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Adventures on the East Side

Filed under: — gavin @ 15 March 2007 - (Türkçe)

So that was …. interesting.

First off, I’d like to thank the commenters for all of the suggestions and ideas to the previous post. They were certainly useful. In particularly, the connection with the difficulties faced by evolutionists in debates vs. creationists proved to be very a propos. Our side played it it pretty straight – the basic IPCC line (Richard Somerville), commentary on the how ‘scientized’ political debates abuse science (me, though without using the word ‘scientized’!) and the projections and potential solutions (Brenda Ekwurzel). Crichton went with the crowd-pleasing condemnation of private jet-flying liberals – very popular, even among the private jet-flying Eastsiders present) and the apparent hypocrisy of people who think that global warming is a problem using any energy at all. Lindzen used his standard presentation – CO2 will be trivial effect, no one knows anything about aerosols, sensitivity from the 20th Century is tiny, and by the way global warming stopped in 1998. Stott is a bit of a force of nature and essentially accused anyone who thinks global warming is a problem of explicitly rooting for misery and poverty in the third world. He also brought up the whole cosmic ray issue as the next big thing in climate science.
Update: The transcript is now available – though be aware that it has not yet been verified for accuracy. Audio + Podcast.

The podcast should be available next Wednesday (I’ll link it here once it’s available), and so you can judge for yourselves, but I’m afraid the actual audience (who by temperament I’d say were split roughly half/half on the question) were apparently more convinced by the entertaining narratives from Crichton and Stott (not so sure about Lindzen) than they were by our drier fare. Entertainment-wise it’s hard to blame them. Crichton is extremely polished and Stott has a touch of the revivalist preacher about him. Comparatively, we were pretty dull.

I had started off with a thought that Lindzen and Stott, in particular, would avoid the more specious pseudo-scientific claims they’ve used in other fora since there were people who would seriously challenge them at this debate. In the event, they stuck very closely to their standard script. Lindzen used the ‘GW stopped in 1998’ argument which even Crichton acknowledged later was lame. He also used the ‘aerosols are completely uncertain’ but ‘sensitivity to CO2 from the 20th Century is precisely defined’ in adjoining paragraphs without any apparent cognitive dissonance. Stott didn’t use the medieval English vineyards meme (as he did in TGGWS) – but maybe he read the RC article ahead of time.

The Q&A was curious since most questions were very much of the ‘I read the Wall Street Journal editorial page’ style, and I thought we did okay, except possibly when I suggested to the audience that the cosmic ray argument was being used to fool them, which didn’t go over well – no-one likes being told they’re being had (especially when they are). My bad.

The organisers asked us afterwards whether we’d have done much different in hindsight. Looking back, the answer is mostly no. We are scientists, and we talk about science and we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas – and obviously that put us at a sharp disadvantage (shades of David Mamet?).

One minor detail that might be interesting is that the organisers put on luxury SUVs for the participants to get to the restaurant – 5 blocks away. None of our side used them (preferring to walk), but all of the other side did.

So are such debates worthwhile? On balance, I’d probably answer no (regardless of the outcome). The time constraints preclude serious examination of any points of controversy and the number of spurious talking points can seriously overwhelm the ability of others to rebut them. Taking a ‘meta’ approach (as I attempted) is certainly not a guaranteed solution. However, this live audience were a rather select bunch, and so maybe this will go over differently on the radio. There it might not matter that Crichton is so tall…

490 Responses to “Adventures on the East Side”

  1. 451

    [[ global cooling was pretty much the consensus of the scientists. ]]

    No, it was not. There was no scientific consensus for global cooling. The scientific consensus in the 1970s was that we didn’t know enough one way or the other. RealClimate did a whole article on this if you look for it.

  2. 452
    Rod B. says:

    I might have stretched the word “consensus” a bit (“many” or “most” is the usual description), but that seems perfectly acceptable these days.

  3. 453
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 446 “The AGW/CO2 theory was being explored by a few daring souls, but in fact global cooling was pretty much the consensus of the scientists.”
    Rodb: Can you cite a reliable reference to support that assertion? And I don’t mean Time or Newsweek magazine.

