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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. 51
    Ammonite says:

    Sean #9 “I can change your mind about Climate Change”

    The show left me with the impression that the protagonists had negligible understanding of the details of the science. Nick Minchin parroted zombie arguments from beginning to end. In the main, it was not apparent that AGW-concerned Anna Rose understood where the fallacies lay in Nick’s points, though to be fair most discussion of the science ended on the cutting room floor. Scientific content rarely reached the level of anaemic.

    What the show did serve was to illuminate the manner in which the general population makes decisions when ignorant, incapable or lacking time to understanding a complex scientific investigation. They fall back on what has served them in other situations – political ideology, religious thought, optimism/pessimism, peer response, gut reaction, suspicion of manipulation, impassioned appeal… My mother is a firm believer in AGW and has the science wrong on every point. My boss is deeply suspicious, applying elements of chaos theory and economic thinking to arrive at a position unsupportable by current data.

    +3C, lock it in.

  2. 52
    Ray Ladbury says:

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

    Do tell, Dan. And where would this “real scientific world” be located? Certainly not that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Certainly not that it has been warming? Near certainly (e.g. 90% confidence) not that doubling CO2 will increase temperatures between 2 and 4.5 degrees. None of these things are open to serious debate among reasonable scientists. And much more is pretty certain–that we are seeing increasing severe weather and drought, that ice is melting at a prodigious rate, that oceans are acidifying…

    There is lots of lively and interesting debate in climate science. WRT climate change, the only open question seems to be just how bad things will get.

  3. 53
    Charles says:

    Can someone convince me that Dan H. is not a troll and is worth the time? Am I missing something? I have to agree with SecularAnimist here: send his stuff to the Bore Hole. People have patiently engaged him for months and yet he still persistently posts stuff that is mostly nonsense while also failing to engage others meaningfully and responsively.

  4. 54
    Waldo says:

    Hello, have been talking with some of our friends over a Climate Skeptic and one posted this little bon-bon: “A 1-2% change in average global cloud cover, caused say by chaotic atmospheric circulation changes, could potentially explain all of the global warming since 1950.”

    He believes he took this paraphrase from Roy Spencer’s website. I was wondering what the actual science community would say to this.

    Thanks, W.

  5. 55
    DSL says:

    Research Question: Dan H, have you actually learned anything from responses to your comments over the years? Or do you actually ignore everything, as the evidence strongly suggests? If you have learned anything, could I get some evidence, because you seem remarkably similar to a brick wall with a bunch of sciency stuff written on it in permanent spray-paint. I just keep imagining a world in which you actually engaged to learn, a world in which your understanding began to take more and more of the science into account, a world in which your questions became better and better, a world where people enjoyed responding to you (and not with a sadistic sort of pleasure). In short, a happier world.

    Your comments are an open book on a closed mind.

  6. 56
    Thomas says:

    dhogaza “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 …”
    I guess that depends upon what we think the subject (of matter to) is. Clearly if we are thinking about a good faith attempt to ascertain the condition of the natural world, your dismissal is correct. If we are discussing the probable future course of public opinion, then all the debate points, both good, bad, and atrocious come into play.

  7. 57
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Jesús R. — 2 May 2012 @ 2:22 PM re NaOH CCS

    From Stolaroff, Keith & Lowry 2008. Carbon dioxide capture from atmospheric air using sodium hydroxide spray. Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Apr 15;42(8):2728-35.
    “The cost of CO2 capture using NaOH spray (excluding solution recovery and CO2 sequestration, which may be comparable) in the full-scale system is 96 $/ton-CO2 in the base case…”

    1 mole of NaOH weighs ~40 g; 1 mole of CO2 is ~44g – so it takes ~1.8 tonnes of sodium hydroxide to sequester 1 ton of CO2(2 NaOH + CO2 → Na2CO3 + H2O). Googling around a bit, it seems that NaOH costs about $125 per ton in bulk – yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/953CCBEB820F0470852577920076316D/$File/NaOH+Practicality+Study.pdf. I would say ~$200/ton to (re)generate NaOH, not including CO2 sequestration costs, isn’t exactly “comparable”, unless one means you can compare the costs and come to the conclusion that “solution recovery and CO2 sequestration” costs make the process prohibitively expensive.

