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Unforced variations: July 2017

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2017

So, big news this week: The latest update to the RSS lower troposphere temperatures (Zeke at Carbon Brief, J. Climate paper) and, of course, more chatter about the red team/blue team concept. Comments?

397 Responses to “Unforced variations: July 2017”

  1. 351
    Obstreperous Applesauce says:

    @~ 324

    “…worst case scenarios will convince the hardened denialists? Or politicians?…”

    So, who is your audience and what are you trying to achieve? In terms of political platforms, concerns, and priorities, climate change is certainly in the mix. Should it be bumped up the to-do list? If people are too blasé about it, that’s a problem.

    I hate to put it in these terms, but I think you need a story that people can hang their hat on, not a technical manual for constructing hat racks.

  2. 352
    Andrew says:

    No, “The Uninhabitable Earth” is not the “Silent Spring” of climate change

    Apparently Susan Matthews of Slate has never read Rachel Carson’s seminal book “Silent Spring”. If she had, she wouldn’t have written, defending DWW, “The instantly viral piece might be the Silent Spring of our time…”. Seriously?
    First, Rachel Carson was an experienced marine biologist and an award-winning author of multiple books, who wrote Silent Spring at the end of her life (Silent Spring was published in 1962, as Rachel Carson was undergoing radiotherapy to fight breast cancer; she died two years later). DWW is a (freelance?) journalist who was practically unknown before “The Uninhabitable Earth”.
    Second, obviously, Silent Spring is a book, the material for which was carefully researched by Rachel Carson for years, “The Uninhabitable Earth” is basically a web article the research for which could be done by watching videos of “Human Extinction Guru” Guy McPherson on YouTube.
    Third, Rachel Carson was challenging scientific orthodoxy. DWW is misrepresenting science.
    Do you need more details? Dr. Jeremy Jackson (in his lecture “Ocean apocalypse now”) provides us with a deconstruction of Rachel Carson’s book:
    “Rachel Carson asked three question about human impacts on the environment:
    1. What is happening now that is new, different and scary about DDT?
    2. What will happen if we keep on using it?
    3. What can we do differently to avoid the harmful consequences of DDT?”
    Attempting a similar deconstruction of DWW’s article:
    DWW promises that:
    1. We are all going to die horrible deaths because of climate change, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.
    2. Scientists have known this forever but were too “reticent” to communicate about it. But I (DWW) alone managed to figure out the true scale of the problem: a “natural holocaust” awaits us.
    3. The Paris Agreement does not change anything to this certainty of death-by-climate-change.

    In short, the tone, the substance, the evidence provided, the purpose and the proposed remedies are completely different if not the straight opposite. There is a much commonality between “The Uninhabitable Earth” and “Silent Spring” as between a stamp and my left shoe.

  3. 353
    Obstreperous Applesauce says:

    Susan @ ~ 332

    I couldn’t say. However Google the speed of waves in a tsunami. It’s startling. If it helps (and at the risk of embarrassing myself) I think that the water in a wave moves in a circular path in place. It’s the energetic wave form that travels laterally at speed.

  4. 354
    Obstreperous Applesauce says:

    (Susan)… maybe think of a sound wave traveling through air…

  5. 355
    Killian says:

    Killian/ccpo for the win! So, as I have said for so very long, risk is the proper framing.

  6. 356
    nigelj says:

    Obstreporous applesauce @351, I think we should target the message on the climate problem at very single person on the planet, but politicians will be a big priority to try to convince for obvious reasons.

    I agree the general public need something, a story they can hang their hat on, something real and clear and human sounding, as opposed to a string of data and equations. The current messages do lack urgency.

    I’m just not 100% sure doomsday scenarios of earth becoming like venus or a Steven King horror story is the right way to go. This is actually my natural inclination, but I have had second thoughts.

    It is too like trying to scare small children into doing something. Adults respond better to controlled scariness. They know worst case scenarios are always possible, but very unlikely.

    And yes climate change should be bumped right up the agenda. The real problem is money in politics and, I’m not sure scary doomsday stories will resolve that.

    Like I said, it probably needs a more scary narrative than its currently getting, but based on measured scariness, and real world examples of antarctic ice etc, rather than earth ending up like venus with 200 degrees celsius and sulphuric acid raining form the sky.Such things are incredibly unlikely given the science. 3-6 degrees is quite serious enough and I think most people do partly grasp this.

    We also need to paint a plan or picture of a viable world with renewable energy. Give something people can believe in. I gave up smoking over then years ago by visualising my life without tobacco and thinking it all through, and what I would do.

  7. 357
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy 339, yeah agreed. I did say capitalism is good in “essence” not that it is perfect, or should never evolve.

  8. 358
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @350, phew, we really are on the same page. That’s a relief. Couldn’t agree more.

    No doubt we will find something to disagree on at some point.

    I think a lot of white collar clercial and some professional jobs are going to be replaced by intelligent computing, and it could happen fast, as computer chips cost nothing once the breakthroughs are made.

    I think full robotics will be much slower. Replacing plumbers and hairdressers with robots wont be cheap or easy.

    But regardless, people will be looking for work. They will drift into other remaining services industries, and maybe the result will be mass unemployment, or more likely lots of part time work and lower wages.

    I think it may lead to a UBI, a universal basic income. Im very uncomfortable with the idea of decent people being thrown on the scrap heap or dire poverty, so it will need something.

    The owners of capital may also feel little incentive to create enough jobs. It’s uncharted territory, but you can’t stop the march of technology.

