"The world is getting warmer"

By Phil Plait | December 10, 2010 10:07 am

globaltempanomaly

The world is getting warmer. Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.

- Mike Carlowicz, on the NASA Earth Observatory site

The top map shows how much warmer the world was in the years 1970 – 1979 compared to the average temperature from 1951 – 1980. You can see that some parts of the Earth warmed and others cooled in the 1970s.

The bottom map is the same, but only from 2000 – 2009 compared to 1951 – 1980. Those cooler spots are hard to find now, aren’t they?

Take a look at the map on the bottom, and allow your gaze to settle on the United States east coast. Look closely at Washington, DC. If you try — squint if you have to — you can see Congress there, rearranging deck chairs.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (160)

Links to this Post

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  1. Derek N

    Thanks for continuing to post things like this, Phil.

    Before the denialist crowd arrives and start crowing about “urban warming” and its affect on surface based themometers, I would like to point out that the majority of this data was taken with satellites, and most of the warming shown is in Russia and the arctic circle (hardly urban environments).

    I would also like to point out that many denialists claim that satellite measurements don’t show the warming, and that this is demonstrably false.

  2. So the data in 1880 was taken with satellites? Forgive me for being SKEPTICAL.

  3. Scottynuke

    Dirigibles, more likely…

  4. Armrha

    Maybe you should try reading the post that describes the graphic instead of the quote.

    Sagan outlined the four things we need to do in Cosmos to stem man-made climate change. Each one makes sense even if there wasn’t climate change. I don’t get why the denialists just hate the idea of being good stewards of the only world we have. It’s in our self interest.

    You’d think just looking at the boiling hellscape of Venus would convince people that change is real and can happen on planetary scales, and it is worth some small amount of our effort and time to try to stem that here.

  5. Yeah, that or bloody THERMOMETERS.

  6. TheBlackCat

    Is it just me or did the comment font change?

  7. Adam

    Being that 2/3′s of the warming occurred since 1975, and the fact that we can see certain ice sheets melting exactly where we would expect them; I don’t think there is any responsible argument claiming that the Earth is not heating up. While this is most deniers initial argument, the whole not being able to trust the data, I like to get them on record early during a debate.

    If they don’t accept that the Earth’s climate is changing, then they shouldn’t be watching the weather channel. It relies on the same satellites that the deniers don’t believe in.
    While I personally reject it, I can at least say that the “earth is warming but we’re not causing it argument” is at least a bit more responsible.

    But the distinction does point out the fact that the Climategate rabble-rousers are among those who don’t believe the Earth is warming. This is something that can be demonstrated by looking at old and new pictures of glaciers. Studying the permafrost. Or if I dare, satellite data on ice depths.

  8. Paul in Sweden

    The world’s average temperature may have risen as much as 0.8´C since the end of The Little Ice Age.

    Gee… I am certain the world leaders will get right on this crisis at the big United Nations IPCC COP16 party in Cancun.

  9. noen

    ElZarcho — Why should we subsidize the salesmen of death — the oil and coal companies? Why should they profit while poisoning the air and the water we depend on? We pay billions to protect their oil tankers and we give them direct subsidies in the form of oil leases. Then they turn around and corrupt our social and political systems. Why should we pay so they can get insanely rich and then leave us with a destroyed ecosystem?

    Shouldn’t the oil companies pay the full cost for their product? Isn’t that how a free market is supposed to work?

  10. MartinM

    There’s a typo in an HTML tag; should be ‘br’ for line break, but is actually ‘b’ for bold.

  11. TheBlackCat

    And Paul in Sweden predictable pops up with the same long-debunked nonsense.

  12. jasonB

    “Look closely at Washington, DC. If you try — squint if you have to — you can see Congress there”

    The bottom image shows quite nicely the red ink flowing from the sewer that is DC.

  13. Luis Dias

    Why someone who doesn’t grasp anything at all about the global warming debate, and even has the gall to call himself a “skeptic” can’t just help himself being dragged to a discussion that he himself is completely oblivious of.

    I don’t understand the purpose of that, Phil. What’s your purpose? To say that there are “stupid people out there” who never have seen a color graphic? Is that the level you aspire to get in scientific conversations?

    Can’t you understand that you are dragging yourself to a discussion that you don’t master, don’t understand the nuances, the certainties and the uncertainties, etc., and that should, therefore, leave the matter to the specialists at hand, the likes of RealClimate, SkepticalScience, do the talking from the “side” that you are taking?

    Because if you do not, you’ll get not trolled, but steamrolled by all kinds of intelligent skeptical comments, and you’ll diss them because you “know they are wrong”, somehow, some way, because mainstream science tells us otherwise. So I cannot see the point of this, ultimately you’ll say something of the sort “I don’t know much but I trust the speciality scientists”, which is fine per se, but it’s a completely dumb and unskeptical conversation, now isn’t it?

    Or else, you’ll have to contend with interesting things. For instance, just this week, NASA and NOAA published a paper modelling the earth with the novelty of biological inputs. It’s result? Check for yourself:

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/cooling-plant-growth.html

    A new NASA computer modeling effort has found that additional growth of plants and trees in a world with doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would create a new negative feedback – a cooling effect – in the Earth’s climate system that could work to reduce future global warming.

    The cooling effect would be -0.3 degrees Celsius (C) (-0.5 Fahrenheit (F)) globally and -0.6 degrees C (-1.1 F) over land, compared to simulations where the feedback was not included, said Lahouari Bounoua, of Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Bounoua is lead author on a paper detailing the results that will be published Dec. 7 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    Without the negative feedback included, the model found a warming of 1.94 degrees C globally when carbon dioxide was doubled.

    My emphasis. Do you understand this number? We aren’t supposed to get to 750ppm (double of today) until 2200, which means that by 2100 we aren’t even supposed to get to 1.5C of warming.

    So what’s the fuss?

    Or about this one:

    Greenland ice sheet flow driven by short-term weather extremes, not gradual warming: UBC research

    Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration – and eventual loss – of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.

    http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2010/12/08/greenland-ice-sheet-flow-driven-by-short-term-weather-extremes-not-gradual-warming-ubc-research/

    What does this mean?! That Global Warming “catastrophism” has been falsified? No. Of course not. It does mean however that this is a completely immature scientific field with so many unknown factors and variables that only hubris of the highest order can make scientists or pseudo-wannabes claim that the “science is settled” or idiocies of the kind. The motives of doing such are obvious. Certainty in science is imperative in order to provoke political action. But this means that Science has been under pressure to give the appearance of certainty, where none should have been advisable.

    This has shredded credibility of science among many people, and the politicization of it has made this process easier to do in the right more than to the left. It also won’t help science much if you just degrade the issue of “Right wings are moron loons so we shouldn’t even listen to them”. The perverted climate among people around this issue is giganormous, and, back to my original point, this kind of “gotcha” childish posts are no help at all. Grow up already, and either take the dive into the issue or abandon it. There is no tertium datur.

  14. Luis Dias

    But the distinction does point out the fact that the Climategate rabble-rousers are among those who don’t believe the Earth is warming.

    It’s the other way around. Learn some logic. Those who don’t believe the earth is warming at all are among those who point to Climategate as a serious problem.

  15. test…trying to end the bolding.

  16. Luis Dias

    Shouldn’t the oil companies pay the full cost for their product? Isn’t that how a free market is supposed to work?

    And who decides what that price is? You? The Government? And how is that supposed to be “the market work”? If you want a planned economy, just say so. Just don’t pretend that what you are wanting is “free market”, coz it ain’t. (BTW, I’m not against carbon tax per se, if, and only if you can bring china and india to adopt it as well)

  17. noen

    “And who decides what that price is? “

    It isn’t that hard. Did BP even pay anywhere *near* the cost for THEIR mistakes? Why should we pay them to clean up their mess? Isn’t it fair that they should pay for that?

    Isn’t it just fair that BP should pay for the lost wages and lost revenue that fishermen and others in the Gulf suffered through no fault of their own?

    Why are you defending their irresponsible behavior?

  18. noen

    If I own a business and I dump toxic chemicals into the water that people in my community drink shouldn’t cleaning it up be my responsibility? If I dump toxic chemicals into the air that then rains down on my neighbors as acid and causes real harm shouldn’t taking care of that be my job?

    Why should the people that I harm through carelessness and negligence pay for my immoral behavior?

  19. Luis Dias

    «It isn’t that hard. Did BP even pay anywhere *near* the cost for THEIR mistakes? Why should we pay them to clean up their mess? Isn’t it fair that they should pay for that?»

    And what the hell does that have to do with this post at all? BP should pay the damages, sure. When you want to discuss the matter at hand, give me a call, mkay?

  20. Adam

    @ Luis Dias

    I’m not sure what you didn’t understand. It’s pretty logical.

    Those accused of falsifying data were working with the raw data. The accusers contend that they falsified the warming trend by “tricking” or outright falsifying the data set. They are not accused of falsifying the cause of the warming. In other words, they were working with temperatures or results, not the underlying causes.

    So if you believe that the scientists falsified data, then you are saying that the warming trend was falsified. Thus the Earth is not warming, it’s just that all of our thermometers are unreliable and all of our scientists are corrupt.

    Your rebuttal to my statement suggests you are one who doesn’t believe that the Earth is warming. Which would add credence to my statement. I do agree with your statement, in my opinion there are many ignorant people out there. But it does nothing to disprove my statement. Nor is there any logical exercise that would disprove it

  21. Chris Winter

    Now back to normal emphasis, I hope…

    Ah — it worked.

    Martin M, Todd W: It was actually an EM tag, as I found out by process of elimination. No, wait; that could not have done it. Maybe Phil fixed it at just that moment.

    For future reference, anyone can fix this sort of problem (persistent bold or italic) by putting the tag to cancel it in your post.

  22. I guess this is a bold post.

  23. TheBlackCat

    And who decides what that price is? You? The Government? And how is that supposed to be “the market work”?

    I don’t think you are quite following what noen is saying. Currently we have the government basically paying large sums of money to the oil companies to keep prices down. This makes the oil seem cheaper than it really is, because although the price at the pump may be lower, we are still paying the difference in our taxes. This is of great financial benefit to oil companies, because people are buying much more oil than they would if it was at market price. The subsidies basically hide the real price of oil from the markets, decreasing its apparent (but not real) price and thus driving up consumption, and thus oil company profits.

    I think the point is that government at the very least should stop manipulating markets in favor of oil companies. If you reject carbon credits as government manipulation of markets, then you should also reject oil subsidies on the same grounds.

  24. Adam

    @ Luis Dias

    “And who decides what that price is? You? The Government? And how is that supposed to be “the market work”? ”

    The way private business and free market works is through independent arbitration. If you cannot understand that logic, then you are just arguing for the sake of arguing. In fact rather then making salient points, you are using rhetorical exercises. They do nothing but distract from the point that businesses must be responsible for all costs incurred from their products.

    You seemed to agree with that point in your post as long as China and India are in agreement. Personally, I’d rather then be the leader then the follower, but to each his own.

  25. noen

    Luis Diaz said
    “And what the hell does that have to do with this post at all? BP should pay the damages, sure. When you want to discuss the matter at hand, give me a call, mkay?”

    So you agree that business should pay for the damages they cause to environment. The continued burning of fossil fuels is damaging the environment. Business should pay their fair share shouldn’t they?

  26. Aerimus

    @TheBlackCat

    Of course, the catch is that the minute the government were to stop those subsides (I doubt they would, but just hypothetical), then the public would be all up in a bender about the outrageous price of gas at the pump. As in many instances, the solution first has to come through educating the populace which, as I am sure many here would again, is like herding cats. Giant, mean, man-eating cats.

    That aside, I somewhat agree with Armrha, regardless of the cause of climate change, it just seems to make sense that we be good stewards of the only home we have.

  27. TheBlackCat

    @ Aerimus: The problem is that the low price of oil is one of the arguments used against change, often by people who are most obsessed with free markets. Yet oil is not really as cheap as they think. Yes, people would be up in arms if we suddenly did away with all oil subsidies, but I think scaling them back over time until they are eventually eliminated entirely would be an integral part of a comprehensive strategy.

  28. Chris Winter

    Luis Dias,

    This concept of a “free market” is like the concept of communism: an ideal, which only works if the people putting it into practice behave ideally.

    In the real world we inhabit, history shows that government must enact rules to force corporations to deal with problems they create. Those problems include lead in gasoline, fly ash, mercury and oxides of sulfur in emissions from coal-fired power plants, CFCs in aerosol cans, and now carbon dioxide.

    There’s some justification for individual corporations ducking those “external” costs. If Doright Coal Company, for example, puts in scrubbers on its own dime, its competitors who don’t will underprice it and it will lose business.

    However, corporations have other duties than maximizing shareholder return by capturing the largest possible share of the market for their product. One of these duties is getting return business, which involves not letting that product harm their customers.

    It’s only when a year is the longest time horizon that matters to corporate management that neglecting the cost of externalities even makes sense.

  29. TheBlackCat

    One of these duties is getting return business, which involves not letting that product harm their customers.

    That requires customers:

    1. Be directly affected by the harm
    2. Recognize the harm
    3. Associate the harm with a particular product or service from a particular company
    4. Change their spending habits to reflect that harm

    Management won’t look 10 years down the road if the customers won’t.

  30. MadScientist

    “Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

    Well, it’s a combination of both. We even have a fair estimate of how much warming is due to CO2 alone. The part that’s anyone’s guess is the magnitude of the positive feedback.

    I hate the news. Such a big deal is being made about Japan not caring to extend the Kyoto Protocol – this is actually a good thing because that protocol was ineffective and basically substituted feel-good measures which may have other environmental benefits for (then unknown) measures which would have had any effect. It’s time to get something real happening now – and don’t worry about pledges of reductions – that’s worthless. Get the reductions now and talk about further reductions later. And for the EU: stop claiming CO2 reductions because you have shifted production to China. Of course I’d be happy for China to simply close factories for half a year so that they can in turn claim real reductions – somehow I don’t think EU member states would be very happy with that.

  31. Daniel J. Andrews

    A little while ago a certain former tv personality denialist blogger showed a similar map and ranted about how silly it was to show that the Arctic was warmer than the continental U.S., and posted some temperature readings from different locations to demonstrate the U.S. was indeed warmer than the Arctic. Apparently, he did not know what the words “temperature anomaly” indicated–his post was a wonderful example of the Dunning-Kruger syndrome writ large.

  32. Luis Dias

    adam @20,

    blockquote

    Those accused of falsifying data were working with the raw data. The accusers contend that they falsified the warming trend by “tricking” or outright falsifying the data set. They are not accused of falsifying the cause of the warming. In other words, they were working with temperatures or results, not the underlying causes.

    This quote of yours is an illustration of an equivocation and outright ignorance of what was the fuss all about. The particular incident (among many others referenced and related to climategate) about the “trick” was about paleoclimatic studies, which have nothing to do with current thermometer data. Educate yourself a little bit more about the subject before trying to counter it, else you just look like a blind man swirling a sword in the middle air. Funny but a general waste of everyone’s time.

    Your rebuttal to my statement suggests you are one who doesn’t believe that the Earth is warming

    It is not my problem that you can only think in binaries.

  33. Luis Dias

    TBC @23

    I think the point is that government at the very least should stop manipulating markets in favor of oil companies. If you reject carbon credits as government manipulation of markets, then you should also reject oil subsidies on the same grounds.

    I do not know the thinking behind the subsidies, and I did not say I was against carbon taxes, albeit with a major caveat. But prima facie, I do agree that the oil industry should not be subsidized.

    Adam @24,

    The way private business and free market works is through independent arbitration. If you cannot understand that logic, then you are just arguing for the sake of arguing.

    Regulation is not taxation by an abritrary amount. If you cannot understand that logic, then well you get the point.

    So you agree that business should pay for the damages they cause to environment. The continued burning of fossil fuels is damaging the environment. Business should pay their fair share shouldn’t they?

    Well that rather depends upon proving that putting CO2 into the atmosphere is such a problem… I have posted two evidences pointing otherwise, and even if you don’t believe in them, the case is still out there on how much it really is a problem. Fact is, we don’t know. So any number you place here is arbitrary, random, and worse, completely futile. There are other ways to deal with the issue, but taking that conversational road would depend upon the conversation going deeper than pointing to two colored maps and say “Oh lookie, itz warminn”, which was what I was talking about before you dragging me to an unrelated tangent.

  34. Nullius in Verba

    #19,

    What Luis was saying was that there are people on both sides of the debate who see Climategate as a serious problem. Some Climategate rabble-rousers believe the Earth is warming.

    “The accusers contend that they falsified the warming trend by “tricking” or outright falsifying the data set.”

    I assume “tricking” is a reference to “Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline”. This doesn’t have anything to do with the warming trend. There is a controversy over whether it is possible to accurately reconstruct temperature from tree-rings. Some say that the curves only match during the early 20th century because the reconstruction weights each tree ring series by its match to the temperature during this period, and that the ‘reconstruction’ is only weakly related to temperature outside this interval. Thus, the reconstruction of the past prior to the early 20th century is unreliable – its error bars have been vastly underestimated. But it’s hard to tell, because we don’t have much reliable temperature data prior to 1900. However, we do have temperature data for the latter half of the 20th century, so the comparison makes a good test of whether tree-rings are useful thermometers.

    It turns out that the reconstructions show the temperature going down after 1960, even though we know the temperature went up. Sceptics argue that this shows tree-ring reconstructions don’t work. Obviously if your ‘thermometer’ reading is wrong, there’s something wrong with the thermometer. Climate scientists have suggested (without evidence) that the failure post-1960 is only a modern phenomenon, probably anthropogenic, and that the pre-1900 data can still be relied upon. To avoid giving the wrong impression, they truncate the data post 1960 and paste on the instrumental temperature record instead – claiming that this is the best available reconstruction of temperature. It’s a case of failure to report adverse results.

    The question of falsification of results, and of warming trends, is more complicated. As regards the latter, there is a long list of questions about adjustments and the many changes in weather monitoring stations, such as whether the urban heat island (UHI) effect has been properly taken into account. A lot of thermometers have been found subject to obvious artificial heat sources that had previously been classified as ‘high quality’ by the adjusters. But these mostly do not constitute ‘falsification’ of the data. Claims of falsification in Climategate mostly revolve around the Wang/Jones/Keenan affair, where claims were made about Chinese station data that it turned out could not possibly have been true, a fact which the authors of the papers must have known. (Or so said Tom Wigley, who was Director of CRU at the time of the research.) This work was used to claim that the UHI effect was negligible and didn’t require adjusting for.

    -

    The question of whether the Earth is “warming” or not depends on exactly what you mean by the term. The Earth warms every year during the NH summer, and over the past few months it has been cooling – thus, to make it a useful statement, you have to define it as a statistically significant increase relative to the average for the time of year. At which point, you find that it depends on what signal/noise model you use for your null hypothesis (affecting the definition of statistical significance) and what baseline period you use (to determine the average for the time of year), and how long a period you measure the change over.

    There is widespread agreement, even among sceptics, that the mean global temperature anomaly has gone up over the past 50 years, but there is a lot of technical (and non-technical) argument over whether it is statistically significant relative to the natural background. This is not helped by all those people who insist on pasting a least-squares linear regression line on all graphs of temperature – a procedure that is only valid if the statistical model (independent identically distributed Gaussian errors on a linear trend) is correct. It’s not a straightforward question. Definitions differ.

