As arctic ice shrinks, so does a denier claim

By Phil Plait | June 22, 2011 11:00 am

It’s been known for some time that the ice sheet in the arctic is thinning. And now, a new study (PDF) by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program lays this out in grim detail.

The report lists 15 key findings about the changes at the Earth’s northern regions. Fifteen. Here are four that alarmed me particularly:


1) The past six years (2005–2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic. Higher surface air temperatures are driving changes in the cryosphere.

3) The extent and duration of snow cover and sea ice have decreased across the Arctic. Temperatures in the permafrost have risen by up to 2 °C. The southern limit of permafrost has moved northward in Russia and Canada.

7) The Arctic Ocean is projected to become nearly ice-free in summer within this century, likely within the next thirty to forty years.

12) Loss of ice and snow in the Arctic enhances climate warming by increasing absorption of the sun’s energy at the surface of the planet. It could also dramatically increase emissions of carbon dioxide and methane and change large-scale ocean currents. The combined outcome of these effects is not yet known.

That last sentence is — pardon the expression — chilling. The real truth of this is we don’t know how this will affect the planet. We know what’s happening (sea levels are rising as the Earth warms, for example), and we have a good idea why it’s happening (despite deniers’ claims), but we don’t know the long-term effects. All we can say for sure is, they won’t be fun.

And speaking of deniers, a claim I’ve heard bandied about is that a single volcano eruption pours more carbon dioxide into the air than humans do over the course of a year (the time scale may vary depending on the claimant, but as you’ll see it doesn’t matter).

Guess what? That’s totally wrong. As geologist Terry Gelrach points out in a paper in the American Geophysical Union’s Eos newsletter (PDF), human contribution to atmospheric CO2 completely outstrips anything the Earth puts out; humans put over 30 billion tons — that’s billion with a b, folks — of CO2 in the air annually, while volcanoes emit about 0.3 billion tons.

In other words, when it comes to carbon dioxide, humans outgas volcanoes by a factor of 100. As Gerlach points out, light duty vehicles (cars and pickup trucks) put out ten times as much CO2 as volcanoes do alone. In fact, human emission is greater than even what a supervolcano like Yellowstone would put out.

Clearly volcanoes have nothing on us. They’re hardly a fluctuation on what we’re doing.

So, the next time you hear someone trying to use that unfactoid to deny climate change, let them know what the truth really is.

Tip o’ the parka hood to NASA’s Earth Observatory and to Tamino at Open Mind. Image credits: NASA/Landsat-7; USGS/Wikipedia.


Related posts:

Our ice is disappearing
Sea ice, coming and going
Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA): on climate change, makes wrong even wronger
Dramatic glacial retreat caught by NASA satellite

Comments (142)

  1. “But you’re just a scientist. I talked to someone who said they heard a scientist say that volcanoes do put out more CO2 than humans! Since experts disagree, it’s ok to just pick one. You can’t say my opinion is wrong, it’s my opinion.”

    :-/

  2. DennyMo

    Regarding #12, how does decreasing the ice coverage increase emissions of CO2 and Methane? Does exposed seawater emit these two substances into the atmosphere?

  3. HvP

    DennyMo,

    My guess concerning your question concerns the possibility that cold water can be more fully saturated with dissolved gasses like Methane and CO2. As ocean water heats up dissolved gasses tend to percolate out of it. Also, the ice itself has these gasses trapped in them which will be released as it melts.

  4. Jim Baerg

    DennyMo
    SFAIK seawater doesn’t, but thawing permafrost does.

  5. John

    You have four findings numbered 1, 3, 7 and 12. Obviously you are hiding something. What are those other findings? Could it be that they show there is no climate change?

  6. Ax

    @DennyMo: Exposed sea water is warmer, and warmer seawater melts ice, and melted ice releases those substances. So, yes.

  7. Sam H

    @3 HvP: I read Bill McKibben’s chilling-yet-optimistic Eaarth a couple months ago. It said that about 3 years ago ships cruising around the new Arctic waters had already found methane bubbling at the surface from deep below, very likely from the undersea permafrost melting (although the connection to AGW is less certain). But it seems pretty damned likely to me. If the Earth warms by 5 degrees (forget a “2 degree” target; the time has come and went and for all practically it won’t happen), could this happen in the oceans on a very large scale? I’ve always feared whether or not the vast amounts of CO₂ being absorbed by the ocean could one day be released in a carbon/methane “Hiroshima”, the outcome of which would probably be Earth turning into Venus.

    As well, an opinion column in my newspaper yesterday was a piece on how cold winters and tornado activity aren’t linked to the “skulduggery or obfuscation” of global warming alarmist prediction. Pretty much total BS (I’m considering writing a full-blown reply, although papers probably don’t publish columns by 17 year-olds), but it’s sad how many people are blinded still. And in fact, the reason we don’t all take drastic action is not that the fault lies with our denialism (even though tons of it does), but with climate change itself – it’s happening on timescales too big for the short-sighted, shocked-by-immediate-spectacle human psyche to appreciate, let alone be impacted by enough to provoke action.

  8. Chris

    Thank you for this article. Back in the early 90’s when I was naive enough to take whatever Rush Limbaugh said as fact, he made the claim on his radio show that the then recent Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines had dumped out more CO2 than man had emitted. Ever.

    For some reason that always stuck with me. I’ve never been a denier of climate change, but I’ve always had this little “fact” in the back of my head and it always influenced how I thought about “man made”, vs. cyclical changes over millenia when it came to this topic. Why I took it as fact, I’ll never know.

    This really changes everything for me. This blew my mind in two ways. First, that this “fact” is demonstrably wrong; and second, why did I never think of questioning it in the first place.

    Thanks again, Phil.

  9. vel

    Sam, at least write a letter to your local paper’s editor. Depending on the editor, they may indeed ask you to write an opinion piece. I’m definitely not 17 anymore but I’ve had it happen to me.

  10. Charlie Prima

    All these Deniers need to be put in jail for endangering the rest of us. If scientific experts employed by the government tell us we need a carbon tax to direct more funding to their endeavors, it should be a crime to attempt to subvert them.

    Thank goodness we have a group of intellectual elites including people like Phil with some power to control the ignorant mass of livestock called “the public” and tell them when to go to war against terrorism, what clothing to wear for minimum ecological impact, what jobs they are genetically suited for, which serotonin modifying pharmaceuticals to take for maximum happiness, and the correct number of offspring to produce.

    You don’t let cattle wander around outside their fences because they are too stupid.

    Thank you Phil! Keep up the good work!

  11. Richard Wolford

    John @5, the link to the paper was given, so how about you go read those other findings? I think Phil was pretty clear that he only pulled out 4 of the findings.

  12. Paul Buckley

    I enjoy your telling us to tell others “what the truth really is” in your closing statement. However, you also state earlier and unequivocally “All we can say for sure is, they won’t be fun.”

    Are you really sure about this? Is this the truth or is it just your opinion? Perhaps living things in the rapidly-changing environment will adapt as fast as the environment and in the long run we’ll all be better off for it. Perhaps new species will arise as quickly as other species disappear. Perhaps the loss of permafrost will lead to millions of acres of soils more fertile than anything we’ve seen in a millennium. Perhaps we’ll have more fun in a hundred years than we can ever have today.

    While I agree that climate change is occurring and that human activity is most likely causing it to occur at a pace different than what might occur naturally, I can’t imagine why you would make such a “sure” claim as you do, other than to drive fear into the minds of your readers. I see no reason to include inflammatory or fear-mongering remarks into this discussion – all you do is lower yourself to the level of the deniers and in essence, harm your own credibility.

    Next time, stick to the facts, okay?

  13. @John #5: Ahh, if only deadpan humor translated better into writing.

  14. TheBlackCat

    @ Paul Buckley: We have examples of rapid climate change in the past. The climate change was slower than what we are experiencing now, but the effects back then were far worse than “not fun”. The fact of the matter is most species don’t live in rapidly-changing environment, at least not this rapidly. Most humans don’t live in a rapidly-chaning environment, either.

    @ Charlie Prima: Yeah, right on! Darn those pesky scientists trying to take aware our aresenic, acid rain, PCBs, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead paint. How dare they!

  15. DennyMo

    I suspect (hope?) that John@5 was being facetious…

  16. 1) “Denier” is mass in grams per 9000 meters of fiber. You might try “denialist” or push for SI “tex” in North America. Good luck.

    2) Uncle Al has 31 messages in bottles going into the northern Chukchi Sea this autumn, near minimum ice cover. Absence of sea ice has its value, including a patent northern passage obviating the Panama canal.

  17. Sue

    For those who can’t be bothered to read the whole paper, here are the other findings, quoted verbatim. For explanation and discussion, see the paper:

    2. There is evidence that two components of the Arctic cryosphere – snow and sea ice – are interacting with the climate system to accelerate warming.

    4. The largest and most permanent bodies of ice in the Arctic – multiyear sea ice, mountain glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet – have all been declining faster since 2000 than they did in the previous decade.

    5. Model projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 underestimated the rates of change now observed in sea ice.

    6. Maximum snow depth is expected to increase over many areas by 2050, with greatest increases over Siberia. Despite this, average snow cover duration is projected to decline by up to 20% by 2050.

    8. Changes in the cryosphere cause fundamental changes to the characteristics of Arctic ecosystems and in some cases loss of entire habitats. This has consequences for people who receive benefits from Arctic ecosystems.

    9. The observed and expected future changes to the Arctic cryosphere impact Arctic society on many levels. There are challenges,
    particularly for local communities and traditional ways of life. There are also new opportunities.

    10. Transport options and access to resources are radically changed by differences in the distribution and seasonal occurrence of snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic. This affects both daily living and commercial activities.

    11. Arctic infrastructure faces increased risks of damage due to changes in the cryosphere, particularly the loss of permafrost and land-fast sea ice.

    13. Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet contributed over 40% of the global sea level rise of around 3 mm per year observed between 2003 and 2008. In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9–1.6 m by 2100 and Arctic ice loss will make a substantial contribution to this.

    14. Everyone who lives, works or does business in the Arctic will need to adapt to changes in the cryosphere. Adaptation also requires leadership from governments and international bodies, and increased investment in infrastructure.

    15. There remains a great deal of uncertainty about how fast the Arctic cryosphere will change in the future and what the ultimate impacts of the changes will be. Interactions (‘feedbacks’) between elements of the cryosphere and climate system are particularly uncertain. Concerted monitoring and research is needed to reduce this uncertainty.

  18. Oli

    What exactly is wrong with the fact that the sea ice is melting? That would make the sea levels go down… Ice has a much greater volume than water after all, even considering the quite substantial amount of it above sea level.
    Sure, if the ice caps on Greenland or Antarctica melt, the sea levels will rise, and when the water already in the oceans warms up, they will rise again, but I am sick of people claiming that the sea level will rise just because of the sea ice melting.

    If you compare the pros and cons, in my opinion the pros win. Trade will be much easier, which is good for the economy. We will be able to research the bottom of the Arctic ocean much better. It might even aid in research about the poles themselves.
    Sure, there are cons, but they are overexaggerated. It will render polar bears extinct – so what? All species have died out in the past, so they would become extinct eventually anyway. And think of the new species that might evolve in such a unique environment, or the huge new ocean for species that are currently endangered to live in. Is it not selfish of us to choose for polar bears instead of those other species?

    Now this would all be different for the ice caps. If they melted, the sea levels would rise tremendously. I’m just trying to say that we won’t all die painful deaths just because the sea ice around the north pole is disappearing, and it actually has some nice pros.

  19. TheBlackCat

    What exactly is wrong with the fact that the sea ice is melting? That would make the sea levels go down… Ice has a much greater volume than water after all, even considering the quite substantial amount of it above sea level.

    Actually, it would have no direct effect. Something that floats displaces its own mass of water. Considering the ice is water, the mass it displaces must be exactly equal to its own mass. Therefore when it melts it will exactly fill the hole it created, so the ocean levels will remain the same.

    but I am sick of people claiming that the sea level will rise just because of the sea ice melting.

    Where has anyone here claimed that?

    If you compare the pros and cons, in my opinion the pros win. Trade will be much easier, which is good for the economy. We will be able to research the bottom of the Arctic ocean much better. It might even aid in research about the poles themselves.

    Sure, there are cons, but they are overexaggerated. It will render polar bears extinct – so what?…

    I take it you didn’t actually bother to read Phil’s post, not to mention the original article. If you had, you would have seen two major negative effects (albeda changes and increased CO2 and methan release).

  20. Sue

    @#18 Oli: If ice that is floating in water melts the water level does not change. (Very basic physics here). You are correct in that melting land ice will raise sea levels, and that melting sea ice will not.

    One problem is that the influx of fresh water in the Arctic (from the melting sea ice) has the potential to disrupt ocean currents if/when it escapes to the other oceans; these currents have a huge impact on the climate in densely populated areas such as North America and Europe. And polar bears are not the only species affected by climate change in the Arctic.

    Read the paper. There is a lot of good information in it.

  21. Oli, while you are correct that ice has a greater volume than water, this effect is smaller than the projected thermal expansion of water due to increasing ocean temperatures so the net effect is still a rising sea level. This is in addition to rising sea levels from land based (Greenland, Antarctica) glaciers that melt.

  22. Becca Stareyes

    @#18

    You also alter the ocean pH if there’s more CO2 free, which can be unpleasant for marine food chains as a lot of critters are sensitive to pH — which can parade up to the species humans like to eat. Coral reefs are noted as having a problem if the pH drops, and those are pretty darn important ecosystems down towards the equator.

    It’s not directly related to AGW (in that it’s not a temperature effect, and if some other process conveniently balances out the increased greenhouse effect, the acidification of the oceans still happens), but is caused by pumping CO2 in the atmosphere.

  23. Oli I’m assuming you’re trolling…

    But if not, you have to realize that the Ice isn’t all in the water. There’s a lot of ice above the water and over land. There are plenty of diagrams demonstrating where current sea levels would be if all of the ice in the polar caps melted. It’s certainly not Waterworld-like, but considering the majority of the human population lives near the coast, it would be significant… especially for people on smaller island countries. Contiuing on this path would lead to refugees with no country. Trade is irrelevant when you consider the massive shift in weather patterns. Research in the arctic would be the least of our worries. Species would become extinct (more than just polar bears), people places with warm climates may become cold… cold-warm, places with lots of rain will receive little, places with little will flood.

    Will we survive and adapt? Yes, of course we always do. Will it make life far more difficult for millions of people? Again, yes. Will people keep ignoring the obvious until it’s too late? I hope not.

  24. Chris

    And methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. Just think how much methane people are emitting annually.

  25. Red

    First, even if volcanoes did spew out more CO2 than humans, we’re still adding even more on top of that. We can’t do much about the volcanoes (damn volcanoes!) but we can do something about the CO2 we produce. If you want to argue that CO2 isn’t a big deal, make that argument; don’t try to weasel around it by pointing the tu quoque fallacy at mother nature.

    Second, any change to our climate is going to be bad for life as we know it. Our societies are structured around the production of things and that production is structured around the way the Earth allows for it to be produced. A changed climate means a changed capability to produce things. While it may not mean a decrease, it will mean that hundreds of millions of people will have to move to maintain that production. Millions of acres of farmland, if it’s not simply destroyed, will have to move and that brings a whole slew of economic and political headaches. All of that is going to cost money, and lots of it.

