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Unforced variations: August 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 August 2013

This month’s open thread.

Since there are two main topics (Advocacy and Methane bombs) buzzing around the blogo-twitter-sphere this week, perhaps those are our starters for ten… (Feel free to populate the comments with links to various commentaries – we will chime in as we find time).

450 Responses to “Unforced variations: August 2013”

  1. 401
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Issues — are complicated.”

    Actually, the “issues” are not really complicated at all.

    What that article makes quite clear is that there is really only ONE “issue” — namely, that the plummeting cost and accelerating consumer adoption of end-user on-site photovoltaics with storage threatens the profits of the big grid-power generators whose business model consists of “broadcasting” electricity to dumb consumers who have nowhere else to get it.

    Which is exactly why utilities like Southern California Edison are doing everything they think they can get away with to discourage and prevent people from generating and storing their own electricity.

    Ultimately it’s an exercise in futility for SCE.

    I remember when AT&T had a monopoly on the phone system, and it was illegal to connect any device to your phone line except an official AT&T phone that you rented from AT&T. And when you wanted to use a “computer” you would go to your dumb terminal and dial up a mainframe and pay for CPU cycles.

    That’s the sort of business model that SCE wants to preserve.

  2. 402
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wili, you’ve misread the questions.
    There’s no “Summary dismissals of such overwhelming evidence”
    Claims of hydrates in shallow water lack evidence so far.

    All the other methane stuff is somewhat known and somewhat expected already.

    Take what we expect from what’s known about hydrates.
    Figure 160x that strong an effect if shallow warm hydrates exist.

    If they exist, it’s a big story. Someone would have to find some.

    All the other foofaraw about methane is about ordinary known methane, in gas form, in solution in water, and in deep cold hydrates — nobody doubts those.

    The 160x is the sticking point.
    If those are possible at low pressure in warm sediments, that is a BIG deal.

    Big deal bad: Big scary for climate.

    Big deal good: Profitable product to pack and ship, denser and warmer and safer and cheaper than shipping compressed liquefied gas.

    Big deal — if it does exist, or if it can be made.

    There’s no evidence nature’s made those.
    There’s no theoretical chemical structure that people have figured out how to make, either.


    The other methane issues are known physics.
    Nobody denies them; to some degree, varying degrees, they are possible.

    Some have happened, some not; and yes, surprises happen.

    But — this one thing, the 160x larger claim, overturning known physics — needs evidence.

    So far they got bubbles.
    We know about bubbles. Bubbles don’t prove low pressure warm clathrates.

    The 160x larger forcing from the -claimed- stuff — needs evidence it’s even possible, let alone that it actually exists. No evidence for it.

    Just that one claim needs support before repeating it as if it were fact.

  3. 403
    patrick says:

    PNAS 16 July “Tapping unsustainable groundwater stores for agricultural production in the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas, projections to 2110.”

    “The High Plains Aquifer supplies 30% of the nation’s irrigated groundwater, and the Kansas portion supports the congressional district with the highest market value for agriculture in the nation. We project groundwater declines to assess when the study area might run out of water, and comprehensively forecast the impacts of reduced pumping on corn and cattle production. So far, 30% of the groundwater has been pumped and another 39% will be depleted over the next 50 y given existing trends. Recharge supplies 15% of current pumping and would take an average of 500–1,300 y to completely refill a depleted aquifer. …Scenarios evaluate incremental reductions of current pumping by 20–80%, the latter rate approaching natural recharge.”

    “People have to get used to these long time scales.” –Richard Somerville

  4. 404
    Killian says:

    Hank, it is not not getting what Gavin is saying, it is you treating a possibility as non-existent that is the problem. To the extent you and Gavin do accept that possibility of shallower clathrates than are currently considered possible, you treat it as trivial. The difference between non-existent and trivial in this context is itself non-existent.

    You are the problem, not us.

    Additionally, the problem is not just that there may be shallow clathrates, but that emissions pathways, thus pathways for collapse, are more problematic than we believed a few years ago.

    You are also dismissive of the risk in this regard.

    Yet, changes in atmospheric CH4 in the Arctic continue to be high.

