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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. 51
    Danny Thomas says:

    #35 Dhouk,

    Is it there for you? As a basic foundation of the discussion here, on other blogs, numerous websites, discussion with friends, etc. it should be a simple google search (nor google scholar), but it’s not. Can you provide a link for a source?

    I’m not “seeking it” but as it’s central to the conversation should it not be there? Or is that just bad information put out by IPCC? Then I’d have to wonder why they would risk their credibility. And that doesn’t sound reasonable to me.

  2. 52
    Victor says:

    “Berkeley Lab Scientists ID New Driver Behind Arctic Warming”

  3. 53
    Danny Thomas says:

    #34. I’ll go through the information you provided and I thank you. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post a chart, but I do agree that CO2 levels have increased since the LIA and those increases are increasing, so if that’s the time frame you’re considering as “modern” I see your point.

    Going back further, I see much, much higher levels of CO2 and cycles in the climate between warming and cooling leading me to the conclusion that our current circumstance is as likely natural (until that option is excluded) as it is man caused (until that option is excluded). In other words, do we really know for sure? .

    This is what I’m missing or lacking understanding of: “that we have a very well-understood and thoroughly worked-out causal mechanism explaining why that association exists”.

    Is there a specific link that you could share?

    Thanks and I’ll appreciate your patience in walking me through this.

  4. 54
    S.B. Ripman says:

    No. 29 Danny Thomas:
         If yours is legitimate inquiry, I suggest you do more serious reading on the subject.  It’s a no-brainer.  World-wide average temps are rising; sea levels are rising; oceans are becoming more acidic; the ice at the north pole is melting.  CO2 levels have been on the increase in the atmosphere for the last 150 years and no other plausible causative factor for the changes has been identified.  This is all indisputable.
         My reading started with Gelbspan’s “The Heat Is On” in 1997.  Of late this Real Climate site has been a valuable resource for continuing education.  
          It’s been troubling to see the failure of our government to respond to the problem.  The low point was when Cheney allowed the nation’s energy policy to be crafted by his industry buddies. 
         The climate denial effort seems abysmally venal, short-sighted and stupid.  But given the outcome of yesterday’s voting we’re likely to see things get even worse.
         The politicians who are “skeptics” are merely doing what politicians naturally do: looking for publicity and appealing to their donors and political bases — no matter how ill-informed or foolish.  
         The few scientists who are “skeptics” accept the reality of what has happened to date but quibble over how bad things are likely to become in the future.  Their quibbles have gained zero traction with the vast majority of climate scientists.  This should tell you something.
         For God’s sake, just read the most recent IPCC report.  It is science’s highly conservative, consensus statement on the issue of climate change.
         Of course, we are communicating via the comments section of an Internet website, and your inquiry could be illegitimate.  You could be a paid plant from the fossil fuel industry, the profit-motive Frankenstein monster that is compelled to try to continue with business as usual.  If so, your mission would be to sow doubt and distract scientists.  Hope you’re not.
         At any rate, whether one “believes” in climate change is of little consequence now.  Our nation has set its course and the climatic turmoil on the road ahead is going to be there no matter what the belief system.  We must all guide ourselves accordingly.  I sincerely wish you and your descendants luck.

  5. 55
    Danny Thomas says:

    #36 Edward,

    Great suggestions and resources. Thank you.

    I’m not sure on the cancer/smoking analogy. Our policy makers are not “diverting” resources towards removing smoking from our society to the extent (as I understand it) proposed in U.S. dollars we’re talking of using to remove CO2 from our atmosphere. The total costs of health care in the U.S. from 2000-2004, if it were suggested to be used to stop folks from smoking, would seem excessive at the cost of all other health care. I think I missed what you’re trying to share.

    On the six filters, herin lies my dilemma. I perceive (maybe naively) two differing concensesus (with variations), 2 sets of consistency, 2 sets of authority, (#4 & 5 I need to study) and seemingly (and most disturbing) 2 sets of science.

    Seeking the truth. That’s a life long endeavor. I can see reasons for concern surrounding CO2, but I can also see that the urgency may be misplaced.

    Sure hope this makes sense to you.

  6. 56
    Danny Thomas says:

    #39 Anonymous,

    Help me with your thinking. Much of the focus of IPCC is stop emitting and additionally reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, so how is my focus off on that specific issue. If I were a policy maker (and one step removed I am as a voter) how would I make a reasoned decision based on “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”. Likely is a key word to me. Since IPCC’s focus is so much on CO2 (with other focus being secondary) and they are the “authority” it seems CO2 should be my primary focus also.

    It seems like an “all in” bet, and I (possibly due to lack of education) am not comfortable that we’re there yet.

    Your guidance to “keep looking” is exactly what I’m doing. I’m all over (maybe spread too thin) but I am learning so much. My quest is in it’s infancy and any further suggestions you have is greatly appreciated.

  7. 57

    #38–Chuck–I’m frankly concerned by the election results. I’d hoped for better, but clearly my optimism was unjustified.

    The aspect tht worries me the most is that now, when the Conference Of the Parties rolls around in 2015, and there is supposed to be a climate agreement of some sort inked, President Obama will have a Senate in place which would be exceedingly unlikely to ratify. Of course, ratification need not happen before new Congressional elections in 2016, but I’m afraid that this debacle could take some political energy out of the UNFCCC process, just at a time when Presiident Obama is ready to lead, and China just might be more amenable to an agreement than in the past.

  8. 58

    “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.”

    – See more at:

    That’s because chemistry or physic, qua themselves, aren’t matters of immediate and urgent public policy. Global Warming is. Surely you recognize that? Otherwise, why would you even be asking questions here?

