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Alsup asks for answers

Some of you might have read about the lawsuit by a number of municipalities (including San Francisco and Oakland) against the major oil companies for damages (related primarily to sea level rise) caused by anthropogenic climate change. The legal details on standing, jurisdiction, etc. are all very interesting (follow @ColumbiaClimate for those details), but somewhat uniquely, the judge (William Alsup) has asked for a tutorial on climate science (2 hours of evidence from the plaintiffs and the defendents). Furthermore, he has posted a list of eight questions that he’d like the teams to answer.

It’s an interesting list. They are quite straightforward (with one or two oddities), but really, pretty much textbook stuff. Andrew Dessler made a quick stab at answering them on Twitter:

But I think we can do better. So what I propose is that we crowd-source the responses. They should be pithy, to the point, with references (not Wikipedia) and, preferentially, accompanied by a good graphic or two. If we can give a credible uncertainty to any numbers in the answer that’s a bonus. I’ve made a start on each, but further voices are needed. Put your response in the comments and I’ll elevate the best ones (giving credit of course) to the main post. If you have any other comments or edits to suggest, feel free to do so. The best of those will also be incorporated. [Update: I realise I can’t possibly incorporate all the good suggestions while still keeping this short. So be sure to read the comments too for additional material. Also, as I should have said to start with, the best responses to these kinds of questions (though not to these specifically) are to be found in the FAQ of the IPCC report, the Royal Society/National Academies report, and the US. National Climate Assessment science report.]

Alsup’s Questions:

  1. What caused the various ice ages (including the “little ice age” and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they melted, by how much did sea level rise?
  2. What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?
  3. What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?
  4. Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?
  5. Apart from CO2, what happens to the collective heat from tail pipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere?
  6. In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale CO2 but plants absorb CO2 and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of CO2 back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of CO2?
  7. What are the main sources of CO2 that account for the incremental buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere?
  8. What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?

Alsup’s Answers:

Note this is an updating text. Last edit: March 16, 2018

  1. The “ice ages” are the dominant cycles of change over the last 2.5 million years (Snyder, 2016):

    Ice age cycles from Snyder (2016)

    They vary in extent and duration. They generally were larger in the last 800,000 years, and the duration changed from about 40,000 years in the first half to about 100,000 years in the later period. It was discovered in the 1970s that the cycles were highly correlated to changes in the variability of the Earth’s orbit – the so-called Milankovich cycles (Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton, 1976). More recent work has shown that the growth and collapse of the ice sheets is strongly tied to the incoming solar radiation (insolation) at high latitudes (Roe, 2006):

    The magnitude of the cycles is strongly modified by various feedbacks, including ice-albedo, dust, vegetation and, of course, the carbon cycle which amplify the direct effects of the orbital changes. Estimates of the drivers of global temperature change in the ice ages show that the changes in greenhouse gases (CO2, methane and nitrous oxide) made up about a third of the effect, amplifying the ice sheet changes by about 50% (Köhler et al, 2010).

    The sea level changes over these cycles was large. The difference between the last glacial maximum (20,000 yrs ago) and today is about 120 meters (400 ft), but the high levels during some of the warmest interglacials were 6-9 meters (20 to 30 feet) higher than today. These changes are dominated by the amount of ice volume change.

    The so-called “Little Ice Age” was a cooling of the Northern Hemisphere climate (and possibly less markedly in the Southern Hemisphere) in the period of the fourteenth century to the the 1850’s, approximately. It came after a period of a relatively warm climate called the Medieval Warm Period. The cause of this relatively short lived cooling (it was not a true “ice age”) is likely due to an increase in volcanic eruptions and with some role for a slightly reduced solar activity. Over the Holocene (last 11,000 yrs) there is a small but persistent cooling trend due to the orbital cycles mentioned above.

