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Unforced Variations: Dec 2015

Filed under: — group @ 13 December 2015

This is a belated open thread for this month, for anything non-COP21 and non-AGU related.

177 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Dec 2015”

  1. 101
    Mal Adapted says:

    Erika Ackerman:

    Has anyone calculated the contribution of anthropogenic warming to the strength of the current El Nino? I swear I saw something along those lines, but can’t find it anywhere.

    I haven’t seen any calculations for the current El Nino, but it’s been done for the previous La Nina. A 2013 Nature Letter by Kosaka & Xie titled Recent global warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling (also paywalled) reported model runs in which observed ENSO timing and strength were used as input, rather than randomly generated as state variables:

    …our model reproduces the annual-mean global temperature remarkably well with correlation coefficient r 5 0.97 for 1970–2012…Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Nina-like decadal cooling.

  2. 102
    Jim Eager says:

    Theo, warming from Milankovitch forcing peaked during the Holocene Climate Optimum of 8000-6000 years ago, an global mean temperature has been very slowly declining since then, with temporary excursions both above (Medieval Warm Period) and below (Little Ice Age) that long term trend. Until now. Humans have reversed most of the long term decline of the past 6000 years in less than a century, and given the residence time of an increase in atmospheric CO2 the next orbitally forced glaciation has already been postponed indefinitely if not cancelled all together.

  3. 103
    Jim Eager says:

    Dick Newell: “especially as the models don’t seem to imitate what happens in reality very well.

    Still more false assertions and the same persistent random walk nonsense.

  4. 104
    Jim Eager says:

    Victor wrote: “CO2 consistently lags temperature, strongly suggesting that the latter was consistently causing the former.

    Which is true, but it does not support Victor’s preceding assertion that “If that were the case, then we’d see a reversal at some point, with rises in CO2 leading and atmospheric warming following.”

  5. 105
    Jim Eager says:

    Silk wrote “Now I /know/ you are trolling.

    Are you surprised? Google “Dick Newell AGW” or “Dick Newell climate change” and you will find Dick making the usual comments at the usual places. He’s pulling our chain. And we are letting him.

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    Someone over at SkepticalScience also complained about popup ads when going to RC recently. Folks, it’s not RC.

    Even when you go to a “trusted” website, you have to know it could have been hacked. “Trust but verify” isn’t only for mutually assured destruction. It’s also smart online.

    What I posted at SkS:

    hank at 04:58 AM on 23 December, 2015

    > realclimate ? Adware abounds.

    Here’s what you need to fix — it’s in your computer, not at RC’s link (now). You could have gotten it from that site [because you weren’t actually visiting ‘that’ site] during the registration problem, or from many other sources.

    From this and a couple of mentions at RC, I think people who were not running adware/virus protection back during the brief, er, hiatus in registration picked up a malware/virus load.

    At that time, when registration was screwed up, I noticed redirection attempts and reported that to RC. But I run Malwarebytes and a couple of other antivirus tools and haven’t picked up the malware myself.

    You have — probably it has modified the hosts file record for RC (and eventually other sites you use also). It’s an intermittent offender which means you need to follow all three steps at the malwarebytes help page, to root the damned thing out.

    These things are lurking all over the Internet.

    Run some kind of protection even if you think you’re going to “trusted” websites. This happens all the time.

  7. 107
    Mark says:

    Dr. Schmidt,

    Would you care to briefly respond to these headlines?

    Major theories on rising temps suddenly thrown in doubt”

    “Climate change shock: Burning fossil fuels ‘COOLS planet’, says NASA
    BURNING fossil fuels and cutting down trees causes global COOLING, a shock new NASA study has found.”


  8. 108
    Theo van den Berg says:

    Temperature records. My local temperature @ -29 +152 :
    No cloud, no wind > day high night low
    No cloud, hot wind > day hottest night warm
    Cloud, no wind > day low night warm
    Cloud, hot wind > day low night warmest
    and other combinations with cold wind.
    Obviously, rain affects temp as well. Most serious storms include hail winter and summer. Winter temp range 0 to 35. Summer 20 to 48. Westerly winds usually bring heat from the centre. Similar weather all along the East coast of AUS. And, of course, the weather does not stick to 24 hour periods. Melbourne is known to have 4 seasons in one day.

