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Unforced variations: Aug 2015

Filed under: — group @ 3 August 2015

This month’s open thread. A traditional time to discuss the Arctic sea ice minimum. But NH summer heatwaves, and to be fair, snow in the southern hemisphere, are also fair game…

282 Responses to “Unforced variations: Aug 2015”

  1. 151

    RC, still wearing the dunce hat: Millions of years ago the world was hotter. But instead of a drought-stricken moonscape, the planet was busily growing so much more than could be consumed that fossil fuels in incredible amounts were being laid down. Why do you think that this time will be different?

    BPL: I’m sure life will survive the mass extinction and we’ll have lush jungles again. The question is whether HUMAN CIVILIZATION will survive. It’s not the end point that’s the problem, it’s the transition. Our agriculture and economy are not adapted for the f****g Pennsylvanian.

  2. 152
    Killian says:

    Northwest Passage is full of mush. Rather, somewhat full of mush over some of its length.

    Wish the ice area graphics and charts would update… four days behind… gonna be a bit of a dogleg down. Or should be.

  3. 153

    #142–I think Bremen ‘over displays’ a bit. Looking at CT, the Northwest Passage isn’t clear yet:

    But it sure looks like it’s getting close–and with three or four weeks, probably, ’til minimum, seems like a good chance that it will open this year.

  4. 154
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Richard Caldwell — 12 Aug 2015 @ 10:11 PM, ~#127

    Your comment, “the planet was busily growing so much more than could be consumed that fossil fuels in incredible amounts were being laid down. Why do you think that this time will be different?” suggests that you should actually read up on what you are talking about.

    The carboniferous period, during which fossil fuels were laid down, involved rapid evolution and growth of plants when there were no organisms that had yet evolved the means to break down lignin and other plant components. The resulting deep beds of intact plant material are what were formed into fossil fuels. That is what is different and it will never happen again.


  5. 155
    Dan H. says:

    You are aware that the Sahel drought was brought on by the cooling that occurred in the years prior, particularly that of the North Atlantic. Warmer waters since have resulted in the rains returning. The Sahel has greened significantly since 1984.

  6. 156
    Killian says:

    It’s official! CO2 averaged over 400 ppm for six months this year, Feb. – July. Jan. was just under 400. See the charts at the Keeling site.

    Assuming little or no overall reductions in emissions, predict 9 or 10 Dec. – Aug., with Aug. the most uncertain as summer concentrations fall rather quickly, usually, after July. If emissions are flat, we would sill expect around 2.2-ish ppm rise overall.

    Fun. Whole year over 400 ppm by 2017?

  7. 157
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Some norwegian statisticians have just published an article about a survey in which they conclude that the global temperature increase during the last hundred years or so may as well be pure coincidence. They point to chaos theory which according to them should prove that certain patterns can repeat themselves on different timescales and just be pure coincidence, i.e. may not need to have any physical causes. They argue that in their analysis, the temperature data so far does not show any tendency that couldn’t be just pure coincidence. The researchers in case openly admit that they have no insight whatsoever in climate science. Nonetheless, in other parts of the article they go on about the old story about city heat islands skewing the data etc., which shows that they haven’t put very much effort into understanding what they are writing about (it seems they don’t think the subject is serious enogh for that? You know, Norway has an extremely oil-dependent economy, but our politicians of course love the global myth about Norway being one of the leading countries in climate sustainability etc., as most politicians they are mainly preoccupied with blowing up their egos).

    Could anyone here with statistical expertice say something about the chaos-theory argument? Does that hold at all? As you would expect, the usual suspects in our media are already blowing up this story as much as possible, with the usual nationalistic turn: “Our” statisticians reveal the failure of IPCC etc. etc. And also of course: they are being “censored”, since the national bureau of statistics (, where they work, won’t let them publish their findings as researchers there, the reason of course being that the SSB don’t do climate science, and that the reseachers haven’t been willing to let their paper be reviewed by climate scientists.

  8. 158
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Add to my question in # 150. Now I managed to find the link to the article in question (which I haven’t read yet, I only read a resume in a norwegian newspaper, in norwegian: at there is a link where you can download pdf of the article. I here copy the abstract: “This paper analyzes temperature data obtained from 96 world wide weather stations, as well as reconstruct-ed data from the last two millennia. Our model is derived from three invariance hypotheses. The first one is that the temperature process is stationary. The second one is that the distribution of the average tempera-ture over any specific time period does not depend on the length of the period apart from a scale transfor-mation. The third one is that the temperature process is Gaussian. These hypotheses imply that the temper-ature process is a so-called Fractional Gaussian noise process. This type of processes exhibits long range dependence. In order to test our hypotheses we have applied a graphical test based on the empirical char-acteristic function and a Chi-square test. The tests indicate that the most of the observed data are consistent with the Fractional Gaussian noise model as a representation of the temperature process. The tests also im-ply that the reconstructed data are consistent with Fractional Gaussian noise model.”