  9. 59
    Dan Miller says:

    There is a way to “fix climate change for free.”

    The policy is called Fee and Dividend. With a “Fee and Dividend” policy, a rising price is put on the carbon content of fossil fuels. The fee is paid by the fossil fuel companies at the mine, well, or port of entry. 100% of the money collected — every penny — is paid out to every legal resident on an equal basis. Because wealthy people generate far more CO2 than the average person and because the government generates about 30% of the CO2 but doesn’t earn a dividend, it turns out that most people would earn more from the dividend than they pay in higher energy and product prices! Furthermore, as the policy works to reduce carbon emissions, the monthly payments would decrease and the public would demand that the fee be increased! What other “tax” works like that?!

    Also, to reduce global emissions, a border duty would be put on products coming from countries that do not have their own fee on carbon. Those countries would be faced with the choice of sending lots of money to the United States or keeping it themselves. They will chose to keep it themselves.

    A recent economic analysis of Fee and Dividend shows that it will, over 20 years, reduce emissions by over 50%, create 2.8 million jobs, and increase GDP by $1.4 trillion. I think that is better than free! You can find the study, by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) and Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. (Synapse) here:

  10. 60
    Edward Greisch says:

    29 Danny Thomas: I am reading this book now: “Don’t Even Think About It [Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change]” by George Marshall, 2014.
    I am not recommending it for your problem right now. It tells me why it is so hard for most people to understand climate science. A lot of the problem is that scientists have language and culture that differs from everybody else. You aren’t going to learn the language and culture of science without getting a degree in science, so forget it for now. I am recommending this book for the scientists. I am saying to you that your situation is common.

    Reference: “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan
    “Merchants of Doubt”  by Oreskes and Conway
    “Denying Science” by John Grant

    “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations”
    The fossil fuel industry is hiding the billion dollars it spends each year now, to cover up Global Warming.

    Again, not to read right now, but to tell you with backup that part of the problem is that the fossil fuel industry [coal, oil, natural gas] is funding propaganda to prevent you from understanding climate science. The denialist blogs may be paid for by the fossil fuel industry. They are also making “campaign contributions” to politicians to prevent action on Global Warming. They have a financial reason for doing so. They stand to loose a trillion dollars per year if we “win.”

  11. 61
    Chris Dudley says:

    There is a bit of a logical difficulty in interpretation in the paper by Feldman et al. Namely, they point out correctly that surface emissivity is unimportant unless the atmosphere is quite dry but then rely on January 2005 in Fig 2A to represent the dryness of the atmosphere. This makes the atmosphere dry over the frozen sea ice in the North, but a contrast between emissivity of sea ice and ocean is going to be interfered with by a less dry atmosphere over ocean in the summer. Inspection of Fig 2A near the edge of Antarctica suggest that northern summer would have too damp an atmosphere for the difference between infrared surface emissivity of sea ice and ocean to be the operational physics. The usual difference in optical reflectivity may be the thing they are really seeing.

  12. 62
    Danny Thomas says:

    #50 Ripman,

    I only wish I was a paid shill, but I’m not aware of a method to prove otherwise.

    I see changes in growing seasons, some ice melt, ocean acidification, etc. but even in your words ” and no other plausible causative factor for the changes has been identified.”.This verifies to me that there is still “proof” lacking. Substantial evidence, yes, but “proof” not yet. Some changes could be due to natural reasons.

    Kevin kindly pointed me to the CO2 chart showing how the volume has changed (increased) during the industrial age. But overlapping a temperature chart the effects are certainly not linear.

    I have sufficient evidence to support my view that global warming is occurring, but I am not convinced that we are the major cause. This is the heart of my dilemma. I know I’m verbose (in an effort to establish credibility).

    But based on MY understanding of the science (unsettled) I cannot justify the expenses we’re being asked to incur. I’m not asking for anyone’s political views as that just insures more rhetoric and misplaced focus. But, I do believe that it’s important for communication and decision making going forward.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  13. 63
    Danny Thomas says:

    #56 Edward,

    More of my dilemma. Here, it’s suggested that “there” they’re influenced by money. And there, I’m told the same about here.

    Just like I have no badge that says I’m not a troll/shill/whatever, “You”—the collective and “Them”—the collective don’t either. And both sides have reasonable support. I’m not seeking to get in to that fray. That’s for others. I don’t even understand why “scientists” this side or “scientists” on the other side seek support in these areas. Science should stand on it’s own, on both sides. Not intending to be curt or disrespectful, but frankly that just muddies the waters.

    Therein lies the reason for my question above. Where can I find definitive uncontroversial irrefutable proof that CO2 is the cause of our changing climate?

    I’m likely looking for that which does not exist.

  14. 64
    Danny Thomas says:

    #54 Kevin,

    I’m not here for the psychology. The physics, chemistry, oceanography, geology, and so on are are a part of the climate.

    I get that it’s complex, and chaotic. I get that there is big money on both sides, what I don’t get is how we can make such huge huge huge bets on our economic and physical world without concrete answers.

    Please help me to “get it”. My CAGW buddy (and I’m using him as a proxy for folks here) has an entire agenda laid out on “man causes CO2 and CO2 = bad” but cannot support it scientifically, but only politically. I love the dude. We’ve been friends for years. Buy my own eyes tell me there are problems.

    You guys here are familiar. First it was CO2 = warming. Then came the pause. But at the same time sea levels are rising (slightly), ice is melting, growing seasons are changing, and IPCC says cut CO2 or die. But no one anywhere that I can find has showing definitively, irrefutably, and uncontroversially that it’s only man caused at the exclusion of nature.

    Even my CAGW buddy agrees with this and then comes the politics which benefits none.

