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Unforced variations: Nov 2014

Filed under: — group @ 2 November 2014

This month’s open thread. In honour of today’s New York Marathon, we are expecting the fastest of you to read and digest the final IPCC Synthesis report in sub-3 hours. For those who didn’t keep up with the IPCC training regime, the Summary for Policy Makers provides a more accessible target.

Also in the news, follow #ArcticCircle2014 for some great info on the Arctic Circle meeting in Iceland.

410 Responses to “Unforced variations: Nov 2014”

  1. 1
    Pekka says:

    Apparently neither of the reports mentions the words “carbon budget” and the summary for policy makers does not mention the word “budget” at all (longer version only mentions the word “budget” as in “heat budget”). This was one of the formulations that some governments (and presumably oil and coal companies) wanted removed. apparently they succeeded! Is IPCC a sell-out for allowing the governments to tinker with the report so much? Which governments/representatives were responsible? Time to name and shame (all representatives are listed in the report cover, which supported removing the words “carbon budget”?)

  2. 2
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Just a comment I wrote too late for Oct open thead:

    “… althogh I’m not used to seeing it from that angle” … Good point!
    Five days old … It means a crescent Moon, a couple of days before the 1/4, I presume (in Spanish we don´t say it that way)
    (“this could all be part of the fake moon landing conspiracy”: no comments …)
    Anybody else has a more or less informed guess?

  3. 3
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid — 2 Nov 2014 @ 9:43 AM, ~#2

    If you fit a circle outline to the earth image such that it abuts the visible arc, the portion that wouldn’t be illuminated would provide a pretty good estimate of the the shape of the visible sliver of the moon as seen from the earth in this view. A couple more questions:

    Why would using the divergence from sphericity of the moon image in the picture be a poorer estimate of the illuminated portion of the moon as seen from the earth?

    How would the estimate be affected if the point of reference (camera position) had lined up the earth and moon?


  4. 4

    #1–Not correct; for instance, I found this in Chapter 1 of the WG 3 report (which is the one concerned with mitigation, after all):

    “Many scholars who use this approach to analyzing historical responsibility and similar approaches to assessing possible future contributions often refer to a fixed ‘carbon budget’ and identify the ‘gap’ between that fixed budget and allowable future emissions (e.g., IPCC, 2013b; UNEP, 2011b; Chapter 6).”

    P. 33

    I will say that it took longer to find that reference than I would have expected, given the play the concept got in the WG 3 ‘free-standing’ report.

  5. 5
    Russell says:

    As if the Climate Wars weren’t partisan enough, a new development in palaeomagnetics threatens to polarize matters even further !

  6. 6
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #3 Steve Fish
    Thank you. Few people “dare” reply … Not easy to “see” (or imagine) in 3D. But it´s good to exercise our brains!
    Perhaps because English is not my mother tongue, I don´t trust my opinion of your two first paragraphs.
    I´ll put my ideas starting with your last paragraph. If Earth, Moon and camera were in line, it´s clear that what seen from the Earth would be just the reverse of what seen from the camera. With the same image of the link that would app. mean 30 degrees of illuminated Moon.
    To estimate that we shouldn´t forget that the narrow part of the Moon night “seen” from the camera isn´t actually so narrow, because it´s seen from the camera tangentialy. This is connected with your first question, I presume.
    Both Moon and Earth illuminated surfaces are half spheres, whose axes of symetry are pointing at the Sun …
    With that we can imagine a triangle Sun-Eart-Moon (very narrow: the Sun is relatively very very far). With that and the actual position of the camera, I would estimate that the illuminated part of the Moon seen from the Earth is 30 (not seen from the camera) +45 to 60 degrres (left side seen also from the camera).
    “Uncertainty”: we don´t know what objective was used … That makes impossible to be more precise.
    So, as far as I can “see”, the phase is near to 1/4.
    But, one last question: crescent or waning?

  7. 7
    Chris Dudley says:

    With the adoption of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) in AR5, carbon budgets are specified, but are ultimately made obsolete since not only is the overall amount of carbon specified by a pathway but, through its derivative, also the emissions profile with time.

    Since climate damage has begun to occur, this is probably a necessary elaboration since the duration of the high concentration we are experiencing today is likely proportional to the number of fatalities that will occur. That there remains an emissions cushion for RCP2.6, that would avoid mass extinction of species, does not really impact the need to look at how introducing negative emissions sooner might limit human casualties which count person-by-person rather than species-by-species as is customary in ecological ethics.

