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One year later

Filed under: — gavin @ 20 November 2010

I woke up on Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009 completely unaware of what was about to unfold. I tried to log in to RealClimate, but for some reason my login did not work. Neither did the admin login. I logged in to the back-end via ssh, only to be inexplicably logged out again. I did it again. No dice. I then called the hosting company and told them to take us offline until I could see what was going on. When I did get control back from the hacker (and hacker it was), there was a large uploaded file on our server, and a draft post ready to go announcing the theft of the CRU emails. And so it began.

From that Friday, and for about 3 weeks afterward, we were drafted into the biggest context setting exercise we’d ever been involved in. What was the story with Soon and Baliunas? What is the difference between tree ring density and tree ring width? What papers were being discussed in email X? What was Trenberth talking about? Or Wigley? Or Briffa or Jones? Who were any of this people anyway? The very specificity of the emails meant that it was hard for the broader scientific community to add informed comment, and so the burden on the people directly involved was high.

The posts we put up initially are still valid today – and the 1000’s of comment stand as testimony to the contemporary fervour of the conversation:

I think we did pretty well considering – no other site, nor set of scientists (not even at UEA) provided so much of the background to counter the inevitable misinterpretations that starting immediately spreading. While some commentators were predicting resignations, retractions and criminal charges, we noted that there had not been any scientific misconduct, and predicted that this is what the inquiries would find and that the science would not be affected. (Note, the most thorough inquiry, and one that will have to withstand judicial review, is the one by EPA which, strangely enough, has barely been discussed in the blogosphere).

Overall, reactions have seemed to follow predictable lines. The Yale Forum has some interesting discussions from scientists, and there are a couple of good overviews available. Inevitably perhaps, the emails have been used to support and reinforce all sorts of existing narratives – right across the spectrum (from ‘GW hoaxers’ to Mike Hulme to UCS to open source advocates).

Things have clearly calmed down over the last year (despite a bit of a media meltdown in February), but as we predicted, no inquiries found anyone guilty of misconduct, no science was changed and no papers retracted. In the meantime we’ve had one of the hottest years on record, scientists continue to do science, and politicians…. well, they continue to do what politicians do.

442 Responses to “One year later”

  1. 201

    BPL: And you’ve got a 5% chance of the actual figure being outside 2.1-4.5 K, which means a 2.5% chance that it’s really low. And you want to bet humanity’s future on that?

    BW: My understanding is that the studies show that the chances of a sensitivity lower than 2.1 K are less than a sensitivity higher than 4.5 K.

    BPL: Well, you’re probably right about that, it’s probably not a homoskedastic distribution. Of course, that makes my point even more forcefully.

  2. 202

    max 179: To put it very mildly, I believe you are grossly exaggerating the projected consequences of a few hundred added ppmv of atmospheric CO2 over the next century.

    BPL: You believe all kinds of interesting things, but that particular one doesn’t really conform to reality. I have studied this question in depth. You haven’t. I’m right, you’re wrong. Sorry about that.

  3. 203
    Walter Pearce says:

    #196, making up crap.

    Rod B., 12 August 2009:

    “As a skeptic, I’m very concerned with society-bending and massively costly mitigation efforts being implemented with the current confidence (my view) in AGW science.”

    Gee, where DID the idea come from that Rod B. doesn’t appreciate environmental values and fossil fuel externalities?”

  4. 204
    JBL says:

    @BPL 200: Hank refers not to knowing the science but rather to spreading misinformation. He’s gently suggesting that you not waste your time arguing with someone who is here to mislead others rather than to share knowledge.

  5. 205
    Dan H. says:

    Secular linked to a good research paper which agrees with the Spencer & Braswell report on the effect of clouds on climate, but disagrees on the effect of temperature on cloud formation.

    Both papers have concluded that an increase in clouds will have a cooling effect; the reflected sunlight will exceed the trapped radiation. S & B stated, as have others, that a warming world will increase cloud cover due to greater water evaporation and condensation. Alex Lauer argues the opposite; that a warming world will decrease cloud cover.

  6. 206

    @200: BPL: Then how in hell did he get the idea that a confidence interval is an “assumption?”

    What JBL said–though I’d have put it that reading for comprehension isn’t really what Max does.

