations is, of course, selling fuel. The business model of wind and solar is selling the technology for harvesting abundant, ubiquitous, endless, free energy. Which makes fuel — and the one billion dollar per day profits of the fossil fuel corporations — obsolete.

    There will be “giant energy corporations” in the wind and solar powered future. But they won’t be extractive industries. They will be technology industries. They will more closely resemble GE, Intel and Google than ExxonMobil and BP.

  32. 632
    Hank Roberts says:

    SM, think about the carbon cycle, e.g.:
    http://library.thinkquest.org/C003763/images/planet/ccycle.gif
    (from http://library.thinkquest.org/C003763/index.php?page=planet03 )

    “gross carbon dioxide uptake” is part of the net carbon cycle.

    The Science article is pointing out that “biosphere models used for climate predictions” appear to be “missing processes or feedback mechanisms which attenuate the vegetation response to climate.” No surprise; they’re pointing out additional information that can be useful to improve the models.

    Or see it as the climate response to vegetation. Again, no surprise.

  33. 633
    Septic Matthew says:

    Ray Ladbury and Geoff Wexler, the really interesting chapters in Kondepudi and Prigogine are 18 (systems far from equilibrium) and 19 (dissipative system.) As with a few other topics, like non-stationary time series and vector autoregressive processes, it’s hard to summarize anything in bullets. The earth’s biomes receive energy and mass from the surround, and convert these into compact well defined structures with high energy content and low entropy. If primary productivity increases with increased CO2 (as shown in some studies), then the processes will increase, producing even more high energy structures with low entropy. It is probably worth while to find out how much, and how much more.

  34. 634
    Gilles says:

    Geoff”biological cells can in fact reduce entropy.

    Is it possible to provide a little more detail and context? Prigogine is usually right. One problem with cells is that their effective temperature may differ from that measured by a thermometer, but I don’t know whether that is relevant to your quote.”

    There is nothing wrong in saying that the entropy budget of chemical species is negative. It just doesn’t take into account the entropy of the photon gas, incoming with a low entropy state (small number of visible photons), and emitted in a high entropy state (IR thermal radiation). Solar radiation is “out of equilibrium” in the sense that its spectrum is that of 5800 blackbody, but its energy density is that of a 300 K blackbody – the irreversible transformation from the former to the latter produces much more entropy that what is created in living beings. the whole “mechanical” climate engine is actually powered by the same entropy generating mechanism.

  35. 635
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #633

    it’s hard to summarize

    Agreed. that why I queried the previous summary

    biological cells can in fact reduce entropy.

    which can be misunderstood without context. Consider e.g. the title of their chapter 19. Dissipative systems are defined to be those with positive entropy production.

  36. 636
    Septic Matthew says:

    634 Geoff Wexler, I do not find where K&P define dissipative as producing positive entropy. The earth system, wrt heat transfer, is dissipative because it radiates energy to the surround (is that why it is positive entropy producing by definition?), and would cool without repeated energy input. Dissipative systems with input create spatially-temporally organized structures, but with more than a few dimensions they are so chaotic as not to be predictable very far in advance.

    Equation 18.3.13, which relates entropy change to concentration change, shows that excess entropy change can be negative when the energy input drives chemical reactions.

    I am grateful to the moderators for letting us stray off topic, but I come back to my original question, reformulated after the Science article. If we know that Gross Primary Production is 123 petagrams per year (or 780, from Rod B’s comment # 630), can we compute the associated entropy change? Isn’t it an important quantity to know?

  37. 637
    Indulis says:

    Re: 619- Barton Paul Levenson. Another reason fossil fuel companies are keen on biofuels is that producing crop-based biofuels is a fossil fuel intensive process. The planting, harvesting, transport, purification steps all take energy, much of it fossil fuel based. Many studies show little or no net energy gain over just burning the oil used to get the biofuel. That is, you put in almost as much energy in the form of fossil fuels as you get out of biofuels. So the oil companies don’t lose significant revenue, and get to patent some new technology and get in some money to make up for any (probably small) shortfall. Biofuels mean you lose food production and croplands, and potentially get deforestation (CO2 released). Some of the newer biofules (algae) show more promise, but the overall production/refine/transport energy costs can still be significant (even stirring the soup takes energy).

