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Unforced variations: May 2018

Filed under: — group @ 4 May 2018

This month’s (slightly delayed) open thread on climate science topics.

238 Responses to “Unforced variations: May 2018”

  1. 51
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Re #48,

    Can you let us have the name of the book, or even just where he got Einstein’s ideas wrong? Einstein is now regarded as a demi-god and anyone who dares to criticise him is immediately labelled a moron. He did get a few things wrong.

  2. 52
    mike says:

    the most recent (weak) La Nina event? It’s over, baby. from Bob Henson at

    La Niña conditions no longer existed in the tropical Pacific Ocean, with cool-neutral conditions prevailing in April, said NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) in its May 10 monthly advisory. The weak La Niña event that began in August 2017 is now over, something the Australian Bureau of Meteorology concurred with in their April 13 biweekly report.

    May 09: 410.10 ppm

    should be fine. Not skyrockety at all. No worries.



  3. 53
    Dan DaSilva says:

    48 nigelj
    None of us are as smart as we think we are. It feels good to point that out as long as does not apply to me. The only problem is it applies to me also and according to comments on this site it must apply double for me.

    Take cheer, you maybe are right and the catastrophe is in progress.

    DDS (one of the many dummies)

  4. 54
    Hank Roberts says:

    > he just wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t grasp the basics

    Yeah. Personal experience in limited conditions, and logic, can lead even careful thinkers astray. My ‘favorite’ example:

  5. 55
    nigelj says:

    Alistair McDonald @51, no sorry I can’t remember the title of the book. He was claiming special and general relativity was fundamentally flawed. This seems very unlikely to me, and he wasn’t just talking about the difficulty reconciling relativity and quantum theory, he was saying everything was wrong!

    But yes Einstein was wrong about some things. Its funny how we start to worship people, and can’t abide the fact they may be less than perfect.

  6. 56
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @52,
    To cherry-pick ones reporting is something we expect from those scurrilous denialists. So forgive me if I complete your unskyrockety CO2 report for you.

    Daily CO2

    May 9, 2018: 410.10 ppm
    May 9, 2017: 409.43 ppm – annual increase 0.67ppm – very noisy number.

  7. 57
    sam says:

    Wondering if the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide numbers might be off because of the (relatively new) eruption of Kilauea? Mixing should keep it uniform but is that true with a large point source not that far from the detector? I know that it has been erupting continuously for a long time but the perception is that the timing of the problem data seems to match with the appearance of the new lava flows.

  8. 58
    nigelj says:

    Something intriguing on the considerable scale of change, and relationship to the biosphere. “Alien Waters: Neighboring Seas Are Flowing into a Warming Arctic Ocean”

  9. 59
  10. 60
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #55

    Very interesting article, aliens in the arctic, eating the ice from below, “changing the whole table”. There was a link beneath that arctic article:

    But that’s not science, not rational and there’s no real money in it, so it can’t be serious, right? :)

  11. 61
  12. 62
    Carrie says:

    Week beginning on April 29, 2018: 409.63 ppm
    Weekly value from 1 year ago: 409.02 ppm – annual increase 0.61ppm – very noisy number showing cherry-picked fraudulent skyrockety CO2 emissions growth rates of unscientific extremists and radicals has been solved.


  13. 63
    Carrie says:

    100,000 Video Game Players Helped Scientists Prove Einstein Wrong


  14. 64
    Ray Ladbury says:

    DDS, So, here’s something on which you might be able to enlighten us–how do cranks pick the topic on which they choose to be monomaniacally wrong? With you, it’s climate (well, and evolution, among others). When I was doing physics journalism, it was almost always relativity (although we did occasionally get a perpetual-motion freak).

    But, why these topics? Why not quantum entanglement or quantum indeterminacy? Surely, the implications of these subjects for your concept of reality are more disturbing. Why not gravity? After all, that is what is keeping humans stuck on Earth so they can’t go out and despoil other planets.

    How do you pick your favorite crank subjects?

