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Unforced variations: May 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 May 2012

New open thread for this month: misrepresentations of wind farm impacts on local climate? Clouds and contrarians? or whatever…


401 Responses to “Unforced variations: May 2012”

  1. 1
    Grumalg says:

    Someone quoted to me the following statement from:
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/01/13/207334/science-kiehl-ncar-paleoclimate-lessons-from-earths-hot-past/

    “No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.”

    Could someone intimately familar with the models verify whether it’s true or not?

    [Response: Yes, it's true. But most climate models don't have a prognostic methane cycle at all (only one in the CMIP5 archive AFAIK). Future methane levels are most often set via offline models that have many different factors included and span a wide range of future methane levels. Current methane is well below that envisaged in the CMIP3 simulations for instance. So while true, it isn't as significant as one might think. - gavin]

  2. 2
  3. 3
    t marvell says:

    This recent paper in Climate Change is relevant to the NY Times article:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/m805153k11856103/
    In essence, the paper says that non-climate scientists don’t think like others, who are more prone to doubt and uncertainty, and who judge more by immediate experiences. If that’s true, it’s not to be expected that the public is persuaded by the near unanimity among climate scientists, and it is to be expected that one Harvard professor can foster doubt.

    [Response: You are significantly overinterpreting the findings. Since the study didn't look at any other group of early career scientists, the differences are most likely due to the generic differences between people who take science PhDs vs the general public, rather than anything related to the field itself. And secondly, the idea that the (true) observation that there is a consensus among climate scientists is necessarily supposed to be persuasive is a strawman. Find one statement on this site where that argument is made. The fact of consensus is merely a counterpoint to the incorrect statement that the basics of climate science are somehow subject to great controversy in the field (which they aren't). - gavin]

  4. 4
    Dan H. says:

    Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group. Also, I think you are overstating the supposed unanimity among climate scientists. Saying it is so, does not make it so.

    [Response: If you think it is irrelevant, why do you keep disputing it? - gavin]

  5. 5
    Chris Colose says:

    Liming Zhou, the author of the wind farm study, is in fact one of my current professors in a remote sensing course.

    He seemed completely stunned this week when his inbox was getting filled up with messages questioning how wind farms could cause “global warming” or “climate change,” which of course completely misses the point of the Nature Clim. Change. article. It’s a shame when it’s almost a bad thing for your scientific work to get media attention these days.

  6. 6
    David says:

    For those of not as informed, is Henrik Svensmark’s latest paper entitled “Evidence of nearby supernovae affecting life on Earth,” new? Or is this simply more of the same, which RC has already answered in earlier posts?

    [Response: It's new-ish. More of a variation on a theme. The novelty is his estimate of the million-year average 'supernovae activity', which he correlates to a selected bunch of things. The validity of this estimate is very unclear (since it is built from multiple assumptions and models), and someone who knows something about this kind of stuff should probably look into it. But it is worth noting that the results are completely inconsistent with the Shaviv+Veizer attempt to do a similar thing, and that was highly correlated to everything too (apparently). Relevance to modern climate change? Zero. - gavin]

  7. 7
    t marvell says:

    Gavin. Thanks for answering my post (#3). You’re probably right that the Climate Change paper might tap a general difference beween young scientists and the general public. The paper’s contention, then, would be that there is a general mismatch between the thinking process of the public and scientists, but that can still apply to climate scientists generally, as the authors contend. Other fields have the same problem, where consensus among scientists is at odds with much of the public, such as biologists and eveolution. Climate change, however, has bigger policy implications, and the difference is more important. There used to be such a standoff with respect to doctors and smoking, another area with obvious policy implications, but the doctors were able to provide information that hit home, and persuaded the public in the face of powerful interests.

    The NY Times, and many others, emphasize the consensus among climate scientists, even if you don’t. I think you imply, correctly, that a complete consensus can be dangerous because it hinders challenges.

    [Response: Nonsense. The is a pretty complete consensus on geocentrism, but I don't see it holding back research into cosmology. Please talk about something interesting. - gavin]

  8. 8
    Meow says:

    @4: Humbug. Appeal to knowledgeable authority is not a fallacy, and you know it. You yourself appeal to knowledgeable authority everytime you hire a doctor to treat your cough, or an accountant to prepare your tax returns.

    And the knowledgeable authorities get that way exactly through diligent effort to research the relevant data.

    Finally, saying whatever it is you say is so, does not make it so.

    CAPTCHA: doctrine ersaff

  9. 9
    Sean says:

    There was an interesting recent CC doco and public discussion on australian TV called = *I can change your mind on Climate Change*
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/changeyourmind/
    and
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3487316.htm
    and
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/all-can-agree-on-green-energy-but-the-rest-is-alarmist-20120426-1xnv3.html

    I bring it up, as it seems to be more confirmation over the last 5 years a shift in public opinion & political will about CC, and that despite the increasing studies and knowledge *climate skeptics* are still able to influence public opinion and spread debunked myths as if they are true… and without being called on it.

