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“Vision Prize”, an online poll of scientists about climate risk

Filed under: — group @ 22 January 2012

A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University is trying to get a better understanding of the views of earth scientists regarding various climate change topics. They have set up an ongoing poll to do this, called Vision Prize. It’s a short (10 question) poll, covering topics like the rate of CO2 increase, predicted future temperatures, sea ice and sea level states, and hurricane frequencies. Early participants can designate a $20 donation from the group to a charity of their choice, upon completion. Please take a few minutes to help them out if qualified.


66 Responses to ““Vision Prize”, an online poll of scientists about climate risk”

  1. 1
    Edward Greisch says:

    Email address must end in .gov.

  2. 2
    L. Hamilton says:

    I had no trouble with my non-gov address.

  3. 3
    Jack Maloney says:

    “Help Frame Collective Thinking”

    This is a scientific approach?

  4. 4
    Radge Havers says:

    Jack Maloney @ 3

    “This is a scientific approach?”

    It’s a communications approach.

    Let me guess, some characters with poor reading comprehension will see the word ‘collective’ as ‘commie’ and the word ‘frame’ as ‘intellectual terrorism’ and use that to justify their ideological baloney, Jack.

  5. 5
    Jack Maloney says:

    Radge Havers @ 5

    A most revealing ad hom response. When climate science communicators start calling for help in “reframing collective thinking,” and saying that “openmindedness is the wrong approach” (Naomi Oreskes), it may be time to re-examine the science itself.

    [Response: Brilliant logic. Not only do you not know what ad hom means, but your response completely supports Haver's original comment. On top of that, apparently arguing that the radiative properties of CO2 are somehow tied to your mis-understanding of an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is delicious. Should gravity be questioned based on comments on NBC? The germ theory of disease because of a guest on the Today Show? Please try and do a little better. - gavin]

  6. 6
    Jack Maloney says:

    Gavin’s response @6

    Perhaps Wikipedia can help Gavin understand what ad hom means: ”Abusive ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to attack his claim.” Havers’ slurs (“poor reading comprehension” “ideological baloney” – this last a juvenile twist at my name) and mischaracterization of my comments are clearly abusive ad hominem attacks.

    The remainder of Gavin’s comment makes no sense at all, as I did not argue anything about “radiative properties of CO2″ nor draw any conclusions from Naomi Oreske’s op-ed piece. I only asked if the statements were good examples of climate science communication. It’s is amazing – and rather depressing – to see how an honest question draws such vitriolic responses at RealClimate.

    [Response: You also misunderstand the definition of the word 'vitriolic'. But really, either say something substantive and on topic or don't bother. - gavin]

  7. 7
    Charlie H says:

    re: SecularAnimist, #10,

    Is there a scorecard somewhere? It might be helpful to have a list of predictions or forecasts and some indication of how they turned out.

    [Response:Everyone: This is a very simple, news-type post; comments here should be strictly on topic. Please take all non-relevant conversations to the open thread. Previous off topic comments have been moved there. The management thanks you in advance.]

  8. 8
    Radge Havers says:

    The use of the word ‘collective’ here does illustrate a point about communication. That is: Don’t accidently blow other peoples’ dog whistles. I remember listening to Ray Bream on talk radio back in the 80′s as he trained his listeners on certain key words. In this case, he played a fairly innocuous audio clip of somebody saying something he didn’t like, and then he jumped on the word “struggle” as indicating that the speaker was a Communist; because (he said) it’s a word that all radical lefties always use when they’re up to nefarious plots.

    It helps to develop a sensitive ear for how others hear if you don’t want to make distracting noises. Choose your words like a poet. Just as in a visual artist’s training, critique sessions include some focus on weeding out the accidental associations that tend to crop up in the design process and that weaken the overall impact of content.

