Open Mind

Open Thread #10

January 31, 2009 · 395 Comments

As was pointed out, some threads are getting prohibitively long. So here’s an open thread to continue discussion.

Categories: Global Warming

395 responses so far ↓

  • Hank Roberts // January 31, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Voluntary industry program created to argue against mandatory energy efficiency rules –
    ndustry and government both reported bad numbers on Energy Star.

    The industry miscounting was widespread and extensive, see the link. The government failure was on CFLs, this paragraph at the end before the conclusion. See the main report for the industry’s voluntary reporting, which turned out to be unverifiable but have obvious contradictions in what was reported.

    ——excerpt follows———-

    EPA ENERGY STAR staff said they claim one-third of CFL energy savings because of EPA’s marketing efforts. They also said they were involved in the specification development for CFLs. For these reasons, they claim a portion of the CFLs savings benefits. However, DOE ENERGY STAR staff were not aware that EPA claimed this percentage of CFL savings, and had claimed 100 percent of their calculated CFL savings in 2006. This resulted in double-counting of CFL benefits by EPA and DOE. A DOE ENERGY STAR representative said that while EPA does contribute to the success of CFLs by EPA’s marketing efforts, EPA should coordinate with DOE regarding the calculation and reporting.
    We found that the reported savings claims were inaccurate and the reported annual savings unreliable. We identified several concerns with shipment data, including: lack of quality review of the data submittals; reliance on estimates, forecasting, and third party reporting; and potential inclusion of international shipments with domestic ENERGY STAR product shipments. After attempting to reconcile the support for these numbers by product category, we found the overall claims to be inaccurate due to irreconcilable manufacturer shipment data and use of estimates. We conclude that the savings reported are not accurate or verifiable. The accuracy of the program’s reported energy savings is important in the United States’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • apolytongp // January 31, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    yap, wish fulfillment was my explanation of denialism. ON the other stuff, no corrective comment, but as usuual that does not signify agreement.

  • Henk Lankamp // February 1, 2009 at 1:02 am

    In the comments on blogs a lot of people do seem to have problems distinguishing between weather and climate.
    If you want to see how weather (short time) changes from week to week, the Japanese Weatheroffice have some nice charts for you: see here. Click ‘Temperature anomaly” as “Element”.

  • fred // February 1, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Henk I came across this “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” video series last week, this one specifically deals with weather is not climate:

    It’s not an ideal explaination, but deniers who conflate weather+climate do find it very patronizing!

  • Sekerob // February 1, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for that link Henk. immediately used elsewhere.

    From TNYT, The Greenhouse Effect and the Bathtub Effect

  • Hank Roberts // February 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Two charts — up through 2007, and up through 2008; note the effect of changing the Y-axis.

    No, it’s not climate.

    Plants: look it up; it’s not simple; Liebig’s Law of the Minimum is known to any kid who grew up on a farm, and to only one or two bloggers, none of whom post optimistic nonsense about increasing CO2 being a good idea.

  • John Mashey // February 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    BUT, CO2 does especially help growth:

    1) Poison ivy

    2) Kudzu, “the plant that ate the South”.

    Although, as usual, other factors are important. In the latter case, rising minimum temperatures (night, winter) allow kudzu to migrate North, which it is doing, like the pine beetles.

    University of Toronto researchers Rowan Sage and Heather Coiner have a nice presentation on bioinvasives, including temperature studies and maps (pp11-12, 26-46) of Kudzu’s spread, which they expect to survive in lower Ontario by 2015-2022:

  • Henk Lankamp // February 1, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Another link to share. It shows how the Arctic seaice always moves, driven by winds and pressure systems.
    See here.

  • dhogaza // February 2, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Ah, so winds that move arctic ice from here to there has caused a thirty-year decreasing trend in ice extent, and is why navy sub records show ice volume has decreased by nearly 50%.

    That’s your point?

  • Neven // February 2, 2009 at 4:28 am

    No, that’s not his point. Have a look at his site.

    Thanks, Henk. That’s a nice animation. I like the links on your website as well. Maybe you want to put up this link as well:

  • Deep Climate // February 2, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I’m not sure where Henk is coming from with that comment and link (well, OK, literally he comes from the Netherlands, but you know what I mean).

    But I wouldn’t necessarily assume a “skeptic” perspective, from what I’ve seen. He’s contributed at RC and is credited on the RC Wiki OISM page (pretty effective debunking of the paper that goes with the infamous Oregon petition).

    But it would be useful if Henk would clarify what particular point regarding climate change he is making.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 2, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Two charts — up through 2007, and up through 2008; note the effect of changing the Y-axis.

    Thanks for pointing out that chart Hank. An updated version is at Gary North’s site (see Adjusted Monetary Base at . The Austrian economists that I follow have been sounding the alarm about this for some time. See any Peter Schiff, or Ron Paul YouTubes, or articles from Gary North or Michael S. Rozeff over at for more info. Be prepared.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 2, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Plants: look it up; it’s not simple; Liebig’s Law of the Minimum is known to any kid who grew up on a farm, and to only one or two bloggers, none of whom post optimistic nonsense about increasing CO2 being a good idea.

    Does Liebig’s Law exclude CO2 as a “limiting nutrient”?

  • Henk Lankamp // February 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    No Dhogaza, on the contrary.
    My point is that for the Artic seaice even in midwinter weather is playing a role. So a wise person takes a longer look (climate) instead of daily/weekly looks (weather).

  • John Cross // February 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Does Liebig’s Law exclude CO2 as a “limiting nutrient”?

    No, practical considerations do that. For example is the plant a C3 or a C4? What about water? What about the major plant nutrients? What about the secondary plant nutrients? What about the trace elements?

    All of these must be present in sufficient quantities before you run into CO2 as a limiting factor. In a greenhouse where you can control all these factors, it makes sense to enhance CO2. Other place - not so much.


  • dhogaza // February 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Have a look at his site.

    I’m familiar with icecap, a site of Wattsonian magnitude.

    No Dhogaza, on the contrary.
    My point is that for the Artic seaice even in midwinter weather is playing a role. So a wise person takes a longer look (climate) instead of daily/weekly looks (weather).

    And, of course, that’s just what we do. We note that this year is tracking the all-time measured minimum in the satellite era. We note that the trend over that period of time is relentlessly downward - the wise person sees nothing to cheer about in that. We note that the US Navy records gathered by submarines transecting the arctic ocean - released thanks to action by Gore while he was in the Senate - shows that ice *volume* is far less than it was in the 1960s.

    The people at ice cap, of course, want you to believe that this data is meaningless, or attributable to something like the wind, etc etc etc.

    Most people who want to learn about science, learn about it from scientists or resources developed by scientists.

    Not pseudo-scientific, intentionally misleading, full-of-lies sites like ice crap, Watts, etc.

  • Richard Steckis // February 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm


    So why am I in the dog house?

    [Response: Even after Spencer's analysis of d13C (a reference you provided) was shown to be foolish -- without any doubt whatever -- you persisted in submitting comments like "Any increase in 13C must be from non-biogenic and therefore non-anthropogenic sources" and "There is an hypothesis that crude oil is abiogenic in origin." Either you are dumber than a bag of hammers, or you're deliberately trying to create confusion where there should be none. That identifies you as either unwilling to learn or unable to contribute.

    Are you prepared to admit that the idea, that human activity isn't the cause of CO2 increase, is just plain wrong and you were completely mistaken to suggest it and support it? No "if," "and," or "but."]

  • dhogaza // February 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    In the comments on blogs a lot of people do seem to have problems distinguishing between weather and climate.

    In particular, denialists seem to have this problem but those who understand even a little bit about climate science do not.

    So comments about arctic ice tracking the all time minimum needs to be put into context:

    1. It is doing so in the context of a long-term decrease in ice extent, area and volume - climate, not weather.

    2. The denialsphere has been lying that “the arctic icecap has recovered in 2008-2009!”. The weather point, if you will, is perfectly valid as a rebuttal to what is, after all, a blatant lie.

  • Sekerob // February 2, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Better spend energy on pulling rug from under them “aint true” types dhogaza. I like Arctic Roos / Nansen for they are actually comparing sea ice area and extent to a 79-07 mean rather than 79-00 as the NSIDC is doing. And it still shows twice standard deviation and more shortfall, and still lower than 2008.

    Daily Updated Time series of Arctic sea ice area and extent derived from SSMI data provided by NANSEN.

    The denialists prefer JAXA as it does not show anything before 2002, well momentarily 2003 as that bird did not go aloft until mid-ish 2002 or there abouts.

    It’s weather all right, but combined with a continued low sun and cooler ENSO/PDO, slight effects of volcanic output into the stratosphere, it should be disappointing to them that it’s not responding as they want it to do.

    Phil has thrown it’s shadow so, 6 more winterly weeks goes the tale. In a few days we’ll here the global RSS and UAH temps first. Suddenly global does not count though i’ve seen on a few sites… the focus is all NH, suitably.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Does Liebig’s Law exclude CO2 as a “limiting nutrient”?

    No, practical considerations do that.

    Do “practical considerations” exclude CO2 as a “limiting nutrient” in all cases?

  • Deep Climate // February 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    NSIDC arctic sea ice extent chart:

    It’s a little different from JAXA (and of course current data is shown relative to the 1979-2000 average, which gives a better context IMHO). There are some excellent posts on arctic sea ice on this very blog, by the way.

  • Deep Climate // February 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Are you talking about (as opposed to appears to be a website devoted to arctic resource exploration. But perhaps it it is relevant. It seems that energy companies are preparing for the coming easier exploitation of deep sea arctic gas and oil, while still attempting to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific evidence global warming is caused by humans and will accelerate over the coming decades.

  • Bob North // February 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Dhogaza - You definitely seem to be mis-interpreting Henk. His point is clearly exactly the same as yours - look at the long term, not the short-term variations due to weather. BTW, the site Henk linked to regarding artic sea ice was, which is entirely different than the site you’re thinking of ( . Sometime it helps to actually check the links before typing.

  • John Mashey // February 2, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Liebig’s Law of the Minimum:

    As one of the farm kids who learned this before he was 10, the point is that plant growth is restrained by whatever nutrient is *least* available (relative to what the plant needs).

    Hence, {sunlight, water, CO2, various minerals, temperature, at least}, and some growth requires particular patterns of climate at certain times. If it doesn’t get cold enough, maple sugar is problematical, and vineyards are really tricky. Different plants have different response curves, and even ones that do respond to more {anything} flatten out.

    Despite what the Western Fuels Association might want you to believe *no* amount of CO2 will let you grow corn in the Sahara desert.
    See Naomi Oreskes’ “You CAN Argue with the Facts”, , especially the video that shows how CO2 greens up the world.

    Likewise, it’s ironic that the Idso’s are located in Arizona, an area very likely to see increasing water supply problems. Perhaps Arizona will be renamed the “Idso Memorial Desert”, to go along with the “Inhofe Memorial Dustbowl”, or state formerly known as Oklahoma.

  • Richard C // February 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    “Hansen’s bulldogs, Gavin and Tamino,”

    Is Antarctica warming or not?

    [Response: I'll go with actual published science by actually competent scientists.]

  • Deep Climate // February 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    ” Likewise, it’s ironic that the Idso’s are located in Arizona, an area very likely to see increasing water supply problems.”

    Similar implications for Australia … Yes, this story is partly about about weather, but it’s the sort of extreme weather event that will occur more often over the next century there, along with increased drought, less water flow etc.

    “Most of the south of the country is gripped by unprecedented 12-year drought. The Australian Alps have had their driest three years ever, and the water from the vast Murray-Darling river system now fails to reach the sea 40 per cent of the time. Harvests have fallen sharply.

    “It will get worse as global warming increases. Even modest temperature rises, now seen as unavoidable, are expected to increase drought by 70 per cent in New South Wales, cut Melbourne’s water supplies by more than a third, and dry up the Murray-Darling system by another 25 per cent.”

  • Philippe Chantreau // February 2, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    There is no evidence that CO2 has historically been a limiting factor to plant growth. Forests tell us that much. The most abundant plant life exists where water is most available. With time rain forests managed to cover even very poor tropical soil, I have seen that first hand in the African forest. They can do so because of the availablility of water. There is no other single factor that is even remotely comparable in importance, and CO2 content especially pales in comparison.

    A couple of centuries ago, CO2 was lower but rain forests existed in every place where the availability of water made their existence possible, low CO2 notwithstanding.

  • dhogaza // February 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    BTW, the site Henk linked to regarding artic sea ice was, which is entirely different than the site you’re thinking of ( . Sometime it helps to actually check the links before typing.

    My apologies, I was unaware there’s a similarly named “ice cap” site which is legitimate.

    I’ve gotten used to the argument that recent reductions in ice cap extent are “only due to wind” and therefore not significant being combined with the “arctic ice has recovered” tale that I reacted in a knee-jerk fashion.

    That’ll teach me to be hasty, eh?

  • luminous beauty // February 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm


    CO2 is a potential limiting factor for greenhouses in cold weather as the heating cost demands reducing the inflow of fresh air and CO2 becomes depleted. This is why some greenhouse studies show such impressive increases in yield. They are making up for productivity losses due to restricted air flow.

    CO2 may well have been a limiting factor in the deepest parts of ice ages when the concentration fell below ~200ppm.

  • John Cross // February 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm


    Do “practical considerations” exclude CO2 as a “limiting nutrient” in all cases?

    Well, since it is a practical consideration, what specific case did you have in mind?


  • Hank Roberts // February 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    > Do “practical considerations” exclude CO2 as a
    > “limiting nutrient” in all cases?

    Look up the research and read for yourself:

  • Dave A // February 2, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    John M,

    “Perhaps Arizona will be renamed the “Idso Memorial Desert”, to go along with the “Inhofe Memorial Dustbowl”, or state formerly known as Oklahoma.”

    Remember John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’? That was all about the Prairies dustbowl of the 1930s.

    Now human production of CO2 was at a fairly low point then, compared to today, so how did the ‘dustbowl’ occur? Natural temperature variation perhaps?

  • Henk Lankamp // February 3, 2009 at 12:54 am

    C’mon, Dhagoza, why so upset?
    The link I posted was to, indeed something completely different than
    Yes, is dedicated to oil and gas exploration, they are very explicit about that on their homepage:
    “Welcome to ICE-CAP, the website for disseminating information on oil and gas exploration development and production in the Arctic.”
    But there is a simple fact that they provide a (weekly updated) factual movie, that can’t be found elsewhere. And I think that movie is relevant for discussing the weather/climate issue. When I see for example the ice going up and down around Nova Zembla , I notice weather not climate. So I think the link is interesting for people discussing weather/climate.

    Don’t be afraid when someone is posting a link to a site you don’t like (Buffalo Springfield - For What’s It Worth).

  • mauri pelto // February 3, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Tamino take a look at the following page
    The very last thing on the page is the dataset for you. sheet 1 is the wgms 30 glaciers. The second sheet is the Dyugerov record updated through 2007. The last four years use all of the glaciers reporting to the WGMS which is very close to what Dyugerov and others use.

  • Richard Steckis // February 3, 2009 at 3:43 am


    “Are you prepared to admit that the idea, that human activity isn’t the cause of CO2 increase, is just plain wrong and you were completely mistaken to suggest it and support it? No “if,” “and,” or “but.”]”

    1. I don’t think that I have suggested at any time that human activity has not caused an increase in co2. I would be foolish for thinking so.

    2. I have suggested that there is a non-antrhopogenic component to co2 increase and I stick by that. I have a hypothesis on this.

    3. The abiogenic origin theory for oil is actually the prevailing theory for the origin of oil in Russia and the Ukraine. Forgive me for stating a well supported alternative hypothesis.

    [Response: Your suggestion of a non-anthropogenic component to CO2 increase was stupid when you used Spencer as a reference, and it's stupid now. There's a "stupid threshold," and you're megaparsecs over the line. I'm not interested in hearing any more of your "hypotheses." Ever.]

  • John Mashey // February 3, 2009 at 3:52 am

    As a an instructive exercise, could someone who doesn’t already know the answer (I learned about this when I was 10-12, so I’m no good sample):

    a) Discover the cause(s) of the Oklahoma dust bowl, and what the Federal government did about it, and point at a source.

    b) Tell us how you found it, and long it took you.

  • JCH // February 3, 2009 at 3:56 am

    “Now human production of CO2 was at a fairly low point then, compared to today, so how did the ‘dustbowl’ occur? Natural temperature variation perhaps? …”

    The predominate cause of the dust in the Dust Bowl was years of horrible agricultural practices - often against the advice of agricultural scientists.

    In the 1930s there was a drought, and it was hot. There was also a drought in the 1950s, and it was hot, more than hot and dry enough to create dust blizzards, but by the 1950s land management had significantly improved.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 3, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Philippe, I don’t think that plants are made entirely of water. Obviously, other nutrients need to be included in the mix to get a plant. The question is not what is the most widely limiting nutrient, but whether or not a particular nutrient (CO2) is a limiting nutrient at all in any situation. I agree that water is likely most essential to plant growth, that is why I cheer on a warmer, wetter planet. But what about CO2 where other limiting nutrients, sunlight, etc are abundant? It is pure gamesmanship to pretend that there is no situation on the globe where this does not occur.

  • Hank Roberts // February 3, 2009 at 4:22 am

    > pure gamesmanship
    Or you could have looked it up.
    > dust bowl
    Wouldn’t be fair, I learned it in the 1950s too.

    I can offer a clue — PR at the time lied:
    _ _ _ _ follows the _ _ _ _.

    > abiogenic

  • Hank Roberts // February 3, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Oh, and I have to applaud the reuse of
    > no situation on the globe where this does not occur.
    That’s the “secret forcing hiding in the gaps” argument — the “nobody can show that this doesn’t exist — how do you scientists explain THAT!” argument.

    Also known as the “where do you want delivery of this load and how long will it take you to find my pony?” premise.

  • Hank Roberts // February 3, 2009 at 5:05 am

    But let’s pretend you really, really need homework help. Where do plants get their CO2? From the air and from the soil. How do we know? Watching the changes in the stomata, and watching the death rate where excess CO2 is present (for example many volcanic areas).

    Can you kill a plant by putting it in a pure oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere without any CO2 but for what’s in the soil? Good science fair project, if you can manage to remove the CO2 from the air. Look up how the astronauts do it.

    Can you remove the CO2 from the soil? What is soil? Well, look into that, in some places it’s almost entirely arthropod feces (coast redwoods like that highly processed material around them).

    Seriously, the “mysterious answer hiding in the gaps” is just a pathetic excuse for failing to bother to learn anything. Go do some work kids.

  • lenny // February 3, 2009 at 6:16 am

    “I agree that water is likely most essential to plant growth, that is why I cheer on a warmer, wetter planet. But what about CO2 where other limiting nutrients, sunlight, etc are abundant?”

    I’m sure Jeff Harvey would be happy to disabuse you of your simplistic fantasy:
    Why don’t you ask him.

  • Sekerob // February 3, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    nanny_govt_sucks said at // February 3, 2009 at 4:01 am Philippe, I don’t think that plants are made entirely of water. Obviously, other nutrients need to be included in the mix to get a plant. The question is not what is the most widely limiting nutrient, but whether or not a particular nutrient (CO2) is a limiting nutrient at all in any situation. I agree that water is likely most essential to plant growth, that is why I cheer on a warmer, wetter planet. But what about CO2 where other limiting nutrients, sunlight, etc are abundant? It is pure gamesmanship to pretend that there is no situation on the globe where this does not occur.

    Oh, please protect us against the zombies of the planet who’s brains have been sucked out through the straws that Anthony McIWatts planted.

  • Hank Roberts // February 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Oh, lordylordlordlord, it’s Tim “Parts Per Million”* Curtin back again trying to explain his personal universe and the physics thereof at Deltoid.


    “Dilute, Dilute” — Dr. Bronner.

  • Neven // February 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Sekerob: “The denialists prefer JAXA as it does not show anything before 2002,”

    I like JAXA because of the different colours! ;-)

  • Ray Ladbury // February 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Hank, re Timmie.
    Please, stop. The stupidity hurts. I mean is this guy running around loose, or do they have high-speed Internet access at his particular institution?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Lenny, from your first link:

    “How many times does it have to be said: carbon is often not a limiting nutrient: nitrogen is. ”

    OK, but the possibility is left open that sometimes carbon is the limiting nutrient.

    Is that so hard to admit?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 3, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Or you could have looked it up.

    Hank, I clicked your link that led me the FACE experiments. I’m familiar with them. They show that plants responded in positive ways to the open air CO2 enrichment. Not as much as in closed environments, but still positive responses. So what is your point?

  • lee // February 3, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Increases in CO2 will probably lead to some increases in primary productivity and biomass, in some places under some circumstances some of the time.

    Somehow, that doesn’t strike me as the panacea that is going to save us from the major consequences of climate change and ocean acidification.

    There is a lot of literature showing that when nutrient load in an ecosystem is increased, it most often causes an increase in biomass and a simplifications of the ecosystem. Sudden increases in nutrients favors a subset of extant or invading species, and those species come to dominate the system.

    Simplified ecosystems are less stable. If increased CO2 does lead to significant increases in biomass in some systems, then it will simultaneously tend toward simplification and decreased stability of those systems.

    This is not a good thing.

  • Deep Climate // February 3, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Here’s a graph I find interesting. There’s a post and more graphs coming in a day or two …

    (Thanks to TCO/apolyg for the kick in the posterior).

    [Response: This may be related to the annual cycle present in the UAH reduction, discussed here and here.

  • Hank Roberts // February 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Nan, you saw what you wanted to see.
    Read the rest. See if you can write up a summary that an unbiased reader would recognize as an accurate summary of the FACE studies.
    Take it as a challenge to do the right thing.

  • Deep Climate // February 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm


    Yes, absolutely, this is directly inspired by your exposition of the annual cycle in UAH - one of your best posts ever. In case anyone wonders where this is going, recall my comment at the time:

    “I’ve confirmed large differences between winter and summer month linear trends (over the full 1979-2008 period) in UAH TLT and TMT global monthly anaomaly data. These differences can even be seen in the UAH TLT tropical data.”

  • luminous beauty // February 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm


    Nitrogen limitation constrains sustainability of ecosystem response to CO2

  • Dave A // February 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm


    Not being an American I learned about the 1930’s dustbowl from Steinbeck.

    But what’s this, whilst agricultural practices contributed to the effects “. Recent studies indicate that periodic droughts in the western United States are controlled by naturally occurring periods of cool sea-surface water “

  • apolytongp // February 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    It’s sad watching the Harry station mistake stuff on CA. SM found something interesting with a mistake in input data to Steig’s paper, but he can’t just cite the thing…has to play games with mystery story buildup, with cutesy name crap. Also, fails to discuss the impact (according to Stieg and Gavin no affect on reconstruction, just on comparables analysis.)

    It’s just sad how he has marginilized himself into a little preaching to the choir blogger rabble rouser. Sad. Sad.

  • apolytongp // February 3, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    It’s sad that he finds time for extensive posts on “credit” for finding the mistake debates. I mean a loooooooong post. But he can’t be bothered, doesn’t have time for critical comments, full factorials, deconfounding, analysis of papers in his area of interest, Douglas or Loehle, questions from Burger/Zorita, not to mention JohnV or TCO. But a blog fight. Boy he’s got a BUTT ton of time for that.

    I can’t help looking at Lee Smolin or Peter Woit and how much more professional they are in advancing counter-current views on science (anti string theory).

    Sad, sad…sad.

    Why can’t my side do better? Why can’t we show more phlegmatic…more manly…more let the chips fall where they fall attitude?

  • apolytongp // February 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Funny that SM is chiding MM for not using hard core stats references for methodolgy while SM uses one of 5 references for a cite to the AIG NEWS (a newsletter for Australian geologists, not even a journal.)

  • dhogaza // February 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Why can’t my side do better? Why can’t we show more phlegmatic…more manly…more let the chips fall where they fall attitude?

    The answer to the last part of your statement should be totally obvious to you by now. Do you really think SM’s mission is to “improve the science”? That he has any intention to let the “chips fall where they may”? Are you still naive enough to believe that his effort isn’t primarily a political exercise, trying to monkeywrench the science with trivialities that boil down to FUD in order to confuse the populace, and give ammunition to politicians who don’t want to face reality?

    You’ve made a great deal of progress in the last couple of years. Now work towards reaching that 12th step of recovery from addiction to the view that SM and his ilk are anything other than ideologically-driven monkeywrenchers.

