Atmospheric CO2: the greenhouse thermostat

by Andrew Lacis

The one year anniversary is soon approaching for the Science paper that we wrote a year ago to illustrate the nature of the terrestrial greenhouse effect. I describe here how this paper came to be.

The title of the paper:  “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature“ is also the principal conclusion of the paper. The full text, including the Supporting Online Material, is downloadable from the GISS webpage. The abstract describes the physical basis and rationale for the key point that is being expressed in the title.

Ample physical evidence shows that carbon dioxide is the single most important climate-relevant greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. This is because CO2, like ozone, N2O, CH4 and CFCs, does not condense and precipitate from the atmosphere at current climate temperatures, whereas water vapor can, and does. Noncondensing greenhouse gases, which account for 25% of the total terrestrial greenhouse effect, thus serve to provide the stable temperature structure that sustains the current levels of atmospheric water vapor and clouds via feedback processes that account for the remaining 75% of the greenhouse effect. Without the radiative forcing supplied by CO2 and the other non-condensing greenhouse gases, the terrestrial greenhouse would collapse, plunging the global climate to an icebound Earth state.

The text of the paper provides the supporting science and illustrates the key role that atmospheric CO2 plays in the operation of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, perhaps more directly than has been done before. The paper also makes a bit of a digression in pointing out the erroneous and irresponsible assertion by Dick Lindzen that  “about 98% of the natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapour and stratiform clouds withCO2 contributing less than 2%”.  (Lindzen really should have made some effort to correct this misinformation, instead of letting people quote his erroneous result ad infinitum.)

The Supporting Online Material for the Science paper provides additional background information, including a table that lists the fractionalattributionof theterrestrialgreenhousecontributorsshown in Figure 1 of the Science paper.  There is also the accompanying GRL paper by Gavin Schmidt et al. (2010) that describes the GCM modeling runs for the greenhouse attribution analysis.

This paper drew initial attention in the form of a NASA press release on  ‘How Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth’s Temperature’.

Two related science briefs were also displayed on the GISS webpage:  ‘CO2: The Thermostat that Controls Earth’s Temperature’, and ‘Taking a Measure of the Greenhouse Effect’.

Our Science paper also caught the attention of the climate skeptics crowd. Roy Spencer commented that  “there was a very clever paper published in Science this past week . . . in an attempt to prove that carbon dioxide is the main driver of the climate system”.

But then Roy Spencer went astray by claiming that “After assuming that clouds and water vapor are no more than feedbacks upon temperature, the Lacis et al. paper then uses a climate experiment to ‘prove’ their paradigm that CO2 drives climate – by forcing the model with a CO2 change, resulting in a large temperature response!” followed by an erroneous  (but nevertheless a useful point) comment that “Well, DUH! If they had forced the model with a water vapor change, it would have done the same thing.”   (It would not.)

Roy’s claim about our “assuming water vapor and clouds to be feedbacks might have been a valid point if we had used an old 1970s vintage 1-D model to perform our analysis. In current climate GCMs no such assumptions are being made. Atmospheric water vapor and cloud distributions are the direct results of the model physics interactions (via evaporation, transport, condensation, precipitation).

We later went on to demonstrate this very point by forcing the model with a water vapor change by instantaneously doubling (and zeroing out) water vapor in a couple of GCM runs. These GCM experiments further re-emphasized the key point of our Science paper that water vapor is indeed a fast feedback process in the climate system. Within about two-weeks time, the atmospheric water vapor distribution had essentially returned back to control run levels. During this two-week transition period, any water vapor excess (or deficit) relative to the equilibrium distribution did of course produce a radiative greenhouse heating (or cooling) effect, but this ‘virtual forcing’ was very transient in nature, without any lasting impact on the global temperature.

Roy Spencer concluded his analysis by stating that “the paper really tells us nothing new about (1) how much warming we can expect from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, or (2) how much of recent warming was caused by CO2”. (So, nothing new, but nothing wrong!)

Roger Pielke, Sr. also commented on our Science paper, stating that “The paper is an interesting model experiment, but it really does not present any new insight beyond what we already know.” And further that “My conclusion is that their paper does not present new scientific insight but is actually an op-ed presented in the guise of a research paper by Science magazine.” (Nothing new, only an op-ed.)

I since have had some useful dialogue with Roger, and went on to post some commentary items on his climate blog. The first posting was basically the GISS webpage science brief. I then later posted a longer commentary on the Atmospheric CO2 Thermostat that included (1) a description of our recent water vapor feedback/forcing experiments, (2) an illustration describing high accuracy GCM LW radiation calculations, (3) a short discourse on the latitudinal nature of climate feedbacks, and (4) an overview of those things that we know well (about climate), and those things that we know less well.

In regard to questioning the lack of any ‘new scientific insight’, I scarcely think that Jim Hansen’s opinion (or mine) would really differ greatly from what Roy Spencer and Roger Pielke, Sr.  have expressed. However, Jim Hansen did go on to say in addition, that “It’s about time that somebody wrote a paper like that”. Even though we have known and understood for decades the basic science of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and water vapor feedback effects, in the current climate (politically speaking) of the frequently expressed irrational thinking, there is unfortunately a clear and pressing need to keep on repeating and explaining the most basic of global climate concepts.

So, if there really was ‘nothing new’ in our Science paper . . .

then how did this paper come to be?

First, let me state here what the paper is not. The paper is not a snowball Earth paper (although it is relevant.) Geological evidence suggests that tropical latitudes were glaciated some 600M years ago. Even with near zero CO2, and the Sun 3-4% dimmer than now, the tropics require albedo help from clouds and encroaching sea ice for global freeze-0ver – hence, an interesting science problem that needs careful cold-climate cloud and ocean dynamics modeling. Also, as Roy Spencer noted, this paper is not an explanation for past decadal temperature change (although it is relevant). Modeling of the recent decadal climate record would require careful accounting for all of the radiative forcings, and would also require accurate modeling of ocean dynamics to accurately simulate the climate system’s response time.

Instead, the aim of our Science paper was to illustrate as clearly and as simply as possible the basic operating principles of the terrestrial greenhouse effect in terms of the sustaining radiative forcing that is provided by the non-condensing greenhouse gases, which is further augmented by the feedback response of water vapor and clouds.

If you were to go and read the acknowledgment that is at the end of the Science paper, you would see the very standard “thank you” for helpful comments from numerous GISS colleagues, and a “thank you” for funding support from NASA program managers.

But, you would not see there any mention of Bishop Hill.  Why so?  And, would the Science editors have really let that happen?

It started with the following (February 9, 2010) posting on the Bishop Hill blog that stated:  “While perusing some of the review comments to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, I came across the contributions of Andrew Lacis, a colleague of James Hansen’s at GISS.  . . . Remember, this guy is mainstream, not a skeptic, and you may need to remind yourself of that fact several times as [you] read through his comment on the executive summary of the chapter:” This topic was also later picked up and commented on at WUWT.

I was being hailed as a fellow critic of the IPCC AR4 Report, and by some, as a newly-found hero of the climate change denier cause.

Back in 2005, having uploaded countless review suggestions for the IPCC AR4 Report, toward the end, I did make some intemperate remarks that were directed at the Executive Summary of Chapter 9.

I was irked by the persistent use of wishy-washy terminology such as  ‘likely’ and ‘very likely’ that was totally uncalled for. One example: “It is likely that there has been a substantial anthropogenic contribution to surface temperature increases in every continent except Antarctica since the middle of the 20th century.

Such ‘social sciences’ terminology might be allowable if there was no other available evidence for global warming except for the statistical analysis of a relatively short global temperature time-series (on which there is superimposed a substantial natural variability component). But the physical evidence for global warming is quite overwhelming, and it is downright irresponsible (and stupid) not to make use of it.

More specifically: (1) precise measurements show atmospheric CO2 has increased from its 280 ppm pre-industrial value to the current ~390 ppm; (2) there is available an accurate HITRAN tabulation of line absorption coefficients for all of the atmospheric absorbing gases; (3) we have available accurate radiation modeling techniques as well as capable global climate models; and (4) that 9 Gigatons of carbon (coal, gas, oil) are being burned each year (by us humans).

Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change. Rather, using such under-whelming weasel words only adds to the deliberate public confusion regarding climate change. Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.

The above was the essence of my response to Bishop Hill, as it came to be posted on Andy Revkin’s New York Times dotearth blog.

I went on to comment further on the IPCC review process, and posted a more complete description of the Role of CO2 in Global Warming, followed by a brief tutorial on the greenhouse effect.

Blog commentaries, however, are too transient to have any lasting impact. It became increasingly clear that the current climate situation really called for a simple and convincing demonstration of just how the terrestrial greenhouse effect operates in maintaining the surface temperature of the Earth. Hence, our writing of the Science paper.

Basic conclusions that can be drawn from this exercise:

(1) The terrestrial greenhouse effect is comprised of two distinct components: (a) the non-condensing greenhouse gases that provide the ‘radiative forcing’ that sustains the terrestrial greenhouse effect; (b) the ‘feedback component’ by water vapor and clouds that acts to amplify the radiative effect of the non-condensing greenhouse gases.

(2) The radiative forcing by the non-condensing greenhouse gases is accurately known, and fully understood. Of the GHGs, atmospheric CO2 is the principal contributor, hence the principal control knob that governs the strength of the greenhouse effect and global temperature. The greenhouse physics, and the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases as the fundamental basis for global warming, are well founded.

(3) Water vapor and clouds account for about 75% the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, but are feedback effects that require sustained radiative forcing to maintain their atmospheric distribution. Their radiative effects are accurately known. The magnitude of their feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.

(4) The temporal record of global climate change can be separated into two distinct components: (a) global warming – this is the steady and predictable increase in the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect that is caused by the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases resulting from human industrial activity; (b) natural variability – this is the unforced and mostly unpredictable inter-annual, regional, and decadal variability of the climate system that is superimposed upon the steadily increasing global warming component.

(5) Global warming, the climate change component that is driven by greenhouse gas increases, is the reason for concern because of its increasing impact on ecosystems and polar ice caps/sea level rise. Whether humans like it or not, and whether humans realize it or not, global warming has been so, and continues to be, fully under human control via fossil fuel burning. Smaller contributors such as changes in aerosols, solar irradiance, and sporadic large volcanoes exist. But aerosol forcing is also anthropogenic and/or short lived. Solar forcing is cyclical and small, while the GHG residence time is very long.

(6) Natural (unforced) climate variability is the principal reason for the uncertainty manifested in the largely unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations that occur on regional spatial scales, and on inter-annual and decadal time scales. Arising from changes in advective energy transports and poorly understood interactions with ocean dynamics, this is where uncertainty reigns supreme. However, these advective transports must globally add to zero, and the unforced fluctuations are necessarily fluctuations about the global equilibrium reference point. Nature conserves energy very carefully. Hence, large deviations from the global equilibrium cannot be sustained. So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend, but its effects on local and regional climate will remain the main source of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

(7) Global climate change is far too complex to be understandable in one swoop. Fortunately, the global warming component, it being tied directly to the growing strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, is a uniquely radiative effect that can be addressed independently of the other climate complexities. The basic physics of the greenhouse effect is rooted to the conservation of global energy. Precise measurements of the rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 are irrefutable, leaving nodoubtthatglobalwarmingis happening. Geological evidence shows that 450 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is the critical level that is needed to sustain polar ice caps, although the time scale for the melting of polar ice caps is many centuries. That is the scientific perspective on global warming. Deciding what, if anything, to do about global warming is a political problem, but the politicians should keep the science in mind.

Moderation note:  this is a technical thread.  Comments will be moderated for relevance.

794 responses to “Atmospheric CO2: the greenhouse thermostat

  1. Just because you don’t explicitly assume something doesn’t mean that you haven’t implictly assumed it in the parameterisation of your models. It’s very hard to avoid implict assumptions in any complex model.

  2. “7. … The basic physics of the greenhouse effect is rooted to the conservation of global energy.”

    Actually, the basic physics of the greenhouse effect is rooted to the dissipation of absorbed solar energy. This introduces the thermodynamic notion of “free energy” which is quite distinct from the function currently employed in climate models and a concept yet to find its way into climate theory.

    • And the energy absorbed is conserved, but transformed into heat.

      • Can the Rabett tell us what happens when heat is created?

      • Ooooo a first law fail. The heat is not created but the solar energy is transformed into heat. This tends to warm things up as anyone living on the dark side of Mercury could tell you.

      • The Rabett needs to read for comprehension.
        If you wish to quibble over semantics, Lacis has a whole long post you could chew on.
        Answer the question: What happens heat shows up in a system?

      • Another first law fail. Where does it come from? inside or outside the system???

    • You are right in noting that the free energy is not usually (to my knowledge, but I may err) discussed explicitly or used in common mathematical formulation of the thermodynamics of atmosphere. It’s, however, taken into account in practical calculations. After the solar radiation gets absorbed the remaining free energy appears as such temperature differentials that can maintain atmospheric circulation.

      The hot equatorial surface has free energy in the Earth system. Free energy is used also in evaporation.

      Free energy is energy that can be converted to work. Maintaining circulation of air and water as well as creating hurricanes and other weather phenomena are the principal processes, where the free energy has it’s influence.

  3. or…
    7. The basic physics of the greenhouse affect is rooted to the conservation of global energy, with centralized control from the well head up.

    Just a few more words, and hear we are.

  4. So, in essence, you wrote some words that were critical of the IPCC, then you worried that people might think that you were giving succour to the enemy, so you then wrote a paper to demonstrate your orthodoxy.

    You mention the following:
    “…the climate change denier cause…”
    “…the climate skeptics crowd…”
    “Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.”

    Might I suggest you take time out from busily demonstrating your orthodox credentials, and take a course in “how to make friends and influence people.”

    • …dupes and minions…

      Dr. Lacis: You have commented here before using this sort of rhetoric. FYI, when you do, you come across as a close-minded fool.

      I’m not a climate scientist, so I am limited in my ability to understand and critique your technical work. But when you talk about something I do understand — who the skeptics are and how climate skepticism works — and you come across as clueless, It makes me wonder whether the thinking behind your climate science is similarly skewed.

      That’s not a scientific argument, of course, but it’s not without merit either. I keep searching for signs of intelligence in the climate orthodoxy beyond their climate expertise and I’m not finding much.

    • A “climate denier” is one who does what exactly? Why invent nonsensical phrases and try to use them to win a debate?

      • Sorry. Thought I saw the “climate denier” phrase but it’s not here. The “dupes”, “minions” and “deniers” still are.

    • James, you appear to think that the only criticism of the IPCC comes from your camp of rejectionists. Andy Lacis’ criticism is that the IPCC’s evaluation of the results of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations was not strong enough in emphasizing the strong warming effects to be expected.

      • “James, you appear to think that the only criticism of the IPCC comes from your camp of rejectionists.”

        Where are you getting that from?

        “Andy Lacis’ criticism is that the IPCC’s evaluation of the results of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations was not strong enough in emphasizing the strong warming effects to be expected.”

        Yes, he explains all that above. I found that out by using my eyes to read it. I find that it helps to read the post before commenting on it.

  5. Not even wrong. CO2 principal control knob? CO2 is strongly driven by Earth’s temperature, so it’s very unlikely that it has any significant (warming) effect.

    This was in Science? They should change their name to PseudoScience.

    • CO2 is strongly driven by Earth’s temperature, so it’s very unlikely that it has any significant (warming) effect.

      I believe this is another positive feedback. We have a strong forcing function from fossil fuel emissions contributing to the atmospheric CO2 concentration rise. We also have an increase in temperature in the last one hundred years which should also contribute to the CO2 rise. In fact this does show up in differential d[CO2] measurements with a strong cross-correlation against temperature. If most of this is from the ocean outgassing (according to Henry’s Law) as it tries to equilibriate with the new temperatures, atmospheric CO2 concentration will continue to rise along with the fossil fuel component part of it.

      My problem with the Lacis article is that they have the CO2 residence time of thousands of years, whereas it is actually the adjustment time which is the slow one. The CO2 residence time is on the order of 10 years.

      • WHT,

        The adjustment time is much shorter than you think. In 1998 (very warm year, El Nino), ~80% of the human CO2 emission “remained” in Earth’s atmosphere. In 1999 (cold year, La Nina), only ~20% remained, the rest was removed from the atmosphere.

      • Edim 1.24

        That’s very interesting. I’d like to follow up on that. Do you have a link please?

        tonyb

      • tonyb

        I did a post on that on an earlier thread.

        I found a correlation between the amount of annually emitted CO2 “staying” in the atmosphere and the change in global average temperature from the previous year.

        Years that showed warming compared to the previous year, showed a higher percentage than years that showed cooling, with the annual range varying from around 16% to over 80% (and the long-term average around 50%).

        CO2 remaining in atmosphere versus temperature change – Calculation

        CO2 remaining in atmosphere versus temperature change – Graph

        Don’t know exactly what this tells us except that there may be a natural temperature correlation with atmospheric CO2 change, as Prof. Salby has suggested.

        Max

      • Don’t know exactly what this tells us except that there may be a natural temperature correlation with atmospheric CO2 change, as Prof. Salby has suggested.

        No one disputes this. Unfortunately, it is a positive feedback kind of behavior. CO2 from fossil fuel emissions leads to a temperature rise due to the GHG effect. Then this temperature rise coaxes more CO2 out of the oceans. This brand of CO2 is also just as potent a GHG, so it is a reinforcing or positive feedback behavior.

        Salby is probably right in that the excess CO2 doesn’t have fossil fuel markers but then again he doesn’t understand the difference between adjustment time and residence time of CO2. Adjusted CO2 will lack the fossil fuel markers, but fresh CO2 that hasn’t past through a cycle won’t.

      • WHT,

        The adjustment time is much shorter than you think. In 1998 (very warm year, El Nino), ~80% of the human CO2 emission “remained” in Earth’s atmosphere. In 1999 (cold year, La Nina), only ~20% remained, the rest was removed from the atmosphere.

        Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? I said that there is a difference between residence time and adjustment time. Residence time is like 10 years but adjustment time has statistical moments that diverge.

        The CO2 was not permanently removed from the atmosphere. Instead it was trapped in a dynamic carbon cycle, squeezing out other CO2 that had been there for awhile.

        The owner of this site is obviously interested in quantifying uncertainty and I suggest this is a good place to start. Everything about potential future trajectories revolves around this bit of scientific evidence. For example, if the adjustment time was equal to the residence time, and this value was 5 years, then we would be seeing only 1/4 the amount of excess CO2 than what we are measuring, and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

      • “Atmospheric CO2: the greenhouse thermostat:
        I believe this is another positive feedback. We have a strong forcing function from fossil fuel emissions contributing to the atmospheric CO2 concentration rise. ”
        A thermostat built upon a positive feedback! This is a completely novel concept in physics. Climate scientists will always stun me.

      • “Atmospheric CO2: the greenhouse thermostat:
        I believe this is another positive feedback. We have a strong forcing function from fossil fuel emissions contributing to the atmospheric CO2 concentration rise. ”
        A thermostat built upon a positive feedback! This is a completely novel concept in physics. Climate scientists will always stun me.

        Novel or not, do you disagree with the statement? The climate change skeptics are the ones that think some invisible hand will execute the control algorithms, reminding me vaguely of the invisible hand of the free market.

      • WHT,

        The invisible hand is physical (or scientific) law.

      • WHT,

        The invisible hand is physical (or scientific) law.

        Fair enough, and the feedback can go either way, depending on the sign of a coefficient.

  6. “Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change.”

    I’m unclear as to what you are saying here. Are you saying that the 4 pieces of physical evidence that you mention demonstrate that *all* of the warming in the thermometer record is due to anthropogenic CO2?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      No he isn’t. What he’s saying there is the evidence he lists demonstrates that humans are causing global warming. That doesn’t say how much warming has been caused, just that some amount of anthropogenic warming is undeniable.

      • Then what would be wrong with the statement that there is “‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution”? That seems a stronger statement than “some amount of anthropogenic warming is undeniable”, as it’s the size of the “some” that is the issue.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I think it’s questionable which of those two statements is stronger, but that isn’t important. What’s important is when I said “some,” I didn’t mean to suggest Andrew Lacis has some unclear value in mind. I used “some” because I don’t know what value he has in mind. I’m sure he considers it substantial, but beyond that, I’m not willing to guess.

        If he were writing that sentence instead, he might replace “some” with a more specific description. Perhaps he’d say “at least 70%,” or maybe he’d just say “most.” The vagueness here comes from me not wanting to put words in his mouth, not from him having a vague position. I’m sorry my wording caused confusion.

        It would obviously help if he actually said how much warming is directly attributable to anthropogenic influence, but you don’t need him to do so to understand his position.

      • “It would obviously help if he actually said how much warming is directly attributable to anthropogenic influence, but you don’t need him to do so to understand his position.”

        I rather think that I do.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I don’t see why you would. You could put in a value like 70% as a placeholder, and that should be enough to make clear what he was saying. I don’t understand why that wouldn’t work for you, but if it doesn’t, I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

      • Brandon,

        “I don’t see why you would. You could put in a value like 70% as a placeholder, and that should be enough to make clear what he was saying. I don’t understand why that wouldn’t work for you, but if it doesn’t, I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.”

        I understand that you are trying to help. I appreciate that. But without Mr Lacis actually saying what he thinks the IPCC should have said, it’s difficult to know what his position actually is. If it was, say, “75% of warming is undeniably due to anthropogenic CO2″, then he’d have a lot more evidence to produce than his 4 points.

      • “No he isn’t. What he’s saying there is the evidence he lists demonstrates that humans are causing global warming. That doesn’t say how much warming has been caused, just that some amount of anthropogenic warming is undeniable.”

        Yes he is. If he did not intend that paragraph to mean that all global warming is attributable to anthropogenic causes, then it is just poor writing, and he should say so. But as written, the second sentence makes clear that he is rejecting both “likely” and “some” as being understatements.

        He is claiming that the IPCC is exaggerating uncertainty, and understating the amount of attribution. Since “some” can refer to any amount less than 100%, it makes it clear that Lacis’ use of the word “all” was intended exactly as James Evans reads it.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, claiming text means something doesn’t make it so. The most relevant part of his comment said humans are “causing global warming to happen.” Neither this, nor anything else, says all the warming seen in the modern temperature record which is directly attributable to anthropogenic.

        If you think otherwise, you ought to explain what part of his comment says humans are responsible for 100% of the warming seen in the modern temperature record.

      • Brandon Shollenberger.

        James Evans pointed out “what part of his comment says humans are responsible for 100% of the warming.” I did in a comment below as well.

        It’s that pesky word “all.”

        Lacis expressly rejects the IPCC’s use of the word a “substantial” factor, and argues: “Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity.”

        There is simply no other way to read that sentence as written,

        What precisely do you think he meant in writing “all directly attributable to human industrial activity?”

        The increase in atmospheric CO2 – enhances the terrestrial greenhouse effect – which causes global warming – which is all attributable to human industrial activity.

        If he meant only that the “increase in CO2″ was “all” a result of human industrial activity, then the paragraph is poorly written. But that still does not change the meaning of the paragraph. “Thus causing global warming to happen.” Not “some” global warming, not “most” global warming, global warming period.

        I don’t know what the author thinks, but I can read what he writes. And what he wrote is only consistent with attributing all of global warming to human industrial activity. Once again, if that is not what he meant, it is easy to say so. And since the entire point of this guest post is to clarify the misconstruction of his position by skeptics, this would not seem to be asking too much. In the abscence of a clarification/correction….

      • Yes, this is his point. He doesn’t like the IPCC statement that very likely (95% sure) most (> 50%) of the warming is anthropogenic, He says all of the warming is anthropogenic. The expected magnitude comes from physics, and fully accounts for the observed change.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, first, “very likely” meant >90%, not >95%.. Second, you should see my comment directly above yours for why I say you’re wrong.

      • OK 90%, even worse from his point of view.
        This is what he said.
        “Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change.”
        Note the use of the word “all”. I think he means 100% and not just the CO2, but the global warming too.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, it is true he used the word “all” in that paragraph, but it was not referring to the amount of global warming. Read that paragraph again, but this time read “all” as referring to everything he wrote just before (all of what was listed in that sentence).

        If you do so, you’ll see “all” has a clear antecedent in what came before it. This makes far more sense than it referring to the percentage of the warming seen in the modern temperature record, something which hadn’t even been brought up.

      • Brandon, “all” of what “is directly attributable to human industrial activity”? I don’t see how to interpret it, if it doesn’t mean global warming.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, as I said just above, it would be referring to everything he mentioned previously in that sentence. Specifically, it would be referring to the increase in CO2 enhancing the greenhouse effect and that causing global warming. It would be akin to if you replace “all” with “both of which are.”

      • I’m with Jim D on this one.
        Especially when you consider:

        Whether humans like it or not, and whether humans realize it or not, global warming has been so, and continues to be, fully under human control via fossil fuel burning

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter317, your comment makes no sense. Andrew Lacis said global warming is the trend you’d get if you remove natural variability, and that this trend was caused by anthropogenic influences. If he defines global warming this way, obviously the quote you offered would be true. Moreover, since his definition of global warming specifically excludes natural variability, he couldn’t possibly say all warming seen in the modern temperature record is due to humans. That warming and global warming are not necessarily the exact same, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to claim what you guys are saying he claims.

        Ultimately, you guys are picking an interpretation which requires Andrew Lacis have said something which was obviously wrong and contradicts himself. You are doing this while ignoring a perfectly sensible interpretation which offers no negative impressions. If you think the interpretation I offered is wrong, I’m happy to hear an explanation, but otherwise, your behavior seems questionable.

        I’m quite fine with people being confused about what a person means, but if you can’t point to something wrong with the interpretation I offered, there is no basis for these criticisms of Andrew Lacis. You could say he was less clear than he should have been, but that’s it.

      • Brandon,

        Those are his words, not mine.

        “… fully under human control via fossil fuel burning” leaves no room for any other cause, does it?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter317, if you actually responded to what I say, this exchange would probably be more productive. It would prevent us from talking past each other, as you just did. The second sentence of my latest comment answers your current response completely. Namely, if Andrew Lacis defines global warming as the trend you get when you remove natural variability, obviously there is no room within the trend for any natural variability. This is neither surprising nor problematic.

        What it means is he accepts the modern temperature record may currently show some warming due to natural variability, but that warming is not part of what he calls global warming.

      • Brandon,

        I’ve read it over and over again, and I fail to see where I’ve taken anything out of context.
        I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this, otherwise we’re in danger of hogging the thread.

      • Brandon, Lacis has also said that natural variability cancels out in the long term average, which is probably why it is not an issue for what he would define as climate change.

      • “…warming and global warming are not necessarily the exact same….”

        This is becoming a Joshuaseque argument of semantics. But while Andrew Lacis is certainly under no obligation to clarify his post, I think most will take this point as it is clearly written (Brandon’s tortured parsing notwithstanding) if he fails to do so.

        I for one will demur. Lacis will either comment further that he does not believe that “all” of global warming is attributable to human causes, or he won’t.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter317, while you were rereading it, did you happen to go back and look at my responses to you? To this point, you have still not addressed anything I’ve said. Given that, it’s hardly surprising we may have to agree to disagree.

        Jim D, that’s quite correct.

        GaryM, you’ve accused me of tortured parsing, but you’re the one who has been completely unwilling to address an alternative interpretation. I explained, simply and clearly, why the interpretation used to criticize Andrew Lacis is wrong. Neither you, nor anyone else, has said a word about how my interpretation is flawed. Without addressing my contrary position, you now say you’ll demur and leave the discussion. Ultimately, this means you have done nothing more than raise false criticisms, ignore your critics then level baseless attacks against them in what appears to be an attempt to diminish their credibility, and retreat rather than have an actual discussion.

        Quite frankly, we’ve reached the point where the dialogue breaks down. I’ve repeated the same position time and time again, and none of those who disagree with it have made any effort to explain how it is wrong. This leaves us with one inescapable conclusion. Unless and until someone can actually show my interpretation does not make sense, there is no basis for these criticisms leveled against Andrew Lacis.

      • I responded to you in detail at 3:02 above. You did not reply. Do not bother yourself by doing so now. I am not really interested in reading again what you think the post means. There really is nothing more to be gained at this point by redefining words and quibbling over context.

        But I would be interested in a response from the author himself. If he comments, great. If he doesn’t, no big deal.

      • Brandon, Of course I read your replies, and I do know what you’re saying.
        But If you’re naive enough to believe that Lacis doesn’t know exactly what he’s saying then so be it. I’m not prepared to argue the toss.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Gary M, I did not reply to that particular post because I dealt with the exact same point here, here and here. After making the first of those comments, I saw no reason to reply to your lengthy comment as well. It would just be me repeating myself, and it would cause more clutter. I assumed you’d be able to find this fork and see my responses, and clearly, you have. For whatever reason, you apparently haven’t understood my responses, but you have clearly found where I addressed the position you advanced in the comment you say I didn’t reply to.

        If my interpretation isn’t clear enough for somebody, I’d be happy to restate it. However, neither you, nor anybody else, has actually discussed any supposed flaws in it

      • Brandon,

        I’ve been reading this whole string regarding what Andrew Lacis was stating in his comments. I don’t believe a person needs a degree in the sciences to reach the conclusion that he is saying any statement by the IPCC that that doesn’t attribute all (or at least all that matters) AGW to CO2 is performing a disservice to policy makers and the public. Trying to argue he meant something else based on (a faulty interpretation of) grammer looks like a fools errand.

  7. cementafriend

    I do not know what Andrew Lacis’s qualifications are but it is clear that he has little knowledge of heat and mass transfer. It is very likely he has never opened up a book such as Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook and followed up some of the vast collection of research information such as that carried out by Prof Hoyt Hottel, Prof Thomas Chilton & Dr Allan Colburn. Chemical Engineering of course goes much further than heat & mass transfer -mathematics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, particle dynamics, reaction kinetics, measurement and control, adsorption, energy conversion etc which are all useful and necessary to get some understanding of climate complexity. Radiation absorption and emission of CO2 in the atmosphere is insignificant in the overall complexity.. Anyone who thinks CO2 is of major importance clearly has no understanding of technology.

    • Andy Lacis has a B.A. in Physics, a M.S. in Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Physics. He has several hundred refereed journal publications.

      • Unfortunately he has his mind made up on a lot of open questions. Are we supposed to argue all these issues from scratch, to prove yet agian the existence of the scientific debate?

      • What’s your opinion on the paper he talks about, David?

      • The fact that Andy Lacis reads the blog and provided a guest post demonstrates to me that he has an open mind

      • But his claims are ridiculously strong. There is not an “I think”, “this suggests” or “it appears that” in the pile. He has presented the basic, lengthy case for AGW as a series of bald assertions, raising at least 100 separate scientific arguments. The hundreds of counter arguments are well known. Are we supposed to present all of these? To what end?

        If so then I will start by noting that the climate appears to be a far-from-equilibrium system, hence Andy’s basic premise is false. That should do it, as far as argument by assertion is concerned.

      • steven mosher

        david, if he said ” I think” your response would be that its an open question and not proved. The most interesting thing is they tested Roys conjecture and found that Roy was wrong. The second most interesting thing is understanding the difference between condensible andnon condensible GHGs. do you get the point of that at least

      • Unfortunately, his rude uniformed attitude really shows that he is just very confident that he can talk down to the unwashed and show off to his AGW promoter pals how big he is.
        He may impress his peers, but he is losing completely in the public square.

      • Mosh, my point is that these are open points, so his language is ridiculous.

      • If so then I will start by noting that the climate appears to be a far-from-equilibrium system, hence Andy’s basic premise is false. That should do it, as far as argument by assertion is concerned.

        You can have a system that is “far-from-equilibrium” yet it still exhibits steady-state properties. A photo-voltaic cell under constant illumination is a good example of this. The PV cell will show constant current-voltage characteristics under a load, even though it is far from equilibrium, as the incident photons are in no way in equilibrium with the output current.

        Solution: don’t use the word equilibrium, and instead substitute the word steady-state or even quasi-equilibrium if we want to be able to solve practical problems.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Perhaps Dr. Lacis would find a much more hospitable reception if he posted something not aimed to insult the readers, and then actually had a conversation on the thread.
        Posting a bomb and then leaving is not really accomplishing very much.

      • Dr. Lacis sticks to old theories that are unvalidated by today’s science and disagree with observations. We are in the 21st century, and an average junior level knows more about the earth than Fourier, Tyndall, and Arrhenius combined. Dr. Lacis is not an open minded for he still lives in the past.

      • steven mosher

        which points do you think are open to debate? As student of philosophy I think the existence of your mind is open to debate ( the problem of other minds) but not a very interesting debate.. only a few of us would enjoy it. scientifically, I don’t think that RTE are open to debate. However, I debate them all the time. its not very interesting to me because the other side is just ill informed, but I still debate them. so which statements of his do you think are open to an interesting debate.. not mere gainsaying by the ill informed, but real debate

      • In science, all points should be open for debate. In pseudo-science not so much.

      • And I’m sure he has never been censored on “judithcurry.com” …. which appears to be the gold standard whenever one is in danger of being right about something and not afraid to say it directly.

      • cementafriend

        There is a lot more to heat transfer than radiation (where the S-B law applies only to black bodies in a vacuum and needs adjustment factors). For a example, phase change which in the atmosphere mainly concerns evaporation of water at the surface (or boundary between surface and the fluid atmosphere) and condensation in the various layers of the atmosphere leading to cloud formation and precipitation. Is cloud formation part of physics? Certainly, not the physics I studied. There is at this time no one that fully understands clouds so there is no one that understand climate change. Convective heat transfer (natural and forced) also has its complexities.

      • Dr. Curry:
        Perry’s Chemical Engineering is a great book. As you will find, it contains so much about heat transfer and thermodynamics that are transferable to climate studies. I used it extensively in my climate calculations.

    • I do not know what Andrew Lacis’s qualifications are…

      Do you see how his name at the top of the post is in blue letters?

      That means that it’s hypertext. You can click on his name, and like magic, it will take you to other webpages. If you use that process and explore a bit, you can find out information about his qualifications.

      Hope that helps.

  8. An amazing sequence of wildly strong, and unsubstantiated, claims, completely lacking in scientific caution. Truly a tour de force of false certainty. But such a list of wild claims is valuable in its own way, as they are plainly spelled out. The trunk of the climate change issue tree, as it were.

    • steven mosher

      yes wild claims like: water condenses out of the atmosphere, C02 does not.. and the importance of that in viewing GHGs as a “control knob”.. unforntunate metaphor

      • Claiming to know that CO2 is a control knob is certainly one of the wild claims. So is claiming to know that the climate system is in equilibrium, for that matter. There is evidence that it is a far from equilibrium system. Claiming to know that natural variability evens out on any specific time scale is a wild claim. Claiming to know that solar input is minor is a wild claim. Shall I continue? There are too many to list. Reading this post one would never know that the scientific debate exists. How silly is that?

      • steven mosher

        you should continue cause you missed on the first two. the control knob is an unforntunate metaphor, but once you understand what he is talking about its pretty clear. The issue, the open issue, is what is the GAIN on that knob. If you drop all the H20 from the atmosphere, guess what? it comes back after a couple weeks.. its a feedback. If you drop C02 to zero.. frozen world. The point of C02 and the other non condensible GHGs should be clear.. they “control” or force the system. If you drop C02 to zero its doesn magically come back as water vapor does. I think the terminology of “control knob” is very unfortunate because of all the collateral concepts it imports, but in terms of describing the role it plays its not a horrible metaphor. On the equillibrium claims, read the SI to understand how gavin ( I suspect it was gavin) handled that issue.

        So a debate does exist. What is the gain on that knob?

      • quote
        If you drop all the H20 from the atmosphere, guess what? it comes back after a couple weeks.. its a feedback. If you drop C02 to zero.. frozen world.
        unquote

        If you drop atmospheric water vapour to zero, it will reconstitute. If Henry’s law holds then I reckon CO2 would reconstitute although I have no idea of the time frame. So, to make the two cases equivalent you should, in the water vapour case, also remove the liquid water reservoir which is the cause of the water vapour restoration. Then, in the CO2 case, you should… oh, look, same thing.

        The control knob of the climate is not CO2 or water vapour. It is the oceanic/atmospheric boundary layer. This layer, microns thick and covering 70% of the entire platetary surface, determines: the rate of CO2 and water vapour fluxes; the albedo of smooth and ruffled open water; the nutrient status of the lit surface layers; the production of mechanically and biologically mediated aerosols; the albedo of 23% of the global surface from essentially zero to 60 by modification of boundary layer cloud . (That’s the other boundary layer, the atmospheric one.)

        Dr Lacis expresses very clearly the determined view that all other effects are dwarfed by CO2. He is to be congratulated on his certainty in the face of uncertainty.

        JF

      • the control knob is an unforntunate metaphor,
        Metaphor? That is his thesis.

      • So is claiming to know that the climate system is in equilibrium, for that matter. There is evidence that it is a far from equilibrium system.

        Of course it is a far from equilibrium system. The earth is not in equilibrium with the sun. The earth keeps on getting hit with the sun’s photon’s and it is just responding to the continuous forcing function.
        As I said in a previous comment above, this doesn’t mean that we can’t try to solve these kinds of systems. Of course we can, it is called a steady-state response function.

      • steven,
        “thermostat” is certainly a poor choice, but is Lacis’ deliberate choice.
        And since he ignores the historic record regarding CO2 and climate, he comes across on this far different than what I am sure he wished.
        And then getting to his cartoon view of skeptics. It has already been pointed out that if he in the same article speaks about something like skeptics in such an incredibly ignorant fashion, why should his science be any less so?

      • there is no logical connection between the things he says about skeptics and the science. Look Jones violated FOIA, but that didnt make his science wrong. His science stands or falls on the maths. Now its easy for you to find a personal flaw and discount the science you dont understand.
        So, Andrew ais wrong about the skeptics and right about the science. go figure, mann was wrong about the skeptics and wrong about the science.

        for the history of C02 and how its connected to this work, I suppose I would recommend Alley

      • for the history of C02 and how its connected to this work, I suppose I would recommend Alley

        I had a nice discussion with Waughan Pratt about Alley’s hilarous statements on the history of CO2… and mostly about the history of its effects (none).

        In short, he talks a lot about CO2-temperatures correlation in the past, though never questionning which comes first and showing no evidence (of course) for a CO2 –> temperature relationship. Then, quickly adressing that crucial question, he says: “… and how do we know that…? and answers: “Because it’s physics! It’s physics, stupid!

        Yes, it’s somehow “connected to this work“, if you mean Lacis’ series of wild claims we have here…

      • steven,
        When someone is wildly illogical and deceptive in one area, then the chances of them containing that failing to only one area is very small.
        Since Lacis has built a career enabling or pushing the idea of a climate catastrophe, and relies on conspiratorial fantasies to defend it, rather than actual facts, I think it is not illogical at all to wonder what else he has wrong.
        Something to ponder is this:
        Why has the climatocracy refused to come clean about climategate, and why have they apparently avoided foia even more since, and why are they apparently taking steps (illegal?) to make sure there are no records of their work or communications?
        That is not the behavior of a group that is dealing in truth.
        Lacis’ post here is part of that same spectrum of bad anti-science unethical behavior.
        Why should anyone believe anything he says at this point?

      • steven mosher | October 9, 2011 at 11:57 am | Reply

        “GHGs as a “control knob”.. unforntunate metaphor”

        Not another “unfortunate metaphor”. Blimey let’s see, how many is that now.

        . “Greenhouse Effect”
        . “Greenhouse Gases”
        . “Heat Trapping Gas”
        . “Back Radiation”
        . “Atmospheric Blanket”
        . “control knob”

        I think that pretty much covers the entire silly hypothesis. AGW is derived primarily from the use of six main “unfortunate metaphors” and propped up by every logical fallacy ever documented and many more yet to be so.

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

        What is the difference between Mosher’s pathetic “unfortunate metaphor” excuses for such logical fallacies, and the response you get from a child when they are caught lying?

        NOTHING!

    • To some skeptics they are wild ideas, to others like Spencer and Pielke, they are too obvious to even talk about.

  9. “Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions”

    Pass out the tin foil hats. This is beyond preposterous. Dupes and minions? You left out lackeys.

    • My apologies for the somewhat strident tone in language.

      I was merely following that old and trusted sage advise of when in Rome, try conversing in the local vernacular.

  10. Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change.

    In other words, the science is settled.
    Can we quote you on that?

  11. This paper is a “one year anniversary” non-event, in an apparent attempt to get everyone’s attention off of IPCC, Climategate, unexplained lack of warming of both the atmosphere and the upper ocean, unusually harsh winters across the northern hemisphere, loss of public confidence and trust and a host of other worries for the “alarming AGW faithful”.

    Although the approach used is radically different, the conclusions reached are similar to those of the lecture given by Dr. Richard B. Alley entitled:
    “Biggest Control Knob – Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History” at an AGU meeting on 15 December 2009

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

    While Alley “interprets” reconstructed data series from selected periods of our geological past to try to prove his “control knob” hypothesis (and a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3°C) the Lacis et al. paper relies on model simulations (hey, Gavin Schmidt is one of the co-authors).

    Alley’s presentation has been debunked elsewhere, but what is missing from both studies is empirical evidence based on real-time physical observations or reproducible experimentation.

    Result: No news here IMO.

    Max

  12. Thank you, Dr. Curry, for this extensive coverage of what you believe the physics to be on the subject of CAGW. As an avid reader of your blog since it started, and many other sources of information, I do not believe that what various people have written support all the conclusions you espouse. It would be far too long to give the reasons why I diagree with you, but some of the specific items that you mention which I believe are just plain wrong are as follows:-

    “The greenhouse physics, (and the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases) as the fundamental basis for global warming, are well founded. (My brackets)

    Solar forcing is cyclical and small, while the GHG residence time is very long.

    Fortunately, the global warming component, it being tied directly to the growing strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, is a uniquely radiative effect that can be addressed independently of the other climate complexities

    Geological evidence shows that 450 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is the critical level that is needed to sustain polar ice caps, although the time scale for the melting of polar ice caps is many centuries.”

  13. “Geological evidence shows that 450ppm of atmospheric CO2 is the critical level that is needed to maintain polar ice caps….”

    Really? The sort of evidence that you would characterise as “scientific”?

    If this is the science that politicians should “keep in mind” then we are in for some truly cranky policy decisions.

    • I actually think it is a fascinating paper that really makes you think.

      The premise that Lacis presents is: “what happens if we turned off the GHG property of atmospherics CO2?”

      The results, summarized in Fig. 2, show unequivocally that the radiative forcing by noncondensing GHGs is essential to sustain the atmospheric temperatures that are needed for significant levels of water vapor and cloud feedback. Without this noncondensable GHG forcing, the physics of this model send the climate of Earth plunging rapidly and irrevocably to an icebound state, though perhaps not to total ocean freezeover.

      How does one systematically argue this and then argue the other etxreme of a situation like Venus, for which the role of CO2 obviously keeps the planet in an absurdly hot state.

      So the control knob of CO2 is there, and that is what they are encouraging people to keep in mind.

      • WHT,
        And if we turned off the chemical/physical properties of oxygen, we could all be brain dead Malthusians.
        And if a blackhole drifted into solar space, we would be smashed to a pulp before passing the event horizon.
        Lacis’ experiment is useless.

      • Lacis’ experiment is useless.

        Limiting evaluations and Gedanken experiments are useful in the absence of a controlled experiment. They also provide sanity checks for the models.

      • No, they are no more useful than reading back issues of Analog Science Fiction magazine for PhD thesis ideas.
        Turning off the GHE means Earth starts heating and cooling like Luna, excepting for a different diurnal cycle.
        I jsut wish these great experiemtners would actually address why CO2, according to the history they claim to believe, does not act as a thermostat, but is very much a delayed response.
        But ignoring skeptics is a specialty of the climatocrats, so I am not expecting an answer any time soon.

      • Turning off the GHE means Earth starts heating and cooling like Luna, excepting for a different diurnal cycle.

        What happened to the 33 degree warming shift? How convenient of you not to mention it.

      • Hunter,

        The experimenters have actually addressed why CO2 lags and acts as a thermostat.

        It’s quite simple really… during an ice age, something happens external to natural factors that causes the temperature to rise a little bit (maybe a shift in orbit, or something else). That temp rise then causes something to outgas CO2 (possibly oceans, but maybe not) that then raises the temp even more (along with other GHG that feedback and enhance the warming), which causes more outgasing. This continues until some unknown factor either greatly slows the output rate of whatever is outgasing or something else (like plants) start taking in all the extra CO2 or something happens to the other GHG’s, or something external causes a bump downward in temp (or a combination of the 4 as the CO2 doesn’t just level off but drops along with the temp). Since CO2 cannot be removed as fast as it was initially outgased, the CO2 then acts as a sort of parachute to slow the temperature decrease back to the iceage.

        We know all that above is true because scientists cannot figure out any other way for the current temperature to rise that much today other than man-caused CO2 plus feedbacks from other GHG’s.

        You see, simple. You are a fossil fuel dupe or minion if you question that rock solid explanation.

  14. Judith –

    Did you explain to Andrew how rude some of the “denizens” get when they’re feeding on red meat?

    It would be interesting to read “skeptical” viewpoints on the paper Andrew writes about. I wonder if any “skeptics”:will step up to the plate. Of course, I suppose it’s much easier to “reverse appeal to authority” by questioning Andrew’s qualifications, or to blithely talk of “wild claims?”

    • Joshua, I will be weeding out the content free attacks (I’ve already deleted a bunch of comments). Hopefully we can get a good discussion going.

      • My lack of content in the post you deleted was an objection to this article along the lines of David Wojicks comment above. But if you insist …
        1) Why does temperature precede CO2 changes by 500-1000 years ?
        2) Why has temperature not risen in the last 15 years or so ?
        3) Why was the temperature in the Holocene so much higher than today even though CO2 levels were so much lower ?
        4) Is there any conclusive evidence that the T rises over the last 150 years are definitively not natural ?

        And why is it OK to use language like “fossil fuel lobby minions” and “climate change deniers” ? From an academic for gods sake.

      • On technical threads with a guest post, I do insist. Thank you for your modified comment.

      • Judith the poster has rather set the abusive tone here, with his “fossil-fuel minions” mouth-breather drivel. If you are going to censure comments for that sort of abuse, why not start with the original post? Could you not have asked Lacis to remove the teenage taunts before publishing (you would, after all, have been doing him a favour)? You would then be on firmer ground when censuring the comments.

      • Joshua, I will be weeding out the content free attacks (I’ve already deleted a bunch of comments). Hopefully we can get a good discussion going.

        Thanks Judith.

        Actually, I’d appreciate it if you delete that 10:11 post. of mine also. It was stupid – and served no real purpose w.r.t. advancing a good discussion. Apologies.

        Still, I would be interested in reading discussion about the paper Andrew discusses – the related posts at Pielke Sr.’s blog are interesting.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        curryja | October 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

        Now if only you would weed out the content free posts like this attempt by Lacis to prop up his paper … this is another modeling exercise, models all the way down.