    [Response:I think your comment is right on. I was a little concerned with the wording in question as well--doesn't sound good. My bigger concern is with the assumptions and/or wording of some of the questions themselves however, which are either questionable or could lead to confusion. For example, why did they choose the year 2000, instead of a 19th century date, as the baseline against which to estimate the effects of doubled CO2--this could throw some people off--Jim]

    Anyway it just goes to show, there’s no upper limit in sight when it comes to the amount of milage that one can slyly troll out of intentional misinterpretations. And I just have to note, intentional hyperbolic misconstruing is itself not conducive to civility and is particularly ironic when used to complain about a little snark.

  9. 9
    KAP says:

    For those of us not in academe, but interested in the topic and knowledgeable of the relevant computations, would it be possible to post the 10 questions here? Or would that be jumping the gun?

  10. 10
    Peter Kriss says:

    The current list of questions can be found here.

    As for the general approach of the project, there are two main parts. The first is to assess the beliefs (and distribution of beliefs) of scientists and researchers on climate risks. The second is to find ways of effectively communicating this information in an understandable and usable way to policymakers and the public.

    Please feel free to send us your comments, criticisms and/or suggestions on how to improve the project.

    –Peter Kriss, Vision Prize Director of Research

    [Response: Peter. Thanks for stopping by RealClimate. I see you have changed the question about sea level a bit, perhaps in response to my comment, but the new version is also problematic. You have "What is the likelihood that global average sea level will rise more during this century than the current worst-case scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?" Perviously, this was give as '18 to 59 cm'. But these are not 'worst case scenarios. They are essentially best case scenarios, because the entirely the impact of dynamic ice sheet changes. The uncertainty is large but the sign is almost certainly positive. IPCC was very clear about this: they didn't feel at the time that they could quantify the high end because too little was (and is) know about the dynamic response of ice sheeets.

    You might say "....rise more than this century than the maximum end of the range given in the 2007 assessment Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (that is, 59 cm by centuries end, not account for ice sheet dynamics)."? Of course, that gets a little complicated. You could instead just say "...rise more than 50 cm" and leave it at that. --eric]

  11. 11
    jyyh says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the questions, though I’m pretty sure I will not be answering the questionnaire. I guess the registration is just for avoiding extreme reactions by denialists. Anyway, here’s one of my answers (and some are worse). I don’t think they’d serve any purpose wrt the policy discussions, specially because I’m not from North America.

    ” What will be the total number of major hurricane landfalls in the U.S. from 2011 to 2020? From 2041 to 2050?”

    Paradoxically the number will be smaller during the 2041-2050 since the subtropical high will be too strong over the south states making agriculture there near impossible. The storm tracks will be more northern than now and will be hitting the other side of the Atlantic regularly (Spain, Morocco,France). The Greenland meltwaters will guard the NW North America coasts from direct hits better than currently though the associated rains will be more severe likening the worst events seen today.

  12. 12
    Edward Greisch says:

    10 Peter Kriss: Now that I have seen the questions, I am less interested in answering many of them. Some questions may be for filtering on expertise. It seems to me that to provide guidance to the public about climate risks, you would ask questions about things that would affect the public, such as:
    When will Los Angelenos notice a water shortage?
    When will GW cause a global famine?
    Was the Russian drought of 2010 caused by GW?
    Was the Texas drought of 2011 caused by GW?
    When will GW get bad enough for 95% of US voters to believe in GW in spite of fossil fuel company propaganda to the contrary?

    2 L. Hamilton: Or you need an address that ends in.edu or something that shows that you are working, not retired.

    PS 10 Peter Kriss: As a CMU alum [BS physics 68] I was unable to log in to look up your email address. Something happened to my password at http://alumni.cmu.edu/s/1410/alumni/start.aspx again.

  13. 13
    sidd says:

    suggest that anyone registering with visionprize look carefully at

    http://visionprize.com/terms-of-use

    e.g.

    “7.2 …Provider also retains all applicable IP rights to any comments…”

    Even slashdot claims that comments are owned by the poster.

    Another illuminating link is

    http://visionprize.com/privacy

    “We may also share your information if we feel that disclosure is necessary to defend our rights.”

