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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. 351
    Martin Vermeer says:

    the musical chairs stuff was all them

    But it was so predictable. Why should we believe you can predict anything if not this?


  2. 352
    sidd says:

    The Sistla paper studied a mossy acidic tussock system in Alaska and demonstrated stable net carbon storage in this ecosystem over twenty years, which is good news, but also warned that the equilibrium might be transitory, since:

    “Although increased decomposer activity did not offset increased car-
    bon inputs in the mineral soil, incubation studies suggest that labile
    carbon limits tundra mineral-soil-decomposer activity19. Thus,
    although greater carbon availability at depth may initially increase
    carbon storage, it remains uncertain whether the ecosystem response
    observed after 20 years of warming reflects a continued trajectory of
    increased net carbon storage or a transient state in which an activated decomposer system will ultimately outpace carbon inputs”

    Slightly more worrying, they see a simplification of the soil food web.

    In contrast, Vonk et al.

    study DIC export from yedoma around the Kolyma river and show that dissolved organic carbon exported after permafrost thaw is a)old (21Ky, dating to before present deglaciation) and b) highly biolabile, samples losing upto 40% DIC in 4 weeks of incubation. This is more evidence for instability of yedoma in our warming times, and is likely to amplify permafrost carbon feedback. They warn that their measurements of biolability might be an underestimate:

    “… measurements at river mouths may not be representative for the actual mobilization and turnover of permafrost C, as extensive processing of permafrost derived-C within the watershed may be masking the river mouth signal.”


  3. 353
    Toby says:

    Chuck Hughes @318

    Eveolutionists NEVER publicly debate Creationists because

    – It gives the crackpots a respectability they do not deserve
    – Why subject yourself to Gish gallops?
    – No matter what the outcome, even if the Creationist is dished, devastated and done, they always spin it as a major victory, not matter what the outcome. Deniers and disparagers of climate science would be no different, especially when talented spinners like Marc Morano get to work on you.
    – Going in with expectations of a pushover win, especially when the moderator is plainly biased, is a recipe for disaster. Public debating is all about courtroom rhetoric and conning the audience – OJ should have been found guily, remember?

    I have seen good, smart scientist beaten in debate by non-scientists who had denialism 101 at their fingertips, were full of apparent wow!-type “facts” and able to court their audience with personal anecdotes. A scientist trying to focus on the facts of the matter is liable to seem dry, boring and over the heads of the audience. Public debating is entertainment.

    I appreciate Gavin’s problem in the Roy Spencer has a superficial respectability. He did the best he could. But scientists are not rhetoricians.

  4. 354
    sidd says:

    A new estimate of glacier (not ice sheet) mass waste from 2003-2009:

    Using GRACE and ICESat they come up with an estimate of 259 +/- 28 GT/yr (0.71 +/- .08 mm/yr sea level rise) for the period. This is about the total mass waste from glaciers and ice sheets combined.


  5. 355
    MARodger says:

    The U-Tube of the Fox News interview (linked @305) does give the impression of being a peek inside the lunatic asylum. A debate with Spencer with a crazy man doing the questioning? It may be good comedy but, as the musical chairs demonstrated, that crazy man couldn’t give a damn about his interviewees and was running his own agenda. Insisting on a one-on-one interview made good sense.

    And the follow-on talk with Matt Ridley reinforces such argument. Okay. Ridley is one of the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy (I think that’s what GWPF stands for) so he can be expected never to hold back on reasons for CO2 being good for the planet, how ever unreasonable those reasons prove to be. And he tests how much unreason he can get away with at the end his wittering by his assertion that getting rid of the evils of slavery happened only because we had and continue to have cheap fossil fuels.
    Insisting on a one-to-one interview made very good sense!!

  6. 356
    SecularAnimist says:

    It’s great that Obama retweeted John Cook’s study.

    Now if he would only do something about it.

  7. 357
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Deniers are basically claiming the missing piece or two

    Yep, it’s an old tactic: claiming the gray are, the “gaps” or “missing data” must be where their preferred proof or answer is hiding.

    Your “jigsaw puzzle piece” analogy fails because the denial includes asserting that nobody can know in advance anything about what’s missing, certainly not the exact size and shape of the hole — let alone what part of the picture is on their supposed missing piece. They’ll tell you the missing piece might be bigger, or more powerful, than anything you know about.

