RealClimate logo

Unforced Variations: Nov 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 November 2012

I can’t think what people might want to talk about this month…

476 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2012”

  1. 251
    flxible says:

    “Speak to the real problem.”

    Hank, if you think the millions of small motors around [unnecessary, recreational, emissions-unregulated] are not a very real part of the problem you aren’t getting out enough. EPA regulations forced change in the design of PFC’s [portable fuel containers]. Who funds the Department of PFC design enforcement? No reason they can’t make small motors much better and much less mindlessly polluting. And who funds and staffs the “free” Department of Grass Clipping Collection, Transport, Screening, Bio-degradation, and Dispersal? Who funds all the Home Owners Associations in the US, and enforces their restrictive regulations?

    The exercise from home composting and push mowing could go a long way to reducing millions of pounds of excess fat as well, a great health care cost reduction. Or maybe we could turn all those Hostess Twinkie factories into composting facilities and put the 18,000 previous bakery workers back to work cooking up humus instead of junque food. ;)

  2. 252
    numerobis says:

    Here is a new World Bank study on the effects of 4C increase, which they mention has about a 20% probability under business-as-usual if governments keep to their current carbon intensity targets. They also mention that 2C is nigh-impossible to avoid, and that 0.8C (i.e. today) is already pretty bad.

  3. 253
    Superman1 says:

    Wili #248,

    “Meanwhile–Did anyone listen to the talk by Kevin Anderson? Any reactions?”

    He has presented these ideas in speeches and papers the last few years. His focus is combining climate science with policy, and he is one of the more realistic scientists in this regard. He is still somewhat optimistic in his numbers, since they don’t include the myriad positive feedback mechanisms we see in play today.

    Can the climate catastrophe inherent in his remarks be avoided? There are two major requirements for any proposed solution: technical feasibility and political/sociological feasibility. Technical feasibility requires an understanding of the targets that have to be achieved, and we don’t have those because of the inadequacy of present models to incorporate feedbacks properly. We know that two important components of technical feasibility will be terminating use of fossil fuel ASAP, and reforesting/afforesting as much as possible. But, if climate change is in the analogous situation of a combustion system where it is on the road to becoming self-sustaining, then any technical solution will also require taking proactive steps to quench the self-sustaining mechanisms. This will require some form of geoengineering. Doing this on a global scale, given the inadequacy of our models, is throwing the ultimate Hail Mary pass.

    But, even if we could do the above, we need to overcome the political/sociological issue hurdle. Many of the climate change blog owners and blog posters I have seen have this belief that if only the ‘truth’ about climate change could be presented and accepted, that would result in a massive change in behavior. In my view, there is no basis for such a belief. Copious use of energy from cheap fossil fuels has most of the characteristics of an addiction, and we know from painful experience that stark provision of consequences to gambling, drinking, smoking, cocaine, heroin, et al addicts has little effect on behavior. The ‘deniers’ and their sponsors are convenient scapegoats and targets for the climate activists to rally the troops, but if the ‘deniers’ were eliminated tomorrow, the stark reality of the intransigence of the energy consuming public to change would be overwhelming.

    Anderson has it partially right. ‘Planned austerity’ would be one way to view what has to be done if there is even the glimmer of hope. Given the realities of what would be required, ‘planned worldwide-Depression’ would be a far more accurate description. And, what is our starting point for implementing these drastic reductions? A few percent per year growth in worldwide CO2 emissions with zero evidence of it slowing down. We just had a Presidential debate where both sides tried to emphasize what they were doing to enhance oil and gas production, to enhance growth of the economy well above two percent, to enhance job growth to well beyond 150,000 per month. Can anyone tell me with a straight face that any candidate in the next election would propose the ‘planned Depression’ that would be necessary to implement what Anderson requires?

    You ask why the reality of what Anderson describes is taboo among many climate scientists. In brief, ‘Yes we Can’ brings in more grants and more followers than ‘No we Can’t’.

    I see only the faintest glimmer of a technically feasible solution and zero possibility of a political/sociological solution. In my view, the most probable scenario for 2050 is Anderson’s worst case. Beyond that, who knows. Global chaos from the climate upheaval may force the alteration in fossil use that the present democratic process cannot do, but by then, we will probably be well past the point of no return with self-sustaining runaway.