    Dear god, who writes this stuff ?

    sidd

  14. 14
    jyyh says:

    oops, the previous went in the wrong thread. Anyway…

    ” If and when CO2 concentration in the atmosphere reaches 550 ppm, what will be the increase in global average surface temperature relative to the year 2000?”
    * Is there some plans to melt GIS and WAIS, since ‘when’?
    [moved]

  15. 15
    KeithWoollard says:

    Really Eric, I think you are just trying to be difficult. IPCC says we think it will rise 18 – 59 except for the stuff we don’t understand. Any intelligent human being will accept that as a range, espicially when you are only asking people if they think it will be more than that or less. You are welcome to tick the box that says more, and that is the whole aim of the survey

    [Response:Actually, no, I’m trying to be precise. In fact, this is exactly the sort of problem that can make a good survey useless. The question said “IPCC’s worst case scenario”. IPCC was very clear that this was not a worst case scenario. If someone taking the survey thinks this is IPCC’s ‘worst case’, then you are inevitably going to shift the answers towards lower values than 59 cm, because of a natural reaction to be conservative. Many users of the poll will know that in fact this is not a worst case scenario, but many will either not know, or will not think about it at the time. See our write up on the IPCC numbers for sea level, here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/the-ipcc-sea-level-numbers/.

  16. 16
    KAP says:

    Thanks very much, Peter. FWIW, my non-professorial answers would be:
    1. An increase of 0.8°C.
    2. 2063
    3. +1.3°C.
    4. +1.0°C.
    5. 2017
    6. AR4′s highest seems about right to me. So I’d say 50%.
    7. 2011-2020: seven. 2041-2050: six.
    8. Of course. It’s not a technological problem.
    9. There would be almost as many winners as losers, so I’ll go with one to two percent.

  17. 17

    For my part, I don’t qualify to participate in the poll–but I did write in to suggest that they define ‘summer free of Arctic floating ice’ better. (One uses the “feedback” tab at the bottom of the Vision Prize poll page, linked above.)

    [Response: It really should also make it clear whether they mean perennially free or free one time (with no implications about the year after that).--eric]

  18. 18
    Dan H. says:

    KAP,
    A few comments on your answers.
    Regarding #1, is it your contention that natural factors have had zero effect on global temperatures?
    I find your answer to #5 to be extraordinarily soon. Why is that?
    I disagree with #8, in that it is largely a technology problem. Current technology cannot come close to generating the global energy requirements without emitting significant quantities of CO2. The same goes for the last answer. Without a suitable technological advancement, alternate energy production cannot be achieved without cost, which will have a greater affect on GDP.
    The rest of your answers are in the same ballpark as mine.

  19. 19
    Bryan Oakley says:

    I had no problem with a .edu address.
    The J/P Haiti Relief fund (and Climate Science) thanks you for posting the link!

  20. 20
    Hank Roberts says:

    It’s interesting to google the address and phone number supplied on the Terms of Use page, and also Peter Kriss’s name plus “climate change”

    This seems to misunderstand the climate system lag time:
    “If and when CO2 concentration in the atmosphere reaches 550 ppm, what will be the increase in global average surface temperature relative to the year 2000?”

    This seems to miss the concept of overshoot:
    “What portion of annual global economic growth would need to be sacrificed to keep CO2 concentration in the atmosphere from exceeding 550 ppm?”
    Which “annual” number are you apportioning? I think of this as an investment, not a sacrifice.

    But I’m not an academic, just curious.

  21. 21
    Anteros says:

    My hackles were slightly raised by the word ‘risk’ in the title, which rather poignantly reinforces the comment by Radge Havers @8.
    My concern was that climate scientists were being asked for their [expert, presumably] judgement on ‘risk’, implying negative/positive impacts etc – things which I don’t think are necessarily (and certainly not exclusively) the domain of climatologists.

    The poll, though, concerns itself with something quite different – to my relief. It appears well-thought out and I’m quite intrigued to see the results.

