Unforced Varations: Aug 2012

Once more with feeling…

571 comments on this post.
  1. J Bowers:

    The latest PIOMAS.

  2. Pete Dunkelberg:

    SciAm overrates mangroves?

  3. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Temperatures of the instrumental period graphed easily by Kevin C.

  4. DrTskoul:

    MODIS Composite with ARC thickness coloring

  5. David B. Benson:

    Pete Dunkelberg @2 — I found the piece well balanced. The problem is there simply is not enough suitable coastline to make much of a CO2 impact. For the requisite scale, read
    Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming
    wherein the link to the full paper is free for everybody.

  6. Brian Dodge:

    Re BEST/WUWT kerfuffle –

    http://www.internationalclownweek.org/ – “Our purpose is to celebrate, promote, and inform on International Clown Week, the First week in August, every year.” Ah, NOW I understand.

  7. don gisselbeck:

    Professor Muller was interviewed on Democracy Now today http://m.democracynow.org/stories/12971 . Congratulations to him for catching up to late 20th century climate science and the data analysis skills of a good dozen bloggers. He sounded like one of those people who show up on a backcountry ski trip and start lecturing the guide about avalanches. I can’t imagine him finding this classic funny; http://xkcd.com/793/

  8. Chris Colose:

    While we’re all posting links, I’ll post my own article on the water vapor feedback…enjoy

  9. Kevin C:

    Pete Dunkelberg: Thanks! I couldn’t have done it without Caerbannog’s clear description of the common anomaly method, which I think he got from one of Tamino’s lost posts.

    65 lines of code can probably be beaten though. May I suggest a competition?

    (Suggested rules: Any language. Using purpose-built libraries, such as Steve Mosher’s R library, is cheating. General purpose libraries such as SciPy are fine. Special category for long-dead languages such as APL or 6502.)

  10. Pete Best:


    Is Muller characterising Mann unfairly where he is mentioned in ths Democracy Now video or is he just a Professor who went to the press first and awaits peer review second for some other reason? Is he following te right way of doing science here.

    Although he now appears to accept Global Warming as fact where he did not before and his BEST study uses data going back to the 1750s and involves statistical techniques deployed by Saul Permutter (Universe expansing physcist) and others he is still questioning wether certain weather events can be attributed to ACC/AGW at all!? I have seen recently that some papers and comments here and other places have stated that the odds of the European 2003 heatwave and the 2010 Russian one were statistically more likely with 100 ppmv of C02 added to the atmosphere than before it was so is Muller still stalling here?

    Its all damm intruiging but where does climate science stand on this work and claims please

    [Response:By my count, Muller told at least 8 fibs in that interview (including false statements he made about me and my work). Please see either my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MichaelMannScientist) or twitter feed (@MichaelEMann) for further details. Thanks. –mike]

  11. Kevin C:

    The BEST team have posted a temperature reconstruction for Antarctica:
    (Unfortunately no gridded data, but someone with MATLAB-fu might be able to generate one.)

    How does this compare with the Steig and O’Donnel results?

    [Response:The mean trends are directly comparable to Steig et al, and about twice that of O’Donnell et al. That’s satisfying to me of course, but it would be interesting to know whether they have any additional data we didn’t have; if not, then I wouldn’t put much weight on it. In any case, O’Donnell et al. has already been shown to be quite wrong, by independent borehole T data — see the brief write-up we did, here.–eric

  12. Icarus62:

    Suppose we decide that the only safe target for atmospheric CO2 is 280ppm – the pre-industrial level. We aim to sequester the existing ~110ppm of additional CO2, plus whatever we produce from industry, transport etc. in coming decades, plus whatever comes out of the warming oceans and other carbon sinks. Basically we want to recover all of the ~1.2 trillion tons of CO2 we’ve put into the atmosphere in the last 250 years.

    My question is: Do the laws of physics dictate that this process requires as much energy to achieve it as we gained by burning all that carbon in the first place? Are there ways to ‘cheat’ and convert the CO2 into some kind of stable form using far less energy than we gained during its production? I know that the biosphere can help us, as it already has done, by using photosynthesis to draw down CO2, but if we’re going to encourage that, we still have to convert the biomass to some inert form (biochar?) to stop it decomposing and returning the carbon to the atmosphere. Presumably harvesting and processing that biomass will require considerable energy in itself.

    What’s likely to be the least energy-intensive way of recovering a large amount of CO2 from the atmosphere?

  13. Kevin McKinney:

    A promised update: my “summary review” article on “The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars” is once again available; apologies to any who may have gone looking while it was in limbo. (It got yanked as a ‘duplicate’ by the publisher, due to an unauthorized (and unattributed) repost. But now, though the repost remains, the original is ‘certified original,’ and back up online.)

    Enough of that–link:


  14. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Keven C @ 9
    “65 lines of code can probably be beaten though.”

    Clearly, since much of it is comments. But that’s a good thing.

    I think this should become a whole separate post at Skeptical Science.

    David Benson @5, thanks for that input.

    don gisselbeck @7 and all, also see this remark by cro magnon at tamino’s

    I don’t know what’s up with Muller but the matter bears watching.

  15. Chris Dudley:

    Andy Revkin pointed me to this article linking very high sea surface temperatures in 2010 to the heatwave and flooding in Urasia that year.

    Climate extremes and climate change: The Russian Heat Wave and other Climate Extremes of 2010 by Kevin E Trenberth and John Fasullo


    A global perspective is developed on a number of high impact climate extremes in 2010 through diagnostic studies of the anomalies, diabatic heating, and global energy and water cycles that demonstrate relationships among variables and across events. Natural variability, especially ENSO, and global warming from human influences together resulted in very high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in several places that played a vital role in subsequent developments. Record high SSTs in the Northern Indian Ocean in May 2010, the Gulf of Mexico in August 2010, the Caribbean in September 2010, and north of Australia in December 2010 provided a source of unusually abundant atmospheric moisture for nearby monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan, Colombia, and Queensland. The resulting anomalous diabatic heating in the northern Indian and tropical Atlantic Oceans altered the atmospheric circulation by forcing quasi-stationary Rossby waves and altering monsoons. The anomalous monsoonal circulations had direct links to higher latitudes: from Southeast Asia to southern Russia, and from Colombia to Brazil. Strong convection in the tropical Atlantic in northern summer 2010 was associated with a Rossby wavetrain that extended into Europe creating anomalous cyclonic conditions over the Mediterranean area while normal anticyclonic conditions shifted downstream where they likely interacted with an anomalously strong monsoon circulation, helping to support the persistent atmospheric anticyclonic regime. This set the stage for the “blocking” anticyclone and associated Russian heat wave and wild fires. Attribution is limited by shortcomings in models in replicating monsoons, teleconnections and blocking.

    Andy considers this evidence that attribution is not coming together. The success of the approach of Hansen et al. http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.1286 would seem to argue against that interpretation.

  16. Chris Dudley:

    Icarus62 #11,

    The brightness temperature of the night sky in Antarctica is low enough to allow carbon dioxide to be frozen out of the atmosphere using mirrors to shield from the ground temperature. So, hardly any energy is needed to remove carbon dioxide. But, it is unlikely to stay sable in that form for long enough.

  17. John E. Pearson:

    8 Chris: Thanks for that article.

  18. John E. Pearson:

    12 Icarus on sequestration:

    Google for Klaus Lackner. Geosequestration requires less energy than was obtained from the fossil fuels in the first place.


  19. John E. Pearson:

    10: There isn’t a right way of doing science that dictates when a scientist should report his results to the press. In the VAST majority of cases the press will not be interested in any case. Most journals do not send out press releases on new papers either. “High Profile” journals like Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, and a few others do, but mainly that isn’t done. There are far too many scientific papers published for them all to be of interest to the media. Indeed I believe that the majority of scientific papers aren’t even of interest to other scientists but I might be off a little on that.

  20. Hank Roberts:

    Comparing Muller on Forum with Muller on DN, the talking points do emerge rather starkly, don’t they?

    I suppose “clean fracking” is the replacement for “clean coal” from the talking point crafters.

    “Anything but the IPCC.”

  21. muoncounter:

    Anyone remember last year’s CLOUD kerfuffle?

    Update: The neutron monitor database at Oulu, Finland shows that cosmic ray counts have decreased ~12% since their peak in May-December, 2009. That’s a significant decrease; under the ‘it’s cosmic rays’ hypothesis, cloud fraction should be on its way down.

    It isn’t. Cloud fraction data are available in CSV form here. Compare, for example, July 2009 and July 2012. No statistically significant changes noted. Once again, with feeling: It’s not cosmic rays.

    I guess with all the other things deniers are busy backtracking on these days, this slipped through the cracks in their arguments.

  22. SecularAnimist:

    Icarus62 wrote: “What’s likely to be the least energy-intensive way of recovering a large amount of CO2 from the atmosphere?”

    Organic agriculture and reforestation.

  23. Anonymous Coward:

    @Icarus62 (#12),
    “Do the laws of physics dictate that this process requires as much energy to achieve it as we gained by burning all that carbon in the first place? Are there ways to ‘cheat’ and convert the CO2 into some kind of stable form using far less energy than we gained during its production?”
    There are chemical reactions which use up CO2. Strictly speaking, they don’t require energy (at naturally-occuring temperatures anyway). But getting the right naturally-occuring molecules in contact with atmospheric or oceanic CO2 (or its byproducts) would require energy in practice, as would producing molecules especially for the purpose. These reactions can also be slow.
    There’s lots of litterature on this and some geoengineering proposals are being looked at. Check “Urey reaction” for instance.

  24. trrll:

    Icarus62, the laws of physics tell us that if we sequester CO2 by converting it back into a reduced hydrocarbon, it will cost us as much energy (more, actually due to entropic cost) as we gained by burning it. But it does not prohibit us from sequestering the carbon in its oxidized form (i.e. as CO2). Alternatively, we could use solar energy to reduce the carbon and then store the biomass containing the reduced carbon compounds somewhere that it will not rapidly be re-oxidized into CO2. While this ends up using more energy than was gained by burning the fossil fuel, it is solar energy, so it does not add to atmospheric CO2. Basically, this could be seen as a roundabout and inefficient way of using solar energy, with energy costs at both ends. Of course, it would be more energy efficient if we could use the solar energy directly and leave the fossil fuel in the ground.

  25. Jeremy:

    #7 – well if it’s linking comics about physicists week:


  26. Hank Roberts:

    > the least energy-intensive way of
    > recovering a large amount of CO2

    The natural method appears to be extreme weather events causing greatly increased erosion, exposing unweathered rock that reacts chemically to bind some CO2, while extreme rainfall moves large amounts of surface material that gets washed into the oceans fertilizing blooms of organisms that die and settle out as sediment.

    Consider the US West where you can see huge erosion fans below many mountainsides formed the last time climate changed fast (end of the last ice age); most of them are not currently active and often have been built up with houses; those will become floods and landslides again (and zoning people are mostly aware of this).

    Probably it’ll be much more dramatic; look at the end of the PETM: http://www.wunderground.com/climate/PETM.asp

    This is scary; google for a full text and the illustrations, they’re out there: Abrupt increase in seasonal extreme precipitation at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary

    The only thing we seem to learn from paleoclimate studies is that we are unwilling to learn from paleoclimate studies.

  27. Unsettled Scientist:

    Interesting paper coming out on the link between a warming climate and ozone loss in the stratosphere.

    UV Dosage Levels in Summer: Increased Risk of Ozone Loss from Convectively Injected Water Vapor

    The observed presence of water vapor convectively injected deep into the stratosphere over the United States fundamentally changes the catalytic chlorine/bromine free radical chemistry of the lower stratosphere by shifting total available inorganic chlorine into the catalytically active free-radical form, ClO. This chemical shift markedly affects total ozone loss rates and makes the catalytic system extraordinarily sensitive to convective injection into the mid-latitude lower stratosphere in summer. Were the intensity and frequency of convective injection to increase as a result of climate forcing by the continued addition of CO2 and CH4 to the atmosphere, increased risk of ozone loss and associated increases in UV dosage would follow.

    For those of us who lack access to Science, Science News is always a great resource and have coverage of this paper.

    Stronger storms may destroy ozone, Extra water vapor up high could trigger destructive chemical reactions

    “For 30 years, we’ve studied the problems of ozone loss and climate change separately,” says team leader James Anderson, a Harvard atmospheric scientist. “Now it’s pretty clear that climate change appears to be linked directly to the loss of ozone.”

    Anderson and his colleagues stumbled on the unexpected connection while studying strong summer storms fueled by rising heat. During missions from 2001 to 2007, NASA planes flying close to the edge of space spotted water spewed high into the sky by convective storms over the U.S. The goal was to gather useful measurements for figuring out how high-altitude clouds form and trap heat.

    [It’s gotta be a lot of fun to fly in those planes. What a job!]

  28. Eric Rowland:

    Hank Roberts @ 20 – I found Muller’s conversion as he called it in the NYT op-ed somewhat suspect but his reasons became more plausible as he’s trotted out the “clean fracking” advertizing slogan on various programs. Only time will tell if this is the first volley in a long term campaign to promote the benefits of fracking…I mean clean fracking.

  29. Hank Roberts:

    > OZONE

    The abstract ends:
    “… Were the intensity and frequency of convective injection to increase as a result of climate forcing by the continued addition of CO2 and CH4 to the atmosphere, increased risk of ozone loss and associated increases in UV dosage would follow.”

    Editors, editors!

    The hypothetical conditional is meant to be used when “a future action or state is a consequence of some unlikely, hypothetical prior action or state”

    That phrasing is not meant to describe situations where you’ll get to where you’re headed if you find no way to stop.


    Shorter: oooooh, shit. Just talked to folks from New Zealand who already are getting way too much UV during normal daytimes.

  30. David B. Benson:

    Icarus62 @12 — The least energetic way to remove the CO2 from the active carbon cycle is not necessarily the most efficient or effective. First, read the paper in the link I posted in an eariler comment. Second, to energize that process or one of several others, nuclear power plants might be more economic than solar PV (by most measures it currently is). Niether requires buring stuff so is low carbon.

    Another possibly is sequestering CO2 deep inside rock formations. This has not been tried, precisely, but in several locations the geology suggests this would result in fairly rapid mineral carbonization (permanent storage).

    Briefly, the techincal means are available. What is lacking is simply will.

  31. John e Pearson:

    16 and 22 Dudley and trrl on sequestration:

    “Icarus62, the laws of physics tell us that if we sequester CO2 by converting it back into a reduced hydrocarbon, ”

    “So, hardly any energy is needed to remove carbon dioxide. But, it is unlikely to stay sable in that form for long enough.”

    These are sort of irrelevant versions of sequestration. Lackner’s proposal sounds plausible to this armchair dabbler.

    Google for Klaus Lackner. Geosequestration requires less energy than was obtained from the fossil fuels in the first place.


    David Archer once hinted that he’d do a thread on geoengineering. I assume he’ll discuss these points.

  32. Chris Dudley:

    John #31,

    Some years ago I discussed that with Lackner and he described an idea for stabilizing ice sheet bases using dry ice. I was coming at the question on energy more from the perspective of disposing of nuclear waste, which if properly done through transmutation, would indeed cost as much or more energy as was derived in creating the waste. Nuclear energy is kind of not really energy at all if you have to pay it all back. For carbon dioxide, the removal part is, in principle, not an energy sink. Find some exposed serpentine in Antarctica and you could even build a heat engine using that and the carbon dioxide as fuel to produce carbonate ash.

  33. Thomas:

    benson @30.
    I think it is more than simply will. I think it is energetically and financially feasible to enhance silicate weathering by breaking up near surface rocks with explosives. However given that many abandoned hard rock mining sites must be remediated to control heavy metals and other toxic materials, I doubt the environmental cost would be acceptable.

  34. Ron R.:

    Eric Rowland — @ 1:45 PM

    I don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth and hope this “conversion” was genuine, but if you notice the white piece of paper in the corner of the room to the right of the bookcase and above Muller and daughter’s heads you can see, now somewhat hidden, what apparently was Muller’s previous talking point.


  35. Justin Daniel:

    Any insight into the new Watts et al. paper on the surface station temperature data? I am 99.9% confident something really fishy is going on with it but I am not knowledgeable enough to know what.

  36. Hank Roberts:


  37. Edward Greisch:

    Chris Dudley: “Nuclear energy is kind of not really energy at all if you have to pay it all back.”
    WRONG. And off limits. Leave it alone.

  38. Harmen:

    Found this very informative video online..

    EGU2012: Climate change and the problem of climate sensitivity (PC11)
    2 aug 2012 EuroGeosciencesUnion

    Press Conference at the 2012 General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union. (Credit: EGU/CNTV.at)

    The European Geosciences Union (EGU, http://www.egu.eu/) is Europe’s premier geosciences union, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. It is a non-profit interdisciplinary learned association of scientists founded in 2002.

  39. Bobl:

    MikeS@ 553 Unforced variation July Says
    Bobl, According to http://www.nrel.gov/csp/pdfs/32160.pdf, about 65 sq km is necessary for gigawatt (just under half your estimate). I’m not sure if that affects your claim (the authors of the report think solar is appropriate for baseline generation in much of the western US), but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    NREL is discussing thermal Solar (CSP) while we were talking about PV Solar, however as the NREL states, CSP solar doesn’t function with diffuse light, so they don’t derate properly for minimum insolation, thus the discussion assumes long term energy storage (which doesn’t exist at the moment) or backup generation to cover insolation gaps. So their 65 square km is not based on a “Reliable Baseload Equivalent Capacity” as my estimate is.

    Even assuming NREL numbers, 65 square km is a large area to carpet with mirrors for just 1 Gigawatt, The US installed capacity needs 1137 times this or 7605 Square km, little bit larger than the state of Delaware carpeted with mirrors (where nothing will live and birds will fry in the intense radiation fields) to replace current installed capacity, more if these is no backup.

    Horribly low energy density is the problem here. There is NO solution, NO waiting, Solar is a side game, and will always be a bit player in Energy, there just is no more than about 1000 Watts per square meter there to yield. The law of conservation of energy is your enemy and there is no prospect for bettering this unless you believe in fairies and perpetual motion


  40. Pete Best:

    Re #10 Why would a professor be so direct in his motivation to state that he has concerns regarding the science of climate when its all been examined and people exonnerated so many times?

    Was he offered money or does he have legitimate concerns and if he does why would he be making assertions about others people peere reviewed work? He makes little sense especially as he is saying that although ACC is real the actual events that have been linked to ACC (heat waves in Europe and Russia and perhaps the current one in the USA) are complete nonsense and then seems to be indicating that the USA is foolish to be doing anything about their emissions as China is the main one to blame.

    He has to be political in some sense surely ?

  41. Bobl:

    I want to ask a serious question.

    I have been studying the feedback claims in the literature assuming a Nett gain of 3 over direct CO2 warming. I can’t see how that is remotely possible.

    This represents a loop gain in the climate system by the IPCC of 0.67 (in a linear system it would be 0.75). That’s practically impossible without gross instability. Not only this, we know there are large negative feedbacks operating in the climate (Direct Radiation to space, lapse rate) these Nett at a gain of about 0.2 (I understand from a Meteorologist I know), so that means that in the climate system there must be a Nett positive gain of about 15 (15 x 0.2) = 3. A Nett Positive feedback gain of 15 implies a positive feedback loop gain of over 0.9 and almost 0.95. That’s for all practical purposes impossible for a system as stable as the climate.

    The Negative and Positive feedbacks are caused by vastly different things, yet it is blithely assumed that they can be offset against each other, because the analysis done in climate is a scalar one.

    Since the lags are different the impulse responses will be vastly dissimilar, and you cannot just combine dissimilar loop gains gains like this. The temporal aspects need to be quantified. I contend that this requires Complex number math to solve. Scalar Climate models could therefore not possibly predict response of this system at all. There seems to me to be a huge gaping hole here…

    I have a lot of trouble accepting the assumed feedback can be factual, it seems to defy Physics?

    Comments anyone?

    [Response:You are misunderstanding the definition of feedback in this context. Climate feedback is defined as a multiple of the basic damped response due to the Planck feedback. An effect leading to a larger net response than that is defined as positive feedback, an effect leading to a smaller once than that is termed a negative feedback. But the overall feedback in the sense you are assuming is dominated by the Planck (longwave response). – gavin]

  42. Kevin McKinney:

    “Scalar Climate models could therefore not possibly predict response of this system at all.”

    It sounds as though you could do a bit of reading on how climate models actually work. Sensitivity is emergent, not prescribed, for GCMs.

  43. deconvoluter:

    Re: #41

    If you want it answered it would be better to set out the argument clearly , i.e. put away the handwaving and write out the algebra from first principles without reference to anything else. You will need to show why this gain of 15 is not a fictitious straw man.

  44. Hank Roberts:

    > You are misunderstanding the definition of feedback in this context…. – gavin

    That’s the key for Bobi. Over and over, an engineer (or someone prompted by an engineer) comes here to explain that everything climate scientists know is wrong because they don’t understand feedback.

    Wrong. It has various definitions.

    Start by learning what the word means in the field being discussed.

    AIP:Discovery of Glob. Warm.Spencer Weart’s ‘Discovery of Global Warming’ book (first link under Science in sidebar) is basic — learn how this stuff got figured out. Hint, it took big computers and an understanding of much about the atmosphere.

    Also helpful: the links behind the Start Here button, top left corner of page.

    Engineers, take note — if you don’t understand the different meanings of the word “feedback”, odds are that you’re using the word wrong in this context.

  45. Hank Roberts:

    “… strategies to rely on sequestration of CO2 as a mitigation strategy must recognize the high freshwater costs involved, implying that the key climate mitigation strategy must be to reduce emissions.”



    The planetary water drama: Dual task of feeding humanity and curbing climate change

  46. Dan H.:

    In climate models, as opposed to other sciences, feedbacks are presumed to operate differently. Hence, rather large multiplier are possible, which would appear to defy physics. When you approach this from a purely mathematical direction, if seems impossible, as you state. However, when using the Planck feedback, it is entirely possible. You need to understand the concept of feedback defined by climate modelers.

  47. Susan Anderson:

    Justin Daniel @~35

    Tamino went right into it. Coauthors are skittishly dancing away. It’s about, among doubtless other obvious flaws, the TOB (time of observation) and if I understood correctly, some issues with rural sitings which are less consistent and in some cases have been moved which must be factored in. One Victor Venema provides real, not fake, knowledge on the subject(see comments as well in link). It’s always easy to carp from the sidelines, cosmetic but not truthful:

  48. SecularAnimist:

    I’ll leave the solar naysayers to willfully ignore the realities of today’s rapidly growing solar energy industry, and to their ill-informed assumptions and guesswork and back-of-the-envelope calculations. Thousands of consumers and utilities all over the USA are proving them wrong every day.

    I’ve got in front of me a proposal from a local solar installer for a 3.4 KW roof-mounted, grid-tied array of eighteen 190 Watt Suntech modules, with Enphase micro-inverters, that would cost about $12,500 after available tax credits, provide 27 percent of my current annual electricity consumption, saving me $489 per year on my electric bill plus $1,014 from the state’s tradeable Renewable Energy Credit program, for an annual savings of about $1,500, which is a 12 percent return on investment, and about an 8 year payback period (less if the price of grid electricity increases). The panels are warrantied for 25 years, so after the 8 year payback period I’ve got another 15 or more years of free electricity.

    Sounds good to me. And there would still be room on my roof for another 6 KW of those Suntech panels, or cheaper-and-better ones when available.

  49. Tom Adams:

    The US state of North Carolina just banned the use of projections of sea level from planning for 4 years:


    This is a watered down version of the earlier bill (with no time limit) that banned the use of projections that took future global warming projections into account.

  50. David Levitt:

    In Muller’s recent interviews (see, e.g. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/30/richard-muller-get-rid-of-coal-power-to-halt-global-warming) he states that “Natural gas produces one third the carbon dioxide of coal for the same energy”. Is this right? The figure I have usually seen is two thirds.brandt

  51. MARodger:

    David Levitt @50
    From UK numbers, using coal to produce electricity emits 200gC/kWh. The figure for using natural gas is 110gC/kWh. I haven’t the actual ‘carbon intensity’ figures to hand, but 3:1 sounds way off.

  52. Unsettled Scientist:

    The Human Factor is an editorial in Nature Climate Change that highlights new research not on the human drivers of climate change but rather on the human response to it.

    “it is this realization that documenting the nature of the ‘problem’ is only the start of the challenge of resolving it that has led to an upsurge in interest from the social scientists who seek, among many other things, to understand peoples’ perceptions of climate change risks, what it will take to change behaviours, and the roles that science education and communication should play. At the same time, economists are trying to get to grips with the effectiveness of carbon trading as a mitigation strategy, how rich nations will help the developing world adapt, and indeed whether standard economic models will remain viable into the future. Meanwhile, politicians grapple with how to translate all of this into action, and how to sell often controversial policies to the people they represent.”

  53. EOttawa:

    In the abstract for the new paper “Patterns of CO2 variability from global satellite data” by Ruzmaikin et al



    I noticed this:

    “The first principal component is phase-shifted relative to the Southern Oscillation indicating a causative relationship between the atmospheric CO2 and the ENSO.”

    As a layperson without a science background I interpret that as saying that [increased] CO2 is affecting ENSO. Is that a correct interpretation?

  54. Mark Shapiro:

    Bob @ 39 and SecularAnimist @48,

    Our 2.9 KW rooftop PV system has been operating for over a month now. You can watch it produce, along with thousands of other public Enphase-inverter systems here:
    enphase.com/products/enlighten/ (Click on “view live sites”)

    Even our sub-optimal, retrofitted, flat-roof, Chicago-code-compliant, 14% efficient system provides about half of our electricity, at a modest profit.

    PV Price/performance improves every year. It’s already twice as good in Germany, which is further down the learning curve. The panels themselves are already under $1/WattP, so the two huge opportunities for cost reduction are: 1) building integration; 2) electrical integration (hint: PV produces low voltage DC, all electronics and LEDs use low-voltage DC). But even today, rooftop PV for new construction is a no-brainer.

    We get a modest, positive financial return (all tax-free!) from the panels every month, even before the state and federal subsidies. BUT: PV has reduced our hidden subsidy from fossil fuel externalities. Those, of course, are huge, and climate is only one of them.

  55. deconvoluter:

    Re : #46
    Why, has Christopher Monckton been awarded an honorary degree in engineering * for his contributions to this topic?
    * He has been active in spreading the fallacy:

    Absence of climate runaway => absence of much gain from feedbacks

  56. Mike S:

    Bobl, thanks for the response. Yes, the NREL report is for CSP and not PV. Still, if we could replace our energy needs by carpeting an area the size of Delaware, or even several times the size of Delaware, I don’t see why that’s a showstopper. We devote many times that much area for farming, pretty much the entire state of Maine is used for forestry, etc. I wonder how much space current fossil fuel energy production including mines, fracking, pipelines, tar sands, power plants, etc.? Would solar even consume more land (not to mention solar’s other environmental benefits)?

  57. caerbannog:

    I just noticed that Kevin C’s global-avg temperature python script was mentioned up-thread. I cannot recommend it highly enough as a teaching tool.

    I tweaked it just a bit to dump avg annual anomalies (instead of monthly anomalies) and compared the output to the NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” index – it tracks the NASA/GISS results very nicely, although it does produce a bit more warming than NASA/GISS – my guess is that sparser sampling in the SH leads to more empty grid-cells in the SH than in the NH, resulting in a bit of NH overweighting. (If that’s the case, then the grid-cell interpolation that skeptics like to complain about actually *lowers* global-warming estimates).

    But given the simplicity of the algorithm, it really is quite amazing how closely it replicates the results that the “pros” (that would be NASA/GISS) publish.

    Python code is *much* easier to hack/modify than compiled C/C++/whatever code, so Kevin C’s script looks to be an ideal teaching tool to turn students loose with.

    Python is available for Windows/OSX/Linux, so any student with access to a laptop/PC can run the script and plot up the results.

    If you replace the print loop at the end of the script (the last 3 lines of code) with the lines below, you’ll get annual anomalies in .CSV format that you can plot up in Excel/OpenOffice for direct comparison with the NASA/GISS results at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A.txt.

    Note: the asterisks are there to preserve indentation levels (very important for proper python script operation) – replace all ‘*’ chars with spaces. (The post editor here eats leading spaces).

    #### BEGIN
    print “year”,”,”,”temp”
    for year in years:
    **for month in months:
    **print year,”,”, yearavg

    For convenience, here again is the link to Kevin C’s script: http://www.skepticalscience.com/watts_new_paper_critique.html (you’ll need scroll down to get to the code).

    So teachers, turn your students loose with the code and have them crunch the GHCN V3 data themselves. Have them compare their results with the results that the “pros” (NASA/GISS) produce. Have them compare rural vs. urban results and raw vs. adjusted results.

    And if their parents demand to see the code, then show ’em the code. ;)

  58. Unsettled Scientist:

    Harmen @38, thanks for the link to the EGU press conference video. I enjoyed it but am now depressed. I see no indication of a sober conversation happening soon in the general population.

  59. Thomas:

    Bobl @39,Secular A @48, Mark@53
    Your estimate of 65kilometer squared for a GW sounds a bit large. I’m assuming that wi
    thin five years, average PV panel (not solar thermal) will be about 20% efficient. That m
    eans it takes 5km**2 to obtain a nominal gigawatt. I’m assuming the deployment strategy c
    hanges, because the are cost of panels has dropped so much, and should be at or under $.5
    0 per watt in five years (at the manufacturer). Todays systems assume that panel area is
    expensive, and use eith, panel, tilt, or single of dual axis tracking to maximize the output per square meter of panel. That implies that panels (or mirrors) are spaced widely en
    ough to avoid shading issues. With cheap panels, you maximize output by completely coveri
    ng the ground with horizontal panels, so the watts per square meter of land can increase
    substantially. Add another factor of five for weather, plus nighttime, which is typical o
    f a good site, and you end up with about 25km**2 for an average output of a kilowatt.

    I’m not very sanguine about the prospects for large scale CSP thermal. It can’t compet
    e against cheap panels, and several projects have been modified from CSP to PV. CSP power
    should command a premium due to its dispachability, but because of that premium, I don’t
    expect it do provide much daytime power -except as needed to cover demand spikes. The on
    e area where CSP probably makes economic sense is combines process heat and power, where
    a colocated industrial process need low grade heat.

    Secular Animist. I find it sad that the residential installers have made so little pro
    gress in installed system cost per watt. Thats only a bit better than 20% better than I g
    ot a 2.4KW system almost three years ago. The German’s are reportedly doing installations
    at $2.24/watt without the tax subsidies (the FIT effects return, not system cost). We ha
    ve a long way to go. A big chunk of PV system cost lies in the so-called soft-cost area.
    Chief among these are customer acquistion and permitting/inspection costs. I think the fo
    rmer is nontrivial for residential installers, that cost for acquiring you as a customer
    has already been spent whether you sign up or not, I suspect that fact can be leveraged i
    nto a discount. The other way to go would be DIY -or at least hire roofers, and electrici
    ans to do the work. Forcing the industry down the cost curve is going to be essential. BT
    W, my system was speced at 55% of annual usage, but because of continuing efficiency pro
    gress at home, its now up to 82%.

  60. caerbannog:

    re: my previous post: you can shorten the code snippet a bit by ditching the imonth counter and using len(months).

    Also benchmarked one of the runs on my 5-year-old el-cheapo laptop:

    % time python ./ghcn-simple.py qcu.inv qcu.dat > testraw.csv

    real 1m4.097s
    user 0m58.836s
    sys 0m0.692s

    It crunched the entire GHCN data-set in just over a minute of wall-clock time!

    Python’s much faster than I thought it would be — guess I should put learning python on my todo list…

  61. flxible:

    David Levitt@50
    the ERA says 50% – I suspect he’s trying to say [spinning] it produces 30% as much “pollution”, being a “cleaner” burning energy source – which ignores the methane generation/leaks involved in it’s production and transport.

  62. J Bowers:

    49 Tom Adams — “The US state of North Carolina just banned the use of projections of sea level from planning for 4 years:”

    Ah, the politicians from Jaws do exist. But, if this is the standard of sanity in North Carolina, there won’t be any need to hire Robert Shaw to take Brody to the shark next time: the shark might eventually be able to swim to them instead.

  63. Bobl:

    Thomas @ 58,
    See my analysis in July,

    PV Reliable Baseload equivalent supply requires about 146 square km (Equatorial)for a Gigawatt @ 20% and even at 100% Efficiency this would only come down to about 30 square km per Baseload equivalent Gigawatt.

    There are simple limits to the energy input to the system that prevent it ever getting better than that, Energy Conservation sees to that.

  64. Pete Dunkelberg:

    “Your adrenaline is running. You’re pumped up,” Streeper said. “You could just see a wall of flames coming this way. Everything was on fire.”

    Fire in Oklahoma

  65. Patrick 027:

    Re 16 Chris Dudley – of course, that would block OLR and so would have some global warming effect (I don’t know how much, relative to CO2 capture – of course you likely weren’t seriously proposing this solution).

    Re 53 Mark Shapiro : 2) electrical integration (hint: PV produces low voltage DC, all electronics and LEDs use low-voltage DC). – maybe buildings with two electrical systems, connected by an inverter – Solar PV feeds into the DC and the inverter connects to that and the AC? Although, lower volatage would increase losses getting from point A to point B – would that be significant in a building?

    Re 55 Mike S (re Bobl) “how much space current fossil fuel energy production” Well, here’s how much consumption is using:
    ~ 510,000,000 km^2 (the whole thing)

    Re 41 Bobl – climate scientists, meteorologists, and oceanographers do/can use complex numbers – for studying fluid mechanics – waves (Rossby/vorticity, (inertia)-gravity/Kelvin), and things like Ekman spirals. Also, the temperature and heat flux over depth from a surface with cyclical forcing would be a bit like an Ekman spiral, I think.

    But when talking about equilibrium climate sensitivity – or transient response, for that matter, the forcing is not generally a cycle. Phasor diagrams aren’t really applicable unless you have a cyclical forcing, or decompose the forcing into a linear superposition of cyclical forcings. At least in so far as Charney feedbacks go, I don’t think you have much of an inertia in the sense that you can get in RLC circuits or mass-spring-damper systems, so there won’t be a resonance – response amplitude simply increases with cycle period until it approaches the equilibrium value for a constant forcing of the same amplitude (what may be refered to as inertia is the effect of heat capacity, which produces a lag between forcing and response, but it isn’t capable of making the climate oscillate in respone to a change in forcing like the transient response of an underdamped system. This is setting aside internal variability, which is a whole other series of comments – we can gloss over that for now by considering a climatic state as encompassing that variability (of all such unforced variability, the one that acts most like a cycle is the QBO. But it is not at all like a mass-spring-damper or RLC system – based on my own understanding, it is forced by some flux of wave action (fluxes of energy and momentum, or whatever analogue of those concepts is useful in this application), and the wave-mean interaction gives rise to a cycle which should go faster if the flux increases; the flux is either not cyclical or it’s cycles would only cause a change in the angular velocity of the QBO phasor. See Holton, “An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology”, Ch 12 (from memory)).

    If you are considering all feedbacks, the feedbacks need to have units – radiative forcing is measured in W/m2 and climate response is measured in K – feedback is W/m2 per K. The equilibrium climate sensitivity is the negative inverse of the sum of all feedbacks – which is negative including the Planck response, unless you get into a runaway situation. To express feedback in a nondimensional way, you need to pick some baseline sensitivity, such as when only including the Planck response. Then, if the total feedback (including the Planck response) is negative (stable equilibrium) but smaller than the Planck feedback alone, the nondimensional feedback just defined is positive. This is often what is meant by the net feedback – either that the non-Planck feedbacks sum to some positive W/(m2*K) value, or that the nondimensional value as just defined is positive. Unstable climate requires the nondimensional value to go past 1/0 or be negative, or for the non-Planck feedbacks to be positive and exceed the Planck response in magnitude. This may/can/has/does happen in Snowball freeze-thaw hysteresis or H2O-vapor runaway, which are outside the range of conditions the Earth has usually experienced, so far as I know.

    See also http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/07/unforced-variations-july/comment-page-8/#comment-241456 for an example of how feedback works mathematically in climate (note this is a very simple model that uses parameters at least some of which (feedback, I’d guess maybe effective heat capacity) are actually the output of the more sophisticated climate models which are based on more fundamental physics and sub-grid scale parameterizations where necessary (which are not merely guess-work – see RC’s FAQ on climate models parts 1 and 2).

  66. Patrick 027:

    technically off topic, but

    ~ 200 W/m2, 10 % efficient (let’s be conservative; we can multiply later (technology gains, system losses installed and aging) – 20 W/m2,

    packing density 40 %, 8 W/m2 land;

    Global energy usage ~ 15 TW primary equivalent or something like that; if wrong use a scaling factor; that’s ~ 5 to 6 (being generous at the high end) TW electrical equivalent where applicable (won’t apply to all uses – cogeneration or high temperature heating));

    6 TW / 8 W/m2 ~ 0.75 T m^2 = 750,000 km^2.
    Global land area ~ 150 million km^2
    75 = 5*15
    0.5 % land area produces 6 TWe PV. if only spread over 1/3 of land area, 1.5 % of that; 1/10 of land area, 5 % of that. What is global roof area, anyway?

    Some places get more than 250 W/m2.

    U.S. ~ 3 TW primary, convert to 1 TWe (0.125 T m^2), distribute over 1/3 the land area (~ 3 million km2), get 4.17 %. Perhaps we could use the agricultural land that is going to be abadoned due to persistent drought (runoff (that not captured and evaporated in the process of washing) might be used to boost productivity on neighboring lands).

  67. Patrick 027:

    … of course there’s no need to get 100 % of our electricity from PV, and oops, forgot the subject was baseload, but see http://www.skepticalscience.com/renewable-energy-baseload-power-intermediate.htm (note the advanced level option)

  68. Patrick 027:

    4.17 % – ignoring sig.figs. float PV panels on reservoirs to reduce evaportion. other stuff said before. done.

  69. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Bobl — 4 Aug 2012 @ 6:39 PM:

    You appear to be stuck in an absolutist black and white loop. Again- We currently can’t use PV for base load until storage and transmission solutions become practical. Meanwhile, when many commercial power plants run at 100% during the day but at only 20% at night, PV generation capacity is now practical for picking up the daytime load. For now let the power plants provide the base load. Just like wind, this reduction in fossil CO2 can be done piecemeal, one panel at a time in grid tied systems.

    Again- The area used for solar electricity generation is inconsequential. I remember a nifty graphic referenced on this (RC) site that showed a globe on which the tiny square of area from which the total world’s electricity could be generated by PV was shown. Did somebody save this? A distributed system that doesn’t require the smart grid or any fancy electronics can be started right now. Actually it already has, but this move needs a big push, and those spouting “area” and “base load” silliness need to look at reality. There is plenty of area for panels in cities where daytime power is needed so that base load generation is not a question yet, and when it is think dry rock geothermal.

    I have been deriving most of my electricity from the sun now for seven years, it is like magic! Steve

  70. Susan Anderson:

    Oh Dear Gussie, Monckton been awarded a s science degree?!! Can you imagine how he will be able to exploit that with the credulous?

    Comment numbers change, good idea to include the name as well.

    Dr. Hansen’s latest (Seth Borenstein) is headlining the AP feeds, but Pielke Jr. is included, doing his best to discredit. No surprises there. One copy here:


    I like his OpEd in WashingtonPost:

  71. Bobl:

    @ Steve Fish,
    Sorry to burst your balloon but Solar is a to-nowhere technology, it’s a bit player, while it can work in limited decentralised micro-generation instances, from a practical perspective you need much higher energy density. There are much better choices Biomass, Hydro, Geothermal, or nuclear (perhaps Thorium).

    PV Solar also has a very sort life, and maintenance costs are high, once again due to the huge dimensions of the infrastructure. This is more than likely why they get abandoned in favour of Diesel

    Idealistically I’m sure you’d like it to be, but it “Just ain’t so”, bank on a different technology.

    I wont comment on this topic further.

  72. David B. Benson:

    Thomas @33 — Simply drill two holes into an olivene formation. Even basalt will likely do. Pump CO2 (very hard pumping) down one hole and withdraw an equal volume of saline solution from the other. The carbonation reaction is exothermic and drilling deeper makes it go faster. n any case, continue until CO2 starts coming up in the saline solution. Then stop and drill anthoer pump-up hole some goodly distance around the circle centered on the pump-down hole.

    The is more than enough basalt here in the Columbia basalt formation (on top of which I sit) to store all the excess CO2 so far produced amd still have room for vastly more.

    This is fairly basic geochemistry about which the internet offers ample relevant readings.

  73. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Sorry to burst your balloon but Solar is a to-nowhere technology, it’s a bit player, while it can work in limited decentralised micro-generation instances, from a practical perspective you need much higher energy density.

    Because some guy named Bobl said so on some blog! You heard it here first!

    There are much better choices Biomass, Hydro, Geothermal, or nuclear (perhaps Thorium).

    Well that will work for everything, plenty of ‘energy density’ there, no need to perform any actual energy conversion right? No work at all!

    You got it all figured out Bobl, thanks for enlightening us physicists.

  74. Patrick 027:

    Re 68 Bobl –

    The nuclear v. solar was declared permanently OT, but I don’t have enough info on nuclear anyway (I have some opinions that I would stand by but they don’t concern the entirety of the issues) – but how about solar AND nuclear AND … vs coal, oil, gas. Solar is better than coal. If nuclear really is better than solar than it therefore must be better than coal, so that wouldn’t bother me. Maybe it’s better than coal regardless? Etc. An emissions tax would go along way toward resolving… etc.

    But anyway…

    Zweibel, Mason, Fthenakis “A Solar Grand Plan” http://web.chem.ucsb.edu/~feldwinn/greenworks/Readings/solar_grand_plan.pdf
    – updated here http://www.clca.columbia.edu/papers/sun&wind-1.pdf
    – such as:
    Fthenakis, Kim, Alsema “Emissions from Photovoltaic Life Cycles” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es071763q
    Fthenakis, Kim “Land use and electricity generation: A life-cycle analysis” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032108001354
    Fthenakis, Kim “Life-cycle uses of water in U.S. electricity generation” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032110000638

    Jacobson and Delucchi “A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030
    – related: http://www.awec2010.com/public/presentations/jacobson_mark.pdf
    “Providing allglobalenergywithwind,water,andsolarpower,”… parts 1 and 2

    “Will we have enough materials for energy-significant PV production?”
    Wadia et al “Materials Availability Expands the Opportunity for Large-Scale Photovoltaics Deployment” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es8019534, http://www.cyruswadia.com/prof/Publications_files/Wadia et.al. Materials Availability Expands the Opportunity for Large Scale PV.pdf

    (and with PV, there’s a general idea with many incarnations and future potential; right now we need to implement clean energy but continued R&D is also good for even better future technologies. See nanoparticles, sol-gel, titanium dioxide solar cells, CZTS and zinc phosphide, even pyrite!, organic solar cells, thermophotovoltaic, plasmonics, light trapping, (X)CPV)

    – Valentino et al http://www.dis.anl.gov/publications/windpower/es2038432.pdf
    and (I think this is the same as refered to in the skepticalscience blog) – Kubiszewski et al http://pdx.academia.edu/idakub/Papers/1180199/Meta-Analysis_of_Net_Energy_Return_for_Wind_Power_Systems

    and, again

    from a practical perspective you need much higher energy density.” Calculate the output from a lifetime of a solar cell, divide by mass – quite impressive! Area? See above (it’s potentially much better than biomass – but that doesn’t mean biomass is all bad; obviously some biomass energy options exist which would increase the overall efficiency of food production, others would not compete so much with crops, etc. Algae, used napkins, peanut shells, coffee grounds, olive pits, damaged and diseased crops…)

    PV Solar also has a very sort life, and maintenance costs are high, once again due to the huge dimensions of the infrastructure. This is more than likely why they get abandoned in favour of Diesel Something doesn’t sound quite right about maintenance costs, but that aside, you’re completely wrong on lifetime. It seems the standard LCA assumes something like 30 years. A warranty is important for an individual buyer, but from a fleet standpoint you’re concerned about how long the average device lasts, how the average device ages. PV panels generally could push 50 or 60 years or more. The land use efficiency will decline a bit but there’s give and take – whatever’s best, etc.

  75. MARodger:

    flexible @59
    That ERA link you give is interesting. It shows the US figures for CO2/kWh that when I convert into my units are substantially higher than the UK figures but with a reasonably similar ratio between gas & coal. Gas US 138gC/kWh UK 110gC/kWh. Coal US 273gC/kWh UK 200gC/kWh. As the figure is for kWh delivered, the higher US figures may be due to the longer transmission distances in the US or other transmission system losses. The ratios (US 50% UK 55%) may be affected by the relative ages/efficiencies of the generating plant

  76. Hank Roberts:

    dual purpose panels — I’ve been waiting and am still waiting to see these show up for the ordinary user. Nothing on the local market yet.

    2012 overview: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032111006058
    “… hybrid photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) collector systems. A major research and development work on the photovoltaic/thermal (PVT) hybrid technology has been done since last 30 years. Different types of solar thermal collector and new materials for PV cells have been developed for efficient solar energy utilization. The solar energy conversion into electricity and heat with a single device (called hybrid photovoltaic thermal (PV/T) collector) is a good advancement for future energy demand. This review presents the trend of research and development of technological advancement in photovoltaic thermal (PV/T) solar collectors and its useful applications like as solar heating, water desalination, solar greenhouse, solar still, photovoltaic–thermal solar heat pump/air-conditioning system, building integrated photovoltaic/thermal (BIPVT) and solar power co-generation.”

    Yeah, the abstract reads like nobody bothered to help the author with English; we can hope the engineering was better than the drafting.

  77. Ray Ladbury:

    You know, any time I see a poster who contends that a particular energy source is “the answer” or who dismisses a technology that is rapidly advancing, and which has some very desirable characteristics, I feel quite justified in pretty much ignoring anything he says on any other topic. I mean, he might be an idiot-savant, but he’s certainly an idiot.

  78. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Bobl — 4 Aug 2012 @ 8:56 PM:

    You are revealing yourself with your deliberately incorrect statements.

    Just for fun let’s take your first choice, biomass. You think that PV panels have low energy density, well the energy efficiency of photosynthesis in most plants (you know- biomass) is much worse than PV at 1% to 2%, and it requires a lot of processing and moving about before it is useful. Do you know of anyone who is proposing to generate electricity, in competition with PV, on a large scale?

    Get serious, Steve

  79. Steve Fish:

    Correction to my 5 Aug 2012 @ 9:50 AM-

    Do you know of anyone who is proposing to generate electricity WITH BIOMASS, in competition with PV, on a large scale?

  80. SecularAnimist:

    Mike S wrote: “Still, if we could replace our energy needs by carpeting an area the size of Delaware”

    Interesting that you should mention Delaware, because its next-door neighbor New Jersey is the second largest solar market in the USA. PV is being installed all over that densely developed state. According to the New Jersey governor’s office:

    New Jersey installed more solar capacity in the first quarter of 2012 than any other state, and led the nation in solar installations on commercial and industrial properties in 2011. There are over 16,000 solar installations on homes, offices, schools, and hospitals throughout the state. The state currently has over 800 MW in installed capacity and another 600 MW of solar in various stages of installation. Of the electricity generated in New Jersey, over 1% now comes from solar energy … According to the Department of Energy, New Jersey has the 7th highest Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in the nation at 22.5% by 2021.

    New Jersey’s Republican governor has just signed bipartisan legislation to increase the state’s already strong support for its solar industry, and to address land use concerns, while saving ratepayers millions of dollars:

    “… the law will save ratepayers approximately $1.076 billion over the next 15 years as compared to the current solar subsidy schedule … consistent with the Christie Administration’s objective of promoting dual-benefit net-metered projects and discouraging large-scale solar projects on farmland and open space; creates a sub-program to incent the development of solar projects on landfills and brownfields; and lowers costs for participating schools and government entities through net-metering aggregation.

    The incentives to develop utility-scale solar on top of landfills and brownfields are very important. There is a lot of degraded, otherwise unused (or even otherwise unusable) land in and around urban areas where PV can be deployed — close to existing grid infrastructure and close to the point of use.

    So, “carpeting an area the size of Delaware”? No. Carpet all the commercial and industrial and residential rooftops, parking lots, landfills, brownfields, etc. in Delaware. And New Jersey. And then you are getting somewhere.

    And remember, these are far from the sunniest locations in the USA. Look at what New Jersey and Germany are doing with only a modest solar energy resource to harvest, and then imagine their policies applied to the sunniest regions of America.

  81. Hank Roberts:

    > solar … micro … s[h]ort life … maintenance …

    ya think these folks will be coming back to swap out for diesels?

    (Sierra Club Solar Homes Campaign currently in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.)

  82. SecularAnimist:

    Bobl wrote: “PV Solar also has a very sort life, and maintenance costs are high, once again due to the huge dimensions of the infrastructure.”

    With all due respect, both of those statements are just false.

    For example, Suntech’s PV panels, typical of the mass market silicon panels being sold today, have a 10-year “repair, replacement or refund” warranty for manufacturing defects, and a performance warranty that guarantees the panels will produce at least 90 percent of their nominal output for 12 years, and 80 percent of nominal output for 25 years. Enphase micro-inverters have a 15 year manufacturer’s warranty.

    These are significantly longer warranties than one usually gets with comparably expensive residential technology, for example gas furnaces and electric heat pumps typically have only 5 or 10 year warranties.

    As to “maintenance costs”, rooftop PV requires little or no maintenance (or any user intervention at all, in typical grid-tied residential systems) so those costs are typically near zero — and again, are certainly far less than the typical costs of maintaining an HVAC system.

    I would just add that focusing on whether, when or at what cost solar can duplicate the baseload role of coal or nuclear power plants is beside the point. Solar is inherently peak-matching power, that can provide much, and in some cases all, of the consumer’s peak electricity demand. As far as the grid is concerned, distributed solar “looks like” demand reduction — and to some extent, with grid-tied net-metered systems that produce a surplus of power that can be fed into the grid, it “looks like” peak-matching power that naturally comes online when it is most needed. This reduces the need for large baseload power plants.

  83. Whit:

    The refutation of Einstein by his German contemporaries is that he was doing “Jewish science” – that his results were motivated by a desire to confound the true German way. Similarly, the opponents of the results promoted in places like this blog point out that it is “Social_ist science” – results motivated by a desire to confound the true Exxon way.

    Can we admit this? That relativity and climate science are wrong, if wrong, for closely similar reasons?

  84. B A Carter:

    Re: David B Benson, 69. I presume you are thinking in terms of something like serpentinisation. I see two problems. Firstly olivine bearing rocks are dense and of low permeability, there will be mechanical problems in getting your CO2 into the rock, meaning that the reaction rates will be low. Much more important, though, is the nature of the changes in the rock. Olivine has a density of about 3.3 kgm3, serpentine has a density of about 2.7 kgm3 so you are looking at a volume increase sufficient to generate earthquakes. Note also that some serpentine producing reactions have methane as one of the end products.

  85. Jim Larsen:

    39 Bobl said “intense radiation fields”

    Uh, care to explain that?

    48 SecularA said, “after available tax credits…plus $1,014 from the state…Sounds good to me”

    Yes, having other people give you free money might sound good to you, but on a science site that’s irrelevant, isn’t it? You have to include all costs paid by all people. Otherwise, you’re just feeding at the trough and pretending nobody else has to provide the food.

    Using your logic (though in an opposite way), apartment dwellers should buy a micro-hydro system to attach to their kitchen sink and run the water full blast 24/7. Free electricity!

    How much is the system’s full-price fully-financed cost per KWH and what is your local rate? Won’t be a perfect comparison because of externalities, but it’s the place to start. A thumbnail – perhaps $20k cost, $500/yr benefit for 30 years = $15k, so even without interest you’re wasting $5k.

    Your major point is completely right, of course. There’s plenty of roof and other space just waiting for solar. We don’t have to give up the glorious state of Delaware.

  86. B A Carter:

    Sorry for screwing up the density units in No 81 – I was in a hurry! It should of course be gcm3 or equivalent.

  87. Steve Fish:

    It seems to me that there has been a recent and abrupt increase in very inept trolling behavior here. It is always interesting when extreme short term events like this occur. It could be that this is just a glitch in the trolling weather and, perhaps, the big kids might just be away on summer vacation and they let the junior string try to show their stuff while they are gone. On the other hand, if enough of these extreme poor quality events continue to happen with more frequency than in the past, we could be seeing a real downturn in the trolling climate. I am not one of those people who claim that the trolling climate has been flat for the last ten years, but I also understand that attribution will require more time before the climate signal can be statistically differentiated from the noise. A statistical analysis of the dates of Bore Hole posts could be a valuable contribution. Steve

  88. Pete Dunkelberg:

    You think CO2 is plant food? This is plant food. How can the corn crop be in trouble with so much plant food laying around free for the asking?

  89. Patrick 027:

    Re my 71 Re 68 Bobl –

    Re 73 Hank Roberts – yes! I remembered that after I posted the comment; PV cogeneration should generally improve electrical output by cooling the cells and reduce the combined area needed for electricity and heat.

    On top of that, roofs not otherwise suitable for PV (local climate, also shade from trees), could still have solar water heating, for that matter daylighting. Passive solar and other energy efficiency, etc.

    Regarding LCA’s – http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/04/29/204025/csp-concentrating-solar-power-heller-water-use/

    Regarding my potential technologies list, I forgot: luminescent concentrators (can use diffuse radiation, can be made into windows too (maybe use UV and solar IR and let visible light through) (can be stacked analogously to multijunction cells), hot carrier technology, electrochemical cells – etc. There’s also this kind of thing:

    “Electricity and Carbon Dioxide Used to Generate Alternative Fuel”

    Stuart Licht et al “A New Solar Carbon Capture Process: Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo (STEP) Carbon Capture”
    http://www.flintbox.com/public/filedownload/3226/09-00x Licht Carbon Capture Article

    interesting (requires energy to get Li presumably, but you get a semiconductor out of it)

    “New Cement-Making Method Could Slash Carbon Emissions
    The proof-of-concept device concentrates sunlight to break apart limestone.”

    (and parabolic trough collectors are sufficient for a lot of industrial heating needs (see “Cool Energy” – a book – although the one I have is probably at least somewhat out of date by now))

    (and there’s interesting biomass ideas too – I think I read something once about bacteria converting – sugar? – to electrical energy.)

