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Fraser Institute fires off a damp squib

Filed under: — group @ 3 February 2007

New addition: Download an annotated pdf of the Fraser report. An interactive pdf file, to be read on the screen, is here, and a printable version is here. Suggestions for further commenting are welcome. Additions to the pdf have to be short, and tied to particular pieces of text or figures. And of course we will only incorporate comments that we deem to be scientifically sound and cogent.


While most of the world’s climate scientists were following the IPCC fest last week, a few contrarians left out in the cold were trying to to organize their own party.

An unofficial, “Independent Summary for Policymakers” (ISPM) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment report has been delivered by the Fraser Institute. It’s a long, imposing-looking document, resembling, come to think of it, the formatting of the real Summary for Policymakers (SPM) document that was released on Friday after final negotiations of the IPCC in Paris last week. The Fraser Institute has assembled an awesome team of 10 authors, including such RC favorites as tilter-against-windmills-and-hockey-sticks Ross McKitrick, and other luminaries such as William Kininmonth, MSc, M.Admin — whose most recent paper is “Don’t be Gored into Going Along” in the Oct-Nov issue of Power Engineer. To be fair, he did publish a paper on weather forecasting, back in 1973. According to the press release, the London kickoff event will be graced by the presence of “noted environmentalist” David Bellamy. It’s true he’s “noted,” but what he’s noted for is his blatant fabrication of numbers purporting to show that the world’s glaciers are advancing rather retreating, as reported here.

Why go to all the trouble of producing an “independent” summary? The authors illuminate us with this wisdom regarding the official Summary for Policymakers: “A further problem is that the Summary for Policy Makers attached to the IPCC Report is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments.” This statement (charitably) shows that the Fraser Institute authors are profoundly ignorant of the IPCC process. In fact, the actual authors of the official SPM are virtually all scientists, and are publically acknowleged. Moreover, the lead authors of the individual chapters are represented in the writing process leading to the SPM, and their job is to defend the basic science in their chapters. As lead author Gerald Meehl remarked to one of us on his way to Paris: “Scientists have to be ok, they have the last check. If they think the science is not represented, then they can send it back to the breakout groups. ”

A common accusation at the time of the Third Assessment Report was that the SPM didn’t reflect the science in the rest of the report. A special National Academy panel was convened at the request of President GW Bush, to consider this and other issues. The Panel found no significant disconnect between the SPM and the body of the report. The procedure followed this time is not in essence any different from that which has been used for previous IPCC reports.

One of the strangest sections of the Fraser Institute report is the one in which the authors attempt to throw dirt on the general concept of radiative forcing. Radiative forcing is nothing more than an application of the principle of conservation of energy, looking at the way a greenhouse gas alters the energy balance of a planet. The use of energy conservation arguments of this type has been standard practice in physics at least since the time of Fourier. We have heard certain vice presidents dismiss “Energy Conservation” as merely a matter of personal virtue, but we have never before heard people who purport to be scientists write off the whole utility of “Conservation of Energy.” From what is written in the Fraser report, it is not even clear that the authors understand the first thing about how radiative transfer calculations are done. They criticize the radiative forcing concept because it “fails to take into account the lifetime of greenhouse gases” — as if we really needed to know anything more about CO2 in this regard than that it stays around for centuries to millennia. They say that radiative forcing “is computed by assuming a linear relationship between certain climatic forcing agents and particular averages of temperature data.” Nonsense. It is computed using detailed calculations of absorption and emission of infrared radiation, based on laboratory measurements carried out with exquisite accuracy, and meticulously checked against real atmospheric observations.

Hockey-stick bashing and solar-explains-all advocacy are favorite activities of the denialist camp, so it is no surprise to see both themes amply represented in the Fraser Institute report. In neither case does the Fraser report break new ground in bad behavior. It’s just more of the same old same old. On climate of the past millennium, the Fraser report misrepresents the recent National Research Council report , which concluded quite the opposite of what the Fraser report claims it concluded: The National Research Council, like the official SPM, affirms that recent warming really does appear anomalous in light of the past millennium. The Fraser report obscures this point by cleansing the recent period of warming from their graphs. The discussion of solar variability consists of a lot of vague talk about unexplored possibilities, while skirting the basic problem with solar variability as an explanation of recent warming: There is no observed trend in solar activity of a type that could explain recent warming, and if the problem were an unobserved trend in solar ultraviolet, it would make the stratosphere (where UV is absorbed by ozone) trend warmer relative to a constant-solar baseline. In reality, the stratosphere is cooling strongly, and at about the rate the models predict.

