Unforced Variations: Dec 2013

This month’s open thread. It’s coming to the end of the year and that means updates to the annual time series of observations and models relatively soon. Suggestions for what you’d like to see assessed are welcome… or any other climate science related topic.

354 comments on this post.
  1. Kevin McKinney:

    Worth noting: the new NAS report on abrupt climate change. It’s here:


  2. Kevin McKinney:

    Oh, and the Revkin discussion of “Abrupt Climate Change”:


    Useful summary, or so it seems.

  3. Shizel:

    Experts misunderestimate how red sky is the limit is our future.
    It’s like saying, “I didn’t know there was no afterlife everlasting!” just before you die. We are killing off life on earth faster than the fatal dino asteroid. Not only is our mass extinction event faster than ever before, it will also be the biggest one in all 4 billion years of earth’s history. We will surpass the death defying 95% extinction quota for all life on earth from the Permian event of 260 million years ago. Climate shifting heat states only aggravates a larger, more immediate, once in a billion year threat, that will make you nostalgic for the super storms of yesterday. While the methane may just be a long time coming and the seas rising, they are not the immediate threat our super exponential mass extinction is. We shoot a hundred elephants per day. Lions are down 90% in 20 years. Human sperm and sea plankton down 50% in 60 years. The list goes on and on, more than mere folk normally understand.


  4. Susan Anderson:

    Geoff Wexler, thanks much for helping this amateur with that.

    A hearty amen on the mishigass, with thanks Phil Mattheis Python link. Please let it go, everyone.

  5. Andreas T:

    Isn’t one important feature of cooling the stratosphere by emitting heat absorbed by ozone from incoming shortwave radiation, that this cooling has little effect on lower parts of the atmosphere since there is not much mixing between these air masses? I.e. a cooler stratosphere does not increase heat loss from the surface, or am I misunderstanding this?

  6. Andreas T:

    @35 I am assuming that the stratification of the stratosphere means that cooling at the top by emitting more of the heat absorbed from incoming shortwave radiation does not result in cooling of the lower atmosphere or surface since downward mixing is not significant. Am I understanding this correctly?

    [Response: yes. There is no convectively driven mixing (though there is vertical motion – up in the tropics, down at the poles – related to the (slow) Brewer Dobson circulation). – gavin]

    [Response: Minor quibble w/ Gavin above: there IS some gravity wave-driven vertical mixing in the stratosphere. Nothing like the convective mixing in the troposphere however. -mike]

  7. Chris Colose:

    Andreas T (56)-

    No, the stratification of the stratosphere is a simple statement about what would happen to an “air parcel” if it were moved vertically through the air column. The air is quite stable relative to the troposphere, in the sense that parcel displacement is difficult, but the term “stratification” says nothing of use about any troposphere-stratosphere interaction (which demonstrably exists in the real world; dynamics in the stratosphere can strongly influence weather at the surface. I don’t have a great grasp of the dynamical meteorology behind this coupling, but there are entire textbooks and courses on the subject).

    This is tangential, but I would argue the presence of a stratospheric temperature inversion on a planet makes the troposphere a bit colder than if the entire column were a troposphere. This is because part of the outgoing radiation signal (albeit small) is emerging from relatively warm layers aloft, and thus slightly less emission is demanded from the troposphere in order to satisfy planetary energy balance. I would expect this to be a very small effect on Earth though as the troposphere is simply much more massive and optically relevant than the stratosphere. Back to the original post though, if the atmospheric column were increasing in temperature with height, the effect of additional greenhouse gases would be to cool the surface.

  8. Stan K:

    Request for clarification from a retired engineer: when it’s said that methane is N times the greenhouse gas that CO2 is, is that purely taking into account their absorption spectra relative to the blackbody emission from the surface, or does it take into account saturation as well, since methane constitutes a much smaller percentage wrt CO2?

  9. Doug Bostrom:

    Shizel: We are killing off life on earth faster than the fatal dino asteroid.

    New geologic age, new hominids. Anthropocene, Homo bolidus.

  10. Chris Colose:

    Stan K (58)

    The quoted values of methane being N times more powerful than CO2 (N is of order 20-30) has little to do with its absorption spectrum, but primarily a consequence of saturation (i.e., current methane background much less than CO2). If they existed at the same concentration, CO2 is actually the better greenhouse gas for an Earthlike atmosphere.

