These Bristlecones Are Talking

By Keith Kloor | November 17, 2011 2:43 pm

And they have a message:

Researchers say they have found new evidence of prolonged drought in parts of the West, suggesting megadroughts are not the rarity Westerners would like them to be.

Of course, there is already ample evidence for Westerners not to think this, but c’mon, who remembers what they had for dinner on Tuesday, much less how much it rained 800 years ago?

Then there’s all this climate changey stuff that people keep bringing into the picture, and it’s just…well…I bet some of my buddies out West can feel the hard reckoning in their desert-bleached bones.

There is an upside, though: Archaeologists in 3100 AD are gonna be feasting on the ruins out there. And a thousand years from today, I bet they’ll also be scratching their heads over the same thing we wonder now about the Anasazi and Hohokam: WTF were these people thinking?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Archaeology, climate change, drought
  • EdG

    This just reinforces the fact that natural climate variation can produce all the extremes that AGW is alleged to, creating further problems for those who would like to pretend that there is anything unprecedented about recent climate history.

    And I fail to see any parallels between the Anasazi and Hohokam and our current scenario other than the phenomenon of some who have now turned climate into a religion and believe in the supposed predictions of the IPCC High Priests – and the corresponding belief in the need for sacrifices to appease the CO2 Gods. Some kind of cultural retreat into model-based superstition.

    On the other hand, hopefully this comment will inpsire some people to look at the lesser known latter culture. So much for the ‘pristine wilderness’ myth of North America that the so called ‘science’ of Conservation Biology uses as its fake baseline for comparisons.

  • Dean

    Message to the people of Phoenix: it snowed at some places up here in the PNW yesterday. You wouldn’t like it here. Try Nebraska. They have more space. Maybe the winters won’t be so cold. Good luck.

    To EdG (#1): There is little doubt to me that natural processes can cause all the same events that we humans can cause, though in some aspects we may be causing them more broadly and faster than has happened very often. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t, and the study that Keith linked to doesn’t really address that.

    I think that the study pdf linked is more relevant to a general sustainability issue than AGW specifically, though AGW adds to the uncertainty. Having millions of people living in the Southwest and be dependent an aquifers and over-stretched rivers is a very risky development pattern. I’m glad my retirement is not tied up in Phoenix real estate – and not just because of the current housing bust.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Seeing this I was all set write ‘cue “See, it’s just natural variation” bleat from pseudoskeptics in 3,2,1… ‘ but popping down to the comments I see the reliable EdG already beat the clock.

    No one — not Hanson, not Gore, not Joe Romm, not anyone in this debate — ever said climate has never warmed (or cooled) a lot before the current warming.  The issue is what’s driving it NOW. And there’s no culprit anywhere near as scientifically plausible as human activity for the warming evidence we see now.


     

  • EdG

    #3 “And there’s no culprit anywhere near as scientifically plausible as human activity for the warming evidence we see now.”

    People keep repeating this as though repitition might make it true.

    Try replacing the word “scientifically” with “historically” – in the geological sense – and try that again.

    For me, it is, and always has been, quite simple. I look at the Vostok or Greenland ice core graph and see a long cyclic series of hockey sticks, both up and down, and recognize that what we have seen recently is just another blip. Or I look at the BEST graph, for what it is worth, and I see the rebound out of the Little Ice Age.

    I am not suggesting that human activity has no impact on the biopsphere, including the climate. That would be absurd. To use the extreme example, there’s that modern parable about the butterfly wingbeats reverberating through the ecosystem. But what I do doubt, profoundly, is the degree to which human activity is influencing the always changing climate and, even moreso, all the hysterical doomsday predictions based on the Chicken Little agenda. And that is only reinforced by the tactics and dishonesty of the AGW Team.

    So. This recent warming is not primarily just the natural rebound out of the Little Ice Age because…  … crickets…

      

  • harrywr2

    #3
    No one “” not Hanson, not Gore, not Joe Romm, not anyone in this debate “” ever said climate has never warmed (or cooled) a lot before the current warming.
    You left out Michael Mann of Hockey Stick fame.
    A Google search on “Warming unprecedented” returns 8 million results.
    I would really like to know how much of the current warming is ‘unprecedented’ to within 1/10th of 1 degree.

  • Dean

    @4

    How many of those 8 million results have to do with overbaked cookies? I think you need to read all 8 million and find out.

    ;)

  • ThePowerofX

    (#4) harrywr2 A Google search on “Warming unprecedented” returns 8 million results.

     I got 12,000 results. Many have the following form:

     “…Earth warming unprecedented in last __ years…”

     “…current warming unprecedented in at least __ years…”

     “…warming unprecedented in almost __ years…”

     Plus a lot of straw in those numbers.

  • EdG

    #2 Dean – Just checking back to see if I’m still in moderation purgatory – and I am – and realized that I had missed your comment.

    Just for the (moderated) record, I essentially agree with you and agree in particular with this:

    “Having millions of people living in the Southwest and be dependent an aquifers and over-stretched rivers is a very risky development pattern.”