  90. Eli Rabett:

    FWIW iron fertilization may offer the highest leverage.

  91. Eli Rabett:

    Eli had a long talk with Klaus Lackner at a conference a couple of years ago. FWIW while the chemistry is interesting, it looks pretty far away from implementation on a large scale, the question of what to do with the CO2 is open and set up costs will not be zero if there is to be any measurable effect.

  92. Patrick 027:

    Re Chris Dudley @ 16 – 400 ppm implies a partial pressure ~ 40 Pa near sea level. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_data#Vapor_pressure_of_solid_and_liquid, saturation vapor pressure at -50 deg C is 683.4 kPa; it looks like you have to get down near ~-138 deg C (~135 K) to get it down around ~40 Pa.

    (subarctic winter, clear sky, looking up from 3 km altitude,
    ground temperature offsect, K; W/m^2, brightness temperature (full spectrum) in K

    -50: 56.2374, 177.46
    -60: 48.7014, 171.19
    -70: 41.762, 164.74
    -75: 38.5278, 161.45
    -80: 35.4506, 158.13

    I couldn’t get a realistic temperature profile but I got the 3 km T close to the coldest surface temperature with much of the troposphere being unreasonably cold, still couldn’t get below 140 K brightness temperature (and at 3 km you’d need to get colder still without pressurizing).

    Of course, if you put CO2 inside a box which is reflective except for those wavelengths where the atmosphere is more nearly transparent, you could get closer to absolute zero provided thermal insulation from immediate surroundings. Alternatively, pressurize the air (heat it up, emit OLR, freeze CO2 – recover some of the energy as the remaining gas expands, etc.).

  93. David B. Benson:

    B A Carter @84 — Since there are now at least two interested in natural carbonization of minerals here are some references:

    In situ peridotite weathering:

    In situ basalt weathering:

    Ex situ olivine weathering:

    See references 7, 8 and 9 in

    Mine tailings:

    Your knowledge about these geologic processes seems currently not sufficiently thorough as to be able to avoid erroneous conclusions. I stand by the claim that basalt/olivine/periodotite weathering is practially feasible. [Obviously doind a pilot study first would be the next step forward; all that is lacking is the will.]

  94. Patrick 027:

    Re 39 Bobl – yes, intense radiation fields – you double it near the mirrors in the sense that you have the downward solar flux plus it’s reflection. On the other hand if you don’t have the mirrors you’d have ground emitting LW radiation, although that’s considerably smaller during peak insolation (larger on average, though) …

    – and you’d want the mirrors to emit thermal radiation anyway because otherwise you’re reducing OLR (but not that much compared to anthropogenic CO2 – example: 150 W/m2 average direct insolation – assuming conversion efficiency similar to fossil fuels and nuclear, a reduction in OLR of ~ 300 W/m2 would still have a very very very very small global average effect as it would be double the direct heating from the supply of the same amount of energy from combustion and fission (15 TW ~= 0.03 W/m2, so this would be 0.06 W/m2 – and it wouldn’t keep growing from constant usage) – and it wouldn’t be that large a forcing anyway because it would reflect downward LW radiation from the atmosphere back up – the big difference would be in the atmospheric window – and even in that, tilted mirrors would inevitably be reflecting some ground-emitted radiation from the mirrored side and might be emitting from the back side, so… – and maybe the kinds of mirrors often used have large emissivities in LW for all I know – on the other hand, localized cooling from the continued LW cooling and the export of some fraction of insolation, depending on changes in evapotranspiration, ??might concievably reduce low-level cloud cover via sinking air??).

    … so it would be like being in the bright sun on top of snow, and you can get sunburned that way, but how long is a bird going to fly around there (and feathers would block some radiation, I’d think)? The really intense radiation is near where the mirrors focus.

    By the way, CSP can easily have storage. I think there are project(s) planned or being built with that. CSP baseload is totally doable.

  95. Patrick 027:

    Re 85 Jim Larsen – I completely agree that full costs must be considered; it makes sense to consider the compensation of tax credits etc. in terms of how they compare to the effect of a justifiable emissions tax on competing sources such as coal.

  96. sidd:

    Prof. Box has been busy

    GRIS is


    “… little doubt that recent summer air temperatures for Greenland ice are the highest in at least 172 years …”

    “… the recent summer temperatures are ~0.5 C higher in absolute magnitude than those in the 20th century.”

    2)still dark

    “Late July’s reflectivity remains below other years in the observational record since 2000 and the values are trending lower again because of the darkening effect of near-surface air temperatures reported for 24-31 July being near or above the melting point …”


  97. Patrick 027:

    Re my CSP comments – importantly, mirrors will reflect diffuse light, some of which will go up and not be backscattered; thus a cooling effect. (On a cloudy day, the reflection from CSP would brighten the base of the clouds and this could enhance flat-panel solar energy performance nearby – signicantly? I don’t know.)

  98. Patrick 027:

    Re 84 B A Carter re David B. Benson –
    CH4 production, if of the same C as the CO2 input, could be used for energy without a net Additional emission. I suppose cutting spaces in the rocks for them to expand would partially defeat the benifits of in situ.

    Although that reminds me of a rather outlandish sci-fi sounding idea for CSP – a very large centralized CSP plant using several cubic km of rock in the ground for heat storage, with water used to bring heat down and up – mine the return flow for mineral resources, and then decommision the plant in 1000 to 1000000 years (I have no idea how long it would take) and mine all the anthropogenic ores and pretty crystals that were created by the hydrothermal activity.

    Anyway, I’m rather hopeful about these sequestration ideas not because we could then continue using fossil fuels but because we might have some hope of returning the Earth to what I grew up (minus the semi-irreversable sea level rise) with after fossil fuel usage slows to a trickle.

  99. David B. Benson:

    Patrick 027 @98 — There is no need to further fracture the rock. The expansion due to weathering will do that quite nicely.

  100. Patrick 027:

    Re 99 David B. Benson – I meant to reduce the earthquake risk, if there is one…(?) I haven’t had time to look at those links yet. (Interestingly, since the in situ is ‘self-fracking’, I guess that may be more benign than regular fracking – no nasty chemicals getting into the water supply, presumably?)

  101. Hank Roberts:

    > nasty chemicals getting into the water
    It’ll still be radioactive coming out, as it’s carrying deep drilling material — radon and her daughters — I think. http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/tenorm/oilandgas.html
    But no synthetic organic chemicals added. Unless the marketing people for those industries make the case for using them anyhow.

    They’re very good, these sales people.

    Remember the ‘oxygenating’ gasoline additive MTBE? That was a waste disposal problem, then it became a salable additive, and now it’s a toxic waste in aquifers. So they introduced a profitable sale step into the traditional toxic waste mishandling procedure.


  102. Jim Larsen:

    Dang. Spam-labelled. So here goes patching…

    95, Patrick, emission taxes are great except that we don’t have a 1*world govern-ment. Import a vacuum cleaner, model “A”, VS model “B”. How much carbon did each produce? If the manufacturing country has a different carbon tax than the importing country, things get fouled up quickly, even if the amount of carbon is known. Look at the Middle East, where negative carbon taxes (gas subsidies) are common. Look at the nasty fight over airline emissions in the EU. How well do you think folks will take to the idea of US manufacturers paying for carbon while China gets off scott free? (That every dollar either reduces debt, is returned to us, or decreases other taxes will be ignored) And unlike Europeans, Americans would consider it logical (or imperative) to spend up to 99 cents on politics to fight a carbon tax’s one dollar non-cost.

    Though I believe a rising carbon (and other GHG) tax similar to Hansen’s idea, or even better, use it to eliminate the payroll tax, is the easiest, fairest, and most effective solution (all of the above issues could be dealt with), the political attractiveness of give-aways means they are are here while a carbon tax is not.

    One big difference is that a carbon tax won’t do much to promote solar and wind until parity is close, while give-aways do so in any market conditions. Look at Secular’s example. HUGE initial credit, THEN triple market rates for the electricity produced. You’d need a carbon tax of maybe 600% of the fuel’s cost to have the same effect. Give-aways say, “Build it NOW at ANY cost to the taxpayer” while a carbon tax says, “Increase efficiency (and negawatts are way more effective than watts) while promoting renewable research. Build it when and where it makes sense.”

    Or, just pay folks a few dollars to let the government put PV on their roof, and the taxpayer gets the benefit. Heck, the government is paying for the whole deal anyway (Actually over 100%. Assuming a 15 year 80% mort-gage, these folks will never pay a single penny towards their system. Negative investment because some of the initial credit goes in their pocket, and then the feed-in tariff pays the mort-gage.) If I’m going to pay for somebody’s PV system, I want to OWN it.

    And Secular, let us know how it goes. Kudos for your support of renewables under the system in place. First adopters are precious.

  103. Chris Korda:

    According to Gallup, “Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Apparently the respondents didn’t study much paleontology.

    Many people seem to be unwilling to face the consequences of Stephen Jay Gould’s work. Evolution doesn’t converge on us, or anything else. There’s no top or bottom, no good or bad, just a seemingly endless parade of organisms more or less fit for ever-changing conditions. If we make earth an unsuitable environment for ourselves, we and many other organisms will suffer more, and go extinct sooner than we otherwise might have, but slime will inherit earth regardless. This is just one of the many disturbing truths science reveals to humanity. I’m capable of facing it, so others must be capable of facing it too. Facing the pointlessness of existence squarely should be taken as a sign of mental health. What psychological distress I do experience is mostly due to being surrounded by deluded people who believe they’re going to heaven. I wish they would hurry up and leave.

    The pictures from the Hubble telescope are clear enough. There’s no meaning to be found out there. Meaning can only be constructed socially, and this implies cooperation. People could conceivably construct a meaning for themselves that allowed them to coexist in a reasonably steady state over a long period of geologic time. But is there any reason to believe this is likely? What precedents do we have? Ants normally exhibit extraordinary cooperation and altruism, but they also periodically fight wars of extermination, even against colonies of their own species. Aboriginal societies were sometimes stable compared to modern civilization, but only at vastly lower population densities.

    The hard problems are all ethical, not scientific. Why should people embrace disturbing truths instead of convenient fictions? Why shouldn’t the rich live soft lives and be waited on hand and foot if they can get away with it? Why shouldn’t the ruling class use force to take whatever it wants? Why should people make sacrifices for the benefit of future generations? Why should individual humans care what happens after they’re dead?

    These and similar questions were seriously considered in the wake of WWII. There was some consensus in the West that people needed to be pacified and weaned away from nationalism. At the time, socializing people to embrace individualism and consumerism seemed a logical alternative to repeating WWII with hydrogen weapons. Very few were concerned about the consequences of further industrialization. Pollution wasn’t seriously addressed for decades. Climate change was almost totally unanticipated. In the 1950s if you’d told Americans that they shouldn’t build suburbs because automobiles would accelerate climate change, they would have given you a lobotomy.

    We’re caught in a cascade of side effects, and increasingly our reality is spinning out of control. Older people wish for a reversal, back to the relatively pristine conditions they enjoyed in their youth, but this is pure fantasy. Even if we stopped producing CO2 today, the warming and sea level rise already in the pipeline are enough to ensure drastic physical and social changes. On our current course we’re facing chaos and disruption on the scale of WWII or worse, something most people alive today can scarcely imagine.

    Genetics sheds much light on cancer, but it doesn’t seem to cure people of believing that the only possible to solution to their problems is unlimited growth. I wish more people would watch Albert Bartlett’s famous lecture, “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.”

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”
    -Albert Bartlett

  104. Ian Perrin:

    Storm warning that will likely reduce Arctic sea ice extent and area. They are talking about 21-22 Manhattans!

    from Neven here.

  105. Neven:

    The 21-22 Manhattans refer to the fast ice breaking off along the northeast coast of Greenland, which as a news item is literally blown away by the Arctic storm. ;-)

    This fast ice breaks off every year (in the last couple of years, don’t know about before), but it’s a very spectacular sight. One of the pieces is very big this year.

  106. Yves:

    Is a post on Arctic sea ice planned for these days, for instance 5 years after the Aug. 10 post? I’d appreciate!!!
    The extent curve for summer 2012 seems competing with the 2007 curve (according to NSIDC, Cryosphere and IARC/JAXA). But, looking at the ice shape and concentration reveal some striking differences (I’ve got a figure from Cryosphere today website): back to 2007 the ice extent (envelope area) seemed nearly coincident with the ice area; in 2012 it is not. There are many “ponds” of seemingly free water (more exactly ice concentration below a given threshold) surrounded by denser sea ice, especially around the East Siberian Sea which was ice-free at the same time in 2007. Seems that is a sign of fragility of new ice compared with old ice, the latter being disappearing.

  107. wili:

    Yves said, “back to 2007 the ice extent (envelope area) seemed nearly coincident with the ice area; in 2012 it is not. There are many “ponds” of seemingly free water”

    Neven has a post on this phenomenon, and yes, among other records, this year has a record high difference between ice extent and ice area, meaning, even without the storm that is about to hit, we should expect very rapid melt rates for the rest of the season. But if this storm holds together, it is going to scatter all this loose ice which will then melt very quickly indeed.


    It looks to me as if this is going to be another 2007-like jaw-dropper for the end of the melt season, almost certainly shattering previous records for minimum extent, area and volume.

    What this means for climate in the Northern Hemisphere and heating of the ESAS, I shudder to think.

    (reCaptcha: “iscapru”. Yes, reCaptcha, I do rue the loss of the ice cap.)

  108. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Yes, having other people give you free money might sound good to you”

    Are you opposed on principle to any and all tax credits offered by the Federal or state governments for any purpose whatsoever? Or are you only opposed to those for investment in renewable energy generation? If you agree that it’s appropriate for the government to offer targeted tax breaks to encourage investment in anything at all, then I guess “having other people give you free money” sounds good to you too.

    Are you also opposed to Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, that require utilities to either generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewables or make up the difference by purchasing tradeable Renewable Energy Credits? Because that’s where the $1,014 from the state REC program comes from. It’s not “free money” in the form of tax credits or grants; it’s what the local utility pays to buy tradeable RECs from small renewable energy generators, such as homeowners who install solar panels.

  109. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Chris Korda — 6 Aug 2012 @ 3:40 AM:

    Thanks for reminding me of Albert Bartlett. I haven’t watched the lecture in a long time and went back to see it again. It is very relevant to the discussions here at RC.


  110. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Look at Secular’s example. HUGE initial credit, THEN triple market rates for the electricity produced.”

    Actually, I didn’t state the amount of the initial credits for installing solar panels — only the net cost after those credits. For the record, the system I described cost $19,500 before any credits. The net cost of $12,500 mentioned in my previous post is after a $5,800 Federal income tax credit and a $1,200 state grant. So the total subsidy is $7,000 or about 36 percent of the total cost — and 83 percent of that subsidy is a tax break. Is that “HUGE”?

    As for “triple market rates for the electricity produced”, I am not sure what you are talking about. As I mentioned just above, the estimated $1,014 per year is from the sale of tradeable RECs, which are are a feature of my state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio standard, which allows utilities to meet the standard by purchasing RECs from renewable energy producers. The price of the RECs is determined by supply and demand in the REC market, and is not related to market rates for electricity.

    As for any surplus electricity that I might produce, my state does not have feed-in tariffs (as far as I know, nowhere in the USA has yet implemented feed-in tariffs, which have contributed greatly to Germany’s rapid expansion of small-scale distributed PV). Instead we have net-metering, which is quite a different deal, and means that the utility credits my electric bill each month for any surplus electricity I feed into the grid — but the credit is well BELOW what I pay them for retail grid power, and even below the wholesale price that they pay large commercial generators.

  111. Steve Fish:

    Regarding various comments by Jim Larson about government subsidy of PV solar installation:

    Because you don’t say anything about the much greater amount of public money spent on supporting the coal industry and the very much greater health and environmental externalities of coal fired electricity, your complaints seem to be biased. I will support subsidy of solar and other clean energy, and argue for even more, until government support for fossil fuels are completely dropped and externalities are addressed so that the prices will rise to reflect real costs. If that were to happen, then clean energy could compete without subsidy on a level playing field. Steve

  112. Patrick 027:

    Re Jim Larsen
    – trade – yes, I know it’s trickier to solve than what one might at first think (because there is a very obvious solution, it’s just hard to properly calculate it)
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/06/25/carbon-tax-watch/ (I have some long comments there; back-and-forth was interesting – and this is probably more on-topic over there, or here:)
    also http://www.skepticalscience.com/glimmer_of_hope_a_conservative_tackles_climate.html#81289
    (trade issues could even arise between countries with the same CO2eq tax if they apply it at different points in the CO2eq flow – a nation taxing at the mine/well/deforested acre/landfill/cow/rice paddy… well at the mine/well part anyway, if it exports coal/oil to another country which taxes at the utility/refinery… etc, then those exports would be double taxed; but simply applying corrective tariff/subsidy measures at the border shouldn’t be too hard in that case, I’d think. And how easy must it be – they draft bills 1000 pages long in congress – of course that can be an opportunity to hide things,… anyway…) (And at some point, you have to have a level of acceptable error.)

    I’m not a fan of witholding good ideas just because people don’t like them. And as dire as things look right now, I think… maybe there is reason to hope – if people don’t like an idea because they think it’s bad, well look at the bad ideas people have been convinced to accept. If people can be convinced to want things that they really don’t want, surely they can be convinced to want things that they really do want?

    Setting aside the trade aspect, remember the way an externality tax works is 1. adding cost to supply – the have less incentive to produce due to lower profits, or they raise prices – 2. demand reacts to prices, consumption is driven toward alternatives or just reduced. 3. Investors see all this, can even (the smart ones) anticipate it before a law goes into effect, and shift investement into alternatives, increasing supply/reducing costs of alternatives, reducing consumer prices, boosting profit, etc.

    That third part is an important aspect of how an externality tax shapes usage of technology. Private investment will be driven toward the R&D and production of clean energy or energy-efficient technology – if they know about learning curves and mass market advantage, they can decide to invest in things not at the moment competitive, and make it competitive, or better.

    I would argue that this is good justification for present government spending and green regulation as such (and will continue to be even with a tax that encourages private investment, because government has historically played a long-term investment role (internet!)).

    Free give-aways may lead to less efficient use of products, but demand for those products nonetheless is shaped by the benifit. Setting aside all other factors (access to grid, etc.) besides the solar resource, certainly a person in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington may take advantage of a free panel – however, a person in Arizona will still reap more benifit from it – you get a free panel and the larger amount of free electricity – so more effort would be made to get it, install it, etc. And are there really completely-free give-aways here, or just subsidies (or mandate-shaped spending as Secular Animist pointed out) that reduce the consumer price?

  113. WheelsOC:

    I hope everybody was watching history being made last night/this morning/whatever time it was for you when they landed the Mars Science Laboratory rover successfully!

    Makes one wonder what kind of instrumentation network would need to be set up on, around, or pointed at the red planet if we want to understand its climate at least as well as ours.

  114. Patrick 027:

    Re 103 Chris Korda

    Facing the pointlessness of existence squarely should be taken as a sign of mental health. What psychological distress I do experience is mostly due to being surrounded by deluded people who believe they’re going to heaven. I wish they would hurry up and leave.

    I think I get what you’re saying, but … please do distinguish between ( believers in Heaven – and/or God – and believers in various specific unprovable assumptions or made-up nonsense that pertains to scientific knowledge, history, logic, morality (as in the logic of it – like how much could it matter how humans came to be, because regardless, we are what we are), and important decisions that affect our health and well-being.

    – You may want to check out Stephen Hawking’s series – I think it was called “Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design” (specifically about ‘the meaning of life’). “Equations of Eternity” by David Darling is a good read.

    (A very key thing is that consciousness itself has never really been explained. Unless we assume that all the bits of the universe have some of it and the brain’s structure is such that they … well, I totally get that the mind is the behavior of (that part of) the brain (ie that part which is not focussed on maintaining your body temperature, etc.), but there’s still something there which is completely mystifying.

    Heaven could just be the time before one dies but after one’s brain loses it’s sense of time, creating the illusion of forever (kind of like the event horizon of consciousness). Or not, I don’t know, I’ve never tried it. Otherwise, I think death could be a bit like (DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE BEDTIME OR IF YOU HAVE ANXIETY ISSUES) the very worst of agoraphobia and claustrophobia combined – you are launched into an infinite void in a space ship which is perpetually shrinking down to nothing. (On the other hand, the process is supposed to lead to a release of dopamine, right? – assuming it’s not too fast, I suppose) So I would forgive people for believing in Heaven (which smells like almond extract, by the way ;) ) (In other words, you get a vacation from Occam’s razor once in while, as long as you don’t use it to hurt people or impede their education). It may even be quite healthy, because it’s not like it’s something you could take action on anyway – there are no heaven-destroying emissions to tax.)

    Apologies for an unforced variation that makes the ’98 El Nino look perfectly forced. I meant to busy myself with the pointlessness of deriving an equation for the tidal torque on an oblate spheroid…

  115. Hank Roberts:

    I eagerly await seeing Curiousity listed as a surfacestation site.
    “… oh, no, they moved the weather station, clearly can’t be reliable …..”

    Here’s a timelapse animation of plate tectonics (warning, loud music. hat tip to Metafilter)


  116. Patrick 027:

    That last comment of mine is still awaiting moderation (the re Chris Korda)… well I’m having second thoughts about it too; I don’t mind if it’s removed.

  117. B A Carter:

    David B Benson @93.

    I can still write the equations for these processes and am reasonably familiar with the petrography and typical field relations of these rocks!

    I don’t doubt that the processes you advocate are feasible to some extent, but the side effects could cause problems. A 40% increase in volume of buried rocks is going to build up considerable stresses in the overlying rocks, continuous gradual uplift would be tolerable but I suspect that the uplift will be episodic in nature…and ultimately you would be modifying the topography of extensive areas.

    Of course, my comments refer to occurrances of suitable rocks on land, but there is another thought. These processes are happening all the time in the mid ocean ridges and transform faults deep in the oceans, all you have to do is come up with techniques to increase sea water circulation!

  118. Jim Larsen:

    108 Secular asked, “Are you opposed on principle to any and all tax credits offered by the Federal or state governments for any purpose whatsoever?”

    Way off topic, but I’ll apologize to all and answer (but no more – you can have last word)…

    Yes. If the government wishes to support something, then funds should come out of the treasury. Taxes should be untouchable – no deductions, no credits, no exemptions. The tax code should be about 10 pages long tops for both business and individuals. By forcing the government to “pay” for things, passing such laws becomes “real”. As it is now, a billion dollars can be “spent” with nobody knowing diddly about it except the lucky sod who pockets the money through a loophole his lobbyist inserted while opponents weren’t parsing properly.

    If said support happens, then the taxpayer should be reimbursed to the fullest extent possible. If an individual/group thinks that wind power would be a good investment and the govt agrees, then the govt could give loan guarantees IN EXCHANGE FOR part ownership.

    In the specific case of zero-risk zero-effort zero-investment systems (for the owner) such as a residential PV system where the govt/utility pays the down payment, pays the mort*gage, and holds the mort*gage (Fann*y/Fred*die), perhaps $2000 for 30 years of roof rent would bring many offers. When a roof needs replacing, many folks will be scrambling for that $2000, and PV is best done at replacement time.

    A return question: If that had been the program – you get $2000 cash and get to help promote solar with no risk or effort – would you have accepted the offer? (Not a slam dunk – you’d lose the ability to install your own in 15 years when prices are way lower – though some sort of buyout option could be included)

    On RECs, copy the above swapping “ratepayer” for “taxpayer”. Functionally they’re identical.

    And on renewables, they are my favorite, but they’re Step 2. Step 1 is energy efficiency. For every dollar spent on renewables today, a smaller amount would have reduced demand by more. Not as sexy, but a more effective use of effort. (I’ll find cites if anybody wants them. Amory Lovins is a good source for such things) Since credits/payments target renewables (and are expensive) while carbon taxes target efficiency AND help renewables (and net out as free), I’m in the carbon tax camp.

  119. Harmen:

    @ unsettled scientist

    “Harmen @38, thanks for the link to the EGU press conference video. I enjoyed it but am now depressed. I see no indication of a sober conversation happening soon in the general population.”

    I am very sorry to read that..Reality bites sometimes..

    However ignoring reality will make depression even worse in the long run..

    If that does not help you..Maybe this will…

  120. Unsettled Scientist:

    WheelsOC, I stayed up late and watched it live. I’ve never heard people so excited to see a small grainy photo of a wheel before. Truly amazing work the people at NASA did to achieve this. A captivating photo that they released today is of Curiosity parachuting down through the Martian atmosphere from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


    Much cooler to me than a wheel ;)

  121. Jim Larsen:

    112 Patrick, I just took Secular’s example at face value. Since that example will never experience a negative cash balance even from day 1 (with an 80% 15-20 yr mort*gage), I consider it “free”. The triple rate I mis-defined as “feed-in”, but $500 savings + $1k payment for $500 of electricity is triple, assuming Secular’s estimate of production and payments holds true. All told, one could smash the system on day one and still come out with a profit, assuming the REC continues to pay. I’m amazed Secular’s area isn’t swamped with applications. (Are they?)

    111 Steve, I advocate carbon taxes, which means I want to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels. Otherwise, what’s the point? To be clear, I advocate large carbon taxes, working up to pricing gas at $10 and fossil electricity at 50 cents. No offsets – paying folks to plant trees, etc needs to be separate or it’s gonna get gamey.

    113 Wheels, great name for your post! GO NASA!!!! Now skeptics can’t say there aren’t any SUVs on Mars, so temperature increases will be explainable! :-)

  122. Sceptical Wombat:

    Can anyone tell me how Ice Shelves are dealt with in the NSIDC data on sea ice? Are the ice shelves just included in the sea ice or are they excluded. If the latter what happens when ice shelves break up and are presumably replaced by sea ice? Or are ice shelves just so small in relation to sea ice that it doesn’t matter?

  123. Chris Korda:


    When I said that the hard problems are ethical, I didn’t mean to belittle the difficulties faced by scientists. What I meant is that ethical problems aren’t necessarily *solvable* in the scientific sense of the word. Ethical assertions are social constructions and don’t have to be rooted in objective reality at all. For example the U.S. Supreme Court can assert that corporations should have the same rights as people, and there’s no easy way to refute it, because it’s just a reflection of our society’s current power structure. Imagine how different it would be if the same court asserted that ten is a prime number, or that the moon is made of cheese. Many ethical assertions are similarly absurd, but since they’re normalized by the culture in which they occur, the absurdities are hard to see except in retrospect. White man’s burden may be transparently offensive now, but it was a respected ethical position throughout the nineteenth century.

    Humans could turn out to be great at science but lousy at ethics. This would partly explain why we aren’t reacting to climate change quickly enough. Dan Miller’s “A Really Inconvenient Truth” makes this same point in an amusing way:

    “Imagine that you read in the newspaper tomorrow… that all the excess CO2 in the world is being released by al-Qaeda. Think about that. Would we react? Of course we would. We would spend any amount of money … to fight that. We would spend a trillion dollars, which we just did.”

  124. Susan Anderson:

    Monbiot today, with his usual depressing clarity:

    the commodification of nature forestalls democratic choice. No longer will we be able to argue that an ecosystem or a landscape should be protected because it affords us wonder and delight. We’ll be told that its intrinsic value has already been calculated and, doubtless, that it it turns out to be worth less than the other uses to which the land could be put. The market has spoken: end of debate.

    All those messy, subjective matters, the motivating forces of democracy, will be resolved in a column of figures. Governments won’t need to regulate, the market will make the decisions that politicians have ducked…. The costing and sale of nature represents another transfer of power to corporations and the very rich.

    It diminishes us, it diminishes nature. By turning the natural world into a subsidiary of the corporate economy, it reasserts the biblical doctrine of dominion. It slices the biosphere into component commodities: already the government’s task force is talking of “unbundling” ecosystem services…. The more we learn about the natural world, the more we discover that its functions cannot be safely disaggregated.

    Rarely will the money to be made by protecting nature match the money to be made by destroying it. Nature offers low rates of return by comparison to other investments. If we allow the discussion to shift from values to value – from love to greed – we cede the natural world to the forces wrecking it. Pull up the stakes, fill in the ditch, we’re being conned again.


  125. Kevin McKinney:

    #122–I don’t specifically know the answer to your question, SW. but I note that according to this:


    …the total area of all Antarctic ice shelves is about 1.5 million km2, which is roughly the minimum Antarctic sea ice area, according to Cryosphere Today. Max extent is around ten times that.

    So even a pretty big ice shelf collapse–Larsen B was around 3,000 km2–barely budges the statistics, even at minimum–presuming that ice shelves ‘become’ sea ice when calving occurs.



    NB.–the Arctic ice shelves are much, much smaller; 90% of the former Ellesmere Shelf has already collapsed, leaving a few small remnant shelves behind.

  126. Kevin McKinney:

    Oops! “Max area,” of course, not “max extent.”

  127. Chris Dudley:

    Patrick (#92),

    What seems to explain the very low brightness temperature measurements is a very dry atmosphere above Antarctica. Perhaps you should use that as an input?

    PS editors: reCaptcha is becoming very scrambled.

  128. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Dynamics of snowball earth:

    The Sturtian is the oldest (~716 Ma) of three pan-global glaciations in the Cryogenian. At Omutirapo, in northern Namibia, a 2 km wide, 400 m deep palaeovalley is filled by glaciogenic strata of the Chuos Formation, which represents the Sturtian glacial record. Sedimentary logging of an exceptionally high quality exposure permits detailed stratigraphic descriptions and interpretations, allowing two glacial cycles to be identified. At the base of the exposed succession, strong evidence supporting glaciation includes diamictites, ice-rafted dropstones, and intensely sheared zones of interpreted subglacial origin. These facies collectively represent ice-proximal to ice-rafted deposits. Upsection, dropstone-free mudstones in the middle of the succession, and the absence of diamictites, implies sedimentation free from glacial influence. However, the reappearance of glacial deposits above indicates a phase of Sturtian glacial re-advance. Comparison to age-equivalent strata in South Australia, where evidence for sea-ice free sedimentation has been previously established, suggests that a Sturtian interglacial may have been extensive, implying global-scale waxing and waning of ice sheets during a Cryogenian glacial event.

  129. SecularAnimist:

    Patrick 027 wrote: “… A very key thing is that consciousness itself has never really been explained …”

    And in most such discussions, a key thing is that “consciousness itself” is never really defined. Which is not only an obstacle to “explaining” it, but begs the question of whether there is really anything that needs to be explained.

  130. Yves:

    Wili (107): Thanks for the link. I’ve also noticed that other blogs are posting on the topic, e.g Gareth at http://hot-topic.co.nz/ (called “Favourite worst nightmare” and followed by another piece on “Greenland’s extraordinary summer”). Btw NSIDC website just released its analysis, along with… Greenland melting. Greenland had an extraordinary heatwave around July 10, such that nearly all its icesheet surface, even in the interior, underwent some degree of melting detectable by satellites. Such event is estimated to occur every 150 years under an average interglacial climate (according to the ice cores) but is bound to be more frequent.

  131. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Aug 2012 @ 4:25 PM:

    I agree that a carbon tax is the way to go, but as long as this stuff- http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Federal_coal_subsidies#Examples_of_U.S._Treasury_Department_Funding – is going on in the background to manipulate the market, I doubt it could work the way it should. Steve

  132. Patrick 027:

    Re 127 Chris Dudley – okay; what is the W/m2 downward flux in Antarctic winter?

    Re 123 Chris Korda – totally agree on science not being able to solve ethics at it’s root; although certainly morally-effective decision making requires applying values to intelligence – some past errors might have corrected if better info had been available, although people would of course have to have been willing to believe it. Another thing, though, is logical inconsistency – there are easy parts of the hard problem.

  133. Patrick 027:

    Re Chris Dudley:
    Town et al http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI3525.1
    60 to 80 W/m2 winter south pole, clear sky (except for diamond dust)

  134. Hank Roberts:

    > Nature offers low rates of return by comparison to other investments.

    If you don’t discount the value of the future to zero after a century or so, nature comes out way ahead of “economic” investments.

    Nature delivers, for millenia, and you can eat your returns.

  135. Hank Roberts:

    > nature
    And, uniquely, after you eat your returns, you can reinvest them.
    (Well, unless you’ve got a lot of heavy metals and antibiotics and estrogen mimics in your sewage, in which case, as a species, yer doin’ it wrong …)

  136. sidd:

    Mr. Korda writes, on the 6th of August, 2012 at 11:09 PM:

    “Ethical assertions are social constructions…”

    That is the challenge, but also the foundation of hope. I quote Pollan in ‘Second Nature’

    “If nature is the one necessary source of instruction for a garden ethic,culture is the other. Civilization may be part of our problem with respect to nature, but there will be no solution without it. As Wendell Berry has pointed out, it is culture, and certainly not nature, that teaches us to observe and remember, to learn from our mistakes, to share our experiences, and perhaps most important of all, to restrain ourselves. Nature does not teach its creatures to control their appetites except by the harshest of lessons–epidemics, mass death, extinctions. Nothing would be more natural than for humankind to burden the environment to the extent that it was rendered unfit for human life. Nature in that event would not be the loser, nor would it disturb her laws in the least–operating as it has always done, natural selection would unceremoniously do us in. Should this fate be averted, it will only be because our culture–our laws and metaphors, our science and technology, our ongoing conversation about nature and man’s place in it–pointed us in the direction of a different future. Nature will not do this for us.”

    [Response:I’d also recommend David Orr’s “Down to the Wire” if you can get your hands on it.–Jim]

    It is up to us. We are having the dialogue right now. We are choosing our future, and the future of many to follow. The fact of fossil carbon induced climate change is disputed by those who would rather have fossil fuelled comfort today, at the price of a blighted world tommorrow. They would have our forests flare and fall and fail in fire, our oceans overflow in souring filth, our air become a stifling fume, and behead our very mountains themselves, leaving not a small corner unfouled in all our once green world.

    And then there are some of us who would rather not tread that path further. Let us see then, whose vision is the more persuasive.


  137. Jim Larsen:

    The nature VS economic development argument is a bit like selling a kidney. Sounds good economically, right? Now suppose two people each own one of your kidneys. Both will be wise to sell, which results in your death. In fact, the second seller has even more incentive because the world’s last kidney would be very valuable.

    The “magical marketplace” deals with natural systems by making their destruction ever more imperative as they become more rare.

    Perhaps I’ll start hoarding rhino horn and await the extinction. Fortunately there is no “substitute resource” for a fake medicine!

    ooo… perfect recaptcha: question urethics

  138. Kevin McKinney:

    “And in most such discussions, a key thing is that “consciousness itself” is never really defined. Which is not only an obstacle to “explaining” it, but begs the question of whether there is really anything that needs to be explained.”

    You seem pretty conscious to me, SA…

  139. Kevin McKinney:

    “You seem pretty conscious to me, SA…”

    But please don’t ask me to define what I mean by that.

  140. wili:

    Did anyone notice the hurricane (or whatever one can call such a system in the Arctic Ocean) over the North Pole?


  141. Richard Simons:

    Yves @130:

    Greenland had an extraordinary heatwave around July 10, such that nearly all its icesheet surface, even in the interior, underwent some degree of melting detectable by satellites. Such event is estimated to occur every 150 years under an average interglacial climate . . .

    My understanding is that it is surface melting at any one point that is estimated to occur about once in 150 years, not melting of the entire surface at the same time. There is likely to be a big difference between the two situations.

  142. SecularAnimist:

    Kevin McKinney wrote: “You seem pretty conscious to me, SA … But please don’t ask me to define what I mean by that.”

    Well, in the context of blog commenting, it can only mean that I pass your personal Turing test, and that you assume that any entity or process that does so must be “conscious”. Which doesn’t really require defining “consciousness”, only hypothesizing that whatever “consciousness” is, any entity capable of carrying on human-like interactive communication must have it.

  143. Pete Wirfs:

    Regarding July 2012 NOAA has announced “…the warmest July and all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895.”


  144. David Lewis:

    Muller bought what the deniers were shovelling, hook, line, and sinker.

    I became curious about Muller after reading his infamous op-ed, which contained this: “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming“.

    I found this video. And there is this: Muller’s Congressional testimony of March 2011.

    In his March 2011 appearance, he tells Congress they should set up a “Climate-ARPA” to facilitate funding to outstanding amateur scientists. This is his only recommendation for climate legislation. He names two of these incredible individuals: “Without the efforts of Anthony Watts and his team…. [and] …for the work done by Steve McIntyre….” blah blah. “Their ‘amateur’ science is not amateur in quality; it is true science, conducted with integrity and high standards“.

    In the video Muller struts back and forth in front of a chart depicting the Mann et.al. hockey stick. He denounces Mann et.al. for manipulating their data to produce a false result: “you are not allowed to do this in science“. He makes it clear he believes that if it can be established that the single Mann et.al. study he’s denouncing is what he says it is the entire edifice of climate science crumbles away:

    Jim Hansen who predicts things ahead of time, he’s going to find we have a group here [Mann et.al.] who feels it is legitimate to hide things. This is why I’m now leading a study to redo all this in a totally transparent way

    Muller is emphatic that the Mann et.al. study “would not have survived peer review in any journal I’m willing to publish in“. Really? Nature published Mann et.al.’s first “hockey stick”. GRL published his second effort. One has the distinct feeling Muller would publish his BEST (crappiest?) work anywhere at this point.

    Muller is one of these clowns who let their bit of success in one field go to their head. Instead of humbly apologizing and crawling back under whatever rock he came out from he’s now trumpeting his proof that he knew nothing as a significant contribution to climate science.

  145. Jim Larsen:

    142 Secular said, “any entity capable of carrying on human-like interactive communication must have it.”

    No, he said SEEM, not MUST, ie, a computer can SEEM conscious, but that says little to nothing about whether the computer IS conscious.

  146. Sceptical Wombat:

    Thanks Kevin @ 125

  147. Edward Greisch:

    132 Patrick 027, 123 Chris Korda: Science will solve ethics. But we don’t have ethical equations yet. Look up “socio-biology” at the Library of Congress loc.gov. 1 – 20 of 1997 books
    “The Genetics of Altruism” by Scott A. Boorman, Paul R. Levitt.
    “Genes, mind and culture” by Edward O. Wilson
    Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values”
    “The Science of Good & Evil” by Michael Shermer
    The Brights project on ethics and morality without god. http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/arenas/1/comments.html

    The #1 directive of sociobiology: Preservation of your own species has to be the primary value.

  148. Edward Greisch:

    101 Hank Roberts: Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison.

    Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, on the order of 1000 times the present “legal” limit. The old limit was 5 rems/lifetime. A single dose of 800 rems could kill you, but if you have time to recover between doses of 10 rems, no problem. It is like donating blood: You see “4 gallon donor” stickers on cars. You know they didn’t give 4 gallons all at once. There is a threshold just over 10 rems. You are getting .35 rems/year NATURAL background radiation right where you are right now.

    Divide 5 rems by your present Natural Background Radiation. For Americans, Natural Background Radiation is at least .35 rems/year. Our Natural Background Radiation uses up our 5 rems/lifetime when we are 14 years old.

    It would be very difficult [impossible] to burn enough natural gas to get 11 rems per month. “Marcellus Shale is 8 to 32 times background.” 32 times .35 = 11.2 rems/year. Dividing by 12 gives .93 rems/month if you were immersed in Marcellus Shale.

    The radiation in Marcellus Shale is greater than the natural background anywhere on the surface, but the radon in fracked natural gas is still inconsequential unless you are also living in the city of Ramsar, Iran.

    Fukushima: 573 certified deaths were due to evacuation-related stress at Fukushima.  Zero due to radiation.
    The people who died were evacuated from such things as intensive care and old folks homes.

    Here are some natural background readings from “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007:   
    Guarapari, Brazil:  3700 millirem/year
    Tamil Nadu, India:  5300 millirem/year
    Ramsar, Iran:  8900 to 13200 millirem/year
    Denver, Colorado   1000 millirem/year
    A not entirely natural reading:
    Chernobyl:  490 millirem/year

    Calculate your annual radiation dose:

  149. Hank Roberts:

    Yet another program on Muller on KQED today

    Repeats Thu, Aug 9, 2012 — 2:00 AM
    Climate One
    “Richard Muller — UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller generated headlines last fall when he said evidence for climate change “is clear and incontrovertible.” Until then, he had questioned temperature measurements gathered around the world, which he now says are valid and without bias. Muller joins the program to discuss what changed his thinking.”

    I’m thinking Talking Points Bingo would be appropriate, if anyone’s been keeping a list of the items consistently stated on each appearance.

    Double points for two mentions of “Clean fracking”…

  150. Jim Larsen:

    It looks like the Cap and Trade scheme is being scammed. In the creation of a type of refrigerant gas a second waste gas is created. Releasing it is illegal in the West, but China and India permit it. The waste gas is a tremendous GHG, so companies in India and China get 11,000(?) tons CO2 credit per ton to destroy the waste gas. Unfortunately, this makes production of the refrigerant, also a GHG, beyond profitable, with obvious results. They’re meeting complaints with an ultimatum: if you don’t give us the credits, we’ll just release the gas.

    This is one reason I prefer payments to be made for children or renewables or whatever we choose.

    Another cool recaptcha: mostbuyi themselves

  151. Prokaryotes:

    Asked whether the July heat record was linked to rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Mr. Crouch said he could not draw that conclusion. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/science/earth/july-was-hottest-month-ever-recorded-in-us.html

    Why can Mr. Crouch not draw a conclusion?

  152. Jim Larsen:


    Nice way to see where the major currents are. One surprise for me is how far away from Antarctica any significant Southern Ocean current is.

    And the link to the AC gas article is

  153. Jim Larsen:

    NASA just had another success. The X-48C flew successfully. It could increase aircraft fuel efficiency by 20-30%. Can you imagine how much this could reduce the national debt and increase NASA’s budget, assuming they don’t just give it away?


    110 Secular asked, “So the total subsidy is $7,000 or about 36 percent of the total cost — and 83 percent of that subsidy is a tax break. Is that “HUGE”?”

    To answer, I’d ask, if Ford offered a 36% rebate on their products, would you consider that huge? (And a tax “break” is only less valuable than a payment by the interest lost from time earned to tax due, which is generally 0.) (Dr Freud asks why you didn’t use the proper term “credit”? Tax “break” implies that taxes are less than “earned”. )

    By the way, you’re one of my heroes here. (There are several) I really admire the way you walk your talk.

  154. Stranger:

    Over the last several days I been hearing that the recorded temperatures have been “manipulated,” adjusted. Can I get a link to help me understand how and why the adjustments are made?

    [Response: The need to make adjustments to some raw data arises from the fact that temperature stations get moved once in a while. This isn’t anything new. See a good discussion of this, here –eric]

  155. wili:

    OK, nobody seems particularly interested in a giant cyclone system over the Arctic at this crucial time of sea ice melt–likely to mean we will smash far past the stunning low record for area and extent set on ’07. Oh well.

    Perhaps speculation on consequences may jar some discussion about this development. Here’s one view from a poster (“SteveMDMP”) at Neven’s Arctic Ice blog:

    “…methane solubility does increase with depth (pressure), and waters overlying those sediments are apparently saturated with methane in solution.

    Dekker pointed out that ocean mixing is occurring to a surprising depth with this storm.

    If deep waters saturated with methane are carried closer to the surface, that methane tends to come out of solution, like CO2 coming out of sparkling water.

    I’d expect that big methane releases are already happening with this storm.”

    Does that seem reasonable?


  156. Hank Roberts:

    > Mr. Crouch

    The interviewer asked him the wrong question. The NYT article shows him offering a useful comment, and the NYT interviewer changes the subject, perhaps fishing for a stupid-headline-type answer:

    “This clearly shows a longer-term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month,” Mr. Crouch said.

    Asked whether the July heat record was linked to rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Mr. Crouch said he could not draw that conclusion.

    One month in one state? No climatologist will fall for that setup question, it’s trying to make the man out a fool. He declined to take that bait.

    The NYT guy, notice, didn’t ask about attributing
    “A longer term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month …”

  157. Jim Larsen:

    “The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees — 3.3 degrees above the average 20th-century temperature, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Wednesday.”

    So in the +2C world we’re hoping to create, it was a tad cool in the US, eh?

  158. prokaryotes:

    Re 156 If a journalist is fishing for this kind of answers then the Scientist should explain this, saying this in 1 or 2 sentences. I think the journalist was not aware, since the context was the trend in rising temps over month.

    [Response: It’s probably worth reminding people that most scientist-journalist conversations are much longer than whatever quote was used and that context for specific statements can sometimes be lost in the story. It is almost always more correct to assume that a seemingly surprising pull quote was probably less surprising in context. – gavin]

  159. Chris Korda:

    Edward Greisch @ 147:

    “Science will solve ethics. But we don’t have ethical equations yet.”

    Somehow I don’t find this reassuring.

    “Preservation of your own species has to be the primary value.”

    Substitute race for species and this statement sets off deadly alarms.

    [edit – this is not the place for that discussion]

  160. Edward Greisch:

    155 wili: Yes, I am interested in the ice hurricane. Waiting for RC to do an article on it.

  161. SecularAnimist:

    wili wrote: “nobody seems particularly interested in a giant cyclone system over the Arctic”

    It seems eerily reminiscent of the sci-fi fantasy megastorms in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”.

  162. Chris Korda:

    @ moderator(s)

    Removing all but one sentence of my post seems disproportionate, particularly on a supposedly open thread.

    I can imagine that my second paragraph on the history of sociobiology could have lead to an unwelcome discussion, though I’m merely stating well-known facts. However I don’t see the issue with the third paragraph that begins “What makes humans special…” and would like to see it reinstated. My point was simply that climate change is an unintended consequence of cultural activity, and that while much of that activity may seem useless or worse from the point of view of strict biological determinism, it’s nonetheless essential to the development of civilization and therefore to our humanity. It’s not obvious why that should be an inadmissible argument on a climate science blog, but if it is I’d like to hear the justification. The tension between ethics and “pure” science in our response to climate change is increasingly acknowledged as important even by mainstream sources.

  163. Hank Roberts:

    > Chris Korda
    People who click on your name can engage with your full text on your blog.
    Good place for it.

  164. catman306:

    A tremendous lightning storm just rolled through my area. The lightning bolts were unbelievably powerful, crackling, and loudly thunderous, megabolts, I think they’re called. That got me thinking:

    I’ve read that 10,000 lightning bolts per second flash worldwide and can be perceived by some weather satellites.

    Does anyone keep track of Coulombs per second that are released with those bolts? That would or could be another measure of how the atmosphere is getting more energy with the increased water vapor (four percent.)

    Expert opinion would be appreciated.

  165. Prokaryotes:

    Re Arctic Cyclone, Neven Acropolis blocked about it over at CP and i posted a few relevant links. And there are other interesting comments. More links to sea ice impact and methane release are missing.

    Arcticane: Massive Storm Batters Melting Sea Ice http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/08/661461/arcticane-massive-storm-batters-melting-sea-ice/

  166. Jim Larsen:

    MoM 180 SteveF said, “Although this should be in Unforced Variations”

    Good point. Fortunately, there is nothing preventing you from migrating a conversation to where it belongs.

  167. wili:

    Thanks for the input, EG, SA, and P.

    Does anyone have the stomach for a friendly, if grim, wager on what the final minimum Arctic sea ice area (acc. to CT; or bet extent if you prefer) will be this year?

    Most of those in the know seem to assume it will be a new record, probably by quite a bit, given the storm, the loose nature of the ice, the low quantities of old ice, and the dipole system predicted to establish itself in the coming days.

  168. Patrick 027:

    Re 147 Edward Greisch – I’ll try to make this brief (and use relatively unprovoking language) so as to not get on the moderator’s nerves.

    1 see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/05/nobel-laureates-speak-out-2/comment-page-3/#comment-207739, 2nd to last paragraph, starting w/ “You can say that science tells a doctor how to save a person’s life, but“… I can think of a historical case where an education in linguistics would have helped, but ultimately, such bodies of knowledge just help in making decisions; they don’t make them.

    2a. Why?

    2b. I can see self preservation as a sort of foundation for farther work, in the same way that rights are given first to moral agents (and as a practicle matter, in the way that a philanthropist must maintain his/her self in order to continue being a philanthropist). But these are just foundations, or seeds. Where are the buildings? Where are the trees? In other words, species preserved, self preserved (not necessarily in that order? Check. Now what?

    3. The individual…(was going to pose a hypothetical with a potential alien more-than-friend vs human, the alien is nicer (etc.) so you marry her (or him*, depending on who else reads this) instead, etc., with a point about genetic survival vs survival of the mind or it’s products – what you do, what you teach your children…; and if it’s all just species preservation, pointlessness seems apt – Ayn Rand’s philosophy is more appealing, frankly (not that I go that way – although some of it is ‘common sense’ (and hence perhaps not original to that philosophy)) – and by the way, it’s all ending in some trillions of trillions of years anyway … unless…) Okay, I can’t make this brief enough.** Do you have a blog, or might we be invited to Chris Korda’s site to hash this out? (I should really get my own blog, shouldn’t I? Any pointers?)

    *would the genders/s__ match up? Etc.? Philosophers are often allowed to use unlikely scenarios in order to elucidate the matter – I think it can be analogous to taking functions that seem to interpolate some data (common sense) and extrapolating them well out of the original domain to better distinguish them where they diverge. Think of it as using large masses and fast speeds to test Relativity vs. Newtonian mechanics (the flip side – the distinctions might not be of practical importance for many people, unless…).

    **well, actually that parathetical statement might have taken care of it (although I would have liked to elaborate), but this might not get past moderation anyway. Oh well… (I’m being sure to keep a copy of this so I won’t lose anything if it’s deleted)

  169. Patrick 027:

    Re Chris Korda – Well I tried posting to your blog and I had to go through some extra hoops – I don’t really understand what I’m getting into with a google account vs open id – I posted once or twice at Rabett Run and faced the same decision, then, but I’m not sure what I did with open id – … ? out of time, gotta go… (PS enjoy philosophy, but don’t want to get into it too much more right now because I was going to post something here about what actually causes obliquity to vary, etc. (celestial mechanics, relevant to climate via orbital forcing and something called ‘climate friction)… interesting stuff)…

  170. Edward Greisch:

    162 Chris Korda: But you didn’t read any sciobio or even check out The Brights project on “Good without god.” There are almost 2000 books on sciobio in the Library of Congress, so I know you haven’t read them all since yesterday. Ethics WAS an important branch of philosophy and an important branch of religion.

    Sciobio has nothing to do with your rant on http://metadelusion.blogspot.com/
    I agree with RC on cutting your comment. Sciobio is like other science, not like wild aberrations. The point is that scientists no longer need to look to the Philosophy department for ethics. RC scientists are good enough at ethics.

    I see that you claim to be an artist. Take a degree in physical science please.

  171. Prokaryotes:

    Re 167 wili
    I wonder if the ice sheets affected from the wind forces do refreeze (which means the sheet is much more prone to further melt, since the thickness is unequally distributed and the structure is scattered) or if the melt initself is accelerated too, because of the energy absorbed. There are probably some chaotic drifts and outflows now in ice sheets which went lose from the storm.

  172. Dan H.:

    SteveF has a good point. I do not know if others will follow, but I will start. As Ray mentioned, hunger and poverty are two sides of the same coin, and combating hunger without combating poverty is futile. Historically, those areas that rose out of poverty, also drastically reduced hunger. The same cure then, stands today.
    Some have asserted that simple resource relocation will solve the problem. This drastically over-simplifies the problem. The other assertion is that modern animal agriculture has caused world-wide hunger. This is even more ridiculous. While overpopulation has not helped world hunger, it is not the cause, and never has been. There have been hunger well before the globe topped one billion people, let alone seven. The main cause then is the same as today: poverty. We could distribute all the world’s food to those in need today, and still have the same problem tomorrow. The extra money also goes a long way towards tackling global environmental problems. More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.

    [Response: Try that argument in the slums of Lagos or Mumbai. Telling poor people to have more children in order to get wealthier and improve their environment is a joke, and not a very funny one. If that isn’t what your position is, then your comment is clearly confusing correlation with causation, and provides no guidance whatsoever for policy action. – gavin]

  173. Yves:

    Wili (155)
    I’m very interested in this topic and again, thanks for linking to Neven blog, there are lots of updated information. As I’ve said before, I too would be interested in a synthetic post at Realclimate.
    About the methane I’ve noticed a resumption of the increase from 2007, after years of stationary concentrations (2000-2007) at 250% of the preindustrial levels. I think the Arctic explanation is plausible but seems to be highly debated as the explanation for this recent rise(http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/the-puzzle-of-rising-methane/ – according to Dr Dlugokensky from NOAA, the Arctic clathrates play a minor role in this rise. Other factors such as production of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing are candidates for explaining it, and hotspots are visible in several regions). The problem with methane is the multiplicity of the sources, natural as well as anthropic, and human intervention has suppressed natural sources of methane (e.g. wetlands).

  174. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment.

    I guess that explains the surface, atmosphere, oceans and even orbital space as we know it today. Brave, DanH, you have outdone yourself.

  175. Dan H.:

    Where did you get that idea that telling poor people to have more children will improve their lot? To think that poverty is just correlated with hunger, and not the direct cause, is clearly lacking in good judgment. You can joke about all it you like, but this is very serious to many people.

    [Response: do you even read what you write? Read it again, and then ask yourself who suggested the correlation bewteen more people and wealth . #danhfail – gavin]

  176. flxible:

    DanH: “More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.”

    So as the U.S. has grown and become “wealthy”, the U.S. environment has become cleaner?? This “truth” from a cornucopian professor of business supported by CATO completely disproves the concept of sustainability?? Where does all this additional wealth come from? Regardless of your assertions, growth based on exploitation of the planets resources does have limits, except for the growth of the number of humans starving – and in poverty.

  177. Dan H.:

    I reread both our responses. You were the only suggesting that having more people translates into more wealth. gavinfail.

    My contention was that increased wealth reduces hunger and leads to better attention to the environment. Check history.

    [Response: Quote: “More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.” – now think about the ‘more people’ bit. – gavin]

  178. Steve Fish:

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Aug 2012 @ 10:05 PM and
    Comment by Dan H. — 10 Aug 2012 @ 6:42 AM

    This would not normally be a problem but I am not SteveF.


