What's Wrong With Warm Weather

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.


The Earth has had much warmer climates in the past, what is so special about the current climate? It seems like a generally warmer world will be better.


I don't know if there is a meaningful way to define an "optimum" average temperature for planet Earth. Surely it is better now for all of us than it was 20,000 years ago when so much land was trapped beneath ice sheets. But anywhere between the recent climate and the most extreme one we may be heading for with tropical forests inside the arctic circle, one global mean temperature seems just as good as any other. Maybe it is even better with no ice caps anywhere.

But the critical issue with what is going on today is not where the temperature is or would be and not with what it may end up being. The critical issue is how fast it is moving.

Rapid change is the real danger. Human habits and infrastructure are suited to particular weather patterns and sea levels, as are ecosystems and animal behaviors. The rate at which the global temperature is rising today is very likely unique in the history of our species.

This kind of sudden change is even very rare in geological history, though perhaps not unprecedented. So the planet may have been through similar things before, that sounds reassuring, right? Well, once you look at the impact similar changes had on biodiversity at the time, the existence of some historical precedent or another actually becomes anything but reassuring. Rapid climate change is the prime suspect in most of the mass extinction events, including the Great Dying some 250 million years ago, in which 90% of all life went extinct.

What we know about ecosystems and what geologic history demonstrates is that dramatic climate changes - up or down or sideways - are a tremendous shock to the biosphere and cause mass extinction events. And that, all in all, is not likely to be a good thing.

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.

"What's Wrong With Warm Weather" was first published here, where you can still find the original comment thread. This updated version is also posted on the Grist website, where additional comments can be found, though the author, Coby Beck, does not monitor or respond there.


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Hey coby (: I am currently writing a research paper on Global Warming, and I've always accepted the side of the argument that states that "Global Warming is real and if humans don't change something then Earth's future is destined to increased mortality rates, coastlines flooding, and species becoming extinct." Feeling that I could not write an unbiased research paper without knowing the "other side" of the argument I decided to start reading Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg. If you have not read it, I highly suggest it, even if you do not agree with any of what he has written in his book, it should help you better understand the skeptics of Global Warming. This book really opened my eyes to some of the arguments against radical action against Global WarmingIt stated that yes, Global Warming is a real problem, but it is not the only problem. I was wondering what your opinion on some of the things that where stated in Lomborgs book, and considering you know a great deal about Global Warming that you might be able to make some things more clear. One thing that Lomborg brought up that caught my attention stated, When two thousand people died from heat in the UK, it produced a public outcry that is still heard. However, the BBC recently ran a very quiet story telling us that deaths caused by cold weather in England and Wales for the past years have hovered around twenty-five thousand each winterIn Europe as a whole, about two hundred thousand people die from excess heat each year. However, about 1.5 million Europeans die annually from excess cold. That is more than seven times the total number of heat deaths. Just in the past decade, Europe has lost about fifteen million people to the cold, more than four hundred times the iconic heat deaths from 2003. That we so easily neglect these deaths and so easily embrace those caused by global warming tells us of a breakdown in our sense of proportion. He also states the direct impact of climate change in 2050 will mean fewer dead, and not by a small amount. In total, about 1.4 million people will be saved each year, due to more than 1.7 fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 365,000 more deaths from respiratory disorders. So if warmer weather would cause less deaths than the under emphasized cold weather deaths, then why wouldnt we want warmer weather? Thank you so much for your time, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog!

I thought the whole problem with warming wasn't a direct cause of deaths but more an indirect one as regular sources of food get interrupted. Lomborg is beating at a strawman, IMO. Deaths as a result of extremes of temperature will always be around, no matter the change in global temperatures. (It's not like winter and summer will be replaced with new, as yet unnamed, seasons.) However, plants won't necessarily continue to grow in the places our current infrastructure is set up to deal with. Drought and famine are difficult to deal with and often lead to worse scenarios like war.

Another thing to keep in mind is the media is seldom/never to be trusted on scientific matters. They misunderstand (sometimes on purpose) and overdramatize. They're not a public service for providing information; they're companies hoping to make sales by entertaining. So who cares if they make a big deal of summer deaths? They also make a big deal about Britney's overexposed vagina. IMO they're more to be trusted on issues surrounding exposed genitalia than science. (There are a few exceptions, but for the most part...)

I agree with pough's commnt, the major flaw in Lomborg is his continual use of strawman arguments. The direct heat related deaths are absolutely not the major concern about GW. Also, his continual and seamless interchanging of science and media reports is very deceptive. Who cares what the media focuses on, look at the UN reports themselves.

Here are some good resources for you wrt Lomborg, Aimee, I have never done the work of carefully reading and debunking him myself, but these folks have:

This site is a great repository of links, including rebuttals to the criticisms:

And in case all of those are too "Skeptical Environmentalist" oriented, try checking out this great dismantling of a Lomborg OpEd based on "Cool It" graciously provided by "Things Break":

I have some other questions, one of which is related to this topic, but I found it hard to pick a specific subject area under which to post this. Mostly these are related to the assumption that the Earth will ultimately warm up. Sorry, kinda long though...

I, for one, am not opposed to a warmer climate, however I realize that the rapid change could be an issue. Despite this, I'm convinced that the biosystems on this planet are fragile yet extremely resilient. In their diversity they have proven this resilience again and again for eons. It apparently takes a horrendous disaster spanning many years to truly wipe out an area, let alone the entire planet, and, even if one particular species is unable to live in the new climate of the area, it ultimately, with few exceptions, will either move to, continue to thrive in, or adapt to another. With this in mind, how can it be assumed that a climate change spanning a hundred years will have any serious effect? This is in respect to nature. Humans are part of nature and should obviously adapt as well. Many alarmists try to exploit human emotions claiming that a 20-foot rise of ocean levels would wipe out millions in coastal communities. I would honestly consider publicly beating anyone who says this. If someone drowns because they can't move their butt in 100 years, they deserve to die; survival of the fittest IMHO.

This concept brings another basic question which I have not heard or read about, but maybe I'm just missing stuff. In a newly warm climate, doesn't the amount of water vapor increase in the atmosphere? If so, would it not counter a rise in ocean level? Again, some of these are basic questions that may be in-depth but I've not had the time to research and am hoping to capitalize on your experience.

Why are increased levels of CO2 a concern? I've read at least two studies that show plant life thrives in high-CO2 concentrations, and it appears to make obvious sense to me. As foliage increases, would this not counter the increasing CO2 levels by converting the carbon to biomass? Would the increased plant life not also entrap any additional water away from oceans?

One last question I have that seems superficially obvious but may be more profound: Since the fossil fuels we?re currently burning came from ancient plant life, and plants get their carbon from the atmosphere, why can?t it be assumed that we?re simply returning to the atmosphere what was originally there to begin with?

Note: I do not necessarily run with either side of this debate as I see flaws and extreme politics in both. However, I specifically do not agree with the alarmist/apocalyptic view which, hopefully not making too bold an assumption, appears to be your stance (please correct me if I'm wrong). I think that humans can affect the climate for good or bad, but I do not think that we are as influential as some propose. Regardless, I very much respect you for the time you've apparently taken for research. Most of the people I talk to take their diehard opinions from Entertainment Tonight, which I find appalling.


I figure I should present this.

It's a slide from a presentation by Bob Corell.

Note that by many accounts (though if Coby can refine this part, please do!), we're more or less locked in for about 2 degrees of warming. Care to estimate what sort of other impacts that will have besides wearing lighter shirts?

To put that in perspective, consider how far back you have to go before you see temperatures of about 2 degrees above modern standard.

You're correct that we're returning carbon to the air that was there before. However, 'before' was millions of years ago. Our current ecosystem is not set up for those levels of carbon or the impacts of increased temperature. (If the carbon was more recently part of the atmosphere, such as in biofuel, it comes out with pretty much no atmospheric impact apart from that used to make the fuel. Compare to oil and gas, which have been out of the system for aeons.)

Possibly playing the Devil's advocate here, don't oust me for it, but who's to say that the climate/ecosystems of eons ago from whence the coal and oil came would be any worse than our current situation? Apparently the earth was covered with luscious plant life which would indicate the earth could support much more farming (it already does, but we could always use more...) Thus the increased plant life would seem beneficial to humans. Quite frankly the necessary tremendous amount of rain would drive me insane, but there are many civilizations that thrive in rain forests.

P.S. I've not forgotten that the argument is the rate of change and not necessarily the change itself. I'm only running with the idea that the flora and fauna of the earth are highly responsive and adaptive. Although I can't quote anyone, just from past reading it seems that a rate of 2?C/century could strongly affect a small percentage of species in an area, but, to truly wreak havoc, a much larger percentage would need to be affected to the point that they would be eliminated.

Furthermore it cannot be assumed that technology research will stall for the next 100 years. Energy efficiency improvements over the last century were not had because of a push from global warming alarm. They came because of man's continuing desire to improve.

I think it is pretty non-controversial that 2oC/century is an extremely rapid rate. Ice ages were a change of ~5oC over 15K and 100K for warming and cooling. Resulting extinction level projections for extreme warming are probably very uncertain at best but I have not heard estimates as low as 2%, but I have heard as high as 50% from research scientists, not Greenpeace. (and that is extinction, not just being "strongly affected")

It is also worth remembering that in terms of adaptation, ecosystems are also constrained by human development and already damaged, in some cases severely. This will surely make it harder to handle a climate shift.

Of course, if we put our minds to it, humans might actually be able to provide assistance, though it seems a rather low priority at the moment!

Jon asks:
"How can it be assumed that a climate change spanning a hundred years will have any serious effect?" Well it seems easy enough for Jon to assume change has no effect. Pretend that what we're talking about is the cost/benefit of stopping AGW - which I assume he would argue is a waste of time and money. To which I would then respond "So? Wasting time and money isn't that 'serious'". Both arguments are pointless. There's ample evidence of what rapid climate change - regardless of the cause - can do to human society. Just because he and I will both be dead in a hundred years doesn't mean we have to be sociopaths.
"If someone drowns because they can't move their butt in 100 years, they deserve to die; survival of the fittest IMHO"? Who was talking about drowning, Jon? Does say, a war over a scarce resource sound unlikely to a historian such as yourself. Be a sweetheart and draw us up a list of where it would be convenient for *you* to have displaced coastal populations "move their butt[s]" to. Perhaps you have a spare room or could generously spot them some coin to defray the costs while your in such a magnanimous mood. "$urvival of the fitte$t" indeed. Without citation I'm going to assume this straw man argument is really your invention and kindly ask you to consider publicly beating yourself.
"In a newly warm climate, doesn't the amount of water vapor increase in the atmosphere?" Even a cursory reading of the posts and links in this site lead a lay person like myself to conclude that the answer to this question is "yes, big time", and that's a big cause of the concern, but as a result of the CO2 forcing.
"Why are increased levels of CO2 a concern?" Hmmm.. perhaps at this point it's better to turn this one around to demonstrate how silly it is to restate the premise of the argument. Will *stopping* putting CO2 into the atmosphere be that big a deal? Don't bother providing mountains of supporting evidence Jon because I'm just going to do what you did: Blithely disregard it. (Not working for you either is it, Jon?)
"As foliage increases, would this not counter the increasing CO2 levels by converting the carbon to biomass?" If this were sufficiently true we wouldn't be seeing the increase in CO2 in the first place. Wishing it were so won't make it happen. Counteracting forces, such that they are, aren't stopping the rise in measured CO2 or ocean levels.
"Would the increased plant life not also entrap any additional water away from oceans?" Once again if this effect were was up to the task we wouldn't be having this conversation.
"Since the fossil fuels we're currently burning came from ancient plant life, and plants get their carbon from the atmosphere, why can't it be assumed that we're simply returning to the atmosphere what was originally there to begin with?" It was sequestered over millions of years and we're releasing it rapidly by burning it. Too rapidly.
"...who's to say that the climate/ecosystems of eons ago from whence the coal and oil came would be any worse than our current situation?" If it's all the same to you Jon, why don't we just go ahead and hold onto the climate we evolved in. Also somewhere you've gotten the impression that more of the earth was covered with "luscious" plant life than today. That may or may not be true but if you have evidence that rapid climate change will replace plant and animal species faster than it will displace them by all means provide it. There are plenty of plants and animals that are hard to kill. Ask any gardener or exterminator. I suspect that Jon's "truly wreak[ing] havoc" standard is one that for argument's sake would never be reached to his satisfaction. Many others consider the current mass extinction event that we are in right now to be sufficient. What *will* it take for you to say "uncle"? Try to be as specific as possible. Would you even "give" after a tremendous methane outgassing event? I'm getting the feeling that you might not even then...as if it would make a difference at that point. It's hard to believe you're serious fretting about tremendous amounts of rain driving you insane. It just doesn't seem to bother you that rapid climate change will cause expense and suffering for others who have invested everything in adapting to the climate is now. If your argument is that the people who caused the problem will suffer the least why not just say that up front.