    That’s where you have to remind them that their missing great and powerful force has to exactly counterbalance the known forcings -plus- make up for the amount of the known forcings, to fit observed reality.

    Then they’ll tell you you haven’t observed all of reality, because there are these gaps ….

    And this is why scientists don’t productively debate deniers, and probably why Stossel tried his last minute switch.

  8. 358
    Turboblocke says:

    I’ve noticed that recently some deniers are pushing the meme that the main cause of climate change is… everyone else. Of course they call it “population growth”. So I looked at Google trends, searching “climate change population growth” and ” global warming population growth”.
    I was surprised to find minimal activity before a huge spike in December 2006 and practically no activity outside the USA. Anyone got any idea why this should be?

  9. 359
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… based on the content of the study, we can presume this will be denied as well.”

  10. 360
    sidd says:

    Prof. Box remains busy. Over on, _three_ papers on Greenland on closing the mass budget. The third describes a theory relating marine ice discharge to melt runoff. The mechanisms are

    1)”… reduced ice viscosity due to cryo-hydrologic warming driven by enhanced meltwater availability …” This sentence is expanded later:
    “Once in the englacial or subglacial hydrologic systems, meltwater warms surrounding background ice; primarily by acting as a latent heat source during refreezing (Phillips et al., 2010), and secondarily by acting as a frictional heat source during flow (Nye, 1976). As the background ice warms, its effective viscosity decreases, ultimately increasing deformational ice flow velocities (van der Veen et al., 2011, Phillips et al., submitted),and hence calving rates at tidewater glaciers.”

    I believe Mr. Aaron Lewis had some strong words on this subject.

    2) “Surface meltwater also contributes to enhanced basal sliding through local lubrication and pressurization of the subglacial water drainage network”

    3)”Meltwater exits the subglacial environment into the sea, driving the entrainment of sea water, which produces underwater melt rates on the order of meters per day”

    4)”Surface melting delivers water to fill supraglacial depressions, including crevasses … Crevassed areas absorb more solar radiation, and consequently undergo more ablation, than comparable flat ice areas … these observations suggest that runoff can influence glacier calving rate through increased hydrofracture and crevasse extent, resulting in enhanced meltwater delivery to the bed, and ultimately enhanced basal sliding. Enhanced crevassing also decreases the structural integrity of the ice delivered to the glacier front, enhancing iceberg calving. Under conditions of sufficient runoff, a positive feedback is conceivable between increasing runoff (due to crevasse-enhanced ablation), increasing crevasse hydrofracture (due to enhanced runoff) and tidewater glacier acceleration (resulting in increased crevasse area).”

    I note that he does not mention here the recent summer albedo feedback which is well documented at and in doi:10.5194/tc-6-821-2012


  11. 361
    Hank Roberts says:

    > google trends
    Which words you include — the “quoted string” meaning the exact words inside the quotation marks — makes the difference.

  12. 362
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Sidd #354,

    Using GRACE and ICESat they come up with an estimate of 259 +/- 28 GT/yr (0.71 +/- .08 mm/yr sea level rise) for the period. This is about the total mass waste from glaciers and ice sheets combined.

    I think what you are trying to say (and the abstract says) is that the two big ice sheets add another, similar amount. The value reported is 29% of observed sea-level rise; adding another 29% for the two big ice sheets leaves 42% for thermosteric sea-water expansion (unmentioned the substantial uncertainties, and noting this is specifically for 2003-2009, so likely to be noisy).

  13. 363
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Okay, I stand corrected on my above comment. Let me retract portions of my previous statement about “backing away from a challenge or being chickening out.”

    I forget just how rigged the situation is at FAUX then I think of how they responded to Jim Carrey when he made fun of Charleston Heston and the NRA. The beating went on for days but I must say that Jim Carrey hit back several times calling FOX News out for being a phony news source but Jim Carrey also had the facts on his side which helped him to withstand the criticism and weather the shit storm coming from the idiots on FOX and Friends. He also proved that you should never engage in a war of words with a professional comedian who has made a career out of dealing with hecklers. Jim Carrey may be able to act like a buffoon on screen but it’s just an act. He knows who the real buffoons are and he made them look foolish. This is exactly how you deal with people like Roy Spencer and others. You have to meet them on their own turf and show them for the fools that they are.