  • John Mashey // February 3, 2009 at 11:46 pm


    1) Yes to all you say, and for sure, anyone with even minimal knowledge of plant growing knows that CO2 can enhance some plants’ growth, some of the time, at different rates depending on the plant and Liebig. Even if all But, other nutrients are available, the enhancement curves still flatten out.

    2) But the immediate problem is the one related to the Oklahoma dust bowl (water). Nobody took me up my on request, so I’ll just note that the *obvious*search:

    Google: oklahoma dust bowl cause

    Yields useful hits, including a reasonable Wikipedia entry, which a junior high school student should be able to find and understand in 5 minutes:

    {This was a human-made catastrophe-in-the-making, just awaiting the next natural drought.Farmers ignored agronomists. Conservation tillage is a good idea. Overplanting and overgrazing is a bad idea.}…

    is taught no later than high school in some states, and farmkids often learn it earlier, as the “Dust Bowl” is used as the classic awful example for serious farmers to avoid. We still had topsoil on our hilly family farm, which started ~1850. Swiss farmers were careful.

    Around 1900, about 40% of US population was on farms, now it’s about 2%. Much of the incredibly-ignorant silliness about farming [in either direction] would disappear if most people spent, say, a year working on a real farm, where they might learn that resources aren’t infinite, topsoil is precious, especially once gone, the general form of Liebig’s Law is real, corn won’t grow in the Sahara, weather is variable, and not only averages, but minima and maxima matter. They also might realize that Peak Oil won’t help American and Canadian agriculture much.]

    3) Water pressure.
    a) The mid-west is sucking the Ogallala Aquifer down.

    b) The models all say to expect Southwest Droughts getting worse and longer, because it gets hotter, and the rain migrates North. (Hadley cells).

    c) Bryan Fagan has often written about problems with water (”Floods, famines, and Emperors” and “The Long Summer”, for example). The latter includes the fate of the Anasazi, whose temperatures the US SouthWest will exceed.

    4) OK, one may say: migrates North? Some agriculture moves to Canada (yes).
    It’s big.
    It will likely get more rain.
    It will get warmer [although that allows kudzu and other weeds], but it won’t get extra sunlight.

    But Liebig raises his head again. Topsoil matters.

    Google: canadian shield

    One of the reasons the US mid-West is such a great agricultural area is that glaciers scraped a lot of topsoil from Canada and left it in the US, a very nice import.

    This illustrates another Liebig-like principle: you not only have to have enough of the right things for a plant, you have to have them in the same place. A warmer,wetter world doesn’t mean that the warmth and rain are where the sun and nutrients are.

  • Hank Roberts // February 4, 2009 at 12:08 am

    There ya go.

  • Philippe Chantreau // February 4, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Dave A, I learned about the dustbowl from Steinbeck too and in my recollection it did not take place in the western US but rather in the Midwest: OK, KS, possibly NW TX, NE. I believe that the studies that you indirectly allude too concern the Colorado Basin, NV, SoCal. It is established beyond doubt that the Midwest dustbowl was due to poor agricultural practices.

  • Deep Climate // February 4, 2009 at 12:24 am

    apolytongp :
    “Funny that SM is chiding MM for not using hard core stats references for methodolgy while SM uses one of 5 references for a cite to the AIG NEWS (a newsletter for Australian geologists, not even a journal.)”

    This is a reference to M & M’s PNAS letter which was published online with a reply from Mann. today.

    PNAS asks $10 for the letter and for the reply. There’s not even a teaser like most of the letters. But McIntyre posted links to free copies of the two PDFs. I wonder if he consulted a lawyer about copyright infringement.

    So I guess you consider the “red noise hockey stick mining” argument a weak one. Good call.

    What do you think is the strongest part of M&M’s critique (if any)?

  • Philippe Chantreau // February 4, 2009 at 12:28 am

    You know what Dave A? My bad, I should have read the link, which would have made me find this:

    “What made the 1930s different was the arrival of farmers onto the Great Plains, where they replaced drought-resistant wild prairie grasses with fragile wheat, neglected to plant cover crops in unused fields, and allowed livestock to overgraze pastures.”

    I still fail to see how it relieves bad agricultural practices of their responsibility in the ensuing problems.

  • malcolm // February 4, 2009 at 12:53 am

    A question: I was looking at the Multivariate ENSO index at:

    Looking at the graph, ENSO seems to have been in a predominantly cooling phase until the mid-1970s, then switching to a predominantly warming phase. Am I interpreting that correctly?

    If so, could some of the recent warming have been attributed to carbon forcing, when it was actually due to a flip in ENSO? Of course, the flip in ENSO could also be due to global warming, I suppose.

    I’d appreciate any advice on interpreting this.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 4, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Also, fails to discuss the impact

    How is he going to do that without the source code?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 4, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Increases in CO2 will probably lead to some increases in primary productivity and biomass, in some places under some circumstances some of the time.

    Thanks Lee. I’m glad that some see Leibig’s law for what it is instead of filtering it through an agenda.

    One of the “some places, some circumstances, some time” is new growth rain forests. So if you are concerned about rain forest loss then a CO2 enriched environment may be just what the doctor ordered for recovery.

  • Boris // February 4, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Funny that SM is chiding MM for not using hard core stats references for methodolgy while SM uses one of 5 references for a cite to the AIG NEWS (a newsletter for Australian geologists, not even a journal.)

    I noticed that too. And if Wahl and Ammann is so obviously bad, shouldn’t there be at least a comment somewhere on it?

  • Ray Ladbury // February 4, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Nanny says, “Thanks Lee. I’m glad that some see Leibig’s law for what it is instead of filtering it through an agenda.

    One of the “some places, some circumstances, some time” is new growth rain forests. So if you are concerned about rain forest loss then a CO2 enriched environment may be just what the doctor ordered for recovery.”

    You know, Nanny, the really sad thing is you don’t even appreciate the irony of your statement. It’s one thing to BE the joke. It’s quite another to BE the joke and still not get it.

  • dhogaza // February 4, 2009 at 2:30 am

    How is he going to do that without the source code?

    By reading the paper. That would be a good start. You could go read the paper (or the RealClimate explanation as to why this doesn’t impact the results), too, but you won’t.

  • dhogaza // February 4, 2009 at 2:32 am

    A broader question for DaveA:

    Is it your belief that science has been stuck, has discovered nothing new, has not moved forward because source code to software has rarely been published in the past?

    Is it your belief that science has not made progress in the past because SM hasn’t been there auditing everything under the sun?

    Oh, BTW, Steig has said that the source code is available to legit researchers who ask for it.

  • David B. Benson // February 4, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Several commenters here really, really need to read Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel”.

  • tamino // February 4, 2009 at 3:42 am

    The wordpress stats now indicate that this blog has passed the 1,000,000-visits mark.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 4, 2009 at 4:41 am

    By reading the paper.

    … and finding out things like misplaced station locations, confusing info about which stations were included (was it 42 or 46?), etc… The source code eliminates these wild goose chases. Open source it. What’s the problem?

  • Hank Roberts // February 4, 2009 at 6:16 am

    > free copies
    Adding one to the total number of pirates, eh?

  • apolytongp // February 4, 2009 at 8:13 am


    It’s hard to really evaluate SM’s criticisms of Mann’s PNAS. The allowed letters are so short that both comment and reply lack the text for explication.

    There is longer text on CA blog posts, but it’s so hard to read because of the stream of consciousness development and the mixing of snark with analysis, lack of explicit accusations, lack of estimation of impact, etc.

    Mann’s writing in the paper itself while more professional often tends to be not explanatory enough. He’ll cite something as if he were touching a base, rather than explaining how he did something. Jolliffe has said it’s nontrivial to understand actual methods (it’s not just dumbies or denialists like TCO)…so you almost need an SM to parse the code. I dislike the Mann tendancy to publish clipped papers in high impact, limited length journals like PNAS or Science/Nature, when what he is bringing to the table is essentially different methods of statistical screening and combination of large data sets. I don’t think SIs are sufficient to explain the details (or an appropriate place for those details, since they are not reviewed as much, are not archived, etc.) I don’t think defense papers like Wahl and Amman are suitable either, but rather there should be good at length pubs in the specialist literature. Even supportive stats method papers as well as papers in the field of interest.

    Given caveat above (limited explanation) I think there is potential in all of the SM critisisms of Mann, with the exception of the “strip bark” comment, which is an appeal to authority…and not a real technical exposition by someone who parsed data, but just a quip from a panel.

    I think “hockey stick from red noise” is a poor way to describe the impact of what may be a general flaw in Mann’s methods. Basically what concerns me about his proxies in general is that the screening procedure can take a lot of benefit from a rough decadal-centeniall scale match in the recent era. Unlike Kim Cobb’s coral proxies, which you can look at and just SEE excellent year to year “wiggle matching” that shows coral really responding to temp, many Mann proxies tend to go for a run of increase in the 1900s and then temps went for a run in 1900s. This is not just a TCO concern, Zorita also thinks that proof of short period responsiveness of a proxy makes it a better screened thermometer and shares my concern of essentially broad trend matching.

    The other things (two-cell matches, CI calculation etc.) are interesting debates as well. I really would have preferred to see Mann cite a stats paper for the CIs or a method paper that he had done himself if the treatment is so specialized. The cites to “defense” papers are not really sufficiently grounding and explanatory.


    My guess is that there are some issues with Mann work, that SM of CA will over-tout them. And that we won’t really get a clear understanding of “if you beleive this, then Mann is right…if you believe that, then he’s wrong” type of abstraction from either party (although Mann is better here, since he is more professional…albiet a bit young Turky/self promotey).

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Congratulations, tamino.

  • Piotr // February 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Congratulations, Tamino!

  • Magnus W // February 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Congratulations Tamino, you are doing a terrific job here!

  • Neven // February 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Congratulations, Tamino.

    Are you sure the blog didn’t pass the 1,000,000,000-visits mark? I’ve been coming here a lot these past few months. I can’t grasp the science, but I enjoy the discussions.

  • Bob North // February 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    TCO/Apolytongp - That was one of the most lucid things you have posted recently and a good summary of the issues with both SM and the Mann reconstructions.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Neven, if you have questions about the science: ASK! PLEASE! I am not an expert on everything presented by any means, but a lot of folks here are scientists and have looked into the issues in some detail. This stuff is important, and a curious mind is too valuable a resource to waste.

  • dhogaza // February 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    … and finding out things like misplaced station locations,

    One station, and BAS was notified of the error by another reviewer, not SM, who instead launched a blog attack against Steig’s competence and integrity, despite the fact that it was clear that the problem was at BAS.

    confusing info about which stations were included (was it 42 or 46?),

    They did more than one analysis, and the stations used in each (with or without the 4 AWS) are explained in the paper, and afterwards have been explained by Steig at Real Climate after the CA minions started flooding RC. Steig’s comments have been of the form “If you read the paper, you’d see the information is there, however, I’ll post an answer here, too …”

    etc… The source code eliminates these wild goose chases. Open source it. What’s the problem?

    How would publishing the (already available) source code eliminate these so-called wild goose chases ?

    Please explain in detail:

    1) one error was in data provided by a third party, BAS. Such data is not encoded in the program doing the analysis, so please explain how open sourcing the (already available) source code would have told anyone anything about the BAS error.

    2) The other “wild goose chases” are apparently due to limited reading comprehension, or perhaps a hasty rush to a false conclusion based on an underlying belief that the researchers are 1) incompetent 2) dishonest or 3) both (SM seems to believe #3). It’s not the researchers’ problem if non-scientists aren’t capable of understanding the content of the paper.

    So please tell me how open sourcing the (already available) code would’ve prevented SM and his minions from rushing to their false conclusions based on a lazy reading of the paper.

  • dhogaza // February 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    It’s interesting how people blame the authors of the paper, rather than those who clearly haven’t (ahem) read for comprehension, for the lack of understanding displayed by the latter.

  • dhogaza // February 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Jolliffe has said it’s nontrivial to understand actual methods (it’s not just dumbies or denialists like TCO)…so you almost need an SM to parse the code.

    Yet Jolliffe and Tamino managed to figure it out, though Tamino mistakenly believed that Jolliffe thought the methodology was not a problem, due to what appeared to be a different understanding of jargon and written words, not the actual statistics used by Mann.

    Not everything in science has to be easy.

    I dislike the Mann tendancy to publish clipped papers in high impact, limited length journals like PNAS or Science/Nature

    That’s like saying you dislike a football player for accepting employment in the NFL rather than the CFL or some semipro league. The reality is that a scientist’s publication record does much to determine the success of one’s career, and to complain that Mann gets accepted by the most prestigious journals and publishes there rather than in lesser journals with perhaps a looser page count limit is just stupid. You want him to step back from the very best venues just because you find his papers terse and difficult to understand? That’s stupid, selfish, and totally unrealistic.

    I think there is potential in all of the SM critisisms of Mann

    You’d think that after a decade of whining we’d start seeing that potential start to bear fruit.

    You’re like a Cubs fan …

  • Deep Climate // February 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm


    “Jolliffe has said it’s nontrivial to understand actual methods (it’s not just dumbies or denialists like TCO)…so you almost need an SM to parse the code.”

    A lot of what you said in this paragraph might conceivably apply to MBH98, but surely not to MBH08. In fact, if you’ve followed the discussions closely, SM appeared to have misinterpreted the SI at several points.

    Here’s a passage from “More Voodoo Correlations” thread at ClimateAudit:
    “Mann stuff is always needles in eyes. Consider the following: ….

    More annoying is this. They have 3 series that don’t meet the low-frequency guidlines …

    Here’s it’s not that they used a different number, as there are a few series in the same range that “pass”. I guess maybe they forgot to flip in time. ”

    It turned out that the reason was some proxies had a two-tailed significance test, whereas most had an a priori direction and so were subject to a one tailed-test at a lower correlation cutoff. I commented about this before SM realized his error.

    Now you can raise objections to the use of “two-sided” significance (and you have), but the point here is that Mann clearly explained in the SI the statistical tests he used, but McIntyre’s grasp of the details was tenuous. Don’t you think there’s something wrong with the so-called “audit”, if I was able to find the explanation for this so-called “problem” before he did?

  • Lee // February 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    nanny, if there were a major amount of “new growth rain forest” around on this planet, your comment might have some significance. If re-establishment of denuded tropical rain forest were not limited primarily by precipitation (yes - look at what happens to local water cycle when rain forest gets removed), nutrients, and soil, your comment might make some sense.

    As it is, its one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard you say.


  • Lee // February 4, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    also, nanny, I notice that you utterly ignored the meat of my comment, going instead for the quote-mined, sound-bite response, ‘filtered through your agenda.’

    But then, I expected that from you.

  • luminous beauty // February 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    You’re like a Cubs fan …

    A disservice to Cubs’ fans. At least come April they’ll be tied for first place.

    More like a Washington Senators’ fan.

  • luminous beauty // February 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    The sports simile that strikes me as most cogent is one concerning Charlie Brown, Lucy and a football.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Lee, I’ve been talking about Leibig’s law on this thread. Sorry if you wanted to talk about something else that doesn’t interest me. Maybe some others on this thread will comment. I’m sure there are some new growth rain forest areas that are not CO2 limited. Nothing to get bent out of shape over.

  • Lee // February 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Nanny, you cant even stay honest from one of your own posts to the next. You said in your immediate last post to me:

    “One of the “some places, some circumstances, some time” is new growth rain forests. So if you are concerned about rain forest loss then a CO2 enriched environment may be just what the doctor ordered for recovery.”

    I am concerned about rain forest loss. You raised the topic of rain forest loss, and concern about rain forest loss and that increased CO2 should be seen as a good thing in the face of concern over rain forest loss. I pointed out that increased CO2 and Leibig’s law is not some cushion against rain forest loss, and that your point is unsupported. You responded by saying you are talking about something else, and saying that the point you yourself raised does not interest you.

    Are you intentionally sidetracking or derailing or being dishonest about the conversations here? Where I come from, we call that trolling.

  • Hank Roberts // February 4, 2009 at 9:08 pm

  • Hank Roberts // February 4, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    PS, Nan, can we sum you up as “Growth is Always Good” on this subject and move on?

  • apolytongp // February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm


    You may be very right that the SI has a complete and accessible methods explanation. I admit to having not spent the time (nor having the expertise) to really go through that stuff.

    You asked for my impression, so I gave it. But you need to realize that I am a neophyte. Sometimes, I might have a valid point. (I think if one is a logical thinker and good problem solver and has a generalist background accross feilds/iundustries, it’s not hard to occasionaly have a relevant insight.) But don’t take that as more than what it is.


  • Hank Roberts // February 5, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Nan! Wonderful news — looks like you’re right!
    No “Atmospheric Iris” thermostat in the past.

  • apolytongp // February 5, 2009 at 12:03 am


    1. Jolliffe: disagree on how well Jolliffe comprehended Mann (he remarked in the corrigendum reviews that it would take code and weeks and access to authors to really settle questions).

    2. Agreed that there are a lot of incentives driving to publishing short papers in high prestige journals.

    3. Agreed that the years of whining with little results is an annoying lack of payoff for the “tease” from McI.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 5, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Lee I recall you were talking about simplification. Sorry no one has taken you up on this conversation so far.

    I pointed out that increased CO2 and Leibig’s law is not some cushion against rain forest loss, and that your point is unsupported.

    No, you didn’t say that. You talked about precipitation. I do not deny that some areas of new growth rain forest are limited by precipitation. Some areas, however, are not. Can we agree on that and move on?

  • lee // February 5, 2009 at 6:08 am

    goodbye,nags. I’m done with you.

  • Hank Roberts // February 5, 2009 at 11:33 am

  • Bob Tisdale // February 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Luminous Beauty, please excuse the delay in my response, but I just came across the comment you wrote on the “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” thread on January 23: “Adam, If ENSO was driving heat stored in the deep oceans to the surface, then bulk ocean heat content would be falling. It isn’t. Simple physics beyond the ken of Bob Tisdale. Stupid is as stupid does.”

    Your comment was in response to the Adam Gallon’s comment immediately before yours on that thread in which he wrote, “Interesting couple of pieces on (Dare I mention it here, in amongst The Zealots’ High Church?) Watts?

    “A plausible explanation for where some of the heats been hiding?”

    First, I didn’t write “A plausible explanation for where some of the heats been hiding?” That was Adam. Second, nowhere in Adam’s comment does he state that “ENSO was driving heat stored in the deep oceans to the surface…” Third, nowhere in my two posts at WattsUpWithThat did I mention or discuss that “ENSO was driving heat stored in the deep oceans to the surface…” Fourth, nowhere in those two posts did I mention ocean heat content. You raised those topics.

    My post dealt with Sea Surface Temperatures. Nothing More. Nothing Less. Your comments are, therefore, irrelevant.

    BTW, “Simple physics beyond the ken of Bob Tisdale,” is a sentence fragment, an incomplete sentence.


  • luminous beauty // February 5, 2009 at 3:16 pm


    What is the source of the energy necessary to raise SSTs?

    If you don’t think that is relevant then you don’t understand basic physics.

    An incomplete sentence? Oooh! Color me grammatically embarrassed. Not!

  • nanny_govt_sucks // February 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    It’s funny that it is so hard to get some on this board to admit that sometimes CO2 is a limiting nutrient. Have a good day y’all.

  • John Cross // February 5, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Nanny: you said

    It’s funny that it is so hard to get some on this board to admit that sometimes CO2 is a limiting nutrient.

    Hey, if you think that is hard, just try getting some to answer questions. Almost 2 years and I’m still waiting.


  • michel // February 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Seems like the situation with the Steig paper is this:


    [Response: This has been hashed out ad infinitum on RealClimate. I'm not interested in hosting anybody's conspiracy theories, so if you want to harp on that, take it over to RC.]

  • Hank Roberts // February 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Nan, there’s no “admission” lacking, you’re just asking us to do your homework and find the papers for you that describe what you want to claim.

    But I did look, my dear, and I found stomata open and close, root hairs absorb CO2 along with water as well, and nobody that I was able to turn up in searching has published what you want to read.

    Now you could certainly do a more thorough job of looking for yourself by asking a reference librarian for help.

    Why not? Maybe you can publish a review paper if you find an article or two supporting what you want to believe.

    Or do the research. I’m sure you can find a way to exclude CO2.

    If you just look for the paper I recall somewhere measuring CO2 levels between the tall corn on windless days, you may have what you want.

    But bringing a big load of nothing here and then demanding other people sort through it for you to find your pony is, well, all too typical.

    Do better. I’m sure you can. Ask your local librarian for help finding what you want.

    I admit I have no proof of what you believe.
    Do you?

  • cce // February 6, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Question for tamino or any math guru. What is a formula for calculating the area of the surface of the earth bounded by two latitude lines? For example, between +10 and -10 or between 90 and 80? Thanks!

    [Response: The area between two latitudes (Lat1) and (Lat2) with Lat1 further north than Lat2, is 2*pi*R^2*[sin(Lat1)-sin(Lat2)]. Of course R is the radius of the earth.]

  • michel // February 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

    For the record, I do not think (and did not either say or suggest) that there is any sort of conspiracy connected with either the assembly, supply or use of the data in the Steig paper. I should be very sorry for any impression to that effect to be given.

  • dhogaza // February 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Interesting downtick in the NSIDC arctic ice extent graph.

    No, I’m not trying to assign any particular significance to it, but having even a short-term downtick like this appears to be unusual … and interesting.

  • Phil. // February 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    dhogaza // February 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I’m not surprised, through Jan the sea ice was drifting out through Fram, in Feb there was a sudden switchround to a very strong drift in the opposite direction so much so that the ice moved off shore N of Svaalbard.

    You can find the drift vectors here:

    in the quicklooks folder

  • Sekerob // February 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Re: dhogaza // February 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    The end of the blue line tends to wiggle around a bit. It’s by no means a final data point.

    More in silent scare observed by the “ain’t true” crowd is that the Antarctic line has dipped below the mean. NCDC/Goddard reported for January ‘09 3.22 million km square of sea ice area average compared to 3.88 million same month previous year. February mean 2008 was 2.28 million. Cryosphere Today lags about 5 days behind and already reports 2.395 million km square for January 31 equiv. see Still schrinking with a big blob out away from the Ross Sea rapidly shrinking.

    I’ve yet to find a place where simple daily numbers are reported for the Antarctic extent similar to CT’s Area plot.

  • Sekerob // February 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    oh yes, to add to my previous post. The 31 day Antarctic average derived from CT’s daily figures was 3.54 million compared to NCDC/Goddard’s 3.22 million. Their number is usually higher, so the 2.395 million is per Goddard probably a few hundred thousand lower already, lower than Feb. 2008 probably.

  • dhogaza // February 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    The end of the blue line tends to wiggle around a bit. It’s by no means a final data point.

    True, but I haven’t seen it drop like this in 2009. We’ll see what the next few days bring. Of most interest, of course, is the coming annual maximum extent. My guess is we’ll hear less about this from our denialist friends than we did about the “record refreeze” not so long ago.

    Interesting stuff regarding the Antarctic …

  • Hank Roberts // February 6, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    No need to point to the dinky little “iphone” graphics, unless you’re stuck on one.

    > a place where simple daily numbers …

    Did you check the link they give, where it says

    “Snow and ice data provided by the National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA” down near the bottom? That might be what you want.

  • Deep Climate // February 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    NSIDC also shows antarctic sea ice extent is at last year’s minimum, and still headed downward (of course it’s summer in the SH).

  • Sekerob // February 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Hank, unless I’m going squinty, the daily numbers are only published once annual. I’ve looked in pretty much every nook and granny for this piece of data and even wrote to one keeper who replied that it was not in part of their mission to provide that for Antarctica (though they have it as inferred by the reply).

    I use the iPhone dinky because it prints the actual numbers and since my ffx browser+add-in is set to remember the zoom for each website, it shows on my screen as big as the others.

    Yes DC, that’s going and going to throw out any 25,000 km square annual growth trend over past decades, but weather is weather. Though, read of a massive hot area in the Indian Ocean that is the newly identified source of the rain falling on North Australia. Don’t know if that has any influence on that side of the Antarctic.

  • Hank Roberts // February 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Sekerob — you clicked that link at the bottom and asked where the data for the charts comes from and they told you — what, exactly?

    Did you try this?