        Lacis keeps talking about how he has demonstrated a host of things, but he has only demonstrated them in model-world. This lack of distinction between what model results show to be unalterable truth in model-world, and what observations actually show about the real world, is a consistent problem with modelers, one that Lacis has so badly that he doesn’t see it at all.

        You appear to be caught up in this as well, Judith. For example, you say:

        The text of the paper provides the supporting science and illustrates the key role that atmospheric CO2 plays in the operation of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, perhaps more directly than has been done before.

        No, the paper provides the supporting MODEL RESULTS, not supporting science. And if you weren’t caught up in the modeler’s dream, you would have written:

        The text of the paper provides the supporting science and illustrates the key role that atmospheric CO2 plays in the operation of the MODELED terrestrial greenhouse effect.

        This is far from a trivial or unimportant difference. The model can only show us the beliefs and ideas of the programmer, and we have no evidence that those beliefs and ideas are tested or correct.

        If I were king, I’d require that people put the word “MODELED” in every one of these kind of specious attempts to slide model results past our guard as if they were actually evidence about the real world.

        This post strikes me as very desperate, just another modeler clutching at straws … but unfortunately, they are not real straws, just modeled straws, so he’s likely to go down with the modeled ship …

        w.

      • Richard Hill

        “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right.
        As an engineer/programmer who has worked with simulations for many years (in a very different area), I fully agree with Willis. Also the use of the word “experiment” to refer to a model run grates.

      • “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right.

        Everyone uses this quote to mock any kind of mathematical analysis (which is all a model is BTW). But if you look at the context of Box’s original quote, the preceding line is “The fact that the polynomial is an approximation does not necessarily detract from its usefulness because all models are approximations.” No big deal, as Box basically is saying that models don’t always do these things accurately enough, but it has nothing to do if the model is necessarily wrong conceptually. The lazies quoting this don’t realize that all Box was criticizing was numerical accuracy, and everyone else is applying it to some strawman of the futility of modeling.

        Go look up the original Box quote. It is pretty funny how it has been twisted to meet people’s preconceived notions as to what Box meant. It’s all about approximations and errors, both epistemic and aleatory interfering with how well a job we can do with the model.

      • Your defense begs the question:

        “No big deal, as Box basically is saying that models don’t always do these things accurately enough, but it has nothing to do if the model is necessarily wrong conceptually.”

        The models have been shown conceptually correct how? We are really arguing the “useful” in the Box statement.

      • Your defense begs the question:

        “No big deal, as Box basically is saying that models don’t always do these things accurately enough, but it has nothing to do if the model is necessarily wrong conceptually.”

        The models have been shown conceptually correct how? We are really arguing the “useful” in the Box statement.

        Box had a throwaway line that has been totally twisted by anti-modelers. His previous sentence in that quote said that if models were numerically accurate enough they could prove useful.

      • Willis

        This is far from a trivial or unimportant difference. The model can only show us the beliefs and ideas of the programmer, and we have no evidence that those beliefs and ideas are tested or correct.

        Willis, your statement is supported by a concession made by an expert:


        …we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!

  15. “(1) a description of our recent water vapor feedback/forcing experiments”. Can anyone say what these experiments actually consisted of and what the results were? Were they carried out in a lab somewhere?

  16. Hank Zentgraf

    Andrew Lacis, your use of pejorative language reveals your lack of confidence in your own work.

  17. Morley Sutter

    There is difficulty with the analogy of CO2 being the “control knob” of global temperature. Control knobs as are present on audio systems and thermostats always alter sound or temperature when they are rotated unless the system is not working properly. For the last decade, atmospheric CO2 has increased without a significant increase in the average surface temperature of the earth. Has the control knob come loose?

    • steven mosher

      No, there is a lag in the system. Think rudder on an oil tanker. The control knob on your stereo act instantaneously. increases in GHGs do not. The point of the control knob metaphor is tied to the fact that GHGs do not rain out of the sky, H2O does

      • Steven Mosher wrote:

        “The point of the control knob metaphor is tied to the fact that GHGs do not rain out of the sky, H2O does”

        CO2 dissolves in water, CO2 rains from the sky at the same time H2O does.

      • what part of non condensible do you not get

      • steven mosher | October 10, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply

        “what part of non condensible do you not get”

        What part of pH 5.6 – 6.0 for rain water don’t you get Mosher?

        What part of H2CO3 don’t you get Mosher?

        What part of relentless fool/ deliberate deceiver don’t you get Mosher?

      • Steven Mosher,

        When is the last time that all, or most of, or a great deal of, or half, or 12% of the water rained out of the sky, and was not immediately replaced?

      • Exactly. I keep hearing the statement that H2O precipitates out of the sky as if it disappears altogether.
        Where it precipitates in one place, it is replaced via evaporation in another.
        Radiation doesn’t distinguish between WV from last week or WV that just evaporated from the ocean or ground.

        In fact, one can argue that because H2O precipitates and evaporates, it has a much larger influence on climate than CO2 ever can.

        This point, which Lacis and like minded others who keep repeating it, needs to be clarified.

      • Don that is the point! You run a GCM and drop the C02. see what happens. you drop the water and as andy notes.. it gets replaced. THAT is what makes the not condensible GHGs the CONTROL…

      • steven,
        the historical record suggests that CO2 is a very unique rudder: it turns after the ship has turned.

      • steven mosher | October 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Reply

        “GHGs do not rain out of the sky”

        Is it even possible to be more confused or deliberately deceptive than this?

        Pure water has a pH of 7.0.

        Rain water has a pH of 5.6 because it contains H2CO3, carbonic acid.

        Can you credibly deny all knowledge of such basic facts?

        I have said it before and I will say it again. There are three kinds of AGW proponents, liars, fools and lying fools.

      • Pure water has a pH of 7.0.

        Rain water has a pH of 5.6 because it contains H2CO3, carbonic acid.

        Can you credibly deny all knowledge of such basic facts?

        Indeed CO2 has fascinating properties and is inscrutable to many.
        For instance, how can something so important to life, also be considered a pollutant?

  18. “(3)…The magnitude of their [water vapor and clouds] feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.” This does not seem to correspond with other assessments of the effects of clouds. For example, AR4 WG1 assesses the level of scientific understanding of cloud albedo effects as “low.” Can you please clarify?

    • Exactly the point I was going to make. Table 1 in Soden & Held “An assessment of climate feedbacks in coupled ocean-atmosphere models” (Jnl. Climate, 2006) shows cloud feedbacks varying from 0.14 to 1.18. Hardly within 10%. And observationally-based estimates of actual cloud feedback from different studies show even larger variations.

  19. Thanks for this good summary. Will you kindly consider addressing a few additional related issues.

    It is my understanding that few, if any, of the important physical phenomena and processes related to clouds are treated from first principles. These include the vertical motions of clouds, all the radiative-energy-transport characterizations of the non-vaporous ( gaseous ) phases of water in the clouds, the vertical locations of the cloud tops, the distributions of the non-vaporous phases of water within the clouds, and all aspects of precipitation of liquid- and solid-phase water from the clouds. There are very likely many others. Discussions of the accuracy of radiative-energy transport in the presence of the vaporous phase of water is all well and good, but is that the dominate physical phenomena of interest when clouds are the focus?

    How can we be assured that these parameterizations have not introduced phenomena and processes that are not in accord with the real-world systems of interest. For example, have sensitivity investigations of the effects of uncertainties in the parameterizations been conducted so as to show that these are not important to the conclusions of the papers cited in your post.

    Conservation of energy. Some GCM numerical solution methods do not conserve energy ( or mass ) but instead include use of energy ( and mass ) fixers to attempt to conserve energy ( and mass ). Is there information available to show that the magnitude of these ad hoc conservation fixers are sufficiently small so as to not affect the results of the papers cited in your post. What is the magnitude of the corrections compared to that of the signal of interest?

    The physical system of interest is not now and has never been in equilibrium. What is the estimated time scale necessary to ensure that the periods when there is an excess of net energy loss from the system is balanced by those for which there is an excess of net energy input into the system. Are the GCM calculations of the radiative-energy budget at the TOA in accord with measured data?

    Thanks

    • Dan,

      I would not say that GCM clouds are computed from first principles. Cloud physics is quite complex, so we need to make use of a number of empirical relationships that are established from field or laboratory measurements. The end product of the cloud parameterization are model generated cloud properties, distributions, and variability that resembles the real world. Given the model generated clouds, we can calculate their radiative effects on atmospheric fluxes accurately for both solar and thermal radiation. It is the same sort of radiation modeling techniques that are used in calculating GCM radiative fluxes as in retrieving cloud information from remote sensing measurements.

      In the so-called model numerics, a great deal of care is used in formulating the differential equation solution approach so as to explicitly conserve a number of quantities (mass, energy, water substance, angular momentum, linear momentum, vorticity) that are all important for the accurate representation of atmospheric dynamics.

      Equilibrium is a relative concept in climate modeling. In the real sense, nothing is ever in equilibrium. Solar radiative forcing varies enormously through the course of the day. Then there is the seasonal variability. It might be said that the climate system is always striving to approach equilibrium. But if we select a time period of one year, then it is more appropriate to speak of the Earth being in ‘equilibrium’ with the periodic forcing, if the periodicity of that forcing remains trendless.

      The GCM calculations of the radiation budget are indeed consistent with measured data. The problem is that satellite flux measurements are not precise enough to validate GCM fluxes to the extent that is desired. Because of the large ocean heat capacity, the global surface temperature does not respond immediately to the applied radiative forcing due to the greenhouse gas increase, causing about a 0.5 W/m2 imbalance between the absorbed solar flux and the outgoing thermal flux. Existing satellite measurements lack the precision to see this flux difference.

  20. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for posting this. Kudos that you are willing to take the personal invective such a post is sure to attract from some quarters. I admire your efforts at trying to communicate your scientific views.

    I think that the seven points you raise could be used to point the way toward establishing the requirements necessary for formal IV&V of the global climate models. Many people think that the models cannot be formally verified and validated. But I do not agree. As you noted, everyone seems to agree that your paper was not about anything really new or previously unknown. So what’s the problem? At exactly which of your seven points would the models fail IV&V? I don’t see any problem. It will take some work, sure, to clear things up. Dan Hughes, in a comment above, lists some of the more important ones. But, IMHO, nothing remotely impossible.

    Everyone is beginning to agree that the IPCC’s approach won’t work. But it’s not the models fault. It’s not your fault. The IPCC lacks the necessary independence and knowledge/use of consensus IV&V methods. Time for a new entity.

  21. As engineer working for French and European Space Agencies, I have the greatest respect for NASA achievements, especially in the field of man flight. Unfortunately US Space Agency has lost part of its credibility by cancelling ARES program and ending Shuttle flights, without proposing any credible alternate to provide access to ISS and pursue space exploration. And I’m not so sure that supporting dubious scientific claims about Global Warming, driven by (manmade) CO2 concentration is the best way for NASA to regain its lost credibility.

    Former NASA administrator, M. Griffith, has always claimed its skepticism regarding AGW theory and recalled that the Agency’s mission was to collect data for scientific community, not to promote policies for alleviating potential effects of climate change. Dr John Theon, previous Director / Supervisor of Hansen & Schmidt at NASA also issued very sharp criticisms of AGW theory and of the models that were supposed to support it. So I just wonder how the agency could have come to such a tricky situation !

    In order to verify Lacis’ claim that CO2 is driving Earth climate, I propose a small exercise regarding variations of CO2 concentration vs. variations of T° and PDO index, just using a convenient tool and data set available on the Net.

    Proceeding
    Step 1: go to woodfortrees site (http://www.woodfortrees.org)

    Step 2: for each of the 3 parameters (HADCRUT3 variance-adjusted global mean / ESRL CO2 / JISAO PDO Index) apply following treatment:
    a) From time… to time…. : select a ~ 20 or even 10 years period to get sufficient accuracy
    b) Mean(Sample) => 12 (months) : to get rid of seasonal variations, especially for CO2
    c) Derivative : provides the variations of the parameter w.r.t time
    d) Mean(Sample) => 12 (months) : for “smoothing” the output signal
    e) Normalize : to get comparable outputs’ scales.

    Step 3: repeat the exercise using a 3 years (36 months) and a 11 or 13 years (132 or 156 months) averaging (here you can use the full [1958 – 2011] available data).

    Results

    [1970-1980]

    [1974-1994]

    [1990-2010]

    3 years’ averaging

    13 years’ averaging

    Discussion
    Main outcomes are the following:
    1) All variations follow a similar pattern showing a roughly 3 years’ quasi-periodic cycle, likely to correspond to El Nino oscillation (ENSO)

    2) [CO2] variations are following T° variations with about 6 to 12 months lag…

    3) T° variations are generally following PDO index variations with a shorter lag (about 0 to 6 months)

    4) By increasing the averaging time scale one remove “high frequency” cycles (i.e. ENSO) but put in evidence some larger scale cycles such as :
    a) Solar cycle (11 years) using a 3 to 4 years averaging
    b) PDO cycle (60 years) using a 13 years averaging.

    5) Indeed, at any time scale you’re looking at this issue, the conclusion remains unchanged :
    PDO variations are preceding T° ones, which are themselves preceding variations of [CO2]

    Conclusions
    1) Earth’ climate is not driven by CO2 concentration but by complex Oceans’ (thermal) Oscillations, Oceans’ being of course main heat reserve & inertia wheel of Earth climate system.

    2) Variations of CO2 concentration are actually following these Oceans’ Oscillations and the subsequent ones of global temperature and of Ocean’s degasing rate.

    3) IPCC claims that human use of fossil fuels causes global warming are not funded and formally falsified by comparison with observational data. AGW theory is fully based on flawed and formally invalidated models.

    4) IPCC has promoted alarmist propaganda and dangerous policies, only based one this junk science.

    5) NASA is losing money and credibility by supporting such dubious scientific claims.

    • Eric Ollivet

      PDO variations are preceding T° ones, which are themselves preceding variations of [CO2]

      Thanks for a very interesting analysis.

      Max

    • Try plotting CO2 from Mauna Loa and Antarctic Law Ice dome vs the Temperature anomaly from any of the major indices.

      I have a copy of someone else’s work that I can’t trace, so I wont post it.

      But anyone can do that provided they have some experience with excell and a few hours of free time.

    • Eric Ollivet

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1957/mean:204/derivative/mean:36/normalise/plot/esrl-co2/mean:204/derivative/mean:36/normalise/plot/jisao-pdo/from:1957/mean:204/derivative/mean:36/normalise

      As just some guy, I believe that I can remove the noise from a signal up to one third of the length of the trend by smoothing to the mean, and only improve the clarity of the signal.

      Oh, look. At 17 years, it becomes plain that the PDO-Global relationship ceases to correlate well by the early 1970’s, and continues to degrade so much by the mid-80’s as to become almost completely non-explanatory. Indeed, by that point, global temperature precedes PDO.

      While the CO2 relationship with global temperature continues and becomes stronger throughout the span of your graph. Further, the more you smooth to remove noise, the clearer the signal gets.

      And as a bonus, we see that as a distant second, the PDO does account for variations in global temperature.. after the much stronger CO2 effect is taken into account.

      So, which is the driver, Temperature of CO2?

      Without a doubt, Temperature drives some of the CO2 level, but we can see by the variations due PDO in the global temperature curtailment in CO2 due temperature drops is not very large compared the overall CO2 curve, however large the short-term drop in temperature.

      CO2 is the dominant driver, clearly. In a century, the same noise due PDO flux will likely remain. It will just remain at a higher level of global temperature and CO2, if this graph is representative of what is happening.

      Still, WHT’s graph is far better, so playing with the little toy graphing tool from woodfortrees seems silly at this point.

    • Eric Ollivet

      Dr Roy Spencer’s analysis about Increasing Atmospheric CO2: Manmade…or Natural?

      Some extracts

      “The yearly increase of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa shows huge natural fluctuations which are caused by temperature changes”.
      ….
      “In fact, it turns out that these large year-to-year fluctuations in the rate of atmospheric accumulation are tied to temperature changes, which are in turn due mostly to El Nino, La Nina, and volcanic eruptions. And as shown in the next figure, the CO2 changes tend to follow the temperature changes, by an average of 9 months”.

      “Year to year CO2 fluctuations at Mauna Loa show that the temperature changes tend to precede the CO2 changes”.

      “This means that most (1.71/1.98 = 86%) of the upward trend in carbon dioxide since CO2 monitoring began at Mauna Loa 50 years ago could indeed be explained as a result of the warming, rather than the other way around”.

      “So, there is at least empirical evidence that increasing temperatures are causing some portion of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2, in which case CO2 is not the only cause of the warming.”

      Tends to support my analysis and conclusions

      • “Year to year CO2 fluctuations at Mauna Loa show that the temperature changes tend to precede the CO2 changes”.

        Certainly this shows up in the cross-correlation, as the temperature anomaly shows zero lag with differential CO2 changes, about 1 PPM per degree temperature change.That is a clear derivative term, but the proportional term is still there as well.

        The question is how much of the CO2 increase is due to fossil fuel and how much is due to positive feedback in temperature. My data-driven estimate is that at worst 75% is fossil-fuel emission based and 25% is reinforced latent CO2 outgassing. This assumes that the 1 PPM/degree change has a latent inertia that will accumulate for awhile (the oceans have a huge latent heat capacity that will continue to release CO2 until it catches up to the atmospheric steady-state).

        http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/10/temperature-induced-co2-release-adds-to.html

        How much of the 25% is caused ultimately by the original fossil fuel emissions is then up for debate. Obviously multi-decadal temperature variations can account for some of this, but after 100 years, the long-term change starts to assert its authority.

      • Eric,
        Dealing with Web is something in which you should not expect a reasonable discussion as an outcome. He is a Malthusian and is very tenacious.

      • Eric,
        Dealing with Web is something in which you should not expect a reasonable discussion as an outcome. He is a Malthusian and is very tenacious.

        Malthusian (???)
        I would go for tenacious because I was taught the scientific method properly.

      • Properly?
        lol.

      • Properly?
        lol.

        I actually lift a finger as that is half the battle.

      • Eric Ollivet

        Looking at http://woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:2010 we see what Dr. Spencer calls huge and large. From just over 386.5 to just under 394.5.

        That’s less than 8/387.5. According to your source, 2% is huge and large. Perhaps he has been consulted on dress sizes for Hollywood actresses.

        And while by eye I could conjecture 86% of the one year CO2 rise were temperature-correlated in any yearly cycle, clearly there is much greater temperature variability in the region of Mauna Loa in a year (~5-10C) than there has been globally since observations started (~0.7C), so one would only consider Dr. Spencer’s claims plausible if the rise in CO2 since 1960 were smaller than the change in a single year by a factor of ten, rather than larger by an order of magnitude.

        It is impossible to attribute such estimation error to anything but foregone conclusion on Dr. Spencer’s part.

        All we can say of your citation is that your confirmation bias tends to be confirmed when compared to Dr. Spencer’s confirmation bias.

  22. This might have been useful if it were an attempt at what McIntyre calls an “engineering quality” report on the basics rather than an attempt to make a debate point about water vapor that really is at best a side show.

  23. ” a warmer world is preferable to a colder one.”

    This is the premise that began my journey toward skepticism. I didn’t know enough to question the establishment science, but I kept wondering why I was never encountering reasonable discussions of what has to be the pros of a warmer world. Surely, at least for people living in harsh northern climes, warmer has to be better. And yet concerning the benefits, there was only silence.

  24. While the current principal interest in climatology is the climate change induced in the 21st century by increasing the CO2 concentration from 280 to 560 ppm, multiple efforts by many climatologists cannot seem to overcome the uncertainties inherent in their models that still lack credibility and consistency. It has therefore occurred to a number of climatologists that perhaps by studying the past (tens of thousands of years ago to hundreds of millions of years ago) and seeking relationships between CO2 and climate during those periods, we might be able to obtain real world data on how climate and CO2 are connected. This real world data will presumably have built into it all the secondary processes that take place. For example, we have very good data on CO2 concentration during the Last Glacial Maximum, some 20,000 years ago, so that is one important historical point for further study. In addition, there are also a variety of estimates of CO2 concentration that go back as far as 500 million years, but unfortunately such data are very scattered and do not appear to be very reliable. But climatologists are a sturdy lot, and they are willing to derive a dollar’s worth of conclusions from a penny’s worth of data.

    What we seek is a relationship between CO2 concentration and the Earth’s climate over long geological periods during which the CO2 concentration varied over a very wide range. There is evidence that the CO2 concentration may have been very high in the distant past, and it has been as low as ~180 ppm only 20,000 years ago. It would be very nice if there were a single curve relating the global average temperature to CO2 concentration. In that case, if we could find several points on the curve, we could attempt to map out a good portion of the curve. However, over long time periods, the variation of the global average temperature with CO2 concentration depends on various factors such as the placement of the continents on Earth, the functionality of ocean currents, the past history of the climate, the orientation of the Earth’s orbit relative to the Sun, the luminosity of the Sun, the presence of aerosols in the atmosphere, volcanic action, land clearing, biological evolution, etc. Hence, there is probably no single curve relating the global average temperature to CO2 concentration, but rather, a set of curves that depend on the above factors.

    The argument for CO2 as the “greenhouse thermostat” for long-term climate change goes (more or less): If it wasn’t CO2, what else could it have been? Foster et al. (2009) described this as the “accepted paradigm”. This argument has some merit. We can estimate from first principles the heating effect that rising CO2 will produce in the atmosphere. If that was the only thing that occurred – that is, only the CO2 concentration changed and no secondary effects took place– we would be able to predict the effect of changing CO2 with some precision. The problem is that other effects take place as a consequence of the climate changes induced by changing CO2, such as changes in humidity, cloudiness, winds, ocean currents, land cover, ice sheets and glaciers, etc., and these secondary changes may be of greater magnitude than the original stimulus of CO2 change, and they are very difficult to predict.

    I present summaries of all the paleoclimatic analyses of CO2 vs. climate that I could find, dating back as far as 500 million years that is accessible at:

    http://www.spaceclimate.net/Ancient.climates.and.CO2.pdf

    The results, such as they are, suggest that the rise in temperature due to doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm may be in the range 1°C to 3°C with considerable uncertainty remaining.

    • Nice article, thanks for the link

    • Fred, Your post is an accurate description of the correct way to use models. However, in lots of fields, this doesn’t happen. First, if you need tools to distinguish different sources of error. I mean this in a technical sense. You need some way (and I think this may be the biggest issue in climate models) of distinguishing numerical errors and model errors. The way to do this is to admit that there are problems, so that you can get the money to improve. If you just try to cover up the issues or insist to policy makers that things are fine, you are dooming the science to stagnation. It is a profoundlly counterproductive thing that brilliant scientists should avoid.

    • Sorry, the previous post is a reply to Fred.

      I did find your article very interesting and it looks to me like an excellent critical examination of the science.

      Thanks,

    • This is a summary of a piece I wrote over 2 years ago, one of the predictions is a temperature rise of 2 deg C over the next 12,000 years using CO2 as the thermostat
      1. The earth is heated by the energy of sunlight in a variable cycle
      2. The Atmospheric Thermal Amplifier controls the temperature and consists of the earth and some or all of its processes
      3. The control method is the carbon cycle
      4. The carbon cycle is the transfer of carbon between
      the Biosphere, Atmosphere, Ocean and Lithosphere
      5. Humans now control the carbon cycle
      6, The Climate is now more stable than it has been in at least 3.5 million years
      7. We are now the principle driving force of the climate
      8. The amplifier comes with a calibration curve, that means we can decide how hot we want the bath water

      regards
      Mike Davies

    • Donald,

      You might also want to take a look at the Hansen et al. (2008) analysis found at: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha00410c.html

      This paper analyzes the 420,00o year Antarctic Vostok ice core data comparing the CO2, CH4, sea level, and surface albedo changes do derive his empirical 3 °C per 4 W/m2 climate sensitivity from the ice core data.

      • Donald Rapp and Andy Lacis

        Well, now my weekend’s shot thanks to you two.

        Two competing and coherent cases to compare, contrast and examine.

        Bah.

      • I have a feeling the Vostok Ice Core data never broke the 300 PPM barrier because there was not a real CO2 forcing apart from the positive feedback from seawater CO2 ougassing. This then hit the climate sensitivity asymptote near 300 PPM.

        I put together the argument here:

        http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/10/vostok-ice-cores.html

        The math is surprisingly simple, but this doesn’t include the long adjustment time of CO2 and other temporal latencies.

  25. “(1) The terrestrial greenhouse effect is comprised of two distinct components: (a) the non-condensing greenhouse gases that provide the ‘radiative forcing’ that sustains the terrestrial greenhouse effect; (b) the ‘feedback component’ by water vapor and clouds that acts to amplify the radiative effect of the non-condensing greenhouse gases.”

    Highly speculative. CO2 seems to be quasi-condensing. It seems to be driven by climatic factors. If the cooling continues and gets stronger, CO2 annual change will decrease and eventually get zero and negative.

    (2)…

    Radiative forcing settled? NOT convinced.

    (3)…

    Settled? I don’t think so.

    (4)…

    Global warming is any global warming at any time scale. There is natural variability at all time scales. The most important scale for us humans is the last ~5,000 – 10,000 years. The linear trend is COOLING and according to observations (ice cores…), the trend can only continue and get more negative. Sooner or later the interglacial will change to glacial.

    (5)…

    Nonsense.

    And so on…

    • Highly speculative. CO2 seems to be quasi-condensing.

      What? Are you seeing blocks of dry ice spontaneously forming around your neighborhood?

      If the cooling continues and gets stronger, CO2 annual change will decrease and eventually get zero and negative.

      Some might but we still have this huge excess CO2 from fossil fuel emissions. Where is this supposed to go? And what exactly will cause massive cooling — a new ice age brought about from those blocks of dry ice that you think are condensing out of the atmosphere?

      I get the sense that you haven’t thought this through well.

      • WHT, that’s the reason I said QUASI-condensing. It’s not really condensing, but its behavior is very similar to the condensing gases like water vapor, only the removal time is a bit longer, but still very short. Atmospheric CO2 seems to be driven by temperature, so any disturbances in fluxes (anthro or not) are compensated by ocean/atmosphere fluxes in order to restore the temperature dependent atmospheric CO2 concentration.

      • WHT, that’s the reason I said QUASI-condensing. It’s not really condensing, but its behavior is very similar to the condensing gases like water vapor, only the removal time is a bit longer, but still very short.

        The removal is based on diffusional processes. The nature of a diffusional random walk shows a predictable long-tail temporal behavior.

        Atmospheric CO2 seems to be driven by temperature, so any disturbances in fluxes (anthro or not) are compensated by ocean/atmosphere fluxes in order to restore the temperature dependent atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        You do not seem to realize that this is a positive feedback situation (if you believe that CO2 is a GHG ) or is neutral feedback (if you believe in partial pressures). It is definitely not a compensated restoration process. Why would you believe that?

  26. Brandon Shollenberger

    Andrew Lacis, thank you for this post, and your paper. I haven’t had a chance to read the paper, but I’ll do so sometime today, and I’ll comment more afterwards. In the meantime, I want to touch on some wording issues with I know will be (and already have been) brought up. First, you say you were hailed “by some, as a newly-found hero of the climate change denier cause.” I advise avoiding the word “denier” as it is offensive to some, though I don’t think your usage here is particularly problematic. Second, you say:

    Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.

    This is one of those accusations which gets thrown around a lot, but it really just sounds like conspiritorial gibberish. Not only do you claim there is an active disinformation campaign, you claim the “dupes and minions” involved in it are a “growing multitude.” You’re going to lose a lot of people right there, and I think with good reason. Fortunately, the majority of your post is unaffected by this, so now I’ll move onto my reaction to your seven bullets.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Er, sorry for the last sentence there. I was originally intending on also posting my reaction to the seven bullet points, but I decided I wanted to wait a little while before doing so. Unfortunately, I forgot to fix that sentence when I deleted some other text.

    • Nice post, Brandon.

      Although I think that discussion about “deniers” and disinformation campaigns have their place, I think it should be largely distinct from discussions about the physics of AGW – and the discussions should be appropriately qualified.

      That said, I think that it is appropriate in this context for Andrew to discuss how his work was misappropriated to advance perspectives other than his own.

      Anyway, I look forward to you asking for more precise language when “skeptics” talk about “fraud climate scientists” advancing their “socialist agenda” via an “AGW cabal” – certainly rhetoric that sounds like “conspiratorial gibberish,” don’t you think?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        If Judith Curry hosts a guest post in which the author uses such language, you can be certain I’ll comment on it!

      • steven mosher

        Joshua wont get that

      • Actually, steven –

        I’m trying to not clutter up this thread with the usual back and forth that tends to get nowhere – but….

        I do see a valid differentiation in what Brandon wrote. Saying that he only wants to respond to “conspiratorial gibberish” when it is a lead post makes sense to me.

        But how he chooses to differentiate what he wants to respond to is different than saying that there is a vast asymmetry in the influence of tribalism or political orientation in the climate debate writ large, or in the sausage making of related policies. No doubt, certain individuals have more “isolated power” (to use a Sabermetric term) in the debate than others. So to certain groups. That, in itself, tells us nothing about the scale of varying influences within the different sides of the debate in aggregate. That’s a worth discussion, IMO – but it isn’t served well by facile assumptions.

      • That’s fair.

        I do remember a guest lead post a while back that strongly insinuated deliberate and deceptive manipulation of data by scientists writing IPCC reports – but that isn’t as broad in scope as Andrew’s statements in this post.

        There seems to me to be a fair amount of evidence of deliberate promotion of disinformation (for example, the reactions to the CERN Cloud study or the reaction to Mojib Latif’s statements about “global cooling), but the assertion of a “campaign” requires an elaboration of evidence, and the use of “dupes and minions” is unnecessary and gratuitous.

    • Van Jones learned the hard way that if you don’t want people to think you’re a truther nutcase, you don’t go around mumbling about WTC 7. These climate guys apparently haven’t learned that lesson.

  27. Brandon Shollenberger

    Could you explain just how any of those words affects any of Andrew Lacis’s points enough to merit concern, much less justify dismissing it in its entirety? I agree his post would have been better without including those, but they are just throwaway lines.

    • It is a marker, nay a measure of his bias. It explains why he can’t even imagine millenial scale solar variability.
      =================

    • Whether or not it diminishes the point of the paper, in a larger sense, it diminishes all of science when scientific papers are polluted with such emotional rubbish. How do you expect people outside of the “community” to take something like that as serious scientific advice?

      • Actually P.E., this publication will prove invaluable as a teaching tool. I will be able to show Figure 1., to the Ph.D. students and the residents and state with authority “this is what you should never do’.

      • make sure you don’t show them the paper though. Wouldn’t want them to learn anything.

      • lolwot,
        The point is to show the paper so they will learn what a bad paper looks like.

      • Everyone has a purpose in life, even if it is to be a bad example.

      • Everyone has a purpose in life, even if it is to be a bad example.

        Hockey stick, anyone?

      • steven mosher

        the point of the ploy was to engender a fight and nasty rhetoric. That’s not too hard to do. Its a lovely strategy. It goes like this.

        “You stupid twit, 2+2 =4″. Almost everyone will rise to the bait and not discuss 2+2. In the end, you stand back and complain that nobody would discuss your science when you showed up.

      • Steve, Andy is to be commended for answering questions. But his final post is just stupid and shows a lack of integrity and clear thinking.

      • Do you think that overall warming can be proved by a mean-value argument, or do you think that all the dynamics are necessary? Some suggest that all the dynamics analysis does is provide the fluctuations on the overall profile, and the greater truth lies in the average. If that is indeed the case, all these numerical accuracies in the time integration steps are not important. I am serious about this because many, many physics problems are more easily solved by overall conservation of energy and other first-order arguments.

      • My interpretation of the rationale behind climate modeling is that both are important.

        The statement that climate modeling is solving a boundary value problem is an expression of the view that the overall constraints determine the main lines of changes in climate. The essentially time accurate model is needed to get coefficients right within those main lines and to figure out more than the global average changes. The role of the time accurate models is to describe, what happens to atmospheric and ocean circulation and how clouds change. As Andy explained the task of time accurate modeling is to reach right statistical properties of climate, not right weather forecasts or history paths.

        Everybody admits that the models cannot describe clouds properly, but are forced to use parameterizations for them, which brings always the question of validity of the parameterization, when the situation is new. All submodels have their own problems, and we have the problems of discretization, but even with all these problems the use of GCM type models brings improvements to what can be learned from overall constraints alone.

        Those results are likely to be most reliable that are least sensitive to the details of the models and thus most completely determined by the overall constraints. Unfortunately very few properties of the real Earth system fall to those, where details of the models make little difference.

        We have artificial concepts that are defined to allow for reliable calculation, such as radiative forcing directly caused by a specific change and the related non-feedback sensitivity, but these concepts are not properties of the real Earth system in the sense that they could be directly observed even in principle, because they are defined to be only a part of a real observable variable.

        To me the Science paper discussed in this thread is a comment of certain artificial concepts. Many of them would be directly observable in principle, but only in principle, because we cannot experiment with the total removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. I do believe that much of what the paper describes is not particularly model dependent, when looked semiquantitatively. I’m fully confident that removal of all noncondensible GHG’s would lead to a drop in temperature that’s not much less than presented in the paper, but it’s quite possible that even the equator would get colder than the final point of the model calculation. It’s quite possible that the amount of moisture in the atmosphere would be reduced more and the clouds might get thinner.

        I don’t think that the model is reliable at that level, but the overall change in the global temperature is one of those things that can, indeed, be estimated based on overall constraints, and they confirm that the model cannot be far from truth on that. What H2O remains in the atmosphere will be too little to maintain a significantly stronger GHE than what the model contains. The largest uncertainty concerns the albedo of the surface. It might get so high that the temperatures would drop even more. Uncertainties in the clouds are less essential, because clouds contribute both to the albedo and to the GHE. As the paper explains, the changes in cloudiness may speed up the change, but the clouds are not likely to affect strongly the ultimate average surface temperature.

        While the paper tells intellectually interesting results on the effects of removal of GHG’s, it doesn’t add anything to our understanding on the influence of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. (By our I refer to people, who believe in the main stream basic understanding of the atmosphere, but not necessarily to the main stream estimates of climate sensitivity).

      • As Andy explained the task of time accurate modeling is to reach right statistical properties of climate, not right weather forecasts or history paths.

        I think this is the salient point. The dynamic models really provide the extra insight necessary to fully characterize the system. If the dynamics said that all the excess CO2 would spontaneously cluster around the poles where it would really change the theory, then that would be one thing. But if the simulations suggest that CO2 would mix uniformly, then you use this information to simplify the solution.

        Same goes for clouds. The results of the simulations should be that they give us ideas for statistical distributions such that we can use these for BVA and MVA solutions.

        I am only suggesting this point-of-view because David Young’s views of numerical stability are likely very valid, but perhaps misdirected when we consider how far we can go with an alternative statistical mechanical solution. I am thinking that someday it will become possible to work completely more with the concepts of superstatistics to average out all the dynamics.

      • WHT

        Be careful with the term superstatistics, lest someone accuse you of using numbers that only exist in computers to draw conclusions about Mathematics.

        Imagine the uproar, should it be discovered your Mathematics were not grounded on observations taken from beaker and plumbline, test tube and thermometer.

        Why, no one would be able to rely on Mathematics ever again!

        There’d be accusations of trigonometric fraud, actuaries put on trial for treason, whole blogs dedicated to ferreting out the errors of differential equations, and copious new proofs of the squaring of the cube, with books published by groups of valiant Pi slayers.

      • Bart, No problem, I get the intent of your jibes.
        I am of the school of playing along with the uncertainty and if we are uncertain about the numbers, then perhaps nature is as well. The physicist Jaynes used this approach when he devised the maximum entropy strategy, which is very closely aligned with Christian Beck’s idea of superstatistics. It will take awhile to determine what the fundamental distinctions are between the approaches.

      • WHT

        What you say makes good sense.

        I’m interested in hearing more, and think it likely to be productive.

      • Web, let me just argue with you a little here.

        1. Look at Paul Williams example of the Lorentz attractor. Numerical errors can yield totally wrong long term statistics.

        2. There are bifurcation points in the system. If you are on the wrong trajectory, you will totally miss a point where the complete character of the statistics changes.

        3. The strength and complexity of attractors for the Navier-Stokes equations are unknown. There is some theory in Temam’s book but its of no pracitical value. Also, the attractor can be very weak so that errors build up and get you into a totally wrong area.

        Just to claim that “the long term behaviour looks reasonable” is of no scientific value. You need validation that is quantatative and independent of numerical errors.

      • David,
        I think that the Lorentz attractor has been overemphasized far too much. When the system is complex and has also a lot of stochasticity, the attractors tend to smoothen out, but something similar may remain. By something similar I mean all kind of quasistationary modes like circulation patterns that are formed, live for a considerable time and disappear or change form. Thus I don’t dismiss the significance of such phenomena, while the similarity with the original attractor is limited. Furthermore a model may be fully deterministic and simple enough to have purer cases of attractor than the real physical system.

        The above covers largely also the bifurcation points.

        One difficulty in responding to your critique seems to be that full answers are very complex or actually lacking. The issues are known, some thought has certainly been given to all of them and very much thought and research to some of them, but the answers are not straightforward. Building models means always making compromises of many types. Some of the are for reasons of performance, but many are deeper in the structure of the methods.

        Different methods of discretization and time stepping have all their strengths and weaknesses. Making compromises means an attempt to avoid faults that influence the outcome most severely, while it may mean that some other weaknesses must be accepted. Every method of discretization creates some deviations from the continuous equations. Some of the essential conservation laws are violated by the removal of higher order terms, but are so essential that they must be reinstated by some global corrections. Some methods are inherently (more) stable, but they may introduce larger errors in some problems.

        I share with you the wish of gaining better understanding on, how the climate modelers have solved the problems. I wish to know, why they have made the specific choices, and how they have estimated the severity of the remaining issues. As I mentioned, I bought and read one book on the models. As is to be expected, an introductory book didn’t answer at all all the questions I had in mind, but I didn’t conclude that the modelers were ignorant on issues not discussed in the book.

        I don’t think it’s possible to get simple answers to all questions of methodology, because the issues are too complex for that and because compromises have been made to make any simple answer wrong. You may get some good answers by your approach of contesting the modelers, but what’s really needed is a new type of systematic presentation of the whole field of climate modeling. There have been some proposals of that nature in these threads like this one from John Carperter.. I hope that a group of modelers would join forces to create and maintain such a description at a level suitable for a reasonably wide audience of people with fair knowledge on modeling physical systems, but not expert climate modelers.

    • I’m not entirely sure from the timestamp whether that was intended to be a reply to my comment shown as 6.13 but actually made at 11.13pm UK time.

      Assuming that it was, I think it’s quite odd to say that his explanation of the whole reason why he wrote the paper can be dismissed as “throwaway lines”.

      If a scientist’s reason for writing a paper is based on an obviously false premise – why would anything in it be worth reading?

    • Why would a scientist put throwaway lines in a paper?

      Andrew

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Because, scientists, like most people, tend not to be the best of writers. It’s easy to let irrelevant things slip into what you write, especially when there is an emotional involvement.

      • “It’s easy to let irrelevant things slip into what you write, especially when there is an emotional involvement”

        Interesting that readers have the burden of figuring put what in climate science papers is relevant and what is irrelevant filler. Normally it would be up to the writer to do that kind of exercise(to include only what is relevant). Evidently, climate scientists should go back to high school and learn how to write papers.

        Andrew

      • BA,
        You make a great point.
        We skeptics, after being insulted by a performance of infantile conspiratorial insults, are not only supposed to overlook the complete lack of technical content, ignore the insults, but also wade through the post and pull out the nuggest of deep thought hidden in the text.
        Climate science, as currently obsessed with AGW, is a very special science, as Lysenkoism and Eugenics were special.

      • Thank you. I don’t understand the tolerance and excuse for something that would never be tolerated or excused in any other professional-level job. If an engineer or accountant went off on a pontification tangent like that in a report, the elders would be very displeased. Are there any elders in the climate science tribe? It almost reminds me of that Star Trek episode where there was a planet with nobody but kids.

      • Striling English

        Lacis is an Elder of Climatology.

        Does this increase or decrease your confidence in their work?

        For me, it makes the matra ‘Trust Us, We’re Climate Scientists’ even more of a laugh.

        But I guess Lacis’s pathetic gibes show that instead of trying to persuade the uncommitted that he is right, he is reduced to attemtping to keep his supportrs onside. When you have a very poor case, distartcing attention from it by attacjking you renemies is an old – and utimately doomed – tactic. Since Climategate it is noticeable that the rhetoric has changed from the Muhammad Ali style –

        ‘we will win, we are Masters of the Universe and we have Right on our side’

        to the loser’s

        ‘see – they barely scratched me that time. Honest it didn’t hurt much . And you wouldn’t let an ugly lot like them over there beat me would you chaps? Only another fourteen long long rounds to go…..’

      • On a fellowship at Lockheed-Martin a few years ago we had a chance to ask LM engineering managers what they needed in employees. “Please God,” one said, “send us engineers who can write.”

      • Brandon,

        Based on my graduate school experience, my professors had an excellent grasp of the English language and a well honed ability to communicate in writing. Unlike most of my undergrad classes, these professors regularly marked up papers and exams with regard to grammer and spelling.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        timg56, first, I just have to say there is a degree of humor in you having typed “grammer.” Thanks for making me chuckle.

        Second, I won’t disagree with you about professors (does Andrew Lacis actually teach?) being good with regard to grammar and spelling. However, understanding the English language doesn’t make one a great writer. There are all sorts of things involved in being a great writer which many professors don’t have (and probably have never had a reason to develop). For just one example, think about how many professors are long-winded.

      • Brandon,

        As you can surmise, I saw my fair share of red ink. In defense, I finally lost the personal penchant for carefully proof reading my comments on blogs a couple of years ago.

        I think the distinction you are trying to make – between scientists who teach and those who don’t – having any meaningful impact on the ability to write is a false construct. Both subsets have the necessity to publish and to apply for grants. Unless I have a completely skewed understanding of what skill set is needed for performing these tasks, I would argue that the burden of proof any distinction exists would be on you. Referring to long-winded professors falls short of that.

        I volunteer as a mentor with and on the board of an educational non-profit. One that focuses on science. It has been my experience that a majority of the students I have worked with (1st grade through 12th) would be able to grasp the difference between a science experiment and a model. Which is why I also don’t quite understand when you try to argue they are basically the same as a response to those folks (myself included) who have a degree of doubt concerning outcomes that are based solely on modeling and even more so when the outcomes are extrapolations of possible effects of models.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        tim56, I’m not trying to make a distinction between between scientists who teach and those who don’t. I only asked that question because I know next to nothing about Andrew Lacis, so I was curious if you were referring to professors because you knew he taught.

        Anyway, if you honestly think Andrew Lacis is incapable of including comments like the one he did about “dupes” and “minions” due to a combination of bad writing and emotional interference, simply because he’s a scientist, I don’t think there’s any way we’ll come to an agreement. Since that’s the extent of our disagreement, I’m not sure what more there is to say.

        As for the issue about whether or not computer models can be used for experiments, you and I haven’t said anything to each other about that issue before, so I’m not sure why you brought it up here. However, if you want my view on that issue, I think it’s best summarized here.

      • Brandon,

        Whether or not Dr Lacis teaches in immaterial. I referred to my experience with my professors because in addition to teaching, they engage in the same sort of scientific research as Dr. Lacis. The purpose of that statement was to refute your claim that scientists are poor writers. I presented evidence (granted, anecdotal evidence) to the contrary.

        I don’t think it is my place to assume or assert anything about Dr. Lacis. I do not know the man. However I do know that when a professional scientist is posting on a topic that he is supposedly an expert on and in a public forum, the display of “emotional interference” or poor writing skills are not something I would expect. Is it possible this is in fact what has occured? Yes. Is it a good sign? I don’t think so.

        I personally can’t get too worked up about the name calling, as some people do. If someone like Dr Lacis wants to label me as a denier or denialist, trust me, I’m not going to lose any sleep. The reason I won’t is because I was taught at a very early age to ignore name calling (but watch out for those sticks and stones). The other lesson I was taught was that people who engage in name calling are at best juvenile and likely are afraid of being on the losing side of an argument. (BTW – thanks Mom and Dad). So tell me, just how much credence should the lay person give to someone who exhibits at least one of the following traits:
        – has poor writing skills
        – is subject to emotional interference which clouds his judgement
        – resorts to name calling and labeling

      • “Whether or not Dr Lacis teaches in immaterial. ”

        He just did.

      • “Whether or not Dr Lacis teaches in immaterial. ”

        He just did.

        …and it was immaterial.

        Max

      • Did you mean grammar and speling?

      • Mark,

        Did you think I was referring to my mother’s mother?

    • It is not a matter of dismissing his claims as conjectures, it is a matter of dismissing his claims as certainties. It is incredible that someone would post such certainty claims here.

      • I am not arguing the physics of Andy’s claim, just the epistemology. It is the certainty that makes his claims wildly exaggerated. I have no quarrel with conjecture.

      • David Wojick

        I’m not sure I follow.

        Do you mean to say Dr. Lacis is perfectly correct, but too sure of himself?

        Or that you know you must argue with anyone too sure of himself on principle, but do not care to consider the subject matter of what they say before certainty they express is judged by you on no foundation whatsoever?

        Or that your studies have established a foundation for determining on pure epistemology the degree of exaggeration?

        It seems if someone were making Dr. Lacis’ claims with less evidence than he has offered of data collection and rational analyses, your epistemological claims might have merit.

        Which poor me, I have to argue the physics of with many sources before I could conclude of Dr. Lacis, being neither omniscient nor possessed of your secret epistemology formula.

        I have yet to argue epistemology of wild exaggeration, however as you have provided this ample example, I’d be pleased to hear out your certain-to-be entertaining conjectures on the topic.

      • Bart R, it is quite simple. My field is the logic of complex issues and I have studied the climate debate for 19 years. Dr. Lacis is asserting as known what is in fact highly controversial. Thus the certainty implied is false. His statements are actually conjectures. As such they may or may be true, but the implied certainty is certainly false.

      • Scientific language provides a lot of terminology that one is supposed to use to express limited degrees of confidence. Terms like “suggests”, “seems”, “appears”, “prepared to believe”, etc. Dr. Lacis chooses not to use these epistemic modifiers, so he winds up expressing a false degree of confidence. False confidence is one of the great fallacies of the AGW movement. This has little to do with the ultimate truth of his claims. It is akin to the “likely” etc., language issues with the IPCC, which is a major focus of the blog.

      • David Wojick

        Oddly, I’ve worked in applied logic in complex issues for quite some time — indeed, I’ve applied your techniques at times — and have watched the climate debate for as long as you have studied it.

        I’m familiar with what the words “asserting”, “known”, “controversial”, “certainty”, “implied”, “false”, “statements”, “conjectures”, and “true” mean both as generally accepted and technically.