    Soooo… when you have a “moron” like Roy Spencer who claims to be a scientist and he’s trying to disprove the Theory of Evolution I would think one could start off by quoting some of the more absurd things he’s said about that and THEN take him on with some basic physics about CO2. For instance… Bill Nye has a really nice short video explaining the process here:

    You’re not going to educate the willfully ignorant no matter what you do but there would be some “intelligent” younger folks whose parents or spouse force them to watch FOX that would probably get it and be happy to hear a REAL scientist explain how Climate Change works.

    As a teacher in a public school I sometimes present information on this topic based on the physics of Acoustics when I explain how a feedback loop works. Using an acoustic guitar and amp in close proximity and gradually turning up the volume. I see the jet stream working the same way a guitar string works in that if you slow down the vibrations by lowering the pitch the string becomes wobbly. It’s easily demonstrated that way. Decrease the contrast between hot and cold and you get the same result with any ocean or air current, the way I understand it.

    I totally agree that a working scientist doesn’t have time to debate a moron like Roy Spencer but he’s NOT the guy you’re trying to reach. It’s the victims of the misinformation you are trying to get to. So good ol Roy says a bunch of nonsense… cut to a clip of James Balog footage of an ice sheet the size of Manhattan calving off and have Roy explain where all the ice is going and why it’s going so fast. When you have literally mountains of proof on your side you have to use whatever forum you’re handed and make the best of it.

    FOX is probably the worst possible format for presenting such a thing but look at the sponsors backing away from Rush Limbaugh and Clear Channel now that they’ve finally been exposed for what they are. If our biggest enemy is the campaign of disinformation coming from the deniers, then I would think you have to meet them head on with the facts and keep hitting them with the facts. There’s no other choice. Eventually the facts will win out because that’s the reality of the situation and the clock is ticking. My sincere apologies to Gavin. PLEASE KEEP SPEAKING OUT!!! We need you on the front lines of this battle, even if it means having to wade into a sewer like FAUX.

    As much as some may hate it, scientists are going to have to become familiar public figures to the American population or we run a serious risk of losing this fight.

  14. 364
    Killian says:

    Hank Roberts said, Deniers are basically claiming the missing piece or two

    Yep, it’s an old tactic: claiming the gray are, the “gaps” or “missing data” must be where their preferred proof or answer is hiding.

    Your “jigsaw puzzle piece” analogy fails because the denial **includes**

    It’s an analogy, not a theory of everything.

    asserting that nobody can know in advance anything about what’s missing

    Yup, one thing that might be the missing pieces.

    certainly not the exact size and shape of the hole

    Again, an analogy, so this point doesn’t break the analogy.

    They’ll tell you the missing piece might be bigger, or more powerful, than anything you know about.

    Which is a point made with the analogy both explicitly and implicitly.

    That’s where you have to remind them that their missing great and powerful force has to exactly counterbalance the known forcings -plus- make up for the amount of the known forcings, to fit observed reality.

    Yup, also covered.

    Then they’ll tell you you haven’t observed all of reality, because there are these gaps

    Also implied.

    And this is why scientists don’t productively debate deniers, and probably why Stossel tried his last minute switch.

    Yup. Any time the person gets petty, moves the goal posts, etc., you know *they* know they are full of it. This is why I am not reticent to call prevarication wrt the mutterings of denialists. That, may be unfair to some of the Joe Average Denier folk, who are sometimes more accurately seen as victims of the denial propaganda. (Hard to tell, though.)

    Thanks for the feedback. I think you can consider the pieces missing to be an issue or all of denial since all of denial amounts to pretty much nothing. But perhaps it needs to be shorter and simpler to be soundbite digestible, or more pieces missing. That said, analogies aren’t meant to make a detailed argument, just get to the gist of a thing… Still, revised due to your response:

    Climate denialists arguments, where one or a few minor possible areas of uncertainty are claimed to essentially bring into doubt a rather large number of other lines of established evidence, is the equivalent of a 1000-piece puzzle of an apple on a table with pieces missing here and there.

    The missing pieces might be more table top, a bit of apple, something on the table 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 a few missing pieces 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 – even though you can see 95% of the apple.

    And that’s why deniers aren’t good guests at puzzle parties, or interviews and discussions on climate, or when setting public policy on climate issues: They will try to convince you apples are watermelons.

    reCAPTCHA seems to have gotten a whiff of denial: odor ndnine

  15. 365
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Chuck Hughes
    > “moron”

    I wonder if Dr. Spencer too was misinformed by Stossel about the arrangements Stossel had made. Stossel was willing to lie to set up the theatrics he uses to get viewers’ attention, we know that. Are you falling for the “let’s you and him fight” game? Be careful.

