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Unforced Variations: Nov 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 November 2012

I can’t think what people might want to talk about this month…

476 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2012”

  1. 401
    Susan Anderson says:

    goodness gracious! Get a grip, people.

    Don’t be like the people you complain about, the only ones on the block who know anything.

  2. 402
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 387 bobb – if you look up oceanic heat, since that is the bulk of the ‘available’ heat capacity of the climate system – it’s rise generally indicates a radiative disequilibrium (because most energy in and out is radiative) (Others: air, latent heat, land surface, melting ice – significant but the ocean still tends to dominate in heat capacity; geothermal and tidal heating, etc, – interesting to note, but very tiny compared to OLR (outgoind longwave radiation) and solar heating (the 341.3 W/m2 solar radiation (global average) should be multiplied by ~ 0.7 to find global average solar heating, because ~ 30 % is reflected to space).

    You can also infer or calculate forcings from graphs of solar brightness (TSI – for the solar flux per unit area facing the sun in space at Earth’s orbit, divide by 4 to get a global average and then multiply by (1-albedo) to get global average solar heating; the albedo has to be the Bond albedo: ) and of CO2, CH4, etc.

    global heat (cummulative):
    (RealClimate has some oceanic heat uptake posts, too)
    and surface temperature:
    sum of all forcings and surface temperature:
    forcings (recent)
    (note: convection can react to changes in the relationship between surface forcing and radiant heating/cooling of the troposphere; the troposphere and surface are generally convectively coupled and tend to warm up or cool down together (some caveats about lapse rate feedback and regional, diurnal, seasonal and short-term stuff) in response to tropopause-level forcing, which is equal to Top-of-atmsophere (TOA) forcing once stratospheric adjustment has occured (and that occurs in well under a year, as I understand it, because the stratosphere doesn’t have a large heat capacity, whereas the troposphere is convectively ‘tied to’ the ocean, etc.) – tropopause level forcing is often given with stratopsheric adjustment – this is different than instantaneous tropopause level forcing.)
    (PS the sun gradually brightens over geologic time)
    (PS orbital cycles affect climate mainly by redistributing (seasonally and latitudinally) the incident solar radiation; regional responses (such as ice sheet formation and growth, or decay) can then have a global average effect.)

  3. 403
    Patrick 027 says:

    re 384 flxible – “Folks here are fond of pointing out that as wealth increases, folks “choose” to have fewer offspring. China made it a law, but apparently too late.
    an interesting aside about different systems of government and their effects; US goverment reacted to the Dustbowl with some wise policies, right? (and the previously red-state folks were willing to go with it – didn’t see the recent documentary but I have some prior familiarity and saw Ken Burns on the Daily Show (or Colbert Report – sorry I forgot which one he was on)). Sometime after that…

    PS I’m going from memory from a class I took: Mao had a problem with intellectuals (sound familiar?) (an inferiority complex? ); he rejected Thomas Malthus’s ideas in particular, and he clearly had no idea how to run a farm (unfortunately, people faked evidence to make it look like policies were working in order to win favor, or something like that); he didn’t understand ecology much, and there’s the saying, ‘for every mouth there are two hands’ – a view also espoused (at least once since ~2000) by non-communist Jon Stossel, interestingly. At some point Mao realized there was a problem with this, but at first he thought more people would be better.

    And then there’s the Soviet record …

  4. 404
    Patrick 027 says:

    ‘for every mouth there are two hands’ – the exact wording might be slightly different but the point is that (on average) there are approximatlely 2 hands per mouth. As if a mouth only needs one and the other is free to create extra wealth…

  5. 405
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 28 Nov 2012 @ 4:40 PM

    Four points:

    1. Vietnam antiwar activism started small.

    2. I didn’t offer up anything, I just mentioned the few suggestions that actually address the real problem. I should have included McKibben and Gore.

    3. Your estimates of how many would support a large effort to reduce emissions is just unsupported opinion.

    4. You continue to not offer anything that addresses the problem and to put down anybody else’s efforts that actually do.

    It might be that the only solution is many different smaller efforts that undermine the moneyed deniers. I don’t know. I do know that suggesting large projects that can solve the whole thing at once is just unhelpful talk without a very fat cat backer and a charismatic spokesman to move the electorate. Steve

  6. 406
    Susan Anderson says:

    Patrick 027, you are a dose of fresh air. Thanks.

    But without prejudice, RC is not a philosophy or political activist site. We outsiders should tread a bit more lightly.

  7. 407
    David B. Benson says:

    Sea Levels Rising Faster Than IPCC Projections
    Lead author of the study, Stefan Rahmstorf, said: “This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.”