    To put it mildly! Just the known natural variation, as illustrated by Keith’s two culture examples, should make this gamble perfectly clear. But short term thinking rules. Not just for humans. Evolution is about adapting to the now, not the future. With luck adaptations for the now become an advantage in the future – which is always different because change, including climate change, is the only constant.

  • Jarmo

    Archaeologists in 3100 AD are gonna be feasting on the ruins out there. And a thousand years from today, I bet they’ll also be scratching their heads over the same thing we wonder now about the Anasazi and Hohokam: WTF were these people thinking?

  • Jarmo

    #9 Somehow the tail of my message got cut off. Here it is:

     Keith, drawing parallels between modern Americans and ancient subsistence farming cultures is an exaggeration. People today have a wide variety of skills, they do not depend on agriculture for their living. Should conditions deteriorate and become unbearable, they will pack up their cars and move to some more hospitable area and find work there.

    I agree on the stupidity of overstretching the scarce water resource, that is very short-sighted when history shows what can happen. However, learning from the past is possible ;) 

  • Howard

    8.68 Million and a mix of Stalinist warmista and Nazi denier links on the front page

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  • Dean

    The paired realities that the United States is a relatively large country with multiple bioregions and that the constitution prevents states from prohibiting immigration from other states, may well be a savior for this country – relatively speaking.

    If current residents of the Southwest have to migrate en masse, these 21st century Okies may not exactly be welcomed elsewhere, but at least they will be able to move to literally greener pastures, some of which may be in my current region in Washington state.

    Smaller countries where people are hemmed in by national borders could be the worst cases.

    As to learning lessons, some folks are so enthralled by all that we are good at and how much has changed, they refuse to accept that there are some things that don’t change. Some thought that the fall of the Soviet Union meant the end of history. Others said that innovations in finance meant we wouldn’t have another major business cycle. So how does this apply to sustainability and technological innovation? Will we really be towing icebergs to the California coast or digging canals from the Great Slave Lake?

  • harrywr2

    #11
    If current residents of the Southwest have to migrate en masse, …..some of which may be in my current region in Washington state.
    The current summer residential water rate for Phoenix is $3.77/100 cubic feet. The current summer rate in Seattle is $4.34/100 cubic feet. The current summer rate in Santa Fe is  $5.81/100 cubic feet.
    Per Capita Water Use is higher in Phoenix then Seattle
    Phoenix – http://phoenix.gov/waterservices/wrc/yourwater/histuse.html
    Seattle – http://www.wateryfoundation.com/?p=1235

  • Dean

    @12

    In the west (and maybe elsewhere?), what people pay to use water has little connection to how much there is of it available. Maybe your point is that it is connected to how much they use. But the problem for Phoenix is that nobody has any idea how much is available – now or in the future. What rate would match Phoenix’s usage to it’s long-term availability?

  • EdG

    Re my #4. Continued… … crickets… … …

    Oh wait. What is this?

    “The IPCC report says:
    “Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain””

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/18/the-gwpf-responds-to-new-ipcc-report/

    Oh, oh. Time to start trying to link the IPCC to Big Oil or the Koch Brothers or whatever the AGW Team’s latest Goldstein is.

  • BBD

    EdG @ 4

    So. This recent warming is not primarily just the natural rebound out of the Little Ice Age because”¦  “¦ crickets”¦

    The LIA ended ca 1850.

    What is causing energy to accumulate in the climate system (warming it) such that surface temperatures are rising at an increasing rate, eg:

    BEST 1900 – 2010.2; annual mean

    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/best/from:1900/to:2010.2/mean:12

    There is no evidence for any energetically sufficient natural cause of modern warming. Hence the generally held view that increasing radiative forcing (RF) from CO2 is mainly responsible.

    This is scientifically weightless conspiracy theorising:

    But what I do doubt, profoundly, is the degree to which human activity is influencing the always changing climate and, even moreso, all the hysterical doomsday predictions based on the Chicken Little agenda. And that is only reinforced by the tactics and dishonesty of the AGW Team.

  • harrywr2

    #14

    In the west (and maybe elsewhere?), what people pay to use water has little connection to how much there is of it available
    Correct, it is the infrastructure cost.
    Table 1 – Recent desalination costs
    http://www.csiro.au/files/files/ppcz.pdf

    It would appear that desalination can be achieved for about $1/cubic meter or $3/100 cubic feet. Less then I pay in ‘water logged’ Seattle.
    The entire population of Arizona is about the same as the population of Riyadh, SA.
    Nobody is going to be moving from Phoenix due to lack of water any more then anymore then the Residents of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be moving. Someone will just build a desalination plant and a pipeline just like the Saudi’s have. It’s 200 miles from the Ocean to Riyadh and about 400 miles form the Ocean to Phoenix.
    Agriculture in the Southwest will suffer.

  • Dean

    @17

    Isn’t $3/cu m = $10/100 cu feett?

    $3 cu/m = $0.10/cu foot ==> $10/100 cu foot.

