Week in review 12/3/11

by Judith Curry

Its been a busy week for climate news, I am travelling and am trying to catch up.  Here are some things that caught my eye the past few days:

Climategate Etc.

Pat Michaels is rightfully incensed over emails from Tom Wigley, including this snippet:

“You may be interesting [sic] in this snippet of information about Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels, PhD needs re-assessing?”

Stefan Rahmsdorf has been ordered by a German court to desist from violating the rights of a journalist (related to a blog attack by Rahmsdorf).  The original Der Spiegel article is in German, Pierre Gosselin writes about it [here].

At WUWT, Professor Robert Brown of Duke University writes a provocative essay entitled “FOIA is not enough. Why not legally mandate transparency in climate research?  A modest proposal . . .

At The Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente writes that “Suppression of debate is a disaster for science.

Steve McIntyre posts the latest funny from Minnesotans for Global Warming.


Some perspectives from Africa:

If the Durban conference is not your cup of tea, perhaps you might prefer the Beer and Wine Climate Change Summit at Duffy’s Tavern Dec 15.  The Summit is being held in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania (not far from the Penn State campus).

Revkin on climate sensitivity

Andy Revkin has an interesting post entitled “On the climate high end, methane time bombs, and the lure of the new.”  I find this statement to be curious:

I agree with Gavin Schmidt of NASA and Realclimate that there’s little relevance of the enduring climate sensitivity question to public policy. In a phone chat, he said that arguments about specific levels of climate sensitivity, or specific goals for carbon dioxide concentrations, have little meaning as long as the world is not slowing down from its accelerating path on emissions.

Well, the relevance is this.  If the sensitivity is 1.5C vs 4C, CO2 sensitivity may be within the range of century scale natural climate variability (or not).  Which has very different policy implications in terms of CO2 stabilization.

Sky Dragon Update

From Chris Ho-Stuart:

Announcement!This comment is likely to be number 1762 in the thread. That’s getting a tad hard to follow, is it not? Yet obviously people still have an interest in continuing.

I’ve set up a discussion board called “Sky Dragon”to enable a more convenient way to host longer discussions that spin off from exchanges in the comments to blog posts here at climate etc — or anywhere else for that matter. Dr Curry knows about this and is happy for us to give it a try; she’ll be adding an announcement about it, I think, in one of the “week in review” blog posts.

The board is easy to use and intended to be a space where anyone can participate. I set it up mainly because of this enormous comment stream, but the board should conveniently manage exchanges on pretty much anything arising here. There are a couple of introductory posts on the board now, but no real content as yet. There will be shortly!

I plan to start a topic there on Gbaikie’s space ship example; anyone else can beat me to it and get started right now. Topics might include the G&T paper, or the published rebuttal by me and Joel and others, or Postma’s model, or anything you like.

Moderation is modeled pretty much on what occurs at climate etc now. In principle administrators can delete or modify posts that fail to follow the fairly obvious guidelines found at blog rules for climate etc. In practice, it takes too much time to enforce rules, so its going to be wide open at first. If problem posting becomes a huge issue for people using the board more responsibly, then a moderator can step in; but my best advice for users who don’t like the incendiary material is to just ignore it.

There’s a lot of scope to extend a board like this; it would be easy to add strongly moderated sections, and assign anyone as a moderator to parts of the board; the options behind the scenes are considerable. But for the time being it should be a lot like posting here, with a couple of extra features.

Let me know what you think, either here or on the board. Everyone here is most welcome to come and help get it rolling, or to come with popcorn and watch what happens with it.

196 responses to “Week in review 12/3/11

  1. John Vetterling

    I posted this elsewhere, but Landsea has an interesting opinion piece up at NOAA


  2. Shocked, shocked I say to see Judith quoting Pat Michaels but failing to mention how he deleted legends and data when he reproduced Urban’s graph at his blog.


    I guess it was just an “intemperate” deletion of legends and data while reproducing a graph?

    • Joshua –

      I’m trying to find a way to get my understanding to agree with my analytical observation that you may have a point.

      Do you have a link, because at the moment all I have is a recollection of an accusation by Urban in an interview.

      I’d like a little bit more before I’m ready to join you in asking our host for something to balance the partisanship re Pat Michaels.

    • Anteros – Patrick Michaels, as you probably know, is the Chief Editor of WorldClimateReport (WCR), a website which consistently distorts the results of climate-related papers to imply conclusions that the authors of those papers do not hold. I used to keep a file of examples, readily documented by comparing, side-by-side what WorldClimateReport said with what was actually in the featured papers. (I gave it up out of boredom, and the fact that nobody seemed to be paying attention to WCR anyway.)

      I have no idea whether or not Wigley’s comments re: Michaels PhD. thesis have any validity. But, if Wigley’s email is the only “evidence of a very serious attempt to destroy my credential”, Michaels is (once again) on pretty flimsy ground. His statement that “The global circulation of this email has caused unknown damage to my reputation” is laughable, for several reasons.

    • Lots of authors put pro-AGW spin on their results, because that is what they believe. Pat is good as seeing alternative interpretations. A lot of the so-called evidence for AGW isn’t.

    • David – Alternative interpretations are fine. I said: “…consistently distorts the results of climate-related papers…”. There’s a difference.

    • Pat, I doubt there is a difference here. I used to follow Pat M.’s writing closely and admired it greatly. I suspect you just disagree with him.

      Speaking of which, Pat M is a lukewarmer, not a skeptic. I disagree with him.

    • Pat is good as seeing alternative interpretations.

      lol! Seeing an “alternative interpretation,” by taking a graph from Urban’s paper, deleting legends and data, and posting the resulting manipulated graph on his blog (and even more interestingly, with no indication that he had manipulated the data)?

      With that kind of “vision,” I’d say his “view” that AGW isn’t harmful is 20/20 and 100% correct. No “uncertainty” whatsoever.That’s how it works when you distort data.


    • I was specifically referring to presenting an interpretation that differs from the authors, not simplifying a graph. But simplifying a graph in order to focus on one line is not manipulating data.

    • Joshua:…(and even more interestingly, with no indication that he had manipulated the data)?

      Deliberately distorting is a great way of finding one’s way out of cluelessness.

    • Patrick Michaels, as you probably know, is the Chief Editor of WorldClimateReport (WCR), a website which consistently distorts the results of climate-related papers to imply conclusions that the authors of those papers do not hold.

      And it is okay to *boost* implied and intended meaning…. Lol

      The good guys can be as subjective as they please but the baddies are charlatans eh?

      Everyone is subjective.

      … [cue John Houseman in the Paper Chase]

    • Anteros -

      Towards the end of the article:


      Seems pretty cut and dried, to me, although hunter (and apparently David W.) don’t think there was any problem.


    • Joshua -

      This is a bit depressing as I was quite willing to see something quite fraudulent. In fact, as an advocate and politically oriented [never mind politically-funded] operator I think Pat Michaels has done a lot worse than this. I think his congressional testimony v Hansen is a good example.

      The reason I say that is because, without an agenda at all, I think I’d have used the graph Michaels did. The fact that it suits his purpose just makes him look more guilty [especially as he has 'previous']. The combined graph is clearer, more relevant and doesn’t misrepresent (much) what the study says. The study itself didn’t need to stress the separate components of the combines climate sensitivity – some studies don’t. Lastly, we can over-emphasise the fact that it is Urban who is pissed off with what Michaels did – for presentation purposes. Perhaps he didn’t like the fact that Michaels admitted on his blog that he had ‘adapted the graph, which to me sounds honest enough.

      I have to admit, I’m not sure why I’ve always given Michaels such leeway – and it isn’t because he’s a lukewarm sceptic. His books are quite ‘honest’ if you can believe it. He openly owns his place in the tribe which means he doesn’t sound like an Iago like Michael Mann who says ‘the science has spoken’ and implies he’s only intere4sted in the ‘truth’. Maybe Michaels just has the kind of PR that works with me, or perhaps I don’t think of him as a working scientist but as a mirror to Al Gore, so I take a bit of data ‘presentation’ for granted.

      Perhaps all I can say is that yes, he’s probably guilty of many of the things you suspect, but it doesn’t bother quite as much as it should. I think he’s a lightweight blusterer.

    • Anteros – That’s an interesting perspective on Michaels. I don’t really agree, because I see his data manipulation with the Schmittner et al paper as not very different from “hide the decline”, but I acknowledge that the gravity of these offenses is a matter of judgment, and depends on context.

      I was particularly interested in your comment that Michaels is a “lightweight blusterer” because it reminds me of a thread here about his congressional testimony last year on the causes of recent warming, when he cited increased stratospheric water vapor but neglected to mention the subsequent reduction. It turns out, if you read the commentary, that Michaels appears not to have come up with any of that evidence himself, but was simply reciting what Chip Knappenberger had given him. Readers can go back to that thread for their own view, but the clear impression I got was that Michaels was the mouthpiece and Knappenberger the person who actually familiarized himself with the evidence.

      What this has to do with Michaels’ PhD dissertation, or who wrote it, is something I don’t even want to speculate about.

    • And Judy sided with him on that one too. Lol.

    • Urban did say in two different places that the black curve was their main result. One should not alter a figure without being very clear about it though. And I prefer the full description with all uncertainties spelled out.

      It was also dishonest of Michael’s to only show curve A from Hansen’s graph. Just as dishonest as people hyping only the worst case and the congressional aide opening all the windows before Hansen’s testimony.

      Maybe Michael’s thinks it is ok for him to be as extreme as they are when they delete data that trends down and merge it with other data.

      I don’t agree with his decisions but I condemn both sides. I was glad to see that other web sites had put up the original version of Urban’s figure.

    • Anteros -

      I don’t think that what Michaels did was some horrible offense, but I do think it was a clear example of manipulating data with the intend to advocate for a partisan perspective on the climate debate: it was tribalism pure and simple (and btw, according to Urban Michaels did not give any indication that he had modified Urban’s graph when he posted his manipulation of Urban’s graph on his blog).

      I read a lot of arguments from either side about the “hockey stick” graph, and I don’t understand the technical background well-enough to weigh in on many of the debates, but I do think that it was a case of manipulating data to advocate for a partisan perspective on the climate debate. In other words it was tribalism.

      Tribalism on one side, tribalism on the other side. And the beat goes on.