The basic approach taken by the Fraser Institute Report is to fling a lot of mud at the models and hope that at least some of it sticks. Of course, if one looks at enough details one is bound to find some areas where there is a mismatch between models and reality. Modellers do this all the time, as a way of improving the representation of physical processes. However, to highlight a few shortcomings without asking what their implications might be for climate sensitivity, or whether the mismatch might be due to data problems rather than model problems (as in the case of tropical lapse rate), gives a distorted picture of the state of the art. An examination of the model shortcomings in the light of the vast range of important things they get right leaves the fundamental premise of the cause of warming unchallenged, and to see why, one needs to turn to a balanced assessment of the science such as represented in the full IPCC report.

The Fraser Institute authors also raise the curious objection that models have not been “formally proven” to be suitable for predicting the future. We are not sure what it would mean to “formally prove” such a thing (Kurt Gödel, are you listening?), but the specific objection raised in the Fraser report makes no sense: the authors suggest that the number of tunable parameters in models is so great that it may exceed the degrees of freedom in the data being “fit.” In reality, there are at most a dozen or two parameters that modellers touch, most of these are constrained to certain limits by data, and there are physical limitations to what one can do to the output by changing such parameters. In contrast, adding up time series of temperature and precipitation and pressure as a function of latitude and longitude, seasonal cycles, surface radiation balance, ocean heat storage, ENSO events, past climates, and vertical structure, there are literally thousands of observational constraints involved in the evaluation of model behavior.

There are so many bizarre statements in the Fraser Institute report that some of us think that spotting them could serve as a good final exam in an elementary course on climate change. Take your pick. The report states that “The IPCC gives limited consideration to aerosols …” whereas aerosols have been a key part of the scenarios since the Second Assessment Report, were the key to explaining the interrupted mid-century warming, and cannot in any way be mangled so as to spuriously give the warming of the past decades. The ISPM regales us with tales of natural global warming in the distant past, without pointing out that these happened over millions of years, had often massive consequences nonetheless, and were linked to processes like continental drift which are unlikely to be part of the explanation of the recent warming. The Fraser report describes the climate changes of the past century as “minor” (a value-laden and subjective term if ever there was one), failing to realize that climate change so far has been the fire alarm, not the fire. The climate of 2100 is not forecast to be mild.

We could go on, but why bother? We’ll leave off with a quote. “most places have observed slight increases in rain and/or snow cover”

Actually, consulting the draft of Chapter 4, snow cover kinda looks likes it’s been decreasing, not increasing. But take a look at the artful use of “and/or”. The sentence is not “formally” wrong. Superb! When you hear “ISPM,” just think “Incorrect Summary for Policymakers.”

Note: In the interests of timeliness, this commentary has been based on a January 8 draft of the “ISPM” which was leaked to us. If the final released version differs substantively from what we have seen so far, the changes (for better or worse) will be discussed in the comments.

176 Responses to “Fraser Institute fires off a damp squib”

  1. 1
    Tim Jones says:

    I’m hoping some real climate scientists take the Exxon funded Competitive Enterprise Institute up on its $10,000 offer for evidence disputing the conclusions of the IPCC WG1 FAR. What fun it would be to collect for laying out all the new information regarding melting glaciers and sea level change to point out that the IPCC is too conservative in its estimation of what seems to be sure to become dangerous climate change.

  2. 2
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    Good to see a timely defense of the science.

    This could have been written as a fill in the blank form. Instead of “Frasier Institute” you could write “insert one of various individuals and organizations who don’t like the implications of the science in the regulatory arena” ;)

    This would save a great deal of time. You would not need to do new posts for what the other contrarians are saying about the SPM.

