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Unforced Variations: March 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 March 2012

This month’s open thread – for appetizers we have: William Nordhaus’s extremely impressive debunking in the NY Review of Books of the WSJ 16 letter and public polling on the issue of climate change. Over to you…

617 Responses to “Unforced Variations: March 2012”

  1. 1
    Rob Dekker says:

    From the frontline :
    I’m having an interesting conversation at Klimazwiebel, where one particularly hyperbolic statement by the Heartland from their Fundraising document (the K-12 curriculum) is still ‘defended’ denial-style by many posters by placing strawmen and throwing red herrings.

    I got to the point where Hans von Storch himself attempts to diffuse the issue :

    I would not mind if some of you guys here at RC would join in this conversation, since some reason and rational thought would help.

  2. 2
    Alastair McDonald says:

    The public poll shows that Republicans are more sceptic than Democrats. Other polls have shown that meteorologists are more sceptical than other scientists. Does this mean that most meteorologists are Republicans, or do they know something that Climatologists don’t?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  3. 3
    Icarus62 says:

    My understanding is that GCMs are run several times with known forcings (as far as we can determine them) but random natural variability (e.g. ENSO), so the end result is an ‘ensemble’ of model runs characterised by mean, standard deviation etc. rather than following precisely the year-to-year variations of global temperature. Is it not possible to reproduce the observed natural variability in the model as well, to see how accurately that matches the actual variability of global temperature, ocean heat content etc? Would that not be a useful and more immediate test of how well a model is reproducing reality?

    [Response: Obviously people have thought of this and there are a number of ideas that are being tested – but none of them really give what it wanted (i.e. predictions that will reproduce the interannual ups-and-downs that you could compare directly to the obs). For instance, a lot of work is being done on initialised predictions where you take the ocean state for the last few years, attempt to synchronise the various ‘oscillations’ and then run it forward. This shows some skill for a few years in something like the AMO, but can’t give realistic ENSO forecasts longer than the specialised ENSO forecasting systems (i.e. 6 months or so). So the interannual short-term variability doesn’t seem to be predictable. There are also big issues with drift in these runs, which makes even the multi-year trends someowhat difficult to interpret. Another idea is run multiple ensembles for short periods, pick the one that is closest to reality and continue the next set of ensembles from that one and so on. But this only produces a plausible hindcast that is attuned to the actual interannual variations, not a prediction. The fundamental issue is that it is likely to be very hard (if not impossible) to predict ENSO phase 5 or 10 years ahead of time and that puts a real limit on how good any short term predictions can be.- gavin]

  4. 4
    vukcevic says:

    New Paper by Nichols et al
    Hydroclimate of the northeastern United States is highly sensitive to solar forcing
    it is stated :
    We propose that the Arctic/North Atlantic Oscillation (AO/NAO) can amplify small solar fluctuations , producing the reconstructed hydrological variations. The Sun may be entering a weak phase, analogous to the Maunder minimum, which could lead to more frequent flooding in the northeastern US at this multidecadal timescale.

    No clear mechanism of amplification is proposed, but whatever it is, it is unlikely to be based on the TSI since the Arctic is in darkness for 3 months of the year, and most of the temperature rise happens in the winter:
    Based on the CET (to which GISS is well correlated) it is not so much of a ‘global warming’ as ‘reduction in the global cooling’.
    I’ve looked into the available data relating to the Arctic and the North Atlantic, the suggested amplification appears to be non-existent , but what does exist it is a clear physical process linking the solar activity with the two major indices the AMO and the NAO.
    Mechanism with full data (plotted in red) available here:
    with the last graph in the above link showing synchronisation of the events if a suitable delay is introduced.

  5. 5

    I’m struck by the numbers of folks who cite personal experience as the main reason for their evaluation of the reality (or otherwise) of warming. I put considerable value on my personal experience, too, but surely it’s not that hard to grasp that it’s a big planet, with lots of different weather going on at all times, and lots of ‘randomness?’

    Yet this does mean that skepticism will fail in the face of climate change–albeit slowly. Too slowly?

    On the other hand, I notice that opposite ‘recollections’ are part of the picture; one observer says that winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, while another says the opposite. Are they both right, in the sense that they are accurately reflecting their different local experiences? Or does memory deceive? In the latter case, skepticism will fail more slowly, as there will be a ‘memory gap.’