    Most scientists are not corrupt. A few may be. And a lot are careless; taking things on trust without looking into them themselves, because they have an unjustified level of belief in the efficacy of journal peer-review and the competence of their colleagues in other fields in which they are themselves unqualified. Or assuming that shoddy work doesn’t matter so long as they get the right conclusion. It falls far short of the scientific ideal, true, but there is a big difference between bad science and corrupt science.

  35. TheBlackCat

    I do not know the thinking behind the subsidies, and I did not say I was against carbon taxes, albeit with a major caveat. But prima facie, I do agree that the oil industry should not be subsidized.

    I didn’t mean to imply you had a particular position on either, I was just trying to explain noen’s point

  36. brett

    I will take the ideological rants against oil (and coal for that matter)seriously when those making them sell their cars, disconnect from the grid, do no airtravel,get rid of their electronic devices, buy no imported products or food etc etc etc.Utter hypocrisy.

  37. MartinM

    This quote of yours is an illustration of an equivocation and outright ignorance of what was the fuss all about. The particular incident (among many others referenced and related to climategate) about the “trick” was about paleoclimatic studies, which have nothing to do with current thermometer data.

    Actually, the ‘trick’ involved grafting instrumental data onto the end of a paleo record. I’d advise against accusing others of ‘outright ignorance’ unless you actually know what you’re talking about yourself.

  38. MartinM

    It turns out that the reconstructions show the temperature going down after 1960, even though we know the temperature went up.

    This is rather misleading. The divergence problem is limited to sites at high latitudes, and only some of those.

    Climate scientists have suggested (without evidence) that the failure post-1960 is only a modern phenomenon…

    The bolded part is nonsense. The evidence that divergence is a modern phenomenon lies in the fact that those proxies which diverge post-1960 produce reconstructions which are comparable to those which don’t.

  39. TheBlackCat

    I assume “tricking” is a reference to “Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline”. This doesn’t have anything to do with the warming trend.

    No, it most certainly does hat to do with the warming trend. The argument was that the quote proved that climatologists were hiding a decline in temperature. This argument has been made repeatedly on this very blog.

    It turns out that the reconstructions show the temperature going down after 1960, even though we know the temperature went up.

    No, it turns out that a very small subset of tree ring data, all from a limited geographic area, shows a decline in temperature. The rest all match the temperature trend. Further, we have many other proxies besides tree rings, and they agree with the temperature and tree ring data.

    So this is not a matter of the tree ring data contradicting the temperature data, this is about a small subset of tree ring data contradicting the vast majority of tree ring data, other proxies, and temperature data. So those anomalous results are thrown out.

    Climate scientists have suggested (without evidence) that the failure post-1960 is only a modern phenomenon, probably anthropogenic, and that the pre-1900 data can still be relied upon.

    It isn’t without evidence. The conclusion is drawn from comparing the different proxies available (including proxies that do not involve tree rings), and seeing that they all match up.

    It’s a case of failure to report adverse results.

    How can it be “failure to report adverse results” when the “adverse results” are discussed extensively in the scientific literature? None of this is a secret, it has all been published for everyone to see. It was reported, and those reports were discussed.

    As regards the latter, there is a long list of questions about adjustments and the many changes in weather monitoring stations, such as whether the urban heat island (UHI) effect has been properly taken into account.

    How, exactly, is excluding monitoring stations near urban environments not sufficient? Is satellite data affected by the urban heat island effect? If not, why does not match the ground data? What about marine data? I’m not aware of many cities in the middle of the ocean, but I might have missed that.

    The question of whether the Earth is “warming” or not depends on exactly what you mean by the term.

    Uh, yes, that is why they look at trends smoothed over many years.

    thus, to make it a useful statement, you have to define it as a statistically significant increase relative to the average for the time of year.

    Actually, what pretty much everyone does, and is standard practice for this sort of cyclical data, is to average over multiple years (or multiple periods). Actually, it is necessary to average over longer time periods because of the sunspot cycle.

    There is widespread agreement, even among sceptics, that the mean global temperature anomaly has gone up over the past 50 years, but there is a lot of technical (and non-technical) argument over whether it is statistically significant relative to the natural background.

    I notice you assert these arguments exist, but do not actually cite a single one.

    I haven’t seen anyone provide any evidence that the warming is not statistically significant, besides the transparently flawed and long-discredited arguments of professional denialists like M&M.

  40. Nullius in Verba

    #38,

    “The divergence problem is limited to sites at high latitudes, and only some of those.”

    Statements vary. Early on, it was described as a widespread problem. Only later was it claimed that it only applied to “high latitude” sites.

    Nevertheless, I wasn’t talking about reconstructions for high latitude sites, I was talking about reconstructions for the whole globe, or at least half of it. It would be rather worrying – don’t you think? – if a tiny minority of high-latitude sites ended up affecting the final result for the entire globe so dramatically. If just a few sites can distort the whole picture like that, what horrors are all the other proxies contributing?

    “The evidence that divergence is a modern phenomenon lies in the fact that those proxies which diverge post-1960 produce reconstructions which are comparable to those which don’t.”

    Comparable in what sense? Comparable post 1960? Obviously not. Comparable during the calibration period? That would be an empty tautology. Comparable prior to 1900? If two instruments which are both in doubt happen to give the same reading, it doesn’t mean that they’re both therefore right.

    If you want to refute the statement “without evidence”, then you’ll need to show me where a hypothesis explaining the divergence was proposed and experimentally tested. I’d be genuinely interested if you can.

  41. Scott B

    Yes the Earth is warming. People can and should argue about UHI or divergence between various databases or some strange corrections that have been made to certain stations, but it probably only matters a few tenths of a degree. That is important when discussing how much we should expect future warming to be but doesn’t change the fact that the Earth is warming.

    @27. TheBlackCat:

    I actually agree with you. Please remove the subsidies for oil. That’s something both political parties should ideologically be able to agree with (they won’t though because they are corrupt). It won’t help much for the plans of greens though. Oil will still be much cheaper than any “renewable” energy.

  42. brett @ 36: Oh, come on, for FSM’s sake. So you either have to solve the whole problem single-handedly, or do nothing. That is exactly the attitude that gets us nowhere – and fast.
    What everybody can do, however, is to make sure their next car is fuel-efficient; that their home and workspace is not cold in the summer and hot in the winter; make sure that their next appliance (fridge, dish-washer, washing machine) is energy efficient; that lights, TV and stereo are actually turned off when nobody is around. Use public transportation or better yet: selflocomotion! (feet/bicycle) when possible. Recycle, compost, reuse, repair, etc. In general, think twice before you use energy/water/resources, whether you actually need it. Those are a few of the things I do, and it is not that hard to contribute in this way. But this is, of course, against the care-free consumerism of main-stream americans. It seems to be changing, though – I hope…
    Cheers, Regner

  43. noen

    Luis Dias Says
    “Well that rather depends upon proving that putting CO2 into the atmosphere is such a problem”

    You need to explain how dumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere could NOT cause warming. To do that you will need to refute our understanding of how CO2 interacts with photons coming from the sun. That understanding is solidly based on quantum mechanics and basic physics.

    Good luck with that.

    “Fact is, we don’t know. “

    You have proved no such thing. You make claims that have been already debunked and cherry pick studies to support conclusions that the science as a whole does not support.

    You’re just an internet crank. Shouldn’t you be somewhere refuting Einsteins theory of relativity?

  44. Nullius in Verba

    “The argument was that the quote proved that climatologists were hiding a decline in temperature.”

    The reason the quote was highlighted by sceptics was as I said. Some people have since misunderstood, and I was attempting to correct that.

    “No, it turns out that a very small subset of tree ring data, all from a limited geographic area, shows a decline in temperature.”

    True. And it has the result of turning the temperature reconstruction for the entire globe down, too.

    “The rest all match the temperature trend.”

    No, they don’t. Most look like random noise. Only a few show 20th century spikes, and the algorithm pulls those out for heavier weighting.

    “Further, we have many other proxies besides tree rings, and they agree with the temperature and tree ring data.”

    Again, mostly they don’t. A lot show a general rise over the past 400 years, but disagree on rates and amounts.

    “So those anomalous results are thrown out.”

    No, they’re kept in, and only the post-1960 bit is thrown out.

    “How can it be “failure to report adverse results” when the “adverse results” are discussed extensively in the scientific literature?”

    Because policymakers and the general public don’t read the scientific literature. They read the summaries prepared by the scientists, they glance at the headline charts and pick up the general impression without scrutinising the footnoted references. Hiding it in the small print isn’t a good idea.

    “How, exactly, is excluding monitoring stations near urban environments not sufficient?”

    The problem is, you’re not excluding them.

    “If not, why does not match the ground data?”

    Because satellites are for a much shorter period, with less time for urbanisation, and with different adjustments applied to earlier data. And they don’t match exactly.

    “What about marine data?”

    What about it? That has ‘bucket’ adjustments, and in any case shows a different trend.

    “Uh, yes, that is why they look at trends smoothed over many years.”

    ‘Smoothing over many years’ is not a statistically valid procedure for estimating trends.

    “Actually, what pretty much everyone does, and is standard practice for this sort of cyclical data, is to average over multiple years (or multiple periods).”

    Again, that assumes a particular error model which may or may not be valid.

    “I notice you assert these arguments exist, but do not actually cite a single one.”

    Would it make any difference if I did?

    And can I demand citations for everybody else’s statements? Did you give a single citation for your evidence that the trend is significant against any plausible null hypothesis?

    “I haven’t seen anyone provide any evidence that the warming is not statistically significant, besides the transparently flawed and long-discredited arguments of professional denialists like M&M.”

    Ah! So you have seen such evidence! You just dismissed it because it was produced by “professionals”. (I haven’t seen any evidence that M+M have ever been paid to be ‘denialists’. That’s just classic conspiracy theory.)

    There’s no point in discussing evidence, because you’ve already made your mind up – and anything that contradicts the pre-determined conclusion is by definition “the transparently flawed and long-discredited arguments of professional denialists”. It disagrees with the consensus, and therefore it is wrong.

  45. Nullius in Verba

    #43,

    “You need to explain how dumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere could NOT cause warming. To do that you will need to refute our understanding of how CO2 interacts with photons coming from the sun.”

    You also need to include convection and feedbacks in your explanation.

    Simple example, a pan of boiling water is on the stove with the gas set at 2. The temperature of the water is 100 C. We turn the gas up to 4. Does the temperature of the water increase to 200 C? Or have we refuted how heat from a gas flame interacts with the atoms in the pan of water?

  46. Kevin

    I’m a skeptic. Not that the earth isn’t warming, it is, but it’s been warming for over 50, 000 years. Glaciers once covered N.Y. when there were relatively few humans, everyone knows this.

    What I’m a skeptic of is the “man made” part of the equation. If science can prove to me why mankind is responsible for global warming pre modern humans, I’m all ears, otherwise what we’re seeing is the natural progression of the warming cycle that’s been going on for a very long time. Even the speed of recent warming can be explained without reverting to blaming mankind for every nth degree. Having said that, it’s quite possible mankind is “slightly” helping the mean evil mother nature.

  47. Mark Hansen

    El Zarcho, you would be quite right to be skeptical of data measurement from satellites in 1880… if that was what Phil or Mike Carlowicz had said. Perhaps you could invest in some reading glasses. The upper map is clearly shown to be from data obtained between 1970 and 1979. The lower map is from 2000 – 2009. I think you’ll find that there may have been some satellites around during these time frames. If you’re going to indulge in denialism, at least READ what you’re attacking.

    But you won’t respond. Your preferred method of drive-by trolling is tedious, very tedious.

  48. Nullius in Verba

    “I think you’ll find that there may have been some satellites around during these time frames.”

    The data mapped is from GISTEMP, which is surface data.

  49. Bobito

    @43: “You need to explain how dumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere could NOT cause warming”

    It seems logical that it will cause some warming, but to what level is certainly up for debate.

    There are all these articles: (yes, not all deal directly with CO2/warming)
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

    Then there are a few (1000+ and growing) scientists that may have a say:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/08/shredding-the-climate-consensus-myth-more-than-1000-international-scientists-dissent-over-man-made-global-warming-claims-challenge-un-ipcc-gore/

    Then there are many physicist that think CO2 is non factor, as pertains to global warming, at the concentrations we have in our atmosphere:
    http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-186598.html
    and
    http://johnosullivan.livejournal.com/18334.html
    and
    http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html
    and
    http://a-albionic.com/topic/206

    I’m sure I can find more if you like, but these 1800+ articles should keep you busy learning about where valid skepticism comes from.

    I’m not saying this proves there are not any issues that need to be addressed, but you must realize that AGW skepticism is founded and supported by scientists.

  50. noen

    Nullius in Verba Says:
    “Simple example, a pan of boiling water is on the stove with the gas set at 2. The temperature of the water is 100 C.”

    The Earth is getting warmer but the oceans are not quite at the boiling point just yet.

    “Does the temperature of the water increase to 200 C?”

    Is it your claim that increasing the energy will result in less water vapor being released?

    The Earth is a closed system. CO2 traps energy and prevents it from escaping into space thereby increasing the energy of the system as a whole. You really MUST explain how increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere does not increase the available energy and raise the temp.

  51. Luis Dias

    MartinM

    Actually, the ‘trick’ involved grafting instrumental data onto the end of a paleo record. I’d advise against accusing others of ‘outright ignorance’ unless you actually know what you’re talking about yourself.

    Actually, I’m excellently informed about the particular issue, and your ridiculous warning is ridiculous.

    This is rather misleading. The divergence problem is limited to sites at high latitudes, and only some of those.

    This is a majorly blatant stupid thing to say. If the resulting curve goes down, it means that the whole sum of the parts makes the graph “go down”. It doesn’t matter if the fault is of one part or the other, it only matters the final result, since that’s the one being calibrated with the thermometers. What you are babbling about is almost as silly as claiming that the low IQ average of a certain group of people is caused by the 50% that are stupidest.

    The bolded part is nonsense. The evidence that divergence is a modern phenomenon lies in the fact that those proxies which diverge post-1960 produce reconstructions which are comparable to those which don’t.

    Even sillier. This is no evidence whatsoever, merely a very easy correlation to be achieved by statistical models. what he was asking was about empirical independent evidence of said phenomena. Which, in fact, does not exist.

    TheBlackCat @39

    No, it most certainly does hat to do with the warming trend. The argument was that the quote proved that climatologists were hiding a decline in temperature. This argument has been made repeatedly on this very blog.

    Which only proves that this blog is not a good venue for discussing global warming at all, not your point. There are people out there who don’t believe man have gone to the moon. Keep disparaging those people if you want, I am not in the least interested. The real mischievement done by the “Team” is well documented and demonstrated. If you want to keep fighting straws, I won’t stop you.

    So this is not a matter of the tree ring data contradicting the temperature data, this is about a small subset of tree ring data contradicting the vast majority of tree ring data, other proxies, and temperature data. So those anomalous results are thrown out.

    Yes, exactly. This is rather the spirit in the entire paleoclimatic field, merely showing their blatant incompetence and naiveté. You have a bunch of results, you “don’t like em” therefore, dump them to the garbage, without any consideration for the fact that what you are *really* doing is cherry picking correlations, i.e., fooling yourself in one of the most basic statistical illusions.

    How can it be “failure to report adverse results” when the “adverse results” are discussed extensively in the scientific literature? None of this is a secret, it has all been published for everyone to see. It was reported, and those reports were discussed.

    This is half true. The point is that, for the public, the IPCC showed a graphic that “hid” the “problems” with it, painting a narrative that the researchers believed was true, instead of being a just rendering of the actual status of science. This “painting” was shown many times as the true story of the climate for the last 1000 years, despite the fact that, albeit a lot of circling of the wagons, these results have been generally falsified, firstly by McIntyre, then by Wegman and PNAS, and now by a group of statisticians who published a paper damning all these so-called “reconstructions”.

  52. Anonymous

    So, there’s *global* temperature data measured since 1880 ? Quite impressive… NOT !
    I’ve seen dozens of these graphs and they all point to the same : around 0.1ºC increase since there’s data available. I’ve never seen such a red (as in “red alert”) map like this one.
    If anyone prefers to believe in computer models and cooked-data, go ahead. I prefer to believe in real-world observation.
    This graph is completely false.
    I do not give any credit to this kind of green-lobby-moved anthropogenic-global-warming religion.
    Sorry, Dr. Phil, but this is the most absurd post I’ve ever read in your blog.

  53. Luis Dias

    @43 noen,

    You need to explain how dumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere could NOT cause warming. To do that you will need to refute our understanding of how CO2 interacts with photons coming from the sun. That understanding is solidly based on quantum mechanics and basic physics.

    Ahah, no no no, you have it the other way around. It is you who have to provide enough evidence that the exhaustion of CO2 unto the atmosphere is dangerous for both the planet and mankind, since it is you who are proposing to spend my money to do something very expensive and probably very dumb about it. The assertion that this danger is “understood” based on quantum mechanics (no less!!) and basic physics (wait, isn’t quantum mechanics “basic physics”?) is hilarious. I’m sure someone like Chopra would appreciate such a reference ;)

    You have proved no such thing. You make claims that have been already debunked and cherry pick studies to support conclusions that the science as a whole does not support.

    I’ve merely linked to very recent studies who show very well how scientists still have no clue about the CO2 sensitivity on the climate, albeit assuming with little evidence that the feedbacks are quite high.

    You’re just an internet crank. Shouldn’t you be somewhere refuting Einsteins theory of relativity?

    There’s nothing better than insulting people to vent off a bad day, hmm?

  54. Nullius in Verba

    #50,

    The pan of water is just an example to demonstrate that a system absorbing more heat doesn’t necessarily make the temperature rise. There can be other effects which act to magnify or reduce the heating. I wouldn’t push any possible analogy here further than that.

    The Earth is an open system – heat constantly enters and exits the system, and in taken as a long term average, the amount radiated away is equal to that absorbed. The greenhouse effect occurs because of where the heat is radiated from. The same amount of heat is radiated away with or without greenhouse gases, but if it radiates from the surface, the surface will be at about -20 C, and if it radiates from up in the air, the air will be at -20 C and the surface will be warmer because of the pressure difference.

    If you’re interested, I gave a more detailed explanation which was repeated over here. Scroll down to the radiative-convective perspective.

  55. noen

    Bobito said:
    “It seems logical that it will cause some warming, but to what level is certainly up for debate.”

    No, actually, it isn’t.

    Waht’supwiththat dot com? Really?? Was Cracked dot com too intellectual for you?

    “Then there are many physicist that think CO2 is non factor”

    You cite a crank at physics forums who is immediately debunked in the very thread you cite. Then you cite some journalist who thinks that solar ovens refute global warming, hint: he’s a moron. Then you cite Harry Dale Huffnan “discoverer of the astounding world design behind all the ancient mysteries.” Here is this wanker’s Lulu page Breakthrough in science: World design of the “gods”.

    “Science today recognizes the world was remade (through a presumably long process of continental breakup, worldwide drift, and rejoining), incredible as that seemed a hundred years ago. The End of the Mystery — and the new simplified Field Guide — establishes the even more astounding, and even surer, fact that the world was deliberately changed, to enable a great design. It is only the overwhelming scale of the design that has up to now stymied man’s understanding, eluding even the finest modern scientific minds.”

    This genius claims that on Venus “there is no greenhouse effect at all, and you can prove it for yourself” !!!!