  3. 3
    Andreas Mueller says:

    Mankind was not able to bring peace to the very local Near East region for some 60 years, Bush was not able to keep his fingers out of Iraq when he felt strong. Reading this dispute about science and i-science I come to the conclusion that mankind is unable to cope with problems of global scale. Please convince me from the opposite!

  4. 4
    A Frend says:

    Your link to “Fraser Institute” doesn’t go there!

  5. 5

    @ Andreas Mueller:
    “the uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness” — Vandana Shiva

  6. 6
    A Frend says:

    Thanks! It does now.

  7. 7
    Pascal says:

    I’m very disapointed concerning the very weak amount of Realclimate authors comments following the SPM publication.
    I believed, naïvely, that it was an important event.

    In this topic you speak about aerosols , but can you give us the “best estimate” of aerosols concentration and their global radiative effects between 1950 and 2006.

    And try to be as precise as possible, please.

  8. 8
    pete best says:

    It is only to be expected but it seems to me that this is another big Oil/coal attempt to delay mandatory restrictions on their efforts to provide the USA with the energy it needs in the cheapest an most profitable manner and hence corrupt their power base on capital hill. No doubt the money will keep on flowing for these people and why an environmentalist like David Bellamy of all people would dispute climate change is beyond me but he always was a bit to enthusiastic for my liking and hence a TV personality.

    Expect another 5 years of the same until the next IPCC comes out.

  9. 9

    The WSJ has produced a real eyeball roller in response to the FAR ExSum- Viscount Moncton as star witness, no less-

  10. 10
    Julian Todd says:

    I thought the leaked draft said “DO NOT CITE OR QUOTE”. I didn’t know they intended to publish it. These documents are very valuable to know, because they form the basis of what the denialists are going to refer to when they come forth with their misinformation. A common tactic in a live interview is for the denialist to draw the subject into a discussion about some nitpicking issue in which they can manufacture a dispute, and thus divert attention away from the main issue.

    If you can force the denier to concede that they obtained their particular factoid from a page of the Fraser Institute report or other briefing document, you ought to be able to assert the fact that all the points within it have already been discussed and sorted out at length by the scientific peer review process; a process they were free to submit their points to at the time of discussion — if they were actually interested in having scientists check them out.

  11. 11
    Alan says:

    RE: #3 “Please convince me from the opposite!”

    Wish I could but I can’t, my basic reasoning leads me to the “monkeysphere” every time. Let’s hope we’re both wrong, perhaps we are witnessing a new phase in “The Enlightenment” but condsidering the monkeysphere theory I think extinction within the next 150yrs is more likely.

    Frasier institute: Ding dong the witch is dead, ignore them from now on. Replace the empty space that the deniers have become, perhaps with some articles by marine biolgists, agriculturalists, ect. I think one of the most dangerous ideas “out there” is that rising sea levels are the worst side effect (ie: wet feet as most people see it). If rainfall patterns change dramatically and drought becomes more permenant then there will be a global famine of trully “biblical” proportions, combined with mass migration due to rising water. Argiculture takes place where the ground is fertile and has adequate rainfall/irrigation, it does not work on semi-molten permafrost or flooded desert sand. The ground is fertile because the rivers have been there for millenia, because the rain falls there or the glacier feeds the river, ect, ect…

    We need to be aware of the effects on our agriculture and the food chain of the oceans, just finding figures on world/regional agricultural output is difficult for an educated layman. I know Australian figures have suffered over the last 10yrs for grain and I know many N. Atlantic fisheries have collapsed but getting a picture of how it’s all connected and what the net effects are on food supply (over say 50yrs) is beyond my spare time.

    BTW: I live in SE Australia, we were singled out by the head of the UN’s climate body as “drought-ravaged and water-challenged Australia entering an election year”. That pretty much sums it up, in the last year Australian attitudes have gone from Howard/Bush style arrogance to “what the hell have they been doing for the last 10yrs”?

  12. 12
    Alan says:

    Re #6: “I’m very disapointed concerning the very weak amount of Realclimate authors comments following the SPM publication.”

