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Unforced Variations: Jan 2017

Filed under: — group @ 2 January 2017

The first open thread of the new year. Your resolution will be to keep the comments focused on science. Try to keep it longer than your resolution to exercise more…

194 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Jan 2017”

  1. 151
    Hugh McTernan says:

    Is it true there is a new gag order at the EPA?

  2. 152
    Solar Jim says:

    Thanks to MA Rodger (#97) for an informative discussion about radiative forcing due to (increasing) atmospheric methane concentration.

    Thanks also to Barton Paul Levenson (#137) for an example of how a calculation can be made for the question he answered. For a solar radiant heat ballpark, the solar constant (1336 W/m2) across the planet’s exposed disk gives about 170,000 TW (terawatt, 10^12 W), with about half reaching the surface. Your 82,200 TW is close to the resultant estimate of 85,000 TW for total incoming energy flow on the planet.

    However, characterizing Arctic heating due to albedo change of 53 TW as “heating is increased 0.006%” is perhaps less informative than realizing that power of that magnitude is more than a half dozen times world electric generating capacity. Since this power is 24/7/365 with no end in site, we may indeed witness catastrophic ramifications.

    And thanks to Mike for keeping us up to date on CO2. Regards to all.

  3. 153
    Thomas says:

    No Interviews – 24 January 2017 – James Hansen

    A lot of requests today for interviews, partly because of Keystone Pipeline being in the news.

    On the surface, little can be said that isn’t obvious from what has been said already.

    Deeper down, the story is complex. I am fed up with both sides.

    I am sore about the Obama Administration’s lack of interest in a settlement of our legal case that could have committed future Administrations to have a plan for reducing emissions, specifically reductions at least as steep as in the Deep Decarbonization plan presented by John Kerry at Marrakesh (80% reduction by 2050). This could have provided a mechanism to constrain irresponsible actions by later Administrations.

    My “no interviews” note engendered some misunderstanding. [hey I know how that feels Jim]

    It was a bit too brief. My point is that we must ration our time onto the most effective actions. The legal front becomes all the more important.

    We missed an opportunity with the last (Obama/Biden)Clinton) Administration.

    Now our work is cut out more clearly, with no time to lose.


  4. 154
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    President Trump has banned employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from giving social media updates and speaking with reporters, according to The Associated Press.

    The EPA ban comes amid other reports of agency staff being restricted from interacting the members of the Congress or the general public.

    BuzzFeed reported Tuesday that the Department of Agriculture instituted a similar ban, telling its employees not to distribute information about research papers or to post on Twitter under the agency’s name. A Tuesday report in the Huffington Post said agency employees under the Department of Health and Human Services were told not to speak to public officials.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to comment on the reports, saying that he wasn’t familiar yet with the specific reported bans. But Spicer said it was natural for a new administration to reconsider agency operations.

    “I don’t think it’s anything surprise that when there’s an administration turnover, that we’re going to review the policy,” Spicer said.

    The social media ban is part of a series of new restrictions at the EPA under the Trump administration. The Huffington Post reported Monday that EPA grants had been frozen, with agency employees barred from speaking of the matter.

    Myron Ebell, who leads the Trump EPA transition, confirmed the grant freeze to ProPublica.
    “They’re trying to freeze things to make sure nothing happens they don’t want to have happen, so any regulations going forward, contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first,” Ebell told ProPublica.

    Trump’s pick for EPA director, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has frequently challenged agency policy in court.

  5. 155
  6. 156
    Dan says:

    “We missed an opportunity with the last (Obama/Biden)Clinton) Administration.”

    Epic critical thinking failure there. Repeating that disingenuous statement for the umpteenth time a. is a strategy straight from (ironically) Trump and the GOP and b. does not make it any more true.

    A truthful statement would have been “We missed an opportunity due to the GOP being in lockstep to prevent significant action from being taken.” But no, of course it is easier, intellectually lazy (and wrong) for you to blame the previous Democratic administrations. Again and again and again.