    We are talking about collapse, even extinction here. There is no room for a blase attitude, imo. We do not know where the tipping points are, and that alone invalidates a sanguine approach to risk.

  5. 405
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I think I know what this means as far as temperature trends and I think I understand the difference between CRUTE4 and and the CRUTE3 version but the trend lines are dramatically steeper from 1980 onward. I know this can’t be a good thing but what are the implications if you extrapolate the current trends to the year 2020? I’m trying to formulate some idea of what living conditions might be like at that point?

    It appears to me that there has been no “pause in warming since 1998” as many in the denier crowd have claimed. I also assume that by 2020 we will be having ice free Arctic Summers. There are a lot of unknowns and as Kevin said, we don’t have a crystal ball but is there any one event that is more likely to happen sooner than all the other potential hazards we’re facing? Hurricane Sandy didn’t seem to change many attitudes and the fires out West are tragic but even extreme flooding events don’t seem to be having much of an impact on the general population other than being headline news on a daily basis. I keep waiting for some sort of public epiphany or revelation to happen but it doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

    Incidentally, I picked the year 2020 because that’s as far as the chart goes. Thanks

  6. 406
    Blair Dowden says:

    The article “Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate Conditions” in Science (Aug 2, 2013) has already been mentioned here. Figure 3 has a graph showing carbon dioxide levels for the past 20 million years. They give a single reference in the supplemental materials, to D. L. Royer (2006). This graph looks very little like the equivalent in Chapter 6 in the AR4 report, which also includes a reference to Royer, and shows vastly more uncertainty. The graph in the Science paper suggests there is no relationship between carbon dioxide and the climate of last 20 Myr, in contrast to the strong relationship during the ice ages of the past million years. Would anybody knowledgable about this care to comment?

  7. 407
    prokaryotes says:

    In response to this comment

    Dickens (2011) recently estimated 7×102 to 1.27×104 Gt carbon (Gt C) to be sequestered in marine gas hydrates alone, while Shakhova et al. (2010a) estimate 3.75×102 Gt C in methane hydrates just on the East Siberian Arctic shelf (ESAS).


  8. 408
    Hank Roberts says:

    Methane under sediment domes — no surprise; it’s possible, and it’s been confirmed by drilling

    methane assumed to be stored in shallow hydrate deposits

    — Shakhova assumes this, it says.
    The structure of a stable low pressure warm clathrate remains to be described.
    Samples of the assumed material remain to be discovered. We await those.

    Such a hydrate would be good news, as it would be easy to make, transport, and store.
    I’m sure investment opportunities will abound.

    It’s real when someone can show it exists.
    Not assume. Show.

    Assumptions aren’t facts. I’m done with ya.
    Carry on.

  9. 409
    prokaryotes says:

    From 2012, still one of the best reads on the topic Arctic methane outgassing on the E Siberian Shelf


    SkS: In your JGR paper from 2010 you state that methane hydrate in Siberia can occur at depths as shallow as 20 m. Have any such remarkably shallow methane hydrate deposits on the ESAS been directly observed/sampled and if so, how could methane hydrate have formed at such depths?

    NS: Yes, such shallow hydrates were sampled in Siberia. They form as a result of the so-called “self-preservation phenomenon” and they are termed “metastable”. This phenomenon has been intensively studied by Russian geologists starting in the late 1980s. Link

  10. 410
  11. 411
    Killian says:

    You posted it before I could, prok.

    Think Hank will basically say she’s a big fibber if she can’t produce pictures of the clathrates right from a camera on a drill head boring into them?


    Guess we’ll have to dig up some Russian research from the last couple decades.

  12. 412
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hey, guys, be proud of yourselves.
    Hard argument is hard.
    That’s why they call it hard argument.

    Asking for citations is _not_ calling anyone a liar — in a science forum.
    You’re not expected to be believed on faith here. You’re expected to do this kind of hard work to support claims.
    Hard argument should help. I gave you what I found along these same lines back on 12 Aug 2013 at 7:26 PM — that’s how to proceed.

    Opposition is true friendship — in doing science.
    Now — how much is there? Where is it? “metastable hydrate” is a good search term.

    That’s progress.