  • Hank Roberts // February 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Well you got me curious so I poked a bit. There are some old pages with bad links for which you’d want to email webmasters or fill out request forms provided along with the failure pages; I didn’t bother, just kept poking til hitting this one, which may offer a way to inquire about what you want:

    Remember the cautions about raw data, the releases you found may well be the first actual compilation considered reliable. Any individual day’s work from satellite imagery is going to be suspect given all the sources of error; once a few days or a week of data from a given area have been collected it’ll be easier to tell a cloud from a puddle from new ice from old ice from a vast mass of penguins ….

  • Sekerob // February 7, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Hank, I once wrote to the gentlemen of the CT site about the 365 day charts. In a leap year they miss 2 days at the beginning to allow a true year on year data point comparison. Given the leaps and bounds sometimes are 100-200 thousand km square in a few days quite a sizable impact when comparing perusing such charts… no reply.

    JAXA was the one I asked for the Antarctic dailies same presentation as the data they do for the Arctic. Their 2 day pre-view numbers are good enough for me long as they are consistent.

  • Hank Roberts // February 7, 2009 at 1:54 am

    > year on year
    But it’s not just comparing two points, it’s comparing 365 pairs — and omitting the leap year days keeps the pairs associated with the seasons.
    Makes sense to me. How did you suggest doing it?

  • malcolm // February 7, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Hi, I got an answer to my question over at WUWT, but it shocked me. It pointed to this website:

    Which suggests that some of the temperature change over the last fifty years is due to the interaction of the PDO and ENSO. This raises two problems.

    - First, trend estimates are not valid estimates of AGW effects unless they control for the effect of PDO and ENSO. They are valid estimates of the trend in the data-set, but we can’t just assume all the data trend is AGW. Without controlling for PDO/ENSO, an AGW trend model will suffer from serious specification error.

    - Second, there will be turning points in the trend when the PDO flips. This occurred in the mid-to-late 1970s, and seems to have occurred again around 1999. That gives a theoretical reason NOT to include post-1999 and pre-1999 data in the same trend analysis. The underlying processes, and thus trends are different. There has been a turning point.

    I’d be delighted if somebody could point out flaws in my reasoning, or alternatively point me to an AGW trend model that includes ENSO/PDO covariates. Please? What’s the underlying temperature trend once they confounding factors have been removed?

    [Response: You can't believe every "answer" you get on the internet, and you can't trust anything you read on WUWT. The answer you got is wrong.

    It's time for you to get an education. Go read this and this and this and this and this.

    Then we can talk.]

  • Sekerob // February 7, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Nope, I’m talking about the 365 day charts on the Front page, first chart e.g. It really is showing only 365 days last i counted the pixels.

    And be careful… the denylose will jump on 0.25 days and even the second adjustment every now and then… LoL. Not thought this through but the lack of ice/snow at the poles is affecting earths rotation ;>)

    Our winter notwithstanding all snow reports has been way to warm. 19C yesterday. That’s why the nearby Calderone glacier is going faster than before.

    Have a nice weekend.

  • malcolm // February 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Tamino. I read those, and take your points about temperature comparisons and trend analysis. The correlations of ordered data is a problem I’ve run across myself recently, related to abuses of zipf’s law. Using ordered data, I found it hard to get a correlation of less than .9, even when the data were random! Nonetheless, I do think WUWT performs a valuable service, a few of us are perfect.

    Anyway, without going into detail … I have settled on HadCrut as the source for my own further analysis. I’m working up some views on this, via my own blogposts, and will get back to you when I have my arguments marshalled.

    But the short story is - I’m becoming convinced that the fossil fuel production record and the HadCrut temperature record are pretty persausive about the AGW hypothesis. However, I’m concerned that the IPCC estimates do not allow for the PDO, and so may be overstated, possibly by as much as 100%. Also, I have a few snippy things to say about the style of the AGW debate. :-)

    But as I say, I’ll get back to you when I have my thoughts in order.

    [Response: Your belief that "IPCC estimates do not allow for the PDO" is based on the false notion that PDO is a driver of global temperature. It isn't -- that's just an idea that has been kicked around WUWT and other place by people who want to convince you that IPCC doesn't know what they're doing.

    Frankly I think it's a bit naive of you to believe that the consensus view of the worldwide community of climate scientists (IPCC) has somehow "missed" something which causes them to overstate warming by 100%, and you base that on information gleaned from WUWT. You need to accept the truth: not everybody's "opinion" is equally valid, or even worth listening to. Nobody is perfect -- but some are just plain totally incompetent and shouldn't be paid any attention at all.

    Be warned: when you finally come to your senses and realize that the PDO crap is just crap, Watts and his contributors have a dozen more crackpot theories to confuse you with. Most of which contradict each other.]

  • malcolm // February 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Oops, that was meant to read, “and few of us are perfect”, not “a few of us are perfect”

  • Hank Roberts // February 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Sekerob, you’re channeling something here.
    Your question is really big right now on WTFU and CA and one of the weather sites. If none of those people has bothered to get a clear statement from Cryosphere, why are you blogging it here as well?

  • Hank Roberts // February 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Anyhow, here ya go for the “leap year” tsurris. If anyone finds a pony I’m sure we’ll hear about it. But I really doubt trying to stir up yet another crowd about the need to help search for one is worthwhile use of time.“cryosphere+today”+”chart”+”leap+year”

  • dhogaza // February 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Malcom, in your mind, how could the PDO be driving warming? What would’ve changed 50 years ago to cause this?

    Gives us a clear, physical explanation for the mechanism you believe drives this.

    The innumeracy and scientific illiteracy at WUWT is glaringly obvious. Why would you trust anything you read there?

  • Hank Roberts // February 7, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    In a speech at the Department of Energy on February 5, 2009, President Obama put appliance efficiency standards front and center on the nations’ energy agenda. He signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering the department to complete five efficiency rules subject to legal deadlines by August 8th and work to complete standards due after August 8th ahead of schedule, especially those with the largest potential savings for consumers.

    Home furnaces: This is not one of the standards President Obama is committing to address, but huge in terms of energy savings. President Bush’s standard, issued in fall 2007, saves almost no energy since 99% of sales already comply. Consumer and environmental groups and states have sued to force reconsideration of the weak standard. Obama could accept the need to revisit this standard by settling that suit.
    Earlier, and also current subject of a suit by states and utilities requesting a stronger standard:

    Washington, D.C. (October 12, 2007) — The electric industry along with energy efficiency and environmental groups said new electric distribution transformer standards finalized by the Department of Energy … fall short of the strong levels the groups had jointly endorsed with one of the biggest transformer manufacturers.

  • JCH // February 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Could it be surfboard friction?

  • Raven // February 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm


    We were told for years that the wizards of wall street knew what they were doing and have only recently dicovered that they were blinded by their own greed, arrogance and ability to convince themselves that what they wanted to be believe to true was actually true.

    Given that context no one can reasonably claim that the IPCC is infalliable or even likely to be “largely correct”. Whether you like or not the only rational policy decisions that can be made are ones that take into account the possibility that there is no risk of catastrophic AGW and that the current scientific consensus has missed some major factors that affect climate such as long term persistence via the oceans than manifests itself as 70-year PDO cycles.

    [Response: Your "reasoning" is that greedy wall street investors pulled the wool over our eyes so no one can reasonably claim that the IPCC is likely to be largely correct? Do you have any idea how ridiculous you are?]

  • Raven // February 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm


    The issue is the reliability of experts and the tendency of experts (especially self appointed experts) to exagerrate the certainty of their findings because this is how they ensure they continue to get paid to be experts. This is what we saw on wall street where complex computer models were used to ‘manage’ the risk of derivatives trading. And this is what we are likely seeing in climate science where the financial stakes might be smaller but just as important to the individuals involved.

    IOW. The experience with the finacial mess, the ’slam dunk’ WMD in Iraq mess, and similar overwrought claims going back as far a I can remember tells me that the claims of experts must always be presumed to be exgarrated until proven otherwise.

    [Response: So: your "reasoning" is that because a bunch of greedy wall street crooks pulled the wool over our eyes AND a trigger-happy president falsified evidence about WMDs, no one can reasonably claim that the IPCC is likely to be largely correct?

    Clearly you don't realize how ridiculous you are.]

  • Hank Roberts // February 7, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    He’s a copypaster, Tamino.

    He thinks because finance turned out not to work based on the assumption of endless growth, that energy policy should be trusted to work on the assumption of endless growth.

    He’s illustrating the familiar political joke:

    Q: (Any policy question whatsoever)
    A: Cut taxes and end regulation.

    It doesn’t matter what anyone says, the stuff pasted in is always the same stuff. Paste-0nly.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 7, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Raven, Napoleon said “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” When I read something as stupid as what you just wrote, I try to be charitable. I think that maybe, just maybe, what you’ve written could be explained by utter ignorance of how science works, of the subject matter of science, of the motivations of scientists and the incentives in science.
    But actually, I would argue that the meltdown on Wall Street undermines your position: That is, it shows “auditing” doesn’t work. It can’t prevent moral lapses, stupid risk taking, wishful thinking. The fact is, however, that science has never shown a propensity to such lapses. It works. You can either study it and figure out why (an instructive excercise) or you can remain willfully ignorant. Your choice.

  • Raven // February 7, 2009 at 11:36 pm


    If you wanted to censor what I had to say then you should not have posted the first post. Allowing the first post but then deleting the follow up that responds to your comments is extremely dishonest and manipulative.


    Climate science is 10% and 90% opinion disguised with statistics. There no scientific facts or proofs in this field. That is why AGW types buut such an emphasis on appeals to authority.

    Ultimately, that is why the comparison to wall street is appropriate: people who were too “stupid” to understand why loaning money to people who likely could not pay it back were told to shut up and trust the “experts” who had figured out a way to manage the risks.

    The same this is happing with climate science. People like you and tamino think you can dimiss legimate criticism with appeals to the authority and broad claims like “the IPCC cannot possibly be wrong” despite the long history failure among other groups of “experts”

    As for your silly comment about auditing: just because something is not fool proof does not mean it is without merit. If anything, the fiasco with wall street re-enforces the need to true indepedent auditing of cliams being used to justify massive public spending.

    Frankly, the fact that climate scientists resist the idea of an audit so vigorously is one of the reason why they desperately need one. If they had nothing to hide they would have nothing to fear and everything to gain from the validation that a properly independent audit would provide.

  • Raven // February 7, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Sorry for the last comment.

    My browser did not show the second response for some reason until after I posted. Probably a caching problem.

  • dhogaza // February 8, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Climate science is 10% and 90% opinion disguised with statistics. There no scientific facts or proofs in this field. That is why AGW types buut such an emphasis on appeals to authority.

    Blah blah blah.

    OK, Raven has just shown he couldn’t pass a middle school basic science class.

    He’s not worth our time. He’s not the target audience.

    Raven - your post is insulting to all scientists, not just climate scientists.

  • P. Lewis // February 8, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Climate science is 10% and 90% opinion disguised with statistics. There no scientific facts or proofs in this field. That is why AGW types [p]ut such an emphasis on appeals to authority.

    Ignorance in spades!

    The first and second sentences are truly pathetic, contemptible and can easily be dismissed by looking at the body of scientific work in the area over 100 or so years. You only need to read Spencer Weart’s tome to get a flavour of it.

    The third sentence shows the uncritical, unthinking behaviour typical of many of the copy/paste-type “sceptics’” arguments.

    An appeal to authority is not necessarily the fallacious argument you seem to think it is. See Legitimate appeal to authority (you might like to read the previous and subsequent pages to that link too).

    Indeed, much of what you seem to be dismissing as an appeal to authority is not even appealing to authority, because reference is being made to the body of work of the authority, not the authority per se.

    Essentially it is a fallacious appeal to authority if some or all of the following are true:

    * when there is simply no consensus;
    * when the “authority” being appealed to is not an expert in the field;
    * when the “authority” being appealed to is anonymous and you can’t check credentials;
    * when the “authority” being appealed to is biased (e.g. the well-documented obfuscation and lying perpetrated by so-called experts working in the past for the asbestos and tobacco industries).

    This is evidently not the case here.

    There is scientific consensus on the main point (which all those who hold the consensus position will acknowledge can be changed on presentation of sufficient evidence to the contrary). The authorities being appealed to are experts in their field, with large bodies of work: they are recognised by their peers (i.e. not self-appointed) and their credentials are generally easily determined if not already known. And there is no bias detectable in the authorities being appealed to on the main point.

  • JCH // February 8, 2009 at 1:59 am

    The people who built 5.5 million nice houses in 8 years for people who lacked the capacity to pay for them are, in general, the same people who deny AGW: George Bush, Karl Rove, Alan Greenspan, etc.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 8, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Raven, OK. Let us review. Climate science is over 150 years old. The role of CO2 has been known for at least a century of that time. The theory explains a vast amount of paleoclimate data as well as the trends we see in the climate now. The science has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb, not just by thousands of climate scientists–all of whom could become famous and probably rich by overturning the consensus model–but also by physicists, chemists, statisticians, mathematicians, a veritable alphabet soup of scientific professional and honorific societies. Not one organization dissents from the consensus model. Not one.
    So, when YOU do not understand the science, you conclude that it must all be garbage. What an interesting interpretation.
    Now the really amazing thing to me is that to announce your earth-shattering discovery, you choose a venue full of people (myself included) who have actually made the effort to go through the science and understand it. Does this maybe explain why we’re all a little underwhelmed with your analytic capabilities and judgment?

  • vibenna // February 8, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Tamino: I followed through on my analysis allowing for the PDO, and yes in fact I did get the same results as the IPCC trend estimate. You were right, and I retract my statement about possible overestimation. Also, in response in the PDO effects, see below.

    Dhogza said:”Malcom, in your mind, how could the PDO be driving warming? What would’ve changed 50 years ago to cause this? … Gives us a clear, physical explanation for the mechanism you believe drives this.”

    I don’t think it is driving warming, but rather I suspect is ameliorating the trend, perhaps by affecting the severity of ENSO events. However, my key argument is empirical rather than theoretical. I’ve written this up in detail on a blog I use for half-baked ideas,

    First, I explain why I became a sceptic and sceptical views I had developed here.

    Then I go into detail on my PDO hypothesis here. As a result of my analysis, I have recanted my scepticism.

    The key thing that persauded me is that I realized that warming, rather than being continuous with random wobble, is stepped with random wobble. Even if my PDO hypothesis is wrong, once I realized that AGW was probably stepped, and there was a theoretical justification for this, I could make sense of the contradictory data I had been seeing.

    The worrying thing is that, if I am right, when we flip back into warming, it will occur at double the ‘average’ rate, for a while anyway. Comments on all of this are, of course, more than welcome.

  • vibenna // February 8, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Cripes, wrong login again. Sorry, thats a reply from malcolm.

  • michel // February 8, 2009 at 11:24 am

    The question it would be interesting to have thoughts on is how much we would have to reduce world GDP by, to reduce the CO2 levels back to 300ppm, say in the next ten or twenty years?

    Roger Pielke has an interesting chart here

    which might be the basis for some back of the envelope calculations. But this seems to be the really critical public policy question, no?

    We can argue for ever about whether its warming, how much, what a given article does or does not prove, but in the end, what it comes down to is what we are going to do or not do about CO2 in the atmosphere, surely?

    [Response: The reason we argue forever about whether it has warmed and whether it's due to human activity is that people whose real motive is to avoid doing anything about it, have adopted the tactic of disputing the science. Rather than just admit they value GDP more than environmental stability, they deny the reality of climate destabilization.

    That's fundamentally dishonest. Which is one of the reasons I don't trust their estimates of the effect of mitigation on the global economy.]

  • Sekerob // February 8, 2009 at 11:36 am

    A poor articulator would have caused other to hear about Maddof’s “Ponze” scheme and mistaken it for Pons and made the link to buddy Fleischmann. How quickly did they get debunked, dissected and put to the stake within the scientific community, and rightfully so?

  • michel // February 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I think Raven is making a much more commonsense point than some of you allow. Public policy decisions based on science are often very high payoff. They often involve large scale investments or social change. There is such a thing as confirmation bias. Those doing the studies do adopt a point of view on what the correct action is. They can be wrong, and they can be influenced by unconscious bias. For instance, probably they were wrong about nuclear risk, they may have been wrong about CHD and cholesterol, they were wrong in the autism-vaccination scare, they were wrong about the impact of derivatives and the efficient market.

    Of course, they are often right.

    But her point is, you cannot trust authority, because the costs of errors are huge, and the appeal to authority is even more risky when there is a close coupling between those doing the research and those advocating specific policies. Often also we get an uncomfortable slide from being convinced of the policy to not wanting to hear any questioning of the evidence.

    Its not about trusting the IPCC or anyone else. Its about verification and close scrutiny of the relation between proposed remedies and the problem.

    [Response: Your disconnect from reality is astounding.

    "Probably" wrong about nuclear risk, "may have" been wrong about CHD and cholesterol ... the autism-vaccination scare ... impact of derivatives and the efficient market? These have nothing at all to do with the science of climate change, you're just raising every boogey-man you can think of to undermine solid science that's been developed over 100 years.

    You don't want to admit that your real motive for avoiding action on global warming is personal greed. You'd rather dispute solid science than own up to the truth, and to do that you'll raise the spectre of anything that you think will scare people, from economic collapse to market derivatives to ... what next? If we reduce greenhouse gases it'll lead to an increase of child about by drug addicts disguised as nuns?

    You'll create endless fantasies to inflate the cost of action, but you don't care about the cost of inaction because you expect somebody *else* will have to pay that.]

  • michel // February 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    There is another very suggestive post about how to reduce emissions enough to reduce temps at this link. Very sobering reading.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Michel, I don’t think it is possible to estimate impact to GDP at this point. For one thing, we would have to prejudge the solution, and that is usually unwise. For another, much of what will be needed would have to be done anyway as we inevitably move away from a hydrocarbon-based economy. However, the most important issue in my mind is that much of what will be needed is actually a boon to the economy. Conservation actually saves money. Scientific discovery and technological innovation generate real growth, and always find application outside their original sphere. Then there are intangibles: If we could produce all of our own energy within our borders, would we have a balance of payments problem? Would we have to spend more than half a trillion on defense?
    All of these factors are ignored by Pielke, Lomborg and the other apologists for complacency. I think it is quite conceivable that long term, a concentrated effort to address these problems would be a boon rather than a burden to the economy.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Raven writes:

    Climate science is 10% and 90% opinion disguised with statistics. There no scientific facts or proofs in this field.

    There are plenty of scientific facts in climate science. The poles are colder than the equator. This is due to the Earth’s axial tilt. The troposphere is 80% of the mass of Earth’s atmosphere. There were several ice ages in the last 3 million years. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

    You’re right that there are no proofs in this field. There are no proofs in any scientific field. Science doesn’t deal with proof; for that you want formal logic or mathematics. Science can’t prove things; it can only disprove things. But when people have tried to disprove something (evolution, anthropogenic global warming) for over a century and have repeatedly failed, it becomes perverse to withhold at least provisional assent.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    michel writes:

    The question it would be interesting to have thoughts on is how much we would have to reduce world GDP by, to reduce the CO2 levels back to 300ppm, say in the next ten or twenty years?

    Can’t be done.

    We will need to reduce CO2 by some means eventually, but there’s no reason whatsoever to think that doing so will cut world GDP. Why would it?

  • dhogaza // February 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Michel, I don’t think it is possible to estimate impact to GDP at this point.

    And then there’s history …

    Supposedly, catalytic converters would destroy the auto industry (which somehow avoided earlier claims that mandatory seatbelts would destroy the auto industry).

    Tackling acid rain would destroy the economy because the cost of power generation would rise to obscene heights.

    Phasing out CFCs would destroy the economy because there were no alternatives, plus a lot of people would die because Halon would become replaced by CO2 in computer room fire supression systems (my personal introduction to denialist bullshit).

    On and on.

    At some point one has to question denialist fear-mongering regarding economic costs.

  • Hank Roberts // February 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    GDP includes in its total all the crap manufactured and thrown away as junk; all the work to clean up after floods and tailings spills and all the rebuilding. Reduce _that_.

  • luminous beauty // February 8, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Just watched Jeffrey Sachs take on Bjorn Lomberg on CNN over this bit of stupidity/cupidity. Ate his lunch!

    GDP is all the money that everybody spends everywhere on everything.

    As the pres said recently, spending is stimulus. Really! It’s not that hard to understand.

  • thingsbreak // February 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    “Just watched Jeffrey Sachs take on Bjorn Lomberg on CNN over this bit of stupidity/cupidity. Ate his lunch!”

    I was going out the door when I heard Fareed mention climate. I waited to see who the two “experts” he mentioned were and nearly turned it off in disgust when I saw Lomborg.

    I listened to his tired spiel and then was pleasantly surprised by Sach’s snarky intro! I hit record and left, so I am looking forward to see how it all turned out. If it was as good as you make it sound I will try to get the video of it up.

    [Response: If you can post the video, please notify us and provide a link.]

  • Sekerob // February 8, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Once watched a video of Dr. Myles Allan of the Climate Prediction grid project (CPDN) and Lomborg beating it out (first Lomborg and then Allan from about minute 11 into the vid). The guy is completely fill in the blanks and throws trillions around in standard Contra-FUD mode.

    The news hit today that northern China has dramatic shortage of potable water. 4.4 million people are affected. Land is parching.

  • michel // February 9, 2009 at 8:52 am

    “You don’t want to admit that your real motive for avoiding action on global warming is personal greed.”

    No, I don’t, because (a) I am not personally greedy, I have very moderate and rather ecologically based tastes and lifestyle (b) I do not want to avoid action on GW. Why would I go around ‘admitting’ a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with me? I don’t make ridiculous and uninformed conjectures about you guys, stop doing it about me!

    Now, on the substantive point, if you read the Worldwatch piece carefully, it is proposing (fig 2-1) to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in pretty much a straight line to 1850 levels by 2050. And then to take them below 1850 levels.

    It is not “denialist fear mongering” to read this piece and wonder what effects this reduction would have on lifestyle and GDP. You’d have to be an idiot not to ask yourself that question! The piece proposes to go from about 9 billion tons to zero over about 40 years. That is cutting a bit over 2 billion tons a decade.

    There is no point getting all emotional about this. The interesting question is, someone serious in the environmental movement is seriously proposing this. As a matter of fact, what effects on GDP would it have, to cut carbon emissions by around 25 percent in the next 10 years? Could we, in practical political terms, even get the world’s population to do it? What exactly would we have to do? How many power stations? What changes to agriculture? To transport?

    Are you all saying, no effects on GDP? Don’t you think this is a proposition that reasonable people would ask for some evidence on?

    It must be possible to think about such things without being made the object of all these wild accusations. Surely, surely you see that these are interesting and important questions and entirely neutral about the AGW issue? Whether or not AGW is true, it makes no difference to what we would have to do to make these reductions and what it would cost.

    [Response: I agree that one should consider the effect on the economy of measures to reduce CO2 emissions. What seems to me to be disingenuous is that those who cry about the effect on GDP seem never to do anything like a realistic estimate of the effect of NOT reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    But when somebody does (e.g. the Stern report) they cry "foul" because the cost of not doing it -- in any terms, including economic -- is vastly greater than the cost of doing it.]

  • michel // February 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    luminous, no, its not as simple as ’spending is stimulus’. Wish it were, but it is not. It depends on what you spend, and what the circumstances are. The Japan experience is much more nuanced than that. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hinders. There is such a thing as malinvestment. Debt really matters. You need to look at the Japanese experience in detail, and there are lots of detailed lessons which cannot be summarized as ’spending is stimulus’.

    The same will be true of CO2 reduction programs. Some will be stimulus, others not. You have to look hard at what they are to evaluate them.

  • JCH // February 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Explain exactly how it hinders.

    The Japanese have a society that has a high percentage of elderly people, and a fairly low birthrate. The USA is not quite there yet - especially if you count illegal immigrants. With those factors dragging down Japanese GDP growth, it’s going to be very hard for them to post consistently vibrant GDP numbers. I think it’s surprising they done as well as they have.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Michel, a linear reduction schedule is simply not realistic. It cannot happen. More realistic would be a series of reductions as new technology is developed and deployed. Yes, it is bound to affect standards of living. However, not all of the effects need be or will be negative.

    One thing that I think is beyond dispute is that changes we make now (especially conservation) will go a whole helluva lot further toward buying time than changes in the future. Anyone who is concerned about quality of life for their progeny has to accept that.

  • luminous beauty // February 9, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    It depends on what you spend, and what the circumstances are.

