The IPA is the Australian version of the CEI, so you don’t have to read an article they publish on global warming to know what the conclusions will be. But you do have to read it to find out what pretext will be used to dismiss concerns about warming. In the latest issue of IPA review we find an article by two economists (Sinclair Davidson and Alex Robson) that attempts to spread confusion about the IPCC fourth assessment report.

The article is not online, but most of it is available here.

They start off by taking a leaf from Michael Crichton’s book — they change the vertical scale on the graph of global temperatures by a factor of 20 to make the recent temperature increase look smaller. I used the same technique on the temperature data from the Vostok ice core and ice ages turn into tiny little bumps.


Why do those silly scientists think the climate was different during the last ice age? Using the Crichton/Davidson/Robson method the temperature is not noticeably different.

Damien Eldridge also finds their argument unconvincing.

The second part of Davidson and Robson’s article is a bizarre claim that the “IPCC pulls numbers out of thin air”:

There are legitimate difficulties with the IPCC’s 90 per cent confidence in anthropogenic warming. It is not ludicrous to question what that number means. The IPCC seems to imply that this number results from a scientific process -that it has tested a hypothesis. Indeed, the IPCC tells us its understanding is based “upon large amounts of new and more comprehensive data, more sophisticated analysis of data, improvements in understanding of processes and their simulation in models, and more extensive exploration of uncertainty ranges”. If this is what the IPCC has done, it has very weak evidence. Ninety per cent is the weakest acceptable level of confidence in a hypothesis test. It is not clear from the Summary whether the IPCC has, in fact, undertaken such an analysis. It is more likely that it has neither a testable model nor data available for external researchers to replicate such a test. In other words, the IPCC’s 90 per cent confidence has emerged from scientists evaluating whether they think their own work is correct.

But look at what the SPM says

This Assessment considers longer and improved records, an expanded
range of observations, and improvements in the simulation of many
aspects of climate and its variability based on studies since the
TAR. It also considers the results of new attribution studies that
have evaluated whether observed changes are quantitatively consistent
with the expected response to external forcings and inconsistent with
alternative physically plausible explanations.

Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since
the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in
anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations12. This is an advance
since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over
the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in
greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now
extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming,
continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind
patterns (see Figure SPM-4 and Table SPM-1). {9.4, 9.5}


FIGURE SPM-4. Comparison of observed continental- and global-scale
changes in surface temperature with results simulated by climate
models using natural and anthropogenic forcings. Decadal averages of
observations are shown for the period 1906-2005 (black line) plotted
against the centre of the decade and relative to the corresponding
average for 1901-1950. Lines are dashed where spatial coverage is
less than 50%. Blue shaded bands show the 5-95% range for 19
simulations from 5 climate models using only the natural forcings due
to solar activity and volcanoes. Red shaded bands show the 5-95%
range for 58 simulations from 14 climate models using both natural and
anthropogenic forcings. {FAQ 9.2, Figure 1}

Despite the SPM including a graph that fills an entire page showing the results of tests of models, Davidson and Robson claim that it is likely that the IPCC doesn’t have a testable model. Davidson and Robson are taking denial to another level. They have also confused the IPCC’s more than 90% probability (what is the probability that most of recent warming is man-made?) with 90% confidence on a hypothesis test (what is the probability that a model with only natural forcings could produce half as much warming as observed?). The hypothesis tests that the IPCC refers to achieved levels of confidence greater than 95%.

It gets worse. Davidson and Robson also claim:

As an elementary textbook of statistics reminds its readers, with large data sets, confidence intervals have to be increased, so a 90 per cent confidence level would not then be valid — the hypothesis is falsified.

No, elementary textbooks of statistics do not say that. Mainly because it’s not true. A larger data set means that smaller effects will be statistically significant, so it is possibly that an effect could be statistically significant but so small that it is not practically significant. Furthermore, if a test does not achieve a specified confidence level, it does not falsify the hypothesis — all you can say is that there is insufficient data to draw a conclusion.

Sinclair Davidson is a Professor in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT. Alex Robson is a Lecturer in Economics at ANU. It is worrying that economists at Australia’s universities have such a poor understanding of basic statistics.


  1. #1 JP
    April 22, 2007


    Re: “I have to say that I am not impressed by climate scientists that publish temperature series that they have adjusted, but who refuse to disclose their data, methods etc to be examined and replicated.”

    These data are entirely public domain. If you want the data, you can buy the data from all of the national weather services that are part of the WMO. You will also find an extensive literature describing the methods etc.

    Then you can run your own independent analysis. Please update the world after you have completed your work.

  2. #2 z
    April 22, 2007

    “And as to the effectiveness of models, it seems to me to be similar to the models that predict the stockmarket. And given the relative simplicity of the stockmarket compared with the climate, I wish you luck in getting models that can accurately predict future climate conditions”

    Nonetheless, millions of people not only stick their spare money into the stock market on the basic premise that, while we can’t predict what it’ll be tomorrow, we have a pretty good idea how much it’ll go up in a decade; but win on that bet. Oddly enough, the ones who are the biggest bettors on that game being the ones who explain to us the impossibility of doing similarly well with climate.

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    April 22, 2007

    Trevor if one reads exactly what was stated the range the IPCC experts chose was GREATER than 90%, not to a 90% probability. Your constant mis-stating this subtle difference is indicative. Were you at all introspective and not dogmatic, you might be experiencing a bit of self doubt.

    And yes, we have heard about the Urban Heat Island effect, as has anyone who has seriously considered the issue of mankind’s effect on the climate. We also understand that what is measured are anomalies at each station, and that the UHI effect has been quantified by comparing anomalies at urban and rural stations. Do you know what an anomaly is? Someone gave you stuff to read.

    Do you know that climate is governed by physical laws and physical laws are more dependable and rational than people.

  4. #4 Robert S.
    April 23, 2007


    How did I get the figures? By reading the numbers in the table after pulling up the data.

    What was the temperature in 1880? The 1880 data point is -.16

    What was the temperature in 2006? The 2006 data point is +.28

    Since we’re talking about a difference between the start and end temperatures of .44 I just went ahead and rounded both up, -.2 to +.3 to get a difference in temperature of +.5

    The trendline for the period is from about -.41 to +.25 and that’s a different subject. The trend off average. Rounded it’s about +.7 The low is -.73 in 1893 and the high is +.6 in 2002. I’m not sure I can get any clearer.

    I’m still saying the same thing; nobody involved in spending the money cares if it’s a +.7 trend or a +.5 difference.

    If the temperature where you live goes from -5 to +34 in a year: .44 or .66 or .5 or .7 or 1 or whatever.

    As far as the other numbers, if you chart 0 W 53 N 20 E 44 S, which pretty much is the landmass of central Europe as far as I can tell, there is a trend of -.25 to +.25 (It’s closer to +/-.25 than +/-.2, which is what I originally said. But that’s Europe I’m talking about, not the globe.)

    That’s a low temperature of -1.99 in 1880 to -.57 in 2006 The lowest off average is -4.1 in 1963. The highest off average is +3.1 in 1975

    Time series: Temperature January , 1880 – 2006
    GHCN-ERSST Data Set
    Selected Region: Longitude: 0.0 to 20.0 Latitude: 53.0 to 44.0

    Trend: 0.07°C/decade Significance: 98.5%
    Point at the lineplot to see temperature anomaly values.

  5. #5 guthrie
    April 23, 2007

    Robert, your doing a good job of demonstrating why it is hard to explain this to ordinary members of the public.

  6. #6 Robert S.
    April 23, 2007

    LogicallySpeaking: I’m not saying the climatologists are wrong, nor am I saying I just have a gut feeling. I’m saying that to me, based upon the evidence, my opinion is the case appears to be overstated and rather alarmist. And there are others who say it also, and I happen to agree with the ones that say it.

    I agree WE are creating a lot of CO2. That is the one thing that’s certain.

    I agree the temperature’s gone up. If I assume that we can accurately measure within +/-.1 or whatever, and that the measurements are accurate and meaningful, then it is warming. I’d say that’s a fair assumption to make.
    (Although not something that’s for sure, right? Uncertainties. Most. Likely. Probably. It’s all over the place. A lot of “We think so, based upon what we know”.) But they’re probably right about it. Probably.

    I agree the models show there are possible or probable negative effects, and if we assume that with so many, some will be accurate, and if we also take it for granted the results will be in the middle of the range of possible results, if it happens, that’s a bad thing. But it’s not a given.

    I agree that there is probably a correlation between the CO2 levels and the warming; although it seems to me that given the concentrations, there should either be more warming, or that the rises and drops should be less variable and pronounced than I see them. No, I can’t prove anything. Who can?

    As far as the forcing of aerosols, I basically asked the rhetorical question “How much are they masking what’s really going on with the temperatures vis-à-vis CO2 in either a positive or negative direction?” I didn’t say they weren’t counted. I’m just wondering about their import (and how they affect the rest of the equation).

    I know the ranges in um that CO2 absorbs, not denying it, low end of the thermal infrared mostly.

    One question I have, which I do not consider unreasonable (and certainly others have asked), based upon what I consider to be a reasoned examination of all the factors involved in this huge complex system with many unknown or poorly understood mechanisms, that may be modeled incorrectly or not, is given the more reasonable estimates of the half-life of CO2, is it possible that the planet wants the amount of CO2 to be in the 400 range right now at this time? Or asking, does the warming trend continue as it has, or is it just getting to be where it should be? How about the possibility more plants and more temperate regions are a good thing? Or that if we weren’t warming things, we’d be going into some other normal cyclical event that would harm us?

    Are these unreasonable things to wonder about? I can certainly see how someone could come to the determination that it’s all bad, that the danger is present and immediate, and that action must be taken regardless of the costs. It seems at times that others are incapable of understanding others could come to a different conclusion. And it’s not just me, wondering, there are climate and climate-related bodies and scientists asking and wondering themselves. Not a lot, certainly, but they are there. Isn’t that what science is about, asking questions and searching for answers? I don’t know that Lindzen’s correct or not correct about clouds etc, or variously that Bray, Jaworowski, Singer, Hansen, Pearce, Stern, Gray, Romm, de Freitas, Pulwarty, Lomborg, Mann, Kolbert, Pilkey, Svensmark, Ball, Abdusamatov, Pielke, Michaels, Rowland, Horner, Akasofu, Christy, Carter, Balling, et al are correct or not about what they think or ask. I don’t know if the people here, at Real Climate, or which of the folks editing the global warming sections of Wikipedia are correct or not. There is not universal agreement, although it’s clear where the majority is on their thinking.

    To answer your question on modeling, I don’t know which feedback processes may or may not be given too little or to much weight. I don’t think anyone knows, there are just assumptions made based upon the information we have that may or may not be correct. I don’t put a lot of confidence in models, since many are so often proved (eventually) to be horribly wrong.

    Is there really any non-speculative or non-arguable way to predict the future based upon the past in any field? People have been trying to do that with food supplies vs. population, the stock market, and any other number of methods that sometimes look really really good — and don’t work at all. This may be the case, is that unreasonable to think, or even unreasable to ask?

    These are not my words:

    “…the observed difference between surface and tropospheric temperature trends during the past 20 years is probably real, as well as its cautionary statement to the effect that temperature trends based on such short periods of record, with arbitrary start and end points, are not necessarily indicative of the long-term behavior of the climate system.”

    “From the body of evidence since IPCC (1996), we conclude that there has been a discernible human influence on global climate. Studies are beginning to separate the contributions to observed climate change attributable to individual external influences, both anthropogenic and natural. This work suggests that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial contributor to the observed warming, especially over the past 30 years. However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing.”

    “The committee finds that the full IPCC Working Group I (WGI) report is an admirable summary of research activities in climate science, and the full report is adequately summarized in the Technical Summary. The full WGI report and its Technical Summary are not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers reflects less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change. This change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process in which scientists work with policy makers on the document. Written responses from U.S. coordinating and lead scientific authors to the committee indicate, however, that (a) no changes were made without the consent of the convening lead authors (this group represents a fraction of the lead and contributing authors) and (b) most changes that did occur lacked significant impact.”