      When a climate warrior, such as Michaels, focuses on denouncing tribalism, then he shouldn’t engage in the same kinds of practices that he denounces.

      And further, when someone like Judith makes a name for herself by (rightly) denouncing tribal influences on one side of the climate debate, IMO, she shouldn’t engage in moral equivocation about tribalism on the other side of the debate. There’s a feedback loop, and tribalism on one side exacerbates the tribalism on the other side, and on and on, and the jr. high school food fight continues apace. Focusing on one side only won’t improve the quality of the climate debate.

      Pat Michaels has testified before Congress. He plays a role in policy development.

      Judtith thinks that “climategate” has caused a “crisis” in confidence in climate science; well, shouts of “hoax” and “AGW-cabal,” and the kinds of tribalism that Micahaels engages in, are a part of climategate – so her contention that tribalism among “skeptics” doesn’t have significant impact isn’t even internally consistent:

      Urban was right when he said that what WCR and Michaels did was contradictory to skepticism. It was advocacy. It is “skepticism” that gives skepticism a bad name. I think it’s unfortunate when “skeptics” who decry the impact of tribalism on the climate debate don’t denounce “skepticism” as practiced by “skeptics” like Michaels.

      And btw – I don’t agree with Urban’s statement at the end of the article when he talks about how “skeptics” would be upset if a climate scientist had done what they did. I think that misses the point. If a climate scientists had done what they did they should rightfully be upset. The point is that, simply, no one should do it and no one should justify it and no one should engage in moral equivocation about how one side does it worse than the other.

      Sorry for the rant. I haven’t had my coffee yet.

    • ‘…did what they did.’ Joshua, It’s coffee time. You can smell it too.

      I don’t agree with Urban’s statement at the end of the article when he talks about how “skeptics” would be upset if a climate scientist had done what they did.

    • Like it or not, advocacy is the heart of the democratic decision process. People of like mind band together to be heard. They present their strongest case for the actions they want, and criticize their opponents case to block actions they object to. If this is tribalism then tribalism is central to democracy.

    • David –

      If this is tribalism then tribalism is central to democracy.

      I will agree that it is better than most other alternatives. I do still think that the democratic process will be better served if people on both sides of the debate denounce tribalism and don’t rationalize for it.

      I have certainly heard, however, from both sides of the debate that the best way to win the battle is to double-down on the tribalism. I’ve been told that, specifically, from “realists” who say that using the term “denier” as a blanket characterization of “skeptics” is only engaging in the battle as it the lines have been drawn. I disagree with that perspective just as I disagree with moral equivocation about tribalism from Michaels or McKitrick.

    • Joshua, Vietnam was tribal. Buddhist against Catholic. The Buddhists won. Cause and effect. Demo…people power.

    • Certainly justifies taking away his PhD, no doubt. By the way, maybe you have a comment on how the “land only” plot in your hobby horse graph of the week changes Michaels’ analysis, given how the “land + ocean” and the “ocean only” plots look.

    • Joshua | December 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm | ….can’t prevent any fraud in the sense of can’t prevent all fraud, of course.

    • trick or fraud, it is a fine line

    • Interesting article, Tom -

      Part of what I found interesting was the juxtaposition between these two excerpts:

      First this:

      There are so many misconceptions about sea levels, not least that they are constant throughout the world. In fact, there are big variations — by as much as two metres. You need to think not of a constant, level surface, but of an agitated bath where the water is slopping back and forth. This is a dynamic process.

      Then this:

      This is not due to melting glaciers: sea levels are affected by a great many factors, such as the speed at which the earth rotates. They rose in the order of 10 to 11cm between 1850 and 1940, stopped rising or maybe even fell a little until 1970, and have remained roughly flat ever since.

      Allow me to quote again from the article (with a slight modification):

      Explaining this … can be very hard.

    • It might be instructive to list all the times Judith has mentioned anybody. And then see if she recounts their past sins everytime she mentions them.
      I say Jones all the time without recounting the fact that he urged others to delete mails or hide the decline. What do you make of that? I mention Briffa all the time without recounting his past wrongs.

      Do the study. I dont know what you will find but it might help your case

    • Joshua is reduced to fibbing about WCR. The graph that is the focus of his faux outrage is clearly marked as derived from the Urban paper. It is interesting how persistently, yet poorly, our Joshua does this.

    • hunter,

      Despite being thought by some to be “thoughtful”, Joshua seems to have trouble with the phrase “adopted from”.

      Of course, those who find Joshua “thoughtful” don’t seem to consider him to be hyper-partisan.

      I guess moral superiority and considering oneself to be above the fray can get complicated.

    • This whole discussion of Michaels seems to me to miss the point. I don’t think Michaels is publishing in the peer reviewed literature. He is an advocate and I assume open about that. To compare his sins to Mann’s is just nonsense and shows how some still want to minimize climategate. Climategate is much more serious because it affects the literature, which is supposed to be non-political (yea we now know that’s something the team consciously subverts). It also affects the IPCC reports which are at least supposedly the basis for government policy. The powerful need to adopt higher standards that those with less power. The reason is clear, the asymmetry of the consequences of error. Certainly, the climate science insiders wield enormous power over the peer review process and thus in my mind should be held to a very high standard. Michaels may make some mistakes, but they are corrected with full selfrighteous and hypocritical indignation by his “betters” and even by the court jesters here on this blog. I would include Fred and Joshua in this category, at least on this issue. This is as true in politics as in science. Powerful politicians who wield government power recklessly should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens because the government has the power to use unrestricted force to enforce its excesses.

    • I don’t think Michaels is publishing in the peer reviewed literature.

      Michaels publishes in the peer reviewed literature and has been called to give congressional testimony where policy decisions were at stake. He used manipulated data to misrepresent the science on at least two of those occasions.

    • Still, he works for a Washington DC think tank I believe. In any case, he is clearly an outsider in this community as evidenced by the emails. My point remains that the climate heirarchy should have a higher standard to meet. And what do you mean by “misrepresent?” That’s a pretty broad term.

    • The misrepresentation is described in several comments in this thread.

      David – Your previous comment told me two things.

      1. You don’t know what’s in the literature.
      2. You were eager to click on the Comment button based on what you wanted to believe rather than take the time to ascertain the facts.

      Since I don’t think you’re really as closed-minded and biased as some who populate these blogs, I hope you’ll reflect seriously – very seriously – on the possibility that your current impression about the state of climate science and the evidence for human-induced climate change is dreadfully wrong and needs to be fundamentally reconstructed almost from scratch. That’s not to say that anyone has a monopoly on truth; it’s simply that you owe yourself a better accounting of how you go about ascertaining the truth.

      There’s hope for you yet. A dim hope, but still hope. (You recently told me there was still hope for me, and I’m returning the favor)

    • Fred, Fred, Fred: I note that your response is off topic and is just a restatement of our disagreements.

      1. You keep on referencing the necessity to have a detailed knowledge of the literature to have an opinion. I think that’s clearly wrong, especially in this field. As I have said before, and you agreed, the model validity would be almost an accident give the levels of numerical error, the questionable subgrid models, and the nature of the Navier-Stokes equations. Yet, this fact is obvious to anyone with a working knowledge of fluid dynamics. It requires no special knowledge of the climate science literature. By the way, Fred, do you know what a turbulence model is? If you are ignorant of this, perhaps you should just bow to my superior knowledge on this one. (It does show how childish your post is doesn’t it?) In any case, I have looked far enough into the literature to determine some rather obvious things concerning the noisy data in this field and the weak signal being sought. I have also listened very carefully to experts who I trust, including Lindzen and Muller, and Judith Curry. With all due respect, they are far more expert than you are. So stop with the appeal to authority, indeed your own authority at that!!

      2. You are unresponsive to the point. This is just projection on your part and “mind reading” which surely the august Fred from his vast experience in medicine knows is not only unscientific but ethically questionable.

      No I will not reconsider based on your latest post. You are the one who needs to reconsider. What I find is that you always downplay any issues with science, whether it be in climate science, or medicine and are unresponsive to queries about specific instances of bad science, especially in medicine where I assume you are far more expert than in climate science.

      I did find your peculiar spin on Schmittner’s differences with the literature to be funny. You quoted the 67% lower bound of 1.7K, which is OK so far as it goes. But an equally valid point would have been to say that with some of the forcing assumptions, there were peaks at 1.3K. And of course, the author himself said that the new study did change our view of high sensitivity as postulated by many other scientists. It’s perhaps a minor point, but it does show that all of us sometimes perhaps don’t give as balanced a view of a results as others might desire. Perhaps the same thing applies to Pat Michaels.

    • Well, at least think about reconsidering. I will too.

    • Maybe Joshua will find our response to Nathan Urban to be enlightening:


      -Chip Knappenberger
      World Climate Report

  3. An excellent summary . .

    As the Great Durban Gabfest drones on, reality slowly breaks through the green walls and takes root in the common sense gene.

  4. NPG has 2 papers of interest,One a preface on extreme events and the organisation of a number of representive papers outlining the range of our understanding and the lost in translation problems eg

    A major gap in mutual understanding between statisticians
    and geoscientists arises from the fact that the definition of
    extreme events is often conditioned on an event’s impact,
    be it on health, the economy, infrastructures or ecosystems.
    Hence, high-impact geophysical events may be called extremes
    by some researchers, although a physically quite similar
    event occurring in a different place or under different conditions
    would not have the same impact and thus would not
    qualify as an extreme in the public’s mind.


    The second is on the limitations in using various methodolgies on “post processing ‘ of model errors (aka hands under the bonnet) eg

    If the model at hand representing the dynamics of reality
    is good enough and if we have a good knowledge about
    the uncertainty in the forcings and in the initial conditions,
    one could imagine to perform projections to get a reliable
    estimate of the possible outcomes. However models are always
    affected by model errors, increasing the uncertainty
    on the possible outcome (see e.g. Stainforth et al., 2007;
    Knutti et al., 2008), in particular in case of (non-linear) systems
    that could experience catastrophic changes (i.e. bifurcations).
    These errors may indeed considerably affect the
    specific structure of the system’s attractor and of its bifurcation
    diagram. Their presence is amply demonstrated by
    the difficulty of atmospheric models in reproducing correctly
    the climate, as illustrated by the robust systematic errors that
    are still present in the climate of state-of-the-art models (e.g.
    Berner et al., 2008).