  4. 254
    wili says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Ray. I accept your good points. But I am still left wondering what scientists and others here think of his assessment of the current situation/predicament. If the predictions of ‘virtually certain 2 degrees C’ and ‘likely 4 degrees by 2050-70’ and 6 degrees by the end of the century are way off, what are the flaws in the science of those positing these dire predictions?

    Does anyone really think we will avoid 2 degrees by the end of the century by any remotely realistic scenario?

    What exactly do you see as the range of ‘differences among scientists in exactly how to deal with this issue’ at this point.

    Examining the exact nature of our current understanding of likely prospects for the global climate, and exploring different ways of responding to those prospects seem at least as appropriate topics for this forum as are schemes for growing eucalyptus forests or for cooking lawn clippings into biofuels, imvho.

  5. 255
    Hank Roberts says:


    You’re late to the party.

    “… ‘virtually certain 2 degrees C’ and ‘likely 4 degrees by 2050-70′ and 6 degrees by the end of the century

    You can check and see: put this search string in and search further in the results, it ought to pop out. “virtually certain” 2100

    Did they say “virtually certain” about that?

    The number range you gave I think is from the IPCC since, when, 2001?

    Aldo Leopold had advice for us.

  6. 256
    Ray Ladbury says:

    It is my opinion that we won’t avoid 2 degrees–and probably not even 4 degrees–without some sort of technical fix that allows us to bring CO2 levels down to manageable ranges. Of course, to attain such a fix will take time, and time is something we will have to buy with conservation, mitigation…whatever we can use, maybe even geoengineering. I stress that this is an opinion by a physicist, but not a climate or policy expert. BTW, I would also stress that climate change is far from the only challenge we face, and even if we manage to traverse that knife-edge ridge, civilization could also collapse as we try to figure out how to make an economy work with a shrinking population and ever more limited resources.

    As to differences of opinion among scientists. Some scientists see a need for activism; some for education of laymen and policy makers; while still others think scientists can contribute best by doing science. My frustration with Anderson’s diatribe is that scientists have been doing all 3 for 35 years. I really take offense when people imply that scientists aren’t doing all they can to avert catastrophe. Certainly, I count the efforts of Gavin, Jim and the other RC contributors, along with Tamino, The Rabett and a plethora of others active in the blogosphere as far more effective than anything Anderson has ever done or ever will do.

    As Yogi Berra said, “Prediction is hard…especially about the future.” It is pointless to try to draw conclusions as to our prospects given our current limited perspective. All we can do is push and pull in the right direction. Mr. Anderson would do well to descend from his high horse, hitch it up to a convenient protruberance and start pulling.

  7. 257
    Susan Anderson says:

    For those who don’t have enough targets to indulge their preference for circular firing squads, please not this inline response by Gavin which acknowledges the seriousness of the problem.

    We have enough to do without shooting each other down. I am so tired of the attacks on Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and everyone else who is actually trying to do something. Being politic at times and trying to keep some hope may not be “perfect” but it’s a whole lot better than sniping from the sidelines.

    the idea that provides permanent protection under ‘business as usual’ continued emissions or can be applied to all areas at risk from storm surges is a fantasy. In fact the whole article is selling a convenient fantasy that adaptation to a continually worsening baseline is trivial and universal – it is neither, and claims to the contrary are pathetic. – gavin]

  8. 258
    prokaryotes says:

    Keyword “forum”

    Seeing the success of the Unforced Variations threads evolving in past month here on RC, i wonder. Why not grow a bit and extend this “engaging with the public” with the addition of a real forum software? This would greatly improve overview of topics, help to find hot topics among many more functionality and general sophistication.

  9. 259
    Jim Larsen says:

    245 Hank said, “That doesn’t work with large herds grazing public lands, as has been amply demonstrated”

    Care to explain that? It sure sounds like buffalo on grass, which was the original ecosystem here on the great plains. Ken Burn’s new show about the dust bowl shows how much dirt was lost. Yet, the dirt is still incredibly deep here in Nebraska.

    249 Hank entertained us all

  10. 260
    John E. Pearson says:

    A write-up on Trenberth’s article in the Nov 9 issue of science would be wonderful. If you do that it would be worth mentioning Karen Shell’s perspective on it as well. By my reading she sort of implied that Trenberth has pushed the most probable equilibrium climate sensitivity up towards 4C. I’d like to know what other experts think.

