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Unforced variations: April 2012

Filed under: — group @ 2 April 2012

This month’s open thread – a day late for obvious reasons… Have at it.

236 Responses to “Unforced variations: April 2012”

  1. 101
    flxible says:

    “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief ….”
    Invoking the ‘Oregon petition’? BS, pure and quite wet.

  2. 102
    ThePowerofX says:

    For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

    I’d like to see SkS pull on that thread.

  3. 103
    flxible says:

    Schmitt @ DeSmog blog and at Source Watch . . . . Cunningham @ Source Watch and on Wikipedia . . . not great recommendations.

  4. 104
    J Bowers says:

    “Invoking the ‘Oregon petition’?”

    Oh good, an opportunity to mention notable signatories including Ginger Spice (twice), the doctors from M*A*S*H, and dead people.

  5. 105
    Hank Roberts says:

    “How 50-year-old carbon emissions came back to ravage Northwest shellfish, how scientists and hatcheries unraveled the mystery of acid upwellings, and how a clam farmer persuaded Gov. Gregoire and the Obama administration to take action, with a little help from Ron Sims.”

    “… The scientists explained what they’d uncovered about a threat that is both oceanic in scale and uniquely regional in character, which threatens the Northwest’s cherished shellfish industry in the short run and the survival of the marine biosphere and all the terrestrial life that depends on it in the longer run.

    “Okay, you’ve laid out the problem,” exclaimed Sims, the former King County executive, who’d washed up back in Seattle after a stint in D.C. and resurfaced as a marine environmental statesman. “Now tell me what we can do!” Boil it down, he pled in his most plaintive preacher tones. Cut the fancy explanations and give us political and policy types concrete steps we can take to correct it.

    Last Friday, an answer arrived. A who’s who of state, federal, tribal, commercial, and scientific actors (and Ron Sims) gathered to begin hashing out a defense against an emerging threat most Americans probably haven’t even heard of: global warming’s evil twin, ocean acidification, OA for short. Gov. Chris Gregoire had chartered a new Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification to sift a flood of new scientific data and real-world experience and distill a suite of concrete policy recommendations for surviving, mitigating, and preventing acidification….”

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    And for those who want to react without reading the full article linked above, a bit more from further down the page:

    “… In recent years, scientists from UW, Oregon State University, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have shown that the upwelled waters off the Pacific Coast have grown increasingly acidic (or decreasingly alkaline, another way of saying the same thing, since both are relative terms for the same pH scale we all learned about in school). The reason, it seems: The ocean’s rhythms are such that it takes about 50 years for carbon dioxide absorbed from the air to circulate through the deep and well back up to the surface.

    Fifty years ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations had already risen around 15 percent from preindustrial levels, thanks to fossil-fuel burning and other human activities. Sunlight-blocking air pollutants — remember the haze over cities in those days? — forestalled the warming effect, but as that pollution gets cleaned up, the greenhouse effect ramps up. Atmospheric CO2 has since risen another 15 to 20 percent, foretelling even sourer upwellings in decades to come. As Oregon State oceanographer Burke Hales, one of the researchers who uncovered the acidifying upwellings, says, “We’ve mailed ourselves a package, and it’s hard to call off delivery.”

    Meanwhile, something very strange and very scary has been unfolding at the Northwest’s shellfish farms and hatcheries….”


  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    and more:

    “… UW marine scientist Terrie Klinger noted at last week’s session, “the current rate of change has not been seen in at least 300 million years, since the dawn of the fishes.” And as in atmospheric warming, it’s the pace of change that overwhelms organisms’ and natural systems’ ability to adapt. Not to mention human systems’. Fish, too, are vulnerable to dropping pH; they don’t melt away like oyster larvae, but they grow less and die sooner. Sayonara, salmon.

    Stopping acidification will require the same simple, devilishly difficult measure as limiting greenhouse warming: rolling back carbon emissions, and then waiting a century or two for those already released to work their way through the upwelling cycle. But while upwellings are the largest source of coastal acidification (contributing an estimated 60 to 75 percent at various spots on the Pacific Coast), they aren’t the only source. The growth and decomposition of plankton and seaweed contribute about 20 percent in Puget Sound and up to 26 percent along the Washington Coast.