    In any case, I hope I made my point on this. I am not convinced that it’s going to continue to warm, or that if it does, it will accelerate. Even if it did, I’m also not convinced 1 or 2 or 3 degrees off average is that catastrophic. And even if it is, we may run out of oil, radicals might take over the world and put us back into barbarism, a nuclear war, etc, might happen first. Or “they” may be right about 2012. Or a meteor might hit us.

    I am fairly confident that regardless of what the truth is or might be, the human spirit, ingenuity and technology will adapt along with us as we go forward, and it will all be okay. Obviously, many don’t agree with me. That’s fine, we all have our opinions on things that others disagree with.


    Remaining Unconvinced

  7. #7 Robert S.
    April 23, 2007


    I meant the margin of error in the yearly temperature measurements.

    The .7 is not in a century, it’s a century and a quarter. 1880-2006 trendline (fairly close to the .5 start and end temperatures) mean global average. I pulled them from the NOAA/NCDC figures that I’ve linked to a number of times.

    I agree with those scientists and researchers that think a) CO2 will not double and/or b) if CO2 were to double the temperature rise will not be anything like that order of magnitude and/or c) we don’t have models that are accurate enough to predict the entire system, and/or d) whatever warming we’re having is not bad, e) tc etc etc

    You don’t. I’m just giving my opinion on it. What’s the problem? Can’t I say “here’s what I think” and why and not have everyone act like I just burned down an orphanage? Why is it so difficult for you alarmists to understand there’s those of us that don’t think .7 is a big deal regardless?

    I may be doing a good job at showing how hard it is to explain to the public. I wish I was doing a good job at explaining that nobody really cares, so it doesn’t need to be explained.

    Everyone’s so busy trying to poke holes in my reasoning and highlight any mistakes to understand that some people who have looked at the data, understand the science and even agree a number of the issues (even if it’s just on a “probably” basis) don’t think it’s important; how is the typical person going to care about it?

  8. #8 Robert S.
    April 23, 2007

    Eli: When did I deny it was warming? Not being convinced isn’t denial. Is it denial to not agree with you that the warming is important or wonder if it’s going to continue, or know that it’s not a 100% certainty that we have the data correct? I’d agree with the 90% figure, which probably means it is correct — but I’m not so egotistical to proclaim it’s a certainty, because it’s not.

    I never said there’s been no warming since 1998 or anything near it, and I’ve never said it’s NOT warming. In fact, I have made it quite clear it probably is, that I think it probably is and I have provided the data. Then I commented upon it, not as clearly as I could have, certainly. I thought this was for a discussion of views and reasoning to learn, clarify and understand.

    That’s unfair. I didn’t just draw a line between two points; I gave the .5 difference between the two ends as well as the .7 on the trendline.

    What I would ask the professor is “Are you seriously telling me that providing you with my data, and explaining the information on it by stating the start and end temperatures, the high and low temperatures in the data, and the trendline rise two different ways is some kind of trickery?” Or “Are you kidding me? .5 vs .7? Are you telling me that .2C difference over 126 years is some kind of statistically significant number when talking about a global mean surface/air temp graph that isn’t even a certainty?” Then I’d withdraw from the class, since I doubt I’d be learning anything from somebody that gave me an F for giving three pieces of information from a chart that they are looking at.

    If your agenda is to implement your proposed solutions to what you think is a problem that demands immediate attention, you need to spend more time coming up with better arguments for Ms. Average and Mr. Ordinary and have discussions not attacks. Nit picking details is a great way to pound the table, but it’s not impressing me. And your target audience is not going to give you 10 seconds to try and humiliate and belittle them, they’ll tune you out, nod their head like they agree, and go along not caring about what you said. Because they don’t care.

    Noisy data is right; You are drowning out the fact I gave the .7 trend as well by ignoring it and using logical fallacies and debate tactics to hide it.

    In the future, I’d appreciate you not attacking me personally with debate tactics to obfuscate the issues, or by calling me a denialist, a perpatrator of a fallacy, stupid, needing to have things explained to me starting small, and deserving of an F.

  9. #9 guthrie
    April 24, 2007

    Because, Robert, merely giving your opinion is not science. My opinion could be that you are living on Mars. As a statement of opinion, thats all very well, but in relation to the facts that Mars has not been colonised by humans (leaving aside the conspiracy theories), the lack of internet access from Mars, etc, it is an opinion that is very unlikely to be correct.

    And so we come to the warming. The point is that your taking the last century and a quarter is illegitimate because of the fact that at that stage our CO2 emissions were not noticeably affecting the climate, in fact were completely negligible.
    What matters in this case is the last 50 years and our increasing CO2 output, and how we have started forcing the climate over that period. Then the picture changes from your rather blase 0.7 in a century and a quarter.

    As for the Earth wanting more or less CO2, thats a fairly nonsensical statement. The EArth doesnt want anything. What we have observed in the historical record (in the current interglacial), is that CO2 levels have oscillated around a level far below what we have made now. This suggests that actually when things are happening normally, without great human influence, given the current placing of landmasses and mix of plant and animal, the normal CO2 level is indeed much lower than just now.

    As for increased plants due to CO2, more recent field trials with CO2 have shown that in real life outside labs the effect is very small. Moreover, whilst some areass such as the Arctic may grow more plants, the spread of deserts in drier areas of the planet may lead to a decrease in biomass overall.

  10. #10 Ian Gould
    April 24, 2007

    “I may be doing a good job at showing how hard it is to explain to the public. I wish I was doing a good job at explaining that nobody really cares, so it doesn’t need to be explained.”

    Actually polls show acceptance of the AGW theory and support for immediate reaction running at 80% or more in virtually every country in the world.

    Perhaps it’s you and your fellow bitter-enders who should be asking themselves why they lost the debate so comprehensively.

  11. #11 Valuethinker
    April 24, 2007


    Actually the climate is relatively simple relative to the stockmarket.

    I worked as a professional economist, and have a postgraduate degree in an related discipline.

    Climate obeys *physical laws* which are well modelled in the lab and on smaller scale. So we know a lot about what happens to a body of gas if we increase the CO2 and water vapour concentration (answer: it blocks reradiated infrared light).

    Contrast that to the stock market. We don’t know if an increase in the money supply increases stock prices, or lowers them: a lot depends on how market sentiment will react. Similarly we don’t know if inflation is good for stock prices, or bad. Ditto unemployment. It is often the case that a company announces stronger profits, and the share price *falls*. Anyone who claims they can predict stock markets (let alone exchange rates) is spouting bunk.

    Add to the confusion: money supply is almost unmeasurable (the Fed has actually quit reporting many monetary aggregates). Inflation varies on how you calculate it (how do we price a Dell PC with 3.0ghz dual pentium and 2GB of RAM, vs. the cost of that same Dell in 1979?). So does unemployment (2 rival methodologies give Sweden unemployment of 5%, and 15%).

    It was guite a revelation to look at scientific models of climate, and realise there actually are modelling disciplines where the necessary simplifications make sense, are theoretically defensible, conform to well understood physical laws, and the practitioners know and admit the weaknesses.

    The main factor which we are beginning to get a handle on (Hansen’s famous prediction of the effects of Pinatubo, in 1991, which came true, of a 0.5 centigrade fall in average world temperature) is aerosol forcings. In particular, SO2 emissions have been masking the impact of our releases of greenhouse gases. Once Japan, the US and Europe cracked down on SO2 emissions in the mid 70s, that effect was lost (although China has picked up the slack).

  12. #12 Dano
    April 24, 2007

    I like the ‘bitter-enders’ bit.

    I’ve been using ‘dead-enders’ to show a similarity to the wargasmers in our country, but bitter-enders is so much more evocative. I hope you don’t mind, Ian, if I steal it. We can arrange royalties via PayPal… :o)



  13. #13 Valuethinker
    April 24, 2007


    It’s conceivable we will get some type of CO2 fixating algae bloom, in response to increases in world CO2 concentrations.

    But the speed at which we are increasing atmospheric CO2 is almost unprecedented in geologic history. It’s unlikely the natural environment will evolve that quickly. Even a 1,000 year delay, let alone a 10,000 or 100,000 year one, is going to be too late, for practical human purposes.

    And in particular we are destroying the rainforests, which are a huge natural carbon sink.

    A second, perhaps even more terrifying risk, is increased methane release from the permafrost, leading to ‘the day the Earth melted’. We know the methane is under the permafrost, and we know that if the permafrost melts, it is released.

    Interestingly, the latest studies in Siberia say that methane release is 4 times what we estimated.

  14. #14 guthrie
    April 24, 2007

    It was guite a revelation to look at scientific models of climate, and realise there actually are modelling disciplines where the necessary simplifications make sense, are theoretically defensible, conform to well understood physical laws, and the practitioners know and admit the weaknesses.

    I think you sum that up quite nicely. You can get a similar view coming from the sciences to look at the huge amount of variables in economics.

    As for an algae blom, last I knew iron was a limiting factor in their growth, and we don’t know what the effects of seeding the ocean to promote blooms will be. Those who want to try it don’t seem to have done any research on its effects that I have read about. (ADmittedly I am not that widely read perhaps)

  15. #15 Chris O'Neill
    April 24, 2007

    Robert S:

    “What was the temperature in 1880? The 1880 data point is -.16

    What was the temperature in 2006? The 2006 data point is +.28”

    I still don’t know how these numbers come about. My running of gives -0.22 for 1880 and the latest number is 0.51 for 2005.

    “The trendline for the period is from about -.41 to +.25 and that’s a different subject.”

    Indeed, and a rather more significant one, to say the least.

    “The trend off average. Rounded it’s about +.7 The low is -.73 in 1893 and the high is +.6 in 2002.”

    -.73 and +.6. More numbers whose source is a mystery.

    “I’m not sure I can get any clearer.”

    I’m glad you think you’re doing everything clearly.

    “If the temperature where you live goes from -5 to +34 in a year: .44 or .66 or .5 or .7 or 1 or whatever” is insignificant.

    I’m probably talking to someone who is deaf here but it doesn’t take anything like a -5 to +34 change in the average to have major effects on many things. For example, a 2 degree C warming causes coral bleaching of many reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Once the ocean average temperature is 2 degrees C warmer, these reefs will bleach nearly every year. Result: they will be permanently bleached and just end up as piles of rubble. A 3 degrees C (and probably only 2 degrees) average total warming will cause nearly all of Greenland to melt or slide off in a few hundred years. A 2 degree warming is about the same average temperature increase as occurs through moving 400-500 km closer to the equator at latitudes around 30 degrees. In the places I’m familiar with, there is a substatial ecological difference in native forests separated by 400-500 km of latitude in the same climatic zone. Warming by 2 degrees will take these forests out of the zones they were adapted to in probably less than the lifetime of individual trees. The Australian ski industry will be wiped out by a 2 degree increase in average temperature. A 2 degree increase is equivalent to raising the snowline by 300 metres. The vast majority of ski runs extend no more than 300 metres above the existing (very fragile) snowline. A 2 degree increase will have much larger effects on local climates than the effect of simply raising the average temperature, it can change rainfall patterns that have a major effect on agriculture. These are some of the more obvious effects of “small” temperature increases.

    And the issue is not that the effects of a 0.7 degree increase is all that we have to worry about. The issue is that the temperature WILL increase more, even in the humanly impossible event that all CO2 emissions were switched off today. The temperature will increase about 0.6 degrees more in this practically impossible event. Even with the very optimistic assumption that no further coal-burning power stations are built, existing ones do not have their design-lifetimes extended and oil and gas are consumed until they run out, the temperature will most likely increase at least another 1.3 degrees.

    “the human spirit, ingenuity and technology will adapt along with us as we go forward, and it will all be okay. Obviously, many don’t agree with me.”

    Strawman alert. No-one disagrees that humans are capable of avoiding carbon emissions if they want to. The issue is whether humans can control their greed to achieve this. Humans don’t have a great track record in controlling greed.