  8. 8
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid — 3 Nov 2014 @ 5:05 AM, ~#6

    Presumably what you are asking is whether the crescent moon is waxing (increasing) or waning (decreasing). Assuming that the photo is printed north up the illuminated crescent of the moon as seen from the earth would be on the right side, so it would be a waxing crescent near first quarter. One could also figure this out on the basis of the counterclockwise orbit.

    I hope I got this correct. Steve

  9. 9
    Victor says:

    My latest blog post on the global warming controversy:

    Sharpen your knives and dig in, folks. I’ll be waiting.

  10. 10
    wheelsoc says:

    I bet we’ll get a more complete write-up on this a little later as RC’s Eric Steig is a contributing author, but a new study has just been published which examines CO2 and methane in very high-resolution ice cores from Antarctica covering the last deglaciation.

    In improving our understanding of the timing of CO2 concentration changes, it lends more strength to the conclusion that atmospheric CO2 increases and temperature rise did not happen with a great deal of lag, which is in line with some recent previous studies. So this is more evidence that rising CO2 levels were not preceded by centuries of warming, at least for the period being studied.

    Since their conclusion mentions a potential role for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC, not to be confused with the AMO) in abrupt releases of CO2 (~10-15ppm over centennial scales) in the past, and that this potential mechanism isn’t fully appreciated in Earth System Models yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if the paper was widely spun by the deniosphere as evidence that the models are junk and global warming is natural, not us.

    That’s assuming they can get past the fact that the lead author is Shaun Marcott and choose not to dismiss it derisively as another “alarmist” paper from the Hockeystick Wheelchair guy, or indeed if they even acknowledge the paper’s existence at all.

  11. 11
    vukcevic says:

    At first instance it appears that the summer CET (LP filter) may encompass both natural unforced (solar) and forced (aerosols and excess CO2) variability.

  12. 12

    The monthly cycle begins anew: the UAH update preview from Dr. Spencer is out. October’s anomaly was .37 C, which, if I’m not missing something as I, er, troll through past records is in a tie with 2012 for the warmest October in the record.



  13. 13
    Hank Roberts says:

    In case there’s someone left on Earth who’s missed this:
    Monty Python: The Argument Clinic: Director’s Cut

  14. 14
    sidd says:

    Re:IPCC report

    i am disappointed at the uncertainty ranges in figs 2.2d and 2.8c . Even given that the recent work (Rignot on PIG comes to mind) was unavailable before close of review period, sub 1m SLR by 2100 was implausible, at least to my mind.

    o vell.


  15. 15
    Tony Weddle says:

    Victor, I don’t think your blog post is worthy of a comment other than to say that your “even if CO2 has little or nothing to do with it” marks it as a science-free post.

  16. 16
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #8 Steve Fish
    I see I wrongly used “crescent” instead of “waxing”. You know, “creciente” in Spanish is the adjective we use for something that grows (up), that increases … And we say “Luna en cuarto creciente” …
    Somebody could have answered without your assumption, without keeping in mind that in the space terms such as up and down have no meaning by themselves … Even if there had been a photographer and the picture showed the view as he saw it, we should not assume earth north is up. The earth was cloudy when the picture was taken, and its not possible to be sure which sense is right.
    A modern Sherlock Holmes would analize moon craters and perhaps … Although it would be difficult, because craters are more or lees visible depending on the angle of incidence of light beams.
    A last consideration. You say “… illuminated crescent of the moon as seen from the earth would be on the right side…”, the way it´s usually expressed.
    I prefer to say that as moon moves EASTWARD, next day it would be farther from the sun, and more illuminated part of the moon would be vissible fron earth …
    In Spanish we say “D” / “C” > the opposite: “Creciente” / “Decreciente” (we actually say “menguante”= shrinking)
    But that is right only for us people on north hemisphere … For people “below” the ecuator it is the opposite, and for people near the ecuator the illuminated part would be up or down, even differently in mornings and afternoons …
    Similarly, “counterclockwise orbit” is only “50 % correct” …
    Sorry if it seems I´m bragging. It´s not my intention. I just enjoy ruminating on that sort of things. Needless to say that I usually start with some wrong idea …

  17. 17
    Mal Adapted says:

    Victor: “Sharpen your knives and dig in, folks. I’ll be waiting.”