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 06 Jan 2009 #permalink

Please don't be too hard on Jon. His questions indicate that he really is interested in learning the truth about the issue. Some of the statements he made show that the GW deniers got to him first, but he deserves credit for trying to sort it out now. Most of my GW denier-type friends are stuck on name-calling rather than engaging in a real discussion.

Well, well. We see here a good example of how debate is embraced by some of the AGW proponents. Someone who appears to be on the fence and seeking information asks some questions, and Brian goes bananas.

And Steve, I'm a "denier-type" but, unfortunately, you will find that I am more than willing to debate the facts, rather than resort to name calling, if you'd like to.

And Brian, I'll give you a chance to retract/rephrase your quite remarkable statement

"which I assume he would argue is a waste of time and money. To which I would then respond "So? Wasting time and money isn't that 'serious'".

before I have time to reply properly.

Paul, I must admit I'm a bit confused by your post.
Saying that Brian went bananas is hardly a part of a civilized exchange. Methinks you are the pot calling the kettle black.
Also, you say that 'unfortunately' you are willing to debate facts. Why would it ever be wrong to discuss facts? In my humble opinion, that is far preferable to mud-slinging. Would your GW-denier friends abandon you if you actually did exchange ideas?
Anyway, facts are facts. Facts do not rely upon us believing them; they will be just as true even if some people deny that they are facts. A wise person will believe the facts even if they make him uncomfortable.

Here are the first three definitions of "go bananas" I found with google.

go bananas (informal) - to become very angry. "She'll go bananas if she sees the room in this state."

Verb: go bananas - (informal) become mad or furious

go bananas - to become very emotional. "I just went bananas when she told me she wanted to move out."

It's not abusive, it's just slang/informal. What is the problem with that? Brian's used informal talk ("Be a sweetheart") - but this is not a debate thread about writing etiquette. It is in fact about whether or not warmer weather will necessarily be a bad thing.

Nevertheless, it not being important, if this still does not satisfy you then consider it replaced with "became mad" or "became emotional", both of which I think accurately describe the tone of Brian's post.

I'm also going to assume that your second paragraph was a joke or an attempt to wind me up, as I can't believe that you actually think I was suggesting that mud-slinging is preferable to discussing "facts".

I don't think human generated CO2 is responsible for anything other that insignificant rises in the temperatures over the last 100 years or so. And I don't think that a rise of 1 or 2 degrees will be a problem, and in fact think that it will be good - that the increase in crop yields would outweigh any relocation costs associated with rising sea-levels. But this is certainly not a trivial question and i'd be happy to debate this on this thread, but Jon's question appears to have generated something a little less focused ie. Brian's reply.

"There's ample evidence of what rapid climate change - regardless of the cause - can do to human society. Just because he and I will both be dead in a hundred years doesn't mean we have to be sociopaths."

So you're saying that rapid climate change can be bad and that people should respond to changes in climate regardless of their cause. I agree with this. I also agree that we don't all " have to be sociopaths".

I don't agree though that there has been any rapid climate change, not comparing it to the natural changes in the pre-human CO2 generating period. Maybe you could define what you mean by rapid and show how the recent temperature rises fit this definition? Or if you are talking about rapid changes that you predict will happen in the future, maybe you could point out which ones you are thinking of specifically, when they might occur and what evidence you have that this will happen?

I also don't agree though that we should spend trillions of dollars on reducing CO2 output REGARDLESS of whether it is the cause (or will be the cause) of any significant temperature rise. I think we should only spend the money to cut CO2 output if this is part of problem. If it can be demonstrated to be contributing insignificantly to the temperatures, then we should not bother aiming to reduce the output of it. I'm sure you agree with me on this, yes?

"If someone drowns because they can't move their butt in 100 years, they deserve to die; survival of the fittest IMHO"? Who was talking about drowning, Jon? Does say, a war over a scarce resource sound unlikely to a historian such as yourself. Be a sweetheart and draw us up a list of where it would be convenient for *you* to have displaced coastal populations "move their butt[s]" to.

I don't really understand this. I think here you're saying that the scarce resource is the land to which the people must move because of rising sea levels? you're saying there is a shortage of land? Where? Did you mean something else? Which areas and populations were you thinking of? And what kind of sea level rise will bring this on? Do you have an example of a specific population that - because there is no land for them to move to and the sea level rise will be so fast as to prevent any warning and planning - will only be able to move by engaging in war?

"Why are increased levels of CO2 a concern?" Hmmm.. perhaps at this point it's better to turn this one around to demonstrate how silly it is to restate the premise of the argument. Will *stopping* putting CO2 into the atmosphere be that big a deal? Don't bother providing mountains of supporting evidence Jon because I'm just going to do what you did: Blithely disregard it. (Not working for you either is it, Jon?)

I don't understand this either I'm afraid. What is the statement to which you are referring when you say "restate", is it what Jon said or what you then say? These two things are questions and as such cannot be the "premise" of the argument. Maybe you could clarify what you meant.

But it's clear that you believe that human generated CO2 is a concern. May we ask why? What particular piece of evidence to you consider to be the smoking gun? Is it the climate models that convinced you? Or are there observations which support your theory that you could point out to me?

"If it's all the same to you Jon, why don't we just go ahead and hold onto the climate we evolved in. Also somewhere you've gotten the impression that more of the earth was covered with "luscious" plant life than today. That may or may not be true but if you have evidence that rapid climate change will replace plant and animal species faster than it will displace them by all means provide it. There are plenty of plants and animals that are hard to kill. Ask any gardener or exterminator. "

We have evolved through climate changes far worse than those even the most pessimistic AGW proponents predict. In fact, one theory of the evolution of human intelligence suggests that the ice ages were key in that the increased difficulty in hunting, staying warm etc. selected for those with greater reasoning power. So suggesting we evolved in the climate we are in now is just complete and utter nonsense.

What you mean by "That may or may not be true but if you have evidence that rapid climate change will replace plant and animal species faster than it will displace them by all means provide it" is not clear, nor is the meaning or relevance of the last two sentences really. All in all, I think that paragraph is better left out of any debate until you clarify how they are related to the question - Jon is simply asking whether a degree or two more will necessarily hurt us, a perfectly reasonable and non-trivial question which does not deserve the curt dismissal you give it.

I'm very curious to know what the "current mass extinction event that we are in right now" is - could you please point me towards some evidence or reading about this please?

And what does this have to do with human CO2 please, this "tremendous methane outgassing event?" you speak of? Is one coming up?

Finally, you said

"It just doesn't seem to bother you that rapid climate change will cause expense and.."

Whoa. Didn't you say earlier that monetary cost was not "serious"? What does the expense matter then, why are you pointing this out? What gives?

Steve - Given your concern with facts, how do you parse these two facts:

- over the last 8 years or so, the temperature has dropped.


And looking further back in that graph, depending on the agreed size of the error bars, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995 or even earlier (especially disallowing the clear outlier of the 1998 El nino). What is your explanation for this? This was not predicted by the climate models - a 0.2 degrees per decade rise is predicted by these? What is your take on this?
- I take it from your use of "denier" that you think that the AGW case is made, that this is a done deal. Is this true? If not, how much doubt do you have, and what evidence are you awaiting that will convince you 100%?

But if so, your claim that the debate is over is, erm, debated by a large number of scientists.


You can disagree with them sure - but on what basis do you claim that they are not just wrong but are "deniers" (by this term, are you meaning they are refusing to accept something which is plainly true?). Please could you tell us what the evidence is that persuaded you it is ok to dismiss the opinions of this list of often distinguished scientists.

Unfortunately it appears I've opened a can of worms, or at least one worm, less objective than I'd hoped. Sorry. I am still human and could not resist. That aside, however, I found your response very rude and very useless as far as furthering your passionate cause or helping me figure out what?s problematic and what's not. Although my questions may be weighted, they are still just questions. Ironically enough, the reason they are weighted is because of the many absurd responses I've gotten, such as yours.
I am interested in many fields but, in the end, I am an engineer and am very objective. Thus what I do for a living is, in fact, to save time and money. That said, I will humbly accept your refutation of the unintelligent "argument" that wasting time and money isn't that 'serious'. In the end, however, your passionate ranting is one of the reasons I've found it so hard to get intelligent and objective answers to most of my questions. You've done yourself in and have thus lost any respect I might have had for you. Nevertheless, I would still like to respond to some of the nonsense.
Land as a scarce resource: I'm not sure how much of a historian you are either, but I do know via common sense that land will not become a scarce resource if even the most dire ocean rise predictions from the EPA come to fruition. I do not have hard evidence of this because I have limited time that I can spend on research and it is full of junk like this Greenhouse Effect, Sea Level Rise, and Land Use from Titus. This document is filled with cataclysmic crap such as "If the sea rose 25 centimeters overnight, the land would be flooded at high tide and hence convert to wetland, while a 125-cm rise would convert it to open water". Obviously this would never happen and means nothing for land loss research, yet it?s there anyway to convince the gullible majority. Furthermore the document obsesses over the possible 17% lost land (or more frequently the "almost 20%") in Bangladesh, but only subtly implies that it is an exceptional case. It is because of EPA-sponsored documents such as this that I will never outright believe anything the EPA claims. Unfortunately most of the world does. Keep in mind that this is in regard to the EPA and not necessarily to the actual physical happenings. I'm not stupid enough to ignore everything. Major point: The land scarcity argument is worthless.
Atmospheric water vapor increase: I think you missed the point, but I'll accept some of the blame because of the way I wrote it. It was assumed that water vapor would increase. The main question was drawn from that conclusion: How much of a counter-effect is this increase and is it ever taken into consideration in predictions of sea level rise? My opinion is that this water vapor would be a significant factor in reducing a sea level rise, but none of the few reports I've read on this topic ever state that it was considered for the predictions made. I'm trying to find facts. You're not helping.
Foliage increase: Again, you missed the point. I can deduce from basic biology and physics that increased foliage would hold more moisture away from the oceans and that this must obviously have an effect in the reduction of sea levels. The question is how much of an effect is this and do current predictions take this into account? I apologize for the broadness of the original questions, but I'd hoped for more encompassing answers rather than some hot retorts with tunnel vision.
Previously Paul has responded quite philosophically and thus I will not persist in beating a dead horse. However, I am still looking for intelligent answers, and, as I mentioned before, there seemed to be individuals here that are considerably more well-informed on this topic than myself. Thanks.


The annual mean global concentration of water vapor would yield about 25 mm of liquid water over the entire surface of the Earth if it were to instantly condense.


So it sounds like sea level reduction from increase humidity could be a measurable, though insignificant factor. It would surprise me greatly if this has not been considered in projections of sea level rise, but the impact is probably dwarfed by just the uncertainty of the major factors (thermal expansion, melting land ice).

I would guess water held in foliage is an even smaller factor.