    Finally you link to “The project” a conspiracy website dedicated to exposing the “Overt and covert organs of the Vatican and the British empire locked in mortal combat for control of the world.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  56. Bobito

    @52: The bottom map, with all the red, is 2000 – 2009 compared to 1951 – 1980. I don’t think anyone that has spent any time researching the facts will argue the data.

    If you want to argue that AGW isn’t real, there are much easier targets than validity of temperature readings over the last 60 years. It’s pretty much consensus that they are accurate.

    The argument is not if the “hockey stick” is real, it’s if we are causing it or not (or to what extent if you want to argue the middle). And that the “hockey stick” was a cherry picking of data, that when viewed in context (over say 10k or 100k or even 1m years), looks quite normal. The only really interesting part of the “hockey stick” is how long is has a straight line.

  57. TheBlackCat

    The reason the quote was highlighted by sceptics was as I said. Some people have since misunderstood, and I was attempting to correct that.

    That is complete and utter baloney. The argument since day 1 has been that “hide the decline” meant “hide an overall decline in global temperatures”. You are trying to retcon some other explanation on it almost a year after the fact, but the original argument was what I said.

    True. And it has the result of turning the temperature reconstruction for the entire globe down, too.

    Actually, no. It reduces the upwards trends, but the trend is still upwards.

    No, they don’t. Most look like random noise. Only a few show 20th century spikes, and the algorithm pulls those out for heavier weighting.

    Sorry, I assumed we were being reasonable here and excluding proxies that don’t actually show any relationship with temperature, but I guess not.

    No, they’re kept in, and only the post-1960 bit is thrown out.

    Yes, because only those results are anomalous.

    Because policymakers and the general public don’t read the scientific literature. They read the summaries prepared by the scientists, they glance at the headline charts and pick up the general impression without scrutinising the footnoted references. Hiding it in the small print isn’t a good idea.

    The scientific literature is not “the small print”. The is where the science is done. Dismissing the entire scientific literature as “the small print” is such a gross mischaracterization I have a hard time believing you even know what science is. Especially not when you make a big deal about it being in a stolen private email when it is right there for everyone to see in the publicly-available literature.

    Are you telling me that people can spend who knows how many hours combing through tens of thousands of emails but can’t spend a few minutes reading the scientific literature?

    The problem is, you’re not excluding them.

    They did exclude them and it made no difference.

    Because satellites are for a much shorter period, with less time for urbanisation, and with different adjustments applied to earlier data. And they don’t match exactly.

    And if you measure my height at morning and evening it won’t match exactly either. The differences over the periods which we can compare are small.

    What about it? That has ‘bucket’ adjustments, and in any case shows a different trend.

    No, sea surface data shows the same trend. Water data shows a different trend.

    ‘Smoothing over many years’ is not a statistically valid procedure for estimating trends.

    Of course it is. In fact it is the standard procedure for eliminating cyclical trends.

    Again, that assumes a particular error model which may or may not be valid.

    No, it doesn’t. It assumes a particular cyclical patterns that you are not interested in. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the error model.

    Would it make any difference if I did?

    If the arguments are good, certainly.

    And can I demand citations for everybody else’s statements?

    Of course, which statements do you want citations for?

    Did you give a single citation for your evidence that the trend is significant against any plausible null hypothesis?

    Not all statistical tests assume a particular noise model. And they don’t need to be tested against a particular null model, either, you can test their power at accounting for the results.

    Ah! So you have seen such evidence! You just dismissed it because it was produced by “professionals”. (I haven’t seen any evidence that M+M have ever been paid to be ‘denialists’. That’s just classic conspiracy theory.)

    Actually, if you read my sentence again you will see I dismissed it because it was “transparently flawed and long-discredited”. Nice try, though.

    There’s no point in discussing evidence, because you’ve already made your mind up

    Hardly, I have looked at the arguments and drew a tentative conclusion.

    and anything that contradicts the pre-determined conclusion is by definition “the transparently flawed and long-discredited arguments of professional denialists”. It disagrees with the consensus, and therefore it is wrong.

    Wow, you actually read my whole sentence. I assumed, based on your gross and blatant misrepresentation of what I said, that you had just read the second half.

    Everyone can see that I didn’t say anything remotely similar to this. No, disagreeing with the consensus does not automatically make you wrong. I know far too much about the history of science to make such a silly mistake.

    However, flawed arguments are flawed arguments no matter how many times they are repeated. I was simply warning you not to post the same tired old arguments we have seen debunked dozens of times before, because it won’t win you any converts here. M&M in particular are well-known for their incompetence and dishonesty.

    You also need to include convection and feedbacks in your explanation.

    There is no convection with outer space. Earth is a closed system for conductive and convective cooling. The only way for energy to get in or out is through radiative processes.

    Simple example, a pan of boiling water is on the stove with the gas set at 2. The temperature of the water is 100 C. We turn the gas up to 4. Does the temperature of the water increase to 200 C?

    No, because the water changes state. All the energy goes into converted water from liquid to gas. How is this even remotely relevant? Almost none of the water on Earth is even remotely close to the boiling point, so it will increase in temperature.

    Or have we refuted how heat from a gas flame interacts with the atoms in the pan of water?
    Wait, what?

  58. noen

    Nullius in Verba said:
    “The pan of water is just an example to demonstrate that a system absorbing more heat doesn’t necessarily make the temperature rise.”

    This is only true when the system is at thermodynamic equilibrium like a pot of boiling water. Inputing more energy only increases the rate that water vapor boils off. It also has absolutely nothing to do with how CO2 affects the atmosphere.

    “The greenhouse effect occurs because of where the heat is radiated from. “

    No, not really. Where it occurs really isn’t the point. The point is that energy that would have been lost to space is re-radiated back to the surface of the earth and absorbed. Increasing the amount of energy in the system as a whole and thereby increasing the temp.

    What you need to do is to show how increasing the amount of CO2 does NOT increase the amount of solar radiation re-radiated and absorbed as heat.

    “the surface will be warmer because of the pressure difference.”

    No, the surface is warmer because it is absorbing additional energy. It’s pretty simple. Add more energy and the pot gets warmer.

    “I gave a more detailed explanation which was repeated over here.”

    Ah yes, Judith Curry….

  59. TheBlackCat

    The pan of water is just an example to demonstrate that a system absorbing more heat doesn’t necessarily make the temperature rise. There can be other effects which act to magnify or reduce the heating. I wouldn’t push any possible analogy here further than that.

    That only works because there is a state change. Without the state change the pot would get warmer. That is because more energy is entering the system than leaving.

    If you were to put it in a vacuum like the Earth is (and sealed it so the water didn’t boil off due to the low pressure), the amount of increase would be pretty close to doubled because radiative heat transfer is very slow compared to convective or conductive heat transfer.

    As I said, you cannot have conductive or convective heat transfer with a vacuum, since conductive heat transfer requires two masses to be in contact and convective heat transfer requires the movement of mass, neither of which is available in a vacuum. Therefore, only radiative heat transfer is possible.

    The Earth is an open system – heat constantly enters and exits the system, and in taken as a long term average, the amount radiated away is equal to that absorbed.

    Over sufficiently long terms, yes. But we are talking about much shorter time periods than that, and energy imbalances can occur over shorter time periods.

    The greenhouse effect occurs because of where the heat is radiated from. The same amount of heat is radiated away with or without greenhouse gases, but if it radiates from the surface, the surface will be at about -20 C, and if it radiates from up in the air, the air will be at -20 C and the surface will be warmer because of the pressure difference.

    Wait, what? That isn’t even remotely similar to how the greenhouse effect works. The greenhouse effect works because some of the energy that would normally get radiated back out into space doesn’t. This causes more energy to arrive then leave. This causes the temperature to increase.

    As the temperature increases, the amount of energy radiated back into space also increases. Eventually the temperature reaches a high enough point that the amount of energy radiated back into space equals the amount arriving from space, so thermal equilibrium is achieved and the temperature stays constant.

    If you increase the greenhouse effect, the energy imbalance returns and the temperature increases until thermal equilibrium is re-established. Reduce the greenhouse effect, and temperature decreases until thermal equilibrium is re-established.

    If your explanation was correct then atmosphere of Venus would be cooler than Mercury, not hotter.

  60. noen

    Luis Dia said:
    “Ahah, no no no, you have it the other way around. It is you who have to provide enough evidence that the exhaustion of CO2 unto the atmosphere is dangerous for both the planet and mankind, “

    Not really. The reason that it is fair to demand of denialists that they explain how it is that CO2 could NOT lead to global warming is because we live in one world where scientific explanations must all “hang together”. It is not enough to merely criticize. Denialists are also themselves proposing a theory, the theory that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas or has little or no effect. But quantum mechanics tells us it does have the claimed effect. Climate denialists must explain why quantum mechanics is wrong.

    ” The assertion that this danger is “understood” based on quantum mechanics (no less!!) and basic physics (wait, isn’t quantum mechanics “basic physics”?) is hilarious. “

    Only if you don’t actually know anything. CO2 is a greenhouse gas because it allows visible light to pass through but absorbs infrared light. The mechanism by which it does this is explained by our current understanding in QM. “Basic physics” is a reference to the elementary fact that adding more energy to a system heats it.

    “I’ve merely linked to very recent studies who show very well how scientists still have no clue about the CO2 sensitivity on the climate, albeit assuming with little evidence that the feedbacks are quite high.”

    This is not true. We understand CO2 sensitivity quite well. You are just an internet crank no different than the countless other cranks who think they can refute Einstein or can prove that Maxwell’s equations were wrong!

  61. QuietDesperation

    All these GW posts, but you haven’t addressed Cancun yet. Huh.

    As I have stated, I’m not a denier, but Copenhagen last year had major blizzards, and Cancun is reaching 100 year low temps. Even I have to admit that’s kind of funny.

    Was Cracked dot com too intellectual for you?

    Hey, they actually have some pretty smart humor there sometimes. :-) And the “Craptions” are a daily visit for me.

  62. Luis Dias

    That is complete and utter baloney. The argument since day 1 has been that “hide the decline” meant “hide an overall decline in global temperatures”. You are trying to retcon some other explanation on it almost a year after the fact, but the original argument was what I said.

    No, what happens is that you first heard of this “argument” on some Glenn Beck lookalike, and then took it as the original one. The fact is that you are completely oblivious to the serious criticisms the team has had in the past, well before climategate happening. In fact, this shenanigan was already well known in some circles. Take for instance a very skeptical chap, Warren Meyer, who posted a video on youtube dissing out the spaghetti graph, a year before climategate. Jump to 6:50 where he discusses one version of the “trick” (there were three versions, just to blow your mind a little):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg5z4fIwvrU

    Sorry, I assumed we were being reasonable here and excluding proxies that don’t actually show any relationship with temperature, but I guess not.

    Yeah, because it’s *obvious* that proxies must be teleconnected with the entire planet, in some sort of Gaia-esque-Avatar netcable organic connection… ahah, but the irony here is that this belief is, or was, quite popular in dendroclimatology. Take Jan Esper, and his famous sentence: The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology. Well, ain’t it, dear chap? And with cherries, my darling, it will taste even better!!

  63. brett

    Regner@42. No unfortunately that is what you will have to do if you really believe Co2/ western life style is destroying the planet and you want to reduce Co2 production in any meaningful way- changeing light bulbs, more fuel efficient car, bit of insulation in the roof etc will, in any practical sense, do bugger all (may asuage middle class guilt though- seem to do something whether it is effective or not). Dont get me wrong I think these ARE good things to do in themselves though they will have minimal impact on Co2 rise globally.In my own case (not that i am a paragon of virtue by any means)but I am 50 yrs old and have never owned a car, have used public transport/pushbike/feet all my life (my parents never owned a car).As a kid was brought up to recycle as a matter of course.Have a solar hot water system, a wood fire and no air conditioner. Bought 200 acres of untouched bush SW of Nimmitabel (a small town in Australia)was so beautiful put a voluntary conservation agreement on it (registered with the state govt) which means it can never be logged, cleared for farming, divided up for housing estates etc (just think of all that carbon sequestering quietly over time). It is protected in perpetuity.This has of course cost me money in terms of potential resale value and maintenance etc but hey you have to put your money where your mouth is. I care about the environment, I take practical steps to protect it. I read the range of science and I am sceptical of catastrophic man made global warming at this point in time;as the science matures its methodology and more conclusive science is done this may well change. What does “for FSM’s sake” mean–cheers brett

  64. noen

    Luis Dias said:
    ” Take for instance a very skeptical chap, Warren Meyer”

    Warren Meyer is clearly playing games. He presents early 20th century temperature data side by side with late 20th century data to show that the rising pattern is the same. Showing no values of temperature, leaving the overall impression that actual rise in temp was the same. He also runs Coyote Blog where he rants against teh ebil Obamar.

  65. Nullius in Verba

    #58,

    “What you need to do is to show how increasing the amount of CO2 does NOT increase the amount of solar radiation re-radiated and absorbed as heat.”

    Solar heating can change the surface temperature 20 C between day and night in a matter of 12 hours, and yet the enhanced greenhouse effect supposedly changes temperature by 2 C per century. As a proportion of the solar radiation energy flowing through the system, the effect of greenhouse warming on net energy balance is effectively negligible.

    “The point is that energy that would have been lost to space is re-radiated back to the surface of the earth and absorbed. Increasing the amount of energy in the system as a whole and thereby increasing the temp.”

    Increasing energy absorbed at the surface will just increase the rate of convection, which will massively increase the rate of flow of heat from the equatorial surface to the upper atmosphere and the colder parts of the planet. The convection continues until the adiabatic profile is re-established. Any meteorologist or airline pilot knows about the adiabatic lapse rate – it’s known as the International Standard Atmosphere.

    More energy radiated from the atmosphere to the surface would cool the atmosphere and warm the surface, increasing the vertical temperature gradient past the point of instability. The warm buoyant air near the surface would rapidly rise and eliminate the effect.

    “Ah yes, Judith Curry….”

    Ah, yes. Ad hominem fallacy. Quality argument…

    #59,

    “As I said, you cannot have conductive or convective heat transfer with a vacuum, since conductive heat transfer requires two masses to be in contact and convective heat transfer requires the movement of mass, neither of which is available in a vacuum. Therefore, only radiative heat transfer is possible.”

    If you’re talking about radiation from the Earth into outer space, this is true. But when talking about the surface and the atmosphere, it is not.

    “Over sufficiently long terms, yes. But we are talking about much shorter time periods than that, and energy imbalances can occur over shorter time periods.”

    For the purposes of greenhouse calculations, equality is generally assumed. There’s a lot of noise, so you get excursions in both directions.

    “Wait, what? That isn’t even remotely similar to how the greenhouse effect works. The greenhouse effect works because some of the energy that would normally get radiated back out into space doesn’t. This causes more energy to arrive then leave. This causes the temperature to increase.”

    That explanation is incorrect. All the energy that would normally get radiated back into space all gets radiated back into space. It just hangs around for a bit longer before doing so.

    Think of it like a local speed limit causing the traffic to slow down from 50 to 30. The cars leave the speed limit zone at the same rate they arrive, but they’re bunched up closer together while they’re travelling through the speed limit. Reduce the speed limit even further to 20, and they’ll bunch up even more, but it won’t affect the cars-per-hour passing through one iota.

    “If your explanation was correct then atmosphere of Venus would be cooler than Mercury, not hotter.”

    My explanation works for Venus too. You have high level opaque clouds that absorb/re-emit most of the light, and therefore settle at the effective black-body temperature. Below them, you have 50-80 km of atmosphere increasing to 90 bar pressure at the surface. The adiabatic lapse rate on Venus is about 8 C/km, which if you multiply by 50 km gives you a greenhouse warming of about 400 C between clouds and surface.
    See Carl Sagan here.

    Seriously, this is orthodox, mainstream climate physics. Ironic, huh?

  66. I notice that one of the coldest spots on the lower map is right where I grew up, on the southern coast of New Zealand. That certainly seems to jibe with my experience.

  67. Bobito

    @55 “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….” Ya, that actually is pretty funny. I admittedly worked to quickly when finding my final source. I should have been more diligent about the source since it would be easy to assume you would work to discredit the source rather than review the content.

    But I’m surprised you are not informed about the strong sentiment in the physics community about CO2, in the concentration levels we have on earth, not having an affect on GW. It’s been going around alot lately, I’ve even seen posts from climate scientist discussing why it is.

    Regardless of what you think about the motives of whatsupwiththat, the article is real. Why dismiss it based on where it is posted? Some of the scientist are even from within the IPCC. But, again, you just dismissed it rather that actually reading it.

    I also find it interesting that you were able to discredit 800 peer reviewed papers, the opinions of 1000 scientists and 4 physicists in 53 minutes! And that doesn’t even count the time it took you to type your reply! That’s almost 2 dismissals of scientific research per second!

    Perhaps the creationists should hire you as their PR director. Clearly your ability to debunk science is second to none.

    It’s also amazing how you can have this amazing ability, yet you can type “The Earth is a closed system. CO2 traps energy and prevents it from escaping into space” Wow! You must be brilliant to be able to explain how a closed system can have something escape!

    Keep up the good work!

  68. Utakata

    Not much to add here, but…

    …I always point to the guy living in the carboard box as to why the market system does not really work. Yet there are some bozo’s here who want to use that same system to solve (or impede) all our evironmental issues. That really should scare us. This is where government, elected for the people by the people should step in and resolve the problems that is required to do. Far more accountable than leaving up to private interests whose only real goal is greed. Just saying…

  69. TheBlackCat

    Solar heating can change the surface temperature 20 C between day and night in a matter of 12 hours, and yet the enhanced greenhouse effect supposedly changes temperature by 2 C per century. As a proportion of the solar radiation energy flowing through the system, the effect of greenhouse warming on net energy balance is effectively negligible.

    Conclusion does not follow from premise. First, you are mixing up the change in the energy balance with the total energy balance (the 2C is from the change, while something like 33C is from the total greenhouse effect). Second, 2C is pretty large.

    Increasing energy absorbed at the surface will just increase the rate of convection, which will massively increase the rate of flow of heat from the equatorial surface to the upper atmosphere and the colder parts of the planet. The convection continues until the adiabatic profile is re-established. Any meteorologist or airline pilot knows about the adiabatic lapse rate – it’s known as the International Standard Atmosphere.

    That is totally irrelevant since we are talking about the global energy budget.

    If you’re talking about radiation from the Earth into outer space, this is true. But when talking about the surface and the atmosphere, it is not.

    But we are talking about “radiation from the Earth into outer space”, and vice versus. That is what the greenhouse effect is all about. To use the analogy in the name, the inside of the greenhouse is the atmosphere, while the outside is space. The greenhouse prevents some of the energy from escaping the greenhouse just like the greenhouse effect prevents some of the energy from escaping into space. The difference is that a greenhouse works by reducing convection and conduction while the greenhouse effect works by reducing radiative emissions.

    For the purposes of greenhouse calculations, equality is generally assumed. There’s a lot of noise, so you get excursions in both directions.

    No, they aren’t. Google “global energy budget”. The whole point of global warming is that the global energy budget is not equal, more energy is coming in than going out.

    That explanation is incorrect.

    It is the textbook definition. 10 seconds of googling will show you that.

    All the energy that would normally get radiated back into space all gets radiated back into space. It just hangs around for a bit longer before doing so.

    Perhaps, but the total energy in atmosphere of a planet at any given point in time increases.