    They’re also the main source along the Eastern seaboard, where upwellings aren’t a factor but shellfish growers are starting to suffer dieoffs. After unlocking the mystery at Whiskey Creek, Alan Barton decided to get as far from acidic upwellings as he could. He returned to North Carolina and started an oyster hatchery. Bad timing: pH started dropping, and larvae started dying….”


  8. 108

    #92–“the notion that humanity will “terraform” the Earth, creating some sort of “brave new biosphere” out of the ruined, biologically impoverished wastelands and acidic oceans of a globally-warmed planet, is simply insane.”

    SA, I didn’t get any such picture from Jim’s original remarks–FWIW. My impression was rather more of conservation professionals desperately trying to save what they could by deploying the ecological equivalents of duct tape and baling wire.

    #98–David, thanks and welcome.

  9. 109

    Well, Colonel Cunningham’s grasp of the history of climate science/politics is quite deficient, according to some of his past writings, at least. A specific comment/correction to that portion of his ideology here:

  10. 110
    Charles says:

    Stephan, like Gavin, I fully support the right of those who wrote that letter to do so. But they might gain a bit more traction if they backed up their claims. To wit:

    “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.”

    Show us where NASA or GISS says CO2 “is having a catastrophic impact” on global climate change. Show us that there is no evidence of increased levels of CO2 not impacting global climate. Show us the “thousands of years of empirical data” that back up your claims here.

    “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts …”

    And from where do you glean these hundreds of well-known climate scientists and thousands of other scientists? Show us your data.

    “…coming particularly from the GISS leadership.”

    Show us these catastrophic forecasts coming from GISS and show us how all these scientists are expressing concern about the GISS data and forecasts.

    “The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”

    The term “unbridled advocacy” is an interesting phrase. Hard to objectively measure that. What I observe from NASA’s climate scientists is what I observe from other climate scientists around the world: they do the research and the data chips fall where they fall. When a lot of the chips fall in the same place and the theoretical and empirical work is found to have been sound, should we be that surprised?

    If you have a better model and the data to support it, let’s see evidence. Thus far, I have yet to see those who are skeptical of the consensus models and evidence come up with models and the data to support them that are either valid or reliable; to boot, there is very little consensus among the skeptics!

    “… we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position …”

    You mean what *you/they* interpret as an extreme position.

    “… prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate.”

    Oh, please. This is silly and suggests an ignorance of decades of published research on climate and the influence of “natural climate drivers.”

    “We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject.”

    I would suggest that the claims made on NASA’s website have plenty of empirical support.

    “At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”

    More silliness. Talk about overstating the case! This sentence alone suggests the letter was penned by those who have little expertise in the subject. This claim becomes even sillier when one considers that just about every scientific body on the planet supports the consensus view to which NASA climate research has contributed.

    “… contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham.”

    Huh? For expertise in climate science, Mr. Bolden is supposed to contact astronauts and engineers? Rather like asking him to contact Gavin or James Hansen for expertise on astronautics. I saw brief statements in the media from four of these former astronauts. I’d like to see them defend the claims they make with evidence from the peer reviewed literature.

    Sorry, but from where I sit this letter, signed by these 49 former NASA engineers and astronauts, is sadly embarrassing.

  11. 111
  12. 112
    Jim Larsen says:

    92 SA, ten years to not just replace essentially everything but also draw down CO2? I dunno. Here’s an article suggesting that 20-50 years is doable.

    Of course, even your scenario might leave us with carbon feedbacks that drive temperatures high enough to kill off most species. Busy beetles in the taiga, failing rains in the Amazon, and melting permafrost and clathrates could combine to spike GHGs over the next few decades. You claim that trying to save doomed species by helping them migrate is “insane”. I assume delayed migrations, such as provided by seed vaults, tissue samples, zoos, and aquariums are even worse in your mind. Could you explain why we should watch passively as the biosphere implodes should your plan result in massive extinction? If 90% of species are destined to go extinct under your plan, wouldn’t actions to reduce that to 89% be a good thing?