  179. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 9 Aug 2012 @ 11:03 AM in My oh Miocene! (MoM), and subsequent there and here:

    The links you provide in your post around #170 in MoM talk about the millions that could be fed if everybody went veggie. I don’t doubt this and I also agree with Ray Ladbury, ~#175 MoM, that big agriculture, and I am including that done just for human food, is very damaging and not sustainable.

    I think that you, and several others you are arguing with, are just raising side issues. To put a sharper point on my criticism, after you turn all of the ag land currently used to feed meat animals over to feeding people, how long will it be before the population will have increased to use up all the extra food? What do you propose to do next after this? Perhaps find out what the most efficient food crop is and everybody gets gruel and soylent green? Then, what do we do after that?

    Global warming and all of the associated and parallel problems we talk about here require a sapient integrated and expensive approach, otherwise, playing around with a small part of the problem will have the same result as doing nothing at all. Steve

  180. Chris Korda:

    Edward Greisch @170

    “I see that you claim to be an artist.”

    This sounds suspiciously like a troll but I’ll give it the benefit of doubt. I am indeed an artist and a well-known composer of electronic music, but I’m also a software engineer with over 30 years of experience, specializing in parallel processing, embedded systems and color 3-D printing; see my resume on LinkedIn. I know more than enough physical science to follow the commentary at RC.

    Your sly implication that sociobiology is a physical science is unsupported at best. Many of sociobiology’s claims are still controversial even with the science community. For a summary, see Wikipedia/Sociobiology/Criticism.

    Your assertion that ethics are unimportant is equally unsupported. I doubt you’ll find much sympathy for this view even on RC, nor do I believe that E.O.Wilson made such a simplistic argument. Wilson is certainly an expert on ants, and his philosophy is very stimulating, particularly in “Consilience,” but he’s not the last word on ethics by any means.

    The larger issue is that transhumanism and extropy are extreme minority positions, Ray Kurzweil’s self-serving publicity notwithstanding. Stephen Hawkin may believe that “Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” however many respected scientists would vehemently disagree, and are devoting their lives to achieving a more positive outcome here on Earth.

  181. Ray Ladbury:

    Dan H.,
    You need to be careful about how you define “wealth”. The US is by all accounts a wealthy nation, and yet we have millions who suffer from hunger and millions more who suffer from poor nutrition. In contrast, in a poor country like Sri Lanka, the incidence of outright food insecurity is relatively low. Yes, it will be easier for a “wealthy” person to buy food, but there is a lot more to such wealth than national GDP.

    I think a lot of the trouble you get into here is a result of imprecision in your language.

  182. Chris Korda:

    In a discussion of climate change and its potential solutions, it’s important to consider what we’re saving, and what we’re saving it for. If the goal were only biological survival in the narrowest sense, the problem of climate change would be greatly simplified. For example, imagine a group of geneticists willing and able to reengineer humans so that they no longer posed any threat to each other or their environment. I’m not advocating this, nor is it even my idea: It’s the central premise of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake.” The geneticists’ motto could easily be something like “Preservation of [our] species has to be the primary value.”

    Most people would (or should) be horrified by the world “Oryx and Crake” and its sequel describe. The books indirectly draw attention to the fact that climate change threatens much more than mere biological survival. What’s at stake is the survival of human values. Increasingly those values are no longer tribal or national but global, at least in theory. Science has flourished in the age of reason, but that age was a long time coming, and its persistence is by no means assured, even in the short term. Science is inextricably entwined with civilization and democracy, and all the rights and responsibilities they entail. The ethical assertions of equality and universality at the core of the American and French revolutions sustain science just as much as the humanities. Science sinks or swims with civil society. In Margaret Atwood’s nightmare, science is doomed.

    By mitigating climate change, we’re trying to save not merely people’s DNA, but their culture, which paradoxically is also the source of climate change. We’re trying to save not just literacy, tolerance, and reasoned debate, but also art, music, and all the less obvious cultural artifacts that make life worth living. This is what makes the problem of climate change so intractable. It’s not enough to just reduce CO2. The challenge is to reduce CO2 humanely, preserving not only the oceans and forests but also the fragile traditions of increasing civil rights and intellectual freedom within which science and so much else have evolved. We’re more likely to succeed if we’re clear about the goal.

  183. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “it’s important to consider what we’re saving, and what we’re saving it for”

    There will, of course, be different answers to those questions from different people, since each of us wishes to save what we value, and different people value different things.

    Indeed, those who oppose taking the necessary actions to mitigate global warming — principally the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels — do so precisely because they wish to “save” what they value, namely the trillions of dollars in profit that they expect to rake in from continuing business-as-usual for several more decades.

    Speaking for myself, at this point, I am most concerned about “saving” the Earth’s biosphere from utter destruction. Saving human civilization is a secondary consideration.

    The pathologically anthropocentric view that the world consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” for human consumption is really the root of all of our “environmental” problems (and indeed the very word “environment” embodies that view). I don’t think that “solutions” based on that view can solve the problems created by that view.

  184. Dan H.:

    You may have a point about imprecision, but that is no excuse for some people twisting words around to obcure their meaning. Yes, even wealthy nations have their poor, but the incidents have decreased dramatically over the years (centuries). Poorer countries (like Sri Lanka) have also seen a reduction in hunger as poverty has decreased. Only the poorest countries have not seen amy reductiom in the number of hungry (wars and poor governments excluded).

    An aside to Steve. The amount of land used for agriculture has decreased in most of the West, while agricultural output has increased markedly. In the U.S., land use for farming peaked around 1950, and has declined ~20% since. Yet, food production has increased several fold.

  185. flxible:

    Steve@ 179 – as I pointed out earlier, overpopulation is the single real problem that drives our unsustainability, throwing money at “sapient” approaches [what DanH appears to favor] will no more solve that than a diet of gruel . . . “When we tug a single thing in nature we find it attached to the rest of the world” John Muir

    I am not proposing to ‘turn all animal ag related land over to human food’, I’m disagreeing that industrial agriculture is not a problem. Jim and Dan would have everyone provided with a diet comparable to the U.S. while denying that’s unsustainable. What does [“playing around with a small part of the problem will have the same result as doing nothing”] say about individual lifestyle choices? Conservation is no contribution?

    What “integrated, expensive approaches” would you propose? Would the expense be monetary or moral/ethical? Do you have a plan to convince politicians of all stripes everywhere to get aboard? Religions of all persuasions? Rich and poor? Overfed and starving? Will this approach throttle the climate change ‘in the pipeline’? Sapience [displaying sound judgment in a complex, dynamic environment] is not a generally an attribute of crowds, the crowd of humanity is foam on the ocean. I’m afraid nature bats last.

  186. Unsettled Scientist:

    > Sustainability (of ground water), a new paper in Nature

    “In many parts of the world, groundwater is being extracted for agricultural use and human consumption at a greater rate than the Earth’s natural systems can replace it. Tom Gleeson and colleagues estimate the true scale of the problem using a newly developed concept called the ‘groundwater footprint’ — defined as the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services. The authors find that globally, the groundwater footprint exceeds the aquifer area by a factor of about 3.5. Overexploitation centres predominantly on a few agriculturally important aquifers in arid or semiarid climates, especially in Asia and North America. The groundwater footprint could serve as a useful framework for analysing the global groundwater depletion data sets emerging from NASA’s GRACE satellites.”

    Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint

    “Here we define the groundwater footprint (the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services) and show that humans are overexploiting groundwater in many large aquifers that are critical to agriculture, especially in Asia and North America. We estimate that the size of the global groundwater footprint is currently about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers and that about 1.7 billion people live in areas where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat. That said, 80 per cent of aquifers have a groundwater footprint that is less than their area, meaning that the net global value is driven by a few heavily overexploited aquifers.”

    “It’s not sustainable,” Gleeson says. “We don’t know how long the aquifers will last.”

  187. Kevin McKinney:

    “Most people would (or should) be horrified by the world “Oryx and Crake” and its sequel describe. The books indirectly draw attention to the fact that climate change threatens much more than mere biological survival. What’s at stake is the survival of human values.”

    Yes, that is one reason why this musician is very concerned about climate change. As one of my colleagues remarked, “It’s a luxury to sit around in a classroom talking about Mozart.”

    2 C+, and it’s going to be an increasingly inaccessible luxury. 6 C+, and how many will still, after a couple of decades, even *heard* of Mozart?

    Music will survive of course. No doubt mothers will still croon to babies, be the latter never so malnourished. But the requiems available in any potential 6 C+ world seem very likely to be much humbler than Mozart’s final opus.

  188. Jim Larsen:

    178 Steve Fish said, “This would not normally be a problem but I am not SteveF.”

    This reminds me of when my best friend and I were wandering a field. I found a trowel and threw it with all my might in an unoccupied direction, but it flew like a boomerang, impacting the top of my friend’s skull (handle-ended, fortunately), with a wondrous and resounding thonk!

    So, though I apologized, it was impossible to not LOLOL.

  189. prokaryotes:

    early-August 2012 Greenland ice reflectivity dips again below 2 standard deviations
    As in the mid-July case, the early August ice sheet albedo has declined to an average more than 5% (or 2 standard deviations) below the average of the previous 12 years (2000-2011). A “2-sigma” event has a probability of occurrence under 5% in a random climate. http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=691

  190. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 10 Aug 2012 @ 2:05 PM:

    One of your links blares “Vegetarianism and the Environment Why going meatless saves the planet.” Did I misunderstand?

    The integrated approach is what all leaders, power brokers, and robber barons will have to sign on to. I don’t know how they can be convinced other than, for the US contribution, to have a leader who is also a conservative Christian redneck environmentalist with a graduate level education and uncommon sense so that she is willing, and capable, of understanding what the stakes really are, and who is so charismatic that the bad guys couldn’t play swiftboat.

    The actual changes that have to be integrated are already known. Ehrlich and many others have elaborated how populations voluntarily stop increasing and even decline, but it costs a lot. We already have the technology and products that will make sustainable energy and reduce CO2 emission, reduce ocean acidification, and deal with peak oil, but it would be expensive. We know how to minimize damage to, and repair, marine and dry land ecologies, but it would cost us. We can make fresh water and farm sustainably but it is expensive. We are capable of spending enormous amounts of money on meaningless wars without even blinking, what could we all do with a little sacrifice.

    What it comes down to is the sapient part…… naaah, it will never happen. Steve

  191. wili:

    These images, should you dare to watch them, indicate that all old 6+ meter ice left the Arctic over this summer through the Fram Strait. Everything that’s left is thin and weak, waiting only the right (wrong) combination of wind and weather patterns to vanish completely. We are truly in a different world.


  192. Patrick 027:

    Re 170 Edward Greisch
    No re me?

    But you didn’t read any sciobio or even check out The Brights project on “Good without god.” There are almost 2000 books on sciobio in the Library of Congress,
    Maybe not Chris Korda, but that describes me. However, 1. I have no problem with morality without God (PS interesting question for creationists: if God had not created us but merely found us and adopted us, would s/he love us any less? Also, a possible purpose of evolution (for the religious): so we can see what has happened, so that we might understand what can happen, so we know the consequences of our actions – AGW. Also, asteroid deflection. Etc.). 2. There is a basic matter of logic which does not require a background in the specifics of any science field.

    The point is that scientists no longer need to look to the Philosophy department for ethics. RC scientists are good enough at ethics.

    As a practical matter, they don’t need to look to the philosophy department because they already know right from wrong. Presumably many scientists are not only scientists – they are whole people, capable of philosophical inquiry as well; same for any other job/occupation/career/area of expertise/favorite endeavor.

    I would add to my prior statement regarding species preservation, that of course, any other inteligent life, especially if far removed from the lineage, may not be able to experience the products and records of humanity the way humans can. It would be like maintaining computer files without resaving them in updated formats, etc. – eventually they may be unrecoverable. However, a sufficiently inteligent species should be able to develop translating capabilities. (Like how somewhere along the line, people forgot how to read a line in one of Paul’s letters (in the Bible), but now anyone so far as I know would understand it correctly.) PS (Now, if you can beat the speed of light, you could cross such immense distances that you increase the probability of possibly finding a world almost just like ours, except maybe their hominid lineage turned into mermaids or whatever… speaking of which, consider the implications of a speciation event in homo sapiens’ decendants after colonizing space and then having some period of isolation…)

    Why that? Being remembered, or having left a mark/legacy, is a way to cheat death – sort’a.

    That said, I think rational self-interest is much closer to the mark than species preservation, although I find it still lacking (even if many, in caring about other beings, find it in their own interest to help others because they care, or aside from that, even if rational self interest *tends* to lead to some level of fairness, etc, … well, you know (or maybe you don’t)). (Lest anyone think otherwise, Randites would likely consider me a ‘statist’, from what I have read).

    Do the right thing. Otherwise, enjoy life. Let/help others enjoy life. Be yourself, be known. Know, learn. Understand and appreciate, experience, feel, percieve. Do. Beauty. Wisdom. Love. Fun. None of which need always be mutually exclusive. (Enjoyment not limited to blatantly simply happy – listenint to a sad song and crying cathartically, etc.)

    Re 180,182 Chris Korda

    Stephen Hawkin may believe that “Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” however many respected scientists would vehemently disagree, and are devoting their lives to achieving a more positive outcome here on Earth.

    Because I refered to Stephen Hawking earlier, I just want to clarify, in case necessary, that what I earlier refered to was his take on ‘the meaning of life’, which was a TV episode in the series (I think it was called) “Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design” – I think the point about the meaning of life was independent of any views on colonizing other worlds or for that matter, God.

    I wouldn’t assume that AGW would be the motivator for colonizing space/other worlds. It might be asteroid impacts or other such things. Plagues (PS one reason for wanting genetic diversity, which is one reason for wanting a population of some size (others including the benefits of specialization, …), which is why species preservation may depend on more than a handful of survivors…) Even if we do everything we can to survive on Earth and protect the biosphere, things happen… and the Sun won’t last forever. That said, I’m very much in favor of making it work here, and for that matter, without genetically altering ourselves (except in curing specific diseases, of course), or accepting poverty as the only answer, etc. (PS not having read that book “Oryx and Crake”, generally there would be a point where genetic alteration is not by definition preserving the species, although it may preserve the lineage(?).) (Although it would be fun to be able to experience ‘superhuman’ existence in some ways, (without purposeful* genetic alteration) … http://abcnews.go.com/2020/real-life-mermaids-superhumans/story?id=10771939Hannah Fraser )

    *some evolution is perhaps inevitable, especially in optimistic scenarios when humanity goes for the long-haul.

    What’s at stake is the survival of human values.“…”literacy, tolerance, and reasoned debate, but also art, music, and all the less obvious cultural artifacts that make life worth living.” YES! I think that last phrase is quite important. Well-being may sum it up well.

    (To some extent this can be measured in economic terms, and a CO2eq externality (climate + ocean acidification) tax could be formulated as such, although I do not wish to forget that… (Ray Ladbury’s point at 181, Susan Anderson at 124 – although putting ecosystem services or anything else into economic terms for policy purposes needn’t involve privatization (or it’s associated degradation, including simply that nature isn’t really nature if it’s owned) (and in a world with no public property (or ‘fair use’), the human psyche is suffocated) – See also in-line response to Eli Rabett @ July 3, 9:57 pm @ http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/06/27/the-melting-north/ – if putting things in economic terms doesn’t reduce emissions enough for whatever is justified, then the accounting needs correcting.)

    This is what makes the problem of climate change so intractable. It’s not enough to just reduce CO2. The challenge is to reduce CO2 humanely,

    Yes, although that’s always the challenge with any such pursuit. This shouldn’t really be news to anyone (except those people advocating reducing the carbon footprint by reducing immigration – this is but the thinnest most transparent greenwashing of something rather brown http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/413205/april-25-2012/the-word—united-we-can-t-stand-them , description here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/26/colbert-global-warming-caused-by-immigrants/ – in one of my earlier commenting experiences, somebody actually suggested immigration as an issue WRT AGW (and not in the climage refugee sense) (of course, population growth is an issue, but immigration only affects that indirectly, and, well…) – and I think the same person, when I made a point about fairness, asked what that had to do with it, sense all CO2 molecules are equal, or something like that – it was nuts! But I think most people who are actually concerned about AGW are not so crazy/(other words I won’t use)).

    We’re more likely to succeed if we’re clear about the goal.” – outside of those who think it’s all about saving the polar bears, I’m not sure it hasn’t been clear, but sure, let’s be explicit.

    Re 183 SecularAnimist

    Speaking for myself, at this point, I am most concerned about “saving” the Earth’s biosphere from utter destruction. Saving human civilization is a secondary consideration.

    But who will deflect the killer asteroids?

    The pathologically anthropocentric view that the world consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” for human consumption is really the root of all of our “environmental” problems (and indeed the very word “environment” embodies that view). I don’t think that “solutions” based on that view can solve the problems created by that view.

    It could solve the problems that that view would admit are problems.

    I want to be able to eat chocolate. I want air-conditioning. I want music and TV. I want fun with friends/etc. But I also want to see the birds and the flowers… and I want to know that they are still there, not just where I can see them, but out in wilderness areas and nature preserves, whether I ever travel there or not, or see them on videos or not. I have my own selfish reasons for wanting to preserve at least some of nature. Prima facie (important philosophical term), I would preserve nature regardless of it’s value to me or other people …

    – PS to me this can mean allowing the next ice age to happen (would have scientific value to live through that), etc, not simply holding everything in stasis. This actually means that my own desire to preserve nature runs counter to this idea in the long run, because it will all be engulphed in stellar fire lest we move the Earth or …

    … I’m not sure how I would balance that against human desires, though, and at least as a tactical measure, I wouldn’t advocate AGW-mitigation much on this basis. But I would hope in general people do ‘selfishly’ (in a group sense, for humans or other inteligent beings) desire to protect the biosphere, for aesthetics, for science, and for material ecosystem services.

    (I agree about the linguistic point WRT “environment”)

  193. flxible:

    Yes Steve, you did misunderstand, I didn’t link a headline, I gave a pointer to Dan to some of the facts re the effects of industrial meat. But OK, without changing the increasingly meat centered dietary habits the U.S. [primarily] is selling to the entire world, there is no possibility humanity is sustainable, so going meatless, or nearly, may be the only way to ‘save the planet’.

    “…. naaah, it will never happen”
    Exactly, although I personally haven’t found it a sacrifice to live the items you list, and strive to not contribute to that ecological decline. So if individual efforts at “harmony” are pointless, I’m not bothered, OTOH I know that until nearly every individual makes the effort, no group resolution will occur, there isn’t likely to be a 2nd coming in the near future.

  194. Patrick 027:

    Re 148 Edward Greisch – I think the concern is radioactive material and other things getting into the water – which isn’t just around you in some evenly-distributed way, if you drink it or ingest something that drinks it etc. Does that change things?

    Re 150 Jim Larsen – yes, that sucks. I guess I can see why, out of political necessity, it was constructed that way; it shouldv’e been different (they should pay for emitting it). I wonder if it could’ve been different if the U.S. had been more on the ball for the last 20-30 years.

  195. Jim Larsen:

    183 Secular said, ” those who oppose taking the necessary actions to mitigate global warming — principally the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels — do so precisely because they wish to “save” what they value, namely the trillions of dollars in profit that they expect to rake in ”

    There are many reasons for a stance, and for some folks your description is apt. But one must ask what percentage of one’s political opponents are sociopaths? Obviously, most people have rationales which don’t cause severe dissonance in their own mind. More common a belief is probably that fossil fuels prevent poverty and starvation, and the heroes who provide them are justifiably compensated. (Brave men died in the Gulf Blowout while protecting your freedom to drive.) Can you imagine how bad the economy would be today if fracking hadn’t come along and saved us?

    On reproduction and food: The population problem is much like the ozone problem. It’s “solved” but getting over the effects from past sins will still cause problems. We’re going to 10 billion, and then we’ll slope down, until we stop dying.

    Jim Bullis, farms are going to go robotic. Small bots buzzing and crawling around zapping pests and weeds. Everyone will have those, even for lawn care. I’m concerned that in a vehicle as expensive as yours, adding 200 lbs of flesh that demands a pay check won’t be economically viable. Not much AI or vision needed for a picking/planting cart. Could you explain how the human interacts with the big bin way out back?

  196. Jim Larsen:

    Jim Bullis,

    As is often the case, I erred on taking too long a view, I think, along with too pessimistic a view on how long it takes to provoke a systemic change.

    Still, I see your cart as a Gentleman Farmer’s tool. In “real” farming, how easy something is, or whether it might lead to back strain is not an input into the equation, beyond humanitarian limits.

    So, perhaps a link to a bit where you describe how the farm owner will benefit from adopting your tool? A year in the life of JB’s cart…

  197. Edward Greisch:

    Sociobiology is a system of ethics and morality. As a system of ethics and morality, sociobiology has the advantage over philosophical systems of being grounded in experimental fact.

    Sociobiology is also a branch of the science of biology. Sociobiology is also part of our culture. Sociobiology gives results that are in line with the moral and ethical instincts of most humans. 4% are not altruistic enough. Some percentage is too altruistic.

    Human culture is continually created and modified as long as humans exist. Without humans, there is no human culture. The argument over culture vs the survival of the species “Homo Sapiens” is therefore moot and vacuous. It comes back to the fact that we must stop GW to protect both human culture and the species “Homo Sapiens.” This is an ethical argument. Since protecting culture is automatic upon protecting the species, no separate argument for culture is needed unless you want to protect a particular culture. Protecting a particular culture is unlikely to work through a population crash.

    Evolution never stops. Evolution has no set direction. Evolution’s future cannot be predicted.

    Sociobiology has nothing whatsoever to do with eugenics. Eugenics is an abomination that cannot work.
    I have never heard of “Oryx and Crake” before.

  198. Jim Larsen:

    190 Steve Fish said, ” I don’t know how they can be convinced other than”

    Answering with meat, but pick your product: If you want a 90% reduction in meat production in the USA, then gather the meat producers and create a plan which will provide them, guaranteed as a group but not individuals, 10% more profit than they make today to market and produce a naturally-fed 90% less meat diet. Everyone in the supply chain gets a 10% raise (excluding costs) to gradually (I’m for gradual. If a change doesn’t take 10 years to phase in, it’s too small or too fast) ramp down to 90% less output while changing to a “less efficient” model (natural feed). Phase the feeding at the trough out, and you’ve got a new, healthy, environmentally-friendly system.

  199. wili:

    This is proving to be a very dramatic ice melt season in the Arctic. Can we have a thread dedicated to it before it’s over?

  200. Jim Larsen:

    10%…. well, I was trying to save the taxpayer money. Probably 25-50% increased profits. Still worth it.

  201. J Bowers:

    Some light reading for the weekend?

    * Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Inhibits Nitrate Assimilation in Wheat and Arabidopsis. Bloom et al (2010).
    * Sharply increased insect herbivory during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. (Currano 2007)
    * Insects Will Feast, Plants Will Suffer: Ancient Leaves Show Affect Of Global Warming.
    * Grassland Responses to Global Environmental Changes Suppressed by Elevated CO2. (Shaw 2007)
    * Photosynthetic inhibition after long-term exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide. (DeLucia 1985)
    * Insects Take A Bigger Bite Out Of Plants In A Higher Carbon Dioxide World.
    * Crock of the Week – Don’t it make my Green World Brown
    * Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations
    * Widespread crown condition decline, food web disruption, and amplified tree mortality with increased climate change-type drought
    * Temperature dependence of growth, development, and photosynthesis in maize under elevated CO2 (PDF)
    * Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming
    * Europe-wide reduction in primary productivity caused by the heat and drought in 2003
    * Nitrate assimilation in plant shoots depends on photorespiration
    * Grassland Responses to Global Environmental Changes Suppressed by Elevated CO2
    * Climate change, interannual weather differences and conflicting responses among crop characteristics: the case of forage quality (Seligman & Sinclair, 1995)
    * Climate change, plant diseases and food security: an overview – Chakraborty & Newton (2011)
    * Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat – Battisti & Naylor (2009)
    * “Shredded Heat” – Crop Failure and Climate Change
    * Increased crop failure due to climate change: assessing adaptation options using models and socio-economic data for wheat in China – Challinor et al (2010)
    * Russia’s Heat Wave Wilts Crops
    * Russia swelters in heatwave, many crops destroyed

    The ideal temperature for crops would appear to be ~30C +/- 5C, with a maximum of ~40C before crop photonythesis loses efficiency due to stomata closing to avoid too much evaporation, and the enzymes involved denature.

  202. flxible:

    “… guaranteed as a group but not individuals, 10% more profit …”
    “Everyone in the supply chain gets a 10% raise …”

    “Phase the feeding at the trough out, and you’ve got a new, healthy, environmentally-friendly system.”

    Don’t the first 2 negate the last? We need to phase out humans feeding at the trough.

  203. Jim Larsen:

    It ain’t just those evil cows!

    Some folks studying trees in Connecticut noticed that their cores sometimes spat and sputtered. Seems the trees get infected and damp rot from the inside out, building up pressurized methane. In their area, CO2 sequestration’s effectiveness was reduced 18% because of the phenomenon.


  204. Edward Greisch:

    194 Patrick 027: The water supply for the city of Ramsar, Iran is a well which delivers water in which radium is dissolved. Ramsar is the most naturally radioactive city that I know of. ~31,000 people live there. Ramsar residents get in the neighborhood of 10 rems/month. Book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison.

    Professor Allison says radium dial painters often licked their paint brushes. The radium stays in bones. Those who got enough radium to get more than 10 rems/month got bone cancer. Those who got enough radium to get 10 rems/month or less did not get bone cancer. The radium exposure was long term because radium stays in the bones for ever. There is a threshold just over 10 rems/month.

    10 rems/month is a lot of radiation. It would be very difficult to drink that much radium. “Marcellus Shale is 8 to 32 times background.” http://www.nirs.org/radiation/radonmarcellus.pdf
    but the background is only 0.350 rems/year = 0.029rems/month
    So I take it that Marcellus Shale water would give you 0.93333 rems/month maximum if you could drink that much. You can’t get cancer from the radiation in the shale gas.

    Benzene is a much more efficient way to get cancer if that is what you want. Fracking fluid contains benzene.

  205. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Can you imagine how bad the economy would be today if fracking hadn’t come along and saved us?”

    Are you asserting that fracking “saved” the economy?

  206. Susan Anderson:

    I’m sure many of you are paying attention to the sterling job Neven is doing on continuing to cover the evolving situation in the Arctic, which looks like a game changer to this amateur. Various items linked here:

    I would not be at all surprised to see a feature in the New York Times on this this Sunday. So far, the news has hung around the periphery of a few good people in the more progressive part of the blogosphere.

    Somebody mentioned having other things to do and how much time this all eats up. True for them, and at the moment I cannot help thinking the Arctic is a kind of anti-climategate where the point of the wedge of the reality-based community is entering the discussion.

  207. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comments by Jim Larsen

    — 10 Aug 2012 @ 10:03 PM
    You say- “The population problem is much like the ozone problem. It’s “solved” but getting over the effects from past sins will still cause problems. We’re going to 10 billion, and then we’ll slope down, until we stop dying.”

    I think that this statement is a rather cavalier dismissal of the death of a great many humans from starvation and war.

    — 11 Aug 2012 @ 12:01 AM:
    Work through your just-so story. Cut production of animal protein to 10% but maintain the same profit as the 100% plus add a 10% profit increase, over what was made on 100%, and what you get are prices so high that there is no market. The corporations that produce food are not dumb and they are a very powerful influence on government. The problem is the same as with the big corporations that are making big profits from fossil fuels, they want to continue making big profits regardless of consequences.


  208. Martin Vermeer:

    Edward Greisch #204,

    there is no nice way of saying this, but I suggest you acquire some more, eh, skepticism before believing what someone writes in a book.

    Here is an article by one of those involved in the Argonne research referred to:
    Dose-response relationships for female radium dial workers: a new look. Look especially at Tables 1 and 2 rightmost column, how small were the number of cases that this study was based on. And look at Figure 1: the curve bending down again for high doses. Do you believe that?

    One problem that epidemiologists are well aware of, is the weakness of so-called ecological studies, where lumped values of dose and incidence are regressed, without accounting for confounding variables, such as age, smoking/non-smoking, and other life-style factors. The “treshold” result from this paper is just not very convincing. And note that for the head carcinoma data, the linear-no-treshold model fits just fine (chi-square = 0.22).

    Here is an Book review of Allison’s book. Note especially

    Prior to the publication of his book he has not, to our knowledge, published any research papers in the field of radiation protection or the biological effects of ionizing radiation

    …whereas the review’s first author has published on this very subject in The Lancet!

    I am by no means an expert on radiation biology, which is why I take seriously the views of those who are. It has served me well in climatology, and I suggest the same is appropriate here.

  209. Spike:

    I was interested to see the work being done at the University of Arizona on improving solar PV output from solar farms.


  210. wayne davidson:

    #191 Wili great thanks for the link. So far so good, Arctic sea ice has melted pretty much as I expected, the Pole is in real danger of being exposed was it not for clouds, but apparent spontaneous melting of remnant 1st year ice is still possible. Surface temperatures near the North Pole are very warm, far far away from the -11 C for refreeze. This is make or break wide open weeks, 2007 extent minima is being seriously challenged, again despite the clouds. Contrarians really suffer evidence malnourishment if they continue on their dumb and dumber crusade, if they don’t understand what is going on their predictions will fail even more spectacularly. Correct Science has not failed to predict well, but still lacks PR savvy. Of which I know someone who has a lot of it by the bucket loads;
    I have met Jeremy Clarkson , http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/10/climate-change-science-fiction-jeremy-clarkson

    he is a swell British guy, he was curious about Climate change and asked questions while in the Arctic, someone with his e-mail should send him wili’s link:


    The ice-scape has changed dramatically even within the last few years since he drove around multi-year ice obstacles on their way to the old 1996 magnetic North Pole location from Cornwallis Island with cool Toyota Monster trucks.

  211. Radge Havers:


    “You may have a point about imprecision, but that is no excuse for some people twisting words around to obcure their meaning.”

    Now Dan, come on. Let’s think about this. People trying to make sense of your foggy generalities is NOT twisting your meaning, since you meaning isn’t apparent to begin with.

    If you’re not willing to think through the implications of what you’re saying, others will do it for you. Think about it. It could save you a lot of unnecessary tap dancing.

  212. David Lewis:

    @27 re: Anderson paper on ozone and thunderstorms

    It was an Anderson experiment that NASA flew into the ozone hole over Antarctica in 1987 that nailed what was happening. The result was that negotiators were able to beef up the Montreal Protocol so that we can now say most of the offending ozone depleting chemicals are practically banned.

    Anderson is preparing another experiment in collaboration with David Keith, a leading geoengineering researcher. Anderson: “if we see what we believe we will see, it will eliminate the possibility of people doing this”, i.e. one of the geoengineering Plan B‘s, the proposal to mimic a volcano, the scheme Crutzen pointed to in his pioneering paper that called for research into geoengineering, will have to be ruled out.

    David Keith doesn’t seem to think Anderson is right – he claims the concentration of ozone depleting chemicals is declining and will decline as the decades go by, which will counterbalance the increasing concentration of water vapor Anderson says triggers the reactions he’s concerned about.

    The thing is, Anderson is the ozone expert, not Keith. In all the quotes from all the articles I can find Anderson doesn’t mention the concentration of chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere, i.e. what Keith is saying is declining. What Anderson’s concerned about is that extra water vapor and if the civilization adds sulphate. Anderson is concerned about triggers for the reaction he’s worried about, not the concentration of what is triggered.

    Over Antarctica when this reaction gets going it wipes out all the ozone at certain levels in the stratosphere where it occurs. Because natural forces also transport Cl and Br into the stratosphere the fact that the concentration of ozone depleting chemicals are declining now may not matter. I.e. the limiting factor isn’t clear.

    Questions that come up for me so far:

    what about the Susan Solomon finding in 2010 that water vapor was declining in the stratosphere?

    Why did Crutzen originally propose adding sulphate to the stratosphere? Crutzen knows as much about ozone chemistry as anyone on the planet. Is it Crutzen’s view that the threat climate change presents outweighs the threat of the potential ozone depletion Anderson is concerned about?

    Is the water vapor Anderson’s observed really new, i.e. are the storms driving it into the stratosphere more powerful already, or did they just miss this in the past?

    Anderson says his concern is that sulphate even if added by a civilization feeling its existence is threatened might have to be ruled out. So, what about a big volcano? If stratospheric water is elevated by climate change and a big volcano goes off at that point do we all have to keep out of the sun for a few years until the volcano sulphate settles out of the stratosphere?

    What about the crops?

    Ozone II. The new reality. Just when you thought it was safe to walk out under the Sun…. (the theme from Jaws is playing in the background….)

  213. wayne davidson:

    I am more confident the Cirrus clouds play a major role with respect to temperatures, having equally recently observed Cumulonimbus tops disintegrate into the mysterious black aerosols, I am more and more convinced about the black dusk horizon streaks being CCN’s in great quantities.

    This prompted me to ponder on Richard Lindzen’s “Iris effect” , which may exist in another form linked with ENSO or the greater world wide Thundercloud system injecting CCN’s in the lower stratosphere. This means that ENSO makes GT surface temperatures warmer by two ways, heat exchange from ocean to air, and by injecting more
    CCN’s in the Stratosphere, in effect closing the “Iris” by creating more cirrus clouds. This has been observed locally, a greater study of world wide Cirrus extent vs ENSO variations must be done…

  214. Jim Larsen:

    “Don’t the first 2 negate the last? We need to phase out humans feeding at the trough.”

    I don’t think so, but the example isn’t meant to be robust and I won’t waste folks’ time defending or explaining or adjusting. The point is:

    If you are in a position of political strength, then tax a product to decrease its use. If you are weak, then toss cash at folks to not produce. Paying farmers to leave land fallow is a precedent.

    You want less CO2 from oil? Pay Exxon or defeat Exxon.

  215. MARodger:

    Susan Anderson @206
    The news-worthiness of this year’s Arctic melt is possibly muted in the media by thoughts of making loud predictions of a record-breaking year just in time for the melt to slow to a halt.

    We are at 5.41 Mkm^2 Extent with the record 4.26 Mkm^2 set in 2007 (JAXA daily figures). A journalist is going to have to convince his editor that 1.15 Mkm^2 melt is going to happen before the freeze starts up again.
    That’s a lot of melt. Especially as this year’s lead over 2007 is only 0.12 Mkm^2 and only arrived on the back of last week’s cyclone.

    An astute journalist would pick up on the Sea Ice Area figures. This year the ice is far more spread out than previous so while Extent is half-a-length ahead, this year’s Area is far more dramatic. It is 0.57 Mkm^2 ahead (CT daily figures) of the record year, 2011. We are at 3.15 Mkm^2 with the record 2.90 Mkm^2. That 0.25 Mkm^2 gap in context: today the drop was 0.05 & yesterday’s 0.14. We are days away from breaking the Sea Ice Area record a month before the end of the melt season. Now that is going to get into the media, but probably only after it happens which the numbers suggest will be by mid-week.

  216. Joe Cushley:

    Sorry Wayne. Jeremy Clarkson might have asked questions, but he won’t have been too bothered with your answers…

    He is not a swell guy, he is a nasty, reactionary, lying, anti-scientific ass. His followers revel in the epithet ‘petrolhead’ and he is their king. He makes a living promoting conventional car use and ridiculing hybrids and electric cars… and is prepared to lie in the cause…


  217. Jim Larsen:

    205 Secular “Are you asserting that fracking “saved” the economy?”

    No. I asserted that such is probably a common belief amongst those who vehemently disagree with you. I considered adding an aside (at the expense of the future?).

    207 Steve Fish said, “I think that this statement is a rather cavalier dismissal of the death of a great many humans from starvation and war.”

    I was attempting to counter the impression that feeding the poor just makes them reproduce. “until we stop dying” referred to life extension tech, not calamity. Even at a low birth rate, if we all live 500 years, the population will soar again.

    Here’s a great TED talk. The graphics are stellar. He discusses religion, but you can ignore that if you like. He shows how we have already reached “peak child”. There are fewer children each year than the past, so in one frame of reference human population is already declining.


  218. Jim Larsen:

    Oops, wrong word. Peak child but then a plateau, not a decline.

  219. Patrick 027:

    Re 197 Edward Greisch – okay, thanks for the clarification. Part of my/the reaction to your earlier statement regarding preservation of the species was due to it seeming to be proposed as an end, whereas I now see you say it is a means to an end, which makes much more sense to me. That said, whenever one knows of that end, it is usually helpful to highlight that, rather than the means to achieve it.**

    On altruism too much/not enough – is this based on comparison to the ‘normal’ behavioral tendencies, or a calculation of what achieves the greatest GDP/capita, longest lifespan, greatest health, highest standard of living, highest concentration of dopamine in the brain, greatest overall accumulation of knowledge and art, most fun, most love, most interesting, the greatest satisfaction with life with least regrets, the happiest ending of the story, least population falling under some threshold value of any of these things, world that would least dissapoint, etc.?


    Human culture is continually created and modified as long as humans exist. Yes.

    Without humans, there is no human culture. Yes, although aliens could (perhaps highly unlikely, which is something to consider, too) stumble upon the artifacts and reconstruct something of it, but it’s not the same as a living culture… (Why that? The individual dies regardless of the species.)

    The argument over culture vs the survival of the species “Homo Sapiens” is therefore moot and vacuous. It comes back to the fact that we must stop GW to protect both human culture and the species “Homo Sapiens.” This is an ethical argument. Since protecting culture is automatic upon protecting the species, no separate argument for culture is needed unless you want to protect a particular culture. Protecting a particular culture is unlikely to work through a population crash.

    In some sense I/’we’ do very very much want to protect a particular culture. I want medicine and the variety of wonderful food crops (not the supermarket-tomatoes, the good tomatos) to continue, I want people to continue (and gain access to) the various comforts and joys of modern life (to an extent that can be sustainable, which I want to have increased with better technology and efficiency), while protecting nature for ourselves and our progeny if not just because.

    I don’t want a dark age where science is lost, etc. I want a culture that encourages a good ethics/morality, not a (in no particular order here) homophobic, sexist, racist, unfree, enslaving, xenophobic, jingoistic, militaristic, genocidal, anti-science, anti-art, anti-intellectual, poverty-stricken, ‘I got mine jack’, fear of left handed, fear of red heads, fear of tomatoes, fear of potatoes, children as property, mistreatment of those with disabilities, critical-thinking-crushing, female circ—–ing, whitch-hunting, albino-hunting, unforgiving, stoning, whipping, making fun of the different, everybody has to wear their hair the same way, marriage as a business activity, hazing, loveless, have to resort to eating turpentine and other people and digging through your own ____ to get food – … culture.

    Evolution never stops. Evolution has no set direction. Evolution’s future cannot be predicted.” Yes and no. Yes more in the long term, although I wonder if a sort of weather-v-climate issue may arise in what can and can’t be predicted. No set direction, of course.

    ** Individuals will die (apparently). There is something which absent fantastic future technology that may break physical laws, is not recoverable. I can’t be you, you can’t be me. Each individual must be their self. It would be best prima facie for this to last as long as possible for each individual, and average quality of life means little to the individual, so equality/fairness is an issue. Progeny or continuance of the species (or any other inteligent sentient beings who are able to play the role) and it’s growing cultural inheritance may be sought as a substitute for immortality, along with a continuation of one’s body of work or the work itself, that the life one had may be had again by others in some reworked version, and that their is a legacy for each, though it will disperse and fade to the background with time, as each generation must be granted the right to live for itself and cannot be burdenned with the accumulation of ancestors or other’s desires, even when those desires were not unjust or out of ignorance, but the way to better ensure those desires are met is to want for them what they would want for themselves.

    Humans, having a vivid awareness of past and future to great distances, and intergenerational relationships, would be traumatized upon living up to/through an extinction or anything near it, and so would be with an extinction of culture (as distinct to a transition to a new, better culture, although perhaps therein lies a reason for the trouble in making progress and an unfortunate stumbling block for accepting new diversity).

    However, the already dead would not technically be harmed in any way that they would find out or feel, presumably, so far as I know (though it could still be said that they would be harmed, or perhaps the issue is a matter of precedent, that it would harm future generations to think their wishes will not come to pass?)

    The continuation of the species is a means for the ends of the individuals. (While a species cannot exist without individual members, it can exist with different members as others die, at any given rate, and even if not, it deserves attention.) What those are means for, I won’t bother to speculate here.

    Re Secular Animist – final thoughts before I start typing out some physics equations…

    (PS earlier (in my 192, re Chris Korda section) when I refered to something being brown, just to be clear, it was not skin color but shirt color, and not any brown shirt (because I have worn a brown shirt and didn’t mean anything by it) but the one that is a symbol of a horrid ideology.)

    About preserving nature: humans are natural; technically anything we do will be natural (including deciding to save the planet or not, and whichever government we have), so preservation is automatic. Of course we can view the boundary of nature as being in different places. We could say it is the non-human earth, leaving both us and asteroids as the interlopers. The orbital cycles are regular enough it could be argued, in personification perhaps, that the Earth is used to it and it is part of its expected environment.

    I don’t mean to assume that humans have a monopoly on either inteligence or sentience. But we are quite special in that regard. However with great power comes great responsibility (did I just quote “Spiderman”?) (Kennedy said something very similar, though – to whom much is given, …). We should be nice to the animals. At the same time, we are animals – we breathe, we eat, we have instincts, we have trichromatic vision (not that all animals have this (many are tetrachromatic), or instincts (sponges)) – and we can enjoy this (perhaps more so than others) and it can bother us (perhaps more so than others, and especially since cultural evolution has taken us to an environment in which we are not so well adapted biologically) … but anyway, this is why I don’t prima facie have a problem with eating meat, however I wouldn’t excuse all methods of obtaining it. Etc. use of animals in general (?). At the same time we are not gods and it would be to much of a burden for us to care for all life in the same way with the same intensity that we care for ourselves or other similarly inteligent sentient beings if they should ever show up (not that you ever indicated otherwise). We may hold some animals in special regard (apes, dolphins, cows, swans, horses, hummingbirds, butterflies, baby penguins, kangaroos – sometimes for aesthetic or traditional reasons but anyway…). But generally we let wildlife go on in a state of nature and may sometimes participate in the natural affairs as animals – our responsibility as people would be to do it sustainably and without unnecessary harm – and perhaps with limited extent. Without going against that, we could protect that state of nature for nature’s sake.

    Just some thoughts.

    Re Chris Korda – quickly:

    different ways of establishing a CO2eq tax rate that may converge toward the right answer or at least serve as a double-check (ideally they should lead to the same, maybe with some exceptions):

    1. bottom up evaluate the economic value of the harms. Seek maximize either global net GDP or that value per capita.

    2. establish some threshold standard of living (include access to parks and natural areas, ability to sustain constitutional democracy, etc.) you want everyone to have (at least), figure out what the requirements (economic and ecological) of that are, determine an optimal CO2 trajectory, set tax rate or other policy in order to achieve it.

    3. set a safety threshold (2 deg C), etc. (for risks to ice sheets, ecosystems, government collapse, food production) – top down.

    … Sorry, I think I had this better thought out before I started typing it (they seem to be blending into each other, and some of the bottom up stuff requires information from top down stuff and vice versa?). But I really should move on now.

  220. Patrick 027:

    “trichromatic vision ” – most of us, sorry, didn’t mean to … okay.

  221. grypo:

    Well it appears the entire world is now utterly confused about what is good and what may be bad about the Hansen paper. I blame violent video games.

  222. Chris Korda:

    [edit – OT]

  223. Chris Korda:

    SecularAnimist @183:

    I am most concerned about “saving” the Earth’s biosphere

    Saving the biosphere is a laudable goal, but the question stands: what are we saving the biosphere for?

    The biosphere is ephemeral. Bacteria will ultimately inherit Earth, and witness its destruction. This is arguably just, since bacteria are the most adaptable, the most abundant and have been here the longest. Even within your body, bacteria grossly outnumber your cells. To say that we exist in symbiosis with bacteria is a charitable interpretation. It’s more accurate to say that we exist at the behest of tiny but exceedingly powerful and numerous organisms which are completely indifferent to our fate.

    If we’re saving the Earth for bacteria, we needn’t bother, because they don’t need our help. It’s we who need help, along with our fellow apex predators. There’s an ethical argument that other organisms enjoy existence as much as we do, and therefore have intrinsic value and an inalienable right to exist. This is closely related to arguments previously advanced for universalism and civil rights. In the 20th century many nations became sufficiently enlightened to extend intrinsic value to all human beings, regardless of their race, color or creed, at least in theory. In the 21st century we’re in the process of adding sexual orientation to the list, and non-humans could well be next.

    Most civilized people support animal rights to some extent, but few would accept that plants also have rights, let alone bacteria. Obviously humans relate to mammals most easily, because we’re biologically so similar to them. People can easily tell that their cat or dog is asleep, bored, or in pain, but they’re less likely to identify with the internal states of non-mammals. Are we saving Earth for mammals then? E.O.Wilson would surely object, “What about ants?”

    If we’re saving the biosphere for its intrinsic value, then we have to face not only its impermanence, but also its incompatibility with many aspects of human society. Should we all become vegans? Many think so. Are we willing to abandon our machines, shrink our population, and worship nature as our aboriginal ancestors did? Or embrace Jainism and avoid harming even insects? Very few would go this far, but people are increasingly aware that we can’t continue to have everything our way, that urgent choices need to be made.

    For better or worse, humans run the show at the moment. The blade of natural selection that normally trims away failure is temporarily blunted. We routinely nourish organisms that otherwise would fail, and exterminate organisms that otherwise would succeed. In other words, we play god, by deciding what lives and what dies. Playing god is the essence of being human, and we’ll keep doing it until we tire of it, or wreck things badly enough to be forcibly demoted. We need to be honest, and admit that we’re primarily saving Earth for ourselves, so that the cultural odyssey in which we’ve invested so much time and energy can continue.

    Saving culture is not merely a technical problem. It’s not just our ingenuity, but our honor and integrity that are being tested, our willingness to make sacrifices for progress towards shared goals. Our aim is more than survival: it’s to survive with dignity, while upholding our commitments to hard-won truths and principles. If we’re saving Earth at all, we’re saving it for future generations, so that they can fulfill our ambitions, by building a wiser and more enlightened society.

  224. Patrick 027:

    Re my 219 – last part
    – you don’t need to figure out the economic value of ecosystem services directly – if you just include ecological factors in economic models you can measure climatic effects by the economy. Ideally this would include such things as the ability to find organisms, genes, substances in nature to use in medicine, food production, etc, as well as the value of nature videos, ecotourism… However, except in so far as people’s free time usage and benefit feeds back into their economic productivity and wealth, etc. (it will – think property values), this will miss some things that are important to people, mainly perhaps the unpaid aesthetic and unpaid recreational uses.

    Re 2nd to last part – I meant to say also that: You can’t (quite, usually) go home again, in regards to the Holocene. Change is inevitable (see what Edward Greisch said about evolution and culture). But we needn’t hurry it along (except when it serves some purpose such as transitioning to clean energy, or correcting an injustice, etc.). Our descendants may get to enjoy vastly different conditions (which hopefully will come about with an easy pace most of the time, or might be purposefully managed that way (let the inevitable happen but artificially pace it)?), but this is to some extent a one-way path, so it makes since to linger when possible. The Holocene’s fate may already be sealed but the anthropocene can be made more or less similar.

    And there’s other things I’ve thought of but there’s no need to say them (and for some reason I’m tired now. Philosophy can be fun but sometimes calculus is more relaxing, frankly).

    PS I’ve been reading the comments on the Arctic storm. Just didn’t have anything to contribute.

  225. Jim Larsen:

    Quote: “More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.” – now think about the ‘more people’ bit.

    A and B results in C. A absent B results in ? And how does A cause B, as I think was implied previously? I’d say even a saint has limits and your discourse with DanH is so poisoned that nothing but goop could possibly result unless structural changes are made.

  226. wayne davidson:

    216 Hi Joe, in person Jeremy was a very nice person, not because he has a huge audience, he was also dynamic and made an intelligent last minute organization decision while in the Arctic. , I dont think he is like the majority of contrarians. Contrarians don’t go around asking questions like “is Global Warming happening?” they just shoot their intellectual selves constantly by neglecting evidence proving otherwise. I don’t write to convince the choir.. I am also a big fan of Monbiot, he did well criticizing the automobile critics! But to be fair Top Gear has really put down to pasture many petrol cars. All and all the Top Gear folks could make a startling discovery by returning to make the same adventure.

  227. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Chris Korda — 11 Aug 2012 @ 3:15 PM:

    Sociobiology is not related to my area of interest, but I have read some interesting bits in Science News about ants, social wasps, marmots, and such, and really don’t think that this has much to do with eugenics. Many of your references are a bit old. Check out this article by Edward Osborn Wilson (one of the primary founders of this research area) and David Sloan Wilson (unrelated, I think). These two guys are pretty good scientists (an understatement).

  228. Dan H.:

    B is the main point in the argument. I contend that B without A will cause C (cleaner environment). I cannot say about A wihtout B, but I suspect the outcome would not be favorable. I did not make the comment about A causing B, so you would have to ask the commentator how he felt that would occur.

    Bottom line: increased wealth has historically resulted in decreased hunger. As wealth as increased further (some would say past a critical point), concern for the environment has increased. Historically, once basic needs are met, other societal concerns are tackled.

    [Response: Or not. Easter Island, Akkadian civilisations, Ancient Pueblo culture, the Mayans, etc…. – gavin]

  229. J Bowers:

    @ 226 Wayne Davidson.

    Top Gear deliberately knobbled an EV during a show to make it look like it wasn’t up to much. Decide from that what you will. You’d probably find Monckton is a decidedly nice chap in person.

  230. MalcolmT:

    Romney’s pick for VP: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/11/677051/meet-paul-ryan-climate-denier-conspiracy-theorist-koch-acolyte/

  231. Jim Larsen:

    [Response: Or not. Easter Island….

    Or the great wealth allowing us to toss out hugely powerful computers every couple of years. Fortunately, the campfire-style recycling of heavy metals is done by poor countries, so with “proper” accounting, wealth still coorelates to a clean environment.

    Dan, perhaps one could say wealth won’t abide a degraded local environment, but out of sight, well, then it becomes a debate, and generally dollars have an unfair advantage in such a discussion. A dollar would say, “As long as the poor don’t die in numbers sufficient to support a lawsuit, there’s little downside to their passing.”.

  232. Unsettled Scientist:

    The east coast of the USA got hit with the second derecho of this Summer a couple weeks ago.

    Ryan Brenizer caught this striking image of NY under the storm system

    I don’t think I’d ever heard of a derecho before this Summer, so I dug up this page on the climatology of such storms. A derecho is a line of intense thunderstorms that produces a large amount of wind damage over a long distance. To be an official derecho, the line of storms must travel at least 240 miles and contain wind speeds over 58 miles per hour in concentrated areas.

    About Derechos – Part of the NOAA-NWS-NCEP Storm Prediction Center web site

    As we are now able to attribute the increase in extreme weather events to our changing climate, it is striking that there is only a tiny portion of the US that might see 2 derechos in a season once every 3 years. This occurred in a region that usually sees one such storm system every 4 years.

  233. Patrick 027:

    Re 223 Chris Korda – “The blade of natural selection that normally trims away failure is temporarily blunted. We routinely nourish organisms that otherwise would fail, and exterminate organisms that otherwise would succeed.” – I wouldn’t put it that way. From an outsider’s perspective, we are a new part of the environment of any other species, and it may or may not adapt to us (or be fortunate enough to already have such traits). I imagine (not entirely seriously) that flowers might evolve to be pollinated by young children who like to run through the fields of flowers with their arms out. Some would suggest (perhaps for the purpose of being bold?) that our grain crops have domesticated us.

  234. Patrick 027:

    Re/cont. celestial mechanics my comments @ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/07/my-oh-miocene/comment-page-1/#comments
    Re/cont. from my 45, 48, 50-51, 54, 57-58, 62-63, 70-71, 139, 187

    Outline of future comments

    A. physics and math refresher 1, including orbits, inertial frame of reference, fictitious forces and tides.

    1. Rolling motion (easy)
    1a. trochoids, body and space cones
    1b. torque on a spherically symmetric body

    2. Chandler wobble (easy and hard)
    2a. physics refresher 2: Angular momentum, rotating reference frame, Euler equations, constant L and K ellipsoids
    2b. The Tennis Racket Theorem, the geometry of True Polar Wander and Chandler wobble – rigid case
    2c. Chandler wobble with elastic/inviscid and plastic/viscous responses
    2d. Body and space cones of the Chandler wobble, and what actually is the true rotation period, anyway?
    2e. Implications for precession

    Intermission (maybe a link to xkcd?) :)

    3. tides and tidal torque – basics (somewhat mathematically intensive)
    3a. The shape of the equatorial bulge, the shape of the equilibrium tidal bulge
    3b. tidal torque
    3c. components of the tides
    3d. tidal torque in an orbit

    4. Precession of an oblate spheroid (approximately, Earth) (mostly easy, actually)
    4a. precession following a trochoid with cusps; precession with curtate and prolate trochoidal paths (moon and sun, and hypothetical cases)
    4b. precession if the moon were held at a fixed point; precession as a revolving torque field
    4c. precession conserving angular momentum
    4d. precession as a point revolving around a moving pole – the 18.6 year and longer obliquity variations, orbital resonance

    5. long term evolution (first part is not too hard, I don’t know about the second part yet)
    5a. tidal drag and obliquity – also, the analemma
    5b. ‘climate friction’

    B. supporting derivations if anyone wants them and if there’s time

    This should be fun. (It probably sounds more complicated than it is.)
    PS do I need to download anything to do LaTex, or … how long does it take to learn it … oh well, I’ll just make the best of what I can do. That’s motivation not to get too bogged down in the equations.

    PS no relativistic stuff. I wouldn’t know where to begin, frankly.

  235. Kevin McKinney:

    “You’d probably find Monckton is a decidedly nice chap in person.”

    Judging by the video I’ve seen, he *is* quite charming with his supporters–pleasant, funny, apparently genuinely attentive. Yet if you are a foe–“foe” being someone who disagrees with his stated ideas–you will be called a thug, or compared to a broiled prawn, or some such.

    Such is human nature, sometimes–that’s one reason ad hominems are considered fallacious.

