Fora.tv Interview on ClimateGate, Geoengineering, and Copenhagen

By Chris Mooney | December 30, 2009 8:42 am

While in Copenhagen, I spoke with the folks from Fora.tv for a ten minute interview covering a wide range of topics. These included the dysfunctional way in which our culture processes information about science in general, and about climate science in particular; the continuing stream of misinformation about global warming (particularly the bogus claims that we haven’t had any warming in a decade); the increasing allure of the geoengineering option as progress on emission cuts continues to stall; the reasons for heeding climate models, despite their flaws; and the dangerous possibility that the warming we ultimately see could be on the high end of the current projections.

You can watch it all here, and I have also embedded it below:

Comments (73)

  1. gallopingcamel

    Mooney needs to broaden his education. All he can see is atmospheric carbon dioxide driving global warming. The models he talks about also overstate the role of CO2 which may explain why aggregating them does not help (GIGO = Garbage In, Garbage Out).

    He talks about CO2 triggering runaway warming. I guess he forgot that CO2 levels were five times higher in the Eocene. While it was warmer back then there was no thermal runaway. Plants and animals prospered from pole to pole because there were no ice caps. Mammals became dominant leading eventually to the Ascent of Man.

    How can anyone want a cooler planet when we have detailed historical records of the Little Ice Age? The LIA was disastrous for the human race and many other species.

  2. We don’t want a warmer planet because all of our civilization is based on ocean currents and sea level being at its current level.

    It’s not the amount of CO2 that matters as much as the time scale of how quickly we’re dumping it into the atmosphere — too fast for the Earth’s sinks to store it up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqEYLvPt0lA
    is only one part of 7 hours of YouTube videos explaining the situation in lay terms.

    We need to act now, and by acting, we’ll set up new energy sources that will springboard our economy in positive directions.

  3. Sean McCorkle

    @1
    “He talks about CO2 triggering runaway warming. I guess he forgot that CO2 levels were five times higher in the Eocene. While it was warmer back then there was no thermal runaway. Plants and animals prospered from pole to pole because there were no ice caps”

    Um, just don’t buy land IN FLORIDA!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paleogene-EoceneGlobal.jpg

  4. Sean McCorkle

    BTW – good interview, Chris.

  5. Dr. Professor Reverend

    Stop waving your ‘we we’ around, please.
    No, ‘we’ don’t need to ‘act’ now or any other time – you are not a celebrity.
    You are not a demagogue.
    You are not a leader of men.
    You are a clotted putrescence known as a ‘pundit’, which means you have no skill or talent at anything substantial and indulge your vanity alone with fantasies of popular acclaim for virtues you do not possess. You are a fraud.
    Kindly stuff the prolapsed thing you wish were a brain and cease the Air-Guitar and the Air-Journalism.
    Your testimony will be used against you. You only have one Mom, and if she were smart, she’d have smacked you with a shovel. Nobody else loves you even that much and everybody is smarter.
    So snap your little telson and flip your elite-acting papal self right out the door.
    Discover Magazine has really reached to depth, lately. Stifling science for the sake of stupidity, conscienciousness for cupidity and actual journalistic credentials for a PhD in Obamic Fellatio.
    You can’t break the truth – you can only reverse peristalsis- which you do.

  6. Jackie

    I don’t know how you put up with the crazies. And I thought grad school gave me a thick skin.

  7. Dr. Professor Reverend

    LoL -
    ‘I did not have sex with that woman’
    ‘But I didn’t inhale’
    ‘Well, that depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

    Climate is not ‘weather’.

    Hee hee. Don’t run- we are your friends!

  8. Dr. Professor Reverend

    Moonie. You lie and you do it poorly.
    I liked your kind better when you hung around airports with tamborines – you were easier to avoid.
    Global Stupiding is largely driven by your personal breath. Let’s cap that.
    Science is not consensus, boy. Science is what you flunked out of and should be barred from defiling. You haven’t got the first thing about physics right yet.
    Seriously- if you want to excell in this area, study the clips of Baghdad Bob.
    Your strident nails-on-blackboard wailing like a siren in your sandwich board of DoOm is an old and poor act. You’re just a kid trying to pull off an old con and you haven’t practiced enough to pull off the sleight of mind with any panache.

  9. SLC

    Re dougetit

    Howard Richman is an economist who has a web site that provides information on stocks. He is also a typical right wing ideologue who thinks that tax cuts and deregulation are the answer to the current economic problems, ignoring the fact that it was Bushie the tushies’ tax cuts for the rich and deregulation that got us into this economic mess in the first place. He has no more expertise on climate science then do the anti-science clowns at the Dishonesty Institute,

  10. Albert Kong

    The complex non-linear dynamic system that it is, long term climate prediction is simply impossible. If there is a problem, which we can’t say, our only hope is climate control.

    Climate has many variables (solar activity, volcanic activity, orbital variations of the planet, CO2 atmospheric concentrations etc.). Of these sets of variables the only one we can possibly control is CO2 concentrations. For this there is no consensus on the sensitivity of climate to this variable. Even if it were significantly sensitive, it is the only one we can control.

    To put this in simpler terms it would be like trying to drive a car (which has many control variables) when all that you can control is the accelerator (no brakes, no steering wheel). Control also requires accurate short term predictive models (turn the wheel right the car goes right).

    That we don’t have that is dramatically demonstrated by the deception attempt by climate scientists — the car went right when it should have gone left — and they tried to pretend it was going right even to the point of trying to silence occupants seeing it going left. So they are not really in the drivers seat. The question is: should they collect a fare from each passenger, grossly enriching themselves nevertheless?

  11. SLC

    Re Dr. Professor Reverend

    How about Mr. Reverend saying something substantive, instead of name calling and invective. His is about the level of discourse that can be expected from all too many global warming denialists namely lower then a whales’ belly.

    Re Albert Kong

    As usual, with all too many of the denialists like Mr. Kong, the accusation is not only are the overwhelming majority of the climate scientists wrong, they are a bunch of liars. An example of McCarthyism at its worst.

    The difficulty with Mr. Kongs’ analysis is that, over the last 20 years, climate models have become more sophisticated and the integration intervals have become shorter because of the tremendous increase in computing power over that time span. Oddly enough, todays’ models say the same thing that the the much cruder models of 20 years ago said, namely that increasing CO(2) levels inthe atmosphere will lead to increased temperatures. Fancy that.

  12. PaulG

    History is filled with consensus that is wrong (Flat earth comes to mind). Science is about truth and factual information and has nothing to do with consensus. If you read the emails, there is not even consensus among the CRU participants. CRU’s own Dr. Briffa produces a tree ring study in 1999 that Michael Mann (producer of the infamous Hockey Stick) threatens to keep out of the IPCC report because it doesn’t show late 20th century temp rise. Briffa admits in his emails that temps 1000 years ago were as warm as today (killing the AGW storyline). But in order to please the consensus crowd, Briffa finds cherry-picked trees in Siberia (Yamal Valley) that miraculously produces a late 20th century hockey stick blade in his proxy study. Now thats the way to produce consensus.

