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IPCC draft: No comment.

Filed under: — group @ 4 May 2006

As everyone has now realised, the second-order draft of the new IPCC report has become very widely available and many of the contributors to this site, commenters and readers will have seen copies. Part of the strength of the IPCC process are the multiple stages of review – the report is already significantly improved (in clarity and scientific basis) from the first round of reviews, and one can anticipate further improvements from the ongoing round as well. Thus no statements from this draft report can be considered ‘official’. While most of the contents of the report will come as no surprise to frequent visitors here, we have decided that we are not going to discuss the report until it is finalised and released (sometime in February 2007). At that time, we’ll go chapter by chapter hopefully pulling out the interesting bits, but until then, we feel it’s more appropriate to respect the ‘Do not cite or quote’ injunctions that can be found on every page. We trust that our commenters will likewise respect the process. Patience, people, patience!

51 Responses to “IPCC draft: No comment.”

  1. 1
    Greg Bodeker says:

    Excellent and I am very glad to see that you are taking this approach. It maintains the moral high ground and it would be a shame to see the IPCC process being subverted if you were to start discussing the AR4 before it has been finalized. Thank you.

  2. 2
    Jim Redden says:

    Thanks for the tip.

    Yes, you are right; clearly very true: “most of the contents of the report (IPCC Draft) will come as no surprise to frequent visitors”. And moreover, I’d say there is benefit to be found in releasing the report.

    The relative ease of getting a reading copy is not my source of concern–rather, the business as usual in the hydrocarbon world would seem to be the deeper concern. Hype is a launch for matters of no protracted consequence; waiting for energy policy change and legislated economic incentives is the poison thorn.

    For the awakened and concerned citizen, preliminary substantial fact has import–especially for such a high stakes issue such as climate change. Anyway, I would rather share and pass along Elizabeth Kolbert’s book–ideal for those who hanker for a swifter and easier to digest dose of reality initiation.

  3. 3
    Eachran says:

    Seems that the fears of the UK Royal Society and a number of other bodies and individuals on the issue of sabotage are already being realised.

    I applaud the purity of the Group’s stance but wonder how pure it is possible to remain when it is as clear as day that many people will use information in the draft as reliable information. I mentioned in another post that The Economist was planning to do a September survey on global warming and my guess is that none of its readers would want to read the survey unless the journal had properly researched the 4th draft and taken a view. The Economist will not be the only one.

    In any event the world has changed and rapidly so over the last ten years and since the Dr Santer affair. It is almost wholly to do with the new media, a supplement on which was published by The Economist (again) two weeks ago : it is worth reading.

    There is no escaping openness today and equally there is no escaping its consequences.

    I hope you can stay pure over the next year but if you cannot then it is to be expected and understandable because the rules of the game have really changed.

    On people being led to believe the wrong thing by propaganda : my guess is that there are many people like me who can take their own view and people are not stupid – see the poll posted on this site by Mr Iles and also a recent poll in the UK showing 65% of people in favour of green taxes.

    [Response: It’s perfectly possible to do a comprehensive article on the state the scientific consensus now without waiting for it to become ‘official’. As should be clear, IPCC is a synthesis product, but all of the elements are widely available already. Talking to the key scientists will be just as informative – though slightly more work – than waiting for the report. -gavin]

  4. 4
    PeterW says:

    This is a little off topic but how is the IPCC related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)? Does the UNFCCC have any input on IPCC reports? The reason I ask this question is that Rona Ambrose, Canada’s new Minister of the Environment, is now the President of the UNFCCC, until a new country is chosen to hold the presidency in November. She and the new Canadian government are very hostile to climate science. (Let’s just say Exxon likes this government) Would they have any ability to impact the new IPCC report?

    [Response:There is no official connection. As far as I understand, the Canadian Govt. has input as at this review stage and in finalising the summary for policy makers but won’t have any special weight. – gavin]

  5. 5
    Stephen Berg says:

    Re: #4, “Would they have any ability to impact the new IPCC report?”

    I sure as heck hope not! I don’t want my country to go from hero to zero in the eyes of the international community!

  6. 6

    In your opinion, is the wide IPCC consensus by nature resistant to overstatement of the current science, or perhaps more to the point, naturally prone to understate policy implications based on our current climatological understanding? I hear talk of the Greenland icecap melting at twice the rate calculated by models, and it makes me wonder whether policymakers should assume the range of reality they will face could exceed the range given by the IPCC? Is postpositivist science by nature conservative when it estimates climate change feedbacks and effects?