    “Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.”

    Coming to a science blog to call people names? Not particularly useful.
    Dissing any religious belief that you don’t 100 percent approve?
    This, historically, hasn’t worked out well. People differ and disagree on matters of faith and belief while living in the same world day to day. That allows progress to be made.

    The real evil tactic is to polarize — push people to extremes, fund and encourage the extremes. Hollow out the middle ground where people can find _some_ agreement while they disagree on much else.

    Polarizing to delay action is an old tactic recently well documented; look at how effectively it’s been done. Don’t fall into that. Don’t be suckered by it.

    Dr. Spencer — with whom I would disagree on many points — does persist in a sincere effort to educate many of the readers who flock to his blog and spend much time promoting their misunderstandings and fantasies about physics. He can and does reach and sometimes educate people badly in need of such attention, or at least warn off new readers soberly and regularly from the promoters of stuff that’s nonsense physics.

    Appeal to intelligence and reason where you find it; none of us has it all.
    Find the progress we can agree makes sense.

    Do you remember what Adlai Stevenson said about winning elections?

  16. 366
    Radge Havers says:

    CH @ ~ 363

    If you go to a fireball show and hear old flatties speaking ciazarn and calling you Clem, you’d damn well better know what you’re doing. Otherwise get out. The characters at Fox are weapons grade carnies.

  17. 367
    sidd says:

    Mr. Vermeer, you are of course correct. The missing word was ‘half,’ the sentence should read

    “This is about half the total mass waste from glaciers and ice sheets combined.”

    thanx for the correction.


  18. 368
    Hank Roberts says:

    ps, of course I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m part of the audience/peanut gallery here. Did anyone who knows — Dr. Spencer or whatsisname at fox– hint whether Spencer cooperated in trying to trap Gavin with surprise “debate” seating, or was equally set up?

    Equally. I joke.

    “… our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.” — MLKing Jr.

  19. 369

    I remember back in 2007 when Gavin wrote about the Arctic Sea Ice “not getting the memo” with respect to it not behaving like the models project. Now I write a memo from the Arctic revealing a new method to study sea ice. It offers the most accurate results instantly, I strongly recommend all in the field to take a look..

  20. 370
    Patrick says:

    The “This American Life” radio segment, from today, on climate change:

    Does what radio does best: a sense of immediacy about what’s going on. It’s all good. Some things you might not expect. I note, from a linked text: “E&EI [Energy and Enterprise Initiative] maintains that the accountability of a ‘true cost’ comparison between competing fuels will drive innovation and economic growth.”

  21. 371
    sidd says:

    In regard to the 259GT/yr estimate for the period 200-2009 from glaciers being about the same as the loss from ice sheets over that period: In 2012 the loss from the Greenland ice sheet _alone_ was 574 GT

    Reality, it seems, outstrips reports.


  22. 372
    Hank Roberts says:

    Just to be clear on the attribution in Killian’s post at 18 May 2013 at 6:10 AM — the boldface that somehow replaced an angle bracket flips the apparent attribution of the first bit. So, tiresomly, for the exercise:

    Killian originally wrote the line that appears misattributed to me, which should appear with a right angle bracket as the first character:

    >Deniers are basically claiming the missing piece or two

    And following that, I was the one who wrote:

    “Yep, it’s an old tactic: claiming the gray are, the “gaps” or “missing data” must be where their preferred proof or answer is hiding.”

    From there on, the boldface correctly got itself applied to the quoted text. Go figure. Just another thing to be wary of about the blog software.

  23. 373
    sidd says:

    Re: previous comment:

    “In regard to the 259GT/yr estimate for the period 200-2009”
    should read “2003-2009”

    No correction will be left uncorrected …


  24. 374
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Chuck Hughes says:
    19 May 2013 at 3:40 AM
    Okay, let me try and get out of this by saying in essence that…. prominent scientists like Gavin Schmidt, (maybe not Gavin personally) but SOMEBODY should be engaging “the public” in whatever forum is available in hopes of educating those who will listen.

    Legislation must be passed for progress to occur.Sandra Fluke took on Rush Limbaugh and Clear Channel and is winning. She faced withering criticism from the Right but Rush has very few sponsors left now. It is a winnable fight. Maybe FOX News is beyond hope but CNN isn’t. Joe Scarborough and his show “Morning Joe” isn’t.

