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Unforced Variations: Sept. 2015

Filed under: — group @ 2 September 2015

This month’s open thread.

244 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Sept. 2015”

  1. 1

    Just ran a quick OLS on the NASA GISTEMP global anomalies (annual) from 1880 to 2014. I get a slope of 0.009193 per year, p < 9.12 x 10^-40. Naturally, the deniers are already out in force saying it's scammed. One innumerate blog is saying "This is a temperature increase rate of 95.0C per century!" They ignore the close correlation with NCDC, RSS, UAH, Hadley, and JMA.

  2. 2
    Jim Baird says:

    Proposition: the climate science community is failing mankind by overlooking the events that brought on the hiatus. http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Science-and-politics-disre-by-Jim-Baird-Climate_Climate-Change_Climate-Change-Agreement_Climate-Crisis-150902-43.html

  3. 3
    Hank Roberts says:

    What can change the climate faster than people?
    Plankton, apparently; reproducing a new generation every few days or weeks.

    Study abstract:
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150901/ncomms9155/full/ncomms9155.html
    Nature Communications 6, Article number: 8155
    doi:10.1038/ncomms9155
    Published 01 September 2015

    Climate bloggers:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/09/01/climate-change-plus-irreversable-evolution-will-force-key-ocean-bacteria-into-overdrive/

    http://climatecrocks.com/2015/09/01/nobody-expected-that-it-could-do-something-so-bizarre/comment-page-1/#comment-75536

  4. 4
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Is this anything like, “Nobody saw it [crash] coming,” in which any number of people did? Much like you say “anyone” above when quite a few have seen high SLR this century for a while now. I’m sure you mean hardly anyone; just checking.

    Comment by Killian — 1 Sep 2015

    Killian, I know you’re a bright fellow and I was using “everybody” in the colloquial sense or, the vernacular of the common citizenry, excluding those of us here at RC of course. Having said that I would like your opinion on “abrupt SLR.” How “abrupt” do you think it might be?

    IPCC puts it at 1 meter by the end of the century. I personally think that’s a tad bit conservative. What say you? If salt water is able to penetrate the underbelly of Greenland, say within the next 5 to 10 years I’m thinking all bets are off. Then there’s the WAIS… along with several amplifying feedbacks that climate models may not have figured in. Am I in the ballpark?

  5. 5
    Ray Ladbury says:

    If things were really serious, scientists would be raising a strong alarm to help our species make needed changes. – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/08/unforced-variations-aug-2015/comment-page-6/#comment-635528

    Dude, I can’t figure out if this is ironic or if you really have been asleep for 40 years and still think Jerry Ford is President.

  6. 6
    Glen Reese says:

    #4″Dude, I can’t figure out if this is ironic or if you really have been asleep for 40 years and still think Jerry Ford is President.”

    Considering the history of passenger pigeons, I’m pretty sure it’s black humor.

  7. 7
    Glen Reese says:

    Here are some interesting leads for repairing and generating topsoil, which might go a long way in maintaining agricultural productivity, not to mention create large carbon sinks.
    http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/rapid-topsoil-formation/

    Now what to do about the oceans?

  8. 8
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Dude, I can’t figure out if this is ironic or if you really have been asleep for 40 years and still think Jerry Ford is President.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Sep 2015

    Ray, I strongly believe it to be “snark”. Satire. Black humor.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    SecularAnimist says:

    FYI …

    Significant anthropogenic-induced changes of climate classes since 1950
    Duo Chan & Qigang Wu
    Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 13487 (2015)
    doi:10.1038/srep13487

    Abstract:

    Anthropogenic forcings have contributed to global and regional warming in the last few decades and likely affected terrestrial precipitation. Here we examine changes in major Köppen climate classes from gridded observed data and their uncertainties due to internal climate variability using control simulations from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5). About 5.7% of the global total land area has shifted toward warmer and drier climate types from 1950–2010, and significant changes include expansion of arid and high-latitude continental climate zones, shrinkage in polar and midlatitude continental climates, poleward shifts in temperate, continental and polar climates, and increasing average elevation of tropical and polar climates. Using CMIP5 multi-model averaged historical simulations forced by observed anthropogenic and natural, or natural only, forcing components, we find that these changes of climate types since 1950 cannot be explained as natural variations but are driven by anthropogenic factors.

