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Unforced Variations: March 2017

Filed under: — group @ 3 March 2017

This month’s open thread.

343 Responses to “Unforced Variations: March 2017”

  1. 301
    Mal Adapted says:

    Gavin, to Thomas:

    Your participation here is welcomed, but remember that this is not just a forum for you.

    Thank you, Gavin, for setting a reasonable standard. One sincerely hopes the signal-to-noise ratio on RC improves henceforth.

  2. 302
    sidd says:

    Geoengineering with stratospheric injection of water, alumina, CaCO3 launches now

    mmm. anyone with a balloon and a bag of talc can play. what could go wrong ?


  3. 303
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Carbon Capture and Storage: A 2 Degree Solution

  4. 304
    TPP85 says:

    Could someone explain why they have been so few attention of media people (both sides of Atlantic) on the logical-but-shocking record of annual temperature in 2016, 1 very short year after Paris conference which was quite successful in communicating how seriously is the matter.
    This is surprising because modern media generally put the focus on shocking news.

    I must say that I have already my own answers but I’m interested in seeing yours.

  5. 305
    MA Rodger says:

    I haven’t read Brand et al (2016) but thought that the full text may be useful to the discussion here. It was a very quick scan of the full paper that noted the “may” discrepancy.
    I will sit down and read it and report back but I would not expect Brand et al (2016) to present any new “important lessons for humanity and the problems associated with climate change in the 21st century.”

    In my understanding, the methane-from-melting-Arctic issue is of two flavours.
    ♣ The first is melting tundra. This can also be divided into two considerations. So, the volumes of carbon involved are potentially massive but the vast majority of that carbon will (we hear) appear as CO2 and not CH4. Of course, that CO2:CH4 ratio is an estimate and it doesn’t take a large shift in that ratio before the CH4 does become significant.
    Also, melting tundra is a slow process which relies on continued periods of elevated temperature in areas of tundra. This means that any CH4 emissions will be spread out over decades/centuries so the resulting impact on maximum atmospheric CH4 level will not have a chance to rise that far. Of course, the flip-side is that the process we set in motion today will continue as a source of CO2 (and a little CH4) for a very very long time, unless tundra temperatures begin to fall back to historical levels.
    ♣ Second is the sub-ocean sources of CH4 which kicked off a big discussion back in 2013. I don’t see any change to the general conclusions reached at the time, although note that there remians a contention as to what those conclusions actually were. Thus the minority view, Shakhova et al (2015) suggest “the ESAS region has important implications not only for atmospheric CH4 concentrations but also, given CH4’s potency as a greenhouse gas, for the global climate.”

  6. 306
    Fred Magyar says:

    sidd @ 302

    “Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School”

    Let me guess, another engineer who didn’t take any courses in biology and ecosystems. You’d hope that at the very least they would take chaos theory and non linear dynamics…

  7. 307

    #296, T. Marvell–

    “Don’t believe Chinese PR.”

    One does well to take official Chinese pronouncements with a grain of salt. However, I think that the government isn’t quite as “decentralized” as all that. Yes, the regional/provincial/municipal governments don’t automatically toe the line instantaneously, which is one reason that, for example, it has been tough for the central committee to close inefficient SOEs (“state-owned enterprises.”)

    However, the central government is not without ways of making its desires felt. One thing we do know for sure without reference to central pronunciamentos: the trend in Chinese coal imports is downwards.

    I would also add that while it may be true that there have problems getting solar capacity connected to the grid, it would be pretty naive to think that it is allowed to sit useless indefinitely. There is some relevant discussion here:

  8. 308

    Meanwhile, Trump spokesman Mick Mulvaney sees:


  9. 309
    Hank Roberts says:

    P.S. — worth a look, the site is sane on climate change, and appropriately skeptical about bogosity and netwit commenters generally:

    which includes a link to this thoughtful piece from a while back:

  10. 310
    Hank Roberts says:

    I wonder what effect acid rain has on solar collectors …

  11. 311
  12. 312
    Chuck Hughes says:

    “Oh well, I’m sure Hillary would have done the same thing.

