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Unforced variations: Jan 2011

Filed under: — group @ 6 January 2011

After perusing the comments and suggestions made last week, we are going to try a new approach to dealing with comment thread disruptions. We are going to try and ensure that there is always an open thread for off-topic questions and discussions. They will be called (as this one) “Unforced Variation: [current month]” and we will try and move all off-topic comments on other threads to these threads. So if your comment seems to disappear from one thread, look for it here.

Additionally, we will institute a thread for all the troll-like comments to be called “The Bore Hole” (apologies to any actual borehole specialists) that won’t allow discussion, but will serve to show how silly and repetitive some of the nonsense that we have been moderating out is. (Note that truly offensive posts will still get deleted). If you think you’ve ended up there by mistake, please let us know.

With no further ado, please talk about anything climate science related you like.

370 Responses to “Unforced variations: Jan 2011”

  1. 201
    David B. Benson says:

    2xCO2 acting alone gives 1.2 K. From the transient response to date
    about twice that. From the Pliocene
    Earth system sensitivity inferred from Pliocene modelling and data
    Daniel J. Lunt, Alan M. Haywood, Gavin A. Schmidt, Ulrich Salzmann, Paul J. Valdes & Harry J. Dowsett
    Nature Geoscience 3, 60 – 64 (2010)
    about twice that.

  2. 202
    ccpo says:

    third panel discussion

    Curry: AGW understood, magnitude highly uncertain
    1 . background info doesn’t indicate existential threat over century time scale. (no kidding.)
    2. more important for robust policy response rather than quick solutions that may not address problem (hurry up and wait)
    3. 20 years of acrimonious debate of the science and policy (because your side lies their butts off and make lurid accusations about governmental control and conspiracies that don’t exist)

    4 debates over arcane points substituted for real debate of politics and values.

    5. has been publicly raising concern since 2003 about how uncertainty is evaluated and communicated

    6. need to better understand natural climate variability (it ain’t us!!!) and need more transparent and robust climate records (you’re hiding the data!!! ( at this point I’m wondering how Exxon/Koch brothers get her the money…), particularly the paleoclimate record (Mann, et al., you *&&^*&*!!!!)
    7. climate impacts on decadal scale less important than population, land use and degradation (and how do you separate the four????); regions that adapt to current weather extremes and population will be better able to deal with any additional stresses from climate changes (apparently current stresses have nothing to do with climate)

    8. social scientists and science philosophers need to interact with climate scientists to prevent dysfunction at the science/policy interface so evident this last year (from you and yours, ya dirt bag!!! Stop lying to affect policy and all will be well!!)

    9. scientists need to listen to denialist bloggers, particularly you hockey stickers!!!

    10. and give us better paleoclimate data (stop hiding it!!) and make it easy to use (cause the bloggers are not skilled at doing your job, so you have to help them so they can lie about your work and the data)

  3. 203
    ccpo says:

    [edit – might I suggest not engaging so personally?]

  4. 204
    ccpo says:

    David B. Benson says:
    15 Jan 2011 at 5:34 PM

    2xCO2 acting alone gives 1.2 K. From the transient response to date
    about twice that. From the Pliocene
    Earth system sensitivity inferred from Pliocene modelling and data
    Daniel J. Lunt, Alan M. Haywood, Gavin A. Schmidt, Ulrich Salzmann, Paul J. Valdes & Harry J. Dowsett
    Nature Geoscience 3, 60 – 64 (2010)
    about twice that.

    So, then, if sensitivity is at the high end of Charney, about 4.5, the inclusion of slow and fast feedbacks gets us to… ta-da!… 6C. I think the climate response to date argues strongly that Charney is at the high end.

  5. 205
    ccpo says:

    Chris Colose says:
    15 Jan 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Let’s not jump the gun too much on how alarming “new” climate sensitivity estimates are.

    Jump on? I’ve been saying this for 3-4 years. :-) Precocious, aren’t I?

    The Kiehl article in Science is interesting but let’s keep in mind that he’s comparing snapshots in time over a range of tens of millions of years, and it’s not self-evident that CO2/solar are the only significant forcings relevant for a good comparison, or that you can easily extrapolate the same sensitivity to the future.