    Meh. One visit to Victor’s blog was enough for me. Life’s too short.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Chris Dudley says:

    Here’s a creative idea on divestment: create an alternative endowment until the traditional endowment divests.

  20. 20
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Moon
    North is at the top in the picture, it matches the published map. North for Earth and the Moon are closely aligned; you can identify Antarctica. The picture was taken during the week between the launch date and the landing. That’s enough information to be sure what’s pictured.

    > Victor

  21. 21
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Moon — North is up, check the Moon’s published maps;
    > Earth — Antarctica is visible; Victor fail.

  22. 22
    Hank Roberts says:

    > we should not assume earth north is up.

    Why bother arguing the definition of “up”?

    The picture was taken within the week between launch and return. You can see Antarctica; the Moon’s craters match the published maps. That’s sufficient information to understand the photo.


    > Victor Fail

  23. 23
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oops. Sea ice radiates heat away much better than sea water does.

    Dammit, we’ve broken the radiator, degrading our cooling system.

    Far-infrared surface emissivity and climate

  24. 24
    SecularAnimist says:

    Victor wrote: “My latest blog post on the global warming controversy: …”

    Oh, look, another self-promoting denier exploiting RealClimate to get blog hits.

    How thrilling.

  25. 25
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #12 Kevin McKinney
    Have you realized Dr Spencer +0.37ºC October anomaly is relative to the three decades 1981/2010 average? Half of that period would be 1995/1996. Although +0.37ºC is a single month average datum … that is a huge increase in less than two decades !!!

  26. 26
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hm. ReCaptcha rejected the comment 4 Nov 2014 at 12:42 PM — but it got into the moderation queue and showed up!

    So did the corrected comment at 4 Nov 2014 at 12:51 PM
    Sorry for the mangle.

  27. 27

    I just want to share with you guys, that São Paulo state, here in Brazil is having one of the most dry season in 50 years. People are suffering cause water do not reach their homes anymore. Due to a lack of rain at last summer, and bad administration of our natural resources ass well, the richiest state in the country is almost out of water. The biggest resorvoir of water in the state is with only 3% of it’s capacity. Last week we had a little of rain down here, and the resorvoir kept it’s 3% capacity. Let’s all hope the rain starts poring down here, and stop with climates change!!!

  28. 28

    #24–Rafael–Yes, I know the baseline. I’m not that excited about the calculation you make, though–the way you’re thinking about it would suggest .17 per decade, which would be roughly what the surface record shows in calculating by the normal OLS method. (Though it’s higher than the UAH trend, so calculated, which is roughly .13 C/decade.) So overall, given the volatility of monthly values, I don’t think that that this value is a shocker.

  29. 29
    Danny Thomas says:

    First, I posted this within an inappropriate thread and it was suggested that I move it here. I’m doing so, but have modified the original post substantially.

    On that previous posting, I dumbed down who I am more than I should have as I don’t want to come across as more well versed in the topic of Climate Change for an initial post, but I wish to show a bit stronger basis than I did before.

    I’ve explored the basics. I’m not a scientist and never will be. My career was in sales, but I’ve spent the past approximately 7 years traveling the U.S. And much of that time I’ve been a volunteer at several National Wildlife Refuges in Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, and Florida. I’ve had successful businesses. I’m a left leaning independent, but conservative fiscally. I recycle religiously, and pick up the trash of others and have done so for years. This is only offered to share that I really care about others and our planet.

    My perspectives.

    Websites I’ve explored include, NOAA, National Academy of Sciences, EPA , USDA, USFWS, and numerous others.

    I’m testing the waters on blogs trying to wade through the politics to uncover perspectives. I’ll never be a scientist, but can think reasonably critically. This is my first exploration of Real Science. I’m monitoring Watts and Judith Curry. I’m aware of Dr. Spencer’s, but only lightly. I don’t rely on main stream media other than sometimes I find they’re pretty good about “breaking news”. And, I have an activist AGW buddy who’s been involved since about 1998.

    As a concerned citizen and voter, I feel it’s my duty to make informed decisions and that’s what leads me to this quest. One of my oldest friends is deeply absorbed in this topic and we don’t agree on the interpretation regarding many of the subsectors of the conversation. His tendency is to “impose” his beliefs and he is amazingly closed minded about other perspectives. Having said that, it’s due to his persistence that I’m on this quest so I must give him credit for that.