Jon and Paul, the statement "which I assume he would argue is a waste of time and money. To which I would then respond "So? Wasting time and money isn't that 'serious'" is merely mocking Jon's argument stating explicitly what he seems to be implying which is basically 'why be that concerned about the costs of (actual!)AGW?'. The reason it sounds ridiculous is because it *is* ridiculous - and not-so-subtle sarcastic characterization. What is this, the irony-free zone or something? It didn't take long to get Steve into a semantic debate. Nicely done. (You should try correcting peoples spelling. Leaves 'em slack-jawed) Going bananas is actually a good description. No fruit is ever harmed however.
I thought the Current Mass Extinction event thing was a no brainer too. Using the google, hit #1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event - I mean just for starters. Were not "100%" sure about that either, so feel free to make the perfect the enemy of the good on that issue to. "Hey having fewer plant and animal species around won't be so bad." if used as a counter-argument will be mocked by me too - again.
Conflicts over land and resources are commonplace in history and everybody knows it. If you're arguing that we won't have *time* to fight over land and resources anymore than we already are *without* dire AGW consequences you may have a point. If you find some land that isn't already owned feel free to move there and you will probably find out why quickly. Where I live all the land is owned and the people that ask you to leave it frequently have guns. (Hint: Bring money) At any rate mass migrations don't seem to be picnics regardless of the cause or speed. I'm just not buying the argument that just because CO2 related drought/flood/erosion/glacial melt/disease/famine/extinction wouldn't cause the actual end of the world it wouldn't be bad. I for one have seen enough drought/flood/erosion/glacial melt/disease/famine/extinction to want to avoid *causing* more of it. If characterizing people that have little regard for the welfare of others as sociopaths strikes you as unfair - break out the dictionary - again.
Suggesting that we have evolved through climate changes far worse than those even the most pessimistic AGW proponents predict implies that you look forward to it like it's some kind of a reality show. I suppose you plan on being one of the survivors? I do too. Good luck with that btw. To paraphrase the classic definition of "chutzpah" Throw yourself at the mercy of the court for having attempted to kill your parents because it was an effort to make them stronger. Don't do me any favors.
"If it can be demonstrated to be contributing insignificantly to the temperatures, then we should not bother aiming to reduce the output of it. I'm sure you agree with me on this, yes?" Yes of course, demonstrate away. Don't worry about my feelings. You don't have to respect me. (Respect that - objectively - AGW explains the facts better than the deniers.)But demonstrating that the AGW theory is isn't perfect is hardly sufficient (perhaps your explanation of the facts is?). But you're using a "god of the gaps" approach generally. I neither require - nor provide - metaphysical certitude to make decisions. I give the AGW crowd an A- on their presentation of their case. Beyond *any* doubt? Hardly. That's an unresonable standard.
Their analysis seems to have been predictive as well. The deniers case is sophomoric and weak.
I'm an engineer too. My field of industrial control systems frequently requires educated guesswork based on available information and reliance on experts with specialized knowledge. We don't have foolproof flowcharts for every possible failure mode. We manage to get things done by in part by avoiding paralysis by the kinds of arguments you make here. The first thing we do is trust our gauging unless given a compelling reason not to. Then we act to minimize adverse consequences. The consequences to people are paramount. It rarely comes to that because we stop doing things that (might) hurt people. Sure sometimes peoples feeling get hurt, especially when you loud them out for being more concerned with cost/minutiae/ego than people but they get over it.
I assume you guys got to this thread the same way I did, by reading the site. I thought "What's Wrong With Warm Weather" was a joke but you guys are serious. I still think it's meant as bait for denier's to hoist themselves by their own petard. "What's wrong with CO2? Asked and answered. Go back and click through some of the links. Listen to the analysis. Look at the data. People are going to go bananas if you read the answer and come back and say what amounts to "No, I meant what's wrooooonnng with CO2?." Wasting time debating semantics with engineers is what's holding you back. There apparently is no conceivable outcome of AGW that you would find objectionable or convincing (or is there? Hmmm...). It seems to me that deniers are awfully comfortable predicting the future if we *do* act to contain CO2 emissions. You cant get away for long with raising the bar for AGW while lowering it for yourselves, especially when there's AGW data that's proven predictive. And for what? Cheap gas? I don't get it. In lieu of finding the "Precambrian rabbit" (h/t JBS Haldane) of AGW theory I'm sticking with evidence and science (available here and elsewhere in abundance)and *eagerly* waiting, no wishing for reasonable doubt. A few questions from a couple of guys that *want* global warming doesn't even come close. I'm just a guy reading a web site, its no passionate cause. But when people say they they've never heard of rapid climate change I just can't take them seriously. Droughts lasting for years have occurred in the 20th century. Just because they aren't attributable to AGW doesn't mean we cant imagine what a drought that *is* attributable to AGW would be like. I mean really, Jon. You don't think there's been rapid climate change before??

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 11 Jan 2009 #permalink

I know a bit about multiple fields of science, so I'll address a bit of some of these questions and points.

-Questions regarding water vapor vs sea level rise:

As the above showed, a small amount of liquid water becomes a large volume of water vapor. One thing to consider in turn is to imagine the effect of a higher average humidity plus a higher average temperature on animals. Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas(as are other tri-atomic molecules), which is why high humidity days feel so much more oppressively hot.

-Why are increased levels of CO2 a concern? Don't plants convert CO2 into O2 as part of photosynthesis?

Yes they do, however the main limiting factors in the process of photosynthesis are the amount of light absorbed and the ability to intake water and CO2 while storing sugars and expelling O2. As pointed out above, CO2 is also a tri-atomic molecule that acts as a thermal insulator for the atmosphere, causing a net increase in heat retention atmospherically. Unlike water vapor however, CO2 doesn't condense out of the atmosphere in a rapid cycle which is why it gets all the bad press.

-Regarding carbon from fossil fuels being returned to the atmosphere:

That's like saying disposing of massive amounts of mercury in a local landfill that can leak into the local water table isn't a big deal because the mercury came from the ground originally.

-Regarding belief that a warmer world is a lush jungle paradise:

Not really, world climate is more complex than just temperature. Desertification is expected to greatly reduce the amount of land that can be used for farming along with green land like forests in general. More concerning however would be for instance shifts in ocean currents which rely on a temperature differential between tropical oceans and frozen polar seas to drive them.

If a single ocean current shifts or fails an entire region could face a drastic change, for instance the fact that western Europe, particularly Briton, is kept warm by the tropical Gulf current flowing from the American tropics.

Should all the ocean currents fail, the oceans would pretty much stagnate and die.

Also in regard to climate change, what climate a particular region has is also limited by geographical features like mountain ranges, plus global air movements(jet stream) plus ocean currents(providing cool or warm waters). Warmer =/= Jungle Paradise. Warmer can mean forests turning into scrub-lands, deserts, etc depending on how all the factors come together.

By Valor Phoenix (not verified) on 08 Feb 2009 #permalink

Coby, from original article:

"This kind of sudden change is even very rare in geological history, though perhaps not unprecedented. So the planet may have been through similar things before, that sounds reassuring, right? Well, once you look at the impact similar changes had on biodiversity at the time, the existence of some historical precedent or another actually becomes anything but reassuring. Rapid climate change is the prime suspect in most of the mass extinction events, including the Great Dying some 250 million years ago, in which 90% of all life went extinct."

Finally, an AGW alarmist who ADMITS that, not only were temperatures higher in the past than they are now, but that they changed more rapidly than they are changing now. (By the way, from perusing the Vostok Ice Core data, I have personally identified no fewer than 23 periods (of at least 20 years in length) in the last 10,000 years alone when temperatures changed (13 up, 12 down) more rapidly than the 0.24C/decade observed between 1975 and 1998.) Of course, Coby goes on to claim that any such rapid change inevitably results in mass extinctions. And that may or may not be true (I'm not aware of any mass extinctions associated with the 23 rapid changes recorded in the Vostok Ice Core in the last 10,000 years). But Coby is clearly missing a very important point. Any rapid temperature changes that occurred prior to 150 years ago simply could not have been caused by anthropogenic forcings! This is a critical point, because if NATURAL forcings caused rapid warming in the past, then it is possible that NATURAL forcings are causing the CURRENT warming. Mass extinctions, though surely unfortunate, are irrelevant to the central issue here - is mankind causing the current warming?

(By the way, Coby, you better hope your fellow AGW alarmists don't see you admitting the possibility that rapid temperature change occurred in the past, before humans could be blamed for it. If they do, they're going to come down on you like a ton of bricks. You see, most AGW alarmists consider the "fact" that temperatures have never risen this rapidly as a lynchpin of their argument that mankind is responsible for the current warming. And they are right to consider it so, for if that "fact" is disproved, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. They won't like seeing you breaking ranks like this. Not at all. On the other hand, it will be nice to see the AGW alarmists eat one of their own for a change. It will also be interesting to see what Coby thinks about censorship of AGW skepticism once he becomes a victim of it.)


Hi Trevor,

Can you please provide a quote of any climate scientist or Al Gore or even a reputable media outlet (AGW alarmists, all) saying that the temperature of earth has never been higher than it is today? If you can not, you should take a moment to reflect on how much of what you believe about this issue is based on miss impression or assumption or outright disinformation from poor sources.

Regarding extinction events and how to define "rapid" climate change, I think it is lees than useful to consider jumps of a few tenths of a degree, or even 1 or 1.5oC degrees, and especially if they are short lived. We have already seen an unequivical warming of .8oC and I don't think any serious source attribute the current extinction event to that small change. What we are expecting is a warming of at least 3oC in 150-200 years (and don't forget, time does not stop at 2100AD). This is what I am talking about in this article, and this is what is rare in geological history.

It was only a ~5oC global change that moved the world in and out of ice ages repeatedly over the last ~900Kyrs and those transitions took ~10-15Kys on the warming side and ~100Kyrs on the cooling side.

Also don't forget that the Volstok ice cores represent a single geographic location and you can not just assume the global averages moved in lock step. We need to consider all available evidence when determining what happened globally.

As for the "breaking ranks" stuff, I find it a little childish. But lets make this an experiment and see if my "alarmist brethren" do come crashing down on me. Why don't you let them know what I have done.


Perhaps YOU should take a moment to re-read my post. I never said that any climate scientist claimed that temperatures have NEVER been higher, at any point in time, than they are now (though many HAVE tried to claim that it has not occurred in the last 1,000 years.)

What I said was that you are the first alarmist I have seen ADMIT BOTH 1) that temperatures have been warmer in the past AND 2) that the RATE of warming was higher in the past. As for 1), as I have already stated, no one seriously denies that claim. However, until recently, there were several who studiously avoided ADMITTING it to be a fact. And I'm sure there are some who STILL have never publicly admitted that current temperatures are not the warmest ever. For instance, I don't think I've ever heard Al Gore or James Hanson say "The Jurassic Period was warmer than today". You see, it's one thing to "not deny" something. It's something entirely different to "admit" that same thing. Merely "not denying" it gives you an out. "Admitting" it pins you down. Cowards engage in "not denying". It takes courage to "admit". And that was what I was trying to applaud you for.

That said, my point was that, even among those alarmists who admit that the earth has been warmer in the past, no one admits that the RATE of warming was higher in the past. You, of course, are the exception to that. And for that, I applaud your courage again.

"I think it is [less] than useful to consider jumps of a few tenths of a degree, or even 1 or 1.5oC degrees, and especially if they are short lived."

I agree 100%. That is why I am not concerned about the warming that occurred between 1975 and 1998. That was 0.8 degrees C over 23 years. Even if you believe that the warming still continues to this day, you have, at best, 0.8 degrees over 33 years. That's what you have EMPIRICAL evidence for. What you are "expecting" is irrelevant, because it's based on unproven theories and models. Now, in 122-172 years, if you have an additional 2.2 degrees C warming, I might have to admit there's a problem. But you see, Coby, that is the whole point of comparing the current temperature increase to what happened in the past. If it happened in the past, before mankind could have caused it, then it's entirely possible that mankind isn't causing it now. And if we're not causing it, then, just like in the past, it will stop on its own, without our help.

Fact is, there simply is no RELIABLE measure of global average temperatures in the past. Oh there's all kinds of proxy data, like tree rings, and ice cores, and sediments, and hundreds of other things, most of which I don't even know about. But none of them are anywhere near 100% accurate indicators of even local temperatures. Except ice cores, but ice cores, obviously, are very limited in geographic availability. But then, so are all the others, in some way. The point is, to come up with a "global average temperature", you have to somehow average together a whole bunch of different TYPES of proxy data, each with their own estimation errors. And these estimation errors increase geometrically until the estimates themselves are meaningless. And, for most of these types of proxy data, there's some error in estimating the DATE of the data as well, which further increases the error of the estimates. And it is from these meaningless estimates that any statements about the historical rate of temperature change must come. The statements, therefore, are also meaningless.

You appear to realize this, but many of your fellow alarmists do not. No, I don't have quotes from climate scientists, but bloggers are throwing around statements like "The current rate of warming is 7 times as high as anything experienced in the last million years." Such a statement is just completely ridiculous, and I suspect you agree with me. Again, this didn't come from a bona fide climate scientist (though I suspect SOMEONE with SOME authority must have said it at some point, or the bloggers wouldn't be bandying it about like they are). But most of the public isn't getting their information on this subject from peer-reviewed journal articles, are they? So that's the kind of statement that people like me have to refute.

Thankfully, I don't have to refute such statements with you, since you have already admitted that the current rate of warming is not the highest ever experienced on this planet.

As for the Vostock Ice Core, yes, I understand that it is not a reliable proxy for GLOBAL average temperature. No, I can't assume that the global average temperature moves in lockstep with the temperature of that one specific geographic location. But that assumption is just as valid as the assumptions behind any set of "annual global average temperatures" constructed from a wide variety of different types of proxy data. The point, one that I've already made, is that plaeoclimatology is a guessing game. And any statements about what the climate did in the past are simply not supported by the available evidence, because the "available evidence" has far too much uncertainty. So, I'll agree that the Vostok Ice Core data is useless for the purpose of estimating historic temperatures, if you agree that all of the other proxy data sets, and even all combinations thereof, are equally useless, and we really don't have a clue how fast temperatures rose or fell in the past.


Trevor, it seems to me, is saying that because temps have risen in the past without human influence (or by implication, elevated CO2 levels) that we shouldn't be concerned about the apparent past connection between evidence of elevated temps and elevated CO2 levels. I'm not sure of what the purpose is of pointing that out in a forum essentially about increasing temps that *are* associated with increasing CO2 levels. It seems to me roughly akin to not considering murder as a cause of death merely because people frequently die of natural causes. Not a lynch pin by any stretch. Establishing the mere existence of death by natural causes is kind of impertinent when people are more or less matching up the bloody axe to the head wound. I wouldn't expect forehead-smacking and cries of "Brilliant!" if I did that at a crime scene, and neither should Trevor here.

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 10 Apr 2009 #permalink

Gosh, I haven't noticed any rapid climate change. I have never had any trouble adapting. It is kind of like racing a snail. Even if the snail goes 10 times faster, you can still beat it. So what is all the fuss about, huh? Just take a deep breath, breath out your CO2 and relax.

