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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. 101
    Danny Thomas says:

    #74, Radge,

    I didn’t say that “I” think scientists are wallowing in money compared to the fossil fuel industry. What I said was that’s what ‘the other side’ says. So if you want to help me to see then provide a link to actual funding provided by fossil fuel entities vs. that which is provided to fund scientific “research”. It’s a reasonable argument, and if you’re so convinced that it’s inaccurate then you have research on which this is based. I have no skin in this game other than I need to make sound decisions.

    My entire point is that there are two sides. Not one. Many on “the other side” say nuclear and hydro are better areas of focus and there is sound (from my level of understanding) basis for these points of view.

    The reason I’m here, as this site was suggested to me just like you’ve suggested others, is to learn.

    I think I asked the “deepest” question when I asked is there even a possibility that what we’re in the midst of is natural, or at least a portion is natural? Others have answered so there is some open mindedness about the discussion.

    I’m visiting as many sites as I can, but I ask you. Why does the National Academy “waffle” on if Man caused CO2 is causing warming? Is that not a reasonable source? There are papers/opinions everywhere, but no definitive. This leads me (and the vast majority of folks are like me–IE non scientists) to question. Is that in any way unreasonable?

    You stated:”Do the deniers have a viable alternative model for how climate works?” followed with “No they do not”.But that is not accurate. There is (from what I see) a “concensus” (that term is no better than denier) that our climate is changing. The debate is around cause. It is possible, just possible, that good old Mom Nature is toying with us. So with this evidence (or lack) my concern is reasonable.

    There are counter arguments (and I’m not “all in” on those any more than I am on AGW) that are reasonable. You don’t have a problem with me, you have a problem with the reasonable, supported, and in some cases “peer reviewed” science that is counter to AGW.

    I can’t follow all the physics, oceanography, geology, geography, and everything else that is entailed in this discussion. So in lieu of that, I have to seek sound and reasoned discussion and presentation. I am proxy for “the vast majority” and I’m finding “credibility concerns” (on both sides) which leads me to an expectation that the answer lies somewhere in between. And I’m trying to find it. Instead, I find polarization. This reinforces the credibility concerns.

    There is much money on both sides. I’ll appreciate your data.

    It matters not if I’m a creationist. This is not about me (or you) it’s about the science and the science is unsettled. Remember, I’m only a proxy. There are creationists out there, and those who are not. But the “vast majority” are made up of all kinds. This is a valid point that both sides do not have a grip on.

    I’m formulating and I’m early in my discovery process. Don’t forget that.

  2. 102
    Danny Thomas says:

    #79 Sidd,

    Unfortunately, I have zero physics in my background. I have some chemistry (“C’s”–not my baliwick), some geology, biology, and zoology. That’s about it other than “general science”.

    But I can think and read.

    I do have skepticalscience in my bookmarks but honestly have only just started to visit.

    My CAGW buddy has been involved since 1998, so I’ve received a lot of information from him. But as I mentioned in my wordy (don’t know if you read it or if it bored you too much) introduction, he cannot remove his political bias and it shows. I can see where he gets that, but I can’t get him to see that by choosing that tone folks tune him out as they (we) don’t differentiate his science from his politics and it becomes like listening to a republican talk to a democrat about politics.

    I wish there was an ID card that would prove to folks the intent of the anonymous poster so you all here would get that my intentions are what I’ve stated they are. On other sites, the only “proof” is staying power so I’ll presume that’s what I’ll have to do here to gain credibility.

    But from a newcomer’s perspective, the tone FROM (not you) is already being set. Some has been accepting, but some dismissive and some mistrusting. Ah, the assumptions.

    Thanks for speaking with me. I appreciate you guidance.

  3. 103
    Danny Thomas says:

    #80, John,

    Reasonably analogy, but no reason for the condescension.

    I introduced myself in a wordy, but honest attempt to let you folks know who I am and that I have no intentions other than what I stated. Only staying power will help to cement this as a reality.

    Please read what I wrote to Edward about the difficulty in communication and you’ll gain further insight.

    So, based on your analogy, it is possible that at least some of the changes occurring (notice how definitive I was) are natural and some are man made. So we then need to look at solutions and reasonable applications.

    We could, “stop smoking”, “cut back”, smoke more, do nothing, or seek an alternative. Correct? So we need to make a decision. Now, since smoking has been described as being as addictive as heroin, it might take some time to stop.

    I’ve done the math on CO2 from the NOAA Mauna Loa site. Based on the long term trend (1958-present) I came up with 360 years to reach 800 ppm. Based on the short term trend (the past decade) that time line shortened to 196 years. So we’ve got some time.

    Continued smoking won’t improve our health, but the long term solution is worth the investment. But due to the “credibilty concerns” this patient has with his doctor he’s willing to hold off on emptying his bank account right now for a potentially better solution (Chantix?) based on technological improvements.

    There is developing technology in carbon sequestration, but interestingly I can find little on what we’ll do with it once it’s captured. I’ve read about gel coated membranes. There’s a plant outside San Antonio that will be making baking soda off a cement plant.

    So the solutions appear to be on the horizon, can we not agree? And since we cannot exclude nature, and there are issues with the CO2 discussion (currently higher than usual crop yields) it would be prudent for this decision maker (since there is currently no “fire to put out) to give this some time.

    Keep in mind, this is not about me. I’m proxy for the vast majority of the world. We’re not scientists.