    And it’s not as if the wheat and corn fields in Iowa and Nebraska will be completely unchanged when the Yukon is warm enough to grow rice.

    In other words, what Endyo said.

  26. Ron1

    @18 Oli said, “If you compare the pros and cons, in my opinion the pros win.”

    Personally, I’m not so sure — there are an awful lot of destabilizing geopolitical issues at play.

    Regardless, the train left the station a while ago and we’re all along for the ride.

    Cheers

    ps. Anchor, if you need the last sentence interpreted, please let me know.

  27. Paul from VA

    @24 Chris

    Methane emissions matter less because methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere. If I recall correctly, methane lasts for about 5 years due to photodissociation. Even though methane warms more it doesn’t commit us to warming over the long term. CO2 on the other hand persists for 10,000 years (I think this is the right figure), thus whatever CO2 we emit, we are committed to dealing with the effects for many generations…

  28. Beau

    @ #8 Chris:

    You can get all your facts from Rush Limbaugh. Simply take the opposite of what he says as fact, and you’ll be right all the time.

  29. Of course you’re right, Paul (though for some reason I had the methane residence time at 10-15 years), but remember that methane dissociates to: carbon dioxide and water!

  30. TheBlackCat

    @ Paul: You are correct that methane breaks down in the atmosphere. The problem is that one of the things it breaks down into is CO2 (one molecule CO2 per molecule methane). So you get methane contributing to global warming initially, then over time it turns into CO2, which then persists in contributing to warming. So methane is worse than CO2, since it essentially is CO2 with an additional effect added on top of that.

  31. One of my favorite quotes from Richard Alley concerning volcanoes and CO2 was (paraphrasing) — “if volcanoes ever got organized they could control the world! But of course they are not…”

  32. You know there’s something about this I really don’t understand. All of the initiatives that limit and prevent global warming are the same ones that allow us to have cleaner air and water and not fill our landfills. There the same things that have been pushed for decades plus or minus a few details. It seems like the only thing that pushes people to counter them are following their same rich politicians and their cohorts in the media that are all swayed by money and lobbyists funded by the insanely rich organizations that cause the issue in the first place. Massive dirty energy, inefficient car manufacturing, and poor industry practices in general have made this issue what it is today, but they’re the ones with the money and the media access to spread misinformation and convince people with “facts” and “data” that global climate change is a big hoax.

    My question to the world is… why fall for it? Why fight what’s good for ourselves, our future, and the future of the only planet we can live on just to run our four 50 inch TVs all day, giant SUV, and keep our house at a cool 62 degrees? Why are people so compelled to believe they have the right to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences? Our modern luxeries have made it too easy to live like an ecological parasite rather than use a little elbow grease and some technology to do what we need to do and still have a world tomorrow.

  33. Georg

    In context of melting arctic ice please do not speak about rice of sea level!
    Some da the deniers will realize that this is nonsense.

  34. erik

    so can someone explain to me why the picture on google earth (dated 1 jan 1999) is to the same extent as the second picture and what does that mean in this debate?

    appears to me that unless google earth date is wrong, is that this maybe a seasonal change. but i’m no scientist, just skeptical.

  35. Paul Buckley

    @BlackCat: I need to argue the claim about climate change being far worse than not fun. Yes, its potential rapid change may have significant impact on all species. Then again, there is some evidence that a rapid climate change about 65 million years ago put into motion events that led to the dominance of mammals over reptiles and the demonstrable dominance of one species of mammal over pretty much all others.

    In this sense, climate change was good, very good: It drove the evolutionary process to a new level. The next climate change may do the very same [and then again, it may not. We really don’t have the predictive capability nor the data points to make an objective claim].

    Phil’s statement is one based on the psychology of fear of change; it is purely subjective (and IMHO intentionally biased to sway an audience through fear alone) and therefore cannot be treated as fact; there is nothing “sure” about it.

    I replied to this post because to me, Phil’s statement stood out so starkly from the rest of his research-based post. The bias implied by that single sentence sensationalizes and cheapens the rest of the article. He doesn’t need to do this, and as a scientist, he shouldn’t do it.

  36. jfb

    Ron1 @ 26

    there are an awful lot of destabilizing geopolitical issues at play.

    That’s an understatement. The geopolitical pecking order is going to change radically as existing breadbaskets turn into dust bowls (or swamps) and deep freezes turn into new breadbaskets. The people currently on top are no longer going to be by the time this is all over.

  37. Steve Metzler

    @Paul Buckley #32:

    Shorter Paul Buckley: “Massive extinctions are good, as long as you’re not the species going extinct!”

    Have you any idea what even a 3 deg C rise in average temps would do to weather patterns and therefore our food production system? Maybe you should crack open a book or two. Sheesh.

  38. Thank goodness for that study; that Volcanoes claim was beginning to hack me off royally, because I couldn’t find proper sources.

    Steve, let’s just say that I’d rather not find out.

  39. TheBlackCat

    @ Paul Buckley: Yes, mammals took over after the dinosaurs went extinct. But that was after a massive amount of environmental devestation lasting a long time. We are talking about issues on human time scales here, not tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

    Yes, life we re-stabalize after a long enough period of time. No one doubts that. The question is how it will affect us and other existing animal and plant populations in the short term.

  40. aleksandar

    I doesn’t really matter. People should stop wasting their time trying to convince deniers. It is likely that every year more money is invested in anti AGW propaganda then is spent on all climate and geosciences research globally.

    Trying to convince the public and politicians that global warming is real is a completely lost cause.

  41. rob

    global warming and extinctions aren’t so bad.

    i predict cockroaches will take over the earth, then evolve into sentient species. eventually a talented cockroach, Steven Spielroachberg, will direct a movie where and intrepid cockroach will extract ancient human dna from dead mosquitoes and create an amusement park with actual *live* humans running amok stomping on all the poor cockroaches caught on the island. the movie will be called Holocene Park.

  42. Pete Jackson

    If a volcano ejects a cubic kilometer of ash, that’s about 1 billion tons. Pinatubo ejected about 5 cubic kilometers of ash in 1991, but probably less than that amount of carbon dioxide (CO2).

    So Phil is absolutely right in that human activity emits far more CO2 than volcanos.

    Another way of eliminating volcanos as a major source of CO2 is that CO2 in the atmosphere has been going up at a almost constant 2 ppm per year, whereas volcanos vary greatly from year to year in total eruption products.

    In 1815, Tambora volcano in Indonesia belched over 100 cubic km of ash, so maybe in that year, and that year alone, that volcano may have dominated planetary CO2 emission.

  43. Terry Emberson

    @ aleksandar:

    Interesting theory. Do you have evidence it is a lost cause? 1/3 of Republican voters believe that climate change is real. 60% of those, or 1/5 of Republican voters believe that it is human caused and a severe threat. I would disagree with the last point – we don’t know it will be a severe threat – but I disagree that advocating scientific discoveries to the public would ever be a lost cause.

  44. kid cool

    Would the warming impact of volcano CO2 be offset by the cooling caused by the ash clouds?

    Also, I live in MIami (3 ft about sea level so the thought of sea levels rising 1 -2 metters is disconcerting…

  45. TC

    Ugh. So what am I supposed to do? I only drive 4 cylinder cars. My next car will be electric. I own a house about 3 times smaller then I could easily afford despite having two kids and a wife. I have solar panels on my house. I have a vegetable garden. I recycle. I donate to environmental groups. I vote for the most environmentally responsible politicians that actually have a chance of winning. I write my politician on environmental issues.

    Yet despite all this everything seems to be getting worse. So whats the point? Can’t I just enjoy the ride if we are all going to burn anyway? HOW do we fix this?? Come on guys! I’m a software engineer I have built and will keep building all this great software in the world. Can’t you other scientists and professionals figure out a way for to fix this??

    -At a loss

  46. fred

    The poles have melted before in the past. Also in the past the Earth was nothing but a big ball of ice.

    I am not deigning the earth is warming. I just wish that they would release ALL of the data how they collected ALL of the data and everything they went thru inturrpting the data to everyone not to just a few that is on their side of the issue.

    Back in the early 60’s everyone was saying we were heading for another ice age because global temps where below normal.

    If that were to be the case today you all would be saying we should be pumping more co2 in the air.

  47. Regner Trampedach

    Paul Buckley @ 12:
    I enjoy your telling us to tell others “what the truth really is” in your closing statement. However, you also state earlier and unequivocally “All we can say for sure is, they won’t be fun.”
    Your reading comprehension needs a little help I believe. Why is it so hard to understand that there are some things we know with great accuracy and other things we are less certain about. And that was not Phil’s closing sentence anyway.
    You could try reading the whole thing.
    Methane is primarily released from (the no longer so) perma frost – and it is a sizeable reservoir. This is one of the positive feed-back mechanisms that makes it harder to predict exactly what will happen – except accelerated warming.
    Vinyards in Alaska – how wonderful. Those who think so do not consider the different mobilities of different parts of the worlds eco-systems – or they don’t know what eco-systems are and what they are good for. It is all to easy to live in an anthropocentric world with the belief that we are better than nature and can live perfectly well without, thank-you-very-much. But in a world were eco-systems are completely out of whack, they too will have to learn how much we depend on beetles and worms and microbes to make soil so we can actually grow things to eat – and insects to pollinate our crops and plankton in the oceans to make us oxygen. Oh, – and there are some other nice microbes, of course, that will get a much larger area for their playground: Malaria, Yellow fever, dengue, just to name a few.
    Terry Emberson @ 43: Thanks for the pep-talk :-)
    Have a nice winter vacation under the Alaskan palms, Regner

  48. VinceRN

    /rant

    First let me say that climate change is absolutely real, that’s not what I’m ranting about.

    i get a little annoyed at the so called skepticism of organized skeptics. Most of the people that post here are skeptical only about religion, an area that is easy to be skeptical about and that really doesn’t matter much. It is pretty much immune to the skepticism of others, as are most of it’s adherents. As for all the attacks on the anti-vax clowns, that’s not skepticism, that’s just common sense attacking idiots for fun. Ranting about that here does nothing as none of them are reading this, or really any other intelligent blog.

    Let’s apply skepticism where it belongs. Science. Science is skepticism, or at least it’s supposed to be. In the case of this report, like everything in science, it should be looked at skeptically. Certainly the global climate is changing, and certainly it is in some large part driven by human activity. there’s really no doubt about that. However, there is still a lot of room for skepticism.

    For instance, much of what’s out there assumes that the global environment should be static, and that’s just plain silly. The global environment is always changing and will always be changing. I’m sure most here would understand that, but most people out there in the world don’t and aren’t being told that by the authorities they respect.

    What are the limits within which that change happens? How far from those limits are we? Anyone who’s read even a little on the subject knows that those limits are quite wide, and that we are no where near the edges of those limits. Without this information it’s impossible to properly evaluate the situation.

    What about the time frame? The changes we see look very different depending on how long a time you look at. I think that when looking for human caused effects we should be looking the time since the industrial revolution started, but we just don’t have that much data.

    And what about our data? How is it collected, where is it collected? how accurate is the instrumentation, how has that accuracy evolved over the few decades we’ve been collecting data? How is it filtered, selected and presented? What does that 30 billion tones mean in relation to to the 2.9 trillion tones currently in the atmosphere? Most people think that that 30 billion is a significant percentage of the total, and clearly it isn’t. But what effect to small changes in the total CO2 have? Also, there is a carbon cycle, the data isn’t complete unless we also talk about the CO2 coming out of the atmosphere.

    What about the political aspect of this? It’s absolutely certain that much of this is politically driven, very often the decisions about how research money is allocated is made not by scientists but by politicians with agendas. Almost everyone that publicly talks about global warming attaches a political agenda to it. The solution always seems to be implementing their particular political beliefs. To what extent does this affect the science? Is contrary data being ignored? Are there relevant research avenues that have been cut off?

    Look at the way the conclusions in that report are presented. They mix hard facts like the thickness of the ice sheet with speculative stuff like “this could happen”, and it becomes “this will happen” by the time CNN gets hold of it.

    In the end we know very little about how the global environment works, and we don’t have a control to compare to. Scientifically we are really kind of out on a limb here, we have a few facts, and a lot of speculation.

    Certainly we should view what facts we have conservatively. We know, for instance, that we hairless apes put out an awful lot of CO2, and that that is different than things were before the industrial revolution. We should do what we can to minimize that output on the assumption that it could be causing change, because it is something that, at least in the developed world, we have a great deal of control over.

    In conclusion, if we’re going to be skeptics, let’s be skeptics, not just a bunch of people who sit around and attack religion. That’s not really skepticism.

    /rant off

  49. Johnny Nielsen

    In case anyone is wondering…
    Any water-solluble gas becomes more solluble as the the temperature decreases. This has to do with the entropy delta between the gaseous and the liquid state, and CO2’s reaction with water actually makes it even more solluble in low temperatures than most other gases.
    What this means is, that if the average temperature of the oceans rises by, say a couple of degrees C.,from about 4 degrees C. to maybe 6 degrees C., then the ability of our oceans to contain dissolved CO2 would drop by about 15%
    I seem to recall that the oceans contain about 18000 ppm CO2 today, 50 times more than the atmosphere at about 370 ppm. Try calculating the new equilibrium between those two numbers if the oceans’ capacity to dissolve CO2 diminishes by 15%!

  50. Sorry, Fred, I have to call myth on the predictions of another ice age. The September 2008 Bulletin of the American Meteorlogical Society did a literature review of papers from that era and found that 44 predicted global warming and 7 cooling (with other papers in the neutral category). That is pretty strong on the side of warming back then, a far cry from “…everyone was saying we were heading for another ice age…”

    Now there were several prominent articles in the popular media at the time that greatly distorted what the majority of climate scientists were saying. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  51. QuietDesperation

    get a little annoyed at the so called skepticism of organized skeptics. Most of the people that post here are skeptical only about religion, an area that is easy to be skeptical about and that really doesn’t matter much.

    I’ve been beating that drum for years WRT ideology, Vince. You won’t get far. I’m one of the few people I know who also applies skepticism to politics. It’s why I don’t hang with many other skeptics. Too many of them have gobbled up one ideology or another to the point of nearly cultist-like responses if you dare question them. Can never decide if the libertarians or the progressives are the worst.

  52. F16 guy

    Time Magazine, June 1974 (not that long ago by earth standards):

    However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

    Ice age, global warming, ice age, global warming. Hmmm………..

    FLASH NEWS UPDATE: NOTHING we humans can do will prevent the earth from taking its natural course. Yea, we may have some minor affect on it, but those that drive electric cars to “save the planet” are only fooling themselves. Fact is, human contributions to climate change (cold or hot- take your pick) are insignificant.

    I’ll keep my Dodge Viper and Chevy Tahoe, thank you.

  53. Anchor

    Hey, Ron1? Now THAT’s what I call “projection”. Keep it up buddy.

  54. Monkey

    @ Richard – I think it was written in jest. Poe.

