Open Mind

Global Climate Destabilization

October 17, 2007 · 120 Comments

The science teacher who posts videos under the pseudonym wonderingmind42 has another excellent video to offer: How it all ends, or, “in the test tube.”

I especially like his suggested term for the phenomenon we’re in the middle of: global climate destabilization. Definitely worth a look.

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

120 responses so far ↓

  • nanny_govt_sucks // October 17, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    His claims of “Destruction and upheaval” are debateable considering that a warmer, wetter, CO2 fertilized environment will benefit plants, animals that feed on those plants, and many areas of the globe for humans. Sure, there will be some losers, but we ALL won’t be losers. Just ask any Russian, for instance.

  • ks // October 17, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    There are studies that conclude a CO2 “fertilized” (a bit of a misnomer since fertilizers tend to consists of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, copper, molybdenum, nickel, chlorine, and zinc) would provide plants with LESS nutrients for animals that eat them.

    The whole “global warming could be good for us” excuse is, I would have thought, beneath you, NGS.

  • Chad // October 18, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Just wondering if anyone here noticed: Where’s reasic? Looks like the site’s offline for good. ;(

  • Dano // October 18, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Don’t mind na_gs: he’ll continue to post comments that state CO2 good! no matter how often we link to studies that show otherwise.

    Best to implement ignorage.

    Best,

    D

  • Vixt // October 18, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Only 1 problem:

    While his flash boom smoke and mirrors show with the devil hat is entertaining and designed to make one side of the debate look silly, this guy has no way to prove that a warming world will actually result in unrest, upheaval, etc. as he claims in column B.

    It seems he’s just saying “change is bad” without knowing for sure if warming is bad or not. Seems like another victim of the oft repeated “warm is bad, warm is bad, warm is bad” mantra.

    I don’t think a couple of degrees upward will cause everything to come crashing down. It may open up areas to human habitation or use that could not be used before. It may in fact help us more than hurt us. Tipping points in a degree or two? Doubtful. Last at past climate -much warmer. The world didn’t go “boom” then, not likely to now. We wouldn’t be here to argue about it if the world hadn’t warmed up.

    Humans adapt better than any species on the planet, and many species adapt just fine without our our help.

    Now an ice age, that’s a whole different matter. There isn’t anything we can do to prevent the advance of huge ice sheets. We can’t engineer or invent around that easily at all. We can’t make crops grow in cold wet climate, but crops do just fine in a greenhouse, better even.

    [Response: During a reasonably rapid deglaciation ("coming out of an ice age"), which happens a lot faster than glaciation ("going into an ice age"), the sustained rate of global average temperature change is about 1 deg.C per thousand years. It introduces stress on the biosphere, but species do adapt.

    The present rate of global warming is 1.8 deg.C/century, and we're expected to warm 2 to 3 deg.C in this century. That's 20 to 30 times *faster* than a reasonably rapid deglaciation. That's the problem: rapid global climate change, a *lot* faster than happened going into or coming out of ice ages. When the U.S. grainbelt turns to desert and the great rivers of Asia dry up, all within a single century, when nations go to war over dwindling resources, humans will survive. But the human suffering which will result is far too high a price to pay for temporary luxury for the few. And if the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets collapse -- which really *could* happen -- all hell will break loose.

    There's no "warm is bad" mantra -- that's just a straw-man argument. Rapid global climate destabilization is bad.]

  • Hank Roberts // October 18, 2007 at 5:06 am

    There’s no real difference between rust and wildfire, they’re both oxidation. Oh, at different rates, of course.

  • steven mosher // October 18, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    pascal’s wager. see you all in church

  • luminous beauty // October 18, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, Pascal’s Wager,

    Not about the existence of God, but more along the lines of whether it is wise to step blind-folded into a street with speeding traffic.

    Ay, there’s the rub.

    Are you feeling lucky, punk?

  • Gareth // October 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Nanny still hasn’t read WG2 of AR4.

    Ignorance is bliss, eh, Nanny? But to the rest of us, you just look foolish.

  • steven mosher // October 19, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Well luminous, you cannot accept the logic in one case and not accept it in another. Well, you
    CAN, but that’s the point.

    So, will we see see you church! Ahhh, wait you already have a faith.

    When people couldn’t be convinced by standard apologetics, the next rhetorical ploy was the appeal to authority or consensus. When that failed, the last appeal was consequentialist. It is better to believe and be wrong than disbelieve and be wrong. It’s ironic how the history of arguments for religious belief are recapitulated today in arguments for global warming. It’s doubly ironic actually. I’ll leave the second layer to the student.

    [Response: What's not at all ironic, but is truly dangerous, is how the history of obfuscation and deception practiced by tobacco industry shills is being replayed before our very eyes by denialists of anthropogenic global warming.]

  • Vixt // October 19, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Mr. Mosher, I think maybe something called “group think” applies also.

    The concept of group think is defined in a 1977 book by Janis & Mann called Decision-making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment, New York Free Press.
    There are 8 signs of group think:

    1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.

    2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.

    3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.

    4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.

    5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.

    6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.

    7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group’s decision; silence is seen as consent.

    8. Mind guards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.

    I also don’t see people whom have questions about the science and the policy, like those asked in this blog or others act like the tobacco people. Thats really harsh and over the top.

    I don’t understand why people who beleive in manmade global warming have to be always applying such negative images to the other side, unless they are following #4 above.

    [Response: Steven Mosher dragged the discussion into the mud with his *repeated* smarmy references to global warming belief as a "religion." But when he gets a taste of his own medicine, you cry "really harsh" and "over the top" while compounding his insult with your own rather elaborate smarmy insult about "group-think." Your attempt to claim the high ground by accusing me of applying negative images, in a comment whose only purpose is to do exactly that to believers, is pure hypocrisy.

    I'm disgusted by this, disgusted with both of you, and disgusted with myself; I apologize to all readers for having been suckered into sinking to the same deplorable level.]

  • Hank Roberts // October 19, 2007 at 4:51 am

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007GL031027.shtml

    Future El Niño teleconnection patterns over the U.S. are projected to shift eastward and northward due in part to the different midlatitude base state atmospheric circulation in a warmer climate. Consequently, projections for the changes in the patterns of extremes over the U.S. during future El Niño events include: decreases of frost days over the southwestern U.S expand northward and eastward; increases in intense precipitation in the SW U.S. expands eastward and areas in the SE U.S. become stronger; and decreases of heat wave intensity over much of the southern tier of states turn to increases.

  • Hank Roberts // October 19, 2007 at 4:58 am

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007GL031188.shtml
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L19708, doi:10.1029/2007GL031188, 2007

    Orbital and CO2 forcing of late Paleozoic continental ice sheets

    … a coupled ice sheet-climate model is used to simulate continental ice sheets under a wide range of late Paleozoic orbital and pCO2 conditions. The model experiments indicate that orbital variations at pCO2 concentrations below 2X pre-industrial atmospheric levels (PAL; 280 ppm) produce large changes in late Paleozoic ice volume (∼1.3 × 108 km3) and sea level (∼20 to 245 m). Between 2 and 8X PAL Gondwana continental ice is simulated only under the most extreme Southern Hemisphere cold summer orbit, but still produces significant ice volumes (∼8–12 × 107 km3). Our results highlight the important role of atmospheric CO2 in determining the distribution, volume, and stability of late Paleozoic ice sheets, factors that ultimately impacted sea level, cyclothem deposition, and global climate, and reconcile disparate views of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age.

  • Andrew Dodds // October 19, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Vixt -

    Let’s see…

    (1) AGW-Denialists ignore any possibility that AGW could be a problem, and ignore (or compartmentalise) the obvious.

    (2) AGW-Denialists are in the constant business of trying to explain away inconvienient facts; witness the current attempts to explain away the Arctic ice melt..

    (3) Oh, yes, be have the Lomborg effect: The assertion that action on AGW would slow 3rd-world growth, divert resources from other causes, etc.. denial is moral!

    (4) What do Denialists think of everyone they place in the Environmentalist camp? Oh yes, Greenies, Commies, Statists, etc, etc..

    (5), (6). Getting a denialist to admit error or criticize another denialist is just a bit tricky.

    (8) ClimateAudit, JunkScience, CO2Science, etc, etc..

    Now, I would say that this kind of groupthink happens in the Environmental movement - Greenpeace has/is some classic examples, and I think that a lot of the ‘conservation on a personal level’ stuff is very strongly rooted in the Protestant/Methodist ideas of vows of poverty and self denial.

    But to accuse AGW scientists of Groupthinking.. pot, kettle, black.

  • luminous beauty // October 19, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Vixt,

    “1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.

    2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.”

    Now which group would this be most descriptive of; those who say the risk of human caused global warming should be rationally considered, or those who say (in spite of the evidence) it isn’t happening, or if it is, it is of no consequence, and accuse those who consider it to be suffering delusions of a false religion? (#4?)

    Pot. meet Kettle.

  • tamino // October 19, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Please no more about group-think, or religion. It really doesn’t contribute to the dialogue.

  • steven mosher // October 19, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Tamino,

    I think you might have confused me with someone else. That’s ok. Other folks on RC have made the same rather mundane error.
    I’m not a tobbaco shill.

    My point was a point of philosophy and an observation about the structure of particular arguments. I am an agnostic. As such I recognize arguments made on both sides of me. Those extolling me to believe; those extolling me to not believe. This is not an argument about religion. It is an observation about the rhetorical devices and argumentative schema people use to influence others. The parallel between your science teachers argument and a classical example of apolegetics is undeniable.
    Had you ever heard of pascal’s wager? Did you
    not see the exact match of logic?

    I find both arguments flawed. However, since you are wedded to the conclusion of the former, you are uncomfortable about the comparison to the latter. That’s good.

    It’s not about religion. It’s about the structure of an argument.

    [Response: Your first comment on this thread was just one line: "pascal’s wager. see you all in church." That doesn't sound like it's "just about the structure of the argument," it sounds like a smarmy insult. Readers will have to form their own opinions.]

  • Steve Bloom // October 19, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Vixt, the single worst AGW effect that can be predicted with a high level of confidence to be short-term (2050) is the loss of the Tibetan-region glaciers and snow cover, a process which we can see proceeding very rapidly. Because of the seasonality of precipitation (monsoons), this will result in a pretty extreme loss of river flow on a seasonal basis. Over a billion people rely on the flow of those rivers not being seasonal. Consider the implications of that, and consider also that three of the most affected countries have nuclear weapons.

    Other impacts, in particular sea level rise, ocean acidification and drought, could be worse by 2050, but the timing of those is less certain.

  • steven mosher // October 19, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Tamino.

    You construe it as an smarmy insult.
    And now ask the mob to decide.

    First, there is nothing ingraiting about my “insult”

    There is nothing sleazy about my “insult”

    There is nothing insulting about my “insult”.

    I award you no points.

    Now, about my porported insult.

    What exactly is the insult? My comment cites pascals wager. A wager that takes the exact form of the wager analyzed by the science teacher. The same logic of argument is used. Decision theory is used to assert that a certain path should be taken for consequentialist reasons.

    So, where is the insult? I can imagine these:

    1. You think I am insinuating that you are not religious and dont go to church.

    2. You think I am insinuating that you are not logical by endorsing an argument that is used by theists to coerce belief.