  8. 408
    Susan Anderson says:

    If any of you are on the west coast, please heed a Sandy survivor and take heed of what is coming your way. Run, don’t walk, to shelter when (if it hasn’t already) this begins.

    h/t: Tenney Naumer suggested setting this to slow:

    btw, this is exactly what I mean when I say events are outstripping theory.

    omg, I try to resist captcha, but honestly:
    moreat meant

  9. 409
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    [edit – OT]

  10. 410
    flxible says:

    If any of you are on the west coast, please heed a Sandy survivor and take heed of what is coming your way

    Susan, the core of that storm is aimed directly at my location, I’ve been listening to it pelt my rooftop since late afternoon, along with some gusty winds – as is completely normal here in November. It’s been a bit on the dry side this year, the next 24-36 hours will freshen our glacier and give the ski hill enough snow to have a good opening on the weekend. :)

    and another CAPTCH: account owngive

  11. 411
    Hank Roberts says:

    Susan, you may be thinking of this kind of Pacific storm event
    (and they do occur elsewhere as well)

    That’s much beyond the forecast for this weekend locally

  12. 412
  13. 413
    Superman1 says:

    This morning’s edition of Climate Progress summarizes a study by Stefan Rahmstorf with the headline “Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected”. One of the comments is by Aaron Lewis, and it raises a question that I will address after some excerpts from his excellent comment:

    “Dr. Rahmstorf tends to be a bit behind the trends. When I first asked him about the possibility of moulins on the GIS, he said, ”We don’t see them, go read the literature!” A few years later, he published the first eyewitness account of moulin formation on the GIS. He is a brilliant reporter of what has occurred, but he has consistently under estimated the rate of AGW and its impacts and effects.

    People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong. The published science in AGW underestimates the rate of AGW, and its impacts and effects.

    They do not bother to put ice dynamics in the models, so estimates of sea level rise in models must be low. They do not put carbon feedbacks into the models, so future rates of warming are low.”

    My perception of the journal literature is not quite as negative as his. There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.

    Now, my question related to Lewis’ comments. Why are these known phenomena not incorporated in the climate models, either as approximations or as parameters? Decades ago, I worked in a much higher speed regime of fluid dynamics/gas dynamics. At very high stagnation enthalpies, gases in the slow moving flow region (e.g., behind shocks) tend to exhibit ‘real-gas effects’, which includes dissociation, ionization, radiation, etc. Even though we were not completely sure of what the exact equations should be for these real-gas phenomena, we would not have dreamed of excluding them from the analyses. We wanted some indication of their level of seriousness.
    Also, at that time, we had been using adaptive grids for a while, which allowed much higher resolution in regions of high gradients (which were usually the regions of primary interest), and lower resolution in regions of low gradients. The oceanography and atmosphere communities were using fixed grids at the time in their models, and only started to incorporate adaptive grids much later. Is this inertia what we are seeing today in their reluctance to incorporate these known and critical climate effects in their models?

    [Response: Lewis’ comment is a ridiculous caricature. No-one who works on models imagines them to be complete descriptions of the real world – thus there are always factors or mechanisms that are missing. Assessments of those models need to take into account any evidence for or against those missing factors being important. This can be done using many methods and indeed has been for carbon cycle effects, ice dynamic effects etc. The reason however the large climate models don’t just make something up and ‘put theses effects in’ are because they need to base additional mechanisms on actual physics. Otherwise you are just playing games. GCM developers want to be able to credibly assess the possibilities of accelerated ice flow – but to do so requires two-way coupling with dynamic ice sheet models which even the ice sheet community hasn’t quite got together on. In the meantime, people have postulated all sorts of things, none of which rise to a level above a sensitivity test. Same with the carbon cycle, or methane – without a reasonable physical model, it will not get incorporated. It has absolutely nothing to do reluctance to see the results. Doing things properly takes time and effort. – gavin]

  14. 414
    Dan H. says:

    This years pineapple express is a typical meterological occurrance. While ARs this strong do not occur very often, there is nothing unusual about them, nor is it outstripping any theory. Previously studies have found a positive correlation with the PDO, and the “most vigorous pineapple-express seasons have been during neutral- or near-neitral ENSO years during the positive PDO phases.” For comparison, the Christmas, 1964 occurrance dumped 2-3 ft of rain in the Northern California / Oregon area.

  15. 415
    Susan Anderson says:

    re west coast weather, thanks guys for the update, you’re right, I overreacted/overreached (should let meteorology to the experts, just like other subjects requiring expertise). Also slightly OT, world weather includes UK/European floods and Moscow blizzard, along with a tornado in Italy.

    The atmospheric rivers item was interesting. Water vapor maps show easing rather than intensification this morning.

  16. 416
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gavin’s in-line to Superman1 and the in-line to Tom Scharf over on the Quadratic post serve well to illustrate the difference between physics-driven models (e.g. GCMs) and statistical models. Tom complains about adjustment of parameters to achieve agreement in hindcasting, and Gavin corrects his misimpression. Indeed, in physics-driven models, there are few if any parameters to adjust, as the parameters have been determined with data independent of what one is simulating. The disadvantage of this type of model is illustrated by Aaron’s misdirected complaint–you can’t model it if you don’t have a good physical model for it. On the other hand, the advantage of such physics driven models is that they are not vulnerable to the sort of spurious agreement that statistical models can fall victim to, especially if they are overfit. This is why the ultimate proof of statistical models must be their predictive power rather than merely their goodness of fit, and why simple tends to be better for these models (exponentially so in the number of parameters according to information theory)

    No matter the model, we need to remember the words of Richard Hamming:

    “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”

    (Note: I’ve been saying something similar for years, but just came across the Hamming quote.)

