# The Australian's War on Science XXI

The latest salvo from the Australian in their war on science is a column from Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg tells us:

Have you noticed how environmental campaigners almost inevitably say that not only is global warming happening and bad, but also that what we are seeing is even worse than expected?

This is odd, because any reasonable understanding of how science proceeds would expect that, as we refine our knowledge, we find that things are sometimes worse and sometimes better than we expected, and that the most likely distribution would be about 50-50. Environmental campaigners, however, almost invariably see it as 100-0.

Have you noticed that Lomborg wrote a book where he said that while there had been been some environmental problems in the past, we had solved them all and nothing further needed to be done. Odd, because you would expect that we would sometimes do better and sometimes do worse than what was needed and the most likely distribution would be about 50-50. Lomborg, however, saw it as 100-0.

Of course, the trick Lomborg used in his book was cherry-picking and he's at it again in this column:

An average of all 38 available standard runs from the IPCC shows that models expect a temperature increase in this decade of about 0.2C.

But this is not at all what we have seen. And this is true for all surface temperature measures and even more so for both satellite measures. Temperatures in this decade have not been worse than expected; in fact, they have not even been increasing. They have actually decreased by between 0.01C and 0.1C a year.

But look at the RSS satellite temperatures below. This decade the temperatures have been more often above than below the trend line (of 0.168K per decade).

Tamino has calculated some trends and found that whether you take this decade to be the 2000s or to be the last ten years, satellite (and surface) trends are positive. To get Lomborg's cooling trend, you have to:

1. Start at the beginning of 1998, more than 10 years ago, but call it "this decade."
2. Compute the probable error using a white-noise assumption, which is known without doubt to be wrong.
3. Compute a confidence interval using only +/- one sigma, when we know that a normal random variable has about a 32% chance to fall outside the +/- 1 sigma range.

One of these might be considered an honest mistake. If you're woefully ignorant of statistics, you may not know that the noise in global temperature isn't white.

But the others are outright dishonest. Computing a confidence interval using only 1 sigma is bound to be wrong nearly one third of the time. And starting with the beginning of 1998, referring to "this decade" as starting more than 10 years ago, is cherry-picking taken to the extreme.

The rest of Lomborg's column is more of the same. For example:

Likewise, and arguably much more significantly, the heat content of the world's oceans has been dropping for the past four years where we have measurements.

Actually there were errors in the instruments and the heat content has, in fact, been increasing

And:

We are constantly inundated with stories of how sea levels will rise, and how one study after another finds that it will be much worse than what the IPCC predicts. But most models find results within the IPCC range of a sea-level increase of 18cm to 59cm this century. This is, of course, why the thousands of IPCC scientists projected that range. Yet studies claiming 1m or more obviously make for better headlines.

But the IPCC range does not include increases from accelerating ice flows. And the studies claiming 1m or more are considering such effects. Lomborg has been repeating this misrepresentation for quite some time now.

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Thanks for the link re: OHC. Wondered how I missed that when looking through RC.

By Former Skeptic (not verified) on 15 Oct 2008 #permalink

Someone needs to graph the links on memeorandum** to see how quickly this will get picked up. The next denialist-friendly story, same thing. WE should graph them over time to see if the need for denialist claptrap increases over the trendline.

IOW: folks need this sort of deception. Not all folks, but a ~10-20% subset. Maybe more in Oz and US.

Best,

D

** Be sure to use the new Greasemonkey script to track linkage...

I noticed a problem with your post. The text says 0.178 K/decade, but inside the figure the trend is described as 0.168 K/decade.

> The Australian's War on Science XXI

Hmm, how big does the Roman numeral have to go before the climate inactivists will finally decide that they're not being suppressed?

At least he gets one thing right.

"not only is global warming happening and bad, but also that what we are seeing is even worse than expected"

We can all cherry pick like he does. :)

I don't think the "this decade" thing is that significant - it is still 2008, after all. Picking an El Nino year is the key issue here.

By James Haughton (not verified) on 15 Oct 2008 #permalink

Fair point for 1998. So you drop out 1998, but you also have to drop out 1999 as it appears to be a overshoot in the recovery from 1999. Then what do you see 2000 to now? I see flat.

Now we have seen flat periods before, but it is claimed they had volcanoes giving a cold blast.

By sean egan (not verified) on 15 Oct 2008 #permalink

This is odd, because any reasonable understanding of how science proceeds would expect that, as we refine our knowledge, we find that things are sometimes worse and sometimes better than we expected, and that the most likely distribution would be about 50-50.

Why?

Where the hell did he pull this rubbish from?

Come on Jade surely you're aware of the 50% of studies that said smoking didn't cause cancer?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

According to my approach significant cooling started around 08/2001.

I used monthly data from GISS, CRU, UAH and RSS from the period of time they had in common. I then adjusted for temperature offsets using the mean of the common period for every set. Starting with the present (it was 12/2007 then) and going back in time (t.i. including more and more months) I calculated wether the resulting trend was statistically significant according to the (sigh..) p<5% rule.

The first significant negative trend from past to present appeared to start in 08/2001. The 1998 El Nino event could not qualify for a start because the four temp readings were too different then and thus significance was spoiled.

I remember using this method to look for periods of cooling of similar length of time, using the GISS and CRU monthly data over their common period. Unfortunately I don't remember what the exact outcome was but significant cooling of similar length took place around 10%...15% (?) of the record available. So it's not a very extraordinary thing to happen - that's what I remember for sure.

By Wolfgang Flamme (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

Regarding outcomes being better or worse than expected/predicted ... I don't think it's entirely rubbish to think (hope for!) a 50/50 distribution. It insinuates an important assumption: that scientists' models are unbiased in general. That's a big "if", and something probably worth testing. I can think of lots of ways in which a bias could be introduced, but I would hope for accuracy (a 50/50 split).

cce
Looks like the glass is half full and half empty.
If we could agree temp went up over the last 150 years and last 30 years, but we could be really sure the rise had stablised would you we still want/need to limit CO2 aerosols etc to reverse the rise?

In short, is the current temp a major problem, or is the projected rise the only problem? If the problem is in the future, what warming would you accept did not warrant drastic action?

Note, I am not asking you to agree that temp actually is stable. But clearly some folks have the impression that the medicine is worse then the illness.