        However, at least some of the ways you use these words must substantially differ from the definitions I’ve encountered before now.

        While Dr. Lacis makes some assertions, he is for the most part assiduous about providing evidentiary and theoretical support either directly or by reference.

        These supporting arguments and evidence take Andy Lacis’ expressions — for the most part — from mere assertion or claim into the realm of supported and generally accepted knowledge, about which anyone might express the utmost degree of confidence, conventionally.

        Where there is controversy about what Dr. Lacis proves, the description ‘highly’ is ambiguous. Among some who eschew logic, scientific method, reason, careful analyses and honesty, it is easy to observe a high degree of agitation associated with what Andy Lacis says; among those who apply logic, the scientific method, reason, care in analysis of the subject (and not of how it is said), and are honest, the degree of controversy is observably low to moderate. You can certainly see this correlation as a dominant trend using the very methodologies you have developed.

        Implied certainty, while perhaps a social phenomenon, is not a mathematical one.

        I look at the datasets, and the metadata tells me what confidence interval is appropriate to them, thereby limiting the certainty.

        I think for myself about the complexity of the systems under examination, and the properties of the systems further limit the certainty.

        How any scientist says what he says may be a function of taste for brevity and economy of expression, which will always sound more certain to those who do not take the care to examine the underlying supports for the claims.

        Take, for example, what you say. You imply by the admirable economy of expression you use (such as “certainly false”) an absolute degree of certainty.

        Yet when I open up the logic of what you say, and look specifically at the source data (ie this thread), the complexity of the process of reading scientific writings, and the superficial process you claim to have used, I find your implied certainty entirely unwarranted, and by far greater margin than might be concluded of Dr. Lacis.

      • Bart R, interesting argument. My point is that most of what Andy claims as certain is in fact highly debatable. My evidence is empirical, namely observing the debate, including this blog. Your claim is basically that my evidence is no good because the people I observe (including here) are either unscientific, illogical, irrational or dishonest. Good luck with that claim. I don’t suppose you have any evidence to support it.

        Also I trust you realize that you are insulting most of the people here. Have you classified us according to your taxonomy of failures? Where do I fall on your list?

      • David Wojick

        I’d have expected I passed the point of mere insult to ‘most’ (?) people here long ago by expressing doubt about their logic, rationale, scientific rigor or honesty, and both they and I are inured to the queasy social footing this affords us. Indeed, when I make such statements, I generally support the claims with substantive reasoning, too glad to point out the logical fallacy, factual error, lack of support, weaknesses of citations, contradictions, or blatant duplicity in detail and with explicit commentary.

        What’s more, I do it as readily to my own postings, (a dozen or more discarded for every heavily-revised remark I do make), and about others for whom I have the utmost regard and general agreement, where their postings appear to warrant.

        The distinction, where I get adequate reply, I learn something of the science. Where I get just more of the same, I learn something of the quality of my correspondent.

        You’ve taken the rather indefensible position that you can pass scientific-sounding pronouncements on scientific writings merely by the tone the writer has taken. I’ve counted backwards and forwards postings with similar marks of certainty to what you have described, and see no objection by you in those threads, so must conclude bias not to do with tone but with content.. which you refuse to speak to.

        I’d have to classify that as dishonest.

      • Bart R,
        That is not dishonest at all.
        Lacis is deceptive in his approach and his writing style demonstrates just that. If he had a solid argument he would not use deception.
        People develop a good nose for bs.
        Lacis’ post and his prior work smell like bs.

      • Bart R @ October 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

        You lost me months ago: here to here.

      • huxley

        For ten months (an eternity in the blogosphere) you have grudge-nursingly so cherished my every syllable?

        Well, if ever there were evidence of holding the low ethical ground, you’re establishing it.

        Yes, I stand by what I have said, with obviously amendments from having made efforts to grow and learn in the time since I posted those statements.

        Good to see you haven’t changed.

      • That’s your wild claim. support it. lets go to the actual text you are complaining about and quit waving your arms

      • ‘solar forcing is cyclical and small’.
        =================

      • That’s in response to moshe’s call for text.
        ================

      • Thanks Kim. Yes, “solar forcing is cyclical and small” is an obvious example of false confidence, a claim to know that is simply ridiculous. The nature of solar forcing is one of the greatest known unknowns, but only one.

        There are at least dozens of lines like this in Andy’s post, perhaps over 100. Just ask how many of these supposedly certain statements have been debated here in the past year? I do not intend to take the time to list them, unless someone wants to organize a contest, to see who can find the most. That would be fun.

        By coincidence (or not), these ridiculous confidence claims are similar to what I long ago termed the “RC fallacy,” because it is endemic at RealClimate, namely taking speculation to be established fact. It is the ‘settled science’ hoax writ out line by line.

      • Knowing the exact density of the atmosphere would be another.

  28. Thanks for the contribution Andy. There really are about 6 different topics here.

  29. John Carpenter

    Andrew,

    Thanks for contributing here, your knowledge of climate models and their inner workings would be of great interest to me and many others here. Many of us here do embrace the accepted physics of radiative transfer theory and the role of CO2 as a green house gas. What many of us have trouble accepting are the results of model ‘experiments’ as true and accurate predictions of the future. Specifically for me, this comes from, primarily, the lack of understanding of how the models are constructed. What I would find much more informative than a re-hash on your paper of one year ago would be a tutorial on how the mechanics of the GISS ModelE works. I have visited the NASA site that describes the model and many details of the subroutines etc… but there is a ‘big’ picture image missing. A master diagram showing how the pieces of the model go together, interact and where the input data comes from and is used within the model and how the output is generated and shared within the model. Such an explanation would be enlightening and would generate, IMO, a far more interesting discussion of the science. If such a description is already available, point me in the right direction as I have not found one yet.

    • John,

      A very good question, but also one that does not have a simple and short answer. How do the mechanics of the GISS ModelE work?

      A trite but not very useful answer would be to say that it is all spelled out the ModelE FORTRAN code which is available from the GISS web page. It is not encrypted in any way, but it is totally opaque. Even someone specifically trained in writing GCM code would be hard pressed to figure out what precisely is being done.

      An outline of what the model is doing is described in the published model papers: e.g., Schmidt et al. (2006) for GISS ModelE http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/sc05200y.html
      Also, the early Hansen et al. (1983) Model I & Model II http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha05900x.html
      All available from the GISS web page. A quick look at the papers gives an idea as to what quantities are being calculated, and how the basic approach for doing so is formulated.

      Basically, the GCM is attempting to model ‘all relevant’ climate processes in terms of basic physics relationships. The global surface is set up as a grid with several dozen vertical layers to resolve the atmospheric temperature structure. At each grid box all significant climate variables (temperature, water vapor, winds, clouds, aerosols, greenhouse gases, etc.) are defined. The model is imparted with its sidereal rotation rate and time marched forward with, say, 30-minute time steps during which all of the climate variables get updated according to the local meteorological conditions.

      The model consists of specialized modules. For example, the surface module updates the ground surface properties (temperature, soil wetness, snow accumulation, water runoff, evaporation, surface albedo, etc.). The cloud module checks the temperature, humidity, stability, and wind profiles to see if the meteorological conditions are consistent for generating clouds, and if so, at what height, how thick, what particle size, are they going to be liquid water or ice. There is a hydrodynamics module for computing winds and for transporting water vapor horizontally and vertically. There is also a planetary boundary layer module that evaluates the turbulent transport of heat and water vapor from the ground surface into the atmosphere. The ocean model is in a sense a module parallel to that of the atmosphere in treating the transports of heat, salinity, and water/ice. All of these modules are developed, tested, and validated off-line against available observational data. The total ModelE FORTRAN code is something close to 500,000 lines of code, although most of that is for diagnostic purposes to keep track and manage the model generated output of all of the climate variables.

      My responsibility in ModelE is the radiation module. It is more than 15,000 lines of code. The job of the radiation module is to calculate the solar heating rate profiles and the thermal cooling rate profiles, including the energy deposition at the ground surface, as well as the energy balance at the top of the atmosphere for the specified climate variable distribution at each grid box. The atmospheric heating and cooling rates are then passed back to the atmosphere structure module that calculates how much the surface and atmospheric temperatures would change during the 30-minute times step given the radiative heating and cooling rates. And so an updated atmospheric structure is sent back again to all of the different modules to repeat the cycle all over again.

      • Andy, This looks like a good summary but it raises more questions for me than it answers.

        1. The first question is how are all the modules linked. Apparently some terms are done implicitly and other explicitly. Is there ever a point where the residuals for all the models is small? How is this measured and validated?

        2. Is the time stepping algorithm dissipative like the Robert Asselim filter? If so, your dissipation could easily swamp the signal you are trying to compute. Worse yet, the model might appear to be “stable” but that stability might be covering up important dynamics that are simply lost.

        3. Is there any error control in determining time step and grid spacing?

        4. Sounds like a ton of subgrid models. How are these calibrated? Are they dissipative. If so, is the dissipation affecting the overall dynamics. This might be easy to test. Generally subgrid models of turbulence are too dissipative and the result is answers that are a lot worse than one would expect based on the literature.

        5. How do you deal with sound waves which are present in the Navier-Stokes equations but have time scales much shorter than your 30 minute time step.

        6. Generally, how do you validate these things? Are there any rigorous simple cases where the answers are known or is it just “the results look reasonable?”

        7. You are aware that finite differences are the best technology from the 1950’s and that far better methods are available such as finite elements and backward differentiation schemes.

        8. How sensitive are the results to parameters? Just looking at the AR4 and early AR5 simulations, it looks as if the different climate models give a wide range of answers. Any attempt to track this down and understand the origin of the differences?

        9. Since the scientific understanding of clouds and aerosols is low, how do you validate your subgrid models for these things?

        10. How can you possibly get away with such a small number of points in the vertical direction? Convection is quite important in the tropics and is quite complex. Do you just sweep this all up into a subgrid model too?

        11. Have you done systematic tests using different time steps such as has been done by Paul Williams? Have you ever considered any scheme that is better than 2nd order accurate? You know there can be huge advantages to this as well as using modern (1970’s vintage) methods for choosing time step sizes and varying the order of the scheme.

        12. What is done to control the error in time from accumulating? Do you use error per step or error per unit step, or none of these?

        13. What is your response to the work of Paul Williams who has shown the critical importance of better numerical methods in climate models, not just for local error (which everyone acknowledges is large) but for the time averaged properties and “patterns” that are claimed to be meaningful and repeatable.

        14. I’m assuming that there is a coupled ocean model. The ocean is incompressible, whereas the atmosphere is compressible. This would seem to me to require different numerical methods for the two. How do you handle the different time scales for pressure waves? it surely must make the system very stiff.

        If you don’t have a strong handle on numerical error, parameter estimation for the many subgrid models you have is really little better than guessing. At least for turbulence models canonical simple cases where there are analytic solutions are used to calibrate the models so there is some expectation of predictive capability in new situations. Even then the results are not very good. If we can’t even model simple boundary layer turbulence, how can we expect to model clouds and other complex processes?

        Basically, looking at the AR4 and AR5 results which I’m assuming are the result of years of tuning and running models and looking at results, it looks obvious that there are large errors and discrepancies. What is the plan to scientifically resolve these issues? Just running models and taking votes is not scientific in my book.

        In short, what I have seen so far about how models are validated and parameters determined is not very convincing. I used to think that CFD was bad for its reliance on “colorful fluid dynamics.” I’d be curious to know what quantative information you use to track what seems to me to be scores of sources of model and numerical errors in such a complex computer code as you are describing here.

        David Young

      • David,
        I mention in my message below a book that answers some of your questions, but an introductory book of 350 pages is not nearly detailed enough to answer all or to answer any of them in full detail.

        One thing that becomes very clear is that the modeling community is very well aware of the issues that you have brought up. They have not been able to resolve all issues, but that’s not due to not being aware of them. You have proposed some specific approaches, which are not always used, but there are other reasons for that than not knowing or not caring. Without knowing much about the field, I’m sure that some of the reasons are not very good, while the choices made are in most cases well justified.

        I just pick some sentences from the book of Washington and Parkinson (end of chapter on numerical methods, p. 191):

        The solving of the dynamics and physical processes locally on a node has special advantages compared to the conventional global spectral method. In the field of oceanography, the finite element method allows for improved resolution in parts of the ocean where strong gradients or other smaller scale features exist. There are, however, some limitations that have not been fully resolved. For instance, using the semi-implicit time stepping method requires global sums which may still limit this method even on parallel computers.

      • Yes, yes. They are just saying that for ocean modeling its incompressible and so to conserve mass you need to solve a Poisson equation at each time step. The POINT is that the Newton Krylov Schwarz is parallel and much faster than older point or line relaxation methods. We are talking about orders of magnitude here. These differences are CRITICAL when computer resources limit resolution and keep numerical errors high.

        However, the language they use is rather odd and not the standard terminology. Another red flag!!

      • Another thing. I want to hear a real climate scientist explain to me why they use the overly dissipative leapfrog scheme with this Robert-Asselin filter. My problem here is that even Andy just says that he can’t answer my questions. OK, that’s fine, he does radiation models. Please, tell me who to contact. It’s clearly not Schmidt either. Has anyone heard of Newton Krylov Schwarz?

        This is not just a question of numerical errors, it is a question of methods that open up whole new possibilities, like solving inverse problems using numerical optimization to estimate parameters. This could be a breakthrough, not just a small improvement. You cannot do this with explicit methods, its just not possible. You resort to trial and error and then that’s why you are short of computer power, which is why you use coarser grids, and with dissipative methods, you get wrong answers. It happens in computational physics all the time.

      • David,
        I’m on your side in the wish of getting more specifics from the modelers themselves, but I find your aggressive and insulting way of writing to them very counterproductive in getting that wish fulfilled. On that point I agree with dhogaza.

      • OK, point taken. Sometimes its tempting to generate a little heat. It also gets frustrating when dealing with the peanut gallery. I’m not going to do that anymore. I invested a lot of time in explaining some very detailed science, and the response was non technical. I won’t go through the things that were annoying at RC. D’Hog is particularaly guilty of taking statements out of context and of having no feeling for tongue in cheek comments. He is also totally ignorant of the technical issues and is very defensive.

        However, forgetting about issues of “tone,” RC is often insulting to other scientists and even the scientists there often engage in name calling. The substance is that there seems to me to be nothing that addresses the issues of numerical errors that anyone could cite for me. The only thing is Paul Williams. If I could get a name of someone who has written a paper on the subject, that would be ideal. My goal here really is to get them to pay attention and I’m working on that in some other more productive ways. RC is a not in my opinion a forum for serious discussion of science, its a forum for the team to educate journalists and members of the peanut gallery about the party line. Now that I know that, I will ignore them.

      • David,

        You make some good points. There is a whole science out there on how best to do climate model numerics. At the core of the problem, even though current computer speed and memory are nothing short of impressive, is the fact that computer speed and memory are still very much finite and optimizations have to be made depending on the computer resources available for the computation problem that is to be addressed.

        This is illustrated by the clear distinction that exists between weather and climate models. Weather is an initial value problem where the meteorology representing the current wind, temperature, and humidity distributions needs to be accurately projected for the next several days. It matters a great deal if the storm hits New Jersey on Tuesday morning, or misses it altogether. A climate model, on the other hand, is a boundary value problem and could care less when or where the storm hit, as long as the number of storms per unit area was approximately of the right order. Thus a weather model would not want to unnecessarily waste computing time on model ‘physics’ such as radiation, when it should be concentrating on atmospheric dynamics, while a climate model would be doing just the opposite.

        I work on modeling radiation, there are other guys working on model dynamics and numerics. They worry about things like forward and backward leapfrog schemes, second and fourth order differencing schemes, Kelvin, Rossby, and gravity waves – stuff that I try to stay clear of. Basically, I am aware that the model differencing schemes are specifically designed to conserve, mass, energy, linear and angular momentum, and vorticity. Some model numerics are computer hardware specific, depending on whether the computer arithmetic truncates, or rounds off their numbers.

        There is a desire to have as high a horizontal resolution as possible, but this is constrained by the time step required to avoid instability. Problems also arise in the polar regions for models that use a lat-lon spatial grid, requiring noise filters to eliminate spurious oscillations. To address this problem, a number of modeling groups are testing and using approaches such as the cube-sphere representation. Basically, the optimum model resolution and time step selection is made empirically to get the best speed performance while keeping at bay undesirable diffusivity, instability, and other non-physical behavior.

        The GISS ModelE supports a tracer capability where the global dispersion of local pollution or chemical isotopes can be studied in detail. This capability is also important for atmospheric chemistry and aerosol studies where the emission sources are localized and non-uniformly distributed.

        One reason to separate the global climate change problem into the two components of (1) global warming, and (2) natural variability is to recognize that the model analysis of these two components has different modeling requirements. For global warming, the GHG forcing is globally uniform, and the modeling goal emphasis is on global energy balance and global temperature change. For this purpose, coarser model resolution is adequate since the advective transports of energy (latent and sensible heat, geopotential energy), which are an order of magnitude larger than the radiative terms, must by definition globally add to zero. Since the global energy balance and the greenhouse effect are all radiative quantities, the emphasis then is on assuring the accuracy of the radiation modeling.

        The natural variability component, which includes the unforced local, regional, and interannual climate changes is a more difficult problem to address, and requires higher model spatial resolution and greater care in dealing with horizontal enrgy transports and conversions.

      • Andy, I really appreciate your responses and coming here to reply. It does make me respect you. Perhaps I just need to educate myself. However, the feel I get from the literature is the same feel I get from NASA CFD codes, viz., using numerics that is very unreliable but encrusted with a ton of “filters”, “variable dampings”, etc.

        I am pleased to hear that mass, momentum, and energy are conserved discretely. I however know that the leapfrog scheme is not very good technology. What raises a further red flag is that when provided with really good references written by top people in numerical methods, the responses are all on issues that I would call “physics” issues, and not on the numerics. Worse yet, it gets personal very fast at RC (I know not your fault). If you could point me to the most mathematical person on your team, I could form a better opinion just by emailing him. I promise not to take much of his time.

        Or another thing would be to try to convince me that Paul Williams is overlooking something. His video is quite convincing that there is a problem and it looks pretty serious to me anyway.

        Have you done systematic time step studies? Have you done grid refinement studies? If you use the computer models to tune parameters for the subgrid models, it becomes critical to control numerical error or else the tuned parameters will only work in the code you used with its time step and grids.

        David Young

      • Sorry to drone on, but just a very succinct question that I’ve asked at least 20 times in the last 2 weeks. If the scientific understanding of clouds and aerosols is low and there are large error bars on the forcings involved, how is it possible that there is not a large error bar on the sensitivity you are calculating? If the system is so sensitive to CO2 forcings, it must be also sensitive to these forcings, nes pas? Particularly after the CERN experiments, one must also place a big error bar on the solar forcing it would seem to me until we do a lot of further research.

      • David,

        I checked the Schmidt et al (2006) paper to see what we say about dynamics. Apparently, “Tracers, including heat and humidity, are advected using the highly nondiffusive Quadratic Upstream Scheme (QUS; Prather 1986), which keep track of nine subgrid-scale moments as well as eh mean within each gridbox.”

        People do keep working on various different methods, and we do from time to time test somebody’s new and highly touted scheme. Changing model dynamics is a fairly time consuming task, and few papers get published on model numerical methodologies, unless they happen to show some dramatic improvement.

        Basically, it is the ‘proof-in-the-pudding’ approach. If the climatic variable fields and distributions look good, the dynamics scheme is taken to be adequate. If not, changes and corrections need to be made.

      • I appreciate the proof is in the pudding approach. Just saying there are modern methods for error control that are more expensive but very effective, such as adjoint methods.

      • Andy, Something you said that was revealing was about the inadequacies of the computing speed and memory and that a lot of decisions were based on these issues. I would caution you that this can become a POSITIVE feedback on numerical error. You use a poor scheme like leapfrog with RA filter because its (just guessing) 20% faster and that leads to errors that propagate in time, so you introduce yet more filters, ad hoc corrections, or even worse changes to your subgrid model parameters to get “reasonable” results. I’m not saying you are doing this, but I’ve seen it so many times. It’s not science. You are better off FIRST URGENTLY getting rigorous control on numerical error. Then, you can work on the parameterizations, etc. Also in a problem where the subgrid processes are VASTLY complex, it becomes even more critical because I suspect the parameterizations are critical to any kind of reasonable accuracy. Anyway, I humbly submit it for your consideration!!

      • David,
        Here’s what I understand in response to your points. There is a f90tohtml presentation of the code here, which makes navigation a lot easier.

        1. “The first question is how are all the modules linked. “
        There is an extensive diagnostics section, which seems to compute many residuals. It is called from the main routine. Look for the comment
        C**** WRITE SUB-DAILY DIAGNOSTICS EVERY NSUBDD hours
        I don’t know what NSUBDD is, but they say it is sub daily – ie at least once every 50 steps.

        2. “Is the time stepping algorithm dissipative”
        Leap-frogging is well studied and its dissipativeness analysed. As Andy says they use nine moment schemes with QUS for heat and humidity that they want to advect without dissipation.

        3.Is there any error control in determining time step and grid spacing?
        There is a subroutine QDYNAM which tracks the Courant limits.

        5. How do you deal with sound waves which are present in the Navier-Stokes equations but have time scales much shorter than your 30 minute time step.

        It isn’t much shorter, and I think they resolve them. The smallest horizontal grid I saw mentioned was 2° or about 220 km – about 10 min at 330 m/s. They use eighth order Shapiro filtering, which might damp out the wavelengths otherwise likely to be magnified. They use Arakawa-B staggered P-V grids, which might also help to bridge the gap.

        “6. Generally, how do you validate these things?”
        There is a big section (5. Evaluation, pp 168-184) in the 2006 Schmidt et al paper. Check it out.

        “7. You are aware that finite differences are the best technology from the 1950’s and that far better methods are available such as finite elements and backward differentiation schemes.”

        No-one would use finite elements on a problem with an essentially uniform hexahedral grid. Finite difference is still the fastest.

        “10. How can you possibly get away with such a small number of points in the vertical direction? Convection is quite important in the tropics and is quite complex. Do you just sweep this all up into a subgrid model too?”

        GCM’s don’t attempt to resolve convection. There is no vertical momentum equation. From the GISS documentation:
        “The moist convection routine is a plume based model (Yao and Del Genio, 1995) that incorporates entraining and non-entraining plumes, downdrafts (which can also entrain environmental air), subsidence (using the quadratic upstream scheme).”

        “14. I’m assuming that there is a coupled ocean model. The ocean is incompressible, whereas the atmosphere is compressible.”
        Mach numbers in the atmosphere are low. Again, there is no vertical momentum equation, so one doesn’t have to worry about how it is transferred across a boundary.

      • Ok, Nick. I appreciate your research on these questions.

        2. Leapfrog scheme is not OK. You need the RA filter which is quite dissipative and gets more so for bigger time steps. Analyzed shanalyzed, its only relevant if you use the analysis to control step size (see 3)

        3. The Courant Friedrichs Levy condition tells you the maximum time step for numerical stability, it tells you nothing about accuracy. That has to be looked at separately. Generally, for implicit methods you don’t have to worry about the CFL condition, one of the reasons people use them.

        5. Yea, I don’t know these filters. With good modern methods you don’t need to filter out spurious modes or anything else, the scheme is accurate and stable. This is a red flag for me.

        6. I read this section. Unless I missed something, its just comparing to data and has nothing to do with numerical validation. Given how noisy the data surely is, it might be more meaningful to validate against analytic solutions in simpler situations, such as the Taylor and Wavy vortices in the Taylor column problem. At least here you know quite precisely what the right answer is.

        7. I know, computer speed often keeps people from using better methods. The thing about the FEM is that you can easily do solution adaptive grid refinement. For the global circulation, this could dramatically improve accuracy. Just look at the latest National Weather Service surface pressure charts, pressure gradients are hugely different in different regions. Adaptivity might enable better resolution of terrain, even starting to deal with convection by using finer grid only where convection was becoming significant. You know, I stand by my statement that finite differences are the best methods from the 1950’s. Another thing is upwinding. Even in incompressible flow, you can need that and FEM is hugely better at it than finite differences.

        10. I really question the possibility of modeling convection with a subgrid model which seems to be what they say they are doing. Convection easily leads to chaos and it is extremely difficult to model turbulence using subgrid models. There is a ton of literature on this and even a NASA website about turbulence model validation.

        14. I seem to recall that in the 1970’s they were using shallow water equations that are incompressible for the atmosphere. I’m a little surprised they still do that, because compressibility effects in boundary layers for example can be significant even at pretty low Mach numbers.
        Once again it raises a red flag. Have they validated that compressibility effects are indeed small? Nothing in the 2006 paper about this.

        Bottom line, you need to abandon first the idea that computer speed matters and find something that is stable and accurate and can be validated against something that is really known (not noisy satellite data). They you speed up your method

      • Andy,

        Some time ago I wanted to learn a bit on climate models and ended up in buying (and also reading almost fully, what isn’t true for all books that I buy, as I often read very selectively to complement my preexisting knowledge skipping many details) the book of Washington and Parkinson An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling, 2nd ed (2005). Do you know the book and can you comment, how well it’s up-to-date.

      • Pekka,

        I have not read the Washington and Parkinson book myself. I recall seeing a reasonable review. Warren Washington is a well respected generalist in climate modeling. Claire Parkinson’s expertise is in satellite observations and sea ice. I don’t believe either one has done much in the area of radiation modeling. My guess is that it is a reasonable book, and I don’t expect that it is in any way ‘out-of-date’.

      • John Carpenter

        Andrew,

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my question and providing the links for further explanation. I appreciate the complexity of the model and various modules and is why I am having a difficult time getting a mental image of how it works, however I believe my question would be better answered via a diagram or ‘map’. I understand this is not possible here. The type of 30,000 ft view of the GCM I am looking for could be quite revealing to even yourself.

        The exercise of constructing a ‘visual’ image of how the GCM works requires one to break down the individual components, i.e. the various modules, in a way that it becomes clear how they interact during a single ‘step’. This process requires the creator of the diagram to think about how the model is working in new ways, perhaps revealing connections that need to be made and other connections that appear to be weak. After the 30,000 ft view, you will have to explore the 10,000 ft view of the modules and finally the 1000 ft view of the actual physics involved. It will require you to look at relationships you may even see as mysterious within the model. The exercise of going from the macro to micro image makes one re-learn what is going on within the model, like performing a surveillance audit on the process.

        Once you have mapped out how you visually see the model working, the interesting part comes when you give it to a colleague to review, comment and correct. He/she will see it differently…. so the image will perhaps blur or focus based on their input.

        By iteration, i.e. modifying the image by garnering input, comments and corrections from additional colleagues, the image should eventually sharpen and become clearer. The final end product could be a very useful tool itself in understanding how to add in new modules or modify the model in the future.

        I find it fascinating how doing this type of exercise broadens ones overall understanding of complex ideas to new levels. I am not a computer programmer, I can’t read or write FORTRAN, but with this type of image, it’s not necessary in order to understand what the model is doing.

        Perhaps I am asking for a visual that is not possible…. but once you start putting pencil to paper you may find it hard to not finish.

        Thanks again for your reply.

  30. “Could you explain just how any of those words affects any of Andrew Lacis’s points enough to merit concern, much less justify dismissing it in its entirety? I agree his post would have been better without including those, but they are just throwaway lines.”

    To put it politely, they’re indicative of a world-view that’s flawed enough to raise serious questions about the man’s objectivity.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Wondering about a person’s objectivity is fine. Dismissing someone’s comments out-of-hand based upon that musing is not fine. Unless one can show a connection between Andrew Lacis’s questionable word choice(s) and a flaw in the positions he advances (such as if he used ad hominems), it doesn’t really matter what biases he may hold.

      He’s advanced an argument. That argument is either right or wrong, and it is distinct from whether or not he is objective enough.

      • Yes and no. In principle, yes, you’re right. In reality, none of this climate science is so rigorous that there isn’t some room for debate, and so none of the arguments proffered are airtight. So reasonable people have to fall back on other information. One obvious place to look is to see if the person making the argument has the demeanor of a disinterested party, or is clearly on one side, and trying to buttress his position. Lawyers get paid to do that, scientists don’t, at least in theory.

      • steven mosher – are you reading this?

    • Attn: steven mosher

      • Joshua, go learn the science so you, like me, can dismiss the silly things andy says about skeptics and focus on the science. You focus on personality. its all you look it because its all you think your feeble brain can handle. and it doesnt handle that very well.

      • Steven, I may be completely wrong. You may be quite a nice guy in real life, but comments like this leave me with the feeling you are suffering from some sort of superiority complex!

      • steven –

        Thanks for the advice. Words of wisdom from someone as smart as you mean a lot to me. All I can do is hope that you can understand that not everyone can be as smart as you. I do my best, steven, with the limited intellectual resources I have available, but I’ll never be able to attain the deep logic and understanding that you display in this post and the many similar posts that your write so often. All I can do is ask you to be patient – but I do fully understand that your disgust is justified by your exalted and noble pursuit of the truth; it must be terribly hard on you to tolerate inferior intellect, so I’m grateful that your condescension and expression of superiority aren’t even more severe.

        I guess my limited intelligence is the reason that I can’t understand why you seem obsessed with me, yet fail to point out to the numerous other commenters who discuss bias related to partisan influences that they, too, are “IDJTs” and “feeble-brained.” Perhaps you could break down the reasoning behind that discrepancy in a way that is simple enough that even someone so feeble-minded could understand? I know it would be very hard to reduce the complexity of your thinking so exponentially without distorting your meaning – but if anyone could do it, I think you’re up to the task.

      • Steven,
        Just final thought. If you were as smart as you think you are, you wouldn’t indulge in name calling. Anyone can accuse anyone else of having a ‘feeble brain’, and you might just like to consider that this is a tactic used primarily by those who don’t have the intellectual capability to sustain a reasoned argument.

      • Latimer Alder.

        @tempterrain

        Umm….are you the same guy who accused me of a ‘creationist trick ‘ yesterday?

        As a fully paid up atheist from the age of 15 I found your label deeply offensive – and remarked so at the time

        Pots and kettles?

      • LA,

        “Creationist trick” was actually Lolwot’s phrase, incorrectly attributed by myself, to Joshua. But, that seems fair enough to me. It’s not name calling, neither does it mean that all climate science rejectionists are necessarily creationists. However, it does imply there are many parallels in the two lines of argument: Lists of dissenters. Attacks on the consensus. Fake experts. Claims that scientists don’t properly consider the opinions of non-scientists. Its an attack on American values. Its a hoax – they were found out with Piltdown man. Unrealistic demands for experimental proof etc etc.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        Perish the thought that I shoud ever be guilty of an ‘attack on the consensus’ about anything at all. Not little old me. No sirree Bob – I’m with you. I go along with everything the Big Boys tell me becaue they are bigger and smarter than me. Look – they got a Nobel Prize so they mst be dead clever!

        And as a proud Englishman, I doubt if I have ever ‘attacked American values’.. though I do like the food in New Orleans.

        In essence you have produced a long list of ‘creationist tricks’ – which boils down to ‘but Mummy, why don;t they just shut up and believe what I tell them’

        Pathetic.

        PS – unreallistic demands fro experimental proof….like showing that the models have some resemblance to the real world. Yep – Im going to keep on making that point loud and long. If you want to base your ‘science’ and your policies on some game of Climate Fanatasia – that;s fine with me, But if you ever return to the same world as 6.5 billion other people inhabit, then you have to prove it. Aristotle and knowledge by asserttion died five hundred years ago. You seem to regret his passing

      • Latimer,

        If you don’t believe me on the parallels between various forms of scientific rejectionism , maybe you might from John Cook.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/5-characteristics-of-scientific-denialism.html

        PS I’ve taken to using the term ‘rejectionist’ rather than ‘denier’. Denier seems to have unfortunate associations. Is that any better?

      • Latimer,

        I came across a remark by Stephen Fry the other day which I wish I had thought of in connection with your “deeply offensive” comment.

        “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that’ , as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I’m offended by that.’ Well, so f*****g what?”

      • I would agree with Fry 100%.

        Why the hell should I concern myself whether somebody gets offended? There is no right to go through life without ever having to feel offended. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People who are easily offended are those who don’t know how to purse happiness.

        BTW – I’m offended by stupidity. Should I look into a class action suit against all of the folks claiming catastrophy due to global warming? In addition to being offended, I may have a case of mental anguish.

      • timg56,

        I’m afraid you are guilty of some slight contradiction when you say you agree with Stephen Fry 100% and yet at the same time show hostility to those are concerned about AGW.

        Mr Fry may well be capable of causing you some offence but it would be due to any stupidity on his part. If you were to meet, you may well find yourself in a similar position to his American dinner companion who cared to use the term “a piece of shit” about Al Gore.

        You might care to start reading at the heading “Getting Overheated”

        PS I’ll put the link in a separate comment. Judith’s spam filter has decided to get stroppy!

      • timg56,

        I’m afraid you are guilty of some slight contradiction when you say you agree with Stephen Fry 100% and yet at the same time show hostility to those are concerned about AGW.

        Mr Fry may well be capable of causing you some offence but it would be due to any stupidity on his part. If you were to meet, you may well find yourself in a similar position to his American dinner companion who cared to use the term “a piece of s**t” about Al Gore.

        You might care to start reading at the heading “Getting Overheated”

        PS I’ll put the link in a separate comment. Judith’s spam filter has decided to get stroppy!

      • timg56,

        It’s pretty obvious but I missed out a “not” in front of “any stupidity …” in my last post.

        I must say that my experiences do very much match up with Stephen Fry’s in terms of American sensibilities as regards robust debate at the dinner table. Americans can be a nice as pie if you don’t say anything of consequence to them, but just a hint that you might feel the US are being slightly too one sided in the Middle East, or even feel the British NHS isn’t the Devil’s spawn can certainly get the feathers flying in a way that just wouldn’t happen anywhere else.

      • Its very simple. Joshua said he could not understand the science so he would focus on “motivated reasoning” I point out that he is trying to answer questions about science by using a methodology that is not testable. he impugned his own intelligence. I remind him of that

      • Sorry Steven, but it raises a red flag for me too. If he was joking or engaging in hyperbole that would be OK, but it looks deadly serious. This conspiracy theory about the “denialists’ is just tine foil hat nonsense. I agree that he can say whatever he wants. But after a while, people start to dismiss people who believe in such obviously conspiratorial thinking. There is no conspiracy. It’s all out in the open. In the US anyway, its called freedom of speech.

        By the way, I was just reading Avery’s response to his critics over on the other thread and it actually angered me. The team was openly discussing using a phony libel action to silence critics. What we need in climate science is a Teddy Roosevelt to take on the corrupt establishment. Who is that going to be? Maybe Judith has some of the right stuff?

  31. David McKeever

    I usually rely on comments to help me improve my understanding of what a paper is really saying and I don’t really see that in these comments. I was hoping someone would point out what difference the residence time makes..if water vapor is say 2% day after day year after year what difference does it make if it is the same water molecules year after year…the concentration is what matters..or I am missing something?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      David McKeever, remember, this post hasn’t been up very long. It’s quite likely many people haven’t even read the paper yet. I just finished the paper (I was surprised at how short it is), but I haven’t had a chance to look at any of the references yet. If you give it more time, I suspect you’ll see more detailed comments.

      That said, I think I can answer your concern. In a general sense, it doesn’t really matter if the water molecules in the air are the same from one day to the next. As you say, it’s the concentration which matters. However, residence time is part of what determines concentration. Residence time tells you how quickly the molecules will go away. The shorter it is, the lower concentration will be. If you emit two substances at the same rate, but one decays/vanishes/whatever more quickly than the other, obviously you will wind up having a lower concentration of that one than the other.

      Also, if emissions change, concentration won’t stay the same. At that point, you have to know residence times in order to be able to figure out what concentrations will change too.

    • David,

      Are you referring to the phrase in the paper ” Furthermore, the atmospheric residence time of CO2 is exceedingly long, being measured in thousands of years …….”

      The point about “same …molecules’ is often exploited by the rejectionists. The concentration of Co2 has been raised in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times by 40% as a result of fossil fuel burning. However, due to the dynamic nature of the CO2 cycle all the excess CO2 cannot be attributed, molecule by molecule, as a product of fossil fuel burning. So if you want to play down the the 40% increase in CO2 levels you naturally emphasise that fact.

      Similarly on residence times. The residence time of an individual CO2 molecule produced by fossil fuel combustion would be only a few years, not the thousands of years mentioned in the paper. But, as you say, it’s the concentration that matters. So, which figure you quote depends on whether you wish to work with information or disinformation.

  32. Judith – you HAVE to explain …why is a technical thread opened with accusations of conspiracy and worse? Are you afraid of Andy Lacis? Or desperate of getting his likes involved to the point of allowing him what you deny your commenters?

    What’s the meaning of censorship for the comments and eyes wide shut for the post author?

    • This is a technical thread about a scientific paper and the response to it. If the author used intemperate words, this does not necessarily detract from the content of his argument. I am deleting comments that have no relevant technical content. Commenters are free to comment on one of the other threads.

      • As a reader, not a contributor, can I say that for me both decisions have to be right: the invitation to Andrew Lacis to say it how he sees it and the removal of comments annoyed by his tone but failing to add anything substantive. Much easier to read this way. That’s the key virtue here, not the kind of even-handedness that leads to every thread sounding the same.

      • Judith,

        The guest author’s post contained gratuitous intemperate words that the author knew would insult many of the readers here. Why did you not suggest that he drop the inflammatory BS? If you are going to censor intemperate response to his provocations, you might also strike the offending words from his post.

      • And what iron law is there that we must all instantly become highly flammable because of such ‘inflammatory’ language? It all depends on context. I detest certain terms – like denier – being used from a position of authority, like Kevin Trenberth at the AMS last January. But anyone with an ounce of sensitivity can see that Dr Lacis is not in a similar position writing on Climate Etc. For me, like Judith, the fact he “reads the blog and [has] provided a guest post demonstrates … that he has an open mind”. So we grow up a little and give him a little slack.

      • thank you Richard

      • But does it contribute anything?

      • Richard Drake,

        Actually, I did not say there was an iron law. Judith described his words as “intemperate”, yet she says they do not detract from his arguments. I have not seen the posts that she has apparently deleted, so perhaps they contain words that are more intemperate, that do detract from the censored posters arguments. So be it. I would rather make that judgment for myself, but it is Judith’s blog, and I offer her my apology for questioning her judgment. And thank you for answering for her. And on that last thing you said, you can kiss my ass.

      • More of my posts were deleted than anyone else’s. My words were not intemperate, but they were a rebuttal of some of Lacis’s underlying assumptions about sustainability, and therefore, off the main topic.

        I don’t really mind being deleted. I’m not the only one with such thoughts.
        ====================

      • Any desire to kiss your ass would also depend on context. You failed to mention context, which was at the heart of what I wrote, now and back in January. So there are two hallmarks for me now of immaturity: inability to sense the importance of context and inability to discern the heart of what someone different to you is saying. In this new context the expectation of Richard Drake kissing your ass suggests that I may have erred in one thing: that some of us need to grow up just a little. But by all means prove me wrong by your civility and other basic evidences of maturity in the days and weeks to come.

      • Why don’t you give us some examples of context , where it would be OK to throw around the word “nigger”?

        Even though I don’t possess an ounce of sensitivity, I do know it is not a good idea to use that word, because I have seen the reactions that it causes. Just a tip for you; don’t ever use that word in front of a lot of black people, and then try to explain to them that they didn’t understand your context. Just run!

        Do you think that Andy Lacis uses the word “denier”, as a term of endearment, while his teammate Trenberth, wields it as a perjorative? What is the context here? You don’t really have a clue.

      • PS: And the fact that we are having this discussion proves that Lacis should have left out the grauitous BS.

      • kim

        Ah’ve been cheated
        Been mistreated
        And deleted….

      • PS: And the fact that we are having this discussion proves that Lacis should have left out the grauitous BS.

        Yes. Andrew is responsible for what you choose to post about and not post about. My life would be so much simpler if I could just find ways to hold other people responsible for my decisions.

  33. Andy – I see little to disagree with in your overall assessment. Certainly, CO2 and other anthropogenic GHG emissions are a potent driver of warming, with water serving in a feedback role due to its short atmospheric lifetime. I do, however, want to ask you to elaborate on a point you made in your item 6, which in my view is consistent with the evidence but not necessarily self evident or indisputable. I quote the entire paragraph, with the salient passages bolded:

    ” Natural (unforced) climate variability is the principal reason for the uncertainty manifested in the largely unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations that occur on regional spatial scales, and on inter-annual and decadal time scales. Arising from changes in advective energy transports and poorly understood interactions with ocean dynamics, this is where uncertainty reigns supreme. However, these advective transports must globally add to zero, and the unforced fluctuations are necessarily fluctuations about the global equilibrium reference point. Nature conserves energy very carefully. Hence, large deviations from the global equilibrium cannot be sustained. So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend, but its effects on local and regional climate will remain the main source of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.”

    My question is this. Isn’t “long-term” a relative term, which in this case simply compares the oscillation length of natural fluctuations with the century-long climate record that includes an anthropogenic warming signal? The argument has been mounted that even records of this length may contain fluctuations “about the global equilibrium reference point” that are part of long duration oscillations, or as sometimes stated, “one person’s trend is another’s cycle”. None of this, of course, refutes the conclusion that the GHGs are potent climate drivers, which is solidly based in the physics, but relates more to the long term apportionment of warming between anthropogenic (and other) forcings and natural fluctuations. (I should mention that a few threads relevant to the topic of “cyclomania” appeared in this blog a number of months ago).

    Having said this, my own interpretation of the data record for the twentieth century suggests a relatively modest role overall for long term oscillations, and a minimal one for the warming from about 1950 to the past few years, and so empirically, a hypothetically substantial role is not supported by the available data (the same might not be true for other eras or shorter or longer intervals). The major natural fluctuations of more than decadal length have been the AMO and the PDO, which have tended to exhibit irregular interval lengths in the neighborhood of 60 years. Combined, their net contribution from 1950-2007 (the AR 4 year) appears to be very small despite larger amplitudes within that interval itself.

    A small additional point relates to the assumption that the AMO and PDO are in fact natural internal climate modes acting independently of anthropogenic or natural forcings. It has been suggested in fact that the AMO may be predominantly a statistical phantom and there has been recent evidence that the PDO may include a significant anthropogenically forced component. This would further confound attempts to assess their contribution to temperature change during intervals when their net deviation from their baseline levels was large, although it would have less significance for the post-1950 decades when their net contribution would be small even as independent sources of warming.

    It is always possible that we have been missing other multidecadal oscillations that affected the climate record of the past century. That precludes statements of absolute certainty about the proportional role of GHGs, although a major role seems well established.

    • Fred Moolten

      You beat me to this point, though we come at the difficulties in this passage from different directions.

      Taking inspiration from the Three Body Gravitational Problem (http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/PVB/Harrison/Flash/Chaos/ThreeBody/ThreeBody.html), with anthropogenic influences as Sun 1 and natural variability as Sun 2, the climate (planet) does not promise forever to orbit in familiar paths.

      That is why adding significant anthropogenic influences so substantially affects the risks of extremes in climate.

      For those who haven’t followed Chaos Theory, go ahead, open the animation, play with the various sizes of Sun 1 (anthropogenic influences) and the initial position of the planet (climate), and watch and wait.

      Keeping in mind, the model is greatly simplified at only 3 bodies from our own actual system of interacting ocean oscillations and ocean life and ocean chemistry, terrestrial conditions and terrestrial life, solar variability, orbital variability, land use, anthropogenic aerosols, and GHGs, any of which might suffer the eventual fate of a body in the 3 Body problem: ejection or collision more rapidly with larger perturbation, and all of which are more certain to follow irregular and extreme paths.

      Remove the anthropogenic components, and the extremes, ejection and collision might still happen, despite Andy’s contention they cannot significantly impact, however I will allow that their impacts are less likely to take the whole system off the rails than large anthropogenic influences.

    • ‘Nature conserves energy very carefully’

      What a nice supernatural entity she is.

      I always believed that it got dark and cold at night because the planet was radiating heat and not getting any from the sun. What a fool I have been.

    • “It has been suggested in fact that the AMO may be predominantly a statistical phantom and there has been recent evidence that the PDO may include a significant anthropogenically forced component”

      It has been suggested that the moon is made of cheese and that Judy is a witch. However, one thing we do know for sure is that the Earth is not and has never been at any sort of thermal equilibrium. This sort of blows away everything you have written about. Having a 1 kg block of ice and a liter of boiling water does not give you an ‘equilibrium’ temperature of 50 degrees.
      An equilibrium is not an average of a large number of objects with different temperatures.

    • Fred – I fully agree that “long-term” is a relative term. I am thinking in terms of a simplified globally averaged annual mean energy balance for the climate system that is fully insulated by the lithosphere from the very hot thermal reservoir of the mantle region, and also fully insulated by a stable warm mixed layer from the cold temperature reservoir of the deep ocean. Some of the surface temperature oscillations may be more regional in nature, and thus not have a significant global residual. By “long-term” I means long enough to average out the inter-annual fluctuations like El Nino and La Nina.

      Obviously, the climate relevant region of the Earth is not strictly a closed system. The heat leaking in from the hot mantle reservoir is (fortunately) negligibly small. But the ocean mixed layer is not all that efficient in insulting the biosphere from the cold ocean reservoir, as evidenced by the fluctuations in the deep ocean heat storage, indicating that blobs of cold deep water get periodically exchanged with the warmer water, and need then to be warmed up. But these will necessarily be cold fluctuations as there are no ‘hot’ blobs of deep water.

      We basically need to monitor the energy balance of the Earth at TOA and also in the ocean to keep track of what is going on in the climate zone.

  34. I find it very difficult to understand how someone with a PhD in physics can call a run of a computer model, an experiment. When I was doing research, an experiment involved empirical data. It is difficult to take him seriously after reading his post-modern scientific definition of an experiment.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      You confusion stems from the fact your position is irrational. A computer model can be used to do experiments. For example, I can experiment with what results I get if I change a variable from 3 to 4. That this experiment doesn’t involve the “real world” doesn’t change the fact it is an experiment.

      It’s understandable to question the significance of an experiment solely involving computer models, but it’s silly to say it isn’t an experiment simply because it is done on a computer.

      • When Richard Feynman said: “The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific ‘truth’,” he was not talking about running computer programs. So was Feynman also confused?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’m sure he was not “talking about running computer programs” in the sense that was not all he was referring to. However, I see nothing but your unsupported claim to indicate he was actually excluding experiments ran with computer programs.

      • How about the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for the Scientific Method? Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: “a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”[3]

        A climate model is a hypothesis in the above terminology, not an experiment, measurement, or systematic observation.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        George Crews, your comment here makes no sense. There is nothing in that quote which would indicate computer models are hypothesis, not experiments. You’ve simply claimed it is without any offering any explanation or justification. It is pure, tautological hand-waving. This is no different from what you did in your previous comment, something I pointed out, and you ignored.