  7. 207
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Max,
    OK, let me draw you a map. In order for sensitivity to be significantly below 2.1 degrees per doubling:

    1)Current climate models would have to be not just wrong, but utterly wrong. This is not a problem you could fix with a few parametric tweaks. You would have to come up with a completely different model. And of course, you’d have to explain why the current models (which are dynamical physical models) get so much right if they are so wrong. See:
    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    2)You could not explain the onset of the last ice age or its end.

    3)There is a mountain of proxy data that could not be understood that is currently well understood under current models.

    4)You could not make sense of the instrumental record.

    5)You could not explain the response of the atmosphere to large volcanic eruptions.

    6)You could not understand why the planet did not cool more in the 1945-75.

    And that is just for starters. You cannot simply take a dataset–and one with lots of systematic errors–and say, “Oh look, everything we know must be wrong.”

    As to Judy Curry, I don’t know if you noticed, but her expertise is in hurricanes. Her knowledge outside of that narrow domain is–to be charitable–thin. She also seems quite weak on the scientific method. I don’t think she qualifies as an authority.

  8. 208
    Rod B says:

    Walter Pearce (203), no, that is the smart vs. stupid distinction…

  9. 209
    Didactylos says:

    BPL said (to Max): “You believe all kinds of interesting things, but that particular one doesn’t really conform to reality. I have studied this question in depth. You haven’t. I’m right, you’re wrong. Sorry about that.”

    Let’s run that one more time: “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

    And that’s why you don’t get any respect, BPL. Serious people disagree with you. People who aren’t deniers or faux sceptics.

    Pretend you are infallible if you want. But it’s a sure-fire way not to get taken seriously. Every over-excited alarmist makes our task harder.

  10. 210
    Didactylos says:

    manacker said: “but it does not change the fact (as IPCC has conceded)”

    manacker, something has to be the largest source of uncertainty. Your argument that because uncertainty exists, we can’t rely on the result is just moronic. It depends on the size of the uncertainty, and here we already have some good bounds on the uncertainty.

    Maybe if we study clouds a whole lot more, something else will become the largest source of uncertainty. It really doesn’t matter. Uncertainty is always with us.

    It irritates me no end when deniers like manacker pretend that scientists or the IPCC are “conceding” things that are perfectly obvious and widely accepted.

  11. 211

    Every over-excited alarmist makes our task harder.

    Who’s ‘our’ as in ‘we’ or ‘us’. Let me explain to you who ‘i’ am, the sop called over-excited ‘alarmist’, who is simply reciting verifiable results to ‘you’. I am someone who understands what science is and how it works, someone who has a basic world class university education in the hard sciences, someone who has participated in the space, computer and software revolutions in our society, someone who has read extensively up on hard science subjects since before the computer and software revolutions, someone who figured out how to type keywords in the search bar after the software revolution, and thus, someone who has extensively read up on the hard science subjects at hand after the software revolution, and thus someone who is intimately familiar with the many and evolving scientific methods at the disposal of anyone who cares to read up on the subject, and also someone who has at my fingertips all of the current results available.

    Now let me tell you what this ‘alarmist’ has to say to you. You and your children will be royally screwed on this planet if you don’t get up off your butts and do something about the PROBLEMS that confront you real soon.

    Take it or leave it. It’s in print. From a fiscal point of view, it’s happening now, in real time. From a weather point of view, you’re talking years. From a climate point of view, you have a decade, or two, at most.

  12. 212
    Walter Pearce says:

    #208 “…smart, stupid, massive, society-bending, ineffective…”

    There’s seemingly an endless supply of straw men emanating from this Brick’s behind.

    Here’s Rod B. on 12 August 2009:

    “Accountants have to (and properly so) work only with things that can be specifically enumerated. Economists ought to be able to extend themselves beyond the numbers, but too often do not. The process is a little like a company preparing a business case. Often the best input (pro and con) of a business case is something that can not be put into numbers. Yet those inputs are usually not allowed as business leaders usually are very uncomfortable with decisions that are based on stuff other than that which can be counted. “Marketing says we can capture 13.7% of the market in 20 months and sell 1,233,901 widgets” gets a lot more acceptance (and often proves to be wildly incorrect) than, “the market is new, can’t really be quantified, but we feel we can sell a ton.” Economists suffer the same inhibitions all to often.”