By sean egan (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

It's half empty and getting emptier. The current temperatures are a problem to many people and a "benefit" to others. Future temps will be bad for virtually everyone, including the warming that we have already committed to. Given that this problem is caused by dirty and finite fossil fuels plus unsustainable agricultural practices, there is little evidence that the "medicine is worse than the illness."

Sean Egan (15) seems to be asking, What is the optimum temperature of the Earth? Or at least, that's a useful interpretation for me because I don't have to figure out what "drastic" means. Folks might protest that the optimum temperature of the Earth is different for different people/critters. But that's no reason to reject the question out of hand -- it just means that we'd have to get into a discussion of rights theory and utilitarianism and other ethical philosophy. Who's ready?
Since I'm no expert on that stuff, I'll just point out that the current temperatures are troubling for me (a salmon fisheries biologist in British Columbia) and for forestry folks around me. So it seems the optimum average temperature (regionally at least) is a bit colder than now. Perhaps a temperature regime more like the one our ecology and economy seem to have adapted to would be best.

What Lomborg actually said:

"Mankind's lot has actually improved in terms of practically every measurable indicator. But note carefully what I am saying here: that by far the majority of indicators show that mankind's lot has vastly improved. This does not, however, mean that everything is good enough. The first statement refers to what the world looks like whereas the second refers to what it ought to look like."

Really doesn't sound to me like he is broadly dismissing environmental problems.

Let us know when you are published.

Best,

D

Steve L
There are major, major environmental problems, but there are very few where the predominate pressure is temp.
The only examples I can think of where temp is claimed to be THE major cause are coral whitening and polar bears. Polar bears are hunted, so there is some scope for direct measures to help them.

If you target CO2 as the THE major issue, other issues slide. Who could have imagined a few years ago, environment being used as an arguement FOR nuclear power?

For the Salmon, Wild salmon is in a bad way, but if you look at Wikipedia today,
the possible causes listed are infection - particularly from farmed fish, overfishing,lose of habitat, pollution. Water temp is not cited as a major issue.
Folks want and buy farmed salmon as wild salmon is out of thier price range. I have no opinion at this time as to if this can be an environmently friendly industry.
However, it is probably better to adjust the fish farming to suit the environment rather than the environment to the fish farming.

By sean egan (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

"The only examples I can think of".

Therein lies the rub, Sean. How many peer-reviewed journals - such as Global Change Biology, or any of the major Ecology journals (e.g. Ecology Letters, Ecology, Oecologia, Oikos, Ecological Monographs et al.) have you read? Do you even read them at all? Do you have access to them? Methinks your 'I can think of' is based on surfing the internet, or watching the 'Discovery Channel' of 'National Geographic'. That is about it. Am I correct?

The fact is that rising global temperatures, and particulalry regional variations, are affecting all kinds of phenological processes amongst tightly interacting species over several trophic levels. Given the physical limitations on what we are able to study in complex adaptive systems, there are many worrying trends. For instance, we know that predator-prey interactions amongst tropical migrant passerines and their main caterpillar prey species are being seriously disrupted because the life-cycles of both are becoming desynchronized by rapid warming in western Europe. The birds arrive on their breeding grounds at about the same time each year because the cues they use to initiate migration have not changed much in their equatorial wintering grounds, but as they head north, they are entering areas where temperatures are changing and changing very rapidly. This has resulted in accelerated development among their main prey (the larvae of moths such as the Winter Moth) in central and northern Europe, meaning that when the birds start to breed the caterpillars are past their peak abundance. We already know that demographic declines amongst several passerine species are probably linked directly with seasonal changes in prey abundance due to warming. This is not an isolated case; as more studies come in we are finding that these kind of phenological asynchronies are part of a disturbing trend. Recent research has also shown that the breeding cycle of caribou in Greenland is being disrupted because the foodplants used by the calves is peaking at the wrong time, agsin due to warming. As I have said before, the ultimate extinction is the extinction of species interactions; when strongly co-evolved interactions are disrupted by any exogenous factor, such as warming, then this is a prelude to the unraveling of food webs.

Moreover, research I have been involved in is also showing that food webs are being forced to reassmeble themselves because invasive species from the south are invading more northerly areas, where they have the chance to exclude more thermophobic native species. Moreover, because they are able to leave many of their natural enemies behind during the lag phase, then the invasives have an extra competitive edge over the natives which must deal with their own enemies as well as the new competitors. Once again, this all means that food webs must reassemble, with some winners and many losers. Ultimately it may mean the simplification of communities and ecosystems, making them more prone to breaking down. This will affect their ability to generate services that are vital for the material (= human) economy.

Given that our understanding of the way ecosystems assemble and function is still quite basic, to downplay the effects of climate change on nature, given all of the other human assaults, is very misguided.

Lastly, as for fisheries, Sean, I suggest that you read the latest IUCN report entitled 'The European Union and the World Ecology - Fisheries' It makes for very grim reading.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

Wolfgang Flamme writes:

According to my approach significant cooling started around 08/2001.

Then your approach is wrong. Climate is defined as mean regional or global weather over a period of thirty years or more. 8 < 30.

By Barton Paul Levenson (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

Wolfgang;
Your approach has been anticipated by Tamino, who found such short-term declines in random data with an underlying upward trend. There is a good deal of utility in finding how often and how long such short-term trends occur in the context of a contradictory, long-term trend.
Try here:
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/wiggles/#more-507

Sean Egan, while I commend you for going to the wikipedia page on salmon (this is listed under environmental pressures on that somewhat disappointing page: "Ocean and river warming which can delay spawning and accelerate transition to smolting"), I think you could have tried harder. But it's really my fault for not providing urls. Here are a couple of good ones just for the topics I mentioned:

http://tinyurl.com/6l4kp9 In Fraser sockeye management, we use forecasts of river temperature to decide how many uncaught fish will die before reaching the spawning grounds and, because we have targets for numbers of spawners, we reduce fishing to account for those losses. It costs a lot because you have to let two or more fish pass by to get just one more up the river. Years like 1998 and 2004 tell us that we're on the right track. If you're interested in fish, I guess a search on bull trout and melting glaciers would give you another window into this problem.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/soe/et07/pinebeetle.html Cruelly emphasizing the interconnectedness of things, the short term effect of these beetle outbreaks is to raise water temperatures further (you can search that yourself).

