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AGU time again…

Filed under: — group @ 1 December 2012

This week is Fall AGU, the biggest climate-related conference around. Not everything is related to climate – there is a lot of other geophysics and astrophysics, but it is generally the place to go if you want to see and be seen (and incidentally, be crushed, be excited, be friendly and be frustrated that you can’t be in three places at once).

If you are not going, you should check out the improvements in the ‘Virtual meeting‘, which will offer live streaming of some big sessions, and for those and many additional sessions there is video-on-demand (VOD) after the fact. Many posters will also be available via ePoster. The twitter hashtag is #AGU12.

And if you are going to be there, here is a limited selection of sessions that will discuss issues that often come up here (more details in the scientific program).

Monday, Dec 03:

PP11F. The Climate of the Common Era I + II
8:00 AM – 12:30 AM; 2010 (Moscone West) (including Kevin Anchukatis, Philip Brohan, Eric, and many others).

12:30 PM – 01:30 PM: San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Salon 10 Brown Bag Lunch Workshop with Michael Gerrard on “Legal Duties to Preserve and Disclose Scientific Data and Personal Communications” (note that anyone who wants a private one-on-one session with a lawyer related to these or related issues, can email lawyer(at)climatesciencedefensefund.org to set up a meeting).

PA13B. Countering Denial and Manufactured Doubt of 21st Century Science
1:40 PM – 3:40 PM; 302 (Moscone South)

6:30 PM – 8:30PM; Open Mike Night hosted by Richard Alley. Jillian’s, 175 4th Street, Suite 1070.

Tuesday, Dec 04:

PA21B. Communication of Science Through Art: A Raison d’Etre for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM; 104 (Moscone South) (VOD)

GC22B. Communicating Climate Science—Seeking the Best of Old and New Paradigms
10:20 AM – 12:20 PM; 3014 (Moscone West) (including Mike, Richard Alley, Dan Kahan, Richard Somerville and Naomi Oreskes)

PA23B. PA23B. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs: Science Communication Gone Social—The Social Media 101
1:40 PM – 3:40 PM; 302 (Moscone South) (Including Mike, Michael Tobis, Peter Sinclair, and Zeke Hausfather)

Bloggers Forum: Science on the Web:
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: 3000 (Moscone West)

Wednesday, Dec 05:

Session Title: A32D. New Atmospheric Sciences Fellows Presentations I + II
8:00 AM – 12:20PM; 3002 (Moscone West) (including Tony DelGenio, Mike, Ron Stouffer, Dave Neelin… ) (VOD)

PP31D. Continental Archives of Past Climate and Seismic Events II
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM; 2006 (Moscone West) (including Ray B. discussing this)

PP32A. Emiliani Lecture
10:20 AM – 11:20 AM; 103 (Moscone South)
“No future without a past” or “History will teach us nothing”? (Invited) Richard E. Zeebe (VOD)

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM; Brown Bag lunch with Pete Fontaine “An inside look at the Michael Mann case”. 226 (Moscone South)

GC33F. Construing Uncertainty in Climate Science
2:40 PM – 3:40 PM; 3003 (Moscone West) (including Naomi Oreskes, Gerard Roe)

GC44B. Links Between Rapid Arctic Change and Midlatitude Weather Patterns
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM; 3001 (Moscone West) (including Steve Vavrus, Judah Cohen)

Thursday, Dec 06:

GC43I. Tyndall History of Global Environmental Change Lecture:
2:40 PM – 3:40 PM; 2022-2024 (Moscone West): “Successful Predictions” (Invited), Raymond Pierrehumbert (VOD)

U44A. Dissolving Boundaries Between Scientists, Media, and the Public
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM; 102 (Moscone South) (Including Eric as speaker and panelist).

Friday, Dec 07:

C54B. The Ice Core Record of Carbon Cycle History and Processes
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM; 3007 (Moscone West)

Feel free to advertise other sessions/talks that might be of interest in the comments. Hopefully we’ll get some reports of interesting sessions to share with you (and if anyone wants to send us anything, we’ll post it up that evening).


57 Responses to “AGU time again…”

  1. 1
    Tom Dayton says:

    Skeptical Science contributors are presenting in some sessions.

  2. 2
    Chris Colose says:

    Thanks for the alert to open mike night with Richard Alley…that will definitely have to be on my to-do list.

    Too bad Dana Rohrabacher won’t be in the house

  3. 3
    David B. Benson says:

    What is the Common Era?