  2. Greenhouse gases are those that are able to absorb and emit radiation in the infrared, but this is highly dependent on the gases molecular structure. Vibrational modes in molecules with three or more atoms (H2O, CO2, O3, N2O, CH4, CFCs, HFCs…) include bending motions that are easier to excite and so will absorb and emit low energy photons which coincide with the infrared radiation that the Earth emits. Thus it is these molecules that intercept the radiation that the Earth emits, delaying its escape to space. More detailed discussion including the importance of the gases dipole moment can be found here. Diatomic molecules (like N2 or O2) have stretching modes (with the distance between the two molecules expanding and contracting), but these require a lot of energy (so they absorb only at higher energies. Some absorption is possible in the infrared due to collisions but calculations suggest this is a very small part (~0.2%) of the overall greenhouse effect (around 0.3 W/m2, compared to a total effect of 155 W/m2) (Höpfner et al, 2012).

    Figure showing the vibrational modes for CO2. Arrows indicate the directions of motion. Vibrations labeled A and B represent the stretching of the chemical bonds, one in a symmetric (A) fashion, in which both C=O bonds lengthen and contract together (in-phase), and the other in an asymmetric (B) fashion, in which one bond shortens while the other lengthens. The asymmetric stretch (B) is infrared active (allowed by quantum mechanics) because there is a change in the molecular dipole moment during this vibration. Infrared radiation at 2349 (4.26 um) excites this particular vibration. The symmetric stretch is not infrared active, and so this vibration is not observed in the infrared spectrum of CO2. The two equal-energy bending vibrations in CO2 (C and D) are identical except that one bending mode is in the plane of the paper, and one is out of the plane. Infrared radiation at 667 (15.00 um) excites these vibrations. (source)

  3. The Earth’s surface emits infrared radiation. This is absorbed by greenhouse gases, which through collisions with other molecules cause the atmosphere to heat up. Emission from greenhouse gases (in all directions, including downwards) adds to the warming at the surface.

    The figure shows the easiest mathematical description of the greenhouse effect. The downward radiation from greenhouse gases can be easily measured at the surface in nights under clear skies and no other heat sources in the atmosphere (e.g. Philipona and Dürr, 2004).

  4. Yes, but not enough to matter. The latest update to the estimates of radiative forcing of CO2 (Etminan et al., 2016) shows a shortwave effect (i.e. a change in the absorption of downward solar radiation) is about -0.14 W/m2 for CO2 going from 389 to 700 ppm (compared to 3.43W/m2 in longwave forcing) – contributing to about a 4% decrease in the net forcing.
  5. Direct heat generated by the total use of fossil fuels and other forms of energy adds up to about 18TW [IEA,2017]. Spread over the planet that is 0.04W/m2. Compared to anthropogenic forcings since 1750 of about 2.29±1.1W/m2 [IPCC AR5, Figure SPM 5], it’s about 1/100th the size. Locally however (say in cities or urban environments), this can be more concentrated and have a bigger impact.
  6. The grade school calculation is still valid. All animals (including humans) breathe in oxygen and exhale CO2. The carbon in the exhaled CO2 comes from the food that the animals have eaten, which comes (ultimately) from carbon that plants have taken from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. So respiration is basically carbon neutral (it releases CO2 to the atmosphere that came from the atmosphere very recently). Plants do take up CO2 as they are growing. With higher CO2 concentrations (and higher temperature), plants in fact increase their CO2 uptake somewhat but not as much as would be needed to absorb all the human-caused emissions. Of these emissions only about a quarter is absorbed by plants, while another 20% is absorbed by the oceans, but about half of the emissions stay in the atmosphere.

    Note that any net change in biomass (whether trees, or cows or even humans) does affect atmospheric CO2, but the direct impact of human population growth is tiny even though our indirect effects have been huge. For scale, the increase of 3 billion people over the last 40 years, is equivalent to:

    0.185 (fraction of carbon by mass) * 80 kg (average mass of a human) * 3 billion (additional humans) * 10-3 (conversion to GtC) / 40 years = 0.001 GtC/yr

    which, compared to current fossil fuel and deforestation emissions of ~10 GtC/yr is 4 orders of magnitude too small to be relevant.

  7. Main sources of human CO2 emissions are fossil fuel burning and (net) deforestation. This figure is from the Global Carbon Project in 2017.