    As a computer scientists I have played my small bit part in building the internet over the past couple of decades, others have filled it with knowlage, art, and conspiracy theories (the spam filter won’t let me say ppoorrnn). I’m kinda proud of the bit I played in building a “machine” where one billion people can talk personally to a group who make (IMHO historic) news, your comment is just plain rude! BTW: You are welcome to use “my” machine to find out what is “known to science” and let the rest of us know how you fare with an easily digestable blog open to constructive critisim.

    Besides, scientists rarely oil a “squeeky wheel”, they normally rely on an engineer. ;-o

  13. 13
    Benny says:

    Fraser Institute is inline with the other right-wing think tanks like Cato, CEI, and Reason. All have taken money from Exxon-Mobil and deny the science of climate change, and all took money from Big Tobacco and denied the health threats of second-hand smoke.

    Here’s Fraser on second-hand smoke.

  14. 14
    English says:

    “It’s true he’s “noted,” but what he’s noted for is his blatant fabrication of numbers purporting to show that the world’s glaciers are advancing rather retreating, as reported”

    My opinion is that Mr Bellamy is a noted botanist.

    I see no evidence in the link that you gave that he fabricated evidence. The report states he that probably mistyped whilst copying some figures that he believed to be correct. Am I wrong?

    [Response: Bellamy was a (non-notable) botanist some time ago; nowadays he is notable as a media person. We can test this, of course: what major contributions to botany do you think he has made? – William]

  15. 15
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Strange behavior persists this morning.

  16. 16
    Iain Murray says:

    Re #1: The Competitive Enterprise Institute has nothing to do with the advances made by the American Enterprise Institute. Nor have we received any money from ExxonMobil since 2005.

  17. 17
    Thom says:

    I’m a little surprised that they are still in the denial stage. I had thought that all of the belief tanks and climate contrarians would have moved on already to the “Well climate change is happening, but any attempts at mitigation will fail so let’s try and adapt.”

    That’s the fallback defensive position in denialist trench warfare.

  18. 18
    mike says:

    This is of course the same McKitrick whose supposed global warming “bombshell” publication turned out to be an artifact of not knowing the difference between degrees and radians!

  19. 19
    Sean D says:

    RC, I don’t really understand why you devote time and space to such a worthless and insignificant document. It seems to me you are inadvertently conferring legitimacy to the Fraser institute’s tripe by posting on their ISPM.

  20. 20
    Matt says:

    Gee Sean, “Know your enemy”, “Keep your enemies closer” etc etc. To laymen these guys are just believable enough to put the guilty mind at ease, you have to respond to challenges put up by denialists or they’ll walk all over ya.

    Reminds me of Mike Moore’s stupid white men. “While we’re all getting our first latte and still waking up for the day ahead, republicans have been working for hours finding new ways of ripping you off” Something like that anyway, just replace republicans with denialists.

  21. 21
    Serinde says:

    Re 9
    I hope someone is busy writing a reply to the WSJ editorial. It’s not hard to spot the howlers. Guess I’m surprised that RC doesn’t have a kind of form letter for these instances, they seem to occur so often. Scientists cannot hold themselves aloof from reiterating the facts and correcting errors in the science when an influential broadsheet persists in publishing rubbish. If you want to influence policy, you have to go head to head with the papers that are read by the policy makers, and that means, in this case, the WSJ.

    BTW, letter from VP of ExxonMobil denying attempts to exert influence at the AEI:,,2005907,00.html

  22. 22
    Charles Muller says:

    I share Pascal point of view. Are controversies about ISPM prose more important than a thorough explanation of IPCC AR4 ?