    So then we record highest and lowest each day at 9am and then the average is supposed to give us a trend in warming or cooling ???
    Surely now that the whole world agrees? about warming, we should upgrade all weather stations. A full function hobby station in AUS is about 150 bucks, but it should sense cloud cover as well. Put them alongside the old equipment so we can verify Min/Max. The cost of one lunch at COP21 should pay for the upgrades world wide :)

  9. 109
    Peter Perlsø says:

    @44 ‘A new form of climate denial is being identified’.

    That form of denialism is not new at all; that renewable energy is supposedly useless for its transient nature – which the denialist choir have been saying for well over a decade – is of course false. Though fact of the matter is that renewables are peak-load, and that it alone is insufficient to supply an industrial society; baseload electrical generation IS necessary.

    The plays the nuclear scare card is tiresome to the degree that it reaches towards the PRATT of CC_denialists. The Jacobsen study Oreskes relies on seems not as much a study as it is a dreamy blueprint that specifically omits Nuclear with it the benefit that it entails. Nuclear power hasn’t been idly hiding in a cave for the last 3 decades; current 3rd generation reactors are miles apart from the crud of the cold war. Furthermore, the work underway on Thorium reactors, allows the plants to not only act as baseload units but load followers as well, removing natural gas plants (that both Germany and Japan relies on now) entirely from the equation.

    quote: >Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions,” said Jacobson,

    Then why exclude a useful, nay, outright advantageous, source of energy? Or are the problems we face not so drastic that we can afford to not play all of the cards in our hand?

    As for the ‘spectre of catastrophic risk’, I doubt there’s any uncertainty as to what is alluded to: The Fukushima incident (likely with some Chernobyl added and a sprinkle of Three Mile Island): The Fukushima incident, which had little to do with nuclear energy, as much as it had woth a 13-meter wall of water taking out the support systems of the reactor buildings, moved George Monbiot amongst the supportes of nuclear power:

    The claim of lack of technical expertise is just as false as the former – wind energy requires a tranmission infrastructure that is dimensioned, controlled and functioning in an electricity market, and yes, there has been ans still are problems ironing out THAT problem in the 1st world!

    I am _utterly_ disappointed in Oreskes for delivering such a mish-mash where proponents of expanded provision of a perfectly useful source of energy are thrown in with the crowd of denialists and Republican cronies. If this is the path she now follows in order to gain attention to the cause of carbon-energy reduction, then she will not only be doing this cause a lot of harm.

  10. 110
    Russell says:

    In the ecumenical spirit of the season, the WSJ has run an opinion piece by a sun worshiper.

  11. 111
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Chuck Hughes: Somebody can correct me on this but when things really start to heat up, nobody is going to want to live in Australia.

    RC: Dunno about correct but I can give some thoughts and let somebody else correct us both:

    When an ice sheet melts, land near it starts to rise. For example, northeastern Canada, already rebounding from the ice age, will accelerate upward. But stuff gets complicated and (some of?) the US’s eastern seaboard will drop. Not sure what happens to Australia. Maybe they’re close enough to rise with the Antarctic continent.

    The nukes near sea is subjective. Nukes near sea on ring-of-fire makes for some drama, but (not looking stuff up for this post) I think there are plenty of seismically stable areas in Australia where a coastal placement could be ideal. Desalinize water, use it to cool the nuke and sent the hot water on to humanity. Maybe Jim Baird’s OTEC could do the desalination.

    But the great barrier reef will be substantially dead in that scenario. Add desertification, and yeah, Australia does look like a likely loser in the Climate Sweepstakes we’re all entered in. (and re-entering daily)

    Edward Greisch: Do you still think natural gas is safe?

    RC: Make me re-wonder about CCS.