  11. Jon Kirwan:

    For Stan K @58 (when I checked, anyway):

    I don’t see how saturation in the atmosphere could be avoided when making a comparison of global warming potential (GWP) at the current moment. Of course, that limits its use. (It’s a local slope.) But more is involved, too.

    For example, CH₄ has a much shorter τ(tau) — on the order of 10 years, or so. So the time scale matters as the comparison itself will depend upon the period under consideration. (They use an integral over time.) 20 years from now would be one figure, 100 years from now would be another, 500 years yet another, etc. In the IPCC report, I believe it also includes some side-effects and they report the multiplier for at least three (I think the three I just mentioned) periods of time. The 20 yr period is more for inter-fuel comparison purposes; the 100 yr period is for looking out enough beyond the minimum 30-yr climate averages for modeling; and the 500 yr period is for far reaching effects at the millennial level and beyond.

    Another context item is the difference between “per molecule” and “per unit mass,” of course.

    Another factor that I believe is included in the IPCC numbers found in the usual context is that CO₂ doesn’t affect much in the troposphere, but does affect O₃ in the stratosphere. But CH₄ affects several gases in the troposphere — hydroxyl radicals (mostly, memory serving, in the tropics), O₃, and CO₂ — and also affects O₃ and H₂O in the stratosphere. I believe all of these are also included in IPCC GWP integral-based multipliers.

    Best thing to do is check the context. I don’t believe there is a single answer to your question.

    But I just read once in a while and that’s just my vague understanding. Hopefully, someone better informed will repair the damage I’ve done and improve it, besides.

  12. Fergus Brown:

    I have linked to this on my blog and elsewhere, as I think it deserves more attention and may be of interest to the CS community: http://www.iied.org/offer-extended-free-access-papers-cities-climate-change
    Credit to the Institute and the publisher for doing this.

  13. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Another question for John Mashey et al. about Ruddiman:


    Amazon lists Ruddiman’s “Earth’s Climate” (published October 2013) at $127,
    and his “Earth Transformed” published earlier in the year at only $59.

    I take the newer one is not the one you suggest. Do you or anyone know what is up with the expensive new one?

  14. Chris Colose:

    Jon Kirwan (61)

    The radiative efficiency of CH4 vs. CO2 has nothing to do with the respective lifetimes of the gases. An extra ppm of CO2 vs. an extra ppm of CH4 injected into the atmosphere will begin to interact with infrared photons immediately, and the effect on Earth’s radiation budget will be larger for the CH4 simply because that extra pulse is being added to a background atmospheric state with much lower methane than CO2. Of course, when thinking about the evolution of global warming, you have to know something about the time evolution of these gases, but that’s a different question.

  15. Hank Roberts:


  16. Jon Kirwan:

    To: Chris C. @64 (as I see it):

    The integrals I see involve time already. So the time period is included into the GWP value that is stated. That does take into account the effect as a function of time, times the infinitesimal of time.

    I was commenting about the integrals used to arrive at the 20, 100, and 500 year “multipliers.” The integral equations I’ve seen are pretty clear about where they come from.

    But I take your point about its effect being immediate, once it is present. It’s just that the usual use I see is a multiplier which is derived by comparing integrals for some gas vs the integrals for a reference gas (usually CO₂.) I was addressing what I imagined Stan was asking about.

  17. Geoff Wexler:

    Forgotten point in my comment #34, #35

    The direct consequence of the absorption of ultra-violet light is to warm the stratosphere, substantially raising the importance of the emission term relative to the absorption term. This effect can be so large that the latter can be neglected. This is what lies behind the assumption of ‘neglecting the ground’ when considering the stratosphere.

    Thanks for your replies, Fred Moolten (#43) and Susan Anderson (#54)

  18. Geoff Wexler:

    It should be
    …. warm the atmosphere in the original steady state, substantially ….

  19. John Mashey:

    ‘Amazon lists Ruddiman’s “Earth’s Climate” (published October 2013) at $127,
    and his “Earth Transformed” published earlier in the year at only $59.

    I take the newer one is not the one you suggest. Do you or anyone know what is up with the expensive new one?’

    1) Earth Transformed(ET) is absolutely the one that I suggest, and I know you can get it from W.H.Freeman.
    We do *not* know why Amazon thinks it was published in Feb 2013, because it wasn’t, and it is unclear how booksellers were offering it used before it was printed … but as noted, I’ve seen weird stuff before.