    If people like Roy Spencer can get away with promoting Intelligent Design as a legitimate idea how can anyone expect the average person to wrap their heads around the concept of Climate Change? We need more people like Bill Nye out there. Brian Green, Peter Ward, Michio Kaku etc. There are several prominamt Conservatives like Andrew Sullivan who would give voice to some Climate Scientists as well.

    The point I’m trying to make is that we need a PR section in the scientific community engaging the public on a regular basis who have the ability to explain the mechanics of Climate science in a way the average person can understand. Whether it’s FOX News or the National Enquirer or the New York Times shouldn’t matter. You’re going to be wading into a political firestorm no matter what you do, even if you’re just talking amongst yourselves. The Climatic Research Unit email controversy proved that already.

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t walk up to Roy and call him a moron. I would never suggest name calling as a winning strategy for anything. Jim Carrey’s technique of utilizing humor and satire DID work. Most people don’t think of scientists as having a sense of humor but sometimes it goes a long way toward winning people over. Next time you debate Roy whip out a picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur and see if it doesn’t get a few laughs. I call it the Rubber Chicken of Intelligent Design.

  25. 375
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Chuck Hughes,

    I don’t doubt that you mean well, but let’s be clear: outreach to the public is a professional job, especially in the presence of powerful enemies. You’re not such a professional and neither am I, but at least Gavin has years of amateur experience behind his teeth.

    About ‘explaining the mechanics of climate science’ in a way that not only the average person can understand, but which is not wrong, takes years of study. I walked that road; not even to the end, and I am not an average person.

    …and about a picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur presented on prime-time US television, really? In the context of winning people over? Wow.

  26. 376
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I wouldn’t walk up to Roy and call him a moron.

    You’re doing this backward. Notice how easy it is to be offensive, hiding behind a computer? Because you feel hidden and safe. But your computer message _does_ walk right up to other people and goes on doing it, forever.

    Were your offensive name-calling face-to-face and personal, it would be transient and ephemeral — done and gone when you stop — and you’d also know exactly what consequences ensued, and to whom.

    Whatever competence you have to discuss his climatology publications would be equally visible to whatever audience at whatever meeting.

    By contrast — imagine you’d popped into the pre-warmed chair between Stossel and Spencer and started your notion of appropriate public education.

    That audience would know what you think — plus however far your ideas got propagated — just as what you’ve typed online may get propagated.

    I hope you think hard about your approach to public education. You’re a school teacher, eh?

    Do you recall Adlai Stevenson’s take on winning elections?
    Do ya?

  27. 377
    Hank Roberts says:

    Another fine opportunity has come to rejigger some models for sea level change:

    It’s starting to seem like science needs an infrastruture that takes all the archived papers and code and models, and when a new discovery like this would change the underlying base numbers — reruns the paper automagically and flags any likely change in the conclusions based on the new numbers.

    You can’t expect a group of scientists to reassemble to re-do everything — science grows like kudzu, greening up wherever it hits an unexploited area of stuff to dig into, not always going back to some original basis.

    But when the studies that led people off in interesting directions get reconsidered — that may change the assumptions used for a lot of followup work. Or, often, may not change them enough to change the conclusions.

    But new info about old work needs to ripple through an extended web of later work.

  28. 378
    Ambulator says:

    Do you recall Adlai Stevenson’s take on winning elections?

    I’m not sure. This one?
    “I’m not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”

  29. 379
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Sorry I butted in to the conversation. Obviously I have no business entering into this discussion. I do learn a lot by reading and I appreciate the uphill battle involved. Just trying to understand the situation as best I can. I never claimed to be a professional scientist or any type of authority on the subject. I am concerned as anyone would be and like anyone else I have my opinions about things. I wish you all the best in your endeavors here and abroad. I have nothing else to add and I’m not trying to hide behind a computer. I’m too old for that. Thanks for your input. Again my apologies.

  30. 380
    Killian says:

    What we need is a week-long series on TV headlined by the President using the “Bully Pulpit” on all public channels with the assistance of the best thinkers in the world on the basic issues of the day, broadly defined as sustainability: Growth and exponents > the non-rational nature of classical and neoclassical economics > resource depletion and resource limits > degradation of the ecosphere > climate change > mitigation and adaptation > sustainable solutions with current knowledge and technology > what the world must look like in a 2C+ world > what the world would look like in a post-2C+ world returned to <300ppm.