    Commentary by Joe Romm:

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/09/03/3697620/expanding-global-dry-semi-arid-zones/

  11. 11
    Mike says:

    I think scientists are conservative by nature and training. I think the scientific community has been remiss in allowing policy makers to cherry pick the data and projections and create public policy targets that are political expedient. For those reasons and more, I will occasionally entertain myself and allow the scientific community to continue the discussion about the disconnect between the catastrophic consequences the planet is dishing up in response to carbon loading and ocean acidification. At some point (usually retirement) scientists will speak out strongly about our predicament. At the point that the scientific community speaks strongly and loudly about our collective situation, I expect that we will have passed some thresholds that lead to a place where passenger pigeons still crowd the sky.

    Until then, the media will cover the building human displacement crisis as a function of islamic fundamentalism and a political problem rather than early stages of what will become a wave of displacement secondary to rising sea levels, droughts, etc. and will engage in faux balance by presenting “both” sides on climate change.

    Short version: Jerry Ford could have done as well as Obama has done on climate change. And we (collectively) have let the policy makers get away with this poor performance. The scientific community has special responsibilities in this situation and has failed to meet those responsibilities imho.

  12. 12
    Mike says:

    Rains have come to Washington State so our fires may be laying down a bit. It sounds like Kiev and the Ukraine are having a little heat and fire problems now. Should we be alarmed?

    http://robertscribbler.com/

  13. 13
    wili says:

    This looks like it could be kind of important for recalibrating climate sensitivity:

    Xin Qu, Alex Hall, Stephen A. Klein and Anthony M. DeAngelis (September 3, 2015),

    “Positive tropical marine low-cloud cover feedback inferred from cloud-controlling factors”

    Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065627

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065627/abstract

    Abstract: “Differences in simulations of tropical marine low-cloud cover (LCC) feedback are sources of significant spread in temperature responses of climate models to anthropogenic forcing. Here we show that in models the feedback is mainly driven by three large-scale changes—a strengthening tropical inversion, increasing surface latent heat flux, and an increasing vertical moisture gradient. Variations in the LCC response to these changes alone account for most of the spread in model-projected 21st-century LCC changes. A methodology is devised to constrain the LCC response observationally using sea-surface temperature (SST) as a surrogate for the latent heat flux and moisture gradient. In models where the current climate’s LCC sensitivities to inversion strength and SST variations are consistent with observed, LCC decreases systematically, which would increase absorption of solar radiation.

    These results support a positive LCC feedback.

    Correcting biases in the sensitivities will be an important step towards more credible simulation of cloud feedbacks.”

    Thoughts?

  14. 14
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mike:

    I think the scientific community has been remiss in allowing policy makers to cherry pick the data and projections and create public policy targets that are political expedient.

    If policy makers did only what the scientific community allowed, AGW would never have become an existential threat.

    At the point that the scientific community speaks strongly and loudly about our collective situation, I expect that we will have passed some thresholds that lead to a place where passenger pigeons still crowd the sky.

    IOW, at the point when scientists are policy makers, and policy makers are scientists. I’m glad I won’t leave descendants.

  15. 15
    Brenda says:

    Mark Steyn is discussing his book about Michael Mann and citing all kinds of stuff on the Glenn Beck show right now, as I listen. Does Mann have a formal reply? I do not believe in the climate deniers buy Steyn’s “arguments” will get wide play and as they are presented will be very convincing to uninformed listeners.

    I’d like to know where I can get point by point refutations of Steyn’s claims. (Yes I know about Skeptical Science) I regularly debate climate deniers on blogs and forums. I’m not an expert but I am an effective debater. Any help is appreciated. Thanks so very much.

  16. 16
    Mike says:

    I did a pretty decent scan of coverage of the “migrants” in Europe. Looked at BBC and Guardian coverage, also NYT. There is a lot of discussion of the unrest in the middle east as trigger for the outflow of people from Syria, but no significant coverage/analysis/mention as to whether this flow of people is part of a climate refugee wave that will likely build over the next couple of decades.

    I think climate scientists should speak up and help our species correctly identify these people as climate refugees. I think there is plenty of basis in the climate modeling to suggest that large numbers of people will become climate refugees due to global warming.

    I understand that this type of action is not science, but it may be a global civic duty.

    wili at 13: Just more of the same, the feedback loops keep coming back in positive range. Not a good thing for lots of species. There must be “ice age” triggers/feedbacks that kick in at some point or the planet would not have rebounded from earlier hot periods, but the duration of time between rise in temperature and return to cooler state does not happen in a time period that is meaningful to our political/economic/biological predicament.