As noted by Jeff Harvey, there are a lot of other good examples. As to your suggestion that a focus on CO2 as THE issue is detrimental, I'm a fisheries biologist so I have to deal with other issues. Directional trends in CO2 is an issue over which fisheries management agencies have precious little control, so that's the issue I follow on blogs. By the way, CO2 will be an issue for my colleagues and me even if temperatures magically stabilize:
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2606.htm

"based on surfing the internet, or watching the'Discovery' YES, that is fair comment.

tropical migrant passerines
Do you have a reference suggesting warming is more important than land use changes?
For birds, deforestation and the conversion of grasslands/wetlands to cropland are the more usually cited issues.

Winter Moth - I do not understand the reference. I thought parasites were introduced by man to limit numbers?

caribou - they are still hunted right?

So we may have to let a few more wild salmon to go to manage stocks for good fishing. Can it be call it ecological problem if you are still hunting the species?

Invasive species, real problem, but the well know cases seem to caused by man directly introducing or inadvertantly transporting species.

Sorry, I did not find the report
"The European Union and the World Ecology - Fisheries" on the IUCRN.ORG. There hundreds of reports, and lots about fish.
Can we agree that for the IUCN the big issues are habitat lose, overfishing/hunting, pollution and the other risks of being near man. I not saying they have nothing to say about warming and/or CO2 acidification, just they are shouting about the other things.

Where folks have explicity looked at Global Warming as a bio-diversity problem, they appear to count on Thomas el al "Exinction risk from climate Change". http://www.fishclimate.ca/pdf/Extinction_risk_from_climate_change_Natur…
The problem is that Thomas el al is about how in their expert judgement they think species will suffer, and not how species have actually suffered.
Plus they make assumptions about past and future climate which many of us would have trouble with. Finally they do not look at non climate issues in a way where you can clearly see the weight we need to give more direct human actions like pollution, habitat, overfish/hunting etc.

There is also Pounds et al. 2006
"Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming." Amphibian populations are in trouble due to infection, just the role of temp is disputed.
Plus it has been suggested the infection was inadvertantly transported by man from Africa, so we are back to the invasion issue.

I am not claiming the warming has no impact. Plus there are dramatic environmental crashes but they appear to be due to more direct human bad behavour.

By sean egan (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

Yes, there can be ecological problems despite human hunting/fishing/farming/logging. Exploitation rates on Fraser sockeye used to be ~80%. Now we're down to ~20% and still, in some cases, that doesn't seem to be low enough. Yet, First Nations people say they don't have enough food.
Let's have a hypothetical example: say that mainland USA agricultural productivity declined 75% because of a terrible drought. Would you be arguing that it's not an ecological problem because people are using the resource?

sean egan:

Fair point for 1998. So you drop out 1998, but you also have to drop out 1999 as it appears to be a overshoot in the recovery from 1999.

1999 was nowhere near as far from long-term rend as 1998. Hardly a significant downward overshoot. In any case choosing a period just over 10 years does little more than provide an opportunity for a blatant cherry-pick of no statistical significance. Leaving out 1998 and 1999 is still statistically insignificant.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

Have you noticed how environmental campaigners almost inevitably say that not only is global warming happening and bad, but also that what we are seeing is even worse than expected?

This is odd, because any reasonable understanding of how science proceeds would expect that, as we refine our knowledge, we find that things are sometimes worse and sometimes better than we expected, and that the most likely distribution would be about 50-50. Environmental campaigners, however, almost invariably see it as 100-0.

Steve L, I think that I have to agree with Jade on the 50-50 point.

The imputation of a normal distribution is fine if we are speaking of the measurement error around a physical (or biological) parameter, especially where the parameter is constant in value. As we 'refine' our knowledge of such a parameter, we would expect the expected value to approach the true value, with 50% of measurements above and 50% below the true value, and the deviation of the spread decreasing.

However, when modelling (not measuring) a complex multiparameter system such as global climate there is no a priori knowledge of which projection is going to be the correct one, as there are many variables to be included that are not set ahead of time. Human rates of emissions are one such example. Further, in a multiparameter system it takes time to understand what parameters need to be included, and over time the collection of parameters is added to, and refined.

In these circumstances it is not unreasonable to expect that a 'true value', or collection of 'true values', might be approached from one side or another. This does not reflect bias in the scientists who are constructing the models, but simply a skew in the nature of collective understanding, and the fact that impacting parameters are changing even as they are included in the models. There is no statistical reason to expect that initial models will automatically 'project' a position close to the true values of a collection of parameters, or that initial refinements will automatically centre around true values.

In the case of global warming, most projections were in fact conservative in hindsight. I find it disingenuous that Denialists first criticised even the most conservative of the projections for their 'outrageous' magnitudes, and now say, as Lomborg seems to be saying, that 50% of all projections should be 'lower' than the values that are materialising.

It is simply confabulation on Lomborg's part to say that such projections should conform to a Gaussian distribution. It might sound scientific at first take, but it is really much less so if one thinks about it for a few moments.

On the the other hand, Steve, I completely agree with your concluding sentence in #17, that "[p]erhaps a temperature regime more like the one our ecology and economy seem to have adapted to would be best".

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean Egan.

You seem to be putting forward the idea that non-AGW threats to biodiversity are separate to, and more important than, climate change.

These issues were discussed a little while back, here (and elsewhere in that thread). To reiterate on this thread though, however severe the impacts are of habitat loss/degradation, invasive/introduced species, pollution, and over-exploitation of species, climate change has the potential to not only potentiate any and all of these, but to surpass them even if they were not the problems that they are.

We simply cannot disconnect from climate change the enormous problems that the biosphere faces.

And to address your salmon example; I worked on immunity in salmonids for 18 months, and maintained 3x 10k litre tanks in a coolroom during this time, at what was a fairly warm temperature for the fish (15C). And I can tell you that when the refrigeration units failed it took only several degrees warming in summer for all the fish to float to the surface gasping. At 18C they were almost history, and once when we hit 19C they started to die.

My brother-in-law works on a salmon farm, and in recent years in summer the current along Eastern Australia (the one that Nemo's dad rode on) warms the Tasmanian water to the extent that the fish become distressed. The company is looking to change their species and/or their practices, which is all well and good for a business, but it's a different matter for the local marine ecosystems.

Just because you yourself don't see many examples of temperature stress in the biosphere, doesn't mean that it's not beginning to occur, and that it's not a serious problem especially in the future.