    This would not countenance nor include a single moment of false equivalence.

    That is what we need, but will never get. So, while it would be great to get the attention of the president and for all scientists to realize that this time really is different and that it really would be great idea for pretty much all of them to become citizen scientists/activists, what we actually have is a vast majority of all politicians *and* scientists *and* economists *and* business people all promoting everything except sustainably designed communities except in name.

    Even here, technological, unsustainable solutions get far more airplay than truly sustainable solutions.

  31. 381
    simon abingdon says:

    #374 Chuck Hughes (I wouldn’t walk up to Roy and call him a moron) survives the normal humiliation/condemnation of the Bore Hole. (Because his views are otherwise acceptable perhaps?)

  32. 382
    Killian says:

    Hardly a surprise: more systemic approach equals more accurate results in better agreement with other data.

    3 part study reconstructs Greenland ice sheet mass budget since 1840 and presents a theory connecting surface meltwater with ice deformational flow

    “Paper III puts forth a theory* linking surface melting with ice flow dynamics. The two are by now too often examined in isolation. Our not so old science of glaciology, beginning in earnest in the late 1950s, can now begin unifying surface and ice dynamics processes at the ice sheet scale. In stark contrast to the messaging that the recent Nick et al modeling study produced, we may expect plenty more sea level contribution from Greenland than current models predict. The misreporting of otherwise good science refers to ice flow to the sea as “melt”. Ice deformational flow is a distinct process from melt. Yet, melt and ice deformational flow are in fact intertwined processes. Self-reinforcing amplifying feedbacks outnumbering damping feedbacks by a large margin (Cuffey and Patterson, 2010, chapter 14) ensure that given a climate warming perturbation, a.k.a. the Hockey Stick, we’ll see a stronger reponse of ice to climate than is currently encoded by models. More on that later.”

  33. 383
    David B. Benson says:

    Latest issue of The Nation has an article on climate change.

  34. 384
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Ice deformational flow is a distinct process from melt.
    > Yet, melt and ice deformational flow … amplifying feedbacks outnumber[]
    > damping feedbacks by a large margin

    Where do they calculate? How big is the change from previous models in what regards?

  35. 385
    Corey Barcus says:

    I think there would be a lot less friction with regards to denialists questioning the legitimacy of climate science if the scientific community were to collectively present a viable economic response to the emission problem. Raising the cost of energy seems to be the central point of contention. We could use a new industrial revolution anyway, so why not tout molten salt reactors as the path forward? There is no question whether they will work on the scale of tens of terawatts, they can produce high quality process heat, and they’ll revolutionize the nuclear industry due to their inherent safety features and high efficiency.

    We could accomplish far more in less time with MSRs and $billions than we’ll ever accomplish with renewables and $trillions. It is a far better business plan with greatly reduced risk, and it’ll give people hope for the future. Why not push this so that we can overcome the political barriers that continue to impede its development?

    Consequently, the Thorium Energy Alliance is having their 5th annual conference in Chicago at the end of this month, so tune in to see the latest developments!

  36. 386
    Hank Roberts says:

    > viable economic

    Hard to think what you might or might not already know.

    What have you looked at so far?
    Have you read the public health journals?
    Searched Google Scholar, or asked your local librarian?

  37. 387
    sidd says:

    Mr. Hank Roberts asks on the 19th of May 2013, at 6:42 PM:

    “Where do they calculate ?”

    I believe the reference is to Prof. Box’s three papers at

    I have some quotes from the third earlier in this thread on the 17th of May, 2013 at 3:58 PM


  38. 388
    ozajh says:

    Ambulator #378,

    I think Hank Roberts may be referring to Adlai Stevenson’s responding “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!” when a woman called out to him “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” during one of his presidential campaigns.

    I believe this exchange was never actually confirmed.

  39. 389
    Jim Larsen says:

    Hank R said, “science grows like kudzu, greening up wherever it hits an unexploited area of stuff to dig into,”

    It’s said that kudzu is best fertilized with motor oil to reduce friction as it grows. My only quibble is that it doesn’t much matter if the space is already exploited or not. Kudzu eats trees.

  40. 390
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Simon #381,

    Chuck Hughes, unlike some, does not remotely deserve the borehole. He doesn’t troll, he doesn’t put his ego before the conversation, he’s just trying to learn, the hard way. That’s what Real Climate is for.