  236. Patrick 027:

    Re 209 Spike – thanks, that’s interesting!

  237. Lawrence Coleman:

    I’m going to call it, not that I have any great desire to nagivate the NE and NW passage coz I’ve just over a bad flu and it still is a bit chilly up there…but the ring route is open for business yet again, only thing to worry about is a bit of slush here and there. The ice extent graph is taking a dive again..looks very much as though we’ll post another arctic summer record. Tipping point?..what tipping point!

  238. Edward Greisch:

    [edit – OT even in open threads]

  239. Edward Greisch:

    219 Patrick 027: Preservation of our species, Homo Sap, is an end. All of culture can and will be re-created if the species continues. The situation is too dire to worry about fine points. You don’t get your choice. You don’t get to survive into the new era. Nobody can predict who the survivors will be.

    Too much altruism: Some people have so much altruism that they are self-destructive. Trying to save foreigners by letting them immigrate when doing so will result in the demise of your own descendants, for example. That is the case now. It doesn’t matter how you re-arrange people on the surface of the Earth, 4 Billion will die. Or whatever the number is. You can’t change that fact. You can’t decide who will die. You will surely die if civilization collapses.

    “Evolution never stops. Evolution has no set direction. Evolution’s future cannot be predicted.” is a standard LAW of modern biology. Extinction is forever.

    There is no time left to care about future technology. There is only time to limit the population crash enough to preserve some remnant of order.

    [T]he already dead, by definition, cannot have wishes. They are dead. There is no “afterlife.”

    Patrick 027, I see a great deal of wishful thinking in your comment. You have not yet understood the finality of what is about to happen. GW will end the current era. If we are lucky, and take extreme action now, there will be a new dawn. Climate change DRIVES evolution, but not in the direction anyone expects.

  240. Ray Ladbury:

    OK, I think Chris Korda has Godwinned the thread by equating social biology–a reasonable field of study–with eugenics–a discredited pseudoscience.

    Chris, your position is based on logical fallacy. You insist on debating your opponents by tying them–however tenuously and indirectly–to ideas/movements that are discredited or unpopular. Well, Chris, your logic was discredited by the frigging ancient Greeks.

    I guess casting aspersions on character is easier than thinking.

    [Response: This is all off-topic. No more please – gavin]

  241. John E. Pearson:

    Patrick 027 said:

    PS do I need to download anything to do LaTex, or … how long does it take to learn it … oh well, I’ll just make the best of what I can do. That’s motivation not to get too bogged down in the equations.

    You should down load TexShop. If you do that, I’d be happy to send you a draft of some manuscript that is written in latex. My gmail address is firstnamemiddleinitiallastname. The easiest way to learn LaTex is to modify an existing document. Lamport’s book is a pretty good reference. I never use it anymore. Google usually will answer any latex question that I have. If you are thinking of entering equations on RC with latex that is another matter. A year or two a go Gavin told me (us) how to do it and I tried it and thought it was too hard. I would argue that that is the consensus view since no one writes latex on RC. There are some mathier sites that have an easy to use way to enter latex.

  242. wayne davidson:

    229 J Bowers, Monckton is a highly specialized joke making the Lords look like clowns. TG didn’t like electrics because of their range, likely causing them to act up a scene, it is of course not nice to exaggerate an intent, but they are in the business of showing, something Climate experts need to get better at, and of course without the spike causing name catching memory giving made up scene.

    235 Kevin, so true, but he allows himself a passion to exaggerate to a vast audience, fabricate even delude himself, because he thinks he is right, there must be a word for that, outside of Don Quixote or poty.

  243. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):


    [Response: This is all off-topic. No more please – gavin]

    And now for something completely different… ?


  244. J Bowers:

    Wayne Davidson — “TG didn’t like electrics because of their range, likely causing them to act up a scene, it is of course not nice to exaggerate an intent, but they are in the business of showing”

    No mate, that was outright deception, not showmanship. I saw the episode, and then I found out what they did. I actually really liked Top Gear regardless of the who and what-about, but I’m right off it now as they simply can’t be trusted. They deliberately ran the car down and then made it look as if the car had run out of juice after so many miles. If Top Gear wasn’t the BBC’s biggest selling show worldwide then heads may have rolled.

  245. Patrick 027:

    Re 241 John E. Pearson – thanks. I’ll stick to what I know for now.

    (Re 239 – 1st 2 sentences contradict; I say no more)

  246. Susan Anderson:

    Can’t help thinking as I watch the Olympic closing ceremony that it embodies so much of why our civilization (if you could call it that) is flirting with endgame. All very amusing, but if you look at the front page, for example, of the BBC, it is competing with a catalogue of catastrophes.

    It has become OK to get through the day by ignoring reality and embracing fantasy.

    Well, way OT, but each time I see an expensive and energy-intensive spectacle trying to outdo the previous of its kind, I think if all that energy could be spent doing something, anything, real, it would help.

    Almost noone wants to think about it, so they don’t.

  247. Susan Anderson:

    re my previous, would you call that a choice? I don’t.

  248. wayne davidson:

    I agree J Bowers, acting is fiction!

  249. tamino:

    Re: #246 (Susan Anderson)

    I disagree. I see the Olympics as a celebration of excellence for its own sake. Perhaps the most hopeful aspect is that it’s not fantasy — it’s a demonstration that reality has more good possibilities than we usually believe.

  250. J Bowers:

    @ 248 Wayne Davidson. They’re not actors, they’re journalists.

    “Let’s just stop and think for a moment what the consequences [of global warming] might be. Switzerland loses its skiing resorts? The beach in Miami is washed away? North Carolina gets knocked over by a hurricane? Anything bothering you yet?” — JC.

  251. John E. Pearson:

    I am compiling a list of links to climate change position statements of various relevant scientific professional societies.

    So far I’ve got:

    NAS, AMS (M=meteorological) , AGU, AIP, AAAS, ACS.

    http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/pdf/position_statements/AGU_Climate_Statement.pdf http://www.aip.org/gov/policy12.html

    I must be missing some?

  252. SecularAnimist:

    John E. Pearson wrote: “I am compiling a list of links to climate change position statements of various relevant scientific professional societies.”

    Have you seen this:


  253. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “Saving the biosphere is a laudable goal, but the question stands: what are we saving the biosphere for?”

    The mentality that can even ask that question is the fundamental cause of the problem we face.

  254. Spike:

    Sorry that should read re 251



  255. John E. Pearson:

    252 SA: Thanks! I’d forgotten about the wikipedia page. It’s a big help.

    I am mainly concerned with helping Americans understand what the science is saying. I’ve been writing responses wherever I see misinformation being spread in on-line newspapers etc. I encourage RC folk to do similarly (and I know many do). I would also suggest that a non-confrontational tone is best. If you see someone spreading nonsense you don’t need to engage with them. You simply need to refute them but I believe that the refutation needs to be verifiable so that you don’t get into an “is too, is not” pissing contest. Ridicule is counterproductive.
    I converse with almost no one in this campaign. I simply post verifiable statements of fact with supporting links, usually cut and paste statements from some organization or journal article. I expect that it is effective. I think that as the drought worsens people are going to start thinking there is something to this after all and that perhaps the scientists have been correct in the assessments all along. Perhaps the political headwinds will decrease and the US will begin to address the issue.

    I have tried unsuccessfully to find an SEG position statement. Does one exist?

    This was sort of interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Association_of_Petroleum_Geologists#2007_AAPG_revised_position

  256. Unsettled Scientist:

    > If you see someone spreading nonsense you don’t need to engage with them. You simply need to refute them but I believe that the refutation needs to be verifiable so that you don’t get into an “is too, is not” pissing contest. Ridicule is counterproductive.

    Indeed, it is probably worse to engage them and the misinformation being spread than to not even reply at all. One has to be careful about correcting misinformation so as to not spread it further. One reason deniers are so successful is that by addressing their misinformation we assist in disseminating it.

    When Corrections Fail was an interesting study on this effect in the political sphere published a couple years ago.

    When someone is misinformed, correcting them may not only fail to correct their belief but actually strengthen their incorrect belief. It may be impossible to correct the misconceptions of people who have strong ideologies. So our targets should probably be those who are uninformed, rather than misinformed. Rather than refute misinformation, it may be best to just provide correct information.

    In the end, we may need to leave behind the deniers and simply not address them at all. Those who wish to deny science (be it climate, health, evolution or the big bang) simply remove their ability to participate in the expansion of human knowledge. That’s something the did to themselves, so I don’t feel bad leaving them out of the discussion.

  257. J Bowers:

    @ John E. Pearson

    Somewhat related, and demonstrates how the only survey on scientific opinion isn’t Doran or Oreskes:

    Surveys of scientists’ views on climate change

  258. Chris Korda:

    SecularAnimist @253

    “The mentality that can even ask that question is the fundamental cause of the problem we face.”

    Besmirching my mentality is not a reasoned argument. Your allegation that my views are somehow causing climate change is totally unsupported. Whatever your case may be, this isn’t helping it.

  259. Jim Larsen:

    253 SA, “Chris Korda wrote: “Saving the biosphere is a laudable goal, but the question stands: what are we saving the biosphere for?”

    The mentality that can even ask that question is the fundamental cause of the problem we face.”

    Playing out in left field is low carbon and sometimes trips over something useful.

  260. John E. Pearson:

    256: Unsettled said: …

    I agree. Perhaps “refute” was a poor choice of words. I see nonsense. I post a counter statement that is related but true. I don’t refer the original statement although I will sometimes use the “reply” mode (that most op-ed sites have) rather than starting a new comment. I like NAS as a supporting site. Muller’s op-ed piece is fairly useful no matter what one thinks of Muller. The best voice in my opinion is totally impersonal.

    If someone says “it’s the sun”, I’ll copy paste Muller’s “it’s not the sun” and provide a link. It’s a tricky business as you need authority but you need to try not to be overly technical. If you lash out they win.

  261. Patrick 027:

    (re 258 – I believe 253 was refering to ‘The’ mentality, not really your mentality – ie not intended as ad hom. But we were told this is OT so…)

  262. Patrick 027:

    cont. from http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/unforced-varations-aug-2012/comment-page-5/#comment-242959

    Non internet resources, in order of relevance:

    (1) Vernon Barger, Martin Olsson. “Classical Mechanics: A Modern Perspective”. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc, St. Louis, 1995.

    (2) William F. Ruddiman. “Earth’s Climate – Past and Future”. W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 2001.

    (3) Gabrielle Walker. “Snowball Earth – The Story of the Great Global Catastrophe that Spawned Life as We Know It”. Crown Publishers, New York, 2003.

    (4) Shun-ichiro Karato. “The Dynamic Structure of the Deep Earth – An Interdisciplinary Approach”. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2003.

    (5) James Stewart. “Calculus – Early Transcendentals”. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Detroit, 1995.
    (Transcendentals? I didn’t know Henry David Thoreau did calculus!)

    (6) Hans J. Weber, George B. Arfken. “Essential Mathematical Methods for Physicists”. Elsevier Academic Press, New York, 2004.
    (this is the second book where I’ve seen with an infinity symbol next to the ‘printed on acid-free paper’ statement. Makes sense.)

    (7) C. Henry Edwards, David E. Penney. “Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems – Computing and Modeling”. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall, Inc, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2000.

    (PS this is probably a lot of build up for what isn’t really going to be all-that involved, so please don’t be too dissappointed…

    (PS I went through most derivations myself so I’m not actually going to be citing these sources a whole lot, but they were helpful sometimes for guidance; same for some internet sources – especially:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poinsot's_ellipsoid – but generally I’ll probably be giving internet links within the body of this.)

  263. sidd:

    Unsettled Scientist writes on the 13th of August, 2012, at 1:15 PM:

    “In the end, we may need to leave behind the deniers and simply not address them at all. Those who wish to deny science (be it climate, health, evolution or the big bang) simply remove their ability to participate in the expansion of human knowledge. That’s something the did to themselves, so I don’t feel bad leaving them out of the discussion.”


    Addressing deniers is a distraction. There are far more important and difficult issues to engage. Needs must when the devil drives, educating the wilfully ignorant is not the best use of our time.


  264. John E. Pearson:

    This was kind of interesting. The video half way down the page had some British guy (heh) some people who don’t care about climate change that perhaps they ought to? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/jerry-browns-global-warming-website_n_1774237.html

  265. Chris Korda:

    SecularAnimist @183 said:

    The pathologically anthropocentric view that the world consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” for human consumption is really the root of all of our “environmental” problems (and indeed the very word “environment” embodies that view). I don’t think that “solutions” based on that view can solve the problems created by that view.

    To be accused of anthropocentrism on a science blog is unexpected and almost comical. Nonetheless the charge is a serious one, and demands a response. The implication is that humanity should be less concerned with its own welfare, and should make sacrifices for the long-term health of the biosphere. This position is not without justification, but also faces several problems.

    1) Any sacrifices we make will ultimately be futile, because the biosphere isn’t savable in the long term, due to astronomical factors entirely beyond our control. The biosphere is also totally indifferent to our fate, and would recover with astonishing rapidity were we to exit, voluntarily or otherwise. This scenario has been analyzed in detail, for example by Alan Weisman in “The World Without Us.”

    2) If humanity was primarily devoted to the welfare of non-humans, we would long since have abandoned sedentary agriculture, civilization and industrialization, and returned to our tribal hunter-gatherer roots. Our treatment of non-humans thus far is instructive: the lucky ones have been domesticated, marginalized, genetically modified, imprisoned and enslaved, while less fortune species have been starved or hunted to extinction, or willfully exterminated, in some cases for no rational reason. Many subgroups of humanity have received similar treatment, and the trend is uncertain at best. Most ethical problems weren’t seriously addressed or even identified until very recently, and we’re currently struggling to define and consistently implement universal rights and values for humans, never mind for non-humans or the biosphere.

    3) Humanity’s anthropocentrism can only be meaningfully debated within the context of our civilization, which is unmistakably anthropocentric in origin. Without civilization there would be no science blogs, and no science to discuss. Science coevolved with civil society, through many phases, including antiquity, scholasticism, and the Enlightenment. The humanistic traditions of rational inquiry, reasoned debate, literacy and democracy are often taken for granted, but without them there’s little worth saving. Science not only requires explanations to be testable, but also expects them to improve over time. Science is thus fundamentally progressive, and inextricably bound to the progressivism of civil society.

    If people can be persuaded to make sacrifices at all, it will be because they correctly perceive that the welfare of their own descendents–not to mention civilization–depends on such sacrifices. Even this is apparently a long shot, particularly in the United States, where the current leadership seems determined to maximize irrationality, and inflict privation and despair on all but the wealthiest. If civilization survives its current challenges, it may in the distant future attempt to extend civil rights to include the entire biosphere, but in the meantime we should concentrate on more urgent problems, of which there’s obviously no shortage.

  266. Steve Fish:

    The importance of responding to the denialist crew is not to try and convince them, it is to help those who don’t understand the “debate” (note quotes) to see that there is reasonable, thoughtful, and documented reasons to doubt the doubters and accept science. We should craft public responses carefully for those on the sidelines. Steve

  267. Stranger:

    James Hansen said in 2007 – “Averaged over all land and ocean surfaces, temperatures have warmed roughly 1.33°F (0.74ºC) over the last century” turned out to be close? It seems that I’ve read different levels of warming over a century in different in AGW articles. I’m a little confused is an understatement. I read just the other day that Richard Muller says it’s warmed more than that, if I remember right. I’ve also been a bit confused over all the Hansen predictions that have been analyzed here and other climate blogs. I seem to get the impression that his predictions are pretty much on. Some articles stating strongly and others being much more nebulous. It sure would be nice to get as simple of an explanation as possible. Please somebody, suffer a fool!

  268. Susan Anderson:

    Tamino@~249 re Olympics:

    I thought of that even as I was writing. It wasn’t the competition and coming together of nations (I shed a few tears of joy myself at times) but the closing ceremony, representative of our common celebrations which are always bigger and more consumptive each time, producing pure pollution in ever greater quantities. And the wish that that kind of energy could be used differently.

    I was impressed by the way people normally unable to cooperate came together.

    It’s the constant escalation and the cultivation scream-inducing artificial and ever more transient pleasures rather than the more lasting kind.

    And while I’m a child of my time, I can’t help thinking it won’t be easy to slow down, let alone reverse course. We have come to take these things for granted, and to go along to get along. I’m as human as the next chappie.

  269. mmghosh:

    Real Climate might have a real problem if Mr Paul Ryan becomes the Vice-President. This is his opinion about Climategate.


    To the detriment of the American people, environmental issues have fallen victim to the hyper-politicization of science. The Journal Times editorial board sensibly cautioned both sides of the political divide against this unfortunate trend (“Science must trump spin,” The Journal Times, 12/3/09). At issue in the Journal Times’ recent editorial and on the minds of many Copenhagen observers are published e-mail exchanges from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). These e-mails from leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.

    The CRU e-mail scandal reveals a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion. The e-mail scandal has not only forced the resignation of a number of discredited scientists, but it also marks a major step back on the need to preserve the integrity of the scientific community. While interests on both sides of the issue will debate the relevance of the manipulated or otherwise omitted data, these revelations undermine confidence in the scientific data driving the climate change debates.

    [Response: He would not be the first vice-presidential candidate in recent history to not have a clue. – gavin]

  270. sidd:

    Mr. Korda asks, “What are we saving the biosphere for ?”

    I do not like the question as framed.

    1)What is “the biosphere ?” Does it constitute that volume of the planet that is outside human skins ? What of human pets ? human gardens ? What of all the species that we have engineered and bred into being that did not exist before ?

    2)”Saving” is such a strong word, presupposing a certain arrogance that we can “save” anything. We are having a hard time saving ourselves.

    3)The word “for” implies a result for which we would “save” the “biosphere”. Of itself, the “biosphere” obeys natural selection, with no particular result as a goal. And for good or ill, we are part of the “biosphere” as subject to its law as any other species. We are both product and cause of evolution, and in the large, evolution is not goal-directed.

    4)Given these caveats, my answer would be: We save the biosphere to save ourselves. We have co-evolved in the biosphere all these long millennia. The myriad, myriad species we share the planet with are as adapted to the Holocene as we. Now we are forcing the planetary environment far beyond bounds that have existed for a few million years or more. If we succeed in restoring the CO2 balance to anywhere near the 180-300ppm range that has existed over the last few glacial cycles, I should be overjoyed, for we would be preserving an environment that all the little live things, including humanity, have evolved in and find congenial. It is not humans vs the biosphere, it is for both that we attempt to mitigate fossil carbon loading of the air.

    5)I am not thinking in terms of economics. I do not think that conventional economics holds the answer, weighing as it does the value of a green meadow entirely in terms of the net present value of a discounted stream of future benefit in ‘ecosystem services’ and not take account of the joy a dog or a child has running through it, or all the creatures that are born and live and die around it, for these contribute nothing to human society that economists can measure. They measure all to a nicety in the scales of human avarice, yet are blind to many things that some of us hold dear for themselves and in themselves, although their passing would trouble our wallets not at all.

    6)I do not expect to live to see preindustrial carbon balance restored. Every feedback we discover is to the worse and not the better. But though we cannot save everything and perhaps not even ourselves, I will do all I can to slow the tide, though I cannot stem it, give our precious world a cushion of time to buffer the shock. As was said in another war, ‘It is not necessary to hope, in order to persevere.’


  271. Dan H.:

    Since 1880, global (land and ocean) temperatures have risen ~0.8C, a rate of 0.6C/century. Sometimes, you need to be careful about the timeframe involved (132 vs. 100 years). Muller is quoting land only temperatures, which have risen more than ocean, hence his numbers are higher. It helps to compare apples to apples. Currently, temperatures are following Hansen’s prediction “C”, which is CO2 levels held constant at 2000 values, but CO2 concentrations are rising closer to his scenario “A”, business as usual.

  272. Edward Greisch:

    265 Chris Korda: 1) If the environment goes, so do humans. We have to protect our ecology/old climate because BAU results in agriculture and civilization collapsing in the 2050s. All culture would collapse as well. Any sacrifices we make will ultimately help ourselves.

    Astronomical factors entirely within our control:
    a. We now have the fire power to destroy comets larger than Haley’s, should one be on a collision path with Earth.
    b. We will “soon,” if we survive GW, be able to seed exo-planets with Earth life. NASA is searching for them now.

    2) “[H]unted to extinction”: The dinosaurs hunted almost all of the proto-mammals, alias synapsids, to extinction except for the small ones, the “mice.” That was about 250 million years ago. Mammals remained small until the dinosaurs went extinct 65 Million years ago. If mammals as big as humans, including humans, had existed during the reign of the dinosaurs, they would have been hunted to extinction.

    3) If you want to save civilization, you had better be an extremist in favor of stopping GW. That does not necessarily mean sacrifices. It could mean profits.

  273. Marco:

    Dan H., since you supposedly know so much about Hansen’s scenarios A, B, and C, I am sure you can also tell us about the forcings other than CO2 included in those scenarios, and how those have developed over the last 24 years?

    After you’ve told us, perhaps you can then inform “Stranger” how utterly deceptive you were in your answer in #271.

  274. Chris Korda:

    Edward Greisch @ 272:

    Its remorselessness aside, your justification for the ongoing Holocene extinction assumes the equivalence of dinosaurs and humans, without accounting for the absence of dinosaur cultural artifacts in the fossil record. Or you are suggesting that our culture is just noise and that we’re merely “robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes” à la Dawkins?

  275. MARodger:

    Stranger @267
    You provide the Hansen quote. Here is the Muller quote:-
    Berkeley Earth has just released analysis of land-surface temperature records going back 250 years, about 100 years further than previous studies. The analysis shows that the rise in average world land temperature globe is approximately 1.5 degrees C in the past 250 years, and about 0.9 degrees in the past 50 years.” Note my emphasis. This is not in any way contrary to Hansen.
    As can be illustrated graphically, land-surface temperatures are rising (as would be expected) faster than sea surface temperatures (Usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’). It should also be mentioned that Muller’s 250 year analysis is subject to very broad error-bars. The authors of the analysis Rohdes et al (Submitted) describe their eighteenth/nineteenth century temperature wobbles as having “rather uncertain ampitude.” Indeed, this early part of their analysis is based solely on European & a bit of North American data.

  276. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris Korda,
    Might I suggest reading what Stephen J. Gould had to say about environmentalism.

    To wit: Earth will survive. Life will persist. Our handwringing over what we are doing to the planet matters only to us, becuase we are ultimately the ones who will suffer for it. It is a matter of complete indifference to nature.

  277. prokaryotes:

    Planes may produce ice particles by freezing cloud droplets


  278. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Our handwringing over what we are doing to the planet matters only to us, becuase we are ultimately the ones who will suffer for it. It is a matter of complete indifference to nature.”

    Many other species, comprising billions of non-human sentient beings, will also suffer from what we are doing to the planet.

    I assume that you are speaking metaphorically and not literally when you attribute subjective states like “indifference” to “nature”.

    Whether mass extinctions of species, the collapse of ecosystems, the acidification of the oceans, the death of forests, etc. is “a matter of complete indifference to nature” depends on what you mean by “nature”. If you mean something like “the laws of physics”, then certainly they will continue as usual.

    But if by “nature” you mean the Earth’s biosphere, it’s hard to imagine that “nature” will be “indifferent” to the destruction of the rich, diverse, robust, resilient biosphere of the Holocene, the product of millions of years of evolution, and its replacement by a biologically impoverished wasteland, the product of a couple of centuries of human ignorance and greed.

  279. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “Any sacrifices we make will ultimately be futile, because the biosphere isn’t savable in the long term, due to astronomical factors entirely beyond our control.”

    You will inevitably die, perhaps decades from now. Therefore, taking even one more breath is futile.

    Is that your position?

  280. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Since 1880, global (land and ocean) temperatures have risen ~0.8C, a rate of 0.6C/century.

    Dan, can you tell us why you keep repeating that tired old uninformative meme on a sophisticated science blog followed by scientists that for some reason you think are as sophisticated as kindergartners? Thanks in advance.

  281. Mal Adapted:

    Quoth Ray@276:

    Might I suggest reading what Stephen J. Gould had to say about environmentalism.

    Don’t forget the great 20th Century American philosopher Carlin:

    The planet is fine. The people are f*cked!

  282. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “Besmirching my mentality is not a reasoned argument. Your allegation that my views are somehow causing climate change is totally unsupported.”

    I regret giving offense. I was not speaking of “your” personal “mentality”.

    I was speaking of the anthropocentric mentality that is capable of asking what the Earth’s biosphere is “for”, that can ask “what are we saving the Earth’s biosphere for?” — as though the biosphere must serve some human purpose to be worth “saving”.

    The Earth’s biosphere is greater than us humans — it is deeper, richer, older and vaster than us. In spite of our science, it is more complex and subtle than we can even imagine, let alone comprehend. It does not exist to serve any human purpose. Indeed it does not exist for any purpose. It is what it is.

    And though it seems likely that life is abundant and pervasive in the universe, planets capable of supporting rich, diverse, complex, ever-evolving biospheres that give rise to numerous sentient species may be quite rare, and each one unique in its evolution. Indeed, at present the Earth’s biosphere remains the only one known to science in the observed universe.

    How is it possible to ask “what we should save it for”?

  283. Chris Korda:

    Ray Ladbury @276:

    “…we are ultimately the ones who will suffer for it.”

    I agree 100% with this statement, though I also think the suffering is all too often underestimated, particularly by those who imagine that it will only be inflicted on people they don’t care about.

    Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” is occupying the on-deck position of my reading stack, followed by “Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution.” I’m currently just starting David W. Orr’s “Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse.”

    [Response: At the risk of some gratuitous self-promotion, fans of Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” will enjoy my book “The Hockey Stick & The Climate Wars”. Chapter 9 (“When you get your picture on the cover of…”) contains an extensive discussion of story of Spearman, Burt, and the fallacy of “Spearman’s g” in support of theories of a racial basis of human intelligence. See particularly the section “Of Tribes & Trees”. Bit of a spoiler alert: it turns out that McIntyre & McKitrick’s original criticisms of the “Hockey Stick” suffered from the same basic statistical error as “Spearman’s g”. Its one of the more technical parts of my book, and it takes a bit of work for those w/out any statistical or mathematical background, but I think there is a reward in it that justifies the effort :) -mike]

  284. Radge Havers:

    Re: Olympics
    I think I get where Susan is coming from. My two cents though, in addition to what else has been said, is that there’s a time and a place for everything. If the staging may not have been to everyone’s taste (and who the hell came up with that logo anyway?), the shots of the faces of young athletes during the ceremonies says it all. It’s hard to begrudge them a celebration for all they sacrifice in training and competition. And I have to say that for a few minutes I felt vicariously a little less like the crusty old fart that I am. Life is short, excellence rare. Cherish these.

    Now if only scientists got the same respect.

    Re: The science of crazy ass Earthling philosophy
    OK. so I’m watching a certain furry friend of mine play “Game for Cats” on my iPad and wondering about all this talk about who the earth is for.

    In a nutshell, my friend enlightened me thusly; that humans have the potential to solve complex optimization problems. So, combining logic and compassion, that’s what they should do. As already pointed out note that suffering is not unique to people, that there is beauty in nature and messing it up is ugly (especially so if truth=beauty), that humans are by and large faulty apes who like to sit around philosophizing and are generally so chock full of crap that they can’t distinguish fair play from a hole in the ground.

    Gotta go now. My tablet’s taking a beating.

  285. Dan H.:

    When someone asks a basic question, it sometimes requires a basic answer. To the rest of us, the news is uninformative, because we already knew that. However, it may be quite important to the person who asked. Referring to the questioner as a kindergartener, seems a bit condescending, don’t you think?

  286. prokaryotes:

    Global Warming and the Meaning of Doom

    Planetary Boundaries in light of actions from the Human Population:
    Human life isn’t set apart from life on earth.
    We must live in balance with Nature.
    Consumerism isn’t unlimited and doesn’t lead to happiness.
    Toxic pollution harms life and cannot be justified.
    As a conscious species, humans must be stewards of the ecology.

    The US Congress is not considering the environmental constants in decision making. But ought to do this because of actions we already are committed to ecocide, dubbed the Anthropocene. We threaten the very survival of our Civilization/Species with not reacting to the warnings from the overwhelming majority of Scientist (Climate Consensus).

    If we do not act today, it will be to late to preserve a viable/habitable climate state for generations to come. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/global-warming-doom-meaning_b_1772802.html

  287. derek:

    One thing that has confused me that confused me is how long it takes for weather to become climate. It seems like 15 years is needed for global temperatures to show climactic trends based on plots of avg. temperature; but can someone explain why it is this value? In other words, why not 10 years, or 20 years? Thanks, I hope you will forgive my naive question.

  288. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Stranger didn’t actually ask a a specific question, Dan, but it’s so nice of you to fill in the standard foolish answer anyways, at a level that is more or less condescending to fools.

  289. SecularAnimist:

    prokaryotes wrote: “As a conscious species, humans must be stewards of the ecology.”

    Uh oh. Here comes “consciousness” again.

    The “ecology” doesn’t need humans to “steward” it, any more than the human liver needs an alcoholic to “steward” it.

    The very idea that human beings, who are demonstrably unable to control our own most destructive behaviors, are going to be “stewards of the ecology”, or “manage ecosystems”, is absurd. It’s proposing that the bull should become the “steward” of the china shop.

    I mean, really. We cannot even limit our own prodigious output of CO2 pollution in the face of clear and compelling evidence that it’s causing catastrophic damage to the ecosystems on which we absolutely depend — and we are going to be “stewards” of the entire Earth’s biosphere?


  290. prokaryotes:

    SecularAlarmist, therefore i quoted “balance with nature” from said article. In this regard we can/could become a steward kind of type. Yes, our current situation is bad, very bad and i guess climate setups affect swarm intelligence for the worse as well. So if we do not aim for this balance we will go down.

    Provocative New Study Warns
    of Crossing Planetary Boundaries
    The Earth has nine biophysical thresholds beyond which it cannot be pushed without disastrous consequences, the authors of a new paper in the journal Nature report. Ominously, these scientists say, we have already moved past three of these tipping points.

  291. deconvoluter:

    Re inline comment following #283.

    Yes, that was a most interesting observation.
    If condensed matter theorists can take up paleoclimatology, then perhaps in the future some psychologists might be inspired to follow their example. When I get some time I shall have to look out for the books by Gould.

    Incidentally I couldn’t put down my birthday present until I got to the Notes which I have reserved till later.

    [Response: Thanks, looking forward to hearing more :-) -mike]

  292. Charles:

    Whether Stranger asked a direct question or inplied one is irrelevant, as he was clearly asking for a clarification between the Hanson and Muller statements. The response was appropriate, even though most of us already knew the answer. At this point, maybe a little self-reflection may be needed.

  293. David B. Benson:

    derek @287 — WMO (World Meteorological Organization) states that climate is 30 or more years of weather data. This is due to what is somethimes called natural variability. To ‘average’ through this variability requires about 45 years of data for high precision statistical analysis, but 30 years is ok.

    In general 15 years isn’t long enough to be what is called statistiaclly significant. However, given the tremendous excess forcing due to the release of extra CO2, recently maybe 15 years is enough to reliably see the trend and surely 20 years is.

  294. Bob Loblaw:

    Derek @287

    The short answer to your question (how long does it take to determine climate from weather) is “because that’s the nature of the data”. A different data set will yield different results. You need to look at how the data varies over time to be able to decide when you have enough data to adequately define its statistical characteristics.

    Bob Grumbine has a good explanation/illustration regarding trends over on his blog:

    Results on deciding trends

  295. Unsettled Scientist:

    derek, i replied to you post in the Arctic Ice thread, but for completeness in this thread for other readers who may not see that post, you can find the answer at Tamino’s blog, especially his recent posting: Fifteen. Apologies for double posting, but wanted to get the link in on each thread for those who may only be reading one of them.

  296. John E. Pearson:

    287 Derek asked how long it takes weather to become climate:

    THe traditional answer is 30 years or thereabouts. Someone on RC once directed me to a pretty old paper, 1920’s-40’s I think that gave some sort of definition of climate along those lines. Obviously there are longer time scales in climate but for people I would argue that 30 year time scales are relevant. You can get something on the order of 30 years from a back of the envelope calculation. I don’t have time to dig up the numbers for you but I’ll give the idea and maybe somebody will chime in with some correct numbers. How long does a change dF in radiative forcing that will result in a temperature change dT take to equilibrate? The change in energy occurs in time tau. Radiative forcing is usually given in watts/m^2 so the net change in energy, dE = dF A tau where A is the surface area of the earth and tau is the time we want to know. Balance that against the heat needed to warm up the atmosphere and top couple of meters of ocean by dT and you’ll get tau ~=1 year. If you balance against the time needed to warm the atmosphere + top 200 meters of ocean by dT you’ll get several decades. Equilibration of the deep ocean takes much longer. This is a crude but intuitively palatable picture.

  297. Edward Greisch:

    274 Chris Korda: There is no “justification for the ongoing Holocene extinction.”
    “dinosaur cultural artifacts” OK, that one is so far out it makes no sense whatever. Lions hunt. Wolves hunt. Sharks hunt. Some dinosaurs hunted.

    All organisms affect other organisms. Some have had disastrous effects, like the blue-green algae made oxygen that killed a lot of anaerobic bacteria. But the oxygen makes us possible. That isn’t a justification of anything. It just is. Do blue-green algae need cultural artifacts?
    If Homo Sapiens is an intelligent species, we will quit creating an extinction event.

    Having culture is no excuse for destroying something that you need to survive, like a climate in which food for humans will grow. Chris Korda: Spend some time on a farm. Corn does not grow in a desert. Climate change is turning the farm belt into a desert.
    If Homo Sapiens is an intelligent species, we will quit changing the climate and put it back the way it was, then keep it as was.

    Science is not “fundamentally progressive, ” meaning politically to the left. Chris Korda, science has nothing to do with politics. Politics had nothing to do with science until some rich person decided to obstruct progress.

    “[H]umanistic traditions of rational inquiry” is another one that makes no sense. Science is not a humanities.

    I give up on communicating with Chris Korda.

  298. Ron R.:

    Saw a bumper sticker: Stop Global Whining.

    You see we simply need to adapt to climate change. No problemo.



  299. simon abingdon:

    @Susan Anderson

    Susan, your anguished hand-wringing makes me weep for you. Instead of standing on the sidelines like a scientist, watching the unrolling of events with boundless disinterested fascination as nature works out her destiny, you choose to follow a path of endlessly painful frustration. Remember Newton the boy playing on the seashore. Why not be like him? Why not divert yourself? Why not be happy?

  300. PeteB:

    I was reading Tamsin’s blog and was reading this


    ….Suppose that you were one of a group of climate scientists, interested in playing an active role in climate policy, and able to meet the three strictures outlined in section 4. You have all embraced subjective uncertainty, and have been summoned, willingly, to a carefully facilitated expert elicitation session. After two intense but interesting days your 95% equi-tailed credible interval for the maximum height of water in the Thames Estuary in 2100 is 0.5m to 2.75m higher than today. This is wider than your initial interval, as you came to realise, during the elicitation process, that there were uncertainties hich you had not taken into account.Suppose that this has recently happened, and you are reflecting on the process, and wondering what information might have made a large difference to your uncertainty assessment, and that of your fellow experts. In particular, you imagine being summoned back in the year 2020, to re-assess your uncertainties in the light of eight years of climate science progress. Would you be saying to yourself, “Yes, what I really need is an ad hoc ensemble of about 30 high-resolution simulator runs, slightly higher than today’s resolution.” Let’s hope so, because right now, that’s what you are going to get. But we think you’d be saying, “What I need is a designed ensemble, constructed to explore the range of possible climate outcomes, through systematically varying those features of the climate simulator that are currently ill-constrained, such as the simulator parameters, and by trying out alternative modules with qualitatively different characteristics. ”Obviously, you’d prefer higher resolution to the current resolution, but you don’t see squeezing another 0.25 out of the solver as worth sacrificing all the potential for exploring uncertainty inherent in our limited knowledge of the earth system’s dynamics, and its critical ecosystems. We’d like to see at least one of the large climate modelling centres commit to providing this information by 2020, on their current simulator, operating at a resolution that permits hundreds of simulator runs per scenario (a resolution of about 2 , we hazard). Research funders have the power to make this happen, but for some reason they have not yet perceived the need….
    what do you think ?

  301. wili:

    SecularAnimist at 289, you are much of my mindset. Lovelock somewhere said proposing that humans geo-engineer the the planet is like proposing that goats tend the garden. I must say, I think this and your analogies are particularly apt for modern industrial capitalist society and its ideology of limitless expansion. But other societies have managed to also do quite a nice job of trashing their environment, but on a more limited, regional scale.

    Note that the word ‘steward’ originally is from ‘sty ward(en).’

  302. Chris Korda:

    Edward Greisch: Progressivism refers not only to the corresponding period of American history, but also to the notion that given sufficient time and effort, people can and should make incremental progress towards shared goals, scientific or otherwise. In science this view is associated with scientific realism, scientific pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce, and especially John Dewey, who held “that inquiry, whether scientific, technical, sociological, philosophical or cultural, is self-corrective over time if openly submitted for testing by a community of inquirers in order to clarify, justify, refine and/or refute proposed truths.” (WP, Pragmatic theory of truth)

    You should be grateful that science is progressive, because otherwise you would be busy rediscovering the foundations of mathematics, geology, astronomy, chemistry, etc. all by your lonesome self. In fact this was very much the situation at the start of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, if science weren’t progressive, we wouldn’t be struggling to mitigate climate change right now, because the industrial revolution wouldn’t have happened.

    The point of the non-existent dinosaur cultural artifacts was to illustrate that it’s absurdly and dangerously reductive to simply equate humans with dinosaurs or any other species. If humans weren’t special, why would they need names? Why would they need rights? In fact most of them didn’t have rights until very recently, and it’s been a major source of conflict. Wars have been fought over the idea that people (especially people we don’t like) can be treated as things.

  303. SecularAnimist:

    derek asked: “One thing that has confused me that confused me is how long it takes for weather to become climate.”

    David B. Benson replied: “WMO (World Meteorological Organization) states that climate is 30 or more years of weather data.”

    John E. Pearson also replied: “Derek asked how long it takes weather to become climate: The traditional answer is 30 years or thereabouts.”

    I think this question is increasingly irrelevant, and the “traditional” answer is becoming obsolete.

    The question was relevant when we were asking whether the various atmospheric conditions, processes, events and patterns of events that comprise “climate” are in fact changing, and wanted to know over what length of time we’d need to observe those phenomena as ever-changing, short term “weather” to be able to conclude that the changes are sufficiently long-term to be considered “climate” change.

    But we already know that the climate is changing, and will continue to change, as a result of our CO2 emissions. We don’t need 30 more years of observations to tell us that, now.

    And the “traditional” answer is obsolete because it presumes that the Earth’s climate is sufficiently stable, and changing so slowly, that it really does take 30 or more years of observations to detect any long-term, large-scale change.

    But that’s no longer the case, because the climate system is being driven to change more rapidly and extremely than it has ever done in human history.

    It’s unlikely to take another 30 years for the American midwest to become desert. It’s unlikely to take another 30 years for the Arctic sea ice to disappear completely during summer — with all of the prodigious effects that implies.

    There is every reason to expect that permanent, large-scale, dramatic changes, which cannot reasonably be called anything but “climate change”, may now occur on time scales of a few years, rather than a few decades, as would have been expected in the pre-AGW world.

  304. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “If humans weren’t special, why would they need names? Why would they need rights?”

    What makes you think that other animals don’t have names?

    And social animals, including chimpanzees and wolves, clearly do have rights within the context of their social groups.

    I suggest you do some reading in cognitive ethology. Yes, human beings are “special” — and so are all other species.

  305. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris Korda: ” If humans weren’t special, why would they need names? Why would they need rights?”

    Well, since it is humans that give humans names and humans that give humans rights (or take them away), all this proves is that humans are special to humans. It says nothing about the role of humans in the Universe or on the planet.

    If we are to take an objective measure–say the proportion of biomass we constitute on the planet as a measure of our dominance–then we are about as significant as ants.

    I suppose we could also say that humans matter to dogs. My cats, however are uncommitted.

  306. Chris Korda:


    A mere 150 years ago, we fought a bitter and protracted war in the United States in large part over the question of whether our society should continue to permit human beings to be treated as, or worse than animals. The Union victory was an essential step forward but was by no means a final resolution of the question, which has continued to plague us, through the horrors of the Jim Crow South, well into the present era.

    In Europe an even more catastrophic war was fought against an ideology that proclaimed certain groups of people to be subhuman and therefore without rights. Unlike the Civil War, this is recent history, within the living memory of my parents. There have been plenty more examples since then, including the breakup of Yugoslavia, though thankfully none at similarly global scale (yet).

    Despite literally centuries of impassioned debate and conflict, humanity is still struggling to implement the most elementary ethical concepts such as equality, liberty, decency and fairness for human beings (that’s you!) Many are aware that the rights of non-humans can and ultimately must be defended just as vigorously, however this is a long-term project, and we aren’t likely to make much headway while simultaneously claiming that humans are equivalent to dinosaurs, wolves, algae, etc. We can grant wolves rights, and already have to some extent, but the reverse is simply not true: wolves can’t grant us rights, any more than they can study cognitive ethology. This should be obvious but apparently it isn’t.

    Before we worry about the rights of algae, we’d better get the rights of future generations sorted out, otherwise the algae is going to have the planet all to itself.


    I happen to be reading Davis Orr’s “Down to the Wire,” and he has much to say on the subject of intergenerational ethics, and the need for honest and inspiring leadership during what he calls the Long Emergency. For example:

    “We are now engaged in a global conversation about the issues of human longevity on Earth, but no national leader has yet done what Lincoln did for slavery and placed the issue of sustainability in its larger moral context.” -p. 88

  307. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “If we are to take an objective measure–say the proportion of biomass we constitute on the planet as a measure of our dominance–then we are about as significant as ants.”

    I heard E. O. Wilson interviewed on the radio once. He noted that the total biomass of all the human beings on Earth is indeed about equal to the biomass of all the ants on Earth. He opined that that was just about the right amount of ant biomass, but probably an excessive amount of human biomass.

    He went on to say that if all the humans suddenly disappeared, it would have little or no effect on the biosphere, but if all the ants suddenly disappeared, it would cause massive global ecological disruption.

    Of course the cessation of human activities, such as the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, that would accompany the disappearance of all that human biomass would be a boon to the biosphere.

  308. Jim Larsen:

    SA said, “The very idea that human beings, who are demonstrably unable to control our own most destructive behaviors, are going to be “stewards of the ecology”, or “manage ecosystems”, is absurd. It’s proposing that the bull should become the “steward” of the china shop.”

    You seem to be saying that the stewards of the world are not decent stewards of the world. Get a clue, dude! Humans ARE the stewards of the world. There is NO NO NO alternative.

    So, either get with the program and figure out how “humans are the stewards of the world” can work, or go home.

    And the question of “what for” is PERFECT. It takes millions of years to “create” something larger than slime-mold. There’s NO evidence that slime mold is less “good” than a lion. The ONLY value a lion has is that humans dig lions. The answer is that “good” is defined as what we as humans enjoy.

  309. prokaryotes:

    The SPIEGEL is featuring atm a blog about a Greenland expedition. In this recent blog entry they describe the impacts they approach on their way, related to the climate change there.

    German: Das Gelände vor uns sieht in der Nähe von drei Nunataks – so nennen die Inuit Felserhebungen, die aus dem Eis herausragen – immer gruseliger aus. Wieder jede Menge Schneekuppen und Bachquerungen. Wir beschließen deshalb, die Pulkas hier zu zweit zu ziehen. Der Zweite hilft hinten mit einer Repschnur und viel Muskeleinsatz beim Bergaufgehen, Lenken und Bremsen. Dann müssen wir zwar zweimal gehen, aber immerhin wird so das Material geschont.

    Jetzt sind auch tiefe Spalten und Gletschermühlen im Weg. Wilfried staunt über die drei Bergspitzen. “Bei unserer ersten Grönland-Durchquerung haben wir dort nur einen Nunatak gesehen, 2006 waren es zwei, jetzt drei.” So schnell geht hier das Eis zurück, so offensichtlich sind die Folgen des Klimawandels.

    They describe how they find more of these Nunataks, mountains which become visible after the top ice layer melted away.

    Now today the blog posted another entry about their sledges, which are so heavy damaged from the ground that they require replacements or have to abort the expedition. http://www.spiegel.de/reise/europa/expedition-in-groenland-pulka-kaputt-ueberquerung-gescheitert-a-850106.html

    They use the best sledges (handmade carbon “Pulkas”) one can buy.

  310. Radge Havers:

    @ 306
    Huh? Very rhetorical and you seem offended but just what are you trying to propose?

    We’re all part of an interconnected natural system. In terms of policy nobody is talking about the rights of Chris Korda compared to algae. Nature however cares not a whit whether or not you have one up on algae in terms of your right to survive.

  311. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “The answer is that ‘good’ is defined as what we as humans enjoy”

    Well, what I as a human “enjoy” — or more generally, what I as a human value — may differ radically from what you value.

    As it happens, I value the rich, diverse, almost unimaginably creative and prolific biosphere of this planet, which has created itself, and has evolved, re-evolved and flourished through all manner of challenges and catastrophes, giving rise to innumerable beautiful, complex sentient species and ecosystems, through billions of years — and somehow managed to do so without the “benefit” of human “stewardship”.

    On the other hand, I neither enjoy nor value the pontifications of those who proclaim themselves the indispensable “stewards” of the Earth’s biosphere while their “stewardship” so far consists of smashing it with a wrecking ball.

    To take just one example, how is our human “stewardship” of oceanic fisheries working out? Do you think any changes are needed there?

    What do you suppose might need more “stewardship” — the ocean’s food webs which are just failing their duty to provide what human beings “enjoy” in limitless amounts, and are therefore in dire need of our “stewardship” to improve their inferior performance as only we wise humans (i.e. homo sapiens) know how to do?

    Or is it perhaps our own behavior that needs some “stewardship”?

  312. Tokodave:

    And then there’s this…http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2186

  313. sidd:

    Cryosphere Discussions has a paper by Rennermalm et al.


    From the abstract:
    “… between 12% and 53% of ice sheet surface runoff is retained within the glacier each melt year …”

    I seem to recall Prof. Pelto stating that all or most of the meltwater escaped into the ocean. See for example the discussion at:


    This paper would seem to challenge that notion. If true then at least some of the latent heat required to melt the surface ice is being efficiently transferred into the ice mass and not escaping into the ocean. This would augment what Prof. Box calls the “erosion of cold content” of GRIS.

    Since Prof. Pelto is off on a field trip, I though I would ask here.


  314. prokaryotes:

    Decrease in biomass burning after year 500 is similar in duration and timing to Little Ice Age http://hol.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/08/14/0959683612450196.abstract

  315. Chris Korda:

    SA @307:

    Of course the cessation of human activities, such as the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, that would accompany the disappearance of all that human biomass would be a boon to the biosphere.

    It’s like you’re trying to impress everyone with your indifference to humanity, as though cultural insensitivity is somehow a corollary of scientific knowledge. The whole point of us becoming more enlightened (in the both sciences AND the humanities) over the last four centuries was to make us MORE sensitive to human culture, and more willing to make sacrifices for, and exhibit altruism towards people who aren’t immediate family members, aren’t from our ‘tribe’, or aren’t even born yet. Eventually that altruism may even extend to the biosphere and your beloved algae. Obviously it’s a work in progress and we’re facing severe difficulties at the moment, but I don’t see how it helps anyone to say that we should just buzz off and leave Earth to the ants, nor do I believe that’s E.O.Wilson’s view; on the contrary he expresses great fondness for humanity in his latest novel “Anthill,” and apparently believes our achievements are worth fighting for.

    It would be one thing if we were having this discussion on an Earth First blog, but I’m amazed to see stuff like this on RC. Your audience includes highly educated people who have devoted their lives to complex intellectual, linguistic, and symbolic activities that are beyond the capacity of most humans, never mind ants. On RC in particular people are clearly focused on the struggle to save civilization–science included–to whatever extent that’s still possible. I sincerely doubt they enjoy hearing that humanity is useless rubbish and that the sooner we disappear the better. I know I sure don’t.

  316. Geoff Wexler:

    Re: #296

    long it takes weather to become climate

    I’m afraid that I don’t see why a response time for warming is conceptually the same as the statistically defined times obtained by Grumbine (G) and Tamino.(T)
    G and T depend on the magnitude of the ‘noise’ produced by e.g. the ENSO fluctuations. But it is unclear how #296 is so dependent.

    Have I missed something?

  317. Patrick 027:

    re 316 Geoff Wexler – I would have guessed they’re independent, although it’s interesting that the heat capacity, to which the response time is proportional, would also play a role in internal variability (presumably).

  318. derek:

    Thanks all for the patient explanations of how long it takes weather to become climate. One thing I was expecting to hear is an argument that it takes 15 (or more) years for various oscillations such as ENSO to average out. As an example, there was an article in the local paper from an emeritus atmospheric scientist that said that variations in oceanic currents cause natural 30-year cycles in global averaged temperature (http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20120810/OPINION04/308100032/In-climate-change-we-not-blame). I can understand looking for trends from a statistical standpoint, but I guess I don’t understand how to factor in multi-year quasi-periodic signals. For instance, one can presumably look at the ENSO time series statistical properties and realize that the effects average out after a certain time period. Can we look at all similar signals and figure out how long one needs to average these out, and get at the weather to climate time scale from this standpoint?

  319. David B. Benson:

    Geoff Wexler @316 — Yes, you missed the fact that one cannot distinguish signal from noise until enough of both are observed.

  320. Patrick 027:

    Re Secular Animist – I agree with a number of your points (a lot of people would) – ie we aren’t very good stewards so far, the biosphere wouldn’t need us, etc. … the point about individual people inevitably dying was very good (I was thinking the same thing);

    however, what some people here have been saying may boil down to – we’re here, we’re powerful, and we want to stay, *we* need to be good stewards for *our* own purposes (which does require better managing of our own behavior). These people are probably not the same ones who have been doing such a bad job of stewarding up to this point (if only these people were put in charge of that job, presumably we – and the biosphere – would be better off). Also, you yourself talked about what you value. I value that too – I value other things as well, but I know I need the Earth for those things too, and not just as a mine and place to build and farm. But why does it matter that you value it? And wouldn’t you like to keep being here to value it?

    (PS that touches on an earlier mistake I made in a re someone else – I had tried to find some reason why humans should continue to exist and my argument was rather weak, as it only depends on the desires of whoever is alive at that time, apparently. Well, I figured out something else. Without consciousness, the universe (including any other conscious beings, though in this case there are none) would go unappreciated, unknown. Consciousness fills an otherwise unfilled potential (I would call this the aesthetic and story ethics). All forms of consciousness may play this role, and perhaps in different ways … different niches for each – but it seems like the individual person (human) is, on Earth, the most intensely and vividly conscious and self-aware, inteligent, etc. But once such consciousness exists or is set to exist, I do believe it becomes a/the major attractor of moral concerns (PS there is a distinction between answering ‘why is it wrong to harm, prima facie?’ and ‘prima facie, why is it wrong to kill?’ and the later may apply more to some beings in particular)… I could say more (including some possible problems with this idea) but this line of thought may have been what got the OT warning in the first place so … )

    Summing up, I think it’s really okay for humans to have an ecological footprint (all species do – the ecosystem walks on itself! (well, solar energy, geologically resources)) – even an extra-large one – but I would want to keep some significant fraction of nature in a natural state or close to it (of course a natural state requires some suffiently large intact area) – maybe for aesthetic and scientific reasons, for future generations to have the option to know and experience it – and in addition, of course we (in rather non-poetic phrasing) benifit from ‘free’ ecosystem services and it is our own long-term interests to make our economies/societies/etc. sustainable.

    What others were saying about the biosphere not needing to be saved – it would, given time, absent ‘Venus Syndrome’, recover on it’s own after we go extinct, if that were to happen. It will continue to evolve and while it will be on a different trajectory than otherwise, it is always on a trajectory – it’s not going to stay the same anyway (sometimes true of people, too). There have been extinctions before. And if we choose not to see ourselves as special, then perhaps we would see what we are doing as something the biosphere is doing to itself.

    But note that most in this conversation, though it seems they occasionally get the impression that it is untrue of another, all seem (to me) to agree that AGW is bad (for humans and the extant biosphere) and ought to be mitigated.

  321. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “It’s like you’re trying to impress everyone with your indifference to humanity”

    I am not trying to impress anyone. And I am not indifferent to humanity. I value the well-being of human beings just as I value the well-being of all sentient beings.

    Chris Korda wrote: “I sincerely doubt they enjoy hearing that humanity is useless rubbish and that the sooner we disappear the better.”

    Well, now you are just making stuff up and pretending that I said it. I have never written that humanity is “rubbish”. I have never written that “the sooner we disappear the better”. What I wrote, in the very sentence that you excerpted, was that the cessation of destructive human activities would be a boon to the Earth’s biosphere.

    Chris Korda wrote: “I don’t see how it helps anyone to say that we should just buzz off and leave Earth to the ants, nor do I believe that’s E.O.Wilson’s view”

    Again, I never said any such thing, nor did I claim that E. O. Wilson said any such thing.

    What I have said is that we humans depend on the Earth’s biosphere, but the Earth’s biosphere does not depend on us. The Earth’s biosphere prospered for billions of years without our “stewardship”, and it does not require our “stewardship” now. It doesn’t even require our existence — humans do nothing that is necessary for the healthy functioning of any ecosystem, whereas (as E. O. Wilson pointed out) ants perform functions that are vitally important for the functioning of many ecosystems.

    Moreover, I have said that the notion that the solution to the problem of global warming — and to other “environmental” problems — is for humanity to assume “stewardship” over the Earth’s biosphere, is monumental hubris, coming from a species whose actions, guided by greed and ignorance, are already threatening the very existence of that biosphere. Indeed the idea would be comical if it were not so deadly dangerous.

    Chris Korda wrote: “Your audience includes highly educated people who have devoted their lives to complex intellectual, linguistic, and symbolic activities that are beyond the capacity of most humans, never mind ants.”

    I enjoy human culture, language, the sciences and the arts as well. If we wish to continue enjoying them, however, we had best not let our particular evolutionary adaptations give us delusions of importance, and we should cultivate the humility appropriate for one species among many on this planet, a species which is utterly dependent for its existence on the vast, and perhaps ultimately unfathomable, web of life in which we are but one thread — a web that we are well on the way to destroying.