  5. I’m going to wander into the Pat Michaels/Tom Wigley contretemps with some trepidation, but I can’t help wondering why Judith Curry chose to state that Michaels was “rightfully incensed” by a Wigley email questioning Michaels’ PhD credentials. Incensed – undoubtedly, but rightfully so? How are we to know without a full understanding of the validity of the Wigley accusations or of Michaels’ effort to refute them?

    The problem for me is that if had been anyone but Michaels, I could have assumed the indignation to be righteous. However, if we want to think of public relations climate wars as involving two camps, with perhaps Michael Mann the target of justifiable criticism for the type of dishonesty that comes from concealing evidence, then I would have to judge Patrick Michaels the epitome of dishonesty in the other camp. There have been multiple episodes, including congressional testimony many years ago, but the two most recent ones both attracted attention in this blog. The first involved his congressional testimony (last year if I recall) attempting to refute IPCC attribution of warming to GHGs, in which he invoked as a putatively non-anthropogenic contribution, rising stratospheric water vapor. At the same time, he neglected to mention that stratospheric water vapor subsequently declined, offsetting at least part of the effect. I believe that Susan Solomon had some authorship in both reports – the one that supported his position, which he cited, and the one that undermined his position, which he omitted. Conceivably, this was simply exceedingly poor scholarship in his case, but if so, it’s an inexcusable level of ignorance, and one that seems a doubtful excuse to me.

    The second example is unassociated with any doubt, and was reported here last week in regard to the Schmittner et al paper on climate sensitivity. The paper produced a graph of probability distributions, with the average showing a sensitivity range somewhat on the low side, but with a separate curve demonstrating inconsistencies in the evidence that raised questions about this interpretation. Michaels reproduced only the average curve in a Forbes article and left out the other one – a “hide the decline” type of omission that found Nathan Urban, one of the paper’s authors, rightfully incensed by the misrepresentation in a thingsbreak interview.

    Where does this leave me? With a bad taste in my mouth for the whole thing. I don’t like to see climate vendettas, where one combatant (e.g., Wigley) goes after another for perceived past sins in an attempt to discredit him, when the proper approach is to discredit current scientific claims if the claims are not creditable. Even so, it was a private email, which makes it less troubling, and apparently it’s Michaels who wants to make it public. In any case, I’ll be happier when this type of personal assault from hyper-partisans in both camps is replaced by legitimate scientific debate.

    I do hope, though, that Dr. Curry will reconsider her use of the word “rightfully” regarding this case, unless she has inside information about the specific content involved.

    • Fred,

      How many people do you typically copy in your “private” e-mails?

    • It depends, John. It could be none, or it could be 50, depending on how many people I want to communicate with. What would make it private is that I intended it only for the recipients – otherwise, I would put it on the Web or write a letter to the local newspaper.

      As I mentioned above, this type of warfare, which we see from both sides is distasteful, but I hope my saying so doesn’t start a war here about who is a good guy and who a bad one. Or about how private is private. There are larger and more troubling issues at stake.

    • I assume you don’t work in a large organization.

      For those of us who do, all e-mails are assumed to be “forwardable”, and we are constantly reminded that no e-mail is “private”.

    • John – Forgive me for saying so, but I think you are illustrating what happens when someone decides to be a combatant rather than make an effort to get rid of the personal overlay that clouds scientific issues.

    • Personal overlay that clouds scientific issues?

      Like trying to get people fired because they disagree with you?

      Like sending “private” e-mails and copying over half a dozen people in large organizations?

      Fred, forgive me for saying so, but I think you are having trouble putting all this in perspective because you dislike the “victims”.

    • John – If you want an argument, you’ll have to find somebody else. There’s already too much of that, which was one of my points.

    • John is spot on about emails. In the pharma business in patent and other litigation emails (among many other types of documents, of course) are subject to discovery. It is just common sense to be clear and precise in one’s communications. If you call your boss a dork in an email expect it to come out, and bear the consequences. I am 99.44% sure the comment about Pat Michaels PhD work was meant to be bitingly humorous, but the reading of it now looks petty and childish at best (just as it was when it was sent).

    • I guess if you wanted to find an argument you’d go looking to argue about the use of the word “rightfully”, but then you’re not looking for an argument.

    • Hah, this little interchange cracks me up, but I can’t quite figure out why. Is it self-parody? Is it cowardice? Is it preciousness? All three? Beats me, but it’s a classic, Fred.

    • Freddy retreats into the fog of obfuscation. You are sacrificing your honor here, Fred Moolten. And for what? Durban?

    • What amazes me is that he says so much in so few words. He’s been hiding his light under a Bartholomew of barrels.

    • Freddy,

      Would you send an email to several colleagues suggesting that another scientist should have his Phd revoked, for not toeing the party line? You are making a fool of yourself, Fred Moolten.

    • “. Even so, it was a private email, which makes it less troubling,”

      Wrong. private makes it harder to correct.

    • Steven – i don’t think “less troubling” and “harder to correct” are antithetical. If I mention something about another person casually to my wife at breakfast, it would be hard to correct, but would have much less impact than if I put it here on this blog or in the newspaper. A few individuals upthread have wanted to argue about what is private and what is public. I’m not qualified to discuss the legal aspects, but from a practical perspective, I don’t see it as the main concern when it comes to undesirable hyper-partisanship of the kind we’ve seen from Michaels, Wigley, and others. For that reason, I’ve refrained from getting into an argument about that issue, to the chagrin of some of the people who commented. I think there are more important issues to discuss, and if need be, argue about.

      I also think that comments on Michaels by Joshua, Pat Cassen, and Anteros, among others, are thoughtful and worth reading.

    • Freddy, your dumb analogy is an argument. We are not talking about casually mentioning something to one’s wife over breakfast. But you know that. Why do you do this, Fred Moolten?

  6. I mentioned over at WUWT that Michaels states that it is Climategate that damaged his reputation, not these Wigley e-mails, which would have been known to only a few people had it not been for the Climategate release. Nevertheless he does go after Wigley with a recent open letter to Wigley’s boss posted at WUWT.
    I checked the Climategate e-mails further, and it looks like the bad blood is related to Michaels’ seeking Jones’ data. Some of the e-mails say they should ask Michaels to produce all the data for his Ph. D. (in 1979) or revoke it. Humorous, but not serious.

    • Legally, that’s irrelevant to the cause of action. The cause of actin was there when the emails were thought to be “secret”.

    • Are you saying that Wigley’s own opinion that Michaels did not deserve a Ph. D. is a cause for legal action even if he expresses it to only a few people and not to the whole world? Wouldn’t Mr/Ms foia be the one to blame for the damages part of this?

    • What I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter if his opinion was disseminated through the internet, or told to just one person. If it was defamatory it was defamatory with or without the leak, and if it wasn’t, it wasn’t. Whether it was defamatory is another question.

      And an aside, I’m incredulous that these supposed leading scientists are so cyber-ignorant that they think that emails are private, and that deleting them makes them disappear. If it were ever to end up in court, it would revolve around the “reasonable expectation” standard, and I would argue that anyone representing himself as a scientist shouldn’t get the benefit of being presumed a cyber-moron, even though the evidence is to the contrary.

    • Many work-related things in e-mails and written reports (think of Human Resources files) could be defamatory if made public. Does that mean these reports should never be put in hard copy or electronic form for fear of being made public?
      So Wigley thinks Michaels should not have obtained a Ph. D. on his own reading of the thesis. Did he let the cat out of the bag on Michaels’ lack of qualification, or, more likely, was that his own opinion of the thesis as a tough critic? Isn’t he allowed to be candid when speaking about the standard of someone’s scientific work?

    • Jim D,

      Put yourself in Michael’s shoes. Or put yourself in Micheal’s wife and kids shoes. How would you feel about some punk going around trying to get your Phd revoked? P.E.’s comment puts this in the proper perspective. It is called defamation, period.

    • Jim D

      Satire is protected speech. If there is a foundation for the email to be part of a running joke, however poor its literary merit, then we have a portion of a satirical gag cherry picked to get the jokester in trouble with his boss and to defame him. What a twist, if true.

      Other bases for defense against defamation as provided by wikipedia:

      Defences to claims of defamation that may assist Dr. Michaels in his attack on the Right to Freedom of Speech include:

      * Statements made in a good faith and reasonable belief that they were true are generally treated the same as true statements; however, the court may inquire into the reasonableness of the belief. The degree of care expected will vary with the nature of the defendant: an ordinary person might safely rely on a single newspaper report, while the newspaper would be expected to carefully check multiple sources.

      Dr. Michaels has resorted to a public letter to an employer. This would tend to dictate the highest standard of care before defaming Dr. Wigley; far more than reading the infamously manipulated Climategate 2.0 and flying into a tizzy. (As opposed to me merely speculating on a blog using this case as a mere example, with no intention of claiming it to be true, but for the broader edification of myself by asking the audience if they can provide evidence one way or the other. My standard of care would be less, though I engage in so much care as I may to avoid bringing unwonted notoriety to any party.)

      * Opinion is a defense recognized in nearly every jurisdiction. If the allegedly defamatory assertion is an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact, defamation claims usually cannot be brought because opinions are inherently not falsifiable. However, some jurisdictions decline to recognize any legal distinction between fact and opinion. The United States Supreme Court, in particular, has ruled that the First Amendment does not require recognition of an opinion privilege.[28]

      Can’t begin to guess if this pertains. Would take someone who understands the law to say, and I assuredly do not.

      * Mere vulgar abuse is an insult that is not necessarily defamatory because it is not intended to be taken literally or believed, or likely to cause real damage to a reputation. Vituperative statements made in anger, such as calling someone “an a******” during a drunken argument, would likely be considered mere vulgar abuse and not defamatory.

      I can’t imagine this applying to the very well-mannered Dr. Michaels in any context.

      (This could be the academic version, as might apply to Dr. Wigley’s comments. I’ve many a time heard PhD’s ask where did they get they degree? And rhetorically reply to their own question speculating about the two ply quality of the paper and the color of the ink. Doesn’t sound so different.)

      * Fair comment on a matter of public interest, arguments made with an honest belief in their soundness on a matter of public interest (such as regarding official acts) are defendable against a defamation claim, even if such arguments are logically unsound; if a reasonable person could honestly entertain such an opinion, the statement is protected.

      A reasonable person test is.. a really strange thing. I guess some reasonable person might think Dr. Michaels’ comments fair; I don’t know that Dr. Wigley’s comment would not be honestly entertained by someone, too.