    3. You think I am insinuating that you never heard of pascals wager or if you had, had never thought how it was like this argument.

    Which insult are you complaining about?

    1. Atheism
    2. Hypocrisy.
    3. Ignorance.

    The insult you complain about is the most telling.

    Cross posted. I do not approve of people whining about banned posts after the fact.

  • theduke // October 19, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    “. . . it sounds like a smarmy insult.”

    Only to those unfamiliar with Pascal’s wager.

  • luminous beauty // October 20, 2007 at 12:24 am

    tamino,

    I agree that the discussion about religion has no place in a discussion about science.

    However, the human mind has a strong component of magical thinking underlying our everyday mode of perception. That a stick, seen from the corner of one’s eye, might look like a snake, has survival value. A weak understanding of science and philosophy, such as Mr. Mosher exhibits, can invert that intuitive perception into seeing every snake as a stick. Not so smart.

    For Mr. Mosher’s benefit, Pascal’s Wager applied to the existence of God, requires faith in the absence of evidence. Applied to anthropogenic global warming, it requires due caution, even in the presence of uncertainty in what is, nonetheless, compelling evidence. The difference is undeniable. The similitude is just difficult to resist for those whose prejudices are weighted against accepting the evidence.

    Agnostic literally means without knowledge. Arguing from ignorance is just that. Know-nothing bloviation.

    Is it better or worse to be a tobacco apologist or to be swayed by the sophist arguments that tobacco apologists and political ideologists inject into the debate?

    You decide.

  • Eric // October 20, 2007 at 12:59 am

    Yes, Pascal’s Wager strikes people as ridiculous precisely because there is no evidence for the existence of God.

    When there is evidence for a particular state of affairs, things change. I presume Mr Mosher has fire insurance. This is because there is widespread evidence of the risk posed by house fires. On the other hand, I am not going to be able to sell much insurance based on the risk that your home will undergo spontaneous and inexplicable vanishing. Nonetheless, the argument I use in both cases is the same: a ‘consequentialist’ argument, ‘better to be safe than sorry.’

    Arguments don’t exist in a vacuum. Evidence from the real world is important to arguments. In this case, Pascal’s Wager is worthless because it would require at least some evidence to be worth bothering with in the first place.

    [Response: There must be some blog somewhere dedicated to discussion of the philosophical implications of Pascal's wager. This isn't it.]

  • Conard // October 20, 2007 at 1:09 am

    re: Steve Bloom http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/global-climate-destabilization/#comment-6875

    Are we to understand that the Precautionary Principle (similar to stick that Mr Mosher used to stir this pot) compels us to act out of fear that policy makers for the affected areas will use nuclear weapons to destroy some portion of the earth as a means to solve their water crisis?

  • theduke // October 20, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Eric wrote: “Yes, Pascal’s Wager strikes people as ridiculous precisely because there is no evidence for the existence of God.”

    There is abundant evidence for the existence of God. Look around you. Creation is evidence of the existence of God. Of course, it’s not necessarily the God that presides over the afterlife, which was the basis of Pascal’s wager. So it is accurate to say that there is no evidence of heaven or hell, but there is evidence of a creator– whom I choose to call God by name. Unless, of course, you believe the universe was formed by a “chance coming together of atoms,” to quote one-time atheist Whitaker Chambers.

    Nor is “better safe than sorry,” (the lesson of the video) an efficacious remedy here since the solutions and restrictions people are advocating have real costs, costs that will weigh dramatically on the poorest people in the world if they are precluded from achieving some kind of technological and industrial parity with the so-called “developed world.”

  • EliRabett // October 20, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Well for one thing Pascal’s wager is a deeply cynical analysis that only someone who conceives of God as a pretentious creep could accept. Of course, that pisses God off, and he send those who take Pascal’s wager, straight to hell, where they belong. Speaking of which, Steve, there is a much safer bet on offer from Brian Schmidt who you can locate at Back Seat Driving.

  • cce // October 20, 2007 at 5:01 am

    I wager that if you live your life as if God exists, you still go to some version of Hell, because you chose the wrong God.

  • Chris O'Neill // October 20, 2007 at 9:51 am

    “there is evidence of a creator– whom I choose to call God by name. Unless, of course, you believe the universe was formed by a “chance coming together of atoms,””

    and there is evidence of a creator of the creator, unless, of course, you believe the creator was formed by a chance coming together of creator atoms.

    I can see the creator concept is really useful.

  • steven mosher // October 20, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    We need not make this about pascals wager. I did primarily to put the particular argument made by the science teacher into a historical perspective. Yes, and to stir the pot. Which is a good thing I think. I find it funny that a good number of people have been using this argument without realizing one of its most famous applications.

    At one point in the film the teacher actually comes close to a similiar insight when he flippently refers to the threat of World devouring hamsters. His strawman is rather easy to knock down. I merely substitued the classical version that illustrates one of the issues with this type of decision analysis. Since the issue of deity is rather inflamatory and since not many people are conversant in the history of the wager, lets consider some variants:

    consider some other disasters:

    The Sun will eventually go out;
    Yellowstone supervolcano; huge asteroid impact; San andreas fault earthquake.
    Another CAT5 hits NOLA

    Democrats win in 2008 ( just kidding lighten up)

    This isnt a trick question. Pick one of the above and run it through the 4 box decision analysis.

  • steven mosher // October 20, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Lets also consider the other classes of argument here. I presented some Dystopia in my last post.
    Bad futures you might pay to avoid.

    ? raises the questions?

    How bad is the future, and how likely is that future , how timely is that future , and who gets hurt? Simple example.

    Over the next 100 years we think the Sea level might rise by a meter. What is the cost of
    this flooding ? ( around 250B)
    Who should pay to prevent it or
    protect against it or recover from it? ( costs should be allocated to change behavior)
    Should I pay so Barbara streisand can live 2 feet from high tide? Should I pay so that people in NOLA can live below sea level in a hurricane strike zone? Take action against potential sea level increases? Absolutely. Tax the Coast.

    I want to live on the edge of a volcano. You should all pay to abate my risk. You dont smoke. What if I do? Should your insurance rates be based on MY increased risk?

    Would you die for a polar bear? Would you die for a Tibetian monk? A Kurdish fellow.?
    What is a polar bear worth? What is a Kurd worth? One can’t frame policy questions in the framework the teacher did and avoid these questions. ( well you can avoid the questions by being a twit ) Very simply he reduced the debate to cost /benefit. He owns that, as does Tamino.
    So, you cannot, but you will, whine about other cost/benefit type questions.

    ( psst see how the pascal wager thing was a trap )

    Changing speed:

    The calamity view of the future is a rhetorical device. Call this view “the stick” The stick is important because it controls behavior. Do this or get Beat! When people become innured to “the stick” ,then the stick is made metaphysical. Do this or your “soul” will get beat. This is called damnation. When people lose the belief in eternal fairylands, then the next ploy is to threaten their children. Save the planet or your children will get beat.

    Dystopia: The stick.
    Utopia:the carrot.

    Now, comes the carrot. Bunnies will like this.
    The other way to look at our high school teachers trenchant video, vetted and peer reviewed by Tamino and YouTube no less, is to look at Utopias.

    Simply, taking action X has Big promise Y. Since the Big Promise Y is SO BIG, it makes sense to take action X. Invest in Solar, Invest in wind. Invest in anything that has a big enough payoff. Ever see a guy at the roulette table bet
    on every number? Thinking one of these bets has to hit! Solar is great. A sythentic tree is a real possibility. This nano device will take solar energy and CO2 and create free energy and suck bad gas from the atmosphere. Think of it as supernanotree. SuperWood. A few billions of investment will create free energy for all and a CO2 free atmosphere. A few Billions, with HUGE returns. It would be silly not to bet on this Utopia. No matter how small the probability of success. ( Object lesson)

    Rapping up. The decision theory approach to the problem does not REMOVE the uncertainty as the good teacher supposes: it amplifies the uncertainty or moves the uncertainty. Information is not free.

  • cce // October 20, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Steve, your argument is the type a ten year old gives for not cleaning his room. Everything in the universe is somehow relevent to the reason why he doesn’t want to clean up a mess that he created.

    So lets play the game. You can run each of those examples through the boxes and you will come up with solutions. Intrinsic to these examples is the probability of something happening and how soon. World devouring hamsters: not probable. End of the sun: billions of years. Short of the Sun flickering out tomorrow, there are actions that can and should be taken to mitigate what we can control and then adapt to the rest.

    The teacher’s argument does not depend on the probability of unstoppable natural disasters, or world devouring hamsters. If you accept that the scientific consensus on AGW is at least possibily correct, then his logic is undeniable. If you believe that AGW is a fairy tail thought up by a huge worldwide conspiracy, then his argument will carry little weight.

  • Eli Rabett // October 21, 2007 at 12:33 am

    cce has the right of it. One does not remove uncertainty, one learns how to evaluate it, and in the light of that evaluation how to make rational decisions.

    However, the list Mosher gave is instructive

    The Sun will eventually go out - As cc said, you should live so long. Not to worry in this billion or so years, so rationally only people who worry about monsters under the bed and astrophysicists care about this, but I repeat myself.

    Yellowstone supervolcano - again, a small but real risk pretty much only invoked by people who don;t want to do anything for something else, who say, why bother, yellowstone will blow again leaving us all dead (seriously, I have seen that argument made). The rational allocate funding to volcanologists to monitor volcaanoes, to also help us better be able to predict large volcanic eruptions and perhaps even at some far future date to directly affect eruptions. However supervolcanoes are not something we can handle with today’s technology but we can work towards it.

    Huge asteroid impact - We can to a large extent deal with this. First, we do have the technology to monitor asteroids in near earth orbit, we are starting to do so. We also have the technology to deflect them today. Inelegant as it is radiation pressure from thermonuclear devices delivered to orbit give us a modicum of protection. Other, less brutal technologies are on the cusp of being developed.

    San andreas fault earthquake - We allocate funding to monitoring the fault (it is already pretty well instrumented), we improve building codes forcing people to build in ways that are safer for earthquakes, we organize and train emergency rescue to help with an earthquake and we think about how to rebuild. In short, everything republicans hate (just kidding?)

    Another CAT5 hits NOLA - we make sure that a) there is a competent organized evacuation and relief effort and same for rebuilding, in short everything that republicans did not do (just kidding?)

  • windansea // October 21, 2007 at 1:01 am

    Another CAT5 hits NOLA - we make sure that a) there is a competent organized evacuation and relief effort and same for rebuilding

    how’s that ACE 2007 graph working for you now? oops!

  • theduke // October 21, 2007 at 1:22 am

    cce: you said, “If you accept that the scientific consensus on AGW is at least possibily correct, then his logic is undeniable.”

    Apart from the fact that I reject the supposition that a “consensus” exists, that’s illogical. Think of it this way: You are the commander in chief in a war. You suspect another country is going to attack you far from the front where you are currently engaged. You send a large number of troops and supplies to the newly threatened area. This weakens your troops at the front that is currently being contested. You lose that battle and the attack that you suspected would occur based on faulty intelligence is not forthcoming.