    All spending is stimulus, but some stimuli are better than others. Paying to have holes dug and then refilled is a stimulus. War is a stimulus. Rebuilding the electrical and transportation infrastructure is a stimulus.

    Debt matters when one nation’s (Japan, f’rinstance) foreign exchange is harmed by loss of confidence in that nation’s currency. When the whole world is in the same boat … not so much.

    A Keynesian stimulus is not indicated for an over-heated economy with inflationary tendencies, it is true.

    That’s not the circumstance we find ourselves in, is it?

  • thingsbreak // February 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    RE: [Response: If you can post the video, please notify us and provide a link.]

    I didn’t have time to watch last night, but I read the transcript, and it looks like it deteriorated into Sachs and Lomborg talking over each other. Being familiar with Lomborg, it’s quite apparent that he’s trying very hard to prevent Sach’s from pinning him down, but I’m not sure that this would be apparent to someone unfamiliar with his backstory.

    In any event, it looks as though CNN will have the video up shortly.

  • michel // February 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    How it can hinder is pretty simple. Take the famous bridge. It was built at great expense to an offshore island where there already was a bridge to it. So you had a situation where debt was incurred (because the Japanese program was debt financed) to build something of no use to anyone, and generating no revenues. No-one uses it.

    This was worse than useless. It would have been better to do almost anything else with the money. For instance, give it to the people, and have them not build the bridge but just stay home. Like I say, there are many lessons from Japan. One of them is that not all spending is the same.

    It is not that “spending” does harm. It is that some kinds of spending is wasted, and wasting money makes things worse not better.

    Other stuff, they had a lot more success with. But they currently agree that one-off programs of this sort, to build public works of no use to anyone, were a mistake. But not all the programs were mistaken, and the concept is not mistaken, it just needs very careful execution.

    The other thing they did was to avoid writing off bad debt. This clogged up the balance sheets of the banks. If you couple this with more debt incurred partly building bridges to nowhere, it is not surprising they had a lost decade. Banks unable to lend to productive enterprises, and the state borrowing heavily for unproductive projects.

  • Neven // February 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Neven, if you have questions about the science: ASK! PLEASE! I am not an expert on everything presented by any means, but a lot of folks here are scientists and have looked into the issues in some detail. This stuff is important, and a curious mind is too valuable a resource to waste.”

    Thanks, Ray, but I don’t want to waste your time or anybody else’s. It’s mainly the comments below articles on pro- and anti-sites that have convinced me AGW is happening. I can’t grasp the science because I simply don’t have the brains for it (not ashamed of it either), being more of a linguist. Of course, if I’d put my mind to it I might get somewhere, but I need that time to get the way I live my life carbon neutral. I’m almost done reading Spencer Weart’s ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’ and I understand now why everyone recommends this book and Weart’s website to newbies. Wonderful book.

    I keep reading to stay up-to-date WRT the current climate situation and am more or less intrigued by the whole PR war going on. Intrigued especially by the incredible fact that there’s still a ’skeptic’ side of the (internet) debate or that the ’skeptic’ side hasn’t already switched to the debate about action on mitigation and adaptation.

    Finally, this site and many other sites are a great stimulus for me to think of sustainable solutions for myself as an individual (with a family) and perhaps even doing my bit in the (still too slow) transition towards a sustainable society.

    So, please keep debunking, keep explaining, but most of all, try to keep your patience as much as possible when doing this, as you’ll convince more people who are reading along sooner. All of you here are doing a great job. If a ’stupid’ man like me (who generally is very susceptible to conspiracy theories) can be convinced by the way you write, a lot of others will be too. Vibenna is a great recent example.

  • dhogaza // February 9, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    It is not “denialist fear mongering” to read this piece and wonder what effects this reduction would have on lifestyle and GDP. You’d have to be an idiot not to ask yourself that question!

    Wondering what effects this would have on lifestyle and GDP is not “denialist fear mongering”.

    However, you asked “how much REDUCTION in GDP would result”. You a priori assumed a negative economic outcome.

    That’s why people jumped your posterior.

    Quit whining while simultaneously claiming you said something very different than you actually said.

  • dhogaza // February 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Here’s your exact quote, Michel:

    The question it would be interesting to have thoughts on is how much we would have to reduce world GDP by, to reduce the CO2 levels back to 300ppm, say in the next ten or twenty years?

  • bluegrue // February 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for the heads-up, thingsbreak. The video is up by now.

  • Hank Roberts // February 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    > GDP
    GDP includes spending for junk that goes into landfills. Look for a measure of longterm repairable useful products that increase energy efficiency, stimulate those.

    I was astonished (shocked, shocked) to see the current draft of the US government’s “stimulus” rules out paying for adding insulation to homes currently heated by natural gas. Stupid, stupid.
    It’s one of the highest payback uses of money (along with solar hot water boosting) for increasing the efficiency of energy use, and it’s a no-tears change because it will be useful as long as the building is in use, reduces summertime heat, can be done with recycled cotton fiber instead of 10x-as-expensive fiberglass, improves fireproofing, and can be installed by unskilled labor given intelligent design and direction.


  • thingsbreak // February 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Link to CNN video.

    I haven’t been able to get it embedded in WordPress, but I haven’t played around with it that much.

    Sachs tries to make the point- but doesn’t do so clearly enough IMO to get across to an audience unfamiliar with Lomborg’s arguments- that Obama has effectively rendered Lomborg’s false choice (forceful GHG regulation or billions on clean tech R&D) moot because he has already met and should exceed the numbers for R&D suggested by Lomborg’s “Copenhagen Consensus”.

    If Lomborg was honest, he would have simply said, “Great, you’ve met my target number. Anything Obama chooses to do beyond that is fine by me.” But of course then he could no longer be touted as a poster boy for those seeking a minimal or non-existent price on emissions.

    All in all, I’d say for someone who has the backstory it was pretty obvious what he was doing, but I’d love to hear what someone unfamiliar with Lomborg takes away from the exchange.

  • JCH // February 9, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    “How it can hinder is pretty simple. Take the famous bridge. It was built at great expense to an offshore island where there already was a bridge to it. So you had a situation where debt was incurred (because the Japanese program was debt financed) to build something of no use to anyone, and generating no revenues. No-one uses it. …”

    While perhaps not ideal, that still stimulated the economy. Vendors sold materials and services for cash. Workers got paychecks. Landowners were paid cash for the necessary land. All those people went out into the marketplace and rattled some cages with the cash they got from the construction of the bridge. The people who owned those cages in turn rattled some other cages. Mortgage/loan payments were made. Groceries were purchased. Companies retired some debt. Banks got new deposits and made some new loans, and with those new jobs were created.

    Paying people to do nothing at all stimulates the economy. American corporations have been doing tons of that forever. The system would be not work if it weren’t true. I would imagine the portion of salaries paid to Japanese employees for time they spend on Facebook would build more than one more bridge.

  • Neven // February 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I’d say: Thank You For Smoking, Bjorn Lomborg! He never reminded me as much of the main character of that movie as he did in this CNN video.

  • Dave A // February 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm


    I think you will find that Stern and his team’s analysis has been criticised in many quarters, not least by Prof Richard Tol an acknowledged expert in environmental economics

    [Response: Yeah we know it's been criticized. Mainly by those who just don't want to face the result.]

  • Hank Roberts // February 10, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Safire in today’s NYT — the column starts with this (see the newspaper for full text of course)

    February 8, 2009
    On Language
    Fat Tail

    If you want to make an impression at a board meeting or a Congressional hearing these bearish days, make a harrumphing noise and employ the figure of speech now sweeping the economic world: “But what about the fat tail?”

    This is another way of asking “How come all you geniuses didn’t realize the risk you were running?” Embarrassed witnesses and recently fired C.E.O.’s explain that the distribution of values and risks long beloved by managers, credit-rating agencies and securities analysts turned out to be not so normal after all.

    To comprehend what fat tail is in today’s media wringer, think of a bell curve, the line on a statistician’s chart that reflects “normal distribution.” It is tall and wide in the middle — where most people and things being studied almost always tend to be — and drops and flattens out at the bottom, where fewer are, making a shape on a graph resembling a bell. The extremities at the bottom left and right are called the tails; when they balloon instead of nearly vanishing as expected, the tails have been designated “heavy” and, more recently, the more pejorative “fat.” To a credit-agency statistician now living in a world of chagrin, the alliterative definition of a fat tail is “an abnormal agglomeration of angst.” …

  • Philippe Chantreau // February 10, 2009 at 5:56 am

    “If Lomborg was honest”
    Almost like saying “if Watts was a real skeptic”

  • michel // February 10, 2009 at 6:32 am


    I do think it most probable, almost certain in fact, that carbon reductions on the scale and in the time envisaged by the Worldwatch chapter will only be possible given reductions in GDP. How substantial and of what sort is what should interest us.

    Anyone who thinks we can reduce by those levels over a 40 year period without that, and without large scale lifestyle changes, is simply in denial. We are talking in that chapter of reducing energy based emissions to the levels of 1850, and then below that.

    This does not mean we should not do it however.

    For some crazed reason, it seems that on this site, to mention what environmentalists say needs to be done, to wonder how it would be done, and what the consequences of doing it might be, is construed as arguing against doing it. Wake up for goodness’ sake: they are quite different. The nearest equivalent one can think of is when people argued for the US entering WWII against the Nazis. Anyone who said, OK, that means we will need enough weapons and ships to move our forces to Europe would have been met with cries of ‘Coward! Pacifist!’.

    Can none of you think straight???

    Hank Roberts is quite right to point out that GDP covers a multitude of sins. I strongly believe that we could rejig transportation and our manner of urban and suburban living to be less energy intensive and actually improve quality of life. Killing thousands of people a year on the roads contributes to GDP but it is both a crime and a disbenefit. Mechanized and chemicalized agriculture has advantages in productivity, but it has wrecked the soil, the environment and damaged the quality of nutrition. A world in which we cooked more and drove to a drive in burger stand to eat its products would not per se have lower quality of life.

    But I suppose this is some sort of complicated denialist heresy also, according to you lot?

    [Response: For some crazed reason, it seems that all those who complain about the cost of emissions reduction refuse to face the fact that NOT doing it will cost a whole helluva lot more. When given a realistic analysis of that cost -- say, by a former chief economist for the world bank -- they poo-poo the evidence and point to a lame denial of same.

    Yes, we know that emissions reduction will cost. We are not in denial of that -- you're in denial of the fact that not doing so will also cost. More.]

  • michel // February 10, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “you’re in denial of the fact that not doing so will also cost. More.”

    Where have I denied that? It would be wrong of me (or anyone else) to deny it, since I do not know what the costs of doing it would be, and that’s what I’m inviting discussion about.

    Pielke Jr has made an interesting contribution to the discussion in his account of the UK Climate Change Act. It can be found here

    Basically, the Act commits the UK to levels of emission 80% below those of 1990 by 2050. This is a really impressive target. Pielke doesn’t even consider what would have to happen, for instance, to UK agriculture and transport to make this happen, but reasons on general grounds that it will not happen - no country has ever yet reached the rate of decarbonization required. He suggests going about it a different way, adopting measures and then quantifying what they would do. Whatever you think of this, the numbers he gives on comparative decarb by various countries over time are very thought provoking.

    I want to be perfectly clear: I am not opposing decarbonization, in many ways I believe it would improve the world enormously, quite apart from its effects on climate. But I am seriously interested in what would be involved and how exactly we would do it, and at what cost. For instance, it seems likely that in the UK, they’d have to totally change their agriculture and food production model. This would be a good thing, but it will be a huge change, and it will take really large program management and national commitment. This is going to be generally true of all the elements needed to comply with the Act.

    [Response: I'll be perfectly clear too. You brought up the subject of the cost of emissions reduction without even mentioning the cost of not reducing; you talk as though they didn't exist. You didn't explicity deny it -- but just listening to you, one would get the impression that emissions reductions are all cost and no benefit. And when I gave a very reliable reference indicating that the cost of not reducing is vastly greater than the cost of reduction you did indeed "poo-poo" it with a lame reference. And now you want to reference Pielke! It's like browbeating your wife with all her faults, then when she protests by extolling her virtues you whimper "I never said you didn't have any good qualities!"

    Guess what: when you only talk about the downside and ignore the vastly greater upside, it gives a false impression of what the truth is. I get the impression that was your intention all along.]

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    michel writes:

    As a matter of fact, what effects on GDP would it have, to cut carbon emissions by around 25 percent in the next 10 years?

    Slight increase, I’d guess. By replacing polluting energy sources with non-polluting ones, environmental damage will be reduced and GDP will be a bit healthier, not to mention all the jobs created because renewables are more labor-intensive than fossil and nuclear.

  • Hank Roberts // February 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Barton, as I understand the use of the GDP number, environmental and health damage both will increase GDP, because people have to spend money to buy products and services to deal with the damage. (More water filters, more eye drops, more asthma medicine, and so on.)

    It’s the same kind of argument as the one saying people were borrowing and spending too much, so there was too much money, the financial system was “awash in money” so the banks had to create mystery meat products to bundle it up, so the banks that got stuck with bad bundles don’t trust one another now, so they won’t extend credit, so people quit spending money, which starves the financial system …. none of which measures actual production of useful stuff. GDP is a churn rate not a build rate.
    Or something. Just saying, beware of using that measure to mean something good happens. It measures stuff turning over, not good being produced.

  • emretsson // February 11, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Swedish skeptics are talking about this study: C. de Jager and S. Duhau: Episodes of relative global warming, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, vol. 71 (2009) 194 – 198.

    Can be downloaded

    It would be interesting to hear what you guys think.

  • Former Skeptic // February 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm


    Right. Base the derivation of eqn 1 from data up til 1960 and then, in section 3, decide to extrapolate eqn 1 with additional T data until 2005 with no physical justification and with a little bit of Obi-Wan Kenobi hand waving. And then, claim that this present episode of GW is no different from previous episodes in the past. And further, no mention of increased CO2 and other GHG inputs into the atmosphere post 1960? In short, I smell a fish here.

    I like the placement of several ambiguous statements in the final 2 paragraphs - “we reserve such speculations for another paper…such a study is presently underway with colleagues.” Sounds like they may submit the follow up shortly to Energy and Environment…

  • ffrancis // February 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Hank, exactly right, I think. Using GDP as a measure of economic health may be like using total value of food, drink and drugs consumed as a measure of personal health.

  • Ian Forrester // February 11, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    emretson, a denier on another blog I frequent brought this paper up to back up his claim that it was the sun and not CO2 that was controlling the earth’s temperature.

    There well may be a number of cycles going on in the sun’s interior and surface. However, what these people cannot show is the link between that activity and earth’s temperature (causality). TSI has been pretty stable for the past 50 or so years while temperatures have increased steadily.

    Deniers always cite the “correlation with out causality” mantra when they talk about CO2 increasing temperature. This, of course, is easily disproved since the physics of CO2 greenhouse effect was measured and found experimentally over 100 years ago. Why do they not raise this mantra when talking about solar effects?

  • Hank Roberts // February 11, 2009 at 9:42 pm

  • emretsson // February 12, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Former Skeptic and Ian Forrester,

    Thanks. Similar points came up in the discussion on the denier blog that posted this. I just wonder how the paper made it through peer review.

  • Gavin's Pussycat // February 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm


    explaining all that is wrong with this paper would be cruelty to animals. I would say just keep reading this blog, look up the back posts (there are several of relevance, on autocorrelation and statistical testing) and enjoy the ride!

  • mauri pelto // February 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    An area that has been under reported to date is the change in snowpack/precipitation ratio. In the Pacific Northwest April 1 snowpack decline markedly for the 1950-1998 period. However, since 1998 the wet climate has offset this trend. The striking change I find is the amount of precip required to generate the same level of snowpack. Take a look at figures 3-5 on this web page which show that the trend is not restricted by time period or station in the North Cascades. This tendency has been noted in publications by three different groups of researchers, including myself. If you are interested Tamino I would welcome your analysis of these trends and would make the data available.

    [Response: Yes, I'm interested.]

  • Hank Roberts // February 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Mauri, do you know of any comparable studies on the Olympic Peninsula glaciers?

  • michel // February 13, 2009 at 8:01 am

    It is true that GDP measures all kinds of stuff that do not contribute - or actively subtract from quality of life. Maybe it would be better to talk in terms of key activities that would have to change, and how they would have to change.

    I cannot see, but maybe others can, any way in which we would get through even the first two decades of the Worldwatch proposal while still having automobiles as an important transportation method, having the present proportions of the population living in the suburbs, and having our present energy intensive food production methods. I don’t see how you get back to 1850 levels by 2050 without totally abolishing cars, suburbs, airline industry, and chemical agriculture.

    Much of this, particularly the abolition of the automobile and the reversion to sane agricultural practices, would increase quality of life. But whether you measure it by GDP or activities, it is still a colossal program.

    Pielke is on the enemies list for this site, one realizes that. However the central contention of his paper is correct. The UK Climate Act will not actually achieve its targets. No serious efforts are underway to make the kind of progress that is needed. The government has no intention of starting any. Ministers are simply passing the Act and then hoping everyone will forget it. And if they were to announce and start such a program, you can be absolutely sure that it would mean electoral oblivion in 2010.

    What they are doing meanwhile is building huge stadiums for the Olympics, and extra runways for Heathrow. In the summer, as the price of heating oil rose, what everyone in the countryside was doing was to install wood and coal burning stoves. Talk to installers, demand was huge. Government reaction? None. Go figure!

  • Ray Ladbury // February 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Michel, What is important now is overcoming the inertia that has prevented us from doing anything about the problem for the past 20 years. It is a mistake to prejudge the outcome before we’ve taken any concrete steps in the right direction. Take the steps. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Start buying time. There really isn’t a choice in this matter–unless you consider allowing human civilization to fail a choice.

  • TCOis banned...why? // February 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    It’s actually possible to disconnect the two issues of recognizing temp rise physics from advocating corrective fixes. One is a policy debate, one is a science debate. I suspect 90% of denialists of dislike for AGW conventional theory because of dislike for the likely policy fixes. I suspect 70% of AGWers of love for AGW because of previous positions for leftism.

    I am a mega conservative. A Goldwater type. All that said…the molecules don’t care if Obama is president or Palin. They just absorb via vibrational modes and emit via similar modes (I guess there is some rotational coupling and collisions). And the rest of the air and water and all that just follows the laws of physics and chemistry. So…we should all try to be curious scientists over advocates.

  • Hank Roberts // February 13, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Here’s the caution against taking crop residue out of agriculture to use for ethanol:

    “… that might not be such a good idea for farmers growing crops without irrigation in regions receiving less than 25 inches of precipitation annually, says Ann Kennedy, a USDA-Agricultural Research Service soil scientist and adjunct professor of crop and soil sciences at Washington State University.

    “With cultivation, organic matter tends to decline in most places around the world,” she said. “In the more than 100 years that we have been cultivating soils in the Palouse,”—the wheat growing region of Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and Northeast Oregon—“we have lost about half of the original organic matter.”

    Ideally, according to Kennedy, soils in the Palouse should have about 3.5 percent organic content. In most farm fields, she said, it is now closer to 2 percent.

    She said organic matter provides nutrients crops need, helps the soil hold water and contributes to the formation of soil clods that help prevent wind erosion. The percentage of organic matter in a given soil varies naturally from region to region, depending on climate, soil disturbance, moisture and vegetation. Generally speaking, more moisture leads to more vegetation, which is the feedstock for the microbes that break down residue into organic matter.

    “A lot of people think residue is part of organic matter,” Kennedy said, “but that is not correct. Organic matter is well-decomposed plant material and microbes. It is black and rich and gives soil its dark color.”

    Kennedy, who researches the composition of cereal crop residues and the amount of residue needed to maintain soil quality, said that the tillage system used to prepare the soil for planting has a big effect on the conversion of residue to soil organic matter. In no-till (direct seed) or one-pass tillage systems, she said, at least a ton of residue per acre per year is needed to build soil organic matter over time. In these minimum tillage systems, the intact and slowly decomposing roots also add to organic matter. She found that the percentage of organic matter in no-till research plots at the Palouse Conservation Field Station increased from 1.9 percent to 3.6 percent over the course of 20 years. …”

  • dhogaza // February 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I suspect 70% of AGWers of love for AGW because of previous positions for leftism.

    And I suspect that you’re a fool for believing so.

    I am a mega conservative. A Goldwater type.

    Do you agree with Goldwater’s conversion late in life to some fairly conventional “liberal” positions regarding conservation?

    After retiring from the Senate, he said that the thing he most regretted about his Senate career was his successful efforts in support of the building of Glen Canyon dam, after all …

    Said he was wrong. Environmentalists, right.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    TCO, OK. I don’t know about you, but when I was a student, they taught that as a scientist, you go with the evidence, and you go with the theory that best (e.g. most completely and economically) explains it. If you adopt that criterion, I don’t see how you can reject the consensus theory of Earth’s climate. And if you accept that theory, anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch is an unavoidable consequence. That has nothing to do with politics. Hell, anybody that is wishing this one to be so is an idiot. This is science, pure and simple.

  • luminous beauty // February 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm


    I hope you find this interesting:


    Don’t watch this video.

  • Hank Roberts // February 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Good post here:

    “… This tactic - using the wrong measure - is incredibly widespread, because it’s incredibly effective. It’s easy to use to deceive people, because most people won’t pay attention to the exact definition used in the statistic - they’ll focus on the number. And if someone objects that the statistic is wrong, it’s easy to twist the argument into a debate about the number, rather than about the meaning - which, in turn, makes it look to people observing the argument, like there’s a legitimate debate.

    The lesson here should be clear. Always, always make sure that you understand exactly what a statistic really measures. When someone makes an argument based on statistics, make sure that the statistics they cite really do measure what the arguer claims they measure….”

  • michel // February 14, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Ray, ‘low hanging fruit’ is just a nonsense when you are talking about the need to get below 1850 levels of CO2 emission in 40 years. Low hanging fruit, efficiencies, insulating our houses and businesses better, smaller cars, all that gets you down at the rate we are going now - and you can see what that is from Pielke’s article. The valuable thing about that article is that it shows that business as usual is in fact lowering CO2 per unit of GDP. But GDP is rising, and its not producing an absolute fall. Now while I agree about the failings of GDP as an indicator of quality of life, it remains true that it does measure economic activity in a crude way, and so to produce absolute reductions on the scale said to be required, with the reductions in GDP that will require, is a huge enterprise. Even if it does not impair quality of life, if done right.

    If this really is an emergency on the level that Worldwatch says, and that you are saying when you remark that it is this or “allowing human civilization to fail”, then what is going to be needed is:

    1) abolition of the automobile
    2) return to non-chemical agriculture
    3) abolition of the suburbs
    4) abolition of the airline industry

    And that is going to have to happen in the next 10-20 years. What we do after that, Heaven knows. Maybe we have to somehow totally rebuild all our buildings to make them energy efficient, but without blowing the budget while doing it? I am not sure that the second two decades reductions are even possible given current population levels. But anything short of the above for the next two decades is not going to do it at the level Worldwatch says is necessary.

    [Response: I don't know whether you're just echoing the "back to the stone age" argument, or whether you really believe it.

    We don't have to abolish the automobile. We just have to make it electric and get the electricity from a renewable source. Or keep it internal-combustion but get the fuel from a renewable source. In fact we don't have to do any of the things you suggest -- we just have to get carbon-neutral. You are the one who is scare-mongering.

    So ponder this: if we don't get carbon-neutral we might have to abolish food.]

  • Ray Ladbury // February 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    You are prejudging the outcome with a vision completely devoid of technological innovation. I 100% agree that all the things you mention–as they are now–are incompatible with a carbon neutral economy. They are perfectly compatible with an economy that relies on renewable energy sources.
    The low-hanging fruit is relevant because it buys us time, it actually improves the efficiency of the economy, and it gets people MOTIVATED. I have to say, that I am less than sympathetic to arguments by Pielke that say we don’t have time to address climate, when it is Pielke and his fellow apologists for complacency that have lost us 2 decades of time for dealing with the crisis.

  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Handy service: PNAS cite track. Posting just one recent email from them as a recommendation:

    Your Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences CiteTrack Alert has
    found 7 articles citing the article you selected. Below are results 1 to 7.