    Rod B, 23 November 2010:

    “For the record, I think externalities should be costed. I just think it out to be done smartly with accounting finesse and not stupidly with an ineffective sledge hammer and snow plow.”

    What’s really stupid is that 20 years ago we missed the opportunity to apply the precautionary principle in a measured, evolutionary way. Thanks to the muddled or outright contradictory thinking — intentional or not — exhibited by the Rod Bs and Manackers of the world, bringing externalities into the equation will be all the more abrupt and costly.

  13. 213
    Rod B says:

    Ray, a deviation in the non-feedback forcing equation assumption with a major deviation with the cloud/vapor highly uncertain assumption and I suspect the global net sensitivity changes noticeably. You are overly impressed with the fact that all models use essentially (though not exactly) the same assumed parameters and get, WALLAH!, near the same answers. I know you don’t like “assumption” applied to something you believe came down from the mount chiseled in stone, but we can’t reconcile that.

    The ice ages had temperature change leading CO2, at least in the primary instance, so is not the same as the current situation. Can scientists none-the-less draw reasonable inferences here? Sure. But reasonable inferences do not equate to cocksure unquestionable absolutism.

    By the mountain of proxy evidence are you referring to the half-dozen or so trees from times past? Or what makes up the mountain? [Curiosity: same mountain where the above assumptions came from?)

    The most annoying, to me, is when one questions one aspect of the warming theory, you twist it and claim he denies (not just questions) every piece of the theory (as in “Oh look, everything we know must be wrong.”), which of course can’t be true, and therefore he has to be completely wrong. It is a non sequitur retort.

    So, the head of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology (like Mann at Penn State) with a PhD from U of Chicago has thin knowledge, weak in the scientific method, and not any authority?? [edit – calm down]

  14. 214
    Sir says:

    198 manacker said
    And, until this “largest source of uncertainty” is cleared up, we just won’t know whether your conclusion of a 2xCO2 CS of 3C is right or Spencer’s conclusion of a 2xCO2 CS of around 0.6C is right, will we?

    Haven’t we already had .6c warming and we have only increased CO2 by 30% since 1890?

  15. 215
    Hank Roberts says:

    BPL, Max specializes in capturing climate threads with faux-naive confusion; if you reply in any thread, it will soon devolve around him; ‘oogle “Manacker Monologue” for him doing it over at Bart’s for example. He’s very good at it.

  16. 216
    humanpersonjr says:

    Everyone knew what the inquiries would find.

  17. 217

    213 (Rod B),

    You completely missed the point of Ray’s post, and completely misunderstood most of what he said, and then you appear to get angry at him as a result. This by itself highlights how poorly you understand the situation and the arguments.

  18. 218
  19. 219
    Didactylos says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    I was addressing BPL, who claims that human civilisation will “collapse” globally by 2050.

    Yes, we must act now. But persuading people to act now by misleading and manipulating them isn’t really a clever idea.

    Thomas, I have no idea what you hoped to prove with your link. So far as it addresses short-term global warming impacts, it is pure idle speculation, and I don’t see how that trumps existing global warming impact assessments for the next century. Those are quite bad enough, without making stuff up.

  20. 220
    Ken Coffman says:

    Okay, here’s a sad confession for you. Once you guys start talking about things outside the troposphere, I tune you out. I’m very interested in our surface temperature and tend to look at things with large thermal mass—things like water…and earth to some extent. I also look at things that can store and release huge amounts of energy, like water’s phase changes. I think about all the components of TSI (not fully discovered yet) and cloud feedback (oh, what a mess that is). I think about things like gray-sphere adaptations of Stefan–Boltzmann’s law.

    The stratosphere seems like an interesting place, but I don’t spend much time there. To the extent that you can say it has a temperature, I’d say it’s very cold. But, it’s rarified, so it has no significant thermal mass. There’s not much there so it won’t interfere with IR radiation much. Between us friends? Let’s just call it vacuum and live with any tiny errors this simplification introduces.

    For the errors in my simplification, I’m happy to learn something new. However, there is so much chaos, error and uncertainty in the big factors, I think it’s pointless to argue over the tiny factors.

    If you ever wonder why your clamor falls on deaf ears when you’re talking to many of us in the engineering community, I have done my best to explain. I hope you appreciate it. You’re welcome.