  17. 417
    Superman1 says:

    Gavin #413,

    I understand and appreciate what you are saying. And, if these models and their results were only being published in the literature to provide preliminary insights and stimulate further research, as, for example, models that estimate how the Earth was formed and evolved, I would have no problem. However, these models are being used as the basis for climate projections, international climate amelioration negotiations, and potential climate decision-making. Now, it may very well be that in some cases, the level of inaccuracy/uncertainty makes no practical difference. For example, if we continue business as usual, whether the models predict 4 C without feedbacks or 6 C with feedbacks by mid-century may be irrelevant, since the economic and political upheavals that will probably result from lower amounts of temperature increase will cause socio-political feedbacks that I would suspect would alter our use of fossil fuels substantially.

    However, consider the case of potential near-term drastic action to reduce fossil fuel use. Kevin Anderson’s papers/presentations have stimulated much interest recently, and he presents CO2 emissions targets as a function of time that have to be met in order to ward off highly catastrophic consequences. As he states, the models on which his estimates are made do not include the effects that Aaron Lewis describes, or the more expanded effects that Lewis Cleverdon describes in the excerpt I quoted yesterday. If these effects were included in Anderson’s underlying models, it could very well be the case that the only chance of avoiding major climate catastrophe would be institution of a global Manhatten Project-type effort to switch to sustainable energy production ASAP accompanied by the most stringent restrictions possible on fossil fuel use, if in fact such a chance even existed. That would have very different policy implications from what is being proposed by a number of individuals and organizations today.

    There must be some middle ground between not including these phenomena in the large-scale models, and including phenomena in the models with unwarranted levels of detail. The policy implications of the present approach are very disconcerting, to say the least.

  18. 418
    Hank Roberts says:

    > adaptive grids

    I recall reading about the possibility of having models where some parts of the grid covered large areas presumed similar and others much finer grained areas where more variation was expected. I don’t recall if that was hypothetical.

    Not sure if that’s what he’s talking about, or if the ‘adaptive grid’ refers to something else — maybe computing some factors to three decimal places while others change only as integers (waving arms wildly here …)

    I’d imagine the models he’s talking about were rather smaller than the GCMs and a run would complete faster — GCMs still take weeks or months to do a single run, and you need multiple runs, right?

  19. 419
    Susan Anderson says:

    [kind of hope mods will borehole or delete my most recent offering.]

    Re atmospheric rivers and what’s going on now, this seems to illustrate the current state – most activity seems to be running north and south of US west coast and that triple spiral is mostly gone:

    This is excellent and accessible:
    “The History of Climate Change Negotiations in 83 seconds ”

  20. 420
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aside — I do think it’d be worth discussing how what’s known has changed fast on this. A few years back someone who’d studied glacial ice wrote here that the thinking was that openings in glaciers did not persist through the winter because the ice was plastic enough to close up any empty space once the seasonal meltwater flow stopped.
    (Mauri Pelto? that’s my vague recollection).

    It’s hard to remember that a decade ago everyone was sure the ice caps were stable.

    Seems to me the rate of change in what we actually know is so high that there’s a clear and present need to put far more money into computing hardware — so the modelers can keep up with the increasing rate of change.
    Persistent englacial drainage features in the Greenland Ice Sheet
    G. A. Catania, T. A. Neumann
    ” Surface melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet is common up to ~1400 m elevation and, in extreme melt years, even higher. Water produced on the ice sheet surface collects in lakes and drains over the ice sheet surface via supraglacial streams and through the ice sheet via moulins. Water delivered to the base of the ice sheet can cause uplift and enhanced sliding locally. Here we use ice-penetrating radar data to observe the effects of significant basal melting coincident with moulins and calculate how much basal melt occurred. We find that more melting has occurred than can be explained by the release of potential energy from the drainage of surface meltwater during one melt season suggesting that these moulins are persistent for multiple years. We find only a few persistent moulins in our study area that drain the equivalent of multiple lakes per year and likely remain active over several years. Our observations indicate that once established, these persistent moulins might be capable of establishing well-connected meltwater drainage pathways.”

    What’s known does change.
    When it changes fast, what needs to change so the models can catch up? More computers, faster computers, more instances of existing ones running in parallel?

    The “what if” and “if only” possibilities, multiplied by each other, increase the combinations of what-ifs far too fast to model everything everyone can imagine, even if it seems really likely it’s out there, understood.

  21. 421
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, just for the record, I was bothering Stoat about this stuff in 2007: has accumulated snips and clips I turned up published about faster erosion under that icecap.

