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Unforced Variations: Nov 2013

Filed under: — group @ 2 November 2013

This month’s open thread…

289 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2013”

  1. 101
    Fergus Brown says:

    Change of subject: Has anyone looked at the AMSR2 Antarctic maps recently? It looks odd to me; lots of coastal melting?? Someone reassure me..

  2. 102

    #96–Er, no. SA’s comment may not be certainly correct–and how often is a complex position like that ever ‘certainly correct?’–but it is very far from “baseless.” Events such as the 2003 heatwave, the 2010 heatwave/wildfire event, and the 2012 drought–to name just a few of the most well-known–have cost on the order of 100,000 premature deaths and $100 billion in economic losses. While some of these events might have occurred without the observed climatic warming, it’s pretty likely that not all of them would.

    A relevant discussion here:

    More recently, the accepted draft of AR5’s Technical Summary says:

    “…it is now very likely that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to the observed changes in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes on the global scale since the mid-20th century. It is likely that human influence has significantly increased the probability of occurrence of heat waves in some locations…”

    Nor is it just heatwaves; there is reason to think that precipitation events have been affected:

    “Since the AR4, there is some new limited direct evidence for an anthropogenic influence on extreme precipitation, including a formal detection and attribution study and indirect evidence that extreme precipitation would be expected to have increased given the evidence of anthropogenic influence on various aspects of the global hydrological cycle and high confidence that the intensity of extreme precipitation events will increase with warming, at a rate well exceeding that of the mean precipitation. . In land regions where observational coverage is sufficient for assessment, there is medium confidence that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to a global-scale intensification of heavy precipitation over the second half of the 20th century.”

    Heavily caveated (to create an ugly verb), but still a basis for thinking that such events as the recent Colorado floods, the Alberta floods, and even the Toronto flood could well be related to climate change:

    Roughly $4 billion in preliminary loss estimates in roughly 3 months–just in North America, and just off the top of my head.

    To be very clear: again, I’m not making an attribution claim that all of these ‘must’ be due to climate change. But all were extreme events, both in terms of precipitation rates and of cost, of the sort which we expect to become much more frequent given both theory and observed metrics such as precipitable water in the atmosphere. These events would thus be good candidates for attribution studies–as Bob Henson of UCAR remarked in connection with the colorado event:

    Link to AR5 TS:

  3. 103
  4. 104

    #101, 103–Thanks for the handy link, Hank.

    I don’t think you can assume melting as the cause of concentration drops; winds and currents can have a big effect, too. That said, the SH melt season is now well underway; November there is (roughly speaking) equivalent to NH May, after all.

    (Said the Master of ‘pointing out the obvious.’ Hope my comment wasn’t too bumptious.)

  5. 105
    wili says:

    While the total number of cyclones may not increase (though there seems to be quite a bit of uncertainty here), the intense ones are projected to increase. I hope that clarifies what I was intending to say above.

  6. 106
    wili says:

    Hank, thanks for the well-known link to the uni-bremen site. But when you post such links with no comment, we are left wondering what you intend by it. Do you have a point you wish to share? I ask, because you always have interesting and important things to say (even if I don’t always agree), so I don’t want to miss whatever point it is you are trying to make here. Thanks ahead of time for any clarification.

    Meanwhile, reports are starting to come in on the devastating effects of Haiyan:

    “I was gob-smacked as we made our final approach into the ruins of the airport in Tacloban — the first major population center in the Philippines to be struck by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

    Entire forests of palm trees on hilltops had been flattened by the sheer force of the storm.

    I’d never seen anything like it.

    It was a sight the other Filipino passengers on our plane had never seen either.

    As we got closer to the town we could make out villages, their roads completely flooded. Then Tacloban itself — it looked completely devastated. It was as if a giant hand had come from the sky and just crushed it.”