  17. 17
    Mal Adapted says:

    Jim Baird:

    Proposition: the climate science community is failing mankind by overlooking the events that brought on the hiatus. http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Science-and-politics-disre-by-Jim-Baird-Climate_Climate-Change_Climate-Change-Agreement_Climate-Crisis-150902-43.html

    From your link:

    It was scientists who discovered, measured and explained these events but the practical implications seems to have escaped them; with the result policy makers are deprived of the information that would enable them to address climate change with the least cost and to the greatest benefit.

    Rebuttal: it is not the climate science community that is failing mankind, but the policy makers who have chosen to ignore the clear and unambiguous advice the climate science community has been offering for years. In early 2014 the US National Academy of Sciences, established by Congress in 1863 to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science”, published a 34-page booklet titled Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, free to download at the link. It addressed 20 common questions laypeople often have about AGW, including this one:

    Q: Does the recent slowdown of warming mean that climate change is no longer happening?
    A: No. Since the very warm year 1998 that followed the strong 1997-98 El Niño, the increase in average surface temperature has slowed relative to the previous decade of rapid temperature increases. Despite the slower rate of warming the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s. A short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth’s surface does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases.

    The climate science community has provided all the information needed by policy makers to address climate change with the least cost and to the greatest benefit. It has simply been swamped by the flood of deliberate disinformation issuing from both professional and volunteer AGW-deniers, at the behest of those who’ve accumulated vast private fortunes by socializing the enormous cost of climate change. Indeed, it is playing into their hands to use ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ for what was not a cessation, but at most a slightly-reduced rate, of warming.

    It is policy makers who have cravenly allowed themselves to be unduly influenced by the power of fossil-fuel wealth. In turn, our fellow citizens have allowed their elected representatives to act for the benefit of the few, against the interests of the rest of us. Every literate person has access to the same information RC readers do, and has the choice to accept or deny it. Let us assign the blame to whom it belongs: we have the government we deserve.

  18. 18
    mike says:

    to mal adapted: no offense intended, but you seem too willing to defend the scientific community on climate change and blame the policy makers.

    at 17 you say “The climate science community has provided all the information needed by policy makers to address climate change with the least cost and to the greatest benefit.” Well, maybe so, but you are ignoring the fact that in each of the IPCC updates, the projections made prior have proven to be too conservative. The outcomes have been arriving in the range of the worst case scenarios on a pretty consistent basis. With that track record, a person interested in defending policy makers could argue that the scientific community has provided rosy projections and should share the responsibility for policy inaction.

    In addition to the conservative consensus projections, the scientific community has often been dismissive of the possibility and impact on non-linear, abrupt climate change. Scientists like Wadhams, McPherson, Shakhova who make projections based on their calculation regarding tipping points and non-linear change are treated pretty poorly by the scientific community. These folks actually represent worst case scenarios that policy makers ought to be considering, but since the mainstream scientific community is hostile and dismissive towards these scientists, policy makers may be encouraged to ignore the worst-case scenarios that should be considered in setting policy.

    This leads to an ethics of science discussion that may be overdue with regard to climate change. There are all of the usual, formal and well-founded rules about how to conduct science, but we also need to be encouraging a robust and respectful discussion about the responsibility of the scientific community when our species’ way of life is implicated in a great extinction event. Maybe the mainstream scientific community should treat the scientists with outlier projections with less disdain and understand that in this situation, these outlier projections are critical to the kind of change that policy makers need to be considering.

    Am I clear about this?

  19. 19
    Jim Baird says:

    Mal Adapted 17

    “A short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth’s surface does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases.”

    No, but it does provide a clue as to how that slowdown can be prolonged or even perpetuated to prevent trillions in financial losses and untold human suffering.

    In the late 70s a team from The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University was proposing ocean thermal energy conversion but was concerned about the potential to start a new ice age. Their analysis was 5 terawatts of power generated with this process would reduce ocean surface temperatures (and therefore the temperature of the atmosphere) by 1C each decade.

    About 5 percent of this reduction would be due to a direct conversion of the heat to work and the balance would be moved to deeper water.

    The conventional approach to OTEC is to bring massive amounts of cold water near the surface to condense the working fluid vapor and then dump this warmed water into the thermocline.

    My preference, and the one that I believe provides the best environmental outcome, is to move that surface heat instead through the phase changes of the working fluid to a depth of 1000 meters.

    A recent Citibank report “Energy Darwinism” says slowing global warming (which I believe implies atmospheric warming as this solution would provide) would save tens of trillions of dollars. The difference in climate impacts between a 1.5 degree C warming scenario and a 4.5 degrees C scenarios is as high as $50 trillion in the study.

    Since it is estimated the oceans can produce 14 terawatts of power, it should be possible to reduce atmospheric warming to zero or even reverse it, if necessary.

