This month’s open thread. Try to keep it at least vaguely focused on climate science…!
Re 637: Just so, dhogaza. In the end, the likes of Dan H. will 1) blame scientists for having not been clear enough and 2) enthusiastically embrace geoengineering. Good luck to us all.
Could any of the RC folks, David if possible, comment on the latest methane hydrate business? TIA.
This link has an ‘Environment’ tab that, at its top line, projects global warming of 14 degrees C (whatever that may mean to them). I boggled. There’s a clickable explanation. It didn’t. http://www.poodwaddle.com/clocks/worldclock/
Scientists Denounce Dubious Climate Study by Insurer
By Axel Bojanowski
Whether it’s hurricanes, thunderstorms or tornadoes, extreme weather is big business for insurers. Now German re-insurer Munich Re claims to have found proof that man-made climate change is causing more weather catastrophes in North America. Scientists are outraged. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/scientists-denounce-dubious-climate-study-by-insurer-munich-re-a-862857.html
Apparently the Scientist here is Roger “Straw men” Pielke Jr., someone with a doctorate in political science,
Compare thee two graphics, which are both from pro-AGW sites: this and this
How come one claims that 93% CO2 ends up in oceans, the other one says its only 24%. I see one talks about CO2 and the other about GHG, but it shouldnt change that much really, should it?
[Response: you've got confused. The first graph is, as you state, about the sources and sinks of human caused CO2, but the second one is about the excess energy that has accumulated over the last 50 years as a result (mainly) of the rise in greenhouse gases. It is a measure of the consequence of planetary energy imbalance, not the fate of CO2 molecules. - gavin]
Here’s the Nature letter on methane hydrate destabilization off the east coast of North America that Steve Bloom referred to above (#652):
Recent changes to the Gulf Stream causing widespread gas hydrate destabilization
Carbon Quilt’s video of NYC’s CO2 emissions made the Guardian: New York’s carbon emissions visualised – as giant spheres. It assumes a CO2 density of 1.87 kg/m3 at 59ºF, standard pressure. That’s a big pile of spheres. More visualizations here.
Anyone see this? –
The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks
Dan Kahan et al.
Nature Climate Change, October 2012, Pages 732–735
Abstract: Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.
On the general failure of the “creative disruption” notion that if you have enough money, the rules won’t matter — a caution that guy who dumped all that iron sulfate into the Pacific didn’t get.
I hope rich people with notions about geoengineering take this to heart.
Walt, I think many of us have seen it, and in particular the abuse of that paper by the usual suspects.
Anybody know what’s up with SkepticalScience? I keep getting “Connection Refused”.
Kahan’s study is old news. What he considers “scientifically literate” doesn’t even come up to the level of passing a high school science class. While it is true that the majority of the lay population are even more ignorant than that, his “scientifically literate” subgroup is anything but.
It is merely a reminder that you can send stupidity to college.
Hey Gavin, how do you feel about hosting scary science fiction/ghost stories?
Especially short term “could it happen next week?!” fiction?
I’m imagining a late season hurricane’s 16-foot storm surge combined with a full moon high tide/low tide cycle destabilizing the methane clathrates offshore of New Jersey, lightning setting the gas afire, and a storm moving inland pouring boiling water and boullabaise on the refineries ….
I suppose there isn’t that much methane. But hey, it’s Hallowe’en ….
Steve Bloom @652 — Until the warming surpasses the Eemian Interglacial maximum [also MIS 11(?) 13(?0) maximum] I see no cause for concern.
I know you really wanted David Archer to answer this and he has a RealClimate post about it back aways.
Re 664 David B. Benson -
Not to suggest I know that much about how much CH4 is down there or anywhere, but I wouldn’t automatically assume that you’d have to surpass the last high temperature to get significant releases. Clue: define ‘last’. Some C reservoirs are slowly restocked, right? (There’s methanogenesis in the sediments, right?).