  7. 107
    dhogaza says:

    Dan H:

    “How can you be quite sure that they will become worse and more common. Even the IPCC does not concur…”

    then goes on to quote sources that state that no observed trend exists for the LAST CENTURY, the last century, of course, not being the next century …

  8. 108
    wili says:

    [b]Typhoon Haiyan overshadows U.N. climate talks as Philippines envoy breaks down in tears[/b]

    [quote]The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan cast a gloom over U.N. climate talks Monday as the envoy from the Philippines broke down in tears and announced he would fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”

    Naderev “Yeb” Sano’s emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming.[/quote]

    “We can fix this, we can stop this madness.” Met with a standing ovation.

    “If not us, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?”

    Unfortunately, this eloquence fell on deaf ears last year and will likely meet with the same indifference this year.

  9. 109
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jack Maloney wrote: “… SA’s baseless claims in #87 …RealClimate’s intellectual poverty …”

    So, other than name-calling and ad hominem fallacies, what have you got?

    Not much, it seems, except demands that denialist propaganda be given respect and legitimacy that it does not deserve.

  10. 110
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wili, Fergus asked

    Has anyone looked at the AMSR2 Antarctic maps recently?

    so, after I found the link, I posted it; someone might want it.

  11. 111
    Jack Maloney says:

    109 SecularAnimist: I have repeatedly asked you for the basis of your claim that observed effects of anthropogenic warming are already causing massive and costly harm. You have yet to respond with anything more than bluster. So – again – what is the basis for your claim? Please cite an example from a credible authoritative source.

  12. 112

    #111–Care to respond to the instances I cited in my #102?

  13. 113
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jack — if you want to provoke “debate” keep poking at SA, who is likely willing to engage you in that. If you want a clear statement of what SA ought to be telling you, though, Kevin McKinney, above has already answered your question as SA should, quite clearly.

    On any heartfelt issue, there’s always someone available here to take the tasty bait and proclaim debatable beliefs here, so long as the hosts’ vast patience lasts. There’s ample opportunity to post beliefs, and disbeliefs. You can lather, rinse, repeat.

    Facts, though — attribution studies — are available to read and, perhaps, understand.

    See above.

  14. 114
    Chris Korda says:

    Jack @111: Spare us the drama. You’re not even making a token effort to answer your own questions. One could plausibly infer a lack of interest in the answers. If I Google “current costs of climate change” I immediately find these:

    Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds
    “Economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP”

    Who Pays for Climate Change?

    “U.S. Taxpayers Outspend Private Insurers Three-to-One to Cover Climate Disruption Costs”

    National Journal Warns The Economic Price Of Climate Change Is Already Here, And Growing

    “Globally, extreme weather and climate change are already shaving 1.6 percent off worldwide gross domestic product — or about $1.2 trillion per year — according to a [2012] study by DARA.”

    These are all likely to be underestimates for reasons that have been repeatedly explained here at RC and elsewhere.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair

  15. 115

    Why is Roy Spencer so deceptive with his latest work?

    He must realize that everyone that understands climate science knows that he is cherry-picking by selecting only ocean temperatures (0-50 m below the surface) for his analysis. This will undershoot climate sensitivity by 1/2 since he is not including land values.

    What do real climate scientists do to combat this deliberate obfuscation?

  16. 116
    Hank Roberts says:

    There is clear evidence from recent case studies that individual event attribution is a feasible, if challenging, undertaking.

    We propose a way forward, through the development of carefully calibrated physically-based assessments of observed weather and climate-related events, to identify changed risk of such events attributable to particular factors including estimating the contributions of factors to event magnitude. Although such event-specific assessments have so far only been attempted for a relatively small number of specific cases, we describe research under way, coordinated as part of the international Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) initiative, to develop the science needed to better respond to the demand for timely, objective, and authoritative explanations of extreme events. The paper considers the necessary components of a prospective event attribution system, reviews some specific case studies made to date (Autumn 2000 UK floods, summer 2003 European heatwave, annual 2008 cool US temperatures, July 2010 Western Russia heatwave) and discusses the challenges involved in developing systems to provide regularly updated and reliable attribution assessments of unusual or extreme weather and climate-related events.

    [inline url link added -hr]

    Climate Science for Serving Society
    2013, pp 307-337
    Attribution of Weather and Climate-Related Events (book)

    I realize the attribution studies are apt to be ignored by those who feel they aren’t needed to support their opinions; I post this not to “debate” but as a reference: attribution for those interested in the science.

