An essay on the current state of the climate change debate

by Don Aitkin

JC note:  this essay was prepared for a recent address at given at the Manning House, in Australia.

The debate tonight is about ‘anthropogenic global warming’, and it is a debate, not a one-sided exposition. The debate exists because many people say the matter is important, and it is plainly also most contentious. To understand why our government is going down the path that it has chosen, a carbon tax, while the USA is not doing so, we need to know more than simply the local  and American political contexts. What is ‘climate change’ all about? Why is there any debate at all? Why are people so divided about it? The answers to these questions involve different elements of history, politics, ideology, narrative, science, mathematics and statistics. You can get some handle on it by recognising that if the matter were quite straightforward we would be doing something else tonight. In my judgment it is not at all straightforward, and it is hardly getting any more so.

You will appreciate that although I have had a long experience in advising governments in the area of science, technology and research, my current role with the Federal Government is in the area of the planning and management of the national capital, and with the ACT Government it is in the area of theatre, art and historic places. So I will say nothing at all about either government’s response to the issue, either in my talk or later in answering questions. My role here is to facilitate a discussion and to raise your interest in what is, for me at least, one of the most interesting and frustrating issues in the politics of the last fifty years. But I will talk at once about the kinds of pressures that weigh on all democratically elected governments, and even on some governments that are apparently autocratic.

To begin, we human beings dislike uncertainty about the future, and governments are under pressure to reduce uncertainty, and thus to come to a decision, about many issues. We may not like a given decision, but at least we know what is going to happen in that area, or what is likely to happen. The claim that we humans are facing a catastrophe if we do not change our collective and individual behaviour is a strong one, and since it is supported by eminent people and apparently by some eminent organisations, governments have to at least say something about that claim and provide a satisfactory account of it and what they are prepared to do about it. This has been difficult in every democracy, for reasons that you will appreciate. But nonetheless they have to do it, as they have to do in many other contentious areas. If they don’t, they look weak and hesitant, and that appearance is likely to cause a loss of public confidence in them and the subsequent election of their rivals. In my judgment the business of government is much more difficult than it was fifty years ago, when I started my PhD, and it is more difficult everywhere, not just here.

You may think that in this case of global warming, or in another one altogether, the right course of action is obvious, and it should be followed. Civil servants are there to advise Ministers as to the options available to them, but it is the Ministers, who have been elected, who have to make the final decisions. I might think that my Minister is ‘brave’, or perhaps not brave enough. But having given my advice, I accept that my role as an adviser is finished. I then await the decision, and the consequences. Before you attack or criticise a government or minister for a decision in a particular matter, you need to understand the context in which the decisions have been made. You will need to know all the options that were provided to the Minister or the Cabinet. You will need to know the other concerns weighing on Minister or Cabinet at the same time. You will rarely get all this from the mainstream media: their role is to tell stories, stories that make us want to read or watch or listen — stories that have arresting headlines. So media stories are usually dramatic, or romantic, or terrifying, or angry. On occasion you will know something more about a particular story, and want to object that there is another side. There nearly always is another side, and my role tonight is to give you an appreciation of both sides. I do not have a passionate view about it, though many do, on both sides.

And two final introductory remarks. First, while there are two sides in the AGW debate, there are many shades of opinion on each side. Partly for this reason, the differences between the two sides are often not clear-cut. They do find it difficult to talk to one another, however, or to find much common ground. The principal cause, I think, is that one side, what I will call ‘the orthodoxy’, is convinced that AGW is real, urgent and potentially catastrophic: its interest is in finding and promoting solutions. The other side, what I will call ‘the dissenters’, is convinced that the orthodox have rushed ahead without investigating or defining the problem properly. So they are looking hard at something that the orthodox have left behind a long time ago. You may recall Al Gore saying, as he stepped forward to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, that ‘the science is settled!’ Another such remark is that ‘the time for debate is over’. You can see that such an attitude leaves little room for discussion except about remedies.

Second, each side seems to me to exhibit something called ‘confirmation bias’ — that is, only seeing and valuing arguments and evidence that support their own position. The most obvious example is the way in which AGW proponents will announce that a new study ‘proves’ or shows conclusively that the threat of global warming is real. Sceptics often do the same — any study that is at odds with the orthodoxy is pointed to as evidence that the whole AGW edifice is flimsy. There are simply thousands of papers in the literature that can be brought to bear on the issue, and my guess is that in ten years time only a handful of them will still be referred to. Along with confirmation bias goes a familiar academic strategy: each side has built argumentative defences against attack. So the AGW side will demand that critics provide an alternative explanation for whatever global warming has occurred; in default, they will say, their view must be right. The sceptical side demands proof, through laboratory experiments or through observation, that AGW is real. In my judgment neither defence is sound. One does not have to have an alternative explanation in order to show the deficiencies in someone else’s argument, and the earth’s climate does not provide many opportunities for laboratory experiment, while getting good observational data for a planet, as I shall explain, is not as simple as it might appear.

The public servants who have to advise on climate change are not fools, and they know all this. Very few fools ever get to be Ministers, and Ministers are always aware of the problems in formulating policy. So if you think that governments are hesitant, or slow to act, or seem to fumble, you can bet there are awkward problems in the area. Some desired options will not be possible. No government in the world, for example, will close down its coal-fired electricity generators because of fears about carbon dioxide emissions, because coal is still the major provider of electricity in most developed countries, and our whole society simply depends, today, on the regular, reliable and instant availability of electric power.

As you see, I am using the phrase ‘anthropogenic global warming’ to denote our subject, but you can also think of it as ‘human-induced climate change’, ‘climate change disruption’, or ‘catastrophic anthropogenic global warming’. They all mean the same. I’m using AGW, the original term, because it focuses attention on the core of the issue, while the phrase ‘climate change’ is ambiguous, since climates have changed over time for reasons of natural variability, and will continue to do so.

Someone, in one of the debates I have been reading on the net (Judith Curry’s ‘Climate Etc., which I recommend unreservedly as a website which educates, debates and does both largely free from insult) described AGW as having the highest stakes and the lowest signal-to-noise ratio of any issue in his lifetime. I think I would agree. As for the high stakes, Kevin Rudd described ‘climate change’ as ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’, while Tony Blair of the UK called it ‘the world’s greatest environmental challenge’. There was a time when any political leader had to say things like this almost every week. That time seems to have gone, at least for the moment. AGW is much less in the public mind, in the talk of our politicians, and in the mainstream media.

I assume that you all know at least a little of the history of the AGW issue, and the role of the Inter-Governmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and I’ll answer questions about them afterwards if you wish. What I want to do tonight is to focus about the last couple of years, and try to summarise where the issue currently is, and what the core debates are about. I will do that as neutrally as I can. If I focus more on the dissenting side, that is because it gets less attention in the mainstream media, and because the other speaker tonight will do an excellent job of presenting what I have called the orthodox view.

The central AGW proposition

Let me remind you of what is said to be the case, and what the discussions are about. I think a fair summary of what I would style the central AGW argument runs as follows. I have drawn the first five elements from the IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers of the AR4 in 2007, and the last from stories that emerge from the media from time to time, most recently from Professor Garnaut (economist, climate change adviser to the Federal Government).

This text should be familiar, because we have been hearing it for much of the last five years or so. And you can find argument and apparent evidence to support all six statements, though not conclusively. It has become customary to hear people who dissent from any of them described as ‘deniers’, a term which, to me at any rate, has unpleasant associations with the Holocaust, and to which I object. Although I use the terms ‘the orthodox’ and ‘the dissenters’, in fact, it is all rather more complicated than ‘the IPCC is correct in every particular’ versus ‘the IPCC is completely wrong’. I’ll say more about that a little later

  1. The earth is warming.
  2. This warming is unprecedented.
  3. The warming is caused by the human burning of fossil fuels.
  4. The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic.
  5. The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere.
  6. Things are getting worse, not better.

AGW as Orthodoxy

The highpoint of the issue’s salience, in at least the Western world, was the two-year period from the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2007 to Al Gore and the IPCC, to the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate Conference at the end of 2009. The Conference itself was so large an event that it strained the resources of Denmark’s capital city, since it drew something like 25,000 people, who included many heads of state and prime ministers, including our own (the Australian delegation numbered 114), representatives from 194 countries, and battalions of reporters, television crews and commentators.

It was, at least in terms of the expectations that had been developed for its outcome, an almost comic flop. Its successor, in Cancun in Mexico late last year, hardly rated a mention in the mainstream media. A number of factors seem to have produced this dramatic decline. The most powerful was the plain fact that the developing countries would not curtail their own economic development by reducing greenhouse gas emissions unless the developed countries paid them generously to do so — and with respect to China and India, perhaps not even then. But the Western countries were and most still are in the grip of the Global Financial Crisis, and have neither the will nor the resources to provide much largesse at all. Their close attention has moved to deficits, unemployment and a feeble economy.

The second, in my judgment, was a growing feeling, around the political systems of the world, that the case against carbon dioxide, as the principal villain in all this, had been exaggerated and over-dramatised — that is, the arguments and evidence weren’t perceived, after all, to be quite as compelling as the AGW proponents had made out. If the case had been stronger there would have been less need for the continual denunciation of questioners or critics as ‘deniers’ attacking ‘science’. You can see something of this shift in public discourse: less talk of ‘combating climate change’, and more of the need for ‘energy efficiency’, a ‘clean energy policy’, and similar terms.

The third was a series of contemporaneous events that themselves cast doubt on the objectivity and adherence to scientific principles of the IPCC and its supporters. Shortly before the Copenhagen conference an enormous quantity of emails became available, either through whistle-blowing or through hacking, that purported to have come from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in England, a principal supplier of scientific information to the IPCC and to climate science generally. The emails did not make comfortable reading, since they showed scientists colluding to suppress inconvenient articles attacking their own work, acting to avoid FOI requests seeking data and code, and subverting the IPCC’s own rules about publishing. Within days it was plain that the emails were real. Three inquiries held to investigate what had actually happened in CRU, now commonly referred to as ‘Climategate’, purported to clear the scientists of any wrongdoing, but (in my opinion) none of these inquiries satisfies the ordinary tests of conflict of interest or thoroughness.

A fourth was a series of mistakes and gaffes that centred on the IPCC and its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007. Despite the IPCC’s claim that its reliance on peer-reviewed scientific work was gold standard, a close examination of the actual sources for much of the work cited showed that this was not so. Some of the cited work had in fact come from Greenpeace and the WWF. A claim in the AR4 that the Indian glaciers could melt by 2035 turned out to be both wrong and based on a journalist’s story. Another exaggeration concerned prospects for the Amazonian rain-forest.

Finally, despite the basic proposition that the world is warming up, and that the warming flows from human use of fossil fuels, the city of Copenhagen was assailed during the Conference by the worst snowstorm for a long time, and both the 09/10 and 10/11 northern hemisphere winters have been unusually severe. Some AGW proponents can be found to argue that these severe winters are due to climate change, but since climate change is due to global warming, one is thus forced to argue that that heating up causes cooling down, which is an awkward proposition to put forward to most audiences. The projections for global warming in the first decade of the 20th century set out in the IPCC’s third report (TAR) have in fact been much higher than actual observations, a fact which caused one of the ‘Climategate’ emailers, Kevin Trenberth, to write to his colleagues that it was a ‘travesty’ that the predicted warming had not occurred. In truth, since the highpoint of 1998, a spike associated to a large degree with Australia’s climatic friend and foe ENSO (the El Nino Southern Oscillation), whatever global warming has occurred since seems to have been subdued. Carbon dioxide continues to be added to the atmosphere, but warming has not climbed at the previous rate. The flooding we have experienced in the last six months is at odds with the orthodox forecasts of continued drought.

Put together, these events and their consequences seem to me to explain why people are less interested in AGW, and why the media have largely dropped the issue. Governments have generally followed suit. There has been, nonetheless, a continual counter-defence from the orthodox, who have always enjoyed support from the mainstream media, even if that support is less pronounced now, and from those parts of any government that have the task of ‘combatting climate change’, or monitoring it, or protecting the environment, and of course from the non-government organisations like Greenpeace, the WWF and the ACF, for whom AGW appears to be an article of faith.

AGW in the ‘blogosphere’

It seems to me that the AGW debate has shifted to, and is alive and well in, what is now called ‘the blogosphere’ — the set of websites all over the world interested in the issue. There are at least several hundred of them, and there may be thousands. Their readership is uncounted but, I would estimate, very large. It may be in the millions. Twenty years ago the world of what we now call ‘climate science’ hardly existed, and its output was confined to academic journals. The Internet and its astonishing spread have changed all that. ‘Peer-reviewed’ journals are still the locus of important published work, but by and large the peer-review process operates to support the orthodoxy (as it does in every field). The real debate takes place in the websites in response to published papers, and it is immediate. Long before a response to a given paper can go through the hoops of peer review, responses to peer critiques, deadlines, the backlog of publication, and all the rest, the paper to which it is a response may already have been completely dissected in many websites, and argument about its point, methodology and conclusions may have raged on within, and between, rival websites. Within ten years, I should think, Internet technology will have fundamentally changed the printed academic journal as we have known it since the 1880s.

Why does anyone take notice of what happens in cyberspace? Surely, you might say,  most of this is opinionated nonsense. Well, apart from the problems with the journal form, we should note that many of those who participate in website discussions are retired or otherwise active scientists and academics who are highly competent in their own fields, and able to comment sensibly on published work. They no longer have much interest in publishing themselves, and nor do they need to possess an alternative ‘theory’, but they find the intellectual game that is alive in the AGW domain interesting and even exciting. I share their view. Websites like Judith Curry’s ‘Climate etc.’ offer what is an extended and continuing seminar in every aspect of climate science, led by people who are not only able scientists but often excellent educators as well. In my judgment, what appears in our newspapers, radio or television about climate change is usually well behind what you can find on the web. I have no doubt that the main websites are read and studied by those in any government who have to provide advice.

I think that there are six more or less distinguishable positions in the AGW debate, with some religious outriders, and I list them each with a short explanation. I do my best to avoid labels, other than ‘supporters’ and ‘dissenters’ of what I call the AGW, or IPCC, ‘orthodoxy’.

Supporters of the AGW orthodoxy

 

1 Strongest The IPCC has raised the alarm. We must do something now, and that something is to get global agreement to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The science is clear, and now is the time to act. This is fact the orthodox or IPCC position.

2 Partial Support There is no doubt that adding more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere must increase the world’s temperature. But we don’t know yet how much extra warming there is likely to be.

3 Lukewarm support Adding more carbon dioxide will very likely increase the temperature, but there are other factors at work too, and the effect may well be pretty small, or even positive for some parts of the world. We need to know much more before we do anything.

Dissenters

4 Agnostic dissenters The orthodox arguments rely heavily on models and conjectures. AGW is plausible and possible, but we need real evidence before we do anything. In particular, we need to be able to distinguish AGW from natural variability. A little warming may be good for humanity, as it seems to have been over the past thirty years.

5 Sceptical dissenters Many sceptics are well informed about one or other aspect of the central AGW proposition, and can show difficulties with it; they tend to argue that the failure of the orthodox to satisfy them in these domains means that the whole AGW proposition is void.

6 Opponents AGW theory is just a scam, a sign that the Marxists have taken over the green movement, an attempt by some to construct world government, a conspiracy, a sign of lazy journalists, the effort of bankrupt governments to stay in power, etc. There is nothing to it.

The religious

 

Both sides have what I would call religious outriders, whose intervention in the debate seems to come from a religious or spiritual basis. There are many versions of both, and what follows is certainly simplistic.

7 Gaians The earth itself and everything in it contains a life-force, of which humans are only a part. It is morally wrong for human beings to attack that which gives them life and meaning. Gaians are supporters of the orthodoxy, and there are a few of them in Australia, as Dr Flannery appears to be, from his new book. A more familiar viewpoint says that God has given us the earth to serve as stewards rather than as owners. And try Revelations 11:18 for what happens to destroyers of the earth.

8 Fundamentalists Taking their cue from Genesis, fundamentalists believe that the earth was constructed for humans to ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion over every living thing’. In any case, God would not allow his own construction (the earth) to be despoiled. Fundamentalists are dissenters. This is a common position in the USA, but rare in Australia, at least in my experience

It needs to be said that Strong Supporters and Opponents can come to see all other positions as equally hostile to their own. It is common for a Strong Supporter to react to a simple question with a remark like ‘Hah! The usual tactic of a denier — ask a question that has been answered a hundred times!’ Opponents have appropriately scornful responses too. None of that helps understanding.

The points of division

Finally, what do they all argue about? Well, the first two AGW propositions depend on evidence — in particular, on temperature data. We only have instrumental measurements going back 150 years at best; thereafter we have to rely on proxies. At the moment rather more than 1000 thermometers cover the world, which is a big place (measuring temperature over the seas is an altogether different and worrying business). It is argued (and generally agreed) that the 20th century saw an increase of about 0.7 degrees in global temperature (which in any case is not a lot), but in my judgment the data are just awful, some seem to have been lost, and the proxies are even worse. Maybe the earth has warmed, maybe not; it doesn’t seem to have noticeably cooled, anyway. We know from historical evidence that parts of the planet have known warmer and cooler periods at times when there was unlikely to be much extra CO2 being added to the atmosphere by human activity. There is great debate about how much the earth has warmed, whether or not it is recovering from the Little Ice Age, and whether or not it was warmer in the mediaeval period. You can choose your position, and cherry-pick your data; there’s plenty of it. We will probably never know the extent to which the earth has ‘globally’ warmed, or what that means.

Proposition three, the role of carbon dioxide, depends on the physics of atmospheric radiative transfer, and while this is the most robust component of climate models, both in theory and experimentally, a great deal depends, in practice, on what is called ‘climate sensitivity’ — that is, how climate actually works and the role within it of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. To simplify: most participants, though not all, will accept that a doubling of CO2 would by itself produce an increase of about 1 degree C, but that outcome will be much affected by the role of the main greenhouse gases, water vapour and its manifestation in clouds. AGW proponents see water vapour as amplifying the warming caused by carbon dioxide, dissenters generally see the effect as a minimisation. There are plausible arguments both ways, and not much evidence. Here, as elsewhere, the orthodoxy makes great use of models (General Circulation Models, or GCMs), but dissenters argue that we know too little about climate for such models to produce anything more than that with which they were initially fed.

Such modelling underpins the last three propositions, too. Whether warming is going to be dangerous or beneficial for humanity and where it might occur, and what effects any warming would have on rainfall, or storms, or anything else, depend on the outcome of the models. Since the IPCC itself says that the current level of scientific understanding of some of the variables in the climate models is low or very low, it is not clear why we should take especial interest in what the models say. They do not ‘predict’, incidentally, but produce ‘scenarios’ or ‘projections’, on an ‘if…then’ basis. Scary ones usually make it to the media, which like scary stories. But we have had an awful lot of them in the last few years, and people have begun to hear Matilda crying ‘Fire’. (For those younger than me, Matilda is the subject of one of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, all worth reading.)

Conclusion

There is much more real debate now, in early 2011, than there was in 2007, when I began to read and think about the issue. Although my own position remains agnostic, I can see that the continued burning of fossil fuels is likely to warm the atmosphere, and that the consequences might in the longer run be a serious concern for our descendants. In time we will have a better understanding both of our climate and of our attempts to model it and to learn from that modelling. Until then, this complex issue will continue to trouble governments everywhere, for the AGW proposition persists, and will continue do so. It is not implausible, and it tells us that the future of humanity is at stake; that is a serious claim. People who have invested a lot of time and energy in their research or their advocacy do not give up easily. Nor do democratic governments, which are always constrained by what they have said and the decisions they have reached in the past. Nor do non-government organisations like Greenpeace and environmental groups generally — or concerned citizens. Passions run high in the AGW debate, and they will continue to do so until a new mega-worry emerges.  I said earlier that someone writing on Judith Curry’s blog offered the opinion that he could not remember an issue where the stakes were so high and the signal-to-noise ratio so low. I wish I had thought of that line myself.

Biographical notes: Don Aitkin, a former President and Vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, was the foundation Chairman of the Australian Research Council, twice a member of the Australian Science and Technology Council, and has been an adviser to the Canada Foundation of Innovation, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Committeee, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

267 responses to “An essay on the current state of the climate change debate

  1. A nice overview of the science, but hopelessly blinkered on the basic politics, ie that
    - political institutions have a huge vested interest in selling CAGW, and
    - it is they who are sponsoring the scientists who proclaim CAGW, outspending everyone else by a factor of thousands.
    So it’s more or less a rerun of tobacco companies sponsoring scientists who said that smoking poses no health risks, ie the sponsor gets the answer he pays for.
    Aitkin has simply failed to Follow The Money.

    • I couldn’t agree more.

      Follow The Money , and discover (in reverse order) how science is used as a tool of propaganda to control people . . .

      5. Al Gore, Maurice Strong and an international alliance of world leaders directing public research funds to manipulate:

      4. The US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society, the UN’s IPCC, and the International Alliance of National Academies of Sciences world-wide to order:

      3.Federal research agencies [NASA, DOE, NOAA, EPA, etc.] to ask for:

      2. Specific research findings [e.g., AGW, Hydrogen-fusion as the source of solar energy, oscillating solar neutrinos] in exchange for federal research funds, and finally:

      1. Pawns hiding and manipulating experimental data – purchased with public funds – to deceive the public about Earth’s heat source, the Sun [a,b].

      If testimony in the upcoming Congressional Hearings on the Climate Scam follows the money, they will find that participants in Climategate followed the template NSF, DOE and NASA developed soon after Eisenhower’s warning in his 1961 farewell address to the nation:

      “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

      “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

      “It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

      http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

      At stake is our democratic forms of government.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      a. “Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun”, Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144.
      http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

      b. “Neutron Repulsion”, The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011) 19 pp.
      http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

  2. “Why does anyone take notice of what happens in cyberspace? Surely, you might say, most of this is opinionated nonsense. Well, apart from the problems with the journal form, we should note that many of those who participate in website discussions are retired or otherwise active scientists and academics who are highly competent in their own fields, and able to comment sensibly on published work. They no longer have much interest in publishing themselves, and nor do they need to possess an alternative ‘theory’, but they find the intellectual game that is alive in the AGW domain interesting and even exciting.”

    This is an excellent point – the value of other ways of generating (and evaluating the state of) research, such as outlier research or heretic methods or asking leftfield (or unexpected) questions based on a wealth of experience is a great benefit to ALL disciplines and the expertise that is available online is a useful resource, which research centres and universities would do well to tap into. It should be seen as a valuable counterpoint (and complementary feedback process) to peer review.

    http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

  3. An excellent summary. This is an historic debate, on the scale of centuries. The Internet makes all the difference.

  4. It looks to be rather well balanced and objective and packed to the brim with detail.
    I will take issue that religious fundamentalism as described in 8 is not as common as suggested in the US. There is also a scientific version of the religious concept as well. That is with all the variables involved which have changed over the long term, the fact that we are here now is indicative of a highly stable system that, while not perfect, is not based upon a series of unstable equilibrium points and net postive feedbacks.

  5. Judith,

    He still has the opinion that the science is settled rather than an open mind to understanding this planet.
    Sticking strictly to temperature mathematics with no regard for any factors that can make up or change temperatures.

  6. The signal is that human culture is far more likely threatened by cooling than by warming, unless CO2 has a greater warming effect than has been yet observed.
    =============

    • kim: That’s one I don’t forget. The covering of much of the northern hemisphere with mile-thick ice sheets is a far greater catastrophe than almost anything ACC can come up with.

      The other day I read a quote from a climate scientist that even if we scale back CO2 to thus and such, temperatures wouldn’t drop for a thousand years. I thought to myself, “Is that a promise?”

      We are overdue for an ice age.

      • Heh, I’m just waiting for the ‘right, smart, guys’ to figure out that CO2 cools the earth. Hey, gotta cover all the bets with Koutsoyiannis making book.
        =============

      • That would be a more effective argument for decarbonizing. Now go propose a mechanism.

      • It would be the only one left if the globe cooled significantly. The only one leading to political power and control, anyway.

        Hey, there are lots of possible mechanisms if in fact overall feedback is negative in the CO2/climate sensitivity question. We’re just broaching biofeedback, which could be big, given that it has the potential for virtually irreversibly fixing the carbon from CO2, hiding energy even the deep oceans can’t.

        I’ve long said that the term ‘energy footprint’ is far more useful than ‘carbon footprint’. Watch the slavers following yours, soon.
        ==================

      • Ooh, and I do like that you think CO2 as a cooling agent lends stature to the argument for decarbonizing. We better figure out soon what it really does in our world, and not just in the laboratory. It’s about time.
        ==========

      • Kim,
        Carbon dioxide has now been proven to cool the earth. Joe Postma has just published his own analysis of the science after studying ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’ . It is another pristine debunk of the GHE but also proof that CO2 cools, not warms our planet. I urge you to have a read and become enlightened:
        http://www.tech-know.eu/uploads/Understanding_the_Atmosphere_Effect.pdf

  7. Judith,

    Climate science took the opinion that the “Runaway Greenhouse Effect” can occur on this planet from observed observation of other planets. Yet they do not include such factors as not having water, rotating MUCH slower to have a greater gravity of pull on gases due to much less centrifugal forces exerting out, closer to the sun, etc.
    It is an impossibility to have this effect due to the amount of water on this planet would not allow any heat to hit the planet surface if it were to all evaporate. The reflective light on water vapor is sadly under rated especially in massive quantities.
    The planet happens to be closer and further depending on the position of the planet in front of or behind the sun due to the mass of the sun in constant motion one way while this planet is being whipped around it.

  8. David L. Hagen

    Excellent overview Don
    Re: “Passions run high in the AGW debate, and they will continue to do so until a new mega-worry emerges.” Anti-coal passions are especially strong.
    However, may I encourage you to focus on the rapidly looming decline of light oil exports and the impact of that decline on the oil importing countries. See:
    Peak Oil Versus Peak Net Exports–Which Should We Be More Concerned About? Jeffrey J. Brown, Samuel Foucher, PhD, Jorge Silveus
    The Impending World Energy Mess Robert L. Hirsch
    For graphs see:
    Oilwatch Monthly August 2010
    Search for “export land” at TheOilDrum.com

    While conventional oil is depleting about 6.6%/year, light oil exports drop 10%/year or faster. How vast can alternatives be brought online? Not fast enough. Considering that importing economies will likely decline in proportion to the decline in available transport fuels, the impact on the economy Catastrophic AGW pales by comparison.

  9. A very good and fairly objective view of the debate. The only criticism (as a skeptic) I would point to is that he sort of glosses over the most significant flaw in the AGW theory :

    Proposition three, the role of carbon dioxide, depends on the physics of atmospheric radiative transfer, and while this is the most robust component of climate models, both in theory and experimentally, a great deal depends, in practice, on what is called ‘climate sensitivity’ — that is, how climate actually works and the role within it of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. To simplify: most participants, though not all, will accept that a doubling of CO2 would by itself produce an increase of about 1 degree C, but that outcome will be much affected by the role of the main greenhouse gases, water vapour and its manifestation in clouds. AGW proponents see water vapour as amplifying the warming caused by carbon dioxide, dissenters generally see the effect as a minimisation. There are plausible arguments both ways, and not much evidence. Here, as elsewhere, the orthodoxy makes great use of models (General Circulation Models, or GCMs), but dissenters argue that we know too little about climate for such models to produce anything more than that with which they were initially fed.

    The actual IPCC figure is 1.2°C (with an accuracy of ±10%) for a doubling of CO2 . In order to maintain that AGW is a threat you must show :

    1. What is the starting point temperature of this increase which we are working from? Pre -industrial levels is a pretty wide range of temperatures from which one can choose to begin, I would think

    2. You must show that past temperatures never reached this feedback “tipping point” which would lead to the so called “enhanced green house effect” upon which the entire theory depends.

    This is why it is so important for proponents of the theory to destroy the view that the MWP or any other historical period of warming was not real or global in nature. If previous periods of warming were both warmer and global in nature then why no “enhanced green house effect”? This is the true purpose behind the “Hockey Stick” to prove the unprecedented nature of modern warming is not just a scare tactic, it is absolutely necessary to maintaining the theory itself.