    Think of it like a local speed limit causing the traffic to slow down from 50 to 30. The cars leave the speed limit zone at the same rate they arrive, but they’re bunched up closer together while they’re travelling through the speed limit. Reduce the speed limit even further to 20, and they’ll bunch up even more, but it won’t affect the cars-per-hour passing through one iota.

    That isn’t even remotely similar to how it works. There is no change in “speed limit” here.

    Further, if you get the cars more bunched up, you must, at least for a time, change the number of cars entering and/or leaving or change the length of road over which you are looking. This will eventually equalize, but in your example you must have a temporary reduction in the number of cars leaving. Cars cannot appear out of nowhere, if you have more cars, you must either increase the number of cars entering or decrease the number of cars leaving. If for every car that goes in, one goes out, then the total number of cars must stay the same.

    An actually somewhat valid analogy would be like so: Imagine a tank of water. Water goes in at a rate of 1 gallon per minute. There is a hole at the bottom. At the current water level, water is flowing out at 1 gallon per minute. However, because the outflow is dependent on the water pressure, raising the water level increases the outflow while lowering it reduces the outflow.

    Now imagine you decrease the size of the hole a little bit, such that the flow is now reduces by 10%. Now 1 gallon is flowing in every minute, but only .9 is flowing out. The water level will increase because more water is going in than is going out. As the water level increases, the pressure at the hole increases and the outflow increases. The water level will continue to rise until the pressure rises enough that outflow is once again equal to the inflow.

    Sure, assuming it is well-mixed every molecule of water that comes in will eventually leave, but the number of molecules present at any given point in time is larger than before.

    My explanation works for Venus too. You have high level opaque clouds that absorb/re-emit most of the light, and therefore settle at the effective black-body temperature. Below them, you have 50-80 km of atmosphere increasing to 90 bar pressure at the surface. The adiabatic lapse rate on Venus is about 8 C/km, which if you multiply by 50 km gives you a greenhouse warming of about 400 C between clouds and surface.

    No, that isn’t greenhouse warming. Adiabatic lapse rate simply explains the distribution of temperatures within an atmosphere. It does not explain the total energy content of the atmosphere. These are two entirely different concepts.

    Your explanation wouldn’t even work. Adiabatic lapse assume gasses cool as they rise. But in your explanation of Venus, all the energy is being dumped into the upper levels of the atmosphere. Little, if any, energy would reach the surface. The surface would therefore actually be cooler than the upper cloud layers. The energy at upper levels would only reach lower levels by conduction. On Earth this is called a thermal inversion.

    See Carl Sagan here.

    I’m not sure whether you didn’t understand the article, or just saw the phrase “adiabatic lapse rate” and assumed that it supported your conclusion. Not only does the article not agree with your explanation, it doesn’t even have an explanation.

    The article is an attempt to figure out the surface temperature using higher-altitude temperatures. Basically, it is saying “we know the temperature at these altitudes, so using adiabatic lapse rate we can estimate the temperature at any other altitude”. It doesn’t attempt to explain why Venus is at a certain temperature (although it gives some hints, it says higher cloud layers are transparent to optical radiation but opaque to infra-red, this is the greenhouse effect).

    Seriously, this is orthodox, mainstream climate physics. Ironic, huh?

    No, it isn’t. Adiabatic lapse rate is, but it has next to nothing to do with global warming. You are mixing up two valid but entirely different concepts here.

  70. Dan Kennan

    Why do I keep coming here to read about astronomy? I guess I’m just like the deer that comes back to the same valley looking for those really good purple berries that used to grow there. Sometimes I find a couple, but I usually find the blue ones…but those are better in that other valley.

    There are better blogs on AGW than yours, Phil, because you’re not the expert on AGW. You are however, one of the best writers on astronomy. Which you are indeed an expert at. And which I and others come here to read.

    Please either stop the AGW and politics or change the name of this blog.

  71. Utakata

    If you don’t like it Dan Kennan @ 70…then go somewhere else. This is Phil’s blog. He gets to write what he wants in it. So deal.

    Furthermore, Phil’s interest in AGW was peeked when some idiot denialists decided to use astronomy incorrectly to disprove AGW sometime back.

    I will also note that about 70% of Phil’s blog is in fact about astronomy. I guess you have bad timing and the inability to scroll down. /shrug

  72. Dan Kennan

    I can make my reactions known to Phil whether you like it or not, Uta-chan. I think Phil and the magazine will decide what to do with reader feedback, not you. So deal.

  73. Luke

    “Why do I keep coming here to read about astronomy?”

    Huh? Might as well say: “Why do I bother reading the newspaper when there are sports pages inside? I don’t read the paper for sports!”

    Then DON’T READ THOSE PARTS.

  74. Muzz

    It’s strange to me that Luis’ big NASA gotcha up the page doesn’t even touch what more that doubling atmospheric CO2 might do to ocean acidification levels. (or faster growing, more poisonous, less nutritious plants generally being the case. It won’t just be food crops that are growing faster too)
    As nice as it is to see deniers use modeling science in their arguments, there’s more to this biz than disproving catastrophic warming (which has never been as big a leg of climate science as they like to suggest).

  75. @ noen 17 wrote:

    Why are you defending their[BP] irresponsible behavior?

    Could you please explain how BP’s “irresponsible” behavior resulted in the Macondo blow out?

    It is my understanding that it was a shoe failure… a shoe poured by Halliburton.

    While BP took some risks trying to get the well ready for completion, I haven’t seen anyone making the argument that those risks led to the blow out?

    I thought that the kill answered those questions???

    Educate me!

  76. Dan Kennan

    Luke it IS called an astronomy blog…it’s just become more and more anti-Republican ranty and AGW activist of late. Perhaps Phil could get another blog or column to address those issues. His call of course but I reserve my right to give feedback as long as comments are accepted.

  77. “It has been postulated that this is the real reason for both global warming since higher energy levels of the Milky Way are almost certain to cause our Sun to burn hotter and emit higher energies. Indeed, temperatures have been seen to rise on virtually all the planets in our system. This seems quite apart from any local phenomenon like greenhouse gases etc.” – http://viewzone2.com/milkyway22x.html

  78. Am I the only one concerned that Phil has introduced the new tag “Global arming” for this post? Who’s supposed to be arming? And against who or what? I demand an explanation!

  79. TheBlackCat

    @ Solius : They ignored tests that indicated the well was dangerous, and they ignored their own experiments indicating the blowout preventer was faulty (violating their own safety standards in the process). They also had essentially no plan and no preparation for dealing with blowouts at that depth.

  80. TheBlackCat

    Who’s supposed to be arming?

    Globes, of course.

    And against who or what?

    Other globes.

  81. Nullius in Verba

    #69,

    “First, you are mixing up the change in the energy balance with the total energy balance (the 2C is from the change, while something like 33C is from the total greenhouse effect).”

    I was using the rate of change of temperature induced by a net heat flow imbalance to compare the sizes of those imbalances. Sunlight can warm the Earth’s surface at a rate of up to 20/12 C/hour = 1,460,000 C/century. Gross energy imbalances are quickly removed; it reaches equilibrium very quickly. Any long term changes have to be due to permanent changes in the equilibrium position.

    I wasn’t mixing anything up. I was talking about something other than total energy balance because total energy balance is not the only consideration.

    “Second, 2C is pretty large.”

    On a human and biological scale, no it isn’t. You get more variation than that from one day to the next, from day to night, from forest to plains to cities, from the sunny, sheltered side of my house to the cold and exposed side. The idea that the world would end and everything would die if the temperature rose two degrees is ridiculous.

    Here are some annual average temperatures in degrees C for where I live:
    7.25, 8.5, 8.00, 7.63, 8.80, 8.57, 8.71, 9.29, 9.06, 9.05, 8.71, 9.78, 9.38, 9.67, 8.71, 9.46, 9.38, 9.13, 8.63, 9.42, 9.42, 8.38, 9.00, 9.25, 9.46, 9.08, 8.88, 9.35, 9.77, 9.27, 8.66, 9.34, 9.94, 9.52, 9.26, 10.04, 9.85, 9.69, 10.47.

    It starts off at around 7-8 C and ends up around 10-11 C forty years later. That’s about a 3 C increase in average temperature (entirely due to natural variation). And we survived it.

    It is irrelevant to people what the global average is. What affects them is the local temperatures, and their distribution – a warm winter has a different effect to a warm summer, a short sharp spike has a different effect to a broader one. From the point of view of individual lives, the global average is a meaningless number.

    “It is the textbook definition. 10 seconds of googling will show you that.”

    Yes, I know. It’s still incorrect.

    “Perhaps, but the total energy in atmosphere of a planet at any given point in time increases.”

    At any given point in time, the energy can be going either up or down. The signal is very noisy, and it is only in long-term averages that any greenhouse changes are discernible.

    “Further, if you get the cars more bunched up, you must, at least for a time, change the number of cars entering and/or leaving or change the length of road over which you are looking.”

    Lets say one car per minute drives down the road at 50 mph. They are 1.34 km apart. The speed limit drops to 30 mph. Because cars cannot come from nowhere, there is still one car per minute driving down the road, but they are 0.8 km apart. At the end of the speed limit, they speed up again to 50 mph, 1.34 km apart, and one car per minute.

    The number of cars entering or leaving was unchanged. The cars drive past every single point at a rate of one per minute.

    Cars-per-minute can remain constant while cars-per-kilometer varies wildly. Joules-per-second (watts power) can stay constant while Joules-per-kilogram (temperature times a constant) varies all over the place.

    “As the water level increases, the pressure at the hole increases and the outflow increases. The water level will continue to rise until the pressure rises enough that outflow is once again equal to the inflow.”

    Yes. So to calculate it, you assume “the outflow is once again equal to the inflow” and work out what the height of the water must be to maintain that situation. The outflow being once again equal to the inflow is what you seem intent on arguing against.

    “No, that isn’t greenhouse warming. Adiabatic lapse rate simply explains the distribution of temperatures within an atmosphere. It does not explain the total energy content of the atmosphere. These are two entirely different concepts.”

    As I keep saying, understanding of the greenhouse effect comes in two parts. One is the radiative balance between the top of the atmosphere and outer space. The other is the temperature difference between the top of the atmosphere and the surface, which depends on the temperature distribution within the atmosphere, which is controlled by the adiabatic lapse rate.

    I’m not saying that only the second part is required. But the second part is required.

    “Adiabatic lapse assume gasses cool as they rise. But in your explanation of Venus, all the energy is being dumped into the upper levels of the atmosphere. Little, if any, energy would reach the surface. The surface would therefore actually be cooler than the upper cloud layers.”

    Please don’t confuse energy with temperature.

    Adiabatic lapse also assumes that gases warm as they descend. If you compress air to 90 bar, it will get extremely hot. (It requires special cooling when filling compressed air bottles for scuba diving here on Earth.) In the case of the adiabatic lapse, the energy to raise the temperature comes from the gravitational potential energy.

    You could also think about how a refrigerator works. Gas expands and cools, until it is cold enough to absorb heat from the inside (the source of thermal energy), is compressed and warms up, until it is hot enough to radiate it to the outside (the heat sink). If you turn the refrigerator inside-out, it will pump heat from the outside into its centre. The whole process is driven by temperature differences that cause vertical convection cycles that can compress and expand the working gas.

    “I’m not sure whether you didn’t understand the article, or just saw the phrase “adiabatic lapse rate” and assumed that it supported your conclusion.”

    I understood the article.

    “No, it isn’t. Adiabatic lapse rate is, but it has next to nothing to do with global warming. You are mixing up two valid but entirely different concepts here.”

    The adiabatic lapse rate is essential to understanding global warming. If the lapse rate reverses, as happens in the stratosphere, then more greenhouse gases result in global cooling – and this is observed. How else would you explain it?

    Since Sagan was too simplistic for you, try Soden and Held. Take a look at figure 1 on p447, and the discussion below it. You will see that the lapse rate features rather prominently.

  82. @ 76 The Black Cat wrote:

    They ignored tests that indicated the well was dangerous…

    What tests did “they” ignore? The C-B logs? If so, how did that contribute to the blow out?

    Cement-bond logs, from my understanding, might indicate problems, but what tests?

    I am familiar with lapses in, what some others would consider, protocol. But, how did/is BP responsible for the blow out?

  83. Re: the BOP- wasn’t that TransOcean???

  84. TheBlackCat

    I was using the rate of change of temperature induced by a net heat flow imbalance to compare the sizes of those imbalances. Sunlight can warm the Earth’s surface at a rate of up to 20/12 C/hour = 1,460,000 C/century. Gross energy imbalances are quickly removed; it reaches equilibrium very quickly.

    The excludes buffering by the ocean and land, which have much higher heat capacities than the air and the ocean has more complicated flow patterns that distribute energy in a more complicated manner. Buffering by the ocean is a particular important issue both because of its movement and because of its higher heat capacity. Water flow in particular is too slow to be affected much by day-to-day changes, and the inefficiencies in energy transfer between air and water means that day-to-day changes are filtered out at least below the uppermost water levels.

    Any long term changes have to be due to permanent changes in the equilibrium position.

    Uh, yes, that is what I have been saying all along.

    I wasn’t mixing anything up. I was talking about something other than total energy balance because total energy balance is not the only consideration.

    It is by far the primary consideration. You are neglecting the most important factor here.

    “Second, 2C is pretty large.”

    On a human and biological scale, no it isn’t. You get more variation than that from one day to the next, from day to night, from forest to plains to cities, from the sunny, sheltered side of my house to the cold and exposed side.

    Yes, for small time and length scales. But over longer time and lengths scales it makes a big difference. Changes in animal life cycles and ranges, precipitation, ocean currents, winds, permafrost, glaciers, sea ice, sea levels, ocean oxygen levels, and many other factors can be significantly effected by seemingly small changes in temperature over long time periods (in fact we are seeing many such changes already).

    The idea that the world would end and everything would die if the temperature rose two degrees is ridiculous.

    Nice strawman. Nobody is claiming this.

    It is irrelevant to people what the global average is. What affects them is the local temperatures, and their distribution – a warm winter has a different effect to a warm summer, a short sharp spike has a different effect to a broader one. From the point of view of individual lives, the global average is a meaningless number.

    No one is claiming that the global average temperature is the only thing that is important. But rising global average temperature means that, on average, individual locations are also experiencing higher temperatures. And these seemingly small changes can have pretty dramatic effects, especially on things that are based on seasonal changes (like animal life cycles and migration or permafrost).

    Yes, I know. It’s still incorrect.

    Oh, I see. You know more than NASA and pretty much every climatologist on the planet. Right…

    At any given point in time, the energy can be going either up or down. The signal is very noisy, and it is only in long-term averages that any greenhouse changes are discernible.

    Wait, weren’t you arguing before that the energy can’t go up and down, that it must be equal all the time? And yes, there is noise in the system. I was giving a simplified explanation of the model for the sake of helping you understand the underlying physical processes.

    Lets say one car per minute drives down the road at 50 mph. They are 1.34 km apart. The speed limit drops to 30 mph. Because cars cannot come from nowhere, there is still one car per minute driving down the road, but they are 0.8 km apart. At the end of the speed limit, they speed up again to 50 mph, 1.34 km apart, and one car per minute.

    Sorry, I thought you meant “change the speed limit on a given stretch of road”, not “enter a new speed limit zone”. That has even less to do with what we are talking about, it has nothing to do with adiabatic lapse (which is due to changing pressure) or the greenhouse effect (which is due to absorption and re-emission of radiation).

    “As the water level increases, the pressure at the hole increases and the outflow increases. The water level will continue to rise until the pressure rises enough that outflow is once again equal to the inflow.”

    Yes. So to calculate it, you assume “the outflow is once again equal to the inflow” and work out what the height of the water must be to maintain that situation. The outflow being once again equal to the inflow is what you seem intent on arguing against.

    No, I never argued against it. It seem you don’t get the point of the analogy. Water is energy. The inflow is the energy from the sun entering the atmosphere. The outflow is the energy radiated into space by the atmosphere. The total amount of water (the height of the water in the container) is the total amount of energy in the atmosphere. So the total amount of energy in the atmosphere rises until the amount of energy flowing out once again matches the amount of energy flowing in. This is what I have been saying all along, and is totally unrelated to adiabatic lapse rate.

    “No, that isn’t greenhouse warming. Adiabatic lapse rate simply explains the distribution of temperatures within an atmosphere. It does not explain the total energy content of the atmosphere. These are two entirely different concepts.”

    As I keep saying, understanding of the greenhouse effect comes in two parts. One is the radiative balance between the top of the atmosphere and outer space. The other is the temperature difference between the top of the atmosphere and the surface, which depends on the temperature distribution within the atmosphere, which is controlled by the adiabatic lapse rate.

    No, this is the first time you have mentioned radiative balance. You argued against me when I tried to explain this.

    I’m not saying that only the second part is required. But the second part is required.

    You have been consistently arguing against the first part during this whole discussion.

    Adiabatic lapse also assumes that gases warm as they descend. If you compress air to 90 bar, it will get extremely hot. (It requires special cooling when filling compressed air bottles for scuba diving here on Earth.) In the case of the adiabatic lapse, the energy to raise the temperature comes from the gravitational potential energy.

    But that assumes gasses will descend. Warm gasses will rise. If you only heat the upper levels of the atmosphere, there is no mechanism to make the gasses descend, so there will be no warming. Adiabatic processes require a pressure change which you would only get in this case if the gas is ascending or descending. But there is no mechanism that would produce such a movement of gas in your model.

    You could also think about how a refrigerator works…

    Yes, I know what “adiabtic” means and how refrigerators and heat pumps work.

    I understood the article.

    No, you didn’t if you think it is an explanation for Venus’s global energy balance.

    The adiabatic lapse rate is essential to understanding global warming. If the lapse rate reverses, as happens in the stratosphere, then more greenhouse gases result in global cooling – and this is observed. How else would you explain it?

    The standard explanation is that the the greenhouse gases prevents reflected energy from reaching the stratosphere, resulting in less total energy and a correspond decrease in temperature.

    Since Sagan was too simplistic for you, try Soden and Held. Take a look at figure 1 on p447, and the discussion below it. You will see that the lapse rate features rather prominently.

    According to them, which matches my understanding, lapse rate is only important for determining the level at which effective radiation occurs. Basically it is needed to calculate the change in energy imbalance. It is not a critical mechanism in and of itself, it is necessary for determining the distribution of temperatures with altitude, and this distribution is necessary for determining the effect of changes in greenhouse gases.

    To put it simply, adiabatic lapse rate helps you determine the effective temperature of the atmosphere, but it is still this effective temperature that is the key factor.

  85. Gunnar

    @ Nullius in Verba #65

    I am not even a professional scientist, but I recognized some of the flaws in your arguments even before I read how Black Cat so eloquently pointed them out in #69. Why can a mere layman like me see those flaws so easily when you can’t?

  86. Gunnar

    #78
    It is quite apparent to me that Black Cat bested you again in #81 and that you didn’t fully understand his rebuttle, especially the part about the water tank.

  87. Lawrence

    There is more than enough blame to go around on the oil spill – government agencies, BP, TransOcean, Halliburton, etc – it will just take decades of litigation to apportion out the percentages of responsibilty here.

  88. Nullius in Verba

    #82,

    That’s a very good question. I’ve got a degree in physics, and have been studying the greenhouse effect for several years. I’ve just cited papers by some of the climate scientists who invented the theory. But you as a layman have spotted the ‘flaws’ in it, and have come to the opposite conclusion.