  17. 117
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Paraphrasing and updating Upton Sinclair to suit the mess we’ve made and are living in:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his sanity depends on his not understanding it.”


    South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters

    Rising sea levels, falling real estate values

    The latter article includes this priceless gem:

    A warning might scare away some buyers — but not all. Peter Harlem, an FIU researcher, points out that Miami boomed in the 1920s when developers sold swamp land to buyers who hadn’t seen it. Perhaps, Harlem suggests, that could happen again.

    “You know, about a third of America … doesn’t believe [in] climate change. That’s a sure market to sell to.”

  18. 118
    patrick says:

    “I’ve been in a lot of really bad places and I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen that’s worse than this.” –Johnathan Head, BBC, Tacloban

  19. 119

    #114–Some useful links, there, Chris! Thanks!

  20. 120
    MARodger says:

    WebHubTelescope @115.

    Other than his conclusion that ENSO has been for a century a non-anthropogenic net-warming process, my takeaway from Spencer’s latest offering was the way he managed to keep silent over his model’s performance over the last decade. According to the graphs he presents on his blog-o-site, in his favorite Case III version 0-50m OHC has been dropping while Levitus shows it rising. And then he has the cheek to end his account by throwing an accusation that “the glaring 15+ year hiatus in warming which is currently being swept under the rug.” Perhaps he should examine his own graphs a little more carefully before lashing out at his designated opponents.

  21. 121
    Hank Roberts says:

    a sure market to sell to

    Yep. As Rick Perlstein pointed out in The Long Con:

    Via the battery of promotional appeals that overran my email inbox, I mainlined a right-wing id that was invisible to readers who encounter conservative opinion at face value.

    Subscriber lists to ideological organs are pure gold to the third-party interests who rent them as catchments for potential customers. Who better suits a marketing strategy than a group that voluntarily organizes itself according to their most passionately shared beliefs?

    Same principle the email spammers use — their pitches are so outrageously unbelievable that they screen themselves; nobody would respond to Your Beloved Friend except the most credulous, aged, or demented. That’s exactly who the spammers want, the suckers.

    Lying is an initiation into the conservative elite. In this respect, as in so many others, it’s like multilayer marketing: the ones at the top reap the reward—and then they preen, pleased with themselves for mastering the game. Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal.

    The coal industries have to sell off their stranded assets to somebody, after all. And they have their sucker lists ready. Similarly for coastal property.

  22. 122
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “I realize the attribution studies are apt to be ignored by those who feel they aren’t needed to support their opinions”

    I don’t ignore those studies. I do think they “aren’t needed” to support the assertion that various global warming-related factors have observably played a role in causing, contributing to, and/or greatly exacerbating the destructive effects of recent “extreme weather events”.

    It’s great to have mathematically precise calculations of the “changed risk of such events attributable to particular factors including estimating the contributions of factors to event magnitude” — and no doubt essential for the purposes of, for example, insurance companies whose business depends on accurate, detailed risk assessments.

    However, to support the assertion that global warming is responsible for a great deal of damage from such events, it is sufficient to show that such events have the “signature” of global warming — for example, that specific global warming-related factors such as abnormally high sea surface temperatures, elevated water vapor levels, and altered jet stream patterns contributed to making Hurricane Sandy what it was — even if those factors cannot be precisely quantified.

  23. 123

    #115–I don’t mean to comprehensively defend a paper I strongly suspect is quite wrong, but I don’t think that focussing on the oceans is necessarily a ‘cherry-pick.’ And it doesn’t limit depth to 50 meters; rather, it considers depth in 50-meter layers (down to 700 meters, IIRC.)

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    to support the assertion … it is sufficient to show

    Indeed: show; support the assertion.

  25. 125
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “I realize the attribution studies are apt to be ignored by those who feel they aren’t needed to support their opinions”

    On Friday, Joe Romm quoted Michael Mann regarding “common fallacies regarding the impact of climate change on extreme weather”:

    “Chief among these,” wrote Mann, “is the notion that just because somebody hasn’t done a formal attribution study of a particular event, that event somehow must not have been influenced by climate change.”