  4. 104
    Danny Thomas says:

    #81 Edward,

    “That is how we know CO2 is doing it”. Where was mother nature eliminated?

    Even I, as a non scientist, understands that correlation does not equal causation.

    Please, I’m not trying to argue. I’m receiving what the AGW side is sending. But/and I’m receiving the “skeptical” side’s equally (in some cases) reasoned discussion. But neither is 100% definitive and what I’m hoping I can get you (not you personally) to understand is to consider me as proxy for the vast majority of us that will never get all the science. But we do get perceptions, can reason, analyse, and think.

    I so despise the term denier. My evaluation (non scientific) is that the tone is most have sufficient evidence to form reasoned opinions that global warming is occurring, but the debate is cause.

    So there needs to be prudent, common sense, appropriately timed solutions. I perceive that “we” (the vast majority, and those in the middle) see that there is no fire to put out.

    GW is in the conversation, but that conversation includes lots of other things that are begging to have money tossed at it. Social issues like ISIS, Ebola, Low Wages, etc. etc. are on the minds of us in the “vast majority” and for some reason “scientists” seem to lack the capability of grasping that.

    Did you read what I wrote back to you about communication? I spent a lot of time thinking about your question. I really hope to earn your trust and respect.

    But I must share that you and others like my buddy who use terms like “legitimate scientists” might as well substitute “Liberals”. That is the perception that by using that choice of words (and it is a choice) you (personally and collectively) are making and that’s part of the politics. And we know where politics gets us.

    And that 97% of climate scientists thing sounds just like 4 outta 5 dentist choose Crest.

    I can’t get my buddy to understand that scientists should not even attempt to be marketers as they’re not qualified. Not a shot, just an observation.

    Thanks for speaking with me. I look forward to hearing from you about my contribution about the communication.

  5. 105
    Danny Thomas says:

    #84 Rafael,

    Thank you. I’ll take that suggestion.

  6. 106
    wheelsoc says:

    Danny, have you read Spencer Weart’s page on climate change and climate science yet? If you haven’t, please stop trying to discuss things here and go avail yourself. It answers many of the questions you keep asking and addresses many of the issues you keep bringing up.

  7. 107
    Danny Thomas says:

    #87 Kevin,

    Thank you. That is sound discussion.

    I’m not a denier, but am skeptical about the causes. I even lean towards CO2 having some impact. Prudence is a perfect term for my thinking (but I’ve been beaten soundly for using it).

    I’m familiar with the greenhouse effect. I can’t do the physics. But I can help with improving the conversation.

    Your post is reasoned and rational. I don’t get that everywhere.

    This, if I may be so bold, is part of the problem and leads to zero solutions:”I take it that that is one reason so many denialist comments these days now begin, “No-one denies that there is climate change”

    I see that some deny, but percentage wise I’d toss out maybe 10%. Denier’s (and I hate that term) than do CAGW’ers. Now my perception is that AGW’ers and “skeptics” do. Does that make sense?

    I just read on JC a very interesting article that states that Republicans are against climate change, they’re against the proposed solutions.

    I cannot get my CAGW buddy to understand that if the left tries to sway the right it only leads to a fight. But, if a scientist, based only on sound reasoned evidence, makes a good argument that takes in to account mutually acceptable solutions then the fight is removed.

    I get that most here are here for altruistic reasons. I know my buddy is. But framing is so important. Scientists don’t understand the language of anything much but science.

    I want to learn from you, and from them, and from others. But I also want you to learn from me (and them and others).

    We’re not communicating, we’re only fighting. And fighting is exactly what the vast majority of us are exhausted over.

    You’ve helped me with your offering. I hope I’ve helped you.

  8. 108
    Richard Creager says:

    Danny Thomas-
    You’ve been given copious information, tips, pointers, direction. Now you need to use your brain, just a bit. No one can do that part for you.

  9. 109
    Danny Thomas says:


    Patronization and condescension are not conducive to good communication.

    The last line prior to good luck was totally unnecessary.

    The rest of the post is reasonably appreciated.

    I’ve tried to be nothing but respectable here, but I’m not so bashful as to not point out others who are not.

  10. 110
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Danny Thomas …
    > Why does the National Academy “waffle”

    Who says it does? Why do you believe this? What source are you trusting for this claim? Have you looked for yourself?

    Don’t trust me, I’m just some guy on the Internet. But here’s how I’d look that up:

    The first page of results gets this:
    Shorter: That’s not waffle. That’s toast.

  11. 111
    Danny Thomas says:

    #94 Radge,

    Yes, you are irritable. Thank you for your perspective. I can see you have made up your mind. I have not. And, sir, you cannot POUND yours in to me. If you don’t care for what I say, don’t respond. If you chose to respond, tone it down.

    The science is NOT settled. If you would read what others have posted (not just me) you’ll see that this is not only my perspective.

    If you wish to talk, I’m up for it. There is no need for the kind of discourse you’re offering. That is more of the problem than being part of the solution. Reasonable folks can have reasonable conversation. And, folks can have “reasonable” disagreement. Troll is a boring word and in my case is only based on your assumption.

    Have a great day.

  12. 112
    Danny Thomas says:

    #95 Ray,

    Why are you so sensitive and yelling at me? If I’ve offended, point out the specifics, and I’ll either explain if I’ve been misunderstood, or at least give you my basis.

    Now, where did I “Ignorantly trash the work of those who’ve dedicated their lives to understanding climate”?