    Plows, Plagues and Petroleum(PP) is a popular-press book, whereas ET is a well-updated technical textbook version with much more detail and a lot more research done in last 10 years.

    2) “Earth’s Climate” is a revised edition of Bill’s older textbook.

  20. Kevin McKinney:

    #64–But John did specify GWP, which is indeed time dependent, just as he said. Stan’s original question was ambiguous, though, so I’m not sure if GWP or radiative efficiency was what he had in mind.

  21. wili:

    Tony @ 48 wrote: “Do you think it’s possible that almost all climate scientists also think that economic growth can go on for the rest of this century?”

    I don’t know. Do you? Probably most assume this, since most citizens assume this. And it is indeed an assumption worth questioning.

    But let me question an assumption I’m sensing in the rest of _your_ post:

    Economic growth is indeed one efficient way to burn up most the rest of the planets accessible fossil-death-fuels. But you seem to be assuming that it is the only way to do so. I would question that assumption. Increasing conflict is likely, going forward.

    Many conflict will likely grow more and more into ‘hot wars’ involving lots of fuel burning for the transport vehicles, for the ordinance itself, and from direct burning of ff sources as targets or to deprive an invading enemy of resources (remember all the black smoke from burning fuel lines…in the first (and second, though the images were more tightly controlled) Iraq invasion(s)?

    So lots and lots of ff can be turned into CO2 even without it fueling a (conventional) growing industrial economy. And I’m sure there are plenty of other ways that lots of ff might be burned up in the absence of standard economic growth.

    So maybe it actually doesn’t matter that much what the economic assumptions of climatologist are.

    At this point, it looks to me as if the best we can hope for and work toward is a rapid, planned economic downsizing as Kevin Anderson has suggested and as Hansen and others imply in their latest work, bringing emission globally down by at least 6% or more until we approach zero.

    Shizel, I’m much of the same mind. Perhaps your ‘Human sperm…down 50%’ is your most hopeful stat? (…though it would be nice to have sources for that and others.)

  22. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Thanks John. I see that amazon says
    Publisher: Worth Publishers (February 8, 2013)
    Perhaps the book was released first in another country. I think there was a single copy of raypierre’s available from Germany via amazon before you could order it from a US source.

    I went ahead and ordered the $33 + shipping copy from amazon. (no free shipping from the reseller.)

  23. Hank Roberts:

    “If you can’t explain it in 10 seconds” it doesn’t get news coverage. This is about financial, er, methods, not climate — but interesting about what does and does not get covered in the news. Warning, autoplay, turn your sound down if the family’s sleeping:


  24. John Mashey:

    Pete: I did also, a few days ago so I’d have a loaner, assuming these things don’t mysteriously vanish.

    BUT: I KNOW it wasn’t out in Feb, because Bill only got his first finished copies ~October 31 and I got one of those.

  25. Tony Weddle:

    Fair point, wili.

    However, though I suspect that most climate scientists implicitly go along with the assumptions of economic growth in the RCPs, I very much doubt many have considered warring as way to keep CO2/CH4 emissions rising. But you may be right about that being a likely scenario, in the absence of growth.

  26. Gordon:

    Re 28, 33, 37: Thanks MAR and Paul S. for the links. The thermosteric sea level change plot is right on point, but would be nice if someone could put some actual temperature values to this, but it sure looks like a baby hockey stick – how cute. The Mann article seems like he is a little hard on the research but I guess I am in good company scratching my head over some of the results.

  27. Chris Colose:

    Jon Kirwan (66)

    GWP is a completely different issue than asking how an extra molecule of CH4 affects the planet’s energy budget vs. CO2. GWP is not a sensible metric to look at whatsoever for a useful comparison either, as some “time integrated forcing” says nothing of use about the evolution of climate. It’s a useless mathematical construction and a rather mystical way of facilitating comparison between different GHGs.

  28. Jon Kirwan:

    To: Chris C. (@77, I think):

    I was just trying to answer what I thought was being asked about, GWP. You are arguing at cross-purposes and that gives me nothing to address. So I’ll leave it there.

  29. Jon Kirwan:

    To: John Mashey (@69, I think):

    The book just arrived. ISBN 1-4641-0776-9 is shown on the inside with the publication date of 2014. It is called the “First Printing” also on that page. It is a paperback edition. Cost me $35, plus $3.99, for shipping.