    @ At a loss – first, dont let it get you down. Do what you are doing, but share. Talk to people, explain WHY you are doing what you are doing. Get involved with schools….donate to science classrooms (donate STUFF…as a teacher I would love a parent to toss me a few videos or volunteer to chat to a few classes about something they are knowledgeable about rather than donate $20 that has to go through red tape office staff – and “this is how I changed my life to be more green” is a totally viable expertise that I would ever so openly welcome) and organize public lectures…donate time too….I am not saying that you have to do this all yourself, but these are the ways to reach others. But dont get down, dont be at a loss. An effective cog needs many teeth. Lets all try to make more teeth, get more on board and freaking take this monsterous problem ahead of us and kick it in the arse as best we can through what we do and how we do it. Write people in power, papers (Sam – being 17, passionate and well spoken will TOTALLY get you more attention. Dont wait, do it now!!!).

    This post from Phil is spewing out some dreary news, but let the news fuel your actions.

  55. Messier Tidy Upper

    There is a real nasty atmosphere brewing on this issue incl. scientist’s lives being threatened & really awful comparisons being made. :-(

    From last night’s ‘Lateline’ program here in Australia :

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3251010.htm

    Monckton* hits a new low.

    &

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3251029.htm

    Interview with Australia’s new Australia’s chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, who warns that the public debate on climate change ‘borders on appalling’.

    * If folks have been living on Pluto the last few years and missed it this link :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0ijKkgOdZ8

    gives y’all the info on who Monckton is and what he’s been claiming.

  56. Messier Tidy Upper

    Then there’s this clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1liqk9UQNAQ

    of melting permafrost releasing methane – a possibly very devastating escalating (positive) feedback.

    More on melting Arctic ice here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqjO8rwB-GI&feature=related

    noting it’s happening much faster in reality than predictions had suggested, it’s half gone now and predictions it will all vanish in summer by 2020.

    Plus we have as this short clip shows :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf2iGpeeg88&feature=related

    the melting of the Greenland ice sheet which is proceeding at a worrying rate. Those Copenhagen summit negotations mentioned at theend , of course, did NOT end up happening. :-(

  57. T-storm

    #8, cHRIS,
    I had that fact too. When you are 16 it’s hard to not believe what adults said.

    Did anyone see the Big Picture the other day?
    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/06/is_weather_becoming_more_extre.html

    I think they make it plenty clear that while we don’t know exactly what is happening we do know that something is happening.

  58. @F16 guy, other people in this discussion have already debunked the whole “the scientists said we were going to enter an ice age in the 70’s” myth. Perhaps you should bother to read the replies in a thread (or, you know, verify your claim) before posting? ;)

  59. Jack

    Good links Messier!
    Here is another Aussie one for @46 Fred who said:

    “I just wish that they would release ALL of the data how they collected ALL of the data and everything they went thru inturrpting the data to everyone not to just a few that is on their side of the issue.’
    For that very reason the CSIRO has set up a website as described here:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/20/3248793.htm

    Let’s see some climate “skeptics” prove themselves to be real Skeptics by debating the actual data rather than quoting second hand propaganda from right wing think tanks.

  60. Bill

    Show me one peer-reviewed paper that has ruled out natural, internal climate cycles as the cause of most of the recent warming in the thermometer record.

    The fact is that the ‘null hypothesis’ of global warming has never been rejected: That natural climate variability can explain everything we see in the climate system.

    – Roy Spencer

    Stick to Astronomy Phil

  61. Trevor Wood

    These numbers are approximate only… open to correction. We’re told that 12000 years ago, Toronto was under 3-5 km of ice, apparently gone in about 6000 years, so it disappeared at approx. a metre per year, this would indicate a significant increase in heat input to melt this ice as well as overcome the albedo effect of said ice. Whatever the cause, could this be why glaciers and ice are in retreat today?

  62. ophu

    @5. John: If the climate wasn’t changing, there wouldn’t BE a 1, 3, 7, and 12.

  63. JB of Brisbane

    If I may be allowed to quote from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (English Translation):
    “On the morning of his departure he set his planet in good order. He carefully swept out his active volcanoes. He had two active volcanoes – which were very useful for heating up breakfast in the mornings. He also had an extinct volcano. But, as he used to say, ‘One never knows!’ So he swept out the extinct volcano too. If they are well swept, volcanoes burn slowly and steadily, without erupting. Volcanic eruptions are like chimney fires. Here on Earth we are, of course, far too small to sweep out our volcanoes. Which is why they cause us endless troubles.”

  64. Stargazer

    Climate change is real no matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a Christian or an atheist. The problem is that people think they can decide what is true or not, based on something else than data and evidence. I think that trying to convince the deniers will not really work. What we can do is to try to reduce the change as much as possible, and prepare for the changes as much as we can. Meanwhile, improve science education so that at least the future generations will have some sort of grasp of science.

  65. SLC

    Re Bill @ #60

    You mean Roy Spencer, the young earth creationist?

  66. Adrock

    I’m sure the people of Doggerland will be concerned to hear about the change in sea level…

  67. Nigel Depledge

    DennyMo (2) said:

    Regarding #12, how does decreasing the ice coverage increase emissions of CO2 and Methane? Does exposed seawater emit these two substances into the atmosphere?

    The answer is the scariest thing of all : methane clathrates on the sea floor. In essence, these are ice-methane crystals kept solid by the combination of cold and high pressure. If the conditions change just a little bit, then a whole slew of methane can be released in a short time. And – IIUC – there is believed to be a significant amount of this stuff on the ocean floor, but I don’t think anyone has surveyed the extent of it.

    BTW, this is a frontrunner explanation for the Bermuda triangle, because the froth of methane that clathrates can release suddenly makes the water a great deal less dense and thus unable to support the weight of a ship.

  68. Nigel Depledge

    Oli (18) said:

    What exactly is wrong with the fact that the sea ice is melting? That would make the sea levels go down… Ice has a much greater volume than water after all, even considering the quite substantial amount of it above sea level.
    Sure, if the ice caps on Greenland or Antarctica melt, the sea levels will rise, and when the water already in the oceans warms up, they will rise again, but I am sick of people claiming that the sea level will rise just because of the sea ice melting.

    Because sea ice is supported bouyantly on the ocean, the sea level will be unchanged by the melting of sea ice alone.

    However, sea ice serves to slow the flow rate of galciers that feed into the sea-ice sheet. The loss of sea ice allows glaciers to accelerate the transfer of ice from land to sea, which will cause rises in sea level.

  69. Nigel Depledge

    Paul from VA (27) said:

    Methane emissions matter less because methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere. If I recall correctly, methane lasts for about 5 years due to photodissociation. Even though methane warms more it doesn’t commit us to warming over the long term. CO2 on the other hand persists for 10,000 years (I think this is the right figure), thus whatever CO2 we emit, we are committed to dealing with the effects for many generations…

    If I recall correctly, the figure of methane being about 23 – 25 times as potent a greenhouse gas does account for the different half-lives in the atmosphere. And CO2 is reckoned to persist for about 100 years, not 10,000.

    Also, have you considered what photodissociated methane might do? Could it not react in such a way that it eventually becomes CO2 (CO2 being the thermodynamically most stable for of carbon)?

  70. D Hunt

    Does anyone know if there’s a similar report about forest fires? I have several friends who deny ACC on the basis that forest fires put out more CO2 than humanity does. I’m pretty sure they no longer deny global warming in general, or that it’s based on CO2, just that humanity has any ability to do anything about it.

  71. Bob_In_Wales

    Re the “There is going to be an ice age” “prediction” of the 70s. This is an interesting one. I was a teenager growing up in the 70s in an area where local shops didn’t stock science mags of any sort. I got my science through documentaries on the TV and school. Also of course there was no interent and the local library was miles away (my folks were farmers i.e. lived in the middle of the country). I distinctly recall learning during this time that ice ages (i) existed, (ii) were cyclical and (iii) we were overdue for the next one, so expect it soon.

    This impression did not reflect the scientific consensus. Fine. I know that NOW. Then I knew we were headed for another glaciation.

    The point? The chances are that it is true to say that everybody in the 70s knew we were headed for another ice age. This fact needs to be kept separate from what the climatological community was thinking where the consesus was that we were not it seems. For the purposes of this blog I think people need to keep clear that consesnsus climatology and public perception consensus are not the same thing. Indeed both then and now they seem to be opposite.

  72. Nigel Depledge

    Fred (46) said:

    The poles have melted before in the past. Also in the past the Earth was nothing but a big ball of ice.

    So what?

    Neither scenario is good for the civilisation we humans have built for ourselves. Ultimately, we should be concerned about climate change because it poses a threat to human civilisation.

    I am not deigning the earth is warming. I just wish that they would release ALL of the data how they collected ALL of the data and everything they went thru inturrpting the data to everyone not to just a few that is on their side of the issue.

    This is what they used to do. Then they found out what the deniers do with it, so now they only release raw data to serious researchers. And all serious climate researchers agree that global worming is occurring, and that it is likely to be bad for human civilisation.

    Back in the early 60′s everyone was saying we were heading for another ice age because global temps where below normal.

    Yes, this was a rather simplistic interpretation, and it was wrong. It wasn’t that long before climatologists pointed out that the prediction was wrong.

    If that were to be the case today you all would be saying we should be pumping more co2 in the air.

    If the Earth were still cooling (let’s say we didn’t ban those spray cans that fill the atmosphere with sulphate aerosols and decided to tolerate the acid rain) we might indeed consider CO2 to be a tool to combat global cooling. Alternatively, we could deal with the cause of that cooling rather than treating the symptom.

  73. Slim

    True, floating ice melting won’t raise sea levels, but when the temperature of the ocean itself rises, the water will expand and the sea level will rise that way.

    But yeah. Good to know about the Volcano thing. In fact, as I understand it, Volcanoes are much better at contributing to global cooling. Now I just need the facts on other large natural sources of CO2.

  74. Messier Tidy Upper

    @55. Messier Tidy Upper : There is a real nasty atmosphere ..

    Er .. Pun totally unintentional – but apt. ;-)

    @59. Jack : Cheers! Glad you liked them. :-)

    BTW. The ‘Lateline’ program has had an update on the linked story on tonight’s show too but their website hasn’t yet got a transcript posted so I can’t link it for y’all right now. Planning on doing so later, tomorrow morn my time, late arvo-early eve BA blog timezone.

  75. Messier Tidy Upper

    Or sooner than that if I click ‘refresh’ and the transcript appears! ;-)

    As has just happened! ;-) :-)
    See :

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3252161.htm

    An arctic update via Greenman 3610 :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGVgrRAyQmw&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33

    whilst this Youtube clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krBeW5LWs3M&feature=related

    is another good first hand look one looking at methane release from melting permafrost this time in Siberia.

  76. JMW

    Just finished reading Peter D. Ward’s “Under a Green Sky.” I highly recommend it, for it shows not only the science of paleontology and how it is relevant to today’s world, but it shows the process of science in action. Egos get in the way; entrenched views resist innovation; but ultimately truth – data – prevails and science adjusts.

    To summarize the book, I would say that its message boils down to:
    – In the 70s, mass extinctions were known and were thought to be the result of gradual processes taking place over hundreds of thousands or millions of years – gradual changes that resulted in gradual losses of biodiversity until the global ecosystems collapsed, retrenched and recovered.
    – The Alvarez team exploded this in the 80s, with their discovery of shocked quartz, iridium, etc at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary (K-T boundary). After an initial period of resistance, the weight of evidence won over everyone…and everyone thought that all mass exintctions were caused by impact
    – Many geologists and paleontologists continued to work to identify the causes of mass extinctions, mostly by looking for the tell-tale layer of iridium, shocked quartz, spherules, etc., at the boundaries that mark other mass extinctions…and didn’t find any. However, neither did their findings confirm the gradual mass extinction hypothesis that had existed before the impact theory
    – Instead, a gradual picture built up over time where a mechanism of sudden mass extinction, acting over a few thousand years, gradually reduced biodiversity.
    – This mechanism primarily consisted of acidification of the oceans, which appears to have triggered a change in ocean currents. This in turn triggered a loss of oxygen at the ocean bottom, killing off the oxygen-dependent life there.
    – In the place of the dead oxygen-dependent life, purple and green bacteria flourished. These bacteria had as a by-product of their life cycle the prodution of hydrogen sulfide gas.
    – Massive volcanic eruptions (in the case of the Permian mass extinction, this was the Siberian Traps, much larger than the more famous Deccan Traps in India) drastically increased atmospheric CO2. This suddenly increased global temperatures.
    – Warming global temperatures drew the boundary between the bottom oxygen-less water and the surface oxygen-rich water, until this boundary actually reached the layer where surface light reached the oxygen-less layer. The purple and green bacteria exploded in population, producing huge bubbles of hydrogen sulfide gas, which spread over the adjacent land and poisoned plant life. Animal life soon followed. In the case of the Permian extinction, it is estimated up to 90% of species died out. Because of all the hydrogen sulfide gas and lack of oxygen in the atmospher, the sky was actually green, not blue.

    I may be getting details wrong – I only finished reading the book for the first time a few days ago. I’m also not sure of how much this hypothesis represents a supported scientific theory or is more of a “what if” scenario.

    However, we’re already seeing the start of similar circumstances – the acidification of the oceans is proceeding; global temperatures are rising due to CO2 concentration, etc. Dead zones in the oceans – areas of low oxygen, are being found and are spreading.

    Are we willing to take the 1 in 10 chance that we’ll be one of the survivors if we trigger another extinction like the Permian? Add to that, even if humans survive such a mass extinction, there’s no guarantee that all of us will. Human population would probably be cut back significantly.

  77. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (48) said:

    Let’s apply skepticism where it belongs. Science.

    And buying used cars.

    And, come to think of it, buying anything off eBay, too.

    Or life insurance.

    Actually, we could all do better in general if we applied a bit of scepticism to most areas of our lives.

    Science is skepticism, or at least it’s supposed to be.

    No. Science requires scepticism, but it also requires diligence and imagination. Science is a lot more than just scepticism.

    In the case of this report, like everything in science, it should be looked at skeptically. Certainly the global climate is changing, and certainly it is in some large part driven by human activity. there’s really no doubt about that. However, there is still a lot of room for skepticism.

    I mostly agree with this. We don’t know exactly how much impact GW is going to have. However, whjat has been firmly established is that it will have an impact. 20 years ago, it was rational to be sceptical about whether or not it would affect us. Now, not so much, due to the acquisition of a whole lot more data, and the analysis of a whole lot more models.

    For instance, much of what’s out there assumes that the global environment should be static, and that’s just plain silly.

    No it doesn’t. Human civilisation requires the global climate to be – on average – static. In fact, there are some fairly strong arguments that can be made to suggest that human civilisation arose because the global climate was unusually stable for several thousand years.

    The global environment is always changing and will always be changing. I’m sure most here would understand that, but most people out there in the world don’t and aren’t being told that by the authorities they respect.

    While this may be true, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that, when Bangladesh is under water, India will be flooded with refugees. What matters is that, when Manhatten, London, New Orleans and many other coastal or estuarine cities are under water, people, businesses and infrastructure will need to be relocated, but there will be no new land to move to.

    What are the limits within which that change happens? How far from those limits are we? Anyone who’s read even a little on the subject knows that those limits are quite wide, and that we are no where near the edges of those limits. Without this information it’s impossible to properly evaluate the situation.