  41. 391
    Hank Roberts says:

    > why not tout molten salt

    Took about 5 minutes to find some of the uncertainties, from replacement due to fast neutron damage, to the separate chemical plant they have to build next door to filter the liquid metal coolant. Don’t go there yet, it isn’t there yet.

    > why not tout
    They pay professional PR companies to do that.

  42. 392
    Patrick says:

    It was stunning to find William Happer doing an article tour May 17:

    I think this is babel in the biblical sense. It shows how much de-confusing is left to do.

    From DeSmogBlog 2012-3-20:

    I got this link: (GWPF) Briefing Paper No3 “The Truth About Greenhouse Gases”

    Happer says:

    “Both the United States Navy (for submariners) and NASA (for astronauts) have performed extensive studies of human tolerance to CO2. As a result of these studies, the Navy recommends an upper limit of about 8000 ppm for cruises of ninety days, and NASA recommends an upper limit of 5000 ppm for missions of one thousand days, both assuming a total pressure of one atmosphere. Higher levels are acceptable for missions of only a few days. We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above about 150ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid harming people. That is a big range, and our atmosphere is much closer to the lower end than the upper end. We were not that far from CO2 anorexia when massive burning of fossil fuels began. At the current rate of burning fossil fuels, we are adding about 2 ppm of CO2 per year to the atmosphere, so getting from our current level to 1000 ppm would take about 300 years—and 1000 ppm is still less than what most plants would prefer, and much less than either the NASA or the Navy limit. …

    “In our efforts to conserve the beautiful planet that is our home, we should not fixate on CO2. …And it is high time that we assess great expanses of windmills and solar-panels in the previously unspoiled open spaces of the world with the same objectiveness that we apply to other human perturbations of nature.”

    I would say, in reply, that it is high time we assess the damage and costs of unseen human perturbations of nature with the same objectiveness that we apply to the obvious. Big and high-profile least-harmful energy generation is alright with me. It’s a result of rationality and purpose, and a reminder of same. It’s a start on something new in more ways than one.

    The first excerpt above shows the kind of thinking that underlies the big CO2 numbers that Happer quips are harmless.

    What stunned me most was that I had been slogging through a little raypierre Part I (A Saturated Gassy Argument 26 June ’07) to get an idea of the aptness, and not, of the greenhouse (“single pane of glass”) image to the actual physics of heat energy and atmospheric CO2–when I came upon William Happer (video above) seeming to suggest literal glass greenhouses with added CO2 as the template for a one-way experiment with the whole “beautiful planet” (his words, above).

    This was stunning, from a physicist. He seems to be (by my nose) the frontispiece for a gross effort to belittle, discredit and dismantle state-of-the art climate science, practicing climate scientists, the IPCC, and the leadership of a number of scientific societies.

    He states a “moral” cause. It seems that because he is so convinced of the rightness of his cause, he bathes continually in the first fallacy of ethics: namely, that the end justifies the means.

  43. 393
    Patrick says:

    “E&EI [Energy and Enterprise Initiative] maintains that the accountability of a ‘true cost’ comparison between competing fuels will drive innovation and economic growth.”

    I mentioned this @ 370, but I didn’t link it. Here’s the link:

    I’m linking it because: if some nominally conservative markets-oriented network or other wants to interview a leader who doesn’t need to disparage climate science–now they have no excuse.

  44. 394
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Okay, this is more like what I was hoping for and apparently it’s already happening. I thought this might be worth sharing:

    “A Troubling Trend
    In recent years, however, understanding of science and respect for its role in decision making have declined. An excessively partisan political climate and an increasingly noisy media landscape have combined to produce an environment in which science is easily drowned out by misinformation or manipulated for the benefit of private interests.

    And this couldn’t be happening at a worse time. Our leaders are grappling with some of the most complex and daunting problems in our history: stemming the tide of global warming, finding sustainable ways to feed, power and transport ourselves, reducing the threat of catastrophic war. We cannot hope to solve these problems without the aid of rigorous, independent science.”

    “Restoring Science’s Role
    In response to these challenges, the Union of Concerned Scientists has launched a new intiative: the Center for Science and Democracy. The Center is dedicated to strengthening the essential role of science, evidence-based knowledge, and constructive debate in the U.S. policymaking process, using three core strategies:

    Restoring public confidence in, and support for, the use of independent science in public policy making;
    Helping decision makers, citizens and journalists distinguish evidence-based information from propaganda.