  9. 359
    Andrew says:

    Exposing your personal life details in a magazine article, misrepresenting the Paris Agreement and how low can you go?

    You certainly wouldn’t find such information in a climate science paper, but DWW does not hesitate to share an abundance of private details about his parents’ personal life in his New York Magazine piece. We learn for example that his father died of lung cancer: “My father’s, for instance: born in 1938, among his first memories the news of Pearl Harbor and the mythic Air Force of the propaganda films that followed, films that doubled as advertisements for imperial-American industrial might; and among his last memories the coverage of the desperate signing of the Paris climate accords on cable news, ten weeks before he died of lung cancer last July.” And that his 72 year old mother is still alive and kicking despite being a heavy smoker: “Or my mother’s: born in 1945, to German Jews fleeing the smokestacks through which their relatives were incinerated, now enjoying her 72nd year in an American commodity paradise, a paradise supported by the supply chains of an industrialized developing world. She has been smoking for 57 of those years, unfiltered.”

    Now, I couldn’t really fathom how these personal details fit into DWW’s narrative of certain death-by-climate-change, initially. Then I noticed the en passant jab at the Paris Agreement (nobody calls them “the Paris accords”, btw) in the details of DWW’s father death. And if you really look into it, the dates don’t quite match: the Paris Agreement was adopted on December, 12 2015, after a slightly drama-filled marathon of last-minute negotiations, but the “Paris Agreement was open for signature by States and regional economic integration organizations that are Parties to the UNFCCC (the Convention) from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017.” (from the Paris Agreement Wikipedia page) I don’t see anything “desperate” about that.

    DWW doesn’t stop there in his numerous attempts to misrepresent the Paris Agreement and misinform his readers. He insists repeatedly that 2C warming is the “goal” of the Paris Agreement:
    – “Now two degrees is our goal, per the Paris climate accords…”
    – “Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming…”
    What does the Paris Agreement really say (in article 2.1.a)?
    – “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;”

    No, the “goal” of the Paris Agreement is not 2C, it’s “well below 2C”, and if possible, under 1.5C. Btw, a special IPCC report is due in 2018 about the 1.5C global warming threshold.

    Which brings us back to the climate science related factual errors that Dr. Michael Mann found in DWW’s article. Here is Dr. Mann’s take on these factual errors:

    “DIMITRI LASCARIS: However, you’ve written a somewhat critical response to this article. Your critique of the Wallis-Wells piece in the New York Magazine can I think be broken down into two themes. The first broadly speaking is about factual errors that you’ve identified within the article, and the second relates to the rather pessimistic tone of his article. I’d like to start with the factual errors. What do you consider to be the most important factual errors in this New York Magazine piece?
    MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, and I don’t see those two things as necessarily being independent, because my assessment is that those factual errors all sort of were in the same direction of implying a narrative of a future climate that is worse than what the science objectively supports. As I’ve said, the truth is bad enough. We don’t have to exaggerate it to make the case that there is a great urgency in acting on climate change.”

    Could it be that DWW made those errors on purpose? It seems so. And if you think about it, DWW also shared details about his father’s death and his mother’s family migration to America in tragic circumstances, also on purpose. Which, if you ask me, is stooping pretty low for a journalist.

  10. 360
    Fergus Brown says:

    Thomas @ 343, Susan @ 332: but also note (from Wang):
    “The internal Kelvin wave speed depends on the density difference across the interface and is normally much slower than that of surface Kelvin waves. In the ocean, the typical speed for internal coastal Kelvin waves is of the order of 1ms -1 and the Rossby radius of deformation is of the order of 10km in the mid- latitudes.”
    I also note that a baroclinic Kelvin wave is not actually a wave as such – can someone explain what it is?

  11. 361
    Andrew says:

    The m-word and Guy McPherson

    Unlike the usual social media denialist trolls, but just like politicians, lawyers and con-men, DWW reveals himself much more by what he doesn’t mention than by what he describes in much detail.

    So I counted the number of times DWW had used the words “mitigation” and “renewables” in his 7600-word long New York Magazine article: exactly zero. By contrast, “extinction” is used six times, “death” seven times, “disaster” four times, and words like “devastation”, “annihilation”, “destruction”, “holocaust” are sprinkled here and there.

    The fact is, the m-word or mitigation is the central concept in the fight against climate change. Because climate change is caused by cumulative GHG emissions (which are in the past), mitigation, or peaking GHG emissions as soon as possible and then reducing them as quickly as possible, is the only course for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change, which are already bad enough without even considering the extreme worst-case, low probability scenarios described by DWW.

    DWW also forgets to mention his main competition in the end-of-the-world prediction market: that would be, of course, YouTube star Guy McPherson, whom I already mentioned above. Actually Guy McPherson comes from an academic background, but has distanced himself from academia and is not viewed kindly by most climate scientists. But at least McPherson has a more coherent human extinction scenario. McPherson’s latest prediction, btw, is for human extinction before or no later than 2026. It is described in this blog post, if you are curious:

    McPherson’s recipe for total human extinction in less than 10 years goes in three main sequential steps:
    1. The Arctic permafrost and ocean bottom warms up and releases 50GT of methane in the space of a few weeks, into the atmosphere. This “pulse” of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) causes a global temperature increase of 1.3C, immediately causing major crop failures that send modern civilization into collapse; note that most climate scientists agree that the Arctic is warming 2.5~3x faster than th rest of the world and that we can expect increasing amounts of methane being released from the region, but that the probability of a 50GT pulse of methane is very low.
    2. The collapse of civilization further causes a loss of global dimming which in turn raises global temperature by a further 3C; note that Dr. Michael Mann has previously calculated that a loss of global dimming from the reduction in the use of fossil fuels (mainly coal) would cause a global temperature rise of 0.5C, not 3C.
    3. Finally, the accelerated collapse of civilization signals the end of maintenance and cooling of 400 nuclear reactors around the world (more or less the equivalent of 130x the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe). These reactors suffer core meltdown and release enough radiation to kill most vertebrates, plants and even insects on the planet, also destroying the ozone layers that protect life from UV rays.