    Again, it doesn’t really matter what the Earth’s limits are. During previous glacial or hothouse epochs, there was no widespread and advanced civilisation. Sure, climate change causes mass extinctions, but we humans have already started one anyway, irrespective of GW. GW will make it a bigger mass extinction than it might otherwise have been, but what most people will be concerned about is the impact that GW will have on people.

    What about the time frame? The changes we see look very different depending on how long a time you look at. I think that when looking for human caused effects we should be looking the time since the industrial revolution started, but we just don’t have that much data.

    Er … yes, we do. Even so, it is clear that warming has accelerated since the 1970s. The time frame we should be most concenred about is the 50 – 100 years time frame. Beyond that, it gets ever harder to make useful projections, and by then we will either have hit upon a set of solutions or will be so busy fighting over arable land and water resources that the solution will no longer matter.

    And what about our data? How is it collected, where is it collected? how accurate is the instrumentation, how has that accuracy evolved over the few decades we’ve been collecting data? How is it filtered, selected and presented? What does that 30 billion tones mean in relation to to the 2.9 trillion tones currently in the atmosphere?

    And what relevance do these questions have here?

    Do you think that the climatologists have not considered these questions? If so, why? What is the basis for your accusation of incompetence? Have you sought answers to these questions yourself, or do you expect to have them handed to you on a platter? Have you, in fact, read any of the relevant literature?

    Most people think that that 30 billion is a significant percentage of the total, and clearly it isn’t. But what effect to small changes in the total CO2 have?

    Well, human activity has probably caused the global temp to increase by perhaps 0.2% in absolute terms, but that is (give or take a bit) 0.5 °C. And this has caused some rise in sea level due purely to the thermal expansion of the water. But the water expansion lags behind the atmospheric temps, and we can certainly expect more warming to occur before it levels off.

    So, yes, a small increase in CO2 does have a measureable impact.

    IIUC, without CO2 in our atmosphere at all, the Earth would be about 40 °C colder on average than it is now.

    Also, there is a carbon cycle, the data isn’t complete unless we also talk about the CO2 coming out of the atmosphere.

    Yes, climatologists are aware of the carbon cycle. Why on Earth would you think they were not?

    What about the political aspect of this? It’s absolutely certain that much of this is politically driven, very often the decisions about how research money is allocated is made not by scientists but by politicians with agendas.

    Oh, for goodness’ sake, not this old chestnut again.

    Yes, decisions are made by politicians with agendas. Those agendas are often dictated by which organisations contribute most to the campaign funds, and many politicians are in the pocket of Big Oil companies. This is an industry that could (figuratively) lose $1 billion down the back of the sofa and not notice until the end of the year! Pitted against that, you have the environmental lobby, which has about $2.50 to its name. Oh, and all the facts.

    Almost everyone that publicly talks about global warming attaches a political agenda to it. The solution always seems to be implementing their particular political beliefs.

    What’s political about trying to save human civilisation from the biggest threat it has ever faced? Surely doing something is better than doing nothing? What proposed solutions do you consider to be politically motivated? And why?

    To what extent does this affect the science? Is contrary data being ignored? Are there relevant research avenues that have been cut off?

    30 years ago, these may have been relevant questions. Now, they are not. The data are clear, and they all point to the same conclusions. Human activity is causing global warming. This is a Bad Thing. Exactly how bad is where scientists differ. Some models indicate that we might be able to halt the warming at 2 °C and thus sea-level rises to less than 1 metre. Other models suggest we cannot prevent less than 5 °C of warming and thus will have at least 1.5 – 2 metres of sea level rise. Other models are in between.

    Believe it or not, the IPCC reports are mostly cautious and conservative. The IPCC has been criticised by some climatologists for being too optimistic in its reports.

    Look at the way the conclusions in that report are presented. They mix hard facts like the thickness of the ice sheet with speculative stuff like “this could happen”, and it becomes “this will happen” by the time CNN gets hold of it.

    That is the fault of CNN, not of the authors of this paper. Why do you not complain to CNN for not maintaining a higher standard of factual integrity?

    In the end we know very little about how the global environment works, and we don’t have a control to compare to. Scientifically we are really kind of out on a limb here, we have a few facts, and a lot of speculation.

    This is an oversimplification. We have many facts, some very strong overall conclusions and a range of projections that are suggestive of the details. But it is these details that are so important and at the moment we do not have a firm set of numbers for them.

    Certainly we should view what facts we have conservatively. We know, for instance, that we hairless apes put out an awful lot of CO2, and that that is different than things were before the industrial revolution. We should do what we can to minimize that output on the assumption that it could be causing change, because it is something that, at least in the developed world, we have a great deal of control over.

    Really, we should be looking at developing technologies that add no CO2 to the atmosphere. It is the only way to ensure long-term stability for our civilisation.

    In conclusion, if we’re going to be skeptics, let’s be skeptics, not just a bunch of people who sit around and attack religion. That’s not really skepticism.

    Your scepticism about GW is verhing on denialism. You ask questions that have already been resolved. You question the integrity of research but have no basis for doing so. You clearly have not bothered to get to a library and learn something for yourself about how these measurements are made and how the data are interpreted. Apparently, you are not even a regular reader of the popular-science press (if you were, you would know the answers to some of the questions you raise).

  78. Ron1

    @55, Anchor. It wasn’t a case of projection. It was a simple case of my being mean spirited and carrying on our disagreement from the previous post.

    My ps. to @26 was inappropriate and I apologize to both you and Phil.

    @77 Nigel.

    As always, nicely done. I’m humbled by the patience you (almost) endlessly demonstrate.

    Cheers

  79. Jules

    @DennyMo

    A warming ocean releases both CO2 and methane. Water’s ability to contain diffused gases decreases as the temperature of the water increases. Which means that much CO2 that was previously dissolved in the water can come out of solution.

    In the case of the Methane, the bottom of the sea is covered in a hydrated methane ice called clathrates. When the temperature of the sea rises, more and more of those hydrates release the methane in gas form which bubbles to the surface and into the atmosphere.

    The scary part is that the release of methane from the ocean stored hydrates is believed to be the cause of the greatest extinction event the world has ever known. According to the best current understanding of the event, massive volcanic activity (the Siberian Traps) released enough CO2 to increase global temperatures by a few degrees. This triggered the emission of an increasing amount of methane as temperatures rose. While the CO2 was probably not enough to cause the temperature increase that led to the massive extinction event, it triggered methane emissions which closed the deal.

  80. DennyMo

    @77 Nigel:
    “What matters is that, when Manhatten, London, New Orleans and many other coastal or estuarine cities are under water, people, businesses and infrastructure will need to be relocated, but there will be no new land to move to.”

    Au contraire. Huge swaths of Greenland, Siberia, the Yukon, and (presumably) Antarctica would be available. (Though who knows how long it would take them to become truly habitable….)

    And thanks to everybody who addressed my question in post #2.

  81. Tom Huffman

    Phil, thanks for this post. It comes while I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Science in the Capitol’ trilogy. I’m just starting the third book: “Sixty Days and Counting.” The first two are: “Forty Signs of Rain” and “Fifty Degrees Below.” All three books, and another- “Antarctica” – are based on global warming and the scientific, political and social issues involved.

    Science fiction is supposed to be a genre of ‘ideas not people;’ but, Robinson does an incredible job of character plot creation. The characters are scientists working for the National Science Foundation as well as the usual suspects for a Washington D.C. drama: politicians, lobbyists, and a detestable asshole from the Heritage Foundation, most trying to deny global warming or just prevent anything being done about it.

    The major theme underlying all of this is ‘scientists as citizens,’ a favorite with Robinson. He’s saying that scientists should have more of a role in formulating public and international policy.

    Sorry to turn this thread into a book review; but, I can’t recommend the Science in the Capitol trilogy too highly for anyone interested in science, politics and global warming. Order from Amazon, or better yet, ask your locally owned bookstore to order them for you.

    Ron1 @ 26 said: ” there are an awful lot of destabilizing geopolitical issues at play.” Yeah, that’s why the Pentagon has done its own study of how global warming will impact national security. Check out these videos from Greenman3610’s YouTube channel:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3dcc0mV-n4 — and —
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBBEyJVj5MY&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    Lastly, thanks to Messier Tidy Upper, Nigel Depledge and others who contributed insightful comments to this thread. To the trolls and denialists: “Get a life, you guys!”

  82. Chris Winter

    Fred wrote (#46): “Back in the early 60’s everyone was saying we were heading for another ice age because global temps were below normal.”

    No. No. A thousand times, no.

    There was no consensus among scientists either way, in the 1960s and 1970s, though more scientists expected a warming trend. Even the media did not all warn of a coming ice age.

    Here’s a link to the 2008 PDF from the American Meteorological Society that researched the question of climate-science papers during that time. Seven papers concerned cooling, versus 44 on warming.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1

  83. MartinM

    Most people think that that 30 billion is a significant percentage of the total, and clearly it isn’t. But what effect to small changes in the total CO2 have?

    What do you mean, small changes? We’ve increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by about 40%.

  84. Chris Winter

    Bob_in_Wales wrote (#71): “This impression did not reflect the scientific consensus. Fine. I know that NOW. Then I knew we were headed for another glaciation.”

    It’s understandable (very much so in your case) that most any lay person back then might have believed an ice age was on the way, since some media stories (e.g. Time in June 1974) said so.

    “The point? The chances are that it is true to say that everybody in the 70s knew we were headed for another ice age.”

    No, that would have been wrong even back then, even if understandable. To say it now, when the truth is widely available, betrays at the very least a laziness about looking stuff up on-line. (I compare it to a physical situation I meet almost every day, where I arrive at a working set of double doors to see a young, able-bodied man on the other side who waits for me to open my door and then slides through there.)

    “This fact needs to be kept separate from what the climatological community was thinking where the consensus was that we were not it seems. For the purposes of this blog I think people need to keep clear that consensus climatology and public perception consensus are not the same thing. Indeed both then and now they seem to be opposite.”

    I think everyone here knows that. I think they also feel that if a large percentage of the public disbelieves something science has long accepted, there is a problem. That does not necessarily mean the public is at fault. But to say it’s a normal situation, as you seem to be doing, discloses another problem.

  85. QuietDesperation

    Nigel Depledge: Actually, we could all do better in general if we applied a bit of scepticism to most areas of our lives.

    Amen to that, brother.

  86. Just a request for those of us with slower internet (or with a smartphone and traffic limits…): You might want to add a size after the link to the paper. 27.99 Megs are -still- a lot. ;-)

  87. VinceRN

    @ #83 Chris –

    Over the last ten thousand years the CO2 content of the atmosphere has been about 260-280 ppm with some variation. If you go back father than that on larger time scales there is a much wider variation, on long enough scales the variation is orders of magnitude higher.

    Right now it’s about 390 ppm. That is about a 40% increase over the average for the last 10k years. I say that that is a small increase because as a portion of the atmosphere it is incredibly small. The CO2 content of the atmosphere is now about 120 ppm higher than it has average over that time period. That’s an increase of 0.012% of the atmosphere.

    On longer time scales CO2 levels have been much, much higher than they are today. We do not know what effects this, or even higher, levels of CO2 will have. We do not KNOW, nor should we act like we do. Also, we should not try to find the scariest way to present the data, like shouting “CO2 has gone up by 40%!”. It is just as accurate to say that the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by a vanishingly small amount.

    What we should do it acknowledge that CO2 levels are rising, and that human activity is a large part of it. Humans can, and should, reduce CO2 output. In fact we are reducing it, at least here in the developed world. It will never be zero, even if we enact whatever political changes it is that you would claim will solve all our problems.

    What we should, what I think we must, do is look at this, and at everything skeptically.

    My thesis here is this: Almost everyone that comments here calls themselves a skeptic, based solely on their hatred of religion. There are few here (though there are some) that are actually skeptics. I try to look at everything skeptically. Certainly religion, but that hardly even counts. I look at science skeptically, i look at history skeptically, I look at things my kids try to tell me skeptically, when I go to a restaurant I look at the menu skeptically.

    If you are not willing to look at this, at Climate change, skeptically, then you are not a skeptic.

    I do not deny global climate change at all, but I do look at it skeptically. I do want a separation between hard facts and speculation, even informed speculation, and especially the politically driven speculation that the climate change community is steeped in.

    The report referenced in this blog post does not give us that separation, and so calls for a great deal of skepticism in reading.

    /re-rant off

  88. Grand Lunar

    Thanks for this, Phil.

    I have heard that claim about volcanic output exceeding human output of CO2.
    Now I know how to refute that claim.

    Even the partial list you provide is disturbing on it’s own.

    But what may be more disturbing is how many politicians will deny these facts.

  89. Messier Tidy Upper

    @82. Tom Huffman :

    Phil, thanks for this post. It comes while I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Science in the Capitol’ trilogy. I’m just starting the third book: “Sixty Days and Counting.” The first two are: “Forty Signs of Rain” and “Fifty Degrees Below.” All three books, and another- “Antarctica” – are based on global warming and the scientific, political and social issues involved.

    Global warming (& the resultant collapse of the West Antartican ice sheet esp.) gets a mention or two in K.S. Robinson’s classic Mars trilogy too! ;-)

    Ironically, humanity ends up terraforming Earth as well as Mars in those – and this may end up being the reality as well as fiction perhaps too.

    If we’re recommending books I’d have to say the Mars trilogy – Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars – are my faves by that author and very high on my Best Ever novels list. :-)

    Lastly, thanks to Messier Tidy Upper, Nigel Depledge and others who contributed insightful comments to this thread.

    My pleasure. Thanks. I’ve learnt a lot from commnters here myself over the years. :-)

  90. Messier Tidy Upper

    @10. Charlie Prima :

    All these Deniers need to be put in jail for endangering the rest of us.

    What good would that do and what would that teach them?

    I was a climate contrarian myself once, just like some others here I suspect and I recall commenters here noting that participating in the discussion of a whole range of things from AGW to the Moon hoax to creationism has altered their views. Had I been jailed for taking one, admittedly very wrong side of a public controversy I would be here now arguing against that side, would NOt have shifted my views.

    That sort of a statement is actually fuel to the Climate Contrarians fire because it seems to be calling for persecution of people who don’t agree, a sort of environmentalist totalitarianism. It’s exactly the sort of thing they’ll jump on and say, hey its NOT really about science but imposing an agenda and controlling everyone else.

    If scientific experts employed by the government tell us we need a carbon tax to direct more funding to their endeavors, it should be a crime to attempt to subvert them.

    Well, if by subvert you mean death threats & harrassment I agree -and will note that issuing death threats is already, I think, illegal. As is stealing private emails.

    But if by subvert you just mean talk and argue however absurdly and however silly the cliams made then, NO. I don’t believe in “thought-crimeds” or restricting free speech and I’m a great believer in the idea of “I may disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it!” (A quote often misattributed to Voltaire.)

    Most Climate Contrarians have their own reasons for thinking as they do – many are good people who are just misled or misinformed (in my case by listening to Ian Plimer who I met personally & was very convinced by for awhile) and this won’t be fixed by jailing them. Or even by jailing the likes of Plimer, Limbaugh, Monckton, etc. That’s tehway to create “martyrs” and persecution complexes not win arguments. In My Humble Opinion Naturally.

    Rational argument preferably polite and evidence based is the best way of countering these people.