    I think the analogy is appropriate. As Lonborg points out, there are extremely urgent problems that afflict the world that could be addressed with the expenditures currently being proposed to combat warming, which may or may not be a clear and present danger.

    “If you believe that AGW is a fairy tail thought up by a huge worldwide conspiracy, then his argument will carry little weight.”

    I don’t believe that. I believe it is a plausible theory that many people in the environmental sciences, who were alarmed by explosive economic expansion, population growth and rapid change found attractive in the late 1970s. It didn’t hurt that projections of imminent catastrophe allowed them to demand and receive millions in research money. As it became a cash cow, there was enormous pressure to continue to verify tentative early results. Then the UN, a body searching for a mission–any mission– to redeem itself in a world that mostly views it with contempt, got involved and saw the opportunity to expand its mandate.

    The more I read about AGW the more I see it as a leaky ship. Enough has been uncovered already to make much of the science that AGW was originally founded on seem suspect. The fact that many of the original researchers are putting up barriers to prevent their work from being closely reviewed doesn’t improve the impression.

    Fix the science. Prove that CO2 is causing the reputed warming and not other factors like solar activity, normal variations in climate, bad data, faulty collation, and/or wishful thinking. Climatology is far from a comprehensive, highly developed science. As science goes, it’s in its infancy. And AGW is certainly not settled science. Too many highly respected scientists are skeptics.

  • EliRabett // October 21, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Apart from the fact that I reject the supposition that a “consensus” exists, that’s illogical. Think of it this way: You are the commander in chief in a war. You suspect another country is going to attack you far from the front where you are currently engaged. You send a large number of troops and supplies to the newly threatened area. This weakens your troops at the front that is currently being contested. You lose that battle and the attack that you suspected would occur based on faulty intelligence is not forthcoming.

    Hmm, Afghanistan, Iraq……

  • cce // October 21, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Natural variability cannot explain the temperature change of the last few decades, and the increase of anthropogenic greenhouse gases is responsible for most of the warming. That’s the “consensus.” To believe otherwise, you’d have to believe that the NAS, AGU, AAAS, and AMS are all incompetent or part of a worldwide conspiracy, all in favor of the beliefs of unspecified “respected scientists.”

  • luminous beauty // October 21, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    theduke expresses his opinion, which like mouths and anuses, everyone possesses a set:

    “there was enormous pressure to continue to verify tentative early results.”

    This is to my mind the very kind of partially educated thinking that poisons the public well on this and so many issues that impinge upon science.

    ‘Verification’ is a word quite devoid of meaning in research. One doesn’t receive research grants based on ‘verifying’ evidence, but on falsification. That is, one’s proposal must indicate a line of research that has to potential to disprove, not prove, prior evidence. The evidence must be tested.

    It is on the basis of passing repeated testing of an hypothesis as thoroughly and completely by as many lines and approaches as can be wrung from the human imagination, that an hypothesis moves to a solid theoretical basis and upon which scientific consensus is founded.

    There is no evidence I have ever heard put forth, that the climate research community has anything but diligently followed this fundamental procedure. To simply suggest, without the slightest evidence, venal motivations from what, to all appearance is mere political posture, is uninformed, and frankly, rather paranoid.

  • theduke // October 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Okay, luminous, replace the word “verification” with “replication. ” Does that help?

    You also said: “It is on the basis of passing repeated testing of an hypothesis as thoroughly and completely by as many lines and approaches as can be wrung from the human imagination, that an hypothesis moves to a solid theoretical basis and upon which scientific consensus is founded.”

    Thanks for the tutorial. Unfortunately, what I’m hearing is that researchers are hiding the data that helped form the early “consensus” so therefore their “solid theoretical basis” is highly suspect.

    All the data needs to be made freely available. If it’s not, suspicion will only continue to grow.

    There was a similar consensus regarding Marxism and historical determinism that spread around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. There was likewise in the science of eugenics in the 20th. What that tells me is that after the initial burst of enthusiasm and certitude that accompanies a newly founded theory, there needs to be careful review of how such certitude came into being.

    There is too much at stake for scientists to be playing shell games with their data.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 23, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    It seems to me that this will fit in with the rest of the postings:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/staticarticles/article58279.html

    [Response: Does this mean that you *are* taking sides after all?]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 23, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    No, not at all. What I *am” against is the “Planet-in-Peril* attitude. I think global warming is good for us. Humankind has historically done well when the climate was warm and suffered when it was cold. There is little doubt that warming has occurred (for whatever reason, and there I do not take sides). Since warming is good (in my humble opinion) I don’t see why 1) we should fear it, 2) why we should fight it [if we can or not]. What we should concentrate on is how we can adapt to it. But again, this is my personal opinion and I would never try to impose that on other people, or tell them what to do, or have the government impose “solutions” on them. All this is politics and not science. I *was* debating with myself if I should even post Buchanan’s piece, but compared to some of the other vitriol that is floating around, I thought it was mild. What I agree with is that there is no reason for panic and if we do panic we will be taken advantage of, such is human nature.

    [Response: Then we'll agree to disagree.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 23, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Then we can do that with civility. Disagreement is the life blood of science.

  • luminous beauty // October 24, 2007 at 3:07 am

    I certainly agree that panic is counter-productive. But adaptation does not inherently construe merely response to unmitigable events, but also the foresight of prevention of mitigateable ones.

    It isn’t really a few degrees of temperature change that concerns me, but what changes that few degrees will induce in the complex inter-actions of climate and weather.

    You do realize there is a sardonic twist of irony inherent in any Scandinavian’s opinion that warming is good, don’t you? You do? Just checking.

  • luminous beauty // October 24, 2007 at 3:20 am

    I beg pardon for mis-spelling mitigatable twice, or is it three times, now? Is it even a word?

  • CraigM // October 24, 2007 at 3:53 am

    LS

    “What we should concentrate on is how we can adapt to it.”

    Adaptation? We could all move to Denmark. Enough room for 20 million Australians in Denmark?

    Water seems to be an ever growing issue down here (we are in drought). But maybe, since we are a rich nation, we might decide to invest heavily in some massive desalination. Though it all sounds rather expensive at the minute.

    But howz about those Africans? How should they adapt? I dont know if they have the funds to invest in desalination on any scale at all. Its all set to get pretty dry there isnt it? Maybe they could all move to Denmark with you guys? How far above sea level are you guys anyhow?

    Hey maybe if we all crowd into Siberia and Alaska, that has to be well above sea level and should be perfect temperature wise. There’s not much infrastructure up there though. Its going to be awfully expensive to rebuild everything from scratch, and i dont even know if the russkies and yankees will take us. I dunno, it all seems simpler and cheaper to just go solar from my perspective…but hey, maybe we could colonise Antarctica. errr?

  • ks // October 24, 2007 at 4:25 am

    “I think global warming is good for us. Humankind has historically done well when the climate was warm and suffered when it was cold.” - Dr. S

    I was expecting a little more than a simplistic explanation from such an educated individual. Dr. Svalgaard’s post extended what he called a political solution on this shaky supposition. However, assessing the historical (and more importantly likely future) implications on humanity is going to be rooted in the physical sciences. And in that analysis, he has failed to demonstrate a critical rationale.

    I believe his mis-step can be traced back to a word. Global warming. Dr. Svalgaard looks at the issue with only one variable in mind… temperature. By not taking the numerous other factors into account (sea level rise, extreme weather events, cost of moving entire agricultural, industrial, residential infrastructures) he arrives at the erroneous and simplistic conclusion that future climate change will be good for us, paraphrasing if I may, because relatively mild changes for the warmer in the past haven’t been so bad.

    I would expect him, as a scientist, to understand that just because it was so in the past, does not make it so in the future.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 24, 2007 at 5:24 am

    Craig sez:
    “Adaptation? We could all move to Denmark. Enough room for 20 million Australians in Denmark?”

    Well, we could send you all to Greenland. Cold and enough Water [ice].

    “Maybe they could all move to Denmark with you guys? How far above sea level are you guys anyhow?”

    FYI, I live in Houston, TX. Our summer daytime temp hovers near 40C for months on end and we are 46 feet above sea level.

    Global warming means more evaporation and generally a WETTER world, so maybe water will become less of a problem. Except that [as always] things are nor equally distributed and some have too much and others too little. If you build on the flood plain, expect to be flooded now and then, and if you build in the desert expect to be dry now and then.

    Life on this planet has been here for billions of years. Have endured CO2 concentrations 30 times what they are today, have endured Pangea’s extreme inland heat, have endured showball Earth with lots and lots of ice, have regularly cycled through ice ages every 20-100K years, have endured meteor impacts, etc, etc, and yet have survived because life can adapt and is good at it. Now this is on the grand scale. On my scale, I hate changes that are not under my control, and I will (as you) whine and lament and be pissed off, but eventually I’ll die and the Earth will turn on its axis without me and not the worse off for it, and new life will be there under other conditions and will thrive and in turn whine and lament.

  • Andrew Dodds // October 24, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Leif -

    Technically, we could wipe out 99% of the species on the planet including everything bigger than a rat and you wouldn’t notice 5-10 million years later. In this sense the argument that the biosphere overall will adapt is correct, but not a very useful argument on human timescales.

    Persoally, it’s the humans I worry about. They are the most important species on the planet, certainly as long as there is no evidence of intelligent life off-planet.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 24, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    If human activities were the main reason for the warming we might be able to do something about that, but it seems more likely that the warming is a combination of several causes, only some of which are under our control. Especially since warmings have occurred
    in the past. So some of all the disasters people mention will happen anyway, possibly less severe to a degree if we fight, but bad anyway. We would thus have to adapt in any case. I do not have enough faith in humanity to believe
    that we can at the same time fight AND adapt. Fighting is a global cause, and our track record in global cooperation is dismal. Adaptation is local and has therefore a much bigger chance of success. If we act in panic mode, we’ll fail in all endeavors regardless. Adaptation may result in warfare [has always done it in the past] so we’ll have to think about this as well. But forced “fighting” might also lead to war or unrest. Will we try to force China not to burn coal, or India not to have so many methane-farting cows?

    I think that the past *can* be a guide to the future, especially since human nature changes only very slowly, if at all. Simplistic? Yes, it has to be handled in simple terms, so that people can understand what is going on. Would we like to have an elite telling us that “issues are so complex that you will not be able to understand, so just do as we tell you and trust us”?

    But, please, I’m not here as a political activist. There is the science of an ever-changing environment, and there is the politics of it. Sometimes the politics is driven by the science, but mostly it is not. Now, it is perfectly acceptable [even desirable] to discuss the politics and the wishes, hopes, and aspirations of participants or groups, but often the tone of the discussion ["I had expected more", "mis-steps, "failed to", ad hominem argumentation, etc] leaves something to be desired. I do understand that that has become the norm in such circles and that one just has to adapt a bit and be more thick-skinned.

  • ks // October 24, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    “Global warming means more evaporation and generally a WETTER world, so maybe water will become less of a problem. Except that [as always] things are nor equally distributed and some have too much and others too little. If you build on the flood plain, expect to be flooded now and then, and if you build in the desert expect to be dry now and then.”

    Again, Dr. S misses key points from the scientists in other fields. Climate change is expected to significantly increase the differences between dry and wet areas (something he glosses over). Water will be less evenly distributed. The world will be wetter in the sense that the oceans will occupy more space. That is hardly the “wetter” world that will benefit mankind. Dr. S fails to distinguish supplies of fresh water from salt water and the negative impact of having less of the former and more of the latter.