  12. 112
    James McDonald says:

    The problem persists with attempted accesses to this site often being redirected to

  13. 113
    Simon C says:

    Tom Adams in comment 91 gives a good summary of the understanding of the relationship between CO2 and orbital forcing – the orbital forcings initiate the change, but the CO2 fluctuations maintain and amplify them. In the case of the eccentricity cycle this may involve considerable nonlinear amplification of the forcing by CO2 – cf NJ Shackleton, Science 2000. Interestingly, modelling work by Abe-Ouchi et al (Nature 2013) indicates that orbitally forced major glaciations only occur within certain CO2 level parameters, and we may already be outside those limits (eg cf Tzedakis et al, Nature Geoscience 2012). There is some debate about whether the current orbital configuration on its own “ought” to be taking us gradually into another glacial, but this would be over many thousands of years, and it looks as if CO2 has already overidden this. Should we be glad to escape another glacial? Arguably not, since glacials take a very long time to develop, whereas the human-induced “super-interglacial” appears to be emerging with disturbing speed.

  14. 114
    Russell says:

    Playing catch-up with the climate policy literature, Bishop Hill is now <a href=" 25 years behind the times .

  15. 115
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Kind of good news re: El-Nino. It has contracted a full 10 deg east from it’s stubborn position it’s been for months. It’s showing tentative signs of cooling in parts near the Peruvian coast as well. Courtesy of null-school. It probably wont’s behave like others past have behaved coz the ocean in general has warmed considerably in the last 10-15 years. I’m observing it with interest. BTW Happy Christmas to all RC contributors and staff. Keep going guys, your site is invaluable to the education of people around the world.

  16. 116
    Chris Dudley says:

    Bill McKibben tweeted about July in Christmas. In my opinion, weatrher comments are becoming actual climate comments from time to time.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    Sidd over at SkS is positive the ad popups he’s seeing are not a problem with his computer.

    In case it’s of any use, I checked and asked there: shows some issues that may take a while to clear up.

    Is it possible your setup queries several different Domain Name Servers and one of them is compromised and hasn’t been flushed out?

  18. 118
    Cathy Jones says:

    Lately I’ve been made aware of the 100K bet by Douglass Keenan. I’ve run into it on a couple blogs. I saw it today at the Guardian.

    It seems that some attempt to explain why this challenge is not worth responding to would be a good idea. I’ve been trying to find an article which deconstruct Keenan’s premise but I’ve haven’t found one. I realize it’s only surfaced recently.

    Obviously people like me with limited technical understanding of time series analysis and Keenan’s claims about the IPPC is above our pay grade.

  19. 119
    Bob Gort says:

    Freeman Dyson has once again raised his contrarian voice via an opinion piece in The Boston Globe:

    Fortunately two MIT faculty members addressed what Dyson wrote, but it was not printed until 10 days later:

    The reasoning Dyson uses is of astonishingly shallow quality for someone with his scientific credentials and I’m not sure whether to explain it as arrogance (e.g., nobody has thought of these things before) or ignorance (i.e., he’s no longer able to read and understand the climate science literature — he’s now 92).

    Unfortunately there is an audience for what Dyson writes. I became aware of the Globe article because two of my neighbors, who are retired M.D.’s, have decided anthropogenic global warming is not happening and they are always looking for a “name” to buttress this conclusion. They were very drawn to Richard Muller a few years ago, until Muller publicly changed his mind!

  20. 120

    after I have discovered the solar cycles dynamics and variability, you can see that there was no maunder minimum, it is a fault assumption of modern scientists because of the rare sun observations that followed Galileo death. On the other hand there has been a Dalton minimum and it is well discribed by the graphs I have produced around 1800 when scientists first begun to execivelly observe the sun.

  21. 121
    Tom Johnson says:

    I’m surprised no one has commented on the Oreskes Guardian article.IMO she has jumped the shark. She is trying to shut down legitimate policy discussion about which clean, non carbon fuels are best fit for purpose.

  22. 122
    Neil Bates says:

    We need to see more discussion of dew points together with temperatures, not just pop-style focus on temperatures. DPs are getting higher too, and more records could be seen as broken and a clearer trend, if DPs used over time – true? Also, scary because water vapor also absorbs CO2. It’s been not just warm around here (SE Va.) but unpleasantly humid. Many people died in South Asia some time ago, it was from heat and humidity and sadly there is more to come.

