A picture is worth a thousand words

Bob Carter has managed to get a whole bunch of people to sign a letter touting his warming ended in in 1998 claim. Here's what they signed:

there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling.

I bet that they didn't include a graph of global temperatures:

i-e41085efda34ceb0dcd669b1a667d11d-gat2005.png

You know, even the CEI admits that this "warming ended in 1998" claim is disingenuous, but look at all the people who signed Carter's disingenuous letter.

And look who Nexus 6 spotted in the list: Edward Wegman. Yes, the man touted as an independent judge of McIntyre and McKitrick arguments against the hockey stick turns out to be a global warming denier.

More like this

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic. Objection: Global temperatures have been trending down since 1998. Global Warming is over. Answer: At the time, 1998 was a record high year in both the CRU…
Hey, remember how all the global warming skeptics used to say that warming wasn't happening because the satellite data didn't show a warming trend. Until in 2005 when they found a mistake in the satellite data and what do you know, it did show warming. And they stopped using that argument? Well…
Bob Carter has a piece in the Telegraph where he claims: For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the…
[Guest post by John Mashey] This is a follow-up to the original falsification, flat-earth maps and dog astrology journal @ STW or cleaner version by Neverending Audit. It originally was a comment to be attached to WMC's Attacked! or WUWT: taking incompetence to a whole new level. Introduction The…

He got Louis Hissink and Zbigniew Jaworowski, too.
Drs. Larry, Curly and Moe Howard were unavailable for comment.

Actually thats Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard.

Why this is really interesting is that you often hear those names paged in the background on TV shows and movies.

Thanks, Mike! Now I know the IPCC blames babies for global warming. Evil, evil babies--that's the consensus.

Here is the truth about Global Warming.

Hmm... no colon. I guess by "here" you are referring either to Deltoid in particular or Scienceblogs in general. Nice endorsement!

"WEGMAN: Carbon dioxide is heavier than air. Where it sits in the atmospheric profile, I don't know. I'm not an atmospheric scientist..."

Perhaps the blue on the graph above is supposed to represent CO2 settling into the valleys.

Somebody needs to ask Wegman if H2O is heavier than water and if so, where it sits in the water column. I don't know 'cause I'm not a water chemist.

Disappointing to see Don Aitkin as a signatory to something like this. I know Lindzen has given passing support to "global warming stopped in 1988" before, but this letter, with its absurd reference to a "plateau" is a much stronger version of the claim.

By John Quiggin (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

Interesting, on the other hand that McIntyre didn't sign. Given that it's published in Canada, you would imagine he was asked.

By John Quiggin (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

I was also disappointed to see Reid Bryson on there. Otherwise the list seems to be largely the usual useful idiots.

Ha! If you go to Mike's YouTube link for the videos on "Global Warming Fraud," you get a screen full of video thumbnails, all of them purportedly taking on the notion of human-caused climate change. The only video on the page with a multiple-star rating is one by comedian George Carlin, who delivers a rant about the hypocritical self-absorbed yuppies who want to "save the planet," mocking the impact of tiny humanity on an earth billions of years old. The crowd eggs him on with cheers and laughter. Then, partway through his rant, after saying several times that we can't harm the earth, he sticks in the knife by noting that, "The earth isn't going anywhere, although we are."

There's a pause in the laughter, which probably indicates that the people who were most enjoying Carlin's diatribe just figured out he is talking about the planet's survival, not the survival of its ecosystem. Sure, humanity will go extinct, the environment will go into upheaval, and some completely new equilibrium point will eventually be reached. Then I think the people who were probably grim-faced and tight-lipped during the first part of Carlin's piece take over the laughter and the anti-eco crowd who assumed Carlin was a climate-change denialist must grimace as they realize he isn't actually: He's just saying it's no big deal if we foul our nest and die. The nest will raise up some other form of life. It's robust. We're puny.

Oh boy, on the same day that these skeptics signed onto Bob Carter's editorial, NOAA released this:

NOAA: 2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe

Here's a gem from the press release: "This currently establishes 2007 as the eighth warmest on record. Only February and April were cooler-than-average, while March and August were second warmest in the 113-year record."

I think Bob Carter et al. are truly deserving of the "Rake of the Year Award."

Once again, that trendline in the graphic does not support your point. It is not a "since 1998" trendline.

By nanny_govt_sucks (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

There is no "since 1998" trend that has meaning in a climatological context. A few years of variability means nothing, one way or the other. Even the most recent year of arctic melting does not constitute a "new trend".

I thought you 'Anti Global Warming" folks were all top-notch statisticians?

There is no "since 1998" trend that has meaning in a climatological context.

That's beside the point. Tim is trying to discredit the "since 1998" claim. In order to do so, he should use data and trendlines "since 1998". The graphic he's presented doesn't do that.

By nanny_govt_sucks (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

nanny_govt_sucks said: "Tim is trying to discredit the "since 1998" claim. In order to do so, he should use data and trendlines "since 1998". The graphic he's presented doesn't do that."

Tamino put to rest the nonsense about global warming stopping in 1998

I notice nanny also posted in the comments there, so he is certainly aware that the trend shows warming since 1998 (even if one includes 1998, the peak year of El Nino)

Nanny seems to go from blog to blog recycling his "skepticism".

It gets old after a while.

Hmm,

I thought you all were scientists?

No one denies that we are in a warming trend. The only doubt I have whether it is anthropogenic or not.

There are several competing hypotheses as to what is causing our current warming trend. To strip out the BS, here are several of the current debates:

1) There is an *UNPROVEN* hypothesis that human activity has increased the atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.
2) There is an *UNPROVEN* hypothesis that changes in solar activity has increased (and decreased) the atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.
3) There is an *UNPROVEN* hypothesis that changes in the global average temperatures have increased (and decreased) atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.
4) There is an *UNPROVEN* hypothesis that changes in the
concentrations of some trace chemicals have increased (and
decreased) global average temperatures.

Most of the comments I see here are mistaking correlation with causation, just as the post regarding the NOAA record is.

Science is not a popularity contest: The number of authorities who subscribe to a given hypothesis has no relationship to its empirical accuracy or validity.
Theories require proven, predictable results. They do not require a democratic vote of the authorities. If the opinion of a majority of the authorities was all that was required, we would still think the earth was flat. Empirical proof is *required*.

If there is an increase in the current warming trends due to manmade increases in CO2 levels, then we might want to do something about it. But what if it is caused by sunspot activity, as some very reputable researchers believe? Do we want to take drastic measures which will kill a lot of people as are currently in vogue?

Think back (if you were alive then) to the Global Cooling predictions of 1975. The proposed solutions were also drastic: things like spreading coal dust across the Arctic and Antarctic. That turned out to be a mistaken prediction. But what if we had actually done it? Where would we be now? Do we have the knowledge--when we cannot even model the effects of clouds in our computer simulations which are the foundation of current IPCC theory--to accurately manage the global climate?

I personally don't think so.

So you can call me a apostate. I believe in climate change; but I do not believe--or disbelieve--in the currently ascribed causes. I will wait for the empirical evidence before making a decision. And based on that, I think we can come to a general consensus on effective means of dealing with it.

Nags, I know you visit 'Open Mind'. I know you saw Tamino's presentation of the trends over the past years. I know you didn't like that the linear trend since 1998 is still relentlessly positive (r = .24 by the raw data used to make up that graph, a slope of +.008 degrees C per year). Not bad, considering the data was cherrypicked to give the opposite impression. Take it out a few years earlier and the slope is much higher (.02 degrees/year), as expected since 1998 was an El Nino year.
But even though I know all this, I just don't know why you insist on foisting your own illusions on those of us in the reality-based community. As missionaries for capitalism go, you're making a lot of converts: for anything but.
However, we can tell Bob C that the facts go against his nonsense, carefully handpicked though it was. I guess it's just not vintage nonsense. Perhaps if he used a 2-year trend? It's -.062 from 2005 to 2006. On the other hand, it's +.024 from 1999 to now, consistent with the trend over the last 25 years. He loses even when he picks the cards.

SteveB 'If there is an increase in the current warming trends due to manmade increases in CO2 levels, then we might want to do something about it. But what if it is caused by sunspot activity, as some very reputable researchers believe?"

Oh, brother, the sunspots in our eyes are killing us.

Might I suggest you educate yourself a little on the basics before you assume everyone else is "mistaking correlation with causation"? [sic] (should read "equating correlation with causation" or perhaps "mistaking correlation for causation" )

Contrary to your own mistaken belief, the question of the source of the recent warming has been quite extensively considered by climate scientists and they have come to the conclusion that most of it is anthropogenic in origin.

Perhaps you might start with the latest IPCC report.

That's beside the point. Tim is trying to discredit the "since 1998" claim. In order to do so, he should use data and trendlines "since 1998". The graphic he's presented doesn't do that.

That would be a stupid thing for Tim to be trying to do, and it is certainly not how I interpret his post.

The issue is not whether or not the trend since 1998 is up or down. The issue is that it is statistically invalid to cherry-pick a particular year when the temperature is particularly high and insist upon calculating the "trend" from that particular year. This is an elementary and well-known statistical error. Basically, when you have a noisy signal, you can create the appearance of "trend" in whatever direction you choose if you are allowed to choose as your starting point a time when the value is particularly high or particularly low (why start at 1998? why not 2000?). The statistical rule is that you must either use the entire data set, or make the decision as to what intervals to examine trends over before you look at the data.

Steve: you say you do not believe in the currently ascribed causes for climate change, presumably referring to increases in atmospheric CO2, methane and other greenhouse gasses. I am curious as to what your views are so perhaps you could say where you disagree with the following.

It was established about 150 years ago that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation.

About 100 years ago the effect of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 on Earth's temperature was calculated. Since then, the estimate has been refined but it turns out that the original estimate was not far wrong.

There has been a documented rise in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 50 years.

Evidence from several sources indicates this is a result of human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels.

Given the basic physics, a rise in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is expected to result in an increase in global temperatures, provided there is no massive feedback mechanism or other process acting in the opposite direction.

No negative process that is remotely close to the magnitude required has been identified.

Given this, a rise in the Earth's temperature is to be expected and in fact the observed rise accords quite well with predictions.

As you seem to disagree with the conclusion, I would like to know exactly which step you feel is incorrect, and the evidence you have to support your views.

You refer to mysterious trace chemicals that you claim have increased and decreased as a result of changes in solar activity. What are these chemicals? Do you have evidence for changes in solar activity? The graphs I have seen show virtually no change.

You claim you require empirical evidence. What experiments do you think need to be done and which data do you think need to be collected? What specific results, if they were to be found, would convince you that anthropogenic greenhouse gasses are resulting in global warming?

BTW Scientific theories are never proven to be correct, at best they merely withstand every attempt to show that they are wrong.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

No one denies that we are in a warming trend.

First sentence in the original post.

Bob Carter has managed to get a whole bunch of people to sign a letter touting his warming ended in in 1998 claim.

This is just the first of the provably false statements in Steve's post.

That was easy!

Hi all

Tim, which graph do you wish to use, the one on this post or the one from the satillite data on your post:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/11/a_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_1…

The latter shows a levelling off in temperture since 2000. Lets just say 1998 was an anomily. I know in New Zealand 2007 was not a special year temperture wise, in Auckland anyway. The graph even suggests that 2007 is quite cool compared to the last few years.

So I am a bit confused on which data I should use. Please elighten me.

Regards from a non warming New Zealand
Peter Bickle

By Peter Bickle (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

Use whichever dataset you wish. The linear trend starting at 1998 through 2006 is positive for UAH, RSS, Hadley/CRU, and NASA. NASA has the most, RSS has the least. Of these, NASA is the only one to cover the poles, which is the primary reason that its numbers are higher (since that is where the highest anomalies are).

Hi all

CCE, from the post cited by Tim I reckon the trend is linear since the turn of the century.

Regards
Peter Bickle

By Peter Bickle (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

I know in New Zealand 2007 was not a special year temperture wise...

Hey, look dude, only we Americans are allowed to substitute our country for the world when speaking of "global" trends.

"Hi all

CCE, from the post cited by Tim I reckon the trend is linear since the turn of the century."

Distinguishing between a linear and a non-linear trend over seven years is quite a feat, especially done by eyeball as appears to be the case here.

By John Quiggin (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

Hi all

You can say that John, I made a judgement call. It will not be exact to zero but it will only be a small slope either + or -. All I am saying is that using satillite data there has been no significant warming since the turn of the century based on this.

Regards
Peter Bickle

By Peter Bickle (not verified) on 13 Dec 2007 #permalink

Of course, by the same argument I might suggest that, based on the the 2007 winter, winter arctic ice mass is asymptotically heading to 0.
Hmm, I wonder if I can write that up and get it into GRL...

Peter B - I didn't know eyeballing a graph was an effective way to determine statistical significance. (And didn't you mean to say 'from 1998', not 'from the turn of the century'?)

Tamino looked at this canard a few months ago by plugging the data into a spreadsheet:

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/08/31/garbage-is-forever/

His (or her?) conclusion: whether you use the GISTEMP or HadCRU data, the slope from 1998 to the present is positive, and the trend is statistically significant.

Hi all

Not often I get 3 replies with out abuse, (I am tough skinned though:)), I must be improving my manners!

All I am saying is that the satillite data looks pretty flat lined for me since 2000. I have no qualms about the rise from 1979, but this rise has now settled down since 2000. Tell me I am wrong based on this graph, but it is a horizontal line from 2000 onwards.

From this I am going to say the rate of GW increase has decreased in the first 7 years of this century. What is the slope of the trend line since 1999 or 2000, it will be a lot shallower than from 1979 to 2007.

Also, it looks like ice levels in the artic have returned to normal and the Antartic is not warming, except for the Peninsula. There is more to what is happening than meets the eye, IMHO.

Regards
Peter Bickle

By Peter Bickle (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

steveB, your constant repetition of "UNPROVEN" shows that you don't know what science is. Science cannot prove, only disprove. If science finds the truth, it is incapable of proving that what it has found is the truth. Science is only capable of proving that wrong ideas are indeed wrong.

Go learn.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Peter, it's really not possible to draw any particular conclusions from short term changes in any data time series. It is apparent for instance that in the last 40 years while the temperature has been trending upwards there are plenty of local minima. If global satellite derived temperatures stay as they are for, perhaps, another 10 years we will have some reason to speculate. Increasing CO2 emissions suggest that this is unlikely.

Arctic ice? it freezes every winter; this is unsurprising. However, that ice is thin and more likely melt quickly in the following summer. (I hope the lack of change in arctic ice in Auckland is reassuring to you.) Frankly noone has any basis on which to evaluate how much of an outlier the 2007 melt season is until the peak of the 2008 melt season. All we know for sure is that 2007 was a long way off the beaten track.

Peter seems to forget that New Zealand is surrounded by ocean, which will greatly moderate changes in temperature.

A bit snarky, I know, but isn't it always amazing that confused people or denialists or sceptical people are the first to lecture scientists on how science works, and the last to accept the results when science is actually done.

I have no qualms about the rise from 1979

Really? You should have. It went from 0.02 deg C in September 1979 to -0.06 deg C in May 2006. How can you call that a rise?

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Why do people keep responding to Peter Bickle?

You show him the data and he just responds with the same denial and/or just moves the goal posts: From "The latter [satellite data] shows a levelling off in temperture since 2000" to "I am going to say the rate of GW increase has decreased in the first 7 years of this century".

Most people would be embarrassed to keep posting the same rubbish -- and being shown wrong -- time and gain.

I'm confused. Why is this different from the previous "A picture is worth a thousand words" post? Is there data/documentation publically available for this one, too?

steveb posts:

[[1) There is an UNPROVEN hypothesis that human activity has increased the atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.]]

Well, first of all, science doesn't deal in "proof" -- only evidence. But there is overwhelming evidence that humans have raised the level of carbon dioxide in ambient air. Hans Suess first detected the isotope signal of fossil fuel carbon in air back in 1955.

[[ 2) There is an UNPROVEN hypothesis that changes in solar activity has increased (and decreased) the atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.]]

Huh? What?

[[ 3) There is an UNPROVEN hypothesis that changes in the global average temperatures have increased (and decreased) atmospheric concentrations of some trace chemicals.]]

Are you talking about the way CO2 goes up or down with Milankovic cycles? I don't think any climatologist doubts it at this point.

[[ 4) There is an UNPROVEN hypothesis that changes in the concentrations of some trace chemicals have increased (and decreased) global average temperatures.]]

It's as close to completely factual as any scientific theory can get. The only reason the Earth isn't frozen over is because of greenhouse gases -- its equilibrium temperature, from solar constant and albedo alone, is well below freezing.

Could someone please explain how to read the graph to me. Obviously I can see that at some point there is a + in the temperature but what is the 0 mark a reference to? Some average?

Thank you

apy,

Yes, the 0 line is an average centered on the decade around 1980. It is a reference line. The graph isn't measuring temperature as such, but the temperature anomaly in comparison to the reference period.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Also, it looks like ice levels in the artic have returned to normal...

Repeat until you are blue in the face:

Volume, not surface area, matters.

Volume, not surface area, matters.

Yep! I don't get it! With some people you can put the charts and graphs right in front of them and they still won't believe! Life can be strange!
Dave Briggs :~)

Reading Carter's pulled quote again, it appears he is using the term "net global warming" since 1998. One wonders what the definition of "net" is in this case and whether Tim's graphic showing a trendline since 1850 is any refutation of Carter's quote. Perhaps by "no net global warming since 1998" he meant no years since 1998 have exceeded 1998 temps?

By nanny_govt_sucks (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

For anyone who cares to bother, a modest deconstruction of the statement appears on my blog.
Advert over. :)

Forget 1850, the trendline since 1998 refutes Carter's quote. And if he's focussing on the year 1998 specifically, then he might as well be arguing that 1998 was the end of strong El Ninos, since any El Nino comparable to 1998 on top of current temps would unambiguously shatter 1998's record (ignoring NASA's analysis, which shows 2005 and preliminary 2007 as being higher than 1998). It's also amusing that the analysis that shows the flattest temperature trend since 1998 (RSS), also shows the steepest trend of all since 1979.

From these observations, and using the same standards, we might come up with our own headlines, such as "El Ninos stopped in 1998" or "The Urban Heat Island Effect stopped in 1979."

nanny_govt_sucks said: "Perhaps by "no net global warming since 1998" he meant no years since 1998 have exceeded 1998 temps?"

And perhaps the moon is made of string cheese?

There is just one problem with your theory: the very next sentence in Carter's letter:

"That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming"

There is no plateau in temperature since 1998. Plateaus are flat. The trend is upward, as shown by Tamino.

You know that. I know you know because I can see that you commented on Tamino's post about the upward trend since 1998.

Your effort to defend Carter in this case is truly pathetic.

"Also, it looks like ice levels in the artic have returned to normal..."

Well, actually, they havent. even surface area anomaly is still at -1.2 million km2 - a level that in the satellite record was seen once for a short time in 1995, and then often in the last 4-5 years. The arctic is refreezing (duh - its fricking cold up there in the winter) but is still way below the norm up until the last few years.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.jpg
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

Not to mention that area is only one measure - and the loss of thick multi-year ice is extensive, and the late-freezing winter ice is likely to end up thinner that normal 1-year ice. There is a HUGE loss of ice volume, way above that shown by the measures of ice area.

Has there been any warming since 1998?

No.

Whatever the reason is irrelevant. The statement is correct.

Has CO2 increased at a terrific rate?

Yes.

It's not a very convenient position for the Climate Faithful, is it?

@Jack Lacton:
Learn about statistics, outliers and anomalies before trying to pull the stunt of claiming that 1998 was a normal year.
Take a look at the a picture is worth a thousand words post on this same blog. It contains a really nice graph of temperature averages and shows why your argument is worthless.

By Who Cares (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Hello. I came here as someone who is interested in learning more about climate change from an unbiased source. I've seen Tim Lambert's name appear on a lot of blogs so I had to check this place out. I am sadly dissappointed. Is this the best we can do, sophomoric name called and politcal rhetoric? Take the topic at hand for example. From what I can gather, I think it's clear this Bob Carter guy simply states that he is playing with the baseline and purports that the familiar graph we always see does the same. I don't know who he is but I think he's being somewhat glib and I also think he has a point. By saying "It's been cooling since 1998" is designed to get people's attention about things like this graph and how it's constructed. Does the shape of the curve change with a new starting point? If so, how is the ideal starting point determined? Can someone tell me? To the other point regarding Mr. Wegman, again I'm late to the game here but from what I can gather through research he testified before Congress regarding whether or not sound mathematical practices were applied by research scientists, correct? Seems reasonable to me. It therefore also follows that he should stand behind his work and his findings going forward. Anyone with a college degree knows you have to show your work and defend it to get a passing grade. What's wrong with that?

By Charles the Hammer (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Charles Martel, yes indeedy, if you pick a small interval, the shape of a fit to a curve does depend strongly on the starting point which is why this is an evil thing to do with a small interval, or a starting point chosen after you have seen the data. See what happens to the estimate if you picked 1982 or 1992 right after El Chichon or Pinatubo blew off.

"sound" mathematical practices are again one of those things that "sound" good, but often are only cudgels. You may be somewhat disillusioned by the answer. Scientists regard mathematics as a means to an end, the end being learning about the system. Mathematicians regard mathematics as the end and science as a peversion. While the best mathematics is the best tool, scientists feel little compunction about using rough and ready math that happens to be lying about, and on occasion will invent (pull things out of their asses, see for example Feynman integrals, fluxions, Dirac delta fns, etc) things that are not quite mathematically rigorous. Of course, mathematicians want to have perfect answers that are valid for all cases, including the most pernicious, and the cases the scientists look at are almost never in the pernicious category.

"That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming"

There is no plateau in temperature since 1998.

But that isn't what Carter said. You need his definition of "current" before you can level your criticism.

Your effort to defend Carter in this case is truly pathetic.