    This is how it works, and it takes time.

  22. 422
    Superman1 says:

    Ray #414,

    “No matter the model, we need to remember the words of Richard Hamming:

    “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.””

    See my response to Gavin on this issue. It is all well and good to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s when developing physics-based models for insight and enlightenment. This is very applicable to multi-decadal debates on issues such as cosmology. However, generating models that will be used as a basis of decision-making on the most crucial issues we face, such as climate change amelioration policy, is akin to the old story of not looking too deeply in the manufacture of laws and sausage. In many areas of real-world technology development, not all the research issues have been resolved by the time the technology development is underway. Many times, assumptions about research results are required well before these results have been finalized, and while moving ahead based on these assumptions increases the intrinsic risk of the development, these assumptions allow timely project completion with reasonable chances of success.

    We don’t have the luxury of waiting for precise estimation of the physics drivers for the climate models; we need to start amelioration activities yesterday, and there is a major difference whether the need is the Manhatten Project pace you recommended, or the more leisurely pace recommended by others. We need to take some higher risk steps into the unknown to get a somewhat better estimate of these presently unincorporated climate effects, uncomfortable though that may be.

  23. 423
    Superman1 says:

    Hank #415,

    ” Not sure if that’s what he’s talking about, or if the ‘adaptive grid’ refers to something else — maybe computing some factors to three decimal places while others change only as integers (waving arms wildly here …)

    I’d imagine the models he’s talking about were rather smaller than the GCMs and a run would complete faster — GCMs still take weeks or months to do a single run, and you need multiple runs, right?”

    In doing computations on flowfields, stress fields, or other fields, grids of different types are used. Typically, one wants the grid structure to align well with the boundary geometry. Actual computations are made at the ‘grid points’, where the grid lines intersect. The value at any grid point represents the average of the small region surrounding that grid point. The resolution obtained in the numerical solution relates to the spacing between grid points. The larger the spacing, the larger the region to which the grid point average applies, and the worse the resolution.

    For a given computer memory, there tend to be practical limitations on the total numbers of grid points. Therefore, it behooves one to allocate grid points in such a manner that high resolution is obtained in regions of high gradients (which are usually the main regions of interest), and lower resolution is obtained in more quiescent regions. This is what adaptive grids do; they re-allocate grid points so that adequate resolution is achieved where adequate resolution is desired.

  24. 424
    flxible says:

    Hank – The current left coast weather event isn’t quite the ‘river’ phenomenon, although it’s exhibiting the ‘Pineapple Express’ temperature anomaly here on Vancouver Island, rising overnight and maintaining an unseasonal steady 9c as the storm moves in. It may bear some similarity to Sandy in that the eastward flow of the atmospheric ‘river’ is running into existing Arctic circulations. We expect to be quite wet here in late fall, and as well as the MJO, ENSO-neutral definitely is having an effect, all tied up with the position of the Polar Jet, which I believe is far enough south right now to hurl that mess of porridge right at lower B.C. and Washington. Isn’t climate just wonderfully complicated?

  25. 425
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 8:31 AM

    You say- “People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong.”

    Many moons ago when I was an active researcher I was occasionally amazed by colleagues with expertise in areas with varying relationships to my own, and by educated laypersons, who suggested simple hypotheses about where my area was wrong or that there was some very important relationship that we had missed. This kind of superficial inexpert comment was almost always off the wall and very wrong because my area, like many areas of science, involved very many detailed complications and mechanisms that required years of experience to form a complete understanding. It is this kind of dumb analysis that is raised to total bullshit by some internet climate commenters and the deniers.

    The most galling part of this criticism is the fact that all of the data that commenters twist to fit their own opinion has come from good research and there is an implicit assumption that a large group of experts who are immersed their data and the relevant literature are simply missing some simple obvious factor. Further, these pundits can always find some single comment or study that they think supports their ideas while ignoring the whole area of research. Your criticism of missing factors or techniques outside of your area of expertise is hubris. Try citing some published science.

    You also say, 29 Nov 2012 @ 11:42 AM- “we need to start amelioration activities yesterday, and there is a major difference whether the need is the Manhatten Project pace you recommended, or the more leisurely pace recommended by others.”

    There are very few here who recommend a leisurely pace for solving the warming problem and continually repeating this mantra without any realistic way to convince the general population that it is necessary is just annoying and useless. Steve

  26. 426
    Chris Korda says:

    It’s been a crazy couple of days here at RC. Did we have a substitute moderator due to the holidays? A bloc of contributors seems to be coalescing, distinguished primarily by their eagerness to implement martial law, with the best intentions of course. I would remind the less militant among us that those are your and my liberties they’re so eager to dispense with. Ray is right on with his “Democracy is the only form of government that can claim legitimacy in a pluralistic society.” (#392) Thank you Ray!

    Yes humanity is facing severe challenges, but that’s not a justification for abandoning hard-won civil rights and surrendering abjectly to authoritarianism. As I’ve said before, the measure of success is survival of civilization and culture, not just survival of individual human beings.