    I think Dr. Svalgaard may be a little out of his area of expertise here.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 24, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    ks: “I think Dr. Svalgaard may be a little out of his area of expertise here.”
    Yes, I’m WAY out of it, but I am good at following scientific arguments, e.g.:

    “Climate change is expected to significantly increase the differences between dry and wet areas (something he glosses over).”

    ‘glosses over’ implies intent so the argument is ad hominem, but let us try to address the statement in a serious [hmm, also a bit 'ad hominemish' - hard to avoid] vein:
    1) “Climate change”. Any change? maybe in this crowd understood to be changing for the warmer. Let us assume that.
    2) “expected”. By whom? the standard scientific argumentation rules now says: “give a reference to the scientific literature “. So please do. You might say: “everybody knows and if you don’t, you are not qualified to participate in the discussion” but please educate me, then. I am capable of being educated.
    3) “differences between dry and wet areas”. What difference? area in square miles? annual rainfall? acre-feet of water? again some references would be in order.
    4) “The world will be wetter in the sense that the oceans will occupy more space”. I meant that evaporation would increase, and the atmosphere would be wetter and it would rain more. So again, let us see a reference to why it would not rain more and the water would stay as salt water in the oceans.

    If you are more knowledgeable in one field then it is your duty to educate other people seeking such knowledge. [That is at least how I see it - and I have tried to live by that over in the topic of "solar cycle 24"]. Now, much of the discussion is probably well-trodden ground and the arguments are tending to become a bit stale with time as our understanding does not seem to have increased commensurately with the volume of the debate.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 24, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    As an example of twisted [see, I’m learning the lingo] logic CNN’s Tom Foreman today warned of a possible “century of fires, just like what we’re seeing now” as a result of global warming.

    Foreman cautioned viewers that, “greater periods of rain” that fuel “increased vegetation growth” over the next century may provide a “potential link between these fires and global warming.”

    He then pointed to a map showing “plant growth is expected to double or even triple as a result of greater periods of rain, driven by climate change.”

    ===> I guess the “logic” is that you need all that rain to grow more wood, because without wood you wouldn’t have fuel for the fires…

    Further from CNN:
    “But was there a source refuting the claims that global warming was to blame for the fires in California? Nope. Not one.”

    ===> I find the last one especially bad. There is such a thing as “not even wrong”.

  • Petro // October 24, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Dr Svalgaard,

    Have you ever read IPCC AR4? You know, you get there scientific pointers to your questions 1) and 2).

  • richard // October 24, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    “CNN’s Tom Foreman..”

    Ahh, yes. That would be the noted climatologist Tom Foreman. Or, perhaps Strawman Tom Foreman.

  • Petro // October 24, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Actually, I would like to ask some other questions from Leif as well.

    What are your views on the following three statements?

    1) CO2 absorbs heat.
    2) CO2 levels in atmosphere has increased since 1850.
    3) CO2 in atmosphere is derived from burning of coal, oil and gas.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 24, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Petro,
    1) I took care of myself, and by 2) I did not just mean everybody, but the ones that specifically address 3) and 4). Are they also in AR4? Now AR4 is a weighty tome and it would be nice if the experts could point me to the relevant places.

  • ks // October 24, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Dr. S, I appreciate your response to a part of my 2nd post. First off, it was definitely not ad hom to assess your statement as simplifying the issue. I was not speaking to intent, I was speaking to the quality of analysis in your statement (it was lacking). Ad hom would look very different… perhaps something along the lines of “Dr. S is a troll (or fat, or a russian, or immoral) and therefore he is wrong.” My statement judging that you were out of your area of expertise (aside from clicking on your research page) was that your posts lacked critical analysis. Incorrectly invoking ad hom won’t advance this discussion. So let’s cut to it.

    1) “Climate change”. Any change? maybe in this crowd understood to be changing for the warmer. Let us assume that.

    - change in the recent past (say 30 years) and near future (say 100 years). it is not limited to the temperature variable. as the title of this post suggests, it is a decrease in stability with an increased probability of extreme events.

    2) “expected”. By whom?

    - IPCC AR4 Chapter 10 “Global Climate Projections.” http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch10.pdf
    you can find the authors on their website. If you have questions of their assessment of the relevant scientific literature, you would be best served contacting them.

    3) “differences between dry and wet areas”. What difference? area in square miles? annual rainfall? acre-feet of water? again some references would be in order.

    page 768-770 talk about changes in precipitation. Page 30 of the FAQ (page 122) says, “wet extremes are expected to become more severe in many areas where mean precipitation is expected to increase, and dry extremes are projected to become more severe in areas where mean precipitation is projected to decrease.” this is also a perfect example of why the term climate change is more accurate than global warming. changes in rainfall are not implicit when talking strictly about changes in T.

    For a more specific example, “Annual mean precipitation is likely to increase in Canada and the NE USA, and likely to decrease in the SW.” page 850. So like I said, increased differences between wet and dry areas.

    4) “The world will be wetter in the sense that the oceans will occupy more space”. I meant that evaporation would increase, and the atmosphere would be wetter and it would rain more.

    Evaporation will increase, and it will rain more. If you read chapter 10, you’ll notice that there will be “notable” increases in rain over the tropical oceans. Additionally, sea level is expected to rise and sea ice cover is expected to decrease. Ch 10 pages 770-772. Thus, the oceans will occupy more space.

  • windansea // October 24, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    “wet extremes are expected to become more severe in many areas where mean precipitation is expected to increase, and dry extremes are projected to become more severe in areas where mean precipitation is projected to decrease.”

    LOL…that’s pretty conclusive, some places will get dryer and some wetter

    sign me up for some carbon credits

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 1:47 am

    “wet extremes are expected to become more severe in many areas where mean precipitation is expected to increase, and dry extremes are projected to become more severe in areas where mean precipitation is projected to decrease.”

    this looks like a vacuous statement; the wetter areas will have wetter extremes and the dryer areas will have dryer extremes. Information content = nil.

    AR4 p.752
    “the Greenland Ice Sheet would largely be eliminated, raising sea level by about 7 m, if a sufficiently warm climate were maintained for millennia.”
    This one says: “if the climate would be warm enough to melt the Greenland Ice Sheet, then the Ice Sheet would melt.” Information content = nil.

    same page:
    “Even if temperatures were to decrease later, it is possible that the reduction of the ice sheet to a much smaller extent would be irreversible”
    Finally: no more Ice Ages !. That is certainly worth shooting for.
    same page:
    “there is presently no consensus on the long-term future of the Antarctic ice sheet or its contribution to sea level rise”, but if we get rid of the Greenland Ice Sheet permanently, that would be very desirable. If ice couldn’t reform in Greenland one might hope the same would be the case in Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia, thus no more Ice ages.
    But, maybe the experts didn’t really mean it when they said “irreversible”, maybe only in the very short term. Who knows?

    page 750:
    “Globally averaged mean water vapour, evaporation and precipitation are projected to increase”.
    Good for agriculture globally averaged. But maybe the experts mean that the rain will increase where we don’t need or want it, and not where we do need or want it? If so, we must adapt.

    page 751:
    Glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet are also projected to contribute positively to sea level. [..] The Antarctic Ice Sheet will receive increased snowfall without experiencing substantial surface melting, thus gaining mass and contributing negatively to sea level.

    Now the later ice cap is how much bigger than the former? Ten times, that is. So its negative contribution could far outweigh the ten times smaller positive contribution of Greenland. Maybe sea level would drop as a result…

    I could go on and on and on. When I read the AR4 it was not convincing and it is not convincing now. The various statements of AR4 are not backed up individually by references to original literature, but are summaries by experts,
    and oftentimes (as show above) not too informative. You might say that they are the experts and I am not, so I should shut up and follow the herd. Trouble is that there are enough other experts that have a differing opinion that the IPCC [many denier blogs can give you a long list], so I might wish to rely on my own training as a scientist and look into some of the claims in depth, in order to assess the overall quality of the report. This is perfectly doable and will work. I have not done it [yet] as I have not been motivated enough [it is hard work].

    and last: “gloss over” has these meanings used as a verb:

    1) an artfully misleading interpretation.
    2) to give a specious interpretation of…
    where specious => plausible, but deceptive

    so I will maintain that that speaks to ‘intent’.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 2:15 am

    #

    Petro // Oct 24th 2007 at 7:22 pm
    “What are your views on the following three statements?

    1) CO2 absorbs heat.
    2) CO2 levels in atmosphere has increased since 1850.
    3) CO2 in atmosphere is derived from burning of coal, oil and gas.”

    here goes:
    1) if CO2 absorbs heat, lets have more of it. That would take care of GW. Now, anything that absorbs heat will radiate away exactly the same amount of heat. So the statement is true, but incomplete.
    2) CO2 levels in atmosphere has increased since 1850. CO2 levels have varied enormously over geological time and are right now enormously lower than at times in the past. The correct statement is that CO2 levels now are higher than CO2 levels in 1850.
    3) “CO2 in atmosphere is derived from burning of coal, oil and gas”. As stated, I think you imply an “only” after the “is”. Otherwise we are just talking degrees. The truth is that CO2 derives from many sources: burning of fossil and non-fossil fuels, even wood (as in California right now) :-), natural wild fires set by lightning, outgassing from volcanoes and geysers, going out of solution from the oceans, even meteorites are a source of CO2. Here is a question for you: how many tons of CO2 does the population of Los Angeles out into the atmosphere each day? Try to estimate it and then tell me.

  • ks // October 25, 2007 at 3:18 am

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gloss%20over

    gloss over

    verb
    1. treat hurriedly or avoid dealing with properly

    I’ll conditionally forgive you if english is not your first language. And the quote mining you just demonstrated may speak to your intent. I’ve backed up everything I’ve written while you have made some precarious statements.

    “Globally averaged mean water vapour, evaporation and precipitation are projected to increase”.
    Good for agriculture globally averaged.

    - While cherry picking the pages you must have missed the part where it mentioned summer time precipitation decreasing and winter precipitation increasing. Maybe you are not familiar with agriculture, but crops need precipitation in the summer… not the winter.

    I’ve learned not to argue with cranks. Adieu.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 3:32 am

    When the earth was in its infancy, some four-and-a half billion years ago, it is believed that the atmosphere was predominantly composed of carbon dioxide, which would have put its CO2 concentration, in terms of the units most commonly used today, at something on the order of 1,000,000 ppm. By 500 million years ago, the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration is estimated to have fallen to only 20 times more than it is today, or something on the order of 7500 ppm; and by 300 million years ago, it had declined to close to the air’s current CO2 concentration of 370 ppm, after which it rose to about five times (1850 ppm) where it now stands at 220 million years before present (Berner 1990, 1992, 1993, 1997; Kasting 1993). Then, during the middle Eocene, some 43 million years ago, the atmospheric CO2 concentration is estimated to have dropped to a mean value of approximately 385 ppm (Pearson and Palmer, 1999); while between 25 to 9 million years ago, it is believed to have varied between 180 and 290 ppm (Pagani et al., 1999). This latter concentration range is essentially the same range over which the air’s CO2 concentration oscillated during the 100,000-year glacial cycles of the past 420,000 years (Fischer et al., 1999; Petit et al., 1999). With the inception of the Industrial Revolution, however, the air’s CO2 content once again began an upward surge that has now taken it to the 370 ppm level.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // October 25, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Maybe you are not familiar with agriculture, but crops need precipitation in the summer… not the winter.