    Back in 2005, an early RC post on this looked at the result of the Storiegga Slide methane release in the record. Check that out for some numbers.

    You know how to find this stuff.

  13. 413
    Killian says:

    Hank, you’re a pedant. Given you’re not a scientists, your rigidity is a bit absurd.

    There is knowledge that EVENTUALLY is proven. Your problem is your habit of summarily dismissing what is not already standard science.

    Going after good, useful knowledge with such a fervor and near-ferocity chills science rather than strengthening it. ALL new knowledge starts out as fringe. ALL of it.

    Try to keep this in mind. We have tried to repeatedly get you to deal with this, but you continue to choose to treat those who bring not-yet-scientifically-proven knowledge to this forum like second-class citizens.

    The issue is not asking for citations, the issue is absolutely refusing to consider knowledge with few or limited citations, or even none, yet with real-world proofs of concept.

  14. 414

    The Shakhova video is rather chilling–no pun intended. Clearly, she and Dr. Semiletov are very concerned by what they are observing.

    Let’s see, though, if I’m getting the story straight: what she seems to be describing are shallow ESAS waters–20 to 50 meters–with deep sediment layers–50 meters or more–which are still largely frozen, but which seem to be decaying (if that is a permissible verb here.)

    The methane under discussion comes from a variety of sources–biogenesis, thermogenesis, etc.–and exists under pressure, but is not fully stable: it’s ‘metastable’, meaning that it’s essentially in the process of decomposition, but that that process is proceeding very slowly due to inhibiting ‘surface effects.’ (This last bit I’m trying to summarize from the link at the bottom of the CP page prokaryotes linked.)

    With warming of the ESAS waters and loss of sea ice cover, the melting of the permafrost sediment layer accelerates. And since there are already vulnerable areas in the sediment–such as the ‘taliks’, the unfrozen pockets–gas escape can or could trigger depressurization, which would then destabilize the metastable hydrates, paradoxically generating gas overpressures which would open up ‘chimneys’ in the sediment, and even generate new ‘gas migration pathways.’

    Further, with increased wind-driven mixing of the shallow surface waters, less oxidation of the methane occurs in the water column, so emissions to the atmosphere increase on that account also.

    How much of this paraphrase/summary is correct? There’s a lot in the video to take in, and help would be appreciated.

  15. 415
    James Cross says:

    Anyone from RC planning to comment on:

    Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling
    Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12534

    Sorry if I missed it and you already have.

    There is so much methane talk on this thread I might have missed it.

  16. 416
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The truth has nothing to fear from criticism. Criticism only makes the truth stronger. One of the most effective criticisms against the climate science community is that of alarmism. There is plenty of justification for raising the alarm even if we restrict ourselves to what we know with certainty.

  17. 417
    Susan Anderson says:

    I am disgusted by this statement and the cascade of personal attacks and repetition:

    “You are the problem, not us.”

    I suggest people looking for an enemy find somebody who is not working hard to discern the truth, but rather to spread lies, to expend their venom on. Issues include perspective, data, history (paleohistory), and proportion. Circular firing squads and exaggeration help nobody but exploiters, who are delighted to see this infighting.

    Now this was a heroic effort:

    Kevin McKinney says:
    26 Aug 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Anent my last, the next concrete step on my ‘to do’ list is a face-to-face Friday with our local congresscritter. A Tea Party type, likely not so amenable to reason on this topic, but chipping away, chipping away…

    It appears that RealClimate owners, having tried their best to introduce some sense of proportion here, have decided to let a few insistent commenters run and run with this …

    Nobody is suggesting methane is a not a problem, but that CO2 is a bigger one, and even methane includes worse sources to worry about.

    No doubt I too will now be subjected to the animus of people looking for an enemy to shoot at. You should know that this stuff absolutely thrills those busy promoting fake skepticism in the service of doubt and delay.

    (I tried to post something along these lines a couple days ago, but was told the “sock” was not unreachable. Hope this one goes through.)

  18. 418
    Killian says:

    416 and 417: You can pretend Hank isn’t pedantic, patronizing and dismissive, but it’s not accurate. One tires of being treated with disrespect. We need people working together, and those that offer pretense at problem-solving, but take every opportunity to beat others down are fooling only some of us.