    My frustration with climate science is the fixation on greenhouse gases in the face of other evidence that there are other influences at work, mainly the uptake of heat in the ocean, which James Lovelock has acknowledged scientists for the most part have overlooked.

    What’s more when OTEC is combined with the electrolysis process developed by a Lawrence Livermore team to produce hydrogen as an energy/water carrier, billions of tons of CO2 ca be sequestered.

    As Greg Rau, who lead that team, puts it; this combination provides a lot of environmental wins.

    In many ways the fixation on emissions plays into the fossil fuel industry’s argument that their product provides a net economic benefit and essentially is irreplaceable with anything that is available.

    The argument that nuclear is that replacement doesn’t wash with the public and may in fact be wrong if Hansen is right about fresh water providing a blanket that prevents the radiation of ocean heat to space.

    It was difficult to make the environmental case for OTEC before but I believe the hiatus has made it.

    To this point however I am a constituency of one, with absolutely no power to influence craven policy makers.

    RE readers are a significantly greater and more credible group and therefore it seems to me it is worthwhile for me to try to make my case here.

    I meant no disrespect in the article but do hope it is food for thought and worthy of consideration.

  20. 20
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Mal: Indeed, it is playing into their hands to use ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ for what was not a cessation, but at most a slightly-reduced rate, of warming.

    RC: Not even that. It was a relocation, from atmosphere to ocean. Absolutely no reduction in the rate of warming of the Earth system at all.

  21. 21
    Omega Centauri says:

    Mike @14:
    A flood of desperate people from Syrian farms to the cities of roughly 1.5 million people caused by an unprecedented drought, along with the Arab Spring was the social stress that Assad was responding to by repression and violence. So in some admittedly partial sense the implosion of the Syrian state was a consequence of climate change.

  22. 22
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Brenda @ 15

    Please rewrite the last sentence in your first paragraph. It does not make sense.

  23. 23
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    New TV advert:
    Green groups criticise ‘ludicrous’ Minerals Council of Australia ad which claims coal creates ‘light and jobs’ and ‘can now reduce its emissions by up to 40%’
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/06/mining-industrys-new-coal-is-amazing-tv-ad-slammed-as-desperate

    Hooray for marketing gurus … we’ve been saved from total disaster and doom!

  24. 24
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @18.
    I would suggest that if the likes of Wadhams, McPherson, Shakhova are treated pretty poorly by the scientific community, it is because the science they have so-far presented does not support their ‘projections’ enough for them to be considered as proper “worst-case scenarios”.

    I am also doubtful of your claim that the ‘conservatism’ of the IPCC has any bearing on the views of those politicians/policy-makers who are dragging their feet. I’ve had quite a lot of experience with the lack of enthusiasm of politicians and public officials to addressing AGW. The main problem in my view is the timescales of the cause/effect (or policy/result) and also the size of the task. This is enough to make it very difficult keeping AGW from being booted into the political long grass.
    It is only from within that situation that the denialists do their best to prevent action being taken. And I don’t see the denial being shifted by stronger messages. I’ve seen quite a lot of opposition recently. In the next week a decision will be taken about a 1GW wind farm local to me. Over the last 3 years, the opposition to it have expended a lot more energy than supporters. While NIMBYism has played its part, the real driver of the opposition, the thing the key anti-players all have in common is a denial of AGW. Okay occasionally excuses have been made that a 1GW wind farm is not required to achieve UK emissions targets, but I never hear this coming from anybody signed up to AGW. It has always been from people (like my MP) who are trapped in a deep denial that is ever reinforced by their fellow deniers.

    In many ways it is the climate that is letting the side down. The frequency of heat waves, floods and storms are not enough to impinge on the public consciousness in the here-&-now. Even where I live in a coastal region lined by beach huts, the seas rises only in paltry millimetres (although have I detected a bit of denialism in the latest coastal defence plans? Something that may shock some from complacency?) It seems the climate is very reluctant to show itself as a real problem to society, until it really is a real problem.

  25. 25
    Gordon says:

    MA@23

    Yeah, tell that damn climate to get its shit together!

  26. 26
    Jim Baird says:

    MA Rodger 23

    “the climate is very reluctant to show itself as a real problem”

    The 30 whales that have died recently off the coast of Alaska and the 250,000 odd salmon dead or dying in the Columbia are mighty big and plentiful canaries in the environmental coal mine.

    The bears shown feeding on the fin whale pictured here http://www.wired.com/2015/08/dozens-dead-whales-washing-ashore-alaska/ are pretty incredible sight.

