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Unforced variations: July 2014

Filed under: — group @ 2 July 2014

This month’s open thread. Topics of potential interest: The successful OCO-2 launch, continuing likelihood of an El Niño event this fall, predictions of the September Arctic sea ice minimum, Antarctic sea ice excursions, stochastic elements in climate models etc. Just for a change, no discussion of mitigation efforts please!

373 Responses to “Unforced variations: July 2014”

  1. 1
    David Miller says:

    I was thrilled to see the successful launch of the OCO-2.

    This is the mission that the Bush administration put on hold, right? So the satellite went into storage until the Obama administration gave the go-ahead. And the original satellite launch failed?

    [Response: No. You are confusing it with the DSCOVR mission. The original OCO did fail on launch though (we wrote about it here). – gavin]

    One point that confuses me. I thought the mission was to track aerosols as well so that we’d get a much clearer picture of the actual radiation budget. The linked article says nothing about aerosols. Did I confuse that with another mission?

    [Response: Yes. You are thinking about the Glory satellite – which also failed on launch. – gavin]

    Perhaps the OCO-2 mission is worth a post on its own merits from someone familiar with it?

  2. 2
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Jul 2014 @ 6:27 AM, ~#477, and 1 Jul 2014 @ 6:40 AM, ~# 478 in the just closed June Unforced Variation topic.

    Ha, you really don’t understand! You said that- “If 2015 emissions were half of 2014 emissions, all of the 2015 emissions would be removed from the atmosphere. They would not linger and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would not increase,” but in fact, half of the reduced 2015 emissions would remain in the atmosphere and this is way too much.

    There has to be a 70% cut in emissions just to keep temperature from increasing indefinitely. You and Diogenes disagree? As I suggested to you previously, take it up with Gavin and the published research that informs him – .


  3. 3
    Christopher Hogan says:

    #1, Steve: The language that most people use to describe the average annual increase in atmospheric carbon is confusing. It juxtaposes two unrelated numbers — annual anthropogenic emissions, and annual sequestration. The right way to say it is something like this: At present, the atmosphere holds about 240 gigatons of carbon in excess of the level that existed prior to the start of the industrial revolution. Of that 240 gigaton excess, about 5 gigatons per year is removed by natural processes. Each year, humans add about 10 gigatons. So, just by chance, the average annual sequestration works out to be about half of human emissions. To be clear, if we emitted nothing, or if we emitted 20 gigatons, an average of 5 gigatons would still be removed.

  4. 4
    Meow says:

    Please add a separate thread for mitigation discussions.

  5. 5
    Russell says:

    As the intellectual barometer plunges, we again face the weirdest weather of the year– the Heartland Climate Conference season

  6. 6
    Alastair McDonald says:

    The Arctic sea-ice estimates for September are here:

    I plan to submit an estimate based on “The Black Swan” method. It worked for me in 2012, see here , and could have worked in 2013 had I tried it then.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cited properly:

    Can we trust climate models?

    J. C. Hargreaves* and J. D. Annan

    28 MAY 2014
    DOI: 10.1002/wcc.288
    © 2014 The Authors. WIREs Climate Change published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    This is an open access article ….
    Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
    Volume 5, Issue 4, pages 435–440, July/August 2014

  9. 9
    DF says:

    How can it possibly happen that NOAA change earlier reported temperatures for the United States?
    Even though I do not enjoy referring to the source here at this site, It does not look good!

    In July 2012 a temperature of 77.4°F was provided for July 1936.
    In June 2014 a temperature of 76.8°F was provided for July 1936.