    Lastly, I note with interest that of all the ‘weather events’ (using the term loosely) to affect the perception of warming, loss of ice appears to be the most effective. It appears that my intuition (and that of other commenters here)–that the crash of the Arctic sea ice is helping people to understand the reality of what is happening to planetary climate, and will likely do so yet more dramatically over the next decade–may well be valid.

  6. 6
    Steve Jones says:

    I found William Nordhaus’s article a little frustrating only because he comes so close to scratching an itch of climate skeptics but doesn’t quite manage it.

    The “global warming stopped in 2005” argument comes in two forms.

    It can firstly be debunked by showing the temperature trend up to the present day and show increase, by admitting that indeed they haven’t increased at the rate they did in the 1990’s, explain that there is a lot of noise in the results and finally that some quite well understood non-human caused forcings such as el-nino can cause temporary amplifications or suppressions of the global temperature. It is best to step back and look at a longer term trend than concentrate on a single decade.

    The second argument is that it is claimed that computer models are now powerful and accurate enough to replicate temperature given the inputs of greenhouse gas forcing and natural forcing (this is what Nordhaus shows in footnote 4) a graph with both is much more accurate than with just natural forcing.

    I think the graph I would like to see is if we told the model that produced that graph the forcings from 2005 – 2012 and let it calculate the temperatures and then compare those temperatures with the actual ones measured.

  7. 7
    Mike Roddy says:

    Nordhaus’ piece was cogent, and necessary for the record, but of course we should not be having this “debate” with the likes of Koch and Boyce at all.

    The time has come for scientists and those who understand their work to act forcefully in the public sphere to see that the evidence of near future climate convulsions is quite clear. If this effort continues to fail, the moneyed interests that are obstructing it need to be called to account.

    Tools should include humor and humiliation. Calm presentation of the data has failed. Those who continue to take positions that are likely to lead to the inability of the biosphere to support sentient life must be publicly called to account.

    Many of them, such as David Koch and Rex Tillerman (the ones behind the scenes of the WSJ piece) are quite aware of the hard evidence of climate science. Their actions to hide the incline constitute criminal negligence and public endangerment. Public communications need to recognize this fact. Since the media won’t do it, other means of communication must be developed.

  8. 8
    John West says:

    From the survey linked above:

    “Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?” Yes: 62% No: 26% Not Sure: 12%

    I’m more than a little disappointed that near 100% didn’t agree that it’s warmer now than it was in 1972; obviously [climate] history is not interesting to a lot of people. There’s tons of solid evidence that’s it’s warmer now than it was in the ‘70’s and that the 1970’s were warmer than the 1870’s; how anyone wouldn’t know this is beyond me, it’s like not knowing water’s wet.

    Of the 62% of people that aren’t completely isolated from reality: 28% believe scientists are overstating the evidence about “Global Warming” and 34% believe the media is overstating the evidence about “Global Warming”.

    So, before we even start getting into whether it’s man-made or dangerous we’re already at less than half the population that believe its happening and not exaggerated, according to this survey.

    These results, however, do not jive with my personal experience. I find that most (~90%) people I know are aware that the world has warmed this century. Schisms start over whether the anthropogenic component is negligible, significant, or dominant and whether the long term effects are beneficial, benign, inconvenient, hazardous, or cataclysmic.

  9. 9
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Noted climate change denier Andrew Breitbart died last night of natural causes.

  10. 10
    S. Elieff says:

    The Nature Climate change paper by Swart and Weaver about the impact of the oil/tar sands on climate made quite a splash in Canada.

    It generated a number of headlines, many along the lines of “Oil sands not so bad after all”. It seemed at first to disagree with an earlier Real Climate post on the subject

    but I get the impression on reading it again there is not that much disagreement. Perhaps it would be worth expanding on this. Much of the coverage and political reaction seemed to spin the Swart and Weaver work into some sort of vindication of oil sands development when they are clearly on record opposing expanded development.

    The timing certainly was interesting. A week before, Weaver was criticizing the Canadian government for muzzling government scientists. That was largely ignored. But not the Nature paper. This was followed by having the European Union’s vote on the fuel directive classifying the oil sands as “dirty” end in a stalemate, all mixed in with the ongoing discussions about the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines.