      * Consent is an uncommon defense and makes the claim that the claimant consented to the dissemination of the statement.
      Innocent dissemination is a defense available when a defendant had no actual knowledge of the defamatory statement or no reason to believe the statement was defamatory. The defense can be defeated if the lack of knowledge was due to negligence. Thus, a delivery service cannot be held liable for delivering a sealed defamatory letter.

      Well.. Has Dr. Michael’s ever expressed opposition to the Climategate email release? He must have guessed uncomplimentary comments were made about himself by the targets of the hack, given their track record. Conversely, I don’t foresee any argument for Dr. Wigley agreeing to a personnel question about his job being published, given the circumstances.

      * Claimant is incapable of further defamation–e.g., the claimant’s position in the community is so poor that defamation could not do further damage to the plaintiff. Such a claimant could be said to be “libel-proof”, since in most jurisdictions, actual damage is an essential element for a libel claim. Essentially, the defense is that the person had such a bad reputation before the libel, that no further damage could possibly have been caused by the making of the statement.

      I’m not touching this one with a ten foot stick. But you may wish to.

      * Statute of limitations. Most jurisdictions require that a lawsuit be brought within a limited period of time. If the alleged libel occurs in a mass media publication such as a newspaper or the Internet, the statute of limitations begins to run at the time of publication, not when the plaintiff first learns of the communication.[29]

      No clue what this means to legal eagles in this case, if anything. For the obverse case, if someone claims email is the same as printing something in a newspaper, sure? When did all that happen, in law? But the statements by Dr. Michaels are new and well-within limitations.

      * No Third-party communication: If an employer were to bring an employee into a sound-proof, isolated room, and accuse him of embezzling company money, the employee would have no defamation recourse, since no one other than the would-be plaintiff and would-be defendant heard the false statement.

      Clearly, in Dr. Michaels’ case, not applicable. In Dr. Wigleys’ case, private confirmation among a qualified group, or publication?

      * No actual injury: If there is third-party communication, but the third-party hearing the defamatory statement does not believe the statement, or does not care, then there is no injury, and therefore, no recourse.
      In addition to the above, the defendant may claim that the allegedly defamatory statement is not actually capable of being defamatory—an insulting statement that does not actually harm someone’s reputation is prima facie not libelous. Also, the public figure doctrine, also called the absence of malice rule, may be used as a defense.

      Pretty clearly doesn’t apply to Dr. Michaels’ remarks, though obviously would to Dr. Wigley’s.

      Public figure doctrine (absence of malice)Special rules apply in the case of statements made in the press concerning public figures, which can be used as a defense. A series of court rulings led by New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) established that for a public official (or other legitimate public figure) to win a libel case, the statement must have been published knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth, (also known as actual malice).[30]

      I’ve never heard of Dr. Wigley, myself. Dr. Michaels appears to be a legitimate public figure.

  7. “Humerous, but not serious.”

    Easy to say when it’s someone else’s livlihood being threatened.

    I see over at WUWT that you are also of the opinion that it’s all OK because Wigley prefaced his comment by writing “Perhaps”.

    Which opens up all kinds of of possibilities…

    “Perhaps, Jim D is a (fill in the blank) who likes to (fill in the blank).”

    • Exactly, he used “Perhaps…” and it never went further. This is blown out of proportion by Climategate making this informal and forgotten comment public. The context shows why this comment was made. Aren’t people allowed to state their own thoughts, even if speculative or not fully researched, when writing e-mails to colleagues?

    • I’ll state the context again. A few days before the Wigley e-mail, Santer had made a comment that perhaps they should ask Michaels to produce all the data for his Ph. D. or revoke it. The Ph. D. was in 1979. This came from frustration with the his data requests to Jones and previous politically motivated misrepresentations of data made by Michaels.

    • The problem with that argument is that the “revoke his PhD” is only one of many attempts by this crowd to punish those who don’t agree with them. From suggesting Landsea be fired to taking cheer in the death of John Daly, these guys spend an awful lot of time writing e-mails of a nature that I’ve never seen in a “professional” environment.

    • Can you imagine that the ‘private’ emails of physicists, or botanists, would look like the trash that goes around among these alleged climate scientists? These people are pathetic little miscreant clowns.

    • Hah what a joke we hear skeptics all the time demanding that Hansen be fired or Mann sent to prison

      But apparently that’s fine….

      “these guys spend an awful lot of time writing e-mails of a nature that I’ve never seen in a “professional” environment.”

      You can count such emails on one hand. Within thousands of emails picked by the hacker that cover a 10 year period.

    • You can count such emails on one hand.

      Maybe you can, but I’ve only got four fingers and a thumb on each hand.


  8. This article is getting some notice, but of course the article is only to subscribers.

    Earth’s modern climate, characterized by polar ice sheets and large equator-to-pole temperature gradients, is rooted in environmental changes that promoted Antarctic glaciation ~33.7 million years ago. Onset of Antarctic glaciation reflects a critical tipping point for Earth’s climate and provides a framework for investigating the role of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during major climatic change. Previously published records of alkenone-based CO2 from high- and low-latitude ocean localities suggested that CO2 increased during glaciation, in contradiction to theory. Here, we further investigate alkenone records and demonstrate that Antarctic and subantarctic data overestimate atmospheric CO2 levels, biasing long-term trends. Our results show that CO2 declined before and during Antarctic glaciation and support a substantial CO2 decrease as the primary agent forcing Antarctic glaciation, consistent with model-derived CO2 thresholds.

    So we get to see the interpretation through press release:
    Algae helps explains Antarctic ice sheet formation

    The evidence is of a large CO2 decrease prior to Antarctic glaciation.

    • It was an interesting article, WHT. I found the conclusions plausible, but that aspect of paleoclimatology is so esoteric that I really don’t know how to judge conflicting evidence. What remains tantalizing is the question of why, prehistorically, atmospheric CO2 has shifted on those occasions when it was a primary instigator of global temperature change rather than a carbon feedback on a forcing from some other mechanism. In general, the speculations range from biological changes in carbon utilization, or in tectonic shifts that alter that ability of oceanic carbon to be removed in subduction zones or released through volcanic or other conduits from the underlying mantle, or which alter the terrestrial landscape in ways that affect the rate of silicate rock weathering. Most CO2 changes in the prehistoric era seem to have been of the feedback type, which makes the exceptions all the more interesting.

    • This is an area I am interested in, so here is my take. The idea is that CO2 reduces naturally due to weathering and natural sequestration mechanisms such as limestone formation on geological time scales, and increases mostly in volcanic eras that depend on tectonics. There’s a great AGU lecture by Richard Alley a few years ago on this mechanism. The time-scale of this reduction is tens of millions of years, and there was a fairly steady decline in CO2 since the last major volcanic age at the end of the Permian. The decline is helped by mountain building, in this case the Himalayas that started in the Cretaceous period, that speed up CO2 weathering.

    • Note also:

      >33.7 million years ago<

      the tectonic rift that opened what we now call Drake's Passage between the southern tip of S America and Antartica occurred during this epoch, isolating Antartica and altering large scale ocean circulations around that continent

      CO2 didn't cause that tectonism

    • Those fools are attempting to increase support for O’s Rule by Executive Fiat and EPA’s Regulatory Inanity.

      Make sure only to drink beer, and straight from the bottle (opened in your view, or by your own hands). And you’d better carry. These guys are nutters. Who knows what they’d do to an actual Denialist of Conservationist Dictatorshipism? 8-(

    • Should be just like our usual family reunion :)

  9. Revkin and Schmidt show us what faith-based science can be. “We know it’s bad, even if we can’t come up with a reason why.”

  10. “Andy Revkin [says] … specific goals for carbon dioxide concentrations, have little meaning as long as the world is not slowing down from its accelerating path on emissions.”

    With 10 years in New York journalism, 30 years in IT, and 10 years doing auditing, I’d have to say this is the most pathetic and mendacious BS I’ve read in a very long time.

    Revkin and his co-conspirators should all reviled and rejected from the alleged “climate science” community.

    • Tar and feather’s come to mind……. Oh, that’s when folks were punished for fraud and lying.

  11. And how about if the sensitivity is 0.1K or even net negative, as is even more likely?

    We’d actually probably be sorry, as it deprives us of a weapon to resist the Coming of The Ice.

    • Negative sensitivity would mean an increase in solar output would cause the Earth to cool…

    • lolwot, sensitivity in climate is defined as surface temperature change due to a doubling of CO2. Since everything seems to be due to CO2, a negative sensitivity would mean someone screwed up, not much else.

    • climate sensitivity applies to solar too, not just CO2, ie how the planet responds to any forcing

    • Common usage? “Climate sensitivity is a measure of how responsive the temperature of the climate system is to a change in the radiative forcing. It is usually expressed as the temperature change associated with a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.” from Wiki

    • Would the effects on clouds be the same?

      I thought climate theory held that the response to solar forcings is distinctly different from ghg forcings. Differences in diurnal temps, tropospheric “hot spots”, stratospheric cooling. All that.

    • The response at the surface isn’t very different. GISS ModelE shows a similar pattern and magnitude of surface warming whether from a doubling of CO2 or a 2% increase in solar forcing.


    • I see. The models are great at handling cloud feedbacks, aren’t they.

    • lolwot: “Negative sensitivity would mean an increase in solar output would cause the earth to cool”.

      Good grief. I suggest you get a basic book on control theory and learn a little something before you beclown yourself once again.

      Negative feedback (“sensitivity”) means that a perturbation of a system is RESISTED, not amplified. Thus an increase is solar output would cause the earth to STOP a temperature increase. It would not cause the Earth to “cool”.

    • Andrew – Lolwot is correct – negative sensitivity would imply that increased solar output would cool the Earth. You may be confusing negative sensitivity with negative feedback but it if one calculates feedback on the basis of feedback factors, it is possible for negative feedback values to be so great as to result mathematically in a negative sensitivity. Climate physics precludes this, however, as a solar forcing effect, even though it is a mathematical possibility. Lesser degrees of negative feedback leave sensitivity positive.