    Ironically the only AGW proponent who has been open and consistent about this simple fact is James Hanson:

    ” Carbon dioxide amount is already 385 ppm and rising about 2 ppm per year. Shocking corollary: the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.”

    Unlike most proponents he actually operates based upon the actual theory rather than the mishmash of modeling mayhem which climate science has become. I happen to disagree with his belief but I think he is both consistent and truly believes it.

    If the “orthodox” community would be open and honest about their own theory, I would be a bit more receptive. But they do not even explain the obvious simple flaws in their theory, they hide from it and distort their own theory in order to convince the public and policy makers of the rightness of their cause.

    http://jer-skepticscorner.blogspot.com/2010/02/kiss-please.html

    • Jerry, thanks for the link to your blog. Your point about the importance to the orthodoxy of eliminating the MWP (not to mention all the other WPs and ‘optima’) is interesting. I wasn’t clear how to comment on your blog tho’.

    • Jerry

      The actual IPCC figure is 1.2°C (with an accuracy of ±10%) for a doubling of CO2 .

      That’s Hansen’s figure.

      The one used by IPCC is based on Myhre et al.
      http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/222.htm

      alpha = 5.35
      for a doubling of CO2:
      ln2 = 0.6931
      5.35 * ln2 = 3.708 = radiative forcing of 2xCO2 in W/m^2
      Applying Stefan-Boltzmann:
      4 * 5.67E-08 * (255^3) = 3.768 W/m^2 °K
      3.708 / 3.768 = 0.98°K
      Which IPCC then rounded up to 1.0°K

      For the period 1750-2005 (CO2 increase from 280 to 379 ppmv)
      ln(379/280) = 0.3027
      radiative forcing = 1.0 * 0.3027 / 0.6931 = 1.66 W/m^2
      warming from CO2 (1750-2005) = 1.66 / 3.768 = 0.44°K

      Just a small point. The rest of what you wrote makes sense to me.

      Max

      • Thanks Max

        Your math is well over my head, I am just a simple carpenter. However my figure

        “1.2°C (with an accuracy of ±10%)”

        is copied directly from IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 (AR4) . The entire paragraph reads:

        If the amount of carbon dioxide were doubled instantaneously, with everything else remaining the same, the outgoing infrared radiation would be reduced by about 4 Wm-2. In other words, the radiative forcing corresponding to a doubling of the CO2 concentration would be 4 Wm-2. To counteract this imbalance, the temperature of the surface-troposphere system would have to increase by 1.2°C (with an accuracy of ±10%), in the absence of other changes

        Perhaps this is not the correct figure for the point I am trying to make, though I believe it is. I believe it is representative of the current IPCC science as communicated to the public and policy makers in order to explain the theory of global warming. Otherwise they would not have gone on to explain :

        In reality, due to feedback, the response of the climate system is much more complex. It is believed that the overall effect of the feedback amplifies the temperature increase to 1.5 to 4.5°C. A significant part of this uncertainty range arises from our limited knowledge of clouds and their interactions with radiation.

        The so-called water vapour feedback, caused by an increase in atmospheric water vapour due to a temperature increase, is the most important feedback responsible for the amplification of the temperature increase.

        This is the theory, if it is not then please advice what is. The math is for the scientist, but they do not get to decide the policy…..let us hope. Thanks for your information though

        Jerry

      • Jerry

        You’re right in saying that IPCC has also cited the 1.2C figure (I missed this, but this is not the only inconsistency in the 1000+ page AR4 WG1 plus Summary for Policymakers reports).

        I was referring to the SPM report, where IPCC lists the radiative forcing estimates of various anthropogenic and natural factors. There IPCC uses the estimate of Myhre et al., which ends up with a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 1.0C and a radiative forcing of 3.71 W/m^2. Adjusting this for the CO2 increase from 1750 to 2005 (per IPCC) gets you to 1.66 W/m^2, as reported by IPCC.

        So it looks like we are both right.

        Max

  10. Don Aitkin: Thanks for an excellent, even-handed overview.

    Would that climate scientists had managed the same objectivity and fairness. Although I peg at lukewarm — and therefore supportive of the orthodoxy — on your scale, I usually speak as a skeptic because of how poorly, in my view, the climate change scientists and their advocates have conducted themselves.

    You can see that such an attitude [that 'the science is settled'] leaves little room for discussion except about remedies.

    True to a point, but for the most part the only remedies being discussed are the wielding of political levers to set carbon targets to be achieved with little investigation of how disruptive the carbon solutions may be to societies, the reliance on unproven technologies — wind, solar, CCS — to scale as solutions, and the human cost in misery and lives posed by the solutions.

    • I, myself, feel that I fit the descriptions for all 2-5 on his scale (or mostly fit, at least), however if someone asked me without the descriptions I would say I was a 4 (slightly skeptical but feel there is too much ambiguity). Though it is interesting to scale it. I would like to see more statistics on where people fit on this scale instead of just do you believe or not. Not for any practical purpose but just general intrigue.

  11. In addition to leaving out political discussion for plausible enough reason, the author makes absolutely no mention of economics. At all. Which is curious, to me.

    The economics of the situation are to me plain.

    1. Whatever is described about the future is a prediction, and what is described about the future in terms of probability and uncertainty is the province of gamble (of benefit) and risk (of harm).

    There are fairly stable projected future events, for which the alternative probability and uncertainty are so low as to be almost entirely discounted from consideration, such as the exchange rate of long term bonds and the continued acceptance of well-established core principles of science.

    Outside of that relatively stable platform, such hypotheses as AGW — widely accepted by many though it may be — remain the area of Risk. As such, even the mere enunciation of a plausible hypothesis that is alternative to the ‘No/Lowest Risk’ hypotheses (status quo, or null hypothesis) increases the overall Risk level that must be considered by investors and other participants in the Market.

    Likewise with Gamble.

    There are so few, and so weakly beneficial Gambles as to not compell strong impact: there are the pro-CO2 likes of Idsos and Lord Lawson who argue that warming is good for agriculture and for the poor, that CO2 stimulates plant growth; there are the pro-fossil lobbies that argue that cheap fossil energy is good for the poor and for industry.

    No real investor of any depth of analysis will credit such bumpf and corporate communism, realizing that the pro-CO2ist arguments are so nonspecific and low-level as to be effectively valueless compared to their low odds of success and that the fossil-subsidizers have had a full century of industrial charity in the case of oil (and longer for coal) and that universally the subsidies drive up costs overall through taxes and lost opportunities far more than the benefit derived, thus this strategy is a demonstrably failed Gamble.

    So, at best no one is meaningfully gambling on the side of ACW dissent in the Market, except those vested interests in the fossil industry and their paid lobbyists and paid representatives in government. This forms a huge body feeding at the public trough, but does not persuade real investors.

    Risk, however, grows with every alternative hypothesis and every new study confirming that the lowest level Risk is not the likeliest case. Many of these Risks we can do little about — we’re not about to discover a thermostat for altering the output of the Sun or regulating tectonic and volcanic activities. One thing only in the area of climate Risk can we actively regulate: GHG emission.

    It isn’t the cost of what is going to happen, as we cannot know what is going to happen, but the cost of the Risk of what is plausible to happen that matters. That cost is high, and growing, and can be reduced by reducing GHG emission.

    Why don’t we?

    Shouldn’t the marketplace work properly to lead to this change?

    Normally, yes. Indeed, it now does. As investors consider the future, they discount the value of investment due to Risk. We all pay for the current position our governments take toward GHG emission in lower returns on investment, in higher inflation, in lower availability of jobs.

    If you want to increase wealth, decrease inflation and increase employment, you directly act to minimize Risk. Which our governments are not only failing to do, but also blocking by their action.

    In Capitalism, it is normal to treat scarce resources (that is, quantities that tend to stabilize the market, have limits, and provide utility) as goods. It is the role of government to make explicit this relationship in the Market, for example by backing a currency for common exchange, regulating banks to provide credit and savings, ensuring truth in marketing, setting standards for weights and measures.

    Government is failing in this role with regard to the GHG budgets — that set of indistinct ceilings that we have been breaking through or are racing toward by emitting more and more GHG — resource of our air.

    The GHG budget as determined by the planet’s photosynthesis level is a scarce resource being treated instead as a limitless commons. This GHG budget inherits from the air of which it is a characteristic the property that we all own it unextinguishably and separately, per capita. Government ought enforce our rights to this budget by charging a rent at the level of diminishing returns — I’ll get to the tax soon — and paying that rent to us all per capita.

    That is simple Capitalism, a system we know works best. Dr. Ross McKitrick has done considerable work on the benefits of something similar, though he says it far better than I and with greater rigor. These views are not easily dismissed in Economics, though there is of course dissent.

    On top of that rent, there ought also be a Pigouvian tax, perhaps.

    I’m a minarchist, and it is with greatest reluctance that I recommend a tax, even a carbon tax (as distinct from a carbon rent).

    However, we have a sweet tooth for fossil, brought on by over a century of failed experiment in subsidy of oil (and now ethanol) and we must break that habit by the strongest means to soonest return to a balanced and free market.

    That’s the sort of economic debate I’d have expected from a current-state-of-the-climate-change-debate.

    • David Wojick

      Your concept of economics is too strange for words, which is probably why it is not discussed.

      • David Wojick

        Then discuss your concept of economics.

        We’re all ears.

      • Then discuss your concept of economics.

        That’s not what this blog or this thread is about. Why do you keep trying to hijack the conversation?

      • Exactly. Posting essays as comments is a bad practice, not to be encouraged.

      • David Wojick

        Whereas drive-by snarking is valid and useful?

      • You are most welcome to join my Yahoo! group at http://www.climatechangedebate.org and explain and debate your minarchist position at length. We even have an economist or two.

      • David

        Your offer is kind; however, I find Dr. Curry’s blog sufficient to my needs, and am certain your members can find it if they wish.

      • Jim Owen

        I didn’t introduce economics to the climate change debate. Nigel Lawson and Ross McKitrick did, long ago.

        I didn’t introduce uncertainty to this blog, Dr. Curry did.

        If this blog isn’t about uncertainty and this thread isn’t about the longstanding issues in the climate, then I stand corrected.

        Otherwise, you seem off base.

      • Uh huh – and like Joshua with his DDT fixation, you keep banging the same drum without convincing anyone. IIRC, there was that definition of insanity……

        Not saying that you fail entirely to contribute to the conversation, but …….

      • Jim

        It’s not my position that remains the same without evolution, development, expansion to meet new information or include other ideas.

        It’s yours that appears incapable of growth, adaptation, or ultimately, survival.

        Which IIRC is the definition of extinction.

      • Economics and uncertainty were in this debate before your ken of them, Bart.
        =======

      • kim

        O sweet troubador. GI Joe of cicatrix and upside-down thumbnail were e’er more my metier than Barbie’s beau.

      • Nith, but neither rhyme nor reathon.
        =======================

      • kim

        Reason came first, as rhyme came up front.

        Would by word byplay prey weirdly were’d poorly prayer be?

      • Gibber and grin,
        Our mean men mien.
        =============

      • Sorry, Bart, but you’re obviously talking about someone else. I spent a lot of years playing Spaceman Spiff for NASA – and then some more years long distance hiking (like from Mexico t Canada and back). Both of those require extreme flexibility and a highly developed ability to learn.

        But keep on thinking of me as the village idiot – it makes it easier for me .

        It’s not my position that remains the same without evolution, development, expansion to meet new information or include other ideas

        Uh – you need to take another look in that mirror. It’s telling you what you want to hear. :-)

      • Jim Owen

        As you’re so flexible and such a learner, why not summarize the changes in your stance between when you began reading Judith Curry’s blog and now?

        Was NASA teaching gap analysis or something of the sort in your Spliffy days?

        It’s pretty easy.

        Just list the things you said or the opinions you held Day One, and the things you say and believe today, and subtract the first from the second to get the difference.

        Toss around some discussion of those new things you’d never heard of before the blog and your accept/reject process for them so we can see some ratios on adaptation relative to your flexibility from the first step.

        You sound like you believe in self-examination; surely you’ve been doing this exercise anyway, before throwing out the old mirror thing, so have the results easily at hand?

    • Bart
      Rarely, have I read as much well intentioned dribble written in one place. You confuse and try to blend science, risk and economics into a discussion, but unfortunately do it in a disjointed manner.
      Your belief that a carbon tax is appropriate is really based on two general assumptions.
      1. That releasing CO2 into the atmosphere is harmful to humanity to a greater degree than it benefits humanity, and
      2. That by implementing the proposed carbon tax that it will result in a sufficient reduction in CO2 emissions as to lower the temperature and thereby reduce what you believe will be harmful effects
      In regards to point #1, you agree that there is uncertainty on this issue, and I agree. I will not address this point as it is really unnecessary for the discussion.
      Regarding point #2 is where your position is flawed on multiple levels.
      1. Taxes are imposed by individual nations and not on a global level and there is zero reason to believe that all nations would implement such a tax scheme. A failure to have such a tax universally implemented will harm those nations implementing the tax and benefit those failing to do so or cheating on the implementation.
      2. There is no evidence to show that such a tax scheme will actually lower CO2 emissions to the degree necessary to impact planetary warming. You seem to believe that the general populace should accept higher taxes based upon your hope and beliefs and nothing more.
      When you write that “In Capitalism, it is normal to treat scarce resources (that is, quantities that tend to stabilize the market, have limits, and provide utility) as goods.
      You seem to completely misunderstand that the world does not have a singular capitalistic economic system nor do you seem to understand how capitalism works. Under capitalism scare resources simply become more valuable if they are in demand. This really does not apply to CO2.
      So in summary you seem to be suggesting that an individual country (let us say the USA as an example) should impose a carbon tax because you believe that CO2 will be harmful to the world climate.
      You are uncertain that the CO2 will be harmful, you are not sure that by imposing the tax that overall CO2 levels will be reduced enough to actually impact the climate by a measureable degree, you do not know what percentage of the rest of the world will implement a similar tax scheme, and you do not know how much such a tax will negatively impact the economy of the USA in comparison to other economies.
      All you seem to know is that you want to reduce CO2!

      • John Carpenter

        Rob, I have posed this same argument to Bart before and got nowhere. I liken the CO2 tax to a sin tax. Has a sin tax stopped smoking? How hyperinflated is the cost for cigarettes now due to sin tax? Who pays for the cigarette sin tax? (Hint, the people it is trying to save). Do third world nations have a sin tax on cigarettes? Why do indian reservations sell cigarettes so successfully? Why do people drive to neighboring states/countries to buy cigarettes where there is no tax or lower tax?

        Bart just doesn’t see the connection on this analogy either.

      • John

        I see the connection.

        I understand the leakage on the sin tax issue.

        But you use a false analogy.

        Suppose we had a law that said you could reach into any cash register, pocket, safety deposit box, vault or safe and scoop up a handful of cash any time you wanted?

        You’d pretty much have chaos within seconds.

        You’d avoid that sort of law. Does this stop the chaos and mayhem? Yes. Who pays for avoiding this total breakdown of society? Hint, everyone, but it’s worth it to have order and avoid free riders.

        Do third world countries have situations where robbery and piracy is rampant? Yes. Just look at Somalia.

        Suppose you had neighbors who allowed scooping up of cash in like manner? Would people drive out of states and countries where they would be subject to wholesale theft?

        The revenue-neutral carbon tax with per capita disbursements is simply putting an end to theft.

        The Pigouvian, or sin taxes, on top of the revenue-neutral carbon tax is another issue. I’m still undecided on that, which is a serious thing for a minarchist to say, but we’re in a serious state of fossil sweet-tooth habit that needs breaking after so long.

      • Comparing a “sin tax” on something like cigarettes to a potential “carbon tax” is inappropriate.

        A tax on cigarettes can be defended because economically a government can and has measured the cost of medical care that is being provided to those individuals that get health issues related to the behavior of smoking. The cause and effect in terms of the health issues and the cost to treat those issues has been repeatedly demonstrated in numerous studies. Ultimately, the government determines that it is more cost efficient to discourage people from smoking than it is to treat those same people.

        A carbon tax DOES NOT have the same type of data available to support its implementation. The harms of CO2 are potential and not proven. The harms of CO2 (or additional warming) are absolutely not determined for individual countries and that is the level at which a tax would have to be implemented. Does it make any sense for a country that would benefit from a warmer climate (or at least not be harmed overall) to discourage the behavior?

      • John Carpenter

        Good point.

      • Along with a tax on CO2, lets put a tax on poverty. The poorer you are, the more the tax should be. This will encourage people to stop being poor and become rich. This will eliminate the evils that come with poverty such as crime and social welfare costs.

        A tax on Co2 will be equally as effective. Poor people cannot simply go out a buy new cars, so the tax will simply make them poorer, less able to take advantage of improved technology.

        Rich people will be largely unaffected by the tax and will still be able to buy new technology regardless of any CO2 tax. The will buy the new car because it is new, not because of any CO2 tax.

        Therefore, we would be much better off making sure that people are rich to make sure they can afford new technology, rather than making poor people even poorer so they will be stuck with old technology.

      • Re: individual countries etc

        Yes, this explains why the UN IPCC and other lobbyists for world government / governance line up behind it.

      • Rob Starkey

        No. No. No. No.

        You miss the point entirely.

        You don’t need to assume harm in CO2.

        You merely need a statement of potential harm in CO2 to ascribe Risk.

        That’s it. That’s all.

        No final proof. No hard and incontrovertable evidence. No indisputable hypothesis. No smoking gun. None of these are necessary.

        All conditions to consider the cost of Risk are sufficiently met.

        Do you need to wait for a drunk to crash his car?

        Most drunks don’t crash most times they drive.

        The hypothesis is, “the crash will happen.” The probability and uncertainty discuss the when and how serious only.

        Everything you say you stand on its head as special pleading in the Risk Analysis of CO2, apparently because you love CO2, or don’t understand Risk Analysis.

        As for my faith in Capitalism, once again, I ask, what if you don’t believe in Capitalism, do you think is better? Regulation? Central planning?

        We have a best mechanism, and a single variable to control. This should not be that hard for you to grasp.

      • By no stretch of the imagination is our Bart a minarchist or capitalist at heart, and his attempt at economic analysis certainly has a very high noise-to-signal ratio (perhaps the demon alcohol was implicated?), so let me attempt a summary:
        There is a risk that CAGW is true, therefore we need to act as if it is true; ‘Risk Analysis’.

      • I am though curious to know what these alleged subsidies for fossil fuel are.

      • Punksta

        You have it wrong.

        Higher CO2 levels increase Risk, no matter what else is true or believed to be true.

        They take us to territory uncharted for over ten million years, which as anyone who has ever traveled someplace undiscovered knows carries its own uncertainties and terrors, even if the mildest and most benign new ground.

        All this interest in the science, though it’s really neat-o keen stuff I’m sure, amounts to a hill of beans to the real issue.

        What are the alleged fossil subsidies?

        Wow.

        Where to begin?

        The billions of direct federal subsidies to ethanol, fossil fuels, and fossil fuel-derived hydrogen every year in the USA, an amount that dwarfs any money spent on alternatives or on AGW or on, I dunno, research into actual tax reduction?

        See, I’m quite happy to see nothing spent on AGW by the government at all, so long as individuals pay for what they get. They get a share of the GHG budget, the power of photosynthesis to churn CO2 out of the air after they emit it by burning fossil fuels. They ought, by basic capitalism, pay for that benefit at the time they incur it, so they know what it costs them and can choose to exercise ordinary thrift from that knowledge.

        Being impoverished by someone else’s government-sponsored ignorance, how good does that feel?

        That’s the real subsidy.

      • Bart R,
        In what way does CO2 increase risk?
        Please use facts this time, and not arm waving.
        TIA,

      • So you don’t allege subsidies to oil/gas/coal then, the focus of the whole CO2 theme.

      • Bart
        You did not seem to read my post. I excluded the assumption of “harm” and showed that your tax scheme was economically unsound for an individual country to implement. It would harm the country that implemented it, while not providing any measureable benefit.

        I would agree that there could be a measureable benefit in terms of increased revenue for the government, but even that is dependent upon exacts how the proposed tax was to be implemented. Generally, a carbon tax has a high administrative cost to implement as compared to other means of revenue capture approaches, so it is an inefficient means for a government to raise funds.

        This issue has nothing to do with pure capitalism. Your analysis in that area is completely incorrect.

      • Rob Starkey

        As you seem to think your points are worth addressing, let’s address them, such as they are.

        “.. failure to have such a tax universally implemented will harm those nations implementing the tax and benefit those failing to do so or cheating on the implementation.”

        This of course is false.

        As the economic benefits (or to use Ross McKitrick’s term, ‘dividends’) of a revenue-neutral carbon tax accrue directly to economies employing this measure, in terms of reduced tax distortions and increased democracy of the market, better individual decisions and increased tastes for new technology and investment in advancing technology, it’s the leaders who benefit, not the laggards.

        There’s no winning by hanging back in this. You’re thinking of those other schemes that you keep hearing about from alarmists.

        “So in summary you seem to be suggesting that an individual country (let us say the USA as an example) should impose a carbon tax because you believe that CO2 will be harmful to the world climate.”

        No. I believe the USA should impose a revenue neutral carbon tax because it’s good for America, and good for Americans.

        This has little to do immediately with what’s ‘good for the world’, and the benefits of reducing CO2E, while real, are in the short run secondary to the benefits to the market. America was built on Capitalism, not on cheap fossil energy, no matter what the propaganda of business charity promoters say.

        You speak of increased revenue to the government; however, my ‘tax-scheme’ doesn’t direct revenue to the government, but to the people. As it increases the size of the market by including the CO2E budget as a new economic resource explicitly, it grows the GDP, thus makes government as a fraction of GDP overall smaller.

        Your analysis is backwards, and shows no grasp of the proposal or its implications.

      • Bart

        You economic points are wrong. If country “A” has your tax and country “B” does not; then the goods of country “B” will be less expensive and more easily sold as compared to those of country “A”.

        Your posts have become non-sense and not worth responding to any longer as they have no basis in reality on the topic of economics.

      • Rob Starkey

        I liken your argument to the Protectionist argument for import tariffs and quotas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectionism); both are wrong for the same obvious reason — comparative advantage.

        The right thing to do for an economy is the right thing to do for it in these cases regardless of whether others jump in first.

        Indeed, as the economy experiences cumulative advances, those who start soonest benefit most.

        Free trade is the right answer for international trade, even if unilateral; revenue-neutral carbon tax with per capita returns is the right answer for CO2E, even if unilateral.

        Sure, there are socialist cases that can be constructed against free trade; many ‘outward greens’ (as some label-lovers like to call ‘that side’) use exactly those arguments against free trade. Are you on the socialist side on free trade, too?

        A revenue-neutral carbon tax is better for the economy.

        It makes the economy stronger. Even if unilateral.

        Unlike the free trade case, the comparative advantage of a revenue-neutral carbon tax does not count on full employment, though it does tend to increase employment without increasing inflation. Even if unilateral.

        Revenue neutral carbon taxes do not increase flight of capital; imports gain no advantage because they too are taxed.

        The highest technology and best jobs are the ones least dependent on CO2E in general, and most CO2E-intensive applications are not really practical for dislocation.

        Overall, the shifts in economies will be positive for these reasons too, further invalidating the protectionist case.

        Indeed, it also tends to reduce inflation. Even if unilateral.

        Unlike corporate taxes, hitting at the level of a VAT, a full revenue-neutral carbon tax that taxes imports too will reach outside national borders by giving consumers the one truest basis for deciding between local and foreign goods – fair price. Which I am confident in America will tend to favor American goods and American jobs, and in any case will always favor American consumers.

        How will other countries avoid the lures of improved employment, reduced inflation, lower government spending relative to GDP, and the pressure of a populace demanding their governments stop CO2E free riders from stealing from them when they see people being paid hundreds of dollars annually in countries with revenue-neutral carbon taxes?

        Oh, and it will help kick the legs out from under the platform of world-government types by demonstrating a superior solution that minimizes regulation and hands more democratic decision power to individual buyers, Punksta.

        So tell me again why you favor stealing the fair price we all own in CO2E from all of us?

      • Give him time, please. Eventually he’ll get to the bit about how it needs world government.

      • Just like to mention that if we eliminate CO2 all the animals,including us,would NOT KNOW TO BREATHE,end of story

  12. Judy – Don Aitkin’s essay starts with a reference to “the debate tonight”. Since in the Denizen’s thread, he describes himself as “deeply sceptical of the notion that ‘combating climate change’ is either possible or a sensible approach”, I assume that other “debate” participants expressed a less skeptical view . Don himself, while clearly well-informed and well-intentioned, is not intimately familiar with the science, and I also wonder, therefore, whether other participants approached the subject from more of a scientific perspective. Would it be possible to read some of the other perspectives that Don was responding to? It is not clear whether this entailed a “debate” in the sense of an exchange at a given time and place among multiple participants, or a “debate” in a larger sense among multiple views expressed on different occasions regarding Australian climate policy, but in either case, a range of perspectives would be valuable.

    • Good questions. I can’t find any sign of this debate on the web other than Don’s piece.

    • It appears that Don Aitkin’s debate adversary was Andrew Glikson, a paleoclimatologist. His essay has not been published yet, and so we have only one “side”of the issue (I put “side” in quotation marks because climatology is a multifaceted topic). Some of Glikson’s views have been presented elsewhere, and from those I have gathered that the debate was actually between two strong partisans – Aitkin on the highly skeptical side, and Glikson on the “science is settled” side. Having read both authors, and aware of some of the science, I also believe that Glikson comes across as better informed, but also more strident, while Aitkin’s presentation is far more reasonable in style.

      The result of all of this is that partisans will see their own champion as unbiased and the other participant as extreme. It also emphasizes the fundamental inadequacy of debate formats, where style often trumps substance when the audience, however intelligent, is not privy to expert knowledge of the topic, and where finding errors in an adversary’s presentation often assumes greater importance than that person’s overall understanding of the material. In this case, I have found what I believe to be multiple error of fact on the part of both adversaries, as well as a tendency for each to select evidence favorable to his own position, while neglecting evidence that works in the other direction. That type of adversarial format may work reasonably well in an extended legal trial with multiple witnesses testifying for many dozens of hours, but I don’t believe it can provide an accurate perspective on complex scientific issues based on an hour or two of presentations by partisans.

      • Fred M: As I understood the essay, Aitkin wasn’t taking a side so much as attempting to present, as neutrally as possible, all sides.

        I thought it was clear that Aitkin, although he has a side, wasn’t trying to pitch his side. He was trying to open a clearing in which the different sides could be understood in relationship to each other and some of the history of their debate.

        Of course to the AGW orthodox, anyone who presents any view not slavish to the orthodox position has taken a side against orthodoxy. So in that sense, Aitkin’s essay could be called a “side.”

      • My point is that those who agree with the skeptic position that Don Aitkin assigns to himself are likely to see his view as “fair and balanced”, while those who agree with Glikson will see Aitkin as strongly partisan. In that sense, his essay strikes me as something of a litmus test for readers. I could cite examples from each of them to illustrate the point, but I suspect anything that I cite as “partisan” from either one will be interpreted differently according to the reader’s existing views on the subject.

        Objectively, I believe Don Aitkin’s essay will be perceived as more convincing than what I’ve read from Glikson, even though I think Don misinterprets the science and the history in a way that is tilted toward support for his opinions (not deliberately but simply as a matter of personal subjectivity). It’s more convincing, though, because his style comes across as objective and fair-minded – in other words, his presentation is more skillful. Whether the content is accurate can’t be derived from the style but requires a detailed knowledge of the actual evidence.

      • Reading between your lines, I detect (perhaps erroneously) a desire that some of the positious defined ought not be represented at all. All positions are legitimate, with only intermediate and more extreme ones missing.

      • Fred M: I would find it helpful if you would support your assertions.

        How is Aitkin’s essay “strongly partisan”? How do you know that you are not strongly partisan in your assessment of Aitkin’s essay?

        I understand Aitkin himself is a some kind of skeptic. But his essay was not a brief for the skeptic position.

        I would very much like to see you or your colleagues attempt to write a version of Aitkin’s essay. Other than from Dr. Curry I have yet to see an attempt at such neutrality from the orthodox.

      • Huxley – I think it’s important to define the two “sides”. One extreme is that the “science is settled”. The other extreme (the extreme skeptic position) is that it’s very unsettled and uncertain – far too uncertain to warrant vigorous action at this point. It is NOT a skeptic position to assert that the science is “wrong”, but rather that important elements are controversial.