    [Response: the last two thousand years. ‘CE’ is often used as a more secular notation for AD. – gavin]

  4. 4
    MMM says:

    How about Drew Shindell, the Charney Lecture, 11:20-12:20, 3002 Moscone West, A22B?

  5. 5
    Andy G says:

    When: Friday, December 7, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
    Where: Room 104 (Moscone South)

    ORAL SESSION: GC51H. The Anthropocene: Confronting the Prospects of a +4°C World
    What: The Anthropocene has been proposed as a new geological time unit. To the public, the media, and the science community writ large, however, we are – if not there already – committed to recognizing that we live in the age of humans. The concept of the Anthropocene resonates across a wide spectrum, but each community sees it through a very different lens: through that of population increase, through the need for resources, or the loss of biodiversity.

  6. 6
    Nagraj Adve says:

    Would any of the presentations/ papers be available in the public domain, other than the live streaming referred to? I’m an activist in Delhi, not an academic, and hence don’t have institutional access, but some of these papers (and RC in general!) would be very useful for us.
    In solidarity,
    Nagraj

  7. 7

    AGU Science Film Festival:

    Moscone West – Room 2012
    Films will run all day Monday–Thursday, plus Friday morning.

    Is Video Replacing Writing?
    The role of video in effectively communicating science

    Oral Session PA24A
    Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Room 302 Moscone South

    Lot’s of great talks in this session. Mine is:
    4:30 PM – 4:45 PM PA24A-03. John P. Reisman, Turn research results and paper into video as an effective education and communication tool.

    Science Filmmaker’s Workshop
    Wednesday December 5, 2012
    9:45 AM to 11:45 AM
    Marriott (room Pacific J, 4th floor)

  8. 8
    Isotopious says:

    ..that since we don’t know everything, we know nothing…

    Indeed, such a black and white analysis could also yield “that since we know something, we know everything.”

    A more scientific minded person / group, may simply state what they do and don’t know.

    It’s an interesting discussion in my skeptical opinion, since the “blogosphere” in particular is quite reluctant to admit what it doesn’t know.

    “…This process is inherently adversarial..” (1) Like in a court of law, knowing something or not knowing something can make all the difference.

    My take is that it is extremely unscientific not to admit what you don’t know, I guess I am at odds with the 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences who accept this inevitable behavior stemming from the adversarial system, or maybe many of them would agree with my point of view, but except it is an inherent albeit undesirable characteristic of science which cannot be changed?

    I wonder if anyone at AGU meeting will bring this up?

    (1)http://www.pacinst.org/climate/climate_statement.pdf

    Looking forward to what we don’t know about climate change in six easy steps /sarc.

  9. 9
    Toby Thaler says:

    Nagraj Adve (#6)–I also have need for access but without academic credentials. AGU sessions from past years’ conferences are pretty well indexed. E.g., for 2011: http://www.geosociety.org/meetings/2011/ –> https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/ –> https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/2011-10-10.htm –> https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/session_28382.htm “T194. Decision Support for the Geosciences: The Interface between Public, Policy, and Science (GSA Geoinformatics Division; GSA Hydrogeology Division; GSA Geology and Society Division; GSA Geology and Health Division; U.S. National Chapter of International Association of the Hydrogeologists; Minnesota Ground Water Association; National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training)” –> etc.

    I find that most presentations only have a short description/abstract; some have slides. If you need the published paper (assuming one exists), use the author and subject as search terms at scholar.google or however you do research.

  10. 10
    dhogaza says:

    “..that since we don’t know everything, we know nothing…

    Indeed, such a black and white analysis could also yield “that since we know something, we know everything.”

    A more scientific minded person / group, may simply state what they do and don’t know.”

    Except, of course, honest scientists never claim that we know everything. The IPCC reports have been very clear about what we do, and do not, know.

    We do have exceptions in that not all scientists are honest, i.e. Curry with her “uncertainty” claims that ignore the fact that active climate scientists consider and work with all her uncertainties that she claims they ignore, on a dailu basis.

    In other words, you’ve built a strawman. Congratulations.

  11. 11
    caerbannog says:

    Off and on, I’d been attempting to cobble together software that people could use to “roll their own” global-average temperature estimates (with a pointy-clicky front-end interface). What I’d come up with previously worked reasonably well, but was pretty crude and was way too much of a pain in the rear to set up and run.