I'm not defending Carter. He seems to have left out his definitions for "net global warming", and "current". If he defined these, then I would know better what he is talking about. In the meantime, Tim's graphic is clearly not addressing the parts of Carter's statements that ARE understandable.

Forget 1850, the trendline since 1998 refutes Carter's quote.

No it doesn't. The trendline since 1850 in Tim's grapnic includes data prior to 1998 to make up the trendline datapoint for 1998 (and probably later). That means that the trendline is not entirely composed of data "since 1998", so it does not refute Carter's contention.

By nanny_govt_sucks (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Peter Bickle:

All I am saying is that the satillite data looks pretty flat lined for me since 2000. I have no qualms about the rise from 1979, but this rise has now settled down since 2000. Tell me I am wrong based on this graph, but it is a horizontal line from 2000 onwards.

This is another example of cherry-picking a specific subset of a graph to rationalize a conclusion that you want. It is quite obvious from the graph that the year-to-year variance is such that it is immediately obvious that any trend (or absence of trend) over such a short time period is most likely to be illusory.

Jack Lackton:

Has there been any warming since 1998?
No.
Whatever the reason is irrelevant. The statement is correct.
Has CO2 increased at a terrific rate?
Yes.
It's not a very convenient position for the Climate Faithful, is it?

I suppose that might be the case, if the "climate faithful" were arguing that CO2 is the only--or even the primary--source of year-to-year variation, rather than a factor influencing long term trends. But of course, they aren't. So this is just another case of deceptive cherry-picking

Charles the Hammer:

If so, how is the ideal starting point determined? Can someone tell me?

The ideal starting point must be determined in an unbiased manner--i.e. without knowing what the data looks like in advance. Unless there is a strong justification for doing otherwise, the best approach is to simply use the entire dataset.

Alternatively, you could pick several starting dates out of a hat at random, and see what the predominant trend is.

Or you could randomly pick a block of 5 years or so. Choose the date in that range with the median temperature as your starting point, and measure the trend from that point for a minimum of 10 years onward.

NOAA announced yesterday: "Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend."

Conclusion: Nanny_govT and Jack Lacton can't read.

"Does the shape of the curve change with a new starting point? If so, how is the ideal starting point determined?"

If one is concerned about the "shape" of the curve and "ideal" starting points (and ending points), there is a very good chance that one is up to no good.

Most scientists (honest ones, at least) prefer trends over "net" changes between endpoints.

The curve may be oscillating up and down (due to El Nino, for example) and each of the endpoints may fall on a different part of the oscillatory signal (eg, peak and valley), but if the oscillatory signal is sitting on an upwardly trending "ramp", linear regression will find it -- and, importantly, the endpoints will not assume greater weight than any other points in the data series.

Speaking of graphing, I'm going to start graphing the frequency of na_gs' mendacicizations and their type.

That is: is the frequency related to his presumed length of time it takes us to forget his last foray into FUD?

Best,

D

To my comment "There is no plateau in temperature since 1998. "

nags said: "But that isn't what Carter said. You need his definition of "current" before you can level your criticism."

Why does your statement remind me so much of Bill Clinton's "it depends on what the meaning of is is"?

You and I both know (from Tamino's blog) that the temperature has trended upwardly whether one starts in 1998 or 2000.

(Of course, you would never admit that because you don't admit being wrong even when Tamino spanks you hard)

If Carter's "plateau" comment refers to a period starting in 2001 or later, then he is really playing games because the shorter the period, the less confidence one can have in the trend.

Peter Bickle:

All I am saying is that the satillite data looks pretty flat lined for me since 2000.

Actually the satellite measurements have gone down substantially over 2007. Bickle and co are a bit behind the times. They should be saying we are now experiencing global cooling.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Speaking of graphing:

1) "Eyeballing" a time-series chart is not a good idea. In particular, human eyes are drawn to local minima/maxima.

2) Picking any extreme point and drawing a straight line is also not a good idea.

3) At the very least, one needs to do a linear regression, or if one is serious, one can do many more things. I recommend tamino's fine Analyze This tutorial.

4) People who are mathematically literate knows this stuff. If one is not, it's easy enough to learn. However, some people who are *not* mathematically illiterate do these things, in which case, keep an eye on your wallet, and read "How to Lie with Statistics", "How to Lie with Charts", "How to Lie with Maps", "Innumeracy", "Damned Lies and Statistics" in self-defense against against clever cherry-pickers and frauds.

=====
For this particular case, I suggest a simple exercise that anyone can do using Excel or equivalent.

A) Start with NASA GISS Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature Change, used to create the graph. [I use GISS rather than Tim's Hadley chart because the data is simpler for this exercise.

B) Select a set of {year, temperature anomaly, 5-year-smoothed anomaly}, ending at 2006. I picked 1977 as an example, but as we'll see, the start date doesn't matter for this exercise.

C) Paste the data into the spreadsheet, starting at A1, i.e., A1 = " 1977 .13 .00"

Select A1:A30. Data>Text to Columns
Choose Delimited, >Next
Choose Space and "Treat Consecutive delimiters as one", >Finish
Select Column A and Delete
(This puts the 3 columns into A, B, and C.)
Select columns B-C, Format Cells, Number, 2 decimal places.
Select columns D-E, Format Cells, Number 3 decimal places

D) Set Cell D1: =(B$30-B1)/(A$30-A1)
Then Fill Down (Ctrl-D) to cell D29 (2005).
NOTE: the $ are important.

D1:D29 gives the temperature slope from each year to 2006, totally dependent only on 2006 and the choice of start year, and ignoring everything else.

E) Set cell E1: =SLOPE(B1:$B30, A1:$A30)
Then Fill Down (Ctrl-D) to E29.

E1:E29 gives the slope fo the linear regression from each year to 2006. Naturally, D29 = E29 (in this case, -.08), since the regression for 2005 to 2006 is the same as the simple slope.

QUIZ0: Any difference between columns B (yearly) and C (5-year smoothed)?

QUIZ1: Any difference between columns D and E?

QUIZ2: If you're a cherry-picker, which of column D or E would you choose if you wanted to prove warming had stopped? Which start years would you pick? [Although, most wouldn't try to pick 2005, since most people understand that year-to-year gyrations happen.] Column D of course is the analog of eyeballing the chart, and if you happen to pick a local minimum or maximum, you can get what you want.

F) Now, let's do a graph.

Select A1:A29, then CTRL-select D1:D29, so you have 3 columns, 1977-2005.
>Insert, select Chart
Chart type: XY (scatter)
Chart sub-type: 2nd one on mine, shows smooth curves with points marked
>Finish

You now have a chart in which:
Series1 gives the simple slop from that year to 2006.
Series2 gives the regression slope to 2006.
Expand the chart for visibility.

Series1 jiggles all over the place, and even manages to get below zero 4 times. Series2 is much more stable, and only fluctuates much in the last few years, unsurprisingly.

QUIZ3: What will happen when 2007 results are in?
A: Series1 may look different, because each point only depends on the values of start and end years, whereas Series2 won't look much different, except at the very end, because it depends on all the intermediate data as well.

Series2 hovers around .02 degrees/year.
Anyway, this all takes 15 minutes or less,

By John Mashey (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

By saying "It's been cooling since 1998" is designed to get people's attention about things like this graph and how it's constructed.

Well, no, the letter is meant to try to convince the world that CO2 doesn't cause warming and that therefore we should do nothing about it.

You can read it for yourself, you know? Tim conveniently provided a link.

You and I both know (from Tamino's blog) that the temperature has trended upwardly whether one starts in 1998 or 2000.

That's beside the point. The graphic Tim presented does not support a refutation of Carter. This is not an issue about warming or cooling since a certain time. It's about whether a trendline is the same from two different starting points.

If Carter's "plateau" comment refers to a period starting in 2001 or later, then he is really playing games because the shorter the period, the less confidence one can have in the trend.

Take it up with Carter.

By nanny_govt_sucks (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

That's beside the point. The graphic Tim presented does not support a refutation of Carter. This is not an issue about warming or cooling since a certain time. It's about whether a trendline is the same from two different starting points.

Wrong. It is about whether it is valid to cherry-pick 1998 as the starting point in order to alter the trendline. The answer is one known to anybody who has studied elementary statistics: it is not. The graphic proves that 1998 is cherry-picked as a statistical fluctuation, much higher than either the years before or the years after, proving that 1998 is an invalid choice of starting point.

Take it up with Carter.

The world has a never-ending supply of dishonest nutcases. You don't "take it up with them" because by definition you don't expect a rational response. You warn people about them.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 14 Dec 2007 #permalink

Trrll:

If we can say with confidence it is warmer now than any time even in the past 1000 years, does that reliably entail anything about our knowledge of global climate other than the fact being asserted? Measuring from 1998 or 1558 doesn't seem to actually entail anything sans knowledge of the necessary and sufficient conditions of the temperatures at the various points in time.

"'WEGMAN: Carbon dioxide is heavier than air. Where it sits in the atmospheric profile, I don't know. I'm not an atmospheric scientist...'
Perhaps the blue on the graph above is supposed to represent CO2 settling into the valleys."

Ah, but you see
"Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away", making the greenhouse effect physically impossible.
http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=eabbe10d-3891-41eb-9ee1-a59b7…

"Science is not a popularity contest: The number of authorities who subscribe to a given hypothesis has no relationship to its empirical accuracy or validity. Theories require proven, predictable results. They do not require a democratic vote of the authorities. If the opinion of a majority of the authorities was all that was required, we would still think the earth was flat. Empirical proof is required"

And yet, things the majority of scientists believe tend to be true. Sheer coincidence, I guess.

For the nth time, I ask: "As somebody who finds the current evidence for anthropogenic climate change unconvincing, what manner of evidence would convince you? And/or what would possibly constitute 'scientific proof' of anthropogenic climate change, that mankind has not provided?" Given the howling absence of reply to my queries up to now, I am forced to the conclusion that there is no form of evidence that will suffice to convince 'skeptics'; which makes their opinions essentially useless.

I predict that the "no warming since 1998" talking point will die out next year, to be replaced by the far more euphonious "no warming in the last decade".

If we can say with confidence it is warmer now than any time even in the past 1000 years, does that reliably entail anything about our knowledge of global climate other than the fact being asserted?

Well, yes, it would give us reason to believe that basic physical attributes of the universe, including the ability of CO2 to absorb infrared radiation, and its contribution to the fact that temps here aren't hell-freezing cold as would be true if CO2 weren't a GHG, haven't changed in the last 150 years. Seeing as this was when the first lab work regarding CO2 and infrared radiation was done ...

If we can say with confidence it is warmer now than any time even in the past 1000 years, does that reliably entail anything about our knowledge of global climate other than the fact being asserted? Measuring from 1998 or 1558 doesn't seem to actually entail anything sans knowledge of the necessary and sufficient conditions of the temperatures at the various points in time.

These measures constitute tests of the validity of our scientific knowledge of the fundamental physical mechanisms that influence climate. This is how science works--scientific models are tested against observational data.

However, you are correct that measuring from 1998 is meaningless--indeed, a statistician would regard it as dishonest, because an elementary statistical principle tells you that you will reach an incorrect conclusion if you select the peak of a noisy signal and attempt to calculate a trend line from that point. Even if a more typical year were chosen, 7 years is too short to draw a reliable trend forward with this degree of variation. And in any case, merely drawing a trend line is rhetoric, not science, because the models do not predict a linear trend. The real scientific analysis examines the entire time series, and compares it with the predictions of the model.

nannygovtsucks said: "This is not an issue about warming or cooling since a certain time. It's about whether a trendline is the same from two different starting points."

Which part of Carter's statement are you having trouble understanding?

"there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling."

Your contradictory posts are just killing me (in an uncontrollable laughter sort of way)

However, you are correct that measuring from 1998 is meaningless--indeed, a statistician would regard it as dishonest, because an elementary statistical principle tells you that you will reach an incorrect conclusion if you select the peak of a noisy signal and attempt to calculate a trend line from that point.

Except for statistics ace and CA hero Wegman, who heavily criticized a quibbly problem with Mann's hockey stick analysis but had no problem signing Carter's letter containing this inherently dishonest cherry-pick of the data.

trrll said "Even if a more typical year were chosen, 7 years is too short to draw a reliable trend forward with this degree of variation."

Actually, that is not correct.

The temperature trend over the past 7 years is upward and the result is significant statistically as Tamino showed.

"And in any case, merely drawing a trend line is rhetoric, not science, because the models do not predict a linear trend."

Not true. Drawing trend lines is not rhetoric. Hardly.

Furthermore, the models actually do predict something close to a linear trend over a relatively short period of time.

According to the models, temperature change is proportional to the change in greenhouse gas radiative forcing, which is pretty close to a linear ramp over a short (decade) time period.

Actually, that is not correct.
The temperature trend over the past 7 years is upward and the result is significant statistically as Tamino showed.

Perhaps. He doesn't state what statistical test he did or provide a p-value, nor does he state whether the errors on the slope that he calculated are standard errors, as is conventional, or 95% confidence limits. If the errors on the slope he gives are standard errors, then I'm doubtful if it is significant at p < 0.05, much less p < 0.01. Even if those are 95% confidence limits instead of standard errors, the lower limit on the slope is close to zero, which means that this data does not provide what I would consider to be a reliable estimate of the trend, even if you can say with p < 0.05 that it is nonzero. Moreover, when the error is this large, the risk of a type II error is considerable--meaning that it quite well could have come out nonsignificant even though the trend is real. In other words, this interval of time is marginal at best for determining whether there is a trend, and completely inadequate for obtaining any kind of reliable estimate of its magnitude.

As an aside, I think that this kind of thing playys into the hands of the denialists. I don't think that any scientist would realistically try to forecast a trend over such a short interval with this degree of variation. A denialist could just as well pick out the uncertainty of the slope and argue that this means that the rate of increase in temperature could very likely be so small that we don't need to worry about it any time soon. Worse, it could be perceived a accepting the validity of fitting trends to short intervals with cherry-picked starting points, inviting denialists to find other intervals over which the trend is not significant.

And drawing a linear trend, which is a statistical rather than physical model, reinforces the denialist misrepresentation that climate predictions are fits or statistical extrapolations of temperature data, rather than being based on physical models, with the data being used to test the validity of the model.

I agree that the shorter the period, the greater the uncertainty, but that certainly does not mean trends are "rhetoric". I would note that the positive value given for the trend in the case I linked to above exceeds the probable error.
Doing a linear regression from 1998 -present is certainly more meaningful than taking the difference between the endpoints as many people who claim global warming stopped in 1998 do.

And whether trending plays "into the hands of the denialists" is quite a separate issue from whether trends are useful from a scientific standpoint.

Let's face it, people who want to play games are going to find a way no matter what you do.

As an aside, I think that this kind of thing playys into the hands of the denialists. I don't think that any scientist would realistically try to forecast a trend over such a short interval with this degree of variation.

That wasn't Tamino's point, though.

His point is that EVEN IF cherry-picking the start point at 1998 coupled with the fact that there are only 9 years of data 1998-2007 were a reasonable basis for declaring a trend, it is STILL a rising trend.

Not a trend that supports the oft-heard "global warming stopped in 1998" denialist schtick.

He's well aware the the underlying claim that a trend from 1998 to present is of any particular usefulness is bogus to begin with ...

The "trend" has been positive since the end of the little ice age. Despite efforts of some scientists to rewrite climate history the earth seems to be returning to the warmer temperatures before the little ice age known as the medieval warm period.

Even accepting the toned down claim that temperatures are higher than they have been in "four hundred years" the appropriate response is "so what?" The earth did just fine when the temps were at those levels, unless someone can show me evidence of great climate related calamities four hundred years ago.

Whether statistical evidence shows that temperature since 1998 is slightly on the rise is besides the point.

z and others have asked "what would convince skeptics?"

Well, for me, that depends on what you are claiming.

Do I doubt that the global mean temperature has risen all of 0.6C in the last hundred years? I guess that would be a qualified no. The qualification being, is there really a meaningful metric described by a "global mean temperature" and what confidence do you have that you have measured it correctly?

Do I doubt that CO2 is a "green house" gas? No. The question is "what is the sensitivity of the climate to specific levels of CO2?" This is far from "settled science". Most sources I have seen claim that a doubling of CO2 alone, without positive feedbacks, will result in about 1 degree C of warming. Not the stuff of catastrophe.

Do I doubt that humans are contributing CO2 to the atmosphere? No.

Do I doubt the accuracy of climate models? You bet! Anyone that has ever worked with systems of coupled non-linear equations knows that obtaining meaningful results is extremely difficult, if not impossible, depending on the precision of boundary conditions. If I have to explain the difficulty in choosing boundary conditions in a system as complicated as the earth's climate system you probably don't understand the issue.

Do I doubt that we face 2.5C to (you name it) warming in the next 100 years if we continue "business as usual" carbon dioxide emission? Yes. The fact is these projections are based solely on the climate models I have already commented on.

Do I doubt that we could convert from a carbon based fuel economy in a few decades without major negative economic consequences? Absolutely. If you think otherwise you don't understand the challenge that would be.

I have no emotional attachment to petroleum. If economically viable alternatives exist surely $100 a barrel oil should bring them online without forcing the entire world to go cold turkey on oil. If not, then the burden rests squarely on advocates of "alternative energy" to show that we would not be making a disastrous mistake by legislating an end to the main source of energy for the entire world.

So, z, I guess it would take more than a puny 0.6 degree increase over the last century and scaremongering claims of doom predicated on unproven climate models for me to get behind a plan to radically change the entire world's economy.

It would take temperatures that it could be proven were truly outside the bounds of natural variability and a falsifiable theory explaining those temps that withstood falsification. I'm sorry but despite the rancor, sarcasm and outrage commonly displayed here at Deltoid there is nothing that comes close to that level of evidence supporting the theory that we face "dangerous" global warming from burning of fossil fuels.

(For those that will quibble with the qualifier "dangerous", why would we care, let alone demand that the whole world change its energy supply, if that was not the issue.)

@Lance (#77):

Do I doubt that CO2 is a "green house" gas? No. The question is "what is the sensitivity of the climate to specific levels of CO2?" This is far from "settled science". Most sources I have seen claim that a doubling of CO2 alone, without positive feedbacks, will result in about 1 degree C of warming. Not the stuff of catastrophe.

Can we take it then that you don't believe that water vapour is an important greenhouse gas; and that warmer air will not hold more water vapour?

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Most sources I have seen claim that a doubling of CO2 alone, without positive feedbacks, will result in about 1 degree C of warming. Not the stuff of catastrophe.

But that's irrelevant. There are feedbacks. They are certainly positive. Model estimates and observational estimates put climate sensitivity between 2oC and 4.5oC. Extremely high sensitivities are unlikely but cannot be ruled out.

The fact is these projections are based solely on the climate models I have already commented on.

This is wrong. There is observational evidence for climate sensitivity. If you go by observational evidence alone, then significantly higher sensitivities are more likely. Unless James Annan is right, then CS is quite close to 3oC.

Denialist claims of a low climate sensitivity are based on zero evidence and amount to no more than a guess.

Robin Levett,

Please don't put words in my mouth. Warmer air does generally hold more water vapour. Much of that vapour however forms clouds which as anyone familiar with this topic knows can give both positive and negative feedbacks.

Also the hydrological cycle is a good deal more complex than your simplisitic, and insulting, remark would indicate.

If you have a real question please ask it, but this sort of pockshot non-question is hardly constructive, or even polite.

Time is thinning any real sceptics from the ranks of global warming denialism. We're left with the ones for whom evidence is never enough if it says what they don't want to hear (and of course the flimsiest of evidence is jumped on when it does). Trying to voice support for logically unsupportable positions increasingly shows them to be closed minded and out of touch with reality, more concerned with rhetorical games than science. Although the US is deliberately dragging it's heels on targets for GHG emissions, the existence of AGW has faded away as an issue in negotiations about climate change policy. A kind of rear guard, stomping the nonsense that Carter and others who still come out with is still worthwhile, but the real issues that ought to be engaging smart, informed people is how to get workable mitigation policies happening sooner. Mitigation has to begin in earnest now. Adaptation is going to be needed too but failing with mitigation will only make adaptation harder.

@Lance (#80):

Please don't put words in my mouth. Warmer air does generally hold more water vapour. Much of that vapour however forms clouds which as anyone familiar with this topic knows can give both positive and negative feedbacks.

And the net effect is?

You'll have to forgive me; the anti-AGW position is usually that water vapour is a far more important factor that CO2, so it is surprising to find someone on that side of the aisle claiming that air carrying more water vapour won't cause increased warming.

Your reference to the effect of CO2 "without positive feedbacks" was at best disingenuous, since so far as I am aware from my limited knowledge, no climate scientist says that the anticipated warming will arise solely from the physical efefcts of CO2 with no intensification from feedbacks.

I'm interested in your claim that much of the water vapour in the atmosphere forms clouds - which I take to mean that at any one instant, most water vapour in the atmosphere is there in the form of clouds. If you don't mean that, but instead that much of the water vapour in the atmosphere will, at some point in its passage through the hydrological cycle, form clouds, that is uncontroversial but irrelevant.

Which did you mean, and if the first alternative, what is your evidence for that?

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

@Lance (#77);

One more comment before I go to bed; you said:

Do I doubt that we could convert from a carbon based fuel economy in a few decades without major negative economic consequences? Absolutely. If you think otherwise you don't understand the challenge that would be.

When do you believe that fossil fuels - specifically oil, upon which most of the global transportation rests - will be priced out of the global economy through scarcity

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

JB:

I would note that the positive value given for the trend in the case I linked to above exceeds the probable error.

I always get nervous when people use terms like "the probable error," as if there were one unique value. How probable is probable? Scientists usually accept p < 0.05 (1 chance in 20 that the effect is not real) in cases where the conclusions do not ride critically on that result, or where there is other corroborating evidence. Where a result is pivotal or surprising, they usually demand p < 0.01 (one chance in 100 that the effect is not real and due to a statistical fluctuation) or even lower. Unless otherwise specified, averages are normally stated as "mean +/- standard error of the mean." If that range does not include the null hypothesis, and if everything is nice and Gaussian, that means that there is about a one-third chance that the effect is not real. Most people would not accept this as significant.

dhogaza:

That wasn't Tamino's point, though.
His point is that EVEN IF cherry-picking the start point at 1998 coupled with the fact that there are only 9 years of data 1998-2007 were a reasonable basis for declaring a trend, it is STILL a rising trend.