  11. 11
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Alastair McDonald @ 1: You need a reference for your statement about meteorologists. I’m sure you were not thinking of the American meteorological Society.

    As to your point about Republicans, perhaps there is too much of this going on.

  12. 12
    J Bowers says:

    Some potentially good news from Blighty.

    Government ignores or sidelines its scientific advisers, says Lords report

    The committee examining the role and function of chief scientific advisers (CSAs) found that expert advice was sometimes blocked, dismissed or not sought early enough to influence the decisions they made.
    A report by the committee, chaired by Lord Krebs, says CSAs must sit on the boards of their departments, be consulted “early and throughout” policymaking, have a right of access to ministers, and crucially be required to sign-off on fresh policies.
    …Lord Krebs told the Guardian. “Policy in many areas, and probably most, is better policy if it’s fully informed by scientific advice.”

  13. 13
    Wyoming says:

    A question that I have been wanting to ask. I am sure the answer is out there, but I have not come across it and would appreciate someone filling me in.

    I have a habit of checking the Mauna Loa and Barrow CO2 readings. I notice that Barrow is always a few ppm higher than Mauna Loa. Is this because the samples are taken at different elevations? Mauna Loa at approx 12,000 ft and Barrow at about sea level?

    [Response: No. It’s related to the latitudinal gradient – most of the emissions are in the north. – gavin]

    As long as I am here I may as well comment I guess. Alistair I suspect that part of the answer is that weathermen, as a general rule, have a pretty limited background in science (at least as evidenced by what comes out of the mouths of those on CNN and the various news stations around DC) and expecting them to be able to explain what is causing climate change would be sort of like expecting an EMT to explain brain surgery.

    Kevin. I know a number of farmers who have no science education at all. Most of them readily admit or state that the climate has changed a lot from when they were younger, but most of them also parrot the meme that Climate Change is some sort of hoax. I am not certain where that leads, but my hope is that once a perception changing event occurs (like an end of melt season ice free Arctic) we will finally see meaningful movement towards curbing CO2 emissions. If an ice free Arctic is not enough to prompt change then we probably have to wait some time before something more alarming happens that turns the tide.

  14. 14
    Chris Crawford says:

    Alastair Macdonald writes:

    Other polls have shown that meteorologists are more sceptical than other scientists. Does this mean that most meteorologists are Republicans, or do they know something that Climatologists don’t?

    What it means is that most meteorologists don’t understand the difference between weather and climate.

  15. 15
    oarobin says:

    There was a “workshop on Mathematics in the Geosciences” held at Northwestern University on october 3 – 6.
    i was hoping for some informed commentary on the presentations made by michael ghil and blake Mcshane (is any of this new?)

    conference site is here

    Mcshane pdf presentation here (no video available)

    Ghil pdf presentation here
    video link here

  16. 16
    Ron Manley says:

    The Brookings Institution survey that you link to makes sobering reading for scientists. When those who “believe global warming is occurring” were given a list of ten reasons for their belief, “Computer models that indicate the earth is getting warmer” and “Reports from the IPCC” were 9th and 10th respectively. Combining the answers from other questions, 47% of all respondents believe “that scientists are overstating evidence about global warming for their own interests”.

    By coincidence I today came across a newspaper article which discussed the Dunning-Kruger effect on politics. Wikipedia summarises the effect as “a cognitive bias in which the unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average”. A corollary of this is that ‘unskilled’ are unable to distinguish between the competing claims of those who are ‘more skilled’. As David Dunning put it ‘Very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is’. Could this explain some of the survey’s findings?

    As a foot note, the Wikipedia article I cited has an interesting quote from Bertrand Russel used by Dunning and Kruger: “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision”

  17. 17
    Martin says:

    Can somebody with a background in statistics and climate modelling how warm it will have to be until a republican presidential candidate is chosen who says he believes global warming is happening?

  18. 18
    Vince Belovich says:

    General question: being familiar with computational fluid dynamics in the combustion world, I would like to know a few general details of the climate models. We model systems on the scale of centimeters using control volumes on the order of fractions of millimeters and time steps on the order of fractions of a second. Are there “typical” control volume sizes and/or time step scales used in the climate models? It seems to me that climate models are very accurate even though they probably have very large control volumes and time scales. Just curious.