Re wili – I’ve basically said some of this before but this may be helpful:
I was thinking about why Chu would say something like we lose control when feedbacks get so large (caution: it’s now been several days and his exact word choice has faded from my mind; I’m now going by the discusssion that followed). If it were a true runaway – albeit a Chuvian one (as I initially understood that term) – then in one sense we do lose control of the situation, but in another sense we have much larger control – at one specific point – that there is some step in the cummulative emissions (over a given time, if/when/however that may matter) which has a rather larger effect than those steps before or after. We have great control when our trajectory reaches that point and we choose to adjust it ever so slightly. Our loss of control would come from uncertainty in knowing where that point is, and a percieved loss of control would come from surpassing that point, and now having to deal with the fact that we have some distance in the reverse direction to get back to a point where we could have such great control again.
Another perception of loss of control perhaps comes from delayed feedbacks – even if not runaway. If the equilibrium temperature including delayed/slow-acting/slow-evolving/slow-changing feedbacks (delayed relative to the time scale given by the heat capacity of the upper ocean, etc.) varies as a continuous function of externalally controlled emissions, then there is no runaway, but it may feel like a loss of control when the climate continues to change (in the same direction) when emissions have stopped or have otherwise slowed down to keep forcing (excluding feedback net emissions aside from the negative net emission feedback we have become accustomed to) constant – specifically that it continues to change more and for longer than what would be expected from surface and deep ocean heat capacity.
“but it may feel like a loss of control when the climate continues to change”
Well indeed it is, in a temporal way – we can’t steer the climate on a dime, and slow feedbacks would tend to increase our turning radius (perhaps all the more important to take your foot off the accelerator?).
659 Hank R said, “I hope rich people with notions about geoengineering take this to heart.”
There isn’t much wiggle room for private geoengineering (GE). It’s like 9/11. Boxcutters can guide a plane or two into a big target only once. Iron-man may or may not get swatted, but a repeat performance is unlikely. We’re going to lock the cockpit door.
2012′s sea ice min indicates that there’s a reasonable chance that we’ll have to choose between deploying GE or going ice free by 2020, perhaps changing the US drought into a permanent national emergency. We may have “no choice” but to implement GE within five or ten years. That’s cutting things close. We’ve got to start testing now, especially since an experiment could take years to design, choose, run, and interpret.
I predict that many AGW warriors will follow the path of denialists by preventing progress as long as possible.
Re #664: Which I of course read carefully, David. This is new data. Re your lack of concern, I’ll have to disagree. Speed kills.
Secular, all power to your suggestion. I still think the mass populace in North America is science starved, not use to hear correct science, can’t make up a difference between a charlatan contrarian like Singer as opposed to the real thing. I would suggest a rapid response about Hurricane Sandy, as opposed to waiting for the peer reviewed papers, which will come anyways. The hurricane path so late in October is of great interest, and there is a huge demand for correct analysis, so the populace will listen to anyone with an opinion, and I am certain the TV weather presenters will not cover anything remotely as interesting as the real reasons why this Hurricane is making an appearance during the US elections. Weather is everyones subject. But adequate prognosis, and thorough break down is just as rare as the path to the NE coast so late in the hurricane season. There is a time when scientists have a willing to listen audience, don’t blow this opportunity guys.
> deploying GE or going ice free by 2020
Deploying GE is like sprinkling fairy dust — in theory, it works great and wondrous changes making what we wish for happen.
If we knew how to control climate — besides turning the big control knob, of course — we’d have done it.
“Anything but the IPCC” is the theme.
re Hank Roberts – I thought Fe fertilization was an attempt to grasp the big control knob.
It took a little while for me to answer. Had to see a man about a saxophone. I took your code and implemented it and got identical results with the equation 3. implementation that I did. They are not the same. my integrand is dF/dt*R while yours is F*dR/dt with hopefully something backwards to make the sign work out. I’m pretty sure they are related through integration by parts.