By William Pinn (not verified) on 13 Apr 2009 #permalink

William Pinn -

Do you know what is meant when people use the term Rapid climate change and what the consequences actually are? Or are you just being oh-so-clever?

Well, I guess if William isn't having a problem that pretty much settles the issue. Why so shy William? You got the bomb of a slam-dunk argument there. "Climate change (*yawn*) is hardly noticeable!". I mean it makes "weather" look like a Jason Statham movie by comparison. What was the big hold up rolling it out? Stop the presses! *EXTRA* "William: Not Bothered - At All!" Man, if you think climate change is barely noticeable you should get a load of some of the other branches of science. Microbiology, cosmology, geology? DNA, the expansion of the universe and plate tectonics are hardly worth paying any attention to at all.

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

"Well, I guess if William isn't having a problem that pretty much settles the issue. Why so shy William? You got the bomb of a slam-dunk argument there. "Climate change (*yawn*) is hardly noticeable!". I mean it makes "weather" look like a Jason Statham movie by comparison. What was the big hold up rolling it out? Stop the presses!"

LOL! If the media didn't beat the issue to death, I don't think you would notice any change either.

*EXTRA* "William: Not Bothered - At All!" Man, if you think climate change is barely noticeable you should get a load of some of the other branches of science. Microbiology, cosmology, geology? DNA, the expansion of the universe and plate tectonics are hardly worth paying any attention to at all."

Well you should not lose sleep over them, and public funds would be better spent finding a cure for cancer (a real problem) and not on a bunch of what-ifs.

By William Pinn (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

"William Pinn - Do you know what is meant when people use the term Rapid climate change and what the consequences actually are?"

Well no doubt the consequences are grim and will happen faster than you can say Y2K.

By William Pinn (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

That would be a "no", Adam. Clearly.

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

A change of 2 degrees per century is not in any way remarkable, in historic terms. For about the last nine thousand years temperature has exhibited increases and decreases of, on average, about two degrees per century. It is quite common. And much higher rates of change were common further back in time. Sorry Coby, but it is not "pretty non-controversial that 2oC/century is an extremely rapid rate." 2oC/century is low in the long view (tens of thousands of years), and about the norm in the short view (past ten thousand years).

Chris, it is very easy to make any claim you wish but unless you bother to provide the tiniest piece of evidence why would anyone trust it? Please substantiate your claim, it is a factual matter, not a question of opinion.

I have done so above with my claims and can provide you with more data to show that 2oC per century is rare in geological history. But rather than me showing more examples where temperature did not change that fast, show us one where it did.

William, Perhaps you're getting your information from something that isn't a "media"? I don't think so; largely in part because much of the so-called debate itself seems to me to be a product of the media not unlike the "debate" over Evolutionary *theories* being characterized as a debate over whether Natural Selection driven evolution ever happened at all.
Cancer is one of the worst analogies you could have made because cancer is often hardly noticeable as well. People have died unnecessarily because it is unnoticeable. The known causes for cancer are even less noticeable. Cancer fails William's Noticeablity Test. Therefore neither cancer itself nor its cause is no big deal (irony warning Jon and Paul). Of course people's unwillingness or inability to thoroughly investigate the cause and effect relationship - in phenomenon that are difficult or time consuming to directly observe - frequently compounds the problem or delays effective action until it's too late. Good luck with that William, but go ahead and keep getting that annual checkup though. I mean...you do *get* an annual checkup...don't you?

By BrianInSC (not verified) on 20 Apr 2009 #permalink

Here you go.


It is clear that 2 degrees per century is not unnatural, nor does it pose a danger to humans. We've been around four times longer than the time period that graph covers. The insanity needs to stop.

Of course when I say 'left' in the picture I mean 'right.' Oops.

Thanks for that Chris. Can you give us the context as well, where you got the link to that image? That is for my own curiosity, but I can tell you right now that this is an apples to oranges comparison, the GIPS ice core data represents a single location, not the globe, not even an entire region.

Hello Coby,

My opinion on rising sea levels : this is not a technological problem. Where I live (the Netherlands), large parts of the country are CURRENTLY below sealevel, some places even 7 (SEVEN !) meters. How do we do this ? Ask our engineers : we build the best dikes and dams in the world. It costs us a lot less then the financial crisis or our road system, almost every country can afford it.

Despite having to build and maintain this complex system (the "Delta Works" as it is called), we are one of the richest countries on earth. We could expand into the sea even more, but the political will is lacking (there have been studies to build new land in the North sea, just like it is done in Dubai).

Together with the Belgians (who also dammed in large "polder" areas), our companies have done land winning projects in Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan etc. With global warming, this expertise will be needed troughout the world, but as I said : this is a question of putting the engineers to work, it is not the end of civilisation.

Remember also that all coastal areas already HAVE water protection systems (for high waters etc), so it is a question of improving or replacing the current infrastructure.

What's more, our inhabitable/farmable land has INCREASED enormously by damming in large areas, the net effect of this has been very positif for our country. We can house more people and grow more crops.

Conclusion : technologies for containing the sea level rise exist, and their net effect throughout the world will be an INCREASE of the inhabitable coastal areas.

PS : It may be true that extremely poor countries will lose land, which of course is a sad thing.
But this will not be caused by global warming, but by retarded political systems, which is a much larger threat to poor countries than global warming.

I would also appreciate your opinion on the following : by increasing temperatures, the treeline (or more specifically, every currently existing climate zone) will move to the poles and higher in the mountains.

Thus, a lot of currently frozen land will become usable for agriculture.

Because the northern hemisphere has a lot of (currently unusable) land, this will result in a net INCREASE of usable land.

Where : mostly in Russia and Canada, but also in Scandinavia. Maybe even Greenland and Alaska.

Specific crops will be used in areas with less intense (but longer !) sunshine.
Working up the soil is a process which developed countries have been doing for decades now, like we did in the Netherlands, another example is Isreal.

The northern hemisphere will thus be blessed by higher temperatures.

Globally, bio-activity will increase by increased C02 levels and temperatures, just like in a greenhouse, where it's done on purpose.

My argument is basically : if human activity would make the world a COLDER place, this would be a big problem. WARMER temperatures on the other side are an opportunity. Humanity will have to adapt to this new situation but I don't think this will be problematic : all countries on earth have enough resources (sunlight, water, land) to provide for their own populations, it all depends on politics, not on global warming.

I agree that a lot of species which are currently in danger will die out in the wild, and this is very sad.

Jan said:

Thus, a lot of currently frozen land will become usable for agriculture.

Because the northern hemisphere has a lot of (currently unusable) land, this will result in a net INCREASE of usable land.

Where : mostly in Russia and Canada, but also in Scandinavia. Maybe even Greenland and Alaska.

This is a fallacy often trotted out by AGW deniers. it is completely false. Have you ever been to "northern" Canada where there is no agriculture? You do not have to go very far north of Edmonton to find vast areas which are not suitable for agriculture. These areas are referred to as muskeg.

They are not frozen. Agricultural land is found far further north than these areas eg. Peace River country, Fort Vermillion.

What most of the people who say that more land in Canada will become available for agriculture if temperatures increase do not understand is that it is not temperature which is restricting agricultural use but soil type. Soils take thousands of years to form or change. You cannot grow wheat or canola on the soils found in muskeg country.

Secondly, contrary to more AGW denier falsehoods, crops will not benefit from higher CO2 levels since a number of crops are already at their temperature limits (e.g. rice). Also, ground level ozone levels are expected to rise which inhibits plant growth.

So, trying to maintain reasonable CO2 levels is the only solution, not hoping for miracles from plant breeders and moving crops north.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 09 Aug 2009 #permalink

Hello Ian,

Thank you for you answer.

Muskeg appears in humid climates where the underlying soil is very hard, preventing water drainage in the ground.
I understand the muskeg you talk about is created by a rocky underground.

Most muskeg is created because of permafrost (quite a large area in the northern hemisphere) : temperatures in the summer are not warm enough to allow the underlying soil to unfreeze, creating the muskeg.

With global warming, existing permafrost zones (and thus muskeg and the transportation problems they create) will just move to the poles.
I think this is commen sense, this is a direct effect from global warming.
Most predictions also indicate a higher warming at the poles, so this effect will be particularly interesting to follow.
We will also see the treeline moving up in alpine regions, for exactly the same reason (higher temperatures allowing trees to grow in even higher regions).

Even in cloudy countries in the North like the Netherlands, we are able to harvest up to 10 tons of grain per hectare (10.000 sq meter). It will be quite easy to improve or create grain variants with good harvests for areas with less sunlight.

As for CO2 levels : in most greenhouses, CO2 is injected into the air, which increases the harvest substantially.
This effect is not equal for all plants, but all crops and plants profit from increased CO2 levels in the air (basis of photosynthesis).
Rice can be grown from tropical areas to Italy, I don't see how this could ever create a problem.
The effect of increased CO2 levels on plant life will not be enormous, but it will be measurable (and positif !).

Another thing : it does not take thousands of years to create a top soil usable for agriculture.

We in the Netherlands are the experts in creating new top soils in land winning projects. It took us years, not even decades, to do this.

Look for exemple to Flevoland. We had the additional problem that we had to create all of this under the sea level with a complex damm system. Canadians only have to work up the soil.

Of course, some places will be more fit for agriculture then others. This is currently already the case, even in the climate zones most suitable for agriculture.

Jan, I'm afraid you do not really know what you are talking about.

I do not have time to explain in detail at present why you are so wrong but will give a full response within a couple of days.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 12 Aug 2009 #permalink

In Australia today, the parliament will debate the implementation of an "Emissions Trading Scheme". (ETS) It is expected to be defeated by both the opposition and the Greens, but for different reasons. The Opposition says the ETS has been thrown together too quickly and is putting, basically, a tax on using energy. It will discourage big business to invest in energy usage, both renewable and non-renewable, and will destroy the economy of Australia and our immediate neighbours. The Austrailan Greens Party says the legislation doesn't go far enough, and wants a much higher tax on energy. In the media, it is being called an "ETS", or "Carbon Tax".
It occurs to me that those terms are very important for the credibility of believers of AGW. Carbon Dioxide is made of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen.
The proposed ETS therefore is a "tax" on our emissions of carbon and also oxygen.
If the vast uneducated masses realised this, the whole thing would lose a lot of credibility and the population would begin to question the whole concept of AGW.

I just thought I'd add that little point. I fully expect Ian and dhgaza to call me an idiot wot don't know wot I'm talkin' about.
Go Fish!

Michael said:

Carbon Dioxide is made of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen.
The proposed ETS therefore is a "tax" on our emissions of carbon and also oxygen.

The utter stupidity and ignorance of that statement just shows the level of understanding that AGW deniers have about science and climatology.

It is not even worthy of a reply.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 12 Aug 2009 #permalink

Well, thank you for your (unworthy) reply, Ian. It appears it WAS worth a reply after all.
Do you understand that I'm saying that from the point of view of the general population who are NOT educated in these matters?
Another thing along the same lines is (correct me if this is disputed) that Water Vapour is the most influential greenhouse gas. It is not included in the Kyoto Protocol (for example) and is never mentioned as something that influences the earth's climate. My point is, that if it were mentioned as being the most influential greenhouse gas, un-educated people would start to question the validity of the argument because in their minds; "how can water vapour be a bad thing?". The same applies when thinking about Carbon and Oxygen. "sure, I understand that Carbon could be bad, but surely Oxygen is ok? We need it to live!"

By my idiotic understanding, the AGW movement needs the support of the masses to "get up". If the language used is really dissected, the importance of "correct" language becomes obvious.
Do you understand that I'm suggesting this is the point of view of the un-educated, great un-washed?
(whether it's right or wrong)

But can't you see my point? In the popular media, water vapour is never mentioned.
I'd like to see what happens if the stuff I'm talking about got out into the popular media.
I understand the science may be innaccurate, and perhaps wrong, but the vast proportions of western populations who vote for the politicians wot implement "climate change action" get their scientific information from Entertainment Tonite! (as mentioned earlier in this thread)
A mainstream TV news bulletin here in Brisbane Australia last week, had a report about the protests occurring at the "climate change action" summit occurring in Fiji. One of the organisers of the protest said on the news report that "Climate Change (AGW) is causing the islands of Fiji to sink."
After the relatively recent earthquake in China, on the news here, a "climate change advocate" said that AGW would be causing more earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic erruptions!
My point is that the un-educated hear this rubbish and continue to support the movement based on alarmist, "chicken little" style nonsense.

Michael, dont worry about Coby he has been a bit grumpy of late, i suspect his new baby is keeping him up half the night, i know i am a bit grumpy when mine does.

I agree with you CPRS is an incorrect term to use, maybe they thought CDPRS was too long a title but yes neither the element Carbon or the molecule carbon dioxide are pollutants.

The reason why water vapor is never spoke of is because WV is considered a feed back not a forcing. Of course without WV the claims of catastrophic climate change (CCC) will not occur but without the increase in the forcing of CO2 then CCC would not occur either, understand now?