    I sure hope this makes sense, but even here (so far) the answer I’m seeking has not made itself available. I can accept that what I’m looking for does not exist. But I think it will eventually as that what happens in science.

    For an old sales guy, I promise you that I’m doing as I say. I’m investing the time and seeking answers. Bear with me on this journey of mine.

    Part of the challenge for me, and others like me, is where stepping in “here” and “there” amongst others at the end of their journeys who are already convinced one way or another. It’s hard for them (you?) to grasp our viewpoints as legitimate but early. We can’t realize your perspective as we lack the information, but you can as you were once where we are. Kinda like remembering what its like to be a teenager.

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Chris Dudley
    > interpretation
    You should write to PNAS if you think you’re correct.

    Seems to me you’ve missed thethe point that what’s changing is the length of the ice season — the emissivity of ice operates during the months when it’s cold enough to have sea ice present (and to freeze out water vapor).

    There’d be an ’emissivity season’: the ‘sea ice and cold dry air’ season when the infrared photons, emitted into an IR-transparent atmosphere, can radiate to space. That would have been the usual condition before sea ice started going away fast.

    When it’s warmer, open ocean, humid air, the infrared photons are emitted into an opaque sky and the energy goes into the atmosphere.

    Perhaps someone who actually understands radiation physics will find this interesting enough to comment. Logic isn’t enough, as Weart pointed out.

  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:


    Future air quality could put plants and people at risk

    By combining projections of climate change, emissions reductions and changes in land use across the USA, an international research team estimate that by 2050, cumulative exposure to ozone during the summer will be high enough to damage vegetation.

    …- published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
    … lead researcher Dr Maria Val Martin, from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering

    “Modelling future air quality is very complex…. However, our findings show that the emissions reductions we’re expecting to achieve won’t guarantee air quality on their own, as they will be offset by changes in climate and land use and by an increase in wildfires. This is an issue that will affect all parts of the world, not just the USA.”

    … if greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2040, then by 2050 surface ozone will remain below levels set to safeguard human health, despite increases in ozone caused by higher temperatures and changes in agriculture and forestation. If emissions continue to rise until 2100, then some areas of the USA will see surface ozone above the safe levels set for human health.

    However … under both scenarios, the surface ozone levels would be high enough to cause damage to plants. This was particularly because during the summer, there were higher emissions from transport and industry of nitrogen oxides, which react with sunlight to create ozone.
    and search “ozone” on that page

    Much else there worth noticing.

  17. 67
    Anonymous Coward says:


    “how is my focus off on that specific issue … it seems CO2 should be my primary focus”

    Sure, CO2 should be your focus. But its relationship to the weather or to the recent global warming shouldn’t be. The future should be your focus.
    The recent warming isn’t a very big deal. That warming is not the reason people are calling for emissions cuts. You can tell because people have been doing that before it became apparent.
    You brought up other distractions like the “LIA” or how much CO2 there might have been in the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago. These matters are of course important but they’re kind of advanced topics. Stick to the basics until you’ve understood them… or simply move on from WG1 issues to WG2 topics.
    I prefer reading about WG1 issues because I find them intellectually stimulating so I understand why you might want to go deeper into WG1. But if you genuinely want to know what might justify the far-reaching policies you’re hearing about, that’s WG2 territory.
    That said, I think you’d actually benefit more from learning about risk management than about anything climate-related.

  18. 68
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Danny Thomas,
    I am curious. How does a nominally educated person avoid any knowledge of the greenhouse effect in Earth’s atmosphere?

    We have known about the greenhouse effect for nearly 2 centuries! We’ve known CO2 is a greenhouse gas since the 1850s. The idea of anthropogenic warming was first proposed in 1896–9 years before Einstein’s annus mirabilus and 11 years before the birth of Al Gore’s father!

    You might as well be asking, “Well, how do we know light is an electromagnetic wave?” or “How do we know animals evolve?”

    Go, without delay, and read Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming”

  19. 69
    Radge Havers says:


    There are NOT two sets of science. As I mentioned to you earlier, for practical purposes, the only science that matters is written up in properly peer reviewed journals. If you have a problem with that statement then you should respond to it rather than simply repeating a falsely balanced talking point.

    Now I have a question for you: What would you consider convincing evidence that AGW is real and dangerous?

  20. 70
    Victor says:

    #53 Kevin

    “President Obama will have a Senate in place which would be exceedingly unlikely to ratify”

    Imo you could be wrong about that. Now that the election is over, the Republicans won’t need to cater so much to their far right nutcase wing. I’ve already been getting a sense that many of them are starting to fold. Claiming they are “not scientists” is a far cry from denial. I have a feeling Obama will be getting more support on this issue from Republicans now that the election is over and that could make a difference in getting his g.w. policies approved.

    The problem for activists is that the measures he’s proposing won’t be nearly enough to put more than a dent in the fossil fuel emissions that concern them so much. Judging from the IPCC report much more drastic measures would be needed. Above all, it would be necessary to convince huge countries like India and China to cut back drastically on coal fueled power, a measure that would plunge their economies into serious recession or even depression, with massive loss of jobs and drastic increases in the cost of heating, transportation, fuel and food. Not to mention the many millions in both countries who regularly burn charcoal, aka “black carbon.” How do you alter that practice?

    (The solution to black carbon, as I see it, is to pull all those people out of poverty. But how do you do that in the middle of a recession triggered by drastic fossil fuel cutbacks?)