        The distinction is important because great “uncertainty” is used as a justification for inaction, whereas high certainty requires urgent action. Seen in this light, I interpret Don Aitkin’s position as very much toward the side of “uncertainty”. I don’t begrudge him his views, which are sincere, but it would be inaccurate in my view to conflate “uncertainty” with “balance”.

        Regarding your other point, I would not attempt to write Don’s essay for him, but I am always interested in discussing individual elements of climate change from my perspective as a scientist with some understaning of the details. I would add that I would be more hesitant to argue the economics because that is way outside my comfort zone, but I’m interested to hear from Don that a carbon tax seems to be in the offing. From my naive perspective as a non-economist, that seems to make sense.

      • Fred, where if anywhere do you find Aitkin unbalanced?

      • The talk took place at Manning Clark House on 22/3/11. Aitkin’s paper is at http://www.manningclark.org.au/html/Paper-Aitkin_Don-The_debate_over_Anthropogenic_Global_Warming.html . Glikson’s paper does not yet appear on the site.

        I have a very high regard for Aitkin, whom I have encountered several times (though not recently), and I think he has made a good job of summarising the issues and arguments; while appreciating points made by Punksta, Oliver K. Manuel, Jerry, huxley and Fred Moolten. Aitkin is not a climate science specialist but is a clear thinker who, I would think, would not have an axe to grind on this issue. He must be somewhat constrained by working for left-wing governments which have placed their political future on the scarey side of AGW and successful actions to reduce emissions even at high economic cost.

        FYI, Manning Clark was a very left-wing historian, given medals by Stalinist USSR as an “agent of influence,” and I would assume that MC House is of a very leftist persuasion. This might affect who they invite to speak, here we have the always-fair non-climate-scientist Aitkin against Glikson of the ANU Climate Change Institute, though I don’t know his views.

      • Fred M: First let me say that I consider you a good, thoughtful guy. I appreciate your efforts in this forum as the only mainstream climate scientist to continue regular contributions.

        Nonetheless I must say I find your post somewhat shocking. I feel like I’m hearing Eldridge Cleaver announce, “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

        The mischief is embodied in your initial assertion: “I think it’s important to define the two ‘sides’. ” The problem here is that it is easy to define two or more sides — indeed Aitkin defined eight — yet for you there are only “two sides” and not any two sides, but a very specific two sides: the orthodox “the science isn’t settled but it really is settled and we have to start taking action right now” side and … everyone and anyone else who doesn’t thread that needle as required by the orthodox.

        That’s my problem with the orthodox. They appear to be and act as True Believers. They have their Answer and for them everything funnels down to that answer. I notice that all the mistakes, shenanigans and misconduct always fall in line with that Answer.

        Under these circumstances it’s hard for me to trust the climate change orthodoxy.

      • Fred,
        While uncertainty can be used incorrectly to slow action, in many cases certainty is falsely claimed to justify taking rash action.
        AGW in the public square is an example of the latter.

      • Fred Moolten 3/28/11 7:55 pm

        When you partitioned the debate with one side resolved that “science is settled”, you instantly ended the debate. Victory goes to the opposition. It doesn’t even matter that the field happens to be climate.

        First some background. You say in your Denizen bio,

        Based on my comparison between published papers in climatology and challenges in the blogosphere, I will go further and state that to me, it is evident that one cannot become an adequate judge of climate science through expertise in a different discipline, with “different” to include engineering, statistics, model construction in a different field, and computer programming. Examples on the Web of inappropriate application of principles from these field to climate science appear in my view to outnumber the appropriate applications.

        This view supports climatologists’ view that they enjoy a closed community. It is, to use a term familiar to you, the Petri dish for dogma. It is the antithesis of the old saw that the best disinfectant is sunshine, to use another term from your field. It is the origin for the ad hominem that a mere doubter is not qualified to question the proceedings. It is, in the last analysis, arrogant, and, of course, wrong.

        Perhaps adequate</em is the operative word in the Moolten exclusion principle. But let me observe that each of these fields, and even your own field of medicine, is obedient to a couple of higher authorities, in particular science, knowledge, and ethics. Specialists in your blogger fields should have acquired some knowledge about those higher authorities, at least adequate to judge climatology in the appropriate context. Further, let me observe that climatology, like most other fields, draws from other fields. Climatology has explicitly relied on control system theory for its foundations in feedback, which, by the way, IPCC thoroughly abused. Climatology has also drawn from chemistry, physics, systems science, and oceanography. I would be surprised if you contend that a chemist would be unqualified to criticize the chemistry in climatology. To the extent that climatology has drawn from these other fields, it is vulnerable not only to an adequate critique, and not just to peer-review, but to a criticism from the standpoint of a superior. Climatology is a child of science, and a wayward one at that.

        So, the first point I would draw from science is that science is never settled. Perfection is unachievable. Science is about as settled as the San Andreas Fault. Such a notion should have been dispelled in public school, if only public schools had a meaningful program to instill basic science literacy. Hence, the Pro in your debate loses before the clock starts.

        A corollary of the settled non-principle is that science is never about the forming of a consensus. It is all about models with predictive power. An infinity of flat-Earthers to whom to a man the matter is settled do not get to out-vote one Aristotle.

        Observing from scientific principles, science is about models of the real world. Models can be graded, from conjectures, to hypotheses, then to theories, and if ultimately successful, to laws. (Going back to the previous point, even laws, as the ultimate quality for scientific models, are never settled. Prime example: the restriction of the domain of Newton’s Laws imposed by Relativity, a mere theory at that.) Advancement along these grades progresses according to completeness in the domain, predictions, validation, and again completeness in the realm.

        Now consider an even higher authority, ethics. First, a model should not be used to alarm the public, and never to affect public policy. Furthermore, a model lacking validation should never be used to affect public. Validation means that a non-trivial prediction from the model has been satisfied with fresh facts. The AGW model does not fit all the data in its domain, limiting it to a conjecture. It also makes no non-trivial prediction for validation, which again limits it to less than a hypothesis. (In fact, it has been invalidated, thanks to work beyond climatology, and is no longer even a scientific model, except, of course, to the Believers hanging on. Science does not accommodate belief systems, either.) Realization of a significant validation is a principle criterion for a theory. So the larger the uncertainty, the lesser the model, and the less it should be used for public action.

        Another applicable principle of science is an axiom of science: every fact and every prediction has an error, a zone of uncertainty. Here the argument threatens to stray from science, the objective branch of knowledge, into the subjective. It hinges on the word, non-trivial. I leave it to the statisticians among us to wrest that back into the objective domain. Consider that one can make a climate model, one soundly based on the paleo data, as uncertain as they may be, that the climate will lie between -10ºC and +3ºC for millennia. That can be refined to predict that climate rise and fall between those extremes at specific rates in saw tooth fashion. This is easy to validate, but it’s almost as trivial as the prediction that the Sun will soon rise. The prediction needs to have a small enough uncertainty range to be somehow useful and meaningful.

        When the uncertainty in a model is considered large, it is subject to challenge at every juncture and from every sphere. The model quickly becomes unbalanced and unsuitable for public policy.

        Resolved: AGW exists.

        I rise to speak authoritatively for the negative.

      • If the [AGW] case had been stronger there would have been less need for the continual denunciation of questioners or critics as ‘deniers’ attacking ‘science’.

        I think Aitkin hits the nail right on the head here. When I started reading about AGW for myself and going to AGW sites, I was struck by the strident, even vicious, tones of the orthodox, and their forceful efforts to squelch debate.

        In my experience that’s not how rational people holding the high cards in a debate behave. That’s the behavior of people who are either bluffing or are so authoritarian that they are incompatible with open democratic society.

      • I also find the AGW sites to be strident to say the least. And I consider this to be one of the most tragic circumstances on the blogsphere. I, as someone who is skeptical, try to read more pro-AGW blogs than others to try to avoid a confirmation bias. However, the pattern of harsh criticism towards skeptics in place of what should be careful explanations makes it difficult for me to finish articles on such sites.

        Personally, I would think that AGW sites would try to be geared towards convincing skeptics and vice-versa, and thus try to minimize potential insults, but I guess this doesn’t really draw in the readers (Kudos to Judith for making everyone feel welcome!).

      • huxley,
        My experience was similar. I was very accepting of AGW throughout the 1980′s and well into the 1990′s.
        Then I found out that Enron was a major backer of carbon markets.
        I started reading what Hansen said and Gore’s efforts to popularize and politiicize AGW. I started noticing that the opinion leaders were circular, arrogant and evasive. I started wondering if CO2 is so dangerous how we could have survived so long. I started noticing that the AGW community was much moreinterested in selling the story than in laying out the facts.
        Then I looked at the evidence. Huge conclusions drawn from evidence that was not meaningfully outside the margin of error. Claims that failed the test of history. A constant ratcheting up of doom with no actual changes in anything.
        This and much worked to convince me that AGW is not really about CO2 as a ghg, but is a social movement using CO2 obsession.

  13. John F. Pittman

    The article by Don Aitkin is excellent, however, I do agree about there was a missed opportunity to discuss the energy problem as related to policy. When Don was talking about Copenhagen and Cancun, he left it as though, it is simply an economic bump that caused the falling out. Though true in the short term, there is a greater economic danger if the future which is energy infrastructure.

    For infrastructure, I do not mean just the physical inventory of structures, but the incremental nature of physical investments. An example is that you do not replace a car if the muffler is going bad, when the rest of the car is serviceable. Yet, with the AGW policy proposals, not only are we going to use energy sources that either do not work (biofuels) or work rather poorly (wind), at the same time we are getting rid of usable, paid for, and maintainable sources of energy. I would maintain that we as humans have never done something of this scale, and failure would be likely.

    The point is that it is envisioned we have a command down system that historically has shown its ineptitude for producing and maintaining a global economy. The model that is used is the SO2 program. However, this is both an extrapolation of the model in size and complexity, and the model is violated since the SO2 program was largely, if not totally, successful because of low-cost alternatives, which do not exist for energy production.

    An example is that in the US if one wanted to build a nuclear plant at this time, it would be about 2018 before it would come on-line. After the Japanese nuclear problems, it may be longer. In my state, an electric company wanted to build 2 nukes to replace aging coal. The word in environmental circles is that it is opposed by the regulatory agencies, both state and federal. However, everyone is clamoring for the coal plants demise. With friends such as these, who needs enemies? So, one of the main problems is that government policy makers do not appreciate the time, nor money it takes to do large scale energy production, or they are misrepresenting the case.

    In which case, the Climategate spectacle may be a drop in the bucket compared to the outrage of the public when brownouts occur. And although, perhaps many should have replaced that old technology, many of the public have not. This means that there are many appliances and other failures waiting to happen, that we will be hard pressed to deflect the valid consternation of those we will be asking to pay much more for energy, and proceed to destroy what they do have by our lack of planning. Not to mention, the problems in running a household with undependable energy.

    Nor is the most probable outcome that in order to reduce costs, consumers will be using energy saving avoidance that will almost certainly be put upon the wives of the families with an inappropriate amount of the suffering by the poor for whom energy is most costly and most beneficial. Between the costs, the brownouts, and increase in objectionable (by the public)suffering and results, I wonder if the author and policy makers have discussed what is actually being proposed.

    • Between the costs, the brownouts, and increase in objectionable (by the public)suffering and results, I wonder if the author and policy makers have discussed what is actually being proposed.

      John F. P.: Excellent points. My impression is that those involved with climate change have not thought through the consequences of widespread adoption of the climate change agenda.

      I think they considerably overestimate the effectiveness of conservation, solar, wind and other approaches to reduce CO2 while underestimating the havoc and suffering these measures will entail.

      • Precisely. And when this does hit the windmill, they’re going to be saying that it’s because we didn’t spend enough money, and put the right smart people in charge.

      • Yes, money changes everything. The science is kaput, the politics is suspect; it’s only the finances that keep this train roiling down the tracks. It’s a bubble, folks; just how long before it bursts, even kim doesn’t know.
        ===========

      • I think a lot of people already lost a lot of money on carbon chits. So where’s all the smart money going these days? Oil?

      • Yes, same as always.

      • You mean ‘Same as it always was. Energy running underground’.
        =====================

      • er, that should be ‘Same as it ever was. There is energy underground’. Hey, hunter, embrace Petrobras, and be squeezed to death.
        ==========

      • kim,
        What a nice little memory.

      • It never left. Black gold will eventually own all the gold. We’re reading new coin slots so our pumps can accept Krugerrands.

      • “Between the costs, the brownouts, and increase in objectionable (by the public)suffering and results, I wonder if the author and policy makers have discussed what is actually being proposed.”

        A friend of mine made a very interesting observation yesterday about “earth hour”. He said “all it would take to convince folks that nukes and coal power were fine would be to have an “earth week”. By the time Sunday rolled around, and everything in your freezer had rotted, every politician in the US would fear for their lives if they didn’t act to make cheaper energy happen. Just a thought.

      • And hold it in January in the North, and July in the South.

        How soon we forget what happened on the West Coast in 2000. California was sucking the entire western grid dry including Canada. It cost the Governor his job. In Washington State, they were renting every trailer-mounted diesel generator they could get their hands on. People really, really don’t like it when the lights go out, and when they do, Gaia can go pound sand.

        But it’s all forgotten now.

      • That is the way most people are. They only see what is right in front of them. They do not take the time to look back or look into the future.

        In a good economy, people don’t actually pay attention to what is being planned. They don’t care that a politician has said that they want to increase the cost of energy so that the country will be more “green”. Mostly because most politicians are full of hot air.

        It is not until it actually happens do people actually wake up from the day to day rat race and when they do, the politician who thought they had support for their energy policy will find that support replaced by anger and outrage.

        You see it all the time. People vote for certain politicians, the politicians enact what they promise, and the people realise the bad situation and either vote the person out or move. The most interesting thing is that given a little bit of time and that same person will start wanting the same policies that upset them to begin with. They rationalize it as “It’s a good idea, so and so just did not do it right” instead of “oops that idea is just wrong”.

      • What bothers me is that a well managed utility has life cycle costs for all of its equipment budgeted, and rates reflect that. then everything gets replaced when the time comes. I’m afraid that what’s happening in a lot of places, is the utilities commissions play to populist politics, and refuse to allow proper charges for future expenses, so the replacements and upgrades don’t get built. Everybody’s happy until something goes wrong.

        Then we get the infrastructure brigade saying that we need to rebuild the “national electrical grid”. If the right funds were allocated all along, this wouldn’t be an issue. But the same government that forced the utilities to not properly budget for replacement comes along and promises to pay for their capital improvements in the name of “infrastructure” and “smart grid”.

        That is what you call a self-fulfilling prophesy.

      • This is a major issue in Australia, where the economy is highly dependent on coal-fired power stations (and coal, ore and metals exports). We are already heading for a crisis, as no one will invest in new coal-powered capacity or expensive maintenance of existing plants because of the uncertainties with anti-coal government policies. There have been sharp rises in electricity prices already because of mandated 20% renewable sources (but we ban even thinking of nuclear).

        It has been argued that if the proposed carbon tax goes ahead, the impact on expected earnings of coal-fired power plants will be such that they will not be able to cover debt repayments and will technically be in default, with the prospect of closure or heavy losses on fire sales. In this environment, no one will invest, and brown-outs are inevitable.

      • Faustino –
        they will not be able to cover debt repayments and will technically be in default, with the prospect of closure or heavy losses on fire sales. In this environment, no one will invest, and brown-outs are inevitable.

        Watch who buys them out. Take any bets on the government? Or maybe the politicians – who could then lift the carbon taxes and own a relatively profitable business?

        I’ve seen that happen in the US.

  14. An excellent summary i think. He misses a lot of the critical minutae, though one could hardly expect him to fit everything into one essay.

    Thought it was well balanced and made good reading. It’s certainly got me thinking about my position on his ‘scale’- which can only be a good thing (always good to test ones own position occasionally).

  15. This is the most respectful review of the issue yet.
    He misses the bear in the room: the vast amounts of money that AGW promoters are getting to promote AGW.
    He misses the dog that is not barking: the lack of any unusual weather/climate crisis.
    But at least he is not calling skeptics denialists, and he does admit that there are shades and degrees of belief on all sides of this quagmire.

    • Barking dog:

      http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eos_homepage/for_scientists/data_products/OurChangingPlanet/PDF/Page_283_new.pdf

      Why is this bad?

      http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states

      Growing season gets longer, frost dates hardly move.

      Plant early to take advantage of longer season? Get spanked by late spring frost.

      Plant late? Get punished by early fall frost.

      Allergenic pollen-sources, weeds and vermin, however, tend to be frost-hardier than cash crops and only gain an advantage.

      Woof. Woof.

      • And the attribution of this to CO2 is…………in the minds of the faithful.
        More of a mewling toothless dog, Bart R.

      • hunter

        Attribution is all that is necessary for the cost of Risk to increase.

        So long as the attribution is no less valid than any other working hypothesis, indeed the presence of any working hypothesis other than the one with the lowest Risk, the cost of Risk is driven up and will be paid for one way or another.

        Even non-AGW hypotheses that include increased Risk make the case for lowering GHG emission, not because there’s successful attribution but because lowering GHG emissions lowers Risk.

        Of course, if you don’t understand how to handle dogs, one could see why you wouldn’t see this plainly.

      • Bart,
        Ah yes, risk. What is the marginal increase in risk over doing nothing? With no reduction in GHG and any ‘projected’ warming, risk does not go to zero. Bad weather events will still happen. Does perceived risk equate to certainty of increase cost? Is the cost of that GHG reduction less than the cost speculatively introduced by that theoretical increase in risk?

        Risk is uncertainty of outcome. Does certainty of destroying world economies and increasing the time before undeveloped nations can rise out of poverty become less of a concern than 2 degrees of warming? Are you that certain?

        Now, as for all these ‘undeveloped’ renewable power sources such as wind, solar, and hydro. They are not undeveloped. They have been in production at least as long as coal and certainly longer than oil and gas. Wind mills and sailing ships were once the pinnacle of technology. Solar heating and food preservation has been around longer. Hydro was in use by the Roman Empire. Of them, only hydro has proven to be useful for large scale modern power production.

        All that has been achieved with wind power for the last century has been some fine tuning in designs based upon computer analysis and improvements in materials. The darn things still don’t stay up very long and are hard as heck to maintain.

        Solar power not much better off than wind. Production level energy extraction of 20% of available energy is still a dream. However, maintenance and longevity issues have hampered use of solar. Even if you can produce a solar energy conversion process that does not degrade rapidly from ultraviolet radiation, a large staff of window/mirror washers are needed, folks who do not mind the huge walking distances involved in large scale solar installations.

        So, uncertain risk of marginal increase in harsh weather events versus poverty. Are you sure your numbers about cost are correct?

      • GaryM

        “Does perceived risk equate to certainty of increase cost? Is the cost of that GHG reduction less than the cost speculatively introduced by that theoretical increase in risk?”

        Yes.

        Carried out to the long-run, the cost of Risk we can ascribe to the current hypotheses is so large as to certainly increase costs on the market. That is a real and present effect.

        Yes.

        The cost of capitalism is less than the cost of subsidy and regulation to artificially support a fossil industry that would not be the democratic choice of free consumers in a fair market. We know this already, so any solution this approach offers also to internalizing harm of CO2E emission decisions is by definition the lowest cost alternative.

        You claim capitalism will destroy world economies based on your assertions alone?

        Why?

      • Bart,
        You mixing GaryM with GaryW. We are different folks. Just thought I’d clarify that.
        GaryW

      • Everyone gets something upside down.

        For me, it’s M & W.

        For you, it’s that capitalism will find the worst solution, not the best.

      • Bart,
        Nope, it must be GaryM that has a problem with Capitalism. I don’t. I see, through simply examining history over the last century, that Capitalism succeeds where Socialism stagnates.

        My problem is with blocking development in undeveloped parts of the world. Suspending production of GHG will surely have that effect.
        GaryW

      • GaryW

        If you’ve studied the history as you say, and know what I know, as you say, then you must know what distinguishes Capitalism from Socialism is that Capitalism internalizes the cost of decisions to the individual decision maker, while Socialism takes that individual democratic control out of individual hands, and disconnects the cost consequences of behavior from the behavior itself.

        You cannot pretend to be a Capitalist if you give away a scarce resource.

        This concern for the poor you pretend is false, is based on a faulty economic position, is thinly veiled socialism, and will do more harm to the poor.

      • Bart,
        You have my curiosity up. What scarce resource are you referring to? Oil? Coal? Concrete for hydro dams? I’d sure like to know what factor I am overlooking. What form of socialism is described by eliminating government regulations and allowing a free market to operate?

      • Some sort of market (“voucher”) socialist I guess.
        A bit confused about pollution permits versus scarce resources.

      • GaryW,

        “Nope, it must be GaryM that has a problem with Capitalism.”

        Uhhh, GaryM has no problem with capitalism either.

        Bart just likes to use words his own way. (See my Humpty Dumpty quote below). If you favor a free market system where government intrusion is kept to a minimum, and you are against Bart’s proposed redistributive tax you are a “communist.” If you want the government to tax and regulate the entire fossil fuel energy sector into oblivion and take money from producers and redistribute it to consumers (like Bart), you are an Austrian School free market solon. Or a libertarian, or a minarchist, whichever word Bart wants to butcher next.

      • Bart: Carried out to the long-run, the cost of Risk we can ascribe to the current hypotheses is so large as to certainly increase costs on the market.

        100% faith, 0% science.

      • Punksta

        Now you’re getting it.

        The investment market has a logic all its own.

        It doesn’t need to agree with your science.

        Its high priests are not at the beck and call of your opinions, right or wrong, about science.

        The Risk and its costs will happen independent of you.

        The response of investment analysts will follow its own course no matter what you believe the science tells you.

        Increased CO2 levels will to them equal increased Risk.

        This will be a drag on world economies.

        Increased CO2 levels will cost you in this way, or they will cost you in terms of acting to drop CO2 levels.

        These are inevitably the choices, the gun to the head applied by the people emitting CO2 without concern for consequence.

        My preferred response is the one that leads ultimately to better economic health through the capitalist market mechanism and punishes these free riding corporate communist goons.

        You’re free to behave as one of them, or as a capitalist.

      • What I get, Bart, is that your grasp of how much or little risk the investment market sees in CAGW, is ~zero. You so badly want everyone to believe CAGW is true – thus justifying your beloved CO2 tax – you’d have us believe there’s a Consensus on on it.

        Increased CO2 levels will to [insurers etc] equal increased Risk….Increased CO2 levels will cost you in this way, or they will cost you in terms of acting to drop CO2 levels. These are inevitably the choices, the gun to the head applied by the people emitting CO2 without concern for consequence.

        The main risk they see is likely the risk of ignorant political action of the type you favour. And the gun to the head is being applied by those like youself who urge ignorant political action – politics for its own sake.

        Free riding ? Taxing/renting out the atmosphere will have little wealth effect, given that everyone already extensively uses the products of energy, whose price your policies will drive up.

      • Punksta

        You’ve got me confused with someone else. I don’t particularly care if there’s a consensus anything about anything.

        My explanation does not depend on there being cAGW, or CAGW, or AGW, or even GW.

        You can pretend to know the mind of the market all you like, to read its perceptions of risk through your crystal ball as much as you want. Your clairsentient claims are hollow.

        There’s Risk, there’s its costs, and there’s one action in climate that can be taken to reduce Risk, which is reduce CO2E emission levels.

        And you seem to miss important parts of what is being said. Priced under capitalism, with the CO2E budget resource decision internalized to their buying decision, consumers will not be out a penny overall: all the revenue every consumer pays into CO2E budget goes to the owners of that budget, the consumers themselves, per capita.

        So there will be no inflationary price increase. There will be the opposite, a deflationary dividend due to the democratic power of shopping basket decision-making by those empowered consumers.

        Price of fossil will go up, price of overall shopping basket will go down.

        Market size increases, government size stays constant, so as a fraction of GDP, government cost goes down.

        Do I think ‘my’ beloved capitalism justifies action?

        Yes.

        Do I see any need for CAGW to justify it?

        Not in the least.

        We already have unexplored levels of CO2E and the associated Risks of that unknown for that, if we need any other knowledge or incentive more than that Capitalism is the efficient way to best allocate resources.

      • You’ve got me confused with someone else. I don’t particularly care if there’s a consensus anything about anything.

        Actually it’s you who is confused about the random and contradicting positions you’ve taken…..

        There’s Risk, there’s its costs, and there’s one action in climate that can be taken to reduce Risk, which is reduce CO2E emission levels.

        This is your 100% faith 0% science persona talking again. About which you claim there is a consensus.
        For one thing, by forcing us to use more expensive fuel, , the risk of poverty is increased. Your claim of offsetting reductions elsewhere is pure hogwash.

        As regards internalising costs, you first need to know what they are before you can internalise them. Which we don’t yet, since we don’t yet know the implications of more CO2. Or do you claim consensus there too?

      • GaryW

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/29/an-essay-on-the-current-state-of-the-climate-change-debate/#comment-58222

        To address your curiousity, there is a clear and undeniable scarcity in CO2E budget. We don’t need to know how scarce it is, any more than we need know the same thing about oil or coal or concrete; we only need know or speculate that there is a limit to it, a ceiling or series of ceilings which as we pass we incur added costs for ourselves.

        “What form of socialism is described by eliminating government regulations and allowing a free market to operate?”

        Them’s fightin’ words, man.

        Eliminate government regulations against theft, and call it a free market?

        To be free, the market must not shoot itself in the foot. It must have the means to defend itself sensibly and prudently. That vigilant defense of democracy in the fair market is what keeps it free.

        This urging to tear down the fences and throw open the borders surrounding the market’s core mechanisms to allow in every thief and freeloader that you’re doing, how isn’t it socialism? How hasn’t this ongoing experiment in corporate communism of yours failed?

        It’s rampant hypocrisy to skimp on a few core and commonsensical regulations while hurling money two-fistedly at ethanol and coal by the billions annually.

      • Punksta

        Forcing who to do what now?

        If internalizing the price of fossil reveals that everyone is now buying exactly the correct amount of fossil, then there will be no inflationary price rise at all. People will do exactly after the change as before, except those who now obtain excess benefit will pay their fair share, and the 70% of people who subsidize these free riders now will be less out-of-pocket.

        Load up real pure capitalism with all the funky labels you like, Tovarisch Punksta, but giving it away for free isn’t capitalism.

        As for needing to know what the costs are before internalizing them, you are again incorrect.

        Charge what the market will bear, as with any other good. When the price of CO2E budget reaches the point of diminishing returns to shareholder revenue, that is the correct price. Simple. Like any other seller sets their price.

      • Hmmm…..cost of risk.
        I think you may not understand the concept as people who use the term do:
        http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2005/sb20050110_9059_sb006.htm
        Risk is not a cost The cost is in managing the risk.
        Risk is potential for something bad to happen. So for risk to be meaningful, it has to be measurable, and managing it has to have accountable costs that delivers something for the price of managing that risk.
        I think you will have a great deal of difficulty getting AGW to fit into this.

      • hunter

        I believe I’d have a great deal of trouble getting AGW to do anything for me. It’s partly why I don’t waste my time on AGW, and why I don’t think you should waste our time on it, too.

        The CO2E level is an issue that takes us into new territory, the issue we can ascribe management action to, and the issue that we can measure and give meaning.

        We don’t need to know anything about any harm at all, any more than we need to know whether the drunk will drive off the end of a pier or into a busload of nuns or plow through a class of second-graders crossing the street.

      • Bart R,
        Yet you spend a great deal of time here trying to get people to go along with expensive ideas regarding CO2.
        And are unable to describe ‘why’.

      • Hunter,

        If I may recycle a quote from an earlier comment:

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

      • Bart R,
        I just ran across this answer of yours.
        Can you please clarify it?
        It reads as something that is self-conflicting and self-negating and circular.

      • hunter

        Clarify it?

        Not sure I can get more clear than that investors react to the information environment around them, and the information they have is that photosynthesis isn’t keeping up with CO2E emission levels, and hasn’t been for a quarter of a millennium.

        Investors will react like anyone being asked to invest in the real estate bordering an unlicensed and uncontrolled dump that had been hidden from view but is now becoming more and more apparent by its smell.