The point is the only information given to the Australian public is scary stories about CCC all of which originates from increases in CO2, not one scientific fact about the inner workings of the climate or greenhouse effect are mentioned and this is so they can sell the tax based on guilt.

This has worked quite well over the years as everyone i speak to has absolutely no idea about global warming, only that the gubbermint said it was our fault.

And the bullshit is flying thick and fast in the senate as i type, for example Al Gore in his movie stated that the Himalayan glaciers were melting and this would mean that 25% of the worlds population would be without fresh water.

This claim was proved to be incorrect many years ago as the ranking expert on the glaciers M I Bhat who has the advantage of access to 200 years of data says there is nothing remarkable in the current advance and retreat of the galciers but also the fresh water of which Gore spoke came from winter snowfall and not the glaciers. A quick check of the sat data shows the amount of snowfall has not changed in the past 30 years.

But yet we have Senator John Kerry in early August 2009 making the exact same false claims as Gore did a few years earlier.

And now we have a Labor senator making the exact same false claims yesterday in the Senate.

Now OK lets give Gore the benefit of the doubt and he simply misspoke, however once these clains were shown to be false then Kerry and the idiotic Labour senator are smply telling lies.

That is the only way they can get what they want Michael, by telling lies.

Thank you craker14.
I agree with you and thank you for your support. I guess we'll have to wait for the Anthropogenic Global Turning to bring morning to other parts of the world for responses from those opposed.

I was just listening to Brisbane Talk-Back radio, and the announcer was reading out a "comparison" of how much CO2 Australia produces compared to the rest of the world. (Appropriate because the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was defeated in Parliament today)
I'm trying to find a copy of it, but it was using the example of the distance of 1 kilometre and associating the various atmospheric gases with distance in relation to a kilometre. Nitrogen was over 700 metres, then oxygen was a certain distance etc. The amount of CO2 emitted by the entire population of humanity is 12centimetres, and the total amount of CO2 emitted by Australia is 0.18millimetres!
That means that comparitively, in one kilometre, the size of Australia's CO2 emissions is roughly equivalent to the thickness of a human hair!
The proposed ETS that thankfully was defeated today would reduce that human hair by 5 percent! The Greens voted against the ETS because they wanted to reduce that human hair by 50%! (some wags have referred to the ETS as the Employment Termination Scheme, or the Extra Tax Scheme)

I think it puts a perspective on it that even I (an idiot) can understand.

Regards to all,

Ooh! I just thought of something else too.
(I wanted to mention this a while ago but it must have "slipped my feeble") haha!
One of the alleged effects of AGW is more severe weather systems and more frequent and severe hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons etc.
I'd just like to ask what the current thinking is on that, because I remember reading a long time ago, before I'd heard of AGW, that the severity of weather systems is dependent on the temperature DIFFERENCE between masses of air.
If the earth as a whole were to warm, wouldn't that mean that the temperature differential were LESS, thereby DECREASING the severity of weather systems?

Just thought I'd put it out there...
Cheers everyone!

Here is the link to the Brisbane Talk-Back radio station blog as mentioned above.

It may not be terribly scientific, but it makes sense to me.

The point is that Australia's government tried to introduce a new "tax" on the contribution of it's citizens and industry to carbon pollution, in a sure fire way to prevent the Fijian Islands from sinking any further! (quoting one of the protestors from the TV news)

Over and out!

By the way, Coby...
I believe in the importance of using correct language for clarity.
I have felt irked for a while that you use the sentence "how to talk to a climate skeptic".
I am not a Climate Skeptic. In fact I agree strongly that we do indeed have a climate.
I am also NOT a Climate Change Skeptic. I agree vehemently that the climate of the earth (among other things) changes quite often.

I'd just ask that you change the wording (wherever it appears) to what I believe is the more correct: "How to Talk to an AGW Skeptic" , or "How to Talk to a Human Induced Global Warming Skeptic". You know what I mean...
I know it's a mouthful, and I'm certainly being pedantically painful, but I think it's important.


The best one i heard was Elephant Testical Syndrome (ETS), yes you are right, in theory "acts of God" should decrease somewhat, the scary stories that promote an increase in "acts of God" are usually left to people like Al Gore and Jimbo Hansen to promote. The IPCC have said that you cannot attribute individual "acts of God" to AGW but this does not stop them peddling their wares around the world.

In fact truth be known there is no trend up or down in "acts of God" from around the world over the past 30 years or more. Not sure about Fiji but the sea levels around the Maldives has not changed in the last 1250 years.

crakar, how about a quote of Hansen saying anything remotely similar to an attribution of an act of God to GW? Bet you can't even find Al Gore making any such claim.

Reality matters to some of us.


Here in Australia if your home is damaged by floods, storms, cyclones etc etc it is covered under your insurance as an "act of God". Obviously in Canada when this happens you can physically sue someone for the damage but not here so it is called an act of God. This is something i am sure Micheal understood. If you think i was saying Gore/Hansen quoted God then you are quite mistaken.

So rather than direct all the darts you throw at people to useless undebateable minor issues why dont you not waste your time not on me but answer Michaels very relavent questions.

Thanks craker14,
You are exactly correct in each point you make.
Short, sharp criticisms of undebateable comments seem to be the norm.
For obviously no other reason than media sensationalism, the TV news found people to interview during the horrible Victorian bushfires that blamed AGW for those fires and warned that AGW will cause more fires like this, as well as floods, sea level rises etc. I actually saw it as a positive thing because even the uneducated masses know that there have been fires the same, and worse than that on the earth for some time. (at least 20 years!) haha!
(I noticed that there was a distinct lack of talk about the amount of carbon released by those fires. There was much debate about the fact that the regular controlled burns to prevent the build-up of groundcover fuel had been stopped by the "green movement". Perhaps that's why there was no talk, that I heard anyway, about the carbon released...)
I suspect that with more and more of such rediculous comments as this and those above, AGW will lose it's emotional momentum because it will become sillier and sillier.

Coby, I'd appreciate a response, but, I myself have four kids and know well the torment of many sleep deprived nights. So, in your own time...
Cheers to all.

Yes you are right, increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere caused the bush fires and it will cause a lot more. I guess that means my fire extinguisher with all that CO2 in it will now be useless at putting out fires.

I will now illustrate why Jan is so wrong in his understanding of the effects of higher CO2 concentrations on agricultural crops.

I will start of by responding to his comment:

Another thing : it does not take thousands of years to create a top soil usable for agriculture.
We in the Netherlands are the experts in creating new top soils in land winning projects. It took us years, not even decades, to do this.

Jan it is not âtop soilâ which is lacking, it is the complete absence of any soil horizons at all. As you go north in Canada you either get into muskeg country or the Canadian Shield. Neither of these areas has much soil at all since it was mostly scraped off during the last ice age and dumped on what is now the prairies. Thus we would have to create brand new soil horizons. Unless we use gigantic crushing and milling machines we have to wait for thousands of years for natural processes (weathering and microbial breakdown of the bedrock) to produce any soil at all. Then you have to wait another long time for a topsoil to form from decaying biomass. This cannot be accomplished in a matter of years which is what is required if conditions render arable land now in production barren.
What the Dutch did was create topsoil on much smaller areas, not creating soil from scratch.
Your comments about CO2 and plant productivity are also wrong. In agricultural crops, as opposed to greenhouse crops, CO2 is never limiting. What limits most agricultural crops is either low levels of inorganic fertilizer (N, P or K) or water. Thus higher CO2 will have negligible effect unless one or more of the limiting factors are removed. This will be very costly.
Secondly, the biochemistry of photosynthesis does not support your naive beliefs. The key biochemical step in photosynthesis is the action of the enzyme RUBISCO which is responsible for the fixation of CO2 into organic molecules.
Early studies showed that the enzymatic activity of isolated RUBISCO (the enzyme responsible for the fixing of CO2 into organic metabolites) was increased at higher temperatures and higher CO2 concentrations. The researchers argued that this would be good for agriculture since it would allow for higher yields (forget about water and available nitrogen for now). However, there were always problems in getting reproducible levels of RUBISCO activity (preparations had to be aged and/or treated to give maximum activity).
Later research has shown that there is another layer of regulation affecting RUBISCO activity (as is common with many enzyme system). A new enzyme, RUBISCO activase, was found to be responsible for converting âinactiveâ to âactiveâ RUBISCO and, surprise surprise, this new enzyme was found to be inhibited by higher temperatures and also inhibited by higher CO2 concentrations.
This finding is probably responsible for the contradictory results found in experiments where varying temperatures and CO2 concentrations on plant growth have been conducted.
A list of papers describing the effects of higher temperatures and higher CO2 concentrations can be found here:
Higher temperatures mean increased ground level ozone concentrations in fields. This results in about 20% reduction in yields of some crops:
Long SP, Ainsworth EA, Leakey ADB, Morgan PB (2005) Global food insecurity. Treatment of major food crops with elevated carbon dioxide or ozone under large-scale fully open-air conditions suggests recent models may have overestimated future yields. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 360: 2011-2020.
Higher temperatures also do not result in higher yields of some crops, especially rice.
Peng at al. âRice yields decline with higher night temperature from global warming
PNAS July 6, 2004 vol. 101 no. 27 9971-9975 (http://www.pnas.org/content/101/27/9971.fulâ
âHere we report that annual mean maximum and minimum temperatures have increased by 0.35°C and 1.13°C, respectively, for the period 1979â2003 and a close linkage between rice grain yield and mean minimum temperature during the dry cropping season (January to April). Grain yield declined by 10% for each 1°C increase in growing-season minimum temperature in the dry season, whereas the effect of maximum temperature on crop yield was insignificant. This report provides a direct evidence of decreased rice yields from increased nighttime temperature associated with global warmingâ.
Thus the naive idea that increasing CO2 will be good for agricultural production is just not shown to be true for all types of crops. Higher CO2 may cause a decrease in yield; higher temperatures, especially at nighttime will cause a decrease in yield of certain crops; and low level ozone will cause a decrease in yield. Not a very bright picture for agriculture if we continue to pump out limitless quantities of CO2.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 15 Aug 2009 #permalink

Ian Forrester, thanks for that post. Very enlightening.

Amusing that Australians of all people, would gamble on the climate science being wrong, given how dry much of the country is.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 15 Aug 2009 #permalink

Hi Ian,
Thanks for posting all that info. I appreciate that you are obviously well versed in agricultural science. I will try to digest all of the info. (by the way, the first link didn't work) I want to be well informed on all aspects of this debate.
May I ask your opinion of my last few posts?
I realise that this is meant to be a scientific blog, and what I'm writing is not especially scientific, but I think it's appropriate because the information that is readily accessible to the general public is not scientific either, just emotive.
My main problem is that I'm getting all this conflicting evidence, which seems to depend entirely on who wrote it.

Coby, just quickly, regarding the comment you made about "taxing electrons" (#47), the non-scientific population knows very well, that "pollution" is also made of protons and electrons, but that Oxygen is not a pollutant.
We need oxygen to live. Everyone knows that. When a non-scientific person hears the word "carbon" they think of black soot or coal, which of course is "dirty". It's a very unpleasant thought to have all that black soot up in the sky warming the earth. The ONLY image the main-stream news shows when talking about AGW is the dirty chimney spewing out filthy black soot or filthy dark coloured steam.
They don't think of the little carbon dioxide molecule as being both carbon (sooty) and oxygen, which we need to breathe.
Carbon and Carbon Dioxide are both just as essential for life on earth as oxygen is.
I say again, that if the general population realised this, they would start to question the whole concept of carbon being bad.
Am I making sense? I am not speaking scientifically because the vast proportion of the population is not scientific. The credibility of the AGW debate seems to depend to a large extent on distinctly un=scientific information and emotions.
I look forward to some reasoned, non-scientific (preferably non-abusive) reply.

Just quickly Dappled Water,
I am indeed in Brisbane, Australia. It is currently 5pm on a perfect Sunday afternoon. Having travelled a bit in the world, we are blessed in Brisbane to have a winter that is a lot like a northern European summer. (of course in summer it can be quite stiflingly hot)

Could you clarify though, just regarding your remark about Australia being dry; by my reading, it is Global Cooling that causes deserts to form, not warming. Can this be right?
It is common knowledge, taught in schools that central Australia, now a desert, was once an ocean. There are sea shells, and fossilised marine creature's skeletons in the desert sands. I wonder if other deserts of the world have similar records? (I'm asking)

How nice for you Michael. Sadly much of Australia is nothing like Brisbane, especially in regard to rainfall and drought. Something you may have picked up on living and travelling in the "lucky country". So looking out your window is not a reliable indicator.

Secondly, maybe you're genuinely confused, but increased evaporation due to increased temperatures won't be good for many growing regions in Australia, least of all those that depend on water from the Murray-Darling basin, which are currently stressed. Warming will only be of benefit if it causes a shift in weather patterns leading to increased rainfall in dry areas. Could this happen?. Perhaps, but I've not found any studies that suggest this. Increased temperatures without increased rainfall is a recipe for disaster for those already stressed regions.