  11. 261
    David B. Benson says:

    John E. Pearson @259 — There are two different climate sensitivities (CSs) to consider. There is the so-called Charney CS, or fast feedback CS, currently thought to be close to 3 K for 2XCO2. There is also the Earth System CS, maybe as low as 4.5 K and maybe higher.

  12. 262

    NOVA’s stint on Hurricane Sandy was almost perfect but disappointed a bit, because as a Northerner I am a bit puzzled by the lack of explanations about the “Greenland blocking High” , its not rocket science, the computers mapped them well in advance, still the mechanics of it is explained like the weather on Pluto , They covered this hurricane track like hawks, from its inception, may I remind everyone Hurricanes are more complicated than high pressure genesis, they also included the rossby wave frontal North’easter which merged with the hurricane very well. But said very little about this very important blocking High. I did a piece on it placing its formation directly linked with unusually late October vast open waters of the Arctic Ocean. I think it funny that anything from the North gets scant coverage, I attribute this to the lack of attention the North gets. Primarily because we aint that many people here. The same can be said about the Equatorial South unless it has a typhoon or hurricane. It would be outstanding if RC does a piece on the origins of this Greenland High. Its not asking for very much, no one but me tried to explain it, that is because of where I am , but please someone else meteorology 101 this?

  13. 263
    Susan Anderson says:

    Wayne Davidson,

    As an amateur who is paying close attention and trying to learn and understand, with some math deficiencies, I have to thank you for mentioning the Greenland High. That seemed like a no-brainer to me. It was discussed at some length over time and in detail at Neven’s, and it seemed to bear a strong relationship to the Arctic events. This was the third contributor to the nexus that turned Sandy from an “ordinary” hurricane into a lethal instrument of much great power and reach.

    I will be watching for any not-too-high-level technical expertise on the subject.

  14. 264
    wili says:

    Thanks for your perspectives, Hank and Ray. My take on Anderson’s talk is not that he has some new data, just that the what we now know to be the probable scientific-based projections for temperature increases are too often being ignored by policy makers, and that has real world consequences for what policies are proposed.

    That makes it incumbent on all who understand the best current science to shout down proposals that use old, out-of-date, too optimistic projections. I certainly agree that for those who feel they have been shouting for decades already, it seems a bit irritating for someone now to come along and imply that they haven’t been doing so.

    So what do folks think is the best way to get across to policy people the truly dire nature of the best current science? Do they want to hear it? Do the consequences imply policies that they just can’t imagine themselves implementing?

    Will any policy maker on any level ever embrace a program that orchestrates a 5% annual reduction in GDP every year for the foreseeable future?

  15. 265
    wili says:

    At least Anderson hasn’t been calling on fellow climate scientists to get themselves arrested!:

  16. 266
    Eric Rowland says:

    John Christy’s presentation to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Five major points:
    1. Extreme events are poor proxies.
    2. The models overstate warming.
    3. Natural variability…we just don’t know…it might just be blacktop.
    4. The crackpots must be heard, and funded.
    5. CO2 is good for you.

    It was strangly comforting to find that these folks don’t have any new ideas.

  17. 267
    Patrick 027 says:
    (cyclone models: Norwegian (N-S elongation, warm front weaker and shorter than cold front, cold front catches up, occluded front forms, jet exit regions) vs. Shapiro-Keyser (E-W elongation, T-bone structure, ‘frontal fracture’, warm seclusion, warm front strong and long, jet entrance regions)

    Jets (w/ Rossby waves, blocking patterns, favored (anti)cyclogenesis locations)

    More on Rossby waves

    (more coming… (I’ve compiled a reading list to last until the next ice age… may have gotten a bit carried away, sorry)…)

  18. 268
    Hank Roberts says:

    we need sci.climate.real, and (sigh)
    “rcientsB ALSO” is recaptcha’s challenge

  19. 269
    Hank Roberts says:

    > large herds grazing public lands

    “public lands” — not pre-European wilderness.

    Cows, not bison.
    “public” means protected — no wolves, no bow and arrow hunters;
    public lands grazing is leased. Cows spread out when they can.

