Icebergs off Greenland

By Phil Plait | July 30, 2012 7:00 am

Greenland’s been in the news lately, what with cracking off an iceberg as big as Manhattan, and having a huge burst of melting due to unusual warm air ridges squatting over it.

The Greenland ice sheet is huge: 1.7 million square kilometers (650,000 square miles), and commonly creates a lot of icebergs in the summer. This season is no exception, and in mid-July, during the biggest melt ever seen, In 2005, NASA’s Terra Earth-observing satellite took this quite beautiful shot of icebergs floating off Greenland in Baffin Bay: [NOTE: My mistake, I thought this was a recent pic, but it’s actually from 2005! Oops. I somehow missed that, and thanks to r721 in the comments for pointing it out. I’ll note I saw this picture before all the Greenland melting news, and was going to post it simply because it was beautiful! Then all the other news came out, and so I waited to post it. Sorry about the error, and I’ll add that this doesn’t change anything I wrote here except for the part I struck through above about timing.]

[Click to hugely englacienate.]

Note the scale; the image is about 45 km (27 miles) on a side. The image is a mix of natural colors and infrared; that makes the water look deep blue, the ground brown, and vegetation red (the Greenland coast has grass and other plants). The icebergs are easy enough to spot, some are several hundred meters across. The smaller ones pose the biggest navigational hazard, and images like this (as well as spotters on the sea and in the air) help seafarers avoid the worst of them.

And one thing I want to note. Last week I wrote about the Greenland ice melt in July, and as usual got some, um, interesting comments about it. I was very careful when talking about the Greenland melting and not tie it to global warming; I start the paragraph saying it’s difficult to pin any specific event with climate change, and end with saying the melting is consistent with what we expect. I even mention the fact that some of the melting is probably due to historic cycles, yet many people made comments as if they hadn’t read that particular statement. It’s amazing to me. It shows the state of the "debate" now; it doesn’t matter how careful I am and what pains I take to be accurate. The attacks blow through as if – oddly enough – facts don’t matter.

It would be so much easier if I could just make things up out of thin (but hot) air, find some small niggling point to amplify well beyond what’s called for, to bend facts like moldable plastic to fit whatever preconceived ideology I have.

But when it comes to things like this, I have no ideology. Seriously. I would love for global warming to not be true. I would love it if the facts indeed showed our climate is stable, or that the change is natural, or that the change won’t have any deleterious effects.

Alas, that’s not the case. Reality is, in the end, real. As is global warming, and the sooner we get past the political noise about it, the better.

Image credit: NASA/JPL


Related Posts:

Greenland seeing unprecedented melting
Huge glacier calves off Greenland
Five shots against global warming denialism
Arctic ice at second-lowest extent since 1979

Comments (114)

  1. Gotta love the interweb, where facts never get in the way of a good debate.. ;)

    Great picture anyway and I sure wouldn’t want to be in a boat anywhere near that lot!

  2. noen

    I think that we are justified in pointing to a cluster of weather events as indicating global warming even though any single weather event cannot be absolutely said to to be caused by it. Why? For the same reason that a doctor can point to any cluster of symptoms as being diagnostic of illness even though no single symptom can be said to be.

    This remains true even though those with out the necessary training should not read the Diagnostic Services Manual (DSM) because they will start seeing diseases in everything both in themselves and in their friends.

    The fact that people see the effects of causes that are not there does not mean there are no effects who’s cause can be known. Every weather event has a cause and constitutes the climate in which it appears.

  3. kayhacker

    The most important points climate change research is:

    1. The overwhelming data that indicates the planet is getting warmer (this needs to be a part of every communication if it is irrefutable).

    2. How may events like this be linked to more rapid climate change or may be normal cyclical events.

    3. Are events like these the type of things that we are to expect and what are some of the implications of this.

    4. What are some possible solutions ranging from prevention to proactive engineered solutions.

  4. Mark

    excellent pic
    must need site hits as global warming brings everybody back for more

    would be nice if this “scientist” even acknowledged ‘anything’, any bit of data that troubles him regarding the apparent blind acceptance to his religious faith based. is there anything out there, sir, that makes you or anybody question what it is you’ve been going on about regarding the ‘theory’ of AGW. i must apologize i don’t see everything thats posted on this site but from what i’ve seen its 100% for AGW. would love to see some type of acknowledgment of the other side in this debate. or do you basically think any and all who question the actual science (not shill organizations that post blather…#heartlandi’mlookingatyou). Mr Plait, a lot of actual scientists, statisticians and the like have questioned the relevancy or significance of any warming trend. are all of them to be burned at the stake or is there anything out there that needs further study? is every aspect settled? are all the models are the vaunted 97% of climatologists use perfect and accurate and slam dunk? i’m not a right wing shill. i’m a democrat who is chilled to the bone at your side’s absolute abdication of the scientific method in this matter.

  5. kayhacker

    Scientist should refrain from being defensive because this serves to validate these ridiculous counter points….”Here is my data…lets see yours”

    CERN has done a good job (remember the particle that went faster than the speed of light) of keeping their message on point but they also nicknamed the higgs the “god particle”. Don’t confuse facts with feelings/beliefs.

    Finally, the toughest point in all this is that the planet has experienced a wide range of climate change and human existence has only experienced a fraction of that range. This planet does not need humanity, humanity needs this planet.

    This needs to be crystallized so that it is clear what is happening and what are the options going forward.

  6. thetentman

    In an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Muller writes:

    “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

  7. Randy A.

    Climate change deniers have very little evidence for their side of the “debate.” They cling to their belief as if it were a religion — and anything that threatens their belief causes them to strengthen their belief.

    It’s like the nuts who believed the world was going to end on a certain date. When their magical date came and went did they admit they were wrong? No, of course not! Their prayers had caused God (or the saucer aliens, or whatnot) to spare the Earth…

    So, for “Mark” (#3) and others who don’t believe in global climate change — that’s OK! We aren’t attacking your beliefs!

    We are going to push hard for energy conservation. But it’s not for climate change! No, it’s to save you money on your electric and gas bills.

    We are going to phase out burning fossil fuels. This has nothing to do with climate change. It’s because we want to clean up the air, and reduce air pollution.

    We are going to invest in many different renewable energy sources. This is because we want energy to be an American enterprise again — we don’t want to suck up to foreign oil dictators any more.

    We feel that these are all desirable goals, worth the investment of a significant amount of time and money.

    And if, somehow, all the scientists are right, and human actions are causing global climate change, then these laudable actions will also reduce that, as well. If you’re right, then oh well, we will have clean skies, smaller bills, and energy independence.

  8. sorrykb

    >Reality is, in the end, real.
    Ah, come on, Phil, everyone knows you’re just a shill for Big Fact.
    :)

  9. noen

    It would be nice if this “scientist” even acknowledged ‘anything’, any bit of data that troubles him regarding the THEORY that the Earth revolves around the sun. I don’t see everything thats posted on this site but from what i’ve seen its 100% for the Copernican THEORY. I would love to see some type of acknowledgment of the other side in this debate or do you basically think any and all who question the actual science?

    Mr Plait, a lot of actual scientists, statisticians and the like have questioned the relevancy or significance of Copernicanism. Are all of them to be burned at the stake or is there anything out there that needs further study? Is every aspect settled? Are all the models the vaunted astronomers use perfect and accurate and slam dunk? I’m not an internet crackpot. I’m a democrat who is chilled to the bone at your side’s absolute abdication of the scientific method in this matter.

  10. Steve Metzler

    Classy, noen. Very classy. Tell us, what are your thoughts regarding ‘intelligent falling’ (a.k.a. ‘gravity’)?

    ETA: @Mark (no. 3):

    It seems like you’ve not been reading this site long enough to form a valid opinion on the BA’s blogging habits. If you’d been reading the site for a long time, then you would know that Dr. Plait is not only an astronomer/scientist, but a prominent skeptic (a real one, not a fake one like yourself), and former president of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).

    So mixed in with the astronomy, there are lots of posts that relate to anything that is anti-science, like: anti-vaxxers, creationists, alternative medicine like homeopathy, and (the very topical) AGW deniers.

  11. Mark

    @Randy
    I do not have a ‘belief’ about AGW. i have doubts about the science and the way its portrayed to the very people that need to come up with a solution. in fact, i’d go as far as saying i’m more worried at the handling of this by the scientific community than anything. wax on all you want about ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that, to most of what you’re saying there at the very end of your post i don’t take issue with. they are all laudable goals achieved through the court of public opinion and policy. my issue here is the science, particularly its political bent. it doesn’t much matter to me what politics someone practices when it comes to this issue. what worries me is the polarized camps that have formed which will soon result in nothing being believed my either side. anybody see how dangerous this is? we are talking about either a dangerous rise in temperatures that would involve mass migration of humans from coastlines, in addition to the need of money and technology to deal with drought, or….we are talking about draconian moves to curb emissions, which will result in millions dead due to economic collapse.

    the blogger here says he has no ideology. who does he think he is kidding? if his statement were true, he would acknowledge some good science being conducted on the ‘other’ side of this debate. are we to see any exciting pics of the ‘increasing’ ice levels in antarctica? is there an answer to the recent data coming out that states there has been no warming for the past 15 yrs? obviously only a few questions. but how can anyone be taken seriously in this matter if all they have to say about skeptics is they make stuff up ‘out of thin air’.

    don’t want to crap all over Mr Plait, his astronomy on this site is great. its why i come back. my son and hopefully my daughter are aspiring scientists themselves. i love what they get from blogs like this, and a few others of note. but this really troubles me. the vitriol on display in the comments section and quite frankly by Mr Plait for views and opinions other than their own are troubling to say the least. i have to remind my kids that these particular posts of his are NOT consensus. there is no consensus, he can say all he wants that their is…..but it does science a disservice.

  12. Daffy

    Just as an aside, has anyone examined the literacy level of each side on this debate? It’s amusing, to say the least. And telling.

  13. Blargh

    @ Mark:

    would love to see some type of acknowledgment of the other side in this debate

    It’s acknowledged – as debunked.

    Giving equal time to both sides of a debate is only valid if a) both sides really are equal and b) there really is a debate. Neither of those two hold true for AGW. Like with evolution VS creationism, the evidence is entirely lopsided towards one side, and the debate about it is outside the field of science.

    Dara O’Briain has a wonderful skit about how media try to achieve balance in their reporting by giving equal time to both science and pseudoscience, and likens it to a TV network interviewing a NASA scientist regarding a space station and then going “Right, that’s very interesting. But for the sake of ‘balance’ we must now turn to Barry, who believes the sky is a carpet painted by God.”

    are all the models are the vaunted 97% of climatologists use perfect and accurate and slam dunk?

    Nobody is arguing that. Straw man.

    — EDIT —

    is there an answer to the recent data coming out that states there has been no warming for the past 15 yrs

    See the tag list under Phil’s post? Click one of “climate change” or “global warming” and you’ll see it has been debunked over and over and over again.

    Bringing that argument up means that you are either being intellectually dishonest in your comments, or that you haven’t even bothered to read the AGW evidence presented on this very blog.

    If you aren’t being dishonest, do yourself a favor and watch Potholer54’s climate change videos on Youtube (they’re easy to find, just go to Youtube and search for “potholer54″). Whatever questions you have about climate change will probably have been answered there already – in a neutral, fully referenced and easy-to-understand (without being condescending) format.

  14. Doug Little

    i have doubts about the science

    I have doubts that you are qualified to have doubts about the science.

    he would acknowledge some good science being conducted on the ‘other’ side of this debate.

    Got a reference. I know of no good science that disputes AGW. All the deniers do is attack the current scientific work conducted in the field, they have not come up with any competing theory that explains the data better than AGW. This is similar to the way creationists attack evolution, but can’t come up with a better explanation for the diversity of life we see on this planet .

    my son and hopefully my daughter are aspiring scientists themselves.

    I hope you stay far away from helping them with their education then.

    i have to remind my kids that these particular posts of his are NOT consensus. there is no consensus,

    There is most certainly a consensus among climate scientists. 97% Believe the earth is warming. 85% believe the predominant cause is humans. In other words there is no real doubt among the scientists that work in the field, so you are lying to your kids.

  15. Tom

    What’s the possibility that some of these ‘trolls’ are actually AI programs set to automatically respond to blog entries, web pages or the like? The responses of noen & Mark seem a little too non-human to be real people. Is anyone else seeing the same?

  16. Crudely Wrott

    Tom, neon was obviously putting satire to its intended use, which is to point out fallacy, intransigence, willful ignorance and, ah, stuff like that there. ;^)

  17. Crudely Wrott

    Apology to noen for nym assault.

  18. @ Mark
    “It would be nice if this “scientist” even acknowledged ‘anything’, any bit of data that troubles him regarding the apparent blind acceptance to his religious faith based. is there anything out there, sir, that makes you or anybody question what it is you’ve been going on about regarding the ‘theory’ of Evolution. i must apologize i don’t see everything thats posted on this site but from what i’ve seen its 100% for Darwinism. I would love to see some type of acknowledgment of the other side in this debate. or do you basically think any and all who question the actual science (not shill organizations that post blather…#AIG i’mlookingatyou). Mr Plait, a lot of actual scientists, biologists and the like have questioned the relevancy or significance of any fossils. are all of them to be burned at the stake or is there anything out there that needs further study? is every aspect settled? are all the models are the vaunted 97% of biologists use perfect and accurate and slam dunk? i’m not a right wing shill. i’m a democrat who is chilled to the bone at your side’s absolute abdication of the scientific method in this matter.
    I do not have a ‘belief’ about the “Theory” of Evolution. i have doubts about the science and the way its portrayed to the very people that need to come up with a solution. in fact, i’d go as far as saying i’m more worried at the handling of this by the scientific community than anything. wax on all you want about ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that, to most of what you’re saying there at the very end of your post i don’t take issue with. they are all laudable goals achieved through the court of public opinion and policy. my issue here is the science, particularly its political bent. it doesn’t much matter to me what politics someone practices when it comes to this issue. what worries me is the polarized camps that have formed which will soon result in nothing being believed my either side. anybody see how dangerous this is? we are talking about either a dangerous rise in goo-to-zoo-to you that would involve communism, in addition to the need of money and technology to deal with eugenics, or….we are talking about draconian moves to create concentration camps, which will result in millions dead.

    the blogger here says he has no ideology. who does he think he is kidding? if his statement were true, he would acknowledge some good science being conducted on the ‘other’ side of this debate. are we to see any exciting pics of Intelligent Design research? is there an answer to the recent data coming out that states there has been no transitional fossils for the past 150 yrs? obviously only a few questions. but how can anyone be taken seriously in this matter if all they have to say about skeptics is they make stuff up ‘out of thin air’.

    don’t want to crap all over Mr Plait, his astronomy on this site is great. its why i come back. my son and hopefully my daughter are aspiring scientists themselves. i love what they get from blogs like this, and a few others of note. but this really troubles me. the vitriol on display in the comments section and quite frankly by Mr Plait for views and opinions other than their own are troubling to say the least. i have to remind my kids that these particular posts of his are NOT consensus. there is no consensus, he can say all he wants that their is…..but it does science a disservice.”

    Also if climate change is real then…how come there are still monkeys?

    Climate deniers: Making 9/11 Troofers look smart by comparison.