    As for those sophisticated models, a CRU researcher admits it’s a “travesty” that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.” As it happens, the writer of that October 2009 e-mail—Kevin Trenberth is a lead author of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

    Now who are the “Deniers”?

  13. Lawrence Baker

    The World is held hostage to a 20th Century fossil fuel product line. The use of fossil fuels is here until the Earth gives up. The advancement in SCIENCE with new inventions (new economy) is unfunded and will not happen this Century.
    Greed is a disease. Good enough is never good enough and the hunger for profit and power is never satisfied- the soul is never grateful.
    I am sure the poor, resource rich, countries and Europe are taking a second look at U.S and Communist China industrial relations and reexamining their own alliances. American Multinational corporations have no loyalty to any one country.
    At least at Copenhagen 15 no one was seriously injured. The next convention will be held in the “narcotic” designated country of Mexico where mercenary drug lords and Federallies will be available for hire (contractors) to crush the “Friends of the Earth” demonstrators; that outcome could be quite different.
    I know many of the Republican, multinational corporate backed right wing hate propagandist that openly broadcast here are banned from broadcasting in Europe. Limbaugh, Savage, Beck, Hannity, Faux News and the other paid propagandist are working the multinational corporate backed subversive right wing organizations “U.S Citizens Association” and “Freedom First” (sic) in the same style Hitler used to whip up the “Brown Shirts” in Germany. (Planned August- D.C assault) It always amazes me how people can be manipulated to act, not in their own self interest, but in the interest of the propagandist that control them. (19 year assault)
    ”Free Trade” (sic) agreements have nullified our American national Sovereignty and Constitution and we are heading for World Corporate Totalitarianism. American Freedom and Democracy- Free Enterprise and a Competitive Market (capitalism) – Free Press-are gone. The multinational corporation’s corruption of our government is near complete, now they want the World.
    The real question is: Can the Chinese Communist Party be corrupted by the multinational corporations or will the Party eventually arrest them for corruption and chop their heads off? – (Chinese penalty for corruption- like the death penalty for Treason in the United States.) That is an interesting marriage of strange bedfellows. The Chinese certainly are not blind sided; they built the Great Wall to keep the barbarians out and the structure of Communism well defines who the Devil is. As far as I know, General Motors has the only corporate delegate in the Communist Party and that delegate has only an alternate position.

  14. Carol

    Since when has a whole lot of people agreeing about something been the definition of truth…? But actually, there is a word for that sort of argument. It is called a logical fallacy.

    Yes, it IS entirely possible for a whole lot of Climate Scientists to be wrong. In fact, when we observe their egregiously unscientific responses to challenge or criticism, it seems in fact very PROBABLE that a whole lot of climate scientists were wrong!

    SLC had best look hard in the mirror. There has indeed been McCarthyism at work — and it has come down from the Church of Climate Scientology.

  15. Dougetit

    SLC @ 10

    Ok.. SLC Disclaimer; for everyone here.. Anything I post here is paid for by hard core right wing capitalistic ideologue as well as by big oil, big coal, big gas with an agenda to kill polar bears and baby penquins. So don’t believe anything they say. Just understand the physics.
    Just understand the physics. Just understand the physics.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists

    Ignore the article… Click on play.

  16. Carol

    I remember when the scientific consensus was that peptic ulcers were caused by stress and spicy foods. However, a couple of Australian physicians, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who were doing studies on H Pylori disagreed.

    The medical world considered them a bunch of quacks. They persisted in advancing their quackish claims but it still took 10 years longer than Marshall anticipated for the scientific community to take them seriously. Now they have a Nobel Prize.

    God save us from consensus and from all those who are too timid to think outside the box.

  17. SLC

    Re Dougetit

    I am totally unimpressed with the revelation that there are physicists who dispute AGW. I can produce a list of physicists far longer who dispute the big bang theory of cosmology (the last time I looked, it was up to 135). Just for the information of Ms. Dougetit, I have a PhD in elementary particle physics from a reputable university. That no more qualifies me to pontificate on global warming then it does any of the physicists who appear in the Youtube videos. If these folks have something to say, the place to say it is in the peer reviewed literature, not in Youtube videos. Until such time, they can be safely ignored.

  18. Carol

    Pretty slick move to control all the peer reviewed literature then, wouldn’t you say…?

    Truth is something that is independent of what is currently “prevailing wisdom” in the boys club. I understand how vexing it is for the Ivory Towers of Academia to be usurped by the Internet — and for knowledge to be freely available to the unwashed masses, but rational people need to be less concerned with “where” something is first published and instead devote more interest to the contents.

  19. SLC

    Re Dougetit

    I am totally unimpressed with the revelation that there are physicists who dispute AGW. I can produce a list of physicists far longer who dispute the big bang theory of cosmology (the last time I looked, it was up to 135). Just for the information of Ms. Dougetit, I have a PhD in elementary particle physics from a reputable university. That no more qualifies me to pontificate on global warming then it does any of the physicists who appear in the Youtube videos. If these folks have something to say, the place to say it is in the peer reviewed literature, not in Youtube videos. Until such time, they can be safely ignored.

    Re PaulG

    Here are some example of other scientific consensuses that have been overthrown.

    1. The theory of continental drift was first proposed by Alfred Wegener. At first, the theory was not accepted because his evidence was scanty. However, as the evidence piled up and the discovery of the tectonic plates was made, the scientific consensus came around to the idea.

    2. A man by the name of Raymond Dart discovered the Taung boy fossil in Southern Africa. At first the scientific consensus thought that it was not a hominid. However, once again, as further discoveries were made, the scientific consensus changed in light of the new evidence and his discovery now goes under the name Australopithecus Africanus.

    That’s how science works. However, as Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Thus the scientific consensus currently is that AGW is underway and has been for some time. it will require extraordinary evidence to overthrow that consensus, just like any other consensus. If the evidence is forthcoming, the consensus will change, just like it changed in the other examples I cited. This I can say, it will not be overthrown by Youtube videos.

  20. moptop

    “the reasons for heeding climate models, despite their flaws; and the dangerous possibility that the warming we ultimately see could be on the high end of the current projections.”

    OK, looka like Chris has started investigating some of our questions about the models and now realizes that they are basically garbage.

    What we should do is look at observations and calculate sensitivity from those. Something that has been done many times in the past and which shows a sensitivity of around 1 to 2 C. Now that we know that the CRU Data is crap, we will have to wait three years for the Met to complete their reanalysis of it, and it may well be that the trend is even less.

    If you haven’t read the emails youself, kind of like Chris Mooney, I guess, then don’t bother telling me that they don’t mean anything.

  21. moptop

    “Thus the scientific consensus currently is that AGW is underway and has been for some time. it will require extraordinary evidence to overthrow that consensus”

    If you read the emails, you can clearly see how the consensus was manufactured.

  22. SLC

    Re moptop

    OK, looka like Chris has started investigating some of our questions about the models and now realizes that they are basically garbage.

    No, it’s Mr. moptop who is garbage.

    If you read the emails, you can clearly see how the consensus was manufactured.