  4. 454
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, Yes, from the 40s to the 70s, it was indeed cooling. And they even pretty much knew why–aerosols from burning of hydrocarbons. So, let’s see, we have concern over warming temperatures prior to the 1940s due to greenhouse gas emissions, concern about cooling due to aerosols in the post-war boom, and when developed economies started cleaning up emissions in the 70s, the warming trend emerged again. So, it looks to me like they were right throughout.
    The use of this canard to suggest that we don’t understand climate is getting tiresome. The truth of the matter is that we understand it quite well and have for some time.

  5. 455
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, either you’re “stretching” or you’re quoting from someone who’s “stretching” — and claiming that you can lie because you claim others are lying is …. pathetic.

    You can look this stuff up. Use the Search box, top of page.
    One example of one result:

    If you’ve been fooled once, no shame — you aren’t giving your sources, and that makes it appear that you don’t yet have the habit of being skeptical about information.

    Learn how to be skeptical: give the sources for what you read, as the first step toward sorting out science from PR that pretends to be scientific.

    Learn to check the footnotes — and read them.

    If you’re repeatedly going to sites that fool you, then coming here to repost what you believe based on those sources, tell us what you’re relying on, because that’s sad. If you’re intentionally reposting bogus information, please stop. That’s recreational typing, and wastes everyone’s time.

    Insisting people try to be accurate will get people’s feelings hurt sometimes. I’m awful tough on journalists myself, or try to be — maybe tougher on those who usually get things right, because I expect better than average writing. But it gets better info to try.

  6. 456
    Bruce King says:

    re #446, (which was Rod B.’s response to my #444): “I know I’m a sometimes pain in the butt stickler for details, even if not terribly significant. But the 70s cooling scare was not basically media hype.”

    Rod, I simply refer you to the relevant part of the transcript …

    there wasn’t a scientific consensus in the ’70s about global cooling. There was hype in the news media. Quoting Newsweek is not the right way to evaluate, uh, scientific thought, you can look it up. [APPLAUSE]
    BRIAN LEHRER (moderator)
    … do you agree on this 1970s global cooling thing, that that was media hype, Richard Lindzen?
    Actually, I do not disagree with Richard on that.
    Thank you
    I think it is true that the media amplified what was going on considerably …

    So Rod, since you are a stickler for details is it then safe to assume that you will be sending letters of correction to both Dr. Somerville and Dr. Lindzen?

  7. 457

    In comment 441, 29 Mar 2007 @ 2:44 pm, Ray says, in part: “[…] However, it is true that scientists tend to shy away from the word “proof”, usually in favor of terms like “evidence”, “probability”, etc.”

    If that is true, then the situation is very unfortunate. If a scientist tells a layman, “We don’t prove our theories,” then the layman goes away with the conclusion that the theories are unproven — which means to him they are no better than the “beliefs” of others who rely on mystical “insight.”

    Ray, thank you for the link to Helen Quinn’s article. She confirms my view that proof is an appropriate word and concept in science. She speaks in terms of validation and inference (if I recall correctly) and argumentation. Well that is what proof is — a chain of arguments (inferences) leading from from evidence (facts of reality) to a conclusion (the point to be proven). And a proof is one kind of validation (that is, one kind of way of making sure that our ideas are tied logically to the facts of reality).

    I have added the Quinn link to my folder for “neutral” sources on the debates over anthropogenic climate change.

    Ray also notes: “Please beware, scientists often used words used in common parlance, but mean something very different by them. Again, I’ll recommend the editorial by Helen Quinn: …”

    Ray, what you say is true of everyone, not only scientists. Aristotle pointed out in On Sophistical Refutations (165a6-10) that “names are finite [in number] … while things [to be named] are infinite in number. Inevitably, then, […] a single name [may] have a number of meanings.” In other words, there are more things in the world than we have names for, so we end up using the same names to mean different things in different contexts.

    There is, of course, a simple solution to this problem, both for scientists and laymen: Ask the question, “What do you mean by that term/idea?” And then the conversation can proceed.

  8. 458
    Hank Roberts says:

    And if you come up with any cite — check whether it’s not not already collected:

  9. 459
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Quinn

    Dr. Quinn does not say “proof” in the article (the word does not appear); as I read it, she’s she’s saying scientists need to explain better what science can discover. Feynmann put it well when he said the easiest person to fool is ourself; science helps us go beyond our own foolishness.