I am aware that is what he is trying to say. My point is that it is generally unwise to let an opponent define the terms of the argument, particularly when those terms are invalid. Accepting their reasoning "for the sake of argument" will frequently be perceived as validating that reasoning. So what happens if we have a particularly cold winter and the trend since 1998 is no longer significant? Remember when the denialists made such a fuss over whether a tiny correction changed whether 1998 or 1934 was the warmest US year on record, even though the temperatures for those two years were not significantly different either before or after the correction?

Peak Oil:
T. Boone Pickens: http://www.resourceinvestor.com/pebble.asp?relid=10766
Google: boone pickens peak oil 2007 gets lots of videos

ASPO USA a few months ago:
http://www.aspousa.org/aspousa3/

David Strahan:
http://www.lastoilshock.com/

Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsch_report (and follow links)

So, my answer: it will be a long time before oil is priced out of the market due to scarcity. Conventional oil is just too useful.

Of course, if you believe the Hirsch Report comments, we should have started at least a decade ago to start phasing oil out, because it is definitely going to get more and more expensive, and when that happens faster than infrastructure and transport can easily handle, the world economy will be very different.

If you're some oil companies, what you wish for is for everybody to keep burning oil like crazy, right up to the point where little is left, and it can be sold for a true fortune ... then you use the money you made to buy up alternate competitor. It is NOT in your short-term interest for people to economize or seek alternatives, as that will reduce your profits out a ways.

After all, in most curves, it is a few decades to producing about 50% less oil/year....

Of course for anyone who can read those charts, ignoring climate change, there is a huge impetus to:
a) Conserve oil/gas and stretch them as far as possible, i.e., all-out efficiency.
b) While reworking oil/gas-burning-related investments to be more efficient
c) And scrambling very hard to get renewable replacements in place, because there is a huge gap to fill, even with all-out efficiency.

[This is what CA thinks it's doing, more or less.]

Of course, if you also worry about AGW, you do the same things, although you may even hope they find extra oil, if that helps stave off extra use of unsequestered coal ... which is where the real trouble will be. We will burn all the conventional oil and gas.

Presumably, there will be a museum in 100-200 years that exhibits a barrel of oil in the archaelogy section, presumably well-guarded.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Trrll:

Perhaps referring to anyone that disagrees with your position as a member of some monolithic group of 'denialists' is not a great rhetorical choice. Also you didn't seem to answer the question I posed. I understand you think 7 years is too short to draw a trend and using a high temp. peak year is dishonest. Why is 1000 years sufficient? I understand ceteris paribus assumptions, but I don't understand how they allow for more accurate prediction when cobbled together with needlessly multiplied entities. A temperature trend by itself doesn't seem meaningful in this instance.

I have seen it asserted that warming is not proceeding apace with GCM model predictions, the GCM models are adjusted to fit the data retroactively, and also that the models are not empirically founded and that current climatology is not sufficiently accurate enough to allow for modelling with any predictive value at all. The last two I read asserted by Kevin Trenberth. How would you characterize those claims?

"Do I doubt that we could convert from a carbon based fuel economy in a few decades without major negative economic consequences? Absolutely. If you think otherwise you don't understand the challenge that would be."

Presumably if Lance were concerned about the cost of having asbestos removed from his house his response would be to doubt the science linking asbestos and cancer.

Lance, is there even any point in pointing out that most economists disagree with you here?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Perhaps referring to anyone that disagrees with your position as a member of some monolithic group of 'denialists' is not a great rhetorical choice.

What I've observed is that denialists of all stripes--evolution denialists, AIDS denialists, germ theory denialists, global warming denialists--use the same deceptive, dishonest arguments. Cherry-picking, in particular, is virtually the sine qua non. And picking a year that is an obvious statistical outlier--much higher than the years either before or after it--as the point to draw a trend line from is a classic example of cherry-picking. You would not encounter any genuine scientist using an argument of this type.

Also you didn't seem to answer the question I posed. I understand you think 7 years is too short to draw a trend and using a high temp. peak year is dishonest. Why is 1000 years sufficient? I understand ceteris paribus assumptions, but I don't understand how they allow for more accurate prediction when cobbled together with needlessly multiplied entities.

Look at any basic statistics book on linear regression. You will find that the greater the random fluctuations around a trend, the longer the time base you need to be able to reliably detect the trend. However, it is important to note that climate prediction is not based upon extrapolation of trends, but upon physics. The importance of the temperature data is that it provides one method (out of many) of testing the validity of the physical models. Obviously, a long period of time, over which many things, not just CO2, have varied, provides a more stringent test of the models.

I have seen it asserted that warming is not proceeding apace with GCM model predictions, the GCM models are adjusted to fit the data retroactively,

This is the sort of confusion that talking about trends leads to, because people start to think that a climate model is just a complicated trend fit. A trend or curve fit has arbitrary parameters that can be adjusted to fit the data, but a physical model is not a fit, and its behavior depends largely upon physical constants that cannot be arbitrarily varied. If the model's output does not agree with the data, it indicates that some aspect of the model's physics is oversimplified. So what is done to try to improve correspondence of the model with reality is to pick areas of the model that rely upon approximations and simplifications, and try to improve the level of detail and accuracy of the physics models.

The last two I read asserted by Kevin Trenberth. How would you characterize those claims?

Go reread Trenbreth.

Robin Levett,

Carbon fuels include coal which supplies about half of the US's electricity. We also have about four hundred years of coal by current estimates. Any switch to other fuels would greatly increase electricity prices. Not to mention the fact that there really is no non-carbon alternative at the moment other than nuclear, which of course is frowned upon by many of the same environmental groups that tell us that we must abandon coal. How about more hydro-electric plants? Oops again opposed by those same groups. That doesn't leave much. Wind power? Geothermal? Solar?

That just covers electricity. A comprehensive list of the costs of eliminating all carbon fuels would run well into the trillions of dollars. Not to mention that there exists no readily available alternative.

I fail to see the relevance of your asbestos red herring. Please try to stick to the topic at hand. Are you claiming that a "consensus" of economists are saying that abandoning fossil fuels is cost effective? Please don't present the Stern Report as representing the opinion of main stream economists. It certainly does not.

Carbon fuels include coal which supplies about half of the US's electricity. We also have about four hundred years of coal by current estimates. Any switch to other fuels would greatly increase electricity prices. Not to mention the fact that there really is no non-carbon alternative at the moment other than nuclear, which of course is frowned upon by many of the same environmental groups that tell us that we must abandon coal.

I think that many people are re-evaluating nuclear power, as it becomes increasingly clear that the concerns people had about nuclear power are relatively minor compared to the likely consequences of global warming.

In this thread we have people "doubting the accuracy of climate models" (but of course the models return a range of estimates, each with a different probability) while asserting in nearly the same breath that we cannot "convert from a carbon-based fuel economy in a few decades without major economic consequences" -- and assuring us that "if you think otherwise you don't understand the challenge." Pessimistic nonsense. (As well as a straw-man argument: There is no 100% changeover from fossil fuels being called-for, much less mandated anywhere.)

Consider solar thermal electric generation. It is scalable from village to city. It has no fuel cycle. It is so abundant and harmless that inefficiency and waste are secondary. Easy co-products could be water desalination and heating. It is transportable by the existing electric grids. The energy can be stored as thermal or potential gravitational energy, for nighttime regeneration. It doesn't need a police state to protect radioactive material nor a militarist foreign policy to insure oil supply. If you convert the automobile economy to electric, which is already starting to happen, then you will have well over half of every nation's economy taken care of by an energy source without a fuel cycle on the planet. All that would remain to be dealt with among major carbon uses are trucking, aircraft, and ocean shipping.

Starting to convert from carbon is an easy "no-brainer." Nuclear is hardly necessary. There is simply no reason to side with the pessimists on this, and it does not incur only "costs." It will create jobs and economic growth. The denialists are not mounting scientific or economic arguments -- only seeming so. This has become entirely a political argument, now.

I see that Lance, our resident physics PhD dropout wannabee, is back repeating EXACTLY the same crap that he's posted several times before, crap which in each case has been refuted two or three or more times before (I'm not keeping score).

Don't feed the troll. Lance lives in a fact-free world.

" Please don't present the Stern Report as representing the opinion of main stream economists. It certainly does not."

You took a poll of mainstream economists to reach that conclusion, I take it?

Tell you what, go hunt down the report the GAO did back around 1997 on the cost to the US of implementing Kyoto. The report summarized the results of about a dozen different economic modeling exercises - which on average predicted a net cost of around 1% of GDP.

Since then there have been two principal changes:

1. Oil has gotten much more expensive, therefore the net cost of substituting other fuels for oil has gone down significantly.

2. The cost of wind-power and solar power has been significantly reduced.

Both changes mean that we can now go much further than Kyoto for a similar cost. (And let's note that those costs fail to capture the offsetting benefits such as avoiding the 30,000 deaths a year in the US caused by air pollution from coal-fired power plants.)

But hey that's only what a few tens of thousands of economists say, I'm sure they lack the deep understanding of economics possessed by the average Physics post-grad.

Oh and Lance the significance of the asbestos analogy is that "I don't WANT it to be true" isn't a valid argument for the falsity of a hypothesis.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

I guess Robert Solow; James Mirrlees; Amartya Sen; Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs aren't mainstream economists.

Somebody call the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, they've got three Nobels to revoke.

Richard Tol, one of the few mainstream economists who did extensively criticise the Stern Review has subsequently repudiated most of his criticisms.

But Bjorn Lomborg criticised him too, he's an economist right?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Maybe Professor William Nordhaus of Yale University is that unicorn-like chimera, a "mainstream" economist, after all he's eminent in the field ad has criticised Stern.

Nope, he can't be.

See he published this paper in September 2007:
http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/dice_mss_091107_public.pdf

In which he argues (page 124):

"The optimal policy reduces the global temperature rise relative to 1900 to 2.8 °C in 2100 and to 3.4 °C in 2200. If concentration or temperature limits are added to the economic optimum, the additional cost is relatively modest for all but the most ambitious targets. For example, imposing a constraint in which CO2 concentrations are limited to a doubling of pre-industrial levels has an
additional present-value cost of $0.4 trillion, while limiting global temperature increases to 2½ °C has an additional present value cost of $1.1 trillion over the
optimum.

Note that while the net impact of policies is relative small, the total discounted climatic damages are large. We estimate that the present value of climatic damages in the baseline (uncontrolled) case is $22.6 trillion, as
compared to $17.3 trillion in the optimal case."

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

I guess Robert Solow; James Mirrlees; Amartya Sen; Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs aren't mainstream economists.

Robert Solow is a good guy , but the rest are left wing economists in the same way as the old Soviet economsists. They're enablers.

Sen makes frequent idiotic pronouncements. Joe Stigliz has become quite deranged since his Nobel. Sachs almost single handedly wrecked Eastern Europe with his shock therapy after coming out of commieland and still hasn't apologized..

Please show me what Solow said. I wanna see what he said.

In any event Gouldiechops, you don't need these dudes giving you any advice. You can easily just rely on me. Stern screwed up big time and he ought to apologize and give his consultancy fees back.

Richard Tol, one of the few mainstream economists who did extensively criticise the Stern Review has subsequently repudiated most of his criticisms.

Bullshit he has. He was always a warmer. Howver he hasn't repudiated anything. Tol has not repudiated anything he said about the problem of Stern using a discount rate 1/70 below the cost of capital.

FWIW, I've recalculated the linear trends of GISS, Hadcrutv, RSS, and UAH covering the period of time that is common to all.

Here are the Jan '79 to Oct '07, the Jan '79 to Dec '98, and the Jan '98 to Oct '07 trends. In other words, the whole dataset, the dataset ending with and including '98, and the dataset since and including '98. All in degrees C per decade.

'79-present/'79-'98/'98-present

GISS 0.172/0.145/0.188
HadCrutv 0.171/0.152/0.057
RSS 0.178/0.185/-0.031
UAH 0.143/0.114/0.392

For all but RSS, when you include the data after 1998, the trend since 1979 increases. However, when you cherry pick the "Super El Nino" year 1998 as the starting year, Hadley (instruments) and RSS (satellites) do show flat trends since then, while GISS (instruments) and UAH (satellites) show strong warming. RSS shows the highest trend over the entire dataset, but the lowest trend since 1998. UAH shows the lowest trend over the entire dataset, but the highest since 1998.

These graphics should put things into perspective. Look at the dots in relation to the trends. Note if they are above or below the trend. To my eyes, nothing of the last ten years looks unusual compared to any of the previous 20. In all cases, I've shifted the anomalies up or down so that the linear trend has a y intercept of 0.

http://cce.000webhost.org/giss.jpg
http://cce.000webhost.org/hadcrutv.jpg
http://cce.000webhost.org/uah.jpg
http://cce.000webhost.org/rss.jpg

Congratulations, Lance, you have a fellow member of the new mainstream: JC. It's two lone soldiers for truth against the world.

"Tol has not repudiated anything he said about the problem of Stern using a discount rate 1/70 below the cost of capital."

I'll be generous and assume you're yet to read the latest explanation of which this claim of yours is false.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Perhaps someone should tell the Nobel committee and Trinity College Cambridge that Sen is an idiot?

By jodyaberdein (not verified) on 15 Dec 2007 #permalink

Sachs is left wing? The guy has promoted 'shock therapy' using the disasterous capitalism laissaz-faire economic model first used by the infamous 'Chicago boys' on juntas in Chile, Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. JC, have you a clue what the 'shock therapy' entails? Clue: it ain't collectivism or Keynesian interventionism. Its out and out free market absolutism.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

jc: "you don't need these dudes giving you any advice. You can easily just rely on me"

he said looking at the ceiling and whistling a nervous whistle.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

"I think that many people are re-evaluating nuclear power, as it becomes increasingly clear that the concerns people had about nuclear power are relatively minor compared to the likely consequences of global warming".Posted by: trrll | December 15, 2007 11:56 PM

As your name suggests you live in a dream world. The Greens in Germany have successfully achieved commitments to phasing out of all the country's nuclear power stations by 2020, and each is being replaced by a new coal-fired station. The landscape there is already littered with windmills, seemingly to little effect. Wake up. The Greens are merely atavistic naturalist anti-humanists who won over the world's bureaucrats at Bali.

Jeff Harvey: how many species (both animal and vegetable)are present NOW in the Singapore Botanical Gardens (temp c.30C) (none air conditioned when I was there) and how many in Helsinki's (ave temp c.0C) other than in centrally heated cages(or even in Amsterdam's)? Let's bet: say a dollar per species living without air conditioning or heating? Go count man!

Gouldiechops,

It's not that i don't believe you or anything like that, but I just wanna see the evidence. Link it please.

Perhaps someone should tell the Nobel committee and Trinity College Cambridge that Sen is an idiot?

I think it was the committee trying out the idea of affirmative action in giving it to Sen. Sen's work on welfare economics is like tautological economics. Economics is the study of scarcity so it's repetitious to introduce welfare economics as a separate subject. Nonsense.

Sachs is left wing?

Yea. But whatever he is first and foremost he is a dope. And a destructive one at that.

The guy has promoted 'shock therapy' using the disasterous capitalism laissaz-faire economic model first used by the infamous 'Chicago boys' on juntas in Chile, Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America.

Bullshit. He promoted the usual dopey crap that the IMF always did when it went into a country. Raise interest rates; devalue the currency and spike up tax rates.
These were never Chicago's policies. Chicago actually succeeded in turning Chile around. Sachs almost ruined Russia and Eastern Europe.

Get to understand the subject before writing something, jeff.

Chris:

It was said tongue in cheek, but judging the level of economic understanding at this site by he commenters (including you Gouildiechops sometimes) there is an element of truth to it.

I have Harvey suggesting Sachs is a Chicaogo School devotee. Christ almighty, even Sachs would throw a fit if he read that.

@Lance (#89):

Carbon fuels include coal which supplies about half of the US's electricity.

And another 25% of the US's electricity is supplied by petroleum and gases together

Only about 40% of US energy consumption is for electricity generation, so only 20% of the total requirement is met by coal-fired power-stations; 10% by petroleum and gas power stations.

Transportation accounts for 40% of end-use consumption in the US; and how much of the freight transportation system can run on electricity or coal? You've got (by tonnage-volume) around 40% travelling by diesel-fuelled road transport, 40% by largely diesel-fuelled rail transport, 9% by (largely oil-fuelled) water transport, with the balance picked up by various modes including multi-modal transport using some of the above.

So, even without looking at industrial and residential fossil-fuel usage, you have to replace around half of your current energy supplies when oil and gas become uneconomic whether you "believe in" AGW or not.

I ask again therefore; when do you believe that fossil fuels - specifically oil, upon which most of global transportation rests - will be priced out of the global economy through scarcity?

I fail to see the relevance of your asbestos red herring. Please try to stick to the topic at hand. Are you claiming that a "consensus" of economists are saying that abandoning fossil fuels is cost effective? Please don't present the Stern Report as representing the opinion of main stream economists. It certainly does not.

You appear to have me confused with someone else whose name is similar to mine - Ian Gould.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC, No I am ot suggesting it, but then again, Sachs economic prescriptions for eastern Europe are almost a carbon copy of the ideas that Friedman and Hayek imposed on Chile and Argentina in the 1970s - ideas that eventually bankrupted the economies of both nations and ostensibly destroyed the middle classes. It was only after Chile's economy buckled and then collapsed in 1982 that Pinochet dusted off many of the policies of his old arch enemy Allende and ended the monetarist experiment in the country. Note that copper - by far Chile's most important resource - was never privatized. Had that happened, I am sure that the economy would have collapsed even sooner.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

Time to break out the JC/English dictionary:

"mainstream economist" = the tiny minority of economists who actually agree with JC. (If there are any since Hayek passed on.)

"Left-wing" = anyone who disagrees with JC. JC is the guy who once denounced Maggie Thatcher on this site as a socialist.

"Chicago actually succeeded in turning Chile around." and precipitated a massive pension fraud and stock market collapse which was so catastrophic that Chileans have reacted by electing socialist governments for the last twenty years.

"Gouldiechops,

It's not that i don't believe you or anything like that, but I just wanna see the evidence. Link it please."

I quoted from a personal communication with Chris Hope, the guy who did the modeling. Since you assure me you've read his paper and since his e-mail address is in there (or your could google "Professor Chris Hope") you could always contact him to verify that the message I quoted is really from him.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC wrote: "Chicago actually succeeded in turning Chile around". Ha ha haa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ad libtum. What a load of unadulterated crap. JCB*, given your outright arrogance, I think its you who ought to swat up on economics. There's no way Friedman's and the Chicago Boy's ideas could have been implemeted in South America without violent repression, torture and murder. Turn it asround? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Raul Prebisch, a noted South American economist, would find your arguments not only repugnant but ignorant. If you don't believe that IMF/World Bank prescriptions and the free market absolutist ideas of Friedman and his ilk are virtually identical, then its you I think who needs to learn something.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

"Tol has not repudiated anything he said about the problem of Stern using a discount rate 1/70 below the cost of capital."

Since we're askign for links, show me where Tol said that, bearing in mind, for about the 60th time, that PURE TIME PREFERENCE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS THE DISCOUNT RATE.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

Looks like we have the airhead trifecta on this thread - lance, jc, and tim curtin.

Each who knows more about science and economics than real, working, scientists and economics.

Just think, we could replace thousands of working professionals in those fields with just these three geniuses!

Uh, economists, of course :)

Where is the dust bowl on that graph at the top of page?

Disingenuous indeed.

By Terry Ward (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

Terry,

The graph at the top of the page shows global temperature. You are confusing it with US temperature.

For yet another perspective on the "no global warming since 1998" claim, here's another post on the topic.

Nice job. This is an excellent analysis, because it shows how to answer the question, "If you say that 9 years is too short, then how long is long enough? Isn't that equally arbitrary?" Scientists frequently have to deal with the question of how much data you have to collect to detect a trend or difference of a particular magnitude. This sort of "Monte Carlo" approach, in which artificial data is created with a known difference or trend, then noise comparable to the real situation is added, and the analysis method is tested to see how reliably it can extract the (known) signal from the noise, is one of the best ways of validating an analysis method and determining how much data you need to collect to answer a particular question.

Trrll:

I will continue to object to the rhetorical device of referring to debate opponents disparagingly, and worse to likening them to moral undesirables as a matter of habit; I'll leave it with my stated objection. If your argument is solid, you don't need over-generalized name calling.

Here's the link to Trenberth's statement:

http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2007/06/predictions_of_climate…

"In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers "what if" projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. There are a number of assumptions that go into these emissions scenarios. They are intended to cover a range of possible self consistent "story lines""

Coherence over correspondence.

"But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess."

Modelling scenarios are not empirical and not probabilistic due to lack of necessary input.

"Even if there were, the projections are based on model results that provide differences of the future climate relative to that today. None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate."

IPCC GCMs don't correspond to the case.

There you go. That's how I interpret what he wrote. If I have his statements wrong, please state how.

Boris: Thanks for your considered reply.

@Kevin (#119):

Trenberth is not saying in the blog comment you quote is not that GCMs have no predictive value simpliciter. A better sense of what he is saying is found towards the end of the comment, where he says:

The IPCC report makes it clear that there is a substantial future commitment to further climate change even if we could stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. And the commitment is even greater given that the best we can realistically hope for in the near term is to perhaps stabilize emissions, which means increases in concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases indefinitely into the future. Thus future climate change is guaranteed.

So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to? A consensus has emerged that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" to quote the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Working Group I Summary for Policy Makers and the science is convincing that humans are the cause. Hence mitigation of the problem: stopping or slowing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is essential. The science is clear in this respect.