    Very interested in comments.

    [Response: I had a quick look, and while their overkill on mathematical derivations is impressive, all they have actually done is fit a statistical model (with Fractional Gaussian noise – FGN) to the individual station data. As has been discussed ad nauseum in previous cases (search for ‘unit roots’ on Bart Verheggen’s blog), you can always do this if the noise model has enough structure. But in no case does it give you an attribution to natural or anthropogenic effects – all it says it that you can find alternative fits to the observations *if* you assume the climate has some very specific statistical form (which generally has no physical meaning). The test of any such fit of course is whether it predicts anything skillfully and this is neither discussed nor demonstrated. They could for instance have tried to predict post 1970 data with only a fit based on pre-1970 data, but they do not. – gavin]

  9. 159
    Richard Caldwell says:


    Your post didn’t add much to the discussion, which is quite rare for you.


    Thanks for responding. Please note that I began this discussion with the assumption that I could be just not getting it. I’ve twice asked for help with understanding. With that in mind:

    BPL: 40% or 70% of land in severe drought

    RC: I think you’re forgetting that the sub-arctic and arctic are huge and not expected to experience drought, especially with the opening up of the Arctic ocean. Does your paper even include the Arctic in its “Drought Index”? I’ve brought up the subject of the Arctic several times. Since our actual concern is not “land in drought” but “land not in drought” and the Arctic represents “free land”, any land there that is not in drought should be calculated as a negative Drought Index, and any land in drought should be excluded from the calculations. That’s an awfully major point to ignore.

    Plus, current deserts might bloom. The Sahara was lush perhaps 6000 years ago. Perhaps we know enough about climate to rule that out. I don’t know.

    You mentioned that your best guess is the drought index will go sigmoid. What evidence supports your guesstimate that 55% of the land will end up in drought, as opposed to, say 25%? You mentioned that you believe that [as temperature rises] we’ll have lush jungles again. That seems to suggest a bell curve, as opposed to a sigmoid. If it were sigmoid, then those future jungles wouldn’t exist.

    If half? of the world is highly resistant to future drought by virtue of being wet and probably getting wetter, or, in what doesn’t sound bad for agriculture, turning into grasslands, then your conclusion suggests that you believe that essentially all drought-plausible land will go into perpetual drought. In one sense, that IS driving F to 100%. (yet another possible 2040 world-feeder is a dead Amazon. Unlike today, nobody will vote for not farming the whole area. Like the future Arctic, a drought-stricken dead Amazon which still gets enough rain for crops should also be counted as negative-drought.)

    You gave a model for Earth 2040ish of a coastal swamp and desert interior, with “maybe” an intermediate belt in between. Would you please provide some quantifying data? Mountains are where they are.

    You concluded by putting on your dunce hat. My posts have been quite clear that I expect a huge disaster precisely in the way you attempt to school me. Yep, I won’t be surprised if hundreds of millions starve and we lose great chunks of IQ from entire cohorts of small children in many regions as we transition to whatever world we’re creating.

  10. 160
  11. 161
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    2014 73 50 77 78 85 65 58 81 89 85 68 78
    2015 81 87 90 73 77 79 75 ** ** ** ** **

  12. 162
    Jerry Toman says:

    @Jim #143.

    My proposal has the objective of cooling the average temperature of the river water as it reaches the Arctic Ocean, not increasing its flow. I don’t see how that contributes to increasing the amount of fresh meltwater–if anything is reduces it by reducing the amount of sea ice melting it currently is causing.
    If one is concerned about possible adverse affects it could cause on Greenland (I don’t think there would be any), it could initially be deployed far from there, perhaps in the Lena or MacKenzie river watershed.
    The device would have the multiplier effect of increasing cloud cover and the duration of the winter snow cover on adjacent land to reflect more energy back into space in these areas.
    Given the gravity of the situation, it would be an error, imo, to put all our eggs into any one “technology basket” before extensive testing is done on all devices which demonstrate significant potential. (Leave no stone unturned).