    Point taken that desalinization could save Phoenix, but the key word is “could.” Anything more than that is faith.

  • EdG

    BBD – OK. First, why did you just include a link to the 1900-2010 BEST graph? Could it be that if you went back to show the whole thing that it would confirm that the beginning of this warming period coincides with the beginning of the ending of the rebound from the Little Ice Age?

    Here’s the whole graph in case you missed it.

     http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/22/a-preliminary-assessment-of-bests-decline/

    In other words, the BEST graph, for what it is worth, only confirms that LIA link. Or are we supposed to believe that AGW effects began from ca 1850 levels of industrial CO2 emissions?

    Second, why are we supposed to think that a rebound from the LIA would be smooth? It is not a rebounding basketball. The Vostok or any ice core data shows many ‘accelerations,’ so again nothing new. Moreover, as I am sure you know, there are plenty of questions about just how valid that alleged acceleration really is (e.g. the correlation between temperature and concrete, UHI).

    You write that “There is no evidence for any energetically sufficient natural cause of modern warming.”

    Really? Rather than go into that point in detail – which again starts with a faith-based belief that the hockey stick is actually a valid representation of global temperatures – I would just point out that there is no valid evidence to dispute the possibility that natural variation could be responsible for “modern warming” and plenty of evidence from the past that it could.

    “Hence the generally held view that increasing radiative forcing (RF) from CO2 is mainly responsible.”

    A “generally held view” – e.g. The Consensus – is irrelevant. What counts is evidence. Ever heard of Piltdown Man? 

    You add that “This is scientifically weightless conspiracy theorising”

    (“…all the hysterical doomsday predictions based on the Chicken Little agenda. And that is only reinforced by the tactics and dishonesty of the AGW Team.”)

    You could rightly say that this comment is “scientifically weightless” because a) it is not a scientific point but rather a political one, and b) that is appropriate because this whole project is political.

    That said, it would take some genuine denial of the recorded history of this ‘debate’ to pretend that this point is not valid. How many AGW doomsday predictions have we heard? How often did we hear that ‘the debate was over’? How many times have those who questioned the IPCC orthodoxy been smeared? And who doesn’t understand that the ‘hockey stick’ is a contrived fake, designed to frighten the public?

    If you like the methods of the AGW Crisis Research-Industrial complex, then you must love the fear-mongering of the Military-Industrial Complex. Mushrooms clouds or drowning polar bears? 

  • EdG

    Oops. Re my #19

    It now reads: “Could it be that if you went back to show the whole thing that it would confirm that the beginning of this warming period coincides with the beginning of the ending of the rebound from the Little Ice Age?”

    It should read: Could it be that if you went back to show the whole thing that it would confirm that the beginning of this warming period coincides with the beginning of the ending of the Little Ice Age?”

    I accidentally added one more rebound to climate history. There are already enough naturally.

  • BBD

    EdG @ 19

    Data prior to 1900 are not considered especially reliable. They are also mainly from stations in Europe and N America, so geographically limited. That is why I started the graph at 1900.

    What ‘rebound’ from the LIA? Please provide links to published studies indicating the existence of this ‘rebound’. I am unaware of any such.

    I would just point out that there is no valid evidence to dispute the possibility that natural variation could be responsible for “modern warming” and plenty of evidence from the past that it could.

    Waffle. Provide evidence that modern warming (post-1950) is driven by natural causes. Provide evidence that the known physical properties of CO2 DO NOT heat the climate system.

    A “generally held view” ““ e.g. The Consensus ““ is irrelevant. What counts is evidence. Ever heard of Piltdown Man?

    More waffle. You do not understand the difference between a scientific consensus and a political one. I suggest that you google it.

    There isn’t a single substantive element in your comment.

  • EdG

    BBD – That’s a very convenient answer on your choice of timeline. keep those blinders on if it helps you.

    You ask “What “rebound’ from the LIA?”

    In your #16 you stated: “The LIA ended ca 1850.” And what has happened since? Perhaps you have a better word than “rebound” but that’s just semantics. How about “recovery”?

    But to increase your awareness:

    “A number of published papers and openly available data on sea level changes, glacier retreat, freezing/break-up dates of rivers, sea ice retreat, tree-ring observations, ice cores and changes of the cosmic-ray intensity, from the year 1000 to the present, are studied to examine how the Earth has recovered from the Little Ice Age (LIA). We learn that the recovery from the LIA has proceeded continuously, roughly in a linear manner, from 1800-1850 to the present. The rate of the recovery in terms of temperature is about 0.5°C/100 years and thus it has important implications for understanding the present global warming. It is suggested on the basis of a much longer period covering that the Earth is still in the process of recovery from the LIA; there is no sign to indicate the end of the recovery before 1900. Cosmic-ray intensity data show that solar activity was related to both the LIA and its recovery. The multi-decadal oscillation of a period of 50 to 60 years was superposed on the linear change; it peaked in 1940 and 2000, causing the halting of warming temporarily after 2000. These changes are natural changes, and in order to determine the contribution of the manmade greenhouse effect, there is an urgent need to identify them correctly and accurately and remove them.”

    http://www.scirp.org/Journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=3217&JournalID=69#abstract

    Moving along: “Provide evidence that modern warming (post-1950) is driven by natural causes.”

