AGW: Oversold or not?

Kevin Vranes wonders if scientists have oversold climate change:

We wonder if we’ve oversold the science. We’re wondering what happened to our community, that individuals caveat even the most minor questionings of barely-proven climate change evidence, lest they be tagged as “skeptics.” We’re wondering if we’ve let our alarm at the problem trickle to the public sphere, missing all the caveats in translation that we have internalized. And we’re wondering if we’ve let some of our scientists take the science too far, promise too much knowledge, and promote more certainty in ourselves than is warranted.

Andrew Dessler says that the IPCC assessments don’t oversell the science:


Because assessments are written by literally hundreds of scientists, the biases of individual scientists tend to cancel out. As a result, they have shown themselves remarkably good reflections of the scientific consensus, and remarkably lacking in bias. For example, it is difficult to argue that the working group I report of the IPCC assessments has in any way oversold the science of climate change. The upper range of our climate predictions is indeed dire, but that, unfortunately, is what the data indicate — they have not been “sexed up” to push a preferred policy.

My view is that the statements of the scientific community (as represented by the IPCC assessments) are remarkably sound and not at all “oversold”. During the five days I was at the AGU, I did not encounter anyone who suggested otherwise — except for Dick Lindzen.

Lindzen was one of the authors of the NAS report on the IPCC TAR (third assessment report). The NAS report endorsed the credibility of the TAR, but Lindzen denied the plain meaning of the NAS report.

Comments

  1. #1 Eli Rabett
    December 27, 2006

    This is the simple Rovian attack against strength to establish a new meme, the guilty consensus. The fact is that there is a real consensus and a strong one. The fact is that this consensus has been under continual attack from a small group with strong ties to a political movement. First there was no such thing, then it was unimportant, now it feels guilty.

    Kevin Vranes has opened a new window in the Exxon AR4 Advent Calendar

  2. #2 QrazyQat
    December 27, 2006

    Kevin Vranes, Concern Troll.

  3. #3 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    I would be a LOT more inclined to believe that the threats of AGW have not been exagerated if someone on this science blog could explain how, within the laws of physics as we know them, GHG could have turned Katrina into a killer hurricane.

    I am not talking about proving it. That would be a huge statistical hurdle, one the tobbaco companies exploited for years. I am asking for a theoretical explanation of how it *could* have happened.

    Oh yeah, and what is the scientific basis for Al Gores 20 ft sea level rise by the end of the century based on current understanding of climate and sea level trends.

  4. #4 mgr
    December 27, 2006

    Moptop: what the heck are you asking? Attributing the characteristic of any one hurricane to a climatic process is confusing the data point with a trend. The prediction is that with global warming there will be a tendancy to greater numbers of hurricanes, and possibly of greater intensity. This has to do with Dalton’s Law of partial pressures–with higher temperature larger volumes of water may evaporate, the molecular weight of a water molecule is lighter than the ambient molecules (nitrogen and oxygen), and is therefore likely to travel with a rising parcel of air,l cooling adiabatically until it condenses at the ceiling of the troposphere.

    Reflect on this fact–that warm air of the same molecular weight with rise at a particular rate, how much faster it may rise if it is warmer and a lighter weight? Now with warmer air, more water can be held (it is not a linear relationship, but logarythmic [T to P(H2O)]. Can you see if you increase the water vapor, you increase a hurricane’s intensity? Can you also see where this may increase the frequency?

    As to Al Gore’s scenario, check out the Permian/Triassic extrinction event. See ttp://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/Palaeofiles/Permian/glaciation.html

    Mike

  5. #5 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    Ok Mike thanks for that. That is the kind of information I was looking for. Any order of magnitude “back of the envelope” type calculations as to the size of this increase in intensity of storms? On average, 1 mph in wind speed increase? 10 mph? If you say one to three mph what are the odds that such an effect could jump a catagory three to a catagory five, for example?

    In the popular press it is commonly asserted that GHG are warming the oceans in some significant way. Is this true? And if so, what is the order of magnitude of this increase?

    As to your link on glaciation. My question had nothing to do with what has occured in the past, and might occur again, especially given geological time scales, but what can be predicted reliably from *present* climate trends and measurments and the current level of understanding of the physics of the climate today. Your answer was no answer at all.

  6. #6 Eli Rabett
    December 27, 2006

    At base, cyclones, hurricanes are heat pumps, moving energy from a warm ocean to colder, higher parts of the atmosphere. That is why it cools after a hurricane passes. Global warming increases the sea surface temperature. A secondary effect, which can increase damage is that global warming leads to a higher sea level, which makes storm surges more damaging. You can find a somewhat more detailed summary here, with references

  7. #7 mgr
    December 27, 2006

    Moptop–you did not navigate around the site I take it. I am trying to get you to think beyond the idea that global warming is unique, but that it has past analogs.

    The processes driving the Permian Triassic transistion are the same as now except in reverse. We are in a period of glaciation. Thoughout the majority of the Earth’s geologic history it has been ice free.

    The science backing Gore is simply that ice will melt and water will rise; and that both may occur at dramatic rates.