    IPCC has recommended carbon sequestration. If that were feasible it would be a great solution — even for the “deniers,” since we all want to see pollution reduced. The costs, however, would be formidable, and the resources for the sequestration would be available in only a relatively few cases, I would imagine. See

  21. 71
    Victor says:

    #55 Dan Miller

    Fee and Dividend sounds like a great idea that could work. There’d be huge opposition from the industry as it would lower their profits considerably. If they squawk about it, however, then imo they should be nationalized. That’ll teach ’em! (Don’t tell them I said this, as my payoffs for trolling on this blog would get cut off for sure.)

    There are two problems, however. 1. It’s all too easy to underestimate the size of the fees that would be necessary, which could be so high as to shut down the entire industry, nationalized or not. A complete shutdown isn’t really what you want, as it would plunge the world into darkness, cold and poverty.

    2. high fees would encourage severe cutbacks in production, which is what you’d want, yes. But such measures would result in severe shortages as well. Even if people are given enough money to pay their heating and electricity bills, that won’t help if the resources are no longer there.

    Nevertheless, some sort of plan to compensate people all over the world (not just in the US) for the inevitable costs of severe ff cutbacks does strike me as a good idea, at least in principle. Whether it would work is another matter.

  22. 72
    Edward Greisch says:

    51 Danny Thomas: “I perceive (maybe naively) two differing concensesus (with variations), 2 sets of consistency, 2 sets of authority, (#4 & 5 I need to study) and seemingly (and most disturbing) 2 sets of science.”

    I don’t understand how you can see:

    Consensus twice when consensus is listed once as #1 only. Which one is the other consensus?

    Consistency twice when consistency is listed once as #2 only. Which one is the other consistency?

    Authority twice when authority is listed once as #3 only. Which one is the other authority?

    Science twice when science is listed once as #6 only. Which one is the other science?

    Please explain how you see those things twice. Your explanation could help me and the scientists to understand how to explain the whole thing to you and to other people. Misunderstandings like this are often a puzzle to us.

  23. 73
    Danny Thomas says:

    #67, #68, #69, #72. Condensing to reduce the number of posts. Let me know if this is not acceptable. Noticed that one can’t cut and past so the order is off.


    No one any where has shared that with me. So do I understand correctly that there is not a causal effect of CO2 on warming? Or, that it’s not a concern? I’ve read elsewhere that CO2 levels will peak in the upper 500’s to lower 600 ppm range. I can’t prove it, but can only share what I’ve seen. Doing the math based on the Mauna Loa site, I’ve come up with somewhere around 200 years (based on the past decade) and almost 360 years (based on the entire data set) to reach 800 ppm. I’m not sure I buy the nature driven cap, but until I get the requested back up I really can only share what I’ve read. It has to do with sinks and water vapor from my undereducated understanding.

    And again, my take is that my impression are likely invalid as it makes no sense that so many on this side (and IPCC) are so focused on CO2 reductions.

    Again, I cannot yet do the science, but I will learn (as best I can)

    I also believe that I’m very concerned with the “risk management” in that spending dollars on a might/maybe/possibly does not compute with me vs. spending it for health care (as one example). Any redirection on what your impression that I’m missing would be respectfully evaluated.


    For those of us not having a career in the sciences or 30 years of study there indeed are Two sets of science. There is a debate raging. And there are reasonable explanations for both (at least points within). Maybe two sets is poor wording, but how different is it to say that “we don’t yet know and the science is not settled? There is historic context.

    Heat/Drought of the “dust bowl” was more extreme than today, and at lower CO2 levels, for example.

    And I have evidence that global warming is occurring. So regarding risk management, is there comfort in stating that the CO2 emissions reduction costs are a more appropriate use of funds in lieu of health costs that equaled those spent between 2000-2004 as my buddy suggests? Serious question, because that seems to be a serious choice.

    And to address your question, “What would you (I) consider convincing evidence that AGW is real and dangerous”? I’d have to respond that serious scientific discussion that did not fall along party lines would be supportive. In addition, a lack of reasonable counter arguments. Use of fewer words such as: likely, possibly, may.

    I get that this is a complex topic, but science taught me a rock was a rock. Then went on to explain formation, make up, etc. Regarding climate science AGW has not reached the point of being “a rock”.

    Too much is having to be explained. The pause is a great example. Models don’t work for weather so how can they be 100% trusted for climate when climate is much more complex and made up of weather? I don’t have a grasp of that at all.


    The reasoning behind my two consensus comment is due to the two polar opposite voices. AGW vs. global warming but not convinced of the cause. This applies to the others equally.

    Those of us who are non scientists cannot look at this issue the same as those of you who are. But, as scientists, and with an understanding of the very different ways that different people think, and by removing the politics scientists should be able to speak to us with the respect that we’re due. Realize we’re not where you are in the level of comfort of having the appropriate evidence to make a determination. Like I mentioned before, it’s kind of like looking back to when we used to be teenagers as opposed to adulthood. I hope this helps.


    We’re being asked to stop using funds over here (health care or whatever) to fund CO2 removal.

    We’re not talking about the same global dollars to fund light or evolution so those, at least to me, are not equal.

    My understanding of the greenhouse effect does not include oceans, clouds, volcanos, solar impacts, etc. so although the suggestion is appreciated as was the suggestion by others to watch an elementary Youtube video, if the National Academy of Science still uses words like: might, maybe, possibly, etc. when one searches for :”Does CO2 cause global warming” those resources are not helpful.

    I’ve noticed that no one here has said: “CO2 causes global warming and that there is no chance that the current warming is NOT natural. That in and of itself says a lot.

  24. 74
    Radge Havers says:


    Money. You think scientists are wallowing in money compared to the fossil fuel industry? Holy cow. You can follow the money trail and the behavioral science. For the purposes here, these are worth looking at AFTER you’ve looked at the evidence and wonder why people don’t get it. Again, two words for you: peer review. Get it together man.