  7. 157
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Big plans for EPA

    Super Swan got his hands on the Trump team’s “Agency Action” plan for the EPA. It’s a tightly-held document that fleshes out Trump’s campaign promises to gut the agency. It’s the handiwork of Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment. Trump appointed Ebell, a prominent opponent of climate change activists, to lead the EPA transition.

    Our takeaway: Environmental Protection Agency is set for an absolute hammering under Trump.

    The deets:

    —”Potential opportunities for budget reductions”: A category that includes $513 million in cuts to the “states and tribal assistance grants” … $193 million in savings from terminating climate programs … $109 million in savings from “environment programs and management.”

    Listed as initiatives to stop: “Clean Air Act greenhouse gas regulations for new (NSPS) and existing (ESPS or the ‘Clean Power’ Plan) coal and natural gas power plants … [CAFE] Standards … Clean Water Section 404: Waters of the U.S. Rule (wetlands) … TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for Chesapeake Bay.
    “Key opportunities”: “Issue an executive order barring EPA from overruling federal/state regulatory/permit decisions unless in clear violation of established law.”
    Changing the way the EPA uses science: “Unless major reforms of the agency’s use of science and economics are achieved, EPA will be able to return to its bad old ways as soon as an establishment administration takes office.”

  8. 158
    chris korda says:

    It’s been five years since I commented here, and meanwhile it seems we’ve moved from the frying pan to the fire. Yesterday I perused the Keeling data set for good cheer, but alas, no matter how I plot the data I see no hint of a beneficial deflection. My attempted curve fitting (doubtless Tamino-unworthy) suggests 450 ppm will be upon us in a mere twenty years, but even that might be too optimistic. Could that ugly bump at the end of the data be an inflection point? It’s too early to say of course, one hopes not, but if the 4th-order fit should prove more predictive… 480 ppm by 2035? Seriously? No wonder Kevin Anderson’s presentations are so caustic. He might have a point about the ostrich.

  9. 159
    Charles Hughes says:

    Moderators: Can you get Thomas his own thread. He’s taking up a good 40% of the comments and 90% of his 40% isn’t worth reading. Thanks in advance!

  10. 160
    John Pollack says:

    Am I missing something that the experts on this site would care to comment on? I was startled by the Hoffman et. al. paper in Science concluding in part that global temperatures during the last interglacial (LIG) were “indistinguishable from the 1995 to 2014 mean” rather than being significantly warmer.

    I had been thinking that a substantial reason for the 1.5-2.0C proposed limit on global warming (already a very difficult target) was to keep us below the 6-10m sea level rise that resulted when the LIG reached a tipping point at about that amount of warming.

    If this paper is correct, we’re already blowing past that tipping point, with little sign of hitting the brakes on fossil fuel burning. So, is this a major paper, off the mark, my misinterpretation, or am I just catching up to current thinking?

  11. 161
    David B. Benson says:

    Looks to be the best explanation of glacial cycling:
    And the write up is clear.

  12. 162
    Peter Lang says:

    I would like to ask a question, but not sure where or how to lodge it to get an answer. I’ve asked before but received no response.

    Can anyone please advise if there is a better, more widely accepted, chart of global temperatures during the Phanerozoic Eon than Scotese’s Figure 15 here: ?

  13. 163
    Peter Lang says:

    Is Scotese’s 2015 chart of Phanerozoic Global Temperature accepted as roughly correct? Ref. Figure 15 here: .

    If not, is there a similar chart that is accepted as more correct? By similar I mean with vertical axis in global average temperature degrees C (not T change), and covering the Phanerozoic with same scale for the 542 Ma.

  14. 164
    Thomas says:

    Little Known Knowledge that applies to Climate Scientists and mostly everyone else.