Your reference to "Global cooling" and aridity, is an "oldie" that I've seen many times before. You imply that warming equals less desert. Maybe on timescales that are not of any use to humans, but within this century?. Don't think so. A bit of reading if you're so inclined:


Yes, I'm aware that central Australia was not always desert, same for the Sahara. Heck, even the driest place on Earth, Antarctica, once had thriving life. None of which is relevant of course. We know that Australia had droughts long before CO2 emissions became a problem, climate change is just going to amplify the effects big time.

Your "lucky country" is going to be probably the first developed nation to suffer, first hand, from climate change that's why I'm surprised at your attitude.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 15 Aug 2009 #permalink

I say again, that if the general population realised this, they would start to question the whole concept of carbon being bad.

And when I'm sure they realize that water is essential to life, they're going to start questioning the wisdom of putting lifeboats on ships.

Gack: And I'm sure when they realize...

HA! Good one Doh! Gaza!
Keep 'em comin'!


Your position is that Al Gore is a hypocrite, therefore global warming is a scam? That nonsense might fly on Free Republic, but if you want to try to carry on a discussion with people who know what they're talking about, you're going to have to do better than tu quoque attacks


Re post #60.

Australia is a vast continent slightly smaller than the USA, however the geography is completely different, the only mountenous regions of any significance is the great dividing range which runs up the east coast from Victoria through NSW and into Queensland. This range forms a barrier to the inland country. On the ocean side of this range we get a lot of rainfall but on the inland side we get very little. Apart from this one significant range Australia itself is largly flat, for example Coober Pedy which is approx. 700 kilometers (438 miles) north of Adelaide is only 193 meters above sea level, Alice Springs is 600 meters above sealevel and Mount Isa is 350 meters above sea level. The weather across this continent can vary significantly depending on where you are.

The top end of Australia (Darwin and surrounds), the north west cape of Western Australia and the far North Queensland regions are subject to monsoonal activity. These regions recieve some of the highest annual rainfall anywhere on the planet.

The lower part of Queensland and the upper part of New South Wales are subjected to tropical conditions but not as much as northern regions, these regions seem to get a lot of rain when the PDO is negative and we have La Nina conditions, this was proved correct earlier this year as the entire area was subjected to flooding and the Warburton and Diamantina rivers broke their banks and flooded Lake Eyre. This event happens about once every ten years. This is why a very famous poet wrote a poem which included the lyrics "droughts and flooding plains".

The south and south east of Australia which includes Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and also Hobart has rainfall which depends very heavily on the Indian dipole, IDP(Indian Ocean). When the Indian dipole is in a negative phase this allows weather patterns to form which give these regions a lot of rain, when it is in its positive phase we get less rain. The Indian dipole has been in its positive phase since 1992. This coupled with the very strong El Ninos of the 1990's led to a decreasing amount of rainfall over these areas.

The interior of the continent is in permanent drought which is why these regions are called "deserts". In fact the only state which does not include a desert is Tasmania.

As Michael eluded to much of this area is an ancient sea bed, there are many salt lakes that you can drive by which are below sea level. This area gets rainfall very infrequently, always has and always will. There is nothing out there not even a tree for hundreds of kilometers.

When you take into consideration all of the above, i would be interested in hearing your thoughts on what exactly are we gambling with, is there any evidence which shows that the theory of AGW will have an effect on the PDO or the IDP, how about the La Nina and Elnino events? I am sure you could point me in the direction of a computer model which could tell me the preprogrammed thoughts of the software developer who wrote the program, but can you point me in the direction of any hard evidence which may support the gamble of which you speak.



Michael, if you change the ".htm" to ".pdf" I think the link will then work. I'm not sure why ARS changed these links. I have other ARS links which I found to be broken, I will try the same remedy on them.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 16 Aug 2009 #permalink

To be fair Adam, Al Gore is a hypocrit he is also a buffoon, liar, snake oil salesman and a ex politician. Whilst this does not support in any way that GW is a scam it should make even the most rabid beleiver take a second look.

Do you agree?

Adam, that is a great "cherry-pick"!
In my opinion, Mr Gore's hypocrisy is perfectly understandable. He is personally keeping up the momentum of the whole issue by travelling around the world giving his Sermons.
The most practical way to travel around the world is by jet plane. He justifies his own carbon footprint by buying "carbon credits" from a company that he owns!
Living as we do in a modern, wealthy society depends on using energy.
So far, there are no solar or wind powered jet planes.
The venues in which he gives the Sermons, at least in Australia, are ALL powered by electricity generated by a carbon producing source. The only practical way he can convince the governments of the world to buy carbon credits from his company is to travel around in a carbon emitting plane. (otherwise it would take too long!)
I would like to state my position again.

POLLUTION is what I believe to be the real environmental issue of our time, NOT AGW!
I do not believe that Carbon and Carbon Dioxide, whether released naturally or by mankind, is having any effect whatsoever on the temperature or climate of the earth.

Clear enough?

"i would be interested in hearing your thoughts on what exactly are we gambling with, is there any evidence which shows that the theory of AGW will have an effect on the PDO or the IDP, how about the La Nina and Elnino events?" - Crakar.

Exactly my point. (see post #63). If none of those change and bring more rainfall, then increased temperatures will bring greater evaporation. More water loss from the soil. Easy enough for you to understand?.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 16 Aug 2009 #permalink

From a logical point of view, no it is not easy to understand.

Assuming none of those change and there is greater evaporation?

Lets take it for granted that CO2 increases will lead to a very slight increase in temps then exactly how much extra evaporation are we talking about DW?

Of course if there is more evaporation then there must be more rainfall which in turn returns moisture back to the soil of whence it came which in turn cools the planet(hydrologic cycle) or does this WV magically stay up there in the sky.

Easy enough for you to understand?

You see the problem is you speak of scary stories backed up by the Gores and Hansens of this world but not much science.

In regards to the "stressed Murry river", the Murray and its secondary rivers get its water from the snow melt in the Alpine regions, i use the words "alpine regions" with a bit of a smirk as it is not a true alpine region and the snowfall can be very modest most years with virtually no snow duriing summers. Anyway this is where it gets a vast majority of its water, the land that it travels through is semi arid and has been for many years before man arrived.

So the lack of water in the Murry has little to do with drought or less rain, i have a good suggestion about how to fix the problem though, why dont we stop sucking water out of it so we can grow cotton, rice (probably the two most water intensive crops you can grow) and also stop growing cheap shitty grapes used to make cheap shitty wine that we sell to the yanks.

We can also remove all the dams, wiers and water redirections various state governments have allowed to be built over the years, hows that for a good start DW?

Hi Dappled Water,
In your post #63, you said that the desertification of Antarctica is not relevant. May I ask why it's not relevant?
Also, where did the water come from that caused the "inland sea" of the Australian continent? Perhaps the sea shells and fish fossils are remnants of Gondwanaland which may or may not have had an ocean in the middle. If warming caused the deserts to form, what caused the warming?
Indeed, if cooling caused the deserts to form, what caused the cooling?
Perhaps a generally warmer earth, had MORE evaporation, MORE precipitation, and MORE life.
I have been lucky enough to travel extensively in the outback of Australia, especially Far North Queensland. I was involved for sometime in designing, and installing Remote Area Power Supplies for remote properties. I used Photovoltaic panels in every single installation.
I am a big supporter of alternative energy sources, sustainability, and the environment. I just don't think Carbon is the cause of it.
My attitude is that the entire world is going to benefit if the earth warms, not suffer. I sincerely believe that humans cannot do anything to affect the entire climate. (carbon or otherwise)
We can certainly affect local weather, with pollution, heat island effect etc. You only have to have seen California in the 70's and Hong Kong right now to know that.
I believe a lot of money and time is being wasted on arguing about, and reducing carbon, when we should be spending those vast amounts of money in getting clean drinking water and reliable electricity to the poor communities of Australia, Africa, South/North America, etc.
Thereby creating SUSTAINABLE communities and cities. How many billions have been spent so far on endless meetings, summits, and enquiries? Surely it could be spent more efficiently and productively...?
I welcome your thoughts, opinions and answers.

Crakar, so you think extra water evaporating from Australian soil, say the Murray-Darling Basin, is going to magically end up back in said soil?. How amusing. Believe in the tooth fairy too?.

Here's what some actual experts think on the MDB:

Cai, W., and T. Cowan (2008), Evidence of impacts from rising temperature on inflows to the Murray-Darling Basin, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L07701, doi:10.1029/2008GL033390.
Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 35, Issue 7, CiteID L07701

"The 2001-2007 Australian drought was the hottest on record with inflows to Australia's longest river system, the Murray-Darling, reaching an historical low. Here we examine the relative importance of rising temperature and decreasing rainfall over its catchment, the Murray Darling Basin (MDB). Although annual-total inflow is more sensitive to rainfall over the southern MDB, where rainfall since 2001, has been the lowest on record, this alone can not explain the observed inflow decline. A relationship exists between inflow variations and fluctuations of temperature not associated with rainfall in the austral winter and spring: a rise of 1°C leads to an approximate 15% reduction in the climatological annual inflow. Our results provide strong evidence that rising temperatures due to the enhanced greenhouse effect have a strong impact on southern Australia's water resources, in addition to any reduction in rainfall, and project a long-term decline in inflows to this river system as the greenhouse effect continues."

The Murray Darling Basin Authority states: " In the latest Murray-Darling Basin Authority drought update released today (06.08.09) Chief Executive Mr Rob Freeman says Murray System inflows for July were about 330 GL. This was well above the historic minimum of 130 GL (in July 2006), but still only about 30 per cent of the long term average (1,170 GL)."

"The total volume of water in all Basin storages managed by the MDBA and by State governments, has increased by only 900 GL over the last two months to about 21per cent of capacity."

"With another El Nino event predicted to bring dry conditions, the overall outlook for the 2009- 10 water year unfortunately remains very poor."

Doesn't look too rosy to me. Especially those pesky scientists telling all and sundry that climate change (specifically temperature) will exaggerate the loss of soil moisture.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 16 Aug 2009 #permalink

Hi Dappled Water,
If the greenhouse effect is causing enhanced evaporation of water from the ground, where does the water go?
My understanding of the "Water cycle" is basically, that there is evaporation, precipitation, etc.
Is the El nino, or La Nina caused by the greenhouse effect?

When I cast my filthy denying eye over the par you've quoted, I think they left out the real cause of the water shortage in the MDB, which is AWM! (Anthropogenic Water
It has been discussed for many years that the growing of water thirsty crops such as rice and cotton, especially at the "top" of the catchment, would cause trouble WHEN drought came. I emphasise WHEN because Australian farmers know that drought and flood are part of farming in Australia.
It may be the longest drought on record, but it's certainly not the first, and it won't be the last.
Here are two links to help paint a picture...


Michael, ummmmm...........what do you think reduced inflows are?. Crakar's little idea, which you seem to have repeated, isn't working out too well in real life. Even the best possible water management will eventually fail if increasing temperatures don't bring increased inflows. Something the experts and reality clearly agree on.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 17 Aug 2009 #permalink

Ummmm, does "reduced inflow" mean a lessening of stuff flowing in?
By "Crakar's Little idea" do you refer to the growing of "thirsty" crops?
Over the last 15 to 20 years in the area of the Darling River, there's been an increasing number of "green" policies implemented not for saving water or keeping farms productive, but for "land conservation". This seems to mean "keeping people from using the land". There are laws in place now in Northern NSW that require farmers to pay for a permit to cut down one tree, or build a dam. I don't know what the cost is, but I understand it can be prohibitive.

If there is such a thing as "the best possible management", we haven't seen it used in the MDB.
Would you mind responding to my other points above as well?
I'd like your opinion.


The inability of some to comprehend the written word is staggering.

No DW if water evaporates from one point it is highly unlikely it will fall as rain in exactly the same spot.

Here is a link that supports my original post although i feel it may be wasted on someone as illiterate as you.


Here is another hot off the press which also supports my statements


If you read this carefully you will glean two very important pieces of information,

1) This cotton farm has the water storage capacity of Sydney Harbour (thats a lot of river water isnt it!!)

2) Even if the QLD gov. by this property and its water allocation the NSW gov. would then have to re buy the water allocation from farms in that state.

Hopefully by now you realise that the MDB is knackered not by drought but by government and commercial greed.

Oh by the way you have heard about the plight of the lower lakes (murray mouth) here in SA, Do you think if the SA gov. removed its multiple dams, weirs and barrages the mouth of the river would once again flow?

Are you aware that the river mouth is supposed to be a tidal delta? Well it was until the SA gov. stuck a barrage across it.

Crakar, neither of those links support you view that increasing temperatures will bring increased rainfall to the region. It's not me with the comprehension difficulty and illiteracy problem.

I have no argument with water mis-management and increased agricultural production accelerating the reduced flows. It's clearly what has happened, and I have never disputed it. You however suggest that said mis-management and increased use of the supply is the only reason, which is demonstrably wrong. I've provided authoratative information and links pointing out that inflows to the catchment area have dropped drastically, and that increased temperatures will only compound water loss.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 17 Aug 2009 #permalink

DW, you are right neither does support increased rainfall etc, thats because its your magic CO2 theory not mine.