    Change “The truth has nothing to fear from criticism. Criticism only makes the truth stronger” to “The truth has nothing to fear from critique. Critique only makes the truth stronger” and I’ll agree with you. At least among supposed allies. Your statement holds true among enemies.

    I’d like for Hank, and others, to try treating the rest with respect, particularly regarding real-world evidence not yet fully accepted as absolute fact. You know, like massive amounts of CH4 from mixed sources in the Arctic water and air columns…. which we’ve seen for years… Just sayin’.

    Simply put, Hank is rude, I’m sick and tired of it, and you cannot get to sustainability by tearing down your allies at every opportunity. He needs to be called on it, and now has been, unequivocally. But the important aspect here is that perhaps those with a similar perspective to Hank will be a bit more open-minded.

    While Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications, life just doesn’t work that way. Very little in science is ever really completely finished, right? And when you are having to make policy decisions with science that is most definitely in process to avoid global catastrophe, constantly slamming people for providing evidence that is not yet proof is a pointless and self-defeating behavior. If anything, we need to look at and try to fund ANY evidence showing a negative feedback to continuing warming.

    Let’s see less of this dismissive behavior.

  19. 419
    prokaryotes says:

    …the “sock” was not unreachable. Hope this one goes through.

    Yes “open socket error” is a server problem i encountered too.

    If somebody want to help improve information on wikipedia i just reworked a lot at this page. Still could need a lot of improvements.

  20. 420
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian, with all due respect, I don’t find Hank Roberts to be either “pedantic” or “rude”.

    In the matter of methane deposits, I simply see Hank as consistently urging that assertions be supported with facts, and reminding us all that we should not assert as facts or as certainties things that are, at present, merely speculative.

    On the other hand, I have found you to be consistently belligerent, belittling, arrogant, condescending, dismissive and denigrating towards many other commenters here, some of whom have repeatedly demonstrated that they are more knowledgeable than you are about the subjects on which you frequently opine.

    Moreover, your comments display a pattern of distorting and cherry-picking the comments of others, typically with the effect of exaggerating or inventing a point of disagreement, which then becomes the basis for argumentative behavior on your part, such as I described in the previous paragraph.

    In short you seem to be focused on (1) picking fights and (2) repeatedly demonstrating to yourself that you are superior to everyone else here.

    Which is pretty much the textbook definition of a troll.

  21. 421
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications”

    That’s a gross mischaracterization of Hank’s comments, on the methane issue and in general.

    And it’s a perfect example of “distorting and cherry-picking the comments of others, typically with the effect of exaggerating or inventing a point of disagreement” as I wrote in my previous comment.

  22. 422
    Susan Anderson says:

    as predicted (we are all in this together, and there is a “real” enemy). I saw the Shakhova video a few months ago and agree she looked worried, or perhaps having to concentrate speaking in a foreign language. Time will tell, and there’s plenty to do meanwhile. I like Hank and learn a lot from him.

    Changing subject, imho this is worth a look (Bakken flaring):

    (once again, socket trouble … maybe now I’m not watching tennis, silly me!)

  23. 423
    Dan says:

    re:415 and the Pacific cooling.
    Despite the tempering of global average temperatures in the past 15 years from the predominance of La Ninas, recent years have all still been among the warmest recorded as warming continues. Per the World Meteorological Organization, 30 years is the standard period for climate trends (today’s average high and low temperatures where you are are always based on the 30-year averages) and not 15 due to short-term natural influences (natural influences such as volcanoes, etc.). In addition there is the cherry-picking of 1998 as the start of that 15-year trend…the year with an exceptionally strong El Nino that caused global average temperatures to spike. Which was addressed 10 years ago when denialists desperately attempted to manipulate the data trend. And now it is being dug out from the back of the closet again. Those facts have conveniently and inexcusably been lost in the shuffle. Not just by denialists but by the media reporting the story.

