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Unforced Variations: Jan 2014

Filed under: — group @ 2 January 2014

First open thread of the new year. A time for ‘best of’s of climate science last year and previews for the this year perhaps? We will have an assessment of the updates to annual indices and model/data comparisons later in the month.


662 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Jan 2014”

  1. 451
    Mal Adapted says:

    Dwight Mac Kerron:

    As for myself, well ensconced in said, sodden middle, I can see how warming will CHANGE things, but we we will adapt; it is what humans do.

    AGW may well end civilization, but few “gloom and doomers” expect Homo sapiens to perish altogether. “We” will certainly adapt, but under realistic warming scenarios, adaptation entails premature death and misery for millions of people. Can you really be sanguine about that? And even under optimistic scenarios, tens of thousands of other species will not adapt, but will be lost to the Great Anthropocene Extinction. Not everyone would consider that a tragedy, but I would.

    More mitigation, less adaptation!

  2. 452
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “Ray seems to want to solve the problems brought on by complexity by employing ever greater levels of complexity.”

    The problem of global warming caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions is not a problem “brought on by complexity”.

    It is a problem brought on by burning fossil fuels. It is a specific problem with a specific cause. It is an urgent problem that we need to solve very, very quickly. It is a problem that we already have the means to solve very, very quickly IF we choose to do so.

    Yes, there are many other problems in the world — some of them may indeed be “brought on by complexity”, whatever that means — and some of them are very challenging and will take a long time to solve.

    But we need to solve the specific, immediate, urgent problem of GHG emissions if we are to have any hope of buying the time to solve those other problems.

    And by the way, an energy economy based entirely on zero-emission renewable energy sources is not self-evidently more “complex” than our current fossil fuel based energy economy. Quite the contrary.

  3. 453
  4. 454
    AIC says:

    (“If you see something…”)

    I’m interested in commentary, and perhaps somebody with expertise should contact Ms. Morelle to provide more information.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25771510

    Has the Sun gone to sleep?
    17 January 2014 Last updated at 05:57 GMT
    Scientists are saying that the Sun is in a phase of “solar lull” – meaning that it has fallen asleep – and it is baffling them.
    History suggests that periods of unusual “solar lull” coincide with bitterly cold winters.
    Rebecca Morelle reports for BBC Newsnight on the effect this inactivity could have on our current climate, and what the implications might be for global warming.

    She interviews:

    Dr. Richard Harrison
    Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

    Dr. Lucie Green
    University College London

    Dr. Mike Lockwood
    University of Reading

    Change in UV affecting jetstream, making Northern Europe colder, even if the rest of the world does not get colder.

  5. 455
    Tony Weddle says:

    Ray,

    Of course I understand technology. I’ve been using computers for over 40 years. Oddly enough, it takes energy to make use of technology. It is energy that is the driver of growth (it’s needed to extract and refine resources, as well as make and use the goods and services we have). Technology can make better use of resources and energy but it can’t substitute for those things. So technology will not drive growth for longer than the required energy and resources are there.

    Our environment just won’t allow growth for ever; so we might as well get used to that. Let’s stop pretending that we can continue on this unsustainable road by just switching to some other energy resource, even if that were possible in time to significantly effect climate change. It’s not happening, anyway, so its being possible is moot.

  6. 456
    Tony Weddle says:

    Secular Animist,

    I would have thought that an economy run on zero emissions energy could well be more complex. After all, that would be switching from a fairly easy way of generating energy from energy dense raw materials to vastly more numerous conversion devices, in more remote places, trying to harness very diffuse and often intermittent, energy sources. Of course, running a society on renewables could be vastly simpler, but I don’t think that’s quite what you had in mind. I have grave doubts that our current industrial and technological societies could be run on renewable energies, even if that were desirable.

  7. 457
  8. 458
    Fred Magyar says:

    SecularAnimist @ 452, wrote:

    “The problem of global warming caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions is not a problem “brought on by complexity”.

    I’d say that is a at the very least a gross over simplification of our current dilemma! or at worst a profoundly disingenuous statement.

    Generally speaking I find your comments to be well thought out and quite rational however I think when making this one it seems you one weren’t wearing your best thinking cap. Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels, it is the life blood of our civilization, without it, it ceases to exist! To say we can solve our problems by ceasing all uses of fossil fuels is it bit like saying we can cure a fish’s ailments by taking it out of the water…

    Unfortunately our current civilization is already in the throes of collapse due to resource depletion and peak oil. Transitioning from the current paradigm to a civilization based exclusively on renewables while highly desirable in theory is unlikely to happen in the short term because we continue to need those same fossil fuels to build out a new renewables based civilization. We continue to add new layers of complexity in a futile attempt to access ever dirtier and more difficult to access sources of fossil fuel such as the Canadian tar sands,deep water drilling or drilling in extremely hostile environments such as the Arctic.