      • Bart R,
        But so what?
        we have more food both in whole and per capita than ever.
        something changing is not the same as something being a problem.
        Except for CO2 obsessed people.

  16. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    A couple of questions. I’m trying to start a huge argument with Gambino the closed mind about why he deletes all my posts, does anyone know a site he goes to that doesn’t moderate the comments?

    Secondly for Judy, would you agree that Rush Limbaugh was the first skeptic of global warming?

    • Let’s be clear. Limbaugh may have been among the first media personalities to openly question the Hanson juggernaut, and probably the most prominent. He was certainly not the first skeptic. Early skeptics, by my memory, were Cristy, Michaels, Lindzen, Ball, etc. It was always controversial; that’s the norm for new science. If any new scientific theory isn’t controversial, something’s wrong.

  17. When did Rush start? I started publishing in 1992 and there were plenty of skeptics ahead of me.

    • When I was briefed by IPCC chief scientist Sir John Hughton in 89 or 90, he was of the view that AGW was an hypothesis worthy of study but far from proven. (Of course, he is now a strong proponent.)

  18. Thanks, Dr Curry, for publishing this thoughtful essay by Don Aitkin. I too like his detailed list of categories, which goes some way to represent the broad spectrum of views on AGW both among scientists and laypeople. It’s not just two hostile camps. Don deserves a wide audience.

  19. Judith,

    perhaps it’s getting close to time to actually reexamine the scientific fundamentals, Is there contradictory evidence or new evidence? Have the basic theory ideas had to change? Are there new ideas or theories?

    • I agree. And I would like to see this start with an examination of how the no-feedback climate sensitivity is estimated. We have been over this several times on this blog, and I simply do not believe that the figure of 1.2 C for a doubling of CO2 has any validity at all. Delta T = Delta F /Lambda is nonsense.

      • Me too. If there is an underlying element in climate physics of dynamical complexity on interannual to millennial timescales – it makes no sense to think in terms of simple causality.

      • I’ll quote Tomas –

        ‘The reductionism doesn’t work well with non linear systems. It works not at all with non linear highly complex problems. As you rightly noticed it is the internal coupling and interaction loops between different time and space scales that are responsible for this.
        Yet the reductionism and the “all else being equal” methods are still prominent in most climate studies.’

        This is the third way unmentioned and not understood by Aitkin – that most of existing climate science is utterly misguided through a failure to comprehend the fundamental physics of climate (one level below spectral absorption) and not simply a quibbling about details in a model of simple causality.

      • John Carpenter

        Chief,

        Are you familiar with DOE (Design of Experiments) method to determine sensitivity of a variable in a multivariable problem? It was developed by Taguchi and is used widely in optimizing conditions to give most favorable results when engineering products. We use it extensively to “show us the way” to control multivariable chemical systems, to find out what buttons and which nobs to press and turn to make the process work the way we want it to. Too bad it can’t be used to learn about our environment.

      • Oh, but it IS being used, to make the models produce alarmist outcomes!

      • John,

        As I recall, DOE is well-suited for process control systems that are conditionally stable. IMO, the climate is not a system that is conditionally stable,

      • John Carpenter

        hmccard,

        You are right, which is why I said:

        “Too bad it can’t be used to learn about our environment.”

      • Something along the line of the no feedback scenario is not hard to get a handle on. One must realize that even the notion of a single average temperature is to be dealing with tremendous simlifications and to go with average values – and this is not altogether bad.
        One begins with the incoming solar power and subtracts what is reflected away in albedo. That leaves around 236W/m^2 of power averaged over the entire surface. Perform a Stefan’s law black body calculation for the temperature needed to radiate away 236 W/m^2 and you have your baseline balance T without atmospheric effects. You find a T of around 254 K is all that is needed.

        Now, take our actual average temperature, 288K is a good number from the 1976 standard atmosphere. The difference between these two temperatures is the difference between what we actually have as a temperature and what we would have given the same albedo value but without an atmosphere. The 34 deg C difference between these is the total contribution of all atmospheric warming.

        We can now see what the surface radiation emission is from stefan’s law for our averaged temperature of 288K. It comes out to 390 W/m^2. Assuming we have picked a time that the Earth is in balance, what escapes from the Earth must be equal to what is absorbed by the Earth, 236 W/m^2 for our example. Taking the difference, we get 390-236 = 154 W/m^2 that is absorbed and not re-emitted to space by the presence of our atmosphere. Note that these are very real numbers and are averages. We now have the absorbed power average and the overall temperature change. Divide one by the other and we get the average sensitivity excluding feedbacks, 34/154 = 0.22 deg C per W/m^2. Assuming the rather common value of 3.7W/m^2 change in forcing for a co2 doubling, the total change without feedback becomes a 0.8 deg C rise. Note this is the actual average rather than an estimation of instantaneous value. However, there cannot be tremendous variation from the average – because it’s got to average out.
        Note too that this total absorption of 154 W/m^2 includes all atmospheric effects including, ghgs, dust and aerosols, and clouds. It is also the real difference between what is emitted by the surface and what escapes from the atmosphere and that includes atmospheric emissions, like from cloud tops.

        Can this be considered robust? To see, let’s look at it a little differently. What surface temperature difference is necessary to increase the radiated output by 1 W/m^2? Since 236 out of 390 W/m^2 escapes, that is 60% of surface radiation escapes (or is re-emitted by the atmosphere). A small pertubation should do likewise. 1/0.6 = 1. 67 W/m^2 should be what it takes as an increase in surface T to have 1 W/m^2 additional to escape. Changing the 390 W/m^2 to 391.67 is caused by an increase in T from 288K to 288.3K, an increase of 0.3 deg C. Note that this is a radiative only solution and that it is only slightly greater than our average value of 0.22 deg C per W/m^2.

        If one then rounds up the 3.7W/m^2 CO2 doubling to 4W/m^2, they get 1.2 deg C increase using this 0.3 deg C per W/m^2 radiative only sensitivity. Note that warmers always tend to round off when they can change the value that favors their view, never in the opposite direction, such as using 3.7 x 0.3 = 1.1 and rounding off to 1. It’s quite subtle but you see this among reputable scientists and it is promoting an agenda. What it is simply is the choice of whether to roundoff or not being based upon which pushes the number in question in the direction that supports their agenda. It is not a matter of doing roundoff calculations incorrectly.

        Why is the average value, 0.22 better than the radiative only current value? It’s because it includes the effects of the nonradiative effects. Also note that if one looks at the difference in T necessary for a change in surface emission by 1.67 w/m^2 when T is lower by several kelvins, one discovers that there is a greater delta T needed. That indicates that the sensitivity decreases as the temperature rises.

      • Thanks, cba – that was the clearest explanation I have read.
        Rob

      • I might add, that very small changes in albedo can result in significant changes in the energy budget. This is the area of greatest uncertainty for me.

      • thanks,
        albedo is the real climate driver, specifically, the cloud (and atmospheric) albedo – at present and the snow albedo during glaciation periods. It would seem that for the clouds, there’s two ways to impact albedo. One is the cloud cover fraction while the other is the variation of reflectivity based upon changes in the make up of the cloud particles.

      • cba 3/29/11 6:09 pm, state of the debate:

        Your no feedback scenario is much like the Kiehl & Trenberth energy budget, which is the point of departure for IPCC’s radiative forcing paradigm. You need to fix your scenario to match K&T’s budget.

        First, you omitted albedo, which is a combination of cloud first then surface reflectivity. That reduces your figure of 236 W/m^2 over the surface to 168 W/m^2 short wave absorbed at the surface. You said this total absorption of 154 W/m^2 includes all atmospheric effects including, ghgs, dust and aerosols, and clouds. That is not true.

        Next your 390 W/m^2 according to Stefan’s law needs to be reduced by the back radiation, sometimes called re-radiation, from the atmosphere, which K&T put at 324 W/m^2. Personally, I prefer thermodynamics to radiation transfer, and in thermodynamics, heat cannot flow from a colder object to a warmer one. The K&T budget is a hybrid, some radiation transfer, some heat. In thermodynamics, the heat from the surface encounters a resistance in the atmosphere, so that what counts is the net of 390 – 324 W/m^2, or 66 W/m^2.

        Your selection of 288K according to the 1976 Standard Atmosphere is in accord with K&T. However, IPCC assumes — with no evidence – that 288K was the surface temperature in 1750. Reading between the lines of IPCC Reports, IPCC seems to consider that because the climate was in balance at 288K, that that was a preferred or stable state. IPCC gives the impression that it believes that the climate would return to that state but for human effects. That is not true. The energy balance state is neither unique nor stable according to any principle of physics. It could be calculated in balance at any temperature, and even at a given temperature, it could have an unlimited number of states.

        You ask, What surface temperature difference is necessary to increase the radiated output by 1 W/m^2? Since 236 out of 390 W/m^2 escapes, that is 60% of surface radiation escapes (or is re-emitted by the atmosphere). You make clear here that you are addressing the outgoing longwave radiation. All you have to do to keep a balance is to decrease the outgoing shortwave radiation by 1 W/m^2 by decreasing the albedo. No change in surface temperature is necessary at all.

        You might want to check the effects of reducing the surface temperature, reducing specific humidity by the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, reducing cloud albedo accordingly, increasing the short wave radiation absorbed, causing the temperature to warm! See if you can balance the energy exchange at a different temperature. You can’t just turn off feedbacks and calculate a meaningful and necessary balance.

        Your assumption of equilibrium is not crucial, but it is misleading. The climate is never in equilibrium. It is not in thermal equilibrium, nor in chemical equilibrium, nor in mechanical equilibrium, and consequently, by definition, it is not in thermodynamic equilibrium. For example, over the paleo record going back about a million years, the climate vacillated between a warm state a couple of degrees warmer than the present, and a cold state about 9ºC below the present. In 1750, Earth was in recovery from the depths of the Little Ice Age, and the temperature of 288K seems quite anachronous.

        IPCC wants the climate to begin in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. It doesn’t want the climate circa 1750 to be in a natural warming state. It wants all that warming to be available for attribution to humans to support its preconceived notion that AGW exists.

      • Which K&T values? I am using legitimate values and these are not incompatible with K&T 97 so far as it is along the lines of K&T97. I did not omit albedo. The 236w/m^2 is after roughly a 0.30 albedo fraction has been removed from the average incoming power.

        Everything not reflected away is absorbed somewhere in the Earth system of surface and atmosphere. For balance, if 236 w/m^2 is absorbed, then 236 w/m^2 must be radiated away from the Earth system. The surface radiates 390w/m^2 and only 236 w/m^2 escapes the Earth/atmospheric system. That leaves 154 w/m^2 being absorbed from this output stream above and beyond anything being re-radiated to space somewhere in the atmosphere. If you look at the original post, you should be able to recognize that your misunderstanding includes your claim that the 154w/m^2 absorption factor is not correct as well as the failure to notice albedo was included.

        A quick explanation of the 2nd law is in order. Rephrasing should help. No NET heat flow can occur from a cold object to a warmer object. That doesn’t mean that the presence or absence of a colder or warmer body can affect the radiated power being emitted by a body above absolute zero. It does affect the net heat flow though. Placing an black body object (assume emissivity =1) at at temperature T in the vacuum of intergalactic space means that the net power/area transfer will be sigma*(T^4 – (2.7K)^4) and the net radiated power /area will be sigma * (T^4), where sigma is stefan’s constant. Placing this object in a box, also at temperature T, results in zero net power/area transfer, sigma*(T^4 – T^4). This does not mean that the object ceases to radiate. Note that any ‘backradiation’ is not relevant to what is being emitted but this is also internal to the system and doesn’t enter in to what I have been showing. Again, your 66w/m^2 is a net power/area flow but it is not relevant to what I’m showing as there is also outbound re-emission going on.

        while not a part of my explanation for where the 1 or 1.2 deg C co2 doubling rise comes from, mean surface temperature becomes totally dependent upon cloud and albedo considerations according to my position. But then that is with feedbacks.

        your suggestion of decreasing albedo to make up for an increase in ghg absorption does not do what you suggest. you need to rethink things.

        as everything else here, my assumption of equilibrium is an average.

        as a quick note, i haven’t ‘turned off’ all feedbacks. In fact, the 33 deg C rise to 288 K has the average of all feedbacks present. That means the averaged sensitivity I get contains the feedbacks.

        If you make cloud cover a variable, you can calculate an entire range of temperatures over several degrees that are stable or are in equilibrium. That brings up the specter of a setpoint control type of system which ‘controls’ cloud cover to an extent because otherwise, it could float around, varying the albedo and hence surface temperature by several degrees, making even an average global temperature a moot concept.

        I don’t care what the paleo info is as the explanation of a current rather crude co2 doubling estimate has nothing to do with it. This was not intended to be a full duplication or variation to k&t’s efforts despite the potential that some of what I’ve mentioned might be suitable for a start to that. Note that I think Lindzen and his Iris theory is on track, even if it may not be correct as currently formulated.

      • cba 3/31/11 12:15 am, state of the debate:

        You asked, Which K&T values? Answer: The K&T values in AR4, FAQ 1.1, Figure 1. See also Kiehl, J., and K. Trenberth, “Earth’s annual global mean energy budget”, Bull. Am. Meterol. Soc, 78, 197-206, 1997.

        You said on 3/29 at 6:09 pm, “That leaves around 236W/m^2 of power averaged over the entire surface.” Bold added. K&T compute 168 W/m^2 at the surface, which is 342 W/m^2 minus 107 W/m^2 for Earth albedo at 31.2% less another 67 W/m^2 absorbed in the atmosphere never to reach the surface. My apologies for saying you did not include albedo when you made that quite explicit. I was confused because you have too much radiation reaching the surface. What I should have said is that what you omitted in trying to calculate the amount absorbed over the entire surface was the short wave radiation absorbed in the atmosphere.

        Heat by definition is the energy that flows from a hot body to cold body by virtue of the temperature difference. The heat transferred by radiation between a body at the temperature θ and walls (of an enclosure) at θ_sub_W is Q_dot = Aασ(θ_sub_ W^4-θ^4) where A is the area and α is the absorptivity. Zemansky, 4th ed. This is consistent with your examples for a body in intergalactic space. However, you contradicted your own modeling when you said, your 66w/m^2 is a net power/area flow but it is not relevant to what I’m showing as there is also outbound re-emission going on.

        I was trying to direct you to the K&T budget because it gives you a diagram so you would be less likely to drop things. Furthermore, that budget is the basis for radiative forcing as defined by IPCC, it is well-documented, and it requires no rephrasing. Unfortunately for heat flow modeling, K&T breaks radiant heat transfer into forward and backward radiation and mixes them with convection and conduction. This splitting of radiant heat seems to be a contrivance to support the unfortunate radiative transfer paradigm adopted by IPCC. Don’t forget that IPCC owns AGW.

        From Zemansky’s equation you’ll see that in thermodynamics, radiant heat transfer is the net radiation between two bodies. Your peculiar rephrasing of the 2nd Law, moving net from radiant energy to heat, changes the definition of heat. It makes heat energy flowing both ways so you could remove net radiation and create net heat.

        You say, mean surface temperature becomes totally dependent upon cloud and albedo considerations according to my position. You know best what your position is, of course. However it is the unfortunate result that comes from radiative forcing a la IPCC. My position is that Earth’s surface temperature is determined by solar radiation, coupled with Earth’s response. In the warm state, that response is dominated cloud albedo first and then by ocean absorption and redistribution in three dimensions.

        You asked, What surface temperature difference is necessary to increase the radiated output by 1 W/m^2? The answer remains none is necessary. Your albedo appears to be 1 – 236/342 = 0.3099. Change it to 0.3129, an undetectable difference of 0.003, and you’ll unbalance your model by 1 W/m^2. Now what surface temperature do you get? This response of cloud cover to temperature is a major factor in climate. The GCMs change humidity in response to warming from CO2 to amplify the greenhouse effect. They do not at the same time change cloud cover, which is a far greater effect.

        I do not understand your concept of average equilibrium. Perhaps you have rephrased equilibrium, too. Equilibrium means the values of the relevant parameters are not changing. Another fairly knowledgeable chap who posts frequently on these topics tried to argue in support of IPCC’s claim that the ocean surface is a buffer against CO2 dissolution based on the carbonate equilibrium coefficients because the requirement for thermodynamic equilibrium was satisfied with “dynamic equilibrium”. Are you, too, thinking of a dynamic steady state?

        You say, I haven’t ‘turned off’ all feedbacks. But in your previous post, your first sentence was, Something along the line of the no feedback scenario is not hard to get a handle on. Sorry. I assumed you were leading to a discussion of climate with no feedbacks.

        IPCC doesn’t understand the concept of feedback. Any field is free to redefine its own peculiar terms however it wishes. But IPCC relied on Hansen et al., 1984, which said, We use procedures and terminology of feedback studies in electronics (Bode, 1945) to help analyze the contributions of different feedback processes. AR4, ¶8.6.2.3, p. 631; Hansen, et al., Climate Sensitivity: Analysis of Feedback Mechanisms, 1984. In the control system sense, feedback is a signal comprising energy, potential, flow, displacement, material, or information from inside a system that flows upstream to modify the system inputs. IPCC doesn’t use feedback that way. Instead, IPCC uses feedback to mean a parameter whose value is computed at run time, i.e., not a forcing. Alternatively, IPCC use feedback to mean a correlation between elements of a system. See TAR, Figure 7.4, p. 439; Figure 7.6, p. 445; Figure 7.7, p. 448; and Figure 7.8, p. 454. IPCC has a problem with feedbacks because the radiative forcing paradigm omits major flow variables, and in fact does not even replicate time.

        Are you using feedback in one of those IPCC senses? Just because you have a value for albedo doesn’t mean that you have included albedo feedback. In the control system sense of feedback, you need albedo to respond to system parameters, especially TSI and Global Average Surface Temperature. I don’t see that you have done that.

        You say, If you make cloud cover a variable, you can calculate an entire range of temperatures over several degrees that are stable or are in equilibrium. That brings up the specter of a setpoint control type of system which ‘controls’ cloud cover to an extent because otherwise, it could float around, varying the albedo and hence surface temperature by several degrees, making even an average global temperature a moot concept. I doubt your claims about stability or equilibrium, but would like to see your method. However, try recalculating the K&T model with humidity varying according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, and with cloud effects varying accordingly, and you will find consistent K&T types of energy balances at any temperature from 0K to about 292K. Climate can indeed wander around anywhere over a wide range, which makes it quite sensitive to the Sun. It doesn’t respond instantaneously because of its heat capacity, which climatologists call heat inertia, and which is not mechanized in GCMs.

        You should find that climate is never unstable, notwithstanding Hansen’s and IPCC’s claims about tipping points, and that it is never in thermodynamic equilibrium. Nor does the climate have any undamped oscillations. And Earth can never be in thermal equilibrium while it continues to intercept solar radiation.

        The record shows that Earth tends to stabilize in a warm state much like the present or maybe a few degrees warmer, or in a cold state at about 9ºC below the present. The warm state appears to be regulated, and the negative feedback of cloud albedo to temperature is just the ticket. The cold state appears to be locked down, and surface albedo is the mechanism to do that, coupled with a negligible greenhouse effect. The transitions between the warm and cold states, a range of about 12ºC over the last million years, are mysteries waiting to be modeled, especially as the Milankovic model has failed.

        Temperature tends to be set, not cloud cover. The latter varies to set the former. IPCC investigators make their models unstable in order to demonstrate AGW. A responsible, professional effort would have been to model mechanisms that fit the observed, conditionally stable climate. This is a matter of scientific philosophy. Except during explosions and ruptures, natural systems are almost never observed in unstable states. The probability of finding a round boulder perched on a hillside, or a cone balanced on its peak, is approximately zero. Natural disturbances occur perpetually to shift systems from one conditionally stable state to another. The scientific goal should be to model the controlling effects point by point, and then to estimate their dynamic range.

        The concept of a global average surface temperature is a valid thermodynamic concept, a macroparameter, even though it is not directly measurable. The same is true of a global average surface, and of a global average cloud albedo. Far from ever being moot, the global average surface temperature is the object of the quest.

      • It’s getting deep in places. First off you misinterpret my sloppy use of the term surface to mean THE surface. Atmosphere and THE surface combine to absorb the power and I did not intend to distinguish in this case which was absorbed on the way down to the surface versus THE surface. In other words, if it is absorbed by either, it is absorbed- simplification for this example. This was an explanation of a factor not a 1-d model.

        I like KT’s model and the predecessor, london, USAF, 1957 (don’t have a copy on this laptop). KT97 and later still have serious problems with their cartoon and attention to cloud vs surface albedo – but that’s another discussion.

        Note I took a system approach and the system consists of surface + atmosphere. Breaking down between atmospheric absorption and surface absorption is a logical extension to make a full model but not to explain something simply.

        there is not an inconsistency with the 66 W/m^2. That is the heat flowing per unit time. It’s a net flow of heat but it is not what is being radiated. Rather it is the difference between what is radiated and what is being absorbed. Again, I’m dealing with the whole system, not surface and atmosphere. I’m looking only at the top above the atmosphere and don’t care whether a photon comes from the surface or emits from the stratosphere for this example.

        I beg to differ with you about gcms. They reduce cloud cover as well as assume a constant RH with increasing T. It comes from something like a 1984 hansen lacis et al paper and appears very much to be a judgement call. Absolute humidity doesn’t provide any decent positive feedback. Raise the column T and you can have about 13% increase for 2 deg C rise or about 30% increase in absolute humidity (h2o vapor content) for about a 5 deg C rise. Neither are close to a doubling of h2o vapor and the 30% rise amounts to less of an increase in W/m^2 absorption than does the doubling of co2. This is 1-d modeling related and not relevant to my prior comments above.

        my concept of average equilibrium is the concept of the averaged values tend to be in a radiative equilibrium – not the narrow definition of thermal equilibrium.

        concerning zemansky, are you referring to sears & zemansky university physics or zemansky thermodynamics? I may have a 4th ed. of U physics buy nothing that new for thermodynamics. I did not intend to confuse people with heat transfer vs the transfer of energy. Radiative will be a transfer of energy per time but it isn’t going to be quite the same as heat transfer since that is the net energy flow subject to the 2nd law. Here I think you are definitely nitpicking too much.

        there are varieties of equilibrium, not just thermal.

        sometimes I use feedback in the same context as the ipcc nonsense for communications clarity. Sometimes I even use the term setpoint control system to refer to what is happening as feedback doesn’t even mean that sort of thing. co2 is a function of T as well as a modifier of T, hence it is no different than h2o vapor except for perhaps a time frame difference. again not relevant to my original explanation.

        I have not done any study of albedo as anything but an independent variable and concluding that appears to be control factors for this. Albedo is basically THE control variable for climate and albedo is basically cloud albedo. Other atmospheric factors may be present and variable but constitute a small fraction. What controls cloud albedo is both cloud fraction and reflectivity. The warmers like KT like to choose minimal cloud reflectivity of the least reflective cloud type, below any sort of combination of clouds, all at minimum reflectivity. Since this is a truly unknown area under current research, I try to avoid anything but generalities that can be deduced. Everyone one of the big guns that has tried tying solar and cosmic rays and cloud variability has pretty well failed to date at least in some fashion. It may be far more random than formally chaotic and ultimately impossible to model.

        there is no formal model that I have done nor a formal theory, perhaps a few pieces though along with a few thoughts. The fact that the meanderings of climate is rather narrow compared to the possible range suggests the possible existence of a feedback control system or more accurately, a setpoint control system, all be it a natural non-optimized one. Lindzen suggests one (Iris effect) based on reflectivity not cloud fraction. However, the fact is that climate is rather narrow in operating range compared to what is possible (or plausible).

        Technically, thermal equilibrium means being at the same temperature. Radiative equilibrium means a balance in incoming and outgoing radiation. The Earth can never be in thermal equilibrium til it reaches 1 over all temperature.

        Entering an ice age appears to me to be related to either a statistical fluctuation or some event increasing cloud cover. Once glaciation occurs, it tends to stay there with any cloud albedo feedback being short circuited by surface reflectivity. After that, one has reduced precipitation, ongoing sublimation, emissions of particulates from volcanoes and the arrival of dust and crud from space that ultimate and eventually reduces the albedo to the point where the glaciation goes into a melting phase, returning it to the warm period levels. Whether other details are important or involved and exactly which are most important, I don’t have but a minor suspicion and possibly not a clue.

        personally, I like the consequences of ippc thought. Couched properly, it’s hilarious. We live on a planet at a stable T of 288k. If that T increases to 289k, we have fallen into a region of instability such that ipcc’s upper end of response means a 6 deg total increases must happen as a response to 289k so that the temperature must shoot up to 294k. 289k 290k 291k are unstable because the sensitivity with feedback must be at least about 3 deg for these alarmists (assumes 3-6 deg C feedback increase).

      • cba 3/31/11 5:41 pm, state of the debate:

        Thanks for the detailed response. Here are some random thoughts on your post.

        1. Your TOA approach is interesting. Note that K&T lump the atmosphere into a single layer. IPCC has taken it to n layers, apparently all in an effort to get something useful out of radiative transfer. It won’t work. No precision description of the atmosphere has a chance of producing a practical radiative forcing for the atmosphere. First, the problem is uncountably many to one for the state of the atmosphere (pressure, humidity, temperature lapse rates) for the same total radiative forcing. Second, the model for the atmosphere is nonlinear so that the average radiative forcing over the planet is not the radiative forcing of any kind of weighted average atmosphere. Third, the state of the atmosphere is different above every point on the surface. I observed using Archer’s online MODTRAN that CO2 is well-mixed vertically throughout the atmosphere. It’s not well-mixed anywhere by IPCC’s admissions, as observed now by satellite, nor by elementary à priori modeling of CO2 sources and sinks.

        2. My understanding from the IPCC reports was that GCMs parameterized cloud cover as a constant. You say GCMs reduce cloud cover with increasing T, and from your description, presumably in an effort to amplify warming to reproduce the preconceived AGW. In my model, cloud cover increases with increasing surface T. My agenda is to find a cause for the regulating effect observed especially in the Vostok reductions. My argument is that the atmosphere has a surplus of CCNs, so it is perpetually receptive to increasing clouds with increasing humidity from increasing temperature. This may be what is observed with respect to tropical clouds and global precipitation. If the atmosphere had a surplus of humidity, we might observe cloud chamber effects from solar activity, GCRs, or volcanoes. The probability that we have exactly the right number of CCNs for the humidity would be zero.

        3. IPCC does amplify the weak CO2 greenhouse effect by releasing humidity in response to added CO2.

        4. You say, Absolute humidity doesn’t provide any decent positive feedback. Raise the column T and you can have about 13% increase for 2 deg C rise or about 30% increase in absolute humidity (H2O vapor content) for about a 5 deg C rise. Neither are close to a doubling of H2O vapor and the 30% rise amounts to less of an increase in W/m^2 absorption than does the doubling of CO2. Is this tongue in cheek? IPCC is having trouble keeping water vapor from being a powerful negative feedback?

        5. My copy of Zemansky is the venerable Heat and Thermodynamics, 1957.

        6. You say, There are varieties of equilibrium, not just thermal. Yes, indeed! Thermodynamic equilibrium, the essential criterion, is defined as simultaneous mechanical equilibrium, chemical equilibrium, and thermal equilibrium. I chose thermal equilibrium as my counter example to equilibrium because it is so obvious.

        7. You observe correctly that cloud albedo is both cloud fraction and reflectivity. However, reflectivity is likely seasonal while cloud fraction is diurnal. The reflectivity part is likely not a feedback, while cloud fraction is sensitive to TSI.

        8. One of the interesting parts of the transition between Earth’s warm state and its cold state is that Earth cools slowly and warms quickly with a best fit slope ratio, up to down, of a constant -4.45.

        9. I don’t know what you mean by Once glaciation occurs, it tends to stay there with any cloud albedo feedback being short circuited by surface reflectivity. Check the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. In the deepest glacial state, the atmosphere is dry, and both the greenhouse effect and cloud cover are negligible. The eclipsing of surface albedo is gone, and surface albedo should make solar radiation negligible. Earth’s temperature would be determined by internal heat, and unregulated.