And this science incorporates the work done on GCMs; however:

the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate. But we need them. Indeed it is an imperative! So the science is just beginning. Beginning, that is, to face up to the challenge of building a climate information system that tracks the current climate and the agents of change, that initializes models and makes predictions, and that provides useful climate information on many time scales regionally and tailored to many sectoral needs.

In a 19 September 2007 post on the same blog, Trenberth said:

Climate models are not perfect, but they are useful tools for quantifying the effects of various climate processes and drivers of climate change.

He is saying that the GCMs provide reliable big picture information; they predict the global long-term trends upon which regional and shorter timescale climate cycles are superimposed. Because they don't model, say, the El Nino/La Nina cycle, and are not initialised with the current state of global climate, they cannot yet be used to make detailed predictions of what the global average temperature may be in a particular year.

That is a long way from saying that they are not empirically based, and have no predictive value, which was your original assertion.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

Robin:

Are you accusing me of the a dicto simpliciter fallacy or do you just Latin?

I find your "sense" of what he is saying to contradict what he actually says. You quoted him offering his interpretation of the IPCC report's statement, not him refuting or drawing antithetical conclusions to anything I asserted. There is an important difference between what the IPCC report says and what the case happens to be. His statement is relative to the report, not the case. You then quote him following up with a conditional, rather than a declarative sentence, "*if* the science is settled..." He states also that a consensus has emerged that climate is warming. He does not state that models have predictive value, that they accurately reflect the case, that they capture the necessary and sufficient conditions of global climate. In fact, I quoted him saying they don't and you failed to rebut any of it.

He also says "the science is not done, because ..." which seems to falsify the earlier conditional "if the science is settled..."

"He is saying that the GCMs provide reliable big picture information; they predict the global long-term trends..."

No, he is not saying that at all or you need to be a hell of a lot more explicit for me. I quoted what he said about the predictive ability of IPCC GCMs.

I'll quote it again and thank you not to attempt to deny what he's plainly written. Unless he has recanted, and then I'd enjoy your citation of him recanting, he plainly thinks they predict nothing.

"In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been."

What exactly does the construction "no predictions at all and never have been" mean in your 'interpretation' of his thought? I am hard pressed to think of a way he could have more emphatically denied their predictive qualities.

I will continue to object to the rhetorical device of referring to debate opponents disparagingly, and worse to likening them to moral undesirables as a matter of habit; I'll leave it with my stated objection. If your argument is solid, you don't need over-generalized name calling.

I do not use the term "denialist" indiscriminately for debate opponents; I refer specifically to those who use the deceptive debating tactics of the denialist, such as cherry-picking

" But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess." Modelling scenarios are not empirical and not probabilistic due to lack of necessary input.

This is correct, because these are climate models, not political models. So the best that they can do is predict what will happen to the climate under different emissions scenarios. Physics is not a great deal of help in predicting what people will do.

"Even if there were, the projections are based on model results that provide differences of the future climate relative to that today. None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate."
IPCC GCMs don't correspond to the case.

I find it odd that you quote this, but choose to omit the concluding sentence of the paragraph, "I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized," which makes it clear that he is referring to the limitations of current models in predicting regional, as opposed to global, climate change.

Similarly, you choose not to mention his statement that "It works for global forced variations" or "Hence mitigation of the problem: stopping or slowing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is essential. The science is clear in this respect."

Perhaps you genuinely do not understand what he is talking about, do not appreciate the meaning of what you omitted, and actually think that he is saying that current models of global climate change do not work. But this looks a lot like a kind of denialist cherry-picking known as "quote mining," in which snippets of text are taken out of context to convey an impression that is at odds with what the full quote conveys.

Lance, with regard to your estimate that it'll cost trillions to eliminate fossil fuels I'm goign to be a good environmentalist and recycle part of a post from johnquiggin.com.

Note please that this is the UPPER cost estimate based on the most pessimistic figures from the IEA. Note too that this is for the total elimination of fossil fuels from energy generation in Australia. In practice, Australia and the world by using existing best-practice technology (not hypothetical clean coal technology) could generate 50% or more of its current electricity demand from fossil fuels while meeting the objective of a 75-80% cut in emissions from the sector. That's because new supercritical steam generators convert close to 50% of the energy in coal inot electricity compared with 35% of less for older power stations.

finally, note too that Australia is the largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the developed world and that around half our emissions are from power generation. If we can eliminate our energy-related emissions for around a$750 per person per year, the cost for the rest of the developed world should be even lower.

"http://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/ElecCostSUM.pdf

The IEA puts the total cost, including capital and running costs, of coal-fired power plants at between
US$25 and $50 per megawatt hour. The equivalent cost for wind, allowing for the downtime due to intermittency, is between US$35 and US$95 per megawatt hour.

In other words, there's a big overlap between wind and coal in terms of price and the MAXIMUM difference between the two is around US$70 per MWH- which compares the cheapest coal power with the most expensive wind power.

So the maximum cost of displacing coal with wind would be around $70 per megawatt hour. (Equivalent to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.)

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/as.ht…

Australia generates around 240 billion kilowatt hours of power per year. 90% of it (circa. 215 billion kilowatt hours) comes from fossil fuel sources.

Replacing all that fossil-sourced power with wind would cost around $15 billion per year.

To repeat - that includes both operating costs and capital costs and takes into account the low utilisation rate of wind energy."

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC, No I am ot suggesting it, but then again, Sachs economic prescriptions for eastern Europe are almost a carbon copy of the ideas that Friedman and Hayek imposed on Chile and Argentina in the 1970s - ideas that eventually bankrupted the economies of both nations and ostensibly destroyed the middle classes..

Jeff.
Nothing personal but you're out of your mind. Friedmans' policies turned Chile into the wealthiest nation in Sth Am.
Argentina obviously never followed Hayek's policies, as they seem to find it "easier" to borrow money from the international institutiones like the IMF and then renege on the repayments while keeping their economy in a socialist quagmire. They have been doing this since the 30's.

It was only after Chile's economy buckled and then collapsed in 1982 that Pinochet dusted off many of the policies of his old arch enemy Allende and ended the monetarist experiment in the country.

Yea, Jeff, like what exactly? What policies did Pinochet steal from Allende? Property confiscation?

Note that copper - by far Chile's most important resource - was never privatized. Had that happened, I am sure that the economy would have collapsed even sooner.

Or done better. Here's an idea let's nationalise the food industry as we'll be better off by your reckoning. You're really into Green left Weekly Economics, aren't you?

"mainstream economist" = the tiny minority of economists who actually agree with JC. (If there are any since Hayek passed on.)

Stop dissembling Gouldie. You're even worse then "normal" these days.

"Left-wing" = anyone who disagrees with JC. JC is the guy who once denounced Maggie Thatcher on this site as a socialist.

Maggie is one of the great leaders of the 20th century. A giant among mere mortal men. However her greatest disappointment must be that she didn't lower government spending..... government theft.

"Chicago actually succeeded in turning Chile around." and precipitated a massive pension fraud and stock market collapse which was so catastrophic that Chileans have reacted by electing socialist governments for the last twenty years.

Oh yea, which why they have the biggest middle class in the Sth Am. If they had followed Milts advice and floated the currency they would not have suffered those problems.

I quoted from a personal communication with Chris Hope, the guy who did the modeling. Since you assure me you've read his paper and since his e-mail address is in there (or your could google "Professor Chris Hope") you could always contact him to verify that the message I quoted is really from him.

So I'm supposed to believe that Tol now thinks that using 1/70 the cost of capital is fine, but before thought is was an absurdity. He's lying to you, gouldie. Either that or Tol has gone insane..

Jeff: 'Note that copper - by far Chile's most important resource - was never privatized. Had that happened, I am sure that the economy would have collapsed even sooner'

Who owns Escondida?

Escondida is relatively new, 1988, while Jeff's talking about the period prior to 1982.

So your point's a bit like arguing airbus vs. the wright bros.

Hoggsie

Stop dissembling. Tim was right to point out that Escondida is a private concern and Jeff is again proving how ill informed he is to suggest/imply that the mine is government owned. He's a joke and you're even abigger joke to stick a leg out on the road when a tractor trailer is heading your way.

By the way, Marion has his star sign posted on his blog. He's an Acquariarn. What are you?

Tim Curtin,

The VAST MAJORITY of Chile's copper industry has been under state control, even during Pinochet's abhorent rule. That's the case even now, under Codelco. Escondida's profits are on the increase, but there has been a lot of concern that the vast majority of these profits are not re-ivested into the Chilean economy but are repatriated abroad.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC, who is the joke? You are, but you can't see the wood from the trees. Chile has one of the most uneven distributions of wealth in the world, a legacy of the Allende/Chicago Boys period. If you really think that Thatcher brought prosperity to the UK, then you're even dumber than I thought. Basically, its a wonder anyone here responds to your ignorant taunts and jibes. I'd suggest you take your hollow pontifications elsewhere.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

"So I'm supposed to believe that Tol now thinks that using 1/70 the cost of capital is fine, but before thought is was an absurdity."

Show me where Tol ever used the "1/70th" figure or even said specifically that Stern employed a discount rate (not a pure time preference rate) of 0.1%.

Oh and called Christopher Hope a liar and accusing him of professional misconduct is probably actionable (as well as sad and desperate).

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

As for Tol going insane, he hasn't.

He's quoted in last week's New Scientist (the online version is firewalled I'm afraid) as saying that having read a subsequent paper by Matthew Weitzmann (who concurred in Tol's earlier criticism of Stern) on the incorporation of high cost/low probability events into cost-benefit analysis, he now agrees with Weitzmann that Stern was correct and they were in error.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC,

On closer reflection, I give up. I have decided to defer to your infinite wisdom. Heck, I'm even confusing Allende for Pinochet and vice-versa. Thus, your claim of Thatcher as bringer of unbridled prosperity to Britain, laissaz faire economics as creater of equity and social justice must be so cos' you say so. I'll ignore the immense volumes of contrary evidence and stick to your views. Happy now?

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

so can we take it that the warming thing is settled then?

By jodyaberdein (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC, who is the joke?Chile has one of the most uneven distributions of wealth in the world, a legacy of the Allende/Chicago Boys period.

You're right; when you look at Mali where the wealth distribution is pretty even it makes Chile look terrible.

If you really think that Thatcher brought prosperity to the UK, then you're even dumber than I thought.

Only a few people agree with you, which therefore makes you a denialist, Jeff.

Basically, its a wonder anyone here responds to your ignorant taunts and jibes. I'd suggest you take your hollow pontifications elsewhere.

Not your site pal.

JC, On closer reflection, I give up. I have decided to defer to your infinite wisdom.

So, you don't want me to go elsewhere then. Thanks for the compliment, Jeff. As anyone normal person I appreciate the accolades.

Heck, I'm even confusing Allende for Pinochet and vice-versa.

Yes, you are pretty confused, aren't you?

.Thus, your claim of Thatcher as bringer of unbridled prosperity to Britain, laissaz faire economics as creater of equity and social justice must be so cos' you say so.

I sense note of sarcasm in your high-pitched voice, Jeff. You're not turning into a denialist again are you? Surely not!

I'll ignore the immense volumes of contrary evidence and stick to your views. Happy now?.

Thanks. And here I was thinking you had turned into a denialist again.

So I'm supposed to believe that Tol now thinks that using 1/70 the cost of capital is fine, but before thought is was an absurdity."
Show me where Tol ever used the "1/70th" figure or even said specifically that Stern employed a discount rate (not a pure time preference rate) of 0.1%.

I did, I cited it earlier as Tols attribtution. I'm not going to bother giving you the link though as you can "google Tols criticism" of Stern and go from there.

Oh and called Christopher Hope a liar and accusing him of professional misconduct is probably actionable (as well as sad and desperate).

Well, go ahead. Tell him what I said and let the cards fall they should. Read carefully what I said, Gould. Someone is bullshiting here.

As for Tol going insane, he hasn't.

Well then he wouldn't have backed out of his criticisms then.

He's quoted in last week's New Scientist (the online version is firewalled I'm afraid) as saying that having read a subsequent paper by Matthew Weitzmann (who concurred in Tol's earlier criticism of Stern) on the incorporation of high cost/low probability events into cost-benefit analysis, he now agrees with Weitzmann that Stern was correct and they were in error.

What specifically does he agree with Weitzmann about? It doesn't sound as though he disavows anything he said in his strong criticism of Stern's report. It just sounds as though he's changed his thinking on the parameters on the alarmist shtick....NOT THE ECONOMICS.

I want to see evidence, Gouldie. Real evidence.

I smell a dead rat here, Gouldmeister... I'm from Missouri on this one. Unless I see your evidence, don't bother posting a comment.

I'm from Missouri...

This explains your lack of education and manners ...

It's short th=form the expression
I'm from Missouri, the show me state Hoggsie.

It means prove it.

By the way what's your star sign as Marion would probably like to know? Funny that. Marion thinks Rich Lindzen is an idiot but reads the daily star sign gig. LOL.

Ian Gould,

Hey, I'm all for alternative energy that is cost effective. If oil and natural gas remain at historic highs I'm sure that other energy sources will become competitive. If coal can be burned in highly efficient and low emission power plants we have nothing to worry about since we have hundreds of years of coal available.

It shouldn't take massive government mandates to accomplish this if things are as rosy as you claim. A clear sales pitch to public utility boards should be enough if it is such an obvious advantage over existing technology.

Robin Levett,

It's not my fault your name is so close to Ian's. ;)

In JC's case it's more like "I'm from Missouri therefore I'm smarter than Jesus" state.

As for my evidence, JC started his lying nonsense about Stern and discount rates in the "Simon Caldwell is a liar" thread - so I posted the text of the response I got from Chris Judge there.

Here it is again:

"Dear Ian,

Thanks for your interest in my work. The Stern review team used a real pure time preference (PTP) rate of 0.1% per year, coupled with an elasticity of marginal utility of consumption (EMUC) of -1, which gives a real consumption discount rate of about 1.5% per year ('about' because it varies over time with variations in per capita GDP growth rates).

The PAGE2002 model can handle uncertain PTP and EMUC rates, and I have made many other runs with PTP rates in the range of 0 to 3% and EMUCs of -0.5 to -2. Let me know if these are of interest to you and I can send you a paper."

So the guy who did the modeling says JC's wrong. He's failed totally to prove Tol made the statements he attributed to him.

He calls Nobel laureates idiots. (Actually he only called Amatya Sen an idiot - maybe that's a reflection of his conviction that brown people are less intelligent than him.)

Oh and JC let's see if I can explain this simply enough for you to follow.

The discount rate has at least components.

Opportunity cost: the alternative income stream foregone;

The risk premium: the additional return people want to accept the possibility of default;

Pure time preference: the residual after taking the two previous components out which reflects the fact people prefer not to defer consumption.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance posts:

[[Most sources I have seen claim that a doubling of CO2 alone, without positive feedbacks, will result in about 1 degree C of warming. Not the stuff of catastrophe.]]

What in the world makes you think there are no feedbacks? Are you familiar with the Clausius-Clapeyron law?

And in any case, a change of one degree in the mean global annual surface temperature is enough to shift agricultural growing belts by hundreds of miles. The danger of global warming isn't the heat, though heat waves will be more frequent in summer. The danger is one of huge disruption to our agriculture and economy.

He does not state that models have predictive value, that they accurately reflect the case, that they capture the necessary and sufficient conditions of global climate. In fact, I quoted him saying they don't and you failed to rebut any of it.

Kevin, with respect, I think you are a bit confused as to what models have attempted to do thus far. Very few attempt to make predictions in the 7-day forecast sense of the word. They are tools to help determine (among many things) climate sensitivity, the expected warming for a doubling of CO2. This is why Trenberth says the IPCC does not make predictions. A prediction would attempt to incorporate future solar forcings, volcanism and etc.

However, when likely scenarios are used to project future climate, warming occurs under all of them. Specific predictions need to be refined, especially regional predictions. This does not mean that GCMs do not give us a very good idea of climate sensitivity--and one that matches with observational evidence as well.

Richard tol's original comments on the Stern Review are here.

After a quick review of the comments (it is 12.30 AM here), I can't find ANY discussion of Stern's use of discount rates in them.

Tol's criticism was essentially that Stern overestimated the costs of damage resulting from climate change and was overly optimistic abotu the cost of reducing emissions.

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/00…

I guess next JC will claim that this is a fraud and not the original version and that just like Chris Hope, Colorado State University is part of the warmer conspiracy.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance posts:

[[Much of that vapour however forms clouds which as anyone familiar with this topic knows can give both positive and negative feedbacks.]]

Kiehl and Trenberth's 1997 energy budget for the Earth-atmosphere system includes a cloud scheme. For high, middle and low clouds, respectively, they suggest 20%, 9% and 49% coverage of the sky (or, randomly overlapped, 62% for the whole Earth). Their mass paths are 0.009, 0.020 and 0.036 kg m^-2, respectively. That would indicate that clouds in the Earth's atmosphere mass about 1.08 x 10^13 kg. The mass of water vapor in Earth's atmosphere is about 1.27 x 10^16 kg, so there is about a thousand times more H2O in the air as water vapor than as clouds.

Lindzen's attempt to show that a tropical cloud "iris" would counter any increase in water vapor was shot down by satellite observations. So this objection to water-vapor feedback fails on a number of grounds.

Kevin posts:

[[ I understand you think 7 years is too short to draw a trend and using a high temp. peak year is dishonest. Why is 1000 years sufficient? ]]

For an unbiased sample, you need at least 30 points to hit a 95% level of confidence in a value for a normally distributed variable. Find an introductory statistics course and look at the tables of z-values in the back.

Actually I see that in his conclusions section Tol makes an offhand comment to the effect that "The discount rate used is lower than the official recommendations by HM Treasury."

Now he's just spent several pages tearing Stern a new one for his damage and cost estimates and other technical issues. He's used pretty intemperate language for an academicdescribing a fellow academic's work. If he actually thought Stern had used a 0.1% discount rate I think he would have had more than that to say about it.

Hell when he was interviewed on BBC radio - and said that if Stern were an undergrad in one of his classes he would have failed him - he doesn't even MENTION discount rates just damage estimates and mitigation cost estimates.

But I'm sure the BBC are part of the conspiracy too.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Rabbet

Haven't talked about the science here, genius. I've been speaking about the economics of GW.

Here's a puzzle for you nibble on, Rabbet, so you can leave the lettuce alone.

Stern argues that humans value present goods the same as they would future goods.... (Future goods being 93 years away).

In other words.... you know that sexy looking Toyota Prius you've been eyeing off in the shop that you were thinking of buying? Well Nic Stern thinks that even say if you had the wherewithal to buy it now, you would value a future Prius virtually the same as the one you're going buy today.

What that you say?

Yea, Rabbet it's a pretty silly statement, isn't it?

And you know what he also says? Pay attention and stop yawning in class Rabbet or you'll get a good clip over the ear.

What he also says is that paying an upfront fee of 1% of annual GDP will help mitigate a projected 20% cut GDP in 50-80 years time.

So what do the numbers represent? Stop yawning Rabbet and pay attention.

It means that we leave things alone and don't mitigate...even by his own numbers.

Why?

Because 1% of GDP now is bigger than .2 of GDP in Sterns time frame.

The point is that you shouldn't pay the premium cost of insuring Grand Central for your house.

In fact the best policy is to leave GDP unmolested on stern's numbers.

Kevin posts (about Trenberth's comments on models):

[[If I have his statements wrong, please state how. ]]

The models can't tell you what will happen because we don't know how future emissions will go. But they certainly CAN tell you what will happen if emissions increase at a given rate. So the models are still useful. Do you understand the distinction here?

I don't know which way the unemployment rate will go in 2012. I do know that if GDP is tanking that year, unemployment will go up.

In JC's case it's more like "I'm from Missouri therefore I'm smarter than Jesus" state.

You hate Christians now Gouldiechops? Or do you just hate Christians from Missouri. Lol.

As for my evidence, JC started his lying nonsense about Stern and discount rates in the "Simon Caldwell is a liar" thread - so I posted the text of the response

Which was a bullshit response. Let's make this short and sweet, Gould. What rate does stern say he used in his report? I'll give you a hint he doesn't even say.

He's failed totally to prove Tol made the statements he attributed to him.

No I didn't. I told you where to look; See my comment above. I'm just not doing the work for you.

He calls Nobel laureates idiots. (Actually he only called Amatya Sen an idiot - maybe that's a reflection of his conviction that brown people are less intelligent than him.)

Careful with a racist accusations here, Gould , or you'll be asked to call me racist to my face. Want to try that on? Name the place and I'll show up. I'm friggen serious. You're always trying this racist shit on with people you disagree with. But it stops right here. You want to accuse me of being a racist to my face, just name the place and time.
In my opinion Sen's work doesn't merit a nobel prize. It has nothing to do with the man's color of his skin, you pathetic dissembler. Maybe it's you that is the racist coward here seeing you brought up the man's skin color.

The discount rate has at least components.

All combining into one rate. So what was the rate he used, Gould? Can you at least tell us?

By the way Stern didn't even add up the benefits of GW, making his entire report a crock of dung..

@Lance (#121):

Are you accusing me of the a dicto simpliciter fallacy or do you just Latin?

No; I'm a lawyer and I mean that what Trenberth said is more nuanced than you appear to have understood.

I find your "sense" of what he is saying to contradict what he actually says.

Then you are urgently in need of remedial reading comprehension lessons; can I suggest that you read all of the posts on the following page, in context and without trying to pull out sentences that can be made to agree with your position if quoted out of context:

http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/recent_contributors/kevin_trenb…

The point that Trenberth is making is not that the GCMs are useless for giving information about the future; what he is saying (and I quote him as saying so in my earlier post) is that because the GCMs are not initialised with present conditions, and because they don't capture regional variation and short term climate cycles such as El Nino/La Nina and the ADO and PDO, they cannot at present be used to provide climate predictions fine-grained either in time or space. He does say, however, that the IPCC has never sought to make such predictions; he says instead that:

The IPCC instead proffers "what if" projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. There are a number of assumptions that go into these emissions scenarios. They are intended to cover a range of possible self consistent "story lines" that then provide decision makers with information about which paths might be more desirable. But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess.