    You actually stated quite well the dilemma. Some feedbacks add heat, some reduce it. There is a ‘pause/hiatus that happened. Yes, it’s been re analysed but it wasn’t in the models originally. And that leads to concern with future projections (no matter how evidence based) being suspect (for those of us who think for themselves). It follows that if it happened once, I could indeed happen again.

    I’m aware there is really no such thing as “proof”. There are sound analysis of evidence based on observation leading to reasoned conclusion. And it’s reasonable to conclude that our climate is changing, has changed, and will change in the future. The question is cause. There is evidence that we’re creating some of the change. But I am not at the point of conclusion. You may be, but I’m not. And I’m sorry if that does not suit you.

    Climate is weather related. Weather cannot be predicted in a finite way with any accuracy. So where is my thinking Unsound that therefore climate can not be predicted (or changing climate) with a great amount of accuracy also? Hold off on the next cup of coffee, read that question, and tell me where I’m not thinking reasonably or critically. And keep in mind that I, and I state this emphatically, that I have sufficient evidence that climate is changing and global warming is occurring. Cause is where I lack sufficient evidence. And, sir, I’m not alone.

  13. 113
    Keith Laurence says:

    #99 Thank you Hank. The link seems broken but the Real Climate ‘search’ gets you to a lot of good reading on the subject.

  14. 114
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Remember, I’m only a proxy. There are creationists out there, and those who are not. But the “vast majority” are made up of all kinds. This is a valid point that both sides do not have a grip on.

    I’m formulating and I’m early in my discovery process. Don’t forget that.

    Comment by Danny Thomas — 8 Nov 2014

    You’re asking for “answers” and getting plenty of them yet you haven’t done your homework. It takes quite a bit of reading and LISTENING to understand the implications of CO2 and Climate Change in general. First you have to accept the fundamentals of Physics. Maybe you should take a Physics course. Visit NASA like I did and talk to actual physicists. If you start off with the premise that the science is wrong you’re not going to get anywhere. Especially here. You just irritate those who have already done their homework on this issue. If you have trouble accepting reality that’s a personal issue for you to deal with. Not the people commenting on this site.

    I’m not buying your claim that you’re a “proxy” for anything. You sound more like a DIOGENES II whose only objective is to clog up the conversation with b.s. If you were really serious you would be asking questions and researching the answers before coming back with extended paragraphs of nonsense.

  15. 115
    Danny Thomas says:

    #96, Rafael,

    Exactly, and from what I’m able to glean in my undereducated and not oriented towards “physics” mind. There is evidence of global warming, but the question is how much and cause.

    Are you saying weather is not “physics”? By my understanding it is. I can’t do the physics, but as our accuracy is so poor there, how can I trust the physics extrapolated to climate and then to global when it relates to forecasting.

    I see evidence of warming. Growing seasons are expanding, there are some “atypical” weather events (note, they were unforecasted), ice is melting (and growing), sea levels are rising. What I don’t (yet?) see is “where’s the fire”? Does that make sense?

  16. 116
    Hank Roberts says:

    Whether smoke or dust hovers above clouds or in a cloud-free environment can lead to very different impacts on the atmosphere and climate. “To put it simply, smoke or dust in cloud-free conditions generally causes a cooling of the Earth-atmosphere system,” said Yu, “whereas the same types of particles may have a warming effect if they are located above clouds.”

    Why the difference? Smoke and dust plumes contain large number of “absorbing aerosols”—particles that both scatter and absorb the energy in sunlight. In cloud-free conditions, the scattering effect dominates, and the particles reflect more solar radiation back to space than underlying dark surfaces such as the ocean or a forest. This produces a cooling effect.

    “But clouds are generally much brighter than Earth’s surfaces, meaning they reflect more sunlight back toward space. Absorbing aerosols above clouds intercept some of this cloud-reflected light, warming the atmosphere in the process,” Yu said. “The brighter the underlying cloud layer, the stronger the warming effect of the aerosols.”

    Though several studies have demonstrated the warming effect of aerosols above clouds, few climate models currently incorporate it, and many key details remain fuzzy. For instance, how does the size, shape, or reflectivity of smoke or dust particles affect the warming? And how do other factors—like humidity—influence the climate effects?…

  17. 117

    Danny, you wrote:

    “Then, more frequent and more severe hurricanes and tornados…”

    – See more at:

    This suggests that you are paying attention, not to what climate science has actually said, but to what the Moranos of this world would have you *think* that climate science has said. As I commented on the 6th, complete with supporting link, hurricanes are 1) not forecast to become more frequent, but the reverse; and 2) the projected trend is not expected to become observable for some decades yet. (Over that time scale, they are expected to become more severe on average, and in most markedly so at the higher levels of severity.) And though there was been some speculation about tornado severity, there is not now, nor has there ever been, any projection as to what tornadoes may do under global warming:

    There is low confidence of large-scale trends in storminess over the last century and there is still insufficient evidence to determine whether robust trends exist in small-scale severe weather events such as hail or thunder storms.

    (Tornadoes would be another type of ‘small-scale severe weather event. The quote is from WG1 Technical Summary, p. TS-15 (in the final draft, which I what I happened to have at hand.))

  18. 118

    Jasper Jaynes–

    #82–What makes you think that I don’t worry about that? I spend considerable amounts of time and energy communticating on this topic, and networking and organizing to try to bring political pressure to bear in ways that may be effective.