    To edit your subscriptions for this service, go to


    The past is a guide to the future? Comparing Middle Pliocene vegetation with predicted biome distributions for the twenty-first century
    Salzmann, U, Haywood, A.M, Lunt, D.J
    Phil Trans R Soc A 2009 367: p. 189-204

    Mid-Pliocene equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature reconstruction: a multi-proxy perspective
    Dowsett, H. J, Robinson, M. M
    Phil Trans R Soc A 2009 367: p. 109-125

    Surface temperatures of the Mid-Pliocene North Atlantic Ocean: implications for future climate
    Dowsett, H. J, Chandler, M. A, Robinson, M. M
    Phil Trans R Soc A 2009 367: p. 69-84

    Facing future climate change: is the past relevant?
    Skinner, L.
    Phil Trans R Soc A 2008 366: p. 4627-4645

    Ensemble climate predictions using climate models and observational constraints
    Stott, P. A, Forest, C. E
    Phil Trans R Soc A 2007 365: p. 2029-2052

    Observed change of the standardized precipitation index, its potential cause and implications to future climate change in the Amazon region
    Li, W., Fu, R., Juarez, R. I. N., Fernandes, K.
    Phil Trans R Soc B 2008 363: p. 1767-1772

    Interactions among Amazon land use, forests and climate: prospects for a near-term forest tipping point
    Nepstad, D. C, Stickler, C. M, Filho, B. S., Merry, F.
    Phil Trans R Soc B 2008 363: p. 1737-1746


    Alert Criteria — Articles citing:

    Global temperature change
    Hansen, J., Sato, M., Ruedy, R., Lo, K., Lea, D. W., Medina-Elizade, M.
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2006 0: p. 0606291103-

  • michel // February 15, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Ray and Tamino, this is what I do not believe in the absence of evidence, which means a quantified program. What it would take to convince is some kind of outline plan with five year milestones. It is a 40 year period and the Worldwatch recommendations call for consumption to fall from about 8 billion tons to zero in a straight line.

    If this is so obviously possible to do while making minimal lifestyle changes, then just write down what has to happen by 2015, 2020, 2025…. and so on.

    Electric cars can obviously make some difference. OK, how many cars need to be electric and by when? Insulation of homes can make a large difference. How many, to what standard, and by when? Agriculture and food production is a huge energy consumer. Fine, how soon do we move large farms to compost fertilization and crop rotation? Or if not that, what? Needs to be expressed as percent of acreage.

    Another huge part of it, which the BBC recently pointed out on its site, is that India and China will have to ramp down their emissions. If we are as a planet going to get back to 1850 levels, the program has to say in outline form what sort of society they would have. What would they have to do? All those Chines coal fired power plants, what happens to them, and by when?

    In raising these questions one one is not objecting to doing any of these things, or saying they cannot be done, one is simply saying that they are required topics to be addressed. Without addressing them, you don’t have a program, and in 10 years time the AGW movement will consist of blogs like this, lamenting the inexorable upward progress of atmospheric CO2.

    When Ray expresses the view that somehow technological innovation is going to get us out of this, the reply is, show me. That is pure Micawberism. Something will turn up if we all keep shouting it will. What is plan B, in case it doesn’t, or comes up more slowly than we hope?

    You cannot do what you have not described. That is the problem, focussing on shouting about the problem, not on describing and planning countermeasures.

    [Response: The greatest obstacle to success is not the need for technical innovation, or to overhaul the grid, or the need for cooperation from China and India ... it's the folks who insist that it can't be done. Like you.

    So get out of the way.]

  • michel // February 15, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I do not insist or even believe it cannot be done! This is a totally baseless accusation!

    I do however believe that nothing can be done if we do not know what it is we are to do. So lets get specific on one point.

    There are 62 million registered vehicles in the US, of which about 20 million are trucks of various sorts.

    How many cars and trucks by year do we need to replace by electric ones, and how are we going to go about it? That is the sort of question I want to see answered.

    I do believe something along those lines can be done, and that our quality of life would improve enormously were it to be. I would probably think that reducing total numbers of vehicles, relocating traffic to trains for instance, is more important than you would, and that conversion is less important. But whatever, lets get started on both converting and reducing, and make a dent in the changeover in the next ten years. You can sign me up for that. How is this being ‘in the way’?

  • Ray Ladbury // February 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Michel, You misunderstand me. I do not say that technology WILL save us. I say that it is pretty much our only hope. We have squandered 20 years during which we could have been working toward a solution–but more important, during which we could have been conserving and buying time to FIND a solution.

    We do not know what a solution will look like or even if a solution exists. This means that it is a mistake to prejudge the solution. It is even more of a mistake to give up, as civilization will end that day.
    The fact that we don’t know every step of the way does not mean we shouldn’t take the first step. We know what we have to do now.
    1)Conserve energy as aggressively as we can
    2)Promote as aggressively as possible the the use of alternative energy (renewables and if absolutely necessary, nuclear)
    3)Shoot R&D money with a firehose toward energy, transport and other challenges.
    4)Plug as many of the holes in climate models as we can through sattelites and other research tools.
    5)Research mitigation and geoengineering solutions.

    In addition to the above, we’ve learned that it is easier–both politically and technically–to build an infrastructure than to replace an existing one. This suggests that a fruitful path would be to supply serious assistance to developing countries–including China, India, and Brazil–to implement a green energy infrastructure. This would slow somewhat the speed with which we would need to replace our own energy infrastructure.

    Now, note, Michel, that most of this would be necessary to address Peak Oil. The main difference is that climate change means we have to leave the coal, tar sands, etc. sequestered in the ground as much as possible.

    This is the work of a generation–maybe two. It means that pretty much everything else is back burner during that time. The payoff, however, is golden–a sustainable economy.

  • luminous beauty // February 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm


    You are at the wrong website. One might think you believe that no one anywhere is thinking, researching, or planning along the lines you suggest.


  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Michel plays the stupid. Standing around claiming there’s need for more study commits us to worse outcomes. Taking the obvious actions as soon as they’re apparent, starting around 1970, gives us the best range of choices. Oops.

    Once you’ve gone PAST the point flagged as safe to stop, _any_ stop is better than continuing to accelerate. Duh.

    Study population ecology:

    Insisting on a careful detailed plan for putting on the brakes simply means hitting the wall sooner and faster and harder than putting on the brakes 20 years ago and coming to a safe stop.

    You know this. You accomplish nothing but delay and wasting people’s time if you simply proclaim the need for more study.

    Brace for impact. Brace for impact. Brace for impact.

  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Here, the simple chart.

    Local areas grow beyond whatever their local carrying capacity allows, temporarily, by importing what’s needed at some cost and exporting what surplus they have.

    When there’s a hiccup in the finance system transport fails and any local area that’s beyond its carrying capacity and doesn’t get transport

    uses up stockpiles, changes to other sources, or starts losing population due to overshoot.

    Read the book. Read the article here:

  • luminous beauty // February 15, 2009 at 6:19 pm


    Some interesting stuff. I like this short essay about design versus planning:

    Might give michel something to think about.

  • David B. Benson // February 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    No more time to “plan”. Act. Now.

    Plant tens of billions of trees.
    Make biochar.
    Start enhanced mineral weathering sites.

    Paid for by an “Excess Carbon Dioxide Removal Fee” charged for all fossil fuels.


  • JCH // February 15, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Probably the most recent event in which the way the country works was turned upside down is WW2. Some even wonder what devastating climate change event will be climate change’s Pearl Harbor - the point at which the greater public finally comes to its senses and demands meaningful action.

    We think this way because we do not know our own history very well. One year before Pearl Harbor, Americans, by a wide margin (88%), opposed a war with Japan. This despite the fact that Japan was waging war on its neighbors, and exhibiting incredibly cruel behavior in dealing with the vanquished.

    What people have forgotten is that FDR spent a year on the radio informing Americans about Japan’s unbridled militarism and its nasty behavior. Just prior to Pearl Harbor, 74% of Americans believed the United States should:

    “take steps now to keep Japan from becoming more powerful, even if this means risking a war with Japan.”

    A little over a month later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. 74% went to a virtual 100%, but few remember we were already at 74%.

    All it takes is a leader who has it within him to communicate the truth. It makes a huge difference.

  • David B. Benson // February 15, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    “AAAS: Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted”:

  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Here’s the lesson from last time.

    Why we can afford what it will cost.

    We need a major public investment to recreate a working economy:

  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    And the response to the climate ostriches — yes, if people had listened in the 1970s, we would have been able to invest far less, mostly private money, in the technology instead of taking the digression into excess rapid fossil fuel use. Much less vapormoney would have been created. Much less in the way of leveraged borrowing and fake fortunes would have been created. Fewer people would have become very rich by taking the real money out leaving the fake money in circulation. And we’d all be better off.

  • dhogaza // February 15, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Ronald Reagan removing solar panels from the White House is emblematic of the way the modern right in this country has dealt with unpleasant facts.

  • Hank Roberts // February 15, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    > And we’d all be better off.

    Read something by smart people:

  • michel // February 16, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Hank, who on earth put the idea into your head that I am “standing around claiming there is need for more study”??? I did not advocate more study, I was advocating moving to specific action at once.

    If we cannot write down on a couple of sheets of paper roughly what it will take to reduce carbon emissions to 1850 levels, in terms of what is going to happen to the main current sources of those emissions, it ain’t going to happen.

    And the idea that saying what is involved at this bullet point level is somehow “getting in the way” of doing it is the logic of the madhouse. If you cannot say what it is you want to do, you for damn sure are not going to get it done. If you want to see things happen, you have to say what they are.

    If its so easy to say what they are, give us a link where its been done. Its not obvious. Worldwatch calls for the reductions, but it does not say what it will take to deliver them. I suspect that is because no-one knows.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm


    This source:

    reports an annual rate of 7.7 million motor vehicle sales in the US in December, 2008. A 2006 study by the US Dept. of Transportation reports 251 passenger vehicles in the US (I noticed the discrepancy between “motor vehicles” and “passenger vehicles,” but until I can get better figures I’m going with this). This implies that the entire fleet turns over completely in 32 years, on average.

    So in ten years, we can replace about 1/3 of car fossil fuel use if we make alternative-fuel and/or electric vehicles cheaper, or make fossil-fuel vehicles more expensive, and we can do it relatively quickly. Note, also, that the December 2008 rate was in the middle of a recession. The average rate is probably higher, meaning lower turnover time. 32 years implies the average age of a car in use in the US is 16 years, which seems on the high side.

    Incentive. You can change a bunch of the numbers above by structuring the incentives correctly. And how about a national plan to subsidize retrofitting cars to burn alternative fuels? I know private owners have been doing it on an individual basis for decades, so the technology certainly exists.

    For China and India, we can stop them burning coal if we can make generating power by other means less expensive–and we’re on track to do that with recent developments in wind, solar and geothermal, especially the first. I note that China has just massively increased its planned installation of wind power. If we can get them to agree to a carbon treaty, they might stop building new coal plants. We should, too. And if we simply change how we do things in the US, that will be a signal to the rest of the world that it can be done.

  • luminous beauty // February 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    If its so easy to say what they are, give us a link where its been done. Its not obvious.

    michel, your learning curve is tending to the negative.

  • kfr // February 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    anyone noticed the arctic sea ice graph - seems to have taken a mad turn but can’t see any explanation:

  • Hank Roberts // February 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Don’t freak out about the daily ice image. As they say on the page, the daily info is unreliable.

    Today is a holiday in the USA so it’s likely nobody has looked at the raw data being displayed since Friday. I’d await corrections before worrying much.

  • Hank Roberts // February 16, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    And the Southern image also looks funny right now. I’m still betting on data glitches over the holiday.

  • dhogaza // February 16, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    The northern graph has changed to “less weird” in the last couple of hours …

    So look again (assuming it doesn’t change back :)

  • David B. Benson // February 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    michel // February 16, 2009 at 7:11 am — Also read the Stern report. To highly summarize, about 1–2% of GWP.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 16, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Michel’s creteria for an acceptable solution: “If we cannot write down on a couple of sheets of paper …”

    Uh, dude, sorry to have to break this to you, but life is not as simple as you seem to insist it must be.
    Michel, I would like to introduce you to physical reality. It says that if we don’t develop a sustainable economy–including one that is sustainable in terms of climate–human civilization will end. Period. Now given that we have never developed a sustainable economy, it’s not too surprising that we don’t have a map. We do, however, know which direction we must take our first steps in. Now what, pray, is so hard to understand about that?

  • Rainman86 // February 16, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Long time, no post. Still reading though. (I’m still in the luke-warmer camp, but edging..)

    I ran across a comment in another blog that got me to thinking a bit about scale. I thought this was a good place to pose a question.

    In the past, I recall reading solar variability was not a valid component due to it’s minimal nature. A variability of .1% ended up implying a max of .02 - .03C change. So that was a no go. Moving on.

    Now the comment. What if the temperature scale was Kelvin? The Sun is heating us up from absolute 0, or 0K. A .1% variability could imply a .2-.3k change (23C = 296K).

    Is this right? I’ve no idea, but it’s interesting. What other calculations could be modified by where zero is? Percentages would be different, one way or the other.

    Anybody see something similar discussed/debunked elsewhere?

    [Response: It's either foolish naivete or clever deception. The response of climate to a forcing is approximately linear within a limited range of temperature -- if you go too far outside the range (like, all the way to absolute zero) then linearity doesn't hold even *approximately*.

    If you want to start at absolute zero, then you start with the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, which implies that temperature is proportional to the 1/4th power of irradiance; the 1/4th power means that a .1% change in S translates to only .025% in T.]

  • Rainman86 // February 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Hmm… .025%? That would end up around .07K. Double the prior values I’d seen, but still a non-starter in the grand scheme.

    Still a no-go. Moving on.

    Thanks, Tamino.

  • David B. Benson // February 16, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Here is something everybody with a garden plot, or even a yeard, can do. “Use of biochar (charcoal) to replenish soil carbon pools, restore soil fertility and sequester CO2″:

  • Chris S. // February 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    re kfr & follow ups:

    looks like Watts took a different view regarding the data glitches:

  • Ray Ladbury // February 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Anthony Watts’ IQ would have to double to rise to the level of moron.

  • Gator // February 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Rainman, the 0.1% variation is in the total solar irradiance. This has nothing to do with the temperature units here on earth. If someone thinks physics changes because of the units used to express the physics, well, then they don’t understand physics.

  • Tuukka Simonen // February 17, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I thought this might interest you. Lord Monckton recently put online an article here:

    At the page 3 there is a graph with words:

    “It may be the sun: a strong anti-correlation between intensity and radiosonde temperatures over the past 50 years. Source: Svensmark and Friis-Christensen, 2007.”

    However, that is a lie. The graphs shows heavily edited temperature trend with:

    1.) removed ENSO
    2.) removed effects of volcanic activity

    I saved the pic just in case it is removed:

    You can see that the upper part of the graph is cut off since there are parts of numbers visible at the upper corner. Here’s the full graph:

    The upper part has unedited temperatures, the lower one is edited, most importantly with removed warming trend.

    I’d love to see you publish some kind of response since this kind of behavior is something utterly unacceptable.

    Yours sincerely,

    Tuukka Simonen

  • Hank Roberts // February 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    data sets, biogeochemical — possibly useful

  • gmo // February 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I saw an article on the BBC web headlines yesterday about fusion power, and it got me thinking that I cannot remember the last time I had seen that topic come up in relation to climate change discussions. Umm, no, I do not get out a whole lot. Anyhoo, I was curious what people here may know more and think about fusion for the distant future.

    I do not expect it to be a panacea. Even if now, this time, it really was only 20-30 years away that would not excuse carbon business as usual. I am even hesitant to bring fusion up lest another person see it, shrug their shoulders, and think there is no reason to address climate change head on because science is going to figure out something and save us.

    Hopefully though we are looking at an indefinite timeline. It would be nice to think that conventional renewables and even nuclear (fission) may be able to avert as much of the current crisis as we can still avoid, then maybe say in the 22nd century fusion could carry much of the power load even more easily.

    Obviously despite its fade from at least my consciousness I am still somewhat affected by the glossy hype of fusion as a cheap and virtually limitless power source. After a few minutes web-hunting I found that sort of touting is still out there. But I ain’t got no flyin’ car, and I ain’t expectin’ no fusion power plant. Someday though…?

    So since it is not in our tool box I guess what most interests me are guesses, gut feelings, and hopes for fusion power way down the line. I know the present concerns are much more pressing, but I would still like to hear (informed or not) speculation. Might it be commercially generated within decades as the most optimist say? a century? longer? never? Could conventional renewables do enough to keep it prohibitively expensive or otherwise unnecessary even if it becomes scientifically viable?

  • Apolytongp // February 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Nice work going on at CA, lately. Not sure whether it will change the Antarctica result. Not sure if Mann-Steig are basically overambitious in trying to screw the inscrutable with their massive infilling regression. But in any case, think a better understanding of method-result comparison will result.

    Kind of a neat (simple) point that Steve had on the std deviation being improperly lowered via infilling (zeros). Tapio responded with a nice follow on discussing how that would change during the iteration. Annoyingly, Steve just shows a plot and then talks about possible implications of interior to coastal…rather than just numerically showing how much std deviation of original data versus std devaition of infilled (with zeros, or even after infill) compares.

    [Response: One of the important points of RegEM is to account for the reduction in variance due to infilling, when estimating the variance-covariance matrix of the final result. I wonder whether CA has accounted for that.]

  • Deep Climate // February 17, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    kfr // February 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm “anyone noticed the arctic sea ice graph - seems to have taken a mad turn but can’t see any explanation:”

    Looks like another wiggle - there are some larger ones in 2006-7.

    Antarctic sea ice extent shows no sign of bottoming out:

  • Apolytongp // February 17, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    donno. Sounds like he is just starting to get his head wrapped around it…although you make it sound like known issue. I guess Smerden has also discussed it a couple years ago, too.

  • Apolytongp // February 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Still annoys me the thought process that would not automatically compared SD of not-infilled with infilled and compute a percent difference.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 18, 2009 at 2:03 am

    GMO, wrt fusion, I would not hold my breath. It is an incredibly tough problem, and even if you solve it, the neutrons will limit the life of the containment vessel to a few years (not to mention robbing you of much of the energy). The vessel will be so hot it will have to be stored as radioactive waste until it cools down–several decades, probably. It is probably a couple of decades off. It is a very tough problem

  • dhogaza // February 18, 2009 at 3:34 am

    It is probably a couple of decades off.

    As was true a couple of decades ago and I would guess will be true a couple of decades hence :)

    Work needs to continue obviously but IMO it would be foolish to include it in our thinking about solutions (and I know Ray’s not doing so).

    It’s a problem more likely to be solved than faster-than-light-space travel (which is impossible, after all), less likely to be solved than any of the more mundane things like improving solar power efficiency by 8x (take your pick among any of the partial solutions being discussed).

  • Hank Roberts // February 18, 2009 at 4:03 am

    > fusion

    There’s one very good possibility, a fusion reaction that doesn’t produce neutrons (no neutron embrittlement, no radioactive transmutation of the containment) — but investigating it requires a workhorse space capabality. One more reason for getting that working soon.

    “Some He3 is available on Earth. … the maintenance of nuclear weapons, which would supply us with about 300 kg of He3 and could continue to produce about 15 kg per year. The total supply in the U.S. strategic reserves of helium is about 29 kg, and another 187 kg is mixed up with the natural gas we have stored; these sources are not renewable at any significant rate.

    In their 1988 paper, Kulcinski, et al. (see ref note below), estimate a total of 1,100,000 metric tonnes of He3 have been deposited by the solar wind in the lunar regolith. …

    About 25 tonnes of He3 would power the United States for 1 year at our current rate of energy consumption. To put it in perspective: that’s about the weight of a fully loaded railroad box car, or a maximum Space Shuttle payload.”

    (Yes, there’s no real prospect of getting either a railroad car or the Space Shuttle to the Moon and back on a regular basis. Numbers merely for comparison.)

  • Timothy Chase // February 18, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Deep Climate wrote:

    Looks like another wiggle - there are some larger ones in 2006-7.

    Antarctic sea ice extent shows no sign of bottoming out:

    That doesn’t appear to be the only news coming out of Antarctica right now:

    Madrid - Antarctica’s Wilkins Ice Shelf is rapidly disintegrating, Spanish scientists reported on Tuesday, with potentially ominous implications for climate change. An ice sheet of 14,000 square kilometres has broken off from the Wilkins Shelf, and has itself broken into several large icebergs, according to a statement from Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC).

    Researchers spot huge split in Antartic ice shelf
    Posted : Tue, 17 Feb 2009 19:11:56 GMT
    Author : DPA,researchers-spot-huge-split-in-antartic-ice-shelf.html

    Incidentally, we lost the Larson B back in 2002, about five degrees north of the Wilkins Ice Shelf. About five degrees south of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

  • Timothy Chase // February 18, 2009 at 7:01 am

    This has a little more on what is happening to the Wilkins Ice Shelf but was down earlier:

    A team of CSIC scientists have been in the area investigating the impact of the crumbling ice shelf on the ecosystem in the Belinghausen Sea, to the west of the Antarctic peninsula.

    Over the past two weeks, the scientists have seen the ice shelf on the edge of the Belinghausen Sea recede 550km and have noted that the water temperatures are extraordinarily warm in this area.

    Experts have warned that the breaking away of this massive ice shelf will ultimately have notable consequences on the sea level.

    Pedro Luis de la Puente, captain of the BIO Hespérides the scientists are working from, underlined the dangers of navigating in these areas, which have ‘never had a full topographical survey as they have been covered in ice up until now’. The water is thought to be between 150 and 300 metres deep and the scientists are encountering icebergs that have run aground, suggesting that they could be approximately 200 metres thick.

    Wilkins Ice Shelf collapses
    By: thinkSPAIN , Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Oh — and in the earlier comment that was “Larsen B,” not “Larson B.”

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    dhogaza writes:

    It’s a problem more likely to be solved than faster-than-light-space travel (which is impossible, after all)

    It is not clear that FTL travel is impossible. A paper in Classical and Quantum Gravity by Miguel Alcubierre (1994) indicated that travel that was FTL globally but slower than light locally was possible if space could be distorted the right way. Subsequent papers made the energy requirements look pretty grim, but that has been disputed now. Still, the recipe calls for matter of negative energy density, and we don’t know how to produce that, or even if it can be produced. But we can’t absolutely rule out FTL. Alcubierre’s work showed that it is theoretically possible without violating general relativity. (So is time travel, for that matter.)

    [Response: About 10 years ago I found (in a copy of International Journal of Modern Physics) a paper on the "warp drive," a solution of the Einstein field equations which produced exactly that effect (faster than light globallly but not locally) -- it behaves exactly like the "warp drive" from Star Trek. I was impressed that this sci-fi staple was actually possible, at least theoretically, according to a reputable arcticle in a reputable peer-reviewed journal.

    But then, there is that negative-energy problem, and the amount of negative energy required corresponded to the equivalent mass-energy about about a million galaxies. But that was 10 years ago -- and who said it would be easy!]

  • Ray Ladbury // February 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Personally, I think there’s some merit in Penrose’s cosmic censorship hypothesis–even applied to FTL travel and time travel. The idea is that the Universe mostly makes sense. FTL travel and time travel can lead to some utterly nonsensical situation, so it’s reasonable to assume that they’ll be as rare as naked singularities. This could of course be due to an extremely high energy threshold rather than outright impossibility, but in either case, it’s not something I’m going to waste a lot of time thinking about.
    Fusion, on the other hand, ought to be doable. The question is whether it can ever be done reliably and controllably enough to make a dent in energy demand. The neutrons really are going to be a bitch, and as Hank points out, the problem with He-3 fusion is that there just ain’t much He-3.
    There have been some astronaut types who have advocated mining He-3 on the moon, where supposedly it has been building up during eons of proton bombardment from the Sun. First, I don’t have a lot of faith that it’s there–He is kind of difficult to keep in place. Second, even if it is, the idea that you could tranport it back to Earth economically is a bit far-fetched. If it exists in exploitable quantities/concentrations on the Moon, it could conceivably power a future lunar colony, but you still have to figure out why a lunar colony would be useful. I’m not convinced that fusion is a miracle we can rely on for our energy needs.

    [Response: Certainly fusion power is possible, although every few decades I seem to hear that the technology is a few decades away. Of course, there's a ready-made natural fusion reactor already in existence: the sun.]

  • Hank Roberts // February 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    > calls for the mass-energy of about a
    > million galaxies

    It is doubtless coincidental that the large scale form of the cosmos appears to contain many large voids of a size to contain a million or so galaxies.

    Let no one suggest constraining the free market development of FTL out of some foolish precautionary principle merely on the vague suggestion that consuming the mass-energy of a million or so galaxies might have any deleterious results.