    Evidence. I’ll post this again:

    CO2 and Warming
    “The effect of adding man-made CO2 is predicted in the theory of greenhouse gases. This theory was first proposed by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius in 1896, based on earlier work by Fourier and Tyndall. Many scientist have refined the theory in the last century. Nearly all have reached the same conclusion: if we increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the Earth will warm up.”

    Humans and warming
    “Additional confirmation that rising CO2 levels are due to human activity comes from examining the ratio of carbon isotopes (eg ? carbon atoms with differing numbers of neutrons) found in the atmosphere. Carbon 12 has 6 neutrons, carbon 13 has 7 neutrons. Plants have a lower C13/C12 ratio than in the atmosphere. If rising atmospheric CO2 comes from fossil fuels, the C13/C12 should be falling. Indeed this is what is occurring (Ghosh 2003). The C13/C12 ratio correlates with the trend in global emissions.”

    Settled enough
    “That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations.”

    Get that? This has been thoroughly combed over. If you want a smoking gun, for starters check out the isotopes.
    Check out the isotopes.
    Check out the isotopes.

    If you have trouble with this, you should look more deeply at what’s bothering you and ask deeper questions about how science works and why.

    Do the deniers have a viable alternative model for how climate works? No they do not. For the most part they have no alternative model at all. Instead they do what creationists do. They pick nits and pretend they’re wielding heavy fire power. Do you understand why this matters? Are you a creationist as well?

  25. 75
    Danny Thomas says:

    #72 Edward,

    I’ve been thinking about your request for how I see things twice and I’ve expanded that thought.

    I’d like to share with you and all here (as I’ve tried to do on other sites) a more fully expanded perspective.

    First, Most folks are not scientists.

    Many involved voters are a bit more, let’s say, advance with life experience and years.

    I, for example, grew up in the 70’s when “climate science” (we don’t have the capability of differentiating then vs. now) was warning of a coming ice age and the cause was related to an 11 year sun spot cycle. Of course that didn’t happen. So this “new” conversation about global warming starts off with a bit of a credibility issue.

    Then, for those of us who pay attention yet lack scientific credentials, we’re told CO2 = “bad” and that temps. would start rising “soon”. Then the pause/hiatus/whatever. Since we’re already preconditioned to doubt this didn’t help the credibility.

    Then, more frequent and more severe hurricanes and tornados. Another miss on that. I personally have gone to NOAA and done the math as I was “skeptical” of what I was hearing from the “skeptical” side. But my own eyes told me that didn’t happen.

    I’m not trying to open wounds on this side, just trying to show what an “average Joe” perceives. So when we’re told to spend as much money as the U.S. spent on health care from 2000-2004 for removing CO2 and there’s even a hint that 1)CO2 may not be as bad as is being suggested (and from the others side it’s improving crop production based on the recent yields), or 2) there’s even a possibility that the current global warming (and my impression is most “believe” GW is occurring but are unsure of cause) is part of a natural cycle; then it follows (for those of us with life experience and who think and don’t just accept) that we’re skeptical of BOTH sides of this discussion. Especially when so much politics is involved and more liberals support AGW and more conservatives lean more towards the possibility that GW is occurring naturally.

    Does that help any?

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Danny Thomas
    > … Where can I find definitive uncontroversial irrefutable proof …

    I think you should come back when you understand the problem there.

  27. 77
    wili says:

    Deleted at the last minute from latest IPCC report: language about the need for “rapid and deep emission reductions” to avoid 2 C rise in global temperatures and about the likelihood of catastrophic events.

  28. 78
    Thomas says:

    Victor @6. I hate to disagree with you (wish you were right), but we have elections every two years, so politicians, and those who seek to influence them with money are always in campaign season. There never is a break from the permanent campaign.
    For Republicans it is probably less a matter of placating the rank and file wingers, than it is remaining on the best possible terms with mega-donors, which include a lot of fossil fuel interests. The average Republican politician is far more hostile to stuff like renewable energy, then is their average voter/supporter. Stuff like solar is popular with a large plurality of Republican voters, but the politicians do what they can to hold it back. Obviously securing mega-donors counts for more than representing their voters.

  29. 79
    sidd says:

    Mr. Danny Thomas asks:

    “Where can I find definitive uncontroversial irrefutable proof that CO2 is the cause of our changing climate?”

    1)How much math and physics do you have ?

    then we can speak of

    2)what would you accept as proof ?

    As a suggestion, has good articles with versions geared to all levels of mathematical and physical understanding. Or perhaps
    Weart’s “History” is a good place to begin.


  30. 80
    John Mashey says:

    By the sort of reasoning shown by Danny Thomas,
    one could say there is no clear evidence that cigarettes really cause cancer and other diseases and so it would be fine for any younger relatives starting to smoke by 15, until science settles the matter 100%.

    Medical science is even more complex than climate science in some ways, and lacks the sorts of conservation laws physics has. Researchers are totally unable to predict which 15-year-old smokers will continue, and which will die or when, fail to completely understand the effects of every chemical in cigarette smoke or vaping fluid… more research needed.

    Who knows? Maybe:
    a) Some cancers may be from other particulate pollution, like from burning coal or diesel exhausts, or dust storms. Nicotine is hardly the only reason for heart attacks and strokes. Although 50+% of Chinese men smoke, the air in the big cities is pretty bad, so that may be enough.

    b) It may be that a genetic tendency toward lung cancer causes people to try to self-medicate by smoking, and it actually works for some … akin to Murry Salby’s idea that rising temperatures cause CO2 rise, without humans. While people are researching genetic interactions with smoking trajectories, that work is early. Some people smoke into their 90s, just as parts of the US sometimes get a lot of snow.

    c) It may just be stress of modern life.

    d) More research needed. Medical researchers have avoided doing the definitive experiments of starting with 2 groups of 10,000 12 year-olds, getting one group to smoke, and making sure the other doesn’t, and then following them until death and comparing the results. Certainly, studies on mice are not the same, and monkeys are not very consistent subjects, although some have become regulars.