    #97–See above, and moreover, that’s pretty consistent with what I wrote in the first place.

  19. 119
    Danny Thomas says:

    #106 Wheelsoc,

    Not sure where my response to you went.

    I’ve been to the site. I’ve honestly only scanned the information. It’s on my list, but I note the latest revision was 2008 and much has occurred since. IPCC is on what, revision 5. More data has been gathered.

    I’m doubtful the solution to my (and most of us out here) lies in that book. I get your point.

  20. 120
    wili says:

    Trolls (and responses to them) seem to be dominating the discussions here and at SkS recently. Is there some place else to go to find (relatively) troll-free discussions of these vitally important topic?

  21. 121
    Danny Thomas says:

    #117, Kevin,

    Not sure which comment on the 6th you want me to review. I’ll go back and revisit.

    I’ve not formed a conclusion, but will share this background. My CAGW buddy has stated “more and frequent Hurricanes and tornados”, so I went to NOAA and looked. Hurricanes (from memory)> out of the last 10 years, 3 showed a higher number, 2 were lower and the rest were “average”. I did the same with tornadoes and about the same results occurred. One example. In terms of dollars yes, he’s not wrong, but duh. I’d bet if we charted that it’d be close to straight up.

    But can you see where the forecasting dilemma reappears? If we can’t forecast the weather, how can we forecast the climate change and then associated weather? Does this not follow? Am I not making sense or communicating this question well?

    I don’t take much of what others try to impose on me, but I do take suggestions which I can research for myself.

    [Response: Please stop submitting multiple versions of the same comment and then multiple comments complaining about delays. This is a moderated site and we aren’t checking every minute of every day – especially during the work day or over weekends (when life actually beckons). Rather, take the opportunity to think of your comments as more than just an instant reaction to someone else’s and take the time to formulate your thoughts more clearly and concisely. Trust me, it will help. – gavin]

  22. 122
    Steve Fish says:

    Danny Thomas:

    You have asked about the relationship between CO2 and global temperature and have been answered more than 20 times with some information and authoritative sources where verifiable scientific answers can be found. Your repeated returns here asking the same questions and adding in more in lengthy tracts is unresponsive and irritating. Now you are complaining when you get negative comments to your impolite behavior. I suggest that you settle the very basic question regarding the CO2-temperature relationship first, and this will provide a basis for proceeding with your other questions.


  23. 123
    Radge Havers says:

    Danny @~ 111:

    You’ve just tone trolled, deflected, and provided no substantive response to any of my comments, which I’ve delivered to you in a range of tones. I’m therefore defaulting to dftt. We’re done.

  24. 124
    SecularAnimist says:

    Danny Thomas wrote: “Patronization and condescension are not conducive to good communication.”


    So please stop being patronizing and condescending towards the other commenters who have been so patiently trying to communicate to you just how ill-informed your numerous incorrect assertions are.

  25. 125
    Dan Miller says:

    #93 Chris: The US has chosen to go with the Clean Air Act and that’s the final word on US energy policy?! I don’t think so. The only reason Obama is pursuing administrative action is because of lack of action from congress. But congress won’t ignore climate change forever. You see, there is this thing called physics, and it doesn’t have much respect for policymakers that ignore science. As policymakers begin to get blamed (rightly so) for the consequences of their inaction, they will move to a revenue-neutral carbon fee, especially since it will create jobs and grow the economy. When it comes to action on climate change, “we will go from impossible to inevitable, without stopping at probable.”

    #100 Jef: While the public gets a dividend from fossil fuel extraction, they have no incentive to use more expensive fossil fuels when alternatives are available (conservation, efficiency, renewables). Also, power plant operators will respond to the fee. Why build a coal plant when you know that there will be a $100/ton fee on CO2 in 10 years? And why pay a $50/ton fee when you can use CCS to get rid of the CO2 for $40/ton? But, as CO2 emissions decrease, everyone’s dividend will decrease and then they will demand that policymakers increase the fee!

  26. 126
    Edward Greisch says:

    89 Danny Thomas: Never trust any human. Ever. No court of law ever proved anything. Courts are so incredibly stupid that they believe eye witnesses who are human. Trust issue solved.

    You are supposed to trust only 1 thing: Scientific experiments. You have to do the experiment personally, with your own hands. Experiments are not just everything. Experiments are the only thing. Consensus, Consistency, Authority, Mystical revelation or religion and Durability are nothing. As I told you before and hope you memorize:

    “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.”

  27. 127
    Edward Greisch says:

    103 Danny Thomas: “Based on the short term trend (the past decade) that time line shortened to 196 years. So we’ve got some time.” is wrong.

    One of our people, Barton Paul Levenson, did a different kind of analysis and found that agriculture will collapse some time between 2050 and 2055. Bart later withdrew the dates. It could happen sooner or later. But 40 years is a much better estimate than 196 years.

    There are other reasons to believe that civilization is on the brink of collapse or that the collapse has already started.:

    Reference “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009. Catton says that we humans are about to experience a population crash. The population biologist, Catton, I think says that we are due for a population crash without GW and without aquifers running dry.

    Collapse within 15 years.:
    “A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction” by Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas and Eugenia Kalnay November 13, 2012

    Collapse any time now.:

    “Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse”
    “As more and more capital goes towards resource extraction, industrial output per capita starts to fall – in the book, from about 2015.”
    “Health and education services are cut back, and that combines to bring about a rise in the death rate from about 2020. Global population begins to fall from about 2030, by about half a billion people per decade. Living conditions fall to levels similar to the early 1900s.”
    “Wars could break out; so could genuine global environmental leadership. Either could dramatically affect the trajectory.”