  30. vukcevic:

    [Response: Sure: Low Solar Activity Won’t Slow Climate Change. -mike]

    Maybe not, but the low solar activity would ( according to my findings ) suppress the AMO amplitude (in both + & – direction), i.e. prolonged low SSN number may stabilise the NA SST.

  31. Stan K:

    Thanks, Jon, Chris and Kevin for the comments and discussion re relative “strength” of CO2 and CH4 as greenhouse gases. I wasn’t sure how this number, as reported in the media and climate change popularizing websites, should be interpreted. I’m not even sure I’ve seen the same number twice. Your definitions (radiative efficiency, GWP) all make sense to me. I’ll tack Chris’ number range of 20-30 and what it means on my mental note board and compare it to what I encounter in the media. One thing for sure, in climate science, things get complex fast.

  32. Jon Mashey:

    Jon Kirwan:
    Yes, that’s the right thing, same as my copy.
    It may be that W. H. Freeman is treating it entirely as a textbook, but also distributing via resellers. The copy I ordered via Amazon hasn’t come yet, so we’ll see.
    In any case, I’ll be interested to know what people think of it, starting with the cover, explained on the back cover.

  33. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Stan K, if you can get a copy of
    CO2 equivalences for short-lived climate forcers
    you can learn the latest on your question.

    H/T a tweet of Gavin’s found at Steve’s.

  34. Jon Kirwan:

    To Stan K (@81, as I see it): Well, it’s not complex if you don’t really care to do much with it. As always in engineering (as I’m sure you know), the end purpose is important. So if a number is just being used to very broadly explain why a scientist is “concerned” about X, and nothing more, then a rough order of magnitude puts that to bed. A reader then says, “Oh, that’s why.” But if mincing differences or trying to perform your own “1st order” computations (current state plus local slope projections, let alone higher order corrections) then you need to be comprehensive in viewpoint. You might start by reading Hansen’s 1981 paper, “Climate Impact of Increasing Carbon Dioxide.” It’s a very nice segue for an engineer, I believe. It’s old and there are many important adjustments to that understanding (as can be seen here.) But it’s a really good start:


  35. john byatt:



  36. Sean:

    I was thinking about Cowtan and Way who dropped into Judith Curry blog a few weeks back. I haven’t gone back to see if they continued on. I said at the time I thought it wasn’t a wise move, and still do. However in other circumstances maybe it could be quite productive. And perhaps a good example could be made for similar approaches into the future by other Climate scientists and their mates.

    I was imagining how could such a thing work and what might be achieved by confronting such activist deniers head on in their own ‘space’. There are other occasions known about on ‘discussion boards’ where such things have turned out quite well.

    For this kind of confrontational public communication effort to succeed it requires a committed and experienced Action Team of members. All with a clear goal, and each with a specific role to play. Some in public view and others being a support behind the scenes.

    Such a team would included a few scientists expert in a specific field of Climate Science willing to act publicly with their real names and background info available and known. Credibility is important here. Think of someone like Michael Mann and others who are used to being in the public eye in stressful situations.

    Supporting them offline and observing the unfolding discussions on a Board would be very mature supporters who could be psychologists, philosophers, media communications academics, journalists, public relations professionals, maybe an ex- politician even, all being people who know their way around heated and emotional driven topics and who are used to debating such matters in front of an audience.

    Using Cowtan and Way as an example again, the team would chose a specific subject; in this case the claims of a “warming pause from 1998 to 2012”. The goal is to confront Judith Curry and all her followers on this narrow subject only and argue the case for as long as it takes until the opposition is thoroughly defeated and exhausted by it. They do not need to get to a point of ‘agreement’, merely complete surrender. That will be recognised by all skeptics and deniers stopping to argue the point, or the scientists being banned from the discussion board.

    If the scientists are black listed, they still win such a confrontation. So long as they follow a few rules.

    Such as absolutely no emotional reactions plus being able to ignore every single barb of abuse, ad hom, and insult thrown at them. One does this by completely disregarding all such comments by other posters. However if someone makes a debating point or puts a leading question within an abusive post, then the scientist will address that point and ignore the rest. The idea is to always hone in on every single argument point raised, and to totally demolish each point using sound reason, logic, and a mountain of incontrovertible evidence…. one post at a time.