    Provide evidence that it is not. 

    “Provide evidence that the known physical properties of CO2 DO NOT heat the climate system.”

    Fish piss in the ocean. Does that increase sea level? No, because things are a little more complicated than that. That same applies to the extrapolation from known CO2 properties to the Big Scary AGW Story. it is all founded on simplistic and dubious assumptions about climate sensitivity to CO2 which, incidentally, apparently won’t be in effect for the next few decades according to the new IPCC report. 

    Next up “You do not understand the difference between a scientific consensus and a political one.”

    That’s particularly false in this context. All humans are politicial animals, including the ones who happen to have had some training in some field of science. You apparently do not understand the bottom line of real evidence-based objective science.

    Let me quote this visionary, whose book ‘State of Fear’ has proved far more accurate than all the Team predictions: 

    “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”
    ““Michael Crichton, The Caltech Michelin Lecture, 17 January 2003
    “There isn’t a single substantive element in your comment.”

    And the “substantive element” in yours is… …? But I do appreciate your opinion and fully support freedom of religion.
     

     

  • BBD

    EdG

    BBD ““ That’s a very convenient answer on your choice of timeline. keep those blinders on if it helps you.

    These are the facts. They are at odds with your bias but they remain the facts.

    I wondered if you might turn up Akasofu. To ‘increase your awareness’, as you put it: Akasofu is an unreliable source on this topic. And there are no other papers that I am aware of claiming a ‘recovery’ from the LIA continuing to the present. That’s just a bit of ‘sceptical’ nonsense.

    Please see here for a detailed critique of Akasofu’s claims:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/lessons-from-past-climate-predictions-akasofu.html

    The journal the Akasofu paper appears in is not part of the mainstream of academic publishing:

    On the organization’s web site, we found barely any identifying or location information. The contact page says “Name: Scientific Research Publishing, Inc. USA” and lists an email address “”  but we have not found any such corporation in the USA, and email sent to that address has produced no reply.  The web site is registered to an organization in Wuhan, China.

    http://www.improbable.com/2009/12/22/strangest-academic-journals/

    You refuse to provide evidence that modern warming (post-1950) is mainly driven by natural causes. This is wise, as there is none.

    You say:

    Fish piss in the ocean. Does that increase sea level? No, because things are a little more complicated than that. That same applies to the extrapolation from known CO2 properties to the Big Scary AGW Story. it is all founded on simplistic and dubious assumptions about climate sensitivity to CO2 which, incidentally, apparently won’t be in effect for the next few decades according to the new IPCC report.

    What simplistic and dubious assumptions are these, I wonder?

    WRT scientific consensus. I did suggest that you google it. I rarely link to wikipedia, but I don’t think it’s too dangerous in this case (others are welcome to chip in here, if I am mistaken):

    Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the scientific method. Nevertheless, consensus may be based on both scientific arguments and the scientific method.[1]

    Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (reproducible results by others) and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the ‘normal’ debates through which science progresses may seem to outsiders as contestation.[2] On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the “inside” to the “outside” of the scientific community. In cases where there is little controversy regarding the subject under study, establishing what the consensus is can be quite straightforward.

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

    As I said, you have no case. Nothing. Just bias backed by profound ignorance of the science.

  • EdG

    BBD – Monty Python’s ‘Dead Parrot’ skit comes to mind.

    I look at the Vostok ice core data, or any legitimate description of climate history, and see an endless rollercoaster of natural variation.
    Or I read about archaeology and history and see the impacts of climate variability on human cultures. Or about ecological history and see the same thing.

    Others, like yourself, look at one tiny segment of time and see a trend approximately correlated to fossil fuel CO2 emissions and project that short term trend into the long term future. 

    You want some peer or pal reviewed paper that ‘proves’ there was a recovery from the Little Ice Age and I look at the full BEST graph, for what that is worth, and see that as clear as a bell – just as I have always seen it in any comparison between historic photographs and the glaciers I know in the Rockies. 

    Thus, due to our differing experiences and backgrounds, we will no doubt never agree on this. 

    Two questions. 

    How did the relatively low levels of fossil fuel CO2 emission around 1900 (to use your convenient starting date) initiate this enormous global change? What was the “tipping point”? How sensitive to that CO2 must the global climate be in that case? Why, despite vastly increased emissions, has the climate become so ‘insensitive’ in the last decade of vastly increased emissions? 

    Surely it can’t be nullified by natural causes/variation. Or does natural variation only dominate when it is cooling while CO2 does all the warming? Hmmm.

    And since your rationale for selecting the data starting in 1900 is that it is so unreliable, and since you seem to base your whole ’20th century warming’ argument on that, how do you actually know that the 20th century was warmer? I am not suggesting that it wasn’t of course – because I see the LIA recovery – but that does reveal a rather basic problem for you, doesn’t it?