    Superman1: It might help your case for military-industrial union to spell the name of your ideal correctly: it’s Manhattan, not Manhatten. I normally don’t comment on spelling but the error is repeated numerous times, and since I grew up there I take it somewhat personally.

  27. 427
    Hank Roberts says:

    a tidbit from that Stoat collection about how surprising fast changes were:
    Paper of the Month
    30 Mar 2007

    Rapid erosion, drumlin formation, and changing hydrology beneath an Antarctic ice stream (corrected updated URL)

    “Drumlins are well known features of landscapes scoured by past ice sheets and can be seen in Scotland and Northern England where they were formed during the last ice age. This paper presents a spectacular example from beneath the Rutford Ice Stream in Antarctica, and highlights the value of long-term investigations. The rates of deposition and erosion are orders of magnitude greater than expected, and suggest complex coupling between water, till and ice flow. Quite apart from being the first sub-glacial observations of a well-known geomorphic feature, these findings present an even more complex picture of the sub-glacial instabilities which drive a significant, if unknown, fraction of ice-sheet variability.”


    Seems to me up til recently the climate models have run faster than the actual climate — which has been convenient for all concerned.

    It’s difficult when the models run slower than the events being modeled (you wouldn’t develop a model to control an aircraft while in flight _in_ the aircraft).

    Perhaps that’s the situation we’re approaching.

    That calls for a more aggressive approach to modeling, doesn’t it?

  28. 428
    Hank Roberts says:

    Er, come to think of it — any attempt at geoengineering ought to include a model successfully matching reality mostly that would run out scenarious sufficient to get a notion what happens next, with the whole routine running much faster than the events being modeled, eh?

    “Okay, we have a paper sketch of how the airplane should fly.”
    “So, fold up the paper as described and it will fly, right?”

  29. 429
    wili says:

    Democracy is not more ‘legitimate’ than continued existence. For war, a much more minor threat than the 6-degrees-and-up estimates of where we are going in the next few decades, democracies have suspended all sorts of things.

    I would like to thank all involved for a vigorous and informative discussion. And I’d like to thank the moderators for not squelching the same.

  30. 430
    Superman1 says:

    Steve Fish #425,

    ” You say- “People wonder why I do not trust and cite the journals. I do not cite the published science because it is wrong.””

    I suggest you re-read the post. The above quote is an excerpt from Aaron Lewis’ post on CP. My comment, immediately following his excerpt, was: ” My perception of the journal literature is not quite as negative as his. There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.” I stand by my comment; do you disagree with it.

    ” Your criticism of missing factors or techniques outside of your area of expertise is hubris.”

    What specific statements do you disagree with? The lagging use of adaptive grids? I happen to know that from first-hand experience. The lack of incorporation of ice dynamics in the models and carbon feedbacks? I didn’t know anyone questioned that. One principle I have followed over the years is not to take the words of any ‘expert’ without question. That’s my purpose here, to try and understand what was done and why it was done.

    “Try citing some published science.”
    I have published well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature. At an average of perhaps thirty citations per paper, that’s about a total of 7500 technical references. I am more than familiar with how published science is accessed and exploited, and I am also very aware of the limitations of published science. The published works of Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry et al, should make you very wary of just repeating your mantra for citing published works. I have no problem of questioning any perceived consensus in climate science if my intuition tells me there is a problem.

  31. 431
    Superman1 says:

    Chris Korda #426,

    ” Yes humanity is facing severe challenges, but that’s not a justification for abandoning hard-won civil rights and surrendering abjectly to authoritarianism. As I’ve said before, the measure of success is survival of civilization and culture, not just survival of individual human beings.”

    We all seem to have different Codes of Honor. You want to retain your ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ that would, say, allow you to travel wherever and whenever you want, even if it translates to some downstream loss of life of some unfortunate Bangladesh farmer, or perhaps some Manhattan subway worker. One poster yesterday was unhappy that I was concerned with reducing premature death.

    I stand by my position. We have no ethical and moral right to live in fossil fuel-based luxury if it means that someday people will pay with their lives for our excesses. Do you disagree with that concept?

  32. 432
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Opposition is true friendship.” — William Blake

    Seriously — can the modelers describe a hypothetical world in which a climate model can be called up (without advance warning) and used to run out a sufficient number of iterations of several scenarios overnight, so a vote could be taken on which choice to make?

    How far away from reality is that — 2x, 100x, 1000x the current resource/speed?

    Because, in effect, we’re asking the modelers how to fly the airplane we’re all in.

    I’m reminded:
    Page one, chapter one of A Runaway World? by British anthropologist Edmund Leach (Oxford, 1968) begins:

    Men have become like gods. Isn’t it about time that we understood our divinity? Science offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny, yet instead of rejoicing we feel deeply afraid. Why should this be? How might these fears be resolved?

  33. 433
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a large group of experts who are immersed their data and the
    > relevant literature are simply missing some simple obvious factor.