  19. Joe G

    Personally, I can find no way to dispute the evidence that the world is warming. The last several seasons here in Minnesota have been exceptionally warm (I still can’t believe I got through winter with a simple fall-weather jacket for all but two weeks, that has never happened before.) Summer here has been exceptionally warm (as it has been for most everyone else in the USA, too), I have to think back to the 1980s to find any summer that compares. Thank goodness I have air conditioning this time.

    Like I said, it seems hard to dispute that the world is getting warmer. Most of the contention is whether Man is responsible for it, and that’s where politics/opinion butts heads with science. People do not want to give up their way of life (I certainly do not), and that’s understandable. My thought is this: our society is an energy intensive society, and our supply of fossil fuels is not infinite. Oil, coal, gas, all of it took millions of years to form and we’re consuming it several orders of magnitude faster then it replenishes. One day it will run out, or more likely, become so scarce and expensive to extract that it becomes unaffordable. So why cannot we all agree that fossil fuels need to be deprecated for renewable (and preferably cleaner) fuels and start investing in them in earnest? Fossil fuels got us out of the Industrial Era where steam engines ruled the day. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without them. But after more then one hundred years of reliance on fossil fuels, it just seems like the time has come for them to step aside and make way for something better. We have the technology to make changes, just not the motivation.

  20. Keith Bowden

    I really don’t understand anyone who comes to this site in particular, references a few reports (which have been examined here previously, at length sometimes) and questions Dr. Plait’s skeptical integrity while dismissing the mountains of evidence which has also been also thoroughly examined. Well, outside of the context of outright HIRGO denial or trolling. But I know that’s not always the case.

    Mark, do you honestly not see the imbalance of your arguments here?

    *added*
    Honestly, once something has been overwhelmingly established to be reality (HIRGO, evolution, gravity, vaccines, the non-efficacy of fantasy meds, etc.), we shouldn’t have to keep going through the steps of “proving” it over and over, we should be able to procede with the reseach to further perfect our understanding of each field. (Alas, I know we do not live in this “perfect” world, I’m just venting a little. Sorry.)

  21. Liath

    neon and Cedric Katesby

    Very nice indeed.

  22. Who said it? Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing it.

  23. George Martin

    Was there an instance of a sock puppetry here with the posts of Mark @9 and Cedric Katesby @16? Both have two identical paragraphs starting with the blogger here says he has no ideology and don’t want to crap all over Mr Plait. Both seem to be adverse to capitalizing the first word of a sentence.

    But I wonder what the hell does Cedric Katesby comments about evolution have to with the context of the post that Phil made? (Well Phil has made posts in the past about the denial of evolution in the past, but its been a long time.) But it was the wondering of why Cedric Katesby would mention evolution which caused me to note the similarities of the posts at 9 and 16.

    George

    P.S.

    Cedric Katesby name at the top of his post is a link to to the JREF home page. I wonder if that is to prove that he is a great skeptic?

  24. Regner Trampedach

    thetentman @ 4, Noen @ 7 and Cedric @ 16: Sums it up – Win!
    Although, this is of course not just a question of an argument to win, but a question of reality (see below).

    Elwyne @ 20: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
    – Philip Kindred Dick (U.S. SciFi author of e.g., “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” [1968])
    Cheers, Regner

  25. Mark

    wow, well…i guess my informality in the choosing what types of letters to type (capitalized or not) seems to be a big deal for big bad internet tough guys. LMAO, and i capitalized Mr Plait to show respect.
    so people criticizing this should maybe wind down their necks a little and relax.

    not sure why someone would compare the evolution vs creationism argument with what i was trying to say. thought the topic was AGW here?

    you guys can all be as rude as you want, but just remember when you talk down to people, calling them names or whatever you’re liable to not get the response you want. its the same thing i lecture the folks on the other side who label people alarmists. its probably a response to the ‘denialists’ charge, not sure what came first. you are not likely to gather support from people that you try to label for simply asking questions and demanding some science. words in comments section do not make it so. AGW might actually be happening, it might not, or any warming might be as a result for a different reason than is commonly argued. those things i do not know, but what i think i do know, is the brow beating nature of the way this is being shoved down everyone’s throats is likely not to succeed. I’ve yet to see anything in these comments (in response to any kind of questioning the science) that results in anything but insulting remarks, about punctuation, capitalization, and whatever grammar malfunction was perpetrated.

    its a comment section on blog, akin to a messageboard, to the grammar police, chill….i do have quite the educational resume. LOL

  26. Doug Little

    not sure why someone would compare the evolution vs creationism argument with what i was trying to say. thought the topic was AGW here?

    Because you are making the same mistake as someone who argues against the theory of evolution by making claims that the science of evolution is in question or that the jury is still out among scientists that study evolution.

    or any warming might be as a result for a different reason than is commonly argued

    That’s just it there is no argument from the other side. I don’t know what you have been reading but all arguments trying to debunk AGW have themselves been debunked.

    I’ve yet to see anything in these comments (in response to any kind of questioning the science) that results in anything but insulting remarks, about punctuation, capitalization, and whatever grammar malfunction was perpetrated.

    Putting Theory in scare quotes tends to do that. If you have a specific question about AGW then ask it, you haven’t asked any questions but instead made statements about the validity of AGW with no supporting evidence, that’s why you get labeled the way you do.

  27. Daffy

    “i do have quite the educational resume. LOL”

    I wonder what it can teach us?

  28. Annoyed

    @Mark

    I think what everyone is trying to tell you is that the world isn’t always a place where we can hold hands and sing happy songs. Certainly not today in the religious and political climate that we are in. Science has never had to defend FACTS so much. In fact, most scientists nowadays have had to spend more time defending things that have been proven over and over, than is really necessary. AGW is a fact. The reason that people have brought up evolution in relation to AGW is because it is denied as strongly as global warming has been. I also think that many people are aggrivated that you were being disrespectful (and just flat wrong) about Dr. Plait being a scientist. He IS a scientist (being an astronomer with a PhD usually means that you can call yourself a scientist) and he doesn’t have to be a “climate scientist” to understand facts that are not only easy to understand but they have also been proven. No one is shoving this down the throat of anyone and like Dr. Plait said, it would be great if this wasn’t true but it is! If you are as interested in science as you claim, then you should be able to understand the facts that have been laid out for years. The “other side” you are referring to is actually comprised of brand loyal republicans that will accept anything Fox News tells them, republican’s who are owned by big oil companies that stand to lose from renewable resources, and of course the oil companies that stand to lose and will pay a “scientist” to say that the warming is “natural” and isn’t caused by man. Sorry, but I think that you really should do some fact checking and educate yourself before making rude comments about an amazingly intelligent SCIENTIST who is just trying to spread the word.

    Also, most of the time we don’t expect everyone to have perfect grammar and punctuation when we read something on the internet (and no one is perfect), but grammar and punctuation make things easier to read and understand. If you used them at least most of the time while writing a post on a relatively scientific blog, the rest of us who are reading your post do not have to read it several times to figure out what the heck you were talking about.

  29. Lindsay

    I wonder if anything else is going to break off when the M6 flare from Active Region 1532 reaches us in the next day or so. It seems like the last one on the 7th of July from AR 1515 may have something to do with the glacier snapping off on the 16th. Now the rapid melting… When you drop ice in a glass if ice water it fractures then slowly melts. Just an observation.

  30. Steve Metzler

    i do have quite the educational resume. LOL

    But you obviously don’t have the *intelligence* to recognise *your own words* thrown back at you, only with evolution/creationist terms subbed in for the climate ones. With reading comprehension skilz as poor as that, it’s no wonder you’re confused about a complicated subject like climate change. You are some piece of work there, Mark. I’d say you’ve managed to take trolling to a new level :-)

  31. Blargh

    George Martin: Cedric Katesby’s post was satire.

    @ Mark:

    I’ve yet to see anything in these comments (in response to any kind of questioning the science) that results in anything but insulting remarks, about punctuation, capitalization, and whatever grammar malfunction was perpetrated.

    Really? Do you know how many of the posts above your most recent one (currently #23) that criticize your writing style? One. By indirect reference.
    The rest go after your arguments – which you are completely ignoring.

    I guess that settles the question of the “no warming for 15 years” argument: it was in fact intellectual dishonestly and not accidental ignorance.

    (Also: if you feel that remarks about your lacking punctuation, capitalization etc are overshadowing responses to whatever points you’re trying to make, then… maybe you should consider remedying your writing style to make people pay attention to the message instead of how it’s being delivered?)

  32. DrFlimmer

    Seriously. I would love for global warming to not be true. I would love it if the facts indeed showed our climate is stable, or that the change is natural, or that the change won’t have any deleterious effects.

    Indeed, who wouldn’t?

    So, please, take this small note as a reminder that there are people out there, who actually read your texts, and consider them to be quite inspiring! Keep up the good work!

  33. Daniel J. Andrews

    AGW might actually be happening, it might not, or any warming might be as a result for a different reason than is commonly argued. those things i do not know, but what i think i do know, is the brow beating nature of the way this is being shoved down everyone’s throats is likely not to succeed. I’ve yet to see anything in these comments (in response to any kind of questioning the science) that results in anything but insulting remarks, about punctuation, capitalization, and whatever grammar malfunction was perpetrated.

    Mark, when I don’t know something about a subject I refrain from criticizing the entire field of study. Instead I start the long process of looking things up and reading about it. That is why I now know that the scientists have looked at all other possible causes of warming and have eliminated them. Some like the sun were discounted fairly quickly. Others, like cosmic rays were an interesting hypothesis but it ultimately was discounted as being a major component too.

    There may be some unknown mechanism that is causing the current warming, but if there is, it is unknown and not likely to be discovered by anyone else but the scientists (that is, not weather presenters, think tanks, random bloggers and opinion journalists).

    You are right in that browbeating won’t succeed. Then again, calm presentation of facts and observations and mountains of accumulating independent lines of evidence from many fields of science don’t seem to have much effect either ( other than getting the bearers of the news called before congress, threatened with death and torture, sued, harassed, slandered, and subjected to invasions of privacy and witch-hunts).

    If people were rude it is because we’ve seen posts like yours before (someone professing to be neutral, not sure of what the science says), but in the end it becomes evident the person posting is not neutral, is not interested in following up links and being educated, and will not change their mind regardless of how much time people take to kindly explain things and link to numerous sources. Why waste our time with trolls over and over again?

    It is very easy to demonstrate you’re not yet another troll, or someone who delights in offering evidence-free opinions: Google Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming. It is online, free, or you can buy the book. Once you finish that you’ll be in a position to ask better questions.

  34. Nullius in Verba

    “I was very careful when talking about the Greenland melting and not tie it to global warming; I start the paragraph saying it’s difficult to pin any specific event with climate change, and end with saying the melting is consistent with what we expect. I even mention the fact that some of the melting is probably due to historic cycles, yet many people made comments as if they hadn’t read that particular statement.”

    I read the statement. But that sort of sophistry doesn’t fool anyone. The point of mentioning the two topics in such close conjunction was to imply that one was evidence for the other without actually saying so.

    The fallacy of ‘confirming the consequent’ is when you take an implication ‘A implies B’, observe that B is true, and hence conclude A. “Consistent with the predictions of…” is a disguised form of this fallacy. If global warming is happening then we would see warm weather anecdotes being reported, we do indeed see warm weather anecdotes being reported, and it’s a safe bet that some people will take the next step without you having to push them.

    The weird weather is consistent with a planet that’s warming up, but it’s also consistent with a planet that’s cooling down, and with a planet that staying at the same temperature. That’s because the weather distribution’s spread is vastly larger than the change in the average. So why mention just that one?

    Miscellaneously:
    “This image comes on the heels of an announcement that Greenland is seeing “unprecedented” melting.”

    “Unprecedented”? Did you put the quotes round the word because you knew it wasn’t true? I wasn’t sure.

    “But every day, the list of suspicious events grows longer.”

    How could it possibly grow shorter?

    “The Petermann calving happened much farther up the glacier than has occurred before.”

    How do you know that?

    But I liked the picture of the icebergs, and I think apart from those final paragraphs the posts are really interesting. If you’re going to mention global warming, then do it in a post about the evidence for global warming – don’t keep tacking it on to the end of unrelated weather anecdotes. It looks bad.

  35. Daniel J. Andrews

    if his statement were true, he would acknowledge some good science being conducted on the ‘other’ side of this debate. are we to see any exciting pics of the ‘increasing’ ice levels in antarctica? is there an answer to the recent data coming out that states there has been no warming for the past 15 yrs? obviously only a few questions. but how can anyone be taken seriously in this matter if all they have to say about skeptics is they make stuff up ‘out of thin air’.

    Mark, this quote above is why people think you are a troll, and why they know you’re getting your information from political ideologues, not scientists.

    1. That isn’t even close to being good science (go to skepticalscience.com and see why your examples are cherry-picked distortions, and irrelevant even if absolutely true; also out-dated E.g. “recent evidence”???)

    2. Skeptics do make stuff up out of thin air–like there is no consensus–but the best lies they produce have grains of truth.*

    Read that book. It will keep you from looking foolish.

    *that is why someone talked about evolution. The dishonest tactics used by climate change deniers are the same tactics used by creationists. Same arguments in many cases (there is no consensus, for example). The parrellells are almost uncanny. You unknowingly did exactly what a closet creationist would do over on an evolution post.

  36. Regner Trampedach

    @ Mark:
    * CO2 levels in our atmosphere has increased to levels much higher than Earth has experienced during the last at least 400,000 years (which include 4 ice-age/interglacial cycles) (e.g., Fischer et al., 1999, Science 283: 1712-1714, for paleorecords from Antarctic ice-cores). The Wikipedia-page on “Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere” also includes some of the scientific discussions you are looking for – with proper citations).
    * That CO2 has the isotopic fingerprint of fossil carbon. That means we are the culprit, without doubt (e.g., Gosh & Brand, 2003, International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 228, 1-33).
    * No natural sources of CO2 (including volcanoes, e.g., Gerlach, 1991, Eos, Transactions, 72 (23): 249 and 254–5) can currently compete with us.
    * CO2 absorbs infrared light in a part of the spectrum where our atmosphere is otherwise transparent. That means that even the rather small fraction of CO2 in our atmosphere is important – and that the recent 40% increase (from pre-industrial 280ppm to the present 395ppm) really do make a difference.

    That means warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.
    Exactly how much depends on a large number of complicated physical/chemical/biological processes in the Earth’s atmosphere/biosphere/hydrosphere/cryosphere
    and this is what the climate models are about. Not to find out if, but by how much the Earth wil warm. The many feed-back loops in this system, makes it very complicated, but the models do pretty well in post-dicting (by evolving the equations from the present and backwards in time). This doesn’t mean that the physics is fudged to make things fit, but that new interactions are included in order to make the post-dictions match. They have problems predicting the future because the largest unknown is how much CO2 we are going to release into our atmosphere. Scientists have in general being naive, thinking that people (and governments) would take this issue seriously, but instead our CO2 emmisions have accelerated!