    [Response: The IPCC process is clearly resistent to overstating current science, but it does consider the range of responses discussed in the literature. Where there are valid reasons to think that models are deficient it generally acknowledges that and makes the point that the estimates are described as being with ‘low confidence’. In such cases, I would suggest that policy makers take a wide range of possibilities into account. – gavin]

  7. 7
    Randolph Fritz says:

    The release of this draft is what, on the internet, is called “trolling”–an effort to drown the work in conflict, so that nothing useful can be accomplished. It opens the contributors to the report, and their respondents, to various forms of harassment. It’s a breach of any number of confidences, and seriously harms the credibility of the US agency that has released it; I wonder how many careers of agency personnel Rove and Bush will add to their trophy rack, while they just go marching on.

    I don’t think amount of junk mail this will probably unleash will be that harmful, though the time spent on it is going to be considerable; it will probably be possible to quickly file and discard most of it (a lot of it will probably be near-spam). If it makes anyone here feel any better, this act is a sign that, in fact, the fanatics who now lead the USA are starting to regard public awareness of global climate change as a real threat.

  8. 8
    Don Macdonald says:

    Re #4 The suggestion that the new Canadian government is “hostile to climate science” does not match my experience, and I deal with the federal government on a regular basis. The new federal government does not believe that Canada’s Kyoto target can be met, but they have also decided to work within the Kyoto Protocol for now. I was at a UNFCCC Workshop on the new Adaptation Fund in Edmonton, Canada yesterday (May 5th), wherein Minister Ambrose gave an address. Her focus was on how Canada would be developing a made-in-Canada climate plan and she gave other comments on what Canada’s approach going into the upcoming UNFCCC Bonn SB24 meetings might be. I never heard her question climate science at this workshop or in any other public fora or press release from the new government. Notwithstanding the above, the new Canadian federal government has been slow in addressing climate change policy writ large.

  9. 9
    Gareth says:

    Feel free to moderate this, but the report is being discussed in the media already: here’s The Australian coverage. The story’s credited to The Times and AP, so it will be doing the rounds of the global media.

    Since it will undoubtedly draw flack from the contrarians, it may be difficult to maintain a dignified silence…

  10. 10
    Eachran says:

    Point 6 Paul Martin Suckow. The IPCC site has lots of good stuff on it and of particular relevance to your point is the guidance to lead authors at

    Point 7 I agree with Randolph Fritz about the positive aspect of this. I would add that dealing with the issue now even though it takes up time in the short term saves time in the long run.

    Point 9 Gareth, there is the option of making a dignified noise.

  11. 11
    Coby says:

    OT but needed some active thread to interect in, and since this is one where the expressed topic is one no one should comment about, well, who could complain? ;-)

    I am involved in a couple of threads at and there was a specific request that someone from RealClimate might opine here

    It’s long but the specific topic starts with this:

    I won’t presume to interpret Garth Paltridge’s analysis, which for those who are interested is available at . I do however draw attention to his comment that:

    “If one has a model with parameters tuned to give an already large position feedback (and therefore large temperature rise) it takes only a very small change in tuning (or the addition of another positive feedback process not yet incorporated in the model) to give enormously frightening figures of potential temperature change. A useful characteristic that!”

    Do you have any comment on Professor Paltridge’s proposal that “all models used in IPCC assessments must calculate and publish the implicit feedback factors built into their calculations”, so that “climate scientists of the outside world will have some understandable physics on which their intuition can work, and perhaps also a design of real-world experiment and observations so as to improve the modeller’s arbitrary selection of tuneable parameters?”

    I have had a few cracks at that but the name of RealClimate was invoked anyway. Any takers?

    [Response: The magnitude of any of the feedbacks is easily calculable from the data available in the PCMDI IPCC AR4 archive. Since there are way more interesting diagnostics than there are people to do them, I suggest that Prof. Partridge get one of his students to do it or indeed, do it himself. It’s not difficult. Of course I would dispute the basic contention that we add in more and more positive feedbacks in order to get ‘frightening’ figures. Our latest model (with lots of extra physics) actually has a smaller sensitivity than our earlier model. For other groups it is the opposite, but these differences are not tuned for in the slightest. -gavin]

  12. 12
    Eli Rabett says:

    Note that Castles in his list of possibilities omitted the one that said Partridge was dreaming.