  26. 126
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Along the lines of SecularAnimist remarks on consistency, physical inevitability and our lying eyes versus mathematically rigorous rectitude:

    …the Philippine government’s raw statistics suggest the region’s typhoons are getting stronger. From 1947 to 1960, the strongest to hit the country was Amy in December 1951, with a highest wind speed recorded at 240kph in Cebu. From 1961 to 1980, the highest wind speed recorded was 275kph in October 1970. In the past 13 years, the highest wind speed has soared to 320kph, recorded by Reming in November to December 2006. “Menacingly, the Philippine typhoons are getting stronger and stronger. If this is due to climate change, we’d better be prepared for even stronger ones in the future,” says Romulo Virola, head of the government’s national statistics board.

    Chance? If we could have the answer in a minute, how would we bet in the next 60 seconds?

  27. 127
    Hank Roberts says:

    ps, SA, you can just link to Kevin McKinney’s excellent exposition above, which gives the support anyone could expect you to provide for your beliefs.

    We regular readers know what you mean.

    New readers here who don’t know what you’re talking about can benefit from cites to good sources for what you believe.

    You’re convincing to the extent you can show support for what you believe, to inform — rather than to encourage debate.

    Kevin McKinney has provided that, in a clear well written form. Take advantage of his help.

    You became convinced. Show, don’t just tell, what convinces.

  28. 128
    Russell says:

    The extension of maximum cyclone intensity scales Greg Lade proposes has long been embodied in the Modified Beaufort Scale employed by cruising sailors the world over:

    Force 0 Smoke rises vertically , sea a mirror for miles around. Hand helmsman full bottle of Demerara rum

    Force 1 Sails slack, sea surface barely undulates
    Give helmsman second bottle of Barbados rum

    Force 2 Sails begin to fill, ripples appear astern

    Offer helmsman a lime to put in second bottle of rum.

    Force 3 Bow wave appears, slack lines tighten
    Place cup of ice at helmsman’s disposal

    Force 4 Whitecaps appear, winch handle needed to trim sail
    Start adding cola to helmsman’s rum.

    Force 5 Whitecaps begin to shed spray and salt water ruins helmsman’s Cuba Libre

    Force 6 Waves lengthen, helmsman requests beer

    Force 7 Helmsman relieved after mistaking streaks of blowing foam for head on navigator’s beer

    Force 8 Waves heighten and new helmsman switches to shandy

    Force 9 Overhanging crests appear on waves, new helmsman switches to ice tea

    Force 10 Breaking waves interfere with steering. Helmsman requests black coffee

    Force 11 Violently agitated sea surface disappears beneath
    blowing foam, hand helmsman irish coffee after he agrees to set storm trysail

    Force 12 . Hurricane. Bow invisible from stern. Give all hands bottles of Demerara rum.

    Force 13 Existential Threat: St. Elmo’s fire ignites emergency cask of iron jack stored in bilge.

  29. 129

    Regarding Roy Spencer’s latest

    “#115–I don’t mean to comprehensively defend a paper I strongly suspect is quite wrong, but I don’t think that focussing on the oceans is necessarily a ‘cherry-pick.’ And it doesn’t limit depth to 50 meters; rather, it considers depth in 50-meter layers (down to 700 meters, IIRC.)”

    Three misdirections in my opinion by Spencer
    1. He did TCR only but called it ECS.
    2. He didn’t include Land temperatures in the average.
    3. Using the subsurface layers confuses everyone.

    The first two are obvious blunders but the last one is puzzling. What temperature anomaly is Spencer trying to isolate? An average temperature down to 700 meters? That would certainly suppress an overall increase in comparison to using the top 50 meters and even more so the SST.

  30. 130
    Jane Jackson says:

    In response to posts #s 20, 33, 40, 43, 48, 90, and 95, here is good news about an effective program in high school science, that is strong on examining evidence. It was developed at Arizona State University, and has reached 10% of the nation’s physics teachers. It has expanded to chemistry, physical science, and biology. (Excuse me for the long post.)