    Your use of the phrase “brave new biosphere” indicates you don’t care to understand what I’m talking about. It’s triage, not a lark. To use your words, “we would like to save at least some of what remains of the rich, diverse, resilient, unimaginably complex and beautiful and creative Holocene biosphere from being utterly rubbed out by an anthropogenic catastrophe.”

  13. 113
    Marco says:

    Gavin, why not propose a seminar at NASA where those that signed the letter can come and provide you the evidence they have?

    I think you will get a lot of crickets when you propose such a seminar; and if not, there’s a good chance you will show them for what they are: spluttering ideologues, who claim you ignore evidence, but cannot provide said evidence.

    Do make sure they define “catastrophic” first, or they’ll have plausible deniability (e.g., they may consider a 1 meter sea level rise, requiring millions of people to move, as “not catastrophic”).

  14. 114
    wili says:

    hank, thanks for the article. I would assume that this new increase in surface acidity will mean that the oceans will be less able to absorb atmospheric CO2. Would that assumption be flawed?

  15. 115
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “You claim that trying to save doomed species by helping them migrate is ‘insane’.”

    Yes, it is insane, because it’s a fantasy. We have absolutely no idea how to do such a thing. Just to start with, where are we going to “help” these “doomed species” migrate TO?

    To whatever entirely different ecosystems may happen to not yet be degraded? In which context they may become alien invasive species that further degrade and destabilize the ecosystems to which we have transplanted them?

    There is a reason that trying to protect even ONE endangered species, such as the spotted owl, requires placing very large areas of its habitat off-limits to logging: without that vast range of habitat, that species does not exist.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “I assume delayed migrations, such as provided by seed vaults, tissue samples, zoos, and aquariums are even worse in your mind.”

    It’s “worse” in the sense of being even more delusional.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “even your scenario might leave us with carbon feedbacks that drive temperatures high enough to kill off most species”

    True. For all I know, such feedbacks may already have started, and may already be unstoppable and irreversible, and a global ecological collapse may already be unpreventable even if we stopped all GHG emissions tomorrow.

    And if that’s the case, keeping a few sickly polar bears in a zoo isn’t going to prevent the vast ecosystems of the Arctic from disappearing, and keeping some freeze-dried tree frog DNA in a jar isn’t going to keep the unimaginably rich life of the Amazon from disappearing.

    Jim Larsen wrote: “ten years to not just replace essentially everything but also draw down CO2? I dunno.”

    I said within 10 years we could start to draw down the excess CO2 by sequestering it in the biosphere with reforestation and organic agriculture. How long it would take to get us back to 350 ppm, and how long it would take for that reduction to begin reversing the dangerous warming that has already occurred, I don’t know.

    Replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable energy is actually easy — technologically and economically — IF we decide to do it with the serious effort that is needed.

    What we are doing now is as though after Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt had said that we needed a 20-year plan to convert the automobile factories to making tanks and planes, based on market incentives that would encourage the automobile manufacturers to gradually shift in that direction, so that hopefully within a couple of decades we’d be in a position to respond to the Japanese attack. But of course any such plan would be contingent on the auto manufacturers’ lobbyists allowing Congress to pass the bill.

    Instead, Roosevelt summoned the CEOs of the auto manufacturers to the White House and told them, “Gentlemen, there isn’t going to be any 1942 model year for Detroit. And you aren’t going to build any more cars for the duration. Starting tomorrow you don’t build cars — you build tanks and planes.”

  16. 116
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I would assume …. Would that assumption be flawed?

    I would assume so.

  17. 117
  18. 118
    Ron R. says:

    SecularAnimist — @ 3:27 PM The last two paragraphs.

    Well said!