    What is the amount of energy needed to convert ice at 0 degrees Celsuis to water at 0 degrees Celsius? Will that melting be gradual or catastrophic? What is the volume of ice at Greenland? At Antartica? If this were to melt, how high would the ocean rise?

    I’ve given you sufficient information to show that it’s very likely the scientists know what they are talking about, and that your likely error in thinking is that your world experience is a bit parochial. You need to observe, read, think, and reflect–it’s your turn to do the back of the envelope calculation.

    Mike

  8. #8 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    I found this in your link

    “The world’s oceans have absorbed about 20 times as much heat as the atmosphere over the past half-century, leading to higher temperatures not only in surface waters (e.g., depths of less than 100 feet) but also down to substantial depths, with the most severe warming occurring in the first 1,500 feet below the surface.”

    Now I have another question. How do GHG heat the ocean more than the atmosphere? Unfortunately, the footnotes lead only to abstracts.

    And what about sentences like the following:

    “This expansion, combined with the inflow of water from melting land ice, has raised global sea level more than one inch over the last decade. ”

    Hasn’t sea level been rising at about an inch per decade for thousands of years? Doesn’t this sentence imply that GHG are causing the entire effect?

    What proportion of that “inch” can be attributed to GHG?

    Doesn’t the article itself indulge in a bit of slight of hand on that point, perhaps making Vranes’s point?

  9. #9 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    “The science backing Gore is simply that ice will melt and water will rise; and that both may occur at dramatic rates”

    It is also true tha Betelguese is a red giant, and could go supernova at any minute. Perhaps it already has, and the massive doses of x rays have not yet reached us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse

    Or it might wait hundreds of millions of years. I was looking for something like evidence that this even is somehow likely to happen within the next 100 years.

    “I’ve given you sufficient information to show that it’s very likely the scientists know what they are talking about”

    No you haven’t. You have given me nothing of the sort. You have provided a scare scenario without any evidence based in observation of the present or recent past that its liklihood has risen due to the effects of GHG.

    “We are in a period of glaciation. Thoughout the majority of the Earth’s geologic history it has been ice free.” Gee, but we can rule out natural climate variation.

    I don’t want to argue over that last point, but please stop patronizing me by asking me to “reflect”. Behaps you should attend to your own intellectual albiedo before lecturing me on mine. :)

    If you next post doesn’t make any more sense than your last one, I am going to stop responding.

  10. #10 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    “What is the amount of energy needed to convert ice at 0 degrees Celsuis to water at 0 degrees Celsius”

    This is another example of scare mongering. The amount of energy required to effect such a conversion is not zero, or near zero, as your rhetorical formulation implies.

    More info here, if you want to ‘reflect’ further on the topic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melting

  11. #11 chrisl
    December 27, 2006

    moptop You need to observe, read, think and believe
    Remember: The antonym for skeptical is gullible

  12. #12 Eli Rabett
    December 27, 2006

    moptop, given the small chance that you are not a troll, let me first point out that it takes much more heat (energy) to warm water than air, per unit volume, or mass or whatever.

    Also, the ocean is directly heated by the sun, while the atmosphere is not (for all practical purposes, the only thing in the atmosphere that absorbs sunlight is ozone). The atmosphere is indirectly heated by the sun through the thermal radiation from the surface, including the oceans, convection and conduction.

  13. #13 mgr
    December 27, 2006

    Moptop said”‘What is the amount of energy needed to convert ice at 0 degrees Celsuis to water at 0 degrees Celsius’

    This is another example of scare mongering. The amount of energy required to effect such a conversion is not zero, or near zero, as your rhetorical formulation implies.

    More info here, if you want to ‘reflect’ further on the topic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melting

    You definately need to stop and reflect, since you seem to fail to realize that my point is that a rather large amount of energy is required to change the state of water from solid to liquid. And is it scaremongering to consider that ice, particularly glacial ice, has the property to melt and refreeze, until the heat of fusion is met, and it all can transform to liquid? Should you consider this in the possibility that although temperature rises, the ocean level has not yet? This is from high school chemistry for crying out loud.

    Patronizing is expecting folk with a science background to address your questions, as if you have a right to an answer, when the questions you ask are so open ended, to be open to myriad of interpretation.

    I have already explained to you how the ocean is the engine for global warming; and from that explanation you still cannot conceptualize how a rate might be derived, and now you ask Eli the same question?

    I thank you for wasting my time.

    Mike

  14. #14 Sam-Hec
    December 27, 2006

    “and what is the scientific basis for Al Gores 20 ft sea level rise by the end of the century based on current understanding of climate and sea level trends.”

    Having seen The Inconvenient Truth three times, Al Gore never actually gives a time for when the sea will reach +20ft.

    If you doubt, go watfch it on GoogleVideo: http://tinyurl.com/yeyndg

  15. #15 sam-Hec
    December 27, 2006

    that s just the trailerr btw. They seem to have taken off the full version.

    But there is a Charlie Rose interview which accurately describes such a sea level change as a ‘Wild Card’.
    http://tinyurl.com/y2opjt

  16. #16 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    “Also, the ocean is directly heated by the sun,” Uh, yeah, I asked about GHG.

    This is *not* an “open ended question”.