    As I read it, claiming science has “proved” anything guarantees confusing people further. Perfectly good word, no reason to misapply it.

    “… In science the essential point is that every idea has a tentative natureâ��if data tell us we are wrong, we must give up that idea. …

    “The existence of universal scientific laws is certainly an effective postulateâ��so much can be predicted and understood based on its application. This postulate is tested over and over again, …. we can say it is no longer just an assumption, but an observed fact over a wide range of space and time.”

    So she’s saying we “postulate” — because they so far survive being tested in new environments — “universal scientific laws” but that’s (as the grammarians say) descriptive, not prescriptive.

  10. 460
    Rod B. says:

    re 453-456, et al: [potentially inflammatory language edited] First of all there was only a small set of the small number of climatologists who believed the concept of noticeable AGW from CO2 in the late 60s. In 1970 Landsberg stressed how little is truly known; Lamb said the effects of CO2 were dubious. All stemming from the 1940-1970 cooling (and lack of accurate measurements) just as the AGW theory was starting to gain some interest. It’s true the scientists weren’t terribly worried about a global cooling crises — the same as they had no belief (other than a minority opinion from a couple of respected scientists) in a crises from AGW. Further, other than literally a couple of cats who speculated on aerosol reflection, nobody had a clue about that [edited], nor about other greenhouse gasses. It wasn’t until the 70s that AGW started filling in some of the blanks and becoming more mainstream, from the late 60s new computer analyses, better measurements, and, in the 70s, significantly more cross-pollination of scientific fields.

    I supplanted some of my awareness from Don’t know if it was “peer reviewed” or not and don’t particularly care. It ain’t rocket science. [edited] Nor did I make any claim that the 40s-1970 cooling period disproves AGW. You guy(s) just read that in [edited] Lighten up guys. Nothing here refutes your AGW theory. [edited]

  11. 461
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #448, what I don’t understand is why serial hybrids aren’t available in mass market cars yet? They’re much more efficient than parallel ones. And also why hybrids using Li-ion batteries still aren’t available in mass market cars – they’re far more efficient than NiMH ones. Any ideas?

  12. 462
    Hank Roberts says:

    Li-ion batteries used in packs have had a variety of problems
    (good chargers charge each cell independently, but those are expensive — look for the computer battery connectors with multiple contacts, it’s one per cell if done that way).

    A charger that handles a pack of Li-ion cells either in series, or in parallel by averaging them, is apt to cause problems* when one cell is failing. I don’t currently know of any chargers for them that have the Underwriters Labs seal of approval. There’s a wide range of chemistry and voltage and protection circuitry for Li-ion.

    One of the advantages of NiMH over either NiCd or Li-ion chemistry is that when NiMH cells are in a fire for any reason, whether because of charging problemsw or just being in a conflagration, they don’t make extremely toxic smoke.
    * Google will find them.

  13. 463
    Jim Roland says:

    #462. Don’t NiMH suffer from the memory effect – rather dysfunctional for PIH or fully electric cars? Any idea what type the Li-ion battery pack of the Venture Vehicles 3-wheeler series would be?

  14. 464
    Rod B. says:

    Moderators: you edited out of 460 all of my cutsey cynacisms of which I was so proud. But then it ended as a well composed cogent note. Great job! You guys are amazing.

  15. 465
    Ray Ladbury says:

    What is your source for saying that climatologists in the 60s and 70s didn’t believe CO2 influenced climate. Everything I’ve seen suggests that the two were viewed as competing effects and aerosols were winning. See for example:

    The PNAS also had a study that reached similar conclusions. Certainly the scientists understood the relative dwell times of aerosols and CO2 as well. I’ve never known good scientists in any field to appreciate the importance of competing effects.

  16. 466
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 465 “I’ve never known good scientists in any field to appreciate the importance of competing effects.”

    Ray, did you mean to say “I’ve never known good scientists…FAIL to appreciate the importance of competing effects”?
    I hope so.