    But with the kind assistance of Nick Stokes @moyhu.blogspot.com, along with a fair bit of fumbling around with javascript, I was able to get a more user-friendly (and more eye-candyish) Google Maps interface up and running.

    Basically, you just point and click on random stations scattered around the globe and watch the global-average results for both raw and adjusted data converge amazingly quickly to the NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” results. Some simple javascript controls allow you to filter stations based on rural/urban status, temperature record start/end years, etc.

    Raw data results get plotted in red; homogenized data results in green, and the official NASA/GISS results (included for comparison purposes) in blue. The upper plot in the gnuplot display panel shows the global-average temp anomalies, and the lower plot shows how many of the selected stations actually reported data for any given year (numbers are fractional — a station that reports data 6mos out of the year gets counted as “half a station”).

    It’s basically a Google Maps frontend talking to a “back end” that implements a very dumbed-down version of the NOAA gridding/averaging algorithm.

    I then tried bundling it all up in a VirtualBox appliance file that boots up a lightweight (well, *relatively* lightweight) Debian-based Linux virtual machine and then auto-launches everything. (No messing around with editing files, installing X-server/compiler software, etc.)

    Download link here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0pXYsr8qYS6MVQyZTBPbkFULU0

    It’s is a bit of a pig of a pig download (about 1GB), but should (hopefully) work on any platform that can run the latest version of VirtualBox.

    Basically, you just install VirtualBox (virtualbox.org), import the appliance file and hit the “start” button. If all goes well, everything should come up all ready to use.

    It’s very much a work in progress — lots of “experimental cruft” in the code, lots of “details” that are not necessarily well nailed-down, etc., so YMMV. The javascript works well with Firefox — other browsers have “issues” with it, unfortunately. (Yet another reason to bundle everything up in a virtual machine.)

  12. 12
    Isotopious says:

    10.

    One of the mysteries of climate is the question of why did the earth rapidly deglaciate 20,000 years ago. While there is a pretty good match between the rate of change of ice volume and insolation

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5193/7065467097_1023099e3b_o.jpg

    ..there is no credible explanation for the rapid deglaciation around every 100,000 years. As you can see in the figure, adding a carbon water vapor feedback would only enhance the insolation forcing?, leading to rapid deglaciation at every insolation peak (every 25k)? No?

    So let’s be upfront and honest with the facts. We are not completely ignorant, we do know some things, but if we represented what we do know with 120 meters of sea level rise over the last 20,000 years, we could probably only explain around 60 meters (being generous, correlation does not equal causation).

    At 60 meters you are still in an ice age and may even be under an ice sheet right now. Next time you hear a scientist say we actually don’t really have a good idea of why we are currently in an interglacial climate, be sure to give them congratulations.

  13. 13
    sidd says:

    Hansen’s “Climate Change and Trace Gases” has detailed explanation of deglaciation, points out that the the key is _spring_ (NOT summer)insolation in NH + albedo flip and produces impressive agreement with the data. Lies about inability to understand fast deglaciation should not be believed; they are intended to slow immediate measures toward fossil carbon mitigation. As the climate worsens I fully expect the crescendo of denial to rise as well.

    Shun the deniers. Rather look forward to results from the AGU conference.

    sidd

  14. 14
    gavin says:

    Best tweets so far:

  15. 15
    Hank Roberts says:

    > point and click on random stations …
    > and watch the global-average results
    > for both raw and adjusted data converge

    You need options to:
    — pick cherries
    — pick mushrooms
    I’m sure you can think of a few more subsets that, chosen carefully, could produce any desired outcome :-)

  16. 16
    caerbannog says:


    I’m sure you can think of a few more subsets that, chosen carefully, could produce any desired outcome :-)

    But you’d have to work pretty darned hard at it — much harder than I realized before I started playing around with the temp data… ;)

    Tell Watts to try to find 30 stations scattered around the world that give him the results that he wants, and he’ll be busy for a long, long time…. ;)

  17. 17
    Isotopious says:

    13.

    ” points out that the the key is _spring_ (NOT summer)insolation in NH + albedo flip ”

    Sure.
    I could also argue that the “key” is that earth simply favors glaciation and the terminations are due to a tipping point related to pressure and basal melting. It’s far simpler and more accurate than what you have suggested. That’s the problem when you have dozens of models that do an OK job at reproducing the behavior through different mechanisms (internal stochastic /deterministic variability, external forcing, etc.), yet produce entirely different forecasts for the next 50,000 years.