    Mr. moptop is full of prunes. The emails prove nothing of the sort. They only prove that the climate scientists were getting damn tired of being harassed by clowns like Mr. moptop who , just as I would get damn tired of being harassed by clowns claiming that quantum mechanics was garbage, and just like evolutionary biologists get damn tired of being harassed by idiot creationists claiming that the earth is 6000 years old.

  23. Sean McCorkle

    @16
    “http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists
    Ignore the article… Click on play.”

    at 14:26, explaining the rise of the red temperature curve, the speaker says
    “… Of course there’s a divergence here in the 20th century. Part of this is carbon dioxide – perhaps all of it is carbon dioxide, but the authors say up to 50% could be – could be solar contribution.”

  24. Sean McCorkle

    sorry – should have added that it sounds like the speaker is not challenging recent CO2-induced warming – just arguing that there could be other influences as well.

  25. gallopingcamel

    Cooperman & McCorkle
    Sea levels were roughly 800 feet lower at the end of the last Ice Age. Since then they have been rising at an average of 3 to 4 feet per century. Recently the rate has dropped to only one foot in the last 150 years. Now that we have precision satellites, sea levels can be tracked to millimeter accuracy; the current rate is about 8 inches per century.

    At this rate my garden in Florida will be overwhelmed in 1,500 years. If the trend continues for another 5,000 years, Florida will be about one third the size it is today. Looking on the bright side, huge new areas of Canada, Greenland and Russia will be habitable. The climate could be as warm as it was in the Medieval Warm Period. I wish! It is just as likely that we will be experiencing another Little Ice Age or perhaps even colder temperatures.

    Given the steady rise of sea levels for thousands of years one might assume that the rise will continue but it is not a sure bet. The next Ice Age could start in this century or in the next one and when it does sea levels will eventually start to fall.

  26. bad Jim

    The deniers really have a thing for Chris Mooney; all he has to do is mention climate and the loonies pile on. Over on Science Blogs, a mere mention of “scientific consensus” (ooh, scary conspiracy) was enough. Is there some coordination to this response, or are they all just volunteer vigilantes? It’s kind of a shame if they are, because the oil and coal companies might be willing to recompense them for their labors.

  27. SLC

    Re Carol

    Pretty slick move to control all the peer reviewed literature then, wouldn’t you say…?</i?

    Truth is something that is independent of what is currently “prevailing wisdom” in the boys club.

    Ms. Carol warbles a tune sung by every pseudoscientist in history. It’s always the same theme, namely that the “establishment” is suppressing work of scientists who depart from the “consensus”. Such notables as Duane Gish, Peter Duesberg, William Dumbski, Henry Morris, Dean Kenyan, Roy Spencer, etc. have warbled the tune. Interestingly enough, real scientists who depart from the “consensus” don’t sing this song. Instead, they go to work to get evidence to back up their claims. Evidence Alfred Wegener, Raymond Dart, Albert Einstein, etc.

    I would suggest that Ms. Carol check out the list of Nobel Prize winners. Most of them are scientists who departed from what was the “consensus” at the time and eventually engineered a paradigm shift to a new “consensus”. However, that takes work to accumulate the evidence and most pseudoscientists are not interested in doing the hard work required to overthrow a “consensus”.

  28. Sean McCorkle

    gallopingcamel @26
    The Greenland Ice Sheet has the capacity to raise the sea level by 24 ft if melted and its conceivable that it could go in on the order of a hundred years or so. The Antarctic Ice Cap has a capacity for raising it 230 ft. Mean elevation of Florida is 98 ft. What elevation are you at?

    When the sea level rises, the populations of the coastal cities will be displaced first. Thats what I’d be worried about first. They’re going to have to go somewhere.

  29. ‘Climate science’ is the new shamanism.

    Your average old-school Witch Doctor would get paid to toss some bones, teeth, feathers, and other junk on a table and pretend to divine the future from it.

    The ‘climate scientists’ do exactly the same, except they get paid more –and the payment is made by someone other than the believer. The fact that they toss their garbage into a computer does not make their divinations any more scientific than the tossing of bones and feathers on a table.

    Both the Witch Doctor and the ‘climate scientist’ know the results ahead of time. The bones and computers are just a show for the ‘believers’.

  30. Carol

    I wonder if Mr. Salt Lake City was singing the praises of the amazing Dr. Schon and his unprecedented number of peer-reviewed submissions to Science and Nature, along with the rest of the consensus choir, until the fraud was discovered?

    Peer review does not truth make. But a tainted peer review process is certainly a red flag for any reasonable person who does not “have” to “believe” in AGW for religious or financial purposes.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight. In fact, I sat on the fence of this issue for a very long time because I didn’t know which side was right, or if there was some truth being offered by both. I find that I don’t place much value on the opinions of people who are knee-jerk in their dismissal of evidence that might cast doubt on their present beliefs. Such thinking is the antithesis of science. It is the shocking close-minded behavior of the Climate Cult that has made me a skeptic.

  31. gallopingcamel

    McCorkle
    I do not dispute that the sea levels can rise more than 200 feet if all the polar ice melts. Remember James Hansen’s prediction of 75 meters? We may disagree on how long it would take (assuming the climate stays toasty). For example at 0.25 meters/century it would take 30,000 years.

    Much more likely we will be back in a really cold period by then and your descendants living in Florida (three times the size it is today) will be complaining that there is no room for all the people displaced by the new Wisconsin glacier.

  32. moptop

    “being harassed by clowns claiming that quantum mechanics was garbage, ”

    I would be tired of that too, since predictions based on quantum mechanics have so far been accurate to as many zeros as humankind has been able to measure, unlike the climate models.

    “the reasons for heeding climate models, despite their flaws; and the dangerous possibility that the warming we ultimately see could be on the high end of the current projections.”

    Sounds like “settled science” to me… not.

  33. moptop

    “its conceivable that it [Greenland Ice Sheet] could go in on the order of a hundred years or so”

    Really? Based on what exactly? I am not going to do it for you, because you won’t believe me anyway, but why don’t you google up the GRIP ice core and its temperature history and see what kind of temps obtained there 6ka (six thousand years ago) While you are at it, check out the Eemian interglacial, about 500ka, and see that it was well warmer than today, yet the ice sheet survived. Then note that the earliest polar bear fossile is older even then that.

    How long exactly has Antarctica been glaciated? What kind of temperatures did it survive? Go ask your friends at Deltoid or RealClimate if you don’t want to do the work yourself. Your comments will probably not get through, but even that should be educational for you.

  34. SLC

    Re Carol @ #30

    1. Its Dr. SLC.

    2. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions, peer review is not designed to detect scientific fraud. Thus, if an experimenter falsifies his data or dry labs his experiments, no possible peer review can detect same, unless the reviewers actually repeat the experiments themselves, an impossible requirement. What is most remarkable is that so few instances of such fraud occur and those that do occur are discovered by fellow scientists who repeat the experiments, not anonymous bloggers and blog commentors who spend their time pounding a keyboard instead of performing said experiments. For instance, Mr. Shoen (his PhD was revoked by its issuing university) was unmasked by fellow scientists, not outside kibitzers. Just as Piltdown man was unmasked as a fraud by scientists, not creationists.