    The original paper:
    “Is Global Collapse imminent?”

  28. 128
    Edward Greisch says:

    Danny Thomas: Probability and Statistics are required subjects. No modern scientist will ever tell you that he is certain. Certainty comes only from charlatans. Science is always expressed in probability.

    This is part of the culture of science.

  29. 129
    Chris Dudley says:

    Hank (#98),

    Far infrared data is not only hard to come by but it takes a while to ponder. This paper was over a decade in the writing.

    Being a parent, I see quite a few kids’ magician shows. They are done for state level Destination Imagination awards ceremonies or Upward Soccer Awards. A common trick is to have a large card with domino dots on either side. By holding the card with your hand covering the place for the sixth dot, a five dot pattern can be made to seem like a six dot pattern. Hold it the other way and it looks like just four dots. On the opposite side there are two dots arranged so that either one or three dots seem to be there. Kids figure it out pretty quick; they are supposed to. So the end of the trick is to have the dots really disappear or appear.

    Now, what if the magician puts the card in a cloth bag and just said “Presto, now there are five dots!” and that is the whole trick? It kind of breaks the whole thing. A damp atmosphere is like that. It is the cloth bag. It does not matter what is inside because everything going on inside is covered up. High emissivity or low emissivity, you’ll never get a difference outside the atmosphere because you can only see the upper level of the atmosphere and not the ground from space. If the ocean makes the air damp, then a difference between ice when the air is dry and ocean when the air is damp in only the difference between dry and damp air and not what is on the ground since there is only one kind of ground, ice, that can actually radiate to space.

  30. 130
    SecularAnimist says:

    I’ve seen this pattern here again and again:

    Somebody shows up and immediately begins bombastically lecturing the world’s climate scientists that they have got it all wrong, they don’t understand physics, they don’t understand the scientific method, they don’t understand the philosophy of science, they don’t have any data, their models don’t work, and so on and so forth, in the most arrogant and condescending manner imaginable …

    And in the course of doing so, the commenter makes it abundantly clear that he knows pretty much nothing about climate science and is just spouting nonsense and falsehoods that he’s picked up from various denialist propaganda outlets and has unquestioningly accepted as gospel, and he thinks that doing so makes him a “skeptic”.

    And then when other commenters politely but firmly point out to him that his statements are ill-informed and incorrect, and generously take their own time to provide accurate information and point him to helpful educational resources, he starts wailing that he is being “attacked”.

  31. 131
    sidd says:

    Mr: Danny Thomas writes:

    “Unfortunately, I have zero physics in my background.”

    That might prove a difficulty.

    “I have some chemistry … some geology, biology, and zoology.”

    That’s good.

    Tailor your reading to your strengths. For example, since you have some geology, look at the paleo studies. “The Two Mile Time Machine” is nice. Or you could look at Hansen’s work on the last few glacial stades. Your biology might lead you to Wilson’s works on current extinction rates as compared to the previous Great Extinction events. Chemistry might help you understand the classic works on carbonate balance in the oceans, and human impact thereon. But you will eventually have to learn some physics. And math.

    Some of the reaction to your statements and questions arise from the fact that all of them have been discussed to death in this and other fora. Most of your questions are explicitly answered at
    They have an active comment section where you can ask for guidance with the articles. It might be more appropriate than this forum.


  32. 132
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Are you saying weather is not “physics”? By my understanding it is. I can’t do the physics, but as our accuracy is so poor there, how can I trust the physics extrapolated to climate and then to global when it relates to forecasting.

    I see evidence of warming. Growing seasons are expanding, there are some “atypical” weather events (note, they were unforecasted), ice is melting (and growing), sea levels are rising. What I don’t (yet?) see is “where’s the fire”? Does that make sense?

    Comment by Danny Thomas — 8 Nov 2014

    Oh boy!

    “One common tactic of concern trolls is the “a plague on both your houses” approach, where the concern troll tries to convince people that both sides of the ideological divide are just as bad as each other, and so no one can think themselves “correct” but must engage in endless hedging and caveats. This preys on a willingness to debate critics and allow dissent; everyone wastes time discussing the matter and bending over backwards, so as not to appear intolerant of disagreement, all to the great amusement of the troll.”

  33. 133
    Victor says:

    #88 Thank you, Kevin, for a very thoughtful and honest response. Fact is, I’m on your side regarding the need to cut back on fossil fuels, particularly coal. We would all, and India especially, be much better off if coal, which is a heavy duty pollutant, could be phased out in favor of a cleaner (also safer to procure) fuel. Especially true of black carbon. Also, I am very much in favor of renewables, such as solar, hydro and wind, which imo MUST be developed at a much faster pace than at present — because all the fossil fuels will run out at some point and we need to be prepared.

    I’m concerned, however, regarding the push to take drastic steps in such a hurry that serious mistakes are likely to be made, both technical and in the realm of economics. And I’m also concerned because, frankly, if we really believe we absolutely need to cut back drastically on fossil fuels NOW, there will be no other choice than nuclear power. That was, in fact, the first thing that came into my mind after I saw Al Gore’s film. My friends reassured me that this was not what he was proposing and I agreed. Nevertheless, if we want to be realistic about cutting back drastically on f.f. in the near future, I see no other option. And in my view nuclear is potentially far more dangerous than anything g.w. could bring to us, even over the next 100 years. It would certainly be a crap shoot and that scares me.