  8. 58
    David says:

    Yvan Dutil re: Svensmark Paper…
    Thank you for your reply.

  9. 59
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    RE: Global temperature signal & real warming

    In Foster & Rahmstorf ( http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022/pdf/1748-9326_6_4_044022.pdf ), the authors neatly remove various short term influences on global temperature, so the trend becomes very clear.

    Still they do not end up with a smooth signal, there is a lot of noise, and for example in their fig. 8, the measured temperature goes down from 1999 to 2001, by 0.1 deg.

    How can this be? Because of the large inertias involved I would think that the real global temperature MUST be smooth. Is this the case, or can (say) a change in heat transport from sea to air cause so much cooling of the atmosphere in a particular year?

    (Not that it does us any good of course, it does not change the larger pipcture one bit. Even 1 year average weather is not climate.)

    [Response: there is no requirement for perfect smoothness at the annual mean level. ENSO is certainly not the only ‘weather’ element that can cause differences of the mean (though it is the biggest). – gavin]

  10. 60
    Rob Sidelong says:

    It seems that Dan H. and his comments are becoming a text book case in the development of a consensus within the climate science community, or the community on this site at any rate. Keep commenting Dan H. and watch the consensus develop.

  11. 61
    Dan H. says:

    Ray,
    You say you are a physicist. Then how can you not see the debate that is currently raging within the American Physics Society. The APS statement on climate change mentions that natural forcings, as well as manmade have contributed to the observed warming, and the climate sensitivity range is 1-3 C/doubling. You state a near certainty that it is 2-4.5. Some members of the APS resigned in protest, because they thought this was too high. Maybe MARogers is one of them, as he mentions climate sensitivities of less than 1, or possibly negative. Granted, there are some publications that have argued for these very low sensitivites, but they seem to be in the vast minority.

    What arguement(s) can you present for your higher sensitivity range?

    [Response: Oh please. You say that you are against argument from authority, yet you quote (again) an unsourced (and misleading) statement from the APS like it was gospel. You pretend you haven’t read or seen the mainstream arguments for climate sensitivity despite having participated on multiple threads discussing exactly that. Enough is enough. Either engage in actual dialog or go somewhere else. – gavin]

    [Update: The APS statement makes no such claim (h/t MarkB). The 1-3 deg C is the uncertainty in the sensitivity, not the sensitivity itself! – gavin]

  12. 62
    Relucticant says:

    While I do not share Dan H.’s views on climate change, I do feel that there is some merrit to the ‘appeal to authority’ argument of his. Defence of ‘authority’ is shaky, unless someone claims there is great controversy, but that itself is, in a way, an ‘appeal to authority’.
    Scientific data, in the end, should be discussed, the rest is irrelevant. Justification of ‘appeal to authority’ rests mostly constrained situations e.g. I do not have time to figure it out myself so I will follow Dyson or 98% of the climate scientists. But in such a case one should forfeit mentioning arguments made by the authority, as they are not the determinant of your decision.

  13. 63
    Icarus says:

    Some of the more plausible-sounding objections to AGW involve arguing that the warming of the last century or so can be wholly or largely attributed to unforced natural variability (Spencer makes this argument, IIRC). What’s the best evidence we have for quantifying unforced natural variability, and distinguishing it from changes due to external forcings? Cheers…

    [Response: Internal variability is invariably associated with dynamical changes that move heat around (and that can have a small net residual warming or cooling effect). The uptake of heat in the ocean doesn’t fit any of the modes of internal variability and implies that there has been a large (and increasing) net heat input into the system over multiple decades. Since the time-scales for variability on that scale reside in the ocean (not in the atmosphere), you would have the bizarre circumstance of warming ocean causing a net heat input into the system – which would clearly be unstable. Instead, the warming of the ocean implies that there has been a shift in the radiative balance – and that shift is dominated by the increase of greenhouse gases, whose radiative impact can be clearly seen in stratospheric cooling that has accompanied all of this. – gavin]

  14. 64
    Louise Doughty says:

    Thought this might be of interest to some people here. Records go back to 1393! (that’s not a typo!) ‘The first cygnet of the year at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset is the earliest since records began in 1393.’Was this in the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ :-)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-17797371

  15. 65
    MARodger says:

    Charles @52
    Whether Dan H. is a troll or not depends on how much troll-like behaviour is acceptable. A fair amount of his behaviour here is certainly troll-like but not all.
    As an example, his reference to me within his comment @60 has all the symptoms of a troll. Yet the substance of his comment @60 is a response to Ray @51. It is of course a poor response as it is nonsense to suggest that “…the debate that is currently raging within the American Physics Society” is in any way science-based, significant or for that matter ‘within the APS’, although the ruccus does still carry on (e.g. in the press.).
    Indeed, it is very questionable whether the reactions of the denialist APS members could ever have been considered as science or as significant if the likes of William Happer’s grasp of AGW science ( or should I say ‘lack of grasp’ ) is representative of their position, he being one of the ‘petitioners’.

    For the record, I do not see the contributions of Dan H. as being positive for the RealClimate site & would myself terminate them.

  16. 66
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H.,
    I see no big debate in the physics community. The overwhelming majority of physicists accept the summary of the consensus represented by the IPCC. There are a few loudmouths sounding off and trying to grab attention and sympathy from the membership of APS, but they haven’t gotten anywhere.

    As to the range quoted in the APS declarification, it is pretty clear that the writers of the summary (none of whom have any special expertise in climate science) simply got it wrong. I am currently looking into how this happened.

    As to the currently accepted 90% CI for climate sensitivity, perhaps the best quasi-layman summary is the Nature Geo paper by Knutti and Hegerl. This site gives a pretty throrough summary of research on the subject:
    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/papers-on-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

    The overwhelming majority of papers fall within the 90% CI. The basic reason for this is that it is virtually impossible to get an Earthlike climate with a low (<2 degrees per doubling). There are several independent lines of evidence that are all telling you the same thing here. It's not a matter of tweaking a parameter or two in a model and Earth emerges despite low sensitivity.

    Ironically, given the way denialists decry climate models, it is the models that provide some of the most effective constaints on the high end of climate sensitivity. However, they also put a pretty good clamp on probability below 2 degrees C.

  17. 67
    SecularAnimist says:

    Gavin replied to Dan H: “You pretend …”

    That says it all.

  18. 68
    Susan Anderson says:

    Sean @9:

    It appears I was too hasty in reading your comment about the ABC piece (a more complete version than that which was aired which included Naomi Oreskes), and misconstrued your position. I hope a late apology is better than none. It is a frightful bore going over the same arguments hundreds and thousands of times; my impression of it was different from your laundry list of stale arguments.

    re Dan H.

    A simple count of responses to Dan H in this and other threads seems to me to support the conclusion that (a) people’s time is being wasted going over the same material over and over, and (b) he is being trained in how to be clever with his arguments.

    Svensmark seems to be appearing everywhere, the latest unskeptic fashion – if he’s not mentioned, that means people aren’t doing their homework?! Go figure. (anything complicated but nothing useful)

  19. 69
    Icarus says:

    Gavin: Many thanks for the answer about internal variability – that makes sense to me.

  20. 70
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ t marvell — 1 May 2012 @ 4:57 PM
    “Consistent with hypothesized relationships, people classified as Intuitive earned higher KAIT Composite IQs than those classified as Sensing.” http://asm.sagepub.com/content/3/3/225.short – S vs N is the biggest difference found by http://www.springerlink.com/content/m805153k11856103/ , and it’s not a surprise that Phd’s in a complex and difficult discipline would differ from the general population.
    (what Gavin said, but with a reference &;>)

  21. 71
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Relucticant,
    Appeal to authority is NOT in and of itself a fallacy. The fallacy of appeal to authority occurs when the said authority is not an expert on the question being considered. We would not consult Stephen Hawking on jumpshot technique, for instance.

    The fact of the matter is that an expert’s opinion of the evidence is more likely to have value than that of a layman. Appealing to valid authority is a perfectly valid technique in rhetoric.

  22. 72
    robert says:

    Late to the discussion, but I’m motivated to attempt a more succinct rebuttal to Dan H.’s (#4) perennial “appeal to authority” argument that is so frequently misapplied by his tribe. As it turns out, things have change considerably since the ancient Greeks dominated our understanding of nature.