I also used my implementation to break up a quick land response from a slow ocean response to see if the change in sign of the derived temperature derivative coming at a place where it is not intersecting the instantaneous temperature might be explained by the derived temperature being an average. That does not explain the issue.
So, as Patrick in #635 points out, there is a problem.
670 Hank R said, “Deploying GE is like sprinkling fairy dust — in theory, it works great and wondrous changes making what we wish for happen.”
You and I have completely different views on GE. In theory it sucks, kind of like chemotherapy. Poison, plain and simple. It’s unwise to put yourself in a position where injecting poison is necessary. It’s stupid to refuse to test the effects/dosage/techniques for using the poison you’ll inevitably require.
Fairy dust is the person who says, “If we hadn’t done what we did (or maybe if we do what we won’t), then we might have avoided the need for GE. Although there is little possibility that GE won’t be required, learning about GE is immoral. It is much better to sit back and watch the biosphere die.”
Yeah, those against GE are like somebody visiting a cancer patient and telling them to not do radiation because it would have been better to just not have started smoking years ago.
Chris Dudley: So if I understand you correctly, there’s a problem with equation 3, i.e. with Hansen’s model, and we’ve both replicated it more or less independently. An unexpected situation to say the least. What should we do about it? Should we send him an email?
Patrick 027 @665 & Steve Bloom @668 — Yes, rate matters. In particular methane accumulation rate matters. There is a relatively modest (many gigatonnes) accumulation since the Eemian interglacial at the immediately relevant depths.
To put into perspective, consider the accumulation further south during the glacial spanning from the Eemian interglacial to the Holocene interglacial. With colder water temperatures, methyl clathrates formed on sea floors in (then) relatively shallow waters off the east coasts of both North and South America. Check to see just how much surface area was available. Off course there was even more in the shallow seaways roughly between Japan and China but I know little about that part of the world.
However, there is an absolutely spectacular (and large) methyl clathrate blowout off the coast of North Carolina and there are still some, on occasion, around the Bermudas. By analogy similar blowouts ought to be readily findable along the South American continental shelf, but I haven’t looked for geology papers about that region.
So the methane released during the LGM to Holocene transition was fairly large, but somehow doesn’t seem to have much of a published literature.
What is of concern is what happens when the waters warm at even greater depths, waters not warmed enough to release during prior interglacials, where there are (presumably) vast quantities of methyl clathrates.
We Broke the Climate Silence! http://www.wearepowershift.org/blogs/we-broke-climate-silence
I’m still thinking about that. I’d like to find a function that only depends on the current difference between the instantaneous temperature and the actual temperature that can reproduce the CRF, at least the intermediate one that seems to separate into two behaviors. It is nice to have a fix before raising the problem.
There isn’t any that will reduce CO2 better than using less.
That’s why I’m “agin’ it” — it doesn’t exist.
We know what the problem is: rate of change.
Change too fast.
Re Chris Korda and 672 Chris Dudley
Actually, I thought about it and having oceanic circulation does allow this behavior (that the surface temperature can decline when forcing is declining even while it is still less than the equilibrium temperature) – it makes sense because the deep ocean may still be pulling the surface temperature toward a much lower temperature. I followed my own suggestions, put those equations into a spreadsheet – using 9 subsurface thermal reservoirs – and I found that behavior.
Of course, slow feedbacks could have the opposite effect, I’d expect.
Dan H @628 – your statement isn’t true:
The way I see it, Dan H’s “side” hasn’t even come close to “winning.” As a matter of fact, they are destined to lose. I’m certainly not waiting around until someone else fixes the problem.
This is probably a very basic question but can someone please help me understand what the confidence range in these graphs mean?
Is there a range because of possible measurement errors?
#676–Thanks, Pro. Added that as an update to my article (rant) on the topic:
Indeed Hank. The rate of change is not only unprecedented, it is unprecedented in the earth history. Never before entered Co2 in a shorter time frame the atmosphere. And at the same time we altered the entire chemistry of the atmospheric composition profoundly, with Ozone depleting agents or Aerosols, which act both ways when reflecting infrared light.