    • The feedback parameter by which we multiply the no-feedback sensitivity to get an actual sensitivity estimate is 1/1 – f, where f is a feedback factor. For f greater than 0 but less than one, net feedback is positive. For f less than 0, feedback is negative, but sensitivity is still positive. Contrary to my above comment, f can’t be altered to actually generate a defined negative sensitivity, but if f exceeds 1, the climate is unstable. The bottom line remains though that negative feedback is physically plausible, but it isn’t negative sensitivity, and there is no physically plausible mechanism for increased solar forcing (or CO2 forcing) to yield a negative sensitivity. Lolwot was correct in his statement.

    • Fred, this is back in the semantics arena again. Since “climate sensitivity” is by definition sensitivity to radiant forcing and commonly considered the response to CO2 forcing, “climate sensitivity” can’t go negative. However, CO2 can have other thermal impacts besides radiant, the “system” tends to be chaotic and set points below the selected zero are not considered. So as far as the math on the page you are right, Earth may not be much good at math, though.

    • It’s not semantics, Dallas. Negative feedback isn’t negative sensitivity.

      As to your other points, until one is specific, invoking terms like “chaotic” and “set points” and “other thermal” could be used to postulate almost anything, but I believe you’ll have trouble translating those terms into a negative sensitivity. If you want to suggest a quantitative, physically plausible mechanism based on known physical laws, let’s take a look at it, but you shouldn’t do it verbally – we need to see the math.

    • If you want to suggest a quantitative, physically plausible mechanism based on known physical laws, let’s take a look at it, but you shouldn’t do it verbally – we need to see the math.

      And it can’t be tax accounting math. By tax accounting math, I mean the math that involves just numbers added and multiplied in a one-off series of computations. It really has to be a derived sequence of algebraic and logical constructs built from familiar notation. Many of us can handle this because that is the way we build up our own analysis.

    • Web said,
      “And it can’t be tax accounting math. By tax accounting math, I mean the math that involves just numbers added and multiplied in a one-off series of computations.”

      Ah, and I just got a new box of crayons :)

      It really sucked when the Kimoto thing turned out to be unproven. I need a better way to tie radiant and conductive impacts together, but at atmospheric pressures it ain’t all that easy. I got a ton of circumstantial stuff building from it though. If the guys at UWM get the minimum local emissivity variation thing worked out it would help, but that is a brute force method they are using. I can do about the same thing, but my ethos ain’t what it used to be :)

    • Fred, I believe I said that sensitivity could not go negative. Surface temperature response can go below the zero used to define sensitivity. The average temperature of a glacial period would be below the baseline 280 ppm baseline.

      The radiant forcing varies basically with the S-B relationship. The thermal coefficient of CO2 is non linear peaking at -20C.
      So with a solar minimum, the radiant impact decreases as the thermal conductivity increases. Will that over take radiant? Not sure, but it definitely becomes less negligible.

      Carbonic acid is an electrolyte. Ocean acidification may have an impact of the heat transfer from the oceans to the atmosphere. That change appears to be negligible at interglacial temperatures, haven’t dug into that yet, but it is on my list.

      The interactions between these subtle nonlinear feed backs in conjunction with solar variability and internal variability are, IMHO, the definition of chaotic, being discussed on another thread.

      For the math, with a system this complex, I am not sure what combinations of maths would be the best approach. In the Antarctic though and 0.2 percent increase in thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, with a 0.1 percent decrease in solar forcing in synchronization with a natural internal cooling cycle is not something I would recommend ignoring.

    • Fred, I believe I said that sensitivity could not go negative. Surface temperature response can go below the zero used to define sensitivity. The average temperature of a glacial period would be below the baseline 280 ppm baseline.

      I agree with your first sentence, which is what this exchange of comments has basically been about. Your second sentence is correct to the extent that an unforced cooling could outweigh a forced warming – this occurs, for example, during a La Nina cooling despite rising CO2, but these are temporary oscillations. Your third sentence is a description of positive sensitivity – i.e., declining CO2 resulting in declining temperature.

      I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that changes in thermal conductivity of the atmosphere are of major importance in climate responses, but if you have positive quantitative evidence, it might be worth looking at.

    • “Your third sentence is a description of positive sensitivity – i.e., declining CO2 resulting in declining temperature.”

      That is not what I meant. The thermal conductivity of the atmosphere increases with concentration of CO2 and that impact increases as temperature decreases. i.e. move conductive air caused by more CO2 can increase the rate of surface cooling. This appears to be at least part of the reason for the reduction in ocean heat content around the Antarctic, which unfortunately is not accurate enough to verify. Argo seems to indicate that it is, but with the short period of data, it is not conclusive. That is were the proper math is really the issue.

      I was hoping that Web would add the GRIP versus Vostok CO2 lead/lags to his temperature rate of change analysis which could point towards the right approach.

      The modified Kimoto is useful for estimating some of the impacts, but it is unproven. It appears to be an application of the relativistic heat conduction equations for a mixed gas at atmospheric pressures. Not a typical application, though it is used in fluids and plasmas. Chaos theory helps identify the relationships but not the mechanisms. So I am stuck between approaches.

    • I was hoping that Web would add the GRIP versus Vostok CO2 lead/lags to his temperature rate of change analysis which could point towards the right approach.

      I can’t find a set of data for Greenland that have CO2 and Temperature side-by-side and with roughly the.same resolution. I wish I had a better mechanism for rooting out the data but I tend to use a hit-or-miss approach which hasn’t been successful so far. So I have been only looking at the temperature data for Greenland.

  12. Judith,

    Climate models and models generated by science for the planet to use as single calculations generated a cylinder!
    And I CAN PROVE IT!!! :-)

  13. I kinda like the idea of a beer and wine climate change summit at the local tavern, and may cheerfully borrow the idea. Sit with folks and talk about what we know and don’t know about climate. Some absolutely scandalous stuff has been put out trying to scare Rho DyLiners. Not sure how many of my neighbors know Nantucket and Block Island are terminal moraine structures, very recently formed, geologically speaking. Calling it a salon sounds too artzy..

  14. intrepid_wanders

    Another fun article…

    “…Seems they found out that CO2 was largely net absorbed in the industrialized ‘west’ and net created in the ’3rd world’. So pony up the cash, China, Brazil, and Africa.”

    I wonder why this has been buried? JAXA should be as exciting as NASA to report ;)

    • The “fun article” seems to be a grossly incompetent distortion of the actual JAXA work. The conclusion quoted from the article is certainly not from JAXA data. It is from some nitwit who can’t read.

      The satellite did NOT reverse conventional findings. It rather improved the accuracy of conventional findings. To see what JAXA actually does, read the JAXA reports themselves.

      The press release at JAXA itself is here: On Estimating Global Monthly Carbon Dioxide Fluxes by Region, utilizing the observational data obtained by the Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite “IBUKI” (GOSAT).

      The published journal article (pdf) is here: On the Benefit of GOSAT Observations to the Estimation of Regional CO2 Fluxes.

      The paper speaks of ongoing work to improve data products. You can check the current GLOBALVIEWCO2 dataset, and its limitations, at Globalview-CO2 (NOAA). You can try reading the JAXA releases and publications with basic comprehension to see that it is about improving accuracy; NOT about reversing what data shows.

      You can also review the well known Keeling curve, which shows that CO2 fluxes for a single month vary enormously from positive to negative with the seasons, primarily as vegetation cyclically takes up and releases CO2. The annual growth in CO2 occurs on top of the seasonal cycle, and this is a continuous increase, due to a continuous anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2. What that means is that anyone (such as the article linked in the previous comment) who presents a map for one month only as a basis for comparing regional contributions to the CO2 increase is either dishonest or incompetent. I don’t care to speculate which; I advise rather to ignore it, and go direct to the original source at JAXA.

    • That North America is a net sink has been conjectured for a long time. That the CO2 increase is anthro is speculative and certainly not from JAXA data; it is a separate issue.

    • My point is that the article from chiefio cited by intrepid_wanders is totally useless as a guide to the recent results from JAXA, or the IBUKI satellite. Go to the original.

      The roughly 30% rise in atmospheric CO2 over the twentieth century is anthropogenic. Doubt on this is pretty much the bottom of the barrel in outright denial; I decline to take that remark seriously.

      Month by month changes in CO2 are mostly from natural cycles of carbon being released and taken up season by season in natural carbon reservoirs. The seasonal cycle shows up very clearly in the “Keeling curve”. The ongoing increase in CO2 shows up in year by years changes; furthermore since JAXA measurements will include also slow fluxes by diffusion of CO2 around the planet, it’s not going to be much use for direct inference of where the largest cumulative contributions are found.

      Understanding the changes month by month is crucial to understanding the carbon cycle; this is where JAXA results are of the most scientific importance.

      North America at present does have a large natural sink. However it also has a substantially larger anthropogenic source. I am not aware of any credible basis for supposing a net sink.

      For a good summary of North American contributions, natural and anthropogenic, see The North American Carbon Budget Past and Present; chapter 3 of a formal report (2007) by the official US Climate Change Science Panel. The anthropogenic source for 2003 was 1856 Mt C (10% confidence) and the natural sink was 505 Mt C (50% confidence).

      Other estimates for this natural sink abound; but no credible science is putting it larger than the anthropogenic source. As you note, the recent measurements being reported at JAXA do not distinguish natural and anthropogenic fluxes; so that would be a different topic.

    • It is the US Climate Change Science Program, not Panel, and I refuse to take them (or you) seriously. Them I know.

    • Thanks for the correction, in all seriousness. I’m content to leave it there. Cheers — Chris

    • Chris Ho-Stuar

      If you look closely at the two regional examples compared in the JAXA study which you cited, you will see that:

      - Temperate North America NW (Region B) shows a slightly negative annually averaged net regional flux (slight net CO2 absorber)

      - Tropical Africa SW (Region A) shows a strongly positive annually averaged net regional flux (significant net CO2 emitter).

      Believe that this is the point that intrepid_wanders was trying t make.


    • Chris

      Pardon me for leaving off the “t” in your name.


    • Manaker, the point intrepid_wanders was trying to make, and also his linked chiefio article, was to reverse usual assumptions about the “industrialized west” and the “3rd world”. Read the sentence he quoted from the chiefio article.

      That point evaporates at once when you actually look at the JAXA information.

      For example, region B is not even remotely sensible as a guide to the industrialized west. It’s a large slab of sparsely populated Western Canada, for heavens sake; quite a good region for getting a big slice of the natural carbon sink and omitting the anthropogenic carbon source which I described in my reply to David just above. Region A is limited to South West Tropical Africa, chosen because of sparse ground measurements. Not only is that a poor proxy for the 3rd world in general; it is also a region known for large year to year changes in the annual flux (ref: Africa and the global carbon cycle.)