    [Response: Your problem is not that you in the engineering community, but that you personally don’t want to understand what climate science is saying. If we say that there is a good piece of data somewhere that allows to distinguish between two possible hypotheses, someone (engineer or not) who was interested in those hypotheses might ask for us to explain it a little more, or show the relevant evidence. Someone who has already made up their mind would respond that wherever that somewhere was, it can’t be interesting and that we should talk about something else. Which one fits best with your response? – gavin]

  21. 221
    Maya says:

    Didactylos, you and BPL are both posters to whom I pay particular attention when reading on this site. You’re both well-reasoned, and you can back up what you say. Yes, BPL is more aggressive in his speech, but I can’t ever remember him actually being wrong when he was insisting he was right, although I’m sure it has happened. And, as has been pointed out before, alarmING and alarmIST are not the same thing. His presentation may not sit well with you, but in my not-that-humble opinion, such voices as his are also necessary in the discussion (not just here, the discussion in society as a whole) to be assertive, to tell it like it is, to not pull punches.

    Maybe this is sort of OT, but on the other hand, the whole Climategate thing was about speaking out, when to do it, and when not to do it.

  22. 222
    SecularAnimist says:

    The reactions to BPL’s comments regarding the likely collapse of human civilization by mid-century are interesting — especially those from commenters who accept the reality of AGW and understand the factors (e.g. the impact of widespread, prolonged, intense drought on agriculture; the collapse of oceanic fisheries; the loss of fresh water supplies for billions of people) that inform BPL’s comments.

    Basically, I don’t see much in the way of substantive objections. It seems to be more about a psychological unwillingness to accept the possibility that human civilization has no future.

    Personally, I would LOVE to hear a plausible, convincing argument that the scenarios that BPL envisions won’t happen.

    Because at this point, I can’t really think of any.

  23. 223

    I was addressing BPL, who claims that human civilization will “collapse” globally by 2050.

    Civiliazations collapse. I cannot think of a single human ‘civilization’ in the past 10,000 years besides our own current version, that did not collapse. What makes you think our current civilization is exempt?

    My next question is collapse from what, since I’ve already established that according to human holocene history it will inevitably collapse.

    Collapse from climate change? Collapse from deforestation? Collapse from barbarian invasion? Collapse from heavy metal poisoning? Collapse from volcanic eruption and tsunami? Collapse from asteroid or comet impact?

    Most previous civil collapses resulted in dieoffs related to things like agricultural collapse from climate change and deforestation or invasion.

    I’m pretty sure BPL was talking about collapse from climate change, and I have already pointed out to you that collapse from overpopulation, war, famine and financial bankruptcy is already well on its way to inevitable completion, with an estimated timeframe that is well before mid century.

    You can only do things like print money and emit carbon for so long.

  24. 224

    Did, in one of his frequent moods: Let’s run that one more time: “I’m right, you’re wrong.”
    And that’s why you don’t get any respect, BPL. Serious people disagree with you. People who aren’t deniers or faux sceptics.
    Pretend you are infallible if you want. But it’s a sure-fire way not to get taken seriously. Every over-excited alarmist makes our task harder.

    BPL: On this particular issue, I’m right and he’s wrong. I didn’t say I was infallible. I was just saying he was wrong. Kind of like you whenever you try to analyze me.

    I don’t get any respect? Monday I met with Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) to talk about my climate research. I’m about to have two articles published in peer-reviewed journals. I have a successful writing career. I correspond with people like Jim Kasting, Aiguo Dai, and Kevin Trenberth. So who is it that isn’t giving me respect, at least with regard to my knowledge of climate science? Aside from you, I mean.

    [Response: Can we all just tone it down a little? Backbiting among commentators is neither interesting nor edifying. – gavin]

  25. 225

    I said I wasn’t going to answer Rod again, but…

    Rod: WALLAH!

    BPL: It’s VOILÀ. French, meaning, “See there.” Used by stage magicians when they display something.

  26. 226

    Hank 215–Point taken. I didn’t understand what you meant at first. Sorry about that.

  27. 227

    Did: was addressing BPL, who claims that human civilisation will “collapse” globally by 2050.
    Yes, we must act now. But persuading people to act now by misleading and manipulating them isn’t really a clever idea.