    To me at least, it seems we don’t have a simple problem at all, What we have is multiple nested dilemmas within a conundrum. I don’t know if you are familiar with Dr. Joseph Tainter’s ‘Collapse of complex Societies’

    “According to Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies, societies become more complex as they try to solve problems. Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialEYEsed (deliberately misspelled to get around stupid spam filter) social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and by reliance on symbolic and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production. Such complexity requires a substantial “energy” subsidy (meaning the consumption of resources, or other forms of wealth).

    When a society confronts a “problem,” such as a shortage of energy, or difficulty in gaining access to it, it tends to create new layers of bureaucracy, infrastructure, or social class to address the challenge. Tainter, who first (ch. 1) identifies seventeen examples of rapid collapse of societies, applies his model to three case studies: The Western Roman Empire, the Maya civilization, and the Chaco culture.”

    Case in point about layers of complexity being counter productive: The stupid spam filter wouldn’t let me post a comment containing the word S P E C I A L I S E D because it thought I was trying to promote a drug for erectile disfunction!

  9. 459
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wili,
    I would be happy to try and simplify things–if you’ll just tell me how we can do this and feed, clothe, house and employ 10 billion people by 2080. There are some who are saying our agriculture is already near “peak grain”. Our soils are already becoming depleted of phosphorus. I don’t see how we get there without a new agricultural revolution, a new energy revolution and a new industrial revolution. That depends on technology. Technology need not be dark satanic mills. 3D printers are an empowering technology.

    As to avoiding collapse, I’m afraid no one has been particularly good at that without continual expansion–not even the South Sea Islanders, who had one of the more sustainable societies. We’re trying to develop something new here, something that has never existed. I’m willing to try damn near anything as long as:
    1)It ends with a sustainable, global society.
    2)It does so via a soft landing in terms of reducing population.
    3)It finds a way to negotiate the challenges of caring for the young and the aging as population decreases (never been done before).
    4)It ends with a moderately equitable distribution of wealth across the globe and within societies.
    5)It preserves something like a global civilization.

    Got any suggestions? Because, so far, I’ve heard jack from you that isn’t either handwringing or pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

  10. 460
    Walter Crain says:

    gentlemen,
    my aim was, is, to explain to deniers why temps haven’t risen in the last 10, 12, 15, whatever # of years. i fully understand cherry-picking and one of my favorite graphs is this one:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/Escalator_2012_500.gif

    hank roberts,
    re: “see what you did there”
    i’m not trying to trick anyone. i’m trying to get educated answers to share with deniers out there…. i’m on “your side”… sheesh… i understand the cyclical nature of ENSO (and PDO, MJO etcO). that’s why i was asking if there’s any website that catalogs all the forcings – including the various oscillations.

    the oceans are a huge potential heat sink. there’s a lot of cold water in the oceans. i guess the quick answer to deniers is that the slow down, pause, hiatus, whatever you want to call it, of air temperature increases has been taken up by the oceans.

  11. 461
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Walter Crain
    The quick answers are: the deep water is warmed very slowly by thermohaline circulation, not rapidly and reversibly by wind and wave exchange with the atmosphere.

    Deep cold water can’t keep the planet’s land and air surface cool for our time. When the deep water warms (as it has in the deep time past) this isn’t the same planet.

    Oscillations aren’t forcings. The warm surface water oscillation — back and forth from one side of the Pacific to the other — changes where it is.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/what-ocean-heating-reveals-about-global-warming/

    > any website that catalogs all the forcings
    All those known to date: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/the-evolution-of-radiative-forcing-bar-charts/

  12. 462
    Hank Roberts says:

    … possible involvement of Fungi in CaCO3 biomineralization processes, a role still poorly documented at present-day. Moreover, on a global scale, the organomineralization of organic nanofibres into calcitic nanofibres might have a great, however overlooked, impact on the biogeochemical cycles of both Ca and C.

    Citation: Bindschedler, S., Cailleau, G., Braissant, O., Millière, L., Job, D., and Verrecchia, E. P.: Unravelling the enigmatic origin of calcitic nanofibres in soils and caves: purely physicochemical or biogenic processes?, Biogeosciences Discuss., 11, 975-1019, doi:10.5194/bgd-11-975-2014, 2014.