    And this is precisely what climate denialists do.

    The ‘reason’ is that you have been given an incomplete (and not entirely accurate) understanding by your teachers and the media, but without them telling you that it is incomplete. You have absolute confidence in its truth. As such, if a new explanation comes along and doesn’t fit the pattern that you know, you see the differences as errors.

    I have met people who have been told that electricity consists of electrons flowing down wires, and knowing how quickly the light turns on when you flick the switch, they believe the electrons are moving at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. When I have told them that in fact the electrons are only moving down the wire at a speed of a few millimetres a second, they refuse point-blank to believe me. As laymen they can see the obvious ‘flaw’: that it would take ages for the electricity to get from the power station to their homes, and there would be a longer time delay on the telephone if what I said was true.

    But I don’t see that as a bad thing. I’m not going to insult people’s intelligence, as some would, because they don’t know everything I do. I regard it as more ‘scientific’ to ask questions and be sceptical and try to fit everything into a consistent picture oneself, and to doubt the experts and call BS on them if their explanations don’t make everything clear and understandable. You can’t learn if you don’t challenge things you don’t understand.

    But it does require a little bit of an open mind.

  89. Nullius in Verba

    #81,

    “The excludes buffering by the ocean and land, which have much higher heat capacities than the air and the ocean has more complicated flow patterns that distribute energy in a more complicated manner.”

    No, it includes them. The land changes temperature between night and day at a rate that depends on its heat capacity. The heat capacity of miles of rock is not significantly different to miles of water.

    It’s not heat capacity you’re thinking about, it’s the rate at which heat flows into the land or oceans. Again, another example where the simplistic explanations get it wrong.

    “Uh, yes, that is what I have been saying all along.”

    Me too.

    “Yes, for small time and length scales. But over longer time and lengths scales it makes a big difference.”

    No, it doesn’t. Weather affects life on the scale of a few years. On a local scale, we are not seeing anything that we haven’t seen before. The signal is still far smaller than the noise, and you have to average over continent-scales to even detect it.

    “Nice strawman. Nobody is claiming this.”

    I can give citations, if you like. My favourite was Ted Turner claiming that we would all be cannibals or dead by 2040, but I can give you people saying the world will explode, that bits of New York would be under water by 2010, that sea levels will rise anything from 7 to 100 m, that we will be invaded by vampire moths, that life is undergoing a mass extinction event, or whatever.

    “But rising global average temperature means that, on average, individual locations are also experiencing higher temperatures.”

    Quite so! And that’s the number that matters.

    “Oh, I see. You know more than NASA and pretty much every climatologist on the planet. Right…”

    Err, no. I’m using exactly the same model as NASA and pretty much every climatologist on the planet. But I’m giving it at a deeper level of explanation than they usually do when talking to the public.

    I didn’t make any of this up myself. I got it from reading the literature.

    “Wait, weren’t you arguing before that the energy can’t go up and down, that it must be equal all the time?”

    What I originally said was “heat constantly enters and exits the system, and taken as a long term average, the amount radiated away is equal to that absorbed.” You took that to mean that I had said it was equal all the time.

    “No, I never argued against it. It seem you don’t get the point of the analogy.”

    I agree with the analogy. It’s a good analogy. We’re using the same model, but I’m talking about a different aspect of it. You’re talking about the non-equilibrium situation when the hole has just been narrowed but the water level has not yet increased, while I am talking about the equilibrium situation after the water level has settled down at the new level. Because the equilibrium is reached much faster than the equilibrium level rises, it is always close to equilibrium (with far larger random variations about it).

    “No, this is the first time you have mentioned radiative balance.”

    I said “The same amount of heat is radiated away with or without greenhouse gases, but if it radiates from the surface, the surface will be at about -20 C, and if it radiates from up in the air, the air will be at -20 C [...]” and referred the reader to a longer explanation where I described radiative balance in more detail. The reason that it settles at -20 C is radiative balance.

    “But that assumes gasses will descend. Warm gasses will rise. If you only heat the upper levels of the atmosphere, there is no mechanism to make the gasses descend, so there will be no warming.”

    Cool gases descend. You say “If you only heat the upper levels of the atmosphere” but we’re not only heating the upper levels, we’re also cooling them by radiation to outer space. More to the point, we’re doing it differentially – heating the day side of the planet and cooling the night side. The horizontal differential creates a pressure gradient which drives advection. Turbulence and convergence drive vertical mixing, resulting in atmosphere rising and falling. It doesn’t have to go up or down very far to set up an adiabatic gradient.

    “According to them, which matches my understanding, lapse rate is only important for determining the level at which effective radiation occurs.”

    Then you understood incorrectly. The emission characteristics of greenhouse gases determine the level at which effective radiation occurs. (“The increase in opacity due to a doubling of CO2 causes Ze to rise by 150 meters.”) The lapse rate is required to determine its effect at the surface.

  90. Anonymous

    @56 : Accurate and unquestionable temperature readings can be obtained only from the satellites (see RSS). Weather satellites were launched in the 1970s. Hence, we can only make these kind of comparisons with regards to the last 40 years.
    No one can make a serious assertion using world temperature readings prior to the 1970s, since they were all taken using ground thermometers and they suffer from the known “urban island effect”. Hence, very questionable. Nowadays, we still don’t have a global grid of land-based thermometers ! How did the author get a grid with the world temperature readings in the 1880s ? Did he traverse every ocean in a systematic sailing pattern ? Not likely…
    If you have the time, look for articles comparing RSS readings with GISS(land-based thermometers) readings and see how flawed GISS is.

    As for global temperature evolution in the recent years, take a look at the following brief articles :

    The last 10 years :
    http://antonuriarte.blogspot.com/2008/01/los-ltimos-diez.html

    Global temperature 2001-2008 :
    http://antonuriarte.blogspot.com/2008/12/temperatura-global-2001-2008.html

    Global warming is a thing of the past, people…

  91. noen

    Nullius in Verba said:
    “the enhanced greenhouse effect supposedly changes temperature by 2 C per century [...] net energy balance is effectively negligible”

    Thank you for admitting that global warming is real. You think it is unimportant, most climatologists disagree.

    “Increasing energy absorbed at the surface will just increase the rate of convection”

    Misdirection is a familiar creationist tactic. While it is true that when you heat up a pot of water you will observe an increase in covection which will have the effect of transferring heat from the bottom of the pot to the surface of the water this process, while real, is irrelevant. If enough heat is added the water will boil.

    Your entire argument seems to me to rely on this fundamental misdirection. It is simply irrelevant to the question of global warming whether or not convection will exchange heat from the upper atmoshpere to the surface of the earth. The global temperature will still rise because the Earth is thermodynamically a closed system. The energy has nowhere to go just as in the pot of water, the water has nowhere to go (it has an air tight lid) and so it will eventually boil.

    Your argument is fundamentally dishonest.

    “All the energy that would normally get radiated back into space all gets radiated back into space. It just hangs around for a bit longer before doing so.”

    Sort of like how the energy from the gas burner “hangs around a bit” in the pot of water before exiting as steam.

    “More energy radiated from the atmosphere to the surface would cool the atmosphere and warm the surface, increasing the vertical temperature gradient past the point of instability.”

    How so? The energy is comming into the system from the atmosphere itself. The effect of CO2 is that every cubic meter of our atmosphere re-radiates in the inrared, heat, and this is constant globally because the sun is always shinning. Even if your theory is true, and your predicted cooling of the upper atmosphere is NOT observed, it is irrelevant. Heat is being input into the system and it has nowhere to go. Therefore it will raise the overall temperature. The predictions of *that* theory have been confirmed.

    “If you’re talking about radiation from the Earth into outer space, this is true. But when talking about the surface and the atmosphere, it is not.”

    What part of *global* is confusiing to you? As has already been pointed out we are not talking *only* about the surface of the Earth but about the biosphere as a whole. Your argument is fundamentally dishonest.

    1. You admit that global warming is real. You just feel that it is unimportant.

    2. Your theory that transferring heat from the atmosphere to the surface will result in cooling the upper atmosphere is false. It is bad thermodynamics (laughably bad) and the predictions of your theory have not beed observed.

    3. You rely on dishonestly re-directing the conversation from global warming, which you admit exists, to your pet theory which is unsupported by the facts.

  92. Luke

    76. Dan Kennan: “Luke it IS called an astronomy blog…it’s just become more and more anti-Republican ranty and AGW activist of late. Perhaps Phil could get another blog or column to address those issues. His call of course but I reserve my right to give feedback as long as comments are accepted.”

    Well, we reserve the right to keep pointing out that specifically commenting in a internet thread about a subject you have no interest in to say you have no interest in it is pointless. There are plenty of astronomy posts, this blog is still primarily about astronomy, and the posts that aren’t are easily skipped. If you don’t like exposing yourself to opinions that conflict with your own, then don’t read them. I encourage you to anyway, it’s good for critical thinking, but to each his own. I like reading opposing viewpoints, but I think we all have subjects that just make us irritated to talk about. The best thing to do in the case of encountering some opinion you don’t like/disagree with on the internet is either engage or move on, not tell someone to stop talking about something like we’re disrupting a family dinner. Change the channel, turn the page, scroll the mouse wheel, etc., or stick around and express your opinion on the matter.

  93. Utakata

    I think Dan is too busy writing a complaint to Discover Magazine to hear out your suggestions in a reasonable manner, Luke.

    I also suspect Discover will politely laugh in his face….since Phil has long ago established a legal binding relationship with Discover to post the things he does today on this blog. I don’t think Phil would be using Discover if he couldn’t.

  94. Brian137

    Dan Kennan,
    It sounds as though you enjoy Phil’s pictures and articles about astronomy but object to what you interpret as political commentary. I do not care for politics myself, but another clearly stated purpose of Phil’s blog is to debunk misconceptions about science. The following is part of Phil’s self-description, which appears in the upper right corner of this page:

    He is a skeptic, and loves fighting misuses of science as well as praising the wonder of real science.

    The process of debunking often involves pointing out who is promulgating the bunk. The Republicans enter the discussion only because they have chosen to uphold the anti-scientific position on global warming and a few other issues.

  95. Chris Winter

    TheBlackCat wrote (#29): “Management won’t look 10 years down the road if the customers won’t.”

    That’s not a given, but it is often true. Which is where government regulations come in, because they have to if government is to fulfill its duties.

    Let me throw out a couple of questions for everyone.

    If people have a short attention span, being able to consider only events within the next year, is that helpful or harmful to them?

    Is such a short attention span good for society, or bad for it?

    No need to reply; just think about these questions.

  96. jj

    What’s the margin of error? If it is 2 degrees celsius then maybe the world is getting cooler.

  97. Nullius in Verba

    #92,

    “Thank you for admitting that global warming is real.”

    Sigh. After explaining the precise mechanism by which greenhouse gases do cause warming at the surface, repeatedly and at considerable length, you still have managed to convince yourself that I’m arguing against it?!

    “Misdirection is a familiar creationist tactic.”

    Where on Earth did that come from?! It really is a bit like Godwin’s law, that one. If you can’t think of a proper argument, just insinuate that anyone who disagrees with you must be a creationist. Well, you’re completely and utterly wrong. I’m a liberal atheist. (Not that it should matter to the argument.) And I think it’s a marvellous demonstration of your reasoning skills that you should leap to such an erroneous conclusion so easily.

    “[...] this process, while real, is irrelevant. If enough heat is added the water will boil.”

    Again, you failed to read the argument. The water was already boiling. The question was, what would happen to the temperature of boiling water if you added more heat, and the answer is that the temperature would stay constant, it would just boil more vigorously.

    “The energy has nowhere to go just as in the pot of water,”

    The energy is radiated into outer space.

    “How so? The energy is comming into the system from the atmosphere itself.”

    If energy is coming down to the surface from the atmosphere, then the atmosphere loses as much energy as the surface gains (since energy cannot be created or destroyed). If a photon of energy goes from air to surface, the energy added at the surface must be subtracted from the air to make the equations balance. If energy passes internally from one part of a system to another part of the same system, all the pluses and minuses must cancel out. If there’s a plus at the surface, there must be a minus somewhere else to cancel it.

    “The predictions of *that* theory have been confirmed.”

    The predictions of *that* theory are that the temperature profile of the atmosphere will be exponential, and the average surface temperature will be 45 C. Those predictions are wrong. And it was in trying to figure out why they went wrong that Syukuro Manabe developed the radiative-convective balance that I’ve just described.

    “What part of *global* is confusiing to you? As has already been pointed out we are not talking *only* about the surface of the Earth but about the biosphere as a whole.”

    99.9% of the biosphere is in what meteorologists consider the surface. As the temperature drops to below freezing about 2.5 km up, there’s not much living up there.

    And the “global” measures of temperature that is mapped above is all based on thermometers no more than 2 m above the ground. So would you argue that that isn’t ‘global’?

    “1. You admit that global warming is real. You just feel that it is unimportant.”

    True.

    “2. Your theory that transferring heat from the atmosphere to the surface will result in cooling the upper atmosphere is false. It is bad thermodynamics (laughably bad) and the predictions of your theory have not beed observed.”

    My ‘Bad thermodynamics’ (does that go with bad astronomy?) says that if you transfer heat from A to B, that B will warm and A will cool. If you think you’ve got a version of thermodynamics in which B will warm but A will stay at exactly the same temperature, then my congratulations! You’ve just invented infinite free energy.

    “3. You rely on dishonestly re-directing the conversation from global warming, which you admit exists, to your pet theory which is unsupported by the facts.”

    It’s not my pet theory, it’s that of climate scientists, and it’s not exactly very much of a redirection go from talking about global warming to talking about how the greenhouse effect causes global warming, is it?

    I’m not going to throw back any charges of dishonest argument. I just think that for ideological reasons you feel a desperate need for me and everybody like me to be wrong, and as a result you’re not thinking very carefully about the arguments. It’s very tribal.
    But it’s just resulted in you (and by association your ‘side’) accidentally arguing for violating energy conservation, which makes the tactic look a bit silly. I suggest a pause for reflection.

  98. Chris Winter

    Brett wrote (#36): “I will take the ideological rants against oil (and coal for that matter) seriously when those making them sell their cars, disconnect from the grid, do no air travel, get rid of their electronic devices, buy no imported products or food etc etc etc.”

    I often wonder if complaints such as yours have the goal of shutting off the speech of people whose point of view you dislike.

    Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone avoided hypocrisy to the maximum extent possible. Unfortunately, this would not stop the glaciers from melting. The validity of a statement is not negated by hypocrisy on the part of its makers.

  99. Chris Winter

    Kevin wrote (#46): “Even the speed of recent warming can be explained without reverting to blaming mankind for every nth degree.”

    Really? How?

  100. TheBlackCat

    No, it includes them. The land changes temperature between night and day at a rate that depends on its heat capacity. The heat capacity of miles of rock is not significantly different to miles of water.

    Anyone who has lived near the water for any length of time can tell you that is utter baloney. Google “sea breeze”. This is an extremely well-known effect. I experienced it every day for half my life.

    It’s not heat capacity you’re thinking about, it’s the rate at which heat flows into the land or oceans. Again, another example where the simplistic explanations get it wrong.

    That is what heat capacity is!.

    Me too.

    No, you have been arguing against this all along.

    No, it doesn’t. Weather affects life on the scale of a few years.

    That is what I have been saying. You have been talking all along about time scales of days. You said I was wrong when I said that we had to look at time periods of years. Now you are acting like this is supposed to be news to me? You suddenly switch your story and act like what I have been saying is what you have been saying.

    On a local scale, we are not seeing anything that we haven’t seen before. The signal is still far smaller than the noise, and you have to average over continent-scales to even detect it.

    That is utter nonsense. We are seeing major changes in animal and plant life cycles, migration patterns, ranges, permafrost, sea ice, and glaciers worldwide. You apparently haven’t been reading the literature on this. I have.

    I can give citations, if you like. My favourite was Ted Turner claiming that we would all be cannibals or dead by 2040, but I can give you people saying the world will explode, that bits of New York would be under water by 2010, that sea levels will rise anything from 7 to 100 m, that we will be invaded by vampire moths, that life is undergoing a mass extinction event, or whatever.

    Sorry, I thought we were talking about actual scientists here, and not the uniformed public. Wasn’t it you arguing that we shouldn’t listen to the uniformed public that first started this discussion?

    Quite so! And that’s the number that matters.

    But you were arguing there weren’t any local changes! By definition there must be local changes if the global average temperature has risen. Do you even know what “average” means?

    Err, no. I’m using exactly the same model as NASA and pretty much every climatologist on the planet. But I’m giving it at a deeper level of explanation than they usually do when talking to the public.

    No, you aren’t. Even the paper you cited has a completely different model than the one you describe.

    What I originally said was “heat constantly enters and exits the system, and taken as a long term average, the amount radiated away is equal to that absorbed.” You took that to mean that I had said it was equal all the time.

    What I was actually referring to was “For the purposes of greenhouse calculations, equality is generally assumed. There’s a lot of noise, so you get excursions in both directions.” But now you are saying we can’t assume equality.

    I agree with the analogy. It’s a good analogy. We’re using the same model, but I’m talking about a different aspect of it. You’re talking about the non-equilibrium situation when the hole has just been narrowed but the water level has not yet increased, while I am talking about the equilibrium situation after the water level has settled down at the new level.

    Fair enough.

    Because the equilibrium is reached much faster than the equilibrium level rises, it is always close to equilibrium (with far larger random variations about it).

    Faulty assumption based on a simplified model. It is well-known that ocean circulation is leading to heat sinks that render this assumption invalid.

    I said “The same amount of heat is radiated away with or without greenhouse gases, but if it radiates from the surface, the surface will be at about -20 C, and if it radiates from up in the air, the air will be at -20 C [...]”

    That is WRONG. The amount of energy radiated away is NOT the same. The source you cited says they are not the same. That is the whole problem with your model.

    Cool gases descend. You say “If you only heat the upper levels of the atmosphere” but we’re not only heating the upper levels, we’re also cooling them by radiation to outer space.

    Which leads to a net heating. Even an ideal blackbody would stay at the same temperature.

    More to the point, we’re doing it differentially – heating the day side of the planet and cooling the night side. The horizontal differential creates a pressure gradient which drives advection. Turbulence and convergence drive vertical mixing, resulting in atmosphere rising and falling. It doesn’t have to go up or down very far to set up an adiabatic gradient.

    Vertical mixing would result in an adiabatic gradient over the area mixed, but it wouldn’t be able to add energy to areas that are not being mixed except by conduction. You would get convection, but only over the layers of the atmosphere where the upper levels are cooler than the lower levels. If energy is not being mixed into the lowermost levels at a rate faster than it is being added to the uppermost levels, the uppermost levels will remain warmer. So yes, you would need pretty thorough mixing.

    Then you understood incorrectly. The emission characteristics of greenhouse gases determine the level at which effective radiation occurs. (”The increase in opacity due to a doubling of CO2 causes Ze to rise by 150 meters.”) The lapse rate is required to determine its effect at the surface.

    If you look at the equations and the diagram, the CO2 effectively shifts the temperature gradient upwards. This temperature gradient is determined by the lapse rate. So yes, it is critically important for setting the point of effective temperature.

  101. Chris Winter

    Bobito wrote (#48): “There are all these articles: (yes, not all deal directly with CO2/warming)” . . . “Then there are a few (1000+ and growing) scientists that may have a say.”