There is no doubt that inflows to the Murray might be effected by local rainfall along its route from its beginnings in the alpine region of NSW to the oceans of SA but this local rainfall is few and far between. Most of its route is through parched and arid environments which is the agriculture around it needs to get all of its water from the Murray (have you ever driven through this area?).

The 3 major tributries of the Murray are the Darling, Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers, from the link i supplied previously here is an excerpt.

"The Darling and Lachlan basins. These have extremely variable flows from year to year, with the smallest annual flow being typically as little as 1 percent of the long-term mean and the largest often more than ten times the mean. Periods of zero flow in most rivers can extend to months and in the drier parts (Warrego, Paroo and Lower Darling basins) to years[2]. Flows in these rivers are not strongly seasonal. Though in the north most floods occur in the summer from monsoonal penetration, in most of the Darling and Lachlan catchments it is typical to see high or low flows begin in winter and extend to the following autumn"

Take note of this statement,

"Though in the north most floods occur in the summer from monsoonal penetration"

Now less than 12 months ago the southern QLD and northern NSW rivers flooded twice in 3 months this event happens about every tens years or so, the latest flooding is beleived to be caused by the -ve PDO and a La Nina, anyway all of this flooding "in theory" should have increased the inflows into the Murray.

Here is another excerpt

"The Murrumbidgee, Murray and Goulburn basins (except the Broken River which resembles the south-western basins). Because these catchments have headwaters in alpine country with relatively young peaty soils, the runoff ratios are much higher than in other parts of the basin. Consequently, although gross precipitation variability is no lower than in the Lachlan or Darling basins, runoff variability is markedly lower than in other parts of the basin. Typically these rivers never cease to flow and the smallest annual flow is typically around 30 percent of the long-term mean and the largest around three times the mean. In most cases the flow peaks very strongly with the spring snow melt and troughs in mid-autumn."

Take note of this statement;

"In most cases the flow peaks very strongly with the spring snow melt and troughs in mid-autumn."

Now keep in mind that by summer there is NO SNOW on the mountains here in Australia so all the snow melts and runs into the rivers. In 2007 the snow depth was the largest in 17 years and in 2008 the snow depths smashed all records therefore "in theory" we should have seen increased flows into the Murray.

However as you say the inflows into the Murray are declining, but how can this be DW? The combination of the northern flood waters and the increased snow melt should have increased the inflows but it did not happen.

Could it be that all that extra water was diverted to grow rice, cotten, citrus fruit and grapes? If not where could it have gone?

In summary we have abused the river system to the point were it is broken and when we have a drought which we Inevitably do we just keep on taking out the water. If we shut down all the rice, cotten and grape growing,released all the water that is being greedily held back and removed all the barrages here in SA then the river would be ok.

It has nothing to do with AGW or any other flights of fancy.

Nice graph, however you have a rather naive interpretation of the data. The long term trend is of no consequence, and in this instance it would be misleading. Why?. Because if you look at that graph since 2000 there have been 2 near record low rainfall years, and a total of 8 consecutive years of below average rainfall. It often takes a number of years of well above rainfall to break a drought and return to "normal" conditions because the soils and underlying strata become so parched. Any farmer worth his or her salt would be able to quickly point this out to you.

Don't have time, at the moment, to correct the rest of your misinterpretations but post #82 gave me a few chuckles. I'll be baaaack.

By Dappled Water (not verified) on 19 Aug 2009 #permalink

Hey Dappled Water,
In between chuckles, could you give me your opinion on MY posts? Say, from #79?

Perhaps if you chuckle at Crakar14's posts, you are rolling on the floor, laughing out loud at mine?
I'd like a reasoned opinion...

Global warming is good. We are about half way through about a 20K interglacial period. We can adapt to global warming even fast warming but the real human hardship will come at the end of the interglacial period. There is in fact many silver linings with global warming. If we can postpone the next glacial period by even a few thousand years with greenhouse gases, future generations will be grateful.

When the global warming establishment does not agree that anything good, I mean nowhere in the world will anything be better off, then you know its more of a psuedo-science/religion at worst and politics at best than good science.

Global warming is good

Finally an up-to-date denialist who openly admits warming is real!

There is in fact many silver linings with global warming. If we can postpone the next glacial period by even a few thousand years with greenhouse gases, future generations will be grateful.

Yes! Ignore the next century or two, the human calamity is nothing next to delaying the next ice age by some tens of thousands of years! Those people will be happy that millions died now!

Crakar, I have only recently become aware that you are based in Oz. Why is it that so many of the voices of sanity in this debate are located down under? Advance Australia Fair, I say.

God bless you, Coby! You have the patience of a saint, listing the myriad arguments against global warming. I'm worried what will become of the human race if we are seriously as in denial as some people seem to be. I just read in the NYT that people are saying that CO2 is good for plants, and not a harmful gas!

I guess paprika isn't so bad until it accumulates into a layer 3 foot thick in your house!

The science may be complex, but the idea is pretty simple, really, and most of the people on the site do get it. We need to reduce our population and stop polluting so much. It won't be easy, or fun, but we have to do it. I wonder why its so hard to believe, or understand :(


CO2 is good for plants and you produce it in large quantities everytime you exhale so i am not sure how harmful it is.

Do you have any preferred method of reducing the population?


Shit is good for plants and I produce it every day as well (some might say I produce it when I speak), but I tend to think it would be pretty harmful to eat, just as CO2 is harmful to inhale in large quantities (fatal above about 5% concentration).

And I have a suggestion for reducing the population. Everyone who says CO2 is not harmful should be made to breath it.

Shit produces methane re your last post in "a chillinng effect...."

I was thinking something more along the lines of the sacrifice of your first born child. We could hold it at the MCG at half time in the footy, what do you think?

As many of you may be aware, we are in the middle of an election campaign here in Australia. As well as the mainstream parties, there are obvioulsy a range of fringe parties who are mostly single issue such as the 'Sex Party' (I'll vote for that!!) and the 'Non-custodial Parent Party'. All of these are harmless, and none of them will get sufficient votes to get a seat in parliament. Despite this, I thought I would post this offering from the 'Climate Skeptics' party, just to highlight the sort of moronic views which are held by some of the fuckwits out there in the wider community. In response to a question put to all the parties on their climate change policies and how they might mitigate the effects on poorer nations, the 'Skeptics' offered this response:

"....We believe that the scientific evidence clearly shows that we cannot expect carbon dioxide emissions to significantly warm the world. There is strong proof that the world experienced both higher temperatures and higher rates of warming prior to the post WWII industrialisation and experiments prove that the warming effect of each additional part per million of carbon dioxide dramatically diminishes as the total concentration increases.

However, increased concentrations of carbon dioxide do have the scientifically proven benefit of accelerating plant growth and therefore food production.

Therefore the best thing we can do for poor countries is emit as much carbon dioxide as possible to help increase crop yields and reduce starvation...."

I can only shake my head in disbelief (apart from wanting to punch some sense into the heads of the idiots who hold such views).

Just to echo Mandas's thoughts.

The 3 major parties also have a climate change policy.

The greens policy is to shut down the national power grid and go back to the horse and cart.

The labour policy as of November 2009 was driven by two statements "climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our generation" and "delaying is denyiing". Now with an election looming Labor have decided to randomly tap 150 people on the shoulder and ask them their opinions. Apparently this new version of consensus will be used to drive their AGw policies, or will it? The leader of Labor has said on more than one occasion that she is a firm believer in AGW and she will act, a tax on co2 will be the jewel in the crown, of course a tax on co2 will not actually reduce CO2 emissions but simply make it more expensive.

So why the random selection consensus policy? This is just a delaying (is denying) tactic till after the election, once re elected and bound to honour a secret back room deal in her quest for power with Greens she will then unveil a Labor/Green climate policy.

The Liberals have a climate policy which does not include a tax on co2 but rather a reduction in CO2 by other means which will actually reduce CO2 emissions.

Unfortunately Mandas will not be here to see the Liberal policy as he will be living in NZ enjoying the fruits of their tax on co2.

No prizes for guessing which political party you support then crakar (not that there was ever any doubt), given your slightly hysterical and somewhat biased view of the Greens and Labor.

Its the party who's leader has, at various times stated that:

The science of climate change was highly contentious, but thought the coalition should pass the ETS because it wasn't good to be 'browner than Howard' on the issue (July 2009); climate change is absolute crap (October 2009); crap was hyperbole and not a considered position (December 2009); described as a 'weathervane' on climate change policy (January 2010); in favour of direct action on climate change (now).

And of course, direct action will come at a cost of $2.5 billion / annum which - according to crakar at least - will be provided without taxing carbon. I need to let you on a little secret crakar (since I work in the public service I know these things). Governments don't have any money - it all comes from tax! Hence, if the $2.5 billion does not come from taxing carbon, it will come from taxing something else (ie you and me).


For quite a few years now i have voted for Skippy the Kangaroo, i know his policies may be a little vague but i feel he has more brains than all past and present pollies combined. Oh and no it is not illegal to intentionally vote informal, legally all you have to do is turn up and get your name crossed off the list.

As always people mis quote others to support their beliefs, Abbott said "the science of AGW is crap" but hey whats one word between friends.

I need to let you in on a well known fact, i too work for the gubbermint. No need to tell me where they get all thier money from.

Anyway you should be happy if the Libs win as Labor are borrowing 100 million bucks a day


I know about the legalities or otherwise of voting - I never vote in state elections because they are a complete joke.

And I know about Abbott's quote - but it doesn't change the meaning of what he said or believes. He is a fundy - and I would not trust him to run a chook raffle. I will be voting against him - not for anyone else (which is pretty typically Australian really).

And to be quite frank, on most issues I don't care who wins - it won't make much difference in the end. I will still get paid, and on the issue of climate change we will eventually fall in line with the rest of the world whenever the decisions are made. None of our politicians have the balls to lead by example or exhibit a level of principles.

Well, I feel I must chime in!
You are both Sou 'Strayuns arncha?
(I like to speak in "Strine" whenever I can)

I wish to preface this comment by saying that I consider myself a SWINGING voter. (I am 42)

I am in Brisbane, Queensland (QLD) and for our international readers, Queensland seems to be somewhat of a hotly contested region of Australian Politics in this election.
In the last election, where Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, QLD was the source of some major swings towards the Labor Party and against the (conservative) Liberal Party.
This time around, QLD seems to be swinging very much towards the Libs and against Labor.
Could this be because we have had a Labor government for the last TEN years and we are now broke?
We have the distinction of having a supposedly left-leaning government that is selling off government assets to make up for the money it has squandered!
Even the Union Movement in QLD has been actively protesting against this government.

I realise that this is not meant to be a political Blog, but...
(Mandas and Craker started it!)
I strongly believe that this Labor Party, the current government, lied their way into power in 2007, and are doing the same in 2010.
I don't especially like or agree with Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, but I think they're better than Labor's rehearsed and scripted DUCKSPEAK.
("moving forward", "workng families", "down with Workchoices", "greatest moral issue".... you know?)

Craker, I already know who you lean towards, but Mandas, what do you think?

If you read the posts above you will see that for some time we debated whether the Murray Darling Basin was in fact in drought or at various stages of going into or out of a drought.

The MDB geographically makes up the lower part of Queensland and most of New South Whales, due to recent rains over the past 3 or so years the New South Whales government has declared that NSW is 100% drought free and when you consider that southern Queensland dams are all at capacity.

I therefore suspect the MDB is not in drought much to the disgust of the CSIRO and the BOM as they realise that their very expensive but never the less useless computers have less predictive skill than a Magic 8 ball.

Two things about the MDB.

One. We started _regularly_ dredging the Murray mouth about 28 years ago. This is a sign that a river is dying - and that was due entirely to mismanagement in my view. (And I can remember family members having to drag boats over the sandbars at the mouth during summer 40+ years ago when Adelaideans' sprinklers were drenching their lawns with Murray water day in and day out.)

Two. We've been _continuously_ dredging the Murray mouth for the last four years. That is what happens when you add drought to mismanagement.

Though I thought it was interesting that irrigators have had 68% less water over the last ? years, but produced only 1% less in money terms. Talk about necessity being the mother of invention.

Just think with our new found efficiency and all this extra water from cyclical rains the BOM, Tim Flannery and the CSIRO could not see coming the future of the Murray is looking a little better.

Its a shame we did not take the opportunity to rid the river of carp though.

Just keep buying that liquid fertiliser they make from carp. If there's money to be made from it, it'll happen sooner.

It has become a dogma of the denialist, that a warm world will be better. Whilst this reveals the lack of consistency in their arguments (why discuss whether a warmer world will be better if you deny the world is warming?), of more concern is the stupidy of the argument on two counts.