  16. #16 Robert S.
    April 24, 2007

    To everyone: I hope nobody’s thinking I’m trying to convince anyone of anything (except maybe that you need to change your tactics when talking to policy makers). I know all your minds are made up, just like mine is. You think it’s important, and I think it’s not. I’m just telling you why I think it’s not a big deal. Do I think it’s going to keep going up? To some point. And maybe it keeps going. We’ll never know. I’m curious to see what it will do until I die. And regardless of the support, 40% or 99%, the simple fact is, nobody’s going to do anything about it. It’s not greed, it’s a different risk/reward ratio than you have. Which, again, is why I say this won’t go anywhere unless you learn to think from the other side.

    guthrie: And that’s your opinion, too.

    Ian: You mean bitter-ender as the opposite to an overreacting-alarmist? What 80% of people believe doesn’t make true. From a policy standpoint the results are inconclusive enough. Just because some keep saying they are conclusive doesn’t make that so, either. you think you’re going to convince anyone with “we think probably maybe”?

    Dano: Ditto

  17. #17 Robert S.
    April 24, 2007

    Chris: Actually, I meant the variation in 1 single year, in someplace that goes from -5 to +35 (or whatever), say a city, compared to the total change in _either_ direction since 1880; that trend of .7 is dwarved by what happens in 1 year in 1 place.

    Of course the Earth doesn’t “want” anything, it’s not human. But things happen, and perhaps this is what’s supposed to be happening.

    I’m not deaf; I understand that a 2 degree change will make things happen, and you think those things are bad. (And they might be, I don’t know. So the reefs all melt or the glaciers all melt, or it’s 13 or 15 C on average. So? Tell me exactly what it’s going to do when that happens.) But it’s moot — it’s never been more than .6 above average.

    You think it will go over that. I don’t know what it’s going to do, but I certainly have admitted that looking at the figures, it certainly seems as if it will. You do notice I’m agreeing with you that the trend looks like it will keep warming, and I don’t think I’ve ever said it wasn’t. I have said it doesn’t mean the trend will continue, but can’t I make some “probably maybe we think so” predictions of the future myself? Or do you have to be Michael Mann or Richard Lindzen or somebody to have permission to make guesses?

    On the other hand, ’42 to ’72 had a certain look to it also. That’s a fall of .61 (numbers not trend) within 30 years. I mean, from ’78 to ’06 it went up, what, from average to .3 (numbers not trend) above? With all the carbon dioxide, it went up .3 total over 28 years?

    How the heck are we going to get to +2?

    Yes, yes, yes, I know, the trend is the only important thing, it tells us all.

    It’s not a strawman argument, it’s not an argument at all. My opinion is we’ll take care of it. But possibly we won’t. If it gets over the 1 degree above average mark, I might take it more seriously. All I see right now is noise around what what’s been a 1.5 range for 126 years.

    And if you chart that same variation on a CO2 graph from 280 to 380, the temperature covers up the 0 line (eg, graph the temp variation after adding 360 to it and 360 is your zero line)and that’s about it.

    Regardless, .5 vs .7 — I’d hardly call .2 C “significant” from an average of about 14 C You’re telling me to worry about 1.4%? of the total between .5 and .7? 1.4%? The measurements aren’t nearly anywhere near that accurate. It’s a thimble in a hurricane. Or is that a tempest in a teapot?

    And even so, okay, a .7 trend. Uh, 5% over 126 years is something to worry about? I just don’t get you guys.

    Where did I get the numbers? Rather than argue the numbers, go graph it. I said I was using the GHCN-ERSST Data Set in comments 109 and 198 both, so I would think you are also using that set. Which now goes to 2006 (+.28). If you are not using that data set, that would explain your confusion.¶m=Temperature&non=0&klu=1&proce=80&puzo=0&nzi=99&ts=6&sbeX=-180.0&sbeY=90.0&senX=180.0&senY=-90.0

    Or read their chart:

    2006 0.28 12
    2005 0.51 3
    2004 0.48 4
    2003 0.56 2
    2002 0.6 1
    2001 0.33 10
    2000 0.19 21
    1999 0.38 7
    1998 0.48 5
    1997 0.21 18
    1996 0.12 26
    1995 0.39 6
    1994 0.14 24
    1993 0.23 17
    1992 0.28 14
    1991 0.28 13
    1990 0.2 20
    1989 0.01 42
    1988 0.38 8
    1987 0.09 29
    1986 0.11 27
    1985 0.04 38
    1984 0.1 28
    1983 0.29 11
    1982 -0.0 46
    1981 0.36 9
    1980 0.14 23
    1979 0.01 43
    1978 -0.03 51
    1977 -0.04 55
    1976 -0.16 72
    1975 -0.0 47
    1974 -0.28 96
    1973 0.17 22
    1972 -0.34 106
    1971 -0.02 49
    1970 0.05 35
    1969 -0.21 87
    1968 -0.26 92
    1967 -0.12 63
    1966 -0.13 65
    1965 -0.15 71
    1964 -0.08 59
    1963 -0.05 56
    1962 0.0 45
    1961 0.0 44
    1960 -0.13 68
    1959 -0.0 48
    1958 0.27 15
    1957 -0.19 82
    1956 -0.27 94
    1955 0.02 40
    1954 -0.28 97
    1953 0.04 39
    1952 0.08 32
    1951 -0.35 107
    1950 -0.38 112
    1949 0.05 36
    1948 0.05 37
    1947 -0.19 81
    1946 0.08 31
    1945 -0.03 52
    1944 0.2 19
    1943 -0.13 66
    1942 0.27 16
    1941 0.06 34
    1940 -0.13 64
    1939 -0.06 58
    1938 0.02 41
    1937 -0.16 76
    1936 -0.2 85
    1935 -0.25 90
    1934 -0.29 98
    1933 -0.27 95
    1932 0.13 25
    1931 -0.04 53
    1930 -0.31 104
    1929 -0.45 119
    1928 -0.05 57
    1927 -0.19 80
    1926 0.09 30
    1925 -0.35 108
    1924 -0.26 91
    1923 -0.25 89
    1922 -0.37 110
    1921 -0.08 60
    1920 -0.13 67
    1919 -0.3 101
    1918 -0.33 105
    1917 -0.46 120
    1916 -0.2 84
    1915 -0.18 79
    1914 0.07 33
    1913 -0.42 116
    1912 -0.29 99
    1911 -0.52 124
    1910 -0.39 114
    1909 -0.58 126
    1908 -0.39 113
    1907 -0.4 115
    1906 -0.18 78
    1905 -0.29 100
    1904 -0.54 125
    1903 -0.19 83
    1902 -0.08 61
    1901 -0.23 88
    1900 -0.27 93
    1899 -0.15 70
    1898 -0.04 54
    1897 -0.16 77
    1896 -0.16 73
    1895 -0.48 122
    1894 -0.48 123
    1893 -0.73 127
    1892 -0.3 103
    1891 -0.37 109
    1890 -0.3 102
    1889 -0.14 69
    1888 -0.43 117
    1887 -0.43 118
    1886 -0.16 74
    1885 -0.48 121
    1884 -0.21 86
    1883 -0.37 111
    1882 -0.02 50
    1881 -0.1 62
    1880 -0.16 75

    Hope that helps.

  18. #19 Ian Gould
    April 24, 2007

    Robert S: ” To everyone: I hope nobody’s thinking I’m trying to convince anyone of anything (except maybe that you need to change your tactics when talking to policy makers).”

    “Ian: You mean bitter-ender as the opposite to an overreacting-alarmist? What 80% of people believe doesn’t make true.”

    You miss my point Robert – which is that the side that’s winning decisively in the public debate hardly needs to take debating tips from the side they’re thrashing.

  19. #20 guthrie
    April 25, 2007

    Robert, which particular bit is my opinion? I’m just going by science (2007). Maybe you are going by science (1980) or science (1890) or something. It is rather hard to tell. You have not come up with a single scientific argument, just a lot of opinionated handwaving.

  20. #21 Dano
    April 25, 2007

    Over at the old Quark Soup, there was a commenter there, similar to Robert but not as sharp. He’d throw out all kinds of goop as justification for his ideology too.

    When we’d show how his goop was cherry-picked, out of context, old, or simply wrong, he’d feign ignorage and change the subject. Then, two weeks later, he’d bring out the same discredited, cherry-picked goop.

    He’d do this so often I just started calling him lala (lalalalaaaa…I can’t heeeeear you).

    Once one recognizes it is all about the tactics (I see them called out just above), one can then skip over the comment, knowing the motive for the content is obfuscatory and mendacitic in nature.



  21. #22 Chris O'Neill
    April 25, 2007

    Robert S (man of mysterious numbers): “On the other hand, ’42 to ’72 had a certain look to it also. That’s a fall of .61 (numbers not trend) within 30 years.”

    According to , 1942 global was 0.04 above base level and 1972 was -0.05 relative to base level, thus a fall of 0.09 from 1942 to 1972. How Robert S gets his numbers is a total mystery because running his link:¶m=Temperature&non=0&klu=1&proce=80&puzo=0&nzi=99&ts=6&sbeX=-180.0&sbeY=90.0&senX=180.0&senY=-90.0

    once his error characters “¬∂” are corrected to “¶” (clicking on his link gives an error report) gives a set of numbers totally different from the ones he is feeding us e.g., the 2002 figure is 0.45 while Robert S feeds us 0.6.

    Considering how incompetent Robert S is with the numbers, it’s no surprise that he’s incompetent at understanding any other issue to do with global warming.

  22. #23 Robert S.
    April 25, 2007

    One question for everyone, why are we doing a linear trend and not a logarithmic one? (Seriously, I don’t know) Oh well, probably not important.

    Eli: Just because I don’t agree with you on the details doesn’t mean I don’t have a clue about climate, but sure, not an expert. I just think the current apparent warming’s danger is being overstated. (Is it so impossible for somebody to look at the same data you are and come to the conclusion it’s not as bad as some make it out to be?) But yes, I could be wrong. I don’t understand your agressive behavior just because I don’t agree with you on the details. Maybe if everyone spent more time coming up with solutions and answering questions instead, something might get accomplished in the climate sciences arena.

    Interesting graph, seen it before. Doesn’t look like anything to worry about. I could be wrong. (That’s a .6 trend from ’70 to ’06 or around the same 5% as 1880-2006)

    I see a lot of this being driven by the IPCC, but it seems a mainly political body that’s overstating the case to compel action, because there are many that feel as passionate about it as you do.

    And in fact, I have nothing against that at all.

    But they’re too obvious about what they’re trying in the first place, and I just don’t think they’re doing a very good job at compeling action, at least not right now. They seem to be getting better though.

    I know what the effects could be. I think you’re overreacting, but that’s just my opinion. But now it’s time for mitigation and adaptation strategies to be implemented according to a plan of action; sound policy decisions made according to how we can get the most done, in the least time, with the least expense. More than anything, I’m saying a poor job is being done with getting specific action taken. Too much emotion and not enough logic.

    Ian: Fair point. Raising fears with propaganda to get the masses reading all the news stories to worry about things (not that it seems much action is being demanded). Now that the public debate (I thought it was a discussion, but there you go) is over, all that needs to be done is something to get policy enacted. That’s the trick, isn’t it? Get the policy in place. That’s not debate advice, it’s a question of what you plan to do next, because nothing seems to be happening.

    I fully support reasoned, intelligent, worthwhile action on this, just in case it’s true. Not to the degree of urgency of course. It just appears that there’s too much arguing about details goes on. And competitive coversations like this one we’re all having.

    I have never said “The Earth is 100% for sure NOT warming.” nor anything close. I’ve said it probably is, haven’t I?

    If people that agree with all this in general get this type of treatment, how will anything get anywhere (not on the debate, on the implementation) with people in government, academia and industry?

    guthrie: That this is something to worry about is an opinion. What the import of the data is is an opinion. What’s not an opinion is that we’ve never gone warmer than .6 over average. I’m sorry, but I just can’t get excited about it.

    Try this: Get the Law Dome and Mauna Lua data (at CDIAC), graph it from 280 to 380 from 1832 on, which is pretty much the entire graph space, 280-380. Then graph the mean temp variation from the GHCN-ERSST Data Set globally from 1880-2006 by adding 340 to each data point and have a 340 line for the CO2.

    The region the temperature variation takes up, and the reaction of the temperature compared to the huge update in CO2, is puny. Yes, I know about CO2 forcing, and the lag, but why aren’t we seeing more of an effect? It’s still in the same 1.5 range it’s always been. Science?