        If your intent is to simply throw quote after quote at me until I concede your point, I’m afraid you’ll be sorely mistaken. The best you can hope for is to make me stop responding to you.

      • Brandon, you realize we are talking about arriving at a common definition for experiment don’t you? If you refuse to accept/assume/debate using the Wikipedia definition, that’s fine.

        But the risk is that someone will use the word “experiment” in your sense, but someone else will interpret it in the Wikipedia sense. For example, mathematicians use the term “there exists” (say, a circle) which is not to be taken in the same way that a physicist would say “there exists” (say, the sun). Otherwise, confusion reigns.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        George Crews, I understand what you claim the Wikipedia definition is isn’t actually what the Wikipedia definition is. Given this, I would hardly be surprised if confusion existed. Vigorous hand-waving tends to invoke that in people.

      • I have no confusion. Solving a set of equations, whether on a piece of paper or by computer is not an experiment.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Seeing as the experiment I described was not simply solving a set of equations, I’m not sure what the relevance of your comment here is.

      • Changing a variable from 3 to 4 is not an experiment. What you describe as an experiment is just not an experiment.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Steeptown, your response would be meaningful if all I said was change a variable. I didn’t. I said see what results you get when you change the variable. The distinction here is extremely simple and clear, so I’m not sure how you came up with your misrepresentation above.

      • ex·per·i·ment (k-spr-mnt)
        n.
        1.
        a. A test under controlled conditions that is made to demonstrate a known truth, examine the validity of a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy of something previously untried.
        b. The process of conducting such a test; experimentation

        Let’s don’t fall into the trap of calling a “numbers crunching exercise” (whether by hand or on a computer) an “experiment” in the scientific sense.

        It ain’t.

        Max

      • It’s not a trap at all. Testing computer models with different setups is running experiments.

      • You make the mistake of confusing a model with reality

      • no i am not.

        A model is not reality.

        It’s still an experiment.

      • K Scott Denison

        It just amazes me there are so many who think running a computer model with varying parameters as input is an experiment. Wondering when our host will weigh in with her thoughts on this.

        Reminds me of the Star Trek episode where instead of fighting wars, the two worlds ran simulations to determine the extent of damage and deaths and the required their citizens to show up to be killed to match the results of this “experiment”. How can so many otherwise intelligent people not see how silly this position is?

        To me, this is one, of many, items that need to be addressed before climate “science” can truly become a science.

      • Pragmatically, we can’t do the experiment on a controlled configuration the size of the earth. Therefore we do the best we can with models.

        Reminds me of the Star Trek episode where instead of fighting wars, the two worlds ran simulations to determine the extent of damage and deaths and the required their citizens to show up to be killed to match the results of this “experiment”.

        Wasn’t Star Track some sort of fictional television show?

      • K Scott Denison

        Well, just because we are doing the best we can doesn’t mean the results of the models have any meaning. When they are verified and validated with observations let me know.

      • Well, just because we are doing the best we can doesn’t mean the results of the models have any meaning. When they are verified and validated with observations let me know.

        Sure, we can wait another 100 years. Elapsed time is an experimental value that we can’t control either.

      • I tend to agree that a distinction should be made between experiment in its traditional sense and what happens in computer.

        I would suggest ‘simulation’ is a better term for the latter.

        Having said that, its still unrealistic for climate science rejectionists to call for ‘experimental proof’. We don’t have any spare atmospheres available for testing to destruction!

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        “Having said that, its still unrealistic for climate science rejectionists to call for ‘experimental proof’. ”

        Yes, and it is also unrealistic for climate “scientists” to state any certainty for projections generated from models which have not been formally V&V’d.

        So, guess it’s a stalemate… or one could set off trying to do science versus post-modern science.

      • Brandon, for a model to have any scientific relevance, the DATA upon which the model is based must be replicable. In engineering, organizations such as the ASTM define data collection and testing standards, which can be carried out by independent laboratories. The data must be reproducible — and the independent replication of outcomes is the basis of the scientific method.

        In climate science the data (the historical temperature/CO2 record) is historical and non-linear. We can ascertain trends, but trends are not scientific — they are statistical. Science is not based on trends or statistics. If it were, then economics, history, sociology, fashion, etc. would be “hard sciences.” There are things that we can never model, no matter how powerful the computers or complex the programs.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim S, I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of this response. Even if GCMs were not scientifically relevant (a claim I’d certainly dispute), they could still be experiments. Since whether or not Andrew Lacis was idiotically wrong for using the word experiment is the issue at hand, not the relevance of GCMs to scientific understanding, I don’t see the relevance of your comment here.

      • Brandon, we can create a model that “explains” the impact of tooth-loss by children and the impact on the economy by the monetary contribution of the tooth-fairy. But if the model is not testable (and falsifiable), then it is of no value whatsoever.

        You’re use of the term “experiment” differs from others.

      • That’s not a very sensible example.

        How about a model of a pan of water on a fire? So you have such a model and decide to experiment with what happens when you turn the heat on, what happens when you turn it off and what happens when you turn it on and off every minute. Does the temperature settle at the average in that latter case? That’s an experiment, I even accidentally used the word experiment in the passage without realizing it.

      • lolwot, what you are doing with a real pan of water on a real stove is an experiment. It becomes a model when you try and describe the observation mathematically, so as to be able to extrapolate what happens when a variable changes (ie the amount of water, thickness of the pot, the duration of the heat source, etc.). This mathematical description IS the model — and it only has relevance if it can be corroborated with further real-world tests. Just running the model without testing it against further real-world experiments tells you nothing.

      • So you run it a few times and it matches reality.

        Then you want to try something like a pot the size of the Earth and a heat source like the Sun. You can’t do that experiment for real, so you use the model to do the experiment.

      • On reading this I went in search of the phrase “the best model of the world is itself”, which turns out to be (among others, no doubt) MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks. Taken a little out of that context it can do wonders for your thinking. Here’s helpful input to a discussion last year of whether global tyranny is going to be necessary to avoid eco-disaster:

        The real, living world has reached it’s present state partly through the operation of two simple facts: the enormous depth of time in which life has existed on this planet, and the constancy, inevitability and universality of death. Evolution has through these two facts produced a material reality that is so fantastically complex, random and unpredictable that it can never be modeled except in the crudest way — the only accurate model of the world is itself. But we don’t see that! We fasten on what we know and fail to see the vastness of our ignorance. A great illustration of that is how long it’s taken technology to produce machines that can move around a complex terrain unaided. The value of computers has partly been to reveal the extent of our ignorance by allowing us to attempt such things as AI.

        I don’t personally take it as proven that evolution could achieve all that through known natural processes, given information theory. But the bit about what we learn from serious attempts to do AI is spot on. Such processes have clear, pretty much instantaneous feedback of failure. That’s what we lack with climate. Way to go.

      • Eric Ollivet

        Brandon,

        You can test the ability of a computer model to faithfully represent “real world” physics. Indeed this test shall be part of the validation process that any model (whatever the topic is) is supposed to undergo before being stated as validated and OK for use (i.e. able to represent “real world” physics and to provide reliable predictions of the modeled system’s behavior)

        But calling this test an experiment is just pure confusion that is very common in Climate Modelers’ community, where scientists tend to believe their nice climate models represent “real world’s” climate. Calling a computer model run an “experiment” would be an acceptable wording provided this model had been formally validated.

        But actually none of the Climate Models has ever been subjected to a real Verification & Validation process (for the very good reason that they would all have failed!). Indeed none of them is able to hind-cast past observations and none of them has been able to foresee / explain current 14 years pause in climate warming since 1997 (even slight cooling since 2002).

        This is definitely why all climate models are formally invalidated, and why a climate computer model run cannot be called an experiment.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Eric Ollivet, your first paragraph talks about validation testing of a model, and then your second paragraph starts off by talking about why said test shouldn’t be considered an experiment. However, the “experiment” being discussed in this issue isn’t the test you’re talking about. This makes the first part of your comment mostly irrelevant.

        The second part of your comment claims climate models are non-validated, thus model runs can’t be considered experiments. Unfortunately, while you claim this, you don’t offer any explanation or justification for the claim. This makes it rather difficult to respond in any meaningful way. Your claim doesn’t make sense to me, as an experiment can be faulty while still being an experiment. However, I may be missing some nuance, so if you could explain why you say a model needs to be validated for it to be considered an experiment, that would help.

      • Brandon, I’m mystified as to why you can’t see the objection to using the term “experiment”, without lengthy qualification, to refer to a model run. Plenty of computer games consist of elaborate models of a physical world, albeit one that contains all manner of invented machinery (space-ships, etc) and organisms (fire-breathing monsters, super-heroes with special powers). These models present an INTERNALLY consistent model of reality, with objects behaving, in simulation, much as they would in real life, if only they in fact existed. Every time a kid plays the game, he performs an experiment, if we are to allow your definition. If he repeats exactly his moves on another occasion, he will get the same result. But even he won’t claim that his results tell us anything about the real world.
        Until, that is, he grows up to be a climate “scientist”.

        Let’s just recall the dissenting voice of the UEA’s Michael Kelly:

        “I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of ‘computer’ experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real ‘real data’ might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models! That is turning centuries of science on its head.”

        He concludes with
        “My overall sympathy is with Ernest Rutherford: “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.””

      • Brandon, the answer is already in my original comment :
        1) None of the climate models has been subjected to a formal V&V process (no validation report available)
        2) None of the models is able to formally hind-cast past observations and as a matter of fact there is a significant mismatch between models outputs and measurements over [1880 – 1970] and [2000 – 2010] periods, which means that all models would have failed to pass such a validation process.

      • Eric,

        “But calling this test an experiment is just pure confusion that is very common in Climate Modelers’ community, where scientists tend to believe their nice climate models represent “real world’s” climate. Calling a computer model run an “experiment” would be an acceptable wording provided this model had been formally validated.”

        They over-reach and call it an “experiment”, because they are sorely lacking in real experimental evidence to support their theory. When the results of some of their model runs are pleasing to them, they call it experimental evidence. But no amount of semantic quibbling will ever make model runs of unvalidated computer models into experiments. And unvalidated models do not produce experimental evidence. They produce SWAG.

      • Brandon, what does not make a computer model an experiment is that even the best computer model is an inaccurate representation of the real physical system. A model contains the implicit bias of the person who created the computer model and therefore cannot be regarded as an objective arbiter of the true behavior of the system.

        The only real experiment must involve the system itself.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        It’s strange how many people are making different claims as to why experiments cannot be done with computer models without actually providing a justification for their claim. For example Brad, why should something have to be completely objective to be used for an experiment? Would you say something wasn’t an experiment if the researcher used a ruler which was known to be biased on the short side? No, yet you answer yes for a computer model, which in the end is just a tool. This means your position isn’t just unsupported, it’s apparently contradictory.

        By the way, your claim about implicit bias isn’t inherently true.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        It is not that the concept of making model runs to test assumptions is not a valid pursuit, it just isn’t an “experiment” in the scientific sense, so should not be called that in a scientific paper.

        Max

      • It’s not a claim I am making, I am merely specifying that the definition of an experiment does not include simulations.

        “By the way, your claim about implicit bias isn’t inherently true.”

        Correct, but it is impossible to prove that models aren’t biased unless they can be compared against the behavior of the real physical system. Only the real world is a truly objective test.

      • Brad, This position leads to subjectivism in which NO knowledge is possible.

        Engineers (and their models) break big problems down into little, manageable, testable (falsifiable) problems. They then include redundancy into their designs, so that the failure of any one component , due to an unaccounted for variable, will not collapse the whole system.

        The inability to construct “omniscient” models is not because they are “biased” by the creator. Models can be objective.

      • The critical component in the advancement of knowledge is to implement/test your simulated creation in the real world. Engineers do make models of buildings, but those models have been honed to high degrees of objective accuracy by decades of building actual real buildings.

        Climate science doesn’t have a chance to build climates in the real world. Thus their models lack this kind of objective test.

      • A computer model run is a test of a hypothesis. It is not evidence and calling it evidence only leads to muddle-headed thinking.

      • Actually a computer model is not even a test of a hypothesis. It is a simulated test of a hypothesis.

        On the one hand, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the importance of validation by real world tests is the most important part of a model construction.

        This is why the LHC was constructed. I am sure that physicists would have preferred to get by with just simulations, but they knew that real world tests were the only way to evaluate the models they had. These tests are very inconvenient, and very expensive, but not optional.

    • steven mosher

      Its an experiment. What is being tested is the model. when we cannot do controlled physical experiments ( go double C02 ) then we only have one tool. The physics as we know them embodied in computer code. Computer code is the embodiment of the theory.

      • Reread your Feynman. He didn’t leave any room for doubt about what an experiment was. A computer model isn’t an experiment in the sense that he was talking about. The neutrino thing? That’s an experiment. It may turn out to be wrong, but it’s a real physical measurement. A model is nothing more than a complicated calculation.

      • Oops. Never mind. Lost in the nesting.

      • Steven, at some point, it is necessary to realize that there are somethings in this indeterministic universe that we cannot know or “predict” scientifically. Every problem does not have a “solution”.

      • “Its an experiment. What is being tested is the model. when we cannot do controlled physical experiments ( go double C02 ) then we only have one tool. The physics as we know them embodied in computer code.”

        But surely, the model isn’t being tested. Unless we’re going to redefine “tested” while we’re redefining “experiment”. The “experiment” doesn’t test whether the model is any good or not (which would be the meaning of “testing a model” to me), it is running a scenario using the model and taking the output as some sort of evidence with respect to the real world.

        “Computer code is the embodiment of the theory.” But experiments tend to be used to test a theory, don’t they? You can’t test the theory by running these “experiments”, surely? You can’t even test the model.

      • Maybe I’m missing the point here, but how can you call something “an experiment” if it will never discover anything new? A model will return the information that was coded into the model, it can’t do anything more than that. So varying the inputs and confirming that the model behaves as expected, isn’t an experiment. At best, it’s software testing.

        If the model is a good model, then the results might be usefully illustrative, but that’s probably the point most in contention.

      • “Maybe I’m missing the point here, but how can you call something “an experiment” if it will never discover anything new? A model will return the information that was coded into the model”

        The behavior of GCMs emerges from the complexity of the model. It isn’t coded in. Great effort often goes into trying to understand why climate models exhibit certain behaviors.

        So in this case noone knew beforehand what would happen in the model world if the non-condensing greenhouse gases were removed. Until the experiment was performed the result was not known.

      • Steve, imagine we had a model embodying the theory: “each doubling of CO2 will result in a doubling of temperature”. We run the model and see that, as the CO2 variable doubles, the temperature output doubles as well.

        Is this an “experiment”? If so, what is it testing? In a trivial sense it is testing the program to make sure that it can do the simple arithmetic embodied in the model. But that is about all it is testing. It would reveal nothing at all about climate.

        For any sort of useful “experiment” to take place you would have to test your model’s output against actual observed values. If you did that with my doubling model you would discover, rather quickly, that your model was wrong because the observed temp would very quickly part company from the model’s predicted temp.

        Presumably, a scientist would take a look at this deviation and see if there was some function which would fit the model output more closely to the observed. Then test again.

        All of which you know Steve. And it is the essential meta problem with climate models in general. The validation and verification which would measure their ability to make accurate hindcasts (and thus potentially accurate forecasts) has been neglected.

        Dr. Lacie’s points may very well be true within the world of his model; the experimental question is whether that world has much to do with the real world.

        How that is working out has been interesting recently: the modeling community has realized that there is “missing heat”, heat which the models say should be somewhere isn’t. This has lead to the Treberth “it’s in the deep ocean”, the resurrection of the aerosol fudge factor and desperate attempts to prove that clouds raise temp.

        All of which illustrates that there is lots of work to be done before results of model runs should be taken seriously for policy purposes. A point which you don’t have to be a dupe, minion or fossil fuel cheque taker to recognize.

      • I think JC is right on the money here.

        The climate scientists suffer from exactly the same epistemic difficulties as economists do. They study a complex system that essentially has one history. You cannot get more than one run of the real thing. You can do informative laboratory experiments (as in economics) but they abstract from so much of the complexity of the real thing that you always have some questions about their external validity. Computer models are simply complex extensions of analytical theory, to a realm of deductive reasoning that outruns what one can accomplish with pencil and paper and analytical solutions. But they are still theory of the reality, not the reality itself.

        But you can forget about “experiments” in the classical sense of the word. You can’t do controlled experiments on the actual world climate, because you can]t re-run climate history several times in two or more conditions all else held constant.

        All you can do is look at the one history you have. So the epistemic basis of a science of the world climate (or world economy, or world ecology) is always a mosaic of laboratory results and observations of the one real run of the real system you have in front of you.

        Pretending that this kind of science is anything like chemistry or engineering is just silly…and asking it to actually BE like chemistry or engineering is silly too, IMO.

        The computer model is still a model. Changing its settings and seeing what happens is no different in principle from looking at the comparative statics predictions of a theory as you change a parameter, by analytical mathematical methods. It certainly ain’t an experiment in my mind.

        Yet people who do computational theory frequently refer to these comparative statics exercises as experiments. I suggest we don’t get bent out of shape by this semantic quirk. They know they aren’t testing the model against real observations when they do this.

      • We should get bent out of shape. Confusing simulations for experiments is precisely part of the reason for the overconfidence in these models

      • John DeFayette

        I am glad to see this thread finally branch out to touch this piece of the CAGW problem: the astounding misconception that computer simulations are the equivalent of physical reality. It is refreshing to see the fallacy lain bare by Prof. Lacis’ anniversary musings.

        NW, your economics parallel is perfect, and it also highlights why we need to get bent out of shape over the semantics. After all, there are not many people who would rely on discrete economics models to predict a return on investment 100 years out. Nobody would be so foolish as to assume that such a computer model could ever be built to represent the real economy with anything nearing accuracy–at least not with our current tools and knowledge.

        But look at Prof. Lacis’ wording in the lead. His whole reasoning revolves on how computer simulations (experiments) trump any criticism of climatologists’ predictions. Note this list of “physical evidence” given by Prof. Lacis himself in the text:

        “…(1) precise measurements show atmospheric CO2 has increased from its 280 ppm pre-industrial value to the current ~390 ppm; (2) there is available an accurate HITRAN tabulation of line absorption coefficients for all of the atmospheric absorbing gases; (3) we have available accurate radiation modeling techniques as well as capable global climate models; and (4) that 9 Gigatons of carbon (coal, gas, oil) are being burned each year (by us humans).”

        Am I dreaming or did I just see a world class physicist equate three reasonably straight-forward measured values to GCM outputs? Sure, he also equated (perhaps unknowingly) GCM’s with radiation modelling techniques so that the audience might further confuse the former with the straight-forward latter. After all, radiation models can be validated ad nauseam. We have it from the experts: GCM’s are physical evidence, just like measurements of photon absorption in materials and of CO2 concentrations in the air.

        So while Prof. Lacis is bent out of shape because the IPCC insists on using “social science” terms in their tomes, he wants to hammer home the concept that computer simulations that could very well be no more valid than economics models (a social science perhaps?) must be considered as hard evidence for the hard sciences. We need to bend back reality to its proper shape: number 3)b) does not belong in the good professor’s list. The rest of his paper and current writing rests entirely on that erroneous inclusion; there must be a drawing board somewhere begging for attention.

        I have a modest proposal for the climate modelling community. If you want to demonstrate that your codes can really do a good job of modelling our world just show us the “experiments” that actually model (without too much fudge, mind you) the MWP and the LIA to some accuracy, along with the 20th century. No hockey sticks, now, go ahead and model reality, not Reality 2.0.

      • Very well put NW. This is THE central problem with Climate Science and the very reason that it’s “predictions” can be rejected categorically. The climate is not a clock. Many people have a vague understanding of Popper’s concept of falsifiability, but most do not understand what drove him to develop it — it was his rejection of what he termed “historicism”. Non-linear, non-replicable systems cannot be modeled. For a model to be valid, the DATA must be replicable by anyone at any time. You cannot do this with the historical temperature record.

      • Steven,

        Can you please point out the particular GCM’s that have the physics right?

      • Ummm…. no.

        A computer model is a simulation. What is being simulated is the climate. When we cannot do controlled physical experiments, we simulate them. The physics as we know them embodied in computer code. Computer code is the embodiment of the theory.

        The difference is in the “physics as we know them”. A simulator may or may not be the actual physics of the real world (at no fault of the modeler, JC’s uncertainty monster). An experiment is done to utilize the actual physical processes as a test.

        Physical = experiment
        virtual = simulation

        As much as some video gamers and climate scientists like to believe, being good at a simulation is not the same thing as doing it in reality. As a programmer, you should never, ever believe that the simulator is a valid substitute for the real thing (even if you cant test using the real thing, don’t confuse simulator success as validation of reality). To believe otherwise will only come back to bite you later on. Climate scientists have not been taught this lesson.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’m curious what you have to say about this comment of mine Stilgar. Would you mind telling me what you think of it?

      • It was a term used to get an idea across that you needed to verify that the variables are doing what you think they should be doing.

        He could have also told you to try “playing” with the values of the variables. It would have meant the same thing.

        Playing with computer code is not the same thing as performing a scientific experiment.

  35. “The greennhouse physics, and the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases as the fundamental basis for global warming, are well founded.”

    Andy, thanks for posting. I would add, and hope to see a response, that CO2 levels can be impacted by long-term warming/cooling events. Do we truly have accurate historical data upon which to base models that can discern which causes which? More CO2 = warming; or More warming = more C02?

  36. Looking at the Vostok Ice core data I would think it is much more likely that the Earths temperature is more of a control valve for atmospheric Co2 content.

    source – http://www.brighton73.freeserve.co.uk/gw/paleo/400000yrfig.htm

    • Exactly! At the highest “CO2 forcings” warming shifts to cooling and vice versa.

      • Exactly! At the highest “CO2 forcings” warming shifts to cooling and vice versa.

        But those highest forcings are only 280-300 PPM. The initial forcing that initiated the warming interglacial periods may have been completely compensated by the time the atmospheric concentration reached 300 PPM. For example, the ocean temperature may have equilibrated by that time. We now have a forcing that will no doubt reach >100 PPM higher shortly.

        The only time constant left is the CO2 adjustment time which may be the driver to cooling. (Notice how the Vostok ice core data shows a much slower slide toward cooling than warming)

      • The Ice core data only goes back a mere 400,000 years. Try going back about 600 million years and charting the CO2 and temps and it will become quite obvious that atmospheric Co2 and temperature don’t correlate well at all. Too many otehr factors. The forcing embraced by the CAGW crowd to me is resembles forcing a square peg into a round hole, it just does not fit.

      • goes back over 400 million years, CO2+solar forcing and temp seem to be in reasonable agreement:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past-intermediate.htm

      • you may want to read the caption from the link you posted LOLwot, it is not relevant

        Figure 2: Combined radiative forcing from CO2 and sun through the Phanerozoic. Values are expressed relative to pre-industrial conditions (CO2 = 280 ppm; solar luminosity = 342 W/m2). The dark shaded bands correspond to periods with strong evidence for geographically widespread ice

  37. steven mosher

    Andy, Its not exactly clear where the SI is

    • steven mosher

      found it

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I thought it was pretty clear. Right next to the download link, it says:

      (Document is 1.8 MB; Document on GISS site includes appended supplementary material.)

      That says it is attached to the end of the file, which it is. It’s a little weird to have to scroll past part of another paper to get to it, but…

  38. Oh the irony of it! There was this XIX Century Italian politician who famously compared women voting to cows being given suffrage. So let’s hear what kind of woman would have wasted time discussing whatever TECHNICAL detail of his policies?

  39. Lacis did not like the use of “very likely” by the AR4 report because to him it is obvious first that the CO2 increase is more than accounted for by fossil fuel emissions, and second that the global temperature rise is more than accounted for by the expected effects of increased CO2. I tend to agree.

  40. You know, indulging in conspiratorial clap-trap talk, instead of dealing with the issues- which your paper does not deal with- only fulfills the stereotypical behavior of someone making a great career selling fear.
    Attributing to CO2 magical control abilities in the atmosphere is a nice excursion for you. Pretending that the skeptics are part of a fossil fuel industry plot is just more magical thinking on your part. And,since BP, Shell, Exxon and other big oil companies are major backers of research you and your colleagues engage in, you are also much less than sincere in your diversionary tactics than an ethical person would otherwise be.

  41. steven mosher

    Andrew. Your last two sentences were interesting

    “Furthermore,the atmospheric residence time of CO2 is exceedingly long, being measured in thousands of years (23). This makes the reduction and control of atmospheric CO2 a serious and pressing issue,
    worthy of real-time attention.”

    I don’t see how that logically follows or follows in any other sort of scientific way from what you have proved in the paper. Consider my version to see what I mean.

    “Furthermore, the atmospheric residence time of CO2 is exceedingly long, being measured in thousands of years (23). This makes the adaptation to a warmer world a serious and pressing issue, worthy of real-time attention.”

    What you see by changing that last sentence to the one I used is the following. There is no logical or scientific force behind the sentence that you used. You imposed a solution as a consequence of the science when in fact that solution is not a consequence of the science. That solution may be better, however, the sentence you used is not supported by the science in the paper you wrote. It may be back by science other places, but I’d argue that its a useless ornament in your paper.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Steven Mosher, I noticed the exact same thing the first time I went through the paper. In fact, it wasn’t the only strange leap I encountered. I was considering making a comment listing some examples, but I guess you kidn of beat me to it.

    • In physical chemical circles, “residence time” has a definition. If you stop putting any of a substance into a well-mixed system, it’s the “e-folding time”; the time that it takes to drop to 1/e times the original concentration. Am I reading that right? With half of the current output disappearing, he’s claiming that if we stop producing CO2 completely, that it’ll take thousands of years to drop to 1/e = 1/2.7818*(390-280) + 280 = 320? Or was that more of a rhetorical flourish?

      • The semantics entail different terms – “residence time”, or “adjustment time” (see WHT’s comments), but in any case, you are referring to the time required for a concentration decline of CO2 to an equilibrium value if no more is added. That can’t be characterized by an e-folding time because it is not the result of a single exponential decay function, but rather by a series of curves with different time constants varying from a few decades to hundreds of thousands of years – the latter for restoration of oceanic carbonate stores from the weathering of terrestrial silicate and carbonate rocks. At best, one can compute a rough average, which runs to about 100 to 200 years, but this shouldn’t be thought of as a “half-life”, because the first half decays faster than succeeding halves of what is left.

        None of this is the same as the residence time for individual CO2 molecules, which is probably a decade or less, but involves replacement of molecules that disappear into sinks by others that emerge from sinks into the atmosphere.

      • What Fred said, exactly.

      • Really? You think that before we started burning coal and oil that [CO2] was in equilibrium?
        What about oxygen?

        Do you think that the concentration of oxygen in the oceans is in equilibrium with the atmosphere?
        What about DMSO ? Is that in equilibrium?
        What about methane? Is methane in the oceans in equilibrium with the atmosphere?
        Methyl Bromide? Is that in equilibrium or dis-equilibrium?
        Perhaps Fred and Web could define what an ‘equilibrium’ is, with respect to the concentration gradients of gasses in the atmosphere and in the oceans and state which gasses are in ‘equilibrium’.

      • Really? You think that before we started burning coal and oil that [CO2] was in equilibrium?

        Many solutions to analysis problems only need to assume a steady state and not necessarily an equilibrium.

      • K Scott Denison

        Oh, so not equilibrium, but steady state. And when was the climate in steady state?

      • Oh, so not equilibrium, but steady state. And when was the climate in steady state?

        What time range do you want to talk about?

      • I’m still suspicious of a claim of even 100-200 years given the way half of CO2 production disappears into some combination of sinks, but I’m glad you said that about the individual molecules. That’s why the isotopic studies don’t mean as much as a lot of people think they do.

      • Fred Moolten

        At best, one can compute a rough average, which runs to about 100 to 200 years, but this shouldn’t be thought of as a “half-life”, because the first half decays faster than succeeding halves of what is left.

        Interesting observation. We have started this conversation once before, but never quite got it resolved.

        Let’s say your statement is correct and that the half-life of CO2 in our climate system (including all your caveats) is 100 to 120 years, as shown in the presentation of Zeke Hausfather at the Yale Forum (this would be at the upper end of your estimate)..

        And, for now, let’s ignore your statement that the“first half decays faster than succeeding halves”.

        If it decayed at the same rate, this would be at a rate of 0.58% of the concentration annually or 2.3 ppmv/year at today’s 390 ppmv, following a standard half-life equation..

        Interestingly, this is roughly the amount of CO2 that is “missing” per year on average (if we assume that human CO2 emissions are the only net “addition” into the climate system, as IPCC does).

        So this would mean that essentially all of the “missing” CO2 is disappearing from the climate system.

        Of course, if you are correct in saying that “the first half decays faster than succeeding halves of what is left”, there would be an even greater amount that is leaving our climate system each year on average.

        Interesting.

        Max

      • Fred Moolten

        At best, one can compute a rough average, which runs to about 100 to 200 years, but this shouldn’t be thought of as a “half-life”, because the first half decays faster than succeeding halves of what is left.

        Interesting observation. We have started this conversation once before, but never quite got it resolved.

        Let’s say your statement is correct and that the half-life of CO2 in our climate system (including all your caveats) is 100 to 120 years, as shown in the presentation of Zeke Hausfather at the Yale Forum (this would be at the upper end of your estimate)..

        And, for now, let’s ignore your statement that the“first half decays faster than succeeding halves”.

        If it decayed at the same rate, this would be at a rate of 0.58% of the concentration annually or 2.3 ppmv/year at today’s 390 ppmv, following a standard half-life equation..

        Interestingly, this is roughly the amount of CO2 that is “missing” per year on average (if we assume that human CO2 emissions are the only net “addition” into the climate system, as IPCC does).

        So this would mean that essentially all of the “missing” CO2 is disappearing from the climate system. (Where it is going would be a second question.)

        Of course, if you are correct in saying that “the first half decays faster than succeeding halves of what is left”, there would be an even greater amount that is leaving our climate system each year on average.

        Interesting.

        Max

      • Looks like my message got posted twice. Sorry

    • Aside from your rhetorical point, which is good, there is another technical point that needs cleaning up.

      The “residence time” point is a definitional problem. Some very simple carbon cycle arguments show that the average residence time of a single CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is like 10 years and there is no way that this turns into thousands of years. The correct measure is actually one of considering adjustment time, which is defined as the excess CO2 which has not diffused into deep sequestering sites. This in fact has no mean value and is the serious and pressing issue that the climate and the world will have to adapt to.

      • “excess CO2 which has not diffused into deep sequestering sites”

        Sadly, the CO2 activity does not suggest that the top of the ocean is stuffed to the gills with CO2 and the bottom slowly soaking it up.
        The denuding of oxygen by organisms metabolizing organic debris falling as snow might give you an insight.
        No, don’t bother. Just assume that everything is a thermodynamic equilibrium. Ignore life all together and just assume its all about chemistry.

      • Just assume that everything is a thermodynamic equilibrium. Ignore life all together and just assume its all about chemistry.

        Far from it. I solve the Fokker-Planck master equation for diffusion processes and this is what I get, a long-tailed adjustment time. The Fokker-Planck is a dynamic equation that considers conservation of mass and the kernel solution to the equation is used to show any kind of spatio-temporal behavior that you might be interested in.

        If you think this is chemistry, you have that right. I prefer to think that all science falls under physical laws and I use the physics that matches the problem domain I am studying.

    • This is an excellent point, Steve.

  42. Dr C

    You say this is a technical thread

    I do not see any technical content in Lacis’ post. It is an ‘argument from incredulity’ and ‘argument from appeal to intuition’.

    Namely:

    More specifically: (1) precise measurements show atmospheric CO2 has increased from its 280 ppm pre-industrial value to the current ~390 ppm; (2) there is available an accurate HITRAN tabulation of line absorption coefficients for all of the atmospheric absorbing gases; (3) we have available accurate radiation modeling techniques as well as capable global climate models; and (4) that 9 Gigatons of carbon (coal, gas, oil) are being burned each year (by us humans).

    None of the above, need necessarily add up to “global” warming.

    For instance, there is a model that indicates that, upto 5C of Southern warming, will worsen Antarctic sea, and eventually continental ice. (worsen = increase).

    The results are counter-intuitive, arent they?

    If intuition alone would lead us from increasing CO2 to “global” warming, we wouldn’t have to resort to ‘capable global climate models’, would we?

    If we believe in the process-driven climate model paradigm, where we plug in ‘known’ climate system subcomponents and let them run, we should be ready to doubt them as well, when do not recapitulate -observed changes-.

    If CO2 is such a overpowering factor, as Lacis claims, and the models fail to recapitulate observed temperature trends, it must be accepted that there are equally powerful factors which are not represented in the models, but present in the earth system, which are capable of keeping the putative CO2 effect in check.

    Secondly, it appears to me that Lacis, considering my previous experience with his comments, has

    [1] not given up his inflammatory terminology
    [2] appeared here so as to balance his own account book, on the charge that he provided ‘succour to the deniers’.

    Esp., regarding [2] above, we have ample evidence that ‘wanting to be seen as not providing support to the ‘deniers” is a powerful motivating factor for the actions of many scientists who wish to support or sustain the present orthodoxy. The recent apology tendered by the editor of Remote Sensing is a case in point.

    The present article, with its fact-free sermonising, and the open attempt at hitting all the right buttons, is another one, in the same vein.

    Lastly, I examined the Bishop Hill thread Lacis point to. What is quoted as being from Lacis, hardly squares with his remarks here. Does he mean to say that Greenpeace activists are likely to require caveats to be introduced into a statement attributing global warming to humans? I find that incredible.

    A more simpler explanation is, that his “intemperate” remarks, unfortunately were picked up by Bishop Hill and WUWT and Lacis ever since has laboured in climate penance, to be able to return as the prodigal son.

  43. Andrew Lacis

    If CO2 was the principal control knob governing earth’s temperature, how come there was no change in the global warming rate of 0.06 deg C per decade in 160 years of temperature data shown below?

    http://bit.ly/nw52EP

    Human emission of CO2 that has increased exponentially in the last century has not changed the global warming rate. As a result, its effect on global temperature must be nil.

    Please let us not confuse the CO2 in the globe with the human emission of CO2.

  44. The folks at NASA were recently unable to predict where and when a large piece of space junk would land – too complicated for orbital mechanics. Yet the scientific community apparently believes it can predict the earth’s future climate and the impact on mankind. Pure hokum; it is way too complicated.

    While this whole AGW exercise is undoubtedly fascinating from an academic standpoint, the actual problem remains: reasonably priced energy for mankind. To the extent that valuable resources are excessively diverted for “classroom exercises” and subsequent ill-conceived solutions to the speculated “bogeymen” (i.e. CO2) problem, then the real risk to man becomes ever greater.

    I suspect this comment will be scrubbed, but the scientific community really needs to get out of the Ivory Towers, consider the broader picture, recognize where the real threats lie and help develop ways to solve those problems. IMO, CO2 is not a pressing threat and we really can not do much about it in any case.

    • Yes, Mike. Well said. Thank you.

    • “The folks at NASA were recently unable to predict where and when a large piece of space junk would land – too complicated for orbital mechanics. Yet the scientific community apparently believes it can predict the earth’s future climate and the impact on mankind.”

      They predicted it would fall though didn’t they

      • K Scott Denison

        “They predicted it would fall though didn’t they”

        Yes, and I can predict the sun will shine tomorrow. Doesn’t mean I know anything about the climate 10 years from now.

        Are you really that naive? Are your standards for evidence of success really that low?

        Good thing the folks who design the products you use have much higher standards.

  45. “Yes and no. In principle, yes, you’re right. In reality, none of this climate science is so rigorous that there isn’t some room for debate, and so none of the arguments proffered are airtight. So reasonable people have to fall back on other information. One obvious place to look is to see if the person making the argument has the demeanor of a disinterested party, or is clearly on one side, and trying to buttress his position. Lawyers get paid to do that, scientists don’t, at least in theory.”

    This is exactly right. Thank you. If a man’s willing to cook up scenarios that border on the paranoid, I’m certainly not going to trust him. I’m not a scientist. I have to rely on my own experience and good judgment in a complex world of fiercely competing theories.

    Put the shoe on the other foot for a second. Suppose I made the wild accusation that establishment climate scientists are essentially bought and paid for the government, as well as various green businesses, foundations, and agencies whose interests are clearly served by global warming alarmism…

    Oh wait…

  46. “…(3) we have available accurate radiation modeling techniques as well as capable global climate models….”

    The CAGW movement rises or falls on whether one accepts unvalidated, unverifiable climate models, generated by CAGW true believers, as authoritative.

    As everyone seems to agree, there is nothing new here. Just another re-framing of the CAGW dogma.

  47. Andrew Lacis

    This is because CO2, like ozone, N2O, CH4 and CFCs, does not condense and precipitate from the atmosphere at current climate temperatures, whereas water vapor can, and does.

    The water vapor in the atmosphere varies from 1% to 4%, while CO2 is about 0.038%. At the highest water vapor condensation, the 1% water vapor is still 26 times than that of CO2. The increase in water vapor from 1% to 4% does not result in global warming, so does the increase in CO2 by 0.01 % ( a change from 0.028% to 0.038%) in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    • The increase in water vapor from 1% to 4% does not result in global warming, so does the increase in CO2 by 0.01 % ( a change from 0.028% to 0.038%) in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

      Girma, I hope you just made a naive mistake. Changing CO2 concentration from 0.028 to 0.038 is a 36% increase, not a 0.01% increase.

      • Girma, I hope you just made a naive mistake. Changing CO2 concentration from 0.028 to 0.038 is a 36% increase, not a 0.01% increase.

        The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere increased from about 280 ppm to a about 380 ppm. 280 ppm means 280*100/1,000,000 = 0.028 %. 380 ppm means 280*100/1,000,000 = 0.038 %. The increase in percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is therefore 0.01 % (=0.038% – 0.028%).

        WebHubTelescope, after 100 years of human emission of CO2, the atmosphere still consists about 78% Nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% Argon, 1% water vapor, 0.039% CO2, and other trace gasess. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere was 0.028%.

        http://bit.ly/ph4Ex3

        The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by only 0.01% since the beginning of industrial revolution.

      • Girma, Concerning your understanding on how percentages work, you really do have a naive take on things. A dopant in a semiconductor can be at the 1 PPM level, yet if you change something from 1 PPM to 2 PPM it could spell the difference between a transistor working well or not. However, in your superficial view, the percentage change would be 0.0001% and thus be inconsequential.
        If that is too hard for you to comprehend, ask your doctor to play around with your bloodstream’s elemental ion concentrations and see what happens.

      • I am only stating a fact:

        The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by only 0.01% since the beginning of industrial revolution.

        This could all be released by the sea due to the long-term global warming trend of only 0.06 deg C per decade.

        http://bit.ly/nw52EP

        WebHubTelescope, could you please explain to me why the global mean temperature touches but NEVER exceeds the upper global mean temperature for long in the last 160 years of data?

        WebHubTelescope, is it possible that the oscillation in global mean temperature between the upper and lower global mean temperature boundary lines are due to the thermohaline circulation cycles described in the following paper?

        http://bit.ly/nfQr92

      • @Girma…

        I’ve seen your first link (or very similar) used many times, and I always have the following question: why are you imposing a linear trend on the data, rather than, for instance, one with an exponential rise? For that matter, a bent line with its break point somewhere around 1920? Depending on the actual cause of the trend, either of these would be plausible, wouldn’t they?

      • AK

        why are you imposing a linear trend on the data

        Because all the peaks lie on a straight line, all the valley lie on a straight line, and these two lines are parallel!

        In addition, the slope of these boundary lines is identical to the global mean temperature trend for the data from 1880 to 2010.

        The oscillation between these two lines is due to thermohaline circulation cycles.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        AK, that’s the interesting thing… Girma isn’t “…imposing a linear trend on the data…”, rather he is OBSERVING that the trend of temperature peaks and valleys IS A LINE.

        Fascinating this idea of OBSERVATION versus IMPOSITION (MODELING). You might want to try it sometime.

      • @WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming…

        Girma isn’t “…imposing a linear trend on the data…”, rather he is OBSERVING that the trend of temperature peaks and valleys IS A LINE.

        And I’m OBSERVING that the data actually looks like it fits a curve or broken line better than the straight line Girma is imposing on the data. You can see the imposed line right there on the graph.

  48. On further review, the referees have determined that there may be something new, in this blog post, if not in the Science paper.

    “Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change.”

    The AR4 exaggerates uncertainty?

    And what about this: “All directly attributable to human industrial activity?” ALL? I thought I might be misreading that part , but the very next sentence rejects the IPCC claim that the human contribution to global warming is just “substantial” (the cowards).

    And here I thought we were supposed to be approaching a kumbaya moment of agreement on the need to acknowledge uncertainty in climate science. Guess not.

    But I do want to congratulate the author for at least using the more accurate term “global warming,” rather than re-framed terminology “climate change” (though I suspect an angry memo from Hansen of Schmidt on that point may be in the offing).

    • Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and thus causing global warming to happen – all directly attributable to human industrial activity.

      Watch the pea under the thimble.

      Based on this basic input data, the relevant physics is inescapably clear that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is indeed enhancing the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect,

      Ok so far.

      and thus causing global warming to happen

      Oops. I’d have been ok with causing some warming, but they just slipped a joker in the deck.

      all directly attributable to human industrial activity.

      What was the point of that?

      And then on to the sermon:

      To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change.”

      That’s not a scientific conclusion, that’s a speech.

  49. Andrew’s article is interesting. I don’t care about the use of derogatory terminology to describe the opposition, but he should at least be clear who he is talking about.

    The reliance on models is the main problem here. Apparently, it is not the models but paleoclimate that gives the sensitivity that Gavin Schmidt says is reliable. But there is a great deal of controversy about the paleoclimate estimates. We can’t even seem to get straight whether or not there was a Mideval warm period, much less understand the last glacial maximum.

    In any event, the case for the models is not nearly as strong as usually asserted in public forums. I won’t repeat what I said on an earlier forum, but a quick look at Paul Williams’ presentation on numerical errors in climate modeling shows a host of issues that would lead me to assign a rather high uncertainty to the model results, and then we have the uncertainties in the physical models themselves. Even the IPCC says that the understanding of aerosols and clouds is “low.”

    There are very technical issues here that I won’t attempt to go into. The history of computational physics has not been as successful as is often portrayed particularly if the effect is a small effect, like the ones we are talking about here. The path to improvement in the models relies heavily on better numerics and computers. This is difficult and not as lavishly rewarded as colorful fluid dynamics is, but is more important.

    What is needed here is better science and an attempt to quantify uncertainty.

    • Pinning the consensus down on the basis for their confidence is a game of whack-a -mole. If you criticize the models, it is paleo; if you criticize paleo, it is the basic physics; if you say the basic physics does not account for all the variables, they go back to the models, and on and on….

    • …but he should at least be clear who he is talking about.

      I think that this is a very important point – and I think that it extends much wider to everyone who participates in these debates.

    • There are simple energy balance models without the limitations you ascribe to GCMs, and which allow us to compute transient climate sensitivity values that match fairly well what the GCMs estimate for a climate en route to equilibrium. These results enhance confidence in the typically quoted ranges for climate sensitivity. Some of this was addressed in detail in the recent thread on probabilistic estimates of transient climate sensitivity.

      • ‘a climate en route to equilibrium’

        Would you describe the moon as being at equilibrium? It has no CO2 or H2O, and so it should be easy for you to calculate the moons equilibrium temperature. I can’t find it anywhere, could you tell me what is the moons equilibrium temperature?

      • Would you describe the moon as being at equilibrium? It has no CO2 or H2O, and so it should be easy for you to calculate the moons equilibrium temperature. I can’t find it anywhere, could you tell me what is the moons equilibrium temperature?

        Good exercise and I recommend that you go ahead and do the moon model. You will find a steady-state result which oscillates between extremes. There is a better name for this steady state result than equilibrium, and some people prefer to use the term quiescent value.

      • Equilibrium, like virginity, is absolute. A system at equilibrium is thermally isolated. The Earth is not thermally isolated, indeed, we know this by monitoring the light flux and temperature during the daily and yearly day/nigh, winter/summer cycle.
        Steady state is indeed the term. Moreover, when you realize that a system is a steady state, one can then know that the application of equilibrium thermodynamics is completely wrong and that one must use non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
        Still, the Climate scientists cleave to their box models, chemical equilibrium and averaging of cyclical processes.

        ‘some people prefer to use the term quiescent value’

        only those who have never studied any of the advances in control theory since the 70’s.

    • David, regarding:

      But there is a great deal of controversy about the paleoclimate estimates. We can’t even seem to get straight whether or not there was a Mideval warm period, much less understand the last glacial maximum.

      The reason for relatively large uncertainty regarding the Medieval Warm Period is not so much about reliability of the data as it is about the magnitude of the difference (if any) from today. The wealth of evidence currently available points to the latter decades of the 20th Century being warmer than the medieval peak but there is only a couple of tenths of a degree in it.

      There is greater than an order of magnitude difference when you shift focus to the LGM.

    • Excellent post, David. I would add that computer models have been great enhancements to industry, for engineers use them all the time now to complement product construction and to shorten the time frame from concept to production line.

      As everyone knows, however, GIGO, and therein lies the problem.

      As I see the situation currently, there are far too many unknown parameters and uncertainties in climate science to successfully construct a believable computer model; thus, it is highly inappropriate to rush to judgment, enact enabling legislation to “save ourselves from ourselves”, and cause economic ruin for many.

      Additionally, when a computer model indicates that the Medieval Warm Period did not exist, that raises a red flag for me, for the archeological record is quite definitive on this subject, i.e. its existence is bona fide.

  50. Andrew Lacis

    So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend

    Is the long-term global temperature trend 0.16 deg C per decade as shown below?

    http://bit.ly/oEJHAk

    Or is it 0.06 deg C per decade as shown below?

    http://bit.ly/nEUMsQ

    This is extremely important. What is the estimate for the long-term global mean temperature trend that the models are based on?

    • Girma,

      I think Andrew was talking about long-term global temperature trends in a general sense on that occasion, not a particular trend instance.

      Regarding what should be considered the long term trend for the present, the expected trend is dependent on the magnitude and changes over time of Earth’s energy imbalance. Across 1880 to the early 20th Century the energy imbalance was small, with a slight increase up to the middle of the century. From around 1960 the energy imbalance trend accelerated to something similar to the present so that seems to me a reasonable starting point for the ‘present’ long-term global average temperature trend. HadCRUT, Gistemp and NCDC records all report ~0.14K/Decade for 1960-2010 Your own suggestion of 1970 as the starting point seems reasonable too. Starting from 1880 doesn’t make sense though since the energy imbalance conditions were so different.

      Given the temperature trend acceleration in more recent decades (albeit with substantial sub-decadal variability, seemingly associated with the 11-year solar cycle), I would estimate the ‘current’ long-term temperature trend to lie somewhere within 0.13-0.19K/Decade.

      Figures a) and b) near the bottom of this link are estimates of forcing changes (which are the cause of energy imbalances) over time, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

      • Paul S

        What does the data show?