    I know of no other technology, except sulfate injection, perhaps–(the two might be combined) that would have a direct and immediate effect on the arctic energy balance, notwithstanding any possible long-term OTEC potential in tropical waters.

  13. 163

    BPL@119: Thank you for your numbers, but where does denial begin if a hypothesis is not rejected? When it missed its original 67% mark? 95%? 99.9%? Or will you be fine as long as the dates for predictions are regularly moved forward?

  14. 164

    Chuck@128: “It’s obvious to me that you don’t understand basic scientific principals”

    Of course I do after many years at university. Though any scientific statement requires that it has to be possible to prove it wrong, it doesn’t mean that you must write “could”, “may”. You either insult the reader by reminding him of science basics or you appear to be vague. If you’re not confident, don’t bother to publish, and if you’re confident, show it and make your case. I think authors will improve their papers if they for every “could”, “may” ask themselves if the word is necessary. I see no reason for climate science to use these words much more frequently than the language average.

  15. 165
    Hank Roberts says:

    A helpful feedback:

    Environmental controls of marine productivity hot spots around Antarctica
    July 2015
    Kevin R. Arrigo, Gert L. van Dijken and Aaron L. Strong
    DOI : 10.1002/2015JC010888

    Increased melting may supply more iron

  16. 166

    KVJ 157, I’ll just run a quick regression of temperature anomaly against time for the last 100 years.

    I get r = 0.8845
    r^2 = 0.7823
    t = 398.2

    p-value: off the scale. There is essentially 0 probability that this is a random effect. Q.E.D.

  17. 167

    RC 159, if you think the Arctic polar cap is over land, you are, again, the dunce. If you think Arctic land like northern Canada and Siberia will prove to be good farmland, dunce again. And my prediction for lush jungles reoccurring is perhaps 1-10 million years in the future.

    SK 163, you are the one moving the goalposts, not me. I repeat that I expect the crash c. 2028 with 6-year 1-sigma error bars.

    Let me turn the question around. How much land would have to go into severe drought before you admitted there was a problem?

  18. 168
  19. 169
    Killian says:

    #157 Karsten V. Johansen said Could anyone here with statistical expertice say something about the chaos-theory argument? Does that hold at all?

    You don’t need a statistics background. Chaos is about patterns as you discuss it. Patterns do not, however, come out of our butts. The patterns in question, long series of data, have causes. These causes are well-quantified. They are suggesting replacing a set of knowns with random chance, just because. That chaotic patterns exist does make them a cause of the system. They are patterns within the system.

    It’s nonsense. Or, rather misattribution.

  20. 170
    Killian says:

    I look at the ice day by day and see the area of “popcorn” everywhere but the quadrant bounded by the mid-Greenland north coast, the North Pole, east/west a distance equal to that of just past Svalbard, then down to Svalvard. Bremen images show the same, but you have eyeballs, so need only look at Worldview or some other source.

    Here is my statement on ASI for 2016:

    New records for area and volume. Period. The only scenario that doesn’t happen in is absolutely perfect conditions for ice growth over the fall and winter followed by absolutely perfect conditions for ice retention in the spring and summer.

    Unlike many, I do not trust the volume models except as self-reference to watch trend. They are high, imo, signifcantly high. The are not catching something, and I think it may be that with the “popcorn” nature of so much of he ice, the lower height of the ice between the kernels is just being missed.

    The conditioning of the ice from below is key to the changes we are seeing. Too much is made of the air temps and sun exposure relative to bottom melt, imo. I never felt the amplitude of supposed rises in volume in ’13 and ’14 were justified. A lot of ice added, but not a lot of thickness.

    El Nino will ensure new lows. We may see a near-complete melt in 2016 or 17. I’ll be surprised if not. If I’m not mistaken, in terms of volume, we already hit the definition used for extent, -80% from historical levels at summer low, each year.

  21. 171

    All: I just updated my annual temperature tables through 2014. CRUTEM4 plus all four US series (GISS, NCDC, RSS, UAH), with updated baselines.

  22. 172

    I also updated the CO2 table. Series data now covers 1832-2014, with 1832-1958 from the Law Dome ice cores and 1959-2014 from Mauna Loa:

  23. 173
    Killian says:

    Strike the previous in terms of the area of the ASI that is relatively still pack ice. Popcorn now extends not from the mid-line of Greenland, but from a line drawn from the NP south to the eastern tip of Greenland. There is some pack slightly west of that line.