  17. 467
    Rod B. says:

    Ray (re 465), One of my references is:

    And a couple of quotes I gleaned from your reference:
    “…Through the early 1960s, ideas about human influence on climate had focused on greenhouse effect warming caused by industrial emissions of carbon dioxide gas (CO2)… …At the time the effect seemed no more than a fuzzy speculation, and it sounded all the less attractive after weather experts reported that a world-wide cooling trend had been underway for a decade or so… ”

    “[in 1970]..a calculation of the actual effects was still far beyond reach. Such work was admittedly closer to plausible story-telling than scientific rigor. Neither laboratory nor theoretical studies had gone far in studying the kind of [aerosol] particles that mattered for climate.
    Aerosol science was just emerging as a field standing on its own… …And these problems, involving dust and pollution, “had no glamour to offer for young researchers,” as one pioneer admitted. The field’s first journal (named, naturally enough, the Journal of Aerosol Science) was not founded until 1970, and the editor remarked that even then “academic status has not been achieved.” […and very few of these worked with climate…]”

    This doesn’t mean that a few outliers from the (almost) consensus weren’t convinced and working on it, and later were proven to be at least close. Just that climate science (including CO2 and aerosol related) was loose, fuzzy, uncertain, and broad-guaged until around the late 60s to early 70s.

    Why is this contentious?

  18. 468
    Hank Roberts says:

    I think you’re jumping back and forth between two very different kinds of knowledge, and mixing them:

    > noticeable AGW from CO2 …. the effects of CO2 were dubious …
    That’s talking about observed changes attributable to fossil CO2 increases, and this was not clearly distinguishable from the natural variability — nor expected to be — even much later in the 20th Century.

    But don’t confuse clear, attributable, specific effects in the observations with the knowledge of the basic physics that was establishing the basis for expecting to see this effect, because of a change in the planet’s radiation balance. That, as the AIP history points out, became clear as early as the 1950s.

    These are very different. This is something a lot of people have difficulty with (that’s why the AIP page says radiation balance is a difficult area.

    This is something many people have difficulty understanding about science and scientists — how can they be so sure of what they know based on basic facts established about how the world works, even when they can’t point to a clear human-scale observation and claim it proves something’s true.

    Are you clear on how that works?

  19. 469
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 466-468: Yes, Chuck, thanks for the correction.

    Rod, the link I cited on the role of aerosols makes it quite clear that the greenhouse effect due to CO2 was known and understood, but that “a rapid and world-wide rise of atmospheric turbidity was counteracting the CO2 greenhouse effect.” The science of aerosols was not fully understood, true, but we had considerable experience with volcanic eruptions, etc. The reason your phrasing is controversial is that it downplays the level of understanding climate scientists had even in the 1970s. And since a time-honored tactic of the denialists is to downplay the level of scientific understanding, I believe it is important to emphasize the fact that the science of climate change is in fact quite mature. I mean, think of it: we saw warming and correctly attributed it to increasing CO2. Then things started cooling, and rather than throw out what we knew and start over again, we asked, “Well, what has changed?” Answer: we’re dumping a lot of aerosols into the air, and we know aerosols can have a cooling effect. And then pollution controls decrease the aerosols, and the warming trend re-emerges. That type of synthesis is characteristic of a mature field of investigation, not of an exploratory phase. It suggests that future developments in our understanding of climate will likely be incremental, rather than revolutionary. And the implication of that is that it is appropriate–indeed essential–to base policy on that science.

  20. 470
    Rod B. says:

    re 468: No, Hank, I’m not sure I comprehend your point. It sounds a little like inductive vs. inductive rationale… ???, but I’m struggling with it.

    Maybe this is off the mark, but my point is: measurement and observation of CO2 in the atmosphere was fuzzy and just becoming accurate in the 60s or so. There was a little more common agreement on the measure/observation of global temp — but that got a temporary hiccup with the cooling going on. The basic science also was dubious: CO2 absorption of infrared was becoming a little clearer following the (mostly) military work of the 40s and 50s, but the ocean’s not absorbing most added atmospheric CO2 got its first following, beyond the 2 or 3 scientists making the contentions, in the early 60s or so.

    All in all, with a few individual (and notable) exceptions, AGW was not an accepted proposition in the 60s, though there was much suspicion, and it started gaining a following in the later 60s.

  21. 471
    Rod B. says:

    I dunno, Ray; maybe we’re splitting hairs. But, fact: In the 60s, scientists, other that a very few notable individual exceptions, DID NOT have a solid accepted understanding that industrial CO2 emissions cause global warming. You might be correct on the necessity to assert this anyway in a political arena because that usually requires great hyperbole to get anything across. But you’re flat wrong in a scientific arena.