    3. Of course, the gist of Ms. Carols’ comment is that climate scientists are also guilty of scientific fraud, just as Mr. Shoen was, presumably based on the emails leaked to the press. As I stated previously, the emails prove nothing of the sort and are only the reaction of real scientists to the harassment of clowns like Marc Morano and his cronies at the George Marshall Foundation and the Heartland Institute who are nothing but shills for the energy companies whose vested interests are in denying global warming. There is nothing new here. Research physicians were subjected to the same behavior by shills for the tobacco companies when they found relationships between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

  35. Sean McCorkle

    moptop@31
    From this I’m getting a melting rate of 131 km^3/year in 2003 and 222km^3/year in 2008. Taking the larger number and a volume of 3.65e6 km^3 for the ice sheet gives a total lifetime estimate of over 10,000 years. But if the 2003 to 2008 increase is an actual acceleration (which it may not be, I know), but if the rate is accelerating (not unreasonable if temperatures continue climbing) then it will reduce the lifetime. For the sake of argument, assuming a starting rate of A=131 km^3/year and a constant increase of B=18.2km^3/yr^2 the lifetime t is a solution to the quadratic 1/2 B t^2 + A t = V (where V is the volume @ 2003 – 3.65e6km^3). I get 626 years.

    Thats on the order of a hundred years or so, and its conceivable.

  36. Thomas L

    And more current research points to another flaw in AGW: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230184221.htm

    No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years, New Research Finds

    Another brick falls… Oh, I know, it is new, if it matters it will show up later… It is only one study…

    But it seems to me that most the studies comming out the past few months have pointed out some mighty big flaws in the “settled science”.

  37. SLC

    Re Thomas L

    As Prof. Knorr states in an interview, the implication that Mr. Thomas L draws is seriously in error. The paper does not, repeat does not say that the percent of the atmosphere that is CO(2) has remained constant. It says that the rate of adsorption of CO(2) by the oceans has remained constant, despite the increase in production due to burning of fossil fuels. In fact, Prof. Knorr states in the interview that his research finding in no way, shape, form, or regard supports climate change skeptics like Mr. Thomas L. Better luck next time.

    http://jonesthenews.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/bristol-research-does-not-support-climate-change-denial/

  38. Thomas L

    SLC,

    Try reading the paper instead of listening to what others say about the paper – including the one who wrote it (first rule of being educated – the cliff notes don’t mean you understand crap, and neither does an interview…). It “does not support…” because that is not what the study is about. It is about airborne carbon, and its level. I find it interesting in relation to what is below, not in how you are viewing it. In summery it states:

    “In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.”

    I’m only a skeptic in the classical sense – I take ALL the data I can find & ask myself if it is enough to make a call yet. The answer so far, after reading the actual papers, is not really.

    You are free to disagree.

    You also might want to read up on something known as “The Constructal Law” in relation to thermo dynamics (specifically heat flows), and ask yourself what it means in relation to climate, and why is it missing in this conversation. This study would seem to imply such physics are indeed in play.

    http://www.constructal.org/ is a good site for general offshoots, but I’d start with this video series from MIT to get an introduction: http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/529, and read this one for why it is important in understanding “climate”: http://www.constructal.org/en/art/every_thing_that_flows.html

    Then finish by reading this one, which applies directly to climate modeling (part of what is missing in current models – I’d have a lot more faith in a model based on Constructal Law than what they are currently trying to do…): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=V-WA-A-W-A-MsSWYWW-UUA-U-AAVUZBZYVY-AABYWADZVY-ZUDBDCYCD-A-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6V3H-4J2W0N2-4&_coverDate=01%2F19%2F2006&_cdi=5731&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=89441fb0b28e21ddd42397b12bbd20de

    Stretch your mind, put ALL the peices together, then talk to me.

  39. gallopingcamel

    McCorkle (@37) and moptop (@35)
    My understanding of McCorkle’s calculation is that it could take between 626 and 10,000 years to melt the Greenland ice sheet. My (admittedly simplistic) calculation shows that at a rate of 8 inches per century it would take 3,600 years. If the rate of sea level rise were to return to its long term rate of close to 4 feet per century then 600 years would be in the right ball park.
    What would it take to speed up the melting? Clearly a rapid rise in global temperatures as predicted by Mann, Briffa and Hughes in their 1998 (Hockey Stick) paper would do it.

    Nature has played a cruel trick on MBH because temperatures started to fall the year after their famous paper was published. Given that CO2 concentrations have continued to rise as predicted by MBH why has the temperature failed to follow?

    Many papers have shown a correlation between solar activity and global temperature extending backwards almost 400 years. Solar activity started falling again in 1998, so that correlation still holds today. Now you will tell me that correlation does not imply causation and I cannot disagree with that. Even so it makes more sense to look for a causative link between variables that correlate closely than ones that do not (e.g temperature and CO2 concentration).

    Some recent papers have described a process by which solar activity can affect cloud cover and thereby the global energy balance. While this is only speculation, it is more plausible than the CO2/GHG speculation. CO2 concentration does. You are going to tell me that correlation does not imply causation and I can’t argue with that.

    Some recent papers have described a process by which solar activity can affect cloud cover and thereby the global energy balance. While this is only speculation, it is more plausible than the CO2/GHG speculation.

  40. SLC

    Re Thomas L

    The question is, has the percent of CO(2) in the atmosphere changed since the industrial revolution got underway. Here are two links that appear to indicate that the concentration was 288 ppm pre 1750, 368 ppm in 2000, and 384 ppm in 2008.

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

    http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

  41. moptop

    SLC,
    Have you ever considered an alternate hypothesis? That the Earth was falling into an ice age around that time, known as the Little Ice Age, and that had that cooling continued unabated, we would be facing mass starvation right now?

    Sean M,
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7262/full/nature08355.html
    While the abstract does not get into the exact issues you discuss in your admittedly simplisting model, I would like to call your attention to the three thousand year warm period experienced by Greenland, yet it is still here.

    You must have some faith in the “flawed”, Chris Mooney’s words, climate models.

  42. moptop

    BTW, that warming aslo had a component of increased solar insolation at Greenland’s lattitudes. Due to the “wobble”, obliquity, precession, and excentricity, of the Earth’s orbit, summers were longer there then, the sun shone more directly overhead, and the Earth was closer to the Sun during those longer Greenland summers. You can look up Milankovich in the Wikipedia for a fairly unbiased and accessable explanation. Just look at their “conclusions” re AGW with proper skepticism. Gaming of Wikipedia, long protested by the skeptical community, is one more area where Climategate has changed the playing field.

  43. Carol

    Dr Salt Lake,

    You keep saying it is only bloggers that are challenging the climate “consensus” but just ignore the bona fide credentialed climate scientists that disagree with them — you know, like that Dr. Patrick Michaels that they wanted to inflict violence upon.

    I know, here you will revert back to asking how many articles they have published in the peer-reviewed literature — and around you’ll go with that whole thing. How about instead of bowing down and worshipping that PhD label you so revere (as if that magically makes them right) when you learn that certain scientists have not been conducting their work in the rational, logical, unemotional pointy-eared Vulcan way that we all expect them to — that you take an open-minded step back and just consider the possibility that your conclusions have been based upon a faulty premise. You won’t dissolve….