    Some Feed back loops:
    * Melting of perma-frost in Siberia and Canada releases vast amounts of methane (CH4) which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 is – fortunately it is more short-lived. This is a positive feed-back meaning accelerated warming.
    * Methane clathrates at the bottom of the oceans – same effect as above.
    * Less ice cover at the poles means smaller albedo (less reflectivity) – also a positive feedback.
    * A warmer atmosphere means the air can contain more water before forming clouds – and water is an important greenhouse gas – also a positive feedback.
    * The acidification of the oceans means shelled organisms have a harder time forming these shells, which is an important part of the natural CO2 cycle working over geological time-scales and forming limestone. These organisms also sit at the bottom of the food-chain, which is a bit scary to me.
    Some damping mechanisms:
    * Heating and therefore also expansion of the deep oceans takes some of the extra energy, causing less atmospheric heating.
    * Aerosols (soot) in the atmosphere has a cooling effect. That caused the slight cooling between 1945-75, followed by warming as environmental legislation took effect in most industrialized countries. Presently we see the same effect from the rise of the middle class in China and India.

    I hope that helps, and addresses some of your questions, Mark – and a reply would be most appreciated.
    Cheers, Regner

  37. noen

    Ahhh… satire….. Irony and satire are my favorite forms of humor and it is such a pity that it is forever being mistaken for being serious…. It really really bums me out…. you people are so mean…. so…. I’ll… I’ll just go shoot myself* ok? I hope you’re satisfied…..

    .
    .
    .
    .

    *(Do I have to? Really? I shouldn’t have to ya know.)

  38. Nullius in Verba

    #32,

    “…and see why your examples are cherry-picked distortions, and irrelevant even if absolutely true…”

    I may be missing the point, but I thought the examples were intended to illustrate how picking up on glacier calving and Greenland surface melting were cherry-picking distortions in the exact same way?

    #33,

    That’s a very good comment – and very useful. Much better and more constructive than all the name-calling.

    If I may…
    “CO2 levels in our atmosphere has increased to levels much higher than Earth has experienced during the last at least 400,000 years”

    Longer than that, I think. (Reportedly, it only dropped below 760ppm about 34 million years ago.) But of course the Earth is a lot older than 400,000 years. In the Earth’s early history, CO2 levels were more than 20 times higher than today, and over most of the Earth’s history CO2 was more than 1000 ppm. That doesn’t mean that’s good, or bad.

    But of course, there are lots of things that are higher than they’ve been for millions of years. The intensity of radio waves, for instance…

    “That CO2 has the isotopic fingerprint of fossil carbon. […] No natural sources of CO2 (including volcanoes, […]) can currently compete with us.”

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. Take a look at the Wikipedia page on the Carbon cycle. You’ll see there that the natural circulation is in fact very much bigger than man’s contribution, and that the amount of fossil carbon in the atmosphere is considerably diluted. In order to ascribe cause, you have to model the carbon cycle, the different mechanisms and feedbacks by which one part affects another. For example, if hypothetically there was a strong nonlinear feedback that held the level close to a fixed value, like a thermostat, but the thermostat setting had changed – then a new source of CO2 would not of itself cause any change in level (although it would leave its isotopic signature in the pool) because of the feedback, but the level would indeed change due to something else changing the figure it adjusts to. I offer this example not because I think it’s true – my own belief is that the increase is anthropogenic – but to illustrate the point that the proof is more complicated than just saying we added CO2 and the CO2 level went up.

    Current models don’t indicate any such feedback, or any reason for suspecting them, and it is probable that the increased level is due to the anthropogenic contribution adding CO2 at about twice the rate the oceans can absorb it. Almost all the CO2 in the air is from natural sources, but there’s more of it because of man.

    Still, it’s not beyond question, either.

    “CO2 absorbs infrared light in a part of the spectrum where our atmosphere is otherwise transparent.”

    That’s true. But that in itself does not imply that the effect is significant (or that it isn’t). The main issue is the feedbacks, and there are lots of them. Clouds, humidity, ice albedo, lapse rate, the biosphere, the solubility pump, dimethyl sufide, etc. It’s the evidence regarding feedbacks (and other forcings besides CO2) that requires more discussion.

  39. Steve Metzler

    @Nullius in Verba (no. 35):

    Almost all the CO2 in the air is from natural sources, but there’s more of it because of man.

    But in the past, nature took out exactly what it put in (between glacial periods anyway). And nature can only absorb a little over 50% of mankind’s contribution. Put it this way: prior to the industrial revolution, there were about 4kg of CO2 above every square metre of the Earth’s surface. Now there are 6. And CO2 is a known greenhouse gas. Unfortunately, most of the resultant warming is happening at high latitudes, mostly in the northern hemisphere. We’re already well on the way to having an ice-free Arctic in the summer. And if we melt Greenland, we’re sunk. Literally. But long before that, we’ll have turned all the breadbaskets of the world into dust bowls. And Nullius obviously thinks that would be a good idea. Pfft.

    ETA: and if the feedbacks are not going to take us to at least 3 deg C for a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels, then please explain to us, Nullius, how the Earth manages to pull itself out of an ice age. You can’t have it both ways.

  40. Nullius in Verba

    #36,

    “But in the past, nature took out exactly what it put in (between glacial periods anyway).”

    Approximately.

    “And nature can only absorb a little over 50% of mankind’s contribution.”

    True.

    “Put it this way: prior to the industrial revolution, there were about 4kg of CO2 above every square metre of the Earth’s surface. Now there are 6.”

    Depends how far “prior to the industrial revolution” you want to go. Go back far enough, and there was 80 kg. So?

    “And CO2 is a known greenhouse gas.”

    People keep saying that, as if there was no more argument required.

    “Unfortunately, most of the resultant warming is happening at high latitudes, mostly in the northern hemisphere.”

    That makes no sense. There’s just as much of it in the southern hemisphere – so if the hemispheres differ there must be another factor in play. Anyway, attribution is still debatable.

    “We’re already well on the way to having an ice-free Arctic in the summer.”

    Not if it’s a step change.

    “And if we melt Greenland, we’re sunk. Literally.”

    … in a few thousand years time.

    “But long before that,…”

    Verrrry long.

    “… we’ll have turned all the breadbaskets of the world into dust bowls.”

    Although it’s also predicted that rainfall will increase, and regional forecasts are considered unreliable.

    “And Nullius obviously thinks that would be a good idea. Pfft.”

    I think it would be a good idea that if it *is* true, then it’s urgent that we do the science *properly* so as to quantify and monitor the problem, and that we stop wasting time with ineffective gestures and economic scams like twisty lightbulbs unplugging TVs at night, and do something genuinely effective like immediately building 10,000 nuclear power plants, one in the middle of each big city.

    But they don’t even consider that, because they don’t really believe in it either.

  41. Julanna

    You mustn’t worry Phil, it’s just that some people never did well at the comprehension subjects at school ;)

  42. Brian Too

    Let the data speak.

  43. Steve Metzler

    Depends how far “prior to the industrial revolution” you want to go. Go back far enough, and there was 80 kg. So?

    So, there wasn’t a human civilisation then, dependent on a sophisticated agricultural infrastructure to feed 7 billion people. And without any ice, sea levels are over 200 ft. higher than they are now.

    The majority of your snarky comments show that very little thought has been put into them, and frankly, it’s getting tiresome trying to rebut your rambling garbage. Better things to do with my time.

    ETA:

    Let the data speak.

    It already does. It speaks volumes. And what does it tell you, Brian Too?

  44. George Martin

    @31 Blargh Says:
    George Martin: Cedric Katesby’s post was satire.

    If that is the case, I apologize to Cedric!

    George

  45. George Martin

    @25 Mark Says:
    wow, well…i guess my informality in the choosing what types of letters to type (capitalized or not) seems to be a big deal for big bad internet tough guys. LMAO, and i capitalized Mr Plait to show respect.
    so people criticizing this should maybe wind down their necks a little and relax.

    Since this comment seems to be related to something I said, I apologize! I was only noting similarities between two comments. That was all what I meant; nothing more, nothing less.

    I am quite aware that there are a number of people who make comments on blogs without using capital letters. For what it is worth the place where I used to work, before I retired, had (likely still has) an Astronomer who never used capital letters in his emails. I got a few of them, directly or on Cc:s.

    George

  46. bad Jim

    Interesting line of argument: it’s all or nothing. Since there’s no way we could immediately switch to nuclear power, we shouldn’t bother doing anything else.

    Actually, increasing efficiency is the quickest and cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. It won’t suffice, but no single effort will.

  47. @13. Blargh :

    .. do yourself a favor and watch Potholer54′s climate change videos on Youtube (they’re easy to find, just go to Youtube and search for “potholer54″). Whatever questions you have about climate change will probably have been answered there already – in a neutral, fully referenced and easy-to-understand (without being condescending) format.

    Seconded, heartily so, by me. Great series. :-)

    The latest one in that series – a particularly informative and relevant one here Greenland~wise – is linked to my name for this comment.

    There is so much good information online coming from the science side -sites like Skeptical Science, RealClimate, NASA’s climate page(s) and many more – although, sadly, also a lot of Climate Contrarian misinformation out there too.

    Yet we always seem to get the same stale canards regurgitated time and time again from the anti-scientific consensus conspiracy theory side of this “debate.” :roll:

    Ultimately, climate contrarianism – saying in effect that 98% or so of the practicing climate experts don’t know what they’re talking about – is a lost cause doomed to fail as the evidnece grows more undeniably overpowering year by year as we see more storms, more droughts and less arctic sea ice.

    Problem is what else we’re losing and being denied by the Climate Contrarians as they keep struggling to say “its not happening!” when it’s increasingly right before our eyes.

    What are we going to tell the kids in a few decades time? What sort of world are we leaving them – and our older selves? :-(

  48. Seems I’m getting to these late these days but, FWIW, my personal fave good sources of real info on HIRGO (Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating) can be found here :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    A complete list and site for Climate Contrarian arguments and their debunkings

    & here :

    http://nsidc.org/

    The National Snow and Ice Data Center – guess what evidence that tracks? ;-)

    Plus here :

    http://climatecrocks.com/

    Plus the Potholer54 series youtube search link in my name.

    Among many other places, sites & series worth looking at for good information here..

  49. .. Such as this site :

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

    The RealClimate website where you can ask actual climatologists questions directly.

    The Bad Astronomer’s own link-farm of and to more evidence incl. NASA’s page :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/10/26/climate-change-the-evidence/

    In addition to the Co2 Now site here :

    http://co2now.org/

    which allows us all to keep easy monthly track of what carbon dioxide levels – and global temperatures are doing.

    Which is all just for starters.

    As is now traditionally said – Climate Contrarians out there, please, please help yourselves by actually reading and checking through these before and instead of continually embarrassing yourselves by posting the same tired long debunked junk here!

    I hope this helps. :-)

  50. Nullius in Verba

    #43,

    “So, there wasn’t a human civilisation then, dependent on a sophisticated agricultural infrastructure to feed 7 billion people.”

    True. Are you trying to suggest such an infrastructure would be impossible?

    But I get a lot of this. Somebody says X. I point out that X isn’t true. I get told off for trying to imply that because X isn’t true that Y and Z. But I never mentioned Y or Z, I assumed people would be able to work out for themselves whether Y or Z. But apparently not.

    What seems to be happening is that people see ‘not X’, *themselves* mistakenly leap to the conclusion that Y and Z, and then slowly figure out that there’s no such implication. And then I get into trouble for that.

    “… it’s getting tiresome trying to rebut your rambling garbage. Better things to do with my time.”

    I didn’t realise you thought it was compulsory! If you don’t want to rebut it, then you don’t have to. You can ignore it if you like.

    #47,

    “What are we going to tell the kids in a few decades time?”

    You know, I remember when I was a kid the talk was about the population bomb, and how famine and collapse were now inevitable no matter what we did. The oil would run out, the seas would die. The collapse would be well in progress by the 1980s, and the odds of civilisation making it to the turn of the century were 50:50.

    I remember being told that global warming would be beyond question in the mid 1990s, as America turned into a dustbowl, and over the following decades large parts of America were abandoned.

    So you can already answer the question, since it’s already happened – what *did* you tell your children?

  51. Menyambal

    I remember when I was a kid the talk was about the population bomb, and how famine and collapse were now inevitable no matter what we did.

    That was talk, Nullius, not established science. Let me guess—Jack Chick tracts?

    I remember being told that global warming would be beyond question in the mid 1990s, as America turned into a dustbowl, and over the following decades large parts of America were abandoned.

    Who told you that, and what science did they present? Have you learned to distrust people who just tell you things, or do you still trust people who tell you what you want to hear?

    Did they predict, by the way, that over 95% of the glaciers would be melting in 2012, or that armadillos would be invading southern Missouri? Things have happened that you cannot deny.

    As you keep trying to tell us, weather and climate are hard to predict. Nobody is seriously predicting any definite timetable or guaranteeing what will happen. Which confuses you, obviously.

    By the way, you were blatting about it not being possible to predict weather or climate. Actually, climate is the predictable part of weather—saying a place has “hot, dry summers and cold rainy winters with average temperatures of X” doesn’t tell you what the weather will be on any one day, but it tells you what it will likely be. The weather has been consistently hotter for long enough to say the climate has changed.

    “So, there wasn’t a human civilisation then, dependent on a sophisticated agricultural infrastructure to feed 7 billion people.”

    True. Are you trying to suggest such an infrastructure would be impossible?

    No, Nullius, he wasn’t trying to suggest that, and how you got that just eludes me. Your little self-righteous rant was so bizarre that I assume you were just looking for any excuse to work it in.

    I didn’t realise you thought it was compulsory! If you don’t want to rebut it, then you don’t have to. You can ignore it if you like.

    Now see, Nullius, you are again twisting things until you can be rude and condescending about a conclusion you jumped to. And doing it a few lines after expecting good science from everyone else. (Yes, I know you’ll claim you were joking.)

    I’m figuring out that a lot of deniers have a very swollen sense of entitlement. They assume that global warming is a plan to deprive them of their possessions and lifestyle, because that stuff is who they are. They think that everyone should listen to them with awe, because they are awesome. They don’t realize that other people think differently than they do, because the way that they think is the best possible way to think—that’s why they assume scientists are motivated by money, for instance—and they keep dishing up the goofy rhetoric because that’s what worked on them.

  52. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (2) said:

    This remains true even though those with out the necessary training should not read the Diagnostic Services Manual (DSM) because they will start seeing diseases in everything both in themselves and in their friends.

    Would not that be the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual?

  53. Nigel Depledge

    Nullius in verba (48) said:

    “So, there wasn’t a human civilisation then, dependent on a sophisticated agricultural infrastructure to feed 7 billion people.”

    True. Are you trying to suggest such an infrastructure would be impossible?

    But I get a lot of this. Somebody says X. I point out that X isn’t true.

    Not in the above, you didn’t.

    You inferred something beyond what the previous commenter posted, and asked as an incredulous question, so as to cast doubt on the credibility of that argument, even though they didn’t actually say the bit that you are questioning.

    It’s a common rhetorical tool, and you’ve used it to death. At the end of the day, though, rhetoric is all it can ever be.

    Maybe it has escaped your notice here, but most of the pro-AGW arguments refer to actual facts, whereas the anti-AGW arguments tend to be irrelevant nitpicks.

    I get told off for trying to imply that because X isn’t true that Y and Z.

    No, you get told off for making strawman arguments, and for making claims that you cannot or will not support with reference to actual evidence.

  54. @40. Nullius in Verba – July 30th, 2012 at 5:05 pm :

    “And CO2 is a known greenhouse gas.”
    People keep saying that, as if there was no more argument required.