    I think what’s so frustrating is that we know this downward spiral is not inevitable. All we need is the will and we could probably do it or at least make a big dent in our ecological problems. We haven’t really even tried, not on a collective national or global scale, e.g. clean alternative energies. Diverting money from the war machine to them for a couple of years would be a big step. Not likey though. Having a national discussion about overpopulation and limited resources starting with the presidents of first world countries on down to the classroom could wake people up to the issue. Again, not likely. Too controversial, and the economic growthers wouldn’t like it.

    The opposition continues to paint our choices as either their lameo, self-enriching “solutions” or the end of the world. And we as a people continue to buy it.

  19. 119

    #115, #118–And yet assisted migration is not only being actively considered and debated–it is a controversial notion, for good reasons, some of which have been stated in the comments I just cited–it has already begun to be practiced:

    (This last, contrary to the claim in the Wikipedia piece, details what may be the first-ever assisted migrations in adaptation to climate change.)

    So, whether it is or is not a good idea, assisted migration is clearly more than a ‘fantasy.’

    And just to be clear about my attitude, I find it another very disquieting straw in the wind. It’s very much against the grain for biologists and ecologists, who have had their noses rubbed in the dangers of invasive exotic species for a couple of generations at least. Yet here they are, debating this desperation tactic quite seriously, and even implementing it.

  20. 120
    wili says:

    Hank, thanks again for another informative link. I probably missed it, but I didn’t see a clear answer from it to my question. (And your snarky answer was clever and humorous but not very helpful.)

    As the oceans get more and more acidic from absorbed CO2, at some point it must become so saturated that its ability to absorb more CO2 will first become limited, then vanish altogether. Since the oceans have been absorbing about half of our CO2, iirc, I must assume that this will eventually double the amount of new CO2 that stays in the atmosphere.

    Anything that hastens that day would seem to be seriously troubling. Am I missing something?

  21. 121

    #120 and previous–

    Wili, I think the situation is more complicated than to allow for a simple answer to your initial question. Related thoughts that occur to me (disclaiming, as usual, any real expertise):

    –The reported upwellings are local/regional scale, so on the face of it should not be assumed to have a strong direct effect on a global property. Of course, it’s quite possible that ‘upwelled waters’ are more acidic elsewhere, also, but to understand the magnitude of the effect on CO2 absorption, you–well, not you and not me either, but someone–would need to do a lot more work.

    –In general, as I understand it, the problem of ocean acidification is not so much one of the total buffering capacity of the oceans, which is very large compared to the size of the atmospheric carbon reservoir, but of the turnover time of the surface waters, which are the ones that interact with the atmosphere on shorter time scales. That was the crucial question in 1958 for decided whether humans could really ‘carbonize’ the atmosphere: if turnover times were short, the oceans could absorb whatever we could emit, but if not, then CO2 would be sticking around in the atmosphere for quite a while. Bolin and Eriksson showed that it was the latter:

    (Note that you can link to the original paper from the summary essay, if you wish.)

    Acidification is (I think it is fair to say) another facet of the same chemistry and oceanographic dynamic.

    –In terms of prognosticating the future acidification, you must account not only for the chemistry of the ocean water, but also its temperature, and the partial pressure of CO2 in the air. If we keep adding CO2 to the air, we will keep acidifying the ocean for quite a while, despite ‘sourer’ waters. On the other hand, as global temperatures rise, the capacity of seawater to dissolve and hold CO2 decreases. Warm the oceans enough, and they will actually start to outgas CO2, rather as observed in a warming glass of soda. Then we are in big, big trouble–though my seat-of-the-pants guess is that we’ll already be in big trouble before that because of increasing biological and geochemical fluxes of GHGs.

    And actually, I think we’re in trouble now: although it has not been rigorously demonstrated to my knowledge, it seems likely to me–again, seat-of-the-pants–that Arctic amplification is currently causing some amount of ‘feedback’ warming on a global scale. Certainly, Francis and Vavrus present some pretty good evidence that it’s affecting hemispheric circulation:

    Well, semi-informed thoughts. Hope that’s helpful…

  22. 122
    Ray Ladbury says:

    It’s not quite so simple. The absorption of CO2 by the oceans is a complicated process. To first order, absorption will “saturate” when the chemical potential equalizes between the atmosphere and the water at the interface. However, if we further raise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, that raises the chemical potential, and so the oceans will absorb more to equalize it.