    In modern times, citing of massive consensus of the scientific community is not an appeal to authority; rather, it is an appeal the very “research and data” he claims to cherish. It is an appeal to observation and analysis that has withstood the rigors of the modern scientific enterprise. Conversely, citing a single scientist — Richard Lindzen, say — is an appeal to authority. This is the beauty of our modern enterprise of science: it doesn’t rely on the interpretations or opinions of any single researcher, but rather the obserations and interpretations of entire communities of researchers, whose attempts to reproduce, verify and build upon each other’s work drives our progress of knowledge.

  23. 73
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a poor response as it is nonsense

    The very definition! Flame him, call names, and by definition, you’re hooked. Read the FAQ, grasshopper

    “The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it…. categorized by containing some assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial.”.

    Any true believer will be perceived as trolling though he sees himself as restating the truth in hope his sincere witness is seen by new readers, no matter how much he suffers the abuse of those who will not see his truth.

    A trolling campaign will, while successful, not be recognized, and some of its members will be pretending to attack not defend the lead writer.

    A Turing Test has much in common with trolling.

  24. 74
    robert says:

    Relucticant (#61): Dan H’s “appeal to authority” argument is misapplied. Citing the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community is not an appeal to authority — it is an “appeal to the conclusions of a rather large expert community.”

    Scientific data, as you request,is discussed — by the rather large expert community. But detailed discussion of this data among the lay public is pointless. We have expert communities because they are needed. Can you imagine Ed Witten and Steven Weinberg having a detailed discussion of the ins and outs of string theory with the lay public (policymakers, the Heartland Institute, your skeptical uncle)? An “appeal to the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community” is entirely appropriate for complex topics, and is not equivalent to an “appeal to authority” as envisaged by our beleaguered Dan H.

  25. 75
    CRV9 says:

    The way I see it is this. I always try to make it simple as possible and basics.
    To me it’s how much heat/energy the earth gets from sun and how much heat/energy of the warmed up surface would radiate/disipate out to space. Rest stays in/on the earth or be delayed to dispate/radiate out. There is one question in my mind though. To dispate, it has to radiate out because space is vacuum so it can’t be by conduction? I don’t know.
    To me it doesn’t really matter in what form the energy stay around here. Of course it may matter in terms of temperature rise or climate change but that’s beyond me.

    As for wind farms, I don’t know how they would affect locally but it is using winds (kenetic energy of air?) which is the part of the energy ataying around in the atomsphere? So isn’t that kind of the same as renewable energy, like growing corn or suger cane and use their carbon?
    Am I too simplistic, of course?

  26. 76
    MarkB says:

    DanH writes:

    “The APS statement on climate change mentions that natural forcings, as well as manmade have contributed to the observed warming, and the climate sensitivity range is 1-3 C/doubling. You state a near certainty that it is 2-4.5.”

    Here is the APS statement on climate change and commentary.

    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    1-3 C range is not a climate sensitivity estimate itself but the range of the uncertainty. 2-4.5 would have a range of 2.5, consistent with this.

    The APS statement says nothing about natural contributions to observed warming.

    Some APS members don’t like the statement, and they’ve spent a few years gathing signatures protesting it. They constitute less than 1 percent of APS membership. I would not call that much of a “raging debate”, just a few loud fringe individuals shouting from the rooftops to a receptive portion of the public who want to believe there’s a raging debate.

    DanH, some useful discussion

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/why-are-we-sure-were-right-2.html

    Less noise, DanH. More signal.

    [Response: Oh my! I read the APS statement completely incorrectly too. Let that be a lesson to me! I should have simply relied on by Bayesian priors related to the veracity of anything Dan H says. … I will correct my previous statements to be clearer. – gavin]

  27. 77
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    Ray, you don’t “say” you are a physicist. You ARE a physicist. Unlike some, I have looked at your bio and seen that you have both and undergrad degree and PhD in physics. I too have an undergrad degree in physics, which I received a year after you joined NASA GSFC Radiation Effects Group. Unlike you, I didn’t continue my education and my career has been in a (somewhat) related field of computer science. Unlike you, I am not willing to post my real name here because I fear political vitriol. From one (trained) physicist to another (working) and much better trained physicist, I say thank you.