    Yet somehow we can still grow crops in California, where there is little summer precipitation.

  • tamino // October 25, 2007 at 4:07 am

    Dr. Svalgard,


    1) if CO2 absorbs heat, lets have more of it. That would take care of GW. Now, anything that absorbs heat will radiate away exactly the same amount of heat. So the statement is true, but incomplete.

    I’m really not sure whether you’re being serious or flippant with this comment. It’s clear to me that the question speaks to the very well-known mechanism by which CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb and re-rediate infrared, and I’d guess that any solar physicist would be sufficiently familiar with radiative equilibrium in stellar atmospheres to know that this can affect the temperature profile.

    I think what the questioner is really driving at is this: do you agree that the physical mechanism by which CO2 raises planetary temperature is sound, and if not, why?


    The truth is that CO2 derives from many sources: burning of fossil and non-fossil fuels, even wood (as in California right now) :-), natural wild fires set by lightning, outgassing from volcanoes and geysers, going out of solution from the oceans, even meteorites are a source of CO2.

    All those natural processes were in pretty good equlibrium for about 10,000 years, until the industrial revolution.


    This latter concentration range is essentially the same range over which the air’s CO2 concentration oscillated during the 100,000-year glacial cycles of the past 420,000 years (Fischer et al., 1999; Petit et al., 1999). With the inception of the Industrial Revolution, however, the air’s CO2 content once again began an upward surge that has now taken it to the 370 ppm level.

    Actually it’s now at about 382 (annual average concentration at Mauna Loa during 2006 was 381.8).

    Modern CO2 increase is indeed about the same size as the range of variation during the ice ages, but a typical deglaciation takes 5,000 years or more. We’ve changed CO2 concentration by the same range in a couple of centuries. In fact the fastest change in CO2 concentration recorded in the entire Vostok ice core record amounts to 0.06 ppmv/yr; the present rate of increase is 2.1 ppmv/yr.

    And there’s no doubt that the reason for modern CO2 increase is human activity.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 6:27 am

    1) “CO2 absorbs heat”.
    “let’s have more of it” was an attempt to lighten up the discussion, but apparently, people do not take this topic lightly. The statement is true, of course, as I said. What makes it true is the fact that the temperature decreases with height [ponder why. Most people can't explain why, yet it is fundamental to the process]. The infrared flux emitted at the surface of the Earth is larger than the outgoing infrared flux at the ‘top’ of the atmosphere. Clouds, water vapor, and greenhouse gases [including CO2] both absorb and re-emit infrared. The re-emitted infrared that is directed downwards is absorbed by the surface which then heats up and heats the air. It is not the tiny amount of heat absorbed by CO2 that makes the air temperature go up.

    2) 10000 years? whence that number? the natural processes have been in equilibrium for billions of years and still are.

    3) thanks for updating my CO2 number. My point was that during most of the Earth’s history, CO2 levels were MUCH higher that now. Many times times, not a paltry doubling. The dinosaurs lived in a much warmer climate than the ice age period (pleistocene) that we now live in. The fossil fuels we are using today were laid down in the Carbonaceous Period where the CO2 level was an order of magnitude higher than now. Apparently, the trees back then liked it.

    4) and there is no doubt that the modern CO2 increase in due to human activity. I’ll just contend that it is good for us and that the planet is not in peril.

  • tamino // October 25, 2007 at 6:57 am

    2) 10000 years? whence that number? the natural processes have been in equilibrium for billions of years and still are.

    I was imprecise; I should have said that CO2 levels have varied only slightly for the last 11,000 years (Taylor Dome ice core data), until the industrial revolution.

  • Andrew Dodds // October 25, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Lief -

    That ‘Billions of years of equlibrium’ you keep talking about includes things like the late precambrian near-total glacation - where practically the whole earth froze over several times (Ironically brought to an end each time by.. CO2), and the late cretaceous super-greenhouse, where the majority of today’s populated areas were underwater.

    I would also point out that on the longest timescales, the sun is gradually getting hotter - about 25% over the life of the planet thus far. Hence higher CO2 levels in the past.

    Neither of these scenarios would be very good for humans..

    More realistically, although I can see how we could engineer our way out of most issues arising with global warming (Assuming humans act rationally and cooperate..), I can’t see how we are going to engineer our way out of a 6m sea level rise.. that’s the biggie.

  • Dano // October 25, 2007 at 11:58 am

    My point was that during most of the Earth’s history, CO2 levels were MUCH higher that now. Many times times, not a paltry doubling.

    We don’t live with dinosaurs. This is now. The biota have adapted recently. The atm CO2 ppmv levels have not been this high for ~650 K yr. And you are one of the few who are not alarmed. No wonder some cite you so vigorously.

    Best,

    D

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    tamino: “present rate of increase is 2.1 ppmv/yr.”

    From that I calculate that each person per day puts out 7 kg CO2 assuming that all of the 2.1 ppm
    is anthropogenic. Can we all agree on that? anybody else with a different number?

    [Response: I get 2.1 ppmv/yr is equivalent to 7.4 kg/person/day. But the actual output is double that, because about half the CO2 from human emissions is absorbed by oceans/biosphere. So I'd say about 15 kg/person/day for the worldwide average.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    “I get 2.1 ppmv/yr is equivalent to 7.4 kg/person/day. But the actual output is double that, because about half the CO2 from human emissions is absorbed by oceans/biosphere.”

    Why the qualification “from human emissions”. Is it only “human” CO2 that is absorbed? think not….

  • tamino // October 25, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Again I was imprecise. I should have said “the increase in atmospheric CO2 from human emissions is reduced approximately in half due to natural components of the carbon cycle (oceans/biosphere) acting as a net sink rather than source.”

    Despite my lack of strict precision, I’m guessing most people knew what I meant.

  • ks // October 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    tamino,

    You are wasting your time. It’s as though Lindzen or Ball has visited the site. Svalgaard is only repeating debunking denialist talking points.

    - CO2 has been higher in the past
    - “It is not the tiny amount of heat absorbed by CO2 that makes the air temperature go up”
    - warming will be good for us

    he even managed to throw in
    - sea level may drop instead of rise

    I don’t even think Tim Ball has claimed that last one

  • Hank Roberts // October 25, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Ask any marine biologist about plankton. The scientists who don’t understand what’s happening aren’t looking at what lives on the planet besides people, or how.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    tamino:
    “Again I was imprecise. I should have said “the increase in atmospheric CO2 from human emissions is reduced approximately in half…

    Despite my lack of strict precision, I’m guessing most people knew what I meant.”

    I will take it that you mean “CO2 from any source” and not just from “human emissions”.
    Still puzzled why even the 2nd time around you qualified the emission source (human vs. any source).

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    my point here is that not just humans emit CO2. The extinct volcano Mammoth Mountain ~250 miles NE of L.A. emits 1300 tons CO2 per day through seepage from the ground, equivalent to 87,000 people, and there are many such emission sources, so not all CO2 is due to human activity. I do not argue that the modern increase is from natural sources, just that some is and that in the past and in the future a lot more was and will be. And I don’t see myself as a denier. There are three possible ways for climate change to go:
    1) warmer
    2) no change
    3) colder

    Because of ’some’ natural variability, it is very hard to maintain 2) over time, so we have to contend with 1) or 2). All I’m saying is that I prefer 1) over 2). I think it utterly unrealistic that we humans obtain the Utopia where we cooperate globally to maintain 2) indefinitely. Is that the big difference here?
    Well, it is hard to make any progress when dealing with proponents of Utopia, so time for me to crawl back into my shell and stick to the Sun.

  • elspi // October 25, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    If Svalgaard were a mathematician, I would say that he had damaged his reputation with his disingenuous arguments here. I suppose that other standard apply in physics.
    Still, one can hope for karma.

    [Response: I disagree.]

  • windansea // October 25, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    so time for me to crawl back into my shell and stick to the Sun.

    thanks for coming Leif, same thing happened to Dr Wilson when he came here, if you question the AGW based immenent doom you are labeled a denialist. :)

  • Petro // October 25, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Leif stated:

    “my point here is that not just humans emit CO2.”

    Well, yeah, like you don’t know that while nature has kept the CO2 balance, while CO2 emitted by human by burning fossil fuels is mostly extra and only half of it is absorbed.

    “I think it utterly unrealistic that we humans obtain the Utopia where we cooperate globally to maintain 2)[no change] indefinitely.”

    Human civilization has kept the balance for tens of thousands of years. So you think it is justified to change it suddenly within couple of hundreds years. That is very self-centered view.

    “And I don’t see myself as a denier. ”

    How come your views rings true with denialists?

  • ks // October 25, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    As far as I’ve seen, this is a blog for people to come in with an open mind, ask questions and seek answers. Dr. S came into this thread with preconceived notions from gross generalizations and only sought to muddy the waters. From his post he clearly was not trying to advance his understanding.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    your mind should not be so open that your brain falls out :-)

  • nanny_govt_sucks // October 25, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Dr. Svalgaaard. I’ve enjoyed your posts, humor and your civility. Best of luck with the IBM battle.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Just to correct a typo:

    1) warmer
    2) no change
    3) colder

    Because of ’some’ natural variability, it is very hard to maintain 2) over time, so we have to contend with 1) or 2). All I’m saying is that I prefer 1) over 2). <== I meant 1) over 3).

  • windansea // October 25, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    before you go, what would you expect of cycles 24 and 25 are <75? It seems you are not a fan of TSI climate forcings, reading between the lines it seems you may be a fan of the GCR/cloud formation/albedo theory. Various aa indexes show that the solar magnetic flux pulsed at it’s highest level in the 1990 decade.

    http://www.ips.gov.au/Educational/3/1/4

    There are time lag factors of course, but what would you predict for global temps if cycles 24 and 25 go very low in both TSI and aa indexes?

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    although I’m done :-) I still didn’t answer Andy and Dano. The changes that WILL come are going to be gradual [large thermal inertia of oceans etc] and I believe we can cope as they come, even the 6 meter ocean rise [which will happen over centuries or longer]. NOLA was nearly destroyed and for the first year or so 2/3 of the people had not returned. They coped elsewhere. Had NOLA had a CAT3 or higher in 2006 and 2007, there would have been little hope of rebuilding the city. This would demonstrate that the nation and civilization (such as it is) can survive and adapt. Especially if we know that these things are coming, then we can even PLAN ahead [what a concept]. I don’t think we could get people in China to pay for measures to avoid climate change in order not to abandon a city of ours that should not have been built there in the first place. And now, I shut up.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 25, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Windansea:
    This is really a ’solar cycle 24′ question, but we can take it here.

    “what would you expect if cycles 24 and 25 are <75?”

    I fully expect them to be 75 or even less. My current prediction for 24 is Rmax=72.