    Likewise, climate researchers have avoided building a real “control Earth” that would settle things.

    Put all this together, and the evidence for cigarette:disease linkages is *no stronger* than that for AGW. For example, Richard Lindzen remains skeptical of the statistics around smoking.

    Yes, there is overpowering consensus among the relevant scientists in both cases, but both can be claimed to be “controversial” until *everyone* agrees.

  31. 81
    Edward Greisch says:

    63 Danny Thomas: We can add up all of the CO2 that we have put into the atmosphere. We can measure all of the other sources of heat gain and loss for the Earth as a planet. NASA watches the sun and the emissions from the Earth continuously. Energy in minus energy out is heat gained. Heat can go into the oceans and into melting ice rather than into heating air. NASA measures the total heat budget. We measure the CO2 in the air and we measure all of the other gasses in the air. We know the infrared properties of all gasses.

    That is how we know that it is CO2 and other greenhouse gasses that are doing it.

    You could subscribe to and the links given in to find the NASA labs that actually watch the sun. Keep reading RealClimate for a few years to find the other information.

    The RealClimate scientists have all of the information required to prove that we humans are the guilty parties this time. The information you want is such a huge mountain of information that you would be crushed under it. It isn’t possible to give it all to you all at once, and you couldn’t understand it that fast. As I told you before, take the coursera courses on climate science. The information will be well presented over enough time for you to digest it.

    Legitimate scientists do not have money for advertising. Legitimate scientists are not in the science business to get rich, and they don’t get rich. Most work either for the government or for universities. It is fossil fuel corporations who have a lot of money. Not us.

  32. 82
    Jasper Jaynes says:

    Kevin #57,

    “The aspect that worries me the most is that now, when the Conference Of the Parties rolls around in 2015, and there is supposed to be a climate agreement of some sort inked, President Obama will have a Senate in place which would be exceedingly unlikely to ratify”.

    That’s a derivative worry. What should worry you the most is that the driving force behind any actions the politicians take or the people take on their own initiative, the electorate, was a ‘no-show’ on this issue. The electorate said loud and clear that ‘we don’t give a damn about climate change’. I do notice the various columnists discussing the election are grasping at straws trying to find glimmers of hope in the election results. The overall message is extremely negative when only one out of five eligible voters selects a Party that offers any glimmer of minimal hope in taking climate action.

  33. 83
    Chris Dudley says:

    Hank (#65),

    A lot of my publications are about radiation physics.

  34. 84
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Danny Thomas:
    I agree with what said by Ray Ladbury (# 68) in relation to reading Spencer Weart …
    I can also tell you he is retired and has time even to answer mails … I myself sent him some doubts a few years ago, and got his kind answer very soon. I have it filed somewhere …
    First read the book! But don´t expect to see many different things than what you´ve been told here … Perhaps they would be better or at least differently explained.

  35. 85
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #70 Victor
    Your post, apart from what specifically said about Republicans´possible new attitude, is in agreement with what I started saying years ago: we are in a catch-22! That´s the main problem.
    I consider capitalism is better than the opposite, but it has brought us a very very grave not anticipated side effect …
    If we don´t have the imagination AND THE WILL to find and apply a solution soon, whatever the sacrifices necessary to make (voluntarily, or directly or undirectly obliged), it can be the end, not of the planet but of the society as we know it, and inevitably of many many of us.

  36. 86
    Keith Laurence says:

    Could anybody recommend a reading list that would educate an engineer about the ‘feedback mechanisms’ and ‘tipping points’ that will result in CAGW?

  37. 87

    #53–Danny, you commented:

    Going back further, I see much, much higher levels of CO2 and cycles in the climate between warming and cooling leading me to the conclusion that our current circumstance is as likely natural (until that option is excluded) as it is man caused (until that option is excluded). In other words, do we really know for sure?

    Yes, climate change occurs naturally. However, natural deaths do not negate the possibility of murder, and accidental fires do not obviate the reality of arson. No more does the reality of natural climate change imply that humans cannot also change climate.

    We know that GHGs cause warming, due to in situ and lab experiments. We know that in the past, GHG concentrations drove warming in significant ways due to natural fluctuations in CO2 levels.

    We also know that we are driving the current increase in GHGs. We know that because we can account for the CO2 via the fossil fuels known to have been burnt; because the isotopic makeup of the atmospheric CO2 reservoir has changed in ways that ‘fingerprint’ fossil fuel; and we know it because we can also measure the concommitant (tiny) decrease in atmospheric oxygen. So there’s really no doubt that the change in the atmosphere is our doing.

    In science, there is no such thing, on principle, as ‘absolute proof.’ But when you’ve got a well-understood mechanism (GH effect), a *long* record showing that GH drives climate, and rock-solid data showing that we are changing GHG concentrations, there’s not much ‘wiggle room’ left. I take it that that is one reason so many denialist comments these days now begin, “No-one denies that there is climate change…” (Even though there is no shortage of the hard-core types who do, in fact, adamantly deny just that.)

    The question of impacts–the “C” in “catastrophic”–is another question. But did you read the Lynas summary? There’s a lot we don’t understand about impacts, but there’s more than enough information to suggest that prudence really is warranted.