    This thanks extends to the RC contributors and all the working scientists who are posting here, many with their real names, and helping us to learn about climate science. You all stand in front of metaphorical bullets every day, and I for one am grateful. I hope you all know that there are reasonable people out there, with scientific backgrounds, learning from your efforts here and elsewhere. I imagine many are learning, but never commenting. I hope that by us learning, and having calm and rational discussions with those in our common lives about this subject serve to thicken your metaphorical kevlar vests. Thanks to Gavin, Archer, Rasmus, Eric, Chris, Mike, Ray, Hank, and the late Stephen Schneider who was the first guy I began to learn from via online videos. If I didn’t mention someone’s name, it’s only because I am writing this from the train (slow connection) and am tired. If you’re a contributing scientist, you’re included in this public thanks.

  28. 78
    Dan H. says:

    Ray and Robert,
    The appeal to authority, or argumentum ad verecundiam, can take on many forms. W.T. Parry has an excellent summary in his book, Aristotelian Logic, where he lists four criteria for acceptance of an expert opinion, the failure to meet any one of them results in an illicit appeal to authority.
    The first criterion states that the authority must be an expert on the subject (post #72); that is not the case here (although this argument has been used to discredit Monckton, Gore, etc.). The second is objectivity. I see no reason why this may not be met (I presume Crichton and Cameron are out). The third is accurate context or quotation. The use of the Doran survey fails on this matter, as extending affirmative responses to the survey questions does not constitute acceptance of AGW theory. The claims are being made out of context. The fourth concerns the probable accuracy of the authority, or overestimate of authority. Most of the evidence for “consensus” presented here consists of small groups of similar thinking, being representative of a larger community. Had the previous statement, “the overwhelming consensus of a rather large expert community,” been true, then this condition would have been satisfied. A disputed or unconfirmed authority is a condition for failure.

    Currently, the conditions are not being met. That is not to say that they will not be met in the future.

    [Response: You are fooling yourself. Where are these hordes of silent sceptics you imagine? where are their posters at AGU? EGU? their papers on arxiv? why don’t they respond to any of the credible surveys on scientific opinion within the field? Are they just shy? They are the climate science fairies at the bottom of your garden. – gavin]

  29. 79
    Dan H. says:

    Gavin,
    My apologies. If the statement was meant to be read as MarkB states, then I admit my error. The wording is such that it could be interpreted either way, and I have requested a clarification from APS. There is no mention of a climate sensitivity of 2-4.5 in the statement. Natural contributions are mentioned several times in the statement.

  30. 80
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “Currently, the conditions are not being met.”

    Currently, you are posting incoherent, irrelevant nonsense and blatant falsehoods in yet another attempt to waste people’s time with stupid bullshit.

  31. 81
    dhogaza says:

    I should have simply relied on by Bayesian priors related to the veracity of anything Dan H says

    How about a bayesian filter that just chucks Dan H to the borehole automatically?

  32. 82
    MarkB says:

    DanH writes

    “Natural contributions are mentioned several times in the statement.”

    DanH, your claim was that “natural forcings…contributed to the observed warming”. Again, this is not in the APS statement.

    I do think the statement on uncertainty in climate sensitivity is ambiguous, but not in the way you imagine. Likely in the interests of brevity, we aren’t given a clear definition of “uncertainty” in model estimates. My best interpretation, based on what I understand of the models, 1 C might be 1 sigma, 3 C being 2 sigma with the long tail extending to the right. Mentioning the uncertainty estimates in the models without mentioning the best estimate and estimated range of climate sensitivity is less than ideal, and could cause confusion on a hasty reading when one has been lead to believe the 1-3 C means something different. It’s not difficult to look it up, though.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/working-out-climate-sensitivity.html

    If some blog or other source has mislead you, DanH, you should go back to the source and correct them. The interaction here is a lesson in how contrarians can fool people just by changing a few words or putting forth seemingly innocent but wrong assumptions.

    The existence of general consensus is a product of the evidence. The claims of the small minority don’t stand up to basic or rigorous scrutiny.

  33. 83
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/

    “… Growth is then the basis for interest rates, loans, and the finance industry.
    … growth is central to our narrative of who we are and what we do. We therefore have a difficult time imagining a different trajectory.
    This post provides a striking example of the impossibility of continued growth at current rates—even within familiar timescales….”