  15. Well, the relevance is this. If the sensitivity is 1.5C vs 4C, CO2 sensitivity may be within the range of century scale natural climate variability (or not). Which has very different policy implications in terms of CO2 stabilization.

    The inability to reduce uncertainty in sensitivty,suggests certainty of irreducibility with all its radom consequences.

    The first non trivial problem that arises with the consenus is if delta 2x is lognormally distributed with sigma limits of 1-4.5c and an arithmetic mean of 3c, is we find that there is a geometric mean bounded by the Khinchin constant of 2.6c


    The implications are profound.

    • Maksimovich: What are these profound implications, as you see them? They are not obvious, so your claim is cryptic.

    • Random series of numbers such as the geometric mean of Pi converges to the Khinchin constant .The harmonic mean of Khinchin and pi are the same to 3 signifcant figures,The probability distribution of the intergers of pi.are non gaussian ie assymetrical.

    • Probly not cryptic,
      What are the implications?
      Fat heads not fat tails?

    • Estimates based on paleoclimatology tend to put the sigma limits at 1.5 – 4.5 C, whereas estimates derived from modern data on forcings and feedbacks yield a 2.1 – 4.4 C range. The latter is slightly narrower than the former, but it’s true that there has been little recent shrinkage. However, this is likely to improve in the future via methods already being developed for better estimates of flux imbalances at the top of the atmosphere, of upper tropospheric water vapor, and of cloud microphysics. I don’t think we will ever arrive at a very precise figure, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the range narrow to as little as 1 C over the next 10-20 years – e.g., if a median value remains at 3 C, the range would be 2.5 to 3.5 C.

      More important, in my view, is an increasing tendency to put less emphasis on equilibrium sensitivity (approached asymptotically over many centuries) and more on transient sensitivity estimates that look at how temperature would change at the time CO2 has doubled over an interval of something like 70 years. These estimates are likely to be less uncertain than equilibrium sensitivity estimates because they are less dependent on knowing the long term rate of ocean heat uptake. A recent thread on Probabilistic Estimates of Transient Climate Sensitivity offers an interesting insight into this possibility.

    • Which is all still relatively meaningless information for the development of policy decisions. It terms of what people should do about the issue, until we have better forecasts of rainfall in different parts of the planet as a function of different CO2 levels there will be no case (or need) to take significant actions on the issue.

      Even if we had great models that could demonstrate that 60% of the world’s population would suffer net harms as a result of the world being warmer, there is no means to get the other 40% of the world’s population to comply with the views of the 60%. In the case of CO2 and a warming planet, if the 40% immediately benefit because those nations benefit, and if additionally they benefit economically by the use of lower cost energy, what forces them to change short of war?

  16. Interesting new Pew US poll numbers out on GW and AGW. The press is making a big deal out of a bump up in belief in GW among moderate Republicans (possibly due to the BEST PR).

    But the AGW belief numbers are very low, as the “howevers” below show. I thought Democrats backed AGW by 70-80% but Pew says it is just 51%, or basically 50-50. That is big news.

    Politico says this:
    “Overall, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans believe that the earth’s climate is warming.

    However, the figures drop when Republican respondents were asked whether global warming was caused by human activity in particular – only 19 percent agree with the notion. Among those Republicans who agree with the tea party, only 11 percent said that global warming was man-made; among those who disagree with the tea party, the figure jumps to 28 percent.

    Meanwhile, a majority of independents and Democrats believe that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming. Pew found 77 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree with the notion.

    However, neither group is as certain that global warming is caused by human activity – only 51 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents agree with the concept.”

    See http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/69556.html

    • David –


      Another interesting aspect of the poll:

      Only 31 percent of conservative Republicans believe “solid evidence” exists that the world is warming.

      Kind of puts into question Watts’ (and others’) claim that (paraphrasing) “skeptics” don’t doubt that the earth is warming.

      And some.

      Some 69% of Republicans don’t believe that evidence shows that the earth is warming. Perhaps that number would be different among those who specifically identify as “skeptics.” Perhaps lower, and perhaps higher.

      Once again, we see evidence that “skeptics” most definitely employ un-skeptical analysis that results in inaccurate conclusions. I’ve gotten used to that, but I have to say, this example is particularly striking.

    • Sorry –

      Some 69% of conservative Republicans. Only 37% of Republicans on the whole. Which, of course, is certainly enough to disprove Watts’ (and others’) claims about what “skeptics” do an don’t believe.

    • Sorry again (I really need to make some coffee).

      Overall, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans believe that the earth’s climate is warming.

      So – some 57% of Republicans on the whole think that there isn’t evidence of the earth warming.

      So who was Watts talking about when he said that “skeptics” don’t doubt the earth is warming?

    • You seem to be very confused, joshy. What makes you think that Watts thinks that all skeptics are conservative Republicans? Does not believing that there is “solid evidence ” for warming, mean that one rejects the notion that there is warming? Maybe you should think about this some more, before shooting off your mouth.

    • Joshua, that’s a non-sequitur. Lack of solid evidence doesn’t imply doubt that something exists, or is happening.

    • Peter, I think in this case agreeing with the survey option that that there is a lack of solid evidence is in fact expressing skepticism.

    • No David, it could just as well mean: “I don’t know. Ain’t seen solid evidence, and I haven’t noticed any significant warming where I live. Get back to me when it get’s a little hotter”

    • But Don, what you are describing is a form of skepticism, which is my point.

    • David,

      OK, you can call anyone who has not claimed to have seen solid evidence a “skeptic”. That’s not very interesting. It would be interesting to discover what solid evidence the poll respondents’ would cite, if asked. My guess is that the majority would say they keep hearing about it on the telly. It is also interesting that in 2007, 77% had seen the solid evidence, but the evidence must have gone a little squishy cause in the recent poll it was down to 63%. And the number believing in human attribution took a dive from 47% to 38%. That’s bad news for our little cabal of Occupy Climate Etc. activist punching bag clowns.

    • Joshua, my theory is that these numbers represent different degrees of knowledge, not different opinions, at least in part. That is, many people do not understand the distinction between GW and AGW so AGW skepticism may take the form of believing it is not warming. Bear in mind that many people know nothing about the scientific issues, my wife included, so there may be no faulty analysis involved here, just a rejection of the AGW scare. (By the same token we see lots of people believing that if it is warming then that confirms AGW. The press frequently confuses GW with AGW, and AGW with CAGW). We don’t know what these respondents know.

      At the other extreme, these folks may know enough to believe that the temperature books have been cooked, something a lot of people in fact believe, including some denizens here. Or they may be focused on the uncertainties. I myself believe we do not know if it has warmed or not, so I might well answer in the negative, since uncertainty is not a survey answer option (the usual survey flaw, since uncertainty is the central issue).

      The point is that given the complexity of the issues it is far from clear what these numbers mean, except that all these folks are rejecting AGW, which is good enough for me. There are a whole range of opinions, with widely differing levels of scientific knowledge, that might yield the answer that we lack solid evidence that the world is warming.

    • Is earth warming or not warming. That can be answered by looking at actual data. There are some questions about some of the data, but there is actual data. I believe earth has warmed, most of the time, not all, ever since the Little Ice Age.
      Is manmade CO2 causing a significant part of this warming? There is no data that can answer that question. The only things that have provided these answers are the Climate Theories and Climate Models. There are huge uncertainties in the Theories and even huger uncertainties in the Models. I do not believe manmade CO2 has caused significant warming and I do not believe it ever will.

    • If you think a 5wm-2 energy imbalance will result in no significant warming, how do you propose the planet ever warms?

    • What sort of energy imbalance do you think exists at the moment?
      And how long do you think it will take for equilibrium to be reached?
      And, as long as you agree that warming can only take place while the imbalance exists, how much warmer will the earth be at equilibrium?

      Think carefully before answering.

    • The planet warms when Land Ice Retreats and the planet cools when Land Ice Advances. Ice Albedo controls the Thermostat. When the oceans are warm and the Arctic is open it snows more and ice advances. When the oceans are cool and frozen it don’t snow much, the sun is allowed to melt the ice and ice retreats.

  17. On Gavin Schmitt’s remark regarding climate sensitivity:
    While it’s odd to hear a scientist say that the numbers don’t matter,
    I think that Schmitt is looking at a world rapidly adopting American standards of living and worrying. This is a potent part of the argument for those concerned that CO2 is an endangerment. It seems that humankind’s destiny it to consume all available fossil fuels at a fast rate and little can be done to stop it by humankind… what will be will be.

    My hunch has always been, based on the proportions of CO2 to O2 in the atmosphere and all the CO2 sequestered in limestones, is that CO2 is a limiting “nutrient” for the plant kindom and calcareous creatures, and hence additional CO2 will fertilize it’s own re-uptake. But as a skeptic I also have to say that what climate sensitivity is is an open question. And I should be just as skeptical of my own hunches as the I am of the doom being purveyed on the part of others, because It is also true that there are eons represented by the fossil fuels we are burning.

    • That is what happens when you get married to a theory, you get divorced from reality.

    • Especially when the model recreates a planet that is of a totally different shape!

    • HankHenry

      It seems that humankind’s destiny it to consume all available fossil fuels at a fast rate and little can be done to stop it by humankind… what will be will be.

      This is very likely true.

      A large segment of humanity (the industrially developed world of today) has pulled itself out of the poverty and squalor of pre-industrial times through the access to low-cost energy, based on the availability of low-cost fossil fuels.

      An even larger segment of humanity (the developing nations such as China, India, Brazil, etc.) are now achieving this economic development through industrialization, again based on the access to low-cost energy based on the availability of low-cost fossil fuels.

      And there still over 1 billion people who are hoping to start this industrial development, in order to pull themselves out of the abject poverty, in which they find themselves today.

      These are the facts of life.

      If other low-cost energy sources become available, which are competitive with the available low-cost fossil fuels, then these will be used instead.

      But the economic development is coming, one way or the other.

      And with it the improved quality of life and longer life expectancy, which we enjoy today.

      So when will we run out of low-cost fossil fuels?

      Energy costs have risen, partly as a result of the OPEC price-fixing cartel and the reluctance of US politicians to “drill, baby, drill”.