    What percentage of the 1″ sea level rise in the past decade, referred to by the link to the Union of Concerned Scientists you provided above, can be theoretically attributed to GHG? The link seemed to imply that one could attribute the entire amount to AGW.

    Lets forget the rest, I let my original posts stand. We are talking about exagerating the science. This is a specific example.

    As an aside.

    “Patronizing is expecting folk with a science background to address your questions, as if you have a right to an answer” — Mike

    ‘”Shut up!” he explained.’ — Anonymous

  17. #17 moptop
    December 27, 2006

    Sam-Hec,

    What then do you think of this article:

    “Global warming claims tropical island”
    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2099971.ece

    Would you say that this is “pushing the science?” It goes directly to my question about the amount of sea level rise that can be attributed to AGH.

  18. #18 Eli Rabett
    December 27, 2006

    mop, there is an old description by Pauli of your type: not even wrong. You don’t have enough information yet to even start talking about these things. However, there are lurkers.

    If you refer to this drawing, you see that of the ~350 Watts/sqare meter of solar energy, about 140 are reflected directly back to space, and about 15 W/m2 directly heat the atmosphere (again, mostly in the stratosphere, way up there). Essentially NONE of the solar radiation heats the greenhouse gases OR the atmosphere directly. Very little of the suns radiation is in the infrared where the greenhouse gases absorb light.

    The remainder, 185 W/m2 are absorbed by the surface, either land or ocean. The land and the ocean are heated by this and thermally radiate. Some of the thermal radiation is absorbed by clouds, some is absorbed by greenhouse gases. Some water is evaporated (latent and sensible heat). Those three things are what heats the atmosphere.

    Got that bucky?

  19. #19 Tim Lambert
    December 28, 2006

    moptop, your “Global Warming claims tropical island” link goes to a newspaper story, not a scientific paper. You should not believe it any more than you believe Monckton’s stuff, also published in a newspaper.

  20. #20 chrisl
    December 28, 2006

    So link to it Tim. Debunk it. You know you can. It is your oeuvre.
    By the way of AGW is oversold, it is just a matter of how big the backlash will be!

  21. #21 moptop
    December 28, 2006

    Tim,
    I guess that the reason I am sympathetic to the “oversold” argument is that newspaper articles like the above are becoming ubiquitous. Can you imagine a scientist getting a little queasy about whether his field is being drawn into disrepute when he constantly sees such dreck in the popular press?

    I was buying coffee in the local store and I heard a comment about how Greenland was going to melt.

    more of my continuing rant on “how to talk to a skeptic on GW”, skip it if you like

    I think that if those concerned about AGW took more time to point out that the more egregious stories seen around are no supported by the science, for example the island story above. Or extremely unlikely, like the “wildcard” of Greenland spontaineously melting, you credibility would rise among the open minded skeptic set.

    I am a skeptic largely because of the kind of obvious propaganda I see that apparently cannot be supported by the science. Incidentally, I do not believe that AGW is zero, nor do I believe that we should continue to build coal power plants, but the scare scenarios lose me.

  22. #22 Eli Rabett
    December 28, 2006

    Its a river delta island modumbo.

  23. #23 moptop
    December 28, 2006

    Eli Rabbit,
    Thank you for taking the time to compose an elementary restatement of the argument for AGW. You obviously put some effort into it. The problem is, your restatement of the obvious in no way answers my question.

    More rant, sorry.

    Questions skeptics ask:
    If it is so bad, why do you have to lie about it?
    If the planet is at risk, wouldn’t it be better to use nuclear power, and polute tiny portions of the planet, than to destroy the planet as a whole as a habitat for human life? Opposition to nuclear power in the US has put hundreds of millions of tons of C)2 into the atmosphere. Would you trade a wast disposal site in the deserts of Nevada to get that carbon back out of the atmosphere?

    Why not try approaches that will create large return in terms of CO2 recuction instead of focusing on economic attacks on the US? I am thinking about extinguishing coal mine fires, which are reportedly responsible for 3% of CO2 emissions worldwide. You could start with Burning Mountain.

  24. #24 Ian Gould
    December 28, 2006

    Moptop: Tim, I guess that the reason I am sympathetic to the “oversold” argument is that newspaper articles like the above are becoming ubiquitous.

    If they’re so ubiquitous I’m sure you’ll have no problem producing three other examples.

  25. #25 stewart
    December 28, 2006

    Moptop:
    again, assuming you are concerned but naive, you could review some of the following papers (Science will be in any university library, and they’ll let you right in);
    Here’s 2 papers on the Greenland ice-sheet, and how it seems to be responding to global warming (by both melting faster, and dumping ice into the sea more rapidly)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/311/5763/963
    and
    http://sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5579/218

    Come to think of it, your questions are regularly addressed and answered in generalist publications like Science and Nature, as well as in mass-market publications like Scientific American, available at any library or newstand. maybe we should ensure these are on our Christmas gift lists for family, friends, and know-nothings.
    On the non-troll-feeding side, I agree it’s clear that we’ve moved to the next stage, when folks say it’s oversold, that we need to talk about adaptation (Duh!)and try to say bigger things have happened in geological time. (Think the minimization of second-hand smoke effects). My house has been under 1000m of ice, at the bottom of a shallow sea, and in the middle of a large desert in geological time; all of these things lower property values, so I don’t want them to be repeated. Any update if the desert scenario is still the prime forecast for North America? Insecure food supplies could lead to more immediate dire consequences for us than short-term effects of warming. And how’s fire season coming along there, speaking of drought? Gippsland is prettier green than black.