    Quotes must be given with urls refs to publicly available docs, studies, data etc. The context of these quotes must be explained in the post/comment so it is clear for anyone coming along at a later time to see what the intent is and why the quoted ref is relevant to the argument being nullified.

    It needs 3 or 4 active posters to do this effectively. Each scientist is to be responsible for addressing 25% of the likely info expected to be thrown and the countering refs most likely to be used. So in this scenario you do not have one person engaging in an “dialogue/debate” with Curry or any poster, as all four are able to engage and push their particular prepared role and knowledge in response.

    The way the journalist, media studies or PR person can help is that each active scientist emails them their ‘draft response’ to check it. The ‘dialogue is checked or edited and returned to the scientist to post that comment.

    This system works really well when each of the teams members are live online all at the same time and communicating together as comments are posted and responses come in from Curry and her supporters. eg 2 hours per day 4 days per week, for as long as it takes. Likely that would be over 4 to 6 weeks depending.

    Typically the blog owner and follower will naturally use ad hom and insults, and be dismissive. Next they will try to distract the posters onto other subjects and claims and issues over climate science. It’s critical that no one allows this to work, and to repeatedly for days on end refuse to discuss topics B, C and D etc until such times as their primary subject A (the pause hiatus) is dealt with fully.

    Also whilst many followers will come to Curry’s defense it’s important not to get distracted there either. The focus should 75% of the time be on her and what she says, and the claims she makes. When she (or whoever blog it is) responds by bringing up several different issues in a single post, then those need to be separated out and each point dealt with on it’s own where possible. One at a time and preferably immediately one after the other down the comments page.

    AT all times one must keep in mind that the purpose is NOT necessarily convince Curry or others to change their minds and agree. The purpose is to imagine oneself directly speaking to the readers of said blog that day until eternity basically. Those ‘readers’ who rarely post a comment. They are the TARGET MARKET for all communication, for all quotes and and for all refs and for clear and concise explanations based on reason and common sense.

    Using simple terms as much as possible, as well as including short notes (in brackets to define the word meanings being used, even with a short url to the IPCC Glossary or other page already prepared http:go.ogle/shorturl) ….. see?

    If the team gets together on live conference skype beforehand several times then much information to be posted can be pre-prepared and drafted ready to go. All one then needs to do in the beginning is copy/paste that core info and write it up to ‘fit the response” being addressed.

    Lastly on this, everyone needs to be willing to play hard ball and go for the juggler at every opportunity. NO quarter given and a take no prisoners attitude. It’s not about being insulting or abusive but being utterly tough and never forgetting one is in ‘enemy territory’ and to never make the assumption ‘well they man well and they’re only confused’. NO sir. One can be polite and still be as hard as nails at the same time. Clinical. Tough. Resolute. And openly confrontational. Something that is being misrepresented gets labelled as that, and slammed for being unscientific, irrational, or wrong, or egregiously manipulative of the readers – whatever suits the occasion. Not the person making the statement claim, but the *information* itself.

    Why it is being presented is totally irrelevant. You want it to be presented for the sole reason that it can be cut down completely, and the true accurate information replacing it in the very next post by the Team on the Blog site or discussion board.

    One select subject one at a time, one denier blog site at a time. Then a year later this Team should rock up to a heartland Institute presentation and tear them apart until you are all kicked out of the event by security. Video record the entire thing surreptitiously. Then hold a pre-arranged press conference outside the door or the event. And hopefully a couple of the team will get a spot that same week on The Daily Show or Colbert Report or similar.

    Some of the offline tea, will be able to collate the best content posted and reuse that elsewhere on the next job. Soon enough the media communications journalist and PR guys will be able to dress up multiple “press releases” using that content and sent it worldwide to maybe be picked up by various news providers.

    The main game after the skills have been developed, and several teams operating at WUWT, Curry, Jo Nova, and all the others there will be enough focused material that that can then be sent via email to every politician in the world as a global campaign of targeting outspoken denier Politicians and other activists. The best of this is to send Signed Letters to ALL the newspapers and radio stations in the local region of said Politicians.

    And that all the above is done relentlessly for two years until these people and these sites have been thoroughly debunked and the Myths they promote have been totally and repeatedly ripped apart, line by line, word by word, false facts being replaced with accurate facts and accurate statments and those explained to a level he average Public can comprehend.