    NIMBY is a huge problem for any energy system. Since ocean thermal energy conversion platforms are in no one’s backyard it is another benefit.

  27. 27
    Jim Baird says:

    Mike 18

    “Maybe the mainstream scientific community should treat the scientists with outlier projections with less disdain and understand that in this situation, these outlier projections are critical to the kind of change that policy makers need to be considering.”

    I think it is even more troubling when evidence of what has has actually slowed warming and reversed sea level rise is treated with disdain. This makes the case, possibly, for the proposition presented at 17.

    To my mind, the science of how these things came about and can be amplified to environmental benefit should be rammed down policy makers’ throats. Any who claim these things are evidence there is no problem should be made to eat their words.

  28. 28
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mike:

    no offense intended, but you seem too willing to defend the scientific community on climate change and blame the policy makers.

    None taken. The crux of our disagreement is your phrase “scientific community”.

    I’m mostly talking about the United States, because although the scientific enterprise is international, US policy has a disproportionate impact on the globe.

    If all climate scientists spoke with one voice, you’d have a point. But as you’re surely aware, that’s not how science works. There is a consensus case for AGW that’s supported by all but a few working climate scientists, but there’s never been (nor can be) unanimity, and while the consensus is lopsided on the basics, there’s still active debate on the details of rate and mechanism. So who does speak for “the” scientific community?

    The IPCC seeks unanimous agreement on any document it releases for public consumption. Since it must be responsive to the political concerns of its member governments, and since it’s explicitly responsible for policy recommendations, of course its recommendations are conservative! Yet what it reports, it reports with high confidence. The Summary for Policy Makers of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report has this to say

    Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, wide-spread and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence).

    Scientific professional societies are established for the benefit of their members, and formal statements from them should be expected to say no more than what their members can agree on. Nevertheless, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which calls itself the “World’s largest general scientific society”, has repeatedly issued calls for prompt action to mitigate climate change, without quibble about uncertainty in the details. From the second of those links, a formal letter to the US Senate from officers of the AAAS and 17 other American scientific professional societies:

    If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions
    of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable.

    There is one scientific body that was specifically established to advise the US government on policy: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. I’ve already cited their 2014 booklet for policy makers and other educated lay people. It was published jointly by the NAS and the British Royal Society, whose own history is contiguous with the scientific enterprise itself. If anyone represents the scientific community, they do. Their succinct and unambiguous message amplifies the others. It begins with this (emphasis in original):

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate.

    No, Mike, if policy makers won’t take action on climate change, it’s not because the scientific community hasn’t delivered a clear message. It’s because professional disinformers, at the behest of people whose private wealth is threatened if the costs of climate change are internalized to their revenue streams, have poisoned the well from which policy makers drink. Actually, it’s worse than that. Take (please!) senior US Senator from Oklahoma James Inhofe, who is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. In 2012, he published a book titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. When the professional disinformers are the policy makers, what would you have scientists do?

  29. 29
    Jim Baird says:

    Nature to James Lovelock Is climate change going to be less extreme than you previously thought?

    Lovelock’s Response: “The Revenge of Gaia was over the top, but we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses [from the ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, studied since the 1980s]. You could draw a straight line relating temperature and CO2, and it was such a temptation for everyone to say, “Well, with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.
    We shouldn’t have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly.

    But being an independent scientist, it is much easier to say you made a mistake than if you are a government department or an employee or anything like that.”

    Failing to admit such a mistake as a scientist operating essentially as an advocate for the fate of mankind, is unforgivable.

  30. 30
    Omega Centauri says:

    Something small but positive here. For the last couple of years among my work colleges, I’ve been the lone one with either solar or an electric vehicle. Now suddenly, I have one who bought an EV (Volt) and is considering solar, and two who have put up solar and are considering EVs. So at least some members of
    the public are getting it and starting to do their part. Now, if only we can get this change to spread?

  31. 31
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    MAR 23; “And I don’t see the denial being shifted by stronger messages.”

    Then what will shift it MAR?

    And what if the issue isn’t actually “denial” per se but something else entirely?

    Anyone who believes that the tobacco companies execs honestly believed that nicotine wasn’t addictive (when of course they knew that in spades already), will not have an answer to my last question, or likely will dismiss it out of hand.

    Here’s a ‘Fact’: Facts do not matter to people and Facts will never change their beliefs or behavior.

  32. 32
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    Mike 16; “but no significant coverage/analysis/mention as to whether this flow of people is part of a climate refugee wave”

    The severity of the drought in rural syria, where predominantly sunni people were, and the inability of the syrian govt to do much about it (it isn’t a 1st world nation or rich) was addressed by many ME observers and academics and a few with CC interests at the time, but soon overlooked as things got more nasty and got out of hand.