    I want to preface my comments with letting you know I’ve spent a few days on Watts and taken a firm beating (would be happy to provide a link or two if that would add to my credibility). I kinda expect the same to happen here because folks tend to let emotions take over. I’ve found Curry’s blog to be accepting of reasonably presented discussion.
    So I’ll ask that you and others here bear with me as I’m just beginning my journey towards an understanding of Climate Change and I have to start with a basic question for which I can’t get a concrete answer. Where is it proven that CO2 causes global warming? I’m likely to appear skeptical (and frankly I am) as my impression of science is that this should be easily provable because it’s the “centerpiece” of the communication from the AGW side of the discussion. My seriously AGW buddy (and I can provide his website, he’s given permission) said (para mine) I don’t know, go to the National Academy of Science. I’ve gone there and there is some evidence, but no definitive conclusion. I’ve gone to IPCC and get the same. Google, same. Watt (of course it’s NOT AT ALL a bad thing there–as if breathing on Venus would be easy for us humans LOL.). JC, eh, maybe, maybe not. I can’t for the life of me understand how if that is unsettled IPCC can say we have to cut it to the extent proposed. I can see it can be seen as pollutive at some level, but I don’t see it at today’s level. I’ve been to the NOAA Mauna Loa site to run the numbers for myself. Yes, it’s increasing, and that increase has increased in the past decade. But if it’s such a known why is it still debated? And more importantly, it’s the heart of all the policy (we must stop emitting CO2 and indeed must reduce what we’ve already put in to the atmosphere or perish) then surely we can prove it’s happening.

    I understand that too much of a good thing, (and CO2 is a good thing to a point) can be bad. But my AGW buddy states we can remove CO2 for the cost of “health care in the U.S. from 2000-2004”. Well if we cannot prove CO2 is the cause of global warming (and I believe warming is occurring due to melting glaciers, extending growing seasons, et al) then why would we not then spend those funds on more health care (as an example)? Historic evidence indicates there is a least an equal possibility that global warming is natural as there is that CO2 causes warming.
    So many out there have already made determinations, on both sides. It’s thick with politics. But seemingly there is so much riding on such a basic question that I’m frankly confused as to why there is no definitive irrefutable answer.
    I don’t wanna stir things up, I’m no troll. There is no place for those of us beginning this quest. There is AGW, and “absolutely not” sides. There are some in what I perceive as “the middle” (accepting Global warming is occurring based on evidence, but unclear if cause is natural or man caused or maybe even a bit of both). I’m in that middle. But those of us on a quest, especially without a degree in physics, chemistry, oceanography or others, are often castigated (from both sides) as both sides have assumptions that we’re not seeking education but are trolls or the like. This is not a failing of those of us brave enough to put ourselves out here, but is a failing of those with preconceptions. And, this leaves out probably the largest majority of the voters (or potential voters).
    I see there is psychology of Global Warming communication and that bothers me as I’m not aware of something like that for say, chemistry or physics. I come from a sales background and selling an intangible requires some psychology. This should be tangible and it bothers me that it’s not. I understand that climate study is complicated, but so is physics.
    And I’m not understanding why There’s a Watts side, and Judith Curry side and a Real Science side. But since there is, why aren’t folks here over there and folks there over here? Maybe it’s simply my ignorance, but the kind of rancor and debate that occurs regarding climate science does not seemingly occur in say, chemistry.
    I can’t use denier because my perception is very few deny global warming but do deny it’s causes. But there are reasonable discussions (as well as unreasonable attacks) of some of the evidence for AGW.
    The science seems far from settled. Am I missing something (I’m sure I’m missing A LOT)?
    The “skeptical”side tells me they “don’t have to prove anything” and that comes across as a cop out. The AGW side tells me there is nothing more important than climate change when there are other issues on the top of peoples list such as ISIS, politics, Ebola, debt/deficit, jobs, and so on. Yet the AGW side suggests all other issues be put aside and all focus (financially) must be put in to removing CO2 from the atmosphere when CO2 is not proven (but only via effectively an educated guess) to be “the cause” of global warming. This bothers me to no end.
    Reminder, I’m just beginning developing my understanding. It’s a tough ask, but can you or others approach this with me from that perspective. I’m cringing by hitting the submit button.
    It’s been suggested that I start in the “start here” section of this site, and I’ll visit there, but I’m not a total novice and have lots of concerns. I’m seeking the balanced conversation that those on both sides say is absolutely the wrong choice, but seeing the politics I’m “skeptical” of both sides.
    Thanks in advance and apologies for the wordiness.