  15. 65
    Mike says:

    Daily CO2

    May 11, 2018: 411.71 ppm

    May 11, 2017: 409.79 ppm

    Looks like a spikey day. Don’t make too much of it. I am happy to see MLO numbers showing up again. To some extent, the yoy increase numbers don’t/won’t mean much as we enter an era where discussion turns to the need to actually send the number in the other direction through geoengineering and carbon capture technology. I am not optimistic about geoengineering and doubt that carbon capture technology will scale up to stop the rise. I think as time passes now, it will become increasingly apparent that the world with CO2 numbers above 405 ppm is inhospitable. Dr. Mann said in 2014 (seems so long ago now) that we should avoid crossing 405. I think he was right, but we crossed it anyway and we are still going up, baby. The needle needs to go in the other direction.



  16. 66
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury says “How do you (DDS) pick your favorite crank subjects?”

    I would guess (because I have an opinion on everything) the reasons the cranks pick evolution is because it upsets their religious leanings, and they pick relativity because it forbids faster than light travel, which frustrates them. This means we better look after this planet, and have environmental laws, which also frustrates them.

    The cranks just dont see quantum mechanics as a threat to their world view. Make no mistake, if quantum theory suggested something that challenged their politics, vested interests, or world view, they would attack quantum theory pretty fast.

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    Apropos those who own the coal and gas in the ground and want compensation for not digging and burning it:

    … Here’s a fact that shows where we came from… and might be going: over a third of the land in the thirteen colonies was owned – tax-free – by aristocratic families.

    The U.S. Founders fought back. After their successful revolt, they redistributed fully a quarter of the wealth and land, and they did it calmly, without the tsunami of blood that soon flowed in France, then Russia, then China. That militantly moderate style of revolution actually worked far better at fostering positive outcomes for all. For the people… and yes, for local aristocratic families, who retained comforts, some advantages. And their heads.

    Nor was that the only time Americans had to push back against proto-feudal cheating, which we now know erupts straight out of human nature. The Civil War was certainly a massive ‘wealth redistribution’ by giving millions of people ownership of their own lives and bodies. During the 1890s Gilded Age, we avoided radical revolution in favor of reform – e.g. anti-trust laws….

  18. 68
    Hank Roberts says:

    re cranks and relativity:
    – Some Objectivists question or deny relativity as it doesn’t fit neatly into Ayn Rand’s metaphysical notions about causation ….

  19. 69
    Hank Roberts says:

    And in other news:

    During the dinner, the Times reported, one primary topic of discussion was Pruitt’s plan to stage public debates over the established science on climate change ….

  20. 70
    Killian says:

    Re 60 and 58 (not 55) Nemesis and nigelj,

    Indeed. Everything we know is from science… not.

    “Westerners have done little but isolate ourselves from nature,” said Mark Bonta, an assistant professor at Penn State Altoona who was on a co-author on the paper on fire and raptors. “Yet those who make a point of connecting with our earth in some form have enormous knowledge because they interact with a species. When you get into conservation, [that knowledge] is even more important.” Aboriginal people “don’t see themselves as superior to or separated from animals. They are walking storehouses of knowledge,” he said.

    So, let’s just dismiss anyone who “knows” differently. It’s amazing. Few if any posters here have made any predictions or suggested any scenarios in the past while I have. And I have been proven right over and over.

    But I am among the most dismissed person on these boards who is not a denier.

    The Maya people of Mesoamerica have much to teach us about farming, experts say. Researchers have found that they preserve an astonishing amount of biodiversity in their forest gardens, in harmony with the surrounding forest. “The active gardens found around Maya forest villagers’ houses shows that it’s the most diverse domestic system in the world,” integrated into the forest ecosystem, writes Anabel Ford, who is head of the MesoAmerican Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “These forest gardeners are heroes, yet their skill and sophistication have too long been set aside and devalued.”

    Nope, permaculture cannot possibly work… all that biodiversity stuff can’t be real! Where is the science? Where. is. the. science????


    Felice Wyndham is an ecological anthropologist and ethnobiologist who has noted that people she has worked with can intimately sense the world beyond their body. “It’s a form of enhanced mindfulness,” she says. “It’s quite common, you see it in most hunter-gatherer groups. It’s an extremely developed skill base of cognitive agility, of being able to put yourself into a viewpoint and perspective of many creatures or objects – rocks, water, clouds.