    Last year there was some talk about the need for the science and *its meaning/implications* to be better communicated to the public, and politicians business leaders etc. Given the following I am inclined to think that the science/common sense side isn’t succeeding yet.

    Climate Skeptic & ex-Politician Nick Minchin:
    - not all sceptics are mad, bad and dangerous;
    - there remains a lively scientific debate about the drivers of climate change,
    - scaremongering about global warming is backfiring on the warmists.
    - reality has got in the way of the theory
    - absence of warming since 1998 – despite rising CO2 levels and contrary to IPCC predictions
    - Lovelock ”the great climate centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is”
    - public concern about global warming peaked in 2007 and has been in decline ever since
    - neither polar ice cap is disappearing
    - human emissions of CO2 are (NOT) causing global warming
    - demonstrates how much we don’t yet know about what drives our climate
    - to claim ”the science is settled” is simply a lie.
    - (none) could convince me that human emissions of CO2 are driving dangerous global warming
    - much that we don’t know about the Earth’s climate. May the debate continue.

    IOW this politician/public figure is saying that he’s entitled to his opinion and all the scientists have yet to convince him there’s a problem. Not only that but your own *evidence* proves the claims of the IPCC consensus as plain wrong. What do you think?

    If more journalists were educated about the *facts* by climate scientists; would they be more successful in being aware of such gross errors and misrepresentations?

    Thanks,
    just thinking out loud.

  10. 10
    Dan says:

    re: 4. Wow, what pure rubbish. However, what is most telling about your absurd comment is that it shows without a shadow of a doubt that you have no clue about how science is conducted via the scientific method. As it has been done for centuries through hypotheses, data collection, testing, analyses, repeatability, peer-review, and more hypotheses. Which exactly describes the strong science behind global warming research. The debate has been conducted through peer-review journals and conferences. As all strong science is done. The idea that you think you somehow know something about climate science that literally thousands of peer-reviewed climate researchers across the world and yes every major professional climate science organization across the globe do not is the absolute height of scientific ignorance and arrogance. The overwhelming consensus of scientific research indicates that human activity is exacerbating climate change. Here is a partial list of scientific institutions that have all concluded there is a real danger:
    NASA GISS http://www.giss.nasa.gov/
    NOAA http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html
    IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/contents.html
    NAS http://books.nap.edu/collections/global_warming/index.html
    change
    UK RS http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2010/climate–summary-science/ and http://royalsociety.org/Climate-Science-Statement/
    AMS http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2007climatechange.html
    NCAR http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html
    CMOS http://www.cmos.ca/climatechangepole.html
    http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf
    Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, and the atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2. That includes the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).

    The core of the “debate” re: global warming is long over. Read the peer-reviewed science. There really is no excuse for intellectual laziness when you have access to the science at your fingertips.

    Any medication or drug you ever take is based on scientific research. Which in very many cases has actually less certainty than the science behind global warming.

    You might also read the peer-reviewed science on meteorological blocking systems and their causes.

  11. 11
    Susan Anderson says:

    Sean @9

    What a gallimaufry of denier points. I viewed the documentary, and aside from being shocked that Marc Morano’s distorted but carefully rehearsed talking points (climate science is “subprime” – nonsense and then some!) were regarded as an appropriate station on the journey, it was indeed sad that real science looks so pale against the desire to be deceived. That pleasant girl took the only path, refusing to engage, but she was right to be shocked as he should not be welcome in any polite discussion of climate change given his history (Limbaugh, Inhofe, huh?!). He was scathing about tobacco denial, but that’s nothing to be proud of. I found myself wishing she was Katherine Hayhoe, who I thought might have provided some clarity there.

    One could take any of those points and demonstrate clearly its falsity, but the one about 1998 is particularly old. The new normal is beginning to go beyond that old peak that self-styled skeptics (who are anything but, being closed minded to a fault) designated a minimum. We are facing a host of new problems evidenced by billion dollar disasters, an acidifying ocean, and a variety of other knock-on consequences. Perspective is lacking in those who choose to highlight isolated periods in the continuum of historical records, which exist in some degree of accuracy since the 1800s. These quibbles about how long is climate miss the point that even the longer 30 years is still only a part of a longer record. And while I maunder on about the increase in extremes over time, which some find a bit risky, science is also moving on with, for example, the new ocean measurements that demonstrate that increased water vapor is more than we thought (roughly, 8% instead of 4%).

    However, the synopsis you provide does not accurately convey the substance of the presentation. It sounds more like you are using it as a platform to present your views here.