    Working with scientists to help them become more effective communicators and policy contributors.”

  45. 395

    @Chuck 379

    You have nothing to apologize for – we all share your frustration, but the PR battle has little to do with facts, and almost everything to do with money, presentation and the psychology of belief, faith and denial. These are hard, and waving facts has little effect – brains set like concrete and won’t adapt unless their beliefs result in obvious and severe personal consequences and pain, and even then they can invent fantastic conspiracies to rationalize anything.

    Would Inhofe change his belief if a tornado dropped his house in Kansas? – I don’t think so. The Tea Party and him have too much invested in their ‘hoax’ faith, and have dug a hole so deep that they can only keep digging until the sides collapse. They made a grave mistake 10 years ago when they adopted this position of denial instead of embracing and adapting. They are approaching a schism in their Matrix, and it may implode this or next year when reality exposes their denial beyond their ability to spin. There are signs of this happening in the party as the rate of climate change starts to overtake generational ‘churn’.

    Best way is to reach new humans and educate them before motivated ideology sets in, and let the dinosaurs die out, but there isn’t much time left for this organic solution. Policies have to change within this decade.

    Sometimes I just wish Greenland would just hurry up and slide into the sea and end the stupidity, but that’s not going to happen. After 400ppm, the next myriennial event will be the disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice – this may wake some up, but the evidence seems to be that it’ll just cause a ‘coldrush’ – the vultures are already gathering.

    So all we have is grass-roots social media, blogs, word of mouth, schools and universities and a few enlightened media organizations against massively powerful special interests. Let’s hope education, communication and democracy will triumph.

  46. 396
    Greg Simpson says:

    Took about 5 minutes to find some of the uncertainties, from replacement due to fast neutron damage, to the separate chemical plant they have to build next door to filter the liquid metal coolant.

    Molten salt is the coolant in a molten salt reactor. There is no liquid metal that I can think of. Maybe you should spend more than five minutes learning about this.

  47. 397
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chuck, speaking as another old guy, don’t leave, organize.

    You likely have heard scientists in person (in the halls at meetings, at home in conversation) — often they are just as blunt as you want to be. I’m not arguing against what you think, I’m arguing for choosing the tactic: finding whatever in common we can find with people who we in some ways disagree with. Low-hanging fruit. Choices that make sense: less waste, less damage, recovering from our mistakes instead of making them worse.

    Carrying a picture that might make people laugh and then think instead of get offended and then angry. This:

    Or this one:

    That “first appeared in USA Today in December of 2009, on the Monday before the Copenhagen climate change conference.”

    You can show that to anybody (except maybe the coal company owners) and have them nod and say, well, yeah ….

    UCSUSA does a good job, glad you found that.

    See also:
    “… a service to provide accurate information on climate science in response to media and government queries, by matching members of the media and government with questions, to the working climate scientists best able to answer.

  48. 398
    Hank Roberts says:

    Brief excerpt follows; but take the link, it’s worth reading in full


    “… Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? …. uncharitable interpretation … gives you an easy target to attack.

    But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters. The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one’s opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

    How to compose a successful critical commentary:

    1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

    2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

    3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

    4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

    One immediate effect of following these rules is that your targets will be a receptive audience for your criticism: you have already shown that you understand their positions as well as they do, and have demonstrated good judgment (you agree with them on some important matters and have even been persuaded by something they said). Following Rapoport’s rules is always, for me, something of a struggle …. ”

    ———end excerpt————–

  49. 399
    Martin Vermeer says:

    > UCSUSA does a good job, glad you found that.

    Don’t forget the NCSE. They are into climate too nowadays, and they’re good. One would do wise to consider their advice on debates, but which would actually apply to participation in any forum where there is no fair and effective moderation.

  50. 400
    Hank Roberts says:

    An interesting contrast — particularly for those who want to wait until “scientists” are ready to recommend policy:

    Consider the research scientists’ public health perspective on antibiotic use (which does not fit in any way the business approach to making and selling antibiotics for wholesale use as fruit tree sprays, hog and cattle feed, and widespread distribution in ton lots).

    It took about 60 years for the scientists to reach the point of making these recommendations.

    Can you say “too late?”

    Can you say it again?

    “The collapse of the antibiotic research-and-development pipeline is the result of both economic and regulatory barriers. The solution is better alignment of economic and regulatory approaches to antibiotic development….”