    The science was making progress. Then it hit that “global cooling” speed bump and got knocked around a bit. But recovered. You are correct that in the 70s then, AGW thought started to advance further, come together, gel, and gain acceptance.

  22. 472
    Dan says:

    For context on that global cooling “speed bump”, see “The Global Cooling Myth” at

  23. 473
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, to state that scientists suddenly stopped believing in the importance of CO2 as a ghg or in the possible importance of anthropogenic ghgs is misleading. The question was which effect would be dominant. Yes, the cooling trend raised questions about the level of CO2 forcing, but this was uncertain in any case at the time.
    The difference is important in the following sense: I contend that progress in climate has been fairly steady, with the uncertainties being reduced, the methods developed and refined and the conclusions strengthened. I contend your point of view suggests a science more in its infancy, subject to false starts and stops, and feeling its way in the dark. I would contend instead that the science is mature and has been for over 25 years–maybe even 50 years.

  24. 474
    Rod B. says:

    Dan, you’re projecting today’s knowledge back to the 60s and 70s. Not my point. Today you proponents have a fairly decent explanation for the 40-70 cooling and might even rebut the “myth”. But, BACK THEN, they, other than a couple of dedicated outliers, had nary a clue.

  25. 475
    Dan says:

    re: 474. As explained at the link, the science in the 60s and 70s was not saying there was impending global cooling. That is not projecting today’s knowledge backward. It is simply a statement of fact regarding the misconceptions that people have about what was actually said/known then.

  26. 476
    Hank Roberts says:

    “nary a clue” is exactly wrong, you know. What they had at the time was a variety of hypotheses.
    Each, eventually, was refined and checked against observations.

    Young people today forget what it was like before satellites — heck, before there were even a lot of aircraft available to do science. You’re talking about the time when there were serious (among politicians) discussions of winning a preemptive nuclear war with only a few thousand or ten thousand nuclear bombs being used and people only having to shelter for a couple of weeks then resume their normal lives.

    I lived in North Carolina. I recall the Scientific American cover article that showed an aerial view of the first long duration exposure test there —- a cobalt source in a pit in the pine forest, used to dose the area with radiation estimated to match that from the “winnable nuclear war.”

    All the trees died. Big, brown circle in the forest. Oops. Back to the drawing board for the policy planners.

    Remember ‘nuclear winter’? That was — in hindsight — an overestimate of how badly the world would be cooled by the soot from burning a few thousand or ten thousand cities and industrial facilities in “winning” that hypothetical nuclear war.

    The whole question of how much difference aerosols and soot made on climate was not some lightweight theoretical question puzzling a few scientists in the 1950s.

    It was a question the scientists wanted to address, because the politicians assumed “no problem” and were planning on that basis, wrongly.

    Sound at all familiar?

  27. 477
    Rod B. says:

    Ray, Dan, Hank, et al: I keep saying, “is not.” You keep saying, “is too.” Don’t know about you all, but I’m getting tired. The intransigence here is how much climatology was developed and accepted in the 60s and early 70s. I admit that it was coming into its own in the 70s (25 yrs. back) but I would hardly call it “mature” then — though this is a quibble. But mainstream/mature in the 60s (let alone 50 yrs. back!)? This can only be supported with blind religious dogma, or at least a grossly hyperbolic interpretation of the very few scientists still carrying the water. I’ll simply repeat part of my #460 which quoted two of the reportedly top climatologists of the day: ” …In 1970 Landsberg stressed how little is truly known; Lamb said the effects of CO2 were dubious. All stemming from the 1940-1970 cooling (and lack of accurate measurements)… “

  28. 478

    I have changed my mind.

    On reflection, I don’t think informed people should abstain from public debates of any sort.

    I think we should try harder to frame the discussion sensibly, and to ensure that the careful middle is presented as the careful middle rather than as an extreme. However, we can’t simply abstain.

    The reason is evident here:

    Here, Bill Nye “the science guy” (a pop science TV personality), apparently only casually acquainted with the science, speaks for the consensus position as he vaguely understands it. He blurts the all-too-common nonsense about the “Gulf Stream shutting down” and is promptly and summarily eaten for breakfast by Dick Lindzen.