    McPherson’s suggestion that we passively accept and await these inevitable events has resulted in some people putting him in a special category of denialists.

    Undeniably, there is a logic to McPherson’s end-of-the-world scenario, and it hinges on just two highly uncertain parameters: how much methane will be released by the Arctic in the coming 10 years, and how much warming the reduction in global dimming would cause. On the other hand, it is quite true that the safe shutdown and decommissioning of 400 nuclear reactors, and specially the safe storage of their nuclear fuel, would be impossible to achieve in the midst of complete civilization collapse.


  12. 362
    MA Rodger says:

    And finally HadCRUT has posted for June with an anomaly of +0.64ºC, again the lowest anomaly of the year-to-date but not greatly so (as per NOAA) as the May anomaly had been only a little warmer at +0.66ºC. June 2017 is (as per NOAA) the 3rd warmest June in HadCRUT, below June 2015 (+0.74ºC) & June 2016 (+0.73ºC). June 2017 sits as the 40th warmest month on the full record (while in GISS it sat =87th, NOAA =30th).
    “Scorchio-wise”, the first half of 2017 still sits in 2nd spot (as per GISS & NOAA) but as with NOAA closer to 2015 than to 2016.
    The years ranked by Warmest-Jan-to-June below are identical to the NOAA equivalents although the bottom four are shuffled round a bit.

    ……….Ave Jan-June … … Annual Ave ..Annual ranking
    2016 ….. +0.90ºC … … … +0.77ºC … … … … 1st
    2017 ….. +0.75ºC
    2015 ….. +0.70ºC … … … +0.76ºC … … … … 2nd
    2010 ….. +0.61ºC … … … +0.56ºC … … … … 4th
    1998 ….. +0.60ºC … … … +0.54ºC … … … … 6th
    2002 ….. +0.57ºC … … … +0.50ºC … … … … 11th
    2007 ….. +0.56ºC … … … +0.49ºC … … … … 12th
    2014 ….. +0.55ºC … … … +0.58ºC … … … … 3rd

  13. 363
    alan2102 says:

    Pardon me. I thought I had posted this a couple days ago, but it did not show up. My mistake? Whatever. Here it is:

    [edit -OT]

  14. 364
    Susan Anderson says:

    re (~322) my query about Spencer et al. article in Nature Climate Change, thanks for the replies. Some other people had pointed me at sound waves and tsunami speeds, and the latter in particular were an eye opener. Thanks to Mal Adapted for the mention of “fetch” and link to the body surfing blog exhibit, Al Bundy, and especially Thomas who gave my clogged brain something to work on that actually explains the possibility. Subsurface “barotropic Kelvin waves”* … hah! I’m still a bit stuck with the interaction with shore (ice face) (that part is explicated in Thomas’s link) and the travel around sharp corners. No doubt Dr. Spence, who is quite young, will be producing more on the subject as it develops.

    When it comes to the interactions of matter and energy, laypeople are up against a sticky wicket. Same with time and space. We’re simply stuck with notions that life must be limited to what we can imagine from our direct experience, which is a very narrow window.

    Re Dark Money, it’s a great reference (to which more is being added) and includes a variety of references to a range of iniquities which are not covered by understanding the line of country, but if you are busy and not planning to do anything with it, I’d agree, a little goes a long way. You can get a good bit of it from The New Yorker for free.

    However, in the matter of contacting and influencing policymakers in the US, current authority is limited to (in the matter of scientific and observational honesty) “evil, be thou my good.” The people in charge are the censors in chief. It they had their way, all climate scientists would be in jail, starting with Mike Mann and the IPCC.

    * a special type of gravity wave that is affected by the Earth’s rotation and trapped at the Equator or along lateral vertical boundaries such as coastlines or mountain ranges. The existence of the Kelvin wave relies on (a) gravity and stable stratification for sustaining a gravitational oscillation, (b) significant Coriolis acceleration, and ( c) the presence of vertical boundaries or the equator. The unique feature of the Kelvin wave is its unidirectional propagation

  15. 365
    Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks to ObstreperousA as well. Re Wallace Wells article, it might have been time to thicken the soup, and in our rarefied worlds we miss that ignorance is not bliss. I started out being irked by the Venusian references and 40% being turned into “more than double” (on the updated data) and further irked by doomy friends. But if you think about it, the vast majority of exaggeration is invisible, in that it so grossly understates the problem that people think it can be set aside, dismissed, postponed.

    I though the Sierra Club did a good job on that:

    What I’d really like to see is regular reporting of climate extremes around the planet on the front page of all legitimate news sources: not the headliner but a regular column.

  16. 366
    Obstreperous Applesauce says:

    nigelj @ ~ 356

    I agree. There are at least as many ways to tell a story as there are authors (and as many audiences). As for what makes one story better than another: the devil’s in the details — part skill, part art, part luck. I don’t know what the journalistic practice was with the WW story. If it was to gather the pieces, assemble, then publish, then I’d suggest a change to the SOP; maybe send the draft back to the sources and run it through the scrubber a few times before going to print.