    The BEST team (et al) did create a graph that did go back to 1800. Are you suggesting that they shouldn’t have? If the AGW Team agreed with you about pre-1900 data, when they are talking about fractions of degrees of warming ‘since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,’ that would not be convenient at all, would it? Out with the whole long term hockey stick too?

    And there’s the irony. I do emphatically agree with you about the unreliability of pre-1900 data, primarily because I recognize the difference between different individuals reading variously located thermometers and modern technology, and I know in detail how some of it was collected. Not rigorously to put it mildly. But for me that is only one source of evidence so it is almost beside the point. 

    P.S. skepticalscience? Pleeease. 

  • EdG

    BBD – Oops. Correction re #24:

    “And since your rationale for selecting the data starting in 1900 is that it is so unreliable…” should read

    And since your rationale for selecting the data starting in 1900 is that the earlier data is so unreliable… 

  • BBD

    EdG

    You are a time-waster.

    As I said, you have no case. Nothing. Just bias backed by profound ignorance of the science.

  • BBD

    EdG

    Against my better judgement, but because I was abrupt @ 26…

    You say:

    You want some peer or pal reviewed paper that “˜proves’ there was a recovery from the Little Ice Age and I look at the full BEST graph, for what that is worth, and see that as clear as a bell ““ just as I have always seen it in any comparison between historic photographs and the glaciers I know in the Rockies.

    And:

    BBD ““ That’s a very convenient answer on your choice of timeline. keep those blinders on if it helps you.

    You imply that I started the BEST graph at 1900 in order to mislead rather than because this avoids unreliable data. You are mistaken.

    Look at the full series 1802.5 – 2010.2. Note the trend (0.06C/decade). Note the significantly steeper trend from 1960 (0.23C/decade). This is clearly not some gradual ‘recovery’ from the LIA. It is an acceleration in recent decades. A large amount of energy is accumulating in the climate system. We know how and why.

    You say:

    I look at the Vostok ice core data, or any legitimate description of climate history, and see an endless rollercoaster of natural variation.
    Or I read about archaeology and history and see the impacts of climate variability on human cultures. Or about ecological history and see the same thing.

    Yes, and then you are shown a clear correlation between observations and the expected heating of the climate system by RF from CO2 and you go into denial.

    You say:

    And since your rationale for selecting the data starting in 1900 is that it is so unreliable, and since you seem to base your whole ’20th century warming’ argument on that, how do you actually know that the 20th century was warmer? I am not suggesting that it wasn’t of course ““ because I see the LIA recovery ““ but that does reveal a rather basic problem for you, doesn’t it?

    No. The climate reconstructions dating from 1900 are sufficient.

    The BEST team (et al) did create a graph that did go back to 1800. Are you suggesting that they shouldn’t have?

    No, of course not. You are being silly. 

    You say:

    How did the relatively low levels of fossil fuel CO2 emission around 1900 (to use your convenient starting date) initiate this enormous global change? What was the “tipping point”? How sensitive to that CO2 must the global climate be in that case? Why, despite vastly increased emissions, has the climate become so “˜insensitive’ in the last decade of vastly increased emissions?

    This is a Gish gallop. Allow me to interject:

    – ‘convenient starting date’ again you imply dishonesty on my part. Rejected. And stop it.

    – the effects of CO2 forcing become evident from ca 1975 onwards, exactly as mainstream climatology suggests

    – there is no ‘tipping point’ involved. CO2 is slowly emerging as the dominant forcing.

    – climate sensitivity to CO2 is ~3C for a doubling from pre-industrial levels (~275ppmv to ~550ppmv)

    – current flat T appears to be a response to increased volcanic sulphate aerosols (Vernier et al. 2011), low solar activity and a preponderance of La Nina conditions. Collectively, just sufficient to hold GAT roughly constant. For now. This in no way ‘disproves’ AGW.

    Consider all the little cooling trends in BEST since 1970:

    Incautious ‘sceptics’ could have called time on AGW in

    1980

    1988

    1995

    2001

    2005

    And they would have been wrong on each of those occasions too. As you are now.

    =================================================

    Vernier et al. (2011)

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L12807, 8 PP., 2011 doi:10.1029/2011GL047563
    Major influence of tropical volcanic eruptions on the stratospheric aerosol layer during the last decade
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL047563.shtml

  • Eric Adler

    EdG @ 24,
    BBD 227 made an excellent point to which I would like to add the following point.
    The words “recovery from the little ice age” have no scientific meaning. The phrase  doesn’t account for anything resembling a cause. There are a number of factors which could cause global average temperature to change, and different factors can operate at different times. even if the direction of change is constant. 
    Climate models are used by scientists to figure out what the sources  are. The answer appears to be that warming in the first half of the 20th  century was due to an increase in the average solar irradience. This increase stopped in 1950, and human aerosals were produced a cooling effect. The main source of the heating in the last 30 years of the 20th century is GHG’s.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm
     

  • EdG

    BBD – Thanks for your #27 reply. Your #26 simply confirmed the ‘Dead Parrot’ aspect of our conversation. I could state exactly the same thing about your comments but I won’t. 