    That stupid intelligence thingy! Modern people would never accept that!!! Terrible way to live. Just terrible….

  21. 71
    jgnfld says:


    Plus Einstein’s light speed barrier puts a limit on God. This also offends the religious thinking of some: Einstein constitutes the original sin of limiting god and/or proving that a gray-haired fatherly god just doesn’t work.

  22. 72
    Ray Ladbury says:

    “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”–Niels Bohr

    Quantum mechanics requires that one give up either:
    1) Their concept of physical reality
    2) Causality
    3) Free will
    4) Or some combination thereof.

    And yet it has been validated more accurately than any other theory. I suspect the only thing that saves it from cranks is that it is difficult to understand.

  23. 73
    mike says:

    sam at 57: “Wondering if the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide numbers might be off because of the (relatively new) eruption of Kilauea? Mixing should keep it uniform but is that true with a large point source not that far from the detector? I know that it has been erupting continuously for a long time but the perception is that the timing of the problem data seems to match with the appearance of the new lava flows.”

    good place to start:

    “We only detect volcanic CO2 from the Mauna Loa summit late at night at times when the regional winds are light and southerly. Under these conditions, a temperature inversion forms above the ground, and the volcanic emissions are trapped near the surface and travel down our side of the mountain slope. When the volcanic emissions arrive at the observatory, the CO2 analyzer readings increase by several parts per million, and the measured amounts become highly variable for periods of several minutes to a few hours. In the last decade, this has occurred on about 15% of nights between midnight and 6 a.m.”

    how are we doing today?

    May 11, 2018 411.71 ppm

    May 11, 2017 409.79 ppm


    Noisy number, don’t make too much of the comparison, skyrockety or not, the important takeaway is that we are above 410 and continuing to rise.

    Pretty readable overview here:



  24. 74
    Nemesis says:

    @Killian, #70

    They’ll ignore the facts as usual and just walk on, no matter what. The main reason is, indigenous wisdom is not capitalism, there’s no funny money, no profit in it. Like I said:

    We have to wait until capitalism killed itself, there is no chance to fight against capitalism, there’s too much profit in it for some folks. So I just relax, lay back and wait:

    ” That which shrinks
    Must first expand.
    That which fails
    Must first be strong.
    That which is cast down
    Must first be raised.
    Before receiving
    There must be giving.

    This is called perception of the nature of things.
    Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.”

    Laotse, Tao Te King

  25. 75
    Radge Havers says:

    On Favored Crank Subjects
    (Ha-cha-cha! It’s sensational!)

    My guess in this case: Global warming and evolution are especially attractive because blather in these areas has reached a critical mass. Everyone is encouraged to pile on, and it’s easy. All kinds of interesting, nutty verbiage out there that you can try out and pose with.

    Ref. one-stop-shop:

    Crank magnetism
    “…they just want to see science with egg on its face so they can prove that they are being persecuted.”

    Unified theory of the crank
    “Central to the crank is the “overvalued idea”. That is some idea they’ve incorporated into their world view that they will not relinquish for any reason.”

    “Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.”

  26. 76
    zebra says:

    Ray Ladbury #72,

    “[quantum theory] requires that one give up either…”

    Nah. Way too overgeneralized; there isn’t some universal concept of any of those things. Rather, I would say that it requires the ability to “think in other categories”, as it were.

    Relativity contradicts certain intuitive perceptual constructs, but it’s not as if those perceptions haven’t been logically questioned throughout human history.

  27. 77

    There are anti-quantum theory quacks who are offended by the uncertainty principle, and want to bring back “hidden variables.”

  28. 78

    Ray, #72–

    “I suspect the only thing that saves [quantum theory] from cranks is that it is difficult to understand.”

    I’m not sure about that idea. I used to interact with a guy on who was a quantum theory denier–as well as a climate change denier, an ozone hole denier, an AIDS denier, and probably a couple more I’m not recalling just now. A real general-purpose crank, you might say.