    BPL: Unless I’m just telling them the truth. My current best estimate for collapse is 2050-2055. Mean figure 2052, s.d. 0.66 after 10,000 runs of the simulation. See my upcoming article in J. Clim. for details.

  28. 228

    Ken Coffman 220: The stratosphere seems like an interesting place, but I don’t spend much time there. To the extent that you can say it has a temperature, I’d say it’s very cold. But, it’s rarified, so it has no significant thermal mass.

    BPL: Actually, the stratosphere has about 20% of the mass of the entire atmosphere. Big thermal mass, actually. Use the same composition as the troposphere (it’s about right except for ozone, which is a very minor constituent), and use 0.2 x 5.14e18 for the mass, 1004 J/K/kg for the specific heat at constant pressure.

  29. 229

    Secular–I have to agree with you. I would LOVE to see good evidence that I’m wrong on this. I don’t WANT civilization to collapse. I probably won’t live to 2052, but other families will. And, of course, the collapse could come earlier, since my analysis *only* covers the drought problem.

    Without high-tech civilization, I’m dead. Multiple medical conditions.

  30. 230
    Anonymous Coward says:

    I #227 supposed to be a joke?

    I hope you’re not trying to turn RC in yet another doomer blog (perhaps it would be time to take this elsewhere) but you haven’t even defined “collapse” so there’s no way to tell what you’re talking about. People often write about the Chinese civilization and so on as if such civilizations didn’t collapse. The kind of basket cases Jared Diamond famously wrote about obviously qualify as collapses but some of you are apparently using borader definitions. That or you’ve got to be kidding…

  31. 231
    Ken Coffman says:

    Very well, Mr. BPL. I’m listening. The stratosphere, with at least 2 orders of magnitude more volume than the troposphere, has 20% of its mass. That means there’s not much density. I’m making large errors if I equate “not much density” to “very nearly no density”? There’s a big difference between radiating through the stratosphere and radiating though empty space? Really?

  32. 232
    CM says:

    Ken Coffmann #220

    > Once you guys start talking about things outside the troposphere (…)
    > The stratosphere (…) won’t interfere with IR radiation much (…)

    I must have missed something. Where did the stratosphere come into it? I can’t see anybody mentioned it before you did. What’s the point you’re trying to make?

  33. 233

    I hope you’re not trying to turn RC in yet another doomer blog (perhaps it would be time to take this elsewhere) but you haven’t even defined “collapse”.

    If you truly want to discuss civilizations and doom, if would help if you could educate yourself a little about it, rather than blowing off those who have.

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

    Anyone can work through the list and discern the reasons and methods of their collapse, but I’ll just list a few for brevity. The Olmecs, Aztecs, Mayans and Incas were destroyed by Spanish invasion, and most people will agree that was accompanied by war, barbarism, chaos, disease, slavery and ultimately buccaneering. Their remnants were eventually merged into modern civilization. The Greeks were conquered by the Romans bit by bit, and they eventually fell to Germanic barbarism and Christianity, exemplified by the ‘Dark Ages’. Heavy metal poisoning and deforestation and silting of the harbors are also often implicated. The Minoans were destroyed by natural disaster, in their case a point disaster of catastrophic volcanic eruption and tsunami. Babylon (Mesopotamia) in the fertile crescent was ultimately destroyed by simple climate change – desertification, accompanied by invasion and starvation. That didn’t change much until the discovery of oil in the region. The list goes on and you can further refine to empires.

    The point that your so called ‘doomers’ are making is that modern civilization is inextricably linked to global trade, that is now dependent upon both the printing of endless amount of money representing a finite amount of natural resources, and the emission of essentially endless amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide representing a finite amount of natural buffering rate and capacity, and a nearly exponential growth of human population, which is demonstrably unsustainable barring any near term technological breakthroughs. The previous technological breakthrough making this stunning modern population and economic growth possible, is the invention of oil, gas and coal mining and its controlled combustion.

    The only near term technological innovation on the horizon that can replace this is direct solar energy conversion, which depends on technological breakthroughs in condensed matter physics, and/or low cost space flight, which doesn’t seem possible in the current climate of corporate, religious and militant fascism, and the resulting anti-science backlash that necessarily accompany the socioeconomic cults they represent.

    If you’ve got a solution to this paradox, I’d love to hear about it.