    Thank goodness we have a group of intellectual elites including people like Phil with some power to control the ignorant mass of livestock called “the public” and tell them when to go to war against terrorism, what clothing to wear for minimum ecological impact, what jobs they are genetically suited for, which serotonin modifying pharmaceuticals to take for maximum happiness, and the correct number of offspring to produce. You don’t let cattle wander around outside their fences because they are too stupid.

    Yeah, that’s not too helpful either. Calling everyone in the general public “stupid cattle” is NOT going to get them on side and is most likely tobe very counter-productive and get them rejecting youand what you say.

    Moreover, I think and certainly HOPE it is mostly just not true. Most individuals are individually pretty intelligent. The problem often comes when they get together and start following tribal ideologies where mob thinking kicks in. Yes, it gets frustrating, yes some peopel are very stupid, stubborn or malicious and yeah, its easy to get angry and want tonbvang heads on the wall – theirs or yours! But really, where does doing that get you?

    Thank you Phil! Keep up the good work!

    On that point I completely agree 100% ! :-)

    @82. Tom Huffman : To the trolls and denialists: “Get a life, you guys!”

    I hope the Contrarians stick around and put up their best arguments (such as they are) and learn. If they’re coming here they’re being exposed to good science and helping us learn how to debate. The trolls get teduious and aren’t anybodies favourite people but I guess the same applies to them – although I may wish they didn’t do it. Still who hasn’t said anything stupid on the net sometime? ;-)

  91. Joseph G

    @41 Rob: global warming and extinctions aren’t so bad.

    i predict cockroaches will take over the earth, then evolve into sentient species. eventually a talented cockroach, Steven Spielroachberg, will direct a movie where and intrepid cockroach will extract ancient human dna from dead mosquitoes and create an amusement park with actual *live* humans running amok stomping on all the poor cockroaches caught on the island. the movie will be called Holocene Park.

    *Snerk!*
    You,sir, win one free internets.

  92. Bob_In_Wales

    Chris Winter wrote (#85):

    “The point? The chances are that it is true to say that everybody in the 70s
    knew we were headed for another ice age.”

    No, that would have been wrong even back then, even if understandable. To say it
    now, when the truth is widely available, betrays at the very least a laziness about
    looking stuff up on-line.

    Sorry Chris, I’m not sure precisely what you are saying here. Is it that it is wrong to say that we are heading for an ice age, or is it that it is wrong to say that a majority of the general public thought in the 70s that the scientists thought that we were heading for an ice age?

    I’ve done some quick web searches to try and determine what the general public thought in the early 70s but just keep running up against statements like the following in the Wikipedia article on Global Cooling:

    … in the popular press the possibility of cooling was reported generally without the caveats present in the scientific reports, and “unusually severe winters in Asia and parts of North America in 1972 and 1973…pushed the issue into the public consciousness”.

    and

    This hypothesis [Global Cooling] had mixed support in the scientific community, but gained temporary popular attention due to a combination of a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s and press reports that did not accurately reflect the scientific understanding of ice age cycles.

    Which leave me none the wiser as to how widespread, amongst the general public in the 70s, the idea was that an ice age was coming.

    Anybody have any idea?

  93. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (88) said:

    Right now it’s about 390 ppm. That is about a 40% increase over the average for the last 10k years. I say that that is a small increase because as a portion of the atmosphere it is incredibly small. The CO2 content of the atmosphere is now about 120 ppm higher than it has average over that time period. That’s an increase of 0.012% of the atmosphere.

    While your figures are correct, they are not all relevant. The oxygen and nitrogen that comprise the bulk of our atmosphere do not behave as greenhouse gasses. It is mainly CO2 and water vapour that do this. The water vapour content does not change much on a global scale, so its contribution to the greenhouse warming effect is pretty much constant. That leaves the CO2. As its concentration varies, so the amount of greenhouse warming varies.

    At the end of the day, it is not the absolute amount of CO2 that matters, but what impact that hasd on the climate. And all the available information suggests that human output of CO2 does indeed have a significant impact.

    On longer time scales CO2 levels have been much, much higher than they are today. We do not know what effects this, or even higher, levels of CO2 will have.

    Yes, we do. Venus.

    We do not KNOW, nor should we act like we do. Also, we should not try to find the scariest way to present the data, like shouting “CO2 has gone up by 40%!”. It is just as accurate to say that the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by a vanishingly small amount.

    Not really. What is significant is the greenhouse effect. Since the bulk of the atmosphere does not contribute to this effect, it is more relevant to refer to the proportionate change of CO2 than it is to describe what percentage of the atmosphere CO2 represents, and that this has gone up by a tiny amount. Or would you also consider a global average temperature increase of 1 °C to be “vanishingly small”? (Because, on the Kelvin scale, this is less than one-third of 1%)

    What we should do it acknowledge that CO2 levels are rising, and that human activity is a large part of it.

    Old news.

    Humans can, and should, reduce CO2 output. In fact we are reducing it, at least here in the developed world.

    Are we? Since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in the late ’90s, only a very few nations have succeeded in reducing their output of CO2 (never mind actually meeting their Kyoto targets). Some nations have succeeded in reducing the rate of increase of their CO2 outputs, but that is not the same thing.

    It will never be zero, even if we enact whatever political changes it is that you would claim will solve all our problems.

    This is both defeatist and disingenuous.

    First, even in the last 10 years, new technologies have been dreamt up, and older technologies have been refined, to supply carbon-neutral electricity. The carbon-neutral technologies that exist now might suffice to supply 20 – 30% of our present power demands (in Europe and the USA). Who knows what further technological developments might do to improve these figures?

    Second, without at least aspiring to 100% carbon-neutral power generation, we are condemning future generations to a legacy of unchecked greenhouse warming.

    Very few “political changes” need to be made. Simply switch governmental support from oil and coal to renewable power sources. Support energy efficiency (e.g. grants for installing insulation in homes; building regulations that require new build to have better insulation etc.) and gradually increase taxes on carbon-emitting technologies. Or whatever. The details can be worked out once the political will exists to make some form of change.

    And no-one is claiming that this will solve all our problems. First, because we have many problems that do not derive from environmental issues. And second, because we have already committed ourselves to a certain amount of warming. If we were to cease burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we would still see something of the order of 2 °C warming over the next 50 – 100 years.

    What we should, what I think we must, do is look at this, and at everything skeptically.

    This has been done. The conclusions are clear. The best time for action was 10 years ago. Failing that, anything we do now to reduce global CO2 emissions is better than nothing.

    My thesis here is this: Almost everyone that comments here calls themselves a skeptic, based solely on their hatred of religion.

    Utter rubbish.

    I can explode your thesis now. I am a sceptic and I don’t hate religion. I am as sceptical of new-age crystal healing as I am of religion.

    There are few here (though there are some) that are actually skeptics. I try to look at everything skeptically.

    There is a difference between scepticism and the refusal to accept any conclusion. Doubt over AGW may have been reasonable 20 or 30 years ago. It is no longer. As I pointed out earlier, you are verging on denialism.

    Certainly religion, but that hardly even counts. I look at science skeptically, i look at history skeptically, I look at things my kids try to tell me skeptically, when I go to a restaurant I look at the menu skeptically.

    And at what point do you cease being sceptical about something?

    Do you view the likelihood of tomorrow coming sceptically? If so, why? If not, why not?

    If you are not willing to look at this, at Climate change, skeptically, then you are not a skeptic.

    It has been looked at sceptically. This was happening throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Guess what? There is more data now, better data. And better models. That GW is happening is beyond reasonable doubt. That human activity is responsible for the current unprecedentedly-rapid temperature increase is almost beyond reasonable doubt. That human civilisation will suffer to a substantial extent is beyond reasonable doubt. The difficult questions are “how much exactly” and “when exactly”.

    I do not deny global climate change at all, but I do look at it skeptically. I do want a separation between hard facts and speculation, even informed speculation, and especially the politically driven speculation that the climate change community is steeped in.

    You are speculating that “the climate change community” (whoever that might actually be!) is politically driven. You have failed to support this speculation. I am sceptical (hah!) of your claim that climatologists are politically driven.

    What I am no longer sceptical of is that we collectively need to do something to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. I personally happen to believe that governments should lead this change, but that is just my opinion. I’d be quite happy to listen to other options on that topic.

    The report referenced in this blog post does not give us that separation, and so calls for a great deal of skepticism in reading.

    What aspects of the paper – exactly – lead you to believe that it is politically driven? Why and how do they do this? Or is it simply that you are making this unsupported accusation because it challenges what you personally believe?

  94. Nigel Depledge

    @ DennyMo (81) –
    Well, yes, technically, those icy wastes will become something else. As I understand it, a great deal of tundra will become swamp if the permafrost melts, which is perhaps not so useful (although I guess it won’t make all that much difference to Londoners).

    Also, I was under the impression that the area of land that may become available in high latitudes is smaller than the areas of land that are likely to be inundated with seawater.

  95. AndyG

    I would like to point out that the paper on volcanic CO2 emmision deals in ‘relative’ statistics – the paper is simply a comparison based on “Marty and Tolstikhin’s [1998] 0.26-gigaton-per-year preferred global volcanic CO2 emission rate estimate” and the ‘projected 2010 human emmisions’. From that I, nor the author can deduce anything – just the figure from one study is smaller than that from another. Anyone who pulls other conclusions is not a statistician and talking out of their backside. On the other hand the paper can be used to put a nail in the coffin of one quote, which it does quite well.
    What I don’t see in some of the fatuous opinions (not arguments) above is what the current CO2 output of life is … I can roughly calculate that the human population generates 1billion tons (that billion with a b) of CO2 per year just by breathing – that’s a figure which if taken in exactly the same disjointed context as the above would mean we have to kill ourselves or the planet … yet, we only produce a fraction of the natural CO2 production of the planet so do we kill everything else as well?

  96. VinceRN

    @ Nigel #95

    I never said that Human produced CO2 wasn’t a problem, in fact I clearly stated several times that is is. What I said was we really don;t know what it will do, we have only speculation.

    As for your “Venus” comment, that’s just plain silly. There have been CO2 levels measurable in parts per thousand in the past and there has still been abundant life. That’s not to say that we could survive that, but even you must know that nothing we humans can do will get us anywhere near the environment of Venus.

    As for being skeptical about new age crustal healing just as much as religion, you are hardly shoving that my thesis is rubbish. new age crystal healing is region, just not Christianity. you say you are equally skeptical of various silly things, I say that isn’t skepticism at all. Be skeptical of serious, important things. That doesn’t mean automatically disbelieve them, it mean look at the skeptically.

    as for when you stop being skeptical about something? Never. Do you think our host stops being skeptical at some point? Is there a point where you just believe what you are told without thinking about it?

    will the sun come up tomorrow? Almost certainly, but there will come a time that it doesn’t, and one day that will be tomorrow. But more seriously, this is how my skepticism fits in with the sun rising. We know it does, we understand the orbits of the planets, we know the math that can predict exactly when it will at any time in the future, but we don;t really know how that all fits in the beg picture. That is gravity still doesn’t fit into a theory of everything, and the fact that the sun comes up every morning really underscores for me the fact that we still have a pretty poor understanding of how the universe works.

    the fact that something has been looked at skeptically by others doesn’t mean that you should cease to look at it skeptically. where would we be if Michelson and Morley had decided that others had looked at their problem skeptically and decided to go get a burger instead of proving the speed of light is constant?

    Finally, i did not say the paper is politically driven, and I think you know that. But for clarity, here’s what I said.

    First, much of the process of how science gets done and how money gets allocated in science is politically driven. Even more so in the field of climate change where there is a lot of money and power to be had. Consider this definition of Political: “Relating to, affecting, or acting according to the interests of status or authority within an organization rather than matters of principle.” rather than the more narrow which party runs the government definition I suspect you are using. We must at least consider that such political motivation would be involved in this paper, or any.

    Second, I said that the conclusions in this paper mix fact and speculation, and that I would prefer a separation between fact and speculation. I would prefer it say: “These are the hard facts we have observed” and “This is our speculation about what could happen.”

    At no point did I claim that any of the facts presented in this paper are wrong, nor did I claim that they should be ignored. I went to pains to say that it is a problem and we should act accordingly.

    The fact remains that we do not know all the information and we do not fully understand how the system being examined works. We have to do the best be can with what we have, but we also must acknowledge what we don’t know and understand.

    I’ll say it again, if you are only skeptical of silly things, and you take serious, important things without skepticism, then you absolutely are NOT a skeptic. I think that applies to most of the people here that call themselves skeptics just because they like to attack religion.

    Look at everything you see with doubt, question everything. Not just the easy stuff.

  97. Phyllis

    This new trend of disparaging scientists, of telling average people that their “common sense” carries as much weight as scientific findings is a very dangerous development. It seems awfully democratic to tell the public that they should evaluate the facts and decide for themselves, but those of us who are not educated in that field are not really able to analyze or, in many cases, even fully understand the facts, therefore, how could we possibly be expected to really decide for ourselves? That’s like giving a technical presentation on handguns to a 4 year old and then expecting them to make an educated decision on whether or not to play with one lying about the house. Much of the language of the presentation will be inaccessible to the child and nothing in the presentation would actually equip that child to make a rational choice. I am not qualified to proclaim that climate change is not happening, but there are many scientists who are and I trust their expertise. I am also sensible enough to realise that if we do not change our behavior, we will be doing a lot of harm to ourselves, to our children, to our chances of survival – the Earth doesn’t need saving, folks, we do.

  98. Regner Trampedach

    AndyG @ 97: This is a common misunderstanding, that ours and other animals CO2 and methane emissions (farts) also needs to be counted in the rising greenhouse gas levels. The biosphere (animals and plants) contain a short-term CO2 cycle, where herbivores eat the carbon in plants and turn it into CO2, methane and meat. Carnivores eat herbivores and turn that carbon into CO2 and methane. The plants inhale the CO2 and exhale O2, famously inhaled by animals. This is a cycle – a cycle that is fairly stable, although we like to “adjust” it by cutting down large tracts of forest. The anthropogenic climate change is primarily caused by us upsetting the geologic CO2 cycle which normally operates on the million year time-scale, by digging up large amounts of carbon from the Earth’s crust, in the form of coal, oil and gas. The release of geological reservoirs suddenly happens on a time-scale about 100 thousand times faster than the geological sequestration (by plate tectonics). That is the problem!
    Phyllis @ 99: the Earth doesn’t need saving, folks, we do.
    You nailed it. We are not tree-huggers by “believing” in AGW, we are survivalists.
    Cheers, Regner

  99. 100. Regner Trampedach Says:
    June 24th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    AndyG @ 97: This is a common misunderstanding, that ours and other animals CO2 and methane emissions (farts) also needs to be counted in the rising greenhouse gas levels.
    ——
    It’s also a common misunderstanding that animal methane emissions come from farts. Flatulence is actually pretty low in methane. The bulk of livestock-produced methane comes from burps, not farts.

    And when these are produced due to industrial agriculture, it certainly does need to be counted in rising greenhouse gas levels. The cows we have in factory farms today are not wild animals – they are living fermentation vats that have been bred and hybridized to produce milk and meat, and the very unnatural diet they’re fed causes them to produce far more methane than they would in the wild.

    It’s especially a problem when these factory farms are being built in places like Brazil on land that was formerly a rain forest.