  8. Prior to ~1750, atmospheric CO2 had been stable (within a few ppm) for millenia sustained by a balance between natural sources and sinks. This figure shows the changes seen in ice cores and the instrumental record.

  9. This is the biggie. What is the attribution for the temperature trends in recent decades? The question doesn’t specify a time-scale, so let’s assume either the last 60 years or so (which corresponds to the period specifically addressed by the IPCC, or the whole difference between now and the ‘pre-industrial’ (say the decades around 1850) (differences as a function of baseline are minimal). For the period since 1950, all credible studies are in accord with the IPCC AR5 statement:

    It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

    The US National Climate Assessment attribution statement is a bit more specific than the one in IPCC:

    The likely range of the human contribution to the global mean temperature increase over the period 1951–2010 is 1.1° to 1.4°F (0.6° to 0.8°C), and the central estimate of the observed warming of 1.2°F (0.65°C) lies within this range (high confidence). This translates to a likely human contribution of 93%–123% of the observed 1951–2010 change. It is extremely likely that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate (high confidence). The likely contributions of natural forcing and internal variability to global temperature change over that period are minor (high confidence).

    This summary graphic is useful:

    Basically, all of the warming trend in the last ~60yrs is anthropogenic (a combination of greenhouse gases, aerosols, land use change, ozone etc.). To get a sense of the breakdown of that per contribution for the global mean temperature, and over a longer time-period, the Bloomberg data visualization, using data from GISS simulations is very useful.

    The difference in the bottom line for attribution for the last ~160 years is that while there is more uncertainty (since aerosol and solar forcings are increasingly shaky that far back), the big picture isn’t any different. The best estimate of the anthropogenic contribution is close to the entire warming. The potential for a solar contribution is slightly higher (perhaps up to 10% assuming maximum estimates for the forcing and impacts). In all cases, the forcing from anthropogenic greenhouse gases alone is greater than the observed warming.

    Figure 10.5 from IPCC. Assessed likely ranges (whiskers) and their mid-points (bars) for attributable warming trends over the 1951–2010 period due to well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHG), other anthropogenic forcings (OA) (mainly aerosols), natural forcings (NAT), combined anthropogenic forcings (ANT), and internal variability.

    The role of internal climate variability gets smaller as the time-scale increases, but needs to be accounted for in these assessments. Note too that this can go both ways, internal variability might have wanted to cool overall in one period, and warm in another.


  1. C.W. Snyder, "Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years", Nature, vol. 538, pp. 226-228, 2016.
  2. J.D. Hays, J. Imbrie, and N.J. Shackleton, "Variations in the Earth's Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages", Science, vol. 194, pp. 1121-1132, 1976.
  3. G. Roe, "In defense of Milankovitch", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, 2006.
  4. P. Köhler, R. Bintanja, H. Fischer, F. Joos, R. Knutti, G. Lohmann, and V. Masson-Delmotte, "What caused Earth's temperature variations during the last 800,000 years? Data-based evidence on radiative forcing and constraints on climate sensitivity", Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 29, pp. 129-145, 2010.
  5. M. Höpfner, M. Milz, S. Buehler, J. Orphal, and G. Stiller, "The natural greenhouse effect of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2)", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39, pp. n/a-n/a, 2012.
  6. R. Philipona, and B. Dürr, "Greenhouse forcing outweighs decreasing solar radiation driving rapid temperature rise over land", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 31, 2004.
  7. M. Etminan, G. Myhre, E.J. Highwood, and K.P. Shine, "Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 43, pp. 12,614-12,623, 2016.

247 Responses to “Alsup asks for answers”

  1. 201
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Mr. KIA … Maldives

    yeah, and there was no change in global CO2 during the daylight hours yesterday either.

    You’ll need to use the Victor Mark One Eyeball to convince yourself there’s no change or trend in sea level there.

  2. 202
  3. 203
    SystemicCausation says:

    Here’s an excellent example of how to write really well and thus communicate effectively to the public and others in authority the issues related with climate science denial and the few academics and scientists who choose the other team. One example of many already out there.