  34. 134
    Tom Dayton says:

    Danny Thomas wrote “Climate is weather related. Weather cannot be predicted in a finite way with any accuracy. So where is my thinking Unsound that therefore climate can not be predicted (or changing climate) with a great amount of accuracy also?”

    Danny, the answer is that climate is not weather. Predicting climate is about boundary conditions. You can predict when a pot of water will boil, but you cannot predict the temperatures of individual, tiny portions of the water in the pot. One of many explanations of the difference: Be sure to read the Intermediate tabbed pane after you read the Basic one.

  35. 135
    marcus says:

    Danny, this is a site about climate science (and directed at, if I remember correctly, media coverage of it), nevertheless it has a “start here” section. You should work through this at least a bit before “discussing” things.
    It makes no sense to clip in factoids from a so called “other side ” here (presumably the denialosphere) , and every time when pointed at the pseudoscience behind their arguments getting defensive and saying you have no clue in physics. If you want to sincerely challenge viewpoints, you want to learn them…except you are after something else


  36. 136
    Jon Kirwan says:

    #112 Danny: “Climate is weather related. Weather cannot be predicted in a finite way with any accuracy. So where is my thinking Unsound that therefore climate can not be predicted (or changing climate) with a great amount of accuracy also?”

    Do you know the difference between predicting when the next drop will drip from a faucet from predicting the accumulation of drips in a bowl under the faucet? Would you be able to understand the profound difficulty of predicting a droplet’s timing from the relative ease with which the bowl’s contents over time might be well estimated?

    Weather is like predicting the timing and size of the next droplet from the faucet. It’s very much dependent on just how much information you have about the initial conditions, just prior. Climate is like predicting the bowl’s overall contents after much time has passed and almost doesn’t at all depend upon initial conditions to get the numbers close to right.

    You can fire up a climate model simulation and set the Earth’s initial wind conditions to just about anything you like, at random, and then let the simulation run for a few centuries and wind up with the Hadley and Ferrel and Polar cells we find in today’s atmosphere. The physics just eventually gets you there. It doesn’t matter where you start, you always wind up at the same place in the end. Because the initial values don’t matter much. The boundary conditions determine the results.

    Try doing that with a weather simulation. Set the Earth’s initial wind conditions to anything you like, at random. The output for tomorrow’s forcast could be just about anything, as a result. Weather depends intimately on the initial conditions just prior to the prediction. The better you know them, the better the prediction. But those initial conditions are nearly useless the longer out you go, with weather.

    Not so, climate. In a very meaningful sense, climate problems are diametrically different to those of weather problems. And you are wrong, if you imagine that what you “see” for weather modelling soundly implies anything much for climate modelling.

    Think back to those faucet droplets. Very hard to predict each and every one. Very easy to predict their accumulation over time. Totally different problems. Nothing at all similar to each other. Yet you seem to be arguing that they are the same, simply because they are both about “the water dripping from the faucet.”

    Your argument is just as profoundly wrong.

  37. 137
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#117),

    There has been some work since the AR5 review cut off that suggest convective storms get more severe. For example: “Robust increases in severe thunderstorm environments in response to greenhouse forcing”

    Don’t get pielked.

  38. 138
    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    #115 D. T. asks and tells me:
    “Are you saying weather is not “physics”? By my understanding it is. I can’t do the physics, but as our accuracy is so poor there, how can I trust the physics extrapolated to climate and then to global when it relates to forecasting”
    I would suggest you to read some of the numerous articles that explain the difference between weather and climate, because you have wrong ideas about it. But I´ll tell you just a few things in my way.
    WEATHER IS PHYSICS, of course, but where many many factors intervene (so many that it could be considered -arguably – a chaotic system). No matter how many data you have to make a forecast, you have a grade of uncertainty even if it is just for tomorrow. Forecasting the weather for a later time (such as Christmas) and space (such as London) points requires to know most likely line of evolution of the weather (in general, not only in London) from today until Christmas, and how it will affect London … Even with lots of data from today´s scenario, and very modern tools, on each change of day there is a possibility (nowadays certainly small) of error. Any error would change things … And from today to Christmas most probably there will be an error or more. I don´t know what level of elemental probability theory knowledge you have got, but just an analogy: it´s very unlike you choose from a deck of cards an ace of hearts first time, but if you try tens of times, what is unlike is NOT to get one!
    You also say:
    “… but as our accuracy is so poor there, how can I trust the physics extrapolated to climate and then to global when it relates to forecasting …”
    As I told you (#96), NOBODY IS MAKING AN EXTRAPOLATION OF LOCAL WEATHER FORECAST PHYSICS TO CLIMATE AND THEN TO GLOBAL WHATSOEVER !!!. It is rather the other way around. With simple physic laws a GLOBAL WARMING is foreseen, and thanks to many branches of science we know CLIMATE most likely will CHANGE in a certain way.
    You could say that climate change scientists make very educated guesses about weather generalities: likelihhod of more or less frequent rain, dry or humid days, extreme events, etc. BUT THEY´LL NEVER TELL YOU IT WILL RAIN OR SNOW IN LONDON ON 2100 CHRISTMAS DAY IN LONDON !!!