    I’m also interested by RC answer to his question. SPM explains us: it is very likely that most of the observed 1950-2005 warming is due to GHGs. “Most” and “very likely” are quite vague in my opinion (for “very likely”, I mean there is no quantitative estimate of likelihood here, I suppose it express the “elicitation of expert views” as precised in the IPCC Guidance notes for lead authors on adressing uncertainties). But more important than these rhetoric speculation, a transient temperature change 1950-2005 should be analysed in comparison with a transient forcing budget for the same period. Second Draft shows that aerosol direct and indirect forcing is still poorly understood or constrained, and aerosol emissions trends still poorly measured, even in present time, a fortiori in past decades. And all other forcings except GHGs have still a low scientific understanding. How do we have with this respect a 90-99% confidence about the recent warming trend, limited to 1977-2005 (for a statistically significant trend), and most pronounced in 1990-2005? How do we exclude (or simply evaluate) the aerosol-nebulosity-insolation part of recent trends?

  23. 23
    PHE says:

    While you can find fault with the WSJ article, this is a point we must not lose sight of: “There are also other problems–AIDS, malaria and clean drinking water, for example–whose claims on scarce resources are at least as urgent as climate change.” As someone who recognises the debate is not over, I can’t help feeling that these ‘other’ issues currently get rather less attention in the Western press than climate change, because, although very real problems, they are not perceived to affect the West directly (we in the Developed world can be self-centred). And to answer one commentator here, I am certainly not a Republican. I commend this site for at least recognising alternative viewpoints exist.

  24. 24
    Mike says:


    Deblogsmog’s been giving the Fraser stuff a good beating and the above link is music to mine ears but the site seems to attract the denial brigade and hey presto the following turned up:-

    “””I think you are missing the point: you still refer to RealClimate when two prestigious scientific committees have made clear that there are reasons to consider anything that comes from this site with suspicion. These people are in deep trouble, because although they use the word ‘science’ very very often…. “”””

    What’s all that about? Were those “prestigious” outfits the usual clowns?

    Keep up the good work


    [Response: Thanks Mike. Well, maybe they were referring to “Scientific American”, “Nature”, or “Science”. Oh wait, no, they all actually gave us a hardy endorsement. So perhaps they are referring to the prestigious “Cranks of Science”, er, I mean “Friends of Science”. –mike]

  25. 25
    Mark A. York says:

    RE#9, “For example, the Center for Science and Public Policy…” This is Pete du Pont’s conservative think tank in Dallas I believe. He’s a WSJ columnist, so the idea that the two agencies are equivalent is false on its face. Talk about incestuous.

  26. 26
    Lou Grinzo says:

    RC: Please keep debunking these kinds of things. I’m sure I’m far from the only regular reader of this site who needs all the help you can provide in arguing against the CC deniers. For example, just this morning I read the following letter in my local (Rochester, NY) newspaper. (Quoted in its entirety, including the writer’s credentials.)

    Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi and other proponents of the theory that global warming is man-made use the term “consensus” as a primary argument for their hypothesis. Inconveniently for them, truth is discovered from credible scientific finding, not consensus. Furthermore, as a former atmospheric physicist, I can vouch that there is nowhere near a consensus for this hypothesis among the community of credible scientists who study our planet.

    Repeated scientific verification supports the theories of relativity, the double-helix structure of DNA and even the theory of natural climate change, providing indisputable proof that these theories are in fact the truth. Nowhere in thousands of climate studies is there an instance of incontrovertible evidence that global warming is driven by the activities of humans. If there was even one, it would be widely cited and referenced. We would know the scientist’s name as we do Hubble, Einstein and Crick.

    A mere 10,000 years ago, the Rochester area was encased beneath thousands of feet of glacial ice. Global warming is a truth. The hypothesis that it is driven by human activity is false.

    The writer has a master’s degree in atmospheric physics and a doctorate in biophysics.

  27. 27
    Paul G. Brown says:

    Re # 22:

    Life presents us with an enormous number of problems. The question is, how do we prioritize these problems, and budget resources? The line you are taking here is right out of the Bjorn Lomborg playbook, and it is exactly the kind of ‘divide and conquer’ rhetorical tactic you would expect to see pushed from certain socio-political quarters. I seem to recall that the earliest defenders of slavery used the same trick to pit the temperance movement against abolitionists (“Sure slavery is bad, but look what the demon rum is doing! We can’t fix both of these scourges at the same time.”)