As an interesting exercise, make a list of ecosystem functions (for example, in agriculture) that are temperature-sensitive. You might find that climate change is more important to humans than you seem to give it credit for, even if you are not interested in the biosphere as an abstract entity in and of itself.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

At #28 I babbled:

...we would expect the expected value to approach the true value...

Erm, that should have read "..we would expect the measured value to approach the true value...".

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean,

I am busy today but check out some of the arttiocles by Marcel Visser and colleagues on the breeding behavior and success of Pied Flycatcher's in central Europe. They aren't hard to find: some are in the journal Nature. There are a number of other recent studies which show similar trends in North America. Sean Post has worked on the Greenland Caribou herds and gave a talk in our institute about similar effects of AGW a few months ago. He also has colleagues who have shown that the intensity of NAO events that may be linked with climate change is correlated with implosions in the populations of several North American tropical migrants like the Summer Tanager and Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.

Moreover, AGW will synergize with other human-induced changes across the biosphere - it will not act independently. Finally, the IUCN report on the status of fisheries is comprehensive. Moreover, many marine biologiusts have for years warned of the implications of overfishing on the functioning of the bgreen sea ecosystems because humanas tend to fish 'down the food chain', first eliminating top-level predators. The situation is grim, there is little doubt about it.

Gotta run.

J

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 17 Oct 2008 #permalink

To Bernard J in 28, "However, when modelling (not measuring) a complex multiparameter system such as global climate there is no a priori knowledge of which projection is going to be the correct one, as there are many variables to be included that are not set ahead of time." -- I agree with this completely, which is why I come out to my conclusion. Sometimes the effects of poorly understood factors will exacerbate problems beyond what we project and sometimes those unknowns should act to ameliorate those effects. That doesn't mean that for any specific system we'll start off in the middle of the distribution. I argue that it means that if you look at the independent systems that we model, then in some cases things should appear worse than projected and in others they should appear better -- a 50/50 split in general.
Your comment about climate change projections being conservative is well taken, and I wonder if that is frequently observed in other fields. But I would hope for accuracy.

Steve L
Is anyone actually predicting crop losses this big in the USA? Good job I live in France!
Current models are said to have little skill in predicting where more or less rain will fall, just that is likely to change. That means winners as well as losers. Whatever your view on warming models and the nature of warming, changes in rainfall distribution are credible, and has occurred in the past. The real question is when there are regional climate problems, what is the best way respond to this. Warming or no Global warming, humans changing ground cover is directly implicated in regional climate change.

If you are going to have a crop failures following reduced rainfall, the USA is probably the very best place to have it. They have ability to change crops, and manage water. Think Las Vagas. The worst place to have an rainfall problem is where there is already war and or bad government. To see the potential difference government can make, Compare the 2004 floods on the two parts of Hisaniola.
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/hurricane/2004-09-23-haiti-deforest_x.h….

The warming may well be the straw that broke the camel's back in some ecosystems. However the point of the story is not that straw is dangerous to camels. If you want to save the camels, stop looking at the straw and take the other stuff off it's back.

Bernard J.
You can say "climate change has the potential to"... It is said we have already had 1C rise, and we have had lots of eco crashes. There are few example where it is claimed climate was the principle cause for the crash.

Wolfgang Flamme,
Have you posted the details of you calculation somewhere? For those looking at the tamino calculations may want also look at http://rankexploits.com/musings/ - lucia uses different assumptions and gets different conclusions.

J.
Not read your references yet, but from what I have read on other species it typically comes down to the range/migration route has been limited, so they just have no room to adjust to temp rise. There you have a choice as to were you put the blame.

By sean egan (not verified) on 18 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean, I get the feeling that you need to re-read our discussion. Here's my synopsis; correct me if I'm wrong.

It started with you asking a difficult question, and I tried to simplify and focus on an answerable component regarding optimum temperature. Then I explained, using examples, that I thought the optimum temperature is probably a little less than recent temperatures. You challenged my example because (i) you [wrongly] thought temperature wasn't important and (ii) because for some reason you think that if we harvest biological resources, then really there aren't ecological problems but only harvest management problems. I replied with a hypothetical example (note the word, "hypothetical" -- I don't know what kind of drought scenarios are predicted for the US) that was meant to challenge your idea that there aren't ecological problems if you still hunt a species.

Now you've come back saying that whatever the problems are, the anthropogenic but non-climatic factors are still more important. You are wrong. If the damage to a population's viability attributable to the recent temperature increase is greater than the damage attributable to other factors, then climate change is the most important. You're right that the question becomes, "How should we respond?" But that's irrelevant here because, as noted in my examples, people already reduce other direct impacts (and are impoverished by having to do so) to make up for the climatic impacts. The issue with respect to our discussion is, I think, whether or not there have been serious and ongoing negative consequences to the warming that has occurred. The answer is yes.

If we can agree on that, then I'm willing to try to tackle other, more complex issues, questions, and points that you may want to discuss.

"it typically comes down to the range/migration route has been limited, so they just have no room to adjust to temp rise. There you have a choice as to were you put the blame."

I don't understand. Whose fault is it that the Earth is an oblate spheroid or that islands and mountain tops are finite?

Steve L
WE both think some stressed ecosystems stressed will cope badly with extra heat or less rain. You the warming as totally unnatural and bad. I see it as possibly in a large part natural, and with winners and losers and more importantly pretty much unstoppable.

I do not believed we will actually lower CO2, but I do think we may end up with a lot expensive, dangerous and generally undesirable measures justified on the basis of C02 eg Nuclear.

By sean egan (not verified) on 19 Oct 2008 #permalink

Clarification,
unstoppable by us humans. It may stop or reverse on its own.

By sean egan (not verified) on 19 Oct 2008 #permalink

sean egan writes:

You the warming as totally unnatural and bad. I see it as possibly in a large part natural

Forgive me if this sounds rude, but nobody gives a damn how you see it. The question is what can you show with empirical evidence. If you have good reasons to believe the present global warming is natural, why don't you write them up in a paper and submit it to a peer-reviewed science journal? Your personal opinion doesn't really count.