  39. 139
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Dan, Jef, (re: fee & dividend)

    I think you’re missing the point by looking at abstract averages like “the public”. The effect of a significant fee and dividend would be to reward those who burn less fossil carbon at the expense of those who burn more.
    Not only does this give everyone a real incentive to burn less which would translate into investment choices, it also makes those who burn less more competitive. If your business burned less than the competition, your lower prices would effectively be subsidized by your less efficient competitors. And when efficient actors win market share, average efficiency increases. Think about the waste taking place in the retail sector for instance due to the low relative price of energy…
    If some people would indeed “demand that policymakers increase the fee”, it’s because others would lose. And their loss is part of the reason fee & dividend might work. There’s no change without losers and someone needs to pay for the necessary investment.

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:

    > far-IR
    The point I gathered was interesting is that it’s becoming possible to model the difference in energy radiated away in that band, now that we have sensors for it.

    Do I have this much right? as I read that paper on far-IR emissivity from ice vs. water, the interesting news for modelers would be (my paraphrase)

    — During polar winters, ice as we now understand it has a high emissivity in far-IR; when the ice is below dry air (cold, so the water has frozen out) the ice, efficiently emitting photons in the far-IR band, radiates energy to space.

    The news is this lets us make observations that can account for a significant amount of energy going off-planet in detail– related to the ice or water, dry or damp air, rather than infrared heat loss being one big fuzzy number based on radiation physics assumptions

    — Open water has lower emissivity in the far-IR (and also open water is associated with a moist atmosphere); for both reasons, the infrared photons that are emitted from open water heat up the atmosphere rather than leaving the planet.

    — as climate changes, the planet has less of an opening to get rid of heat through emission of far-IR photons from ice through dry air at the poles

    — that difference is due to climate change and is a significant feedback: more heat transferred, going into the atmosphere, and less heat radiated off to space.

    Um, should we call it a “polar iris”?

    Would there also be a bump in far-IR heat radiation to space on those extreme occasions when water clouds do push up into the stratosphere, where the water freezes, releasing heat energy to the surrounding dry air?

  41. 141

    #121–Danny, I don’t ‘want’ you to visit that particular link; I merely offered you the opportunity if you are so inclined. It was a comment that was addressed to another issue which happened to be relevant. But note that if you choose, that underlined bit represents a clickable link for you (or whomever) to follow, so it would be convenient.

  42. 142
    SecularAnimist says:

    Victor wrote: “if we really believe we absolutely need to cut back drastically on fossil fuels NOW, there will be no other choice than nuclear power”

    Victor, please be advised that the moderators of this site have repeatedly asked that commenters stick to discussing CLIMATE and avoid discussion of mitigation strategies, in particular alternatives to the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation, and especially nuclear power — discussions of which typically degenerate into tiresome, repetitive, highly polarized and emotional arguments laced with personal attacks.

    The folks who host and moderate this site are world-class climate scientists who will generously share their expertise with interested members of the public. I urge you to take grateful advantage of that.

    They are not, however, experts on energy technologies, and they have expressed frustration with those who use these comment pages for endless and pointless “debates” about nuclear power. There are plenty of other forums for that.

  43. 143

    Victor wrote:

    I’m also concerned because, frankly, if we really believe we absolutely need to cut back drastically on fossil fuels NOW, there will be no other choice than nuclear power.

    That’s a common perception, and is shared by some here. But for what it is worth, I have a different perspective, which I can sum up in two brief points.

    1) I’m not that concerned if we build more nuclear power. While the results from one bad accident are devastating enough that risks can’t be disregarded even when the probability of accident is very low, the risks of climate change are both high probability and high cost. So the calculus of more nuclear would, in my mind, be favorable if that’s the straight choice.

    2) I note that many folks share your view–Mark Lynas and Dr. Hansen are at least partial examples. There seems to be an unspoked assumption that ‘if only’ we could summon the political will, nuclear power could be unleashed, and enormous additions could be made in no time flat.

    However, I think that that view is mistaken. Nuclear is extremely hard to finance, for various good reasons. It also has more constraints including water [un]availability, and (I suspect, at least) insuficient skilled workforce: where do all the trained nuclear engineers and technologists come from, if we are to suddenly start adding tens of gigawatts of nuclear capacity each year? (And reactor demographics are such that we’d likely need to add that much just to maintain existing capacity levels.)

    Meanwhile (and by contrast), according to the IEA, in 2013 we did in fact add tens of gigawatts of renewable capacity: onshore wind and solar PV additions together totaled ~73 Gigawatts (and that’s in the face of a very bad year for wind in the US, due to on-again, off-again policies.) Cumulative global renewable capacity is now close to that of natural gas, and growing rapidly.

    So my perspective is that, while nuclear power likely has some role to play in the future, it is extremely unlikely to scale up fast enough to do what you apparently fear. On the other hand, the growth (and declining costs) of renewables, while not yet sufficient, do offer at least the reasonable possibility that they could be a large part of the solution we need.

    There’s much more to mull over on both sides of the question–and this issue is a sensitive one here; I’m treading on the edge a bit with this response–so I’ll leave it there in the interest of brevity.

    I will add, however, that this whole subthread is, from a logical point of view, a tad dodgy. That is, your concern does not represent an argument against the mainstream science. If it were to be regarded so–and you don’t say that–it would be a classic case of arguing from consequences.