    The reactions to the story, though, are interesting to me. It was certainly effective in provoking responses, and among those the least effective, IMO, were the more histrionic cries for moderation. But that’s just me.

  17. 367
    nigelj says:

    Andrew @359

    I agree I don’t think doomsday scenario scaremongering is going to help, and its true DWW narrative is extreme and riddled with errors. I agree with M Mans response to the issue, the reality is scary enough.

    However I do think more urgent language would help up to a point.

    But taking a devils advocate position, you may be reading too many ulterior motives into the whole thing (although I put nothing past closet denialists, who are sometimes wolfs in sheeps clothing). I think Wells is just a bit misguided, but sincere enough in his views. I don’t think he is secretly a climate denialist trying to sabotage things.

    Consider Steven Hawking has said similar things, and doesn’t appear to be a climate sceptic, or fanatical hard right libertarian or anything. He is maybe just trying to wake people up.

    DWW has gone on about his personal life. Theres something odd there, but possibly an ego thing. However maybe he is an “attention seeker”. The evidence does point that way.

  18. 368

    #359, and previous–Okay, Andrew, I get that you don’t like “The Uninhabitable Earth.” And I agree that there are some errors; I noticed some of them on first reading.

    However, my perception is not that he “promises” that “we’re all gonna die” (though of course, that was always true, sensu stricto). It’s more that he’s actually talked in a straightforward, effective way about the ‘fat tail’ of climatic risk. What he’s done is not that drastically different in kind from “Six Degrees” (which I wrote about some years back). Of course it is not a book, but the long-form online artice he actually wrote will reach–has reached–a lot more eyeballs.

    What DWW “promises” is that it is worse than ‘you’ think. And he’s right about that. It’s far worse than most people do think. I for one am glad that he had the guts to come out and say so. I linked the original article, and I’ve linked the various follow-ups (including Dr. Mann’s critique). I think it’s probably done some good by raising awareness. And most of what he says is correct.

  19. 369
    Thomas says:

    For Andrew et al by Hansen Sato et al (reposted links)
    “Even the aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement, to keep global warming below 1.5°C, is not adequate. A current narrative, that humanity has turned the corner and is moving toward solving the global warming problem, is wrong.”


    Received: 22 Sep 2016 – Discussion started: 04 Oct 2016 Revised: 29 May 2017 – Accepted: 08 Jun 2017 – Published: 18 Jul 2017 – Abstract

    Paper in full

  20. 370
    Susan Anderson says:

    Should have occurred to me to look at Neven’s Forum. Several relevant observations about currents and stresses near A68 (Antarctica) about here:,1175.msg120954.html#msg120954

  21. 371
    Andrew says:

    Re: # 367 nigelj

    Hi Nigel, I just found out that DWW actually interviewed Guy McPherson in mid-June 2017, although he does not mention or quote McPherson in his New York Magazine piece. I am guessing because he wants to differentiate himself from McPherson and carve his own niche in the climate doom-and-gloom market. McPherson is actually quite terse when it comes to the climate apocalypse (3 steps and we are done), DWW’s version is more verbose and there is an attempt to make it appear more science-based (among other things by throwing in the name and quoting the venerable Wallace Broecker, no less than 4 times) (and btw, Prof. Broecker is 85, not 84 as stated in “TUE”).
    Personally I don’t think this kind of communication about the existential issue of climate change has any positive effect at all, actually I think it dilutes and distracts from proper communication about the urgency of action to mitigate climate change such as the excellent article “Three years to safeguard our climate” by Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström, Anthony Hobley & Stefan Rahmstorf, published in Nature (a version of which published here on rc).
    Anyway, I am not done yet with DWW’s “TUE”, so please bear with me for a couple more posts.

    Re: # 368 Kevin McKinney

    I don’t agree with you. I don’t think DWW’s “TUE” in any way, shape or form properly communicates about the urgency of adopting policies to mitigate climate change. On the contrary, his piece is incredibly disconnected from the reality that climate scientists and policymakers face worldwide.

    DWW’s “TUE” is just a hipster version of Guy McPherson’s YouTube videos, remixed for a slightly different audience (people who actually read).

    And in terms of scary, it’s about the same as a ride in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at DisneyWorld. Works for children, perhaps, for adults, not so much.

    As Michael Mann wrote and Nigel quoted above, the reality of climate change is actually bad enough and serious enough that we don’t need it turned into this “apocalypse-as-entertainment” mess.

    “Most of what he says is correct.” No, actually most of what DWW says is either incorrect, exaggerated or plain fabricated, and nothing is constructive or conducive to action. He even wrote that James Hansen had abandoned his long-held idea of a carbon fee + dividend scheme, something that was never the case, so Dr Hansen had to write back to DWW and ask him to correct that. Check the bottom of the article online, there is right now a list of four corrections, but many more important details are wrong.

  22. 372
    Andrew says:

    Re: #367 nigelj

    Nigel, an amusing detail. Here is Guy McPherson’s blog post where he mentions being interviewed by DWW.

    “I was interviewed in mid-June 2017 by David Wallace-Wells for New York magazine. Although the resulting long story largely captures my message, albeit with a strong dose of misplaced optimism, the story fails to mention my name. “The Uninhabitable Planet” is linked here.”

    “… albeit with a strong dose of optimism…” LOL!

    Notice he misquotes the title of DWW’s piece? I don’t think it’s by accident. I think GMcPh was expecting to be quoted or at least have his name mentioned in DWW’s article, after being interviewed (for free? we’ll never know).