By Barton Paul Levenson (not verified) on 19 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean, we also agree that more warming is unstoppable. The difference is that I accept the scientific consensus regarding CO2 (and I also think more CO2 is bad wrt ocean acidification) and think we could possibly reduce the amount of future warming. We differ strongly because you seem to argue that the fact that climate change will result in both winners and losers means that there's no net problem, whereas I have been arguing that there has already likely been a net negative effect and more things are bout to get piled on the negative side of the ledger as warming continues. As for nuclear, there are bound to be winners in addition to losers there, too.

sean egan:

I do not believed we will actually lower CO2,

Once we run out of fossil fuel, this will happen.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 19 Oct 2008 #permalink

Oil may be near it's peak. But as supply and demand depend on price that difficult to judge. Worldwide coal production is rising, and the known stocks are large.

By sean egan (not verified) on 20 Oct 2008 #permalink

Oil production is near its peak. Coal production also will peak, and it will decline, and eventually the biosphere will sequester the extra CO2.

The trouble is, by the time this happens it will be a biosphere that will have rather less capacity to put up with Homo 'sapiens'. Like it or not, the ecosystem services upon which humans have developed their societies are not adapted to a climate much warmer than it is now, and we cannot 'technology' our way out of the problems of a warmer climate without a lot of collateral damage.

To think otherwise is to have the same mindset as free-energy enthusiasts.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 20 Oct 2008 #permalink

Since I've (#13) been addressed here several times with respect to my investigation:

@Dano (#19)
Watch the "Annals of Common Sense and Some Scripting" ... they might accept it - if they only could find some peers.

@Barton Paul Levenson (#22)
That's probably what you wished for ... me calling 8 years 'climate'.
Anyway, 30+ years are more of a WMO recommendation (however WMO members are obliged to provide national reports for these WMO-fixed 30yr-intervals at least AFAIR). The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment uses a 20-years climatological baseline, for example.

@sean egan (#33)
I will provide it updated including commented R script but it might take a day or two.

By Wolfgang Flamme (not verified) on 21 Oct 2008 #permalink

Bernard,

Perfectly put. Excellent post (#42) - you sum up the precise nature of the problem that escapes most of the sceptics and the mainstream (corporate) media.

J

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 21 Oct 2008 #permalink

This week's New Scientist (18 October) is a special issue with a series of articles under the banner "Beyond Growth". There are some very well credentialled authors covering a range of topics that pertain to the irrationality of the perpetual growth model of Western economics, and I would recommend the issue to anyone who is interested in a light synthesis of the field.

Of course, it's nothing new under the sun, as many people have been trumpeting the folly of unfettered growth for decades; centuries.

And in spite of the criticisms that Malthus, Erhlich & Erlich, the Club of Rome et cetera are 'wrong', because their predictions did not follow exact trajectories and/or timelines, no perpetual-growther has yet explained just how the laws of physics and biology permit such a model.

There is one elephant in the room that the articles don't touch upon, that I might delve into a little in the next day or so. Time's a little short just now - it's a quarter past midnight - and anyway I'm feeling a little disconsolate after watching the Lateline episode tonight where Tony Jones interviewed several Australian Climate scientists and Rajendra Pachauri about climate change.

For anyone interested, the interviews can be found here from about 24 hours after I post this. I'm not sure how long the ABC leaves the files up these days, but it seems to be for more than a few weeks.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

Hi Bernard,

Thanks for another thoughtful post. I enjoy your many excellent contributions to various threads.

I'll also join the discussion more over the next days with regards to your point: 'No perpetual-growther has yet explained just how the laws of physics and biology permit such a model'. I do have some comments (below) about that very point.

But oh, they have tried. The typical neoclassical economics view is that nature is a small subset of the material economy. This was what stimulated Bob Costanza and colleagues to write their now seminal 1997 Nature paper in which they estimated the value of supporting ecosystem services to be worth much more than global GDP at the time. In Costanza's words, he was fed up with economists saying that the value of nature was about "2% of GDP". Its actually the other way around - and much, much more.

But people like Lomborg and others who adhere to the neoclassical economic view somehow believe that humans can forever increase carrying capacity with little resulting harm to our global ecological life support systems. In their vision, the natural economy and the material economy are separate. They adhere to three tenets of this economic view: efficiency, unlimited substitutability, and human ingenuity. This may have been the impetus behind the late conservative business economist Julian Simon's famous remark that the planet can support an ever growing human population for the next 7 billion years. At even a small fraction of 1%, calculations show that in this scenario human biomass would be expanding faster than the universe. Within 700 years humans would occupy every square meter of the earth's land surface. Clearly, Simon had not done the math.

Of course human ingenutiy cannot replace lost species that perform vital services, or substitute water for another element that humans are utterly dependent for their survival. The fact is that Earth is a closed system. At present, the vast majority of natural systems are in decline. Humans are taking more out of natural systems than these systems can sustainably replenish. The jointly sponsored UN-World Bank Living Planet Index, which has monitored the health and viability of three of the most important natural ecosystems on Earth (coastal marine, freshwater and forest) reports that the net loss of these systems since 1970 is about 35%. The loss has also accelerated over the past 20 years. Of course this can not go on inevitably - the key is to find out at what critical point natural ecosystems will be unable to sustain themselves - and us. There is no doubt that we are heading towards a tipping point. Because natural systems function in a strongly non-linear fashion, the expected changes will not necessarily occur gradually, but we can expect surprises. Nasty ones. Consequently, once some critical threshold is exceeded, the system may unravel or function in a drastically different way than it did before.

One problem with humanity is that, thanks to technology, many of us living in our artifical urban confines have become divorced or insulated from our dependence on the natural world. We think that our continued existence is free of any constraints imposed by nature, and that if any supposed limits are approached human wisdom will save the day. As a population ecologist, one of the lessons I have learned is that the current ecological debt that we are incurring will one day have to repaid. I honestly feel that there is time to change course, but the longer that we procastrinate and defer, the stronger the consequences of our past and present actions will be. In effect, we are living off of a one-time inheritance of natural capital and are spending it as if there is no tomorrow.

For those interested in a strong critique of the neoclassical economic view with respect to nature, I suggest a read of Brian Czech's excelelnt book, 'Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train'.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

"The rest of Lomborg's column is more of the same. For example:

Likewise, and arguably much more significantly, the heat content of the world's oceans has been dropping for the past four years where we have measurements.

Actually there were errors in the instruments and the heat content has, in fact, been increasing"

I see, so Lomborg views ocean heat content as arguably more significant. Quite right. So, seeing that he was wrong about the decline, and that it is in fact still increasing, I presume Lomborg is now greatly worried about this planetary energy gain and the manifold consequences it entails for the dynamics of the climate system?