  23. 123
    Jean-François Fleury says:

    Something I found on the web. I know I am boring you with the atlantic cold anomaly thing. But as I said I found this page : Atlantic 59 degrees north transect to 1900m depth. It seems that the NAC is cooling on the whole water column. That could explain why the subpolargyre is also cooling : ? On the other the heat content of the arctic gateways seems to be increasing. As it is the next step for the NAC, it seems weird for me : ? gateway seas (20W-40E.70-80N) heat content 0-700m depth . On a larger scale, the heat content in the north atlantic basin seems to have reversed its increasing trend. Atlantic (60-0W,30-65N) heat content 0-700 m depth . Any comments about this? Any references? For the data, see the links infra (National Oceanographic Data Center and Global Marine Argo Atlas). Comments and answers are welcome. Kind regards.

  24. 124
    Nemesis says:

    @Edward Greisch

    Do you still think natural gas is safe?

    Well, uhm, it’s safe profit– so far 8-)

  25. 125
    Richard Simons says:

    Dick Newell;
    I have not read all the comments in detail, so perhaps this has already been covered, but I think you are calculating the variance incorrectly.
    Determining the variance of the data as it stands includes the variance about the “true” temperature for that year plus the variance due to the changing “true” temperature. You need to determine the line of best fit, then calculate the variance about that line. Finding the line of best fit is the more challenging part, but even with a rough approximation you will find the variance is considerably less.
    To get more information check out ‘analysis of variance’ and ‘regression analysis’.
    Hope this helps.

  26. 126
  27. 127
    Jgnfld says:

    Cathy…it is impossible to decide if a particular run of 20 coin flips where you observe 60% heads and 40% tails definitively comes from a biased coin or from a cherrypicked run from a random fair coin picked because it emulates a biased coin. If you run enough random tosses, you will, in fact, ALWAYS find some which look like a biased coin. “Reasoning” that because there are sequences from a random distribution which cannot be differentiated from nonrandom sequences “proves”…well nothing really. It’s simply how probability works.

    Sometimes you really do randomly flip 10 heads in a row with a fair coin. Once in 1024 times you try or so. Using a computer to generate and then cherrypick sequences you cannot differentiate as to underlying source is trivial. In all senses of the word.

  28. 128
    Edward Greisch says:

    109 Peter Perlsø: You have got it backwards.

    44 Chris Dudley: “Very recently, I’ve gotten involved in a startup that plans to rent solar photovoltaic systems in the residential market. My guess is this is going to catch on. My homepage is where you can sign up.”

    “Denying” wind and solar is not denying GW. Denying nuclear is denying GW. Chris Dudley got it backwards, as did The Guardian. See my comments under the AGU fall meeting or below.

    Quit mandating how the electric generating companies should run their lives and stick to raising the price of carbon. Renewables mandates are a higher electric bill. Let the engineers do the engineering and let the musicians make the music.

  29. 129
    Edward Greisch says:

    Where would I get the notion that wind and solar are intermittent?:

    “Green Illusions” by Ozzie Zehner

    “Why We Need Nuclear Power; the Environmental Case” by Michael H. Fox, 2014
    “the actual performance was 2.2% of the predicted performance in terms of fuel savings,”

    among other places. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

  30. 130
    Robert says:

    @Tom Johnson (#121) — Well, I read the Oreskes Guardian article (I am assuming you are referring to the one dated Dec. !6 entitled “There is a new form of climate denialism to look out for – so don’t celebrate yet”). I did not see any sharks (jumping or otherwise), nor does it appear that she is trying to “shut down legitimate policy discussion” about anything. She has voiced some opinions, backed by some data, with some general proposals as to how we could proceed with various non-carbon-based forms of energy generation. These ideas are not uncommon, can be found elsewhere presented by people who are interested in finding solutions, and should be part of any legitimate policy discussion.

  31. 131
    zebra says:

    peter periso #109,

    I have pointed out to many commenters in various forums that it is difficult to sort out the people using nuclear as a poison pill kind of argument (against reducing fossil fuel use) from those who are sincere.