    The market for climate doomism just got a new competitor with a hipster flavor in the person of DWW, and GMcPh, having just realized he’s been duped somehow, is probably not happy about that.

  23. 373
    Susan Anderson says:

    I see my link to Dr. Spence (whose name I misspelled initially, sorry) has been removed. Perhaps that’s for the best. I had been wondering if to ask him for a layperson’s explication but decided he’s doing important stuff and I can just live and learn.

  24. 374
  25. 375
    nigelj says:

    Obstreperous Applesauce @366, I know what you mean. There probably will be different narratives for different audiences, and that’s ok if the details make sense.

    But I worry about doomsday narratives, especially if they get wide exposure and backing of more than one eccentric scientist. It may convince some people, but have the opposite effect on others especially mild, wavering sceptics. They could decide science has gone nuts. It appears a mute point, as its unlikely such a thing would get wide backing from the scientific community.

    However given nothing much else has worked one does wonder if such a doomsday scenario might have value. I’m not totally sure. It would be interesting to study evidence on past issues where doomsday scenarios have been promoted, and how society reacted.

    I do read my own moderate rhetoric on the issue and think, I cant fault this, but it sounds rather lame! But maybe that’s because the doomsday stuff attracts people like a magnet.

    More information is needed on the psychology of how wider society reacts to doomsday stuff like this especially in a historical sense.

  26. 376
    zebra says:

    Must read on climate effects, mitigation, adaptation, and why simplistic and idealistic grand statements about “we should” are a waste of time:

  27. 377
    Thomas says:

    A few may be interested in the following

    The global denier network (conspiratorial) mindset-narrative – ie the morals/politics mixed with Extreme Hyperbolic Sophism packaged as an 24/7/365 Advertising Campaign for consumption by the non-critical thinkers

    People need “stories” and narratives to grasp ideas and facts – deniers and the wealthy / powerful do this really well and never stop repeating it.

    Flip side … what a morally grounded and intelligent fact & history based ‘narrative’ sounds like

    aka why agw/cc discussions and political debates keep going round in circles for 35 years and has made very little progress ???

  28. 378
    Andrew says:

    The medium is the message and Just the facts, Ma’am

    Apart from Susan Matthews who believes “TUE” is the “Silent Spring” of our times (as you can see, I am having a hard time processing that kind of… whatever), some people have defended DWW’s article on the basis that, “if anything, it raises awareness” about climate change, or that “scaring the public is the right thing to do at this stage”, or “it’s the most read article in the entire history of New York Magazine” (I assume that last one is based on the number of hits on the online version of “TUE”). Some went as far as stating that “climate scientists have been communicating about the dangers of climate for 35 years without any results, so perhaps now it’s time for a dose of panic” – supposedly to achieve a public response that “reticent” climate scientists have not achieved so far.

    I am somewhat baffled by the – let’s call it extreme naïveté – of these views on “TUE”. Let’s deal with them one by one. With facts.

    “climate scientists have been communicating about the dangers of climate change for 35 years without any results, so perhaps now it’s time for a dose of panic”

    Indeed, some climate scientists have been attempting to communicate – rationally and emotionally – about the dangers of climate change for decades. James Hansen’s presentation to US Congress in 1988 – the same year the IPCC was founded – comes to mind. Oh, wait, did I just mention the IPCC? (from the Wikipedia page: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.) And I believe I previously mentioned the Paris Agreement, adopted at the COP21, that is, the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (CMP) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

    The plain facts are that climate scientists have been communicating to world leaders and policy makers for decades now and that significant results have been achieved (such as the Paris Agreement), despite a systematic misinformation campaign conducted by fossil fuel industries such as Exxon (also not mentioned in “TUE”) – who knew about the dangers of climate change all along.

    “if anything, it raises awareness”

    Not really, actually it misinforms, expresses little confidence in climate scientists and international cooperation, and distracts from the real issues of climate change. Let’s get real here: how many among the readership of New York Magazine are going to cancel their next planned flight after reading “TUE”? Or use a bicycle to shop for groceries, instead of the SUV? None. “raises awareness” my ass.

    “it’s the most read article in the entire history of New York Magazine”

    So what? But first, let’s distinguish between clicking on a link to “TUE” and actually reading the 7,300 words of the article. Next, “the media is the message” is ever more true in this case. Readers of New York Magazine are looking for entertainment and that’s exactly what “TUE” delivers, typeset in a nice font and accompanied by an ominous picture of a (I am guessing clay and fiberglass) sculpture of a human skull wearing sunglasses. It’s entertainment-scary, the Pirates of the Caribbean version of climate change doom.

    “scaring the public is the right thing to do at this stage”

    Apparently that is DWW’s defense for all the things the article gets wrong: “it didn’t seem plausible to me that there was more risk at scaring people too much than there was at not scaring them enough.. my feeling was, and is, if there’s a one percent chance that we’ve set off a chain reaction that could end the human race, then that should be something that the public knows and thinks about.” Wow, nice attempt at taking the moral high-ground after writing a piece that essentially misrepresents facts, misses any mention of the real action of the scientific and international communities to address climate change, and was essentially written to entertain that part of the population that is the most polluting and resource consuming in the world; and ultimately increase paid circulation and advertisement revenues of New York Magazine, because let’s not forget, DWW wrote this piece because he was paid, not because he was trying to “set off a chain reaction” for whatever. And that’s a fact.