    There isn’t. If you are making the extraordinary claim that carbon dioxide doesn’t have the known physical properties that it does, well yikes, are you ever going to need to back that up with good evidence.

    Plus you need to explain this.

    There’s a link in my name to a youtube clip – This Year’s Model by Greenman3610 – watch especially the 1 minute 35 seconds mark to the 2 minutes 50 secs mark where a candle is placed at one end of a tube. It is visible in the infra-red camera they use at the other end of the tube. When Co2 is added to the tube the image of the candle disappears. Why? Because the CO2 is trapping the heat. Or do you have a better explanation?

    Oh & the world has used carbon dioxide for many years understanding its atmospheric effects at very practical levels such as the use of heat seeking missiles and in, sorta ironically, fire extinguishers. You really, really, saying the known physics consistent with the known and observed chemical behaviours of Co2 and other GHGs are in doubt? :roll:

    You wanna fight with physicists and chemists as well as climatologists?

    @50. Nullius in Verba :

    #47, “What are we going to tell the kids in a few decades time?”
    You know, I remember when I was a kid the talk was about the population bomb, and how famine and collapse were now inevitable no matter what we did. The oil would run out, the seas would die. The collapse would be well in progress by the 1980s, and the odds of civilisation making it to the turn of the century were 50:50. I remember being told that global warming would be beyond question in the mid 1990s, as America turned into a dustbowl, and over the following decades large parts of America were abandoned. So you can already answer the question, since it’s already happened – what *did* you tell your children?

    I don’t have any kids. Almost certainly never will.

    My brother has a two year old girl though. I look at her and wonder what sort of world she’ll grow up in and it makes me sad.

    I read the Population Bomb too. No, its not as bad as that. Yet.

    As has been said upthread too – what if theclimatologists are wrong? What if we do all this and just get a better world?

    What if you’re wrong? What if its worse than you think? The IPCC does seem to be overly conservative in some estimates and models after all.

    What sort of world is it if we do nothing, you get your way and you are wrong?

  55. @38. Nullius in Verba :

    I may be missing the point, but I thought the examples were intended to illustrate how picking up on glacier calving and Greenland surface melting were cherry-picking distortions in the exact same way?

    There’s a consistent obvious pattern of ice melting and glacier’s receeding and Greenland is a small, well, sub-continental sized and consistent part of this. So cherry-picking?

    Not so much.

    I’ve got quite a few links in moderation including one to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Look at their graphs and maps. See for yourself where it’s heading.

    Or look at the youtube clip linked to my name here – ‘2011 Arctic Ice Minimum’ by Greenman3610 – look at the 2 min 37 second mark. Arctic sea ice is disappearing much faster than the climate models predicted. What does that tell you?

    Look at the other videos in that series. Better yet look at the actual peer-reviewed science papers that are quoted in these sources and elsewhere.

    Now your turn : Please produce a few legitimate reputable science papers on the Climate Contrarian side that haven’t already been debunked a hundred times and the empiricial evidence they use they use. Go find yourself such papers if you can. I’ll wait. I won’t hold my breath though.

  56. #23 George:
    Don’t you understand the concept of satire??? Cedric’s post is indeed a copy and paste of Mark’s, with a few words changed – in order to ridicule Mark’s piece of drivel!

    #9 Noen:
    It might be a good idea to use a “/sarcasm” or “/satire” after a post like that, otherwise someone out there will actually be stupid enough to think you’re serious! Indeed, one or two apparently do!
    In fact, a while ago, we actually had some lengthy rants on this very blog, from a guy who really was a geocentrist!!!! I recall having an amusing “debate” with him…

  57. #25 Mark:
    It would show even more respect, if you addressed him by his correct title, which is Dr. Plait!

  58. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (25) said:

    wow, well…i guess my informality in the choosing what types of letters to type (capitalized or not) seems to be a big deal for big bad internet tough guys.

    You might call it informality, but it looks exactly the same as functional illiteracy. How is a reader to tell the difference?

  59. Nigel Depledge

    Nullius in verba (40) trolled:
    “But in the past, nature took out exactly what it put in (between glacial periods anyway).”

    Approximately.

    No, not approximately.

    For much of the time for about 2000 years before 1800, it was almost exactly the same.

    “And nature can only absorb a little over 50% of mankind’s contribution.”

    True.

    “Put it this way: prior to the industrial revolution, there were about 4kg of CO2 above every square metre of the Earth’s surface. Now there are 6.”

    Depends how far “prior to the industrial revolution” you want to go. Go back far enough, and there was 80 kg. So?

    The point that you are deliberately missing is that your “if you go back far enough” is utterly irrelevant. The most likely impacts of the current warming trend will be rising sea levels and the consequent loss of cities such as London; changed rainfall patterns that are likely to cause widespread food shortages and/or famine; and an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

    “And CO2 is a known greenhouse gas.”

    People keep saying that, as if there was no more argument required.

    Yes, the greenhouse effect is firmly-established. Did you have a point?

    “Unfortunately, most of the resultant warming is happening at high latitudes, mostly in the northern hemisphere.”

    That makes no sense.

    No, it does make sense. There is more land in the northern hemisphere, and heat transfer between latitudes depends on many factors, and could easily be altered by changes in air circulation that could result from warming.

    There’s just as much of it in the southern hemisphere – so if the hemispheres differ there must be another factor in play. Anyway, attribution is still debatable.

    Just as much CO2 in the south does not necessarily imply just as much warming, because CO2 warms by absoring certain wavelengths of IR and subsequently re-emitting that energy. If land emits more of the wavelengths that CO2 can absorb than water does, then there will inevitably be more warming in the northern hemisphere than in the southern.

    “We’re already well on the way to having an ice-free Arctic in the summer.”

    Not if it’s a step change.

    It’s a pretty simple positive-feedback loop. A recent Arctic expedition sought to recreate Nansen’s journey across the polar ice in the Fram. But, whereas Nansen’s vessel was trapped in the ice for about 18 months, the more recent expedition completed more or less the same journey in something like 8 months (IIRC, obviously, but the difference was indeed this dramatic).

    Obviously, it could be influenced by other feedbacks, as ice doesn’t care what causes the warming, it just melts.

    It’s hard to see what point you are trying to make here, though. If the melting of Arctic ice is indeed a step-change, then we are not merely well on the way to an ice-free aArctic in summer, but that ice-free Arctic could occur at any time, and be very sudden.

    “And if we melt Greenland, we’re sunk. Literally.”

    … in a few thousand years time.

    Nope. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, it will have an immediate and dramatic effect on global sea level. I can’t recall the figure (volume of Greenland ice sheet spread out over surface area of Earth’s oceans) but it is of the order of metres, not centimetres.

    “But long before that,…”

    Verrrry long.

    Is there a point to this statement?

    “… we’ll have turned all the breadbaskets of the world into dust bowls.”

    Although it’s also predicted that rainfall will increase, and regional forecasts are considered unreliable.

    No, regional forecasts are considered not very accurate. There is a difference. An unreliable predictin is one where we have little confidence that it is correct, whereas an inaccurate prediction is one where the general predicted outcome is correct, but the extent of that outcome is uncertain.

    And it’s easy for overall rainfall to increase while still rendering our current breadbaskets into dustbowls. If all of the rain were to fall at the wrong time of year, for example, or if rainfall over mountainous regions that do not lend themselves to intensive farming were to increase dramatically, these would both lead to increased rainfall with decreased agricultural productivity. In fact, while overall rainfall is indeed predicted to increase, the worrying part of the predictions is that the patterns of rainfall on which our farming practices rely (and to which the crops we grow are adapted) will change.

  60. Nigel Depledge

    @ Regner Trampedach (36) –
    That’s a very nice summary of many of the key points.

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Joe G (19) said:

    Fossil fuels got us out of the Industrial Era where steam engines ruled the day. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without them.

    Erm, coal is also a fossil fuel. Without plentiful coal, the Industrial Revolution might not have happened.

    But after more then one hundred years of reliance on fossil fuels . . .

    OK, I recognise you said “more than”, but 100 years is understating the case a bit. That’s probably closer to 200 years. The firm Boulton and Watt was formed in 1775.

  62. DennyMo

    Nigel Depledge Says:
    .
    .
    As has been said upthread too – what if theclimatologists are wrong? What if we do all this and just get a better world?

    What if you’re wrong? What if its worse than you think? The IPCC does seem to be overly conservative in some estimates and models after all.

    Careful, that’s the same type of logical fallacy some religious folks use:
    “If I’m wrong, you’ll still have lived a better life. If you’re wrong, you’ll spend eternity in hell.”

  63. Tom

    My apologies, noen, for mistaking your sarcasm for an AI script. One has to admit, when you look over it, that your satirical take on Mark’s blathering could easily have been mistaken for a automated response. Its similarity to Mark’s comment made it seem all the more likely that it wasn’t human generated.

  64. Steve Metzler

    @Nigel (no. 59):

    Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly debunk Nullius’ drivel. I don’t have the time, or TBH, the inclination right at the moment. If you say black, Nullius says white. He/she will rarely accept even a single point anyone tries to make. Tiresome troll is tiresome. I can’t even imagine why someone who is not a paid shill for the fossil fuel industry would bother to keep at it like he/she does :-(

  65. noen

    To be fair I am not sure I’m not an AI script myself.

    To be fair I am not sure I’m not an AI script myself.

    To be fair I am not sure I’m not an AI script myself.

    To be fair I am not sure I’m not an AI script myself.

    To be fair I am not sure I’m not an AI script myself.

    bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt!

    Malfunction! My vision is impaired; I cannot see!

    Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

  66. Joseph G

    @61 Nigel Depledge: Just FYI, Joe G and I are two different people. I’m sure you can tell, but I wanted to be certain :)

  67. Lee

    Greenland, that is one hell of a dandruff case you have.

  68. r721

    Your link (earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78479) says: “acquired July 17, 2005″, is that an error?

  69. Nullius in Verba

    #51,

    “That was talk, Nullius, not established science. Let me guess—Jack Chick tracts?”

    Nope. That was professor Ehrlich, president of the Centre for Conservation Biology at Stanford, fellow of the NAS, winner of the MacArthur ‘Genius’ prize, winner of the Heinz Award for the environment (same one Hansen got $250,000 for), winner of the United Nations Sasakawa Environment prize, and recently appointed fellow of the Royal Society.

    If the pronouncements of a biology professor can’t be taken as “established science”, then perhaps we should note that “Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists’ warning to humanity in the same year.”

    Perhaps the reason you’re somehow not aware of it was that you’re getting all your science from these “Jack Chick tracts”?

    “Who told you that, and what science did they present? Have you learned to distrust people who just tell you things, or do you still trust people who tell you what you want to hear?”

    That was professor Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton. He’s a long-time participant in the IPCC process and currently a coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s AR5, a member of numerous NAS panels, and another winner of the Heinz Environment award.

    He wrote a book called “Dead Heat” in 1990, the first chapter of which describes (he says) the future science predicts, from the viewpoint of 2050. It’s very evocative writing – I’ll quote you a bit, but do go and read it all.

    “To many Americans and Canadians, the greenhouse signal literally became visible during the last two weeks of October of 1996, when winds that seemed to roar without respite gathered a “black blizzard” of prairie topsoil that darkened the skies of sixteen states and the Canadian Maritimes. The dust penetrated the lungs of cattle, stopped traffic on interstates, stripped pain from houses, and shut down computers. People put on goggles and covered their noses and mouths with wet handkerchiefs. They stapled plastic sheets over windows and doors but still the dust seeped through. Analysis disclosed that soil from Dalhart in the Texas Panhandle landed as far away as Halifax, Nova Scotia. In place of the soil, the winds left only the heavy sands that now bury parts of the western plains under drifting dunes.”

    Great, isn’t it? Much better than that Jack Chick you were reading.

    “Now see, Nullius, you are again twisting things until you can be rude and condescending about a conclusion you jumped to. And doing it a few lines after expecting good science from everyone else. (Yes, I know you’ll claim you were joking.)”

    Actually, I was doing it because a lot of people here were being rude and condescending to me. I do like to try to fit in!

    “I’m figuring out that a lot of deniers have a very swollen sense of entitlement. They assume that global warming is a plan to deprive them of their possessions and lifestyle, because that stuff is who they are.”

    Actually, while I do find that annoying, it’s all one with all the other schemes to deprive me of my posessions, and I’m sure I’ll survive it. What annoys the crap out of me about this stuff is the unintended impact it will have on developing nations. Just at the point technology and cheap energy is about to free them from grinding poverty, a bunch of know-nothing metrosexual liberal intellectuals following the latest fashionable scare story are going to wreck it for them by making everyone play along with their ‘saving-the-world’ fantasies. Like the horrific things that happened to them (and are still sometimes happening to them) when people took Ehrlich seriously.

    “They don’t realize that other people think differently than they do”

    Of course we realise other people think differently! Although in the aspects that matter, everybody also thinks the same. Everyone is subject to confirmation bias. Everyone is subject to fallacies and cognitive biases. Everyone thinks they’re right. Everyone thinks they’re the logical, rational ones, and the other guys are drooling idiots.

    You do think you’re the logical, rational ones, don’t you?

    The truth is that we’re all *both*, at different times, and none of us can tell when without help. We all have blindspots, but we tend to have *different* blindspots. That’s why it is essential to talk to people who disagree with us, because they can sometimes see what we can’t. That’s why it is essential to continually debate and argue, to keep the arguments fresh, to safeguard against dogma and the corruption of knowledge. That’s why science is about continually challenging and being sceptical, even (some would say especially!) about the things that are widely accepted and probably true.

    I didn’t come here to try to persuade you, or even because I particularly enjoy being insulted! Although it doesn’t bother me, either, especially if there’s some wit and craftsmanship in it. I came here because I knew I’d get an argument! And by arguing, I can test my own beliefs, learn new ways of thinking about the questions, develop new ways to try to explain them.

    “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” Milton, Areopagitica.

  70. Nullius in Verba

    #54,

    “There isn’t. If you are making the extraordinary claim that carbon dioxide doesn’t have the known physical properties that it does, well yikes, are you ever going to need to back that up with good evidence.”

    No. What I said was that everyone says CO2 is a greenhouse gas as if that’s the end of the argument. It’s actually just the first step in a very long chain of logic, most of which most believers in the othodoxy are unaware of. They continually restate the first step, and then act as if all the rest was automatic and trivial. To doubt the orthodoxy is to doubt the first step. To accept the first step is to accept the orthodoxy.

    “watch especially the 1 minute 35 seconds mark to the 2 minutes 50 secs mark where a candle is placed at one end of a tube. It is visible in the infra-red camera they use at the other end of the tube.”

    OK. Let’s talk about physics.

    Liquid water is a ‘greenhouse liquid’. It’s transparent to sunlight, and very, very opaque to thermal infrared. It absorbs all thermal blackbody radiation at Earthlike temperatures within about a millimetre. Thus, if the radiative properties of a substance are really all that matters, then liquid water should show a very strong greenhouse effect. In fact, it’s just like the water vapour in the atmosphere, only 20,000 times denser, and so its greenhouse should be 20,000 times more intense.

    Are you with me so far? So the question is: can you calculate how much greenhouse warming we should expect through a metre of liquid water?