        10. IPCC’s effort is criminal, and too costly to amuse me. It may be having the effect of creating public distrust of all science. Posters here debate what is causing AGW to fall from public acceptance, whether it’s climate gate or a cooling climate. This question of motivation can never be settled, but thanks to an anonymous whistle blower and the gods of climate, the public may have been saved from an economic and political catastrophe. What remains truly unfortunate is that so many highly regarded professional organizations and academies joined in the conspiracy instead of coming forward to bring this corrupt and naïve band of climatologists into line to conform with the principles and ethics of science.

      • Jeff,
        time is quite limited at the moment so I may have to do different posts to cover your points. My mistake on the thermo book. Mine is Sears 2nd ed, 1964. Sears and Zemansky U physics is now Young and Friedman, just came out with ed. 13.

        while not relevant to my original post, I have a line by line model of radiative transfer using HITRAN and currently, a 52 layer model based upon the 1976 std atmosphere. It provides answers close to archer’s modtran calculator and its actual official purpose is spectral.
        Note this stuff is log not linear so precision in all these variations isn’t going to have a substantial impact. Also, when dealing with small variations, they are approximately linear so are easy to average. This is not an argument to be sloppy, only that one can get very close in a simple fashion for many things.

        1976 std atm is also well mixed and reality isnt. The effect is logarithmic when it comes to power blocking. For small changes or variations, it’s going to average out.

        2. Lacis (associate of ahansen) told me their’s dropped 3-4% cloud cover for a co2 doubling and referenced a 1984? paper where they switch to a 1-d model to come to the conclusion. They also spent a column on the alternative possibility that no variation occurs. Guess that got reprocessed to the gospel after a couple of more papers. I don’t remember which thread that’s on but it’s from about a month ago somewhere on Judith’s website here. Makes great sense, increase evaporation, increase humidity, drop cloud cover. That makes for a great runaway condtion.

        outa time for the moment.

      • 2. Perhaps it is telling that lacis & hansen paper where the decision to go with cloud reduction with increased T had that decision made using a 1-d model and not actually ‘discovering’ this with a gcm. I would have expected that there is always some humidity but a dearth of ccn . But then I try to stick to overall averages as that is what a single T increment is about. Also, I get to stay a bit away from details that may not be relevant in the final analysis.

        3,4. increases in absolute humidity must come from changes in absolute Temperatures. A normal assumption is to assume constant relative humidity as T rises. It’s not tongue in cheek. Look at CC equation or an absolute humidity chart and assume that RH stays the same. Absolute humidity increases by 13% for 2 deg C rise or 30% for a 5 deg C rise. This is a positive feedback, but the ipcc main “feedback” is not strong. 13% rise corresponds to a small fraction of a co2 doubling while 30% h2o vapor increase corresponds to a little less than a co2 doubling. That is both combined amount to about 6.8 w/m^2 total and that is out of 154 w/m^2 that achieves a 33 deg C rise so we’re looking at an increase of 1.5 deg C rise by assuming a 5 deg C rise in h2o vapor. All we need now is another 16 w/m^2 of increased ‘forcing’ to achieve our 5 deg C rise. Looking at just a 2 deg C rise in h2o vapor content, a 13% increase with a co2 doubling doesn’t succeed in reaching even 1 deg C rise, so we are still shy by over 4.5 w/m^2 of needed forcing necessary to reach that needed 2 deg C for the h2o vapor increase. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with the absorption numbers for h2o vapor from my modeling. I don’t know if you can duplicate the result by using the modtran calculator and manipulating h2o content. I do think the h2o vapor numbers are in the ballpark though.
        So now, we’re left with a problem of ipcc sensitivity and their need to assume cloud cover drops when T rises. Lapse rate will be a conservation of energy concern and T always drops where clouds form and all you have to do is go a little higher to get to the same T. Now, more humidity available to form clouds is supposed to result in a decrease in cloud fraction based on a 1-d model and what amounts to be an opinion. You figure out what these people are thinking.

        7. Clouds do have a time effect that promotes the notion of a control system. Fraction is subject to internal oscillations like ENSO, possibly cosmic rays, some solar activity, not total TSI so much as variations possibly in spectral content and magnetic field activity, ccn presence and who knows what other possible factors. It has been observed to vary by several percent over time frames of months and years. In 1957, the estimate of total albedo was around 0.4, not 0.31 and between the two KT papers, it seems that albedo may have dropped another small fraction – and all of this is basically cloud (or at least atmospheric) albedo. Now, you have the reflectivity, probably underplayed by KT. This is going to possibly depend upon the nature of the ccn and total average water or ice particle size. The presence of other stuff, sulfuric acid??, in the atmosphere may also affect this.
        9. remember precipitation had to occur for that glacier to form and grow. Eventually, after the formation, precipitation may cease.

        10. it’s not science, it’s politics.

      • cba 4/2/11 11:08 pm, state of the debate:

        Can you provide a citation to the Lacis & Hansen paper and page number where you found the cloud reduction?

        Above (3/31/11, 11:00 pm, ¶#2) I gave some reasoning to consider CCN to be in superabundance. In addition, the reliable diurnal build-up of clouds all over the globe supports that conjecture. Precipitation washes CCNs out of the atmosphere, yet clouds don’t have to wait for a CCN-producing post-sunset event. And because morning clouds so regularly burn-off as well, I deduce in two steps that cloud extent is inversely proportional to TSI. Another reason is the degree of correlation between the solar wind and (global average surface) T. While it is twice the correlation between ENSO and T, it is still weak. This suggests that the ratio of Svensmark’s GCR modulation to average CCN is low, perhaps just a few percent modulation. In other words, the baseline average CCN must be large.

        In your ¶¶3,4, above, I take your humidity increases with temperature at face value. But then you say, This is a positive feedback, but the IPCC main “feedback” is not strong. (As I said above (4/2/11, 11:07 am, to manacker), IPCC addresses cloud feedback as the small difference between small numbers, and missing the dominant and largest feedback … in all of climate.) Is your feedback conclusion based on keeping cloud cover constant? Are you talking about a feedback just on the longwave side of the climate? You may need to make more complete statements about feedback.

        If cloud cover decreases with T, as you attribute to Lacis & Hansen, then cloud albedo would be a positive feedback to TSI and to T. If my model is correct, cloud cover increases with T, it is a negative feedback to T; if it decreases with TSI, it is a positive feedback with respect to TSI; and humidity is a positive feedback to T. Surely I could express these better with partial derivatives. Furthermore, because burn-off is frequently complete to a cloudless sky, the modulation is sometimes 100%, and the gain from cloud albedo positive feedback is large.

        You write, So now, we’re left with a problem of IPCC sensitivity and their need to assume cloud cover drops when T rises. Do you have any citations showing the either IPCC or their GCMs do that, i.e., that they follow the Lacis & Hansen model?

        In my modeling, I consider phenomena like ENSO, in particular, as mechanisms that redistribute Earth’s surface thermal energy, confounding measurements, and adding variability to estimates of T. Otherwise these are below the level of the macroparameters of thermodynamics necessary to predict T to the first order.

      • Fascinating exchange guys. As an aside, there is also a school of thought that suggests that cloud cover, and therefore albedo, varies according to natural factors like ENSO/PDO rather than T, and that it is the resultant reduction of SW radiation at the surface that modulates the temperature.

      • jeff,
        I’m having troubling finding the specifics. It appears to be the 1984 paper Climate Sensitivity: Analysis of Feedback Mechanisms, Climate Processes and Climate Sensitivity,Geophysical Monograph 29. vol 5. You can find it on a search for publications james hansen (google). However, page 9 or 12 seems to be where the info should be – but I didn’t see it specifically. Either I missed it in that paper or I’ve forgotten which paper it is in – other than it is one A Lacis referred me to in an earlier thread interchange a month or two back.

        I’m not sure what you’re next paragraph is leading to. I would think that cloud formation is in essence, solar powered. Also, I was thinking that CRs themselves are CCNs.

        My humidity is simply going with the common idea that overall average RH is assumed to stay constant. That means as T rises, absolute humidity rises simply. The ’84 paper of hansen makes reference to their increase of h2o vapor in the column by 1.33. An absolute humidity chart (assuming constant RH) would require a 5 deg C rise for that yet I think the result they mention was around a 2 deg C rise in their model. I was looking for the cloud fraction change rather than this for your reference request above so I wasn’t paying much attention to the 1.33 absolute humidity stuff.

        My feedback comment is about h2o vapor only. That is ipcc’s claimed major feedback. And my 1d model indicates a 30% increase in h2o vapor results only in about 3.1 w/m^2 versus 3.7 w/m^2 for the co2 doubling. Consequently, co2 doubling + h2o feedback results in less than twice the co2 T rise alone. However, for constant RH, this amount of added h2o vapor also requires a 5 deg C rise.

        I tend to vary only 1 parameter at a time to segregate the effects. I don’t consider cloud variations as a feedback because I do not have a mechanism worked out. I consider cloud fraction an independent variable at present. It has a massive effect and it is variable, depending upon potentially all sorts of things, not the least is ENSO and internal oscillations. Because of its potency here in affecting surface T, I don’t think cloud fraction variation is going to have much of a response to temperature.
        cloud effects must consider both ir ans sw, not just one. Sorry about the lack of explanation details. I’m usually running short of time.

        I have assumed that ipcc gcm efforts are in line with hansen & lacis’ approach. Note, the reduction in cloud fraction (and I think increase in altitude of formation) may actually be a Lacis comment in my earlier interchange rather than explicitly in the paper.

        As far as I interpret things, I think your feedback attributions for your model are correct. Humidity or absolute humidity is a positive feedback to T. It is stable as it is something like less than a 1 deg C rise for a 30% increase which requires a 5 deg C rise for RH held constant. Clouds are a net negative feedback. More TSI reaching the surface results in more water cycle activity and more h2o vapor that catches downward near IR to warm the humid air parcel, reducing density further than just the presence of h2o molecules having a lower molecular weight that reduces the density as well.

        Cloud cover is so potent that if it were a positive feedback, a control system would simply head for the rail and stay there.

        Also for ipcc sensitivity, I don’t think any model can achieve over about a 2 deg C rise for a co2 doubling without the cloud albedo reduction.

        Sounds like you have some sort of gcm? Or is it one of these control system nonphysical models?

      • Rob,
        thanks for the compliment.

        yes, it is essentially my position. T cannot be a major controller of cloud cover because cloud cover is the major controller of surface T. Clouds appear to be affected by everything, from CRs and solar magnetic fields to volcanoes, pollution, internal oscillations like ENSO, etc. You’ll find the warmers down playing cloud reflectivity. I’ve yet to recalculate with my most recent information, but earlier simpler efforts suggested almost a 2 / 1 effect for albedo blocking of SW incoming versus blocking of LW surface emissions. The first estimates brought in a surface T range of +/-5 deg C for clear skies 100% to cloudy skies 100%. I’ve now collected more accurate info to get a better idea which will probably reduce the 2/1 to close to even.

  20. I think the weakest part of his review is his failure to explain just how weak the climate models are. He should have explained why it is that the IPCC cannot make predictions.

  21. William Newman

    I generally like the way that the article tries to summarize various positions.

    I think, though, that the article is mistaken in representing its version of the “6. Opponents” position as one of the 6 or 8 primary factions. Its version is remarkably extreme: “[...] a scam, a sign that the Marxists have taken over the green movement, an attempt by some to construct world government [...].” Positions that extreme can be found, but they are a considerably smaller faction. In order to correctly a faction big enough to be on a short list of 6 or 8, I think the article should describe a less dramatic class of criticisms: less like McCarthy’s claims and more like Eisenhower’s criticism of the military-industrial complex, more likely to draw analogies to previous academically fashionable factually wrong apologies for centralization of economic power (e.g., Limits to Growth, long-run Phillips Curve, various theories of development esp. in poor countries, and unreasonably positive reports on the conditions in Communist countries) than to explicit sinister conspiracies where everyone is dishonestly motivated by a hidden agenda.

    • The only conspiracy theory about is the one put forth by the Consensus camp :

      that even though the state has an huge and open vested interest in CAGW being believed, and funds and selects close to 100% of climate scientists and climate science, these scientists as a whole ignore this vested interest. They secretly conspire to ignore their employers’ interests and their own funding needs and political inclinations (being state employees they are more statist in outlook), and produce honest, unbiased science instead. And still keep their jobs and grants. IOW, there’s an angelic conspiracy at work keeping climate science on the straight and narrow. So nothing to see or worry about, folks, move along and jut believe.

      It’s laughable, as Climategate revealed.

    • There is evidence that a lot of extreme left-wing environmental activists have taken up significant positions in the IPCC and related bodies. For example, Richard Lindzen instanced John Firor, administrative director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Robert Napier, chair of the UK Met Office and John Holdren,  President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Roger Pielke Jr mentions Steve Sawyer , Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council, an advocacy group for wind energy with a strong anti-nuclear stance, who spent 30 years as a top official for Greenpeace. Sawyer contributed a chapter to an upcoming IPCC special report on managing climate disasters. Long-term Greenpeace heavyweights, Bill Hare, Malte Meinshausen and Richard Klein have had major input into IPCC reports. The classic Trotskyite, International Socialist etc tactic is to infiltrate non-left organisations from which they can exercise power, manipulate opinion and policy and white-ant market economies. Their economic prescriptions for dealing with AGW further the aims of the extreme left. Aitkin might not be exaggerating.

    • No sign of my earlier reply, perhaps too contentious. So I’ll quote Frank Sartor, former NSW state government minister, whose ALP has just had an unprecedented thrashing – 20 seats out of 93 after 16 years in power – on the Greens, who the ALP pandered to:

      “We were green and we were strong on our terms. We were sensible green, sustainable green, not mad green like – a third of the Green party are quite mad. As we know, very left wing and very mad. And they [the ALP] have to be very careful to pursue strong environmental issues but on their terms, not on the terms of Bob Brown and the Greens, because the Greens are an extremist party, they’re an absolutist party.”

    • Thanks, great cartoon. I’m a northern California guy and remember 2000 really well. Maybe to make a more lasting point, an “earth two weeks” would be better. Although most of the folks I know would starve to death by then.

    • John Carpenter

      Haha…too funny, I love Dilbert

  22. Judith

    Don Aitkin’s essay is an excellent and unbiased summary of where the AGW debate stands today and how it got there.

    It will not please the “oxthodox”, who will say he obviously does not understand the “science” and the “urgency” of the “problem”.

    Neither will it please those whom he calls the “opponents”, who will say he has bought into the “scam” by not denouncing it.

    But I think it gives all the rest of us an objective description of the “status quo”, which is what it was intended to do in the first place.

    He recognizes the growing importance of the blogosphere in this debate. I fully agree with him and would add that sites like yours are doing much more to shed light on the many uncertainties surrounding AGW than a great many of the peer reviewed scientific articles have done.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Max

  23. A nice ‘voice of reason’ take on the subject. I would point out that the understanding of those engaged in the subject can be much more complicated than portrayed in the numbered list. Personally, I’m spread across numbers 3-6. I certainly don’t deny that CO2 could have already raised world temps. I am very skeptical of GCMs, as I see them more as glorified guessing games than anything else. I’m also still waiting for an explanation for the MWP-Little Ice Age business. If your science can’t explain observed phenomena, how can I trust you to predict the future.

    Further, the language used in support for AWG activist could have been cut and pasted out of standard 1970s leftist/anti-capitalist environmentalism. The talk of greed, technology as problem rather than solution, neo-Malthusianism, etc, was all there before global warming became a topic of discussion. It is a demonstrable fact that the greater mass of AWG activism comes straight out of past leftist political programs. This has nothing to do with the science, but the science stripped of the coincidental left-orthodoxy is a thin thread indeed.

  24. Don Aitkin has written

    To simplify: most participants, though not all, will accept that a doubling of CO2 would by itself produce an increase of about 1 degree C, but that outcome will be much affected by the role of the main greenhouse gases, water vapour and its manifestation in clouds. AGW proponents see water vapour as amplifying the warming caused by carbon dioxide, dissenters generally see the effect as a minimisation. There are plausible arguments both ways, and not much evidence.

    Here, as elsewhere, the orthodoxy makes great use of models (General Circulation Models, or GCMs), but dissenters argue that we know too little about climate for such models to produce anything more than that with which they were initially fed.

    This is, indeed, the key point separating the “strongest orthodox” from the
    “lukewarm supporters”.

    The first group, as represented by the IPCC view in AR4 WG1, has estimated that water vapor will rise with higher temperature to maintain constant relative humidity, and this is the basis for the model simulations estimating water vapor feedback. In addition the models have all estimated that clouds will have a net positive feedback, while IPCC has conceded, “cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty”.

    True, there is not much physical evidence. Some paleo-climate data are cited by IPCC to support the notion of high climate sensitivity, but these are notoriously inaccurate and subjective.

    But what there is in actual physical evidence today is based on CERES and ERBE satellite observations. These show that clouds exert a strongly negative net feedback with warming, and that the overall 2xCO2 climate sensitivity is likely to be well below 1C (Spencer + Braswell 2007, Lindzen + Choi 2009, Spencer 2011 in print). The feedback from water vapor at higher temperature has also been observed by satellites over the tropics (Minschwaner + Dessler 2004). These observations have shown that water vapor does not increase to maintain constant relative humidity, but increases at less than half this amount with warming.

    So, while there is not “much evidence”, the evidence that does exist suggests that the model estimates exaggerate the overall positive feedback from water (vapor + clouds), and that this combined feedback is most likely to be negative, reducing the 2xCO2 sensitivity from around 1C (without feedbacks) to around 0.6C with all feedbacks.

    To Aitkin’s second point:

    Such modelling underpins the last three propositions, too. Whether warming is going to be dangerous or beneficial for humanity and where it might occur, and what effects any warming would have on rainfall, or storms, or anything else, depend on the outcome of the models. Since the IPCC itself says that the current level of scientific understanding of some of the variables in the climate models is low or very low, it is not clear why we should take especial interest in what the models say. They do not ‘predict’, incidentally, but produce ‘scenarios’ or ‘projections’, on an ‘if…then’ basis. Scary ones usually make it to the media, which like scary stories. But we have had an awful lot of them in the last few years, and people have begun to hear Matilda crying ‘Fire’. (For those younger than me, Matilda is the subject of one of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, all worth reading.)

    This is a second point of controversy.

    IPCC has created several “scenarios” of projected increase in atmospheric CO2 by year 2100, which it then combines with its model-based estimates of climate sensitivity to arrive at projected temperature increase from today to 2100 (2090-2099 versus 1980-1999 averages).

    These range from 1.8 to 6.4C.

    But, looking closer at the “scenarios”, one sees that those which project the most warming are based on atmospheric CO2 reaching levels, which exceed all the carbon contained in all the optimistically estimated fossil fuels on our planet. These two (A2 and A1F1) can be discarded as impossible. The next lower “scenario” (A1B) estimates that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of human CO2 emissions will double the rate seen since 1960 or over the past 5 years (around 0.86% CAGR projected vs. 0.42% actually seen). This seems unrealistic in view of the fact that global population is expected to grow at a much slower rate (7 to 9 billion, 2010-2100, or a CAGR of 0.28%/year) than in the past (3 to 7 billion, 1960-2010, or a CAGR of 1.7%/year). So this can also be tossed out as unrealistic.

    We are then left with scenarios B1, A1T and B2, which show projected warming by 2100 of 1.8 to 2.4 C. If we adjust these figures to a baseline of today rather than 1980-1999 average, as used by IPCC, we can deduct another 0.2C.

    This means that be throwing out impossible and unreasonable “scenarios”, we now have a projected warming from today to 2100 of 1.6 to 2.2C, even using the exaggerated 2xCO2 climate sensitivity estimates used by IPCC (average 3.2C).

    If we further adjust the IPCC projections to a 2xCO2 CS of 1C, we end up with projected warming by 2100 of 0.5 to 0.7C (similar to what we saw over the past century).

    And that is where the key problems lie with the IPCC projections, in my opinion: exaggerated climate sensitivity and unrealistic “scenarios”.

    Max

    • manacker 3/29/11 6:37 pm:

      Your analysis is missing one huge, crucial point, one omitted by IPCC. When IPCC addresses cloud albedo it means reflectivity per unit cloud area, which it sometimes calls cloud albedo effect. That parameter would have the confusing units of (W/m^2)/m^2. IPCC analyses its cloud albedo effect in terms of droplet size, aerosols, and pollutants. It then compares this estimated cooling effect to the warming by the cloud greenhouse effect, and admits that it can’t even determine the sign of the net of cloud effects.

      What IPCC omits from its modeling is what it calls variously cloudiness, cloud amount, cloud amount factor or simply cloud amount, amount of clouds, cloud cover, cloud area fraction or simply cloud fraction. For its simulations, IPCC parameterizes cloud amount so that it is no longer variable. What it needs to do is vary specific humidity according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, changing cloudiness accordingly, and further mechanizing IPCC’s known cloud burn-off effect (TAR, ¶6.7.8, p. 374). It would then have activated total cloud albedo feedback, the largest feedback that dominates the climate system. That feedback is positive with respect to TSI and negative with respect to GAST.

      IPCC never refers to the product of cloudiness and its cloud albedo effect as any kind of cloud albedo. Regardless, that total cloud albedo is mechanized in the GCM initial conditions, the Kiehl & Trenberth energy balance budget, which is the basis for IPCC’s definition of radiative forcing.

      In calculating climate sensitivity, the GCMs are essentially open loop. Climate data are closed loop, and fitting an open loop model to closed loop data is doomed, as are any of its predictions.

      • Yes
        Cloud amount/cover is crucial for albedo, and upwelling SW radiation at TOA (ie reflected energy) provides a reasonable proxy for measuring changes. Notably, upwelling SW radiation decreased from 1976 until 1998 and has since increased. A small change in albedo makes a huge difference to the earth’s energy budget.

        see graphs here for more info

      • Jeff Glassman

        Thanks for interesting response.

        Yes. The IPCC handling of clouds leaves a lot to be desired (although IPCC does concede that “cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty”).

        A study by Wyant et al. entitled “Climate sensitivity and cloud response of a GCM with a superparameterization” addresses the problem of cloud parameterization.
        ftp://eos.atmos.washington.edu/pub/breth/papers/2006/SPGRL.pdf

        Cloud processes in conventional GCMs rely on parameterizations to represent motions smaller than the resolved grid scales and to calculate the fraction of the sky covered by cloud within each grid box.

        and

        The climate sensitivity of an atmospheric GCM that uses a cloud-resolving model as a convective superparameterization is analyzed by comparing simulations with specified climatological sea surface temperature (SST) and with the SST increased by 2 K. The model has weaker climate sensitivity than most GCMs, but comparable climate sensitivity to recent aqua-planet simulations of a global cloud-resolving model. The weak sensitivity is primarily due to an increase in low cloud fraction and liquid water in tropical regions of moderate subsidence as well as substantial increases in high-latitude cloud fraction.

        and

        The global annual mean changes in shortwave cloud forcing (SWCF) and longwave cloud forcing (LWCF) and net cloud forcing for SP-CAM are -1.94 W m-2, 0.17 W m-2, and -1.77 W m-2, respectively.

        -1.77 W m-2 for 2K increase in SST equals –0.88 W m-2 K-1 (rather than the average net positive feedback of the models cited by IPCC of +0.69 W m-2 K-1).

        Since IPCC estimates that 0.13C out of the 2xCO2 CS of 3.2C is due to clouds, it is obvious that the Wyant et al. result would have a major impact on this estimate.

        Max

      • manacker 4/2/11 3:35 am, state of the climate:

        Occasionally IPCC makes frank admissions, which are on the credit side of its ledger. However, the credit that might go to the statement that cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty is clouded by the fact that IPCC has, as I explained above (3/30 2:19 pm), obfuscated the matter by naming its specific cloud albedo (my term) as cloud albedo, and never discussing cloud albedo as known to the rest of the World, and as used in its own baseline energy budget. This way, IPCC winds up discussing the small difference between small numbers, and misses the dominant and largest feedback (which it also messes up) in all of climate. Cloud albedo is far more important to climate than CO2, which is actually negligible.

        I like Wyant et al.’s name superparameterization Without reading their paper (yet), I take it to be parameterization not to a constant, but parameterization to a variable dependent on other climate parameters, esp. SST. A careful search of IPCC reports could not eliminate the possibility of superparameterization somewhere in its GCMs. But it did seem that if it existed, IPCC would have featured it somewhere in its Assessment Reports.

        The factor of -0.88 W m-2 K-1 might seem substantial, but I fear it is rather useless because the parameter sits in a closed loop. IPCC exaggerates its vaunted climate sensitivity because IPCC determines it open loop with respect to albedo. Even if we could add, or otherwise compare, the radiative forcing per doubling CO2 to the radiative forcing per K, we have no verification that that would be equivalent to a closed loop analysis, nor that the results would predict actual climate measurements, which are inevitably closed loop.

        What we need is climate sensitivity estimated as radiative forcing, for example, per doubling CO2 with superparameterization.

        I wonder if superparameterization will make it into AR5. I’d wager not.

    • Max

      Scenario (A1B) may have predicted higher levels of overall CO2 growth than the level of projected population growth because it is assumed that a larger percentage of the world’s population will be using energy demanding products during that timeframe than today. This would seem to be a correct assumption.

      In the future, it would seem reasonable that countries currently at high levels of economic development will actually reduce the CO2 output on a per capita basis while currently underdeveloped countries will have increased their per capita emissions of CO2.

      • Rob

        Thanks for your post.

        Over the period 1969-2010 population grew at a CAGR of 1.5% per year, GDP at 2.9% and CO2 at 0.44%

        IOW CO2 grew at 15% the CAGR of GDP and 29% the GAGR of population. Over the most recent decade it grew at 20% of the population rate.

        There is a general trend in the developed world for more energy efficiency, less waste and a shift away from fossil fuels.

        The large developing nations have started their recent growth with fossil fuels, but are also looking at switching away from these .

        The poorest nation of this world will most likely build up their energy infrastructures and economies with fossil fuel based power (these are largely non-nuclear nations).

        But it seems unrealistic to me that CO2 should suddenly grow at a much greater CAGR (2 to 4 times) than population, when it has been averaging 15-20% of this rate historically.

        I’d say growth at the same CAGR as population (0.3 CAGR to 2100) is probably a reasonable upper limit assumption.

        Even the 3 lower IPCC “scenarios” assume high CAGR than this: 0.48%, 0.66% and 0.8%, respectively.

        Max

  25. I thank those who have appreciated what I was trying to do, and apologise to those whom I have confused. A little explanation will help.

    Manning Clark House in Canberra is a place for discussion and debate. It has a substantial membership, and I am one of the members. Those who attend tend to be middle-aged to retired, well-educated, and interested in ideas. Last year there occurred what I saw as an AGW sermon from three Strong Supporters. I asked why there had been no speaker from the other side, and was told that the AGWers didn’t want any confusion! I suggested that this was not what the late Manning Clark (Australia’s leading historian) would have wanted. The upshot was that, earlier this year, I was asked to take part in a debate. I said that I would, but I would want to present what I saw as the present state of the debate throughout the world, not to take one side. First, I don’t think that these one-on-one debates convince audiences, because of confirmation bias. Second, I wanted to try presenting the issue as one in which both sides could point to theories, arguments and evidence. My take-home message was (pace Joe Lalonde) that the science plainly was not settled, and that it would be difficult to settle it quickly. For that reason, precipitate attempts by governments to combat climate change through carbon taxes or emissions targets were simply unwise and very likely would be ineffective and costly.

    I had 25 minutes, so I used the paper you have read as background to my talk, and a reminder to me of what I wanted to say. As a few have already pointed out, I didn’t and couldn’t deal with everything. I didn’t go down the ‘Follow the Money’ path, because to do that well I would have needed a completely different talk.

    I was preceded, as Fred Moolten has pointed out, by Dr Andrew Glikson, with whom I have corresponded over the years. He was well organised, coherent and passionate. He provided power point illustrations — indeed, he talked from his slides. All of them would be familiar to readers of this website, some were, in my opinion, out of date, and some used truncated graphs to show sharp rises in temperature or whatever. I did point that out in discussion. Otherwise, I said that nothing that he presented was plainly wrong, but that it was not conclusive because one could provide an opposing view also supported by argument and observational data.