    However it is a very long bow to then jump 5 years forwarded and ignore everything else and then try to pin down the current migrations as being a result of ‘climate change’…. It’s not a sustainable way to reason as it’s cherry-picking a lettuce leaf off a smorgasbord and calling the leaf a feast in itself. Occam’s razor would point towards proxy wars, geopolitics and proposed oil/gas pipelines from Iran, from Qatar and those already from Russia via Ukraine.

    One could suggest that what’s going on now with mass movements of people could be what climate caused disruption will look like in the future, but what’s the point of even saying that? It won’t lead a single person to change their existing position, at least not anyone with the power to actually drive positive long term change.

    I’m suggesting it’s an unnecessary distraction from the main game still being ignored and fought against quite successfully to date. At least that’s how I see it, and sure to be told I’m wrong anyway.

    (and I expect Paris COP will be a failure or only a pig with lipstick that will never be implemented as agreed….. this is my most positive views, because it might even be worse. AGW/CC and climate science does not operate in a vacuum.)

  33. 33
    Trond Arild Ydersbond says:

    There has been some discussion i Norway lately about a paper by Dagsvik, Fortuna and Hov Moen. They apply fractional gaussian noise process (FGN) modeling to temperature time series, both actual post 1700-data and the reconstructions of Moberg et al (2005). They find FGN modeling to fit very well to the data, which leads them to conclude that the observed temperature development could be due to natural variations. It seems to be a strange stituation, as they wanted to have it published as a Discussion Paper from Statistics Norway (where Dagsvik works), but they didn’t want to expose it to peer review by climate scientists (they all define themselves as statisticians) so they were not allowed to.

    I think it would be helpful to have it reviewed by someone with expert knowledge on temperature time series.

    From the Introduction:
    “In the absence of a physical model that is capable of explaining the weather dynamics precisely, an interesting question is whether the temperature fluctuations are consistent with outcomes of an underlying stationary stochastic mechanism (process), and what the features of such a stochastic process are.”

    This looks to me like “if you can’t describe it exactly by physics, you might as well disregard physics”. – Which is what the authors subsequently do, even if may not be their intention.

    The FGN modeling needs rather huge anomalies to detect a trend:
    “It turns out that the trend has to be equivalent to at least an increase of about 1.8 degrees (Celsius) in 50 years before departure from stationarity can be discovered, when H= 0.7.”

    The manuscript can be found here:
    http://www.sportsys.nu/SKRIVELSER/TP0618.PDF

  34. 34
    simon abingdon says:

    #23 MA Rodger

    “In many ways it is the climate that is letting the side down”

    Says it all really.

  35. 35
    Hank Roberts says:

    The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly.

    Lovelock, quoted above.

    I’m a longtime fan of Lovelock, but this, perhaps quoted out of context, seems backward to me — hasn’t the surprise been that the heat storage in the ocean — the Indian Ocean, most recently — in fact _did_ change much faster than expected?

    And that’s come to be understood thanks to finer-resolution modeling of the interactions of waves and wind and biological activity, all contributing more than thought to mixing the upper ocean layers and capturing heat at least temporarily — but will it warm further down or return to the atmosphere?

  36. 36
    Steven Sullivan says:

    FYI ‘Fernando’ above:

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=18727#comment-635518

    is Fernando Leanme, a tedious self-styled gadfly/social critic/contrarian who regularly posts bosh on various climate forums (e.g. Rabbett Run) and just as regularly gets swatted down for it.

    His high opinion of Lomborg is not at all surprising.

  37. 37
    Icarus62 says:

    Elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce outgoing longwave radiation to space, and thereby increase downward longwave radiation to the surface. I believe that both these values have been quantified, so we should be able to calculate, to some level of accuracy, how much additional energy the climate system should have absorbed over recent decades. There must also be changes due to the reduction of snow and ice cover, land use changes and so on.

    At the same time we have measurements of the total energy accumulating in the climate system, by warming of the surface, atmosphere and oceans, and by melting of ice.

    So I was wondering: Have there been any attempts to compare these two values, derived in different ways, and find out whether they agree?

  38. 38
    Lorius´ car says:

    I would like to hear if anybody could enlighten me about the present state of knowledge about the water vapour feedback. In this excellent rebuttal of Lindzen´s HoL testimony, Gavin pointed to several papers by Soden and Dessler empirically documenting the existence of a positive feedback. Now ,having read Dessler´s paper on the sum of the feedbacks 2000-2010, I got somewhat confused by his conclusion that this decade saw a strong negative feedback.