    Well, there’s funding, equipment, grad students — what else is missing?

  34. 434
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wili: “Democracy is not more ‘legitimate’ than continued existence.”

    Ben Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  35. 435
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I see your problem. The model does not determine the policy. The model enlightens the expert who advises the policymaker who determines the policy taking into account the advice of the expert and the other exigencies that apply.

    Anyone who determines policy solely on the basis of model output doesn’t understand modeling or policy.

  36. 436
    David B. Benson says:

    More Solid Measure of Melting in Polar Ice Sheets: Planet’s Two Largest Ice Sheets Losing Ice Fast
    The new, combined estimate is that ice sheets have since 1992 contributed on average 0.59 mm (0.023 inches) to sea-level rise per year, with an uncertainty of 0.2 mm per year.

  37. 437
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2012 @ 6:29 PM

    I don’t think anything is missing, read the whole post. Steve

  38. 438
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 29 Nov 2012 @ 3:38 PM

    I apologize for misreading your post, but your continuing comments just confirm my complaint.

    You say- “There is good research published, interspersed with bad research and, in politically/commercially sensitive disciplines, with much manufactured research. One has to be very judicious in separating the wheat from the chaff.”

    Disregarding the papers you mention by Singer and the very few other known denialists, what percentage of the consensus literature (e.g. reviewed by the IPCC working group I) do you think is “manufactured?” If you have concerns about this research, be specific about papers you disagree with and why. If you think that you have the expertise to analyze climate physics, why are you so shy about referring to the actual research? Why don’t you engage the Real Climate team directly by referring to their work?

    I think that you do not cite any research because you think that your successful career in your own specialty area gives you the expertise to criticize a different area. This is hubris. Your “intuition” is worthless if you don’t present a well-documented analysis, and you should know this if you are as self-represented. I suspect that you would not accept inexpert criticism of this type of your own work.

    You say- “What specific statements do you disagree with?”

    You have claimed repeatedly that climate scientists have not included several significant positive feedbacks in their analyses and have done so without any reference to any research literature. If you wish to support this claim, provide documented evidence that the feedbacks are both ignored and significant. Your inexpert opinion is worthless without documentation. Documented = citations of peer reviewed research, as you should know from your own work. If you can’t do this I think that the label of self-aggrandizing crank is appropriate. Steve

  39. 439
    Hank Roberts says:

    AGU “EOS” newspaper for 13 November has a recommendation of a statistical modeling method said to take far fewer runs to get an adequate answer: : Bhattacharya, A. (2012), New insights into faster computation of unc ertainties, Eos Trans. AGU, 93(46), 472, doi:10.1029/2012EO460006.

    AGU updating position statement on climate change: Call for comments

  40. 440
    flxible says:

    “One poster yesterday was unhappy that I was concerned with reducing premature death.”

    Not quite superman, I pointed out the concept of a human death being “premature” is part of the problem of the unsustainable nature of the size of the human population. Who determines which deaths are “premature”? Who decides it was any individuals or any one countrys carbon emissions that tipped the scale to cause a poor farmer in a low lying land to drown? Who are you to be deciding what anyone elses “ethical and moral rights” are in any sphere?

    I had a nephew who fell dead running down his high school football field – peak of youth, doing well scholastically, quite capable in sports, credit to his parents. Was that death “premature”? Who is at “fault”? Coach? Doctors? Parents? Simple fact is every one of us dies. Who’ll be responsible for the “premature” deaths the next time New Orleans gets washed away? The SUV drivers? You?

  41. 441
    Chris Korda says:

    Superman: In #382 you endorse the use of force against governments, presumably including your own, and in #431 you appear to justify this by asserting your moral superiority, while accusing your readers of living in “fossil fuel-based luxury”. Legality aside, a cursory examination of your credentials seems called for. Have you procreated? Do you eat flesh or purchase animal products? Do you drive a car? Have you flown recently? Given your concern for the “unfortunate Bangladesh farmer” I’m sure you’re aware that a significant portion of federal revenue goes towards maiming and murdering in other countries. Are you a tax resister?

    You attack the freedom “to travel wherever and whenever you want,” but no such freedom is enumerated in the United States constitution. Historically the federal government has limited freedom to travel in various ways, and doubtless will continue to do so. The constitution does however take a dim view of treason, and in particular on depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (fifth amendment)

    Regarding your “well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature”, it seems reasonable under the circumstances to request some evidence in support of this claim.

  42. 442
    sidd says:

    “AGU updating position statement on climate change: Call for comments”

    estamos jodidos, compadres.

    sorry but that’s the way i feel after reading Shepherd et al. in today’s Science
    GRIS and APIS are destabilized NOW. In ten years we will see 1/4 inch per year SLR from those alone.