    There is no reason we can’t address both global climate change and the other calls to conscience the WSJ editorial page has suddenly and conveniently discovered. The former requires changes in the way the developed (and developing) world allocates its energy investment dollars (away from hydrocarbon fuels) and the latter involves questions of international aid and third world infrastructure investment.

    We can do both at the same time. Both are important. False dichotomies like this are all about diluting the energies of those advocating change.

    Anyway – this is a political discussion, and not realy germaine to TFB (The Fine Blog).

  28. 28
    Thom says:

    Just got a call off the Hill. Pielke Jr. is going to be testifying this Thursday for House Sience. Guess which party invited him…again!?

    Stay tuned.

    [Response: I wouldn’t knock it. If RPJr is now the fair-haired favorite of certain political parties, that’s certainly a big improvement over Michael Crichton. As a shift in the terms of the debate, it’s a distinct move in the right direction. –raypierre]

  29. 29
    Tony Noerpel says:

    Gavin et al

    Could you comment on a recent article in Science , January 26th, about jet streams? Jet Stream Conundrum by Baldwin states: Eath’s atmospheric jets have shifted poleward by about 1 degree since 1979. How does this impact AGW or the other way around?

    Also, in AGU Geophysical research letters an article about methane hydrates titled Origin of pingo-like features on the Beaufort Sea shelf and their possible relationship to decomposing methane gas hydrates, sheds new information about this menace.

    Finally, any comments on the recent controversy that the AR-4 may be too conservative especially with respect to sea level rise, particularly ignoring results from GLACE and meltwater pouring down moulins?

    thanks as always


    [Response: I promise my next post will be pure science — and the jet stream post is the very next I will do. Look for it as part of our review of what’s in the full IPCC report. I won’t be able to quote the report itself until it’s issued, but the jet stream shift does make an appearance and I can certainly talk about the published literature, of which there is a good deal by now. The jet shift post will be the long-awaited “part 3” of the series Rasmus and I were doing on global warming and atmospheric circulations. (For those of you with a good memory, Part II dealt with the hydrological cycle in the tropics, discussing the Nature paper by Vecchi et al). –raypierre]

  30. 30
    lars says:

    re #25
    link to your post
    (February 5, 2007) â?? Proving that man causes warming
    The writer has a master’s degree in atmospheric physics and a doctorate in biophysics.

  31. 31
    lars says:

    is it true?

    During most of the last 1 billion years the earth had no permanent ice.

    [Response: It is true. Watch out for the paleoclimate chapter when the full IPCC report is released, which discusses climate changes in Earth’s history and their causes. Or if you can’t wait, a good start is the paper by Royer et al.. -stefan]

  32. 32
    ghost says:

    RE: 23 For people who think that disease, hunger, and hygiene are tough issues now, imagine how that picture would appear with the influence of fully-engaged AGW. In my view, not doing what we “can” to avert full-blown AGW would be equivalent to providing antibiotics (or maybe more apt, drinking cups) to users of dirty water rather than cleaning the water. The WSJ’s use of the scare phrase “scarce resources” is a red herring in at least one important way: energy conservation does not involve using scarce resources, other than the political spine to do it. THAT resource has been non-existent in the government(s) of the United States of Entertainment since at least 2000.

    “While you can find fault with the WSJ article, this is a point we must not lose sight of: “There are also other problems–AIDS, malaria and clean drinking water, for example–whose claims on scarce resources are at least as urgent as climate change.”

  33. 33
    Stephan Schulz says:

    I was a bit curious about the panel of experts, so I semi-randomly pickes three of the names (Prof. Friedrich Schneider, Prof. Erwin Diewert, Prof. Ronald W. Jones) and checked their qualification. Now this is a small sample, but all three turned out to be economists. Diewert seems to have a reasonable qualification is statistics, but none of them is a climatologist or even a physical scientist…

  34. 34
    julio says:

    i have a basic question: what is the estimated TOTAL amount of CO2 pushed into the atmosphere yearly, from ALL sources? What is the amount from man’s activities? Oddly, I’ve never noticed these figures in a layman’s source.

  35. 35
    English says:

    re #14 response

    The question was “am I wrong?”.

    I purposefully stated that it is my OPINION that Dr Bellamy is notable so I fail to see how I could be wrong on that point.