    We are not the center of the world, let alone its masters.

  322. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “Despite literally centuries of impassioned debate and conflict, humanity is still struggling to implement the most elementary ethical concepts such as equality, liberty, decency and fairness for human beings … Many are aware that the rights of non-humans can and ultimately must be defended just as vigorously, however this is a long-term project”

    I often encounter people who assert that we cannot solve the problem of anthropogenic global warming unless we make some profound, fundamental, and sweeping changes in our world-view and our societies.

    For example, some will say that we will never solve the problem of global warming unless and until we replace “capitalism” with some alternative economic system. Others will say that we must adopt a particular religious view that regards the Earth as “sacred”. Others will say that we must extend legal rights to non-human animals (including “property rights”, i.e. the right to an undisturbed and unpolluted habitat).

    What I always tell them is, “I hope you are wrong”. Because we don’t have time for that. We don’t have time for humanity to evolve a new economic system, or new religions, or new inter-species ethical frameworks, and then wait for those to propagate and pervade all human societies and cultures to the point where they eventually result in us abandoning fossil fuel use, deforestation, and other destructive practices.

    According to the IEA, we have perhaps FIVE YEARS in which our CO2 emissions must peak, and then begin a very steep decline to near zero by 2030 or so, if we are to have any chance of avoiding the worst outcomes of AGW. And I believe that time frame is consistent with what climate scientists are telling us today.

    There is no way that profound, deep changes in human culture and society are going to happen fast enough to bring that about. To paraphrase a former US Secretary of Defense, you don’t fight global warming with the world-view you wish you had, you fight it with the world-view you have.

    And given the world-view that we DO have, I think the only path that has any possibility of success is to approach AGW as a technical problem. And fortunately, it is not really all that challenging as a technical problem — we simply replace the energy that we get from fossil fuels with energy from the sun and wind. We have the technology and know-how to do that, much faster and at much lower cost than most people think. The same applies to reforming other practices that contribute to the problem, e.g. forestry and agriculture. Technology is what we are good at, and it is something that we know how to do, and can do very quickly if we so choose.

    Having said that, I unfortunately do believe that the root cause of global warming and our other “environmental” problems is, in fact, the fundamentally WRONG anthropocentric view that sees humans as somehow apart from and superior to the rest of life on Earth, that sees the world as consisting of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” that exist for the use of human beings. And until we liberate ourselves from that wrong view, I think we will not be able to fully solve our current problems and stop making more problems.

    I hope I am wrong. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we need to get on with the technical fixes.

  323. Patrick 027:

    re my 320 – just to be clear, the idea that it is good for people to exist doesn’t imply it is good for more and more people to exist within smaller times and spaces (planets) – or even if it did, the well-being of the individual (sustainability, etc.) and the aesthetics, etc, that have a role in that would argue against it.

    Re 270 sidd – I think I agree overall; but if I were an economist, I would make an effort to include all benifits of nature – the aesthetic, etc, into an analysis, or else would be very clear about what isn’t included. (In principle, it should be possible. In practice is perhaps another matter, but to illustrate the point: If a person buys binoculars, takes a day off work, drives somewhere, and starts watching the birds, the clouds, etc, there’s some indication of what *at least* the person was willing to trade for that – add to that whatever eyecare expenditures were made to ensure the person would be able to see (divided by all the things the person wants to see, of course). Nature outside humans isn’t the only thing of real value that could be missed. People expend resources to be with each other and do things together – they need to be alive just for that, and they spend time, etc, which otherwise might have been used to earn more money (although in todays economy that’s a tough one – but you get the idea), etc. Some of what is invested in themselves (education, experience) also goes toward benifiting relationships. Assuming rational behavior, such ‘real value’, although not monetized, is the driver of the economy (so maybe such real value isn’t really missed. But when you have externalities and other such issues, … well, you know.).

    Re 274 Chris Korda – To be fair (on the robot part), we have been shaped by evolution. Human evolution was necessary for human culture (although I think you implied as much somewhere else). Life was formed by an abiotic environment; it was shaped by it, while shaping it; each species has abiotic and biotic parts of an environment which helped shaped it (natural selection) and which it potentially helped shape. Members of a species play a role (kin selection, sexual selection, frequency dependent selection, other?). Humans were shaped by evolution, thus evolution (via humans) and environment shaped culture. culture has the potential to shape human evolution (lactose tolerance?). Individual people are shaped by it all. Evolution gave us the ability/tendency for ‘animal instincts and drives’ as well as, I think, the ability/etc. to override them and the ability to learn, think, feel deeply, etc., although I’d expect other influences can enhance that. (PS I’m not saying anything about particular cultures, or particular traits and particular evolutionary explanations.) It’s all part of a causal network. Stochastic processes abound (genetic drift, the connections between individual neurons in brain development (I think), the storms that wiped out the Spanish Armada and protected Japan from a Mongol invasion, that volcanic eruption in the 530s AD and it’s possible knock-on effects, etc.).

    Even absent modern scientific understanding, free will in a deep sense doesn’t make sense – if it means something to be a particular person, a person has an identity, is in principle identifiable, and thus behavior is predictable as a function of person and circumstance. (If will is free than it doesn’t belong to anyone, so this may actually help save moral responsibility rather than destroy it – anyway, there is a workaround for that, and the legal concept can still work.)

    Perhaps you would agree with this; it seems some have been assuming that others disagree with them when it isn’t actually true.

    Re 239 (only to clarify what I was saying in 219 and elsewhere)-
    Wishful thinking:
    I occasionally inject humor, levity, whimsy, fun, etc, into my writing (mermaid references, for example).

    I stated some positions on what is good, what I would want to have happen, my ideals and desires. This was not intended as a rosy forecast.

    I do wish for an afterlife (wouldn’t most people?) – this isn’t the same as believing in one – although I do that too sometimes, perhaps just to put the question out of my head or because I just need it then – but I wouldn’t go so far as to assert that it makes sense and didn’t base any arguments on such a belief, which I would never assert as true. The idea that a dead person could be harmed, I vaguely recall, was dealt with by a philospher whose name I can’t quite remember – nor can I remember just what he said or if it made good sense, but it was at least interesting. Concievably people honor wills and such because they would want the same treatment of their wishes.

    Re 284 Radge Havers – I like a lot of that; but I think, in general, ‘c@#p’ is a bit harsh – people make mistakes in their logic, they can learn (if willing). Thinking is a low-emission activity. Anyway,
    while not ‘something completely different’ as in John P. Reisman’s 243, here’s some ‘research material’ suggestions:

    Meaning of life:
    “Everybody Loves Raymond” – S6E19 “Talk to Your Daughter”
    “Dinosaurs” – S4E3 “The Greatest Story Ever Sold”
    “Frasier” – S8E9 “Frasier’s Edge” (a bit more dramatic; other two are comedies)

    A bit more on-topic with Saving the Earth:
    “How I Met Your Mother” – S7E5 “Field Trip”

    I (intend to) sign off on any farther philosphy (of length) here (hope to post more on obliquity tomorrow).

  324. Patrick 027:

    oh, pay attention to ratings for those shows (HIMYM can get a bit coarse sometimes)

  325. Patrick 027:

    ‘sign off on’ – I think I meant ‘sign off from’ … well you know what I mean…

  326. Unsettled Scientist:

    Derek, I believe this paper is right on the topic of what you are seeking to understand. I would check it out and the papers it references and those that reference it.

    Separating signal and noise in atmospheric temperature changes: The importance of timescale

    Here are some pull quotes:

    “We use observed estimates of the signal component of TLT changes and model estimates of climate noise to calculate timescale-dependent signal-to-noise ratios (S/N). These ratios are small (less than 1) on the 10-year timescale, increasing to more than 3.9 for 32-year trends. Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.”

    “We note that there is a related body of literature which seeks to determine the “detection time” – the time at which an anthropogenically-forced climate signal can be statistically identified relative to background noise. Such work uses either statistical or physical models (or both) to estimate the structure and levels of the background noise against which an observed, model-predicted, or idealized climate-change signal must be detected.”

    And section 3 might be of particular interest, account for noise, “On interannual timescales, one of the most prominent manifestations of climate noise is the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The relatively small values of overlapping 10-year TLT trends during the period 1998 to 2010 are partly due to the fact that this period is bracketed (by chance) by a large El Niño (warm) event in 1997/98, and by several smaller La Niña (cool) events at the end of the MSU record.”

    “On 10-year timescales, distributions of unforced and forced TLT trends overlap markedly (Figure 4a). This overlap occurs because even under anthropogenic and natural external forcing, interannual climate noise has a large influence on short, decadal trends. When trends are computed over 20-year periods, there is a reduction in the amplitude of both the control run noise and the noise superimposed on the externally forced TLT signal in the 20CEN/A1B runs. Because of this noise reduction, the signal component of TLT trends becomes clearer, and the distributions of unforced and forced trends begin to separate (Figure 4b). Separation is virtually complete for 30-year trends (Figure 4c).”

    And derek, it’s not really about “averaging out”, it’s about S/N ratio. There are oscillations that are longer than 15 years, such as the AMO. In this paper they write, “These results suggest that model errors in well-observed interannual variability may not provide reliable information on the size and direction of model errors in low-frequency variability. This reflects the fact that different modes of variability have different characteristic timescales. Model performance in simulating ENSO physics, and in capturing the interannual variability induced by ENSO, is not necessarily an accurate predictor of model skill in representing longer-timescale modes of climate variability (like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation).”

    Hope this helps.

  327. David B. Benson:

    derek @318 — Both methods are actually essentially the same. Looking for so-called oscillations requires more (and also more precise) data so the purely statistical approach came earlier.

  328. Patrick 027:

    … I meant to include:
    While human culture is the most ‘culture-y’ of the cultures, other species have cultures or something like that. Don’t gorillas (or some other ape?) have traditional salt licks? Other animals have used tools (does that make a culture?). (I saw something on TV about a dolphin that was using a different hunting technique involving swimming into shallow water, and I think it passed this on to it’s offspring, although I don’t remember for sure.) And of course there’s whale songs – who can forget classics like “Swim in the place where you were” and “Krill-flake Girl” :).

  329. Patrick 027:

    Re Secular Animist @ 321,322 – I really have to thank you for that. I’m probably a bit more ‘pro-human’ than you but our views are more similar than I had been thinking.

  330. Edward Greisch:

    302 Chris Korda: “Progressivism is a general political philosophy advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes usually in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.” from my computer’s dictionary is irrelevant to science.

    Science was invented by Galileo et al. not by political philosophers. You are confusing words again. See instead: “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul, 1980, University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
    Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”

    Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person’s head isn’t public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]
    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else.

    Political philosophy has nothing to do with science. Science has nothing to do with politics. There is no democracy in science. NATURE is the absolute dictator. NOW do you see why I think you should get a degree in a hard science? It is the fastest way to realize/understand the above.

  331. Radge Havers:

    Patrick 027 @ 323

    Research material:
        “Red Dwarf” —
        some poor schlub finds out what it’s like ending
        up as the last human left in the universe.

  332. Jim Larsen:

    “perhaps our own behavior that needs some “stewardship”?”

    Great post. I suppose government is our species’ attempt to steward our behaviour. Unfortunately, government is edging closer and closer to “business assistant”.

    And you’re right. Different things float different people’s boat. I think you and I have similar boats on this pond, and I generally agree with the issues and solutions you propose, with the caveat that at this late stage in the game, I’d rather do it right than quick. As wind turbines grow larger with materials science, what do we do with all those (already) obsolete towers? They’re sitting smack dab on our best wind resources. (We’ve got bird-killing crappy turbines on our best wind sites) I’m betting that if you did a CO2 analysis comparing building now and then ripping it all out and replacing it in 10 years when we have far better and cheaper solar and wind would be less productive than waiting 10 years. First generation anything is usually counter-productive (but essential). Like my old first generation Prius. It wasn’t a terribly good car, but it was a grand science experiment!

    My “solution”? A series of X-prize contests for the entire process, not just manufacturing but installation and the whole 9 yards. $2-3k for paperwork to install a solar PV system is absurd!

    So, the government would pay for the prizes and would own the results. Two or three generations of prizes would bring us to a point where we could crank out zillions of watts of identical parts, and since other countries want renewables too, we the US taxpayer would reap tremendous rewards.

    Science and scientists need to rip ownership from the ruling class and put it where it belongs – in We the People.

  333. Patrick 027:

    Re 330 Radge Havers – Well that’s just depressing! (But thanks)

  334. Patrick 027:

    Excellent work here (AGW’s in there, but watch the whole thing for context): http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-14-2012/it-s-not-delivery–it-s-d-economies-of-scale

  335. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, you do us unjust praise when you say “you know what I mean”. You’re so friggin smart few have a clue what you mean.

    SA, “for humanity to assume “stewardship” over the Earth’s biosphere, is monumental hubris,”

    Naw, it is just the facts, ma’am. The truth is simple. EITHER humans are the sole stewards of the Earth, OR humans must all die. There’s no other possibility other than creation of another superior being…hmm, we’re working on that one!

  336. Jim Larsen:

    “we’re working on that one”

    Well, won’t it be special when WE become part of the “boy won’t it be grand if they continue” crowd like lions? There’s little probability of humans remaining important. We’ve almost guaranteed via technology that humans are just an interesting species to preserve just for the fun of it. Silicon beats carbon.

  337. Edward Greisch:

    climate is 30 or more years: See: http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html

    322 SecularAnimist: “energy from the sun and wind.” Batteries are not included. And that is a touchy subject. See BraveNewClimate.com

    328 Patrick 027: Chimps have cultures.

  338. John E. Pearson:


    I didn’t think Geoff was missing anything. I made a leap of faith. I’ll have to think about it more. If the noise is extrinsic the response time will be independent of the time it takes to discern a trend. I think this is fairly obvious. If the noise is intrinsic then processes that can be assumed independent for the external case (like drift and noise strength) cannot be assumed independent. I think that for some (many?) systems subject to internal noise the response time will be proportional to the time it takes to discern a trend. I’ll stop here before I say anything more foolish that I already have.

  339. Ron R.:

    I agree with Patrick. Well put SA.

    I am convinced that this planet that we were gifted to live upon, was once a world of exquisite loveliness, of adventure, of quiet, of peace. A true Garden of Eden.

    But contrary to the traditional religious rendering of the story, the truth is that we were never forced from the garden, no, we left voluntarily, for somewhere in our remote past we made a choice, an exchange. That world of uncertainties, primitive fears, meaning and beauty we traded for lives of predictability, security, boredom and vileness – that tree of lore. And with the gain in knowledge we sacrificed something deep in our souls, a vital part of ourselves. It’s something we’ve been trying, futilely, ever since to regain.

    In our nomadic days we wandered and saw new things all the time. Our connection with the earth, with the natural was profound. Now we are stuck in our cubicles at work, punching clocks and in our cubicles at home, popping microwaves. Fake food for fake lives. Frustrated, we watch TV, hoping for some artificial, vicarious adventure. Yet we still crave new things, new horizons, it’s in our genes. Sadly though, we’ve confused the phony for the real, hoping that the next new thing will give us back what we lack, fill the void, what was stolen from us by the decisions of others long gone.

    They got tired of waiting for nature’s rhythms. They got greedy. So they studied and dissected nature, trying to force her to give them what they wanted. Perhaps that will be our epitaph.

  340. Chris Korda:

    SA @ 289

    The very idea that human beings, who are demonstrably unable to control our own most destructive behaviors, are going to be “stewards of the ecology”, or “manage ecosystems”, is absurd. It’s proposing that the bull should become the “steward” of the china shop.

    Believe it or not I’m actually sympathetic to your views, and shared them 100% until fairly recently. You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist whose work has criticized humanity more stridently than mine, but my views are evolving.

    We’re at a juncture in human history when more than ever before, it actually matters what people think. This wasn’t nearly as true in centuries or even decades past, because information traveled much more slowly and was less crucial to people’s daily lives. Today decisions frequently have global ramifications, and the discussions that influence them are increasingly volatile and public. Some of those discussions may be occurring right here, and not all of them are purely scientific or technical. Ideas spread like wildfire at the moment, whether they’re constructive or not.

    Mitigating climate change means rapidly transforming the entire physical basis of our existence: energy infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, architecture, urban planning, population size and distribution, and on and on, like a kind of green Manhattan project. In order for people to actually get up every morning and deal with the enormous amount of work involved, they need to be inspired.

    E.O.Wilson tries hard to inspire people by comparing them to ants, with the best of intentions, but it won’t work. Reminding people that they’re insignificant on a cosmic scale won’t work either: they already feel helpless. One idea that possibly could inspire people quickly enough is betterment of the human condition, via active participation in civil society. This implies a widespread invigoration of existing civil traditions and values, including literacy, tolerance, egalitarianism, association, and cooperation. There’s already momentum in this direction, in the Occupy movement and elsewhere, building on the civil rights and anti-war struggles.

    The problems civilization faces won’t be solved by flash mobs alone, any more than by the invisible hand of the market. Only governments have the power to effect change at the needed scale and pace, and governments are comprised of people, all the way up to the top; people who like the rest of us need to be convinced of the urgency and scale of the problems, persuaded that solutions exist, and inspired to fight for a livable future.

    People need to believe that what they’re doing can and will make a difference, no matter how uncertain things seem. They also need education, and health care, and countless other things, but above all they need hope. The problem with antihumanism, whether scientific or artistic, is that it deprives people of hope, at exactly the moment when they most need it.

  341. Ron R.:

    Chris Korda — 15 Aug 2012 @ 2:48 PM said: It would be one thing if we were having this discussion on an Earth First blog, but I’m amazed to see stuff like this on RC.

    It is common belief that environmentalists are anti-human, and perhaps that’s the case for some. The fact is though that unless we all adopt an eager environmentalism, and quickly, there will be no future for humans – none worth living in at least.

    Rush Limbaugh and his ilk will not save your ass.

  342. dbostrom:

    Popular and accomplished meteorology researcher and blogger Cliff Mass blunders into climate science, saying of James Hansen’s recent PNAS paper on frequency of extreme weather events:

    “Their conclusions are demonstrably false and their characterization of the science and statistics are deceptive at best.”

    Tamino provides some thoughtful remarks on Hansen’s paper and Mass’ comments. As well, Skeptical Science examines the matter and offers some perspective on misunderstandings of Hansen’s paper.

  343. Radge Havers:

    Patrick 027 @ 333
    Maybe so. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a britcom sci-fi spoof. However it’s not afraid to tackle the really big issues; like if there’s no silicon heaven, where do all the little calculators go?

    Re: Artists
    Frustrating, no? I’m of the opinion that more people think like artists than scientists and just can’t quite manage to bridge that gap. That’s one of the reasons why I tend to agree with Greisch about putting more of science and the science/engineering core into other college programs.

  344. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “The problem with antihumanism, whether scientific or artistic, is that it deprives people of hope, at exactly the moment when they most need it.”

    The problem with “antihumanism” is that some people seem to feel that it is “antihuman” to simply state the plain truth that human beings are not the “crown of creation”, but one species among many that have evolved within the Earth’s biosphere, upon which we are absolutely dependent for our continued existence, which we are presently in the process of degrading and destroying through reckless, rapacious greed and ignorance, and which we have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the ability to “manage”.

    Any “hope” based on the notion that the existential threats facing us arise from the biosphere’s need for “better management” or human “stewardship” is an empty, vain and false hope. The biosphere doesn’t need our “stewardship”. It doesn’t need us at all. What the biosphere needs is for us humans to end our war of mass destruction against it.

    What’s needed, in the long run, is for the human species collectively to attain the insight, wisdom and humility to recognize that we are just one thread in the web of life, and to manage our own behavior with appropriate respect for other species, and for the Earth’s biosphere as a whole.

    What’s needed in the short run — and urgently needed, in the very short run — is much simpler, and much less profound: we need to change our technology. We need to stop burning fossil fuels. We need to stop deforestation. We need to stop emitting CO2. And we need to start drawing down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2.

    These are basically technical problems, and the means to solve them are at hand. The obstacles are not technological or economic — the only real obstacle is the entrenched wealth and power of those who profit from the status quo, who continue to obstruct and delay the necessary changes.

    If we can overcome that obstacle, and apply the solutions that are readily available, then yes, there is “hope” that human civilization can survive this crisis, wounded but wiser, and move forward to deal with the long term, deeper issues — evolving a human society that can live sustainably, in harmony with the rest of the Earth’s biosphere and the other species with which we share this planet.

  345. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris Korda: “One idea that possibly could inspire people quickly enough is betterment of the human condition, via active participation in civil society.”

    Because that’s worked so well up to now… Jesus, Chris. Literally. It is not as if visionaries have not been preaching the betterment of the human condition since at least 2500 BCE or so. And yet science has accomplished far more toward that end in just 400 years than all the idealism, philosophy and religion did in the previous 2000. Science works, and science deals with truth.

    Truth #1 Humans are animals–specifically apes. And we are actually from the nastier side of the family of great apes (the one with Chimps and Orangutans rather than Gorillas and bonobos)

    Truth #2 The reason humans are not “better” is because the survival of the species will tolerate only so much altruism. Yes, at some level a$$holes have an evolutionary advantage over those of us who care. At the same time, they could not survive without us.

    Truth #3 Humans are very special–to other humans. Nature is unimpressed. We are Jonny-come-lately’s on the block, and it is quite unclear whether this whole large-brained thing is going to catch on, or whether it is just a fad. The fact that Nature doesn’t care does not negate the specialness of humans to other humans. However, the specialness of humans to other humans doesn’t negate the fact that Nature is a cruel ol’ bitch–just ask a tomato worm infested with parasitic wasps.

    I cannot stress enough, the importance of Truth #3, Chris. It is the one that states very clearly that we are welcome to the lives we have as long as we can keep and preserve them–but nature is going to keep probing for any signs of “unfitness”. Refusal to accept reality probably qualifies as unfitness.

  346. John E. Pearson:

    339: Ron R wrote: “I am convinced that this planet that we were gifted to live upon, was once a world of exquisite loveliness, of adventure, of quiet, of peace. ”

    Me too. It ended somewhere between the Hadean and the Archean.

  347. derek:

    @326, thanks for the article link. I’ve downloaded it and will check it out.
    @327, thanks. Makes sense.
    @337, thanks. I guess my question now is why it is 30 years, and can that number be estimated from the time scales of various quasiperiodic signals. I guess it’s not the most important question climatologically–but it is something I have been curious about for some time.

  348. Charles:

    I have no problem with people thinking like artists (I am a scientist). The problem occurs when these artistic thinkers try to argue science. This is especially true with politicians, who want a short, exact answer to a very complex issue.

  349. wili:

    “People need to believe that what they’re doing can and will make a difference, no matter how uncertain things seem. They also need education, and health care, and countless other things, but above all they need hope.”

    Nicely put, but it’s getting exceedingly difficult to do that without lying to them, and lies, besides being inherently immoral, eventually backfire as a tactic for mobilizing people.

    Essentially, we are now in a very large building that is on fire and there are no exits.

    We have to go around convincing people that the fun little habit we all have gotten used to of splashing gasoline (ie fossil fuels–CO2) everywhere is not a good idea, but we can’t honestly say at this point that putting an end to that cheery habit will prevent all of us from eventual incineration.

    McKibben now seems to think that we should focus on shorter-term goals that involve enemies with faces we can recognize–Koch Brothers, Exxon executives, coal industry lobbyists… If we could really be inspired to see these folks as the threats to the future of life on the planet that they pretty much are, perhaps we could be convinced to take not only the political steps, but take steps of direct action and boycott (of ffs) that will really bring down these death industries and in the process, get us to identify use of their products with support of earth killers (not to mention that we become earth-killers ourselves when we use them).

    Sorry for the ramble, but I do think we need to be inspired, and art will certainly be crucial in any such inspiration. I just don’t think lies can or should play a large role in inspiring people, and that limits our options considerably at this point, if you really understand the situation we now find ourselves in–facing near-certainty of 6 degrees C increase by the end of the century… Even the UN and US official positions are that keeping below the 2 degree mark is now impossible, and we all know that even that was not a scientifically valid “safe” level of increase.

    So ‘saving the planet’ is no longer a viable, honest rallying cry (not that it proved particularly effective even when it was). Finding an authentic basis for inspiring right action does seem to be a central concern at this juncture. Right action, and right NON-action–most of what we have to ‘do’ is to STOP doing most of the things that are driving the planet to mass extinction: stop flying, stop (most) driving, stop (most) meat eating, stop most electric use, stop over-heating and -cooling our houses, stop eating non-local and highly processed foods…

    How can we inspire these kinds of non-actions?

    Can we make all those actions seem the uncool, extinction-causing activities that they are?

    Can we somehow appeal to vanity–the Atkins diet, after all, managed to get tens millions of people to give up bread–the very staff of life, the basis of western diet for thousands of years–just because it claimed doing so may help you lose weight.

    There is a far better claim that biking and walking nearly everywhere, living mostly on plants–especially fresh local produce, doing your own gardening, eating less…will make you thin (not to mention happy) than that Atkins’ regimen will.

    (Sorry again for the long ramble.)

  350. prokaryotes:

    Global Warming News August 2012 http://climateprogress.net/item/global-warming-news-august-2012.html

    A selection of important findings, additions are welcome :)

  351. dbostrom:

    SA: What’s needed, in the long run, is for the human species collectively to attain the insight, wisdom and humility to recognize that we are just one thread in the web of life, and to manage our own behavior with appropriate respect for other species, and for the Earth’s biosphere as a whole.

    Homo sapiens, or Homo bolidus? We are privileged to decide, if we can collectively behave more intelligently than an enormous rock on a trajectory to mass destruction of ourselves and much else in our debris field. The “sapiens” tag seems to be premature at best.

  352. John E. Pearson:

    CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low


  353. Jim Larsen:

    340 Chris said, “There’s already momentum in this direction, in the Occupy movement and elsewhere, building on the civil rights and anti-war struggles.”

    It all comes down to a race. Being downtrodden increases birth rates, but belief in myths does the same. So, which side produces the most children will win – if the believers in myth win, we all lose, so the obvious solution is to breed like rabbits until the Republicans can’t steal elections regardless of how many folks they prevent from voting and how much money they spend to confuse the electorate.

    If you’re a Democrat and using a condom, you’re part of the problem.

  354. Jim Larsen:

    SA said, “human beings are not the “crown of creation”, but one species among many that have evolved within the Earth’s biosphere, upon which we are absolutely dependent for our continued existence,”

    Sorry, but total crap. We could exterminate all but a few thousand species and do quite well, thank you very much. Wooo, we’d have to rely on science to create new medicines, BUT disease would take a huge hit by exterminating birds and such. Really, other than our desire to see wildlife, what do we need besides domesticated species and slime mold? Take any Space Flight To The Stars ship, and you’ve got everything we need.

    Seriously, can you state ANY inherent flaw in the deliberate destruction of 99% of the biosphere? (I find the idea reprehensible, but I insist on logical truth)

  355. J Bowers:

    339 Ron R — “I am convinced that this planet that we were gifted to live upon, was once a world of exquisite loveliness, of adventure, of quiet, of peace. A true Garden of Eden.”

    I don’t. I think the universe has been so out to get us since day one I sneer at trees when passing them by and tell small children to keep their distance. Adding to the universe’s arsenal in its efforts to kick out the Holocene ain’t helping. Call me a pessimist, it’s okay ;)

  356. wili:

    Jim, “total crap” may have been a bit…hasty.

    Picking just one example–bees (and other pollinators). Get rid of those, and much of our food supply crashes. (And that is what is what we seem to be facing–huge crashes in bee populations in North America and Europe.)

    Another–phytoplankton. Saying goodbye to those guys is (eventually) saying goodbye to about half of our oxygen supply. (Again, that is what we seem to be facing–40% reduction in phytoplankton, last I heard.)

    As I understand it, there are just a few kinds of fungus responsible for crucial stages of breakdown of dead matter into soil usable by plants. Lose those and you (eventually) lose your soil that our wonderful domesticated plants need to grow and to feed to our wonderful domesticated animals.

    So there are a few flaws in your devious plan to destroy 99% of the biosphere.

    And of course, GW makes our once-reliable domesticated crops impossible to grow anyway. When the corn belt moves into northern Canada where there is barely any topsoil and the growing season is very short, we simply won’t have a corn yield, at least not one that could feed many people, much less livestock and cars…

    And I’m just an ignorant liberal arts guy. I’m sure someone trained in the study of ecology could multiply those examples many times. I know that ecological economists have valued the ‘services’ provided by non-domesticated plants, animals and fungi at many times the total global economic output, so you run into problems if you think you can just pay for those services.

    But you express well what a kind of default assumption of many modern humans with a certain mind set, even if they don’t generally state it as baldly and boldly as you have.

  357. SecularAnimist:

    Radge Havers wrote: “I’m of the opinion that more people think like artists than scientists and just can’t quite manage to bridge that gap. That’s one of the reasons why I tend to agree with Greisch about putting more of science and the science/engineering core into other college programs.”

    This is of course merely an anecdotal observation, but it seems to me that global warming denial is more prevalent among engineers than artists; and quite a few artists are in fact outspoken activists and advocates for dealing with global warming.

  358. SecularAnimist:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “We could exterminate all but a few thousand species and do quite well, thank you very much … Seriously, can you state ANY inherent flaw in the deliberate destruction of 99% of the biosphere?”

    Right. Nuclear war is winnable, and if we have enough shovels to go around, everyone will be fine.

    Seriously, I must assume — or at least hope — that your comment is satire.

  359. Ron R.:

    339 Ron R — “I am convinced that this planet that we were gifted to live upon, was once a world of exquisite loveliness, of adventure, of quiet, of peace. A true Garden of Eden.”

    Comment by John E. Pearson @ 1:53 PM: Me too. It ended somewhere between the Hadean and the Archean.

    Comment by J Bowers — @ 4:27 AM I don’t. I think the universe has been so out to get us since day one

    My apologies to readers if I appear obsessed with certain time periods. I’ve been researching and attempting to write a non non-fiction book (as opposed to a fiction) about parts of the Miocene, the springtime of the earth IMO. I hope that I can do it and if so produce a work worthy of the subject. Yes I know, “nature red in tooth and claw” and all that, but this will be a book of larger contrasts.

    Of course the beauty of nature was not restricted to that particular time. I read one story about the interglacial Sangamon that inspired me. But even as recently as the seventeenth century substantial parts of the planet were still pristine.

    I like to quote the following from the famous French explorer to the Americas, Pierre Esprit Radisson c1652 in the description of his journey through what would later become the United States:

    “The further we sojourned the delightfuller the land was to us. I can say that in my lifetime I never saw a more incomparable country….The country was so pleasant, so beautiful and fruitful that it grieved me to see the world could not discover such enticing countries to live in. This I say because the europeans fight for a rock in the sea against each other, or for a sterile and horrid country. Contrariwise, these kingdoms are so delicious and under so temperate a climate, plentiful of all things, the earth bringing forth its fruit twice a year, the people live long and lusty and wise in their way.”

    Yet in the mere 360 years that have elapsed since then look what we have done.

    Where do we stand in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world? Clearly, the past half century has been a traumatic one, as the collective impact of human numbers, affluence (consumption per individual) and our choices of technology continue to exploit rapidly an increasing proportion of the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate…. during a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world’s topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them. Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.
    -Peter Raven, past president of AAAS.

    When I measure the world as it was and still can be (though to a much lesser extent) against the world as it is rapidly becoming I am sickened.

  360. Chris Korda:

    OK the fog is getting a bit thick so maybe a recap will help me keep track. Brief summaries of the most prolific and/or extreme voices, with representative quotes.

    SA: Wants us to transcend our anthropocentrism and/or leave the biosphere alone, e.g. @344: “collectively … attain the insight, wisdom and humility to recognize that we are just one thread in the web of life, and to manage our own behavior with appropriate respect for other species, and for the Earth’s biosphere as a whole.”

    Ron R: Objects to “dissecting” nature and longs for our pre-industrial hunter-gatherer past, e.g. @339: “I am convinced that this planet that we were gifted to live upon, was once a world of exquisite loveliness, of adventure, of quiet, of peace” until people “got tired of waiting for nature’s rhythms.”

    wili: Thinks geoengineering is “goats tending the garden” (@301), but acknowledges that pre-industrial societies also modified their environment, and wants to save the planet by persuading people to stop driving, eating meat and processed foods, using electricity, etc. but without lying to them about what’s ahead.

    Patrick 027: Likes chocolate, air-conditioning, and fun with friends, agrees (@132) that science can’t solve ethical problems, and suspects humanity might have more at stake its mere survival, e.g. @168: “species preserved, self preserved … Check. Now what?”

    Radge Havers: Recognizes non-human suffering and the beauty of nature, and thinks humans should combine logic and compassion to “solve complex optimization problems” (@284), but also thinks humans are “faulty apes who like to sit around philosophizing” and are “full of crap.” Likes cats, artists not so much.

    Steve Fish: Considers “the death of a great many humans from starvation and war” a significant factor that shouldn’t be dismissed. Also points out @207 that corporations “want to continue making big profits regardless of consequences” and that their bad behavior could conceivably be limited by increased government regulation. Has actually considered and presumably seen “Soylent Green.” (@179)

    Ray Ladbury: Opines @305 that humans are about as significant (to nature) as ants. Doesn’t think humans matter to cats but likes them anyway. Believes “science has accomplished far more toward [betterment of the human condition] in just 400 years than all the idealism, philosophy and religion did in the previous 2000.”

    Jim Larsen: Dislikes the “magical market” @137, digs lions and We the People, and thinks stewardship of Earth is the only game in town, e.g. @308: “Humans ARE the stewards of the world. There is NO NO NO alternative.” Also opines @336 that humans will soon be replaced by silicon, suggests @353 that Democrats should out-breed Republicans, and @354 challenges us to “state ANY inherent flaw in the deliberate destruction of 99% of the biosphere.”

    Edward Greisch: Believes science will solve ethics, but also that “There is only time to limit the population crash enough to preserve some remnant of order.” Charming tone, e.g. @37 “WRONG. And off limits. Leave it alone.” Pro-hunting and doesn’t waste tears on extinct species, but hopes to seed exo-planets (@272). Fan of “extreme action now”, and thinks “there are zero human authorities” and that “NATURE is the absolute dictator” (@330), but sociobiology has nothing whatsoever to with [censored], presumably because history is a humanity and therefore doesn’t count.


    Most everyone seems to agree that humans are greedy and ignorant, excepting themselves and a few of their favorite scientists of course.

  361. Ron R.:

    By the way, where is RC’s most prolific commenter?

  362. Radge Havers:

    SA @ 357

    Anecdotal, yes. However anecdotally I can also tell you that artists are a diverse lot. That includes some fans of Rush Limbaugh I know. Nor does concern about climate change necessarily equate with any great love of science, for instance on the subjects of alt med or perhaps astrology.

    I’m simply pointing out that the discipline required to be a good artist is not fungible (for lack of a better word) with the discipline required to be a good scientist. I suspect this is partly due to the way the human brain is wired, but it’s also a cultural thing in the art world which, I opine, is bound up with society at large at a more instinctual level than is science.

  363. Kevin McKinney:

    “Seriously, can you state ANY inherent flaw in the deliberate destruction of 99% of the biosphere?”

    Yeah–the utter impossibility of ensuring which species will be in the 1% to survive.

    To quote a famous philosopher, “Are you feeling lucky?”

    How is it that folks who presumably adhere to the view that daring to plan a national economy is ridiculous, counterproductive hubris, adopt the view that humanity is up to planning a global ecology for which we don’t even know all the species yet, let alone understand the interactions? How is it that people exist who are willing to admire the homeostatic capabilities of the world we live in, then think nothing throwing out 99% of its biological components?

    (Jim, I don’t know that you fall into either of these two groups. But your idea is unbelievably naive, at best.)

  364. Ray Ladbury:

    Jim Larsen,
    “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit”–Edward Abbey

    We evolved with all of the species that grew or walked or swam or flew or slithered on the earth 3 million years ago. Those species nourished, entertained, amazed and terrified us. Every time we lose one of those species, a part of our humanity dies.

  365. Ric Merritt:

    Thanks Jim Larsen for clarifying your thoughts on living just fine without all but a few thousand species. (Selected by whom, and the destruction managed by whom and how, you seem to have left as an exercise for the reader.)

    Humans are complicated enough that the possibility remains you could say something that makes sense on some other topic, but given that howler, the chances are not enough for me to waste my valuable time on reading your comments. Now I can safely skip them, and my days just got more efficient.

    Great job!

  366. Radge Havers:

    Chris Korda @ 360

    OK. That was amusing.

    However, something seems to be missing from the recap.

    Chris Korda: Doesn’t do nuance.

  367. Jim Larsen:

    “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit”–Edward Abbey

    Great quote. Myself, I adore trees and my spirit soars when I wander an old-growth forest.

    We’re sort of killing ourselves softly as we degrade the biosphere which provides us with so much. “Need” has many levels. I was only talking about the most crass one – we could survive in a spaceship type environment, but geez, what a horrid visual, which is why I used the word reprehensible.

    And I apologize to all for my political comment, which wasn’t even accurate. I’ll try to do better.

  368. Jim Larsen:

    365 Ric M said, “Thanks Jim Larsen for clarifying your thoughts on living just fine without all but a few thousand species. ”

    Uh, no. I said that was a reprehensible concept, not a goal. My point was that our actions threaten to make such an existence a reality.

  369. flxible:

    If Jim Larsen thinks we can do fine on 1% of the biosphere, he doesn’t understand how dependent his own existence is on bacteria, which represent the vast majority of the biomass on earth. And THAT is the flaw in his proposal, which of course was just hand waving anyway.

  370. SecularAnimist:

    Chris Korda wrote: “Most everyone seems to agree that humans are greedy and ignorant, excepting themselves and a few of their favorite scientists of course.”

    I certainly don’t except myself.

    Greed, fear and ignorance are the universal human condition, and the fundamental cause of suffering. Awakening to this truth is the first step on the path to liberation from greed, fear and ignorance and the transformation of suffering to well-being.

    “Many people are free from physical illness, for a month, or a year, or even an entire lifetime. Few are free from mental illness for even a single moment.” — Buddha

  371. Jim:

    Please pick it up a couple of notches folks. If you want to discuss climatic effects on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, human demography or health, or similar topics, that would probably benefit everyone. Flippant and wild generalizations about god-knows-what, not so much.

  372. Jimb:

    An article in our Edmonton paper referred to a report that rare forest fires may damage polar bear dens around Churchill Manitoba. Further details found at http://www.moneyville.ca/article/1243054–rare-wildfires-may-destroy-pregnant-polar-bears-dens-near-hudson-bay also points out that warmer temperatures and snow and ice conditions may make the situation more difficult for females to nurture and protect new cubs. Some polar bear populations are already on the endangered list.

  373. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Chris Korda — 17 Aug 2012 @ 10:57 AM:

    That is a pretty good summary with the exception that I didn’t say anything about government regulation and the usual problems with lifting quotes out of the context of a discussion.

    Your final comment- “Most everyone seems to agree that humans are greedy and ignorant, excepting themselves and a few of their favorite scientists of course” -is just a nasty dig without any basis. The fact that you left out a summary for yourself is telling.

    I think that your hazy philosophy pot stirring is just a type of tolling for a science forum and it has brought out the worst in many posters here by encouraging discussions of Mama Gaia, animistic religion, and such, that have nothing to do with climate science or even any realistic strategies for dealing with a problematic future for my grandkids.

    The trolling weather has been bad lately. Steve

    [Response:Last word on the issue. Defensible statements and discussion of the physical, chemical, biological, statistical etc. issues only from here on out please.–Jim]

  374. Jim Larsen:

    369 flxible said, “dependent his own existence is on bacteria, which represent the vast majority of the biomass on earth.”

    Heck, you don’t even have to include anything but the human body. Our bacteria/viruses/parasites exceed our cells, number-wise at least.

    Hank, we can decide but reality won’t follow our decision. Cockroaches, rats, and weeds do pretty well in devastation. I was just painting a nasty, horrid visual and then disowning it at the end. Not my best post, for sure, but hopefully I’ve clarified things a bit.

  375. dbostrom:

    Jim: Our bacteria/viruses/parasites exceed our cells, number-wise at least.

    I’m not sure if it’s scientifically defensible, but I’m under the impression that after a long hot summer day of working outside, bacteria out-mass my directly genomic body.

  376. Superman1:


    Could you repeat the list of positive feedback loops you gave me on another blog?

  377. Patrick 027:

    Just 3 points of clarification (which are defensible) and moving on –

    A number of statements could be made about how humans are special and about how humans are not special and they could all be true (I’ve agreed with many thus far).

    An artist may think about physics, evolution, and of course geometry, when drawing some invented creature (I have); and of course when drawing natural phenomena, knowledge of those can be helpful and enriching.

    Other arguments were had over things where both sides were true or at least true up to a point or in some interpretation; I restrain myself from going into the details.

    Re 343 Radge Havers – thanks for the description of that show; I’ll keep it mind, sounds good. As for artists, Chris v. Edward, etc. – I had a different take – won’t go into it as it’s officially OT now but I didn’t want to feel like I had left you with the wrong impression (you could figure some of what I mean out from my prior comments).

    Re Jim Larsen –
    @ 332 – on waiting for better technology – well, there’s the problem that in the meantime we’d be using that much more fossil fuels (energy usage reduction could occur in either case). The LCAs of wind and solar look pretty good (see my earlier http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/unforced-varations-aug-2012/comment-page-2/#comment-242329 ) If it were competitive to install wind and solar with the right CO2eq tax rate (or even if not quite, given mass market advantages and learning curves), then it makes sense to install them now, I think. If we aren’t expecting such a rapid increase in efficiency that would justify waiting to keep the best lands, etc, open, and then that increase happens (for a given affordibility), then we’d just be ahead and it would be good news. (PS the LCA’s tend to assume lifetimes on the order of 30 years or so.)

    PS the thermodynamic limit for solar power is actually pretty high (at least for concentrated sunlight) but affordability/practicality demands are such that people seem to be satisfied with rather lower numbers commercially; which gives us PV that is still doable from a land-use (and roof-use) perspective.

    (A (at least conventional) PV cell is a bit like a heat engine in that high temperature, low entropy radiation enters, produces high temperature electrons and holes, which then ‘cool’ without recombining (by interactions with the crystal lattice), which I think has the effect of partially seperating some of the energy from some of the entropy – the (quasi-)fermi levels for each population of excited charge carriers are pulled apart, and the difference is usable energy. There is a loss from a minimum required rate of recombination to satisfy Kirchoff’s law (emissivity = absorptivity – noting that one must use an effective temperature, which describes the fermi distribution that would fit population densities of electrons and holes, and that varies as a function of energy) – however that could be gotten around a bit by foregoing absorbing the lowest energy photons that can be used (empoying a sort of greenhouse effect). Directing photons in different parts of the spectrum to different cells can reduce the waste heat from the ‘cooling’ of the excited charge carriers (based on the physics as I read it, a sufficiently narrow spectral interval of photons with energy just barely above the band gap could produce a cold population of excited charge carriers, which would then absorb heat (but lose usable energy)). I imagine luminescent concentrator physics is similar – *if* a large interval of photons is absorbed and the same number are emitted (by fluorescence) at a lower energy in a narrow interval, if the energy is not too much lower than the brightness temperature is actually increased (the entropy wouldn’t dissapear, it would just go elsewhere – essentially pre-processing the energy for the solar cells – if the fluorescence in a real luminescent concentrator behaves that way; I think the main point of a luminescent concentrator is that it can concentrate diffuse light energy onto a smaller area of cells). Using concentrated sunlight so that energy is being absorbed from all directions that it could be emitted into boosts the efficiency that can be achieved. Regarding the emission of radiation – CSP is similar in that as the heat source for the engine warms up, it will tend to emit some radiation back into the concentrator and out to space/etc (also could be mitigated with a greenhouse effect). Wind also has a limit due to, I think, the fluid flow’s ability to deflect around the turbine in response to resistance to flow, and the need to leave some kinetic energy in the flow so that it can keep flowing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz'_law ). Perhaps a generalization could be made that the greater fraction of captured energy you try to convert to usable energy, the smaller the fraction of incident power you can actually capture (this is illustrated nicely in a current-voltage plot for solar cells) – so you find the optimum point somewhere in the middle).

    @ 335 – Thanks, although I can create the illusion of being smart by choosing to write about things I know / would hope that I’m smart enough to write so that people understand it.

  378. Jim Larsen:

    376 Patrick, I disagree with the word “waiting”. I’m saying spend the amount you’d prefer, but to do it more efficiently than we do now. For example, for renewables to work in large numbers, we *need* a better grid with a DC backbone or three, plus the legal ability to transfer energy long distances. Nowadays electrons run into legislative borders. All those NW wind turbines become liabilities exactly at the time they should be providing their best return. Had we spent the money needed to ensure technical and legal ability to use those turbines to the max – say it took 1 year – then by now we’d be harvesting more energy from one-year better turbines being used properly, and we’d have a starter backbone.

    So spend the money (we’ve got a limited budget each year) on the grid, on efficiency, on developing a standardized system, much like France did with nuclear power, and, of course, continue building systems to keep the industry healthy and to aid learning. So much of renewables is just construction that needs to migrate from custom to standard. PV is <$1(?), but installing them triples(?) the price. That's a problem that can be solved in a couple years, so the slowdown I'm asking folks to consider isn't necessarily very long, and at the end of the delay we'd go gangbusters because the prep work will make the economics compelling.

    By doing things we can get agreement on we can reduce the argument later. Look at wind. The fighting whipsaws the market. That increases producer risk and taxpayer/consumer prices, scares people away from the industry, and gives fodder to folks who want wind killed.

    Another way to think of it is, say you have two things that must be done to complete a job, A and B. A is predicted to drop in price tremendously, while B is predicted to increase in price a bit. All else being equal (it isn't), you'd do B first. That's where we are with renewables. No backbone, no massive switch to renewables. And I'm sure building the backbone itself would save carbon. When energy can shuttle anywhere, things get more efficient, so it's not obvious that building renewables before the backbone would save carbon (VS building the backbone along with fewer renewables first).

    I've read differing estimates on the EROEI for wind and solar, ranging from 9 months payback (great!) to 10:1 lifetime (sorta yucky), depending on the site and the technology. Energy isn't money, but at 9 months a case could be made for installing now AND later. Build it, rip it out in 10 years, and replace. That offends my sense of frugality, but sense is often wrong.

    But seriously, building a system before it's proper use is possible or even legal….

  379. Jim Larsen:

    A DC backbone would hasten (locally-consumed) coal’s death.

    o man, what a recaptcha: still shunbra

  380. Jim Larsen:

    “hope that I’m smart enough to write so that people understand it.”

    Hansen is one of the best role-models to have in that endeavour. Some of his work reads at almost a high school level – the gap he bridges is amazing.

  381. Charles:

    I agree that more artists tend to be activist. At least that has been my experience. I disagree that engineers are deniers. Deniers appear to be the uneducated, conspiracy-driven folk who distrust anyone in power. Engineers appear to be in tune with the skeptic crowd, not wanting to accept anything that is not support by hard data.

  382. Patrick 027:

    cont. from

    THIS IS PART A (of the Chandler-wobble – precession – obliquity – tidal drag – climate friction comments I said I was going to do). (I think I may have gotten a bit carried away with it; but rest assured, equations in the rest of these (except maybe part B – I’m splitting the originally planned part A into A and B since I couldn’t type it out all at once) will be briefer. Part B will be more physics and a lot of the rest of this will be text and you won’t need to know so much math to actually understand it – I just put it here in case anybody wanted to see how it comes together.


    -± will indicate the minus above plus sign.

    ^ indicates an exponent, such as 6^2 = 36, or cos^2(θ) = [1 + cos(2*θ)]/2;
    if not followed by a number, then it is indicating a unit vector in the same direction as the vector otherwise denoted.

    xi, x,y,z, etc, whenever a magnitude must be specified, will be unit vectors in those directions.

    * multiplication (as in “Excel”), except
    ∙, • dot product (vectors), matrix multiplication (I may switch from one to the other if it looks better, and might sometimes use this for products of scalars too, but the asterisk is so easy to type in.

    × cross product (vectors)

    vector: A = ∑Ai = ∑Ai*xi = [A1,A2,A3] = [Ax,Ay,Az], depending on how coordinates are labelled

    magnitude of vector |A| = A = √(AA)


    vector products and angles:
    AB = A*B*cos(φ) (A.1);
    |A×B| = A*B*|sin(φ)| (A.2);
    A×B = –B×A (A.3);

    where φ is the angle between the vectors A and B. The cross product is normal (perpendicular) to the plane parallel to A and B.


    The dot product of a cross product is equal to the volume of the parallelepiped defined by three vectors (sign depends on order). This is helpful in showing that:

    A•(B×C) = (A×B)•C (A.4) (the parentheses are actually unecessary in this case)

    Geometrical considerations show that the sign stays the same as long as the order is the same (if A is ‘above the plane’ defined by B×C, then C must also be ‘above the plane’ defined by A×B). The order across the dot product can be reversed so there is a larger family of these scalar triple products with the same magnitude and sign.

    The “BAC-CAB” rule for the vector triple product:

    A×(B×C) = B(AC) – C(AB) (A.5)

    (my favorite proof of this is from pp. 31-32 of (6))


    Another useful vector relationship with no name that I know of:

    Using (A.2), it can be shown that:

    |ω×r|^2 =

    (ω×r)•(ω×r) = ω•(r×(ω×r)) (A.6)


    where n^ is in the same direction as ω×r would be if sin(φ) > 0, and is otherwise in the opposite direction, and φ is the angle from ω to r,

    ω×r = n^ * ω*r*sin(φ) (restatement of (A.2))

    therefore |ω×r|^2 = ω^2*r^2*sin^2(φ)

    while, noting a vector is perpendicular to any cross product between it and another vector (in either order),

    r×(ω×r) = (r^×n^) * r * ω*r*sin(φ),

    where (r^×n^) is in the same plane as ω and r and is -90˚ (-π/2 radians) from r (a positive angle would continue away from ω in the same sense as φ), and thus φ – π/2 from ω,

    so ω•(r×(ω×r))

    = ω^•(r^×n^) * ω^2*r^2*sin(φ)

    = cos(φ – π/2) * ω^2*r^2*sin(φ)

    = sin(φ) * ω^2*r^2*sin(φ)

    = |ω×r|^2



    2*sin(A)*sin(B) = – [ cos(A+B) – cos(A-B) ] (it is written this way so that the cos(sum) comes before cos(difference)) (A.7a)

    2*cos(A)*cos(B) = cos(A+B) + cos(A-B) (A.7b)

    2*sin(A)*cos(B) = sin(A+B) + sin(A-B) (A.7c)

    which can be combined to find

    sin(A)*cos(B) ± cos(A)*sin(B) = sin(A+B) , sin(A-B) (first is for top symbol in ±, etc.) (A.8a)

    cos(A)*cos(B) ± sin(A)*sin(B) = cos(A-B) , cos(A+B) (A.8b)

    I won’t bother with the more familiar sum of squares, etc.

    An ellipse with semiaxes a and b, centered at the origin, can be graphed parametrically as:

    cos^2(φ)/a^2 + sin^2(φ)/b^2 = 1 (A.9), with φ being the angle corresponding to the point on the circle that the ellipse could form if stretched or compressed.

    likewise, with hyperbolic sines and cosines:

    cosh^2(φ)/a^2 – sinh^2(φ)/b^2 = 1 (A.10) defines a hyperbola.


    for some integrations coming up

    cos^(odd number)(φ) = cos(φ)*[1 – sin^2(φ)]^([(odd number)-1]/2) (A.11a)

    and if u = sin(φ), then du = cos(φ) (A.11b)

    and… well I can only spell out so much here.

  383. Edward Greisch:

    357 SecularAnimist: “it seems to me that global warming denial is more prevalent among engineers than artists”

    I would like to see a survey on that.

  384. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, thanks for the links. From the Scientific American article:

    ” Today the cost of wind, geothermal and hydroelectric are all less than seven cents a kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh); wave and solar are higher. But by 2020 and beyond wind, wave and hydro are expected to be 4¢/kWh or less….within 10 years, photovoltaic system costs could drop to about 10¢/kWh, including long-distance transmission and the cost of compressed-air storage of power for use at night. The same analysis estimates that concentrated solar power systems with enough thermal storage to generate electricity 24 hours a day in spring, summer and fall could deliver electricity at 10¢/kWh or less.

    So, financially it is better to have the build-out for solar crest around 2022? (as in build-out of production capacity, not solar power systems themselves) This could dovetail well with a grid upgrade and national efficiency program. It wouldn’t cost much to get builders to upgrade their insulation standards. Good economic stimulus, too. All those electric cars are a chunk of taxpayer change, too. Each one represents how many new houses with worse insulation? What’s the best rate to produce them?

    On electric cars, my impression (never driven one) is that they suck in winter. Because of free heat, a hybrid’s efficiency is better than an electric in cold weather – and its nice not having to choose between freezing and stranding.

    Wind? Well, half the price in 8 years means that if we banked the money today and bought in 8 years, we could build more than twice as much megawattage, saving a huge amount of carbon. Solar, of course, is ridiculously lopsided. Bank the money and you could carpet the world…

  385. dbostrom:

    Lindzen at it again:

    Well Known Skeptic says Climate Model Predictions are Flawed

    “That climate should be the function of a single parameter (like CO2) has always seemed implausible.”

    Doubly implausible as such a claim exists only in the mind of Lindzen.

    Of course, nobody with any clout is willing to call this man out, so he travels the world filling people’s minds with rubbish, the MIT Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Bullshit Propagation.

    In this case he was speaking to the “Sandia National Laboratory’s Climate Change and National Security Speaker Series.” I’m feeling less secure already.

  386. Jim Larsen:

    A vision of what could be the car of our near future:

    20HP Diesel engine to supply heat and range. The best are 50+% efficient in this role. Tell the car how far you’re going and it decides when to run the generator.

    A big electric motor for fun and to be able to recover as much energy from braking as practical, along with a flywheel or capacitor which can absorb (and re-deliver) the charge. Slam on the brakes and jackrabbit start? Not so bad anymore. Top it off with a 20-50 mile battery and a GPS-enforced speed limiting system and what? 100MPG?