  100. Chris Winter

    VinceRN wrote (#88): Right now it’s about 390 ppm. That is about a 40% increase over the average for the last 10k years. I say that that is a small increase because as a portion of the atmosphere it is incredibly small. The CO2 content of the atmosphere is now about 120 ppm higher than it has average over that time period. That’s an increase of 0.012% of the atmosphere.

    On longer time scales CO2 levels have been much, much higher than they are today. We do not know what effects this, or even higher, levels of CO2 will have. We do not KNOW, nor should we act like we do. Also, we should not try to find the scariest way to present the data, like shouting “CO2 has gone up by 40%!”. It is just as accurate to say that the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by a vanishingly small amount.”

    I’ll ask you to look at these two paragraphs you wrote again. Has CO2 ever been as much as 1 percent of the atmosphere? Unless it has, by the logic of your first paragraph, its effect has to have been negligible at all times. That contradicts the known fact that the CO2 in our atmosphere kept Earth about 30° warmer than it otherwise would have been.

    Moreover, your statement that CO2 has lately “increased by a vanishingly small amount” is wrong. That’s just mathematics. To illustrate, if you have $5 in your pocket, and you lose two as you leave the house in the morning, you’ve lost 40 percent of your available cash despite the fact that you have thousands in the bank. (And you may not be able to buy that Expresso Grande at JavaJoint.)

  101. Chris Winter

    Bob_in_Wales wrote: “Sorry Chris, I’m not sure precisely what you are saying here. Is it that it is wrong to say that we are heading for an ice age, or is it that it is wrong to say that a majority of the general public thought in the 70s that the scientists thought that we were heading for an ice age?”

    What I meant was that it’s wrong to say everybody believed we were heading for another ice age — since “everybody” includes the scientists working back then, and the majority of them anticipated global warming.

    And I’ve never seen the argument presented as being about what the general public believed. It’s always, “Scientists in the 1970s predicted an ice age.” It’s an attempt to paint the scientific community as untrustworthy because they’ll predict anything that will get them more grant money. It’s a tactic that’s doomed to fail.

  102. VinceRN

    @102 Chris – Yes, it’s just math, but it is just as accurate to say that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 0.012%, as it is to say that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40%. Both accurately convey the same data, and both also distort that data. You would choose the 40% figure because it sounds scarey, I gave the example of the the miniscule number to make it sound not scarey. Both are distortion, my distortion was selected just to make the point, not to minimize the importance of CO2.

    This is supposed to be science. Distortions should be avoided, and there should be no need to make it sound scarey or to make it sound innocuous. The facts should be presented coldly and without emotion.

    Once again, since no one seems to have read it when I’ve written it before: I’m not denying anything. Environmental change is a serious problem, the increase in CO2 should be looked at as a serious problem. We should be trying to minimize our CO2 output.

    My point is that we should look at this, and everything, skeptically. It saddens me that so many otherwise intelligent people here seem to be saying that there are some things that you shouldn’t look at skeptically. To see such a strongly anti-scientific viewpoint here is disappointing.

    Science is uncertainty and doubt. I think I got that from Feynman. As far as I can tell, if you don;t have uncertainty and doubt you aren’t doing science.

  103. Steve Metzler

    Regner #100 basically says it all there, folks. What you or I do as individuals is merely a drop in the bucket CO2-wise compared to what goes into the atmosphere from burning all that carbon we dig up out of the ground that took millions of years to lay down, and we are now on track to expend in just a *few hundred* years. Wouldn’t you agree that that’s not a ‘natural’ process? (that one’s for “The climate has always changed!” brigade)

    Not saying that we all shouldn’t try to conserve what we can. Every little bit helps (most importantly, making our buildings energy efficient). But what we really need to do as quickly as possible is *change the way we generate electricity* to use completely renewable resources, and then try to get our transportation (except planes, which are only 2 or 3% of the problem anyway) to run off that clean electricity. That would be a good start…

    ETA: oh, and VinceRN, please stop telling us how science is supposed to work. You obviously wouldn’t know what science (or indeed, skepticism) was if it snuck up on you and bit your posterior off. Obvious tone troll is obvious.

  104. VinceRN

    @105 – Love the ad hominem attack there. That is, of course, the strongest kind of argument. if you think there are things that should not be viewed skeptically, I guess that’s OK for you.

    My point again: Be skeptical. If your skepticism extends no farther than expressing scorn for religion you aren’t a skeptic.

    Once again, I’m as concerned about environmental change as much as the rest of you. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t look skeptically at everything i see. Not a troll, a rant. I want to see more skepticism, about things that matter.

    I don’t get why anyone would say there are things we shouldn’t look at skeptically. I haven’t disagreed with anything anyone’s said about environmental change, nor with any of the conclusions in this report, yet you all are acting as if I had.

  105. MartinM

    Yes, it’s just math, but it is just as accurate to say that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 0.012%, as it is to say that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40%

    Only if you don’t know how percentages work.

  106. Bill

    The only way is stop all commerce and abandon all technology. Then are lives are reduced to being solitary, nasty, brutish and short.

  107. noel

    @ VinceRN

    I disagree with you that skepticism needs to be everywhere. Math, for example, is kind of hard to be completely skeptical on. Imagine a child learning about addition. While the concept is taught and “proven” (with sets, usually) in how the material is taught, the properties (commutative and associative) are taught by example. If a child remains skeptical, would you give them the proof? Explain the proof to them? How long will that take?

    Being completely skeptical isn’t possible, or practical. At certain levels of complexity, the conclusions are better off left to people with the knowledge and training to do so.

  108. Steve Metzler

    @VinceRN #106:

    I haven’t disagreed with anything anyone’s said about environmental change, nor with any of the conclusions in this report, yet you all are acting as if I had.

    You came in here with a flock of standard AGW denialist canards which Nigel Depledge patiently debunked, one by one. You then proceeded to blow right by that, and continue to tell us how *we* should be *more skeptical* of the stuff you’re not *skeptical enough about*. Like the misconception that MartinM points out in #107. Yes, CO2 is ‘only’ a trace gas. But it is one with very important physical properties that help to keep Earth much warmer than it would be otherwise, and also plays a big part in bringing us out of glaciation periods. Trying to downplay the role of CO2 in climate is a standard denialist tactic.

    Looks to me as if you’ve come here straight from someplace like wattsupwiththat, without bothering to read up about what the climate scientists are saying about AGW. Why not pay a visit to Skeptical Science and book up on this stuff? All of the points that you brought up concerning “how we can’t be so certain” have been thoroughly discussed there.

  109. Steve Metzler

    @Bill #108:

    The only way is stop all commerce and abandon all technology. Then are lives are reduced to being solitary, nasty, brutish and short.

    That is what people with vested interests in keeping things the way they are would like you to believe, but it is not true at all. Please see my #105.

  110. Messier Tidy Upper

    See :

    http://www.grist.org/climate-change/2011-06-11-the-most-powerful-climate-video-youll-see-all-week

    I’m not sure clicking the ‘like’ button on that Youtube video is appropriate there. I don’t *like* this at all. Its worrying and sad and, I fear, it makes an all too valid point or five.

    We cannot tie any one event, any one disaster to Human Caused Global Overheating. Not any single one. But the overall pattern, the trend, the co-incidence that so many natural disasters on such large scales are happening so frequently now. That sends a chill down my spine,

  111. Messier Tidy Upper

    @99. Phyllis :

    This new trend of disparaging scientists, of telling average people that their “common sense” carries as much weight as scientific findings is a very dangerous development. It seems awfully democratic to tell the public that they should evaluate the facts and decide for themselves, but those of us who are not educated in that field are not really able to analyze or, in many cases, even fully understand the facts, therefore, how could we possibly be expected to really decide for ourselves? That’s like giving a technical presentation on handguns to a 4 year old and then expecting them to make an educated decision on whether or not to play with one lying about the house.

    Yup indeed. :-)

    Another analogy here that I like to use is medical doctors :

    If 98 out of 100 doctors told you you’d be getting very sick and perhaps even dying unless you changed certain habits then would you really ignore all those doctors from first opinion to ninety-eighth opinion and choose instead listen to those vanishingly rare 99th & 100th opinion doctors who told you : “Nah, you don’t need to do anything. You’re fine!” Really?

    Or there’s a third far grimmer analogy – would you play Russian Roulette with a weapon that has 100 chambers, 98 of which are loaded with rounds and only two whose chambers are empty?

    (Now okay such a gun would be awfully cumbersome to lift for that purpose and have a few technical issues but hypothetically speaking! ;-) )

    Because that’s effectively the situation on Human Caused Global Overheating – 98 out of 100 experts or so I gather, something about that mark in any case are saying the overwhelming evidence is we do have a problem and we do need to do something about it before it gets too much worse.

  112. Messier Tidy Upper

    Continued from the above comment.

    Sometimes “common sense” (which is, sadly, much rarer than the name suggests) lets us down. :-(

    One noteworthy example is Quantum Physics is where even physicists like Einstein have struggled and in some ways failed to fully grasp its weird, counter-intuitive, mind-warping notions – yet it works as the microwave oven (I think?) will demonstrate.

    I fear that Climatology and the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is another such area.

    “Just parts per million carbon, dioxide? Just a few degrees difference? That can’t really hurt!” That’s what our common sense might seem to say. But again, our common sense is wrong and the universe as revealed by the scientists who have carefully, meticuously and deeply studied it for years are right.

    Mind you, AGW makes more intuitive “common sense” than Quantum Physics – carbon dioxide is agas that traps heat. We know it does this and it explains a lot of things very well. (Eg. why Venus is hotter than Mercury.) We add more of it to our planet’s atmosphere -and we can and have calculated how much more and its going to have an effect. What effect on a planet might rising levels of a gas that traps heat have on that planet? What does your common sense suggest to you in that case?

    Of course, it *is* a lot more complex than that – but at a very basic level :

    more heat trapping gas in the air = hotter climate conditions

    is very much “common sense” and very far from the bafflingness that is Quantum Physics even though other aspects and parts of the whole AGW picture are not.

  113. Bill Perry

    The risks are too great; doing a risk analysis even without absolute proof would suggest that we should be working to prevent an increase in CO2. If we are wrong we have cleaner air, less reliance on fossil fuels, less asthma etc. etc. and still have a better quality of life. If we are right (see above column) then we mess up the planet for future generations–pretty easy calculation if you ask me.

  114. Steve Bloom

    Re the interchange between Bob and Chris on the ’70s “global cooling”:

    Most of the confusion over this results from a conflation of something that had been scientifically established by the early ’70s, the orbital cycle theory of the ice ages first proposed by Milankovitch, with the sort of slight short-term temperature fluctuation that’s par for the course climatologically. It was known by then that the previous interglacial, the Eemian (ending about 120 kya) had only lasted about 10,000 years, and so it seemed reasonable to speculate that the Holocene might be of similar length, i.e. on the verge of ending.

    Indeed, the orbital cycles were known to be in the process of delivering the planet to a cooler condition (the key being cooler NH summers) with the potential to trigger another glaciation, so that speculation had a solid grounding. This is what I learned in high school in the early ’70s. What I did *not* learn was that there was any basis for thinking that a slight temperature trend lasting just a few years would be evidence of the start of a glaciation (or even could be given the relatively long time-scales on which orbital cycles influence climate) , especially since we hadn’t yet reached the orbital “cold spot” (it being about a thousand years away IIRC). But it’s very easy to see from this how those media scare stories came about, and how people tend to confuse these things.

    I should mention that subsequent research has shown that under natural conditions the imminent trigger is likely insufficient to do the job, and that the Holocene would last for another 30 ky or so (not unprecedented, BTW; the Holsteinian of ~400 kya was about the same length). Our activities have now cancelled both possibilities, although since nothing we have done or are likely to do will affect the baseline climate state (determined on relevant time-scales by the CO2 level resulting from the balance of tectonic CO2 production with its removal into ocean sediments via rock weathering), if we were to stop interfering with the system the following glaciation trigger in ~100 ky would be able to operate.

    Also, it’s a bit ironic that the ’70s slight cooling was a consequence of our own aerosol-producing activities, which notwithstanding having been overwhelmed by warm forcings continue to make the climate considerably cooler than it would otherwise be. Excactly how much cooler is a key current question in climate science.

    Of interest, Jim Hansen points out that if we ever were worried about a glaciation setting in, a single CFC factory would be more than up to the job of stopping it. That assumes that we’ll have figured out how to deal with the long-term accumulation of waste heat, which is slight compared to GHG warming but is going to be something to worry about within a few hundred years.

  115. Steve Metzler

    @Steve Bloom #117:

    Also, it’s a bit ironic that the ’70s slight cooling was a consequence of our own aerosol-producing activities, which notwithstanding having been overwhelmed by warm forcings continue to make the climate considerably cooler than it would otherwise be. Excactly how much cooler is a key current question in climate science.

    Spot on, Steve. Hansen reckons there’s at least another 0.5 deg C warming in the pipeline waiting for us if we clean up the aerosol problem. Maybe we shouldn’t? *ducks for cover*

    In fact, that’s why the models are on the high side of predicting what the global average temps should be right now.

  116. Steve Bloom

    Summing up the worst-case climate scenario, and why Arctic warming is so worrisome:

    There are two huge GHG stores in the Arctic , one being the permafrost and the other being the shallow methane clathrate deposits concentrated on the East Siberian Shelf. Both of these have largely come into being during the unusually cold Plio-pleistocene deep glacial period of the last few million years. This being only the third such deep glacial period in the entire Phanerozoic (the last ~600 my), the previous ones having occurred hundreds of millions of years ago on what amount to different planets, our current large-scale climate is unprecedented.

    The recent glacial activity has resulted in a build-up, first of all, of vast stores of permafrost carbon, which accumulates over time time due to the annual freeze-thaw cycle. Fortunately, the periodic intrusion of glaciers into the mid-latitudes has reduced the permafrost store by scraping much of the permafrost zone down to bedrock, so the accumulation of permafrost in the zones subject to such glaciation is limited. Less fortunately, there’s a huge area of Siberia that due to the peculiarities of geography doesn’t glaciate; this has led to the accumulation of a vast amount of thick permafrost carbon (known locally as “yedoma”). There’s enough permafrost carbon in the yedoma and elsewhere to result in a considerable warming pulse if it were to melt, and even less fortunately it appears that we’ve already crossed the tipping point to a self-sustaining melt. See Schaefer et al. (2011) (press release).

    This paper has been misinterpreted in much of the media coverage, in particular confusing the ~2025 tipping point in the emissions trend with the commitment to the change in the trend. We’re already committed. The full impact of this melt will not be clear until we can see the results of a full modeling study currently under way, but that the permafrost carbon will largely move into the atmosphere in the next century+ is unmitigated bad news. (Note that while the paper discusses a slower rate of loss for permafrost overall, most permafrost carbon is bound up in the shallow layers that will be lost most quickly.) The most recent IPCC report assumed that no such thing would happen, BTW.