  13. 13

    It appears that there will be lots more pretty charts and graphs. I am happy about this. Only around 1/2 of the population prefers (or is able) to be informed by reading words. We need lots more pretty charts and graphs.

  14. 14
    Mike Atkinson says:

    I have not read the draft, but have read the “headline” 2-4.5K temperature range with most probable being 3K for climate sensitivity. Few will dispute the 2K lower limit or the 3K most probable (although a case could be made for slightly higher values of each), but there is considerable debate about the high end climate sensitivity. Lots of papers recently have indicated a 5% confidence high end of 6.5K or more, the scientific debate as far as I know has not come down definitively in favour of a much more constrained 4.5K. My understanding is that models constrained by climate measurements and those by LGM conditions give bounds to the Feedback parameter (proportional to 1/S) and so naturally lead to a long tail at the high end of climate sensitivities.

    Secondly, there is a small chance that CO2 or methane emission or sequestration rates may change significantly and that this probability grows much higher at temperature rises above 3K. There are lots of potential mechanisms, e.g. reduction in vegetation and soil uptakes due to temperature and precipitation changes, most of which are hard to quantify. I will be interested to see how they handle such risks. They change the emission scenarios as CO2 could go on rising even with drastic reductions in anthropogenic emissions.

    Finally, I will be interested in seeing how they handle changes in precipitation, these are much more significant that temperature for much of the world’s agriculture. Here the question is not just will there be more or less rain, but will it be predictable. I’ve read that precipitation events are likely to be heavier but occur less often, so that both the total rainfall and the number of dry days will increase. I’ve seen several studies on the effect on agriculture of climate change, both with and without adaption, but they seem to look at average conditions, it is much harder to grow adapted crops when you don’t know if the season is going to be much wetter or drier than the average.

    By its nature most forms of uncertainty will be on the downside, so false certainty is likely to give a rosier picture. With hindsight this can be seen in the TAR, the mechanisms of ice sheet breakup were not known (and as far as I can tell are still not settled) which gave a false confidence in the rapidity of future sea level rises. The problems with constraining high levels of climate sensitivity should have been evident, but were obviously ignored (I can understand why, who really wants to go out on a limb and say there is a 1% chance of a 10K climate sensitivity as there is a 99% chance you will be proved wrong!).

  15. 15
    david Iles says:

    Isn’t the truth that given the global climate and all the factors that are involved in it that we simply do not understand, there is always going to be to much uncertainty to figure out what is going to happen? The history of science is one of being surprised by results, is it not? Given this shouldn’t we always go to the safest possible course of action? Which as I see it would be drastically putting the brakes on green house gasses going into the environment. Isn’t it obvious – whatever this, to my mind, strangely delayed report says – that we need to retool our society get out of the warfare business (that is our current major export and one of the largest contributors to environmental damage) and into a massive research and rapid development of technologies that move us in a safer direction? We have so many good threads to pick up and work with, Solar Biomass, Methanol, offshore wind farms, nuclear fusion, conservation, all of which have been researched and developed on pretty small budgets relative to the pentagons.

    If we started massively exporting these technologies wouldn’t that turn around our predatory image in the world and go a long way towards ending the need for, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, a new generation of nukes, space weapons, and all the other anti-life-soon-to-be-obsolete-junk the pentagon is putting out.

    I understand that those that have been sitting in the catbirds seat in the fossil fuel economy might have to accept a cut in pay, and that the congressional ear follows money like a radar, but how long to we let all of this just keep plodding us towards a drastic reduction in quality of life while reducing our children’s chances for survival before we all stand up with our individual strengths and knowledge and demand to pursue an agenda that is actually pro-life beyond the womb?

  16. 16
    Dano says:

    RE 15 (Iles):

    given the global climate and all the factors that are involved in it that we simply do not understand, there is always going to be to much uncertainty to figure out what is going to happen?


    This is why the IPCC uses scenario analysis. Now, as to your ‘safest possible course of action’, there is an entire (large) subset of our society that chooses to read information that disagrees with this view; indeed, the information that subset reads says that their belief – the opposite of your view – is far better and you and your view are to be marginalized to lessen the threat to their belief system. Knowing this reality allows us to tune future policy.