    The link given is a newspaper article that states that Dr Bellamy apparently made a mistake while copying figures that he believed to be correct and Dr Bellamy does not deny this. I see no evidence in the link that he purposefully (blatantly?) fabricated anything, or am I wrong?

    (The article is from The Guardian, the newspaper commonly known as The Grauniad because of its many typo’s.)

  36. 36
    Stephan Schulz says:

    …red-faced addition: The people I checked are from the editorial advisory board, not the actual author list. Still…

  37. 37
    No Longer a Urinated State of America says:

    “…red-faced addition: The people I checked are from the editorial advisory board, not the actual author list. Still…”

    Well, Kinnimouth and Karlen do have relevant backgrounds.

  38. 38
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #25 & the science journalist’s need for “repeated scientific verification” for acceptance of a fact.

    Well, let’s see, we could emit as much GHGs as possible & complete this global warming experiment on laboratory earth, & get the whole thing up to par with the law of universal gravity. Though there may not be people left (or at least educated, scientific types) to appreciate the experiment’s fine results. Guess that’s just the risk we must take in the name of scientific advancement.

    Or, we could use what data we do have, plus ingenious proxies, plus sophisticated computer models, and try & figure out whether a huge catastrophe is upon us, so as to give us a chance to avert it.

  39. 39
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hi Juli; I’m just another amateur reader here, not a climate scientist. I answer questions if I think I can, with the hope they’ll correct me so I learn something (grin).

    > basic question: what is the estimated TOTAL amount of CO2 pushed
    > into the atmosphere yearly, from ALL sources?

    You’re asking about the sum resulting from natural biogeochemical cycling and the added amount from human sources.

    First, natural sources — the total annually is approximately zero.
    This may surprise you — you can look it up.
    That’s because “Push” and “pull” matched, averaged over each year, at least since the end of the last ice age — about eleven thousand years.

    That was true until the last few centuries.

    See the tables here for a start:

    > What is the amount from man’s activities?

    The excess, above what nature has been handling, because nature adjusts rather slowly; the ocean has absorbed about half what people have added.


  40. 40
    Hank Roberts says:

    Those who frequent conference rooms may find this interesting:

    “At 1000 ppm, nearly all the occupants were
    affected. These effects were observed in humans with
    only a transient exposure to an atmosphere containing in-
    creased levels of carbon dioxide and not a lifetime expo-
    sure. At present, the conditions giving rise to these symptoms
    can be readily reversed by moving into the outdoor at-
    mosphere. In the event that the atmospheric concentration
    of carbon dioxide reaches 600 ppm, the planet will have a
    permanent outdoor atmosphere exactly like that of a
    stuffy room. The conditions indoors in buildings of the
    type now available will become even more unpleasant and
    could easily reach 1000 ppm permanently with the results
    outlined above. Office buildings exist which are described
    as `sick’, in which workers display symptoms of carbon
    dioxide poisoning. Office levels of carbon dioxide pres-
    ently reach 800 to 1200 ppm and in overcrowded conference
    rooms, the level can reach 2000 ppm. These conditions
    will be greatly elevated under conditions where the general
    atmosphere has reached a carbon dioxide concentration of
    600 ppm.”
    CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 90, NO. 12, 25 JUNE 2006

  41. 41
    Bryson Brown says:

    Groan. I thought the Fraser would have rolled over by now, given that their political representatives in Ottawa (our ‘new’ conservative government) have suddenly become enthusiastic converts to global warming (including the human role in causing it). But you can never overestimate the stubborn head-burying-in-sand capabilities of a right-wing think tank. More seriously, I do expect the next phase will be all about how we can’t really do anything about GW, GW may not really be that bad, and, gee, why would you do anything at all that won’t benefit you for decades? (At that rate, we might as well just go on smoking, using asbestos in our houses, etc…)

  42. 42
    lars says:

    re #38

    what huge catastrophe?
    let’s see, global warming sea level rise…

    ice age sea levee falling and most of the northern hemisphere covered by glaciers…
    now that would be a catastrophe…..

