Unforced variations: Apr 2017

This month’s open thread.

153 comments on this post.
  1. David B. Benson:

    An unusual change:
    which only took a day.

  2. Chris Machens:

    Made a summary video of the recent Nature study on abrupt Atlantic cooling, and earlier findings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li3-JdXIjc4

  3. Digby Scorgie:

    MA Rodger @98

    So how many kinds of denier do we have now? Psychopaths — who know climate change is real but wage war on the science because mitigating climate change would hurt their profits. Anarchists — who detest any form of government regulation and foresee such regulation as part of climate action. Hedonists — who fear that climate action will curtail their current unsustainable lifestyle. Any others?

  4. mike:

    Joe Romm at Thinkprogress has a post up
    about methane and thawing permafrost. Here is a quote from that:

    “most models of thawing permafrost assume only CO2 is created. If, as it appears, a lot of methane is being generated, then we’ll see even more extra warming than scientists have projected.

    Second, a recent study found global warming will defrost much more permafrost than we thought”

    The “recent study” is not easy to find, appears to have link error, but is Chadburn et. al. I think.
    As seems to be the case with these things, as scientists learn more and/or increase their understanding, our global situation seems more dire. I wonder about a couple of things here:

    first, is it true that most models of thawing permafrost assume only CO2 creation? If true, this is an epic fail of scientific imagination. It is not a huge leap to think about thawing permafrost and assume both methane and CO2 releases.

    I know it often creates a small, defensive uproar to point out that model construction has consistently been flawed in ways that minimize the danger of our situation, but really… if you are permafrost thaw modeler, can you defend that particular science if most models assume only CO2 release?

    Daily CO2

    April 16, 2017: 409.52 ppm
    April 16, 2016: 408.10 ppm

    I think we are seeing the 2016 EN CO2 bump in the current comparison now. I believe that underlying rate of increase continues at 2.5 to 3.0 ppm, but we will see something more like 1.5 ppm in a comparison of 2017 to 2016 unless we suddenly flip into a 2017 EN state and that seems unlikely (but not impossible) to me.

    Weekly CO2 number

    April 9 – 15, 2017 408.85 ppm
    April 9 – 15, 2016 408.81 ppm

    nice to see an almost flat number, but I think it’s a blip related to the 2016 EN CO2 runup. I would love to see inverted CO2 numbers develop with an actual drop in 2017 CO2 number when compared to 2016 CO2 number. Almost made that level with numbers this past week, but I am not excited about that because as I said, I think it’s a blip. Time will tell.

    How about a post about the models for permafrost thaw and ghg release question?

    Warm regards


  5. Alastair McDonald:

    There is a video here from Noam Chomsky which explains why we should all go on the March for Science.

  6. Eric Swanson:

    MAR #98 – That paper by Loehle & McCulloch (2008) was a “correction” to a previous paper by Loehle (2007) which was amply debunked by Gavin on RC when it was published. I provided some of the input to that RC post and when the later paper appeared, I later sent a letter to the Editor of E & E, which was eventually published in September 2008, long after the appearance of Loehle and McCulloch (2008). And, the uncorrected 2007 paper is the first on that long list of papers which the denialist claim show there’s no warming. That the NIPCC denialist camp still references the uncorrected paper just shows their dishonesty, IMHO.

  7. MA Rodger:

    mike @104,
    Post El Nino, the annual rise in CO2 is continuing to drop as shown here (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’) and is now sitting roughly at 2ppm/year. The figures from last week added a bit of a kick to that downward path but a rise so small (0.04ppm/year for the week) is not likely to be repeated as last week was a week measured against the week back in 2016 with the highest CO2 ppm of the year (indeed highest ever recorded until last week). The next half-dozen weeks will be gauged against a value from last year of roughly 407½ppm so the latest daily measurements sitting at 409ppm -409½ppm would further reduce the short-term rolling average a little. Of course, at a weekly scale the peak ppm for 2017 may turn out higher than 409½ppm.