  17. 17
    david Iles says:

    I would say the polls sited below show a rather strong agreement with policies that support and sustain our environment, and show a fairly good understanding of what we need to prioritize as a nation. From

    Gallup Poll. March 13-16, 2006. N=1,000 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

    “Do you think the U.S. government is doing too much, too little, or about the right amount in terms of protecting the environment?”
    Too Much 4% Too Little 62% About Right 33%Unsure 1%

    “Next I am going to read some specific environmental proposals. For each one, please say whether you generally favor or oppose it. How about

    “Spending government money to develop alternate sources of fuel for automobiles”
    85% favor 14% 1% Unsure

    “More strongly enforcing federal environmental regulations”
    79% favor 20% oppose 2% Unsure

    “Spending more government money on developing solar and wind power”
    77% favor 21% oppose 2% Unsure

    “Setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry”
    77 % favor 22% oppose 1% unsure

    “Imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases”
    75% favor 23% Disagree 3% unsure

    “Setting higher auto emissions standards for automobiles”
    73% favor 25% oppose 2% unsure

    And from The Harris Poll. Aug. 9-16, 2005. N=1,217 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

    “Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental Improvements must be made regardless of cost.”

    Agree 74% Disagree 24% Unsure 1%

  18. 18
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 11

    The idea of publishing feedback factors is not a bad one – it would at least be informative. However, it’s ridiculous to suggest that a list of feedback factors combined with intuition would somehow be an improvement over the models themselves.

    The observation that small changes in feedback can produce large changes in outcomes is technically correct, but a red herring here. If modelers were merely adding + feedbacks willy nilly, reported sensitivities would be going up (they’re not) and models would fail to reproduce spatial and seasonal patterns and meet basic constraints of data (see Climate sensitivity: Plus ca change…. Any time you hear someone claim that it’s easy to get a large, slow to execute, nonlinear, dynamic model to generate a particular PC outcome you can be sure that they have never actually attempted to do so.

    Paltridge goes further off the deep end when he criticizes the IPCC for neglecting top level cost-benefit calculations. It’s not in the IPCC mandate. He then ignores the whole field of integrated assessment modeling in favor of an entirely trivial account of costs, benefits, and discounting. Perhaps it should be in the IPCC mandate (this would require some kind of overarching working group), but I doubt Paltridge would like the result, as even environmentally conservative economists have concluded that benefits of mitigation exceed costs.

    The lack of citations in this rag confirms that Paltridge has failed to do his homework. But then, what would you expect from TCS?

  19. 19
    Paul Duignan says:

    In #14 Mike makes an interesting statement: “who really wants to go out on a limb and say there is a 1% chance of a 10K climate sensitivity as there is a 99% chance you will be proved wrong!” I think that this type of thinking lies behind some of the discussion of climate change science. But while it influences what people are prepared to say in public about climate change, the statement is actually incorrect. Mike might have been trying to say: “there is a 99% chance that you will be perceived as being proved wrong,” and this may be correct. However, just because an event predicted to occur only one percent of the time does not occur, does not say anything about whether or not the prediction about its probability was accurate. There is a one in six chance when I throw a dice that I will get a six. If I don’t get a six it does not change the fact that there was a one in six chance of my getting a six and there will also be the same chance the next time I throw the dice.

    [Response: This is a tricky point philosphically because the statement about climate sensitivity is a reflection of our imperfect knowledge, not a reflection of a random process. – gavin]

  20. 20
    Paul Duignan says:

    Gavin if you have a moment could you please spell out your comment (in #19) in more detail – particularly the difference between “a reflection of our imperfect knowledge” and “a random process”. Thanks.

    [Response: Look up Bayesian inference: and read a couple of James Annan’s post on the subject: and – that might help. -gavin]

  21. 21
    Richard K says:

    Can anyone tell me how serious a matter is the leak of the IPCC draft by the US government?


    1) Is it true that the draft is (was) available for download at a US government site (I forget which, perhaps NOAA) by anyone who registers, and that registration is open to all and automatic?

    2) Do people intentionally leak drafts of documents to a wider audience than the authors intended, when the content is *not* particularly secret as such, in order to disrupt and weaken the decisionmaking process of which the document is a part? (I mean in general, not just in this particular case, is this a serious problem?)

    3) Is this apparently what has happened in this case?

    4) Is the problem that the message and impact get diluted due to the timing? (i.e. by stealing the newsworthy thunder, and confusing the public about what stage the process is at)

    Or is the problem that the perpetrator is hoping to give his/her allies more of a voice than the established decisionmaking process allows? (i.e. by inciting the fervor of climate-change skeptics who are ‘silenced’ by the alleged secret conspiracy of billionaire communist climate change scientists such as ourselves, the IPCC, and the National Academies…or whatever the accusations happen to be today)

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Eli Rabett says:

    Richard K raises an interesting point. Politically I am not sure how this will play out because the report is due to be released after the November elections in the US. The sponsors of this little farce may be hoping to inundate the IPCC in answers and delay the process even beyond the anticipated 2/07 publication date.