    [Response: While the raw data at any one station at any one time obviously doesn’t change, the value for any regional or global average in the past is always an estimate since there isn’t a perfect network of measurements across the whole area. The estimate will depend on how you do the integration, how you adjust for urban effects, how you deal with different measurement systems. These methods change, and sometimes you can have corrections or additions to the raw data itself. In this case, it is mostly about improvements in the methodology. The uncertainty in the estimate of the absolute temperature will be larger going back in time (though estimates of the anomalies will be smaller). What matters is that if you are going to compare different times, the calculation method is the same. – gavin]

  10. 10
    jacob l says:

    dear founder of RC please don’t let Real Climate turn into a long string of open threads like deltoid has. thanks jacob l
    ps it’s ok to write about your papers and work, it’s interesting honest

  11. 11
    DP says:

    About emissions remaining in the atmosphere is it true that the Atmosphere has a natural level of co2 concentration that it tries to return too? Is the absorption of 50% perhaps a function of the forcing rather than the concentration? Perhaps if emissions stopped the concentration would stay the same.

  12. 12
    Chris Dudley says:

    Steve (#1),

    Alright, split the difference and call it 60%.

    a=findgen(1000) ;year since 1850

    b=fltarr(1000) ;BAU concentration profile
    for i=1,999 do b(i)=b(i-1)*1.02 ;2 percent growth
    ;plot,b(0:150)*4.36+285.,/ynoz ; 370 ppm year 2000
    c=(18.+14.*exp(-a/420.)+18.*exp(-a/70.)+24.*exp(-a/21.)+26.*exp(-a/3.4))/100. ;Kharecha and Hansen eqn 1
    e=fltarr(1000) ;annual emissions
    for i=1,999 do e(i)=b(i)-b(i-1)
    d=fltarr(1000) ; calculated concentration
    t=400.-285. ;target concentration
    f=0 ;flag to end BAU growth

    for i=1,499 do begin & d(i:999)=d(i:999)+e(i)*c(0:999-i)*4.36*2. & if d(i) gt t then begin & e(i+1:999)=e(i)/1.5 & f=1 & endif else if f eq 1 then e(i+1:999)=(t-d(i+1))/4.36/2. & endfor ;factor of two reproduces BAU growth

    plot,a(0:499)+1850.,d(0:499)+285.,/ynoz,xtit='Year',ytit='carbon dioxide concentration (ppm)',charsize=1.5 ; atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in ppm showing target achieved
    plot,a(0:499)+1850,e(0:499)/max(e(0:499))*100,xtit='year',ytit='carbon dioxide emissions (AU)',charsize=1.5 ;emission profile to reach target in percent of max

    This stabilizes concentration at 400 ppm. The Fawlty language will run it. I notice we actually have about 180 years to do the next 30%

    Reference: Kharecha, P.A., and J.E. Hansen, 2008 Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 22, GB3012

  13. 13
    Magnus W says:

    Forgot to post this last time around. The McCarthyism in Bengtssons imagination and what happend before. by me.

  14. 14
    prokaryotes says:

    ClimateState has a new slick design, check it out. RC commenters are invited to submit climate relevant content in English or German (see page footer link) or contact me.

  15. 15
    Colin Rust says:

    What charities do people recommend as effective in the global warming / climate change space? What seem like some of the most efficient ways to use donor dollars?

    Giving What We Can recommends Cool Earth which essentially buys at-risk tropical rainforest as an efficient way to prevent carbon being released, along with other obvious benefits (protecting the ecosystem and indigenous people).

    Intuitively, I would think capping oil wells that are sources of methane might make sense, although I don’t know of a charity for this. On the advocacy or public policy front are there points of particular leverage?

  16. 16
    Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    Have the climate modelers here seen a recent paper: (2013) Xiang Yang and Rajat Mittal, Acceleration of the Jacobi iterative method by factors exceeding 100 using scheduled relaxation, in Journal of Computational Physics, doi: 10.1016/

    An online prepring is available here; and there is a comment on the work at

    This describes an improvement on an old method for solving systems of equations which may be useful in computation fluid mechanics, and climate models, according to the paper. Is this likely to have an application in your work?

  17. 17
    Hank Roberts says:

    Whales as ecosystem engineers:

    “The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans,” Roman and his colleagues write in the July 3, 2014, online edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, ” but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway.”