    You say: “You imply that I started the BEST graph at 1900 in order to mislead rather than because this avoids unreliable data. You are mistaken.”

    Whatever the motives the end result, in the context of this LIA-based conversation, is the same. And in that context your statement that “climate reconstructions dating from 1900 are sufficient” is plainly false.

    You state that “This is clearly not some gradual “˜recovery’ from the LIA. It is an acceleration in recent decades. A large amount of energy is accumulating in the climate system.”

    As Ronald Reagan once famously said, ‘There you go again.’ You seem to think that natural recoveries from ice ages are necessarily or even normally “gradual.” That seems to be the basis of your entire argument. Why do you believe or assume that? Do you have some evidence for that? I don’t think so. Just the opposite.

    About my supposed “Gish gallop” (nice phrase!).

    I have already noted why the 1900 date is a problem in the context of this discussion. But you chose to use it. OK. And you suggest that this is evidence of the CO2 driven ’20th century warming.’ OK. And the BEST graph shows warming post-1900. OK. But you cannot explain how the CO2 levels of ca. 1900 could have initiated the warming trend which you claim it has.

    Instead yopu suggest that “the effects of CO2 forcing become evident from ca 1975 onwards.”

    Well, what drove the warming – when it was warming – from 1900 to 1975? 

    Should we just use the 1975-2000 data now?

    You suggest that “there is no “˜tipping point’ involved. CO2 is slowly emerging as the dominant forcing.”

    That dodges the 1900 question.

    “climate sensitivity to CO2 is ~3C for a doubling from pre-industrial levels (~275ppmv to ~550ppmv)”

    As you must know, this question is the contentious core question of the whole CO2 story. Your implied certainty here about this IPCC estimate is both revealing and very premature.

    “There is word circulating that a paper soon to appear in Science magazine concludes that the climate sensitivity””how much the earth’s average temperature will rise as a result of a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide””likely (that is, with a 66% probability) lies in the range 1.7°C to 2.6°C, with a median value of 2.3°C. This is a sizeable contraction and reduction from the estimates of the climate sensitivity given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), in which the likely range is given as 2.0°C to 4.5°C, with a best estimate of 3.0°C.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/09/climate-sensitivity-lowering-the-ipcc-fat-tail/

    (Feel free to smear the messenger, at least until this paper comes out.)

    You explain that “current flat T appears to be a response to increased volcanic sulphate aerosols (Vernier et al. 2011), low solar activity and a preponderance of La Nina conditions.”

    So some of the drivers of natural variation have been identified as the ’cause’ of this leveling off – despite the massive and truly unprecedented volumes of CO2 which have been injected into the atmosphere during this period.

    What does that suggest to an objective mind? Does this ‘disprove’ the basic elements of AGW story? Does this mean that the properties of CO2 are not what real science has shown? No. But it does apply directly to the REAL question, which is how much does CO2 concentrations matter versus the forces of natural variation.

    To summarize, it appears that you are arguing that CO2 concentrations are the dominant driver when it is warming (except before 1975 apparently) while natural variation forces dominate when it is cooling. You must admit, that is rather convenient thinking.

    Finally, your comment that ‘incautious skeptics’ would make a big deal over every tiny dip in the graph definitely takes me out of that category. For me that is as absurd as incautious believers suggesting that every uptick in temperature – or worse, some extreme weather event – is a sign of the AGW apocalypse.

    I would ask you to consider the Vostok graph to put our recent climate history into perspective. Change is the only constant, and I see nothing unprecented or remarkable about the last century.

    P.S. I should clarify my personal bias. I was HOPING for some more warming. Could use some where we live and that ca 1998 warm peak sure was a blessing to our bird, wildlife, and garden vegetable populations. Much better than the ca 1970 cold point in every respect. So the prospects of what some suggest could be a long cooling period are very depressing. I hope they are wrong. In other words, I wish CO2 had the suggested effects. 

  • EdG

    #28 – Eric

    The ‘recovery from the LIA’ is an observation. Period. As to the cause(s), the key point is that this is not the first ‘recovery’ from a minor or major glacial period and there is, as I am sure you know, still much debate about what causes them (or the opposite trends).

    As to what climate models can or do tell us, let me restate the obvious. The study of global climate is a baby science with more known unknowns and unknown unknowns, and climate models are nothing but informed speculation at best. Garbage in, garbage out at worst. Moreover, which AGW based climate model has proven to accurately reflect reality lately or at all?

    All we do know for certain is that a graph of the known history of our climate is a rollercoaster. No end of hockey sticks in both directions. Thus, making long term projections from short term trends is like expecting the roller coaster to hit the moon or go to ‘hell,’ depending on what moment in time you happen to choose.

  • BBD

    My commentary on this thread has been a complete waste of time. Like talking to a marmoset.

    I genuinely do not know why I bother. My wife was asking (again) earlier, and I couldn’t answer her.

    Keith has it right: dead-enders.