  4. 204
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Maldives building new higher island due to future sea level rise:

    Hank – 202
    Why did sea level go down 40 to 60 mm on multiple occasions per your graph since the graph says “seasonal variations removed”?

    The UN will help:

  5. 205
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mr. KIA — it’s not my graph. But LMGTFY:

    The Maldives: A Measure of Sea Level Changes and Sea Level Ethics

    (Mörner et al., 2008). In the past 4,000 years, it has experienced several short-term sea level highs in the order of þ0.6e1.2 m (Fig. 2; Mörner, 2007a). We do not blame glacial eustasy for those oscillations, rather ocean dynamic factors like drastic changes in evaporation/precipitation or redistributions of the water masses.

  6. 206
    Hank Roberts says:

    And further for Mr. KIA — you see, the trick is to find the terminology used for the subject you’re interested in, then add that to your search. For example:

  7. 207
    jgnfld says:


    Re. “Why did sea level go down 40 to 60 mm on multiple occasions per your graph since the graph says ‘seasonal variations removed’?”

    Uh, because there are sources of noise/error in the system not explained by annual variation + the linear trend like in most regressions?

  8. 208

    #204, KIA–

    Here, try a more up-to-date story on the topic:

    One of those is the City of Hope being built on an artificial island called Hulhumale, near the capital Male. To build it, a state-owned company is pumping sand from surrounding atolls and depositing it on shallow reefs that surround the original lagoon. It is being fortified with walls 3 metres above sea level — which is higher than the highest natural island at only 2.5 metres above the sea.

    Much of the island still looks like a construction site with mountains of sand piled up, but, according to the shiny plastic model I am shown, when finished in 2023 it will be able to accommodate about 130,000 people.

    Eight such islands have already been built, and three more are planned.

    Sounds like a big deal for a developing country whose only real industry is tourism. How can this be financed? Well, you could lease some of your land out to someone with money:

    …the Maldives government is in the final stages of negotiation with Saudi Arabia to lease Faafu Atoll, consisting of 23 islands, for development for 99 years.

    It could get about $10 billion – more than three times the GDP of the Maldives – from the deal, but will need to relocate about 4000 people.

    Guess they are not *too* worried… but maybe they should be, since:

    Last year, more than 60 per cent of the corals in this region experienced bleaching because of the effect of the El Niño weather phenomenon, and they may take a decade to recover.

    Not only do reefs attract tourists, but they protect the islands from increased erosion as sea levels rise. So those corals are *really* precious. But island ‘reclamation’ may involve dumping sand on top of corals, potentially killing them, so:

    [Activist Hassan] Ahmed, meanwhile, organised the relocation of some of the corals that became threatened during the reclamation of Hulhumale. He thinks this should be a standard procedure in all similar projects.

  9. 209
    Hank Roberts says:

    The video can serve as a valuable instructional tool for those wanting to better explain or understand global sea-level rise trends and prospects. There are some painful, and even dire, concerns expressed about the potential that Greenland ice sheets could be “entirely lost” if emissions continue at a business-as-usual pace; about the rate of sea-level rise increasing “faster and faster with time”; and about the planet’s ice sheets likely becoming “more active” over coming decades than they have been over recent decades.

    But scientist Eric Rignot, PhD, of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose research about three years ago pointed to bleak long-term glacier melt prospects for the western Antarctica, says he holds out hope for some “pretty good news.”

    Rignot says that some took from his earlier research that “we’re doomed. There’s nothing we can do about it, so why even bother?”

    Not necessarily, Rignot says. “There’s still a lot of things we can do” if the planet can be kept cooler than the 1.5- to 2-degree Centigrade increase targeted in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Seeking to now provide “a little bit of balance to this concept of unstoppable retreat” of the Antarctic ice sheet, Rignot clings to hope the global community can “actually, possibly, prevent some of the big ice sheets” from inevitably melting.