  43. 443

    Wili , all these years of debate come to naught but for an eye of a hurricane seeking Broadway.
    Lately, there has been great progress because climate change itself comes to the fore, and I dearly appreciate RC posts and education, is more educative than a debate. This is key, when big events happen its important to explain them very accurately, was it not for understanding what happens now, how can we predict the future?
    I guess RC is a bit slow on the uptake for attribution, but when it comes to 2 days rain in NW Europe, that is weather, more than a 100 days rain flooding everywhere with tempers stressed and depressed for lack of sun as with British Isles that is climate. Its there that we miss our fast footing, climate speaks more of change than we do, and we fall short on explaining why from lack of pressing debate or requesting information. Democracy is a matter of bringing reality to the fore however pleasant or inconvenient, we do not have enough of it, we deal with forensic issues, a year ago weather might as well be 1000 years ago. When we bring out the mechanics of climate change the people better informed become wiser. A well informed electorate solves problems.

  44. 444
    Superman1 says:

    I frankly have been disappointed with most (not all) responses to my postings. They have been heavy on misinterpretation and name-calling, and light on new concepts and constructive criticism. Maybe I have not stated my position clearly enough; I will try to do so from a slightly different perspective.

    The basic terminology will be similar (but not identical) to that of Kevin Anderson. A 1 C temperature increase is the entre to Dangerous, and by 2 C, we have reached Very Dangerous. Beyond 2 C, we start to enter the territory of the Extremely Dangerous. As we go up the ladder, events that today (or more accurately yesterday) are considered ‘extreme’ increase in frequency and magnitude. Once-in-a-century storms occur more often with greater power. Once-in-a-decade heat waves occur more often with higher temperatures. Additionally, as we go up the temperature ladder, the likelihood of triggering known, or perhaps yet unknown, positive feedback events increases, threatening some degree of ‘runaway’ or self-sustaining temperature increase.

    There are at least three characteristics that can be used to describe the impact of ‘extreme’ events. There is a cost in life, an economic cost, and, for the near-future at least, an additional expenditure of fossil fuels needed to assist in rescue and reconstruction. Ironically, the latter can be viewed as a positive feedback mechanism exacerbating climate change. All these costs increase with increasing temperature.

    One way of understanding the importance of future targets is to examine a best-case condition. If the best-case is problematical, reality will be far worse. The ‘best-case’ we can envision now, in the absence of geo-engineering, is to discontinue fossil fuel use immediately. Based on different estimates I have seen of the temperature consequences of this case (given that the ‘climate warming commitment’ and ‘aerosol forcing’ have to play themselves out), and given that some recent papers have allowed that the ‘climate sensitivity’ may in fact be larger than the 3 C per CO2 doubling normally assumed, the temperature trajectory continues to rise for a few decades to a peak of about 2 C, then starts to decline. Kevin Anderson uses model-based numbers (which were not calculated incorporating positive feedback mechanisms), to arrive at scenarios where 2 C might be achievable with drastic CO2 emission reductions, especially by the advanced nations.

    The message that I infer from all these published and unpublished computations is we have essentially committed ourselves to 2 C from our past fossil fuel expenditures, and any further CO2 emissions will push us in the direction of Extremely Dangerous conditions. I want to emphasize this latter point. Any further CO2 emissions, whether based on use of fossil fuels for luxury expenditures, continuation of everyday living basic necessities, critical life-saving purposes, or transitions to a self-sustaining energy economy, will drive us in the direction of Extremely Dangerous.

    This is the fallout for not heeding the danger signals presented by Hansen and others three decades ago. At that time, we could have made the transition to a self-sustaining energy economy with the assistance of fossil fuel expenditures, and not placed ourselves in an extreme danger zone. Now, depending on the fossil energy expenditures required to effect a transition to self-sustainability (which would involve not only a conversion to sustainable energy sources and their associated infrastructures but would probably involve a relocation and restructuring of infrastructure to reduce unnecessary energy expenditures), we might end up in the position of ‘having to destroy the village to save it’ applied to the biosphere.

    What the optimal strategy will be for avoiding entry into the Extremely Dangerous zone is unknown at present but, depending on the actual numbers calculated, could involve eliminating all fossil energy expenditures for decades until the temperature curve peaks and starts to bend downward, and then judiciously re-introducing fossil energy for the purpose of completing the conversion to self-sustainability. As more energy infrastructure is converted to self-sustaining, it can itself be used for the transition process, and correspondingly less fossil fuel would be required. But, there could conceivably be a multi-decadal ‘lull’ period where the only energy use would be from the self-sustaining sources we have completed already. Obviously, the only energy expenditures would be for the most critical purposes.

    This is a rather grim scenario, but the alternative is a far more grim scenario. And, the longer we delay the institution of this scenario, the more grim it and the alternate become. To institute this scenario on a global scale, rather authoritarian measures would be required. I don’t see any way a global democratic process would lead to the institution of such a scenario in the short time frame required. It is far more than the effective ‘planned austerity’ recommended by Anderson and others. Unfortunately, the reality of the level of restrictive measures required I have outlined above has been missing from the global discourse because of the absence of specific Strategic Plans and Roadmaps. All the recommendations for avoiding climate change I have seen don’t really take into account the fossil energy cost of the conversion process. The atmosphere doesn’t care about energy mixes, or the use of fossil energy for life-critical purposes. All the atmosphere is telling us, in the only language it knows, is that it wants no more CO2 emissions from any source for any reason. We ignore this message at our own peril.