    Note that this is a purely 2-dimensional look at the problem. In reality, surface water is continually mixing with subsurface water down to at least 100 m or so, and CO2 rich water will tend to be denser than CO2 poor water of the same salinity and temperature. This means that it is not merely an issue of solubility, but also of ocean/atmosphere dynamics.

    Short answer: It’s complicated.

  23. 123
    flxible says:

    “Assisted migration” . . . like with cats and dogs and farm animals?
    In all the history of the planet, the single most “invasive” species is Homo Sap. Regardless of whether that species is technically capable of modifying it’s current unsustainable lifestyle, the cancerous characteristics it’s demonstrated for all of it’s history preclude any likelihood of anything short of massive population reduction having any efficacy. There’s no place left to “migrate”.
    We’ve “terra-formed” ourselves right out of a future. :(

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    wili says: … I didn’t see a clear answer

    Precisely correct. The article is about what’s needed to reach an answer.

  25. 125
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Wili:

    Science 2 March 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6072 pp. 1058-1063
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1208277
    The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification

    “… today’s rate of acidification is 10 times that of the most comparable surge in atmospheric carbon in the last 300 million years, Barbel Honisch, a scientist involved in the study, tentatively estimates.

    Scientists cannot and need not be definitive about exactly what will happen and when all over the earth. As ever with climate change, there is a range of risks involving mind-bogglingly complex planetary systems that scientists can attempt to anticipate, and probably many they have not considered. The point is there are enough dangers of such magnitude and probability that humans should invest in reasonable policies to avoid them.”

  26. 126
    Hank Roberts says:

    (PS for Wili — the Science article is paywalled, of course).
    Note there’s an item in Corrections and Clarifications Science 16 March 2012: 1302.DOI:10.1126/science.335.6074.1302-b

    I do wonder how bad the news has to get before the publishers of Science, Nature etc. decide to make it free and urge voters to read.

  27. 127
    Charlie H says:

    #126, Hank Roberts,

    Would that really help? There’s already plenty of good, authoritative, approachable stuff out there to read, there’s just few people willing to read it. Op-eds from ex-astronauts are more comforting.

    For the matter of that, the IPCC report isn’t difficult to read, accessible for free to anyone with internet access and, as far as I can tell, it’s fairly comprehensive.

    I had to click the reCAPTCHA recycle button three times before I got something I could read. Is reCAPTCHA set on “extra-strength?”

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    > IPCC Report

    It’s a summary every five years or so; reviews like that in Science on ocean acidification bring readers up to date. Scholar searches often reward, though in this case I found an older text without supplements and corrections: ; it
    mentions both “acidification (and deoxygenation) events” of concern.

    Kevin McKinney and Ray Ladbury gave excellent pointers above to more.

    > reCaptcha difficulty
    I’d guess we see what OCR couldn’t interpret, not pre-screened other than by failing OCR. Presuming the OCR improves steadily, the samples presented will get correspondingly tougher. (See the “?” for their info–in each pair, one item is a repeat, the other is new.)

  29. 129

    #123–““Assisted migration” . . . like with cats and dogs and farm animals?”

    No, not quite like that–this version is intended for the good of the ‘migrated,’ not the ‘migrator.’

    I grant you, it’s pretty novel, going on form.

  30. 130
    wili says:

    My deepest thanks to kevin, ray and hank for illuminating comments and helpful links. These kinds of comments and references are what makes this site great!

    So I get that it’s all horribly complicated, but do we have any kind of idea how hot the ocean surface would have to get before it stopped absorbing CO2 and when SST might reach those levels? That would seem to me to be an important date to try to determine (and avoid).

  31. 131
    Jim Larsen says:

    115 SA, Assisted migration works. Wolves in Yellowstone, for example. Delayed migrations work. The California condor was extinct in the wild, and now lives in California, Mexico and Arizona. Apparently, the fantasy is a proven reality.