  30. 30
    Hank Roberts says:

    From the Abstract of the paper I linked above:

    A variety of radiative transfer techniques have been used to model the far-IR spectral emissivities of surface types defined by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. Incorporating these far-IR surface emissivities into the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario of the Community Earth System Model leads to discernible changes in the spatial patterns of surface temperature, OLR, and frozen surface extent. The model results differ at high latitudes by as much as 2°K, 10 W m−2, and 15%, respectively, after only 25 y of integration. Additionally, the calculated difference in far-IR emissivity between ocean and sea ice of between 0.1 and 0.2, suggests the potential for a far-IR positive feedback for polar climate change.

    This article contains supporting information online at</code?

  31. 31
    Thomas says:

    Hank @22. I had seen that. But your link to the abstract allowed me to see some numbers. Sounds like a potentially important positive feedback. I suspect this is still pretty tentative however, real measurements of actual ground truth will be needed to verify it. But, if it checks out, the cooling effect of snow/ice cover has been significantly underestimated*.

    * This is of course bad news, as warming leads to less snow/ice cover, which cuts long IR emiisivity….

  32. 32
    Jim Larsen says:

    22 Hank R said, “Oops. Sea ice radiates heat away much better than sea water does.”

    Sea ice acts as an insulator. Did you mean “reflects”?

  33. 33
    Edward Greisch says:

    26 Guilherme Paggiaro says: 4 Nov 2014 at 2:51 PM: Your drought is important news.

    The Southwestern US is having a drought also, but we have a record high corn and soybean crop in the Midwest.
    What happens to agriculture is the important thing.

  34. 34
    wili says:

    “One big loser in this election? Climate policy.”

    Perhaps sites like this should devote the month before an election to get-out-the-vote efforts? Politics can be quite ugly, but it has a huge effect on climate and climate research.

  35. 35
  36. 36

    Danny, you said that “Historic evidence indicates there is a least an equal possibility that global warming is natural as there is that CO2 causes warming.”

    See more at:

    I don’t see that–how can ‘historic evidence’ speak to the causes of an historically unique situation? We have never been in a situation like this one, quite literally.

    On the other hand, climatic *paleo*-history would, I think, provide good reasons for thinking just the opposite: that is, we’ve never, in our existence as a species, lived in an atmosphere with 400 ppm of CO2. As I wrote in my summary review of Six Degrees:

    The Pliocene epoch, three million years before the present, was the last time global mean temperature was three degrees warmer than pre-Industrial. And during the Pliocene, atmospheric carbon dioxide was in the range of 360-400 ppm, according to studies of fossil leaves.

    That’s significant because modern carbon dioxide levels hit 400 ppm for the first time in 2013. In other words, our atmosphere already contains as much carbon dioxide as did the Pliocene version–and that was a world so different from ours that beech shrubs grew only 500 kilometers from the South Pole, in an area where the average temperature is -39 C today.

    Given that we see in the Antarctic ice core record a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature; that we have a very well-understood and thoroughly worked-out causal mechanism explaining why that association exists; and the reasonable assumption that what has been true for climate over the past several million years will likely still be true today–well, ‘we have a problem, Houston.’ But unlike highly trained professionals in a professional crisis (such as the Apollo 13 lunar mission), we don’t want to admit it.

  37. 37

    #32–Jim, read Hank’s link. We you said was what everybody thought *before* the linked study. What Hank wrote was what the new understanding may become, should their results be confirmed.

  38. 38
    Edward Greisch says:

    29 Danny Thomas: Start with

    This is a repeat of the experiment that Tyndall did in the year 1859. Tyndall’s 1859 experiment has been repeated innumerable times by science graduate students. Recording spectroscopes are common equipment in chemistry laboratories.

    Go to
    and take the course. This is the best of the free college courses on climate science that I know of. There are more climate science courses available at
    These are Massive Online Open Courses, MOOCs. Huge numbers of students can take a course for free. Some get college credit for a small fee.

    There is some epistemology that it would be good for everybody to know. Epistemology is the philosophy of how we know. The following epistemology is how scientists know:

    Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person’s head isn’t public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]
    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else.