    Also, look at the GHCN-ERSST for 2002 to 2006. Back down to +.3 Yes I know the trend line. I’m saying I am not concerned about a linear trend 5% (.7 of 14) raise over 126 years, nor with the same trend over the last 35. Sorry.

    dano: I’m not cherry picking anything. We’re talking global warming, I’m looking at data on global warming. Are you saying there’s something wrong with the GHCN-ERSST data? Something bad with the CO2 data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center? Am I mis-stating that we’ve never been more than .75 off average, ever? Should I be using another data set? Should I be graphing things from HadCRUT3 on a -.6 to .6 scale to accentuate a huge graph? You haven’t showed me anything, you’ve spent most of your time attacking me rather than answering my points, except by giving me the same information I told you I don’t agree on the importance of in the first place, over and over.

    Chris: Now that you’ve attempted to run me around and around so I forgot you never answered my question by acting as though my saying a winter of -5 and a summer of +34 in one year was instead saying the globe’s average changed that much, and by repeatedly asking me where I got -.73 and .6 and -.16 and .28 – and I’ve told you three times where they’re from, would you care to answer my question about why .5 or .7 over 126 or 35 or whatever years is something to worry about?

  23. #24 Robert S.
    April 25, 2007

    Chris, regarding your comments on the data:

    First of all, the blog messing up the link doesn’t make me incompetent. It didn’t work for me either.

    Second of all, I put the numbers in the message also, they’re right there to look at: 1942 0.27 16 and 1972 -0.34 106. (The third number is the rank.)

    Third of all, I’ve given the link 3 times now to the main page, all you have to do is go get them yourself since the link doesn’t work and the data is unformatted in the message.

    Fourth of all, here’s how to do it:

    1. Go to

    2. On that page, Time Series “Global” and “GHCN-ERSST” as the dataset.

    3. Click “Submit”

    4. Click “Create Graph” and wait. (The defaults are the lon/lat for the globe from Jan 1880 to jan 2006 on a line plot.)

    5. The chart will come up, interactive with numbers on the data points and the chart with the data points below that.

    Fifth of all, Your opinion on my understanding global warming or not is a meaningless non-sequiter. And you don’t seem to be having much luck with the numbers either. At least I know where to go get them, and I’ve told you. It’s certainly not my problem you can’t find them and it has nothing to do with me understanding global warming.
    (It’s trending +.7C above over the last 35 or 126 years, it’s around .3 above for 2006, CO2 concentrations has gone up around 100 ppmv since 1832, there’s more methane, the oceans are warming, the poles are melting, animals are migrating, vegitation is vanishing, UHIs are creating heat, there’s billions of people contributing to the environmental and ecological systems of the Earth, India and China are becoming major industrial powers, the US is performing research and mitigation methods but the Senate won’t ratify Kyoto, which nobody seems to be adhering too anyway. etc etc etc. What’s to understand?)

    Lastly, rather than details; Why is .7 C over 35 years something I need to worry about to the point where I have to make sure something, anything and everything is done, right now, no matter how expensive it is, no matter how small the impact it has, no matter how it impacts other mechanisms in climate, global and national economies, food production, and disease, and regardless of what other scientific research and projects are going to be defunded to pay for it.

  24. #25 JP
    April 25, 2007

    Robert S

    Lets try a different approach. Why is sea level rising? Why is the extent and concentration of sea ice in the Arctic declining? Why have huge amounts of timber been recently lost in British Columbia? Why is it difficult to get insurance for coastal properties on the US Gulf Coast? Why are many species experiencing changes in their range? etc etc

    This tiny insignificant amount of climate change that we have already experienced is responsible. If you want to know what is to come, begin by reading the Summary for Policy Makers (Working Group II, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) from the IPCC fourth assessment reports. You can download the file at

    After reading the document you may have some questions or comments, there are many that could help you and discuss. However, the shotgun approach is not very effective. Start with one point.

  25. #26 Robert S.
    April 25, 2007

    Thank you, an answer at last! “Most of us are 90% or more certain those events are due to the warming trend of .7” That sounds reasonable. (Although in the case of insurance, it’s probably because more people are building more expensive homes on the shores, and events like Katrina have happened)

    Now, if you’ll go back to my comment, 109, you’ll see I basically asked one multi-part question; what is the margin of error in the measurements in the data of GHCN-ERSST, is low-high of -.2 to +.3 troublesome, is the graph better at +/-5 and was falling from 2002-2006 to +.3 (or falling/rising some other periods) any more or less troublesome then those variations.

    Somebody could have just said something like:
    1. We don’t know the margin of error but it’s probably statistically insignificant.
    2. The high and low are not as important as the trend, which is .7 The .2 difference between the start and end of .5 to .7 is a large difference given the effects.
    3. “Simply” a .7 trend is bad enough, and is causing tremendous issues with the environment, but enough scientists think it will continue to grow even past that to make it as proven as can be with science. The 2 degrees they think it would rise would be catastrophic, and we can’t afford to wait to see if it rises 3 degrees in 50 years.
    4. What’s needed is rational and calculated steps to mitigate and adapt to these changes, and a rational and lucid conversations on the issues, the proposed solutions, and the costs, to assist policy makers in implementing sound policy.

    I guess I should have given somebody the opportunity to eventually get around to some kind of answer like that before posting more random thoughts. My fault.

    Anyway, in that case, if the prevailing opinion of those involved in guiding the consensus and involved in in producing the IPCC FAR is that the .7 trend is causing all the climate-related issues and it’s only going to get worse, than all of the discussions should be about how we get the people in power to do what the IPCC is suggesting, and to get rational, reasoned conversations going on how to best go about it.

    In reality, the truth of it is immaterial as far as that standpoint goes, as long as we’re not introducing unforseen consequences into the equation.

    What do we now do to mitigate and adapt to the warming? That’s all that should be important, right? No, I don’t have the answers, nor the questions. Nor is there anyone I can convince to take action. (Well, I could survey the public and find out 8 of 10 answer ‘global warming is real’ but won’t do anything about it.

    Hopefully, somebody will do something about it without doing silly things like spending a trillion dollars to freeze CO2 to make barely a blip in the concentrations or suggest silly things like killing half the humans on the planet.

    Here’s what’s not helpful:

    When people don’t agree with you, attempt to belittle them, and when it doesn’t work, don’t answer any questions, just put your fingers in your ears and sing to yourself, pouting. The policy makers see that, and that makes them not only not want to take action, it makes them doubt the entire IPCC process, and doubt there is any real scientfic consensus.

    This is not helpful either:

    I don’t see why .5 is a big deal.

    You’re an idiot, it’s .7 and you’re making your numbers up.

    I got them here, and okay, let’s go with the trend. Why is .7 a big deal?

    I don’t see where you got the numbers.

    Here. So what’s .7?

    Don’t you know what will happen if it rises 2? You’re an idiot.

    But it’s never gone over .6

    The trend is .7

    Okay, so how do we get to 2 when it’s just dropped .3 since 2002, when it was only .6?

    Don’t you know how many polar bears will die as they migrate out of land with a rise of 2?

    I thought we were talking about a trend of .7 over x years or something.

    It’s going to get worse.

    Probably. But maybe not.

    You’re a denier!!!

    I agree you’re probably right that it will keep warming, how am I a denier? But what’s .7, isn’t that a little alarmist?

    You obviously have no clue and are a bitter-ender.

    You don’t agree it might possibly not keep going up?

    You know nothing of science.

    Uh, what’s that?

    It’s a chart.

    Yes, it shows the same .7 trend over the last 35 years as it does for the entire 126 which is what I’ve bascially been saying.

    That’s not science, it’s your opinion.

    I’m just looking at the numbers. Anyway, again, I just don’t think it’s that big a deal.

    The IPCC thinks so, I think so, science thinks so!!!!

    Those are opinions also.

    You are obfuscatory and mendacitic in nature.

    Well, okay. Thanks for the clarification of your viewpoints on the importance and impact. Good luck with your getting policy implemented.

  26. #27 Ian Gould
    April 25, 2007

    “Fair point. Raising fears with propaganda to get the masses reading all the news stories to worry about things (not that it seems much action is being demanded). Now that the public debate (I thought it was a discussion, but there you go) is over, all that needs to be done is something to get policy enacted. That’s the trick, isn’t it? Get the policy in place. That’s not debate advice, it’s a question of what you plan to do next, because nothing seems to be happening.”

    You mean other than the three carbon-trading bills currently before the US Congress; the imminent release of plans for a national trading scheme for carbon emissions here in Australia; China adopting some of the world’s most stringent car emissions laws; and Great Britain has committed to a 60% cut in emissions by 2050.

    The policy makers are persuaded, apart from a certain delusional cowboy in Washington, they were persuaded 9 years ago when they signed the Kyoto Protocol.

    BTW Robert, I spent a decade as a policy officer in various government Departments advising government on various issues. I think I have a better idea than most of what’s involved in persuading policy makers.

    Oh and your misrepresentation of the tactics of the advocates of action to reduce global warming are wrong, vile and deeply offensive.

  27. #28 JP
    April 25, 2007

    Robert S

    In my previous comment, the main point that I was attempting to make was: what may appear as a very small change in climate can and does have substantial impacts. Many of these impacts are on the hydrosphere and biosphere. The same hydrosphere and biosphere that provide us with essential services.

    I will address one point that you raise. How much error is in the data set. The data you examined was a combined land and sea record. The sea temperature data (ERSST) are described in:

    Smith, T.M., and R.W. Reynolds, 2004: Improved Extended Reconstruction of SST (1854-1997). Journal of Climate, 17, 2466-2477. The paper is available on the NOAA website at:

    From the abstract: “The 95% confidence uncertainty for the near-global average is 0.4 C or more in the nineteenth century, near 0.2 C for the first half of the twentieth century, and 0.1 C or less after 1950.”

    Thus, there is less error in the data set in the most recent decades. The margin of error is small relative to the trend in anomalies. There is similar documentation available for the terrestrial data.

    There may well be many reasons why you seem to advocate for inaction. However, there is no lack of quality data on the march of climate change and information on impacts.

  28. #29 Dano
    April 25, 2007

    BTW Robert, I spent a decade as a policy officer in various government Departments advising government on various issues. I think I have a better idea than most of what’s involved in persuading policy makers.

    I do it now, Ian, with a different title but same tune.

    The decision-makers in the American West know global warming is helping to reduce our snowpack and helping to kill our trees, with vast economic impacts. They don’t listen to wingnut cr*p about .5 this or .7 that. That’s over, except for some loud bitter-enders on the Internets.

    The problem is finding good leaders with political will.

    One last bit:

    Last week I spoke at a business conference about what the future held for this area, and the limiting factor for most of us is water. We have a hard build-out.

    Now, these were big water users from back east, unfamiliar with the arid American West. So they listened. One guy in the audience tried to do the “AlGore is fat” routine after I explained about future water prospects, and that lasted about 4.06 seconds, until 3-4 of the others effectively told him to shut his yap.



  29. #30 Ian Gould
    April 25, 2007

    “Last week I spoke at a business conference about what the future held for this area, and the limiting factor for most of us is water. We have a hard build-out.”

    Don’t worry Australia knows all about that.

    Irrigators in the Murray-Darling have been told they’ll get zero-zip-nada water this winter since what little is left is all required for municipal water supply in the towns of the region.

    Oh and the South Australia government just had to deny rumors they only had one months worth of water left for Adelaide.

  30. #31 trevor
    April 26, 2007

    So, may this self-doubting sceptic (“Were you at all introspective and not dogmatic, you might be experiencing a bit of self doubt” Eli asks above) ask a question of you-all exalted geniuses who know all there is to know about climate?

    That is, I live in Australia, and I am very aware of the water crisis here. But can someone explain the relationship between AGW (assuming that it can be demonstrated) and water shortages? I don’t understand the relationship, but I suspect that it is more complex than saying that higher T means less H2O.

  31. #32 Ian Gould
    April 26, 2007

    Actually I think the people saying “although I have no qualifications whatsoever in climatology I know better than the entire world community of climatologists” are the ones who thnk of themselves as “exalted geniuses”.