    This is true scientifically, but colloquially, it’s yet another bit of info supporting higher sensitivity. But what argues best for higher sensitivity are the changes coming so early and at significant magnitudes. I understand scientific reticence, and appreciate it, but that conservative approach leaves us too often playing catch up. Perhaps we need to think on how scientists can make use of us laypeople to say things they can’t…

    There’s also a lot of ways the proxies for temperature and CO2 can be off.

    Sure, but, again, the argument for higher sensitivity has evidence piling up, and I don’t think it is a good idea to ignore that. Hansen, et al., might simply have been right.

    Also keep in mind that while the public may not be interested in what the “Charney sensitivity” is, you do have to know what it refers to if you’re going to claim it’s different than the ‘actual’ sensitivity. For that matter, what exactly does the ‘actual sensitivity’ refer to?

    Oh, come on. Who said we don’t know what Charney is? And, I explained clearly I am simply saying Charney plus all feedbacks. Charney is likely higher than 3C, but it may just be that feedbacks are more sensitive than previously understood. The rapidity of change seems to me to logically infer at least some degree of higher Charney. The responses at the poles and Greenland suggest his also, I think, for those are supposed to be very slow feedbacks.

    The paleoclimate inferences derived from the Kiehl article is most useful for understanding the very long-term response to a perturbed climate

    Sure, but I am always thinking and speaking from a 7 Generations perspective, so…

  6. 206
    David B. Benson says:

    ccpo @204 — No Charney sensitivity involved. ESS from this paleo study is about 5 K.

    5 ~ 1.2x2x2

    But the Charney sensitivity is quite close to 3 K. It’s just that it does not now appear to be such a useful concept.

  7. 207
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Anna Haynes — 13 Jan 2011 @ 11:11 PM “what’s the evidence that the climate disruptions last summer (Moscow, Pakistan) – and perhaps also now – could stem from jet stream alteration by the solar minimum (Haigh, second-hand), rather than from Arctic sea ice loss?”

    They were prolly talking about this –
    Note, however “Lockwood is quick to point out that even if the recent lull in sunspot activity extends into another Maunder minimum, the effects are regional and it will not offset global warming. ‘This is very much a European phenomenon,’ he says.”

    I suspect that it’s also not so much a question of “rather than”, but “in addition to”. Like, if the sea ice were as low as it is now, and distributed the way it is now, and the PDO/ENSO/NAO etc were the same, but the solar cycle/spectral distribution/TSI were different, then maybe half as many people in Russia would have died of heat stroke.

    Wouldn’t roul_ette be a lot more fun if everyone at the table could add or subtract momentum from the wheel? If the solar cycle was dominant, there would be a much higher correlation with the weather, and any bozo like me could plug simple data into a spreadsheet, instead of requiring “…a very careful statistical analysis, which is not the case with all the papers in this particular subject area,”

  8. 208
    FurryCatHerder says:


    Furry. Cat. Herder.

    Three words.

    And I wish I was carbon neutral these days — the renewable energy business I started has been soaking up massive amounts of spare change. That and the weather has been positively dreadful the past few days and the (all-electric) motorcycle has been stuffed in the garage.

  9. 209
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Jacob Mack is absolutely right that there has been no climate change since 1984. I can state with complete confidence that the weather on July 1st (“middle” point in the calendar year …), 1984 was MUCH warmer in the Northern Hemisphere (which is all that matters) than it is today in the Northern Hemisphere (which is all that matters).

    Now all we have to do is order days from one year to the next such that each subsequent year has it’s next cooler day selected and I’m sure someone can draw a graph that shows 365 consecutive years of cooling.

  10. 210
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Furry Cat Herder #207 Be careful what you wish for.

  11. 211
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Oh guttural grunt! That should be #208

  12. 212
    FurryCatHerder says:

    OAB @ 210/211:

    What’s that supposed to mean? Being carbon neutral isn’t hard, it’s just that starting a business (I’m an ex-high tech person who passed her “Best Sell By” date and was laid off …) has a way of making you broke!

    — Julie.

  13. 213

    doug 191: Most of the commenters here are firm believers in global warming as I am.