    “The continued recovery of great whales may help to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses,” the team of scientists writes. This recovered role may be especially important as climate change threatens ocean ecosystems with rising temperatures and acidification. “As long-lived species, they enhance the predictability and stability of marine ecosystems,” Roman said.

    Baleen and sperm whales, known collectively as the “great whales,” include the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth. With huge metabolic demands—and large populations before humans started hunting them—great whales are the ocean’s ecosystem engineers: they eat many fish and invertebrates, are themselves prey to other predators like killer whales, and distribute nutrients through the water. Even their carcasses, dropping to the seafloor, provide habitat for many species that only exist on these “whale falls.” Commercial whaling dramatically reduced the biomass and abundance of great whales.

    “As humpbacks, gray whales, sperm whales and other cetaceans recover from centuries of overhunting, we are beginning to see that they also play an important role in the ocean,” Roman said. “Among their many ecological roles, whales recycle nutrients and enhance primary productivity in areas where they feed.” They do this by feeding at depth and releasing fecal plumes near the surface—which supports plankton growth—a remarkable process described as a “whale pump.” Whales also move nutrients thousands of miles from productive feeding areas at high latitudes to calving areas at lower latitudes.

    Sometimes, commercial fishermen have seen whales as competition. But this new paper summarizes a strong body of evidence that indicates the opposite can be true: whale recovery “could lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth,” supporting more robust fisheries.

    The new study was written by Joe Roman, University of Vermont; James A Estes and Daniel Costa, University of California, Santa Cruz; Lyne Morissette, M Expertise Marine, Sainte-Luce, Canada; Craig Smith, University of Hawaii, Manoa; James McCarthy, Harvard University; JB Nation, University of Hawaii, Honolulu; Stephen Nicol, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia; Andrew Pershing, University of Maine, Orono, and Gulf of Maine Institute; and Victor Smetacek, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.

  18. 18
    Hank Roberts says:

    This one is paywalled — but might be worth an invited topic:

    Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, June, Vol. 12, No. 5 : 280-287

    An interdisciplinary assessment of climate engineering strategies
    Daniela F Cusack, Jonn Axsen, Rachael Shwom, Lauren Hartzell-Nichols, Sam White, and Katherine RM Mackey
    (doi: 10.1890/130030)

  19. 19
    jim Larsen says:

    1 Steve Fish said, “half of the reduced 2015 emissions would remain in the atmosphere”

    I’m with Chris D on this one. Sequestration in the ocean is not based on emissions, but concentration. If 2015 has the same concentration as 2014, then equal amounts would be sequestered, regardless of emissions. Since that’s currently 50%, if we reduced emissions 50%, ocean acidification would continue to get worse, temperatures would not rise, and we’d have to cut a bit more each year as the oceans catch up with the atmosphere.

  20. 20
    R. Gates says:

    Interesting study out on the outgassing of CO2 from the northern Pacific to end the last glacial period:

    Seems a little astronomical forcing (Milankovitch) led to changes in the ocean and ocean-atmosphere interactions which gave a positive feedback kick to CO2 release which caused a big warm up and rapid glacial melt.

  21. 21
    Kevin O'Neill says:

    I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.
    —-Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith, Rep. Hazard

    No coal mines or factories on mars – he has a point. How could we have missed that? Now don’t we all feel stupid.

  22. 22
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I read an article somewhere about the MOC and that it’s predicted slowdown seems to be happening but also that as there is no sudden inrush of freshwater from lakes etc. as happened last time Europe had a deep freeze, the gradual cooling of mid lat Europe will be more than offset by steady global temp increase. Is that still the general consensus amongst the climate science community? Thanks.