    You are correct that I’m no fan of TSI forcings. The reason is that there are indications that TSI at any minimum [including Grand ones] is as low at it can go. This is based on reconstructions of the IMF and the FUV-flux back to ~1840. And also on helioseismic data [more difficult to explain in a few words, but the Goode&Palle paper that was referred to in the S-C 24 postings has more]

    I’m no fan either of the GCR/cloud theory.

    “Various aa indexes show that the solar magnetic flux pulsed at it’s highest level in the 1990 decade.”

    I have shown that aa is systematically wrong before 1957 [it is too small], so that data is somewhat suspect. But there is no doubt that solar activity was high in 1991, and in 1958.
    And that we are now returning to conditions more like they were 100 years ago.

    “There are time lag factors of course, but what would you predict for global temps if cycles 24 and 25 go very low in both TSI and aa indexes?”

    Well, TSI will not go much lower than in 1996 [although it is a little lower now, but that is still within the noise]. aa-index will go lower by a good deal [half?]. But neither of these will have any impact on the climate or the weather.

    I have a theory about why people so desperately want to sun to to have an influence on the climate. It is this: If we can show that during the past ~400 years or so, the temperature over most of that time [except the last few decades] follows some solar parameter, then we can *quantify* the solar forcing, and SUBTRACT it from the temperature curve. That will leave a conspicuous anomaly for the last couple of decades, which then *must* be anthropogenic, and THAT is what they really want to conclude.

  • guthrie // October 25, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    If you’ll excuse me borrowing your comment Leif, I thought it needed re-writing:

    “I have a theory about why people so desperately want to sun to to have an influence on the climate. It is this: If we can show that during the past ~400 years or so, the temperature over most of that time [except the last few decades] follows some solar parameter, then that shows that we could not be responsible for the conspicuous anomaly for the last couple of decades, and THAT is what they really want to conclude.”

    I have re-written it after observing the likes of Windansea and others for several years. They have this pathological desire for AGW to be cuased by any except humans, because then they might have to change their lives, and they don’t want to do that.

  • guthrie // October 25, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Actually Leif, given that Volcanic CO2 is much, much less than human emitted CO2, I fail to see why you should bring them into the discussion t all.

  • EliRabett // October 26, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Svalgaard has indeed shown that my faith in him was well warranted. He brings forth one of the classics, volcanoes as sources of CO2

    “Gas studies at volcanoes worldwide have helped volcanologists tally up a global volcanic CO2 budget in the same way that nations around the globe have cooperated to determine how much CO2 is released by human activity through the burning of fossil fuels. Our studies show that globally, volcanoes on land and under the sea release a total of about 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

    This seems like a huge amount of CO2, but a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) website (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/) helps anyone armed with a handheld calculator and a high school chemistry text put the volcanic CO2 tally into perspective. Because while 200 million tonnes of CO2 is large, the global fossil fuel CO2 emissions for 2003 tipped the scales at 26.8 billion tonnes. Thus, not only does volcanic CO2 not dwarf that of human activity, it actually comprises less than 1 percent of that value. ”

    We might ponder why he tried to pull that one here, instead of the lapse rate we already know, but Leif might ponder why the temperature profile of the earth’s atmosphere departs from the simple dry adiabatic one. Hint: trace gases.

    Oh yeah, CO2 was much higher when there was no life on earth, which, of course was for most of the time the earth has been circling the sun, and for giggles, the huge rise in CO2 during the Permian is reasonably thought to have caused a mass extinction including almost all

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 12:49 am

    You are correct that I’m no fan of TSI forcings. The reason is that there are indications that TSI at any minimum [including Grand ones] is as low at it can go.

    yes, but you admit the maximums have varied by a factor of 4 since Maunder, so a postulated solar TSI factor would vary by the max, not the minimum, are you saying these max variations have no effect whatsoever on climate? This would negate most accepted paleo solar forcings that correlate well with temp proxies.

    I’m no fan either of the GCR/cloud theory.

    ok, you’ve told me before you are not satisfied with current theories regarding solar influence on climate, so stop being coy and tell us your theory :) or perhaps you have a paper in the works and are holding your cards close to the vest.

    I have a theory about why people so desperately want to sun to to have an influence on the climate. It is this: If we can show that during the past ~400 years or so, the temperature over most of that time [except the last few decades] follows some solar parameter, then we can *quantify* the solar forcing, and SUBTRACT it from the temperature curve. That will leave a conspicuous anomaly for the last couple of decades, which then *must* be anthropogenic, and THAT is what they really want to conclude.

    yes, the GHG advocates on this forum are synchronous in their efforts to define the total solar forcing to some absurd watts per m2 equation based on TSI sunspot numbers, which to me is a kindergarten level understanding of solar physics. AGW advocates seek to minimize solar and orbital forcings on climate to strengthen their case for a CO2 reduction policy that is aimed at US energy producers and consumers that will never happen…it’s pointless and futile to expect US consumers to bear the brunt of a global CO2 reduction plan that exempts India and China. EU nations that signed on to Kyoto have accomplished nothing and simply posture for political gain. It’s all a shell game and when economic self interest meets road, the global “consensus” is mute.

    None of this worries me since I’m not convinced by alarmists who are so insecure in their “GHG science consensus” that they reject any opposing theories and claim scientifically unsupported weather anomalies like hurricanes and wildfires as proof.

    I’m not against energy conservation strategies, or reduction of pollution in energy production at all. Claiming bogus relationships and unproven anthropogenic climate forcings to frequencies of hurricanes and wildfires that don’t exist in published science just creates more denialists.

    Stick to your GHG theories and stop trying to blame every frickin weather anomoly on CO2 as I will beat you down like a red headed stepchild with published historical data as above.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 1:38 am

    guthri: I thought I was done here :-) .
    I wanted to give a specific example of a natural source [which is not inconsiderable; 87,000 people-equivalent for that source alone. In that part of the country - south of Mono Lake - Mammoth Mountain is the biggest "polluter" of all.] In the past, volcanic sources were much larger, and in the future they will be again.

    But there is a larger issue. Just how big are the ‘natural sources’ ? One can go around to all known volcanoes and tote up what they produce [except that Mammoth Mountain is long extinct, so would be missed perhaps, as would very many others].

    The annual rate of growth of CO2 in a given year is the difference in concentration between the end of December and the start of January of that year. It represents the sum of all CO2 added to, and removed from, the atmosphere during the year by human activities and by natural processes. Here is a table with the growth figures for the global estimate of CO2 level for the last several years:
    1990 1.27 ppm
    1991 0.82
    1992 0.63
    1993 1.13
    1994 1.63
    1995 2.02
    1996 1.09
    1997 1.96
    1998 2.93
    1999 1.36
    2000 1.25
    2001 1.85
    2002 2.37
    2003 2.22
    2004 1.65
    2005 2.44
    2006 1.68
    This is a remarkable series. Now, my expertise is in analysis of variations and time series. So, the question is: what causes the variations from year to year, ranging from 0.63 to 2.44? Quite a range. It could be just measurement noise, but the stated precision argues against that. standard scientific practice is to quote numbers with the noise in the last decimal digit. If the variation was due to noise, the numbers should have been quoted as
    1990 1 ppm
    1991 1
    1992 1
    1993 1
    1994 2
    1995 2
    or some such. Maybe to one more digit: 1.3, 0.8, 0.6, etc. So the assumption would be that the numbers do not represent noise, but reflect a real variation of the growth from year to year.
    At this point, a real expert who knows better might say: “Ah, but you are wrong, this is only noise. We just quote the numbers with several decimals to make them look better”. If so, we bail out [abbreviated WBO].

    If you flipped a fair coin a million times and wrote down the ratio between the number of heads and the number of tails, you would get a number close to 1. If you repeated that experiment many times, you would get a series of numbers close to 1, maybe
    (1): 0.9998 1.0001 1.0005 9.9999 1.0000 ….
    With a smaller number of flips, maybe you get
    (2): 0.99 1.00 1.02 097 1.01 …
    or with yet smaller number of flips:
    (3): 0.333 1.000 0.667 0.429 2.333

    The point is that from how much variation there is within each series you can say something about the number of flips. There is actually a very precise formula for that number, based on the ’standard deviation’ of these variations for each series.

    Now, if the CO2 level increased due to billions of people or “sources” each adding their bit rather independently, the variation from year to year of how much they put into the atmosphere would be like that of (1) or less. The variation would be very small. If there were only a few large sources (or sinks), the variation would look like (3). On the face of it, the observed variation does look more like (3) than like (1). The standard conclusion would be that the CO2 level is controlled by only a few individual and independent sources and sinks. But that is not what everybody thinks. So where is the fallacy of the analysis? Is it that the system is very complex with multiple “residence times” in multiple “reservoirs”? If so, that model can analyzed and quantitative information about the number and properties of these individual elements can be deduced.

    The AR4 is silent on this problem. At least UI couldn’t find any mention of it, so what am I missing? where do I go wrong in what looks to me as a straightforward, typical time series analysis. I’m sure you guys have thought deeply and exhaustively about this and know the obvious answer, but I must confess it is a mystery to me. There is no shame in confessing to be puzzled, and to receive guidance and illumination from people that have thought (or read, or …) more about this than I. So, what is it? This is not a trick question, or a “tactic” or an obfuscational device. I am simply puzzled and want to know. If I’m not told any better I would conclude that the natural variation [since the human contribution only increases slowly and hardly decreases - at least I haven't met anybody who claims that it does] is large and
    that therefore the natural sources are significant. Or maybe there are only a few sinks,
    and that is the cause of the large variation in the growth rate from year to year. But educate me on the error of my ways.

    [Response: You can begin here.

    You should also be aware that the carbon in fossil-fuel CO2 has a different isotopic signature than that from volcanic emissions, oceans, biosphere, or other "natural" sources. Biotic carbon is depleted in C13 because of the strong preference in plant respiration for C12 over C13, and fossilized biotic carbon is further depleted in C14 because of its rapid (on geologic timescales) radioactive decay. The changing isotopic signature of carbon in atmospheric CO2 is a "smoking gun" which proves, beyond doubt, that most if not all of the increase in CO2 concentration is due to the burning of fossil fuels. This is observed not only in atmospheric isotope ratios, but in the upper ocean as well.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 2:40 am

    windansea:

    The variation of TSI at minimum to TSI at the (high) maximum of cycle 22 was of the order of 0.1%. For smaller cycles, even less. I hold that to be too small for any effect

    “ok, you’ve told me before you are not satisfied with current theories regarding solar influence on climate, so stop being coy and tell us your theory.”

    Again: I don’t think there is any measurable solar influence on the climate. Not via TSI, not via solar modulation of cosmic rays.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 2:51 am

    tamino:
    Thanks for the reference to the Knorr paper. There may be something to their conclusion, but I agree that the agreement is only tentative. Probably just because the model is crude. This is the kind of discourse that I value with a real exchange of information [quite unlike some of the more rabid comments]. I’ll take a small [personal] credit for having spotted independently that the variation from year to year of the growth rate is something that should be looked at as it carries information about natural processes affecting the carbon cycle.

    And the argument about the isotopic composition is compelling. Thank you for pointing that out. There can then be no doubt that the increase is human caused and that the growth-rate fluctuations point to more complicated interactions than just sourcing. These interactions might go in different directions and shows me how difficult it will be to try to ‘control’ these things.