  24. 174
    Matthew R Marler says:

    99 Kevin McKinney: 1) So how does this square with paleoclimate-derived estimates of sensitivity? They must be pretty much wrong across the board, if this point were to be true.
    2) You can’t demonstrate that an ‘assumption’ is unsound by making a contrary assumption.
    3) Again, this appears to be assumption: where is the evidence that climate is “essentially thermostatic?” Moreover, system-gain equations are used by electrical engineers to design highly stable circuits, used by virtually all of us in the developed world every day. Typical circuit parameters probably vary far less than climate over time. So where’s the supposed contradiction?
    4) “Almost two whole decades!” Wow! Evidently, they are still hung up on the supposed ‘pause.’
    5) So what? It’s a scenario, not a prophecy. And if you look at the trajectories of the various scenarios, they are very little different for present day values in any case, so trying to differentiate them on the basis of present data is unlikely to succeed. See this graphic, which makes it pretty obvious:

    1. all of the estimates of sensitivity have problems, so it should not be too surprising if almost all of them turn out to be really inaccurate.

    2. What the authors did was show that a particular assumption was unreliable because a different assumption had more empirical support.

    3. That deserve more than the short retort you supplied. Their comment is that the degree of stability is incompatible with a large positive feedback if the Bode model is accurate (and the Bode model is indeed taken as accurate by some sources, whom they cite.

    4. Not great support, I agree, but support.

    5. Scenario versus prophecy is not an important distinction. Either the models fit out of sample data really well (i.e. future temperatures) or they are unreliable for public policy purposes. Like all models, the Monckton et al model has to pass tests against data not used in its formulation. That their model beats some GCMs in back-casting counts for a little, but the real tests come from future data for all models.

  25. 175
    Lynn says:

    Here BPL & critics, something that agrees with BPL’s assessment re CC and food shortages: Expert taskforce reports on extreme weather and food supplies at

    One article about it at states: “Food Shortage To Triple By 2040 Due To Extreme Weather…the population would increase by 1.7 billion by 2050 and would need more than 60 percent additional food production to meet the demand and prevent civil disorder…Technological advancements are keeping food production in check, but climate change continues to affect production due to floods and droughts…”

  26. 176
    sidd says:

    1) Re: drought projections
    a) i think an important measure is the amount of arable land and pasture in drought or in flood. Moisture excess is a bad as shortfall, and planting and harvest dates depend critically on soil condition. In this context, the Amazon rainforest is terrible for farming, the soils are very poor and must enhanced to support agriculture. The Arctic is similar, having been scraped free of soil by glaciers, or expanses of melting permafrost leaving waterlogged peat behind.

    b) The majority of grain goes into animal feed. Reduction of meat in diet will reduce grain demand a great deal.

    2)On another topic, Jacobshawn might have retreated over a pinning sill, with one of the largest calvings known to date. Reat all about it at which links to neven’s forum and more detail.


  27. 177

    Matthew, I strongly disagree.

    1) No, you (or Monckton et al) doesn’t get to just ignore the paleo estimates because they allegedly ‘have problems.’ They have reasonable consilience with dynamic modeling approaches. Just ignoring that fact is not good enough.

    2) No, they didn’t show anything of the sort, based on my quick look at their work at least, because the only data they considered was satellite data. In other words, their paper was one big cherry pick.

    3) I think the accuracy or otherwise of the Bode model is pretty irrelevant. They are still using an *assumed* ‘stability’ in order to prove that large feedbacks are implausible, since they restrict their input to a tiny, tiny fraction of the available data.

    4) Let’s just agree, then, that “it’s not great support.” I’ll only add that it appears to be all the support they have, since everything goes back to UAH and (especially) RSS.

    5) Yes, scenario vs. prophecy is an important distinction, because on principle you can’t use simple extrapolation to assess the likelihood of socio-political choices. Consider, for example the idea that, as this Bloomberg article says, “Southeast Asia is adding 205 gigawatts of coal overall by 2020, one of the most intense periods of coal-plant construction ever.” Whether or not that happens will affect global emissions considerably, yet Monckton et al offer no way to even consider such things in their model. Thus, it is completely irrelevant to rational predictions of CO2 concentrations, and their claim fails completely. It’s not even sensible.

  28. 178
  29. 179

    EG 168 — Thanks!