  26. #26 stewart
    December 28, 2006

    And of course, I shouldn’t forget the corporate sponsors. Seed also has generalist science coverage (including global warming – follow the link to the new assessment by the Chinese government).

  27. #27 Barry
    December 28, 2006

    Moptop, there is an entire website devoted to global warming/climate change: http://www.realclimate.org

    It’s a very large reference site, with a huge FAQ. For basic questions, go there and read.

  28. #28 Antoni Jaume
    December 28, 2006

    Eli Rabett, I think the image at http://bp2.blogger.com/_0HiXKAFhRJ4/RXc2UOj9cqI/AAAAAAAAABw/RmRkhyTK450/s1600-h/radbud.JPG

    is mislabelled in Watts while the numbers are in calories/second

    DSW

  29. #29 Eli Rabett
    December 28, 2006

    Antoni, the intensity of the sun at the top of the atmosphere is about 1300 W/m2, but then you have to account for day/night and slant angle. By the time you get through, you have the 342 W/m2 not calories/second.

  30. #30 mgr
    December 28, 2006

    Boy, I must have fallen down the rabbit hole (sorry Eli), but the original impetus for the original IPCC assessment was to frame the manner in which global warming may manifest itself with sea level rise, from either melting or thermal expansion as a threat to island nations. The fact that inundation of a deltaic island may be a false positive or the first in a string of dead canaries is open to question, but this should not be seen as a manifestation of being ‘oversold’.

    One thing I should make clear to anyone who is skeptical about the science of AGW, (not the policy aspect), is what factor can you provide other than elevated atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide associated with the industrial revolution for the fact that climate has not cooled further since the Little Ice Age. The reason why paleo folk as myself embraced the CO2 model, is that when we ran GCMs for the past climate based on Milankovich Cycle, we came up with a good fit running back to the Eemian, but not when we ran it forward from the LIA. The greenhouse gas hypothesis worked to explain why cooling did not occur, and was further confirmed when included into similar GCMs.

    If you want to talk about the GG affects to climate being oversold, look to the paleo explanations for climate change based on CO2 outgassing, with little in the way of empirical data. But I don’t think this is what KV was addressing. (Moptop or modumbo–this is the fish you were supposed to catch).

    Mike

  31. #31 Dano
    December 28, 2006

    One thing I should make clear to anyone who is skeptical about the science of AGW, (not the policy aspect), is what factor can you provide other than elevated atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide associated with the industrial revolution for the fact that climate has not cooled further since the Little Ice Age.

    Mike,

    This presumes skeptics want to talk about issues and facts rather than talk about comforting lies to feed their denial.

    Best,

    D

  32. #32 garhane
    December 28, 2006

    Do you guys all live in a different zoo than I do, wherever you are, USA, Europe, southern deserts like Australia? Nobody who counts here doubts that AGW is, but most of us have not been educated as to what is to be done. No need to convert, and definitely no need to waste time on bored dilletantes, like moptop (isn’t that cute). There is a great need for pounding in what Stern has to say: what are the main items in AGW, what is to be done, what can be done on each of them, (are we to be diverted by some smart ass talking about cow farts?) How is it to be done. Are there places where it is being done, what is that like. Can it be done by existing institutions or not. I figure that is a big one since eco knows no boundaries while prettty well all our set ups and governing bodies are defined in a very non environmental way. Here in Canada we have a federal central set up with endlessly bitching sub parts (Provinces). Should we have one over-all authority to define regional ecologies and set up sub bodies to find ways to meet centrally imposed standards? Right now our federal laws sort of say After you Alphonse so that if a province makes a law the federal regime goes away and leaves the lesser body in charge.
    How do we make a region to meet a target? Can we usefully rely on experts or should we follow the old lawer’s rule about choosing juries: the first 12. If we use experts how do we structure a group of them, or should each one say what they think and have conventional politicians call the tune. An ecological region is not at all like the divisions of society we have known though it is not all that unfamiliar– we have the grasslands (Prairies) the Mountains; the Coast, and so on. But governance is not based on the eco tone and those who govern often have only enough climate knowledge to stick up a wet finger to check wind direction. There is a lot to figure on and not much time.

  33. #33 Brian S.
    December 29, 2006

    Just thought I’d mention that Kevin V. isn’t a concern troll or a denialist. While denialists have been using his post for their own venal ends, he’s just reporting his impression. His blog gives his viewpoint that AGW is real and needs action to counter it.

    Moptop’s kind of interesting in saying “no more coal plants.” That would be a tremendous improvement here in the US, and I suspect a number of other developed countries too. Maybe he could put some time into that.