  23. 23
    Chris Dudley says:

    Hurricane Arthur seems to be the earliest North Carolina landfalling hurricane on record. Perhaps we are seeing a warming induced broadening of the hurricane season for more northern parts of the country. Sandy was very late for a Mid-Atlantic hurricane which has been attributed to the effects of warming. Perhaps the early part of the season could change as well. North Carolina makes a nice quick check because it intercepts so many storms but a look at the whole coast would be best to check trends.

  24. 24
    Hank Roberts says:

    New constraints on atmospheric CO2 concentration for the Phanerozoic
    DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060457

    These results provide critical new empirical support for the emerging view that large (~2000 − 3000 ppm), long-term swings in ca do not characterize the post-Devonian and that Earth’s long-term climate sensitivity to ca is greater than originally thought.

  25. 25
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kevin O’Neill:

    I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that.

    Sounds like Mars needs some freedom!

  26. 26
    Susan Anderson says:

    Chris Dudley (Arthur and other weather delivered 4 inches of rain in 3 hours in New Bedford just now), it’s worth looking at ocean temperatures. There’s a hot little tongue in Arthur’s path.

    (I’m sure there are better sources, but I find Masters’ blog comments to be a detailed and up to the minute resources and this world map is very informative for those who like to look outside their narrow geography.)

    Meanwhile, what’s sad is that weather forecasters are not mentioning how weird this is in the context of climate change.

  27. 27
    Susan Anderson says:

    Oh dear, should have mentioned that experts are saying this is *not* a harbinger of a busy hurricane season. I find it useful to remember that weather events characteristic of the overall trend are blocked patterns, out of season events, and hybrids.

  28. 28
    Chris Dudley says:

    Colin (#15)

    “What charities do people recommend as effective in the global warming / climate change space? What seem like some of the most efficient ways to use donor dollars?”

    Because this is an emerging problem, groups that have been at it the longest have had the most leverage and have gained in effectiveness owing to that. Groups engaged in preserving wilderness, for example, have done a great deal without even thinking much about warming. Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club are examples. Greenpeace, by sponsoring research on solutions, has been very effective as well.

    But, getting an early start does not mean effectiveness will continue. The Sierra Club, by sponsoring litigation and working locally has pretty much brought an end to new coal plants. So, it is interesting that they are now starting on a Beyond Natural Gas campaign. This may well lead to faster emissions cuts in the US than currently planned. As the world’s second largest emitter, that is a good leverage point. Rain Forrest Action Network may have the most leverage now in the wilderness preservation space.

    On the other hand, these organizations probably don’t have that much reach into the world’s largest emitter where action is most needed. Al Gore’s organization has been active there as have and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Because native activists for just about any cause face jail, massacres and retaliation against family members there, these outside efforts may be the best approach though more likely it will take the mechanisms of international law to bring change swiftly enough.

    Locally, I notice that Chesapeake Climate Action Network gets a lot done and leverages donations with grants.

  29. 29
    Russell says:

    It takes two to tango-where wouls combustion be without oxygen ?

    Absent the biological generation of the reactive gas , fossil fuel burning could contribute but little to the environmental evolution of the Anthropocene.

    So instead of debating whether the Antropocene is good, bad or ugly, let us give due credit to the species whose newfangled powers of photosynthesis have made the atmospheric oxidation of carbon possible :

    Welcome to the Aerobocene Eon!

  30. 30
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Christopher Hogan — 2 Jul 2014 @ 11:15 AM, ~#3 and others

    OK, Christopher and others commenting on my post, here is my big picture understanding of the ocean absorption of CO2 issue. I welcome you or anyone else to correct my errors.

    The short term natural CO2 cycle is not relevant. Whatever CO2 released by decomposing and animal waste from plants was absorbed from the atmosphere by plants for their growth in the recent past. Current release balances with ongoing absorption. This can be biased a little by how much of this carbon is stored permanently, such as in soil or permanent forests.

    The long term cycle of CO2 is very slow and this is why there is so much concern about excess CO2 lingering in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years.