  13. 463
    Walter Crain says:

    thanks, hank.

    i understand what you mean by “oscillations aren’t forcings”. ok… maybe not in the rigorous sense you might use it, but el nino IS a forcing in the common vernacular in that it DOES cause global temps to go up, if only temporarily, as shown in the chart in the article to which you linked:
    http://www.realclimate.org/images/climcent_sat_enso.png

    the PDO is also a “forcing” in this temporary, oscillating sort of way:
    http://www.nature.com/news/warming-jpg-7.14906?article=1.14525

    so… do you guys know of a website that catalogs the states of the various oscillations, which i understand are not really, really “forcings”…?

  14. 464
    SecularAnimist says:

    Tony Weddle wrote: “I would have thought that an economy run on zero emissions energy could well be more complex. After all, that would be switching from a fairly easy way of generating energy from energy dense raw materials to vastly more numerous conversion devices, in more remote places, trying to harness very diffuse and often intermittent, energy sources.”

    There is nothing either “easy” or simple about extracting, refining, transporting and burning vast quantities of highly toxic “raw materials” that are densely concentrated in a few places on Earth, which requires them to be shipped all over the place to where they are finally burned — especially when the supply of those resources is rapidly dwindling and becoming increasingly difficult, costly, destructive and complicated to obtain.

    On the other hand, wind and solar energy are abundantly available everywhere on Earth, and the technologies needed to harvest them, and when necessary store them, are profoundly simpler than the technologies needed to produce usable energy from fossil fuels (which as described above require costly and complicated mining, refining, and transporting before they can even be burned).

    Today’s commercially available photovoltaic panels, for example, are certainly the product of some of the most advanced science and technology in the world — but that doesn’t necessarily make them “complex” to manufacture, install or use. Indeed, there are millions of residential and commercial rooftop solar installations up and running all over the world which are turnkey, plug-and-play systems which require little or no intervention or even much thought from the users.

    Where a renewable-based grid would entail additional complexity is in the grid itself — i.e. the “smart grid” that will be needed to efficiently and resiliently integrate a diverse population of electricity producer/users, both large and small, centralized and highly-distributed.

    But we have done this sort of thing before — it’s called the Internet. And somehow I haven’t seen the evolution from the telegraph to the telephone to the Internet bring about the collapse of civilization due to “complexity”.

    Quite the contrary — the built-in “intelligence” and resilience of the Internet is an essential tool for maintaining a complex society. Likewise, we need to replace our current, primitive, “dumb” power grid with an intelligent grid. That is, in fact, a key component of eliminating all GHG emissions from electricity generation — which is a significant chunk of the GHG problem.

  15. 465
    DIOGENES says:

    I wanted to get some idea of this blog’s history, so I examined the archives. The initial entries are around November 2004, so we’re approaching a decade. A small sampling of comments from that period showed two interesting findings: there was much angst and concern expressed about taking immediate action to limit carbon emissions and potential climate disaster, and myriad proposals were advanced covering a wide spectrum of possibilities with no temperature ceiling or allowable carbon budget numbers to back them up.

    Fast forward to today, where the Keeling Curve and the global CO2 emissions graphs have continued their inexorable climb. Guess what: the same angst and concern about the necessity of immediate action to limit carbon emissions, and the same wide spectrum of proposals with no temperature ceiling or allowable carbon budget numbers to back them up. So, in the course of a decade, we have not been able to come to consensus about the best pathway to limit climate damage, and the audience for our proposals still has no idea of the specific consequences on temperature and other specific parameters that could result from implementation of our proposals. Is it any wonder we’re getting nothing done?

  16. 466
    SecularAnimist says:

    Fred Magyar wrote: “Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels, it is the life blood of our civilization, without it, it ceases to exist!”

    With all due respect, that’s nonsense. And of course, it is also the favorite bumper sticker slogan of the fossil fuel corporations, who love to equate “energy” with fossil fuels.

    Our “complex industrial civilization” requires ENERGY. Burning fossil fuels is just one way of obtaining that energy. Thanks to the geological accident of plentiful fossil fuels happening to be readily accessible where human beings could discover them, we have grown to rely on them. Now they are running out, with the remaining supplies being of decreasing quality, ever more costly and difficult and destructive to extract. Moreover, we now know that thanks to AGW we simply MUST NOT extract and burn the vast majority of the remaining reserves.

    But so what? The total amount of energy contained in ALL the fossil fuels on Earth, both what we have already burned and the remaining reserves combined, is PUNY compared to the solar and wind energy that is available to us in any given year.

    Getting off fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy won’t deprive our civilization of its “life blood” — on the contrary it will replace energy scarcity with energy abundance.