  24. 424
    prokaryotes says:

    Re 1998 El Nino

    The 1997/1998 monster El Nino happened at a time when the wind-driven ocean circulation was spinning up – having spun down to a low point at around 1993. This spin up – a strengthening of the transport of warm surface water out of the tropics, and enhanced downward (Ekman) pumping in the subtropical ocean gyres – may have prevented the El Nino from being even more severe.


  25. 425
    Susan Anderson says:

    Returning to the subject of advocacy and accuracy and truth, I think it might be worthwhile to note that the idea that if scientists are perfect and truthful and never step outside their bounds the doubt and denial industry will shut down or somehow be unable to continue has been proven wrong over and over. Rather, the truth needs to be pursued because it is not only moral but more interesting.

    (huh: ayacan sockets)

  26. 426
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Isn’t Hank Roberts essentially saying the same things about Methane Hydrates that Gavin Schmidt already said on Twitter? Of course I’m no scientist and maybe I misinterpreted something Gavin had said about methane but I was thinking Gavin had already made the assertion that there wasn’t enough evidence to support some sort of sudden release of Methane Hydrates. Maybe Gavin could shed some light on this issue once more and clear things up for the rest of us. I would even like to see some sort of “official” update from the moderators if they have the time, possibly on a separate thread. This topic is getting a lot of attention elsewhere on the internet with plenty of debate from all sides. I think it’s a really good debate and very interesting.

    Honestly, I have no idea other than what people are saying on here and what I’ve read and seen from the “experts”. I find the whole situation worrisome whether a sudden release of methane is possible or not.

    I would imagine there are quite a few “triggers” built into the Climate system that haven’t been anticipated simply because we’ve never lived through such dramatic changes since humans have inhabited the planet so I’m not ruling anything out. I am interested in the future of humanity and any sort of predictions as to how this will play out and how soon. Of all the Climate related web sites I’ve seen, I believe this is the best one and highly credible. Nobody should be taking things personally. We’re all concerned about the future of the planet or we wouldn’t be here having these discussions and heated debate. I thank everyone here for their time and effort. I only wish I had a fraction of the intelligence the rest of you have. Re CAPTCHA is difficult enough.

  27. 427
    flxible says:

    Have to totally agree with SecularAnimist @ 420 & 421 above, particularly wrt the ‘superiority complex’ – and also point out that this is a climate science blog, not one to discuss or support ‘policy implications’.

  28. 428
    Jim Larsen says:

    418 Killian said, ” like massive amounts of CH4 from mixed sources in the Arctic water and air columns…. which we’ve seen for years”

    My definition of massive is different than yours. 90% of natural sources are wetlands and termites. Then there’s the human emissions too. Doesn’t leave much room for arctic emissions. Maybe we’ll get massive emissions, but not yet.

  29. 429
    Hank Roberts says:

    Relax, it’s science.
    People see what they expect to see.
    People find what they expect to find.
    That’s — something we know about.

    That’s why science.

    That’s why citations.
    That’s why reading carefully.
    That’s why hard argument.

    We’re all blinkered.
    And there’s work to do.

    “… Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it. And it does that at least partly fueled by our pettiness and our rivalries. Science is alchemy: it turns shit into gold. Keep that in mind ….”


    The original articles have mentioned these metastable forms.
    Look at the _lifetime_ of that stuff.
    You get bubbles that get further up toward the surface than the gas exchange laws suggest — why? Becaues the little bubbles have made themselves little shells of water ice. They’re metastable. They melt slower.

    You get stuff in the pores in the sediments. Look at the descriptions. Look at how meta-stability is described (in many varying ways).

    I found none that suggest ‘meta-stable’ could last very long (more like minutes, maybe hours — not like decades or centuries or millenia).

    There could be some there as methane and CO2 keep being formed from biological material or rising from deep earth — migrating, freezing out, being pushed by water or gas pressure, changing.

    But — again, no evidence for large amounts.

    The Storiegga slide was quite big. No temperature spike from it in the temperature records. Such could’ve been masked by some volcanic cooling, assuming a big positive and a big negative forcing at the same time ended up cancelling out — people are looking.

    But that’s speculation.

  30. 430
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Killian — 29 Aug 2013 @ 11:27 PM

    I have also had several “open socket error” messages.