    BPL: Yeah. Sure.

    doug: They argue for it with great knowledge and passion. I am curious what changes they have made in their own lives to reduce their carbon use. I have a feeling some of the most strident believers are doing virtually nothing.

    BPL: Well, let’s see. I drive a late-model Kia. We’ve got all CFBs instead of incandescents. We take the bus a lot. I have plastic over all my windows but two I have to get to today. We had our furnace replaced with a more efficient model. We turn off surge suppressors when the devices connected to them are off, so they won’t draw parasitic power. Is that enough?

  14. 214
    Jim Dukelow says:

    In #272, Didactylos writes: “hormesis is the basis of homeopathy. I think Maddow was perfectly justified in treating it with contempt, particularly given Robinson’s views on it.

    Due to the low quality of research in the area, I’m not certain why you want to defend it at all. Anyone seriously studying low-dose effects can do so quite happily without ever using the word “hormesis”. They should avoid the term, in my opinion, given its anti-science origins and associations. And in general, I think they do avoid the term.”

    Homeopathy predates the initial research on hormesis by Hugo Schulz. Homeopathy seized on that research and later elaborations as scientific justification for their (pre-existing) practices. As Didactylos notes, this gave the concept and word hormesis a “bad name”. More recently, research on hormesis, using the “bad name”, has revived. In 1990, the Department of Energy and other organizations established the Advisory Committee on Biological Effects of Low-level Exposure (BELLE), which has organized meetings and published research in the BELLE newsletter ever since. BELLE newsletters are available at . Of particular interest in this context is v. 16, no. 1, April 2010 on Hormesis and Homeopathy.

    DOE has supported this research because of the significant fiscal impact of the standards on the health effects of low-level radiation, since this controls how much needs to be spent to sequester the waste resulting from weapons programs, civilian nuclear power, and medical and industrial uses of radiation. This research is contentious and highly politicized, as reflected in Didactylos comment above.

    Unlike Didactylos, I don’t think Maddow benefits from treating kooks (with excellent credentials) like Robinson with contempt. She makes the same mistake that Robinson does, believing she knows the truth in an area outside her expertise (probably because she is more ideologically comfortable with those who say A is true than she is with those who say B is true). As an aside, apparently Robinson’s poll numbers dropped several points after his appearance on Maddow’s show.

    I would be more persuaded by Didactylos assertion of “the low quality of the research in the area” if he or she showed any sign of having read the research in the area.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  15. 215
    Brian Dodge says:

    “arctic sea ice, which depend on many, many factors, of which globally averaged temperature anomaly is not even the most important factor,”

    True, but irrelevant and intentionally deceptive. It is also absolutely true that the amount of hot air Lindzen is blowing in Congress face isn’t a factor in melting of sea ice.

    What Lindzen has hoped you(and Congress) won’t notice is that no matter how the other “factors” that are important for sea ice melting change, if the ice doesn’t get warmer, it will not melt. Changing winds will move ice around, but if it doesn’t warm, it won’t melt. Changing ocean currents won’t melt the ice unless they warm it.

    Lets assume for a moment that denialists like Lindzen are correct that the instrumental record is complete UHI hooey, made up out of whole cloth by that econazi Hansen and his cohorts. Lets further assume that Svensmark, Soon, and Baliunas are correct and that its all due to solar output and its GCR/cloud interactions, which have caused a pause in the “natural cycles of climate change” where we have instrumental records since 2002.

    Where we have few instrumental records, in the Arctic, there has been a statistically significant decline in ice since 2002.
    >>>>> It has to have gotten warmer there, or the ice wouldn’t have melted. <<<<<<<<<<
    If we average this warming in the Arctic with our (presumed unchanging) temperatures elsewhere, there has been an increase in average global temperature.

    Lindzen' assertion that "there is no such thing as global average temp" is based on the canard that the measures that are combined are like comparing apples to oranges. If I have a pile of fruit that has 930-1120 kg of apples, and 820-950 kg of oranges, and i add 30-40 kg of apples and 27-33 kg of oranges, I get a larger pile of fruit. It doesn't matter that I didn't know precisely how much apples or oranges I started with, or precisely how much of each that added, I still get a bigger pile of fruit. If I know that some guy named CO2 is adding apples and oranges to the pile, I know the pile is growing.

    It doesn't matter that the satellite records, and weather station records, and ship ocean temperature records, and sea level records, and glacial melt records, and sea ice extent (or area or volume) aren't measuring exactly he same thing, or have imprecision that all measurements have, we still have a bigger pile of global average temperature. We know from the radiational physics that CO2 can be used to make industrial lasers, and we know from that same physics that CO2 will add energy to the global pile of average temperature.

    "The models’ behavior is consistent with 1.5 to 4.5C per doubling of CO2. The data suggest it’s closer to half the lowest limit." BS. cherrypicked, preliminary, bleeding edge of science and subject to further improvement data often suggest climate sensitivity below what the paleoclimate record demands. Lindzen is saying we should bet the future on his guess that the nonlinearities in climate response will work in our favor – like the megafauna that went extinct because of PETM "abrupt" warming. (The PETM onset took thousands of years; the Eocene Anthropocene Thermal Maximum Event – EATME – will be much faster)

  16. 216
    ccpo says:

    David B. Benson says: 15 Jan 2011 at 7:08 PM

    ccpo @204 — No Charney sensitivity involved. ESS from this paleo study is about 5 K.

    5 ~ 1.2x2x2

    But the Charney sensitivity is quite close to 3 K. It’s just that it does not now appear to be such a useful concept.

    English, please.

    [Response: ESS = Earth System Sensitivity, meaning the inclusion of slower feedback processes (e.g. vegetation) in addition to the faster ones included in “Charney” sensitivity.–Jim]

  17. 217
    Steve says:

    IPCC list of FQ. “How Likely are Major or Abrupt Climate Changes,
    such as Loss of Ice Sheets or Changes in Global
    Ocean Circulation?”
    Not likely using available models”However, the occurrence of such changes becomes increasingly more likely as the perturbation of the climate system progresses.” Followed by page of fine print science speak that concludes “Therefore, no quantitative information is available from the current generation of ice sheet models as to the likelihood or timing of such an event.”
    Without a relevant University degree or the resources to go and get one, accepting a definition from someone like Monkton is much easier.

  18. 218
  19. 219
    Alan Millar says:

    This is a question for all the AGW theory experts out there.

    Michael Mann in support of the AGW issued his famous paper in which he said…………

    “More specifically, a number of reconstructions of large-scale temperature changes over the past millennium support the conclusion that late-20th century warmth was unprecedented over at least the past millennium. Modeling and statistical studies indicate that such anomalous warmth cannot be explained by natural factors…………………”

    He is saying that because this warming rate is clearly unprecedented we can rule out any natural cause.

    [edit. um….no he isn’t. The quote is pointing out both that (a) recent warming appears unprecedented and that (b) this unprecedented warmth cannot be explained by natural factors (the latter based primarily on climate modeling studies employing estimates of natural and anthropogenic forcing, which show that natural forcing cannot explain the observed warming). In simple logical form that can be expressed as “A and B“. You have somehow taken that, and turned it into “A implies B“. The distinction between these two statements (and the flaw in your logic) really isn’t that subtle. -mike]

  20. 220
    Maya says:

    “I am curious what changes they have made in their own lives to reduce their carbon use.”

    I drive the highest MPG car I could afford, and we live close enough to my husband’s work that he can walk instead of use his higher-MPG vehicle. We have an automatic thermostat, we recycle, all the lightbulbs are CFLs or LEDs. I buy local produce when I can find it. So on and so forth. Perhaps the biggest one is still in the works – an off-grid residence. It may take years before we can use it exclusively (money is a factor, here), but if it goes as I intend, it should be able to fully support a family (or two) with little or no outside help, if necessary.

  21. 221

    “The Bore Hole” is a great idea: how hard would it be though to tag each post with where it first showed up? It’s a bit hard to guess context from some of the weird ramblings (then again, why would I want to? Morbid curiosity?).

    I challenge the denialist sites with a track record of censoring comments (e.g. WUWT) they don’t like to publish them in like fashion.

  22. 222
    Chris Colose says:


    The discussion on climate sensitivity is getting a bit awkward. I think it’s useful to clarify a few points of interest.

    First, the response of the surface temperatures to some change in the energy budget can be usefully approximated as the sum of two components: a fast component, which is proportional to the instantaneous radiative forcing, and a slow component which represents the surface manifestation of changes in the deep ocean. In fact, even for volcanic eruptions there is a large response in ocean heat storage which persists for over a century. These different timescale components have different spatial structures, so changing the relative magnitude of the two components introduces a time-dependence into the strength of the climate sensitivity (see e.g., Senior and Mitchell, 2000; Held et al., 2010). The “slow” component is much harder to remove the system by manipulating the radiative forcing, but it’s relatively small in the present day (but grows in importance with time)

    Secondly, while it is certainly important to keep the distant forecast in mind when discussing climate impacts, you can’t also forget about the 20th and 21st century impacts of climate change. This is a time period in which the deep ocean is far out of equilibrium with the warming surface water and so the transient climate response is of great importance when talking about global warming projections out to 2100. In equilibrium, the net transfer of energy into/out of the ocean is zero. Thus the Charney sensitivity is important for thinking about simulations on longer timescales once the ocean stops taking up heat, and includes the fast feedbacks (sea ice, water vapor, clouds, lapse rate). Table 3.1 here lists current estimates of the range of warming at various CO2 concentrations for these two timescales. The Earth System Sensitivity concept is relatively new and is not a fully developed subject yet in terms of the implications. It incorporates a range of very slow feedback processes which could be important over the centuries to millennia that excess CO2 is expected to impact climate. Note that some such as Matthews (2009) have also forwarded a carbon-climate response defined as the temperature response to a given amount of CO2 emission (e.g., 1 trillion tons of carbon) and represents both the physical and carbon-based responses of the climate system.

    There are thus a number of interesting timeframes relevant to the problem of putting CO2 in the atmosphere, or having a volcano go off, etc…and a number of interesting feedbacks which are important on various timeframes. A definition of sensitivity that incorporates a wider variety of feedbacks does not necessarily invalidate the utility of another definition. Finally, when looking at new studies evaluating climate sensitivity and comparing them to other estimates, you absolutely need to make it a useful comparison (which means understanding what the studies methodology is looking at). For deep-time paleoclimate inferences of sensitivity you are going to be getting more information about equilibrium than a study analyzing the immediate post-Pinatubo impacts (for instance)

  23. 223
    John Mashey says:

    re: 221
    Phil: that’s why I’d originally suggested automatic insertion of links… but this is a good manual start to see how it works.

  24. 224
    Septic Matthew says:

    Another lawsuit to halt California solar power development:

  25. 225
    Sou says:

    @ doug#191 – I agree that actions speak louder than words. For example, solar panels and solar hot water systems are highly visible (more so than what one doesn’t do, such as not driving your car as much). In my valley, solar PV and solar HWS are getting more and more popular.

    Installing solar PV has a multiplier effect – owners become obsessive about watching what electricity they use vs what they generate and some have cut their total power usage by 50% and more! There is a site just for monitoring PV generation –

    It’s almost a competition to see how much clean electricity you can generate and how low you can get your electricity consumption!

    In Australia, the old style incandescent bulbs aren’t sold anymore, except for some highly speciali-ed purposes. Less overheating of the house, so not as much air conditioning needed as well as less electricity consumption from lights.

  26. 226
    Sou says:

    Via an article in The Age (Melbourne daily paper), I see there’s a research paper by Gallant and Karoly analysing Australia’s climate since 1911. I haven’t read the paper itself, only the abstract. But it seems that it shows that human-caused climate change has resulted in more hot and wet extremes across the continent (surprised anyone?) and shifts of climate in various parts of the country.

    The Age article is here:

    The abstract and research paper (I think this must be the one) is here (full paper is pay-walled):

    It helps to have scientific research and not merely rely on anecdotes and direct observation. I’d be interested in comments from the experts.

  27. 227
    Nick Gotts says:


    Neither my wife nor I has flown for non-work purposes since the early ’90s; we’ve allowed my 15-year-old son a return trip to Greece with his school. I have to travel quite a bit in Europe for my work (which includes work on ways to reduce energy demand), but use surface travel wherever possible – I’ll fly for the second time since 2006 this week. We both cycle to work, minimise car use, and have a high MPG car. We have insulated our house as well as we can, buy electricity from a supplier that guarantees to buy the amount it sells from renewable sources, and switch off equipment not in use.

  28. 228
    Maya says:

    Climate resets ‘Doomsday Clock’

    “Not since the darkest days of the Cold War has the Bulletin, which covers global security issues, felt the need to place the minute hand so close to midnight.”

  29. 229
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Bulletin … Doomsday Clock
    Old, respected, thoughtful organization, now paying serious attention to climate.
    Current issue includes:

    A brief history of climate change and conflict
    By James R. Lee

    (some free items, some paywalled items)

  30. 230
    SecularAnimist says:

    doug wrote: “They argue for it with great knowledge and passion. I am curious what changes they have made in their own lives to reduce their carbon use. I have a feeling some of the most strident believers are doing virtually nothing.”

    Your use of the phrase “strident believers” strongly suggests that you are a troll, and your comment is just another variation on the good old “Al Gore has a big house, therefore global warming is a hoax” argument.

  31. 231
    ccpo says:


    David B. Benson says: 15 Jan 2011 at 7:08 PM

    ccpo @204 — No Charney sensitivity involved. ESS from this paleo study is about 5 K.

    5 ~ 1.2x2x2

    But the Charney sensitivity is quite close to 3 K. It’s just that it does not now appear to be such a useful concept.

    English, please.

    [Response: ESS = Earth System Sensitivity, meaning the inclusion of slower feedback processes (e.g. vegetation) in addition to the faster ones included in “Charney” sensitivity.–Jim]

    Comment by ccpo — 16 Jan 2011 @ 2:56 PM

    Thanks, Jim. Glad to know there is a term for what I’ve been trying to express. Now please stop responding in K, David, ’cause I am not going to run to a conversion calculator every time you use that.


    [Response: K is synonymous with C when you’re just discussing anomalies, rates (eg, sensitivity) etc, since K = C + 273. Only when comparing temperature states do the scales matter–Jim]

  32. 232
    ccpoaa says:

    Chris, thanks for that, but bear in mind all of that is lost on the general public. If I had an audience, that would be it, so I seek ways of speaking about climate that are useful for engaging with those less informed folk.

    ESS, or overall sensitivity as I might call it, is far more useful to me than parsing all the feedbacks and time scales… most of the time.


    [Response: Wouldn’t you say that people are more interested in–and likely to take action on–what is likely to happen in the next 50 years, than the next 500? Also, the further out in time you go, the less predictable things are in a complex system.–Jim]

  33. 233

    On February 3, WWF and Ecofys will release The Energy Report. A report that will show that a planet run completely on renewable energy is something that could happen within the lifetime of many of us:

  34. 234
    Maya says:

    “Hansen, et al., might simply have been right.”

    If Hansen were a racehorse, I’d bet on him every time and grow rich on the winnings.

    I appreciate the conservative I’m-a-scientist-so-I-need-to-be-able-to-defend-what-I-say-to-my-last-breath, really I do. BUT, whether the effects of AGW peak 100 years from now, or 1000, or 3000, I’ll be dead by then. My concern is for my children, my children’s children, and all the generations that come after them. With luck (although other species might beg to differ on how lucky it will be), there will still be people around in those distant times, maybe some with my DNA. They won’t care what the Charney sensitivity is/was, they’ll only care what the climate actually DID in response to the carbon (and other things) we released into it. If it’s a possibility that the response will be greater than we think, we need to look at it fearlessly.

    After all, if I need to set up my little farm in Alaska, or north of the Arctic circle, instead of in the continental US, I’d really like to know that now, instead of 30 years from now when I hand it off to my children, and their children.

  35. 235
    harrywr2 says:

    Given that the price of steam coal in Asian markets where 2/3rds of the worlds coal is burned has gone from $27/tonne in 2002 to $120/tonne in 2010 what evidence is there that economic substitution will not take place?

    In light of recent reports that the Chinese have $500 billion in their nuclear power build budget what evidence is there that emissions growth will continue at it’s recent pace?

    In light of the fact that steam coal prices in the US Southeast are at $80/tonne and all Southeastern US electric utilities have applications pending before the US NRC of which NONE have yet to be given anything more then ‘pre-construction’ approval is there any reason to believe that economic substitution will not occur once regulatory delays are overcome?

    Is ‘Business as Usual’ what will happen if the economy is allowed to adjusts to changing economic circumstances or is ‘Business as usual’ what will happen only if the economy fails to adjust to changing economic circumstances?

    Given the fact that nuclear,wind and hydro are all cheaper forms of energy in Asia and Africa then fossil fuels how realistic are the emissions scenario’s that project substantial growth in fossil fuel use in Asia and Africa once beyond the period of industrial lag?

    I.E. In the electric generation markets it takes 10 years from the point where economic substitution makes financial sense to the point where the economic substitution actually occurs.

    Which emissions scenario projections in the IPCC report had coal priced at or above $120/tonne?

    To be fair, anyone predicting in 2005 that steam coal in Asian and European Markets would be $120/tonne in 2010 would have been dismissed as a raving lunatic.

  36. 236
    Meow says:

    Has anyone got comments on , which estimates ice albedo feedback at 0.3 – 1.1 W m-2 K-1?

  37. 237
    Ray Ladbury says:

    First, any significant substitution of nukes or renewables is unlikely to occur in the short term for the simple fact that the infrastructure doesn’t exist and will take decades to build. Second, there are large portions of the planet–many showing among the most rapid economic growth–that do not have the technology to undertake such high-tech energy projects. Third, the demand for energy in India and China is for all practical purposes insatiable. China’s 500 billion dollar investment in nukes is a drop in the bucket. Fourth, nuclear fuels are also in finite supply. Finally, there is no good substitute for hydrocarbon fuels for transport. I would guess that we will continue to burn hydrocarbons until at the very least late in this century, and that we will probably piss away any oppportunity to develop a sustainable economy or address climate change.

  38. 238
    Taylor B says:

    Re: Doug’s question:

    I’m sure we could all do more, but here’s my insufficient contribution:
    1) Vegetarian 21+ years;
    2) Installed Solar PV and hot water in 2004;
    3) Heat pump for warmth;
    4) Tankless on-demand water heater for solar backup;
    5) Installed dual-pane windows and insulated the roof of 770 sq.ft. house that had no insulation when purchased;
    6) Total annual utilities cost approx. $150/year, half of which is for the grid connection; the rest is natural gas for cooking and zero for electricity;
    7) drive approx. 4K miles per year/ take public transit (light rail) to work 90% of days;
    8) All compact fluorescent bulbs in house and Energy-star rated major appliances;
    9) Cut water use to approx. 30 gallons per day (California uses about 30% of its energy moving water);
    10) Haven’t had any kids.

  39. 239
    Nick Gotts says:

    Taylor B,

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to include that we’ve been vegetarian a similar length of time (longer, in my wife’s case).

  40. 240
    David B. Benson says:

    ccpo @231 — The SI unit for temperature is Kelvin, abbreviated K. The derived unit is degrees Celcius. The abbreviation begins with a little elevated circle denoting degrees and then C:
    However, just the abbreviation C stands for kilocalorie, the usual unit for food energy.

  41. 241
    Anna Haynes says:

    I’m having trouble getting someone to accept Gavin’s answer of “somewhere between 80% and 120%”, to the Q “what percentage of global warming is due to human causes vs. natural causes?”, because it’s his considered judgment instead of coming from a published paper.

    Given its importance, why isn’t it – or something like it – in the literature? (or is it?)
    (& he’s not the only one to drag feet, on this)

  42. 242
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Anna Hayes #241. Of course it’s in the literature. Why ask for a soundbite from Dr. Schmidt when the science tells the story on its own?

  43. 243
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Sorry Anna spelled your surname wrong. Also, please note: I’m quoting wikipedia because it’s the top link, and it quotes its sources. There are many higher-definition graphs available from perfectly credible sources if you go looking for them. I have found that the best way to explain global warming and associated climate change is to get people to engage with the science on a personal level, rather than rely on the ‘scientists say’ canard.

  44. 244
    Hank Roberts says:

    Anna, I think it’s in the FAQ; have you looked? Look at the trend before human activity started (at the end of every ice age temperature leaps up then starts to go down slowly; reversing that gets you ‘more than 100 percent’).

  45. 245
    Taylor B says:

    Re: Anna,

    Chances are that the person you’re discussing this question with is unwilling to accept an answer with appropriate uncertainty intervals, and only wants you to give them an unreasonably precise answer in order to claim “gotcha.” In other words, chances are that the person you’re discussing this with is just trying to bait you into an argument that you can’t win, because they are not really interested in any answers you might give them. To save you from a lot of wasted effort and frustration, I’d recommend you refer them to one of the several resources at to read for themselves, e.g., “Start Here”, or maybe better, “RC Wiki”, which provides a summary of common denialist/”skeptic” arguments and why they are false.

    On another topic I brought up above, I’d like to provide some better information on the percentage of California’s energy consumption that is applied to water supply, treatment, and end-use:
    – According to data compiled in 2001 (admittedly old) by the California Energy Commission (Table 1-1 on p.8), 19% of electricity, 32% of natural gas, and 88 million gallons per year of diesel are consumed for water uses in California.
    – A report by the Pacific Institute and NRDC (2004) states, “according to an estimate from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the amount of electricity used to deliver water to residential customers in Southern California is equal to one-third of the total average household electric use in Southern California.”

  46. 246
    Taylor B says:

    Re: Anna
    Thanks to One Anonymous Bloke for a better response to your question than my previous one. Another good source for information on the sources of uncertainty in the attribution of climate change to human influence is Ben Santer’s recent testimony to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

  47. 247
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Taylor B,
    17 Jan 2011 at 11:06 PM

    From your last report I get the following quote:

    “The more than 60,000 water systems and 15,000 wastewater systems in the United States are among the country’s largest energy consumers, using about 75 billion kWh/yr nationally—3 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption. This demand is equivalent to the entire residential demand for the state of California and does not even include energy for what is called end use: the energy required to further treat, circulate, heat, or cool water at the consumer level.”

    That is a difference of an order of magnitude (3% vs 33%). I think the confusion is about the energy in end use, especially for heating the water to a comfortable temperature. This energy use dwarfs the energy needed to deliver the water in the home and for wastewater treatment.

  48. 248

    #183–Gavin’s inline:

    [Response: I just went back to your first comments here – and almost all of them were substantive. Yet recently, … not so much. Can we get the old Mack back? – gavin]

    Yeah, I noticed the same thing and would have the same wish.

  49. 249
    Donna says:

    I just read Anil Ananthaswamy’s article “Casting a critical eye on climate models” in New Scientist -seemed a reasonable article about where improvements are targetted for the climate models. But I tend to look for the positive out of lots of articles etc that someone else might see more issues.
    I thought it was weird that Judith Curry would get quoted as I doubt she is actually a climate model expert – hopefully when she was asked, she threw in a discclaimer that her area of expertise is not in the climate models. But her comments weren’t all that valuable to the article anyway. (not sure why she was even being included, maybe that false balance sort of thing)
    Wondering if others have read it and what they think?

  50. 250
    Taylor B says:

    Re: Anne van der Bom

    You’re right that the energy consumed to deliver water to users in most of the country is much less than the values cited for California. However, the 33% of total [household electrical] consumption cited in the Pacific Institute/NRDC report for Southern California is for “source and conveyance” only. The energy consumption is so high because

    “To convey water to Southern California from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, the [State Water Project] must pump it 2,000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains, the highest lift of any water system in the world. Pumping one acre-foot of SWP water to the region requires approximately 3,000 kWh. Southern California’s other major source of imported water is also energy intensive: pumping one acre-foot of Colorado River Aqueduct water to Southern California requires about 2,000 kWh.”

    The report also states that the SWP consumes 2-3% of the total electricity used in California, more in line with the national average. However, other California water agencies consume another 7% of California’s energy (prior to end use). You’re also right that the numbers in the CEC report include end uses and wastewater treatment, which account for even more than conveyance. The CEC report notes some difficulties in accounting for the energy use at all stages of the water use cycle, particularly by end users.