    The validity of a scientific conclusion is either determined by how many voices support it, or it isn’t.

    If it’s just a numbers game, then the dissenting scientists are outweighed by the mainstream scientists.

    If it’s not a numbers game, then the dissenters have to come up with some evidence that proves their case. Let them do that, and we can all turn to some other controversy.

  102. TheBlackCat

    Again, you failed to read the argument. The water was already boiling. The question was, what would happen to the temperature of boiling water if you added more heat, and the answer is that the temperature would stay constant, it would just boil more vigorously.

    You still have not explained how this has anything whatsoever to do with anything we have been talking about.

    99.9% of the biosphere is in what meteorologists consider the surface. As the temperature drops to below freezing about 2.5 km up, there’s not much living up there.

    And the “global” measures of temperature that is mapped above is all based on thermometers no more than 2 m above the ground. So would you argue that that isn’t ‘global’?

    Aren’t you the one arguing it is easy to derive the temperature at any altitude using the lapse rate?

    “1. You admit that global warming is real. You just feel that it is unimportant.”

    True.

    You have provided no reason whatsoever to support such a conclusion, and every time I bring up a response to this you ignore it. You respond to what I say on the basic physics, but cut out every point I make about the implications.

    My ‘Bad thermodynamics’ (does that go with bad astronomy?) says that if you transfer heat from A to B, that B will warm and A will cool. If you think you’ve got a version of thermodynamics in which B will warm but A will stay at exactly the same temperature, then my congratulations! You’ve just invented infinite free energy.

    That will only happen as long as A is warmer than B. If you think you can keep transferring energy from A to B until A is cooler than B (without any external work, which you wouldn’t have) then congratulation, you’ve just invented infinite free energy (a type 2 perpetual motion machine, as opposed to a type 1).

    So here is how things work. You add energy to A. A transfers energy to B. By the second law of thermodynamics, A and B must both now be warmer than they were before. A will not be cooler, which is what would be required for your model to work.

    So noen is right here and you are wrong. He was not arguing for violating the first law of thermodynamics, he was arguing against violating the second law of thermodynamics.

    It’s not my pet theory, it’s that of climate scientists, and it’s not exactly very much of a redirection go from talking about global warming to talking about how the greenhouse effect causes global warming, is it?

    No, since you are the one who brought it up first.

    I’m not going to throw back any charges of dishonest argument. I just think that for ideological reasons you feel a desperate need for me and everybody like me to be wrong, and as a result you’re not thinking very carefully about the arguments. It’s very tribal.

    So why have you been systematically ignoring my responses to your points about the implications of global warming? You have made a point, I argued against it, then you just ignored my response. You have done this repeatedly.

    Sorry, noen is right here. You have been using the discussion of the basic physics to distract people from the fact that you are ignoring criticisms of your points. I was hoping this was just an occasional lapse but you have been doing it selectively and systematically, so I won’t ignore it any longer.

  103. Chris Winter

    Solius wrote (#75): “Could you please explain how BP’s “irresponsible” behavior resulted in the Macondo blow out?

    It is my understanding that it was a shoe failure… a shoe poured by Halliburton.

    While BP took some risks trying to get the well ready for completion, I haven’t seen anyone making the argument that those risks led to the blow out?

    I thought that the kill answered those questions???

    Educate me!”

    AIUI, BP ordered a speedup in drilling, against advice, in order to save money. This led to fracturing the rock in the well bore and the loss of a drill head — and some $25 million. They had to drill a new hole next to the first.

    Also, at the last step, BP settled for 6 “centerizers” vs. the recommended 21, and ordered the drilling mud pumped out of the well before the cement had fully set — again, to save money. Both these things made a blowout more likely.

    And don’t get me started on the defects in the BOP, the misleading documentation, or BP’s record in general.

  104. t-storm

    And Leon is getting laaaaaaarger!

  105. brett

    Chris winter @ 100- no chris it is not meant to shut off viewpoints I dislike.You assume I dislike viewpoints that point out problems with the use of oil/coal, I don’t I am interested. I agree that there are problems (these can be addressed and minimized) but I believe that you have to balance these out against the benefits.To argue that the costs of the use of oil/coal outweighs the benefits to humanity on an individual or global basis is simply ridiculous.We live in a time where more people are better fed,educated,their health outcomes vastly improved,are more mobile, have greater wealth, daily lives enhanced etc. than ever before in history and so much of this due to the cheap energy and technological advances this provides.And no I am not in the pay of ‘Big Oil’ I am an artist, a figure painter. What i do dislike is the hypocracy of those who preach against these ‘evils’ while blissfully availing themselves of the benefits of oil/coal and who maintain a dreamy disconnect between their own lives and what they are preaching against or who think that because they use low voltage light bulbs it will all be ok. The honesty required on this issue from those who promulgate catastrophic AGW and who propose solutions to same needs to be forthcoming- changing light bulbs,buying a Prius, building a wind farm will NOT make any meaningful difference to global Co2 production, much greater, may we say DRACONIAN measures would need to be taken to reduce Co2 (if it really is the extreme problem that many propose). I do take on board though that there is a range of opinion on the severity of AGW by those in the AGW camp (not all catastrophists)–cheers brett

  106. noen

    The Power of the Internet compells me to respond!

    Nullius in Verba said:
    “Again, you failed to read the argument. The water was already boiling”

    I understood your argument and rejected it. You proposed model is false, the seas are not boiling, last time Ilooked. You seems to have a belief that I don’t understand you and that if only I did then I would agree with you. Vanity of vanities.

    It appears we have a teachable moment. To wit:

    You are correct that in your hypothetical model of the biosphere as a pot of boiling water that, according to your scenario, if you input more energy into a pot that is already at themordynamic equilibrium the temp of the water will not rise above 100C. However the rate at which the water is liberated as steam will increase. The reason that I feel justified in rejecting your model is because it fails to accurately capture the real world conditions of our globe. You see, it is not enough to simply propose a model and then do your best to defend it. Which you do quite well btw. You have to re-evaluate it and adjust it’s parameters so they reflect the real world and not how you would like the real world to be. You cannot command reality to be as you would wish it to be, it commands you. *You* must change to fit with it, not the other way around.

    Unlike your pot of water, the Earth is not exchanging heat with space. This cannot happen. The better analogy to your open pot of water would be a pressure cooker with no release valve. In that model if the walls are strong enough you could eventually convert all the liquid water in the system into live steam. YOu know, like Venus. Most people consider this an undesirable outcome.

    “The energy is radiated into outer space.”

    No, it just isn’t. Heat is not radiation. Heat is the average kinetic energy of the molecules of what ever is “hot”. Heat can *only* be transfered through physical contact. There is no magical transference of heat with empty space. How could this happen? There is nothing there which can absorbe the kinetic energy. If *all* of the available energy were in the form of infrared radiation then I would agree with you, but it isn’t. CO2 reflects infrared energy that would normally radiate into space back to the earth where it is converted into heat. Even then it is only a small percentage that gets converted into thermal energy, and yes a good deal does escape into space, but there is enough left over to warm the Earth.

    “If a photon of energy goes from air to surface, the energy added at the surface must be subtracted from the air to make the equations balance.”

    You seem to be confused about how global warming actually works: Greenhouse gases let sunlight through to the Earth’s surface, which gets warm; the surface sends infrared radiation back up, which is absorbed by the gases at various levels and warms up the air; the air radiates some of this energy back to the surface, keeping it warmer than it would be without the gases.

  107. TheBlackCat

    No, it just isn’t. Heat is not radiation. Heat is the average kinetic energy of the molecules of what ever is “hot”.

    No, temperature is the average kinetic energy of molecules. Heat is the transfer of such energy from one object to another. Heat and temperature are not the same thing.

    Heat can *only* be transfered through physical contact.

    There are three methods of heat transfer. One is conduction, which is what you are talking about. The second is convection, which is bulk mass flow in a fluid. The third is radiation.

    Energy is being transferred to empty space, although it isn’t really heat flow because there is nothing on the receiving end. The proper term is blackbody radiation, rather than heat flow.

    Otherwise what you said is correct.

  108. Undeniable

    @102. TheBlackCatSays:

    That is utter nonsense. We are seeing major changes in animal and plant life cycles, migration patterns, ranges, permafrost, sea ice, and glaciers worldwide. You apparently haven’t been reading the literature on this. I have.

    Maybe you have to read the literature to see the changes because they are not otherwise perceptible. I think the usual tactic is to tack ‘The effects of climate change on…’ onto whatever you want to study to ensure a grant. The sort of ‘changes’ you mention have been happening since the year dot.

    Still, nice to see an actual scientific argument going on in these comments for a change…

  109. TheBlackCat

    Maybe you have to read the literature to see the changes because they are not otherwise perceptible.

    Tell that to people in California seeing large squid species they have never seen before. We are also getting significant die-offs of insects because the plants are opening early, and die-offs of lizards due to major changes in temperature.

  110. Nullius in Verba

    #102,

    “Anyone who has lived near the water for any length of time can tell you that is utter baloney. Google “sea breeze”. This is an extremely well-known effect. I experienced it every day for half my life.”

    Me too. It’s a real effect. But it’s not because of the higher heat capacity of water.

    “That is what heat capacity is!.”

    Nope. Heat capacity is the amount of heat required to change the temperature of a body by a given amount.

    If you consider the Earth’s crust, 50 km thick rock, the amount of heat required to change its temperature is considerable – far larger than anything relevant to climate. Thus, the heat capacity of the land is not small.

    But normally we’re not interested in the heat capacity of the land, but just of the surface layer relevant to a given change on a given timescale. According to the 1D heat diffusion equation, a temperature change at the surface penetrates into the body a distance proportional to the square root of time. Thus there is a sort of variable ‘surface heat capacity’ that increases at an ever slowing rate. The capacity increases without limit on longer time scales, but the power it can absorb diminishes with the inverse square root, as the advance of the penetration depth slows.

    Water is different primarily because it is transparent to shortwave, and it is a fluid. Sunlight is absorbed not at the surface, but throughout the top 100 m or so. This heated water then rises by convection, is stirred by waves and currents, and generally transports the heat far more quickly into a much thicker layer. Of course, because warm water rises, its further transport into the water below the well-mixed layer is far slower, so it is not the same neat square root relationship as for land.

    However, for both land and ocean, the primary consideration is not the heat capacity, but how fast heat is transported into the bulk of the material – the effective thermal conductivity, if you like.

    “You have been talking all along about time scales of days.”

    Most stuff is a matter of days, some things extend to a few years. Not decades, or centuries. However, to the extent that I’ve discussed the impacts of climate on life, I did indeed use years.

    My discussion of impacts was mostly in #81. I noted that we routinely survived temperature changes and rates of change that were far larger. Then I gave an example of how the annual average temperature near where I lived rose by 3 C over a period of 40 years. I compared warm summers to warm winters.

    To say that I have been talking about days all along is thus incorrect. It certainly shouldn’t be news to you.

    “That is utter nonsense. We are seeing major changes in animal and plant life cycles, migration patterns, ranges, permafrost, sea ice, and glaciers worldwide. You apparently haven’t been reading the literature on this.”

    Yes, but major changes in animal and plant life cycles have always occurred. It is partly that we have only now started to look, partly that studies that draw a connection to global warming are more likely to get funding, so anyone who wants to study migration patterns for their own sake will obviously be tempted to add a few words on the subject.

    But the animals and plants can only respond to local temperatures, and local temperatures are still nothing out of the ordinary. Farming, hunting, forest clearance, and industry generally are all far bigger anthropogenic effects. It’s all perfectly normal, and has happened before.

    “Sorry, I thought we were talking about actual scientists here, and not the uniformed public. Wasn’t it you arguing that we shouldn’t listen to the uniformed public that first started this discussion?”

    I assume you meant “uninformed”?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “this discussion”, so I can’t pin down what comment gave you that impression, but I don’t believe that the public should not be listened to. I think they are often wrong and that this is equally true of both sides of the debate. But the general public, whose views the policymakers are meant to represent, are informed more by the likes of Al Gore and Ted Turner than they are the likes of Ramanathan and Coakley. As such, the statements of media figures are arguably more important than those of scientists, and the same goes for when scientists are speaking to or criticising the media rather than writing papers behind paywalls.

    But as a couple of those statements came from actual scientists, rather than the uninformed public, I think I rather lost track of your point.

    “But you were arguing there weren’t any local changes! By definition there must be local changes if the global average temperature has risen. Do you even know what “average” means?”

    No, I was arguing that there were no significant local changes, that rose above the background noise level.

    “What I was actually referring to was “For the purposes of greenhouse calculations, equality is generally assumed. There’s a lot of noise, so you get excursions in both directions.” But now you are saying we can’t assume equality.”

    I’m saying that we can and should assume equality. It’s an approximation of the reality, but a good one.

    “Faulty assumption based on a simplified model. It is well-known that ocean circulation is leading to heat sinks that render this assumption invalid.”

    It’s well known that the hypothesis has been proposed as a way of explaining the lack of warming so far, but that most of the predicted heat is “missing”, and has not shown up in measurements of ocean temperature.

    “That is WRONG. The amount of energy radiated away is NOT the same. The source you cited says they are not the same. That is the whole problem with your model.”

    Er. What?! I thought we’d just agreed on this? When you said “So the total amount of energy in the atmosphere rises until the amount of energy flowing out once again matches the amount of energy flowing in. This is what I have been saying all along [...]“?

    The energy arriving is constant (approximately). At equilibrium, the energy ariving equals the energy leaving (to a good approximation). Therefore the energy leaving is constant. Yes? Why is this the whole problem with my model?

    “we’re also cooling them by radiation to outer space.”
    “Which leads to a net heating.”

    Ummm. Right…

    “If you look at the equations and the diagram, the CO2 effectively shifts the temperature gradient upwards. This temperature gradient is determined by the lapse rate. So yes, it is critically important for setting the point of effective temperature.”

    Thank you!!!

    -

    PS. Thanks for #109, as well!

  111. Nullius in Verba

    #104
    “Aren’t you the one arguing it is easy to derive the temperature at any altitude using the lapse rate?”

    Yes. I don’t have so much of a problem with the concept of global surface temperature. But I was being told off for only including the surface, rather than the whole biosphere.

    “You have provided no reason whatsoever to support such a conclusion, and every time I bring up a response to this you ignore it. You respond to what I say on the basic physics, but cut out every point I make about the implications.”

    To be honest, I didn’t think we had progressed to the point where we could even discuss it sensibly. If we can’t agree on the basic physics, where I’m actually a follower of the mainstream, there’s not much point in diving into the far more controversial topics of climate sensitivity, cloud forcing, impact, and life’s adaptability.

    Whether it is important depends on a lot more than the basic physics, and there are about a hundred pages ripped out of the argument between what we’re talking about here and “the implications”.

    Yes, I believe that the globe has warmed, and that man made CO2 has contributed. I don’t believe that it is a significant problem. But nothing I’ve said above touches on any of my reasons for that.

    “If you think you can keep transferring energy from A to B until A is cooler than B (without any external work, which you wouldn’t have)”

    Well done! (Especially for the parenthetical caveat. A lot of people neglect that one.)

    But I would clarify, the actual rule is that there can be no net transfer of heat from colder to hotter, without an external supply of work. Since I am talking about back radiation from a cold sky to a warm surface here, the usual explanation of the greenhouse effect, the difference is quite important. In fact, this is a favourite (incorrect) sceptic argument, to say that back radiation violates the second law stated in just the form you used.

    But in this case I quite agree with you. It’s just that we weren’t talking about the net.

    “So here is how things work. You add energy to A. A transfers energy to B.”

    Ahh! And it was going so well there for a moment!

    No, we were only talking about ‘A transfers energy to B’. If you want to extend it to a broader view, then it is a case of the sun (hot heat source) adding energy to B, B transferring energy to A, A transferring energy to both B and out of the system (to the cold heat sink of outer space).

    So it is Sun -> B <-> A -> outer space.

    noen’s argument was that because B was getting input from A, it must get warmer as a result, but that when I pointed out that this would cool A, thus changing the vertical gradient rendering it unstable to convection and thus increasing B-to-A transfer by convection, he/she disagreed.

    “No, since you are the one who brought it up first.”

    No, actually I wasn’t. My first comment on the subject was #45, in which I noted only that #43 needed to include convection and feedbacks in the explanation, not just how CO2 interacts with photons.

    I regarded it as a brief and relatively uncontroversial point that believers and sceptics could both agree on, but everything since has been desperate running argument against it. I have no idea why.

    #50 said I MUST explain, and so I did.

    “You have been using the discussion of the basic physics to distract people from the fact that you are ignoring criticisms of your points.”

    Please provide a concise summary of the criticisms you want answering.

  112. noen

    Black Kitty said:
    “Heat is the transfer of such energy from one object to another.”

    Ahh, sorry about that. I was using heat and temperature as though they are the same. I’m not an expert, not even close.

    Nullius in Verba said
    “If you consider the Earth’s crust, 50 km thick rock, the amount of heat required to change its temperature is considerable – far larger than anything relevant to climate.”

    It’s a wonder that the Earth ever experienced warmer climates in the past at all. Given your argument that the Earth’s crust is one big heat sink and that convection currents in the atmosphere will keep us all nice and cool how do you account for CO2 forced climate changes of the past?

    “Yes, but major changes in animal and plant life cycles have always occurred.”

    And economically in the long run we’re all dead.

    “It is partly that we have only now started to look, partly that studies that draw a connection to global warming are more likely to get funding, so anyone who wants to study migration patterns for their own sake will obviously be tempted to add a few words on the subject.”

    So species are going extinct because we are looking at them and because of the massive corruption in the sciences. Also, the fact that climate science is so successful that people will mention it in their papers is why it can’t possibly be true.

    Good to know.

    “noen’s argument was that because B was getting input from A, it must get warmer as a result, but that when I pointed out that this would cool A, thus changing the vertical gradient rendering it unstable to convection and thus increasing B-to-A transfer by convection, he/she disagreed.”

    No, I understood that. Heating the atmosphere will create/increase convection currents. So what? That doesn’t change the fact that the system as a whole, A and B, will get warmer. Which you admit anyway.

    You’re just a troll. A science troll, but troll nonetheless.

  113. noen

    This:

    ” it is a case of the sun (hot heat source) adding energy to B, B transferring energy to A, A transferring energy to both B and out of the system (to the cold heat sink of outer space).”

    and this:

    “Greenhouse gases let sunlight through to the Earth’s surface, which gets warm; the surface sends infrared radiation back up, which is absorbed by the gases at various levels and warms up the air; the air radiates some of this energy back to the surface, keeping it warmer than it would be without the gases.”

    Are different ways of saying the same thing. The latter is a direct quote from Real Climate. Nice to see you agree with them.

  114. Nullius in Verba

    #115,

    “Given your argument that the Earth’s crust is one big heat sink…”

    My argument was that being one big heat sink wasn’t the whole story.

    “how do you account for CO2 forced climate changes of the past?”

    Very few of them were CO2 forced. We’re not 100% sure what caused them, but orbital dynamics and the sun are generally favoured hypotheses. The CO2 changes happened after the climate changes, in response.

    “So species are going extinct because we are looking at them…”

    No. Species are going extinct at a much faster rate than usual (although still barely noticeable) because of habitat loss due to inefficient agricultural methods and hunting. They’re not going extinct because of climate change. Every single one of them has survived far greater changes of climate in the past.

