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Unforced Variations: May 2013

Filed under: — group @ 3 May 2013

This month’s open thread.

551 Responses to “Unforced Variations: May 2013”

  1. 301
    prokaryotes says:

    Re Sou #300, maybe the BBC article is helpful?

    “They concluded there was a one in 20 chance that the melting ice would drive up sea levels by more than 84 centimetres, essentially saying there’s a 95% chance it wouldn’t go above this figure.”

  2. 302
    Russell says:

    Given that the existence of of creatures that dream up bayesian priors is a posterior in the known set of Earth-like planets , the probabilty of this being the case over a similar interval for similar solar systems is on the order of 1.

  3. 303
    Patrick says:

    There’s nothing good about a sea-level rise of up to 69 cm by 2100–and nothing happy in a 95% chance that it won’t go above 84 cm by then. The sea-level rise by itself is not the point. The point is the coupling of higher sea-level with higher average temperatures and severe weather. This is what has to be estimated before anyone gets happy. It’s a topic in the mayoral campaign in New York right now.

    Why Reuters wanted to say, “‘This is good news’ for those who have feared sharper rises…” is inscrutable without the full text or audio of their interview. Too many cooks.

    The full report is linked at the end of the press release:

    –at the News tab on the Ice2sea home page:

    Along with science on climate and ice the report shows things like the London Thames barrier.

    The release is about “the final meeting of Ice2sea” 15 May in London. On 16 May there’s talk on impacts of sea-level rise on London.

    From the release I note: “However, sea-level rise needs to be taken together with known patterns of vertical land movement, and projected changes in ocean circulation and storminess. These indicate that 50-year extreme storm-surge events could approach 1 metre higher than at present on some European coasts.”

    You can see and hear David Vaughn (who was interviewed by phone by Reuters) at the Ice2sea homepage:

    He is with the British Antarctic Survey:

    Lots of good stuff, even on wildlife. Webcams.

    If you are a news organization you can call up the number at the bottom of the release page and interview David Vaughn yourself. Let us know what he said, especially about that good news.

    (It’s only four years of work, so you’ll want to characterize it correctly.)

  4. 304
    Patrick says:

    @277 Thank you for the link. James Hansen observed that Justin Gillis is a good journalist.

    Gillis hasn’t confused anyone yet, that I know. He’s so good it seems the editors have the good sense to leave him alone. Pretty much. Which makes a clear result all the more probable.

    Maybe the “Economist” and Reuters could just start reading the NYT.

  5. 305
    Jack Maloney says:

    RealClimate’s own Dr. Gavin Schmidt takes on a prominent skeptic:

  6. 306
    Sou says:

    Thanks, prokaryotes #301. Looks to be from the same source as the Reuters article. The BBC doesn’t refer to the paper either except in passing. Maybe it’s not out yet.

    Odd that there’s no related press release on the Ice2Sea website.

  7. 307
    Patrick says:

    @306 The press release is here:

    There’s a link to the report,”From Ice to High Seas,” at the bottom of the page.

  8. 308
    prokaryotes says:

    Re Fox distortion

    I would rather insist on explaining particular topics and focus on “a single” argument and then point out the flaws and outlier claims of the denier and especially his ties to fossil fuel money.

    He gets dirty oil money (btw the richest companies on the planet) to say that oil products are good.

    On the bottom line i think this denier strategy does no longer work and “trolls” should be ignored.

    You could even direct the debate to topics like “compensation claims” because oil products are so destructive to the environment, health and the climate state we had the past 10.000 years.

  9. 309
    Sou says:

    Thanks Patrick #303. Oddly the report was in Reuters and on the BBC before it appeared on the Ice2Sea website. There was only one press release for May on the Ice2Sea website when I looked there this morning (Australian time).

    The report looks pretty :) I’ll give it a read.

  10. 310

    Now I *like* this. British Columbia, one of two Canadian provinces with a carbon tax, now has a legislator from the Green party–and he’s been a lead author on several IPCC assessment reports.

    Yep–Dr. Andrew Weaver will now, we must presume, be speaking climatic truth to power from one of the the really good seats (to thoroughly mix up my figures of speech.)

  11. 311
    Hank Roberts says:

    Whoah, they buried the lede at the BBC:

    “However, the scientists stressed that …. if global emissions of carbon dioxide are not curtailed then the actual level of the sea by 2100 could be significantly higher than the Ice2Sea estimates.”

    Shorter: Our numbers assume intelligent behavior begins promptly.