  30. 180
    MA Rodger says:

    Here’s a bit of cheeky analysis. Good old Woy Spencer is developing his UAH TLT v6.0 having so far reached a beta3 version and has pretty-much dumped the previous v5.6 from his splendid interblog. Now, while Woy’s UAH satellite temperature series is widely used by numpties as a straight alternative to the surface emperature record, it is in reality data measuring temperature at some considerable altitude. A quick measure of Woy’s gwaphic on the subject here gives the old TLT v5 an average altitude of 3,500m and his shiny new v6.0beta3 an average of 4,500m.
    (A similar measuring for RSS TLT gives 4,200m.)
    But here’s a thing. The altitude weightings in that graphic show that by subtracting 50% of the v6.0 from the v5 (to yield what we could call‘ v(5-6/2).0alpha’) we obtain a far tighter average altitude of 2,500m, and a measure all would agree is much closer to the surface that the sky-high v6.0.

    Of course, Woy is quite obsessed with the trends in this temperature data. His comparison of his UAH data with radiosonde data (the ‘Raob’ in the gwaphic linked above) fails to note that UAH v5.6 had a trend of +0.14ºC/decade, significantly higher than the radiosonde trends he provides. And Woy concludes (here) that these radiosonde data trends provide “a good match to our new satellite-based LT trend, +0.114 C/decade”, and then dismisses the usefulness of the higher trend of UAH v5.6 because it is presumably not shiny enough and inaccurate and besides the new result is “within our previously stated estimated error bars”. What Woy doesn’t address (assuming his use of radiosonde data is not otherwise crock) is the potentially very large errors resulting from geographical sampling, as examined by Mears et al and the RSS satellite folk. Their validation browse tool shows that the RSS & UAHv5 data trends compare quite well with the radiosonde data. If anything RSS & UAHv5 underestimate the trends when compared with all radiosonde data series* of ‘global’ (75N-75S) coverage. Such a finding rather makes the reduced trend of Woy’s v6.0 look exceedingly adventurous. (*The IUK data yields a lower trend in this ‘tool’ but it is due to all radiosonde data sitting below satellite data in the decade 1995-2005 which is where the IUK data ends.)

    So here is my cheeky bit of analysis. If Woy is happy with UAH v6.0 and as described, the v5.6 is not so wildly off according to the RSS analysis, do consider UAH v(5-6/2).0 which provides (apparently) a data set for an altitude of 2,500m. It yields a global trend of 0.17ºC/decade, which is actually a tad higher than the global HadCRUT4 trend for the same period.

  31. 181
    Dan H. says:

    New record lows are possible for next year. However, I am less confident. While Arctic sea ice area and extent are trending lower than the last two years, they are still significantly higher than 2012, and higher than 2007 or 2011, and on par with 2008. I would not put as much faith in the ENSO contributions. The 2007 El Nino did result in a massive deline in sea ice, but the following 2010 El Nino resulted in a much smaller decrease. The 2012 sea ice minimum occurred during a La Nina. BTW, the definition used for extent cannot be utilized for volume, as the third dimension automatically adds another 50% decline. Simple mathematics.

  32. 182
    Radge Havers says:

    The papal encyclical article seems to be closed, so posting here:

  33. 183
    jgnfld says:

    @157/166/169 re. use of OLS in the case of the Norwegian paper. These authors make a large case about the presence of autocorrelation in the temp record making parametric methods invalid. Wrong, but let’s accept it for the moment.

    Not my normal area, but I did have cause to look at this problem nonparametrically once many years ago. Found that hydrologists have been using the Mann Kendall test to test for a monotonic increase/decrease for a long time. While the basic test does depend on the absence of autocorrelation as well, they have worked out bootstrapping methods to control for that. Running a quick analysis on the annual data 1880-2015 (using ytd for 2015) gives a hugely significant tau:

    Score = 6419 , Var(Score) = 282404.3
    denominator = 9131.371
    tau = 0.703, 2-sided pvalue = boot.out <- tsboot(AnnualSeries, MKtau, R=10000, l=lValue[1], sim="fixed")
    " quantile(boot.out$t, c(.00000001,.99999999))
    0.000001% 100%
    -0.6318466 0.6913289

    Google "Mann-Kendall trend test in R.doc – ResearchGate" for a Word file that gives the general flow of the analysis using R. Function is in the {np} package.

  34. 184
    I want one says:

    Africa Doesn’t Have Nearly Enough Weather Stations. 3-D Printers Could Fix That.
    They say around $200 for an automated station – so I bet you could sponsor a station, the ideal gift for your first-world friend or spouse who wants to help.

    I hope they’ll include a camera of some sort that could upload a photo each day, so I could drop by and visit mine.