    However, many of the conclusions are leaking out, and will continue to do so over the summer. If the report’s conclusions are much stronger than the TAR wrt AGW, then it could well effect the US elections. Attempts by opponents of the IPCC such as Roger Pielke to falsely frame the argument ( ) will be self defeating, because those who accept the findings of the AR4 will counter. This may all ripen just in time for the congressional elections.

    Just as interesting is what the response of the IPCC should be. Here are my suggestions

  24. 24
    John L. McCormick says:

    Is Mauna Loa recording positive feedback?

    RealClimate hosts must take a close look at the April 2006 monthly mean carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa Observatory.

    Link to the following:

    See the 2.10 ppm increase April (topmost mark) over March total. Compare it to the 2004 April over March which is also 2.11 ppm.

    I have calculated the April/March differential of the Mauna Loa recordings taken since 1958 and 2006 and 2004 are the largest increases ever recorded.

    The Mauna Loa team have recorded annual average increases the past several years that exceed 2.5 ppm and their publicly expressed alarm has been followed by their concern that while the increases might be temporary, continued increases such as these could signal evidence of feedback to the atmosphere.

    I follow the Mauna Loa readings closely as well as the real time Satellite derived sea surface temperatures posted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee web page and I urge you to view the May 8 satellite image at:

    to view the crimson oceans straddling the equator. Link to the previous images spanning the past 15 days also.

    March and April CO2 measurements increase for obvious reasons but a 2.11 ppm increase in one month span cannot be explained by global oil and coal consumption increases. The measurements of February to March would have also reflected a similar CO2 increase.

    How to explain the sudden March to April jump in these non-El Nino years of 2004 and 2006?

    Start by considering that massive expanse of warm water bubbling surface CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Or, someone smarter than me should be able to assure us all it is just one of those unexplainable CO2 bubbles of yet to be studied origin.

    Please, give a moment to link to the above and offer some explanation.

    John McCormick

  25. 25
    Andrew Dodds says:


    Looks like Mauns Loa is simply recording a biological photosynthesis/resparation cycle; CO2 drops in the northern hemisphere growing season (summer) and rises in the winter when resparation exceeds photosynthesis. This is superimposed on the (anthropogenic) ~0.16ppm per month; it’s not as if the whole 2.1 ppm rise is man made CO2.

    You would expect the monthly pattern to be strongly influenced by regional weather – for instance, a drought that slowed photosynthesis would lead to a higher then expected jump in monthly CO2 levels; good gowing conditions the opposite. Unless you can demonstrate that the water is oversaturated with respect to CO2 in this region, I can’t see ‘CO2 bubbling’ as a reason.

  26. 26
    Hans Erren says:

    re 24:

    End of april sees the maximum of the CO2 cycle at Mauna Loa, there seems to be a sensor hiccup, so don’t be amazed if you see some alarmist messages early May.

    So there we are….

    [Response: What evidence do you have for a sensor hiccup? I agree that preliminary data for individual months aren’t to be taken too seriously, but anticipating a ~2ppm rise is hardly a radical departure from current trends and ever increasing emissions. -gavin]

  27. 27
    Chris Reed says:

    Hi RealClimate,

    A very reasonable position to take and a commendable decision.

    Hi John McCormick,

    I’ve been following this issue with interest. But am awaiting some formal explanation from experts in the field (If I’ve missed that feel free to post). Just 2 points:

    1) I’ve often wondered whether I’ve seen evidence of some unexpected feedbacks in data, only to be corrected by those with more knowledge.

    2) It’s tricky to say anything on month to month or year to year changes. I prefer to rely upon longer term trends. In that respect the rate of increase of CO2 atmos. concentration is increasing on the overall dataset. But even with a 5 year running average significant variation up and down is still apparent overlaying that long term trend.

    On the discussion goups I post on I don’t get embroilled in the month to month / year to year, Central England Temperature or even Global Average Temperature discussions. It’s simply a waste of time to obsess on short timescale variance in a system as complex as climate or the carbon cycle.