    George Lakoff – How Systemic Causation Affects Sustainability

  15. 165
    Thomas says:

    How Trump Won & How All Can Win-Win Now! Dr. George Lakoff Dec.2016

    Dr. Lakoff will explain how words, metaphors, and framing were used in this 2016 US election, how voters were influenced, and it’s not what most think happened. (nor in 2008 when Obama was elected using his own NLP version of metaphors and framing ‘promises’)

    Here is what we need to learn and do now to move forward for the good of all and the planet’s ecosystems with tools he suggests. Dr. Lakoff describes characteristics of conservatives, moderates, liberals and progressives … including in terms of how their brains and minds work.
    A short radio chat of only 1:49hrs ;-)

    There is no ideology of the Moderate. There is a distinct absence of emotional bias in the Moderate. There is no fanaticism nor entrenched religiosity driving the Moderate.

  16. 166
    Thomas says:

    156 Dan says: “But no, of course it is easier, intellectually lazy (and wrong) for you to blame….”

    Dear Dan, if you have an issue with what was copied and pasted to this blog FYI and others, please do take it up with the author himself: DR James Hansen, Columbia University. Here’s his email address may be found here:

    Go for it!

    There’s a reason why I (and other genuine posters here) usually include ref urls. Even if it is a complete waste of high quality pixels flying through cyber-space for your benefit. (winking right back at ya!)

  17. 167
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    155 – “Are scientists going to march on Washington?”

    That has been my repeated suggestion over the last decade or so.

  18. 168
    Thomas says:

    #159 Charles Hughes up to your post # the calculated figures come up at 28.93% of this months UV thread. But thanks for the positive feedback. Your repetitive opinion is again noted and being taken into consideration. TY.

    fyi the 28.93% includes many posts submitted as replies to folks specifically speaking to me or asking me a question or asking a general question here.

    All posts here have been approved by the Moderators. Even your own. You should post some more of your wisdom and knowledge far more often, but only if you wish to. I wouldn’t want to be accused of telling other people what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their own life. I have far too much respect for others than to do that. :-)

    Maybe this website could help? (only joking … wink!)

    Wishing you a successful, fulfilling and joyful year ahead Charles!

    “War is Over (If you want it)” John and Yoko

  19. 169
    Jon Kirwan says:

    160: John Pollack says: “Am I missing something that the experts on this site would care to comment on? I was startled by the Hoffman et. al. paper in Science Regional and Global Sea-Surface Temperatures During the Last Interglaciation concluding in part that global temperatures during the last interglacial (LIG) were “indistinguishable from the 1995 to 2014 mean” rather than being significantly warmer.

    Hadn’t noticed their report until you mentioned it. Thanks. Figure 1E in their report makes the point stronger, too. I believe the following image with attributions qualifies as fair-use:

    It is only at the very peak of the last inter-glacial that it becomes indistinguishable. It otherwise looks to my ignorant eye as significantly cooler.

    Thanks for the reference to look up. Appreciated.

  20. 170
    Jon Kirwan says:

    I wonder if we’ll be seeing commentary from any of the current permanent contributors, after 1/27/2017 anyway, to this site. Those who might be impacted by the current administration’s spate of executive orders. It’s not as though such commentary happens often. It doesn’t. It happens about as often as it should, I think. (I’m very happy with the level and scope of it.) But it’s also not so that you can hear a pin drop. So I’m curious and will be looking to test the predictive power of this hypothesis.

  21. 171
    Thomas says:

    short extract from the lecture by Prof George Lakoff:

    “You can only understand what your brain allows you to. That facts that come in that do not fit what’s in your brain will largely be either ignored, ridiculed, or just dismissed.

    “And that’s a very good reason why it is the case that most conservatives like the science of fracking – they don’t like the science of global warming. Because it does not fit the idea of “free markets” and of the idea of “personal and not social responsibility”. That is part of who they are.”

    “And if your brain is like that there are some things that you are not going to get simply because some people tell you the facts.”


    “There’s a phenomenon in cognitive science called Hypocognition. The lack of Ideas you need. And there’s a lot of ideas we need but don’t yet have.”

    My comment:

    Now if one can understand the interacting parts of systemic causation in the climate system and the subsequent rise of global warming then you are well on the way to also seeing and understanding the very same systemic causation inherent in the global economy as well.