    Am I getting the cant down correctly?

  • Philippe Chantreau // February 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Deep climate, I saw that turn and was rather surprised. It is no longer in the graph, might have been faulty data. Extent remains well below average, however.

  • Timothy Chase // February 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Barton Paul Levenson wrote:

    Alcubierre’s work showed that it is theoretically possible without violating general relativity. (So is time travel, for that matter.)

    Time travel?

    Yes — possible, but not back to before the construction of the time machine that is used. So presumably if your grandfather were born after its construction, you could go back and kill him before he met your grandmother, but you wouldn’t be able to go back in time and prevent the construction of the time machine itself.

  • Apolytongp // February 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Fusion bombs also…

  • BBP // February 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Ray stated “…but you still have to figure out why a lunar colony would be useful”

    The answer that springs to my mind is that we currently have all our eggs in one basket and we’re actively wrecking the basket.

  • dhogaza // February 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Of course, there’s a ready-made natural fusion reactor already in existence: the sun

    Unlike most technological speculation, at least in this case we know fusion scales up to very large size!

    It’s scaling down that’s the issue ….

  • Ray Ladbury // February 19, 2009 at 1:57 am

    BBP, We have our eggs in one basket because there’s only one basket to put our eggs in. The moon will never support more than a few hundred souls, and even then, they’ll be dependent on supplies from Earth. There ain’t no lifeboat. Better start bailing.

  • dean_1230 // February 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    There’s a sensor failure on the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) sensors on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite. According to NSIDC, the data has been underestimation of Sea Ice Extent since early January.

  • dhogaza // February 19, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting. So the whacked-out Arctic numbers and graph were actually whacked-out.

    Meanwhile the Antarctic graph continues to look interesting …

    They’ve removed the graph from the arctic sea ice news page, but if you go there directly it’s still up.

    And totally whacked-out, as they say.

  • dean_1230 // February 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Here’s another plot which illustrates the problem:

    Things track pretty well in December (slight deviation around the 22nd, but it converges back) but in January things drift apart.

  • luminous beauty // February 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm


    The Moon? Mineral extraction. Sooner or later.

  • sekerob // February 19, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Take JAXA dailies and the hoopla context. They’re always lower. Just do the mean for e.g. January extent.

    JAXA Extent: 13.122 million km square
    NOAA/Goddard Extent: 14.01 million km square
    NSIDC Extent: 14.08 million km square

    That’s but 42,000 km square 1 million more than JAXA.

    Those are near real time charts and that’s what they are.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    OK, professional curiosity kicking in. Anybody know what kind of sensor it is? It sounds as if it might be getting dosed and starting to give unreliable readings.

  • Hank Roberts // February 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    For more information on the current data outage, please see the February 18 update to Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis, “Satellite sensor errors cause data outage.”

  • bluegrue // February 19, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Ray, I think this will help you
    (pkatt on WUWT did the digging)

  • Ray Ladbury // February 20, 2009 at 12:36 am

    LB, it makes zero sense to extract minerals from the moon and then send them to Earth. It will always be cheaper to recycle minerals on Earth. It takes about $10000 to launch a can of Coke into orbit. From the moon maybe $1000. Actually, if you are looking to get rich off of space, it makes more sense to mine the the iron-nickel asteroids, which are at least rick in platinum group minerals. The moon has roughly the same composition as Earth’s crust–not much of extreme value, and it’s all hard-rock mining, since Nature hasn’t done any of the work for you via erosion. Add to that the fact that you are working in an extremely hostile environment (not just vacuum–ever read about lunar dust?), the moon will likely stay dead. You’d probably have more luck marketing it as a tourist destination for very rich old men and their gold-digging young wives–who needs viagra in 1/6 Gee?

  • Deech56 // February 20, 2009 at 1:04 am

    I have to ask - was anyone else a bit taken aback by UIC’s response to George Will’s latest column? UIC stated:

    our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979.

    To me it seems that UIC is making the same mistake Will did - examining two points instead of looking at the trend. It’s apparent that Will used the Asher column as a basis for his claim.

  • Deech56 // February 20, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Ach - that’s UIUC. I do business with UIC and mental confusion does happen from time to time.

  • Hank Roberts // February 20, 2009 at 2:46 am

    UIUC quoted Will’s statement and said they didn’t know where he got his numbers, but theirs differed; they responded re his dates and gave their numbers.

    He’s getting a certain amount of appropriate attention for this, having a history with this particular misinformation.

  • deech56 // February 20, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the links, Hank. I especially liked Carl Zimmer’s post about fact-checking. I was thinking, though, that maybe UIUC could have responded in a way similar to our host’s “Cold, Hard Facts” post:

    thereby educating the public on the importance of analyzing trends before making statements about trends. Judicious use of the words “cherry picking” would not have been inappropriate.

    What I found interesting is that apparently Will has a staff of researchers. I wonder who is considered their “science guru.”

  • Ray Ladbury // February 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks. Hmm, well the actual detector is passive, so the only thing that could be degrading due to radiation in the detector itself would be the paint. Not too likely in 10 years unless they used the wrong paint. Another possibility is the readout electronics starting to go south–though again given the orbit, that would require the electronics to be pretty soft to radiation. Could also be the calibration. It’ll be a fun failure review board.

  • bluegrue // February 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    You’re welcome, Ray.

    The sensor uses a mirror and a “hot reference” for calibration. If either of them is degraded, the calibration is off. You are right, it’s gonna be fun for the failure review board.

    More links found by a commenter (Glenn) on WUWT:
    Of course, all the warnings documented there are relayed to the WUWT forum in the spirit of “Oh Gosh! Look! Everything is broken!!!”

  • bluegrue // February 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I did not find the data on global ice area, so I took the image posted by UIUC and cut and pasted together the relevant parts for a more direct comparison:
    Taking just one day (the day of publication of the comment, relevant for the “now”) leaves UIUC open to attack, but their statement is of course backed up by the bigger picture.

  • michel // February 21, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Those of us who want to see some sort of program for reducing CO2 emissions that we can get our heads around - like, how many internal combustion cars scrapped by when, and how many acres converted to organic and compost cultivation, by when, how many coal plants de-comissioned by when, are told to ‘get out of our way’.

    Now we know from this thread what we are supposed to get out of the way for. Faster than light travel, mining for minerals on the moon, and fusion power.

    The greatest threat to humanity in its whole history, and this is the priority?

    Well, maybe, if those are the priorities, we really are getting in the way by keeping on talking about how to reduce CO2 emissions materially some time in the next 10 or 20 years. Yes, guess so. Silly of us. Keep shopping, keep driving. Faster than light travel is going to save us. Or if not, maybe minerals from the moon will.

    [Response: You know perfectly well that nobody here cares about faster-than-light travel as anything other than a curiosity, that we don't make a priority (or for most of us, even an expectation) of mining the moon, and few if any expect fusion power to play a significant role. You're just mentioning a bunch of stupid irrelevancies because you get your kicks that way.

    And where the hell do you get off claiming that until we have every detail laid out for what to do, there's no possibility of doing anything worthwhile? Cause that's the way you talk. You're an obstructionist of worst kind. Why can't you be a constructive part of the discussion on what to do rather just say "Show me your 30-year plan and all its consequences and costs or you can't accomplish anything"?

    If you really want to discuss what the plan should be, start by making proposals, not by demanding a finished product from readers here and then whining like a snot-nosed petulant child about how you haven't been satisfied. But skip that crap about inflating the costs and difficulties of action while ignoring or ridiculing the costs of inaction.]

  • Ray Ladbury // February 21, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Michel, Hyperbole and distortions of this type do you no credit. There has been plenty of discussion about options for reducing carbon output. What you are asking is for a step-by-step roadmap that amounts to divination rather than policy. But to provide answers

    How many cars scrapped? All of them (eventually).

    How many coal plants scrapped or equipped with CCS? All of them (eventually).

    How many acres converted to sustainable farming (of which organic/compost is a subset)?
    All of them, eventually.

    There. Feel better? Now stop being a petulant child.

  • michel // February 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    And where the hell do you get off claiming that until we have every detail laid out for what to do, there’s no possibility of doing anything worthwhile? Cause that’s the way you talk.

    I have no idea where this comes from. I never claimed any such thing. What I want to see is, if the problem is this big, just some idea of what we have to do.

    Like not, we have to one day abolish all the cars. No, we have to get rid of half of them by 2020. If the problem is that urgent, then let us get on with it. Now. It is obvious that what we are doing at the moment is talking and doing nothing.

    Look at this, for instance,1518,606763,00.html

    We are doing emissions trading in Europe to no effect. We are building windmills to no effect. What we need to do is get the emissions down, now. What is so hard to understand about that?

    Let us close down half the coal fired stations by 2030 perhaps? Half the acreage to organic by 2025?

    Why is this so stupid? Or is it that what we really want to do is carry on shopping?

  • michel // February 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    My proposal would be quite simple. Half of all cars abolished by 2020. Half of all acreage organic by 2030. Half of all coal fired plants closed by 2030. That would do for a start, if we could agree on that, we would really make a dent in it.

  • Hank Roberts // February 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Freeze the total tonnage of coal burned.
    Replace the inefficient plants.
    Capture the heavy metals from the output (far cheaper source of fissionables than actually crushing rock to obtain it, that’s why it hasn’t been done, fear of a cheap supply available to anyone willing to burn coal and capture the metals).

  • David B. Benson // February 21, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    michel // February 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm — You probably want to pay some attention to Joseph Romm @

  • Hank Roberts // February 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm,0,1748869,full.story

    Methane (CH4) has at least 20 times the heat-trapping effect of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). As warmer air thaws Arctic soils, as much as 50 billion metric tons of methane could be released from beneath Siberian lakes alone, according to Walter’s research. That would amount to 10 times the amount currently in the atmosphere.

    At 32, Walter, an aquatic ecologist, is a rising star among the thousands of scientists who are struggling to map, measure and predict climate change. Parts of her doctoral dissertation on Siberian lakes were published in three prestigious journals in 2007: Science, Nature and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

    According to one of her studies, methane emissions from Arctic lakes were a major contributor to a period of global warming more than 11,000 years ago.

    “It happened on a large scale in the past, and it could happen on a large scale in the future,” says Walter, who refers to potential methane emissions as “a time bomb.”

  • Ray Ladbury // February 21, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Abolish half of all cars by 2020 and half of all coal-fired power plants by 2030?
    Great. Go on and do that and report back to us on how it goes for you, and then when you get tired of playing keyboard dictator, maybe we can talk about some practical solutions. Cars exist because they fill a societal need. You will not succeed in changing our dependence on them until you change society (maybe end racism while you’re at it) or until there’s something else to fulfill that need in its stead. So the question to you is either:
    A)How do you change the world so people don’t need cars in a decade?
    B)What do you replace the automobile with and how do you keep the manufacturing process for that product from increasing carbon emissions?

    Answer those, then we’ll talk.

  • Hank Roberts // February 22, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Human population doubles.
    Fish population declines far faster.

    Dave, do you foresee a diet of krill paste and a human population of twelve billion?

    “While the data show that ocean ecosystems still hold great ability to rebound, the current global trend projects the collapse of all species of wild seafood that are currently fished by the year 2050 (collapse is defined as 90 percent depletion)….”

    And we’re already on the 3rd or 4th tier of species “currently fished” — anyone remember when mature large cod, tuna, salmon and other top level fish were the main seafood found? Days long gone.

    But Dave knows all this.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

    michel has a point about cars. We don’t need to get rid of them, but we do need to run them off something other than gasoline. I recommend a massive switch to electric and alternate-fuel vehicles, to be subsidized by the state, which should also be pushing a massive building effort to provide the alternate fuels and electrical generation. I also recommend retrofitting existing cars, again to be subsidized. I haven’t worked out the details. But we do have to stop burning gasoline, and soon.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // February 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

    And let me not forget that we also need a big expansion of urban light rail so more people can commute that way instead of in cars.

  • Sekerob // February 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    BPL, Somewhere there is a presentation lurking of Neil Young. He’d converted a classic Lincoln to alternate fuel with advanced fuel management. Here’s a quick link to a review:

  • Phil Scadden // February 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Ray, I think cars are just about the planets worst problem (after too many humans). I would much rather see half the no. of cars rather than half the no. of humans. You take pressure off not only energy, but coal is pretty much only practical way to make steel. Biofuels, even if we commit vast amounts of the biosphere into production would struggle to replace fossil fuel. Moving to electric plus alternative generation would be better - better still would just be less cars. This of course requires societal change. I rail everytime there isnt a suitable bus service - 60 years there would have been. Keeping oil up at US$200/bbl would certainly be the way to force the necessary change. No new coal power stations - now that is real step forward. Our country recently had moratorium on thermal power without CCS but new government has lifted that. I still doubt a coal fired station could be built though.

  • Apolytongp // February 23, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I believe that climate change is likely happening and that the deniers are doing wish fullfilment denialism. But I want to spud into ANWAR…mwahahahaha.

    See, it is possible to disaggregate a scientific opinion from a political one.

  • David B. Benson // February 23, 2009 at 12:30 am

    According to

    32,000 km^2 of New Mexico would suffice to produce the US energy requirements.

  • Phil Scadden // February 23, 2009 at 3:09 am

    I’m skeptical - data from someone chasing investor money. I have previously seen similar no.s but this only covering gasoline consumption not total energy, and I would be interested in sustainability data on nutrient and water requirements. I have seen much more depressing data from Prof Bob Lloyd based on using entire world biomass - forest.ocean, arable land but for life of me I cant find the data to see what assumptions were made. Would be great if true. This is not to say I dont think there is a place for biofuel - another way to convert solar power into something usable - just not the whole or even main answer. Would be interesting to compare same area with photovoltaic. Same energy source - different collector efficiencies and distribution. This source otherwise.

  • Hank Roberts // February 23, 2009 at 4:24 am

    That’s “10% of the surface area of the state of New Mexico” — I wonder if there’s enough rainfall to fill the algae tanks, or where they’d plan to get it.

    Some numbers available here here:

  • dhogaza // February 23, 2009 at 5:16 am

    But I want to spud into ANWAR…mwahahahaha.

    For someone who has proclaimed himself to be smarter than everyone else here, not to mention climate scientists (though you’re slowly backing off on the latter) …

    What do you mean? “drilling in ANWAR” is meaningless.

    It could mean drilling in your basement as far as I know.

    See, it is possible to disaggregate a scientific opinion from a political one.

    Hard to say. If by chance you meant ANWR there’s plenty of science to back up the position that your political opinion is based on science denial.

    Sounds a bit like creationism and AGW denialism, doesn’t it?

    Well, at least you wear your self-imposed thornless crown with pride.

  • cce // February 23, 2009 at 7:04 am

    tamino once mentioned a fondness for Star Trek.

    In a former life, all I used to talk about was Star Trek. So it brings me great pain to report that Barclay is a global warming “skeptic” (and all around nut).

  • michel // February 23, 2009 at 7:47 am

    BPL - yes absolutely, I was going to add that we need to bring back trams and light rail on a massive scale. Trams worked, still do in European cities. But don’t underestimate the proportion of energy going into food production. It is huge.

    Ray - Obama now seems to be signing up to a target of 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Its not as ambitious as the WorldWatch proposal would be, but it is still huge. It still means that significant lowering action needs to have been taken by 2020, and that it needs to have been part of a planned program which will get there if continued.

    Yes, of course it will mean social change. Of course it will! So what? Is this really surprising? The question is whether something which makes a real difference gets done in the next ten years, or not. I don’t understand how you can simultaneously say that we face a huge and total threat to the existence of humanity, and that we cannot cut back on cars in case it leads to social change. The end of humanity is also a social change of a significant sort. It seems like, one way or the other, social change may be coming our way?

    Romm’s site is interesting, but what it says to me is that technology on that scale is going to be a lot harder than changing behavior through incentives.

  • bluegrue // February 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

    WUWT: The madness is about to beginQuote Anthony:

    94% of the carbon in the atmosphere has the same isotopic signature as the natural background.
    6% is of an organic origin, fossil fuels included.
    Half of that organic source, 3% is what the IPCC itself says man is contributing

    I hunted the “references” down (Monte Hieb presented as Singer, a cut-out from an EIA table without further link) through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. As expected, the data is annual, not accumulated. Why, oh why, do I feel disgusted.

    I’ve left a comment with the details over there, awaiting moderation.

  • dhogaza // February 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Trams worked, still do in European cities.

    And Portland, OR - we started adding trams in the city (to complement existing light rail and bus service) a few years back, and will be opening a new line in just a few months, with plans for another already underway.

  • Hank Roberts // February 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Awaiting “moderation?” Surely you jest.
    Might as well post the actual fact cite in a post here so it’s connected with the WTFU link, so it has a chance of being found in a search later on.

  • David B. Benson // February 23, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    A closed system for converting sunlight into electricity or methane consists of algae tanks feeding an anaerobic digester. The digestate solids go back to the algae tanks, recycling nutrients. Same for the pure water. The biogasse is burnt for electricity and the flue gas, about 40% CO2, goes back to the algae tanks to promote faster growth.

    The other altenative use for the biogasse is to separate out the methane, cleaned enough to go into the naturl gas pipelines. The acid gas is almost all CO2 which can then be sequestered as well as having some fed back to the algae tanks.

    Since some species of algae prefer salt water, a variation would provide a way to obtainn highest quality fresh water from the sea for only the pumping costs.

    I don’t know the costs for any of these schemes but the rapid growth of algae appears to make these and other algae based schemes attractive.

  • dhogaza // February 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Awaiting “moderation?” Surely you jest.

    Geez, Hank, that made me look, just to see if it was approved :(

    It was.

    Also, Lubos Motl posted saying he thinks that 380 ppm now vs. 280 ppm, due to human causes, is correct. There was at least one other there who pointed out the annual vs. accumulation faux pas, also.

    When Lubos disagrees with an anti-AGW post, you’ve really strayed off the reservation, but Watts seems unperturbed.

    Skimming that thread was very painful. I’ve always considered Uncommon Descent to be the blog with the lowest level of science literacy among posters of any place I’ve discovered. I was wrong. WUWT surpasses it.


  • bluegrue // February 23, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Hank, so far, all my challenging comments are published and have been left uncensored. Nonetheless I really love how Anthony Watts harps about quality assurance, but does not apply it to his own site.; the data is there, yet he fails to post corrections.

    Madness post:
    The table that Anthony touts to prove his point is a cut out from “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States” of 2003 by the EIA, chapter 1, page 3.
    The table footnotes show that the data is taken from these TAR pages: and
    The original data are annual fluxes in PgC/yr from the 1990s. The EIA presented this data as flux, but listing the numbers as “million metric tons of gas” leaving out the “annual” part and putting in the “man-made” column. A cut out of that table landed in Anthony’s hands, and he also seems to rely on Monte Hieb’s site, which he misattributed to Singer in a reply to a comment. Anyway, suddenly the data is presented as “the IPCC says that 3% of atmospheric carbon is man-made”. If this were Chinese Whispers I might even be able to laugh.

    Other unchallenged, but also unacknowleged comments are on another thread regarding Spencer’s linear regression fiasco:
    In the latter I simply explicitly trod out the math for calculating the slope of the regression line. I show that the linear trends of derivatives of a time series and the detrended time series are equal. Tamino’s comment ought to have been enough for anyone with a BSc or equivalent to see that Spencer’s reasoning on carbon isotopes here was fundamentally flawed.

  • Phil Scadden // February 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I guess the value of biofuels for moment, is that you get high energy density compared to batteries even if they have very poor conversion efficiency both from sunlight to fuel and fuel to motion.

  • David B. Benson // February 24, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Phil Scadden // February 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm — Biodiesel is just diesel. Same efficiency in converting fuel to motion.

  • Phil Scadden // February 24, 2009 at 3:16 am

    “Biodiesel is just diesel. Same efficiency in converting fuel to motion.”

    Agreed - poor compared to electric. The issue for electric cars is energy density (among other things for sure).

  • Phil. // February 24, 2009 at 3:50 am

    bluegrue // February 23, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Hank, so far, all my challenging comments are published and have been left uncensored. Nonetheless I really love how Anthony Watts harps about quality assurance, but does not apply it to his own site.; the data is there, yet he fails to post corrections.

    Don’t forget that if he gets mad at you he will leak your confidential information!

    From your post on WUWT:
    “Since when is giving away personally identifiable data part of the escalation strategy? Do I need to worry about my e-mail being given away in case I misbehave?”

  • Hank Roberts // February 24, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Here is the latest news, for your selective-quoting tracking and cherry-sourcing pleasure:

    It begins:

    “Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation

    Originally posted Dec. 16, 2008, with meteorological year data. Updated Jan. 13, 2009, with calendar year data.

    Calendar year 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis [see ref. 1] of surface air temperature measurements. In our analysis, 2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880 (left panel of Fig. 1). The ten warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008. The two-standard-deviation (95% confidence) uncertainty in comparing recent years is estimated as 0.05°C [ref. 2], so we can only conclude with confidence that 2008 was somewhere within the range from 7th to 10th warmest year in the record. ….”

    I do wish they’d quit charting just 1- and 5-year means.

  • dhogaza // February 24, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Biodiesel is just diesel. Same efficiency in converting fuel to motion.

    Actually, not true, as I understand it. Different fuel sources have different concentrations of hydrocarbons.

    I know that the biodiesel collective here in Portland Oregon points out that you’ll get a bit less mileage (for a good cause, of course).

  • michel // February 24, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Energy density in cars is why social change is inevitable. Electric cars will not support the California freeway system in its present form. The California conurbations and distribution networks are incompatible with a wholesale move to mass transit. At bottom, we are talking massive social change carried out over a period of 20-30 years - higher density housing, mass transit, life lived far more locally, probably much more frugally by today’s standards. Though much of what passes for economic activity is just the replacement of one set of junk by another, it is of no benefit to quality of life.

  • dhogaza // February 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Of all the times for a satellite launch to fail.

    Bad news.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Welcome to reality, Michel. Do you expect California to simply scrap its highways? Replacing an infrastructure is always more difficult than creating a new infrastructure. That is why I would contend that we will make greatest progress if we first help developing countries implement a green infrastructure. We can then try to replace our own aging, dirty infrastructure more gradually. Nature doesn’t care whether we keep a CO2 molecule from being emitted in California or in West Africa.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Yeah, bummer about OCO, although this probably buys a job for a couple of my buddies at JPL. The satellite, whether insured or not, will have to be replaced. We’re talking a delay of a couple of years. Meantime, we still have the Japanese satellite.
    Looks like my current employer may have done me a favor by making me sell stock in my former employer (ORB).

  • bluegrue // February 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Talking of satellites, any ideas what will become of the Deep Space Climate Observatory? The only current information I could find is Mitch Anderson’s
    and I don’t know how reliable it is.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Last I heard, DSCOVR had been “given” to the Air Force to refurbish as a solar observing satellite. I know of no update on this, and those working on it have been given no other direction that I know of.

  • Phil Scadden // February 24, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    The slowness with which society is capable of change is number one reason for starting right away. Im

  • Aaron Lewis // February 25, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Climate is defined as the average weather over 3 decades. Averages are useful for systems that revert toward a central value, or as Deming would say, “Are in control”. In a perturbed or forced system, the average in one period says very little about the behavior that can be expected from the system in a future period.

    We live in a system that is forced, out of equilibrium, and not likely to regain equilibrium in the foreseeable future. Under these conditions, what is the purpose of our current definition of climate? Why do we cling to climate as an average? Do we expect global warming to suddenly stop, and our weather to revert to tending toward a central value?

  • michel // February 25, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Ray, what it amounts to is, you guys clean up your act, we’ll carry on shopping while you do that. Oh yes, and we will help you install a few windmills if we have some leftover cash from rescuing our banks.

    What it says is that you do not really believe this is an urgent and catastrophic matter. If you did, hanging on to the California freeway system would be the last thing on your mind.

    There is obviously one rule for the US and another for everyone else. Because after all, its California. We can’t give up our cars and our freeways! People would get upset!

    And anyone who thinks we both can and should, please get out of the way, while we get on with saving the planet. Probably by shopping, but in a Prius?

  • Kevin McKinney // February 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    michel, the government of Ontario just announced that among the effects of their Green Energy Act would be the creation of jobs in the trucking industry. While the irony does not go unnoticed by anybody on either side of the debate about that act, should the wind and solar farms not be built?