  44. Thomas L

    SLC,

    I don’t think that “proves” anything – we know there is natural fluctuation, and indeed in the past, when there were no motor cars nor coal burning electric plants, Co2 still managed to be several times higher. The report I pointed to, while not “refuting” AGW, does – once more (as several other reports have these past few months) – show the models they are using CAN NOT account for what is actually transpiring. In any other field such would be the end of the models worth, and efforts would be underway to figure out why they were so far off (especially in any field that was of “vital importance”), and much effort would be put in to finding that which is obviously missing. Their “predictions” would never have made it out of the lab, let alone become groundwork for actual policy.

    Instead, in climate science, we just keep getting apologies (in the classical sense), and told “oh, we expect that too” – even though it is nowhere stated in the literature. It also does not answer why, even when Co2 was substantially higher in previouse times, there was no “tipping point” and the earth never managed to fall into a runaway green house affect…

    You also seem to keep missing my point – given what we know we can’t really say much at all. It would seem that the more we learn, the less clear it is we have figured out much at all (as in most things)…

    In regards to your post #10,
    While I agree that Howard Richman is not someone I would want to listen to, he sure isn’t a “free trade” or “deregulation” guy. He believes in lots of regulation – on the international level (controlling Nations trade balances via regulation). He’s the typical product of Keynesian thinking. Do not make the mistake of declaring what republicans have become to be the same thing as “conservative”.

    “The Bushies” (republicans) are about as literate in economics as the “Obamies” (Demarcates) – both parties flunk. Try studying the Austrian school (http://mises.org) instead of that Keynesian stuff that they teach in college. I knew that was a farce when I studied it, though for obvious reasons governments love it. While the “old” system had its faults, as every economic system does, it was far more resilient then what we have created to replace it.

  45. sHx

    re SLC:

    Thus the scientific consensus currently is that AGW is underway and has been for some time. it will require extraordinary evidence to overthrow that consensus, just like any other consensus. If the evidence is forthcoming, the consensus will change, just like it changed in the other examples I cited.

    I can add one more example to the list of changing scientific consensus. Geocentric model of the universe was consensus science for nearly two thousand years, even though there was some speculation as early as 3rd Century BC that it was the Earth that revolved around the Sun. Evidence piled up, cycles upon cycles were produced to account for the new data, old models became unbearably complex. So Copernicus studied the heliocentric model again. It was simpler, more elegant and represented the real order of nature. It took more than a century to establish a scientific consensus around the heliocentric model. Galileo was even tried by the Papal courts for advocating it.

    The examples of changing scientific consensus, eg plate tectonics and the Taung boy fossil, are perhaps no more than intellectual exercises for laymen and they have little immediate impact on the human civilisation. Ditto the long-held consensus on the geo-centric model of the universe. These examples are quite different than the beast we are facing with the Anthropogenic Global Warming consensus.

    The current AGW consensus will make a real, immediate and material impact, since it demands huge, urgent payments from everyone. The AGW consensus says that human civilisation faces a catastrophy, worse, the end of life on the planet, [insert other apocalyptic predictions here], if we don’t meet the payments soon. If the current climate consensus is proven wrong after fresh extraordinary evidence in 10, 20 or 50 years, we won’t get back trillions of dollars spent on transforming the world economy. Nor will we recover decades’ worth of development that will be lost to human civilisation.

    Remember that the industrial revolution has done a lot of good to humanity. It has increased population, extended life-spans, turned the world into a village, opened up the space -the final frontier!-, and it has given ever more creature comforts to the ever growing numbers who can afford it. This revolution would not have been possible but for the cheap, fossil fuel energy. If humanity is to abandon this cheap source of energy, something more than a ‘changeable’ scientific consensus is required. What is needed is an absolute, incontrovertible, unchangeable scientific fact that burning fossil fuels cause global warming.

    And even then, there is still the question of whether adaptation or geo-engineering would benefit humanity better than abandoning fossil fuels, or whether we should do anything at all about it, considering the fact that warmer climates have proven to be better for the earth’s eco-system than colder climates. Warmer climate is the reason why there is much greater diversity of life in tropical regions than in polar regions.

    Let’s not digress too far. The essential point I am trying to make is that the prevailing scientific consensus on AGW, a consensus that may change in the future, in itself, is not a sufficient reason to risk slowing down the progress. There must be solid evidence that a catastrophe is looming and that giving up on CO2 producing energy sources is the only way to avert it. In other words, the current climate consensus is not good enough to justify the costs associated with its policy recommendations.

  46. gallopingcamel

    sHx
    You are speculating on the motives and objectives of the folks who control the AGW bandwagon. This is way beyond the competence of a physicist like me. However, here is a link to some interesting quotes made by prominent people like Maurice Strong and Al Gore. Scary stuff.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/50707/title/Climate-gate_Beyond_the_embarrassment

    The quotes are in the second post, December 12 (Author, Dante Mudd)

  47. sHx

    gallopingcamel, yes very interesting set of quotes. The kind of stuff that would make a paranoid think there is a global warming conspiracy.

    For the record, I have never considered the AGW claims as a world-wide conspiracy. A political/ideological movement followed with a religious zeal, definitely yes. Scientists falling victim to groupthink, absolutely yes. But no conspiracy. I should know because I have been an Australian Greens voter for the last ten years, an activist for the first four years and a member for two years. I have grown weary of the AGW issue being blown out of all proportions and dominating the Green agenda, and I have been especially concerned about the subversion of science to suit the political agenda, even though it is to the benefit of Green politics.

    I wanted to respond to a key argument of SLC in this thread because it was a strong and sensible argument, albeit mistaken within the context of the global warming consensus. Adding further to my response, I’d like to ask SLC whether he thinks there is a scientific consensus on each one of the tenets of the AGW theory; the chain of causation that begins with CO2, the predictions of the climate models, the best course of action, and so on. It is worthy of note that the AGW movement -yes, including the leading climate scientists- are dismissive of any view that is not precisely in accordance with all the tenets of the theory and policy responses to it. There doesn’t seem to be any room for lukewarmers, or for those who would like any solution other than getting rid of fossil fuels.

    The leading luminaries of the climate science as well as the AGW movement as a whole seem to operate on the basis of “you are either with us or against us.”

  48. sinz54

    You never know what the future will bring.

    A regional nuclear war between Israel and Iran, while insufficient to cause “nuclear winter,” might be enough to cause a smaller-scale “nuclear autumn,” by kicking up plenty of dust into the stratosphere.

    That might be enough to reverse the warming caused by the greenhouse gas effect.

  49. Thomas L

    sHx,

    Seen the same thing here in the U.S., AGW has overrun traditional environmental issues – many which matter greatly and would go quite far towards making the place better (dealing with waste water overflows into our streams and rivers, intelligent use of the forests instead of clear cutting, continued reductions in pollutants other than Co2…).