So when in the past extinction events, Co2 concentration and following large methane excursion took place it took a considerable time and it is highly likely that we experience this time a much fast feedback from the climate system.
How fast can the ocean swell? How fast will temperature track Co2? How fast will methane make a real contribution to the global carbon budget?
And ultimately, how fast are we and all the other species able to adapt to the new extremes.
Jim Larsen wrote: “Yeah, those against GE are like somebody visiting a cancer patient and telling them to not do radiation because it would have been better to just not have started smoking years ago.”
Geoengineering is a fraud. Using your medical analogy, it is a quack remedy being peddled by quack doctors. GE is not radiation or chemo — it’s Laetrile. There is no evidence whatsoever that any of the geoengineering schemes being discussed will work to slow warming, let alone slow ocean acidification, most of them would likely have serious negative side-effects, and moreover there is very little realistic possibility that any of them could even be implemented.
It’s interesting that you keep pushing geoengineering while at the same time disparaging, rejecting, ignoring and otherwise expressing extreme negativity towards the multiple, readily implementable plans that have been put forward by multiple independent organizations and academic researchers, as well as government agencies, for rapidly phasing out CO2 emissions from fossil fuels using benign technologies that we have at hand now.
Geoengineering is a fraud
Can you explain the geoengineering ‘fraud’ in units of watts per square meter please, because ppm/yr is not working out for me. Thanks in advance.
SecualrAnimist, how should we categorize Biochar then? This type of carbon sequestration is a form of engineering earth atmosphere.
TLE, ocean pH.
Not watts per square inch.
678 hank said, “GE There isn’t any that will reduce CO2 better than using less.
That’s why I’m “agin’ it” — it doesn’t exist.”
I can’t imagine a GE technique that would reduce CO2, probably because I don’t include CO2 reduction schemes as GE, but as “spewing CO2 at a net lower rate”
684 SecularA said, “There is no evidence whatsoever ”
Obviously you’ve never read anything about volcanos’ effect on global temperature. If you had, you’d know that there is absolute “proof” that GE will work. We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.
Yep, the chemotherapy analogy isn’t robust in that chemotherapy is used to cure while GE is used to mask symptoms long enough to allow for other methods to cure. GE will technically make AGW and ocean acidification worse. It will also allow for evil and/or ignorant folks to claim AGW is “solved”.
That last bit is the only negative I can find for studying GE. Given the absolute rock-solid stance of “everybody” on this site that scientific research is by definition good, I’m amazed at how “everybody” is not saying, but blindly screaming (ie, it’s emotional in such an extreme that the mind becomes impervious to logic) that studying GE is evil, evil, EVILLLLLLL…..
SecularA, I’ve been a huge advocate for the quick elimination of carbon pollution. That I think it is logical to set a 50 year path to zero while you choose 15 years is not a good reason for you to disparage me. Stop it.
Frankly, your comments have no scientific basis at all. Actually, they’re completely illogical. 15 years at 2ppm is 30ppm. Divide by 2 for a linear reduction, and we’re talking 15ppm under your plan. Show how 15ppm makes “the” difference. How can you say we haven’t already gone past the point of “way badness”? How can you say 50ppm (my plan) – 15ppm (your plan) = 35ppm makes “the” difference? Where on God’s Green Earth did you get the idea that 15ppm is a magical number?
Jim, citations needed.
So far your examples are typical of the leverage points tha Donella Meadows talked about, where a
> “small shift in one thing can produce big changes
> in everything”…. we need to know about these shifts,
> where they are and how to use them…. most people
> know where these points are instinctively, but tend
> to adjust them in the wrong direction.