  10. 210
    Mitch says:

    On small islands low to sea level there is another problem, which is the freshwater lens. As sea level rises, the lens of freshwater delivered by rainfall shrinks. Building a higher island may also help to provide a freshwater reservoir. Meanwhile, much of the drinking water is already contaminated:

  11. 211
  12. 212
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the trick is to find the terminology

    Further for Mr. KIA, in case he’s afeared of following those links I suggested:

    Trick! He said it’s a trick!

    hat tip to Throbgoblins:

  13. 213
    Hank Roberts says:

    This seems similar, somehow.


    (CNN)Big Pharma should pay the billions it will take to fix the opioid crisis it created in Arkansas, a first-of-its-kind lawsuit says.
    The suit, filed last week in Crittenden County Circuit Court, brings together 215 Arkansas cities and all 75 counties in the state and accuses opioid manufacturers of wreaking havoc by aggressively pushing the drugs from the early 2000s to the present, leading to hundreds of overdose deaths while straining law enforcement and public health resources.
    Opioid manufacturers, the suit alleges, “falsely touted the benefits of long-term opioid use, including the supposed ability of opioids to improve function and quality of life, even though there was no ‘good evidence’ to support their claims.

    “Each manufacturer defendant knew that its misrepresentations of the risks and benefits of opioids were not supported by, or were directly contrary, to the scientific evidence,” says the suit….

  14. 214
  15. 215
    Hank Roberts says:

    The news will continue to come in for this topic. Alsup asked for further comment from the US government.
    We can guess what that will be:

  16. 216
  17. 217
  18. 218
    Hank Roberts says:

    Something the methane sellers should have been taking care of — besides pipe leaks — pilot lights!

    Yeah, eliminating pilot lights removes an income stream to the gas company and a cost to the homeowner.
    But it would also eliminate a significant amount of combustion:

    Pilot Lights are Evil | Do the Math

    Mar 6, 2012 – Having uncovered this ugly truth, I promptly shut off the furnace pilot light, since we were unlikely to need heating any more that year. In doing so, I found its contribution to be 7.3 Therm/mo, or about $10/mo, and twice as large as that of the (remaining) hot water heater’s pilot….

  19. 219
    SystemicCausation says:

    “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

    True enough. Accurate.

    The other states: “While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.”

    True enough. Accurate.

    What’s the problem?

    “implying we are telling people to downplay climate change is a gross over misrepresentation of the facts.”

    Seems a plausible response, though saying “gross over” is unnecessary verbiage.

    Last year, the EPA reassigned the four staffers in the policy office who worked on climate adaptation, shuttered its program on climate adaptation and proposed eliminating funding for programs that deal with rising seas and warming temperatures.

    Well that’s what you get by voting in those who promised to do just that and more. Pruit and Trump had a mandate form the 2016 election to do just that. I think it’s mindless, but what could any American citizen expect other than that kind of policy implementation?

    Don’t like it? Vote them out. Simple.

  20. 220
    SystemicCausation says:

    I agree about Stoat, it’s trivia.

    …. but this is trivia, in the great scheme of things. Indeed, it begins to seem more like a knee-jerk from people who simply knew they were going to find something in the science Chevron presented to disagree with.

    Yes, the 5Ps – proper planning prevents poor performance.

    Might have sounded like doing a short Tutorial aka at Uni, but the facts are it wasn’t and never was going to be. All that ‘gas’ wasted on this thread and all the others across the ‘interverse’. The answers should already have been written by climate scientists and very well known publicly long before a Judge requested it.

    But, humans are slow learners.


    “FF companies producing FFs don’t cause GW, people burning FFs provided to them by FF companies cause GW”.

    A valid pov. Legally sound. It’s a legal product. You never saw this coming? Seriously? WOW!

  21. 221
    Alastair B. McDonald says:


    Can you find any links to the tutorials or Alsup’s response to them? Was he convinced? And what point did he want clearing up, when he tried to stop one of the tutorials?

    The only reports available so far seem to be on the spin others have on the meeting.

  22. 222
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Hank and Gavin,

    It seems from WUWT that the tutorial did not do down too well with the judge.

    But there is evidence of malpractice by the oil companies here: Are the lawyers aware of that?