    Modeling Instruction is an evolving, research-based program for high school science education reform that emphasizes constructing and applying conceptual models of physical, chemical, and biological phenomena as a central aspect of learning and doing science. The Modeling method of instruction corrects many weaknesses of the traditional lecture-demonstration method, including fragmentation of knowledge, student passivity, and persistence of naïve beliefs about the physical world.

    From its inception, the Modeling Instruction program has been concerned with reforming high school teaching disciplines to make them more coherent and student-centered, and to incorporate the computer as an essential modeling tool. In a series of intensive workshops over two years, high school teachers learn to be leaders in science teaching reform and technology infusion in their schools. They are equipped with a robust teaching methodology for developing student abilities to make sense of physical experience, understand scientific claims, articulate coherent opinions of their own and defend them with cogent arguments, and evaluate evidence in support of justified belief.

    Instead of relying on lectures and textbooks, Modeling Instruction emphasizes active student construction of conceptual and mathematical models in an interactive learning community. Students are engaged with simple scenarios to learn to model the physical world. Modeling cultivates science teachers as school experts on use of technology in science teaching, and encourages teacher-to-teacher training in science teaching methods, thereby providing schools and school districts with a valuable resource for broader reform.

    Data on students of teachers who have been through the Modeling Instruction program show that students typically achieve twice the learning gain on a standard test of conceptual understanding as students who are taught conventionally. Further, Modeling Instruction is successful with students who have not traditionally done well in physics. Experienced modelers report increased enrollments in physics classes, parental satisfaction, and enhanced achievement in college courses across the curriculum.

    Information is at
    Teacher workshops, typically 50 each summer in ~25 states, are listed at

  31. 131
    bowdawg says:

    I have followed Tamino for some time and I am familiar with Foster and Rahmstorf wherein they estimate the rate of anthropogenic warming at .17 degrees C/decade. I have recently run across an article by Tung and Zhou at wherein they argue that the rate of anthropogenic warming is half the rate found by Foster/Ramstorf after subtracting what they believe to be a naturally occurring oscillation. I am having trouble seeing how an underlying oscillation would not be caused by some discoverable forcing. Anyone care to share with me their opinion as to the best estimate of the rate of anthropogenic warming and whether Tung and Zhou are missing something?

  32. 132

    #128–“Iron Jack”:

    “This is a strong rum without the harsh alcohol taste you would expect from a rum that can literally light up your life.”


  33. 133


    Thanks, WHT… I don’t have reasonable access (and, I must admit, didn’t search very hard for a PDF copy) to the paywalled version. The definition of ‘climate sensitivity’ was a point of suspicion for me, as the design did seem to preclude any conclusions about ECS.

    (For any readers who may not already be aware of these, the acronyms “TCR” and “ECS” refer to “Transient Climate Response” and “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity,” respectively.)

    I didn’t see any further specification of ‘climate sensitivity’ at all, in what I did read. I don’t know whether it makes the paper look a tad better in that he tried to specify it, or worse in that he apparently got it wrong.

    Of course, the reception by the usual crowd on the other side of the mirror has been, er, ‘forgetful’ of the principle about extraordinary claims and evidence–though of course from their perspective, it’s always “anything but carbon,” and so the claim isn’t extraordinary at all.

  34. 134
    MARodger says:

    bowdawg @130.
    Tung & Zhou 2013 (also Zhou & Tung 2013) were featured in a trio of posts at Skeptical Science (one, two, and three), the first of these prompting the second & third as a response from the paper’s co-author KK Tung who also got stuck in down the comments’ threads.
    In essence Tung & Zhou are dining at the denialist’s last-chance saloon by invoking a 60-year natural cycle (their cycle of choice being AMO) resulting in a reduced anthropogenic influence on climate, although they make sure to not directly challenge climate sensitivity by asserting that their findings will impact on assessment of net anthropogenic forcing and leave climate sensitivity estimates unchallenged.