    And once again we see the unique combination of authoritarianism, incompetence and ignorance that have made the Trump Administration what it is today.

    The CO2 rules were the result of a rule-making process under the Administrative Procedures Act. Rules implemented under an APA rule making proceeding cannot simply be swept aside by executive order. It takes another rule making proceeding, based upon a rational interpretation of the relevant statute, rational as in “this is a rational way to execute the statutory mandate of Congress.” That process occurred as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ruled CO2 was, in fact, as “pollutant” under the plain language of the Clean Air Act and the EPA was therefore required to regulate point-source emissions to abate the pollution.

    But the Make America Great Dictator thinks he can rule by decree, creating, executing and interpreting the law. And now we get to pay a needless bill for Justice to try to defend the indefensible in yet another protracted piece of litigation, one where government is likely to be taxes with the other side’s attorney fees.” – commenter at TPM

  13. 313
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    305: MA Roger: taking a look at the global CH4 graph since 1980 indicates that it is now clearly in an accelerating phase over the last decade or so. Tundra to me doesn’t seem as bad as it could be since it is greening at a phenomenal rate. Roots getting deep into the soil activating soil microbes etc injecting O2 into the topsoil. This will create mainly CO2 emissions rather than CH4. I am more concerned about the east siberian arctic seas. It has been proven that the unprecedented ocean warming is extending far deeper than previously believed. The vast majority of the CH4 clathrate are located in relatively shallow depths. In most cases the CH4 plumes as they rise cannot get absorbed by the seawater fast enough and easily outgass into the atmosphere. Cheers.

  14. 314
    Hank Roberts says:

    Publishing in Nature Scientific Reports, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and a group of colleagues at research institutes in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands find that at least in the spring and summer, the large scale flow of the atmosphere is indeed changing in such a way as to cause weather to get stuck more often.

    The study, its authors write, “adds to the weight of evidence for a human influence on the occurrence of devastating events such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas heat wave and recent floods in Europe.”

    But what does it mean for global warming to alter the jet stream? The basic ideas at play here get complicated fast. The study itself, for instance, refers to “quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) of synoptic-scale waves” as the key mechanism for how researchers believe this is happening ….

  15. 315
    Hank Roberts says:

    Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events

    Michael E. Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kai Kornhuber, Byron A. Steinman, Sonya K. Miller & Dim Coumou

    Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 45242 (2017)

  16. 316
    nigelj says:

    Some people are complaining about too many political or offtopic comments on this article. This might be fair enough.

    I suggest have a separate, additional, article once a month titled something like ” climate change, politics and general issues” The relationship of climate science to politics and economics etc, is sadly pretty big, and quite important. If you don’t wish to read the article, you wouldn’t have to.

  17. 317
    Killian says:

    Mike, the solutions remain, and will always be, simple. E.g., virtually any sequestration effort is sufficient to reverse GHG’s *if* we simplify. That is the key to everything, simplification. It reduces emissions and consumption and makes it possible to go backwards.

    We already know how to do this. The issue is not whether we can, but whether we are willing to.

    CH4: It matters. “The science” has been behind on this iasue all along, just as it was for SLR, ASI, AA melt, etc. It must, due to method always lag. This is not a problem. The problem lies with analysis that stops at the numbers.

    Everything is accelerating. It will continue to. It’s what unstable bifurcating systems do. Chaos, non-linearity.

    Got land? I can help you help your grandkids and the world.


    Chucky-wucky had no hair.

    I, Chucky, am part of restoring ecosystems. The rates of change? I said ten years ago, on this site, this was likely. I specifically said in 2007 we’d find Antarctica had to be affected before 2100 even though Antarctic melt was thought to be a century away. Now? 10ft SLR in 100 years is far from outrageous.

    I have trained people to sequester carbon. I have developed on-line programs to teach design now used by PRI. I have created plans for exponential increases in ecovillage-type communities now being used in the Phillippines. I have created a governance model for a regenerative paradigm.

    I predicted 2016/17 ASI levels a year in advance.