    But the people involved in these teams need to have the personal courage t put their reputation and persons on the line in the Public Domain, and be available for Media calls into the future. It must be a team effort where everyone is able to rely upon everyone else when the going gets tough. because it will. You will be attacked vociferously in all forms of media, and every accusation will be made against you by the coordinated and highly funded PR system and MSM operatives behind the Blog Fronts.

    The above is what I would like to see happen. Targets and subject could include, IPCC AR5 what it says and doesn’t say and what that actually means in plain english, what the IPCC has “foecast” in the past and what it never has or ever tries to do ie limitations; the behind the scenes processes and why no climate scientist is making a fortune from this work falsely labelled conspiracy; Lord the fraud Monckton to destroy his personal credibility forever; and other like him; Inophe etc(?), Heartland claims, the basic science of GHGs (yes people still believe it is false), plus all the “fronts” misrepresenting themselves as “Climate Institute this and that” were they run Blogs open to the public, and so on. Including making comments on newspaper domains and attack the false claims of the like of David Rose of the Daily mail the moment they appear and debunk them with hard facts and DEMAND retractions, including writing private complaints to the editorial boards relentlessly.

    imho, I believe the time has come where the public who support climate science are no longer left to take the fight up to every wacko on the internet and when ever they put their head up on a public discussion board. It’s time instead for the Climate Scientists themselves, those best equipped top contribute in such a long term Project plus other like minded Academics and Professionals to take this on, to blatantly publicly confront the frauds, the deceptions the falsehoods, and the media spin and make a significant long term difference for the good of all concerned regarding the accuracy and legitimacy of the collective scientific knowledge and future risks involved.

    NO need to get into the politics of it, of ETS or carbon tax or Regulation or whatever. Just push the actually science and explain in a way that makes almost impossible for “reasonable people” to continue to deny and get so easily misled.

    That’s my opinion, that’s my best idea of the day. No doubt others will not find it very good at all. Oh well. imho nothing else has worked thus far since 1988, but if anyone has a better idea, by all means do speak up. Because I reckon Time is running out right now.

    There ya go, very direct, simple and succinct all at once. Make of it what you will. :)

  37. Phil Mattheis:

    “There ya go, very direct, simple and succinct all at once. Make of it what you will. :)”

    I had scrolled to the bottom of this post to see how long was, before trying to make sense of it, and read that last sentence first. Saved me the trouble of reading the rest.

    I’ll suggest you might try to simplify your writing into something more direct and succinct…oh, wait.

  38. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Sean — 7 Dec 2013 @ 4:56 AM

    Are you aware that one trolling technique for disrupting forums, such as this, is to write very long (1,900 words plus) comments that appear to be in favor of the blog topic while being full of incorrect, impractical, and naïve information?

  39. Jon Kirwan:

    Regarding the recent paperback, “Earth Transformed,” by William F. Ruddiman, 2014, and mentioned by by John Mashey earlier in this thread, I’ve read enough of it to realize it’s a great segue into climate science thinking. I’m probably going to add it to another book I have been giving away for two decades, “The Next One Hundred Years,” by Jonathan Weiner, 1991 (he got a Pulitzer prize for “The Beak of the Finch,” written a few years later.)

  40. Edward Greisch:

    If you read the following references as lessons in messaging, I think you will have better “luck.”

    “Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not” by Robert N. McCauley
    It is about seven “basic cognitive trait[s], observed in young children.”
    All 7 are childish thinking that persists in most adults who have not been trained in science.

    “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian. But it should work for “converting” denialists as well, I hope.
    “So the core piece of advice I give may at first sound counterintuitive, but it is simple: When speaking with people who hold beliefs based on [X], don’t get into a debate about facts or evidence or even their specific beliefs. Rather, get them to question the manner in which they’ve reached their beliefs….”


    Small towns have trouble teaching science and math in any case, since they have few students and little money. So it is not surprising that RealClimate’s message cannot be received by most Americans. There is no way you are going to get anywhere with your current approach, as you have noticed. Nature is helping by displaying increasingly severe weather, but that won’t really work until it is too late.

  41. Kevin McKinney:

    #90–Can’t say I agree. Obviously, I think the facts are important, given that I spend considerable amounts of time on an ongoing basis trying to do my bit to disseminate them in various ways.

    But science education is only one term of the problem–and not necessarily the dominant one.