    You asked where to. It’s not to pristine and robust ecosystems (did you really think that’s what I meant?), but to dead areas where the previous ecosystem has been destroyed and the climate is not appropriate for the return of native species. Some might consider helping a species get past human blocks, such as a city, or helping a species which has climbed a mountain reach the next mountain poleward. That’s a potential can of worms, so let’s only consider the first case, where there is no functional ecosystem in the receiving area. That’s the new desert I mentioned in my initial comment. It would also apply to the tundra transforming to taiga. Some species in the taiga might get left behind without help. Helping them move along with their neighbors is not potentially invasive, as it’s still the exact same set of species and variants. The tundra in this case would all go extinct in the receiving area no matter what we do. Keeping some coral and fish species alive for many years as the oceans de-acidify could be another scenario.

    I’m intrigued by your 10 year plan. Sort of the cost is no object, suck it up and just do it plan. Have you done an analysis? Is there enough money in the world? Enough rare earths? Enough fossil fuel energy? (renewables only have ~10:1 EROEI) Have you considered that electric cars cost $35k and in a high demand low supply market that price will inevitably spike? How about that there are no used electric cars? Do only the rich drive in your scenario?

    For comparison, here’s my plan: No new fossil fuel wells or power plants. Existing plants can complete their life cycle, with 40 years being the maximum definition of life cycle. We slowly ramp up production of renewables while intensively researching better techniques, with the intention of big increases in output in five to ten years. (Using your WW2 analogy, if Germany had delayed the war until after she had developed the jet airplane, things would have gone much better for them, don’t you think?) We also use that time to build the grid needed to carry the load, and to increase energy efficiency. Negawatts are far cheaper than renewable watts. Consumer goods will convert via market mechanisms as well as by fiat, such as requiring smart appliances, with taxes switched from income or other sources to carbon emissions as needed (or tax and refund a la James Hansen). To make it work world-wide, “we” (the US and Europe?) will not engage in trade with any country which violates these principles.

    I avoid the perils of your plan. The poor can still drive. Brand new billion dollar power plants aren’t bulldozed. About the only thing dust-binned is drilling equipment. Everything else gets most or all of its normal use. Solar and wind power can evolve and drop in price instead of spiking from the low-supply, high-demand scenario you’d create.

    My plan would save untold trillions over yours and we wouldn’t be stuck with by then obsolete stuff, such as wind turbines with rare-earth intensive gear boxes. Batteries perhaps 10 times better than today’s will likely come online in a decade. Wouldn’t it suck to have a billion new lithium ion batteries on the road right when lithium air comes on line? (Note that a billion lithium ion batteries would take all of the world’s lithium reserves, even though lithium has many other uses, including ceramics and electronics’ batteries. That’s a certain recipe for disastrous price hikes, eh?) There’s lots of other problems. Your plan would result in environmental devastation from mining rare earths and lithium, for example.

    My plan would take 30 years or so and would result in a higher CO2 level than yours, but probably not by much because working over 30 years would be way more efficient. I share your desire to make the conversion quickly, but I’m for doing it intelligently and without environmental destruction and incredible costs. Of course, my way could be the straw that breaks the climate’s stability. In that case, oops, geo-engineering here we come!

    (Neither of our plans has a hope in Hades. We’ll burn through the fossil fuels, and the wholesale destruction of ecosystems is our future – and then it’s back to debating how to try to salvage something of the current biosphere!)

  32. 132
    Snapple says:

    Early this AM, I was watching a NOVA documentary about tornadoes. One of the financial sponsors is David Koch, so I listened to see if NOVA would discuss the possible role of climate change and tornadoes.

    At the very end, there was a short mention that a warming planet could be expected to bring more serious problems from tornadoes. What wasn’t mentioned was why the planet was warming. At least, I don’t think they said this. It was early, but I was listening carefully. Does anyone know about this documentary? It was annoying that David Koch was identified as someone who is supporting science.

  33. 133
    dhogaza says:

    Jim Larsen:

    115 SA, Assisted migration works. Wolves in Yellowstone, for example. Delayed migrations work. The California condor was extinct in the wild, and now lives in California, Mexico and Arizona. Apparently, the fantasy is a proven reality.