    And more.

    You? “Wah-waah-waa,” as Charlie Brown’s teacher was wont to say. And you voted wrong.

    Buh-bye, Chucky.

  18. 318
    Mr. Know It All says:

    304 – TPP
    2016 has been in the news to some degree. 1 year though is not significant. This year in the Pacific NW we’ve had a cold winter and a cool spring.

    313 – nj
    Yes, I agree such an article would be very popular! Might have to buy some more storage for all the comments! And speaking of that, this interview of Mr. T, might make those who don’t like him actually like him a little bit:

  19. 319
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @299,
    I have now had a read of Brand et al (2016). Unfortunately it isn’t the clearest bit of writing given it is an adventurous narrative, a situation which doesn’t assist the ‘report back’ that I promised @305.
    Of course, you may have your own interpretation of the paper. And also you may have seen the interpretation in the Daily Rail. “Will global warming lead to the APOCALYPSE? Earth’s worst mass extinction was caused by runaway climate change, and experts warn it could happen again.” Yes – this is all soooo ‘tabloid’.

    At face value, the numbers being presented by Brand et al (set out in their Table 3) appear worrying. The end-Permian extinction is found to result from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 and a quadrupling of atmospheric CH4, enough to turn a “catastrophic” permian climate into an “apocalyptic” one. And today, are we not well on the way to a doubling/quadrupling of CO2/CH4? Well done us, at face value.

    What Brand et al (2016) doesn’t set out so well is the size and context of those end-Permian climate forcings and how their findings fit with the findings of previous studies.
    So what is it that made the end-Permian so apocolyptic? It probably wasn’t temperature of itself as we have temperature reconstructions boldly showing the end-Permian was not as hot as say the PETM. And ditto CO2 levels. So we could be talking the size of the chemical impact of the methane spike along with potential bacterialogical effects. Could be!! That we do not know the story of Permian climate (other than it began very cold and ended very hot) makes it difficult to pronounce on any lessons to be learned.

    Prior to the end-Permian there had already been at least one Permian extinction event (the End-Capitanian extinction event). The climate forcings (CO2, CH4, solar) suggest a warmer start-point for the end-Permian events, one that would be beyond-catastrophic for today’s human civilisation, to which more warming would be required for an end-Permian-style apocalyse to be initiated with yet more warming.

    The end-Permian and the PETM suggest that methane clathrates (not necessarily in polar regions) can give a hot climate a scorching kick-up-the-backside. But mankind would be stupid-in-the-extreme to precipitate such a hot-house climate, even if it wouldn’t lead up to the end-Permian/PETM kick-up-the-backside. Given this, I therefore disagree with Brand et al (2016) in that I do not see in the end-Permian “important lessons for humanity and the problems associated with climate change” especially so within the context of “the 21st century.”

  20. 320
    zebra says:

    nigelj 316,

    I enjoyed several conversations with you that were clearly “off” the topic of climate science, although obviously related to the current climate crisis.

    However, asking the moderators to provide a completely open forum seems unfair– they have to do the moderation, after all, and dealing with on topic or related comments is more than enough work.

    This monthly open thread seems to be OK when they exercise just enough control to eliminate the compulsive commenters and obvious Denialist trolls.

    Just my opinion, of course, but I am content if I don’t have to scroll past dozens of repetitive rants from “certain individuals”.

  21. 321
    TPP85 says:

    For your information, but you probably know it.

    They tried to get this website into the shade with releasing a website called RealClimateScience and trying to reach 1st place on Google.

    Actually, it depends on time and platform. If you are lucky, you have RealClimate” first. But if you are not, this is RealClimateScience and you can not see RealClimate. I hope they waste more time and money than you do.

  22. 322
    Disgusted says:

    President Petty and the Party Of Spite strike again!


  23. 323
    mike says:

    Daily CO2

    March 28, 2017: 409.47 ppm

    March 28, 2016: 406.02 ppm

    spikey day

    CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, temperatures rise. Oceans warm and polar icecap melts. Top of the planet warms significantly and thaws permafrost that transitions to a signifiant new source of carbon dioxide. At some point, the methane clathrates are released from Arctic Ocean floor and we get a spike in methane and temp rise.