    The next step is recognizing the bound connection between both systems. The most logical and effective solutions to global warming then become self-evident, clear, logical and obvious. These are the Ideas you need.

    But the first step has to be helping (and not harassing) those with “brains” that do not as yet allow the “facts” to get in.

    The solution is educating them (the Public and Policy makers) about the importance and reality of “systemic causation” which is not “a frame” with metaphor we are born with nor learn about as children.

  22. 172
    David B. Benson says:

    Peter Lang @163 — Yes, it is roughly correct. I do emphasize the roughly.

  23. 173
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Re: 164 – excellent link.

  24. 174
    mike says:

    January 22 – 28, 2017 406.48 ppm
    January 22 – 28, 2016 403.12 ppm

    Noisy number. 3.36 ppm increase over last year. Not where we want to be. We have blown past Dr. Mann’s barrier number of 405. Anybody want to talk about that? In the Lakoff frame of communication, I think it is much better to frame our discussion of global warming in the context of where we are now and how we get back to a lower number that would produce the more predictable climate of the Holocene. The Anthropocene is not where we want to live. Let’s make climate great again. Let’s go back to the good old days of the Holocene.

    Instead of framing the discussion in terms of temperature rise in the future, we need to frame the discussion in terms of how we reduce ghg accumulation and restore the Holocene climate. I know that’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s less ridiculous than persisting in a communication pattern that does not reach a large number of human beings. That communication failure is partly responsible for recent political outcomes. Connect the dots, kemosabe.


  25. 175
    Thomas says:

    Hey Chuck, two years ago and more RC’s UVs used get over 500+ comments per month. I suppose that now it only gets ~200 is all my fault too? :-)

  26. 176
    MA Rodger says:

    Peter Lang @ 162/163.
    Your earlier enquiry about graphics of 500 million year global temperature records was all the way back @145, so not long ago. I considered your then enquiry a little odd as you referenced a 2014 RealClimate post ‘Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?’ saying it didn’t achieve what you hoped for and then offered a Scotese 2015 graphic as being your state-of-the-art graphic. Yet that RealClimate post catagorised Scotese’s 1999 & 2008 graphics as “bad graphs” saying:-

    “Scotese is an expert in reconstructions of continental positions through time and in creating his ‘temperature reconstruction’ he is basically following an old-fashioned idea (best exemplified by Frakes et al’s 1992 textbook) that the planet has two long-term stable equilibria (‘warm’ or ‘cool’) which it has oscillated between over geologic history. This kind of heuristic reconstruction comes from the qualitative geological record which gives indications of glaciations and hothouses, but is not really adequate for quantitative reconstructions of global mean temperatures. Over the last few decades, much better geochemical proxy compilations with better dating have appeared (for instance, Royer et al (2004)) and the idea that there are only two long-term climate states has long fallen by the wayside.
    “However, since this graphic has long been a favorite of the climate dismissives, many different versions do the rounds, mostly forwarded by people who have no idea of the provenance of the image or the lack of underlying data, or the updates that have occurred. Indeed, the 2004 version is the most common, having been given a boost by Monckton in 2008 and many others. Most recently, Patrick Moore declared that this was his favorite graph.”

    You will appreciate why folk here were not queuing up to respond to your enquiry.
    The Scotese 2015 graphic appears not to have been properly published but remains effectively a conference paper. Note the graphic on that link asking the question “How confident are we that all this is Correct?”
    Even as a proposed 500-million-year-long average global temperature record, it raises a multitude of questions. Not least why it’s 2015 estimate puts the 2016 average temperature only 0.7ºC above pre-industrial? Why it sets a post anthropogenic warming at 6ºC above pre-industrial (although with a ? appended)? Why it sets the LGM at only 1.4ºC below pre-industrial? And perhaps most relevant, what the estimated global temperature of, say, the Late Ordivician Icehouse (which is going to be a very approximate estimate) is going to tell a popularist audience?
    The Scotese 2015 graphic is not science. I consider that it tries too hard to be definitive to be taken seriously, assuming it is meant to be serious in the first place.