  34. 234
    manacker says:

    @Gavin

    Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Yes, it [2xCO2 CS] could be 5C, as you write. One does not need to move very much further down the correlation with the observed feedback parameter to arrive at a 2xCO2 of “infinity”.

    Paleo-climate studies are great.

    But the data are, by definition, a bit sketchy. Then there are the rather simplistic assumptions that we know all there is to know about our climate. The last glacial maximum can be explained quite simply by significantly colder temperatures, which cannot be definitively explained, unfortunately, due to the many “unknown unknowns” to which Dr. Curry alluded.

    My point is simply: two renowned climate scientists (among others): Lindzen and Spencer, have both concluded that 2xCO2 CS is well below 1C (although they disagree on how much below 1C). Both based their conclusion at least partly on recent satellite observations (rather than on long-ago paleo-climate reconstructions).

    Why should their assessment not be included in the overall assumed range, as a part of the “uncertainty”?

    Max

    PS Gavin, you may not wish to respond again, as our exchange is, admittedly, becoming a bit repetitive.

  35. 235

    Why should their assessment not be included in the overall assumed range, as a part of the “uncertainty”?

    Because numerous recent papers point out many (some of them major) flaws in Lindzen et al. as described here.

  36. 236
    Brian Dodge says:

    “Many of my e-mails have been maliciously taken out of context, another effort by those assaulting my career.”
    Jack Abramoff

    according to wikipedia
    “Abramoff was a top lobbyist for the Preston Gates & Ellis and Greenberg Traurig firms and a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, and Toward Tradition. He was College Republican National Committee National Chairman from 1981 to 1985. He was a founding member of the International Freedom Foundation.”
    “Abramoff pled guilty on January 3, 2006, to three criminal felony counts in a Washington, D.C., federal court related to the defrauding of American Indian tribes and corruption of public officials.”

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jack_abramoff.html – they uncharitably place Abramoff in the author category “criminal”.

  37. 237
    manacker says:

    @Thomas Lee Elifritz

    Good analysis (233), as far as I’m concerned.

    Modern civilization is inextricably linked to global trade – absolutely

    Printing of endless amount of money – definitely a time bomb

    [Consuming] a finite amount of resources – maybe, with caveat below

    Emission of essentially endless amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide – not really, Thomas, because of the “finite amount of resources” (i.e. fossil fuels) mentioned above. All the optimistically estimated fossil fuel reserves on this planet would just barely get the atmospheric CO2 level up to around 1,000 ppmv some day in the distant future, so it is not “endless”.

    Agree that energy from fossil fuels has enabled human population and affluence to reach their current levels – but there are still billions who live in poverty and (as a result) procreate too rapidly and this problem must be addressed.

    Fossil fuels will only last around 150 more years unless their consumption is slowed down and their use eventually limited to non-combustion applications, such as chemicals, fertilizers, etc.

    Solar energy may play a major role in moving the world away from its dependence on fossil fuel based energy, as you say, but so can nuclear fission (including fast-breeder technology using thorium to essentially eliminate the spent fuel problem), nuclear fusion and some as yet unknown new technology we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

    I am basically not a “doomsday” pessimist (like BPL), but I agree with you that we must be prudent in our use of the resources we have, we must eliminate waste and pollution, we must figure out how to give the billions of impoverished humans a basic energy infrastructure, so they can pull themselves up from abject poverty, malnutrition and disease, and we must definitely stop printing endless amounts of “funny money” to pay our bills.

    Max

  38. 238
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., I realize that posts on “climategate” tend to bring out the wilfully ignorant, anti-science ideologues, but as long as you’ve been hanging around here, you have no excuse. Climate sensitivity depends on how much an amount of energy put into the system gets amplified by feedbacks. It does not depend on the source of that energy (at least to first order). If the sensitivity for CO2 is low, then it must also be low for changes in insolation, sulfates… The problem is that you don’t get a climate that oscillates in and out of ice ages if that is the case. You don’t get a climate that cools dramatically in response to a large volcanic eruption.

    Moreover, climate models are very delicately balanced and highly constrained. There are not a lot of knobs one can twiddle. Now climate sensitivity is one of the most sensitive quantities in terms of determining climate behavior.

    As to the mountain of evidence, here is a good place to start:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/papers-on-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

    It’s part of the mountain of evidence. And as to where to look for evidence of low sensitivity…well, there isn’t any convincing evidence, really, is there?