    I would especially like to hear/see

    – if there is still near-universal agreement that the water vapour feedback with warming is strongly positive
    – if the cloud feedback can be reasonably constrained (i.e. that it is not a strong feedback (in either direction) of, say, 2 W/m2)
    – recent sources documenting the increased humidity of the upper troposphere (or debunking Roy Spencer´s persistent claims to the contrary)
    – if the ECS can be reasonably estimated simply by looking at the present feedback constraints.

    If a kind and knowledgeable climate scientist (or anyone insightful) could enlighten me on this subject, I would be very thankful.

  39. 39
    Pete Best says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSEMi-FBH_E

    good video on glacial retreat.

  40. 40
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike,
    You are falling victim to the same ignorance of the IPCC process that also plagues the policy makers. The IPCC operates by consensus–which is of necessity conservative, as it requires adoption of a position that the overwhelming majority agree is supported by the evidence.

    This has nothing to do with the positions, inclinations, personalities or training of individual scientists. There will be dissenters both on the conservative and alarmist side of necessity. Anyone who expects bombthrowing from a committee is out of touch with reality. If you are interested in the true range of scientific opinion, you have to read the peer-reviewed scientific literature. It is here you find diversity of opinion because peer review is inherently a lower standard than consensus.

    As to the opinions of the most conservative fringe of science, we should only pay attention to those who are paying attention to the evidence. If a scientist consistently writes inflammatory screeds for right-wing rags while couching their rhetoric in a veneer of professional courtesy in scientific circles, I find it very hard to take their science seriously.

    There are some “climate scientists,” most of them present in the blogosphere who have never contributed even the slightest understanding to matters of Earth’s climate. Paying attention to them can only confuse.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Mal Adapted says:

    TAR:

    And what if the issue isn’t actually “denial” per se but something else entirely?

    Indeed, there’s abundant documentation of the well-funded effort to protect the revenue streams of fossil fuel investors by keeping the public confused about AGW. Even its instigators may be sincere on some level, though. In Psychology, denial is a term of art,

    in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

    Few people are comfortable thinking of themselves as villains, after all. We’ve all heard another psychological term, cognitive dissonance:

    Dissonance is felt when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one’s belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.

    IMO, that accounts for a lot of AGW-denial. Even Charles and David Koch may sincerely believe theirs is a righteous cause. From a telling (read it!) 2012 Forbes interview about using their money for political influence:

    Ironically, the Koch brothers believe they’re fighting against power, at least in the political realm. For the Kochs the real power is central government, which can tax entire industries into oblivion, force a citizen to buy health insurance and bring mighty corporations like Koch Industries to heel.

    The goal has always been, Charles says, “true democracy,” where people “can run their own lives and choose what they want to buy, choose how to spend their money.”

    Do we really expect the Kochs, whose vast fortunes were built on fossil fuels, to acknowledge even to themselves that they owe those fortunes to a government that has allowed them to externalize the climate change costs of their business, thus forcing other citizens to pay them? Admittedly, the cognitive dissonance can be pretty close to the surface:

    Both Kochs innately understand that–unlike the populist appeal of their fellow midwestern billionaire Warren Buffett and his tax-the-rich advocacy–their message of pure, raw capitalism is a much tougher sell, even among capitalists.

    Ultimately, IMO, the sincerity or cynicism of AGW-denial does matter, because the perception of sincerity makes it harder for the confused public to recognize the man behind the curtain as a bad man. It’s what makes him a good wizard.

  43. 43
    Jim Baird says:

    Hank Roberts 35

    Figure 3 in the Nature article
    Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus
    shows the warm water piling up in the east, which essentially drove the thermocline down. It doesn’t seem to me there was very much mixing of the heat, thus dilution, to deeper water. From what I understand when the winds subsided the warm water simply sloshed back to the east and up the North American coast to produce the blob.

    What I propose, is to move the surface heat, through the phase changes of a working fluid, to 1000 meters where it would be diluted, beneath the thermocline, as the vapor condenses and loses heat to the cold sink.

    Colleagues suggest it makes no difference if the surface is cooled by dilution from cold water being brought to the surface or by moving heat to the deep.

    Although I can’t prove it, my gut tells me it makes considerable difference. For one thing the coefficient of expansion at 1000 meters is half that of the surface and if the return rate is 4 meters/year it would take a great deal longer for heat to return from 1000 meters than 300.