    Re: 633, Septic Matthew- More biomass is not necessarily helpful if it is not in a form you need (e.g. toxic ocean algea blooms), not where you need it (toxic algae example), or unusable due to other factors (e.g. recent study in Australia shows increased cyanide and reduced protein levels in high CO2 grown plants).

  38. 638
    Rick Brown says:

    Septic Matthew @ 636 and previous:

    I keep hoping one of the more quantitative, physics-savvy regulars will chime in, but since they haven’t and since I’m tiring of your wasting your and our time on this tangent let me give it a try.

    Hank Roberts gave you a good hint by pointing you to a figure on the carbon cycle but it apparently zipped right by you.

    Here’s another hint: living things die sooner or later (usually sooner). Your attention to Gross Primary Productivity misses this point; what you ought to be interested in is NetPP. Actually if, as they say, you do the maths, I think you’ll find that even this is irrelevant in the context you are discussing. Think about it – perhaps 20% of the excess C in the atmosphere comes from land use change, primarily deforestation. And there are many reasons why the increased productivity that some project with increased CO2 will not materialize – look it up. Not only is the measurement you are interested in irrelevant, it’s headed in the opposite direction from what you think.

  39. 639
    Tom Curtis says:

    Septic Matthew (622) asks if entropy changes resulting from carbon storage by biological processes might be a significant component of the Earth’s energy budget (my paraphrase).

    Without calculating the energy changes involved; we know that humans currently dig up and consume fossil carbon from biological sources at a far greater rate than they are being laid down. Ergo, energy released by consumption of fossil fuels is significantly greater than enery storage by the carbon cycle. As we know that the energy contribution to surface temperature from burning of fossil fuels is sufficiently small as to be irrelevant as a contributor to global warming, it follows that energy storage by biological carbon sequestration is also too small to have a measurable effect on energy balance equations.

  40. 640
    Hank Roberts says:

    > producing positive entropy

    Would that be a good thing, a bad thing, or make no difference?

    You’re having fun with words here; if our moderators get vacation, you can pursue it for days. But why bother?

    http://www.tim-thompson.com/entropy1.html

  41. 641

    Gilles 625: “BPL: I’m inferring it from the fact that A) wind and solar would be competitors”

    but why more than hydroelectricity ?????

    BPL: Because hydro is effectively tapped out while wind and solar are almost unlimited.

    Duh.

  42. 642
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #636 and #640

    [This may look fussy but it is actually non-trivial]

    First Hank your link excludes the subject under consideration which is about entropy-production (my hyphen to discourage bad parsing); this is a topic created by Onsager and developed by Prigogine and others.

    Secondly Septic Mathew, I don’t have your book but it sounds very interesting, except that I am not sure that you need the full power of irreversible thermodynamics to answer your original question, for which I didn’t see the goal. Incidentally, by refering to ‘positive entropy’ (an incorrect parsing of the three words) you are in danger of getting some things wrong.

  43. 643
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Gilles,

    Regarding fossil fuel companies resisting renewable power, read this.

    In short, the author tells about a report by the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

    The author points to various independent reports by the power companies themselves (who should know their stuff best I would think) that show the report is not based in reality. Nonetheless, they keep pushing the report, using their marketing and lobbying power.

    However, you are correct in stating that not all fossil fuel companies are resisting renewable energy. BP is an example.

  44. 644

    Semi-OT, but relevant in the larger picture (and we did get a mention of biofuels in there somewhere, didn’t we?):

    A new biofuels project, using “MSW”–municipal solid waste–as a feedstock, producing ethanol, and reducing landfill usage by 90%:

    http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2010/09/01/the-lowdown-on-enerkems-landmark-edmonton-advanced-biofuels-project/

    Existing biogas production from municipal organic waste:

    http://www.axpo-kompogas.ch/files/artikel/99/Axpo_%20Kompogas_%20Ltd_Company_Profile.pdf

  45. 645

    #615 Rod Black

    Probably the easiest way to understand it is if you are the industry that is making the most money, you really want to remain the industry that makes the most money.

    Since regulation on carbon emissions would impinge on profits, you would want to do everything you could to delay regulation in that area while you ramped up R&D in areas that will make you money once that regulation becomes inevitable.