    Have a think about it for a moment. People blithely say they understand the physics, but do they understand it well enough to actually calculate with it? (And do they have any right to be condescending to other people if they themselves can’t?)

    OK, here’s how we do it. We conceptually divide the water up into thin layers, each one *just* thick enough to absorb all the radiation emitted into it. The sunlight shines into the pond, and contributes X Watts of power. For equilibrium, the topmost layer of the pond must radiate X Watts upwards. Because radiation is isotropic, it also radiates X units downwards into the layer below, losing a total of 2X Watts. (This downward radiation is called ‘backradiation’.) But we must have energy balance, so where does it come from? the only place it can come from is the layer below. Thus, that layer must be radiating 2X upwards, 2X downwards, for a total output of 4X, but it is only getting X Watts from the layer above. So the third layer must be radiating 3X upwards to balance the output. And so on.

    (Draw a diagram. It helps.)

    It’s easy to see that the power required to be radiated from each layer increases linearly with the depth, and the (absolute) temperature needed to achieve this therefore increases with the fourth root of depth (Stefan-Boltzmann law), measured in units of the minimally opaque thickness.

    Hence if we split a metre of water into 1000 layers 1 mm thick, the fourth root of 1000 is about 4, and the temperature at the bottom (in Kelvin) is four times the temperature at the top. If the top is at 300 K, the bottom would have to be at least 1200 K.

    That’s what the simplistic “CO2 is a greenhouse gas” argument leads to. Physicists figured out that it was wrong around 1900, and it wasn’t until some time around the 1960s that they worked out what was actually going on. Climate scientists *do* in fact use the correct mechanism in their models (more or less), but they still make a mess of trying to *explain* it, even today.

    Again, pause for a moment here and see if you can figure out how.

    Consider it a challenge.

    Worked it out? Yes, that was easy, wasn’t it? But as you can see, there’s a little bit more to it than just “CO2 is a greenhouse gas”. And that’s before we even get to the sticky topic of ‘feedbacks’.

    (For those here who are *not* physicists, there’s an explanation of how the effect works on climate professor Judith Curry’s blog under “Best of the Greenhouse”. With that in hand, it should be easy to apply it to the water to get the correct answer.)

    “What if we do all this and just get a better world? What if you’re wrong? What if its worse than you think?”

    You can apply the same argument to Pascal’s Wager. What if you’re wrong, and heaven and hell really do exist? What if we forced everyone to become Christian, and thereby only managed to make the world a better place?

    The point of which of course is that not everyone agrees on what counts as “better”. We know where that road leads to.

    While we atheists may agree that hell if it exists is by definition infinitely bad, that doesn’t mean we therefore consider it rational to take steps ‘just in case’, especially if that turns out to mean we have to do whatever you tell us to. On the contrary, I think it’s more likely the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  71. BeerMe

    Forget Judith Curry, she will just confuse you.

    If you really want to understand how science developed its understanding of the CO2 Greenhouse Effect, ignore Nullius and read this well written, easy to read history hosted at the American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

    Notice that Nullius just pawned off all the actual math and work to you. His explanation is all handwaving – no actual math. You can consult the copious references available in the link provided if you really wish to dig into the math, but the AIP link is one’s best bet for a free and more importantly accurate & referenced history lesson by a real physicist.

  72. Nullius in Verba

    #71,

    1) I just did all the hard math for you, what’s left is easy.
    2) You can’t understand science without doing math.
    3) If you find Judith Curry confusing, you’ve got no business claiming to understand climate physics.
    4) References are often no more than argument from authority. If you followed the references to their end point, you’d only find the same “confusing” math again.
    5) I *am* a “real physicist”.
    6) The essay you link describes *exactly* the problem I was discussing, and says of it “(this deficiency would haunt greenhouse calculations through the next quarter-century)”. Although it doesn’t explain what the answer was, as I do. Point proved, I think.

    :-)

  73. noen

    Nullius in Verba:
    I remember when I was a kid the talk was about the population bomb, and how famine and collapse were now inevitable no matter what we did.

    Menyambal:
    That was talk, Nullius, not established science. Let me guess—Jack Chick tracts?

    Nullius in Verba:
    If the pronouncements of a biology professor can’t be taken as “established science”, then perhaps we should note that “Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists’ warning to humanity in the same year.”

    Me:
    They weren’t wrong and their predictions came true. Just not for those of us living in fat rich first world countries. Many parts of the world have indeed experienced famine and disease due to scarcity caused by over population and ecological collapse.

    —————–
    Nullius in Verba:
    I remember being told that global warming would be beyond question in the mid 1990s, as America turned into a dustbowl, and over the following decades large parts of America were abandoned.

    Menyambal:
    Who told you that, and what science did they present? Have you learned to distrust people who just tell you things, or do you still trust people who tell you what you want to hear?

    Nullius in Verba:
    That was professor Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton.

    Me:
    What he actually said:
    Oppenheimer told FoxNews.com that he was trying to illustrate one possible outcome of failing to curb emissions, not making a specific prediction. He added that the gist of his story had in fact come true, even if the events had not occurred in the U.S.

    So not really a scientific prediction. More like a fictionalized account of one possible way things could go badly. And he was right. Indonesia did experience prolonged smoke, haze and dust storms caused by drought and poor forest management.

    Nullius in Verba gets much of his info from NewsMax here:
    http://www.newsmax.com/MarcMorano/Michael-Oppenheimer-U-NIPCC/2011/01/05/id/381916

    NewsMax is a right wing propaganda outlet and Rush Limbaugh is an investor. Nullius is mostly just doing a copy/paste hack job. He just copies stuff wholesale from NewsMax and other right wing propaganda trash web sites.

    ————————————-
    Nullius in Verba:
    Actually, I was doing it because a lot of people here were being rude and condescending to me. I do like to try to fit in!

    The reason why is because you do not argue in good faith.

    Nullius in Verba:
    That’s why it is essential to continually debate and argue, to keep the arguments fresh, to safeguard against dogma and the corruption of knowledge.

    Me:
    But you don’t debate or argue. You are dissembling at best. The specious and superficial are your stock in trade.

    ————————————-
    And CO2 is a known greenhouse gas.”
    People keep saying that, as if there was no more argument required.

    Messier Tidy Upper:
    There isn’t. If you are making the extraordinary claim that carbon dioxide doesn’t have the known physical properties that it does, well yikes, are you ever going to need to back that up with good evidence.

    Nullius in Verba:
    No. What I said was that everyone says CO2 is a greenhouse gas as if that’s the end of the argument. It’s actually just the first step in a very long chain of logic, most of which most believers in the othodoxy are unaware of.

    [a bunch of irrelevant stuff follows]

    But as you can see, there’s a little bit more to it than just “CO2 is a greenhouse gas”.

    Me:
    Non sequitur. The fact that you can go into any arbitrary detail you like means little. You haven’t done anything more than just talk about a more sophisticated model for greenhouse gases. Arguments have a logical structure and the logic is either valid or it is invalid. Getting into the weeds about the physics of CO2 does not really change the basic argument. Co2 is a greenhouse gas. Increasing concentrations of CO2 cause warming. Humans have increased CO2 sufficient to cause warming. Warming is observed. Therefore humans are primarily responsible.

  74. BeerMe

    Nullius, you didn’t do ANY math. There isn’t a single formula in your post. English is not the language of math. If you think you can write an essay and call it math, you’re wrong. Judith doesn’t confus me, but she can confuse the issue. A real physicist shows his/her work. The essay I link does explain the answer, more importantly with references.

  75. BeerMe

    To point 4, the entire point is to reach the math. Not giving references is argument from authority. It is your “I’m a real physicist” line. Giving references, showing the work, is the point. Math doesn’t confuse me, essays often do. You can’t write an essay and claim you “did the hard math” , you have to show your work, in the form of references to the math, or provide the formulas directly. Writing you essay post is not doing math, at all.

  76. Menyambal

    Nullius in Verba Says:

    I *am* a “real physicist”.

    (A): And I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past.

    (B): No, I am Spartacus!

    (C): Well, you certainly aren’t a writer.

    (D): *Video clip of Pinocchio from Shrek II singing, “I’m a real boy!”*

  77. I have to say, I’m impressed by Nullius’ ability to write such massive posts that appear solidly convincing on first glance, yet on closer inspection contain so little actual substance. It’s like aerogel, with words taking the place of silica.
    NIV, if you aren’t planning on running for an elected office, you should really consider it.

  78. Mark

    wow again….LMAO, the internet tough guys just can’t get over themselves. so, in these comments i’m apparently blathering, my intelligence is questioned, i’m apparently lying to my child by telling him the truth (that there is no consensus—that’s a political term in this context, consensus is far from science). i’m accused of being non-human (thats a stunner, had a good laugh about that one). i try not being a troll, i guess when i’m the only one (i guess there are a few) in these comments section that is simply not convinced, the troll accusation might sound like it has merit. i assure the masses here i’m not a troll. just someone tired of science getting trumped by politics. whether you all like it or not, there is debate about many things as pertaining to this question. from the actual science to the methodology conducted to arrive at conclusions that are sometimes want to be published without peer review. thats what sickens me, not some idiotic insults thrown about in a comments section of an astronomy blog. consider me joe public. convince me, let your methodology and data be made public. answer questions about the authenticity of tree ring samples and the problems that might be encountered by incorrect statistical sampling. many studies show CO2 levels trail temperature by 400 years. could it be that temperature rise causes CO2 levels to rise? and not the common orthodoxy being communicated. what about recent studies indicating antarctica is actually increasing ice levels and has seen no warming in the last 500 yrs? is antarctica next to melt after greenland then? if so, why? understand there has been sea levels rising in a few island chains that i’ve seen explained away by “local conditions”. . what about clouds? many models (most in fact) don’t accurately represent clouds. big question of water vapor and its impact. i’m not a denier, i’m a true skeptic. i’ve exhausted myself on this issue for more than a decade trying to definitively determine what is actually happening. both sides say the other side’s theories have been debunked, if you claim there is nothing out there to debunk then you aren’t looking hard enough. to those that will argue each individual item i’ve listed, i do understand and have read argument and counter argument; and i fully understand the questions i’ve listed are complicated. would ask anyone responding to please keep the insults to yourselves. they really serve no purpose. i must also say my comments on this particular blog post will cease. you all can have the last word. what i will try too do in future blog posts that Mr Plait has written regarding this subject is maybe direct any queries of mine that directly relate to the actual post of his and not so much at a high level. perhaps we can argue specific points on this issue and not the over arching AGW argument. otherwise it appears that comments just get lost by the insults. would also ask anybody responding to me to please don’t bother with links….i’ve been linked to death over the years, i would rather just stay on point and discuss issues rather than watch youtube videos, besides i likely have all the links you good folks have given me anyway, been bookmarked for years.

    and i again apologize for not capitalizing, it really is just faster for me to type this way(i don’t have all the time in the world to post in a comments section). i promise you, there is no evil scheme in the way i type

  79. Sean McCorkle

    OK, here’s how we do it. We conceptually divide the water up into thin layers, each one *just* thick enough to absorb all the radiation emitted into it. The sunlight shines into the pond, and contributes X Watts of power.

    This is a bogus description/example of the greenhouse effect:

    1) Most of the sunlight is not absorbed by the water, but passes right through the first layer (and most of the lower layers too). Water primarily absorbs in bands of wavelengths longer than one micron. X is a small fraction of the total solar constant (1400W/m^2). One can get a rough idea of what this fraction is from the first diagram found at the Wikipedia entry on “Absorption band”. The red curve shows the incoming solar radiation, peaking in the visible. The blue curve shows where a 300 K blackbody radiator peaks (close to what the Earth does). The water absorption spectrum is shown below in grey. Because X is so much smaller than the total power incident on Earth, the resultant radiative temperature will be much lower than 300K and the peak radiated wavelengths even lower, assuming that water acts like a blackbody….

    2) … which it doesn’t! Water vapor neither absorbs nor emits with a spectrum anything like a blackbody. It has myriads of molecular vibration-rotation lines which cluster into the bands at lower resolution…

    For equilibrium, the topmost layer of the pond must radiate X Watts upwards. Because radiation is isotropic, it also radiates X units downwards into the layer below, losing a total of 2X Watts. (This downward radiation is called ‘backradiation’.) But we must have energy balance, so where does it come from? the only place it can come from is the layer below. Thus, that layer must be radiating 2X upwards, 2X downwards, for a total output of 4X, but it is only getting X Watts from the layer above. So the third layer must be radiating 3X upwards to balance the output. And so on.

    … and while water line wavelength sets are determined by quantum mechanics, there are at least two mechanisms which allow water to emit with a different spectrum than it absorbs, allowing radiation from lower atmospheric layers to directly pass up and out through upper layers:

    2a) In order to absorb at a line, the water molecule must be in the lower-energy state of the two states which form the line. Thus the spectrum is determined in large degree by the energy level populations of the water molecule (ie how many water molecules are actually in each particular level). While absorption involves a single photon causing a jump in energy level of the molecule, the excited molecule can emit several wavelengths through a cascade through several energy levels ending up in the original or different state. A further (and major) complication is collisional excitation and de-excitation, which depends heavily on temperature and pressure, both of which increase with atmospheric depth. Molecules can be collisionally excited and then emit.

    2b) The precise spectra of each line is determined by energy levels and quantum mechanical physics, but modified by pressure and temperature broadening. Both pressure and temperature increase with depth, thus upward, outgoing photons emitted at lower levels can escape absorption in the same line at upper levels because the upper lines are thinner.

    Thus, while it may be quite physical to require that a thin layer emit symmetrically upwards and downwards, this emission spectrum will be different from the absorption and the downward radiation will not be completely absorbed by the layer immediately below. Furthermore, the outgoing radiation doesn’t originate in the top layer only, it originates from different layers.


    It’s easy to see that the power required to be radiated from each layer increases linearly with the depth, and the (absolute) temperature needed to achieve this therefore increases with the fourth root of depth (Stefan-Boltzmann law), measured in units of the minimally opaque thickness.
    Hence if we split a metre of water into 1000 layers 1 mm thick, the fourth root of 1000 is about 4, and the temperature at the bottom (in Kelvin) is four times the temperature at the top. If the top is at 300 K, the bottom would have to be at least 1200 K.

    Again, to reiterate point 1: The fraction of the solar constant directly absorbed by uppermost layer of water is only a small fraction of the solar constant, so the 300K starting figure is WAY to big, even if water did behave as a blackbody, 2) the requirement that all the outgoing radiation originate from the top layer and the requirement that all the downward radiation from the top layer is absorbed by the adjacent lower layer, etc. is unphysical, and thus the whole basis for that 4th root temperature profile is way off the mark.

    That’s what the simplistic “CO2 is a greenhouse gas” argument leads to. Physicists figured out that it was wrong around 1900, and it wasn’t until some time around the 1960s that they worked out what was actually going on. Climate scientists *do* in fact use the correct mechanism in their models (more or less), but they still make a mess of trying to *explain* it, even today.

    Again this completely misses the most important feature of the Greenhouse Effect: Incoming Solar radiation peaks in the visible and the bulk of it passes directly through the atmosphere and reaches the ground, which is optically thick and absorbs well in the visible wavelengths. The ground then heats up and radiates, to first order as a blackbody, but at a lower temperature than the Sun, primarily in the infrared, which is largely blocked by atmospheric gases.