    The plants do better when the grazers herd up and graze one area intensively then move on for a long time. Bison on prairie worked that way. Perennials can come back from being grazed to the ground once a year. But they don’t if they’re nibbled all year round, losing every new shoot as soon as it sees sunlight.

    Open range protected cattle spread out eating only their favorite plants doesn’t work well; it favors the invasive annual grasses.

    The prairie restoration people and some farmers have found ways to use this to arrange grazing so it will restore range land.

    There’s lots written; search “Alan Savory” “intensive grazing” “Holistic resource management” “mob grazing”

  20. 270
    Hank Roberts says:

    Angus Beef Bulletin March 2010;
    you’ll find the link in the above search results,
    and a copy in Google Docs

    “…. Under planned high-density grazing, Judy moves the animals twice a day and paddocks are grazed every 140-180 days, or two to three times per year…. he has more legumes in his pastures than before. New stands of big bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass and gama grass have appeared from seed stored in the soil.

    …. high-density, quick-rotation grazing that started with Allan Savory in the 1980s. Clifton Marek of Ledbetter, Texas, has been using Savory grazing techniques since 1988 …. doesn’t own hay equipment, applies no fertilizer and doesn’t buy seed…. To make full use of his forage, Marek moves the cattle twice a day.”

    Works like bison on prairie, with added fences and accountants.

    (Probably would add up as carbon capture, certainly builds topsoil)

  21. 271
    prokaryotes says:

    Klimawandel: Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Lars Gustafsson im Diskurs

    Tonight i attended a philosophical dialog with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Lars Gustafsson and decided to record it…

  22. 272
    Alastair McDonald says:


    Anderson is not saying that scientists have not been warning abut climate change. He is saying that they are under playing the dangers and the effort it will take to prevent catastrophe. Ray’s response is typical. He does not accept that in the past ten years since RealClimate was started things have got considerably worse, yet the rhetoric here has not intensified to reflect that. For him, and most others on here Climate Change is something that will only affect our grand children. For Ray, Anderson’s claim that it is now obvious we must reduce CO2 output to zero is dismissed by calling him a Jimmy-come-lately, and Ad hominen argument!

    But Anderson is not alone. Jeremy Grantham also spoke out in Nature last week. You can read his message here.

  23. 273
    Chris Korda says:

    World coal consumption by region, 1980-2010 (animated, from US EIA)
    This is really getting on my nerves. It feels like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

  24. 274
    flxible says:

    The car wreck in faster motion: by the second – climbing by over half a million per day, most dependent on coal power to supply their needs and wants.

  25. 275
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Jeremy Grantham also spoke out in Nature last week.

    Saying, in the voice of the economic system:

    “I just can’t stop myself from making money off this disaster, please, please, say something to save me from myself, get yourselves arrested, because I can’t arrest my own self ….”

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  26. 276
    sidd says:

    Re:intermittent hi density grazing

    What to do in winter ?


  27. 277
    Jim Larsen says:

    269 Hank said, “Cows, not bison.”

    Well, sure. Insisting on doing it wrong usually gives inferior results.

  28. 278
    Ray Ladbury says:


    Oh, yes, rhetoric will solve everything! Can we get frigging serious, here?

  29. 279

    267 Thanks Patrick027, but a full blow by blow 8 days prior Hurricane impact, day by day lay out of the Arctic Vortex concentrated on the origins and disposition of the Greenland blocking anticyclone, along with full explanations as to anticyclone-genesis, will convince a whole lot more about the impacts from Arctic Ocean open water. I find it astounding that NOAA or some other group have not done so already. I believe PBS Nova can do an entire show on this. The link with AGW and Sandy’s impact is threefold, sea level (as said by PBS), very warm sst’s (mike wrote about that) and Rossby wave pattern distortion caused by unusual wide open Arctic Ocean water .

  30. 280
    Hank Roberts says:

    But seriously:

    > things have got considerably worse,
    > yet the rhetoric here has not intensified

    You’re looking in the wrong place for rhetoric.

    The supply of facts isn’t all that plentiful.
    Mix rhetoric with facts and you’d pollute the struggle to find out facts, because the easiest person to fool is — you know that quote.

    You want more from the people willing to make the leap from the current best guess at what may be the facts, simplify, add rhetoric, and do politics.