  39. 239
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Didactylos and Anonymous Coward,
    Look, why not play the game of science the way it’s supposed to be played? Rather than labeling Barton alarmist for telling you the conclusions of his analysis, why not go over it and see where specifically you think it is wrong? I suspect that the analysis might be pessimistic. We’ll have barely seen 1.5 degrees of warming by then in all likelihood. However, I do know Barton is a careful person who usually is not given to making rash statements. I also know the period from ~2050-2100 is critical, as it is likely the period when human population will crest and place maximum strain on the planet’s productive capabilities and its ability to heal from damage. I think it is quite possible that we could permanently degrade the planet’s ability to support life in this period. Barton is at least trying to assess whether this is a credible threat.

    I think it deserves a bit more consideration than a cry of “Alarmist!”

  40. 240

    I have no idea what you hoped to prove with your link. So far as it addresses short-term global warming impacts, it is pure idle speculation, and I don’t see how that trumps existing global warming impact assessments for the next century. Those are quite bad enough, without making stuff up.

    Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate – making stuff up.

    Be very very nice to these people. Sure. Uh-huh.

  41. 241
    Brian Dodge says:

    “There’s a big difference between radiating through the stratosphere and radiating though empty space? Really?” ROFLMAO

    The radiation is going through 20% of the CO2 in the atmosphere – you REALLY don’t think that’s any different from empty space? It’s also not going through 20% of the water vapor in the atmosphere – can you explain why that’s important?

  42. 242
    Rod B says:

    Walter Pearce (212), thanks for repeating my post where I was making a case for externalities getting into the costing. Funny though, it sounds like your using that post to show me doing just the opposite, and somehow blaming me for the lack of externalities in the current system of accounting. But maybe that’s just my perception….

  43. 243
    Rod B says:

    Bob (Sphaerica) (217), I read Ray as stating six points that might have to be shown different from convention before anyone could even question sensitivity. I responded to three of them, and then made comments on two of his assertions. I’m not sure how I might have misread Ray’s comment; can you be more specific?

  44. 244
    Rod B says:

    BPL, Gavin said to hold down the grammar, but thanks loads.

  45. 245
    Rod B says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz, thanks for the link of an example of Krugman making stuff up.

  46. 246
    Didactylos says:

    [edit – enough is enough]

  47. 247
    Didactylos says:

    Thomas: perhaps we are talking at cross-purposes.

    You are wasting your time treating me as an enemy, because I am already perfectly aware of the possible future of the planet.

    Collapse is very likely, if we continue with BAU. But a global collapse? Maybe in the end, but a simultaneous catastrophic global collapse is very, very unlikely. Western civilisation isn’t a monolith. Nor is the west the region under most pressure. Additionally, rich countries have resources to deal with crises. I’m not naive. I’m aware that as economies break down, other economies that depend on them will suffer, and quality of life will be reduced. But that’s a long way from a collapse. Humanity is adaptable, after all.

    This subject deserves careful thought, not bald and unconvincing claims of total collapse by 2050. Claims that significantly detract from the business of *changing* BAU, and that give ammunition to those trying to paint all climate scientists as alarmist.

  48. 248
    VeryTallGuy says:

    Ken Coffman @220

    Please don’t traduce all of us qualified engineers so casually.

    I would expect an engineer, if believing the stratosphere to be unimportant, to quantify the effects of the stratosphere, perhaps via an energy balance at the tropopause and the corresponding balance at the top of the stratosphere, with references, to justify that it is, in your words “vacuum”, but for “tiny errors”.

    Any chance of coming back with the quantification and references ?

    Then we engineers can judge whether you’re correct, or just making it up.

  49. 249

    Ken Coffman: That means there’s not much density. I’m making large errors if I equate “not much density” to “very nearly no density”? There’s a big difference between radiating through the stratosphere and radiating though empty space? Really?

    BPL: You said this meant the stratosphere had low “thermal mass.” It doesn’t. Do you understand what the term means?

  50. 250
    Snapple says:

    The Voice of America has an article about climate science, the upcoming Cancum meeting. The article quotes quotes John Abraham.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/environment/Climate-Change-Debate-Continues-for-Scientists-Politicians-News-Media-110486429.html