  29. 379
    Hank Roberts says:

    An old friend’s video lecture at Cornell, with slides — illustrating the waste of our “corn desert” — nothing living for six months a year across the US Midwest in row crop agriculture that’s destroying the land — and how he’s been selectively breeding perennial tree crops (“woody agriculture”) to control erosion and preserve the soil.

  30. 380
    David B. Benson says:

    A useful opinion piece based on the End Permian event:

  31. 381
    mike says:

    We are headed toward record-breaking heat this week in the Pac NW.

    The CO2 numbers seem too high me. We are not seeing the kind of drop in year on year increase numbers that you would expect in the year after a pretty strong EN event.

    July 16 – 22, 2017 406.74 ppm
    July 16 – 22, 2016 403.66 ppm

    Similarly, the global heat temps remain remarkably high for a year that appears to have no EN heat bump. I think we are headed toward 2017 being the 3rd hottest year on record, so at least this would break the string of hottest years ever at 3.

    There is a lot of wasted energy going into the discussion of DWW article which splits the community that might want to do everything it can to influence public policy to take AGW seriously, but hey, if you have to make some debating points, I guess, go for it.

    Lots of reasons to be alarmed: Temps are too high, CO2e is too high, ocean acidification is too high, rainfall patterns have become less conducive our land use model, etc.

    I am building more trellis structures and planting more grapes, kiwis, etc around the house to produce more shade and keep the place cooler. The trend is more heat, plan(t) accordingly.



  32. 382
    Al Bundy says:

    Mike: Lots of reasons to be alarmed: Temps are too high, CO2e is too high, ocean acidification is too high, rainfall patterns have become less conducive our land use model, etc.

    Al: yeah. Here in Omaha lots of evergreens are dying. Humanity is going to have to go into the ecosystem replacement business.


    nigelj: The owners of capital may also feel little incentive to create enough jobs.

    Al: That might be a problem if capital created significant number of jobs. But mom-and-pops and kids-in-garages are the actual job creators. And, as you know, they do it the Laborist way, through work, as opposed to sitting on the couch. And besides, what are these capitalists going to do with their money if they don’t gamble it in the stock market? (Where almost none of the money “invested” goes to the corporation. Once the stock is issued, it becomes nothing but a drag on performance.) On the other hand, if they put it in a savings account, it will be used to create jobs.

  33. 383
    Thomas says:

    re 381 mike, fwiw last weekend in the dead of “winter” east coast/sydney etc set new record highs for July. and the week before last there was a 407+ co2 ppm day or two at Hawaii.

  34. 384
    Thomas says:

    Re andrew’s dww issues

    Dr. James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’

    Oct 2016 Hansen, who has become increasingly outspoken on climate change since retiring from Nasa in 2013, said he recognized some scientists might object to publicizing the paper so soon but that “we are running out of time on this climate issue.”

    The Paris climate deal won’t save us — The success of the Paris climate deal depends on ‘negative emission’ technologies that have never been proven at scale

    Kevin Anderson: Paris, climate & surrealism: how numbers reveal another reality

    But, as the time-weary idiom suggests, “the devil is in the detail” – or perhaps more importantly, the lack of it.

    and recent ‘comments’ w Refs
    Michael Mann quote
    James Hansen direct quote on Paris & last Paper

    the deniers global network and their ideological fallacious narratives and sophistry are far worse than anything dww said or got wrong

    “Models are Useful” Gavin Schimdt. They are not perfect, nor are goals.

    Here’s a Useful Aphorism : “Choose your friends, don’t let your ‘friends’ choose you.”

  35. 385
    Thomas says:

    RE 380 David B. Benson, good ref

    And so ‘they’ keep saying the climate has always changed and yet ‘they’ always stop short of saying what is the whole truth this article points out truthfully and scientifically that “scientists have discovered, this has happened many times before, and sometimes the results were catastrophic.”

    “….the paleontologist David Bond and the geologist Stephen Grasby write in the journal that most mass extinctions were marked by “global warming, anoxia and ocean acidification, driven by changes in atmospheric CO2.”

    After synthesizing a vast body of literature and reviewing almost 20 global mass extinctions over the past half billion years — including the most extreme ones, the so-called Big Five — the authors concluded that “large scale volcanism is the main driver of mass extinctions” and that “most extinctions are associated with global warming and proximal killers such as marine anoxia.”

    Prof. Peter Ward UW is great resource for everyday people to easily learn more about these matters – eg 2013 Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Climate? What is the Worst That Global Warming Could Do?

    This stuff is not new science …..

  36. 386
    sidd says:

    I thank Mr. Roberts for his link to the video and heartily second his recommendation. Philip Rutter is a very creative man, and his results on species swarm hybridization are jaw dropping. Expressions of archaic genes he discovers are a revelation to me, and I will have to watch that again, preferably in the company of a paleobotanist.


  37. 387
    Killian says:

    Re the “OMG!We’re all gonna die or not die! Shhh! Or don’t shhhh!” debate, given some *have* resonated with it and some *have not* proves, ipso facto, it is the right/wrong approach… for you.

    Different strokes. Get over it. Thus, Mike for the win: There is a lot of wasted energy going into the discussion of DWW articl… but hey, if you have to make some debating points, I guess, go for it.

    Lots of reasons to be alarmed: Temps are too high, CO2e is too high, ocean acidification is too high, rainfall patterns have become less conducive our land use model, etc.

    I am building more trellis structures and planting more grapes, kiwis, etc around the house to produce more shade and keep the place cooler. The trend is more heat, plan(t) accordingly.