    It is an old fake skeptic trick to find someone unprepared and deluge them with fake facts that they are not prepared to answer all at once.

    The point of the documentary wasn’t all your denier points, but that people could come together to work on solutions despite the disagreements.

  12. 12
    Doug says:

    Is our friend Dan H. aware of the recent study that showed that 98% of active Climate Scientists believe the warming is man made? dan h.? Dan H.? DAN H.?

  13. 13
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    In what ways could an amateur scientist contribute to the study of climate, and assist the professionals? I don’t mean advocacy, but assist in actual research. As an example in a different field of study, amateur astronomers are playing key roles by looking for supernovae and then alerting professionals when one is first found so that the far more powerful telescopes can be directed towards the exploding star to collect data. And amateur astronomers also look at things like the SOHO imagery and have discovered numerous comets, as this was not something the professionals were using the data to find. Planet hunting is an area where humans searching the data are better than computer programs, so again the more eyes the better.

    Naturally amateur scientists generally need a strong foundation of understanding to be of assistance. How to operate telescopes and analyze the images are required knowledge and skills to be a supernova hunter. I imagine people who have undergrad degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. would be candidates for becoming productive amateur climatologists. They would need to study up on the foundations of climate science, and the specifics of whatever projects they wanted to help. However, I’m not sure where to start find this kind of thing. I’m not talking about making a graph or two and posting in the comments of a blog, I’m talking about doing real work and passing it up the chain to professionals who can take it, quickly verify it, and use it to enhance their own work.

    Due to the highly politicized nature of this field, it may not exist. I know that some people build weather stations and collect that data as a hobby, but I’m not sure if that ever gets tied into data products climate researchers would use. Just like there are certain tasks that professional astronomers “downsource”, so to speak, to amateurs, I am curious if there are certain tasks that professional climatologists are looking to downsource. The tasks that astronomers downsource are ones that are better served by amateurs, like looking for secondary uses for data collected to serve a primary purpose, or expanded coverage of the night sky.

    [Response: Some of the most active 'citizen science' projects related to climate are focused on the digitisation of old weather records (here and here), and phenology projects (for instance, here or here). - gavin]

  14. 14
    andrew adams says:

    Dan H

    You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of “scientific consensus” with an opinion poll on people’s voting intentions or their views on the best kind of dog food. You say “The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.” But the point is that the scientific consensus emerges as a result of the research and data and its existence is an indication that the debate, while not actually over (nor will it ever be), is at least heavily leaning towards a particular set of conclusions. And whilst we should be naturally vigilant for false appeals to authority in any debate that doesn’t give us license to dismiss the views of those who have more knowlege and practical experience of a particular subject just because they happen to be inconvenient.

    On a more general note I do think the existence of a scientific consensus is meaningful for the wider public which does not have the ability to make an independent judgement on the scientific issues. Which is precisely why skeptics make such efforts to either deny its existence or dismiss the concept outright. Even non-scientists like me who do take an active interest and try to understand the science as far as possible ultimate have to rely on the scientific community to understand which issues are (to use the dreaded word) “settled” and which are more uncertain. I suspect that this actually also applies to those who are scientists but in fields unrelated to climate science. And how does scientific knowledge get passed down through generations if not through the dissemination of established “consensus” principles throuigh our schools, universities etc?

  15. 15
    andrew adams says:

    Dan H

    You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of “scientific consensus” with an opinion poll on people’s voting intentions or their views on,say, the best kind of dog food. You say “The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.” But the point is that the scientific consensus emerges as a result of the research and data and its existence is an indication that the debate, while not actually over (nor will it ever be), is at least heavily leaning towards a particular set of conclusions. And whilst we should be naturally vigilant for false appeals to authority in any debate that doesn’t give us license to dismiss the views of those who have more knowlege and practical experience of a particular subject just because they happen to be inconvenient.

    On a more general note I do think the existence of a scientific consensus is meaningful for the wider public which does not have the ability to make an independent judgement on the scientific issues. Which is precisely why skeptics make such efforts to either deny its existence or dismiss the concept outright. Even non-scientists like me who do take an active interest and try to understand the science as far as possible ultimate have to rely on the scientific community to understand which issues are (to use the dreaded word) “settled” and which are more uncertain. I suspect that this actually also applies to those who are scientists but in fields unrelated to climate science. And how does scientific knowledge get passed down through generations if not through the dissemination of established “consensus” principles throuigh our schools, universities etc?