    “No, I understood that. Heating the atmosphere will create/increase convection currents. So what?”

    So why argue with it for so long, if you agreed all along?

    “Which you admit anyway.”

    You use the word “admit” as if I had ever said or argued anything different. Or as if it somehow refuted my lack of concern. I’m perfectly fine with the idea that more CO2 will result in a slight contribution to heating – in fact, I’ve argued for that point at considerable length. All I’m saying is that we should understand the physics correctly, because purveying incorrect versions just results in more sceptics coming to the conclusion that the basic theory is a load of hooey.

    Which while convenient for my side, I nevertheless regard as a problem because it’s against my principles to take advantage when it isn’t scientifically justified.

  115. Naomi

    #117,

    No. Species are going extinct at a much faster rate than usual (although still barely noticeable) because of habitat loss due to inefficient agricultural methods and hunting. They’re not going extinct because of climate change. Every single one of them has survived far greater changes of climate in the past.

    Have they? Precisely those species, exactly as they are now? There’s a species of possum in Queensland that’s going extinct because it can’t tolerate temepratures much higher than 30 degrees celsius – this species could not have existed in a time when the average temperature for the region was 35 degrees celsius.

    When the climate changes like that, isn’t it usually organisms that can adapt to the higher or lower temperatures that survive, while those that can’t die off? Evolution due to natural selection – if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the gene pool. The species that would have existed in the ice ages or in hothouse Earths of the past are NOT the same ones we have today.

  116. Bobito

    @103: “The validity of a scientific conclusion is either determined by how many voices support it, or it isn’t”

    That wasn’t what I was going for, I wouldn’t call anything I posted proof (although some physicist may disagree with me saying that about their work). I was going for the validity of the skepticism.

    I’d hope you agree that “anti science” gets thrown around by the pro-AGW side on many occasions when, in fact, dismissing scientifically based skepticism is, by deffiniton, going against scientific method. AGW science is too unsettled to support conclusions at this point, it can only support hypotheses and theories. If it was settled, you would be able to say “the sea ice will all be gone in X years” or “our global average temperature will be X in 2050″. These claims just can’t be made because the science isn’t settled. As an example, we know when the sun will go supernova because the the science of hydrogen fusion is settled.

    As far as the numbers game. The numbers are a bit skewed due to the head start the pro AGW side got, and momentum they continue to maintain, due to political funding and backing. The numbers are catching up tho…

    I’m reminded of Stephen Hawking going against his own theories on black holes. This is what science should be about. AGW scientist should be trying to prove themselves wrong, not touting their results, at this point.

  117. Bobito

    @101: It’s pretty easy to explain. I do agree that AGW has some affect on the current warming, but earth’s climate warms and cools as part of it’s cycle. The simplest example is ice ages. It’s more complex than that, we go up and down on our way in and out of ice ages as well.

    I’d be surprised if you haven’t seen the ice core data, and especially the temperature charts with the “hockey stick” thrown in to put it in context that have been going around lately. See here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-sticks-unprecedented-warming-and-past-climate-change.html

    This data also helps put the much quoted “warmest year on record” in better context. It’s only the “warmest year on record” if you dismiss scientific evidence to the contrary.

  118. Nullius in Verba

    #118,

    Ah! You must mean the white variety of the lemuroid ringtail possum, which was recently declared extinct after a grand total of 20 hours of searching in a rain forest, and the extinction blamed on a recent hot summer due to Global Warming. Subsequently, three further specimens were found – who presumably had not seen the memo.

    Actually, the white variety is not a separate subspecies, but simply an ‘albino’ strain of the abundant brown ringtail. (Not strictly an albino, but similar in that it is just a gene mutation.) There is no evidence that they can’t survive hot weather. (Forests are generally cooler, and the possums sit out hot days sheltering in hollow trees.) There is no evidence of any significant increase in hot weather in the neighbourhood, (one hot summer does not constitute climate change). And there is absolutely no evidence that it has gone extinct. They are rare, but only as rare as they ever were.

    But it makes good copy – the newspapers are happy to print stories about cute fluffy animals in danger uncritically.

    The last ‘hothouse of the past’ would have been the Holocene Climate optimum, about 8,000 years ago. Some new species may well have evolved since then, but probably from ancestors that did survive warmer climates, and they will presumably inherit the same tolerances. Yes, in extreme hot or cold weather animals will die, and this will have an effect on their evolution. But there’s nothing new about that.

  119. Naomi

    #121,

    Okay, bad example. Although, I never said it had GONE extinct – merely that it was GOING extinct. Endangered, which you conceded. Climatic stress can add to the other stresses a species is already experiencing – sure, the main bulk of it might be from deforestation or introduced predators or whatever, but when a species is already under stress, making things too hot for comfort can be a tipping point.

    And the Holocene Climatic optimum which had a grand total of less than half a degree celsius anomaly? That’s not really the type of hothouse I was referring to, given that we’re seeing anomalies up to 2 degrees celsius in the past decade.

  120. noen

    Nullius in Verba
    “We’re not 100% sure what caused them, but orbital dynamics and the sun are generally favoured hypotheses. The CO2 changes happened after the climate changes, in response.”

    You really are *such* a troll. Which is it? Does CO2 contribute to warming or not? Previously you accepted the standard model for how CO2 fits in to global warming but now you seem to be trying to walk back from that position. One you took just a scant few posts above.

    Yes, past changes in climate were caused by orbital dynamics, not CO2. Afterall there were no humans present to dump trillions of tons of CO2 into the environment. Once the Earth wobbled and started to warm, CO2 and methane was released from permafrost and it contributed to the already warming Earth making it warmer longer than it would have otherwise.

    Do you deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas? In the above posts you seem to agree that it is (though you never know with trolls). So… if CO2 is a greenhouse gas how would it be possible for it NOT to contribute to global warming?

    “So why argue with it for so long, if you agreed all along?”

    Because it is irrelevant. The Sun warms the Earth, the Earth reflects infrared into the atmosphere where some of it is absorbed by CO2 which is radiated back to the Earth making it warmer than it would be if greenhouse gasses were not present. Previously you have tried to argue that all of the infrared gets released into space resulting in a net cooling effect, which is false. Then you tried to argue that convection currents are set up in the atmosphere when some of the infrared is absorbed, which is irrelevant.

    “All I’m saying is that we should understand the physics correctly”

    But you have misrepresented the physics. You compared the Earth to a boiling pot of water and claimed that inputing more energy will not raise the temperature. That is true for a pot of water only when it is boiling and not at all true for the Earth. Even if it were, if a solar flare reached out and boiled away the seas, the resulting steam would still not go anywhere. Unlike the pot of water on your kitchen stove, water vapor on Earth has nowhere else to go.

    That is a denialist argument and I understood it correctly the first time. You are saying that any CO2 forcing will not raise global temps because it (thermal energy) will be transported to the upper atmosphere where it will be released by a magical process into space. That’s your argument and because it denies that CO2 plays a role in climate change I was justified in making the assumptions I did. However, like the good little troll you are you then changed your tune when your initial arguments failed to convince anyone. So now you are trying to claim that you believed in standard climate science all along but now you just don’t think it’s a big deal.

    Wank on troll, wank on.

  121. brett

    noen– how old are you?

  122. brett

    noen- read what is posted, digest it, then try to address what that person is actually saying not what you think or wish that they were saying- and learning some manners would not hurt also–cheers brett

  123. Messier Tidy Upper

    @80. TheBlackCat Says:

    “Who’s supposed to be arming?”
    Globes, of course.
    “And against who or what?”
    Other globes.

    So that’s a “battle of the planets” :

    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=FoO5H_UKCrw

    scenario then? ;-)

  124. Messier Tidy Upper

    @77. rmpumper Says:

    “It has been postulated that this is the real reason for both global warming since higher energy levels of the Milky Way are almost certain to cause our Sun to burn hotter and emit higher energies. Indeed, temperatures have been seen to rise on virtually all the planets in our system.

    Er, no, they haven’t. See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXgiml5UwM&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    for a great rebuttal of this particular crock.

    @90. Anonymous :

    As for global temperature evolution in the recent years, take a look at the following brief articles. [Snip!} The last 10 years … Global warming is a thing of the past, people…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y15UGhhRd6M&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    Refutes the claim that global warming stopped in 1998 in an informative, entertaining manner.

    Also I’d urge that climate contrarians please check out the playlist of such rebuttals here :

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=029130BFDC78FA33

    Because, chances are, their claim whatever it is if its contrary to the climatologists consensus has been debunked already there.

  125. gss_000

    @120. Bobito

    You are wrong. What you’ve done here is mix facts and claims no one is making to support your erroneous position. No one is saying that the Earth has never been as hot as it is before. Sure, in the past ice ages changed temperatures, but not on this time scale. Furthermore, for the first time we can tell, CO2 is being injected into the system in a different manner and a different type of forcing. Ice ages and rebounds involve CO2 in a totally different way. The feedback is different. And you know, scientists aren’t ignorant. It is really easy to change the models to check if this is the case and it isn’t.

    “AGW science is too unsettled to support conclusions at this point, it can only support hypotheses and theories.”

    Sure, the predictions of the effects on the Earth need to be refined, but even with new studies, so far the temps are tracking pretty well with the predictions:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/hide-the-incline-with-the-rank-trick/
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/all-that-data/

    It’s hard to say the data isn’t there. It’s like saying physics is crap because we don’t know what makes up dark matter. There are always areas that need more study, but the basic conclusion is there. The “skeptics” usually (not all, but most I’ve sen) will harp on one piece of information incorrectly. The science behind AGW is good when represented correctly.

  126. @109. TheBlackCat Says:

    There are three methods of heat transfer. One is conduction, which is what you are talking about. The second is convection, which is bulk mass flow in a fluid.

    *Really* pedantic nit-pick here but I can’t resist pointing this out :

    Convection also works inside stars including our Sun and red dwarfs which are plasmas rather than strictly “fluids” and also in the Earth’s mantle (hence Hotspot volcanoes & continental drift among other things) which, I gather, is plastic semi-molten rock and not exactly a fluid either! ;-)

  127. Gunnar

    #88 Nullius
    While it is true that I don’t have a degree in physics (or any other science), my best grades in school were always in my science classes, and I actually majored in physics at one time in my college career (just before I joined the Air Force to escape being drafted into the Army). I regret now that I never got around to finishing up that major.

    But I have tried to keep myself well read and informed about science all my life, and consider myself much more scientifically literate than the average layman. I don’t have any of the misconceptions about science that you listed. For example, I have known ever since high school that electrons do not physically flow through wires at nearly the speed of light as many believe, just as the speed of sound in any given medium does not imply that the atoms or molecules in that medium through which it is transmitted are moving at that speed or that ocean tsunamis propagating at hundreds of miles per hour do not imply that the water itself is physically moving that fast or even moving in the direction of the wave at all.

    Still, I have read a lot about the debate about AGW and tried to follow the discussion here and look at and compare the links suggested, and it still seems very clear to me that you are losing the argument big time! It is not that I want to believe that AGW is real or that it can have significantly adverse affects on the ecosystems on which we all depend. I devoutly wish that AGW was not anything to worry about! Unfortunately, the more I read and understand about both sides of the issue, the more apparent it becomes to me that it is (at least potentially) a very serious problem that needs to be addressed and ameliorated somehow, if we can find a viable means to do that.

  128. David Conrad

    “… and Leon’s getting larger.”

  129. Gunnar

    We have to also, as a species, come to grips with the fact that any proposed set of solutions to our energy and pollution problems and eliminating human poverty and misery that does not include somehow ending exponential growth in human population and per capita energy consumption is doomed to disastrous failure in the not too distant future! Our current, continuing population growth is only possible because there still exists other species of living organisms competing with us for the available resources that have not yet been driven towards extinction to make room for more humans.

  130. Messier Tidy Upper

    @90. Anonymous : The last 10 years … Global warming is a thing of the past..

    See also :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwnrpwctIh4&feature=related

    The last decade was the hottest on record. 2005 was the hottest year on record with 2007 tying with 1998 as second hottest.
    NASA oberves that :

    The last decade has brought temperatures to the highest levels ever recorded, and the last year of the decade (2009) was tied for the second warmest year in the modern record, a new NASA analysis of global surface temperature shows. The analysis, conducted by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, is based on temperatures recorded at weather stations around the world and satellite data over the oceans.

    Source : http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42392

    It would be great if the planet wasn’t heating up to a problematic extent because of our C02 emissions, I’d love that to be the case – but it just isn’t. :-(

    As climatologist Patrick Michaels, a climate contrarian to some extent, notes to an audience of climate contrarians at the 7 minute mark of that first videoclip linked here :

    “So global warming is real and the second warming in the 20th century, people had something to do with it, alright. Now get over it!”

    Arguing over possible solutions is justifiable – arguing that there isn’t a problem when there clearly is, not-so-much. :-(

  131. Nullius in Verba

    #124,

    I’m beginning to think that your conviction that I’m some sort of ‘troll’ holding a particular set of beliefs is so strong that it’s not going to matter how often I point out that I’ve been arguing against that position for two days now. You’re determined to slot me into the proper category in your worldview, no matter what.

    In your first paragraph you see evidence of ‘walking back’ from the position that CO2 contributes to warming (where there was none), and in your second paragraph you paraphrase almost exactly what I just said, and that you had just complained about. In your third, you are asking again if I deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, while acknowledging that I’ve already said that it is.

    You have also managed to misinterpret a hypothetical example designed to demonstrate a gap in your reasoning as an actual serious proposal of how things work, even though I’ve already explained all that. You have managed to misunderstand how it works physically, and then asserted “That’s your argument” even though the argument comes to the opposite conclusion to mine.

    I don’t think there’s any point in making another attempt, unless you can break this compulsion to fit me into your dichotomous worldview. But thanks for your help – you’ve made my point about believers far better than I could ever have hoped for. That last line was a classic.

    #126,

    My thanks!

    #130,

    My comments were not intended as any criticism of your competence in physics! I consider the ‘interested amateur’ to be a valuable – vital, even – contributor to the debate, as I said in the penultimate paragraph of #88.

    I was simply seizing the opportunity you provided to make two points: 1. that uninformed deniers are fundamentally no different to uninformed believers when it comes to doubting mainstream science, and 2. that a lot of the explanations given to the general public are incomplete or inaccurate and this is a major source of the dispute and opposition to scientific authority. Many of you people have been asking what you can do about the growing public and political disbelief in AGW – well, this was supposed to help you out.

    “…it still seems very clear to me that you are losing the argument big time! It is not that I want to believe that AGW is real…”

    It depends on what you think “the argument” actually is. If you think I’m arguing that AGW isn’t real, then you are totally wrong and have missed the point entirely. No wonder you think I’m losing! I wasn’t even trying to win that argument!

    Humans naturally try to fit the complexities of people and events into narratives, and you have a narrative here of anti-science deniers in Congress and elsewhere “rearranging the deckchairs” while the heroic scientists and enlightened campaigners struggle to save the world from imminent destruction. Some add an Illuminati-like conspiracy of oil-funded secret societies manipulating these events from behind the scenes to spice things up. It makes a good story! But while you’re tilting for windmills, the world (and Congress) is shifting towards a different narrative.

    (I’m not going to argue here that the new narrative is any better. But whether you like it or not, it is coming, and it would be best for both sides if more people are aware of what is going on.)

    Much of this argument has been about the struggle to fit me into the character of “anti-science AGW denier”. But I keep reading from the wrong script! It has been truly fascinating to watch how you all react to that.

    My thanks to all for an interesting debate.

  132. Bobito

    @124 / 126:

    The “Noen’s” of the world just don’t realize what a problem they are. Both sides of any issue have them. Whether it’s debating AGW, politics, or even as trivial as debating the merits of your local sports team.

    What these “Noen’s” don’t realize is that all the do is embolden the “Noen’s” on the other side of the debate. Resorting to dismals, deflection, and name calling just give the “Noen’s” on the other side and easy excuse to dismiss any point being made about the very argument they are trying to defend. “Noen’s” have an inability to admit when they are wrong, whether it’s completely, partially, or marginally wrong. “Noen’s” also cannot bring themselves to find ANY merit in the arguments of the other side. Regardless of facts, they will plow ahead with their ideologically based arguments.

    This leads to another point. Many people, that are far more reasonable than the “Noen’s”, assume that the “other side” is the only side that has “Noen’s”. So they, while having an ability to be reasonable, can use the “they are a Neon” defense to dismiss facts as well.

    I’m reminded of a debate I was having with a friend’s wife. After much discussion, it was obvious that her points had little or no validity. At this point, I said to her “It’s clear you’ve lost the debate, so that leads me to this question. If you are in a debate, and are actually convinced that you are now wrong, will you continue to debate your side rather than admit defeat?” Her response: “Of course I will!” as if it would be silly to do anything else.

    The polarization, of so many issues, is a major problem. In place of rational debate we get a “War” that must be won by one side or the other. As if all issues are black and white. Issues are almost always grey, but somehow we seem to spend more effort defending black or white when we should be spending more effort defining the grey.

    Finally, It seems that too many people find it hard to believe that an individual can agree with points on both sides of an argument. This is frightening to me. It really should be hard to believe that any individual could ALWAYS agree with EVERY point on one side of a debate. What are the odds that someone just happens to agree with every point on one side? The odds are quite long, which just goes to show that too many follow their heard rather than investigating the merits of their claims. And the media in this country (USA) fits this same mold…

  133. Bobito

    I’m not sure why I felt compelled to put an apostrophe in “Noen’s”. Perhaps it’s a subconscious feeling that the “Noens” need to take ownership of the problems they cause. But, of course, they never will because they are always right…

  134. noen

    Bobito said:
    “they never will because they are always right…”

    When I defend evolution against creationists I am always right. If there are indeed objective facts of the matter then it is possible to get things wrong.

    If you believe that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas you are wrong.

    If you believe that the Earth is not warming due to human contribution of CO2 you are wrong.

    The world does not care about you and if you get in it’s way it will crush you.

  135. Bobito

    Noen, thank you for the predictable response.

    “When I defend evolution against creationists I am always right”

    The first funny bit is that I used “Perhaps the creationists should hire you as their PR director. Clearly your ability to debunk science is second to none.” As a dig against you in #67. So obviously I agree it’s silly to argue against an “issue” that is settled.

    The second funny bit is that my post #136 was politically, ideologically, and argumentatively agnostic. The bias came from your mind. I said right at the top “Both sides of any issue have them.”

    Definition of Issue (as pertains to the context used): “a point in question or a matter that is in dispute”. So, what you really did there, is say that there is a point in question about about creationism. Once again, to tie this back to my post, you have hurt your cause by way of your tactics.

    AGW science is not settled. Certainly we know much about it, and certainly there is much validity to the science. But there are many qualified people, including scientists within the IPCC, that have concerns about how complete the science is and/or how the science is being applied.

    An example of this is as follows:
    According to the Manua Loa CO2 measurements, CO2 has been rising steadily. See Here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/co2_global_mauna_loa.gif
    -and-
    According to the CRU, global temperature averages have been level for the past 5 years. See Here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/

    Does this mean that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas? Absolutely not, but it does show that since CO2 levels and global temperatures are not in lock step there are other factors in play than just CO2.

    The third funny bit is that you’ve completely dismissed, in this thread, two people that are probably closer to your opinion on the subject than they are to the deniers you wish to insult (people being Nullius and myself). Once again, your tactics not helping your cause.