    At the simplest level, water levels in waterbodies are determined by the balance between inflows from rain, catchments and groundwater and outflows from transpiration.

    Even if rainfall levels remain unchanged, higher temperatures are likely to lead to higher transpiration and therefore lower water levels.

    Secondly though, rainfall in a region is determined be a whole range of factors, such as the temperature of the oceans and ocean currents. Changing the balance between all those factors shifts rainfall.

    As a whole, Australia isn’t necessarily experiencing less rain in total – but rain in the inland west has increased dramatically in recent years – which isn’t much help to the MDB. Similarly, Brisbane has received above-average rainfall this year – but it odes us no good because we get our water from dams inland and north east of the city where rainfall has dropped dramatically. It only requires the rain-bearing winds to shift a few kilometres on average to miss the catchments where we get our water from.

  32. #33 Tim Curtin
    April 26, 2007

    Dear Ian

    You said: Even if rainfall levels remain unchanged, higher temperatures are likely to lead to higher transpiration and therefore lower water levels.

    What happens to what transpired up? does it never come down again? If not where does it go? could it be clouds’ cover and their cooling effect?

  33. #34 chrisl
    April 26, 2007

    Tim C : Another paradigm shift What goes up,stays up
    See also : tree rings are themometers

  34. #35 Eli Rabett
    April 26, 2007

    If temperatures increase and relative humidity stays constant, more will go up than comes down until a new equilibrium is established. Once more demonstrating for chrisl and trevor that it is not even what they don’t know that labels them but what they know they know that is wrong.

  35. #36 Robert S.
    April 26, 2007

    Ian: I didn’t mean to offend you, I appologize if I did. However, I wasn’t talking about advocate tactics in general. I was commenting on the nature of the discussion here, which I imagine is similar to how others are treated on other blogs. And comments have been directed at me here in an offensive way quite a few times. For example, Dano’s comment in #223, or yours in #204 to me, or in #226 to trevor, which I imagine is focused at me at least partially. “I know better than the entire world community of climatologists and therefore I am an exalted genius. My opinions are facts; proven, carved in stone, and the only possibilities.” I don’t think I ever said that, did I?

    Did you talk to policy makers like that when you were in the business?

    Bills, plans, committing to. China and their cars, well they had to do something, nobody wants all that pollution. Contrary to popular belief in some circles, countries usually do try to act environmentally responsibly on their own without having to be forced to; it makes sence on both health and economic fronts.

    In any case, most of the action being taken is directed by economics, politicians wanting to look like they’re doing something, or because of other practical matters, not necessarily or even because of global warming itself. Still it is action, and that’s all that’s important. I’d say in many ways, things are happening in spite of what WG II’s been saying and how the rank and file has been saying it, rather than because of it.

    Delusional cowboy? Hahahaha. That’s funny. Seriously, the US Senate under Clinton refused to deal with Kyoto on something like a 95-0 vote. It’s a poison pill for the US, nobody in their right mind there would agree to it.

    JP:You’re the kind of person that needs to be “talking this up”, it’s a way of “speaking” that is taken seriously.

    It still seems as if a rise of ~100 on CO2 should have more effect then it has: regardless of the effect even a “small” rise in temperature mean has it seems that rise should have been greater. (As in, the effect is one thing, the amount of rise is another issue)

    However, I suppose the absorbtion of CO2 into the oceans, the amount of plants that have been grown, and the effects of aresols (as well as certain other factors) has been masking a lot of the CO2 effects, at least so far.

    Two questions I have are

    1. Is it possible the rise in temperature trend is actually partially due to improving the EOM from .4 to .1

    2. Is it possible that the effects are being overestimated (or overstated) to the extent it makes people doubtful of the extent that mitigation is required, impeding progress rather than accelerating it?

    As an aside, I’m not really advocating inaction, I’m just saying I think we might be too hasty about it, and therefore might not be doing the correct things.

    Dano: All I asked was if the rise was a big deal, it’s others who started picking at the numbers rather than answering the question I asked. I spent all my time trying to clarify what I was asking based upon the nit-picking of others. Most of that conversation was not my idea, so if others don’t want to get into the details, don’t start a discussion on details. Not my fault.

    And geez dude, sorry you’re low on water, but that’s not my fault either. Maybe you should move to where there’s more water? I mean, I like the area around Alice Springs, but I wouldn’t live there.

    Oh, I forgot, you’re not listening to me any more. Never mind.

  36. #37 Robert S.
    April 26, 2007

    JP: In addition, as Dano wrote in #68 correctly, albiet in a condesending manner, the “society train” is already forcing a number of actions on this. (Given the idea of a society train, I have no idea why those on it don’t answer questions and instead attack anyone asking them anything as being a heretic. And they seem to have a strange way of ignoring those who “missed the train” it seems.)

    Anyway, a lot of these actions involving either mitigation, adaptation or both started a long time ago. This current bizarre focus on AGW, or the science behind it, as if they were important on their own; as if they were goals? It’s a distraction. What are the goals? A cleaner more efficient and self-sustaining environment, better sources of energy, a better understanding of the mechanisms by which the planet runs. Things of that nature.

    Take for example automobiles. The trend has been greater fuel economy and less emissions for quite a long time, based mostly upon economic factors. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that supply/demand and prices makes it make sense to lower the use of gasoline. It was clear quite a few years ago that harmful rain, quality of life, and the associated medical costs showed that too many emissions were a bad thing — polution, acid rain — and states have been dictating a number of mitigations far before anyone even put the letters AGW together. Each state passes laws based upon their own situation, with the federal government passing overall minimums for everyone. (Which is how it works now still — making this “Bush is doing nothing” mantra a little perplexing — That’s what the USDA, EPA, DOT et al do, which are created by the Executive branch, but operate according to directives from the Legislative branch. Since Congress is doing things, what does the Executive need to do?)

    The same thing has been happening with industry; the states have been regulating things depending on the factors in their states, and the federal government overall sets minimums. Business found out that it was bad PR, bad for customers, and bad for their bottom line to pollute, along with some help from fines and cleanup costs. So they got better at being green (and have since found out there are actually economic benefits to it, so have done more on the side of convservation and environmental friendliness).

    In fact, that’s why there’s all this talk on cap and trade, limits on CO2, carbon taxes and the like — there’s big big money in it. And business realizes it, and jumps on the bandwagon — bad news for all those that hate the “evil corporations” and their “obscene profits”. (As an aside, when an oil company makes 14 cents on a gallon of gas, the US and state governments make about 55 cents….)

    I do question what a “carbon tax” might do to the world economy, but that might be the best way to go, certainly a lot of the other methods are expensive also. But that’s another issue, an economics one.

    Anyway, here’s how strange this entire subject has gotten, given that there’s already so much going on by itself. The Supreme Court recently narrowly got involved at the policy level by telling the EPA the Clean Air act gave them the power to regulate “vehicle emissions for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons” because MA sued the EPA over it. (How the original 19 private companies that sent the EPA the 1999 petition mistook chloro- for hydro-, don’t ask me, but obviously the justices don’t know the difference between them either) Here’s the entire opinion, the EPA’s position, and the dissenting opinions. I thought it made for interesting reading, even though I’m not sure why they bothered with it.

    So basically 5 people told the EPA “You have the power to regulate this stuff, so relook this, and tell us if you think there’s a profound scientific uncertaintly.” and 4 people basicially said “It’s not our business, but even if it was, they already did say it.”

    “In 2006, carbon dioxide levels reached 382 parts per million a level thought to exceed the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at any point over the past 20 million years.”

    “A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related.”

    “… an essay requirement: “If,” the Court says, “the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so.” Ante, at 31. But EPA has said precisely that — and at great length, based on information contained in a 2001 report by the National Research Council (NRC) entitled Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions”

    Here’s the short and sweet of the decision:

    The majority opinion of the Supreme Court (5), in 3 parts

    1. States had the right to sue the EPA over the decision not to regulate GhG.

    2. The Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate GhG.

    3. The EPA must re-evaluate the contention it has the discretion to not regulate GhG.

    The dissenters(4), in 2 dissents

    1. Dealing with the complaints spelled out by the state of Massachusetts is the function of Congress and the chief executive.

    2. The court should not substitute its judgment in place of the EPA’s.

  37. #38 Robert S.
    April 26, 2007

    Here’s some of the work now being done, or questions now being asked, to make whatever it is we do, for whatever reason it is we do it, make the most sense.

    Los Alamos Nation Laboratory on sequestering carbon

    Costs of taxing carbon to economies

    USDA economics of sequestering carbon

    Pro/Con of sequestration

    US work on sequestration goes on (fact check — as a blanket statement with no qualifications, water vapor is the principal greenhouse gas. They probably meant carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas when it comes to forcing or that carbon dioxide has a greater effect by volume than equal amounts of water vapor)

    Japan plans to bury 200 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020, starting as early as 2010

    I almost forgot. Here’s some of the things the EPA, DOE and others are saying or doing already (given my comments about SCOTUS and Bush, etc)

  38. #39 guthrie
    April 26, 2007

    Ahh, Robert, your still ignoring everything we say.

    For starters, it is not an opinion that we are currently warming the planet with CO2 emissions, and that if current trends continue, it will be around 3 degrees warmer in 93 years time. Do you disagree?
    If you do, what evidence do you have to back you up?

    I couldn’t care less what your doing graphing temperatures. Your pulling numbers out your arse, as Donald says on the Lancet threads.

    Mind you, you do seem to have discovered thermal lag on your own. Thats a good start. Thermal lag is when you have heat sinks like the ocean retarding warming due to taking in all the spare heat. And what do you know, the oceans are warming!

    A question for everyone else- hands up those who think the only reason to keep talking to Robert is to prevent him spreading confusion elsewhere?
    *raised hand*

  39. #40 Ian Gould
    April 26, 2007

    Ian: I didn’t mean to offend you, I appologize if I did. “However, I wasn’t talking about advocate tactics in general. I was commenting on the nature of the discussion here, which I imagine is similar to how others are treated on other blogs. And comments have been directed at me here in an offensive way quite a few times. For example, Dano’s comment in #223, or yours in #204 to me, or in #226 to trevor, which I imagine is focused at me at least partially. “I know better than the entire world community of climatologists and therefore I am an exalted genius. My opinions are facts; proven, carved in stone, and the only possibilities.” I don’t think I ever said that, did I?”

    “Exalted geniuses” is a direct quote from Trevor at 225.

  40. #41 Ian Gould
    April 26, 2007

    Tim C: “You said: Even if rainfall levels remain unchanged, higher temperatures are likely to lead to higher transpiration and therefore lower water levels.

    What happens to what transpired up? does it never come down again? If not where does it go? could it be clouds’ cover and their cooling effect?”

    See El’s response at 229. Increasing the temperature will increase the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb water vapor.

    The majority of the water in the atmosphere isn’t in the form of clouds and cloud formation is dependent on far more than just humidity. Other relevant factors include the presence of nucleating particles; convection patterns and wind patterns.

    So yes Tim, some of it does “stay up there”.

  41. #42 Tim Curtin
    April 26, 2007

    Ian said at 234:”Increasing the temperature will increase the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb water vapor”. Indefinitely, or to how many ppmv before we drown?

  42. #43 Eli Rabett
    April 26, 2007

    It’s a big atmosphere and an exponential vapor pressure curve. More seriously the stuff hits the fan when water vapor sneaks through the cold trap at the tropopause and HOx cycles whack the ozone.

  43. #44 Dano
    April 26, 2007


    Oh and the South Australia government just had to deny rumors they only had one months worth of water left for Adelaide.

    We’re getting a spate of stories around here about the impacts of the state of Colorado cutting off water to irrigators. Just yesterday morning I listened to some guy out on the plains enumerating the economic costs and ancillary impacts of cutting off ag’s irrigation.

    All true. All because of no water. And no budging after the call to costs.

    And I just wrote my monthly report that included my presentation where I said there’s no water for big water users. We’re in a go-go County where permits pay the way and pave the streets with gold. My director had no problem with my being blunt to big business about water.



  44. #45 Chris O'Neill
    April 27, 2007

    Robert S:

    “Go to

    On that page, Time Series “Global” and “GHCN-ERSST” as the dataset.