  43. 43
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #34: Anyone can make a mistake. The problem with Bellamy is that he failed to retract his claim after being confronted with the evidence that he was wrong. Note that the typo error only served to compound his original error in citing a figure that turned out to be fraudulent (and could have been esaily checked at the original source). If as you imply Bellamy ought to be given some degree of credit for his scientific expertise, why should he be cut any slack for the sort of elementary research error that a science undergrad would lose points for? But to repeat, all of the pales in contrast to his failure to retract the mistaken claim.

  44. 44
    Sashka says:

    In fact, the actual authors of the official SPM are virtually all scientists, and are publically acknowleged.

    Sounds like there are some exceptions. Can I ask who they are and what was the need to put non-scientist there? It seems to me that there is no shortage of better qualified authors.

  45. 45
    Hank Roberts says:

    >38, 42
    > what huge catastrophe?

    Glad you asked.

    Hope that helps.

  46. 46
    lars says:

    re #45

    at last, a link that mentions over population….

    why is that not in the kyoto treaty or in any of the solutions to global warming? china, india, muslims all claiming over one billion people…..

  47. 47
    Ed G. says:

    re 46.
    China & India might be fair enough, but there are muslims in many countries. This is not a similar situation. There are over two billion christians too.

    [Response: Comment 46 slipped through by mistake. Population policy is off-topic to the present discussion, but is certainly a relevant factor in determining future CO2 emissions. How that population is distributed amongst religions is irrelevant, and shouldn’t have been brought up. Let’s leave it at that. –raypierre]

  48. 48
    raypierre says:

    Re Sashka’s query (44):

    I’ve appended the complete SPM author list below. Actually, I’m pretty sure that they’re all scientists, but there were two or three names whose work I wasn’t familiar with, so I wrote “virtually” just to be on the safe side. You can check out credentials for yourself, by looking on Google scholar.

    Drafting Authors:
    Richard Alley, Terje Berntsen, Nathaniel L. Bindoff, Zhenlin Chen, Amnat Chidthaisong, Pierre Friedlingstein, Jonathan
    Gregory, Gabriele Hegerl, Martin Heimann, Bruce Hewitson, Brian Hoskins, Fortunat Joos, Jean Jouzel, Vladimir Kattsov,
    Ulrike Lohmann, Martin Manning, Taroh Matsuno, Mario Molina, Neville Nicholls, Jonathan Overpeck, Dahe Qin, Graciela
    Raga, Venkatachalam Ramaswamy, Jiawen Ren, Matilde Rusticucci, Susan Solomon, Richard Somerville, Thomas F. Stocker,
    Peter Stott, Ronald J. Stouffer, Penny Whetton, Richard A. Wood, David Wratt

    Draft Contributing Authors:
    Julie Arblaster, Guy Brasseur, Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, Kenneth Denman, David W. Fahey, Piers Forster, Eystein Jansen,
    Philip D. Jones, Reto Knutti, Hervé Le Treut, Peter Lemke, Gerald Meehl, Philip Mote, David Randall, Daíthí A. Stone, Kevin
    E. Trenberth, Jürgen Willebrand, Francis Zwiers

  49. 49
    James says:

    Re #42: “ice age sea levee falling and most of the northern hemisphere covered by glaciers… now that would be a catastrophe…”

    Actually, that’s probably not the case. Suppose we could return to the conditions of the last Ice Age. Sure, we’d lose some productive land in the far north, but that would be more than compensated for by the new lands exposed by the lower sea level. Add in the now-arid lands (such as most of the western US) that were then much wetter, and the increased ocean productivity, and I do believe we’d see a considerable net benefit – except we’d have complaints about the illegal Canadian immigrants :-)

  50. 50
    Mark Hadfield says:

    I’m no supporter of David Bellamy’s position of glaciers, and last I heard he announced he wasn’t going to say anything about global warming for a while (to avoid further embarassment presumably). But I agree with “English” that “blatant fabrication” is not fair. The 55% to 555 thing was surely inadvertent fabrication at worst (though I’m not aware that he’s ever admitted it publicly) and the 55% he got from someone else.