He goes on to say that:

The current projection method works to the extent it does because it utilizes differences from one time to another and the main model bias and systematic errors are thereby subtracted out. This assumes linearity. It works for global forced variations, but it can not work for many aspects of climate, especially those related to the water cycle.

So they make projections, and those projections work for global forced variations - which is exactly what the IPCC seeks to know - what will be the global effect on temperature, relative to that prevailing at a given level of CO2, of adding another X ppm.

The models assume linearity - that is, as I understand it, that the climate won't tip over into a state where the effects of the modelled forcings differ significantly from those in operation today.

He asks:

So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to?...

and goes on to point out in the remainder of that paragraph where the science is settled; he answers the question in the next paragraph when he says:

However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.

So; at the beginning of the piece he says that the IPCC doesn't do predictions but projections. That is the contrast he is making in the quote you have seized on; he is emphatically not saying that GCs cannot tell us anything about what will happen in the future, which is the interpretation you are trying to put on that sentence by quoting it out of context.

He goes on to say that projections are useful in that they can point where the global climate generally will go with given emissions scenarios. The models are "useful" in that respect, and science is in that respect settled. The models however can't at present be used to predict climate at a regional level or on short timescales; for that, we need to work on the science, and the observations, so we can incorporate those regional and short term cycles and produce climate predictions.

Nothing in what he says contradicts the IPCC reports - to the contrary, he is explaining what the IPCC reports say, and clearing away a misconception.

Your position appears to correspond to Bob Carter's in the Courier-Mail on June 29 this year; Carter said, quoting the same Trenberth post as you:

A New Zealander by birth, Trenberth has had a distinguished career as a climate scientist with interests in the use of computer General Circulation Models (GCMs), the basis for most of the public alarm about dangerous global warming.

When such a person gives an opinion about the scientific value of GCMs as predictive tools, it is obviously wise to pay attention.

In a remarkable contribution to Nature magazine's Climate Feedback blog, Trenberth concedes GCMs cannot predict future climate and claims the IPCC is not in the business of climate prediction.

...

Trenberth's statements are a direct admission of the validity of similar criticisms that have been made of GCMs and the IPCC by climate rationalists for many years.

Trenberth's reaction is in the July 11 2007 post on the page I've referred to above. He says:

Bob Carter, a climate change doubter in Australia, has written a distortion of all this in the Courier Mail, issuing various attack against the science of climate change. Andrew Ash has written a rebuttal of these comments.

So he endorses what Ash said in response - and what did Ash say:

The assertion that CSIRO's "climate models are worthless predictive tools" draws on a quote (out of context) by US climate scientist Kevin Trenberth - but he does not question the reality of anthropogenic global warming, or the threat of future warming as predicted by global and regional climate models.

All Trenberth argues is that the climate models cannot predict exactly how some aspects of regional climate will evolve in the years ahead.

Climate scientists are acutely aware of the limitations of climate models and as a result they do not try to forecast the actual climate for a particular day or month or year decades into the future.

They do not produce "useless regional climate forecasts" but rather valuable projections of how the climate is likely to trend, as well as assessing uncertainties. These projections equip us to prepare for the changes ahead, giving us the opportunity to pre-empt and minimise some of the potential negative impacts of climate change if we act promptly.

So your reliance upon Trenberth in support of your position is misguided; he endorses the interpretation of his post that I gave in my first post on the topic - see the emphasised portion of the quote above. And guess what? I'd only read the Climate Feedback page I refer to above when I came to that conclusion.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Oops - in #151, for "@Lance", read "@Kevin".

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

@Lance (#138):

Ian Gould,

Hey, I'm all for alternative energy that is cost effective. If oil and natural gas remain at historic highs I'm sure that other energy sources will become competitive. If coal can be burned in highly efficient and low emission power plants we have nothing to worry about since we have hundreds of years of coal available.

It shouldn't take massive government mandates to accomplish this if things are as rosy as you claim. A clear sales pitch to public utility boards should be enough if it is such an obvious advantage over existing technology.

Robin Levett,

It's not my fault your name is so close to Ian's. ;)

Anyone can make a mistake...

But - could you please answer the question I've already asked twice?

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

JC, You wrote:

"By the way Stern didn't even add up the benefits of GW".

What benefits? Given the current rate of climate change is probably unprecedented in many millions of years, and that it is occurring against a background where natural systems have already greatly stressed by a range of anthropogenic assaults, its going to be hard to find any as far as these systems and the species that make them up are concerned. What we are going to see (and indeed are already seeing) are complex adaptive systems and food webs unravelling and having to reassemble themselves. There will be some winners but many more losers. The current extiction spasm already underway will likely increase. As a result, we can expect systems to become leakier, less efficient at cycling nutrients, concomitant with a reduction in the delivery of critical ecosystem services vital to our own survival.

I know this wont'mean much to you, but that's probably because you don't understand the processes and mechanisms involved. To be fair, most politicians, economists and laypeople don't understand them either, and tend to dismiss them, but that doesn't exempt our species from dependence on systems which permit us to exist and persist.

I know full well the purely anthropocentric benefits you are referring to. The same jibberish that most of the sceptics spew out - warmer winters mean less cold-related deaths, a longer growing season etc. But these so-called benefits are endlessly promoted while ignoring the more complex ecological and environmental parameters on which human civilization hinges. Just because laypeople do not understand the myriad of ways in which complex systems function in no way means that they are not vital to the material economy.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Robin Levett (I'm pretty sure this time.)

I'd be happy to answer the question you have "asked twice".

Uh, what was the question, and are you asking me or Kevin?

@Lance (#155):

I was asking you; it was in #83:

@Lance (#77)

One more comment before I go to bed; you said:

Do I doubt that we could convert from a carbon based fuel economy in a few decades without major negative economic consequences? Absolutely. If you think otherwise you don't understand the challenge that would be.

When do you believe that fossil fuels - specifically oil, upon which most of the global transportation rests - will be priced out of the global economy through scarcity?

Your original reply (#90) referred to power stations being coal-fired, and the reserves of coal available - but said nothing about transportation. I then followed up (in #108) by pointing out that coal-fired electricity generation accounts for only 20% of US energy end-usage, that transportation, virtually all of it dependent upon oil, accounted for 40% and oil and gas-fired electricity generation accounted for a further 10%; so more than 50% (since much industrial and residential energy end-usage is met by oil or gas) of the US's energy needs are met by oil or gas. So, once again, when do you think that oil/gas will be priced out of the global economy through scarcity; and for extra credit why is this process going to be less disruptive than phasing out use of those fuels to mitigate the additional costs of AGW?

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

re: #156 Robin

If you haven't already seen it, the Hirsch Report is very useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsch_report has a summary, and pointer to the actual report.

The bottom line is:

- start 20 years before the peak, or it will be messy
[Of course, if T. Boone Pickens is right, the peak was in 2006, which means that we must have started a serious effort to de-oil in 1986. Oops.]

"Oil peaking will likely accelerate replacement rates, but the transition will still require decades and cost trillions of dollars."

I have reservations about coal-to-liquids, of course, but by and large the report has much good data. What they say about peaking matches what I used to hear [I used to help sell supercomputers to oil companies, so I talked to petroleum geologists.]

By John Mashey (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Robin Levett,

When do I think oil/gas will be "priced out" of the global economy through scarcity? Well since people are lining up to pay $100/barrel I would say not for many decades. So called "peak oil" keeps being pushed into the future. With current prices there is plenty of incentive to find more and recover the harder to pump known reserves. While I am quite aware that petroleum is a finite resource and will eventually be exhausted I have confidence that people will find it and extract it, if the market is there, for years to come.

Peak oil is a sticky question. It has been predicted for various times both past and present. As oil gets more expensive no doubt other energy sources will become economically viable. I'd be happy to run my car on ethanol made from plant cellulose or maple syrup if the price was right. I have no love for petroleum or the totalitarian regimes that sell most of it.

(Brings to mind a quote from Steven Colbert. Something about Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream being to drive a bulldozer through the New York Times building while drinking crude oil from Keith Olbermann's skull.)

I think free market economics (Oh boy, no doubt that phrase has enflamed leftist passions) should decide when the world makes the switch from petroleum, not effete bureaucrats sipping Mai Tais in Bali.

I assume you have other opinions on the subject so please, inform me as to your prescription for a "sustainable and controlled" end to the age of petroleum.

I think free market economics (Oh boy, no doubt that phrase has enflamed leftist passions) should decide when the world makes the switch from petroleum, not effete bureaucrats sipping Mai Tais in Bali.

No caveat regarding whatever harm may result from unfettered consumption, of course.

Free market extremism and science denialism always go hand-in-hand, it seems.

Your position is no surprise, of course.

There are at least two ways to look at Hubbert's prediction of peak oil.

(1) Absolute maximum of production. (peak oil for dummies)

(2) The point at which increasing production and demand sufficient for GDP growth begin to diverge.

Barring some near miraculous discovery of huge new petroleum resources, (1) most likely occurred in 2006.

Judging from crude prices, (2) happened around the year 2000, very much in line with Hubbert's prediction.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance brings to mind the story of the two free market true believers stranded on a desert island, who made themselves rich by trading each other rocks. (Just before they starved to death)

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance writes:

[[I think free market economics (Oh boy, no doubt that phrase has enflamed leftist passions) should decide when the world makes the switch from petroleum, not effete bureaucrats sipping Mai Tais in Bali. ]]

I would be willing to have free-market economics decide the question -- if the market in question has some mechanism to compensate for externalities. If we priced oil on the basis of all it cost human civilization in general, I think we would already be past the peak.

When rightists nowadays endorse "free market economics," they tend to mean anarcho-capitalism in the Ayn Rand style -- no legal method to address whatever the big corporations do and whatever the big corporations dump into the air, water, or land. Antipollution laws may not be compatible with a "free market" in that sense, yet somehow I think they're a good idea anyway. Ditto a cap-and-trade system for CO2.

@Lance (#158):

I think free market economics (Oh boy, no doubt that phrase has enflamed leftist passions) should decide when the world makes the switch from petroleum, not effete bureaucrats sipping Mai Tais in Bali.

Are you serious? You do realise that free markets will track supply/demand in the short term; whereas replacement of petroleum with alternative energy sources requires medium to long-term decisions, don't you? The effect is that leaving it to the free market (pbuh) at peak oil will cause dislocation to global economy that you won't believe, with inelastic (rising - in the medium term) demand meeting even more inelastic (falling - in the long term) supply. What happens to the oil price in that situation; and what happens to transportation costs, and therefore transportation, and therefore the global economy?

That's before taking into account that making the switch at peak oil - even if that were possible without effectively instantaneous massive expansion of manufacturing capacity - will mean you hit a huge demand for replacement products just when costs of getting the raw materials to the factories and then the manufactured gods to the market are going through the roof. Hell in a handbasket (probably the only affordable method of transport at the time) has nothing on that scenario I don't need to read the Hirsch report to work that out.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

dhogaza,

I don't believe I espoused any "free market extremism". Nor do I think that petroleum is a completely free market.

lum beau,

(1) Since oil preduction is determined by cartels it would be a very dubious postion to ascribe one year's controlled output as an absolute maximum.

(2)Hubberts prediction wouldn't even be true for the US if drilling wasn't restricted by political concerns.

I like your "island" story by the way.

Have you heard the two cows joke?

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to someone else.

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and evenly distributes the milk.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

BPL,

Now I'm an "anarcho-capitalist"? Show me where I advocated for "no legal method" to enforce democratically decided laws? You sir are a most prolific builder of straw men.

Also your hand waving water vapour calculations are reason enough to doubt your knowledge of atmospheric dynamics. If the hydrological cycle were as simple as the ideas you present, the earth's climate could be accurately modeled on a laptop. Oh and the earth would long ago have experienced a run-a-way, H2O driven, greenhouse catastrophe.

More heat -> More water vapour -> More heat -> More water vapour -> (You get the idea.)

Jc, why pay attention to you when a good nap is a lot more instructive and fun although, I assume that Tim keeps you around for laughs. Sometimes I suspect he does your posts to just to keep up interest.

"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together- mass hysteria!"

Robin Levett,

Do you suppose that the oil will run out in one last gush followed by a dripping sound? Take a look at even the most pessimistic peak oil charts. They are all Gaussian, you know the old bell curve? That means a gradual diminishing supply. This will make all those alternatives that folks have been espousing more economically attractive. This will spur investment and development that will lead to an eventual free market transition to other energy sources.

You might have noticed that accept for Japanese uh, "scientific" expeditions you don't see many ships plying the world's oceans in search of whale oil. Did I miss the great "peak whale oil" economic melt-down in my history classes or did some proto-UN commission save the Victorian day?

Also before the over-heated "anarcho-Randism" remarks get unfurled, I'm not saying that governments and other public institutions can't play an important role in establishing guidelines for these transitional markets, which is quite a different matter than artificially imposing a whole new global energy regime.

Setting absolute energy caps, distributed by fiat with mandatory deadlines and then punitively enforcing them across international boundaries and across all world economies is naively ambitious, and perniciously foolhardy.

Robin:
Yes, it's easy to imagine, but I still recommend reading Hirsch, because:

a) It was written for the US DOE, it's not just some random white paper or web posting.

b) It has a lot of backup data that would support your argument.

=====
LB: on Peak Oil definitions
I'm curious about your second definition, as I've generally seen the first one used, and it's certainly the way Hubbert used it. Can you point me at those who interpret it the second way? I'd like to understand that.

Peak Oil in general
For anyone who doesn't believe this, please talk to your friendly local petroleum geologist (off the record) and see what they say.

The Peak predictions *assume* there will be a few more big strikes, and technology improvements, etc, etc. We(computer folks) helped out the oil guys for seismic & reservoir modeling in the 1990s, via big boosts in compute power and memory and I/O. While that lets them select potential oil fields in better order, and better model the amount of oil they'll get, it doesn't MAKE more oil.

Really, the oil folks aren't dumb: they look for and find the biggest, easiest ones first, and they certainly know well all the places oil *isn't*.
http://www.lastoilshock.com/map.html has a nice map; if you mouse-over it will show you when each country peaked or when it is expected to. Of course, there are a few anomalies, like Iraq, where output might actually rise substantially. [Perhaps the whole Iraq war was a brilliant, farsighted effort to get the oil to stay in the ground longer,a Good Thing.... Oh, maybe not.]

By John Mashey (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"So, z, I guess it would take more than a puny 0.6 degree increase over the last century and scaremongering claims of doom predicated on unproven climate models for me to get behind a plan to radically change the entire world's economy."

Well, at least you gave a response, for which I thank you, and give you points for engaging in a discussion. I note, however, that nowhere do you actually answer in a positive fashion:
"what manner of evidence would convince you? And/or what would possibly constitute 'scientific proof' of anthropogenic climate change, that mankind has not provided"

From your answer quoted above, you seem to imply that if the rate of warming were greater you would believe in anthropogenic climate change; but I suspect that it is not something you mean to say.

Can you indicate some set of evidence that you would find convincing beyond a reasonable doubt?

Jc, why pay attention to you when a good nap is a lot more instructive and fun although,

Lol. So you're awake then..

I assume that Tim keeps you around for laughs.

Dunno, rabbet. Ask him.

Sometimes I suspect he does your posts to just to keep up interest.

So that threat that you were going to get a kill file was just that... an empty threat. Lol.

"You hate Christians now Gouldiechops? Or do you just hate Christians from Missouri. Lol."

I don't hate anyone. I do pity sad, bitter, delusional little men who scream "he's lying" when the facts contradict their prejudices.

"Careful with a racist accusations here, Gould , or you'll be asked to call me racist to my face. Want to try that on? Name the place and I'll show up. I'm friggen serious. You're always trying this racist shit on with people you disagree with."

No I only "try" it with the one guy who disagrees with me who has publicly and repeatedly said he believes Africans are less intelligent than Europeans.

You know I'm starting to wonder if you're genuine or a clever hoax concocted by someone like Eli to make denialists look even worse than they really are.

Why don't you come back when you have something to offer besides accusations of lying, personal abuse and threats of physical violence.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"You want to accuse me of being a racist to my face, just name the place and time."

Anyone reminded of an episode of The Simpons here?

"All combining into one rate. So what was the rate he used, Gould? Can you at least tell us?"

As Chris Hope explained, the average rate employed over the hundreds of modeling runs was a real discount rate of 1.5%.

Tell me do you know what the word "real" means in this context?

Hint: contrast with the word "nominal".

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

A quick exercise for Lance re. those "hundreds of years of coal reserves".

Let reserves equal 800, let 2007 consumption equal one. Assume growth in demand of 3% per year compounding, how long to depletion?

Of course, that assumes coal demand simply grows in line with the economy. If we want to assume coal substitution for oil and natural gas, the growth is demand is porbably closer to 10%.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"When do I think oil/gas will be "priced out" of the global economy through scarcity? Well since people are lining up to pay $100/barrel I would say not for many decades. So called "peak oil" keeps being pushed into the future."

Actually production seems to have peaked in 2006 - despite those record nominal prices.

Meanwhile the oil majors have been reducing their exploration budgets and cap-ex for the past decade. This is not a rational response to higher prices - unless you suspect there's little capacity to increase output.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"I guess googling is too hard for you.

http://www.env-econ.net/2006/11/tolscommenton.html"

I guess clicking on links in google results is too hard for you since this link produces "Page not found" error.

Now that might be because of the odd "comments.html" bit you've got after the link but in my google search I did indeed find the Environmental Economics link - and it wasn't on-line.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"Do you suppose that the oil will run out in one last gush followed by a dripping sound? Take a look at even the most pessimistic peak oil charts. They are all Gaussian, you know the old bell curve? That means a gradual diminishing supply. This will make all those alternatives that folks have been espousing more economically attractive."

What do you think will happen to the oil price when output declines even marginally and demand continues to grow?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Even more hilariously, when I search the index at env-ecom it turns out to link back to the same paper by Tol I'd already read and linked to.

Tell me Tim C; Lance and Kevin doesn't it make your hearts swell with pride to see yourselves associated with a first-rate mind like JC's?

Agree with me you stinking liars or I'll coem roudn to your houses and punch your faces in.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Here's a prediction based on JC's past behavior, assuming Tim doesn;t shut the discussion down, he'll proceed for several hundred more messages full of abuse and absurd accusations.

Eventually I'll walk away in disgust at which point JC will announce he's won the debate.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

What happens with natural resources is that the cost of goes up as the most easily extracted sources are exploited. When substitution is possible, substitution happens when the cost of extracting and using the original resource exceeds that of the substitute. This was Julian Simon's insight.

The world will not run out of oil but rather that the cost of extracting it will at some point exceed the benefit. Since greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution (mercury) are not encompassed in the cost of coal and shale oil, absent intelligent action, coal and shale oil will be substituted.

Gouldiechops says:
"You want to accuse me of being a racist to my face, just name the place and time."
Anyone reminded of an episode of The Simpons here?

Yea, it does, you always play the part of Homer simpson.

Look, Gouldster you make an accusation that i am a racist for no other reason than that i think Sen's work is below scratch. You should have the balls to say that to my face, you creep. As I said, anytime.

As Chris Hope explained, the average rate employed over the hundreds of modeling runs was a real discount rate of 1.5%.
Tell me do you know what the word "real" means in this context?
Hint: contrast with the word "nominal".

This is your answer, Gould.

I'll ask you again... and don't even try to skulk out of this one. What was the discount rate used by Stern in his report. I don't give a shit what Chrios Hope thinks he used. I want you to cite tha page or chapter of Sterns report explaining exactly what he used. If you can't answer don't even post a comment.

Stern doesn't cite "a" discount rate because there is no single discount rate.

Show me where Stern says he used a 0.1% discount rate.

If you can't, I promise not to call you a liar or threaten you with violence.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Rabbet says:

The world will not run out of oil but rather that the cost of extracting it will at some point exceed the benefit. Since greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution (mercury) are not encompassed in the cost of coal and shale oil, absent intelligent action, coal and shale oil will be substituted.

Rabbet is now a resources analyst writing a regular piece for Goldman Sachs commodity letter. LOl

Rabbet, the biggest problem we have at the moment in terms of subsitution is that OPEC oil... Mid East oil ....is so relatively plentiful in terms of extraction costs. Saudi oil costs about 5 bucks to get out of the ground. Therefore it becomes real problematic to go spend $3-5 billion on shale extraction plants producing oil at 40 bucks a barrel when you have the Saudi hammer getting waved at your private parts. It was only in the mid 90's when North Sea oil production was moth balled for several months due to the Saudis punishing marginal producers by sending oil to 10 bucks and sending them broke.

There's plenty of oil around, Rabbet. Brazil just found an offshore gusher that puts them on Oil ave. The US recently found a guge field in the gulf.

I hope you're not a peak oil, gasman , are you? Say it ain't so.

Gouldiechops
Now that might be because of the odd "comments.html" bit you've got after the link but in my google search I did indeed find the Environmental Economics link - and it wasn't on-line.

Ummm noticed that problem. 3/4s of the way up the page you'll find PDF link, Gouldmeister. Click on the link and off you go.

While you're there I have the discount rate from the stern report too, please. And no dissembling.

You know seeing as JC has repeatedly called me a liar, a Stalinist, a supporter of genocide and now a religious bigot I think he should have the courage to give me his home address and phone number so I can face him down like a man.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Trrll:

>>This is correct, because these are climate models, not political models. So the best that they can do is predict what will happen to the climate under different emissions scenarios. Physics is not a great deal of help in predicting what people will do.

That's currently true and cogent, but not what he said. As is clear from the first two paragraphs of his essay, he is denying the prediction of future climate completely. He doesn't restrict it to emissions scenarios, he is careful to point out the modeling also fails to capture a number of relevant empiria, e.g.:

"None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate."