    While its true that some sunlight is directly absorbed by the atmosphere, the take-home message is that most of it makes it to the ground, and the re-radiated spectrum is shifted down into the wavelengths where water and other greenhouse gases block & trap a big fraction of it.

  80. @ 69. Nullius in Verba :

    What annoys the crap out of me about this stuff is the unintended impact it will have on developing nations.

    See the linked youtube video in my name. ‘Denial was a River in Africa’ that Greenman’3610s got one for everything! ;-)

    Less humerously, you realise that many poorest, developing nations are already suffering from the effects of HIRGO and things willget much worse for them because of this? No? :-(

    Watch that clip. Seriously. Think about it. Please.

    Just at the point technology and cheap energy is about to free them from grinding poverty,

    Citation needed. This ain’t necessarily so, methinks. For example technology is advanced enough for North Korea to have missiles and nculear energy and bombs – somehow the majority of its people find their lives getting worse or staying the same. Technology isn’t necessarilya fix for mass poverty. Many of the globes’ poor can’t afford or get access to even the cheapest energy.

    … a bunch of know-nothing metrosexual liberal intellectuals ..

    Like me? The BA? Jim Hansen, Mike Mann and the other climatologists? :roll:

    Anti-intellectualism is common and insulting the other side is too. Neither does you credit or strenghtens your case here.

    .. following the latest fashionable scare story ..

    Yeah, right. Fashionable back when Svante Arrhenius fst did his calculations in the 1900’s. Fashionable since 1980 or so. And whilst HIRGO may be scary its not a “story” but reality as scientifically observed.

    ..are going to wreck it for them by making everyone play along with their ‘saving-the-world’ fantasies. Like the horrific things that happened to them (and are still sometimes happening to them) when people took Ehrlich seriously.

    Again, citation seriously needed.

  81. Nullius in Verba

    #73,

    So when I describe the predictions, I get told it wasn’t established science and accused of taking it out of Jack Chick tracts. When I say where it came from, you tell me the predictions all came true. (Itself a claim totally disconnected from reality.) Not very consistent, is it?

    “Nullius in Verba gets much of his info from NewsMax here”

    First Jack Chick, and now NewsMax? Are you just throwing out random falsehoods and hoping some will stick?

    “The reason why is because you do not argue in good faith”

    The reason you think I don’t argue in good faith is because you don’t like or agree with the conclusions.

    “Humans have increased CO2 sufficient to cause warming. Warming is observed. Therefore humans are primarily responsible.”

    Classic example of the “confirming the consequent” fallacy.

    #74,

    No math is required beyond adding and multiplying, except for one fourth root. And I helped you with that, because I know you’re slow.

    Math is about concepts.

    #77,

    I’ll take that as a compliment!

    #79,

    “Most of the sunlight is not absorbed by the water, but passes right through the first layer”

    1) Obviously!

    I was setting up an analogous situation to the greenhouse effect. Sunlight passes through the greenhouse medium, is absorbed at the bottom, and re-radiated upwards.

    This counter would be like arguing that the greenhouse effect can’t work in atmosphere because most sunlight passes straight through the air. I admit, it hadn’t ever occurred to me anyone could try that approach…

    2) Being a liquid broadens the bands.

    But it’s an honest attempt, unlike some others. Have another go.

  82. noen

    Nullius in Verba said:
    “So when I describe the predictions, I get told it wasn’t established science and accused of taking it out of Jack Chick tracts. When I say where it came from, you tell me the predictions all came true. (Itself a claim totally disconnected from reality.) Not very consistent, is it?”

    Well it was two different people… at least. So it should hardly be a surprise that different people will approach an idea from different perspectives. Michael Oppenheimer did put his name on the line but it does seem to have been a work of fiction. I haven’t read it. I guess you could fault him pretty strongly if you wanted. I don’t see the big deal. He’s just one guy who made some exaggerated claims. So has James Lovelock. People make mistakes. That is why it is better to trust the scientific consensus.

    “First Jack Chick, and now NewsMax? Are you just throwing out random falsehoods and hoping some will stick?”

    I googled the quote you gave of Michael Oppenheimer and the NewsMax article seems to be a very close match. If you didn’t get it directly from there it’s likely your source did or they both have another source in common. The important part is he does give an explanation… which is kinda weak… but it is also true the we here in developed countries have been more insulated from environmental degradation that third world nations are.

    “The reason you think I don’t argue in good faith is because you don’t like or agree with the conclusions.”

    Well I don’t think that is why I feel that way. Look…. it isn’t really that hard. What do you believe about global warming? Do you believe it is happening? Do you believe humans are the cause? Do you believe it will put large stresses on humans in the near future?

    My answer to those is yes. I think alarmists like Lovelock were being alarmist. I think denialists are wrong. I think one of the biggest problems we’ll face will be the massive population relocation that will happen when those living near the seas and dependent on them for their survival can no longer live there and have to move. That will cause a LOT of social upheaval. Governments may topple.

    “Classic example of the “confirming the consequent” fallacy.”

    Oh very well have it your way. “If CO2 levels rise the Earth will get warmer. CO2 levels are rising, so the Earth is getting warmer.” And we can verify for ourselves that CO2 levels are in fact rising and that it is a fact the Earth is getting warmer. Our understanding of how the CO2 molecule absorbs and then emits IR provides the explanatory mechanism.

    If you have an alternate theory for how CO2 can be a greenhouse gas and NOT be a driver for climate change we’d all like to hear it.

    “I was setting up an analogous situation to the greenhouse effect. Sunlight passes through the greenhouse medium, is absorbed at the bottom, and re-radiated upwards.”

    No it doesn’t. Infrared radiation is emitted by CO2 randomly in all directions. IR (heat) passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and is reflected back into space. BUT, if CO2 is present it absorbs the reflected IR and re-emits it in a random direction. Eventually it does escape into space but CO2 traps and holds IR long enough that it drives the climate. More CO2 = more warming. No CO2 = snowball Earth. Too much CO2 = runaway greenhouse effect.

    Do you dispute that?

  83. @Nullius: I’ll take that as a compliment!
    I thought you might :)

    Actually, while I do find that annoying, it’s all one with all the other schemes to deprive me of my posessions, and I’m sure I’ll survive it.
    This is the sort of thing that gets climate change skeptics put in the box with the flat earthers and moon hoax believers, and I’m kind of surprised to hear it from you. Surely there are simpler plans to deprive you of your possessions then roping tens of thousands of scientists into an elaborate international conspiracy which must maintain its facade for decades on end with no leaks?

    What annoys the crap out of me about this stuff is the unintended impact it will have on developing nations.

    The observation of climate change annoys you because of some of the consequences that some proposed measures to deal with it may have? An observable phenomenon and our human reactions to it are two entirely separate issues. Science tells us what’s happening; it’s up to engineers, doctors, agricultural scientists, economists and politicians (and of course us, their constituents) to figure out exactly how to respond to what’s happening. To attack climate science because of some measures that have been proposed to combat it is an argument from adverse consequences, which is essentially the same as “sticking one’s head in the sand”.

  84. For what it’s worth, I agree that some proposed measures (mainly carbon credit trading) are ridiculous. Still, when I hear a lot of these concerns about developing nations, I’m reminded of those (mostly politically conservative anti-science types) who go around claiming that banning DDT (in the US) “killed millions worldwide from malaria”. The only problem is that DDT wasn’t banned worldwide, at all. It was happily used in developing nations for decades (until the mosquitos started developing a resistance to it). Bottom line, it’s possible to lead without forcing everyone to do it your way at once.

  85. Nigel Depledge

    Menyambal (76) said:

    Nullius in Verba Says:

    I *am* a “real physicist”.

    (A): And I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past.

    (B): No, I am Spartacus!

    (C): Well, you certainly aren’t a writer.

    (D): *Video clip of Pinocchio from Shrek II singing, “I’m a real boy!”*

    Heehee!

    You win +1 internets.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    Nullius in verba (72) said:

    2) You can’t understand science without doing math.

    What utter rubbish.

    I know several microbiologists who have a very deep understanding of their topic, and a concomitant loathing of anything but the most trivial forms of maths. And the maths that is used in microbiology is not core to an understanding of the topic.

    Are you therefore implying that sciences that do not use maths in a central role, such as microbiology, are not science? If not, how can your outlandish statement make any sense?

    To take a different angle, perhaps you’d care to enlighten me about how maths improves one’s understanding of – for example – cell biology?

  87. Gunnar

    As I see it, the AGW denialists who inevitably respond to attempts to point out its reality have once again succeeded in only further damaging their own credibility by ignoring what real climate scientists (or, at least, 97% or so of them are saying), without being able to counter it with anything but flat, unsupported assertions and/or PRATTS. Keep it up guys! I love it!

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (78) said:

    that there is no consensus—that’s a political term in this context, consensus is far from science

    This so inaccurate as to be effectively a lie.

    There is indeed a consensus among climate scientists about the broad conclusions of AGW, thus:
    1. GW is real;
    2. Human activity is responsible;
    3. The likely impact on human civilisation will be bad unless we act in time to do something about it.

    Sure, there are differences over details, but pretty much all climate scientists will agree with these three points. And that is a consensus of experts.

  89. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (78) said:

    i guess when i’m the only one (i guess there are a few) in these comments section that is simply not convinced,

    Yeah, but the point is that it is only your ignorance of the actual evidence that prevents you from being convinced, and yet you refuse to accept that this very ignorance is what disqualifies you from having a valid opinion on the topic.

    the troll accusation might sound like it has merit.

    When you include outright falsehoods in your comments, then, yes, the troll accusation does indeed have merit.

    i assure the masses here i’m not a troll.

    And the rest of us should believe you why, exactly?

    just someone tired of science getting trumped by politics.

    Most of us are tired of science getting trumped by politics. But you are one of the few here in this comment thread that keeps ignoring the science and bringing in the politically-driven talking-points. It is the anti-AGW lobby that has politicised the issue, not the scientists.

    Unless, of course, you are about to actually prove that AGW is an illusion, and that there exists a global conspiracy of climate scientists…?

    ‘Cos, AFAICT, the science is pretty clear about the main points. The Earth is experiencing warming at an unprecedented rate. This warming is mostly brought about by human activities. The consequences of this warming are likely to be bad from the point of view of the continued existence of our human civilisation in its present form.

  90. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (78) said:

    whether you all like it or not, there is debate about many things as pertaining to this question.

    Not really. While there is indeed disagreement about the details (some climatologists, for example, have accused the IPCC reports of being too conservative and of toning down the most likely outcomes of GW), there is a consensus about the broad ideas I mention above.

    from the actual science to the methodology conducted to arrive at conclusions that are sometimes want to be published without peer review.

    Er, pretty much no again.

    These are political talking-points that you are raising. Even if a handful of climatologists are doing less-than-top-quality work, there are tens of thousands of climatologists worldwide, and their results and conclusions are in broad agreement.

    Also, on the one or two occasions that the IPCC has included non-peer-reviewed “data” in their reports, they have been crucified for doing so. And rightly so, but this does not validate your argument that any significant proportion of climate research is published without peer review.

    thats what sickens me, not some idiotic insults thrown about in a comments section of an astronomy blog.

    But what effort have you made to find out if the accusations are genuine? Have you assessed the allegedly poor work for yourself? Have you checked the credentials of those claiming that too much climate science is of poor quality? And have you considered that the world’s biggest corporations stand to lose much of their business as we reduce reliance on fossil fuels (which is almost certain to be a component of tackling AGW)?

    consider me joe public.

    Why?

    Why not consider you for what you are?

    Your comments are those of either a dupe or a shill of the anti-AGW lobby.

    convince me, let your methodology and data be made public.

    The methodology and data mostly are public. Just get yourself to a good university library, and it’s all there in the primary literature. The CRU in East Anglia is even gradually dumping its raw data onto a website for everyone to play with. Obviously, because there are so many data, and because these guys have better things to do with their time (like, y’know, actually doing what we pay them for), this is taking time.

    But even without the detail, there are some pretty basic facts that lead to the same conclusion.

    1. CO2 and other gases are known effectors of the greenhouse effect.
    2. Human activities have been and are emitting large amounts of GHGs, and have increased the atmospheric concentration of most known GHGs substantially.
    3. As a corollary to (2), much of the CO2 in our atmosphere above and beyond the level that existed in preindustrial times has a carbon-isotope signature that indicates a fossil source.
    4. Plus, also, what the hell else do you expect to happen when you dig up coal and oil and burn it, and when you dig up calcium carbonate and cook it?
    5. Several GHGs, notably HFCs and CFCs, are purely artificial substances.
    6. The Earth is warming, and this warming has been rapid since the 1970s.
    7. Surface temperature measurements confirm this.
    8. Nearly all the world’s glaciers are shrinking.
    9. Arctic sea ice is decresing in volume and has been setting several new record lows for its summer extent in recent years.
    10. Antarctic glaciers are moving faster than they used to (most probably because of lubrication caused by additional meltwater).
    11. Antarctic sea ice may or may not be shrinking, but it is complicated by the fact that most of Antarctica’s glaciers feed into the ice sheet, not into open ocean. With the glaciers travelling faster than previously measured, it would be expected for the sea ice to expand.
    12. All models – from the simplest to the most complex – indicate that warming will cause rises in sea level. This is very basic physics. If you heat the ocean, it expands. If you melt ice that currently rests on land, sea level will rise.
    13. The more complex models also indicate that an increased global average temperature will alter weather patterns, in terms of some places experiencing drier weather than now, other places experiencing wetter weather than now, and a general increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
    14. A consequence of (12) is that much low-lying land will be reclaimed by the sea. This includes, for example, such places as London and a large portion of Bangladesh.
    15. A consequence of (13 and 12) is that areas that currently produce much of the world’s food will suffer significantly decreased productivity.
    16. By any human standards, both (14) and (15) are bad.

    But I’m sure you’ve seen all this evidence before. I don’t get why you choose to reject it, but there you go. The science of AGW isn’t saying we have to do any specific thing, but it is saying that we need to do something to address this issue.

  91. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (78) said:

    answer questions about the authenticity of tree ring samples and the problems that might be encountered by incorrect statistical sampling. many studies show CO2 levels trail temperature by 400 years. could it be that temperature rise causes CO2 levels to rise? and not the common orthodoxy being communicated. what about recent studies indicating antarctica is actually increasing ice levels and has seen no warming in the last 500 yrs? is antarctica next to melt after greenland then? if so, why? understand there has been sea levels rising in a few island chains that i’ve seen explained away by “local conditions”

    And these are (or were) all valid questions, to be asked and answered in the primary literature and at climatology conferences. What has emerged from this process is a consensus among climate scientists.

    . . what about clouds? many models (most in fact) don’t accurately represent clouds.

    Well, sure, it is complicated, but the modwels are getting better and better as the researchers refine them. Guess what? As representations of clouds get more accurate in the models, the predictions get scarier. (Dammit, I can’t remember where I read about that, or I could’ve given a reference.)

    big question of water vapor and its impact.

    Not really. Water vapour’s effects and behaviour are known and are in the later models.

    i’m not a denier, i’m a true skeptic.

    If this is so, then why are you hammering on with questions that have already been answered? Climatologists don’t owe you a personal response, you know. If you want to voice your opinion on the subject, then it’s up to you to keep up to date with developments.

    i’ve exhausted myself on this issue for more than a decade trying to definitively determine what is actually happening. both sides say the other side’s theories have been debunked, if you claim there is nothing out there to debunk then you aren’t looking hard enough.