    That said, I still keep my eyes open for the sort of responses you outline. But I get the impression that the long-term trend is more related to output than changes in uptake by the environment. And the year to year changes remain hard (impossible?) to explain.


    Chris (aka CobblyWorlds)

  28. 28

    Re 26 and the response. Although last month’s jump was unusually high, the previous two months were unusually low. You can see the kink in the graph quite clearly. The peak of the graph this year fits well with the trend of peaks in previous years.

    What you really want to worry about is positive feedback from the ice albedo effect due to the change in Arctic sea ice; See

    The concentration of the ice for this time of year is lower than at any corresponding time in the past, which is the result of considerable thinning. It had thinned by 40% ten years ago. This means that the ice will retreat faster and the albedo of the Arctic will be reduced during this summer. That will have a much greater effect on the climate than a change in the concentration of CO2 by 0.0002%.

  29. 29
    Dano says:

    RE 28 and 26 (& response):

    Yes, golly, so there we are. Someone said it so it must be true.

    I agree with asking for evidence, esp. from poor Hans. As one can go to the CMDL site and see the trends, one can judge for oneself; that is: just because a non-professional someone says it is so doesn’t make it…er…fact.



  30. 30
    Armand MacMurray says:

    Re: #21 and 22
    1) Not true. While registration is automatic, it is only open to US citizens and permanent residents.

  31. 31
    John McCormick says:

    Re: 25 Andrew, we are discussing Manua Loa Station. Drought, photosynthesis do not really apply here. And I appreciate new info regarding the 0.16ppm/mo equaling anthropogenic contribution. So, we still have to account for the 0.5 ppm increase in April 2006. New huge fossil fuel increase last winter? Not enough to spike the April total. The 0.5 increase is about a third of the 0.16 ppm/mo. How about warm tropical oceans feeding back some CO2? Gulf of Mexico is already warmer than seasonal. Warmer added to warm mean, at least to me, more warm. See, again, the real time Satellite derived sea surface temperatures posted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee web page at:

    Re: 26: Hans, once a sensor hickup…twice a what….? Look again at the 2004 March-April. And, I have the March/April delta going back to 1958 showing a very high post 1999 increase compared to the 1970s and 1980s when anthropogenic contributions were certainly less than present 0.16 ppm/mo.

    Re 28: Yes, Alastair, the Arctic ice meltback will have a greater short-term and longer term impact than the very small increase the CO2 trends graph indicates. Unless there is a creeping trend we do not yet recognize. Reduced albedo is a real concern but not yet in March and April. Arctic permafrost and tundra were in a non-melt condition in March and April so I cannot imagine feedback from there contributing to the April spike. Maybe that is the next factor to be added to the CO2 concentration analysis.

    And, you said: the previous two months were unusually low. I can look again at my archived SST images and perhaps someone can help there.

    Finally, my hair is not on fire regarding the April jump. I simply want to turn some attention to observed trends in monthly increased CO2 concentrations in two years when annual concentrations increased by amounts that were newsworthy.

    So, I ask the question: would we really recognize positive feedback if it was staring us in the face?

    John McCormick

  32. 32
    Hank Roberts says:

    Re 30: Note the deadline for responses is today, so I don’t know if they will keep offering the draft. Curious to see. I wonder if comments will also be made publicly available.

    Re allowing it to US citizens only, is that specified somewhere? how do you know? How do _they_ know?

    How? Well, hmmmm, comp.risks recommended this cautionary ad (from )

  33. 33
    Grant says:

    Re: #31

    I downloaded all the available digital data (through 2004), and digitized the graph from 2005-Apr 2006. There are two evident trends:

    1. An overall linear trend from 1958-2006, at 1.39 +/- 0.03 ppm/yr.
    2. A quadratic increase at 0.012 +/- 0.002 ppm/yr/yr.

    Because of the quadratic term, the increase rate is higher now than over the whole time span; the rate from 2000 to 2006 is ~ 1.86 +/- 0.18 ppm/yr.

    The most recent monthly change, from Mar. to Apr. 2006, is large for the most part because the Mar. 2006 value is anomalously low, while the Apr. 2006 value is pretty much “on the money” given the existing trends.

    > So, I ask the question: would we really recognize positive feedback if it was staring us in the face?

    Yes we would, but not until we had accumulated enough data to establish statistical significance.

  34. 34
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE: #33

    Grant, I appreciate your time and effort to offer that comprehensive reply.