He then adds a qualified statement, about the models working to the extent that they do, the meat of which is a tautology. Everything works to the extent that it does.

>>I find it odd that you quote this, but choose to omit the concluding sentence of the paragraph, "I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized," which makes it clear that he is referring to the limitations of current models in predicting regional, as opposed to global, climate change.

It certainly seems to present a tension with the first few sentences he wrote, as you interpret it. Your thought seems to flatly contradict this claim he makes:

"However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate."

That "or" means we do not have reliable predictions of climate AND we don't have regional predictions of climate. If his point was what you asserted, that we can't predict how humans will behave, that sentence would be pointless. He could have said emissions predictions can't be done due to volition, he just didn't.

In fact, he explicitly states the science is not done, it is just beginning to face up to the challenge of making reliable predictions. Do you think he means to say science is about to figure out how humans will choose to emit GHGs? I don't.

I think he is making an observation not related to his unequivocal claim that:

"In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been,"

which coupled with the first paragraph of the essay

"I have often seen references to predictions of future climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presumably through the IPCC assessments (the various chapters in the recently completedWorking Group I Fourth Assessment report ican be accessed through this listing). In fact, since the last report it is also often stated that the science is settled or done and now is the time for action."

is about as complete a denial of prediction of any fashion, global, reliable or regional, by the IPCC GCMs as I can imagine. I can at least read and comprehend English and what he wrote is not what you are interpreting.

>>Similarly, you choose not to mention his statement that "It works for global forced variations"

The referent of that "it" is the assumption of linearity "working to the extent that it does", correct? Could you explicate that? Layman that I am, seeing a tautology as an impact for a claim doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

>>or "Hence mitigation of the problem: stopping or slowing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is essential. The science is clear in this respect."

Again I found it odd that the referent sourcing of his claim was the IPCC report and not, for instance, his own understanding of the case, and the inclusion of this conditional rhetorical question, "So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to?"

I don't like speculating about authorial intent. I don't know Trenberth. I want to deal with what he wrote, not what I think he meant, so I try to avoid apparent tensions in the text.

>>Perhaps you genuinely do not understand what he is talking about, do not appreciate the meaning of what you omitted, and actually think that he is saying that current models of global climate change do not work.

OTC, I am positive that they work to the extent that they do. In fact, that is true of all logically possible worlds in which GCMs exist. It just doesn't mean that the extent to which they work is useful. Since it is simple to write that GCMs work well, I presume he has a reason for choosing to assert a tautology.

He asserts main model biases and systematic errors are omitted thanks to the assumption of linearity. If you could explicate that, I would appreciate it.

What he does not assert is that whatever biases remain are unimportant. In fact, the whole point of this essay seems to be that they are important and that GCMs are not reliably predictive nor are they regionally predictive.

Thanks for the left handed compliment almost assuming I was arguing in good faith. I'll return the favor and say that your apparent ignorance of the logical relevance of a tautology, apparent spin doctoring and silence on the very conditional nature of his support in this essay and silence on his complete and unqualified denial of any predictions at all of any form or manner in the IPCC GCMS, is potentially good natured even though it looks *precisely* like a bad faith argument. That or we could just leave out the character attacks altogether and deal with the material at hand rather than impugning one another's motives. Up to you.

Stern doesn't cite "a" discount rate because there is no single discount rate.

Of course he can't use ONE discount rate as there are different duration points on the time series, Gouldster. As a friggen basic econocmist you ought to know that shit. The yield is not always flat, is it genius?

However he doesn't say other than being very cagey about it.

Show me where Stern says he used a 0.1% discount rate.

My lord you're slow. i have already posted Tol's citation indicating that's what Stern used as a time preference rate after someone analysed his crap.

If you can't, I promise not to call you a liar or threaten you with violence.

You would be quite within your rights if I called you a racist for no good reason like you did to me. I didn't threaten you with violenece. I asked if you would be man enough to call me that to me face.

And I don't lie Gouldster. I get things wrong at times and when I do I admite error. But don't call me a racist like you do when you disagree with other people.

You know seeing as JC has repeatedly called me a liar, a Stalinist, a supporter of genocide and now a religious bigot I think he should have the courage to give me his home address and phone number so I can face him down like a man.

I have never called you a liar.

I have said at times that you're a stalinist, only in terms of the economics you support.... not his murdering ways. Even I don't think you would be a mass murderer, Gouldster.

Well you did exhibit religious bigorty over that comment about Missouri, didn't you? You don't seem to like Christians. In fact you often indicate you hate them. But hey, I'm not being judgemental.

No Gouldster I don't want your address or phone number. In fact I'll give you mine when I'm up in Qld this summer.You can call me a racist at the hotel I'm staying.

Is anyone else amused by soemone who won;t even give his full name accusing others of cowardice for not publishing their address and phone number?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

You know seeing as JC can make up the discount rate he WANTS Stern to have used, I think I'll just asset that her used a discount rate of 5,000%. If anybody disagrees I'll demand they show me where the Stern Review says different.

Then IU'll demand their name, address, phone number; bank account numbers and credit card details and call them a coward if they don't comply.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Finally JC.

Seeing as you're almost definitely a snivelling coward as well as a fool and a bigot. my address is 414 Bennetts Road, Norman Park. My home phone number is 07 3899 0537.

Abusive phone calls will be reported to the authorities, any trespass on my property will be met with appropriate force.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Is anyone else amused by soemone who won;t even give his full name accusing others of cowardice for not publishing their address and phone number?

Actually I amusd by your lying, Gouldie. I said you could always call me that to my face anywhere anytime and the I would make myself available. I didn't ask for your details, so stop dissembling again.

You can of course show where exactly I asked for your address details. But then this would be like asking you to show us what Stern used as the discount RATES.

I look forward to showing up at JC's hotel and asking for Mr. C's room number.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

"I have seen it asserted that warming is not proceeding apace with GCM model predictions, the GCM models are adjusted to fit the data retroactively, and also that the models are not empirically founded and that current climatology is not sufficiently accurate enough to allow for modelling with any predictive value at all. The last two I read asserted by Kevin Trenberth. How would you characterize those claims?"

Er.. you mean:
"weather forecasts [as distinct from climate forecasts] are based on numerical weather prediction models and rigorous procedures, not empirical methods"? and "In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers "what if" projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios ... There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess."
Trenberth explains the differences between weather prediction and climate modeling: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/presentations/ClimForecastsTrenberth.ppt Weather prediction starts with current weather data (estimates), feeds that through models of the atmosphere to provide predictions of future observations. Small uncertainties and errors compound rapidly over time, preventing precise deterministic predictions beyond about 2 weeks. Climate prediction, however, is one step removed, predicting the behavior of the system as a function of the influences which enter into the system; but without making deterministic predictions of precise measurements, which are too highly dependent on unpredictable factors in the system. "It is inherently probabilistic"

Even a cursory inspection of the descriptions of the modeling process (http://www.cccma.ec.gc.ca/models/cgcm1.shtml and following pages) explains that the models are not adjusted to fit the climate retroactively; that in fact, they are made up of atmospheric models containing the best current parameter estimates, coupled to oceanic models made up of the best current parameter estimates, and validated by starting them with climate data of 1900 and various perturbations of the parameters, and letting them iterate to the present day, comparing the predictions with the actual data; and in fact, the various perturbations all converge pretty well and reproduce not just current global average temperature, but a large number of climate features over the intervening period.

As for the warming not proceeding apace with predictions, there is of course Hansen's famous 1988 model, as updated by one Tim Lambert: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/upload/2006/11/hansen.png.

Good one Gouldie. You're deliberately putting yourself up as the victim here and posting your personal details on the web. You may actually think about what you have done and discuss it with the people you live with first.... lol.

That's a really silly thing to do to somehow prove some silly point you've already lost. Lol.

"A comprehensive list of the costs of eliminating all carbon fuels would run well into the trillions of dollars. Not to mention that there exists no readily available alternative."

This is a familiar argument; but to me it suggests that we start the process as soon as possible in order that it can be as gradual as we need it to be, rather than running into the brick wall to stop the car, rather than using the brakes.

"Well you did exhibit religious bigorty over that comment about Missouri, didn't you?"

Suggesting that you think you're "smarter than Jesus" is anti-Christian?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

I look forward to showing up at JC's hotel and asking for Mr. C's room number.

But before that, could you please give me Stern's discount rates. I'll swap.

"Lance brings to mind the story of the two free market true believers stranded on a desert island, who made themselves rich by trading each other rocks."

Also see the recent US economy, where we all got rich selling each other houses.

Gouldster:

In JC's case it's more like "I'm from Missouri therefore I'm smarter than Jesus" state.

It's a putdown of Missouri for being christian, Gouldie. Don't try to skulk out of this one like mangy dog stealing the dinner. there is no reason to bring Jesus into it. No reason at all unless you were trying to make a bigoted slight of hand.

Just apologise to me and move on. and I'll forget it all as I very forgiving.

Now I now your grasp of English (and reality) is pretty poor JC but notice the words "In JC's case".

I'm not referring to all Missourians or all Christians, I'm referring to one spectacularly stupid, arrogant Missourian with delusions of grandeur.

"Just apologise to me and move on."

And so the snivelling and obfuscation begins.

Tell me, since you support Hayek's view that women and the poor should be excluded from voting because they can't be relied upon to vote the right way and seeing as you also believe that Africans are less intelligent than Europeans do you think people of African descent should also be excluded from voting?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Now I now (SIC) your grasp of English (and reality) is pretty poor JC but notice the words "In JC's case".
lol

I'm not referring to all Missourians or all Christians, I'm referring to one spectacularly stupid, arrogant Missourian with delusions of grandeur.

What? Gouldie, what the hell are you talking about? I'm not from Missouri you fool. I'm from Missouri is an expression Americans use to denote skepticism. Missouri is known as the Show Me State. It means I won't take your word for it...... and you have to prove something to me.
Now I now your grasp of English (and reality) is pretty poor gouldie.

And so the snivelling and obfuscation begins.

Your behavior has been reprehensible of late, Gouldie. You ought to be embarrassed about yourself. And yes, you most certainly ought to apologize to me.

Tell me, since you support Hayek's view that women and the poor should be excluded from voting because they can't be relied upon to vote the right way and seeing as you also believe that Africans are less intelligent than Europeans do you think people of African descent should also be excluded from voting?

I tell you what I do think. I think you ought to be excluded from voting until you apologize for this bad behavior of yours. And stop derailing the thread, Gouldmesiter. I want that Stern report information asap on my desk this evening.

JC and Ian Gould, please be polite to each other. No more accusations of dsihonesty or name calling, please. The discussion about Stern is off topic here, so no more. If anyone cares, I believe that JC is completely wrong on this point.

Sorry, Tim. Mean that.

@Kevin (#183):

Going after the low hanging fruit? Now answer the fact that (as shown in my comment #151) Trenberth himself says that your version of what he says is a distortion, and endorses my (and Trrll's) version.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

I think he is making an observation not related to his unequivocal claim that:

"In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been,"

which coupled with the first paragraph of the essay

Kevin, until you understand the difference between a prediction and a projection or scenario you are doomed to misunderstand Trenbeerth. Models do not have to be initialized to give reliable estimates of climate sensitivity.

"difference between a prediction and a projection"

If I may, it's like the difference between the study of a particular product of a process, and the study of the process itself. For instance, one may not be able to predict very accurately the reliability of the Arfgang brand automobile when it reaches fifteen years old. However the effect on the reliability of the automobile of using an inferior grade of steel may be quite predictable, and the effect on its reliability fifteen years on also predictable, still without being able to give a quantitative prediction of the precise reliability of a particular car fifteen years later, or even the average reliability then.

@Lance (#):

Do you suppose that the oil will run out in one last gush followed by a dripping sound?

To quote what someone (I can't quite recall the name) said earlier in this thread: "Please don't put words in my mouth."

Take a look at even the most pessimistic peak oil charts. They are all Gaussian, you know the old bell curve? That means a gradual diminishing supply.

Tell me something I don't already demonstrably know.

You might have noticed that accept for Japanese uh, "scientific" expeditions you don't see many ships plying the world's oceans in search of whale oil. Did I miss the great "peak whale oil" economic melt-down in my history classes or did some proto-UN commission save the Victorian day?

I don't think you did - but come over here and address your arguments to me, rather than that convenient strawman in the corner. My point is, I thought, a very simple one. We rely to a very large - unprecedented - extent, for our energy needs generally, upon a single commodity, oil. Even Victorian dependence upon whale oil for...well, whatever they were totally reliant upon it for...didn't match that reliance.

Our reliance upon oil is almost total in the transportation sector. Conversion to anything else will require a massive replacement of infrastructure, which will take years and a huge industrial effort.

While supply can match demand, the price will drift upwards. The cost of entry into the market on a market-wide scale for replacement fuels will remain prohibitive. The main candidates are in any event less efficient than oil - liquefaction of coal or extraction from tar sands because of the energy investment in producing the fuel, biofuel because it simply doesn't have the same bang either for the buck or for the pound - which means that the point at which the market switches will be delayed still further.

It will be when supply ceases to match demand that the price signal will turn unequivocally green for the alternatives. But waiting to convert until that point - when shortages bite and the price skyrockets (that is, let the free market deal with the problem) will mean that the transportation sector is simultaneously fighting cost increases, fuel shortages, and unprecedented demand.

If this is not what you meant by letting the free market solve the problem, pray tell me what you did have in mind?

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

I watch the weather on the news and subscribe to one of the online weather services. I am not a scientist. I know these things, though. 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future. 2.) In the 1970's most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age. 3.) Technology has improved trewmendously since the 70's. 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has. I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. I'm supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future. Our local meteorologist received an email, from a listener, on Sunday, Dec. 16, asking what the weather would be like on Christmas day. The meteorologist replied, "I can't do that, It would be a crap shoot." This I believe.

Kevin, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that what appear to me to be deceptive arguments represent self-deception rather than deceptive intent.

That's currently true and cogent, but not what he said. As is clear from the first two paragraphs of his essay, he is denying the prediction of future climate completely.

Beware of cherry picking a couple of paragraphs that sound vaguely like they support your position. This is denialist thinking. He is drawing a clear distinction between prediction, which is saying something like, "The temperature is going to increase by 2C over the next decade," and projection based on emissions scenarios, which is saying something like "If CO2 emissions continue to increase at the current rate, the temperature is going to increase by 2C." Projection requires only physics; prediction requires also politics, economics, and psychology.

He then adds a qualified statement, about the models working to the extent that they do, the meat of which is a tautology. Everything works to the extent that it does.

The fact that you would embrace such a strained rationalization--that a noted climate scientist is trying to make a vacuous tautological statement--is a clear indication of how desperately you are trying to find a way to parse his words into something that supports your position.

I don't like speculating about authorial intent. I don't know Trenberth. I want to deal with what he wrote, not what I think he meant, so I try to avoid apparent tensions in the text.

It is clear to me that what you perceive as "apparent tensions in the text" are actually the tension between what he is actually saying and what you would like to attribute to him. Because of course there is no need to "speculate" about his intent. It is simple enough--if you are really seeking an answer rather than confirmation of your own biases--to answer this question by consulting his other writings.

That "or" means we do not have reliable predictions of climate AND we don't have regional predictions of climate. If his point was what you asserted, that we can't predict how humans will behave, that sentence would be pointless. He could have said emissions predictions can't be done due to volition, he just didn't.

This is also denialist thinking. Rather than consulting his other writings for clarification, you are building a rationalization on the parsing of a single word.

It certainly seems to present a tension with the first few sentences he wrote, as you interpret it. Your thought seems to flatly contradict this claim he makes:
"However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate."

Here, you are essentially arguing that since we don't know everything, we don't know anything. This is a very popular argument among denialists, whether it be of evolution, AIDS, or global warming. But in science, lack of perfect knowledge does not mean complete ignorance. For example, any theoretical physicist will tell you that the science is "not done" on gravity. We still don't understand in detail how gravity works, and we cannot predict its effects at very short distance scales. Yet we still know enough to forecast that the consequences of falling from a high place will be very harmful.

Again I found it odd that the referent sourcing of his claim was the IPCC report and not, for instance, his own understanding of the case, and the inclusion of this conditional rhetorical question, "So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to?"

The first paragraph states what the science is clear about, the second defines its limitations and areas where further research is needed. You are straining to find a way to parse this passage so as to convince yourself that he is merely quoting the IPCC conclusions and not agreeing with them. I see no basis for this in the text. But if you were seriously interested in what he is saying, rather than rationalizing what you would like to believe, you would also be looking at his other writings readily available on the web. For example, from his testimony to the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology:

"While there are uncertainties (although these cut both ways) and some changes arising from global warming may be benign or even beneficial, at least in some places and in the short run, the IPCC report shows that the rate of change as projected exceeds anything seen in nature in the past 10,000 years. Moreover, the inertia of the climate system and the long life of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mean that we are already committed to a significant level of climate change. I believe that mitigation actions are certainly needed to significantly reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change."

"At the same time, the 2007 IPCC report makes clear that even aggressive mitigation would yield benefits many decades in the future, and that no amount of mitigation can avoid significant climate change. I believe it is apt to be disruptive in many ways. Hence it is also vital to plan to cope with the changes, such as enhanced droughts, heat waves and wild fires, and stronger downpours and risk of flooding. Managing water resources will be a major challenge in the future. Adapting to climate change and reducing vulnerability is essential. This means that we should adapt to climate change by planning for it and making better predictions of likely outcomes on several time horizons."

Note the use of the first person. I will be interested to see if you are able to come up with some way to parse this to be anything other than his own opinion.

This passage also clarifies the reason for his concern with making reliable and regional predictions, rather than scenario projections--he believes that the damage to the climate due to human activity is already so great that emissions controls are not enough--we need to find other ways to mitigate the damage. And to do that, we need improved models that tell us not merely what will happen to global temperature (which is what the current models do well), but what will be the consequences with respect to fires, hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

Hey z,

In the paragraph below what you quoted I gave you an outline of what it would take to convince me that we face warming in the 2.5C+ range.

"It would take evidence of temperatures that it could be proven were truly outside the bounds of natural variability and a falsifiable theory explaining those temps that withstood falsification."

Mann and his colleagues attempted to use proxy studies to demonstrate that current warming was outside the bounds of natural variability. Leaving aside discussions of the methods and validity of these studies, they still fail to show that modern temperatures are anomalous during the Holocene. As I mentioned the claim of "higher than the last four hundred years" is rather unremarkable even if correct.

Then there is the issue of a falsifiable test for the claims of 2.5C+ temps in the next hundred years from expected rates of CO2 production. No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models. As discussed by Kevin, these models are not intended to be forecasts. They have consistently been wrong and don't even agree with each other. They have in some cases been "tuned" to fit past results. This hardly represents falsifiable evidence of dangerous warming.

The best falsifiable evidence I have heard is that the stratosphere is cooling. Ok, but the last ten years show little downward trend and not by the amount one should expect if the claimed CO2 sensitivity is correct. Also water vapor and ozone play major roles in stratospheric dynamics and their effects are not clearly known.

A 2006 paper by V. Ramaswamy et.al. makes the claim that a combination of volcanic, solar and other effects can be construed to "fix" the problem. I don't find their explanation or evidence compelling. Much like efforts to "explain" the cooling trend in surface temperatures before the 1970's, this explanation appears ad hoc and a clear case of question begging.

Then there is the problem of the troposphere not warming by the amounts required by AGW theory. Some, Tamino included, will protest that this is not a feature unique to AGW theory and therefore does not falsify said theory. I find this claim a bit odd. Tamino is correct in stating that ANY warming, including "natural" warming, should provide this signal, but a lack of a pronounced warming of the troposphere goes right to the heart of the issue. "Is there really any significant warming going on at all?"

Well that should give you some idea of what type of evidence I would accept for the theory that CO2 is going to produce dangerously anomalous warming in the next century.

The evidence supporting substantial AGW is ambiguous at best and certainly not sufficient to impose a world wide regimen of carbon reducing taxes or "cap and trade" schemes that certainly would have large scale effects, probably negative, on the world's economy.

As a scientist I remain open to new evidence. Perhaps you have some? Also my level of understanding of the issues involved is certainly less than perfect and thus I am appreciative of any further clarification that might be provided.

I appreciate the generally positive tone of the comments directed towards me thus far. Little is accomplished by personal attacks and heated insults.

I watch the weather on the news and subscribe to one of the online weather services. I am not a scientist. I know these things, though. 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future.

Actually, this is false. It relies upon a fallacy, actively promoted by denialists, that it must surely be easier to do short term forecasts than it is to do long term forecasts. I can refute this trivially--as could you, if you actually thought about it, rather than parroting somebody else's deceptive argument. Watch closely...I will now, miraculously, make a reliable forecast, not merely days, but months ahead--the temperature in virtually all US locations will be warmer 8 months from now than it is today.

The methods of forecasting day-to-day weather have essentially nothing to do with the methods of projecting multi-year global climate trends, so the weather argument is a sheer straw man.

2.) In the 1970's most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age.

And this one turns out to be simply a lie, albeit one that has been actively promoted by denialists. And anybody who bothers to actually look at the scientific literature from the 1970's can easily verify that it is a lie. There were a couple of sensationalist articles in the popular press, based upon misunderstanding of a couple of papers. It simply is not true that most climatologists were expecting an impending ice age.

trrll,

Lee's arguments certainly aren't new or highly nuanced, but they do contain the kernel of many valid objections to AGW theory.

You dismiss Lee's argument about climate forecasting by asserting that you can "predict" that the temperature in the northern hemisphere will be warmer in eight months. Amusingly you accuse him of constructing a straw man to which you send out your own as an answer.

Your "forecast" is not based on computer calculations or any other artifact associated with the climate models that Lee was questioning. It is based on thousands of years of recorded observations, and your expectation that this well established and uncontroversial pattern will continue.