    And why have you taken this approach.

    How about this as an alternative:
    Ignore what the politicians say (including Al Gore).
    Ignore the TV pundits.
    Ignore Fox News.
    Ignore what commentators such as the BA say.
    Ignore what I say about AGW.
    Instead, find out for yourself what the actual climatologists say. And by climatologists, I don’t just mean someone with a degree in meteorology, I mean the people who are actually doing the work that is being published in the primary climatology literature. Find out what they say about the Earth’s climate.

    You’ll save yourself, and yus, a lot of bother.

  92. Unsettled Scientist

    I’d like to follow up on Nigel’s post about consensus. Mark dragged up that old trope consensus isn’t part of science nonsense again. Consensus is the foundation of science. There are consentual positions in every part of science. In physics there is a consensus that gravity deminishes as the square of the distance, or that the universe began with a bang 13.7 billion years ago. If you presented to a team of doctors with a disease there would be a consensus position on how best to treat you. Scientists work mostly on the parts of science that have not yet settled into a consensus. It is no longer an interesting scientific question to figure out whether the globe is warming or if human activity is involved in that warming. Those items have reached the level of consensus and it is more interesting and worthwhile (scientifically) to study more detailed aspects of that change, such as why do some plants respond to earlier springtimes and bloom early, while others respond to late autumns and bloom late. There is no consensus on that, and if you’re a scientist these are the kinds of things that are being discussed now, AGW a political debate, not a scientific one.

  93. ubikdood

    “(…) a huge burst of melting due to unusual warm air ridges squatting over it.”

    So, air temperature controls the ocean temperature. Dr. Phil redefining weather laws ! Yessss….

  94. BeerMe

    Ubikdood, your post makes no sense. Phil didn’t mention ocean temperature. Feel free to click on the words you quoted, they are a link. Phil didn’t redefine weather “laws” he cited NASA about the pockets of hot air that have been sitting over Greenland. Another climate “skeptic” who doesn’t bother reading? Yessss….

  95. Nullius in Verba

    #82,

    “Michael Oppenheimer did put his name on the line but it does seem to have been a work of fiction. I haven’t read it.”

    It’s a fictional dramatisation that was described in an appendix/footnote in the book as being based on the science, and which he reckoned could be up to a decade out in the timing.

    “I guess you could fault him pretty strongly if you wanted. I don’t see the big deal.”

    It’s not a big deal. It was just a useful example from many of the general phenomenon of predicting imminent global environmental doom, which people have been doing since before Malthus, and which so far have not come true. And like all the apocalyptic eschatologists, when the appointed day passes, the believers just shift the predictions down the road a little, or ‘re-interpret’ them.

    “I googled the quote you gave of Michael Oppenheimer and the NewsMax article seems to be a very close match.”

    Morano is an aggregator – he uncritically picks up stories from all over the place, and adds screaming tabloid headlines to them. I find it somewhat annoying, and don’t go there much. It’s gossipy, political, and picks up any old rubbish. Fine for those who like that sort of thing.

    I actually got the quote from the Google Books version of the book. I don’t remember where I first heard of it, but it wasn’t Morano.

    “Well I don’t think that is why I feel that way. Look…. it isn’t really that hard. What do you believe about global warming? Do you believe it is happening? Do you believe humans are the cause? Do you believe it will put large stresses on humans in the near future?”

    Those are excellent questions!
    I believe that the greenhouse effect is real physics, that the rise in CO2 will contribute positively to it, and that the amount by which it will ultimately do so is unknown. (The IPCC gives a very broad band on climate sensitivity, offering 2-4.5 C/2xCO2 with 66% confidence, which you could think of as 1-sigma.)

    I believe that weather at a local scale is very noisy, and that any effect of CO2 is not yet discernable at that scale. If the science is right, they may become so later in the century. You can reduce the noise by averaging over large areas and time intervals, and if you do that there are detectable variations in the mean. Over the 20th century it has risen, although given the quality of the early part of the record, and the potential for biases, it is difficult to be precise about how much. The data is extremely messy, sparse, and poorly documented. There is a limit to how much can be determined from it.

    I believe the question is an important one, and that it calls for the best possible science to support decisionmaking. That the best approach in the face of uncertainty is to build up resources and resilience ready to commit when we know which way to jump. Ineffective gestures, playing politics, or trying to sneak in various economic agendas are worse than useless – they’re positively dangerous. I think that if we have to reduce emissions the only currently practical approach is a rapid transition to nuclear, and I mean *thousands* of plants. That’s not a step to be taken lightly, and we need to be more confident before making that sort of sacrifice.

    Unfortunately, I think the quality of the science done so far is not up to that job, and is certainly not as good as it could/should be. There are serious technical problems, and there has been a tendency to gloss over them so as not to “give the sceptics ammunition”. And a lot of other scientists have taken the ‘official’ position too much on trust.

    The basic greenhouse effect is correct physics, but there are major issues surrounding feedbacks, the reliability of the models for prediction, our knowledge of the level of background natural variation. I think the attribution question (how much of the observed warming is due to AGW?) is less settled than is sometimes claimed – although the usual statement of it is certainly plausible. And I think that the most important practical issue – the transient climate sensitivity – is very poorly constrained by empirical evidence. Furthermore, while the climate science itself in IPCC WGI does have a lot of good stuff in it, the study of impacts and economics in WGII is much more poorly done.

    The science needs fixing, and the potential impact makes it urgent that we do so. It’s frustrating that it’s the dogged defence by those pushing hardest for action on climate that is blocking progress on this.

    “If you have an alternate theory for how CO2 can be a greenhouse gas and NOT be a driver for climate change we’d all like to hear it.”

    The most obvious candidate is that net feedbacks could be negative.

    “No it doesn’t.”

    You appear to be disagreeing, and then restating my own position. That indicates to me that you’re not understanding my argument – probably my fault, I was trying to keep the word count down.

    The basic argument is that liquid water and atmospheric CO2 are both “greenhouse gases” (obviously having to reword it slightly since the water here is not a gas) in the sense that they are both transparent to sunlight and opaque to IR. So if there is no more to the argument than “CO2 is a greenhouse gas, therefore we get greenhouse warming in the atmosphere”, then it must be equally true that “water is a greenhouse liquid, therefore we get greenhouse warming in a pond”. My challenge for all those who think this is obvious was to calculate how much.

    My hope was for people to sit down with a blank sheet of paper, draw Al Gore’s famous diagram of the sun shining down on a layer of water instead of air, and getting trapped by the water absorbing and re-radiating it back. I had hoped that people would at least be able to see that the analogy was faithful.

    So if it obviously follows that if CO2 causes greenhouse warming because of its radiative properties, then it must also follow that a pond of water must similarly cause a greenhouse effect. The question is, how much?

    Since I was pretty sure nobody here would know enough physics to actually calculate it, I described the standard textbook method and told you the answer: the bottom of the pond would be at four times the temperature of the top. In fact, observation readily shows that there is no such warming. The bottom of the pond is no warmer than the top.

    So simply being a greenhouse gas/liquid does *not* imply the presence of greenhouse warming. There must be more to the argument.

    Finally, to try to avoid people leaping to the conclusion that I was claiming the greenhouse effect wasn’t real, and therefore dismissing what I said without thinking, I also cited a correct explanation to show that I could. But that was besides the point, really – the aim of the exercise was to show the problem with the pure-radiative picture people kept throwing at me.

    As you might equally well have said:
    Infrared radiation is emitted by water randomly in all directions. IR (heat) passes through the empty pool and is reflected back into space. BUT, if water is present it absorbs the reflected IR and re-emits it in a random direction. Eventually it does escape into space but water traps and holds IR long enough that it drives the heating of the pond bottom. More water = more warming. No water = cold, empty pond. Too much water = all the world’s oceans explode.

    To keep the discussion focussed, the two questions I’d ask you are:
    1) Is there any sense in which water’s sunlight-transparent-IR-opaque properties do not qualify it as a ‘greenhouse’ agent, like CO2?
    2) If being a greenhouse agent implies greenhouse warming, shouldn’t a shallow pond have a greenhouse effect?

    That’s only if you want to continue discussing it, of course.

  96. BeerMe

    Blah blah blah, no math again from Null in Void.

    Sorry, but it is not just multiplication and an exponent. When you start talking about taking layers repeatedly, you are talking series, integration, iteration (algorithms). Feel free to include unambiguous math in your essays any time, you know, like a “real physicist”. Use a formula, it helps.

  97. Nullius in Verba

    #86,

    “To take a different angle, perhaps you’d care to enlighten me about how maths improves one’s understanding of – for example – cell biology?”

    It allows you to do statistical tests on experimental outcomes.

    #87,

    “what real climate scientists (or, at least, 97% or so of them are saying),”

    People keep quoting that 97% statistic, but I don’t think they know where it comes from.

    #88,

    “Sure, there are differences over details, but pretty much all climate scientists will agree with these three points.”

    They’ll agree with the first point. They’ll agree that humanity *contributes* on the second. They don’t agree on the third.

    #90,

    “Also, on the one or two occasions that the IPCC has included non-peer-reviewed “data” in their reports, they have been crucified for doing so. And rightly so”

    From the IAC review of the IPCC process:
    “IPCC assessments are intended to rely mainly on peer-reviewed literature. Although the peer review process is not perfect, it ensures that the study being considered has had the benefit of independent scrutiny and quality control before it is used in the assessment. However, peer reviewed journals may not contain all the useful information about some topics, such as vulnerabilities and adaptation and mitigation strategies of particular sectors and regions, which are a significant part of the Working Groups II and III reports. An analysis of the 14,000 references cited in the Third Assessment Report found that peer-reviewed journal articles comprised 84 percent of references in Working Group I, but only 59 percent of references in Working Group II and 36 percent of references in Working Group III (Bjurström and Polk, 2010).”

    “But what effort have you made to find out if the accusations are genuine? Have you assessed the allegedly poor work for yourself?”

    :-)

    “The methodology and data mostly are public. Just get yourself to a good university library, and it’s all there in the primary literature.”

    You’ve never checked that, have you?

    Quick example – the climate database CRU TS2.1 is described in the primary literature as Mitchell and Jones 2005, and is cited in the IPCC WGI reports as such. Find for me a description in that same literature of the methodology, so that I can check the statements in the ‘Harry’ file regarding the missing files, unrecorded manual inputs, made up numbers, or the use of Delaunay interpolation for a supposedly gridded product. Why did Harry struggle to figure out how the code worked, if it’s all public?

    “The CRU in East Anglia is even gradually dumping its raw data onto a website for everyone to play with.”

    They’re not actually. As they built up their database they adjusted it, but kept no record of the adjustments or the original. The ‘raw’ data fed into their process is different from the raw data the contributing Met services provided. Phil Jones admitted as much in his begging letter to the national Met services.

    #92,

    “In physics there is a consensus that gravity deminishes as the square of the distance, or that the universe began with a bang 13.7 billion years ago.”

    No, there’s *evidence* that gravity diminishes with the inverse square of the distance, etc. Evidence is everything.

    If there was evidence that it wasn’t an inverse square, but a consensus that it was, the evidence would win. In fact, if the force really was proportional to the inverse squared distance, that would allow faster-than-light communication, since you could wiggle a heavy mass, the distances to distant masses would vary, and the varying forces on them could be detected.

    Every scientific revolution has occurred through somebody defying the consensus, and presenting evidence that it was wrong. Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

    #96,

    OK.

    (1/c) dI/dt + S . grad I + (k_s + k_a)I = j +(1/(4 Pi c)) k_s Integral I dS

    Now we’ve got that sorted, would you like to answer the questions?

  98. noen

    Nullius in Verba:
    “It’s not a big deal. It was just a useful example from many of the general phenomenon of predicting imminent global environmental doom, which people have been doing since before Malthus, and which so far have not come true. And like all the apocalyptic eschatologists, when the appointed day passes, the believers just shift the predictions down the road a little, or ‘re-interpret’ them.”

    Confirmation bias and motivated reasoning happens to us all. However since we are focusing on logical fallacies: “the general phenomenon of predicting imminent global environmental doom, which people have been doing since before Malthus, and which so far have not come true” is a denying the antecedent fallacy. That Michael Oppenheimer’s predictions did not come true does not imply that no predictions of climatology will come true.

    —-

    “I believe that the greenhouse effect is real physics, that the rise in CO2 will contribute positively to it, and that the amount by which it will ultimately do so is unknown.”

    CO2 isn’t just a contributer. It is a driver of climate change because unlike water vapor it remains in the air far longer than H2O does.

    “I believe that weather at a local scale is very noisy, and that any effect of CO2 is not yet discernable at that scale.”

    So you agree that at some point climate change should be discernible in weather patterns? So all the previous posts and comments you made before were what? Bullshit? This is why I accused you of arguing in bad faith.

    “The data is extremely messy, sparse, and poorly documented. There is a limit to how much can be determined from it.”

    I am not a statistician but my understanding is that sophisticated techniques can be applied to noisy data to yield good information. Do you dispute the math used by climatologists? If you do shouldn’t you publish and collect your Nobel Prize?

    I believe the question is an important one, and that it calls for the best possible science to support decisionmaking.

    Don’t we have that now? What are your qualifications to pass judgment on what the “best possible science” is in climatology? What evidence do you have that less than the best science is being done? If you truly do have a good case why wouldn’t you publish? If you are right you could write your own ticket to chair the Dept. of just about any university you wanted.


    “Ineffective gestures, playing politics, or trying to sneak in various economic agendas are worse than useless – they’re positively dangerous. “

    How do you know what will be ineffective? According to you we don’t know what the effects of warming will be. How can you possibly know ahead of time that *any* proposed solution is dangerous if you don’t know what the risks are?


    “I think that if we have to reduce emissions the only currently practical approach is a rapid transition to nuclear, and I mean *thousands* of plants.”

    Who is against that? Even James Lovelock advocates nuclear as at least part of any solution. Sure there are far left liberals who are anti-nuke anything but I’m a lib and I have had many conversations on the DailyKos site where I and others are all pro-nuclear. I am hearing the rustle of a man of straw.


    “I think the quality of the science done so far is not up to that job, and is certainly not as good as it could/should be”

    Ok, so you have an opinion. So what? What are the reasons for your opinion? Because to date in this long thread and in others before it I have yet to see them. Or are you holding back until publication?

    ———————————-
    “The basic greenhouse effect is correct physics, but there are major issues surrounding feedbacks, the reliability of the models for prediction, our knowledge of the level of background natural variation. I think the attribution question (how much of the observed warming is due to AGW?) is less settled than is sometimes claimed – although the usual statement of it is certainly plausible. And I think that the most important practical issue – the transient climate sensitivity – is very poorly constrained by empirical evidence.”

    Oh… I see. It’s climate sensitivity. That’s all you have. And you don’t have or are unwilling to clearly state the reasons why. But I am going to guess you think there are valid objections to the current consensus on climate sensitivity. Well ok. Then why aren’t you debating directly with Michael Mann on Real Climate or on other professional climate science blogs?