    Killian remarks- “There is knowledge that EVENTUALLY is proven.” No! Scientific ideas (e.g. hypotheses) become accepted when supported by enough evidence and when counter evidence has been explained. “Eventually” carries no weight while supporting scientific evidence does, but all science is, to some degree, provisional.

    All new scientific findings are not “fringe” science. This is insulting. Almost all research is based on a large amount of previous knowledge. An idea that has yet to gain a lot of support is not on the fringe, it just has yet to be accepted or rejected.

    Hank has not been “refusing to consider knowledge with few or limited citations,” he is rejecting your uncritical acceptance of this knowledge before there has been time for scientific validation. Your confidence in your unsupported opinions reminds me of a Charles Darwin quote- “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”


  31. 431
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    There is some confusion about the message to the general public. The climate community is not very consistent.

    “Climate” used to be a very simple and practical matter. It was the statistical description of local weather, over the latest 30 years, for purposes such as which crops could be planted on the farm, how high embankments to build to protect the township and how to dimension the drains. A tenth of a degree was not needed in those applications and the observing stations were constructed accordingly. This was the purpose why i.e. the state climatologists were appointed, and every national weather service in the world still has a climate department.

    Trying to observe and communicate global warming is a different matter.

    For purposes of communicating global warming observations, the “climate of the latest 30 years” forms a set of moving reference levels as it is updated at 10 year intervals. Perhaps not a problem for the professionals, but confusing for random passers-by.

    For effective communication of global warming and other climate changes there is a need for a standard reference level. Be it pre-industrial or some other agreed level, it should be used consistently ja extensively in reports and information releases (and particularly shown on graphs). Maybe also some changes in wording, to separate the two application areas.

    Sorry for the loss of freedom, but effective communication requires a consistent, repeated message. As is amply demonstrated also in the climate “discussion” where the same denialist claims are re-circulated endlessly.

  32. 432
    MA Rodger says:

    Dan @423.
    Is it just me? I feel like a pacifist who suddenly finds all his fellow pacifists marching in step, saluting each other and painting stationary objects white.
    How can global average temperatures have ‘tempered’ “in the past 15 years” if the rise in those temperatures can be seen to have been accelerating up to 6 years ago. See here (Usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’.) What are folk on about with this 15 years malarkey? The only explanation I see is that the 15 years refers to a different planet, perhaps Wattsupia.

    James Cross @415.
    The Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie paper’s abstract is not clear about what they have done and the full paper is paywalled. However from the interweb it can be gleaned that they ran a climate model with historical forcings and got no “hiatus”. They ran it again but with the Eastern tropical Pacific SST held to actual values and got a “hiatus.” And then they ran it a third time but with only natural forcings and some ‘restricting’ the Pacific SSTs.
    Presumably this prompts their conclusion that the “hiatus” is caused by ENSO. I think that is rather wild talk. I also consider the language in the abstract to be as bad as Dan’s above (“the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century”). In describing their findings (“Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”) they whet denialist appetites who will be dreaming of some PDO, AMO or IPO cycle which, if it has reduced temperature rise over the last few years can then be argued to have provided a significant natural element to previous warming – that being one step away from calling the whole thing mostly natural.
    Indeed, Judith Curry does just that, cherry-picking a part of the simulation period where the runs with natural forcing only are large (graphs here) and concluding that it shows “the same natural internal variability (primarily PDO) that is responsible for the pause is a major and likely dominant cause (at least at the 50% level) of the warming in the last quarter of the 20th century.” But then such nonsense has become par for the course from JC.

    While on face value the paper shows some interesting results, does it in terms of global temperature rise tell us any more than Foster & Rahmstorf (2011), that the underlying temperature rise remains when ENSO is removed? At least F&R(2011) also considered the sun & volcanoes which, with human pollution, may also feature significantly in our “hiatus”.

    I should also say that I was not impressed by the level of scholarship demonstrated by this paper’s abstract. The abstract cites Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) and Easterling & Wehner (2009) to support its assertion that ’21st century temperatures have not risen’. That is a very bad error as neither paper come close to making such a statement.

  33. 433
    James Cross says:


    From abstract:

    “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Nina-like decadal cooling.”