  35. 35
    Hans Erren says:

    The graph is updated, note how CO2 carefully follows the lower troposphere temperature.
    update using preliminary data:

    Dano, please don’t patronise! I have QC’d gigabites of sloppy geophysical data. Let’s see what june brings. Here is the graph so far:

  36. 36
    Henk Lankamp says:

    Re: #21 and #30
    I did get the access codes without any problem, although my e-mail adress ends with .nl (The Netherlands).

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Mark A. York says:

    I found this great work on polar bears while researching for my book and discovered the trend for dens on the ice pack to dens on the land is increasing in the last 20 years. This would indicate to me the ice is less stable, and thus the migration documented by Dr. Amstrup.

  39. 39
    Hank Roberts says:

    Maybe all industry needs is a “lawsuit shield provision” before they admit there’s a problem and start working with the government?

    It’s not unusual for industry to write themselves a release from any liability and denial of jury trials for anyone injured by industry actions.

    On bird flu, the pharmaceutical industry wrote themselves exactly that. Their chief lobbyist who wrote that language into the law is now the FDA’s Assistant Commissioner for Legislation.

    It’s how the world works (at least the USA). Watch for similarities as we start dealing with climate issues, if we do.
    (via )

  40. 40
    Paul Duignan says:

    Grant (#33) in response to John (#31) writes:
    “So, I ask the question: would we really recognize positive feedback if it was staring us in the face?”
    Yes we would, but not until we had accumulated enough data to establish statistical significance.

    Grant seems to be defining “recognizing positive feedback” as occurring when we have “established statistical significance”.

    Say it turns out that feedback has kicked in as John posits (I have no opinion either way on this). Imagine a time X years into the future when enough observations have been taken to allow for statistical significance to actually be established. It would be at that stage that Grant would “recognize positive feedback” is occurring. When would it be that John had recognized that positive feedback was occurring? Presumably it would be at the time when he posted comment 31. Or to put it more precisely, John would in comment 31 have recognized that the trend in the data was consistent with positive feedback occurring (if this trend can in fact be discerned in the data) but the trend was not yet statistically significant.

    Grant’s decision rule for recognizing positive feedback is perfectly fine for situations where no one needs to make time-critical decisions based on the data you are examining. You can wait till statistical significance is established and then act appropriately. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to act prior to taking enough observations to establish statistical significance then the situation is different. If you use Grant’s rule you doom yourself to finding out, but only when it is too late to act.

    In areas of science other than climate change there is considerable discussion of the statistical “power” of an experiment or study to detect a difference that you are interested in. For instance, in designing surveys, social scientists will work out how large the sample size has to be in order to detect a particular difference (if it happens to exist between sub-groups of the population in the survey) at a given level of statistical significance.

    Does climate science incorporate this type of thinking into its deliberations? E.g. in this case it would be interesting to know the answer to the question: “if there is a trend of X in atmospheric CO2 levels (set this at the level one would regard as evidence of feedback loops starting to kick in), how many years of observations would it take in order for this trend (if it continued) to become statistically significant?”

  41. 41
    Eli Rabett says:

    The reason why Mauna Loa works as a CO2 sampling site is that 1. It is very high, and thus isolated from rapid changes at the surface. 2. It is at pretty much a cool, and constant temperature 3. It is pretty dry. It basically sticks up out of the ocean thousands of kilometers from land in the direction the prevailing winds come from. See

    CD Keeling figured this out early

  42. 42
    John L. McCormick says:

    Re: #35, Hans, I studied closely the data you digitized, estimated and posted on a link within

    You included an estimate for May 2006 which you cannot, at this time, and is larger than typical April/May increases.

    You attributed an esimate of 385.6 to May. If you shift that back to April, where I believe it belongs, the March/April increase is 2.55 which is about what the Mauna Loa graph at would appear to indicate.

    I’d appreciate a clarification on your May, 2006 estimate.

    John McCormick

  43. 43
    Dano says:

    RE 35 (Willens):

    May isn’t over yet. I fail to see how you have shown that your claim has any merit (not the ‘alarmist’ claim, the ‘sensor’ claim), nor have you explained/shown/demonstrated how your claim has merit.



  44. 44
    Hans Erren says:

    re 42:
    I photoshopped the data of 2004 2005 and 2006 on top of each other with reference to January. March 2006 was anomalously low, which yielded an April catch up. So no sensor hickup.

  45. 45
    Stephen Berg says:

    An excellent article which denounces the “skeptics”:

    “The Global Warming Denial Lobby

    The people out to ‘poison the debate on climate change.'”