    In the book: “Revolutionary Wealth” by Alvin & Heidi Toffler 2006 Chapter 19, FILTERING TRUTH, page 123 lists six commonly used filters people use to find the “truth”. They are:
    1. Consensus
    2. Consistency
    3. Authority
    4. Mystical revelation or religion
    5. Durability
    6. Science

    As the Tofflers say: “Science is different from all the other truth-test criteria. It is the only one that itself depends on rigorous testing.” They go on to say: “In the time of Galileo . . . the most effective method of discovery was itself discovered.” [Namely Science.] The Tofflers also say that: “The invention of scientific method was the gift to humanity of a new truth filter or test, a powerful meta-tool for probing the unknown and—it turned out—for spurring technological change and economic progress.” All of the difference in the way we live now compared to the way people lived and died 500 years ago is due to Science.

  39. 39
    Jasper Jaynes says:

    In the midterm elections, we had about 40% voter turnout, and about half voted for candidates who essentially don’t recognize the existence of man-made climate change. In other words, only about 20% of the eligible electorate voted for candidates who give at least lip service to the importance of climate change. That’s like having a basketball team with one player who wants to win.

  40. 40
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Any thoughts on the current election results in the U.S. and any impact it might have on further climate legislation? Keystone pipeline? etc.

  41. 41
    DHouck says:

    I would suggest two things.
    1) Spend some time at Skeptical Science as they have excellent information on many of your questions/concerns.
    2) As you believe the world is warming, ask yourself, where is the energy coming from? Even from “natural variation” there has to be extra energy year to year for the world to warm, and its been warming for quite awhile.

    The hard science of why CO2 causes warming is very straight forward and not in dispute. That it is causing most of the observed warming is based on both empirical measurements and mathematical modelling. No one has shown another factor, other than CO2, that can explain the measured worldwide temperature increase that has been observed. There are only five or six factors, solar radiation, volcanoes, aerosols, carbon soot, green house gases (CO2, water vapor, methane, etc.), land use changes, that can change the energy balance on this planet. All of this factors have been looked at ad-infinitum and there is a wealth of information on the web for each and everyone, and yes they all have some bearing on the planets temperature. While CO2 is not the only reason for the changes to the planet’s climate, only CO2, by far, can produce the temperature changes the world has experienced. Its not complicated, and remember, energy is conservative, it has to balance.

    Hope that helps.

  42. 42
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Danny #29,
    I sympathize to an extent seeing that I often don’t agree with either “side” myself… but I think you should reconsider your assumptions because the way you’re approaching the issue is flawed and self-defeating.

    First things first: your focus is misguided. It doesn’t matter much whether CO2 is causing the warming we’re seeing. CO2 is very likely to be a problem in the long run regardless of the small changes we’re seeing now (warming or cooling).
    If we were currently experiencing cooling due to volcanic activity or fast warming due to arctic CH4, would that make us unable to grasp the more serious problem CO2 would likely to cause down the road? Of course not.

    Second, this isn’t about proofs. It’s about risk management.
    Since you bring up health care, think about the causes of cancer: you don’t prove that any particular can cancer is caused by a particular risk factor. And you have confounding information like this: Does that mean smoking isn’t the problem after all? Or that your doctor needs to be able to explain the differences in morbidity among smoking populations? Would you require proofs that smoking would cause you to develop cancer and that quitting would prevent that before taking her advice? Of course not.

    Lastly, most people do not fit into your AGW/middle/skeptic boxes. These boxes are the product of a social microcosm. Outside of single-issue forums, there are actually very few people who would say that “there is nothing more important than climate change”.
    And people make decisions every day about issues more complex than climate based on more abstract models and more uncertain data. I dare say your concerns about science communication are propaganda-driven.
    The hard part is adaptation/mitigation, not climate science. I would be way more skeptical about what your “AGW buddy” claims about how “we can remove CO2”. Compare the track record of economists and earth scientists!

    If you’re not happy with the way the issues are discussed in the few places you’ve visited, keep looking. You could also create your own forum or simply invite reasonable people you’ve met to contribute to a special-purpose thread on an established forum.

  43. 43
    Hank Roberts says:

    No, Jim, you’ve confused radiation with convection.
    Read the linked article, don’t rely on my paraphrase.

  44. 44
    Hank Roberts says:

    The information about better data on far-IR emissivity of ice is of interest both for the Arctic (sea level change from ice to open water) and the Antarctic:
    Chen, X., X. Huang, and M. G. Flanner (2014), Sensitivity of modeled far-IR radiation budgets in polar continents to treatments of snow surface and ice cloud radiative properties, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6530–6537, doi:10.1002/2014GL061216.