I won't hold my breath.

Jeff
Can we agree that the WWF and the Living Plant reports takes the main stream view that the massive eco-crashes up to now were NOT primarily caused by warming. It does identify that some of us are a lot harder on the plant than others, particularly in terms of CO2, and that warm in projected to cause species lose.

If you have a source which claims that the temp in the last 150 years caused the massive eco-crashes, can you point to it. I have not found anything closer than I have give in #25.

I assume we both understood that projections of the future, and records of what has happened are by nature not the same thing.

By sean egan (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

The assumption that technology will fix all of humanity's current challenges is one that persistently annoys me. Certainly, there is no doubt that technology solves many 'problems' (some are more problematic than others...) that humans face, but there is always a cost. These costs are usually externalised, and often the solution is temporary anyway.

But at a more basic level - I often ask unquestioning technophiles what great perils faced by humans has technology saved us from? Really? I can think of several, but none that don't require inordinate amounts of energy in order to be maintained indefinitely, or that evolution won't foil in its own good time. Perhaps my context is a little more intergenerational that many might choose to operate at, but in the context of humanity in general I think that such timescales are the most appropriate.

And I can think of no application of technology that can address the point that Jeff raised: how do we effectively replace lost species, let alone ecosystems or ecosystem functions? Many 'growthers' laugh at the suggestion of doing so, until inconveniences such as fisheries collapses or catchment degradation or pollinator diseases manifest. But even in these instances the problems are only acknowledged a posteri, and in isolation, with no credit to the intricate web that is the biosphere in which we live, nor of the implications of this web taking such hits. (As an aside, I was all for the adventure to reconstruct a thylacine from a it of fragmented museum specimen DNA, simply to demonstrate to the world exactly how hard it actually is to 'manufacture' a single species, let alone put it into the environment to succeed as it had historically).

Assume for a moment though that technology has satisfactorily stitched up and buried a problem faced by humanity. One might (perhaps ill-advisedly) point to a disease such as smallpox as an example. Does this automatically mean that we can solve all problems, especially as the technologies, and the societies upon which they are based, increase in complexity? The answer has to be a resounding 'no'.

Twenty years ago Joseph Tainter published a book called "The Collapse of Complex Societies", predating Diamond by quite a number of years. In this book Tainter identifies the phenomenon where, as societies develop new layers of complexity, the return (for the additional energy input required) diminishes. This law of diminishing returns has been demonstrated in a diversity of areas, from agricultural food production, to fisheries, to patents obtained per dollar invested.

Tainter says that eventually all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain an existing level of complexity - there is no room to continue to grow in size, wealth, or technological complexity. Essentially this implies that technological growth, and that complexity in societies, follow a curve with an upper asymptote, rather than a curve that is monotonically increasing. Cold logic would tell any rational person this, considering that we live in an essentially closed system.

Our current trajectory is now clearly one where humanity is ever more apparently unable to fix the externalised collateral damage that its development has wrought, with the result that one or more of ecosystem collapse, water shortages, food production falterings (dreams of GE aside), or resource/energy shortages are inevitable. Will technology fix these? If so, how? And how will any solution be fuelled? And if any putative solution can be fuelled, for how long can it be fuelled? And what of the complexity boundary? Our financial system seems to be redlining these days - how soon before it, or some other part of the system, throws a piston?

Modern society these days seems to equate its standard of living with technological advancement, and overall technological/societal complexity. Unfortunately such conditions are not fractal: they cannot be scaled up in time and space.

And before all the accusations of 'Neoluddite' start pouring in - I'm most definitely not saying that we can't have technological development - I'm sure that we can, but we can only have it if we use a different social paradigm to the 'growth' one that we are currently so fixated upon.

Some people might reject Tainter's observations, and claim that once we replace fossil fuels with renewables everything will be hunky dory for limitless growth. I would have to differ: if humanity somehow is able to solve the problem of replacing fossil energy with renewables, even at a somewhat higher cost, we will merely have built a freeway that moves the traffic congestion to the end of the new freeway. Once we can do all of the things we do now, but with renewable energy, what of the resources that we exploit using that energy? What of the fisheries fished with renewable energy? What of the forests cleared with renewable energy? How many more cities can we fill the planet with using renewable energy? How big will these cities be, and how with they be managed?

Who in government or business has thought to ask exactly where we can push our progress across the planet to without shitting in our own nest? Who in government or business has asked how the world will manage to sustain even 2% growth for another century or two?

If someone here can explain, with appropriate reference to the requisite principles of ecology and thermodynamics, how this growth paradigm is able to work indefinitely, I would be most interested in what they have to say.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

Can we agree that the WWF and the Living Plant reports takes the main stream view that the massive eco-crashes up to now were NOT primarily caused by warming.

That is so reassuring, especially considering that damage is non-linearly related to temperature change.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

the late conservative business economist Julian Simon's famous remark that the planet can support an ever growing human population for the next 7 billion years. At even a small fraction of 1%, calculations show that in this scenario human biomass would be expanding faster than the universe. Within 700 years humans would occupy every square meter of the earth's land surface. Clearly, Simon had not done the math.

I remember calculating as a high school student that the mass of carbon in humans would exceed the mass of carbon in the earth's crust in a thousand years at some moderate rate of growth. I guess some business economists don't have the knack for exponential calculations that high school students should have. But hey, maybe that's the solution to the carbon-in-the-atmosphere problem. Eventually, we'll be desperate to get it from anywhere we can.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

I assume we both understood that projections of the future, and records of what has happened are by nature not the same thing

Of course they're not.

Everyone understands that we've stuffed the environment up in the past in a variety of foolish ways. The behemoth that is anthropogenic global warming is a much more inertial press upon the environment, but this doesn't mean that anyone is confabulating it with the different historical impacts.

Except that you seem to be doing so Sean, at least in the construct of a strawman. Why is that?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean, I agree with you that the principle cause of ecological degredation has thus far not been warming, but this means little if we do not recognize that the current warming episode will exacerbate the severity of many of the other human assaults across the biosphere. In particular, habitat loss means species moving to higher latitudes will have to cross large human-created barriers - such as huge expanses of agricultural land and urban conurbations - to track warming and to remain in optimal environments. Thus, warming will (and already is) dramatically affecting the demographics of many species, in concert with other human-induced stresses across the biosphere. A recent study (I think in the jounral Oikos) shows that many songbirds birds are tracking climate change but not fast enough. Moreover, birds have the capacity to diperse much faster than many other organisms: but what about amphibians? Reptiles? Flightless arthropods? Soil biota? Given that humans have dramatically altered the surface of the planet in innumerable ways, what will be their fate? Although the effects of climate change are not necessarily direct, they will interact with other factors in driving the huge extinction spasm. It's no use arguing that climate change won't affect biodiversity - it will, in cconjunction with other anthropogenic assaults.

