Kilimanjaro and Global Warming

I’m surprised it took as long as a day for denialists like Patrick Michaels to gloat over the finding that the loss of the ice caps on Kilimanjaro – an example used by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth – has turned out to be from causes other than global warming (a more in depth paper).

But one thing they usually won’t mention when they quote these articles – how Kilimanjaro was the exception that proved the rule.

In an article in the July-August edition of American Scientist, Mote and Kaser also cited decreased snowfall in the area as a driver of melt because bright, white snow reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere; if there’s not new snow, sunlight gets absorbed and melts the ice.

The scientists say that other declining glaciers, like the South Cascade Glacier in Washington, would be a better poster child for the plight of glaciers in a warming world, which are indeed diminishing overall as a result of climate change. It’s just that Kilimanjaro is one exception to the trend. Government photographs taken from 1928 to 2000 have shown that the South Cascade Glacier lost half its mass in that time.

“There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of mid-latitude glaciers you could show where there is absolutely no question that they are declining in response to the warming atmosphere,” Mote said.

Why am I not surprised that they never seem to mention this part of the article. Hmmm. Anyway, the best overview of the problem I think comes from Geek Counterpoint:

Kilimanjaro has pretty much been used as a “poster child” for global warming by Al Gore & co. Meanwhile, climate change “skeptics” have used the data for Kilimanjaro’s natural thawing as supposed “proof” that climate change isn’t behind any glacier’s retreat. Essentially, both camps have fallen victim to their own versions of confirmation bias (you see what you expect / want to see…).

Amen.

Comments

  1. #1 Tulle
    June 13, 2007

    Couldn’t less snowfall also be caused by climate change? Is that not why they started saying climate change instead of global warming because more than tempature is affected.

  2. #2 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    Mark,

    You’re starting to remind me of Les Moonves saying Katie Couric’s low ratings are about sexism – as opposed to her ugly liberal bias, lack of interest in facts, and feminist tactics. What I mean is, you keep harping that GW is happening (which no one denies) while ignoring the important discussion of whether we need to do anything about it (which, it appears, we don’t.). As long as that’s your only arguement – and especially with silly Al Gore as your spokesman – you just won’t seem credible.

    We get it: GW is happening.

    Now, what else have you got?

  3. #3 Brian
    June 13, 2007

    Now I’m confused… when did it become apparent that we don’t have to do anything about global warming? I mean, i’m releaved, don’t get me wrong. I just missed that part, is all.

  4. #4 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    When I woke up, today, and saw the weather was different from yesterday,…most of us are used to that by now.

  5. #5 LanceR
    June 13, 2007

    Global Warming Deniers have 3 arguments:
    1. It’s not happening.

    …when they are challenged on that, they move on to…

    2. It is happening, but it’s not our fault.

    This is where Sam is now. When they are pressured on this they move to…

    3. It’s happening, and it’s our fault, but it would cost too much/be too difficult to fix.

    A line of argument that always reminds me of Bart Simpson’s “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove it anyway!”

    Lance R

  6. #6 Nobelle.net
    June 13, 2007

    One more Al Goreian is going down.
    You know. This is what I hate.
    A scientific fact becomes a celebrity and goes down as Paris Hilton.
    And we keep laughing.

  7. #7 Brian
    June 13, 2007

    “When I woke up, today, and saw the weather was different from yesterday,…most of us are used to that by now.”

    Thanks for clearing that up! Whew!

  8. #8 Maya's Granny
    June 13, 2007

    Why do people think it means that we have to do less when they discover that some of the effects have other causes? If some glaciers are already melting from other causes, then that is the basic rate and any man made melting is adding to it. We need to reduce the part that we can reduce, because there is this part that we can’t effect.

  9. #9 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    LanceR,

    “Global Warming Deniers have 3 arguments:
    1. It’s not happening.

    …when they are challenged on that, they move on to…

    2. It is happening, but it’s not our fault.

    This is where Sam is now. When they are pressured on this they move to…

    3. It’s happening, and it’s our fault, but it would cost too much/be too difficult to fix.”

    No, if you’re me, the next move is to say, “You think you can FIX THE PLANET?” Boy, that’s some set of balls on you. You can’t even stop pollution in Yosemite, or your own back yard, but you’re going to FIX THE PLANET?

    As Bugs Bunny used to say, “What a moroon!”

  10. #10 LanceR
    June 13, 2007

    “if you’re me, the next move is to say, ‘You think you can FIX THE PLANET?’”

    Isn’t that just a variation on “it would be too difficult”? More hand-waving ignorance doesn’t help the problem. Reasonable people can come to reasonable solutions when the head in the sand crowd gets out of the way.

    Lance R

  11. #11 Doom Shepherd
    June 13, 2007

    What stuns me is the hubris of man that we would be the majority influence on climate, and not the big thermonuclear ball in the sky. The statement recently by one of our climatologists that “the sun does not contribute greatly to climate change” was the single most daft thing I’ve heard in years. These “scientists” (read: weathermen) don’t seem to comprehend the sheer scale of power this little sun puts out: 38 billion billion megawatts of power…a second. It manages to influence our temperature by 30 degrees or so, night to day (dependent on humidity [water vapor being the most efficient of greenhouse gases, hydrogen-power fans]), despite our being 8 light minutes away through the best insulator known. The climate itself is such a large, complex interlocking series of systems that I seriously doubt the breadth of our knowledge or influence.

    What’s more “reasonable”: we broke the planet? Or maybe this globe is influenced by enormous, natural incidents? Wanting to not dirty your living quarters is reasonable, assuming a strong hurricane season or two, a few years of high or low temperatures is our “fault” is not. Unfortunately, this is more an issue of politics and funding — and for the public, faith — than actual science.

  12. #12 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    LanceR,

    Look up “hubris” in the dictionary. Then, look in a mirror. Same thing.

  13. #13 Sizlac
    June 13, 2007

    Doom,

    You do realize there’s this thing called “scientific literature” don’t you? It’s this amazing resource created by scientists who investigate our world and its surroundings.

    So when you say scientists don’t know about the sun or water vapor, you look mighty silly. See, you don’t get to be right because you “seriously doubt” things. Especially when your post shows you know nothing about the science which you so readily (and politically) dismiss.

  14. #14 MikeQ
    June 13, 2007

    “What I mean is, you keep harping that GW is happening (which no one denies) while ignoring the important discussion of whether we need to do anything about it (which, it appears, we don’t.). As long as that’s your only arguement – and especially with silly Al Gore as your spokesman – you just won’t seem credible.

    We get it: GW is happening.

    Now, what else have you got?”

    I don’t mean to be rude…wait, no, I do…but that’s flat out false, 180 degrees backward, 31 flavors of wrong. Lots of people deny that global warming is happening. I even know a few. Lots more people deny that global warming is a product of the industrial revolution and burning fossils fuels, i.e. human activity. I know even more of those.

    And lots of people are like you–Republicans, let’s call them–who believe that we don’t need to do anything about this eminently addressable problem.

    The Republican slide on this issue has been pretty appalling to anyone with a functioning moral compass and/or half a brain: first they said there was no global warming, and called Al Gore stupid. Then they said that global warming was happening, but that humans weren’t causing it, so Al Gore was still stupid. Now some are saying, OK, humans are causing it, but we don’t want to do anything about it because we don’t care about the consequences. Oh, and Al Gore’s still stupid.

    The day I’ll listen to a Republican on Global Warming is the day they apologize for every single one of their false statements on this issue through the past. They’ve dug themselves into a credibility hole it will take them decades to rise out of.

    So, frankly, we–those who recognize what a threat climate change is–don’t need any new arguments. We don’t need any new spokespeople. Those spokespeople and scientists have been pushing republicans back for years, and will continue to do so until we have realistic and farsighted legislation in place to combat global warming. Al Gore’s not stupid, he’s been right all along. And if you look at how the Republicans are now loosing this debate, it looks like he’ll be even more right in the future.

  15. #15 MikeQ
    June 13, 2007

    Hey Doom, that’s a lot of purty lookin’ numbers you’ve got there, but didn’t you miss just one little thing? The geological record records no warming as extreme as what we’re experiencing now. Further, an argument from complexity actually weakens the argument that global warming isn’t occurring, because complex interrelated systems that display stability over time tend to have large buffers resistant to change. So the fact that the world is heating up fast, even with a complex system in place, and that hasn’t happened before suggests that A) the sun ain’t doing it and B) something else, like us, is involved.

    Further, yes, the sun puts out a lot of power, but it’s very constant power, as is our distance from the sun. Milankovich cycles have yet to be proved to be the cause of ice ages, much less of global warming.

    So not only did you manage to advance a bad argument in the “sun cycle” portion of your post, you also managed to shoot yourself in the foot in the complexity part. Bravo. clap. clap.

  16. #16 minimalist
    June 13, 2007

    Doom,

    Have you ever bothered, even for a second, to look into the research done into climate forcing by solar activity? Because plenty of it exists, and scientists still agree that man-made causes are the most likely cause of the recent warming. There are interesting historical trends between transient solar activity increases and temporary climate oscillation, but it’s distinctly different from what’s happening now.

    What is it about denialists that they think boneheaded “common sense” bellowings from the comfort of their armchairs trumps the actual research done by actual scientists? As if their ignorance delimits the actual body of knowledge out there.

    “Well if evilution happened, how come those dumb scientists never said why we still gots monkeys?! Aha, I uncovered the fatal flaw without ever having to crack a book!”

  17. #17 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    MikeQ,

    You sound like a seriously bigoted political idiot. Have you noticed the sale of SUVs is up? What are you winning? Kyoto, etc., are dead as a doornail. Do you seriously think because those tiresome commercials are on TV that you’ve accomplished something worthwhile? Talk about believing the hype.

    You’re as bad as the rest of the Democrats, who seriously think they won the last election, instead of understanding the Republicans lost it (Mark Foley). That’s why they can’t stop the war or do anything else of substance: you’re losing. Everything the Democrats have accomplished has been non-binding. In other words, worthless. And you go around with your chest stuck out like the country – or the world – has joined your cause? Not even a little.

    France has a pro-Bush president. Germany has a pro-Bush president. England has a pro-Bush president. Eastern Europe is pro-Bush. There are now democracies, in one form or another, all over the Middle East that weren’t there before Bush got in. Except for Cuba, and Venezuela, Latin America is pretty much with us. We are the world.

    And you? You’re nothing. You’re yesterday. You’re just a some communist’s dream.

    I feel sorry for you.

    I really do.

  18. #18 MikeQ
    June 13, 2007

    Boo hoo, you whiner. Go whinge to who’ll give you a shoulder to cry on.

  19. #19 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    Yea, and like all your type, you’re the king of compassiopn too. Hipocrites, one and all. You couldn’t save the planet if your life depended on it – which it doesn’t. So get your head out of your ass, put away Marx, quit trying to pose as a “progressive” and start addressing the rest of us like the loser you are:

    From below,…

  20. #20 Brian
    June 14, 2007

    minimalist,

    The problem isn’t that they’re trusting common sense instead of science (that’d be easier to argue with), but rather that they’re using other peoples’ talking points in lieu of common sense! If it truly were common sense, they wouldn’t all use the same ridiculous examples (e.g. “the eye is too complex to have evolved”)

  21. #21 Richard Simons
    June 14, 2007

    France has a pro-Bush president. Germany has a pro-Bush president. England has a pro-Bush president. Eastern Europe is pro-Bush. There are now democracies, in one form or another, all over the Middle East that weren’t there before Bush got in. Except for Cuba, and Venezuela, Latin America is pretty much with us. We are the world.

    If the world is with the US, as you say, why did a poll last year find that in many European and other countries the US is regarded as a major threat to world peace? It has been my experience (from Canada, the UK and southern Africa, plus conversations with other people) that Americans are generally seen as ignorant and arrogant and your post does nothing to dispel that.

    Recent democracies all over the Middle East? Huh?

    BTW. England does not have a president. England does not even have a prime minister.

  22. #22 Daddy Dave
    June 14, 2007

    minimalist:

    “Well if evilution happened, how come those dumb scientists never said why we still gots monkeys?! Aha, I uncovered the fatal flaw without ever having to crack a book!”

    Brian:

    the same ridiculous examples (e.g. “the eye is too complex to have evolved”)

    I know it’s easier to debate Creationists than warming skeptics, but that’s not the topic of the thread. Idiots.

  23. #23 Brian
    June 14, 2007

    DD,

    Apparently reading comprehension isn’t the topic either. Both comments (more the former than the latter, admittedly) were referring to Doom’s comment. How did you not get that? I’m serious. Explain how you can read Minimalist’s post and NOT understand that it is referring to the type of argument used in a post just a few ticks above it.

    But I’ll humor you. Here’s the creationist example:

    “The eye is too complex to have evolved.”

    Here’s a warming example (wow, from THIS VERY THREAD!)

    “The environment is too complex to be influenced by humans.”

    If seeing a similarity there makes me an idiot, I’m cool with it.

  24. #24 Poptech
    June 14, 2007

    Quick Facts:

    - Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.6�C in the last 100 years.
    - Global mean sea level has risen about 0.17m (6.6in) in the last 100 years.
    - Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have risen by about 30% (280-370 ppmv) over the past 100 years.
    - Carbon Dioxide (CO2) = about 0.038% of the atmosphere.
    - Humans can only claim responsibility for about 3.4% of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually.
    - Ice core records show Carbon Dioxide (CO2) changes lag behind Temperature changes by hundreds of years.
    - Carbon Dioxide accounts for somewhere between 4.2% and 8.4% of the greenhouse effect.
    - Water accounts for about 90-95% of the greenhouse effect.
    - Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming is an unproven Theory.
    - There is no “scientific consensus” that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change.
    - Science is not determined by “consensus” but by the Scientific Method.

    The Anti “Man-Made” Global Warming Resource:
    http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=2050

    I hear people using words like denial ect… But the facts show that nothing about Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming Theory is proven. It is all hysteria driven by wanna-be messiahs like Al Gore who only has a BA in Government (no higher degree achieved, no science degrees).

  25. #25 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    “If the world is with the US, as you say, why did a poll last year find that in many European and other countries the US is regarded as a major threat to world peace?”

    Because polls are polls, and opinions change. No biggie. Rather than thinking of our policies as a threat to peace, in time, as events change and the truth of our actions are revealed – like we’re the only country in the world with a history of freeing oppressed people – they learn to respect our decisions for the integrity inherent in them. Take Iraq:

    Was Saddam worthy of toppling? Of course, he was pure evil.

    Have we kept our original promise, from the first Gulf War, to the Kurds? Yes, we have, and they’re doing great.

    Have Iraq’s Shia been freed from the historical oppression of the Sunnis? Pretty much, though – with Al Qaeda and Iran’s help – it’s still rough going.

    Has President Bush done a true moral good by taking this on? Without a doubt.

    And all that’s courageous, and respectable, when you drop the naive rhetoric the world’s general public lifts from John Lennon’s “Imagine” and seriously consider what a dangerous world we live in: The United States is the guardian of the free world.

    Are we ignorant and arrogant? Sure. We’re a big, almost self-contained, country with no need to always be looking outward. We’re not Canada, suffering from an inferiority complex. We’re not a country that’s thousands of years old, like the UK, France, China, etc., wondering how the U.S., in 250+ years, has risen to preeminence. And we’re definitely not Southern Africa.

    Generally speaking, we’re a naive, sunny-dispositioned, wanna-help kinda people – with big hearts – who wonder what’s wrong with the rest of the world, as they keep insisting good things just can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. Because of traditions, and history, they don’t understand us any more than we care to identify with them. That’s their loss, not ours. And that can make us pretty sure of ourselves. It really doesn’t surprise me that they’re jealousies make them miserable. That’s what’s like to be losers. When they can get over it, they’ll probably do better too – and we’ll always be ready to help them too. That’s who we are.

    “Recent democracies all over the Middle East? Huh?”

    Yea, I should’ve said elections. (You got me there, sorry.) But there are more elections in the Middle east than ever, and that surely beats the constant riots of before. People have another way to express themselves and that’s another huge good.

    “BTW. England does not have a president. England does not even have a prime minister.”

    I was in a hurry – and you’re being snarky – but you get my point: the United States is the most courageous country – on behalf of the welfare of others – in the world.

    Take care,

    Sam

  26. #26 David
    June 14, 2007

    Oh, but Daddy Dave, what is the topic of the blog? Your comments are not points to be debated, here, but examples to be considered for instruction.

    Personally, I believe that human activity is causing the climate to get hotter, and that, while we can’t now avert all of the bad consequences of this, we can still avert some of them, including the worst ones. However, I’m no expert, and I don’t seriously think I can persuade random people off the internet of my view. Conversely, random people off the internet are not going to change my view, either, having looked at the issue in some depth.

  27. #27 Luna_the_cat
    June 14, 2007

    Wait, Merckel is pro-Bush? What? When did that happen…?

    Poptech — obviously you have not grasped the facts that:

    CO2 sources and CO2 sinks were roughly in equilibrium before human sources started loading the system. We may only contribut 3% of each year’s total carbon budget — and about 1.5% of that is actually absorbed by natural sinks — but that leaves 1.5% of the yearly carbon budget over and above what the sinks are taking out, and the system is no longer in equilibrium. So, 1.5% in year 1 + 1.5% in year 2 + 1.5% in year 3 + 1.5% in year 4 + 1.5% in year 5 = 7.5%, and so on, and before you know it you’re talking about real numbers. If we were talking about a money budget, that bit would be “profit”, and it would be a good thing that it can be collected from year to year. As it stands, there is a reason why the atmosphere contained about 270ppm of CO2 150 years ago, and almost 380ppm now — and you’re looking at it. Got it?

    Second, you obviously haven’t grasped the two concepts of “feedback” and “reinforcement”. In the past, one of the main forcing factors for climate change has been the change in insolation due to the Milaknovitch cycles. However, it is uncontroversial that the Milankovitch factors themselves are not sufficient to cause the depth and extent of temperature changes. What happens is that the forcing factor tips the climate in a certain direction, the composition of the atmosphere changes, and these changes deepen the trend — in the case of warming, the addition of CO2 from previous sinks which become sources as they warm, like oceans and peat bogs, deepens and continues a warming trend far past where it would go as a result of changes in insolation.

    And, let me see if I can explain this to you in short words. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. OK? Clear on that? So, CO2 helps air retain heat — maybe not much, but certainly some, especially at night. So the fractionally warmer air holds fractionally more water vapor. Which makes it warmer yet. Which means it holds more water vapor. Which makes it warmer yet. Which means it holds more….got the idea yet?

    In the past, CO2 response has been subsequent to the initial trigger, THEN functioned as a reinforcing feedback. NOW, the loading of the atmosphere with CO2 (and methane, and a few others) has happened already….and is functioning as a reinforcing feedback.

    Can you follow this and understand it?

    And for all those “humans aren’t big enough to influence the planet” folks out there, while you’re at it, why don’t you tell me all about the reappearance of the Grand Banks cod, how the passenger pigeon still darkens the skies of North America, or how the logging-out of the cedars of Lebanon and goat grazing didn’t affect rainfall and climate in the Middle East at all.

  28. #28 Luna_the_cat
    June 14, 2007

    One other comment, then again I’m going to have to go away for a while and do my actual work. ;-/

    A few days ago on the “Tim Blair quote mines me” blog entry, I posted the official position statements on anthropogenic climate change from a number of independent science institutions and academies, including the AAAS, the NAS, the AGU, the Met, the Royal Society, and various other countries’ National Societies. Extremely similar position statements exist on the existance and operation of evolution, in many of the same venues. The only reason such consensus statements exist is because of a large, and highly vocal, non-science lobby which seeks to convince other non-scientists to believe a certain way, in continued ignorance of the data and the work which has been done on them.

    If you feel that such position statements do not represent “a scientific consensus”, then you need to come up with a convincing reason why. And you also need to understand that the consensus thus represented does not make the science, and no-one has EVER claimed that it did; it merely speaks for the science in the face of vocal political/religious opposition. Similar statements do not exist for atomic theory or the General Theory of Relativity simply because there is no point — there is no political or religious interest in discrediting them, and thus well-funded vocal non-science lobby which needs to be spoken against.

    Links to position statements can be posted again if needed.

  29. #29 Andrew Dodds
    June 14, 2007

    Scam Sam -

    The total death toll from the benevolence that the wonderful US bestowed on Iraq is in the region of 800,000 and still climbing, with around 4 million refugees. But at least the women have regained the freedom to wear the veil or get beaten to death.

    I’m actually astonished at how someone can still call this a moral good. If your offer of cooking someone a meal ends up with you burning their house down due to complete incompetence, you don’t get off the hook by claiming you were only trying to help. Especially if you were warned repeatedly beforehand.

  30. #30 Poptech
    June 14, 2007

    Luna,

    “CO2 sources and CO2 sinks were roughly in equilibrium before human sources started loading the system.”

    Really? Proof? What proof do you have that they were in “equilibrium”. Carbon Sinks are not fully understood therefore cannot be accurately measured and thus your comments about them are irrelevant. There is nothing catastrophic about the current CO2 levels:

    Estimated Clear Sky Greenhouse Effect of From Doubling CO2:
    http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/co2greenhouse-X2.png

    Got it?

    Only someone trying to force an unproven theory would try to explain the CO2/Temperature relation in a such a convoluted way. The Ice Core Records clearly show only one corelation and that is when the temperature changes the CO2 levels follow. There is no remote evidence of CO2 driving temperatures, if it did it would drive the temperatures exponentially. That didn’t happen which means something else is driving temperature changes, most likely that is the Sun.

    The only idea I got is you don’t understand what the word exponential means neither do the others who puppet the same BS.

    “And for all those “humans aren’t big enough to influence the planet”

    Does this crap work with the idiots you talk to? Why did you rephrase this to sound ridiculous? Oh that’s right because the real debate is whether “Man-Made” CO2 can catastrophically affect the climate. I suggest you prove it via the scientific method.

    You haven’t proven a damn thing. I repeat:

    - Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming is an unproven Theory.
    - There is no “scientific consensus” that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change.
    - Science is not determined by “consensus” but by the Scientific Method.

    The Facts are not going anywhere.

    The Anti “Man-Made” Global Warming Resource:
    http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=2050

  31. #31 Poptech
    June 14, 2007

    Andrew Dodds please stop spreading propaganda:

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

    The Iraqi Body Count is 65,000-71,000

    Many of which is from sectarian violence, suicide bombers ect…

  32. #32 Sizlac
    June 14, 2007

    Poptech said:

    - Carbon Dioxide accounts for somewhere between 4.2% and 8.4% of the greenhouse effect.

    This is wrong. The actual numbers are 9-26% with a best guess of 13-15%. You see, your friends at JunkScience have used math to come up woith these numbers. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s what they did in the 1940s (!). The problem is, you have to observe the atmosphere in action. You have to understand how the atmosphere changes as you go up and all the other mysteries of radiative transfer. If you don’t look at the research–and you need to start back in the 1950s–you don’t see the whole picture. Start with Gilbert N. Plass and work your way up to the current century.

    So, in short, your numbers are right if you make huge sassumptions–GHGs contribute distinctly (no overlap) and there are no feedbacks. Those assumptions are wrong, ergo the error.

    Your water vapor numbers are also off. 66-85 is the accetped range. See Ramanathan and Coakley (1978).

  33. #33 Andrew Dodds
    June 14, 2007

    Poptech -

    The Lancet study is based on the standard method of estimating mortality from conflict – something that is widely known to be heavily underreported directly in conflict zones. Of course, if you choose to think that 65000 is ‘reasonable’, that’s your problem.

    Since the civil war in Iraq is a result of the invasion and occupation, or more correctly the appalling handling of the aftermath, the deaths are our fault.

    And as far as AGW goes, which part of the well-established physics are you denying?

  34. #34 Sizlac
    June 14, 2007

    - Humans can only claim responsibility for about 3.4% of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually.

    How did I miss this gem?

    What proof do you have that they were in “equilibrium”.

    The ice core records. It is undisputed–not even by the wacky coal funded scientists–that the 30% rise in CO2 is human caused. We know this through multiple lines of evidence including the very basic chemical equation for the burning of fossil fuels. Your “3.4%” is the amount of “interest” added to the CO2 account each year, and is misleading.

    There is no remote evidence of CO2 driving temperatures, if it did it would drive the temperatures exponentially.

    CO2 is logarhythmic and any warming would be limited by how much CO2 is available in the oceans. So I don’t know what the “gotcha” here is.

  35. #35 Luna_the_cat
    June 14, 2007

    Poptech —

    Again, let me see if I can explain clearly.

    We know that natural sources of CO2 exist. Even if we don’t know the exact details of all of them, we know they exist.

    We know that natural sinks of CO2 exist. Even if we don’t know the exact details of all of them, we know they exist.

    We CAN measure the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    We do not have to know all the details of the sources, or of the sinks, in order to measure which (source or sink) is and was greater, if we know how much CO2 is and was in the atmosphere.

    We have measurements of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere going back several hundred thousand years, via atmospheric gases trapped in the ice cores which we have now obtained.

    Since the end of the Younger Dryas, for the last 7,000 years or so, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere held almost steady; it rose very, very, very slowly indeed.

    That tells us that the sources and the sinks were almost in equilibrium; there was very, very slightly more source than sink, but on a century-to-century basis it made very little difference. You had to look at a millenial timescale to see the change.

    NOW: ice cores, direct measurement, and other proxies tell us that since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has been rising far more steeply. Furthermore, the isotopic signature of carbon from fossil fuel sources is different from that of most natural sources, reflecting the antiquity of the carbon source; and from the isotopic signature, we can confirm that an increasing proportion of carbon in the atmosphere is from fossil fuel sources, linking it to the advent of heavy coal and petroleum use.

    This is a straightforward and expected thing. We burn fossil fuel, it frees carbon with a certain isotopic signature; and an increasing proportion of atmospheric carbon has this isotopic signature; and there is an increasing absolute amount of carbon in the atmosphere since we started burning fossil fuels as well, indicating that there is now significantly more source than there is sink. We do not need to know everything there is to know about sinks to make these observations.

    There is no speculation involved in this. It is observation. I’m amazed you have such difficulty with it.

    And you consider my explanation of feedbacks “convoluted” (which to you seems to mean “not simple enough to be true”)? Seriously? This just tells me that you aren’t very familiar with the science, and have probably never made any serious effort to understand the workings of the physical world. What I described to you is actually pretty straightforward. It is not a complicated concept, or even a complicated series of concepts (although mapping exact numbers in exact geographies and conditions can be a complicated business). Unfortunately, though, reality has a nasty habit of not being amenable to being reduced to one-sentence soundbites the way that artificial “talking points” are. I get the impression you like the one-sentence sound bites better than chains of causality. This says more about you than it says about the science, though.

    But then, the fact that you think Milloy is now, or has ever been, a reliable source of reliable science tells me that you don’t have a lot of science background, as do your faulty numbers. And reposting the same assertions, without taking into account any of the information presented to you, only makes you a troll, it doesn’t make you right.

    The response to the “humans aren’t big enough to be a predominant influence on the planet” was aimed at Scam Sam and Doom Shepherd.

  36. #36 Ray C.
    June 14, 2007

    O-kaaaay, so global warming ain’t happening because Kilimanjaro is melting for other reasons. Just as evolution is false because Piltdown Man was a hoax and Bu–sh– served his Air National Guard hitch properly because the CBS documents were forged.

  37. #37 Daddy Dave
    June 14, 2007

    David:

    Your comments are not points to be debated, here, but examples to be considered for instruction.

    In that case, this is not a science blog but a rhetoric blog.

  38. #38 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    Andrew and Luna,

    I want to answer you, both, but Mark’s blog is for Mark’s subjects and I don’t want to upset him or anything. Please write me at my blog http://www.themachoresponse.blogspot.com and I’ll, seriously, respond to both of your queries there.

    Thanks,

    Sam

    P.S. – just for Andrew to ponder before writing:

    Considering the high death toll, on the Shia, why doesn’t the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani agree with you?

  39. #39 MarkH
    June 14, 2007

    Wow, citing Steven Milloy. A new low for the anti-AGW commentors.

    This is a guy that even Cato had to show to the door for unethical shilling on the payroll of tobacco companies, who has been caught again and again shilling, and lying for dough. Now he’s with CEI, the absolute worst bunch of denialist hacks in the think tank business with the possible exception of the George C. Marshall Institute (It’s all the same people anyway).

    I’m unimpressed.

  40. #40 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    Look, I’ll admit, I don’t know everything but I seem to be one of the few people on this blog willing to say that. And, for people who want to be seen as smart, I’m personally shocked you guys can’t see your own biases, for instance being anti-war. To suggest we’re doing something wrong because lots of people get killed – in a war – is beyond silly:

    Lots of people got killed in The Civil War but, as a black person, I’m not complaining.

    I don’t hear the Kurds complaining either, why aren’t they ever mentioned?

    Do you understand the Sunni/Shia dispute?

    Where is your morality? What are your values? Do you have any? Any that are worth fighting and dying for?

    How do you value right and wrong – or are you relativists?

  41. #41 MarkH
    June 14, 2007

    Bit of a thread hijack there Sam. I don’t think we should go into a war discussion thread. Not relevant.

  42. #42 Poptech
    June 15, 2007

    “We do not have to know all the details of the sources, or of the sinks, in order to measure which (source or sink) is and was greater, if we know how much CO2 is and was in the atmosphere.”

    Of course you have to know all the details because the Carbon Sink Theories are unproven thus you cannot accurately measure which is or was greater. That statement is nonsense and unproveable. You have no idea outside of assumptions. All you can measure is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Everything else is estimated including what the man-made CO2 contribution is. If estimates claim that X amount of CO2 is released each year but only Y amount is being measured than all you can conclude is:

    1. The estimates of man-made CO2 are wrong.
    or
    2. The difference is being absorbed somewhere.

    You cannot conclude where or how unless you can measure it directly.

    You have no proof if an equilibrium exists or ever existed. Equilibrium implies that it is balanced and unchanging. CO2 levels clearly changed throughout history and thus no such “balance” existed nor is a certain level been proven to be optimal.

    The CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing for the last 20,000 years.

    I don’t have difficulty with any of this. The difference is I actually research something before puppeting a response. All your proxy data, including atmospheric CO2 isotope corelations are inferred from a flawed proxy: tree-ring dating. Tree-rings fail to account for the winter and adjacent months temperatures, night-time temperatures, and ocean sea surface temperatures. This makes them useless as a global record of climate change.

    All a tree ring can tell us is whether the combined environmental conditions during the growing season were favourable to tree growth or not.

    Your explanation of “feedbacks” is convoluted because you have no proof of this nor can you definitively state it as such yet you attempt to wordily make excuses that try to sound definitive. With AGW Theory anything they want as proof but cannot be confirmed becomes a “feedback”.

    Wait I am not familiar with science because I want proof of unproven parts of unproven theories? Belief without reproduceable proof is Religion. Science is not religious.

    I have noticed a trend with AGW believers is that they attempt to overly word their replies in hopes the lay person will not read the empty statements and excuses they include.

    Funny how Steve Milloy with a B.A. in Natural Sciences and a M.S. in Health Sciences is less credible on scientific discussions than Al Gore with only a B.A. Government (no higher degree achieved, no science degrees)? I am sorry but Steve Milloy has legitimate Science degrees and is more than entitled to make legitimate scientific assertations. You will have to try harder next time.

  43. #43 Poptech
    June 15, 2007

    “The Lancet study is based on the standard method of estimating mortality from conflict – something that is widely known to be heavily underreported directly in conflict zones.”

    Anyone logical can read what you just said “ESTIMATED” with no verifiable proof. These are the same exaggerations AGW evangelists make. This survey as opposed to the one I cited which counts dead bodies (slightly more accurate) is widely used in propaganda campaigns to try and make the USA look like mass murderers, which is nonsense.

    “Of course, if you choose to think that 65000 is ‘reasonable’, that’s your problem.”

    Reasonable or VASTLY different and entirely more accurate than the propaganda number you posted? Even with this number you need to separate direct US inflicted casualties from those caused by other means (insurgent attacks on civilians, sectarian violence ect…)

    “Since the civil war in Iraq is a result of the invasion and occupation, or more correctly the appalling handling of the aftermath, the deaths are our fault.”

    There is no civil war, there is sectarian violence and an insurgency. If a Shia kills a Sunni you can only blame the Shia not the US no matter how bad you wish too.

    “And as far as AGW goes, which part of the well-established physics are you denying?”

    Oh say all the parts unproven via the scientific method, which is the whole theory. You do realize AGW is an unproven theory?

  44. #44 Luna_the_cat
    June 15, 2007

    Poptech, I speak here as a member of the AGU, who has in fact been reading the primary research since 1996, and you really have no sodding idea what you are talking about. You also apparently have an extremely poor grasp of logic, and poor enough reading comprehension skills — either that, or you basically just skimmed my last post without making any serious effort to read it.

    I’m afraid that your accusation that I am merely “puppeting a response” without understanding the subject whereas you “research the subject” (what, on Milloy’s site?) causes my irony meter severe distress. And, for example, to turn around and claim that tree-ring data is used as a CO2 proxy (rather than tree ring data being used as a proxy for temperature and precipitation, and ice core data used to determine CO2 levels, where gases are measured directly) tells me precisely how well you understand what you are talking about — which is, not at all.

    If you are capable of dumping the false assumption that you have a handle on all of this, and making a good-faith effort to listen and understand why we say what we say, then we might get somewhere. Otherwise, sorry, you fall into the distinct category of conspiracy theorist/crank, and we get to laugh at you.

  45. #45 Andrew Dodds
    June 15, 2007

    Poptech -

    I see where you are coming from now. As far as you are concerned, any uncertanty in a measurement implies complete uncertanty.

    An interesting viewpoint, but one inclined to cause problems. For instance, the fuel gauge on my car changes slightly according to the slope, meaning the measurement is slightly uncertain – which means, in your world, I have no idea whatsoever how much fuel there is in there.

    The Lancet number has stood up to a large amount of severe scrutiny – far more than is usual in such situations. Dosen’t stop people going into denialism mode over it, though.

    If you want to tell me the difference between large scale sectarian violence and civil war.. go ahead. And that violence wasn’t happening before we had the bright idea of invading the place and immediately sending the entire army home, with their guns but without jobs.

    Back to AGW – Are you claiming that the whole of radiative physics is wrong/unproven, measurements of gas concentrations are wrong/unproven, the very existance of ice ages wrong/unproven? I need a bit more detail to decide if you are serious.

  46. #46 Sizlac
    June 15, 2007

    Poptech:

    There is proof. Either you are unaware of it or you do not understand it.

    I have three questions: Do you really think the Royal Society would issue a statment about the dangers of climate change without proof? Really?

    Really?

  47. #47 Richard Simons
    June 15, 2007

    Why do people who deny the reality of climate change have this fixation on Al Gore? Do they really think that the global climatology community is waiting in breathless anticipation for his next pronouncement before publishing their research or make any kind of statement on the issue?

  48. #48 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 17, 2007

    Richard,

    For most of us, he’s the only real voice we hear, and we know he’s untrustworthy. Having him as a spokesperson is the problem. Scientists, or a credible celebrity/politician, need to get out in front of the issue.

    It’s a matter of trust.