  • luminous beauty // February 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm


    California, in a notably non-partisan expression of collective public polity, is actively working on practical real solutions to the many problems of energy production, distribution and transportation in all their multi-dimensional and interactive complexity. It is preferable to accomplish this in as gradual, smooth and seamless a manner as possible, avoiding unnecessary economic and social disruption but rather seeking to stimulate broad and inclusive economic growth. One small example:

    You are contributing an over simplistic pointless, useless, meaningless, whinging complaint, predicated on a false dilemma. In other words, creating obstacles where none exist.

    Not helpful.

    Get out of the way.


  • bluegrue // February 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks Ray. It’s a shame that the original mission seems to be scrapped.

  • David B. Benson // February 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Aaron Lewis // February 25, 2009 at 1:38 am — It has to do with the unpredicatable so-called climate variablity, due to ocean oscillations and so forth. One needs enough data to establish a trend. The tradiion in meteorology is to use a 30 year interval to establish averages. This provides enough data to determine the trend in global temperatures and other metrics.

  • Bart Verheggen // February 25, 2009 at 9:18 pm


    In a perturbed system like the current climate, looking at how the running average (or some other smoothed version) of the weather is changing is pretty much the only way to establish its rate of change.

    But you’re right in that the current climate can not be defined as the average of the previous 30 years, because it is changing. The current climate is in effect unknown, because we don’t know what the next 15 years will be like. Myles Allen suggested therefore to define climate as the chance of certain weather.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 26, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Michel, Try not to be more of a hysterical moron than is absolutely necessary. Now I know this is difficult for someone with a reactionary policy, but THINK! Development is going to happen. We couldn’t stop it even if we wanted to, and–given the fact that prosperity reduces fertility rates–we don’t want to. This means that we will be BUILDING new green infrastructure in developing countries. Building infrastructure where there currently is none is easier than replacing existing infrastructure. That is simply a fact, and an obvious one if you think about it. So, we assist developing countries in return for a slower phase out for the west.

    Michel, I’ve driven the California freeway system. I’d be the last to fight to keep it. You just won’t get CA to give it up unless they have a viable alternative. I’d just as soon preserve democracy while we resolve the climate crisis.

  • michel // February 26, 2009 at 7:50 am

    “should the wind and solar farms not be built?”

    It depends how serious and urgent you think the problem is. According to Der Spiegel, the European wind program so far has made no difference to carbon emissions:,1518,606763,00.html

    If we really are reaching a tipping point, if human civilization on earth really is at stake, if the objective is for the planet to be emitting in 2050 some 20% or less CO2 than it did in 1990, then we need to do ONLY those things which are part of a project which will get there.

    The answer is apparently no, wind and solar farms are not on the critical path, and so they are a distraction. The evidence is they are placebos, feelgoodery, which make no material difference to the problem. They are ineffective and so worse than useless.

    In the UK, the commitment in law is now to get to around 35% reductions of emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. I guess this is around a 50% reduction from today’s levels.

    There are only two possible sources for reductions of this scale and in this time period, one being cars and the other agriculture. It is just possible that if the UK started a crash program right now, it could get enough public transport infrastructure in place to cut car use by half or two thirds by 2020, and also just possible that if it could persuade the EU to act, it could move to organic farming on a grand scale. It would require import tariffs or massive subsidies if the farming sector was to be preserved, but maybe it could be done. The public transport program would have to be massive however, and the car industry in the UK would have to be totally restructured and downsized. Right now the UK rail network is overcrowded, and the rail paths themselves undermaintained and in poor condition. Moving to organic farming would require a huge overhaul of the welfare system, and the movement of large numbers of people into agricultural labour. It could be done, but it would be a massive political issue. We have totally lost the habit of hard physical work.

    In terms of power generation, Kingsnorth, which recently excited James Hanson so much, is trivial. Britain is opening one of these in ten years. China is opening one a week. That will have to stop at once.

    I find it deeply ironic that someone wanting to take effective action which is matched to the level of the alleged threat is told to ‘get out of the way’, though of what is not clear, and is called an ‘hysterical moron’ when he thinks things have to be done that are by present naive and comfort oriented standards politically difficult, but which are actually essential to get to the alleged objective.

    It may be that ‘you just won’t get CA to give it up’. I suspect that you just won’t get the UK public to give it up either. But what this says is, start building massive sea walls, right now.

    There are no two ways about it. The scale of what is said to be coming towards us is massive. The urgency is total. We are reaching a tipping point. We do not have much time. If you say that we are not in fact able to reduce energy consumption and emissions on a scale required to address the issue in that way, then we need to get moving right now on an program of equivalent size and urgency directed to adaptation.

    Abusing people who point this out is quite wrong. It is deeply ironic that those who are most intellectually committed to the gravity and urgency of the problem seem also most committed to restricting themselves, in the name of political realism, to actions which will be totally ineffective in dealing with it.

  • Hank Roberts // February 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Ah, yes, it’s those realists who are the problem.
    If we believed we need to reduce carbon and were realistic, we’d either — what are your options again? despair and give up? Accede to a dictator for our own good? But certainly not shut down coal plants and replace them with efficiency, conservation, and alternative sources of power including inventing new ones, because, er, just becaue that can’t work. Is that it?

    Or did you have some other alternative?

    Or are you arguing that it can’t possibly be true that we need to reduce carbon, because if it were true, it wouldn’t be possible, so it ….

    Sorry, your train of logic escaped me again.

    Perhaps you should consider that the only way humanity does cope is by muddling through, and we’re not likely to change. Either our method will work this time, or it won’t.

  • dhogaza // February 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Michel’s just spouting a long-winded version of the ultimate denialist talking point. “Well, if AGW is happening, we can’t really do anything about it without retreating to a virtually stone age existence, so give up”.

  • luminous beauty // February 26, 2009 at 5:52 pm


    The Der Spiegel headline is disingenuously misleading. The reason why European CO2 goals haven’t been met is because the initial calibration round of cap and trade emission certificate valuation proved to be a gross under estimate of what is needed.

    It has nothing to do with the potential of wind to supplant fossil fuels.

    It isn’t a technical problem, but a political problem.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 26, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Michel, I only see three things wrong with your solution:
    1) There is no worldwide dictotatorship to impose it.
    2) Transport accounts for only a minority of carbon emissions.
    3) Global dictatorship might be just a wee bit umpopular in some quarters.

    I am more than willing to concede that a solution doesn’t exist at this point. That doesn’t mean we should give up. It merely means that
    1)we need to develop a solution as we go along
    2)we should not prejudge the solution

    If you want to work on transportation and agriculture, great! That’s PART of the solution. I would suggest that you guard against becoming a monomaniac, though. I’ve dealt with them and they generally are not pleasant company.

  • Phil Scadden // February 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Cap and trade schemes are only going to HOLD the level of CO2 production at best and to be useful have to be adopted by the whole world. In Europe, it has meant being able to produce energy via wind farms etc without building more coal stations. When you can cheat with non-compliant countries then you have a problem.
    Any reasonable solution for slowing climate change must involve move to non-CO2 emitting energy sources. As this grows, you can retire coal plants. I do however have a lot of sympathy with carbon-tax. Very high oil costs certainly brought about reduced oil consumption and drove investment into hybrid and electric cars.
    All these schemes though need global commitment. Everyone has to come on board.

  • David B. Benson // February 26, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    “Human beings are carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be produced in the future. Within a few centuries, we are returning to the atmosphere and the oceans the concentrated organic carbon stored in sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years.”

  • bluegrue // February 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    There are also good news about satellites.

    JAXA reports on its Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite “IBUKI” (GOSAT) acquiring “first light”.

  • michel // February 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I’m a practical person. Actions only interest me if they are effective. So I got no objection to doing all these various things, but I want to know how much difference the ones we are likely to do are going to make.

    Because what I’m thinking about is, you all may be right, we may be nearing a tipping point, the threat may be to human civilization on earth, and it may be real urgent, like, the next ten years, or some people say four years, to make very big reductions globally.

    In which case what I want to know is, whether its going to happen, and if not, we better seriously consider moving to higher ground.

    What you are all saying is, its very unlikely to happen on the scale required. Because it is not politically realistic to target behavioral changes in the US and probably Europe and the Far East too, that are big enough to make a large enough difference fast enough. That some things may be done which are in the right direction, if they were done on a much hugerer scale and far faster, but at the moment what we are doing as a species is not cutting it. This indeed was the lesson of Kyoto. What could be agreed was not effective, and what would have been effective could not be agreed. So it was sold as a first step, but it was not so much a first step as a waste of money because it was not actually a step of any significance in the direction. It was like walking East down 14th St is not a first step to getting to Paris.

    Its a practical matter for the UK and their Climate Act also. Don’t bother eliminating your emissions if no-one else is going to, it won’t do your population any good in that case. If no-one else is going to do it, and if it is as urgent as stated, stop worrying about emissions, and start building sea walls, huge ones, all down the east coast starting in Lincolnshire or someplace.

    There are real serious implications to this stuff.

  • Ray Ladbury // February 27, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    It sounds as if you are looking for a guarantee of success before you agree. A pity, since life rarely comes with such guarantees. So what will you do if we can’t give you a guarantee? Go out and join TCO getting drunk?

    You seem to think we must make a choice–between prevention and mitigation. Unfortunately, we are just starting to understand all the myriad consequences of climate change. It’s a work in progress and will take time for the picture to develop. Time–the resource our civilization has squandered 2 decades of. It all comes down to time.

    Time so that we can develop better models and observations so that we know what to expect.

    Time to develop technologies to slow ghg emissions, and slow or delay the arrival at irreversible tipping points

    Time to develop mitigations of the effects we can’t avoid.

    Time is purchased by conserving now, and the cost will be much higher than it would have been 2 decades ago. So the first step is not onto 14th street, but rather increased conservation and increased use of renewables, increased use of carbon sequestration (e.g. terra preta), planting forests of trees that forestall the problem for a generation. Can we do it. Don’t know. I do know, however, that if we don’t try, we deserve the fate we will suffer.

  • luminous beauty // February 27, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I’m a practical person

    No, you are not a practical person. You are a person whose mind has been mis-managed with great skill, paralysed by cynicism, puffed up by misinformed opinion.

    Practical solutions are hard work. You don’t want any part of that.

  • Kevin McKinney // February 27, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Michel, what’s with the repetition of the seawalls idea? For a “practical person,” that’s a very impractical idea. Many, many thousands of miles of coastline would need to be protected–even the Dutch, who’ve been in the seawalls idea for centuries, are thinking about other ways of dealing. Or is it a metaphor for isolationism?

    Nor do I agree that the mitigation efforts in Europe were/are pointless. Insufficient, yes, but the were not ineffective, and not disastrous for the economies involved. Moreover–and more importantly–somebody has to lead. The only way that we will get effective action at the global level is for some nations to display actual commitment and show the rest how (and how not) to do it.

  • David B. Benson // February 27, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    michel // February 27, 2009 at 11:41 am — Eating less red meat will help. If you’ll indicate where you live, I’ll be happy to suggest other practical ideas which will also help.

  • Deep Climate // February 28, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Latest sea ice news from NSIDC:

    We have switched to the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) sensor on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 satellite following the sensor drift problem described in our February 18 post.

    The two sea ice charts are back:

    The antarctic sea ice extent makes more sense (a while back now I noted a steep downward trend in extent, at a time of year when a “bottoming out” would normally be expected). This year’s minimum was almost exactly the same as the 1979-2000 average.

    To put this in context, note that southern sea ice trend has been slightly up in the last 30 years (at least through December 2007):

  • michel // March 1, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Its not clear what ‘buying time’ means, or how we would go about doing it. The idea that we should not make the problem worse, that is, we should undertake a program which would result in CO2 ppm not rising above the levels of 2010 or maybe 2015, its perfectly reasonable. What is that program? I don’t see it. I do see people embodying vague hopes in legislation, but I don’t see any program with even illustrative numbers on it indicating actions to be taken and probable effects from them.

    We do not seem to face a choice between mitigation and prevention. We seem to be in a situation where action that is effective is being described, perhaps correctly, as politically impossible, and action that is politically possible is not effective. The fact that it is politically possible is not a reason for doing ineffective things.

    No reasonable person expects any sort of absolute certainty in these matters. But they do expect to know that a proposed program will actually lower CO2 emissions and finally ppm to some level that will have some effect. To approve of Kyoto, for instance, as a buying time measure, one would have to see that implementing it would have postponed a given level of warming by 10 or 20 years. The real number seems to have been more like 2.

    This disconnect between action and effect seems uncomfortably common in the movement. One knows people who have bought Prius cars in the name of being green. When you ask them why, if fuel economy was so important, they did not buy a small Citroen diesel which does almost twice the miles per gallon, they stare at you blankly. There seems to be something particularly green about getting 50mpg in a Prius, even though its not a particularly high mileage for a modern car. Why? Suggest getting an electric bike to do the shopping, or heaven forbid, actually cycling by body power, and you are categorized as so crazy as not worth talking to.

    Any one person eating less red meat is similar, it won’t help. What would certainly help would be social programs which reduce cattle populations. I have a rather green lifestyle in this and most other respects. But my example does not seem to lower global emissions one iota, and glancing around the local supermarkets and their parking lots, its obviously not contagious!

  • Ray Ladbury // March 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Welcome to politics. It takes time. So does technology. So does science. So do mitigation strategies. Now you can wait around for all this to come together and whine about nobody doing anything, or you can take responsibility on yourself and bicycle or drive a Prius (better than a SUV), eat less meat and on and on. You can try to convince others–lots of others–to take similar action. You can plant trees. You can elect responsible politicians–if you can find any to elect. You can do battle with the forces of anti-science stupidity. You can learn as much about the threat as you can. You can hope.

    Or, as I said, you can whine.

  • Lazar // March 2, 2009 at 12:19 am

    A first principles derivation of the enhanced GHG effect…
    Take absorption line spectra (HITRAN)
    and a given atmospheric profile
    the slab transmission and Planck functions.
    Change concentrations of CO2 from 300 ppmv to 600 ppmv.
    [Fig. 1]
    Outgoing longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere decreases by 3.2 Watts/m^2
    Therefore the atmosphere heats.

    The surface-troposphere system heats by 5.5 Watts/m^2 [Fig 3.]. The flux divergence at the tropopause becomes decreasingly negative by this amount (here -ve flux divergence signifies the combined surface-troposphere system is cooling to the stratosphere, mesosphere etc. and space… i.e. the net flux is upward, similarly a +ve divergence signifies net downward flux and therefore longwave heating of the surface-troposphere). The rate of cooling decreases, resulting in a higher equilibrium temperature. This is partitioned into heating of the surface (downward flux = +ve) by 1.6 Watts/m^2 [Fig. 2.], and heating of the troposphere by 3.9 Watts/m^2 [Fig. 4]. The combined effects of increased absorption of upwelling longwave from the surface and of downwelling from the stratosphere (due to increased optical thickness of the troposphere and increased emission from the stratosphere), overwhelm the increased upward emission.

  • David B. Benson // March 2, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Lazar’s post was hlepful. Here are two expostions intensionally short.

    Barton Paul Levenson:
    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
    2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
    3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
    4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
    5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007).

    Jim Galasyn:
    Fundamentally, climate science is based on well-understood principles of thermodynamics. Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels) and released CO2, Earth was in radiative near-equilibrium with space. Humans introduced a sudden, 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget. Because CO2 is a “heat-trapping gas,” Earth is now in disequilibrium with space. To return to equilibrium, the atmosphere must warm.
    The rest is details. Interesting details, to be sure, but the basic thermodynamics have been understood since Svante Arrhenius published in 1896.

  • michel // March 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

    The previous two posts are less than clear about the mechanisms.

    There seems to be no dispute that if you have two volumes of gas that differ only in their ppm of CO2, the one with more CO2 will be warmed more by any IR passing through it.

    The magnitude of this effect was notoriously miscalculated (overestimated) by Arrhenius. It is now generally agreed that on earth, moving from 280ppm to 560ppm would, other things being equal, raise the global temperature by a less than alarming 1.2C.

    However other things are not equal. The hypothesis is that the planet reacts to any amount of warming from any cause with further warming. It does not seem to matter what the initial warming is due to, the effect would be the same. This effect is positive feedback. The size of this feedback is open to dispute and will determine what estimate one makes of climate sensitivity.

    To assert that climate sensitivity as found in the modern AGW hypothesis is based on Arrhenius work, and that it is founded on basic physics, is historically mistaken, but more important, its misleading about the derivation of the important quantity of climate sensititivity. We cannot deduce what effect a rise in CO2 will have on global temperatures from the properties of CO2 and its absorption of radiation, any more than we can deduce the effects of raising the thermostat in a house from the properties of heating oil. In the case of the house, we have to get into the details of how it is constructed. In the case of the atmosphere, we have to get into the details of how it works as a dynamic system.

    This is why there is no uncertainty about the level of warming that will be caused by atmospheric CO2 rises if everything else stays the same, but the IPCC will be found to give a range of estimates for climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling.

    The claim, which is sometimes expressed in the phrase that AGW is simply ‘200 year old physics’ is unfortunate, because it is so easily refuted. Skeptics then wrongly assume that having refuted that, they have refuted the whole claim. They have not. Just because there are two effects and not one, and of different levels of certainty, does not mean that the second one is not real. But one does the argument no favors by obscuring its real foundation.

    [Response: And one does the world no favor by sticking one's head in the sand and pretending it even might be all OK. The existence of feedbacks is basic physics; hard to argue with Clausius-Clapeyron or the greater albedo of ice than water. As for the uncertain range of sensitivity, that's no cause for comfort but even greater alarm, as the paleoclimate evidence effectively rules out your hoped-for pipe dream of "less than alarming," while the worst mass extinction in the history of the planet remains a distinct possibility.

    Uncertainty is not your friend, and counting on the existence of some mysterious mechanism to save our asses from ourselves is a recipe for armageddon.]

  • mauri pelto // March 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I hope your editing is going well. At the bottom of this page is the data on snowpack water equivalent and precipitation used to calculate the ratio. The web page examines the data in my simple minded statistical way. I intentionally varied the timing and location of the snowpack records used to indicate the trends is temporally robust unlike the overall snowpack swe is. The April 1 stat is influenced by this ratio and in turn glacier mass balance is quite sensitive to the April 1 swe.

  • luminous beauty // March 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    It is now generally agreed that on earth, moving from 280ppm to 560ppm would, other things being equal, raise the global temperature by a less than alarming 1.2C

    False. Relative humidity is not held equal in this formulation. This is only true if absolute humidity is kept the same, and ignoring other feedbacks. In other words, it is not physically realistic.

    Arrhenius’ calculation is still pretty spot on for long term equilibrium as the deep ocean heat content catches up with the surface heating over several centuries.

    Much of the uncertainty isn’t because the estimation is imprecise or because the mechanisms are so poorly understood, but because sensitivity is itself variable within the given range. We also know the distribution of that variability is long tailed on the warm side.

    We can estimate the temperature change in a house from the heat of fuel combustion without examining details of construction. All that is needed is to empirically determine the R rating.

  • Hank Roberts // March 2, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    > would, other things being equal
    > if everything else stays the same

    Michel, do you realize that as you state it, “thing” includes _time_ ? You’re talking about the result of the calculation for an _instantaneous_ doubling of CO2, with no other change.

    Just want to be sure you know this. Got it?

  • if0x // March 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    The Guardian has a story covering Chinese plans to build 59 reservoirs in an attempt to offset the implications of glacier retreat due to global warming:

    It’s interesting to note that although the affected area if currently unusually damp, due to increased precipitation and glacier depletion, the people there recognise that this is a short-term blip, and are looking ahead to the longer-term prospect of drier climes.

  • David B. Benson // March 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    According to David Archer in chapter 4 of

    Svante Arrhenius obtained a climate sensitivity range of 3–6 K while to currently accepted range is 2–4.5 K. Not too shabby for pen and paper work.

  • michel // March 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I’m fully aware that the 1.2C is not physically realistic as an outcome on planet earth.

    I was not arguing either that the uncertainty means that we have less to worry about, nor was I “counting on the existence of some mysterious mechanism” to do anything. It was not an argument against warming. In fact, it was not an argument about warming at all.

    It was simply an argument for stating clearly what the mechanism is supposed to be. It is supposed to be a combination of direct effects from CO2 and positive feedback. It is not simply the direct effects of the absorption of radiation by the added CO2. This feedback mechanism was not what Arrhenius described. The degree of CO2 warming was overstated in his papers.

    I make no argument about whether the positive feedback exists, nor how great it is. I just want people to state clearly what the argument actually is. and get what Arrhenius said right.

    Do you all really not understand that it is actually more, not less, plausible, when it is correctly stated than when it is wrongly stated?

  • David B. Benson // March 2, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Svante Arrhenius did, of course, include water vapor:

    His thermo description remains unchanged to this day; only some constants needed some improvement.

    As climatologist David Archer indicates.

  • luminous beauty // March 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    This feedback mechanism was not what Arrhenius described.

    Wrong again:

    In 1895 , Arrhenius presented a paper to the Stockholm Physical Society titled, “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground.” This article described an energy budget model that considered the radiative effects of carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) and water vapor on the surface temperature of the Earth, and variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

  • Hank Roberts // March 3, 2009 at 12:00 am


    Arrhenius, Svante, 1896. On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground. Philosophical Magazine ser. 5, vol. 41, 237 - 276.

  • Hank Roberts // March 3, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Shorter: Arrhenius there discussed biogeochemical cycling over geologic time, as well as orbital changes.

    You should, of course, check science papers by looking at the sources there cited. Here’s one for your convenience:

    Tyndall, John, 1861. On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours, and on the Physical Connection of Radiation, Absorption, and Conduction. Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, vol. 22, 169 - 94, 273 - 85.

  • Lazar // March 3, 2009 at 1:30 am


    “the mechanism” “the argument”

    There are many mechanisms and arguments and ways of looking at things. When someone asks “what is the greenhouse effect?” the answer is typically given in terms of the radiative properties of gases. When I say “the enhanced GHG effect” I mean that increasing the concentration of well-mixed GHGs will cause warming, of the surface and of the troposphere. That is what I intended to derive, a first principles result to which the question of feedbacks (which exist as a result of warming/cooling) are irrelevant. The precise degree of warming is not the question I’m contending. I’m doing this for educative reasons, not making any larger points about climate sensitivity or whatnot. PS some people do indeed dispute the radiative basis of the greenhouse effect.

  • Hank Roberts // March 3, 2009 at 1:56 am

    For those who don’t have much ecology, this is a worthwhile read, just for a sense of how many interactions there are in an ecosystem:

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm


    Arrhenius’s paper explicitly accounted for water vapor feedback, among other effects. He was not calculating the feedback from doubled carbon dioxide alone. The paper is available free on-line if you want to read it. Try here:….9…14A

  • Ray Ladbury // March 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    The reason why Arrhenius did consider the effect of water vapor was because it was known physics even at the end of the 19th century. It might make sense to estimate the increased radiant energy due to CO2 alone. It doesn’t make sense to look at sensitivity in that fashion, since the increase in CO2 forcing (W/m^2) takes place in a given temperature range and with a given atmospheric composition. So by all means, we must pose the problem correctly–but that is in opposition to the way it was posed by you.

  • bluegrue // March 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    when reading Arrhenius paper, it is good to keep the following time line in mind.

    Years of publication
    1896: Arrhenius paper
    1896: Wien’s approximation
    1905: Planck’s law of black body radiation
    1913: Bohr model of the atom

    It was cutting edge science of that era.

  • Hank Roberts // March 3, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Actually, Barton, that’s a press release!

    It’s a “brief and inadequate notice” — to quote from the first page, a refreshing phrase more press offices should consider using. It’s a pointer to the paper. See the full paper, link posted a few responses back.

  • Gavin's Pussycat // March 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Actually the full article is here:

    …and makes fascinating reading.

  • Deech56 // March 3, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    RE bluegrue // March 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm “Michel, when reading Arrhenius paper, it is good to keep the following time line in mind….”

    This was also around the time (1893) when The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine opened, and brought rigorous scientific training to future physicians. So much scientific ferment at the turn of the century.

    BTW, someone said that he would have to check Arrhenius’s notebooks to see if the data looked good before he would accept the results. Anyone know where his notebooks went? LOL.

  • David B. Benson // March 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Deech56 // March 3, 2009 at 6:08 pm — Don’t recall where, just that the notebooks have been preserved.

    And studied. There were errors in the calculations of the layer model..