    How do you find them?

    Look in the right sidebar on every RC page.

    I knew a doctor who’d tell patients:

    “If you keep going in the direction you’re headed, you’re going to get there.”

    What more can one say?

  31. 281
    sidd says:

    Nice new analysis of GRACE data over Greenland. I particularly like the use of localized eigenfunctions. Looking forward to a similar analysis for AIS.


  32. 282
    Hank Roberts says:

    Sidd, read the links.
    > what about winter?
    Polyface Farm.

    Seriously, if you’re interested, I can’t read it _for_ you.
    The information is there, and is very encouraging.

    > bison

    Letting the best be the enemy of the good isn’t, well, the best.
    Bringing pastureland back — as documented — is great progress.

    Given restored rangeland, bison can be brought back.

    Land restoration first. We know how to do it using grazing animals.

    Most of our problems in the US came from replacing native grazers and rangeland with European cattle and annual grasses.

    Undoing is harder than screwing up.

  33. 283
    Superman1 says:

    Alistair McDonald #272,

    I agree with all your statements. I would suspect that the warnings given decades ago were not as severe because the measures required were not as austere. As we get closer to the point of no return, and the science and observations improve, the proposed measures will become even more austere. And, remember, Anderson’s numbers do not include most of the major positive feedback mechanisms, incorporation of which could make the situation immeasurably more dire.

    I have been studying the evolution of major chronic diseases, and the role that the immune system plays in their evolution. Degradation of the immune system allows viruses and cell mutations to cause havoc in the body, and can also cause the immune system to reverse its role as protector of the body to attacker, known as autoimmune reactions. In the biosphere, two major components of its ‘immune’ system have been the polar ice cap and trees/vegetation. We have essentially destroyed the former through CO2 emissions. We have destroyed the latter 1) primarily through physical means and 2) now secondarily to spinoff effects on the atmosphere from the former. The positive feedbacks we are presently seeing to enhance climate change are the analog of an ‘autoimmune’ reaction on the biosphere. Once they become self-sustaining, we will have a biospheric ‘autoimmune’ disease run rampant. Geoengineering applied in parallel to continued fossil fuel usage is analogous to trying to remove the symptoms of an autoimmune disease while continuing to generate the toxic stimuli that caused the disease in the first place. Geoengineering applied in parallel to harsh fossil fuel restrictions may work, if sufficiently accurate modeling can be done to show that even more serious effects will not be produced.

  34. 284
    wili says:

    Thanks for your perspective, Alistair. I do tend to agree with Hank on the Grantham thing, though. It is always a bit…distasteful…to suggest that someone else get themselves arrested, but particularly if they haven’t put themselves on the line.

  35. 285
    wili says:

    Superman 1 said: “Once they become self-sustaining…” They apparently already are.

    Alistair–thanks for your perspective. I would tend to agree with Hank on the Grantham thing, though.

  36. 286
    Superman1 says:

    There is an interesting thread on Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog entitled “Arctic methane: Why the sea ice matters”. Some of the postings delve into the need for relatively near-term geo-engineering to prevent potential large-scale release of methane as the Arctic warms. What I found particularly interesting were some of the creative ideas for global-scale geo-engineering that could have strong impact on the Arctic, in concert with knowledgeable comments as to pitfalls in these schemes. Each scheme was the climate equivalent of a ‘Hail Mary’ pass, and each rejoinder was the equivalent of a play that would lead to near-certain interception.

    What I find most interesting is that the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the ‘interception play’ of the main alternative to fossil fuel use that is proposed on all the climate blogs, is never addressed. We blithely assume that if we could only switch to a renewables-based mainly electric-grid based economy, all would be well. What is the downside?

    I have studied in detail the impacts of the electromagnetic fields that would be generated in a mainly electric-grid-based economy. There are many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs, but, like climate change, it takes years from initial use for the adverse impacts to occur. Long-term exposures at low-frequencies have been shown to adversely affect humans, and especially children, at fields on the order of four milligauss. Yet, a few years ago, an Australian testing firm showed fluxes in the back seat of a Japanese hybrid car to be almost thirty milligauss. I haven’t seen numbers for an all-electric vehicle, but I suspect they would be far worse than hybrids. Whether such fields could be overcome by judicious design is anyone’s guess.