  35. 185
    I want one says:

    I also want something like this, to reboot the climate change sections of a certain Smithsonian Natural History Museum exhibit:
    The [Smithsonian] Institution raised more than $700,000 thanks to 9,000 donors in its campaign to “Reboot the Suit” (that Neil Armstrong wore on the Apollo 11 mission)
    “Most major museum exhibitions are funded by private sources”, it says.

  36. 186
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Of course I do after many years at university. Though any scientific statement requires that it has to be possible to prove it wrong, it doesn’t mean that you must write “could”, “may”. You either insult the reader by reminding him of science basics or you appear to be vague. If you’re not confident, don’t bother to publish, and if you’re confident, show it and make your case. I think authors will improve their papers if they for every “could”, “may” ask themselves if the word is necessary. I see no reason for climate science to use these words much more frequently than the language average.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 16 Aug 2015

    NO, you do not. I actually bothered to look you up and apparently you take pictures of meteors and have IT qualifications which from what I can tell means you’re some sort of computer tech who happens to snap photos of meteorites in your spare time. Your knowledge of Climate Science appears to be limited and you’re attempting to make judgements on scientifically researched and published papers without having the least idea of what you’re talking about. It’s obvious to me and as I said earlier, I’m not even a scientist but I’m also not an idiot. Rather than coming off as judgmental you need to back off a little and start asking questions and listening to those who actually know what they’re talking about. The same goes for Richard Caldwell, whoever he is. It doesn’t take a genius to peg people like yourself. Science in general and Climate Science is based on probabilities and statistics. It IS MATH. And there is always a margin of error involved. That’s why BPL mentioned “error bars”, meaning that it’s not for certain how things will play out but in all probability we’re in deep sh*t.

    If you’re here to learn that’s fantastic but if you think you’re gonna outsmart experts who do this for a living you’re a fool. I don’t know why your opinions haven’t already been relegated to the bore hole. I initially showed up with a bit of an attitude a few years ago and was quickly put in my place, so I’m speaking from experience. Knock off the crap and listen. You might learn something.

  37. 187
    Killian says:

    Correction re 169: That chaotic patterns exist does *not* make them a cause of the system.

  38. 188

    A pleasing milestone, in a tangential sort of way: climate change denial becomes a byword for “pig-headed foolishness”:

    What we have here is a contemporary situation in which most serious researchers agree on certain facts and trends, based on observable data over time, yet some persist in perpetuating an unsubstantiated myth from the last century. Blindly railing against these fictional grammatical horrors is beginning to look a lot like language change denial.

  39. 189


    Let’s recap. You, a self-declared non-scientist, assert that I don’t know scientific principals based on my view that there is no good reason for science to use words like “could” excessively. I’ll happily let climate scientists here educate me about the point in history when excessive use of “could” became a requirement, or alternatively an essential part of the scientific jargon. At university I’ve gone through, though I admit it’s a while ago, the history of philosophy and science in fair detail, but I cannot recall such a thing. Newton didn’t write (because he could be wrong) that for every action there _could_ be an equal and opposite reaction (or, since he wrote in Latin, he didn’t write “potesse”, but “esse” – that there _is_). I think that would dilute his conclusions.

    I’ll rather assume that you were assigning a straw man’s opinions to me thinking that my criticism of excessive “could’s” means that I think science deals with truths rather than only things that could be untrue. I think that an excessive use of “could” is not a good way to communicate science. In one way it is unscientific for the very reason we’re touching. If I had said a few years ago that the Arctic sea ice could all be gone this summer, and someone points out how wrong I was, I can make a defence saying that I wasn’t wrong, since I by saying “could” was describing a scientifically plausible scenario which was still possible when I made my statement, in which case I would make my statement unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific. It might be a very tempting defence since I knew all the time that my model was incomplete and not necessarily all wrong.

    This brings us back to BPL’s claims on imminent doom. I wanted to be sure that there would be a certain time when we could indisputably say either “you were wrong” or “I was wrong”. So BPL@167, I would say that whether a billion people have just died or not by 2040 is a prediction that is easy to confirm or disprove, and it would go both ways, one of us will be wrong and the other right. Please remind me of this discussion in January 2040 if I forget to remind you.