    Now, before everyone starts repeating your criticisms of the past and expanding them, please tell me the flaws in the above discussion. If we don’t have the targets and requirements correct, we can forget about the adequacy and credibility of potential solutions.

  45. 445
    Hank Roberts says:

    Supe, my guess is that you’re not liking many of the replies you get because of the anonymity problem — you claim many published papers and assert your superior knowledge, but nobody knows who you are.

    You can get around that by having someone who knows you speak up — many people do want some amount of anonymity when writing publicly.

    For some readers, a sincere and well informed anonymous writer’s opinions — without the cites to the published work — may sound just like a concern troll — from the outside, seeing nothing but the words typed on the computer.

    You’re not saying anything surprising, or novel, or deep.

    You’re telling us your opinions.

    Everyone has opinions.

    You’re telling us you’re highly qualified to make statements of fact, so you don’t need to cite your sources.

    Lots of people do that. Those with published work can do it credibly because we can look their work up.

    You’re anonymous, and you’re not saying anything special yet.

    Try figuring out a way to get more respect.

    Get someone already respected to vouch for you being real, perhaps?

    Otherwise — you’re not saying anything new yet, just worrying aloud.

    I’m just another reader here, not one of the Contributors (see the list in the sidebar). My opinion means nothing much; my single note contribution is urging people to cite sources and to help readers look up reliable facts in the public library.

    Anonymous opinions, no matter how heartfelt or how much I agree with them, don’t impress me much in public writing like this.

    ReCapcha says: “Puritan silvan” — yep, that’s me.

  46. 446
    flxible says:

    superman, the primary flaw is that your ‘above’ is not a discussion, it’s a bunch of postulations almost entirely lacking definition. Your basic premise appears to be that “we” must preserve civilization as we know it, and that the current [and projected] human population can [and should] be preserved. Democracy is not part of the solution simply because Nature always gets the deciding vote.

  47. 447
    Susan Anderson says:

    FWIW, I offer big thanks to Hank Roberts, and a reminder that RC’s masthead says:

    Climate Science by Climate Scientists

    It seems to me that many sites are now tolerating a much wider discussion in the hopes that useful material and understanding may emerge. IMHO, this reflects a feeling that as we pass “deadlines” for action, and evidence mounts that things are worse than we had hoped, we need some kind of hail mary pass, something, anything. Apparently Sandy and all the other catastrophic events (UK floods under the radar in US, for example, as are many other worldwide events, particularly in the southern hemisphere; west Pacific had huge typhoons one after another for months) were not enough to grab our attention.

    “our” is the big one. Who are “we”? This small community of knowledgeable people has little impact on the big world we walk through every day, despite doing their heroic best and losing sleep sometimes keeping up with the twists and turns of faux opinion. That world includes the audience of four or five couples at the last showing of the spectacular wonderful “Chasing Ice” by the climate hero James Balog in Cambridge last night, and the huge overflow in all the local expensive watering holes where everyone was minding their own comfort. They amursed themselves without reference to the avalanche of information that says “we” *all* need to be concerned. It includes the screaming audiences of the infotainment provided by the marketing nexus that dominates our communications and polity. It includes regular news being dominated by news about sales (black Friday et al.), cute stories, and some quick sound bytes of real news. It includes a “virtual” universe that most prefer to physical reality these days; children are particularly vulnerable as they need no longer face the cliff of actual learning while seeking the bubble popularity.

    Superman does seem a bit enamored of his voice; justified perhaps by his level of passion and concern he posts much more than anyone else. I agree that at this point he needs to provide credible evidence of his expertise to justify his attempt to dominate the conversation.

  48. 448
  49. 449
    SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “I frankly have been disappointed with most (not all) responses to my postings.”

    I frankly don’t bother responding to your postings because they are rambling and incoherent and full of unsupported assertions and opinions presented as facts, and because your response to criticism is to simply repeat the same unsupported assertions and opinions. And then there are the irrelevant digressions into dubious claims about such things as the alleged health effects of electromagnetic fields.

    Moreover, I have little patience with someone who assiduously ignores, disparages and denigrates the solutions to the problem that are not only at hand, but are already being implemented, and who likewise disparages those like who are working so hard to build public support for change, who sneers at the lives of “fossil fuel-based luxury” of other commenters about whose lifestyles he knows nothing (while complaining about “name-calling”), while issuing calls for some sort of violent revolution from the comfort of his keyboard.

    The reality is that something as simple as renewing the wind energy production tax credit (currently due to expire at the end of 2012) would go a lot further towards solving the GHG emissions problem than overthrowing the government.

  50. 450
    Susan Anderson says:

    wili, true for you and bwahahahahahaha