  23. 223
    nigelj says:

    Systemic Causation @219, 220

    I agree Pruit and Trumps climate policy is crazy.

    “All that ‘gas’ wasted on this thread and all the others across the ‘interverse’”

    You are wating a lot of gas yourself, lots of rhetorical verbiage in both posts.

    “The answers should already have been written by climate scientists and very well known publicly long before a Judge requested it.”

    You are being unjustifiably critical. There are plenty of good books and well written websites on climate science (NASAs website is good) all written in fairly non technical language. The judge wanted answers to specific questions probably to save him hunting around. I cant see a problem with that.

    And I think you are getting the climate communications things a bit wrong. The climate communications handbook didn’t have to apply in full to Judge Alsup because has a engineering degree so the answers to his questions could be fairly technical.The handbook is more for a general audience.

  24. 224
    Dave says:

    {My time at the moment is under big guns, and I’ve only managed to complete the first three of the promised ‘4 & ½’ differences. More later …}

    Alsup Query # 2

    This question inherently raises esoteric issues deriving from the mysteries of “Quantum Physics,” that are perhaps best left treated at only arm’s length. But, the FOUR (& ½) ESSENTIAL differences distinguishing our Earth’s transparent Bulk Gases (N2 & O2), from those which are “radiatively active” [but NOT ‘radi-O-active,’ a nuclear phenomenon] within the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (IR), and thereby become the planet’s “Climatic Drivers”, are:

    1) The IR “ACTIVE” gas molecules (mainly H2O*, CO2, CH4 & various Oxides of Nitrogen) are comprised of 3, or more atoms . . . [not TWO, as are the BULKS]; …
    2) … whose constituent ‘parts,’ or ATOMS, are Dissimilar (& NOT, as with the bulk gases, IDENTICAL);

    3) . . . due to (2) above, the RADIATIVELY-ACTIVE–in the IR–molecules’ atoms differ from one another, both as to their weights as well as in their ‘outer-electron’ configurations. The former difference inspires complex vibratory resonances within their molecules when they are struck in radiation-inducing collisions with other molecules, while the latter distinction, that is the ‘outer electron shell populations, configurations, & ‘quantum states & propensities,’ etc.,’ yield (or, should you prefer, “cause”) all manner of wildly differing ‘quantum behaviors.’ Including, in particular, their interactions with certain of the Traveling Electromagnetic Waves. Notably, those in the infrared frequency and wavelength portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, but not, or nearly hardly, within its visible portion. And promiscuously, in lots of ways.

    In comparison, the simpler “Dumb-bell” shaped bulk gases, perform something of a QM Trick, whereby their Vibrations, when struck, precisely Cancel one another. (Incidentally, you CAN See, the very weak interactions exerted twixt these two sets of plentiful molecules, and the “blued” sky, upon bright days. However, when the sun sets on such days, you can also see how weakly these interactions affect light Transmission, given that our stars shine through them, their weak light virtually unimpeded. And, we can also see that the colored surface of Mars, say, shines through, as well as bluish light from our brighter stars, such as Sirius, Orion’s Dog).

  25. 225
    Hank Roberts says:

    Can you find any links to the tutorials or Alsup’s response to them?

    Nope. Perhaps someone who knows the climate scientists who participated could inquire.
    I’d been hoping someone video’taped’ the proceeding but haven’t seen anything about such attention.

  26. 226
    Hank Roberts says:

    Er, Dave — it’s already happened. The tutorial session is over, answers to the questions have been presented.

    There’s more happening. Stoat and Rabett Run are keeping track of the subsequent submissions of opinion and argument.

  27. 227
  28. 228
    S.B. Ripman says:

    One strategem of the attorney for the oil companies, Mr. Boutrous, that of accepting the IPCC reports as the gold standard for climate research, seems rather brilliant. Not only does it disarm the indignant scientists and politicians who were preparing to use the trial as a soapbox for the idea that the oil companies were part of the gaggle of idiots denying the reality of anthropogenic climate change, it adopts as the absolute standard for climate science one of the more conservative standards in existence. For is it not true that the IPCC is comprised of a wide range of scientist and they all must agree on the content of their reports, that some of said scientists are either on the payroll of oil-dependent nations or are politically conservative, and that the IPCC predictions have consistently underestimated the effects of climate change in terms of temperature rise, sea level rise, ice cap diminution, etc.?