    I’m even a supporter of alternative energy – as the technology is developed and makes economic sense. The AGW crowd doesn’t seem to grasp how much damage ishas been done in the process of raising all those wind mills (as a friend of ours stated when we were explaining some of the technicalities and long term issues in regards to what they want to put up on our farm: “oh, I guess you can’t just plug them in like an appliance, can you?”…). Then you have very environmentally sensitive areas – that are ideal for solar farms… Everything has a cost – AGW doesn’t like to recognize their answers also have a cost, and it isn’t just financial (not that they even get the financial side, but they sure don’t grasp the environmental side).

    When you start asking questions they switch the debate (Co2 – nitrogen – CFC’s – water vapor -whatever point you bring up will be responded to with one you haven’t brought up…) Circular logic at its worst.

  50. Sean McCorkle

    moptop @43
    “You must have some faith in the “flawed”, Chris Mooney’s words, climate models.”

    My formal education instilled an instinctive aversion to model-dependent conclusions. However, that being said, we can learn a lot by attempting to model phenomena. Even if we get things wrong, we can learn which things are important to consider, which not, which are the dominant terms etc etc.

    However, I DO have faith in fundamental laws of physics which have been arrived at over the last few centuries. These include conservation of mass and energy and also atomic and molecular physics and spectroscopy. The quantitative theory of absorption line formation, including pressure and temperature broadening effects have been worked out with great precision over the last century and are on very solid ground.

    For example: by itself, an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere WILL increase the capture of heat. Now, its conceivable that this may be countered by other effects, such as increases in the albedo (as you mentioned in another post, via low cloud decks) or a simultaneous decrease in other greenhouse gases, such as water vapor. But if you want to claim that the net temperature will NOT go up, you MUST introduce a compensating factor to make it go down, because the CO2 increase will add to the net heating.

    “http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7262/full/nature08355.html …
    …I would like to call your attention to the three thousand year warm period experienced
    by Greenland, yet it is still here.”

    My limited understanding of the 18O/16O ratio in freshwater ice relationship to temperature is that the precipitation which formed the ice is depleted in 18O due to the extra heat needed to evaporate H2-18O from the liquid source, which is presumably the ocean. The authors seem to be making the case that when various systematic corrections are made for altitude etc., this ratio profile looks very uniform over the greater Greenland region. Well okay, thats reasonable, but it seems to me that the 18O/16O ratio could be reflecting temperatures of the oceans potentially far from Greenland where the water evaporated in the first place, and not necessarily the conditions at Greenland. In fact, it seems like that ratio could be showing the temperatures of regions well warmer than the global average, since cooler regions won’t undergo so much evaporation, no? Am I missing something?

    The average global temperature could have been much higher than the Greenland area for any number of reasons, such as currents, sea ice coverage, etc. For example, wouldn’t more polar ice surrounding the island help keep temperatures lower? Another question I have is, how much bigger was the ice sheet back then? Do we know or have estimates of how much was lost since 9000 years ago? (Also, for what its worth, their temperature graph 2c shows a max at 2deg C at 9000 years ago or so, which steadily declines to 0deg C present, or a decelerating heating term or factor)

    The historical longevity of the ice doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it won’t go away in a few hundred years, if the conditions are right.

  51. Sean McCorkle

    galloping camel @41
    “What would it take to speed up the melting?’

    While this may not be an issue for the Greenland sheet, I was personally alarmed by some of the speeds of Antarctic continental ice flowing out to the ocean. Ice doesn’t have to melt to raise the sea level – when a big chunk of ice moves off the land into the ocean it will displace just as much as much water as it would be if it melted. One nightmarish scenario would be a catastrophic breakup and accelerated slide into the water of a large fraction of the Greenland or Antarctic ice.

    I’m not arguing that it necessarily will happen. The back-of-the-envelope calculation I made, based on extrapolating two scenarios from just two data points was more a plausibility argument given some limited information. I think we should be keeping a close eye on the ice sheets, though.

    or did I miss your point – are you asserting that temperatures have not increased in the past few decades?

  52. gallopingcamel

    sHx, Thomas L,
    Really interesting discussion.

    When it comes to energy here is my amateur assessment of the “big picture”. Oil & gas production will peak within 50 years so if we are careful there will be enough to keep our civilisation going for ~100 years. Coal is more plentiful so we may have enough to last another 300 years. Once the easily accessible fossil fuels have run out we won’t have to worry about carbon dioxide emissions but we will need electricity.

    With regard to “renewables” hydro power is really cheap but inadequate for our needs. Solar, wind and waves will not be enough to fill the gap. You only have to look at countries like Germany and Denmark that decided to develop wind power to realise that backup conventional power plants are needed when the wind doesn’t blow (or the sun don’t shine). In Germany they were forced to extend the operating life of aging nuclear reactors that should have been dismantled, simply to back up the windmills!

    The only plausible option once you run out of fossils fuels is nuclear power. When I was a young physicist it looked like fusion would be the answer but in spite of Fleishman and Pons that option is receding into the distant future. Today’s fission reactors produce low cost electricity but there are serious issues of safety and waste disposal. These reactors depend on Uranium with potential reserves equivalent to ~1,000 years at present demand.

    Today’s reactor designs cannot run on Thorium which is much more plentiful than Uranium (reserves for at least 10,000 years). IMHO the most interesting technology will be new fission reactors such as LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors) or SCNR (Sub-Critical Nuclear Reactors). Both technologies are far safer than existing nuclear reactor designs; they cannot explode in Chernobyl fashion so containment structures are not needed. Better still they can consume the dangerous higher Actinides (including Plutonium) destined for Yucca mountain and convert them into stable isotopes (and electricity).

  53. moptop

    The quantitative theory of absorption line formation, including pressure and temperature broadening effects have been worked out with great precision over the last century and are on very solid ground.

    Who said they weren’t? What straw man are you arguing with, exactly? Do you have a study somewhere that shows that CO2, absent feedbacks, raises the temp by more than 1.2 C per doubling? Remember that this effect is logarthmic in nature, so we have already seen the majority of this rise. Each new molecule of CO2 achieves a diminishing return.

    “Well okay, thats reasonable, but it seems to me that the 18O/16O ratio could be reflecting temperatures of the oceans potentially far from Greenland where the water evaporated in the first place,”

    So the whole Milankovich effect doesn’t affect Greenland? Remember, this is the same effect that probably melted mile thick glaciers that stood on the spot that I am writing this from. OK, you don’t have to revert to the logical application of the Milankovich type climate influences, and their triple witching hour effects on Greenland in the period in question, you can measure the temps directly through boreholes:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/282/5387/268

    These direct measurments also show significant warming during that era. The original argument was that the effect was limited to Greenland, ironically enough. On this page, part of the way down, is a graphic of the temp period under discussion which came from Dahl-Jensen et al [Science 1998]. There used to be a good one in Wikipedia, but that source has been pretty thoroughly cleansed of inconvenient findings by the climategate cabal.

    http://climateaudit.org/2006/03/05/pollack-and-schrag-at-the-nas-panel/

  54. Sean McCorkle

    moptop@55

    What I’ve been able to find about Milankovich seems to be the hypothesis that there are long term oscillations in both the orbital eccentricity and axial tilt of the Earth, and these are inferred to explain periodicities in the climate record. Is there any astrophysics to back this up? What causes these oscillations, exactly?