    This is the ballgame. I don’t see a lot of temperature rise constraints on the horizon.

    Warm regards


  24. 324
  25. 325
    sidd says:

    I thank Professor Mann for his recent testimony and many years of work.

  26. 326
    Dread Not says:

    Here Here Michael Mann! One against three, yet I’ve no doubt you acquited yourself admirably. Shades of a modern day Galileo. At least you haven’t been placed under house arrest. Yet.

    The skeptics call for a “red team” to shadow every waking thought of climate scientists is just so sooo asinine. Next we’ll have “Red Teams” of pseudo experts for any and all settled science with which we disagree (Red Team. It just sounds so impressive doesn’t it?). Don’t agree that evolution is an accepted fact? Red Team it! Want to push astrology into astronomy classes? Red Team it! True, science should always be willing to question itself, and does, but this is sooo transparently yet another bid for yet more delay of serious action in favor of BAU.

    Had a talk with my kid today. We got into people, human nature and hidden motivations when people disagree. I mentioned that, for the longest time, I used to believe that all one needs to do if in an argument on these kinds of issues is to simply show people the facts and that will settle it. Next. But no, I’ve since learned the hard way that often it doesn’t matter how much evidence one can muster for his case, some people will just Never accept it. Period. They will hold onto destructive ideas even when the truth slaps them in the face, come hell, high water or even the end of the world (were it to come to that), because they WANT to believe them. Trying to reason with them is an exercise in futility and we’re just wasting our time.

    I’ve been reading accounts of fake news purveyors who made (and still make) a lot of money in the run-up to the election by telling bald-faced lies to right-wingers because they knew that these hyper suspicious people will swallow them whole and then spread them around. These folks believe these stories because they Want to believe them. They simply aren’t interested in truth. Until That changes, until people decide that they no longer want to be lied to, I don’t see a lot of hope.

  27. 327
    mike says:

    Thanks to MAR for the work at 318 (and elswhere). You are a stalwart here with skills. I think the takeaway from Brand is “don’t let CO2 double or you might get a hot world with a methane afterburner.” Yes, I think we know that. So, if baseline is 280 (for the CO2 level our species evolved with), then we should not let things get to 560, and I think it’s safe to assume that is CO2, not CO2e as that would match with Brand and be apples to apples comparison. There is lag in the rise. There are new natural sources of CO2 warming up and coming on line (tundra, etc)that we may not have much control over.

    I agree with Killian at 317, we know what to do, we just have not decided if we are willing to do it. We have to turn off the anthropogenic sources of CO2. Yes, that would require that we simplify, but I think it would also require that a lot of us die as part of that process. That sounds harsh, but research indicates we are all going to die sooner or later with or without the simplify (die already?) approach. And there is reason to think that avoiding the “simplify” routine will not avoid climate-related deaths, it will only push the climate-related deaths onto another group of people, probably our grandkids. It’s a predicament.

    Killian, no, don’t have much land, but we are doing a lot of permaculture stuff with the soil/land that we “own.” Chief Sealth said, we don’t own the earth, the earth owns us.

    Daily CO2

    March 29, 2017: 409.28 ppm
    March 29, 2016: 406.04 ppm

    Dr. Mann said keep it under 405 ppm. Uh-oh.

    Warm regards


  28. 328
    Mr. Know It All says:

    322 Mike

    Canadians and Rooskies are looking forward to increased temperatures. The warm temps will help to grow crops to feed our uncontrolled population growth.

  29. 329
    Dread Not says:

    Ok, I’ve just watched the Mann / Pilke, Christy, Curry congressional “food fight”. Here are some notes.

    1) The debate was stacked 3-1 against Mann. A clear demonstration of the favoritism the Republican Congress puts on the contrarians. Yet as Democrat Suzanne Bonamici stated, to be fair to the reality of their actual ratios, mainstream climate scientists that accept ACC vs contrarians, there should have been be 96 more Michael Manns to the 3 contrarians.