  8. MA Rodger:

    And NOAA have also posted for March showing continuing ””scorchyisimo!!!” but perhaps not quite as emphatically as NASA (see above @91). The NOAA March global anomaly is posted at +1.05ºC (significantly higher than the +0.96ºC February value).
    March 2017 becomes equal-fifth hottest month on the full record (NASA – fourth hottest) behind 1st-place March 2016. 2nd Feb 2016, 3rd Dec 2015, 4th Apr 2016 & equal to Jan 2016. March 2017 is the 2nd hottest March on record (behind 1st-place March 2016 (+1.23ºC) and ahead of 3rd-place March 2015 (+0.90ºC), 4th-place March 2010 (+0.85ºC) and 5th-place March 2002 (+0.79ºC), the same years as NASA but a little different in order.
    In the NOAA record, the start of 2017 is also looking ”scorchyisimo!!!” The first three months of 2017 are well above the first three months of all other years excepting last year which was of course boosted by an El Nino. The highest-ranked first-3-months averages look like this:-
    .. .. .. NOAA .. .. ..| .. .. ..NASA
    2016 .. +1.16ºC ..| .. 2016 .. +1.24ºC
    2017 .. +0.97ºC ..| .. 2017 .. +1.04ºC
    2015 .. +0.86ºC ..| .. 2015 .. +0.86ºC
    2002 .. +0.76ºC ..| .. 2010 .. +0.81ºC
    2010 .. +0.75ºC ..| .. 2002 .. +0.81ºC
    2007 .. +0.74ºC ..| .. 2007 .. +0.79ºC
    1998 .. +0.70ºC ..| .. 1998 .. +0.71ºC
    2004 .. +0.67ºC ..| .. 2014 .. +0.67ºC

  9. Digby Scorgie:

    Alastair McDonald @105

    My wife and I will be participating in the March for Science in Christchurch, New Zealand while you guys in America are still snoring away in bed.

  10. Russell:

    Snore on, Anzacs,- the Christchurch march will not go down in the annals of heroic Feminism:


  11. MA Rodger:

    Eric Swanson @103.
    It is true that Craig Loehle has serious denialist credentials. If nothing else, co-authors he has written papers with include Nicola Scarfetta, Willis Eschenbach & Fred Singer.
    The findings of Loehle & McCulloch (2008) do however find a place in the bag of NH hockeysticks shown in UN IPCC AR5 Figure 5-07a (marked as LM08ave). It does have wobbles of larger size than most of its fellow hockeysticks, wobbles placed where denialists like to see them, but it remains a convincing hockeystick, as the graphic I link to @98 demonstrates. (I note that I perhaps should have used NOAA NH temperatures in that graphic, a refinement which would have increased the size of the hockeystick blade.)
    And while we may discuss the deluded denialists at NIPCC using Loehle & McCulloch (2008), note that the NIPCC are not ashamed one jot in grossly misrepresenting/misquoting any reference of whatever merit, a tactic they resort to at almost every turn.

  12. mike:

    Daily CO2


    April 18, 2017: 410.28 ppm
    April 18, 2016: 407.80 ppm

    Noisy number, but still an all time high! Exstinctio venire!

    MAR at 107: thanks, I looked at the graphs, find them a little dense, not sure I understand all the implications, but I respect your methodology as it has been demonstrated here over the years, so I assume that work is solid.

    I am in this for the long haul, so will watch the numbers and hope you are correct that increase has dropped from 2.5 ppm plus range back into the 2.0 ppm range. Will watch the numbers and time will tell us.

    Of course, the bottom line is that celebration of reduction to 2 ppm increase is folly since we actually have to get flat asap and start knocking the 410 number down.

    Dr. Mann said in 2014 that we should keep it under 405. Whoops.

    Warm regards


  13. mike:

    Pathways for balancing CO2 emissions and sinks:


    Atmospheric flux ratio

    The concept of a carbon budget involves multiple dynamic, interrelated components of the global carbon cycle and can be defined in a number of ways. As a figure of merit, we define an atmospheric flux ratio (RAF) as the ratio of net CO2 emissions (anthropogenic sources minus artificial sinks) to net CO2 uptake by natural sinks (that is, plant, soil and ocean systems).