    Thing is, he pretty clearly didn’t understand *any* of his topics…

  29. 79
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @73,
    While you can say of present CO2 readings at MLO “we are above 410” and you can also say that the CO2 levels are “continuing to rise,” what you cannot say is both of these things together within the same sentence.

    The CO2 levels that are “continuing to rise” are subject to an annual cycle and when considering those CO2 levels you need to extract the annual cycle from those levels. Thus 2017 the last calender year’s MLO CO2 level was 406.5ppm and even adding on an assumed whole year’s rise to provide a 2018 value we are still short of 410ppm, unless you employ baseless skyrocketry.

    The CO2 levels that are “above 410” exists solely because of the annual cycle. These “above 410” value are at the top of the cycle and we can expect this month’s maximum value to be followed by succeeding months with lower values. To say these “above 410” daily, weekly and monthly values are “continuing to rise” is flat wrong as we can expect them to begin to drop after May, monthly values dropping down to a minimum 6ppm or so below the maximum.

    And in a future comment I will pick up on your continued misrepresention (most recently @65) of that 405ppm threshold. And note that the tinyblue link is broken.

  30. 80
    Chuck says:

    Amen to this:

    “Please moderators, step in and moderate the threads or turn off the delay in posting. I don’t read comments from Victor, KIA or DDS. If I wanted to know what Fox News or the Koch Brothers et al are disseminating as science news, I would simply go directly to those sources.” ~ Mike

    I second this motion. I’ve grown tired of reading the spam from the usual suspects. In fact, I’ve quit visiting realclimate because it’s tedious to wade through the b.s.

    Please Moderators! Block the spammers and trolls!

  31. 81
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    sam at 57: “Wondering if the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide numbers might be off because of the (relatively new) eruption of Kilauea?

    Hawaiian eruptions are from hot spot volcanoes which emit sulphur dioxide, not carbon dioxide.

  32. 82
    mike says:

    al, you are a prickly guy. I am sure you are right about the numbers, things will be fine, won’t they? We are doing fine on ghg accumulation, are we not?

    Cheers, buddy


  33. 83
    Disgusted says:

    Yep. I wondered at the time if it was overkill but it turns out that it was a good thing the science community stored all that data before the Trump people could do their damage.

    They’re not disputing the evidence, just trying to erase it.

  34. 84
    nigelj says:

    Radge Havers @75, fascinating links. I felt like alice through the looking glass reading some of that material.

    No doubt if Ayn Rand was still alive, climate change would generate another one of her utterly one sided, pompous novels.

  35. 85
    mike says:

    this one is for Al:
    410 PPM & Rising — CO2 Levels Reach Dangerous Levels

    “the concentration of carbon dioxide was above 410 parts per million for the entire month of April this year. The level has risen above 410 ppm before for a day or two, but never for an entire month — at least, not since people first began being collecting the data.

    The sawtooth pattern indicates the levels vary over the course of a year due to seasonal variations and other factors, but the overall trend is clearly, unmistakably, and emphatically upward. On average, the concentration of carbon dioxide has been rising about 2.5 ppm per year, but the rate of change has accelerated since 2010.”

    yeah, it’s over 410 and it’s rising. It will fall under 410 briefly due to the seasonal cycle, but so what? Do I need to mention that rate of increase is accelerating? Simple facts, but it’s like waving a red flag for some folks. Should we worry? No, worry probably won’t help. Is it skyrockety? I don’t know, that is not a scientific term that I understand.

    Read’m and weep.

    Daily CO2

    May 13, 2018: 411.07 ppm
    May 13, 2017: 408.84 ppm


  36. 86
    Carrie says:

    13th April to 14th May 2018 graphic

    I have never seen MLO readings like the recent month, going back to 6 weeks ago. Daily spreads of readings of up to 5 ppm in a day and from one day to the next. It’s not normal it seems very unusual to me.

    May 12: 411.93 ppm (let’s call that 412 ppm; a new all time daily record?)

    2018-4-22: 411.68 (a new all time weekly record)

    Several hourly readings have hit 413 ppm while others are @ 408.