  27. 177
    Mal Adapted says:

    Charles Hughes:

    Moderators: Can you get Thomas his own thread. He’s taking up a good 40% of the comments and 90% of his 40% isn’t worth reading. Thanks in advance!

    I’m against giving Thomas his own thread. Agreed, at least 90% of his posts aren’t worth reading, but then there’s the 10% that are. Thomas isn’t an AGW-denier, and he does occasionally offer links to good sources. Besides, it’s not hard to skim a thread and just scroll past the comments that don’t appear worthwhile, regardless of who makes them. That goes for Thomas’s comments and responses to them by other commenters. I typically ignore his comments unless RC regulars whom I regard more highly draws my attention to one.

    Beyond that, IMO this blog shouldn’t be heavily moderated. Negative responses to Thomas’s more extreme claims help to frame the scientifically defensible position as the moderate one, while incorrigible AGW-deniers like Victor and Titus, as tiresome as they are, serve to rebut charges that RC is merely an echo chamber for the consensus.

  28. 178
    Thomas says:

    Peaceful Revolutionary Party, 27 January 2017 by James Hansen
    and request for funding support of Columbia’s CSAS, Inc. and Our Children’s Trust legal case.

  29. 179
    Radge Havers says:

    Thomas @ ~ 171 (final paragraph)

    I’m all for that, but…
    in such endeavors the relative impermeability of obdurate materials should be accounted for.

    Note the link that Hank posted on the postpausal syndrome thread:

    And this is well worth a read IMO:

    “Moreover, simple memes are often the constructs of Conservatives, just like simple or direct causality. Thus the Conservative message spreads more easily and efficiently than the Liberal one.”

    “It is worthy of remark that a belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life, while the brain is impressible, appears to acquire almost the nature of an instinct – and the very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason.”
    Charles Darwin: in Descent of Man.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, but maybe build out of the active resistance we now see in response to the constant gas lighting by the abusive Powers That Be.

  30. 180
    S.B. Ripman says:

    Mike #174:
    Kudos for clearly articulating one of the greatest challenges of climate science: “a communication pattern that does not reach a large number of human beings.”
    Check out my comment #75 under “2016 Temperature Records.” Deals with the same issue.
    BTW, thank you for your contributions to this site.

  31. 181
    Thomas says:

    Now I’m curious in what makes up this mysterious 10%

    If I actually knew then perhaps I could boost it to 90%? :-)

    However maybe that 10% is different for each individual. Wouldn’t that be funny to know if it was?

  32. 182
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Mal Adapted @177:

    Say what? There is 10% of Thomas’s stuff that is worth reading? I gave up long ago – too long-winded. He must get paid by the word.

    Thomas @[well, everywhere]:

    Hey, dude. If you can figure out on your own which 10% is worth reading, and cut out the other 90%, you just might get your message across to more readers.

  33. 183
    Thomas says:

    182 Bob Loblaw, thanks bob but I am not a mind reader nor a psychic.

  34. 184
    Thomas says:

    Ok, this story is somewhat left-field but imho quite relevant to this site. One reason is Oil production and prices, the other reason is the (should be) well-known demands made by Saudi Arabia in all the IPCC summary for Policy Makers reports.

    It might even more relevant to UK and USA residents who pay their Taxes, and how your Govts tend to spend quite large amounts of $ for decades keeping the Saudis and Gulf States really happy, and their populations content and living Tax Free.

    Information Asymmetry is the bain of all existence, and not so much the contemporary ‘post-truth’ assertions. It’s always been a post-truth world. :-)

  35. 185
    Thomas says:

    anecdotal temps: mentioned Sydney AU recently, turns out January cracked a new record as the hottest month ever in 158 yrs since record were kept. 9 days above 35C plus very warm nights. Several other towns/regions made new records for # of days above 35C and 40C. It’s hot, and mainly dry. Given AU broke over 350 records a few years back during a long heat wave drought period, I think these new records are significant and a bad start to the year. No cyclones as yet.