    Any chance of a review of this paper about the carbon cycle? Anybody up for that?



  14. Hank Roberts:

    some staff retraining at the White House.


    Applause! Russell has nailed that one.

  15. Piotr:

    Digby (109) “So how many kinds of denier do we have now? Psychopaths — who know climate change is real but wage war on the science because mitigating climate change would hurt their profits. Anarchists — who detest any form of government regulation and foresee such regulation as part of climate action. Hedonists — who fear that climate action will curtail their current unsustainable lifestyle. Any other?”

    I can think of at least 3 other kinds:

    – Universal Conspiracy Theorists = a. k.a. people with the urgent psychological need to feel better about themselves: look, everybody else may get fooled, but not me, not me! Which means I must be smarter than everybody else, right? Favourite phrase when thinking about themselves: “fiercely independent”.

    – Republican/Tea Party/”Alt right” – conservation is somethings Commies/Liberals care about, so we will oppose it as matter of principle, particularly that this will benefit our natural constituency (fossil fuel industrial complex). Two birds with a single stone! Take that you tree-huggers!

    – Religious Believer- for instance: Rep. (R) John Shimkus, Illinois,
    the Chairman of the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment:”I believe that is the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it is going to be for his creation. The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.” and quotes his (peer-reviewed?) source (“the Book of Genesis, Chapter 8, Verse 22”)

    “[The Subcommitee Rep. John Shimkus chairs is a part of] the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the oldest standing committees of the United States House of Representatives, established in 1795. It takes a central role in formulating U.S. policy on climate change and global warming.”(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328366/John-Shimkus-Global-warming-wont-destroy-planet-God-promised-Noah.html)

    The right person in the right place … ;-)

  16. Mal Adapted:

    Hank Roberts:

    Applause! Russell has nailed that one.

    Heh. Easy target. Russell does occasionally hit the bullseye, it must nevertheless be said.

  17. Vendicar Decarian:

    “And so, science is a fundamental part of the country that we are. But in this, the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not; what is reliable, what is not reliable; what should you believe, what should you not believe. And when you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    March for Science – Today

    If not now… when?

  18. Russell:




  19. Hank Roberts:


  20. Victor:

    but, but, but . . .


  21. Chris Machens:

    In case you missed it

    Michael Mann at Science March “Policy based on Scientific Evidence!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnT4xy6DKQc

    Bill Nye at Huge Science March Crowd “Science Must Shape Policy!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x507ZlDoc-Y

    Science March Earth Day 2017 Climate Scope Compilation from Washington DC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW9RhCTiw1U

  22. Chris Machens:

    http://350.org recently published a pretty good explanation regarding the frequent question

    Climate Change is a Natural Cycle? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka50tZSdGEY

  23. Vendicar Decarian:

    Former Astronaut Leads March for Science in Los Angeles in Electric Hummer


    Where were you?

  24. Chris Machens:

    This interview went relatively unnoticed

    Bill Nye on March for Science “Trump could be Reelected” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTxwRe-Xmy4

  25. mike:

    Last Week

    April 16 – 22, 2017 409.61 ppm
    April 16 – 22, 2016 407.48 ppm


  26. Kevin McKinney:

    #115, Piotr–

    There’s also straightforward denial in its original psychological sense: it’s too dreadful to think about, so some simply choose not to. It goes along with feeling not a whole lot of personal agency.

  27. Scott Nudds:

    Tens of Thousands Protest ‘Alternative Facts’ at March for Science


    I was there. I didn’t see you there.

    Why not?

  28. Killian:

    mike says:
    20 Apr 2017 at 10:44 AM
    Pathways for balancing CO2 emissions and sinks:


    Atmospheric flux ratio

    The concept of a carbon budget involves multiple dynamic, interrelated components of the global carbon cycle and can be defined in a number of ways. As a figure of merit, we define an atmospheric flux ratio (RAF) as the ratio of net CO2 emissions (anthropogenic sources minus artificial sinks) to net CO2 uptake by natural sinks (that is, plant, soil and ocean systems).