    In essence, the models falsify themselves. => we don’t have a good idea of why we are currently in an interglacial climate.

    Very interesting behavior, why is it so unfashionable to be upfront about things we don’t know? Extremely unscientific…disturbing…

  18. 18
    dbostrom says:

    caerbannog says: 3 Dec 2012 at 3:54 AM

    [describes nifty VM surface temperature tool]

    Nice! Would be great to see that packaged as a bootable iso; monolithic w/no need to install VirtualBox.

  19. 19

    #18–For the computationally unhip–which?

    http://www.acronymfinder.com/ISO.html

  20. 20
    Hank Roberts says:

    Caerbanno, would you possibly find the time to generate a .OFV file format, for those of us whose VBox hosts are Macs? I can import .OVFs (it’ll need to be a zipped folder as there will be several separate files).

  21. 21
    caerbannog says:


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Dec 2012 @ 9:48 PM

    Hank — just saw your request. VirtualBox generated two files when I had it export a .ovf image — a small .ofv file and a large .vmdk file.

    I’m in the process of uploading them both to my Google Drive account via my DSL (Darned Slow Link) connection. Will provide you the links to the files right here when the upload is finished.

  22. 22
    Kevin C says:

    ISO is a CD/DVD image. There are also tools like Unetbootin which allow you to turn an ISO image into a bootable memory stick, which would also be cool.

    Congratulations on this, it sounds really cool! My own tool, which is somewhat complementary in functionality, should be released later this week at SkS.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Russell says:

    I had hope to make it to the meeting, but my ride got hungry and is stalled in a hayfield near Oxnard

  25. 25
    dbostrom says:

    Sorry Kevin, this bureaucracy.

    A way of packaging an operating system and subordinate data file systems so they may be stored on something like a USB “drive” or CDROM and then used to boot a computer, allowing that computer to run a “guest” operating system without touching the computer’s own storage or operating system. Often excellent for trouble-free and low risk demonstrations.

  26. 26

    @Gavin, Ha! Glad you enjoyed.

    First AGU for me… Having a blast and looking forward to more.

  27. 27

    Kevin C (#22), dbostrom (#25), thanks for clarifying. I hang around here to learn about climate-related issues, of course, but also appreciate other crumbs of learning that fall my way!

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thanks Caerbannog, your files imported fine into an Intel Mac host and operated correctly.

  30. 30
    Mal Adapted says:

    Isotopious:

    In essence, the models falsify themselves. => we don’t have a good idea of why we are currently in an interglacial climate.

    You are over-plurifying. Just because you don’t have a “good idea” why we are in an interglacial climate, doesn’t mean no one does. Try this referred paper. You can decide for yourself whether it’s good or not, but it did get published in Nature GeoScience.

    Very interesting behavior, why is it so unfashionable to be upfront about things we don’t know? Extremely unscientific…disturbing…

    Perhaps you’re projecting. The working scientists contributing to this blog will readily differentiate the known from the less-well-known, in fine detail. Here, for example.

    The tendency to assume that no one knows any more than you do is an indicator of the Dunning-Kruger effect. You may want to keep that in mind when you comment here.

  31. 31
    Mal Adapted says:

    Myself #30:

    The working scientists contributing to this blog will readily differentiate the known from the less-well-known, in fine detail.

    I didn’t need to go back 4 years to illustrate the point. See Gavin in the latest open thread. Upfront enough for you, Isotopius?

  32. 32
    Isotopious says:

    30.

    I actually like the idea of CO-2 driving climate. Makes good deterministic sense.

    Between a couple of million years ago right up to around 900 – 800 thousand years ago, a deterministic relationship between insolation and CO-2 works very well. In fact it works so well that it is debatable whether CO-2 is a essential ingredient at all! Now in the late Pleistocene, it doesn’t work. As stated in my comment above, terminations do not occur at every insolation peak. That world is gone, we left it 800,000 years ago.

    Papers such as the one you referred to often gloss over very important assumptions by simply referencing with a throw away statement:

    “No glacial inception is projected to occur at the current atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 390 ppmv”

    Simply going back to where the climate had very little ice, then assuming that the ppmv is some sort of threshold is a pointless exercise if you have no idea of why those changes occurred in the first place. If adding some level of complexity does get you anywhere, then it needs to go. Much like the obliquity world, the only time a carbon water feedback makes any sense is when it is not need!