    One way to demonstrate your sincerity is to provide more than the usual hand-wavy language about “baseload” and advanced reactors and thorium and so on. Come up with some specifics and some kind of positive plan to get from A to B. Otherwise, it really does sound like someone taking the opportunity to trash wind and solar while saying “hah you greenie liberals will never go for nuclear anyway”.

  32. 132
    mike says:

    A little background info about CO2 levels in the atmosphere:

    There is some consensus that we need to have a level of 350 ppm in the atmosphere to get back to the range where we enjoyed a somewhat stable environment. The last time we were at 350 was in 1988.

    From 1965 to 1974 we increased CO2 ppm at a rate of 1.06 ppm per year
    From 1975 to 1984 we increased CO2 ppm at a rate of 1.44 ppm per year
    From 1985 to 1994 we increased CO2 ppm at a rate of 1.42 ppm per year
    From 1995 to 2004 we increased CO2 ppm at a rate of 1.87 ppm per year
    From 2005 to 2014 we increased CO2 ppm at a rate of 2.11 ppm per year

    Daily CO2 level on December 26, 2014 was 398.46
    Daily CO2 level on December 26, 2015 was 401.96, a change of 3.5 ppm in the most recent year (I had to use the calculator three times, I really have trouble believing that number)

    The numbers show that levels of CO2 continue to rise and they also continue to rise at an increasing pace, so we are going the wrong direction and going faster most years and decades. The current year with an increase of 3.5 ppm is a pretty large jump. All of our collective efforts that have gone into reducing the burning of fossil fuels have been absorbed and wiped out by CO2 emissions somewhere on the planet so far. We are not even holding the line on the increase, we are seeing the rate of increase rise from decade to decade.

    You can check the data here: I think I have carried the numbers over accurately, but I could have a typo here and there.

    The fact that we are having meetings like COP21 show that on some level our species understands that we have to do something about our situation and our propensity for raising CO2 levels. The numbers do not lie, we are currently going in the wrong direction and we are picking up speed.

    I do not see anything in the numbers from Mauna Loa that indicates that we have an idea how to start moving the crucial number back down toward 350 ppm. I am convinced that engineers and technicians can crank up some hardware, software, algorithms and data and show that we are going to be ok. Unfortunately, I think we have to see a change in the raw numbers at Mauna Loa or we should probably come to the conclusion that the engineering data and algorithms are like the VW diesel output numbers: they look good on paper, but they are not what they appear in the real world.

    I don’t think nature is going to bail us out. We have to change the direction of the change in CO2 level in the atmosphere and we need to do it quickly. Watch the CO2 ppm number at Mauna Loa, everything else is smoke and mirrors.

    Maybe looking at 2014 to 2015 increase is just a particularly bad cherry-picking episode, but if not, and 2015 to 2016 is in this astonishingly high range, will climate scientists speak out about what this means?

    For Dr. Gavin Schmidt: am I missing something with these numbers or does this look extraordinarily bad? Is it time to cross the streams ala Dr. Peter Venkman?

  33. 133

    #121–“She is trying to shut down legitimate policy discussion about which clean, non carbon fuels are best fit for purpose…”

    Tom, I think you are talking about this:

    If so, I must say that I see no attempt to ‘shut down… discussion.’ Rather, she appears to be participating in said discussion. Well, unless, that is, you think she may be winning–which I suppose could be considered a form of ‘shutting down?’

  34. 134
    Shelama says:

    Jim Eager @ 102

    Is it possible, then, that what is happening may be, or may lead to, a good thing for the long term? –– the human elimination of the ice-age glaciation with careful modulation of anthropogenic atmospheric C02?

  35. 135
    Christopher Yaun says:

    Two questions:
    – carbon capture sequestration (ccs) and available oxygen: if ccs technology was developed how would atmospheric O2 levels be impacted? Would sequestration tie up O2 and sequester it along with carbon?

    Gotta go. Will post second question later.