    Any chance of a review of this paper about the carbon cycle? Anybody up for that?



    Here’s a review: Pointless. Why can’t resource limits be acknowledged? Why is organic sequestration so badly underestimated? Why is the assumption always to maintain status quo and meet that demand rather than lowering demand in the first place?

    And, in terms of time, why always the assumption time is aplenty? Why do no studies include within their metrics very rapid climate changes on the order of 2-5C within a decade? All these scenarios where we have a smooth change curve don’t even fit the basic science.


  29. Peter Backes:

    Thoughts on Duane Thresher? I’d like to debunk him on Breitbart.


  30. mike:

    slow moderation is stifling discussion here. maybe that works for the folks who run the site. Hope you don’t lose your day jobs.

  31. Hank Roberts:

    Hat tip to Soylent News:


    A new NASA- and Department of Energy-funded study finds that recent
    increases in global methane levels observed since 2007 are not
    necessarily due to increasing emissions, but instead may be due to
    changes in how long methane remains in the atmosphere after it is

    The second most important human-produced greenhouse gas after carbon
    dioxide, methane is colorless, odorless and can be hard to track. The
    gas has a wide range of sources, from decomposing biological material
    to leaks in natural gas pipelines. In the early 2000s, atmospheric
    scientists studying methane found that its global concentration —
    which had increased for decades, driven by methane emissions from
    fossil fuels and agriculture — leveled off as the sources of methane
    reached a balance with its destruction mechanisms. The methane levels
    remained stable for a few years, then unexpectedly started rising
    again in 2007, a trend that is still continuing.

    Previous studies of the renewed increase have focused on
    high-latitude wetlands or fossil fuels, Asian agricultural growth, or
    tropical wetlands as potential sources of the increased emissions.
    But in a study published today in the early online edition of the
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at
    Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Caltech in Pasadena,
    California; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena,
    suggest that methane emissions might not have increased dramatically
    in 2007 after all.

    [2]Ambiguity in the causes for decadal trends in atmospheric methane and
    hydroxyl (open, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1616020114) ([3]DX)

    Additional reading:


    [5]Original Submission

    Discuss this story at:

    0. https://soylentnews.org/~takyon/
    1. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2017-108&rn=news.xml&rst=6814
    2. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/04/11/1616020114.full
    3. https://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1616020114
    4. http://www.caltech.edu/news/detergent-molecules-may-be-driving-fluctuations-atmospheric-methane-concentrations-54742
    5. https://soylentnews.org/submit.pl?op=viewsub&subid=19694


  32. Generic commenter:

    Should RealClimate have a readily discoverable photo that shows the thickness of earth’s atmosphere? I am having trouble finding it.

  33. David B. Benson:

    More Clovis Comet evidence?
    Enigmatic, I opine.

  34. MA Rodger:

    Here is an interesting thought…..2017 could be the ‘warmest year on record’, and thus in NOAA/GISTEMP the 4th year in a row to come in as ‘warmest year on record’.
    The first three months 0f 2017 have been second warmest on record in NOAA, GISTEMP & BEST data and in all three data sets 2017 has been some distance ahead of third-placed year. (We do await HadCRUT for March.)

    .. .. .. .Jan-to-Mar .. Annual …. … Difference
    2016.. .. 1.21ºC .. .. 0.97ºC .. …. .. -0.25ºC
    2017.. .. 1.07ºC
    2010.. .. 0.83ºC .. .. 0.70ºC .. …. .. -0.13ºC
    2015.. .. 0.80ºC .. .. 0.82ºC .. …. .. +0.02ºC
    2007.. .. 0.77ºC .. .. 0.63ºC .. …. .. -0.14ºC
    2002.. .. 0.75ºC .. .. 0.60ºC .. …. .. -0.15ºC
    2005.. .. 0.69ºC .. .. 0.67ºC .. …. .. -0.02ºC
    2006.. .. 0.67ºC .. .. 0.62ºC .. …. .. -0.05ºC
    1998.. .. 0.65ºC .. .. 0.61ºC .. …. .. -0.04ºC
    2014.. .. 0.63ºC .. .. 0.69ºC .. …. .. +0.06ºC