    The 26,000 year precession of the equinoxes is well-established and understood to be caused by the torque exerted by the Moon on the slightly oblate earth. There are all sorts of interesting known & understood orbital resonances (the Gallilean moons for example). The precession of the perhelion is predicted by General Relativity. What causes the oscillations that Milankovich asserted?

  55. Sean McCorkle

    whoops – that should have been “The precession of the perhelion of Mercury is predicted by General Relativity”

  56. moptop

    I don’t know the astrophysics of it, except that the cycle of axial tilt, obliquity, is affected by the moon, which is receding from the earth, and so the cycles will never perfectly repeat, making it difficult to use them for accurate predictions of future states.

    The important aspect for climate is that the sun gets progressively higher overhead at noon at higher lattitudes until it peaks and heads the other way.

    Perihelion moves around the year, changing by about one full day every four years. So over the centuries it moves from Summer to Winter etc, depending on the hemisphere.

    Also, due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit, sometimes summer or winter gets stretched over a longer part of the orbit. This is due to Kepler’s laws.

    So, during the Holocene Optimum in Greenland, summers were longer, the summer sun was more directly overhead, and just as a kicker, perihelion occured during the NH summer.

    Why this is all true is another matter, but it is settled science in terms of observations a predictions, and has been for a long time.

  57. Sean McCorkle

    moptop @58

    What I’ve been able to find are some papers (Laskar Astronomy and Astrophysics 1986, 1988) that detail calculations for long-term small variations in the orbit and axial tilt of the Earth, which include general relativistic effects and perturbations from other bodies in the solar system. The axial tilt variation (obliquity of the ecliptic) seems to match what’s floating around on wikipedia and what you’re saying – a range of 24 1/2 degrees to 22 1/2 degrees or so, the maxima occurring maybe 80,000 years ago or so and we’re about in the middle now.

    I’m having difficulty seeing how the axial tilt comes into play in any large way – ignoring for the moment the problem that any extra heating in summer must be offset by extra cooling in winter, the maximum difference in wattage at noon between now and 80,000 years will go like cos(23.5) – cos(2.45) which is about 0.7%. For 10,000 year even less – on the order of .1%.

    If I understand this paper, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/282/5387/268, they are taking current temperatures and inferring long term time profiles by modeling. They’re not direct measurements.

    “On this page, part of the way down, is a graphic of the temp period under discussion which came from Dahl-Jensen et al [Science 1998].”
    Figure 4 – is that the one you are talking about? labeled “reconstructed temperature histories…?” is the hubbub about the sharp spike upwards post-industrial (>1900) or the downturn right at the edge?

    BTW
    “Perihelion moves around the year, changing by about one full day every four years. So over the centuries it moves from Summer to Winter etc, depending on the hemisphere.”

    This is not true – the slow precession of the Earths perihelion is on the order of hundreds of thousands of years. The few year variation you are describing sounds more like the 1 day or so variation in perihelion passage date/time and for solstices and equinoxes, which occurs because the orbit of the earth is not exactly 365 days but a complex fraction of it (365.). We force the calendar to be 365 days and attempt to correct with an extra day every leap year, so the calendar times for perihelion and solstices are what’s moving.

    “Also, due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit, sometimes summer or winter gets stretched over a longer part of the orbit. This is due to Kepler’s laws.”

    Kepler posited elliptical orbits with static parameters. The eccentricities, perihelion points etc. didn’t change. Same holds for Newtonian two-body for point masses. The perturbations are due to many body effects and departures from Newton’s laws (general relativity).

  58. Sean McCorkle

    arrgh that should have read
    … but a complex fraction of it (365.242199)

  59. moptop

    Milankovich’s theory is well accepted, but perhaps not proven. It is based on correlation with temperature history. Lots of things could affect it. For instance, the sun could be directly overhead over more land than sea for some parts of the year in some configurations.

    Continental drift affects it at the time scales it operates on. I am not sure that you understand my explanations. You could be right about perihelion, but I’m not sure that it is a major factor in climate in any case.

    I think that you should read up on Milankovich, and understand that the planet is not uniform, like some idealized blackbody sphere, and so the energy does not necessarily balance out over the whole globe the way you think it might. For instance, if it gets colder near the arctic, snow cover increases, bouncing sunlight off the planet without absorption, something that doesn’t happen so much in the antarctic. Heat might be absorbed in parts of the ocean where it is quickly sent to the deep for 800 years. There are a lot of these effects possible, and nobody understands them all, and they certainly can’t be understood at the level of eighth grade Earth Science. Climate modelers try, but they are not there yet.

  60. gallopingcamel

    moptop & McCorkle

    I found the attached video quite helpful

    http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi786563609/

  61. gallopingcamel

    McCorkle (@53)
    I just found your question on temperature. That is a really hard one as we have one group of scientists saying “The Hockey Stick Lives” and another group saying that it does not. Once the raw data that the CRU, Penn State, NASA/GISS, UCAR and others have been hiding is opened up for auditing it should be possible to separate the crooks from the wise men.

    Sorry to be a fence sitter on this one although my instincts tell me that anyone who hides his raw data cannot be trusted. As Einstein said:

    “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”

    If I had to make a pick today, I would go with Fred Singer and Richard Lindzen. You can find a summary at:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monthly_report/sppi_monthly_co2_report_july.html

  62. Sean McCorkle

    galloping camel @63

    Looks there’s data available from the Tiros-N Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) from
    http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_browse.html
    the TLT channel samples the lower troposphere where most of the airmass is and it shows a clearly rising background underlying the fluctuations on the yearly timescale. The trend is less for the upper troposphere. (Interestingly, the stratosphere shows cooling profiles, although there’s not a lot of heat associated with that because of the low densities.)

    this seques into what moptop said in 61
    “…understand that the planet is not uniform, like some idealized blackbody sphere, and so the energy does not necessarily balance out over the whole globe the way you think it might.”

    I do understand. The biosphere is incredibly complicated. However, I can step outside the planet and draw a spherical boundary around the planet at a suitable radius and claim that

    energy in (from the sun) – energy out (thermal radiation) = heat increase of planet

    cause THATs conservation of energy.

    The quantities on the left hand side can in principle be measured from space. The first has been monitored
    since 1978 and is flat over that period except for 0.1 – 0.2% oscillations due to the Solar cycle.
    (http://www.pmodwrc.ch/pmod.php?topic=tsi/composite/SolarConstant). I’m not so knowledable about space missions so I don’t know offhand if satellites have been measuring the thermal output of the planet – I’m trying to find out now. But that should be able to settle it once and for all.