    If you really do have valid criticisms of climate sensitivity shouldn’t you write those up and at least engage the principle climatologists professionally? You’re a physicist so you certainly have better standing than most. At the very least you have the background needed to produce a good critical analysis and if you have the truth on your side that could be a tremendous boost to your career. Just imagine. You….. defeating the entire climatology community. Wow!

    Of course… there is a down side if you’re wrong. Which is why I think you are commenting on an astronomy blog with lots of pretty picts of auroras and stars ‘n stuff.


    “The most obvious candidate is that net feedbacks could be negative.”

    So do you believe that no climatologist has ever thought of that? I’m pretty sure they have.


    “The basic argument is that liquid water and atmospheric CO2 are both “greenhouse gases””

    I’m pretty sure that water gets nice and warm in the sun. Why am I supposed to believe that liquid water behaves as a “greenhouse liquid”? Why are you talking about waters instead of CO2? People here are not complete dolts. I think most can handle a direct argument about why you believe CO2 doesn’t act the way climatologists say it does.


    “So if it obviously follows that if CO2 causes greenhouse warming because of its radiative properties, then it must also follow that a pond of water must similarly cause a greenhouse effect.”

    I have noticed that water gets warm in the sun and stays warm a bit after the sun has set. Is that what you mean?


    “I described the standard textbook method and told you the answer: the bottom of the pond would be at four times the temperature of the top. In fact, observation readily shows that there is no such warming. The bottom of the pond is no warmer than the top.”

    The bottom is colder because water really isn’t totally transparent. Neither is water vapor.

    “So simply being a greenhouse gas/liquid does *not* imply the presence of greenhouse warming.”

    Or that you can’t really compare liquid water to water vapor. Or that there is more water vapor and other greenhouse gases closer to the surface of the earth because of, you know, gravity and that means you can’t use the same model for water that you use for CO2.


    “Infrared radiation is emitted by water randomly in all directions. IR (heat) passes through the empty pool and is reflected back into space. BUT, if water is present it absorbs the reflected IR and re-emits it in a random direction. Eventually it does escape into space but water traps and holds IR long enough that it drives the heating of the pond bottom. More water = more warming. No water = cold, empty pond. Too much water = all the world’s oceans explode.”

    Do you see the mistake you just made there? “More water = more warming.” is not the same as “More CO2 = more warming.” Why? Because “more water” means a bigger pond by volume. “More CO2″ means a greater concentration of CO2 in an atmosphere that remains at the same volume. These are two different physical realities.

    If there were a molecule in liquid suspension in water that acted as a “greenhouse liquid” within the medium of H2O in a way comparable to how CO2 acts within the medium of the air (mostly nitrogen) wouldn’t increasing it’s concentration increase its “greenhouse liquid” effect? If not why not?


    “1) Is there any sense in which water’s sunlight-transparent-IR-opaque properties do not qualify it as a ‘greenhouse’ agent, like CO2?”

    Who says that the Earth’s oceans do not retain heat from the sun? I am not getting the connection here. The air is mostly nitrogen and O2. CO2 is a very small fraction of the overall percentage. The oceans are mostly H2O. Nitrogen is not a greenhouse gas, it’s inert, but H2O is. Sounds like apples and oranges to me.

    “2) If being a greenhouse agent implies greenhouse warming, shouldn’t a shallow pond have a greenhouse effect?”

    Don’t they? Duck ponds get warm in the sun and ducks swim in them. The water in a child’s plastic pool can get down right hot. Is there some sort of point to this? I don’t get it.

  99. @97. Nullius in Verba :

    #87, “what real climate scientists (or, at least, 97% or so of them are saying),”
    People keep quoting that 97% statistic, but I don’t think they know where it comes from.

    Do you? It comes from the 2004 study by Naomi Oreskes which has held up very well against Climate Contrarian scutiny, thankyou.

    Guess what, there’s a link in my name for that. As that linked Skeptical Science : Is there a scientific consensus on global warming? webpage goes on to note a subsequent 2009 study by Doran :

    Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn’t publish research, 77% answered yes. [To the question : Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” -ed.] In contrast, 97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes.

    So technically speaking, its actually 98% of climatologists rounded up and since that was a couple of years ago and the evidence has only gotten stronger and ever more independently confirmed since (eg. Muller’s BEST work), by now, its probably closer to 99.9% or more! ;-)

  100. There is now an excellent if somewhat misleadingly titled youtube clip – Greenland Goes Green: Ice Sheet Melted in Four Days linked to my name for this comment with a PBS ‘Newshour’ TV interview with NASA scientist Thomas Wagner.

    Well worth watching in full.

    @98. noen :

    “I think that if we have to reduce emissions the only currently practical approach is a rapid transition to nuclear, and I mean *thousands* of plants.” [- Nullius in Verba -ed.]
    Who is against that? Even James Lovelock advocates nuclear as at least part of any solution. Sure there are far left liberals who are anti-nuke anything but I’m a lib and I have had many conversations on the DailyKos site where I and others are all pro-nuclear. I am hearing the rustle of a man of straw.

    Seconded by me. I fully support the use of nuclear reactors especially working on newer better designs – such as the thorium and liquid salts as was noted on Greg Laden’s (sciblogs) blog a while ago.

    I’ll also note that there ‘s a big difference between arguing about which solutions are our best choices for tackling the problem and denyng that there’s a problem in the first place. Those are two separate steps and discussions.

    (FWIW I also think among other things that we should look more closely at James Hansen’s “fee-n-Dividend” idea as opposed to “cap-n’-trade” schemes. )

    “I described the standard textbook method and told you the answer: the bottom of the pond would be at four times the temperature of the top. In fact, observation readily shows that there is no such warming. The bottom of the pond is no warmer than the top.” [- Nullius in Verba -ed.]
    The bottom is colder because water really isn’t totally transparent. Neither is water vapor.

    Adding to that water in oceans, lakes, swamps etc .. isn’t *just* water but also contains impurities, lifeforms microscopic and macroscopic, dissolved and separate sediments and so on.

    IOW, Water ain’t (usually just) water! ;-)

  101. See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2vzotsvvkw

    For a great talk on youtube – ‘TEDxYYC – Kirk Sorensen – Thorium’ on liquid fluoride salts and thorium reactors – good for use on the Moon sustaining human colonies as well as for tackling HIRGO and good ideas all round. 8)

    There’s a wiki-page on this technology here too :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor

    Then, returning to the implications of what’s happening currently in Greenland this :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/is-greenland-close-to-a-climate-tipping-point.html

    ‘Skeptical Science’ article and the data it presents makes worrying reading suggesting we may be near a tipping point there. :-(

    Finally, on the H20 “fogging” the GHGs issues see the youtube clip – Water Vapor and Climate – linked to my name. From guess where? ;-)

    Yup. Greenman3610 really does have a clip for every Climate Contrarian claim.

    So Nullius in Verba, have you seen that one and what did you think of it? Have you seen any of those links I’ve provided yet actually?

  102. @98.Noen :

    “The most obvious candidate is that net feedbacks could be negative.” [-Nullius in Verba -ed.]
    So do you believe that no climatologist has ever thought of that? I’m pretty sure they have.

    ^ This! Yup indeed.

    Feedbacks of all possible types *are* taken into account by the climate scientists and, once again, there’s a link in my name for that. In essence – the climatologists studies show that these feedbacks are positive – escalating & worsening the problem – in nature far more than negative – equibrium-restoring – in nature.

    Why is it that the Climate Contrarians seem to think the leading experts in climatology, people who have dedicated much of their lives to following and understanding the complexities of this issue, are idiots? :roll:

    Challenge for you, Nullius in Verba, perhaps you could offer some specific examples of things you think have a strong negative feedbacks when it comes to HIRGO and explain why the best scientific experts in the field have failed to notice these and account for these negative equilibrium restoring feedbacks yet? Of course, any extraordinary claims made will need to be backed up and supported by extraordinary evidence.

    Note : things like clouds and water vapour, we – and more importantly the climatologists – have long been aware of and taken into account.

  103. Sean McCorkle

    2) Being a liquid broadens the bands.
    But it’s an honest attempt, unlike some others. Have another go.

    If you really want to focus on liquid water, your attempt at a “Zeno’s paradox” is so wrong its hard to know where to begin.

    For starters, the greenhouse effect is a system of two components: 1) the analog of a glass greenhouse, transparent in the visible, where sunlight peaks, and absorptive in the IR and 2) the analog of a greenhouse INTERIOR, opaque and thus highly absorptive in the visible. In your water example, water acts as the glass, and the latter is perhaps a pool bottom. In the worlds oceans and lakes, the latter can be particulates, mixed in with the water, that contribute to its turbidity. The greenhouse effect involves the whole system of two components; any calculation must consider both components.

    (and please: I know the irony that the Greenhouse effect doesn’t explain actual greenhouses)

    This assertion

    The sunlight shines into the pond, and contributes X Watts of power. For equilibrium, the topmost layer of the pond must radiate X Watts upwards.

    is not true. What is true is that the total radiated flux, integrated over all wavelengths, from the whole body of water and surface below it, as measured at the surface, is equal to the total flux of sunlight, integrated over all wavelengths, absorbed by the whole body of water AND the surface below (the whole greenhouse system). If there is ~400 Watts total being absorbed by the whole system, there must be ~400 Watts being radiated at the surface of the system.

    For flux balance in the top layer, the TOTAL flux absorbed by that layer equals the total flux radiated by that layer. The total absorbed flux is the SUM of the small fraction of sunlight absorbed (your X) PLUS the upwards radiation absorbed from the lower layers. Y. The resultant upward-going flux from the top layer is (X+Y)/2 and the resultant downward going flux is (X+Y)/2.

    Y, the upward re-radiated flux, is FAR larger than X. Only 5% of the total flux of a 6000 K blackbody is longer than 2 μ, about where the water absorbs. Most of the sunlight reaches the opaque surface, is largely absorbed, and the surface heats and radiates predominately in the infrared, where water absorbs strongly. The flux emergent from the surface will be equal to a very LARGE fraction of the total solar flux. This will be complete absorbed by the water above and re-radiated, and that will make its way up to the top surface, and will be in the IR, so the top layer will see a large IR flux from the layers below, and it will largely absorb that. That is a much larger contribution than the fraction of sunlight directly absorbed.

    Thus if the water temperature at each layer were determined solely by radiation balance, its the bottom surface that plays the dominant role, not the sunlight absorbed by the water. Your 4th-root temperature profile is bogus. Either you’re confused and misunderstand the physics, or you’re deliberately trying to confuse readers.

    Sowing confusion is a hallmark of science denialism.

  104. NiV

    Hmm. I seem to have been banned.

    I think it would have been more polite to say so openly, but I know some people don’t believe in debate, and there’s no point in fighting it.

  105. Gunnar

    @Nullius in Verba: The more I read and compare your posts with the responses to them and the links provided that backs up those responses, the more difficult it becomes for me to believe that you are actually a physicist, as you claim, or, at least, an honest or competent one. Do you really not realize that you lose more credibility with every post you make?

  106. BeerMe

    Null in Void, any real physicist knows better than just lay a formula on paper without defining the terms. Very shoddy work, as to be completely meaningless.

  107. Gunnar

    Good point, BeerMe! Yet another very good reason to doubt NiV’s claim to be a physicist, or, at least, that he is an honest or competent one. I honestly think that he is doing even more damage to his own credibility than his opponents are!

  108. Menyambal

    NiV Says:

    Hmm. I seem to have been banned.

    Or maybe a few of your comments got hung up. I’ve learned to compose in a text file and paste into here—the system seems to have a cutoff time for slow commenting.

    I think it would have been more polite to say so openly, …

    Phil is very polite—he’s caught a lot of abuse for politely suggesting that other people be less un-polite. But you are again dishing out an insult garnished with your assumption and wrapped in a tea napkin.

    … but I know some people don’t believe in debate, …

    Erm, Phil allows commenting on his blog, and has been posting things that he knows cause debate, and he hasn’t said to not do debates. He maybe disagrees with you, but he’s been providing you a forum for weeks. You could say thank you.

    … and there’s no point in fighting it.

    It’s not like the future of the human race is at stake or anything.

  109. Gunnar

    I strongly suspect that NiV is beginning to realize how badly he is losing the debate here on this website, and would rather not continue to post where there are so many who are knowledgable enough to detect the fallacies in his claims.

  110. Nice job to one and all for taking the time to debunk the deniers.
    Good reading.

  111. Nigel Depledge

    Nullius in verab (97) said:

    #86,

    “To take a different angle, perhaps you’d care to enlighten me about how maths improves one’s understanding of – for example – cell biology?”

    It allows you to do statistical tests on experimental outcomes.

    And?

    Where’s the other 80% of your answer?

    Seriously, you have claimed that one cannot do science without doing maths. Support your contention or retract it. ‘Cos, AFAICT, there are plenty of scientific disciplines – such as cell biology – in which the maths is a relatively minor “add-on”, and there is no impediment to doing real science without doing any maths beyond basic arithmetic.

  112. Nigel Depledge

    Nullius in verba (97) said:

    “Sure, there are differences over details, but pretty much all climate scientists will agree with these three points.”

    They’ll agree with the first point. They’ll agree that humanity *contributes* on the second. They don’t agree on the third.

    Prove it.

    Who disagrees about points 2 and 3?

    Come on, NiV, I’m getting tired of you spouting all your claims that go against what is established as mainstream science, but refusing to support them.

    Here’s a specific question for you:
    Which climate scientists have criticised the IPCC for overstating the AGW case?

  113. Nigel Depledge

    NiV (97) again:

    “The methodology and data mostly are public. Just get yourself to a good university library, and it’s all there in the primary literature.”

    You’ve never checked that, have you?

    Quick example – the climate database CRU TS2.1 is described in the primary literature as Mitchell and Jones 2005, and is cited in the IPCC WGI reports as such. Find for me a description in that same literature of the methodology, so that I can check the statements in the ‘Harry’ file regarding the missing files, unrecorded manual inputs, made up numbers, or the use of Delaunay interpolation for a supposedly gridded product. Why did Harry struggle to figure out how the code worked, if it’s all public?

    So what?

    You’ve never actually done real science, have you?

    All that journal editors require one to publish is sufficient detail that another researcher can replicate your work. IOW, for methodology to be considered published, it doesn’t have to be a beginners’ guide. In disciplines such as chemistry, one is required to apply one’s own knowledge at the same time, rather than expect other researchers to fill valuable time and space with every last detail. I imagine the same applies in other scientific disciplines. Just because someone with no climatology experience cannot replicate the methods, doesn’t mean those methods aren’t published, in the same way that it applies for chemistry.

  114. Nigel Depledge

    Re: NiV’s nonsense about water in ponds . . .

    Water, whether in a pond or in the ocean, will convect. So even if NiV’s contention that the water at the bottom of a pond will get hotter than the top (and, dur, this assumes that water is perfectly transparent to all solar radiation, which it so obviously ain’t) were correct, then as soon as a temperature gradient occurs, convection will begin and will even out the gradient.

    One of the main reasons this differs from the atmosphere is that air gets warmed not by the sun but by the ground, because the air is transparent to most solar radiation while the ground is opaque to most of it. Combined with the low heat capacity of air, and its poor ability to cool land that is being heated by sunlight, the convection of air leads to fairly prolonged patterns of air movement that we call wind.

    In fact, all of the blather about ponds suggests that NiV doesn’t actually understand the GH effect at all.

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