  19. 19
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Today is march 1st, not April 1st. So what’s Romm up to?

    American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity Seeks New President … On Craigslist
    Clean coal

    By Stephen Lacey on Mar 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Pollutocrat Deniers Charles And David Koch File Suit To Take Over The Cato Institute

    Cato & Koch together.


  20. 20
    steven mosher says:

    “Tools should include humor and humiliation”

    But you’re not funny. Being pathetic, doesn’t count. Plus some people tried humor with an attachment in the climategate emails.
    That got them in a little trouble. Humor is a tool of “outsider.” If you are in power the only humor that works is self deprecation.
    Ask Reagan. Now, on occasion you can say funny things, but you cannot use humor as a primary tool. I’m not saying that you are incapable
    of being funny. You do many things people laugh at. But, you can’t use it as a communication tool to effectively attack skeptics.
    Trying Co-opting a few key ones.

  21. 21
    thingsbreak says:

    A few questions:

    1. Have any of you seen the Kidder and Worsley GSA Today paper [doi:10.1130/G131A.1]? If so, thoughts?

    2. I saw in Mike’s book that he mentioned his belief that anthropogenic warming might push ENSO towards a more persistently negative phase, which I assume he inferred from and/or informed his take on the MCA, which shows something like this. I haven’t seen much mention of the Power and Kociuba Climate Dynamics paper [doi:10.1007/s00382-010-0951-7] which shows a strengthening SOI in response to anthropogenic warming. Has anything much changed on this front?

    3. I know the AR5 has moved away from economic storylines to radiative forcing scenarios, but I’ve read a decent amount of criticism that the SRES storylines were almost all far too optimistic/demand-side focused on plausibly recoverable fossil carbon. A number of recentish papers have put the maximum conventional fossil fuel limit topping us out at ~560ppm. However, these almost all seem to ignore unconventionals, carbon cycle feedbacks, or both. Is there a generally-respected, plausible upper limit on how much CO2 we could emit absent some sort of unforseen technological or economic turn of events? Not the “burn everything” 5000Gt upper limit, but taking supply-side limits into account.


  22. 22
    David Miller says:

    I tried to ask back on the trees that didn’t bark thread but must have done it too late.

    It makes a lot of sense to me that if trees sometimes don’t produce an annual ring because of temperature that sudden drops wouldn’t be recorded.

    But what I’d love to know is how we can tell that no ring was generated some particular year?

  23. 23
    Titus says:

    Kevin McKinney @5. You say:

    “that the crash of the Arctic sea ice is helping people to understand the reality of what is happening to planetary climate”

    Many folks know from history that Arctic Ice was as low if not lower than it is today in the early part of the 19th century. Russia built ports on the northern coast of Siberia and established shipping up until the early 1950’s when the freeze returned and the routes and ports were closed.

    How do I know?

    I was around at the time. I also have encyclopedias. My ‘Book of Knowledge” (Waverley press 1952) gives me the whole story of the Russian development starting arounsd 1910. I was very much alive when the big freeze came in in the early 1950’s.

    Perhaps it’s because these facts are not widley discuused that folks get a little nervous about trusting the current alarmism when all they have experienced is a cyclic pattern.

    Just an observation from actual experience.

  24. 24
  25. 25

    Commentary on the Canadian government’s ‘war on climate science’:

    Like some in the American Congress, the Harper government doesn’t want to know, and doesn’t want us to know.

  26. 26
    dbostrom says:

    It seems as though the WSJ-16 piece is proving largely counterproductive to its intended utility; acres of debunking have been spawned by single misbegotten op-ed piece.

    Nordhaus’ rejoinder is particularly portable, comprehensive and useful.

  27. 27
    flxible says:

    …. Does this mean that most meteorologists are Republicans, or do they know something that Climatologists don’t?

    You’re maybe talking about the US meteorologists who last fall boldly predicted western/coastal Canada would have the “coldest winter in decades”, likely based on 2 La Nina winters in a row, without attending to temperature trends. Obviously hoping to establish their “expertise”.

  28. 28
    numerobis says:

    #10: the Globe and Mail (a major Canadian paper) has been running a whole series of rah-rah stories about fossil fuels in the past few weeks.