    My expectation, however still leaves me with the observation that the poll trails a whole slew of assumptions that are not spelled out, that aren’t particularly the concern of climate science and which, to my mind, are very much to be debated. For instance the notion that 2 degrees of warming will be ‘dangerous’ in some vague fear-inducing way. I was greatly interested in Richard Betts comments on the subject recently. He said that he (and the majority of climate scientists) don’t subscribe to that ‘dangerous’ meme. This was partly because ‘dangerous’ is a value judgement and something science isn’t especially qualified to pronounce upon.

    But, as I say, the demarcation in the poll is admirable, and I hope the participation is widespread.

  22. 22
    Hank Roberts says:

    > KeithWoollard says: … Eric, … trying to be difficult. IPCC says we
    > think it will rise 18 – 59 except for the stuff we don’t understand.

    Keith Woollard, you miss the point the IPCC was making. None of the stuff we don’t understand will reduce sea level; thus that range is better than the best case estimate — the best case will be “more than that amount, by some unknown amount.”

  23. 23
    Ray Ladbury says:

    My own non-expert answers:
    1.Increase of ~0.8 degrees C
    2.~2065
    3.~2 degrees higher (remember warming in the pipeline)
    4.~1.8 degrees higher
    5. 2034
    6. >70%
    7. 2011-2020: 20-30; 2040-2050: 20-30
    8.No
    9.0%. In fact, I think we could see additional growth over the long haul as energy prices stabilize and new technology spreads into the broader economy. Over the past half century, I think fossil fuels have become a source of complacency rather than a stimulus for growth.

    [Response:Questions 3 and 4 only specify a certain time point, and thus appear (to me) to be asking for the transient, not equilibrium, temperature changes. This is another example of what Eric is talking about regarding imprecision of wording; it's not trivial becuase it's really going to affect the answers they get.--Jim]

  24. 24
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Keith Woollard @ 15 “IPCC says we think it will rise 18 – 59 except for the stuff we don’t understand.”

    What the IPCC report said was a good deal more explicit that that [edit: easy]

    18 – 59 cm is not much more than what’s expected from thermal expansion, as the report explicitly excluded ALL of the changes in ice dynamics that have been observed since even before the cut-off for inclusion in the report.

  25. 25
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim, Agreed, and depending on what one thinks will happen with methane and what one thinks the time to equilibrium might be–the answer could actually higher or lower than the ultimate equilibrium temperature.

  26. 26
    L Hamilton says:

    Looks like a Delphi-type instrument? It should be interesting to see whether the average of everyone’s answers, many of which call for WAG techniques, will resemble model results or something gloomier.

    In any event, the $20 donation card I got for filling it out just went to our local animal shelter, which made things oddly more fun.

  27. 27
    Hank Roberts says:

    Usually this kind of survey is validated on a small sample before being given to the target population; perhaps this is still at a validation step?

    Using an investment adviser’s website rather than an academic website seems odd since the lead author is a PhD candidate at CMU. Clarifying whether this is an academic poll or a business data collection might help.

    Sidd questions the terms, which seem unusual for academic work (can anyone with recent academic experience comment on those?

    This seems typical of commercial data collection:

    “Vision Prize safeguards your privacy and will never sell your information to a third party.” http://www.visionprize.com/faq
    but
    “Notwithstanding the above, in the case where we merge, sell Vision Prize, or otherwise transfer operational control of Vision Prize to a new owner, whether we do so directly or indirectly, you hereby authorize us to transfer all information collected about you …’
    http://visionprize.com/privacy Revised: October 10, 2011

  28. 28
    Anteros says:

    Are the RealClimate contributors planning to share their thoughts on the poll questions?

    I think it would make for an interesting topic – on a number of levels of seriousness – and could provoke in intra-team discussion on the differences of opinion.

    Of course, the most extreme projections (at either end) would be obliged to make their case versus the other extreme.

    A debate, and then a vote for the most scientifically convincing?

  29. 29
    Hank Roberts says:

    hm, anybody able to see this link? It’s apparently using an iframe
    “Vision Prize builds on a long history of innovation in scientific opinion polling, and is affiliated with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.”