  17. 467
    SecularAnimist says:

    Fred Magyar wrote: “Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels …”

    By the way, as a “thought experiment” I find it interesting to contemplate an alternative history of human civilization, in which the Earth’s geological history was such that there simply were no deposits of fossil fuels accessible to human extraction. Perhaps all of that ancient biomass happened to get buried far, far below the Earth’s surface, under the deep oceans, etc. As a result, we never started burning fossil fuels in the first place.

    What would have happened?

    Well, the 19th century saw tremendous advances in the scientific understanding and the use of electricity. The late 19th century was a “golden age” of electrical engineering. The photovoltaic effect was first observed in 1839, and the photoelectric effect was observed in 1887 and explained by Einstein in 1905.

    Perhaps, in the absence of fossil fuels, an emerging technological civilization would have recognized the potential of solar-generated electricity much earlier, and it would have become the “life blood” of our civilization, instead of fossil fuels.

    In which case we would not be facing the problem of AGW from fossil-fueled GHG emissions at all.

    And our society, governments, economy and culture would have not have been distorted by the concentrated wealth and power of those few who could gain control of the world’s fuel supply, but rather would have been shaped by technologies that give universal access to an abundant, endless supply of free energy.

  18. 468
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Does anyone know when the next El Nino might occur? What are some indicators to look for as to when it might arrive? Thanks

  19. 469
    wili says:

    Nicely put, Magyar. That spam filter thing is just too funny and a propos!

    Ray, I’m sure anything I say is going to sound either like hand-wringing or pie-in-the-sky to you. Perhaps those really are the only actual options left to us?? (Note though that ending South African Apartheid and the Soviet Empire seemed like pie-in-the-sky goals…until they happened.)

    I think it is quite likely at this point that there is no path left that fulfills all of your laudable criteria. There are, after all, consequences to ignoring problems and warnings, as we collectively as a world have been doing for decades now. And we have now, to paraphrase Churchill, entered the era of consequences.

    But since you put them out there, I’ll lay out some random thoughts on each of your points, but to save having to repeat it, these are all things we _could_ do with enough collective will, not things that I think we are _likely_ to do:

    “1)It ends with a sustainable, global society” This sounds very nice, but you do realize that, by its very nature, _no_ forms of mining are ‘sustainable.’ So, if we are going to go on making anything with, for example, metals, that means moving completely to a total-recycling or “scavenger” society, as far as metals go. Ultimately, of course, even this is not sustainable, as metals tend to degrade and oxidize over time–rust never sleeps, and all that. The least sustainable things to mine are those substances we burn once we mine them (that is fossil-death-fuels)–no realistic way to recycle or scavenge them at that point. I see no way of doing anything close to this without massively downsizing the economy– specifically the manufacture and purchase of the number of things we buy and then fairly quickly burn or throw away (a huge part of the current economy).

    “2)It does so via a soft landing in terms of reducing population” Population _could_ be reduced relatively ‘softly’ by enacting universal policies that result in no more than one child per woman and only after that woman was at least 30. Ideally this would be accomplished through a variety of incentives and empowerments. Yes, there will be demographic challenges as the ‘missing’ generation is not there to care for and pay for care of the elderly. Obviously the not-quite-as-old-and-infirm will have to take up the job of caring for those who are older and less firm. This is something already faced by various societies. Those who handle best that inevitable demographic transitions could be models to be replicated elsewhere.

    “3)It finds a way to negotiate the challenges of caring for the young and the aging as population decreases (never been done before).” See above.
    “4)It ends with a moderately equitable distribution of wealth across the globe and within societies.”

    Obviously capitalism, especially the relatively unfettered version we now have in the US, has _not_ resulted in anything like “moderately equitable distribution of wealth.” This problem obviously calls for some kind of reparations as called for in the various “contraction and conversion” scenarios that others have laid out in more detail than I can go into here. (OK, I’ve said I wouldn’t endlessly repeat “_could_ vs _likely_” issue, but this, like the others, prompt the age old question, “Who will bell that cat?” But this is always so when revolutionary changes are needed. The answer is all of us who have a clue.)

    “5)It preserves something like a global civilization” This of course depends on what parts of global civ one thinks is worth preserving and what is possible to be preserved. Kevin Anderson and others have pointed out that the emissions road we are on will make any kind of global civilization impossible fairly quickly (within the next few decades, if not sooner). If it means a civilization that involves constant air transport across continents, for example, I can’t see that as something that can be preserved (unless we’re talking dirigibles, or some such thing). Most production of most things will have to be relatively local. Of course, there is much much more that could be said on each of these and more. But this post is already too long.

    I think we may be in agreement that all of this becomes more possible if we were able to divert resources away from ‘wasteful’ uses, but we may disagree on what those wastes are. Mine would include: most military expense; nearly everything used to prop up the current crop of financial wizards/banksters; most air travel; most meat and dairy eating; most non-local production; most products intended for one-time use…I’m sure others can add many more. Most of us can opt to cut most of these out of our own lives. But we mostly need collective action.