    On the human time scale, release of fossil CO2 is absorbed and stored in the ocean based on the partial pressure across the air water interface. Any suggestion that the amount of CO2 taken up by the ocean is some fixed amount is wrong. When fossil CO2 increases atmospheric concentrations it comes into equilibrium with that in the oceans mostly over about a year, but continues slowly over around 10 years. At equilibrium, about half of the added atmospheric CO2 balances with the increased concentration with the other half in the ocean. Because the CO2 is “seeking” equilibrium, half is left in the atmosphere whether the amount added to the atmosphere is a large or small amount.

    One other important factor is ocean mixing. When atmospheric CO2 equilibrates with the ocean it is only entering surface water. Because mixing is relatively slow, although important in the human time scale, when deeper waters mix with the surface it can now absorb more CO2. All of this helps understand the Meinshausen (2006) graph used by Gavin in Real Climate essay linked above (currently # 2).

    In the graph the zero emission temperature plot, after an overshoot, declines much faster than might be expected by the long term carbon cycle but still pretty slow. It can (mostly?) be explained by ocean mixing. Similarly, the feasible 70% emissions reduction plot for temperature levels out at just below 2 deg. C even though there is still around 30% entering, and 15% remaining, in the atmosphere. If one accepts the feasible scenario, we, the developed world, would have to make up almost all of this 70% and we are definitely not currently at a safe level as suggested by Chris Dudley.


  31. 31
    Chris Dudley says:

    Christopher (#3),

    It is not by chance. It is our large emissions which bring about the large sequestration. If we had not put it so out of equilibrium, there would not be such a contrast in partial pressure.

  32. 32
    Chris Dudley says:

    Susan (#26),

    Masters did mention the Gulf Stream is warmer than usual. It is speculation on my part that there could be a discernible signal of a broader hurricane season. North Carolina is a nice place to sample because it is such a target but there is more coastline than that.

  33. 33
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    26 Susan Anderson. I’ll fill you in as to what our weather systems are doing..or rather ‘not’ doing in SE Queensland Australia. For well over the past 5-6 months our weather patterns seem to be dropping into narcoleptic states dominated by blocking highs in the pacific causing stagnant highs to remain over us for weeks at a time. The pattern every day from feb to mid june had been ‘possibility of a couple showers’. 9/10 those showers never eventuated. Now it’s finally in a boring winter pattern again dominated by very slow moving W-E highs. You might be aware of the myriad weather records that were smashed in queensland last year, again due to blocking highs causing record long periods of extreme temps to hover over us for weeks. Most of queensland is still undergoing record drought conditions as I type.
    To me it seems very much like Rossby patterns are behind this utter weirdness. It’s begun to change noticeably during at least the past 15 years. I hope my observations are supportive of your findings. Cheers!

  34. 34
    John Pollack says:

    Chris @23 Careful! Hurricane Arthur is only the the earliest landfalling hurricane on record in NC if your records don’t go back very far. It is not a poster child for climate change. From David Ludlum’s Early American Hurricanes p. 118 about the hurricane on June 3, 1825:
    “Along the Outer Banks of North Carolina the hurricane lashed at shipping and settlements. The post surgeon at Fort Johnston at Cape Fear reported ‘a very high wind & storm which lasted 30 hours. Wind south.’ A press dispatch from Adams Creek told of very heavy losses with crops destroyed and cattle drowned as the storm tide rose 14 feet above low water to engulf fields and barns.” No anemometers back then, but it sounds worse than what Arthur just did.

  35. 35
    MARodger says:

    DP @11.
    You ask “is it true that the Atmosphere has a natural level of co2 concentration that it tries to return too?”
    “Natural level” is probably not the best way to describe it. Perhaps this is better:- The carbon on this planet will always be seeking a happy home but when things get busy (like you transport 550GtC out from geology and dump it into the atmosphere) there will be a long waiting list. Also, some of those ‘happy homes’ are leasehold of varying lease periods so carbon dissolved into the deep ocean is committed there (however overcrowded the accommodation) for a millenium.