    I see things have been really hot in Sth America with some major fires in Chile, coming after that extraordinary hot winter spring with early fires in Canada last year. Then there’s all the action in the arctic still with above avg temps and low ice extent.

    I saw in one report by Gavin earlier in January his “guesstimate” for 2017 was for another record global mean temp yr. and he was not at all happy in climate forecasts becoming a reality so soon.

    Some Doctors in WA have started a campaign about climate change now being a major public health issue in need of urgent attention by everyone incl Govts and the Health system generally. Many hands make light work. The more the merrier imo.

  36. 186
    Thomas says:

    A Great Little Quote:
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt

  37. 187
    zebra says:

    With regard to Thomas:

    Saying everything is the same as saying nothing.

    Somewhere in the past, a writing teacher failed at his or her job. The moderators should set an automated restriction on wordcount per comment and number of comments– it would be a kindness, and perhaps ameliorate the consequences of that failure.

  38. 188
    MA Rodger says:

    The Arctic SIE continues its lacklustre winter freeze-up. (Whilst NSIDC’s chArctic page and JAXA’s VISHOP page plot year-on-year daily SIE, the year-on-year SIE anomaly (See here, usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’) is perhaps more instructive.)

    Yet the first point of note to occur during 2017 will surely be occuring down in the Antarctic where SIE looks to soon to be setting new minimum SIE values.
    The wibbles & wobbles of Antarctic SIE (time series of SIE/SIA anomaly plotted here (2 clicks)) contained a small increase in SIE levels 1979-2011, but then followed a big icy excursion that lasted to mid-2015. From that time the SIE bounced around with middling values until mid-September last year when it dropped to the bottom of the pack. And then in early November it dropped again, recording values well below previous and where it has remained ever since.
    We are now approaching the point when 2017 Antarctic SIE will drop below the record. JAXA’s record is 2.25m sq km set in 1997 (current value 2.47m) & NSIDC’s record 1997 2.29m sq km (currently 2.59m sq km – 0.30m sq km above the record and dropping at 0.05m sq km a day, a slowing rate (it was 0.08msq km/day last week) but continuing to drop at a faster rate than previous low-ice years, and with the usual minimum SIE still 3 weeks off.
    Of course, any immediate shock-horror should be set in the context of the past record of wibbles & wobbles which was most strikingly that big icy wobble of 2011-15.

  39. 189
    Peter Backes says:

    March for Science – Good idea?

    You guys going? If so, were can I sign up to take a few climate scientists out to dinner?

  40. 190
    Ric Merritt says:

    I scroll past folks like Thomas. Too much dross. If there’s any gold, sorry, I’ll miss it.

  41. 191
    Peter Lang says:

    #176 M A Rogers,

    You dd not answer my question, which is: “Is there a better chart of Phanerozoic global temperature than Scotese’s 2016 chart?“.

    In the absence of a better chart – that is supported by the climate science community – I have no other to refer to. Those posting here claim to know about climate science. Why can’t you simply post a link to a better chart and explain why it is preferred? The fact everyone here has dodged the question, suggests there is nothing better (despite 30 years of intensive climate research) and you don’t want to admit it. Your comment also suggests you either didn’t read the working paper or didn’t understand it.

  42. 192
  43. 193
    ThomasThePersecuted :-) says:

    a snippet from Neven’s site – some regions above zero this week? Anomalies reaching +30 Celsius all days Feb 1 – Feb 8 (Climate Reanalyzer). Svalbard Airport extremely warm until Feb 10, what will be February average there (long-term average -16.2 Celsius)?,1611.msg101422.html#msg101422

    Is it hot enough yet? :-)

  44. 194
    ThomasThePersecuted :-) says:

    Curiouser and curiouser spins the world on her axis…
    Deputy Prime Minister and the Nationals leader says he would not oppose taxpayers subsiding the building of new coal-fired plants in Australia

    Are we winning the climate debate yet?