  • EdG

    #31 – BBD. Sorry you can’t answer any of the obvious common sense questions I posed. I guess you could call that a dead end.

  • Eric Adler

    EdG,
    “To summarize, it appears that you are arguing that CO2 concentrations are the dominant driver when it is warming (except before 1975 apparently) while natural variation forces dominate when it is cooling. You must admit, that is rather convenient thinking.”
    Despite our best efforts you are misinformed.  Increases in aeorsols are responsible for a lot of the cooling experienced in the second half of the 20th century. A lot of the aerosols are man made due to sulfates emitted from burning coal. There were a number of papers published on that in the early ’70’s. Sulfate aerosols were subsequently reduced, allowing the warming trend due to GHG’s to emerge. Aerosols due to industrial growth in China are believed to be partly responsible for the current reduction in the rate of warming.
    Of course El Nino La Nina oscillations and volcanoes are natural sources of climate variations that can dominate in the short term.
    I don’t understand the use of the term “convenient thinking”, as if these ideas were put forward as mere post hoc hypotheses. There are solid scientific observations behind them.
    I suggest that you explain the blessings of global warming to the good people of Texas, especially the ranchers who are going out of business, and the cities that are short of water.
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/20/371975/water-coal-texas-fracking-sanity-one-of-these-words-does-not-belong/

  • EdG

    #33 Eric, while I do appreciate your efforts to inform me on this, your links to skepticalscience and thinkprogress tell me all that I really need to know.

    Texas. Is that the first drought in the state’s history? Have the cities there, and the demand for water, grown at all?

    In any case, climate change, like any change, has varying effects on various places, which can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on one’s perspective.  Yet it seems nobody wants to mention the obvious positive effects. Odd.

    Perhaps we need to redistribute the heat and moisture based on the Goldilocks formula. Not too cold/moist, not too warm/dry, but just right, all the time. Just like room temperature in a building, where most people spend most of their time and which seems to have become the baseline experience by which some ‘judge’ extreme weather.

  • hunter

    When I was a kid scientists talked openly about investigating pack rat dens (sometimes called middens). Pack rats pack away what is available year-to-year. That means in drought years they pack stuff that is available in droughts.
    The notable point I recall is that there was evidence of 30+ year droughts in the western US.
    This puts the Hansen claims about this year’s droughts into a most unfavorable light.

     

  • Eric Adler

    EdG,
    Skeptical Science and Joe Romm do not make stuff up. Unlike Wattsupwiththat, they rely on knowledgeable and reputable sources.
    Perhaps you should look at the charts posted by the Texas State Climatologist,  which show that the year’s drought in Texas is quite special.
    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/texas-drought-spot-the-outlier/
     

  • Eric Adler

    EdG @29,
    I looked at the link to Pat Michaels article touting the new paper showing a reduced climate sensitivity. He quoted passages from a blogpost by James Annan, who has also writtten papers on climate sensitivity, which reflected favorably on this paper. Curious readers, who actually read Annan’s blog on this subject can find the following passage:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2011/11/schmittner-on-sensitivity.html
    “A weakness of the paper, however, is that the authors may not have adequately considered nonlinearity in the equilibrium response of the climate system to different combinations of negative and positive forcings. …. What this means is, that even though they may be able to accurately estimate the “sensitivity” at the LGM, in terms of the ratio of temperature response to net radiative forcing, we cannot be sure how this will translate into “sensitivity” for 2xCO2…”
    In their poster presentation of this data, the authors admit the following weakness in their data:
    http://www.wcrp-climate.org/conference2011/posters/C18/C18_Schmittner_T145B.pdf
    “Tension between land and ocean data and multimodel
    differences in LGM climate efficacy remain concerns”
    Unitl  the paper gets published and reacted to by the scientific community, it is wise to reserve judgement on its significance.


     

  • BBD

    Eric Adler

    Thanks for the link to Annan’s post on the Schmittner paper. And agreed, ever since I came across Michaels’ touting of this unpublished study, my instinct has been caution. Let’s see what is published, and how it withstands scrutiny.

    It’s also well worth reminding the ‘sceptics’ that a ECS of 2.3C is not exactly a get out of jail free card.

    I have been thinking about some formal awards for certain types of blinkered, dogmatic and recursive thought processes:

    I propose the George A. Romero Medal, and for those whose efforts merit even higher recognition, the Order of the Unsinkable Rubber Duck.

    What do you think?

  • EdG

    #38 BBD

    Yes, let us see what becomes of that paper, and the next one, and the next one. People look so foolish when making authoritative sounding statements about things which nobody actually knows.

    That medal tangent has plenty of comedic potential. Is there a medal for those who rush to ‘conclusions’ simply based on groupthink and herd behavior?

    A Lemming Award doesn’t quite fit. A Buffalo Jump Prize would be more accurate, as this herd is being directed by clever and well organized predators.

     

  • BBD

    EdG

    A Lemming Award doesn’t quite fit. A Buffalo Jump Prize would be more accurate, as this herd is being directed by clever and well organized predators.