    I didn’t really understand the Nature paper. It ignores the energy used during production — but that’s the major issue with oil sands versus other sources.

  29. 29
    Richard Watts says:

    Is there any validity in the idea of measuring relative carbon emissions for a country on the basis of a per area measurement rather than a per capita measurement? Does it make any difference for instance if say India produces more carbon emissions per KM^2 than the U.S.A.?

    It seems to me that doing carbon emissions on a per capita basis for developing countries ignores the elephant in the room of increasing population size. Surely it would be good to give incentives for countries to control both population and carbon emissions as you can have decreasing carbon emissions per capita for instance completely wiped out or worse by increasing population.

    Perhaps future agreements on carbon reduction could take into account both area and population density in order to find the right balance which enables the greatest reduction in carbon emissions?

  30. 30
    Isotopious says:

    Here is just one sceptical response to Nordhaus:
    1) “The finding that global temperatures are rising over the last century-plus is one of the most robust findings of climate science and statistics.”
    -What makes this period of time statistically significant in terms of climate (which is simply average of weather over time)? Restricted to the last 1000 years of climate, the period would be significant, but even then the problem of significance is not resolved… remains undefined. Certainly in the context of interglacial cycles, a hockey stick graph is not an outlier. Result: NS
    2) “In reviewing the results, the IPCC report concluded: “No climate model using natural forcings [i.e., natural warming factors] alone has reproduced the observed global warming trend in the second half of the twentieth century.””
    – Interglacial cycles are the largest and most significant climate changes because they are defined. No climate model can predict the next cycle. The most ‘meaningful’ climate defined periods are unresolved. Since it is unclear how ‘natural forcing’ produces these interglacial cycles, one really must wonder why one would care that one cannot reproduce an undefined insignificant period of the record with ‘natural forcing factors’.
    3) “In short, the contention that CO2 is not a pollutant is a rhetorical device and is not supported by US law or by economic theory or studies.”
    -Anything that doesn’t ‘belong’ is a pollutant. Warm water discharge from a factory into a cold stream is pollution. Again, it’s about impact.
    4) “The idea that climate science and economics are being suppressed by a modern Lysenkoism is pure fiction.”
    -There is no suppression. Suppression is not the problem. It is simply the ‘interest’ and ‘enthusiasm’ towards any research which questions AGW. Period.
    5) “Academic advancement occurs primarily from publication of original research and contributions to the advancement of knowledge, not from supporting “popular” views.”
    Yes, but are you going to challenge the theory? You would be unwise to leave that task to skeptic think tanks. Can the diverse range of Real Climate contributors list any recent publications which question ANY aspect of AGW? If science is just a bit of speculation / imagination / do what ever you want / academic freedom / blah blah, then where are the papers which question this AGW? Why is there such an intense bias towards ‘warming papers’? Why leave it to a hand full of hacks to research negative feedbacks? And then you come down them like a ton of bricks, where are the papers where you guys made a big mistake in theory? If they don’t exist then I can only come to the likely conclusion that you are completely wrong.
    6) “The claim that cap-and-trade legislation or carbon taxes would be ruinous or disastrous to our societies does not stand up to serious economic analysis.”
    After the GFC, I doubt anyone cares what economists think.

  31. 31
    Alastair McDonald says:

    I think this article appeared first today <A HREF=""Why Do Meteorologists Dismiss Climate Change Science? but Googling for “meteorologist climate change” pretty well brings up only hits for denial.

    But these Google hits seem mainly to be referring to weather presenters rather than graduate meteorologists. But I am sure there was a survey of scientists which showed meteorolists and geologists as more sceptical than others.

  32. 32
    Thomas says:

    Any comment on this paper by Roger Davies
    Which claims that cloud heights (from satellite observation) have gotten lower, and this has enhanced the ability of the planet to cool itself.

  33. 33
    Titus says:

    Kevin McKinney @5. You say:

    “that the crash of the Arctic sea ice is helping people to understand the reality of what is happening to planetary climate”

    I’m assuming that you mean by this that this is all quite a natural cycle.

    I am old enough to know that the Russians developed a shipping trade across northern Siberia in the early 19th century. They developed thriving ports and it was open for many months of the year. The ice extent was even less than we have today. However, by the early 1950’s the ice returned and this all closed down.