    The point is, we are at the point of wiping out not only ourselves but most of complex life on earth. This is not the time for imagining that slight adjustments at the edges of the system are going to move us perceptibly away form our current omni-cidal direction. (Sorry for the longish screed–but you did kind of ask for it.)

  20. 470
    Walter Crain says:

    DIOGENES says:
    19 Jan 2014 at 12:45 PM

    I wanted to get some idea of this blog’s history, so I examined the archives…..there was much angst and concern expressed about taking immediate action to limit carbon emissions and potential climate disaster….

    Fast forward to today, where the Keeling Curve and the global CO2 emissions graphs have continued their inexorable climb. Guess what: the same angst and concern about the necessity of immediate action to limit carbon emissions….So, in the course of a decade, we have not been able to come to consensus about the best pathway to limit climate damage…..
    ————————–

    it’s a denier success story. the plan is working beautifully.

  21. 471
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the various oscillations

    e.g.
    http://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/el-nino-other-oscillations

    What are other oscillations?

    Many other naturally occurring ocean-atmosphere oscillations in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans have been recognized and named….

    Antarctic Oscillation (AAO)
    Arctic Oscillation (AO)
    Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)
    Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)
    Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)
    North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
    North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO)
    North Pacific Oscillation (NPO)
    Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)
    Pacific-North American (PNA) Pattern

  22. 472
    Hank Roberts says:

    I recommend reading (the spam filter hates this link, so I’ve broken it up into pieces to get it through:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080418070607/tamino.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/wiggles

  23. 473
    Chuck Hughes says:

    NBC News as of today:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/science/be-prepared-extreme-el-nino-events-double-study-says-2D11947406

    What are the chances that the next El Nino will be worse than 1998? It’s been 16 years since the last one and according to this article they happen about every 10 years or so. Does the fact that it’s been so long since the last one portend anything or is the time between El Nino events arbitrary? Thanks.

  24. 474
    MARodger says:

    Walter Crain @463.
    A bewildering array of oscillations and data series of their history is presented by NOAA ESRL (although this has been previously presented to you @438). As you admit, these are oscillations not forcings.
    I am not sure what you are trying to infer by presenting the Jeff Tollefson PDO/temperature graphic again. The original version of the PDO part appears as the smoothed line on this Washington Uni graphic. Yet, unlike ENSO, there is no sign of this PDO signal (smoothed or otherwise) visible in the global temperature record. How can you then suggest it is some “forcing” wobbling global temperatures? The sole evidence is the PDO going ‘mainly negative’ roughly when the early twentieth century warming peaked and then going ‘mainly positive’ when the late twentieth century warming began. And it is now again ‘mainly negative’. But if you smooth out the wobbles in ENSO, it shows exactly the same features. And the ENSO signal is evident in the temperature record. So I fail to understand your interest in PDO?

  25. 475
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “… moving completely to a total-recycling or ‘scavenger’ society, as far as metals go. Ultimately, of course, even this is not sustainable, as metals tend to degrade and oxidize over time …”

    Ultimately, of course, the aging Sun will expand and incinerate the Earth and everything on it. Nothing is “ultimately sustainable”. If you have trouble accepting that, then I recommend Buddhism.

    Meanwhile, we are in the midst of an urgent crisis driven by our reliance on particular technologies which release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and thereby threaten the “sustainability” of not only our civilization, but of a diverse, healthy and thriving biosphere, much beyond the next 50 years.

    We need to solve that specific problem NOW — within YEARS, not decades — if we are to have any hope of “sustaining” our civilization long enough that we’ll need to worry about the challenges of sustaining a renewable energy / recycling based economy over many millennia.

  26. 476
    sidd says:

    Re: reliance on IEA projections

    For amusement, here are two IEA projections from the past:

    1998: IEA predicts 47 GW wind by 2020
    Reality: 47 GW installed in 2004

    2002: IEA predicts 104 GW by 2020
    Reality: 104GW installed in 2008

    For more fun look at spectacularly incorrect previous IEA estimates for Saudi reserves, world crude and condensate production, oil price …

    The IEA is a frail reed upon which to rest looming edifice of assured doom.

    sidd

  27. 477
    wili says:

    Chuck, the latest from NOAA shows a relatively strong El Nino event by October of this year.

    http://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/wwang/cfsv2fcst/imagesInd3/nino34Mon.gif

    But this is a change from just last week that showed a relatively weak one. Apparently predictions at this time of year are very difficult. It will become more and more clear in the coming months. Definitely worth watching carefully. But perhaps others, who are likely to know much more than I do about such things, can shed further light here?