  12. 312
    Patrick says:

    In the introductory video on the Ice2sea homepage David Vaughn says:”By the end of the century we expect sea levels to be at least 30 cm higher than they were in the year 2000. But with climate change that figure may be even larger, perhaps closer to a meter. The future security and prosperity of our growing coastal cities, and the survival of many unique coastal environments, requires that scientists produce reliable predictions of global sea level rise. Without those predictions our coastal defense planners are simply planning in the dark.” Sounds just like the talk in NYC and Newport News.

  13. 313
    sidd says:

    Prof. Steig has a paper out in Journal of Climate
    “Temperature change on the Antarctic Peninsula linked to the tropical Pacific”
    Ding and Steig


    Some discussion at

    And a charming paper on the increasing temperature of the ocean changing the composition of catch from fisheries

    Cheung et al., Nature, “Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch”


    and discussion


  14. 314
    Chris Colose says:


    Wow. FOX news is a riot. Thanks Gavin for volunteering to go on there. It’s a shame you had to be the victim of such a hostile host and environment. Not only wasn’t it a good discussion, wasn’t even “good TV.”

  15. 315
    flxible says:

    Andrew Weaver has switched from Climatology at the University of Victoria, BC to Green Party politician, taking a massive cut in pay.

  16. 316
    R. Gates says:

    Well, hats off to Gavin for being brave enough to go into the House of all Things Faux. But really, you’d have a better chance convincing a family of chimpanzees that anthropogenic climate change was something to be concerned about.

  17. 317
    Hank Roberts says:

    > FOX news is a riot. Thanks Gavin

    Second that.

    Climate scientist meets drama merchant. The guy with the fake hair and bulging eyes is a Fox employee and professional ‘ibertarian both, eh?

    Sad to see Spencer doing the “peace in our time” dance step — sounds like the antibiotic overuse promoters did a few decades back, saying they “help people now” (and profit). We’re just starting to get the real cost for those decades of antibiotic misuse now; next generation pays for climate change.

  18. 318
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Okay, I have to say that Gavin Schmidt walking away from debating Roy Spencer was a bad idea. If you indeed have the facts and proof on your side you should never shy away from a guy who is trying to disprove the Theory of Evolution.

    Sorry Gavin but you chickened out on this one. You have the facts, you have the proof and your have the science on your side. If you would bother to do any research on Roy Spencer you could have easily discredited him in a matter of seconds and moved on to the bigger issue of Climate Change. You CAN NOT BACK AWAY FROM A CHALLENGE!

    E-V-E-R. Especially on FOX News. It only makes you appear weak and hurts the cause. As much as I respect you as a scientist you should have stood your ground.

  19. 319
    jgnfld says:

    Good Lord! That announcer reminded me of something out of any number of dystopian sci fi movies (e.g., Hunger Games). That cannot be unconscious and it so patently obviously all an act that it, er, well, isn’t even funny.

  20. 320
    Steven Sullivan says:

    That was quite a Gish gallop Stossel was throwing at Gavin on that Fox piece.

  21. 321
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ah, here‘s Stossel’s problem.

  22. 322
    Radge Havers says:

    Stossel has been a professional spewer for decades:

    The problem with hubris:

  23. 323

    My take on hitting “400” last week. It may actually be a fresh POV:

  24. 324
    prokaryotes says:

    Today Alexander Bojanowski explained in SPEIGEL ( akbgkku), that there is no permafrost feedback – the headline reads “No release: Tundra secures dangerous greenhouse gas”, based on this study:

    Long-term warming restructures Arctic tundra without changing net soil carbon storage

    Because i have no access to the study i can not make final conclusion on the claims made. But i wonder how representative this study is actually (see Co2/plant greenhouse gas test has been shown to be lacking with real world obs). And how applicable are these findings for the different kinds of permafrost states and potential for thermokarst feedbacks.

  25. 325
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Breaking! 30 meters unlikely

    A new study suggests that the previous connections scientists made between ancient shoreline height and ice volumes are erroneous and that perhaps our ice sheets were more stable in the past than we originally thought. The study found that the Earth’s hot mantle pushed up segments of ancient shorelines over millions of years, making them appear higher now than they originally were millions of years ago.

  26. 326
    Jim Larsen says:

    Wow, Faux sure has gotten more fair. They only gave Spencer two slots to Gavin’s one, and only piled on one more loon at the end. That’s a mere 3-1 (with the one getting the worst spot, of course) on a subject where a mere 90+% of experts agree with the one. Can anybody remember a more fair and balanced Faux story ever?

  27. 327
    John E. Pearson says:

    It isn’t new news that the insurance companies are concerned about climate change. All the same this is a new article.

  28. 328
    sidd says:

    Slightly older news:The east coast of the USA is not the only evidence of high level sea stand …

  29. 329
    sidd says:

    In other news: Greenland 2013 melt has begun, i think.