    2) I didn’t understand Congressman Higgins going after Mann demanding to know if he was associated with the Union of Concerned Scientists. The way he pressed Mann, you’d think he was asking, “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the American Nazi Party?”

    3) Carefully watching the contrarians, I began to get the impression that what’s really irking them is that they feel that they are not receiving the attention they deserve from the scientific community. It seems to be about ego. Curry spoke about the mainstream community “squashing” dissenters. But she also stated that it was perpetrating “a manufactured consensus”. So then, according to her, thousands upon thousands of climate related scientists worldwide are involved in a gigantic scam. So then why would she care to be part of such a group? What does she care what they think of her? I also noted that the dissenters tended speak in sweeping generalizations while Mann tended to speak in technical specifics. While often being popularly (and uncritically) accepted (because there’s usually at least some truth to them), generalities can be hard to pin down and disprove, a debate tactic that is a sign of dishonesty in my book.

    4) I wasn’t sure what Curry was even doing on the panel. She seemed to be making stuff up as she went (while carefully trying to cultivate a smug learned veneer). She is supposed to be an expert, yet she kept saying “I don’t know” when cornered. When she said at one point about the observed warming, “I just don’t know how much is human versus how much is natural” I had to wonder what she does know.

    5) While the Republicans launched into their (usual) clever strategy of trying to catch Mann out in his words, and thereby trying to impugn the integrity of the entire scientific community, two congresspersons, who I assume are Democrats, impressed me with the simple, cut-through-the-crap clarity of their comments: Mr. Foster and Ms. Esty. Esty’s straightforward admonitions ought to be a separate post here imo.

    6) On the negative side for Mann was his general demeanor. Sure he felt attacked by being outnumbered. He knows the hearing is a fraud. But he could use a lesson in professional deportment, ala Congressman Foster, who I believe is a physicist. Oftentimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Speak a little calmer, try not to lambast your enemies by name, at least not when you’re sitting right next to them (unless they do so first).

    My take away.

  30. 330

    KIA 328: Canadians and Rooskies are looking forward to increased temperatures. The warm temps will help to grow crops to feed our uncontrolled population growth.

    BPL: CO2 helps plant growth if and only if it is the nutrient available in least supply–Liebig’s “Law of the Minimum.” In nature, the actual nutrient available in least supply is more likely to be water. Since global warming spreads droughts, we can expect it to hurt agriculture, not help it.

    Your homework, should you choose to accept it: Chart the area of a ten-degree latitude band against the mean latitude in that band. It’s a 1 – sin θ curve.

  31. 331
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    @329 “I didn’t understand Congressman Higgins going after Mann demanding to know if he was associated with the Union of Concerned Scientists.”

    I have spoken to dozens of Republicans over the years who insist that the Union of Concerned Scientists is a cabal of Communists who’s purpose is to destroy America and establish a global one world communist government.

    I’m serious. At the core. This is what Republicans are.

    “So then why would she care to be part of such a group? What does she care what they think of her?”

    She puts up a brave face, but in reality she can’t stand the fact that no one takes her nonsense seriously.

    She has proven herself time and time again to be largely incompetent.

    She was never part of any serious scientific debate, and no one of merrit takes her opinions seriously because she has been shown to be wrong on too many occasions.

    So obviously it’s all a conspiracy against her.

    “On the negative side for Mann was his general demeanor.”

    If I were Mann, I would have referred to Lemar Smith as a fraud who is unqualified to judge the validity of the scientific method since he knows nothing about science.

  32. 332
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Note to Michael Mann.

    When you are attacked by a pack of wild dogs, take out the leader first. Then occupy yourself with the coward and the incomptent like Pilke and Currey.

  33. 333
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    330 “Canadians and Rooskies are looking forward to increased temperatures. The warm temps will help to grow crops to feed our uncontrolled population growth.”

    Idiots think that Canadians and Russians will grow crops on the barren rocks scaped clean of soil by glaciation.