  28. 478
    wili says:

    SA, rust operates at time scales a bit faster than does the rate of the sun’s expansion, iirc. Nice try at reductio ad absurdum, though.

    “We need to solve that specific problem NOW — within YEARS, not decades”

    Yep, that’s why we don’t have time to rely on the marketplace to gradually replace fossil-death-fuels (if this would actually ever happen completely). Even mandated rapid acceleration of alternatives (which I support) will not be fast enough at this point (though we should be doing this anyway).

    As Kevin Anderson and others have pointed out, we need to ‘crash’ carbon emissions by at least 10% starting NOW; and as he further points out, this just cannot be done by alternative supply alone in the timescales needed. The ‘win-win’ strategies you continue to promote are those I have been promoting for decades. But now is not decades ago, and the urgency of the reality demands immediate, dramatic action.

    Do you have _anything_ to contribute to the discussion besides “more alternative energy”? If so, please do.

    (reCaptcha oracle comments: sacrifice oodamss!)

  29. 479
    flxible says:

    For Chuck Hughes, ENSO and links here

  30. 480
    Tony Weddle says:

    Ray,

    What wili said. I would add a little extra on sustainability, since this is what you imagine that your policies would result in. A sustainable society cannot consume resources faster than they can be renewed (for non-renewable resources, that means none can be consumed – at least on an ongoing basis – and renewable resources can’t be consumed faster than their renewal rates). A sustainable society can’t degrade its environment by its behaviour (and by its consumption of resources). It seems that your preference is to continue, mayb even worsen, unsustainable behaviours until some magical point at which societies are living sustainably, having reached 10 billion people or more.

    Personally, this is just wishful thinking. If you think wili, or I, haven’t provided a smooth pathway for you to achieve all of your desires for the future, then it might be because such a pathway doesn’t exist. In order to start addressing our predicament we have to start describing reality, not virtual reality. That bad things might happen in the future is no justification for putting on the rose coloured glasses and insisting that those bad things must not be allowed to happen. If you want to reach sustainability, start now by powering down, localising and loosening dependencies on far-flung lands.

    Secular Animist dreams that the energy of the sun (including energies converted by nature to other forms) can be harnessed at whatever level we desire without having significant adverse impacts, without running out of resources, without increasing complexity and having such a high EROEI that current industrial and technological civilisation can carry on as before, perhaps for ever. That is just as unreal as your hope that all countries can continue to grow until they all have the standard of living they want and until women, globally, stop having more than replacement children. Of course, there is nothing to stop both of you wishing for the best but I don’t think meaningful approaches to our predicament are best served by ignoring reality. Economic growth is not our friend.

  31. 481
    JCH says:

    Walter Crain

    When will the PDO begin it’s warm phase?

    Assuming there is something to this PDO thing, the mid-20th century cooling commences around two years after the change in direction of the PDO trend in 1940. So for around 12 years there was a pronounced cooling. After that it levels off, somewhat akin to what we have happening now. Peak to peak is about 40 years. Currently the PDO has been on a negative trend since ~1983. The surface air temperature appears to have a mind of its own as it is doing the opposite of what it did with respect to the PDO in 1940 to 1954. One could argue the surface air temperature has paid no attention to the PDO until around 2002.

    So what is next? Based on the pattern exhibited mid-20th century, it looks like an upward trend in the PDO is about due.

  32. 482
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by wili — 19 Jan 2014 @ 4:12 PM

    Come on Wili. Like DIOGENES, you have contributed nothing about how to realistically get from here to there (e.g. convince citizens). Also, do you really not know that another name for rust is ore, it doesn’t go away.

    Steve

  33. 483
    David B. Benson says:

    Steve Fish @483 — A mineral body is not an ore if it is not economically recoverable.

  34. 484
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wili,
    Recycling and scavenging are key–not just of metals, but of nutrients. And yes, materials degrade over time, but that doesn’t mean they become unusable–energy is required to restore them to usefulness. We are going to need energy, both to maintain a viable civilization and to repair damage to the environment. It won’t work to go back to the 1700s–we have to go forward. If you demand sacrifice from people and tell them things will always be worse, you will fail. WWI was the war to end war. True, it failed in that goal, but the goal did not fail to motivate horrendous sacrifice. WWII was the war to make the world safe for democracy–arguably a bit more successful. We need something we can promise in return for the sacrifice–perhaps a war for the security of our progeny.