  30. 330
    Patrick says:

    @317 Hank, “just starting to get the real cost of those decades of misuse of antibiotics” and “next generation pays for climate change” is an excellent comparison of process.

  31. 331
    Patrick says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, for your amazement, the great Ivan will now spin two or three plates of the same stuff in a number of different directions at once.

    Gavin Schmidt, you did a remarkable thing. You disarmed total-spin with complete transparency.

    It’s probably a communications first. If someone adequately names it, it will be ready to submit to the Book of Records.

  32. 332
  33. 333
  34. 334
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, and how much of CO2 production comes from the industrial production of meat, much involving misusing antibiotics? Maybe 20 percent?

    This stuff is connected.

  35. 335
    Jim Larsen says:

    Will NASA’s new quantumesque computer be used for climate science? It’s great for traveling salesman-type queries, where there are many possible answers, but only one is optimal.

  36. 336
    Hank Roberts says:

    Worth a look:

    “… : A rough draft of Part One is now available, comments are welcome!


    “… Yoram Bauman, an environmental economics Ph.D. and “the world’s first and only stand-up economist” …. co-author … of the two-volume Cartoon Introduction to Economics…. invited by the good folks at Island Press to create a Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change ….”

  37. 337
    Patrick says:

    Gavin I mean your tv appearance disarmed serial spin with basic transparency. You made it work. I hope you will be asked for more answers and comments in the same or similar format.

  38. 338
    James Cross says:


    Yes Greenland melt has begun but it is running slightly below the 1981-2010 average. May be something to do with the re-calibration.

    The adjusted algorithm shows greatly reduced melt extent for early 2013.

    The adjustment to the algorithm resulted in fewer melt days than previously indicated. The revised image at right shows new surface melting in 2013 in a few small areas along the central southeastern Greenland coast, within the region of earlier spurious melt signals but greatly reduced.

  39. 339
    Killian says:

    So let me see. In the last few days we have determined permafrost doesn’t really melt and sea level doesn’t rise? Is that about it?

    I thought or two.

    First, the way the sea level paper was described I got a niggling sense of confirmation bias. Can’t put my finger on it, but am wondering how all the sea level rise measurements could only be a result of crustal dynamics. That seems pretty unlikely. It would basically mean that Greenland and the WAIS simply never change much.

    Of course, maybe this only applies to the one period mentioned, in which case, why would this one warm period be so different from all the others?

    I can’t help thinking of the old saying that when one result is different from all others the most likely result is that the outlier is an outlier.

    Should be interesting.

    Regarding the permafrost study, I’m not sure I’d suggest that summer warming in Alaska is equal to global temp rise over centuries and longer. Of course, that thought is problematic when juxtaposed vs. recent years of rather dramatic changes.

    M’thinks we got us a couple of outliers and/or interpretations needing some work.

    Would be great news to find out that even though climate seems to be changing quickly, the ice sheets might be resilient. New Orleans and NY will be pleased.

    Hard to rationalize the current rate of SLR that has us headed for 1M+ rise this century vs. the SLR study, though.

    Or, maybe my basic premise that this time really is different. With all systems concurrently degraded rather than in a cascade of changes, there really is no corollary. Maybe the good news just doesn’t apply?

    reCAPTCHA seems to think I’m just squawking: each educaws.

  40. 340

    Sez here the Australian carbon tax is lowering emissions. We’ll see how long it lasts, though; Tony Abbott, the apparent winner-in-waiting of the coming election has said he’ll scrap it, and is very actively campaigning against it.

    Better hope the shift away from coal and toward renewables so glowingly described in the report is, indeed, “fundamental.”

  41. 341
    Killian says:

    Chuck Hughes says: Okay, I have to say that Gavin Schmidt walking away from debating Roy Spencer was a bad idea. If you indeed have the facts and proof on your side you should never shy away from a guy who is trying to disprove the Theory of Evolution.

    Your reasoning is flawed. Studies have shown repetition is the key. Literally repeat the lie often enough and the audience is left remembering the core lie and not the actual logic of the argument. Every time you engage False Equivalence you are aiding and abetting it.

    You don’t argue whether Santa exists or the Easter Bunny is real. Add to this the theories on change and population % thresholds needed to make it happen, we have far higher numbers than we should need to change the world. That is, we simply do not need to engage the deniers anymore. We are past the point where that is an effective strategy. I say that as someone who has been kicked off forums for kicking them in the teeth, aka calling them out without reservation. I thought then and think now we needed to do that. Not any more. Besides we don’t have time. WE probably don’t have time to transition let alone fight a rear guard action and build a new paradigm.

    Kudos, Gavin.

  42. 342
    Killian says:

    New analogy for climate denial. What do you think?