    Neither of these cases is “assisted migration”, but rather reintroduction into their historical range.

  34. 134
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Barlow: If one adopts an end-Pleistocene benchmark, then it is time to bring back the American cheetah, the American camel, the American plains lion, the American mastodons and mammoths, and other species by using proxies from the Old World to restart their evolution in the New, and to restore their vital roles as shapers of ecological landscapes.”

    Feasible on land.

    Harder to do for the ocean, unfortunately:
    Predicting ecological consequences of marine top predator declines

  35. 135
    Hank Roberts says:


    “Let me give you an example of an elephant because an elephant is considered the most outrageous …. The mammoths that we had in North America, including in Florida, are more closely related to the Indian [Asian] elephant than the Indian elephant is related to the African elephant.”

  36. 136
    Radge Havers says:

    Snapple @ 132

    I saw it too. I didn’t catch any reference to AGW specifically. From what I’m told here at RC, the connection to increased tornado activity hasn’t been made in any case.

    There are several dodgy foundations/organizations/oligarchs that regularly fund PBS programming. I admit this makes me queasy, but I’m more concerned about the systemic pressure that’s applied behind the scenes, particularly in DC.

    While we’re on the subject of public broadcasting, what I’d like to see is Charlie Rose do a series on climate that’s at least as good as his brain series, one with no denialist types on it. (He has apparently done a couple of interviews with climatologists, which naturally I missed.)

  37. 137


    Yes, I heard Connie Barlow speak a few years back. Fascinating.

  38. 138
    wili says:

    JL and SA, if we are proposing plans that have no hope in Hades of being adopted, may I point out that a rapid transition away from ff and to renewable becomes much more do-able if we reduce our demand drastically. Some of that could be in the efficiency ‘negawatts’ that Jim referred to.

    But really, we have to start asking which watts and btu’s really improve our lives substantially and which are only marginally connected to our well being, if at all. Most of Latin America operates on about a quarter of the energy per capita that the US does, yet reports find their rates of feelings of happiness and well being match or exceed ours. So in theory we could cut our use by a quarter and be just as happy if not happier.

    But seriously, if we’re talking about a threat to our very existence, as GW is, we should be thinking about going beyond this to making actual sacrifices for the cause, as most people did in WWII. Making deeper cuts that may sometimes inconvenience us (but may still make us healthier on average, as they tended to do in WWII), we could cut energy (and most other consumption) down to an eighth or even a tenth of current rates. At those rates, conversion to renewables suddenly seems much more achievable in a reasonable time frame and within the limits on things like rare earth metals we have to deal with (though I’m told that there are ways around the use of some of these in turbines).

    As Jim said, not likely to happen. But we should know that it was not because it was impossible in principle. Only because we lacked the insight, will, determination, imagination, love…what have you to do it. (And of course we have had sand constantly kicked into our collective eyes by the well funded and well organized denialosphere.)

  39. 139
    SRJ says:

    Can anyone tell me where to find the forcing data used in Hansen 1988, including all forcings? I have found a datafile here:

    that gives the nonvolcanic forcings only. I would like to compare the net forcing estimates from Hansen 1988 with the most recent observed net forcings.
    I have made a first attempt at this by digitizing figure 2 in Hansen 1988. To convert the numbers for the forcings scenarios in Hansen 1988 to W/m2 I multiply with 3.35, as explained here at Climate Audit:

    But it would be nice to have this data directly from an file if possible.

  40. 140

    NCDC March data is out.

    Despite the extreme heat in most of North America, and in Western Europe, it was a relatively cool month by recent standards. To me, most interesting is the very cool stratosphere–coolest ever in RSS, 2nd in UAH:

  41. 141
    Jim Larsen says:

    For non-scientists like me it can be difficult to determine the validity of various comments. It would be a great help if there were a simple vetting process for knowledgeable posters. Those few(?) who qualify could have a star or some other indicator on their posts which indicates that their opinions generally have merit (though of course even the most illustrious poster could make a flawed comment.)