Worst current example I know of is the “Methane Emergency” PR for this:
Jim Larsen wrote: “Obviously you’ve never read anything about volcanos’ effect on global temperature. If you had, you’d know that there is absolute ‘proof’ that GE will work. We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.”
Nonsense. There is absolutely no evidence that any human-engineered GE scheme that has been proposed or considered can duplicate “volcanos’ effect on global temperature” in any sort of remotely controlled way, let alone “set global temperature like a thermostat”.
I have no interest in a personal argument and I am not “disparaging” you personally.
What I am saying is that it makes no sense at all to hand-wave at the effects of uncontrolled volcanic eruptions as “absolute proof” that geoengineering schemes “can work”, while promoting a gradual 50-year phaseout of GHG emissions (which is too slow to have any hope of preventing catastrophic outcomes) as “logical” (whatever that means) and ignoring the multiple studies that show we can easily phase out emissions in a fraction of that time with the proven technologies that are already at hand.
prokaryotes wrote: “SecualrAnimist, how should we categorize Biochar then? This type of carbon sequestration is a form of engineering earth atmosphere.”
I do believe that research has shown that sequestration of CO2 in soils and biomass through organic agriculture (including the use of biochar) and reforestation (which must of course begin with ending deforestation) can draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 and I think it is urgent that we start doing that — it’s as urgent as ending CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible.
I don’t categorize organic agriculture and reforestation as “geoengineering”. And from what I have read, that’s consistent with the way the term “geoengineering” is generally used, including the way the term is used by advocates of GE.
Calling organic agriculture “geoengineering” seems to me rather like referring to composting as “biotechnology”.
“Given the absolute rock-solid stance of “everybody” on this site that scientific research is by definition good” – Jim Larsen
Can you show that anyone at all has said any such thing here? I certainly don’t believe anything of the kind. Scientific research may be unethical (Tuskegee syphilis experiment mean anything to you?), or it may be a waste of resources better used elsewhere, or it may, as you note yourself, allow ignorant or evil people to make unfounded claims.
> We can set global temperature like the thermostat in our house.
Indication that you’re doing it wrong:
Changing the thermostat in your house
both changes your temperature and
starts to dissolve your skeleton.
Re Jim Larsen, Secular Animist, Hank Roberts – (see prokaryotes @ 686) – The geoengineering idea last brought up (besides @ 686) was Fe fertilization. I don’t know how well it could work, but the idea is to increase the organic C sequestration, isn’t it? So it’s (hypothetically?) a little bit like biochar in that way. Although with Biochar, it’s hard not to know that you’re sequestering C because it’s in a visible lump when you do it (assuming there isn’t some negative soil C feedback to the biochar). These together are, aside for the organic state of the C, like the ideas of 1. injecting CO2 into (certain silicate) rocks to produce carbonate minerals 2. crushing rocks to artificially accelerate the silicate weathering process 3. doing the last one but spreading the dust over the ocean 4. either 2 or 3 but using carbonate minerals. You get more out of silicates (CO2 uptake and OA mitigation, I think (?)- the later directly by putting dust in the ocean (or erosion and river/wind transport there) or indirectly by taking up CO2 on land) but at least the carbonate dissolution could take the place of carbonate dissolution in the ocean (and be more rapid?) and should allow some greater CO2 uptake by the ocean. All of these, as well as CO2 sequestration as is (just taking CO2 and burying it in old oil reservoirs, aquifers, etc.), would be attempts to grasp the ‘big control knob’ (see Hank Roberts’ 670), and in such a way as to have the same or nearly the same (depending on seawater chemistry and how carbonate dissolution works in buffering pH relative to sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere) effect as reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
Among those choices as well as the rest including reducing fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc., one would want to find the cheapest/easiest, but also the most effective (the firmest grasp on that knob) and the safest/least negative side-effects- such as those you’d get from non-spatially/temporally-discrimating solar shades/cooling aerosols (precipitation changes, and ?, and ozone depletion with some aerosol methods). (Aerosols are also a springy knob – you’ve got to keep holding it until you don’t need it turned up anymore; the risk with that sort of grip on that sort of knob is that if you have it turned up high and then lose your grip on it you’ve got big problems quickly). Some of these are more desirable than others but we may want to do more than one.