  387. Geoff Wexler:

    Re: John Pearson’s comment #296, my #316, Patrick’s #317, David Benson’s #319
    and John’s reply #338.

    Sorry I was wrong. I read John’s original comment too hastily. When I wrote
    “it is unclear how #296 is so dependent” [e.g. on the ENSO] I had overlooked (in the sense of hardly seeing) the ‘dT’ which it contained. Perhaps this was because I am used to seeing differentials cancelling out. As I see it now, a finite dT could be set equal to say twice a typical ENSO amplitude. No ‘unclear’ any longer.

    Although this was a crude estimate (John’s words) it would be nice to have the reference to the original discussion, including numericalo values, which he said had been previously mentioned in RC.

  388. Susan Anderson:

    For comic relief, Russell’s latest here:

    I call it tartwork, sour and sharp …

    Meanwhile, some delving going on here on shortcomings of BEST and Wegman and Said departures (one can hope some ignominy sticks):

  389. dbostrom:

    Well, half the price in 8 years means that if we banked the money today and bought in 8 years…

    And if everybody makes that very wise choice, they’ll wait forever for the Scottish Moment. Just think about it for a moment.

  390. Jim Larsen:

    To look at what’s possible, here’s how Germany’s doing:

    “During the first half of 2012, the share of renewable energy sources in the electricity supply has risen significantly in Germany, rising to a sensational 25.97%. That’s a massive increase compared to 20.56%, the percentage during the same period in 2011”

    “Wind power with a share of 9.2% (+19.5%)
    Biomass with a share of 5.7% (+7.5%)
    PV-Solar with a share of 5.3% (+47%)
    Hydropower with 4.0% (+25%)
    Other Renewables 0.9% (+10%)”


    5% a year gives a 20 year time horizon, which is a reasonable transition as it wouldn’t end with massive amounts of unnecessary production capability, but enough to upgrade, maintain, replace, and expand properly. The gain neglects the transportation sector amongst other things, and weather was better in 2012 than 2011, but the rate they’ve achieved is hopeful.

    So, this all begs the question. If the world prepared for 10 years and then went 90+% renewable over 20 years, would there be significant climatic risks which we aren’t already committed to?

  391. deconvoluter:

    #384 dbostrom

    Lindzen at it again

    Then he will have to be answered again, e.g. by a link.

    Of course, nobody with any clout is willing to call this man out

    To be fair they * do , but only at a technical level.The trouble is that he runs several kinds of activity. L(I) serious papers arguing for low climate sensitivity; L(II) author of WSJ op-eds etc. with almost no scientific content, and L(III) populist gossip directed at those who want some simple detail. Those with ‘clout’ have to consider L(I), although it is the dodgy stuff in L3 that has the most effect.

    Real-world observations do not support IPCC models, he said: “We’ve already seen almost the equivalent of a doubling of CO2 (in radiative forcing) and that has produced very little warming.

    That example of L(III) was one of the first things I read in climatology, except that L has inflated it since then. One might call it neo-optimism. He ought to be cross examined about this, because it tends to be asserted again and again without the detail. It appears that he has started with the (low) climate sensitivity he wants, and worked backwards to the forcing. In order to obtain the ‘doubling’ he appears to have assumed, without justification, that the aerosol level has been zero and there has been no time delay between forcing and response. It may not be that different from one of Chrstopher Monckton’s arguments.
    * Andrew Dessler and Gavin for example.

  392. John E. Pearson:

    Geoff, there were several separate issues that I was thinking of in 296. In any event here is a reference called “statistical descriptors of climate” by Nathan Guttman. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477(1989)070%3C0602%3ASDOC%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    At some other point I realized that if you knew the change in temperature that a given change in radiative forcing produced you could (crudely) estimate how long it would take. This is elementary stuff, but I found it satisfying to come up with one year-ish (below I get 6 months) for the atmosphere and top meter or two of ocean and ~30 years for the top 200 meters of ocean. There was nothing new in this. It was just a piece of my learning process. The argument goes something like this:

    Climate sensitivity lambda = dT/dF = .8 K/(W m^2)

    M_A=mass of atmosphere = 5 x 10^18kg.
    A_E = surface area of earth = 5 x 10^14 m^2 .
    Areal mass density of atmosphere =M_A/A_E =10^4 kg/m^3 .
    (Sanity check this is about 10tons/square yard which is about right).
    Cp_air = specific heat of air = 1 kJ/ (kg K) . (This is for dry air but this is a back of the envelope calculation so it doesn’t matter much.)
    Cp_water=4.2 kJ/(kg K)

    Areal mass density of water of depth z = 10^3 z kg/m^3 (e.g. if z=2m then Areal density = 2 x 10^3 kg/m^2)

    tau for atmosphere + 2 meters of water

    tau = lambda (Cp_air m_A/A_E + Cp_water x 2 x 10^3 kg/m^2)

    If I wrote down everything correctly you’ll get roughly 1.8 x 10^7 seconds which is about a half a year. Of this half year roughly 3 months of it is for the water. Add a layer of water 100 times deeper and you’ll get 25 years to heat that layer.

    As I said this is crude. This is kind of an implicit box model in which we assume mixing within the boxes is instantaneous. First the atmosphere+tip top-of-ocean box heats. Then the top 200 meters box heats etc.

  393. John E. Pearson:

    386: Geoff, I don’t think you were wrong. I was a little glib in the original post. I think that the time to detect a trend should be at least equal to the response time of the system. But if you have large external noise then it can take much longer that the response time to see the trend. I hadn’t thought of it in these terms but I guess I am claiming that the “noise” isn’t huge. I think maybe there’s a physical reason that this works out this way. It might be because we’re dumping heat back and forth between the top 2 boxes.

    The way I think about the time required to detect a trend is by considering a random walker with diffusion coefficient D and drift velocity v. The square width of the distribution of positions is Dt. The mean is vt. To detect a trend you have to have the change in mean = square width which happens at time t* ~=D/v^2 . In principal t* depends on both v and D. For the climate system you have to think hard to make a claim on what D is.

  394. Unsettled Scientist:

    382 Edward Greisch > “357 SecularAnimist: “it seems to me that global warming denial is more prevalent among engineers than artists”

    I would like to see a survey on that.”

    The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks

    When this study came out in May denialti tried to use it to say that the better you understood science the more climate science seemed wrong. Like they do with most research, this was a distortion by the denialti. What it was saying is that cultural identity can be stronger driver than scientific evidence. So if one identifies strongly as a conservative Republican and sees Nancy Pelosi on television talking about actions we need to take to mitigate climate change, that is more likely to drive one’s belief than the scientific evidence, and having a background in science only gives that person an ability to dig in their heels better. Scientists and engineers have the skill set to pick nits, while artists don’t. But the psychology is driven by cultural philosophy rather than scientific rigor.

    A couple other recent sources on the subject:

    Political orientation moderates Americans’ beliefs and concern about climate change

    The politicization of climate change and polarization in the American public’s views of global warming, 2001–2010

  395. John E. Pearson:

    Damn it. In my post above I wrote
    Climate sensitivity lambda = dT/dF = .8 K/(W m^2)

    it should’ve been Climate sensitivity lambda = dT/dF = .8 K/(W/m^2)

  396. John E. Pearson:

    Double damn. Another typo:

    I wrote “To detect a trend you have to have the change in mean = square width which happens at time t* ~=D/v^2 .”

    It should’ve been
    “To detect a trend you have to have the square of the change in mean = square width which happens at time t* ~=D/v^2 .”

    I was trying to say (vt)^2 = D t which gives t = D/v^2 .

  397. Ron R.:

    Chris Korda # 360 Ron R: Objects to “dissecting” nature and longs for our pre-industrial hunter-gatherer past

    If I could explain. I did make a comment a couple of days ago that did not make it in. In it I said that human intellect is a marvelously evolved natural trait, as lovely, in its way, as other wondrous natural creations such as the brilliant colors of love birds and macaws, the blinding speed of peregrine falcons and cheetahs, the lovely luminosity of the firefly and jelly fish, the exquisite songs of meadowlarks and whales etc. With our intellect we have created fantastic things, music, literature, art, beneficial technologies. So I don’t think that going back to cave dwelling is the answer (unless of course someone wants to), we’d be bored stiff.

    On the other hand though, it was our separation from nature, our mistaken notion that we are somehow above and autonomous from it that has led to our present predicament. We lost respect for the earth and for other species. We bred as if only we mattered. Insanity! We are a part of nature, fully biological beings that have to breathe air, and exhale CO2 like every other animal. Our outer extensions, trees and plankton reverse that. Its a symbiotic relationship.

    Sadly, unlike the other traits mentioned, ours has led to very serious issues. Exploding human numbers, far above natural background species extinction, habitat destruction, global pollution, climate change, micro scale threats such as nuclear, nanotech, and GMOs, energy issues, social injustices that beget wars. These we have to overcome, and soon, or it’s “game over” for us all to use the phrase.

    How to do it? Divide and conquer has usually worked best for big battles. Each of these issues needs to be first honestly and soberly acknowledged, not just by scattered individuals and groups, but by world governments, with the lies (and liars) finally discarded. Having done that these hurdles can then be seriously confronted. When we look at them as a whole our problems appear overwhelming, but one-by-one, if collectively (officially) addressed I think it is doable.

    Start by acknowledging that we have to back off from resource extraction. One way to reduce demand is to reduce our numbers by (again, officially) campaigning to make people aware of it’s consequences.


    Another thing we should do is to “rewild” the world.


    Whatever we do, we can’t wait much longer. Kicking the can down the road has not been working out too well for us.

  398. Patrick 027:

    re my 381: PART A
    – Messed up the parametric formulas for ellipses and hyperbolas; corrected versions later.

  399. Patrick 027:

    Re Jim Larsen @ 383, etc. –

    I tend to think that energy efficiency gains are more efficient in summer than in winter for that reason – waste heat in winter (if indoors or directed that way) isn’t a complete waste, of course. Maybe (P/H)EVs (especially just the EVs) could gain greater market share in warmer regions first. On the other hand, sometimes it could be more efficient to not produce waste heat and use a heat pump instead.

    What fraction of available wind energy (for installed turbines) isn’t being used due to grid issues?

    I’ll get back to you later on other things (but see 388 dbostrom – part of the reason prices will come down is the the ongoing and increasing rate of production and installation. But I’m all for streamlining paperwork).

    Re my 376 “Re 343 Radge Havers – “…”As for“… that was aside from the 360 comment.

    (PS Tip for anyone summarizing a discussion (not that discussion, that’s done with) – maybe better to summarize the arguments/issues than people’s positions – that way if you mess up you don’t actually misrepresent anyone, and maybe you’ll actually resolve things.)

    PS re 392 Unsettled Scientist (tangentially) and myself earlier – artists and scientists, etc. – attention to detail could be a commonality.

    re 395 Ron R – well done. Another aspect of the relationship between people and (the rest of) nature is that, I would suspect, it is easier to appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature when you can make yourself safe from its dangers and secure from its discomforts (or at least have that option available) (people don’t go tornado chasing much on bicycles).

  400. Jim Larsen:

    388 dbostrom said, “And if everybody makes that very wise choice, they’ll wait forever for the Scottish Moment. Just think about it for a moment.”

    Nope. Assuming an 8 year decision cycle, for the first decision the carbon and financial equations are compelling for going as slow as doesn’t hurt the learning curve (and done in a fashion which treats the learning curve as the primary goal), but for the next cycle, the rate of price reduction will probably slow (wind is getting pretty mature), and the value of the expected reduction from a cost basis already reduced by the first decision by 50% (wind) or 75%(?) (solar) starts to look small compared to the value of the electricity produced over 8 years. Somewhere around then, the equations will favor rapid deployment. That’s for everybody, though the specific jumping off point depends on factors such as the age and sufficiency of the current fossil fleet.

  401. wili:

    @375 re feedbacks:

    I’m not sure what blog that was or which positive feedbacks I mentioned, but here is my current list, for what it’s worth (unedited, with some rather speculative items included). I’d be interested in any additions or emendations from any corner.

    Feedback list


    charney = “fast” feedbacks:
    –albedo change with loss of land and sea ice and snow (stops when all snow and ice gone)
    –water vapor
    –cloud (both ways?)
    –“lapse rate”

    (negative feedback in tropics and overall)
    I need better knowledge here.

    non-charney “slow” feedbacks:
    carbon feedbacks
    –forests and grasslands dry up and burn/die>CO2
    –“ “ get bugs/diseases, die>termites>methane
    –soils, already weakened from above, wash away with increasingly extreme downpours, leaving no medium for plant that could absorb CO2 to grow
    –terrestrial soils dry up>CO2 methane

    “If the bank of carbon held in the world’s soils were to drop by just 0.3 percent, the release would equal a year’s worth of fossil fuel emissions.” (from first comment to cp article below)


    –permafrost melts—release CO2&methane from new bacterial activity/ free methane from deeper reservoirs
    –melting Greenland icecap uncovers same?
    –sea bed permafrost, clathrates, free methane
    –sea surface increased activity of methanogens
    –newly flooded areas from sea level rise become new swamps—more methane
    –Rising CO2 In Atmosphere Also Speeds Carbon Loss From Forest Soils



    –drought, an expected outcome of GW, can increase intensity of heatwaves



    –end of change of state–when all ice gone in a region, no more heat sucked up by its melting

    –newly open Arctic Ocean evaporates more H2O (a GHG) (but open ocean can also absorb more CO2)

    –warmer ocean absorbs less CO2

    –warmer (and more acidic?) oceans kill phytoplankton that sequester CO2

    –melting permafrost releases NOX

    ((within glacier/snow/ice dynamics:
    –accelerating albedo shift with black carbon (soot) consentrating on surface as melt goes on

    –accelerating albedo shift with more trees growing in the tundra; now happening faster than once thought, since many ‘shrubs’ native to and widespread throughout the tundra grow into trees as conditions warm

    –uplift from isostatic rebound as Gr icesheet melts changes angle to greater slope down which ice slides faster

    –similar activity could cause local earthquakes (?) which may increase collapse of fragile ice

    –Loss of GIS accelerating as highest areas melt down to lower, warmer areas, not only increasing sea level (see above), but also hastening the time when there will be no more ice cap to absorb hundreds of quintillions of joules of energy as it melts (see above)

    –More wild fires also means more soot in the air which further changes albedo of ice and snow, leading further to the effects mentioned immediately above

    –as tundra and GIS melt, they also allow deeper pools of free methane to be released into the atmosphere (find article on this—june ’12)

    — Bigger storms from GW cause updrafts to carry moisture all the way into the stratosphere, reducing ozone and creating more ghg (water vapor) into part of the atmosphere that has very little of it.


    –“ If the Hadley cells do shift so that air is being pulled along the earths surface from mid latitudes towards the Arctic, then one would expect that more soot and dust will accumulate on the remaining ice including on Greenland.”

    –“ Reversal of the Polar Vortex
    Putting together the above information, we see what powers the polar vortex. As the Arctic air radiates heat into space, it sinks, sucking high altitude air toward the poles. Coriolis effect skews this flow of air to the right so at high latitudes, on the surface of the earth there are North East winds (flowing towards the South West) With more and more heat being absorbed by an ice free Arctic ocean and transmitted to the air, this circulation pattern should reverse. This would be expected to bring a huge flux of warm air from the south which would exacerbate the effect and cause sudden extremely warmer conditions in the Arctic for the months in question. These will be South West winds (flowing toward the North East)”

    (2 previous from: )


    –As beetles and other diseases move north aided by GW, the number of sick trees increases rapidly. The levels of methane these emit can be high enough to ignite:


    From Neven Arctic Ice Blog

    Wayne Kernochan wrote regarding the saturation of the atmosphere by methane:
    The saturation point applies to whether there’s enough O and H around in the atmosphere around the methane so that methane can be split apart that way. At any rate, that’s my best guess as to why scientists say that if methane reaches a big enough level in the atmosphere, its average time aloft starts going up — and I think what I read did use the phrase saturation point.
    The main pathway for the destruction of methane is by the hydroxyl radical. Eli goes into it a bit here:
    Passing Gas
    Eli Rabett, Thursday, 2010-02-04
    However, at a somewhat more technical level, there was a paper a while back that suggested that during the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum methane may have had an oversized effect due to it largely depleting hydroxyl radical in the atmosphere. Specifically, increasing levels of methane from 1X to 200X industrial levels increases the half-life of methane from 8.4 years to 42.5.
    Please see table 1 on page 4-4 of:
    Schmidt, G.A., and D.T. Shindell, 2003: Atmospheric composition, radiative forcing, and climate change as a consequence of a massive methane release from gas hydrates. Paleoceanography, 18, no. 1, 1004, doi:10.1029/2002PA000757.
    There is a link to the open access pdf on the other side.
    In any case, the hydroxyl radical is highly reactive, and it has sometimes been referred to as “scrubbing” the atmosphere of various pollutants. One of the products of this scrubbing includes reflective sulfate aerosols, thus increasing the amount of methane in the atmosphere can decrease the “masking” of warming by greenhouse gases, resulting in more global warming.
    For something nontechnical along these lines, please see the press release:
    Interactions with Aerosols Boost Warming Potential of Some Gases (2009-10-29)
    The technical article it refers to is:
    Shindell, D.T., G. Faluvegi, D.M. Koch, G.A. Schmidt, N. Unger, and S.E. Bauer, 2009: Improved attribution of climate forcing to emissions. Science, 326, 716-718, doi:10.1126/science.1174760.
    Posted by: Timothy Chase | August 12, 2012 at 20:39

    Human responses:
    –geo—engineering attempts gone bad
    –meat based diets
    –more and more people moving to avoid consequences of GW–refugees
    –aerosol—see below
    –rush to ever dirtier sources with lower EROEI—tar sands, low grade coal, deepwater oil…
    –Rivers dry, barges can’t haul material—more sent by more ff intensive truck and rail

    Non-feedback (?)
    –Trees damaged by ground level ozone do a worse job of sequestering CO2


  402. Patrick 027:

    cont. from
    tentative outline (note a part B has been added since then)
    non-internet sources
    beginning of PART A

    PART A cont.

    CORRECTION: CONIC SECTIONS in (x,y) coordinates, centered at (0,0)

    An ellipse with semiaxes a and b, centered at the origin, is given by the equation

    x^2/a^2 + y^2/b^2 = 1 (A.12)

    This ellipse can be graphed parametrically as:

    x = a*cos(φ) , y = b*sin(φ) (A.13)

    where φ is the angle corresponding to the point on the circle that the ellipse could form if stretched or compressed,

    This works because, substituting (A.13) into (A.12), we get

    cos^2(φ) + sin^2(φ) = 1 (A.14)


    If b is an imaginary number, then b^2 is negative, and (A.12) describes a hyperbola

    The same hyperbola can be described with a real b as:

    x^2/a^2 – y^2/b^2 = 1 (A.15)

    This hyperbola can be graphed parametrically, using a hyperbolic sine and cosine, as:

    x = a*cosh(φ) , y = b*sinh(φ) (A.16)

    this works because

    cosh^2(φ) – sinh^2(φ) = 1 (A.17)

    There isn’t a simple meaning for φ in this case, that I know of, unless (A.18) (I’ll refer back to that later).




    i is used as an index, along with j and k; these can be used in subscripts (implied; I don’t want to try to format this so much that I can’t follow what I’m reading until I see the preview)

    except if I need it to refer to i = √(-1).

    It should be clear from the context which usage of i is intended.

    CM = center of mass, also barycenter (same thing).

    time derivatives in inertial and non-inertial reference frames:

    dA/dt = time derivative (velocity if that applies) of r in an inertial frame/coordinate system

    δA/δt = time derivative in a rotating and/or otherwise accelerating frame/coordinate system (following the format used in (1))

    PS The key to understanding exponential, trigonometric, and hyperbolic functions (helpful in determining some other relationships, including some already stated; also helpful to become a ‘Zen master’ of math :) – I think you need calculus in order to prove (A.19))

    e^n = exp(n) (definition of exp())

    exp(i*φ) = cos(φ) + i*sin(φ) (A.19)


    2*cos(φ) = exp(i*φ) + exp(-i*φ) , 2*i*sin(φ) = exp(i*φ) – exp(-i*φ) (A.20)


    2*cosh(φ) = exp(φ) + exp(-φ) , 2*sinh(φ) = exp(φ) – exp(-φ) (A.21)


    sin is symmetric about π/2, which is the average of θ and π – θ; therefore

    sin(π – θ) = sin(θ) (A.22a)


    sin[2*(π/2 – θ)] = sin(2*θ) (A.22b)

    r typically refers to a position vector; its first and second derivatives with respect to time and velocity and acceleration.
    r can refer to a position of one object relative to another if so specified.

    Polar coordinates (A.23)

    φ is an angle from the x axis, going counterclockwise about the origin

    r is determined from r and φ ; x = r*cos(φ) , y = r*sin(φ) ;

    r = √(x^2 + y^2) , tan(φ) = y/x , etc.

    Spherical coordinates (PS I’m specifying the notation I’ll typically use, so this is a little important) (A.24):

    Let ø be latitude
    Let θ be colatitude; ø = π/2 – θ , cos(θ) = sin(ø) , sin(θ) = cos(ø)
    Let λ be longitude

    r = [x,y,z] = r*[ sin(θ)*cos(λ) , sin(θ)*sin(λ) , cos(θ) ]

    A Rotation, counterclockwise about the x axis (going from y to z), by an angle β, to a different coordinate system x’,y’,z’ associated with θ’, λ’ (I’m not going through all three rotations in that website, just the one about the line of nodes, which is the x axis in this case.

    sin(θ)*cos(λ) = x = x’ = sin(θ’)*cos(λ’) (A.25a)

    sin(θ)*sin(λ) = y = y’*cos(β) – z’*sin(β) = etc. (A.25.b)

    .. … cos(θ) = z = y’*sin(β) + z’*cos(β)

    = sin(θ’)*sin(λ’)*sin(β) + cos(θ’)*cos(β) (A.25c)

    THAT’S IT FOR PART A!!!! (PS in case it wasn’t clear, this is just for reference.)

  403. Ron R.:

    One last point re: Chris Korda # 360.

    Hunting and gathering as practiced by our ancestors is no longer an option, not on a wholesale national or global scale, the flora and especially the fauna would be decimated in no time.

    Ethically, we’re stuck with farming until (and if) we can solve these issues and reduce our numbers. If civilization collapses the environment would be put under severe strain likely leading to rapid mass extinction. IOW, societal crash would be an ELE, so pray it doesn’t before we can fix things.

  404. Ron R.:

    Patrick 027 #397:

    Thanks. Tornado chasing, it’s on my “to do” list.

  405. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 18 Aug 2012 @ 2:54 PM:

    The reason that prices go down on any product that is expanding rapidly is due to increased demand which results in growth of the industry which, in turn, results in improved prices from economy of scale and increased competition. What Dbostrom told you was that if everybody took your advice about buying photovoltaic (PV) Solar the price would never go down.

    What you should be doing is encouraging as many people as you can to buy PV in order to make the boot strap work faster. This is especially attractive for PV because small scale local installations can be quite attractive, they don’t require any fancy new grid infrastructure, and PV panels keep working without very much attention from 25 to 50 years (no need to replace them when new ones get cheaper).

    For example, all of the K through 12 schools in my county are getting large PV arrays. This is perfect because they can make credits on the summer sun when nobody is present but many local business and households are running air conditioners, and then spend their credits with PG&E in the dead of winter. Steve

  406. dbostrom:

    Jim, what struck me was your remark:

    Wind? Well, half the price in 8 years means that if we banked the money today and bought in 8 years, we could build more than twice as much megawattage…

    Meanwhile the SA article’s prognostications were based on price virtues realized down the road thanks to a continuously growing market, with attendant benefits of revenue available for manufacturing and research investments.

    How is the market going to produce reductions in price based on increasing production scale and money available for product improvement if there’s no market for 8 years?

    Perhaps I simply misunderstand the thrust of your argument.

  407. Jim Larsen:

    397 Patrick said, “part of the reason prices will come down is the the ongoing and increasing rate of production and installation.”

    We’ll get economy of scale benefits regardless of the path we take. We couldn’t avoid them other than by taking perhaps two hundred years to convert. I think the opposite is the bigger risk. The whole supply chain has to be orchestrated or bottlenecks spike prices. Try to do it too quickly and Major Fails occur. Wind increased in cost over the last decade. Lots of A123’s batteries became trash. The Chinese solar industry is feeling a bit like Solyndra lately.

    The learning curve is a risk but also an opportunity. Had they only produced a few thousand Volts or Leafs and then concentrated on the next iteration, might the learning curve have been helped? The resulting pseudo-prototypes would need higher subsidies apiece, but the total subsidy would be lower, and the project wouldn’t have had to be done with such expert finish. A science experiment vehicle would have been just fine. Even the extreme of one color, no options, and most everything except the drivetrain scavenged from another car would have served the purpose. And lease them as taxis. Data needs high-mileage cars ASAP.

    And there isn’t a rational reason for not putting at least a 3HP generator in an electric car. Hmm, the Yamaha weighs 44 lbs. Add 18 lbs for 3 gallons of fuel and, well, you carry a spare tire, don’t you? Plus, 2000 watts of free heat, and any battery capacity included solely for “just in case” can be deleted. Finally, allowing a car to choose its fuel in real time allows you to minimize carbon. Sunny and windy? The car chooses electrons. Coal-powered day? It drinks diesel. Ethics was appropriate in the vegan discussion, but driving a pure electric car has no moral benefit.

    The reason I originally said a 20HP Diesel is that’s close to the long-term average a vehicle uses on a trip. This configuration’s shortcomings show up during long trips with few stops while at high speeds (one reason for the speeding-prevention feature) or pulling a trailer. Fortunately, you can just bump it to 50HP.

    Patrick, I haven’t read anything about relative losses due to the Pacific NW storms, nor any analysis of overall historical or projected loss rates, but surely they’re well under 20%. I dunno, 5-10%? However, included in such an analysis should also be the cost represented by the risk of damage and blackout, and not just physical. Even as it was, wind took a huge reputational hit. A 5% loss can be quite expensive, eh?

  408. Edward Greisch:

    Jim Larsen: BATTERIES ARE NOT INCLUDED in renewable systems.
    See: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner –
    “GVEA s Fairbanks battery bank keeps lights on”


    Fairbanks, AK spent $35 million in 2003 for a battery backup that can keep the power on in Fairbanks for 7 or 15 minutes, depending on how bad the blackout is. That is enough time to start up their diesel backup. Diesel fuel is fossil fuel.

    To go with renewables only, you need a whole week’s worth of battery power for the whole world. How much does that cost? Hint: You run out of the things you need to make batteries very quickly. BraveNewClimate addressed that question for 2 kinds of batteries.

  409. Jim Larsen:

    405 Steve Fish said, “The reason that prices go down on any product that is expanding rapidly is due to increased demand which results in growth of the industry which, in turn, results in improved prices from economy of scale and increased competition. What Dbostrom told you was that if everybody took your advice about buying photovoltaic (PV) Solar the price would never go down.”

    “If everybody took your advice…” is usually an empty argument. Can you give a single example where the threat had any possibility of manifesting? And even if everybody did take my advice, they would subsidize R&D way more than today and would purchase all of the solar panels and wind turbines needed to ensure the learning curve is optimized, and furthermore, would prioritize the learning curve above current production issues. Further purchases, and only further purchases, would be largely curtailed until they made carbon and financial sense. Now, I could see exploring how much production is enough to optimize the learning curve in such a plan, but to equate “All that is needed” with “zero”, well, yes, I suppose I didn’t convey myself clearly.

    Wind cost has risen over the past decade. “prices go down on any product that is expanding rapidly” is demonstrably non-universal, and the example is specific to the situation, and even during a period of significant technological advance.

  410. dbostrom:


    And there isn’t a rational reason for not putting at least a 3HP generator in an electric car.

    Jim, have you noticed the auto industry trend, from real spare tyre/wheels to “mini” spares, then to aerosol cans of “fixa-flat?” That wasn’t about cost savings, it was about increasing fleet MPG. The same mass times velocity constraints apply to electric vehicles; manufacturers are not going to shave miles off range of pure electric vehicles in order to tote around a 60lb energy reserve mechanism that goes largely unused. Useless weight penalties work better as bling, in the real world as it’s shaped for consumers by automotive marketing engines.

    Anyway– as you point out– consumers can already buy the type of vehicle you’re speaking of. It’s called the Chevrolet “Volt.” GM engineers found a 40hp IC engine was necessary in order for the idea to work, that much more gasoline was also required. A big weight penalty, but it makes the car work for an important market segment, a different market than what pure electric vehicles serve.

    Example: if I lived in Issaquah, WA and commuted to Seattle, a Volt would be great. I don’t live in Issaquah; I live in Seattle. There’s no requirement for my daily hauling around several hundred pounds of IC engine components.

  411. Edward Greisch:

    Jim Larsen: The deal was: You don’t mention wind and solar energy and I don’t mention the word that starts with “nu.”

    I would be very happy for your home town to disconnect itself from the grid and try to get along with wind and solar power only. Send us a power report a year later on your experiences, expenses, disasters, blackouts, how much you charge for electricity now, and so forth. The rules are: no connection to outside electricity power grids. No power from the fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, or petroleum in any form may be used to power your local electric grid. Tar sands are included in fossil fuels. Fossil fuel may be used for trucks and equipment. Burning wood and the like is off limits.
    You may use any kind of battery or flywheel for electricity storage. But you have to tell us the price.

  412. Unsettled Scientist:

    Patrick 027 @399 > “PS re 392 Unsettled Scientist (tangentially) and myself earlier – artists and scientists, etc. – attention to detail could be a commonality.”

    Yes, attention to detail is definitely a common trait that brings success in all fields of work. Understanding Div, Grad, Curl and all that is another matter. A familiarity with the language of science is something many lack, regardless their success and ability to focus on important details in their own work.

    PS – sorry if this dupes, got recaptcha wrong

  413. SecularAnimist:

    My recollection is that “debates” about various non-fossil fuel technologies for generating electricity were declared off-topic by the moderators around the time when one particular commenter began accusing anyone who advocated wind or solar technology — including myself, more than once — of being a PAID propagandist for the coal industry. It wasn’t necessarily the topic itself that was regarded as inappropriate — but rather the offensive, belligerent, derogatory behavior of that sort, which inevitably seemed to accompany it.

    Edward Greisch: your entire comment #411 is a strawman fallacy. Which has been pointed out to you, pretty much every time you recite it.

  414. SecularAnimist:

    Wow, there is sure a lot of nonsense about wind and solar above.

    I’m not going to try to rebut it point by point since I don’t have all day, and it seems pointless to take the time to post links to accurate information that is then, judging by the ensuing comments, assiduously ignored.

    I’ll just say again, that I see a lot of ill-informed assumptions, breezy assertions that are factually incorrect, back-of-the-envelope guesswork “calculations” — and perhaps most importantly, what seems like a grim determination to avoid actually looking at what is actually happening in the real world with the real wind and solar industries today.

    For example:

    Jim Larsen wrote: “Wind cost has risen over the past decade.”

    That’s just plain wrong:


  415. Susan Anderson:

    Simon Abington, I should not waste time responding to your nonsense, but:

    The only thing stupider than somebody endlessly spending time with solitaire or the like is the one on the sidelines kibitzing, like you. Suggest you do a bit of research yourself, and don’t ignore the majority view or the fascinating tentacles.

    Neven appears to have a short way with distractionalists, so you might learn something about how good amateur science conversations can get there.

  416. Radge Havers:

    Erm, the whole (visual) art/science thing,  perhaps the simplest approach here is from the point of view of aims. Exclude for example architects and certified medical illustrators, and look at your basic college level studio arts program; then in simple terms you’re talking about either learning cool ways to present products for clients or learning what amounts to self-expression — often the more eccentric the better. This is pretty much what scientists are trained NOT to do.

    Look by and large, people don’t major in the visual arts because they love classification schemes and just can’t get enough of numbers and logic.

  417. Edward Greisch:

    414 SecularAnimist: The cleantechnica article does not mention the cost of batteries or the limited range of battery only vehicles or the conversion of electricity to liquid fuel.

    413 SecularAnimist: What strawman? If you are so sure renewables are the answer, prove it. You are using the grid as a battery. Using the grid as a battery doesn’t work in a 100% renewable system unless you have a super-conductor that works in all climates. You need a worldwide grid. Are you going to cool your transmission line with liquid nitrogen as it crosses oceans?

  418. Patrick 027:

    Re 417 E.G. – some possible answers to your questions (the last time ‘we all’ got into this, it was a list like this that I kept meaning to compile but just never go around to it). – I want to highlight specifically this – some of the links there I chose to place in the list I gave; there are many others. But note also the “skeptical science” links (near the end) and the “Solar Grand Plan” (first 2).

    Should be no need for me to say more here; they’ll speak for themselves.

  419. Patrick 027:

    Me again (LCA, potential new tech, hybrid systems), in part adding to/re Hank Roberts (hybrid systems;, see also some info from Secular Animist. But I’m not going to comb through all such comments so that’s it. PS I went on a little about potential of future technology in PV; this shouldn’t take too much attentiaon away from the completely present or near present commercial technology.

  420. Patrick 027:

    Re 417 – well I will say this one more thing: weather anomalies tend not to be identical over sufficiently large areas. If you aggregate over larger spaces, I think there can be less variability. And there is some short-term weather predictability. And in some cases it tends to be windier when it is colder and darker; I don’t know offhand about the magnitude of this since you can have clouds without rain, but I’d guess there is some positive correlation between sunshine and dry weather. ‘nough said.

  421. Edward Greisch:

    413 SecularAnimist: The game is this: Eliminate fossil fuels from the production of electricity. My plan cuts fossil fuels for the production of electricity by at least 97%. Your plan cuts fossil fuels for the production of electricity by 30%. I win. You loose.

    We must keep the CO2 level below 350 ppm. We are already over 392 ppm CO2 only and over 450 ppm equivalent if you add in other greenhouse gasses. Cutting CO2 production by 30% of 40% = 12% doesn’t gain us anything. 97% of 40% = 38.8%. 38.8% at least pushes the CO2 production curve downward.

    Your plan is a plan to continue burning fossil fuels to make electricity. Did I say it OK this time?

  422. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comments by Edward Greisch — 19 Aug 2012 @ 2:08 AM and 19 Aug 2012 @ 2:49 PM:

    I think the straw man is setting up an illustrative problem that is completely impossible. Right now the strengths of solar and wind is that they can easily take on a big chunk of the peak power needs during the day and early evening so that many coal plants can idle like they do now at night, and eventually be shut down. As the potential problems of solar and wind, due to regional weather, begin to show, the load can be picked up by natural gas turbine plants that can be started and run at max very quickly, a strategy that is becoming more prevalent now where they are turned on to handle peak loads.

    This sort of development will provide incentive to start working on the smart grid, which is really needed for wind and will be needed no matter what overall strategy is adopted. Solar can be much more regional. Both solar and wind can be implemented right now one panel or turbine at a time, which also promotes an incremental approach, and each unit immediately reduces CO2 production, there is no other technology that can do that. Hopefully more strategies will become available as technology progresses. I am particularly interested in hot rock geothermal which has been successful in California. Steve

  423. Patrick 027:

    re my 420 (aside from complementary relationships among some different types of energy resources at the same location) – shorter version: when individuals use the grid as a battery, this doesn’t add up linearly over the whole grid. The battery power, and capacity, needed for the whole grid is less than would be needed by all the individuals on the grid because they are using and producing electricity at different times. (And CSP can come with storage.)

    re 422 Steve Fish – thanks, good points.

  424. Jim Larsen:

    I’ll close up and sign off on the subject, more or less:

    Wind cost depends on who’s calculating what, and folks publish wildly differing claims, so I chose wind turbine cost as my metric. Since Steve Fish was specifically discussing the cost of a product during increasing production, I think the choice is ideal:

    “After hitting a low of roughly $750/kW from 2000 to 2002, average wind turbine prices doubled through 2008, rising to an average of roughly $1,500/kW. Wind turbine prices have since declined substantially, with price quotes for transactions executed in 2010 and to date in 2011 ranging from $900-$1,400/kW depending on the manufacturer and turbine model.”


    410 dbostrom said, “in order to tote around a 60lb energy reserve mechanism that goes largely unused”

    Now that’s just silly. Those 60 pounds would be used constantly. Any time the temperature dips below 40-70F, depending on customer, that pure EV is paying kilowatts for its purity – or its owner is thrust back into the 19th century, when one bundled up for travel. I read a review of the Leaf. The guy turned on the heater and the range display went from 50 something to 30 something. He was crestfallen and felt both guilt for desiring comfort, and fear as he had to refigure whether he’d end up stranded. Just the emotional trauma in that is unacceptable. A great way to invite backlash! And every time coal dominates the local grid (or is the marginal producer, I suppose), the pure EV is a filthy vehicle.

    You’re accepting significant flaws, inefficiencies, and risks (all three!) which could be mitigated with 60+ pounds that would probably be at least partially offset by a reduction in battery weight – is it for the 60 pounds, or the concept? Remember, running out of charge is a symptom of efficient use of the battery pack. A Leaf that normally goes 11 miles is carrying around as dead weight 90% of its batteries most of the time. 10% utilization of the car’s most expensive component? Add an ICE and the utilization of the battery goes up because the battery size can be appropriate for usual use as opposed to occasional use. And in the spare tire analogy, you must provide the power to resolve the problem. So the 60 pounds must also be offset by a second battery and its systems.

    Yeah, the Volt is a cool concept car. BTW, its engine is 80HP, not 40. Are you saying 40 was needed but they bumped it up to 80? Well, “needed” is nebulous, of course, but that gels well with my personal estimate of 20, which was arrived at with the mindset of getting as low as practical. Slow the battery drain, recover during stops, and if you do run out, it’s a minor inconvenience as you’re just limited to maybe 45-50MPH.

    And variable-speed premium gas engines are incredibly inefficient compared to constant-output diesels. That decision increased cost and complexity and dropped MPG by what? 40%?

    They also missed out by not including at least some capacitoresque capability. It’s a feature which will probably be a part of the “final” solution, so including it in even a rudimentary way is productive. And, they blew bucks by making it sweet. It’s not like the first attempt is going to be the configuration you want to mass produce. Hmm, back to lots more R&D, much less production. How about Volt1 thru Volt4, with 1000 of each slapped into an existing design? Pretty efficient experiment and probably far more productive to the learning curve than the path we’re taking. In some ways, large scale production slows R&D. Just ask A123.

    An engineer judged by how much he advances the team’s knowledge provides a different product than the one judged on whether 50,000 customers’ cars died.

    And the proof is in the pudding. The Volt is rated 37MPG/94MPGe, but the MPGe figures are off by a factor of about 3 (they don’t count inefficiency in electrical production and transmission), so on either gas or electricity, 37 MPG is generous, which isn’t good even when compared to the ancient and inherently cheaper Prius. We spent too much and didn’t get enough information for the money. Got a spiffy Concept Car, though, which we can churn out at high prices…

    Ultimately, I think customers will choose their components based on their needs. A 10 mile battery with a 50HP ICE might suit someone who drives short distances but occasionally visits family in another state. Kind of like ordering a Value Meal…

    This all goes to prove that the peanut gallery always has an opinion. Thanks for the indulgence, mods.

  425. Jim Larsen:

    EdG, yeah, 413 is by Secular, but other than that? 413 just notes that civility and productive discourse are primary goals for the Mods, and that your comments about me were, well, as far as I can tell, based on LSD. And Secular’s the Decade Man. (It would be nice to have it all done and over, eh? And it’s the lowest risk solution.) More LSD?

  426. Jim Larsen:

    423 Patrick said, ” when individuals use the grid as a battery”

    Your comment is spot on for consumption on a smart grid, but individuals only use the grid as a battery for excess wind and solar, and those are left on 24/7, even when not producing. That individuals are involved isn’t too relevant, and many of the benefits of having lots of local nodes disappear, since they act mostly in tandem. When a place is sunny/windy, you have to use, store, or ship the excess to a place that is cloudy/calm.

    Pseudoquotes cobbled from graphs:

    A 765 kV Single Circuit costs $2.6 – 4.0 Million per mile.
    A 765 kV line can reliably transmit 2200-2400 MW for distances up to 300 miles … and has a reach of 550 miles… with a loss at 1000 MW of 0.6% per 100 miles


    Has a neat bit on AC VS DC transmission, too.

    Wiki says the US consumes about 3,000,000 MW on average (all energy, not electricity), and there’s going to be days when a lot of that has to be stored, transferred, or curtailed. “They” say it can be done. I believe them, but it’s not an add-on item. And since it won’t be getting much cheaper, let’s do it more firstly than afterwardsly.

  427. Patrick 027:

    Re Jim Larsen –

    @ 425 – you provide a good justification for the PHEV – summing it up, for some combination of battery and engine, many people could shift a significant fraction of transportation energy consumption to power plant from gasoline/other fuel, while saving on batteries (and you can use waste heat in the winter, etc.)

    Makes great sense to me.

    There are some parts of the world where waste heat would hardly ever be used, though. And some people might take public transportation for one kind of trip… and maybe some families have two cars, etc, so they might have an EV for … etc. (or maybe that would defeat the purpose of two cars in some cases…).

    I don’t understand the ‘constant output diesel’ – wouldn’t it be a problem to have an engine with only constant output (or would that charge up the battery when not using full power? Okay then. PS I’m not really a ‘car guy’ so I’m not going to know some things here.)

    (Of course, if you could get a bacterial fuel cell that you fill with (sugar? …) and the bacteria pump out electricity…)

    Sorry for a disorganized comment with so many loose ends.

    One selling point about the pure EV is it’s supposed to be low maintanence. Such low maintenance that, according to at least one/some people (this may have been discussed in “Who Killed the Electric Car” – I never actually got around to seeing that), auto companies were reluctant to do EV’s because it strained their business models. If the engine only runs some fraction of the time, is the additional maintenance proportional to that?

    but the MPGe figures – I’ve heard funny stuff about that too. If you’re going to compare electricity to fuel, put one in fuel equivalent (according to standard power plant and transmission/distribution) or the other in electrical equivalent (car engine, generator – but here’s the thing about that – what if the EROEI’s of the car engine fuel and power plant fuel are different. Isn’t gasoline somewhere down around 5?).

    About And every time coal dominates the local grid (or is the marginal producer, I suppose), the pure EV is a filthy vehicle

    Since aggregate emissions are ultimately the target, if some of the economic savings from using the EV (or the P part of a PHEV) were diverted to paying (or simply made up for) costs for adding more solar, etc, then overall it may be cleaner.

    Presently the U.S. spends ~ $1 Trillion on energy per year (see EIA for exact values; I’m going by memory right now). If some mix of wind cost $10/ average W (wind figures you cite are ~ $1/W and wind capacity factors tend to be somewhere around 0.3 (from memory) so that’s ~ $3.33/W; solar power… etc.), and needed replacing every 40 years, that’s $0.25/W, or $0.25 trillion per year for 1 TWe, which I think is a bit under the electrical equivalent of U.S. power consumption. There are some siginificant nits to pick in that back-of-the-envelope estimate (add transmission, CAES or other storage; some energy needs will still be for fuel form) – I think the big issue is probably that costs initially must be paid up front so there’s interest. The other large issue, I think, is this (looks like it) works out so well because we’re replacing petroleum (and natural gas) as well as coal. But I haven’t gone through the numbers in detail.

  428. Patrick 027:

    PS $1 Trillion vs $0.25 trillion – the capitalized T on the first was because I was thinking of metric prefixes at that point. Not trying to play mind games by making one of the trillions seem larger. :)

  429. Patrick 027:

    started “part B”, got delayed… it’s coming. (PS it should start going faster after that because I already have all the math for part 3 and a lot for part 3 done first (and it’s going to be easier to read because after part B it’s going to much more verbal, except spots here and there).

  430. Patrick 027:

    Re Jim Larsen @ 426 – I’m curious what you meant by “but individuals only use the grid as a battery for excess wind and solar, and those are left on 24/7, even when not producing.“? (PS when I refered to ‘individual’s’ of course I meant any power consumers and producers on the grid.)

  431. Edward Greisch:

    418 Patrick 027 “By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions”
    STICK TO THE REAL PROBLEM: We don’t have until 2050 to do that. See 421. We should have done it in the 1960s.

    If you don’t believe Bart Levenson, believe Aiguo Dai. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.81/full

    By 2050 it will be too late to do anything at all. Except die. Come out to the farm belt more often. See dead corn and dead cows.

    422 Steve Fish: “I think the straw man is setting up an illustrative problem that is completely impossible.” That is correct for renewables, and that is the point.
    An “incremental approach” is exactly what we no longer have time for.
    As “technology progresses”: We already have all the technology we need. We can quit burning fossil fuels to make electricity by the end of 2015.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC] has certified 4 reactors for factory production.
    “Design Certification Applications for New Reactors”


    “By issuing a design certification, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves a nuclear power plant design, independent of an application to construct or operate a plant. A design certification is valid for 15 years from the date of issuance, but can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.
    The links below provide information on the design certifications that the NRC has issued to date, as well as the applications that are currently under review.
    Issued Design Certifications
    The NRC staff has issued the following design certifications:
    Design Applicant
    Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) General Electric (GE)
    System 80+ Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 600 (AP600) Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) Westinghouse Electric Company”
    Which means: If you want a nuclear power plant in a short time, like under 3 years from signing to turn on, you can get it. The price should be ~ 1/4 of what you expect.

    Again: I do not own stock in any company. My only income is from my retirement from the federal government. I have nothing financial to gain. I am not working for anybody. But I have children.

  432. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Aug 2012 @ 12:46 AM:

    Just another too slow incremental approach.


  433. Jim Larsen:

    I was reading about Germany’s tremendous 20% year-on-year renewable increase, and wondering about the implications for the USA in an all-renewable world. We’re going to have seasonal and annual shortfalls or surpluses of a similar magnitude, meaning we’re going to be dumping energy (or curtailing production) in some seasons/years, while getting by on restricted supplies in others.

    Assuming getting by on less is unacceptable except in minor doses, the US will end up with an excess 600,000 MW in some not-uncommon years. What to do with it? Well, is there a really inefficient but otherwise really cheap way to scrub carbon from the atmosphere?

  434. SecularAnimist:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “Your plan is a plan to continue burning fossil fuels to make electricity.”

    And why exactly would that be? Are you saying that nuclear power is incapable of generating electricity at night when there is no wind? That only fossil fuels can do that?

    With all due respect, it is belligerent nonsense like that — accusing anyone who advocates maximizing solar and wind generation of “planning” to continue burning fossil fuels — that got this whole subject banned. I guess you want to keep it that way.

  435. Kevin McKinney:

    Those readers here who have been kind enough to take an interest in my articles over the last few years might want to dip into yet another one, a personal (but not science-free) comment on the sea-ice crash:


  436. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, ICEs have become incredibly complex in their physics. Burn timing (I’ve read of fuel injectors that squirt three times), gas transfer… well, you can make some things adapt to different speeds/power, like variable valves, but you’re adding complexity and imperfection, and you can’t morph everything. You’ll still end up with a sweet spot. By not fighting physics, the engine becomes cleaner, more reliable, cheaper, and more efficient. An alternative would be to tune the engine for constant output but allow higher output for occasional use.

    But, as you noted, cars don’t use constant power. Here’s how it works: The ICE’s constant power floats across the battery to the motor, as needed, and into the battery as not. Any shortfall is made up by the battery. Adding capacitance keeps you from spiking the battery but allows you to spike the motor for braking and acceleration. The ICE can’t be sized larger than the battery’s maximum charge rate, but otherwise, it’s mix and match.

    You mentioned reliability. Much of the stuff that tends to break on a car, such as the starter, is eliminated, and you’re treating the engine like a baby – no pedal, let alone pedal-stomping, warm-up is done optimally (electrons are available), etc. Plus, diesels are simple and reliable to begin with. Add it all together and repairs should be ~zero for a 25 year car-life. Maybe an oxygen sensor or something. A small part on a small engine. A battery, on the other hand, would start worrying me when the warranty expired. The occasional-use Prius NiMH has held up superbly over a decade, but a constant-use Lithium? Dunno.

    Yeah, your suspicions were correct. When I read “individuals”, I mistakenly thought “residential”. Commercial renewable producers do make decisions, mostly related to technical limits and energy storage, and can be forced to curtail.

  437. Patrick 027:

    Re Jim Larsen 436 – thanks for the car information.

    On the last part – I think I’m still missing something, because it sounds like you’re saying that wind and solar are left ‘on’ when they needn’t be or shouldn’t be.

    Of course, setting CSP aside, solar PV and wind (and wave, run-of-river type hydro, etc.) should always be left on when possible, or else we’re just wasting opportunity to get whatever energy they may be producing. It would be the CSP, hydro, (bio/other)fuel, and CAES, etc, that should be turned off (to build up or keep stored energy) sometimes.

    As far as usage goes – I agree with the idea of using energy surpluses for C sequestration – either grinding up dunite/etc, taking CO2 out of the air for in situ carbonate production or producing biochar, etc, or something like this.

    Al production may also be an area to help match demand and supply. I think H2O production could be added to that – I would imagine better than average solar resource would tend to correspond to lower than average hydroelectric resource as well as greater need to desalinate and pump and transport H2O (I’m picturing aquaducts being built, running from the Gulf Coast (cat-5 proof facilities) perhaps into Canada along the higher elevation of the Great Plains – some put into drying rivers thus going to whoever and whatever is served by them, and maybe some branches along the divides between the rivers. Then maybe a northern branch goes around the Great Lakes area and connects to another supply coming from the St. Lawrence Seaway… and two branches down along either side of the Appalachians, one back to the Gulf and the other recieving supplies from the East Coast ??? maybe – watch out for those earthquakes, though (PS not to forget building holding ponds, cisterns, and taking advantage of wetlands to even out floud-drought variations). Better than an oil pipeline right now, IMO – although I did read once that maybe existing natural gas pipelines could carry solar-produced fuel out of the Southwest). … there ought to be a study done on to what extent solar resources increase in a drought. (Also, on the risks of soil salination (which I don’t know much about) – maybe the aquaduct should run along a ‘dry line’ – a boundary between where it is (will be) too dry for irrigation to be sustainable and where it is not (with lower elevation on the wet side).

    Another area for demand-supply matching is heating and cooling. Some buildings do this now (or did it recently) by making ice at night to keep cool in the day. With solar power it might sometimes be the other way around. It would be neat if certain household appliances could recieve signals from satellites, etc, telling them when clouds are going to cross over local PV installations, so they can turn on a little early ahead of regular cycle time…

  438. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, sorry to mislead, your initial impression is correct. Solar and wind are left on because there’s no harm in doing so.

    Load levelling will become so much more powerful with batteries in every garage. Tonight’s windy? Cars hit home drained. Calm? They arrive fully charged and then feed the grid. The next morning, drivers start off with the minimum charge, if any. Unfortunately, pure EVs can’t handle the “calm night” half of the equation. No solar, no wind, and you want to charge a city’s worth of cars? The grid works best with hybrid cars.

  439. Patrick 027:

    not to argue against PHEV’s – plug in could presumably also occur during the day at the office/etc. When forecasts are for calm or windy conditions plans might be made about when to charge or discharge. I have wondered how that would work out if you needed your car when you didn’t plan on it, though. But I haven’t actually read through everything in my own links yet.

  440. David B. Benson:

    Edward Greisch @431 — Even a cfombined cycle gas turbine requires 4 years from start to finish. For large nuclear power plants one had better plan on about 56+ months.

  441. Edward Greisch:

    440 David B. Benson: hyperionpowergeneration.com is now Gen4 Energy. They claim to be able to install a npp in a total of 2 weeks. They plan a production run of 4000 units.

    From: Jim Jones at hyperionpowergeneration.com

    Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 2:27 PM
    Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

    Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

    $60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
    $2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
    $480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)


    $60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
    $3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
    $600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)


  442. Edward Greisch:

    436 Jim Larsen: Cars are designed to meet a specific reliability standard. The Society of Automotive Engineers [SAE] sets the standards. Cars are in SAE Class 1. Cars don’t get better every year. I wrote a book about it once.

    Look what happened to Dodge pickup. They had a Diesel that would go 400,000 [four hundred thousand] miles. So Mercedes bought Chrysler and gave the customers a choice of the same engine with bigger injectors. Of course the customers were so stupid that they fell for it. Now that engine will only go 100,000 miles. Don’t get uppity in the auto business.

    Some big truck [SAE class 8] engines have a one half million mile warranty. I know of one that went 1.7 Million miles, and counting, without an overhaul.

  443. Edward Greisch:

    434 SecularAnimist: SecularAnimist’s plan is a plan to continue burning fossil fuels to make electricity. How you could possibly think that “nuclear power is incapable of generating electricity at night when there is no wind” is beyond me. Obviously, it is wind and solar that don’t work on calm nights.

    I suspect that you are trying to get me upset. You failed. I found your comment humorous.

    WHO is being belligerent? I would say the person who is departing from reality. Indeed, anyone who advocates maximizing solar and wind generation is actually planning to continue burning fossil fuels. Renewables ALWAYS need “backup” power from fossil fuels or some kind of energy storage. The “backup” fossil fuel power winds up taking at least 60% of the load. If the “backup” fossil fuel power happens to be coal, you may as well use coal 100% of the time because it takes so long to turn on a coal fire. The coal fired turbine has to be kept spinning. That is called spinning reserve.
    Energy storage is possible in the small, but as Fairbanks found out, 7 minutes of battery costs $34 Million. You need a whole week of battery power. That would cost Fairbanks $48,960 Million, about $49 Billion. If you try to do it for the whole USA, you run out of materials or geography or whatever very quickly.

    Should energy be banned on RealClimate? Sure. Then I wouldn’t have to explain how absurd it is to expect Fairbanks to spend $49 Billion on a battery. And I wouldn’t have to explain how absurd it is to interchange wind with nuclear. Everybody should know that it is wind that is sometimes calm, and that clear sky is blue, etc..

  444. David B. Benson:

    Edward Greisch @441 — Realistically one will need 2+ years for ppp (planning, permitting and site preparation) before the so-called nuclear battery is trucked in and hooked up.