    However, this would also mean that a significant percentage of late 20th century warming was natural climate variability.

    It seems like the paper suggests a more middle ground on climate sensitivity – that things are not as bad as the late 20th century might suggest or as good as this century suggests.

  34. 434
    Susan Anderson says:

    Chuck Hughes @~426
    These guys have day jobs. You might go back over the inline responses beginning around 254, and also Gavin’s patient response to yours truly much earlier here:

    Thanks Hank @~429 for the wonderful “kicking and screaming” link. I’d forgotten about that.

    Prokaryotes @~424, thanks for the simple summary on the 1998 El Nino. I love it when somebody makes it easy for me.

  35. 435
    James Cross says:


    Even what you quote from Judith Curry says 50% natural not 100% as you seem to imply. In another place she says it the global warming signal might vary and be greater during other periods.

    I know some skeptics are making the 100% argument but the overall thrust of the paper is the hiatus is temporary. I don’t see this should make any of the more extreme skeptics happy.

    I don’t see how the analysis about hiatus would make the extreme on the other side happy either.

    It seems like it suggests more the sensitivity which reports say the IPCC is going to come out with or certainly not much more or less.

  36. 436
    Radge Havers says:

    If the science and its communication has any value, then making some effort to meet policy makers half way in terms of subject matter as well as language is probably a good idea.

    That may mean extending the boundaries of what you now consider to be climate science.

    “The time has come for the climate science community to change its focus. We must now work to develop the tools that humanity needs in order to deal with climate change.”
    Stephen Belcher, Professor of Meteorology and Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre

    How effectively does the climate science community interface with the rest of society?

  37. 437
    MA Rodger says:

    James Cross @435.
    If you can be sure exactly what Curry meant by the quote I presented @432, then well done. Perhaps you can explain it, although I am not holding my breath – your track record @435 of parsing meaning from the writing of others is not impressive.
    My own take on that Curry quote was to assume the parenthesised comment “(at least at the 50% level)” was saying the natural element is a minimum of half the 1975-2000 warming. And that limiting 50% minimum Curry herself appears to dismiss describing her conclusion from the paper by saying “But no matter what, I am coming up with natural internal variability associated accounting for significantly MORE than half of the observed warming.”). Thus Curry is “calling the whole thing mostly natural” where, as is usual, ‘mostly’ means ‘the majority of’ and does not in any way “seem to imply” 100% as you assert @435.
    In her blog post Curry talks of her hypothetical PDO-powered natural cycle acting on global temperature. To suggest such hypothesising would not make “the more extreme skeptics happy” is odd. For instance, do not the GWPF cite Akasofu and his cycling climate? Does it not allow them to argue that AGW is so weak and climate sensitivity so low that mitigation policies are wrong and not necessary and that adaptation policies will be adequate? Pehaps you do not consider GWPF extreme.

  38. 438
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote at #418: “Hank wants to treat every conversation as if it were about only fully completed science with no policy implications”

    flxible wrote at #427: “this is a climate science blog, not one to discuss or support ‘policy implications’ …”

    Actually the moderators have generally accepted discussion of the policy implications of global warming, at least on the Unforced Variations threads, which I think is appropriate.

    In my view the policy implications of what we already know with a high degree of certainty are sufficiently clear and compelling to demand urgent action. We already know what we need to do, we already know how to do it, and we need to get on with it NOW.

    It does not seem to me that insistence on discussing policy implications of things that are entirely speculative is particularly helpful.

  39. 439
    Hank Roberts says:

    > How effectively does the climate science community
    > interface with the rest of society?

    Climate science is a public health issue.
    You can look at the public health journals for a LOT of discussion of this.

    And, they also look hard at how public health can be tracked, at early warnings and how to notice them, and how to convince the public.

    Think public health on one side trying to educate people, and all the other forces of the economy and politics on the other ranked against that education.

    This one about cardiac care trends is fascinating:

    (especially since we now know small particle air pollution from diesel and tobacco smoke is a major factor — which wasn’t known until recently and which is typical of where industry fights against public health knowledge)

    The Decline and Rise of Coronary Heart Disease: Understanding Public Health Catastrophism. American Journal of Public Health: July 2013, Vol. 103, No. 7, pp. 1207-1218.
    doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301226

  40. 440
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Radge Havers, I do not think it is quite fair to look at a public that is deaf and claim that it is the climate scientists who are mute or unclear.