  34. #34 Eli Rabett
    December 29, 2006

    You know Brian, that Eli does not rush to judgement, but he is kind of suspicious of Kevin’s relatives. For example, his advisor and presumed doctor father, the esteemed RPJ, claims that he does not know enough about Michaels and Singer to comment on their abuses, but, sure enough, you go looking a little bit and find that Singer gave talks at RPJs seminar course, Dad publishes regularly from way back with Pat and some other stuff. We see RPJ acknowledged as a reader on several papaers which deal with the ins and outs of Singer, Michaels, et al. Moreover, RPJ claims to be involved in Policy Studies, and arguable Singer and Michaels have had huge effect on the policy debate. Dad, of course, publishes like a tic-toc with Pat, knows him from the State Climatologist crew. One could go on and on and Eli has. RPJ’s claim does not even pass the humorless Greenpeace activist laugh test.

    On the other hand RPJ knows enough about Hansen, Trenberth and co. to don the harumph regalia and beat on them. In short, there is a certain element of cuteness out there, implausible deniability as it were. The Rabett used to hang around the carrot juice shop with policy types, ears wide open. The only way to understand these characters is to look at what they do and the effect of what they do. They carefully consider every word, including the and a.

  35. #35 Dano
    December 29, 2006

    don the harumph regalia

    Splendid framing.

    I shall start using the alliterative donned the denialist regalia.

    Best,

    D

  36. #36 JB
    December 29, 2006

    Eli said: “The only way to understand these characters [RP jr, and others] is to look at what they do and the effect of what they do. They carefully consider every word, including the and a.”

    …which means, of course, that they act (much) more like lawyers than scientists.

    Anyone who does not know what Eli is referring to here should visit Prometheus, RP jr’s blog. The rhetorical games are enough to make an English teacher’s head spin.

    Beware if you post. Be prepared to be led by Pielke along the “evolutionary argument” path, where an argument that starts out claiming one thing claims something entirely different (usually much more restricted) at the end.

  37. #37 JB
    December 29, 2006

    Brian s said: “he’s [Vranes is] just reporting his impression.”

    His impression?

    Well, isn’t that just special?

    The idea that Vranes would talk to a few people at a conference and then proceed to speculate about “sellers remorse” on the part of the climate science community is simply absurd.

    Such rubbish certainly does not deserve the kind of attention it is getting.

  38. #38 z
    December 29, 2006

    Meanwhile:

    Ice mass snaps free from Canada’s Arctic By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Dec 29, 12:17 AM ET
    TORONTO – A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada’s Arctic, scientists said. The mass of ice broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 497 miles south of the North Pole, but no one was present to see it in Canada’s remote north. Scientists using satellite images later noticed that it became a newly formed ice island in just an hour and left a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake.

    Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, traveled to the newly formed ice island and could not believe what he saw.

    “This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are loosing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead,” Vincent said Thursday.

    In 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice, he said.

    The collapse was so powerful that earthquake monitors 155 miles away picked up tremors from it.

    The Ayles Ice Shelf, roughly 41 square miles in area, was one of six major ice shelves remaining in Canada’s Arctic.

    Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in Canada in 30 years and point their fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.

    “It is consistent with climate change,” Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 percent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906.

    “We aren’t able to connect all of the dots … but unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role.”

  39. #39 richard
    December 29, 2006

    “The idea that Vranes would talk to a few people at a conference and then proceed to speculate about “sellers remorse” on the part of the climate science community is simply absurd.”

    I am not sure that it would be absurd for Vranes to do just that. Pop over to his blog and check the archives for his vaccine posts; he has inhaled a number of anti-vaccine theories as well.

  40. #40 JB
    December 29, 2006

    Makes me wonder:
    How did science ever survive for all those thousands of years before “science policy wonks” came along and informed us — based on their superior psychic powers — what the scientists are really thinking?

  41. #41 Dano
    December 30, 2006

    To illustrate JB’s point, let’s take this excerpt from z’s arty:

    “It is consistent with climate change,” Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 percent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906.

    “We aren’t able to connect all of the dots … but unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role.”

    RP Jr will harrumph something about Vincent having an agenda and go on and on about his paper he wrote saying scientists should never say anything but boring proclamations. Then someone will ask RP Jr what they can say and RP will link to another of his papers.

    Dano used to insist that RP should say what would be acceptable phrasing, so RP wouldn’t have anything to harrumph about. That is, until Dano couldn’t comment any more.

    Best,

    D

  42. #42 Ian Gould
    December 30, 2006

    “How did science ever survive for all those thousands of years…”

    This single phrase displays your total ignorance of the history of science.

    There was no science in the modern sense until about the 16th century – then it got its start when “policy wonks” started funding the likes of Tycho and Newton.

    It accelerated noticably when that noted policy wonk Tom Edison developed the modern research laboratory system.

  43. #43 Ian Gould
    December 30, 2006

    The previous post was made while I was hung over and operating on four hours sleep. It probably merits even less attention than most of my posts.

  44. #44 JB
    December 30, 2006

    Ian Gould quoted my question above

    ” How did science ever survive for all those thousands of years?…”

    and then said

    This single phrase displays your total ignorance of the history of science.”

    I see.

    Apparently the Greeks did not do any science thousands of years ago? ( more than two thousand at any rate)

    It’s news to me and undoubtedly to most historians of science as well.

    They may not have been doing science as it is done today, but they were certainly doing science.

    I suggest you try to get more sleep, Ian.