    It would have been nice to have someone up there who had something of substance to say that wasn’t completely wrong.

  29. 479
    Hank Roberts says:

    One last time — “is too”
    You’re right, we’re roughly on the same page by now I think.

    You’re talking about this page:

    “a calculation published by Princeton computer specialists in 1967: the first reasonably solid estimate of the global temperature change that was likely if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere doubled.(41)

    Few scientists at this time were centrally concerned with CO2 as an agent of future global warming. They addressed the gas as simply one component in their study of biological, oceanographic or meteorological systems.(42) Most stuck with the old assumption that the Earth’s geochemistry was dominated by stable mineral processes, operating on a planetary scale over millions of years. People did not easily grasp how sensitive the Earth’s atmosphere was to biological forces – the totality of the planet’s living activity – to say nothing of the small fraction of that activity affected by humanity.

    Leading scientists continued to doubt that anyone needed to worry at all about the greenhouse effect. The veteran climate expert Helmut Landsberg stressed in a 1970 review that little was known about how humans might change the climate. At worst, he thought, the rise of CO2 at the current rate might bring a 2°C temperature rise over the next 400 years, which “can hardly be called cataclysmic.”(43) Meanwhile Hubert H. Lamb, the outstanding compiler of old climate data, wrote that the effects of CO2 were “doubtful… there are many uncertainties.”

    and this one:

    Lamb: “As the respected British climate expert Hubert Lamb suggested, before taking any action it seemed like ‘an essential precaution to wait until a scientific system for forecasting the behavior of the natural climate… has been devised and operated successfully for, perhaps, a hundred years.'(9)

  30. 480
    Rod B. says:

    Hank, both sides of the equation way too often dogmatically use hyperbole to make points. I think that this, in scientific circles and discussions, actually detracts from their total credibility, spilling over and reducing acceptance of other more reasoned arguments. But, unfortunately, hyperbole is probably required in political circles.

  31. 481

    Speaking of debates, Newt Gingrich and John Kerry are about to “square off on climate change” at NYU next Tuesday, although the formal program lists it as a “conversation”.

  32. 482
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Kerry vs. Gingrich Debate SOLUTIONS to Global Warming

    RE: 481. The debate actually took place in DC and was moderated by someone from NYU. Of special note is that both agree that the warming is anthropogenic and a crisis worthy of policymaker attention.

    Kerry favors a cap and trade system, Gingrich tax credits and other business incentives, which Kerry says will take too long to be effective.

    From an historical perspective, Gingrich’s about face on climate change is quite remarkable. During his tenure as Speaker in the 1990’s, it was his “Contract with (on) America” that required Republican members to march up to the microphone on a regular basis and state “I do not believe in global warming,” as if children reciting a pledge.

    More ominously, it was the Gingrich years that saw the beginning of the attempts to discredit scientists warning of the coming global warming crisis. Now that their prophet is reciting from the IPCC instead of the CON (Contract on America), will the remaining holdouts in Congress stand down and become part of the solution instead of fighting a war that he has decided is already over?

  33. 483
    Steven Soleri says:

    OK….now you have me rolling around laughing. You say aerosols eclipsed CO2 effect between the 40’s and 70’s resulting in cooling but now we reduced aerosols and CO2 is back in the saddle???. Come-on have you looked at world population growth. Have you visited a 3rd world country lately. Sorry to break the news but burning of carbon based materials and aerosol production makes the 40’s-70’s look like child play. Show me a study where the NET amount of aerosols has reduced. I go to Beijing and south China every year and the air gets thicker every year. Please let’s get the feet back on the ground.

    [Response: Errr… try this: and regionally, US and European emissions have been falling since the Clean Air Acts. Asian sources are increasing though. You are missing the point though. CO2 accumulates, aerosols don’t – even if emissions had the same rate of growth, CO2 would win in the end – it’s just more persistent. – gavin]

  34. 484
  35. 485
    Tavita says:

    “Show me a study where the NET amount of aerosols has reduced.”

    Here’s the relevant graph,

    Here’s the study,

    Meanwhile C02 levels continue to go up,


  36. 486
    John Mashey says:

    Re: 483
    Good comments by Gavin, but I suspect Steven is not a Science subscriber, so here are a couple more accessible references:

    A nice overall chart:

    A study of SO2 from Himalayan ice-core (i.e., by comparison with Greenland):

    “In Asia, although the fossil- energy-related SO2 release is nearly an order of magnitude smaller than that of North America and Europe, Asia is rapidly catching up.”