    However, in the meantime there IS the TIROS-N microwave observations, which shows a steady temperature increase of 1.5C / century over that same period. What could be causing that, I ask myself? well, the CO2 has been increasing over the same period,
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo.html
    and that by itself, can cause an increase, although as has been said here, CO2 effects can be offset by things like albedo increases for example. Well, okay then if its not CO2, what is it? The one answer I keep hearing is “oh its natural cycles” or “Milankovitch cycles” – well admittedly I’m not an expert, but these cycles seem to
    1) cause climate change by long term variations in the amount of sunlight received at different parts
    2) amount to what, say a few degrees change …
    3) … on timescales of tens of thousands of years or more

    2) and 3) imply temperature change rates of change of a few degrees per 10,000 years or more. If I take
    extreme values, say 10 degrees (!) over 10,000 years thats .1 deg / century. Compare that to the 1.5 from TIROS – and BTW thats also echoed by Monckton in the link given above in 63. Furthermore, the two Greenland Ice Core temperature graphs given in comments 43 and 55 both show downwardtrends for the last 10,000 years or so. If there IS a Milankovitch background, which I’m not denying, I don’t see how can be related to the observed increase in the last 30 years which is well over an order of magnitude higher and much much faster. The earths axes and orbit have not noticeably changed in that period.

    So far, I have to conclude that the simplest explanation for this data is that the observed temperature increases have been driven by CO2 increases, and other potentially ameliorating effects, like albedo increases, etc have failed to completely compensate for it. Its Occam’s razor.

  63. gallopingcamel

    McCorkle (@64)

    The energy balance you mention is a very big deal in climate science and a pitched battle is in full swing following the publication of the ERBE results (Lindzen & Choi, 2009).

    Clearly Milankovitch cycles are long term and therefore not a major factor in the temperature rise since 1850.

    Ocean effects like El Nino and La Nina have great impact on decadal time scales. For example the high temperatures recorded in 1998. So far this connection seems obvious looking backwards in time but nobody seems able to use it to make convincing forecasts!

    The most important area of disagreement right now is on the century scale. The Warmists say that CO2 is dominant and the deniers talk about natural causes such as solar activity being more important.

    My hope is that “Climate Science” will be cleansed of secrecy and deception. Only then can an honest review of the data from the bottom up bring these warring factions closer together. In real science (as opposed to junk science) “Consensus” is not needed but open debate is.

    If it turns out that the Warmists are right I would not support their “solution” which boils down to trying to make the planet cooler. I like it toasty and would support putting more CO2 into the atmosphere if that would bring us closer to Medieval Warm Period conditions.

    One of the most telling accusations levelled against the IPCC’s Hockey Team is that they tried to hide the MWP and LIA in spite of overwhelming historical evidence. “Denial” on steroids!

  64. moptop

    “I don’t see how can be related to the observed increase in the last 30 years ”

    The whole tangent was based on your doubt about the warming that occurred in Greenland 6 to 9 ka. A warming that was greater than anything we see now. Yet still the Greenland ice shelf remains. Nothing more, nothing less. There was a triple witching hour at that time in the NH, and it shows up in the temp records from the GRIP core.

    It was a reply you your “back of the envelope” calculation that Greenland could melt in 700 years, when it did not in three thousand warm years, many of them very warm.

    Thirty years is a blip. What you have is a conjecture and a coincidence without a little better proof. It was warmer 6k years ago, it was warmer 2k years ago, and it was probably warmer 1k years ago. Why can’t the temps go up again? Ever hear of a “drunkards walk”, or think about Brownian motion?

    Yes CO2 causes warming. According to Phil Jones in the climategate emails, it is a warming of 1.2C per doubling. Lots of other people agree by the way. Due to the logarithmic nature of the greenhouse effect, and the linear nature of the increase in CO2, we have seen the majority of that doubling already, and still we are within the bounds of natural variability. During the Holocene Optimum, no “tipping points” were reached to send the planet into an extinction episode. Nor did that happen during the Eemian interglacial.

    The whole house of cards comes down to the models predicting some kind of unusual warming, so it would be comforting if they were not so “flawed”, as Chris Mooney averred. It really comes down to your faith in models that basically assign all warming that they cannot explain to AGW. Argument from ignorance is one way to put that.

  65. Eric (skeptic)

    That people can talk about “nuclear autumn” when that means millions of people will die real deaths from blasts, fallout, and radiation illnesses shows just how myopic the whole climate debate has become. If it gets warmer, we will deal with it and here in Northen VA life will be a little easier. If it gets colder, it won’t be as easy but we will deal with it as well. Nobody will suffer and die from either condition.

    But if there is a nuclear war anywhere, no matter how small, that will be a disaster for humanity.

  66. Sean McCorkle

    Moptop@66

    “Thirty years is a blip. What you have is a conjecture and a coincidence without a little better proof. It was warmer 6k years ago, it was warmer 2k years ago, and it was probably warmer 1k years ago. Why can’t the temps go up again? Ever hear of a “drunkards walk”, or think about Brownian motion? ”

    Whether or not a system is complex or chaotic, energy conservation is not violated. If total temperature rises, energy must be somehow injected into or captured by the system. Whether or not we’ll ever be able to determine the historical causes for temperature changes on those timescales seems difficult at best. However, these days we have space-based and other instrumentation that can make the relevant & comprehensive measurements and we can collect much better evidence for cause and effect. The most likely cause of that thirty-year “blip” is the contemporaneous CO2 increase.

    If I take a ruler and draw a line through the TIROS-N temperature graph, I get a line that increases 1.5C per century. If this continues as is, that will amount to 3C in two centuries. The historical temperature graph (fig 2c) in the Vinther et. al. Nat. letter (2009) that you pointed out above shows a maximum of 2C that occurred 8-9 thousand years ago. To me that says, in a few hundred years, we can expect temperature increases that equal or exceed the holocene warming.

  67. Sean McCorkle

    Eric @67
    “But if there is a nuclear war anywhere, no matter how small, that will be a disaster for humanity.”

    Good for you for keeping things in perspective. That would be a disaster and we should never become desensitized to that.

    However, there are some potential concerns beyond comfortable or discomfortable temperatures, for example, significant flooding could displace large populations since a number of major cities are coastal and low-lying.

  68. moptop

    “energy conservation is not violated”

    Certainly not. However, energy can disappear into the oceans for a looong time. CO2 effects can be muted by saturation, etc or short cutted by albedo. Do you really expect the planet to still be burning fossil fuels at this rate in a century? The population is expected to begin declining in 50 years globally.

    “The most likely cause of that thirty-year “blip” is the contemporaneous CO2 increase.”

    Because the flawed models say so? What was the cause of the warming then peaked in the ’30s and ’40s? What was the cause of the cooling up to the ’70s that led to the whole “global cooling” scare in the media? Why has statistically significant warming stopped since ’95?

  69. moptop

    Sean,
    Tell you what, go back to AR4 and tell me how warming is attributed to natural variation, and how it is attributed to AGW. I could do it, but you won’t believe me.

  70. Plausaalurath

    The action taken to national disaster is great but it’s a damn shame that so many citizens take advantage of the sad situations.

    I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill – there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

    This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system. Shame on them!
    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/08/19/crimesider/entry5251471.shtml

  71. Shouccurono

    The action taken to national disaster is noble but it’s a real shame that so many citizens take advantage of the negative situations.

    I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill – there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

    This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system. Shame on them!
    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/08/19/crimesider/entry5251471.shtml

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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