  16. 16
    B Eggen says:

    Real Wacky Science

    Too late for a 1st April joke by a long way, but since this was picked up by a press-cuttings service yesterday I thought I should have a closer look. The Fox News article “Proof global warming isn’t making weather wackier?” (30 Apr 2012), URL http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/30/proof-global-warming-isnt-making-weather-wackier/ cites “Real Science” site (URL http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/ ) and in particular “Sea Level Junk Science In California” (URL http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/sea-level-junk-science-in-california/ )

    I was intrigued by a particular graph on sea level at Monterey, URL http://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/screenhunter_793-apr-30-07-47.jpg and since there was a link to the data (URL http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/stations/1352.php ) I thought I try to recreate the graph (complete with a linear regression). On the “Real Science” graph there is a completely flat red line through the scatter data, which I guess is meant to show that there is no sea level rise at that station. I’ve applied a linear regression both in Linux and using Excel (which looks like the software used for the original graph) for the monthly data and I get a trendline with slope 0.92 mm/year, resulting in a line from approx 7000mm in 1980 to about 7030mm in 2010 (annually smoothed data gives less of a slope, albeit still positive: 0.86 mm/year). [Sorry, can't include a graph in this reply].

    So what has been going on with the “trend line” on the graph on the “Real Science” site ? – I suspect it was just drawn in as a straight line, slightly above the average value of the whole time series. I guess there’s no point pointing this out to Steven Goddard who seems to lack any real scientific rigour and is happier picking cherries.

    But I wonder how many people will look at such graphs and believe them ?

  17. 17
    Jim Larsen says:

    4 Dan H says, “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group. Also, I think you are overstating the supposed unanimity among climate scientists.”

    You don’t know what the fallacy of appeal to authority means. Here’s a definition:
    “Often we add strength to our arguments by referring to respected sources or authorities and explaining their positions on the issues we’re discussing. If, however, we try to get readers to agree with us simply by impressing them with a famous name or by appealing to a supposed authority who really isn’t much of an expert, we commit the fallacy of appeal to authority.”

    http://writingcenter.unc.edu/resources/handouts-demos/writing-the-paper/fallacies

    When 97-98% of publishing climate scientists hold a view on climate science, it is a consensus which can be used as one very strong part of an argument in support of that view. In fact, the consensus is what makes the appeal to authority valid. If a fairly equal number of experts held opposing views, then no reasonable appeal to authority could be made, as any appeal could be countered by an opposing example; but “39 out of 40 experts agree that…” is quite a powerful argument. Or do you disagree with the 97-98% figures from Doran 2009 and Anderegg 2010?

  18. 18
    Dan H. says:

    Andrew,
    Scientific theories do arise out of research and data. The validity of the theory is dependent on the strength of the work. A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.
    The main problem with the climate debate, is that many people confuse the general agreement that the earth has warmed with belief that man has caused the warming. There is a disconnect between the two. For example, see the recent poll conducted for the AMS, where 89% responded that the globe has warmed, but only 59% responded that it was mostly caused by human activities. Many people are assuming global warming means anthropogenic global warming, and you know what happens when you assume.

    http://www.ametsoc.org/boardpges/cwce/docs/BEC/CICCC/2012-02-AMS-Member-Survey-Preliminary-Findings.pdf

  19. 19

    “I know that some people build weather stations and collect that data as a hobby, but I’m not sure if that ever gets tied into data products climate researchers would use.”

    Which Guy Callendar used to do, in fact–his whole career as a climatologist was carried out on an amateur basis, supported by careers as steam technologist and (somewhat reluctant) military technology researcher.

    It would be easy (and maybe true) to say that it couldn’t happen today. But it was remarkable and quite unexpected during his career (1930s-1960s), too:

    A particularly interesting feature of Callendar (1938) is that it was published with a “Discussion”—one which reads rather like a transcript of a Doctoral dissertation Defense. (This ritual ‘trial by fire’ forms a normal part of the Doctoral process today.) Callendar apparently faced a committee of leading meteorologists.

    To begin with, there was L.H.G. Dines, whom we have already encountered, and Sir David Brunt, who Guy may well have known through mutual connections with the Imperial College. (At that time it was still simply ‘Professor Brunt’–he would only be knighted for his contributions to meteorology in 1949.)

    Also present were Mr. J.H. Coste, Drs. C.E.P. Brooks and F.J.W. Whipple, and Sir George Simpson, who was perhaps the most famous of all–he had worked in places as diverse as India and Antarctica, and had acquired tragico-romantic luster as a surviving member of the Scott expedition.

    All in all, the committee must have been highly intimidating: Whipple had only recently completed his term as President of the Royal Meteorological Society; Simpson’s presidency was just a couple of years in the future; and Brunt would, as it turned out, succeed Simpson.