    See the wild spreads from March onward in this graphic

    Extremely abnormal.

  37. 87
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @85,
    You demonstrate your underlying skyrocketry again. You quote Steve Hanley a writer at CleanTechnica, not the most authoritative of sources but his words on CO2 levels are well chosen. “(T)he rate of change has accelerated since 2010.” (My emphasis) Yet you misinterpret those words when you ask you question “Do I need to mention that rate of increase is accelerating?” (my emphasis). As an umpire at a recent televised international snooker match said to a member of the audience whose enthusiasm prevented them keeping quiet, may I ask “Do you speak English?” I recount this because it worked and the game proceeded without untimely interjections.

  38. 88
    Al Bundy says:

    Nemisis claims there is no way to beat capitalism.

    Axioms are generally wrong. It is quite easy to so substanctally replace capitalism

    Predatory nonprofits enjoy tremendous competitive advantage. They don’t have to pay stockholders. Their tax environment is far superior. Customers trust them and have a visceral pull to support them. Employees feel the same. And executives are motivated to join the team while receiving far less compensation, often once they’ve already made obscene amounts of cash being trained by corporations.

    For example, a nonprofit grocery chain would wipe the floor with any for profit chain…

    IF the nonprofit’s goal was to improve society by eliminating for profit grocery chains, as opposed to feeding the poor.

  39. 89
    Al Bundy says:

    O yeah, and suppliers will be motivated to save taxes and improve their image by donating excess stock and reducing prices for the rest.

  40. 90
    Greg Simpson says:

    84 Nigel

    Ayn isn’t still alive, so you’re fighting a straw man. While Objectivists have reasonable ideas on how to allocated scarce resources, I’ve never seen them propose a good way to handle pollution. My best guess it they would end up with a fee and dividend scheme like James Hansen advocates, but who really knows?

  41. 91
    Nemesis says:

    @mike, #85

    Com on, please, let’s be a little bit more optimistic on the way to the boneyard :)

    Hot regards,

  42. 92

    ABM 81: Hawaiian eruptions are from hot spot volcanoes which emit sulphur dioxide, not carbon dioxide.

    BPL: Most volcanoes of all types emit large amounts of CO2, usually with water vapor as the main constituent.

  43. 93
    Carrie says:

    May 13: 411.07 ppm
    May 14: 412.45 ppm

  44. 94
    Hank Roberts says:


    Do I need to mention that rate of increase is accelerating?

    Mike, you need to cite a credible source that can educate readers about how to tell whether or not the rate is changing and how.
    Otherwise it’s your opinion against whatever else people find claimed elsewhere.
    Try this page:

  45. 95
    mike says:

    CO2 is rising and the rate is accelerating. I have linked to Tamino on numerous occasions. Let them who have ears hear.

    Hank, are you disputing that CO2 is rising and the rate of increase is accelerating or just padding my position with an obvious source of confirmation?

    Cheers to my contentious buddies,


  46. 96
    mike says:

    Carrie: daily and hourly rates are wildly noisy. Weekly averages are somewhat less noisy, but still noisy. Monthly and annual averages are relatively un-noisy as long as you remember to review for LN and EN spikes and slumps in the yoy comparisons.

    N at 91: if we are on thin ice, we might as well dance! Optimism? I don’t know, but joy and relishing the experience of being alive, count me in for that.

    My old Small Blue website got whacked when I gave sign-on credentials to some friends who wanted to do a little blogging. I don’t think I will put it back up. I blogged off and on for 10 or 12 years. I am tired and retired, so getting my affairs in order and letting a lot of things go.

    Cheers and jeers to all, you pick and choose.


  47. 97
    Al Bundy says:

    Entanglement requires acceptance of what are functionally miracles, but that just wipes out any need for a diety to be involved. When one adds consciousness to entanglement, the result is collective consciousness, a miracle that has been proven via studies of crossword puzzle contests. It seems that the winner’s snailmailing the solution to the newspaper that ran the contest triggered solutions amomst other contestants even before the letter arrived at the newspaper.