> Fe fertilization …. to increase the organic C sequestration
An example Donella Meadows would have appreciated.
Now, what’s the best way to get more iron in the sea surface, without depleting the _next_ limiting feedstock for plankton growth, whatever that may be?
We could build a fleet of robotic submersibles that would dive deep down into the dark and capture organic material that contains iron that would otherwise settle to the bottom, and bring it up and digest it and release the iron into the brightly sunlit water where plankton require it. That would get the iron and whatever other materials the plankton needs. Make them capable of building new ones as they wear out.
Or we could quit pushing that lever the wrong way:
“…. Once there were more than 200,000 blue whales in the Antarctic Ocean alone, whereas today there are perhaps 8,000 in the whole world. Whatever they once provided has largely been lost, and restoring their populations might bring it back.”
SecularAnimist, i understand to make a distinction between the wide range of unproven geoengineering techniques and Biochar. But as what you suggest we should categorize it then? Farming the atmosphere?? Or Sustainable Geoengineering?
PS, watch who profits from proposed management approaches.
The Japanese whaling industry argued in 1994 that Blue whales weren’t recovering due to an excess of Minke whales, saying they needed to kill more of the Minkes to protect the Blues.
“The Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) was hunted to near extinction between 1904 and 1972, declining from an estimated initial abundance of more than 250,000 to fewer than 400.” http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0032579
Damn those Minke whales!
If it weren’t for them ….
But seriously — figure the amount of iron, and nitrogen, and — quite literally — all the other trace elements released into the photosynthetic zone by whales, since the whales have to surface to breathe. Figure what was lost.
If we hadn’t gone after the whales for oil before figuring out petroleum — and if we managed to invent machinery without whale oil — we might have a lot bigger CO2 sink working. I wonder how much bigger?
Next on the agenda, of course — plankton/krill harvesting, directly competing with the whales.
Wonder how that will work out?
690 SecularA said, “let alone “set global temperature like a thermostat”.”
HVAC thermostats available to the average guy control temp in full degrees. GE can do at least an order of magnitude better.
Yep, GE has dangers, all of which increase by rejecting GE. Take arctic sea ice. We KNOW that BAU will lead to its demise. We KNOW that said demise will have immense consequences to weather patterns. We have little confidence that even the impossible path of no emissions immediately will guarantee saving the ice. Trying to save sea ice with GE? Dunno what will happen, but betting that saving the ice is more dangerous than letting it die… well, that’s a fool’s bet. Deciding to not even study the issue, well, that’s criminally reckless.
693 Hank R said, “Indication that you’re doing it wrong: Changing the thermostat in your house both changes your temperature and starts to dissolve your skeleton.”
Indication that you’re doing it stupid: Your skeleton starts dissolving and you refuse to change the thermostat even though the doctor says your skeleton is heat-sensitive.
692 Nick G, yep, hyperbole is always wrong, and there are exceptions, which is why I used quotes. Some experiments are ethically wrong, such as Tuskegee, but Tuskegee is only about an experiment, not the question of whether to study syphilis. If you can come up with a significant number of people here who think studying STDs is wrong, then your point will be valid.
The problem with “geoengineering” is basically that we are using the aspects of climate that we understand least to try and control it. There are significant uncertainties in the effects of aerosols, as well as in biospheric uptake (especially wrt plankton, algae…). Injecting sulfate aerosols would have to be done continually, as they rain out fairly rapidly. We’re also swapping visible for IR, rather than reducing the IR we retain. Fe fertilization on a large scale could result in depletion of other resources in the ocean and alter the ecosystem.
In contrast, we have a pretty damned good idea how CO2 works. It would seem to me that we might want to try that first.
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