    I can reference my encyclopedia “The Book of Knowledge” published by Waverley 1952 to know that I’m remember it right.

    This appears to be more cyclic and I do not see this history taken into account in press releases and media news.

    This is based on observational and hard copy documents of actual events. Hence to you’re opening sentence:

    “I’m struck by the numbers of folks who cite personal experience as the main reason for their evaluation of the reality (or otherwise) of warming”

    Looks like I’m striking you:)

  34. 34
    KB says:

    News from Canada: Climate Change Denial in Carleton University Course Exposed by National Science Team (, with coverage elsewhere in the Guardian and the Ottawa Citizen.

    Heartland expert Tom Harris had his course on climate change thoroughly audited by the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism. In just 12 lectures, there were 142 errors or misrepresentations of climate science.

    The course has been going on for several years, but according to the university, not anymore. One hopes it won’t be coming back.

  35. 35
    Hank Roberts says:

    For David Miller; I’m no expert, but you asked about how to tell if a tree ring on a particular tree is missing. Turns out there can be extras, too, just skimming the results of a search is a quick way to see what answers are available. It’s a sub-level of “how do we tell any particular date on a bunch of different tree rings” — patterns.

    (I’m trying anything but Google for a while)

  36. 36
    Chris Colose says:

    On the Davies paper, there’s little doubt that if high cloud cover decreases in height, that can serve as a negative feedback mechanism.

    But in general, it’s worth keeping in mind that cloud feedbacks inferred from regressions of cloud properties on surface temperature changes that are driven by short-term variability (e.g. ENSO) is not necessarily a useful analog to global warming. Even more, the Davies paper only looks at 10 years of data (with sampling times at just one time in the local morning) and doesn’t capture some clouds such as thin cirrus that may also be important.

    Note also that the global warming trend has not been terribly strong over the last decade, so inferring a negative feedback to surface temperature change is a bit odd to me, particularly when the feedback would have to be very sensitive.

  37. 37
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Curry gave a talk…

    Headvise necessary, and Gavin I think that you should engage on this one…

  38. 38

    #32 Thomas

    I can here it now over at wuwt… another groundbreaking study (of a short-term change) that will overturn the body of climate science with results that “have potential implications for future global climate”… How novel.

    Context is key.

  39. 39

    Titus posted twice (more recently at #33), alleging that pre-1950s sea ice levels were even lower than today, based on a 1952 encyclopedia article.

    Yes, really.

    Titus, no offence to your old encyclopedia, but there is more solid information available than that:

    Note that this draws upon published professional literature; it’s the best information we have. And you are not even close to correct. Today’s levels are far below anything seen during the warming of the 1930s.

  40. 40
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Titus said:”I am old enough to know that the Russians developed a shipping trade across northern Siberia in the early 19th century. They developed thriving ports and it was open for many months of the year. The ice extent was even less than we have today. However, by the early 1950′s the ice returned and this all closed down.

    I can reference my encyclopedia “The Book of Knowledge” published by Waverley 1952 to know that I’m remember it right.”

    The IPCC said:”Ice extent data from Russian sources have recently been published (Polyakov et al., 2003), and cover essentially the entire 20th century for the Russian coastal seas (Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi). These data, which exhibit large inter-decadal variability, show a declining trend since the 1960s until a reversal in the late 1990s. The Russian data indicate anomalously little ice during the 1940s and 1950s, whereas the Nordic Sea data indicate anomalously large extent at this time, showing the importance of regional variability. ”

    Consistent with what you said, but showing why your argument is invalid. Total sea ice has plummeted in the past few years, as Kevin said.

  41. 41
    barry says:

    Tituse @ 23,

    your evidence for Arctic ice concentration similar in extent or lower than current is 1) your personal experience 2) a 1952 ecyclopedia entry describing changing sea ice cover for one region of the Arctic.

    Do you understand why these lines of evidence might not be immediatley persuasive?

    If you do not have a problem with more modern and comprehensive examinations of the historic ice cover, then I hope the following is useful to you.

    Seasonal concentration from 1900 time series.

    You can look up the data set for the above (and get some analysis) from here.

    A very comprehensive data set from various sources in the following paper.

    If you have posted as Brutus in the past, then you might already be familiar with that paper.