  40. 190
    Richard Caldwell says:

    154 Steve,

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Plus, IIRC, the continental shapes resulted in shallow seas ideal for fossil fuel creation. My point was that the fossil fuels were evidence that the warmer climate wasn’t drought-stricken. Of course this time will be different in the use of plant material, but the subject is not usage, but potential growth. That a warmer planet could lay down fossil fuels is NOT evidence that fossil fuels will be laid down again, but that we will probably be able to eat said plants instead of their becoming fossil fuels.

    167 BPL,

    Please use your brain. You expended precisely 3 neuron-seconds worth of electricity in your reply. Since you aren’t a moron, I must conclude that you’re just playing the fool.

    First, when somebody says “farming in places including some which have little topsoil”, it is dorky to translate that to “rich farmland worked by scantily-clad supermodels” Please try to give justice to alternative voices. For example, Canada is rich in both peat and gravel. It turns out that the combination of the two is a really good growing medium when supplemented continuously with nutrients. Islands have been known to create such systems using dredged sand. If you can’t see possible paths to agricultural success in a world where food is scarce, then you should stay VERY far from any free-market investments. That 1% savings account is surely your best bet.

    Your stupid insult that I might think the Arctic Ocean was solid ground – well, why did you waste the bandwidth? It wasn’t funny, wasn’t true, wasn’t enlightening, and wasn’t even nice.

    You lost your way scientifically by mentioning that jungles are a million or ten in the future. Since when does the time frame have anything to do with a curve’s shape? I gave you a task – show that the near-future shape of the (you seem to accept, I don’t) bell-shaped curve of drought is sigmoid. You shut off your brain and bailed. Why?

    Zip, zero, nada in your 167. You wasted everybody’s time. Go back to my post and answer or ask clarification. Post, you know, something worthy of this site.

    You ended 167 with a question about the extent of drought that would cause “somebody” to “admit” there was a problem. I’d say we’re there. Your jump to the inevitable collapse of civilization and perhaps 95% death rate of humans worldwide, well, that’s pure-t-chicken-little. Humans have brains.

    So I ask you to turn your neurons back on and actually answer a couple questions:

    1. in what year would you guess humanity will understand at a level that will drive politics that YOU ARE CLOSE TO RIGHT about the science?

    2. Given that year, do you expect people to deliberately destroy humanity? Personally, I’m not sure. Fundamentalists, be they Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, may derive great pleasure from apocalyptic scenarios. I’m way more concerned about our religious wars than our current energy mix. If we are spending all our treasure and blood fighting beliefs instead of physical threats, then physical threats could destroy us.

    3. Do you expect folks to look at the Arctic (NOT the damn ocean, DUH) and give up – too many mosquitos, too little topsoil, too whatever. Or do you expect that SUPER HIGH FOOD PRICES MIGHT POSSIBLY encourage folks to figure out how to grow there?

    4. Assuming you’re right and the knowledge that geo-engineering exists, why do you think we’ll eschew geo-engineering and welcome the death of 95% of humanity (which perhaps means 99.9% of others) instead? Man, you sound like a Fundamentalist.

    Given your ethics, I EXPECT FOUR AND NO LESS bullet points answering all four of my questions. This time, try to remember that the dude across the table ain’t an idiot. Such assumptions only lead to embarrassment.

  41. 191
  42. 192
    Richard Caldwell says:

    184 Chuck “The same goes for Richard Caldwell, whoever he is”

    I’m just a guy who is open to learn. Perhaps you might lower your blood pressure and let me know what it is you are upset about, eh? What have I said that upset you? Have you got anything to contribute? I’m all ears. Tell me what I’m missing. So far, you’ve said absolutely nothing of value, and absolutely nothing which hints that anyone else is not contributing. You really should up your game. You’re better than this.

  43. 193
    MA Rodger says:

    NOAA are reporting globally the hottest July on record with an anomaly at +0.81°C, the 12th warmest monthly anomaly on record. All months of 2015 so far sit in the top 20 and only one of the last 12 months is outside that top 20. Scorchio!!!

    Last 12 months.
    13= … 2014 8 …. +0.8°C
    15= … 2014 9 …. +0.79°C
    17 … 2014 10 … +0.79°C
    61 … 2014 11 … +0.69°C
    8 …. 2014 12 … +0.84°C
    11 … 2015 1 …. +0.82°C
    2= …. 2015 2 …. +0.89°C
    1 …. 2015 3 …. +0.9°C
    20 … 2015 4 …. +0.78°C
    6 …. 2015 5 …. +0.86°C
    4= …. 2015 6 …. +0.87°C
    12 … 2015 7 …. +0.81°C

  44. 194

    SK 186: This brings us back to BPL’s claims on imminent doom. I wanted to be sure that there would be a certain time when we could indisputably say either “you were wrong” or “I was wrong”. So BPL@167, I would say that whether a billion people have just died or not by 2040 is a prediction that is easy to confirm or disprove, and it would go both ways, one of us will be wrong and the other right. Please remind me of this discussion in January 2040 if I forget to remind you.