    Magda Havas showed two decades ago that passengers on parts of the AMTRAK line were exposed to steady fields on the order of 200 milligauss, and passengers on subways were exposed to tens of milligauss, and hundreds for short periods of time.

    In short, switching from a partly electrified economy to a fully electrified economy may not be the panacea that people believe. Adverse effects from the different sources at different frequencies tend to be synergistic. So, the 50-85 milligauss fields one gets from airline flights added to tens of milligauss exposure on connecting Metros added to the ??? exposures from an all-electric vehicle, in concert with damaging higher frequency fields from cell phones and wireless networks, should be expected to have adverse impacts well beyond anything imagined today.

    But, like the climate change deniers, there is a well-financed EMF denier community. Getting these facts about EMF to the public is no less a challenge than getting the truth about potential climate change to the public. And, just as Michael Mann has been persecuted by Virginia state officials, and other honest climate change researchers have as well, so have many EMF researchers been equally persecuted for attempting to bring these facts to the fore. But, they are real, and anyone blindly promoting an all-electric future should be aware that there will be a (possibly horrific) price to pay.

  37. 287
    Alastair McDonald says:

    Hi Superman,

    I think your analogy between the health of a patient and the health of the Planet is valid, especially where you describe the patient’s disease running rampant. The same can happen to the planet’s health e.g. at the end of the Younger Dryas when global temperatures jumped by several degrees within a few years. The climatologists don’t warn the public about that because they would have to admit that they cannot explain it. Besides they, like the sceptics, don’t believe that the climate can run rampant despite the fact that it did in the past.

    Note, that when the the Younger Dryas ended the sea ice that had extended as far south as Ireland retreated to the Arctic. Was that a consequence or a cause? We are now about to see another retreat of the sea ice from the entire Arctic.

    Until the scientists start telling people what the worst case could be, then we are not going to get a demand for action from the public, and the politicians are powerless to act. This applies not just in the USA, but in China, India and Canada too.

  38. 288
    sidd says:

    Re: Polyface/Salatin

    I am familiar with them, he farms in more clement weather than I. I was wondering if you, Mr. Roberts, had some personal experience as to winter practice. I understand Salatin does what most small farms do, he lays in hay and silage, garnished with some cereal, as do my neighbours except that their land is not usually completely given to pasture/woodland as Salatin’s is. Rather, they grow quite a bit of corn/soy rotations as well, and use my seed press to press soy into meal and oil, and include both soy meal and canola meal in the feed blend. I must say I quite like his rotation of the bedding the cattle use through the pigs, but not many round here raise pigs except one or two CAFOs, which I heartily dislike.


  39. 289
    Alastair McDonald says:


    If the doctor does not tell the smoker he is likely to die, who can blame him for not quitting. Until the scientists tell the public that we are on a suicidal course, then they will continue divings their SUVs.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  40. 290
    Chris Korda says:

    Superman1: What are you asserting? That earth behaves like a living organism, and that if we disturb its equilibrium enough its immune system will attack us? That’s James Lovelock chapter and verse. But you’re not referencing him! In fact you’re not referencing anything. That’s not how this forum works. Hand-waving got you in trouble here before, remember?

    The assumption that there’s an equilibrium to disturb has been challenged, e.g. by paleontologist Peter Ward, who has famously argued that life behaves less like a benevolent self-regulating super-organism and more like a drunk stumbling around in a darkened room. His “Medea Hypothesis” is worth reading, but for the abbreviated version try his TED talk.

  41. 291
    David B. Benson says:

    Alastair McDonald @286 — At the end of Younger Dryas temperatures in the far north rose rapidly. I doubt this was true in the tropics. I would want to see some reconstruction for a global temperature.

  42. 292
    Chris Korda says:

    Alastair: Which climatologists? Actually Jeff Masters and many others are increasingly hitting the horn as hard as they can. For once I’m in agreement with Ladbury: This whole “scientists aren’t/didn’t warn us” trope is totally misguided. The only people who ever warned us about climate change were scientists, and they often did so in the teeth of determined opposition from powerful corporate and government institutions. Kevin Anderson is not attacking all climate scientists, he’s attacking a specific area, specifically the interface between climate science and economics that directly influences climate policy-making. He says as much in his Nov. 6 talk Real Clothes for the Emperor, at 41:42:

    Let me be quite specific about that, I’m talking about the people doing the emissions modeling here, not many/most of the scientists who work on climate change, but that particular group, the group that I engage with, and I’m one of.