    Note that the newspaper knew the solution all the time but that didn’t evolve into collective consciousness. That arose through the entanglement of minds joyously exploring a puzzle.
    Entanglement and isolation. Cuz if a volcano spews a rock that breaks your bag and splats your cat, then your cat is dead. After all, rocks are people too. (If inaminates aren’t observers, how did the universe operate befote life?)

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    Found this out of curiosity. “The Crossword Puzzle Phenomenon by Monica England”

    Fascinating and spooky indeed, if the data is reliable.

  49. 99
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @95,
    You say “CO2 is rising and the rate is accelerating. I have linked to Tamino on numerous occasions. Let them who have ears hear.”(my emphasis)
    Yet what Tamino says is much different.

    ” I computed the acceleration of each 10-year span and plotted the result: no sign that acceleration has stopped. I also tried 5-year time spans, which is too brief to show non-zero acceleration (the uncertainty is too big) but also shows no sign of any change in the acceleration.

    “Bottom line: CO2 is on the rise, the rise itself (velocity) has been getting faster (acceleration), and there’s no evidence at all that has changed recently.”
    (My emphasis)

    It takes several years for any change in acceleration to becone statistically valid. And note this is not the first time that I have pointed out your misrepresentation of Tamino.
    I do still have that 405ppm value to explain to you, but I feel you would benefit from a back-to-basics on this matter of CO2-rise.

  50. 100
    MA Rodger says:

    Mike @various,

    Our annual CO2 emissions have been increasing since pre-industrial times. Thus our emissions have been accelerating. Over recent decades (specifically since 1960) that acceleration has been pretty linear in form with annual CO2 emissions increasing by very roughly +1Gt(C)/yr every 7 years. With a 43% AirborneFraction, we should therefore expect (since 1960) a rough increase in the atmospheric-CO2-rise of +1Gt(C)/yr every 16 years or +1ppm/yr every 34 years. Thus the rise we would expect from man-made atmospheric CO2 since 1960 is an acceleration of +0.03ppm/yr/yr. And this is pretty-much what we find in the Keeling Curve. The Tamino post came out with +0.28ppm/yr/yr – scaled from this graph.

    And what should we do about it?
    If you look back over the decades at the scientific message regarding AGW, it has developed in form, this in response to the non-action by the world in reining in its CO2 emissions. Further to this, there has also been a tightening of the limits on total accumulative emissions, this often expressed in a limit to atmospheric concentrations..

    Yet whatever the message or the limits, at some time that CO2 acceleration has to be stopped and a deceleration begun. Setting a time-limit for peak-CO2 provides a target for the world and a 2020 date for peak-CO2 emissions has been kicking around for some time (eg the UNFCCC S550e scenario in this 2003 EU report ”Meeting the EU objective to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak within the next two decades under a medium value of the climate sensitivity.“ or this 2008 UK Met Office warning reported in the media.)
    And the ‘peak-CO2 by 2020’ message has not yet become out-dated. Just last year we have the ex-head of the UNFCCC restating the warning and the IEA’s new Sustainable Development Scenario encompassing ”global CO2 emissions peak(ing) before 2020 and declin(ing) swiftly.” The peak-by-2020 warning was even given by a 2017 RC post from one of our hosts.

    Of course, peak CO2 sooner-rather-than-later would be good. And of course, there are far too many in this world who fail to take AGW seriously which makes sensible emissions’ reduction policy difficult.
    Yet there is no evidence that some doomsday natural CO2 feedback has kicked off (not that such threats do not exist but to imagine they are significant today is skyrocketry). And there is no evidence that the recent leveling-off of annual CO2 emissions has not impacted the the CO2 acceleration and that it might presage a peak-CO2 by 2020.

    Now, this is the important message to you, mike.

    The end of acceleration that we will sooner-or-later see means only the beginning of the deceleration. It will not signal the end of annual CO2 rises.

    I would thus suggest that it is ridiculous to continually bemoan weekly or daily CO2 levels as being above last year’s level. CO2 levels will continue to increase through the decades of decelerating emissions. Such increases will remain inevitable for decades. The weeping you suggest is but weeping over spilt milk.