        Paul, if you draw a line through all the global mean temperature (GMT) peaks, you get the upper GMT boundary line shown below:

        http://bit.ly/nw52EP

        The fact that this is a line, not a curve with increasing slope with increasing years shows that there has not been any change in the global warming rate.

        A straight line also passes through all the GMT valleys, and this line is parallel to the upper GMT boundary line. These two lines are separated by 0.5 deg C.

        This oscillation of 0.5 deg C between the two boundary lines is due to thermohaline circulation cycles as described in a paper that Mann is a coauthor:

        http://bit.ly/nfQr92

        Note also that once the GMT reaches its the upper boundary line (the 1880s & 1940s) it bounces back and moves to the lower GMT boundary line. The same should happen after the current peak (the 2000s).

        That is what the GMT pattern for the last 160 years show.

        There is no evidence for ANY man made global warming so far.

      • Girma

        Sorry, the link was incomplete. It should be http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/

        The effects of the AMO are small in the Southern Hemisphere so it can be considered something of a control to check against. What you see with Southern Hemispheric temperature trends is very much a curve, with acceleration past 1960. Indeed I used an AMO time series to “correct” the Global Gistemp and HadCRUT records for this factor and the results were quite similar to the SH graph. This suggests NH temperature trends have followed a similar pattern but are masked by larger internal variability.

        Nevertheless the paper was interesting and, based on it, I’ve revised down my estimate of the ‘current’ trend to 0.09-0.17K/Decade.

        There is no innate reason why man-made global warming should occur at a higher rate than warming caused by other factors, so it is irrelevant to your last point whether or not the trend has increased. If anthropogenic warming factors (mainly GHGs) are balanced out by anthropogenic cooling factors (mainly aerosols) then there should be only a very small.man-made trend.

  51. One more comment. The thing that really disturbs me about all this, including the pejorative language is a question of scientific integrity. Presenting this material without error bars or some statements about the uncertainty is a basic integrity question.

    You know this leads to tremendous harm, because it can lead to incorrect decisions. One need only cite the subprime financial meltdown to see the harmful effects of incorrect assessments of risk and uncertainty. This is an example of dramatically underestimating risk and uncertainty. But still, Judith is correct to point out that the public presentation of climate science is very bad at communicating uncertainty. I know, you will say that the “deniers” will seize on any admission of uncertainty. But, you know integrity is not always rewarded in the short term.

    • David –

      I generally agree, very much, with your comment. However,

      I know, you will say that the “deniers” will seize on any admission of uncertainty. But, you know integrity is not always rewarded in the short term.

      I think that the dynamic is more complicated than that. “Deniers,” as opposed to the “skeptical un-convinced” (I make no presumptions whether individual “skeptics” fall on into either of those two categories ), also refuse to acknowledge the degree to which the “pro-AGW consensus” does acknowledge uncertainty.

      For example, while charges are frequently made that the “AGW-cabal” argues that the “science is settled,” in fact, you will find very few, if any, climate scientists who have made that argument. But even if you extend that argument to say that many climates scientists state with certainty their opinions that AGW is a reality, you must also acknowledge that the IPCC statement is that more than 50% of GW is 90% likely to be A. In that very important summarization of the IPCC’s work – we can see a recognition of uncertainty. Yet, claims that the IPCC refuses to recognize uncertainty are ubiquitous. I’m sure you’ve seen many. Have you not?

      • OK, I take your point. I’m just concerned that the main sources of uncertainty are not yet understood and measured. If you don’t understand, its hard to include them.

      • Point taken back at you.

  52. Be kind to mortally wounded warriors, it is The Last Hurrah for the Great Lost Cause.

  53. “And here I thought we were supposed to be approaching a kumbaya moment of agreement on the need to acknowledge uncertainty in climate science. Guess not.”

    What I’m not getting is why Judith posted this, especially given all her good work re the uncertainty monster. Finding fault with the IPCC for being too cautious is pretty stunning. She obviously knew this would incite a near riot. In thinking about it, it shows I think quite a bit of confidence on her end. I don’t think there’s another scientist around who could argue against climate certainty more effectively than Dr. C., but she hasn’t felt it necessary to do so, knowing full well the denizens would do the job for her.

    Of course I might be all wet. But for the moment it’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

    • pokerguy

      Posting “consensus” garbage might be a subtle ploy.

      Let the denizens rip it apart and stand back far enough not to get splattered.

      Outsourcing?

  54. Eric Ollivet

    Q. Fu, S. Manabe & C.M. Johanson have recently published (August 2011) a paper titled
    “On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models versus observations”
    (GRL, VOL. 38, L15704, doi:10.1029/2011GL048101, 2011).

    Summary and Conclusions

    [20] One of the striking features in GCM‐predicted climate change due to the increase of greenhouse gases is the much enhanced warming in the tropical upper troposphere. Here we examine this feature by using satellite MSU/AMSUderived deep‐layer temperatures in the tropical upper‐ (T24) and lower‐ (T2LT) middle troposphere for 1979–2010. It is shown that T24‐T2LT trends from both RSS and UAH are significantly smaller than those from AR4 GCMs. This indicates possible common errors among GCMs although we cannot exclude the possibility that the discrepancy between models and observations is partly caused by biases in satellite data.

    [21] IPCC AR4 GCMs overestimate the warming in the tropics for 1979–2010, which is partly responsible for the larger T24‐T2LT trends in GCMs. It is found that the discrepancy between model and observations is also caused by the trend ratio of T24 to T2LT, which is ∼1.2 from models but ∼1.1 from observations. While strong observational evidence indicates that tropical deep‐layer troposphere warms faster than surface, this study suggests that the AR4 GCMs may exaggerate the increase in static stability between tropical middle and upper troposphere in the last three decades. In view of the importance of the enhanced tropical upper tropospheric warming to the climate sensitivity and to the change of atmospheric circulations, it is critically important to understand the causes responsible for the discrepancy between the models and observations.”

    Fu, Manabe & Johanson paper comes to the same conclusions than Christy & al 2010 paper (Remote Sensing) that was already adressing “missing hot-spot” issue.

    Abstract: Updated tropical lower tropospheric temperature datasets covering the period 1979–2009 are presented and assessed for accuracy based upon recent publications and several analyses conducted here. We conclude that the lower tropospheric temperature (TLT) trend over these 31 years is +0.09 ± 0.03 °C decade−1. Given that the surface temperature (Tsfc) trends from three different groups agree extremely closely among themselves (~ +0.12 °C decade−1) this indicates that the “scaling ratio” (SR, or ratio of atmospheric trend to surface trend: TLT/Tsfc) of the observations is ~0.8 ± 0.3. This is significantly different from the average SR calculated from the IPCC AR4 model simulations which is ~1.4. This result indicates the majority of AR4 simulations tend to portray significantly greater warming in the troposphere relative to the surface than is found in observations. The SR, as an internal, normalized metric of model behavior, largely avoids the confounding influence of short-term fluctuations such as El Niños which make direct comparison of trend magnitudes less confident, even over multi-decadal periods.

    What is more interesting in Fu & al paper is that is that it is co-signed by Syukuro Manabe who is one of the popes of Climate modeling. So when he is pointing out “possible common errors” in the climate models… I guess he knows what he is talking about…

  55. Richard Drake – it’s not a matter of slack – unless one is truly desperate to attract Lacis or any team member to this blog. It’s a matter of COMMUNication and there is nothing in COMMON with a person who denigrates me as a human being. It’s more likely than not actually that all this effort had nothing to do with explaining a technical paper (David W rightly wondered why repeat the usual argument) and all with Lacis getting his name cleared from the evil association with Bishop Hill, conquering the world from rural Scotland. In that regard the decision to have this as a censored technical thread doesn’t appear very understanding, as if Judith had fallen for the usual manipulative tactics.

    • I’m happy to give Dr Lacis some slack, as I’ve indicated. I don’t see how you can infer that I am ‘truly desperate to attract Lacis or any team member to this blog’. What concerns me is the readability of this thread and any others like it. As for Judith, I suggest you are man enough (or woman enough) to say that she got it wrong, rather than make the mealy-mouthed insinuation at the end. I’m sure she can take it. She may also delete it. Either would be fine by me.

  56. Dear Andrew,

    You are using a model. In this model, you have formulated your conceptions about how CO2 would affect temperature, and how you would allow other forcings, such as clouds not to interfere. Modelling is the perfect circular reasoning: see the model shows that we are right. You only forget to mention that you made the model yourself. Take one of my models and try to tweak them to show the influence of CO2. I will guarantee that you will only find a negative influence on global temperature, since that is the way I have build my models. And still they fit the observed miniscule warming.

    It is utter nonsense to base the correctness of ones assumption, predisponitions on the results of models. I can model anything, and still get completely different relations or causations. And do not get back with the old meme that the model is based on physics. Never ever try that, since it is hubris. We still do not understand the complete system by far.

    • There is more to it that that. A model is a complex mathematical hypothesis. Should a model/hypothesis fail to describe some actual measured phenomena, then the hypothesis fails and the model should be trashed.
      If the models do not describe tropical temperatures, or ocean heating or the response to clouds; then they fail.
      As it is we are not dealing with ‘models’, as used in classical science. These are complex fits to known data-sets. These ‘models’ have the same amount of information as a polynomial fit, given they have been trained like performing seals. Any discrepancy between what the writers want in terms of W/m2 in or out is conveniently changed by unmeasured aerosol changes.

      • They are also trained to fit a one-time, non-linear historical temperature record that cannot be replicated. This is the equivalent of inducting that “all swans are white” after having only ever seen one swan. Hume would weep.

      • A GCM is not just a complex mathematical formulation. It is the numerical implementation or approximation of a large set of differential equations, which by definition are not optimally solved by binary arithmetic. As such, in its conception, it is already hubris to claim any accuracy for models. An analog model would be free from this error, but is very hard if not impossible to solve. That is why analog, symbolic solutions have been replaced by binary approximations, which are solved by iterations. Every iteration adds an error to the outcome of the in its origen abstract and well defined problem. And here comes the well known magic of parametrization of the model inputs. Tweak them until you get the outcome one would like to have from the model.

        QED.

        Impressive? Not really. Try to solve your differental equations analytically, they may end up with completely different solutions compared to the numerically obtained results. Have a look at Claes Johnsons site.

  57. I read Lacis’s paper to the 6th paragraph:

    “Because the solar-thermal energy balance of Earth [at the top of the atmosphere (TOA)] is maintained by radiative processes only, and because all the global net advective energy transports must equal zero, it follows that the global average surface temperature must be determined in full by the radiative fluxes arising from the patterns of temperature and absorption of radiation.”

    Dubious, I googled “must be determined by the radiative fluxes” and found a guest post by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT that questions that and other assertions, along with many reasonable comments. ‘Twould be nice to see Lacis reply to those criticisms as well as the critical comments here.

  58. Dear Andrew, the extremely long residence time of CO2 is based on the Bern carbon cycle model, which is extremely flawed. Their assumption about the capture of CO2 by biomass is off by a factor of four, which will invalidate their entire model. It furthermore ignores the fact that CO2 readily dissolves in water, especially at low temperatures and increased surfaces, such as in the top of clouds where the surface to volume ratio of tiny water droplets is more than 10000 times that at the surface. It will result in the down fall of CO2 much more efficiently than the Bern model assumes.

    Just to mention some of my concerns.

    Good luck with modelling, I just finished a model for my financial future.

    • Yes. Earth’s atmosphere is a CO2 scrubber. Ocean/bio is a giant reservoir. Cold global climates remove CO2 from the atmosphere – hydrosphere and biosphere store it, atmospheric CO2 sinks. Warm global climates cause atmospheric CO2 inrease.

      Atmosphere is tiny compared to hydro/bio-sphere, regarding content and human emissions are tiny compared to natural emissions, regarding flux rates.

  59. Dear Andrew,

    If the Bern model would be correct, that once released CO2 has a residence time of hundreds or thousands of years in thge atmosphere, why would we have to reduce or stop CO2 emissions? It will last hundreds or thousands of years before we can expect any effect of a complete shutdown of CO2 emissions. Warming would continue unabated, even under the most vigorous CO2 elimination schemes. Why waste so much money on a policy that you seem to agree with me that it would be utter nonsense to do so by any lack of results in the foreseeable future (ie in the life of me and my children)?

    • Warming would continue unabated, even under the most vigorous CO2 elimination schemes. Why waste so much money on a policy that you seem to agree with me that it would be utter nonsense to do so by any lack of results in the foreseeable future (ie in the life of me and my children)?

      That’s actually a sensible position. We usually just hope that the negative consequences won’t happen.
      I have had enough experience with devastating illnesses in my family. However harrowing the prognosis, I have never shied away from hitting the research and plodding through the experimental results, avoiding depression while looking for any glimmers of hope. Understandably, not everyone is willing to do this, just like many people don’t want to discuss mortality.

      • “Understandably, not everyone is willing to do this, just like many people don’t want to discuss mortality”

        I have a dog in this fight so to speak, but I will ask the question anyway.

        Given the projected aging of the Western population don’t you think that the 100’s of billions spent on the modelers and international piss-ups could have better spend on Dementia research or Parkinson’s Research?

      • don’t you think that the 100′s of billions spent on the modelers and international piss-ups could have better spend on ..

        I see you want to bring up Bjorn Lomborg’s favorite topic. Plenty of pro and con on that argument if you want to dig it up.

      • Dear WebHubTelescope,

        I just buried my son after I spent two years of experimental treatment on him, based on the latest insights in cancer research. And I swear by God,that I have tried everything what seemed reasonable. The billions that have been spent on proving a 0.6 degree Celcius warming per century could have been used much more efficiently, and to the benefit of millions of people. It is an utter shame.

      • Crackpot,
        Please accept my deepset symathy for your loss.
        Your comment puts this CO2 folly into a stark light.

  60. Bruce Cunningham

    The main premise of Lacis’ work is fatally flawed. As has been pointed out by some others, water vapor does not precipitate out. Rain merely lowers the relative humidity to a level that the current air conditions will support. At no time does all the water vapor present fall as rain. Even on the driest of days, there is far more water vapor in the atmosphere than CO2. Even after it has rained. Water vapor is variable, but never zero.

    • What Lacis means is that because of condensation and precipitation, water vapor is limited in the atmosphere by the temperature. CO2 has no such limitation.

      • Jim D,
        Do photons check the provenance of a particular molecule they come in contact with?

      • No, so the more CO2 you have in the atmosphere, the more photons interact with it. It is an effect that just grows with CO2.

      • JimD,
        Don’t avoid the point: photons do not care if water vapor can condense and precipitate out.
        By claiming there is some difference in the way photons interact with CO2 and H2O for their overlap, which is what Lacis implies, he is imply punting and hoping no one will notice the distraction and dissembling.
        Then he can toss in a few conspiracy theory grenades and head to the house.

        And Lacis still does not explain why CO2 goes up in the environment as a response to warming, not as a leading thermostat, and then does not lead to the runaway magical thinking the ‘team’ relies on.
        And then of course, we can discuss how a GCM model enables those who believe in it to attribute motive to those who disagree with the believer. And also how the GCM model empowers its believers to not only attribute motive but to prescribe the only acceptable cures for the problem they perceive.
        All in all a very powerful model, indeed.

      • hunter, read my reply to Bruce Cunningham below, where I explained the difference between H2O and CO2 and why CO2 is the control knob while H2O isn’t. You don’t need a GCM to understand this.

      • Jim D,
        The photons don’t care what is there, water or CO2.
        If they are at the appropriate wavelength, they will get absorbed by either.
        This entire conjecture by Lacis is silly and ignores the reality of Earth.

      • I keep saying I am not disagreeing about the photons. Both are GHGs, so of course they absorb and emit photons. Lacis is a radiative transfer expert. What didn’t you understand from his essay?

      • hunter,

        Can you please provide a cite from Lacis’s post or his paper where he either claims or implies that “there is some difference in the way photons interact with CO2 and H2O for their overlap”.

      • He makes a lot of noise about the behavior of CO2 being different from H2O.
        I am just wondering if he has an ID system in place so the photons know what they are to do?
        Since we know that vapor in the atmosphere is not directly controlled by temperature, he must have something new to offer. It would be interesting it photons know how they are supposed to behave with CO2 and H2O, particualrly in the overlap absorption areas.

      • He makes a lot of noise about the behavior of CO2 being different from H2O.
        I am just wondering if he has an ID system in place so the photons know what they are to do?

        His argument is nothing to do with photons, it is to do with the difference between condensing and non-condensing gasses.

        Since we know that vapor in the atmosphere is not directly controlled by temperature, he must have something new to offer.

        I don’t know if “directly controlled” is the right expression, there is certainly a relationship between the two.

      • CO2 has limitation by the temperature as well. The annual CO2 growth rate is much smaller in colder years. It tracks the temperature anomaly. So it’s temperature dependent.

      • Yes, if you found a way to cool the earth, some of the added CO2 would be absorbed back into the ocean and biosphere like in the Ice Ages. As it is, we are on the opposite track.

      • We are not on the opposite track. Earth’s surface has been cooling for ~10,000 years. The trend will not reverse.

      • You think that the Milankovitch orbital change effects are more important than CO2 in the last century. Interesting, but not a workable idea when you put the numbers in.

      • Orbital or solar or whatever, I don’t jump to conclusions. What’s robust is that the linear trend since the interglacial maximum is COOLING. At shorter, multidecadal/centennial timescales global temperature seems to variate (~1-2°C) without ceasing. We are entering a period of cooling. For how long, nobody knows.

      • Jim D,
        You are the one missing the point.
        Humidity can increase to saturation in very low temperatures, and can be very low in very high temps.
        To posit that CO2 controls water vapor is to ignore reality.
        Additionally, check out ozzieostrich’s excellent point down thread regarding a fallacy climatocrats seem to be making.
        .

      • hunter, ozzio seems to have forgotten that the ground is warmed by the sun, which in turn warms the atmosphere. The sun is his infinite source. Your own point doesn’t account for the ability of a warmer ocean to support more moisture in the atmosphere, because ultimately that is the balance that matters.

      • Jim D,
        I would suggest that you are not reading ozzie very carefully.

      • Why doesn’t ozzio see that the ground is net warmed by solar radiation and net cooled by thermal radiation and there is an equilibrium when you account for other fluxes too (as in the K&T budget)?

      • Bruce Cunningham

        Your point is even worse than Lacis’. The fact that infinite amounts of CO2 could be added to the atmosphere means nothing. You are saying that some possible scenario that could exist, but doesn’t and never will, is what matters versus what the actual state of the atmosphere is. Water vapor, CO2, methane, etc., are the source of the back radiation that slows the cooling rate at night. The total amount of GHGs at any given moment are all the photons react to, and at any given time there are more H2O molecules than CO2. Next question.

      • The point Lacis makes is that H2O can increase only when the temperature does, CO2 has increased because of fossil fuel burning recently, and so the warming from the CO2 increase can allow the H2O to increase and amplify its effect. This is why CO2 is a thermostat control knob, not H2O.

      • Jim, if you want me to take your point, please answer this question: Out here in the desert, away from agriculture, why is the precipitation/humidity not increasing since CO2 is increasing. The highs and lows are the same since the settlement of whites in the late 19th century. Thank you.

      • The H2O will increase over the oceans as they get warmer. Whether that gets to your desert is a different question. Maybe it won’t, because circulations don’t put there currently, and won’t in the future, but the global average will be higher.

      • Jim D,
        Now yo uare arm waving.
        Lacis made a specific claim that is not accurate: H2O is controlled by CO2.
        It is shown that is a false claim.
        Additionally, we can talk about the phantom hotspots and the ocean declining to cooperate with the team.
        CO2 is a non-thermostat, CO2 historically response long after temperatures increase, and CO2’s increase, historically, does not lead to ever more warming.
        This entire thread only shows Lacis as rude, and wrong.

      • Hunter, you don’t believe the globe cools if CO2 is removed, yet the last 100 million years seems to be demonstration of your being wrong. It wasn’t H2O being removed by weathering, it was CO2. How would you even remove H2O with the ocean being an infinite source?

      • Jim D,
        You are spending a lot of time defending Lacis and clarifying what he was saying.
        You are just guessing, since beyond bomb throwing he seems to see no need to communicate.
        If CO2 does not directly control water vapor, then he is less than clear in calling it a thermostat.
        The contrast between his paper and the guest post that was just made is not favorable to Dr. Lacis.

      • You probably understand that “thermostat” means CO2 is controlling the temperature. The water vapor is slave to the temperature. This is the main point of the paper.

  61. Your Figure 1 is a joke. Forcings, Feedbacks and plots that look Oh so scientific, almost like real statistical analysis.
    You, Schmidt, Rind and Ruedy are not scientists, you are imitative magicians. You think that if you mimic the style and presentation of actual scientists, you are actually performing science.
    Like the Cargo Cultists of Papua New Guinea, you build fakes and expect your magic to work.
    Not one single testable hypothesis is presented.
    Shame on you all.

    • I see a testable hypothesis:
      “Without the radiative forcing supplied by CO2 and the other noncondensing greenhouse gases, the terrestrial greenhouse would collapse, plunging the global climate into an icebound Earth state”

      Go grab a climate model and try to prove him wrong

    • Did you notice Pielke and Spencer subscribe to the same view as Lacis, saying this paper just states the obvious. What would you say to them?

    • Doc,

      I, too, cannot help but continue being amused by Figure 1 of our Science paper. There is only one scale (no x-scale). There is something that looks like a teeter-totter balancing feedbacks and forcings. Also, why are the ‘CO2′ and ‘Other’ bars made fatter so as to make them look heavier?

      Often the Science editor will suggest to the authors to delete half of the figures in order to shorten the paper. But not a single reviewer of the paper, or the Science editor, so much as made a comment, or hinted that there might be something funny or non-relevant about our Figure 1.

      The Figure does contain all of the basic information that summarizes the basic conclusions of the paper, allowing the reader to use his imagination as to what exactly Figure 1 signifies. Perhaps that is the magic factor.

  62. Judith,

    Hmmmm…science is settled, yet still do not understand this planet mechanically.
    Nor is their a desire to understand this planet as it has been made perfectly clear that the science is settled.

    • Joe,

      The science isn’t totally settled on the HIV/AIDs issue either.
      Nevertheless, I would still advise that you don’t engage in unprotected casual sex !

  63. May I interject a comment. We need to be kind to the author of this guest post and not spoil the dialogue. Judith is correct to let him post it, his point of view is one shared by a lot of good scientists.

    Please, please, don’t start with the “we shouldn’t give hiim a forum.” It’s not the right approach.

  64. It seems to me that some earlier comments in this thread reflect confusion about climate models – for example, are model runs “experiments”? The notion that the runs are “experiments” invokes arguments that are at least partly semantic, because it involves how one defines “experiment”. It is probably more important to ask whether they contribute to advancing our knowledge – an expectation we apply to experiments. In one sense, a model run is experimental in that it applies an independent variable to a system – the model input – and looks at dependent variables – the output. This is not as simple as multiplying 7 x 3 and asking what the answer is, because models are sufficiently complex combinations of basic physical principles, observations, and parametrizations that the person who supplies an input will rarely be able to predict what the output will be. In that sense, it is an “experiment” in the true spirit of the word.

    In science, it is rare for an experiment to definitively answer an important general question. Most experiments raise questions as much as they answer them, and those questions are typically addressed through additional observations. Model runs illustrate this principle. In discussing this, there has been a tendency to focus on the use of models for predictions, which leads to interminable arguments about their value based on how much or how little their output deviates from observational data. Those arguments need not be repeated here, because they will remain a matter of judgment, and therefore unresolved.

    What probably needs to be emphasized is that models have other important uses. Typically, a model is constructed to reproduce what the modeler sees as a representation of the physical principles and starting data determining real world climate behavior. If those values are entered accurately, the model should simulate the real world reasonably well, with due allowances for certain irreducible sources of uncertainty. Running the model is then a form of hypothesis testing that asks, “have we accurately represented the factors that dictate how the climate behaves?” To the extent that the results depart from reality, the modeler (“experimenter”) can alter parameters to see which alterations bring the two closer together. Once altered, the model can then be further tested in contexts other than the one which led to its retuning, and to the extent it continues to do better, the new parameter values have received some confirmation. This distinction between tuning and testing has sometimes been lost in discussions of model skill. There is never a final result from this, but rather an incremental gain in confidence about the values of real world phenomena used in the models. This is not unlike experiments in other scientific disciplines, where conclusive results from individual experiments are the exception rather than the norm.

    There is clearly much more to models than this, but many of the other aspects have been addressed in previous threads, including the enormous topic of verification and validation, with insufficient room here to revisit them within the space of a few comments. In addition, most basic climate principles are derivable without complex models, although without quantitative detail.

    Are model runs experiments? By certain narrow definitions, they are not. In a broader sense, when models are used to test hypotheses about the climate variables used in their simulations, they conform to the concept of an experiment as a means of performing tests to gain knowledge about the world around us.

    • Fred,
      The confusion is on Lacis’ side of the table.
      He thinks his models not only predict the climate, not only shows that a gas that responds after temperature rises is in fact a thermostat, but also tel him the motives of those who dare to disagree with him.

    • K Scott Denison

      Please Fred, provide a link to the paper that shows the output of climate models is validated and verified by observations. Otherwise, the modelers are missing the point and the models are nothing more than games.

      • I have a sawbuck that says you will say it’s hindcasting and doesn’t count, but here it is.

        http://atoc.colorado.edu/~dcn/ATOC6020/papers/Soden_etal_727.pdf

        It’s well cited, and there is lots more where that came from.

        Do you know how to use google?

      • Stirling English

        It is hindcasting. They wrote a paper in 2002 that looked at one small aspect of an event that occurred in 1991, and managed to get a result that matched the observations. And all their chums sad what clever boys they had been.

        Let me remind you of one thing about forecasting. You have to do it before the event. Not after. And to be a well-regarded forecaster,you have to get it right – in advance – pretty consistently.

        That you eed to dredge back nearly 10 years to find one paper that managed to get something right by using the benefit of that famous predictive tool – 100% hindsight – shows the complete paucity of acheievement in this field.

        The worry is that modellers and their followers are so deldued as to have genuinely persuaded themsleves that their work is of authentic predictive value. Poor deluded souls

      • So it comes down to this,

        They have to not only model the climate properly, they also have to model the world economy at the same time.

        That’s whay I think we should let the modelers determine their own validation and verification procedures.

        And the models are not of predicitve value?
        Global temperature has been rising since Hansens predictions in the early 1980’s, and considering the PDO hadn’t been discovered then, much less modeled, I think he got it right well enough in advance.

        And it took me like 2 seconds to find that paper.

      • K Scott Denison

        That’s what you have. LOL.

      • K Scott Denison

        Exactly which temperatures did Hansen forecast and for what timeframe? Ever heard of Nostredamous (sp?). He wa pretty good at being vague enough to ensure some of his predictions would be interpreted as correct too.

      • That’s your problem, you want exactly, when the best nature can give you is within the range of year to year natural variability.

        And since when is LOL a scientific argument?

        What’s more important, the trend in temperature or the actual temperature itself?

        I wouldn’t trust any V&V that didn’t have hindcasting as an important part.

      • K Scott Denison

        Bob, tell me which climate “scientist” forecast the current lack of warming. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

      • K Scott Denison,

        You got another problem, here it is with statistics.

        The current lack of warming is not a statistically significant trend.
        Any statistically significant trends to the current date show warming.

      • That’s right. hind casting only doesn’t count. Do you get it?

    • Fred,

      You ask “Are model runs experiments?” I’d say they weren’t and that “simulations” would be a better term.

      Its probably only a minor quibble on my part but I would say that it is important to be clear that there is a difference between these two terms. Climate science, like other branches of science such as astronomy, relies on observation rather than experimentation.

      • Latimer Alder.

        To name but two pretty obvious areas where astronomy uses teh ol idea of theiory –> experiment –> confirmation or not

        1. The Apollo missions were pretty good experiemental confirmations of astronomical theories of the composition of the Moon and the rejection of some others.

        2 We can use astronomy to make successful predictions of the poistions of the heavenly bodies for future times.

        There are plenty others.

        Please remind the aduience of any area at all where theories climatology have ever made successful predictions that have been actually subsequently veirified by going and looking and being found to be correct.

        Because if you cannot demonstrate this, you are nowhere near being a science…little better than astrology with lots of sciencey words attached.

      • Successful Predictions? I first remember reading about a potential AGW problem in the mid to late 80’s. I can’t remember if that was directly related to James Hansen’s warnings at about the same time. Since then despite talk of AGW stopping in 1998 there has been a steady upward climb.

        If you accept that CO2, CH4 etc are GH gases, and accept the basic principles of the GH theory there is no getting away from the simple truth that increasing the concentrations of these is going to make the Earth warmer.

        I would suggest the “Skydragons” know this too; and, which is why they are still plugging away trying to deny the link.

      • Latimer Alder.

        I don’t dispute that Arrhenius got it about right in 1907. Double CO2 and you get about 1.2C warming. Fine, no probs with that. A piece of squared paper, a slide rule and some simple sums tell us that. And I have seen no reason at all to doubt that – on balanc e- a warmer world will be a better world.

        But what happened with the remaining 104 years? What about all teh work of all the climatologists and teh liek beavering away for the last 30? What did we get for the estimated $100 billion spent in the US alone? What is it about climate that we know now (by experiment, observation and/or demonstration) that we didn’t know in 1907?

        Have we developed a whole new climate theory and by rigorous teting shown that it has predictive skill? Can we convincingly and numerically explain all the ups and downs of the recent temperature record? Can we explain all the observed sea-level changes?

        Has there ever been a climate prediction made since Arrhenisus that has been demonstrably shown to be accurate over a reasonable period (10-25 years)? (Please note that predictions are made before the event, not aftwerwards. If the latter they are called ‘hinsdsight’. Hindsight is not prediction. Do not confuse the two).

        Becasue if the best you can come up with is ‘it’ll get a bit warmer if we put more GHGs into the atmosphere’, then I think we need our money back. Cliamtologists are no better than palm readers if this is the best they can do.

        PS – Arrhenius won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Chemistry is an experimental science.

      • Latimer,

        You write “I don’t dispute that Arrhenius got it about right in 1907. Double CO2 and you get about 1.2C warming. ”

        You should do. You’re supposed to be a sceptic. Being a genuine sceptic, and there’s is nothing wrong with that, doesn’t just mean accepting the results you like and rejecting rest. It means looking at all results to see if they are valid.

        In this case, being sceptical of both this result and Arrhenius’s previous much higher result of 6 degC of warming isn’t a criticism of Arrhenius’s methods. He surely did the best with what information he had at hand at the time. However, science has moved on in 100 years and the the opinion now is that the true answer is somewhere in between. However it is worth noting that Judith has herself suggested figures of the likely range of warming which almost exactly match Arrhenius’s two estimates.

      • Latimer Alder.

        @tempterrain

        Arrhenius’ prediction is not complicated. It does not rely on supercomputers to solve, It is a simple equation and it is very easy to check if it has any predictive skill. You can see it here

        ΔF = α ln(C/C0)

        Today, we know delta F from global mean temperature readings. We know C and Co from Manua Loa raedings. Hence we can solve for alpha from our observations. Once we know alpha, it is a simple matter to derive delta F for a doubling of CO2.

        And the answer (1.55) is not far from Arrhenius’s answer of 1.2. Try it and see. The numbers are readily available from Google. and you need no more than rudimentary (11 plus level) skill in manipulating equations. It works. It has reasonable predictive skill for the future. You could have sat in 1970, and predicted the temperatures in 2010 reasonably well with it.

        If you wish to claim that Arrhenius is not a good predictor and we should use a much higher value than he did form an immensely complicated model, then you really have to come up with something a lot lot better than ‘opinion has moved on’. Like soem actual numbers. And some way of checking that thise numbers correpsond to reality.

        The sums do not lie. Arrhenius reasonably well describes the temperature history of the last 50 + years (since good CO2 numbers were available). IMO no other explanation comes even close. If you have compelling evidence that it does, please show it.

        And thanks for the little lecture on the nature of scepticism. I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that my support for Arrhenius’s ideas is based on something more than just the appeals to authority and post-hoc rationalisation that you so admire.

        PS – I still cannot get persudaed that lots of bad things will happen if the average global temperature increases from say 288.4K to 289.9K. Especially when most of the increase seems to come from slightly warmer nights,

        I like Arrhenius. He was a great chemist and his insights helped to found my own onetie specialty – physical chemistry. His work is clear and stands up today. You will, I am sure, forgive me if I am more inclined to believe in his work than in the convoluted and weasel words of the climatology mafia. And even more especially when the numbers show Arrhenius to be on the right lines.

      • LA,

        Is ΔF supposed to be the forcing or the temperature change? And α is a constant of proportionality. And, yes, we know that there is a logarithmic relationship with CO2 concentrations.

        I’m not convinced you know what you are doing here, so perhaps you’d like to complete your calculation?

      • If you do the sums correctly for the last 20 or 30 years, you get a sensitivity near 2.5 degrees per doubling. This is only assuming the CO2 rose as it did and the temperature rose at least .5 degrees. The values near 1 degree sensitivity fall short and only give 0.2 degrees warming. This alone should give pause for the proponents of low sensitivity, but I suspect they haven’t made this simple calculation yet.

      • Stirling English

        @tempterrain

        I’m sure you don’t need me to do elementary sums for you. The equation is quite clear. There are only three things you need to know to work out alpha. Once you know alpha, the temperature change for a doubling of CO2 is trivial to work out.

        Go find the figures from Google for Manua Loa and for the temperature anomaly change and do your own. Tell me if, and how, you come up with something far different for a temperature change of 1.5C for a doubling of CO2. Show your working.

        Helpful hint – the first reliable CO2 measurements for ML start in 1959. It might be a good idea to calcluate C/Co for 1959 vs 2010 and do the same for the temperature change. That way you get a nice long timescale to work with and it will smooth out any fluctuations..

        Look forward to hearing your answer. Do tell me if you get stuck anywhere and, as ever, I will give you another helpful hint.

      • Latimer Alder

        @jimd

        C02 (1959) = 316ppm, CO2 (2010) = 390ppm
        Temp change (1959–>2010) = 0.47 degrees

        Result = sensitivity for doubling = 1.55C

        If yours differ, please show where.

      • LA,
        CO2 in 1980: 340
        CO2 in 2010: 390
        Temperature rise 1980-2010: 0.5 degrees at least
        Sensitivity: 2.5 degrees per doubling.
        Before 1980 there was global dimming due to aerosol production growth, so a few tenths C was lost due to that.

      • JimD

        Also you need to consider that the Earth is not in equilibrium at present. In other words the Earth will take a finite time to warm, given the different forcing conditions. The current rate of warming is quite consistent with a climate senistivity of 3 deg (for 2x Co2)

        CO2 will double from pre-industrial levels under a BAU scenario by 2100.
        Current warming ~0.8 deg
        Warming at 0.15 deg per decade for next 9 decades ~ 1.35 deg
        Warming to follow even if levels stabilise ~ 1 deg
        Would make a total of over 3 deg C

        Latimer and Stirling,

        Are you different people or the same person? Anyway, yes, I, and I’m sure others, do need you to do some “elementary sums”!

        If you can’t, people might then think you do not really know what you are talking about.

      • tempterrrain, agreed, this is an underestimate by neglecting lag in an accelerating forcing, and neglecting possibly further increasing aerosol effects.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterraain etc.

        I did the sums a la Arrhenius accordig to the data observed and I got 1.55.

        You added a bit here for aerosols (non-quanitfied), ‘corrected’ for non-equilbrium at the end (non-quantified and ignores non-equilibrium at the beginnig). One of you didn’t even bother to look for real data – just stated ‘at least 0.5C).

        and lo and behold you came up with a higher number. Plus a lot of unquantifed hand-waving guff about future perils.

        Arrhenis works. It reproduces the observed temperatures pretty well. I don’t state his work is perfect or the last word, but until you acn coem up with a better theory that you can show by comparison with actual observational data works better, then I’ll go with Svente rather than you.

        @tempterrian – that’s what I mean about experiemental science. You go and measure things, not just pontificate about them ‘being consistent with’. Savvy?

      • I would add that 0.15 degrees per decade, which is the current rate, is somewhat lower than it is expected to be when the CO2 production rate gets up to double what it is now by mid-century, so we could easily see 3 degrees between 2000 and 2100.

      • Latimer Alder

        Since you guys are determined to frighten yourslees stupid with lots of predcitions about predictions about what might happen and to add mysterious and unquantified corrections to the simple bit of mathematics that actually looks at real data, then I’ll leave you in fantasy land from here on this thread.

        Just to remind you..Arrhenius gives a good description of the actual observed data. Everything else is guesswork.

        Without real data, you are just handwaving wildly. Ciao

      • Latimer,

        You’ve still not got the right answer. If you can show your working , maybe I’ll be able to spot where you’ve gone wrong.

      • tempterrain

        Climate science, like other branches of science such as astronomy, relies on observation rather than experimentation.

        Not really, tt.

        Climate science (as practiced by the mainstream purveyors of IPCC) relies on neither, but rather on model simulations based on theory and hypothetical deliberations.

        That’s the problem.

        Max

    • An ‘experiment’ on a model can tell you about the model. It cannot tell you anything about the real world, except insofar as the model has been rigidly matched and linked to the world at its component and assumption level by prior testing. Even matching of results to observations cannot tell you anything about the objective world, since there is a large, perhaps conceptually infinite, number of models that can emulate real world behavior over limited ranges without any correspondence elsewhere, and depending on processes which do not match real processes.

      A model can extend. It cannot discover.

  65. Dr. Curry,

    You posted a comment above as follows: “The fact that Andy Lacis reads the blog and provided a guest post demonstrates to me that he has an open mind.”

    Posting a guest post here does not in my opinion show an open mind. Responding to the questions raised by that post in the comments that follow, however, would.

    I realize this was posted on a Sunday, so the absence of any comments by Andrew Lacis so far is not so surprising. But I wonder if we may expect any participation by its author in resolving some of the questions regarding his post raised in the comments above in the next day or so?

  66. “You posted a comment above as follows: “The fact that Andy Lacis reads the blog and provided a guest post demonstrates to me that he has an open mind.”

    A good host is always gracious.

  67. I do assume that this is a typical consensus opinion.
    Thank you for posting this. It is good to read the Consensus Climate Theory Position, from time to time. That does more to support our skeptic Theories more than anything we can post.

  68. I’m really struggling with Lacis’s above introduction to this paper.

    Andrew Montford quoted Lacis as saying in his 2005 AR4 review suggestions:-

    There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community – instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda.Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.

    Lacis now attempts to explain his criticism by saying:-

    I was irked by the persistent use of wishy-washy terminology such as ‘likely’ and ‘very likely’ that was totally uncalled for. One example: “It is likely that there has been a substantial anthropogenic contribution to surface temperature increases in every continent except Antarctica since the middle of the 20th century.”

    Such ‘social sciences’ terminology might be allowable if there was no other available evidence for global warming except for the statistical analysis of a relatively short global temperature time-series (on which there is superimposed a substantial natural variability component). But the physical evidence for global warming is quite overwhelming, and it is downright irresponsible (and stupid) not to make use of it.

    It’s very hard to enter into a discussion of the detailed science when the raison d’etre of the paper seems to be founded in a complete piece of doublethink.

    Have I misunderstood something here?

    • Foxgoose,

      If you have misunderstood, it could be that you’d not previously considered the possibility that criticism of aspects of IPCC assessment reports isn’t at all the same thing as a complete rejection of them.

      • tt

        criticism of aspects of IPCC assessment reports isn’t at all the same thing as a complete rejection of them.

        Correct. Not a “complete rejection” but a “partial rejection”.

        I’d say that fits pretty well for any of the skeptical posters here – they only reject a “part” of the IPCC reports.

        Whether that is 50% or 90%, it still remains only a “partial rejection” rather than a “complete rejection:

        Max

      • Max,

        Well I’m pleased to see you are making some, albeit slow, progress. Even if you now accept 10% of the IPCC reports, it’s 10% more than it was a few years ago. Maybe you’ll get there in the end.

        Mayy

  69. I do not understand why non-condensing gases act (net) as forcings and condensing gases (net) act as feedbacks. Why doesn’t water vapor act as a forcing as well? Why wouldn’t we all bubble away? What phase of the water cycle does water dominate feedbacks and not forcings?

    • Condensing gases can’t exceed their saturation point, which is a function of temperature, so the temperature acts like a ceiling.

      • I thought that condensing gases saturation points were a function of both temperature and pressure; hence, in a particular atmosphere, or in a particular GCM grid cell, adjacent cells may have different quantities of water because of different pressures even at the same temperature. Nevertheless, saturation points do not describe the phase of the water cycle where water can be considered a feedback instead of a radiative forcing. Water, to my understanding can absorb IR in multiple bands and should be acting as a forcing along with non-condensing gases. Is there a specific phase of water that dominates and becomes a feedback?

      • I didn’t mention pressure because that is not a variable for a column. An Arctic column holds less water than a tropical one. Water vapor is not a free variable in the climate system because it depends on ocean evaporation and air temperature. As Lacis mentioned, they tested doubling and removing water vapor and it just returned to its equilibrium state without a lasting climate effect, which proves it is not an independent forcing, but a result of the climate temperature.

    • Condensing gases, primarily water vapour, do make up a large part of the greenhouse effect. If the temperature falls, they will condense out. Then there is less of them. If the temperature rises, more evaporation will occur , and there will be a greater concentration in the atmosphere.

      This is what is meant by positive feedback.

      • They do not necessarily condense out of the atmosphere.
        They may change phase states and stay in the atmosphere as water or ice clouds.
        This obtuse excursion by you believers is rather tedious.
        The lack of reliance on observations is what is going to finally finish unraveling the nasty social mania of AGW.
        Reality is the ultimate skeptic, and AGW fails reality.

      • The clouds are important. It is good you remembered them. They contribute to the albedo.

      • Jim D

        Yes. Clouds contribute to the albedo, i.e. they are, in themselves, an important forcing (Soencer, Palle, Svensmark, et al.)

        We still do not know exactly what makes them grow or recede (CERN may give us more knowledge on this question), but it appears pretty clear that it is not simply a function of temperature.

        Max

      • Yes, I give up on this being a technical thread

      • tt,
        Here is the definition of positive feedback:

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

        This does not seem to fit your definition.
        Care to clarify?

  70. There is a film coming out called ‘Anonymous’. It has the premise that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was the true author of the works of we attribute to William Shakespeare. The hypothesis is that William Shakespeare. was a front, and as nobility could not be associated with the theater, Oxford needed subterfuge to have his work played.
    Now the people who present such an hypothesis do so, in the same manner that climate scientists present forcings and feedbacks.
    Shakespeare was an ‘oink’, a peasant, a no body and yet Oxford had Royal blood in his veins. Obviously, a genius cannot appear out of common, base, stock and so therefore; Oxford wrote the plays.
    The logic is the same here. The temperature is rising, humans MUST be involved, human emission of CO2 is the mechanism. Like assuming that only nobility can produce noble works, These spoiled children of the 60’s think the world is about them and their species; it is not.

    Horatio:
    O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

    Hamlet:
    And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167.

  71. Arfur Bryant

    Dr Lacis,

    [“Noncondensing greenhouse gases, which account for 25% of the total terrestrial greenhouse effect…”]

    Can you confirm this means you think that ‘noncondensing greenhouse gasses’ (NCGG), which amount to less than 0.04% of the atmosphere, contribute appx 8.25 deg C of the (appx) 33 C Greenhouse Effect (33/4)?

    Can you also confirm that, therefore, back in 1850 when the NCGG amounted to appx 0.028% of the atmosphere, the NCGG would have been responsible for 8.025 C of the GE (32.1C/4)? Where 32.1 represents the current GE less the 0.9 C warming since 1850.

    Can you therefore explain why a 40% increase in NCGG (mostly made up of “the single most important climate-relevant greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere…” has only contributed an unknown portion of the 0.9 C warming observed in the last 160 years?

    I would appreciate your explanation.

  72. I don’t see any lack of writing skills – I think you’re wriggling a bit there.
    What I do see is a complete logical and ethical failure in presenting his reasons for writing the paper – which, taken with his own statement that there’s nothing new in it makes it quite clear that the paper was only written for propaganda purposes.

    Just a tour d’horizon of climate science’s “greatest hits” – cobbled together to get him off the hook of his previous injudicious (but presumably honestly meant at the time) remarks after they were dug out and circulated by the Good Bishop Hill in 2010.

    • What I see is an attempt to label information as propaganda because you don’t like it.

      Still wanted to go around claiming water vapor made up 98% of the greenhouse effect did you?

      • Come on, Lindzen hasn’t corrected his comments. I;m sure he knows the science. Noone clings to this idea. It’s just an incorrect comment. Rather like scores of others, like he Himalayan glaciers will be gone in 30 years. The issue is how to make climate science more believable to the Chinese and Lindzen has some great suggestions along these lines. It is a shame how he has been marginalized by the team. We need better methods and better science. The line at RC is just ridiculous and a “denial” of he problem.

  73. My last comment of 7.04 was a reply to Brandon’s timestamped at 6.47 – it seems to have shot back up the running order for some reason.

  74. Dear Andrew,

    It is really not very helpful to label people who disagree with your highly politicized view as:
    Quote:Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions. End quote.

    If all you have to show is the outcome of your models, for which you know what went in en should come out, this is not science. It is garbage, IMHO. It is a shame that this has been published in Science. A model can never be used to prove that your hypothesis is right and that your theory is the only explanation for an observed phenomenon. Many other theories might do a similar or even better job, based on completely different principles. Nice examples are the recent revelations about a possible influence of the activity of the sun in combination with cosmic rays on cloud formation. No CO2 needed to explain the warming/cooling in recent history. Only a different model is needed. No “overwhelming evidence” for AGW, rather than an overwhelming proof of the singlemindedness of climate research, IMHO. The butcher testing his own meat, so to say.

  75. Judith,

    Congratulations for inviting Andrew Lacis to make this contribution. Not because I happen to agree with him, but because he has the credentials to express a qualified opinion.

  76. Tweaking of climate models to match observations is reminiscent of the epicycles, equants and deferents invoked by Ptolemy to ‘explain’ and support his theory of geocentric, perfect circular planetary orbits. His resulting approximations were reasonably plausible at the time but still fundamentally wrong as demonstrated by Kepler’s analysis of Tycho Brahe’s data.

  77. ozzieostrich

    I have looked at the tutorial link provided by Dr Lacis. His explanation of the “greenhouse effect” contains the following :

    “The global-mean surface temperature of the Earth is observed to be 288 K (60° F). Why is this so much warmer than the 255 K effective temperature of the thermal radiation emitted to space? The reason is that the Earth has an atmosphere that contains gases that absorb thermal radiation. These gases are distributed throughout the atmosphere, and they also must maintain energy balance on a local scale, meaning that the same amount of radiation absorbed (e.g., from the ground), must be re-emitted (in both upward and downward directions) so as to maintain constant temperature. This radiative process of localized absorption and emission of thermal radiation establishes a temperature gradient within the atmosphere, and in so doing, results in heating the ground surface to a higher temperature than would be the case with no atmosphere. This is the greenhouse effect, and it keeps the surface temperature of the Earth 33 K (60° F) warmer than it would otherwise be for the same 240 W/m2 of solar heating.”