    Hat tip to: Casaubon’s Book

  34. 84
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CRV9,
    I think that is basically correct. It is Energy_in – Energy_out, and how the system responds to this quantity being nonzero.

    WRT windfarms, I understand the result as being the conversion of wind energy, which transits a region, to mechanical and electrical energy, which warm the area around the turbines. I don’t think the result is significant.

  35. 85
    Jim Larsen says:

    58 Dick asks, “How can this be? Because of the large inertias involved I would think that the real global temperature MUST be smooth.”

    Sure, that’s reasonable. A non-scientist, I think of it as such: There are a million(random number) different things moving the theoretically smooth increase in temperature both up and down. Remove the dominant one, say ENSO, and that leaves 999,999 smaller things. Remove volcanoes and solar, and you’ve still got 999,997. Once you work your way down enough, the remaining influences will be smaller than the errors involved in the ones you did take account of. As science and monitoring improves, the “CO2-only” temperature plot will get smoother and smoother, but it will never become a trend line, so to speak. This is complicated further in that many things are both forcing and feedback.

    F&R2011 showed that by backing out a mere 3 things, the resulting temperature plot is clear enough to show CO2s effects in a dominant fashion even in a decade such as the 2000s.

    This begs the question, “Are errors the dominant reason F&R2011’s plot isn’t straight, or is the next biggest “natural” factor the big spoiler?” I look forward to seeing the next paper to further this line of work.

    Also, since CO2 has a big annual cycle, I’d like to see an analysis that tracks temperature differences seasonally. I wish GISS (and others) would provide an average at the end of their series, so we could see how January usually stacks up compared to July, for example. Take that, back out the elliptical orbit of the Earth and a few other things, and you’d get another way to compliment F&R’s work.

  36. 86
    Brian Dodge says:

    “…as extending affirmative responses to the survey questions does not constitute acceptance of AGW theory.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Q – “have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels” A – “yes” (90 percent – Perhaps that should be “F&*^K YES!”) Which pretty well nails the “GW” part.
    Q – “has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.” A – “yes” – Only a weak 86 percent “YES” for all scientists, but 97% of climatologists – “human activity” correlates pretty well with “A” for Anthropogenic.

    If you get your view from skeptic sites like http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2672039/posts

    “The major problem with this study is the second question. It is not phrased properly. In fact, the phrasing is so poor that I consider the entire study flawed because of it. There are multiple problems with the phrasing, so let me break them down.

    1. The phrase “human activity”

    Human activity comprises numerous actions which can affect the climate other than greenhouse gases. Agricultural changes and deforestation are two influences that come to mind. Now, any respondent who believes that ANY human activity can change the climate must answer yes to this question.

    A better phrasing would be:

    Do you think anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    – you might believe what DanH says about “constituting acceptance” of AGW.

    If you go to the science instead of the spin doctors, you might find that –

    “Asked what they ‘consider[ed] to be the most compelling argument’ for their position, over 70% of those who thought human activity ‘a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures’ nominated ‘CO2’. Of the relatively small number who thought human activity not ‘a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures’, over 50% nominated ‘natural climate cycles’ and nearly 30% said ‘increased solar output’ (Zimmerman 2008, 27-28).” Clearly, thirty percent of skeptics aren’t paying attention.

  37. 87

    #84–

    “I wish GISS (and others) would provide an average at the end of their series, so we could see how January usually stacks up compared to July, for example. Take that, back out the elliptical orbit of the Earth and a few other things, and you’d get another way to compliment F&R’s work.”

    It’s pretty easy to do this for yourself. The data is online–I don’t have the link handy, but I think it’s on the sidebar here, and if not, then there’s a pretty prominent link at Tamino’s “Open Mind” blog. Download into Excel or whatever you prefer, then have at the data. I have rather weak chops with spreadsheets and I’ve still done this for more or less similar analyses in under an hour.

    Let us know what you find out!

    (BTW, a small irony is that that is the way sea ice data is always presented–Jan to Jan, June to June. For that data, you might have to do a download-and-spreadsheet number to get the annual means.)

  38. 88

    #85–Thanks! I’d add that it’s pretty outstandingly naive to think that the top experts in any given field need more context…

  39. 89
    guthrie says:

    The obvious thing to do with Dan H is to play tag. Only one person can answer his screeds, until they say ‘tag’ at which point someone else can answer, perhaps the first person to see the tag and wish to answer Dan.
    That way we might keep the signal to noise ratio down.