    I agree that dumping CO2 into our atmosphere is a problem that needs to be dealt with. I just think, along with many other rational people, that it’s not something that requires a quick fix, the earth will be fine for the next 50-100 years while we work towards solutions to the problem.

  136. Andy F

    We live on a finite planet, a very small stage in the cosmic arena and yet we increasingly pollute the oceans and air due to our individual greed, the greed of big corporations, and our profligate waste of energy. I ask you, what other species sh@ts in its own nest like homo sapiens?

    Our economic models continue to totally rely on growth… but as the Earth is finite in size and has finite resources what will we grow in to? We are like fermenting yeast or bacteria in a petrie dish… we are poisoning ourselves and our planet with our own waste products.

    To those wo don’t think human produced CO2 is of any importance when it comes to damaging the Earth, isn’t it prudent to take out an insurance policy and err on the side of caution? The odds are just too high to do nothing. Or perhaps for the suits economic greed is just so much more important than the future of the Earth: the only home we’ve ever known.

  137. Gunnar

    @Nullius

    Thanks for clarifying your position to me. I’m glad that you agree that AGW is really happening. I still am becoming increasingly certain, based on my continuing examination of both sides of the argument as evidence continues to accumulate, that AGW is potentially a more worrisome problem than you seem to think–especially since the human contribution to global warming seems to be growing exponentially, and will likely continue to do so unless we succeed in drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and stabilizing or even reducing our population size. Besides that, even if there were no danger of adverse consequences from AGW per se, there are still excellent and compelling reasons to find and develop alternatives to fossil fuels and encourage energy efficiency and resource conservation and discourage profligate waste and consumption. Andy F is exactly right!

  138. noen

    Bobito said:
    “AGW science is not settled.”

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. That the Earth is warming is an objective fact. That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is an objective fact. That humans have dumped giga tons of CO2 into the environment is an objective fact. That the warming we are seeing is the result of human activity “AGW”, is settled science. What the eventual consequences will be is not settled but the evidence is very strong that it will be catastrophic for many species on Earth including humans.

    “According to the Manua Loa CO2 measurements, CO2 has been rising steadily.”

    One volcano is not responsible for all the CO2.

    “According to the CRU, global temperature averages have been level for the past 5 years.”

    This is of course misleading though isn’t it. Global Mean Temp

    The CRU is a denialist org funded by Shell Oil.

    “you’ve completely dismissed, in this thread, two people that are probably closer to your opinion on the subject than they are to the deniers you wish to insult “

    Nullius is a troll. He’s probably even a paid troll. His position on global warming is irrelevant at best and incoherent at worst. If I had not pushed him he would have never revealed that he agrees that global warming is real and that CO2′s role in it is real because as a troll his objective is to sow confusion, uncertainty and doubt. Also, revealing his true opinion would have made it clear that his his position, that convection in the atmosphere mitigates CO2′s contribution to warming, as irrelevant to the larger question of the fact of global warming. Which is the topic of the post.

    I don’t know what you think so I don’t know if you are close to my opinion. You keep trying to make very bad arguments like suggesting that Manua Loa is responsible for the rise in CO2 globally. Some climate denialists have admitted that warming is real and that human contributed CO2 is responsible but, like Nullius, they have altered their tactics and now try to suggest that its no big deal, nothing to worry about, lets move along. This is very very dangerous. Global warming is a BIG deal, it will deeply affect your future and your children’s future.

    There is a very real possibility of a 4 *C rise or more in global temps. Such a result would be absolutely catastrophic for many people. Many will die. To argue against that just so one can get one’s ego stroked is utterly irresponsible and indefensible.

    Look at the picture at the top of this page again. Look at where it is red and then ponder this: Thats where you get your food from. When we can no longer grow wheat do you really believe the rich will share their food with you? People talk about adapting to climate change. “Adapt” is not the word to describe a 4C/7F world.

    The word to use is “depopulation”.

  139. QuietDesperation

    I always point to the guy living in the carboard box as to why the market system does not really work.

    Really? Why?

    I did volunteer work back in my undergrad days for college credit. There were some cardboard box guys. Their reasons for being there had absolutely nothing to do with what economic system they lived under.

    So what 100% perfect system do you support? Mind you it needs to magically fix all mental illness and mitigate all chemical addictions if it’s going to pass your litmus test up there, otherwise, by you own argument, it fails.

  140. Chris Winter

    Bobito wrote (#120): “It’s pretty easy to explain. I do agree that AGW has some affect on the current warming, but earth’s climate warms and cools as part of it’s cycle. The simplest example is ice ages. It’s more complex than that, we go up and down on our way in and out of ice ages as well.”

    I was referring to the current speedup in warming rate. I know of no way to explain it except the rising CO2 concentration caused by burning fossil fuels. It can’t be the Sun; measurements show sunlight intensity to be constant over that time period (roughly 30 years.) It can’t be volcanoes; there’s not enough seismic activity. That pretty much eliminates energy sources with time-variance.

    “I’d be surprised if you haven’t seen the ice core data, and especially the temperature charts with the “hockey stick” thrown in to put it in context that have been going around lately. See here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-sticks-unprecedented-warming-and-past-climate-change.html

    This data also helps put the much quoted “warmest year on record” in better context. It’s only the “warmest year on record” if you dismiss scientific evidence to the contrary.”

    And that evidence would be… ???

  141. Chris Winter

    Bobito wrote (#119): “That wasn’t what I was going for, I wouldn’t call anything I posted proof (although some physicist may disagree with me saying that about their work). I was going for the validity of the skepticism.”

    The way to do that is to point to some evidence that supports your argument. Saying X number of scientists disagree won’t cut it.

    “I’d hope you agree that “anti science” gets thrown around by the pro-AGW side on many occasions when, in fact, dismissing scientifically based skepticism is, by deffiniton, going against scientific method.”

    Just because a scientist says he’s skeptical of AGW doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. If he does know, that will become clear soon enough. But I wouldn’t count on it happening.

    “AGW science is too unsettled to support conclusions at this point, it can only support hypotheses and theories. If it was settled, you would be able to say “the sea ice will all be gone in X years” or “our global average temperature will be X in 2050″. These claims just can’t be made because the science isn’t settled. As an example, we know when the sun will go supernova because the the science of hydrogen fusion is settled.”

    You think “settled” is a binary value? Something is either completely known or totally unknown? That’s not how most science works.

    And by the way: Our Sun cannot go supernova. It’s not massive enough.

    “As far as the numbers game. The numbers are a bit skewed due to the head start the pro AGW side got, and momentum they continue to maintain, due to political funding and backing. The numbers are catching up tho…”

    Let me clue you: There’s plenty of funding available for work to disprove AGW. What’s not available is valid evidence for that.

  142. Bobito

    @144
    “I was referring to the current speedup in warming rate

    Yup, so was I. Did you look at the link I provided? There are a few occasions where temperatures rise at the same pace we are seeing today. Most easy to see in the Greenland data due to the scale.

    “And that evidence would be… ???”

    Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice core data in the link I provided.

    @145
    The way to do that is to point to some evidence that supports your argument. Saying X number of scientists disagree won’t cut it.

    The link I provided had excerpts with high level overview of the evidence behind the dissenting views, but the full report is available here: http://cds054.dc1.hwcdn.net:80/g9z6c6z5/cds/p/b/f/6/bf663fd2376ffeca/2010_Senate_Minority_Report.pdf

    The report goes into a bit more detail, with links off the report to even more finite detail. Much of the information is based around how the science is being applied to CO2 in the atmosphere (the physicists problem with AGW) and how AGW science is not yet mature enough to substantiate the claims many of it’s scientists have made.

    Again, none of this is proof one way or the other, but there is real basis for skepticism…

    “Just because a scientist says he’s skeptical of AGW doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about.”

    Couldn’t agree more, but you must apply the same logic to all the scientists, on both sides of the argument, to make your statement a fair argument.

    “You think “settled” is a binary value?”

    No, I don’t. Something as complex as AGW science will probably never be settled full stop. But to claim it’s settled at this point is dismissing a significant amount of dissenting views. Thanks for correction on supernova. It underscores the point that you could correct me and I can come back with nothing other than “thanks for correcting me” because there are no dissenting views to the contrary.

    “Let me clue you: There’s plenty of funding available for work to disprove AGW.”

    No doubt. Oil and coal companies are spending lots of money towards research to contradict claims that hurt their business. Are you claiming that any scientific data that comes from this money should just be dismissed? And, again, if you use this logic you must use it on the other side to make it a fair statement. Why not just review the validity of the science rather than worry about where the funding came from?

    This is a big problem with AGW science (on both sides). Rather than going about the science properly and let the science lead you to a theory then trying to prove or disprove the theory. To much AGW science starts with a theory and the money is being spent to find a way to prove it without worrying about the disprove side…

  143. Joseph G

    @#143 Quiet Desperation: Good on you for your community service. And too true, sadly. There’s quite a lot of discussion of homeless issues in my town, and I know some people who are on the forefront of advocacy for the homeless. Even as I’ve become more politically liberal over the years, the more I learn about homelessness as a whole, the clearer it becomes to me that political and economic “systems” are largely irrelevant to their plight, and that solutions can only come on the scale of individuals or small groups. There are people who fall through the cracks no matter what the system is – any system, by definition, is going to have donut holes, loopholes, cracks, gaps, or other orifices. And particularly with regard to mental illness, the only way to truly “solve” the problem 100% would be to violate the Constitutional/human rights of certain individuals (ie institutionalize people who really don’t want to be institutionalized*).

    That being said, over the last couple of years, there has been quite a noticeable rise in new homeless people, specifically those with no addictions or mental illnesses. It’s quite scary in a “there but for the grace of God go I” sort of way.

    *and are not recognizably dangerous to themselves or others, of course.

  144. QuietDesperation

    @147. Exactly. There is no Big Book Of Free Markets with a chapter on “Ignore The Homeless” or “Screw Up The Banking System”. Those things are human faults and errors.

    Nothing is perfect. We’re *supposed* to learn from the errors and iterate the system until it’s much better tuned and hopefully more adaptable to change. But people get too wrapped up in their ideologies and can’t let go of their preciousssss ideas. Instead of iterations (Economy 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, etc…) We get Economy 3.1, 95, Bob, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, etc. Instead of the minimum law required to fix a problem, we get the Office Ribbon. :-)

  145. mazatzal

    Why blame congress? Because they don’t start dishing out penalties and incentives in the form of laws? Anything the government attempts becomes a tragic parody of it’s intent, because it is a law, and laws are notoriously unadaptable and hard to alter once set in stone. I’d rather believe in the public power “demand and supply.” Get it done without government: they only muddle things up.

  146. Joseph G

    @148 Quiet Desperation: I had to look up Office Ribbon. Then I LOL’d :D

  147. Someone upthread made a comment to the effect that a 2°C change in global mean temperature isn’t a worry because day/night temperature variation is much greater than this.

    However, the global mean temperature during glacial periods was a mere 6°C lower than pre-industrial mean temperature (summary here).

    So 2°C up may not seem like much, but 6°C down is the difference between what we had 1.5 centuries ago and where I live being covered in a dirty great ice sheet.

    In short, 2°C is more likely to be of some significance than not.

  148. Undeniable

    @112. The BlackCat

    Tell that to people in California seeing large squid species they have never seen before. We are also getting significant die-offs of insects because the plants are opening early, and die-offs of lizards due to major changes in temperature.

    People in California – listen up: some of your lizards are in a slight decline. Perhaps you should stop turning them into handbags.

  149. Undeniable

    @151. Composer99

    So 2°C up may not seem like much, but 6°C down is the difference between what we had 1.5 centuries ago and where I live being covered in a dirty great ice sheet.

    In short, 2°C is more likely to be of some significance than not.

    Maybe it will have the effect of staving off the next ice age by a few thousand years.

  150. alejandro c.

    dear the blackcat
    in another post (about chris Mooney and AGU)you have said:

    “176. TheBlackCat Says:
    December 10th, 2010 at 5:53 am
    It’s been 4 days since I posted my criticism of Phil’s response back in post 95 and 3 days since his response and everyone elses’ criticism of that. You can’t chock this up to being busy, he has made several blog posts in the meantime. It seems pretty clear that Phil has no intention whatsoever of actually addressing the issues people have made. He is either ignoring those who disagree with him, which is disappointing, or just left the thread after his last post, which is cowardly.”
    today is 14/XII/2010… any comments??????

  151. Nullius in Verba

    #151,

    I think that might have been me.

    Ice ages, and climate generally, are more complicated that the single one-dimensional global mean anomaly number that seems to be the only thing that appears in the public debate. It also matters when and where. A warm winter has different implications to a warm summer. Sharp spikes have different implications to broader rises. Continental and maritime, desert and rainforest and mountain climates respond differently.

    I gave an example from where I lived (in #81) where the temperature has increased 3 C in annual average over a period of about 40 years. Significant, yes. But were we formerly half-way to an ice age, with glaciers rolling down from the north? Did it become a burning desert, where once green fields lay? Was the land rendered a barren waste, did it sink beneath the sea? Was nothing able to adapt to the sudden new conditions and did all the trees and people die? No.

    We live on a planet that varies from +50 C in the North African summer desert to -80 C in the Antarctic winter. We have climates as wet as the rain forests, as dry as the deserts, as cold and high as the mountains of Tibet. Life on Earth is remarkably adaptable – and on the whole seems to prefer warmer temperatures. (Do you get more species diversity near the equator or the poles?) It varies day to day, week to week, year to year, and for that matter, century to century. Amidst all this constant change and amazing variation, would we even notice, and if we did, what makes us so sure change would be bad?

  152. Brett @ 63: “voluntary conservation agreement on 200 acres of bush near Nimmitabel”!
    Good on yer Mate! That’s a nice place – been through a couple of times when taking the backroads from the coast to Mt Kosciusko (we lived on Mt. Stromlo, near Canberra at the time. We were just renting, so we couldn’t do nearly as much to the house in regards to energy efficiency, as we wanted to – but my wife works on energy-efficiency standards for the AU gov.).
    So you and I both do our parts, although I would like to be able to do a lot more. I find it very confusing, however, that first you say that if someone believes AGW, then she/he has to cut all possible fossil carbon releasing activities, or be a damned hypocrite. On the other hand, you say it wouldn’t matter diddly-squat in the global picture.
    What makes more sense to me, is to do my part as well as I can, AND to be a politically active citizen: write politicians, newspapers, take part in demonstration, voice your opinion in general – and remember that your money is a pretty good voice too: Buy stuff with a smaller carbon footprint, invest in green-tech companies, make donations to organizations and politicians that know that our ways affect our only home: the Pale Blue Dot.
    And as to AGW: In 2004 we emitted 33 GT of CO2 from fossil fuels alone. During that year the CO2 in the atmosphere increased by about 19 GT. About 45% of our emissions gets removed by the oceans and the biosphere, accounting for only 19 GT making it to the atmosphere. The ocean, however, is acidifying, which among many other effects, will mean a reduced capacity for absorbing our CO2 emmisions. The biosphere will also in general be adversely affected by climate change, in terms of its capacity for absorbing our CO2 emmisions. Both means a faster acceleration of the increase in atmospheric CO2. The Arctic is warming and the permafrost is melting (ask people living there) releasing a lot of methane (which is about 80 stronger greenhouse gas than CO2 – methane will be oxidized to CO2 in a decades time) – this is not wild extrapolations – it is happening now. But it has just begun, so we haven’t really felt it yet. Soot in the atmosphere from our industries have had a slight cooling effect, moderating the warming effect of our greenhouse gas emmisions. As we clean up this pollution, we will also feel the full brunt of our CO2 emmisions. Whether the oceans will warm enough to release the methane in clathrates is far from clear, but concidering the about 10000 GigaTons of carbon (in methane) stored in the clathrates would oxidize to almost 12 times the current concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, I would think it would be prudent to let them stay put and try to limit the warming of the oceans.
    The greenhouse effect of our CO2 emmisions is straight forward and clear – all those feedback mechanisms makes it a bit beyond scary to me. A lot of people dismiss this as a problem for Nature – this “thing” outside – but we are safe inside our houses. I see it the other way round – Nature (as a whole) will be just fine – she’ll look a bit different, but she has survived a lot worse in the past. We humans, on the other hand, have forgotten most of our survival skills, living in completely anthropogenic comfort zones. I think we’ll be in trouble. I have a 4 yo daughter, and I don’t like the way we are handing over the Planet to her and her generation.
    Best wishes, Regner
    P.S. FSM is short for “the Flying Spaghetti Monster” – Google it – it is worth it :-)
    P.P.S. Sorry for another long post…

  153. jeff

    This topic is full of political agendas. I know a climatologist Heidi Cullen, I recommend reading her book: The Weather of the Future. It is very level headed , historical, and honest climate science.

    My own professional opinion is that indeed the IPCC was correct: mankind is almost certainly causing this global warming. There is still a legit debate over the amount of heating : 1 to 4 deg Celsius, which will determine mankind’s fate. We just don’t know so it’s better to be cautious than what Heidi warns us about: if we wait until the flood is here, we’ll already be up to our heads and drown.

  154. Chris Winter

    Bobito wrote (#146): “Yup, so was I. Did you look at the link I provided? There are a few occasions where temperatures rise at the same pace we are seeing today. Most easy to see in the Greenland data due to the scale.”

    I don’t dispute that. But the causes of those earlier changes were not what’s operating today. There are only a few things that can cause the warming we see now. Scientists are looking at all of them, but finding only one that’s able to explain the majority of it. That would be us, adding the extra CO2. Deforestation and other land use changes account for some, black carbon for more. But they are minor, as I understand it.

    “No doubt. Oil and coal companies are spending lots of money towards research to contradict claims that hurt their business. Are you claiming that any scientific data that comes from this money should just be dismissed?”

    I’m claiming that any scientific data disproving AGW can be dismissed because it doesn’t hold up to close examination. That may not remain true in the future (though at this point it’s likely to), but so far all the evidence supports AGW.

    “And, again, if you use this logic you must use it on the other side to make it a fair statement. Why not just review the validity of the science rather than worry about where the funding came from?

    This is a big problem with AGW science (on both sides). Rather than going about the science properly and let the science lead you to a theory then trying to prove or disprove the theory. Too much AGW science starts with a theory and the money is being spent to find a way to prove it without worrying about the disprove side…”

    You are assuming the contrary evidence is valid, and the mainstream just isn’t listening. I’m saying you’re wrong. Any scientist would love to get his hands on some evidence that disproved AGW, because it would make him famous (and very wealthy, if he played his cards right.) But there’s one thing that’s always been missing from that evidence: validity.

  155. Messier Tidy Upper

    @140. Andy F Says:

    … I ask you, what other species sh@ts in its own nest like homo sapiens?

    Chickens. My folks recently got some new ones that have taken to sleeping in their nesting box – guess you you can tell! ;-)

    Also many animal species famously mark their territories using scent incl. urine and leaving their droppings out in the open.

    … We are like fermenting yeast or bacteria in a petrie dish… we are poisoning ourselves and our planet with our own waste products.

    Um .. you realise that by saying that you’ve just answered your own question right? Bacteria as well as humans mess their own homes. Not that that’s a good thing but humans aren’t unique in that trait.

  156. Messier Tidy Upper

    D’oh! That’s supposed to be :

    guess how you you can tell!

    Natch. Saw the typo too late. :-(

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