  35. 485
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tony Weddle, I would think that you at least agree that the ultimate goal is a sustainable society–one that can be maintained over a large number of human generations. OK. I disagree with some of your characterizations thereof–it is not necessarily consumption that must be avoided, but rather consumption that cannot eventually be recycled. And growth can occur in such a society as long as it is driven by technology and not by extraction and consumption. We can mine, but we have to repair the damage and recycle, eventually, what we’ve mined.

    Now the question, ultimately, is how we get from where we are to sustainability, and if you examine the issue, I think you will find that all 5 of my criteria + more must be met if we want a reasonable chance of arriving there with a society anyone decent would want to live in.

    It is not necessarily all consumption that is the enemy. Consumption that brings us nearer the goal of sustainability is essential. Mere austerity won’t get us there.

  36. 486
    James Killen says:

    Just noticed that Nature seems unwittingly to have provided the doubters with some ammunition demonstrating “obvious deception.” The difference between the warm and cold phases in the figure entitled ‘The Fickle Ocean’ accompanying this recent piece, seems just a little too symmetrical.

    What, however, is this actually illustrating? Some ideal? A reflection of actual data from particular warm and cold phases? (Surely not.) Can anyone enlighten?

  37. 487
    Rick Brown says:

    Okay, I need some assistance from someone more numerate than I which, to a first approximation, means most anyone reading this. Which source below has it right; is it gigatons of carbon or of CO2?

    1) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center – http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html

    “Q. In terms of mass, how much carbon does 1 part per million by volume of atmospheric CO2 represent?

    A. Using 5.137 x 1018 kg as the mass of the atmosphere (Trenberth, 1981 JGR 86:5238-46), 1 ppmv of CO2= 2.13 Gt of carbon.”

    2) W. Ruddiman. 2014. Earth Transformed, spp. 38-39 “Each 1 ppm of atmospheric CO2 concentration represents about 2.13 billion tons of CO2 . . .”

    Extra credit it you show your work. ;-) Thanks.

  38. 488
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Jan 2014 @ 7:14 PM

    And? See comments by Ray Ladbury just above and – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_ore

    Steve

  39. 489
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Consumption that brings us nearer the goal of sustainability

    Like this thing: took some work, automatically cites a direct quote — nice! few minerals were consumed in the creation of this feature:

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/01/unforced-variations-jan-2014/comment-page-10/#comment-451841

  40. 490
    Hank Roberts says:

    (The pasted text aches for quotation marks or blockquote format, but hey)

  41. 491
    sidd says:

    I note with interest

    1) “Potential subglacial lake locations and meltwater drainage pathways beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets,” Livingstone et al., The Cryosphere, 7, 1721–1740, 2013

    http://www.the-cryosphere.net/7/1721/2013/

    doi:10.5194/tc-7-1721-2013

    which has fascinating maps of (some putative) buried rivers and lakes in Greenland and Antarctica.

    Now that brings me to the studies on inverting surface velocity and elevation data for basal conditions such as slipperiness. For a nice taste see ” Estimating basal properties of ice streams from surface measurements: a non-linear Bayesian inverse approach applied to synthetic data,” Raymond and Gudmundsson, The Cryosphere, 3, 265–278, 2009, http://www.the-cryosphere.net/3/265/2009 (no doi, so sad,) but there are far more detailed treatments that seem broadly correlated with Livingstone.

    Are there any studies demonstrating that indeed, in general, ice slides easier in the regions where we suspect water flow at base ? Not just near the outlets, where i am aware of some work, but over the whole ice sheets ?

    sidd

  42. 492
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “Do you have _anything_ to contribute to the discussion besides more alternative energy?”

    I have nothing to offer those who have their hearts set on failure and take comfort in defeatism and despair.

    To those who go on and on about the impossibility of attaining some pie-in-the-sky utopia of ultimate, guaranteed eternal “sustainability”, I offer one word: FOCUS.

    The house is on fire. This is not the time to worry about whether moisture may damage the foundation over the next 50 years.

    For those who want to have a shot at preventing the worst possible outcomes of global warming and recognize that this requires ending all anthropogenic GHG emissions within a VERY, VERY short time, I am simply pointing out that:

    1. Emissions from electricity generation are a significant part of the problem — according to the EPA, in 2011 electricity generation was the largest single source of US GHG emissions accounting for 33 percent of total emissions.

    2. We have the ability to eliminate virtually all of those emissions within 10 years, by rapidly deploying today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies. The explosive and accelerating growth of wind and solar energy that we have already seen in the last few years demonstrates that this is possible. Achieving this will have enormously beneficial environmental, economic and social “side effects” in addition to reducing GHG emissions and has no real downside in any of those respects.

  43. 493
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Update on my #443
    To be fair, I must mention that this renders the first two lines of that comment obsolete:

    New development

    Unfortunately, the rest of my original comment is unaffected.