    (I played Saturninus in Titus Andronicus recently. We dealt with the violence, and consequently the play, in a Tarantino-esque fashion. I’d never seen the play ‘work’ before this version)

  42. 42
    rogert says:

    Titus you say
    “I am old enough to know that the Russians developed a shipping trade across northern Siberia in the early 19th century. They developed thriving ports and it was open for many months of the year. The ice extent was even less than we have today. However, by the early 1950′s the ice returned and this all closed down.”
    “This appears to be more cyclic and I do not see this history taken into account in press releases and media news.”

    Well I can not see anything cyclic on this graph or a time the ice was as low or lower than now. So maybe that is why you do not see it in press releases.


    Sorry but I will need more than a book from 1952 and “I am old enough to know” to convince me of your statements.

  43. 43
    Chris Crawford says:

    Mr. Isotopius bestows upon us a set of rebuttals to Mr. Nordhaus’ excellent piece. His statements:

    1. He questions the time scale over which climate is defined, arguing that there is no defined time scale. While he is correct that no scientific body has declared any particular duration of time long enough to define a change in climate, some simple physical calculations demonstrate that the lower limit is around several decades. Mr. Isotopius seems to be suggesting that the 100+ years of good temperature data that we have is insufficient to define a change in climate. In this he is incorrect. He concludes with the declaration “NS”, which I believe is an acronym for “Nutritional Sulfurization”, but which I do not understand the significance of in this context.

    2. Next, Mr. Isotopious responds to a statement about natural forcings by bringing up interglacial cycles. If he can use interglacial cycles to address the role of natural forcings in explaining the recent increases in temperature, then I propose to use black holes to refute his point about interglacial cycles. After all, fair is fair.

    3. Next Mr. Isotopious quibbles over the significance of the term ‘pollutant’, failing to notice that Mr. Nordhaus was addressing the claim that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Apparently, Mr. Isotopious agrees that the 16 authors of the Wall Street Journal piece were incorrect in declaring that CO2 is not a pollutant. Thank you, Mr. Isotopious — but I think that Mr. Nordhaus’ explanation was more illuminating.

    4. Here Mr. Isotopious insinuates that there is an evil pattern of ‘interest’ and ‘enthusiasm’ towards research that questions ACC. I would suggest that he explore the possibilities of chakras from evil scientists beaming negative energy towards honest scientists who would like to disprove ACC. It might also be profitable to explore the influences of the IPCC on the astral plane. Period.

    5. Mr. Isotopious demands to know why there haven’t been any papers published that oppose ACC. It seems that Mr. Isotopious has not considered the possibilities that either a) few such papers have been submitted for publication; or b) no such papers have survived the peer review process. There is of course the alternate theory that a secret cabal of evil scientists out to dominate the universe have launched a series of orbiting mind control lasers with which they can control the minds of countless editors and reviewers to insure that no such papers are ever published. My question is, if they really did have such a network of orbiting mind control lasers, why wouldn’t they use them to get people to send them large gifts of cash, or perhaps to bring about world peace? It really seems odd that such a powerful conspiracy would use its vast powers for so trivial an objective.

    6. Mr. Isotopius dismisses the opinions of economists as worthless. Presumably he would rather have the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank replaced by the leader of his local Lions Club, or the Secretary of the Treasury replaced by his Aunt Myrna, who has always had a good head on her shoulders. We don’t need no stinkin’ experts.

  44. 44
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Titus … encyclopedia
    I recall this being brought up a while back. Sources more recent than the 1950s differ. The USSR was working on its image a bit, you know.

    “Increased navigation during Soviet times
    During Soviet times the Laptev Sea coastal areas experienced a limited boom owing to the first icebreaker convoys plying the Northern Sea Route and the creation of the Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route. Tiksi had an active airport and Nordvik harbor further west was “a growing town,” though it closed in 1956…..”

  45. 45
    Titus says:

    Kevin McKinney @39. Thanks for the link.

    Just eyeballing the graph and it looks Arctic sea ice has been on the decline for over a 100 years with a recovery mid way through.

    Seems in broad agreement with my personal recollections and old encyclopedia.

    It would be good to sight some of these actually observed findings more broadly so folks like me can engage and not feel we are losing it like you seem to infer.

  46. 46
    frflyer says:

    Alastair @ 31

    Meteorologists may be more skeptical than climate scientists, but it doesn’t mean the majority of meteorologists are skeptics.