    BPL: You don’t get the whole probability thing, do you?

  45. 195

    #187, Doug–

    Well, we’ve know that this is possible for a while; Kilimanjaro Energy had a go at doing it commercially, but seem to have ‘gone dark’ since their X-prize shot didn’t land. They were trying to make CO2 for the enhanced oil recovery market, with the ultimate goal of drawing down atmospheric CO2, when a more realistic carbon price was in place.

    This is where their website used to be:

    Klaus Lackier was heavily involved, as discussed here:

    There was also a bench top demonstration model of free air CO2 capture at a conference a few years ago, IIRC.

    But the tough part is getting the costs down. We’ll see if this pilot project performs as planned, I guess–and where Carbon Engineering can go from there.

  46. 196
    Jerry Toman says:


    It doesn’t take a degree in Rocket Science to conclude that, to reduce CO2, it would be far more efficient, overall, to feed the electricity from the solar panels into the grid, and *back out* fuel (coal or NG) from a conventional ff electric plant instead of using it to power the fans and (big) regeneration fluid pump of this contraption. The latter would also require a large and expensive *cross-exchanger* to be energy efficient.

    Furthermore, you would save the direct embedded energy, and associated embedded carbon involved in the fabrication and delivery of said plant, as well as that associated with the labor to build, transport and install it. Also consider that the profit made by the contractor will probably be used for a vacation to Hawaii, if not Fiji, producing additional CO2 not being accounted for.

  47. 197
    Dan H. says:

    Interesting than noaa is higher than GISS. Compare:

    Last 12 months.
    13= … 2014 8 …. +0.8°C +0.81 = 11
    15= … 2014 9 …. +0.79°C +0.89 = 6
    17 … 2014 10 … +0.79°C +0.85 = 10
    61 … 2014 11 … +0.69°C +0.68 = 69
    8 …. 2014 12 … +0.84°C +0.78 = 23
    11 … 2015 1 …. +0.82°C +0.81 = 12
    2= …. 2015 2 …. +0.89°C +0.87 = 8
    1 …. 2015 3 …. +0.9°C +0.90 = 3
    20 … 2015 4 …. +0.78°C +0.73 = 48
    6 …. 2015 5 …. +0.86°C +0.77 = 27
    4= …. 2015 6 …. +0.87°C +0.79 = 17
    12 … 2015 7 …. +0.81°C +0.75 = 36

    Average + 0.82 = 14 +0.80 = 22

    The difference is even greater over the past 8 months. Any idea as to the reason?

  48. 198
  49. 199
    Dan S. says:

    re: 188. Any moment now, the deniers will start ignorantly howling that “You can’t consider this year/month in the trends because the El Nino made it hotter than it would be!”. I expect something like this to come out from some anti-science hack. Of course they will completely ignore that a strong El Nino in 1998 was largely responsible for additional global average warmth that year and yet it became the beginning data point for their “There has no been any warming since 1998!” mantra. ;-)

  50. 200
    Glen Reese says:

    I only recently began exploring these unforced variations, and was alarmed by BPL’s paper on the rapid rise in agricultural drought. Although the data suggest a nonlinear rate of increase, supported by the statistics, BPL comments that it “probably sigmoidal”. That statement seems more like hope than science; if there indeed a positive feedback between temperature and drought, then an ongoing exponential rise would be exactly what I would expect. Is there another, negative feedback that would turn on to stop the increase? What might this be?

    There seems to be great reluctance among climate scientists to play down the potential catastrophe that could be facing us. I understand that anyone who gets labeled as a wolf cryer soon becomes dismissed as unreliable, but the world seems to not be listening to these most reasonable, cautious, and scientific conclusions about the direction of our climate. Meanwhile, the actual rates of ice loss, drought frequency, and storm intensities keep exceeding the predictions of the models. We seem to be headed toward hell in a handbasket.

    As a scientist (physics) I do understand the culture of being deliberate, cautious, and not overstating the results of your analyses, but we are not trying to convince other scientists. We are already on the same page. Even a small probability of a disastrous future is in the offing, then maybe we need to be less reluctant to sound alarms and break things. Too much is at stake.