    I find their thesis less than convincing. They say their findings are similar to Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) and are supported by Wu et al (2011) but neither assertion is correct. I consider their wavelet analysis of CET little more than cherry-picking & their MLR has serious problems that I have summed up in this graph. You will note the noise on the residuals (blue trace) still carries a signal of about half the amplitude of the original HadCRUT signal, so the residuals are not just noise as had been alleged. The ‘recent’ end of the AMO signal has a large and unexplained droop. The non-AMO ‘regressors’ (SolVolENSO) show little response within the MLR (which will impact on the implied climate sensitivity) and, unlike F&R(2011), their attribution of these ‘regressors’ accounts for very little of the HadCRUT signal. And I could go on further.
    As I say, I am less than convinced.

  35. 135
    Tony Weddle says:

    What do people make of this:

    Methane Levels Going Through The Roof?

    The Arctic news blogspot doesn’t publish critical comments so I can’t assess the validity of what is written but some of the notes on recent Arctic sea ice loss seems over the top.

  36. 136
    bowdawg says:

    Thanks. It took me quite some time to get through it all, but I feel I have a much better understanding of the issues here.

  37. 137
  38. 138
    Hank Roberts says:

    > methane levels
    A lot is made of the AIRS data, which is from very high in the atmosphere. They tell you how high up that is — but how many people actually looked and thought about the altitude at which the measurement is being done?

    There are always some extremely high tentative numbers in the early released data, and so far they always go away when the final numbers come out. That site makes much of a single little red dot far above the remainder of the data. I’d bet that in the original at AIRS it’s a tentative number. But they aren’t giving you the original, it’s an artist’s redrawing of the charts for that methane emergency story.

    He’s a very good artist. That’s not the problem.

    What’s needed from the areas claimed to be new and scary methane sources is ground truth. That can be done; for an example look at this street by street methane track, which was done in Manhattan. Look at the concentration numbers there at a known ground level source, then look again at that methane emergency blog and the concentrations reported for up high in the polar atmosphere.
    If that doesn’t boggle ya, I don’t know what would.

    The trick here is to look for the actual cited papers and see what later work has cited _those_. Where did the scientists go with the information, versus where did the bloggers go with it?

    For example, see:

    Methane release from warming-induced hydrate dissociation in the West Svalbard continental margin: Timing, rates, and geological controls

    K. E. Thatcher et al.
    first published online: 30 JAN 2013
    DOI: 10.1029/2012JB009605

    Did you read that? Think it through? Feel any different?

    The thing to remember when you read big scary numbers on climate blogs is — the scientist’s responsibility is to try to find all the relevant information and bring it all into the discussion (and figure out what’s missing and needs more work).

    The climate blogger may be looking only for “proof” or for papers that can be pointed to or handwaved at in _support_ of their point. So you end up looking for more and they can say oh you’re just trying to pick holes in my argument.

    Welll, yeah. That’s how it’s done.

    It’s kind of like comparing ecologists to environmentalists; for those who remember what life was like before the first Earth Day back in 1970, when few people had even heard the word “ecology” and even fewer had the benefit of studying even Ecology 101 or Statistics 101

  39. 139
    wili says:

    Hank, I love that methane map of Manhattan, but it doesn’t seem particularly relevant to this discussion, as far as I can see. That there are very high values immediately over a particular intersection in one of the world’s major cities is presumably completely explainable as a local breach in a NG line or some other such very local (in principle) easily identifiable source.

    This is about as far as one could get from high levels (relative to most atmospheric concentrations) of methane over large areas high in the atmosphere in the Arctic where there is very little (direct) human activity. The very value of the high elevation of the readings is that they are not likely to be from a particular very local individual source since the gas would presumably be fairly well mixed by the time it has drifted this far up. The same implies either much higher concentrations at the source(s) or ground/sea level concentrations near those seen farther up in the troposphere that are from quite a vast expanse of ground/sea level sources. Either should be of at least some concern to thoughtful observers.

    The accuracy of any particular reading is another issue, however.

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:

    wili, look at the actual levels — the numbers. That’s what was detected at ground level. That’s how to inspect possible sources at ground (or sea) level — for methane getting into the atmosphere from relatively point sources.

    The methane in the atmosphere is coming from locations that can be, er, located, and quantified over time.

    Whether there’s data to map that, I don’t know. But it can’t be all that hard to do. If they can get the detector into a New York taxi or whatever they used to haul it around …..