    This contains a wonderful piece of sleight of hand, and a couple of pieces of subtle linguistic misdirection, to show that the impossible is really occurring right in front of your eyes.

    First the sleight of hand.

    The Earth absorbs solar radiation, and its surface temperature rises.
    So far so good. Now the sleight of hand.

    Dr Lacis tells us that gases in the atmosphere that absorb radiation (e.g. from the ground), must re-emit the radiation to maintain constant temperature. Not true. The alleged GHG is not obliged to be any particular temperature. It it absorbs radiation, its temperature will rise.

    It will then radiate heat until it achieves thermal equilibrium with its surroundings.

    But here’s the real trick. The radiation absorbed by the alleged GHG must come partly from the ground, in order to justify the “greenhouse effect”.

    I have a question for the good Doctor, when thermal radiation is emitted from the ground, what happens to the ground’s temperature?
    Does it : –
    a) increase
    b) decrease
    c) stay the same.

    Now if the temperature decreases due to the radiation emitted, then no amount of reflection or re-radiation short of 100% can maintain the ground temperature at its pre radiation levels, let alone cause it to rise.

    In the case that the good Doctor insists that the ground temperature either increases or stays the same, I suggest he will find many supporters on the Perpetual Motion blogs and forums.

    He has discovered a wondrous infinite source of renewable free energy, and no doubt will be forever remembered as the discoverer of the “Lacis effect”.

    Or maybe not.

    Now for the linguistic misdirection.

    Again, I quote Dr Lacis directly.

    “This is the greenhouse effect, and it keeps the surface temperature of the Earth 33 K (60° F) warmer than it would otherwise be for the same 240 W/m2 of solar heating.”

    You will see the misdirection. “. . . warmer than it would otherwise be . . ”
    You are led to assume that this is occurring during the day, when in fact the reverse is true, and also assume that “. . . warmer than it would otherwise be . . ” means that the temperature has risen.

    No it hasn’t. The atmosphere acts as an insulator, as even warmists like Chris Colose now realise. Insulators do keep objects “warmer than they should be” but the reverse is also true. They keep objects cooler than they would otherwise be.

    As attractive as it might be to imagine that there is a way of somehow multiplying the heat emanating from a body to raise its temperature without additional external energy, it is impossible.

    All the talk of forcings, feedbacks, he said, she said, “you’re an idiot”, “no YOU’RE the idiot”, is wasted effort.

    If the atmosphere becomes a better insulator for any reason, the diurnal temperature variation will diminish.

    • ozzieostrich,
      Excellent point: without the atmosphere, day on Earth would be about the same as day on luna: something over 200.0 F.

      http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_daytime_temperature_on_the_Moon

      And nights would be amazingly colder.
      The atmosphere moderates temperatures.
      Why has the climatocracy ignored something as obvious as this?
      I came at this from a different direction a few months ago, posting some links to how insulation on pipes works, but go little or no response.
      Your example is more direct and hopefully less difficult to ignore.

      • ozzieostrich

        Hunter,

        Thank you. I am sure that the climatologists will continue to believe in magic.

        I believe Sir Isaac Newton was a devoted alchemist and believed in the transmutation of metals and the luminiferous ether.

        Therefore, a climatologist who believes in something like “the greenhouse effect” can claim intellectual parity with Sir Isaac, who also had some bizarre beliefs, as judged in the light of current knowledge.

      • ozzieostrich you are very welcome. Post more, please.
        When one considers how many times the climatocracy depends on talking about ghg while ignoring the moderating effect in cooling of the atmosphere, and what a totally transparent atmosphere would like, the more annoying this silly AGW games gets.
        Do these climate guys get out of the nice tax payer funded labs at all, or do they live in a virtual world 24X7?

      • Just a word in defence of Isaac Newton. He was certainly right on the question of transmutation. That is possible in a nuclear reactor. To some extent Einstein also re-invented the ‘aether’, after first abolishing it, so it does seem rather harsh to say Newton’s beliefs were ‘bizarre’.

      • hunter,

        Why has the climatocracy ignored something as obvious as this?

        ISTM there are two possibilities here. That the “climatocracy” has completely ignored a very basic and obvious fact which undermines their understanding of atmospheric physics, or that they are well aware of this obvious fact and it is entirely compatible with their understanding of atmospheric physics. Which do you think is more likely?

      • aa,
        After reading Lacis, and observing the tenacity with which he and his peers demonstrate deliberate ignorance in other areas, I would say it is a toss up.
        But since Lacis decided to dwell on a bizarre thermostat that works, historically, backwards through time, perhaps he was too distracted to consider the atmosphere’s acting as an insulator.
        And since I do not see papers many papers talking about the moderating impact of the atmosphere, only scary articles about how a tiny part of the atmosphere is going to kill the climate, maybe you could answer the question?

      • hunter,

        As a general rule I tend to assume that if a particular fact is so obvious that even a layman like myself is aware of it then those who have a professional interest in such matters are probably aware of it and have taken it into account. I also tend to assume that if that particular fact appears to be at odds with my understanding of the subject in question then it’s probably my understanding which is at fault. So I’m going to go for “they are well aware of this obvious fact and it is entirely compatible with their understanding of atmospheric physics.”

        But let’s say that I’m wrong and that the entire climate science community is having a collective face/palm moment because they have not up to now taken into account the fact that a planet without an atmosphere has a far greater diurnal temperature range than a planet with an atmosphere. How would that change our understanding of atmospheric physics and the greenhouse effect?

      • aa,
        Mine is pretty good: I don’t think that insulators are going to cause us to cook.
        After reading Trenberth and his Monty Python approach to science earlier this year, and now Lacis’ sad attempt to be open minded and talk about the vast fossil fuel conspiracy, I am finding the AGw community rather pitiable. I am not certain I really care what fallacies they are engaging in on a particular day.
        They seem to find so many.

      • hunter,

        Surely that might depend on how efficient an insulator it is?

    • “If the atmosphere becomes a better insulator for any reason, the diurnal temperature variation will diminish.”

      And with best insulator the temperature is what?

      Isn’t that the same as blackbody.

      It’s not the definition of blackbody:
      ” all incident radiation is completely absorbed; and
      in all wavelengths bands and in all directions (isotropically), maximum possible emission is realized.”

      http://weather.cod.edu/sirvatka/blackbody.html

      but what is difference if one had something with a perfect insulation- not that this is possible but neither is something absorbs all radiation and emits all radiation.
      Planet are nearly perfectly insulated- vacuum is best insulation one can get.
      Space is the perfect insulator and perfect “blackbody” except it’s “nothingness” rather than a thing.

      So if planet is well insulated? Or a planet can absorb all radiation and
      is near perfectly insulated, what is it temperature?
      Wouldn’t be near the blackbody temperature- dependent on distance and temperature of the Sun.

      I would say a earth which was perfectly insulated wouldn’t get very hot- except that it’s molten core couldn’t cool, and therefore this would heat transfer to the surface and be same temperature on the surface as 50 miles below the surface.

      There is theory regarding Venus:
      “There is clear evidence that a catastrophic resurfacing event occurred on Venus in the relatively recent past. A primary data source for this resurfacing event is the spatial distribution of impact craters. In this paper, we apply the pair-correlation technique to the observed crater distribution and find that the result is identical to that for a random distribution. In order to test the sensitivity of the technique, we also apply it to the spatial distribution of coronae on Venus. For the coronae, we find substantial deviations from a random distribution. One explanation for the catastrophic resurfacing is the episodic subduction hypothesis. We model episodic subduction using a thermal boundary-layer stability analysis. We find that episodic subduction events with intervals of 500 to 700 Myr can transport only 15–25% of the radiogenic heat produced within the planet. We suggest that the remainder of the heat must be lost to the surface during a period of vigorous tectonic activity, following the subduction event but prior to the subsequent stabilization of a global lithosphere.”

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103599960840

      Every so many millions of years Venus surface become an ocean of lava- or so the theory goes. Perhaps one could say Venus’ atmosphere provide as much insulation as several miles of rock. Perhaps heat isn’t as concerned about whether it’s rock or atmosphere- it doesn’t have a human bias.

    • So which is greater?

      The diurnal temperature difference on the Earth or the Moon?

    • Now if the temperature decreases due to the radiation emitted, then no amount of reflection or re-radiation short of 100% can maintain the ground temperature at its pre radiation levels, let alone cause it to rise.

      I don’t pretend to be an expert on this subject but I think you are forgetting the fact that the surface temperature is maintained by continually receiving energy from the sun.

      • At night?

      • Sure, the surface cools at night, but not as much as it would do in the absence of GHG’s.

      • It is astonishing how many people there are who do not understand this fact. Downwelling Long Wave Radiation at night has been measured, and the data can be downloaded and analyzed (for example, from the TAO/TRITON data.)

      • aa,
        It is cooling more slowly because of the insulating effect of the atmospehre.
        But it is cooling.

      • hunter,

        I agree. What I don’t get is how this contradicts anything which Andrew Lacis or indeed any mainstream climate scientist has said.

      • aa,
        Because if something is cooling, it is not warming.

      • hunter,

        If something is cooling to a lesser extent then is it not warmer at any given time than it would otherwise have been? And more pertinently Lacis and most mainstream scientists seem to reconcile the fact that it is cooler at night with the existence of an enhanced GH effect from increased GHG levels. Hell, so can I for that matter. And it’s not just about what happens at night, it’s about the overall energy balance.

  78. Alexander Harvey

    I think that Andrew’s Paragraph number 6 needs more consideration. It sets strict limits on the amount and nature of “natural” variability. If the view asserted in this paragraph is the not correct much of the remaining argument falls. What bothers me is that the given answer is the simple consequence of the given question. Which is fine if the question is correctly posed.

    The paragraph sentence by sentence:

    “(6) Natural (unforced) climate variability is the principal reason for the uncertainty manifested in the largely unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations that occur on regional spatial scales, and on inter-annual and decadal time scales.”

    He starts with a definition of “natural” that precludeds any forced variability, and so precludes radiatively forced variability.

    “Arising from changes in advective energy transports and poorly understood interactions with ocean dynamics, this is where uncertainty reigns supreme.”

    Is this more than identifying a sufficiently large source of ignorance and uncertainty to explain away the natural variation without having to account for it.

    “However, these advective transports must globally add to zero, and the unforced fluctuations are necessarily fluctuations about the global equilibrium reference point.”

    This asserts the existence of a global equilibrium and atates that mass and energy are conserved.

    “Nature conserves energy very carefully.”

    This states energy is conserved.

    “Hence, large deviations from the global equilibrium cannot be sustained.”

    This conclusion does follow from the preceding assertions.

    “So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend, but its effects on local and regional climate will remain the main source of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.”

    This last sentence summarises but I do not think adds anything much that is not previously stated.

    This is all very well provided that two key assertions are correct, that the only source of natural variability is unforced and that a global equilibrium exists.

    By unforced varaibility I understand him to mean that there is no causal radiative forcing, no radiative imbalance acting to produce or enhance the changes in global temperature. Hence I infer that an increase in temperature would correspond with a cooling event. Cooling in the sense that the total heat content would be decreasing when the temperature variation was positive. Is this known to be the universal case?

    If there are any multidecadal natural varaitions e.g. if the PDO is such a variation, the implication seems to be that the positive temperature phase is a cooling event, that all the heat required to raise the globally average temperature for a decade or three has come from within the system and funds not just the raising of the surface and subsurface temperatures but the resultant radiative loss into space. Is this known to be the case?

    The same logic would imply that unforced negative temperature variations would be warming events. If negetive is to be interpreted as below the forced trend then perhaps the current lull in temperature gradient would imply a warming event. That the negetive (relative to trend) variation is due to an internal mechanisms taking heat from the surface at an enhanced rate. I.E. the failure for the surface temperature to rise would correspond to an acceleration of the rise in OHC, not merely a continuation of the preexisting rise in OHC but a positive spike in it.

    This all turns on what is meant by unforced. If he means, as I have suggested, that it precludes any and all changes in the global TOA energy balance other than as a response to global temperature rises then I think what I have described follows from that assertion.

    It is not at all clear to me why the TOA balalnce should not change for reasons other than as a response to temperatures. Could it not change as a result of variations in system variables other than the temperature or just spontaneously e.g. stochastically? Could it not change due to a variation in modes or patterns of surface temperature that preserve the global average?

    Perhaps it is known that the natural variations in surface temperature are all due to unforced mechanisms, otherwise it is simply an assertion. If this point and the existence of an equilibrium can not be shown to be case then the rest of his paragraph is unsupported.

    Alex

    • Alex – I found your comment interesting as always, but more so because I had mentioned somewhat similar issues in my first comment in this thread.
      As you know, Isaac Held recently discussed the relative contributions of forced and unforced variations to global surface temperature change in terms of the direction of changes in ocean heat content. As he pointed out, a dominant unforced contribution to surface warming relative to forced trends would be expected to be accompanied by a trend of declining OHC, which is inconsistent with the observed trends averaged over the past half century as evidenced by mixed layer temperature measurements and sea level rise. Empirically, certain phases of ENSO are known to be associated with trends at the ocean surface that are the reverse of those at deeper layers, consistent with the notion that a positive surface warming is at times an ocean cooling event. However, the situation is complicated by multiple other factors that include delay in the response of global temperature to regional ENSO phenomena, and the triggering of feedbacks that can heat or cool the ocean in the same direction as surface trends rather than opposing them. Whether any of this applies to longer term fluctuations such as the PDO is something I’m unaware of, although I did cite a reference above suggesting that the PDO may not be completely unforced.

      Regarding your statement, “Perhaps it is known that the natural variations in surface temperature are all due to unforced mechanisms, otherwise it is simply an assertion”, I assume by “natural variations” you mean ENSO, PDO, AMO, etc., because obviously natural changes in solar irradiance or volcanic aerosols are recognized as forcing mechanisms.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Fred,

        Thanks for listening and still finding it interesting.

        I must confess that I struggled with that key posing by Isaac, it simply never occurred to me that the long term fluctuations, (longer than ENSO) could be considered to be totally internally funded. I do not know the correct term to use but I think my “internally funded” gets the idea across. My suggestion above is that it corresponds to Andrew’s “unforced” or “natural”. I do not actually know what he implies for certain.

        I think that my notion of totally internally funded is applicable to the Dessler description of ENSO, or if not totally at least overwhelmingly.

        As you noted in the case of ENSO there are associated changes in the ocean temperatures that indicate a cooling component associated with the rising SST. It is my suspicion that a secondary, subsequent enforcing response is plausible with some narrow limits, again see Isaac’s second to last post which I think would be number 17.

        Isaac also addresses, most recently, the amplitude of any stochastic TOA forcing. This I would consider “natural” but my understanding is that Andrew excludes that possibility if his “unforced” corresponds to my “internally funded” for it is clear to be that such noise flux could be considered as being equivalent to an imposed forcing. Here again my terminology is not up to the task. Viewed as fluxes across the boundary layers this noise would be a TOA funded, TOA driven, or TOA forced, and his “natural” would be fluxes funded by variation in the heat content of the oceans, terrestial subsurface, biota, and atmosphere. Isaac puts some value to this noise flux in terms of equivalent uncorrelated monthly averaged flux. I think it is clear that the existence of such a flux is incompatible with my understanding of Andrew’s and also perhaps Dessler’s position. Isaac’s value for this flux is modest but perhaps not insignificant. My understanding of Andrew’s defintion of “natural” is that this flux has to be zero which I sincerely doubt is the case.

        In order to make a comparison, I will introduce the other extreme position that the amplitude of the TOA noise flux is the exclusive source of natural global temperature variation. For this the standard deviation of the monthly averaged uncorrelated or white noise of flux might need to be around ~2.5W/m^2 a figure 2-4 times the values Isaac gave. In this case the PDO, AMO, etc. would be emulated as stochastic variations. I share doubts in the area that you do in that I am not sure how much of the PDO or if any of the AMO is more than a stochastic fluctuation,

        This opposed view, that such variations are radiatively forced does not I think lead to low values for the sensitivity, in fact arguably the opposite that it is compatible with very high values of sensitivity. Nor is this view incompatible with the notion that the much debated IPPC attribution claim is unjustified, rather that it is fair in that half the warming could be a 2-sigma event. This is just a view for illustration that I feeel no need for the notion that a little or even any a lot of radiatively forced variation is incompatible with the accepted median for the sensitivity or its range. All roads do seem to lead to Rome.

        Strangely, in the S&B vs D affair, in terms of what was actually published as opposed to the hyperbole. It was not Spencer that adopted either of my extreme positions, those being either nothing or all, but Dessler did seem to, and in doing so upped the ante on the amplitude of noise flux, in this case across the ocean boundary. I recall values around 9W/m^2 for this. This flustered me. I could make no sense of it at all. The Dessler refutation is stated boldly, if it is perceived to be the orthodox or consensus view, and if unchallenged by others than the heretical it should be, and it is demonstrably wrong I shall not be best pleased.

        My understanding of Andrew’s para 6 is even less appetising. If I have understood correctly his uncaveated assertion is incompatible with the notion of a TOA noise flux and is in fact likely to be false. That there are more things in heaven and earth and a forced component to natural variation in globally averaged surface temperatures is one of them. I have no means of knowing what people think or why. If his statement are shown to overstated which is another term for wrong and this comes back to haunt us, I shall be considerably less than not best pleased.

        Sometimes I wonder…

        Alex

      • Alexander Harvey

        Fred,

        I have already found one mistake:

        Nor is this view incompatible with the notion that the much debated IPPC attribution claim is justified, (not unjustified), I suspect there are others.

        Alex

  79. My eyebrows point north whenever I read comments like the following from “scientists”…

    More specifically: (1) precise measurements show atmospheric CO2 has increased from its 280 ppm pre-industrial value to the current ~390 ppm; ……………….. and (4) that 9 Gigatons of carbon (coal, gas, oil) are being burned each year (by us humans).

    In describing quantities, we go from parts per million to GIGATONS.
    Whooooooo scary big numbers them gigatons. I wonder how those big gigatons compare with the natural carbon cycle?

    I’d expect these sorts of statements from activists, green groups such as WWF and Greenpeace, not scientists in a science paper.

  80. K Scott Denison

    Wonder how many climate “scientists” use stock market models to guide their investments and if their financial performance has been better or worse than average? Certainly stock market and economic models are far more mature than climate models. Given the faith climate “scientists” place in their climate models with respect to guiding policy that will impact all of us, they must also be using models when investing their own money, right?

    • Mr Denison,

      You logic being that its impossible to model the stock market accurately, and so make money from the models, so its impossible to model the climate too?

      The first part is just an assumption. There certainly are people making money from the stock market and if they do have good models the last thing they’ll do is tell anyone about it. Everyone can’t make a profit.

      On the other hand the climate doesn’t care what we think. It doesn’t even know, or care, that what it’s doing is against the US constitution :-)

      • Latimer Alder.

        @tempterrain

        ‘There certainly are people making money from the stock market and if they do have good models the last thing they’ll do is tell anyone about it.’

        which makes an interesting and telling contrast with climatologists who have much faith in ther models and proclaim from the rooftops every jot and tittle of ‘evidence’ that they produce as if it was Holy Writ.

        But in the Stock Market, we must assume that the good models have some predictive power and a decent track record of success- nobody gives a rat’s cuss what happened yesterday – it is knowing what will happen tomorrow that is the important question.

        But climatological models have yet to demonstrate any predictive power whatsoever. And the observable tendency for all climate modellers to run away and hide under a stone if anyone suggests that such an exercise might be a great way to show how good they are does not build confidence that a stupendous exhibition of predictive skill is just around the corner.

      • Stock market models are great for predicting short moves, but suck at long term predictions (sound familiar?). Also, when they go wrong, they tend to go dangerously wrong, and as a pack. They are one of the reasons the stock markets have imposed “circuit breakers” to stop trading when volatility hits a certain point.

        http://mystockmarketnews.com/stock-market-news/how-stock-trading-has-changed-since-911-ap/

        Fortunately, we have circuit breakers for climate models as well. We call them elections.

      • K Scott Denison

        Bingo GaryM.

  81. OT, but technical: I recall several studies/reports to the effect that climate scientists can not make long term regional forecasts. I’d appreciate if someone could give me some references so that I can rebut some very specific long term claims re regions of Australia.

    A front page story in today’s Australian newspaper says that:
    “Our alpine parks face a hotter and drier future, with up to a quarter less rain and snow forecast for the region by 2050.

    “The first official update on the state of the Australian alps in more than half a century warns that the region’s dwindling snow melt and run-off will threaten the Murray-Darling’s $10 billion lifeline to clean, reliable water supplies.

    “It calls for more than $100 million in extra funding over 15 years to help the alpine parks adapt to climate change, starting with the eradication of brumbies, deer and other pests.

    “The report, commissioned by the federal Climate Change Department, found that the high country straddling Victoria, NSW and the ACT was not sufficiently resilient to cope with climate change on top of land degradation.
    “For an environment of climate change, there were too few sub-catchments assessed as good and improving,” the report says.”

    A second story (p 11) on prospective food shortages in Asia over the next 25 years says that “solutions” will be needed “as climate change brings more extreme flooding, storm tides, and probably drought in the great rice-growing deltas of South and Southeast Asia.” (That looks like an each-way bet – flooding AND drought.)

    I’d like to respond to these stories, but don’t have a record of the relevant articles, several of which have been referenced at Climate Etc. Thanks.

  82. David L. Hagen

    Andrew Lacis
    Compliments on pubishing/posting your perspective.

    In science, ALL the data has to fit, not just some of it.

    See David Stockwell showing a phase lag of 90 degrees (2.75 years) for the global tempreature lagging the solar cycle, especially in Fig. 3. of: Key evidence for the accumulative model of high solar influence on global temperature David R.B. Stockwell, August 23, 2011

    Stockwell also finds a similar Phase Shift in Spencer’s Data

    There appears to be a similar phase lag by the CO2 behind the annual solar insolation. See Fred Haynie’s slides for the data.

    All three appear to me to indicate the solar forcing leads the temperature – CO2 by the 90 degrees phase expected from a solar radiatively forced cyclic thermal system.

  83. OK all. Now for some light relief with physics, laws, and sleight of hand.

    I assume most people here will know Ohm’s law, and will correct me if I misuse it. (This is like saying “See, nothing up my sleeves”)

    The story : –

    One of the problems with Direct Current is that it needs to be converted to Alternating Current and usually raised in voltage to power most domestic appliances – refrigerators, washing machines, TVs and so on.

    The solution: –

    Luckily we can buy inverters that convert low voltage DC to appropriate higher voltage AC. (the voltage and frequency standards vary from country to country.)

    Now we purchase a 5 kw inverter, to power our house from DC. We notice that the unit consumes 7.5 kw, so we will design our input on this basis.

    We will use a 12 volt DC power supply.
    We need 7500 watts, so Ohm’s law tells us we need 7500/12 amps.
    This will give an internal impedance of 0.192 ohms, thus satisfying Kirchoff’s law.

    There are commercial and non commercial electrical and electronic modelling applications available, although they are usually designated “simulators.” I guess this means the modelling is good enough to believe.

    So get your software and plug in the figures. The science is settled in respect to Ohm’s Law and Kirchoffs Law. You will be able to read out power dissipation, voltage drops and so on.

    I probably should stop there, some of you are about to dissolve into paroxysms of mirth, no doubt. But I will go on further.

    I have just discovered that my battery bank is actually 8 volts rather than 12 volts. No matter – input new parameters, internal impedance has changed a little. No problem.

    Now it occurs to me that 9 volts is better than 8 volts, and considerably cheaper and more readily available. My simulator shows 12 volts works, and 8 volts works. Ohm’s law is linear, no nasty exponents here!

    So I model a 9 volt input. Success!!

    So, my modelling shows that, based on the application of settled science,
    known physics, and proven models, I can power my household with up to 5 kw of power from a 9 volt battery. Luckily, I have a few spares for my domestic smoke alarms.

    Can I now disconnect myself from the power grid? Please note that I have used Ohm’s Law and Kirchoff’s Laws correctly, and any commonly available electronic simulation software will verify my results.

    Once you have stopped laughing, think about “the greenhouse effect.”

    Hope I haven’t wasted too much of your time.

    • You do know that cables rated to carry 625 amps are bigger than the terminals of a 9 volt battery, right?

      And tell me, what does that have to do with the greenhouse effect.

      • bob droege

        Please do not take offence, as certainly none was intended.

        To answer your second question first, the object of the exercise was a light hearted attempt to show how a completely misleading conclusion could be arrived at, in spite of immaculate logic supported by mathematics and proven science. Also to demonstrate that modelling software can uncritically provide impossible answers if provided with impossible inputs.

        You will have noticed that both Ohm’s and Kirchoff’s Laws have been complied with, and have been correctly used. AGW supporters often use similar methods to arrive at impossible conclusions.

        The sleight of hand I used was to lead the reader to an obviously impossible conclusion by letting the reader seize on details, while not realising the physical impossibility of the proposed solution.

        It has obviously worked.

        To answer your first question, yes I do. That you would accept that a 9 volt domestic smoke alarm battery could deliver 833 1/3 amps is not surprising. Yes, I was hoping that somebody would work out the amperage based on 12 volts, and overlook the fact that in the meantime one input parameter, (the voltage,) had been reduced from 12 volts to 9 volts.

        Once again, no offence intended. It is very easy to miss the forest for the trees, as they say.

      • bob,
        You missed the point:
        ozzie’s experimental example, deliberately tounge-in-cheek, was no more ludicrous than Lacis’ serious paper.

      • No, hunter,

        You missed the point:

        My response was directed towards ozziesostriches worst example of debunking the greenhouse effect.

        We have gone over this countless times, yes Virginia, there is a greenhouse effect.

        You guys have to come up with something better than “not there isn’t”

  84. Well anyway, on behalf of the board, I would like to thank Andy for allowing us to share in the celebration of the one year anniversary of his paper, and for sticking around to answer questions.

  85. Michael Larkin

    I’m not a scientist, which is why in general I refrain from commenting on threads explicitly labelled as “technical”. Having said that, there are a few things I think I feel reasonably comfortable commenting on. One is that I have been surprised that some have defended climate model runs as “experiments”.

    IMO, one can call the running of a model an “experiment” in the limited sense that one may not know exactly what the outcome will be if one starts with specified parameters. After the run, one can then examine the outcome and draw inferences, certainly, but at this point, those inferences can’t be applied to the real-world system that the model is modelling.

    As soon as one tests those inferences against the real-world system being modelled, then I would say one is in the realm of what one can properly think of as experimentation. If the model can with reasonable accuracy duplicate past observational data, as well as predict future observational data, then we have a useful model.

    Suppose we get to a stage where many runs and comparisons of generated data with real-world data have shown the model consistently mirrors the world with high fidelity. We might then decide to have some new run where we tweak starting parameters to have values not yet observed, but predicted to occur at some time in the future in the real world, and note the outcomes. But even at this point, we haven’t performed an “experiment” in the usual sense of the word. We still have to wait until the relevant starting parameters eventuate (naturally or artificially-induced) in the real world and test whether the outcomes there match those predicted by the model.

    IOW, we can’t assume that just because the model has proved accurate in the past with hindcasting and forecasting, it will do so in the future. We still have to do the testing and validation, because, for all we know, at some time the modelling assumptions might break down.

    I think I see a parallel between the idea of a model and a hypothesis, for what I have described is how I believe hypotheses are tested. If a hypothesis stands up to scrutiny in the light of real-world observations, then its utility is enhanced, and at some point it might be labelled a “theory” or even a “law”. But even theories that have withstood huge amounts of experimental testing might still be invalidated.

    So where do climate models stand? Are they hypotheses that have stood up to experimental scrutiny? My understanding is that first, there are different models, i.e. more than one hypothesis, each differing from the others, and they generate different outcomes with the same starting parameters. My reflection here is that there is only the one real world, and hence there is at most one climate model that can be right. Second, the climate system is, by all accounts, chaotic, and ever-so-slightly different starting conditions can result in drastically different outcomes.

    I’m not quite clear whether climate models mirror this chaos. I’ve read about “ensembles”, and am not sure whether that refers to averaging outputs from different models, or averaging different outputs from the same models given the same starting conditions. If the former, then it seems absurd averaging outputs of a number of models, only one of which could possibly be correct. If the latter, the chances of the outputs matching the real world climate system would seem to be small.

    Putting that aside, has any climate model (“hypothesis”) actually hindcasted or forecasted accurately? My impression is that this is doubtful, though I stand to be corrected.

    One hears of dire predictions of sea-level rises which don’t seem to be eventuating, of stasis in global temperatures that weren’t predicted, of claimed ad-hoc appeals to aerosol effects, etc., and that’s without going into the general atmosphere of hostility to people like me who genuinely think the case for harmful AGW effects looks shaky. It’s palpable nonsense to characterise me as a dupe of Big Oil or part of some right-wing conspiracy. I’m simply trying to understand within the limits of my capacity to do so.

    What I seem to draw from “establishment” sources is a dismissal of my doubts as being uninformed (and/or insults); and explanations of the science that are either sketchy on the one hand, or too technical on the other. Very few with technical awareness seem to be able to pitch the science at a level that is intelligible to the reasonably intelligent layman, many of whom, like me, do in fact have a degree of scientific training if only at first degree level in an unrelated area.

    Why isn’t there out there someone who possesses not only expertise in the science, but an awareness of the needs of the intelligent layman? The nearest I’ve come across happens to be a sceptic, viz. Willis Eschenbach, who at his best can put across science clearly (not to imply that sometimes he doesn’t go way over my head). Why must reasonable questions on certain blogs that express doubt on specific issues be greeted with accusations, sneering, dismissal or censorship?

    We who are not cognoscenti can often in these circumstances do little more than compare the situation with more readily understandable areas. Where else, we think, do we find that doubt is greeted with insult, where to doubt at all is considered to make one an untermensch, a “denier”? Where else do we find a cabal of influential proponents exchanging communications aimed at suppressing opposition they thought would never see the light of day, or influential bodies set up in such a way that alternative viewpoints are effectively excluded?

    Why is a scientist, Andrew Lacis, even mentioning “denier” in his post? We can argue, justifiably in my view, that Judith shouldn’t censor him, but if he wants to win friends and influence people – as someone else has put it – he’s going the wrong way about it. He’s his own worst enemy, neither explaining his science intelligibly for the layman, nor treating him with respect. And he’s not alone – with the exception of a few scientific voices like Judith’s, the establishment meets scepticism, in its proper sense, with hostility, not with temperance and clarity.

    It’s long been my empirical observation that someone who is actually certain whereof he speaks is likely to remain calm, patient and careful to avoid making insults, or even to risk appearing to do that.

    • K Scott Denison

      Well said Michael.

      And why climate “scientists” seemingly do not make forecasts that can be tested versus observations indicates to me the desire not to put the models to the test.

    • Michael – Your questions are appreciated and require a response. Many comments in these threads that I perceive to be in error are assertions rather than questions, and unless they refer specifically to something I’ve said, I usually refrain from responding, based on the proposition that it’s not my job to correct everyone else’s mistakes, even if I were capable of that. Your genuine interest in advancing your understanding comes across as refreshingly different. Let me say a few things about models in response to your comment.

      First, I hope you’ll visit my earlier comment on models as experiments for some perspective. Current GCM type models are imperfect tools for prediction.. Whether their skills at hindcasting (most model efforts) or forecasting (Hansen) are “good” or “bad” is a matter of judgment, but it’s not controversial that they should be improved. However, model utility and model testing don’t just involve prediction. In fact, it is routine in model development to test model ability to simulate “control climates” – i.e., climates without forcing changes due to greenhouse gases, the sun, aerosols, etc. The purpose is to evaluate model ability to get the seasons right, ocean and atmospheric transport right, hydrology and water vapor right, and so on. Part of the process involves adjusting model parameters within limits dictated by observations and the principles of physics so as to coax the simulations into good agreement with the real world climate. In some cases, the models do fairly well to start with, and in other cases, parametrizations are needed as, in essence, estimates of average climate behavior that mimic processes at very fine scales even though each individual element can’t be estimated exactly. An example is cloud behavior, which must be parametrized because models can’t reproduce every cloud type, extent, height, and duration within one of the grids into which the globe is divided. The result of this process is a model that the modeler hopes will reproduce the real world climate in the absence of imposed changes (such as in CO2, solar irradiance, etc.). The control runs are often done for intervals of hundreds of years, and will reproduce unforced climate behavior fairly well (the summer is warm, the winter cold, Miami is warmer than Alaska, dry regions and seasons are dry and rainy regions and seasons are wet, etc.. They also do poorly on some specifics, such as ENSO, which remains a challenge. The consequence of all this is that some aspects of climate behavior are reasonably well validated in the models even when predictions of climate change are not being made. The fact that the models can be made to simulate unforced climate behavior is of course only a first step in enabling them to simulate forced climate change, but because it involves validation against observed data, it is informative at least in terms of the unforced phenomena in showing that the models have probably estimated the real world phenomena with reasonable accuracy.

      The above refers to complex GCMs. Many simpler models exist that simulate specific phenomena quite well and can be validated as accurate by observation and measurement.

      I realize this doesn’t address all your questions, but I hope it offers you a general overview. I also happen to agree with your point that Andy Lacis, in using the term “denier”, was being unnecessarilyg provocative. However, his scientific points are quite cogent, and he avoided inflammatory rhetoric in the published paper.

    • Why isn’t there out there someone who possesses not only expertise in the science, but an awareness of the needs of the intelligent layman?

      That’s just pathetic.You can’t have looked very hard. There is lots of information out there. Just take a look at Wikipedia for starters and follow the links from there.

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

      • Wikipedia’s strength is its links, but it is always worrisome what has been excluded. Wikipedia’s great weakness is its gatekeepers and the element of bais they bring to the project. As Uncle Joe is famously said (and yet probably not – but that’s a neat story all its own), “Whoever casts the votes has none of the power, he who counts the votes has all of the power.” I don’t let my students use it as a reference without at least two other sources.

      • Wikipedia is biased on the Global warming issue. No doubt about that. They are the same on all scientific issues and don’t generally give equal space to dissenting opinion.

      • Latimer Alder.

        Read this.

        Focus on the name William Connolly.

        http://lce.folc.ca/2009/12/20/wikipedias-green-doctor-william-connolly/

        Then tell us about wikipedia again with a straight face.

      • Michael Larkin

        Tempterrain,

        You illustrate very well exactly the kind of attitude I referred to. How do you know how hard I have looked? How do you know what particular things I find difficult to understand, not necessarily because they are inherently difficult, but because the writer presumes that certain things obvious to him are obvious to me?

        I’m still trying to sort out what “forcing” means, for example. I’m not at all convinced everyone means the same thing by the term, and not even sure it makes sense as a concept. Since my degree and a certain amount of postgraduate research was in zoology, I’m used to a particular concept of feedback, and no one talks about “forcing” there. So why is this term used? Maybe it’s perfectly obvious to you, and if so, good luck to you.

        Don’t bother trying to converse with me again. I’ll just ignore you.

    • Latimer Alder

      Excellent points, clearly and calmly expressed.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      For what it’s worth, I was working on diagnosing a bug in a program earlier today, and I asked a friend what he’d recommend doing. He told me to try “experimenting” by changing the values of some variables. I do so, and eventually I found the bug (I wasn’t reinitializing a variable in a loop properly). This was an experiment even though the program I was working on had no connection to the real world.

      I really don’t get the fuss about Andrew Lacis using the word experiment.

      • K Scott Denison

        Brandon, it is simple. You are using “experiments” to talk about testing and debugging your model. Laces using “experiments” as if they describe real world behavior, which they do not.

      • KSD,

        Brandon seems to think that running experiments on his model grants the model itself as qualifying as an experiment.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        K Scott Denison, I haven’t seen anything which indicates he uses the word that way.

    • Extremely good post Michael. You may as well have spoken for me.

  86. Andrew Lacis wrote: (3) Water vapor and clouds account for about 75% the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, but are feedback effects that require sustained radiative forcing to maintain their atmospheric distribution. Their radiative effects are accurately known. The magnitude of their feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.

    1. If the inaccuracy is 10%, then the models probably can not accurately predict either the transient or equilibrium climate response to an increase of CO2 accurately enough for policy purposes.

    2. I doubt that the energy-transporting effects of thunderclouds, summer squalls, cyclonic storms, monsoon rains, etc. are known with quantitative precision.even approaching 10% Are they? I wrote in earlier threads of my doubts that the Clausius-Clapayron relationship ever holds in any area of land that is warmed in the morning through late afternoon, and then cools through the night. I would welcome references that prove me wrong.

    • David L. Hagen

      Lacis asserted: “The magnitude of their feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.”

      Reported evaluations of climate sensitivities have ranged from 0.5 K/doubling to > 5 K on doubling CO2. ie a range of > 1,000%.

      It appears that Andrew Lacis neglected to evaluate the bias or systemic!uncertainties involved.

  87. The idea of CO2 as a thermostat is a joke. Clearly you believe that the effect of CO2 is not saturated and therefore lies in the (essentially) linear region of the response curve. I understand a thermostat exactly – you turn a knob and the temperature goes up a certain amount and then it stays there. And yet – the temperature shows no apparent near-linear response to increases in CO2, certainly not recently. I also understand what ‘no statistically significant difference’ means – it means flat. It is as I have said many times here. Yes, increased CO2 has an effect in the laboratory; yes, radiative transfer; etc, yes, yes, yes. All of this works, except when it doesn’t, and I object to your tone with this audience. I do not believe you, or any other climate scientist for that matter, understand nearly enough about the interaction of all the diverse elements of the atmosphere, never mind their being overlaid on cyclic effects that reinforce at irregular intervals to speak authoritatively on the subject. If your understanding is so great, validate your models. That should be a piece of cake.

    • chip

      Crank up the thermostat and throw open the windows and doors, cover the heat vents with dirty laundry and clog the furnace filter with dust.. oh, and have an unseasonal blizzard outside..

      And you begin to approximate an analogy for the climate.

      Do your laundry and put it away, change your filter, close your windows and doors, and you’ll see the house is warmer, blizzard notwithstanding, while you can afford to pay your utility bills.

      The flat or decreasing decadal temperature outcome is not unprecedented, neither in the much-longer timespan periods of large overall global temperature rise we see historically nor in the GCMs.

      Holding fast to the “but it’s cold today” argument is just an indication of a closed minded approach to the analysis.

      If you only say it on the cold days, you’ll only say it about a third of the time; if you only remember the cold days, you’re cherry picking.

      The long term observations simply do not correspond to your claims.

      • Interesting. So my thermostat is incapable of heating the great outdoors, eh? And it only works within the controlled conditions of my house. Thank you for making my point. If he wants a thermostat, then he should have a thermostat – the analogy remains totally inept. And a logarithmic potentiometer is a joke as well – find me a household thermostat (that’s what he’s talking about) that has one. The fact remains that Dr. Lacis is talking down to us, assumes we are ill educated buffoons and hopes to wow us with his pronouncements from the mount. When hundreds of billions are to be spent, credentials are no longer sufficient for credibility.

      • And his handwaving about politicians is farcical. It reminds me of the movie “Real Genius” where the laboratory scientists, being told of the potential lethality of their high powered laser, say that they just do the science, they’ll leave the applications to the engineers. In the meantime, I am betting he is still flying to conferences (correct me if I’m wrong).

      • chip

        Yes. I too appreciate your contribution to our exchanges, thank you.

        Stretching any analogy far enough, piling on enough extraneous elements, and we will see the collapse of reasoning. Like beating a dead horse on the front porch.

        Every experiment derives entirely all its power in the scientific method from appropriate simplification by analogy.

        The Oil Drop Experiment replaced a subatomic particle with a drop of oil, and in so doing allowed precise measurement of the mass of the electron.

        Galileo replaced the planets with balls dropped from some Italian edifice.

        Peano simplified all of mathematics with a handful of postulates.. now there was an experiment!

        Turing and Boole turned ideas into bits, an experiment that has opened more insight into the Universe than can be easily described.

        So, yes, mice in the walls can derail even the most elegant model.

      • chip

        Sure. Earthbound CO2 is incapable of altering the temperature of space very much.

        Which would be pretty much the opposite of your point.

        Agreed the analogy cannot be extended indefinitely; it’s the job of analogy to simplify cases, not to account for every exception that can be monkeywrenched into their workings.

        If you need to monkeywrench, discuss the actual, not the analogy.

        All household thermostats are, btw, in effect logarithmic at some (usually hypothetical) level, as eventually the furnace will not keep up with the heat loss to the outdoors, and that rate is approximately logarithmic. This is, of course, an excursion from Lacis’ analogy, because everyone loves trivia, and has no relevance especially to this discussion.

        Whether you feel Dr. Lacis is talking down to you (strangely, I get no sense of this myself at all) or not.. how is that relevant to anything except your feelings, and perhaps the producers of pharmaceuticals some sensitive minds may take to cope with their paranoia?

        One thinks when hundreds of billions are to be spent, considering the credentials of those with a role in decision making is an increasingly important component to consider, though even when only a single penny is at stake, how are credentials the only consideration?

      • Here’s the actual analogy. Open all the doors and windows. Turn up the thermostat. The atmosphere will warm, after all heaters do what heaters do. In a little while, the government uses the smart grid to shut off the power, causing the trend to go negative and no further heating to occur until 2 in the morning when it turns the power back on during a period of low demand. In then end, no appreciable warming occurs but we freeze to death.
        Oddly enough, after reading your post, I am not sure we are in disagreement. I am saying exactly that I do not care what the person’s credentials are, when we are looking at huge amounts of our economy being shipped off to unaccountable foreign potentates, that I need more than Dr. Lacis CV to accept what he is saying. He is preaching in this article, but I am in no mood to pass the hat.

      • chip (http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/09/atmospheric-co2-the-greenhouse-thermostat/#comment-120806)

        Isn’t the analogy closer to a house with a furnace heating full blast (the sun, so also inexhaustible uninterruptible energy on the timescale in question) and a thermostat that works by opening and closing the windows and doors?

        Throw in a cold basement (the deep ocean), an active kitchen and laundry room, some walk-in refridgerators, a few spare baths that generate clouds of steam, a maid that sometimes clears the messy laundry piles and dust from the heat vents, and we get closer to a working model.

        It’s true, we do have alike concerns about unaccountable foreign potentates, in some ways. I also have concerns about unaccountable domestic energy policy that robs us all to benefit only a few.

      • Hey, there may be a paper in there somewhere :-)

      • You know, Bart, I actually sat and thought about a more ‘human’ model after your last post and the idea seemed to have some merit. But then I saw an inevitable torture of said model to approximate the current climate: mice in the walls, paint, matters of budget, maintenance and repair, etc. And oddly enough, I think that gave me some real insight into the problems with the models and why there are so many of them. I appreciate your continued replies in what became a somewhat humorous exchange, because real value emerged from it for me. Have a great day!

    • Chip,

      You’ve never heard of logarithmic potentiometer?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potentiometer#Logarithmic_potentiometer

      Just imagine that this, rather than the linear version, is controlling the thermostat and you’ll get the general idea!

      • I get it, but this potentiometer has two different regions. It doesn’t say so, but I am assuming they are a ‘linear’ and ‘saturation’ region. I believe we are in the linear region for the carbon dioxide response curve (double CO2, get some unspecified temp increase), so increasing CO2 should increase temperature by a certain amount. The ‘no, just wait a while and you’ll see’ crowd doesn’t get it. If it’s not getting hotter, something else is happening that they either don’t understand or are unwilling to admit. And scary prognostications based on models that haven’t been validated, and possibly cannot be, are really not much better than reading the entrails of a goat.

  88. There is a lot of talk about climate models not being validated sufficiently, which is obviously not possible until their projections come to pass. However, we are now in a position to validate the projections of climate models from 30 years ago (a sufficiently long projection to be called climate scale rather than decadal). One of the earliest of these was Hansen et al. (Science, 1981) on which Lacis was a co-author. It was mostly done one-dimensionally, but informed by a GCM, due to computer limitations back then, but they predicted the right 1975-2010 temperature warming near 0.5 C using their mid-range sensitivity of 2.8 C (1.4-5.6 was their uncertainty). So, even this primitive model was successful, and newer ones have not deviated much in sensitivity since then.

    • You can understand why Lacis is impatient with current uncertainty when he has been saying the same thing consistently for 30 years now, and had no reason to doubt his earlier ideas.

      • Even a broken clock…..

        He assumes all the attribution to GHG. The fact that the ocean cycles were near their minimum in 1975 and maximum in 2005, and can account for a .4-.7 C degree difference is irrelevant?

  89. I’d be eager to see similar analyses (both Andy’s and other Denizens’) of http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20111004_Figure6.png and its Thermostats, considering http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20111004_Figure4.png etc, as NSIDC has done recently.

    Is multi-year ice the control knob of the Arctic?

  90. When the oceans are warm and the Arctic Sea Ice is melted is when it snows a lot and rebuilds the snowpacks and glaciers and cools the earth. This warm time is a necessary and desirable part of the stable cycle. The snows have started. Pay attention. Record Low Arctic Sea Ice this year will lead to another cold and snowy fall, winter and spring.
    This has happened time and time again. We warm and it snows more. We cool and it snows less. This is the thermostat of earth, NOT CO2.

    • Herman Alexander Pope

      I can see your argument, though the scales of which effect dominates cannot be determined by pure reasoning, only by careful observation and deeper study.

      What if, for example, CO2 is the dominant thermostat, and snow is the humidistat?

      If warming continues, and snow increases during winters, locking up more moisture regionally until spring or summer floods release the reservoir with more energy and intensity in those snow-pack zones (while former recipients of rain go wanting in drought) than in prior regimes?

      How are we to know, without observing such phenomena over the course of years globally?

      If only there were some examples that came to mind that might support such a conclusion.

      • Harold H Doiron

        Bart R,

        I suggest you look at global average temperature variations of the last 800,000 years inferred from Antarctica, Arctic and Greenland ice cores and also look at NOAA’s similar time history DATA of when snow and ice accumulate at the poles in Mr. Pope’s recent presentation to the Johnson Space Center Chapter of the NASA Alumni League. http://www.nal-jsc.org/Climate_Change_Symposium_Alex_Pope_Presentation.pdf

        Don’t infer the snow accumulation history from NOAA’s climate change models , because that history doesn’t correlate with NOAA’s own published data on timing of snow accumulation rates near the poles. This snowpack accumulation near the poles, which gets its water via the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, that in turn rob it from equatorial latitudes of our oceans, also results in a reduction in the earth’s spin axis moment of inertia and causes the spin rate to increase as evidenced in the recent history of the rate at which Leap Seconds are added to our calendar (see Wysmuller’s Toucan Equation for more on this evidence that during this warm time with much greater polar humidity, earlier seasonal, later seasonal and heavier snows are beginning to move water vapor from the oceans to the poles to re-build the polar ice caps and lead us into a global cooling, while man-made CO2 continues to increase http://www.colderside.com/faq.htm).