    This isn’t rocket science Rod, it’s just greed and power. Pretty simple really. The goal is to make as much money on everything you can. fossil or renewable makes no difference.


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  46. 646
    Septic Matthew says:

    638, Rick Brown: Here’s another hint: living things die sooner or later (usually sooner). Your attention to Gross Primary Productivity misses this point; what you ought to be interested in is NetPP. Actually if, as they say, you do the maths, I think you’ll find that even this is irrelevant in the context you are discussing. Think about it – perhaps 20% of the excess C in the atmosphere comes from land use change, primarily deforestation.

    I am glad that you mentioned that because (a) I agree with you about the net, but the article is about the gross and you have to start somewhere; (b) land use changes are among the things that will not be changed by reducing CO2, hence one of the reasons why reducing CO2 is not guaranteed to reverse warming [i.e., why the money might be wasted]; and (c) reforestation and aforestation are among the actions that I support, for multiple reasons, including (in Indonesia, for example) planting salt-tolerant mangroves for protection against tsunamis.

    The pattern in some places of alternations of forest growth and forest fires has the net effect of storing energy and reducing entropy via the accumulation of char and other useful stuff in the soil. Marine organisms create dense, highly structured skeletons that sink to the ocean floor.

    Now more readings from my selected text. In chapter 17 the authors explain how “stationary states” can develop in non-equilibrium systems (earth is non-equilibrium for multiple reasons, including that the influx of energy from the sun is not constant), and the total entropy can oscillate up and down above the stationary value. Since the earth’s climate system has demonstrably oscillated up and down over the last 10 millenia and more, it would seem that it would be worthwhile to investigate the degree to which the earth system agrees quantitatively with the theory.

    642 Geoff Wexler: ‘positive entropy’

    Good catch. I intend to be writing about positive and negative entropy changes within defined regions of the climate system.

  47. 647
    Septic Matthew says:

    At the risk of exceeding my quota, here is the widely cited article noting that not all the energy is accounted for:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;328/5976/316?cookietest=yes&maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=trenberth&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

    If the earth system is a net energy importer, then some of the energy might be stored in the biosphere; and the earth system might experience a net entropy reduction.

  48. 648
    Geoff Wexler says:

    #646

    earth is non-equilibrium for multiple reasons, including that the influx of energy from the sun is not constant

    Correction: ‘non-equilibrium’ should be ‘non-stationary’

    (a term which you have just introduced correctly and then immediately discarded).

    #647

    I take it that you are challenging this remark in the abstract:

    Existing observing systems can measure all the required quantities,

    Do you know what the existing method is for estimating the change in energy absorbed by the biosphere?

  49. 649
    Rick Brown says:

    Septic M:

    I’m reminded of Ted Williams’ advice that “If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”

    I understand that my personal threshold for “too much” is regrettably low, so I try to figure things out by reading widely. On this topic at least, I think you would be well served to try thinking less and reading more. Tear your attention away from your “selected text” and read Tom Curtis’s comment @ 639 and then spend some time with, for instance,

    http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/energyflow/energyflow.html
    and

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/papers-on-primary-production-and-climate-change/

    You’re in desperate need of some context and some perspective. I’m done.

  50. 650
    Septic Matthew says:

    639, Tom Curtis: Without calculating the energy changes involved; we know that humans currently dig up and consume fossil carbon from biological sources at a far greater rate than they are being laid down. Ergo, energy released by consumption of fossil fuels is significantly greater than enery storage by the carbon cycle. As we know that the energy contribution to surface temperature from burning of fossil fuels is sufficiently small as to be irrelevant as a contributor to global warming, it follows that energy storage by biological carbon sequestration is also too small to have a measurable effect on energy balance equations.

    So far, no one has answered my questions.

    648 Geoff Wexler: Correction: ‘non-equilibrium’ should be ‘non-stationary’

    No. It is non-equilibrium. If it were in equilibrium, however, then AGW would not be happening, but the worry is that with AGW (even if CO2 were stabilized at the present value), temperature will continue to rise until a new higher equilibrium is reached. This is one of the topics that, now that I’ve been alerted to it, I shall follow more closely in the upcoming decades.

    As you may have noticed, when people tell me to read more, I read more.


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