    And what of your herd? Directed by… Anthony Watts.

    #31 – BBD. Sorry you can’t answer any of the obvious common sense questions I posed. I guess you could call that a dead end.

    I am at a loss for words. As per last night. You ignore all the points made at 23 and 27, and then have the mind-bending gall to come out with this. That is pathological.

    I have deeply insulted marmosets everywhere. Mea maxima culpa.

  • EdG

    #40 BBD

    The more I think about it, the more the Buffalo Jump fits.

    But really BBD. Watts? You equate a massive state funded bureaucracy centered at the UN (and Wall Street) armed with virtually all of the MSM’s propaganda machine with a blogger?

    David and Goliath comes to mind.

    But I must say BBD, just because you cannot deal with simple and basic questions in your own words – versus links to such impeccably objective sources as skepticalscience – is no reason to descend into childish personal name calling. That reflects poorly on you.

  • BBD

    Not nearly so poorly as refusing to read those links reflects on you, EdG.

  • EdG

    BBD – I have looked at skepticalscience and I do not consider it anything more than a spin machine. The only cartoonist I find now contributing something worthwhile to the AGW discussion is Josh. Humor is always a good addition to such intense debates.

    Oh well. Best if I go over to WUWT and find out what I am supposed to say next.

  • BBD

    EdG

    BBD ““ I have looked at skepticalscience and I do not consider it anything more than a spin machine.

    Ah, behold the ‘sceptics’. Bottomlessly ignorant yet absolutely convinced of their own rightness.

    It is a combination which merits – no, demands – mockery.

    Explanations are pointless as they will be dismissed, unread, as you have done here. Any attempt to engage will be abused, as you have done here.

    Instead of dialogue there is a great, flatulent, contrarian droning that smothers reason and stifles debate.

    I have wasted a fantastic amount of time over the last six months attempting to engage with ‘sceptics’. I now know that the only proper course is to treat them with the intellectual and social contempt that they deserve.

    If you don’t like it, you need to change. Respect is earned.

  • EdG

    #44 – If you read all my comments here you will find that I have never once said that I am right about anything. I did state my personal conclusions, and explained why I had reached them, but never insisted that they were correct nor got ‘righteous’ and insisted that you were wrong. Just the opposite. My #24 serves as a prime example and includes this statement:

    “Thus, due to our differing experiences and backgrounds, we will no doubt never agree on this.”

    Indeed, based on your comments and reaction here, it is clear who is “absolutely convinced of their own rightness.”

    Note that I did not, as you did, stoop to suggesting that your different view meant that you were “Bottomlessly ignorant.” That would have been false and, well, bottomlessly ignorant. 

    I will not waste my time on skepticalscience again because, after looking at their version of many topics, I did not find the material on that site to be remotely objective nor credible – as one would expect from a Romm disciple. I sometimes do read ‘Team’ sites just to see how they are spinning things but that one made me dizzy.

    In other words, I do not consider a link to that site to be a link to objective or even honest information. So why would I bother to go read more of that spun material?

    As to my need to earn your respect, given what you have said and how you have responded here I don’t exactly see that as a pressing or even desirable priority. So you are welcome to be as contemptuous and mocking as you like. Although I do that myself towards the public figures, institutions, and ideas of the AGW Crisis Industry, I try not to do that on a personal level (though I slip sometimes). It just seems pointless and childish to do that, doesn’t  help in any way, and reflects poorly on the mocker. 

    Sorry to have wasted your precious time. Please do not respond to one of my posts again. Thanks.

  • BBD

    EdG

    I will make a point of responding to your rubbish as and when the mood takes me.

    I will laugh, mock and jeer because you richly deserve it for the reasons set out at #44.

    I sincerely hope this makes you uncomfortable. Your bastardisation of the science, your disregard for the facts, your bombastic trumpeting of your own ignorance and your refusal to correct same are fat, fair targets.

    In short, you – and all vocal ‘sceptics’ are an arse begging to be kicked.

    I urge all other commenters who have had enough of ‘sceptics’ to adopt similarly robust tactics in dealing with them.

    Who knows, perhaps open ridicule can succeed where reason cannot.

    There is certainly nothing to lose.

  • EdG

    #46 – BBD

    Nothing written on a blog makes me uncomfortable. It is all stimulating brain candy for me at its best, or pure entertainment at least.

    But really. Just read your post again. Does acting so childish and petulant on a blog make you feel uncomfortable?

    The oddest part is, while you claim to be attempting to make scientific arguments yet when faced with questions or a different opinion you react like an angry religious fundamentalist exhibiting the ultimate in anti-scientific thinking. 

    Again. Just read your last post.

    I know lots of people who are true AGW believers and, except for a few of the most ultra-zealous, our differences on that point have never led to the kind of ‘us-them’ thinking or hostility which you seem to be trapped in, and advocate here. I would suggest that your last post is a truly classic example of all that is wrong with this discussion.

    So please calm down BBD. All that negative energy is bad for your health. 

  • Aptitude Design

    what bristle-cones, where?

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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