  445. flxible:

    Edward @ 441 – In the 3.5 years since you received this costing information, how many of those 4000 planned units have been built and sold? How long before those 4000 units are in action and how many coal fired plants will be replaced thereby? I note that Gen4 now sees one of it’s primary markets as oil production sites, such as the tar sands and remote arctic fields, won’t that make petro extraction more attractive and lucrative? Will that allow oil and gas to displace coal? Additionally, they appear to be focusing on other “off grid” applications, particularly military, how does that help “baseload grid power”?

    Wind and solar are being deployed currently and continuously – considering the Hyperion/Gen4 deployment in the past half decade, it’s insisting on nukes as salvation that’s continuing to burn fossil fuels.
    CAPTCHA: icthein Hydroxy-

  446. Hank Roberts:

    … the apologists and deniers are trying to blind us to the massive problem

    Remember the problem has many faces. That’s from a story about corporate fraud: “… A plutocracy that almost destroyed our economy cannot admit its sins, cannot own up to its own grievous failures.”

    So, sometimes talking about energy, or money, or climate, are entangled.

  447. Doug Bostrom:

    Jim: This all goes to prove that the peanut gallery always has an opinion. Thanks for the indulgence, mods.

    Yeah, the two of us, versus GM & Toyota engineers. Easy to spot the difference: GM and Toyota manufacture and sell cars, we don’t. :-)

  448. Jim Larsen:

    In an interesting juxtaposition to the Keystone pipeline, “they” are trying to build a DC link from Quebec to bring renewable (hydro) power to NYC. No public money, the line is buried under rivers and lakes, and over $100 million is going to spruce up the areas sorta affected, with control partially in environmental groups’ hands. NYC wouldn’t be obligated to buy any electricity, they’d just have the choice to do so if the price was right.

    Sounds great! Like Keystone, more energy from a trusted ally. More US jobs for construction. All of the benefits and none of the risks and harm.

    But it’s not oil, so instead of displacing the bad guys’ oil, it’s displacing the good guys’ electrons.


    439 Patrick, car owners will be faced with constant choices. When to rent capacity to the grid, when to buy charge, and when to sell charge. Only going 11 miles in your Leaf tomorrow, and only went 11 today? The price is predicted to be sweet, so play The Mile is Right and sell 60 or 70 miles. Guessing wrong isn’t critical with a hybrid (and would probably be handled without much user input) but the pure EV doesn’t have any flexibility. If you said you weren’t going to use your car tomorrow, you won’t use it beyond what happens to be onboard plus what a quick charge can provide once you change your mind, and changing your mind will probably carry a fee.

    And the seasonal swings in electrical price are going to be monumental. An unlikely threat to a small fraction of our oil supply can send prices up significantly. What if we knew our entire energy supply was going to be off by 20% next month? And just physically consuming a “good harvest” will be daunting. A windy and sunny May. Little AC or heat used, lots of solar and wind. What’s the wholesale price for electricity? A frigid, overcast, calm January. Lots of houses to keep warm and cars’ MPGe plummets as heaters and defrosters chew electrons. Now what’s the wholesale price?

    442 Edward said, “Cars don’t get better every year. I wrote a book about it once.”

    “Once” you were right. Cars were made by people, and each new model was a start-over in the QA regime. Many people avoided new models for good reason. Then the Japanese came in and started targeting their new models to start at the quality level their last model had achieved. And then robots took over. Nowadays, your claim is ludicrous.

    ” In the United Kingdom, for example, the average cost of maintaining a car declined by 13 percent between 1997 and 2009 [source: Savage].”


  449. Jim Larsen:

    “Should energy be banned on RealClimate? Sure. Then I wouldn’t have to explain how absurd it is to expect Fairbanks to spend $49 Billion on a battery.”

    Interesting. You see some folks chatting and having a good time. You know of a special case where you think their plan will not be economically reasonable. So you are “required” to point out the special case repeatedly. Friction builds and it is obvious even to yourself that your posts, and your posts alone are threatening to cause a shutdown for everyone. Your conclusion doesn’t switch to disengage and leave them be, but to insist that you have no choice but to again pound that special case.

    So, since you never learned the lesson that it is at least as important to be socially right as to be technically right:

    Fairbanks pipes in biodiesel. There. Solved the Fairbanks Problem.

    And it’s kinda like “ice free”. If there’s just remnants in sheltered bays, it’s close enough. Similarly, if we cut 95% of fossils, wouldn’t you call the plan a functional success?

  450. Edward Greisch:

    444 David B. Benson & 445 flxible: Site preparation is 1 of the 2 weeks. Planning & permitting are social problems, not engineering problems. NRC Design Certification is a social problem, not an engineering problem.

    The fact remains that nuclear power can be installed as fast as the nation wants it to happen. Wind and solar have not yet shut down a single fossil fueled power plant, but there are 104 fossil fueled power plants that were never built because of the 104 nuclear power plants in operation in this country. The 104 nuclear power plants are not burning fossil fuels.

    It’s insisting on wind and solar as salvation that’s continuing to burn fossil fuels. We can shut down the remaining fossil fueled power plants any time there is enough will to replace them with nuclear.

  451. Edward Greisch:

    448 Jim Larsen: Nothing has changed in the management of the automobile industry. If you make cars that last too long, the rest of the industry will try to change that. Why? Because they make more money if you are forced to buy a new one as often as possible. How old do you think I am? Over 100?

    448 Jim Larsen: Fairbanks is not a special case. Feasibility is part of doing engineering. If it isn’t feasible, there is no sense dreaming or writing about doing it. Chatting and having a good time is not the purpose of RC. The purpose is deadly serious: ending GW before it ends us. Chatting and having a good time could be “misappropriation of funds.”


    Solar power has dropouts in mid-day in Arizona!

    “Reliables” are not renewables. Comment by Cyril R.: We would need 5 Billion tons of lead to make a lead-acid battery for the US if we used only renewables. “A USGS report from 2011 reports 80 million tons (Mt) of lead in known reserves worldwide.” The whole world has only 1.6% of the lead required to make the US battery. “At today’s price for lead, $2.50/kg, the national battery would cost $13 trillion in lead alone ….”


    So are you going to fill up the Great Basin with water to a mile above sea level? Your energy storage needs are absurd with renewables. Look up “feasible.” You can’t do it with the batteries in future electric cars either. But please do go ahead and find out how much lithium that would take, and what the world’s supply of lithium is.

  452. flxible:

    Edward, “feasible” is precisely what supplying a major portion of global energy with N is not – even in the US, maybe especially in the US. All of the resource constraints you see on use of renewables apply as well to N-power, particularly with respect to cooling water in the Arizona desert, not to mention the large areas of the US increasingly subject to drought as GW progresses. Instead of the amount of lead needed for a world sized battery, let us know how much water [frequently potable water] would be needed to cool a world sized reactor.

    Meanwhile your favored solution languishes and you continue to “misappropriate funds” insisting no progress can be made with any other approach, even conservation apparently. Again, how does Gen4’s off-grid wonder help?

  453. SecularAnimist:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “SecularAnimist’s plan is a plan to continue burning fossil fuels to make electricity. How you could possibly think that ‘nuclear power is incapable of generating electricity at night when there is no wind’ is beyond me. Obviously, it is wind and solar that don’t work on calm nights.”

    You argue that wind and solar require backup — e.g. on calm nights. You argue that this means that any “plan” to maximize the use of wind and solar requires us to “continue burning fossil fuels”. But if nuclear power can generate electricity on calm nights, why are fossil fuels required? Fossil fuels would only be required if nuclear power cannot provide backup generation on calm nights.

    Edward Greisch wrote: “Wind and solar have not yet shut down a single fossil fueled power plant, but there are 104 fossil fueled power plants that were never built because of the 104 nuclear power plants in operation in this country.”

    You are unfairly applying different standards to nuclear and renewables. For renewables, you demand that currently operating fossil fuel power plants must be “shut down” to count the renewables as reducing emissions, but for nuclear you only require that fossil fueled power plants “were never built” because nuclear made them unnecessary.

    But there are many fossil fueled power plants that have not been built during recent years, thanks to the 50 gigawatts of wind generation capacity that has been built in the USA to date. According to the American Wind Energy Association, that is equivalent to the generating power of 44 coal-fired power plants, or 11 nuclear power plants. According to the AWEA, those turbines “avoid emitting as much carbon dioxide as taking 14 million cars off the road”.

    Compared to wind, the US solar energy industry is just getting started, but an NREL analysis using “conservative assumptions” (including a 17 percent capacity factor for PV and 20 percent for solar thermal) calculated that solar energy generated nearly 5 GWh in 2011. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that 506 MW of new PV capacity came online in the USA in the first quarter of 2012, and projects that total PV installations for the year will exceed 3 GW. The 392 MW BrightSource Ivanpah concentrating solar thermal power plant now under construction will, according to BrightSource, generate enough electricity to serve more than 140,000 homes during peak demand hours, avoiding more than 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

    A recent NREL report found that “the U.S. has the technical potential to support over 190,000 GW of solar energy, including nearly 155,000 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity and 38,000 GW of concentrating solar power”.

    The reality is that the ongoing rapid deployment of wind turbines, and the skyrocketing growth of both solar photovoltaics and solar thermal power at all scales, from residential to utility-scale, is already eliminating the need for many fossil fuel power plants which will “never be built”, and is indeed contributing to the phaseout of the worst carbon polluters, coal fired power plants. And we have barely begun to exploit the vast potential of these energy sources.

  454. Hank Roberts:

    One thought, whenever we get fusion power (that 30-year horizon has receded as fast as we have moved toward it) — these superultradupercritical coal plant generator systems will be usable. They’re the only steam plants built to run as hot as a fusion plant could, we hope, run (built with metals that won’t corrode at those temperatures and pressures, which they’re having to develop).

    (Why? the fission piles are limited by how long they take to cool off, so they’re run cooler than even current coal burners).

  455. Doug Bostrom:

    Lindzen at it again in the WSJ, including such wise advice as:

    “Despite shrill claims of new record highs, when we look at record highs for temperature measurement stations that have existed long enough to have a meaningful history, there is no trend in the number of extreme high temperatures, neither regionally nor continentally.

    As the bumper sticker says, “silence will not protect you.”

  456. Ron R.:

    SecularAnimist — 19 Aug 2012 @ 10:52 AM:
    “Edward Greisch: your entire comment #411 is a strawman fallacy. Which has been pointed out to you, pretty much every time you recite it.”

    Jim Larsen — 21 Aug 2012 @ 3:31 AM:
    “So you are “required” to point out the special case repeatedly…. Your conclusion doesn’t switch to disengage and leave them be, but to insist that you have no choice but to again pound that special case.”

    See: http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=7538#comment-206947

    Also see: http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2004-04-16/206880/

  457. Patrick 027:

    Re Edward Greisch – maybe more later, but one quick point – why would we use Pb batteries for all storage? CSP, CAES, pumped hydro, etc.

  458. Doug Bostrom:

    Hank: ,,,these superultradupercritical coal plant generator systems will be usable. [w/ever-receding fusion]

    Good point. Akin to the borehole disposal method for isotope messes we’d rather never see again: made possible by drilling technology developed for petroleum.

  459. Patrick 027:

    Re me @ 457 Re Edward Greisch @ 451

    Okay, I see you suggested Pb because pumped hydro won’t work –

    The linked post describes one particular project and mentions without explanation that it is not well suited to complement unschedule and intermittent power supply – this comment says/suggests it has to do with maintaining pressure in the pipes. I had to skim over some things and didn’t go beyond that comment, but it seems to me this is a particular case (advantage – two existing reservoirs; disadvantage – long tunnels – how do these compare to typical pumped hydro? I don’t know – but if it’s a problem, I guess that pretty much rules out a Lake Ontario – Lake Erie system (which, being Great Lakes, have great areas so could store greater energy per unit water rise or fall, although the head is substantially less than 800 m). I guess Ideally you’d have a two stage hydroelectric dam with an intermediate reservoir that fills and empties as desired – or maybe that stress cycling would break the dam? Much I don’t know – but I do know there is such a thing as pumped hydro and it contributes something. Add to that simply varying the output of hydroelectric dams – such as the one at Niagara Falls (not the full Erie-Ontario head but you don’t need canals/tunnels. From EIA data, conventional hydroelectric net generation has generally been from a bit below to a little above 40 % of net summer generating capacity (2006: ~ 42 %, 2001: ~ 31 %, but that’s a bit of an outlier for recent years; it’s been closer to 40 % than 30 % in most recent years). So existing hydroelectric presumably can operate with such intermediate capacity factors while still being economical. To what extent this is due to seasonal and weather-related river flow variations, I’m not sure, but one or more of the links I posted earlier discuss the potential for hydroelectric to help balance supply and demand with wind and solar in the mix. It isn’t necessary to have one kind of storage/backup that can do everything – some may manage second-by-second, minute-by-minute fluctuations, to smooth it out so that others can handle the hourly variations, yet others the daily or weekly or seasonal variations. CAES, CSP, (pumped)hyrdo, but also, solar-produced fuels are a possibility, then there’s geothermal… And the grid helps even things out too (its less likely to be cloudy or clear all at once over larger scales). And it is possible to forecast wind and solar resources so it isn’t entirely unscheduled.

  460. SecularAnimist:

    Dr. Jeff Masters, writing about Tropical Depression 9, which is now expected to become Tropical Storm Isaac some time today, and likely will become Hurricane Isaac within a few days, says:

    “I blogged about the climatological chances of a hurricane causing an evacuation of Tampa during the convention in a post last week, putting the odds at 0.2%. The odds in the current situation are higher, probably near 2%. It would take a ‘perfect storm’ sort of conditions to all fall in place to bring TD 9 to the doorstep of Tampa as a hurricane during the convention, but that is one of the possibilities the models have been suggesting could happen.”

    I certainly don’t wish for a hurricane to clobber Tampa, but it would be interesting to see the discussions about whether a hurricane that caused a convention full of global warming deniers to be evacuated can, in fact, be attributed at least in part to global warming.

  461. Patrick 027:

    EIA: derived from tables 8.2c and 8.11c – specifically, the “Electric Power Sector by Plant Type” sections (divided net generation, 1000s kWh, by net summer capacity [kW] * 1000s of hrs per year (assuming 2000 was a leap year – I’ve heard that the century years are an exception but I think 2000 was an exception to that exception so…):

    summing (summer net capacity kW * 1000 hours) over 2001 to 2010, dividing sum of net kWh generated over those years,
    Average capacity factors 2001-2010:

    coal ………….: 0.7069
    petroleum ……..: 0.1485
    natural gas ……: 0.2077
    other gases ……: “#VALUE!” (I did this in Excel – PS some of these small contributors may not be exactly the same in each of the two tables, I suspect).
    Total Fossil Fuels: 0.4256

    NuclearElect.Power: 0.9010

    Hydro pumped storg: -0.0374 (since it’s storage you wouldn’t expect much net generation; existing capacity in 2010 is 22.4544 GW; total for electric power sector is 972.4 GW in 2010.)

    Convntn.Hydroelect: 0.3806
    biomass wood …..: 0.6141
    biomass waste ….: 0.4912
    geothermal …….: 0.7441
    solar/PV ………: 0.1608
    wind ………….: 0.2561
    Total Renewables .: 0.3753

    Other …………: 10.07 (I’ll have to look at the fine print to see why)

    (electric power sector): 0.4625

    For whatever it’s worth, accepting a 20 cm rise or fall in Lake Ontario in exchanging water with Lake Erie would involve an input or release of 3.69 E 15 J, which is 1.03 TW over 1 hour, or 42.7 GW over 1 day, or 6.10 GW over 1 week. No inclusion of conversion/viscous losses, the kinetic energy of the flow, etc.

    Niagara falls (which only has a fraction of the head between lakes Erie and Ontario) is an interesting case because only some of the flow (for obvious reasons) is sent through a hydroelectric plant. The dimished falls doesn’t clear debris as well as it did in its natural state. Not exactly at the top of our concerns here, but if the falls were ‘set to full power’ in times of more abundant power or low demand (maybe they are for all I know?), maybe that would help.


    Edward Greisch @ 451, first link, first paragraph (emphasis mine, although it might be somewhat unfair as they didn’t specify increasing nuclear energy in that part – the whole thing is 50 pages and I’ve got other stuff to do)

    It is commonly assumed that greenhouse gas and energy problems can be solved by switching from fossil fuel sources of energy to renewables. However little attention has been given to exploring the limits to renewable energy. The main problems are to do with the magnitude of the supply tasks that would be set and the difficulties that would be encountered integrating large amounts of intermittent renewable energy into supply systems. This paper argues that wind, photovoltaic, solar thermal and biomass sources, along with nuclear energy and geo-sequestration of carbon could not be combined to provide sufficient energy to sustain affluent societies while keeping greenhouse gas emissions below safe levels. The case is strongest with respect to liquid fuels and transport. Brief reference is made to the reasons why a “hydrogen economy” is not likely to be achieved. The conclusion is that consumer-capitalist society cannot be made sustainable and the solution to major global problems requires transition to The Simpler Way.

    I italicized a portion which I believe is simply incorrect (studies have been done, etc.). The rest, make of it what you will.


    and the second link @ 451:

    [WRT wind intermittency storage requirements etc.] “the results will not matter since we will have many different renewable energy sources acting together (as if there is some “harmony” in two essentially random signals).

    The variation as a fraction of the average will tend to get smaller as randomly varying components are added. They would have to vary in lockstep to maintain the same variation. It is known that wind and solar have a complementary tendency in at least some places. As with the grid spatially, multiple sources can help smooth things out.

    Reading the rest, the combination of wind and solar is addressed. The author identifies an optimum mix of wind and solar (which is mostly wind) that greatly reduces the capacity factor of the backup power; the backup capacity is still a large fraction of peak demand.

    It’s interesting that the author keeps refering to the seasonal cycle of the solar resource as the culprit. It’s not the occasional cloud that passes overhead at one site. Everyone knows about the seasonal cycle.

    The author chooses 6 sites (for solar power), 2 each in AZ, CA, and CO, to base this on. Having many more sites in the same region, I’d expect, would help the shortest term variability but maybe not the the 1-2? daily variability as synoptic-scale systems would tend to cover the area. But while the SW is identified as a great place for large centralized PV and CSP plants, we could have PV elsewhere, etc. I wonder how many sites the wind study was based on?

    I’d have to refresh my memory but some of the links I provided earlier addressed this sort of thing and seemed to be able to deal with it.

    Now I have some other things to do…

  462. David B. Benson:

    Edward Greisch @450 — Perhaps I know rather more about these power production issues. (1) Planning includes the civil works and power plan; engineering tasks both. Indeed the civil engineering, by law, requires a professional engineer. (2) Permitting requires the P.E. to work with the applicable state agency regarding state code for civil works. There are other aspects as well which involving an environmental sciencists or engineer. (3) The actual site preparation will certainly require at least several weeks assuming superior construction engineering planning and construction management (an engineering position).

    No place in the USA can this all be done in less than 2 years; might take longer than that in, say, CA and NY.

  463. Jim Larsen:

    Edward, OK, I’ll engage.

    Nuclear power is not just baseload power, but “sticky” baseload, in that taking it offline is difficult and expensive, so it has problems, but I find it a grand addition to a renewable-based system. I remember as a kid defacing graffiti that said “Hell no, we won’t glow!” by writing “Is nuclear power dangerous?” in front. But the subject is fraught with pitfalls. Sure, supplying the USA with nuclear power is a grand idea. Little risk. Great results. Not much chance for any downside beyond the cost, much of which could be blamed on the opposition for making it unnecessarily difficult. Nuclear “waste”? Naw, it’s nuclear “resources” just itching to be included in a nuclear battery.

    But Iran has the same rights as the USA. So does Yemen. You REALLY want nukes spread around amongst the masses?

    That said, thorium holds promise.

    The renewable system depends on storage, be it air pressure, big honking sodium batteries, everybody’s car, or the battery stripped from everybody’s last car, for leveling the load from day to day, with effectiveness up to a week. Given the ability to shuttle power 500+ miles, it can be made to work. But advocates MUST realize that outliers exist. In a fossil economy, outliers can be handled by a small adjustment, but in a renewable world, outliers affect everybody’s life tremendously.

    This will be evident in seasonal shifts. If a whole month is going to be short, there’s no storage medium that will help. Consumption *must* drop for that month. If a whole month is going to be flush, the choice is to find a use for or just flush the excess.

    The result will be an electric market that varies both on hourly and seasonal time frames, with swings at least large, and possibly gargantuan. A 1000% change in electric rates and back again will probably be a yawner. Companies will figure out low-capital high-energy systems that sit around half the time and burn through electrons willy nilly the other half. Patrick mentioned aluminum. When energy is essentially free, AL smelters will run 24/7, and a month later, when it’s $1(?) a Kwh, they’ll all shut down. Workers will live in a weird world. Double shifts one month, and “unpaid vacation” the next.

    So yes, I find nuclear useful. It provides a solid base and makes the job easier – but it adds risk. One of those pods gets stolen and stuff will hit the fan for sure. It would be “purer” to not include it in the mix, but we simply don’t know how much cheaper or more expensive it will be to include nuclear in the mix – and will never know unless we include nuclear. That dirty bomb of 2019? well, it didn’t happen since we didn’t build pods, so pod-believers can say pods would have been safe.

    451 Uh, I gave a link that suggested maintenance costs dropped 13% over ~a decade ending in a huge global slump. Since new cars are exempt from user maintenance cost, the unsold cars in 2008 and 2009 represent a shift of the car fleet from immune new cars to repair-prone old cars. Thus, the 13% is likely too low.

    The way this works is either you say, “Yes, I was wrong.” -OR- you provide something showing my cite is incomplete or flawed. So, either produce something showing cars have not gotten more reliable over the last decade (or pick your timeframe), or man-up and say the business has changed since you wrote your book. (My guess is you’re about 80. That would put you solidly in the demographic you represent.)

    451, Uh, Fairbanks is a special case. When I lived there there was NO local food. But special case or not, I solved the problem using biodiesel to feed the existing generators. Yet, you just whined that Fairbanks is what? typical?

    Again, the way this works is you either show how biodiesel can’t provide Fairbanks with electricity OR you admit the problem is solved. Whining about definitions for a solved issue is, well, s****d.

    Let’s let it rest here. We have TWO issues, and NO further issues will be accepted from you until those two are resolved (as per the communication thread).

    1. Can Fairbanks exist at reasonable cost by the use of biodiesel or a similar tech? (they’ve got tons of trees)

    2. Are cars getting more reliable?

    Address these two, and ONLY these two subjects. I will Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, as suggested, until you finish these two subjects.

  464. Patrick 027:

    Re my re http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/11/30/solar-wind-combined/


    assuming some combination of wind and solar capacity is used such that the average wind+solar power available equals average consumption;

    backup capacity is given as a fraction of peak demand (which looks like it may be around 7.5 or 8 GW on the graphs; it looks like average consumption may be around 5 GW – it’s hard to tell, though. (PS this is not for the whole U.S. – obviously. It would be interesting to see if that would make a difference. I thought the diurnal range of consumption would be larger.)

    the energy supplied by backup power is given as a fraction of production or total production – it’s not entirely clear if this is backup + available wind and solar or backup + utilized wind and solar (which can be different without storage) – I think it may be the first one. It would be possible to tease more out of this by comparing peak demand and average demand, figuring out what fraction of average demand would be supplied given the capacity factor, etc. – or maybe it’s specified in the comments?

    the energy storage required to use wind and solar energy for the backup power is given (assumes a conversion loss) – as a fraction of annual production (* is this equal to annual consumption in this case?, or that plus conversion losses?)

    Wind only:

    backup capacity: 88 % of peak demand
    backup generation 21 % of production (*)

    energy storage needed 9% of yearly production (*)(given 20% net loss (“round trip”))

    Solar capacity = 0.21 * wind capacity:

    backup capacity: 89 %
    backup capacity factor: 14 %
    backup generation: 19 % of total production (*)

    storage: 10 %

    Wind and solar, equal capacity:

    backup capacity: 91 % of peak demand
    backup capacity factor: 17 %
    backup generation: 24 % of total production (*)

    combined capacity factor 19 % (I think this is if there is no storage and some energy is simply not used.)

    storage: 13 %
    storage rate up to 2.5 * average power consumption.

    The “Solar Grand Plan” uses CAES for (some) long term (seasonal) storage (and maybe H – not sure of time scale offhand – it’s been awhile actually since I read it). CSP is good for hourly-daily storage. Other link(s) I gave suggest hydroelectric power can respond on an hourly basis to would-be supply-demand imbalances – but now I’m repeating myself…

    PS why be ‘ecumenical’ (as the author noted) with solar? It may be because of resource size. Wind is certainly among the least expensive options. Wind doesn’t actually take up much land at all, in the sense that you can have farms, etc (maybe not houses, though, unless it’s small-scale wind…) around the wind turbine towers, but you can’t pack the wind turbines too close together, obviously. And… (birds and bats, …) Meanwhile, CSP has at least short term storage; PV can go on roofs. If storage is planned (making fuels for winter (PS combine space heating furnace with TPV for home generating electric power in a CHP (or is it CPH?) plant) or PHEVs), solar power’s peaks and valleys can be dealt with. How will demand patterns look with growing water scarcity? To some extent, patterns of energy use are adapted to the supply as it is now – a business may use electricity at night to make ice for daytime cooling, for example. This type of adaptation could be reversed in a solar-dominated world.

    out of time.

  465. Patrick 027:

    Well now that I posted that, here’s a critical comment I found that looked interesting (haven’t even read through it though – seriously out of time now)…


  466. Jim Larsen:

    460 Secular said, “I certainly don’t wish for a hurricane to clobber Tampa, but it would be interesting to see the discussions about whether a hurricane that caused a convention full of global warming deniers to be evacuated can, in fact, be attributed at least in part to global warming.”

    Well, they are mostly(?) religious AGW deniers. That would make such a ‘cane God’s Political Announcement.

  467. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, you mentioned an expert who figures wind will be bigger than solar. I think it will change over time. Ultimately, solar has the best chance to become too cheap to meter.

    Wind is about materials science now. The computer simulations are good enough to make further improvements grand but not game changers – and they’re pretty guaranteed over the next decade anyway, but make carbon fibre cheap and wind goes nuclear.

    On the other hand, solar is about converting a product that first relied on a clean room product – silicone – and making it work with paint.

    It would be nice if there were a third renewable. Yeah, I know, hydro. But its jobs are baseload and capacitance, not random production.

  468. Speedy:

    News from the German department of I-told-you-so:

    The ‘energy turnaround’, advertised as replacing nuclear with renewables is in reality replacing clean and safe nuclear with dirty and dangerous fossil fuel, with a little bit of renewables for greenwashing. This time they are celebrating the opening of two new lignite (!) fired units at Neurath:




    The most disgusting part is that this plant is advertised as an enabler for renewable energy due to its ability to quickly respond to varying demand, while the Germans are destroying their by far biggest source of clean energy.

    The picture of the two new units at the Neurath power plant at the RWE site is a perfect illustration of Germany’s broken energy policy. A brand spanking new lignite plant, with some windmills in the background for greenwashing. To make matters worse, the hill the windmills are built on, Vollrather Höhe (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vollrather_H%C3%B6he), is a spoil tip from the nearby Garzweiler open pit lignite mine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garzweiler_open_pit_mine).

    I also recommend the video on this plant, but take your blood pressure medicine before you start watching it:


    Note that I’m not directly opposed to wind and solar, they certainly have niches were they are very useful, I just think that the idea of powering an industrial society with diffuse and unreliable power sources is as likely as me riding a unicorn to work every day.

  469. Edward Greisch:

    [edit: please revise as less of a rant and an attack and more of a cogent, supported argument–Jim]

  470. Daniel J. Andrews:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a take-down of Ridley’s latest article in Wired. I read it while waiting in the grocery store, didn’t notice the author of the piece, but did notice the strawmen. A few times he claimed “scientists said”, but then referenced newspaper articles, popular media, politicians, opinion editorials. There was also some nice revisionist history too around acid rain and the ozone hole, with some cherry-picked numbers added on top.

    Halfway through I actually flipped to the front cover to make sure I was indeed reading Wired, and hadn’t accidentally picked up something inane (Cosmopolitan, People, WSJ ;).

  471. Brian Dodge:

    “What fraction of available wind energy (for installed turbines) isn’t being used due to grid issues?”

    anhydrous ammonia fertilizer ~$900/ton, manufactured using fossil fuels; most wind power is in rural areas.

    http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0454420 “At practical levels of current density the direct ammonia fuel cell has an overall efficiency of about 60% compared to 30-35% for the indirect-type fuel cell.”
    – which would allow time shifting of electrical power.
    Or – nh3fuelassociation.org – application to mobile uses – planes, trains, and automobiles.

  472. Patrick 027:

    Re 467 Jim Larsen re my 464 re my etc.

    Clarification – I was neither agreeing nor entirely disagreeing with that ‘study’ – which I put in single quotes because, while it was quite a bit more involved than a back-of-the-envelope (just look at those graphs), it didn’t seem quite ‘fully done’ (limited number of sites, limited portion of the grid, no CSP, etc.). Also, I don’t think the author is an expert in this particular field. Still it seemed interesting enough that I posted a summary of the numbers. The author wasn’t forecasting a solar/wind capacity ration, just recommending one (for the region considered).

    The comment here, and the 2nd following it, make interesting counterpoints:
    and they have links. The first of those comments makes a point about it being somehow odd to measure energy storage as a fraction of annual production – I don’t see why that would be odd, although if some production is simply dumped, consumption would probably be more helpful.

    I started looking at the prior work done by the author on wind – http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/10/29/gws-sg-es/
    – the author mentions statements made about how distribution of wind sites reduces variability, apparently feeling they aren’t backed-up with evidence (I would have thought that they were). So far I’ve gotten to “As a starting point I want to create a production profile based on real wind power production data. As sources I choose south-eastern Australia, Ireland, and the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon, US.” SE Australia isn’t exactly small (though I’d like to see a map of where the wind installations area) but Ireland and Oregon don’t exactly spread out much. 3 widely spread clusters of sites would be better than 3 all in one place, but I’d think a distribution of more clusters with less overall clustering (except in accordance with wind resource) would be better still.

    That link http://www.flintbox.com/public/filedownload/3226/09-00x about making C or CO from solar energy has me thinking about a possible clean carbon storage. Apparently you can have fuel cells too so you don’t lose so much by combusting it to drive a mechanical heat engine.

    PS is there such a thing as a cirrus-floccus-mammatus ? Well there is now. Or maybe Ci has pouch-like structures all the time and I just never noticed before.

  473. Jim Larsen:

    Patrick, yeah, the selection of sites (I didn’t read the link) seems strange. I’d have picked something like Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, and one or two sites on the Atlantic coast. If you want to know how it all works together, your sites have to be able to electrically communicate.

    The question is critical. In a mature renewable system, what’s the daily and monthly variation in output? The assumption Edward G makes, that consumption can’t adjust, guarantees his conclusion, that building a renewable system would require so much overcapacity or storage as to be ludicrous. But vary consumption, and the whole thing works (I think).

  474. Patrick 027:

    Looking through Delucchi and Jacobson, “Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II:
    Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies”
    (PART I is here):

    Section on variability:

    There is an interesting comparison of reliability and variability among power plants, noting that large power plants are sometimes taken offline.

    U.S. from 200-2004: average coal plant down 6.5 % and 6.0 % for unscheduled and scheduled maintenance, respectively – from North American Electric Reliability Corporation, 2009a.

    Modern wind turbines’ down time – 0-2% land, 0-5% ocean (p. 133 of Dong Energy et al, 2006)

    Commercial solar projects “are expected to have” average downtimes around 1 % (“~1%“) (some experience zero in a year, some have had downtimes up to 10% (from Banke, 2010).

    Individual solar panel and wind turbine downtimes don’t affect electrical supply much; large power plant downtimes can be an issue.

    (This is distinct from variations in the solar and wind resource.)

    Geographic distribution:

    p.2 (hyperlinks added)

    Mills et al. (2009a) report that the spatial separation between PV plants required for changes in output to be uncorrelated over time scales of 15, 30, or 60 min is on the order of 20, 50, and 150 km. Mills and Wiser(2010) review several studies of the effect of dispersion on the variability of PV generation and state that “the clear conclusion from this body of previous research is that with “enough” geographic diversity the sub-hourly variability due to passing clouds can be reduced to the point that it is negligible relative to the more deterministic variability due to the changing position of the sun in the sky”(p.11).

    Spatial distribution of wind is also discussed. And there’s this interesting comparison long term variability of wind to hydroelectric:

    Citing Katzenstein et al. (2010): Estimated output from 16 modelled 1.5 MW turbines distributed through the Central and Southern Great Plains (U.S.) was compared to observed hydroelectric power (“hydropower”), both for 1973-2008. For the annual energy outputs, standard deviations for wind and hydropower were 6% and 12% of there average annual outputs, respectively. The largest single-year deviations were +14% and -10% for wind, and +26% and -23% for hydropower.

    Combining sources:


    Some studies that have examined combining WWS renewables to match demand over time include those that have examined combining wind, solar, and geothermal (CWEC, 2003)); wind, solar, and wave (Lund, 2006), wind, solar, and hydroelectric (Czisch, 2006; Czisch and Giebel, 2007); wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric (Hoste et al., 2009; Jacobson, 2009; Jacobson and Delucchi, 2009; Hartand Jacobson, underreview), and wind, solar, and battery storage (Ekren and Ekren, 2010; Zhou et al, 2010).

    A study of supplying CA electric power (Some hydroelectric power is imported from Pacific NW, but the solar, wind, and geothermal supplies are constrained to be from CA): (emphasis mine)

    Although results for only two days are shown, results for all hours of all days of both 2005 and 2006 (730 days total) suggest that 99.8% of delivered energy during these days could be produced from WWS technology. For these scenarios, natural gas was held as reserve backup and supplied energy for the few remaining hours. However, it is expected that natural gas reserves can be eliminated with the use of demand-response measures, storage beyond CSP, electric vehicle charging and management, and increases in wind and solar capacities beyond the inflexible power demand, which would also allow the excess energy to produce hydrogen for commercial processes, thereby reducing emissions from another sector.

    from the figure 1 caption:

    hourly figures (so we might need ~ 1 hour (or perhaps some fraction of that) of storage)

    (demand + T&D losses on two days; values graphically estimated, averages are very rough estimates)
    33 GW average, 44 GW peak (Jul 28, 2005)
    29 GW average, 36 GW peak (Nov 15, 2005)

    GW capacity:

    73.5 wind
    28.2 PV
    26.4 CSP
    20.8 hydroelectric
    4.8 geothermal (used as baseload)
    24.8 natural gas


    Czisch (2006;2007) similarly calculated that electricity demand for 1.1 billion people in Europe, North Africa, and near Asia could be satisfied reliably and at low cost by interconnecting windsites dispersed over North Africa, Europe, Russia, and near Asia, and using hydropower from Scandinavia as backup.

    p.4 of 21, excerpt about using vehicle batteries:

    Kempton and Tomic (2005b) calculate that in order for V2G systems to regulate power output to keep frequency and voltage steady over very short time intervals (minutes) when wind power supplies 50% of current US electricity demand, 3.2% of the US light-duty vehicle (LDV) fleet would have to be battery-powered and be on V2G contract for regulation of wind power. In order for V2G systems to provide operating reserves to compensate for hourly variations in wind power (again when wind power supplies 50% of US electricity demand), 38% of the US LDV fleet would have to be battery-powered and be on V2G contract. (In both cases, Kempton and Tomic (2005b) assume that only half of the battery EVs would available for V2G at anytime.) Finally, in order for V2G systems to provide longer-term storage to compensate for daily variation in wind power to ensure that wind output never drops below 20% of capacity, given the yearly wind profiles from an interconnected wind system in the Midwest (based on Archer and Jacobson, 2003), 23% of the US LDV fleet would have to be fuel-cell powered and be on V2G contract.

  475. Patrick 027:

    “from the figure 1 caption:”

    refering to the GW capacity values. I think it was based on hourly usage and production, hence my comment about storage, though it might not be so necessary because of geographical smoothing even within CA, etc. (?). I estimated the average and peak GW values from the graphs.

  476. Kevin McKinney:

    On another (unforced, I hope) topic, my article on the sea-ice crash just hit its 1,000 page view–in about 60 hours! Compared with the usual readership rate on these sorts of pieces, that’s pretty stellar–color me excited!

    Thanks to readers here who took the time to check it out.

    And if you missed it, it’s here:


  477. dbostrom:

    Over on Skeptical Science there’s a permanent thread on anthropogenic waste heat, or more specifically how it won’t warm the planet in a noticeable way.

    The thread itself is a form of waste heat.

    I wonder if RC could use a permanent thread where acolytes of various energy capture/liberation schemes could bash one another in perpetuity. Surely the discussion would have better continuity, with less duplication of effort?

    As well, the rest of us wouldn’t have to soak in the wasted sectarian radiation flowing from the various monomaniacs promoting the exclusively ideal nature of their favorite energy god.

    On the other hand, there’s Patrick 027, who single-handed redeems the redundancy. And it -is- an open thread.

  478. Charlie H:

    #460, SecularAnimist; #466 Jim Larsen,

    I recall that Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell claimed that Katrina hit New Orleans as retribution for Massachusetts legalizing gay marriage.

    I’m sure a hurricane hitting Tampa would get equally creative interpretation.

  479. Jim Larsen:

    477 dbostrom said, “the rest of us wouldn’t have to soak in the wasted sectarian radiation flowing from the various monomaniacs promoting the exclusively ideal nature of their favorite energy god.”

    I don’t have one of those. Near the beginning of this discourse I looked at Germany’s renewable portfolio. Wind was first, with biofuel second. I took that as a baseline, and figured a mixed renewable future was better than monomaniacal. So, a vehicle which can selectively run on two renewable sources seems smart. Dunno. Maybe renewable chemical energy is a bad idea. Some folks here seem to think so. In any case, I had fun exploring the ideas with folks who I learned tons with/from. Sorry if it didn’t float your boat.

    Patrick, thanks for the deviation data. It reinforces my opinion that this is all doable.

  480. Jim Larsen:

    Oh, and Patrick, your link showed that over a seasonal period, hydro is in fact “random production”, so my initial comment was 100% false. It’s base load and capacitance for a day, but for a season it’s random production.

  481. dbostrom:

    Jim: Sorry if it didn’t float your boat.

    And I’m sorry for whining. Considering how many niches are available for various energy options to occupy and the heft of the monster waiting outside the nursery to kill any challengers, slagging on “competing” systems is pointless adelphophagy and depressing to witness. Gets my goat.

    But I live in Seattle, so perhaps I’m growing allergic to endless discussion of anything even remotely touching public policy. We’ve been discussing having a regional rail commuter system since 1912 and only 100 years later are actually laying track, now that right-of-way is practically impossible to obtain except for a toy system.

  482. Kevin McKinney:

    #480–It probably varies a lot on regional scales–some flows are probably quite reliable, most of the time.

    But it was quite fun, a couple of years back, when debating wind bashers, to be able to point out that the “unreliable” Danish wind resource was backstopping “reliable” Norwegian hydro–way down due to drought–and “reliable” Finnish nuclear–down for refurb. As I recall, that was true for a stretch of several months.

    In general, it does seem–well, odd–to argue for putting all eggs in a single basket, even if you happen to think that one basket is clearly best.

    (And Captcha says, “oauseh egg.” If only I knew what ‘oauseh’ meant…)

  483. Jim Larsen:

    471 Brian,

    I read the other day that over 50% of China’s installed wind capacity is stranded. Sounds so astounding I’m not sure I believe it, but apparently the subsidies or however wind is promoted in China work so well that any electricity produced is a minor issue. I noted something similar when I calculated that Secular’s PV system would be profitable even without any electrical production.

  484. SecularAnimist:

    dbostrom wrote: “various monomaniacs promoting the exclusively ideal nature of their favorite energy god”

    I might be considered “monomaniacal” about solar energy, though I’m also a big fan of wind power, and of burning biomass to generate electricity, and of course drastically improving efficiency.

    But I don’t think that solar power is “exclusively ideal”.

    I just think that it is a set of technologies (photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal electricity generation, solar thermal space & water heating, etc) that are both mature and rapidly improving, that are being deployed now, at all scales from rural villages in India and Africa, to residential and commercial rooftops in the developed world, to industrial/utility-scale gigawatt-class power stations.

    And I think that proliferating solar power technologies — including the capacity to manufacture them cheaply and easily, anywhere — as rapidly and as far & wide as possible, can do enormous good, not only by quickly reducing GHG emissions from electricity generation, but also by providing electricity to millions of people in the developing world who currently have NONE, and by making the electric grids of developed nations like the US more distributed, resilient and reliable.

  485. wili:

    Jim Larsen at #473 said: “vary consumption, and the whole thing works”

    Here in Minnesota, we all accept that there are some days when the snow will be too heavy or the ice too slick to do anything, and people all just stay home from school or work. They’re called “snow days.”

    And of course there is the long tradition of taking a siesta in mid-day in Spain and elsewhere when it’s just too hot to do much of anything productive (pre-AC).

    If we can accept that most activities have too take a pause once in a while for these environmental reasons, why not have “dark calm days”–when the wind isn’t blowing anywhere nearby and it’s night or too overcast for much solar, time to take a “solar/wind siesta.”

    Add that kind of flexibility to an enormously reduced load over all (through both efficiency and some outright curtailment), and to various big and small storage strategies (already in place in places like hospitals), and suddenly a viable modernish society run only on renewable power becomes thinkable.

  486. Hank Roberts:

    Yeah, I tried arguing that every fission plant warrants a decent sized zone around it that will host solar, wind, thermal storage facility, biodiesel plant, whatever else is locally available with cross-connections and switches in place and tested so when the grid goes down, they can power the fission plant’s cooling down system for months.

    We know we’ll lose the grid — for months — next time there’s a Carrington event: https://www.google.com/search?q=“carrington+event”+probability

    We’re sitting under the Sword of Damocles trusting the strength of that single thread holding it up.

  487. wili:


    Commercial natural gas was likely major factor in late-20th century stabilization

    Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published Thursday, Aug. 23, in the journal Nature.

    I’m not sure whether this is the last word on the pause in the increase in atmospheric concentrations, but it confirms something I strongly suspected.

    (Kevin, you may have to read the first part backward–“He’s u, a 0 (zero), (goose) egg” ?? One prone to paranoia may suspect that recaptcha is constantly subtly insulting and berating us ‘-)

  488. wili:


    “Wildfires Have Burned Nearly 7 Million Acres So Far, Up 6 Percent From Last Year”

  489. sidd:

    Outta curiosity: This page has tracking from
    AddThis, Facebook,Google,Sitemeter

    and when scripting is enabled
    SpecificClick,Scorecard in addition

    Does realclimate really really really need all this ?

  490. flxible:

    sidd, There is no ‘tracking’ on RC – you need to clear your cache and cookies occasionally, and log out of any of those “share it” sites you belong to or have used recently, especially any google related.

  491. Dan H.:

    Also, 2007 was 7% higher than last year, and 2006 was 14% higher. Other years were lower. Compare the highest recent years; humans have burned more acres than nature.


  492. Hank Roberts:

    flxible, sidd’s first four trackers are found by Ghostery; I use that and NoScript (and I don’t see the latter two, so I agree with your advice).

  493. flxible:

    Hank – Clicking any of the [300+] items under the “Share” at the bottom of every main post is the only way to get any cookies here other than the RC cookie and that one from “AddThis”, which is what records the clicks on any of the ‘share’ items – the one from Sitemeter is simply a hit counter for this site, useful for the RC owners – google and faceplace set no cookies here – I use duckduck and never face, and I never see their tracks. Most folks are not aware that ANY faceplace or google function that you use will track you everywhere and set myriad cookies from everyplace, RC is one of the most ‘trackless’ sites on the net. My bet is you and sidd are carrying around facebook and google cookies from log-ins or searches.

  494. David B. Benson:

    Patrick 027 @472 — Bonneville Power Administration’s main office is in Portland, OR, but the wind farms are in the Columbia Basin. That is mostly in eastern WA but also some in OR. The BPA data is only for those wind farms for which BPA is the balancing authority. About the same amount of Wind generation capacity in the basin but also elsewhere in eastern OR uses other balancing authorities.

  495. Patrick 027:

    re the bravenewclimate studies – I noticed from the graphs that BPA (the power supplier, not the stuff in plastic) has a seasonal cycle with what seems like 1 distinct peak in winter (averaging over the mini-peaks within it that year) – no big summer peak. It’s been my impression that the Pacific NW, or parts thereof, don’t have as much air conditioning as much of the rest of the country, and may have less need for it (so far). I think the U.S. as a whole, and even large parts of it, have summer peak demands greater than winter peak demands – this might boost the case for solar power a bit relative to what one gets considering BPA. Also, I thought wind is supposed to peak in the colder part of the year in much of the country. I’m not sure if it does this in BPA; – maybe Ireland? Australia’s winter is in BPA’s summer, so that’s a factor. More tomorrow…

  496. Ron R.:

    Hank and fixible:

    I’m no expert but I think Ghostery is similar to another program called “Do Not Track”. I tried them months ago then found that they were actually leaving multiple cookies. Their help forums were full of people asking why that is. They have various reasons which may, or may not be legitimate. They do provide information about one’s viewing to marketers but claim that they do not personally identify you. I emailed the support people and they told me that these programs are actually affiliates and constructs of business and marketing firms. They work by asking the business not to leave cookies. Color me skeptical.

    I remember a program back when called Scotty which was much simpler and, to my mind, better. It simply removed any and all cookies the moment the page came up. None of this pretzel like reasoning or excuses.

    All that said, someone sent me an article the other day that revealed that a certain popular privacy program (I don’t remember which) was actually involved in secretly gathering highly personal information for interested parties. Sadly, I tend to assume that privacy is history, both on and off the web. Outrageous yes, but we live in the age of outrage.

    Privacy should not be a “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” issue, which is just another way of saying you’re guilty until proven innocent, it’s the principle, it’s a human right.

    My 2 cents.

  497. SecularAnimist:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “We know we’ll lose the grid — for months — next time there’s a Carrington event …”

    Indeed, concern about extended loss of grid power from a Carrington-type geomagnetic storm, or other disruptions, is one reason that the US military is aggressively deploying wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies:

    … the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense are teaming up to strengthen the nation’s energy security and reduce military utility costs.

    Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that encourages appropriate development of renewable energy projects on public lands withdrawn (set aside) for defense-related purposes, and other onshore and offshore areas near military installations.

    The MOU sets out the guiding concepts for the Renewable Energy Partnership Plan, the departments’ roles and responsibilities under the agreement, and how they will work together to carry out the initiative. A major goal of the partnership is to harness the significant proven solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy resources on or near DoD installations across the country.

    … “Developing renewable energy is the right thing to do for national security as well as for the environment and our economy,” Secretary Panetta said. “Renewable energy projects built on these lands will provide reliable, local sources of power for military installations; allow for a continued energy supply if the commercial power grid gets disrupted; and will help lower utility costs.”

    DoD is aggressively pursuing the development of renewable energy on its installations both to improve the energy security of the installations and to reduce the Department’s $4 billion-a-year utility bill. Together with advanced microgrid technology, which DoD is testing, renewable energy will allow a base to maintain critical functions for weeks or months if the commercial grid goes down.

  498. dbostrom:

    Mann bites dog.

    Go get ’em!

  499. Susan Anderson:

    you said a mouthful!

  500. Lazarus:

    Can any one address a query I have about Dendroclimatology? It comes about from a denier blog post;

    Basically the argument is that pine needles are affected by temperature, and can stay on the tree for at least a decade, perhaps several, contributing through photosynthesis to tree ring growth. So the climate that created the needles will have an affect on the size of the rings for decades.

    Does anyone know how much effect or uncertainty this will have on dating and any techniques used to compensate for it?

    [Response:Completely idiotic, as is clear within a matter of a minute or less. Don’t read stuff like that, it will make you stupid.–Jim]

  501. dbostrom:

    Susan: you said a mouthful!

    Horrible, but somebody had to get it over with. :-)

  502. Susan Anderson:

    NYTimes reporting on tar sands, bitumin, dilbit, pipelines, and detection:

    [tar sands] core ingredient — bitumen — is not pumped from wells but is strip-mined or boiled loose underground.

    Industry insiders long considered bitumen to be a “garbage” crude. But now that the light, sweet oil we covet has become more scarce and its price has skyrocketed, bitumen has become worth the trouble to recover. At room temperature, bitumen has the consistency of peanut butter, thick enough to hold in your hands. To get it through pipelines, liquid chemicals must be added to thin it into what’s known as dilbit, short for diluted bitumen.

    Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report that was harshly critical of the federal government’s regulation and oversight of pipeline safety following a spill of more than one million gallons of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. The accident underscored not only how different dilbit is from conventional oil, but how unprepared we are for the impending flood of imports.

    After the dilbit gushed into the river, it began separating into its constituent parts. The heavy bitumen sank to the river bottom, leaving a mess that is still being cleaned up. Meanwhile, the chemical additives evaporated, creating a foul smell that lingered for days. People reported headaches, dizziness and nausea. No one could say with certainty what they should do. Federal officials at the scene didn’t know until weeks later that the pipeline was carrying dilbit, because federal law doesn’t require pipeline operators to reveal that information.

    The 2010 spill could have been worse if it had reached Lake Michigan, as authorities originally feared it might. Lake Michigan supplies drinking water to more than 12 million people….

    This close call hasn’t deterred the energy industry from announcing plans to build or repurpose more than 10,000 miles of pipelines to carry dilbit to the United States and global markets. That includes the controversial Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline….

    The nation’s pipeline network was designed to handle conventional crude oil and is governed by laws and regulations that were written long before the unique risks and hazards associated with dilbit began to emerge. In fact, dilbit is exempt from an excise tax that pays for oil spill cleanups, because the 1980 law that created the tax did not consider bitumen from the “tar sands” to be crude oil….

    Enbridge discovered defects in the area where the pipeline eventually ruptured as early as 2005, and reported them to regulators. Yet the company was able to delay making repairs without breaking any rules….

    Sensors triggered 16 alarms but operators continued to pump dilbit into the line, believing the problem was an air bubble, until someone in Michigan saw oil on the ground and called Enbridge’s emergency line.

    The leak-detection problem is industry-wide…

    The N.T.S.B. chairwoman likened Enbridge employees to Keystone Kops in their handling of the Michigan dilbit disaster. It is a label that could come to apply to the rest of us if we don’t guard against future catastrophe.

    And though I don’t hope to see this, the effort is laudable:

    … asking Congress to serve tap water instead of bottled water at the presidential inauguration…. tap water is a penny a gallon, while bottled water costs 100 times more. Bottled water opponents say that in addition to the waste created by disposable bottles, trucking in bottled water also creates pollution….

  503. Jim Larsen:

    [edit – OT]

  504. MARodger:

    [edit – OT]

  505. Lazarus:

    Not really the response I was looking for Jim. I’m planning a rebuttal of the denier post. I know the post is wrong, very wrong, as it suggests pine needles are used for temp reconstructions. But the question remains, how much does the length of pine needles affect tree ring growth through photosynthesis?

    [Response:When I sense that someone has no idea what they’re talking about and is blowing smoke–like that person clearly is–I spend not a second further trying to figure them out. Are you asking about the physical length of the needles or the length of time they are retained on the tree? Either way, the answer is “insignificantly”. The important variables are total leaf area (and how same is displayed on the tree) and photosynthesis and respiration rates as a function of temperature. There are needles of widely varying length and shape, between different species, within individual species, and even within individual trees (e.g. large differences between sun and shade leaves). The more specific your question, the better I’ll be able to address it. See also the response to flxible–Jim]

  506. flxible:

    Lazarus – From agriculture and orcharding experience I can’t give the answers Jim might, but I’ll point out that the foliage [evergreen or deciduous] feeds the roots via photosynthesis and the roots then uptake the available nutrients to grow the tree – the adaptation of being ‘ever-green’ I believe is thought to be a response to nutrient availability, dropping leaves “wastes” potentially scarce nutrients. The temperature extant when the needles first grew is irrelevant to subsequent tree growth, which is controlled by the ongoing annual temp/light/nutrient/moisture availability cycles . . . and I believe you’ll find individual pine needles actually live anywhere from 1 year up to 40 years or more, some possibly the entire life of the tree. Check Wikipedia re coniferous/deciduous habits and habitats. The bottom line is that the only way the temperature in the trees first years of life [when many of the needles form] affect it’s lifelong growth [controlled by nutrient uptake] is to determine it’s survival beyond those first few years, which is the foolishness of that denialator.

    [Response:Thanks flxible. Needles do indeed have varying lifespans on different species, and on different individuals within a given species, and on different branches within an individual, as ameliorated by environmental conditions, particularly light. None live anywhere near the lifetime of the tree however, both because they are increasingly shaded out as the branch they are on grows (due to shading by the newer foliage, especially on branches above) and because the thickening of the periderm (outer bark) would gradually engulf a good part of them (hence no needles on branches above a certain diameter typically). When they can no longer produce a positive carbon balance, they are jettisoned. Needles are “formed” throughout the life of the tree, before and during each new year’s shoot elongation from the previous year’s buds, and hence, not primarily early in its life. Evergreen vs deciduous is a more complex question that involves tradeoffs in carbon balance–essentially whether to retain the ability to photosynthesize under marginal conditions or not. Deciduous species have “decided” it’s not worth it, while evergreens have decided it mostly is.–Jim]

  507. Susan Anderson:

    Perhaps this belongs in the communication blog since it mentions Lady Gaga (with illustration) and references the idea of holding phony skeptics accountable, or maybe not.

    Further to Mike Mann’s heroic stance in the face of persecution, some background to the recent UVA shenanigans make it more likely that going after Mann was part of it! Though I would not agree with the title: though the state of education and bullying of same is scary, nothing is scarier than climate change.


    But the sorest subject of all for UVA is climate science. UVA is the former employer of the paleoclimatologist Michael Mann, the lead scientist in the team that produced the so-called “hockey stick” graph of historical temperatures depicting a decisive warming effect starting in the twentieth century… target of the single most vicious fossil fuel-funded personal and professional smear campaign in his endlessly abused field.