  40. 90
    Lucy Lacie says:

    someone told me to post my question here but im not sure if this is the right place. if not… sorry!

    What are some careers that have to do with global warming and the environment?
    im only a sophomore in highschool but i really want to do something with the environment when i grow up. im passionate about global warming and trying to reverse its effects. In chemistry, we had a unit where we studied climate change and environmental protection and i really liked it. What are some examples of jobs that i could do after college? what about a major in college? thank you!

  41. 91
    Hank Roberts says:

    > wording is such that it could be interpreted either way

    Misread and misinterpreted by you, Dan. H.

  42. 92
    CRV9 says:

    Since I am a gullible public layman, I’d like to interject.
    I usually look at things and simplify it to basics. Isn’t it that energy the earth gets from Sun and heat/energy radiating/dissipating out to space, the net energy that stays/delayed to stay around because of greenhouse gases is all that matters? It doesn’t really matter in what form the energy is, as long as they’re here on earth? It eventually works/affects itself out?
    There is one question in my mind though. It only radiate/dissipate out to space because space is empty vacuum so heat can’t dissipate out by conduction?
    The way I look at this wind farms is that they are using energy/kenetic energy of air/winds which is the part of energy/heat we receive from Sun, to harness energy. So is it kind of the same as renewable energy like corn or suger cane? You grow them to gather carbon from nature and reuse them? I really don’t know how it would affect locally though. Am I too simplisitc?

  43. 93
    Susan Anderson says:

    Lucy Lacie, I am looking forward to the responses you are going to get. I apologize for butting in without answering your query; I am probably one of the less scientifically qualified here, though not delusional like some. It is important to stick with what you know and read carefully – lots of people will be eager to help you.

    Meanwhile, you might enjoy the blog of a youngster who started out not much older than you and is now an undergraduate and still brilliant, a bit intimidating … don’t let it stop you!

    http://climatesight.org/
    her bio at the site:

    Kate is a B.Sc. student and aspiring climatologist from the Canadian prairies. She started writing this blog when she was sixteen, simply to keep herself sane, but hopes that she’ll be able to spread accurate information about climate change far and wide while she does so.

    Nice tabs at the top over there.

    Also, you might enjoy Earth Observatory and water vapor animations:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/index.php
    http://weather.unisys.com/satellite/sat_wv_hem_loop-12.gif
    http://synoptic.envsci.rutgers.edu/site/sat/sat.php?sat=nhem&url=../imgs/wv_nhem_anim.gif
    (this last – look at menu at top – animation a bit too fast but still – fascinating from the POV of the North Pole)

  44. 94
    tamino says:

    Re: #89 (Lucy Lacie)

    This is the right place to ask.

    If you’re interested in the science, there are careers as a scientist. You could become an actual climate scientist, in which case studying physics, or geophysics, or chemistry in college would be a good way to go. You could become an environmental scientist, in which case biology, or chemistry, ecology, or even environmental science. You might be especially interested in the oceans, in which case marine biology or oceanography.

    Alternatively, you might want to focus on getting society and government actually to *do* something. In that case, political science, perhaps journalism or communications, maybe even law (the planet needs some damn good lawyers right now).

    There are also groups and organizations where the young can learn more and volunteer their efforts to do worthwhile things even before they finish their education.

    Your question reminds me of a young lady whose blog I found by accident a few years ago. She was a high school student interested in global warming. Now she’s a college student studying to be a climate scientist. And she’s a class act. You could visit her blog and ask the same question — I’ll bet she would have excellent advice to offer. It’s here:

    http://climatesight.org/

    Her name is Kate, and she’s one of my heroes. Maybe soon, you will be too.

    P.S. for all the crusty old farts like me: Relevant to this thread, if any of your are doubting whether our efforts are worthwhile, you just got taken to school.