    I did not go into the science in detail at all, for three reasons. First, the point of the whole address was the difficulty that governments face in dealing with an issue like this. Second, my audience did not consist largely of people who could follow a scientific argument very far. And third, I am not a natural scientist myself. I am, however, quite experienced in dealing with scientific issues and making sense of their claims and weaknesses. Somebody has to do that kind of work (because Ministers need many sources of advice), and I enjoy it and have had thirty years in which to practise it. As someone pointed out on another thread, you don’t have to be a laboratory-based science to understand scientific debates.

    My current position is Agnostic Dissenter, though I am certainly sceptical that AGW is likely to be catastrophic to humanity and that, as above, proposed attempts at mitigation will do anything useful at all. But I am always open to argument and new evidence.

    • Don A: Thanks very much for your essay and for your appearance here.

      For some time now I’ve been in search for neutral terms to describe the sides. I like your “orthodox/dissenter” scheme and will experiment with it.

      • It’s not mine. I borrowed it from David Henderson in the UK, and it seems to me to express the difference least offensively.

    • Don,

      thanks for the essay. Some of it resonated with me. Other parts did not.

      Part of the above comment stands out, however.

      ‘My take-home message was (pace Joe Lalonde) that the science plainly was not settled, and that it would be difficult to settle it quickly.’

      This seems like a poor point to get across to an audience that you later say ‘would not follow an scientific argument very far’.

      The questions becomes, what ‘science’ are we discussing and whether that ‘science’ is settled. As you say in the essay, there is a broad spectrum of knowledge we have on the plethora of physical processes we have identified in the climate system.

      What ‘science’ are you trying to get across as not very settled nor unlikely to be settled in the near future?

      I ask this question because, to me at least, this seems to be a point on which those involved in the debate are speaking past each other.

      I think there is a great deal we have to learn. To me, that is the nature of science in general and physical science in particular. But what knowledge have we gained and how does that inform our options on this issue? How can the ‘science’ help us right now? And what do we need to know from ‘science’ for more help?

      To me, those are much more important points and questions to get across to an audience that may not appreciate the ins and outs of the scientific method or the rigors of modern physical science research. Because it seems many people are left feeling as though we are facing a behemoth of a problem and yet we’re stuck yelling at each other over the subtleties of temperature proxies and correctly modeling satellite data.

      How do we now move forward more collectively?

      • I was trying to get across the point that it is not the case that ‘the science is settled’. Indeed, climate science is at a very early stage, and I said that on the night (and have said it elsewhere). If the science is not settled, then it behoves governments to move slowly and cautiously, and not try to save the planet, or humanity, or whatever.

        How do we move forward more collectively? If I were asked, I would propose putting much more energy and money into disentangling the supposed signal of AGW from natural variability, so that it could be measured decently, and we had a better grasp of the future that faces us and how long we have to adapt to it.

        I hope that helps.

        Also, I meant to write ‘scientist’ not ‘science’ in the sixth last line of my comment above.

      • Don Aitkin

        You wrote:

        “I would propose putting much more energy and money into disentangling the supposed signal of AGW from natural variability, so that it could be measured decently, and we had a better grasp of the future that faces us and how long we have to adapt to it.”

        Amen!

        Max

      • Don,

        thanks for your response. I do think there is still some confusion due to their being a lack of specificity in the language that you are trying to use.

        When you are making the case that the science is not settled, I believe from your essay you mean that when forecasts of future climate are produced, we have no idea how much they correspond to the reality that awaits us in the future. I too agree with such a sentiment.

        I also think, however, that there are parts of the science that are very much settled. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases increase the temperature of the surface and lowest portions of the atmosphere of the earth. They also decrease the temperature of the upper reaches of the atmosphere as well as create a latitudinal stratification of surface temperatures.

        All of that can be modeled very well and observations confirm what models tell us for large scale circulations.

        So, to me as a physical scientist, it seems inappropriate to say that the science is or is not settled. Like the response to the debate over AGW, there is a spectrum of settlement on the science. Some of the science is much more understood than other parts of it.

        Because as you point out in your essay, two different people can look at the same spectrum of scientific settlement and come to two different policy positions. It seems best to give them the chance to do that most completely.

    • Don Aitkin

      Thanks for a very thought-provoking essay.

      I suppose I would see myself somewhere between your category 3 and 4, and could actually identify with both premises, as you listed them.

      It is a shame that the IPCC process became corrupted for political reasons, leading to the furtherance of agenda-based science, i.e. searching for the “proof” that AGW is a potential threat, rather than the “truth” about what makes our planet’s climate do what it does.

      It is rare to find an essay on this topic that walks the tightrope of remaining objective rather than becoming partisan. I feel your treatise has been able to achieve that.

      Max

    • I asked why there had been no speaker from the other side, and was told that the AGWers didn’t want any confusion!

      Someone obviously had undergone a radical irony-ectomy.

  26. From the article: “…the earth’s climate does not provide many opportunities for laboratory experiment, while getting good observational data for a planet, as I shall explain, is not as simple as it might appear.”

    Detailed data from a TWO-planet-sized experiment has been available for nearly 20 years, and it is definitive against the consensus climate science (someone tell Don Aitkin, and Congress):

    Venus: No Greenhouse Effect

    This planetary evidence trumps everything else being written. I submitted it to “Physics Today” and got no response, so it’s not my fault it is not available in a peer-reviewed journal. Many of you are aware of it, as I have posted on this many times over the last 4 months. Only an almost universal incompetence , that makes debaters on both sides unable to focus on the definitive evidence, keeps it from being hailed in the media as the game-breaker it in fact is. Increasing atmospheric CO2 neither warms nor cools, it just increases the efficiency of heat transfer within the atmosphere (so that, in the case of Venus, the dark side is as hot as the sunlit side).

    I make up my own category: Competent physical scientist with the sense to find, and decide on the basis of, the critical physical evidence, which in this case simply invalidates the greenhouse effect theory (and radiative transfer theory, as currently applied in climate science, too).

  27. @ Don Aitkin

    >People who have invested a lot of time and energy in their research or their advocacy do not give up easily. Nor do democratic governments, which are always constrained by what they have said and the decisions they have reached in the past. <

    You are being far too kind to Gillard, Don, and you know it. She is totally unconstrained by what she said just 6 months ago

  28. 1.The earth is warming.
    2.This warming is unprecedented.
    3.The warming is caused by the human burning of fossil fuels.
    4.The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic.
    5.The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere.
    6.Things are getting worse, not better.

    Let us verify the above statements using the data.

    1.The earth is warming.

    http://bit.ly/fVD0Gz

    According to the above data, the earth WAS warming, but not since about 2000 as shown in the following chart: http://bit.ly/h86k1W

    2.This warming is unprecedented.

    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    According to the above data, the recent warming from 1970 to 2000 is nearly identical to the previous one from 1910 to 1940, both in magnitude and duration. As a result, the recent warming is nor unprecedented.

    3.The warming is caused by the human burning of fossil fuels.

    Compared to the period from 1910 to 1940, human carbon use in the period 1970 to 2000 had increased by about five-times.

    http://1.usa.gov/gIkojx

    As a result, though there was increase in human carbon use by five-times, there was no corresponding increase in the rate of global warming. As a result, the recent warming is not caused by the use of fossil fuels.

    4.The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic.

    Something natural cannot be dangerous or catastrophic to humanity.

    5.The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere.

    There is no evidence for any danger due to use of greenhouse emissions.

    6.Things are getting worse, not better.
    http://bit.ly/dSA3Ly

    According to the above data, there has not been any warming for 13 years. Things are getting better, not worse (assuming warming is bad).

    That is how I would interpret the data in my university days.

    • Girma,
      Your number 4 pegs the AGW community well.
      It is like Mr. Smtih’s speech from The Matrix.

  29. Don,

    That was an extraordinary experience for me, to hear my own views crystalized in this way. I did a double-take on “Agnostic Dissenter”!

    I found this to be extremely well written and articulated the issues in the debate better than anything I have seen since exploring it deeply over the last 6 months and earlier. Thank you very much. I am copying it to my Climate Change Folder….

  30. “Something natural cannot be dangerous or catastrophic to humanity.”

    I know what you’re trying to say, but I think you leave yourself open to large broadside with that statement.

    Broadly speaking however, I find it hard to disagree with your summation.

    My concern is this: if we accept that the evidence does not currently support cAGW, at what point might it? If economic growth continues with exponentially growing emissions that might affect climate at some point further down the line, it might be prudent to be circumspect, and continue to find safe, cheap alternatives to emission producing energy.

    Clearly there should not be a panic, but it would be interesting to have an idea of what probably would be too much, too quickly (rate of increase) that could influence climate to the point our ability to adapt easily would be compromised.

    • Agnostic

      My concern is this: if we accept that the evidence does not currently support cAGW, at what point might it?

      We start to be concerned about man-made global warming, I think, when the global warming rate for any 30-year period exceeds the maximum warming rate of 0.15 deg C per decade for the period from 1910 to 1940 when carbon use was minimal.

      http://bit.ly/cntDFc

    • Agnostic

      My concern is this: if we accept that the evidence does not currently support cAGW, at what point might it?


      IPCC First Assessment Report, 1990
      8.4 When Will The Greenhouse Effect be Detected?

      According to this section of the report, detection would occur if there was an increase of 0.5 deg C in the global mean temperature in 12 years. This means that a global warming rate of 0.42 (=0.5/12) deg C per decade indicates greenhouse warming.

      According to this criterion, at no point has the global warming rate reached a value of 0.42 deg C per decade so far. As a result, the greenhouse warming has not been detected.

      Here are the global warming rates in deg C per decade for the last three decades:
      1980 to 1990=>0.07
      1990 to 2000=>0.25
      2000 to 2010=>0.03
      http://bit.ly/gesfoT

      • I always enjoy your posts Girma. Clinical, cold, dispassionate, logical with references I can check. It’s really quite refreshing set against so much bluster I normally read on the blogosphere. Thankyou.

      • Agnostic

        Except the passage referred to says nothing of the sort.

        The stated intention of the passage was to provide an upper bound on when the detection would occur, sometime up to 2047.

        The 12 years Girma refers to speaks of the earliest estimated detection in 2002, assuming a maximized warming rate.

        As we well know, 1998 blew that out of the water, though introduced the question of unprecedented noise from natural variability, too.

        One believes therefore Girma’s reference has been made obsolete by developments since, and is amazed to see it referred to (especially so inaccurately) in answer to your question considering new information.

        (http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_08.pdf) on page 253.

        8.4 When Will The Greenhouse Effect be Detected?
        The fact that we have not yet detected the enhanced greenhouse effect leads to the question when is this likely to occur? As noted earlier, detection is not a simple yes/no issue. Rather it involves the gradual accumulation of evidence in support of model preditions, which in parallel with improvements in the models themselves, will increase our confidence in them and progressively narrow the sensitivity. Uncertainties will always remain. Predicting when a certain confidence level might be reached is as difficult as predicting future climate change – more so, in fact, since it requires at least estimates of bothe the future signal and the future noise level.
        Nevertheless, we can provide some information on the time-scale for detection by using the unprecedented change concept mentioned briefly in Section 8.1.4. This should provide an upper bound to the time for detection since more sophisticated methods should produce earlier results. We take a conservative view as a starting point, namely that the magnitude of natural variability is such that all of the warming of the past century could be attributed to this cause. (Note that this is not the same as denying the existence of an enhanced greenhouse effect. With such a noise level the past warming could be explained as a 1C greenhouse effect offset by 0.5C natural variability.) We then assume, again somewhat arbitrarily, that a further 0.5C warming (i.e. a total warming of 1C since the late nineteenth century) is required before we could say with high confidence, that the only possible explanation would be that the enhanced greenhouse effect was as strong as predicted by climate models. Given the range of uncertainty in future forcing predictions and future model-predicted warming, when would this elevated temperature level be reached?
        The answer is given in Figure 8.5. The upper curve shows the global mean warming for the Business-as-Usual Scenario (see Appendix I) assuming a set of upwelling diffusion climate model parameters that maximizes the warming rate (viz, dT2x=4.5C; K=0.63cm^2sec^1 and pi=0). Under these circumstances, detection (as defined above) would occur in 12 years. The lower curve shows the global-mean warming for the lowest forcing Scenario (D in the Annex) with model parameters chosen to minimize the warming rate (viz, dT2x=1.5C; K=1.27 cm^2sec-1 and pi=1). Detection does not occur until 2047.
        On the basis of this simple analysis alone we might conclude that detection is unlikely to occur before the year 2000…

        Agree or disagree with IPCC, be well-versed or not in the many developments since that make obsolete this section, there’s no way to read Girma’s claim as anything but error or attempt to deceive.

      • Agree or disagree with IPCC, be well-versed or not in the many developments since that make obsolete this section, there’s no way to read Girma’s claim as anything but error or attempt to deceive.


        We then assume, again somewhat arbitrarily, that a further 0.5C warming (i.e. a total warming of 1C since the late nineteenth century) is required before we could say with high confidence, that the only possible explanation would be that the enhanced greenhouse effect was as strong as predicted by climate models.

        ….

        Under these circumstances, detection (as defined above) would occur in 12 years.

        Don’t the above two paragraph say 0.5 deg C warming in 12 years for detection for Business-as-Usual Scenario?

      • Sigh

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1899/to:1998 (just for fun)

        The 12 years referred to in this context is very clearly and explicity the minimum expectation one could have for an answer to the question of when, that is 12 years from the date of writing, or 2002.

        This is clear in figure 8.5.

        This is explicit in the stated range of answers 2002-2047.

        There is simply no way to take the authors’ intent as representing no proof of AGW absent a decade with 0.42C warming, other than failure to grasp the language and context of the report or deliberate misreading.

        The reference _I_ made to 1998 was to a significant outlier that demonstrated that the assumptions about natural variability, though the authors believed them conservative, may not have been valid, because a clearly El Nino caused temperature spike had all the hallmarks of natural variability, or at least moreso than of climate change.

        That was what blew section 8.4 out of the water.

        The authors were looking not for a 0.42C increase in a decade, but a 1.0C increase since the late 19th century.

        I don’t particularly see either of these numbers are particularly valid, but the authors set out their reasoning clearly and plainly.

        Girma’s reasoning, however clear and plain, when compared to the facts, is clearly and plainly just in error.

      • Pure obfuscation!

        Statements mean what they say:

        Under these circumstances, detection (as defined above) would occur in 12 years.

      • Girma’s reasoning is rarely in error, but your interpretation is another matter.

      • People are free to click the link, go to page 253 of the report, read it in its original form, look at Figure 8.5 and decide for themselves.

        The context is clear. The answer in the 1990 report to the question of ‘When?’ is, ‘uncertain, but likely somewhere between 12 years from the date of the report (2002) to 2047.’

        There is absolutely no statement in the report that a 0.5C rise in a 12 year timeframe would be a necessary proof of AGW, but merely that such a rise would be the earliest indicator they could conservatively imagine. Indeed, their range was 12 years to 57 years. And a 0.5C rise in 57 years — less than one fifth of what Girma asserts they intend — the authors apparently felt would be persuasive of AGW.

        The only obfuscation is Girma’s.

        And really, why go back over two decades, when there are newer reports since then, to answer the original question?

        Especially if you’re going to cherry-pick and misrepresent wildly?

      • The upper curve shows the global mean warming for the Business-as-Usual Scenario

        The upper curve (in Figure 8.5 of the report) corresponds to a warming of 0.5 deg C in 12 years. See it your self.

        Bart, your are telling me not to believe my own eyes.

      • The lower curve shows the global-mean warming for the lowest forcing Scenario

        The lower curve (in Figure 8.5 of the report) corresponds to a warming of 0.5 deg C in 57 years.

        Bart, did we have business-as-usual or lowest forcing scenario?

      • Girma

        “Bart, did we have business-as-usual or lowest forcing scenario?”

        Are you then admitting your error with your nonsensical 0.42C/decade as a condition of AGW detection claim?

        Because you can’t be asking that question, and holding that view simultaneously.

        Either you’re understanding that section 8.4 says pretty much nothing like what you claimed about 0.42C/decade being necessary, or you’re not understanding what you’re asking about the 0.0877C/decade detection level.

        Have we had 2 decades of rising 30 year temperature trend for every decade of falling 30 year temperature trend since the late 19th century.

        (http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1982/to:2011/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1972/to:2001/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1962/to:1991/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1952/to:1981/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1942/to:1971/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1932/to:1961/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1922/to:1951/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1912/to:1941/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1902/to:1931/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1892/to:1921/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1882/to:1911/trend)

        These rising decades become increasingly dominant on the graph with time, and tend to be much larger individually than their corresponding dropping decades.

        Even so, by the (they believed) conservative detection standards of the IPPC in section 8.4 of their 1990 report, detection hasn’t been confirmed yet.

        AGW may never be confirmed by this singular and dated standard of detection.

        That tells us nothing of whether AGW is true or not.

        “But the data does not say it causes global warming outside natural variations.”

        The data is much more persuasive that the increasing CO2E levels do cause warming beyond natural variation than the alternative argument. You’ve seen this data and these arguments and chosen to dismiss them with your cherry-picked line drawings.

        That’s fine, you’re entitled to fool yourself.

        It takes invalid methods, such as you frequently employ, to believe otherwise.

        And that just doesn’t matter to me, one way or the other.

        I don’t need to have demonstrated for me a harm of theft to know I don’t want to be stolen from.

        The CO2E level of air, as with all air issues, pertains to my shared rights and obligations as a co-equal holder of that common resource.

        There is a CO2E budget in air, a ceiling level past which harm is certain.

        There is, clearly, a series of such ceilings, some of which we know we are past – for example as the rising CO2E level into ranges not seen in over 10 million years in and of itself is a harm, an added Risk, a new territory we have not explored as human beings on our planet before, with the attendant costs of such Risk.

        What could possibly be so fascinating about the comparatively puny impacts of the temperature part of this issue, when the whole rising CO2E domain is much larger, more complex, and frankly more interesting?

      • Bart

        What could possibly be so fascinating about the comparatively puny impacts of the temperature part of this issue, when the whole rising CO2E domain is much larger, more complex, and frankly more interesting?

        That is fine for you Bart.

        But have not some scared a mostly illiterate world with man made catastrophe without solid evidence? That is extremely callous.

      • Girma

        “..have not some scared a mostly illiterate world with man made catastrophe without solid evidence? That is extremely callous.”

        Are you scared?

        Have you panicked and run off to live in some underground bunker?

        The scale of CAGW scare in the world appears tiny compared to the Y2K scare so far as I can tell.

        On about the same scale as the nuclear fallout scares, so far as my impressions of them go.

        All I can do is tell my truth, and correct the errors I see that are within my scope to address.

        Which in large part these days are errors Girma has made.

        IPCC errors, I tackle only those I have credible basis to refute or point out.

        Between Girma and the IPCC, I see more cause to fear the results of Girma’s mistakes.

      • Between Girma and the IPCC, I see more cause to fear the results of Girma’s mistakes.

        Here is what 83.8% of online voters say about the IPCC:

        The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is: a corrupt organization, prone to groupthink, with a political agenda.
        http://svy.mk/frwSV7

        Here is what an insider wrote about the IPCC:

        …the fact is that in doing so the rules of IPCC have been softened to the point that in this way the IPCC is not any more an assessment of published science (which is its proclaimed goal) but production of results. The softened condition that the models themself have to be published does not even apply because the Japanese model for example is very different from the published one which gave results not even close to the actual outlier version (in the old dataset the CCC model was the outlier). Essentially, I feel that at this point there are very little rules and almost anything goes.
        http://bit.ly/afSp5h

      • As we well know, 1998 blew that out of the water, though introduced the question of unprecedented noise from natural variability, too.

        In 12 years, from 1986 to 1998, the global mean temperature increased by only 0.11 deg C, not by 0.5 deg C!

        http://bit.ly/dExv2F

        There is no “blew that out” here at all!

      • …Girma’s claim as anything but error or attempt to deceive.

        That statement does not apply to me; it may apply to your side who said, we give data at our own peril

        http://bit.ly/bn5Js8

      • Girma

        My side?

        You seem to assign everyone who disagrees with you all to the same side.

        Why is that?

        The world is not divided into neat groups like that.

        I clearly see significant problems with section 8.4 of the IPCC report, and applaud about it only the humility and striving for a conservative approach .. and for showing however conservative one’s estimates about the future may seem at the time, they may not be conservative enough one way or another.

        AGW isn’t really a very important idea to me.

        I know CO2E levels are increasing, and that human activities are the cause.

        Why not discuss that far more useful tidbit?

      • Bart

        I know CO2E levels are increasing, and that human activities are the cause.

        I cannot disagree with you. That is what the data says.

        But the data does not say it causes global warming outside natural variations.

    • Agnostic

      You wrote:

      If economic growth continues with exponentially growing emissions that might affect climate at some point further down the line, it might be prudent to be circumspect, and continue to find safe, cheap alternatives to emission producing energy.

      I agree fully with finding “safe, cheap alternatives to emission producing energy”, but let’s look at the climate aspect.

      Between 1969 and 2010:

      Human population increased from 3.63 to 6.82 billion, or a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.52%
      GDP has from 15.0 to 50.2 trillion US$ (2005), or a CAGR rate of 2.91%
      http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/macroeconomics/

      Atmospheric CO2 increased from 323 to 389 ppmv, or a CAGR of 0.44%
      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

      Over the past decade population growth has decreased to a CAGR of 1.06%, and it is slowing down year by year.

      The UN tells us that human population will slow down even more in the future, and grow from 6.82 billion today to a peak of around 9 billion in 2100, or a CAGR of 0.30%
      http://iis-db.stanford.edu/evnts/3961/Joe_Chamie_Population_to_2300.pdf

      The CAGR of CO2 (i.e. energy consumption) has historically grown more slowly, i.e. at 29% of population CAGR and 15% of GDP CAGR. It is expected to grow at an even smaller percentage as energy conservation investments are installed and industry switches away from increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

      So let’s assume that GDP grows at 2.5 times the projected population CAGR, and that CO2 grows at the same CAGR as population (a pessimistic assumption, in my opinion).

      We would then have the following figures for year 2100:
      Population: 9 billion
      Real GDP (2005$): 99 billion
      CO2 (ppmv): 513

      Depending on whether you use the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of Spencer (0.6C) or IPCC (3.2C), you arrive at warming from today to 2100 of 0.2 to 1.3C or 0.75C±0.55C.

      So the warming is about the same as we have seen since 1900 and nothing to get excited about.

      Eventually running out of fossil fuels is a bigger worry, and for that reason it makes sense to switch longer-term to nuclear or other renewable technologies, where these make economic sense. The current Japanese nuclear disaster may slow down new nuclear construction, but it will resume again (most likely with added safeguards and outside earthquake zones).

      At least that’s my idea, for what it’s worth.

      Max

  31. Dr Don Aitkin failed to mention one major difference between the ortodox-warmists and the dissenter-deniers:
    The warmists believe that to reduce emissions all you have to do is implement some nice policies like cap&trade, a carbon tax , renewable mandates and a lot of subsidies for green enregy. When these policies are implemented, we can make a swift transition (Joe Romm: 10 years) to green energy, and continue our normal lives, without CO2 emissions.

    The deniers claim this is utterly un-realistic and delusional. We do not posses the tecnology of carbon-free energy. Wind and solar are utterly unadequate to provide the amount of energy we need. The alarmist policies will lead to energy austerity and scarcity, poverty, and a profound change in our lifestyles. Most important, no significant reduction in emissions will be acheived.
    So, even if AGW is catastrophic, no mitigation (emissions reduction) is possible, adaptation will be the only option. This is based on a realistic view of our tecnological capabilities. The policies advocated by the ortodox-warmists will make us poor and hinder adaptation, i.e. – will make matters worse.

    • Excellent point. Yes, for all its merits, it does too lack an economic analysis of the political policies based on pi in the sky alternative energy technologies, assumed into existence by the likes of Romm. Which underpins again the point that alarmism is essentially campaign to foist more politics onto us.

  32. The debate on this point isn’t about science, it’s about a realistic assessment of our technical capabilities.
    The warmists claim that new, green, technologies will be developed. Well, they might be and might not be. The problems are not trivial. You can’t decree that new technologies be developed. Until we have these hoped for new technologies, we should not curtail or hinder the production of the energy we need by the means available to us. The AGW hysteria is doing already this: preventing the developement of energy resources (power plants, drilling).

  33. The warmists claim that new, green, technologies will be developed

    Will be built. It’s a bit like the fantasy in the movie Field of Dreams
    – “If you build it, he will come”

    but their version being something like
    - “If you tax, they will build it”.

    • Punksta –
      Only one thing is certain in this respect – either new technologies and new energy sources will come – or humankind will revert to historic levels and possible extinction. Of course, that could have been said at any time in the last 5000 years. The pitiful part is that a segment of the human race is trying to speed up the process by forcing universal reversion to pre-technology levels.

  34. I must take a dig at the liberal-academic-intellectuel mindset:
    “We, wise educated and morally superior people must just tell those dumb engineers what is required, and they’ll go and build it. You see, those engineers are capable of building anything, it’s only the vision and moral clarity ans a sense of right that they lack, and we must supply it. We shall decree and they will make it happen. We cannot be bothered with such mundane details as ‘how is it done’. “

  35. What should we do about AGW?

    What did we do about Piltdown Man, Cold Fusion, Schön’s nanotechnology, phrenology, Big Foot, Mead’s Samoans, Hwang’s cloned stem cells, Reuben’s celebrex studies, plus other big government isms (socialism, Marxism, Keynesianism), … .

    The human brain builds models from observations of its environment, from projections of the real world on our senses. It perpetually sorts and low-pass filters the data, generalizing into ever more useful and robust models. Thus, we are by nature conservative – à posteriori — and resistant to change. This mode would be reinforced by proper science training.

    Liberal thought — that is, not-conservative, flexible, à priori — is unnatural. Theory trumps data. It requires training, best applied to a blank slate, hence universities, now pushed down into public schools. Hence liberal arts, and the fields of process over substance, e.g., law, education, MBA. Of course, liberalism can be faked for profit, hence left wing politicians.

    Wisdom includes not making premature decisions. As Obama said recently, this is not the time to leap to conclusions. Translation: we’ll leap to conclusions later.

    So, Q: What should we do with AGW? A: Wait. It is already in its death throes.

  36. Moderator, could you please delete the OTHER post, as it has some error?

    1.The earth is warming.
    2.This warming is unprecedented.
    3.The warming is caused by the human burning of fossil fuels.
    4.The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic.
    5.The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere.
    6.Things are getting worse, not better.

    Let us verify the above statements using the data.

    1.The earth is warming.

    http://bit.ly/fVD0Gz

    According to the above data, the earth WAS warming, but not since about 2000 as shown in the following chart: http://bit.ly/h86k1W

    2.This warming is unprecedented.

    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    According to the above data, the recent warming from 1970 to 2000 is nearly identical to the previous one from 1910 to 1940, both in magnitude and duration. As a result, the recent warming is not unprecedented.

    3.The warming is caused by the human burning of fossil fuels.

    Compared to the period from 1910 to 1940, human carbon use in the period 1970 to 2000 had increased by about five-times.

    http://1.usa.gov/gIkojx

    As a result, though there was increase in human carbon use by five-times, there was no increase in the rate of global warming. As a result, the recent warming is not caused by the use of fossil fuels.

    4.The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic.

    There is no evidence for greenhouse warming so the fear of danger or catastrophe is just imaginary. The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 0.039%, and in this tiny amount, human emission is only 3% and the remaining 97% is released from natural sources.

    5.The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere.

    There is no evidence for any danger due to use of greenhouse emissions.

    6.Things are getting worse, not better.
    http://bit.ly/dSA3Ly

    According to the above data, there has not been any warming for 13 years. Things are getting better, not worse (assuming warming is bad).

    That is how most would interpret the data.