  38. 388
    Thomas says:

    Paris agreement is important, and yet here we go again.

    “We’re closer to the margin than we think,” said Adrian Raftery, a University of Washington academic who led the research, published in Nature Climate Change. “If we want to avoid 2C, we have very little time left. The public should be very concerned.

    Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely by Adrian E. Raftery, Alec Zimmer, Dargan M. W. Frierson, Richard Startz & Peiran Liu

    “The likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0–4.9 °C, with median 3.2 °C and a 5% (1%) chance that it will be less than 2 °C (1.5 °C).

    Risk management – what is it?

    Risk Management is “the systematic application of management policies, procedures and practices to the tasks of establishing the context, identifying, analysing, assessing, treating, monitoring and communicating” (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009).

    It is an iterative process that, with each cycle, can contribute progressively to organisational improvement by providing management [or Policy Makers even?] with a greater insight into risks and their impact.

  39. 389
    Nemesis says:

    @Thomas, #388

    “The public should be very concerned.”

    I am not concerned about anything anymore. As zebra said magnificently:

    Humans are monkeys. I don’t expect anything from monkeys, just eating, drinking, a little raping here and there and singing “uh, uh, uh!” day in, day out. I got completely used to that monkey business. It’s all about eating and being eaten. That’s FINE, more than that, it’s just NATURAL REALITY and I, as a ghetto monkey, am totally fine with that. So get over any fancy dreams about monkeys acting like Homo “Sapiens”, there is no Homo “Sapiens”, just monkeys and their monkey business.

  40. 390
    MA Rodger says:

    Fast out of the blocks, UAH TLT has posted for July with an anomaly of +0.28ºC, a small increase on June’s anomaly of +0.21ºC. It is the 4th warmest July on record after the El Nino-boosted years of 1998 (+0.51ºC), 2016 (+0.39ºC) and 2010 (+0.33ºC) and ahead of 5th-placed July 2002 (+0.23ºC). July 2017 sits =50th warmest month on the full record.
    “Scorchio-wise”, the first seven months of 2017 still sits in 4th spot behind El Nino years, as you would expect for TLT temperature records. It is significantly warmer than 2015, the highest non-El Nino year in the table below. That rates 2017-so-far as “scorchyissimo!!!”

    The years are ranked by Warmest-Jan-to-July below. 2017 is running on target to take 4th place, and if the end of the year warms a little, it could even perhaps sneak 3rd spot.

    ……….Ave Jan-June … … Annual Ave ..Annual ranking
    2016 ….. +0.59ºC … … … +0.51ºC … … … … 1st
    1998 ….. +0.58ºC … … … +0.48ºC … … … … 2nd
    2010 ….. +0.41ºC … … … +0.33ºC … … … … 3rd
    2017 ….. +0.31ºC
    2002 ….. +0.26ºC … … … +0.22ºC … … … … 5th
    2005 ….. +0.21ºC … … … +0.20ºC … … … … 6th
    2015 ….. +0.21ºC … … … +0.27ºC … … … … 4th
    2007 ….. +0.21ºC … … … +0.16ºC … … … … 9th
    2014 ….. +0.17ºC … … … +0.18ºC … … … … 8th
    2003 ….. +0.17ºC … … … +0.19ºC … … … … 7th
    2013 ….. +0.14ºC … … … +0.13ºC … … … … 10th

  41. 391
    mike says:

    If we were to see runaway global heating happen, what would it look like in the early decades?



  42. 392
    Nemesis says:

    There is one thing I love, one thing I always trust in:

    The Laws of Nature.

    The Laws of Nature never lie, they can never be corrupted, they are always true and 100% straightforward. Man, I love the Laws of Nature, I trust in the Laws of Nature. Reality, the Laws of Nature will never be defeated. This is the reason, why I am a true optimist.

  43. 393
    Thomas says:

    389 Nemesis, Hi mate.

    “So get over any fancy dreams…”

    I have none and I expect nothing too Nemesis.

    That post was regarding others’ “fancy dreams” that Paris is anything but a delusion. I wasn’t promoting it as a solution let alone a serious plan. :-)

    While papers must be set scientifically/conservatively as per “Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely…” and be based on hard numbers from the accumulated past data, imho there’s no likelihood of less than 2C warming by 2040-2050 for the same reasons you give above.

  44. 394
    generic commenter says:

    Some comment moderation please.

    I saw a very good public-friendly description recently of what a scientific consensus means, that might make for a good realclimate post. That it’s what you’re left with when all the possible ways that it could be wrong, have been looked into. Was this on a blog?

  45. 395

    Andrew, #372–

    Last post on TUE, since I agree that it is not the most important issue before us right now. But I do want to respond to this claim:

    …actually most of what DWW says is either incorrect, exaggerated or plain fabricated, and nothing is constructive or conducive to action.

    I don’t think so. For example, let’s go to the annotated version, which, for convenience, can be found here:

    Let’s look at the first few claims.

    Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

    Supporting that statement, he has several paragraphs of explanation and cites. As far as I can tell, they are all legit. But I didn’t dig hard, because I think that it’s pretty credible on the face of it. That is, under BAU we expect to see 4 C warming by century’s end; and if we do, it probably will render significant chunks of the tropics more or less uninhabitable. Direct heat stress and its effect on outdoor labor will be one factor; thermal inhibition of crop growth is another another likely contributor; drought will be regionally important; and degradation of the oceanic environment will be another factor in coastal environments. All will operate ‘synergistically’, where present.