    Absolute morons make their idiocy public.

  34. 334
    Greg Simpson says:


    CO2 helps plant growth if and only if it is the nutrient available in least supply–Liebig’s “Law of the Minimum.” In nature, the actual nutrient available in least supply is more likely to be water. Since global warming spreads droughts, we can expect it to hurt agriculture, not help it.

    First of all, not everywhere has the same problems with agriculture. In the far north temperature is much more likely to be a constraint than water. Secondly, if you increase the carbon dioxide you reduce the need for water. Stomata and all that.

    Of course, the warming of the Earth and the acidification of the oceans will be much bigger problems than the small benefits of increased carbon dioxide, but I think it’s wrong to just dismiss them.

  35. 335
    tokodave says:

    KIA 328: Canadians and Rooskies are looking forward to increased temperatures. The warm temps will help to grow crops to feed our uncontrolled population growth.
    TD: 1) You don’t know much about Canadian geography. Google Canadian Shield. 2)Virtually all arable land in Canada is in production. 3) Canada and Russia are foreign countries. If the country formerly known as the United States of America isn’t growing its own food…that’s a problem.

  36. 336

    GS: the warming of the Earth and the acidification of the oceans will be much bigger problems than the small benefits of increased carbon dioxide, but I think it’s wrong to just dismiss them.

    BPL: I’m sure you do.

  37. 337
  38. 338
    David B. Benson says:

    Greg Simpson @334 — Find out the difference between C3 and C4 photosynthesis. I believe you will find that increased carbon dioxide concentration aids the latter rather little. Note which major food crops use C4 photosynthesis. All of those?

  39. 339
    t marvell says:

    There is a good word for this: lysenkoism. That is rulers who think they know more about science than scientists, and the rogue scientists who feed rulers phony ideas.
    The term refers to Stalin’s believe that he could tell that Lysenko’s crazy theory of genetics is more accurate than the scientific consensus, which led to famine.
    There are other examples – Ceausescu, Mbeki – and the consequences are very bad.
    It’s always nice to have a neat derogatory term for things one is combating. Such as “death taxes” for inheritance taxes, and “mass incarceration” for prison populations. We should label Curry and the like as “lysenkos.”

  40. 340

    “First of all, not everywhere has the same problems with agriculture. In the far north temperature is much more likely to be a constraint than water.”

    Not, as has already been pointed out, as much of a constraint as the serious lack of arable soil.

  41. 341
    mike says:

    Daily CO2

    March 30, 2017: 408.86 ppm
    March 30, 2016: 406.00 ppm

    cranking along around the 409 number this week. I see handwriting on the wall that says thawing permafrost and other “natural” sources of atmospheric CO2 have dialed things up. All that warmth at the top of the world seems like an unfortunate thing since we have stored so much methane in the clathrates up there. But, what’s the worst that could happen? Some folks are excited about the growing growing season in the global north. I think that is only slightly interesting as performance art, elevating stupidity to an art form. Hope folks pushing those memes are getting paid to post.

    warm regards all,


  42. 342
    Dread Not says:

    Vendicar Decarian, 331 & 332. Don’t get me wrong, I understand your sentiments. The thing is, who after we trying too convince here? Certainly not the minority of Lamar Smith’s here. As I said in my previous entry, some people will never be convinced so don’t bother. The reason Mann was there is for those others, the majority who are listening in the background.

    Yes scientists can right cultivate a certain, I’m right and you’re wrong demeanor, especially in circumstances like this. A sorry of Superior air. But that can come off as unprofessional, every childish. If it we’re me up there is probably have as hard a Time keeping my cool as Dr Mann did. But they’re is too much at stake to do what you have the right to do. People respect people who are rise above the rancor the dogs fight.

  43. 343
    Ken says:

    Would be great if you could update this post with the latest sources of information…

    Data Sources
    Filed under: — group @ 27 November 2009
    This page is a catalogue that will be kept up to date pointing to selected sources of code and data related to climate science. Please keep us informed of any things we might have missed, or any updates to the links that are needed.