  38. 88

    #70–Victor, you make 3 points.

    First, I devoutly hope you are right that the Republicans are nearing the collective ‘come to Jesus’ moment on climate change. I even agree that there are some signs that that could be a possibility. But I’m far from sanguine that moment will arrive before, or even soon after, December 2015. But heck, let’s all cross our fingers–when we’re not using them to organize and educate, which I think will be rather more efficacious.

    Second, I agree that policy announced so far will be insufficient. But pragmatically, ‘baby steps first.’

    Third, you express concern about China and India, and that’s certainly warranted; China is the number one emitter, as we all know, and India is, IIRC, ‘number 5 with a bullet:’

    it would be necessary to convince huge countries like India and China to cut back drastically on coal fueled power, a measure that would plunge their economies into serious recession or even depression, with massive loss of jobs and drastic increases in the cost of heating, transportation, fuel and food. Not to mention the many millions in both countries who regularly burn charcoal, aka “black carbon.”

    – See more at:

    Yet things are changing fast in both those nations. China has literally declared ‘war on pollution’ and yes, coal is in their sights. That is why drastic expansions in both renewables and nuclear power are envisaged there, and have already take place in the renewable sphere. Lest we be too cynical about the effects on coal consumption, it should be noted that there was already a (short term) decline this year. India is not being well-served by coal, either, with the existing infrastructure being notoriously unreliable and expensive. Governments at both federal and state levels have been tripping over themselves to contract more and better solar and wind projects. Gigawatts of capacity will be coming online quite rapidly. (One of the nice things about solar and wind is that (barring some of the tougher offshore projects like Bard 2, and CSP, which is a less mature technology) getting them done has generally proceeded fairly well in line with budgetary and schedule plan. Both nations have typically exceeded renewables targets, often by considerable and even startling margins.

    I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna here; the rate of adoption that we see today, though startling, is still not adequate to assure us of the 2 C target. And it’s still the case that both subsidies and investments in fossil fuels are much, much larger than for renewables (the latter by a factor of about 10, IIRC.) So there’s still a long way to go. Nevertheless, I think we are quite a way further along than you (or many people, vor that matter) suspect.

  39. 89
    Danny Thomas says:

    #69 Radge and #72 Edward,

    Still working on the best answer I can provide to help “you scientists” understand why we “average Joe” have different perspectives. One big issue is that climate is regional and based on weather within those regions. As science cannot yet forecast weather with 100% accuracy or anything near, then by trying to forecast the even more complex system known as climate which is made up of historically inaccurately forecast(ed?) weather there is a built in credibility concern. Then, climate, which is regional, is expanded via terminology to “global”. Phew. That’s another tough hurdle.

    There is a great post on WUWT (yeah, I know) that offers incredible insight in to the “other side” of the discussion/science. If you can look past the derision and politics to glean the overall tone they probably say it much better than I. Not sure if a link is okay, but I’ll post it anand try:

    AGW is presented so emphatically as a “known”. One example refers to when a doctor tells folks about a procedure with a “high likelyhood” of success and yet doctors always throw in “but you could die”. This kind of approach offers the patient reassurance by an indication of risk and gives the doctor more credibility than if that doctor said “I’m 100% certain that this is the cure”.

    I’m trying as best I can to offer the most well rounded answer to what I understand as your question. I hope this helps!


    Specifically for you. Medical science which I believe we can agree has a substantial level of trust uses “double blind” testing to provide a level of confidence that results are repeatable and to help insure credibility. This approach may be one that “climate science” could incorporate to address your question of:”What would you consider convincing evidence that AGW is real and dangerous?” I’m really trying to answer your question to the best of my ability.

    Now if Mod will catch up we can further communicate!

  40. 90
    Dan Miller says:

    #71 Victor: The proposed fee starts at $10/ton and rises to $100/ton in 10 years. The analysis shows that this cuts emissions by 52% in 20 years (33% in 10 years IIRC). It does not plunge the world into darkness. $100/ton is about $1/gallon of gasoline. But at $50/ton, it will be cheaper for power plants to use CCS than pay the fee. AT $100/ton it will be cheaper (with further R&D) to use “air capture” of CO2 than pay the fee. Even without CCS, the fee would discourage dirty energy use and encourage efficiency and renewables. Rather than plunge the world into darkness, F&D would create millions of jobs and grow GDP. There’s no downside, especially when you consider the downside of not acting!

  41. 91
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Therein lies the reason for my question above. Where can I find definitive uncontroversial irrefutable proof that CO2 is the cause of our changing climate?

    I’m likely looking for that which does not exist.

    Comment by Danny Thomas — 6 Nov 2014
    CO2 traps heat. That’s it. More CO2 traps more heat. Without CO2 the Earth would be an ice ball. It’s simple enough. The rest is just details about the various effects of heating up the planet so quickly that plants and animals don’t have time to adapt or move.

    Heat melts ice. Sea levels will rise. Microbes will thrive and crops will fail. People will starve when food and water shortages take hold. CO2 has been the cause of 4 out of the last 5 mass extinction events, as I understand it. We’re in for a wild ride. Understanding that CO2 traps heat is a basic fundamental concept. If you don’t understand that I doubt you’ll be able to grasp much else.

    That’s my two cents on it. Good luck.

  42. 92
    patrick says:

    Slide your cursor over these time-layered photos of the Rongbuk glaciers:

    David Breashears:

    “Awareness is soft. Everybody’s creating awareness. To make progress in this field, we need action.”

    “These data points are too few and far apart to be useful to scientists, but…these images get your attention.’

    “Just because people want to be in those mountains, it doesn’t mean they care about them.”