    Let’s see: warm winter at the North Pole, yup; melting permafrost at the seedbank in Svalbard (which however is OK), yup; ah! Here’s a doomist money quote; I give the annotations in square brackets:

    But Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, [In this paper, it’s calculated by petagrams; 1,672 petagrams is about 1.8 trillion tons.] more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. [This is from Joseph Romm’s “Climate Change,” page 81 (in the paperback edition). The book was an invaluable resource in researching this article, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in picking up where this piece leaves off.] When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful. [This is also from Romm, also page 81. You can read more about methane’s greenhouse effects…] In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over…

    Ah, the world-destroying methane bomb! That’s gotta be bogus, right? Well, yes, and DWW cops to it, saying:

    …I believe that my original description of the possibility of the methane release lacked some relevant (reassuring) context. But I do not believe the science was fundamentally misrepresented here: There is that much carbon in the permafrost; the permafrost is melting at accelerating rates; some of the carbon will be released as methane; and methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

    My intention in referencing the permafrost was to illustrate, for readers unfamiliar with the particulars of projection models, how many uncertain factors were at play — how many forces we don’t understand, and how possibly significant those forces could be in the warming of the planet. As Joseph Romm writes, “The thawing tundra or permafrost may well be the single most important amplifying carbon-cycle feedback. Yet, none of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s climate models include carbon dioxide or methane emissions from warming tundra as a feedback.”

    The missing context (again in DWW’s words):

    Few scientists believe there is a substantial risk of methane release from permafrost happening suddenly, or all at once.
    Also, most of the carbon will likely escape as C02, not methane. In retrospect, I sympathize with those who find misleading the phrase “all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up.” The schedule I was referring to was the melting, which will take decades; the thawing is a process, not an event.

    I count 9 statements, of which the last is a summary. 8 of them are correct; the 9th is technically correct but misleading due to the omitted context. That isn’t ‘mostly wrong.’

    As to ‘not conducive to action’, I’m not sure why an article purporting to describe a reality needs to be ‘conducive to action’, however much I personally favor said action. Nor do I see how assessing such can be much more than purely subjective. (Even if extreme examples, like Guy McPherson, may get pretty good agreement from a wide range of assessors.)

    My subjective opinion is that TUE is not unreasonable in this regard. The conclusion of the piece is worth quoting here:

    Nevertheless, by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans — a confidence perhaps bolstered by their appreciation for climate change, which is, after all, a human invention, too. They point to the Apollo project, the hole in the ozone we patched in the 1980s,The Montreal Protocol, which was finalized in 1987, regulated the use of ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs. Its effects in shrinking the ozone hole began to be measurable in 2000. the passing of the fear of mutually assured destruction. Now we’ve found a way to engineer our own doomsday, and surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another. The planet is not used to being provoked like this, and climate systems designed to give feedback over centuries or millennia prevent us — even those who may be watching closely — from fully imagining the damage done already to the planet. But when we do truly see the world we’ve made, they say, we will also find a way to make it livable.

    More directly to the point of actionability is this, from about halfway through the first section:

    What follows is not a series of predictions of what will happen — that will be determined in large part by the much-less-certain science of human response. Instead, it is a portrait of our best understanding of where the planet is heading absent aggressive action. It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency. But those scenarios, and not the present climate, are the baseline. In fact, they are our schedule.

    I don’t wish to accuse anyone here of denialism (well, excepting a couple of obvious ‘self-incriminators’ in this regard) but I find it rather difficult to understand the animus against TUE. IMO, it’s a piece which is quite obviously carefully reported, in the sense of documenting specific factual claims made, if not so much one in the sense of carefully summarizing and interpreting them.

    And again, IMO, it’s a valuable service to get that ‘fat tail’ of risk out there and discussed. Far too few people know that outdoor temperatures in some places could become literally unserviveable; or that climate feedbacks could remove any human control of the warming process that we are undergoing; or that malaria is going to be a much more widespread problem; or that AGW is a serious security risk. Et effing cetera.

    Now a good number more know these things. YMMV, but I think that is almost certainly ‘more conducive to action’ than fewer knowing.

  46. 396
    Mr. Know It All says:

    381 Mike

    Yes, Hot in the PNW this week starting tomorrow.
    Portland all-time record was 107 on July 30, 1965 when CO2 was, what, 50 ppm lower than today? Also hit that temperature on Aug 8 and 10 in 1981. We may break that record Wednesday or Thursday this week.,_Oregon#Climate

    It gets hot in the summer…….
    Aug 1 6:49 pm

  47. 397
    Killian says:

    It’s not fair to take a chunk out of climate scientists for reticence when it’s in their DNA, so to speak, but I am forever amazed at the rather foolish, imo, sanguinity of the layperson and the pundit. The risk assessment goes right over their heads. The proper analysis goes over their heads.

    Worst Case Scenarios:
    Result: Collapse, extinction.
    Time line: 10 yrs

    It’s as if the need for it all to be OK overwhelmes rational thought. This isn’t a case of there might be a bullet coming, there is a bullet coming. The consensus here seems to be don’t duck too fast, you might throw a disk.

    The psych? I have some background there. People freak w bad news? Sure. If you only tell them they will die. If you tell them how not to die? They act. You Sanguinistas/Duck Slowliers ignore this little factoid from psychology.

    If you don’t tell people the actual problem, how can they possibly make the right decisions? Another little gem you are leaving out.

    But, then, I’ve been on the correct side of the risk analysis since 2007, so maybe this is just old hat for me.

    Need to borrow my hat? Yes, yes you do.