    But what of the methane clathrates, which are a much larger pool of carbon? To start with, it should be pointed out that most clathrates are located too deep in the oceans to be prone to release until the deep oceans warm, which will take millenia, and even then the methane will tend to dissolve in the water column and not reach the atmosphere (good in terms of global warming, although not so good for the oceans). But there are huge deposits of clathrates at very shallow depths on the aforementioned East Siberian Shelf. These deposits have accumulated in part because the shelf is periodically exposed during mid-latitude glaciations and so can grow as permafrost carbon does, but also because the yedoma region is drained by two of the world’s biggest rivers (which are seldom heard about because they’re so remote) that over time have deposited a vast amount of carbon-rich sediment onto the shelf.

    The amount of shallow carbon present is such that if it were to all be released quickly we would need to resort to phrases like “fry the planet” (not literally, but hot enough that it would be questionable whether much life would survive). There are reasons why it might not release so quickly, but everyone should understand that this is the live hand grenade with which we so casually play.

    From our point of view, even a relatively small release would be a horrible disaster. The PETM of ~50 mya is a sort-of precedent, but far more benign in terms of impact since it took place on an already ice-free world. A repeat involving the ESS would probably push global average temps up by at least 10C, melt all the ice so as to raise sea levels ~70 meters, among many other climate effects render the tropics uninhabitable by humans and effectively destroy much of our current food production, etc. etc., and do all of that inconveniently quickly. (But hey, think of the possible boom in beach-front property in the Greenland and Antarctic archipelagos!)

    Returning for a moment to the permafrost, it’s all too possible that its loss is an unstoppable trigger for a catastrophic loss of the ESS clathrates.

    So the big question is how much of the ESS clathrates are mobilizable how soon? Short answer: We have no idea, yet. As was pointed out above, significant bubbling breaking the surface has already been observed, in response to which the National Science Foundation recruited the two top methane-in-water scientists (Samantha Joye and Ira Leifer, whose names will be familar to anyone who has followed the Gulf spill science closely) to lead major observation campaigns (background article) to try to establish what the current loss trend actually is and what we might expect in the future. Based on this recent slide presentation (see #34 in particular) from Igor Semilitov and Natalia Shakhova, the scientists who first spotted the problem, I’m not too sanguine. From the presentation abstract:

    Recent data collected from the ESAS illustrates substantial and widespread failures in the carbon
    trapping efficiency of sub-sea permafrost, leading to large-scale CH4 release. (…) Recently obtained observational data, confirmed by modeling results, gives evidence that incorporation of only one component (non-gradual releases from hot spot areas) could increase reported numbers orders of magnitude.

    Slide 34 notes that this would be sufficient to trigger abrupt climate change, i.e. a PETM-like event.

    But wait, there’s even more: As also mentioned in the comments above, while the global warming potential of methane is much greater than that of CO2, it’s constrained by the relatively quick degradation of methane into CO2 and water. This process occurs due to the presence of atmospheric OH. However, a new study finds that a large methane pulse would essentially overwhelm the supply of OH, greatly increasing the atmospheric lifetime and thus the warming potential of the methane.

    I should add that a significant increase in methane emissions from the ESS has yet to be detected (bearing in mind that observing system for methane in the Arctic isn’t very good), although I think it’s fair to say that once it is it will be entirely too late to do anything about it since any reduction in our emissions would be a blade of grass in a hurricane. I suspect that even a massive injection of SO2 into the atmosphere, horrible though that would be for e.g. the biosphere (a reduction in surface insolation and an increase in acid rain), wouldn’t be able to slow things down much.

  117. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Steve Metzler : I understand too that the observational evidence (arctic melting etc ..) indicates GW is happening faster than predicted – that the IPCC models are (almost all?) under-estimating the speed (and scale?) of the problem. That’s concerning too.

  118. Steve Metzler

    Messier, hi,

    It’s good to see you’ve come around to the rational side. IIRC, it was not too long ago that you were sitting on that proverbial “AGW, is the A for real?” fence :-D

  119. Messier Tidy Upper

    @^ Steve Metzler : G’day Steve! ;-)

    Did you miss my (re!)post here dealing with my personal history AGW issue~wise :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/06/17/are-we-headed-for-a-new-ice-age/#comment-389985

    then, eh? ;-)

    I was an outright climate contrarian for a while. :-(

    I’m not any more and haven’t been for quite a while now.

    the observational evidence (arctic melting etc ..) indicates GW is happening faster than predicted – that the IPCC models are (almost all?) under-estimating the speed (and scale?) of the problem. [myself @#120.]

    Linkable sources for this include :

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/global-warming-is-three-times-faster-than-worst-predictions-451529.html

    Which observes :

    Global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than feared, a series of startling, authoritative studies has revealed. They have found that emissions of carbon dioxide have been rising at thrice the rate in the 1990s. The Arctic ice cap is melting three times as fast – and the seas are rising twice as rapidly – as had been predicted.

    Albeit from 2007 and this :

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/14/AR2009021401757.html?hpid=topnews

    From 2009. Excerpt :

    We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we’ve considered seriously in climate model simulations,” Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Field, a member of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said emissions from burning fossil fuels since 2000 have largely outpaced the estimates used in the U.N. panel’s 2007 reports.

    Apparently, many of the IPCC models I gather assumed we’d be acting strongly now to slow emissions – but we’re pretty much just not. :-(

  120. Gunnar

    It is depressing to me how poorly the USA rates nowadays in average scientific literacy and mathematical proficiency compared to most other industrialized countries, and even some third world countries. This very obviously (to me anyway) is a major reason for the widespread AGW denialism in my country. It is alarming to me how many celebrities I see on TV (including some of the most prominent and popular politicians) cheerfully (and sometimes almost boastfully) admit that math and science were their worst subjects in school. I honestly think sometimes that politicians who are known to be well versed in science and math are disfavored by a significant portion of American voters precisely because of that–especially Republican and/or conservative voters. The Republicans’ idiotic, head-in-the-sand antipathy towards scientific reality and research is the main reason I changed my party affiliation years ago.

    With regard to common sense, we have to beware of its limitations and its potenial to mislead. Remember that so called common sense is what convinced people for thousands of years that our world was flat and the immovable center around which the rest of the universe revolved.

  121. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (98) said:

    @ Nigel #95

    I never said that Human produced CO2 wasn’t a problem, in fact I clearly stated several times that is is.

    This is correct, but I don’t see why you feel the need to say it. I never suggested that you had said otherwise.

    What I said was we really don;t know what it will do, we have only speculation.

    It is true that this is what you said, and it is still utter garbage on a second or third iteration.

    We don’t know exactly what the increased CO2 in the atmosphere will do, but we do have a pretty good idea of what it will do. We have a variety of models based on a variety of assumptions (assumptions regarding the realtive importance of mechanisms that are known to be either happening already or very likely to happen soon, and assumptions about global emissions of fossil carbon) that are in broad agreement.

    Global average temperature is rising and will continue to do so even if we cease all emissions of fossil carbon today. Sea level is rising and will continue to do so for some time to come. And so on.

    All of the models agree on this (and several other outcomes), and these conclusions are far more solid than the mere speculation you seem to be trying to dismiss them as.

    Where the models disagree is on exactly how much warming we will get by (say) 2050. What they disagree on is exactly how much rise in sea level we will see. What they disagree on is exactly how much ice-cap loss we will see.

    And so on. They agree on the big picture, but they disagree on the details. None of the models, for instance, proposes that we will see 100 °C of warming any time soon. None of them proposes that we will have global cooling.

    To dismiss all of these projections of the global climate as speculation is to do a massive disservice to the entire science of climatology, and, by implication, to all of science in general.

    As for your “Venus” comment, that’s just plain silly.

    You started it!

    You said “On longer time scales CO2 levels have been much, much higher than they are today. We do not know what effects this, or even higher, levels of CO2 will have.”

    Well, we actually do know what “even higher” levels of CO2 will do, in general terms. In fact, observations of Venus in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s had a significant role in kick-starting climatology and the awareness of GW here on Earth.

    Back to #98

    There have been CO2 levels measurable in parts per thousand in the past and there has still been abundant life. That’s not to say that we could survive that, but even you must know that nothing we humans can do will get us anywhere near the environment of Venus.

    This is broadly true, but you did not mention that you were limiting that knowledge to what might occur only with the carbon available on Earth.

    And what we humans can survive or not survive is utterly irrelevant to this debate. GW will have a substantial impact on our civilisation. IIUC, none of the models predicts enough warming to wipe out the human race. But there is a slim possibility that our complex civilisation will fall. There is a likelihood that GW will spark wars over arable land or freshwater supplies, and a high probability that it will cause famine(s). None of these outcomes is good, but none is bad enough to wipe us out as a species.

    As for being skeptical about new age crustal healing just as much as religion, you are hardly shoving that my thesis is rubbish.

    Erm … actually I did. You claimed that every commenter here hates religion, and I do not. Ergo, your thesis is rubbish (and very easy to disprove). My point about new age crystal healing was that I am sceptical of things other than religion, but we’re coming to that.

    new age crystal healing is re[li]gion, just not Christianity.

    (My correction of the typo).

    You made no attempt to show why you think crystal healing is a religion. Is this because you cannot, or because you are being lazy?

    I can think of several aspects of crystal healing that identify it as qualitatively different from any widely-recognised religion (no sacred text, for a start). On the other hand, it does share a kind of magical thinking that all religions require. But involving magical thinking does not perforce make something a religion.

    you say you are equally skeptical of various silly things, I say that isn’t skepticism at all. Be skeptical of serious, important things. That doesn’t mean automatically disbelieve them, it mean look at the skeptically.

    Yes, I do this. Not as consistently as I might wish to were I a fully rational being, but I also am able to recognise that being irrational is an intrinsic part of being human. So, for example, when I buy a car, I am ruled at least as much by emotion as I am by any rational criteria. I recognise that this occurs and I accept it as a part of myself.

    However, when it comes to scientific things, I make a bigger effort to be rational and objective. Twenty years ago, I was very sceptical of global warming. At the time, the data were not quite good enough to make an entirely convincing case (i.e. it was too easy to poke holes in the data or in the reasoning that led from data to conclusion). Six or seven years later, I had changed my mind. What happened to do this? The case for AGW had enough data of sufficient robustness to make a convincing case. Over the next 10 years or so, the case became stronger, as each new bit of information either supported what was already proposed, or refined our understanding in some way.

    And now, when the case for AGW is as good as watertight, you exhort us to be sceptical of it. As I said twice before (and you seem to have ignored so far, but I have not finished your comment #98 yet), this verges on denialism.

    as for when you stop being skeptical about something? Never. Do you think our host stops being skeptical at some point? Is there a point where you just believe what you are told without thinking about it?

    In general, this is good advice. However, there is a difference between thinking critically about new information, or new aspects of existing hypotheses and rejecting a rational and reasonable conclusion. In the area of climatology, I am not an expert. I like to think of myself as an informed layperson. However, when there is a consensus of experts telling us that AGW is real and is a big issue, then I will take notice. Expert opinion holds weight in science. Not as much weight as hard data, but I don’t have the time to investigate climatology to sufficient detail that I can assess the primary literature and make my own conclusions. However, I have read enough of the issue in the popular-science press (that usually includes data that I could confirm for myself if I so chose) to be convinced that the data really do support the conclusion of AGW.

    Here’s an example for you: my field of expertise is biochemistry. If I were to tell you that the base cytosine can spontaneously deamidate to become uracil, would you accept my word or would you be “sceptical”? Further, if I were to tell you that uridine triphosphate (UTP; a nucleotide required in RNA biosynthesis) cannot be distinguished by ribonucleotide reductase (the enzyme that catalyses the formation of deoxyribonucleotides from nucleotides) from the four nucleotides required for DNA biosynthesis (ATP, CTP, GTP and TTP) and that therefore cells often make dUTP that they do not need, would you accept my word, or would you be “sceptical”? Additionally, if I were to tell you that the presence of dUTP in a cell that is replicating DNA can lead to the mis-incorporation of U bases into DNA in place of T (uracil base-pairs with adenine in the same way that thymine does) and that all free-living organisms have an enzyme called dUTPase that functions to deplete any intracellular dUTP that may be synthesised, would you accept my word, or would you be “sceptical”?

    You can check these details by consulting a very good biochemistry text book or by consulting the primary literature, but such study might require some background reading first. In some ways, this detail affects you more profoundly than does any argument about AGW, because you owe your very existence to the enzyme dUTPase (repair mechanisms exist to excise U from DNA where it arises through deamidation of C; C base-pairs with G, amd a U-G base pair is a mismatch that, if left alone, has a chance of causing a mutation; if U is allowed to be incorporated into DNA in place of T, this repair mechanism will be hopelessly overwhelmed).

    If you accept my word about dUTPase, why do you continue to doubt the consensus of experts about AGW?

    There comes a point where a phenomenon is established to the extent that doubt becaomes unreasonable. You seem to be exhorting us to be not mrerely sceptical of AGW, but actively doubtful of it. But AGW is established beyond reasonable doubt. It is true that, if evidence were to come to light that throws all of the models out of the window, then all climatologists would need to change their conclusions, but the chance of this happening is looking increasingly unlikely. 20 or 30 years ago, not so much. Now, AGW is a firmly established conclusion. It’s time to move on from establishing the big picture to filling in the details (IIUC, this is what most climatologists are focussing on now – a better understanding of the details).

    will the sun come up tomorrow? Almost certainly, but there will come a time that it doesn’t, and one day that will be tomorrow.

    Well, A, no there won’t suddenly be a day when the sun does not rise, because the Earth will gradually become tidally locked to the sun, and B, that day might not come until after the sun has gone red giant and seared all the volatile substances from the earth.

    To be fair, you must accept that it is unreasonable to doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow. Otherwise, what’s the point of anything?

    But more seriously, this is how my skepticism fits in with the sun rising. We know it does, we understand the orbits of the planets, we know the math that can predict exactly when it will at any time in the future, but we don;t really know how that all fits in the beg picture.

    Eh?

    That is gravity still doesn’t fit into a theory of everything, and the fact that the sun comes up every morning really underscores for me the fact that we still have a pretty poor understanding of how the universe works.

    But understanding why gravity exists has no bearing on our understanding of how it works. We can test (and have tested) our understanding of how gravity works in a great many experiments. We can state with confidence that even if our theory about gravity (general relativity) is wrong, it gives us, at the very least, a good approximation to how gravity behaves.

    Therefore, our failure thus far to have an understanding of why gravity exists has no bearing on the knowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow. As I said before, it is unreasonable to doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    A key part of scepticism is acknowledging that which is firmly established by the data and moving on to new areas of investigation. For example, are you similarly doubtful about Newtonian mechanics?

    the fact that something has been looked at skeptically by others doesn’t mean that you should cease to look at it skeptically.

    True, but no-one can be sceptical of everything all the time. We all make judgements about where to actively apply scepticism and what to accept. So is this point really relevant?

    ,blockquote> where would we be if Michelson and Morley had decided that others had looked at their problem skeptically and decided to go get a burger instead of proving the speed of light is constant?

    This is a poor example. Michelson and Morley were trying to prove that the aether existed, and their result surprised them. What we should be thankful to them for is not that they made their measurements of the speed of light, but that they accepted the answer they got, and went on to critically assess how they could have got that answer instead of the one they expected.

    Finally, i did not say the paper is politically driven, and I think you know that. But for clarity, here’s what I said.

    The way your comment was phrased made it look like you were implying that this paper was politically driven, but I can accept that this was unintentional.