    You are correct with your second question (although is ‘forcing’ the correct word to use?) As Christopher Hogan @3 states, the ~5GtC lost from the atmosphere into the biosphere & oceans is not the simple result of the previous year’s carbon emissions but a result of the accumulated emissions over many years. So if we did stop emitting carbon tomorrow, there would be still a ~5 GtC annual lost from the atmosphere but that loss would decrease year-on-year until a ‘steady state’ is reached. At that point, in about 1,000 years, ~20% of our total emissions would remain in the atmosphere, although that ~20% figure for the remnant does creep up as the quantity of CO2 we release gets bigger. After the ~1,000 years, the processes slow down and the queue for a ‘happy home’ becomes tens of thousands of years long.
    The usual reference on this is to some David Archer paper, eg eg. Archer et al (2009)

    jim Larsen @19.
    To be clear, if CO2 levels were maintained by balancing emissions with the sequestration from the atmosphere, the planet’s ‘equilibrium temperature’ would not rise but current temperatures would have to rise to reach that equilibrium level.

  36. 36
    DIOGENES says:

    The video above is the most important one on climate change that I have seen.

  37. 37
    Tony Weddle says:

    Jim Larsen,

    It’s my understanding that the earth is not in thermal equilibrium, right now, so that a 50% reduction in CO2 would not stop temperatures rising for a while. Aside from CO2, of course, humans are putting other powerful GHGs into the atmosphere and there are positive feedbacks which will continue to warm the planet further.

    It’s an academic notion, anyway, since it isn’t going to happen any time soon (at least not voluntarily).

  38. 38
    David Miller says:

    Gavin, welcome back! And let me add a late congratulations on your promotion.

    In #1 I was confusing all three missions – Glory is to give much more detailed data on aerosols, while DSCOVR gives a summary. I’m thrilled to see that DSCOVR is to be launched in January.

    My impression is that by tracking overall albedo, DSCOVR is key to determining the transient climate sensitivity. We know how much radiation comes from the sun, and we know the effects of CO2, but there are pretty large error bars on aerosols that this mission could help with. Is that even close to the truth?

  39. 39
    Edward Greisch says:

    15 Colin Rust: Don’t believe anything said by Chris Dudley. Search “Legal Defense” on this web site to find the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.
 Their snail mail address is:
    Climate Science Legal Defense Fund
    c/o PEER
    2000 P Street, NW #240

    Washington, D.C. 20036

    28 Chris Dudley: GW is not an emerging problem. GW has emerged. GW was emerging in the 19th century.
    Greenpeace is a group to stay away from. The Sierra Club is marginal. The Rocky Mountain Institute is an advertising agency; for who is debatable. Etcetera.
    Stick with defending the real scientists at RealClimate by contributing only to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.

  40. 40
    Chris Dudley says:

    Another Coral Davenport piece (with Micheal Barbaro) seems to indicate some hostility toward the climate cause. It seems like a way to channel fossil fuel operatives’ ad hominum attacks without even interviewing their target.

    It is worth remembering how Bucky Fuller viewed this sort of thing: the wealth from fossil fuels will build our independence from them.

  41. 41
    Eliot Axelrod says:

    I noticed this article from Reuters today –

    Any commnets?

  42. 42
    Eliot Axelrod says:

    I noticed the following article on Reuters today about El Nino –

    Any comments?

  43. 43
    Peter Thorne says:

    DF @9

    this comes up perenially. I wrote something on this the last time it came up. Its available at It explains why NCDC (and by extension GISS) do what they do.


  44. 44
    simon abingdon says:

    #26 Susan Anderson “what’s sad is that weather forecasters are not mentioning how weird this is in the context of climate change”

    It isn’t.