    Click “Submit”

    Click “Create Graph” and wait. (The defaults are the lon/lat for the globe from Jan 1880 to jan 2006 on a line plot.)

    The chart will come up, interactive with numbers on the data points and the chart with the data points below that.”

    At long last we’re making some progress after I first brought this problem up a long time ago (but as usual was ignored). Robert S is getting the temperature series for Januaries, not whole years. If Robert S had been more familiar with old-fashioned temperature series such as the NCDC’s Global Temperature Anomalies, he probably would have noticed something funny about the data he used by himself. In any case he was talking a lot more noise than signal.

    “Why is .7 C over 35 years something I need to worry about”

    Like saying, “Why is the thin end of the wedge something I need to worry about”.

  45. #46 stewart
    April 27, 2007

    Guthrie, in #208 asked about CO2 sequestration via phytoplankton, after seeding the southern ocean with iron. Turns out that idea has been tested, and unfortunately, reuptake mechanisms are so efficient that dead plankton don’t vanish to the bottom, but get scavenged, so no sequestration. Here’s a link to description:

  46. #47 guthrie
    April 27, 2007

    Thanks Stewart, that url is very interesting.

  47. #48 Ian Gould
    April 27, 2007

    “Why is .7 C over 35 years something I need to worry about”

    Robert, you know how when you turn on an electric heater it takes time for the room to warm up?

    That’s thermal inertia.

    The Earth has a LOT of thermal inertia. About 80% of the increased hat from more greenhouse gases is absorbed by the oceans (and some of it is used up by additional water transpiring into the atmosphere).

    So it takes decades for an increase in net thermal energy to feed through into higher atmospheric temperatures, The warming we’ve seen to date represents the effects of carbon dioxide emissions in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    Carbon dioxide emissions have increased dramatically since then so we know there’s an extremely high probability that global warming will get worse (i.e. the rate of warming will accelerate) even if we start reducing emissions now.

    Furthermore, climactic extremes are also increasing. What kills people isn’t the 0.7 celsius average increase – it’s the heatwaves and droughts.

  48. #49 Tim Curtin
    April 27, 2007

    Thanks Eli (at 229) – but you have still not anwered the questions of (1) what the carrying capacity of the atmosphere for water vapor is in ppmv, (2) the current rate of increase of that water vapor, and (3) when will that limit be reached given your exponential increases in your answer to (2)?

  49. #50 trevor
    April 29, 2007

    Robert S: Just so you know: My reference in #225 to “you-all exalted geniuses who know all there is to know about climate” was directed to Eli, Mr Lambert, Guthrie and all of the others who are attacking you. I am on your side.

    I posted a post (censored) that said of all the posts in the above thread, one poster is calm, consistent, rational and objective (you). Because of that I doubt that this post will be allowed.

  50. #51 Tim Curtin
    April 29, 2007

    Ian said (at #243) What kills people isn’t the 0.7 celsius average increase – it’s the heatwaves and droughts.

    Like the coolwave I have just experienced in PNG, waking up in POM freezing to death at 1 am and being met in Western Province by people wearing jackets, unheard of in my time there, and with reefs exposed by falling sea levels? or the wettest April in the 8 years I have been keeping records here in Canberra? Did you ever hear of Joseph and his amazing technicolored dreamcoat plus 7 year cycles?

  51. #52 Tim Curtin
    April 30, 2007

    Eli: re mine at #244, I hope you are working on your response, as I need to know when I should buy a snorkel.

  52. #53 guthrie
    April 30, 2007

    Is Tim trying to make the point that more extreme and confused weather is not a prediction of global warming?

  53. #54 Ian Gould
    April 30, 2007

    I’m not sure what point Tim C. is trying to make.

    I fear that he isn’t either.

  54. #55 Tim Curtin
    April 30, 2007

    Guthrie: my questions are (1) what is the carrying capacity of the atmosphere for water vapor in ppmv, given that atmospheric H20 may well be increasing more rapidly than CO2? (2) what is the current rate of increase of that water vapor? and (3) when will that capacity limit in your answer to (1) be reached given Eli’s exponential growth rate for increases in the water bearing capacity of the atmosphere?

  55. #56 Dano
    April 30, 2007

    Shorter Timmy C:

    Guthrie: chase down my red herrings or I’ll accuse you of some bad words in order to boast I gained rhetorical advantage.

    Otherwise, ignore at will.

    Tim L: I use FF and reject cookies manually. For some reason, your particular blog on SciBlogs pushes 5 cookies with each hit on your blog.

    Cease and desist this nefarious practice, sir.



  56. #57 Tim Lambert
    May 1, 2007

    Dano, is this new? Do you get that many from other Sciblogs? The only thing that I’m doing that might be different is the sitemeter at the bottom of the page.

  57. #58 Chris O'Neill
    May 1, 2007

    “what is the carrying capacity of the atmosphere for water vapor in ppmv”

    As close to 1,000,000 as you like. “Exponential increase” refers to vapour pressure BTW but some people have not yet been educated in the difference between vapour pressure and ppmv.

  58. #59 guthrie
    May 1, 2007

    So Tim, are you trying to say (bearing in mind I am merely an interested member of the public) that water vapour increases are causing problems with the weather?

  59. #60 trevor
    May 1, 2007

    Re: #29: Thank you Eli for your patronising response. “Once more demonstrating for chrisl and trevor that it is not even what they don’t know that labels them but what they know they know that is wrong.”

    Facts. I am agnostic on the issues. So why don’t you respond to my question??

  60. #61 Tim Curtin
    May 1, 2007

    Guthrie (254). Yes, if CO2 increases that are minuscule and barely perceptible are outweighed by larger increases in water vapor, why are we not told about the latter by IPCC, who instead insist on ever more severe droughts acros the planet? The “Science” even tells us that water vapor is a more potent greenhouse “gas” than CO2 – but as we see here cannot provide answers to the simplest questions. Chris O’Neill’s response is to say that H2O could even reach 100% of the atmosphere without being inconvenient!

    Here’s some chemistry:

    With butane (C4H10), albeit before allowing for atomic weights, you have

    2C4H10 + 13O2 = 8CO2 + 10 H2O

    When will we drown a la Chris O’Neill? Why are CO2 emissions seen as more the culprit than H2O, given that the latter is already 3 times more prominent and even more potent than that as a GHG in the atmosphere, as well as growing more rapidly if Eli is right?

  61. #62 Dano
    May 1, 2007


    IIRC, I get 5 from sitemeter and 5 from sciblogs. FF allows you to apply your choice in the future, and I have, & I thought I’d pass on the info. I read 3-4 others here at sciblogs and yours is the only one that does this. If you wish I’ll enable cookies again and give details…



  62. #63 Dano
    May 1, 2007


    I am beginning to think the Curtin character is a parody character.

    Water vapor has increased by greater than 33% in the atmosphere. According to Timmy’s logic in 256. Maybe the clouds are following around the delusionists, because I don’t see 33% more water vapor in my atmosphere.

    There is strong evidence that the Curtin character is a parody character.



  63. #64 Chris O'Neill
    May 1, 2007

    “”what is the carrying capacity of the atmosphere for water vapor in ppmv”

    As close to 1,000,000 as you like.”

    I was, of course, referring to the limit set by the laws of physics, something that some people are blithely ignorant of.

  64. #65 Eli Rabett
    May 1, 2007

    Trevor, playing the victim bully is not a winning game with a bunny

    ‘victim bullies,’ who use claims of having been wronged to gain leverage over others.(pp. 123-4) Unlike simple passive-aggression, victim bullies use accusations as weapons, and ramp up the accusations over time. Unlike a normal person, who would slink away in shame as the initial accusations are discredited, a victim bully lacks either guilt or shame, honestly believing that s/he has been so egregiously wronged in some cosmic way that anything s/he does or says is justified in the larger scheme of things. So when the initial accusations are dismissed, the victim bully’s first move is a sort of double-or-nothing, raising the absurdity and the stakes even more……

  65. #66 Eli Rabett
    May 1, 2007

    Tim dear, use the Clausius eq and plug in

    dp/dT = p DHvap/RT^2 where p is the saturated humidity, DHvap is the molar heat of vaporization, R is the gas constant 8.314 J/mol-K and T the temperature in Kelvin.

    This yields the change in saturated vapor pressure per degree change in temperature. While not all of the atmosphere is saturated (little besides the marine boundry layer is), everything pretty much scales for constant relative humidity.

  66. #67 Lee
    May 1, 2007

    For the curious onlookers out there, here is a qualitative description, from basic first principles, of the point that Tim Curtin seems to be trying to obscure – indeed, in some ways, actively misrepresenting. The money point is at #7.

    1. Warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air – in Curtin’s language, the ‘carrying capacity’ of water vapor is higher for warmer air. This is simple basic physics.

    2. Water vapor can be measured in two ways: as absolute concentration in the air in parts per million volume (ppmv), or as relative humidity – the % concentration relative to the maximum that the air can hold.

    3. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas. The absolute concentration in ppmv is the relevant measure for the “greenhouse effect” of water vapor. Relative humidity doesn’t matter here – it doesn’t matter that the air is 50 % saturated with water vapor, it does matter how many water vapor molecules are absorbing IR.

    4. Relative humidity is the primary relevant measure for weather. Warmer air can hold more water, so if air gets warmer and has the same absolute water vapor concentration in ppmv, the relative humidity decreases. Clouds form at approximately 100% relative humidity (yeah, this is oversimplified a bit). The relative humidity is very important to weather, but the absolute concentration is relatively unimportant to many weather processes.

    5. Warmer air (say, from warming due to increased atmospheric CO2) can have a higher absolute concentration of water vapor (in ppmv) with no increase or even a decrease in relative humidity (in % of saturation). That is, there can be more water molecules in the air , but not enough more to actually stay at 50% of the new higher saturation concentration in the warmer air. There can be increasing atmospheric temperature, and increasing number of water molecules being evaporated into the air, while also having constant or decreasing relative humidity.

    6. Because of all this, warming from increasing CO2 can cause increased evaporation and increased absolute water volume in the air (in ppmv), and this will have the effect of amplifying the initial warming from the CO2. At the same time, the relative humidity might increase, remain the same, or decrease – it is entirely possible to have more water vapor in ppmv, causing increased warming, and simultaneously lower relative humidity causing deceased cloud formation and decreased rainfall.

    7. The amplification from water vapor is not a runaway positive feedback process. If it were, any local increase in water vapor concentration would lead to runaway warming, and the planet would long since have turned into a steam bath. It has not – this alone tells us that the gain on the water vapor warming amplification is limited. There are limiting mechanisms that cause the increase to tend to a new, somewhat higher ‘equilibrium’ for water vapor concentration (ppmv) at a somewhat higher temperature.

    7. Curtin knows this, and when he asks of the amplifying feedback “to how many ppmv before we drown?” he is being actively misleading.

  67. #68 Ian Gould
    May 2, 2007

    Not exactly on topic but seeing as Tim c. is reading this and he constantly insists there’s no possible source of baseload power other than coal and nuclear (except hydro; and biomass and geothermal and…)

    “Federal government awards a $7.4M grant for a baseload solar power project

    Australian company Wizard Power plans to build a oncentrating solar thermal power plant with integrated solar energy storage near Whyalla in South Australia. The project will demonstrate solar energy storage solution that, when combined with highly concentrated solar power, can
    deliver emission free, multi-megawatt baseload or on-demand peak electricity generation.”

  68. #69 Robert S.
    May 2, 2007

    Chris: That is an odd little thing to do there on the page, default to January only. Now I see that’s why it was so strange that everyone was telling me I was making up my numbers. I appologize I didn’t understand it defaulted to that; and I thought we might be not talking about the same thing. I’m not *trying* to make anything up or be anything other than transparent. Once you said that, it’s very obvious. And the chart is different, for sure. That said, if everyone wasn’t so adversarial, and had gone to the NCDC data and pointed out my error, maybe we could have avoiding all this pointless bickering….. Well at least next time, you can point that out and you won’t have to go through it again….. If I missed you saying I was only getting Januarys, I appologize for that also. I stand corrected, you were correct and I was mistaken.