  • Lazar // March 4, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Effects of including/excluding water vapor continuum in radiative transfer calculations…
    Fig. 5 shows outgoing longwave at TOA (CO2 held constant at 300ppmv) reduces from 301.1 Watts/m^2 to 297.1 Watts/m^2 if continuum contributions are included.
    Excluding continuum contributions increases radiative forcing at TOA for doubling CO2 from -3.21 Watts/m^2 to -3.40 Watts/m^2 [Fig. 6].

  • Deech56 // March 4, 2009 at 2:54 am

    RE: David B. Benson // March 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm:

    OMG, there were ERRORS in those experiments? Stop the presses! (Sorry - have been doing battle with those who think that the worst place to find accurate scientific information is the scientific literature and that that Spencer is the only honest climatologist.)

    I wonder if there will be additional denialist activity with the upcoming Heartland Climate Change Conference. A new film (Not Evil, Just Wrong) that was promoted at the recent CPAC conference was pointed out to me as the latest blow to global warming. Somehow two Irish filmmakers know better than all those actual climatologists.

  • Hugh // March 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks Deech

    I didn’t know what a non-sequitur was until I watched the trailer for that film

  • michel // March 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Someone said a Prius is better than a 4WD vehicle. Who cares? From the UK Independent, today:

    In one test, the motoring journalist Jason Dawe took part in an experiment in which a Prius and a BMW 520 diesel were driven 545 miles from London to Geneva, including 100 miles of urban driving. The Prius guzzled 11.34 gallons of fuel (48.1mpg) compared to the BMW’s 10.84 gallons (50.3mpg). Yet the Prius owner would pay £15 in road tax (£115 for BMW), be exempt from the London congestion charge (£8 a pop) and get to feel smug.

  • elspi // March 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Michel kindly points out that a diesel gets better milage than a hybrid in highway driving.

    Wow michel, thanks.
    I would never have noticed this, oh wait, I noticed it when the prius first came out.

    Michel is like the slow kid in the class who is constantly shouting out the answers hours (in this case, years) after everyone else had it figured out, and expecting to get a star for his efforts.

    Michel, maybe you should go to a web site that is more suited to you. May I suggest CA or LGF.
    At those places, you will not be made fun of for being a little (or even a lot) slow.

  • dhogaza // March 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Keep in mind that

    1. diesel is denser than gasoline, and that burning one gallon of diesel releases more carbon than burning one gallon of gasoline, all things being equal. About a 15% difference, as I understand it. In terms of carbon emissions, apparently the Prius is a bit better, rather than worse, than the diesel.

    2. hybrids win big in *the city*. It kicks ass for the daily commute through traffic. Since this was a test of point A to point B, my guess is that the 20% urban driving involved primarily freeway driving through cities, not stop-and-go rush hour surface street driving.

    3. TDI diesel is decent technology. My idea setup might be something like a plug-in hybrid Apteron for the city and shorter trips, and a TDI diesel van for the lengthy trips I take when doing biology field work or a photo trip (I freelance as a sideline).

  • J // March 4, 2009 at 6:39 pm


    You made a comment (March 2, 8:40 pm) that was egregiously wrong about Arrhenius’s 1896 paper. A whole series of commenters pointed this out.

    It seems to me it would be polite to make some kind of response or acknowledgment before moving on to a completely unrelated topic like the fuel efficiency of a Prius.


  • Philippe Chantreau // March 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Well, that sure sounds very shocking, Michel. Maybe it’s not the all picture. This is exactly the kind of snippet that should incitate one to reflect and scratch beyond the surface. I’ll adopt a skeptical attitude:

    If you had to engineer an ideal vehicle for city driving and an ideal vehicle for highway driving, do you think they’d be the same?
    How relevant to the London congestion and air quality are the 445 miles of non urban driving? How did the 2 vehicles compare on these 100 urban miles?
    How did the particulates emissions compare? What is the proportion of urban vs. rural car owners in England?
    What is the proportion of rural vs urban miles driven, and how does that translate in terms of total consumption for each respectively?
    Could they possibly have taken these things into consideration when devising the rules?
    Is a BMW 520 diesel a 4WD? How many 4WD do you know that perform like the 520?

    Personally I don’t really care what powers the car as long as the whole vehicle is efficient. In the US, diesels are difficult to market because diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline and less available. It should not surprise anyone that Europe is working more on diesel solutions. I’m sure that the latest Jetta does even better than the BMW.

    That obviously brings us to wonder how good would a diesel electric plug-in hybrid do. That’s readily available technology too. And if BMW or Mercedes starts to make some, you could get to feel hypersmug.

  • Hank Roberts // March 4, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Michel, are you aware that diesels generally aren’t yet available in the US, because of the smog restrictions? That will change. But “don’t let the best be the enemy of the good” meanwhile.

    Especially the unavailable best.

  • Hank Roberts // March 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    This may help.

    There is an ongoing fight about what size particle to regulate, and the very small particles are still not regulated at all.

    The epidemiologists are not happy about this:

    “… it is highly questionable whether improved diesel cars are in fact clean.

    For one thing, incomplete combustion is unavoidable with diesel engines, and could be a fatal defect. The high-pressurized fuel injection systems improved combustion efficiency of diesel engines. As a result, PMs are released in the form of a fine mist and black fumes have seemingly disappeared.

    In exchange, however, the level of invisible ultra-fine nano-particles of less than 0.1 micrometer in diameter rose more than several tens of thousands of times. A micrometer is one-millionth of a meter. In short, the particles only became finer and invisible to the naked eye.

    It is known that PMs measuring several micrometers can enter the respiratory system and trigger illnesses such as asthma. But nano-particles pass through the respiratory system and enter blood vessels. Furthermore, recent animal tests have proved that they even reach circulatory organs including the heart, as well as the brain, nerve and reproductive systems.

    A joint research team from the Tokyo University of Science and an institute of clinical pathology in Tochigi Prefecture had pregnant mice inhale diesel fumes and proved that nano-particles invade the brain of fetuses.

    Epidemiological surveys in the United States and Europe revealed that nano-particles raise the incidence of heart disease and death rates in humans. The United States and other countries have set environmental standards for particulate matters measuring 2.5 micrometers or less (PM 2.5).

    If US standards were applied to Japan, pollution levels measured at most survey points along main roads would exceed them….”

  • Kevin McKinney // March 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    The BMW 520 ain’t no SUV.

    If you drive autobahns a lot, pick the Beemer; if you drive in urban areas, pick the Prius.

    And even in this Beemer-favoring test, the 520d emitted nearly 3 kg more CO2 over the distance driven, according to the story.

  • Phil Scadden // March 4, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Um. Lets see, by 4WD I would assume you actually meant SUV?

    So, BMW 520d is a saloon. Its not 4WD, nor AWD and certainly not an SUV.

    Hybrids get green credentials because of on OVERALL average, most driving is urban, and certainly more than 20% of that “race”.

    If most of your miles are NOT urban, then you should certainly NOT choose hydrid and small diesels are certainly a good option.

    Both the article and your post in particular are twisting facts. We do not need twisted facts.

  • michel // March 5, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I stand corrected on Arrhenius - I had relied on this

    “Experts could dismiss the hypothesis because they found Arrhenius’s calculation implausible on many grounds. In the first place, he had grossly oversimplified the climate system. Among other things, he had failed to consider how cloudiness might change if the Earth got a little warmer and more humid…”

    which is found on

    Probably some denialist shill funded by Exxon, don’t know the author. I will be more careful next time.

  • michel // March 5, 2009 at 10:55 am

    No, the BMW is not an SUV. What the study showed is that you would do about as well in mileage when driving an ordinary non-green saloon car as when driving the Prius hybrid, that the Prius is in short not particularly green.

    Personally I drive as little as possible, but I still believe that the way to drive as greenly as possible in Europe is in a used Peugeot 105 diesel (or the Citroen equivalent), which will get nearly double the mileage of either the BMW or the Prius.

    And I believe that anyone who is seriously interested in green driving will follow my example, and that if they don’t, they are just indulging in image consumption.

    When I did drive, the ratio of about 4:1 for highway to city miles was about right. Maybe it was even higher. Far more of the time was spent driving in traffic, but of course, you go much further when you are on the highway.

  • michel // March 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

    And one more thing.

    In England, if you are over 60, there is no reason to hardly ever drive in traffic! Local buses are totally free, and the range covered by a local service is several tens of miles. So what people should do, instead of buying and driving Prius around towns, is take buses, cycle where possible. and only on inaccessible long distance routes ever resort to cars. And then, use a genuinely fuel efficient car with its carbon already in it, so not a new one therefore, and keep it as long as you possibly can. Like the 105.

    And everyone will think you insane.

  • t_p_hamilton // March 5, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    michel needs correcting - again:

    “I stand corrected on Arrhenius - I had relied on this

    “Experts could dismiss the hypothesis because they found Arrhenius’s calculation implausible on many grounds. In the first place, he had grossly oversimplified the climate system. Among other things, he had failed to consider how cloudiness might change if the Earth got a little warmer and more humid…”

    which is found on

    Probably some denialist shill funded by Exxon, don’t know the author. I will be more careful next time.”

    Michel - water vapor is not the same as clouds. Clouds are liquid water.

  • JCH // March 5, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    If everybody switched to diesel, there would be a lot less driving, and a lot more walking.

  • Ray Ladbury // March 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Michel, I recommend that you be more careful READING. In no way do Spencer’s words support your interpretation.
    Admit you were wrong. Learn from it. Move on.

  • dhogaza // March 5, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    What the study showed is that you would do about as well in mileage when driving an ordinary non-green saloon car as when driving the Prius hybrid, that the Prius is in short not particularly green.

    What your *cite* of the study shows is that, as usual, you’ll cherry-pick whatever you can find that fits your preconception and then ignore any evidence presented by others.

    And, now you follow up with the obvious. Not driving emits less carbon than driving. Now, why didn’t I think of that? I’m stunned! I bet this will shock every hybrid owner in the world!

    And public transit. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll ponder it next time I take the bus. And now, thanks to you, I understand why Portland has been working so hard to increase the number of people who commute by bike!

    Do you think walking from my bed to work in my home office is a greener commute than driving to work or bussing to work? Tell us, Michel!

    You really are a trollish dude.

  • Lazar // March 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    A debunking of absorption band saturation arguments in one picture… Fig. 6.
    Within-band transmission decreases by about -0.20 to -0.25 when CO2 goes from 300 ppmv to 600 ppmv. This effects transmission by -0.05 to -0.15 when taking all constituents into account [Fig. 7].
    CO2 absorption will never saturate, even at 20,000 ppmv [Fig. 8].
    Transmission is an inverse exponential of path length multiplied by line strength. Path length is the total number of molecules encountered. As path length increases, strong lines tend toward saturation, and lines which were weak become strong.
    Arguments that CO2 bands are already saturated are based on flawed experiments.
    One is a 1901 paper by Knut Ångström based on work by Herr J. Koch, discussed at RealClimate here. Essentially, they did not vary the CO2 concentration enough.
    Another common source is a non-peer reviewed paper by Dr. Heinz Hug at the John Daly site (I’m not going to link… those interested can find it). Dr. Hug correctly found that transmission in the 14-16 micron range is saturated. His choice of band limits though is rather interesting [Fig. 9].

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 5, 2009 at 6:33 pm


    Also look here (remove the hyphen before pasting into your browser’s address window):

  • Hank Roberts // March 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Poor michel.

    Lesson: read the cited work, don’t rely on brief summaries. Look up the words even if you’re sure you understand them.

    Many people misunderstand the differences between water vapor and clouds and are confused as a result.

    You don’t, as of about now. That should help a lot.

  • Lazar // March 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    A Guide to the Literature on Quantitative Spectroscopy in Astrophysics
    by Dimitri Mihalas

    A huge literature review of radiative transfer, 1400+ citations. Note that solutions were developed prior to 1950. Those demanding a first principles derivation and complaining they can’t find one in papers published in the 1970s are pulling your leg.

  • Lazar // March 5, 2009 at 7:37 pm


    And everyone will think you insane.

    Culture doesn’t change overnight. It is changing, but slowly. Those who follow the science along with those who trust the scientists act first. Followed by those who have absorbed environmental signs somwhat subconsciously, those who remember how things were thirty or forty years ago. Followed by those who react to price changes. Ye olde denialists haven’t recently been winning elections.

  • Lazar // March 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm


    I cycle to work, it’s about eight miles, and people call me mad. But I talk to the old guys who were working in the 1950s and 1960s, they say almost everyone was doing that, and much more, even thirty miles wasn’t considered far. That ain’t too long ago.

  • Phil Scadden // March 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Well if you are driving 4:1 highway/city then good for you not getting prius. I dont own hybrid though I would consider one when current vehicle is dead, but will be making choice based on the real data for minimal CO2 transmission and our driving miles. I also walk to work as do kids but unfortunately public transport isnt up to a lot of other needs.

    But getting back to averages - official US fuel consumption tests assume 55% urban use. In 1987 was 67% on average for US. Hard to beat hybrids in stop/go traffic so if you have to drive in those conditions, then I applaud people changing to hybrids.

    BUT - I still object that the way you wrote your post was to imply that a 4WD could beat a Prius. Maybe you misunderstood the article (which was also very misleading), but it seems to suggest you jump on anything with little checking that might support your world view. S

  • Lazar // March 5, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    As Barton shows above, increases in concentration will still effect heating rates in a non-isothermal atmosphere in bands which are saturated. In my model the integrated outgoing flux at TOA for 14-16 microns decreases slightly from 15.51 Watts/m^2 to 15.37 Watts/m^2, an overall atmospheric forcing of 0.14 Watts/m^2 for doubling CO2. There’s a major forcing though at the tropopause, with outgoing reduced from 14.87 Watts/m^2 to 13.90 Watts/m^2, which combined with an increase in downwelling from 10.33 Watts/m^2 to 11.23 Watts/m^2, gives a forcing of 1.89 Watts/m^2.

  • Phil. // March 6, 2009 at 3:02 am

    I have a Honda hybrid, there’s more to it than just regenerative braking and shutting the engine off at junctions. The Honda and Prius both have low drag coefficients ~0.26 compared with the average of about 0.3-0.35. Also has a CVT and an Atkinson cycle engine.

  • Deep Climate // March 6, 2009 at 3:13 am

    The original article about the BMW/Prius trip from London to Geneva appeared in the Times of London:

    I was struck by this passage:

    “The official fuel consumption figure for the Prius – supplied by Toyota itself – is 65.7mpg in mixed motoring. That’s a claim not supported by many of the letter writers to The Sunday Times who say they get nearer to 50mpg.”

    Jason Dawe, the Prius driver, got 48 mpg. But that was with only about one-fifth urban driving (at most).

    With a more realistic driving mix, surely the Prius would have come much closer to, or even beaten, the official figure. Maybe those Sunday Times readers who claimed to get similar efficiency to Dawe’s, spend a lot of time commuting between European capitals. But in the real world, the Prius would beat the BMW hands down for the vast majority of commuting drivers.

    For me, though, it’s all hypothetical. I ride my bike as much as possible (including a 16 km round trip to work).

  • Gavin's Pussycat // March 6, 2009 at 5:22 am

    Lazar, that your own software?


  • michel // March 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Yes, guys, you are right about Weart and water vapor, I did misread clouds for vapor in his piece. More about Arrhenius and feedback soon.

    On another topic, today we had an environmentalist throw some sort of liquid, I think it was green custard, in the face of a senior cabinet minister. That was her idea of reducing carbon emissions. Probably she had driven to the site in a Prius.

    Last month we had Hanson over here endorsing direct action that went rather beyond civil disobedience on a power plant under construction - well, guess he was doing that in the US too.

    Some of us are slowly starting to get angry about this stuff. Not about the prospect of reducing carbon emissions. Not at all. About idiots self-righteously posturing around the country while not reducing them.

    Sorry if I seemed to imply that SUVs are lower consumption than Prius, that is not what the article said and not what I meant at all. The BMW that was compared is an ordinary high performance sedan. My point was, and still is, that a Peugeot 105, diesel or gas version, gets close to twice the mileage of a Prius.

    So why the hell does everyone feel so self righteous when they buy Prius?

    This is urban + highway in any reasonable mix. We, when we drove more, used to do about 25% of our miles in urban. UK towns are smaller and you typically drive to one, park and then walk. Or we did. So you do a lot more miles on “main roads”. Not freeways, but continuous highish average speed roads.

  • Deep Climate // March 6, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I’m sure many of you recall Tamino’s classic analysis of the annual cycle in the UAH satellite-based temperature record here and here.

    As I’ve suggested before, the UAH annual cycle is clearly manifested in seasonal linear trends over the 30-year record. The trends diverge strongly and unrealistically.

    I finally have a reasonable post on this (I think).

    Comments and suggestions are welcome.

  • dhogaza // March 6, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    On another topic, today we had an environmentalist throw some sort of liquid, I think it was green custard, in the face of a senior cabinet minister. That was her idea of reducing carbon emissions. Probably she had driven to the site in a Prius.

    And, in Oregon, we had people in the timber industry shooting northern spotted owls, and in Wyoming.

    What does this prove?

    There are idiots everywhere.

  • dhogaza // March 6, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    sorry meant “and in Wyoming, grizzly bears”

  • Zeke Hausfather // March 6, 2009 at 8:36 pm


    Thanks for the interesting read. You should write this up somewhere more permanent as an easy resource for us to point to in response to some of the sillier arguments in the blogosphere. In the mean time, I’ll bookmark this rather unwieldy thread.

  • Hank Roberts // March 6, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Michel, so you confused water vapor with clouds, and confused BMW with Peugeot, and perhaps you’re confusing what’s available where you are with what’s available where other readers here live.
    It’s hard to tell. See if this helps:

  • Lazar // March 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Zeke & Gavin’s Pussycat,



    I thought scientists and everyone on the sane side are being put in a bind by demands for ‘first principles derivations’. Sounds short and simple, of course it requires reading textbooks or many, many papers. Then there is much harumphing that it can’t be found or provided. I thought if the problem were condensed it into a couple of pages of equations, a couple more of description, and simple, clear, commented code, and put on the web, it could at least be pointed to.


    For those who want to learn radiative transfer it would be useful to have a step-by-step description and working code to play with, alongside references to textbooks. The books I’ve read are comprehensive, but for creating an algorithmic description which starts with HITRAN lines and ends with layer fluxes, are very disjointed and it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. If I give the puzzle in place, then others can read the books to see what the pieces do. If that makes sense at all. The publicly available codes (e.g. FASCODE, GENLN2, LBLRTM) are massive state-of-the-art beasts, not very human readable, and not intended for education.

    So yeah, the code is only 800 lines Fortran. Very simple; no line coupling, no scattering (no clouds or aerosols), and Roberts 1976 continuum. Now I need to write the documentation and create a website.

    Thanks Gavin’s Pussycat and Tamino with the math help!

  • Ray Ladbury // March 7, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Michel, You are verging on the absurd. Quit worrying about what other people think and whether they feel self-righteous. You can’t control anyone but yourself, and if you worry about controlling others, you’ll fail at that. When it comes to humans, remember that if you aren’t getting the joke, then you probably are the joke.

    The Prius is a reasonable vehicle. In the US we don’t have the same sort of diesel choices you do in Europe. Honda is coming out with a diesel hybrid though, and that should be interesting. Hybrids are part of the answer. Diesels may be, as well. If one is better, it doesn’t mean the other is not good. We can’t afford to pick and choose. We have to embrace whatever will help buy time.

  • Gavin's Pussycat // March 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Lazar, I remember mostly pointing you in the wrong direction ;-)

    Firstly, what you are doing is very meaningful. One problem with climatology ATM is that it is “scientists against everyone else”. Compared e.g. to astronomy and space exploration, where there are many science lovers and amateurs on the side of the scientists. It doesn’t have to be that way.
    What you are doing is a small but meaningful contribution to changing that. Do you plan to create an interactive website like David Archer’s? Very much needed, especially if the code behind it is public.
    You are BTW completely correct in your identification of the mechanism of the CO2 doubling greenhouse effect: it is the outward motion”flanks” of the band trapezoid, not the top which is indeed saturated.

    BTW with a proper atmospheric temperature profile you would be able to show the stratospheric cooling as an “anti-spike” in the middle of the band, which would be a nice feature as it is an undeniable greenhouse fingerprint. You can see this in Archer’s simulator.

    At some point I was myself considering a write-up around all of this. Ah well. Life’s too short.

  • EliRabett // March 8, 2009 at 2:10 am

    FWIW, the US automakers took billions from the government in the 90s to develop a hybrid diesel. The program was something like Partnership for the New Generation of Vehicles. As soon as Bush won, they deep sixed it

  • Dan Hughes // March 8, 2009 at 11:23 am


    “On track to achieving its objectives, the program was cancelled by the Bush Administration in 2001 at the request of the automakers, with some of its aspects shifted to the much more distant FreedomCAR program.”

  • Lazar // March 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Gavin’s Pussycat,

    BTW with a proper atmospheric temperature profile you would be able to show the stratospheric cooling as an “anti-spike” in the middle of the band, which would be a nice feature as it is an undeniable greenhouse fingerprint. You can see this in Archer’s simulator.

    The spike was being obscured by individual lines. I’ve run a Savitsky-Golay filter over the results (I probably should do this for every plot) and compared them with MODTRAN [Fig. 10]. As you say there’s a spike in the middle of each band, and that is confined to the stratosphere. That is shown along with how the saturated portion cools a stratosphere layer whilst band flanks warm a troposphere layer here [Fig. 11]. In a plot of the absorption coefficient [Fig. 12] the spike is even clearer.

    Do you plan to create an interactive website like David Archer’s? Very much needed, especially if the code behind it is public.

    It’s a good idea. Umm… each layer takes about 5 minutes to compute and about 50M of disk space. It might still be possible. I’m coding a correlated-k distribution which will only take a few seconds and 1M per layer. It pre-computes the absorption coefficients for narrow bands (say 10 cm-1) at preset pressures and temperatures. Results are stored as a cumulative frequency distribution of the absorption coefficient. Then to calculate the transmission for arbitrary temperatures and pressures the files are interpolated and some mathematical magic applied. It’s very cool. Results within 1% of line-by-line.

    It doesn’t have to be that way.

    It’s very sad and annoying. Scientists deserve respect. They’ve done the toil. They’ve got results.

    As ever your comments are of great help.
    So, thank you.

  • Lazar // March 8, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Gavin’s Pussycat

    Here’s a plot of the (change in) heating/cooling rates throughout the atmosphere for 2xCO2; Fig. 13.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm


    For ten years I’ve been trying, on an educated-amateur basis, to write radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres. I have gotten pretty good results with most of them, but when I recently tried to get everything right for an Earth simulation — real absorption coefficients for four greenhouse gases and two types of clouds, cloud scheme, water vapor and ozone distributions, convective adjustment, etc. — I not only got temperatures that were too high, but the system doesn’t conserve energy! I get an absorbed flux of Fin = 237 watts per square meter and a radiated flux of Fout = 299 W/m2. And I can’t figure out why.

    I could really use help with this if you would be willing to look at it, or could point me to someone who can. I’ve been trying to get academics to look at it for years without success. I know they are busy people and have to mentor grad students and not random members of the public, but it’s very frustrating to have to figure out all this stuff on my own.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I should add that I don’t write spaghetti code — it’s all top down, with meaningful variable names, every variable declared and commented explicitly, plenty of blank space and severe indentation conventions. The code is in Fortran-95, but I can rewrite in C, Pascal, or Basic for anyone who is willing to look at this with me.

  • BBP // March 9, 2009 at 5:54 pm


  • BBP // March 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Are you seeing imbalances at every layer in your atmosphere? I used to know something about energy transfer and convection (at least in stellar envelopes), so I may be able to offer at least some suggestions.
    Unfortunately, with a 1 hour commute to my job and a two year old daughter at home I don’t think I would have much time to look at your code.

  • Lazar // March 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm


    Your grasp of physics is far better than mine, I’m just repeating others’ work. But there’s a chance I’ll spot something, so send me your code and I’ll have a look. Fortran-95 is perfect. You can email it to;

    lazaracflickr [at] yahoo [dot] com

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 10, 2009 at 10:52 am


    Thanks! It’s on it’s way. I really appreciate it.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // March 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm


    I think I’ve fixed it. I’m sending an email with the code and output. I had mistakes in the TraceFlux subroutine so I was calculating heating wrongly.

Leave a Comment