      But there are still a lot of fossil fuels out there. The World Energy Council has recently made estimates of the global “proven fossil fuel reserves” as well as the much larger “inferred possible total fossil fuel resources in place” on our planet.

      Based on the latter estimate, we have consumed around 15% of the total fossil fuel resources that were ever on our planet, and still have 85% to go.

      These 85% would last us 300+ years at current consumption rates.

      But it is likely that consumption rates will increase as underdeveloped nations develop their economies and as world population continues to grow. Taking this into account, we would theoretically have around 150-200 years until we “run out” of fossil fuels, all things being equal.

      But, as history has told us repeatedly, “all things are NOT equal”.

      Long before we run out, there will be new developments: fast breeder nuclear fission reactors using thorium and generating almost no nuclear waste, biofuels and improved batteries for automotive use, nuclear fusion plus things we cannot even imagine today.

      Fossil fuels will become more difficult to find and extract, and therefore more expensive, acing as an incentive to push the development of these new technologies. Finally, fossil fuels will be used essentially only for higher added-value end uses, such as feedstocks for pertrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

      So it is silly to forecast that we will burn up all our fossil fuels and then be in the dark.

      It is just as silly to slap a big tax on carbon today to artificially try to make uneconomical renewable energy sources (solar, wind) “competitive”.

      IMO the governments of the world should simply step out of the way and let the same market factors and innovativeness of humanity continue to improve the human condition, as they have done in the past.


      PS BTW all the optimistically estimated fossil fuel resources on our planet would generate around 670 ppmv CO2 if totally consumed, putting the “maximum ever possible” CO2 level (from human sources) at around 1,060 ppmv. That’s it, HankHenry. (Ain’t no’ mo’.)

    • Nice essay, Max. No BS. The Occupy Climate Etc mob should take a lesson.

    • So when will we run out of low-cost fossil fuels?

      Energy costs have risen, partly as a result of the OPEC price-fixing cartel and the reluctance of US politicians to “drill, baby, drill”.

      But there are still a lot of fossil fuels out there. The World Energy Council has recently made estimates of the global “proven fossil fuel reserves” as well as the much larger “inferred possible total fossil fuel resources in place” on our planet.

      Based on the latter estimate, we have consumed around 15% of the total fossil fuel resources that were ever on our planet, and still have 85% to go.

      These 85% would last us 300+ years at current consumption rates.

      Manacker is the same guy who says that we will never get above a certain level of CO2 because of finite resources, and maintains that we have 300+ years of consumption at current rate. The rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 is above 2PPM per year, so after another 300+ years at this rate we will add 300*2 = 600+ to our current value of 390 PPM, putting it at 1000 PPM.

      So the question to pose to Manacker: What is the physical outcome of such a high level of CO2?

  18. Glad to hear of that 1060 number.

    • Hank – That number is a rough estimate. It might be smaller if total recoverable fossil fuels are less than estimated. On the other hand, it could be substantially larger, because it’s based on the current division between the fraction of CO2 emissions that remain in the atmosphere and those absorbed by terrestrial and oceanic sinks. That “airborne fraction” will rise as the sinks become increasingly saturated. This phenomenon may already be happening although the data are conflicting (see work by LeQuere and others), but will become inevitably greater as atmospheric concentrations rise – how much is still uncertain.

    • F. Moolten- I live atop a column of Ordovicion carbonates hundreds of feet thick. I don’t see sinks becoming saturated as long as long as the sea produces seashells.

    • Hank – “Saturation” doesn’t refer to a complete inability of land and ocean to take up CO2 but to a declining proportion taken up, causing an increase in the airborne fraction. That may already be happening – Trends in CO2 Sources and Sinks – but regardless, it is an inevitable future phenomenon if CO2 continues to rise, based simply on the molecular concentrations of CO2, carbonate, bicarbonate, hydrogen ion, and other species, and the temperature of the land and ocean.

    • I see. Maybe you should have chosen another word beside “saturated” if that’s not what you meant. On it’s face your statement “as sinks become increasingly saturated” is a little puzzling.

    • Hank – “Level of saturation” is a common concept and familiar to those who work in this and other areas. Absolute saturation is almost never possible, even theoretically, in many dynamic systems, because as a concentration increases, resistance to further increase grows but would only result in absolute saturation if the resistance rose to a value of infinity.

    • Unknown, unimagined, perhaps even unimaginable feedbacks for your sinks, Fred. Saturated is probably nonsense.

    • But saturated sinks are part of the consensus dogma that freddy is compelled to peddle. We need saturated sinks to make the catastrophe warning as scary and urgent as possible. It is not playing too well in Durban. Only a few heads of state attending this latest junket for our feckless saviors. The head man from Ethiopia is there. The other big shots are from countries I have not heard of before.

    • That “airborne fraction” will rise as the sinks become increasingly saturated.

      The current model of diffusion of CO2 into sequestering sites does not assume anything about concentration levels, so that yes indeed if something like this does happen, it will make matters worse.

      Even if we maintain our current pace of carbon emissions level with no increase in the rate, the amount of carbon will increase differently than a naive perspective would hold. The physics of diffusion is like that. The fall-off is the reciprocal of the square root of time if an impulse is present, but integrate the forcing function as a sequence of impulses, and the rate will still rise as a square root of time:
      c(t) \sim t^{N+1/2}
      where N is the order of the forcing function. For a constant rate N=0 and we get the square root. Start accelerating the rate and the CO2 will increase beyond that by a half-order. So that if we maintain a linear rate of production increase, then the CO2 will increase by t^(3/2).

      We will get a scientific verification of this growth rate, if in the few decades we can monitor the amount of carbon emissions and CO2 levels as carefully as we do now, and detect any change in the atmospheric CO2 levels with the emission growth rate.

      Crude oil production rate is definitely going down, and whether coal and natural gas, as well as lower grades of oil can make up for this growing gap, we will eventually find out.

    • There is no signature of this kind in the real world data whatsoever. At best, the accumulated emissions and measured concentration vaguely track one another.

    • In climate science you won’t find a better candidate to test theories against. The atmospheric CO2 concentration signal has shown a large dynamic range (280 to 390) and has been both strong and relatively noise free,and even being able to detect seasonal changes. The carbon emission data has also shown a significant dynamic range, and while this has been a rather indirect estimation, the cumulative has been relatively accurate.

      In terms of information criteria, the predictive power of the fit between carbon emissions and a model of the resulting CO2 concentration is probably better than anything else you will find in climate science. The fit is two parameters: one parameter for the adjustment time of CO2 and another parameter for the baseline CO2. I assume the baseline is 290 PPM and the parameter I use for adjustment time matches the form that the IPCC documented in a piecewise model.

    • There is no signature of this kind in the real world data whatsoever. At best, the accumulated emissions and measured concentration vaguely track one another.

      You live in a dream world where everything evolves according to the equation you can solve.

  19. “Fred Moolten | December 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |

    Estimates (of climate sensitivity) based on paleoclimatology tend to put the sigma limits at 1.5 – 4.5 C, whereas estimates derived from modern data on forcings and feedbacks yield a 2.1 – 4.4 C range.”

    Fred quotes these numbers as if they were sort of written on tablets of stone. Far from it. The value of climate sensitivity goes to the very root of the differences between the proponents and opponents of CAGW. This is not the place to try and sort out the differences between the two sides, but suffice it to say some of us, myself included, believe the actual value of climate sensirivity for a doubling of CO2 is so small that it is negligible, and will never be measured against the background of the noise of natural variations

    The problem is that it is impossible to establish a direct link between increasing levels of CO2, and any change in global surface temperatures. We simply cannot do the experiment of keeping the atmosphere in exactly the same state, then double the amount of CO2, and see how much the temperature varies. Any attempt at comparing conflicting values for climate sensitivity results in a “he said/she said” type of discussion. This is similar to the discussions between Spencer and Dessler, and Ludecke and Trenberth. They cannot be resolved, but in the end the observed data will demonstrate which side is correct.

    Without a direct link between rising CO2 levels, and global temperatures, the numbers that Fred quotes are, at best, hypothetical. They have no basis in observed data, that directly links CO2 to the temperature. Until we can somehow find a way to directly link CO2 increases and global temperatures, the issue of climate sensitivity will remain unresolved.

    However, the question as to how long we have to wait for global temperatures to start to rise as rapidly as the proponents of CAGW claim they should, before deciding that CAGW is wrong, needs to be addressed, IMHO.

    • You correctly cite reasons why it is hard to narrow the sensitivity range, but there is abundant evidence for why the range is where it is. Earlier literature is summarized, with references, in AR4 WG1 chapters 8 and 9 and the later Nature Geoscience review by Knutti and Hegerl. The more recent studies by Schmittner et al and Holden et al, discussed in the past week, and the TCR studies described in the Probabilistic Estimates of Transient Climate Sensitivity thread cited above, offer an additional sample of the data, and should be visited by anyone interested in reviewing the evidence and methodology.

    • So what do we do, freddy? Add them all up and take the mean of the ensemble? What’s your best SWAG on sensitivity? Show your work. Tens of trillions of dollars are riding on your analysis. They are waiting for word from you around the campfires in Durban.

    • Fred, you write “but there is abundant evidence for why the range is where it is.”

      I agree. However, NONE of the evidence is from observed data and a direct link between rising CO2 levels and changing temperature. That is the critical point. Until this direct link is established, and the observed data obtained, all the evidence in the world will not convince me that the numbers you quote have any meaning.

    • Jim – With all due respect, most of us have resigned ourselves to the expectation that we’re not going to convince you and have decided to get on with our lives.

    • that’s a real sky dragon defense right there

    • lolwot


      And a pretty effective one.


    • The temperature has been rising in the last 30 years with the CO2, and a sensitivity can be derived just from these observations which is over 2 degrees per doubling. Unfortunately this is just from observations which skeptics tend not to believe, along with theories and models, so I don’t think we have a good answer for them here.

    • Jim D writes “The temperature has been rising in the last 30 years with the CO2, and a sensitivity can be derived just from these observations which is over 2 degrees per doubling.”

      I would be interested in the actual calcualtions, and the logic that proves that all the warming was actually caused by the increased amount of CO2.

    • Why the last 30 years? Why if they had done such a ridiculous thing in the 1970s they probably would have been talking about the oncoming ice age! Oh wait, nevermind.