  36. 136
    Omega Centauri says:

    If you are doing a random walk, you aren’t having a reversion to the mean, and your expected deviation from your starting point varies as the square-root of time, slow but unbounded. Since climate is a process with something resembling a mean, there is a strong component of reversion to the mean. That reversion happens because there are negative feedbacks built into the physics, i.e. a surface at a higher temperature radiates more energy to space.
    One can generate a random series, with a slow reversion to the mean (which means Tn+1 is correlated to Tn), by retaining a fraction (F between -1 and +1) of the previous temperature and adding a new random deviate to generate the next time step. F=0 is not correlated, F=1 is the random walk. The expected mean square departure would scale as 1/F.

  37. 137
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Maybe looking at 2014 to 2015 increase is just a particularly bad cherry-picking episode, but if not, and 2015 to 2016 is in this astonishingly high range, will climate scientists speak out about what this means?

    For Dr. Gavin Schmidt: am I missing something with these numbers or does this look extraordinarily bad? Is it time to cross the streams ala Dr. Peter Venkman?

    Comment by mike — 29 Dec 2015

    How likely is it that the feedbacks have started up in earnest? As Killian said earlier… “Something is cooking somewhere.”

    For CO2 levels to be increasing both in quantity and speed, year over year, I would think we’d have to be “getting some outside help we don’t really need.” ~ B.B. King

    With some predicting economic and social collapse over the next few decades I would think the entire process would have to continually accelerate (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t). This could be happening but if we’re waiting around for solid evidence that it is, we’re falling into the same trap that got us where we are today.

    3′ of SLR by the end of the century sounds ridiculous given what we know now. Do Climate Models factor in delusional thinking or human folly?

  38. 138
    Greg Simpson says:

    Maybe looking at 2014 to 2015 increase is just a particularly bad cherry-picking episode …

    It is cherry picking, but next year will probably also be bad.

    It’s the ENSO. Just looks at 1997 and 1998, they were bad, too. The carbon dioxide levels are getting worse, but not that fast.

  39. 139
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Let the engineers do the engineering and let the musicians make the music.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 29 Dec 2015

    And if you’re ever in need of a good laugh, hand an engineer a violin.

    After the “performance” you can explain the Physics of sound and why certain frequencies are particularly offensive to the ear… and how the ear is able to discern the various frequencies… why some instruments sound better than others… how Beethoven was able to hear all those frequencies in his head while completely deaf and arrange them into the 9th Symphony which was placed on the Voyager II Spacecraft as an example of human achievement… which has exited our solar system … and how sound waves and frequencies relate to all other branches of Physics. And why Richard Feynman was a musician and the astronauts who piloted the Space Shuttle have a rock band and took their instruments to the International Space Station etc.

    I think Albert Einstein also played the violin while he was formulating his Special Theory of Relativity but that would take another paragraph.

    Einstein himself seems to have favored the musician over all of his other “parts.” “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he once said, “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

  40. 140
    Christopher Yaun says:

    CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O + energy


    question #2: disruptive technology(ies)? could a process be developed that converts CH4 to pure carbon, hydrogen and energy?

    traditional stoichiometry:
    CH4 (fire)+ (2) O2 yields CO2 + (2)H2O + energy

    CH4(solar energy + catalyst) yields C + (2)H2
    pure carbon is converted to replacement for plastics and structural steel
    HH2 used to fuel

  41. 141

    Random walk with a strong reversion to the mean is called the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process. This is also often referred to as a type of red noise. The physical analogy of O-U is a random walk sitting inside a potential well with the well providing a mean-reverting drag force as it deviates from the minimum energy point.

  42. 142
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Christopher Yaun

    Carbon oxidizes to CO2, so yes sequestration ties up 2 atoms of oxygen for each atom of carbon.

    No, that’s trivial. You know where the oxygen in the atmosphere comes from?

  43. 143
    MA Rodger says:

    Jgnfld @128.
    The chance of a sequence of 20 flipped coins yielding a 60:40 imbalance between heads & tails (60:40 to 20:1 ratio) is actually greater than it not happening. Even the chances of a plus80:20 ratio remains greater than a one-in-ten chance. A very low probability ‘cherry-pick’ situation surely only starts from 17:3.
    With larger numbers of flipped coins, you would see the 60:40 ratio becoming increasingly unlikely and by, say, 50 coins your cherry-picked accusation would be then appropriate.