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 2:54 am

    which proves, beyond doubt, that most if not all of the increase in CO2 concentration is due to the burning of fossil fuels.]

    hmmm, CO2 theory postulates that rising temps release more CO2, temps are rising so how could it be most if not all?

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Again: I don’t think there is any measurable solar influence on the climate. Not via TSI, not via solar modulation of cosmic rays.

    so how can Milankovich cycles, which only modulate an insignificant solar forcing, initiate global climate swings from glacial to interglacial?

    [Response: Milankovitch cycles have nothing to do with variations is solar output, they're all about changes in the distribution (seasonal and geographic) of incoming sunlight, and very slight changes in total solar energy intercepted by earth, due to changes in earth's orbit and axial tilt. They also operate on extremely long time scales (the shortest Milankovitch cycle is about 19,000 years). See this post.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 3:09 am

    At some point we’ll run out of fossil fuel and/or go nuclear. That puts an automatic stop to further increases satisfying the alarmists after first have helped creating a nicer warmer world [either making everybody happy or nobody]. Fuel for transportation can hardly be nuclear, so may depend on burning fuel the usual way. Biofuels could be the solution here. Not the ones pushed today as they are grossly inefficient and just makes things worse, but better ones are out there. The beauty of biofuels is, of course, that they don’t add to the CO2 burden as CO2 must be taken out of the atmosphere to grow the plant and burning it just puts it back.

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Milankovitch cycles have nothing to do with variations is solar output, they’re all about changes in the distribution (seasonal and geographic) of incoming sunlight, and very slight changes in total solar energy intercepted by earth

    you’ve just proved my point, they modulate the receipt of solar energy, very slightly, over long periods of time, so how can this modulation affect climate on a grand scale (glacial to interglacial) if it modulating an insignificant force?

    [Response: I doubt Dr. Svalgaard meant that modulation of intercepted solar energy had no impact on climate, ever. It seems to me he posits that solar variations have no significant effect on centennial time scales. Dr. Svalgaard, please correct me if I'm mistaken.

    The bulk of climate scientists believe that solar changes *do* impact climate, primarily through variations of TSI.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 3:19 am

    “so how can Milankovich cycles, which only modulate an insignificant solar forcing, initiate global climate swings from glacial to interglacial?”

    The M-cycles modulate very substantial solar input. The difference in TSI between the time when we are closest to the sun [1408 in January] and when we are furthest away [1316 in July] is large [~7%] about 100 times larger than from sunspot minimum to maximum. That number can change as the eccentricity of the orbit changes as well as the times when we are closest/farthest to/from the sun. Much larger effects.

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 3:24 am

    PS where’s the feedback response to GW? the increase in CO2 ppm can’t be “most if not all” due to man if a .6 C warming does not produce additional CO2 outgassing as postulated

    show me the numbers of anthropogenic CO2 production and heat caused CO2 production, this should be easy since anthropogenic CO2 has an isotopic signature

    [Response: Significant oceanic CO2 outgassing depends on heat penetrating to the deep ocean, and that happens on millenial timescales. The best estimate I'm aware of for the lag between temperature increase and resultant CO2 increase during ice ages is 800 years -- hence the repeated protests (by denialists) that temperature leads CO2 by 800 years in the ice core records.

    But we're may well see CO2 feedback well before that because modern warming is so much *faster* than that experienced in ice ages. There's a lot of mention in the blogosphere of recent research (publicized but not yet made available by the National Academy of Sciences) that the oceanic uptake of CO2 is slowing. Eli Rabett has a post on the topic.

    The changing isotopic signature of carbon in atmospheric CO2 really is a smoking gun. If you can't accept that fossil-fuel buring is the reason for the increase in CO2, then I suspect you're just begin obstinate.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 3:27 am

    As I said, the changes brought about by the M-cycles are two orders of magnitude greater than the changes due to S-cycles. M-cycles cover millennia, S-cycles decades or centuries. So, not only are the changes brought about by S-cycles much, much smaller than those for the M-cycles but they have a lot shorter time to do their thing before being overtaken by the next minimum while M-cycles can act for thousands of years.
    Now, there are, of course, the people that say that it matters not how small the impulse if it can act as a trigger at just the right time in just the right place. I don’t know what to tell them [and it doesn't matter, because they don't listen].

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 3:37 am

    “The bulk of climate scientists believe that solar changes *do* impact climate, primarily through variations of TSI.”

    And solar physicists are warming to the view that the variation of TSI is a lot smaller than previously thought because of a lack of a secular change of the values at minima.

    It is like the debate many decades ago whether the moon’s craters were volcanic or impacts. Geologists that were experts in volcanoes but knew little about impact craters, said that the craters could not be volcanoes, but were impact craters, and astronomers that were experts on impacts but knew but little about volcanoes were convinced that the craters could not be impacts, but were volcanoes.

    [Response: That reminds me of an old TV show I watched when I was a kid -- I think it was sponsored by GE -- highlighting talented young science students. In one episode they showed a student who simulated impacts to study the morphology of craters from impact events (albeit in a laboratory), and compared the results to known volcanic craters and lunar craters. His result indicated that the lab-test impacts created craters nearly identical to lunar craters but notably different from volcanic ones. And this was before the impact origin of lunar craters was generally accepted.]

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 3:42 am

    what would you calculate the % change in TSI since the maunder?

    here’s Lean’s figures

    Since the Maunder Minimum:
    total irradiance increase = 1.1 Wm-2
    climate forcing = 0.2 Wm-2
    surface temperature increase =
    0.1-0.2oC (􀀁 = 0.5-1o
    C per Wm-2)

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 3:45 am

    The changing isotopic signature of carbon in atmospheric CO2 really is a smoking gun. If you can’t accept that fossil-fuel buring is the reason for the increase in CO2, then I suspect you’re just begin obstinate.]

    just give me the numbers please, from instruments :)

    [Response: You can get the data from the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases. I posted on the topic here. You can also read Mook et al. 1983, J. Geophys. Res. (C Oceans Atmos.), 88, 10915; Pataki et al. 2003, J. Geophy. Res., 108, 4735; Beveridge 1994, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 126, 259-273.]

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 4:06 am

    TSI: first, people are still struggling to find the correct absolute calibration so numbers only have relative importance. Here are the numbers:
    M.M. min today diff
    Lean 1995 1362.8 1365.6 2.8 Wm-2
    Lean 2000 1363.5 1365.6 2.1 Wm-2
    Lean (you) 1.1 Wm-2
    Leif 2007 1365.6 1365.6 0.0 Wm-2

    This shows the evolution of our perception of TSI minima. Large maxima adds 1.0 Wm-2, small ones 0.3-0.6 Wm-2.

    Then you say:
    “climate forcing = 0.2 Wm-2
    surface temperature increase =
    0.1-0.2oC (􀀁 = 0.5-1o C per Wm-2)”
    but I have no idea what you are talking about,
    so can’t do squat [as we say down here in the big H]

  • Petro // October 26, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Leif thanked Tamino:

    “And the argument about the isotopic composition is compelling. Thank you for pointing that out. ”

    You mean, you did not know that earlier?

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Leif

    I cut and pasted those numbers from Lean paper, should have cited it as I know she has changed her mind recently

    here it is

    http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/workshops/08_09_06/pdf_presentations/05_Lean.pdf

    regardless, the dif in maxes since MM is substantial, as you’ve said a factor of 4 (in 300 years), but you seem to think infinitesimal gradations of milankovich degrees of reception on a timescale of 100k years affect climate more than a 4 scale change in mear hundreds.

    the calculated solar climate forcing and resultant temp increase is to me a huge guestimate as it relies on poorly measured albedos of 30% which can dwarf other signals

    this is why I cited the Scafetta/West paper earlier, you and many recent papers say the variation in solar output is miniscule, they don’t affect climate, even though TSI post 1950 maxed out 4 times the MM…the data don’t match so lets try a phenomenalogical approach

    anyway, the smaller you postulate solar forcings and sensitivity the better for me

    as Scafetta said to Lean

    and Schwarznegger to Alien

    “what the heck are you?”

    In conclusion, a solar change might significantly alter climate. It might trigger several climate feedbacks and alter the GHG (H2O, CO2, CH4, etc.) concentration, as 420,000 years of Antarctic ice core data would also suggest [Petit et al., 1999]. Most of the sun-climate coupling mechanisms are probably still unknown. However, they should be incorporated into the climate models to better understand the real impact of the sun on climate because they might strongly amplify the effects of small solar activity increases.

    http://www.fel.duke.edu/~scafetta/pdf/2006GL027142.pdf

  • windansea // October 26, 2007 at 7:02 am

    [Response: You can get the data from the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases. I posted on the topic here. You can also read Mook et al. 1983, J. Geophys. Res. (C Oceans Atmos.), 88, 10915; Pataki et al. 2003, J. Geophy. Res., 108, 4735; Beveridge 1994, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 126, 259-273.]

    that’s weak. You have no actual measurements just a postulated relationship, come back when you have something real.

    [Response: Did you get the data? Did you read my post? Did you read the references?

    Obviously the answer is NO. You are just being obstinate, and in this case, you are really making yourself look like an idiot.]

  • hazy // October 26, 2007 at 7:34 am

    For all the videos point your browser to http://www.wonderingmind42.com/?page=2

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    windansea:

    “the dif in maxes since MM is substantial, as you’ve said a factor of 4 (in 300 years)”

    That difference is in sunspot numbers not in TSI.
    We can write it [approx.] like this
    TSI = 1365.6 + 1/150 * R
    where R is the sunspot number.
    if R changes from 40 to 160 (factor of 4) TSI will change like this
    TSI(R=40) = 1365.87
    TSI(R=160) = 1366.67
    total change in TSI 1366.67 - 1365.87 = 0.80
    This is for maximum. For minimum TSI does not change, so the average change between a solar cycle during the M.M. and now is less than about half of the 0.8, say 0.3 Wm-2.

    During the year TSI changes by 70 Wm-2 or 200 times as much. This is the change the M-cycles have to work with, therefore it is no wonder that we get significant effects. If you go linear and assume that the temp diff between and ice age and now is 5C then the TSI change would correspond to roughly 5/200 = 0.025C in global temp which I do not think we can not even measure.

    You said
    “Most of the sun-climate coupling mechanisms are probably still unknown. However, they should be incorporated into the climate models …”
    How do you incorporate something that is unknown? [other than just an empirical adjustment based on your belief]

    to moderator: “idiot” does not belong in these august pages.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    petro:
    Yes I did know about the isotopes. Part of my work is to keep track of that [e.g. cosmic rays -> 14C]. But I had not incorporated that into my thinking about the CO2. Obviously other people have and could remind me. Then as a good scientist I immediately accepted the argument. I was thinking about the cause of the large variation in growth-rate of CO2 from year to year [many, many billions of tons] which still to me is a real problem which shows that the whole thing is not understood. Come to thing about it, one should study the variations of the isotopic ratios as that might be informative given that different processes have different isotopic signatures. Maybe somebody has and I just don’t know about it. Since I think global warming is good I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and don’t worry too much about where the CO2 comes from. But now I have become interested in the growth rate variations because they are a puzzle and puzzles have intrinsic interest [at least for me], so I need to look into these things, which is part of the reason I’m still hanging around here, although I said I would stop. [probably to the chagrin of some, so preemptive apology to them].