    I would ask the same question you have proposed in a little different way, what happens to heat diluted above the thermocline?

    It seems to me doing it this way degrades the potential of the ocean to produce energy with OTEC because the heat sink is at least 300 times greater than the warm source?

  44. 44
    Mal Adapted says:

    The last link in my previous comment went nowhere 8^}. I meant to cite a recent piece at Fortune.com titled Billionaires versus big oil, about tension between wealthy fossil-fuel investors and a “handful[*] of high-profile activists fighting climate change, such as Bill Gates, George Soros, Richard Branson, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer”, who have been “supporting the clean-energy cause mostly through their philanthropies” but have also “invested for their own book on occasion”:

    In the U.S., conservative politicians have accused some of these well-heeled investors of living off clean-tech subsidies from their friends in the Obama administration. Last summer the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by noted climate-change denier James Inhofe[**] (R-Okla.), issued a 67-page report called “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.” Among Inhofe’s campaign contributors are the brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries and whose vast fortunes were built on fossil fuels. The New York Times reported that they will spend nearly $889 million trying to defeat Democratic candidates in the next election—in the process supporting politicians who they believe will protect the status quo.

    Is anyone surprised that the instigators of the AGW-denialist disinformation campaign would attack defectors as traitors to their class?

    * Al Gore’s paltry $200 million doesn’t place him in it ;^).

    ** Lest there be any doubt about Inhofe’s status as both professional AGW-denier and policy maker.

  45. 45

    LC 38,

    Saturation vapor pressure rises with temperature according to the Clausius-Clapeyron law. There’s really no question about it.

  46. 46
    Mike says:

    I understand about the necessarily conservative nature of the IPCC consensus process. I am not so sure that calling emphatic warnings from respected scientists should be characterized as “bomb-throwing”. (@40 from Ray. Not calling you out, I mean no offense. I think we have to encourage the climate science community to think a little harder about roles and responsibilities in this situation. That is what I am attempting)

    I think that the scientific community does not have clean hands with regard to the situation that we are in and the situation that we are leaving for our grandchildren.

    Article in Washington Post today covers corrections to ocean current projections.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/07/new-studies-deepen-concerns-about-a-climate-change-wild-card/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

    Here is the underlying scientific paper:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065276/full

    WP says the “report, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says previous research may have underestimated changes to the ocean from the huge influx of fresh, cold water from melting ice sheets. Using new methods, the German scientists were able to estimate more precisely how much ice would melt and how all that added freshwater would affect ocean circulation. In the ocean, colder water normally tends to sink, but cold freshwater — less dense than saltwater — stays near the surface, disrupting the normal flow.” (this does not look like a consensus problem, simply a failing of the modeling parameters – and since it falls on the low side, as most estimates have, consensus or not, this low side impact projection illustrates how scientists by their nature and training are conservative. Not republican conservative, more like careful – conservative which could lead to tamping down of parameters when the models start to produce projections that will be characterized as bomb throwing.

    I have no love for the policy makers and the professional AGW deniers who exploit the failures of the scientific community or fall victim to conservative impact estimates. It does not matter much whether those conservative estimates happen due to consensus process or other failings such as modeling errors as may have been pointed out by Gierz.

    I think it is very late for the climate science community to recognize its special responsibilities in the early years of the sixth great extinction, but on the other hand, it might help the Paris COP meetings to hear building and strident alarm calls from scientists. I think there are personal prices that must be paid if a person decides to speak out. So many people do not want to hear an alarm. After all, the economy is fragile, what if an alarm and the necessary response to alarm hurt the economy? Who wants to be blamed for that?

  47. 47
    AIC says:

    Chemistry correction: Mal Adapted, in # 263 of last month’s Unforced Variations, you said “I’d take anything I read at that site with at least a hillock of HCL.”

    Did you mean that you would drink a gallon of hydrochloric acid? If so, you should have written it as HCl.
    Or did you perhaps intend NaCl, sodium chloride?

  48. 48
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Sep 2015

    I don’t know who you are but I appreciate your input. Do you have a blog or website? You seem to know what you’re talking about and you seem to be well informed. If you have a link or anything you can share please do. Thanks.

  49. 49
    Chuck Hughes says:

    (and I expect Paris COP will be a failure or only a pig with lipstick that will never be implemented as agreed….. this is my most positive views, because it might even be worse. AGW/CC and climate science does not operate in a vacuum.)

    Comment by Thomas O’Reilly — 6 Sep 2015 @

    Are you saying that the current mass migration is not being caused by Climate Change? Not sure what point you’re trying to make. Maybe you can explain further.

  50. 50

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