        I think you will find that Mr. Pope has it right because he has been studying the DATA , not unvalidated climate change model output.

      • Harold H Doiron

        Thank you for your links.

        I must say, Herman Alexander Pope’s taste in graphs runs to the colorful. I’m still nursing eyestrain.

        However, plainly, there is much room for examining the claims and interpretations in the Pope Theory.

        Simplistic without the grace of simplicity, generality-strewen without general applicability, relying on inference from dataset rather than mathematical analyses of data, following none of the usual rules of hypothesis testing nor verifiability, unvalidated, sometimes specious and occasionally jumping from the subject to throw in a slide about a red dot on a grid that could only be described as propaganda, unless one chooses to describe it as false, the ‘Pope Theory’ is far from infallible.

        No CI, correlation coefficient, discussion of uncertainty nor of alternate hypotheses, reference to peer-reviewed studies to affirm its interpretations.

        If you think I would find Mr. Pope has it right, you must be thinking without critical facilities engaged.

  91. This discussion has been very revealing. It tells one more time again that skepticism is totally nonuniform, and that it’s, indeed, impossible to reach the goal of agreeing even on that, where no real uncertainty remains. many people have indicated here the point, where their disagreement with well known science begins, and many others have confirmed that they accept the well known science, while they are skeptical on further conclusions.

    The paper of Lacis et al did present a description of the overall GH effect in a way that is certainly close to the truth. I’m totally confident that removing the CO2 from the atmosphere would lead to a snowball Earth, and that the models are reliable enough to provide a semiquantitative description of the difference between a snowball and the actual Earth with a reasonable accuracy. Andy Lacis is also telling that the paper is really only on that, when he tells in a couple of paragraphs what the paper is not.

    Thus we know reliably that increasing CO2 from very low levels to the present levels makes it possible that we have the Earth we have. The models are not good enough to predict the present temperature, but they are good enough to tell that we could not have it with much less CO2. Combining that with the knowledge of the present climate, we get two firm points: snowball at very little CO2 and the observed present with the present CO2, but the relationship between CO2 and temperature is not linear. There’s a known approximately logarithmic relationship between radiative forcing and CO2 concentration over a wide range of concentrations, but the relationship between radiative forcing of CO2 and the “equilibrium temperature” (with quotes, because we don’t have a real equilibrium, but I think the meaning is clear enough) is not linear for wide variations. It’s almost certainly close to linear for small variations, but the basic nonlinearity means that we don’t know a priori the coefficient of this linear relationship. In other words we don’t know the climate sensitivity.

    The paper of Lacis et al tells the basic mechanism of GHE and I’m fully confident in the correctness of that description. It doesn’t add anything to the knowledge on climate sensitivity, i.e. it doesn’t add anything to our knowledge on the risks of AGW.

    • “The paper of Lacis et al did present a description of the overall GH effect in a way that is certainly close to the truth. I’m totally confident that removing the CO2 from the atmosphere would lead to a snowball Earth,”

      Removing all CO2 from atmosphere has never occurred on this planet.
      Plants are starved if levels go near or below 150 ppm.
      Our current atmosphere is 99.9% free of CO2. Other than plants removing CO2 there isn’t any mechanism in nature nor could humans do it.
      So can’t realistically talk of removing all CO2- it has never happened and will never happen.
      But if you mean that 150 ppm will cause snowball earth there is much evidence which disproves this idea.

    • Pekka Pirilä

      I’m totally confident that removing the CO2 from the atmosphere would lead to a snowball Earth

      Maybe.

      And I am totally confident that removing the CO2 from the atmosphere would lead to a lifeless Earth

      But, since this has never happened (even during the geological period when we had a “snowball Earth”), I’m not going to worry too much about it.

      Max

      • Pekka

        “Snowball Earth” events do not seem to correlate with low levels of CO2.

        The first such event, 2.3 billion years ago, occurred when CO2 is believed to have been a major component of our atmosphere.

        The most recent major glaciation occurred during the late Ordovician, 440 million years ago, when atmospheric CO2 was estimated to be above 5,000 ppmv.

        Max

      • I’d just make the point that a “snowball earth” isn’t, at least not yet, part of the scientific consensus. There are pros and cons to the hypothesis:

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

        It’s interesting to look at what would happen if the Earth’s climate if the atmosphere were to have zero CO2. Its always worth looking at the extremes of any climate model as as test of the model itself.

        However, that’s not to say there is any need to worry about it actually happening. You might as well worry that the value of gold will fall to zero, or even that the human population of the Earth will fall to zero if you’re into worrying about such things.

      • “It’s interesting to look at what would happen if the Earth’s climate if the atmosphere were to have zero CO2.”

        Not really possible. Upon any removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, the reservoirs would emit exactly the removed amount. Atmospheric CO2 is determined by global climatic factors. Only warmth/cold can change atmospheric CO2.

  92. (6) Natural (unforced) climate variability is the principal reason for the uncertainty manifested in the largely unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations that occur on regional spatial scales, and on inter-annual and decadal time scales. Arising from changes in advective energy transports and poorly understood interactions with ocean dynamics, this is where uncertainty reigns supreme. However, these advective transports must globally add to zero, and the unforced fluctuations are necessarily fluctuations about the global equilibrium reference point. Nature conserves energy very carefully. Hence, large deviations from the global equilibrium cannot be sustained. So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend, but its effects on local and regional climate will remain the main source of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

    While there’s much truth in the above, it disregards one point. The natural variability affects also the albedo through changes in clouds. The variations in albedo affect the overall energy balance. Thus it possible that a cooling phase is really cooling the whole Earth, not only transporting heat somewhere else.

    The clouds are the big uncertain factor both for the strength of persistent feedbacks and for variability in the net energy flux at TOA.

  93. Jim D | October 10, 2011 at 12:34 am | Reply

    You can understand why Lacis is impatient with current uncertainty when he has been saying the same thing consistently for 30 years now…

    Consistently???

    How is what he says above consistent with this statement from 2005 in an AR4 comment:-

    “Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.”

  94. Any reply by Judith or Lacis to Mosher’s points..perhaps I missed them overnight …I guess if he gets none it’ll be more evidence this wasn’t a technical thread after all.

  95. If CO2 levels drop to zero a lot of plants and animals will suffer – we will find it hard to breathe – the biosphere would quickly emit a lot ofthat gas for sure. Or is life’s reaction not important?

    • Latimer Alder.

      ‘is life’s reaction not important?’

      Nope. We will have Saved the Planet! Nothing is more important

      Killing all natural life by starvation and/or suffocation and/or hypothermia would be a minor inconvenience compared with the spectacular success of reducing global warming to nothing. Mother Gaia will be delighted.

  96. Andrew Lacis,

    Thank you very much for a clear exposition of the paper’s central thesis and of the context of it being written.

    I’m curious how, after reading the comments section here, you reflect on this public discussion. You gained the stamp of approval of our host here (as being “open minded” because of your guest post and previous comments), yet you are greeted with rather the opposite of open mindedness from most of the denizens. Deaf ears come to mind.

    • Bart,
      At the place he and his pals control, RC, no one is allowed to say anything they do not agree with.
      Lacis comes here and insults the skeptics with his infantile conspiracy talk, ignores the problems of what he promotes, ignores the climategate exposures, ignores the IPCC failures, and generally talks down.
      And then you toss him a softball question?
      Not surprising, but still disappointing.

    • Send him an email, BartV. He ain’t ain’t open to any questions here. He just does condescending drive bys, on denier blogs.

    • Dear Bart,

      Why do you think it neccessary to call people with different views “denizens”, and refer to “deaf ears”? IMHO, this is such denigrating language concerning people with a different view. As far as I am concerned, you have your right on your opinion, as much as I have the right to have a differnet opinion. It is in my opinion a sign of weakness if one has to use denier, denizen calling to get ones opinion prevail.

      Shame on you.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Crackpot, you misunderstand. Bart Verheggen didn’t refer to people as “denizens” in an attempt to portray them negatively. He called them that because it’s what Judith Curry calls the people who read her blog. For example, take a look at this page.

        You’ll also note Verheggen referred to “most of the denizens,” so he couldn’t have been calling everyone who disagreed with him a denizen.

      • Dear Brandon,

        I am surprised that you defend Bart. Normally, he is very well capable of defending himself. And the fact that a term ahs been used on a blog does not pose an invitation to use it again, unless you agree. Therfore, I think Bart used it deliberately. Which is not up to you to prove or disagree.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Crackpot, your response here makes no sense at all. I’d advise you to reread what I said. You claim the fact “denizens” has been used on this blog does not pose an invitation to use it again. However, as I pointed out, that is the term Judith Curry, our blog host, uses to refer to her readers. If she calls her readers denizens, it is no surprise Bart Verheggen might call her readers denizens too. I have no doubt Verheggen used the word deliberately, just as Curry does on a regular basis. Unless you intend to say Curry is insulting all of her readers by routinely calling them denizens, your offense here makes no sense. Also, you ignored my second paragraph which explains why he could not possibly have been doing what you claim he did.

        As for defending him, I don’t know why you would be surprised I’d do so. I tend to defend people I see unfairly criticized. This is especially true when those criticisms are built upon misunderstandings and I hope to help resolve things. As it happens, I don’t like him due to the history we’ve had, but that doesn’t change the fact your criticisms of him were wrong.

      • Crackpot,

        I’m at a loss as to what you’re accusing me of. Brandon S, with whom I’ve had vehement disagreements before, has it exactly right: I merely used the same term as Judith uses to describe regular readers of her blog. It’s a term I haven’t often seen used apart from this blog and I’m not familiar with its colloquial meaning apart from how it’s used by our host, but since I’m commenting here, I may as well use the same lingo, as then it’s probably clear what I’m talking about. Guess not. But methinks you’re doing your very best to misconstrue what I’m saying. Also note that I’m not using the word “denier”, even though I don’t chastize others who do.

        Hunter,

        Lacis decided to talk about their GHE paper and its context. Why that context should include climategate or other topics of your particular liking escapes me.

  97. What is the key limitation to human CO2 as the “greenhouse thermostat”?

    Obviously, it is the amount of fossil fuels available on our planet.

    There have been several “peak oil” studies, starting with that of M. King Hubbert in 1956.

    These have been periodically updated and revised, with latest predictions pointing to a global peak before 2020.

    A report entitled “Have We Reached Peak Oil?” gives some estimates of oil reserves of our planet and the timing of “peak oil”:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/peak-oil1.htm

    BP has estimated that the proven reserves are 1,200 billion barrels. A 2007 estimate by the Oil and Gas Journal has put this estimate at 1,317 billion bbl.

    Cambridge Energy Research Associates estimate that the total recoverable oil resources in place are 3.74 trillion bbl (including non-conventional sources such as shale). On this basis CERA project an oil “peak” starting between 2030 and 2040 and leveling off to a plateau.

    The World Energy Council published a report in 2010, which summarized not only the proven reserves of all fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), but also gave estimates for the “inferred possible total resources in place” for these fossil fuels.

    http://www.worldenergy.org/documents/ser_2010_report_1.pdf

    This report lists “proven oil reserves” at 1,239 billion bbl and the “inferred possible total oil resource in place” of 5,078 billion bbl.

    For coal the estimate (in gigatons) is:
    Proven: 861; Inferred: 2,462

    For natural gas the data are more limited; estimate (in trillions of cubic meters) is:
    Proven: 186; Inferred: 486

    Let’s assume that the “inferred possible total fossil fuel resources in place” as estimated by WEC are 100% recoverable.

    From these total inferred fossil fuel resources on our planet we can calculate the amount of CO2 generated (deducting 20-25% of oil and gas used for “non-combustion” uses, such as petrochemicals, fertilizers, etc.).

    The calculated amount of total CO2 generated and emitted is 10,536 Gt. If we assume that 50% of the emitted CO2 “remains” in the atmosphere (as is the case today) we have added 675 ppmv CO2 to the atmosphere.

    This amount, added on to the 390 ppmv in the atmosphere today, brings us to a “total never to be exceeded” level of 1,065 ppmv.

    That’s it, folks.

    At current consumption rates, this total fossil fuel resource would last us >300 years. However, consumption rates are expected to increase as population grows and global GDP increases.

    The UN projects world population growth rates to slow down dramatically from the past 1.7% CAGR to 0.45% CAGR, reaching a plateau of around 10.5 billion late this century.

    On this basis we could expect consumption rates to almost double by 2100, so that the total resource would only last a bit less than 200 years.

    And if population doubled by 2100 to 14 billion (an upper estimate) they would last only <150 years.

    [Note: In actual fact, they would probably “last” much longer, as they are gradually replaced by new non-fossil fuel energy sources and used only for higher “added value” end uses.]

    Stay tuned for installment 2: how much long-term GH warming can we expect from this?

    Max

  98. Andrew, I appreciate you posting here. It is nice to get all perspectives especially from the experts in the field. I have a simple question. Since the models vary considerably in what climate sensitivity they obtain, your model is in effect stating that all the other models have made an error. Prominent skeptics do not argue that co2 isn’t a GHG or that GHGs do not cause warming. They argue for a low climate sensitivity. They are in all reality making the same argument you are making, that all the other models have made an error. The only difference is that they state that your model has also made an error. Can you state in clear terms that those of us from other fields can understand where the other models are in error and why all the other modelers and all the skeptics are incorrect but you are correct?

  99. In Part 1 we established that the “total never to be exceeded” atmospheric CO2 level from human emissions is 1,065 ppmv, and that this level is projected to occur 150 to 200 years from today.

    But, in keeping with Lacis’ CO2 thermostat hypothesis, how much will this added CO2 theoretically warm our planet?

    Let’s look at the past and keep it simple.

    From 1850 to 2010 we saw CO2 increase from 290 ppmv (Vostok ice core) to 390 ppmv (Mauna Loa).

    Over the same period, the globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature (HadCRUT3) increased by 0.7°C.

    IPCC AR4 tells us:

    a) that natural forcing represented 7% of the total forcing
    b) that all anthropogenic forcing componenets other than CO2 (other GHGs, aerosols, land use changes, etc.) cancelled one another out, so that forcing from CO2 = total anthropogenic forcing
    c) that the CO2/temperature relation is logarithmic

    Using the observed data points and the above IPCC bases, we can calculate the temperature increase to be expected from an increase from today’s 390 ppmv CO2 to a future concentration of 1,065 ppmv.

    dT(390-1065 pmmv CO2) =
    dT(290-390 ppmv CO2) * 0.93 * ln (1065 / 390) / ln (390 / 290) =

    2.2°C

    So we have sort of a “mini-thermostat” with limited impact at work here.

    That’s the calculated “total never to be exceeded human greenhouse warming”, which would theoretically be reached in 150 to 200 years, all other things being equal.

    But, as we know from the past decade, “all other things” are not likely to be “equal”..

    Max

  100. If CO2 is a greenhouse “thermostat”, can it prevent the temperature from being too warm?

    • Yes. If the temperature becomes too high the energy leaving the Earth will be higher than the energy coming in.
      Increasing CO2, and other GH gas, levels makes the Earth look more opaque to IR radiation. The more opaque the higher the effective surface level, which always has to be at 255 degK (-18 degC) to maintain energy balance inwards and outwards.
      The higher this surface level the warmer the Earth’s surface. You can calculate the difference using the lapse rate.~ 6 degC per 1000 metres of altitude.

  101. After rereading it, I don’t understand the point of this post by Dr. Lacis.

    the point of the original Science article was (simplified!): if the models are correct, there had to be (and has to be) at least enough CO2 in the atmosphere to keep the Earth warm enough to prevent all of the H2O from condensing. Although implied by the models (hence not “new” by some measures), it was not known that it was implied by the models before the simulations were run. This isn’t the first time that models have had implications not imagined by their creators before experimenting with the models.

    Critics of the paper seemed to have missed that point.

    Anything that challenges the model challenges the result; any test that the model passes lends credibility to the result.

    This post by Dr. Lacis seems to cloud the main result. He has encased the lily in a crust of rust.

  102. Eric, read what NASA wrote regarding global warming in 1998:

    For example, in the early 1970’s, because temperatures had been decreasing for about 25 to 30 years, people began predicting the approach of an ice age! For the last 15 to 20 years, we have been seeing a fairly steady rise in temperatures, giving some assurance that we are now in a global warming phase.

    Unfortunately, that fact sheet has disappeared from NASA’s website, but it can be found here:

    http://scr.bi/p0yRM9

  103. Schrodinger's Cat

    I find it rather disturbing when models are created based on assumptions, then tweaked and modified and finally used to run ‘experiments’ which amazingly provide proof of the original belief. This proof becomes reality.

    What has happened to science?

  104. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/09/29150/

    A link to Mr. Eschenbach’s discussion of this paper.

    Think H2O as a control knob not CO2. Hogher specific heat, phase changes, and more abundant. CO2 not so much.

  105. At Andy Revkin’s DotKim(2008) I said the modelers were trying to keep their toys on circular tracks on the ceiling.

    Well, something’s doing something to the sun. Maybe it’s gravity.
    ============

  106. Bart V. writes: “You gained the stamp of approval of our host here (as being “open minded” because of your guest post and previous comments), yet you are greeted with rather the opposite of open mindedness from most of the denizens. Deaf ears come to mind.”

    The vapidity, while I should be used to it by now from what I’ve come to think of as the intellectually undead, is breathtaking. Not to mention profoundly depressing. Open-minded? Did you read the post? In what way did it give you the impression of open-mindedness?

    Or are you saying he’s open-minded because Dr. Curry told you he was? Why? Because he put up a “guest post?” In what way does putting up a guest post automatically confer the quality of open-mindedness? I’m guessing she was being polite.

    Open-minded people don’t drop bombs then disappear. They hang around and listen to those who disagree with them, and engage in a dialogue with them. They listen to opposing points of view because they are, by definition “open.”

  107. The nesting appears to not be working. Is it my computer, or is the blog rogered?

  108. The nesting is definitely rogered. Let’s see where this comment ends up.

  109. So should 390 ppm Earth be warmer than 365 ppm Earth? I think you are concluding yes but it isn’t warmer.

  110. Dr. Lacis – Does the subject model include the albedo change with cloud cover in an accurate manner?

  111. Dr Lacis writes:

    quote
    (6) Natural (unforced) climate variability is the principal reason for the uncertainty manifested in the largely unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations that occur on regional spatial scales, and on inter-annual and decadal time scales. Arising from changes in advective energy transports and poorly understood interactions with ocean dynamics, this is where uncertainty reigns supreme. However, these advective transports must globally add to zero, and the unforced fluctuations are necessarily fluctuations about the global equilibrium reference point. Nature conserves energy very carefully. Hence, large deviations from the global equilibrium cannot be sustained. So, this unforced climate variability cannot significantly impact the long-term global temperature trend, but its effects on local and regional climate will remain the main source of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.
    unquote

    ‘Large’ deviations, nb. Would you please define what you mean by large? It seems obvious that with the enormous energy buffer (let me not fall into the trap you excoriate of using vague words — I’ll define ‘enormous’ as circa ‘1000 times that of the atmosphere’) provided by the oceans then it would be trivial to demonstrate that heat may be sequestered or released on long time scales which would entirely refute the results of your experiments. The oceans could pump out enough heat to double the warming we are all getting so excited about and we’d be pushed to detect the change in the ocean itself. ‘Long times scales’? ‘Hundreds if not thousands of years’. Yes, it will all balance in the end, but to suggest that we have the data (or can make up the data via models) to judge what is happening with the certainty you espouse would seem to be rather courageous, not to say foolhardy. We do not have the information. Far be it for me to defend the authors of the Executive Summary of AR4, but they are in this respect at least, more correct than you. Ocean dynamics operate on a scale and time scale which preclude certainty and, as you point out in your paragraph above, this is where uncertainty reigns.

    Your whole post reminds me of a phrase I recently found on a blog: ‘the illusion of knowledge’. Might I suggest than as you write out your list of things which are definitely, positively and certainly happening (because that is what your models have proved) you add at the end one further statement? Always add ‘Or something is happening we haven’t yet thought of’.

    JF

  112. And I LOVE #7

    “(7) Global climate change is far too complex to be understandable in one swoop.”

    Funny, most of the Warmers I know (who don’t know a thing about climate science) think they understand it in “one swoop”. What’s the best way to tell them that they are mistaken?

    Andrew

    • It gets even better:

      “Fortunately, the global warming component, it being tied directly to the growing strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, is a uniquely radiative effect that can be addressed independently of the other climate complexities.”

      I am thankful that Judith let Mr. Lacis post this article. It’s hilarious.

      • If I was an advier to Obama, who really cared about how to move this country forward and help accomplish something people would benefit from, I would take what Lacis wrote and tell the EPA to drop its CO2 finding “pending a thorough procedural review”, and quietly get rid of the warmista influence in his Administration.
        It is clear from Trenberth to Hansen to Lacis that at least many of the major science leaders of the AGW movement are far removed from anything that is close to reasonable.
        But that is as unlikely an outcome as is the idea of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

      • Hunter a simpler way would be to “Drill Baby Drill”. Thousands of jobs, royalty payments, lower energy costs so I have money to spend on other items, etc. That would move us forward.

      • mkelly,
        This President is far past anything that would be described as “simpler”.

    • But they don’t need to understand it. They aren’t the ones saying the science of Global climate change is all wrong!

  113. Dr Lacis:

    Because the solar-thermal energy balance of Earth [at the top of the atmosphere (TOA)] is maintained by radiative processes only, and because all the global net advective energy transports must equal zero, it follows that the global average surface temperature must be determined in full by the radiative fluxes arising from the patterns of temperature and absorption of radiation.

    Would you kindly explain how exactly you came to that assertion.

  114. Where is this Lacis fellow? Isn’t it normal for guest posters to respond to comments? Is he in hiding?

    • Stirling English

      Mr Lacis reminds us that He has already decended once already from Mount Olympus to give us mere mortals the benefit of His wisdom. If we are too stupid to understand His words in full that is our lookout, not his.

      He has now returned to the Pantheon of Climatological Gods, and will not return to the profane world until he is certain that His future pronouncements will be greeted with a great deal more hushed reverence and absolutely no awkward or difficult questions. He reminds us that He is A Climate Scientist, that The Science is Settled and that he role of the public is to provide unfettered adoration and adulation ..and especially to keep on paying the cash.

      His next public appearance will be at Real Climate, where, by agreeement with Messrs Mann and Schmidt, an appropriate reception has been guaranteed in advance.

  115. Knowing the exact density of the atmosphere would be another.

    We know the density profile (it varies with pressure) of the atmosphere, and we also know pretty exactly the total mass above a square foot or meter of earth area. You measure it with a barometer. Figuring out the total mass to 4 or 5 places is a pretty elementary exercise.

    • Knowing the exact density of the atmosphere would be another.

      We know the density profile (it varies with pressure) of the atmosphere, and we also know pretty exactly the total mass above a square foot or meter of earth area. You measure it with a barometer. Figuring out the total mass to 4 or 5 places is a pretty elementary exercise.

      According to most of the Gomers here, you aren’t allowed to do that. You have to set up a “speriment” that measures each molecule individually and then you need a big ole calculator to add ‘em up. And you also need a very long tape measure, almost forgot.

      • Stirling English

        You really have absoutely no idea about experimental science do you???? Even the concept is so alien to you that your brain seizes up at the very idea.

        I conclude that you are a ‘professional’ climatologist!

      • You really have absoutely no idea about experimental science do you???? Even the concept is so alien to you that your brain seizes up at the very idea.

        I conclude that you are a ‘professional’ climatologist!

        For once I tried some sarcasm and it obviously went over your head. Determining the density of the atmosphere is not that difficult a problem.

      • I don’t know how you were able to leave a reply to my message, when I’m not able to leave replies to any other messages, but in reply to

        WebHubTelescope | October 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply

        There IS a measurement in there. It’s the barometric pressure. The experimental proof of how that relates to mass above was done long ago. This isn’t like calculating something climate sensitivity where there’s no way to grab the seal by the ears.

        Apples and oranges.

      • Actually it’s not apples and oranges. WHT pinned it.

        You are calculating rather than observing atmospheric density. Sure your model might be based on past experiments itself, but you are definitely using a model to calculate the density, not an experiment.

      • You are calculating rather than observing atmospheric density. Sure your model might be based on past experiments itself, but you are definitely using a model to calculate the density, not an experiment.

        Lolwot actually got the point I was trying to make. There are scads of indirect calculations that we are making without even realizing it, so when someone talks about the failure of models, we have to realize that intrinsic properties (like density) are models after all. Perhaps too pedantic a point, but it often gets overlooked.

  116. …………. Scene 1 – Andy is sitting in his office doing some routine temperature extrapolation, a nervous looking colleague pokes his head round the door…………

    “Andy, Big Jim wants ya in da basement right now, some of de udder guys is there sez it won’t wait”

    ………..Scene 2 – Andy enters the windowless basement room, Big Jim is sitting at the table, the others lounge around, avoiding eye contact but ostentatiously polishing their knuckle dusters….

    Big Jim – “Andy, Kev tells me de deniers over de Bish’s patch are all over town puttin it about dat you’ve bin sayin we’re all washed up ‘n our racket is blown. Thats real bad Andy”

    Andy – “Don’t listen to him Jim, it’s all crap – you know I’m one of your main men”

    Big Jim – “But Kev’s bin over there and seen what you wrote with his own eyes – you said the AR4 racket was ‘beyond redemption and should be deleted’ – dat makes me very unhappy Andy”

    Andy – “OK OK, I blew it Jim, I’m real sorry I was drunk and trying to impress this broad….”

    Big Jim – “Shut it! This is serious Andy and your gonna have to make amends. I want some blood spilt over at the Bish’s place to even the score”

    Andy – “I can’t go over there Jim, it’s up ta here with hardcore deniers – I’d be blown away before I even got in da door”

    Big Jim – “ OK, I got anudder plan. There’s always deniers over at Loose Judy’s place – you can get in there and waste them. Judy ‘n me go back a whiles ‘n she owes me a couple of favours – she’ll get you in there and give you some cover , you can take Gav as back up. ”

    Andy – “You don’t know what your askin Jim, Loose Judy’s isn’t like it used to be – it’s crawlin with deniers , just sittin drinkin ‘n waitin for trouble to kick off – we could be massacred”

    Big Jim – “You’ve offended me Andy and risked the whole racket. Either there’s denier blood on the floor at Loose Judy’s Sunday night – or you take a drive in the Buick into the forest Monday with Gav and Pierre. D’ya understand me”

    Andy – “ Yes boss”

    Big Jim – “I thought you might”……………

    • Thanks for the chuckle, Foxgoose. I wonder what our hostess thought of this. She opined that this was a technical thread. However, the “science” in the paper by Andy Lacis was so pitiful, that I suspect that your effort really represenst the sort of technical comment that it actually deserves. I would also love to know what lolwot, Martha, Fred Moolton etc thought of this.

      • Well Id start by saying you clearly don’t understand the science in the paper then.

      • Latimer Alder

        Please summarise your uderstanding of ‘the science’ in case there are any dullards here who didn’t grasp its significance. Just three paras of simple prose will do

        Thanks.

      • That’ll be a ‘no’ then. Why am I not very surprised?

        Given the opportunity to restate Lacis’ poorly received paper in a more persuasive style, you declined to do so. Ho hum.

      • you were only trying to waste my time. Not biting.

        Only a fool would not recognize science in that paper.

        Or….alternatively….

        I can see deniers would have a real ideological problem with the results of the paper.

        In lieu of admitting that, they might instead pretend there isn’t any science in the paper.

        Pitiful.

      • lolwot, you say “Well Id start by saying you clearly don’t understand the science in the paper then.”

        IF, and it is an extremely big IF, there is any proper science in Andy Lacis’ paper on this blog, then you are absolutely correct. I do not understand his science.

  117. In what follows I have put Dr. Lacis’s statements in quotes and added my own comments in the following format: [DW: comment]. I have ony done the first 4 bullets so far.

    It is quite clear what is gong on with his argument. To begin with he simply assumes AGW. That is, the global temperature is due to GHGs and if they go up it must rise, and it is. This is all merely a mater of assertion. There is no scientific argument here. His new contribution with this simple model is the additional claim that CO2 levels control water and cloud levels. This may or not be true (and it is certainly not settled), but in any case it is largely irrelevant to the climate debate, as that is about whether or not the basic AGW model is correct in the first place. Since that issue is not settled, pretty much everything he says is conjectural.

    Bear in mind that my basic point is not that what Lacis says is wrong; merely that it is not known to be true. Thus his assertions are a case of false confidence, one that is characteristic of AGW proponents generally.
    David

    Lacis writes:
    “(1) The terrestrial greenhouse effect is comprised of two distinct components:(a) the non-condensing greenhouse gases that provide the ‘radiative forcing’ that sustains the terrestrial greenhouse effect; (b) the ‘feedback component’ by water vapor and clouds that acts to amplify the radiative effect of the non-condensing greenhouse gases.” [DW: This so-called distinction is arbitrary and controversial. More generally the distinction between forcing and feedback is controversial and confused. This model of the overall greenhouse effect has also been questioned. It also ignores all other sources of forcing, feedback and warmth. Moreover, clouds may reduce, not amplify, the effect. By vastly oversimplifying the story it sets the stage for the false claims of confidence to follow.]

    “(2) The radiative forcing by the non-condensing greenhouse gases is accurately known, and fully understood.” [DW: false, it is not fully understood, by any means. Even the no feedback case is confused and subject to multiple interpretations.] “Of the GHGs, atmospheric CO2 is the principal contributor, hence the principal control knob that governs the strength of the greenhouse effect and global temperature.” [DW: This jump in logic or “hence” begs most of the scientific debate. He is claiming AGW based solely on the radiative physics of CO2. Moreover it is technically false as water is the principal contributor on the standard model.] “The greenhouse physics, and the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases as the fundamental basis for global warming, are well founded.” [DW: Again this is a vast leap in logic. Whether or not the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases is the fundamental basis for global warming is the focus of the debate. Thus it is far from “well founded.” Again, he is simply claiming AGW.]

    “(3) Water vapor and clouds account for about 75% the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, but are feedback effects that require sustained radiative forcing to maintain their atmospheric distribution. Their radiative effects are accurately known. The magnitude of their feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.” [DW: These numbers are merely conjectures. And again he is ignoring the role of clouds and water in other feedbacks and forcings, not to mention the problems with the very concepts of feedback and forcing.]

    “(4) The temporal record of global climate change can be separated into two distinct components:” [DW: No it cannot. This is simply a speculative distinction, presupposing AGW.] “(a) global warming – this is the steady and predictable increase in the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect that is caused by the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases resulting from human industrial activity,” [DW: There is no evidence of steady and predictable global warming. His is simply a speculative model.] “(b) natural variability – this is the unforced and mostly unpredictable inter-annual, regional, and decadal variability of the climate system that is superimposed upon the steadily increasing global warming component.” [DW: For all we know natural variability occurs on greater than decadal scales, and most importantly, it may account for all the warming. Hence his claim is simply conjectural.]

    • David, this was an excellent summary. I had pretty much exactly the same reaction. Whether or not he is right is beside the point. The uncertainties and complexities of the science demand a far more cautious attitude. In my very humble opinion, it is this that damages the credibility of climate science. It means that it is hard to have confidence that those making such over-confident pronouncements are truly objective about what they are studying, that they are not properly ‘skeptical’ from scientific point of view, always re-examining their assumptions and conclusions which I always believed was the bedrock of good science.

      Further up the page, Michael Larkin:

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/09/atmospheric-co2-the-greenhouse-thermostat/#comment-120421

      expressed this very well from the POV of the informed lay-observer. It’s mystifying that such a highly educated scientist such as Mr Lacis should express his views on the science in this way. The only reason I can think is to support political action on what he ‘thinks’ is right. But on the contrary, by departing from a scientific position, it actually undermines it.

    • Thank you David. There are many bald assertions in climatology. A BMJ editorial stated that practising medical doctors were not scientists. As I recollect, the distinction was made on the basis that scientist use experimental methods, whereas doctors decisions are evidence based.

      By that criteria, one would place the majority of climatologists in the “non scientist” category.

      Often, the stance taken by the supporters of AGW due to GHG is similar to that of an illusionist who has just made an elephant “disappear” in front of your eyes. “I have vanished the elephant into the fifth dimension – can you prove otherwise? You are not allowed to approach the stage or examine my props. My assistants and the stage crew are off limits.”

      Or something similar. The basic premise of GHG global warming is a crock. Luckily for some of us, the deniers(like me), the doubters, skeptics and cynics, not to mention the minions and dupes of Big Oil and Big Bananas are ensuring that sanity will eventually prevail.

      Once the so-called climatologists lose their ability to pursue their delusion at public expense, they will fade away leaving nothing in their wake except the faint sound of derision. This is an assumption, rather than a projection, prediction or words of similar import.

      And with that, I bid you all adieu, mon vieux!

      May you all live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

  118. Does my last comment mean that the thread is fixed? We’ll know when we see where this comment ends up.

  119. Brandon Shollenberger

    I had things to do last night, so I didn’t get around to posting my reaction to this guest post and paper. I have a lot of thoughts about both, but they are currently quite disorganized. Because of that, I’d like to just ask a few questions. First, In his seventh bullet point Andrew Lacis says:

    Precise measurements of the rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 are irrefutable, leaving nodoubtthatglobalwarmingis happening.

    Why is such a sloppy sentence included in this bullet? How do you justify saying CO2 is rising therefore there is “nodoubtthatglobalwarmingis happening”? While related, the two subjects are different, so the “logic” here is illogical. The next sentence says:

    Geological evidence shows that 450 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is the critical level that is needed to sustain polar ice caps, although the time scale for the melting of polar ice caps is many centuries.

    Where did this come from? This subject wasn’t mentioned anywhere else in the blog post, and it wasn’t discussed in the linked paper. It’s a completely random addition with no connection to anything else having been discussed. Not only that, there is absolutely no discussion of why the point matters. Despite this, he then goes on to say:

    That is the scientific perspective on global warming.

    Really? Are we really supposed to believe this is the “scientific perspective on global warming”? That the warming is undeniable, and there is evidence it will cause the ice caps to melt? Is that really such a major concern it gets included in the “scientific perspective on global warming” when no other effects do? Look at what he says next:

    Deciding what, if anything, to do about global warming is a political problem, but the politicians should keep the science in mind.

    What he just said is the message every politician should keep in mind is CO2 is rising, therefore global warming is undeniable. Oh, and if CO2 levels reach 450ppm, the ice caps may melt in a few centuries.

    I seriously hope no politician keeps that message in mind.

  120. Brandon Shollenberger

    Here’s another issue I had when reading this blog post. The first bullet reads:

    (1) The terrestrial greenhouse effect is comprised of two distinct components: (a) the non-condensing greenhouse gases that provide the ‘radiative forcing’ that sustains the terrestrial greenhouse effect; (b) the ‘feedback component’ by water vapor and clouds that acts to amplify the radiative effect of the non-condensing greenhouse gases.

    To me, this implies no feedbacks involve non-condensing greenhouse gases, something which is not true at all. Feedbacks can involve any greenhouse gases (or even things other than greenhouse gases), yet “feedback component” is solely limited to water vapor and clouds.

    Am I missing something, or is the wording here as misleading at is seems?

  121. Brandon Shollenberger

    One of my strongest reaction comes from the sixth bullet which beings with:

    Natural (unforced) climate variability

    This seems to suggest it is impossible for natural variability to be forced, something which is untrue. Natural variability can be forced, and that forcing can impact the long term global temperature trend. If the intention of this bullet is what I said, it is simply wrong. If, instead, the bullet simply overlooks the possibility of forced natural variability, it is overly simplified to the extent of being misleading.

    Either way, the bullet gives a false impression.

    • If you are thinking of solar variability or orbital cycles, these don’t come under natural variability, which perhaps should be described as natural internal variability. Volcanoes might come under this heading because their effect is short-lived, as do El Ninos or anything to do with ocean circulation patterns.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, I’ve seen “natural variability” split up in a number of ways, such as internal/external and forced/unforced.. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what way you dice it, my point will remain the same. However, for an example of what I was referring to, imagine there was a large amount of methane trapped beneath a sheet of ice. Eventually, due to some far swing of natural variability, that ice might partially melt or break. This release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere would lead to warming, which could in turn cause more of the gas to be released. This would lead to a period in which the planet was warmer than it would be otherwise, and this could have further long-term effects.

        That could happen in a situation in which humans had never existed so obviously it is due to natural variability (though it could be triggered by anthropogenic induced warming under different circumstances).

      • That example would be more like a feedback, like water vapor, where the atmospheric radiative properties change as a result of the warming. However your example would be far less linear than H2O. If it was a spontaneous release of methane independent of temperature, I think it would be natural variability (like a volcano). I might also reverse what I said above and consider volcanoes as a forcing (as I believe the IPCC and probably Lacis does).

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, I don’t see any actual disagreement in your comment. You don’t dispute what I described could cause a long-term impact on global temperatures. You also don’t seem to dispute it would be natural due to having been caused by natural variability. The only thing resembling a disagreement I see is you seem to say my example would be a feedback, not natural variability. However, much of natural variability is from feedbacks. The two are not mutually exclusive, so that disagreement wouldn’t make sense. Am I missing something?

      • I am trying to describe what Lacis might be calling natural variability, and I don’t think it includes your example because that depends on a temperature change and results in more temperature change, making it a potential feedback to any forcing that affects temperature. However, if it can’t occur spontaneously it is not a forcing or a natural variation.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, I think you’ve misunderstood me. You say you don’t think what Andrew Lacis is calling natural variability includes my example. I agree! That was exactly my point. He treats natural variability and unforced variability as the same thing, and I say that’s wrong. I say there are (or at least can be) such things as natural forcings.

        In my example, the gasses were a forcing when first introduced into the system, after which they created a feedback (forcings are external to a system, feedbacks are internal). However, during the entire time, they were natural, and they were part of natural variability.

      • OK, Brandon, we are agreeing. There are possible other forcings, but the ones considered are the standard ones (CO2, other GHGs, anthropogenic aerosols, solar, volcanoes, orbital, I believe is the complete list). These can account for previous behavior in the measured record quite well, but there are periods in the distant past that are not so easily accounted for mainly due to lack of measurement (e.g. was the MWP solar? and what about the various paleo blips?). All climate science can do for the coming century is account for the known forcings that dominated the last century, taking it that anything else is rare.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, it’s good to hear we’re in agreement!

  122. ‘Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.’

    A travesty that such an irrefutable and profound pearl of wisdom could be so rudely greeted with contempt, swelling the vulgar, ever more growing, multitude of dupes and minions.

  123. Dear Brandon,

    You are pontificating. I wrote what I meant, and I am still surprised to get tackeld in this way. I am completely new to this blog, and not up and running with what has been written in the past, so forgive me my inaptitude.

    But any denigrating language like denier, denizer irritates me. And having had several interactions with Bart, I know from personal experience that he uses these terms intentionally to silence opposing views.

    • Crackpot – welcome to the blog. You seem to misunderstand the word “denizen” – it has no pejorative implication – just means “an inhabitant, or frequenter”. Perhaps you are conflating it with “denigrate”?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Thanks for this comment TomFP. Maybe hearing this from someone other than me will help Crackpot understand.

    • It doesn’t have the same root as ‘deny’. It comes from an Anglo-French word meaning ‘within’ or ‘inner’.

  124. No, just my late-afternoon, post-caffeine attempt at humor. Thought I’d get a snicker by fixing one mis-spelled word and deliberately ruining another.
    I guess your father’s mother should also bear your mention

    • I got it. My reply was as much meant to address Brandon’s position that some people are drawing unreasonable conclusions from Dr. Lacis’ comments and using the excuse that scientists are not good writers and therefore it is the reader’s fault for not understanding. To wit, even if grammar and spelling is wrong, the meaning still comes through.

      As to my father’s mother – that would assume I knew who my father was.

      (I do and it did occur to me that the omission might be noted.)

  125. I’m curious where this discussion has landed and I would welcome any attempts to summarize.

    I read Dr. Lacis’s paper a year ago and reread it again. I don’t know the nitty-gritty of climate science well enough to criticize it, aside from Lacis’s odd belief that a computer simulation is equivalent to a scientific experiment and of course his bogus conspiracy-mongering about climate skeptics.

    I buy the basic idea that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and a greenhouse gas, all other things being equal, warms the planet. My questions are how much, how quickly, over whatever range of C02 increase, and with what repercussions.

    Dr. Lacis’s paper in Science is jam-packed with certainty and concludes:

    The concern is that we are well past even the 300- to 350-ppm target level for atmospheric CO2, beyond which dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system would exceed the 25% risk tolerance for impending degradation of land and ocean ecosystems, sea-level rise, and inevitable disruption of socioeconomic and food- producing infrastructure.

    Dr. Lacis has footnotes to other papers but given his certainty about climate skeptics I’m inclined to assume his conclusions about climate science are equally skewed to predetermined ends, though I could be wrong.

    Summaries? Comments? Etc.?

    • Huxley,

      The paper did not attempt to address how much, how fast, etc. etc. What he was attempting to do is a fractional attribution of the GHE. What fraction of the GHE is due to CO2, what part is due to fast feedback effects. The results are non-controversial amongst people who study this stuff (thus the nothing new comments from Spencer and RP Sr.). It does appear to be the first paper to do this attribution using a full GCM.

      Nobody should be surprised about the effect of H2O feedback (a positive one), since the lifetime (residence time, if you will) of H20 in the atmosphere is quite short. If the GHE is increased by increasing CO2 or any other non-condensing gas H20 feedback will increase it. If the GHE is reduced by removing CO2, the same positive H20 feedback will further decrease the GHE. The positive feedback serves to push the change in T in whatever direction the non-condensing gases push it.

      Quite simple really, and why the claim about the non-condensing gases sustaining the GHE. Without them H20 decreases in the atmosphere fairly quickly and the GHE collapses. This is because as H20 condenses out of the atmosphere the GHE is reduced, leading to further reductions in H20… a positive feedback loop. Water, as skeptics like to point out, is still the dominant portion of the GHE, 75% in this study, but w/o the longer lived forcing of the non-condensing gases, the effect due to H20 collapses.

      As for whether or not using models to conduct such a study constitutes an experiment? Modern climate models simulate the conditions of the earth fairly well, albeit not perfectly. They do seem to simulate the GHE well enough to conduct a study of this sort. Since we don’t have a parallel earth which operates in hyper-time to conduct such experiment they are the best we can do and as such they are useful for gaining insights into the operation of the system.

      • Rattus N: Thanks for the response. The paper sounded straightforward enough, but why are so many commenters complaining?

        I understand that researchers have faith in their models but a simulation is still a simulation, at least to me.

        The paragraph I quoted did deal with the “how much” aspect of climate change and rather alarmingly.

  126. Wow. The ordering of comments, by thread and time-stamps, is out to lunch.

    • This happens when the moderator deletes comments, and she has been busy here. Comments that replied to or are descended from the deleted ones fall to the bottom of the threads, so we get the detritus below.

      • …and that includes if you try to reply to those below, they will go to the bottom, because those threads are corrupted by the deletion.

      • Jim D: Well, thanks, I get it, but tree insert and delete was something I learned early in my programming education. I think the WordPress folks could have handled this more gracefully than letting the descendants all fall to the bottom as orphans. I don’t see much excuse for it frankly.

  127. “ subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.”

    Excuse me, Ojo Grande, but I lobby for fossil fuel development, I have no connection to the oil industry, and I perfectly well understand AGW. I was on your side until 10 yrs ago.

    AGW supporters have failed to gain even one single constructive concrete political advance in more than twenty years of trying. That ain’t ‘cuz of the fossil fuel lobby, Ojo. That’s because the modern AGW political agenda is a recipe for complete economic destruction. Everyone knows it.

    AGW supporters could easily have made effective compromises 20 years ago for modest gains and built credibility, but they choose not to do that. They chose instead to flog AGW as a kind of uncompromising religion. They failed. They made a bad gamble, an arrogant gamble, and a foolish gamble, and failed through their own political incompetence and nothing else.

  128. As Judith and Andy have long ago abandoned this thread, I humbly suggest that the rest of us do the same. The horse is deceased.

  129. Feedback is a difficult concept in relation to climate, because feedback is really a working concept only, when it’s possible to look at a small number of variables.

    Thus it’s applicable to global climate on timescales that are long compared to the time scales needed to spread the influence of a strong local effect to global dimensions. In practice this means decades rather than years.

    It may be applicable locally, if the local feedback is strong in comparison with the interaction with other parts of the Earth system.

    Most reaction to any impulse don’t satisfy at all either of those requirements. There will be a reaction to the original impulse, but that leads to interaction with other subsystems as much as it may lead to feedback that influences the phenomenon of the original impulse. I.e., we don’t have a system of a few variables and well defined delays in the responses. Rather we have a genuinely complex system, where the reaction to the impulse spreads to the whole Earth system with a very wide range of time scales. Separating the reaction to one impulse is impossible as an essentially infinite number of other disturbances affect the behavior as the system has also many characteristics of (spatio-temporal) chaos and a lot of stochasticity.

    My impression is that there is very little that can be transferred from the handling of feedbacks in system theory to the climate science. The Earth system is far too complex to allow such transfer to produce much insight. What I have read of such attempts has always confirmed this conclusion.

  130. It appears to me that the “science” in this paper has been debunked fairly effectively here.

    In addition, the polemic tone used has been criticized as “nonscientific”.

    Let’s let it rest in peace

    There are more interesting topics.

  131. THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!

    http://bit.ly/qGcD9M

    1) A straight line (not a curve with increasing positive slope with increasing years) passes through ALL the global mean temperature (GMT) peaks in the last 160 years data.

    2) Another straight line passes through ALL the global mean temperature valleys in the last 160 years data.

    3) These lines are parallel and are separated by 0.5 deg C and have a warming trend of 0.06 deg C per decade

    4) These lines are parallel to the GMT trend of 0.06 deg C for the period from the 1880s to 2000s

    5) The oscillation between the upper and lower GMT boundary lines is due to thermohaline circulation cycles.

    http://bit.ly/nfQr92

    CONCLUSIONS

    1) No change in the GMT trend of 0.06 deg C per decade since record begun 160 years ago!

    2) Human emission of CO2 has no effect on the GMT trend

  132. Harold H Doiron

    CO2 is important to sustaining life on earth, but not because, “Without the radiative forcing supplied by CO2 and the other non-condensing greenhouse gases, the terrestrial greenhouse would collapse, plunging the global climate to an icebound Earth state.” I would like to see Dr. Lacis prove this statement.