  45. #45 JB
    December 30, 2006

    No one was doing science thousands of years ago?

    The Greek mathematician/astonomer Eratosthenes must be rolling over in his grave to hear that.

    He calculated the circumference of the Earth by a quite scientific method that would probably pass peer review in scientific journals today — and his result was very close to today’s accepted value (within about 1%).

    And he did it in 240BC (that’s over 2200 years ago, by my calclaTIONS)

    But he clearly must have been cheating, because as everyone knows, no one was doing science way back then.

  46. #46 John Humphreys
    January 1, 2007

    Mike says: “One thing I should make clear to anyone who is skeptical about the science of AGW, (not the policy aspect), is what factor can you provide other than elevated atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide associated with the industrial revolution for the fact that climate has not cooled further since the Little Ice Age.”

    Can we really be so sure that the world would, cet par, be shifting further into an ice age? If we don’t know the counter-factual it is difficult to properly estimate our actual influence.

  47. #47 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    The chronology of past ice ages and interglacials is pretty well established. The current interglacial is starting to look unusually long so yes I think we can assume that something out of the ordinary has happened.

  48. #48 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    My last post was incorrect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Atmospheric_CO2_with_glaciers_cycles.gif

    From the chart it looks as though the current interglacial is probably only roughly halfway through if past cycles are any guide.

  49. #49 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    Most of the past integlacials have lasted around 20-30,000 years. The current one has lasted around 12,000 years so far.

    Now you obviously aren’t very bright, but I would have thought that was simple enough for even you.

  50. #50 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    Damn, just looked at the chart again and the past interglacials have probably averaged closer to 40-50,000 years.

    don;t you hate it when some total jackass proves the stopped clock theory?

  51. #51 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    Stopit: For starters fella. You have gotten CO2 on the y axis. Not any measure of ice cover.

    And time on the X-axis. Now see the grey areas labelled “integlacial”. Call me crazy but I think they might just be interglacials.

    Stopit: But take it from me. Interglacials last 6,000 to 10,000 years more typically. But its a little bit arbitrary being as they don’t have a standardised measure of when one starts and one finishes.

    No, sorry. I won’t “take it from you”. Back up your assertion.

  52. #52 Ian Gould
    January 1, 2007

    “The Antarctic Vostok ice core provided compelling evidence of the nature of climate, and of climate feedbacks, over the past 420,000 years. Marine records suggest that the amplitude of climate variability was smaller before that time, but such records are often poorly resolved. Moreover, it is not possible to infer the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from marine records. Here we report the recovery of a deep ice core from Dome C, Antarctica, that provides a climate record for the past 740,000 years. For the four most recent glacial cycles, the data agree well with the record from Vostok. The earlier period, between 740,000 and 430,000 years ago, was characterized by less pronounced warmth in interglacial periods in Antarctica, but a higher proportion of each cycle was spent in the warm mode. The transition from glacial to interglacial conditions about 430,000 years ago (Termination V) resembles the transition into the present interglacial period in terms of the magnitude of change in temperatures and greenhouse gases, but there are significant differences in the patterns of change. The interglacial stage following Termination V was exceptionally long–28,000 years compared to, for example, the 12,000 years recorded so far in the present interglacial period. Given the similarities between this earlier warm period and today, our results may imply that without human intervention, a climate similar to the present one would extend well into the future.”

    http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v429/n6992/abs/nature02599_fs.html

  53. #53 Chris O'Neill
    January 1, 2007

    “Can we really be so sure that the world would, cet par, be shifting further into an ice age? If we don’t know the counter-factual it is difficult to properly estimate our actual influence.”

    We know what the long-term trend was prior to 1850, Figure 3a of MBH99, or here if that doesn’t work. The trend was -0.02 degrees C/century from 1000AD to 1900AD. Given that today’s solar activity is not exceptional during the last 1000 years we would not expect any great departure from this trend based on natural factors alone. However, the twentieth century trend was +0.8 degrees C/century. I wonder what caused this sudden large departure from the natural trend?

  54. #54 guthrie
    January 1, 2007

    Stopit- realclimate is not an alarmist site, unless you ignore the posts they’ve had up pointing out that the people who say we’re all going to die next tuesday are wrong. Can you perhaps show us some evidence to back up your assertion?

    Oh, by the way, about solar activity in the past 1,000 years, the real climate article that Chris linked to says:
    “The 14C tree ring records indicate that today’s solar activity is high but not exceptional during the last 1000 years.”

    Which bit of “Not exceptional” do you not understand?
    The real climate article seemed to be linking to this:
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/raimund/publications/Muscheler_et_al_Nature2005.pdf

    I assume the bit you want to argue about is this bit, the last paragraph of the above linked article:

    “The reconstruction by Solanki et al. implies
    generally less solar forcing during the past
    millennium than in the second part of the
    twentieth century, whereas our reconstruction
    indicates that solar activity around AD 1150
    and 1600 and in the late eighteenth century
    was probably comparable to the recent satellite-
    based observations. In any case, as noted
    by Solanki et al., solar activity reconstructions
    tell us that only a minor fraction of the recent
    global warming can be explained by the
    variable Sun.”