    Their questions seem a mix of admiration, condescension toward an outsider (albeit an outsider who was the son of one of England’s leading physicists), and proper scientific skepticism:

    Sir George Simpson expressed his admiration of the amount of work which Mr. Callendar had put into his paper. It was excellent work. . . [But Simpson] thought it was not sufficiently realized by non-meteorologists who came for the first time to help the Society in its study, that it was impossible to solve the problem of the temperature distribution in the atmosphere by working out the radiation. The atmosphere was not in a state of radiative equilibrium. . . temperature distribution in the atmosphere was determined almost entirely by the movement of the air up and down. . . One could not, therefore, calculate the effect of changing any one factor. . .

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Fire-From-Heaven-Climate-Science-And-The-Element-Of-Life-Part-Two-The-Cloud-By-Night

    Callendar’s life and work:

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Wars

    All of which aside, I do recall one contribution that’s been discussed on RC in the past–there are opportunities for amateurs to transcribe old met observations, thus bringing them into useful life again. Perhaps someone has links for that handy?

  20. 20
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H., First, you don’t understand what scientific consensus is. It is not a simple vote. A single scientist like, say, Fermi carries much more weight than 100 average physicists. That is anything but democratic. A better measure of consensus is found in publications and citations. If a scientist’s beliefs about his subject area are correct they will lead him to greater insight–and hence more publications. The explanatory power of these insights will in turn be helpful to other scientists, who will cite the work in their own. If on the other hand, the beliefs of a scientist are incorrect, they will prevent him from understanding his subject matter, leading to fewer publications, each with lesser influence.

    This is precisely what we see wrt climate science. The reason why denialist scientists are unproductive has nothing to do with their skill–it is rather that their failure to accept significant positive feedback in the climate system prevents them from understanding the climate.

    The other thing you seem to fail to understand is that scientists who do not publish in a given field have virtually no influence on scientific consensus. As a physicist, I can look at the consensus in climate science, and I can say whether it is physically reasonable–that is, I can validate the science–but unless I publish, my opinions have precious little weight.

    You no play the game, you no make the rules.

  21. 21
    dhogaza says:

    Shorter Dan H.:

    A consensus among climate scientists doesn’t matter because “only” 59% of non-climate scientists who read the weather on the news believe in AGW.

    So now he’s lowered himself to cherry-picking polls that suit his taste …

  22. 22

    Dan H. wrote:

    “A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.”

    I must disagree. You’ll never get a “vast majority” ‘supporting’ an hypothesis simply because it’s plausible. What you’ll get are lots of folks figuring out ways to test it.

    That is exactly what happened with the the various ideas making up the mainstream view today, which is why we can be confident that:

    –The warming trend is robust.
    –The rise in GHG concentrations is robust.
    –The experimental and observational evidence (and the physical theoretical understanding) linking the two is robust.
    –The evidence that the rise in GHGs is due to human activity is robust.

    All of which is why we saw the kinds of numbers in the Doran and Anderegg studies that we did. Perhaps some of the AMS members were less familiar with points #2 and (especially) #4 than climate scientists are?

    Attribution is one of the toughest pieces of the puzzle, no doubt. But the professional assessment that observed climate change is most likely due to human activity is much more than an ‘assumption.’

  23. 23

    Dan H., you omitted the facts that:

    1) another 11% of AMS respondents thought that the warming was from both human and natural causes in roughly equal measure, for a total of 70% who thought human contributions to climate change significant, and that

    2) the reference period defined by the survey was “the past 150 years.” Given that the anthropogenic signal has only been emergent since the early 1970′s, I think it’s remarkable that the percentage attributing climate change to human causes primarily was as high as it was. The survey investigators note that they received 6 emails from respondents strongly objecting to this definition.

  24. 24

    Watch Arctic sea ice drop extent from now, -11 C was exceeded over the Arctic ocean,
    a few years ago a scuba team found that the ice starts disintegrating from under when surface temperatures were at -11 C or warmer. Although sea ice extent seems high at this time, it largely consists of first year ice. When tthe sun is high enough, ice gets bombarded by heat from top and bottom. It literally becomes warmer, easier to drill.

  25. 25
    Edward Greisch says:

    Gavin: I have the impression that General Circulation Models [GCMs] are less able to predict agricultural collapse due to desertification than Aiguo Dai’s data on the history of the extent of deserts. Is this correct? Will this problem with GCMs be fixed soon? Will climate modelers look at Aiguo Dai’s data?

  26. 26
    Hank Roberts says:

    Focus on the news story — you can’t explain facts by discussing pretense.

    Discussing fake claims fills the comments, but doesn’t educate much.

  27. 27
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks. The debate will be won by research and data, and not the opinion of a certain group.”

    This is offensive and puerile nonsense. The overwhelming majority — indeed, virtually ALL — of the scientists who have actually gathered and studied the data and actually conducted the research agree on the reality and the serious danger of anthropogenic global warming.