    Arguments such as Lindzen’s, where one possible area of uncertainty out of many lines of evidence is held up as basically counterbalancing all the other lines of evidence is the equivalent of a 1000-piece puzzle of an apple on a table with one or two pieces missing down near the corner.

    The missing pieces might be more table top, or a bug, or a crumb, or penny or what have you. Whatever they are, they don’t change the fact it’s a picture of an apple sitting on a table.

    Deniers are basically claiming the missing piece or two prove the picture is not of an apple, or that it is significantly likely not to be, so we shouldn’t call it a picture of an apple on a table.

    It might be a watermelon.

    And that’s why deniers aren’t good guests at puzzle parties. Or interviews and discussions on climate.

  43. 343
    Hank Roberts says:

    > disarmed serial spin with basic transparency
    Agree strongly. In very few words saying what’s not causing the warming — starting with ‘it’s not the sun’; catching Stossel saying he likes burning fossil fuel, pointing out that nobody liked the smog. And leaving the set.

    Chuck Hughes above is plain wrong; debating purveyors of nonsense suggests they have credibility.

  44. 344
    deconvoluter says:

    Re: my #264 and #305 and #314.

    “CO2 will raise food production”. ??

    That meme has now been raised twice in one thread. First by reference to the WSJ article, and then again by Matt Ridley (MR)* after Gavin’s contribution. We now have an extra reason for a proper discussion of it here.
    *In case American readers don’t realise it MR is not only a scientiic journalist. He was in charge of the Northern Rock bank which was the first one to go bust as far as I know. Although in an ideal world this would not be relevant it is worth noting that he is a staunch follower of the right wing economist Friedrich Hayek.

  45. 345

    #340–Funny, isn’t it, how these clowns insist that water (vapor) controls climate much more than CO2, but CO2 controls food production much more than water?

    Sure, in neither case are they really independent variables, but that’s already too nuanced for them.

  46. 346
    Susan Anderson says:

    Tangential to CO2 as plant food, it is particularly good for poison ivy, kudzu, and the like. Like some jellyfish, a lot of insects, and microorganisms, certain kinds of flora and fauna will be winners, and the rest of us losers with the loss of biodiversity at every scale (less interesting and useful creatures). Here are some pictures for those with an appetite for magnified monsters:–The-indestructible-micro-animals-survive-vacuum-space–blood.html

  47. 347
    Patrick says:

    @318 I see what you mean. But Gavin did not *back away* or *chicken out.* Just the opposite. He set (adjusted, negotiated) the rules. He said he was not there to debate, and not there to debate to make good [sticky] tv.He said he was there to tell about the science, and would be happy to come back for the same purpose again. And that’s exactly what he did, and didn’t.

    [Response: It’s worth pointing out that the ‘Roy sandwich’ format was sprung at the last minute and it is not one I would have agreed to ahead of time. I only agreed to a one-on-one interview with Stossel – the musical chairs stuff was all them. – gavin]

  48. 348
    Susan Anderson says:

    It is unfortunate that the way Dr. Schmidt approached that interview was the only possible way he could get the facts out. It was clear from the atmospherics that there was an effort to prevent him from saying even what he did say (which came out at speed and was highly accurate – quite a performance), along with a lot of play exploiting the appearance created by the difference in manner towards the welcome and unwelcome guests. imho this is why real scientists have learned to be careful about accepting improper debate offers.

  49. 349
    Susan Anderson says:

    just a side note: Obama bumped John Cook’s new effort to count:

    Obama gives Aussie researcher 31,541,507 reasons to celebrate

    Peter Hannam, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 2013

    It’s the social media equivalent of hitting the jackpot: having your study retweeted by US President Barack Obama.

    Australian researcher John Cook, an expert in climate change communication, was inundated with requests for interviews by US media outlets after Obama took to twitter to endorse his project’s final report.

    Barack Obama @BarackObama
    Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Read more: OFA.BO/gJsdFp [about 10 hours ago]

    h/t Tenney Naumer

  50. 350
    Radge Havers says:

    Moot. Spencer didn’t want to debate either.

    I think Gavin did about as well as is possible under the circumstances and at least got a toehold in the Fox camp. But as you well know, while much of their propaganda schtick may seem obvious and ham handed to everyone here, they know exactly how to give their audience the emotional kicks it craves.

    Even if you try to adjust the rules, in their house, the deck will always be stacked in one way or another to suit them. And they’ll throw every trick in the book at you. Notice how they ended, by countering Gavin’s intimidating English accent with another English accent set against a London backdrop.

    That said it was a sound and courageous showing by Gavin, even if one worries that it might have been a little like showing up at a major sewer line rupture next to an industrial hog farm and waving some potpourri around for a couple of minutes.