  43. 293
    SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “I have studied in detail the impacts of the electromagnetic fields that would be generated in a mainly electric-grid-based economy. There are many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs …”

    Oh, really? Please provide references to the relevant scientific literature that documents the “many adverse impacts on health” from electromagnetic fields.

    Since we already live in an “electric-grid-based economy” and we are already surrounded by just as many electromagnetic fields as we would be if those fields were generated by photovoltaics or wind turbines instead of coal-fired power plants, that literature should be extensive and compelling.

    Superman1 wrote: “… like the climate change deniers, there is a well-financed EMF denier community …”

    Well, then presumably, just as 99 percent of the peer-reviewed climate science literature published over the last few decades recognizes and documents the reality of anthropogenic global warming, it would be the case that 99 percent of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on EMFs recognizes and documents the “many adverse impacts on health from these EMFs”.

    So it should not be difficult for you to provide numerous references to that literature.

    [Response: Actually no, not here. This is way off topic. Please take it elsewhere if you want to discuss this. – gavin]

  44. 294
    prokaryotes says:


  45. 295
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alastair and Superman1,
    The idea that scientists are “holding back” is simply absurd. However, there is a limit to what the evidence allows us to say with sufficient confidence to be credible. What you are looking for is risk assessment of the credible risks established by the scientists. You will not find that in the scientific literature. It is a different discipline entirely. And at present you won’t find much of it at all, because policy makers have refused to fund such efforts adequately.

    The idea that if we just squealed more loudly that policy makers would listen is risible. They will merely tell their own chosen “experts” to pipe up, and all that will be accomplished is more hearing loss. Volume and shrillness are not the answer.

  46. 296
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Gavin’s inline response in the Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Nov 2012 @ 7:57 PM

    I agree with you completely because Superman 1’s anti science claptrap has disrupted this forum in the past, but I think that it is unfair to correct SecularAnimist for responding without also sending the offending post directly to the BoreHole. Those of us who value science have a hard time refraining from responding to disinformation, even when it is off topic here. I was good this time but it was hard. Steve

  47. 297
    Susan Anderson says:

    Davidson and Patrick, thanks. The intersection between science and reality was well demonstrated as I planned and prepared for invalid care in the face of approaching storms (Sandy and to a lesser extent Athena) which promised days without power. The change from twigs to branches to trees flying around in the air (last is a mite hyperbolic, but not much) was something to behold. Thanks to meteorological expertise and the European model, there was time to get ready both physically and psychologically. There is getting to be way too much of this stuff.

    Andrew Freedman of ClimateCentral provides these two excellent items.

    On our satellite deficiency, what looks to be a desperate plea while our “debt crisis” starves the beast:

    On excessive warmth and wild conditions in Alaska, followed by an extraordinarily moving comment by Arthur Smith on local conditions (our Pacific Northwest friends are also in the sights of the climate monster as shown at CliffMass blog):

    And Michael Lemonick on trees:

  48. 298
    Hank Roberts says:

    Alastair, Superman–this may be helpful:

  49. 299
    Eric Rowland says:

    @295, One cannot read every piece of “claptrap” and respond to it. It is the responsibility of the claptrap reader to understand that his/her fellow claptrap readers are smart enough to understand that this post does not require a rebuttal. It is not up to the moderators to “BoreHole” everything that moves off topic.

    There is a good corollary in sports. The first foul is often missed by the officials but the retaliation is almost always called. Gavin was just being a good referee and SA got 15 yards for interference.

  50. 300
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Oh, and Alastair, you either need to review the definition of ad hominem argument or you have a reading comprehension problem. My point was that the fact that climate scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades puts the lie to Anderson’s contention that climate scientists are holding back.

    Your analogy to a doctor’s admonitions to a smoker is actually apropos-2/3 of the time they would be lying, since only 1/3 of smokers die of smoking related illness. The main weapon of science is the truth. The last thing we want to do is blunt the edge of that incomparable weapon by mixing it with rhetoric. Leave rhetoric to politicians.