    From newly relaunched NASA Global Climate Change website:

  43. 93
    Chris Dudley says:

    Dan (#59),

    The US has already chosen to go with regulation under the Clean Air Act. The time is past for a fee and dividend plan domestically. One place where your idea might work though would be to place tariffs on imports from China under GATT Article XX and use the money for a middle class tax cut.

  44. 94
    Radge Havers says:


    Along with the many, many false assumptions you make, let me point out that I am not a climate scientist. Other than being extraordinarily irritable, I’m pretty much an average Joe on the subject. So I get it. In fact many if not most of my comments here have been about how scientists communicate. Now I will point out to you that communication is a two way street. You have to listen and make the effort to understand from the point of view of the other person. You are showing yourself to be highly resistant to doing that.

    First, most every point you have made is a denialist talking point or FUD argument which, if you had gone to the resources pointed out to you, you would now know have been debunked. At the very least you would have started to ask better questions here.

    Second, climate science is pretty much just physics and chemistry applied to climate. What climate scientists do is perfectly consistent with and draws from practices in those sciences together with practices in historical sciences like geology and paleontology. Now that this has been pointed out to you, dump the rhetoric and invalid logic and go verify it for yourself — without bias.

    Third, there is an environment that is about as politic free as things get on this sodding planet. It’s called peer review. Peer review, peer review, peer review, peer review, peer review. Did you see what I wrote there? Let me repeat: peer review, peer review, peer review, peer review.

    Got that? Make some signal that you understand.

    Look if I can work this out for myself, anybody can who isn’t a troll or who isn’t just too plain silly to function as a good citizen. Do your due diligence or be gone.

  45. 95
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Danny Thomas,
    If you want certainty, go to a frickin’ priest. They’ll likely be wrong, but they’ll be certain.

    Like it or not, science doesn’t deal in certainty. It doesn’t deal in proof. It deals in evidence. It is possible that I can go out and buy a lottery ticket and retire tomorrow. The chances of that happening are sufficiently small that I don’t bother with the lottery. The chances that the current warming epoch is natural are vanishingly small.

    It is beyond question that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will warm the planet. That is incontrovertibly proven beyond reasonable doubt. The question is how much warming you get from feedbacks (e.g. more water vapor, which is also a greenhouse gas), clouds, changes in albedo… Most of these feedbacks are positive–they add heat. A few are negative. Some are uncertain (especially aerosols and clouds). However, for warming to stay below dangerous levels, these would have to line up in a very improbable way.

    Yes, the details of the science are complicated, but the basics are pretty simple. You should at least bother to learn the basics, and Spencer’s monograph is a good place to start. (Note: I used to work with Spencer. He’s a good guy.)

    Maybe, you can help me out with another thing I don’t understand, Danny. How is it that people with doubts about climate science say, “Well, I’m no climate scientist, but…” and proceed to ignorantly trash the work of those who’ve dedicated their lives to understanding climate?

  46. 96
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #89 D. T. says:
    “One big issue is that climate is regional and based on weather within those regions. As science cannot yet forecast weather with 100% accuracy or anything near, then by trying to forecast the even more complex system known as climate …”
    COME ON! … To forecast the whether in f.e. Christmas in London is FAR MORE difficult than saying that, if business as usual, at the end of the century mean global temperature will increase f.e. another degree …
    That´s GLOBAL WARMING, deduced from simple physics.
    CLIMATE CHANGE is scientifically estimated from that foreseen warming, NOT BY PUTTING TOGETHER ALL LOCAL WEATHER FORECASTS FOR 2100 CHRISTMAS (!!!)

  47. 97
    Jasper Jaynes says:

    Kevin #88,

    “First, I devoutly hope you are right that the Republicans are nearing the collective ‘come to Jesus’ moment on climate change. I even agree that there are some signs that that could be a possibility.”

    It amazes me that you are willing to devote the effort to convince Victor et al of the obvious, that AGW is real, but when it comes to voter (dis)interest in doing something about climate change, you yourself refuse to recognize the obvious. The authors of the articles below lay out loud and clear what we can expect from the election.

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Chris Dudley … publications

    I’m seriously trying to follow your argument against that paper’s suggestion (comparing far-IR radiation loss to space from sea ice through dry air, vs. open water and humid air). Obviously so far I’m not getting it. As an ordinary reader, seeing only the abstract and blog comments, I doubt I will.

    If you want to explain it, I urge you to go beyond the brief blog comments and write up your argument that they haven’t improved on the assumptions made so far about far-IR radiation from the poles — or point to someone who has.

    I realize the far-IR band has been hard to measure and is starting to be an interesting area. I’d like to see more explanation of what we’re learning and how that’s changing the assumptions the modelers have made about that.

  49. 99
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Keith Laurence:

    RealClimate: Runaway tipping points of no return
    Jul 5, 2006 … RealClimate: I wonder if any else has noticed that we appear to have crossed a threshold in the usage of the phrase ‘tipping point’ in …
    Runaway tipping points of no return

    Make sure you understand how climatology defines “feedback” — it’s not the same definition you’d expect used in engineering.

  50. 100
    Jef says:

    Dan Miller says:
    6 Nov 2014 at 1:32 AM
    There is a way to “fix climate change for free.”

    So the consumer is compensated for the ever increasing price of FF energy which means there is no incentive to modify behavior, therefore consumption remains the same or increases.

    The only solution is to heavily tax all activities surrounding FF extraction, production, and use, and pay it all out to activities that are not FF based. Walking, biking, reading, painting, learning, gardening, performing, not driving, not using large amounts of electricity, producing locally, etc.

    Actually most of these activities still require FFs to some degree but only a tiny fraction.