  41. 141
    Hank Roberts says:

    On the other hand, this:

    See the big round red dot? Is that scary, or what?

    (I’d bet on “what” — I recall finding the originals months ago after emailing someone at AIRS to ask, and posting — but where did I put it? The early data points always have a scattering of really extreme numbers, and those go away after the data is analyzed and cleaned up. The really extremely off-the-line points in the raw provisional data are noise.)

    But I forget where I put that, and of course the picture linked there doesn’t cite the source in a way that lets it be found easily.

    Someone else have an idea how to check that claim?

  42. 142
    Tony Weddle says:


    Thanks for the reply. I know that that site does tend to leap on things early. It reminds me of that self-published “paper” by Malcolm Light (it was on the Ameg blog, but I think was mentioned on the Arctic News blog). That was based on a single data point, a few years ago, that was subsequently corrected. It still forms the basis of many doomer theories today.

    I’ve tried to criticise other articles at the Arctic News blogspot but criticisms don’t get published, so very little useful discussion goes on there. I guess I should stop checking in there every so often!

  43. 143
  44. 144
    Hank Roberts says:


    The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) is a community which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible Do-It-Yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively re-imagine the human relationship with the environment.

    The core Public Lab program is focused on “civic science” in which we research open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health….

  45. 145
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 141, 142
    Found the old post. Just for the record, for any new readers:

    You will see scary-looking pictures and people tell you they’re scary (or reassuring-looking pictures with reassuring claims).

    Either way, if you aren’t given a link to the actual source, it’s PR.

    Some comes from people you agree with who have their hearts in the right place. Some from cynical PR types who have their hands on their wallets or yours. Some from sincere, worried, copypasters.

    But you can look this stuff up. Ask a librarian for help.

    We don’t need to go on at length on how to check claims in every topic. Here’s that previous lather-rinse-repeat about scary methane data:

    RealClimate: Unforced Variations: February 2012.

    Search in the Comments popup to find
    “I used the contact link at one of the AIRS websites. They invite questions. You can do this yourself”

  46. 146
    Edward Greisch says:

    130 Jane Jackson: THANK YOU!

  47. 147
    wili says:

    Just to stir the pot a bit here, Guy McPherson has a new (to me) video out:

    Setting aside his reference to the AMEG folks (and I see he is at least stepping back from the rather shoddy Light article a bit), he does seem to back up nearly all of his points with references to published papers or major reports. So where (besides the AMEG stuff) does he go wrong here (if he does)?

    (And note that just because someone has been wrong in the past does not automatically make everything else s/he says completely wrong.)

  48. 148
    Hank Roberts says:

    > where (besides the AMEG stuff) does he go
    > wrong here (if he does)?

    You could check his references from his website and let us know.
    Asking people to watch video, track what he says, and check his sources for you is — well, rather a lot to ask, isn’t it?

    I mean, stirring the pot is fine, it’s a blog on the Internet here. But traditionally one adds something to the pot first. Otherwise it’s just stone soup.

    I did glance at his website. I don’t see anything new.

    His earlier work on fire in wildlands was good science.
    His current pessimism sounds like Lovelock’s.
    So maybe he’s right and we’re all doomed.
    But I thought the same 50 years ago.

  49. 149
    wili says:

    Most of the stuff I’ve checked out seems to be legit. If you’re too tired or lazy to follow it up, that’s fine. Just don’t dismiss somebody’s conclusions because you haven’t bothered to check out his sources, or because you’ve already passed judgment on him from his earlier statements.

    The one clear misstatement that I’ve found is at about minute 30 where he seems to claim 90% loss of GIS in a week (or perhaps something else?). Clearly he either meant in a particular very narrow local, or a 90% increase in loss for a short period of time. We all can make little misstatements in the midst of a longish talk, though. Anyone else care to take a look?

  50. 150
    Hank Roberts says:

    > too tired or lazy to follow it up
    Yep, that’s me in a nutshell. You got me pegged.
    Life is to short to fact-check YouTube videos.

    That, actually, is the whole point of reading science papers.
    It’s a convenience for those of us too tired or lazy.
    Hey, or both.

    Carry on.