I believe that is quite a different matter than the highly speculative and unprecedented forecasts that Lee was questioning.

While you are correct that there was not a high level of "scientific consensus" in the 1970's about an impending "ice age" there certainly was considerable mainstream media hype. This demonstrates, if nothing else, the willingness of the popular press to promote catastrophic climate theories.

No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models.

Lance, please stop pretending there is no physical basis for nor observational estimate of climate sensitivity.

They have in some cases been "tuned" to fit past results.

This is a (deliberate?) mis characterization of what modelers do.

but a lack of a pronounced warming of the troposphere goes right to the heart of the issue. "Is there really any significant warming going on at all?"

Lance, you are assuming that the tropical tropospheric temperature data is accurate enough to prove that temperature data is not accurate.

Ok, but the last ten years

Ten years is not enough data to know if the strat. trend is out of whack with theory.

Lance,

I don't mean this in a disrespectful or insulting manner, but as a purely objective and scientific observation.

You are an idiot.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance posts:

[[Also your hand waving water vapour calculations are reason enough to doubt your knowledge of atmospheric dynamics. If the hydrological cycle were as simple as the ideas you present, the earth's climate could be accurately modeled on a laptop. Oh and the earth would long ago have experienced a run-a-way, H2O driven, greenhouse catastrophe.

More heat -> More water vapour -> More heat -> More water vapour -> (You get the idea.)]]

Lance, you claim to be a physics grad student. Do you not understand the difference between a converging series and diverging series? Your arrows above don't convey enough information to prove your point; that's why it's better to express series in math rather than in words.

So I don't know my atmosphere physics, do I? Let me see, Lance my lad, how many radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres have YOU written?

Howdy Boris,

I am not "pretending" that there is "no physical basis" for an "observational estimate of climate sensitivity". Observation based estimates are predicated on the idea that you can measure the temperature increase of some known period, then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate's sensitivity to CO2.

This is clearly a circular argument and as I said is NOT derived from first principles.

To my remark that climate modelers "tune" their models to fit past data, you respond,

"This is a (deliberate?) mis characterization of what modelers do."

Well, at least thanks for the relief of the question mark after your slanderous innuendo. Are you claiming that climate models are not tuned to better fit past data sets? This is not a controversial point as far as I know.

In response to my remarks about the last ten years of stratospheric satellite measurements you say,

"Ten years is not enough data to know if the strat. trend is out of whack with theory."

Fair enough, but the entire record is only a few decades in length so claims that "long term" trends show stratospheric cooling can be criticized on the same grounds.

The substance of your comments was appreciated, the tone was not. Please try not to imply or state that am "pretending" or being deliberately disingenuous.

Boris, I have seen you around the "blogosphere" and respect your perspective. Please grant me the presumption of acting in good faith until I have demonstrated otherwise. Note that I wasn't sarcastic in my reply nor did I accompany your quoted remarks with (sic) or other snarky asides

then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate's sensitivity to CO2.

No, that's not the way it works.

I stand by my mis-characterization remark. You insinuated that an effort to validate and improve the models was somehow a cheat or a dodge. I imagine if modelers did not attempt to validate models that you would complain that they were unvalidated. Moreover, ability to hindcast is only one of many ways that a model is validated against the real world.

"Tuning" is a climate audit theme, and they don't know what they're talking about when it comes to models.

Lee posts:

[[1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future.]]

You have climate confused with weather. Weather is chaotic and can't be predicted past a week or two, but climate is a long-term (30 years or more) regional or global average of weather, and it can be treated deterministically. If you're familiar with higher mathematics, it's the difference between an initial values problem and a boundary conditions problem. Or to make it simpler -- I don't know what the temperature will be tomorrow in Cairo, Egypt (weather). But it's a safe bet that it will be hotter than in Stockholm, Sweden (climate).

[[ 2.) In the 1970's most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age.]]

This is just wrong. First of all, "liberals," like most Americans, were not primarily interested in scientific issues in the 1970s. Second, there was never a scientific consensus on global cooling the way there is now on global warming. Here's more on the urban legend of a 1970s "global cooling scare:"

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

[[ 3.) Technology has improved trewmendously since the 70's.]]

True.

[[ 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has.]]

Measured how?

[[ I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. ]]

Taken together, those statements make no sense.

[[I'm supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future.]]

See above, under #1.

Look, folks, one of two things are true about lance:

1. He is really a drop-out from a PhD program in Physics. If so, his bullshit parroting of CA and other denialist talking points are a clear indication of his dishonesty.

2. He's lying about his educational background.

Either way, there's no point in feeding a dishonest troll like Lance.

Please try not to imply or state that am "pretending" or being deliberately disingenuous.

Why pretend that the obvious is not true, Lance?

First, I have posted here as "lee" occasionally for some time, a couple of years - I'm not the same Lee who showed up recently in this thread making denialist arguments. I'm using 'LeeS' here to make that distinction.

Lance says about observational derivations of climate sensitivity:
"based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate's sensitivity to CO2"

Lance, would you mind explaining how a calculation of climate sensitivity derived from transitions into and out of previous glaciations relies on an a priori assumption that it must all be due to ANTHROPOGENIC CO2? That clam intrigues me.

Just to make clear how uneducated Lance is on the basic physics (where you'd expect his knowledge to be the deepest)...

Lance:

then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate's sensitivity to CO2.

From RealClimate:

What we wish to emphasize by this paraphrase is the simple fact that the expectation of a causal link between increasing long-lived greenhouse gases (like CO2) and increasing temperature does not rest on some vague, unexplained correlation between 20th century temperature and 20th century greenhouse gas concentration. The anticipated increase in temperature was predicted long before it was detectable in the atmosphere, indeed long before it was known that atmospheric CO2 really was increasing; it was first predicted by Arrhenius in 1896 using extremely simple radiation balance ideas, and was reproduced using modern radiation physics by Manabe and co-workers in the 1960's. Neither of these predictions rests on general circulation models...

Lance, instead of stroking it in public here, why not run over to RealClimate and tell Ray Pierrehumbert, who works on atmospheric physics if I'm not mistaken, and tell him he's wrong?

You have a chance to prove real, live, working scientists wrong over there, you know?

Hello BPL,

I do indeed know the difference between a converging and diverging infinite series. I also teach occasionally for the math department here at the university. Sorry for the keyboard math but this comment box won't accept my pastes from my equation editor. I guess that's just a function of my time investment in "blogology".

Oh, that there were nice discrete expressions for climate sensitivity that one could use the p-test or some other straight forward mathematical construct to verify. I certainly have not seen any such representations.

"...Lance my lad, how many radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres have YOU written?

Well, that would be zero. But I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night...

Actually I have some experience in modeling systems of coupled nonlinear equations. If you have done this then you are aware that these systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions and prone to chaotic and highly unpredictable outcomes.

Boris,

Your statement in response to my criticism of observation based climate sensitivity, "No, that's not the way it works" looks a little drafty sitting there with nothing covering its naked assertion. Care to clothe it with a few facts?

I'm sorry if you object to the word "tuning" but it is a fairly good descriptor for adjusting the parameters of a faulty model until it generates results that match past data. While I agree it is not the only method of "verifying" climate models it is certainly employed.

One needn't search too far into the scientific literature to find studies critical of the methods and statements of uncertainty associated with AOGCM's.

[[Then there is the issue of a falsifiable test for the claims of 2.5C+ temps in the next hundred years from expected rates of CO2 production. No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models.]]

They are based on computer models which are in turn based on first principles, on radiation physics. I am aware of 61 such models -- I have a web page about them -- and they all predict a climate sensitivity of 2.86 K with a standard deviation of about 1.50 K; i.e., the vast majority of the estimates range from about 2 to 4 K. No, you can't plug values into an equation and get a specific answer. The problem is a little too complex to allow for that. But to think that means we have no idea of the right answer is just wrong. I don't know if the population of Chicago right now is 1 million or 3 million, but I know it's not 200,000.

dhogaza,

Your quote from RealClimate is in regard to a calculation far less than the 2.5C+ we were discussing. To generate warming on this order you must appeal to computer models.

I think you already knew that so I'm not sure why you felt the need to include it along with your usual personal attack.

I am seeing less and less reason to respond with anything but mild bemusement to your malevolent harangues.

luminous beauty says,

"Lance,

I don't mean this in a disrespectful or insulting manner, but as a purely objective and scientific observation.

You are an idiot."

Now there is a thoughtful and constructive comment. Did you stick out your tongue while you typed it?

...looks a little drafty sitting there with nothing covering its naked assertion. Care to clothe it with a few facts?

And your original claim had facts to back it up?

Your statement was nonsensical. If researchers assumed a priori that CO2 caused all of the temperature change, then why is there a range for sensitivity in each estimate? Perhaps things are not as simple as you make out. But, go ahead, show me the evidence you have.

Again, would you rather the models were not validated against past temperature change? If you think it's so easy to create a model that gets the physics right, produces a valid climate and hindcasts the observed temp record, then have at it.

Lance,

"Are you claiming that climate models are not tuned to better fit past data sets? This is not a controversial point as far as I know."

As far as I know, you are an idiot.

Climate models are not tuned to fit observations. They are physical models. They are tuned by modeling the thermodynamics of the many multiple and complex factors as are understood to effect the earth's emissivity in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for radiative equilibrium within a cellular simulation of the empirical physical features of the earth's climate system. (No a priori assumption that it is all due to CO2).

Because there are uncertainties for all these factors, a wide variety of choices for any single modeling run are available.

By comparing, not fitting, to the instrumental record, certain model runs can be inferred to be more realistic in their assumptions about the coefficients of the physical calculations involved than others.

From the ensemble of these more robust modeling runs can be inferred climate sensitivity, which is a derivative measure of emissivity, applicable to any forcing or feedback, not just CO2.

CO2, because it is a well mixed gas and it's concentration varies within well defined parameters, is relatively easy to model with a fair degree of precision. Unlike, say water vapor, which flops and fluctuates around in the lower troposphere and has the maddening tendency to change it's physical state.

By setting particular feedbacks or forcings at zero for these more robust models, they can be relatively well disaggregated from the averaged value of emissivity, and, hence, climate sensitivity for any and all forcings and feedbacks can be inferred.

Since they are not run as time series initiated by fixed initial conditions, but as collections of climatologies averaged over fixed periods of time, they are not predictive in the sense of weather forecasts. What they can do is give a reasonably reliable picture of the transient climate under different generalized conditions.

What future conditions will be is yet a matter of collective human decision making, models for which, as yet, are not particularly robust.

Because you are an idiot.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance,

My tongue is firmly in my cheek.

Because you are an idiot.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Your quote from RealClimate is in regard to a calculation far less than the 2.5C+ we were discussing. To generate warming on this order you must appeal to computer models.

Oh, you are so slimey. Yes, feedbacks must be computed to get the full rise in temps but you started here ...

...based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate's sensitivity to CO2.

The slime's surely obvious to all.

I am seeing less and less reason to respond with anything but mild bemusement to your malevolent harangues.

But, please, keep posting ... your dishonesty (not idiocy IMO, with apologies to LB) becomes more apparent with each and every post.

So, why don't you go challenge those scientists who run Real Climate, eh?

If you're right, and their wrong, you can get enough funding to finish your PhD and bankroll the rest of your career.

So, hey! Go for it!

Or is sucking CA tit easier than actually engaging the professionals in the field...

Lee's arguments certainly aren't new or highly nuanced

I would say rather that they are intentionally deceptive arguments used by dishonest people to fool the gullible. I imagine that Lee is in the latter category. How about you?

You dismiss Lee's argument about climate forecasting by asserting that you can "predict" that the temperature in the northern hemisphere will be warmer in eight months. Amusingly you accuse him of constructing a straw man to which you send out your own as an answer.
Your "forecast" is not based on computer calculations or any other artifact associated with the climate models that Lee was questioning.

I didn't say that it was. After all, the models and methods used to forecast weather a day or two in advance have nothing to do with climate modeling, either. Which is why it is stupid to argue that if it is hard to predict weather a day or two ahead, it is not possible to predict climate over a greater time frame. The seasonal prediction is a trivial counterexample exposing the fallacy. Predicting weather a day or two in advance is not like predicting seasonal changes in advance, which is not like predicting climate changes years in advance.

While you are correct that there was not a high level of "scientific consensus" in the 1970's about an impending "ice age" there certainly was considerable mainstream media hype. This demonstrates, if nothing else, the willingness of the popular press to promote catastrophic climate theories.

So your point is what? The media is often in error regarding matters of science? I'm shocked, shocked.

Or are you trying to argue that since the media were wrong then, everything they say about climate must necessarily be wrong? Surely even you can perceive the fallacy in that argument.

Why try to weasel around it? Can't you just admit honestly that the claim that there was some kind of scientific consensus of an impending ice age in the 1970's is simply untrue, and those who are promulgating this falsehood are ignorant or dishonest?

Even the supposed '70's media hype is overstated--basically, we're talking about an article or two in newsmagazines. Contrast that to the modern consensus, endorsed by such major scientific bodies as the National Academy and the AAAS.

@Trrll (#230):

Just to add to your comment:

Can't you just admit honestly that the claim that there was some kind of scientific consensus of an impending ice age in the 1970's is simply untrue, and those who are promulgating this falsehood are ignorant or dishonest?

Even the supposed '70's media hype is overstated--basically, we're talking about an article or two in newsmagazines.

it's interesting to note that one of those hyping up the big freeze was one Nigel Calder, former editor of the New Scientist; who had a starring role in the (in)famous TGGWS...

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

re: #230

1) I use Firefox, greasemonkey, killfile, seems to work OK here, even if not quite as pervasively as the old UNIX newsreaders' KILLFILEs.

2) This has saved me wasting time seeing comments from whoever you're replying to, thankfully.

3) However, I suggest that it is really, really worthwhile to get familiar with John Cross' Skeptical Science website enumerating denialist arguments, with each having a nice backup webpage.

This would save words, as you can just write:
See:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
7 ice70s

This especially useful when writing a letter-to-editor, or to a word-limited blog (as in some newspapers) in reply to a spray of misinformation. You can give one pointer, and a list of numbers, and it reinforces the point that the same silly arguments get repeated over and over.

From 20+ years on BBS ... DON'T FEED THE TROLLS. KILLFILE is best, but John's list is useful if you think replies are really needed.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

luminous beauty,

"Climate models are not tuned to fit observations. They are physical models. They are tuned by modeling the thermodynamics of the many multiple and complex factors as are understood to effect the earth's emissivity in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for radiative equilibrium within a cellular simulation of the empirical physical features of the earth's climate system. (No a priori assumption that it is all due to CO2)."

You are conflating my statements on two different topics; CO2 climate sensitivity calculated from past climate data and projected from models.

Because you are an idiot! (hehehe)

I find your faith that climate models are rigorously based on the Stefan-Boltzman equation to be quite charming in it's naiveté

Oh, and I guess writing code simulating the "empirical physical features of the earth's climate system" is no big problem if you say it quickly enough. Think about what you're talking about and then imagine the many parameters, their related equations, both linear and non-linear, that would involve and their relative influences on climate, known and unknown.

Hell they can't even model the ENSO with any degree of predictive ability, but you blithely toss the "empirical physical features of the earth's climate system" in as if it were a dash of salt.

This is the Achilles Heel of the whole AGW tautology; no wonder rounders like dhogaza shriek like banshees when anyone starts sniffing them too closely.

@John Mashey (#167):

Robin: Yes, it's easy to imagine, but I still recommend reading Hirsch, because:

a) It was written for the US DOE, it's not just some random white paper or web posting.

b) It has a lot of backup data that would support your argument.

Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you - I've downloaded a copy of the report to peruse at leisure...

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

dhogaza,

I don't for a second believe that Lance isn't lying. It's just that he's lying so badly and so stupidly that he's an idiot.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Has anyone done one like this for climate?
http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2007/12/ntsds2.gif

Closest I recall, making a different point, is this:
http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/05/the_significance_of_5_year_tre.ph…
______________________________________________
"Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves."-Richard Feynman

Economics is what we have learned about how to keep from being ripped off, I guess.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lance, this:

This is the Achilles Heel of the whole AGW tautology

is the logic of a denialist. You've shown on this thread that you have vast misconceptions about climate science and that you are unable or unwilling to correct those misconceptions. My attempt at taking you seriously has ended in failure. Good luck and have a happy holiday season.

#206:" 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future. ... 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has. I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. I'm supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future. "

#191:"Trenberth explains the differences between weather prediction and climate modeling: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/presentations/ClimForecastsTrenberth.ppt Weather prediction starts with current weather data (estimates), feeds that through models of the atmosphere to provide predictions of future observations. Small uncertainties and errors compound rapidly over time, preventing precise deterministic predictions beyond about 2 weeks. Climate prediction, however, is one step removed, predicting the behavior of the system as a function of the influences which enter into the system; but without making deterministic predictions of precise measurements, which are too highly dependent on unpredictable factors in the system. 'It is inherently probabilistic'"

"Hey z,
In the paragraph below what you quoted I gave you an outline of what it would take to convince me that we face warming in the 2.5C+ range.
"It would take evidence of temperatures that it could be proven were truly outside the bounds of natural variability and a falsifiable theory explaining those temps that withstood falsification.""

OK, thanks; but that's still a description of meta-evidence, if you will, still referring to "evidence" and "proof" and "falsification" as variables to be specified later, a posteriori; still not quite what I'm looking for, I'm afraid. I was hoping for something on the order of "a global average temperature of 50 degrees Centigrade for one year, or 40 for two years in a row, plus an immediate drop of 90% in anthropogenic CO2 production which is followed within ten years by a leveling off and decline in the rate of temperature increase". We've had falsifiable predictions at various levels, from the simple "pass longwave IR through gas containing CO2 and the transmitted radiation is reduced as a monotonic function of the CO2 concentration", to the aforementioned Hansen's 1988 predictions of global average temp in the ensuing 20 years, to the climate models being loaded with initial values corresponding to 1900 and iterating their way to an accurate representation of current climate, in some detail, and continuing to predict what the IPCC says they do; clearly those predictions have all not been falsified, yet the request is still for "falsifiable predictions". Like, what's up with that?

I don't for a second believe that Lance isn't lying. It's just that he's lying so badly and so stupidly that he's an idiot.

Good point.

Lance, once again, why don't you go over to Real Climate and educate the climate scientist professionals who run the place as to the error of their ways.

In particular, I think it would be entertaining to see you try to sell the "AGW tautology" concept ...

"I'm supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future."

I can't predict whether the Dow will go up or down tomorrow. I am reasonably confident though in predicting that the Dow will go up over the next twenty years.

Similarly, while I can't predict what the maximum temperature will be tomorrow I'm fairly confident in predicting (being in the southern hemisphere)that the maximum temperature for June 21st 2008 will be lower than tomorrow's maximum.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Gouldmeister says.
I can't predict whether the Dow will go up or down tomorrow. I am reasonably confident though in predicting that the Dow will go up over the next twenty years.

Nonsense. In mominal terms you can but certainly not in real terms.

Moreover looking at things in a Dow Jones context would be like looking at regional temperatures. The proper analogy would be to look at global stock markets. If you did that in an historical context you would be back peddling from your statement at 100 miles an hour.

You need to compare like with like, Gouldie. You know that by now, ot at least i hope you do.

JC, Ian Gould was partially correct, at least in his analogy. What Ian was comparing was stochastic processes versus deterministic processes. Weather is stochastic; climate is much more deterministic. I see your argument but its all a matter of scale. Ian should have scaled up even higher in his analogy, but the general point he was making was correct.

The pundits (I like Dhogaza's description of them as being in the 'penaut gallery') who try to downplay the relevance of climate models by citing the old discredited weather versus climate chestnut just don't understand the importance of scale. I am a community ecologist and I can tell you that the properties of a biome are much more predictable than the properties of an ecosystem and the properties of an ecosystem are much more predictable than the properties of a linear multitrophic chain and so on. Similarly, it is much easier to predict the properties of a gas than of the individual molecules that make up the gas.

That humans can affect largely deterministic biogeochemical cycles operating over huge spatial and temporal scales is indeed worrying, or should be. Since it takes a lot of forcing to change, at least quite dramatically, largely deterministic processes, then the fact that a range of human activities are doing so may mean that that we also have the capacity to drive complex systems into alternative, much less stable states.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 19 Dec 2007 #permalink

Lee @ 11:19: "I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming."

Um...

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 19 Dec 2007 #permalink

Similarly, it is much easier to predict the properties of a gas than of the individual molecules that make up the gas.

Or of a tunneling diode vs. the individual electrons involved.

We could play this game all day long, but I doubt the peanut gallery will understand.

Not even our resident physics dropout.

Thanks Jeff, very good post.

I have a view that is a little different. Whatever we feel about things in terms of the effects we're having the overall impact is mostly about an evolutionary process. That's why I am not afraid of it.

If it means the end of our species, which I very much doubt, but say it did, then so be it as another species will take the lead.

Maybe if we're quick enough we could have a big influence on the proces by making ourselves redundant. We don't need the human body to survive all we need is a replication of the human mind.

Dessler nailed it yesterday. You have little chance of forecasting the exact temperature in your house to 1 C, but a very good one of estimating the average temperature over a ten year period.

#241 Ian
I sympathize with your general point, however, mention of the stock market as analogy has its problems.

As far as I know, physics does not apply to the stock market, although some physicists have certainly ended up working on Wall Street.

In particular, in the light of Peak Oil&Gas, I would be fairly hesitant to make predictions about the Dow in 20 years, especially because some of those companies get helped, some get hurt, but in general, the market hates uncertainty. Of course, inflation alone may raise the actual number, but in real terms, who knows?

Whereas, an assertion like:
the 5-year average global temperature, as of 2027, will be higher than that of 2007,
seems a a good bet, and probably even survives a Pinataubo, although not a major asteroid strike or nuclear war. I've tried to get people who claim it will get colder to bet, say on longbets.org, but no luck so far.