You are thinking far too linearly - its time for you to put indirect processes into your perspective.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2008 #permalink

Bernard J,

Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson have written many books and essays discussing the diminishing returns of technology and how using the sun in traditional ways (growing crops and using plant energy to power animals for work) is in fact sustainable. Trouble is, western society can't make that model work any more. Pollan's recent work glosses over this issue, but it can be seen in his work as well. It is likely humanity will return to domesticated animals to perform much agricultural work once the human population reordering commences (emit positive karma for a soft landing).

Best,

D

Tim,

Let's face it you're just jealous of Lomborg's renown.

By Dave Andrews (not verified) on 24 Oct 2008 #permalink

Bernard J #52
"but this doesn't mean that anyone is confabulating it with the different historical impacts."

Reading Jeff #46 para 5 around, "the net loss of these systems since 1970 is about 35%" a clarification appeared to be in order.

Jeff Harvey
About Caribou numbers and climate. WWF have said they think it is a factor. The source of this view appears to be the work of E Post & M Forchammer. I have not found thier work online.
Caribou numbers are cyclic. The Canadan herds appear to be in serious decline, the Alaskan herds appear to be booming, a point the oil companies are very happy to shout about..
This difference is surprising as you would think the warming would be much the same.
I understand there is hunting in both parts of the continent. A popular alternative view I have seen on outfitter sites is overhunting when the Canadien herds were at a low part of the cycle is a more probable cause. Clearly I would like to see the papers, and the what other researchers say before having a view.
Either way, I have to say it is not normal to be hunting herds in decline.

By Sean Egan (not verified) on 25 Oct 2008 #permalink

Sean, I'll get back to the thread at some point with mor detail (given that I am a scientist and I have research to do). The UN-WB Living Planet Index is easy to find details on. There's no question that the planet is simpler ecologically since 1970 when it was started, particularly in tropical biomes and in the state of the productive coiastal green seas - there's piles of peer-reviewed studies to back this up.

As far as caribou are concerned, Sean Post is one of the leading researchers in the field of Arctic ecology. His talk here in April clarified the situation, as I said before. I'll check up some of his peer-reviewed papers.

Finally, you steadfastly refuse to respond - or do not understand - the main point that I have raised several times in response to your posts. As the climate changes, and does so rapidly, as it is doing in many higher latitudes, species and populations will have to adjust. They will track the changes as best they can, but the problem is multifold: species that interact strongly many differ in their phenological responses to warming; mutualisms or predator-prey relationships will weaken. There will be many losers. Moreover, tracking climate change means that species will have to cross large expanses of human-created barriers that never existed before. Thus, the current episode of rapid AGW occurs against a background of a planet whose surface has been greatly altered (simplified) by man. In past warming/cooling events there were far more corridors for species to utilize to track the changes. Many of these are blocked or gone now. Finally, thanks to points you have already made, such as hunting pressure (as well as habitat loss), many species exist in much lower numbers now than they did in the past. This means that they have much less genetic variability to adaptively respond to changes in the environment. Genetic variability is a strong pre-requisite for adaptation. Some genotypes do better under some conditions and other genotypes do better under other conditions. As genetic variability is reduced, certain genotypes are lost that may have been, for example, better dispersers when the changes occurred, whereas other genotypes are better competitors with conspecifics to ambient conditions in one location.

I know that this may be over your head, but you've painted yourself into a corner by arguing that climate change effects on biodiversity are likely to be minimal, or that there is no evidence that these effects will be drastic. In concert with other human-induced stresses in natural systems, as I have said before, they will be. You are flogging a dead horse.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 26 Oct 2008 #permalink

Bernard J #52 "but this doesn't mean that anyone is confabulating it with the different historical impacts."

Reading Jeff #46 para 5 around, "the net loss of these systems since 1970 is about 35%" a clarification appeared to be in order.

Gee, Sean, you've backed me into a corner. Yes, a clarification is in order.

The behemoth that is anthropogenic global warming is a much more inertial press upon the environment, but this doesn't mean that anyone who has the capacity for substantive scientific understanding is confabulating it with the different historical impacts.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 26 Oct 2008 #permalink

I'm sure that Lomborg isn't using your interval. And there is any "the trend". The trend changes depending on what time interval you use. Lomborg is probably using a trend for the last decade. And it probably looks something like this.

So if you want to claim that Lomborg is wrong, you have to compare apples to apples.

Using your technique I could take a data set where the first two years out of 30 rose, and the following 28 were flat. Then if I ran a trend line through it, it would show rise for the entire 30 years, and you would claim that there was no flat period. Wrong.

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 08 Nov 2008 #permalink

"Actually there were errors in the instruments and the heat content has, in fact, been increasing"

How can you use an article from realclimate to prove that Lomborg is wrong, when realclimate's cited study ends in 2004 and when Lomborg is talking about the last 4 years?

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 08 Nov 2008 #permalink

How can you use an article from realclimate to prove that Lomborg is wrong, when realclimate's cited study ends in 2004 and when Lomborg is talking about the last 4 years?

Tilo, as always, even your very short response contains multiple errors and misunderstandings.

it is at least unclear, whether Lomborg is talking about the last 4 years. he is talking about the last 4, tat we have data about. can you provide any source for your claim, that the two timespans are identical?

most people with any understanding on the subject, will caution you against any 4 years analysis. Lomborgs point, even if true, is at best irrelevant.

the realclimate article that Tim linked to, contains more links than just the first one. following them will inevitably lead you to this correction to the ARGUS results.

http://oceans.pmel.noaa.gov/Pdf/heat_2006.pdf

Sod:
"it is at least unclear, whether Lomborg is talking about the last 4 years. he is talking about the last 4, tat we have data about. can you provide any source for your claim, that the two timespans are identical?"

Are you suggesting that there is no ocean heat content data for the last 4 years, Sod?