    Cathy Jones @118.
    The problem with Keenan is he is a prize idiot who converts simple analysis into ridiculous complexity. Reading his nonsense, it continually reminds me of the “Schleswig-Holstein question which, just to understand the question, required you to be mad, demented or dead, and that for a question which has no actual answer.
    Keenan’s $100,000 bet is unwinnable through any analysis. And that situation has actually nothing to do with anything else Keenan may be saying, or trying to say.
    The challenge is to classify 900 of 1,000 number series correctly. Some are purely random while some contain a trend, either positive or negative. The question is which is which?
    So consider such a problem as each of the 1,000 series comprising 134 random numbers, Keenan’s random steps. Let us say these random numbers sit between -0.5 & +0.5. Then some are given the trend by either adding 0.01 to all the numbers in the series, or subtracting 0.01.
    Now, you can spot that some of these series must have a trend because they contain numbers outside the range -0.5 to +0.5. And you can spot a small number that cannot have a trend because they have numbers less than -0.49 as well as greater than +0.49. Indeed, you should be able to spot about 20% of the trended series and 2% of the non-trended series. So if there are more trended than non-trended, you should be able to find 900 in 1,000 within such a puzzle.
    Keenan’s little puzzle, however, contains more randomness. In my version, let’s add just a little imprecision to the random numbers, make them +/- random variable x. Now a series with one or more numbers outside the range -0.5 to +0.5 could still be without a trend. It is thus impossible to classify any of them with absolute certainty and to ask somebody to classify 90% of them is pure madness.
    And so what? Such a puzzle has zero to do with the twaddle spouted elsewhere by Keenan.

  44. 144
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @132.
    While your numbers for rate of change of atmospheric CO2 are (I assume) correct, you are missing the noise in the system. A single 12-month rise is not a useful indicator of the trend.
    The annual average change in atmospheric CO2 (as per MLO) wobbles in a similar manner to global temperature. The overall increase since 1959 has been pretty linear +0.026ppm/year. But the annual scatter about that trend is +/- 0.9ppm(2sd). (Monthly plots of the CO2 rise are graphed in red here (usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’) Because of this scatter, a zero increase in our emissions would take a decade or so to show in the CO2 record. It would even take a couple of years to properly show if our emissions ceased overnight.

  45. 145
    mike says:

    There is noise in the system that creates an uncertain amount of fluctuation in the year to year level of CO2 ppm in the environment. I was also thinking that El Nino could create a temporary bump in the data. So thanks for that nudge to look at that.

    It does appear however that we have not seen a jump of 3.5 ppm in the record since 1958, the only year close is 1997 – 1998 at 3.08 ppm.

    My concern is that our rate of increase has been increasing even as we spin the story that more efficient technologies (cfls, leds, hybrid gas electrics, etc) will be able to help us address the problem. The rate of increase appears to be increasing even as the global economy sputters a bit.

    We may be seeing a demonstration of Jevon’s Paradox where the efficiencies (I see a lot of cars on the highway these days that get mpg above 40) are leading to increased usage and no real decline in measurable levels of unintended consequences (think soot and particulates for increased coal usage as the coal burning technology efficiencies improved or CO2 levels as turbodiesels and hybrids improve the fleet mpg numbers)or we may be seeing increases in baseline levels of CO2 because of increasing use of relatively old-school technologies – clean coal, anyone? It is also possible that we are seeing CO2 levels rise due to natural ecosystem stresses brought on by global warming – forest fires, etc. I think it’s kind of important that we keep a close eye on the raw numbers because there is so much resistance to change and the only way we can measure our real progress is in the rear view mirror – by looking at hard numbers like the MLO CO2 levels.

    COP21 goals look like projections out the windshield – promises, aspirations etc – that will change our trajectory, but I trust those projections as much as I trust the VW emission numbers. It is very easy to cook the books.

    I see a lot of exuberance(maybe irrational)about COP21 and I just want to avoid being swept away by feel-good stories in the press about 1.5 degree goals if we are actually not going to do anything real to hold temperature increase below 2 degrees.