  29. 229
    Hank Roberts says:

    is it not true that the IPCC is comprised of a wide range of scientist and they all must agree on the content of their reports

    Yes, that is not true.


  30. 230
  31. 231
    Dr. Systemic Causation says:

    228 S.B. Ripman, all obvious and expected from the get go. Though yours is a very valid accurate comment that stands out from the rest of the pack. You’re right.

  32. 232
    Dr. Systemic Causation says:

    222 Alastair B. McDonald says:
    Are the lawyers aware of that?

    Waste of time asking Gavin or anyone here. Contact the lawyers direct. That’s probably another waste of time, but you never know until you try. There you may be heard at least.

  33. 233
    Dr. Systemic Causation says:

    227 Hank Roberts and his Columbia Law links via WC Stoat – always good to share, of course. The docs have been available at columbia law starting in 2017 and been progressively upload weekly as the case progressed.

    Perhaps that was a good place to start when this crowd sourcing exercise aka fishing expedition began?

    Always good to be mindful the validated science of the Dunning-Krugar Effect has proven the objective reality does not necessarily reflect one’s strongly held personal beliefs nor do people typically hold an accurate self-evaluation of one’s own level of expertise and rightness.

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall observing how many commenters here have actually read those files and what they think about them – versus their own contributions from Gavin down. Reinventing the wheel comes to mind here. As does the left hand never speaking to the right hand as a metaphor of communications breakdown 24/7/365 and a total lack of team work and no cooperation.

    Please note the last sentence of 71 pages from Exhibit 5: presentation on “Understanding how carbon dioxide emissions from human activity contribute to global climate change”).

    “The need for net zero CO2 emissions emerged post‐2000.

    This thread here plus the multiple other websites fora doing the same thing seems to me to be a classic case of spinning one’s wheels in mud and going nowhere fast.

    The human drivers to believe one is doing something really useful and constructive is incredibly strong. The human drivers to feel like one belongs to a powerful group with the highest of integrity, morality and rightness is equally strong. Sad, but true.

    More wasted pixels no doubt as the Moderator says:

    “It’s off to the bore hole for you pal, no one is Listening and that’s all your fault not theirs nor mine!”

  34. 234
    Digby Scorgie says:

    S.B. Ripman @228

    Does it matter? Although the IPCC reports are conservative, accepting their validity commits the fossil-fuel industry to agreeing that (1) climate change is real, (2) humans are causing it and (3) it’s dangerous. The degree of the danger is almost immaterial.

    What is more important is that the fossil-fuel industry knew about the danger in the 1970s, perhaps even the 1960s, and what they did about it was to fund a massive campaign of denial.

  35. 235
    Dr. Systemic Causation says:

    Although the IPCC reports are conservative, accepting their validity commits the fossil-fuel industry to agreeing that (1) climate change is real, (2) humans are causing it and (3) it’s dangerous.

    Great. Doesn’t commit them to doing anything about it.

    That’s 100% all your problem, my problem, the next person’s not theirs. Stop using fossil fuels – problem solved.

    But why are you all blaming them and self-righteously pretending you’re all so innocent of harming the planet as much as the next guy or the nearest FF shareholder?

    metaphorical tip is to:
    Stop crying over spilled milk and stop being delusional and stop all the mythical thinking about this issue. An ounce of logic couldn’t hurt!

  36. 236
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Re 227,

    Thanks, Hank, and WC, for that link. It has all the tutorial slideshows:

  37. 237
    S.B. Ripman says:

    Hank Roberts #229: Thanks for direction to the IPCC review and approval process … which nevertheless gives the impression that the reports, prior to publication, must be substantially “de-fanged” and/or brought into accord with the lowest common denominator.