  44. 494
    DIOGENES says:

    Sidd #477,

    ” 477.Re: reliance on IEA projections

    For amusement, here are two IEA projections from the past:

    1998: IEA predicts 47 GW wind by 2020
    Reality: 47 GW installed in 2004

    2002: IEA predicts 104 GW by 2020
    Reality: 104GW installed in 2008

    For more fun look at spectacularly incorrect previous IEA estimates for Saudi reserves, world crude and condensate production, oil price …

    The IEA is a frail reed upon which to rest looming edifice of assured doom.”

    You don’t identify the post you are addressing. If it is the projections in my post that showed a 46% increase in CO2 emissions in 2040 compared to 2010, they were by the EIA, not the IEA. These are very different organizations.

    Now, to paraphrase Yogi Berra: ‘Predictions are very uncertain, especially of the future’. The EIA predicts two or three decades into the future in its biennial reports. If the prediction for each source for each year is a data point, there are hundreds of data points in each report, and thousands in the compendium of reports. To get some estimate of prediction accuracy, one would perform a random representative sampling of these thousands of data points. Far more than two would be required! But, for many of the ideologues who post on this site, one or two ‘selected’ points are more than enough as long as they support the ideology.

    Since you have accessed some projections (and have not provided a link to those projections), could you provide a couple more projections? What were the 2002 projections for total fossil fuel use and/or total CO2 emissions for 2013. Those are the numbers about which we should be concerned. Fossil and wind can grow at unprecedented rates, but unless much of that growth starts coming at the expense of legacy fossil, it is somewhat irrelevant for our purposes.

  45. 495
    Walter Crain says:

    MARodgers @475

    i DO see a correlation between the “mostly positive” parts with rising global temps and the “mostly negative” parts with steady or slowly rising global temps.
    http://www.nature.com/news/warming-jpg-7.14906?article=1.14525

    the graph you reference is only showing land temps and there’s less corelation:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/BP1A-04.jpg

    keep in mind i’m not saying PDO is causing global warming or anything, but it does appear to accelerate or attenuate its effects. it implies to me that a negative PDO is currently masking or minimizing global warming temp rises.

    when the negative ENSO and the negative PDO and the “negative” solar cycles go positive, air temps will continue their upward march.

    as for that “dizzying array” of oscillations and dipoles etc…. wow… that’s quite an array alright. are any of those thought/known to affect global temps like ENSO and possibly the PDO?

  46. 496
    DIOGENES says:

    #494

    “Fossil and wind” should be “solar and wind”.

  47. 497
    Bill Ruddiman says:

    Re: 487: My goof. Kevin Trenberth (of course) has it right. Each ppm of CO2 represents 2.13 Gt (billion tons) of carbon. The corresponding atomic weight of CO2 is higher by a factor of 44/12 because it includes not just carbon (12) but also oxygen (2 x 16).

  48. 498
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-013-1007-x
    DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-1007-x

    Climatic Change
    January 2014, Volume 122, Issue 1-2, pp 257-269
    Anthropogenic and natural causes of climate change
    David I. Stern, Robert K. Kaufmann

    Abstract

    We test for causality between radiative forcing and temperature using multivariate time series models and Granger causality tests that are robust to the non-stationary (trending) nature of global climate data. We find that both natural and anthropogenic forcings cause temperature change and also that temperature causes greenhouse gas concentration changes. Although the effects of greenhouse gases and volcanic forcing are robust across model specifications, we cannot detect any effect of black carbon on temperature, the effect of changes in solar irradiance is weak, and the effect of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols may be only around half that usually attributed to them.

  49. 499

    “I have grave doubts that our current industrial and technological societies could be run on renewable energies, even if that were desirable.

    Tony, WTF?

    I, for one, find that highly desirable, since it would by definition imply success in creating a zero-emission energy economy. It’s true that the jury is still out on the practicality question, but I think that SA has done a much better job of supporting his optimism than you have done of supporting your ‘grave doubts.’ (Though there are still lots more comments I want to catch up on…)

  50. 500
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #499,

    “SA has done a much better job of supporting his optimism”.

    Not true. He has not shown a major consequence of his proposal: the impact on peak temperature during the transition. If temperature increase reaches levels that we cannot stabilize, then all is for naught. He needs an energy use diagram with the detail and complexity of the LLNL diagram on energy use he loves to reference. I think he will find that the amount of fossil energy used during the full transition to maintain lifestyle and prosperity, which he loves to emphasize, will lead to undesirable temperatures. I have estimated between 2 and 3 C, but it could be more. This is one case where details are important.


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