    Note that the BEST Jan-Mar 2017 anomaly exceeds all BEST annual anomalies and that most of these years in the table are El Nino year (that is an El Nino thro’ the preceeding winter.) This is mirrored in NOAA/GISTEMP and it is only in strong El Nino years that we see the eventual annual anomaly dropping from the Jan-Mar value by an amount that would see 2017 bested for hottest year by 2016. In 2015 & 2014, both non-El Nino years, we actually see an increase between the Jan-Mar value and the annual value.
    The same finding is essentially seen in NOAA/GISTEMP.
    So will the temperature for 2017 be substantially below the 2017 Jan-Mar value? Or will it maintain these “scorchyisimo!!!” levels and deliver another hottest year?
    End-of-year temperatures tend to be boosted a little by a coming El Nino and recent forecasts for ENSO are presently showing an El Nino as the likely state through the autumn/winter.

    So do not be surprised if 2017 ends up as another ‘warmest year on record’.

  35. Chris Machens:

    I’ve previously posted links to Mike’s Science March speech and the one of Bill Nye, somehow they went missing it seems. If someone wants to watch those, click my website link and browse the video uploads.

  36. Scott Strough:

    @113 Mike,

    Thanks for that link. You said, “Any chance of a review of this paper about the carbon cycle? Anybody up for that?”

    I am not really qualified to write a full review on the paper, as I am not a climate science modeler. What I can say is this though. I loved that paper. I don’t even necessarily agree with the numbers they used, but the mechanism for adjusting the models by accounting for changes in Agricultural methods to high yielding regenerative models of production made possible by recent biological & agricultural science advancements.

    When I took my Climate Science course to better communicate with climate scientists I was highly disappointed in the state of the models. There really were no good models I could plug in the recent changes in Ag tech, should they become adopted. They still are not widely adopted, but it is hard to argue for their adoption from the AGW POV, when there were not good models to plug in the data and projections of what could be the result! It was certainly a catch 22.

    Your link shows a very good improvement! Thanks very much for posting this. Now someone can take my proposal https://www.quora.com/Can-we-reverse-global-warming/answer/Scott-Strough and run a few scenarios. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for a much stronger case being made in the journals for BCCS (biological carbon capture and sequestration) in agriculture.

    @116 Hank,
    I was also very happy to see this link too! You quoted, “instead may be due to
    changes in how long methane remains in the atmosphere after it is
    emitted.” This is another area I found a complete blank space regarding biological oxidation of methane effects of agricultural methods in the models. I was again highly disappointed to see that there wasn’t even a mention of the soil methane sink! Even my professor had not even heard of such a thing as agricultural methodology effecting methanotroph activity! This I thought was a huge oversight since of all the CH4 sources and sinks, the biotic sink strength is the most responsive to variation in human activities! I explain that in detail here:

    Two really great posts Mike and Hank. I guess I am not quite so crazy after all!

  37. Hank Roberts:

    for “Generic commenter”


  38. Hank Roberts:

    further for “Generic Commenter” — from the first page of results on that search

    [PDF]Apollo 17 Photograph of Earth with discussion(118K) – ER – NASA
    approximately 40,000 kilometers from Earth, when this picture was taken. Because the … Notice the thickness of Earth s atmosphere along Earth’s limb (the apparent outer edge) in this picture. Why is it so thin? …

    NOTE, choose the Tools dropdown and select VERBATIM to have all the search terms used

  39. Digby Scorgie:

    Piotr @115

    Yes, one can add theocrats to the list of deniers, but I think your other two types are already accounted for. Conspiracy is the excuse some deniers adduce for their denial; those who believe the environment is subservient to the economy are anarchists or hedonists or both. The latter will find out the hard way that you can have an environment without an economy but you can’t have an economy without an environment.

  40. Lawrence Coleman:

    124 Scott Strough: Read your quora article. Really well presented! Surely CH4 from bovine enteric fermentation should be increasing as the number of cattle in the US is increasing? Also the methanotrophs convert the CH4 into CO2 and hydrogen. So the bovine CO2 contribution might be underestimated? Cheers!