    … in the far IR, snow surface emissivity can vary considerably and ice clouds can cause nonnegligible scattering. These effects are more important for high-elevation polar continents where the dry and cold atmosphere is not opaque in the far IR. We carry out sensitivity studies to show that in a winter month over the Antarctic Plateau including snow surface spectral emissivity and ice cloud scattering in radiative transfer calculation reduces net upward far-IR flux at both top of atmosphere and surface. The magnitudes of such reductions in monthly mean all-sky far-IR flux range from 0.72 to 1.47 Wm−2, with comparable contributions from the cloud scattering and the surface spectral emissivity. The reduction is also sensitive to sizes of both snow grains and cloud particles.

  45. 45
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Danny Thomas — 4 Nov 2014 @ 11:25 PM, ~#29

    Danny, the reason you are having a problem with the CO2-temperature relationship is that it has been understood for more than one hundred years and been validated by many thousands of laboratory, field, paleo, and planetary direct and dependent research articles since. This is why I suggested that you read Spencer Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming.” The physics of this relationship is so well established that your question is mostly only answered in textbooks.

    Two fun facts to look out for is that without the tiny amount of CO2 that is currently in the atmosphere the earth would be a snowball and the large amount that is in the atmosphere of Venus makes the surface temperature around 240 degrees F above the melting point of lead.


  46. 46
    Hank Roberts says:

    The info about better understanding far-infrared emissivity (radiation) of ice compared to open water in the Arctic is also relevant to infrared radiation from the “high-elevation polar continents where the dry and cold atmosphere is not opaque in the far IR.”

    Chen, X., X. Huang, and M. G. Flanner (2014), Sensitivity of modeled far-IR radiation budgets in polar continents to treatments of snow surface and ice cloud radiative properties, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6530–6537, doi:10.1002/2014GL061216.


    While most general circulation models assume spectrally independent surface emissivity and nonscattering clouds in their longwave radiation treatment, spectral variation of the index of refraction of ice indicates that in the far IR, snow surface emissivity can vary considerably and ice clouds can cause nonnegligible scattering. These effects are more important for high-elevation polar continents where the dry and cold atmosphere is not opaque in the far IR. We carry out sensitivity studies to show that in a winter month over the Antarctic Plateau including snow surface spectral emissivity and ice cloud scattering in radiative transfer calculation reduces net upward far-IR flux at both top of atmosphere and surface. The magnitudes of such reductions in monthly mean all-sky far-IR flux range from 0.72 to 1.47 Wm−2, with comparable contributions from the cloud scattering and the surface spectral emissivity. The reduction is also sensitive to sizes of both snow grains and cloud particles.

  47. 47
    DHouck says:

    @29 DT
    There is a plethora of information on Climate Change out there, all answering the questions you have. If you have spent the time you say you have and are still seeking confirmation that CO2 is warming the planet, then it may not be there for you. I wouldn’t worry about it and enjoy the conversations with your friends.

  48. 48
    David Miller says:

    Danny Thomas, you’re likely to be taken as a troll for expecting people to take their time to educate you.

    If you want to learn the basics, go to the home page and click ‘start here’.

    Posting things like “Historic evidence indicates there is a least an equal possibility that global warming is natural as there is that CO2 causes warming.” just show that you really don’t know anything about that which you’ve clearly already formed an opinion.

    Really. Educate yourself – don’t expect others to spoon feed you that which is readily available. is another resource. It’s particularly valuable at cutting through the anti-science noise.

  49. 49
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #20, 21 and 22
    “Why bother arguing the definition of “up”?”
    I was nor arguing about that definition … I said: “Even if there had been a photographer and the picture showed the view as he saw it, we should not assume earth north is up”, logicaly up in the sense of the photographer position. I also said: “in the space terms such as up and down have no meaning by themselves”
    You also say: “You can see Antarctica”
    I wouldn´t be so sure. Tangentially Antarctica should be seen smaller than that white area … It´s cloudy there.
    And although the white area on the opposite side could be the Arctic, and it seems to be too small to be Antarctica, the bluish area around it seems to cover too broad an area to be the Pacific around the Artic …

  50. 50
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hat tip to Scott Johnson at his blog FractalPlanet (paging David Archer …)

    SJ 11/05/2014 at 1:23 pm

    A couple new hydrate papers that may interest some people:
    —end quote—