  42. Edward Greisch:

    91 Kevin McKinney: At least read what is available at the URLs I gave you first. Especially “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian. As Boghossian says, the facts are irrelevant and counter-productive at this stage. FIRST, you have to create the ability to handle facts. Most people think you are clowning or giving them a hard time [provoking] or preaching Islam. You will never communicate the way you are going. Most people have/are extreme cases of confirmation bias. They can’t hear you. Don’t be put off by the religious slant, it isn’t part of what we are doing.

  43. patrick:

    #59 Homo bolidus. That says it. The Anthropocene is the era in which impact man becomes insight* man, or bust. (*A term from Schellnhuber. Ask him.)

  44. wili:

    Just want to point this article from CC out to people, in case they missed it: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/new-study-adds-to-arctic-warming-extreme-weather-debate-16811
    “Study Adds to Arctic Warming, Extreme Weather Debate”

    I thought Freeman did a fairly good job of describing the nature of the current debate on this crucial topic.

    Here’s the link to the NatureCC paper that is the main focus of the Freeman article:


    “Extreme summer weather in northern mid-latitudes linked to a vanishing cryosphere”

    Qiuhong Tang,
    Xuejun Zhang
    & Jennifer A. Francis

    Not unrelated, but probably more controversial here, is this recent piece from the Guardian:


    “US Navy predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2016:
    Is conventional modelling out of pace with speed and abruptness of global warming?”

    “The paper is highly critical of global climate models (GCM) and even the majority of regional models, noting that ‘many Arctic climatic processes that are omitted from, or poorly represented in, most current-generation GCMs’ which ‘do not account for important feedbacks among various system components.'”

  45. Susan Anderson:

    There is a remarkable appreciation of a demonstration of academic thought and discipline (independent of politics) by Noam Chomsky in today’s New York Times, an Op Ed by Stanley Fish:

    “Scholarship and Politics: The Case of Noam Chomsky”

    (I was tempted to put this under communication.)

    “It was a master class taught by a master, and if someone were to ask me what exactly is it that academics do, I would point to these lectures and say, simply, here it is, the thing itself.”

  46. wili:

    Thanks for pointing that out to me, SA. I’m not a big fan of Fish (the article was at least half a vehicle for him to trot out his pet theories) and I have my disagreements with Chomsky, but the pleasure of a enjoying a good lecture was definitely well articulated.

    I know that in the past, when asked, Chomsky himself has said there is no line connecting his linguistics with his politics. But I’m not sure that is completely the case. Kant’s ethics, after all, are partly based on the idea that a being who can think logically (and therefor linguistically) should not be treated merely as a means to an end. This pretty well connects Chomsky’s interest in syntax (the ‘logic’ part of language) with the foundations of his political ethics.

  47. prokaryotes:

    Perfluorotributylamine: New long-lived greenhouse gas discovered

  48. prokaryotes:

    The right argument is that we shouldn’t be using petroleum and nor should our allies. The supreme tragedy is that the US has bankrupted itself ensuring military security for the oil-producing nations of the Gulf when oil production is destroying the world. We need a crash program to get the world off petroleum, some 70% of which is used to power automobiles.

  49. Hank Roberts:

    > perfluorotributylamine

    Look at that molecule: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+7103

    Pretty amazing, huh? Could anyone have wondered just from looking at it that it might be a greenhouse gas, toxic, and incredibly persistent?

    [Among my favorite unwritten science fiction stories: we aren’t smart enough to stop producing ever more complicated persistent molecules; the background level goes up and up. Eventually the alien invaders seed our atmosphere with a template molecule that can scavenge our persistent garbage as it floats by at the ppm or ppb level — and assembles a replicator that eats our lunch, and then us.]

  50. Hank Roberts:

    Early days yet, but a reminder solar stuff’s improving still:

    Solar panel manufacturer China Sunergy, is building a pilot manufacturing line for a two-sided solar cell that can absorb light from both the front and back. Where one-sided solar panel might generate 340 watts, a two-sided one might generate up to 400 watts. They expect the panels to generate 10 to 20 percent more electricity over the course of a year compared to one-sided panels.

    At the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced a new record for solar efficiency of 44.7% using CPV or concentrated photovoltaic technology.

    Although just in the research phase, these efficiencies have the potential to revolutionize the solar industry.

    Recycling or reusing “old, inefficient” solar panels seems likely to become a big deal fairly soon, at the rate they’re going in — because the payback for replacing them will be an issue as efficiency of new ones goes up. I hope the points of failure (cladding, soldering) will be reduced.