  41. sidd:

    There is a paper by Bell et al. doi:10.1038/nature22048 about efficient drainage stabilizing an ice shelf against hydrofracture. So that makes me wonder if such drainage existed on the Larsen shelf prior to that dramatic breakup ? And if not why not ?

    Have we enough imagery to answer that question ? Any ice aficionados here who might comment ?


  42. Brian Dodge:

    Victor, Victor, Victor
    “The cold spell follows a gloriously warm early start to the spring, which saw heights of 25C. However, this brought about an early start to the birch pollen season,….Once the cold temperatures ease, around the middle of the month, temperatures are then predicted to be higher than average.”

  43. Barton Paul Levenson:

    V 120: …snow storms lasting weeks…

    BPL: Okay, for the 1,000th time:

    Weather and climate are two different things. Weather is local, day-to-day variation in temperature, pressure, rainfall, cloud cover, wind velocity and direction, etc. It is chaotic and cannot be predicted more than two weeks or so in advance. Climate, on the other hand, is a statistical average of weather over a large region, or the entirely globe, for thirty years or more. It can be predicted for very long periods of time.

    Another way to put it is that weather is an initial values problem, while climate is a boundary values problem.

    Here are some examples to distinguish the two. I don’t know what the temperature will be on March 3rd in Pittsburgh (weather). But I can safely bet that it will be cooler than on August 3rd (climate). I don’t know what the temperature will be in Cairo, Egypt tomorrow (weather). But I can safely bet that it will be warmer than in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (climate).

  44. Barton Paul Levenson:

    SN 127: I was there. I didn’t see you there. . . . Why not?

    BPL: Probably because I was elsewhere.

    I was present, in fetal form, at the first lunch counter sit-in in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in February 1960. I didn’t see you there.

    Why not?

  45. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Gc 132,

    I don’t know if there’s one here, but there might be:


  46. mike:

    MAR at 134: Well, I hope that 2017 does not extend the string of hottest years on record, but I would not be surprised to be disappointed and see that streak continue. This is a very ugly scenario with the rise of CO2 over the past 20 years and then seeing the impact in terms of global temps, loss of ice caps, etc. Plus, you have to consider that the lag between CO2 emissions and related heat gain is estimated to be 10 years, so our current global temp is most directly related to a CO2 level of 387 ppm which is what the level was about ten years ago. If we could stop the rise, we should expect to see rise in global temp for ten years. There would be some fluctuations of course, enso, ln etc, but generally speaking, ten year lag on heat increase is builtin. And, of course, there is no reason to think that we have the means or will to stop the increase.

    and on related issue:

    ss at 136: thanks for kind words. I had some back and forth with Brian Walsh in the comments section associated with that article about the shortcomings that I think exist in the published study. here is copy/past of some of that:

    Comment to Brian Walsh copy/paste

    “we define an atmospheric flux ratio (RAF) as the ratio of net CO2 emissions (anthropogenic sources minus artificial sinks) to net CO2 uptake by natural sinks (that is, plant, soil and ocean systems).”

    ok, but what about non-anthropogenic sources of CO2 emissions that should be expected to arise as a “natural” consequence of the global warming that has already occurred and/or has been locked in with the ten year lag between atmospheric carbon accumulation and warming? Does your study consider or estimate the impact of new sources of CO2 emission like the kind expected with thawing of permafrost?

    Thank you for your work.



    Walsh was appreciative and responsive to my question because it was surrounded by nasty, brutish comments, but he jumped my question about rise in “natural” source CO2 emissions and responded about methane, so he missed my question by and large.

    Hi Killian at 128: that’s a pretty harsh review, but I do not disagree with you.

    SS at 134: I encourage you to engage with Brian Walsh through the comments section about the carbon cycle and see if you can raise awareness about the carbon cycle issues around changes in agricultural processes. If you know something (and I think you do) then you have to raise it over and over before it gets heard and starts developing traction.

    latest reading at MLO? 410.05 on April 25th.

    submitted at 1:20 on April 26th

  47. Scott Strough:

    @140 Lawrence Coleman,
    Thanks for the kind words. You asked, “Surely CH4 from bovine enteric fermentation should be increasing as the number of cattle in the US is increasing? Also the methanotrophs convert the CH4 into CO2 and hydrogen. So the bovine CO2 contribution might be underestimated?”