    So, does Solanki say that only a minor fraction of the recent global warming can be explained by the sun? I’m sure, since you mention Solanki up thread, that you can provide some data on this that would clear things up.

  55. #55 John Humphreys
    January 2, 2007

    I accept that there has been a cooling trend in recent centuries which has reversed in the last century. However, cooling trends have reversed in the past without our intervention. I’m not doubting that humans contributed to recent warming, but without knowing the counter-factual (and I doubt that the climate will follow a neat schedule) it’s hard to know how much to attribute to humans.

    Ian… I assume (hope) that you were referring to somebody else (“you obviously aren’t very bright” etc). I’m guessing there was a mystery commentator who has had their posts deleted.

    Also, Chris O’Neil mentions +0.8c rise in the 20th century. I thought it was more like +0.6c?

  56. #56 guthrie
    January 2, 2007

    John, there was someone styling themselves “stopit”, who was getting unnecessarily abusive, although not so bad I would have deleted their posts. Thats who I was replying to.

  57. #57 JB
    January 2, 2007

    Danao said about himself “Dano used to insist that RP [Roger Pielke, Jr] should say what would be acceptable phrasing, so RP wouldn’t have anything to harrumph about. That is, until Dano couldn’t comment any more.”

    “Acceptable” for comments on Prometheus is anything that does not point out RP’s rhetorical gaming.

    Professor Rabett was also banned, presumably because he did not tow the Boulder.

    But we (the public) must guess here, because we were never given a chance to determine the reason for ourselves, since the offending Rabett droppings were conveniently purged by RP from his blog (presumably with a Pocket RPooper Scooper).

  58. #58 Eli Rabett
    January 2, 2007

    JB, you can read the whole strange story here The comments are worth going through to understand Eli’s point of view and that of several regulars on Prometheus. Prometheus lost something when the opposition was exiled but Prof. Pielke probably calculated the cost against the constant challenge. Blogs are the electronic equivalent of soapboxes in Hyde Park or Union Square (NY), hecklers are part of what attracts the crowd. The other simile for a blog is a tent revival, where you use the converted crowd to pressure the unconvinced. Why we left rather than accept Roger’s ukase can be found in the comment as well as why we were in opposition.

    There was an extended interchange between Prof. Pielke and Mr. Rabett that pretty much captures one’s attitude vis a vis the other and is probably also worth reading for anyone with time on their hands. It also marks the first pre-hysterical appearance of Ethon.

    In an amusing (to me, but then I have the standards of a dumb hare) way, Eli and friends characters carry the blog. Rabett Run with a real person would not be much too serious. As to whether it needs an R rating, well, although it was a bit before my time, my favorite comic has always been Krazy Kat.

    Eli promises to be a happy bunny for the New Year and wishes the same to all.

  59. #59 JB
    January 2, 2007

    Thanks, Eli.

    That is indeed a strange story — one that would make Lewis Carrol green with envy.

    All I could find on Pielke’s blog regarding the matter was an after-the-fact claim that you had made a “threat” which had led to the ban. I did not see the actual offending comment because it had been removed.

    Now that I have seen it, it confirms my original hunch: that the claim that a “threat” had been made was used as a convenient excuse to silence one of his critics on his blog (Prometheus) — and the promise to expose you (end your anonymity) was an effective (and convenient) way of ensuring that you stayed silenced

  60. #60 Eli Rabett
    January 2, 2007

    Roger could simply have banned Dano and me. That would have been straightforward and frankly I don’t think either of us would have much complained, viewing it mostly as his loss. As it is I play off the banning as a joke rather than a hardship or an insult. OTOH, we could have sailed in under cover, but what would have been the point of that?

    For a while Eli only posted the Google catch versions of Prometheus posts he wanted to comment on, but again, why bother going thru that.

    What is a bit wearing is the claim that Eli threatened Roger. Roger’s continued pressing of this claim is unworthy, but as in much else he depends on there being no follow up by the reader. Of course, he may be referring to this, but since Roger cut Eli off….. (It may also be that Eli overestimated the sophistication of the bunnies in the audience, that they would know the origin of the Thurber cartoon and the back story)

  61. #61 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    January 2, 2007

    For the record, Eli and Dano are both welcome to post on our site, neither is “banned.”

    However, comments describing gunshot wounds to the head using names that sound too much like my children’s names for my taste are unacceptable and will be removed and the authors put on notice. There is no problem offering criticism on our site, you’ll find some everyday. We very, very rarely disallow non-spam comments. Though many criticisms are far better than who my father new in the 1970s at UVA or who guest spoke at a class Peter Webster and I co-taught in 1998;-) Implied threats from anonymous posters (which Eli is no longer, apparently to anyone) are one of the downsides of blogging and I reserve the right to keep them off of our site. Other sites might have different rules.

    Just yesterday I offered to Eli a chance to resume posting, or even clear the air over at John Fleck’s, if he eschewed the violent imagery and posted under his real name (basically to ensure that any violations of decency are accountable to the real source) and he said “no thanks.” I am assuming that he is not really a bad guy (obviously), but this reaction to my offer speaks for itself, I think.

    As far as Dano, I’m not sure what he is talking about. He is welcome to post whenever he’d like.