    [Response: It's thanks to Eli Rabett that I found that the original work (depletion of C14 due to fossil-fuel burning) traces back to Suess (1955, Science, 122, 415-417); it's now generally referred to as the "Suess effect" and its definition includes depletion of both C13 and C14. You can get some data on C14 here; it was originally taken to measure the impact of above-ground nuclear tests (which produce a large pulse of C14), but then applied to carbon-cycle studies. There's quite a bit of C13 data at the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases.

    I have a feeling there's more up-to-date C14 data out there, and I suspect there's a sizeable literature on the carbon cycle; I'd guess that references in the Knorr paper are a good place to start.

    As for "puzzles," well, that's why we're scientists. Better than Sudoku!]

  • Eli Rabett // October 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    After almost a decade, Jan Schloerer’s FAQ remains an excellent introduction to the carbon cycle and the ways in which we KNOW that the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is from human origin.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    C14 etc:

    The Suess effect is well-known in my field and is an important consideration when we try to correct the amount of 14C [as we call it] to infer the intensity of cosmic rays [and from that the IMF] in the past. The residence time of 14C is quite long so there is a significant amount of smoothing making it hard to get YEARLY data of the production rate. But since we know cosmic ray intensity back to the 1930s we can calculate the 14C that *should* have been produced. All of these things are well understood [although people still quibble about the details; e.g.

    McCracken, K. G. (2007), The heliomagnetic field near Earth, 1428-2005, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A09106, doi:10.1029/2006JA012119.

    McCracken, K. G. and J. Beer (2007), The long term changes in the cosmic ray intensity at Earth, 1428-2005, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A10101, doi:10.1029/2006JA012117.]

    So, we know the production rates of all the isotopes quite well and the total amount of CO2 produced vary very little, apart from the regular secular increase and the quite regular seasonal variation. Yet, the growth-rate varies a lot, so that some processes take CO2 out [and puts it back in years later]. Although there were some suggestions and model results in the Knorr paper, they cannot be said to settle the matter. It seems to me that if some people are VERY concerned about the CO2 level that they should be particularly interested in what processes take CO2 out as well. Maybe if we can speed these up or emulate them or control them we would have more ways to reduce to panic. of course, that would not be in the interest of people and groups hoping to benefit from the panic, so maybe this is part of the explanation for why this issue is not part of the debate

    Anyway, I find it an interesting *scientific* puzzle, well worth pursuing.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    from: http://www.physorg.com/news112623829.html
    In this week’s Science, Dr Myles Allen and Dr Dave Frame argue that while placing an upper limit on climate sensitivity is difficult, it may also be much less relevant to policy than is usually assumed. Dr Allen and Dr Frame’s article accompanies a paper by Gerard Roe and Marcia Baker that shows it will remain difficult to infer a robust distribution for climate sensitivity from any observations we can make of current climate.

    ‘No one denies that quantifying climate system feedbacks is a crucial part of our attempts to understand the climate change problem,’ said Dr Myles Allen of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, ‘but putting an upper bound on climate sensitivity has become something of a Holy Grail for climate researchers. What we are suggesting is that this may not be possible or very helpful.’

    Uncertainties in how climate processes feed into one another are partly to blame, as are the different statistical methods that could be used to calculate such an upper limit. If the world really does warm by 4 degrees Celsius or more the climate will be so different from what we know today that predicting when this warming will stop is all but impossible. Dr Allen and Dr Frame believe that, in trying to define an upper limit, climate modellers have to make too many assumptions about what is likely to happen – assumptions that are impossible to test.

    ‘The only way our descendants would find out if the climate sensitivity is really as high as 5 degrees Celsius is to stubbornly hold greenhouse gas concentrations constant for centuries at a specified target level,’ said Dr Frame, who is based in the Oxford University Centre for the Environment. ‘In reality our descendants will continually revise their targets for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the light of the climate changes they actually observe.’

    The real danger, Drs Allen and Frame suggest, comes from trying to fix a target concentration of carbon dioxide too early in the process of climate change and not adapting as new observations come along. Dr Allen comments: ‘providing our descendants have the good sense to adapt their policies to the emerging climate change signal they probably won’t care about how sensitive our climate is because they will have been smart enough to limit the damage.’

    The development of more adaptive climate policy frameworks has support from other quarters, too. Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University, said: ‘Climate policies must be predictable, but they must also adjust to new information: the challenge is to design a transparent process whereby climate policies can be adjusted in the light of genuinely new information without becoming subject to political whims.’

  • dhogaza // October 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    It seems to me that if some people are VERY concerned about the CO2 level that they should be particularly interested in what processes take CO2 out as well.

    You’re kidding when you imply people aren’t, right? I mean, you know that figuring out the net increase in CO2 requires that we not only know how much is being put into the atmosphere, but how much is being taken out, right?

    Maybe if we can speed these up or emulate them or control them we would have more ways to reduce to panic. of course, that would not be in the interest of people and groups hoping to benefit from the panic, so maybe this is part of the explanation for why this issue is not part of the debate

    This would explain why no one has ever suggested we seed the ocean with iron in order to increase phytoplankton production to increase uptake of CO2, and why such suggestions have never become part of the debate, right?

    Because those who hope to profit from the panic would never let such suggestions see the light of day, right?

    BTW Real Climate has a new piece up on the paper you mention in your last post.

  • richard // October 26, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    ‘providing our descendants have the good sense to adapt their policies to the emerging climate change signal ………..’

    We are not doing that now; any reason to believe it will happen in the future? Not until the damage has been too great for even some posters here to ignore.

  • Steve Bloom // October 26, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Petro’s comment reminds me of something I read the other day on a biologist’s site (referring to one of his own papers): “This paper is so multi-disciplinary that none of the co-authors understand the whole thing.”

    Leif, I’d love it if somebody could come up with a good techno-fix (so that we could look forward to the consequences of peak oil). There’s the iron fertilization stuff already mentioned, but just the other day there was a proposal from Lovelock and Rapley to put a huge number of tubes in the ocean. Simple analysis rapidly revealed insurmountable shortcomings. Of course given the damage being done by coal emissions, sequestration of those has vast appeal, but it’s starting to look more and more as if the needed technology is doomed, rather like fusion, to remain in an ever-receding medium-future.

    Jim Hansen has a practical-sounding scheme, but it’s not very high-tech and doesn’t involve being able to ignore further emissions, and so hasn’t engendered much excitement. East African plains apes like the shiny toys.

    Regarding F&A, my impression is that good regional results are becoming the new Holy Grail for modelers. Part of the reason is that even if you can say it will very likely be X degrees in 2100 (per whatever particular emissions scenario) and even if it’s a high number, that kind of information isn’t very helpful with policymakers or the public unless it’s accompanied by information about specific shorter-term impacts, most of which are regional. Probably the fact that RCM work is much more affordable than GCM work has something to do with it as well.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 26, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    dhogaza: much as I try, I can’t figure out what of your post is joke, irony, sarcasm, genuine, etc. so I can’t answer the “right?” questions.

  • CraigM // October 27, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Leif/dr. svalgaard

    “It seems to me that if some people are VERY concerned about the CO2 level that they should be particularly interested in what processes take CO2 out as well. Maybe if we can speed these up or emulate them or control them we would have more ways to reduce to panic. of course, that would not be in the interest of people and groups hoping to benefit from the panic, so maybe this is part of the explanation for why this issue is not part of the debate ”

    btw, have enjoyed reading some of your posts, and others here. Havent understood all of it, and dont agree some of it: warming is good for us. Well maybe a warmer world might be good over the long term. Its the transition to a warmer world in such a short space of time that concerns me, that and the fact that i live in australia. The climate seems pretty nice the way it is and capable of supporting billions of people quite well (if we only we humans could get our shit together), so if it aint broke why fix it? Its too much of a gamble to me.

    But anyway, to address your comments. You might be interested in this doco that appeared on our TV screens some time ago. Dramatically titled: 5 ways to save the world. It was none-the-less still very interesting.

    here is the video link (i hope, im on dialup here)

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=286000425078890061

    weblink:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/6298507.stm

    ideas being considered:

    -artificial trees

    -super charged plankton.

    -firing aerosol rockets in the stratosphere

    -super mirrors launched to a place called the L1 point to deflect the suns rays

    -solar powered boats that pump out sea water and create clouds thus reducing the earths albedo (i seem to remember i liked this idea the most)

  • dhogaza // October 27, 2007 at 1:05 am

    dhogaza: much as I try, I can’t figure out what of your post is joke, irony, sarcasm, genuine, etc. so I can’t answer the “right?” questions.

    Sarcasm. The things you claim aren’t subject to debate are subject to much debate and such debate isn’t squelched.

  • Leif Svalgaard // October 27, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    dhogaza: I was referring to the fact that the growth-rate of CO2 fluctuates so much from year to year. What we humans put in does not fluctuate much from year to year, so what is going on? [the Knorr paper]. THAT is not being debated at all and seems to me to be important. If we do not know why the growth-rate fluctuates so wildly, we do not understand the system, and trying to mess with a system you don’t understand is not a good thing.

  • dhogaza // October 27, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    If we do not know why the growth-rate fluctuates so wildly, we do not understand the system, and trying to mess with a system you don’t understand is not a good thing.

    In other words, you’re making a strong argument for putting an end to our pouring CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Right?

  • Hank Roberts // October 29, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Abrupt increase in seasonal extreme precipitation at the Paleocene …
    http://ic.ucsc.edu/~jzachos/eart120/readings/Schmitz_Puljate_07.pdf

    “The Paleocene-Eocene (P-E) boundary event ca. 55 Ma represents one of the major global environmental perturbations during the Cenozoic (Kennett and Stott, 1991; Zachos et al., 2003). The event is characterized by a 2‰–6‰ negative carbon isotope excursion (CIE) in terrestrial and marine records, rapidly escalating global warming and important floral and faunal turnovers (Clyde and Gingerich, 1998; Thomas et al., 2002; Schmitz and Pujalte, 2003; Wing et al., 2005). A major part of the CIE developed within a few thousand years throughout the Earth’s exchangeable carbon reservoir, which requires addition of isotopically light carbon at a scale similar to that from present anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions ….

    “… Origin
    The sudden appearance at the onset of the PETM of an ~1–4-m-thick conglomerate persistent over 500–2000 km2 indicates a dramatic change in the hydrologic cycle. A tectonic origin is ruled out by the rapid formation of the conglomerate and absence of any other evidence for tectonism in the region at this time (Data Repository discussion and Fig. DR8; see footnote 1). We interpret the CC as representing the proximal parts of a megafan, characterized by frequent avulsion and rapid channel migration….”

    This is the sort of thing that changes.

  • ks // October 29, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    For your warming will be good for us assertions.

    Impact of regional climate change on human health
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7066/full/nature04188.html

    “At some point we’ll run out of fossil fuel and/or go nuclear.”

    I would recommend the talk (streaming theater) given by these guys at Cal Tech.
    http://nsl.caltech.edu/energy.html
    Basically they say that global energy needs could not be met by nuclear for anything longer than a decade before we ran out of the worlds supply of uranium/plutonium.

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