    I do not think it is fair to blame the ignorance of the majority of humanity on those who have chosen to seek knowledge.

    Maybe, people need to become science-literate enough to realize which group claiming to represent science are actually taking care to educate them.

  41. 441
    Hank Roberts says:

    Well, here’s one suggestion of the possibility of a long-lived “metastable hydrate” — a form that would exist under -higher- pressure, and -below- the stability zone, for a long time.;jsessionid=AC99201826FD85E72848AFF347DCD2D5.d01t04

    “Marine occurrences of gas hydrate are normally confined to the top few hundred meters of sediments along deep continental margins. The zone of stability for gas hydrate is limited in depth by increases in temperature below the seafloor. We use thermodynamic calculations to show that gas hydrate can exist in a metastable state below the usual base of the stability zone. We estimate that gas hydrate can be overheated by several degrees and that it may persist in this metastable state in the seafloor for as long as 10[e]6 years. Sudden decomposition of metastable hydrate should produce substantial pore pressure in the sediments, contributing to slope failure in locations where gas hydrate is found. Such a mechanism might help to explain why slumping appears to be more frequent than average during the interval around the last glacial maximum.”

    It’s an old article from 1999, only recently put online:

    Geophysical Research Letters
    Volume 26, Issue 19, pages 2981–2984, 1 October 1999

    Metastability of gas hydrate
    Bruce A. Buffett, Olga Y. Zatsepina
    Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
    DOI: 10.1029/1999GL002339

    Look back at the original posts of the various RC topics on methane for why this gets interesting (maybe) — because the known deep hydrates melt from the bottom.

  42. 442
    Hank Roberts says:

    The Buffet and Zatsepina 1999 paper is cited by 13 subsequent papers:

  43. 443
    Hank Roberts says:

    Killian apparently alludes to Fleck, claiming I think otherwise.

    One must not forget that there exists no fully completed science but only one that is becoming.

    Ludwik Fleck, “On the crisis of ‘reality’” (1929)

  44. 444
    David B. Benson says:

    I would prefer leaving policy implications to other blogs, despite the Real Climate moderators liberal policy.

    Stick to climatology; it is difficult enough.

  45. 445
    Radge Havers says:

    Well, considering that one of the starter topics for this month’s UV is ‘advocacy’, which sort of implies a question of how to approach policy, it seems strange to object to at least a limited discussion here — of how to approach policy anyway.

    Not where I was going with that…

    Sounds like they’re doing pretty well on the public health front

  46. 446
    AIC says:

    It would be helpful if more of the climate scientists would write more articles for popular press, and perhaps even join in some of the online comments on articles, perhaps spending a little less time here.

    Those of us who are not climate scientists don’t know how to reply to some of the statements that get posted as comments. Maybe they are taking things out of context, maybe cherry-picking, but it can be difficult to know how to respond, whether to just say somebody is spewing BS.

    On the other hand, I remember Gavin detailing how he spent 4 hours researching to reply to a bogus claim, so I can appreciate the need not to be too distracted.

    [Response: well, some of us do ;-) e.g. here, here or here.-mike]

  47. 447
    Jim Larsen says:

    438 SA said, ” We already know what we need to do,”

    Yes and no. Unfortunately, we have competing directions. Some want wind and solar. Others want fracking to replace coal. Raising efficiency and a carbon tax is another way. And then there’s the n-word.

  48. 448
    Hank Roberts says:

    John N-G at Climateabyss, “learning-from-the-hiatus”

    Judith Curry got rather excited by some of the numbers in Kosaka and Xie….
    Curry’s mind-blowing reading of the paper is incorrect. What she missed …

  49. 449
    Hank Roberts says:

    hm, I’d swear there was a link in that. Oh well, here it is:

  50. 450
    Hank Roberts says:

    A science(y) blog’s editors apologize for having been fooled into promoting bogosity, after their readers pointed out the problems. They did ok here: