Tech Central Station flunks Physics

I wrote earlier correcting Ross McKitrick's false claim that there is no such thing as Global Temperature. Unfortunately McKitrick's claim has been adopted and spread by people ignorant of basic physics. For example, consider this review of Essex and McKitrick's book Taken by Storm at (where else?) Tech Central Station, by Paul Georgia. If you look at Georgia's biographical details, you will see that he has studied political economy and economics and there is no evidence that he ever studied physics and it certainly shows in his review.

Before I examine what Georgia wrote in his review, I'd like to give Wikipedia a plug. I thought I'd have to quote passages from basics physics texts, but Wikipedia has accurate and careful explanations that I can link to.

Georgia writes:

No Physical Meaning

Essex, who studies the underlying mathematics, physics and computation of complex dynamic processes, raises some very fundamental scientific issues with regard to global warming. Take, for instance, the "average global temperature," which is the primary statistic offered as evidence of global warming. The problem with this statistic is that it has no physical meaning. Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity.

If you read the Wikipedia page on temperature you will discover that it does have a physical meaning and also that it is a physical quantity. And that there is the whole field of statistical mechanics based on the application of statistics to temperature. Go figure.

Georgia continues:

Thermodynamic variables are of two types, says Essex, extensive and intensive. Extensive variables, like energy or mass, occur in amounts. Intensive variables, such as temperature, refer to conditions of a system. A cup of hot coffee, for example, contains an amount of energy and has a temperature. If you add an equal amount of coffee with the same amount of energy and the same temperature to the cup, the amount of energy doubles, but not the temperature. The temperature remains the same. Thus, while you can add up the energy from two separate systems and get total energy, it is physically meaningless to add up the two systems' temperatures. And dividing that number by two doesn't give you the average temperature either. Such an exercise results in a statistic that has no physical meaning. Yet that is exactly what occurs when the average global temperature is computed.

So let's see. We have some coffee at 60 degrees and add an equal amount also at 60 degrees. Georgia tells us that the mixture will have a temperature of 60 degrees. So far so good. And that adding the two temperatures doesn't give the right answer. Let's see: 60+60 = 120, which is not the right answer. OK. And that "dividing that number by two doesn't give you the average temperature either". Let's see: 120/2 = 60, which, err, is the right answer. I don't want to be too harsh here, but I think your average eight year old could figure out that if you add a number to itself and divide by two you get the original number back again. But this was too much for Georgia.

In fact, adding the temperatures and dividing by two also works if you add an equal quantity at a different temperature. the Wikipedia page on intensive variables has the formula if the quantities are different---it's a weighted mean of the two temperatures.

Georgia continues:

Moreover, temperature and energy aren't the same thing. The internal energy of a system can change without changing the temperature and the temperature can change while the internal energy of the system remains the same. In fact, this occurs all the time in the climate because the two variables are fundamentally different classes of thermodynamic variables and there is no physical law that requires that they move together.

Wow. I guess we'll just have to ditch the entire field of thermodynamics then. In fact, Temperature T and internal energy U are related by the formula

ΔU=ΔT*m*c

where m is the mass and c the specific heat. It is true that it is possible for internal energy to change without affecting the temperature if there is a phase change, but the atmosphere stays way above the temperature of liquid nitrogen, so this makes almost no difference to temperatures.

Georgia continues:

The next time somebody informs you that the planet's "average temperature" has increased, you can rest assured that they have told you exactly nothing.

It's clear that Georgia does not understand the basic physics of temperature, but he is willing confidently make false claims about temperature. Furthermore, the fact that Tech Central Station published his nonsense demonstrates that the editors there know nothing about physics either, which is a rather sad state of affairs for a site that publishes commentry on scientific matters.

Update: Chris Mooney has another example of pseudoscience from Paul Georgia, while David Appell concludes that Georgia is "unfit to be writing about any scientific concept".

Update 2: Comments from Sadly No!, Atrios, Brad DeLong, The Editors and Tim Dunlop.

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A nice critique, but the damage has been done. A major reason for publishing contrascience such as this is that it will have citational legs - McKitrick's claims will be ricocheting around the climate change debate for a long time to come, and the work that you've done here in debunking him will have to be done over and over, as nobody who would cite McKitrick would dream of citing such an able deconstruction of his arguments. That's the whole point of contrascience such as McKitrick produces and TCS promotes - it looks like science, and tastes like science, but it's custom fit to a predetermined polemic.

And McKitrick is at Guelph. Poor old UniGoo - things have really gone downhill since my day.

While Essex's critique of temperature is not very sound, there are issues that arise in defining the 'global mean surface air temperature'. This is because of the very small spatial scales on which it changes and the relatively few measuring stations. However, the important quantity is NOT the absolute global mean SAT but the SAT anomalies. You can show empirically that SAT anomalies have correlations over 100's to 1000's of miles - and therefore are well sampled by the station network that exists. That is why the GISS and CRU data almost always are presented as anomaly graphs, not absolute temperature. We have a lot more confidence that last year was 0.51 degress warmer than 1951-1980 than we know what the absolute value was.

There is a good explanation of this here.

Gavin is exactly correct, in that ANOMALIES are the important thing to consider, and when addressing the 'arguments' of Lars' contrascientists, one must point out the long-term temperature ANOMALIES.

Hammer that point home and don't stop hammering.

D

Let me just add to Dano and Gavin's comments that it is tricky to define an average temperature across of field where the temperature varies, especially if (in this case) you cannot let the system mix and come to an equilibrium at a single temperature. If you can let the system mix and come to equilibrium there is a single, well defined average temperature.

I was however, quite impressed by your coffee cup argument which is exactly the one Wolfgang Pauli makes for defining the quantity of heat transfered on mixing in relation to temperature.

There is a fair amount of blather in Georgia (author, state and former Soviet republic) for example while the statement

"the internal energy of a system can change without changing the temperature and the temperature can change while the internal energy of the system remains the same."

is true for an unconstrained system, the climate system is subject to many constraints which make it irrevevant. Indeed if you put all the constraints together one finds that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations leads to increasing global temperature anomolies. That's what GCMs do and predict.

I've posted on this rag before. Tech Central Station publishes nonsensical garbage and claims it's scientific. I don't even remember how I originally stumbled on to it, but when ever I lack an idea for a post, I can go to their site and work up a pretty good rant right quick.

wow, yep, that's some pretty bad physics on the part of Georgia. Don't need those kind of people on the side of the skeptics, but you can't force 'em out either, unfortunately. The Global warming side has their idiots too, at least.

By ben triplett (not verified) on 13 May 2004 #permalink

Ben, it's not just that Georgia wrote rubbish -- Tech Central Station published it. You can't force him out, but you don't have to publish him.

Yes, bad physics, but that was an easy target. I'd like to see you take on a hard target, like the petition signed by 17,000 scientists who declared that global warming is a sham. The research review is here.

I agree, Tim. And yeah, how about the OISM stuff?

By ben triplett (not verified) on 13 May 2004 #permalink

Tell you what guys, go through any part of that list and find folk who work in climate science. They am rare and by the way a lot of the "scientists" play one on television. You will now tell me of the sub list of physicists, climate scientists, etc. There are physicists, mostly condensed matter, but again, very few climate scientists.

This has been picked over pretty well elsewhere however first you should understand that the "research review" was never published in any scientific journal. While the format of the article mimiced the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the NAS publically dissassociated itself from this manuscript, which is an unprecidented dis.

Yes, bad physics, but that was an easy target...

I'm sorry but scientific debates depend on debating science not getting people to sign petitions. Would putting 17000 names on a piece of paper change Boyle's Law - No - so why would 17000 names change the Greenhouse Effect?

Tell you what guys...

If being a climatologist is the only thing that qualifies one to judge good climate science from bad, then Tim's got no business commenting on it, either. You don't have to be an expert in the field to recognize unsound scientific practices, as Tim demonstrated when he spotted the bad physics above. Nevertheless, there are many genuine climatologists who would agree with the OISM statement, e.g. members of the American Association of State Climatologists, who are largely skeptical of global warming, and the 150 climatologists who endorsed the Leipzig Declaration, which opposed Kyoto on the same grounds. (Incidentally, the "sub list" includes 10,000 scientists who are in fields considered sufficiently related to climatology by most in the scientific community.)

The NAS publicly dissociated itself from the study to allay confusion over endorsement issues. Everything else I've managed to find that might offer a critique of the OISM's findings does not actually refute the science at all, but only calls into question the credentials of the institute and its members. A classic sign of desperation, anyone?

I'm sorry but scientific debates depend on...

So, 17,000 scientists rejecting Kyoto isn't relevant, but the opinions of a couple thousand scientists -- who do believe global warming -- is sufficient to change worldwide policy?

I'd love to see someone actually refute the OISM findings rather than nitpick over credentials.

uh huh, of course it does not, but it does refute the touted "consensus". In addition, how about you attack the study with some facts please, not just the petition. Also, of course the climate science community likes global warming, it's their bread and butter. No doom and gloom = no dough. They're all eating at the trough now and they're objectivity comes into question.

it's been picked over pretty well elsewhere? Where? Please do tell. The stuff I like best are the false claims that it was funded by the oil industry.

Notice also, how the solar activity and earth temp move in seeming lockstep here
while
I don't know how valid this graph is, I just found it, but I do know, that there is no corresponding trend between global temperature and the hockey-stick rise in "greenhouse" gase concentration.

By ben triplett (not verified) on 14 May 2004 #permalink

Ben, the consensus is amongst climate scientists. The petition does not disprove that. I had a quick look at the OISM report and I'll have a post on that when I calm down.

I had a quick look at the solar activity/temperature link and the page you linked is out of date. Look here. Money quote:

While the curves do not match perfectly at any time, they start to diverge noticeably by the 1980's. We interpret this widening gap as evidence for an additional influence on the temperature - over and above what the Sun is causing. We think this is likely to be due to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect.

Ben, the consensus is amongst climate scientists.

Not those amongst the 17,000 who signed the OISM statement, or all 150 who endorsed Leipzig, or 90% of the American Association of State Climatologists.

I guess the science that led to Kyoto is out of date too. Good thing we didn't ratify that sucker.

By ben triplett (not verified) on 14 May 2004 #permalink

Um, Tim, are you calm yet?

By ben triplett (not verified) on 14 May 2004 #permalink

that was snarky, but really, the climate scientists need to study some stability theory. The climate equilibrium must be quite robust to have the mild history it has had over the zillions of years that life has been on the planet. I don't ever see models that should study the interaction between increase in temperature, the likely resulting increase in air currents (and ocean currents) and the resulting increase in heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere and into space. Thus, equilibrium should be more or less maintained.

By ben triplett (not verified) on 14 May 2004 #permalink

And let's not forget the scientific circus in the '70s over the impending ice age. What happened to that?

The thrust seems to be that by no means is the data for global warming conclusive. Even Lomborg, who conceded that some of the warming in latter decades is likely not attributable solely to solar activity, stresses over and over again that more work needs to be done and that the current data do not justify ratifying something as extreme as Kyoto. The pro-Kyoto climatologists became hysterical and flayed him personally for saying this, which seriously draws their objectivity into question.

[Something goofy going on with your browser, Ben?]

Interesting discussion, but I believe it avoids the major issue I see as a practicing Atmospheric Chemist.

First, let me state that the Kyoto protocol should have been rejected as written, but in my opinion should have been re-worked. The benefits for controlling pollution (i.e. health, decreased foreign dependency, etc.)extend beyond global warming catastophre theories to be well considered.

My problem is simply this: The amount/number of papers to show that global warming is occuring are more than one could probably read in a year, but the contrarian argument just doesn't hold water for me. When economists and political scientists question global warming data, and have an agenda (be it economical or other)they lose their objectivity. Do you really think Tech Central is offering an objective analysis?

And I agree with Sarah (citing Lomberg, an economist, no?) that more work needs to be done. Of course more work needs to be done. I am of the position that it is happening and we are contributing, but to what degree is yet to be determined. But that lends to the point that when will the contrarians be convinced of something they don't want to see?

See current evolution/ID/creationist argument for similar analogy.

By Scott A. Robertson (not verified) on 15 May 2004 #permalink

Allow me to defend our gracious host. He is a statistician. Most of the things he was saying were about statistics (or at least the ones I would pay attention, I did have my differences with his statements on temperatures). Climate science is like that. No one knows it all, and you have to work with a lot of folk who each know their parts.

BTW, if you read the article at OISM, you find in the first paragraph the statement that global temperature is decreasing. Care to defend that? My suggestion is don't, you will get chewed up.

For the record, Bjorn Lomborg is a professor of statistics.

...you find in the first paragraph the statement that global temperature is decreasing. Care to defend that?

Global warming studies have focused on surface data, especially those collected in urban areas. But a cooling trend is seen in the lower five miles of the atmosphere. Precise satellite measurements, like those of climatologist John Christy, show an overall drop in temperature of about 0.1 C since 1979 (the year 1999, for instance, was a slightly cooler year than the 21 previous years for which he has data). These measurements are independently confirmed by those of weather balloons. The National Research Council acknowledged these findings in a 2001 report to the White House -- the NRC admitted they were baffled by the data and then went on to speculate that the cooling cannot be explained entirely by natural trends, blah, blah, blah. Regardless of whether or not this speculation for causation turns out to be accurate, a global cooling trend is evident and acknowledged by our own government scientists.

Sarah,

What you say is correct from 2001 but recent studies have contradicted this. This certainly doesn't settle the case but leaves it open to further debate and research. See the following:

http://davidappell.com/archives/00000054.htm
http://www.chriscmooney.com/blog.asp#770

The study was published in Nature, and although you can't directly access the study, you can see reactions to it, including Spender's op-ed (Christy's co-worker at Alabama) that he chose to publish at Tech Central Station. Can you believe it, a global warming denier writing for Tech Central?

Also, I looked at the list of 17,000 scientists that have evaluated OISM's statement re:Kyoto and global warming and there are two former co-workers of mine on the list; one is a biologist and the other a chemist and neither even remotely qualified to comment on global warming.

I apologize in advance for the double post that this will generate

By Scott A. Robertson (not verified) on 15 May 2004 #permalink

Whatever the current research may say, the OISM statement was published in 1998, well before "recent studies" contradicted global cooling.

I read about the Fu re-analyzation of Christy's data, and the results seem to depend heavily on how the data is interpreted. At best, Fu's work puts a question mark on the statement about global cooling. e.g. In one of my own papers (in a different field), my regression fit to sample data is very different from that of another author, which is very different from that of another author. We were all published in the same journal within a year of one another, so who to believe? As you said, this doesn't close the door on global warming/cooling, but shows how inconclusive the argument is either way.

...there are two former co-workers of mine on the list...

I'll have to take you at your word, but in any case why are a biologist and chemist unqualified to comment on global warming? Surely, they understand data analysis and statistical methods. And that's 2 out of 17,000. As I said before, ~10,000 of those who signed the petition are supposedly in fields closely related to climate science.

Addressing a previous post:

When economists and political scientists question global warming data, and have an agenda (be it economical or other)they lose their objectivity.

How is it unobjective for an economist to state that a certain policy would be devastating to the world economy? That's what their analysis says -- that's what economists do. How is it unobjective to say that the actual benefits of such a policy would be dwarfed by the costs? It's a very important point, only lost on those whose agenda says that we must adopt a policy regardless of the fact that the net measurable result would be negative.

The "global warming" community is just as much acting out of agenda as anyone on the other side of the argument. This is evidenced by the extremely emotional and personal attacks on contrarians like Lomborg (a former Greenpeacer, by the way) and the way that authors who submit papers which contradict global warming are not even allowed to take part in the peer review process -- their papers are dismissed as "being dangerous to humankind." How can someone's data and theory be dangerous to anyone without an agenda?

...when will the contrarians be convinced of something they don't want to see?

A fair question, but what about the "consensus" on the inevitable ice age only three decades ago? We never saw an ice age. What would have happened if policy had been adopted based on the '70s hysteria over this?

Sarah, it is NOT just Fu, et al, even Spencer and Christy (now show a positive trend of ~o.o7 C/decade. The names of the other studies are RSS(aka Schnabel and Wentz), Prabahakar, and one that is really high by some guys at UMd.

These all lie higher that the current S&C and well within the error limits of modeling studies.

Further, you do realize that the MSU measurements all use complex radiation transfer models to extract temperature anomolies from microwave emissions, and also that what you are talking about is a few km up from where most of us live?

As to the ice age nonsense, there was no consensus except between News of the Weird and the National Enquirer. A fellow by the name of William Connolley has adopted this little urban myth as a hobby http://www.wmc.care4free.net/sci/iceage/

Sarah,

This could go on for a while (not that I am not enjoying it)but it seems if we get past semantics we basically agree, no?

I am in no way advocating radical policy changes and using global warming data to justify it. If Kyoto (I alreadyb said it had MAJOR flaws) has a severe economic impact, say so, don't question the science. I agree that doomsdayers, no matter what their makeup, take a small piece of information and blow it out of proportion, often times with a great deal of help from the media. The current Hollywood offering (The Day After Tomorrow I think) is riddled with this kind of apocolyptic science, that I simply don't hear at meetings I attend nor in scietific papers that I read.

This is an immensely complicated problem, and to present it simply to the public is all but impossible. Getting rid of both sides of the extremes would help alot, but surely I am dreaming.

To clarify, the two co-workers I mentioned should have been disqualified to comment because they were idiotd who i wouldn't trust to do a simple linear calculation of a standard curve for a GC/MS run, let alone interpret science data, but as you said only 2 og 17,000, a point well taken.

I will add one more bit of this complicated puzzle, and leave the last word to you. One of the things I am presently studying is the possible net cooling effect of particulate aerosols and fugitive dust have on urban areas. Some of the data I have seen indicate major metropolitan areas actually cooling right now (such as Washington, D.C.)There have been several papers already written about this and conclusions indicate that this net cooling effect is masking the net warming. I can see it now, keep polluting to stop global warming. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.

By Scott A. Robertson (not verified) on 16 May 2004 #permalink

Scott, I don't know if we agree or not. I think no policy is the best policy right now, whereas you seem to support modest restrictions.

If Kyoto ... has a severe economic impact, say so, don't question the science.

The two go hand in hand. Of course Kyoto would have had a severe net economic impact. If human activity was causing global climate changes that were killing millions of people, then I would be amenable to measures restricting this activity -- the cost of implementing these measures would surely be outweighed by saving millions of human lives. But the data don't show anything of the kind happening. What we do have is a lot of argument over climate changes of less than 1 degree C, and a lot of models making predictions. Nothing is certain. There is no scientific (and therefore economic) justification for curtailing industrial activity based on what we currently know.

Sarah, I don't know enough about the economic impact of Kyoto to make any firm comments on it. But I find it striking that the people who say the climate science is far too uncertain to justify any action turn around and tell me that the economic science is quite certain and shows that Kyoto will have a severe negative impact.

Scott and Sarah, if you look at estimates of global warming from doubling CO2 concentrations above preindustrial levels (this is all but certain to happen in the current century) you get changes of 1.5 to 5 C. At the bottom end there is little cost, at the top end there are HUGE costs. It is unlikely that future research can narrow the range of possible changes. Moreover, note that these are global changes, and that the changes in the tropical regions will be relatively small, while those at high latitudes will be much larger.

There are two reasons why action should be taken NOW. The first is the asymmetry of costs, the second is that the climate system has MAJOR momentum, so that actions taken now are a lot cheaper than actions taken later.

Eli,

I agree with your CO2 assertion but don't share your conclusion that research won't narrow the range. I am hopeful that it will. One of my former proffesors is developing/improving a GCM and while he admits the significant challenges (clouds, aerosols, present significant problems)he is optimistic. Part of his current research is to run the model say from 1980 to 1990 and see if he can get the known result. I am sure others are doing this and it provides a great test for your model.

I hope its clear that I do recommend actions, but not just for global warming fears. I would think health concerns as well as decreasing foreign dependency would be adequete reasons alone. I just don't advocate fear-based apocolyptic predictions, although maybe that is the only way to get action (see ozone example)

By Scott A. Robertson (not verified) on 16 May 2004 #permalink

Scott, the range for 2x CO2 has remained the same since Ahrennius' paper in ~1900. There are several really basic problems in trying to narrow it, among which are no one has a way back machine, no one has a way forward machine, and we don't have the ability to create an earth with different initial conditions. Plus the data before ~ 19oo is not real good.

Notice, that this does not say anything about getting better models, merely that models are not exactly equivalent to the actual earth system and uncertainty will remain. You could learn a lot by looking at model evolution and seeing how even though the models got orders of magnitude better the range of predicted warming stayed the same.

Finally, let me point out that GCMs (the C stands for circulation not climate btw) already have been able to back cast global temperatures for 1980-1990 very well (See for example the Hadley center models), and that their real value lies in the ability to calculate other changes in the climate for various scenerios, such as enhanced high latitude warming with 2X CO2.

Tim, if you want to see living proof of the economic impact of environmental regulation, look no further than the energy crisis in California. Every state in the union is awash in cheap electrical energy, except for the one that has massive regulation.

yeah, and don't try to come back with "they deregulated it", because, you see, you can't have more regulations than you started with and call it "deregulation". It wasn't deregulation, so don't even try to say it. I dare you. Don't even try it.

By ben triplett (not verified) on 17 May 2004 #permalink

Now I'm just trolling, but still, don't even think about it...

Excuse me? Awash in cheap electrical energy? What state are you referring to? Are you out of your mind? Electrical energy is made primarily by fossil fuels. They are decidedly not cheap, at the moment...maybe coal, but good grief, that's a current administration anomaly. Deregulate coal, swamp us here in the NE with pollutants. Sheesh.

Sarah wrote:
14/5/2004 03:40:41
Yes, bad physics, but that was an easy target. I'd like to see you take on a hard target, like the petition signed by 17,000 scientists who declared that global warming is a sham. The research review is here.

Hahahahahahaha -- not that bogus "17,000 Scientists" petition again. It looks like yet another dupe (Sarah) bought that bogus piece of trash hook, line, sinker, fishing-pole, tackle-box, and boat!!

Amongst the 17,000 "scientists" who signed that petition are MD's, DDS's and even DVM's (veterinarians!).

So Sarah, what makes you think that "hoss and dawg doctors" are qualified to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming?

BTW, Sarah. You can view the entire petition on-line at http://www.sitewave.net/pproject/listbystate.htm .

Note that it's just a meanlingless list of names, with no affiliation info. Just names like "Mitchell Jones, Myrtle Jones, Oliver Jones, Paul Jones, Paul Jones, Paul Jones, Professor Jones, Ralph Jones, Ralph Jones, Ray P Jones". Who in the hell are these guys, anyway? From the petition, there's no way to tell. How do I know that one of them isn't my dentist?

You know, I'm no climatologist, and I'd be qualified to sign that petition, even though I am totally unqualified to challenge the consensus of professional climatologists.

Consider yourself had, Sarah. Are you feeling foolish yet?

By caerbannog (not verified) on 17 May 2004 #permalink

I don't think that this formula:
U=T*m*c

Accurately describes atmospheric thermodynamic systems.
I think this formula is only appropriate for closed non-pressure dependent systems, like a piece of copper for example.

The OISM petition itself carries no claims to representative statistical validity. The average state college system could scare up 17,000 living graduates with science degrees ... what makes these 17K self-selected volunteers representative? And why is there no procedure to rescind a signature? (Most were gathered years ago, when the "plausible deniability" case was more defensible.)

And Sarah clumsily tips her hand by trolling in with objectively discredited interpretations of the California energy crisis.

Sarah, your comments about California energy prices show your ignorance. Discovery occurring via lawsuits over the California energy crisis have produced much documentary evidence that the "crisis" was produced by energy companies manipulating the price by withholding supply. This was suspected at the time but now is incontrovertable.

"And let's not forget the scientific circus in the '70s over the impending ice age. What happened to that?"

Boilerplate right-winger comment.

I may also add that I find it amusing that all of you so-called "scientists" conclude that Kyoto will "have a devastating impact on the world economy" with... I'm sorry, what is your proof of this? Perhaps it's that you believe all the signatory nations are somehow suicidal?

"Tim, if you want to see living proof of the economic impact of environmental regulation, look no further than the energy crisis in California. Every state in the union is awash in cheap electrical energy, except for the one that has massive regulation."

Gee, then why is Japan the second largest economy in the world? Surely their electricity prices, which are double or more of California's, are crippling it, right?

What exactly are your qualifications, Sarah, to comment on economic matters?

More to the point, when in this discussion of economic statistics did an ancedote become "evidence"? Sarah, if I told you that it was really hot in Wyoming last summer, would you accept that as reasonable proof of global warming? If not, why do you think that this single (misrepresented) data point becomes something you can stake an entire argument upon?

Wu

By Carleton Wu (not verified) on 17 May 2004 #permalink

Hey, dosen't anyone remember the fires in Indonesia a few years back being correlated with a huge El Nino effect on the west coast of North and South America? And what about the general health effects of smog? Even if the greenhouse effect isn't going to kill us all, a reduction in polution is still a good idea.

As for climate change, I'm no climatologist, but I've got a good understanding of what happens if you pump extra energy from heat into an already chaotic system. Things may not heat up right away, but all that extra energy has to do something.

By Josh Jasper (not verified) on 17 May 2004 #permalink

Hey, caerbannog! Evil bunny, good to see your posts.

My favorite titles in the OISM are the:

Doctor of Dendrochronological Science and

Meteorological Doctor.

My, how the science progresses, no?!?

D

Are you feeling foolish yet?

Yes, but only because I wasted my time actually reading a response that began with "Hahahahahahaha."

I'll wait for Tim to prune the repeat posts here before I comment on the rest.

Hal Wrote:

[the] California energy ... "crisis" was produced by energy companies manipulating the price by withholding supply.

Oh, yeah? The "deregulation" regulations prevented the power distributors in Cali from entering into long term contracts for power with the suppliers. The Cali distributors had to buy their power on the spot market and were barred from producing their own.

Why are the power producers obligated to sell power to California at anything but the maximum rate that Cali will pay? If Cali doesn't like it, then they can kick the enviros standing in the way of more power plants in
the butt. If California produced enough of its own power, and actually DEREGULATED the industry, they wouldn't have been in that mess.

California even tried to withhold payments to my former home of British Columbia, Canada (whom they accused of overcharging for power as well). California backed down when the government of BC said fine, they would just no
longer sell power to California.

Sarah, you stand silent about your qualifications to comment on economic issues. You also stand silent about why Japan has a huge economy despite high electricity prices. You also stand silent about your "proof" that the world economy will be seriously harmed by Kyoto.

Your hyporcisy is absurd, Sarah.

"If California produced enough of its own power, and actually DEREGULATED the industry, they wouldn't have been in that mess."

Nonsense. Federal courts have already decided that the power producers gamed the market, and the canard about not building out its own capacity (because of "environmentalists", no less) is simply and demonstrably false. You can see all the construction for power plants over the past twenty or so years on the State of California website. It's amazing how these right-wing falsehoods persist through time. What's even more absurd is imagining Clinton's #1 campaign contributor being behind this market-gaming and eventually imploding in the biggest bankruptcy in US history, and the reaction that would have followed, and compare that to the comparative non-reaction since it was Bush's #1 campaign contributor.

......

Nevertheless, there are many genuine climatologists who would agree with the OISM statement, e.g. members of the American Association of State Climatologists, who are largely skeptical of global warming

.....

I tracked down the AASC web-site and found something that might be of interest. All of the members of the AASC are political appointees (see here)

Of course, this does not automatically mean that they are not qualified climatologists. However, it does mean that the AASC probably does not represent an accurate "cross-section" of the scientific community. I would bet that more world-class climatologists reside in California than do in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Nevada combined. But the nature of the AASC guarantees that California (with its powerhouse scientific community -- think Cal Berkeley, Stanford, CalTech, Scripps Institution, UCLA, etc...) gets no more representation in the AASC than a relative scientific backwater like Wyoming...

By caerbannog (not verified) on 18 May 2004 #permalink

Hal, you miss my point. You say:

Federal courts have already decided that the power producers gamed the market

I care not. They have every right to do so as far as I'm conserned. California ought to have protected themselves by using a proper free market instead of the phony "deregulation" as I outlined above.

A "proper" "free market"? If you could cite an example of an actual "proper free market" in energy that's operating in the United States, and that is doing well, please offer it. In fact, expand that to the globe while you're at it.

Sarah, you stand silent about your qualifications to comment on economic issues. You also stand silent about why Japan has a huge economy despite high electricity prices. You also stand silent about your "proof" that the world economy will be seriously harmed by Kyoto. Your hyporcisy is absurd, Sarah.

Hal, please get off your high horse. I didn't see your comments before, because there is one of me and many of you (not to mention the bug that causes double-posts to clutter the responses) -- I don't have the time or inclination to reply to every single point made by every person here. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so here you go.

1. What qualifies me to make economic assessments is that I, like any rational person, rely on analysis by trustworthy economists. Not consensus, but that which makes sense. Every nation that has rejected Kyoto did so because their state economists warned that signing would be a disaster. The few holdouts that wanted to sign in spite of warnings (e.g. Canadian fools) have clearly lost the battle to humanism -- when things don't make sense, it is usually humanist dogma at the bottom of it.

2. Japan has a prosperous economy, because it is comprised of exceptionally hard-working people who live in a largely puritan culture.

3. Anyone who isn't shackled by a visceral anti-capitalist mindset knows that it is impossible to regulate an economy. The environmentalists, not content with trying the impossible, are attempting the truly insane by trying to regulate the economy and the climate at the same time. Not one regulated economy in history has ever produced prosperity, and please don't quote me Canada or Scandinavia. Canada has only recently shed it's honorary third-world status, and every Scandinavian nation except for oil-rich Norway is on the brink of economic collapse.

Absurdly yours, Sarah.

P.S. Carleton, I have no idea what you're talking about.

P.P.S. In response to the claim by Cannabisbananabog (I can't spell) that the AASC probably does not represent an accurate "cross-section" of the scientific community.

Well, he's really unearthed something here. Our friend had to search the AASC website to find out that state climatologists are appointed by the state. And I didn't realize that the modified claim is now a consensus amongst climatologists who represent a statistical cross-section of the scientific community (who are undoubtedly a sober, nerdy bunch, compared to the freewheeling crazies who call themselves state climatologists).

In case you can't tell, I'm not a scientist. But one thing that always baffles me about these arguments is this: Does anybody think there's any benefit to pumping poison into the atmosphere? I mean, it is poison, right? Fill up a garage with it, and you die. We've already seen the positive effects of air pollution regulation in cleaning up air in some previously fetid, smoggy cities. I realize that the argument is all about cost-benefit, but since the anti-clean-up-the-air side is always underwritten by the same kind of corporate interests that have fought every single pollution regulation ever, and have claimed that every single one of them was going to lead to bankruptcy/economic collapse/parakeets and poodles cohabitating, it's just very very hard to take them seriously. Surely any intelligent discussion has to start from the proposition that it's best to pollute the air we breathe as little as possible? I mean, rather than arguing about whether the apocalypse is nigh. I just don't see the case for NOT doing what is technologically possible to protect what is, at best, a poorly understood system that also happens to be vital to the survival of life on the planet.

By Not a Scientist (not verified) on 18 May 2004 #permalink

Not, fill up the garage with nitrogen and you will keel over. Fill it up with oxygen and you will keel over in a rather spectacular manner.

Chemist say that the dose determines the poison. Fill someone up with enough water and they will keel over. That is called drowning, but a nice cup of tea is nice.

I would rather make the argument that one should not peturb the composition of the natural atmosphere as much as we have. Now there are real poisons like mercury where I would say that we should not add one drop more.

Sarah,

Why don't you simply admit that you have lost the debate here? That "petition" you were promoting has been shown to be a scientifically worthless piece of propaganda.

P.S. Folks, go back to my post that Sarah is referring to, and take her comments in that context. Her complete lack of intellectual honesty/integrity will come shining through.

By caerbannog (not verified) on 18 May 2004 #permalink

LOL!!!

Thanks for your responses, Sarah. They're even funnier than your prior ones. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

1) So, you admit that you have no formal training in economics and rely on people you deem as "trustworthy", which apparently in your case means "agrees with my preconceived ideology". I just wanted to point out the irony of a discussion about who is qualified to make what assessment, then you turn around and assert a "sky is falling" doom-and-gloom prediction about Kyoto and the global economy, without a shred of reason or fact to support your case, just "I read trustworthy economists". Oh, and if you even attempt to prove the following -- "Every nation that has rejected Kyoto did so because their state economists warned that signing would be a disaster" -- I will go into shock. Heck, I'd go into shock if you could tell me which states have ratified/accepted/etc Kyoto and who has not. Moving right along...

2) That comment had me going for about 5 minutes. I haven't seen one of those in years. So, Japan somehow busts your "high electricity prices cause economic failure" theory since (hahaha!!) "it is comprised of exceptionally hard-working people who live in a largely puritan culture". I'm sorry -- do you live in a double-walled shoebox, by chance? First of all, Japan is not a "Puritan culture". The nearest there is to a Puritan culture is the United States. Japan is about as un-Puritan as a society could be (no sense of sin, eg). You probably have a vague memory of the term "Puritan work ethic" being applied to Japan back in the early 90s, but it came out completely wrong. And are they "hard working"?? Is that genetic or a result of their dedication to Martin Luther and God? LOL! What next -- tell me how "homogeneous they are and how smart Asians are. LOL! Lots of people work hard in the world and essentially eat dirt for dinner every night. That comment was beautiful, Sarah -- just beautiful.

3) "It is impossible to regulate an economy"??? I see, so, despite the fact that every economy in the world, from the dawn of history until the present day, HAS been regulated, it is somehow impossible to do so?? LOL! And it's "environmentalists" who are the ones trying to do this? Not Alan Greenspan? I believe I am now getting past the laughter to a feeling of sadness and pity for you. You obviously can form complete sentences, yet you somehow wade into issue areas in which you have absolutely zero grasp on reality and swagger about as if you know something???

Well, I'm glad you showed up as the sacrificial punching bag and real-time evidence of the sloppy thinking and untethered perception of right-wing foamers.

Sarah,

Why don't you simply admit that you have lost the debate here? That "petition" you were promoting has been shown to be a scientifically worthless piece of propaganda.

P.S. Folks, go back to my post that Sarah is referring to, and take her comments in that context. Her complete lack of intellectual honesty/integrity will come shining through.

By caerbannog (not verified) on 18 May 2004 #permalink

No Hal, sadly you are correct. There are no examples on the globe that I'm aware of of a proper free market in energy. That, I submit, is the problem.

Additionaly, Hal, we're now seeing the European Union nations (Brittain, Germany, Spain at least) doing the keystone cops routine in trying to even come close to their Kyoto obligations. Really great. Apparently their state economists were to DAMN STUPID to be able to predict that this would happen, or they were shouted down by the enviros, either way, it's a good laugh for Americans to watch the idiots shoot themselves in the foot.

Russia has also decided to drop Kyoto like a dead rat because they've figured out that it is an economic WMD. Goodbye Kyoto and the like, we won't miss you. If this is infact due to the power of the oil companies, then thank (insert diety of choice here: e.g. God, Buddah, Nature, Nothing, Hunter Thompson etc.)

Sorry Brits, I can't spell

... and the very last, I swear, I predict that none of the major (and probably none of the minor) EU nations will EVER meet their Kyoto "targets" for greenhouse gas emmisions. I laugh, hah hah. For what it's worth, forever is a long time, so to check my meaning in any real sense, just modify the above to read "in the next decade". Then, when I win on May 17, 2014, I can use the memory I have of you, Hal, as my BIG GREEN PUNCHING BAG. Till then... Adieu!

oh crud!! one last post... I'll have to resurect the big green punching bag in about 50 years when we see for ourselves the extent of "global warming". That's the real beauty here. One side is right, one side is wrong (essentially) and we get to find out who!! Only thing is we have to wait 20,30,50,100 years to really see. But there it is, it is a debate that will be settled eventually.

Sarah has this one in the bag. She's smarter, knows how to convey her ideas, doesn't resort to pre-school debating techniques, and actually seems to respect people. Some on the other side have come close to impressing me, but Sarah really does. All I can say is you've convinced me, Sarah!

Well, I'm glad you showed up as the sacrificial punching bag and real-time evidence of the sloppy thinking and untethered perception of right-wing foamers.

Foamer? I think I have kept my countenance pretty well. Meanwhile, I get such high-calibre responses as "Hahahahahaha" and "LOL!!" Well, it's been my pleasure to perpetuate whatever stereotype you choose to have about people like me. And thanks for for the discussion -- I learned a lot. Mostly I learned that leftists are still churls who whine about tolerance and diversity (it's never a diversity of ideas) with one side of their mouths and spew venom with the other (Scott and Tim excepted). Why don't you take a poll to see how many people here agree with you, and then comfort yourself that consensus = correct. But make sure that these folks represent a scientifically accurate cross-section of leftist blog commenters (no state commenters!) before you publish your results. Or else.

Sarah has this one in the bag. She's smarter, knows how to convey her ideas, doesn't resort to pre-school debating techniques, and actually seems to respect people. Some on the other side have come close to impressing me, but Sarah really does. All I can say is you've convinced me, Sarah!

[!] I honestly don't know if this is praise or sarcasm. If it is the former, I think I blew it with my previous response. Oh, well. :)

"I think I have kept my countenance pretty well."

cf.
* "when things don't make sense, it is usually humanist dogma at the bottom of it."

* "Japan has a prosperous economy, because it is comprised of exceptionally hard-working people who live in a largely puritan culture." [truly a classic one! Economies are destroyed by high electricity prices, unless they're Asian Puritans. LOL!]

* "Anyone who isn't shackled by a visceral anti-capitalist mindset knows that it is impossible to regulate an economy."

* "The environmentalists, not content with trying the impossible, are attempting the truly insane by trying to regulate the economy and the climate at the same time."

* "Canada has only recently shed it's honorary third-world status"

* "every Scandinavian nation except for oil-rich Norway is on the brink of economic collapse."

This, in your world, is "keeping your countenance"?? I'm perpetually amused at the "I'm being civil, you fucking asshole" kind of debating that right-wing zombies such as yourself are so fond of. It must, on some level, be very satisfying to be so utterly self-unaware.

What comes a close second in amusement is the common knee-jerk response that if someone is mocking your arguments, they are therefore a "leftist", or more commonly, a "communist", "socialist", "pinko", etc. I'm sure if I hang around long enough, you'll tell us all that Hitler was a leftist, right?

Of course, let's not lose sight of the fact that you do not dispute any substantive claims I make, nor do you provide evidence to support your own claims, despite being asked for it repeatedly. This is also a very common form of expression for the "oh, shit, are they questioning my parroting of the echo chamber line?" types such as yourself.

And I don't need any form of consensus to know I'm right. I'm right because I'm not stupid enough to discuss issues of which I have no grasp, unlike you.

"That's the real beauty here. One side is right, one side is wrong (essentially) and we get to find out who!!"

Oh, yes, so "beautiful", this "interesting" little "experiment" we're conducting with the health of our planet and the ecosystems within it. Won't it be so "interesting" to find out that the predictions were correct and see coastal areas destroyed, reefs killed, more massive natural disasters, disease, etc. How very "interesting" this little "academic" exercise will be!

The deepest irony of our times -- these people call themselves "conservatives". Words have lost their meaning.

Dear commentators,
Please refrain from personal criticism of other commentators either individually or as a group. They may well be rightwing foamers or leftist venom spewers, but pointing this out will not advance the discussion.
If you do decide that some other commentator is not being honest, I would prefer that you just present the evidence that led you to that conclusion and let the reader draw their own conclusion.

My apologies. I'm of the "tit for tat" school of game theory and debate, and these things usually devolve when the other party feels frustrated at how humiliatingly wrong they are.

First time to your site -- very nice work.

Scott A. Robertson wrote:
17/5/2004 05:27:48
Eli, I agree with your CO2 assertion but don't share your conclusion that research won't narrow the range. I am hopeful that it will.

One of the why the uncertainty around radiative forcing is not likely to be reduced any time soon is that as the uncertainty around certain variables in the GCMs are reduced, new variables are constantly being introduced to improve the models as more is known about the climate system. Eli addresses this:

You could learn a lot by looking at model evolution and seeing how even though the models got orders of magnitude better the range of predicted warming stayed the same.

As for Sarah, where to start? I'll try to tackle a couple assertions.

Global warming studies have focused on surface data, especially those collected in urban areas.

There is a correction that is used for urbanization in the global surface temperature calcuations.

But a cooling trend is seen in the lower five miles of the atmosphere.

There is a lot of vertical variability of atmospheric temperature. This variabilty is due to natural and anthropegenic causes. The Third Assessment Report (TAR) addresses this issue extensively. A money quote from the TAR:

There is an overall consistency in the patterns of upper air temperature changes with those expected from increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone (tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling).

Additionally, to summarize others, the boundaries of concern are surface temperature because that is where the flora and fauna (including us) are.

The National Research Council acknowledged these findings in a 2001 report to the White House -- the NRC admitted they were baffled by the data and then went on to speculate that the cooling cannot be explained entirely by natural trends, blah, blah, blah.

That "blah, blah, blah" is actually more significant than you credit. Here is the TAR summary of the NRC findings:

This disparity has been assessed recently by a panel of experts (National Academy of Sciences, 2000). They concluded that "the troposphere actually may have warmed much less rapidly than the surface from 1979 to the late 1990s, due both to natural causes (e.g., the sequence of volcanic eruptions that occurred within this particular 20-year period) and human activities (e.g., the cooling in the upper troposphere resulting from ozone depletion in the stratosphere)" (see also Santer et al., 2000). They also concluded that "it is not currently possible to determine whether or not there exists a fundamental discrepancy between modelled and observed atmospheric temperature changes since the advent of satellite data in 1979".

Wow, did you catch that last part? They say that the uncertainty in the satelite datasets is such that they are basically useless in determining the validity of the GCMs.

Regardless of whether or not this speculation for causation turns out to be accurate, a global cooling trend is evident and acknowledged by our own government scientists.

I don't know where you get this from. It seems that the NRC, while acknowledging that there is data that supports this conclusion, does not endorse it. Also, because the IPCC represents the consensus of scientists representing the world's governments, the IPCC reports actually represent the official position of the United States government. It's consensus remember.

But the data don't show anything of the kind happening. What we do have is a lot of argument over climate changes of less than 1 degree C, and a lot of models making predictions.

I think Eli addressed this. But I should go back to the IPCC TAR again:

The globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C (Figure 22(a)) over the period 1990 to 2100.

That is one hell of a lot different that less than 1 degree. In terms of cost, the TAR also addresses mitigation. In terms of Kyoto compliance cost, with trading, cost to Annex II countries would be from 0.1-1.1%GDP in 2010. I think we all can agree that Kyoto's is flawed in that it focusses on GHG emissions instead of GHG stabilization. Well how much would it cost to stabilize the climate? The TAR says:

The GDP reduction (averaged across storylines and stabilization levels) is lowest in 2020 (1%), reaches a maximum in 2050 (1.5%), and declines by 2100 (1.3%).

No matter how you slice it, mitigating climate change will not put us in the poor house and the economic arguments against mitigation on an international scale are rather well founded.

By Bubb Rubb (not verified) on 18 May 2004 #permalink

that may all be very well, but what about the fact that no one can meet their Kyoto targets? We will certainly find out if global warming is a real threat, because our tiny attempt at reducing it will fail miserably. The global economy simply cannot take the hit that Kyoto would bring.

This is mostly a continuation of Bubb Rubb's post.
First, with respect to the (A)MSU lower trop measurements, the IPCC and NRC reports have been overtaken by time. ALL MSU lower trop (still up there a couple of km) records now show warming since 1979, which is when they started. That includes Spencer and Christy. The reconstructions are consistent with the surface record, although maybe only at the lower limits for some of them. So, as Emily Litella used to say, "Never Mind".

Second, the MSU CLEARLY shows a COOLING of the stratosphere. This is a clear predictions from GCMs for increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the troposphere. So when someone says MSU reconstructions show atomspheric cooling ya gotta ask WHERE.

There are many other observed signals that are predicted from GCMs which makes the case for anthropic warming strong.

Ben would do well to look at the data. Some countries are meeting the Kyoto targets, including Sweden and the UK and Germany is only a bit off. Russia and the Ukraine, for example are also probably in compliance.

Finally to all the urban heat island squackers (a serendipitous combination of squawk and quack) out there, let me point out that urban density has decreased in the last century, and that the heat island effect is extremely local as anyone who ever walked into Central Park could tell you. The fact that what is measured are temperature anisotropies also makes the signature of the heat island effect extremely small.

"the fact that no one can meet their Kyoto targets"

Proof?

"our tiny attempt at reducing it will fail miserably"

Proof?

"The global economy simply cannot take the hit that Kyoto would bring."

Proof?

Which data? Russia hasn't adopted the Kyoto protocal so how can they be in compliance? That makes no sense, unless they were given a sweetheart deal in which they had to make no restrictions.

Germany is only a bit off for now, UK will fall behind...

From what I've read, the UK is becoming concerned about the costs of meeting its obligations, and Spain is not going to even come close. There's not much more to say, but to wait and see what happens, and I predict it will be bad, very bad for the EU. If I'm wrong, great. If I'm correct, well...

Hal, we'll see the proof in the result. I think things won't work out in the short run, and the long run will be a disaster. Time will tell.

If I can add evidence to Eli's post and assertion, the satellite dataset analyses are becoming more and more in line with sfc warming.

Last October a conference was held to figger out why the later analyses were diverging from the S&C analyses. The workshop URL is here:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/rvtt.html

Anyone who asserts sat temps show big difference from sfc temps doesn't know what they are talking about and are likely parrotting SEPP or see-oh-too.

HTH

D

Paul Georgia wrote, "Moreover, temperature and energy aren't the same thing. The internal energy of a system can change without changing the temperature and the temperature can change while the internal energy of the system remains the same. In fact, this occurs all the time in the climate because the two variables are fundamentally different classes of thermodynamic variables and there is no physical law that requires that they move together."

Tim Lambert responds, "Wow. I guess we'll just have to ditch the entire field of thermodynamics then."

No, Tim, but perhaps you could take some additional thermodynamics. Or think more carefully about what comprises the atmosphere.

Tim continues, "In fact, Temperature T and internal energy U are related by the formula
U=T*m*c
where m is the mass and c the specific heat. It is true that it is possible for internal energy to change without affecting the temperature if there is a phase change, but the atmosphere stays way above the temperature of liquid nitrogen, so this makes almost no difference to temperatures."

This observation would be relevant if the atmosphere were ONLY composed of nitrogen, oxygen, CO2, helium, and other such gases (i.e. gases with extremely low condensation temperatures at atmospheric pressure). But you neglect the fact that the atmosphere contains *water,* as both a liquid and a gas.

Paul Georgia is absolutely right...and you're not making yourself look good by mocking him. There is absolutely no physical law that requires that atmospheric temperature increases merely because the internal energy of the atmosphere (temporarily) increases.

The internal energy of the atmosphere could be increased by more water being evaporated from the oceans (while leaving the temperature of the atmosphere the same).

This water could be in a vapor form, which might cause an atmospheric temperature increase (by absorbing infrared re-radiation from the surface), or it could be in the form of droplets, which might cause a temperature decrease (by reflecting light before it ever gets to the surface).

I score it: Paul Georgia = 1, Tim Lambert =0.

P.S. Truth in posting comment: actually, I'd score it as 1 to 1, since I don't agree with Georgia's comment that, "Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity."

Bubb Rubb writes, "I think Eli addressed this. But I should go back to the IPCC TAR again:"

(Quoting the IPCC TAR): "The globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C (Figure 22(a)) over the period 1990 to 2100."

The IPCC TAR may also predict that we'll have to build an Ark and put 2 of every kind of animal on it by 2100, but that doesn't mean their prediction has any substantial probability of occurring.

The IPCC TAR's projections for atmospheric methane concentrations, CO2 emissions, CO2 atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental "science."

Mark Bahner (environmental engineer)

P.S. See http://mark.bahner.50g.com for details, and especially "What will happen to us?"

Benny old boy, Russia can be in compliance if their emissions are lower by 10% than in the baseline year of the treaty. They don't have to ratify to be in compliance, and frankly even if they ratify, they could either be in or out of compliance. Russia is, however, a signatory, as is the US. Thank you for another non sequitor.

My personal opinion about Russia, is that they are waiting for an offer before ratifying or not. The only vote that counts is, of course, Putin, and he is shopping his vote.

That Spain is far out, is true, but your statement was that NO country was in compliance, and that, as can be seen from a simple web search, was an untruth, prevarication, false impression, oh heck, a straight out lie.

Actually, it's not a lie, just ignorance. Or is it the same thing to say something is true if you don't know for sure? Anyway, what I wanted to say, is that I think compliance is going to be difficult in the long run (decade) and that as far as I know some significant countries are having significant difficulty.

The thing about russia is that if they can meet their target without trying, what was the point of their target? And Putin being able to "shop around"? What the hell is that? Bribing him to get him to sign on to Kyoto? How shitty is that?

note: "significant countries" does not mean "significant numbers of countries" just in case you were curious about my meaning.

Eli Rabbett writes, "Finally to all the urban heat island squackers (a serendipitous combination of squawk and quack) out there, let me point out that urban density has decreased in the last century, and that the heat island effect is extremely local as anyone who ever walked into Central Park could tell you."

1) The question of whether urban densities have increased or decreased is both debatable and *irrelevant.* What is unquestionably true is that the amount of asphalt used for roads, parking lots, and roof shingles has increased dramatically in the last 100 years. In fact, it's a reasonable approximation to state that, "There were no such things as asphalt roads, asphalt parking lots, or asphalt roof shingles 100 years ago." It is the decrease in albedo (increase in absorbtion) caused by replacing trees and ground with asphalt that causes the urban heat island effect.

2) You'd have to define "extremely small" to defend your statement that the urban heat island effect is "very small." Here is a semi-quantitative depiction from Lawrence Berkeley Labs:

http://eetd.lbl.gov/HeatIsland/HighTemps/

You'll notice that even in the area defined as "suburban residential," the temperature is about 1 degree Celsius warmer than rural areas.

"The fact that what is measured are temperature anisotropies also makes the signature of the heat island effect extremely small."

I don't understand. The simple fact is that the majority of land surface temperature measurement locations used by the surface temperature measurement network are located near urban areas. Considering the diagram on the Lawrence Berkeley site, and the fact that we're talking about a temperature rise from 1940 to 2004 of only approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, I don't see how the effects of urban heat islands can be simply dismissed as "quack" concerns.

"The thing about russia is that if they can meet their target without trying, what was the point of their target?"

I think the point of their target was to supply emission "credits" so that rich countries (e.g. the U.S.) could "buy" those credits, and not have to really reduce emissions. In other words, it's basically a way to transfer money from wealthier countries to Russia.

Ben writes, "Anyway, what I wanted to say, is that I think compliance is going to be difficult in the long run (decade) and that as far as I know some significant countries are having significant difficulty."

Well, I think the requirement for the U.S. was to be at a level that was 7% below the 1990 emissions by 2012. The U.S. is currently about 15% ABOVE the 1990 level. So if the U.S. were to meet the Kyoto Protocol limits without buying someone's "credits," the U.S. would have to reduce GHG emissions by about 22% in 8 years. That's basically impossible. And that's why the U.S. Senate will never ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Mark, you don't seem to have paid much attention to what I wrote. I specifically said "unless there is a phase change", which includes evaporation of water. Once the water is in the atmosphere as a gas, the relationship between temperature and internal energy holds. Georgia claimed there wasn't any relation, which is not true.

I looked at the GHCN data and most of the weather stations are in rural locations. Hansen quite clearly states that the warming trend is based on the observations in rural stations.

Urban densities have decreased in the past century. Here is some data to break your teeth on (it is very hard)

http://www.demographia.com/db-paris-history.htm
http://www.demographia.com/db-paris-popcht.htm
http://www.demographia.com/dbx-europe.htm

from
http://www.demographia.com/db-intlua-cover.htm
POPULATION DENSITY TRENDS

Among the 54 urbanized areas for which 1960 population density is available, 46 have experienced declines in density to 1990.

All urbanized areas outside the United States have experienced reductions in population density.

All 8 urbanized areas that have experienced population density increases are in the United States.

The top 10 and 15 of the 16 urbanized areas that have either gained population density or lost the least are in the United States (Munich ranks #11)

US and Australian urbanized areas are the least dense. Sampled Canadian urbanized areas are 2.2 times as US, while European are 4.2 times as dense. Asian urbanized areas are 14 times as dense as US and Australian urbanized areas.

All 63 surveyed urbanized areas had lower population densities in 1990 than in the first previous year for which there is data.

*********************
Now we also know that many, many small towns have lost population in the past century, France and the US being prime examples. What has grown are suburbs.

Tim writes, "Mark, you don't seem to have paid much attention to what I wrote. I specifically said "unless there is a phase change", which includes evaporation of water. Once the water is in the atmosphere as a gas, the relationship between temperature and interna energy holds. Georgia claimed there wasn't any relation, which is not true."

I did pay attention to what you wrote, Tim. What you wrote was wrong/irrelevant. Paul Georgia wrote that, "The internal energy of a system can change without changing the temperature..." And, "...there is no physical law that requires that they move together."

You wrote that there *was* such a law (deltaH = m*Cp* deltaT). Then you acknowledged that the equation didn't apply for cases of phase change. But then you talked about nitrogen, implying that nitrogen was the only gas for which phase change would be relevant. But water/water vapor is the compound for which phase change is relevant.

And that means that Paul Georgia is right...the internal energy of the atmosphere CAN increase without the temperature increasing. There is NOT a law that relates the two, because delta H = m*Cp*deltaT only applies when there is no phase change.

Eli Rabett writes, "Urban densities have decreased in the past century."

As I wrote before, Eli, that's completely irrelevant. What's relevant is that urban concentrations of asphalt roads, parking lots, and roofs have increased tremendously, because there essentially was NO asphalt 100 years ago. (I'm too lazy to look it up, but there was something like 100 miles of total asphalt roads in the U.S. in 1900. Now there are 500 million tons of road and parking lot asphalt laid every year.)

It's the increase in absorbtion of solar energy caused by replacing ground and vegetation with (black) asphalt that causes the heat island effect. Look at the Lawrence Berkeley website.

There likely were no or only minor heat islands back in 1904. Now urban heat islands are a huge issue in local temperature evaluation. But it's not the population density that's the issue...it's the amount of asphalt.

I mentioned nitrogen because that is what the atmosphere mostly is. Water vapour is less than 0.5% of the atmosphere. And the equation is true for water vapour as well if there is no phase change. The equation I gave is actually a good approximation. Do you also complain that Newtonian physics is the wrong way to describe the atmosphere because it doesn't account for relativistic effects?

And why do you keep going on about urban heat islands? The warming trend is based on the rural stations. You appear to be deliberately attempting to obfuscate the issue.

Alert! Alert! Mark Bahner on board! Engage at your own risk!

I must say Mark is correct about Urban Heat Islands and density.

However, UHI effects drop off rapidly in absence of hardscape and farm fields negate the effect within, in many cases - depending upon soil type and cropping systems - hundreds of meters (metres).

Having a 10 degree heat increase in the central core of a city means nothing to the GHCN when the station is 35 km away at the airport. And, as has been the case for over a decade, rural stations have been isolated and analyzed as such, with heat islands in mind. The extent of urban influence has been analyzed many ways, ranging from statistical analysis to nighttime satellite pictures.

Anyone using heat islands as a reason for global warming is just trying to obfuscate the issue, or is a rube who has been duped by the indy-funded website they just read.

I have many papers on the subject I would be happy to pass on if someone wishes to read them.

D

People still debating whether we're changing the climate... quaint, really, but very sad. The issue has long been decided and most everyone has moved on to the "what to do about it" phase long ago.

Tim,

you and your comrades still don't understand temperature and heat.

Tim Lambert writes, "And the equation is true for water vapour as well if there is no phase change. The equation I gave is actually a very (sic!!!!) approximation. Do you also complain that Newtonain physics is the wrong way to describe the atmosphere because it doesn't account for relativistic effects?"

Heh, heh, heh! You failed to include the modifier between "very" and "approximation," Tim! But given your insulting and pathetic reference to "relativistic effects," I assume the think it's a very "GOOD" approximation! In fact, given your (again, insulting and pathetic) reference to relativistic effects, it looks like you think that your little equation describes the relationship between the internal energy and temperature of air to within less than 0.1 percent.

This reminds me of a joke told by one of my Intro to Engineering professors. He asked, "What's the difference between an engineer and a scientist?" The answer is, a scientist, when asked to design a sheep shearing machine, will respond with, "First, let's assume a spherical sheep."

Another joke (maybe from the same professor) along the same line: A scientist remarked, "The real world is merely a Special Case, and therefore we need not consider it."

You tout your equation as being an excellent model for the relationship between the temperature of the atmosphere and the internal energy of the atmosphere (apparently you think it's even comparable to Newtonian versus relativistic analysis of the atmosphere).but then you essentially ignore the **fact** that the atmosphere contains significant quantities of water, with changing states!

Well, here are some questions for you, Mr. (or is it Dr.?) Thermodynamics (Atmospheric Physicist): I have a given mass of dry air (i.e. at 0% relative humidity) at 20 degrees Celsius. Now I have the same mass of air at 20 degrees Celsius, but at 30% relative humidity (RH). Finally, I have the same mass of air at 20 degrees Celsius, but at 80% RH. Are the internal energies of those masses of air the same? If the internal energies of those air masses (all at 20 degrees Celsius) are NOT the same, what are the relative internal energies of those 3 air masses? (For example, your answer could be, "The internal energy of the air mass at 30% RH will be 0.01% higher than the air mass at 0% RH, and the internal energy of the air mass at 80% RH will be 0.03% higher than at 0% RH.")

Mark Bahner (BSME, Va Tech Class of '81) (Go Hokies!)

Tim, you say

I mentioned nitrogen because that is what the atmosphere mostly is. Water vapour is less than 0.5% of the atmosphere.

What was the percent of CO2 in the atmosphere again? I guess if it's less than 0.5% we can rule it out too.

On the subject of water vapor/humidity, what's the score on Lindzen versus Lin on the Infrared Iris hypothesis?

Sorry Mark, can't see how you can defend:
"Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity."

You're too smart a guy to get yourself stapled to this position. Also, there's absolutely no mention of humidity in the LobbyistCentralStation article.

My GOD Tim, I clicked on the link above in your reply to Louis. I haven't been there in ages. What a hoot!

That link would explain your thread about the GHCN.

I admire your patience, sir.

D

Well ben, ol boy you are talking carrots and beans. Water vapor and CO2 (and clouds) are the principal absorbers of infrared radiation in the atmosphere, however, how much they contribute to the specific heat of the air is another thing entirely.

Dano and Mark, while the amount of black road has gone up in the last century, the amount of black buildings has gone down. As you may remember if you are in your nineties, in the eary 1900s there was a lot of soot in cities from inefficient burning of coal and wood.

The amount of soot emitted had already peaked in the UK by 1900 and in the US by 1920.

Eli, the important thing is the extent of the UHI. How far it goes out from the hot core. Not the intensity.

Once you get out to farm fields, particularly irrigated annual row crops in clay soils, the temp drops right off. Very very few GHCN monitors are located in city centers - they usually are located around big cities at the ICAO weather stations at airports.

I would be happy to show you how the UHI works in Sacramento, CA, USA, where I used to live. I still subscribe (I believe) to the CIMIS wx station network there, and did a little study (unpublished) on the UHI there. It is typical of many UHIs, particularly in the midwestern US.

And Mark mentioned the LBL/LLNL/whatever Heat Island Group. Their folks, particularly Hashem Akbari, have numerous studies on roof color and composition and effects on UHI. I have the URL and many of his papers if you would like them.

Point being, the UHI has only a slight statistical effect on the overall temps reported by the GHCN in the CONUS; this has been dissected numerous times and the current knowledge appears robust.

Anyway, the conversion of land to cropped systems changes the albedo, cooling the land, and it has been shown that aggregate landcover change in the CONUS has actually cooled the average temp.

HTH

D

Dano, I know it is local, see original comment about walking into a park in a city (the temperature used to be measured in New York City Central Park above a meadow, quite a cool place). I also know about the various tests for effects of the UHI on surface temperature anomoly records, but the primary reason there is little effect is that what is measured are anomolies. If the surrounding area of a measuring station does not change, the bias does not change.

I want to go beyond this. My contention is that there are places where the UHI effect has been LOWERED in the past century, and that a priori, one cannot simply say that cities are larger, therefore the effect is larges, because the UHI effect has a very short range, and what you must look at is the density of population, albedo and other factors in the immediate neighborhood of the measuring station.

I am not surprised that land use on average has cooled the US in the past century, if for no other reason, the regrowth of the eastern forests.

Ah. I see your point Eli. That is exactly the contention you should be making.

Imhoff has published 2 papers looking at the DMSP sat pix and landcover change attempting to define your contention:

Marc L. Imhoff, Lahouari Bounoua, Ruth DeFries, William T. Lawrence, David Stutzer, Compton J. Tucker and Taylor Ricketts 2004. The consequences of urban land transformation on net primary productivity in the United States Remote Sensing of Environment 89:4 Pages 434-443

and

Christopher D. Elvidge, Marc L. Imhoff, Kimberly E. Baugh, Vinita Ruth Hobson, Ingrid Nelson, Jeff Safran, John B. Dietz and Benjamin T. Tuttle 2001. Night-time lights of the world: 1994-1995 ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 56:2 Pages 81-99.

I have these papers and can send them on if you can't get them.

BTW, forests have a darker reflectivity (darker albedo) and thus tend to be slightly warmer than bare soil or cropped fields, despite evapotranspiration's cooling effects and shade cast (counterintuitive, yes?).

HTH

D

Tom wrote, "On the subject of water vapor/humidity, what's the score on Lindzen versus Lin on the Infrared Iris hypothesis?"

I'm not interested in discussing that, because it's not relevant to this discussion. This discussion is about whether the things Paul Georgia wrote were right or wrong, and whether the things Tim Lambert wrote in response were right or wrong.

Tom continued, "Sorry Mark, can't see how you can defend: 'Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity.'"

When did I ever attempt to defend that statement, Tom? If you read my postings, you'll in fact find that I wrote (on 19 May, at 7:13):

"I score it: Paul Georgia = 1, Tim Lambert =0."

"P.S. Truth in posting comment: actually, I'd score it as 1 to 1, since I don't agree with Georgia's comment that, 'Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity.'"

So I've already written that I think Paul Georgia was wrong on that statement.

Just like I think Tim Lambert is wrong/irrelevant in some of his statements.

Oh, I missed Tom's concluding remark: "Also, there's absolutely no mention of humidity in the LobbyistCentralStation article."

Humidity came into the discussion due to Tim Lambert's claim that the delta U = m c delta T is as accurate to describe the relationship between internal energy and temperature in the atmosphere as Newtonian mechanics (i.e. neglecting relativistic effects).

I will show why humidity matters after Tim Lambert answers my question about whether 1 kg of dry (0% RH) air, air at 30% RH, and air at 80% RH all have the same internal energy, if they are all at 20 degrees Celsius.

And if he says, "Yes, they all have the same internal energy," I will ask him if that's true if all the packets of air were at 30 degrees Celsius. And if he answers "yes" to that, I will ask him about the amount of energy that must be removed to cool 1 kg of air at 30 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius, if the 1 kg is a) dry air, b) air at 30% RH, and c) air at 80% RH.

And after he answers that, we'll compare his answers with mine.

Say, thanks! I brushed up on my Collidge Rhetoric too. It says context is, like, kinda real important.

D

By Dano's name (not verified) on 21 May 2004 #permalink

NoName writes, "Here's a suggestion. Brush up on your college (not middle school) science:"

Bwahahahahaha! An ANONYMOUS poster suggesting that...I?..."brush up" on science. And then links to a site about thermodynamics as it applies to BIOCHEMISTRY (e.g. liquids with little or no gas present).

Sorry, NoName, I'm not impressed! Answer my questions (since it looks like Tim Lambert never will), and I'll be at least respectful. Answer them correctly, and I'll be impressed. Otherwise, you probably ought to go back to your trolling.

Dano writes, "...." Blah, blah, blah. Dano certainly doesn't have anything to add to this discussion (beyond the urban heat island stuff, which isn't really on-topic). If DANO answers my questions correctly, I'll send him $20!

:-)

A nice post by Tim, and I would say that Sarah and Mark Bahner had the best comments (staying composed while going 'against the grain').

Its too bad Hal had to come along and spoil a lot of the debate midway through.

My take on the article: Paul Georgia doesn't know what he's talking about. Anyone who can write 'Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity' obviously does not know what he is talking about. The fact that his later statement about temperature not necessarily tracking with internal energy is correct is--I believe--is most likely a happy coincidence. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

But we can't really know what thought processes went on in Mr. Georgia's head.

Anyhow, an excellent discussion. I always knew that the global warming debate was a tricky one, and its nice to hear facts/opinions from both sides.

One last thing: The next time you encounter someone as immature and foolish as Hal online, please don't say things like 'I forgot that liberals were this bad,' etc. His main identification should not be 'liberal' but 'ignorant.' There are a lot of ignorant people out there who throw around the terms liberal and conservative, but they often either don't know what these words mean or are too inarticulate to get their points across and simply fall back on stereotypes. They should not be taken as representative of the entire 'other side.'

Sarah: "So, 17,000 scientists rejecting Kyoto isn't relevant, but the opinions of a couple thousand scientists -- who do believe global warming -- is sufficient to change worldwide policy?

I'd love to see someone actually refute the OISM findings rather than nitpick over credentials."

I was motivated at one point to check how many people in the US had somr form of scientific qualification (ie.e a B Sc. or better).

I believe the number was somewhere around 2 million.

Does anyone doubt I could find more than 17,000 of them prepared to sign a petition supporting the global warming hypothesis?

Would anyone who currently doesn't support the hypothesis feel compelled to reverse their position if I did?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

Tim Lambert wrote:
17/5/2004 02:07:54
"Sarah, I don't know enough about the economic impact of Kyoto to make any firm comments on it. But I find it striking that the people who say the climate science is far too uncertain to justify any action turn around and tell me that the economic science is quite certain and shows that Kyoto will have a severe negative impact. "

For Australia at least, the economic science definitely does NOT show definite and large negative impacts for ratifying Kyoto.

Warwick McKibbin, who is a critic of Kyoto, conducted a modelling exercise which concluded that in the short to medium term the economic impact of ratifying Kyoto would be only slightly negative or possibly even marginally negative.

In the longer term, he concldued there would be moderate negative impact however when I took a detailed look at his underlying assumptions I concldued this was probably an overstatement.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

Sarah wrote:
17/5/2004 15:58:52
<<Tim, if you want to see living proof of the economic impact of environmental regulation, look no further than the energy crisis in California. Every state in the union is awash in cheap electrical energy, except for the one that has massive regulation. >>

Sara,

If you want to see how corporate interests can abuse both science and economics go back to the debates that preceded both the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances and the introduction of the US sulphur dioxide trading scheme.

In both cases, corporations and their hired advocates claimed that the costs of complaince would be massive and the economic benefits woudl be trivial.

In both cases, the actual costs were below what even the advocates of the restrictions had expected.

Never underestimate the ability of the free market to find cost-effective solutions when provided with the correct price signals.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

I also find it amusing to hear that high energy prices are the inevitable result of governemnt regulation.

How is it then that the government-owned elecrtricity industries in the Autralian states of New South Wales and Queensland produce some of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, power in the devleoped world AND regularly make significant dividend payments to the state governments.

Next door, in Victoria, a string of major international power companies have lost billions investing in privatised power plants in the belief that they would be able to compete successfully agaisnt the publicly-owned utilities in Australia's National Energy Market.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

"I tracked down the AASC web-site and found something that might be of interest. All of the members of the AASC are political appointees (see here)"

Guess which political party currently controls the governorshipd of (I beleive) 37 or 38 of the 50 Us states?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

Sara: "Japan has a prosperous economy, because it is comprised of exceptionally hard-working people who live in a largely puritan culture."

I must have missed the bit about the Puritans being massive fans of love hotels; pornogrpahy, all-night drinking parties and conspicuous consumption.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

Sara: "Cannabisbananabog (I can't spell)"

In that case, the polite thing to do would be to check the spelling, not to engage in mockery.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

ben wrote:
<<19/5/2004 01:26:36
that may all be very well, but what about the fact that no one can meet their Kyoto targets? We will certainly find out if global warming is a real threat, because our tiny attempt at reducing it will fail miserably. The global economy simply cannot take the hit that Kyoto would bring. >>

What are your economic qualifications to make this claim?

Even the professional economists who oppose Kyoto argue that the costs we will outweigh the benefits not becasue the global economy "can not take the hit".

Global economic output is approximately $20 trillion a year.

The targets for the first Kyoto commital period amount to a n annual reduction in emissions of around one billion tonnes compared with business-as-usual scenarios.

The market price for a credit for a one tonne reduction in emissions is around US$20.

So how is an annual cost $20 billion not sustaianble for a global economy one thousand tiems that size.

I fully expect that if you respond at all to this post, you'll raise various distractions such as "But what about China?"

Fine but answer the questions first.

As for my economic qualifications, my uiversity degree is a BA with a major in economics (Griffith University didn't offer B.Ec at the time). I recently resigned from the Queensalnd EPA were I spent abotu a decade as an economist working on greenhouse; resource and energy issues.

How about yours?

How is an annual cost of around

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

"The thing about russia is that if they can meet their target without trying, what was the point of their target? And Putin being able to "shop around"? What the hell is that? Bribing him to get him to sign on to Kyoto? How shitty is that?"

Well see, when the US and the oil majors started trying to bribe him NOT to sign it didn't leave the Europeans and Japanese much choice.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

<< Mark Bahner wrote:
19/5/2004 13:54:56
Eli Rabett writes, "Urban densities have decreased in the past century."

As I wrote before, Eli, that's completely irrelevant. What's relevant is that urban concentrations of asphalt roads, parking lots, and roofs have increased tremendously, because there essentially was NO asphalt 100 years ago. >>

What is the contribution to the heat island effect of the reduction in dark-colored aerosols and gases over the past century as industrial economies have repalced wood and coal with cleaner fuels?

I ask out of genuine curiosity as my background is economics not the physical sciences.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 07 Jun 2004 #permalink

The TCS piece says:

To restore radiative balance, the energy must be transported back to space in roughly the same amounts in which it arrived. The energy is transported via two processes - infrared radiation (heat transfer) and fluid dynamics (turbulence).

How does turbulence transport energy away from the Earth? It's not travelling in a medium that can be perturbed?

Certainly a regular garden greenhouse keeps the wind off the plants and therefore keeps them warmer. I can also see how increased energy in the atmosphere could be present as movement of air masses as well as increased temperature. But unless there is a net loss of atmosphere from the Earth I don't see how turbulence could transport energy to space.

Can someone enlighten me, or is TCS just wrong?

Is it possible within the ATMOSPHERE for temperature to go up (kinetic energy increases) while at the same time total energy goes down (internal energy descreases by more)? Could someone with know-how answer this question for me please.

I'm a little late adding to this blog, but I couldn't help notice all the back and forth about the OISM and the "consensus" of 17,000 scientists on global warming. I noticed also the back and forth about MSU measured satellite temperatures and "global cooling". Where to begin?

First, the OISM and the "consensus". The Petition Project was first circulated in early 1998 by mail mainly to meteorological professionals. Then, on the internet where virtually anyone could sign it. There were numerous bogus signatures, including "Dr." Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) whom we were told, had a Phd. in microbiology! Of the 17,000, only 2600 were actually verified as having degrees. Of these, the large majority were physicists. Only a few were actual climate scientists or scientists in any relevant field (my own Masters is in Applied Physics, and it did NOT prepare me at all to discuss global warming - what I learned, I learned of climate science on my own through years of study). According to PR Watch, the principal architect of the Petition, Arthur Robinson, admitted a few years back that only a few dozen signatories were climate scientists. Bear in mind also, that the study of meteorology emphasizes local forecasting and short range climate - not
The long range behavior of global climate. Weathermen (who were first targeted by the mailing and also comprise some of the signatories) are not qualified to speak on it. The petition is still posted at the OISM web site. I asks for only a name and a degree. No information about one's professional experience or publications is requested, nor is the university the degree came from, or even whether it is accredited. My mother could have signed it as a "climate scientist", and the background check on her may or may not have turned up anything.

As for the "science" behind the Petition, the paper which accompanied it by Robinson and his 22 year old son (who has no degree and was home schooled by his dad), S. Baliunas (whom I believe, also is involved with TCS), and W. Soon, was riddled with errors including references to out-of-date data, misquoted numbers, and even outright falsehoods. It was also deliberately formatted in a layout that mimicked the publishing format of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their denunciation of it shortly after the release of the Petition was to distance themselves from its conclusions and to condemn the attempted association with their journal.

Second, Sarah wrote "I'd love to see someone actually refute the OISM findings rather than nitpick over credentials." I'd be glad to. First, The authors of the accompanying paper made the usual contrarian claim that the NOAA POES satellites carrying MSU packages showed tropospheric cooling. The charted time series they showed in their paper was carefully cherry picked to show the cooling that followed the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. They cut out the sharp increase which followed later in the decade. Their citations for this chart were to Christy & McNider 1994, and Christy et. al. 1990, I believe. The first citation did not provide the data that went into their chart, and the other citation was two full revisions old when they cited it. Furthermore, the data that most closely approximated their chart was published in 1995 (UAH Ver. C, if memory serves me), and this data neglected corrections for satellite orbital decay - Christy et. al. even said so in the paper. And data on the needed correction for that had already been published (Wentz & Schabel, 1998). But of course, Robinson et. al. did not cite the actual data. Lastly, the analyses that showed cooling in the troposphere in 1998, a) neglected these orbital decay corrections for off-nadir views; b) neglected later more accurate corrections for non-linear radiometer gain anomalies and diurnal shift corrections for a few of the satellites (notably NOAA-7, NOAA-11, and NOAA-12) which were provided in UAH Ver. D (Christy et. al., 2000); c) were based on a virtual MSU channel called MSU2LT which was derived from MSU Channel 2 nadir views differences with off-nadir views, amplifying sampling noise considerably (later derivations by other teams avoided this error) and ending up with almost 20 percent of its signal coming from the surface; d) used an intersatellite data merging algorithm that was "backbone based" and overly smoothed, resulting in anomalously high hot calibration target factors for NOAA-9 (in fact, this alone accounts for nearly all the difference between Christy's numbers and those of later teams); e) used a method of diurnal drift correction that is noticeably polluted by sampling noise, and was not used by later teams; and f) neglects corrections for stratospheric influence on the observations - the stratosphere is known to be cooling due to ozone depletion and stratospheric emissions contribute almost 20 percent of the MSU Channel 2 observed brightness temperature. Fu et. al. corrected for this in their work in Nature last month, and with their corrections, tropospheric warming is little different from that predicted by model and theory. Incidentally, Spencer's criticisms of it in TCS completely misunderstand what Fu and his colleagues did. He claimed their tropospheric weighting function was impossible because it went negative. He completely missed that it was not a real one, but had a real and a virtual part - the latter derived from MSU Channel 4 (which measures the stratosphere) and was subtracted from the Channel 2 signal to remove the influence of stratospheric cooling. To make sure I understood Fu correctly on this, I bounced my understanding of his work off him in an email, and he heartily affirmed that I was right about his work. With the exception of Fu's work, most of this information was available at the time the Petition Project came out and was published elsewhere (see for instance, Trenberth and Hurrell, 1998; Jones P.D., 1994; etc.). Naturally, Robinson et. al. miss all of it.

And that's just the satellite part. I don't have the time or space to go into their blunders about the surface record and urban heat island effect, which they claim the IPCC ignored despite the fact that a review of their publication shows extensive discussion of it (IPCC, 2001). Nor have I gotten to their ignorance of climate models - one of their figures shows numbers that though cited to the IPCC, not only cannot be found in any IPCC publication, but also display a complete misunderstanding of what flux corrections to these models are, and also ignored the many models which do not use them. Nor do I have time to discuss their blunders regarding the impacts of global warming on plant life or on historic warming.

For more on the Petition Project and the OISM, visit the page I have devoted to it at my web site at www.scottchurchimages.com/enviro/ccgwpp.asp. By the way, the Leipzig Declaration Sarah mentioned was equally ridiculous, and my page on it is at
www.scottchurchimages.com/enviro/ccgwpp.asp.

A few more thoughts on the OISM. First, one minor correction to my last post. I said that Robinson et. al. cited Christy et. al., 1990 and Christy & McNider, 1994. I checked my notes again, and they cited two works of Christy et. al. from 1990 and the correspondence in nature was from 1997. Neither point changes anything I said about the citations or the correspondence -- just trying to be thorough and keep my story straight.

Second, regarding the "consensus", it is worth noting that Scientific American recently interviewed 30 or so of the Petition's signatories chosen entirely at random. Of the 30, only one was a climate change researcher and only two others had any sort of background in relevant fields. Eight (nearly a third of those sampled) said they signed the petition based on nothing more than an informal evaluation of the accompanying Robinson et. al. paper with little or no attempt to check the quality of the research behind it. Six said that based on what they know today, they would not have signed the petition, and three said they did not even remember it. Five did not respond. My Petition page linked above has a link to the article. If these results are even remotely representative of the whole, over 6000 of the signatories didn't even read the accompanying paper with anything more than a quick glance over, and 1 in 5 signatories regret having signed and wouldn't sign it today knowing what they now know. Thousands wouldn't even remember it! Folks, I could come up with a better "scientific consensus" than this standing out in front of a Howard Johnson's with a cheap suit and a pink carnation offering a free pen and a car wash to anyone who would sign my petition and say they were a "scientist". This is not acceptable work.

Also, the paper even contains basic numerical errors. At one point for instance, citing Douglas, B.C., 1995, they quote a figure for the rate of global sea level rise in an attempt to show that global warming is not impacting oceans. A check of the paper they cited reveals that the figure in question was an acceleration, not a rate of rise. 30 minutes of proper proofreading should have caught something like this.

Etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on about that paper and that Petition! It's no wonder that the PNAS refused to publish it. It is also noteworthy that today, 7 years after it was first released, the paper is still at the OISM web site, and no attempt of any kind has been made to correct any of the errors or to update it in any way. The MSU satellite data cited therein in now almost a decade old, with some of the information used going back 14 years (before my niece was born, and she's already thinking about where she wants to attend college)! The MSU analyses they reference have been through 2 or 3 full revisions in the meantime, and Robinson et. al. are still quoting the decade+ old ones! Folks, if I had defended my Masters Thesis in physics this way, I would have been unceremoniously flunked 10 minutes into my defense.

One last thing. We can get an idea of the overall quality of science done by the OISM by considering some of their other endeavors such as an online creationism news group set up to help fundamentalists (of which Robinson is one) defeat the demon of evolution. Then, there is their home schooling kit which sells for $200 and in Robinson's words, is intended to "teach your children to teach themselves and to acquire 'superior knowledge' as did many of America's most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education". The kit is based largely on the 1911 (!) Encyclopedia Brittanica and the old McGuffey Reader. Here we go! More paranoia about "socialism" in education. And for heaven's sake -- The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica???

Folks, I rest my case!

Nice and thorough, Scott. Thanks.