    Elevating CO2 above water vapor as the most important greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, takes a very myopic view of the physics of the atmosphere and the physics of the solar system. AGW climate scientists seem to ignore that while the earth’s surface may be warming, our atmosphere above 10,000 ft. above MSL is a refrigerator that can take water vapor scavenged from the vast oceans on earth (which are also a formidable heat sink), lift it to cold zones in the atmosphere by convective physical processes, chill it (removing vast amounts of heat from the atmosphere) or freeze it, (removing even more vast amounts of heat from the atmosphere) drop it on land and oceans as rain,sleet or snow, moisturizing and cooling the soil, cooling the oceans and building polar ice caps and even more importantly, increasing the albedo of the earth, with a critical negative feedback determining how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back into space, changing the moment of inertia of the earth by removing water mass from equatorial latitudes and transporting this water vapor mass to the poles, reducing the earth’s spin axis moment of inertia and speeding up its spin rate, etc.

    When the convective processes of the atmosphere remove enough water vapor from the oceans to drop sea levels and build polar ice caps, as has happened many times before, the top 35 meters of the oceans where climate models assume the only thermal mixing occurs, must heat up cold ocean water that comes from depths below the original 35 meter depth, removing vast more amounts of heat from the earth’s surface and atmosphere.

    Dr. Lacis, can your CO2 “control knob” do all that? Don’t sell water vapor short. I believe it (including water vapor clouds) is the the 800 pound gorilla in the room that AGW climate science can’t understand because AGW climate science focuses on unvalidated model results and not enough on the actual physics of natural processes involved in the complex climate change process.

  133. This issue does raise one of the unpleasant facts about climate science and that is the name calling and the political motivation of a lot of the scientists. However, its always better to look beyond it if possible. I agree that Lacis’ argument is fraught with unacknowledged uncertainty. The IPCC acknowledges that out understanding of aerosols and clouds is “low”.
    I don’t have the time to delve into this at the level to determine exactly which statements are true. It would take a year of full time research. I just know that there is a lot of disagreement in the scientific community about all these things. The problem here is one of trust in the scientists. This is not our problem, its their problem. Maybe this will eventually get better, but its an internal problem in climate science and we can do little about it.

  134. Seriously Judith, I would get the Zamboni out and clear the entire thread. Top to bottom. and start over. Its hard to have a technical thread when red meat is tossed in the ring. Not sure if that was Andy’s purpose..

    • steven mosher @ October 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Actually I would like to see a good techncial do-over myself, though I hope that Dr. Lacis gets the message how unconstructive some of his language and taunts were.

      “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature” looks like a basic flag planted to fly the orthodox colors and thus a good place to begin a discussion. My preference would be to start a new topic, Part II or something.

    • ok I’ll start a technical discussion thread.

      • Good call. There are some interesting patterns emerging on Climate Etc., including this two phase commit to get to a technical thread (borrowing a term from distributed database theory).

      • steven mosher

        I think it’s pretty clear that Andy’s purpose as he notes below was not to have a technical thread, but rather to waste our time ( those of us who defend his science) spit in in his opponents face and try to tarnish your brand. I’m sad Fred and others wasted their time. Zamboni the whole thing. You offered him what RC would never offer you.

  135. After three days of comments, which as of now number 642, not a single response from the guest post’s author. What we are left with is a consensus true believer using Dr. Curry’s own blog to essentially undercut the central thesis in her attempt to improve the climate debate – the need to correct to IPCC’s overstatement of certainty.

    As shown by Andrew Lacis, their response is:

    “To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change. To characterize this fully documented global warming only as being ‘likely’ a ’substantial’ anthropogenic contribution is clearly resorting to unscientific understatement that does nothing to clarify or accurately portray our understanding of global climate change. Rather, using such under-whelming weasel words only adds to the deliberate public confusion regarding climate change. Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.”

    Dr. Curry has made the overstatement of certainty in the AR4 a centerpiece of much of her communication regarding climate science. and this leading light of the consensus community uses her own blog to claim, not only that the IPCC did not overstate certainty, but that it used “underwhelming weasel words” in grossly “exaggerating” uncertainty.

    No problem yet, as a skeptic I like such openness from the left. It’s really rare, and self defeating. (Which is why it is so rare – the smarter ones know better.)

    The real problem I have with the post is this dig – “Unfortunately, such subtle misinformation is being actively promoted by the fossil fuel lobbyists and their growing multitude of dupes and minions.” Other commenters have complained that this language is intemperate as an insult to skeptics. But that didn’t bother me. Insults from progressive demagogues in a public policy debate is par for the course.

    The problem I have with it is that I can’t read it any other way than as an intended insult toward the hostess of this blog. Who is more vocal in the climate science community on this issue than Dr. Curry? Isn’t her constantly claiming that the IPCC understates uncertainty perhaps the worst example (in Lacis’ mind) of subtle misinformation? So is she employed by big oil, or just a dupe and minion?

    I waited for several days and hundreds of posts to see if there would be any rejoinder by Lacis to any comments here. But it is clear now he basically saw himself as just dropping his tablets off on the mountain top for the poor heathens before going on to more important matters. At least except God didn’t call Moses a dupe and minion.

    This guest post does not show an open mind, it shows a dogmatic true believer trying desperately to turn back the tide of public opinion, and at the same time striking out in anger and condescension at someone he sees as harming his precious movement. On her own blog.

    No class.

  136. Those who suffer dupes and minions gladly generally end up sounding like minions and dupes.

    • Forgot to mention that my friend is a Ph. D. in physics who follows the field closely and has a very wide circle of highly influential executives and Ph. D.’s.

      • David – I hope you’ll forgive my presumption in offering you some advice. When you started commenting in this blog very recently, you brought with you great credibility due to your expertise in fluid dynamics. I believe you have since been rapidly forfeiting your credibility through statements that to me convey a strongly biased attitude toward the state of climate science, and a disinclination to give up any of your preconceived notions.,

        I appreciated your initial participation, because I thought that those of us who knew something about climate change could learn something from you. The problem is that there appears to be a huge amount that you could learn from climate science but which you are refusing to hear. In a comment last night, for example, you claimed you had repeatedly asked about clouds and aerosols with no answers. That’s false. I addressed one your questions several days ago, pointing out some serious misconceptions you harbored on the topic, but you appear to have ignored that response and your recent comments tell us that you still don’t understand many of the concepts central to a basic understanding of climate change.

        I continue to believe we can learn from you, and those who create climate models for a living (I’m not one) can probably benefit even more. But if you don’t learn from us, you will continue to make claims that are often false and sometimes absurd. That would be unfortunate, since you certainly seem to have the capacity to learn if you choose to open your mind to what others are saying.

      • Fred, I apologize for not reading your post. My time is limited. With due respect to your knowledge, I want the modelers to answer the question because it is a very obvious question that none of them has attempted to answer for me. Anyway, one problem is navigation and I’m having trouble finding your post. Where is it?

      • David – I don’t remember any more, and my contribution was too inconsequential to search for it. I only wanted to make the point that we appreciate what we can learn from you, but also hope that you’ll take the opportunity to use these discussions to enhance your own knowledge of climate phenomena so that you see the topics you discuss in an accurate perspective . In view of the gracious comment I just read from you to Andy, I very much don’t want to be combative but only to make the mutual interactions here more rewarding.

        (PS – I don’t remember my entire comment, but part of it had to do with the fact that in dividing up attribution for the forcings responsible for post-1950 warming, uncertainties regarding anthropogenic sulfate aerosols are not particularly important, because their net cooling effect wouldn’t influence the percentage apportionment among the warming factors)

      • Fred;
        An aid to finding past posts is the FF Lazarus add-on. You can set it to retain entries for as long as possible; I boosted the default 14 hrs(?) to 54 weeks, e.g. It captures content and URL, so you can go directly to the location, and offers search, copy/close, and many other options.

      • typo: “as long as desired …”

        It’s main use, of course, is recovering partial entries which go “blip” due to hardware, software, or wetware glitches. ;)

      • Grammarnasty/ [I’m so ashamed!]
        Its main use …
        /Grammarnasty

      • Brian – Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  137. Judy – thanks for hosting this discussion on the CO2 greenhouse thermostat. Thank you also for doing a great job running this blog and generating a free-wheeling discussion on a wide variety of topics.

    In response to an earlier comment that you had ‘already deleted a bunch of comments’ that were off target, hopefully that was not on my behalf. While there may be a need to keep the discussion on target, and the discourse from getting out of hand, the design goal is to keep the discussion as free flowing as possible.

    Obviously, my choice of words was clearly not inadvertent, nor was the word selection made without forethought. In responding to some of the comments that have expressed disapproval at my word choice, I offer apologies to those who were expecting a pure discussion on science. But, as I suspect, most of the readers here are well versed on the political aspects of global warming, if not on all the science issues. To them I would respond that if you really find that the shoe fits, then by all means, wear and kick!

    Thirty years ago, when the basic understanding of global climate change was being formulated, there was no real cause for the use of vitriolic dialog in climate science. Global warming was then mostly an academic topic with little public interest. But things have changed. Fossil fuel industries have come to realize that efforts to counteract global warming might adversely impact their financial interests, and they have decided that promoting doubt on global warming serves their financial interests best. This has resulted in a well-funded and well-orchestrated effort to discredit climate science, and to sow doubt and disinformation in the minds of the public.

    Thus, we have come to have climate change as a science problem, and climate change as a political problem. In my describing the reasons for writing the Science paper, addressing the political environment was a prime reason – hence the strident rhetoric to match the topic. We did not politicize climate science. That was orchestrated by the fossil fuel lobbyists on behalf of their myopic business clients.

    But, as Fred Moolten has noted here earlier, the heated rhetoric neither adds nor distracts from the science at hand. Fred Moolten writes his comments with a great deal of patience, with diplomatic politeness, and well-informed clarity. It is primarily Fred’s comments (and also those of Pekka Pirilä) that keep this blog relevant for me. There have been numerous occasions where I might have thought about posting a comment, only to find that Fred and Pekka have already posted the pertinent explanation or physical insight.

    Having been in New York for as long as I have, I no longer posses Fred Moolten’s diplomatic temperament. After all, politeness and diplomacy are not the first thoughts that come to mind for the typical New Yorker. Accordingly, I tend to be amused by the heated rhetoric, not distressed.

    It would of course be far better if all the heated rhetoric could be eliminated. But I don’t see how we can get to that point – not with the conservative media persistently using charged rhetoric to make their points, and then being upset when somebody yells at them. I find it amusing when some liberal type yells at the conservatives, and they come running home crying “Mommy, those nasty mother-beating leftist liberal fascists are being mean to me.” Note that there is a prominent conservative Senator and several prominent conservative Congressmen who continue to label global warming as the greatest hoax ever perpetrated. Clearly, failure to respond to such unfounded accusations cannot serve any useful purpose. I think it works best if there is a well-thought out strategy that can be applied for which the opposition can find no effective response (e.g., Martin Luther King’s non-violent civil rights strategy). But not having that option available, I think that mathematical game theory suggests the simple ‘tit for tat’ approach as being the best survival strategy. Let us then have a level playing field when it comes to using heated rhetoric, go ‘tit for tat’.

    • Dr Lacis,

      I work for an electric and gas utility. Would that fit within your definition for a fossil fuel industry?

      The reason I ask is that utility companies, including those reliant on coal plants, are allowed to recover capital costs, in the form of rate increases to their customers. Exactly where is the financial incentive to “oppose” science and research on climate change? My company is heavily involved in developing wind generation capacity. As I understand it – and since I don’t lunch with the CEO on a regular basis, my understanding could be off – among the driving factors are a) state regulation setting % requirements for renewables (which does not necessarily have to be related to AGW concerns) and b) state and federal credits. Utilities have far more pressing issues than to worry about a few researchers.

      I am 15+ years removed from my Atmospheric Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry courses. And since graduating, the only time I’ve been able to make use of my degree has been as a science education mentor. So I don’t feel qualified to argue the science with you, even with a MS in Environmental Science and Engineering. However I believe I am qualified to recognize bogeyman arguments that come straight out of the operating handbook of some environmental organizations. (Note: the non-profit I am associated with long ago scrubbed any reference to “environmental” education from it’s publications, due to the considerable negative connotation the term has accumulated. The primary reason for the negative connotation has been a history of poor science and lack of due diligence.) Therefore, speaking as a layman trying to understand what to believe or not to believe, seeing a term like “fossil fuel industry”, one so broad as to defy specific facts and data, I can’t help but to wonder about motive and objectives. There appears to be 100’s of millions, if not billions, being spent either on research, alternative energy solutions, or other CO2 reduction based projects. What is less apparent is how much is being spent and by whom, on efforts to discredit the science. Can you see the disconnect someone like me might see on this?

      • timg56 – One would only have to look at Europe to understand the situation (energy companies profiting from climate change scares, that is). But I don’t think Andy Lacis wants to understand the situation.

      • Since Andy is profiting quite nicely from climate hysteria, he has disincentives to actually understand the issue.

      • timg56,

        Point well taken. There certainly is no justification in painting the entire fossil fuel industry as being complicit in promoting disinformation about climate science. Nor is that my intention. But very prominent members of the fossil fuel industry (such as the Koch brothers, Exxon) are very actively supporting efforts to discredit climate science via conservative ‘think tanks’ such as the Cato Institute, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, among others, and their efforts unfortunately reflect on the entire fossil fuel industry.

        The fossil fuel industry is absolutely essential in supporting the level of culture and civilization that we have come to take for granted, and I have nothing but admiration and gratitude that all of this is possible.

        I (and the climate science community) have been working on understanding the physics of global climate change, in particular, we have been working to understand the climate impact that the increasing level of atmospheric CO2 has on the global temperature of the Earth. Our finding show that we are, in effect, approaching a cliff where intensifying global warming will bring ecological disruption and a rising sea level that will inundate low lying areas.

        What I find troubling is that the leading chieftains of the fossil fuel industry are choosing to willfully ignore (actually willfully deny) the impending climate crises. They appear to be arrogantly comfortable in driving full speed ahead, as if the cliff ahead simply did not exist. Given the large thermal inertia of the climate system, it is unlikely that we will go over the looming climate cliff in out lifetime. Perhaps they are operating on the outdated ‘no regrets’ policy formulated under George Bush the elder, that it’s business as usual – should there arise a problem, we will deal with it then. In other words, global warming is not likely to affect us in our lifetime. We will let our children and grandchildren deal with the climate crisis when it hits them.

        The fossil fuel industries have accumulated a great deal of capital. They should be hedging their bets and start investing in alternate energy sources. As I mentioned before, the thermal inertia of the climate system is very large. We should not want to create a climate problem that our children and grandchildren might not be able to solve.

      • What I find troubling is that the leading chieftains of the fossil fuel industry are choosing to willfully ignore (actually willfully deny) the impending climate crises.

        And it is absolutely true that the fossil duel industry has never sponsored any study of non-renewable energy depletion that didn’t amount to a sunny outlook for future supplies.
        Doing something like that has never been in their interest. Someone might say that if they did, they could be accused of jacking up prices by warning about availability, but that would have amounted to a different kind of collusion.

      • Thank you for the reply Dr Lacis.

        I am under the (possibly mistaken) impression that energy companies (which I’ll suggest is a more accurate descriptor than fossil fuel industries) are putting resources into alternate energy sources. It might look insignificant compared to how much they spend on searching and recovering new supplies for oil and gas, but they don’t really have a choice. One might as well try to reverse the planet’s rotation as to try and turn the world economy around on a dime and convert it to non-fossil energy sources in the matter of decades.

        There are very good arguments that to try would cause as much disruption as many of the purported impacts of a 2 – 4C climate. And it is at this point that my scepticism comes into play. It is a lot easier to see the impacts of $10/gal gasoline, or being forced to rely on public transportation, watching my energy bills double and triple or seeing tax dollars spent based on political concerns and not on sound business reasons (> 1/2 billion on Solandyra (sp?) ) than it is to believe that maleria is going to break out in the Pacific NW, that massive species extinctions will occur and that billions along the world’s coastlines will undergo forced evacuation. )

        I may be willing to give climate scientists the benefit of doubt with regard to what is happening to the planet’s climate. It is when either they or others (the others often being politicians or scientists who have traded in their lab coats for suits and enter into the policy making field) starting prophacizing doom that such benefit disappears.

        I’m willing to make the following wager – that it is far easier to prove the benefits of cheap energy, of whatever fuel source, to the Earth’s population than it is to prove the harm that will derive from producing that energy.

        Thanks for the exchamne and the opportunity to express my opinion.

    • It is primarily Fred’s comments (and also those of Pekka Pirilä) that keep this blog relevant for me.

      Eat your heart out, Mosher!!!

    • Andy, this post seems to me to be totally wrong from a political perspective. To win the argument, you need to win over well educated people who influence their friends, etc. See my later post about a good friend of mine who agrees with Lindzen about the models. He is very liberal. He thinks fresh water is the really big issue, not warming.

      I think you don’t help your cause by doing the usual conspiracy argument, funded by the fossil fuel industry. There is also a huge green movement funded by hundreds of NGO’s. You know its called the Bill of Rights. I think the problem for you is that the climate science team is losing as Jim Hansen admitted to the Royal Society and he said just what you said. It reminds me of the whining we hear from unsuccessful politicians. Tit for tat will not win this argument for you because it harms science at the same time. In all honesty, it is an integrity question. Climate science does have deep uncertainty. By not acknowledging that more directly, you make people like me question the competence of the science itself and its motivations.

      In the larger scheme of things, there are plenty of other challenges facing humanity. Science should provide facts and data, not write journal articles designed to “counter” the political enemy.

      This last post has reinforced all the negative sterotypes of climate science that climategate and the scandals of the IPCC have encouraged. You are making the problem worse.

    • My tit was teeming ’til tucked into. Wot dya tink o’ tat?
      ================

  138. “I was irked by the persistent use of wishy-washy terminology such as ‘likely’ and ‘very likely’ that was totally uncalled for. . . Such ‘social sciences’ terminology might be allowable if there was no other available evidence for global warming except for the statistical analysis of a relatively short global temperature time-series (on which there is superimposed a substantial natural variability component). But the physical evidence for global warming is quite overwhelming, and it is downright irresponsible (and stupid) not to make use of it.”

    An interesting collection of assertions coming from a scientist. Expressions of uncertainty are wishy-washy social science babble. And the physical models used in climate work are so perfectly specified that every time they are run they generate deterministic facts. The models themselves must never have been tuned with data, but churned out with brute force logic, infallibly, pressing out every air bubble of uncertainty in the process.

  139. Dr Lacis does seem to have attracted some hostility on this blog. However, I think those who criticise him should try to imagine themselves in his position. He’s spent a lifetime studying climate.
    No doubt, many of the denizens would have spent a lifetime too, doing what they do for a living. So how would you all feel about it if Dr Lacis started to criticise what you do? Its highly likely he just wouldn’t know what he was talking about, right?

    • Stirling English

      The pontiff and all his cardinals have, presumably. spent a lifetime studying catholicism. That no more makes them immune from criticism than ‘a lifetime’s study of climate’ makes runaway Lacis.

      If he were to have stayed here and argued his corner he might have gained some respect. But his absence merely shows his lack of desire to discuss…merely to ponificate then withdraw to his comfort zone ivory tower. Not a mark of a ‘scientist’ confident that he has the facts on his side.

      • Stirling English

        In case of any doubt, I do not judge Lacis’s lecture above on the evils of fossil fuel and the conservative MSM to be ‘discussion’. Just haranguing Mark 2.

      • No doubt practising Catholics would go along with that argument. However, those of us who put our trust in science as the best way forward would agree that you can equate the two in that fashion.

      • Ah!!! Should be “can’t equate the two”

      • Stirling English

        I think you need to carefuly reread what I wrote. It does not say what (I think) you think it does. Indeed the exact opposite.

        To put it simply, Lacis does not get the free pass on criticism that you would like hom to have ust because he’s spent a long time ‘studying climate’

      • I’m not sure what you think I think it says, but it does mean what I think it says, I think!

      • Stirling English

        D’accord!

        :-)

    • Dr Lacis should try to falsify the AGW hypothesis. That’s science. Confirmation is pseudo-science. It’s his job to criticise! If he doesn’t, somebody has to.

      • Dr Lacis should try to falsify the AGW hypothesis. That’s science. Confirmation is pseudo-science. It’s his job to criticise! If he doesn’t, somebody has to.

        Do you understand how scientific research has historically been carried out? Traditionally, you have theorists who would postulate some idea and experimentalists who would try to wring it out. These two don’t have to necessarily be the same people, and normally aren’t because of the differences in skill sets. (e.g. some theorists are clumsy in the lab and can’t do an experiment to save their life, but are brilliant otherwise).

        Whether you believe that there are enough skeptics to counter the ideas that Lacis is presenting is a different story. Science has always been a competitive field and the spirited discussion level between theorists and experimentalists (in this case data analysts) has always been lively. They don’t do things just because you want them to, and someone will fill in the gap.

        If he doesn’t, somebody has to.

        Then go for it.

      • I think that protecting the current paradigm is always bad for science – it’s an obstacle to progress of science. It’s corruption of science. I also think that most of the established science is what Feynman called Cargo Cult Science, which refers to practices that have the semblance of being scientific, but are missing “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty”.

      • This is a little like wishing for endless revolution in society. It is only when the paradigm is stable that productive work gets done. Revolutions are necessary for progress but they are very expensive cognitively so we can only afford them from time to time.

      • David,

        That’s the paradigm of paradigms and I disagree with it. I think utter honesty is the most productive and it’s the paradigms that we can not afford. Scientific paradigms are unnecessary for progress and are very expensive cognitively. When i say paradigm, I don’t mean scientific knowledge, which is entirely different.

      • Edim,

        Dr Lacis should try to falsify the AGW hypothesis.

        Methinks you are only saying that because you don’t like the “AGW hypothesis” !

        If the consensus were that emissions of CO2 were totally benign you’d be happy with that and wouldn’t be encouraging anyone to question the consensus. Would you?

      • Latimer Alder

        If my grandmother had balls she’d have been my grandfather. Interesting observation but hypothetical and irrelevant. Like yours

      • I’ll take that as a no then , shall I?

      • Latimer Alder

        Since it is an entirely hypothetical proposition, you can take it as a ‘null’. X’00’ in ASCII.

      • tempterrain, no I wouldn’t. Yes, I don’t like the AGW hypothesis because IMO it’s pseudoscience, dogma and propaganda. I like scientific method and especially falsification, because i think it leeds to better and more progressive science. You know, trying not to fool yourself. I am encouraging questioning and critical thinking in all things. I don’t like hypocrisy.

        CO2 is not a pollutant, but CO2 hype is a big polluter.

      • Susan Anderson

        “Dr Lacis should try to falsify the AGW hypothesis. That’s science. Confirmation is pseudo-science. It’s his job to criticise! If he doesn’t, somebody has to.” That is a fascinatingly peculiar statement. It illustrates perfectly the fake in fake skeptic. Edim has a position, and anything that agrees with him (her?) is science and the vast bulk of skilled work on science and climate over history is pseudo-science. I’m dropping in here, don’t plan to return, but if this is not obvious to you, it should be. When I see claims about prejudice from real scientists I see the words stood on their heads.

        Real scientists question with true skepticism. Although denial perfectly describes the phenomenon, we are not allowed to use the word because it associates with a similar one in a limited historical case and is politically incorrect.

        In addition “the AGW hypothesis” is a sloppy code phrase that defines a point of view rather than real science. What you mean, I think, is climate change due to global warming enhanced by excessive use of materials including fossil fuels – greenhouse gases – which have a greenhouse effect, that is they trap heat in our atmosphere. The effect has been clarified so often it is not surprising in any technical discussion to have this baseline understanding used as a starting point. It is here and has been well described by science/physics (the theory) and supported by evidence such as the obvious trends in weather over time and space (decades and the whole globe). Anyone is hiding their head in the sand if they ignores the increasingly frequent and extreme floods, droughts, water shortages, wildfires, food supply problems, socioeconomic unrest and other associated problems showing up in world news. Insurance companies and the military are paying attention. They are multiplying in the usual herky-jerky way that is normal for real life, but trending towards more extremes at a rate that has been understated by scientists, who tend to be conservative and stick with saying things they believe they can support, as not doing so would damage their professional standing.

    • Latimer Alder

      @tempterrain

      I think we can assume that Dr Laics would consider himself to be a ‘professional’. By his CV I guess he has been in academic research for the best part of 40 years, and by his seniority we can guess that he is not being paid on the poverty line.

      He has been around. He can look after himself. He is not a grumpy teenager or a toddler whose feelings need to be considered and pampered at every step.

      He is a big boy now. His feelings are of no concern. Nor yours or mine or those of the Man on the Clapham Omnibus.

      And judging on his propensity for giving it out to others, he is not afraid of mixing it himself. He is a player.

      The essence of science is to remove feelings and emotions as far as possible by concentrating on what the observations and data actually tell us about how Nature works…not about how you think it might work or would like it to work or would make you feel better if it did so work.

      That you put up this pathetic little gripe about Lacis’s feelings shows that you still fail to grasp this simple yet fundamental point.

      • “His feelings are of no concern.” Ok Fair enough.

        However, Stirling English ( he’s not you as well is he?) did seem to be upset that Dr Lacis didn’t seem to want to come down from his “Ivory Tower” to play with the “unwashed”. (Hunter’s phrase)

        So you can’t have it both ways. But I suppose I should recognise that you are climate change deniers, so of course that not may apply to you guys!

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        Lost me there sport. Not sure where anybody is trying to have anything both ways..definitely not my bag in any of its many connotations So where is the problem/contradiction that you see?

        And would you care to remind us exactly what you think I am ‘denying’?

        I’l certainly plead guilty to pointing out that you have made any sort of case that AGW is an urgent problem we must do soemthing about. But beyond that – where is the ‘denial’ you so readily accuse me of?

      • Latimer Alder

        Oops

        Typo para 3. Should read ‘you have NOT made any sort of case that AGW is an urgent problem we must do soemthing about’

        Sorry. Not enough coffee yet this morning.

    • tt

      Its highly likely he [Lacis] just wouldn’t know what he was talking about, right?

      That seems to be the gist of several posts here. Downplaying the importance of water in the atmosphere (as vapor, liquid droplets or ice crystals) and playing up the importance of CO2 seems to many to be rather foolish

      Others have addressed his rather unscientific sounding style and choice of words. They do, indeed, make it sound like he doesn’t know what he was talking about.

      Max

      • Max,

        I should have known that if it was possible to take comments absurdly out of context like that, to imply a completely different meaning to what was intended, you wouldn’t hesitate to stoop that low!

      • Latimer Alder

        And your considered and measured refutation of Max’s entirely reasonable interpretation is what exactly?

    • Dr. Lacis may be an expert on climate but he clearly is a neophyte when it comes to incorporating any kind of probabilistic uncertainty into the fruits of his discipline. He reminds me of a physics professor who one stated that if he needed statistical tools to describe his data then his data are so bad that they must be worthless. And I’m afraid that he is not alone. Many physical modelers, and especially climate modelers, seems to think that as long as their models are “science-based” then there is no need to account for uncertainty in their outputs, notwithstanding that the model parameters are tuned with data, and that aspects of these models are likely to be ill posed (highly sensitive to small perturbations in the values assigned to parameters). Apparently none of these ideas play in Dr. Lacis’ world.

    • Come on. This is not the question at all. People criticize my work all the time. Andy though seems to have developed a bunker mentality where tit for tat is the ingrained response. That’s politics, not science. It is bad, bad, bad for the proud tradition of scientific integrity and the future of climate science.

  140. The question is if JC has now woken up to the manipulation she’s been casually inflicted by somebody fancying himself in a war against evil deniers, and therefore not at all interested in avoiding the collateral damage of poisoning this blog.

  141. I knew saving the planet was less important than intellectual property for some climatologists. I didn’t know it was also less important than protecting their feelings.

  142. ..and it was immaterial.

    Max

  143. On the wider GISS front, Hansen has new numbers to add to the scare, numbers I have not seen before. Perhaps someone can track them down. Here they are:

    “Significant climatic “extreme events” were now occurring over 10 to 15 per cent of the planet annually, whereas between 1950 to 1980 they occurred over less than 1 per cent. He added: “So in places like Texas this year, Moscow last year, and Europe in 2003, the climate change is so big that they are undeniable. Within 10 to 15 years they’re going to occur over 15 to 20 per cent of the planet, so people have to notice that the climate is changing.””

    From http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/global-warning-climate-sceptics-are-winning-the-battle-2368617.html

  144. Bart R, regarding your claim that I am dishonest at http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/09/atmospheric-co2-the-greenhouse-thermostat/#comment-120783.

    I seldom comment on the physics because I am not a physicist. I comment on the logic because I am a logician. The science of uncertainty is not a branch of physics, it is a branch of logic. Most of the debate (and this blog) is about uncertainty, not physics. Your comments indicate that you do not grasp the difference, which is why you think most of us are irrational or dishonest.

    • David Wojick

      ‘Self-deluded’ is more apt than ‘dishonest’, but when they get twisted, words are such blunt objects.

      It is my observation of your professional self-categorization that you are a logician much in the same way as psychologists in general are neurosurgeons, which is to say rarely, with a pronounced preference for substituting words for action or results, and with an unshakeable confidence of being equally valid. I’d have guessed more.. marketing scientist.

      Uncertainty, while it plays a role in science, is in my view not a science at all, but a mathematical or statistical phenomenon of ignorance, complexity and chaos. While epistemologically it can be examined by philosophers, it is hardly only the province of philosophy by words without deeds. There are tools for cutting into Uncertainty and probing its workings no epistemological treatment can deliver.

      Surely you know the many jokes about Physicists who regard all fields as merely subordinate branches of Physics.

      The same applies, I think, to Logicians or Philosophers who do not acknowledge the limits of their own competence or of their own study.

      The difference — which I appreciate more than you can guess — is that a Physicist drops two like objects — one red and one blue — of dissimilar mass off the top of Uncertainty and watches what happens, and might like Newton derive laws, and builds on those laws to the point that interesting questions might be asked about a difference of a 60 billionth of a second, while a marketing scientist draws trees of all the opinions expressed by everyone in the audience and wonders what opinions he ought repeat so he can sell more red balls.

      Further, while you assume that because I find you and a few others irrational or dishonest, I find most to be so appears to be an elementary logic error of applying the individual to the general.

      I find most correspondents here, especially some of the least repetitive, earnest, sincere, truthful and reasonable.

      Even posters who fall sometimes into traps or errors of reason from time to time are not irrational per se, nor usually could be characterized overall as dishonest.

      However, it is as if some shrike has stuck you upon the thorn of the most superficial of epistemology as a substitute for even the most perfunctory inquiry, and you cannot free yourself.

      Let me free you, Dr. Wojick.

      Physics is neither especially hard nor frightening. Overcome your phobia of physical facts long enough to read some of the links Dr. Lacis provides.

      Wander away from the field of Marketing for a time. It will still be there when you want to go back to it.

  145. Brandon Shollenberger

    In light of Andrew Lacis’s comment here, I have to retract my defense of his blog post. I still stand by my position that he is not the best of writers. In fact, I now feel comfortable going beyond that and saying, he’s a terrible writer. He has openly stated he intentionally used inflammatory language in his post to ensure the discussion would not remain a technical one. He has intentionally sabotaged the very discussion he was responsible for creating for no purpose other than to get at people he dislikes. Rather than his being inadvertent comments, he proudly admits what he said was nothing more than attempts to insult people. This makes him a terrible writer. Not just because he ruined the dialog he created, but also because his insults were paltry, unconvincing things which serve serve to demean himself and his position.

    It also makes him many things other than a terrible writer, but I don’t want to participate in the same name-calling he seems to favor.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      My life for an preview/edit feature. There’s an extra “his” in one sentence, and a second “serve” instead of “only” in another.

  146. Just wanted to relate a personal experience that I think bodes very ill for the climate science team. I know well a Ph. D. in physics who follows the field closely and is a manager. He is very left of center. I asked him to watch Lindzen’s youtube seminar at FermiLab. He told me that he readily conceded the main point which is that the models are very dicey. Apparently at least twice in the last 30 years, cosmological models have been found to be wrong by factors of 2 or more.

    A cautionary tale for the team as they try to persuade us that the models are meaningful and tell us we are about to experience catastrophe.

  147. David,

    The political perception of climate science is not exactly my prime topic of interest. I don’t really pay that much attention to what either the climate contrarians, or what the fervent environmentalists may be advocating. My prime focus and interest is really on the physics of the climate change problem – cold and unflavored, ‘just the facts, ma’am’, opinions don’t count.

    I have no illusions about ‘winning new friends, or influencing new people’ on this blog. I posted my material here because it might be of interest to those people who may stop by and are trying to understand the problem of global climate change. Otherwise, I adopt the attitude that people have the Constitutional right to believe whatever it is that they want to believe, even if their beliefs are at variance with reality.

    I remain unimpressed with any of Lindzen’s arguments. Lindzen’s expertise is in stratospheric dynamics, not climate change, or climate modeling, being as he has never published anything significant on these topics. I believe that Richard Goody was Lindzen’s PhD advisor, but Lindzen seems not to have learned much about radiative transfer from his mentor. As for (the shortage of) fresh water being the more important problem than global warming, I might agree with you on that – but the two are related. Actually, the whole global warming problem could be summarized as being a global over-population problem – it is, after all, the exploding human population that is driving the growing energy needs, causing the negative environmental impacts, and in the process, also causing a shortage of fresh water.

    In my remarks, I occasionally throw in some gratuitous commentary. It has been standard practice for the climate contrarians to describe climate science and climate scientists in derogatory fashion. Now, I would not want them to establish a monopoly – bystanders might otherwise come to think that bashing climate scientists is a totally unchallenged and acceptable way of doing business.

    As for the ‘usual funded by the fossil fuel industries conspiracy’, one would have to be unusually naïve to think that the vocal crescendo against global warming is just the normal expression of scientific skepticism. Clearly, there is a wide spectrum of ‘deniers’, ‘skeptics’, ‘doubters’, ‘contrarians’, or whatever other label one might choose to affix in order to attribute some measure of motivation that might lurk behind the hostile skepticism.

    I seriously doubt that attaching labels by either side in the debate achieves anything positive, but it does delineate the growing divide. Do note, however, that most of the global warming debate is not amongst climate scientists, but between climate scientists and just about everybody else.

    I have absolutely no problem about science being criticized. That is after all how scientific progress is made, and how new principles of science get established. There is no doubt that it is the physics that will win the final argument.

    And what the physics shows, is that global warming continues unabated. The coming decade will see new temperature records being set because the greenhouse gases will continue to increase. This will be exacerbated by the increase in solar radiation since the 11-year sunspot cycle is now in the upswing, instead of in its downswing mode as it was during the past decade.

    • Andy,

      Thank you for your response. You know I don’t care about the harsh rhetoric so much. It is a free country and you seem like a very good scientist. What concerns me more is the failure to acknowledge deep uncertainty in the science.

      I know Lindzen is controversial. My only put is that he does have some good ideas about where we need better data etc. and he should not be marginalized.

      Let me try some other arguments on you:

      1. The problem with effective action on CO2 is the developing world. Muller is probably right that nothing we do here will make much difference. Ask yourself what we need to convince the Chinese. I argue strongly that we need better methods and better data so we can quantify uncertainty. Political rhetoric will not help.

      2. I am still naive enough to believe that science should have higher standards than politics. What sets science apart is complete honesty. We cannot hide declines, call editors and scare them into resigning, etc. The exposure of this has hurt both science and the political debate.

      3. My real fear here is the imminent death of climate science. Let me share with you how this happened in CFD. People, including NASA people only showed positive results and used “colorful fluid dynamics” to convince laymen that the results were right. Problems were only mentioned when an improvement had been found. The result was that people with the purse strings became convinced that the problem was solved from the scientific perspective. This resulted in defunding research, I mean the true breakthrough research into better methods and data. Running codes ad infinitum is still funded however. The result is an effective death of CFD as an innovative science. With all due respect (and I mean this as a constructive criticism) just saying that the patterns look realistic is colorful fluid dynamics. Much more rigor is required to judge model fidelity and accuracy.

      4. Global warming is happening, but there is a lot of uncertainty about the magnitude and that’s critical. Let’s focus on getting a new Manhattan project started to dramatically improve the science. Sceptics (the reasonable ones) would support this strongly. And Gavin Schmidt can think of it as job security. However, and this is the CRITICAL point, noone will give you anything if you maintain that you already get the perfectly correct answer. Talking about uncertainty increases credibility with administrators in my experience. My brother runs an HMO and he tells me that the medical literature is unreliable because of the huge amounts of money involved. He hires independent people from OUTSIDE the field to audit the advisability of proceedures and treatments. Maybe that’s what is needed here. In general however, people like my brother are very receptive to people who are honest about uncertainty.

      Anyway, My best regards.

      • David,

        Some comments on your 4 points.
        1. The problem of effective action on CO2 in the developing world will be decided by the politics in the developing world. They will do whatever they think is in their best interests. That is a political problem, and not something for which scientific has an answer.

        2. Science does have very high standards, and is totally different from politics. Unfortunately live in a political world, and not a rational scientific world. Science has its own way of doing science. And politics unfortunately has its own way of running what it thinks is the peoples business.

        3. There is no need to fear for the health of climate science. Climate science is making good progress on schedule. Good science keeps on evolving and prospering. But politics unfortunately is politics and can do things that are incredibly stupid when they feel to be so inclined. They could decide that mathematics is already well understood and in no need of further funding. Or they might decide that the best way to eliminate the global warming problem is to eliminate funding for climate science. That wouldn’t be smart. It would be a self-inflicted injury that would set back our scientific understanding. But climate science would not disappear since the climate change problem will always be there.

        4. Global warming is happening, and there is a lot of uncertainty. Yes, but there being uncertainty, doesn’t mean everything is uncertain. In the same way, if something is certain, that doesn’t mean that everything is certain. The objective is to identify those things that are certain, and those thing that are uncertain, and try to determine the degree of certainty and the degree of uncertainty. Thus, as I have stated before, the radiative forcings that drive climate change are being accurately measured and we understand the effect that greenhouse gases have on the greenhouse effect. We know the climate sensitivity to radiative forcing to be about 3°C per 4 W/m2 of forcing to within something like a 10% uncertainty, base on current climate modeling and the geological record (see Hansen et al., 2008) for details http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha00410c.html
        The natural (unforced) variability of the climate system is going to remain highly uncertain for the foreseeable future.

      • Andy, this is where I must part company with you. I read the 2006 Schmidt paper and it says that the latest model shows a sensitivity of 2.6 degrees K. The Hansen 1988 congressional testimony used a model that showed 4 degrees K. And you are saying 3-4 degrees K. You know it might be 1 degree K or 1.5. This is a HUGE uncertainty and your failure to acknowledge this is not good. The Hansen 1988 testimony by the way is just one more example of something that backfired. By failing to provide uncertainties in his forcasts, he called into question all forcasts.

        Really, this kind of thing is not going to cut it with me or most educated Americans. This is why you are losing the argument

        Anyway, please think about it.

        David Young

      • David,

        You are correct that climate sensitivity is probably more uncertain than to <10%, however there is a substantial literature on why it is very likely greater than 1.5-2 C per doubling of CO2, while ruling out higher end values of climate sensitivity is much more difficult. There are several reasons for a skewed tail toward the high end of sensitivity, involving statistical methods underlying sensitivity estimates, as well as theoretical reasons, and there are also several reasons (based on paleoclimate evidence) that the longer-term outlook (e.g., hundreds of years) could yield a sensitivity on the order of 6 degrees C or more after accounting for slower feedback processes. See the recent NAS 2011 report on "Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations and Impacts over Decades to Millennia" for example.

        There is absolutely no evidence for a very low sensitivity inherent within the Earth system, and there are only a few authors currently publishing, such as Lindzen or Spencer, that are still arguing the point…generally based on very questionable methodology and assumptions that do not stand up as being robust to a wide line of evidence. There is thus no scientific foundation for "inaction based on uncertainty," and the typical selling point about climate sensitivity being too uncertain is no longer convincing.

      • To add to the point made by Chris Colose, the low sensitivity estimates from Lindzen or Spencer/Braswell that he refers to are based on short term climate fluctuations of the ENSO type. There have been challenges to the conclusions these authors have drawn, but even if these conclusions are correct, they have little relevance to long term responses to CO2 or other agents that exert a persistent forcing. There is almost no evidence to support an equilibrium sensitivity to the latter below 1.5 C, and little to suggest that it is less than 2 C.

      • Chris, But this is where I have trouble. I am not convinced. If you look at the last ice age, there was almost no change in “forcing” but a 4 degree K change in temperature. Does this imply an infinite climate sensitivity? The problem I have is that “internal variability” is almost certainly linked to the forcing signal. I question that we know enough about the last glacial maximum to determine climate sensitivity. People keep pointing to this but it relies on assumptions about vegetation and dust that cannot possibly be very well known.

        In any case, the models give 1.5K – 5.0K and Judith has shown very well that the NCAR model could be overestimating actual temperature change by 50%. Look at the plot of AR4 vs. AR5 runs of this model. Look, its complicated. And what we need is to invest money in reducing the uncertainty. It is interesting that Andy says that uncertainty about internal variability will remain large. Then in my book, uncertainty about climate sensitivity will remain large.

        Climate is always changing and those changes have consequences. You know, if it turns out that the number is 5K, there are also mitigation strategies that don’t involve economic disaster. These are called geo engeneering I think. Those things will have broad support if there is a problem.

        We are now 0.8K warmer than in 1900. There are no significant downsides that I can see. If anything a somewhat warmer world with more CO2 may have a lot of positive.

      • Chris, Sorry I misstated something. If the uncertainty about internal variability remains high, then the uncertainty about the future change in climate will remain large. The history I see here is that climate sensitivity has been over-estimated by the science. In 1988 Hansen had 4K. Now GISS has 2.6K. The problem, and please think about this, is that the sensitivity will be hard to pin down because of the positive feedback that all the models assume. Small changes in the assumptions about clouds and water vapor, etc. have large impacts. Leave the politics aside, from a scientific perspective, the future course is clear. Start focusing on the science and the uncertainty and stop the dubious claims such as that climate sensitivity is known to within 10%.

  148. Also to claim that the temperature change is well defined even though the details are wrong is a statement that sounds like the assurances that we heard from bankers that subprime mortgages should be rated AAA. It has no scientific basis and is pure speculation. If this were really true, then climate models are a total waste of time and money and we should just do energy balance arguments based on simple models of clouds and other feedbacks.

  149. David, Pekka, et al. It’s Lorenz, and not Lorentz. Unless, of course, this discourse has drifted into discussions of special relativity effects in NWP and GCMs.

  150. Hi everyone,

    I am very surprised to have found on this blog no mention of professor Wood and his experiment from 1909, regarding the so called “greenhouse effect”.

    First, about professor Wood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_W._Wood

    And now his own words:

    “THERE appears to be a widespread belief that the comparatively high temperature produced within a closed space covered with glass, and exposed to solar radiation, results from a transformation of wave-length, that is, that the heat waves from the sun, which are able to penetrate the glass, fall upon the walls of the enclosure and raise its temperature: the heat energy is re-emitted by the walls in the form of much longer waves, which are unable to penetrate the glass, the greenhouse acting as a radiation trap.

    I have always felt some doubt as to whether this action played any very large part in the elevation of temperature. It appeared much more probable that the part played by the glass was the prevention of the escape of the warm air heated by the ground within the enclosure. If we open the doors of a greenhouse on a cold and windy day, the trapping of radiation appears to lose much of its efficacy. As a matter of fact I am of the opinion that a greenhouse made of a glass transparent to waves of every possible length would show a temperature nearly, if not quite, as high as that observed in a glass house. The transparent screen allows the solar radiation to warm the ground, and the ground in turn warms the air, but only the limited amount within the enclosure. In the “open,” the ground is continually brought into contact with cold air by convection currents.

    To test the matter I constructed two enclosures of dead black cardboard, one covered with a glass plate, the other with a plate of rock-salt of equal thickness. The bulb of a themometer was inserted in each enclosure and the whole packed in cotton, with the exception of the transparent plates which were exposed. When exposed to sunlight the temperature rose gradually to 65 oC., the enclosure covered with the salt plate keeping a little ahead of the other, owing to the fact that it transmitted the longer waves from the sun, which were stopped by the glass. In order to eliminate this action the sunlight was first passed through a glass plate.

    There was now scarcely a difference of one degree between the temperatures of the two enclosures. The maximum temperature reached was about 55 oC. From what we know about the distribution of energy in the spectrum of the radiation emitted by a body at 55 o, it is clear that the rock-salt plate is capable of transmitting practically all of it, while the glass plate stops it entirely. This shows us that the loss of temperature of the ground by radiation is very small in comparison to the loss by convection, in other words that we gain very little from the circumstance that the radiation is trapped.

    Is it therefore necessary to pay attention to trapped radiation in deducing the temperature of a planet as affected by its atmosphere? The solar rays penetrate the atmosphere, warm the ground which in turn warms the atmosphere by contact and by convection currents. The heat received is thus stored up in the atmosphere, remaining there on account of the very low radiating power of a gas. It seems to me very doubtful if the atmosphere is warmed to any great extent by absorbing the radiation from the ground, even under the most favourable conditions.

    I do not pretent to have gone very deeply into the matter, and publish this note merely to draw attention to the fact that trapped radiation appears to play but a very small part in the actual cases with which we are familiar.

    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html

  151. Timothy Sorenson

    Anyone have a good paper reference ‘explaining’ how warmist view the annual amplitude of 5.x ppm of C02, in conjunction with continual C02 output, conclude the residence time is thousands of years? The biosphere drops the C02 5ppm in 1/2 year. With an increase of .0251ppm per year in the applitude. Which seems to indicate that if we stopped our C02, the larger gulp the biosphere is taking would in would put the residence time on the magnitude of only 10 years.

    • Pierre-Normand

      Timothy Sorenson, The 5ppm drop you refer to is the seasonal signal over 6 month. If we would stop emitting CO2 then the seasonal signal would continue unabated but it would contribute nothing to the underlying trend. It would still cause 2.5ppm variations up and down around the trend. The underlying trend is a function both of our rate of emissions and of the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere (and of sea surface temperature, but this varies very slowly). The partial pressure determines the net rate of annual uptake. The “airborne fraction” is the ratio of the rate of uptake and of our emissions. It is currently about 50%. This means that the equivalent of half our annual emissions of CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by the oceans and terrestrial biomass. So, that amounts to about 2ppm of CO2 per year. If we would stop emitting, therefore, the atmospheric CO2 concentration would immediately start dropping at a rate of 2ppm per year since the rate of removal would remain the same. However, the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere would also progressively drop over the years and so would the rate of ocean uptake.

      It is because of this progressive diminution in the rate of uptake that it would take a long time for atmospheric CO2 concentration to fall back to anything close to pre-industrial levels. If we would get to a 100% increase in CO2 concentration before we would stop emitting completely, it would then take between 50 to 150 years for concentrations to drop 60% of this increase depending on feedbacks. It would take thousand of years for it to drop to 10% above the initial equilibrium concentration. Look up the references given by Judith Curry at the end of this blog post:

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/24/co2-discussion-thread/