    However, when I did all year, anyway, it’s actually less on two of the three. Sure, the temp now is .5 (instead of .3) but the trend line is .6 instead of .7 and the trend is .04 C per decade instead of .05

    I’m rather unclear how it’s impossible to consider that not everyone agrees at the import or draws the same exact conclusions as everyone else. Certainly there are a number of scientists and policy makers and panels that disagree, some of whom are like me, mainly agreeing with everything but a few points, and about exactly what actions to take.

    Ian: I am aware of the lag time as well as the ocean effects. And the role of clouds, and taken as a whole most all is water vapour, but it’s a feedback not a forcing, and CO2 and CH4 have a greater effect respectivly, etc. Yes water can hold a lot more energy than air. I’m quite aware of most of the science behind it. Am I an expert? No. Neither are most of the folks in the common population, who are your audience, if you’re trying to talk to anyone not on the blogs. I am not a denier, nor am I a skeptic. I’m just unconvinced this is a problem. It is 100% for sure warming, and the evidence points to CO2 is probably the major contributor, and we create CO2. Hence AGW. Plus no matter if it’s warming, or not, or if we’re causing it, or not (or in other words regardless) I still say we should take both mitigation and adaptation measures. So I am wondering since I am advocating action, why all the debate is about the details, and what exactly you think I’m arguing about from a science standpoint? I agree with you. We just disagree about the import.

    But I’m saying we should do something anyway, regardless! I just don’t understand the hostility. [shrugs] So again, if you treat people that basicially agree with you this way, how are you going to convince the people with the money……. *I’m* not saying I know more than climatologists, because I quite clearly don’t. I’m talking about policy here mainly.

    trevor: Ah, sorry, sometimes it’s difficult to see who’s saying what why about whom. Actually, I was commenting on what Ian said to you in 226! I should have written it more clearly “…or your comment [speaking to Ian] in #226 to trevor, which I imagine [Ian’s jibe] was directed at me at least partially” Thanks!

    guthrie: I’m not ignoring you. In #232 I’m just telling you all the work the US and some others are doing on the subject. (Sorry tho, I don’t know if The Age is liberal or conservative) For starters, the link between CO2 and warming has not be proven it’s what, 90%? Or guessed at being 90% sure? So yes, if you extrapolate, if we do nothing, and if everyone’s correct, and if current trends continue, and if no new technology or fuel sources come into play and if whatever, I’m sure it will rise 1-6 degrees at the high ends of some of the IPCC figures. I’m just not as sure as you are that all those trends will, in the next 100 odd years…. I think we’ll see some clearer signs soon. But in 100 years? We’ll all be dead! Or sooner, if oh, let’s say, hmmmm….. Nuclear war? I’m more worried about that, myself. But thanks for raising your hand at me and not your finger.

    Yes it’s warming! I never said it wasn’t.

  69. #70 Robert S.
    May 2, 2007

    Now I’m going to tell you my opinion exactly why nothing anyone says here or anywhere, “pro” or “con” or neutral matters in the grand scheme of things. We are “discussing” the wrong thing.

    I’m taking that since everyone’s ignoring the fact the US is doing a great deal of work on this “issue”, as I posted links to and then had the subject changed on, that you don’t think it’s enough for them to be doing on it. Okay. Fair enough. If I’m mistaken with my conclusion, that’s okay, sorry if I’ve miscategorized it. And in my opinion they’re doing more than the 20% of the CO2 they expel, and x% amount they sink actually calls for them to do to either adapt or mitigate to it.

    I’m taking it since everyone’s basicially ignoring that the “undeveloped” world is creating 50% of the CO2 and doing nothing about it, that it’s not an important topic. I’ll take it for granted, since it appears that way. Doesn’t matter, it’s really immaterial.

    Regardless of what you think of the United States, if they don’t do “anything”, nobody will. Plus, there are far too many people at all levels of industry, academia and government that will not do anything, not just in the US, but in every single country that makes up the “western world”, no matter what they say to the contrary. A massive PR campaign in Canada was needed to push them to Kyoto. If I remember correctly, at first even Australia was not going to participate. (And no, I don’t know the details of what arm-twisting was taken to make them.)

    That’s not important either. The US is never going to sign on to anything like Kyoto, ever. And I’m more certain of that than I am ambivalent of the rest of the case – because the rest of the case is not the issue. Under Clinton as president, the Senate rejected taking action 95-0 — BOTH parties. Since the US Senate (in case you didn’t know) has to approve any treaty, no matter who’s in power either in Congress or the Presidency, no treaty like Kyoto is ever going to fly with that kind of reaction from the US. I’m sure the rest of the world is enjoying blaming them, because then nobody else has to take the heat. Blame Bush, blame Bush, no WMD in Iraq, blah blah blah. PR.

    Further, although the Democrats hold a slight majority in the US House, they are currently unable to pass (not suggest) many of the seemingly meaningful regulations brought up, because not even they have unity on the issue (nor a clear mandate). They just have to look like they are doing something. The liberals in the US aren’t even buying into this, not if it affects energy. (They like refrigerators and central air themselves.) Add to that the fact that energy is the driver of the world economy, who’s going to slit their own throat by doing something wasteful with money that’s going to give their competitors a clear advantage? Yep, a lot of talk and no action. Even the US Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 vote, only told the US EPA to “relook the issue”.

    Forget all that even. The most influential conservative AM radio talk show host in the US (who probably has more listeners than, say, the entire population of England) is currently railing against AGW as being a bunch of BS. (I don’t agree science-wise, as I stated, at least not to that degree of certainty) There is no traction there, regardless.

    Add to that the most influential libertarian radio AM talk show host in the US is also calling it BS on a regular basis.

    I would talk about liberal AM radio talk show hosts in the US but there aren’t any. But if there were, they’d be silent about it. They don’t want it either — 95-0 out of about 50/50 conservative/liberal Senate vote, remember? And that was with Al Gore as Vice-President! If even his own political party is not agreeing with the points of his later Academy Award winning documentary, at least on an action basis, what chance does the future hold?

    There are simply too many people in the world that think this entire subject is about a transfer of wealth from those that are doing well to those that aren’t. You may think it’s all just “conspiracy theory”. Maybe it is. But belief and motivation is a powerful thing, no matter the truth. It’s all about perception and emotion.

    Oil is the lubricant that makes the world economy go around, and while some people complain about the power of the energy companies, they have a lot of money. They are going to drive the train. Period. As if anyone is going to willingly give up electricity, air conditioning, automobiles, plastics or the like. I doubt it. I won’t, and neither is anyone else. Al Gore won’t even! (Oh yeah, whatever he uses in his mansion, he’ll plant trees to soak up, uh huh) We have this amazing capacity to do what we want. Any of you smoke? Know what the science says about it? Yep.

    I don’t care where you live, it’s not going to happen. Economics is power and power is economics. Let’s say you cut the GDP or GNP of a country in half. That is going to affect every single other country in the world. Remember a few years back when there was a fire in 1 (one) resin plant of the 4 (four) that make resin for RAM. What happened? RAM prices doubled. So now businesses and consumers are paying more for RAM. Double whammy, now businesses that are paying more for RAM charge consumers more. Worldwide. This is a global economy.

    Why do I bring that point up? If you can’t chart the complex interactions on either a micro- or macro-economics level, how the hello do you figure out what the weather is going to do in 100 years? And how do you get everyone to go along with things like this?

    You don’t!

    {rant over}

  70. #71 Tim Curtin
    May 2, 2007

    Lee (#262): many thanks indeed, very educational (for me. I still think water vapor effects have been understated.
    Ian(#263): more of same (on storage for solar) in today’s Canberra Times. What are the costs per MWh including storage costs?

  71. #72 Ian Gould
    May 3, 2007

    Quote: A detailed study of a hypothetical 10 MWe baseload
    power plant in central Australia, has indicated that
    Levelised Electricity costs less that AUS $0.15/kW h are
    potentially achievable…

    The storage system is about as simple as any chemical system you’ve ever seen. Ammonia is dissociated by heat into nitrogen and hydrogen gas which are then stored before being fed into a reactor where they recombine exothermically.

    15 cents per kilowatt is obviously well above current generation prices (although much cheaper than current remote-area diesel sets). But it includes the storage cost so in theory you could sell the power for peaking demand.

    Of course, you’re avoiding carbon dioxide emissions. Generating s kilowatt of power from black coal apparently generated around 750 grams of carbon dioxide:,2144,2396828,00.html

    According to the IEA electricity costs in Australia were between $A0.08 (industrial) and A$0.13 (residential) – that’s converting into Australian dollars at US$0.75.

    Assuming a retail cost of solar-generated power of A$0.20, a consumer is paying a 7 cent premium to avoid emission of 750 grams of carbon dioxide.

    That works out to around A$93/US$70 per tonne of carbon dioxide avoided.

    You’d hope that cost would come down with time, due to economies of scale and further technological improvements but given that the supply of cheap land; sunlight and ammonia in Australia are all virtually unlimited, you’d be effectively putting a lid on all abatement and sequestration costs of $93 per tonne.

  72. #73 Chris O'Neill
    May 3, 2007

    Robert S: “and the trend is .04 C per decade instead of .05”

    There’s something a bit strange about that 0.04 C figure because 0.6 C in 125 years is 0.048 C per decade so it should still be 0.05 to one significant digit.

    Regarding trends, if you get the trend for 1880-1930 then it is zero degrees per decade and for 1930-2005 it is 0.07 degrees C per decade (the value says 0.06 but again that disagrees with the graph which says 0.07). On that basis there wasn’t much long-term warming until sometime around 1930. If you get the trend for shorter periods in the past then it usually keeps increasing the more recent the starting date e.g. for 1977-2005 the trend is 0.16-0.17 degrees C per decade. These observations are consistent with the fact that the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 is accelerating and hence the long term growth rate of global temperature should also be accelerating.

  73. #74 Robert S.
    May 3, 2007

    Right, yes. Well, as I said, of course more than likely CO2 is causing warming (at least to some degree), and we would expect more of the same. It’s certainly trending that way, and we are creating a lot of it regardless.

    I just don’t think long term that BAU is going to happen, and at least to me, the situation doesn’t seem static. It’s good that things are being done and there is awareness of it to the point where so many are becoming involved. Although since it’s all basically a loop, H2O as vapour, water and ice, CO2, O3 and CH4 all in some way feed off each other. Factor in solar variations, wind patterns, UHIs, deforestation, disolving vegetation, etc, it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s happening, at least to degree. We know a lot of this, and best guesses are probably mostly correct. How to nail it down to specifics is more difficult. :)

    We should reduce the amount of CO2 being produced and/or get rid of some of it, as well as increase fuel economy, decrease vehicle and industrial emissions of polutants, and work on alternative fuels. I don’t think anyone’s saying having a cleaner and healthier Earth is a bad thing! I think a lot of the biofuels and fuel cells are going to become more and more important, and that’s not a bad thing either.

    All in all, not doing anything at all is not an option, but rushing into things before knowing what unintended consequences are awaiting us could be worse than doing nothing, at least short term. It all boils down to not just money, but political will, as well as a general outlook upon things. We need to spend most of our time looking at solutions and not details….

    As far as the graphs, I think it’s simply removing the decimals rather than rounding. In a way, if you’re discussing long term trends, .05 or .06 a decade is probably close enough especially given that we’re measuring a global mean. How does that go in engineering? “If you care about the third significant digit of tensile strength, you are already in trouble.”


  74. #75 oconnellc
    May 3, 2007

    Chris O’Neill, I guess I have long since lost track of the graph that you and Robert S are arguing about. However, in Tim’s post here it looks like the long term graph of temperature has the warming starting sometime just before 1910 (as opposed to 1930). It sure looks like the growth rate from 1910 to 1940 was pretty similar to the growth rate we have had for the last 30 years or so. It appears to be a bit higher more recently than it was 100 years ago. Certainly less than I would expect given how much more CO2 is in the atmosphere now than there was in 1909. I would say that according to Jones, we have had pretty steady temperature growth for almost 100 years, with the “aerosol affect” period from 1940 to 1975 breaking things up in the middle.