  37. Part ONE. Wow! 98 comments on the first day, 171 today (Wednesday). My comment would be less than one percent of this pile. But reading the article tells me I should respond. However, before I get into the science of it I note that you, like I, took an interest in climate science fairly recently. You cite 2007 as the year when you started following it. For me it was 2008, and the stimulus was Al Gore’s movie. It is true that I had read about Stephen Schneider in the nineties but that was to find out about his genius award. The article stated that he he got the MacArthur fellowship of 1992 because he was one of the editors on the 1990 IPCC report and was able to write in wording that warned about global warming. The article gave both the original version and his version but I in my ignorance did not see the difference. He also said the award came at the right time because he was in the middle of a bitter divorce and had spent his resources on that. I had forgotten all about this but remembered it when Climategate came out. I tried to Google the article but unfortunately Google will not give it to me. If you Google his name and divorce you get divorce lawyers. If you Google his marriage you are told that Terry Root is his wife, no previous history. His CV is likewise silent and he himself has passed on to a happy climate grounds. It is quite impossible that Google does not know that article and the only thing I can think of is that they are covering up. That Google Scholar project is a giveaway that they have been on the warmist (AGW) side all along and very likely have pulled strings to make them look good. This is not a fantasy because Wikipedia likewise has been audited and changed by warmists, reportedly in many small ways that can’t be noticed. All this is in addition to Climategate I will cover in depth later. But now lets talk about what happened after I saw the movie. Al claimed a sea level rise of twenty feet by the end of the century and showed a map of Florida under water. To me it sounded like an alternate history and I had to understand what was going on. I had taken geology in college but this was before plate tectonics and Wegener was being vilified by the science establishment. We went to a field trip in the Catskills and there, in a place called “Garden of the Gods” I discovered the same fossil chain corals I had collected as a high school kid on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. But the professor had already told us that Wegener was wrong and I did not dare suggest that maybe Europe and North America were united in the Ordovician. Besides seeing the wrong-headedness of official science I did pick up a feeling for time required for inundations in geologic time. And both of these observations told me that Gore is wrong. But how to prove it? I was not an academic, my research had all been in industry, and I had switched to teaching science when Nixon canceled the last three moon shots. I was already retired from all that but the Internet made up for lack of academic support. I decided to try to straighten out this obvious mess and the first thing I discovered was an article on sea level rise in Science of 11th April 2008. The three authors collected data on all dams built in the worlds since the year 1900 and corrected the reported sea level values for water held in storage. The world sea level curve, so corrected, became linear for at least the last eighty years and had a slope of 2.46 millimeters per year. Something that has been linear that long, I decided, was not about to change anytime soon. And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to determine that for a century this works out to a little under ten inches, not twenty feet. Gore was so far off that there is not even a word for it. It was time to do some serious science, I decided, and the results it produced is what Part TWO will be all about. In it I shall completely demolish all six theses of the “central AGW argument” in your article.

  38. A colleague suggests that a seventh statement should be added to those listed by Aitkin as “the central AGW position:”

    7. The need for urgent action before it becomes too late.

    • 7. The need for urgent action before it becomes too late.

      Any action is futile before detection of the greenhouse warming of 0.42 deg C per decade.

      The current warming rate is only 0.03 deg C per decade.

      http://bit.ly/dSA3Ly

  39. Don

    Thanks very much for an excellent article.

    Don, I have a question for you.

    Don’t you think there is contradiction in the following two statements?

    one is thus forced to argue that that heating up causes cooling down

    my own position remains agnostic

  40. I was very keen to pick on Bart – it was an unfortunate Lord of the Flies impulse. His carbon tax is nonsense. It is a tax intended to raise prices of energy to that needed to create a market for high cost low carbon technologies. In the most likely outcome it will fail and just result in churning taxes between consumer, government and producer. A waste of everyone’s time and money. In the unlikely event that high cost low carbon alternatives were implemented, there would be no tax revenue, no recompense and a high cost and low productivity economy.

    But the level of analysis here is appalling. Surely you can go deeper than endless reappraisals of the surface temperature record and linear regression? Surely by now you have enough information to conceive of the uncertain and the non-linear?

    I am disappointed that the Dragon King is so poorly served.

    • Chief

      I’ve moved forward some since last we spoke.

      Clearly, speaking with you on this topic stimulates some growth of ideas and understanding.

      Well, not you per se, so much as other, clearer thinkers like Rob Starkey and Punksta, but let’s not quibble.

      “It is a tax intended to raise prices of energy to that needed to create a market for high cost low carbon technologies.”

      Two taxes, now.

      Well, not really two taxes.

      One regulatory measure, one tax.

      The first, the regulatory measure, would be a CO2E standard: a convention for measuring the CO2E of a product like gasoline of a certain octane or coal of a certain grade, and mediating the payment of the CO2E budget rent on that product to its shareholders per capita at the level of diminishing returns to shareholders, as with any good in a fair market.

      The second, the one that is a tax, would be the tax on that. It would be Pigouvian, of course, and imposed to counter the decades of habit-forming free-ridership.. and I regret it and hope there is no need to implement it.

      You know of course the reasons I have put forward for pricing CO2E budget: it is a scarce resource due to the ceiling the air can absorb before photosynthesis fails to dispose of the excess waste, due to the next ceiling the geophysical buffers can absorb before failing to draw CO2E out of the atmosphere, due to the next ceilings of lasting changes to the biosphere and the consequential risks evolving from those perturbationsl further, it harms the market not to price this scarce resource, due to distortions and free ridership; further, the pricing of this resource is administratively simple; further, there is only tiny marginal cost associated with collecting and distributing the revenues; further, the direct and indirect benefits to the market in other ways are significant and desirable; further, the democracy of fair market capitalism is just the right moral thing to do.

      “In the most likely outcome it will fail and just result in churning taxes between consumer, government and producer. A waste of everyone’s time and money.”

      Tax churn?

      You have been reading textbooks, Chief! Good on you.

      Read some more current ones, I recommend, and do some of the math; deconstruct how much less churn there would be with a revenue neutral carbon tax than the current system, even in Australian.

      You can do it.

      If you need some help with the advanced work, let me know, I’ll step you through it.

      “In the unlikely event that high cost low carbon alternatives were implemented, there would be no tax revenue, no recompense and a high cost and low productivity economy.”

      Said with the same revolutionary zeal as the engineer who in 1981 told me no domestic telephone line would ever carry more than 2700 baud. Or the other engineer who a few years later told me you’d never get more than 140 cell phone users per cell, nor could any 5 mile diameter zone handle more than one cell tower.

      Chief, you’re a smart guy, but your genius does not equal the ingenuity of the Invisible Hand.

      “But the level of analysis here is appalling. Surely you can go deeper than endless reappraisals of the surface temperature record and linear regression? Surely by now you have enough information to conceive of the uncertain and the non-linear?”

      I’m with you here, Chief.

      Would that the Invisible Hand were a Foot, to kick people off the obstinacy of outdated and limited models to something a bit more recent than 18th-century modes of analysis.

      Not to say these modes don’t have their uses, or that you, Chief, or I, have done sufficient work to identify how the new methods ought be applied and when the old hold some validity.

  41. Me “In the unlikely event that high cost low carbon alternatives were implemented, there would be no tax revenue, no recompense and a high cost and low productivity economy.”

    You ‘Said with the same revolutionary zeal as the engineer who in 1981 told me no domestic telephone line would ever carry more than 2700 baud. Or the other engineer who a few years later told me you’d never get more than 140 cell phone users per cell, nor could any 5 mile diameter zone handle more than one cell tower.’

    So – lets imagine a situation in which all electricity was supplied from solar panels – with battery backup – at 20 times the cost of coal fired electricity (raoflol). It would attract no carbon tax and so there would be nothing to redistribute in your socialist utopia – nada – not a sous – nic. Then we would be paying 20 times the cost of a basic productive input etc…

    As for methods – we are in the same boat as anyone else. There are some vague notions about slowing down and Dragon Kings. The old methods are applicable to linear systems.

    Now go play outside – or I will be tempted to reconsider the piggy hunting option.

    • Chief

      Wow.

      This is eerie.

      I’m hearing almost word-for-word the same type of logic as in 1981 about baud rates.

      Are you sure you weren’t a telephone engineer before you learned to operate a backhoe?

      • Smart arse comment can only take you so far – in your case a rather long, long and tedious road. Must you continue with content less comment?

        I take it that you imply the likelihood of technological advancement – an advance equivalent say to that of progress from the digging stick to an excavator? And that this might be magically accomplished with a carbon tax rather than R&D?

        I wish you would spell it out logically instead of this persistent and annoying nonsense. Something that obviously has no purpose other than to insult and belittle? Something that does nothing for open dialectic? Something pointless and mean spirited like a carbon tax?

        C’est la guerre – piggy.

      • Chief

        With ferd berple, Max and yourself all against me, how can I be wrong?

        The tedious road of discussing these issues with you, of elevating your discourse out of the gin puddle I found you in and raising you up to enlightened discussion of real issues, so far as you are able to handle them yet, is to me well worth it for the advances you have made.

        You’ve come a long way from your digging stick days of poon-chasing and Australian origami, and in so short a time.

        Congratulations, and well done.

        Let’s look at the case for government-funded R&D from general revenues vs. private-sector funded R&D based on sound economic judgments in a revenue-neutral carbon-pricing economy (ie, with CO2E revenues paid only to shareholders in air per capita, but no excessive or Pigouvian tax on top of the fair market price of CO2E diverted to the government).

        1. Every dollar collected from Australians and put into R&D will suffer all the tax churn consequences you speak of; indeed, the churn will be practically indefinitely prolonged, due to the extreme lead times between government-funded research and arrival in the market of goods resulting from this R&D.

        2. Government R&D is outrageously inefficient. To my certain knowledge, the waste and padding in bureacratized institutions of this sort — remembering that I have first hand audit experience and have seen this shocking waste repeatedly — is endemic, culturally accepted by all levels in government, and generally hidden by longstanding practice.

        3. The exceptions to 2.) are real, though rare, and we cannot count on them in this case.

        4. There’s no need for a 4., and 3. was a waste of breath.

        Now the private-sector case:

        Exhibits:

        a) The Internet. Once released to the wild, after the government stopped ‘developing’ the technology in a few dozen academic and military institutions, the WWW exploded through private investment and private development, bursting out of the too-limited scope its original government-backed researchers envisioned. How long did it take to go from two machines to two thousand? Decades, in government hands. How long from two thousand to two billion?

        b.) Cell phones. No, too depressing, looking at the mess American politicians have made of this brilliant technological frontier in North America.

        c.) NASA. Sure, it was the big buyer of all these wonders of technology needed to make the race to the moon work, from orange drink crystals to transistors to IC’s, or whatever NASA rightfully claims to have inspired, but NASA didn’t invent these things directly for the most part, and the ingenuity and industry of the private industry drove the technology revolution, not the space racers.

        d.) The lack of actual useful returns per tax dollar spent directly to the taxpayer from government R&D. Sure, institutions of advanced learning maintain something of a stranglehold on many types of research due to cosy government-industry-academic intertwinings that I’m sure Oliver can tell you all about, but when these things kick into overdrive, they kick free of that world with as much haste as they can.

        Only big industries with the means to pressure legislators for subsidy keep their R&D in ‘public’ instititions.

        Why wouldn’t they? They’ve got the taxpayer paying for their benefit.

        Why wouldn’t they? Most of the ones that make the most money from new R&D and new ideas, take for example Research In Motion, fly as far from public money and its inefficiency and stagnation as they can.

      • You embarrass yourself – again – Le Pétomane – and this time is it more sinisterly Orwellian? ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’ And the less said about the confusion of poon with this bicycling life the better – although on reflection the etymology is persuasive.

        Perhaps it is more sweetly Quixotic – a loss of reason in the illusion of a noble quest? Reason is not sadly missed where there is great love, humour and honour remaining. As I have quoted before –

        ‘You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
        I made a Second Marriage in my house;
        Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
        And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.’

        What do I care about government waste? As far as I am concerned it is all waste. Think of it as a Manhattan Project. Most of the bucks are wasted but at the end of the day there might be a big bang.

        I can only describe your tax proposal as madly Quixotic. Something I approve of. If you can convince the world to redistribute wealth to the Kalahari Bushmen on the basis of comparative emissions – I approve. Go forth noble knight of La Mancha. Manhattan? Now there’s an idea.

      • Chief

        Excellent, another convinced convert to the cause.

        I’m glad you’re beginning to see the light of truth.

        Now, to harness your mere approval and turn it into something useful.

        You’ve noted elsewhere that it appears the oceans are warming, or at least have warmed in the past decade.

        You’ve also wisely (I believe) not characterized this as AGW, due in part the problems of attribution one expects, or just sound and prudent scientific conservatism.

        I’ve taken the same approach with the retreat of the arctic sea ice in extent, mass and volume. The shifting habitat ranges of wild animals and plants. The shifting start of spring budding and pollen and seasons while spring frost dates remain more-or-less fixed. Etc. And I’ve kept out of the consilience question entirely as the math hurts your head.

        You have, if I recall correctly, also in the past endorsed the view that CO2E rise can be attributed to human agents to a high level of certainty.

        I’m not quite certain yet you grasp the Risk vs. harm argument, but we can work on that if you still have questions.

        The question is, will you be participating publicly in Australia as a voice promoting a revenue-neutral carbon tax with full per capita reimbursement of Australians for the cost of Risk the emission of CO2E?

        The reason I ask, I need to know if you plan to spend your CO2E revenues on more gin, or if you’re planning to move up to a more sophisticated entertainment?

        One hears wonders about Australia’s finer quality wine products, and knows that, with your OCD, you’ll become rather expert in the stuff once you can afford it.

        Will you provide some recommendations on Australian wines when you do become expert thus?

        You see, I have friends who insist on stocking the stuff, and wish to be able to converse with them amiably about their selections.

      • Energy in less energy out is equal to the change in global energy storage. This can be expressed as:

        Ein/s – Eout/s = d(GES)/dt

        As energy out decreased in CERES data from 2000 in both LW (towards the end of the period) and SW the rate of change in global energy storage is positive and the planet warmed a little – mostly in the SW. I understand that the math is a little simple minded – but it is the best I can do.

        To answer last questions first – it is a mixed harvest this year. The cool wet conditions have promoted fungus and half the crop is lost while, for the grapes that survived, the conditions have produced grapes that promise complex flavours and a fine, fresh acidity.

        Vermentino is a new favourite variety managed by shoot and bunch thinning to halve the yield and increase the quality. I’d recommend the 2010 Running With the Bulls and Ducks in a Row Vermentinos – both with an alcohol content of 11.5% and available in Australia at less than $20. Drink it before 2013 and always buy the screwtop bottle. Science before the romance of the cork.

        Running With the Bulls is picked at night, crushed and destemmed prior to being given skin contact to increase flavour and aroma. Once pressed the juice is cold settled before a cold ferment in a stainless steel vat – with lees stirring for 2 months adding texture and mid-palate weight. It has an aromatic and complex bouquet of nashi pear and grapefruit pith, the excellent palate picking up and expanding those characteristics before finishing with a crisp acidity.

        You assume that warming was caused by CO2. The only real data we have on the surface conditions is satellite derived. This quite clearly shows that cloud changes were the dominant cause of climate change in recent times. The instrumental temperature is a little dodgy. North America, Alaska and the Arctic were as warm in the 1930′s/40′s. Europe didn’t warm until the 1980′s and then abruptly. But even if we accept the global mean – what is seen there is abrupt change that we have discussed extensively elsewhere.

        The only longer term temperature proxy I put much store in the accuracy of involves micromilling of calcite from bivalves. This seems to show that Greenland was as warm 1000 years ago as today.

        I am expecting that much of the temperature change was driven by chaotic fluctuations in the solar magneto. Not a big fan of cosmic rays but solar UV seems to have a more direct influence – especially on the AO, SAM and ENSO which are major modes of climate change. The correlations are to obvious and extensive to ignore.

        Climate changes much more in the SW than in the LW – it is just a fact of physics. Hell, I’m expecting the planet to cool. This is not just short term cooling as the cool IPO we are in intensifies – but heading down from a 1000 year high.

        How fast is the question because in a dynamical complex system it can be very fast indeed. I don’t think you understand that climate sensitivity in the region of a climate bifurcation is very high. The risk, and it is appreciable, is that of sensitive dependence and Dragon Kings.

        I don’t expect very much of you Bart – but please don’t just repeat a pious mantra word perfectly. Think about the issues and problems – more than that imaginatively visualise scenarios and respond with the heart and soul not just the mind.

        The average person lives on lives on $2/day. We cannot create the growth necessary to overcome this blight on humanity this century with current energy technologies – let alone those that are 2 or 3 times more expensive. It is a prescription for genocide. A crime against humanity. Now a lot of people think that economic growth is not desirable – but that’s what the dildo is for. They can go and…

        Far from being a Sancho Panza to your Don Quixote – I must insist that much of the science and all of the economics of climate change is nonsense or worse.

      • I should in fact qualify by stating that energy in has also decreased somewhat from the maxima to minima of solar cycle 23.

      • Chief

        I should have known you would be a wine expert; clearly planning ahead for when you begin collecting your CO2E revenues.

        “You assume that warming was caused by CO2.”

        Really, I don’t.

        I don’t know the ins and outs of every current, wave, wind, eddie, wisp, vapour, butterfly wing and eroding shoreline in the world that might contribute to the chaos of the climate.

        I don’t dynamically track the 40 or more billion dynamically significant data points it might take to properly attribute causes and connections in the climate of the world, nor do I know what might qualify a locus or a measure to be one of those significant metrics. And if I did, I’d admit to no solution the problem of dodgy instrumentation.

        I’m a simple guy who, as you do when taking the CERES data and doing your little algebraic substitutions, looks for simple ways to answer questions that satisfy the needs of decision-making, not the whims of scientific inquiry.

        Indeed, being far less a scientist than yourself, Chief, I’m far less hung up on the trivia and less distracted by it.

        AGW is that trivia. I don’t need to assume warming, because AGW never really comes into play in my simplified decision process, since the decision process doesn’t need to consider warming.

        A for Air. We have been presented with substantial bodies of evidence about CO2E.

        B for Bounds. These bodies establish that CO2E levels in air have a ceiling property of scarcity, that is an upper limit before which we know some harm will be reached.

        C for Collection. We know it is feasible to administer pricing on CO2E on the market, as if for any other good, making use of the retail and income tax systems of nations to collect for citizens per capita their fair share of the price and deliver to citizens per capita this revenue.

        A. B. C. We don’t need to know anything more than this to decide to impose a price on CO2E emissions, if we wish to hold to the strict model of capitalism.

        If you’re not a capitalist, more power to you. Understand that non-capitalist approaches will be more costly, will be a drag on the economy, amount to certain theft by free riders, and will encourage waste and sloth.

        Although this measure might reduce CO2E emissions (but isn’t certain to if elasticity is positive or zero), it isn’t about cAGW or AGW. It’s about the marketplace, no less than pricing grapes and bottles of wine.

        You’d be very put out, Chief, if some free rider raided your wine cellar and stole your Vermentino, thinking it was free. (After all, it all came from the air, didn’t it?)

        Indeed, to stop the plunder of your vast crates of potables, we have laws to prevent even one burglar from taking even one swig and then screwing the cap back on backwash and all.

        You’d be as put out if every grape in the vineyard were picked clean by free riders wandering by and thinking to themselves they could take what they wanted without paying.

        Indeed, to prevent this, we stop even one single grape from being so plucked by even one free rider.

        Why not apply the same principle to the ceiling on CO2E that we know must be there?

        Don’t be distracted by Punksta and Pittman.

        They clearly don’t want to see you succeed at learning how we do capitalism in America.

        We don’t need to demonstrate the harm of hitting or passing the ceiling or passing out and hitting the floor.

        We only need to know that there may be a ceiling or floor, that is scarcity, to justify using market mechanisms.

        All the rest of the climate triv.. er, physics, that you entertain us with, very nice and all, but a small part of the debate. A digression. Things we lack the power to change.

        We should pay attention to the things we can change. Those are our responsibility.

        Now, to get to the relevant things you seem unclear on, Chief.

        1. “The average person lives on lives on $2/day. We cannot create the growth necessary to overcome this blight on humanity this century with current energy technologies – let alone those that are 2 or 3 times more expensive.”

        You demonstrate that you weren’t paying attention when we covered the chapters on communicating transfer of technology and distribution of concentrations of capital and labour issues.

        Large energy projects and large influxes of fossil energy — current energy technology — to most lesser developed countries (LDC’s) not only do not demonstrate welfare effects for the vast majority who are not already wealthy, but also severely damage local economies.

        The loss of land, loss of stability, collapse of social structures and displacement associated with energy megaprojects begins downward spirals of state-support and worsening conditions for the poor.

        You not only can’t generally improve things in LDC’s with ‘current energy technologies’ as you blithely .. what’s the word? .. assume, Chief, you want to keep ‘current energy technologies’ from repeating their past and current harms.

        Those who have bought into a failed and disproven mantra, discredited for some decades now by overwhelming evidence, of ‘current energy technology’ do far more harm than good.

        ‘Current energy technologies’ of the developed world mean devastation and plunder to LDCs; the diamond ring that is the current fad on an Austrialian finger has an entirely different meaning where that diamond was dug from the ground.

        You’re looking for ‘favorable energy technologies’ for LDCs if you intend growth and benefit.

        Making $2/day into $3/day means nothing if you introduce 1000% inflation to achieve it.

        It means worse than nothing if you buy ten ‘current energy technology’ jobs at local wage rates by losing eighty well-paying (by local standards) jobs or if you on balance transfer the benefits of labour from the participants in the local economy to foreigners.

        ‘Favorable’ energy technologies for LDCs — if you truly wish to benefit those who currently benefit least from the economies of the world — don’t devalue local incomes because they tend to be smaller in scale than ‘current’ energy technologies already – man powered, animal powered, enough to power cell phones or low-power/low cost mobile computing devices, inexpensive transportation that — because it can be locally produced for relatively short distances, like the example of bamboo bicycles — also don’t decrease local employment, but increase it.

        LDC’s would generally do better where they avoid the ‘current energy technologies’ of fifty-or-more-year-old fossil-guzzling equipment being shipped to them from countries where such equipment is now illegal because of its poor safety record, or undesirable because of its inefficiency and long-term higher cost to run and maintain.

        Certainly, you’d also want LDC’s to not use 1970′s-style nuclear energy if they’re on fault lines and subject to tsunami.

        Likewise, we know enough about high-mercury content coal to not wish more such coal firing 1950′s style ovens.

        The assumptions implicit in thinking more CO2E is going to be a necessary part of favorable energy technology are simply bad engineering.

        Thanks for pointing that out, Chief.

      • Just doin’ my bit for wine exports.

        Capitalism as you do it in America? How’s that working out for you lately?

        The ‘limits to growth’ of carbon dioxide emissions don’t do it for me at all and I had thought that both the noble savagery of Rousseau and the small is beautiful approach of Schumacher were relegated to the rummage bins of 1970′s nostalgia – you old hippy you.

        I was always more of a yippy. We got to do drugs and alcohol as well but then went and mooned politicians rather than join a commune and grow carrots. More Arlo Guthrie than Bill Mollison. “I was ridin’ down the mountain doing 150 MPH – playin’ my gitar. My acoustic gitar – ’cause acoustic gitars sound better when you’re riding down the mountain doin’ 150 MPH.” Man – I haven’t sung the motorsickle song for the longest time – thanks.

        We actually have a bit of experience in noble savagery. Back in the 1970′s it seemed a good idea to give them land rights, build isolated and second rate bush settlements with no services, give them ‘sitting down money’ and bask in the reflected romance of a pre-western existence. The result was alcohol and drug abuse but also violence, murder, paedophilia and suicide.

        I have had a bit of experience in developing countries. I am married to a girl from Misima – a beautiful volcanic island in the south Pacific with a huge rainbow snake guarding the mountain. It’s a matrilinear society whose wedding practices involve staying the whole night in the in-laws house. They didn’t tell me until after breakfast – but enough of my troubles.
        I was relatively lucky – they ate the first missionaries to arrive.

        I have installed solar panels of grass huts. What they want is washing machines, flush toilets, television, cars and boats. What they need is refrigeration, education and communications and it all relies on power of some sort. At Misima – micro hydro for most purposes would be cheap and reliable at the village scale – although a 4th gen nuclear engine or one of Lerners nuclear fusion plants would be ideal for the town, school and hospital. It is really just horses for courses. There are many areas where cheap solar would make life a lot easier.

        The straw man of inefficient, old and inappropriate technology is not so much unworthy of you Bart – as typical. The true parallel is the spread of mobile phones without the intermediate step of landlines. But I don’t know why you are still going on about this. I’ll happily talk BS until the cows come home as we say, but you won’t convince me. More importantly – you won’t convince Asia, Africa or India. Don’t let me stop you – I suggest you start a chain email. They will insist that the west curb emissions first which will be, well, when the cows come home or until we get a fusion engine – whichever comes first.

      • I’ve called this CO2 folly ‘The Precious Conceit of the Western Elite’, but am usually not understood because both ‘precious’ and ‘conceit’ are used in archaic fashion.

        Copenhagen’s abject collapse was predictable, eighteen months in advance of the erection of the BRIChouse, except for the stunning surprise of Dear Obama’s attempted Neo-Colonialism deal with the Western Powers. That also allowed China to pretend outrage to cover the failure of their shakedown of those same precious Western elites.
        =================

      • More capitalism and science from Bart R :

        A for Air. We have been presented with substantial bodies of evidence about CO2E.

        Yeah, all unimpeachable stuff from the famous Climategate Boys.

        B for Bounds. These bodies establish that CO2E levels in air have a ceiling property of scarcity, that is an upper limit before which we know some harm will be reached.

        One piddly remaining open question being that noone has even the faintest idea what this limit is.

        C for Collection. We know it is feasible to administer pricing on CO2E on the market…

        Even though we have absolutely no idea what the price should be, given the piddly problem mentioned above.

        A. B. C. We don’t need to know anything more than this to decide to impose a price on CO2E emissions, if we wish to hold to the strict model of capitalism.

        Yep, folks, we don’t need to know what price to set in order to set the price. Oh rejoice that the Logic has arisen!

      • Well hi there Kim – I’ve noticed you’re cryptic messages here and there – always with a smile. True poetry is an attempt to grasp the ineffable and is in a realm beyond language itself.

        As a special treat – here is more of the motorsickle song.

        ‘I don’t want a pickle
        Just want to ride on my motorsickle
        And I don’t want a tickle
        ‘Cause I’d rather ride on my motorsickle
        And I don’t want to die
        Just want to ride on my motorcy…cle’

      • Wanna kill, kill, kill
        Deniers for the children.
        Metralla for me.
        ==========

      • Kim;
        metralla? grapeshot? A splashy image.

      • I’m not quite certain yet you grasp the Risk vs. harm argument

        For anyone out there who hasn’t ‘grasped’ this particular gem of Bart’s, it goes something like this:
        Even though we have absolutely no idea whether or not CAGW is a real risk, we must just pretend it is a risk, and implement real government policy to ‘combat’ this imaginary peril.

      • John F. Pittman

        Yes, and Bart refuses to understand that probability is defined as unity, and things really cost, not just doing nothing. Such that if you consider that the conservation of human wealth, capital infrastructure, and work, a low risk but catastrophic result is ranked below a cheap, practically guaranteed solution. Otherwise, we would realize using Bart’s criteria that the Precautionary Principle means that we have to worry about Galactic conquerors taking over Terra, Sol III, and spend all our resources to invent interstellar travel in order to buy us enough time and resources to keep from being exterminated.

        Precautionary Principle is a rhetorical device, not a legitimate methodology for risk assessment and allocation of resources.

      • Working on one problem at a time seems a bit overly constrained. Apparently – if we had a fusion engine we could get to Mars in 4 weeks. Could we solve climate change and world hunger in a few years? Let’s hope so.

        http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1518007279479871760#

      • Punksta

        What is the right price of an apple?

        Can you work it out from first principles?

        From theory?

        By observations of the weight of apple trees and area of orchards?

        How many freeloaders would have to eat apples, burn applewood for heat or sport or to get it out of the way, before they ‘harmed’ the apple industry?

        What you keep saying I don’t get is why you have the need for some central planning committee, some politburo, to decided for all of us what price to put on a scarce resource?

        Why do you insist on communism in your CO2E special pleadings?

        Or do you think apples ought be treated the same way, too?

      • Bart R argues that even though we have absolutely no idea whether or not CAGW is a real risk, we must just pretend it is a risk, and implement real government policy to ‘combat’ this imagined peril. Questioned on this any-old-excuse-for-more-government stance, he further elaborates:

        How many freeloaders would have to eat apples, burn applewood for heat or sport or to get it out of the way, before they ‘harmed’ the apple industry?
        This seems to be an attempt to compare apples and air, in the light of a tragedy-of-the-commons scenario.