    The scientific “debate” HAS BEEN WON by research and data.

    To state that plain fact is not in any way an “appeal to authority” and your pretentious misuse of that classical rhetorical fallacy is just plain stupid and ignorant.

    Please, moderators. Send Dan H’s garbage to the Bore Hole where it belongs. Whatever meager entertainment value it may once have had for those who enjoy laughing at the feeble-minded, has long since been exhausted.

  28. 28
    SecularAnimist says:

    andrew adams wrote to Dan H: “You make the common mistake amongst skeptics of confusing the notion of ‘scientific consensus’ with an opinion poll …”

    Dan H is not making “mistakes” and he is not a “skeptic”. He is a troll who is knowingly and deliberately wasting people’s time with rote regurgitation of repetitive, scripted bullshit.

    He gets a lot of mileage here. For some reason, people seem to enjoy endlessly posting the exact same responses (e.g. “scientific consensus is not an opinion poll”) to his millionth repetition of the exact same bogus talking points (e.g. “scientific consensus is an appeal to authority fallacy”).

  29. 29
    Radge Havers says:

    “A vast majority of scientists may support a particular hypothesis, because it reasonably describes the event, but until sufficient data confirms the hypothesis, the support will be weak. Wide, but shallow.”

    So Dan H has surveyed the field with his all encompassing, rhetorical eye and found in his depths that you are shallow. Apparently you Human hating scientists just want to go around blaming Humans. Bad scientists. And the proof is: Dan H sez so. Sounds like an appeal to false authority to me.

  30. 30
    Daniel C Goodwin says:

    I’m trying to more fully understand how Earth’s energy imbalance is determined from measured changes in Earth’s heat content – for instance, the derivation of a fairly precise estimate from ARGO data (mainly) in Hansen et al. 2011.

    My understanding is that the energy imbalance represents the amount of energy which the Earth’s temperature has not yet responded to – extra heating “in the pipeline.” That is: the sum of forcings minus the warming response thus far.

    Specifically how are measurements of heat uptake like ARGO data employed to determine Earth’s energy imbalance? Is the imbalance inferred from the rate of heating? Or is total warming simply subtracted from total forcing?

  31. 31
    Jeremy says:

    [Enter Chorus as Clouds]

    Strepsiades: Yes, by Jupiter! O highly honoured Clouds, for now they cover all things.
    Socrates: Did you not, however, know, nor yet consider, these to be goddesses?
    Strepsiades: No, by Jupiter! But I thought them to be mist, and dew, and smoke.
    Socrates: For you do not know, by Jupiter! that these feed very many sophists, Thurian soothsayers, practisers of medicine, lazy-long-haired-onxy-ring-wearers, song-twisters for the cyclic dances, and meteorological quacks.
    — Aristophanes, “The Clouds”

  32. 32
    David says:

    The NY Times piece about the contrarians and clouds would have one believe that if somehow things work out so that warming is mitigated, we have nothing to worry about. It completely ignores the ocean acidification problem of CO2 – and there is no contrarian theory to mitigate that. The collapse of ocean ecosystems could be similar to the Permian extinction, which may well have been caused by a rapid rise in atmospheric CO2.

  33. 33
    Yvan Dutil says:

    #6 David

    I have done a rapid reading of the Svensmark paper. This is remake of an old idea that when Earth pass trough a spiral arm, there is much more nearby supernovae, which threaten life. This topic has been brought many time in the field of astrobiology (search Galactic Belt of life). However, the mechanism was nearby supernova that produced severe cosmic rays that destroyed the ozone layer by a large production of NOx. Svensmark propose (again) that cosmic rays affect climate. However, the smoothed fluctuation in flux (necessary to match the CO2 temperature record) only present a small variation (less than a factor 3). This means that atmosphere should be highly sensitive to cosmic rays. By the way, Svensmark note that tectonic is a very large factor, which if far from being surprising since this is the mechanism that drive CO2 level ;)

  34. 34
    Jim says:

    Unsettled Scientist,
    I’d agree with Gavin that entering data is quite important work that needs to be done, and there is a shortage of people doing it. However it’s also pretty tedious for most people–not terribly interesting work, and if you already sit behind a desk all day, not something that’s likely to turn the ol’ crank. I have a large pile of interesting and important historic forest data that just sits there for exactly these reasons. The phenology observations can be much more interesting for many, and are important because they represent a sort of bridge connecting climate change with climate change effects, that is the data is potentially useful for both. Climate change effects in general is an area with a lot of potential for citizen help, because many of these are biological and at a scale in which only on-the-ground observations really do the job (as opposed to remotely sensed data). I think what’s needed is a coordinated and funded effort that connects non-professionals with professionals in doing different types of important work. Part of that would involve education also, showing people exactly why the work in question is important in the larger scheme of things. Also, many people are willing to volunteer their time, which is terrific, but in the end, this stuff is real work, and people need to be paid for it. Anyway, thanks for your post, you’ve gotten me thinking.–Jim

  35. 35
    BJ Chippindale says:

    @DanH “Whether a consensus exists or not is irrelevant to the climate discussion. This appeal to authority is a fallacy dating to the ancient Greeks.”