    As awful as the pollution is certainly getting in some places in China, China is a big country, and there is a great deal of it that is not doing heavy industry. We did the ride up the Yangtze from Wuhan to Chongqing a few years ago, and only a few areas had industrial pollution.

    The issue to is to avoid replacing measurements by personal anecdote:
    If you had visited downtown Pittsburgh, PA in the 1950s, you would think Beijing only modestly polluted. Businessmen used to bring in an extra white shirt to change into mid-day. On the other hand, 20 miles north, where I lived, it was *not* “dark at noon.”

    The bottom line is that, as fast as China is coming, it still hasn’t gotten close to the huge surge of heavy industry that happened during & post WW II in N. America, Europe, Russia.

    I don’t have the reference handy, but I did see a paper that modeled what would happen if we removed Clean Air Acts and encouraged SO2 to go back up: it cools climate in Eastern USA, Eastern Europe, and Eastern China, but only at the cost of really ferocious acid rain, and the cooling only works for 10-20 years, before it gets overpowered again.

    Finally, note that black carbon soot is like CO2 in heating the atmosphere, i.e., it has opposite forcing from the sulfates, so third world population increase often increases the former.

  37. 487
    Steven Soleri says:

    Looked at the quoted study for aerosol reduction….very short on data reference and top heavy on modeling. Let’s see; 1) World population has trebled since 1930 2) Industrial output has more than quadrupled 3) Coal burning plant construction is 5-10 X the magnitude of the 1940’s…and will continue to escalate particulary in the 3rd world 4) Auto emmisions have doubled 5) Automobile tire usage (carbon black) is something like 20 X the mag. of the 1930’s…….and aerosols have decreased? This is all easily researched and I am not even going to refer to J. Mashey’s vague reference to opposite forcing from sulfates or something equivalent to “even when it’s cooling it’s warming”.

    It is time to face the sobering fact; we are not going to fine tune the world climate with ad-hoc CO2 reduction when: 1)the science is immature and under much debate, 2) the 3rd world has no interest in western world enviro-cause’s 3) the known economic down side speak much louder than the theory 4)there has not been one Kyoto signatory that has met targets and neither will California.

  38. 488

    [[It is time to face the sobering fact; we are not going to fine tune the world climate with ad-hoc CO2 reduction when: 1)the science is immature and under much debate, 2) the 3rd world has no interest in western world enviro-cause’s 3) the known economic down side speak much louder than the theory 4)there has not been one Kyoto signatory that has met targets and neither will California. ]]

    Your sobering “facts” aren’t exactly facts.

    1. The science (climatology) has been maturing since it began over 200 years ago and there is no longer a debate among competent people that global warming is real, that humanity is causing it, and that it’s a major problem.

    2. The Third World will be the greatest sufferer from global warming, especially the 100 million or so who will be without water due to reduced glacial runoff. They won’t have to worry about western causes, they will have their own environmental cause to deal with.

    3. This comment isn’t even coherent. The economic downside speaks louder than the theory? What does that even mean? If you’re saying economic damage from controlling global warming is a sure thing and warming mitigation isn’t, you’re wrong. Controlling global warming can be good for the economy, like cleaning up air pollution in the 1970s was.

    4. Who cares about Kyoto? I certainly don’t. I prefer a more comprehensive treaty with more teeth in it. Kyoto barely did anything at all.

  39. 489
    John Mashey says:

    re: #487
    1) The Ohio state study I cited is strictly an observational analysis, with no modeling I could see. Perhaps Mr. Soleri read something else,. or that paper didn’t make sense to him. As usual, my favorite accessible source, especially for somebody non-technical, would be Ruddiman’s book, in this case p155-158, which has a lucid short discussion.

    2) Some aerosols have negative forcing, some have positive forcing, and different activities generate different mixtures. Is a reference to sulfate aerosols having cooling effects vague? In RC?

    3) I didn’t say anything about Kyoto either.

  40. 490
    Peter Brunson says:

    When I read climate science has been maturing for 200 years, I am reminded that the temperature measurements began at the end of the Little Ice Age and thankfully warmed up.