    More controversial perhaps, posters who are usually off base could have a caution triangle by their name.

  42. 142
    David B. Benson says:

    I had to return Ray Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate” to the lending library as someone else wanted to peruse it. Great book.

  43. 143
    Radge Havers says:


  44. 144
    Radge Havers says:

    For Snapple

    On the reliability of reporting on science and the ongoing systemic vulnerability of PBS, now this:

    A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how the media giants who own your local commercial television and radio stations have been striking like startled rattlesnakes at an FCC proposal that would shed a light on who’s buying our elections…

    …As Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic magazine wrote:
    “The arguments against transparency offered by the networks show that, having experienced the windfall of advertising dollars that Citizens United unleashed, they have little interest in meeting their legal and ethical responsibility to serve the public interest.”…

    …But now there’s something new in the mix, especially appalling to anyone who truly cares about public broadcasting. On April 12, by a vote of 2-1 two of three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of KMTP, a small public station in San Francisco, and struck down the federal ban against political and issue advertising on public TV and radio…

    …The current public system was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. “It will get part of its support from our government,” Johnson said, “but it will be carefully guarded from Government or from party control. It will be free, and it will be independent — and it will belong to all of our people.”…

    Bill Moyer and Michael Winship at Common Dreams

    “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.” -Mark Twain

  45. 145
    Doug says:

    This is a unique time to inform people about the causes of climate change and what they can do about it. That is because only very recently have many more people started to believe that the climate is changing-at least here in the U.S. We need to reach them now, while their minds are open, before they settle on false beliefs. I make it a point when I talk with people to tell them that 98% of active climate scientist’s believe that the warming is from greenhouse gases. I also tell them that some measures they take in their lives have far greater impact on emissions than others-ie reducing driving as compared with turning of lights when leaving a room. Many of these new converts who believe the climate is changing, really do not understand what is causing the warming, nor what measures they can take. We need to reach them now. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Their minds will not be open forever.

  46. 146

    For those who may have missed my Skeptical Science piece on, William Charles Wells, who made observations of radiational exchanges between ground and surface between 1811 and 1817 during his researches into dew, there is now an expanded version published here:

    If only G & T had known…

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:
    “the negative radiative forcing (cooling) associated with net carbon storage over the life of the peatland (approximately 2200 years) was at least twice the value of positive radiative forcing (warming) caused by net CH4 emission over the last 50 years.”

    Hm. 2200 years vs. 50 years — so where’s that going?

  48. 148
    Walt Finerman says:

    Greetings experts. Forgive me if this question has been asked before. I am looking for a detailed description of calculations of climate sensitivity to CO2 concentration in some simple, tractable scenarios. Ideally, the calculation would be closed form and exact, but short of that, reasonable approximations and simple simulation (e.g., ODEs) would be fine. Also, it’s very important: no calibration. All the parameters of the model should be independently and accurately measurable, e.g., solar luminosity, earth’s radius, etc. I just want a rough, order of magnitude calculation, based on first principles, of just the effect of CO2 concentration changes. If anyone has a specific reference they can point to, I’d be grateful. Thanks.

  49. 149
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walt Finerman,
    Ah, so you want the solution for the “spherical cow”? Perhaps you should listen to Einstein, who told us to make a problem as simple as possible–and no simpler.

    If you are sincere in your expressed desire to understand climate sensitivity, you will find some good links here:

    I also recommend the review by Knutti and Hegerl in Nature Geo.

    Also, a caveat. A lot depends on the definition you use for sensitivity–particularly timescale. Physically, what matters is that the system has to return to equilibrium. If you assume this happens quickly, you tend to get a low sensitivity (Schwarz and Lindzen among others). If you assume it takes considerable time to return to equilibrium, the sensitivity will be much higher. Technically, even the Charney sensitivity is not a true “equilibrium” sensitivity.

  50. 150
    sidd says:

    Mr. Finerman asks for a reference. I suggest Principles of Planetary Climate by Ray Pierrehumbert, which I believe is available online.