  38. 238
    S.B. Ripman says:

    Scorgie #234: Yes, it matters. In order to prevail in a legal action seeking damages, a plaintiff must show causation: namely, that actions of the defendant have substantially caused the damage suffered by the plaintiff. In the case at hand, the thread of causation is awfully thin. No matter how scurrilous the actions of the oil companies, will the plaintiffs be able to show that the actions have resulted in higher atmospheric CO2 levels, rising seas, and significant increased infrastructure costs for the plaintiffs? Highly unlikely, given all the other causes, and their magnitudes, and given the conservative estimates of climate trends, presented in the IPCC reports.

  39. 239
    Hank Roberts says:

    How Do Big Oil Companies Talk about Climate Science? Four Takeaways from a Day in Court

  40. 240
    No Causation says:

    238 S.B. Ripman: “and given the conservative estimates of climate trends, presented in the IPCC reports.”

    It’s where reality and the legal system comes back and slaps governments, the UNFCC, the IPCC and a majority of climate scientists on the ass real hard. But they won’t care. There will be no consequences on them.

    Even very little personal guilt either due to cognitive dissonance, self-delusions etc etc.

    March had the highest monthly average GMSTA of 2018 (even though we are currently in a La Nina event)

    CO2 for March up 2.28 ppmv again – showing no decrease in the long term increasing trend rate even post the 2015-2016 Major El Nino event.

    What’s Alsup or the SCOTUS gonna do about that?

    What are the tens of thousands of climate scientists doing about that or could do about that?

  41. 241
    Dan DaSilva says:

    240 No Causation, 238 S.B. Ripman

    Hello Guys,
    At what point do you go beyond the 97%? Can you ever be so alarmist that the consensus disagrees with you? If you are out that far do still use the consensus argument?

    Can actually go so far that you are a denier of science?

    Any response would be appreciated.

  42. 242
    Hank Roberts says:

    Last month, one of the largest lobbying groups argued in a regulatory filing that the basic science behind climate change is not to be trusted.

    In the same filing, the lobbying group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, also cast doubt on the negative effects of tailpipe pollution on human health.

    Hat tip to:

  43. 243
    Hank Roberts says:

    > ever be so alarmist that the consensus disagrees with you?

    Oh, yeah, there are plenty of those out there. Far out there.
    Like most “end of the world” predictions, the dates keep going by and the new dates keep being promoted.
    Some day soon they’ll be right, no doubt.

  44. 244
    Hank Roberts says:

    > … alarmist …?

    Even smart people. You can look this stuff up. Climate Feedback rates claims, for example this one:

  45. 245
    Jon Herim says:

    I mean:

    global average sfc T anomalies [as] indicative of anomalies in outgoing energy…is not well supported over the historical temperature record in the model ensemble or more recent satellite observations

  46. 246
    Rani S says:


  47. 247

    I can address question 2. N2 and O2 are GHGs – there has been a mistake in the physics. N2 and O2 are only special because they are not thermoelectric – not able to generate and emf from thermo-electric transducers. N2 and O2 quantum mechanics predicted IR spectra (1556 and 2338 cm-1 respectively) and are detected, and their temperatures can be measured by modern Raman Laser instruments. I can prove by the laws of radiation/heat physics they too are ‘greenhouse gases’. H2O mode at 3562 is both Raman and IR thermoelectic and it temperature can be measured by both. There are only GH gases, no special ones; but it looks like N2, by theory and operations of CO2 Laser, where metastable N2 2338cm mode is radiated and it heats the CO2 2349cm to operation ‘Lasing’ temperatures. The same should, and does apply in the atmosphere – a natural CO2 laser using the suns energy has been produced. N2 dominates by transferring its energy directly to CO2. Quantum and thermodynamic theory show all gases are equivalent with respect to radiation, and it is the instruments that are special. Raman Laser is well used and is the instrument of choice for space probe detectors.
    The Tyndall ‘special GHGs’ are really only the thermo-electric gases (my words),as they are detected by thermoelectric transducers (thermopiles and the like, as used by Tyndall and in kin of those used in all ‘IR’ spectroscopy) and the non-greenhouse gases