  75. #76 Valuethinker
    May 4, 2007

    Robert S.

    Rush Limbaugh has a radio audience of about 10 million, so nowhere near the population of England, which is just over 50 million.

    Oprah Winfrey has an audience of something like 30 million, and she was talking about using energy efficient compact fluorescents on her TV show.

    Over to economic modelling v. climate modelling.

    I have a postgraduate degree in an economics related discipline, and have worked as a professional economist.

    The difference between the 2 subjects is that climate modelling is based on real science, that you can demonstrate in a lab. Real physical and chemical principles. There is no doubt that the models in climate science work as approximations of the physical world.

    (it’s actually easier to forecast climate than weather, because the chaos effects drop away over time, but that’s another issue).

    By contrast economic models are entirely based on assumptions. We don’t know what will happen if the money supply increases. To inflation, to the exchange rate, to labour supply.

    We *do* know what happens if you increase CO2 in an atmosphere, it blocks the reradiation of infra-red light.

    The climate science world was a real breath of fresh air when I first began reading about it: climate scientists know so much more about the physical world than we do about the economic one.

    And whereas humans are the most difficult part of any economic model, because they *adjust* their behaviour in response to policy, the climate just carries on regardless– the physical laws of the universe don’t change.

    The uncertainty in climate models should make one *more* cautious about dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, not less. Because there is a significant chance the models have missed feedback effects, and things are going to be much *worse* than we forecast.

    You don’t care about the symmetric ‘optimists’ case as much, because then you’ve just wasted money. But if we blow out the parameters of the models on the other side, we’ve lost our ability to maintain our civilisation.

    Uncertainty makes one more cautious, not less.

  76. #77 Chris O'Neill
    May 4, 2007

    “I just don’t think long term that BAU is going to happen, and at least to me, the situation doesn’t seem static.”

    Certainly not static. CO2 emissions are still accelerating. I don’t think BAU is going to happen long term either, but changing some time this century would be nice.

    “if you’re discussing long term trends, .05 or .06 a decade is probably close enough”

    While it’s nice to know that global warming a long time ago hasn’t always been very fast, it’s probably more important to note that the trend has accelerated to 0.16 degrees C per decade for the last three decades and is probably still accelerating.

  77. #78 oconnellc
    May 4, 2007

    Chris, I think you are right in that the warming has accelerated to .16 degrees C per decade. What has it accelerated from? Looking at that graph by Dr. Jones (I always think of the Nazis talking to Indy whenever I read “Dr. Jones”) it looks like from 1910 to 1940 it was about .13 or .14 degrees C per decade. I wonder what percent of each of those numbers is due to anthropogenic CO2? I wonder what the 95% confidence interval is around each of those numbers? Or 90% confidence interval?

  78. #79 Chris O'Neill
    May 5, 2007

    “it looks like the long term graph of temperature has the warming starting sometime just before 1910 (as opposed to 1930)”

    Indeed it did and there was also cooling from 1880 to 1908 with the net result being that from 1880 to 1930 there was neither long term cooling nor warming.

    “the warming has accelerated to .16 degrees C per decade…

    it looks like from 1910 to 1940 it was about .13 or .14 degrees C per decade. I wonder what percent of each of those numbers is due to anthropogenic CO2?”

    Have a look at the graphs at the top of this page and you’ll see how much the IPCC thinks is due to all anthropogenic forcings (figure SPM-4). There was very little net effect before 1950 so the global temperature variation until then was pretty much the natural variation. If this natural variation had continued, the earth should have gone back below the average of the 1880-1930 period at least for a few years but it didn’t go back down very much at all. Natural variation would give similar magnitude ups and downs but now the ups are much bigger than the downs.

    There is a graph in this article that shows how forcings (and consequently long term variations in climate) have varied since 1850.

  79. #80 oconnellc
    May 5, 2007

    Chris, once again, this is just boys talking over drinks… but looking at those graphs doesn’t really give me much confidence in the models. Pre 1950, there isn’t much agreement between the blue region and the plotted global temperature. At the beginning of the graph, the black line is either at the bottom, or below the 5% boundary of the blue region, and by some year (maybe 1940?) it is well above the 95% boundary. I don’t think I would place much stock in any conclusions drawn from that blue region.

    So, I’m looking at those graphs, and I don’t see anything that tells me how much of that pre 1950 warming is due to anthropogenic CO2. Nor do I see anything that tells me the confidence interval on the plot of the actual temperature. Did I miss something?

    Now, since the plots above don’t really show any data pre-1900, I will go back to the Jones plot that Tim posted for us. Looking at the plot of temperature and comparing the pre 1950 period, I have to differ with your claim that there was no net effect before then. Starting with the beginning of that graph, there certainly appears to be a trand from 1855 to 1910 where the temperature bounced around between -.3 and -.4 Then, starting at 1910, there was a pretty significant looking change. The temperature in 1950 looks at least .2 degrees warmer than almost any time in the 1855-1910 period.

    Regarding the forcings, that is a neat plot. But it is weird, the net forcings in 2000 is more than double the forcings in 1950, and way more than the forcing in, say, 1910. What am I missing? What caused the significant change in temperature in the first half of the 1900’s?

  80. #81 Robert S.
    May 7, 2007

    Valuethinker:You are correct, that was a bit of an exaggeration…. It’s something like between 10-15 million vs 50 million in reality. I guess I should have said more than the population of Greece to be more exact. Of course, like me, not everyone that listens agrees totally and some won’t at all. That’s still a lot of potential advocates. (I don’t know Boortz’s, but he’s syndicated on 179 stations).
    And yes of course climate is more of a hard science, but once you get past specifics like what the temperature is as an average in ocean a or amount of co2 from volcano b or city c etc, and try and get them all together with every single instance on a global scale combined with cloud effects etc, it becomes less pure science and more like economics a bit. It was more meant to be an analogy than a comparison (although not the best analogy I suppose).

    oconnellc: I wouldn’t exactly consider this arguing. :) But I think that’s what I’m saying, my eyes just don’t match the effects well enough to the causes to give me any kind of black and white feeling, just a gray opinion. But as I said, we should be doing something about it regardless, and it certainly seems to match.

    Graph, it’s the GHCN – ERSST, and just remember to change the end month to December…. :)


    Chris: Can’t argue with you there.

  81. #82 oconnellc
    May 8, 2007

    So, I went to the ncdc graph, and it is pretty handy. From 1910 to 1940, the trend was 0.12°C/decade Significance: 100.0% I’m not sure what they mean by “significance” in this context. For 1976 to 2006, the Trend: 0.17°C/decade Significance: 100.0%

    So, the rate now is .05 decade higher than it was 100 years ago. I must be missing something. The rate now is ~33% higher than it was 100 years ago. And that graph of Forcings from RealClimate doesn’t help much. The forcings are considerably higher now than they were 100 years ago. What is the difference? Why is the warming now due to Anthropogenic CO2, but 100 years ago it was natural variability? And why do we look at those blue bands and think that they can explain natural variability? Shouldn’t the temperature during the period when we are most confident that temperature is not affected by human activities be inside those blue bands?

  82. #83 Robert S.
    May 8, 2007

    I would suppose part of the answer to any of the questions is the data producing the graphs. Not everything uses the same set. Details are on various ncdc web pages or publications linked from them. Those pages and documents are the source of this information. I’m using GHCN-ERSST as an example, and this is what it looks like, if I’m summarizing it correctly.

    Anomalies are analyzed monthly by the ERSST.v2 method, where the low-frequency anomaly from a grid (1Xº by 1Xº) over 15 years is removed (Current web, 15º) (2004 SST PDF mentioned in #222, 10º), and the residual high-frequency anomaly is fitted to a screened set of spatial-covariance modes. Then high- and low-frequency results are added.

    GHCN is by 5º grids from monthly averages of the 2592 stations in the system having at least 25 years of data during the 1961-1990 base period. ERSST is 2º grid data from ICOADS (22 observed and derived variables) and averaged to a 5º grid to match the ones for land temps. Then both the data sets are merged into one, weighting land/sea depending on the land/sea ratio for that grid.

    So what we’re looking at is a monthly anomaly update of 72 longitude x 36 latitude 5º grids, and we’re looking at them all at once as a whole for both land and sea. The fifty thousand foot view so to speak; a general idea of what’s basically going on overall.

    Things that might be factors. Before 2005 for the GHCN data, it wasn’t the Anomaly but the First Difference methodology for the mean temperature grid (and in 2004, temporal interpolation with FD went from a 2 year to 10 year restriction on number of missing years allowed). So it seems before 2004/2005, anyone looking at the GHCN data was looking at something different than they are now. The sea temps have been available also in a 1º grid summary from ICOADS since 1960, so using that data instead of the 2º that ERSST uses might be a little different also. The “average global temperature” that anomalies are compared to is the base period of 1961-1990 (at least as of 1997; I do not know if they’ve changed). So we are really seemingly only comparing everything to that (or some other) 30 year period. That has a bearing on this data set compared to others, if they use a different period or length or data set or methodology. When you start mixing or comparing disciplines within climate science, it becomes more murky.

    This is what makes it sometimes difficult to know what’s going on; it depends on who’s using what data and how the data was prepared. Seems like there’s a lot of mix and matching going on, which makes it even more difficult to compare all the studies and reports.

    The question of significance, it looks like longer periods give more significance. (The GHCN people suggest if looking at individual years or less, or comparing regions, that you don’t use GHCN but rather individual station data.) No matter what areas I tried, 2, 5, 15 or 360º (85-100/35-50, 95-100/45-50, 98-100/48-50, -180-180/-90-90) a 15 year period of Jan-Dec was 97% significance but a 5 year period was 13%. Although it’s possible another area might vary according to year and/or with the size of the grid. (The 2 5 and 10º grids happen to be various locations in China and Mongolia btw, randomly chosen numbers for lat/long)

    One thing that does play into all this, besides knowing where the data is coming from (so if you’re looking at something where it’s different, you can know why) is confidence interval and margin of error. For the sea surface temps, that’s a 95% confidence we’re within a .1ºC average overall, for that base period. I could not locate the same information on land temps, but looking at the materials, and the nature of both the measurements and their complexity, I would imagine it’s a higher margin. So my answer your other question would be that it’s quite possible the .05º difference between .12 and .17 you’re seeing is the margin of error, alone or in conjunction with some of the other factors I mentioned above.

    I did find in the QC document on GHCN they link to that CLIMAT and (the less reliable but still used afaik) GTS temps differ from each other by as much as .5ºC That’s not to say the margin of error is anywhere near that of course, but also there are stations that only report data to the nearest half degree, transcription errors, broken equipment (missing data) etc.

  83. #84 Dano
    May 8, 2007

    Whatevah – this discussion is as old as the bread old Norm throws to the geese in the park.

    Society has moved on.

    What’s the best mixture of adaptation and mitigation is what people are talking about, and what’ll it cost?



  84. #85 Robert S.
    May 9, 2007

    Righteo, what is the best mixture of adaptation and mitigation and what will it cost.


    How about .5% of GDP of each country for each? For the US that would be $120 billion a year total, Germany $23 billion, etc.

    Or 80% adaptation and 20% mitigation, with a 10% increase in the money currently being spent?

    How about a 50% increase in R&D for related endeavors?

    What shall we do….

    I fear it will take quite a bit of time to come up with rational numbers and a reasonable effort. Ah, politics.

  85. #86 oconnellc
    May 9, 2007

    Dano, nice try, but it didn’t really help much. I still don’t understand how that plot of temperature forcings is supposed to explain anything about temperature trends in the last 150 years. I still don’t understand why anyone would think that that blue band shows any understanding of temperature changes. I don’t know why I have read many times that a symptom of AGW is nightime temperatures increasing faster than daytime temps, but the SPM says this is not happening. I don’t know why people who keep describing the consensus don’t refer to the IPPC chapter 6 discussion of the “divergence problem” and stating there is no consensus about “If true, this would imply a similar limit on the potential to reconstruct possible warm periods in earlier times at such sites”.

    Dano, society may have moved on, but it is just as likely that they have moved on to the discussion of how long Paris Hilton should be in jail. Your continued assertions that the intelligent among us are talking about other things really isn’t helpful.

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