  45. 45
    Tim Beatty says:

    @Susan Anderson – It’s actually better not to yell “Climate Change” in the crowded theater at every event. An “early landfalling hurricane in North Carolina” seems a bit too specific to attribute to climate change. More likely, normal steering high and low pressure systems, which continue in any climate scenario. Just like last years hurricane season was below average despite favorable Gulf of Mexico SSTs and no El Nino. This year is expecting an El Nino to develop which may make tropical storm development more difficult. We lack the tools/ability to even forecast these storms in the near term and trends that are outside the margin of error have not developed. Setting expectations of specific weather events (or clusters of related events) by tying them to climate change tends to discredit climate change science in the mind of the public. Hurricane season outlooks, yearly sea ice predictions, tornado counts, ENSO watches, etc, etc are interesting sidelights but high variability makes them unsuitable for CC attribution. It’s not that CC won’t affect these things in the long term, rather when Climate Scientists make bold predictions on 50/50 propositions (or less) and are wrong, the public doesn’t distinguish “wrong this year” from “wrong this century.” It’s a slippery slope to attribute weather phenomena and forecasts to Climate Change and Murphy is Mother Nature’s son.

  46. 46
    Colin Rust says:

    Chris Dudley (#26), thanks for the reply.

    The Rainforest Action Network seems quite similar to Cool Earth. At least on a quick google, I don’t see any estimates of their cost per acre or cost per tonne of CO2 equivalent averted (leaving aside the other benefits). Any sense of what those are? FWIW, Giving What You Can estimates that it costs $1.34/tonne of C02 averted with Cool Earth (see p.4 of their report on Cool Earth; per acre it’s $109 to $126). They found that to be the most efficient of the three charities they analyzed, after an initial scan of promising charities. The other two were Sandbag, which buys credits in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and Solar Aid which sells solar lights in rural Africa, seeking to replace kerosene lamps.

    Has anyone else done analysis similar to Giving What You Can where they try to estimate the benefit say in price per tonne of CO2 equivalent from various global warming charities? (In all honesty, I had only vaguely heard of Giving What You Can before I googled this. My impression is they seem pretty credible.)

  47. 47
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    #15 Colin Rust

    You can do some web research and find out what the environmental groups are doing. The big green groups are up front about their global warming campaigns and have pages about them. For example Audubon:

    What is best is something of an personal choice. I am partial to using lawsuits to get the US to take action, so I like groups that do a lot to try to leverage change in the courts, such as Earthjustice. Other groups tend to take different strategies, like protests, like The Nature Conservancy also uses more market type solutions, such as buying land and keeping it preserved. Some, like the Environmental Defense Fund, are more cooperative with the political right to try and bridge their differences. That being said, the large groups again generally tend to practice an all-of-the-above approach and cooperate with each other.

    #28 Chris Dudley

    Another one of the big groups that is trying to work in China is the NRDC.

  48. 48
    Chris Dudley says:

    Colin (#43),

    I think those are some useful metrics. I don’t think they work for the groups I mention because 1) some of them do more than just climate, and 2) their leverage often comes from activism. A campaign to keep coal plants from being built is only a step on the way to making national policy such that coal plants won’t be built, for example. Time and treasure devoted to that is probably the most effective thing to do, but the avoided emissions per dollar may not be easy to calculate.

    That said, helping out with clean development does more than just avoid emissions, it also helps with development and alleviates poverty. So, the dollar per avoided emissions metric doesn’t give a complete picture there either.

    Just at the moment, divestment is a nice way to shun fossil fuel companies and some funds are working out how to make money without holding fossil fuel interests. If you can’t decide on a charity, invest in a couple of those to give them some encouragement until you can decide. You should have more to give after that, though as I said, early effort has more leverage than later effort.

  49. 49
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Hmmm, A hurricane that makes landfall as a hurricane in Newfoundland prior to August…yeah, that’s something different.

  50. 50
    Chris Dudley says:

    So, Greenpeace working on climate issues in 1997. Ho hum….