    This says the research has CMU’s approval
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/349530/headshots.friends2.irb.jpg
    Is this where that would be found?
    http://www.cmu.edu/osp/regulatory-compliance/human-subjects.html

    http://www.visionprize.com/faq
    “The project team declare no competing financial interests.”
    So, who owns whatever it is that could be resold? A bit confusing.

  30. 30
    Ric Merritt says:

    Not a bad idea to poll a target audience with some confirmed expertise, but many of the questions are annoyingly imprecise and obtuse, missing opportunities to draw out useful responses.

    I notice that it took me, an amateur with no professional qualifications directly related to climate science, only moments to independently identify multiple weaknesses in the questions, the same weaknesses that other commenters have pointed out. So, thanks for the education, RealClimate.

  31. 31
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Most people would have no idea of the numerical answers and those who do are likely to find the questions ill posed. I don’t know if Peter Kriss cares about any quantitative answers; it may be some sort of attitude check – and these particular questions don’t do much for mine ;). I’m in the “people who know enough to answer the questions may find them ill posed” group.

    2. If policies stay the same when will CO2 get to 550? Since the rate of CO2 increase is itself increasing, sooner than you think, but unknown.

    “If policies stay the same” is a defect with the questions, but I’ll take advantage of it. On the one hand, to make any quantitative prediction a specific emissions scenario is needed. Otherwise all we have is an unknown acceleration in the growth of CO2. But I think there is another serious assumption within the “if policies remain the same” questions. To make numeric projections on that basis, one implicitly assumes that only an intentional top-down policy decision can make a difference in Big Carbon’s dreams. Friends, can you think of ways in which that might not be the case?



    # 3 and 4. Given a carbon burning free-for-all, who knows what the transient response will be in a particular year? Perhaps an influx of meltwater will bring surface temps down for a year or two.
    These questions reinforce the bad idea that the global average surface temperature as such is what we have to worry about.
    Edward Greisch @ 12 is right: we need better questions, not just better posed ones.

    5. We are on track to be “virtually ice free” (below 1 million km**2) at the end of the melt season sometime before 2020, which is not to say that it happens every year after that.

    6. Question refers to a non-existent datum. The conservative estimate now is 1 meter, but with an unimpeded carbondammerung it would be more.

    7. Number of “major” hurricanes in a particular decade? beats me. An odd one hit Alaska this fall. For human purposes, let’s think about the word “major”. It should refer to the damage done, not simply wind speed. With increasing atmospheric moisture content (away from arid areas, also increasing) and the increasing tendency to bunched precipitation, mere tropical storms and depressions are ever more dangerous.

    8. Yes.

    9. The most pernicious question. What wonderful economic growth (concentration of wealth) would have to be sacrificed to do anything besides burn carbon burn?

    What is the track record of industries crying “it would cost us something” and it turning out to be a benefit to society? How will a massive jobs and research program hurt the economy? And finally,

    All those who want to be there when we persist in carbon dependence right up to the day when climate disruption and resource wars stop us, raise your hands.

  32. 32
    flxible says:

    Most people would have no idea of the numerical answers and those who do are likely to find the questions ill posed. I don’t know if Peter Kriss cares about any quantitative answers; it may be some sort of attitude check – and these particular questions don’t do much for mine ;). I’m in the “people who know enough to answer the questions may find them ill posed” group.

    Exactly, the questions are typical psychology survey questions best answered “yes” “no” “maybe” and “sooner than you think”, especially when they’re headed “give us your best guess.

    Is the result of this expected to sway any legislators opinion??

  33. 33
    KAP says:

    @Dan H, #18:
    1. Since 1760 (250 years), the natural effects net pretty close to zero. The total temp rise since then is probably in the 0.9° range, I’m allowing a bit of natural (solar) from then till now.
    2. I live on a lake in Minnesota, and I see the ice melt every year. That’s why I find “extent” to be a hugely non-useful metric when discussing ice melt. (It is useful for albedo purposes, but not much else). The fact is, ice melts from below much more rapidly that from the edges. The most relevant metric is volume, not extent. And when you look at the PIOMAS volume data for September, you will find that (a) it’s going down rapidly; and (b) the quadratic fit is much more significant than the linear fit. Do a simple extrapolation and you get 2016-ish. I’m allowing a year for natural variability.
    3. Current technology includes nuclear fission, which is more than capable of dealing with global energy needs, and at costs lower than fossil — IF it were only deployed. The barrier is not technological, it’s political.

  34. 34
    Dan H. says:

    Thanks KAP,
    I guess I missed the 250 years. Must have my mind tuned to 130. I think the temperature has gone up a bit more than that since 1760, but we do not have the data to show it with that amount of precision.
    I know many people are touting the PIOMAS data, but the sea ice minimum area is still more than half what it was 30 years ago. In open water, area and volume tend to go hand in hand. Add to that, the melting ice has occurred largely in the warmer part of the ocean. Hence, I did not feel that it would occur before 2050.
    While fission could replace current electrical production under the appropriate political scenario, that still leaves heating and transportation needs. Converting everything to electricity with take time and money.

  35. 35
    KeithWoollard says:

    Hank at 22, from AR4:-
    They include a contribution from increased Greenland and Antarctic ice flow at the rates observed for 1993-2003, but this could increase or decrease in the future

  36. 36
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Greenland and Antarctic ice flow at the rates observed for 1993-2003
    > … could … decrease in the future
    How?

  37. 37
    Ray Ladbury says:

    KAP, so what kind of mileage do you get with your nuclear car? Do you measure it in miles per Curie or miles per cancer?

  38. 38
    Peter Kriss says:

    First of all, we very much appreciate all of your feedback.

    The poll will be repeated periodically and we will continue to refine and add questions. We do have a feedback forum set up for discussion about the questions and other issues. As for the cases where we need to correct or clarify a question during the poll, we will describe the change on the feedback forum. Before the poll closes we will notify the participants by email of any changes made and remind them that they can revise their answers (which they may do at any time prior to the poll closing).

    We are aware that the level of uncertainty may vary dramatically from question to question. Of particular interest to us is understanding the distribution of experts’ beliefs and beliefs about that distribution. We are trying to include questions that are specific enough to be useful to policy makers, vivid enough to be compelling to a broad non-scientific audience (like those suggested by Edward Greisch, 12), and lie within the domain of climate science (as Anteros, 21 points out). We hope to accomplish this, if not within a single question, at least with the breadth of questions.

    To address Hank Roberts (27, 29):

    Our mission is civic-oriented in that we want to help aggregate and disseminate scientific knowledge in a way that can be used to improve policy. Results of the poll will be published on the Vision Prize web site. Anyone is free to copy, distribute, and transmit the polling data, with attribution. Because this mission extends beyond academic research and could therefore generate intellectual property (e.g. the backend software that runs the site), Vision Prize is structured as an independent research partnership.

    That said, because of my Carnegie Mellon affiliation, the involvement of human participants, and the fact that we expect the data to be used in academic research, I am accountable to the Carnegie Mellon Institutional Review Board as a researcher. As such, we have obtained the necessary approval. By “no competing financial interests” we mean that we have no stake in the particular outcome of the research (e.g. we haven’t been hired by Exxon or Greenpeace). The research program is strictly non-partisan and we are not an advocacy organization.

    To address sidd (13):

    Section 7.2 of the Terms of Use gives us the right to make use of suggestions participants submit directly to us (e.g. for new questions or features). We are not a user-generated content site, so we won’t have the same kind of comments that Slashdot has. The section of the privacy policy to which you refer is very standard and gives us the right to use information about users in the unlikely event that we need to defend ourselves in court.

    I hope this addresses most of the concerns raised. For all of you that are willing to help us improve the poll, we welcome you to the feedback page. And please feel free to contact me at pkriss AT visionprize.com.

    – Peter Kriss, Vision Prize Director of Research

  39. 39
    Jim Eager says:

    KeithWoollard @ 35, melt contribution from Greenland and Antarctic ice flow has already increased since 2003, moreover, it was already known to have increased before the publication of AR4, which is exactly why the caveats were included. We’ve been through this before. Repeatedly.

  40. 40
    Aaron Lewis says:

    If they ask tightly defined questions, they should get the values reported in the literature. Asking less defined questions should give insight into “experts” gut feelings. This one poll may not provide answers, but it may help frame better questions.

  41. 41

    #34–

    “In open water, area and volume tend to go hand in hand.”

    Huh? What does that even mean? When both extent and ice thickness are shrinking, how can you ignore the latter? And in considering heat melting Arctic sea ice (whether the heat is advected in, or generated in situ via insolation), is there any reason to conceptualize the process in terms of 2 dimensions rather than 3?

    “Add to that, the melting ice has occurred largely in the warmer part of the ocean.”

    Well, where else would it occur first?

    “Hence, I did not feel that it would occur before 2050.”

    This follows how, exactly–? You’re entitled to your feelings, of course, but I struggle to relate your feeling about SIE trajectory to the first two statements in any substantive way.

  42. 42
    Edward Greisch says:

    37 Ray Ladbury: That was un-called-for and off-topic. Cancer more likely comes from benzene and benzene comes from petroleum and coal. Cars cannot have nuclear power plants. Present and past spacecraft sub-critical nuclear batteries produce far too little power. We would never put such a thing in the hands of the public even though we let them have gasoline. Benzene is no longer available at the hardware store. Benzene was available to the public in the 1920s. Now, benzene is released into the air at refineries.
    Cars are not climate science.

  43. 43
    KAP says:

    @Ray Ladbury #37: Believe it or not, electric cars not only are possible, but some are on the road today. Ships can run on nuclear power directly. Heating can be done with heat pumps (electric powered) or direct resistance heating. The only major gap is in air transport, but even there bio jet fuel has been successfully tested. Air amounts to < 20% of the transportation sector in any case.

    Regarding radiation and cancer, [edit - not here]

  44. 44
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Edward, my objection was to the flippant and irresponsible contention that there is a simple solution to our energy needs. There isn’t. And at the current rate of progress, there won’t be.

  45. 45
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    Look at this graph of sea ice area over the past 33 years. This extrapolates out to zero sea ice past 2050.
    I am not ignoring anything, but using the data available.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.area.arctic.png

  46. 46
    Hank Roberts says:

    > feedback forum
    I looked — it offered to sign me up for a 30-day free trial of a commenting system with a fancy disclosure, lots of boilerplate; didn’t seem worth signing.

    For Peter Kriss, have you heard from climate scientists who have published surveys or critiqued those published to date?

  47. 47
    Craig Nazor says:

    Dan@45,

    Are you taking that one graph, and then without taking into account any other scientific research as to why the Arctic sea ice decline is happening, making a linear interpolation of that decline to come up with a “prediction”?

    The credible scientific studies I can find indicate that the observed Arctic sea ice decline has accellerated in recent years, which would make a linear interpolation a really lousey estimate with which to predict the future.

  48. 48

    #45–Dan, my point wasn’t that 2050 is totally unreasonable. It’s conservative; most modelers, last I heard, were expecting zero sometime in the 2030s, and famously Dr. Maslowski’s model gives 2016 +/- 3, where ‘ice-free’ means less than 1 million km2 at minimum. But it’s not crazy.

    My comment was a series of questions about your justifications, which didn’t (and to me, don’t) make sense. OK, I probably got carried away with the leading questions suggesting that *volume* is the significant parameter.

    But it very probably is. And you still haven’t addressed that; extrapolation of area obviously still ignores the decreasing ice thickness and hence, volume.

    Interesting to note that if you take the PIOMAS numbers and extrapolate them out, you arrive at zero just about when Dr. Maslowski had projected.

  49. 49
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Ray @ 44 (No simple solution) – I don’t know about simple, but do do you dismiss Mark Jacobson for example?

  50. 50
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    “In open water, area and volume tend to go hand in hand.”

    Check your notes. Look for “multiyear ice”.


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