    As for your reference to some psychological disorder, I can only assume your willingness to debate science is weak.

  33. 33
    Patrick says:

    “Every challenge we’ve got is multi-discipilinary.”

    –Sir Bob Watson, 5 Dec 2012.

  34. 34
    Mal Adapted says:

    Isotopious:

    As for your reference to some psychological disorder, I can only assume your willingness to debate science is weak.

    I’m quite willing to acknowledge that I lack sufficient expertise in the subject of climate science to “debate” it on this blog. I think I can recognize genuine expertise when I see it though, and I don’t believe you qualify; look up the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Quoting more fully from your reference at #8:

    This process is inherently adversarial— scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation.

    In other words, the scientific consensus will not be overturned by rhetoric from those whose agenda is non-scientific. The key point of that letter from 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences is:

    Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence.

    When will you publish your alternative theory, Isotopious?

  35. 35
    Isotopious says:

    I don’t need to publish an “alternative” in order to show that the current mainstream widely accepted theory doesn’t work.

    Nope, I just have to point out that it doesn’t work, that will suffice.

    => we don’t have a good idea of why we are currently in an interglacial climate.

    There is unsettled science, and there is majorly unsettled science. People here for the most part only seem to acknowledge uncertainty when it poses no significant threat to the prevailing dogma. I had a stab at trying to work out why this is, and conclude its the adversarial system. A bit like democracy, science is, I guess, never seems to work but there is no better alternative.

  36. 36
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Isotopious,
    You have a very odd idea of how science works. By your criteria, we ought to throw out the Standard Model of particle physics because it doesn’t tell us why the proton weighs what it does. There are always frontiers in science where theory is challenged. Those are often the most interesting place to look and extend the model–note I say extend and not overturn, since true scientific revolutions are exceedingly rare, especially in fields as mature as climate science.

    The consensus theory of climate science actually works extremely well. Whenever push has come to shove, the theory has prevailed. It has a strong track record of successful prediction. It has even been successfully applied to build a GCM on Mars.

    Certainly, there are things we do not know. They do not, however, invalidate the things that we do know. One of those things we know is the role of CO2 as a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas. You simply cannot get an Earthlike climate on Earth if you ignore that.

    I would also voice my regrets that you are so irony impaired that you cannot appreciate the absolute hilarity of your using a computer to claim that science does not work.

  37. 37
    Susan Anderson says:

    Was there any coverage of ocean acidification at the meeting? I was told not, and had trouble believing my eyes. If so, why?

  38. 38
    Susan Anderson says:

    Isotopious:

    “Climate science from climate scientists” (site masthead)

    The rest of us are guests. If you are unwilling to acknowledge your deficit in understanding uncertainty, that is not a liability until you claim you know better than those who have studied and worked on the material with true skepticism. What you display is not skepticism but a determination to discredit the field based on lack of knowledge and prejudgment. I’d suggest you read Mike Mann’s book for information on how the records and understanding were painstakingly and carefully collected and collated. Since I was able to understand a good bit of it, you should be able to too. But please take off the blinders first. The earth and reality do not bend to our preferences, but are there for us if we wish to learn.

  39. 39
    Mal Adapted says:

    Isotopious:

    I don’t need to publish an “alternative” in order to show that the current mainstream widely accepted theory doesn’t work.

    Nope, I just have to point out that it doesn’t work, that will suffice.

    No, it won’t. You have to persuade the experts working and publishing in the field that it doesn’t work. That’s what “peer review” means. Otherwise, you’re just another internet crank.

  40. 40
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Isotopious:
    > … => we don’t have a good idea of why we
    > are currently in an interglacial climate.

    Oh yes we do: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Ice_Age_Temperature_Rev_png
    Because we’re here.

    Any five year old can ask “why?” forever.

    ________________

    “I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.

    “I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/dec/06/philippines-delegator-tears-climate-change

  41. 41
    Patrick says:

    @ 5: Thank you for posting this. The Anthropocene is the age of the human effect. It’s the time when the human effect becomes evident, and when humans contemplate the human effect.