Firstly, a warm world will be better for who? Every species on Earth is adapted to the climate as it is, not as some people would like to think it should be. Your average Canadian might think it would be better if it were a few degrees warmer, but most Iraqis would probably like it a little cooler thanks! I imagine most polar bears and penguins probably like the cold too.

The other idiotic argument put forward is that warmer is better because biodiversity supposedly thrives better in the tropics than the polar regions. And this is just false, and is based on a completely anthropomorphic view of the world rather than a real one. Indeed, the polar oceans are teeming in life and biodiversity, and the role of phytoplankton underpins the whole planetary foodchain. A number of recent studies have shown a marked decrease in phytoplankton as a result of oceanic acidification and heating, and other studies have suggested that biodiversity in the Antartic exceeds that of supposed Edens like the Galapagos. But then, you learn these sorts of things by reading, rather than just being a dogmatic creationist.



Think of all the vegetables you'll grow.

Steady on, skip. 38 is a bit much even for tomatoes. And remember high temp means high evaporation here. In Adelaide the main growth restriction is water availability / retention.

Though I must say the tomato plant MrA nursed through the winter is now ginormous and looking to deliver ripe salad veg before Christmas.

Fresh tomatoes and barbeques...I never did get used to christmas in summer!

I'm down under for my company's Xmas function and it is a big outdoor fun-in-the-sun event. Where's the sleigh ride in the snow?! Mulled wine around a warm fire during the dark evenings? Frosty the snow man?

Ah, well. I guess you do have those "6 white boomers"....

Similarly when I lived in the US I couldn't get used the idea of xmas being cold. I mean, seriously!!?? You want to try being santa at a kids party - dressed up in all the trimmings when it is 40 degrees!

Xmas is supposed to be beaches and bbqs and seafood. As a kid I new xmas was close when the cicadas used to start getting noisy.

Oh - and not to be a pedant there Adelady, but tomatoes are fruit.

My mother in law gave me a device that allows the tomato bush to grow up side down you have to hang it up (apparently it stops the bugs from getting to it). Anyway all the bloody thing is doing is growing up the side of the device.

I wanted to give it back to her but the only thing she normally gives me is a sharp tongue so i thought cowardice was the better part of valour so i kept the stupid thing.


I hope you are not being affected by all the floods at the moment?

Oh by the way i forgot, to Coby and Mandas stop complaining about spending Xmas in another country try spending it in Saudi Arabia. The [locals] dont take too kindly to such things.

Cheers and Xmas beers to you all.

Mandas. Fruit. Tomatoes, yeah, and so are capsicums, eggplant, chilis, along with all the vine "vegetables".

And crakar, the main reason for those tomato bags is much the same as for growing strawberries off the ground. It stops contamination by fungi from soil being splashed up onto the stems and leaves. And they're easy to pick.

Count your blessings.

but the only thing she normally gives me is a sharp tongue

Better hope your wife doesn't find out, Crakar.

By Dappledwater (not verified) on 05 Dec 2010 #permalink

No, no floods here in Tassie. Two more weeks and back to the Czech Republic for some of their very deep snow. And a proper Christmas! :)

@ian forrester

1. Influence of CO2 on crop growth

I state that as a GENERAL RULE, increases in temperature and CO2 levels (and hours of sunshine, water, fertilizer, ...) accellerate plant growth.

You state that SOME CROPS might do worse in SOME circumstances with increased CO2.

You know, some crops also grow less well if you give them too much water or sunshine or fertilizer. Does that mean sunshine or water or fertilizer are bad for crops, and that the general rule does not apply ? No, it means that the farmer adapts the crop to the circumstance to get maximal yields. IF rice variant X will performs less well, he will take another variant or even another crop. Which will in the end result in higher yields due to better general conditions for farming.

Basically, you are cherrypicking instead of discussing the issues.
Every greenhouse farmer knows that increasing C02 levels in the greenhouse will increase crop yields. This can also easily be observed along highways.
This "theory" is practiced all over the world by people not understanding even the most elementary concepts of biochemistry. So you should be able to grasp it too shouldn't you ?

2. Lack of soil

You pretend that the entire landmass of the northern latitudes has no topsoil.
You seem to forget that this is also the case for any other latitude.
Topsoil is rare, everywhere !
Yet, there are vaste areas in the north that DO have lots of topsoil which is currently frozen in permafrost and thus unusable.
The single most important reason they are unusable, is because of low temperatures.

Now, since years, treelines are moving up in the alpine regions, and even faster in northern regions. This happens extremely fast without any human intervention; it would be "easy" from an engineering point of view to make large regions of that new unfrozen land in the north usable for farming (IF temperatures increase enough, which is what you claim !!!), at least compared to what we did here in holland.

Now I guess a lot of "experts" were against terraforming in Israel too, but hey : let the engineers do the thinking, you will be surprised at the endless possibilities of the human brain ! As Heinlein said : "Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it".

Ian James Patrick Forrester!
I await your response to Jan.
Please make sure you are polite.
Please do not throw any strawmen at all!
Jan has raised some valid points in my opinion, and I'd like your reasoned reply to them.
(of Brisbane)

By Michael of Brisbane (not verified) on 12 Feb 2011 #permalink

And sure enough I popped my cherry on Wattsup, tried to post, and was censored within hours.

So much for honest, open, skeptical inquiry from the denialsphere.

"I state that as a GENERAL RULE, increases in temperature and CO2 levels (and hours of sunshine, water, fertilizer, ...) accellerate plant growth."

But without enough sunshine, water, fertilizer and so on to power the production of extra plant, you get no plant growth.

Unless you know of any graphite trees.

Do you enjoy chewing on a pencil lead (made of carbon alone), Ian? Is it nutritious?

PS skip, wuwt don't want skeptics. they want people skeptical of AGW. No other type of conversation will be allowed.

More spamlink above (v-boom). Turkish. God knows why. PS adelady, you may want to do them for copyright infringement.

No, I won't sue them.

I will bask in the glow of the sure and certain knowledge that my limpid prose has deeply touched at least one fortunate soul.

I tried posting over at wattsupmybutt once. A very interesting expeience, let me tell you!

They had done the usual trick of linking to a paper and criticising it without having read it (what a surprise!!). I took then to task over it, and actually got a personal response from the great watts himself!

Of course, he was critical of me for daring to criticise him and his minions for making uninformed comments, and he whine about how he couldn't read the paper, because it was behind a paywall.

Funny how people like that make excuses for their own failures. "I didn't read the evidence before forming an opinion, but it wasn't my fault! I couldn't read the evidence."

> and he whine about how he couldn't read the paper, because it was behind a paywall.

Did this not become apparent until after he'd posted the link? Or does he expect everyone else to pay for looking but not himself?

Or did he not even TRY to look at the paper before saying what it contained?

Someone who's honestly sceptical and honestly unable to access a copy of a paper and has a few hundred people interested in hearing what he has to say could ....
write a brief post asking if anyone has a full copy of a paper that looks interesting, or knows how to get it.

Then when people start to speculate on the abstract alone, tell them to allow some time for him to read and absorb the material. Promise the post in a few days unless it turns out to be 'boring' - which would be dog-whistle for 'doesn't suit our particular purposes'.

Of course, this entirely overlooks the purpose of the tip jar. (Presuming there is one, I've not visited.)

Here is another installment from "I can't believe the shit these denialists come up with".

The SPPI was one of crakar's favourite sources if (mis)information, but I think that even he would have struggled with this gem. It appears that increased levels of CO2 are not only good for plants, the also prevent heart attacks. I kid you not!! Check out this quote from the 'paper':

"....two â°C of warming would be expected to postpone more than 100,000 deaths per year in the US. For comparison, this is the total of deaths annually from breast cancer, prostate cancer and auto accidents combined..... The nature and extent of these benefits are a major reason to reconsider the attempt to decrease carbon dioxide emission. The mandate of the Clean Air Act is to improve human health. The EPA should not regulate greenhouse gases...."


Apart from the sheer idiocy of this non-report, which contains no evidence, no references, and just a collection of unsubstantiated assertions, it also acknowledges that GHGs cause warming - but that this is a good thing. Mind you, a quick look elsewhere on the website leads you to this paper, by the bug-eyed fool from England, which claims that GHG do NOT cause warming:


It would be nice if these fools could at least be consistent with their denialism, instead of just throwing shit and hoping some of it sticks.

Oh dear.

Sometimes you wonder about these people.

Other times you have no doubt at all.

The problem is that it never attempts to link the trends with a scientific argument or authority. The illiterates will note the tone and dismiss it as "alarmism".

I saw Wow (I think) attempt this once on one of the threads . . . essentially a statistical argument, if I remember: At what point can we *assume* a link?

The words for that video are - word for word - a recent editorial from the Washington Post. Someone just put the images and music together and read the editorial.

The point is (and I know you get it - I am speaking for the illiterate among us), that it is getting more and more impossible to deny the evidence every day. Yes - you cannot attribute a single weather event to climate change, but the statistics are so overwhelming that it takes a special brand of stupid to keep saying that nothing is happening.

I've done the stat thing a couple of times.

Wrote a little program to prove it too.

Random number generator called rnd

for i=1,10
x=`eval 30 * rnd + i`
print x

and look at the values.

Doesn't seem to be a trend most of the time. But, you KNOW there's a trend since it adds monotonically increasing "i".

When it comes to "is there a link", you have to look at the causes. E.g. if SST is the single biggest cause for hurricanes, a higher SST means more hurricane activity. If higher SSTs cause worse hurricanes, then you'll get more extreme hurricane activity.

PROVING that link takes time, but you can't argue the lack of proof is proof the link is wrong, any more than you could use the lack of trend of the above program as proof that i isn't increasing.

If enough time has passed to show up the link, then, just like if i went from 1 to 100 and the trend absolutely clear, you can prove or disprove the connection.

But until then, you have to posit a mechanism where the link doesn't exist and prove it correct.

As to "attribute a single weather event", you can attribute SOME OF THE MAGNITUDE to climate change. If the temperatures were not increased by global warming, there'd be less water vapour and less water to rain out. You can't prove that the downpour was caused by climate, but then again, you don't have to. You have to prove that that downpour event was not affected by climate change.

As an intellectual exercise, can anyone point to a previous 18 month period that has encompassed so many extreme weather events across the globe?

mandas "... it is getting more and more impossible to deny the evidence every day."

I dunno bout that. I can't believe that last night's low temperature has anything to do with the 'fact' people are telling me that it's 'winter' here.

I distinctly remember putting on a jumper during a cold summer night ... so why should I believe it's 'special' or 'different' now.

See - anyone can do it if they try. (But you do have to leave your common sense and every other positive attribute at the door to get there.)

Couldn't think where would be the best place to post this, so this will do.

I thought I might try and deflect the discussion from the illiterate assertions of a lunatic, and put forward a scientific article (yeah I know - on a science blog!). In a paper released today, researchers from the Universities of Florida and Fairbanks, along with the USDA Forest Service and Parks Fire Service have done an assessment of the impact of a recent unprecendented fire in Alaska's North Slope, and the potential future implications of changed fire regimes in the Arctic Tundra. It does not make for encouraging reading:


It puts into context some earlier work by some of the same authors on Artic soils, mosses, and the hydrological cycle. That paper is here:


I would encourage everyone to read the papers and think about the implications. For example, this quote from the second paper:

"....Mosses form a thick, insulating layer that alters the partitioning of incoming radiation between turbulent fluxes (sensible and latent heat), and ground heat flux, a determinant of soil and permafrost temperature regimes (Bonan et al. 1990; Dyrness 1982). Mosses are particularly important in the discontinuous permafrost zone, where the mean annual temperature is near 08C (Nicholas and Hinkel 1996). If mosses and the underlying peat layer are removed by fire or mechanical disturbance, the active layer depth increases because of the increased heat conducted to the permafrost (Nicholas and Hinkel 1996; Mackay 1995; Dyrness et al. 1986). Ultimately, thawing of permafrost may lead to thermokarst (ground surface collapse) and inundation of
lower-lying areas with water, with potentially large ecological and economic consequences (Nisbit 1989)...."

I see my attempt to move the discussion to something approaching science has been met with a stony silence.

For those of us who remember (and were affected by) the extreme floods in Queensland and other parts of Australia last year, you may also recall some spirited discussion here (I'm not sure what thread) regarding the cause and the possible role of climate change.

For those of you who are interested, here is a recent paper by the University of NSW on the issue:



(See the May 21st post on "Skip Evans")

If anyone is interested in an update on the Neil Craig saga, here it is. It appears my hectoring has made him batty. (I admit this is a cruel and indulgent sidebar to what should be a serious debate, but tormenting his like is a catharsis for me.)

I invoke Poe's Law.
But if he is this loopy I hope for your sake he doesn't have your home address.


Inasmuch as he doesn't even have my identity correct that should be no problem for now.

That's good, because I was tempted to pass comment on that bad shirt-and-tie combo in the file photo of Skip Evans.
I'm sure your sartorial nous is much more accomplished.

Good plastic surgery there skip. You must have paid a fortune - no scars at all.

The hair is nice though.