    That would be true if it were a debate. It is not, it is a prediction and a requirement to know, about what is happening to and going to happen to, the real world. We have found that the best way to answer such questions is to apply scientific methods and it is no different this time… that is the best way to get answers about the real world. In such a situation, when 95% of the science points in one direction only, it is not irrelevant, nor a logical fallacy, to refer to it. The opinions of the scientists involved in gathering and analyzing the data follow those results.

    The attempts by denialists to describe this as a logical fallacy need to be understood in the same context as their constant insistence that we provide “proof” in the legal and logical sense of the word. One should better turn this on its head, and ask them where is THEIR proof that releasing the same amount of CO2 that was sequestered in the last 3+ million years… in the last 150, and continuing to release it 50 times faster than any known natural process… will NOT lead to harmful effects. That IS their theory… in a nutshell. They can’t possibly defend it… which is why they attack everything else.

  36. 36
    Jesús R. says:

    I thought CO2 couldn’t be sucked from the atmosphere, but I’ve just bumped into this paper (via BNC):

    “The analysis indicates that CO2 capture from air for climate change mitigation is technically feasible using off-the-shelf technology.”

    Stolaroff, Keith & Lowry 2008. Carbon dioxide capture from atmospheric air using sodium hydroxide spray. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Apr 15;42(8):2728-35. (SI)

    I’d be interested in reading your views on this, especially since, in my view, people tend to be very techno-optimist, in the case of climate change usually making a parallelism with the Malthusian predictions and the Green Revolution.

    [Response: There's a big difference between technically feasible and cost effective. If it costs $400/ton Carbon, then there are a lot of other things that one would do first with the money that would be more effective. - gavin]

  37. 37
    BillS says:

    Re: #2 and the New York Times

    Whoever came up with the lead to this article clearly hasn’t been paying attention if they think that clouds will be the “last bastion for dissenters”. The devote “dissenters” will come up with some new correlation/causality scenario if clouds fail them. It’s hard to imagine what it might be — the sheep-albedo effect? Meteor showers? Continental drift? Planetary alignment? Dark matter? Plutocracies pollute less? Climate hysteresis?

    See http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php for a list of previous bastions.

  38. 38
    dhogaza says:

    BillS:

    Whoever came up with the lead to this article clearly hasn’t been paying attention if they think that clouds will be the “last bastion for dissenters”.

    The article was clearly speaking of those few dissenters within the climate science community who actually do scientific work and are trying to build a credible alternative to the mainstream scientific view.

    Not anti-science denialists who insist that CO2 isn’t a GHG or that its warming effect violates the second law of thermodynamics or …

  39. 39
    Dan H. says:

    BJ,
    If 95% (or 90% ,or even 80%) of the data pointed in one direction, then I would accept it as near a fact as possible. However, since the data varies considerably from your statement, my acceptance varies accordingly. There are several predictions, only one of which can come true. Several people here seem, to prefer to shout down anyone with which they disagree, rather than argue scientifically. In that sense, you are right, there is no debate here, only shouting. In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring. I was hoping it would occur here also.

  40. 40
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “Several people here seem, to prefer to shout down anyone with which they disagree …”

    Pointing out that you repetitively post blatant falsehoods, ignorant nonsense and laughable sophistry, that you continually misrepresent other commenter’s posts, and otherwise behave like a sneeringly dishonest and boorish troll, is not “shouting you down”. It is simply stating facts.

    Your name is Rumpelstiltskin, troll. Now begone.

  41. 41
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.”

    There is no “debate” in the “scientific world” about the sort of garbage that you post here. Scientists don’t “debate” the bogus talking points that Koch Industries pays Fox News to spoon-feed to trolls.

    Which is, of course, exactly the reason that you have to resort to puerile gibberish about “appeals to authority” whenever someone here discusses real climate science.

  42. 42
    Meow says:

    @39: Be the scientific debate you say you desire.

    Pick an unresolved climate science topic (say, what’s the sign and magnitude of the cloud feedback given the most-likely CO2 emissions scenarios), construct a testable hypothesis, gather the data needed to test it, crunch it all, and publish your results. Whatever you conclude, you’ll get plenty of solid scientific debate.

    Or just waste everyone’s time by, for example, asserting that drought has decreased worldwide since 1900 because the global PDSI has become more negative.