    American Meteorological Society (AMS) is on the list I have, of professional science societies that agree with the IPCC

    Also on the list

    Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

    Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

    Royal Meteorological Society (UK)

  47. 47
    Titus says:

    t_p_hamilton @40. You say

    “Consistent with what you said”

    Thank you for your gracious response. I appreciate it. I just wanted to input personal experience for all you’re deliberations.

  48. 48
    Candide says:

    I’d like to present you all with the latest nefarious plot by evil scientists. As you might have learned if you went to an evil public school (as opposed to enlightened home schooling), so-called scientists have long claimed that the earth is composed of a relatively thin crust floating on what is more-or-less bubbling hot lava with a molten iron core at its center. But that is ALL WRONG.

    As it turns out, the earth is hollow. One reason we know this is that there is a large, hard to hide opening at the North Pole. However, thanks to the science-conspiracy, the global climate sensing satellite known as AMSR did not fail last October due to its age (9 years, it was only designed for 6 years operation). Rather, it was intentionally shut down to “hide the truth.” You see, that big white sheet of plastic over the North Pole that hid the entrance to the Hollow Earth got blown away by the wind. So “they” had to shut down the satellite, or else we would have seen the entrance on the satellite photos.

    Anyway, without further ado, I present you with The Truth. The Hollow Earth:

    The Hollow Earth

    Please watch the entire video. Watch it and weep.

  49. 49
    dbostrom says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    1 Mar 2012 at 10:32 PM
    Curry gave a talk…

    Headvise necessary, and Gavin I think that you should engage on this one…

    The community of climate modelers is relatively small. I wonder how many were actually interviewed in the process of creating a startling list of boldly definite prognostications on the current state, future evolution and applicability of GCMs:

    • Predictions can’t be rigorously evaluated for order of a century
    • Insufficient exploration of model & simulation uncertainty
    • Impenetrability of the model and formula on process; extremely
    large number of modeler degrees of freedom!
    • Lack of formal model verification & validation, which is the norm
    for engineering and regulatory science
    • Circularity in arguments validating climate models against
    observations, owing to tuning & prescribed boundary conditions
    • Concerns about fundamental lack of predictability in a complex
    nonlinear system characterized by spatio-temporal chaos with
    changing boundary conditions
    • Concerns about the epistemology of models of open, complex


    That is to say, they -look- bold and definite at first glance, but if history is any guide each challenge will gradually melt away into “Wait a minute, what did you say? I thought we were talking about…”

    One interlocutor and a recording secretary assigned to each claim might work.

    Trying to find nature of PPT requirement, found this: The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness – An Interview with Judith Curry

    which contains:

    “The climate is always changing… There is certainly some contribution from the greenhouse gases, but whether it is currently a dominant factor or will be a dominant factor in the next century, is a topic under active debate…I absolutely think that more effort is needed in determining the effect of the sun on our climate…Because of the IPCC and its consensus seeking process, the rewards for scientists have been mostly in embellishing the consensus…an increasing number of scientists are becoming emboldened to challenge some of the basic conclusions of the IPCC… we have only been considering one policy option (CO2 stabilization), which in my opinion is not a robust policy option given the uncertainties in how much climate is changing in response to CO2…I agree that there is lack of accountability in the whole climate enterprise…”

    Which sounds like an arriving stampede of very naive philistines but was instead all said by Dr. Curry. Mystifying, really.

  50. 50
    dbostrom says:

    In the spirit of inquiry I read the following to an experimental human subject (sorry, no IRB, none at hand, handcuff me):

    “The climate is always changing. There is certainly some contribution from the greenhouse gases, but whether it is currently a dominant factor or will be a dominant factor in the next century, is a topic under active debate. Because of the IPCC and its consensus seeking process, the rewards for scientists have been mostly in embellishing the consensus. An increasing number of scientists are becoming emboldened to challenge some of the basic conclusions of the IPCC. We have only been considering one policy option (CO2 stabilization), which in my opinion is not a robust policy option given the uncertainties in how much climate is changing in response to CO2. I agree that there is lack of accountability in the whole climate enterprise…”

    The experimental subject was then asked a single question: “Who said it?”

    Subject response: “Romney? Santorum?”