    Just to spell it out a bit more explicitly, were every bit of your concern correct and ironclad, it could still be the case (as very large assemblages of evidence strongly suggests) that we urgently need to mitigate carbon emissions to avoid very large damages to biodiversity, human economy, and to public health. That need would not go away just because some of us don’t like the available options to accomplish the goal.

    If you’ll forgive the pun, in that case we would just have to suck it up–or choose to suffer the damage.

  44. 144
    patrick says:

    @115 Danny Thomas: > The question is how much and cause.

    The science on the cause of global warming is clear enough. It’s more than correlation, it’s physics.

    Here’s a chart on the relative significance of things that add up to global warming:

    Here’s a start on causation, or on the A in AGW:

    “While CO2 absorption and release is always happening as a result of natural processes, the recent rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere is known to be mainly due to human activity.[70] Researchers know this both by calculating the amount released based on various national statistics, and by examining the ratio of various carbon isotopes in the atmosphere,[70] as the burning of long-buried fossil fuels releases CO2 containing carbon of different isotopic ratios to those of living plants, enabling them to distinguish between natural and human-caused contributions to CO2 concentration.”

    The rate of the rise of CO2 levels cannot be explained by other than human factors. This global data animation shows how the rise compares to historic levels–and shows the time frame. The rate of the rise of CO2 is unprecedented in the world as we know it, by every means we have to know any of it–and by every means we have to know anything.

    @104 > you might as well substitute “Liberals” for terms like “legitimate scientists.”

    The science is not liberal or conservative. If anything it is conservative.

    (These labels just put you in a box and make you easier to manipulate, I think.)
    What would Milton Friedman do (about climate change)?

    This includes the Milton Friedman professor of economics at the University of Chicago, Michael Greenstone. I’ve heard it (all of it) and you should too, if you identify as conservative or know anyone who does. You may find, at minimum, that conversations at the root of conservative economics are advanced far beyond your presumptions, re: the human cause of climate change.

  45. 145
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Danny Thomas,
    On the weather vs. climate issue. Yes, weather is chaotic. It can only be predicted with any accuracy out to a few days. Climate, however, deals with averages, not fluctuations.

    As an analogy, consider the stock market. I presume you have a 401K or some other investment portfolio. Stocks are presumably an important component thereof, and yield good returns overall. And yet, if I were to ask you to bet all your money on where IBM’s stock will close tomorrow, you would probably balk, and would almost certainly be wrong. Instead, you invest in a broad portfolio and follow the trend, not the fluctuations. A good analyst can predict this, just as a good model can (and has) predict what climate will do.

  46. 146
    Dan Miller says:

    #139 Anonymous Coward: Regarding Fee and Dividend, because wealthy people generate far more CO2 than than average person and because the government generates about a third of CO2 and doesn’t get a dividend, it turns out that most people earn more from the dividend than they pay in higher prices. And for the wealthy that do pay more, they probably won’t notice it much (and they will be more wealthy anyway because F&D grows the economy). So, the losers are fossil fuel companies (unless they become clean energy companies). The winners are everyone else. And if you consider what happens to everyone’s children if we don’t act, there really isn’t any downside to implementing F&D!

  47. 147
    Danny Thomas says:


    I thank you for your time and efforts. It is obvious that this is not the site for me. Even the mod is testy. I would post, and nothing would happen. I would ask if all comments went thru mod. No Answer. I apologize if I “wasted” you time.

    It still makes zero sense that we’re being told that weather will be “X” in some future point in time. When we can’t tell what weather will be next month. We can say it will be cooler (here in Texas) as it’s nearing winter, but that’s solar related.

    I find it quite interesting socially that AGW folks feel they’re having so much trouble communicating they have to invent a “Psychology of climate change communication” and yet when one “dares” to visit a site named “realclimate” tells the truth about how undereducated they are, they’re castigated, belittle, called trolls and asked effectively to leave.

    I doubt you’ll ever see this. I’m welcome on other “science” sites with the same level of ignorance that I brought here. I shared in an apparently deleted post that there is something to be learned even by folks that “already know it all” from some of us that don’t. But except for the few, the closed minds here already KNOW they have nothing to learn from one such as I. They already know that the perception from those of us in the middle is what it is so why bother.

    I apologize again again for WASTING YOUR TIME. I’m sure that those who’ve done so towards me will never have a true backbone enough to apologize to me. Keep up the good work. You and I can both see how it wound up in this last vote, and expecting different results from the same behavior is, well, ……………………

  48. 148
    Hank Roberts says:

    … Stuart Licht’s team at George Washington University in Washington, DC, has worked out how to make a key component of fertiliser – ammonia – that could eliminate emissions and minimise cost. In fact it’s an extension of a method that Stuart told me can also produce zero carbon cement, iron, bleach, magnesium, and capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere. …

    … The small ‘heliostat’ solar systems that the George Washington University use also embody another kind of promise. If STEP ammonia needs only a heliostat plus air, sunlight and water, it could provide the beginnings of local fertiliser factories in less developed countries….

  49. 149
    wili says:

    OK, I’m taking this site off my list of sites to regularly visit. To much trolling and troll-feeding. Hope it improves. A sad loss indeed if it doesn’t.

    Best, wili.

  50. 150
    Edward Greisch says:

    143 Kevin McKinney & 133 Victor: Mitigation is off topic on RealClimate. Please tell me how you became afraid of nuclear. I would really like to know. Victor, would ask in email if I could find your email address since mitigation is off topic here.