    Your choice.

  43. 43
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11014.html

    Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change

    “… We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations….”

    Nature (2012)
    doi:10.1038/nature11014
    02 May 2012

  44. 44
    Halldór Björnsson says:

    This case of nocturnal warming associated with the installation of windfarms is not surprising. But it can hardly be expected to be associated with wind farms in general. The rotors induce mixing and affect various boundary layer properties. How and to what extent depends on the boundary layer. A nice example of mixing fog associated with the rotating blades can be seen in the famous Horns Rev photo (http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-01/wind-turbines-leave-clouds-and-energy-inefficiency-their-wake ). In Texas, the most likely explanation for the warming observed involves a near surface night time inversion (probably as a result of radiative ground level cooling), which is mixed away near windfarms. The end result is that near a wind farm the ground does not cool as much at night. Net effect on global climate? None.

    I know of a study where ground temperatures were measured in a meadow surrounded by trees and in another where there where no trees. In the first case, due to shelter from the wind, a shallow night time inversion formed and night-time ground temperatures were lower as a result. During daytime, however, the shelter from the trees lead to higher temperatures at the ground level. There are plenty of such effects, and in the large scheme of things they do not matter much. I am sure there are cases where windfarms cool the area downstream and plenty of cases where they have no effect on temperatures. These effects are situation dependent and hence differ from place to place and time to time.

    Of course, to those who like the idea of ignorant environmentalists warming the planet while trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, – this story was just too good to pass. Don´t let the facts spoil a good story.

  45. 45
    adeady says:

    “Also, many people are willing to volunteer their time, which is terrific, but in the end, this stuff is real work, and people need to be paid for it.”

    Jim, there is more ‘real work’ to be done in the world than can be paid for. And most of us do volunteer to greater or lesser extent. There are many partly or fully retired people like me who are willing to do data entry/transcription or other routine work for nothing – who would never, ever, not in a million years, dream of taking on such a task as a paid job. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

    Doing it at home in your own time at your own pace, on the other hand, is quite satisfying. Probably _because_ you can walk away from it any time you like, for as long as you like. Exactly the reason why the idea of such work is so unattractive as a paid job where walking away amounts to getting fired.

    [Response:That's great and we need people like you. Unfortunately there is an element of society that doesn't want to pay for the things that society should be paying for, and I would argue that there's more than enough money to pay for these things if the attitudes and priorities were right, which they are not.--Jim]

  46. 46
    MARodger says:

    Folk @40-42 inclusive.
    It appears plain to me that Dan H. has set out a very simple test for his argument @39. He asserts he is being “shout(ed) down” by us while “in the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.
    If such a “significant debate” exists, it will surely be evident because “real science,” is not secretive.

    So where is it?

    Dan H. surely has crazy ideas about the power of AGW, or more correctly the lack of power of AGW. His pet belief is more extreme even that Lindzen’s who as climatelogist fails to convince any of his scientific colleagues that climate seinsitivity is less than one.
    If the nonsense Dan H. argues is true, there will be scientific papers being published that present evidence for what I, for what even Lindzen considers absurdly low climate sensitivity, perhaps even a negative sensitivity; papers which would (a) constitute a debate & (b) justify the ridiculous position that Dan H. argues.

    So can anybody see such a debate? Can such scientific papers be referenced?

  47. 47
    Dan says:

    Dan H wrote: “In the real scientific world, there is a significant debate occurring.”

    Please read for comprehension: The real scientific debate re: man-made greenhouse gases and global warming *has* occurred. Note the tense. It occurred through peer-review journals and scientific conferences. Attend the AGU, for example.

    Can you explain without violating law of conservation of energy why stratospheric temperatures are cooling ? They ought to be warming if natural effects were the cause. Oh, you can’t? What a surprise. Not. Because you have not read the science. Or understand it. You simply regurgitate what others have told you or what you want to believe without any scientific basis what so ever. The scientific method: read it and understand it. Because you have no clue about it.

  48. 48
    MalcolmT says:

    I don’t like to think I might be shouting anyone down but may I (quietly, politely) suggest that Dan H. be consigned to the Bore Hole, on the grounds that he has wasted more than half the bandwidth of this discussion so far and shows no sign of either stopping or learning?

  49. 49
    MalcolmT says:

    Re #9, ABC TV Climate change programme:
    Here are some other bloggers’ comments and a priceless clip of Oreskes demolishing Minchin which was cut from the programme but posted to Youtube. http://malcolmtattersall.com.au/wp/2012/04/science-entertainment-or-misinformation/#comment-750

  50. 50
    MMM says:

    “No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.”

    Well… depends on what you define as a “climate model”. The MIT IGSM has a module that has methane release estimates from northern tundra.


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