        Problem 1
        We have absolutely no idea whether or not we face a tragedy scenario.

        Problem 2
        But if we did face such a tragedy, how is ownership of the air to be allocated?
        (A tragedy of the commons is a consequence of a resource being unowned; everyone uses it without limit, noone sees to its care and survival.
        CAGW, if true, would fall into this category. This doesn’t happen with apples, because apples (and apple trees) have clear ownership. )
        If ownership of the air was practical, so would pricing of CO2-emitting rights be. But it isn’t.

        More Bart : What you keep saying I don’t get is why you have the need for some central planning committee, some politburo, to decided for all of us what price to put on a scarce resource?

        Eh?? Above we see Bart is the one recommending politburo action to price air. So I don’t get it…..Is he annoyed with one of his alter egos, but needs to take it out on someone else so as to keep the peace at home, between his fractious selves…..?

  42. “and I regret it and hope there is no need to implement it.”

    There is no need to implement it, so no need to regret.

  43. Chief

    I must agree with you.

    Taxing something that is cost competitive in order to enable something that is not cost competitive to compete is pure nonsense.

    Figuring out an artificial “price of carbon” to make coal and oil less competitive and then subsidizing wind or solar power with the proceeds is silly enough, but (as we all know) carbon tax revenues will be “tossed into the overall pot” to finance pet projects or anything else (just as has happened with Social Security tax revenues). Companies with good political connections, like GE, will get some of the taxpayer money or be allowed to operate without paying any corporate income tax at all, but this will not change our climate (just help the shareholders).

    How many degrees C warming will we avoid with a global carbon tax?

    Zero. Zilch. Nada.

    Why is this?

    Because no tax has ever or will ever change our planet’s climate. Nor will an indirect tax, such as cap and trade.

    A politician’s “pledge” to “hold warming to 2C maximum” or “reduce CO2 to X% of what it was in year Y by year Z” is meaningless political posturing.

    We have gone through this before, but to change the climate there must be actionable proposals, which will actually achieve this.

    There have been a few proposals made, but simple cost/benefit analyses show that they might theoretically achieve a reduction o0f warming of a few hundredths of a degree, but they will cost trillions of dollars. [ On average, the proposals I have seen would (maybe) “reduce warming” by 0.02 to 0.03C per trillion$ spent. This is obviously pouring money down a rathole.

    All these people who are calling for a carbon tax should actually be trying to come up with actionable proposals to reduce our planet’s anticipated greenhouse warming with a proper cost/benefit analysis. But, of course, they will not do this, quite simply because they cannot.

    We cannot change our planet’s climate, no matter how much money we throw at it. It’s just that simple.

    So let’s spend that money for adapting to whatever climate nature throws at us, if and when this is needed.

    Max

    Max

    • manacker,
      Yet the fates of our various nations are tied to leaders who are doing exactly what you properly describe as nonsense.

      • hunter

        I can sympathize with your statement about our (elected) leaders doing “nonsense” with our tax money.

        So I suppose we need to elect new leaders.

        Max

      • Then a song of my youth comes to mind:

      • Huh.

        I’d rather let the market determine the natural price of the CO2E, by setting the price at the level of diminishing returns to shareholders, as with any other good on the market.

        All this appointing leaders to outguess the market really is nonsense.

      • If world agriculture is allowed into the “market” (a wholely artificial construct, BTW), the price will be negative. Subsidies for all!

  44. The cry of global warming,when it was shown its not occuring,has been replaced by climate change and who can argue about that. One only has to look out the window to observe the daily and seasonal changes. To assert that us little ants actually can change the weather is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

  45. Part TWO. (Part ONE appeared on March 30th at 11:48 P.M.). In this part I shall take the six central AGW arguments one by one and demolish them all. Since I cannot show illustrations it will help if you can get hold of my book “What Warming?“ that has both additional information and figures I will refer to.

    First: “The Earth is warming“
    This is a truism that needs to be qualified to make any sense. Climate scientists have taken an intense interest in historic and geologic warming, always with a view to finding a possible greenhouse effect at work. Thus, when ice cores revealed interglacial temperature and carbon dioxide fluctuations they immediately claimed that these ancient warming episodes were caused by increases in carbon dioxide levels. Unfortunately later, more precise measurements showed that warming did not follow but preceded carbon dioxide release by hundreds of years. If you compare the geologic history of global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide for the last five hundred sixty million years (Figure 30) you will notice long term temperature stability punctuated by ice ages while carbon dioxide shows great variability and was often very much higher than today. Daniel Rothman [PNAS 99(7):4167-4171] has made the most thorough and technically impressive study of of the behavior of carbon dioxide over the last five hundred million years and concludes from it that “The resulting CO2 signal exhibits no systematic correspondence with the geologic record of climatic variations at tectonic time scales.“ But warming in historic time has also been an issue. Within the last one thousand years (Figure 25) we have seen a Medieval Warm Period when the Vikings colonized Greenland, followed by a Little Ice Age, and that was in turn followed by warming from the early nineteenth century to the Second World War. The existence of the Medieval Warm Period meant that current warming as defined by the IPCC was not unique in history. Climategate files reveal that their scientists did not like the idea and Michael Mann [Nature 392:779-787] set about to rectify that. He acquired tree ring proxy data for historic periods and from these he constructed a temperature curve lacking both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. But there was a problem: his proxy-s showed twentieth century temperatures going down not up. This did not stop him because he had thermometer data showing rising temperatures which he attached to the end of the proxy data set. The composite curve looked like a hockey stick, with a handle of tree rings and a blade of thermometer readings. It made quite a splash when it was featured in an IPCC report. There are very few legitimate reasons for joining two separate data sets into a single curve. The only one I can think of right now is joining directly measured carbon dioxide values with older ice core data. But Mann simply did not like the way his proxy data behaved and substituted another data set he did like. That is scientific fraud, pure and simple. Numerous investigations failed to point out this fact. In addition, his program was also shown to be rigged by Stephen MacIntyre and Ross McKitrick and produced a hockey stick, no matter what the input was. But despite all this nothing happened to him, he is still in business, and is still pushing his curve. The only way to get away with this is with the support of an establishment. There is no doubt that the global warming establishment in academia has been able to protect him and to pull this off. And now lets look at the current warming for which we have excellent satellite temperature measurements. Right off the bat, the three major temperature repositories, namely NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office, do not use any satellite temperatures at all. Starting in the late seventies, all three curves show a steady increase of temperature called the “late twentieth century warming.“ But satellite temperature measurements exist for the eighties and nineties and they do not show any such warming. What they do show is a temperature oscillation, up and down by half a degree, but no rise until a giant super El Nino arrives in 1998. There were five such temperature peaks during these years that corresponded to the warm El Nino periods in the Pacific. And between these peaks were temperature valleys that corresponded to cool La Nina periods [Figure 15]. The record shows that the super El Nino initiated a step change in temperature. In four years global temperature rose by a third of a degree and then stopped in 2002. This was followed by a six year warm period, the twenty-first century high. Its origin is oceanic. It is this warming and not any greenhouse effect that is responsible for the very warm first decade of our century. It came to an end with the La Nina cooling of 2008. With that, the oscillating climate interrupted by the super El Nino has returned to us. It is a manifestation of the Pacific ENSO system powered by the trade winds and brought into existence by the closure of the Panamanian Seaway. But the difference between satellite temperatures and land-based temperatures has to be resolved. I did this by plotting satellite and ground-based temperatures on the same axes (Figures 24, 27, and 29). The first four peaks of the eighties and nineties in both NASA (Land-Ocean) and HadCRUT3 from the Met Office are the same as the satellite peaks but what is different are the valleys in between them which have been made shallow. This way their curves get an upward slope. Since obviously coordination is involved a message like “stay with the peaks and adjust the low values as needed“ would have been enough to get them going. This would have carried them through to 1990 after which the real temperature becomes unpredictable and they start freelancing. The last of the El Nino peaks on the left is out of line and gets raised up by a tenth of a degree. The super El Nino and the twenty first century high get incorporated by NASA but HadCRUT3 floats above the right end of the curve. And as to NOAA, they are far more outrageous, dump the La Nina valleys entirely, and also raise the twenty-first century high up into the air. The bright red triangle of rising temperatures on the right side of their published curve (Figure 1) bears no relationship at all to the actual temperatures that exist. But these are the temperatures that IPCC works with, the ones that are used as inputs to computers for purposes of extrapolating future temperatures. The first such temperature extrapolations came from Hansen and it is worth looking at how they came to be. In the seventies Hansen was an astronomer on the NASA Pioneer Venus project and even had an experiment aboard the spacecraft when he suddenly quit in 1978 and joined GISS. His reason: “The composition of the atmosphere of our home planet was changing before our eyes…I decided it would be more useful and interesting to try to help understand how the climate of our planet would change…“ He was apparently on the fast track to management too because in three years after joining GISS he was the boss. And ten years later he was able to testify that global warming had arrived and that we were the cause. That was in 1988 but it is not well known that he gave the same testimony a year before and nobody paid any attention. Senator Wirth of Colorado had called him as a witness in November 1987. But it was cold, nobody wanted to hear about the warming and the media gave it a yawn. But when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and Wirth sure tried. First he called up the Weather Bureau to find out the warmest day in Washington, D.C. It was June 23rd so he chose that date for the next hearing. Here is how Wirth remembers it: “…What we did was went in the night before and opened all windows, I will admit, right? So that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room and so when the, when the hearing occurred there was not only bliss, which is television cameras in double figures, but it was really hot. … So it was sort of a perfect collection of events that day, with the wonderful Jim Hansen, who was wiping his brow at the witness table and giving this remarkable testimony. …“ And because of that “bliss“ global warming was on every TV screen that night. That was the real beginning of the global warming hysteria today. Hansen’s presentation included three temperature projections out to the year 2019 that scared everybody. In his testimony he claimed that warming had been going on for 25 years which is not what IPCC claimed in their 1990 report. IPCC report shows a temperature curve from NOAA according to which there was only ten years of warming prior to 1988. How is this possible? It turns out that Hansen had a Deus ex machina – he and his co-worker Lebedeff published an article just before the hearing that showed a thirty year warming by 1988. After the hearing Solow and Broadus published an article about it [Climate Change 15:449-453 (1989)] pointing out that the evidence he presented to the Senate for the onset of greenhouse warming rests on only two claims: that the most recent value of global temperature in 1988 was unusually warm, and that the four warmest years on record all occurred in the eighties. They conclude that these observations do not support detection of greenhouse warming unless we are prepared to attribute any and all warming in the data to the greenhouse effect. This is a substantial criticism which came out within a year of his presentation but has been completely ignored by the establishment. But now it turns out that the greenhouse effect as a cause of warming is itself now losing its former authority. This is because Ferenc Miskolczi [E&E 21(4):243-262 (2010)], using NOAA’s database of weather balloon observations that goes back to 1948, has shown that “…the global average annual infrared optical thickness of the atmosphere has been unchanged for 61 years, with a value of 1.87. It will be inferred that CO2 does not affect the climate through the greenhouse effect.“ Optical thickness is a logarithmic measure of the transparency of the atmosphere. This means that the transmittance of the atmosphere in the infrared where carbon dioxide absorbs has not changed for all these years while carbon dioxide was constantly produced and added to the atmosphere. To put it in other words, the greenhouse absorption signature of carbon dioxide added during all these years is simply not there. No absorption, no greenhouse effect, case closed.

    Second: “This warming is unprecedented“
    The hockey stick affair shows that they will not stop at anything to reach this goal. That was a case of scientific fraud that is still being covered up by Mann’s protectors in high places. But what is worse is the chicanery involved with the official temperature curves that I pointed out. Compared to this extensive and long-lasting fraud the Climategate revelations are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. It started in the late seventies, made possible Hansen’s testimony in 1988, and is still going on. This can be ascertained based on our knowledge of real global temperatures from satellites. In the eighties and the nineties it was easy to accomplish by simply reducing the valleys between temperature peaks. But when the real temperature curve became complex they were already deeply into it and had to each do their own wrotten thing from then on.

    Third: “The warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels.“
    That means putting carbon dioxide into the air. Unfortunately it does not work like that. As Miskolczi has shown addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere for 61 years had no effect on the absorbency of the atmosphere in the infrared where carbon dioxide absorbs. The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide during this period amounted to 21.6 percent. Miskolczi’s is an empirical observation and overrules any calculations from theory. If theoretical calculations disagree the theory must either be changed or abandoned.

    Fourth: “The warming is dangerous to humanity, perhaps catastrophic“
    This is pure computer modeling stuff. From the foregoing, the temperature values they are attempting to extrapolate are not real: that is one piece of garbage in. The second piece of garbage in is assumption that carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere increases absorption. Miskolczi’s work shows this to be untrue. There is more but that is enough to turn all these predictions of catastrophes into GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    Fifth: “The only way to prevent dangerous outcomes is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere“
    Another computer modeling proposition, another GIGO for reasons above.

    Sixth: “Things are getting worse, not better“
    That’s a pretty nebulous claim. Can you make it specific? The only thing that can make things worse in my opinion are these asinine emission control laws and the idiocy of running an electric grid from windmills. Plus the criminal conversion of human food into bio fuels which raises food prices for poor people in the world.

  46. The issue of the non-physical nature of “averaged temperatures” has to be taken on board. Take a column of monthly average temperatures for Brisbane, and average the averages. An average for the year. Sort of. It at least relates to one locale, with one set of dominating influences.
    Now put up parallel column of average temperatures for the same period for London, UK.

    Produce a column of the monthly averages of Brisbane+London. Then show half that column without the months labelled, alone, to someone (scientist or layman), and ask what they can get out of the numbers. And to guess what the component figures were. To guess which months they cover. To guess what the temperatures were then at a midpoint (say, Lima, or Peking).

    And so on. There’s little actual information in that column. Adding more locales doesn’t help answer the questions. The numbers asymptotically approach meaninglessness, in fact, as more are added.

  47. Basically, the “wisdom of crowds” is starting to kick in; whether it’s Aussies hearing Matilda cry “Fire!” or the ROW hearing the shepherd boy cry “Wolf!”, all the payers are starting to look very askance at and to deeply suspect the motives of the payees.

    The US House Republicans and NSW Coalition were elected to turn off the spigot.

  48. Basically, the “wisdom of crowds” is starting to kick in

    No.

    The crowd realised that man made global warming is just science fiction.

    The recent warming identical to a pervious one:
    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    No warming for more than a decade.
    http://bit.ly/h86k1W

    0.2 deg C per decade of the IPCC is just imaginary contrary to actual observation.
    http://bit.ly/9pwVyH

    It surprises me that they deny the data but call us deniers.

    Bizarre!

  49. Girma;
    speaking of bizarre, you say “No” and then agree with me, in detail.
    WUWT?
    ;pPpP

  50. Time is moving on, and this thread is coming to an end. I thought I would make a closing comment, and deal with a couple of things that have come up that need a reply from me.
    First, how many sides are there in this debate? I spoke of six identifiable positions and two quasi-religious outriders. I might have gone on to say that people can occupy different positions at different times on different subjects. For example, while my general position is Dissenting Agnostic, I am a Sceptical Dissenter on the proposition that ‘there is no time to waste and we must act now’. I think I’m right in remembering that James Hansen said some years ago that indeed it was too late. So these positions that I proposed are simply recognisable markers in the debate. None of us is condemned to occupy any one of them permanently.
    Second, Girma wondered if I saw any contradiction between my statements that my position was agnostic, and that ‘heating up causes cooling down’. Well, no. While the latter is apparently a nonsense, I have read ingenious attempts to show how it can and must be so. I wouldn’t want to have to do it myself to any audience! And, like everyone else, I can hold two apparently incompatible ideas in my head at the same time.
    Third, Faustino thought that the audience at Manning Clark House must be very left-wing. I no longer think that the terms ‘left wing and ‘right wing’ have much meaning today. I rather like a distinction that was well argued in these threads months ago (but can no longer find) between those who prize what we have achieved over the last fifty years and look at the likely costs of tampering with the outcomes, on the one hand, and those who see the world as facing immense problems now, see what has to be done, and minimise the likely costs of setting about doing so. That distinction seems to me to have real purchase in the AGW debate.
    Finally, The discussion here has been very helpful to me as an author. To extend an idea in the paper itself, wouldn’t it be a good idea if papers of consequence in this domain were presented to the hundreds (thousands?) of us here in draft form, so that the author could find out quickly whether or not he/she had missed something, distorted something, over-argued a point, and so on? Something like that seems to me the way of the future.

    • Apparently you have decided not to engage in actual scientific debate. Perhaps I am strange but I think that debate is sterile. What counts is the science involved, not identifiable positions or quasi-religious outliers. Unfortunately climate science is corrupted by an evangelistic clicque that is able to suppress publication of any dissenting opinions and has politicians following insane policies. I have presented scientific reasons that completely demolished all six of your central AGW arguments, concocted by that clicque. The science I present is mostly new. If you can convince yourself that I am right you will have to discard some of your previous understandings, such as belief that putting carbon dioxide in the air can warm the world. I hope you will make the effort to follow my science because I see you as a person who could bring these ideas to a wider audience.

  51. Arno, with respect, you have forgotten what my paper was doing — to provide an account of the current state of the debate about AGW, not, for the most part, to engage in it myself.

    I am capable of doing that, and have done it elsewhere, but this essay was not the vehicle. As it happens, I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve put forward, but I’m not here to give you marks out of ten!

    Cheers,

    Don

  52. Tomas Milanovic

    Chief has written :
    Working on one problem at a time seems a bit overly constrained. Apparently – if we had a fusion engine we could get to Mars in 4 weeks.

    It is amusing that you would mention this.
    It was my graduation project – Principles , Orientations and Design of a plasma engine for interstellar travels.
    From that perspective your statement is partly inaccurate and I must give some precisions.

    1) It is not really a fusion engine and actually fusion must be avoided because it is too much energy in too small volume. It begins like fusion by creation of plasma but then you use the plasma itself for propulsion. In theory one could consider a He3 pure fusion engine but the constraints are so dramatic that even working on only this problem in a time would take … emm … a long time.

    2) It is not really to go to Mars where one can go cheaper and easier. To spend a long acceleration (and correspondingly braking) time you want much longer distances . Interstellar is more adequate .

    3) If you are bright and can accelerate and brake hard , you’d need only 10 days to go to Mars with such an engine (see? A waste of good technology).
    If you are less bright and don’t look at relative positions of the Earth and Mars , then you can need 3 months. So 4 weeks is not a good estimation.

    Btw why do you waste time talking with Bart?
    His posts that turn in an eterneal self-referring loop are not only wrong but boring.
    Experience taught me that there is only one way to interact with such people.
    Just say them “No!”.

    • Tomas

      No!

    • Hi Tomas,

      Yes – it is not yet a hydrogen + boron => 3He4 fusion engine. Eric Lermer estimates 6 years (from 2007 if they got the money together) to bring their plasma device to a working energy positive fusion device – we shall see. Incidentally, it was Lermers estimate for the Mars trip I was quoting. Anything is possible with almost limitless power so, hell yes, let’s go to Mars and beyond.

      Bart is outnumbered on the site and there was a ‘Lord of the Flies’ zeitgeist emerging that I found amusing. But really, the only way ideas evolve is if there is at least a modicum of challenge. The discussion here clarified for me ideas about the economics of carbon taxes – despite the tomfoolery in which much of it was clothed.

      It is no crime to be wrong – or we would all be hung. In a democratic society it comes down to a vote – and while I can see justifiable concerns with changing the composition of the atmosphere there are, on the other hand, imminent and tragic human costs of constraining economic growth. At this time – my vote is for maximum economic growth by whatever means is needed. D… the atmosphere – full speed ahead.

      Cheers

      • Just call me the camera guy:

        http://www.dilbert.com/2011-03-31/

        If you’re for democracy and economic growth, you have to understand that only the democracy of the market determines what is economic growth.

        What is built by central planning committee is an uneconomic tumor. While it may for a time experience the runaway growth of a malignancy, it is not ultimately healthy and will sap the life of its host.

        Undemonstated technology built on speculative theories with little too support as yet within well-established systems of scientific knowledge to make good predictions about, while they may eventually pan out, generally fail to meet their enthusiasts’ most fantastical projections. We’ve been only 50 years (or 6 years) away from successful demonstration on all of these for 60 some years.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dense_plasma_focus
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertial_confinement_fusion
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migma

        What we get instead is the 15 kmh Yamato. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamato_1

        Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be pleased as punch when technology puts unlimited fusion power into the hands of everyone on the planet.

        I just love fireworks!

        However, I expect we’ll get soonest to that happy day with the power of capitalism to drive innovation, which does not come out of central committees deciding to give away scarce resources.

      • On the other – maybe I shouldn’t vote for you because it only encourages you.

        I might go to Dilbert for a laugh – but I don’t go to Wikepedia for anything but kiddy level science.

        Lerner is scratching for a buck to create plasma temps of 1,000,000 degrees with a plasmoid radius small enough to bump a couple of atoms together. Now if they are not just fudging the data – they are pretty close. The last step may be a step too far – but what the heck if you don’t try you’ll never know.

        Now I don’t particularly give a rat’s proverbial if the Australian Government puts $2B/year into R&D. But some people are upset and want to see their Government do something – so let’s give them a safer option. It is as well – a lot cheaper than all the other crap that’s been happening. It is really akin to why I support the Monarchy. Why would you upset all the poor old dears in the Country Women’s Association just to claim that some other d…….. was head of state?

        Your sounding much too much like a militant capitalist. Answer the question – are you now or have you ever been a communist? Now – if you don’t have anything more that isn’t based on militant capitalism, straw man central planning or Wikipedia…

      • If Bart R is a capitalist, I am a green skinned, one legged, toothless, Lithuanian dwarf (sorry, little person). And I can assure you I still have my teeth.

      • Chief

        When have you seen evidence that anything encourages me?

        And thank you for understanding the purpose for my linking to wikipedia on this subject.

        I could have linked to Popular Science for its long history of fusion projects, one supposes, with much the same implication.

        When we can link to Consumer Reports for their long history of fusion evaluations, then your faith and mine in the forward march of technology will be vindicated.

        Though I do find your confidence in your growing grasp of economics interesting.

        If you wish, I can from time to time pose cases in Economics for you to sharpen your increasing understanding against from the list of puzzles I used to pose for first year students preparing for exams. They’re original and unpublished, but were very successful learning aids. Let me know.

        Perhaps you could in exchange pose puzzles in backhoe operating?

        And, for GaryM, Labas! Aš norėčiau aplankyti.

      • The first thing you need to understand about the safe and efficient use and operation of a backhoe is – if you are in a hole for God’s sake stop digging.

        Just while I’m here – at the scene of fusion engines and going to Mars so to speak. I noted on TV last night that Australian scientists (Bruce and Bruce I expect from the Philosophy Dept. of the University of Wooloomooloo) are boldly going where no one has gone before in preparing the human race for our space based future. Zero G beer. Kinda brings a tear to me eye.

      • Chief

        http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1991-00247-001

        O my Antipodean friend. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

        Your hole is my hill.

        I’ve taken the hill.

  53. Sadly the politics has way overtaken the science. That is what has made the stakes so high. Possibly the stakes so high and signal/noise so low comes from here: .

    From what I have read, “climate science” is out of step with other scientific endeavours:
    * the best computer model on earth does not have the power to accurately represent clouds, which are a substantial component of land cooling
    * using computer models to make long-term projections or predictions is not measurably more reliable than a straight line regression analysis
    * using 30 years of temperature data to make predictions for decades defies common sense and a scientific method when we have data from millions and billions of years in geology and paleoclimatology
    * energy/heat/temperature analysis (Nordell) suggests all causes of heat liberation on earth are sufficient to explain a majority of the currently observed warming effect (which really means than anything we do that generates heat will make the earth warmer – burning fuels or splitting atoms)
    * that a trace gas (CO2) can significantly alter heat transfer and change the resulting equilibrium has not been experimentally verified on any scale
    * the existence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect based in theoretical physics in particular the laws of thermodynamics has been challenged by Gerlich and Tscheuschner

    I think it is long overdue politicians had some serious science education.

    • I read this this evening – it is about trying to utilise science in a way that science can’t sensibly and so shouldn’t be used. Science is really about exploring the world imaginatively. It is the other process of science – we have analysis and we have synthesis. Synthesis is about putting together disparate strands of analysis to create a, hopefully, physically plausible narrative. At some level stakes are high – reputations and careers. At our level – stakes are low and we can and should have fun. For instance – Bart R who is utterly disreputable and is currently pursuing a second career as a back-hoe operator. This is difficult as he can’t tell up from down or left from right – but I am trying to help him out.

      It is a problem when science becomes conflated with some moral objective, tribal allegiances, cognitive dissonance, at least 26 of the infinite types of cognitive bias and the ever present problem our own ignorance. Look to the log in thine own eye…

      ‘Although it has failed to produce its intended impact nevertheless the Kyoto Protocol has performed an important role. That role has been allegorical. Kyoto has permitted different groups to tell different stories about themselves to themselves and to others, often in superficially scientific language. But, as we are increasingly coming to understand, it is often not questions about science that are at stake in these discussions. The culturally potent idiom of the dispassionate scientific narrative is being employed to fight culture wars over competing social and ethical values. Nor is that to be seen as a defect. Of course choices between competing values are not made by relying upon scientific knowledge alone. What is wrong is to pretend that they are.’

      So there are 2 paths open to you – you can love science and try to creatively imagine the cosmos or you can be a climate warrior and line up a ‘dispassionate scientific narrative.’ I’ll assume the former for the time being.

      * the best computer model on earth does not have the power to accurately represent clouds, which are a substantial component of land cooling

      Forget the computers – reliable observations of clouds happened only this century. There is some satellite data from 1985 but it has had problem of data gaps, instrument breakdown and degradation, altitude changes – all of which impact accuracy. Without long term reliable observations natural cloud changes can’t be built into models and they all assume that clouds don’t change. That is very, very wrong.

      * using computer models to make long-term projections or predictions is not measurably more reliable than a straight line regression analysis

      Don’t let the Dragon King here you say that. A Dragon King is an extreme variance in the region of a chaotic bifurcation. This occurred for instance in 1976/77 after which the world entered a warming phase – and 1998/2001 when it entered a cooling phase. The planet is dynamically complex in physics terms – as are models. But they are different types of dynamically complex systems.

      * using 30 years of temperature data to make predictions for decades defies common sense and a scientific method when we have data from millions and billions of years in geology and paleoclimatology

      Geology and paleoclimatology are fun – but you have to recognise the limits of accuracy in the data. On the other hand – the surface temperature record is almost entirely meaningless unless you are looking at monthly values to see what ENSO is doing to it.

      Global heat content in oceans and atmosphere is the relevant parameter and it is measured by satellite. In a period energy in at top of atmosphere less energy out = the change in heat content.

      Marhematically:

      Ein/s – Eout/s = d(heat content)/dt

      Energy in is reasonably constant – it changes by about 1 W/m-2 in the quasi 11 year cycle. The graphed CERES data can be found here – Trenberth. The net trend up by convention shows planetary warming. It shows a little warming in the period most obviously associated with ENSO cloud changes.

      * energy/heat/temperature analysis (Nordell) suggests all causes of heat liberation on earth are sufficient to explain a majority of the currently observed warming effect (which really means than anything we do that generates heat will make the earth warmer – burning fuels or splitting atoms)

      Nordell seems to have an odd grasp of thermodynamics – and my brain isn’t up to reading this tonight. If you care to – try looking at the numbers. I think he neglects to his peril the third term in the equation above.

      * that a trace gas (CO2) can significantly alter heat transfer and change the resulting equilibrium has not been experimentally verified on any scale

      One experimental verification comes from spectral analysis of satellite data. Take a snapshot in 19979 and again in 2005 for instance and note the difference.

      * the existence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect based in theoretical physics in particular the laws of thermodynamics has been challenged by Gerlich and Tscheuschner

      G&T from memory say that the greenhouse effect can’t be because it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Nonsense.

      Jo Nova is a climate warrior with a very little wit – take it with a large dose of salt.

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