  62. #62 JB
    January 2, 2007

    Roger Pielke said: “Just yesterday I offered to Eli a chance to resume posting, or even clear the air over at John Fleck’s, if he eschewed the violent imagery and posted under his real name (basically to ensure that any violations of decency are accountable to the real source) and he said “no thanks.”

    Who are you trying to kid?

    Given that you know he does not wish to (indeed will not) post under his real name (for reasons that he has made clear), making such an “offer” (that includes such a stipulation) is more than a little disingenuous.

    In fact, it looks downright convenient. It is very interesting (to me, at least) that the “incident” with Eli is what prompted your “Commenters must post using their real name” rule to begin with.

  63. #63 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    January 2, 2007

    JB- Now that Eli’s identity is broadly known, I’ve got no problem with him using his alias on our site. We’ve got plenty of commentors on our site using aliases. No worries there. You are welcome as well. Rules on content still apply. Thanks.

  64. #64 Eli Rabett
    January 2, 2007

    Roger, I had not a clue what your childrens names were. For that I apologize. Coincidence is often dire.

  65. #65 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    January 2, 2007

    Eli-

    Fair enough, apology accepted. I’m plenty happy to place that episode behind us and start fresh. Say no more.

    Keep the criticism coming, I promise lots of material for you to work with in 2007 . . .

  66. #66 JB
    January 2, 2007

    “Now that Eli’s identity is broadly known.”

    If that is indeed the case (and I’m not sure that it is, outside limited circles), I would be curious how (and when) that came about.

    Perhaps Eli can fill us in — not on who he is, but on how the bunny got out of the bag, so to speak.

  67. #67 Eli Rabett
    January 2, 2007

    It’s a secret that is not a secret. Not easily googlable but identifiable from style and previous postings and IP addresses and a lot more. The pseudonym started as more a firewall than a state secret which is why I am not particularly sensitive when “outed”. Also at some levels of interaction Eli thinks it only ethical to show who the fellow who feeds the rabett is.

  68. #68 Dano
    January 2, 2007

    Dano gives folk a taste of their own medicine. Some find it bitter.

    At RP Jr’s site (and Sr’s), I did two things: I started quantifying FUD phrases that commenters made in the Dano character way [after all, it was insisted that the discussion stick to serious issues], and I asked Roger to point the way to acceptable phraseology; the “FUD phrase” tactic was a little rough and Roger didn’t like it, so he changed his commenting policy. I’m not mad that someone runs their blog the way they see fit.

    We can see the Sadlovs and Hemphills and Clarkes et al. still purvey their FUD there, and we can see that, absent links to Pielke-authored .pdfs, there isn’t a plethora of examples given regarding who’s doing a good, non-harrumphable job.

    Sure, I can post at RP Jr’s as Dano but use my real name. Wow – how kind. Then I can expect my work to be disrupted for months by CA frat boy-like spam, bitter with widdle hurt feewings at the fact that Dano pointed out their questionable tactics in the same way they delivered it.

    But wrt AGW, at my level I don’t feel the need for urgency any more to point out FUD and where it comes from. Sure, it needs to be done, but the same characters say the same cr*p on line – it never changes. On the ground, I don’t hear FUD from anyone influential.

    No one at my level obstructs what I do with this FUD tactic. Sure, we can talk about national policy and all that, but I can’t influence at that level.

    I can only do what I can do, and I can do things down here.

    I say: let’s do what we can do where we are. Let’s sharpen our rhetorical skills with the shills and dupes who hang out here and at places like RP’s, and make things happen in our local jurisdictions. Speak at your local Council meetings, write an op-ed in a small paper, speak somewhere…

    Best,

    D

  69. #69 Ian Gould
    January 3, 2007

    “John, there was someone styling themselves “stopit”, who was getting unnecessarily abusive, although not so bad I would have deleted their posts.”

    Actually I almost wish Stopit hadn’t been banned – I was looking forward to hearing more about how peer review is a form of fraud.

  70. #70 Tim Lambert
    January 3, 2007

    Stopit was yet another one of Graeme Bird’s sock puppets.

  71. #71 Chris O'Neill
    January 3, 2007

    “However, cooling trends have reversed in the past without our intervention.”

    Long term trends in the past only change when there’s a cause. Given our ability to observe current causes, ones big enough to cause the change in trend are not likely to escape our notice.

    “I’m not doubting that humans contributed to recent warming, but without knowing the counter-factual (and I doubt that the climate will follow a neat schedule) it’s hard to know how much to attribute to humans.”

    Basically the natural processes that produced the trend in the past have not undergone any significant observed change.

    “Also, Chris O’Neil mentions +0.8c rise in the 20th century. I thought it was more like +0.6c?”

    I was referring to the Northern Hemisphere average as shown in MBH99 which has a little bit higher 20th century trend than for the whole world. MBH99 also takes a 40 year average which I used for the smoothed 1900 AD temperature. The usual global smoothed temperature in graphs such as wikipedia and NCDC use a smoothing period of 5 years which gives a peak around 1900 AD. The difference in 5 year averages between 1900 and 2000 is between 0.6C and 0.7C on these graphs but if you use an averaging period of 10 years to 40 years then the difference is about 0.03C more.

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