  42. 42
    Patrick says:

    A subtitle for the Anthropocene might be: “the system is changing and it’s due to we humans.” (Bob Watson at the AGU) The key is that humans were never before capable of changing the system on a global scale. It might be obvious, but because it is so basic, it bears repeating. That population is a big part of it is similarly obvious–and, similarly, deserves repeating. Styles of industry, transport, commerce, science, communication, travel, culture, conflict, and mind are less obviously parts of it. Why styles? Answer: because if they are only styles,they can change. Since humans were never before capable of causing effects on this scale, most of culture and mind is still dedicated to the world in which it was never before possible. And the rebound time for THAT is yet longer than for sea level rise.

    Thanks, Hank, for the Doha link.

  43. 43
    Patrick says:

    AGU re-stream link: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/events/union-frontiers-of-geophysics-lecture-professor-sir-bob-watson-cmg-frs-chief-scientific-adviser-to-defra/

    Sir Bob Watson: “Frontiers of Geoscience: Climate Change: Let’s Have a Reality Check.'”

    Bonus: Animated graphic (3:15): http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/history.html

  44. 44
    MMM says:

    Susan Anderson: What was your source? You should google “AGU 2012 Scientific Program” and use the search function therein for “acidification” and find out for yourself. J N-G at Climate Abyss just had a post on a Caldeira talk at AGU (which I sadly missed… but it is impossible to go to _every_ interesting talk here, or even a small fraction of them…) at http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/12/dispatch-from-agu-ocean-acidification/.

  45. 45

    Speaking of Doha and Bopha/Pablo, what is the climatological context here? The gist as I understand it now is that the location is rare but not unprecedented. Searching so far has left things not very clear for me– so far.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    Hank Roberts says:

    Brief quote from the Slate article linked above (yes, it’s a climate model — that includes individual and political choices as feedbacks):

    —excerpt follows—

    The bulk of Werner’s talk, as it turned out, was not profane or prophetic but was a fairly technical discussion of a “preliminary agent-based numerical model” of “coupled human-environmental systems.” He described a computer model he is building of the complex two-way interaction between people and the environment, including how we respond to signals such as environmental degradation, using the same techniques he employs to simulate the dynamics of natural systems such as permafrost, glaciers, and coastal landscapes. These tools, he argued, can lead to better decision-making. Echoing Anderson and Bows, he claimed it as a legitimate part of a physical scientist’s domain. “It’s really a geophysics problem,” he said. “It’s not something that we can just leave to the social scientists or the humanities.”

    Resistance, Werner argued, is the wild card that can force dominant systems such as our current resource-chewing juggernaut onto a more sustainable path. Werner hasn’t completed that part of his model, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens. But during the Q-and-A session, he conceded that “even though individual resistance movements might not be fast enough reacting to some of these problems, if a global environmental movement develops that is strong enough, that has the potential to have a bigger impact in a timely manner.”
    In other words, according to at least one expert, maybe the Earth is not quite f**ked yet after all. But the ultimate outcome may depend on how much, and how many, scientists choose to wade into the fray.
    —end quote—

  48. 48
    Susan Anderson says:

    MMM: thanks for the link. I heard it on the grapevine, and when I finally got around to looking it up for myself yesterday evening I saw available materials on ocean acidifcation, some of it not accessible yet. One shouldn’t believe everything one hears. Any other links would be welcome if ready handy.

    OT: Bopha/Pablo location, southeast Asia, has had a long season of battering by huge storms this year (don’t know about other years). Chris Mooney’s Storm World is thorough on the subject up to date of publication (2007 I think) readable and scholarly, pretty complete history. Climatological context, I don’t know, except that when we talk about hurricanes we appear to forget that there are other locations than the west Atlantic. I have been seeing more in unusual loci, such as the Arabian Gulf, recently. And Madagascar has taken a pummeling, but I assume that is another location like the Caribbean where things happen. Since they are heat engines, it’s not surprising that we have a powerful vacuum cleaning nowadays. [Fell free to tell me how my metaphor is messed up!?]

  49. 49
    Thomas says:

    This is a guardian review of an AGU paper:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/07/greenland-ice-melting-arctic-wildfires
    It makes the claim that smoke from burning tundra was responsible for the unprecedented summer melt episode. Could this be another positive feedback that wasm’t considered, warming leading to tundra fires, leadingto a decrease in ice sheep albedo?

  50. 50
    Hank Roberts says:

    Not “wasn’t considered” at all.

    Read the Guardian story; the models do incorporate soot; it asks if the 2007 natural experiment will give data useful to check the models of the expected effects on ice sheets.

    I’d expect ice sheep also get darker and warmer.


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