    It is not 100% clear actually. As a general rule of thumb, when you plow a grassland to grow corn and soy the vegetative biomass drops dramatically to 1/5 +/- that of a grassland, with a corresponding reduction in all other biomass like insects, birds, small animals, fungus, soil biology etc… That includes other species like termites that use enteric fermentation too. Their populations are further dropped by biocides (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) use, so the other non-vegetative biomass drops even more than 80%. This certainly lowers gross emissions but also largely incapacitates ecosystem function and turns a net sink for both CO2 and CH4 into a net source for both. Cows properly raised on a grassland are self limiting. You couldn’t increase the stocking rate beyond the biomes capability to sequester the emissions without overgrazing. That in turn forces a reduction in numbers. Overgrazed land supports far fewer cattle numbers than properly managed grasslands.

    As for the second question you had, I believe the CO2e factor used in climate models adjusts for the residence time of Methane in the atmosphere, but I am not sure if this adjustment includes biotic oxidation of methane by methanotrophs in healthy upland oxic soils. I have not seen this, but it would be better answered by some of the experts on climate models that read this forum. I suspect the models are pretty close for CAFO raised animals, but might be overestimated for grassfed animals. Again though, I can’t be sure. Since in the US 97% of animals are raised at some point in their life in the CAFO model, I am guessing the models are pretty good for that, but might need additional work when projecting the effects of changing production models.

  48. Thomas:

    Former climate change deniers, what changed your mind?


    I grew up actively and obnoxiously denying climate change because my dad told me it wasn’t real.

    I had kinda developed the idea that liberals were the “bad guys.” … raised Republican. Naturally, I believed climate change is leftist bullshit.

    I really doubted it for a while, because honestly it scared me. … I believed the ‘climate change is happening but humans aren’t the main cause’ bull. No idea why I thought it, guess it was just said enough and sounded good [because] it removed any blame from us (as a species).

    I was a complete science denier because that’s what my parents and my private Christian school taught me.

    Stewardship and Care for Earth Have Universal Appeal

    Weird, Warm, and Wild Weather Help Convince People That Climate Change Is Real

    … the biggest turning point was then a video put out by my church actually touched on the importance of caring for the Earth as a gift from God and as a home for future generations. Until that point I had kinda developed the idea that liberals were the “bad guys” but that video forced me to put a little more thought into things.

    I realized that many of the other people denying anthropogenic climate change were being funded by the fossil fuel industry and that almost everyone else — most importantly, the vast majority of climate scientists — agreed on the human cause.
    I quickly discovered that every single argument meant to dismiss the science or discredit it was rooted in profound ignorance.
    Which makes sense in hindsight as how can we expect conservative bloggers to know anything about carbon isotopes, silicate weathering, aerosol dimming, albedo effects, mean resident times of green house gasses etc.

    But after I talked with an actual expert who wasn’t involved in agendas at all, it was clear that it wasn’t some skeevy political front, it was actually sound science.

    Changing one’s worldview is psychologically difficult.

  49. Killian:

    According to this study on clouds and ice crystal content, Climate Sensitivity might be over 5C. (It’s possible they mean ESS, but the usual range up to 4.x is quoted.)

    You may recall I have said since Day 1 on this site it *had* to be higher than generally thought because of rates and magnitudes of changes we were and are seeing.

    Clouds and Ice Crystals = Ruh-roh?

  50. Vendicar Decarian:

    In Happer’s case, the physicist declined any personal remuneration for his work but wanted his fee donated to the CO2 Coalition. Happer wrote in an email that his fee was $250 an hour and that it would require four days of work – a total of $8,000. “Depending on how extensive a document you have in mind, the time required or cost could be more or less, but I hope this gives you some idea of what I would expect if we were to proceed on some mutually agreeable course,” he wrote.


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