  46. 46
    John L. McCormick says:

    Hans, you said the March low yielded an April catch up. What is catchup without the chips?

    Your link gave me only half a graph. Please upload it again. Thank you.

    And, The April data was gathered on an hourly basis so I do not understand why an anomalously low March 2006 would yield an April catch up. Seems to me April data would stand alone and not be subject to or related to March data.

    And, please stay with me on this. I would like to make some sense of the April 2006 spike or get on to something else.

    John McCormick

  47. 47
    Hans Erren says:

    re 46:
    The graph wasn’t halved, it was reduced to one years’ duration. But for your convenience, I added an y-axis on the right hand side, and changed the x-axis labels. Of course the shift of the 2005 and 2006 data to match 2004 is arbitrary but it should give a good feeling of the annual variation. So the “April spike” is actually a “March dip”. I interpret it as a delayed spring release, the cold in Europe perhaps? Just guessing here…

  48. 48
    John L. McCormick says:

    Hans, your graph did nothing to clarify the interpretation of the Mauna Loa Trends graph depicting the Jan-Apr 2006 data points.

    So, I requested the Mauna Loa (MLO) 2005 to May 11, 2006 hourly CO2 data from the NOAA Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases Group.

    After filtering the data, I tabulated the monthly increase year-to-year. Please note the 2005-2006 data are preliminary and subject to change after thorough quality control by the NOAA group.

    The following is the result:

    (my apology for the connecting dots. I did not have any other means to make the chart columns conform. Any suggestions?)


    ……….AV INC………. AV INC………..PRELIM AV.
    ……….BY MO…………BY MO……….INC over 2005
    (data in ppmv)


    Granted, the 2005 and Jan-Apr 2006 have not been officially published by NOAA, but the data I present matches the Trends graph at #24.

    We can debate the April “spike” following a “March dip”. And we can interpret the data however we like as to cause for the huge recent monthly CO2 concentration growth rate (post-2002) above the 42 year monthly averages. But, the trend line remains the primary focus of my concern.

    Is Mauna Loa recording positive feedback?

    I simply want to turn some attention to observed trends in monthly increased CO2 concentrations in two non-El Nino years.

    RC is a marvelous host for brilliant discussions about the high science of global atmospherics but its contributors seem to have difficulty grappling the here-and-now issues like steadily deteriorating Arctic ice sheet (low new ice formation) and its consequences for climatic change in the Central and West NA…the source of our ethanol feedstock (I’ve yet to read any discussion in RC of simialr concerns as others plow ahead with the positive attributes of alternate fuels.

    So, again I ask the question: would we recognize positive feedback if it was staring us in the face?

    And, unlike comment #33, I firmly believe we do not have the luxury of time to accumulated enough data to establish statistical significance. In that regard, refer to reply #40:

    ” Grant’s decision rule for recognizing positive feedback is perfectly fine for situations where no one needs to make time-critical decisions based on the data you are examining. You can wait till statistical significance is established and then act appropriately. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to act prior to taking enough observations to establish statistical significance then the situation is different. If you use Grant’s rule you doom yourself to finding out, but only when it is too late to act.”

    I am not as interested in models projecting climate sensitivity to 2x CO2 by 2050, or sea level rise in 2100. I am very concerned about US, Indian and China ag production of corn, rice and wheat in 2025 when global CO2 emissions are projected to increase from present 25 billion to 37 billion tons.

    My post-it calculations show nearly 450 ppmv CO2 by 2025.

    The ongoing Bonn discussions are an opportunity for developing countries to demand more focus on adaptation measures. To island and impoverished nations adaptation measures are as important (yes, vital) as are mitigation measures for future generations.

    The developed world is approaching a similar crisis of time to develop means to cope with what we are already experiencing. But, we (and I include the capitalist sector) cannot grasp the fact it is going to get much worse, soon.

  49. 49
    Dano says:

    RE 48 (JLMc):

    Excellent comment sir. My primary work is in green infrastructure, which dovetails with ag and food production. I have your same concerns wrt food and esp distribution. No one talks about whether the soils we are expected to adapt to are suitable for ag., nor whether the infrastructure is in place for the shift (we have lots of infrastructure in place, now, where we are).



  50. 50
    Hank Roberts says:

    In the meanwhile,

    points us to

    which offers (PDF download)

    “… asked why the robust and compelling body of climate change science has not had a greater impact on action. This report details their findings and recommendations.”