    First, much of the process of how science gets done and how money gets allocated in science is politically driven. Even more so in the field of climate change where there is a lot of money and power to be had.

    What? Where, and how, is there “power and money” to be had in climatology? AFAICT, the people with the money and the power are the big oil companies, i.e. those with a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that “we don’t know enough yet” about AGW, with the implication that it’s OK to carry on burning fossil carbon.

    Consider this definition of Political: “Relating to, affecting, or acting according to the interests of status or authority within an organization rather than matters of principle.” rather than the more narrow which party runs the government definition I suspect you are using. We must at least consider that such political motivation would be involved in this paper, or any.

    AFAICT, all climatologists are – as far as the big picture is concerned – acting on their principles, rather than in the interest of gaining status or authority. Sure, all academic departments have their share of politics, but you’ll get that in nearly any organisation. But the greatest coup any climatologist could achieve would be to prove that AGW is false. Strangely, they pretty much all agree that AGW is real.

    Second, I said that the conclusions in this paper mix fact and speculation, and that I would prefer a separation between fact and speculation.

    But your definition of speculation seems to include scientifically-sound projections. So, let’s draw a fine distinction here: where exactly are the authors speculating, as opposed to drawing conclusions based on reasoning from known facts? Or do you consider any statement about the future to be mere speculation?

    I would prefer it say: “These are the hard facts we have observed” and “This is our speculation about what could happen.”

    I see no speculation in the conclusions, just reasoned (and reasonable) projections from facts.

    So, if I were to fire a cannonball and use calculus and measurements of wind speed to work out where it will land, would that prediction count as “speculation” to you, too? Because the same thing applies here, it’s just that the climatologists are dealing with a more complicated system.

    At no point did I claim that any of the facts presented in this paper are wrong, nor did I claim that they should be ignored. I went to pains to say that it is a problem and we should act accordingly.

    Well, this is true, as far as it goes, but you have been repeatedly stating that we cannot know what can happen, not even in general terms. But, actually, we do.

    You have been describing half their conclusions as “speculation”, but they seem to me to be projections based on sound reasoning and data.

    The fact remains that we do not know all the information and we do not fully understand how the system being examined works. We have to do the best be can with what we have, but we also must acknowledge what we don’t know and understand.

    But you must accept that we know and understand enough to draw some sound conclusions. AGW is happening and it will continue for a very long time unless we do something about it. Even then, it will continue for some time. We don’t need to know everything to draw some worthwhile conclusions.

    I’ll say it again, if you are only skeptical of silly things, and you take serious, important things without skepticism, then you absolutely are NOT a skeptic. I think that applies to most of the people here that call themselves skeptics just because they like to attack religion.

    Again you are mischaracterising most of the commenters here. And you are misunderstanding most of the comments that get made here about the activities of certain religious groups. I am sure that many people here have criticised (yes, attacked, even) the actions of certain people who try to use religion as a justification for those actions. But that is not an attack on religion. I have seen factual statements made about religion (such as that all religions are, by definition, irrational), but a factual statement is not an attack. Or do you think I would be attacking the sun by calling it yellow?

    Look at everything you see with doubt, question everything. Not just the easy stuff.

    Right back atcha. I think you should look critically at the stance you have taken about science and about the commenters that visit this blog.

    You have claimed that much of science is politically driven, but have not shown this to be so. You did not even attempt to do so, you merely assumed that it follows from your definition of “political”.

    You have claimed that many commenters here hate religion, but this is blatantly false.

    You have claimed that many commenters here only call themselves sceptics because they attack religion, but your defition of religion seems to include any kind of magical thinking.

    You exhort us to think sceptically about AGW, while claiming to accept the big-picture conclusions of AGW, yet at the same time you claim that we don’t know enough for that conclusion to be sound.

    In short, you appear to be a card-carrying member of the “we don’t know enough yet” party. But, seriously, we do know enough. We know enough to know that if we don’t make some serious efforts to stop burning fossil carbon, our civilisation will be significantly affected by GW. While we don’t know the exact extent of the threat, we do know enough to conclude that it is high time we started doing something about it.

  122. Nigel Depledge

    Oh, dear.

    Sorry that my previous comment ended up being so long. I guess I got carried away.

  123. Nigel Depledge

    Also, it looks like I screwed up a couple of the blockquote tags.

  124. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (104) said:

    @102 Chris – Yes, it’s just math, but it is just as accurate to say that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 0.012%, as it is to say that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40%. Both accurately convey the same data, and both also distort that data. You would choose the 40% figure because it sounds scarey, I gave the example of the the miniscule number to make it sound not scarey. Both are distortion, my distortion was selected just to make the point, not to minimize the importance of CO2.

    Technically, this is correct, but it is also disingenuous.

    The key aspect about CO2 content in the atmosphere (certainly in the present – hah! – climate) is its impact on global average temperature. The smaller figure (which is “correct” only if you are talking about CO2 content as a percentage of total atmosphere in the first place) leads to the impression of a trivial impact. The larger figure (which is correct no matter what units you rae using to consider the CO2 content of the atmosphere) conveys the real impact that human activity is having on the global carbon cycle.

    Basically, I fail to see why you are splitting hairs over this figure. Are you suggesting that humanity’s impact on the global carbon cycle isn’t scary?

    This is supposed to be science. Distortions should be avoided, and there should be no need to make it sound scarey or to make it sound innocuous. The facts should be presented coldly and without emotion.

    I agree that distortion should be avoided, which is why the figure 40% is more correct than the figure 0.012% – it conveys the enormity of what we humans are doing to the planet. However, to claim that facts should be conveyed coldly and without emotion really takes away the human element of the science. And it introduces the pretence that humanity’s impact on the global carbon cycle is not something we should fear. The impact we humans have had on the planet is genuinely shocking (certainly from the point of view of preserving our present population level). Are you saying that scientists should not at least attempt to convey this sense of shock?

    Once again, since no one seems to have read it when I’ve written it before: I’m not denying anything. Environmental change is a serious problem, the increase in CO2 should be looked at as a serious problem. We should be trying to minimize our CO2 output.

    You say this, and have said it before, but everything else you have said gives the lie to this paragraph. Except where claiming that you agree about AGW and that we should reduce CO2 output, you seem to be playing down the magnitude of the problem, and exaggerating any area of uncertainty, to the extent that you have claimed we don’t know what the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 will be.

    And as I have said before – despite your protestations, you are verging on denialism in the way you downplay the magnitude of our impact on the global carbon cycle and in the way you overstate the uncertainties.

    My point is that we should look at this, and everything, skeptically. It saddens me that so many otherwise intelligent people here seem to be saying that there are some things that you shouldn’t look at skeptically. To see such a strongly anti-scientific viewpoint here is disappointing.

    I don’t think anyone here has claimed we should not be sceptical about AGW.

    What you fail to have noticed is that most of the scepticism was applied in the 1980s and 1990s. It is now no longer reasonable to be doubtful of AGW. Accepting the reality of AGW is a truly sceptical position – because a true sceptic is open to being persuaded by the evidence and by good reasoning.

    (And a true sceptic understands that any knowledge is, in principle, provisional and thus reserves the right to change their mind if new contradictory evidence were to come to light).

    However, harping on about scepticism when all the available evidence supports a single big picture is counterproductive, and is closer to denialism than it is to true scepticism.

    Science is uncertainty and doubt.

    In principle, I agree. Pragmatically, you could not be more wrong. Have you ever accepted something as provisionally true, on the understanding that you could change your mind if new evidence were to be found that contradicts your earlier position? If so, then you are being hypocritical about AGW. If not, then how can you ever know (for example) that the internet is not merely some elaborate computer simulation and that I don’t really exist?

    I think I got that from Feynman. As far as I can tell, if you don;t have uncertainty and doubt you aren’t doing science.

    This is glib and an obvious oversimplification.

    Some things are quite clearly true. That the Earth and sun orbit the barycentre of the solar system (for example) is a fact, and contains no doubt or uncertainty, except at the most useless philosophical level. That lithium aluminium hydride reacts violently with water at room temperature is a fact. That electrons and protons possess opposite electrical charges is a fact. And so on. Science is full of facts.

    Where science is awash with doubt and uncertainty is at the edges of what is known. A common answer in science is “we don’t know yet”. But science also has many areas that are firmly established and fully supported by all the available evidence, so it is only reasonable to accept these things as true until we have reason to do otherwise. Example include General Relativity; Quantum Mechanics; Evolutionary Theory; Newtonian dynamics; Big Bang Cosmology; Atomic Theory; the Germ Theory of disease; and plenty of others.

    Science builds into the unknown from the known.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (106) said:

    @105 – Love the ad hominem attack there. That is, of course, the strongest kind of argument. if you think there are things that should not be viewed skeptically, I guess that’s OK for you.

    Actually, it’s not an ad hominem. It would have been had the commenter stated something irrelevant about you and then cited this as a reason for disbelieving your argument. An example of an argumentum ad hominem might be “Vince RN eats blue cheese, therefore his opinion about AGW is just so much hogwash”.

    What that commenter did is address something that I have tried to be more constructive about – that your idea of scepticism is not really scepticism.

    My point again: Be skeptical. If your skepticism extends no farther than expressing scorn for religion you aren’t a skeptic.

    And you have yet to demonstrate that anyone here (let alone “most”) has claimed to be a sceptic merely by being scornful about religion. Although, come to think of it, you have yet to demonstrate that anyone here has actually been scornful about religion (in fact, your earlier words were that most commenters here hate religion – my paraphrase of your words – that’s a pretty dramatic claim). Maybe you should start by being sceptical of the position you have adopted. Can you actually support what you claim? Are you suffering from confirmation bias? And so on.

    Once again, I’m as concerned about environmental change as much as the rest of you. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t look skeptically at everything i see. Not a troll, a rant. I want to see more skepticism, about things that matter.

    And I want to see you either support your accusations with evidence or retract them.

    Don’t tell me; show me.

    I don’t get why anyone would say there are things we shouldn’t look at skeptically. I haven’t disagreed with anything anyone’s said about environmental change, nor with any of the conclusions in this report, yet you all are acting as if I had.

    See my earlier comments for your disingenuousness on this point.

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Bill (108) said:

    The only way is stop all commerce and abandon all technology. Then are lives are reduced to being solitary, nasty, brutish and short.

    Why?

  127. Messier Tidy Upper

    @125. & 126 Nigel Depledge :

    Oh, dear.Sorry that my previous comment ended up being so long. I guess I got carried away.

    That’s fine – it happens to me all the time. ;-)

    Also, it looks like I screwed up a couple of the blockquote tags.

    That happens to me even more often! ;-)

    We’re all fallible humans – some of us more so than others (mea culpa) & I, for one, usually appreciate and enjoy reading your comments. :-)

  128. Messier Tidy Upper

    @108. Bill : “The only way is stop all commerce and abandon all technology. Then are lives are reduced to being solitary, nasty, brutish and short.”

    The *only* way? Re-eally? :roll:

    I doubt that very much indeed. In fact without technology this planet couldn’t support anywhere near the number of people now living on it. :-(

    We cannot abandon our modern technology and science even if we wanted to – and nobody or very precious few will choose to do so.

    I don’t think many people if any at all, even most greenies, are actually advising the course of action there you claim is the “only way” – which makes it something of a strawman argument.

    There are a whole number of different ideas on how we might reduce our greenhouse gas emissions which range from ones I support (nuclear energy, recreating inland seas, paying tropical third world nations to protect rather than log their rainforests) to ones I’m not sure about (carbon taxes, Emission Trading Schemes / cap’n’trade) to one’s I think cannot work or shouldn’t be tried. (Immediately closing all coal mines, international treaties – proven to fail, nuclear winter to offset GW.)

    I think that science and technology got us into this mess and will probably be the thing to getting us out of it again. I’m no raving eco-fascist lefty.

    I do think we need to accept what the climatologists are telling us global climate~wise just as we’d accept what a medical doctor tells us about our individual health. They say we have a problem and need to do something or we’ll find our situation getting worse. In each case, what we opt to do with this information – how we choose to go about addressing the problem (or ignoring it & suffering the consequences) is up to us.

  129. Nigel Depledge

    @ MTU (131) –
    Thank you!

  130. Gunnar

    Thank you to both Nigel Depledge and MTU for their clear thinking and comprehensive and compelling arguments, as well as Phil Plait for keeping the issue alive and effectively exposing the inherent dishonesty and irrationality of the most prominent AGW denialists.

  131. Phyllis

    On the value of skepticism – skepticism is a very valuable tool in anyone’s intellectual arsenal … if used correctly. If one uses skepticism to further delve into a matter, do more research, speak with more experts, find more facts, then skepticism is serving you well and perhaps your studies will allow you find the truth. If skepticism, however, is used to insulate yourself from facts, is used to deflect the experts’ conclusions and essentially serves the same function as placing your fingers in your ears and humming loudly, then skepticism is crippling you intellectually and you will never find the truth, though it may be staring you in the face. As a few have pointed out, 98% of climate scientists have gathered enough evidence to present conclusions stating that climate change is happening, is either caused or being excelerated by man-made factors, and that action must be taken to reduce those man-made factors, ASAP. That’s an overwhelming majority and enough to convince me, even at my most skeptical, that something is going on and that if I can do something differently, to do my small part, I should. All things considered, reducing the amount of trash my family generates, reducing the amount of driving we do (thereby reducing the amount of fuel we have to buy), making our home more energy-efficient, maybe recycling as much as we can, when we can, all of those modest measures are not terribly onerous to me and not very hard to implement and, even if it doesn’t make a huge difference, these are all much kinder to my bank account, so I figure, meh, why not? Do I really think that switching to reusable water bottles will save the Earth? Not a bit. But it does save me money! What is more significant, though, are the ones who claim that skepticism is a virtue, the scientists are all frauds and we need to abolish the EPA and deregulate the oil companies – this on the heels of the BP spill which, as a Gulf Coast resident, ruined my summer last year, thank you very much. This is absurd! Do you know what the air quality is like in Mexico City? Children cannot be allowed outside to play most days because of the polution! Again, forget saving the planet – this planet will be fine – we need to rein in the industries causing the most polution and save ourselves. So many medical ailments -cancer, learning and developmental disorders, etc. – are occuring more and more often and I’m not convinced that pervasive air and water polution are not the root causes. We must find a better way to make the things we need/want, provide jobs and grow our economy without poisoning ourselves in the process.

  132. Gunnar

    Even more outrageous than advocating deregulation of the oil companies is lobbying for maintaining or even increasing the subsidies that oil companies now enjoy, despite the fact that they are making record profits! If that doesn’t convince anyone that AGW denialism is motivated more by pure avarice and greed on the part of oil companies than by honest concern about what we humans might be doing to our environment, what will?

  133. Nigel Depledge

    Gunnar (136) said:

    If that doesn’t convince anyone that AGW denialism is motivated more by pure avarice and greed on the part of oil companies than by honest concern about what we humans might be doing to our environment, what will?

    Three possibilities:
    1. Manhatten underwater;
    2. Nothing;
    3. A carbon-neutral future in which we can still have cars and aircon.

  134. You say you don’t know what will happen if the Arctic becomes ice free. Of course none of us do. Here is a bit of speculation on what might happen
    http://mtkass.blogspot.co.nz/2008/07/arctic-melting-no-problem.html
    Regards
    William

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