    • Jim Cripwell, the calculation is simple enough. A 15% rise in CO2 since 1981 would cause about an 0.2 degree rise in temperature with 1 degree per doubling, but the actual warming was 0.45 degrees, more than twice the amount (even more over land). Fortunately this can be explained with known theories about greenhouse gases with some compensation fro0m aerosols. The skeptics probably accept the amount of warming and increase in CO2, but often miss the fact that these are inconsistent with low sensitivity.
      Steven asks why 30 years. In the last 30 years or so as much CO2 has been added to the atmosphere (50 ppm) as in the whole period before 1980, so this is where the signal is easiest to pick up.

    • JIm D writes “Jim Cripwell, the calculation is simple enough.”

      Fair enough, and thank you for the clarification. However, you have not answered my second question, which was

      ” and the logic that proves that all the warming was actually caused by the increased amount of CO2″

      The HAD/CRU temperature record has all sorts of short term rises and falls, and it is not at all clear to me why you seem to assume that ALL the temperature rise in the last 30 years was due to increased CO2 levels. Can you elaborate?

    • “I agree. However, NONE of the evidence is from observed data and a direct link between rising CO2 levels and changing temperature. That is the critical point. Until this direct link is established, and the observed data obtained, all the evidence in the world will not convince me that the numbers you quote have any meaning.”

      So what observed data makes you think climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is so small that it’s negligible?

    • lolwat writes “So what observed data makes you think climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is so small that it’s negligible?”

      Basically Girma’s graph. I have read all the criticisms of his work, and I find them unconvincing. There is no sign in data stretching over 150 years that anything unusual has happened to the global temperature trend since CO2 levels have increased significantly.

    • Why do you expect the temperature record would look unusual if CO2 had produced non-negliable warming.

      I’ve reduced the warming since 1970 by 0.5C:


      What’s to say that wouldn’t have happened if CO2 hadn’t risen?

      Girma would still be fitting lines to the graph. People would still be describing it as a recovery from the little ice age. It would still not look unusual.

  20. New numbers from Norway:

    “From: “Glen Peters”
    To: “Climate Change Info Mailing List”
    Subject: New Global Carbon Budget 2010

    Dear Colleagues,

    We are pleased to inform you that the Global Carbon Project has just published the new global carbon budget and carbon trend analyses including 2010.

    Key findings and analyses include:
    * CO2 emissions grew 5.9% in 2010 to reach 9.1 GtC (33.5Gt CO2), overcoming a 1.4% decrease in CO2 emissions in 2009
    * Including land-use change and deforestation, in 2010 emissions reached 10.0 GtC (36.8 Gt CO2)
    * A comparison of the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis with other major economic crises
    * Update of CO2 emissions from both production and consumption in individual countries to 2010
    * As of 2009 developing countries now emit more than developed countries in terms of consumption, and China now emits more than the US in terms of consumption
    * Analysis of recent trends in emissions and the fossil fuel intensity of the global economy
    * An update of the key components in the global carbon budget to 2010

    A commentary/correspondence with the major findings has just been published online at Nature Climate Change

    The highlights, complete ppt with figures, datasets for download, and other related information is available at
    We hope that you find it useful.


    Glen Peters
    Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO)
    Postal Address: Pb. 1129 Blindern, N-0318 Oslo, Norway
    Visiting Address: Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
    Ph: +47 2285 8780
    Email: glen.peters@cicero.uio.no
    Web: http://www.cicero.uio.no/employees/homepage.aspx?person_id=1067&lang=EN
    ResearcherID: http://www.researcherid.com/rid/B-1012-2008

    Check it out…
    Carbon Budget: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1332, http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/index.htm
    CO2 Supply Chain: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/45/18554.abstract, http://supplychainco2.stanford.edu/
    Emisson Transfers: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/21/8903.abstract

  21. Jim D, don’t you think it’s a bit simplistic to just take the warming over a 30 year period, declare it all to be from co2, and to calculate it as such? What happened to aerosols? What happened to natural variability? At least if you take a longer time period to balance out short term natural variability and include factors that are known to exist but difficult to quantify such as aerosols, you at least make a legitimate attempt to calculate sensitivity. Here’s an example.


    • The paper makes the point that warming would be even greater had it not been for aerosols, so the calculation I gave is an estimate of CO2 sensitivity given that there are factors due to other GHGs and aerosols which oppose each other, and tend to cancel according to IPCC’s best estimate.
      Obviously natural variability can’t cause any long-term global trend unless you include solar variability which has been flat to downwards in this period.

    • That is also what Richard Muller just recently said in front of the congressional panel – the human attribution for AGW since 1960 could exceed 100%. That makes two interesting things he has said.

    • I agree. I have said on this blog for a while (you could find it probably a year ago in an attribution thread) that I think, of the 0.7 degree rise in the 20th century, 0.9 is from GHGs, 0.2 is solar and -0.4 is aerosols. This is an attribution of over 100%.

    • Jim – I think that’s basically right, although I’d put the net warming at about 0.8 C and add a small anthropogenic warming contribution from black carbon in both aerosol form and as deposits that reduce albedo. (Ramanathan has published several articles on black carbon aerosols. They exert albedo effects but these are outweighed by absorption of solar radiation that substantially warms the atmosphere and warms the surface to a smaller extent).

    • Fred, I would not argue. All the numbers I gave have uncertainties near 0.1 degrees in my opinion.

    • This is an informative graph that shows the positive and negative contributions. http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/forcings.gif

    • WHT – That’s a good reference; it resembles data found in Gregory and Forster 2008. The cooling aerosol contributions include both volcanic and anthropogenic aerosols, and I think that the latter did diminish in the 1980s and early 1990s (so-called “global brightening”), so that the failure of total aerosol cooling to change much, according to the figure, was due to a modest increase in the frequency of major volcanic emissions.

    • Jim D, aerosols have decreased in the last 30 years.If anything they would reduce your calculations not increase them. As far as solar, that depends on if we are going to argue for a high percentage of warming being transient or not to determine if the forcings from solar have gone negative. If they were far from achieving equilibrium than they wouldn’t have gone negative, they would just be closer to equilibrium than they were previously.

    • I am skeptical that aerosols have reduced much when fossil fuel burning has doubled in that period, but there was some evidence of brightening in the 90′s, possibly related to the Soviet collapse which reduced significant emissions there, and noting that aerosols are affected more by regional emission distributions.

    • Regional effects of emissions interests me. I searched for studies connecting emissions production to temperature anomalies and came up empty handed. Certainly we know where they are being produced and what the predominant path from the area of production they will take is? Why can’t we see a correlation between the source and the path and the temperature anomalies then? I don’t consider aerosols to be magical and yet their effects are treated as such, when in doubt spread the aerosols out. As far as if the reduction in aerosols is much or not, I can’t quantify much. I can only go by the observations which indicate they have been decreasing at least since the late 1980s. How much does it matter? I would assume a lot of that depends on how much negative forcing you wish to apply to them.


    • One would think that aerosols have decreased dramatically since say 1940 when there were few environmental controls and coal burning was widespread. The advent of oil actually I believe decreased coal consumption in the US anyway. Perhaps someone with more detailed knowledge can straighten me out on this. Anyway, I’m not sure we understand aerosols at all. We did have the dust bowl and tremendous levels of aerosols. We have volcanos. Anyway, I believe the error bars on current aerosol forcings are large and understanding is pretty low, even according to the IPCC.

      The simple fact of the matter is that current models with their IPCC quoted sensitivities REQUIRE large aerosol forcing to cancel about half of their greenhouse gas forced warming. This seems to me to be an area where increased resources and focus might lead to progress through actual measurements of things like solar insolation on the ground and its relationship to air pollution, etc.

      On a more philosophical note, Barbara Tuchman commented on the retirement of the last Tory Prime Minister before WWi (I forget his name) that “he knew there had been an ice age and there would be another” to explain why he retired. And thus ended the rule of the British gentlemen, and quite a good rule it had been. When one considers the end result was that clever trickster Lloyd George, one can reflect on how true this observation was. Climate will change in the future, probably not any faster than it has many times in the last million years. We will have to adapt and I’m sure we will. A warmer world is in a profound sense a more productive world than a world locked in an ice age.

  22. @lolwot

    Your post above Dec4 11:08pm:

    >What’s to say that wouldn’t have happened if CO2 hadn’t risen?<

    That's the sort of argument that drives me nuts – please stop persisting in challenging other people to prove negatives. This just reduces the credibility of your line to shreds

  23. ianl8888

    lolwot has a hard time grasping the fact that the correlation between atmospheric CO2 and “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” (HadCRUT3) is very poor.

    And where there is no robust correlation, the case for causation is extremely weak.

    Girma’s graphics show this very well.

    However, it is very likely true that increased atmospheric CO2 levels would theoretically cause some increase in global temperature, according to the greenhouse theory.

    The physical observations would suggest that this is of secondary importance to cyclical natural factors, many of which we do not yet fully understand.

    This is also very difficult for lolwot to grasp.

    Perhaps lolwot has been brainwashed by IPCC and its myopic fixation on human CO2 as the cause of all climate change…


  24. Michael Mann in today’s WSJ:

    “Our original work showed that average temperatures today are higher than they have been for at least the past 1,000 years. Since then, dozens of analyses from other scientists based on different data and methods have all affirmed and extended our original findings.”


    Wow. And we get all the name-calling, tobacco smears, and the rest — the full monty.

    Dr. Curry, do you think he is delusional or dishonest?

    • stan

      I can’t talk for Dr. Curry, but if you asked me I’d answer: “do I have to choose?”


    • There are actually two aspects. The first involves his views as they relate to science. As ‘interesting’ as they are (whew!), the second aspect may be even more so — how he can possibly think that a letter to the editor with all this garbage can buttress his credibility as a scientist.

  25. stan, Someone was directing MM. In whose NAME, were they doing this for their cause? They don’t say ‘who’ the NAME is in the emails…

  26. After reading this report in the news I believe we can all quit arguing and go find something else to be concerned about.

    Why, because the article makes it clear it is already too late to do anything. We are all doomed.


  27. At WUWT, Professor Robert Brown of Duke University writes a provocative essay entitled “FOIA is not enough. Why not legally mandate transparency in climate research? A modest proposal . . .“

    There seems to be a bad link in quotes above – back to a non-existent page in Climate Etc.

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