"most people with any understanding on the subject, will caution you against any 4 years analysis. Lomborgs point, even if true, is at best irrelevant."

Okay, let's try to isolate what we are talking about. One question is to figure out if it is true. The study that Tim cited ends in 2004, so it has no power to make Lomborg's claim false.

The issue of importance is something else. While 4 years of non warming of the ocean may not be meaningful in predicting the future, you can nevertheless not get to 30 years of non warming of the ocean unless you start somewhere. In other words, it is significant as a possible starting point. Along with 11 years of no rise in the surface temp, and at least 3 years of no rise in the sea level, these things are important because they are separate measurements all indicating that there is a good chance that a turn has happened.

The fact that we have had warming for the first 20 years of a 30 year period is also not really meaningful, because that warming is easily explained using ENSO effects, and it does not require the assumption that the rise from 1979 to 1998 is mainly caused by man made CO2.

Take a look at what ENSO was doing prior to 77 and after 77.

http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/people/klaus.wolter/MEI/ts.gif

Clearly La Nina's dominated prior to 77 and El Nino's dominated after 77. Also notice that the strength of the El Nino domination wasn't quite as sharp after 1998. Corresponding to that, temperature has been flat since 1998.

If we have had a shift in the PDO in the last year or so, as some now claim, those short term changes may well turn into long term changes.

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 09 Nov 2008 #permalink

Are you suggesting that there is no ocean heat content data for the last 4 years, Sod?

no.

but:
are you suggesting, that the last four years of available data is always the same as simply the last four years?

your claim is a clear demonstration of your utter lack of understanding of the scientific process. it is rather normal (unless your working on a really common thing, like GDP..), that the last available data in a published (and that for citable) form is a couple of years old.

I'm not the one claiming that Lomborg is wrong based upon outdated information.

"your claim is a clear demonstration of your utter lack of understanding of the scientific process. it is rather normal (unless your working on a really common thing, like GDP..), that the last available data in a published (and that for citable) form is a couple of years old."

Is your foot really that comfortable in your mouth Sod? It looks like Willis et al published a paper in 2004 that contained data from 1993 to 2003. This is the paper with the rising sea level chart that Gavin is so fond of trotting out. But Willis, Lyman, Johnson, and Gilson published another paper in 2006 where the Argo and XBT errors were discovered and where what was originally thought to be strong ocean cooling was dicovered to be in error. But correcting the error did not produce warming. Here is the last sentence of the abstract from that paper.

"With biased profiles discarded, no significant warming or cooling is observed in upper-ocean heat content between 2003 and 2006."

http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F…

So the Willis conclusion was that the measured ocean heat content was flat for the period of 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. I would say that Lomborg is somewhat vindicated in this. When someone says to me "the last four years" I count backwards from the present.

I know that there has been a slight drop in sea level elevation for the last three years.

So it's not a bad bet that the ocean heat content will also be down.

Putting that information together, it looks to me like Lomborg is vindicated on this point. In fact we may well have no warming, and possibly slight cooling of the oceans for the last 5 to 6 years.

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 13 Nov 2008 #permalink

Last year, it was a "cooling" 10 year anomaly trend from the denialists - 'because 10 years is a good round number for recent data,' a phrase I heard in various forms, many times.

This year, 'tis cooling over an 11 year trend.

Funny how the relevant time period keeps getting just enough longer that it continues to include that major El Nino as its starting point.

Tilo Reber, you have become self-parody.

Lee:
"Funny how the relevant time period keeps getting just enough longer that it continues to include that major El Nino as its starting point."

Yes, we could move forward to where that El Nino is not included. But then we would be using a major La Nina as a starting point. As it is, using that El Nino and that La Nina together they basically cancel each other out in terms of their effect on the slope of the trendline. If you don't like that option, we can use a decade of ENSO adjusted HadCrut3 data that was computed by Gavin Schmidt. I took his data and plotted it against the unadjusted HadCrut3 data. Remeber, there were 7 ENSO events in the period. 4 El Ninos and 3 La Ninas.

Here is what that chart looks like.

As you can see, there is very little difference between the ENSO adjusted data and the raw HadCrut3 data.

The reason that I use the 11 year chart is because I am trying to answer the question: "Beginning from the present, how many years have we gone without warming?"

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 13 Nov 2008 #permalink

Tilo Reber:

The reason that I use the 11 year chart is because I am trying to answer the question

The question I want answered is why you still fail to retract the lie:

But those cooling cycles of the past also had a reason

when you fail to put up a reason.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 15 Nov 2008 #permalink

Tilo says:

"Beginning from the present, how many years have we gone..."

Tilo, if that is your question, then your analytical method is at best statistically incoherent and incompetent.

You are introducing an endpoint at 11 years ago, into time series data that doesn't have an endpoint 11 years ago. Your 'technique' gives your first months or years of data complete independence from the immediately preceding data, the ones you truncate and remove. Yo are introducing into your statistical analysis, the assumption that the first data you include is completely independent of the data preceding it.

That means that in effect, you are ASSUMING that there was a change point 11 years ago, without having done a change point analysis to see if you have any statistical evidence for a change point. There are techniques to detect change points - I think it is telling that you don't use them.

The reason that I use the 11 year chart is because I am trying to answer the question: "Beginning from the present, how many years have we gone without warming?"

sorry Tilo, but that is not the question that you are answering.

if you were going backward, checking periods for a lack of warming, you would get a much shorter period.
there are periods between the 98 to present one, that actually DO show warming.

the question that you are answering is the following:

what year can i cherrypick, that gives the (false) impression of a maximum length period of no warming till present.

Lee:
"Yo are introducing into your statistical analysis, "

I'm not doing a statistical analysis, Lee. I don't need one to see the time period for which we have had no cooling.

"Yo are introducing into your statistical analysis, the assumption that the first data you include is completely independent of the data preceding it."

For answering the question that I want to answer, this is absolutely true.

"You are introducing an endpoint at 11 years ago, into time series data that doesn't have an endpoint 11 years ago."

Yes, it has an endpoint about 4 billion years ago. No warming for 4 billion years - happy?

sod:
"if you were going backward, checking periods for a lack of warming, you would get a much shorter period. there are periods between the 98 to present one, that actually DO show warming."

It's irrelevant that there are periods that do show warming. Your suggestion simply amounts to cherry picking an intermediate point.

By Tilo Reber (not verified) on 17 Nov 2008 #permalink