But the climate belief is based on physics. I'd love to have the equivalent for the stock market!

By John Mashey (not verified) on 19 Dec 2007 #permalink

Here's another version of the same thing: former BBC science correspondent David Whitehouse, in the New Statesman:

The period 1980-98 was one of rapid warming - a temperature increase of about 0.5 degrees C (CO2 rose from 340ppm to 370ppm). But since then the global temperature has been flat (whilst the CO2 has relentlessly risen from 370ppm to 380ppm). This means that the global temperature today is about 0.3 deg less than it would have been had the rapid increase continued.
For the past decade the world has not warmed. Global warming has stopped. It's not a viewpoint or a sceptic's inaccuracy. It's an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased.

Slightly more sophisticated than Carter, perhaps, but just as wrong....

Robin:

>No; I'm a lawyer and I mean that what Trenberth said is more nuanced than you appear to have understood.

As a lawyer you make a habit of superfluous use of Latin?

The distinction without a difference you, and apparently Trenberth, are drawing between projections and predictions is not useful. The words are synonyms. In any other case, one would rightly and commonly refer to his projections as a prediction, which in science are generally understood to be made with a ceteris paribus assumption.

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

>However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.
So; at the beginning of the piece he says that the IPCC doesn't do predictions but projections. That is the contrast he is making in the quote you have seized on; he is emphatically not saying that GCs cannot tell us anything about what will happen in the future, which is the interpretation you are trying to put on that sentence by quoting it out of context.

I perhaps naively thought he actually meant what he wrote when he said IPCC makes no predictions at all. I now think, under your interpretation, his use of 'prediction' is confused. Projections are predictions.

Projection n.
"A prediction or an estimate of something in the future, based on present data or trends."

Projections are statements about future events under a given set of circumstances. The ceteris paribus assumption is assumed of almost all scientific prediction. Commonly when a prediction fails because of some confounding issue, one would not claim that, on the contrary, no prediction had ever taken place, it was only a 'projection'. One would say the prediction failed because of X, *simpliciter*.

>He goes on to say that projections are useful in that they can point where the global climate generally will go with given emissions scenarios.

This is all any scientific prediction would ever do. I don't think omniscience is ever predicated of a prediction that follows scientific method. You are offering a paradigm example of a distinction without a difference. An indication of which antecedents entail what consequents under given conditions is what a 'prediction' does, whether or not you choose to call it a 'projection'.

>Your position appears to correspond to Bob Carter's in the Courier-Mail on June 29 this year; Carter said, quoting the same Trenberth post as you:

Perhaps Bob Carter understands 'prediction' not to entail omniscience, as you and Trenberth appear to. Still, I'd prefer not to debate what Bob Carter has to say.

On the typical scientific use of the term, a claim like IPCC makes no predictions, ever, means they don't make forward looking statements about what will happen at some time later than now.

Predict v.

"To state, tell about, or make known in advance, especially on the basis of special knowledge."

"Predictions of the future are never anything but projections of present automatic processes and procedures, that is, of occurrences that are likely to come to pass if men do not act and if nothing unexpected happens; every action, for better or worse, and every accident necessarily destroys the whole pattern in whose frame the prediction moves and where it finds its evidence." - Hannah Arendt

Hence the utility and frequency of the ceteris paribus assumption in prediction.

>"Bob Carter, a climate change doubter in Australia, has written a distortion of all this in the Courier Mail, issuing various attack against the science of climate change. Andrew Ash has written a rebuttal of these comments."

>So he endorses what Ash said in response - and what did Ash say:

I see no endorsement of what Ash wrote in Trenberth's text nor does he offer any in the actual essay. There is a relevant difference between endorsement and the simple declaration of a fact, the latter being the only thing Trenberth chose to offer in support of Ash's rebuttal.

http://tinyurl.com/ywe78f

"The authors should recognize that IPCC does not make forecasts but rather makes projections to guide policy and decision makers. If those changes are considered undesirable, it can create efforts to change that outcome. Such mitigation is already happening in the U.S. Congress, in many states, and internationally under the Kyoto Protocol. Hence the projection will not be correct as actions are being taken to make it so. As such it is not a forecast of what will actually happen."

This is both idiosyncratic use and begs the question of the accuracy of the 'projection' at all. If I accurately forecast it will rain tomorrow under the current conditions and you somehow stop it from raining, one would not typically say I didn't perform a forecast because you made me wrong. One would say my forecast was wrong because you changed the weather. His usage is idiosyncratic. I can only guess why he is trying to shield the IPCC from ever having made a forecast. I have been curious about that since the first time I read his essay.

We also have an attempt to deny the possible inaccuracy of climate models by saying action made taking them into account necessarily prevents them from being accurate or even being forecasts. So how does one know if they are accurate from the outset? This seems to be a method to insulate the "projection" [the euphemism of choice for a fallible prediction] from any critique as to its accuracy.

>The assertion that CSIRO's "climate models are worthless predictive tools" draws on a quote (out of context) by US climate scientist Kevin Trenberth - but he does not question the reality of anthropogenic global warming, or the threat of future warming as predicted by global and regional climate models.

The threat of warming as *predicted* by global and regional CMs?! Not prediction, surely! Models don't predict, for God's sake, they *project*!

The attempt to distinguish prediction from projection is ill-founded; Ash doesn't maintain it here and Trenberth's usage is not even consistent in his own presentation below. The words are synonymous.

http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/presentations/ClimForecastsTrenberth.ppt#12

E.g., here where Trenberth writes that human influences [emissions] are now the main *predictable* climate forcing.

>All Trenberth argues is that the climate models cannot predict exactly how some aspects of regional climate will evolve in the years ahead.

Except that isn't what he has written, as he clearly distinguishes between reliable and regional prediction and says we can do neither and says IPCC has never offered any predictions at all. Ash is inconsistent with Trenberth, which is not odd seeing that Trenberth is inconsistent with 1) Trenberth and 2) with the literal meaning of the words he's chosen to use.

>So your reliance upon Trenberth in support of your position is misguided; he endorses the interpretation of his post that I gave in my first post on the topic - see the emphasised portion of the quote above. And guess what? I'd only read the Climate Feedback page I refer to above when I came to that conclusion.

Before you sprain your arm patting yourself on the back in victory, at least don't confuse the posters to whom you are replying.

I never thought Trenberth's position supports some pet hypothesis I hold. I am not a climate modeller and have simply deferred to his opinion. It turns out his opinion is more conflicted than I believed. That's what I get for epistemic charity.

Your second citation does provide clarification on the meaning of his statement and I think you've satisfied me with that second piece of his that his claim wasn't what I thought.

I am now back to my original supposition that his essay is designed to insulate the IPCC GCMs from being condemned if they turn out to be inaccurate. I can see no other reason for the distinction without a difference he is trying to carve out for IPCC forecasts. Speaking of remediation, you should consult a thesaurus and see what connection the words projection, prediction and forecast have. I'd also suggest consulting a logic primer and seeing what the entailment of a sentence containing a tautology happens to be.

Trrll:

>It is clear to me that what you perceive as "apparent tensions in the text" are actually the tension between what he is actually saying and what you would like to attribute to him.

That's actually the opposite of my motivation, but you've already demonstrated that you are more interested in speculating about my intent than rational debate. Now if I were inclined to speculate about authorial intent, that fact might make me curious.

>Because of course there is no need to "speculate" about his intent. It is simple enough--if you are really seeking an answer rather than confirmation of your own biases--to answer this question by consulting his other writings.

I didn't know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do. Having consulted them, I now believe that he is trying unsuccessfully to imply some relevant difference between 'projection' and its synonyms 'prediction' and 'forecasting'.

>>That "or" means we do not have reliable predictions of climate AND we don't have regional predictions of climate. If his point was what you asserted, that we can't predict how humans will behave, that sentence would be pointless. He could have said emissions predictions can't be done due to volition, he just didn't.
>This is also denialist thinking. Rather than consulting his other writings for clarification, you are building a rationalization on the parsing of a single word.

I have yet to find him clarifying why he distinguished between reliable and regional prediction. If you know of it, cite it.

>>It certainly seems to present a tension with the first few sentences he wrote, as you interpret it. Your thought seems to flatly contradict this claim he makes: "However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate."

>Here, you are essentially arguing that since we don't know everything, we don't know anything. This is a very popular argument among denialists, whether it be of evolution, AIDS, or global warming.

Here you are essentially inserting a straw man. My point was that he distinguished between regional analysis, your point of contention, and reliable analysis, which seems to imply more than you granted.

>But in science, lack of perfect knowledge does not mean complete ignorance. For example, any theoretical physicist will tell you that the science is "not done" on gravity. We still don't understand in detail how gravity works, and we cannot predict its effects at very short distance scales. Yet we still know enough to forecast that the consequences of falling from a high place will be very harmful.

Are you sure we aren't merely projecting that? After all, maybe an updraft will catch me. Maybe I will just survive unharmed for no reason anyone understands. Surely, we cannot deign to call such a chancy proposition a forecast! What if knowing that falling might hurt me causes me to wear a parachute. By Trenberth's logic, the very fact I might choose to do so is sufficient reason not to call your projection above a 'forecast'.

>The first paragraph states what the science is clear about, the second defines its limitations and areas where further research is needed. You are straining to find a way to parse this passage so as to convince yourself that he is merely quoting the IPCC conclusions and not agreeing with them. I see no basis for this in the text.

How about that he is already trying to cleave an irrelevant distinction between 'projection' and 'prediction' for some unstated purpose?

>But if you were seriously interested in what he is saying,

Last time I'll bother to write this, just stop speculating about my motives. It is pointless and annoying.

>"While there are uncertainties (although these cut both ways) and some changes arising from global warming may be benign or even beneficial, at least in some places and in the short run, the IPCC report shows that the rate of change as projected exceeds anything seen in nature in the past 10,000 years.

The report shows the change as projected ... sure that's not conditional at all. He not only refuses to offer his own judgement here, he doesn't even express confidence that the rate of change corresponds to the case. Gee, sorry that I actually understand the words he's chosen to use rather than assuming what he must intend.

>Moreover, the inertia of the climate system and the long life of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mean that we are already committed to a significant level of climate change. I believe that mitigation actions are certainly needed to significantly reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change."

At least this actually shows his own judgement despite the whole paragraph basically waffling on the issue of whether or not the change implicit in current CO2 emissions will even be net beneficial and the belief he is citing not being relevant to the issue of modelling accuracy.

>"At the same time, the 2007 IPCC report makes clear that even aggressive mitigation would yield benefits many decades in the future, and that no amount of mitigation can avoid significant climate change. I believe it is apt to be disruptive in many ways. Hence it is also vital to plan to cope with the changes, such as enhanced droughts, heat waves and wild fires, and stronger downpours and risk of flooding.

Here he states when his judgement is in agreement with the IPCC report. I also enjoy how every possible negative outcome is to be blamed on AGW, while the positive results which got lipservice before go out the window. Change has become synonymous with negative outcomes. It will cause drought and rain, fire and flood, heat waves and cold snaps. How about longer growing seasons? Maybe Siberia won't be a frozen hell any more.

>Managing water resources will be a major challenge in the future. Adapting to climate change and reducing vulnerability is essential. This means that we should adapt to climate change by planning for it and making better predictions of likely outcomes on several time horizons."

Better *what did he say*? Surely not! We already know the IPCC doesn't make predictions.

>Note the use of the first person. I will be interested to see if you are able to come up with some way to parse this to be anything other than his own opinion.

The part that was his opinion was obvious. He signposted it. That is even more evidence that the parts where he doesn't signpost are either not his opinion or not opinions he wants attributed to him. You're not making a good case here for ignoring the words he's written in favor of what you want him to intend.

>This passage also clarifies the reason for his concern with making reliable and regional predictions, rather than scenario projections--he believes that the damage to the climate due to human activity is already so great that emissions controls are not enough--we need to find other ways to mitigate the damage. And to do that, we need improved models that tell us not merely what will happen to global temperature (which is what the current models do well), but what will be the consequences with respect to fires, hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

If the current models predict temp. well, why does he deny all IPCC prediction, while mentioning a need for reliable prediction above? Or is temperature unique in not being able to be predicted while hurricanes, droughts and floods can be? Because he clearly said we don't have reliable prediction now, and clearly distinguished that from regional prediction, the point you raised.

Look, if there is really some way that this is all coherent please take a shot at making a concise statement of how, but try and do so without insulting my motives for wanting to know and for refusing to accept irrelevant and illogical arguments such as you've offered to date.

His usage is idiosyncratic.

Or he's using the terms in a way that fellow professionals understand. It's useless trying to pin scientists down to common english usage, so you should simply drop it.

It's as disingenuous as creationists saying "evolution is just a theory", in the expectation that the reader will use the common everyday meaning of "theory" rather than the far stronger definition of "theory" used in science.

I can only guess why he is trying to shield the IPCC from ever having made a forecast.

We can't make forecasts without knowing what CO2 emissions will be. The IPCC doesn't need a shield.

I am not a climate modeller and have simply deferred to his opinion. It turns out his opinion is more conflicted than I believed.

You still don't understand his point. Here's a quick example of why your are so wrong:

The IPCC does not attempt to predict volcanoes.
If we have two major volcanoes in the next five years, the models will look very, very wrong.
Then, people like Kevin will say "look how wrong the models were!" even though we would know nothing more about the estimates of climate sensitivity. (Actually we probably would know more, because models can predict volcanic response a la Pinatubo). But then again, people like Kevin don't want to talk about science. They want to run to their Roget's.

Good luck with that.

And Kevin, here's what dictionary.com says about predict vs. project:

project:

to set forth or calculate (some future thing)

predict:

to declare or tell in advance; to foretell the future

Gosh, yeah, no difference. I suppose "scenario" is a synonym for "predict" as well. Well, I scenario you will say so anyway.

Gosh, yeah, no difference. I suppose "scenario" is a synonym for "predict" as well. Well, I scenario you will say so anyway.

Alas, poor Google! I knew no wisdom button.

My graduate education included a year of urban ecology, where we often performed scenario analysis, which uses projections for outcomes and management goals.

Boris, you don't know what you are talking about.

Projections have conditional dependencies that make the future outcomes less certain - as viewed from current time - and measurable than predictions. Projections are typically drawn either on x,y axes or on a Cartesian plane with 4 possible futures. The advantage of scenarios is the ability to manage either to the metric or the desired outcome, across a range of time scales. Predictions require one to wait until a date certain, then act.

I have stated many times that the IPCC, if it is going to depend upon scenarios, should do a better job at educating folk about what scenarios do. Boris' ignorant statements reinforce this issue.

Best,

D

Actually, Dano, I'm making fun of Kevin's points. I think there's a substantial difference between the defs in my #254. Kevin, however, is stuck on the idea that predictions and projections are the very same thing and that, therefore, GCMs are worthless.

I didn't know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do.

I didn't either, initially. But when a question arose, my automatic reaction was to seek more information, by taking 2 minutes to do a google search. Yours, apparently, was to parse his statements down to the level of the individual conjunction, seizing on those parts that seemed to support your thesis, while dismissing things you don't understand as "tautology" or "a distinction without a difference." This seems to me to epitomize the difference between the scientific approach--trying to seek more information--and the denialist approach--picking out the little bits that support your own biases, and looking for excuses to dismiss or ignore the rest.

Having consulted them, I now believe that he is trying unsuccessfully to imply some relevant difference between 'projection' and its synonyms 'prediction' and 'forecasting'.

I thought that he made the distinction quite clear. I imagine that your problem was that you were trying to impose your own biases rather than reading what he said. In science, it is not unusual for familiar words to be used as terms of art with meanings more specific than their colloquial meanings, or that rely on subtleties of connotation that may not be explained in a dictionary, so words that are nearly synonymous in common usage often have very different meanings in a scientific context. It was quite obvious from my reading of the passage that he is using "projection" to refer to an outcome theoretically extrapolated from a particular set of assumptions or parameters (which may or may not apply in the real world), while he is using "prediction" to refer to the most likely outcome in the real world. This strikes me as a highly meaningful distinction. For example, as he points out, one can make a projection of global climate based upon a hypothetical emissions scenario, but to make a prediction you have to come up with some idea of what the emissions will actually be.

The report shows the change as projected ... sure that's not conditional at all. He not only refuses to offer his own judgement here, he doesn't even express confidence that the rate of change corresponds to the case. Gee, sorry that I actually understand the words he's chosen to use rather than assuming what he must intend.

Once again, you are struggling to read into his comments some sort of skepticism regarding the major conclusions of the IPCC, which is not there at all. The point of his article is not to offer his own judgement about what virtually everybody, including him, regards as settled science--that dangerously rapid climate change is resulting from human activity and that emissions controls and other actions are urgently required to mitigate this--but rather to offer his perspective as to the areas where more detailed understanding is needed.

Look, if there is really some way that this is all coherent please take a shot at making a concise statement of how, but try and do so without insulting my motives for wanting to know and for refusing to accept irrelevant and illogical arguments such as you've offered to date.

I think the confusion is entirely in your own mind, because you are having difficulty seeing past your own biases to what he is actually saying. But since you asked for a summary...

1. He agrees with the IPCC that human activity is causing rapid global warming.
2. He agrees that mitigation in the form of emissions reduction is urgently needed.
3. He believes that even with such measures, we will experience unprecedented rapid climate change, which is likely to result in regionally catastrophic outcomes, such as fires, floods, droughts, and storms.
4. To mitigate these consequences, we need to be able to predict them.
5. While current models work well for projecting global climate change, they are very limited for making the kinds of predictions that he feels will be needed, in that make only very limited predictions regarding regional weather, and to the extent that they do make such predictions, they are not highly reliable.
6. More research is needed to be able to reliably make such predictions.

"Moreover looking at things in a Dow Jones context would be like looking at regional temperatures."

D'oh!!! (Banging forehead on desk, weeping)

"I didn't know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do. "

Well, thank you for sharing your ignorance and intellectual apathy/laziness with those of us who lack them.

If it comes down to a choice between ending the human race and ending the existence of the bloodsucking parasitic capitalist sociopaths like Jc, I certainly know where I stand - so be it, indeed!

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 22 Dec 2007 #permalink

Boris:

>The IPCC does not attempt to predict volcanoes. If we have two major volcanoes in the next five years, the models will look very, very wrong.

No they won't. Because if you can plug in the emissions from the volcanoes and find the model result corresponds to the actual result, you will have confirmed the accuracy of your 'projection'. I don't get this. Who in the world has ever claimed that random happenstance changes which lie outside the ceteris paribus assumptions of a given prediction make that prediction meaningless? Yes, they can make the prediction wrong, but so what? It's still a prediction whether it happens or not. You're trying to avoid some imagined rhetorical victory for your "opponents" and making a hash of a very simple issue. If I project temp. increase A for given conditions X,Y,Z, and it happens just that way, how does this differ from any other successful 'prediction' in science? Are any predictions in scientific study today made without specifying conditions under which the observations takes place?

>Then, people like Kevin will say "look how wrong the models were!" even though we would know nothing more about the estimates of climate sensitivity.

1) Neither Ash, nor Trenberth, stick with what you are asserting is a "term of art" consistently, both mentioning 'predictions' of warming in a manner consistent with their use of 'projections'. Please state specifically how a projection with some defined amount of CO2 emissions differs from a prediction made under ceteris paribus assumptions.

2) My objection to the models is not that CO2 output is variable. My objection is that testing their accuracy on the scale of the decades or centuries for which they are forecasting results is not supported by empirical verification that are accurate at all.

Trenberth states that we don't have quite a bit of relevant knowledge of physical processes on Earth, which I thought what how the models operated, by taking a bunch of assumptions about physical climate processes plugging in some values for the variables and then forecasting the results from that.

3) As far as prognostication goes, how will peak oil affect emissions? Do IPCC models account for technological advance resulting in decreased GHGs? Mitigation efforts already occurring in the status quo?

Trrll:

>While current models work well for projecting global climate change

What does this mean? They work well for what purpose? They are forecasting climate change scenarios that will occur decades and centuries in the future.

>Well, thank you for sharing your ignorance and intellectual apathy/laziness with those of us who lack them.

Thanks for implying that attempting to analyze a work as it stands without consulting the whole of an author's body of work is nothing you'd ever do. That alone lets me know how much to value your statements.

Neither Ash, nor Trenberth, stick with what you are asserting is a "term of art" consistently, both mentioning 'predictions' of warming in a manner consistent with their use of 'projections'. Please state specifically how a projection with some defined amount of CO2 emissions differs from a prediction made under ceteris paribus assumptions.

A projection is an extrapolation based upon a set of assumptions which may or may not be accurate or correspond to present conditions. A prediction is an extrapolation, taking into account current conditions and anticipated future conditions as accurately as possible, preferably with some sort of indication of statistical reliability. So all predictions are projections but not all projections are predictions.

My objection to the models is not that CO2 output is variable. My objection is that testing their accuracy on the scale of the decades or centuries for which they are forecasting results is not supported by empirical verification that are accurate at all.

That may be your objection, but it is not Trenberth's. Much of your confusion regarding what Trenberth wrote is clearly because you are struggling to put your objections into Trenberth's mouth, and they don't fit. Trenberth has made it quite clear that he regards the empirical verification as convincing with respect to the ability to predict the effect of CO2 upon global climate trends, but believes that more research is needed to provide accurate predictions of the impact, particularly at the regional level, of the consequences of global warming with respect to fires, floods, droughts, storms.

Trenberth states that we don't have quite a bit of relevant knowledge of physical processes on Earth, which I thought what how the models operated, by taking a bunch of assumptions about physical climate processes plugging in some values for the variables and then forecasting the results from that.

This is yet another version of the "we don't know everything so we don't know anything" argument. Trenberth's point is that we know enough to predict global climate trends, but not enough to predict local consequences.

As far as prognostication goes, how will peak oil affect emissions? Do IPCC models account for technological advance resulting in decreased GHGs? Mitigation efforts already occurring in the status quo?

Why don't you actually read the IPCC report and find out?