  45. 95
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    Lucy Lacie,

    The directions you could follow are near limitless. If you want to deal specifically with climate change and environmental protection, a career path might include advocacy, in which you would be playing a political role trying to breach the gap between the general public and politicians and the scientific researchers and engineers who are studying the mechanisms and building tools. My suggestion if this is more along the lines of what you are thinking is the same as if you want to go on to do scientific research… study science in college. If you’re a people person, enjoy lively (but honest) debate, having a degree in science not only will lend credibility to you, but more importantly it will give you the foundational understanding of at least one field of science and firm grasp of the lexicon used. For example, you won’t think it nefarious when you see two nerds use the word “trick” to describe a neat solution to a problem, but again, more importantly you’ll be better able to digest the discussions in scientific research. If this is the path you seek, studying science at a Liberal Arts school maybe your best bet. Your education will not be as science focused as it would be a large technical university; the core cirriculum will likley force you study a certain amount of humanities and social studies in addition to your major. This will be of great benefit if you plan to be a science writer, speaker or work in public policy.

    If you want to be involved the science work of climate change my take on it is to not think of it as climate change, but just climate. Studying the world is just plain fascinating. There is no end to your continuing discovery if you approach science with an open mind. Chemistry as you brought up is one of many general fields of science that apply, atmospheric chemistry being a prime example. Physics, of course, also applies. Just look at how many scientists involved have physics degrees or -physics attached to their fields like geophysics, atmospheric physics, etc. What’s cool about planetary science is that it just doesn’t happen here, it happens on every planet. Astronomers play a role in our understanding of what’s going on here, we’ve learned about how planets evolve through the study of our neighbors in the solar system.

    Aeronautics engineers are crucial, our satelites provide us with a much deeper understanding. Not just in providing us with complete global observations, but understanding how the measurements work, such as fixing the error with orbital decay that threw off temperature measurements initially. It would be fair to say that satelites are responsible for making the 5 day forecast as accurate as the 1 day forecast used to be.

    Nearly all fields of science can be applied to problem of climate change. Study biology, get into genetics and find ways to improve our crops so they are better yeilding on the same amount of land. Check out Norman Borlaug’s “dwarf wheat” for an example of how GM food can save a billion lives from the darkness of starvation.

    Mathematics applies to pretty much everything. If you get a degree in math you’ll have filled your toolbox with the basic hammers, saws and screwdrivers used throughout every field of inquiry. From there you can learn how to the “powertools” if you choose to continue forward in that direction.

    Finally, you’re just a sophomore, you probably still have 4 years before you even need to choose a major. The key thing to remember is to always be curious. This world is enormous and fascinating. There is no end to learning for an open mind seeking discovery and understanding. For inspiration, check out some youtube videos starring the likes of Richard Feynman (nearly every scientist’s hero), or Neil deGrasse Tyson.

  46. 96
    Dan H. says:

    Lucy,
    I was going to return and enter a rather in depht post, but I see that Unsettled has covered that. Another potential career is in environmental chemistry. While this may pull you further from global warming, the carrer options are broader. There are many paths from which to choose, but I would recommend focusing on what you enjoy most and your talents lie.

  47. 97
    Chris Colose says:

    Lucy Lacie, this is the right place to ask:

    I’m a graduate student in atmospheric sciences and I’d be happy to chat with you about my undergrad experiences. Of course, you may well change your mind about what interests you at this stage in your life (I did a couple times in late high school and early college before deciding to get into an atmospheric science program. Within a few years I suspect you will be exposed to things you never knew even existed as careers, but I like that you are being introduced to some background material in climate right now; I suspect other high schools could take a lesson from your program).

    If you do end up deciding to go into science as you enter college, my suggestion is to build up your math and physics background once you get that option (or even choose those electives in high school, and first two years of college). It might sound difficult, but it’s really not that bad once you dive into it, and it will give you tremendous flexibility to branch off into virtually any area in science that you like. Most of the time you won’t really have to choose what you want to do until your third year in college (at least in the U.S.) but you need to develop the core background in your first two years.

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    what tamino said.
    !

  49. 99
    ozajh says:

    Ammonite #51 et al,

    One very important point for non-Australians is that the Australian Liberal Party is the main RIGHT-wing party, in coalition with the Country Party. US folks can think of Nick Minchin as somewhat equivalent to a Republican ex-Senator.

    Australia also has a MASSIVE coal export trade, mostly to Japan and China, and some people who have made fortunes out of coal (and iron ore, for that matter) mining actively fund denialism here.

  50. 100
    Meow says:

    ENSO conditions are now neutral.


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