    The War on Mann began three years after the hockey stick first appeared as part of what Mann describes in his recent book as the “least scientifically interesting” section of a paper he and two colleagues published in the journal Nature, when Mann was working at UVA and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change reprinted the graph in its 2001 assessment report. Since then he has been stalked, hacked, spied on by a weird dude who claims to be a CIA veteran and subject to constant formal and informal accusations of scientific misconduct, fraud, treason and so forth. The most recent spate of allegations stems from some deliberately decontextualized comments he made in listserv emails that were hacked from the the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit in the Climategate saga of 2009. Numerous investigations have thoroughly exonerated Mann; all have been pronounced whitewashes and/or coverups by the Denial lobby. In a nod to his current employer Penn State, the Competitive Enterprise Institute recently bestowed upon him a new nickname, the “Jerry Sandusky of climate change.”

    In the weeks before Sullivan’s ouster, the UVA environmental sciences faculty voted to bring Mann back to Thomas Jefferson’s University in a prestigious professorship endowed by vice rector Mark Kington, one of the coup’s main conspirators. Sullivan vociferously endorsed the hire, according to a UVA alumnus active in Charlottesville political ciricles. But it was nixed without explanation by Margaret Woo, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a strident supporter of the Sullivan’s ouster.

    At least one professor quit in part over the episode; in his August 15 resignation letter climate scientist Amato Evan referenced an apparent decision by the department to give up “even attempting to make a senior hire in the area of climate change.”

    Further down (please *do* read the whole thing; I’d excerpt more but don’t want to transgress) John Mashey is quoted; this time it’s Wegman and George Mason University (GMU), which is not exclusively anti-science (I read weekly emails from their “good” guys) but provides a solid backing of “science” to industrial interests with intent to mislead. Deepclimate is doing good work, and DeSmogBlog is also outing some of the dirty tricks:


  508. MARodger:

    Well the US NSIDC extent record from 2007 fell with the daily Extent for 24/8/12 dropping 100,000sq km on the pervious day. Past years have seen a further 600-700,000 drop between now and the end of the melt so a final Extent of below 3.5 million would be reasonable … except the rate of melt is exceptional for the time of year. If there it doesn’t let up soon, we may see Extent dropping below 3 million!

    Btu while we wait to witness the startling end to this year’s Arctic melt season, coincidently it appears the planet Wattsupia is also having a “less sea ice than any time since systematic measurements began in 1979.” event.

    Luckily for the inhabitants of Wattupia, this is not a problem because reassuringly “The measured reduction of sea ice does not mean the lowest extent ever. There is evidence that in warmer periods over the past 10,000 years the ice virtually disappeared, such as the periods between 8,000 and 5,000 years ago.

    So happliy the melt season on Wattupia doesn’t need headline coverage and only rates a mention in a “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup,” and then only after more important matters are reported – things like the pronouncements of Mssrs Cohen, Happer & Lindzen, an important finding from Dr John Christy & the investigations of journalist Christopher Booker. And not forgetting the very important climate news from Egypt (It’s the Old Kingdom again. Droughts apparently. Was it frogs last time?)

    Of course they will argue about the exact definition (I’m told that folk can get pretty fractious on Wattsupia), but the experts are hard at work to see whether August 2012 will an “Arctic-Ice-Report-free month,” the first such event in the entire history of Wattsupia.

  509. Patrick 027:

    re my last comment – okay, more tomorrow…

    (In the meantime, I’ve found that US electricity peak demand(s) (I’ll explain that later) tend to be higher in summer than winter; EIA has a list of news postings, one of which actually has a link to monthly natural gas consumption, from which I’ve been able to figure that natural gas consumption by the electric sector (or to produce electricity? – two slightly different things because some electricity generation occurs in the commercial and industrial sectors) has a peak in late summer (July-August, August being a bit higher) of ~ 50 GWe over October-May, which is to a first approx, nearly flat. Aside from what I’d expect to be a springtime hydro peak (??), I can’t think of why natural gas would preferentially be used in summer and not winter for electrical generation(efficiency should be a little higher in winter for heat engine-type plants), so I’m thinking monthly average power consumption in late summer should be ~ 50 GWe higher or more than the October-May period (annual average is ~ 450 GWe net generation all sectors). There is a large winter spike in natural gas consumption outside the electric sector, for heating of course. Some households have electric heat – I think more in those parts of the country where there is less of a heating need; I’m not clear on whether this electric heat is of the heat pump variety (heat engine in reverse) or if it’s just resistance heating – the later would be rather inefficient and it would be better to just burn fuel in that case, other things being equal. Of course there’s extra winter lighting needs.)

  510. Brian Dodge:

    Lazarus – Liebig’s Law of the minimum. Whatever is the limiting factor for growth dominates. If it’s too cool for maximum photosynthesis, more needles won’t help. If the temperature is right, and the nutrients are right, but there’s no water, you get a desert – not more, or fewer, needles. The “trick” is finding trees which have enough water, & fertilizer, and light, but the temperature is the limiting factor – typically trees growing near their northern limit (Yamal Peninsula) or altitude limit (Bristlecone pines), and compare their growth rings/latewood density to known temperatures over a calibration period, so that earlier temperatures can be extrapolated. MBH found a bunch of trees that could be calibrated to other temperature records, and showed that the MWP wasn’t as warm as today (in the ares where their trees grew).

    This has been confirmed by noted(famous? infamous?) denialist skeptic Roy Spencer[1], who pointed out that CO2 outgasses as the ocean warms, amplifying temperature increases through positive feedback. The CO2 record from ice cores[2] shows no blip corresponding to the Medieval allegedlyWarm Period. (Hehe &;>)

    [1] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/28/spencer-pt2-more-co2-peculiarities-the-c13c12-isotope-ratio/ Fig 4,5
    “Note the strong similarity – the C13 variations very closely follow the C12 variations, which again (as in my previous post) are related to SST variations (e.g. the strong signal during the 1997-98 El Nino event).”

    [2] ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/epica_domec/edc-co2-2008.txt

  511. Edward Greisch:

    [edit – Nuclear power is always OT. How many times does this need to be repeated?]

  512. David B. Benson:

    Comments on variousa forms of power sources are welcomed on
    the Brave New Climate Discussion Forum. Further, there are many practicing and retired power (included nuclear) engineers there to help keep the discussion informed.

    All too often Unforced Variations comments desecnd into those solution areas. I say descend because the vast majority of the comments on such matters here are obviously quite, quite naive. On BNCDF one quickly becomes much more informed.

    Can we all please keep Real Climate focused on climate?
    Thank you.

  513. Jim Larsen:

    Lazarus, in general, if you weaken a plant, it will take a while to recover and resume normal growth, but it can’t just be sub-optimal. A blazingly hot summer where the tree almost dies could lead to less growth the next year, but in any case, the tree will adjust. If a tree ends with below-optimal needle density one year, you’d expect it to produce more needles the next year.

    Besides, they look for trees whose lives have been lived in the least data-polluting way, such as on the cool side of their range. This surely is another case of the mountainification of an anthill combined with the Assumption of Expert Ignorance, Idiocy, and evil Intent. And I’m still unclear as to the guy’s point. That tree rings could be “smeared” by 3-10 years changes what, exactly? If it’s 10 years, then 10% of a small effect seems like a tiny smear.

    Typical denier tactics. Take a tiny truth (or opinion), implicitly ramp up its order of magnitude by 3, and viola! A persuasive argument.

    504 MARodger said [OT-no nuclear power discussions]

  514. Ron R.:

    I wonder if Climate Progress has such a forum (or wants one)? There needs to be some balance to the strong bias at BNC for NP. Course that would tend to lead to people talking past each other.

    Perhaps a new site?

  515. Ron R.:

    Lazarus 25 Aug 2012 at 5:15 AM:

    I wasn’t quite getting what the man was claiming. That because needles on some pine trees stay on for a long time that that would lead to increased growth and thus skew the tree ring results?

    Jim can correct me, but i wouldn’t think that it would make a lot of difference if the needles stay on for only a year or for decades, because pretty much the same surface area of these trees would still be covered in needles (providing we are talking about “equivalent” species. Some pines are more densely needled than others). IOW, even if the needles on a pine tree last but a year, being evergreen the ones that fall are soon replaced so that the total amount of time needles are on these pine trees is pretty much equivalent to those where the needles hang on a long time. Thus, short or long, similar amount of carbon buildup among equivalent species.

    If I flubbed something here my apologies.

    [Response:Not a problem. It’s a little more complex than that. Length of leaf (needle) retention is definitely important, and as long as nothing is severely limiting, the longer the better. The shorter the average leaf lifespan, the harder it is to maintain a given leaf area, and the tree wants to minimize leaf turnover because leaves are metabolically expensive to construct. If trees could get by making one set of leaves and maintaining them over their entire lives, they likely would. But they can’t, for a number of reasons, one of which is the increasing shade experienced by older leaves, which is due to the fact that leaves are formed on new shoots, which in turn are concentrated toward the periphery of the tree’s canopy, i.e. at branch ends. So the older your leaves are, the more likely they are to be shaded, which reduces their carbon balance (photosynthetic/respiratory C flux). On species that grow in intense competition with others (i.e. in optimal growth conditions) this problem is exacerbated even more by the shading due to other trees, and leaves may thus live only a few years. But even for species growing on the margins of environmental tolerance (e.g. cold or dry) and thus not strongly affected by competition, there can be variation from species to species in leaf longevity and area, even in species that are very closely related. A good example of this is foxtail and bristlecone pines vs limber and whitebark pines. All four are closely related, with the members of each pair especially so, and live in similar environments with minimal competition (high, cold, windy and dry in the mountains of western N America), but the former two hold their leaves longer than the latter two (thereby giving them their “bottlebrush” or “foxtail” appearance as needles are retained along the branches). So, there are some genetic constraints operating there that confound simple environmentally-based explanations. On your other point, needles are typically only formed once a year, during local spring (with some exceptions as in certain types of insect defoliation, where a second flush can be produced). And any evergreen must, by definition, have leaves that live > 1 year. But you are correct that the tree is generally trying to maximize it’s leaf area, given it’s (strongly heritable) architectural constraints, which include both needle length and branching geometry.–Jim]

  516. Edward Greisch:

    [edit – the reason why nuclear is off-topic is because it never goes anywhere and pushes out other more relevant conversations. It has nothing to do with the substance. As suggested above, those wishing to discuss such topics are welcome at Barry Brooks site. Just not here.]

  517. Brian Dodge:

    I would suggest that those who are interested in nuclear vs renewable pissing contests which derail rational discussion take them to Wattsupwiththat – not that anyone will notice a difference over there. &;>)

    When I scrolled down to reCAPTCHA, it told me “grousey justice”

  518. SecularAnimist:

    David B. Benson wrote:

    Comments on various forms of power sources are welcomed on the Brave New Climate Discussion Forum.

    I would caution readers that Brave New Climate is not a reliable source for accurate and up-to-date information on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

    There are a number of sites that focus specifically on the renewable energy industries. I can recommend a few with blogs which allow comments and discussion:

    Joe Romm’s blog http://www.ClimateProgress.org regularly features posts on renewable energy and efficiency by journalist Stephen Lacey and various guest bloggers.

    The Institute For Local Self-Reliance has excellent resources and articles focused on “democratizing the energy system” with wind and solar, and their Energy Self-Reliant States blog reports and analyzes industry, technology and public policy developments enabling “a distributed renewable energy future”:



    The site http://www.CleanTechnica.com has news and analysis of developments in the solar, wind, efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicle industries, as well as other renewable energy and clean transport issues. (CleanTechnica seems to be a particularly good source for news on developments in battery and other energy storage technologies.)

    In addition to the above, the industry trade groups, the Solar Energy Industries Association (www.seia.org) and the American Wind Energy Association (www.awea.org) have a lot of good reference information, and news and analysis on developments in their industries.

    Last but not least, I recommend that anyone interested in renewable energy, efficiency, smart grid, electric vehicle and related technologies frequent the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory site at http://www.nrel.gov. Just for one example, check out this current article on microgrids:


    [Response:That’s helpful, thanks Animist.–Jim]

  519. Ron R.:

    Thanks for the reply Jim. I hadn’t really considered it before yesterday but I’m wondering about the actually longevity of pine needles? Most places mention up to three years. A few up to 40 or even 70 years. I’d think by then the needles would be in bad shape from the elements.

    We have “digger” pines. I was wondering about determining the age of the tree from the needles. You’d think that if needles are hanging on for decades there should be some sort of growth pattern. I just looked at a needle close up. Quite interesting.

    [Response:I would say that something like two to twenty years would encompass most of the range of needle longevity in most species but don’t have definitive info. You are right–the longer they live, the more likely they are to be damaged, especially at elevation, from sand and ice blasting. Indeed this is one big reason to shed them, because the loss of the waxy cuticle in such situations can lead to major water loss. You can’t determine the tree age from the needles, but you can approximate the needle age from the tree. One way is as described in those references you give–by looking at the “trace” of the needle, that is the callous tissue that forms perpendicular to the rings after a needle dies. But you need a perfectly located cross section of the stem to catch that. A much easier way on live trees is to simply count the branch whorls back to the point where there are still needles, on branch ends. Pines and other conifers produce branches in whorls, with each whorl marking one year. From my observations on digger pine (Pinus sabiniana) the needles live no more than a 3-4 years at most. This is actually a little surprising to me, given how open the canopy is on those trees (e.g. here), being the very unusual and atypical pine that it is, having poor apical dominance and therefore no straight central stem like most conifers. And the branch whorling is also very incomplete and hard to identify after a few years. –Jim]

    Anyway, some more info:


    Great pictures of a Scot’s pine close up.

    [Response:Yes those are good pictures. Two highly helpful information sources to be aware of, in general, are here and here.

  520. David B. Benson:

    Following on SecularAnimist’s comment @518, I disagree about the accuracy of information regarding alternative energy sources on Barry Brook’s Brave New Climate and the associated Discussion Forum. Those posting there certainly have access to the resources mentioned @518 and make use of them.

    The different focus @ BNC is partly Australia’s pecular problems but also the fact that there are several power engineers (some retired now) who comment there. As practicing engineers their focus is on solutions which actually work and for (nearly) minimal cost. I find that to be a useful perspective on a problem shared world-wide.

  521. sidd:

    Re: energy sites

    Recommend Mr. Guillet’s Wind energy site at the european tribune:


    See especially the discussion of the merit order effect, and the careful dissection of the cost, price and value of wind energy.


  522. Jim Larsen:

    518 Secular, thanks.

    520 David B said, “As practicing engineers their focus is on solutions which actually work and for (nearly) minimal cost.”

    Never been there (will try it, thanks). I’d expect an engineer to tend towards defining cost as dollars spent specifically by the interested party. Here, the definition tends more towards “arctic sea ice melt et al”, and dollars, though important, are secondary to an externality valued at $100000000000000000000000000, give or take.

    So, depending on the things you want to learn at that moment, choosing either experience is defensible as “better”.

    The most important lesson to learn is to follow the rules of the site you’re on.

  523. Unsettled Scientist:

    Jim replied > Not a problem. It’s a little more complex than that.

    I really appreciate these kinds of posts in the comments. I feel more attuned to nature after reading that reply, and will probably look at trees a little differently now. Thanks.

    [Response:Very glad to hear it. Trees record more information about their growth environment than any other terrestrial life form, and do so in a number of completely different ways (e.g. ring patterns, stem and branch architecture, leaf size and shape, pollen abundance etc). You can learn an enormous amount about local environmental history if you know what to look for. Not to mention their ecological importance and general impressiveness of course–Jim]

  524. Patrick 027:

    … there is a winter peak in coal electricity. Why coal and not so much nat gas, I wonder. Anyway… (more tomorrow) (haven’t had much time lately).

  525. Patrick 027:

    see also http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec7_4.pdf

  526. Ron R.:

    Thanks for the links jim, I’ve bookmarked them.

    There is something else that some digger (digger generally being considered an undesirable name) pines do (maybe all?) which I wonder if you’ve heard of. There are two favorite specimens across from each other along a trail at a lake I like to hike at. These trees “rain” tiny droplets of water down upon passersby. Of course all trees respire but these ones do it in this intriguing way. You can actually see hundreds of tiny droplets descending like rain if you stand below them and there is a dark background to contrast the sunlit droplets by (such as forest) and feel them on your skin. I enjoy standing beneath them.

    I call them “rain trees”. They are not far from a source of water, a seasonal river of sorts that runs to the lake (which river in the wet season becomes a southern extension of the lake) and seem to do it during those times that water is present (though I’ve not documented anything). I was there today and the did not see any rain, the river being dry.

    [Response:Interesting, not sure what’s going on there (and you mean transpiration, not respiration), never observed that. And yes, gray or foothill pine is the more accepted name these days.–Jim]

  527. Edward Greisch:

    To whoever is moderating: Look again at the list I sent you. I never mention nuclear except in reply to the wind and solar crowd. And some of their comments are “inappropriate.” It appears that they know when the moderatorship is going to change, and I don’t. It is a matter of fairness.

    I see that you have allowed the discussion of wind and solar to continue, as in 518. Are you sticking to climate science or not?

    [Response:I agree that if we’re going to prohibit discussions of nuclear, we should prohibit all discussions of energy production, in fairness. As for moderation, it’s completely random–we don’t even know ourselves, so nobody else does either. If you would like to give a set of links where information and/or discussions of nuclear power occur, please go ahead, that would be helpful.–Jim]

  528. David B. Benson:

    Locally the willow-leafed cottonwoods, always in association with a river or even seasonal creek, are filled with aphids. The aphids suck enough sap that some comes out of a rear orifice, falling in a gentle mist. It is always cooler under the cottonwoods due to the evaporation of the mist.

  529. Jim Larsen:

    Edward, as others have pointed out, the web is vast. Sites develop a personality based on the moderators, the regulars, and the rules. Here, the moderators have noticed that of the myriad sources of energy production possible, only one creates the chaos which engulfed this thread. It started out with a couple of folks, including me, trying to engage the subject lightly to add some robustness to the discussion. The moderators indulged our behaviour, a mistake(?) they probably won’t repeat.

    I disagree that banning all discussion of solutions to climate change is the answer. They should be limited, but that’s easily done. When the Mods suggest changes in conversation direction, people generally follow suit.

    Frankly, I’d be happy if the “N” word were put in the spam filter. (Of course, there’s Bush Jr’s workaround for that)

  530. Ron R.:

    David B. Benson at 4:19 PM.


    Well that would be something! Standing under an aphid storm. While I’m ruling nothing out I doubt that these are aphids. The reason why is because I’ve seen aphid ridden trees plenty of times. They are always easy to spot because of the black soot and the ants that milk them. The honeydew gets dirty or moldy and turns black caking the leaves.

    I’ve seen no aphids or inordinate numbers of ants on these trees (though I haven’t looked terribly closely). If it were aphids these trees put out so much mist that I’d think there’d have to be a lot of them. But to my eye they look healthy and clean. They are young trees, maybe 20 feet high. If RC had a way to download pictures I would, though again the mist has stopped at the moment. I’ve noticed it for years now.

    Again, I’m not ruling out your thought, it’s a logical suggestion. I’ll have to go back and have another look.

  531. Ron R.:

    Jim, thanks for the correction.

    Another name is the Ghost Pine. Four different names for the same tree. Be nice if they could decide on one.

    [Response:They did: Pinus sabiniana. Or rather, David Douglas did, long ago.–Jim]

  532. Ron R.:

    “If RC had a way to download pictures I would,

    Sorry, I meant upload pictures.

    Perhaps a bit too much vintage 2010.

    Captcha completely unintelligible.

  533. Ron R.:

    [Response:They did: Pinus sabiniana. Or rather, David Douglas did, long ago.–Jim]

    LOL. Right. I meant a common name, in english. (I know the popular names can vary widely :-) ), e.g.: in my area valley oaks are always called valley oaks.

    Never mind. I’m babbling.

  534. Patrick 027:

    (I’m not sure if my last comment was deleted due to content or to lack thereof (it was just a ‘more later’ message), and I know I’m pushing it here, but I had left some loose ends that I’ve been meaning to tie up for days but couldn’t get to it. I did trim it back. No real boosterism here (or anything that would trigger endless argument with no progress), just dry discourse. Also, weather and climate affect seasonality of energy usage and availability. And I overlooked something obvious in explaining why som… well here’s the comment:)

    Re 494 David B. Benson – Thanks.

    Re 486 Hank Roberts – interesting to compare land areas used; also, droughts (can’t take up the space to explain what I mean).

    Re my 509, 524, 525 – I answered my own question; heating demands pull nat gas away from electricity generation in winter.
    Peak demand will of course be higher than monthly average or even average daily peak; http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/?ref=bookshelf gives U.S. noncoincident peak demand in summer and winter (it is a little higher in summer than winter – http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec8_46.pdf), which is the sum of peak demands of various parts of the grid (see map); the actual peak demand for the whole nation will thus tend to be smaller (how much smaller?).

    It doesn’t seem like hydroelectric power has a strong seasonal cycle, which suggests to me that the capacity factor does reflect a usage as dispatchable energy rather than baseload or simply production according to river flow, at least for reservoirs of sufficient size (reservoir size of course limits the ability to vary output over longer time periods). But I haven’t really gotten far into the data (see next paragraph).

    re my 495 (monthly nat.gas usage) (you can get data from CSV links)
    and much more here
    (unfortunately the spreadsheets in the monthly data here don’t seem to open; but the CSV data seems to have monthly data for all years given) (I haven’t gone through it yet, and I guess I’ll have to keep it to myself now)(PS having pasted these into spreadsheets, I’ll use “vlookup” to construct something more readable. Caution with solar power seasonality especially – if there’s a seasonal cycle in installation (?), that could have a significant effect on the data. I think you’ll need to look at the pdfs to provide context (the various lettered footnotes, etc.))

    (space heating): http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7690#
    (more space heating): http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=3690
    (storage): http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=6910

    Could desalinated, pumped water be stored by pumping it down a well into an an aquifer? Could fuels be pumped into existing wells, etc.? (But don’t pump hydrogen into oil wells. You’ll clog the whole thing with trans-fats and the next thing ya’know, Old Faithful’s going in for triple bypass surgery. :) )

    Re 485 wili, and Jim Larsen – a climate vs. weather issue – weather perhaps best managed first by changes in automated processes; use climate for residential electricity pricing schedule (time of day, time of year)?

    Re my 464,472 – parts that I didn’t get to (the all wind case, the all solar case – data – won’t describe it here). Rube Goldberg devices usually run in serial more than parallel, don’t they? (see http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/10/29/gws-sg-es/ , near the end). (and agreeing w/ Hank Roberts @ 486 “trusting the strength of that single thread“) If you’re going to have 100s+ sources, why a problem that they are not identical? Technodiversity as a general strategy (like biodiversity)… Of course the best solutions will depend on regional conditions (via resource and demand patterns); low latitudes different than high latitudes, etc.

    Re 477 dbostrom – thanks.

    Re 471 Brian Dodge – thanks.

    Re Jim Larsen 467, … – thanks.

    Re 512 David B. Benson – thanks, and I’m done here with that.

  535. Hank Roberts:

    > pumped water be stored by pumping it down a well into an an aquifer?

    That’s done routinely, lots of places.

  536. David B. Benson:

    I have a hockeystick question (which only arises due to an ongoing internet exchange with someone in seriously deep denial). The hockeystick shows a slow decline followed by a rapid rise (in northern hemisphere temperature reconstruction). When [preferably within a decade or so] was the inflection point, that is, the transition from the decline to the rise?

    [Response:Which reconstruction? There are many of them and they are all different, depending on the data and methods used, which vary widely. Very few of them show any constant decline before the increase of the 20th century, and in the 20th century it’s not been a continual increase.–Jim]

  537. Hank Roberts:

    > When [preferably within a decade or so] was the inflection point ….?

    For a small signal in noise, ten years may not be adequate for detecting a trend (and it takes more information to detect a trend in either direction than in only one direction) — there may be no “inflection point” because of the noise level

    (ReCaptcha says: was cooldria
    perhaps you should look for a change in humidity as well as temperature :-)

  538. David B. Benson:

    Hank Roberts @537 — An estimate spanning 50-75 years is acceptable.

  539. Ron R.:

    Question: As a general rule can it be said that an early leaf drop from deciduous trees is indicative of a coming cold winter whereas a late leaf drop would indicate a coming warm one? Or is this too simplistic?

    P.S. I haven’t got to the lake yet to check on those pine trees. Will try to do so before the week is out.

  540. MARodger:

    David B. Benson @538
    If you examine the IPCC AR4 temperature reconstructions kindly linked by Jim @Response@536 you will see that the classical ‘hockeystick’ has increased in number since 2001 and also been joined by some ‘droopy’ versions showing major dips in NH temperature over past centuries. The majority of these reconstructions still plot out a strong ‘hockeystick’ shape (abet with a zig-zag blade due to the mid-century cooling).

    [Response:Not just “dips” but also rapid increases, and overall, the estimates of rapid and strong variation on scales of decades to centuries has increased in studies over the last decade. At some point you have to ask what exactly constitutes a “hockey stick” shape. That phrase implies two periods, each of (relatively) constant rate, which diverge suddenly, and many reconstructions show this not to be the case. See Frank et al. here for discussion–Jim]

    However, referring to the classical ‘hockeystick’, your ‘inflection point’ can thus be allocated the date March 1911. (As I recall it was a Tuesday, possibly the day Rutherford first split the atom or something.) As any attribution of a particular single event to the cause of this perceived ‘inflection point’ is ridiculous in the extreme, it is probably best (as suggested @537) to consider a broader period within which NH temperatures turned from a slow long term gradual decline to what is becoming evidently an unprecidentedly sharp rise. Such a period could be considered as the years 1880 & 1930.

  541. Hank Roberts:

    David, I dunno how you can find such precision — it’s spaghetti:

  542. Hank Roberts:

    M. Owen at Neven’s Arctic sea ice blog just posted this:
    worried microbiologists

  543. flxible:

    RonR@539 – Timing of deciduous leaf drop is an indicator of the near past [temperatures and precipitation], not of the immediate future, regardless of ‘farmers tales’.

  544. Mal Adapted:

    Timing of leaf abscission in some plants is at least partially a function of daylength, and is less responsive to weather than in others. I can’t locate a reference at the moment, unfortunately.

  545. David B. Benson:

    MARodger @540 & Hank Roberts @541 — Thank you.

  546. Jim Larsen:

    534 patrick said, ” and I know I’m pushing it here,”

    Knowing when you are pseudo-breaking the rules and adjusting your behaviour based on that knowledge is the key to productive blogging/commenting.

  547. David B. Benson:

    One way to resolve my question @536 is from
    Which states
    Little Ice Age

    The period of time that led to expansion of valley and cirque glaciers world-wide, with their maximum extents being attained in about 1700-1850 AD in many temperate regions, and around 1900 in Arctic regions.

    With this I’ll have to be satisfied with the two century long interval from 1700-1900 CE.

  548. MARodger:

    Jim @540 Response.
    Thanks for the link. I learn of Groveman & Landesberg 1979 & shall have a bit of fun sticking it on a graph to see how their reconstruction compares with the newer better known ones.

  549. dbostrom:

    Train wreck in slow motion.

    Having recently condemned James Hansen and a vague, unspecified cloud of other offenders for exaggerating the situation with regard to climate change, Cliff Mass is now following a very curious path.

    Cliff has mentioned a few times his suspicions about thermometer siting w/regard to synoptic assessments of weather. Followers of his popular Pacific NW weather blog are probably familiar with this.

    Now Mass is extrapolating his personal concerns to include something much more significant. In a recent blog post SeaTac Heat Cliff uses the example of Seattle Tacoma International Airport’s temperature record to hypothesize about systematic failure of national climatic records and conclusions we might draw from the trends those indicate.

    Sound familiar? Depressingly so, and even more depressing is what Cliff has to say in the comments on his blog:

    …I think very highly of Watt’s surface station work…he has revealed how problematic many (most) of our surface stations are, as well as the poor QC work done by NCDC over the years. A national embarrassment, really…


    …Watts work is quite compelling and he has made an important contribution with his web site: surfacestations.org. We have problems with urbanization, poor temperature sensor locations, and problematic quality control.

    Suggestions to check the literature on this topic go unanswered and unpublished.

    What’s the deal with this guy? And what’s he saying in his public presentations on climate change? Has anybody following RC attended one of those?

  550. Hank Roberts:

    It’s an election year.

  551. Paul Middents:

    Re Doug Bostrom at 549:
    I too am a Pacific Northwest, longtime fan of Cliff Mass and his weather blog. I was worried when he first started his campaign against perceived hype in the media and public statements of climate scientists. Worry turned to dismay with his attack on Hansen. I implored him by e-mail to confer with his University of Washington colleague, Eric Steig, in the hope that this might temper his tendency to impugn the integrity of individual scientists. Eric has been the victim of this in the climate blogosphere on more than one occasion.

    Cliff indicates clearly in the comments on his blog that he perceives truth in the climate debates as halfway between what he sees as two extremes. He dismisses Skeptical Science as one of those extremes and puts Watts and his surface stations project near the middle. He sees people like Doug Bostrom and me as “Global Warming advocates”. I don’t know about Doug, but I will state for the record that I am not in favor of global warming!
    Cliff responds only erratically to comments on his blog. His excuse is that the blog is just a part-time thing on his part. He also promises comments on Hansen to a peer reviewed journal “sometime”.

    Cliff’s last public lecture was in Orcas Island about a week ago and the title was something like “Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events”. I do not know the actual contents but I would bet they hue very closely to his blog posts.

    Commenters at Tamino’s blog and here at RC dismissed Cliff as a lightweight based on his brief interactions a few days ago. Cliff is not a light weight. Cliff is a very influential public voice on weather and climate throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his blog, a very successful book on Pacific NW weather and public lectures, he has a weekly weather spot on KPLU public radio. He used to have this spot on KUOW, the public radio voice of the University of Washington. KUOW let him go because of his tendency to stray without warning from weather topics into non-weather related controversial areas. So far he has stayed close to the weather at KPLU. When I renewed my annual contribution last week, I informed them of Cliff’s intemperate critique of James Hansen. I recommended that should they want information on climate change, they ask actual climate scientists at the University of Washington.

    What are we to make of a statement like this from Cliff’s recent post on SEATAC temperatures?

    “Multiple such urbanization/development issues at locations around the world, and it is clear that it can obscure the true background temperature change signal that we are looking for.“

    Ignoring the fractured syntax, which is typical unedited Cliff, I know of no peer reviewed work even remotely supporting this statement.

  552. David B. Benson:

    Paul Middents @551 — Yhe Cliff Mass quotation is wrong on the face of it as the surface is mostly ocean.

    You might care to check
    on occasion.

  553. dbostrom:

    Paul Middents Cliff is a very influential public voice on weather and climate throughout the Pacific Northwest.

    Yes, and that’s what bothers me when Cliff veers out of his domain of expertise and joins Watts in promoting fiction. People believe Cliff when it comes to weather, justifiably. Unless they’re OCD types hanging around climate blogs his audience members are not likely to have a clue when they’re being led down the garden path leading to wishful fantasy.

    Ignoring the fractured syntax, which is typical unedited Cliff, I know of no peer reviewed work even remotely supporting this statement.

    But Cliff either does not know that or refuses to acknowledge it, not in public in any case. Either way, his communication is faulty.

    The other thing that bothers me about Cliff is his disparagement of the qualifications of the folks at Skeptical Science, an archetypal ad hominem as he doesn’t speak to the content or utility of SkS other than to call it a disappointment without saying why. Meanwhile Cliff enthusiastically endorses Watts, a man equally “unqualified” to speak on climate matters but who much more importantly is frequently (always?) wrong when he does.

    Climate change seems to be a problem mostly for people living in the future, in Cliff’s eyes. I’m not sure if he’s thought about the urgency of eliminating C02 emissions -now- as opposed to in the future.

  554. Hank Roberts:

    How the inclination of Earth’s orbit affects incoming solar irradiance
    Key Points
    =The orbital inclination affects the level of irradiance
    =Orbital inclination changes do not cause the 100 kyrs climate variability
    =The Sun is subdued in photometric variability compared to its stellar analogues

    Now what caught my eye, oh authors, was that last key point:

    “subdued in photometric variability”

    Would it be right to read this as:

    “Our sun has been less variable than the average variable star, for the period during which we have data, but then again, variable stars do have these short periods of relative stability, so that can’t be relied on to continue.”

    — or am I just reading too much into those few words?

    We have a huge number of observations of variable stars like our Sun, all of them short time spans, but with so many — do we know anything about this?

  555. Rob Painting:

    Doug, several Skeptical Science contributors attempted to post comments at Cliff Mass’ blog but they did not survive moderation. Seems he cannot accept constructive criticism. His post on Hansen (2012) is a shining example of person who doesn’t know what he is writing about.

    I expect we will see more seemingly rational people ‘turn turtle’ as the consequences of global warming become harder to ignore. Cliff Mass has a short shelf-life – what’s going to be the excuse as heatwaves and extreme heat records become increasingly more frequent and severe?

  556. dbostrom:

    Rob Painting: …several Skeptical Science contributors attempted to post comments at Cliff Mass’ blog but they did not survive moderation.

    So how about this for a case of denial: despite hearing that and despite my own similar experience with no longer being visible in Cliff’s comment threads, I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the possibility that Cliff isn’t living up to his own standards.

    I’ve really admire Mass’ work on weather modeling here in the PNW, indeed it’s actually very useful besides being intriguing. But now… inserting one’s self into a controversy and then creating the illusion that everybody agrees isn’t really honest. Ignoring cites isn’t honest.

    Cognitive dissonance happens, I guess. Admire the modeler, ignore the crank. I guess I can fit that into my mind.

  557. David B. Benson:

    Hank Roberts @554 — That is a most interesting question (and one to which I would like to have answered). Possibly in the astrophysics literature?

  558. tamino:

    Re: Variable Stars

    Almost all stars are variable at some level. A not uncommon usage of the term “variable star” in astronomy (at least, in days gone by) refers to stars whose brightness varies just enough to be detectable to the naked eye. That’s about 0.1 magnitude or even a little less. Recent advances, however, have made it possible to study stars with considerably smaller variability.

    Mid-life main-sequence stars like the sun tend not to be variable except on very small scales. The amplitude of solar variability throughout the 11-year solar (Schwabe) cycle is about 1 W/m^2 out of a total luminosity about 1360 W/m^2, which amounts to full amplitude of about 0.001 magnitude (1 millimag, or mmag). There are greater variations from day to day, but I don’t think those are necessarily relevant climatologically?

    Detecting mmag-scale variations is very difficult. You need an extremely precise photometer (CCD cameras are the thing these days) and you have to account for the brightness of the sky itself (which at this level can be profound). Then there are all kinds of instrumental issues, not just for the CCD camera but for the optics (telescope), and one must be aware of the passband being monitored.

    I did a quick literature search some years ago for the level of variability in solar-type (G2 main sequence) stars, and only found a smattering of information which, frankly, wasn’t very conclusive. So I’m not really sure what’s typical variability for solar-type stars. It’s more than zero, but it’s not very large, and it depends on the time scale being considered. Precise photometry for solar-type stars over long time spans is scarce indeed.

    I haven’t checked, but maybe the best source of information would be from photometric survey satellites. I’d guess that the Kepler satellite would be your best bet. That raises another issue, namely, have the data been reduced in order to answer the question? I know Kepler has been used for extremely precise photometry in order to identify exoplanets (which is really hard). But, it’s easier to detect quick variations (the transit of an exoplanet) than slow ones (less problem with instrumental drift etc.). I wonder, have the data for solar-type stars without exoplanets been studied? I don’t know.

    Since Gavin is one of the authors of that paper, he probably knows a great deal more about this than I. Any information you can share? Maybe a post on the topic?

  559. tamino:

    Re: Variable Stars

    It occurs to me that my last comment was probably barking up the wrong tree.

    The paper is concerned with (among other things) possible response to variations in earth’s orbital inclination. Those variations happen on a time scale of around 100,000 years. So there’s not really any hope of direct measurements of the variability of solar-type stars on that time scale.

    I wonder, is the photometric variability estimated from stellar models? By the way, such models don’t have to be computer models, they can be purely mathematical models and many stellar (pun intended) results can be found analytically rather than numerically (astronomers were at this long before there were computers).

    I’ve often thought (but don’t have hard evidence to back it up) that the clear response of climate to earth’s orbital/obliquity cycles argues strongly for the constancy of the sun on such time scales. Climate response to obliquity forcing is established at least as far back as 5 million years, but it seems to me that the influence of obliquity changes is small enough, that if solar variability were substantial it would overwhelm the influence of obliquity variations. Does anybody know?


    [Response: The Vieira et al paper linked to above is an exploration of how variability in a star (or the sun) is seen as a function of the orbital inclination of a planet. Since the variance associated with sunspots and the like is latitudinally variable (i.e. different at the solar poles, than at the solar mid latitude and and at the solar equator), the variance in total solar irradiance at a constant distance from the sun depends on the angle between the orbital plane and the sun’s equator. e.g. if you are always facing the solar pole, you will see a different solar cycle in TSI than if you are facing the equator. This has implications for the detection of variability in stars, and since the Earth’s orbital plane itself varies (on roughly 100,000 year timescales) it has an implication for the modulation of solar activity on Earth as well. It turns out to be an order of magnitude smaller than the variations related to eccentricity on the same timescale, so it probably isn’t a detectable effect in the climate record, but it was interesting to think about. – gavin]

  560. David B. Benson:

    tamino @558 — That was prompt and most informative! Thank you.

  561. sidd:

    Review in Nature Geoscience, last two glacial terminations.


    presents a picture of land based icesheets responding immediately and linearly at their southern margin to insolation, while marine based ice sheets seem to show a lag and then abrupt collapse. I believe we are seeing the first in GRIS, let us hope the lag in the second (WAIS) will be long enuf for some preparation.

    “For the lagged-nonlinear model, the Barents-Kara Ice Sheet may have taken several millennia to fully collapse, a significantly longer period than present concerns over future eustatic sea-level rise. However, the final collapse of the marine portion of the Laurentide Ice Sheet at ~8.2 kyr ago occurred in less than 130 years and raised eustatic sea level 0.8–2.2 m, which is a timescale of more importance to global society.”


  562. Patrick 027:

    cont. from
    tentative outline (note a part B has been added since then)
    non-internet sources
    beginning of PART A
    correction and end of PART A

    PART B – first installment

    ORBIT: 2 Body problem (not relativistic)

    Reduced mass:

    µ = (m1*m2)/(m1 + m2) when m2 >> m1, µ ≈ m1

    Elliptical orbit, polar coordinates (with focus at the origin)

    r1 = a1*( 1 – ε^2) / [ 1 + ε*cos(φ) ] (B.1)

    where r1 is the distance of a mass m1 from the origin, and φ is the angle from periapsis (perigee, perihelion, etc.).

    a1 is the semimajor axis of m1’s orbit. ε is the eccentricity.

    b1^2 = a1^2 * ( 1 – ε^2) , where b1 is the semiminor axis

    The area is
    π*a1*b1 = π * a1^2 * √( 1 – ε^2) (B.2)

    (solve for φ at r1 = a1 to prove that a1 is the distance from the focus to the intersection with the minor axis (given that a1*ε is the distance from the center of the ellipse to a focus), then use the pythagorean theorem to find b1)

    See p.726-727 of (5) for some of the physics. For the orbit of mass m1 about mass m2, If m2 is held at the origin, then

    r1 = (L1/m1)^2/(G*m2) * 1/[ 1 + ε*cos(φ) ] (B.3)

    where L1 is the angular momentum of m1 about the origin; L1 is constant. G is the gravitational constant.


    a1*( 1 – ε^2) = (L1/m1)^2/(G*m2) (B.4),

    Noting that m2 will also accelerate toward m1, we put the CM of m1 and m2 at the origin. Then the distance between them is r = r1+r2, where m1*r1 = m2*r2. The same proportionality holds for a1 and a2, and acceleration (because the forces are equal and opposite), which must be determined by using r instead of r1 in the formula for gravitational acceleration. This results in replacing m2 with m2^3 / (m1 + m2)^2 in the formula for r1 above (B.3), and (B.4), and swapping m1 and a1 for m2 and a2 and vice versa gives the formula for r2.

    m1 and m2 orbit in ellipses with semimajor axes a1 and a2, with the same eccentricity, and they are at the same φ at the same time (φ is the angle from periapsis for each one, which they reach at the same time; but they are on opposite sides of the origin at all times).

    L1 and L2 are the angular momentum of each mass about the origin, K1 and K2 are their kinetic energies, where at periapsis and apoapsis, when the velocity is at right angles to r1, 2*K1 = (L1/r1)^2/m1, etc. for 2*K2.

    For the orbit, L = L1+L2 and K = K1+K2; also, let a = a1 + a2. V is the potential energy, and equals G*m1*m2/r. The total energy E = V+K is conserved and only need be computed at apoapsis (apogee, aphelion, etc.) or periapsis.

    from the relationship between r1 and r2 and physics:

    L1 = (m2/m1)*L2 (B.5a), L = L1*(1 + m1/m2) = L1*(m1+m2)/m2 (B.5b)

    a1 = (m2/m1)*a2 (B.6a), a = a1*(m1+m2)/m2 (B.6b)

    Putting it all together and doing a lot of algebra:

    E = -G*m1*m2/(2*a) , a = -G*m1*m2/(2*E) (B.7a,b)

    L = √[(G*m1*m2*µ)*a*(1 – ε^2)] = G*m1*m2 * √[(1 – ε^2) * µ/(-2*E)] (B.8)

    ε^2 = 1 + (2*E/µ)*[L/(G*m1*m2)]^2

    = 1 + 2*(E*L^2) / [µ*(G*m1*m2)^2] (B.9)

    When E is negative, ε^2 is less than 1 and the orbit is an ellipse (or circle); thus a gain in energy is a reduction of |E|. When E is positive, ε^2 > 1 and the trajectories are hyperbolas. Reversing the sign of ε only changes the orientation of the orbit.

    The area swept out by r1 per unit time is equal to ½ * r1^2 * dφ/dt , and this is equal to ½ * L1/m1 (B.10), which is constant. Thus, where T is the period of the orbit,

    T * ½ * L1/m1 = π * a1^2 * √( 1 – ε^2) = area of ellipse of m1’s orbit (B.11a)

    With some algebra and substitutions (putting in terms of L and a):

    T = 2*π * a^2/L * µ * √( 1 – ε^2) (B.11b)

    T = 2*π * a^(3/2) * √µ / √(G*m1*m2) (B.12)

    T = 2*π * (G*m1*m2) * √µ / (-2*E)^(3/2) (B.13)


    The elliptical orbit can be described with

    r = a*( 1 – ε^2) / [ 1 + ε*cos(φ) ] (B.14)

    which gives the position of m1 relative to m2.

    Note that the energy for a closed (elliptical or circular) orbit is negative.

    Positive E gives a hyperbolic orbit with |ε| > 1.


    Orbit time averages:

    From (B.10):

    r1^2 * dφ/dt = constant = 2*d(Area1)/dt, where Area1 refers to the area of the ellipse of m1’s orbit.

    because r/r1 = constant, and area is proportional to the square of the semimajor axis (for a given ε),

    r^2 * dφ/dt = constant = 2*d(Area)/dt, (B.15)

    where Area is the area of the ellipse described by (B.14),

    Area = π * a^2 * √( 1 – ε^2) (B.16)

    Preparing (B.15) for integration:

    r^2 * dφ = 2*d(Area) (B.17)

    The integral is equal to 2*Area. Because the integrand is proportional to time, a time averaged value of a quantity q can be found by multiplying q by (B.17), integrating over φ from 0 to 2*π, and dividing by 2*Area.


    The average value of 1/r^2 is (1/r^2)ave = 1/[a^2 * √( 1 – ε^2)] (B.18)

    The average value of 1/r^3 is (1/r^3)ave = 1/[a^3 * ( 1 – ε^2)^(3/2)] (B.19)

    The average value of 1/r^6 is (1/r^6)ave = (1 + 3*ε^2 + 3*(ε^4)/8) / [a^6 * ( 1 – ε^2)^(9/2)] (B.20)

    to be cont.

  563. Patrick 027:

    re Hank Roberts – thanks (aquifer info)

  564. sidd:

    First, thank you Mr. Patrick for review of orbit under gravity. Can we have a separate thread for Mr. Patrick/orbital math, and suggest MathML, TeX, or gif/png for equations. Or perhaps Mr. Patrick could get a math friendly blog platform ?


  565. Hank Roberts:

    “… variability in … the sun …. turns out to be an order of magnitude smaller than the variations related to eccentricity on the same timescale, so it probably isn’t a detectable effect in the climate record, but it was interesting to think about. – gavin]”

    Having wondered ever since I read Niven’s “Inconstant Moon”, that’s rather a relief.

    We may be toast, but we’re doing it ourselves.

  566. Patrick 027:

    re 564 sidd – that was an outgrowth of an ealier discussion of how Earth’s obliquity varies over time. I know those equations (the orbit) are among the hardest to read in this format (it was a big pain to proofread, too); most others will be much easier. The purpose of having them there was to be able to refer back to them later if necessary (it’s reference) (the last bit in that comment provides a basis for two things: showing (I think) that the eccentricity of an orbit will generally (or at least in some cases?) only have a weak (if any?) cummulative effect on obliquity, and also showing how eccentricity affects global annual average TOA insolation). See the first link at the top of that comment for an idea of where I was going with all that.

    PS really interesting stuff about stellar variability and ice sheet collapse, thanks (Hank Roberts, tamino, Gavin, sidd). From a recent “How the Universe Works” episode, I found out that red dwarfs can be quite variable with big flare-ups.

  567. dhogaza:

    Evan Jones has begun a dialogue on the revisions to the Watts, Jones, et al. paper which “proved” that the warming trend in the lower 48 is only half that claimed by scientists.

    Here’s a chance to engage him on the subject outside the heavily-moderated, insulated environment of WUWT.

  568. Patrick 027:

    cont. from
    tentative outline (note a part B has been added since then)
    non-internet sources
    beginning of PART A
    correction and end of PART A
    PART B – beginning

    PART B – second installment

    potentially useful relationships (such as in integrating):

    1/(1-x) = ∑[ x^n ] (B.21)

    1/(1-x)^2 = ∑[ (n+1) * x^n ] (B.22)

    1/(1-x)^3 = ½ * ∑[ { (n+1)^2 + (n+1) } * x^n ] (B.23)

    where the sums are from n = 0 to ∞.

    (B.21) can be found by letting 1 + y = 1/(1-x). Solving for y: y = x/(1-x) = x*(1+y). Etc.
    The easiest way to find (B.22) and (B.23) is to picture the multiplication as a stacking of squares and then boxes, and calculating a length or area that contains the number of squares or boxes with the same power of x. Practice visualization in higher dimensions by finding 1/(1-x)^4.


    ORBIT (cont.)

    …and orbital forcing:

    For the Earth-Sun orbit (technically (Earth-Moon)-Sun orbit), TOA insolation is proportional to 1/r^2
    Therefore global annual average TOA insolation is proportional to 1/√( 1 – ε^2) (from (B.18)).

    Relative to ε=0, ε=0.06 increases the time average of (1/r^2) by about 0.18049 %. (In terms of climatic effects, the effects of eccentricity, obliquity, and precession on latitudinal and seasonal redistribution of TOA insolation are more important; eccentricity modulates the effect of the precession cycle.)

    ——- ——–
    PART C

    Frames of reference

    An inertial frame of reference doesn’t rotate and moves at constant velocity. The laws of physics are the same in any such reference frame.

    In a frame of reference that is accelerating (including via rotation), objects experience ‘fictitious forces’, which account for the difference between the description of motion in an accelerating coordinate system and that in an inertial coordinate system.

    Following the notation of (1), Let

    dA/dt = the rate of change of A in an inertial reference frame and let

    δA/δt = the rate of change in a particular accelerating coordinate system.

    From the first part of chapter 7 of (1)

    If a vector r is rotating about the origin with angular velocity ω, the velocity of r is

    dr/dt = ω×r (C.1)

    Noting that A = ∑Ai*xi (C.2),

    dA/dt = δA/δt + ω×A (C.3)

    (C.3) is the first derivative of (C.2). (When proving this, remember to take the derivatives of xi and use (C.1) to simplify the second term on the right.)

    First substituting r = A in (C.3) to find dr/dt, and then substituting dr/dt = A in (C.3), evaluating, and solving for δ^2r/δt^2 :

    δ^2(r)/δt^2 (the acceleration in the rotating frame of reference)


    d^2(r)/dt^2 (the acceleration in an inertial frame of reference)
    −δω/δt × r (the azimuthal acceleration, due to rate of change of ω)
    −2*ω × δr/δt (the coriolis acceleration, very important in the atmosphere, ocean, and outer core of Earth)
    ω×(ω×r) (the centrifugal acceleration)


    The coefficient of 2 for the coriolis acceleration is due to it being the sum of two identical terms, each originating from evaluation of two other parts of the expression.

    Multiplying (C.4) by mass, the last three terms become the azimuthal, coriolis, and centrifugal forces – these are fictitious forces.

    There is one more fictitious force, which can be found by considering the acceleration Acceleration of the origin of the rotating coordinate system (relative to an inertial coordinate system). If (C.4) were solved for d^2(r)/dt^2 (on the left-hand side), then Acceleration would just be added as another term on the right-hand side. Thus there is a fourth fictitious force, equal to

    −mass*Acceleration (the translational force). (add to left-hand side of C.4)

    The centrifugal acceleration is directed away from the axis of rotation and has a magnitude of ω^2 * r_n, where r_n is the distance from the axis of rotation.

    Note that δω/δt = dω/dt (from (C.3), noting that the cross product of a vector with itself is 0).

    ——— ———


    If an object is in free-fall, then its acceleration is equal to the gravitational acceleration at its location, due to all other masses. We can take a non-rotating coordinate system that is in free-fall at its origin, so that the translational acceleration is equal and opposite to the the graviational acceleration g0 at the origin. We can then treat this coordinate system as an inertial coordinate system in a gravitational acceleration field equal to the field in the inertial frame of reference minus g0 (it’s okay – Einstein says so).

    But the gravitational acceleration g varies in space, so in general, there will be a gravitational acceleration experienced in the coordinate system that is equal to

    g‘ = gg0 (C.5).

    When only including the externally imposed gravitational field (not that of an object in free-fall with this frame of reference), g‘ is the tidal acceleration.

    Considering the gravity at a location r = [x,y,z] exerted by a mass m at location Rm = [Rm,0,0],

    g = G*m * (Rm-r) / |Rm-r|^3 (C.6)

    It is helpful to rewrite (C.6) as

    g = G*m*[ Rm-x , −y , −z ] / {(Rm-x)^2 + y^2 + z^2}^(3/2) (C.7)

    Take the derivatives of g with respect to x, y, and z. Evaluate those derivatives at (0,0,0). At (0,0,0), the derivatives with respect to x, y, and z, are 2*x*G*m / Rm^3 , –y*G*m / Rm^3 , and –z*G*m / Rm^3 , respectively. Multiplying by x, y, and z, respectively, gives a linearly approximation of g‘.

    g‘ ≈ [2*x,−y,−z] * G*m / Rm^3 (C.8)

    In this linear approximation, the tidal force on a mass is proportional to its coordinates in each direction. Thus the sum of tidal forces on a system is zero if the origin is at the system’s CM. Hence the Earth-Moon system’s CM (barycenter) is in free-fall (in an elliptical orbit in this case) about the Sun, approximately.

    This linear approximation fails if Rm is not much larger than r or if Rm is smaller than r. In general, the acceleration of the CM of a spherically-symmetric mass distribution will equal g at it’s location; otherwise the CM of a system may not be in free fall, though some point that moves with the system will be.

    End of part C.

    Part 1 is next. Finally.

  569. Ron R.:

    Re: my post 29 Aug 2012 at 3:31 AM, I’m back from the lake and the pines. I looked at my two “rain trees” up close, even climbing one, and saw not a sign of aphids or ants. Again, they look clean and normal (to my inexpert eye). If it were aphids I am pretty sure that the branches and leaves would be covered in soot. The honeydew sticks to everything, trapping dirt, dust etc. If the mist coming from them are water droplets however it would evaporate.

    There are other gray pines nearby and, except for one about 40′ away which has some sort of issue with branch die back, they looked equally healthy.

    Still I am not an expert so I could still be wrong. It’s possible that the aphids are gone at the moment. Yet I’ve seen this phenomenon on these two trees for years now. At this point I consider the mist that falls from these trees an interesting mystery. As it is not occurring now will have to wait until the next time I see it to again look closer. In the meantime if anyone has any other thoughts It would be appreciated.

    [Response:No, it’s not due to aphids. Questions: (1) is it seasonal or diurnal in nature, and (2) is it only exhibited by these two particular trees?–Jim]

  570. Ron R.:

    Hi Jim. It seems to be seasonal coming during the wet times. I assumed that the trees were taking in water from a high water table near the river, then as the river dries and the table lowers they stop misting. I’m sorry not to have kept records. Anyway I’ve noticed it during the day, any time of the day, morning & evening. I can see where others might miss it however as the mist is, while numerically abundant, is individually light in mass. Again I assume it goes on at night as well but I honestly have not looked. Perhaps it’s also dependent on temps.

    I looked online to see if there is anything similar in the world of trees. Saw mention of “rain trees” in other parts of the world. Samanea saman. Apparently the leaves curl up when they detect rain coming. Interesting but not the same thing.


    One of these two trees has a largish, perhaps a foot in diameter round prominence about mid way up on the main trunk which looks like an injury. Sap is found at the edges. Does that sound like gall wasp? Rather large if so. Anyway, it’s only one of them and I don’t see any connection. Unfortunately someone, I assume an equestrian, decided recently to lop off some of the lower branches of both trees even though they were barely intruding on the wide trail. I don’t think cutting off beaches on evergreens, like pines, is like cutting them off deciduous trees. It seems to injure them more, but that’s just a personal notion.

    Yes, I have seen it happen on other gray pines at the lake as well but not to the extent that these two mist. Again, I haven’t taken a thorough look. The next time I see it happening will take a closer look and notes.

  571. Ron R.:

    I don’t think cutting off beaches on evergreens, like pines, is like cutting them off deciduous trees.

    Should be branches. Got to figure out a way to turn off this self-correcting program, or proofread better.

    On a separate subject I am wondering about the possibility of hurricanes along California during the Miocene. Not only was it much more tropical, but there was a warm, shallow (200 – 600 ft) deep inland sea. This sea may may also have been warmed from below by volcanic activity at places along the coast the time. There was massive upwelling (Monterey formation) and a strong inland breeze. Hurricanes or other sea sprites?