    As others have noted, there is lag in the system, we may not see drops for a couple of years after changes occur, but a lot of people have been making changes in their lives to stop global warming and it’s important that numerically literate folks provide feedback to the numerically illiterate (or distracted) folks who think we are making progress if we are not.

    November historical levels -averages
    1958 – 313.33
    1959 – 314.8
    1960 – 315
    1961 – 316.1
    1962 – 316.69
    1963 – 317.12
    1964 – 317.79
    1965 – 318.87
    1966 – 319.79
    1967 – 320.72
    1968 – 321.31
    1969 – 322.85
    1970 – 323.98
    1971 – 324.8
    1972 – 326.5
    1973 – 328.16
    1974 – 328.34
    1975 – 329.33
    1976 – 330.18
    1977 – 332.35
    1978 – 333.76
    1979 – 335.26
    1980 – 337.21
    1981 – 338.59
    1982 – 339.48
    1983 – 341.53
    1984 – 343.06
    1985 – 344.4
    1986 – 345.86
    1987 – 347.96
    1988 – 350.15
    1989 – 351.44
    1990 – 353.05
    1991 – 353.79
    1992 – 354.27
    1993 – 355.4
    1994 – 357.56
    1995 – 359.4
    1996 – 360.84
    1997 – 362.44
    1998 – 365.52
    1999 – 366.68
    2000 – 368.33
    2001 – 369.69
    2002 – 372.2
    2003 – 374.64
    2004 – 375.93
    2005 – 378.29
    2006 – 380.18
    2007 – 382.42
    2008 – 384.13
    2009 – 386
    2010 – 388.65
    2011 – 390.24
    2012 – 392.81
    2013 – 395.11
    2014 – 397.27
    2015 – 400.16

    Table data source: Dr. Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL

  46. 146
    Jm Eager says:

    Shelama @ 134, yes, forestalling the next glaciation would almost certainly be a good thing in the long run, hence the much discussed target of 350 ppm CO2, which is presumably high enough to do the trick yet not high enough to produce serious negative consequences, unlike 400 ppm, which we know will.

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:

    > CH4(solar energy + catalyst) yields C + (2)H2
    > pure carbon …

    Yeah, if you can work out the problems, but it’s been a while and they haven’t done that yet.

    The efficient removal of the carbon from the catalyst surface in the form of nanotubes may be the key factor influencing catalyst performance.

    Hydrogen Production by Catalytic Decomposition of Methane
    Energy Fuels, 2001, 15 (6), pp 1528–1534
    DOI: 10.1021/ef0101964

    Alternatively, have the carbon deposited in crystalline form as diamonds.
    I understand they, like nanotubes, have many potential industrial uses.

  48. 148
  49. 149
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 29 Dec 2015 @ 8:50 AM, ~#129

    “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Come on Ed, I can bounce around the web and justify just about any proposition. Why not just use Google Scholar to find the very many studies and scholarly articles to get a more balanced understanding of how the mix of renewable energies can be employed to make major reductions in CO2 emissions. A moderately large elephant in the room that is not talked about enough is simple conservation for which technologies are off the shelf. For example think of this- you need only a small amount, or no air conditioning in a properly designed building.


  50. 150
    Theo van den Berg says:

    Referendum: We all know it is rising, but they say it is not. Locally, I have had my coldest December ( MIN 12.4 MAX 39.8 AVR 22.078 over 1409 observations ), because of those bloody clouds and that probably applies to the whole East coast. Would be quite easy to join the NOT. Whole websites dedicated to being smart picking on the other side. What a waste of energy ( pardon the pun ). I know the world is not a democracy, but here in AUS some burning issues are sometimes attempted to be resolved using a Referendum or a Royal Commission. When it works, all the heat goes out of the argument and everyone just moves on.

    Would it be possible / practical to have a World Referendum on Climate Change? Obviously the only participants should be accredited “registered?” Climate scientists i.e. only those who have the qualifications and follow the correct process ( like peer review ). Taking an official “YES or NO, or if YES, then HOW” would be a great thing to table at COP22.
    We’ll probably have to spend a few months blogging who should or should not be on that list and then after COP22, we can all go back to Facebook, knowing that the world will now be actually doing something.